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Dan Griswold reinforces the point that the American middle-class has benefitted greatly from globalization. A slice:

In fact, when we account for changing household sizes as well as more accurate measures of price inflation, median household income in the United States has increased by 50 percent since 1967. Meanwhile, real average hourly earnings have risen by 74 percent in the past 50 years. The time that Americans must work to acquire basic household goods such as food, clothing, and appliances has fallen steadily as technology and trade have combined to make goods more affordable.

Matt Zwolinski appropriately eviscerates Jacob Soll’s book Free Market: The History of an Idea. A slice from Matt’s review:

Similarly striking mistakes run throughout the rest of the book. Soll quotes Milton Friedman, for example, as writing in Capitalism and Freedom that “all bad things come from government.” But no such claim appears on the page Soll cites—or, indeed, on any other page of the book. Soll appears simply to have made it up. Elsewhere, F.A. Hayek is said to have “painted Smith as a thinker opposed to all government intervention who focused on economic efficiency.” But the passages cited in Soll’s footnotes say no such thing. That would be a grotesque mischaracterization of Smith. And Hayek, whatever one might think of his politics, was hardly prone to this kind of gross oversimplification.

But Soll doesn’t seem to have read much Hayek. He claims Hayek played a leading role in “creating the Chicago school of free market thought,” yet Hayek was a methodological Austrian whose approach to economics was in many respects diametrically opposite that of the Chicago school. Another passage describes Hayek’s Road to Serfdom as a “declaration of total libertarian faith in individuals…and in the absolute dangers of any and all government involvement in the economy.” Yet that book endorses a great deal of government involvement in the economy, including combating externalities, preventing monopolies, fostering macroeconomic stability, and providing a guaranteed minimum income for all. There’s a good deal of logical space between opposition to centralized planning of the economy and “total libertarian faith in individuals,” but Soll’s reading appears blind to distinctions of this sort.

The pattern here is difficult to miss. Soll’s study is driven by the thesis that what most people would call free market thinking is silly and misguided. To support that thesis, he either entirely ignores major free market thinkers (he never mentions Frédéric Bastiat or Jean-Baptiste Say, let alone Frank Knight or Israel Kirzner) or badly mischaracterizes them. Libertarians like Friedman, Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises seem to be in the book only for the purpose of caricature. Extreme quotations are extracted from their context (or, with the aforementioned Friedman “quote,” simply invented out of thin air) to serve as Soll’s foil, without any serious attempt to understand these thinkers on their own terms.

Phil Magness is on the job correcting falsehoods spread by ‘teacher’-union honcho Randi Weingarten. A slice:

Weingarten has a long history of falsely claiming that vouchers originated as part of the backlash against the 1954 desegregation ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. In reality, the concept of school choice traces back centuries prior. It can be found in the works of classical liberal philosophers Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, and John Stuart Mill, all of whom were also outspoken antislavery men. As a matter of education policy, the first voucher programs came to the United States in the late 19th century, when towns in rural New England set up a town-based tuitioning system that offered students a choice in public schooling.

Voucher opponents have nonetheless pushed the line that the idea grew out of the segregationist backlash to Brown v. Board in the 1950s south. In addition to its anachronism, this claim is at odds with historical evidence. In Virginia, which adopted a voucher-like tuition grant system in 1959, several segregationist hardliners mounted a campaign against the program. According to their openly racist arguments, vouchers would open the door to the “negro engulfment” of formerly all-white public schools by giving African-American students the ability to transfer schools. This practice undermined some of the main segregationist tactics for slowing the implementation of Brown: the use of enrollment caps, geographic zoning, and other barriers to impede the enrollment of black students.

Weingarten’s own union forebears had direct culpability in these racist actions. The Virginia Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, linked arms with segregationist attorney John S. Battle, Jr. to attack the tuition grants. In 1961, the union launched a lobbying campaign to restrict their use after a Richmond newspaper reported that many parents were using the grants to move their children out of segregated schools and into integrated institutions.

Steven Greenhut bemoans California’s self-caused decline.

In South Korea, robots are taking robots’ jobs.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady reports on the political opposition in Venezuela. A slice:

One reason is that the Venezuelan government has morphed into an internationally recognized organized-crime syndicate, and even left-wing leaders like Chilean President Gabriel Boric have distanced themselves from it. “Maduro has turned into a toxic figure,” Ms. [Corina] Machado says, pointing to an ongoing investigation of allegations of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

David Bier argues that “U.S. immigration policy lags behind a globalizing world.”

Marcus Witcher and Patrick Schmucker uncover the ugly history of convict leasing in America’s postbellum south.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

In the upcoming budget, Congress should restrict funding for the @NIH, @NSF, & other scientific funding agencies to prevent them from funding projects to identify “misinformation.” Often the output from these projects is used to censor Americans online.


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