Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on December 31, 2022

in Books, Current Affairs, Energy, Environment, Financial Markets, Philosophy of Freedom, State of Macro

George Will – born and reared in Illinois – rightly praises the Midwest. A slice:

Thanks to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 — the nation’s finest act of statecraft prior to the Constitution — the region that would become the Midwest’s 12 states, all west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas) never, with the exception of Missouri, had slavery. Instead, these states had the crackling entrepreneurial energy that Alexis de Tocqueville, floating down the Ohio in Jacksonian America, saw to his right, in Ohio, but not, to his left, in slaveholding Kentucky.

[DBx: Tocqueville’s observation is powerful evidence against the economically (and historically) uninformed notion that modern capitalist prosperity is rooted in slavery.]

Phil Magness offers, on his Facebook page, this astute observation:

Effective Altruists: “Philanthropy should prioritize stuff that maximizes the improvement in people’s lives.”
Also Effective Altruists: “Let’s fling trillions at preventing extremely low probability catastrophes that I happen to obsess about because I’m an apocalyptic weirdo.”

Patrick West decries the rise of “the eco-cult.” A slice:

Similarly, it was perhaps unsurprising that, in 2022, doyen of environmentalism George Monbiot argued in his book, Regenesis, that ‘farming is the most destructive human activity ever‘. That’s right: for green doom-mongers, even farming – the very foundation of civilisation itself, the very thing we depend on to keep billions of people alive – is now considered a blight on nature.

Here’s more from my colleague Bryan Caplan on Alex Epstein and energy.

Arnold Kling continues to write wisely.

Liz Wolfe reviews Sebastian Mallaby’s new book about venture capital, The Power Law. A slice:

While detractors frequently downplay how much public policy can help or hinder innovation, Mallaby never neglects the subject. A reduction in the maximum individual capital gains tax rates in the late 1970s and early ’80s—from 35 percent for most of the ’70s to 20 percent by 1982—left venture capitalists flush with cash and eager to invest. Without these preconditions, Apple and Atari might not have flourished; Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner’s Cisco, which pioneered multiprotocol routers, might not have received enough investment; and advances in computing might not have taken off at the time and speed that they did. As Silicon Valley competed with larger, more established investing firms in Boston and Japan, its nimble spirit—a “bubbling cauldron of small firms, vigorous because of ferocious competition between them, formidable because they were capable of alliances and collaborations”—made it rich with creative ferment, especially when compared with the “self-contained, vertically integrated” cultures of its faraway competitors.

Three decades later, public policy was still shaping Silicon Valley. “While Wall Street recovered painfully from the crisis of 2008, its wings clipped by regulators aiming to forestall a repeat taxpayer bailout,” Mallaby writes, “the West Coast variety of finance expanded energetically along three axes: into new industries, into new geographies, and along the life cycle of startups.” Many politicians today threaten trustbusting crusades against Google and Amazon, or rumble about changing which types of speech are allowed on Facebook and YouTube. What legislators and regulators do now could shape V.C. appetites for years to come, altering which types of investments firms make or how many new entrants can emerge in the face of greater regulatory costs.

Chris Edwards is understandably underwhelmed by economists’ ability to make accurate macroeconomic forecasts. A slice:

Businesses and stock market investors often make mistakes, but they can change direction quickly as conditions change. The government, by contrast, is a rigid institution led by people who rarely admit mistakes. So when politicians move economic resources around, the resources usually get stuck in low‐​value uses for years on end, as discussed in this study on government failure.

Free-Market Capitalism is the Next American Economy.

Wokism gets ever-nuttier.

In response to a covidian’s deranged remarks about the great Great Barrington Declaration, marypmadigan tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

What was the GBD’s evil plan? To stop lockdowns and mandates from turning the formerly civilized world into an economic & social dumpster fire? To give poor kids a decent, uninterrupted education? To prevent rabid, prissy hypochondriacs from destroying third world economies?

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