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George Will wisely reflects on politics – and on the current sorry condition of it today in the U.S. Congress. A slice:

As Judge Neomi Rao of the of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in an American Enterprise Institute lecture, pluralism “is a deep fact of the human condition.” As the sainted James Madison said, the causes of factions are “latent” in human nature: Everybody has opinions, and everybody prefers his or hers to others’. Congress’s challenge is, Rao says, to maintain “peaceful pluralism.”

Though [Patrick] McHenry’s end-of-time colleagues think peaceful coexistence with progressives is suicidal, progressives think pluralism is, strictly speaking, stupid. Rao says they — Woodrow Wilson and his ideological spawn — thought, and think, “that experts could find the ‘right’ answers to social and economic problems” and “could, and should, impose them.” So, “the administrative zeitgeist is fundamentally at odds with pluralism” and the “ubiquity of administrative action” is a concomitant of congressional “lassitude.”

McHenry’s two congressional decades have seen an intensification of the institution’s long transformation from an assertive body capable of “drawing all power into its impetuous vortex” (Madison, Federalist 48) to what political scientist Daniel Stid calls a “willing pushover.” As Richard M. Reinsch II of the American Institute for Economic Research says, Congress now specializes in “open-ended divestitures of legislative power … that direct federal agencies to regulate in the ‘public interest’ or to make policies that are ‘fair and reasonable.’”

Scott Lincicome reports on “collateral damage in the war on ‘gig work.'” A slice:

In a new and novel working paper for George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, authors Liya Palagashvili, Paola Suarez, Christopher M. Kaiser, and Vitor Melo examined what happened in California’s labor market after the state government enacted Assembly Bill 5—a stricter version of the DOL rule that was implemented in 2019 and forcibly reclassified many independent workers in the state as traditional employees (see my previous column for more). By comparing the employment outcomes of AB5-covered occupations in California to the outcomes for those same occupations outside of California, they make three important findings:

  • First, self-employment and overall employment for covered occupations significantly decreased after AB5 entered into force. On average, self-employment in these occupations fell by 10.5 percent, while overall employment fell by 4.4 percent. Results varied for full-time and part-time workers, with the former seeing self-employment drop by 8.1 percent and no real change to traditional employment. Part time workers, on the other hand, saw a 15.2 percent and 4.6 percent drop in traditional and self-employment, respectively.
  • Second, and quite logically, the authors found greater declines in both self-employment and employment in occupations that tended to have more self-employed workers prior to AB5 (e.g., farmers and ranchers, chiropractors, and repairmen). For these occupations, self-employment fell by a whopping 28 percent and overall employment fell by as much as 14 percent.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there was no strong evidence that traditional (W-2) employment increased after AB5 took effect—the result lawmakers and other AB5 supporters intended (or, at least, say they intended). That null result wasn’t uniform across all occupations, of course, but even “in cases where we see an increase in W-2 employment, this increase was not large enough to offset the significant decreases in self-employment, thereby resulting in an overall reduction of employment in California.”

Bill Shughart warns “do not be fooled by the rosy scenario painted by recent jobs growth numbers.”

Corey DeAngelis and Dean McGee explain that “school choice is the solution to teacher strikes.” A slice:

If a legal prohibition and the threat of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines can’t prevent teachers unions from behaving badly, what can?

Last year 17 states expanded or enacted initiatives that make money available directly to parents to spend on alternative schools or educational paths for their children. Such programs work to break education monopolies by opening opportunities to all that are ordinarily reserved for the wealthy. Had parents in Newton had this option, they would have been able to avoid the disruption the strike caused. And the unions would have a weaker incentive to behave disruptively in the first place.

A private-sector employer feels the pain of an employee strike because customers can find another place to shop for goods or services. Employees have skin in the game, too, because they risk loss of their paycheck and possibly getting fired. In the public sector, however, the customers—in this case families and children—are the only ones who feel the pain. The teachers get what they want, every time. The result is a vicious circle. Teachers unions periodically hold children’s education hostage in exchange for ransom payments from taxpayers. The unions are never fully held accountable for these disruptions. Nor do they ever allow meaningful change to the system.

I hope that this suit against Deadspin is successful.

GMU Econ alum Jon Murphy has some questions for interventionists.

Blake Scott Ball asks if Gen Z can be saved by Adam Smith.