George Will argues against that which shouldn’t (but, sigh, does) need arguing against – namely, the proposition that Congress must grant American citizens the privilege of using the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights under the 5th amendment’s takings clause. A slice:
Amazingly, 233 years after the Fifth Amendment and 156 years after the 14th Amendment were, respectively, added to the Constitution, the Supreme Court must swat away Texas’s contention that it cannot be sued in federal court absent Congress’s authorization. As though the 14th Amendment were written to enhance Congress’s power rather than to protect individuals’ rights.
Both the populist right and left are protectionist when it comes to trade. While the right advocates for protectionism to support national security, preserve manufacturing, and maintain national sovereignty, the left supports tariffs and other trade restraints to protect workers’ rights, prevent exploitation in developing countries, and reduce environmental impact. Both sides, if for different reasons, favor trade barriers and are skeptical of free-trade agreements. The best evidence is that President Joe Biden has retained most of former President Donald Trump’s tariffs.
Similarly, under the misguided excuse of strengthening our economy, both sides now practice an industrial policy that dispenses massive subsidies, tax credits, and other government-granted corporate privileges. For instance, the Biden administration’s $52 billion in federal tax breaks and subsidies through the CHIPS Act to prop up the semiconductor industry, including reports of $40 billion—77 percent of the funds—benefiting giant companies like Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., was passed in a bipartisan way.
Utterly inconsistently, both sides also express serious distrust in mega-corporations. The New Right often views large corporations as part of a “global elite” disconnected from the average citizen and influencing government policies for its own benefit. Meanwhile, the left criticizes these entities for their alleged role in increasing income inequality, opposing workers’ rights and degrading the environment.
As a result, despite throwing money at big businesses with one hand, both sides are bogging down corporations—especially the ones that successfully earn a lot of customers—with the other hand, stacking up regulations, or even threatening to break them up with antitrust cases.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly criticizes Gavin Newsom – “Realtor of the Year” for the past couple of years in Florida, Tennessee, and Texas – for his ludicrous assertion that people are misinformed about California’s high taxes and oppressive regulations. Two slices:
Between 2020 and 2022, the state lost nearly 40,000 residents with graduate or professional degrees on net. What a brain drain. They aren’t leaving because of misinformation about California. They’re leaving in part because they see their tax bills, which they know will have to increase to pay for the state’s promises to public unions and ever-expanding welfare state.
This year California’s top marginal tax rate on wages will increase to 14.4% owing to a 2022 law signed by Mr. Newsom that removed the $145,600 wage limit for a 1.1% payroll tax to fund expanded paid family leave. (The wage limit rose to $153,164 in 2023.) This means the 9.3% marginal tax rate for middle-class Californians will increase by 1.1 percentage point to 10.4%—more than millionaires pay in almost every state.
By the way, Mr. Newsom’s successor may also be less opposed to a wealth tax. Attorney General Rob Bonta, who has his eye on the governorship, championed a wealth tax when he was in the Legislature.
Most workers in the gig economy say they like their jobs and value the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor.
The federal government, however, is coming to rescue them from their own choices.
The Department of Labor announced new rules this week that will limit the circumstances in which workers can be classified as independent contractors. Once implemented, those rules will force some workers currently operating as independent contractors to become full-fledged employees—thus triggering other federal mandates regarding pay and benefits.
Michael Chapman updates us on Argentina. A slice:
Argentine president Javier Milei was sworn into office on December 10. In the last thirty days or so, the libertarian economist has consolidated eighteen government ministries into nine, fired 5,000 government workers, devalued the peso so it is closer to the market rate, and introduced a 350‐page package of economic reforms that would make Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek smile.
It’s not news that the six-feet rule [for ‘social distancing’] lacked scientific rhyme or reason. A BMJ article in August 2020 explained as much. It noted that the virus’s transmissibility depends on many factors, including ventilation, the host’s viral load and symptoms, and the duration of exposure, among other things.
Officials nonetheless promoted the arbitrary rule because they didn’t trust Americans to understand scientific nuance or, for that matter, anything. Businesses, churches and schools that weren’t forced to close had to spend money reconfiguring their operations to comply with these government guidelines.
It’s nice of Dr. Fauci to acknowledge now that the rule lacked a scientific basis. But at the time he and other officials didn’t want to acknowledge this lest the public question other Covid nostrums. Dr. Fauci had already undermined public trust by confessing that his advice not to wear a mask early in the pandemic was guided by political expedience.
Dr. Fauci also told the House that vaccine mandates “could increase vaccine hesitancy in the future,” according to Chairman Brad Wenstrup. Yes, it may, as we warned when President Biden imposed his vaccine mandates. Yet Dr. Fauci insisted that making life difficult for unvaccinated Americans would compel them to fall into line.
Making life difficult may have also been the point of the six-feet rule. Officials effectively forced businesses and schools to close by making it exceedingly burdensome to stay open, all the while dodging responsibility.