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Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins asks “What did we learn from China’s Covid experiment?” Two slices:

China will lowball its Covid deaths now but it won’t recapitulate our seminal folly. This was the constant dunning of the public with a “confirmed cases” measure that grossly under-represented how quickly the virus was spreading. The consequences were not just the absurd pouring of resources into hopeless contact-tracing efforts. The media enjoyed insinuating that the virus was stoppable but for the criminal incompetence of our leaders in the face of a disease that killed 2%, 3%, 4% of those infected (when accurate data would have shown the death rate closer to the flu’s 0.1%).

The public was consistently bamboozled to believe, as a University of Southern California survey showed, the virus both harder to catch and deadlier than it was.


The Washington Post last week quoted the incomparable wisdom of a young Chinese businesswoman: “It is impossible to lock everyone up at home and lock them up forever, right? What should come will come…. You have to take this path, and everyone has to take this step, so that China can get on with normal work and life.”

Words like these would have helped the American people make better informed, more rational decisions, especially when waiting for a vaccine to arrive, about how to get themselves and their loved ones through a Covid trial that could not be avoided.

Joanna Baron surveys “the aftermath of Canada’s Freedom Convoy.” (HT David Henderson) A slice:

In other words, Trudeau and his team took the deliberately stringent application prescribed by the Emergencies Act and flattened it into a reasonableness standard, claiming the Commissioner grant them deference where the exigencies of “public safety”—in an environment where a single physical threat remained unidentified— justified the creation of new criminal laws, freezing of bank accounts without a warrant and expanded financial surveillance powers.

The legislative history of the Act makes it unambiguous that this was exactly the sort of conduct it sought to prevent. The Act was introduced to replace the War Measures Act, which was widely seen as permitting overreach and civil rights abuses in response to the Front de Libération de Quebec crisis in 1970, and was meant to constrain executive action.

Thorsteinn Siglaugsson is wise. A slice:

We may eventually get out of the Covid panic. But as long as the soil is fertile; as long as we do not question, do not doubt, but blindly believe and obey, the sword of mass panic, and all the damage done by it, still hangs over our heads. We have to rid ourselves of this threat. What is at stake is freedom and democracy.

Kyle Lamb tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

We knew outdoor transmission was insanely rare very early on. We knew unhealthy people were far more at-risk from the virus early on. We suspected exercise would help.

It’s so maddening how many places closed beaches, parks, gyms, masked youth sports. Such unscientific baloney.

Casey Mulligan tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

How quaint! Way back in 2008 the ACLU opposed “punitive, police-state tactics, such as forced examinations, vaccination and treatment, and criminal sanctions for those individuals who did not follow the rules.”

Writing in the New York Times, Scott Winship reveals “the true cost of expanding the child tax credit.” A slice:

Based on the evidence we have now, a permanent child allowance would indeed reduce poverty among those who fall temporarily on hard times. (That is the initial effect, after all, of giving people money.) But among those families with the weakest attachment to stable work and family life, it would be likely to consign them to more entrenched multigenerational poverty by further disconnecting them from those institutions.

Rich Vedder decries “the most selfish generation.” A slice:

In the 21 years from the first full year of the George W. Bush administration (fiscal year 2002) through today, the U.S. government has not balanced its budget once. This is the longest sustained period of deficit financing in American history, leading to a rise in the gross national debt to about 125 percent of total output. This is higher than it was at the end of the war fought by the Greatest Generation. Contrast that to the period 1900–1930. This is the time when the Greatest Generation was born, grew up, and reached early adulthood. The federal government ran budget surpluses in 20 of those 31 years. During the Roaring Twenties, the national debt declined by one-third, as Presidents Warren Harding and especially Calvin Coolidge worked assiduously to reduce the debt burden.

Why is this important? The national debt is a burden on future generations—individuals who over the next several decades will have to pay bondholders who lent money to the federal government. Today’s Most Selfish Generation is imposing an enormous burden on future Americans. As interest rates move from abnormal lows (owing to the Federal Reserve’s manipulation efforts to lower them) to rates more consistent with economic reality and true-time preferences (people wanting things now rather than later), the interest payments on the debt due annually can be expected to soar shortly—I would conservatively estimate by $600 billion annually. This means higher taxes, reduced government spending, and/or the printing of money to pay off the debt (creating huge inflation). Future generations will feel fiscal pain, and, if modern-day fiscal irresponsibility continues, it likely will also mean that the U.S. dollar’s primacy as the world’s leading currency will be imperiled, and, with it, our planetary economic leadership.

[DBx: Question for “national conservatives” (and others) who continue to call for the U.S. government to adopt “industrial policy”: If the U.S. government cannot muster the political courage and responsibility to do a task as basic as balancing its budget, what reason have you to believe that this same government can be trusted to allocate private-sector economic resources wisely? My question is a serious one. I’d love to get an answer to this question from an industrial-policy advocate such as Oren Cass, Julius Krein, Sam Hammond, Brink Lindsey, Michael Brendan Dougherty, or Marco Rubio.]

Mike Munger creatively explains the inevitability, in a growing economy, of creative destruction.

George Leef isn’t impressed with Harvard’s new president.

Clark Packard makes the case that “the U.S. can’t afford another decade without new free trade agreements.”