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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, isn’t buying Joe Biden’s claims of fiscal responsibility. A slice:

Government debt as a share of the U.S. economy is falling. This must mean President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress are practicing fiscal responsibility, right? No, it doesn’t. The main driver behind the reduction is inflation—inflation that politicians in Washington created with their irresponsible spending and refusal to engage in austerity after the COVID-19 crisis.

The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto carefully and thoroughly exposes the shoddy (to put it mildly) ‘reporting’ and opining of late about Justice Clarence Thomas. A slice:

I would never attack good journalists, if only for fear of harming an endangered species. My contention is that the ProPublica troika’s work is a travesty of journalism, and I am increasingly disinclined to credit them with practicing journalism at all. Instead, they function as political opposition researchers. They follow the facts only far enough to find a plausible complaint that Justice Thomas did something wrong, which they baselessly frame as evidence of corruption, then move on to the next accusation. (They were also less clear than I was in identifying his actual error, palming that opinion off on “four ethics experts.” They identified only two of those so-called experts, both of whom expressed prejudicial views about Thomas. One had a 14-page letter demanding an investigation—replete with factual errors—ready to go the day after the ProPublica piece ran.)


Over the weekend a team of four reporters at the Washington Post—Shawn Boburg and Emma Brown, with Jonathan O’Connell and Alice Crites listed as having “contributed”—uncovered another Thomas error. This one is a doozy. According to the 1,240-word story, which appeared on the front page of Monday’s paper, Justice Thomas “for years” has claimed income from a company that “has not existed since 2006.” That firm, Ginger Ltd. Partnership, managed real estate in Nebraska and was founded by his wife, Ginni Thomas, and her relatives. Seventeen years ago it was dissolved and its holdings were transferred to a new entity, Ginger Holdings LLC.

That’s it. The company changed legal form but kept the same name and address. There’s no suggestion that its business has changed or that Justice Thomas failed to disclose any income. “The previously unreported misstatement might be dismissed as a paperwork error,” the Post quartet allow. “But it is among a series of errors and omissions that Thomas has made.” It’s admittedly trivial but fits the pre-established narrative, so the Post runs with it.

James Hohman explains some of the damage done by protectionism.

National Review‘s Andrew Stuttaford argues that Margaret Thatcher would be no fan of “common good capitalism.”

The immorality and stupidity of this policy requires no further comment: (HT Ross Kaminsky)

As part of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s push for affordable housing, homebuyers with good credit will soon have to pay higher mortgage rates and fees to subsidize people with riskier credit ratings, according to a report by The Washington Times.

John O. McGinnis sings the praises of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. A slice:

Of all the books my wife and I have read to our now seven-year-old daughter, none has taught as much about life and liberty as the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most literature that enthralls children, like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, is fantasy, but this series, being a memoir of the Ingalls family when Wilder was growing up, is based in fact—even if softened by a degree of nostalgia with a modified timeline and composite characters. Her family members cannot call on magic but only on their own inner strengths to survive in a world of outer scarcity.

This austere setting makes the series the best introduction for a child to virtues indispensable to liberty—self-reliance, personal responsibility, and respect for individual choice. The difficult life her family led also naturally prompts discussion of how and why our lives have become so much more comfortable today. While these transformations may seem akin to magic, they have been brought about by capitalism—another important lesson for a child.

I’m eager to read my GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan’s new book, Voters as Mad Scientists.

Under the WHO’s Autocratic New Powers Sweden Would Not Be Allowed to Dissent.”

Sanjeev Sabhlok tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

The benefit of living in modern society is that one can expect to live to 80+.

The disadvantage of living in such a society is that we cannot isolate sufficiently from ordinary respiratory viruses.

We need to give up on the ISOLATION DELUSION – or go back to hunting-gathering.

This piece – headlined “China’s ‘zero Covid’ policy was a mass imprisonment campaign” – appears in, of all places, The Guardian. Two slices:

As I see it, Xi Jinping’s measures have very little to do with public health. They have been a masterclass in dictatorship with an underlying theme of “how to more effectively control society after a disaster strikes”. The primary objective is not protecting people’s lives and health, but protecting and expanding his power as much as possible. Totalitarian pandemic-prevention policies have no obvious efficacy other than to wreak havoc on hundreds of millions of people. Such policies do not merit any praise. They are the source of an anti-scientific humanitarian catastrophe.

Before 7 December 2022, Xi’s government pushed a “zero Covid” policy. That is not as benign as it sounds. In essence, it is a mass imprisonment campaign. In my book Deadly Quiet City: True Stories from Wuhan, I report on how the Chinese government turned Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, into a massive and miserable prison.

Then Xi obviously realized that the anti-pandemic measures brought him benefits. He doggedly expanded the policy to encompass the whole country. In many places, just one positive case or sometimes not a single positive case, resulted in a district or even an entire city being completely locked down, transportation links severed, shops closed, and residents confined behind layers of fences topped with razor wire. No one could leave their homes even to exercise their most basic of rights – the right to food and to seek medical attention.


China’s pandemic-prevention policies led to countless deaths and tragedies: ill seniors killing themselves because they couldn’t get medical treatment; youth jumping off buildings because they couldn’t make a living; unborn babies dying in their mother’s wombs while their mothers awaited treatment. When a fire broke out in an apartment building in the far western city of Urumqi, on 24 November 2022, the pandemic prevention policy of turning residential zones into prisons prevented fire engines gaining access. Residents struggled to escape the inferno. Ten died and many more were injured.