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Tunku Varadarajan reports on the ominous attempt to use Hillsdale College’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as an excuse to subject this college – which receives no government funding – to federal-government regulations that apply only to institutions that receive government funding. A slice:

Mr. [Larry] Arnn sees a darker ideological intent in this claim. “This is about the kind of society some people want us to have,” he says. “The principle that because you have a tax deduction you’re spending government money can’t mean anything other than that all money, in principle, belongs to the government.” This “tax-deduction thing,” as he calls the argument, “would be a massive expansion of government authority in one go. And of course, there are many people who seek that in America.”

Such a ruling would “sweep into the government’s net hundreds of thousands of American institutions that have sought to stay out of it,” Mr. Arnn says. The argument has won favor recently in two district courts, in California and Maryland. The latter case, Buettner-Hartsoe v. Baltimore Lutheran High School Association, has been accepted for interlocutory appeal by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A friend-of-the-court brief filed there by the Napa Institute, a Catholic nonprofit, argues that the ordinary meaning of “federal financial assistance” in Title IX refers to “funding or active support affirmatively provided by the federal government—not to an entity’s tax-exempt status.” Congress couldn’t have intended to alter the fundamental details of a regulatory scheme in vague terms, to “hide elephants in molehills,” the brief says, invoking a metaphor Justice Antonin Scalia favored.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, is among those who are appalled at the tendentious sloppiness of the empirical work of Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman. Two slices:

For instance, [Vincent] Geloso, [Phil] Magness, John Moore, and Philip Schlosser disputed Piketty’s and Saez’s claims about income-concentration levels and trends. In other papers, Magness and Geloso have exposed many other historical-data-interpretation and methodological issues with the works of Piketty, Zucman, and Saez. Others have weighed in, too, including Scott Winship.


Obviously, this means that welfare transfers have done a good job of lifting incomes. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, if you give money to people, it only makes sense that their income should go up. And this is not a reason to claim that we should have more redistribution, as it doesn’t account for the distortions created by transfers. Phil Gramm’s, Robert Ekelund’s, and John Early’s 2022 book The Myth of American Inequality has a lot on this issue. The distortions of transfers are both economic and noneconomic, and they are a big deal. We shouldn’t forget about them.

Juliette Sellgren talks with Kerianne Lawson about property rights and economic freedom.

James Pethokoukis thinks soundly about inflation, supply chains, and Bidenomics.

Speaking of Pethokoukis, he talks here with Virginia Postrel and Peter Suderman.

Chelsea Follett reviews Johan Norberg’s The Capitalist Manifesto. A slice:

Capitalism’s haters fail to recognize modern prosperity’s origins. Norberg characterizes well-off anticapitalist thinkers such as Thomas Piketty this way: “taking pride in ignoring what’s going on down there, in garages, in shops and factories, and how that might relate to the fact he lives in history’s richest civilization.”

But, the anticapitalist might protest, modern abundance rests atop a proverbial house of cards. Surely the pandemic revealed the unacceptable fragility of globalized markets?

Yet pandemic shortages proved short-lived as entrepreneurs found ways to adjust the manufacturing process to changing conditions. In many cases, companies with more complex supply chains actually adjusted faster than those with less complex supply chains, because they had more options and found alternative suppliers or manufacturers who weren’t under lockdown. Concentrations of supply chains, Norberg warns, in fact pose a greater risk of disruption than diversified ones, due to their total reliance on a smaller number of suppliers–having all their eggs in one basket. Domestically produced goods were often more likely to see shortages than imported ones; recall that it was international trade that alleviated the United States’ baby formula shortage when policymakers lifted import restrictions in response to the crisis.

James Bovard is no fan of a new biography of the late Janet Reno.

Rich Vedder is a source of wisdom about higher education. A slice:

Behavior that is accepted in the Ivory Tower but viewed as outrageous in the Real World is increasingly having adverse consequences for universities. The support our colleges and universities have always taken for granted has sharply eroded and will continue to do so unless the public can be convinced that our higher-education system is working in their interest.

Prof. Karol Sikora tweets: (HT Martin Kulldorff)

Brutal and disproportionate lockdowns were the biggest policy mistake in my lifetime, so far.

We should have properly protected the elderly/vulnerable, and allowed the rest of society to function as normally as possible.

Yes, it would have been challenging. But a blanket lockdown policy on tens of millions who were at almost zero risk from the virus was utterly disastrous.

The vast, vast majority of children were in zero danger. Yet their wellbeing and development was sacrificed without a second thought.