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David Henderson explains why he, quite reasonably, disagrees with Bob Poole on zoning.

Also disagreeing with Bob Poole on zoning is GMU law professor Ilya Somin. A slice:

It is true that single-family zoning can sometimes protect homeowners against externalities. For example, some affluent homeowners dislike the aesthetics of mixed-use housing, and others may prefer to live in an area with few or no working or lower-middle class residents. Others simply want to avoid changes to the “character” of their neighborhood.  But exclusionary zoning creates far larger negative externalities than it prevents, most notably by excluding millions of people from housing and job opportunities, thereby also greatly reducing economic growth and innovation. Moreover, even many current homeowners in areas with zoning restrictions stand to benefit from their abolition.

Also writing wisely about housing is Jason Sorens.

Deirdre McCloskey makes a strong case that Adam Smith was indeed a Christian. (DBx: Although contrary to what might be inferred from Paul Oslington, Smith’s use in An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations of the term “invisible hand” is emphatically not a suggestion that the market process is manipulated by a divine power.) A slice from McCloskey:

Smith was no intellectual coward. He denounced mercantilism, and mercantilism was the easy and popular position. Still is. If you want to be a U.S. senator from Ohio, or even a president of the United States, you must be against imports and for exports. Trade deals, for example, are always expressed in mercantilist form: Give us access to your markets and we’ll give you access to ours, because what we want is a positive balance of payments. Smith could have gone along to get along. But he didn’t. Still less plausible is it to suppose that he would have lied when agreeing to the Thirty-Nine Articles, and would have achieved his academic chairs without scrutiny, and would have schemed to lead the young Duke into atheistic temptation.

John Cochrane comments about commenting on proposed U.S. government-issued regulations.

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady decries the simplistic conclusions that many environmentalists are drawing from last-week’s deluge of air pollution spewed by Canadian forest fires. A slice:

Evaluating the causes of this complex event calls for humility, curiosity and thoughtfulness. But politicians are in charge. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer jumped in front of a camera on Wednesday to proclaim that “we cannot ignore that climate change continues to make these disasters worse.” President Biden called the Canada burn “another stark reminder of the impacts of climate change.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the chorus.

Their claims are bunk. A 2020 study, “Trends in Canadian Forest Fires, 1959–2019,” found that “there was a sharp increase in destruction caused by forest fires” in the first half of that 60-year period, “and a general decline in the second half.” The study, published by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, reported that “the all-time peak of fire activity in 1989 involved some 7.6 million hectares burned, while the most recent national data show only 1.8 million hectares burned in 2019.” Fire activity varied significantly across the country. Whereas Alberta had its second-highest fire loss in 2019 (1981 was its worst), in the prairie provinces “peak fire activity occurred several decades ago.” In the east, levels of forest fire activity were “steady.”

Robert Murphy, the author of the study, said his objective was “merely to document” what had happened with fire during that time. As to possible explanations, he mentioned “temperature and rainfall, but also local fire suppression policies, human-forest interactions, and agricultural practices.” He warned against trying to oversimplify the matter. “Any simple cause,” he observed, “would not have such disparate impacts across provinces and territories.”

Andrew Stuttaford reports that “the pandemic revealed that rather more of Leviathan lurks within the West’s democracies than we like to think.”


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