Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 7, 2022

in Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, History, Legal Issues, Media, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen, The Economy

Phil Magness and James Harrigan have read the transcript of the recent deposition of Fauci. A slice:

That said, the email records we do possess contain ample evidence of Fauci’s involvement in the “take down” order [of the Great Barrington Declaration], plainly contradicting his sworn deposition. In those emails we see [Francis] Collins colluding with Anthony Fauci (while fantastically CCing Lawrence Tabak, Deputy Ethics Counselor at NIH) to craft talking points against the GBD in the media. Behind the scenes, we see them working with Deborah Birx to keep the GBD off of the White House COVID Task Force agenda. And we see Fauci’s instructions to [Greg] Folkers to assemble a list of media op-eds attacking the GBD, with the apparent intent of parroting them back to the very same press as official talking points from the NIH.

Laurie Wastell deplores the hypocrisy: “Many of those now praising the anti-lockdown protesters in China were all too quick to demonise those in the UK.” A slice:

The recent anti-lockdown protests in China have rightly drawn reams of media coverage and praise in Britain. The bravery of the protesters has been widely acknowledged, as has the tyranny of China’s lockdown regime.

Last week, the protests were hailed by the Guardian as the stirrings of democracy – deserving of our ‘admiration and support’. The BBC approvingly profiled the ‘young people powering the demonstrations’. The Sunday Times similarly praised the ‘bravery’ of the protest movement in the face of a brutal state crackdown. And quite right, too. These protesters are indeed courageous freedom fighters.

Yet many of the publications, politicians and pundits now praising the Chinese protesters are hardly the greatest friends of freedom. After all, they were among the loudest cheerleaders for the UK’s brand of Covid authoritarianism. And as well as curtailing every other aspect of our lives, the Covid regime in the UK also involved cracking down on protests – particularly, it seemed, those against the lockdown.

Most pundits ignored or even actively supported the suppression of protests in Britain in 2020 and 2021. Protests against the lockdown became larger and more frequent as the months dragged on during the pandemic. And the policing of these protests became increasingly zealous, too.

During England’s second lockdown in November 2020, the police made hundreds of arrests at multiple demonstrations. In one video, a pensioner was shown being bundled into the back of a van. At another protest, journalist Laura Dodsworth was shouted at and interrogated by police simply for taking pictures while reporting on the protest for spiked. Hundreds of officers in riot gear were dispatched to deal with these protests. The police made over 150 arrests at one demo alone.

Many of the protesters were severely punished. Piers Corbyn (brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy) was issued with a £10,000 fine for organising an anti-lockdown rally, on the grounds that it was attended by more than 30 people. He was questioned for 10 hours by police. You don’t have to agree with anything the conspiratorial Corbyn brother says to find his punishment shocking.

Worse still, there was barely a peep of dissent against this authoritarianism from the mainstream media.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper in the BMJ’s Journal of Medical Ethics by Kevin Bardosh, Allison Krug, Euzebiusz Jamroz, Trudo Lemmens, Salmaan Keshavjee, Vinay Prasad, Marty A Makary, Stefan Baral, and Tracy Beth Høeg:

In 2022, students at North American universities with third-dose COVID-19 vaccine mandates risk disenrolment if unvaccinated. To assess the appropriateness of booster mandates in this age group, we combine empirical risk-benefit assessment and ethical analysis. To prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation over a 6-month period, we estimate that 31 207–42 836 young adults aged 18–29 years must receive a third mRNA vaccine. Booster mandates in young adults are expected to cause a net harm: per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented, we anticipate at least 18.5 serious adverse events from mRNA vaccines, including 1.5–4.6 booster-associated myopericarditis cases in males (typically requiring hospitalisation). We also anticipate 1430–4626 cases of grade ≥3 reactogenicity interfering with daily activities (although typically not requiring hospitalisation). University booster mandates are unethical because they: (1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms. We consider counterarguments including efforts to increase safety on campus but find these are fraught with limitations and little scientific support. Finally, we discuss the policy relevance of our analysis for primary series COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Robert Bryce scolds BP for planning to stop publishing that company’s Statistical Review of World Energy. A slice:

Reuters recently reported that energy giant BP is “considering ending the publication of its Statistical Review of World Energy, over 70 years after it first published the benchmark report.” The reason? The report’s numbers are supposedly undermining the company’s rhetoric about its pursuit of alternative energy. To give in to such claims and cancel the Statistical Review—one of the most reliable energy resources in the world—would be an egregious mistake.

The review is a benchmark report. No other entity, corporate or public, publishes such a wide variety of data. Because the Statistical Review is published in spreadsheet form, its data can be easily used to detect and illustrate trends in everything from coal use in Vietnam (it’s soaring) to the electricity generated annually by America’s nuclear reactors (it’s falling).

I look at the review almost daily, as do many people in the media, energy and government sectors. That BP would even consider halting publication—the cost of which amounts to decimal dust amid the company’s 2021 revenue of $164 billion—shows how a huge company can be cowed by fashion and fleeting political considerations.

The (thankfully now defunct) U.S.S.R. was created 100 years ago this month, and Will Sellars details some reasons why this centenary isn’t celebrated.

Cockburn wonders why the New York Times should care that one of its unproductive ‘reporters’ will join a strike against it.

David Boaz wonders why so many people who should know better continue to misstate the legal question being considered in web-designer case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Writing at National Review, my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, describes today’s world as “bizarro.” A slice:

But even if Europeans didn’t subsidize their green-energy industry, they wouldn’t be hurt by the idiotic U.S. policy that subsidizes some companies at the expense of all the others (and of taxpayers). Such subsidies shift capital away from more efficient investments towards the politically favored ones. We have understood this reality about subsidies since the time of Adam Smith, but there was unfortunately little supporting empirical evidence. Such evidence is now, fortunately, pouring in.

A recent paper in this category, by Lee Branstetter, Guangwei Li, and Mengjia Ren, is titled “Picking Winners? Government Subsidies and Firm Productivity in China.” The authors examine the extensive array of subsidy programs in China — the existence of which is the excuse many U.S. legislators use for supporting similar American subsidies — and their impacts on the productivity of subsidized firms.

Also expressing justified skepticism of industrial policy is James Pethokoukis.

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