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AIER’s Samuel Gregg talks with my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, about the condition of liberalism in America.

Also from Samuel Gregg is this argument that business schools should stop teaching ESG ‘investing.’ Two slices:

One of ESG’s many difficulties, however, is that its goals and methods are characterized by an incoherence sufficient to call into question not just specific features of ESG but the conceptual integrity of the entire ESG endeavor. Another ESG problem is its tendency to blur ethics and sound business practices with the promotion of particular political causes. This mindset has spilled over into the outlook of financial regulators, and consequently threatens to facilitate widespread dysfunctionality in these agencies’ operations. Lastly, the adoption of ESG risks corroding understanding of the nature and proper ends of commercial enterprises—a development that has broader and negative implications for society as a whole.


Or take ESG’s stress on diversity. ESG materials do not present diversity as a species of pluralism, understood as individuals, associations, and communities in a given society living out their freedoms in different ways while being bound together by some common commitments and obligations. Nor is it about promoting individuality. Instead, diversity reflects the idea that, as Peter Wood relates in Diversity: The Invention of a Concept, everyone is defined by membership in social groups and is largely the product of such groups’ collective experiences. That draws attention away from two things: first, our common human nature and the essential equality of all humans qua humans derived from that; and second, the idea that all of us are as much individuals as we are social beings and thus shouldn’t be boxed into particular unchanging and unchangeable categories, whether by custom or law.

Roger Koppl and GMU Econ alum Abigail Devereaux write informatively on disinformation. Here’s their conclusion:

[Sen. Ed] Markey’s march on Musk is being conducted under that banner of fighting “disinformation.” But his real motives are not hard to guess. Diving is deception. And the good (at diving) Senator Markey’s pretense of fighting disinformation is deception. His goal is to decide for you what you are to believe. If he can to that, he gets to stay in power. “Disinformation” is an empty word and a bogus bogey held up to hide this dishonorable end. The first and highest freedom is freedom of speech. We must not let them take it from us. We should honor those who gave their last full measure of devotion to defend freedom by fighting for freedom from domestic oppression, including Senator Markey’s assault on free speech. Let the blue checks fall where they may.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Eugene Volokh – founder of the blog “The Volokh Conspiracy” – exposes the pretense and folly of a New York State statute that, as Volokh describes it, “requires social-media networks, including any site that allows comments, to publish a plan for responding to alleged hate speech by users.” A slice:

The Supreme Court has carved out several narrow categories of unprotected speech, but hate speech isn’t one of them. Speech is protected except in the case of fighting words, true threats, defamation or incitement, and these exceptions are applied without regard to whether the speech in question is hateful. The court has wisely recognized that each of us has a different idea of what constitutes good or bad speech—and we can’t trust the government to decide which viewpoints are too hateful to merit legal protection.

But that’s not stopping New York from trying. The new law would force me to act on the state’s disdain for online speech that someone, somewhere believes can “vilify, humiliate, or incite violence against” groups based on protected class, even if that speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Does speech by Richard Dawkins comparing George W. Bush’s faith to that of Osama bin Laden’s vilify conservative Christians? Does speech condemning trans athletes who join women’s sports teams vilify or humiliate based on gender identity? Do harsh criticisms of Israelis or Palestinians vilify those groups? Do some feminist comments criticizing patriarchy humiliate men? Can your comment on any of the blogs, news sites or social-media platforms swept up in New York’s law be defined as hateful conduct?

Nobody knows. But New York is imposing legal obligations on me and other platforms to pressure us to censor such speech. And though the New York law doesn’t itself require the removal of such speech, that may be the ultimate goal. Such censorship fits neatly within Attorney General Letitia James’s recent report that calls for sweeping regulations compelling further restrictions on speech the state considers hateful.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board wisely applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case challenging Biden’s unilateral ‘forgiveness’ of student-loan debt. A slice:

President Biden has tried to pull a constitutional trick for the ages by ordering the forgiveness of up to $20,000 per borrower on his own authority. Congress had given the executive no such power, as even Mr. Biden had previously noted.

But an election loomed, Democrats looked to be in trouble, and in August the President declared one of the greatest vote-buying exercises of all time. The Education Department located a heretofore obscure corner of the 2003 Heroes Act that supposedly justified mass loan cancellations owing to the Covid emergency. It’s a classic example of a political need in rampaging search of a legal excuse.

Also applauding the courts’ refusal to look the other way as Biden attempts to rule like a despotic monarch is Charles Cooke.

Arnold Kling identifies one of the many differences separating Jeff Bezos from Sam Backman-Fried. A slice:

For several years after Amazon was founded, I was a Jeff Bezos skeptic. My line was that for Amazon to compete with Wal-Mart, Amazon had to master logistics. For Wal-Mart to compete with Amazon, Wal-Mart just needed a web site.

To my surprise, Amazon was able to master logistics before Wal-Mart figured out online sales. And along the way, Amazon was able to master cloud computing as well. It is a remarkable story.

Juliette Sellgren talks with Dartmouth’s Hank Clark about Montesquieu.

Fraser Myers reports that “the grand folly of lockdown is coming home to roost.” A slice:

Although seeking healthcare was allowed under lockdown, there is no doubt that many who needed treatment, and who could have accessed it at the time, were reluctant or afraid to do so. After all, the public were ordered, in no uncertain terms, to ‘stay at home’. To stay at home or face arrest. To stay at home or get infected. To stay at home or kill granny. Back in October 2020, then health secretary Matt Hancock issued a stark warning to cancer sufferers: accessing treatment would be contingent on everyone obeying the rules. He said this when hospitals had plenty of spare capacity, with only around 3,000 Covid patients across all English hospitals at the time (at the peak of the second wave, more Covid patients would be admitted every single day). Even when there were lulls in the pandemic, the government’s priority was managing Covid. Other health issues came a distant second.

To see the folly of the UK’s approach, you just have to look at Sweden, which had no lockdown and far lighter restrictions. As a cancer surgeon pointed out in the Spectator last year, the difference in access to cancer services was astonishing. Taking prostate cancer as an example, during the first wave in 2020, the number of patients undergoing prostatectomies fell by 43 per cent in Britain, but by just three per cent in Sweden. Such a stark gap cannot simply be blamed on the virus. Lockdown is the difference here.

Perhaps the most obvious impact of lockdown has been on the economy, where a new grim milestone is surpassed every month. Shops, restaurants, offices and factories were shuttered for months on end in 2020 and 2021. Vast swathes of the economy were either mothballed or severely disrupted – far more by state-enforced restrictions than by the pandemic itself. The lockdowns of 2020 resulted in the UK’s worst recession in the history of industrial capitalism – a fall in economic output not seen since the Great Frost of 1709.

Aaron Kheriaty decries “the evil of coerced medicine.”

Niall McCrae is correct:

How do you know when politicians are lying? When they are signalling virtue. As the last three years has shown, their supposed liberal values are a façade, masking a self-serving and authoritarian outlook. Unless useful to their career, they are not really interested in the wants and needs of ordinary people. They want to be seen as progressive and compassionate, but by performance rather than by principles and practice. Our corrupt mainstream media do their bidding.

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

After censoring accurate covid information, while promoting incorrect information, it is wise of @Twitter to stop pretending to know more about covid than infectious disease epidemiologists.