≡ Menu

Some Links

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Robert Frommer describes the FBI’s use of the banana-republic practice of civil asset forfeiture. A slice:

The FBI has apt incentive to stretch the law to breaking, given that federal agencies keep the proceeds from forfeited property. In the US Private Vaults case, the FBI admitted under oath that even before the raid occurred it had decided to pursue property forfeiture against everything worth over $5,000 in the renters’ boxes. Using federal forfeiture records, the Institute for Justice calculated that from 2017 to 2021 Justice Department agencies gained more than $8 billion through forfeiture, with the FBI taking in more than $1.19 billion of that bounty.

David Henderson and Phil Magness accurately describe the economic case made for reparations as “tooth-fairy economics.” A slice:

Vaguely sensing that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, Hannah-Jones asks where the federal government would get the money to pay such a massive amount. Wouldn’t taxes have to be raised, she queries. [Duke University economist Sandy] Darity confidently asserts that no such action is necessary.

“It’s a matter of the federal government financing it in the same way that it financed…the stimulus package for the Great Recession” and the COVID-era CARES Act, Darity continues. To do so, the federal government need only “spend the money but without raising taxes.”

This verges on tooth-fairy economics.

The cold reality of public finance means that every government outlay must be paid eventually, whether through taxes in the present, higher inflation, which is also a tax, or higher taxes on future generations. The federal government has no good option when it comes to just “spending the money.”

[DBx: David and Phil are too kind in qualifying their description with the word “verges.” It is tooth-fairy economics, full stop. Darity’s pronouncement is the economic equivalent of a professor of medicine proclaiming that the broken bones of long-dead ancestors can be fixed with voodoo.]

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino applauds George Will’s defense of stock buybacks.

My Mercatus Center colleague Mikayla Novak explains “why tourism matters to liberty.”

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

The Biden US Department of Homeland Security used is immense power to censor scientific debate online about covid in the US. I would love to debate the omniscient scientists who collaborated on this unconstitutional and anti- scientific activity.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board describes “what the covid lockdown files tell us.” Two slices:

They were “following the science,” politicians told the public at every opportunity during the height of the Covid pandemic. The public in many countries has learned that was often far from true, and now we have proof from what our British friends are calling the Covid lockdown files.

The United Kingdom has witnessed in recent days the release of some 100,000 text messages that government officials sent each other during the pandemic. The glib resort to casual authoritarianism is shocking even for those who are cynical about politicians.

From the start, Britain’s Covid policies became a question of politics rather than science. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, a leading lockdown hawk, mused in January 2020—after news of the virus emerged in China but before the crisis in the West—that an outbreak could be good for his political career. He shared with a media adviser a message purportedly from “a wise friend” telling Mr. Hancock that “a well-handled crisis of this scale could propel you into the next league.”


In the most serious incident exposed to date, Mr. Hancock conferred with colleagues about how to “deploy” news of the so-called Kent variant of Covid in December 2020 at the right moment to “frighten the pants off everyone” in order to build support for a new lockdown and boost compliance.

A month after Mr. Hancock scared everyone’s pants off, a senior civil servant suggested that a new national mask mandate would be worthwhile because it was “effectively free and has a very visible impact.” He appears to mean “visible impact” in the sense of creating an appearance of government action, not that masks would slow the spread of the virus. “Yep,” Mr. Hancock replied, before discussing the politics of various proposed measures.

Mr. Hancock and others schemed to suppress scientific research that didn’t support their political goals. In the most significant example, Mr. [Boris] Johnson was persuaded to ignore evidence that the data used to justify Britain’s second national lockdown in 2020 were out of date and unduly alarmist.


The big news here is how quickly and easily the expansive powers that governments exercised in that period bled into the personal ambitions of the politicians making the rules. Politicians said they were using Covid science as a tool to protect the public. Instead they contorted science to impose the most onerous peacetime restrictions in history on the liberty of their fellow citizens. When lockdown skeptics demand “never again,” this is why.