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My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, reveals how political realities distort industrial-policy schemes. A slice:

Arguments about how industrial policy can work often ignore political-economy problems. Yet these problems not only are real, they are significant. Many of us have already mentioned how the CHIPS Act’s semiconductor subsidies are being saddled with counterproductive requirements such as child care, Buy American, union-engagement mandates, and more.

Unfortunately, the expenses of the Biden administration’s labor-union requirements are swelling every day and getting in the way of increasing the output of American-made semiconductors.

Also from Vero is this call for serious reform of the U.S. government’s currently dysfunctional system for budgeting. (DBx: Question for proponents of industrial policy: Given that U.S. government officials routinely encounter enormous, self-created difficulties in performing a core function of their job – namely, making an annual government budget – what reason have you to suppose that these same solons can be trusted to carry out smoothly and effectively whichever particular scheme of industrial policy you propose they carry out?)

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino explains that journalism is not a public good. A slice:

[Journalism professor Patrick] Walters tries to make this problem for journalists’ employment prospects into a societal problem, in much the same way that any special-interest group tries to disguise its desire for government favors into concern for the public. The comparison between journalism and clean water is no less absurd than sugar lobbyists’ conviction that sugar protectionism is vital to national security.

Mike Munger praises Ludwig von Mises as a “catallactic converter.” A slice:

In the state of nature, I want shoes, and you want shoes. There are not enough shoes, so we have to fight. But if we can create a system where private property is reliably preserved, and can be exchanged, at low transaction costs, then we can make more shoes. So, rather than fighting over a fixed quantity of shoes in the state of nature, we can cooperate, because we all want shoes. The difference between the state of nature and a system of catallactic cooperation is that social relations are not fixed in the latter system. Commercial society rewards cooperation, and manners.

Brendan O’Neill is correct: “Forget global boiling – it’s global panic-mongering we should be angry about.” Two slices:

The planet is not on fire. Earth is not burning. These are untruths. This is delirium, not journalism; fearmongering, not fact-gathering. And the aim, it seems to me, is to try to control us; to frighten us with pseudo-Biblical prophesies of hellfire and doom until we obediently bow down to the eco-ideology.


The mainstream media may have been awash with images of wildfires in Greece, Cyprus and Portugal over the past fortnight, and newsreaders might be wringing their manicured hands over the blistering temperatures in southern Europe and the stern homilies for wicked humanity contained in such heat, but the fact is that less of our planet is on fire than was the case 20 years ago. In the early 2000s, around three per cent of the Earth’s land caught fire. It’s been trending downward since. In 2022 just 2.2 per cent of land caught fire – a ‘record low’. Yes, in places like Canada more land has been consumed by nature’s flames, but in much of the rest of the world, including Africa and Europe, we’ve seen ‘lower burning’, [Bjorn] Lomborg reports.

You won’t hear this on the nightly news. They’re too busy making breathless predictions about the fiery end of our species to communicate the cool – pun intended – facts about wildfires. What’s more, the Greek government suspects that a majority of the more than 600 fires Greece has suffered in recent weeks were started by ‘human hand’. In short, arsonists are to blame, not sinful, industrious humanity. Yes, it has been very hot in parts of Europe, and yes this has caused difficulties for many people. Properties have burned, homes have been lost. But extreme heat – and its bastard offspring: fire – has been a part of the human experience forever. One example: the current heat in Spain of 40-plus degrees is being talked about as a Dante-like ordeal, yet in Spain in 1933 temperatures reached 42.5C. It was like a ‘steaming cauldron’, news reports said.

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan makes available two lectures by the late, great Ralph Raico.

Richard Gunderman does a postmortem on the pandemic. Two slices:

It is becoming increasingly clear that US efforts to reduce COVID transmission caused considerable suffering. School closures and the shift to online learning—which disproportionately affected students from disadvantaged backgrounds—resulted in dramatic drops in achievement scores across the nation. Rates of social isolation and associated depression, anxiety, and drug overdose increased sharply. The economic impact was little short of catastrophic, especially among the poor, with millions of jobs eliminated, hundreds of thousands of businesses permanently shuttered, and trillions of dollars lost. In these and other ways, the “cure” proved worse than the disease.

Too often, COVID’s dangers were exaggerated. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci told Congress in March 2020 that COVID-19 was at least 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, citing the World Health Organization’s fatality rate estimate of 3.4%. Asked to estimate total fatalities in the US, he declined to give a number, but said, “If we’re complacent and don’t do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions.” The problem, of course, was that the disease had already spread widely and that many infected showed few or no symptoms. The true fatality rate turned out to be 0.2%.

Of course, this figure applies across the entire population, which blurs some important distinctions. Those at highest risk of death from COVID-19 were the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, in whom rates were orders of magnitude higher than in the young and healthy. In fact, among healthy school-age children, the risk of death was virtually non-existent, and teachers were at no greater risk of death than others. The pandemic’s real threat to schoolchildren was not posed by the virus but by policy overreactions that kept kids out of school, stunting learning and spawning a youth mental health crisis. Schools should never have closed.

Why would public health leaders overstate the dangers of COVID? We cannot know for sure, but individuals whose whole professional career centers on public health are likely to overly esteem health and threats to it. This is one reason that the nation’s response to public health threats should be informed but never controlled by public health officials. They should present their case to officials with a broader portfolio, who can then balance the protection of health against other goods, such as education, the vitality of social and community life, and standards of living. Public health officials need a seat at the table, but they should never drown out other key voices.


Takedowns [such as that which was engineered by Francis Collins and Fauci against the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration] are not the modus operandi of science, academia, or even sound public policy. Takedowns are the technique of autocrats, or at least those who exhibit autocratic tendencies. To prevent leaders from seizing on public health challenges as opportunities to consolidate and augment their power, it is vital that Americans insist on accountability. We should never simply accept without question the presumptions that an emerging pandemic calls for extraordinary countermeasures, that government officials seek truth before all else, or that naysayers can be dismissed as “fringe” elements. The best disinfectants are not masks or vaccines, but truth and the civil liberties essential to its pursuit.

Kulvinder Kaur tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Lockdowns kill. Censorship kills.