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Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, my GMU Econ colleague Dan Klein explains an illogical move by supporters of censorship to increase the government’s power to superintend people’s expressions. A slice:

In Murthy, however, the government defends its actions in terms of combatting misinformation and disinformation. The administration and other practitioners and proponents of censorship thereby pretend that they are merely protecting the public from cut-and-dried falsehoods. In doing so, they misrepresent their actions and attempt to evade responsibility for arrogating to themselves the decision of what is safe and sound for people to see and hear.

George Will applauds the effort to encourage K-12 school choice in Arizona – and also criticizes efforts to suppress it. A slice:

The pandemic was an ill wind that filled the sails of the choice movement nationally. Children consigned to “remote learning” opened their laptops at home, and parents heard indoctrination served up as learning. And they recoiled against teachers unions that lobbied to keep schools closed, even though children were an age cohort essentially unthreatened by the coronavirus. Even before pandemic, an illegal teachers strike had Arizona parents (in [Rep. Ben] Toma’s words) “fleeing the stupidity.” As the Goldwater Institute’s Timothy Sandefur has said, “The mystique of the public school teacher” is fading.

Ninety-nine years ago, the Supreme Court, declaring unconstitutional an Oregon law requiring children to attend public schools, affirmed parents’ right to “direct” their children’s education. Teachers unions, among Democrats’ largest donors, work tenaciously to attenuate this right with regulations and litigations about even schools’ minute operational choices.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, isn’t falling for Marco Rubio’s economically ignorant argument for “industrial policy done right.” A slice:

First, even if his version of industrial policy — which he claims will be different from the Biden version — were to produce a manufacturing boom, it wouldn’t produce a boom in manufacturing employment precisely because modern manufacturing relies heavily on automation. Let me repeat this again: Industrial policy will not turn us back into a nation of factory workers, especially one that employs the workers that the senator is concerned about.

Then what’s the plan? Does he want to force factories to retool with 1950s technology so that the resulting lower worker productivity will require many more man-hours in manufacturing work? And does he realize that, if such an outcome were to occur, the lower productivity of manufacturing workers would dramatically drive down manufacturing wages? What would that do to his plan for well-paying jobs in manufacturing?

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal reports on yet another instance of how industrial policy in reality is very different from industrial policy on paper. A slice:

It’s a shame to see Intel, a legendary U.S. company, being captured by government like this. All told, Intel could pocket some $50 billion in federal subsidies. Yet Mr. Gelsinger wants more. American chip manufacturing “doesn’t get fixed in one three- to five-year program,” the CEO said last month. “I do think we’ll need at least a CHIPS 2 to finish that job.”

Maybe two or three more chips funding bills will be needed if Intel foundries keep bleeding red ink. On Tuesday Intel disclosed that it doesn’t expect its foundry business to break even until “midway” between now and the end of 2030. One problem is demand for Intel’s server and PC chips is slackening as more tech investment flows into AI.

David Barker decries climate alarmists’ bad ‘science.’ Three slices:

I debunked research by the Federal Reserve and top academic economists on the economics of climate change. An author of a paper I debunked then said that three professors from Stanford and Berkeley had done a much better analysis of temperature and growth in an article they published in Nature. I took up the challenge and scrutinized their article. My critique appears in the latest issue of Econ Journal Watch.

The Nature article is in the top 0.1% of academic economics publications by citations, and it has received glowing press coverage. I downloaded their data and found that, as with the other articles I debunked, the results don’t hold up under scrutiny.


Rather than uncovering a consistent relationship between growth and temperature around the world, their results are driven by relatively few countries. Dropping Greenland and a group of contiguous northern and central African countries, for example, eliminates the practical and statistical significance of their results.

The authors claim that there is no tendency for their results to diminish over time, because they find that the results for 1961-89 and 1990-2010 are similar. But changing the cutoff year to 1990 instead of 1989 changes this conclusion, because the data from 1991-2010 show no statistically significant relationship between growth and temperature. Because some countries are missing data from early years, a cutoff of 1990 would do a better job of matching the number of observations between the two periods. There is also evidence that if a result is present at all, it is completely reversed the following year.

