The so-called ESG movement has had a very disappointing week, and that’s great news for the world economy and human flourishing. “Environmental, social and governance” activists try to shame companies into adopting destructive political agendas that voters reject. Now it’s clear that shareholders reject them too. In March this column asked if ESG had peaked, and the answer appears to be yes.
The U.S. Department of Energy has just announced a proposed rule to make dishwashers more “efficient” by limiting them to a maximum of 3.3 gallons per wash cycle, a reduction of one-third. (A similar Obama-era rule had sought to limit the machines to just 3.1 gallons, but that was nixed by the Trump administration and replaced with a rule allowing up to 5 gallons per cycle.)
The implicit perspective of the DOE is that reduced use of resources is necessarily a gain in efficiency. But efficiency is not achieved just by using less of some resource. It is about the ratio of costs (the value of resource inputs) to benefits (the value of the output). If the benefit is reduced by more than is saved by reducing costs, there is no efficiency.
David Henderson understands the true nature of the so-called “Secure the Border Act.” Here’s his conclusion:
How about this idea? Let’s allow more legal immigrants. We gain and they gain. And, as a side benefit, we especially need them now that the Social Security Trust Fund will likely be out of money in 2033. Remember that the vast majority of immigrants are young. Letting them in would buy us a few years.
In each of these cases, the central question was whether Congress gave the EPA or OSHA the power they were claiming, and, in each case, the Supreme Court said no.
In response to these cases, the apocalypse brigade brayed about the Court’s disregard for science. In West Virginia v. EPA, they insisted that the science was settled, and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan was critical to address climate change. In NFIB v. OSHA, they contended that the science demanded a vaccine mandate to protect workers. And in Sackett v. EPA, they protested that science required the EPA to regulate every sometimes-soggy patch of land from coast to coast or else fish will grow two heads and the Cuyahoga River will catch back on fire.
Of course, these may be reasonable arguments to make to policy makers—if we set aside nagging questions about just how settled the science really is. And those policy makers can, and should, consider arguments based on scientific expertise. But Supreme Court justices aren’t policy makers.
If the law, properly interpreted, is out of step with science, it is not for the Court to ignore a statute’s plain meaning, but for Congress—the legislative branch and the people’s representatives—to fix the problem and make new laws that are grounded in science.
Here’s how Ridgley describes his book: “It’s a tale of how one of history’s great institutions—the American university—is undergoing an infiltration by an army of mediocrities whose goal is to destroy it as an institution of knowledge creation and replace it with an authoritarian organ of ideology and propaganda.”
The word “mediocrities” is carefully chosen. Ridgley shows that the faculty and administrators who are so adamant about imposing their utopian vision of “transformative education” are overwhelmingly the products of our schools of education. Ed schools, long known for their weak students, low standards, and susceptibility to academic fads, have in the last few decades been taken over by a cadre of Marxists who see only bad in America. Worse yet, they have built a pipeline that sends their graduates into faculty and administrative positions in our educational institutions.