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Eric Boehm explains why Marco Rubio’s support for industrial policy is misguided. A slice:

In an op-ed published this week by The Washington Post, Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) makes the case for why conservatives ought to support top-down industrial policy set by the federal government—and, inadvertently, also provides a concise illustration of just how incoherent and illogical that idea actually is.

The article’s headline—which was likely applied by the Post‘s editors and not Rubio himself, but nonetheless captures the spirit of the piece—promises to explain why the senator believes in industrial policy “done right.” At its heart, Rubio’s argument is no more complex than that: Industrial policy is good when he gets to be in charge and bad when someone else is running it.

Certainly, there’s no way that could go wrong!

It might be slightly easier to believe that we ought to give Rubio and his friends more control over the economy if the rest of the op-ed wasn’t littered with factual errors and worrying gaps in logic. In fact, Rubio doesn’t even get through the first paragraph of the piece before making a significant error. “Today,” he writes, Congress no longer views industrial policy with the same skepticism that it once did, but “what replaces unfettered free trade remains hotly debated.”

Unfettered free trade? That’s hardly an accurate description of the current status quo in the United States—a fact that Rubio surely knows, since Florida’s sugar and fruit industries are the beneficiaries of some of the most aggressive protectionist policies on the books. Even before former President Donald Trump ramped up the use of tariffs, America had more protectionist policies than other large, developed economies: A 2015 report from Credit Suisse called the United States the world’s most protectionist developed nation.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, isn’t amused by the “jobs-creation” circus. Two slices:

In the grand circus of politics, where elephants and donkeys alike perform under the big top, there’s one act that never fails to draw a crowd: the venerable “job creation” routine. Putting people back to work, especially those without college degrees and in the manufacturing world, is in the center ring. Unfortunately, when you look behind the smoke, mirrors and rabbits hidden in hats, you’ll see that promises to rebuild America through industrial policy are just plain old corporate welfare.


So, industrial policy won’t create jobs for poorly educated workers, but it will supercharge cronyism. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards notes that Biden’s industrial policy is better described as a corporate welfare bonanza. The Inflation Reduction Act, he writes, “handed out $868 billion in energy subsidies, most of it to big corporations, including automakers, utilities, manufacturers, and hydrogen producers. Adam Michel finds that Biden’s energy tax subsidies could top $1.8 trillion.”

Mark Jamison warns of the dangers of the the Open App Markets Act.

George Leef asks: “Is learning ‘white’ English oppressive for Black students?”

Katherine Mangu-Ward reports that “with Trump and Biden on the ballot, nany voters prefer ‘None of the Above.'”

J.K. Rowling deserves applause for defending freedom of speech. [DBx: At stake here is freedom of expression, not trans rights.]

Johan Norberg ponders the precariousness of freedom. A slice:

In the United States, the most illiberal elements of the right and the left are on the offensive. Declaring that they are each other’s opposites, they are really mirror images of each other. Both are intolerant, interventionist, and impatient—viewing constitutional constraints and the separation of powers as anti‐​democratic restrictions on the will of the people. Some storm the Capitol when they lose an election; others storm the stage when they lose a debate. The common denominator is that they consider diversity a weakness and dissent as betrayal.

On economics, they tend to converge on statist, protectionist positions. These days, it’s difficult to tell if the person posting on social media about the global neoliberal conspiracy to crush the working class is a hibernating Marxist sociology professor or a young “national conservative” activist.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board reports on yet another instance of Gavin Newsom’s hypocrisy. Two slices:

California’s new $20-an-hour minimum wage for fast-food restaurants is causing pain for employers and price increases for customers. But how is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wine restaurant allowed to pay its bus-boys $16 an hour?

Republican Assembly Member Joe Patterson this week tweeted a ZipRecruiter job post offering $16 an hour for a part-time “busser” at PlumpJack Cafe near Lake Tahoe. Mr. Newsom founded the PlumpJack Group as a wine shop in 1992. His hospitality business has expanded to include four wineries and four restaurants and bars.


California has never fully recovered from Mr. Newsom’s Covid lockdowns, when he was caught dining at Napa Valley’s fancy The French Laundry shortly before he shut down other restaurants. Food services and accommodation jobs are still roughly 25,000 fewer in California than before the pandemic, though there are 31,000 more in Florida and 77,000 more in Texas.

Unemployment in California has climbed to 5.3%, the highest in the country, and is in double digits in much of the rural Central Valley. The state’s new fast-food minimum will be another economic blow—unless, apparently, you are in Gov. Newsom’s wine business.

My Mercatus Center colleague Liya Palagashvili talks, on CEI’s Free the Economy podcast, about gig work.

Eugene Fama remembers Michael Jensen, who died recently at the age of 84. (HT Tyler Cowen)

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

. @USMortality has done a great service making the developed world’s mortality statistics so readily and freely available to the public. And the lesson they tell is that lockdowns killed. Thank you, Ben!