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The Wall Street Journal profiles Data Colada’s Leif Nelson, Joe Simmons, and Uri Simonsohn – three scholars devoted to uncovering fraudulent uses of data in academic research. A slice:

Simmons and his two colleagues are among a growing number of scientists in various fields around the world who moonlight as data detectives, sifting through studies published in scholarly journals for evidence of fraud.

At least 5,500 faulty papers were retracted in 2022, compared with 119 in 2002, according to Retraction Watch, a website that keeps a tally. The jump largely reflects the investigative work of the Data Colada scientists and many other academic volunteers, said Dr. Ivan Oransky, the site’s co-founder. Their discoveries have led to embarrassing retractions, upended careers and retaliatory lawsuits.

(DBx: As David Henderson said in an e-mail, the WSJ should also profile Phil Magness for his important work along the lines.)

Mike Munger digs deeply yet with clarity into the basic economics and ethics of taxation.

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady reports on how the Biden administration is using a provision in the USMCA – which is Trump’s revised version of NAFTA – to score political points with American labor-union bosses and sympathizers. A slice:

Katherine Tai was trade counsel for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee when Mr. Trump was trying to get the USMCA through Congress. Now she’s the U.S. trade representative, or USTR for short. Along with her predecessor, Bob Lighthizer, she played a key role in developing the problematic rule. It isn’t clear that right-to-work states in the U.S. could pass its tests. Thanks go to Ms. Tai for demonstrating that the rule is also easy to abuse for political gain.

Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley describes California’s “smash-and-grab politics.” A slice:

Democrats this month also passed legislation raising the minimum wage for healthcare workers to $25 an hour. The bill was fashioned as a compromise after the Service Employees International Union threatened to bankroll ballot initiatives that would impose costly regulation on kidney dialysis centers, such as minimum staffing requirements.

In the past three election cycles, the SEIU has spearheaded three unsuccessful ballot measures targeting dialysis centers. Defeating them cost the industry roughly $300 million. To avoid another costly ballot fight, the centers backed the minimum-wage proposal. In other words, the dialysis industry let itself be looted by Democrats and their union friends in return for not getting its windows smashed in.

Fast-food restaurants this month also dropped a ballot referendum to overturn a state wage-fixing council and endorsed a bill establishing a $20 an hour minimum wage for their workers. The deal came after Mr. Newsom and Democrats threatened to enact legislation that would have allowed plaintiff attorneys and unions to shake down the restaurants.

Colin Grabow applauds India’s likely move to scrap its version of the Jones Act. A slice:

In stark contrast, the United States clings to the 103‐​year‐​old Jones Act, described by the World Economic Forum as the world’s “most restrictive example” of a cabotage law. The title is well deserved. A 1991 U.S. Maritime Administration summary of the world’s cabotage laws, for example, found the United States was one of just six countries—Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Peru, and Spain being the others—that required vessels used in domestic trade to be constructed in that same country. Since then, Spain has discarded its prohibition on foreign‐​built vessels, Brazil has liberalized its cabotage law, and the other countries have requirements significantly less severe than those of the Jones Act.

Scott Sumner writes about why the general public generally fails to grasp even the most basic of economic insights, especially about the nature and role of prices.

It seems as though the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a strategic tool for improving the incumbent politicians’ prospects at the polls.

Corbin Barthold isn’t impressed with the latest book by Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson. A slice:

This ceaseless griping about “the visions of powerful elites” is hard to take seriously. The authors appear to have slept through the ongoing techlash—a panic stoked by the purportedly mesmerized media—and they are blind to the many competing power centers with which tech firms must contend. They clamor for more nonprofit pressure groups, oblivious to the swarms of such outfits already attacking the tech sector. They want “cacophonous voices” engaged in political debate, but they won’t admit that information technology has benefited the raucous average citizen at the expense of the elite legacy media. And they never reflect on the fact that they themselves are two elites who have written a book full of conventional elite opinions.

Acemoglu and Johnson can’t make up their minds about the common man. They accuse tech leaders of thinking that “most humans are not that wise and may not even understand what is good for them.” But they themselves think most people are easily manipulated by misinformation and propaganda. Many internet users are not “privacy conscious,” the authors declare, because “they do not understand how data will be utilized against them.” Acemoglu and Johnson think people need the protection of a modern “fairness doctrine” for social media (a scheme likely to include “the monitoring of the most heavily subscribed accounts”). An undercurrent of the book is that, deep down, the “voiceless” want whatever progressive intellectuals want them to want. Apparently, it’s good to manipulate the lower orders, but only if you do it the right way—the way that ensures they “have an informed view” by the lights of prominent academics.

Raymond March decries pandemic politics. A slice:

In an article published in the Southern Economic Journal, authors Christopher Coyne, Thomas Duncan, and Abigail Hall note that infectious disease outbreaks prompt large shifts of resources to governments. Governments, with their own incentives and goals, distribute resources and exchange favors in ways that benefit them. Some of these favors involve passing measures that benefit special interest groups—including funding hospitals and supporting school closures.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

Why does @JustinTrudeau so lightly restrict the free movement rights of Canadians? It’s a fundamental civil right, and yet Trudeau seems to think it’s optional. During covid, he prevented huge classes of Canadian citizens from traveling internally within Canada. Authoritarian.