≡ Menu

Some Links

George Will – inspired in part by GMU law professor David Bernstein’s new book, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classifications in America – laments that there is no complete separation of race and state. A slice:

In 1977, to facilitate gathering racial and ethnic data, the government promulgated racial and ethnic categories, but stipulated that they should not be “determinants of eligibility for participation in any federal program.” This was promptly ignored, and has been exacerbated by the American tradition of self-identification.

Soon a scramble was on to win victim status, and to deny that status to groups which, if they clambered aboard the gravy train, would leave less gravy for the supposedly more deserving. Some classifications are racial (e.g., Black). Hispanic is cultural, and capacious enough to include South Americans of German descent and Ted Williams, whose mother was Mexican. The geographic classification “Asian” assumes that Vietnamese and Pakistanis are somehow akin.

Jonathan Leaf recommends Peter Wood’s demolition of the 1619 Project. Two slices:

In August 2019, the New York Times magazine published the “1619 Project.” This series of essays and articles provided readers with many “facts” that they may not have known: that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery; that Abraham Lincoln was a racist; that America’s foundational premise was “slavocracy;” that present-day American wealth is a direct consequence of slavery; and that the essential pattern of our history is not one of unprecedented growth in freedom and democracy but institutional hatred and oppression of blacks.

If you were unfamiliar with these facts, there is good reason—none are true. As National Association of Scholars president Peter W. Wood reveals in 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project, the larger purpose of the Times’s project appears to have been to promote racial grievances and resentment. Most damningly, Wood points out that a Times fact-checker who contacted a radical historian to weigh the claim that the revolution was fought to protect slavery was told that this was nonsense. But the paper ignored that input, and 1619’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, herself recently said that the project was not intended to serve as history (after nearly a year of claiming the opposite).

Wood’s 1620 is an extraordinary book. Readers looking for a polemic should be forewarned: it is a learned and thoughtful investigation of the topic, and Wood goes to considerable lengths to give a hearing to Hannah-Jones’s assertions. In doing so, he systematically demolishes all but one of them.


The New York Times, so dogged in refusing to admit error, remains bedeviled by a mix of arrogance, entitlement, and radicalism. Its management understands that the paper’s revenue increasingly comes not from middle-of-the-road advertisers but from online subscriptions, most of which come from committed leftists. Thus, like MSNBC, the Times now pursues radical messaging for financial reasons, which precludes journalistic objectivity as a guiding light. The New York Times’s motives, in other words, appear to be as much mercenary as devotional. This dynamic is likely contributing to the paper’s obstinacy about the errors of the 1619 Project, notwithstanding the damage it is doing to our educational system and even to the fabric of our democracy.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy calls for an end to the child tax credit. A slice:

These problems are not unique to the extended child tax credit. In fact, the child tax credit itself has mostly been a failure since its inception in 1997. It has consistently failed to deliver on its promise of reducing child poverty. None of the many expansions since then have succeeded, either.

In a recent piece for The Wall Street Journal, economist Scott Hodge described how the whole debacle began as a result of his floating the idea of a child tax credit in 1993. He writes, “The ‘put money in people’s pockets’ approach of the child tax credit might have been good politics, but 25 years’ experience shows it was bad policy.”

A massive expansion of the credit, along with the lack of work requirements and the cash payments, would add significantly to the problem. In fact, most studies that forecast a significant reduction in child poverty due to the expanded version do not account for the many potential short-term work disincentives embedded in it.

Laurie Wastell is correct: “Safetyism is a menace to family life.”

Brendan O’Neill applauds Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s stirring warnings of cancel culture’s “unconscionable barbarism.”

Tom Slater applauds the “incredible courage of the Chinese protesters” against covidian tyranny.

Guy Sorman explains that “the popular uprisings over Xi Jinping’s Zero Covid policy illustrate the limits common to all authoritarian regimes.” A slice:

Will the certain failure of the Zero Covid strategy, along with the economic stagnation that it produces and the continuing popular rebellions, motivate Xi to “reform” the system, to ease up on the pressure? Certainly not. Another thing the Chinese leaders have learned from the fall of the USSR is that the public will perceive any reform as an admission of weakness. Tocqueville in his day wrote, concerning the French Revolution, that an authoritarian regime is never so fragile as at the moment that it considers reform; this was true for absolute monarchy, for Gorbachev’s Russia, and it would be true if Xi admitted his mistakes. One might object that Xi’s predecessor Deng Xiaoping restored land to the peasants and authorized private enterprises in 1979. But Deng, unlike Xi, enjoyed the legitimacy of a founder, alongside Mao Zedong and the popular Republic. In any case, we should recall the limits of Deng’s reformism: when the students of Beijing demanded democracy in 1989 in Tiananmen Square, they were crushed, by his order.

J.D. Tuccille writes that “China’s covid lockdowns once inspired western officials; they should listen to protesters instead.” A slice:

And it wasn’t that long ago—July of 2022—that Fauci told Reason‘s Robby Soave he would recommend “much, much more stringent restrictions” if he could go back in time to redo America’s COVID-19 response.

In fact, before their current public dismay at what China’s pandemic policy has wrought, public health professionals often showed signs of envy at Beijing’s ability to impose tough measures.

“In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history,” fawned a February 2020 World Health Organization report on the country’s COVID-19 response. “China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic.”

“These extreme limitations on population movement have been quite successful,” insisted Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Minnesota, in a March 2020 assessment of China’s response (he became more skeptical of the approach with the appearance of Omicron).

And while Western countries rarely went so far as China’s total lockdowns, to the significant extent that schools and businesses were closed, movement curtailed, and life disrupted, much of the inspiration for such policies came from the allegedly successful Chinese model.

“They claimed to have flattened the curve. I was skeptical at first. I thought it was a massive cover-up by the Chinese. But as the data accrued it became clear it was an effective policy,” Professor Neil Ferguson, the U.K.’s counterpart to Fauci until he violated his own rules and resigned in disgrace, told The Times of London in December 2020. “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought. And then Italy did it. And we realized we could.” (unpaywalled summary here.)

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

Lockdowns are anti-science