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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, writing at National Review, points to evidence that Beijing’s industrial policy is weakening China’s economy. A slice:

I have always believed that this mimicking of Beijing’s economic policies is nuts. I don’t see how becoming more like Communist China, with its warm embrace of central planning under President Xi, will strengthen us economically. In fact, as similar historical episodes suggest, it will weaken our economy. And it will do so for the very same reason that Beijing’s own heavy-handed interventions are now weakening the Chinese economy — a realization that appears to be dawning on Chinese leadership.

George Will eloquently decries the intolerance, ignorance, illiberality, and sheer ridiculousness of campus wokism. A slice:

The fires of wokeness will soon be starved of fuel by the sterile monotony of wokeness’s achievement: enforced orthodoxy. Campuses are becoming burned-over places, sullen about the scarcity of things to deplore and cancel within their gates. Beyond those gates, society increasingly regards academia with, at best, bemusement.

Nevertheless, in their leafy quarantine, the woke will have the consolation of vanity. Wokeness has many flavors but one purpose: self-flattery. Wokeness tells its disciples how morally superior they are to almost everyone, ever. The woke have revised Martin Luther King Jr.’s maxim about the moral universe to: “The arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward me.”

Yael Hungerford reviews Marian Tupy’s and Gale Pooley’s marvelous 2022 book, Superabundance. A slice:

At the center of Superabundance is the argument that human beings are not a drain on resources—they are, instead, the most valuable resource. Humans have come up with countless ways to live more efficiently and support more human life. A large population is key to this innovation: more people mean more ideas and larger markets to try out those ideas. This dynamic is fostered by the division of labor and development of human capital, possible only in sufficiently large populations.

Tupy and Pooley see the price of a resource as more important than its quantity. Quantity is imperfectly known and is thus an inadequate measure of abundance; we know much more today, for example, about where to find and extract fossil fuels than we did even a few decades ago. By contrast, price reflects not only current supply but also beliefs about future supply: a price decline suggests belief that a good is abundant and will remain so.

As their ultimate unit to measure prices across time and countries, Tupy and Pooley use time prices—the amount of labor, measured over time, that it takes to acquire a good. As Adam Smith taught, “the real price of everything is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.” The use of time prices avoids the difficulties of comparing nominal costs over time and place, like how to measure inflation or how to account for the benefits of innovation.

Some examples of their findings: the time price of 50 basic commodities, including uranium, pulpwood, and natural gas, fell by an average 71.6 percent during the period 1980–2018. For American blue-collar and unskilled workers, the average time prices for basic commodities fell by more than 96 percent and 93 percent, respectively, between 1900 and 2018. Purchasing a pound of sugar required nearly three hours of factory work in 1850; in 2021, it required only 35 seconds. An air conditioning unit cost more than 200 hours of blue-collar work in 1952; in 2019, it cost just 5.5 hours.

James Pethokoukis explains that the “Paul Ehrlich interview on ’60 Minutes’ shows the need to finally defeat degrowth environmentalism.” A slice:

Imagine if instead of Ehrlich, 60 Minutes had instead featured Hannah Ritchie, head of research at Our World in Data where she focuses on “the long-term development of food supply, agriculture, energy, and environment, and their compatibility with global development.” (She holds a Ph.D. in GeoSciences from the University of Edinburgh.) Ritchie would have presented data-driven analysis of the reality of the situation. (The segment’s idea of data is a couple of passing references to a study from the World Wildlife Fund. Hey, good enough for television!) Among the insights she might have offered:

  • “On average, there has been a large decline across tens of thousands of wildlife populations since 1970”
  • “Not all animal populations are in decline; around half have increasing numbers”
  • “Wild mammals have declined by 85 % since the rise of humans”
  • “Wild mammals make up only a few percent of the world’s mammals”
  • “Thanks to conservation efforts, some wild mammals are making a comeback”

Speaking of Hannah Ritchie, she’s Russ Roberts’s latest guest on EconTalk.

Lamont Rodgers revisits Bertrand de Jouvenel’s great 1952 book, The Ethics of Redistribution.

“The US economy no longer can sustain a policy of endless war” – so explains Doug Bandow.

Christian Britschgi reports on just how arrogant and entitled politicians can be.

Meghan Murphy describes Canadian strongman Justin Trudeau as “riding roughshod over liberty.” A slice:

Our beta test for Tyranny 2.0 began with the Covid lockdowns in 2020. Would Canadians agree to stay at home, mask up, abandon their elderly loved ones to die alone in hospitals and long-term care homes? Would they ostracise family members who dared to suggest a funeral for grandma? Would they shut down their businesses, host virtual cocktail hours and pretend that banging pots and pans from their windows equates to some kind of community-building exercise? Would they scream at strangers who dared to breathe too close to them on a hiking path, or who took off their masks for a bike ride? Would they turn their neighbours in to the police for hosting Christmas dinner? Why, yes they would!

After Canadians passed that test, the Liberal government pushed Covid restrictions further in 2022. At the start of the year, Canadians had to sign up to one app in order to leave the country and to return, and use another app to access restaurants, bars, gyms and sporting events. Kids were kept out of schools – indefinitely, it seemed back then – ensuring an entire generation fell behind in their education, mental, social and emotional development.

Victoria Fox tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

My son loves to tell me about all the stupid ways kids don’t wear their mask properly at school.

It hangs off their face. They pull it down constantly to vent it. Massive gaps.

It would be even funnier if he weren’t knowingly forced to participate in a pointless charade.