≡ Menu

Some Links

George Will explains why the reality of income inequality in America is unwelcome on both the political left and right. Two slices:

In more than 50 years, government transfer payments (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) to the average household in the bottom quintile of earners, have risen (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from $9,700 to $45,000 annually. Why, then, does the government, which is substantially staffed by progressives, use — actually, abuse — statistics to suggest the futility of progressive anti-poverty policies? Because this provides a permanent rationale for government growth: perpetual undiminished poverty.

In their 2022 book “The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate,” Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund and John Early demonstrate gross defects in the Census Bureau’s measurement of inequality. By not counting about 88 percent of government transfer payments that enlarge the buying power of lower-income households, and not counting taxes that lower the wealth of higher-income households, government statistics purport to prove that the average income in the top quintile of earners is 16.7 times that of the average in the bottom quintile. Counting transfers and taxes, however, the actual ratio is 4 to 1.


Economist Pierre Lemieux, writing in the Cato Institute’s journal Regulation, says that in 2017, 44 percent of all households had real (inflation-adjusted) incomes that 50 years earlier were earned only by those in the top 20 percent. “Recall,” he says, “that real wages increased by 74 percent over the past 50 years and the real median household income nearly doubled.”

Amid increased attention to income inequality, the populist right — “national conservatives” — and the progressive left favor “industrial policy” that regressively funnels money upward to corporations. The populist right advocates protectionism (tariffs to shield corporations from competition), and the populist left advocates hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies (for semiconductors, electric vehicles, solar panels, etc.).

Effrosyni Adamopoulou, Jeremy Greenwood, and Nezih Guner detail “the household equipment revolution.” (HT GMU Econ alum Anne Bradley) Two slices:

Imagine one day that you wake up and discover all of your household appliances have disappeared!i What would you do? How would you prepare meals, wash the dishes, clean the floor, and do the laundry?

Nowadays, in most countries a standard home is typically equipped with an oven, a microwave, a dishwasher, a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, etc. People take for granted the existence of these household appliances and do not realize the enormous amount of time that household equipment saves in daily life.

Back in 1900, without household appliances, the average US household spent 58 hours per week on meal preparation, laundry, and cleaning.


The household equipment revolution changed the way of life for households around the world during the 20th century—see Figure 12. With the reduction in the needs for household labor, driven by the introduction of new home appliances and the rationalization of the home, there was a notable increase in female labor-force participation worldwide—see Figure 13.xxi The household equipment revolution is significant even when judged alongside the new technologies in industry brought about by the Second Industrial Revolution at the turn of the last century. The decline in household labor also reduced the benefits of the traditional division of labor, with a breadwinner husband and housekeeper wife, lessening the incentives to get married—see Figure 14.xxii The household equipment revolution was an engine of liberation.

[DBx: See also here (although the video is no longer accessible).]

Juliette Sellgren talks with Giandomenica Becchio about feminist economics.

My GMU Econ and Mercatus Center colleague Pete Boettke talks with TFAS president Roger Ream.

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal warns that California’s environmental nuttiness will be suffered by all Americans. A slice:

In any case, the biggest losers of this “partnership” [of Stellantis] with California will be Americans across the country who will have fewer gas-powered options. California is imposing its EV mandate nationwide by using regulation to take auto makers hostage. Mr. Newsom may not be running for President in November, but he already acts as if he governs the country.

How the Government Almost Killed the Apple … and how the free market is saving it.

Kevin Williamson is understandably no fan of schools of journalism. A slice:

Students in law school spend time studying the work of James Madison, who never sat a day in law school in his life (his alma mater, Princeton, to this day somehow gets by without a law school) but who spent a great deal of time studying Latin, history, and literature, and somehow managed to produce the Constitution without the blessing of his local bar association. For most of the history of newspapers, journalists were some combination of entrepreneur, printer, reporter, essayist, and agitator, and there was no such thing as a journalistic credential—the work either passed the test of the reading public or it didn’t. Subjecting future reporters to the careful attention of the dean of journalism, the dean of students, the career counselor, etc., was supposed to elevate the standards of the profession.

Credentialism did not elevate journalism—it neutered it.

Steven Greenhut is correct: “The lesson of covid-19: Don’t give government more power.” A slice:

The experts and politicians touted the “science” even though that was really just a way of telling us to shut up and follow orders while they muddled their way through it. We’ve since learned that masks and plastic sneeze bars, lockdowns, school shutdowns, and the panoply of makeshift protections were, likely, of marginal value. Critics who questioned official death statistics were tarred as conspiratorialists. But even a 2023 Washington Post report found that officials seemed to be counting people who died “with” COVID rather than “from” it.