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Mike Munger and Russ Roberts talk about whether and to what extent ‘market failure’ justifies government intervention.

Shocking Headline! “Delivery Drivers Got Higher Wages. Now They’re Getting Fewer Orders.” A slice:

Food-delivery apps have responded to cities’ new wage-increase requirements for gig workers by ratcheting up fees. Now, they are contending with frustrated consumers, plunging restaurant orders and an exodus of delivery drivers

Lawmakers in New York City, one of the cities where pay increases for delivery drivers recently were adopted, say that their changes have worked well for workers. Seattle, which implemented similar rules this year, is planning to roll them back because of “outcry from drivers and restaurants over its devastating” impact, Seattle City Council President Sara Nelson said.

Scott Sumner identifies an internal contradiction of today’s economic nationalism in the U.S.

Mark Paoletta exposes many of the egregious errors (or, more likely, intentional deceptions) in “Fix the Courts” recent attempt, an a “report,” to smear Justice Clarence Thomas. A slice:

* It uses an inconsistent standard for what constitutes a “gift” to inflate Justice Thomas’s numbers. He traveled to Dallas in 2022 to speak at a civil-rights conference hosted in part by the American Enterprise Institute. Fix the Court counts the plane travel provided by Mr. Crow, an AEI trustee, as a gift valued at $68,333.

But the group doesn’t count Justice Breyer’s more than 230 trips for events—63 of them outside the U.S.—including the 17 trips the Pritzker family’s Architecture Foundation paid for Justice Breyer to take to London, Paris, Beijing and Copenhagen. Justice Kennedy and his wife traveled to Europe many summers for a month to teach seminars, but none of those trips are on the Fix the Court chart.

The group counts two high-school scholarships established by the Horatio Alger Association in Justice Thomas’s son’s name as a $35,000 gift to Justice Thomas, even though none of the money went to him or any family member. But it doesn’t count as a gift the $1 million prize the Berggruen Institute awarded Ginsburg in 2019, which she distributed to her favored charities.

* It uses wildly inflated values for the “gifts” to Justice Thomas. Most shocking, Fix the Court values the 2019 vacation Justice Thomas and his wife took to Indonesia with the Crows—which, again, wasn’t even subject to disclosure as a gift—at $500,000. That estimate is based on the assumption that Justice Thomas would have chartered Mr. Crow’s yacht and plane for himself. In reality he was a guest of the Crows, along with 14 other passengers, including my wife and me. Even under its own methodology, the group has dishonestly inflated the value of this trip by not factoring in the other passengers.

Jeff Jacoby writes wisely about the Surgeon General’s recommendation that warning labels be attached to social media. A slice:

Legal scholar Eugene Volokh, a professor at UCLA Law School who specializes in the First Amendment, emphasized in an email that the Supreme Court frowns on mandatory disclosures or warnings that may impede fully protected speech. He pointed to a 1988 case in which the justices struck down a requirement that charitable fundraisers disclose to potential donors “the percentage of charitable contributions collected during the previous 12 months that were actually turned over to charity.” Donors might well benefit from knowing that information. But since fundraising appeals are incontestably free speech, the government cannot compel charities to announce that information before every appeal. Otherwise, it would be interfering with the charity’s right to freely express itself in its own way — something the First Amendment does not allow.

In Volokh’s view, social media platforms are similarly protected. The very purpose of those applications is to facilitate speech and expression. He predicts that a law forcing them to warn users about the potential dangers of such speech — perhaps by requiring a pop-up that materializes every time an app is opened, or a permanent banner at the top of a web page — would be struck down as unconstitutional.

The ultimate resource is the human mind in a free society.

Martin Gurri writes with his usual insight about science, Science, and the abuse of power. A slice:

The capacity of science to extract accurate knowledge about the world has inspired an almost religious awe—an awe magnified by the material improvements to our lives that have also come from science. “The science says” is the enlightened equivalent of the word of God—whatever follows is beyond dispute. Most Americans have viewed science as the model and guarantor of pure objective truth. Scientific institutions have enjoyed enormous prestige among the public.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the dreadful performance of the experts and institutions, ended this idyll.

Health bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci preached from the mountaintop yet contradicted themselves regularly. Many untruths were proclaimed. For example, we were told that the virus couldn’t possibly originate in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. That turned out to be false. We were told that our government didn’t fund research on deadly viruses in Wuhan—that turned out to be false, too. We were told that lockdowns and social distancing would bend the infection curve, that vaccination would protect against catching and communicating the disease. None of that was true. On the word of the bureaucrats, schools were shut down for a year or more, even though most children were spared by the virus.

In many cases, the falsehoods were deliberate. At all times, government scientists seemed more interested in promoting certain storylines than in following the best evidence. How are we to account for this behavior? Or to put it differently: What was the function of dealing in untruth?

The answer can be traced to the fatal influence of power over information. The pandemic was a post-truth event. Predictably, it triggered a sociopolitical free-for-all. Science was made into a weapon with which to terrify an unruly public, and the experts, a proud but obscure clique, suddenly found themselves celebrated as leading warriors in that conflict. From the lockdowns and school closures to the censorship of social media, every mandate they ordained was an exercise in arbitrary power.

The scientific method rejects authority and invites criticism. During the pandemic, this was turned on its head, as science was worn as a mantle of authority and invoked to crush dissent. The practice of science is supposed to be neutral and impersonal. The experts and their political patrons claimed science as personal property: They aspired to a monopoly of truth. “I represent science,” said Fauci. “We own the science, and the world should know it,” said a United Nations dignitary. “We will continue to be your single source of truth,” said the prime minister of New Zealand. “Unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth.”

Statements by government experts mapped less to virology than to political necessity. They were hymns of self-adoration, meant to enhance the power and glory of the ruling class. That was their function and the source of their untruth.

Here’s the abstract of a new paper by Coleman Drake, Dylan Nagy, Matthew D. Eisenberg, and David Slusky:

Evidence on cannabis legalization’s effects on mental health remains scarce, despite both rapid increases in cannabis use and an ongoing mental health crisis in the United States. We use granular geographic data to estimate medical cannabis dispensary availability’s effects on self-reported mental health in New York state from 2011 through 2021 using a two-stage difference-in-differences approach to minimize bias introduced from the staggered opening of dispensaries. Our findings rule out that medical cannabis availability had negative effects on mental health for the adult population overall. We also find that medical cannabis availability reduced past-month self-reported poor mental health days by nearly 10%—3.37 percentage points—among adults 65 and above. These results suggest medical cannabis access has positive health impacts for older populations, likely through pain relief.