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George Will has some excellent questions for the person nominated to be the next Director of the CDC. Two slices:

The Great Barrington Declaration was issued in October 2020 by eminent epidemiologists and public health policy specialists who dissented from federally encouraged and mandated pandemic mitigation strategies — commercial lockdowns, school closures, masking toddlers, etc. The GBD’s authors — Jayanta Bhattacharya (Stanford), Sunetra Gupta (Oxford) and Martin Kulldorff (Harvard) — favored targeting protection for the most vulnerable: the elderly and others with comorbidities. (Children were the least vulnerable.) This might have saved the $6 trillion the government spent to resuscitate the economy after the government suffocated it. And might have prevented a generation’s learning loss. Was not the GBD correct?

Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, and Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, tried to orchestrate what Collins called a “takedown” of the GBD, which Collins denigrated as the opinion of “fringe” scientists. (Bhattacharya alone had more than 100 peer-reviewed articles.) Will your CDC be more receptive to heterodoxy?


• The New York Times reports that during the pandemic, CDC officials “held ‘weekly sync’ meetings with Facebook, once emailing the company 16 ‘misinformation’ posts.” A federal appeals court has held that the CDC, among other government institutions, probably violated the First Amendment with “intimidating” communications to get social media companies to remove lawful content concerning pandemic policies. The court held that government cannot pressure social media to do something the government itself cannot constitutionally do: censor speech. Should the CDC apologize and embrace legality?

Daniel Kotzin tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

The right to leave our homes and enter public spaces is one of the foundational human rights, and it is under assault like never before in human history. The fact that most people do not even notice what is happening only intensifies the nightmare and accompanying sense of dread.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, celebrates “the surprising, uplifting truth about inequality.” A slice:

However, focusing solely on income trends can sometimes blur stories of resilience and progress. Cato Institute scholar Chelsea Follett and George Mason University economist Vincent Geloso developed the Inequality of Human Progress Index to better illuminate examples of how humans are flourishing. The index measures relative gaps in international inequality across a greater number of dimensions than those which focus on simple material well-being.

These dimensions include lifespan, infant mortality, adequate nutrition, environmental quality, access to opportunity (measured by education), access to information (measured by internet access) and political freedom. Each are critically important living standards that measures of monetary income might not fully reflect. Finally, the index gives more weight to things that are harder to achieve — like the feat of increasing life expectancy from 70 to 80 compared to the first step of increasing it from 20 to 30.

By measuring the degree to which people share in these improvements of welfare, Geloso and Follett’s new index captures in much broader terms what most of us have in mind when we speak of human progress.

So, what does the index find? First, significant progress has indeed been made to improve overall well-being. These improvements appear larger than the ones reported by other measurements, such as the United Nations’ Human Development Index, in part because of the other components of human progress measured. This difference demonstrates how a simple index, no matter how useful or how widely cited it is by other experts, can fail to capture many elements of human welfare.

David Henderson recommends an old book that I’d never before heard of, but that I will now definitely read.

Mercatus Center postgraduate fellow Satya Marar, writing at The Hill, explains that the antitrust attack on Google will harm consumers. A slice:

However, this theory [advanced by antitrust bureaucrats] is speculative and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Despite “default bias,” switching search engines takes just a few clicks. Default bias wasn’t enough to ensure the survival of Internet Explorer even though that browser’s pre-loaded default status on PCs landed Microsoft in antitrust court in the 1990s. Consumers eventually left it for alternatives like Firefox and Chrome, forcing Microsoft to retire it last year.

Brian Albrecht is correct: Antitrust is easy if you know all the answers (but it’s dangerous if you only think you know all the answers). A slice:

Throughout the public-inquiry process, the agencies have asked leading questions of the public such as, “What changes in standards or approaches would appropriately strengthen enforcement against mergers?” Again, instead of following the law and economics, which may or may not require stronger enforcement, the agencies assume the answer they want. An agency that biases the information it collects leaves itself vulnerable to groupthink.

