Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 15, 2022

in Antitrust, Books, Current Affairs, Environment, Immigration, Media, Podcast, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen, Trade

Here’s the wise conclusion of a superb new Wall Street Journal Editorial Board editorial about the Chinese economy:

[T]he key to its success is the energy and ingenuity of its people, not central planning and state subsidies. The strength of the U.S. system is free-market competition and a rule of law that allow innovation and the private allocation of capital. Washington won’t subsidize any more wisely than Beijing does.

And here’s another slice from the same WSJ editorial (link added):

Instead, the researchers found that Chinese subsidies may be vulnerable to special-interest politics and went to favored groups or to stabilize employment or industries in decline. “At the aggregate level,” the authors write, “subsidies seem to be allocated to less productive firms, and the relative productivity of firms’ receiving these subsidies appears to decline further after disbursement.”

Talk about myth busting. This should quell anxiety that Beijing’s state-directed allocation of capital is working for China, much less is a model for anyone else.

It’s no wonder that Reason‘s Peter Suderman wonders “why in the world is the FTC trying to lock Microsoft from buying Call of Duty?”

My GMU Econ colleague Garett Jones’s new book, The Culture Transplant: How Migrants Make the Economies They Move to A Lot Like the Ones They Left, is reviewed by GMU Econ alum Alex Nowrasteh.

The Leftist Capture of Journalism Continues Apace.”

“Imports Helped Alleviate the Formula Crisis. Why Are We About to Start Taxing Them Again?” – so asks Scott Lincicome.

GMU Econ alum Dan “Go Dawgs” Mitchell warns of the looming threat of “climate protectionism.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Chen Guangcheng applauds the Chinese people’s resistance to Beijing’s authoritarianism. A slice:

The Chinese Communist Party’s zero-Covid policy isn’t about controlling the virus. It’s about controlling the Chinese people. The white-paper or A4 protests, in which people hold up blank pages, became a visible expression of anger. The communist government announced some changes this past few days, including looser testing and dropping the mandatory Covid surveillance app on cellphones. But changes in the government’s Covid policy won’t eliminate the people’s rage.

The party has always viewed the Chinese people as its enemy. Its euphemistic slogan that it exists to “serve the people” would be better understood as “serve the party,” and the pandemic has been a major opportunity for the party to serve its interests. Reports suggest companies involved in zero Covid are making huge profits and have direct ties to high-level party officials or their families. This includes the companies that provide weekly tests for the 1.4 billion people in China, as well as those that have built and manage quarantine hospitals around the country.

Under zero Covid, the Chinese have been required to go to a testing site every few days. If one person waiting in line in a 20-person sample tests positive, those tested together could be suddenly forced on a bus to a quarantine center to stay for five days. Citizens might be sent to quarantine even if their 20-person sample was numerically adjacent to a positive sample set. If case numbers triggered the “all test each day” alert, then everyone in an area would be required to test every day. Entire apartment buildings and neighborhoods were sent off to quarantine without warning. And when people finally got home, they and their family had to remain in isolation another three days.

During that isolation, an electronic system was attached to the family’s doors, notifying pandemic-center workers anytime it opened. Any resistance led to the door being welded shut with no way to get out for food or to escape danger. (That’s how more than a dozen people died in the Nov. 24 fire in Urumqi that sparked the A4 protests.)

The incoming Chief Scientist for the World Health Organization is the British covidian Jeremy Farrar who, in late January 2020, tweeted “China is setting a new standard for outbreak response and deserves all our thanks.” [DBx: I say again, much of humanity went mad in early 2020 – mad with both disproportionate fear of a virus and with insufficient fear of the creation of a biosecurity state. Please note that my saying that humanity’s fear of covid was – and, for many people, remains – disproportionate is not my denying that covid is dangerous or that it is even much more dangerous than the flu. Instead, it is saying that the fear of covid was out of proportion – in fact, waaay out of proportion – to the risk posed by covid to the general population. Humanity’s deranged reaction to covid, although often encouraged by lab-coat wearing ‘scientific experts’ and their devoted, dogmatic choir of public intellectuals and social-media ‘fact-checkers,’ was in fact as scientific, as rational, and civilized, as socially productive, and as warranted as an Inquisition’s auto-da-fé. Some foolish people early on pleaded for governments to “go medieval” on covid. Well, most governments did so.]

David Henderson and Charley Hooper straighten out the record on ivermectin. A slice:

While the popular narrative is that the TOGETHER trial showed that ivermectin didn’t work for COVID-19, the actual results belie that conclusion: ivermectin was associated with a 12 percent lower risk of death, a 23 percent lower risk of mechanical ventilation, a 17 percent lower risk of hospitalization, and a 10 percent lower risk of extended ER observation or hospitalization. We have calculated that the probability that ivermectin helped the patients in the TOGETHER trial ranged from 26 percent for the median number of days to clinical recovery to 91 percent for preventing hospitalization. The TOGETHER trial’s results should be reported accurately.

Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson is correct: “We are now living through the dire consequences of lockdown.” A slice:

We are now living through the consequences of a purblind pursuit of restrictions that has beggared our economy for a generation and overwhelmed healthcare to the point that an elderly man with a broken hip is told that no ambulance is coming, ever. We [Brits] can barely call ourselves a civilised country, yet the most public advocates of that ruinous policy have the cheek to suggest that, next time, we could lock down even harder.

How quickly we forget. This time last year, the champions of Covid restrictions were agitating for another Christmas lockdown. Ignoring the good news from South Africa about the milder Omicron variant, various professors opined that “Plan B restrictions do not go far enough”. Only a principled exit by Lord (David) Frost from the Cabinet and a hundred Tory MPs suddenly rediscovering a spine prevented more carnage.

Speaking of Allison Pearson, she and her Planet Normal podcast co-host Liam Halligan talk with Jay Bhattacharya.

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