Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on November 30, 2022

in Budget Issues, Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, History, Media, Movies, Philosophy of Freedom, Trade

Phil Magness summarizes his and Michael Makovi’s finding that Karl Marx’s fame owes much to Lenin’s ‘successful’ Bolshevik revolution. A slice:

In the paper, we use Google Ngram and a separate newspaper database to track textual mentions of Karl Marx’s name over time. Our major finding is that the Soviet revolution of 1917 essentially revitalized Marx’s reputation by turning him into a household name.

By comparison to his post-1917 citations, Marx was a relatively obscure figure at the time of his death in 1883. In the decades that followed, Marx was primarily known among other radical socialist activists (usually as the leader of one of many contesting factions in the socialist world) or for when the mainstream of the economics profession rebutted his arguments about the Labor Theory of Value. For example, Philip Wicksteed, Alfred Marshall, and Eugen von Boehm-Bawerk penned marginalist critiques of Marx’s system in the late 19th century. Their dissections of his system struck a devastating blow, effectively rendering Marxian economics obsolete by the turn of the century.

Ilya Somin, from over in GMU’s Scalia School of Law, explains that “nationalism, not hostility towards elites, is the main divide between libertarians and the ‘New Right.'” A slice:

For that matter, I think [Tyler] Cowen understates the extent of libertarian/classical liberal hostility to various elites. It’s true that most libertarians don’t regard political elites as “totally hopeless” and believe those elites might have some useful function. But most of us also believe that elite power should be much more tightly constrained than is presently the case, which is one reason why we favor radical reductions in the power of government. In one sense, libertarians are actually more anti-elitist than New Rightists. Instead of seeking to replace one set of overmighty elites with another, we advocate severe restrictions on the power of government, regardless of which elites happen to be in power at the time.

Doug Irwin speaks this afternoon at the University of Rochester.

Here’s more from Bryan Caplan on the important work being done by Alex Epstein.

Jonathan Bydlak explains that “Biden’s spending spree is unprecedented.”

Pierre Lemieux writes wisely about totalitarian regimes – and western responses to them. A slice:

Incidentally, it is somewhat misleading to describe China as “the world’s second-largest” economy, as the Wall Street Journal and many others do. This is true only as far as total GDP is concerned because there are so many individuals living in China. But each of them has a relatively low productivity, so that GDP per capita or standard of living is low. On the basis of GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (IMF data), China comes at the 90th rank of 220 countries, between Belarus and Thailand.

It is true that leviathans like the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean states finance themselves out of the total production of all their subjects. Especially with nuclear weapons, they represent a security risk for other individuals in the world; I think that they would even be dangerously to an anarchic society if such a society ever exists. But trying to become like “them” in order to protect us against them provides only an illusion of security.

Protectionism is one big step in this fool’s errand, at least when an actual war is not raging.

Sam Staley loves Stephen Spielberg’s The Fabelmans.

Martin Gurri waves goodbye to CNN.

Writing at UnHerd, Thomas Fazi warns of the “biostate.” A slice:

What’s worse, it is now clear that Covid vaccines have a limited impact on transmission, which means that the original rationale for vaccine passports — that of creating “Covid-free spaces” and reducing the spread of the virus — was largely unfounded. It’s hard to see how the G20 leaders could describe this as a “success”, unless vaccine passports were not just a means to an end — mass vaccination — but also, and perhaps even more importantly, an end in and of themselves. It’s no secret that tech companies saw Covid passports as the gateway to all-encompassing digital IDs.

“China’s lockdown strategy was aimed at helping a new Mao consolidate power” – so writes Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins. A slice:

Mr. Xi, since Wuhan, has known such a moment of truth was coming. The Chinese see millions elsewhere shaking off Covid like it’s no worse than the flu or a cold. They see foreign hospitals able to provide attentive care to the relative few who need it. On their TVs, they see joyous fans from every corner of the world mingling at the World Cup without masks or paralyzing fear of a virus.

To understand what’s going on, finally put aside the image of Chinese regime supercompetence in which pundits have long indulged. China scholar Perry Link should have buried this delusion with a sentence 13 years ago: “The Communist Party credits itself with ‘lifting millions from poverty,’ but it is more accurate to say that the millions have lifted the Party.”

A dictatorial, power-monopolizing regime benefited immensely from the productive and entrepreneurial energy of the Chinese people after removing its foot from their neck. But Mr. Xi’s program now is to stop any more progress if that’s what it takes to the keep the Communist Party in control and him at the top.

He never believed he was saving China from Covid, which he knew was an unrealistic goal. He was using zero-Covid to delay the virus’s passage through Chinese society until he could insulate himself behind a Mao-like position of dominance.

(DBx: The world should never forget that the mad, reckless, and hypocritical ‘scientist’ Neil Ferguson admitted being inspired by China’s covidian tyranny.)

David Stockman calls for the investigation of, and shaming of, powerful covidians. Two slices:

And that starts with the Donald. Had he had even a minimal regard for constitutional liberties and free market principles he would never have empowered the Virus Patrol and the resulting tyranny they erected virtually overnight. Indeed, his embrace of “two weeks to flatten the curve” was the original evil in the entire ordeal. It alone should disqualify him for the GOP nomination in 2024, even as it elevates the courageous governor of Florida to the top of what surely will be a large heap of candidates.

In this context, the one thing we learned during our days in the vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is that any president, at any moment in time, and with respect to any issue of public import, has call on the best experts in the nation, including those who might disagree with each other vehemently. Yet the record makes clear that in the early days of the pandemic—when the Virus Patrol’s terrible regime was being launched—that the Donald was entirely passive, making no effort at all to consult experts outside of the narrow circle of power-hungry government apparatchiks ( Fauci, Birx, Collins, Adams) who were paraded into the Oval Office by his meretricious son-in-law.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, in fact, there were legions of pedigreed epidemiologists and other scientists—many of whom later signed the Great Barrington Declaration—who correctly held that viruses cannot be extinguished via draconian quarantines and other clumsy one-size-fits-all public health interventions; and that when it came to coronaviruses in particular, it was doubtful whether even vaccines—which had never been successful with coronaviruses—could defeat the latter’s natural propensity to mutate and spread.


Compared to the pre-Covid norm recorded in 2019, the age-adjusted risk of death in America during 2020 went up from 0.71% to 0.84%. In humanitarian terms, that’s unfortunate but it does not even remotely bespeak a mortal threat to societal function and survival and therefore a justification for the sweeping control measures and suspensions of both liberty and common sense that actually happened.

This fundamental mortality fact—the “science” in bolded letters if there is such a thing—totally invalidates the core notion behind the Fauci policy that was sprung upon our deer-in-the-headlights president stumbling around the Oval Office in early March 2020.

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

By violating basic principles of public health, university and science leaders messed up so bad during the pandemic that they need to step down and let others come in and clean up the mess they created. Only way to restore integrity of the scientific community.

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