I also produce simulated data with random numbers representing temperature and growth that are correlated by region, but with no relationship between temperature and growth. I find that the authors’ method is likely to indicate a statistically significant relationship even though the data are constructed to have no such relationship.


The law of supply and demand applies to tomatoes and also to ideas. Demand for research that bolsters arguments for bad policy leads to supply of research. Truth provides some constraints but doesn’t always prevail.

Fortunately, such publications as Econ Journal Watch give a platform to researchers who challenge reigning propaganda. More academics and independent researchers are uncovering bias, fraud and plagiarism, bringing a bit of discipline to a field greatly in need of it.

Kevin Corcoran riffs wisely on the joke about economists and the $20 bill laying on the sidewalk.

Arnold Kling usefully asks: “When are the laws of probability useful?”

Scott LIncicome is almost certain that California’s newly hiked minimum wage for workers in fast-food restaurants will end badly. A slice:

We first reviewed the minimum wage debate and relevant academic literature three years ago, and the issue gets a nice refresher in my Cato colleague Ryan Bourne’s excellent book The War on Prices, which comes out next month and is a one-stop shop for all things price related (inflation, rent/price controls, etc.). The minimum wage issue gets two book chapters, with the first from University of California-San Diego economist Jeffrey Clemens on the myriad workplace trade-offs—not just aggregate jobs—associated with state and local wage laws. As Clemens notes, “studies of large minimum wage increases [me: like the one in California] regularly find evidence that those increases result in substantial job losses, especially for the least-skilled, least-experienced, and least-productive workers.” But there are many other labor market “channels” through which wage controls might act. In particular, studies show that employers often adjust in response to new minimum wage laws via—

  • Reductions in the amount or quality of fringe benefits, such as employer-provided health insurance and employee discounts;
  • Reductions in amenities like schedule flexibility, vacation/sick days, training opportunities, safety provisions, or workplace aesthetics—all in ways that reduce employers’ costs but also make work a little less pleasant for employees;
  • Increases in performance requirements (higher production targets, shorter break times, etc.) to get more output from each employee hour worked;
  • Efforts to avoid minimum wage laws, either lawfully (e.g., by keeping employee count below a threshold that triggers the mandate) or unlawfully (e.g., by systematic underpayment);
  • Changes in hiring patterns, replacing lower-performing workers with higher-performing ones—often doing this via imprecise proxies for worker quality like age or credentials; and/or
  • Reductions in work hours, especially for new or inexperienced workers.

Clemens concludes that any proper evaluation of minimum wage laws must account for these often-invisible trade-offs too, not simply look at whether mandated pay hikes reduce the total number of jobs in an affected jurisdiction. (This might make obvious sense to you and me, but discussions of the minimum wage far too frequently paint the issue as a simple choice between fewer jobs and higher earnings.)

James Allan reflects on the authoritarianism of covidians. A slice:

At any rate, during the lockdowns judges in Canada (and let’s be blunt, around the democratic world) were as panicked as all the other elites. Retired UK Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption may have noted early on that the authoritarian response to COVID amounted to the biggest inroads on our civil liberties in two hundred years. Yet he was a very solitary voice. Nearly all the judges were as frightened and panicked as most everyone else. There was next to no chance litigants were going to roll back governmental regulations through the courts. I said so in print at the start of the crisis and I believe events have proved that true. My take was that we would have to wait till everyone calmed down and the panic subsided and then you would see the judges discover a bit of a willingness to overturn some of these rules and regulations. But as far as the COVID years were concerned the entire edifice of human rights law, and all its accoutrements, was totally useless. Worse than useless in fact.

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

The old blue check system on Twitter did not mark expertise. It marked usefulness to power and compliance with narrative.