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My GMU Econ colleague Vincent Geloso identifies three errors consistently committed by Paul Ehrlich. Two slices:

In the 60 minutes segment, not much appeared to have changed to Ehrlich’s message. Doom is still coming. Overpopulation is still the root cause. Population control remains the only solution.

The consistency in messaging is jaw-dropping given how wrong Ehrlich was then and remains now. In fact, the errors and fallacies in Ehrlich’s reasoning have been identified multiple times since The Population Bomb was published. The errors can be identified in three blows that Ehrlich received – two of which were self-inflicted.

The first blow to Ehrlich’s view came from economist Julian Simon. In an article published in Social Science Quarterly, Simon taunted Ehrlich into taking a bet that would go directly at the foundations of their respective views. Unlike Ehrlich, Simon believed that politically and economically free societies could accommodate rapid population growth. In fact, the population growth would actually bring about more innovation, ideas and techniques that would lead to long-term improvements in material and environmental conditions. Relatively free markets would communicate information through price signals about which innovation would be the most socially valued. As such, resource depletion would never become a permanent problem in Simon’s worldview.


The third error in Ehrlich’s reasoning is also self-inflicted. Reflecting somewhat bitterly on the wager decades later, Ehrlich scorned Simon’s naïve view of the ability of free societies to innovate around environmental problems. Obviously and unsurprisingly, he argued that coercive state measures remained the only way forward. Yet, this stubborn commitment to the same solutions over some 30 years suggests that Ehrlich never learned or read his opponents’ work. Indeed, Simon frequently argued that environmental problems could be created by governments who were expected to enact solutions.

Francis Crescia warns of an Orwellian attempt to regulate freedom of expression in Canada.

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan reflects on his and his son Simon’s recent trip to Japan.

The IRS Spares the Side‐​Hustlers (For Now)

Stephanie Slade will miss having Ben Sasse in the U.S. Senate.

Phil Gramm and John Early report that “upward mobility is alive and well in America.” A slice:

You might expect that children would tend to end up in the same income quintile as their parents. Parents impart their genes and values to their children. Those with high incomes are generally highly educated and give their children every advantage, such as private schools, tutors and counselors. Poor families often lack the knowledge and resources to provide those advantages.

Yet the share of adult children who grow up to live in a household in the same income quintile as their parents is surprisingly small. The chart shows that for the middle three quintiles, only 22.6% to 24.4% of children remain in their parents’ quintile—barely more than the 20% that would result if income quintiles were assigned at random. On average, 39% of those children as adults rose to a higher quintile and 37% fell to a lower one. The harshest critics of mobility in America can find little to fault in the income mobility of the three central quintiles.

They focus instead on the top and bottom quintiles—but miss substantial mobility there too. Of children reared in the top quintile, 62% fell to one of the lower quintiles, including more than 9% to the bottom quintile. A significant number of the children reared in the top quintile who stayed in the top quintile as adults had incomes far greater than their parents, but statistically they could not rise out of the top quintile.

With few advantages and often trapped in failing public schools, 63% of children who grew up in bottom quintile families rose to a higher quintile, 6.1% rising all the way to the top quintile. A significant number of those who failed to rise would have been the adult children who didn’t work as public assistance soared. The share of the bottom quintile who worked fell from 68% in the parents’ generation to 36% in the children’s generation.

But even these impressive numbers understate real income mobility in America. These studies measure relative mobility by comparing the children’s income quintile then and now. Relative mobility is a zero-sum game—by definition, 20% of households are in the lowest quintile and only 20% in the highest—but income growth isn’t. The vast majority of adult children had higher real incomes than their parents. To rise out of the bottom quintile, children’s inflation-adjusted income had to increase by more than the growth of the income ceiling for the bottom quintile during the years between generations—35% in Mr. Strain’s study. Children reared in any other quintile had to see their real income as adults rise on average by roughly 50% above their parents’ income simply to avoid falling into a lower quintile than their parents. The climb to a higher quintile is steeper still.

Here’s some insight from Joel Kotkin:

The United States today stands as a living contradiction to the ‘great man theory of history’. For the US is a great country led by small minds. In recent times, it has been ruled by a narcissistic moral reprobate and it is now being run by a cognitively deficient and scandal-plagued politician. There is a growing feeling, particularly among the young, that today’s America is diminished. Yet the US remains the world’s premier power, and its last best hope against a rising authoritarian tide.


Yet perhaps even more than nature’s gifts, America’s greatest asset may lie in its centuries-old constitutional order. This is very different to the much ballyhooed, bureaucratic ‘rules-based’ system so attractive to Eurocrats and their American admirers. In Europe, decisions are based on the political fashions of the moment. Only a bureaucracy in thrall to green ideology, for instance, could have ignored all the warning signs of the current energy crisis and placed ever more bets on unreliable wind and solar in the name of stopping climate change – even while China, by far the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, is building more coal plants to power its homes and industries. Today, coal is now being consumed more than at any time in history.

Although it looks less ‘professional’ than the Brussels bureaucracy, the US’s constitutionally directed democratic governance has survived other chaotic periods like this one. As bad as our leaders may be, they are fortunately not omnipotent. In contrast, while unencumbered leaders can at times make enormous strides in catching up with more advanced countries, they almost always fail in the long run – bad news for Xi and Putin.

These lessons have still not been learned in academia and the media, which continue the old Western intellectual habit, visible in the 1930s and again in the 1960s, of eulogising foreign despotisms. For years now, many have regarded the ascendency of China’s ‘stronger government’ model as inevitable. Yet now, even China’s supreme leader admits its growth will be slowing and that surpassing the US in the medium term is no longer assured.

Ramesh Thakur decries covidian tyranny.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

Under [Gov. Gavin] Newsom, California counties took away the right to in person schooling, the right to worship, and now the right of doctors to practice without fear of state interference.

Replying to Noahpinion, Prof Francois Balloux tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

The immediate harm in a fraction of the population believing that SARS-CoV-2 could have been eradicated if harsher ‘lockdown’ measures had been enforced, is that they will forever hate anyone who didn’t buy into their fantasy. This is not trivial harm, societally …