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Scott Lincicome is not impressed with Tucker Carlson’s impressions of Russia. A slice:

Let’s start with that supposedly incredible Russian grocery store technology. As National Review’s Dominic Pino first pointed out, the futuristic Russian amenities that so captivated Carlson—coin-operated shopping carts, in-store bakeries, cart escalators, etc.—have been available at American grocery stores, even discount ones, for decades. (See, for example, Aldi or Wegman’s or Lidl.) Many American stores lack these amazing sci-fi technologies (LOL) simply because they’re unnecessary—not because we’re suffering from some sort of “radicalizing” national decline or whatever. And, of course, U.S. supermarkets are constantly innovating with new items, amenities, and technologies like smart carts, dynamic pricing, scan-and-go, made-to-order meals (ordered online or at a kiosk), and artificial intelligence—a testament to intense competition in the low-margin U.S. industry.

Carlson’s economics are similarly mistaken. First, he seemingly fails to understand that the surprisingly low price for his groceries—about $100 when he and his crew expected $400—is a tribute to American, not Russian, wealth. According to the latest data from the World Bank, for example, the median American worker would need to work about a day and a half to afford $100 worth of groceries, while it’d take the median Russian almost a week. A similar gap applies to the poor: The daily income or consumption of the poorest 10 percent of Americans in 2022 was more than three times that of their Russian counterparts, after adjusting for inflation and cost of living—a wealth differential that’s actually widened (from around 2.5 times) over the last decade.

Varad Raigaonkar decries “government’s expensive and protectionist public-private partnership meant to address concerns over a reliance on foreign countries, like China, for chips.” A slice:

The CHIPS and Science Act passed with bipartisan support. But its detractors were also made up of strange bedfellows. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and then-Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) both referred to the law as “corporate welfare” and a “blank check.” Sanders went as far as to call it a “bribe.”

“When the government adopts an industrial policy that socializes all the risk and privatizes all the profits, that is crony capitalism,” Sanders said.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, is understandably frustrated with advocates of industrial policy. A slice:

At the end of the day, those in favor of industrial policy must make a choice: Will they first eliminate the regulatory obstacles erected by the government and then assess what might productively be done, or will they instead plow forward with further government interventions — interventions destined to fail? I know the answer, and it worries me. With deregulation, there is less opportunity than there is with further regulation to exercise power.

George Will writes wisely about journalism – and about the misguided calls for government subsidization thereof. A slice:

Soon, government would mandate hiring and coverage quotas for “underrepresented” groups, would enforce government’s idea of editorial “balance,” would censor what government considers “misinformation” about public health, diversity, equity and inclusion, and would dictate all things pertinent to government’s ever-lengthening agenda. The task force’s recommendations — journalism throwing itself into government’s muscular arms — are a recipe for making local news sources as admired and trusted as government is.

Barry Brownstein is correct: “America’s DEI commissars threaten freedom.”

E Unum Pluribus?

Erec Smith explains why he’s devoted most of his career “to combatting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.” Two slices:

The U.S. is currently celebrating Black History Month, and I’ve been asked to share my thoughts about how this month of celebration aligns with DEI initiatives. The answer to that question depends on the type of DEI. Some DEI initiatives align with the classical liberal values of the civil rights movement, and indeed of America’s founding, such as freedom and equal opportunity for all, regardless of skin color. Other versions of DEI, however, are undergirded by critical social justice (CSJ), an ideology that pits whites and Blacks against each other; whites are perpetual oppressors, and Blacks are perpetually oppressed. This variation of DEI, which I refer to as CSJ-DEI, is the ideology that was on display during the aforementioned listserv debacle. It insists on the perpetual victim status of Black Americans and, in so doing, is ideologically opposed to the celebration of Black Americans because it focuses on their trials, not their triumphs. Black History Month is supposed to be about Black empowerment, but CSJ-DEI depends on Black disempowerment.


Virtuous lies are anything but virtuous in these situations, but they show up in traditionally virtuous places, such as scholarly journals. In the scientific journal Cell, prominent scientists insist that the Black individuals among their ranks “continue to suffer institutional slavery.” In addition, a philosophy professor argues that the “years 1492 and 1619 and 1857 and 1955 are still now” and insists she means this in “a meaningful, non-metaphorical sense” (my emphasis). The absurdity of these statements is matched, if not eclipsed, only by the fact that these authors were confident their arguments would be taken seriously. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was emboldened enough to say that a false narrative is acceptable if it feels “morally right”; to insist on facts is to be misguided.

Bob Graboyes riffs on “the mortality of New Yorkers, presidents, dogs, and TV characters.”

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

In 2022, @MartinKulldorff and I warned that public health’s embrace of covid vax mandates, political partisanship, and the “noble” lie would increase public skepticism about other vaccines, including essential ones. Alas, this prophecy has come true.