Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on April 1, 2023

in Current Affairs, Education, Environment, Housing, Media, Reality Is Not Optional, Regulation

George Will decries the current state of the city of Chicago. A slice:

Since Chicago’s population peaked in 1950 at 3.6 million, a million have fled (while the nation’s population has increased 120 percent). Since 2010, almost 90,000 students — more than 20 percent — have left the public school system, whose annual spending has increased $2.5 billion, and in fiscal 2021 included operational spending of $20,465 per pupil.

Progressive policies— e.g., Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in 2016 essentially decriminalizing shoplifting of less than $1,000 — have demoralized the police force, which experienced a net loss of 2,641 officers between 2020 and August 2022. This year, car thefts are up 151 percent, sexual assaults and robberies up 23 percent each, and major crime reports are up 104 percent above this point in 2021.

George Leef describes the baleful consequences of federal-government involvement in higher education.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, explains that “progressive politicians are regulating their own projects into oblivion.” A slice:

The same will be true of any industrial policy objectives that politicians pursue, such as the CHIPS Act with its $52 billion in subsidies to build microchips. Factories will have to be built in an already overregulated environment, and President Joe Biden’s administration just added mandates that subsidy beneficiaries provide child care, buy American, cease stock buybacks, and more.

The administration claims it’s doing this for workers, but it’s not considering ramifications like, for example, how subsidizing companies’ child care centers could exacerbate provider shortages in nearby centers, which, due to state regulations, cannot hire capable workers without college degrees.

My GMU Econ colleague Vincent Geloso usefully updates the history of John Cowperthwaite’s governance of Hong Kong.

Here’s Bjorn Lomborg, writing at National Review, on climate change. Two slices:

The global discussion about climate change has become quite hysterical. Some 60 percent of people living in the rich world think it is likely to bring an end to humanity. This is not only untrue; it is also harmful, because fear makes people embrace bad policies and ignore many other urgent challenges facing the world. Consider, for example, how the World Health Organization declared climate change the defining public-health issue of the 21st century in 2014, but perhaps should have been more focused on pandemics, like Covid. Or take the World Economic Forum participants who in January 2020 found the greatest policy risk of the next ten years to be climate-action failure — ignoring the rapid spread of Covid. Or consider how development institutions increasingly focus on helping poor countries with climate-change responses, often at the expense of other things those countries urgently need, such as growth and development, stronger health-care systems, better education, and a more plentiful energy supply.


These days, every weather phenomenon is turned into instant climate news, with smartphone cameras immediately sharing pictures of the damage and campaigners blaming climate change for it all. Hurricanes are a key part of this narrative. But that does not mean hurricanes are actually battering our coasts any more frequently than before, as is often implied or stated outright.

Indeed, the hurricanes of 2022 were close to unprecedented — but only in their weakness. Globally, 2022 had the second-weakest batch of hurricanes in the era of satellite data (beginning in 1980). It also had the fourth-fewest strong hurricanes (category 3 and above) in the same period and the eighth-fewest hurricanes overall. Moreover, despite what we hear, hurricanes have not been getting stronger globally. The average energy per hurricane has remained constant in the satellite era.

The same is true if we focus on the United States. Contrary to what is commonly asserted, the frequency of hurricanes hitting the continental U.S. has not increased over the past 122 years. The best-fit line actually trends slightly downward. (Counting landfall hurricanes is the most consistent way of having a measure that goes back to 1900, whereas the number of named hurricanes — which includes those that do not hit land — steadily increases because we have ever-better technologies to detect even very short-lived hurricanes.)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Halperin decries the fact that “the media keep stifling the covid debate.” A slice:

Now that the Covid pandemic is behind us, you’d think scientists and the media could have an honest conversation about what they got wrong and what lessons they’ve learned. Think again.

On Jan. 30, the Cochrane Collaboration, highly regarded for its rigorous systematic reviews, published an update of its meta-analysis of masking and other physical methods to prevent respiratory illnesses. It found no strong evidence for masking, and the initial media response was silence. After conservative media covered the study, the mainstream press went on the attack. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic and others piled on.

As an epidemiologist, I hoped the review might dent the politicized discourse surrounding masks and other prevention measures. I sent an article to Time magazine, which had recently published my work. My editor appeared positive, requesting some reasonable modifications and focusing. He wrote me on Feb. 23 that the piece would be “published overnight.” The next day, instead of the article link, he forwarded me a tweet by Michael Mina, a medical researcher. Dr. Mina’s tweet complained that Cochrane reviews “are becoming dangerous tools of ‘scientists’ w agendas.” He cited an earlier review “attempting to discredit rapid tests.” Dr. Mina is an executive at eMed, a rapid-test company.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

Government scientists do not have a monopoly on the truth. Government scientists who think and act like they have such a monopoly harm the public.

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