In a contribution to the Cato Institute’s splendid “Defending Globalization” project, Dan Griswold decries the unwarranted “nostalgia for a less globalized past.” Five slices:

This “nostalgianomics” is misplaced. The American economy is certainly more globalized today than it was decades ago, and just as certainly, most Americans are better off today by any real measure of economic well‐​being than their counterparts were a half century ago. In fact, increased globalization is one of the main reasons why Americans today have higher living standards than they did in the over‐​idealized past.

Nostalgianomics’ depiction of American “wage stagnation” since the 1970s is fundamentally flawed in several key ways. First, the most typical indicator of such stagnation—U.S. production and nonsupervisory workers’ average inflation‐​adjusted hourly earnings—relies on an overstated measure of U.S. inflation that makes Americans’ real‐​wage gains seem smaller over time. As authors Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, and John Early explain in The Myth of American Inequality, properly accounting for inflation turns American wage “stagnation” into significant gains:

If the inflation adjustment for real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees were to incorporate both the Chained [Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers] to remove the substitution bias and more accurate adjustments for new and improved products, real average hourly earnings would have risen 74.0 percent over the last fifty years rather than the official reported number of 8.7 percent. That is an additional $7.50 per hour.

Second, examining only wages excludes nonwage benefits—bonus pay, health insurance, paid leave, contributions to retirement savings, etc.—that have made up an increasing share of total compensation in recent decades. As Figure 3 shows, including these benefits and more, properly accounting for inflation shows substantial upward progress in workers’ total compensation since the 1950s or 1970s.


Even these adjusted income data understate the gains enjoyed by American workers in our more globalized era. In Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet, Cato scholars Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley compare time prices (i.e., how many hours people must work on average to acquire various goods and services) across decades and find that American workers have experienced dramatic gains since the 1970s. In particular, they calculate that the number of hours an average U.S. blue‐​collar worker would have to work to afford a basket of 35 consumer goods fell by 72.3 percent between 1979 and 2019 (Tupy and Pooley, p. 171). For example, in 1979, a coffeemaker cost $14.79 while the average blue‐​collar worker earned $8.34 per hour, meaning he would have to work 1.77 hours to buy the coffeemaker. By 2019, a comparable coffeemaker sold for $19.99 while the average blue‐​collar worker earned $32.36 an hour, translating to a time price of 0.62 an hour—a 65 percent decline. Using the same methodology, the authors found similar improvements for other household goods: the time price of a dishwasher had fallen by 61.5 percent; for a washing machine, by 64.6 percent; for a dryer, 61.8 percent; for a child’s crib, 90 percent; for a women’s blazer, 69 percent; and for women’s pants, 44.6 percent (Tupy and Pooley, pp. 454–56).


Populists on the left and right claim to champion the interests of blue‐​collar workers, yet they criticize the increased competition and lower barriers to trade since 1980 that have delivered a greater abundance of goods and services to those same people. A lower time price for popular goods means that American workers today need to work fewer hours to bring home a dishwasher, crib, TV set, or new outfit. That means more of their time and money can be devoted to acquiring other goods or services that further enhance their quality of life.


The story of manufacturing in our more globalized era is not that “Americans don’t make things anymore” but that U.S. manufacturing workers have become so much more specialized and productive. In particular, fewer Americans are employed in manufacturing today compared to the 1970s, but inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing output has increased dramatically over that same period, and the United States remains the world’s second-largest manufacturing nation. From 2000 to 2021, real manufacturing value-added in the United States rose by 36 percent to a record $2.56 trillion. The U.S. economy has been able to create more manufacturing value-added with fewer workers because of dramatically rising worker productivity, driven by more sophisticated equipment, more efficient production methods, a more skilled workforce, and a shift to the production of more capital-intensive goods. Today, U.S. manufacturing productivity (value-added per worker) exceeds that of Germany, Japan, and South Korea and dwarfs that of China and Mexico.