If there is one timeless truth about industrial policy, it is that handouts always come with handcuffs. As your editorial “Biden’s New Industrial Social Policy” (March 1) notes, it is almost impossible to pass a massive industrial policy bill without extensive political meddling coming into play.
Congress had a chance to minimize some of that damage with a more narrowly drawn effort focused on basic R&D, which is somewhat less susceptible to the sort of gaming now being imposed by the Biden administration. Unfortunately, politics as usual prevailed and Congress made the Chips Act into a political Christmas tree with a present underneath for every special interest.
Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) described an early version of the measure as an “orgy of spending porn.” Hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of pages later, the political demands that will make the effort even more costly and inefficient over time are now arriving. The only winners will be those vacuuming up the political largess. The losers, as always, will be the taxpayers.
On top of all the waste, no one bothered asking how American competitiveness was going to be enhanced by adding even more to a $31 trillion debt—more than $1 trillion of it held by China—and expanding the federal regulatory leviathan through technocratic market meddling and industrial micromanagement. We won’t beat China by becoming China.
Senior fellow, R Street Institute
Citizens of democracies are therefore torn by the simultaneous pursuit of both equality and inequality. On one hand, they are unrelenting in their pursuit of social equality, which removes the barriers of class and thus unlocks energy propelling “restless activity” across society. But on the other hand, universal competition drives citizens to struggle to pursue social distinction, to stand out from the pack, to be unequal. And the more equal a society becomes, the more energy citizens must put into standing out.
Amid the universal competition of democracy, wokeism is a misguided attempt to achieve these simultaneous twin aims of social equality and social distinction. On one hand, wokeism’s solution to the difficulty of distinguishing oneself amid universal competition is not to help citizens better contribute to society and thus gain recognition, but to change the criteria for honors from social contributions to unearned group markers, like certain “oppressed” races and genders. Put differently, wokeism co-opts the trophies and medals that mark distinction in a competitive society, but it awards them without regard for the criteria that ensured that competition is useful and productive for society. Thus, wokeism leaves society incompetent and uncompetitive and renders its trophies meaningless.
From a March 4 report by London’s Daily Telegraph:
The Lockdown Files—more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between ministers, officials and others—show how the Government used scare tactics to force compliance and push through lockdowns. . . .
Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, said that “the fear/ guilt factor” was “vital” in “ramping up the messaging” during the third national lockdown in Jan 2021.
The previous month, Matt Hancock, the then health secretary, appeared to suggest in one message that a new strain of Covid . . . would be helpful in preparing the ground for the looming lockdown. . . . In a WhatsApp conversation on Dec 13, obtained by The Telegraph, Damon Poole—one of Mr Hancock’s media advisers—informed his boss that Tory MPs were “furious already about the prospect” of stricter Covid measures and suggested “we can roll pitch with the new strain”.
Mr Hancock then replied: “We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain.”
Mr Poole agreed, saying: “Yep that’s what will get proper bahviour [sic] change.”
My takeaway from spending all that time with the Lockdown Files was not the stories – extraordinary and appalling though they are – but by what we do not see. Mainly, where are the voices of caution in the fear messaging? Where is the person in the room saying: hang on, what about the unintended consequences? We know that Rishi Sunak was deeply alarmed by this, thinking no one else in Europe was doing such fear messaging –and this would make the economy harder to revive. Then there are the vulnerable people, who really were scared to death. Today’s Sunday Telegraph interviews the mother of a 15-year-old boy saying he was so scared of Covid that he came to fear the air itself. She says she tried to shield him from the news, but the gloom was everywhere. Tragically, he took his own life.
Govt officials conducted a multi-faceted surveillance program–including stakeouts and tracking cellular mobility data–to spy on churchgoers who broke Covid rules
An extraordinary story with wide-ranging implications