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Katherine Mangu-Ward applauds Juliette Sellgren’s podcast in the tradition of Adam Smith, The Great Antidote. A slice:

“Science is the great antidote,” wrote Adam Smith, “to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.” Juliette Sellgren began recording episodes of her Smith-infused podcast, The Great Antidote, as a locked-down high school student in 2020, when neither enthusiasm nor superstition were in short supply. Early on, she gathered an impressive collection of economists and other public intellectuals, including Matt Ridley, John Stossel, Vernon Smith, Deirdre McCloskey, Lenore Skenazy, and Russ Roberts—plus quite a few Reason staffers.

Here’s more insight from Art Carden.  A slice:

Second, demographics matter. Average income can fall even if everyone is strictly better off. Bryan Caplan explained this way back in 2005. If ten people earn $50,000 per year one year and $51,000 the next, but the group grows by another ten people entering the labor force and each earning $25,000, the group average will fall even though everyone is better off. Immigrants from Haiti routinely earn more in the US than they would back home but less than the average American worker. Low-skill, low-income immigrants can drag down the average and give the false impression of “stagnation” even though everyone is better off. Paradoxically, keeping immigrants out might mean higher average earnings in the US and Haiti, even though everyone is worse off compared to freer global labor markets.

I’m skeptical of the “stagnation” thesis for a third reason. Changing quality, variety, and assortment makes it harder to compare apples to apples. Many products today are simply better, and many things we take for granted today didn’t exist a generation ago. Comparisons between 2024 and 2023 aren’t that difficult, but largely due to changes in quality, we have to be cautious comparing 2024 to 1974.

Noah Rothman rightly encourages us to rejoice that we “are living in the Golden Age of fruit.” A slice:

Throughout history, mankind has devoted itself to engineering better produce. We are blessed to be present for the apotheosis of this enterprise.

Today, even in the dead of winter, you can head to your local grocery and find any number of wondrous varieties that have no natural right to exist. Huge, somehow crispy blueberries; seedless grapes with vivacious flavor and a light, low-tannin skin that snaps in your mouth; enormous, hydroponically grown strawberries that make no sacrifice of flavor in their pursuit of gigantism; and so on. From stone fruits that somehow manage to taste like confections to exotic oddities once exclusive to National Geographic magazine, a world of wonder is at our fingertips.

[DBx: And see also here.]

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board reports on yet another officious scheme concocted by California legislators that, if enacted, will harm the very people the scheme’s sponsors allegedly wish to help. A slice:

Progressives in Sacramento are becoming increasingly disconnected from the real economy. The latest evidence? A new California bill that would establish an employee “right to disconnect” and ignore a boss’s emails after normal working hours.

The Assembly bill is modeled after laws in a dozen or so countries, including such paragons of productivity as Argentina, France, Greece, Italy and Spain. “Smartphones have blurred the boundaries between work and home life,” says the bill’s sponsor Matt Haney.

Some workers may bristle at receiving emails beyond the normal eight-hour workday. But this is the flip side of more flexible work arrangements and smartphones. Workers have more freedom to pick up children from school, but they are sometimes expected to respond to important emails while at their kids’ soccer games.

Dylan Walsh argues for liberalizing the market in human kidneys. A slice:

There are 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney. More than half a million are on dialysis, which from my experience I know to be more of a means of survival than a form of living. About 4,000 people die each year while waiting for a kidney. Another 4,000 become too sick to undergo surgery — a gentler way of saying that they, too, die. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that without more investment in preventing diabetes and other ailments, more than one million people will be suffering from kidney failure by 2030, up from over 800,000 now.

These numbers illuminate a story of largely preventable suffering. Hundreds of millions of healthy people walk the streets quietly carrying two kidneys. They need only one. The head-scratcher is how to get kidneys from the people who have one to spare into the people who need one. Getting them from genetically modified pigs, as was recently found possible, won’t be a widespread solution for a very long time.

There’s a simpler and long overdue answer: Pay people for their kidneys.

Vance Ginn decries “Biden’s war on credit.”

Gene Healy is not impressed by the modern U.S. presidency.

Music, art, and words in memory of the Girl Next Door.

Here’s how Arnold Kling teaches statistics.