Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 20, 2022

in Balance of Payments, Current Affairs, Data, Energy, Environment, Inequality, Media, Podcast, Seen and Unseen, Taxes, Trade

Brian Riley dissects Robert Lighthizer’s recent New York Times op-ed on U.S. trade with China. Two slices:

In a weekend op-ed for the New York Times calling for strategic decoupling from China, former U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer attempts to rewrite trade history and the laws of economics. However, there is one thing he gets partially right: “The U.S. objective should be to continue trade and economic activity beneficial to us and to discourage any part that is not.”

The question is, who gets to decide whether trade and economic activity is beneficial or not: Hard-working Americans deciding how to spend and invest their money? Or politicians and bureaucrats based on which industries have the most political clout?


More fundamentally, a trade deficit is not a transfer of wealth. When Americans import goods from other countries, those dollars are used either to buy U.S. exports or to invest in our economy. Either way, we benefit.

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino offers evidence that “China isn’t even good at being China.”

Kate Wand talks with Samuel Gregg.

Glenn Loury explains that “racial preferences won’t solve racial inequality.” A slice:

Racial preferences persist because they represent the path of least resistance. If an administrator of a selective institution saw that blacks were a minuscule percent of his student body, he would want to change that. If he found that admitting African-American students at a lower percentile of performance would ease his public-relations problem, then he would do it. But when thousands of people in that same situation make the same decision and place it beyond criticism, the goal of equality suffers. Failing to address ourselves to the developmental disparities manifest in test scores, as well as failing to change the dynamics of human development at the root of black underrepresentation in elite and selective venues, means failing to solve the inequality problem.

Head counts are no substitute for performance, and everyone knows it. No policy can paper over the racial dimension of academic disparities. True equality would seek to remedy the foundational circumstances reflected in the underrepresentation of African-Americans at the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Tech, Holy Cross, or Harvard. I’m for racial equality, not patronization. Don’t patronize my people, inflict on us the consequences of a soft bigotry of low expectations, or presume that we’re not capable of manifesting excellence in the same way as any other people. Don’t judge blacks by a different standard.

Jonathan Lesser is correct: “Climate activists push electrification and degrowth, complementary strategies that would lead to lower standards of living and more government control.” A slice:

For degrowth proponents, the improvement in global living standards is nothing to celebrate. According to a new article in Nature, degrowth requires developed countries to abandon economic expansion as a goal. It means producing and consuming less, abandoning “less necessary” consumption of fossil fuels, meat and dairy products, cars and air travel, and even “fast fashion.” It means less (or no) private ownership and new ways (read: government control) of “provisioning” individuals to meet their needs.

Mike Munger, writing at AIER, insightfully describes green energy (so called) as “the modern ‘broken window.'” A slice:

Once you are duped into believing destruction is productive, almost everything that a rational public policy would label as a cost becomes, by some judo move of seraphic intuition, a benefit. If need is wealth, then it makes sense to outlaw fossil fuels immediately, because of all the jobs created trying desperately to provide basic transport and energy.

The problem is that jobs are not wealth. Wealth is access to the goods, products, and services that make our lives better. It is true that “studies show” that wiping out all our productive wealth based on fossil fuels efficiently would create jobs. Those “studies” are among the best arguments against doing anything of the sort.

Steven Malanga details some of the disadvantages of living in U.S. states with especially high taxes and degrees of government intervention. A slice:

Advocates of high taxes say that people don’t relocate because of taxes. It’s true that in surveys that ask people why they moved, migrants list plenty of reasons, including housing costs, economic opportunity, and pursuit of a better overall quality of life. Still, there’s a close correlation between lists of the highest-taxing states and rankings of states that people are leaving. The relationship is so glaring that several years ago Gallup remarked, “Even after controlling for various demographic characteristics including age, gender, race and ethnicity, and education, there is still a strong relationship between total state tax burden and desire to leave one’s current state of residence.”

My former Mercatus Center colleague Robert Graboyes accurately describes many ‘experts’ using statistics as “chimps with machine guns.” A slice:

In a caustic 2011 column, “Leaving Children Behind,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman offered a back-of-the-envelope statistical analysis to extoll Wisconsin’s unionized teachers and excoriate nonunionized teachers in states like Texas. Shortly after, Twitter car-identification guy and acerbic commentator David Burge (a.k.a. @Iowahawkblog) took Krugman’s analysis down to an automobile graveyard and ran it through an Al-Jon Car Crusher (made in Iowa). His takedown was a blogpost titled “Longhorns 17, Badgers 1.

TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid)

Eugyppius is justly critical of New York Times reporting (so called) on covid. A slice:

It’s also interesting how [in the eyes of New York Times ‘reporters’ and opiners] anti-lockdown protestors in the West are thugs and stupid conspiracy-crazed Nazis, while in China they are “students, workers and homeowners.”

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

“1) Was Fauci involved in U.S. government funding of controversial early research into covid?

2) Did Fauci lie about this to Congress?

The answer to both questions is “yes.””


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