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Samuel Gregg writes, at National Review, about the friendship between Adam Smith and Edmund Burke. A slice:

One area where Smith and Burke strongly agreed concerned their commitment to liberal economic ideas at a time when mercantilist policies reigned throughout the European world. In the 1800 edition of his Life of Edmund Burke, Robert Bisset claimed that Smith told Burke that “after they had conversed on subjects of political economy, that he was the only man, who, without communication, thought on these topics exactly as he did.”

Though famous, this statement is of the anecdotal variety. Its veracity has not been corroborated by any other reference. Other sources, however, confirm that Smith and Burke were very much on the same economic page.

The most comprehensive studies of Burke’s economic thought, ranging from Donal Barrington’s 1954 Economica article “Edmund Burke as Economist” to Gregory M. Collins’s Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke’s Political Economy (2020), provide ample proof of Burke’s attachment to commercial liberty, hostility to mercantilism, and his belief that the extension of economic freedom furthered civilizational growth. These texts also attest to Burke’s interest in what we would call economic theory to understand what was really happening. For Burke, this was a prerequisite for any improvement, to use a classic Enlightenment word, upon the status quo.

Smith’s Wealth of Nations was the text that systematized this outlook. Burke did not disguise his admiration of Smith’s intellectual achievement. Stewart reports that Burke “spoke highly of [Smith’s] Wealth of Nations,” describing it as an “excellent digest of all that is valuable in former Oeconomical writers” as well as identifying “many valuable corrective observations.”

Stefan Bartl understands the idiocy of mercantilism.

Ed Meese and Kelly Shackelford decry “the left’s war on the rule of law.” Two slices:

The first contours of the plan emerged in March 2020. As the justices prepared to rule on a Louisiana abortion law, Sen. Chuck Schumer stood in front of the Supreme Court and declared that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch had “released the whirlwind” and would “pay the price.” He warned that they wouldn’t “know what hit” them if they went forward with “these awful decisions.” The pattern of attack that emerged since then makes it clear that Mr. Schumer meant what he said. The judiciary, and the justices themselves, are in the left’s cross hairs—sometimes literally.


These attacks on the judiciary share the goal of restructuring the courts and delegitimizing the rule of law. They might be working. Recent polling shows public approval of the Supreme Court at historic lows. More than 90% of judges now believe judicial independence is threatened, primarily by the attacks and the left’s politicization of the judiciary. And more offensives against the courts are coming. A coalition of progressive groups will soon launch a nationwide campaign calling again for structural changes to the Supreme Court.

The left hasn’t always had such disregard for the integrity of the courts. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union said that maintaining the credibility of the Supreme Court was “critical” to “preserving civil liberties.” Failure to maintain judicial credibility, it said, would damage not only the high court but “the rule of law.” The ACLU was right.

If politically motivated schemes to transform the courts are successful, the judiciary will become little more than a political tool of the executive and legislative branches. Judges will lose their ability to enforce the rule of law with impartiality, and the last safeguard to our civil liberties will be gone.

The left’s grand scheme to delegitimize the courts is more than a threat to the judiciary. It is a threat to our constitutional republic. It must not succeed.

Jacob Sullum is correct: “Trump’s disregard for the rule of law is at least as bad as Biden’s.” Here’s his conclusion:

Whether it was building a border wall that Congress had declined to fund, launching military strikes without congressional authorization, or withholding funds from states that allowed broad use of mail-in ballots, Trump’s position was clear: He would do what he wanted, regardless of what Congress said

Biden has a similar attitude, as illustrated by his student loan plan, his gun control initiatives, and his ill-fated vaccine mandate. But Republicans are fooling themselves if they think Trump would be any better in this respect..

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy warns against government regulation of AI. A slice:

If [Sam] Altman wants to self-regulate, he should go ahead. But counting on politicians, who don’t understand the basics of AI, to regulate the industry wisely and productively is worrisome. And it’s silly to consider pausing AI development at a time when the U.S. is leading the industry. If it is paused, and another country comes up with competing technologies, be ready for calls for industrial policy and subsidies. This is why I agree with Neil Chilson of the Center for Growth and Opportunity when he notes that politicians are the ones who should take a six-month pause to understand AI before thinking about all the ways to regulate the industry.

Paul Schwennesen reports on the continuing embrace on college campuses of irrationality.

My colleague Pete Boettke has a new paper on his teacher, and our late colleague, Don Lavoie.

A headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Young Americans Are Dying at Alarming Rates, Reversing Years of Progress.” And two slices from the report:

The uptick among younger Americans accelerated in 2020. Though Covid-19 itself wasn’t a major cause of death for young people, researchers say social disruption caused by the pandemic exacerbated public-health problems, including worsening anxiety and depression. Greater access to firearms, dangerous driving and more lethal narcotics also helped push up death rates.


Covid, which surged to America’s No. 3 cause of death during the pandemic, accounted for just one-tenth of the rise in mortality among young people in 2020, and one-fifth of it in 2021, according to the research led by Woolf, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joshua Gillihan was 11 years old when the pandemic closed his suburban Houston middle school in March 2020. He’d grown up confident with lots of friends, and played baseball and rode his dirt bike in their upper-middle-class neighborhood in Cypress, Texas, said his mother, Kim Gillihan. The shutdowns turned a temporary break from organized sports into an indefinite hiatus. Kim Gillihan watched as Joshua’s typical adolescent hangups about having to wear glasses and his appearance gave way to more worrisome levels of anxiety.

Ian Miller tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Another embarrassing and indefensible policy comes to an end, as the University of California system ends its pointless and completely ineffective vaccine mandate

There’s no justification whatsoever for it to have lasted this long, other than a purposeful disregard for science