≡ Menu

Some Links

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino – inspired in part by the work of fellow GMU Econ alum Adam Michel – makes a sober cases for American conservatives to pursue, as a long-run goal, elimination of the personal federal income tax. Here’s Dominic’s conclusion:

Treating tax reform as a decades-long effort to repeal the federal income tax entirely is the right attitude for conservatives to take. It won’t be replaced by a tariff system in the next presidential term, and it shouldn’t be, but seeing the income tax as wrong in principle and bad for the economy is nonetheless correct.

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal applauds the growing support for school choice in Pennsylvania. A slice:

This month Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation announced it is supporting the campaign for school choice in the Keystone State. Roc Nation says “we are supporters of the public school system,” but that opposing vouchers is in effect “telling Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable students that they must remain captive to a system that is not working for them.”

Milton Friedman couldn’t have put it better when he proposed vouchers more than a half century ago. Roc Nation then spells out the ugly educational results in Pennsylvania:

“According to the 2023 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), roughly 75 percent of eighth-grade students in the Pennsylvania public school system aren’t proficient in math while 47 percent aren’t proficient in language arts. Furthermore, in the bottom 15 percent of the state’s public schools, the data reveals that less than 10 percent of students are proficient in math, and only 25 percent are proficient in English. In 40 schools across the state, there were no students—absolutely none—that met the grade-level proficiency criteria in math.”

Those numbers should be shocking to anyone who cares about those students, as well as the fate of America. They should also demand a change from the status quo

Yet last year Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro reneged on the support for vouchers he expressed in his 2022 campaign for Governor, bowing without a fight to opposition from teachers unions and the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania House.

Jon Miltimore riffs on how nations defeat poverty.

Russ Roberts talks with Yuval Levin.

Liz Wolfe isn’t impressed with the officiousness of the U.S. Surgeon General.

Timothy Taylor summarizes some important facts about U.S. government indebtedness.

Pierre Lemieux reflects on flags and Flag Day. A slice:

The ideal of equal liberty for everyone is not easy to achieve. In his Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative, James Buchanan presents this ideal as a hope and a faith, even if we know since Adam Smith that an autoregulated social order of equally free individuals is possible and conducive to general prosperity. One danger is nationalism, which is what most territorial flags try to fuel. At the other extreme, too much diversity can exclude the possibility of common values necessary for the maintenance of a liberal society. For example, imagine two religious sub-groups of individuals who worship respectively god A and god B, and believe that their god wants them to kill infidels. The set of common values would be the null set, and equal liberty impossible.

There is in America and in many Western countries a memory of, or a hope for, the ideal of individual liberty (and property), which alone can efficiently prevent a continuing clash between individuals and their beliefs, preferences, and lifestyles. Finding a national or territorial flag that unambiguously conveys this ideal is not an easy quest.

Jeff Singer reports that yet “another study shows nicotine E‑cigarettes help smokers to quit.”

Michael Strain looks back at “the economic world we’ve lost.” Two slices:

Because populism treats people as helpless victims, it opens the door to large increases in the size and scope of government. US President Joe Biden wants the state to be so big that it can liberate you from your contractual obligation to pay off your student loan. By slashing student debt for millions of borrowers, his administration has taken a big step toward turning college into another middle-class entitlement. Nor does his latest proposed budget stop there. It would also expand the entitlement state to include subsidized childcare for families earning six-figure incomes and new subsidies for middle-class homeownership. How far we have fallen since Bill Clinton declared, in 1996, that the “era of big government is over.”

Treating people as victims denies them agency and absolves them of the responsibility to better their economic circumstances and contribute to society. But personal responsibility is a fundamental American value and a key driver of long-term prosperity. Presidents of both parties used to be comfortable talking about its importance. In his 1996 State of the Union address, for example, Clinton argued: “To improve the state of our Union, we must ask more of ourselves, we must expect more of each other, and we must face our challenges together.”

Similarly, in his 2001 inaugural address, George W. Bush said: “America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected. Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment.”

Populism is characterized by a pessimistic inward turn, and often by a suspicion of racial and religious minorities and immigrants. In Ronald Reagan’s final speech as president, he explained that: “We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people – our strength – from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation.” But now Reagan’s party is beholden to Donald Trump, who recently accused immigrants of “poisoning the blood” of America. Trump has pledged to carry out the largest deportation operation in US history if re-elected, even though such an abrupt, intrusive, and massive effort would disrupt communities, leave businesses without key workers, and produce price spikes in sectors like food, leisure, and hospitality.


After decades of bipartisan consensus about the benefits of free trade, protectionism is becoming the new norm. It has gotten so bad that the leaders of both parties, Biden and Trump, recently objected to a staunch US ally investing in a US manufacturing company. Japan’s Nippon Steel wants to acquire US Steel in a transaction that would inject much-needed capital and technology into the iconic American manufacturer, increasing the productivity and wages of its workers and potentially increasing employment opportunities and steel output. Moreover, for every job in US steel manufacturing, there are around 14 jobs in steel-intensive industries. Those workers also could benefit, because higher productivity at US Steel would lower costs and could make steel-using domestic manufacturers more competitive.

Trump, not surprisingly, is proposing substantial increases in import tariffs to support domestic manufacturing, even though the trade war he launched in his first term hurt the US manufacturing sector. Though it protected some domestic producers from import competition, it also raised the cost of production for many domestic manufacturers, and the predictable retaliation from other countries hurt US exporters. At the end of the day, US manufacturing employment declined.

For his part, Biden kept Trump’s China tariffs despite four-decade-high inflation, and (as of this writing) his administration has signaled that it is preparing new tariffs to block electric vehicles and other clean energy imports from China. Senior officials from both the Biden and Trump administrations have explicitly argued for rejecting the openness and globalization that has characterized US economic policy since the end of WWII. The new consensus favors government planning and autarky.