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Who’d a-thunk it?: “California fast food workers now earn $20 per hour. Franchisees are responding by cutting hours. (HT Reuvain Borchardt) And here is Reason‘s Emma Camp.

Benjamin Gedan tweets:

A good reminder to China hawks that the US reluctance to negotiate free trade agreements sends natural US partners, such as Uruguay’s president, rushing to Beijing.

George Will applauds the two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that rein in the discretionary power of the administrative state. Two slices:

When a federal agency ordered four small fishing companies to pay the estimated $700-a-day cost (reducing their profits 20 percent) of on-board government inspectors, the companies sued, arguing that no statutory language explicitly authorizes the agency to impose this burden. The agency invoked Chevron deference, a court-created (in 1984) doctrine that says when Congress uses ambiguous legislative language, or is silent on a subject, a court reviewing an agency’s disputed action should defer to the agency, if its action is “reasonable.”

The doctrine, in addition to encouraging Congress’s slipshod legislating, impinges on the judiciary’s duty to (in Chief Justice John Marshall’s words) “say what the law is.” So, the Supreme Court held, 6-3, that Chevron deference violates the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which stipulates that courts shall “interpret” statutes and decide “all” questions of law. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority: “Courts must exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority.”


Consider the lengthening list of progressives’ complaints about the Constitution’s incompatibility with their “modern-day adaptable” government. They consider the First Amendment too protective of speech that harms an individual’s serenity, or society’s comity. Don’t get them started on the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms). Now they resent the Fifth and Seventh Amendments working together to inhibit progressives’ handiwork: the administrative state agencies whose discretion has been curtailed because the separation of powers dictates the demise of Chevron deference.

For more than a century, progressivism’s unvarying agenda has been to concentrate power in Washington and concentrate most of this power in the executive branch. Progressives have constantly prioritized expanding government’s power and scope over individual freedom. With two excellent end-of-term decisions, the court affirmed the Constitution’s different priorities.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett applauds the rise of originalist thinking at the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s his conclusion:

Had you told me when I was a law student reading Warren and Burger Court “living constitutionalist” opinions that there would be Supreme Court opinions like these in my lifetime, I would have asked what you were smoking. The originalists on the court don’t always agree on what originalism requires. But they are feeling their way through this thicket, case by case. In the process, they are educating each other and the nonoriginalist justices, and engaging in a dialogue with legal academics as well as with the American public.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, explains that industrial policy necessarily stifles innovation and, in the process, weakens national security. A slice:

Innovation is fundamentally incompatible with industrial policy, which involves government promotion — using subsidies and tariffs — of particular industries or technologies. It is planning based on what already exists, what is already known, and what government officials can conceive. By necessity, it excludes genuine innovation because innovation is creative. Innovation creates possibilities that didn’t previously exist. Future innovations, therefore, can’t possibly be part of today’s industrial-policy plan.

There is also the problem of bureaucracy itself, which too often imposes counterproductive requirements. Bureaucrats’ permission-slip mentality and risk aversion slow the innovative process. And a less innovative America will be a weaker America — economically and militarily.

Scott Lincicome is correct: “The U.S. labor market has too few workers, not too few jobs.” A slice:

Along similar lines, the EIG data show that, unlike in the early 2010s, only a tiny share of Americans are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work, and that almost 90 percent of workers are “completely or somewhat satisfied” with their job security. American workers also are more educated and have more paid vacation time, while around 80 percent of us get paid sick leave. A record number of workers (though still just 27 percent) also have access to paid family leave. Our workplaces are much safer, too.

Overall, the EIG data portray a U.S. labor market with a few discrete areas of continued need, but doing well overall, especially compared to what many of us experienced for much of the last decade and what we’re still hearing today from populist politicians and wonks about the entire economy.

My GMU Econ and Mercatus Center colleague Thomas Stratmann applauds Sen. Bill Cassidy’s warnings about the cronyist influence and ill consequences of today’s Big Labor. Here’s his conclusion:

Sen. Cassidy is right. What’s good for Big Labor is often quite inconsistent with what’s good for small businesses and their workers. From labor laws to healthcare costs, these Biden initiatives could impose heavy financial burdens and reduce the operational flexibility that America’s entrepreneurs’ owners rely upon for survival. We should continue to highlight the detrimental impacts these regulations have on the backbone of the American economy, while doing everything we can to create an environment where these upstarts can continue thriving, innovating, and leading the way in job creation and economic growth. It’s the only sustainable path forward.

Steve Malanga reports that “Illinois’ progressive government fails minority communities.” A slice:

When it comes to economic advancement, Illinois is failing minorities not because it’s not living up to its progressive values but because it is so progressive. The Illinois agenda of high taxes, heavy government regulation, and micromanaging of industries has produced one of the nation’s worst economies. State residents, including minorities, are fleeing.

Jeffrey Miron explains that “prohibition kills.”