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George Will warns of the dangers of banning TikTok. Two slices:

TikTok successfully incited its U.S. users, who an independent monitor says spend much more time on it than people do on Instagram or Snapchat, to inundate Congress with pleas on the app’s behalf. Legislators considered this evidence of how manipulable Americans (especially but not only young ones) are, and why they need protection from TikTok. So, the argument for the ban-or-divest law rests on the idea that people should trust their government, which does not trust them to furnish their own minds.


Today’s TikTok panic — the legislation against it sped through the House in 47 days — is occurring in an America whose commitment to free speech has withered in recent decades. Many progressives, especially, believe free speech is often harmful, so the First Amendment is, to use the mincing adjective progressives adore, “problematic.” Progressivism is inherently paternalistic — government knows best; eat your spinach — and hence infantilizing. Many conservatives are making this a bipartisan temptation.

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins writes about “EV tariffs and the inanity of Bidenism.” A slice:

It’s time to admit that the Biden administration might be something more than snake-bit.
The latest evidence of actual clinical incompetence is its 100% tariff on Chinese electric vehicles, announced Tuesday. If the goal is to get Americans to use EVs, how does it make sense to raise their cost to consumers? It doesn’t. The real explanation is the familiar process by which bad policy begets bad policy—in this case, the disaster unfolding in Detroit saddled with billions in losses for EVs the public won’t buy at anything resembling the cost of building them.

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino is correct: “The China tariffs aren’t about national security.” Two slices:

Free-trade skeptics will say that even Adam Smith recognized national-security exceptions to free trade, and China presents a threat to U.S. national security, therefore tariffs on China are smart and necessary. They’re correct that there are national-security exceptions to free trade, and they are correct that China presents a threat to U.S. national security. But it does not follow from those two facts that tariffs on China are smart and necessary.


If the Biden administration wants to make a national-security case against Chinese EVs, steel, or semiconductors, it has all of those laws at its disposal to do so. It has not made that argument. As NR’s editorial from this morning says, “Biden is protecting industries close to government while performing for his pals in organized labor, not being tough on China.”

Arnold Kling writes persuasively about the 2008 financial crisis.

Marian Tupy, in a new contribution to the Cato Institute’s splendid Defending Globalization project, explains that, in market economies, “the more resources we consume, the more we have.” A slice:

New knowledge can also help us create ever more value from the same resource. Around 5,000 years ago, someone in Mesopotamia noticed that when sand is heated to 3,090 degrees Fahrenheit, it melts and turns to glass. Our distant ancestors’ first use of glass was for decorative purposes, such as glass beads. Sometime later, they started to use sand to make glass jars, cups, and, later still, windows. Today, we use glass in fiberoptic cables and microchips. With every step of the way, the value we derived from a grain of sand increased, and no one knows what marvelous innovations will rely on sand in the future. The US economist Thomas Sowell is thus surely correct to observe that “the cavemen had the same natural resources at their disposal as we have today, and the difference between their standard of living and ours is a difference between the knowledge they could bring to bear on those resources and the knowledge used today.”

Consider also our ability to turn a previously useless or even harmful resource to our benefit. In the early 20th century, when oil was the primary target of drilling operations, natural gas was often seen as a byproduct with little or no economic value. As such, gas was frequently vented into the atmosphere or flared (burned off), which was wasteful and environmentally harmful. Moreover, natural gas leaks were a significant hazard, particularly in oil fields, where accidental ignitions could lead to explosions. Today in advanced economies, we have the technology to capture, transport, sell, and use gas in great volumes, thereby increasing our resource base and reducing our carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

John Cochrane reads Milton Friedman’s and George Stigler’s marvelous 1946 monograph, Roofs or Ceilings?

Martin Casado and Katherine Boyle counsel caution before swallowing arguments for government regulation of AI in the name of national security. A slice:

The Department of Homeland Security on April 29 announced the formation of the AI Safety and Security Board, whose purpose is to advise the department, the private sector and the public on “safe and secure development and deployment of AI in our nation’s critical infrastructure.” While the department is right to ensure critical infrastructure remains safe from our adversaries, the creation of the new board exemplifies how Big Tech has been feeding an anti-open-source message to defense and national-security agencies, seeking to hoard the gains of a technological platform shift that should benefit all Americans.

Lina Khan loses again in court. A slice:

Her theory is a major departure from antitrust laws, as the judge noted. Ms. Khan keeps losing cases because she ignores the consumer welfare standard and other bedrock antitrust principles. Yet she trumpets legal defeats as victories and keeps grinning like she’s winning.

Inspired by the new Ryan Bourne-edited book on prices, my intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, sings prices’ praises and warns against government attempts to control them. Two slices:

Prices are threads stitching together the fabric of our economy. They guide countless producers, here and abroad, to meet the most urgent demands of countless consumers. Prices enable the economic coordination of millions of individuals—each with his or her own unique preferences, skills, and resources—with no need for a central planner. They direct entrepreneurs and innovators, signaling where opportunities lie and where resources are most needed.

Prices are guardians of scarce resources, ensuring that these are allocated to their most valuable uses. Prosperity results from the encouragement given to the production of goods and services that people desire most.


The book’s last section is on the value judgments driving the war on prices. Whether these be emotion-laden claims that “CEOs are paid too much” or that “rents are too high,” they’re often the result of uninformed opinion rather than careful economic analyses. In one chapter, my colleague Liya Palagashvili dispels the idea that it’s unfair for companies such as Uber or Lyft to charge different prices at different times. What some people see as unfair, economists like Palagashvili see as a way to prevent shortages and long waiting times.

Prices and wages set on market dynamics reflect underlying economic realities and then send out a signal for help. Price controls only mask these realities, which inevitably worsens the economy’s ability to respond with what ordinary consumers and workers need.