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The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board wisely rejects Donald Trump’s and Robert Lighthizer’s case for protectionism. A slice:

This reveals what tariffs often do in real life, which is to rob some anonymous Peter to pay some politically powerful Paul. In their earnings calls after nearly a year of Mr. Trump’s metal tariffs, steel makers bragged about record profits, while Whirlpool, Caterpillar and others lamented new costs. Ford pegged its annual hit at $750 million, and the profit-sharing checks sent to its factory workers “would be 10 percent higher were it not for tariffs,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

The public also foots the bill. “U.S. tariffs continue to be almost entirely borne by U.S. firms and consumers,” said a 2020 analysis by economists at the New York Fed, Princeton and Columbia. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that each job created or saved by Mr. Trump’s steel tariffs cost $900,000. His tax of up to 50% on imported washing machines fared little better, according to a 2019 estimate, supporting 1,800 jobs at a cost of more than $800,000 each.

That last paper is worth a read in particular because it shows how tariffs distort a market. After Mr. Trump’s import tax was imposed, prices on washers went up 11.5%, or about $86, and “all major brands increased prices,” with “no clear distinction between domestic and foreign brands.”


Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s chief tariff strategist, recently dismissed such studies as biased in favor of trade. In the face of clear economic evidence, his response is to close his eyes to it. “If all you chase is efficiency—if you think the person is better off on the unemployment line with a third 40-inch television than he is working with only two—then you’re not going to agree with me,” he told the New York Times. “My view is production is the end, and safe and happy communities are the end. You should be willing to pay a price for that.”

This is the hubris of every politician who wants to play social engineer to a continental nation of 330 million. If preserving one Ohio job in steelmaking kills two Michigan jobs in steel manufacturing, well, it takes breaking eggs to make a protectionist omelet. Pressed to react to studies saying that jobs saved via tariffs cost the public nearly $1 million apiece, Mr. Lighthizer praises the virtues of inefficiency. Forget the drain on the productive economy and the lower living standards that result.

Mike Munger writes wisely about AI.

Pierre Lemieux writes wisely about “effective altruism.”

Jon Hartley writes wisely about the “reckoning for the rising-inequality narrative.” A slice:

For many years, authors such as Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have had a sort of monopoly on the IRS microdata used to produce their top 1 percent income-share and wealth-share estimates (few researchers have access to the fixed number of IRS data seats). Many critics publicly and privately questioned whether their analysis was biased in ways designed to reinforce the case that inequality was rising sharply.

Now, ten years after the publication of Piketty’s best seller, a different research team — Gerald Auten and David Splinter (of the U.S. Treasury Department and the Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively) — with access to the same IRS data, has produced radically different results trying to measure the same top income shares, albeit with a slightly different methodology.

In their new paper, they have found that post-tax income inequality has hardly changed over recent decades. Auten and Splinter still find that pre-tax income for the top 1 percent has increased but not to the extent estimated by Piketty, Saez, and Zucman (in their most recently updated estimates).

Heather Mac Donald is correct about last-month’s Congressional testimony of three elite-university presidents:

It was those fantastically counterfactual assertions of loyalty to academic freedom that should have doomed Magill and the other two presidents. On any common understanding of truthfulness, their claims to protect “objectionable” views were flagrantly contrary to the facts. Having been exposed as hypocrites, dissemblers, and enforcers of politically correct thinking, they should all be fired as unfit to lead institutions ostensibly dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the transmission of knowledge.

Ironically, however, it was their one correct stance during the entire hearing debacle that put them in peril. However woodenly they asserted their alleged reason for not shutting down the pro-Hamas demonstrations, that reason should have been controlling. Speech should be protected unless it crosses the line into direct threats to individuals or incitement to imminent violence. Student parroting of Islamist slogans does not meet those tests. Allowing a central authority to ban speech that it declares injurious to the common good is a license for precisely the abuse of power that has been the norm throughout human history, a norm that the Founders were so insistent on overturning. Moreover, it has been in the name of creating what Magill called a “safe, secure, and supportive” campus “climate” that universities have suppressed unwelcome facts and unpopular speakers.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board argues that Francis Collins’s regrets should be more numerous. Two slices:

Dr. Collins continued: “So you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. You attach a zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never quite recovered.” This, he explained, “is a public-health mindset,” which was “another mistake we made.”

This was precisely the argument we made on March 20, 2020 (“Rethinking the Virus Shutdown”), for politicians not to accept the lockdown advice of public-health officials as gospel. They think too narrowly, and political leaders have to consider the larger consequences of policies for the public good.

Dr. Collins’s mini-mea culpa still doesn’t make up for his collaboration with Anthony Fauci to discredit the Great Barrington Declaration, which advocated a strategy of focused protection on the elderly and vulnerable while letting younger people at lower risk continue with their lives. Nor does the former NIH head apologize for trying to censor different health-policy advice.

He acknowledged in the Covid discussion that the declaration “could have been a great opportunity for a broad scientific discussion about the pros and cons” of focused protection. But then he blames the declaration’s authors for “short-circuiting” debate by trying to change national policy without first consulting public-health officials. Who really shut down that debate?


The lockdowns did tremendous harm that we are still living with. That and the effort by Drs. Collins and Fauci to shut off all debate is a major reason the public has lost trust in public-health experts.

And here’s Vinay Prasad on Francis Collins’s recent comments. (HT Jay Bhattacharya)