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David Henderson is understandably unimpressed by Nobel-laureate economist Michael Spence’s latest plea for industrial policy. Two slices:

His case is, at best, flabby. It lacks any empirical evidence and takes as given, without argument or evidence, the idea that many government interventions have benefits that exceed costs.


His first sentence is absolutely correct. But the difference between venture capitalists and governments is that venture capitalists are betting their own money while governments are betting our money. That’s a big difference. The very essence of economics is its focus on incentives. The incentives for venture capitalists and government officials are quite different. If the venture capitalists succeed, they might make a lot of money; if they fail, they lose their own money. If government officials succeed, they might get a nice promotion and $10,000 or $20,000 more annually; if they fail, they might not even get demoted.

I would have thought that the difference in incentives would be one of the first concerns that would arise in the mind of an accomplished economist.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly criticizes the Biden administration’s continuing efforts to diminish Americans’ access to energy. Two slices:

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act says the EPA can regulate pollutants from stationary sources through the “best system of emission reduction” that is “adequately demonstrated.” Yet the EPA wants to require that fossil-fuel plants adopt carbon capture and green hydrogen technologies that aren’t currently cost-effective or feasible, and may never be. Only one commercial-scale coal plant in the world uses carbon capture to reduce emissions, and no gas-fired plants do.

Even if power plants implemented carbon capture, their cost of generation would double, rendering them less competitive against subsidized wind and solar power. There’s also the not-so-small problem of permitting. Thousands of miles of pipelines would have to be built to transport carbon to geologic structures where it can be injected.


The proposed rule won’t make an iota of difference to the climate as China and India ramp up coal power. Even EPA’s CO2 emissions reduction estimate over the next two decades amounts to only a third of that between 2010 and 2019 as natural gas replaced coal.

The EPA is gambling that it can sneak this through the courts. But the rule is a de facto mandate to shift to renewables from fossil fuels, which Congress never explicitly authorized. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 Massachusetts v. EPA decision that let the agency regulate greenhouse gas emissions rests on shaky ground. EPA is inviting a legal challenge that could boomerang, and let’s hope it does.

Also criticizing this new Biden administration assault on Americans’ access to energy is Justin Schwab. A slice:

In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court last year struck down the Obama-era Clean Power Plan because it asserted power Congress never gave federal regulators. The Biden administration’s plan takes a different approach, but in some ways goes even further than the Clean Power Plan, making another showdown at the high court likely.

The proposed rule is a blatant attempt to compel an energy “transition.” Until the final rule issues, the courts are unlikely to shut it down, but nonbinding observations in the West Virginia opinion strongly suggest that the EPA’s fuel-switching approach won’t pass muster when it eventually comes under review. One thing’s for sure: American households and business will pay higher rates as the utility sector scrambles to get ahead of these looming mandates.

Christian Schneider decries the increasingly warm embrace by many Americans on the right of authoritarianism of a sort that’s natural to progressives. A slice:

But the beauty of living in a free society is that I don’t get to force others to adopt my cultural tastes, nor do I have to live with theirs forced on me. One of the fundamental appeals of traditional conservatism is the tenet that how you live your life shouldn’t be dependent on who you elect as governor or president. It is a sign of collective moral sanity when politics doesn’t make much difference in one’s daily routine.

Of course, there is a great deal of satisfaction in serving up a hot plate of steaming legislation to own the libs. It is certainly less fun being the party espousing legislative and judicial humility. But life under more oppressive government regulations always stifles both liberty and the innovation that flows from that freedom.

(Or, as Ludwig von Mises said of Democrats in 1944: “They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.”)

George Will once noted, “A progressive’s work is never done because everything is progressivism’s business.” But with conservatives stealing the liberals’ vibes, now everything is everyone’s business, leaving the people who just want to be left alone without a viable voice in government.

Mike Munger explains an approach to teaching John Rawls and inequality.

