Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on January 2, 2023

in Current Affairs, Inequality, Monetary Policy, Music, Risk and Safety, Seen and Unseen, Technology

John Cochrane riffs productively on Charles Calomiris’s review of Phil Gramm’s, Robert Ekelund’s, and John Early’s superb book, The Myth of American Inequality. A slice:

Why has work collapsed in the bottom decile? Here we might have a big debate. $11.76 per hour (2017) isn’t a lot. But the previous graphs certainly contain a suggestion worth pursuing: The effective marginal tax rate in the lowest three quintiles is effectively 100%. Earn a dollar, and lose a dollar of benefits. Why work?

Gramm Ekelund and Early are careful, and don’t make any causal assertions here. They don’t really even stress the fact popping from the table as much as I have. But the fact is a fact, a nearly 100% tax rate + an income effect isn’t a positive for labor supply, and the amount of work in lower quintiles has plummeted. This is a book about facing facts and this one is undeniable.

As Emma Camp reports for Reason, it’s a darn good thing that Americans’ freedom of speech is constitutionally protected.

GMU Econ alum Scott Drylie reveals the economic lesson in Dire Straits’s great 1985 hit song “Money for Nothing.” A slice:

The subjective theory of value opens our eyes to the adjectives all around us, offering a credible explanation for unequal outcomes. Because of consumer proclivities, it is an expert worker who tends to earn more than a careless one, an innovative entrepreneur more than a feckless one. Similarly, it is an established and beloved male actor who tends to earn more than an untested and unknown female actor. (Seasoned female stars do just fine, on the other hand.)

Arnold Kling argues that “the Fed’s main role is to help manage government debt.”

I’m unsure how to summarize this recent post by Bob Graboyes, save to say that it’s fun.

Here’s wisdom from Tim Worstall: “No one will ever have an unassailable lead in a specific piece of tech. Simply because the existence of it shows everyone else that it’s possible.”

Prompted by a recent paper in Nature, Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley asks if vaccines are fueling new covid variants. Two slices:

Notably, workers who had received more doses were at higher risk of getting sick. Those who received three more doses were 3.4 times as likely to get infected as the unvaccinated, while those who received two were only 2.6 times as likely.

“This is not the only study to find a possible association with more prior vaccine doses and higher risk of COVID-19,” the authors noted. “We still have a lot to learn about protection from COVID-19 vaccination, and in addition to a vaccine’s effectiveness it is important to examine whether multiple vaccine doses given over time may not be having the beneficial effect that is generally assumed.”

Two years ago, vaccines were helpful in reducing severe illness, particularly among the elderly and those with health risks like diabetes and obesity. But experts refuse to concede that boosters have yielded diminishing benefits and may even have made individuals and the population as a whole more vulnerable to new variants like XBB.
…..

The Biden administration’s monomaniacal focus on vaccines over new treatments has left the highest-risk Americans more vulnerable to new variants. Why doesn’t that seem to worry the experts?

In response to a covid hysteric admitting (yesterday on Twitter) that she’s so fearful of covid that she’s not had her teeth cleaned by the dentist in three years, Laura Powell tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Overstating the effectiveness of masks and the risks of Covid has harmed people’s health.

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