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Pluralus makes clear on whom the blame squarely lies for most of the civilian deaths in Gaza during last-week’s action by Israel to free four hostages: Hamas. (HT David Henderson) A slice:

It was Hamas who escalated to a fire fight in a civilian area. The hostages were already in a car or van being driven away, according to Washington Post reporting.

Jeff Hummel explains that Alexander Hamilton’s “plans would have created cartels that mainly benefited the wealthy at the expense of small competitors.”

Here’s a video of Scott Lincicome’s testimony on industrial policy last week before Congress.

John Tierney describes the “March of Dimes syndrome.” Three slices:

In the spring of 1979, a few weeks after the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, more than 65,000 people marched on the United States Capitol chanting “No Nukes, No Nukes.” As a young reporter at the Washington Star assigned to cover this new movement, I interviewed march organizers and noticed that all of them had previously organized protests against the Vietnam War. This struck me as curious: How had they suddenly become so passionate and knowledgeable about nuclear power?

I later learned that a term exists for this phenomenon—the March of Dimes syndrome—and that the tendency affects many other movements, too. Why, last year, did the Human Rights Campaign declare a “national state of emergency” for LGBT people? Why was the election of the first black American president followed by the Black Lives Matter movement? Why have reports of “hate groups” risen during the same decades that racial prejudice has been plummeting? Why, during a long and steep decline in the incidence of sexual violence in America, did academics, federal officials, and the #MeToo movement discover a new “epidemic of sexual assault”?

These supposed crises are all examples of the March of Dimes syndrome, named after the organization founded in the 1930s to combat polio. The March helped fund the vaccines that eventually ended the polio epidemics—but not the organization, which, after polio’s eradication, changed its mission to preventing birth defects. Its leaders kept their group going by finding a new cause, just as antiwar activists did after achieving their goal of ending the Vietnam War. The Three Mile Island accident offered new fund-raising opportunities and a new platform for veterans of the antiwar movement such as Jane Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden, who both addressed the crowd at that first antinuke rally.

For career activists, success is a threat. They can never declare mission accomplished.


Civil rights activists have responded to their movement’s great successes by setting new goals that directly contradict the original mission of integration and “complete equality before the law,” as the NAACP’s 1911 charter declared. After Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, black leaders pivoted from demanding equality to demanding special treatment. In 1966, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King launched Operation Breadbasket, a boycott campaign against companies that failed to meet quotas for hiring blacks. The NAACP, whose original mission was to provide blacks with “employment according to their ability,” fought for affirmative-action programs that its own constituents disdained, as Gene Dattel recounts in Reckoning with Race. Bayard Rustin, who in 1963 had organized the historic March on Washington, criticized the movement’s new priorities by pointing to a poll in 1969 showing that the vast majority of blacks—“proud Negroes,” as he described them—rejected affirmative action in hiring or college admissions as reparation for past injustices. Rustin also criticized university activists’ creating departments of black studies, correctly foreseeing that the trend would result in a faculty chosen by “race, ideological purity, and political commitment—not academic competence.”


The March of Dimes syndrome is an ancient social affliction that is especially virulent today and destined to get even worse. Kings, generals, and high priests have always tried to maintain power by declaring new crusades—new enemies to conquer, new sins to extirpate. But it has gotten steadily easier for leaders to rally the public because of another phenomenon, known as Spencer’s Law, named after the Victorian sociologist Herbert Spencer, who observed a paradox in the reform movements of his day to combat poverty, hunger, child labor, illiteracy, and alcoholism.

These problems were widespread in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century. Then, as the Industrial Revolution lifted incomes during the nineteenth century, the working classes saw a dramatic improvement in their diets and living conditions. By mid-century, most Britons were literate because children were going to school instead of being put to work. Alcohol consumption fell dramatically. But it was only late in the nineteenth century, after so much progress had already occurred, that reformers captured the public’s attention with campaigns to help the needy, mandate universal education, and pass temperance laws. “The more things improve,” Spencer wrote in 1891, “the louder become the exclamations about their badness.”

Spencer’s Law has been reformulated by Stephen Davies of the Institute of Economic Affairs: “The degree of public concern and anxiety about a social problem or phenomenon varies inversely as to its real or actual incidence.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady, writing from Buenos Aires, continues to express realism about the prospects of Javier Milei’s market reforms in Argentina. Two slices:

Markets here applauded when Mr. Milei took office in December. But whether things are really any different is an open question—and not only because Peronism and its allies remain a powerful opposition. Doubts are also cropping up because the government says it needs to achieve fiscal balance, defeat inflation, and clean up short-term debt held by the banks before it lifts capital and exchange controls.

Sequencing matters in economics, and the trouble with doing things in this order is that it almost guarantees that capital inflows, and the economy, will continue to stall. Before investors put money into this country, they need assurances that they’ll be able to get it out again. Plus, who wants to buy Argentina at the official overvalued exchange rate? Conversely, dollarization—the abolition of the peso—and removing all controls would reveal crucial price information, allow markets to clear, and produce a confidence shock.

A related but perhaps greater strategic error by Mr. Milei is his decision to delay dollarization until the monetary and fiscal skies are cloudless.


All well and good except for one thing: Everything Mr. Milei is doing can be undone by the next president, including fiscal balance and price stability. If he wants to make Argentina a booming destination for capital, he will put the Argentine state in a straitjacket by closing the central bank and doing the one thing from which politicians cannot escape: dollarize.

Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley describes Trump vs. Biden as “an economic gamble either way.” A slice:

Start with Mr. Trump’s promise to deport undocumented immigrants en masse, which would reduce the supply of workers, especially in such industries as construction and agriculture. A worker shortage would push up wages and prices. It could also reduce the availability of some goods and services, which would have the same effect.

Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle writes wisely about the role of prices. A slice:

Fans of Friedrich Hayek know that a price is a glorious thing. In his 1945 essay, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Hayek asks us to imagine that for some reason tin has come to be in short supply. In less time than it would take the government to form a committee to study the shortage, the invisible hand of the marketplace resolves it. As tin gets scarcer, users with a pressing need for the metal bid up the price, sending a strong signal to all users of tin: Economize! As if by magic, across the globe, suppliers look to see whether they can supply more at the higher prices, while processes are rejiggered to use less of the now-precious metal, and some low-margin products are taken out of production entirely, freeing up tin for higher-value uses.

But as anyone who has recently gone grocery shopping can attest, prices can also be grim things. One of the many messages they convey is “you can’t afford this.” And, infuriatingly, the unluckiest among us hear this message the most often. It’s not really the fault of prices; it’s the reality of scarcity in a world of limited resources and infinite desires. But this is little consolation, so we mutter about “price gouging” or “greedflation,” and then demand that our legislators do something.