Arnold Kling applauds Tiebout competition.

Bob Graboyes offers 20 job tips for the 20-somethings of the 2020s.

Fraser Nelson decries the “fact checkers.” A slice:

Some facts are seen to be too exciting to check. When the French economist Thomas Piketty claimed that inequality was certain to rise because of his formula r>g (ie: that the return on assets exceeded the rate of economic growth), it was hailed worldwide as a breakthrough. Time to tax the rich! But when the IMF produced a study showing Piketty’s claim to be nonsense, this seemed to generate no interest at all.

During lockdowns, the heretic hunters worked overtime. An outfit called Full Fact decreed that the novelist Lionel Shriver was “wrong” to claim that the Covid vaccine did not stop transmission. She is no epidemiologist, but she was right about the vaccines. The latest estimates suggest that 86 per cent of the country has had the virus, against around 20 per cent when she wrote her article. Jabs prevented serious illness, but not the spread. Where was the fact-checkers’ challenge of those who wrongly claimed otherwise? At the time, vaccine passports were very nearly introduced – on what now seems to be a false premise.

This is the problem. The rise of fact-checking is powerful and helpful in many ways, but is most needed in areas where there is a fashionable and unchallenged consensus. Whenever all parties agree (as they did on lockdown, and still do on net zero and international aid), the biggest policy errors are most likely to creep in. So it’s more important than ever that the major claims are held up to scrutiny. When fact-checkers instead target those who go against the grain, it serves to enforce groupthink.

Writing at City Journal, Jeffrey Anderson reports on a new study that unmasks the dangers of masking à la covid. Two slices:

Evidence continues to mount that mask mandates were perhaps the worst public-health intervention in modern American history. While concluding that wearing masks “probably makes little or no difference” in preventing the spread of viruses, a recent Cochrane review also emphasized that “more attention should be paid to describing and quantifying the harms” that may come from wearing masks. A new study from Germany does just that, and it suggests that the excess carbon dioxide breathed in by mask-wearers may have substantial ill-effects on their health—and, in the case of pregnant women, their unborn children’s.

Mask-wearers breathe in greater amounts of air that should have been expelled from their bodies and released out into the open. “[A] significant rise in carbon dioxide occurring while wearing a mask is scientifically proven in many studies,” write the German authors. “Fresh air has around 0.04% CO2,” they observe, while chronic exposure at CO2 levels of 0.3 percent is “toxic.” How much CO2 do mask-wearers breathe in? The authors write that “masks bear a possible chronic exposure to low level carbon dioxide of 1.41–3.2% CO2 of the inhaled air in reliable human experiments.”

In other words, while eight times the normal level of carbon dioxide is toxic, research suggests that mask-wearers (specifically those who wear masks for more than 5 minutes at a time) are breathing in 35 to 80 times normal levels.


Public-health officials—and the executive-branch leaders who credulously listened to them—ignored centuries of Western norms, the best medical evidence, and common sense, deciding that their own novel and evidence-free course was the one that all of society should be forced to follow. We should never again indulge such an obvious and destructive misstep.

Jack Butler, writing at National Review, applauds heroes who resisted the covidocracy. A slice:

You’ll also find brief accounts in there of the perfidy of some of the national-level actors (Fauci, Weingarten) who drove some of the most ridiculous lockdown policies yet are now trying to rewrite their records, partly on the basis that pandemic-response decisions were made at the local level, which understates how they influenced those local decisions. You’ll also find vignettes of some local villains: Pennsylvania secretary of health Rachel (formerly Richard) Levine, who forced nursing homes in the state to readmit Covid patients but withdrew his own mother from one at the same time; and governors Gretchen Whitmer (D., Mich.) and Tony Evers (D., Wis.), who aggrandized their own power extensively during the pandemic through abuse of unilateral executive authority.

As we leave Covid behind, let’s not forget the villains — and let’s especially not forget the heroes.