Eugyppius writes about the zero-covid hell that is today’s China: “With no vaccines to save them and very little exposure to Omicron, the Chinese have embarked upon an indefinite dystopia of masking, testing, mass surveillance and periodic lockdowns – all for nothing.”
Asserting that a vaccine stops disease transmission when it does not stop transmission is anti-science.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a splash this summer by running ads in Florida that claimed “freedom is under attack in your state.” The ads should have aired in his own state, which is the land of lockdowns and mask mandates. And under a new state law, doctors may even be punished for disputing the government’s public-health orthodoxy.
These experts are often wrong and loath to admit it, as we learned with pandemic government lockdowns. Yet California Democrats last month enacted legislation that empowers the state medical board to discipline doctors licensed in the state who “disseminate misinformation or disinformation” that contradicts the “contemporary scientific consensus.”
The law grants the board broad discretion to define the scientific consensus and misinformation. Yet seven of the board’s 15 members, who are appointed by the Governor and state lawmakers, aren’t even physicians. The president is an environmental attorney. Another runs a life coaching company.
A lawsuit filed last week by two doctors makes a strong argument that California’s law violates their First Amendment speech rights and is unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth Amendment. Even Mr. Newsom seemed to concede this by attaching a statement to his signature on the bill directing the board to punish only “those egregious instances in which a licensee is acting with malicious intent or clearly deviating from the required standard of care while interacting directly with a patient under their care.”
Yet the law isn’t narrowly tailored, and doctors have no way of knowing what will land them in the dock. It will chill discussions between patients and physicians. Doctors who want to be free to practice medicine can follow Dr. [Joseph] Ladapo to Florida.
Under this standard, gig workers would probably have to be reclassified as payroll employees. This would reduce worker flexibility and disrupt business models, which explains Tuesday’s selloff in Uber (-10.4%) and Lyft (-12%) shares. The proposed rule has the potential to sweep broadly and could cover most corners of the economy.
Newspaper columnists, truck drivers, real estate agents, barbers, consultants and many other freelancers could be ensnared. The Administration is proving it’s an equal-opportunity jobs killer.
The protectionists’ history, however, like their ideal economy, is distorted. Today’s protectionist agenda is not Hamiltonian but Chamberlainite. Part of the problem is that, in an era of persistent deficit spending and global trade agreements, it can be hard for contemporary Americans to understand the nature of the trade debate at the time of the Founding. For instance, one of the tariff’s most important roles was funding the government. Though the Constitution authorized the federal government to raise revenue, political realities severely constrained its options. Americans in outlying regions tended to revolt when they felt that their tax burden was too high, as in Shays’ Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. Tariffs were generally regarded as a less politically explosive option than excise taxes.
Slaveholders took both sides of the tariff issue for most of the antebellum period. Northern manufacturers like Frances Lowell partnered with southerners to pass tariffs, such as the 1816 bill that protected Lowell’s cheap textiles but offered Britain an opening to devastate Lowell’s higher-quality competitors in Rhode Island. In other words, early protectionism was designed to drive American manufacturing down the value chain. Southern Whigs, particularly the Louisiana sugar barons who were among the wealthiest people in the country, generally supported high tariffs. Henry Clay, himself a slaveholder, proposed the “American system” of high tariffs and federal infrastructure spending. He also happened to endorse high tariffs on commodities such as hemp, which had no strategic significance but was grown on his estate.
American protectionism’s high-water mark came with the aptly named 1828 “Tariff of Abominations.” Andrew Jackson’s political allies crafted the bill to win the loyalty of the commodity-producing Midwest, not to boost manufacturers in New England. There may have been an economic rationale for protecting “infant industries,” such as high-quality textiles or strategic resources like shipping, but the bill’s duties on raw materials, including iron, hemp, and wool, were designed to amass votes, not wealth.
Jackson’s subsequent presidential victory set the country on a three-decade trend of relatively low tariffs and small government, and the country prospered. According to economic historians at the Maddison Project, American GDP surpassed Great Britain’s in 1862. Their work is more of an estimate than an exact calculation, but it suggests that the U.S. economy caught up with Britain’s during the antebellum period or shortly thereafter. Hamilton’s subsidy-heavy “Report on Manufacturers” and Clay’s protectionist “American system” could not have had anything to do with this remarkable growth, since neither were enacted.
[DBx: Until the enactment during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson of the modern personal income tax, the U.S. government depended heavily for revenue on customs duties. This dependence on tariffs for revenue put a natural constraint on the government’s willingness to raise tariffs generally to protectionist levels. The fact that throughout the 19th century considerations other than revenue were on the table in Washington is, of course, true. But never can it have been the case that the reductions in government revenue caused by protectionism were inoperative in the minds of members of pre-modern-income-tax Congresses.]