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Mike Munger ponders manners and the Coase Theorem.

Also pondering Coase and the web of social connections that binds strangers together is my GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan. A slice:

Suppose you’re at the local mall. You’ve never met 99.9% of the other shoppers. But you’re all customers of the same shopping center. Each of you “knows a guy who knows a guy” – or to be more precise, each of you knows a business who knows each of the other customers. As a result, the mall managers have a clear incentive to manage the mutual externalities of all the folks at the mall. Though you have no direct relationship with the other customers, the mall managers have direct relationships with each of you. If you talk loud or smell bad, it’s bad for the other customers, which is bad for the mall, which is bad for business: “Sir, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

The same goes in an apartment complex. You might never even see your immediate neighbors. The apartment owner, however, does business with each of you. So if you bother your neighbors with loud music, you are indirectly bothering the owner. Which gives him a clear incentive to involve himself. Maybe he’ll ask you to turn down your music. Maybe he’ll plan ahead and make the walls sound-proof. Whatever the owner does, he has a strong reason to take all of his future tenants’ interests into account. After all, if he fails to provide good quality of life, he’ll have to cut his rents to fill his units.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper by Michael Strain and Jeffrey Clemens:

Over the past decade, organized labor has played a significant role in advocating for minimum wage increases. Why might this be, given that the minimum wage may act as a substitute for the bargaining power offered by labor unions? In this paper, we study the interplay between minimum wages and union membership. We estimate that each dollar in minimum wage increase predicts a 5 percent increase (0.3 pp) in the union membership rate among individuals ages 16–40. Consistent with a classic “free-riding” hypothesis, however, we find that minimum wage increases predict declines in union membership among the minimum wage’s most direct beneficiaries. Instead, increases in union membership occur among much broader groups that are not directly affected by the minimum wage.

Jeffrey Miron and Jacob Winter argue that “the Trump indictment reminds us that campaign finance regulation should not exist.”

J.D. Tuccille warns that the U.S. government will use the recent intelligence leak as a pretext to further surveil and control us. A slice:

Another day, another government blunder used as an excuse to tighten the screws on the public in hopes of reducing the fallout from official incompetence. That’s a fair takeaway from efforts by the Biden administration and security agencies to lean on the media for reporting the contents of the recent intelligence leaks, and to plan expanded internet surveillance to catch inevitable future leakers.

Tom Slater reflects on the BBC’s recent interview-gone-bad with Elon Musk. A slice:

Elon Musk has become a bête noire of the new elite, all because he says he wants to make Twitter a more free and open forum. This has particularly appalled the journalistic set. In our populist, social-media age, mainstream journalists have come to the horrifying realisation that they are no longer the gatekeepers of information and truth – not least because their hysterical antics post-2016 have bred so much public suspicion of them. So, in the years since Trump and Brexit, they have taken to demanding that tech firms clamp down on deplorables and dissidents. And ever since Musk bought Twitter last year, pledging to pare back its censorship regime, establishment journalists have become apoplectic.

Steve Templeton reflects on the covid response. A slice:

When the pandemic hit, it was obvious to many that immune-suppressed and other vulnerable people might fare a lot worse than healthy individuals. Early evidence confirmed it. It thus made sense to focus our efforts on those vulnerable people, because that would cause the least collateral damage.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, many states and countries pursued a disastrous strategy of “Zero COVID,” resulting in much collateral damage for no consistent benefit. Many nations that went this route are now seeing significant increases in mortality. Maybe excess mortality could be put off, but not eliminated, like the virus itself.

School closures in the United States had no effect on community spread of the virus, and caused tremendous harm to children, resulting in a shocking loss of learning, skyrocketing BMI, and increased abuse along with plummeting mental health. In this case, no special group was accomodated. The unique problems of a few became everyone’s problem, with no benefit.

The desire for equal outcomes has always been problematic, because it runs completely contrary to reality and human nature. No matter how you slice it, not everyone is going to get a trophy or benefit from a shared sacrifice. Not everyone needs to share the unique challenges of every demographic.

Number 99 tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Jeremy Faust is right in line with Bay Area former County Health Officer Erica Pan who said lockdown would be easy because Californians had DoorDash (you cannot make this stuff up).