Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 17, 2022

in Country Problems, Current Affairs, Debt and Deficits, Education, Immigration, Media, Risk and Safety, Trade, Work

George Will writes about the new University of Austin in Texas. A slice:

This is a familiar adage: If you don’t like the news, go make some. The news from academia is embarrassing — intellectual fads, political hysterias, the hunting of heretics. So, with substantial financial assistance and guidance from some tech entrepreneurs and others, [Pano] Kanelos — like Thomas Jefferson, sort of — is creating UATX as an alternative.

On the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, Laura Williams rightly criticizes the CHIPS Act. A slice:

COVID-related shutdowns in Taiwanese factories caused noticeable dips in global supply, at a time when people all over the world, forced to work and entertain themselves from home, were ordering new electronics. Like manufacturers of many other goods, chipmakers and end-users scaled back production, anticipating depressed sales. But demand unexpectedly boomed.

Politicians rushed to (be seen to) reinforce American manufacturing, both as a matter of strategic output (production of goods domestically) and of employment (millions of workers employed in industries that could be shut down by supply shocks). The near-invitable subsidy bill was the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (a backronym for Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America).

Chip fabrication plants require long lead times to build (up to five years) and cost billions of dollars. The less-sophisticated plants that make less-sophisticated chips have lower profit margins, and the most sophisticated ones are not only staggeringly costly to construct, but to run and staff.

American companies didn’t need Washington’s encouragement to bring manufacturing back from the outsourcing enthusiasm of the 1990s. American-born companies were already investing in chip production on US soil. Industry-leading Micron Tech broke ground on a $15 billion new plant in September, near its 40-year headquarters in Boise, Idaho. In January, eight months before the CHIPS Act’s signing, California-based Intel announced what may be the world’s largest chip fabrication facility on 1,000 acres of suburban Ohio.

American chip designers are independently motivated to reclaim semiconductor manufacturing from the dominance (and potential volatility) of Asian suppliers, now that the unseen costs of offshoring’s savings can be acutely felt. Chip designers’ reinvestment preceded any such government signal, and its budget for that factory alone dwarfs the CHIPS Act’s investment. Still, future campaigns will be quick to claim credit for revitalizing the industry.

Mustafa Akyol – using as evidence his country of Turkey – explains that “‘Democracy’ without Liberty Leads to Tyranny.” A slice:

Which proves all the concerns about “illiberal democracy” quite right. The latter is a simply electoral democracy that is devoid of political liberalism—with pillars such as freedom of speech, rule of law, and judicial independence. Without such guardrails, democracy can simply devolve into the tyranny of the majority, embodied in the whimsical rule of a strongman—which is exactly what Turkey is today.

David Bier is correct: What makes crossing U.S. borders illegal is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Here’s his conclusion:

As important as the legal implications are, the political implications are just as important. If these entries are legal, it removes the most significant rhetorical tool for opponents of immigration. DHS has the power to change the story about the border from one of chaos and illegality to one of orderliness and legality, and its refusal to do so leads to greater hostility to immigrants and feeds into misguided “invasion” narratives around immigration. DHS should stop blocking asylum seekers and create a process for legal entry to the United States.

“Work not welfare is key to escaping poverty” – so argues Michael Tanner. A slice:

Scott Lincicome’s new book, Empowering the New American Worker, is focused, unsurprisingly, on American workers. However, my chapter in this book is, in fact, focused on those who are not working—or at least not working as much as necessary to help them escape poverty. Specifically, I raise concerns about the ways in which the modern welfare state can discourage work, savings, and family formation.

Households in or near poverty that receive assistance often face marginal effective tax rates that are counterproductive, deterring work effort or putting a low ceiling on how much these families can increase their standard of living. In those cases, much of each additional dollar earned is clawed back through higher taxes or reduced benefits.

This reality alone (reported by Eric Boehm) is enough to disprove the notion that the U.S. government is more responsible than are – and takes a longer-run view than do – markets.

Jay Bhattacharya, talking with UnHerd‘s Freddie Sayers, tells what he learned at Twitter HQ.

Eugyppius rightly ridicules a recent New York Times report that encourages continued masking to protect against the covid monster. Two slices:

I can’t stop laughing at this hilarious New York Times article on ‘Why It’s Time to Wear A Mask Again’. The generally excellent Vinay Prasad already caught them citing as “strong evidence” for mask efficacy, this study, which fails to find that masks have any significant effect on rates of influenza infection. Just link to anything and hope nobody notices, Times bros.

…..

The poor pandemic faithful started out masking to save the lives of the elderly and vulnerable, but now they find themselves in an unending hygiene prison from which the only escape, is admitting that they’ve behaved like fools for the past three years. If they can’t do that, a bleak future awaits them, of persisting as the solitary idiotic masker in the grocery store and on the train, of demanding all their acquaintances produce negative tests before they’re allowed to come to any party, and, above all, of never being able to relax around other people. How living like this is better than occasional virus infections, nobody can explain.

Zac Bissonnette tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

The number of astonishingly embarrassing COVID data corrections the NYT science reporter makes is amazing

About the most fundamental issues of the topic

It would be like if their star hockey reporter repeatedly had to correct pieces to note that hockey doesn’t have 11 periods

Vinay Prasad tweets: (HT Martin Kulldorff)

In the last 6 mo, ID docs, ER docs, Pediatricians & Bone marrow transplant doctors all had huge conferences with no masks in sight

Meanwhile, a hard of hearing elderly woman hospitalized is not allowed to see the lips of her doctors; lives in isolation

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