Voters are demanding less green bossiness. Sweden’s government has cut fossil fuel taxes several times in the past 12 months, taxes that have fueled populism. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with a general election impending, has announced a five-year delay, until 2035, on banning the sale of internal-combustion cars. Germany, with the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party gaining strength while denouncing “green fascism,” has said green home-heating rules will be delayed. Last month, General Motors, bowing to obdurate consumers, announced that its target of building 400,000 electric vehicles (current average price for EVs: $53,000) by mid-2024 must wait. Ford has moved its EV production target out a year.
But before climate scolds despair, they should consider what Peter Huntsman recently told the Wall Street Journal. The CEO of Huntsman Corp., which has annual revenue of about $8 billion from turning hydrocarbons into products, says the following: In 1970, global cooling was supposedly going to disrupt agriculture and other things, the ozone was going to disappear, and acid rain was going to deforest New England. Today, the real U.S. GDP is four times larger than in 1970, but Americans’ activities are emitting about the same number of metric tons of carbon dioxide, even while using much more electricity, and driving and flying many more miles. Why? Better technologies and processes; we learn and adapt.
My Mercatus Center colleague Christine McDaniel, writing in Forbes, reports on the arrogance of governments of rich countries, such as the United States, to demand that governments of poor countries impose on their people the same labor standards now imposed in rich countries. A slice:
Asking countries to recognize basic human rights and ban forced labor is one thing. But it’s not always a good idea to force less-developed countries to have the same labor laws as those in advanced industrial economies.
First, consider child labor bans. Obviously, we should not encourage child labor—but should we discourage trade with countries that use it? Child labor often exists in poor countries where the alternative may be even worse. When countries are offered more trade opportunities that can boost economic growth and household incomes, child employment declines and school enrollment increases.
That’s exactly what one study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found: Regional trade agreements (RTAs) without child labor bans tend to decrease child employment and increase school enrollment. The opposite is also true: RTAs with child labor bans tend to lead to higher child labor rates and lower school enrollment, particularly for children 14-17 years old. That is, the labor standards had the opposite of their intended effect.
The economic intuition here is that rising incomes from trade liberalization lead to a drop in the need for child labor. When parents have better employment options and more income, they send their kids to school. The key takeaway for policymakers is fairly simple: remove trade barriers with the developing world, but don’t micromanage their labor laws. Any decent parent would prefer to see their school-age children in the classroom rather than on a factory floor.
With the wind at their backs, school-choice advocates must be bolder and refuse to settle for half a loaf. The underlying problems in U.S. education demand it. Despite being the world’s most prosperous nation, the U.S. ranks 36th in math and 13th in reading on the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment, a poor showing driven in part by racial achievement gaps. Despite decades of initiatives to close those gaps, black and Hispanic students lag behind their white peers in academics, graduation rates and college enrollment.
The structure of American education is the culprit. We ask a system designed for standardization and conformity to innovate, personalize the educational experience, and address longstanding societal failures.
Today’s school-choice ecosystem, which one might refer to as “market lite,” has helped thousands of families. But millions are waiting, and current choice programs operate within the same inadequate framework. Increasing choice on the margin through partial vouchers, magnet school or other measures has yielded disappointing results because of an imperfectly competitive market. Real competition doesn’t mean entering a lottery to attend a charter school or providing vouchers worth only a fraction of public-school funding.
If we can fully commit to free-market principles in education, we can create an education system that unlocks the talents of every student in our lifetimes. I dream of the day when the inadequacies in American education are consigned to history.
What has shocked Jews much more than the atrocities of Hamas are the atrocities committed by Progressives. It turns out that Progressives support a Palestinian cause that seeks not peace and dignity for all but to drive Jews out of the Middle East completely. Progressives say that the “context” justifies rape, murder and kidnapping of innocent people. Under the doctrine of intersectionality, Progressives manage to link support for Islamic theocrats to LGBTQ rights.
The Overton Window has clearly moved for many American Jews. The Ivy League is now disgraced. Imagine if on college campuses there were students marching around in Ku Klux Klan hoods shouting racist slogans. And imagine they were doing this right after the death of George Floyd. That is what the pro-Hamas demonstrations feel like to Jewish students.
The same Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices that supposedly are there to make minorities feel comfortable on campus are actively promoting Jew-hatred. Going forward, Jews are not going to regard DEI as benevolent.
It’s Sunday morning at Manhattan’s Westside Rifle & Pistol Range, where I’ve come for a safety class as part of my application for a license to carry a concealed firearm. I’m one of at least 10 Jewish men in the class, many wearing yarmulkes. Some wouldn’t have dreamed of setting foot in this place a year ago.
“I was born and raised a Jew, and I’ve lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan my whole life,” says Yoni Ben Ami, who declines to give his age or profession but looks to be around 30. “I’ve never been uncomfortable going around town being visibly Jewish until Oct. 7 and its aftermath.” Darren Leung, owner of the Westside range, says he’s seen an “exponential” increase in Jewish permit-seekers and members.
We’re thousands of miles from Gaza, but the FBI has warned that threats to American Jews are at an all-time high. Anti-Israel protesters regularly march through the streets, and some commit acts of intimidation and vandalism. Videos have circulated of mobs smashing windows at Grand Central Terminal and trying to break down the door of a library at Cooper Union, where Jewish students were taking shelter.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022) turns out to have been well-timed. Before that decision, New York City required applicants to demonstrate a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.” The justices held that violated the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Heidi Shierholz writes, “If you are a low-income person working at the current minimum wage, a higher minimum makes you better-off, assuming no reduction in hours or employment. Most objective observers would agree that barring negative job impacts, a worker . . . is better off for it.”
In both cases, she is entirely correct. But, ah, the rhetorical beauty of dependent clauses that a reader might not notice! She has assumed away the issue at hand. Workers do lose employment and negative impacts do happen. By her logic, I would also agree that asbestos and lead paint are wonderful things for those who do not ingest their particulates.
Any teacher who has addressed the minimum wage in class knows that many students don’t like to think through these realities. Our society has emphasized good intentions so much that it pains students to scrutinize them. Modern society is so rich that it is hard for students to accept that economic pressures of scarcity could possibly still govern us and lead to these unintended consequences.