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Last month, Michael Strain defended people who earn billions of dollars in markets. Two slices:

Unsurprisingly, the economic populists and nationalists on the political right find themselves in agreement with the progressive left. A few months ago, Steve Bannon, former US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, called for “massive tax increases on billionaires” because too few of them are “MAGA.”

Billionaire innovators create enormous value for society. In a 2004 paper, the Nobel laureate economist William D. Nordhaus found “that only a minuscule fraction” – about 2.2% – “of the social returns from technological advances” accrued to innovators themselves. The rest of the benefits (which is to say, almost all of them) went to consumers.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth $170 billion. Extrapolating from Nordhaus’s findings, one could conclude that Bezos has created over $8 trillion – more than one-third of the United States’ annual GDP – in value for society. For example, Amazon has reduced the price of many consumer goods and freed up an enormous amount of time for millions of Americans by eliminating the need to visit brick-and-mortar retailers. Bezos, meanwhile, has received only a tiny slice of those social benefits.

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Similarly, the furor over billionaires is misplaced in the debate about income inequality, which assumes that income is distributed to households and questions the share going to the top. But in a market economy, income is earned, not distributed. Moreover, when measured using the income of all households – not just billionaires – inequality has been stagnant or declining for well over a decade.

More fundamentally, billionaire-bashing sends young people the terrible and perverse message that success is bad. This could lead them to lower their aspirations, put in less effort, and become less tolerant of risk. Precisely because hard work pays off – productivity drives compensation – such a message could exacerbate inequality, the problem that anti-billionaire advocates purportedly want to fix.

Doug Bandow reports that “China is scaring away investors.” Three slices:

Only Mao’s death in 1976 brought relief. China’s subsequent liberalization demonstrated the power of private enterprise and free markets. “Paramount leader” Deng Xiaoping’s modest deregulation yielded tremendous growth by loosing the entrepreneurship of hundreds of millions of people. For years the PRC’s economy expanded explosively. The poverty rate dropped dramatically. Although CCP officials took credit for China’s growth, the critical factor was reversing their earlier collectivist nostrums, which treated the Chinese people as veritable human automatons.

A dozen years ago, the colorless apparatchik Xi Jinping, who had carefully ascended the PRC’s political hierarchy, took control, becoming both CCP general secretary and Chinese president. There was much hope that he would be a reformer, clearing away state economic controls and encouraging international trade.

He proved, however, to be Mikhail Gorbachev in reverse, disguising his true intentions to recommunize the economy and rest of society. In fact, the nature of his rule was presaged during the final days of his vice presidency, when he disappeared from public view, apparently busy combating an insurgent reach for power by the charismatic Bo Xilai, a provincial governor. Having elevated Xi with the responsibility to strengthen party unity in a crisis, CCP paladins should not have been surprised when he accelerated his campaign after being installed.

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The PRC’s return to political totalitarianism has weakened the economy. Beijing already faced strong headwinds. Although companies are not pulling out in great numbers, surveys reveal that firms around the world are less willing to invest in China. Last year foreign investment turned negative. Bloomberg reported “less willingness by foreign companies to re-invest profits made in China in the country.” Moreover, Chinese outflows exceeded foreign inflows in 2023 for the first time in five years.

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Political activists often accept the risk of arrest for their cause. Businessmen, not so much. At the very time economic conditions are deteriorating in the PRC, foreign investors are less able to accurately assess markets. Some expatriates express the desire to return home. The Wall Street Journal found: “Some Western firms have paused research work in China, especially when related to technology and other sensitive areas, according to business executives. Analysts at Wall Street firms, including those specializing in recommendations of Chinese stocks, said they are worried about getting their contacts in China in trouble because of the heightened government scrutiny over foreign connections.”

No wonder foreign investors have soured on the PRC and are pulling their funds.

Art Carden writes wisely.

Scott Alexander explains that “the most fragile thing in the world is a social consensus in favor of freedom.” (HT Arnold Kling)

Robby Soave is correct: “Claudine Gay’s defenders shot the messenger.”

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan talks with Vance Ginn.

Here’s the abstract of a December 2023 paper by Ryan Kellogg and Richard Sweeney:

We study how the Jones Act — a 100-year-old U.S. regulation that constrains domestic waterborne shipping — affects U.S. markets for crude oil and petroleum products. We collect data on U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast fuel prices, movements, and consumption, and we estimate domestic non-Jones shipping costs using freight rates for Gulf Coast exports. We then model counterfactual prices and product movements absent the Jones Act, allowing shippers to arbitrage price differences between the Gulf and East Coasts when they exceed transport costs. Eliminating the Jones Act would have reduced average East Coast gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel prices by $0.63, $0.80, and $0.82 per barrel, respectively, during 2018–2019, with the largest price decreases occurring in the Lower Atlantic. The Gulf Coast gasoline price would increase by $0.30 per barrel. U.S. consumers’ surplus would increase by $769 million per year, and producers’ surplus would decrease by $367 million per year.

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 234 of the original edition of Walter Lippmann’s sometimes deeply flawed but profoundly insightful and important 1937 book, The Good Society:

[T]he collectivist mentality belongs to the ages before the industrial revolution; it is the ideology of a more primitive, self-contained economy.

DBx: Yes.

The thinking and proposals of “Progressives” are no less antediluvian than are the thinking and proposals of MAGA-types. Both ideologies are rooted in simplistic, often infantile, understandings of the nature of society and economy, mixed with an intolerance for social and economic processes that happen not to satisfy the particular preferences of the “Progressive” or MAGA enthusiast.

Both ideologies are mere modern renditions of ancient prejudices and superstitions. Both ideologies are profoundly illiberal.

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America First! (Or So Pres. Xi Must Think)

Here’s a letter to a reader of my blog:

Mr. B__:

Thanks for your e-mail.

You ask “wouldn’t it be better economically to encourage Americans to buy Chinese EVs subsidized by their government (assuming no US tariffs)?  Would the loss of US automaking jobs be offset by consumers spending their savings on other US products creating jobs elsewhere?”

Yep.

To the extent that Beijing subsidizes the production of EVs in China, Beijing compels Chinese citizens to offer gifts to Americans. While I pity the Chinese people, who are made poorer by being forced to offer gifts to us Americans, the U.S. government, which also taxes its citizens to dispense subsidies to politically favored producers, has no legitimate grounds for preventing Americans from taking advantage of these gifts – gifts that unambiguously enrich us.

And, yes, the money that American consumers thereby save on EV purchases would indeed be spent on other outputs – or invested – in ways that would ‘create’ jobs elsewhere in the U.S.

It’s curious, isn’t it?, that among the people who roar most loudly in opposition to subsidized imports are people who proudly shout “put America first!” You’d think that everyone who admires Donald Trump’s alleged genius at re-arranging trade so that we Americans “win” at the expense of foreigners would be delighted at the wealth transferred to American consumers by foreign governments that subsidize their countries’ exports.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Some Links

Arnold Kling reflects on Jews and communism.

The Cato Institute files an amicus brief in support of protecting property-owners’ Fifth amendment rights under the Takings clause – protection that benefits all of society.

Emma Camp reports on Biden’s latest lawless and unjust attempt to bestow unearned benefits on people who owe on their student loans. Two slices:

On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a new plan to enact large-scale student loan forgiveness, this time by targeting borrowers experiencing financial “hardship.”

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Ironically, the Biden administration’s “permanent solutions” to the student loan crisis will likely only end up making the problem worse. While supporters of the proposal say it would provide necessary relief for borrowers unlikely to pay their loans back, providing blanket forgiveness to those struggling to pay their loans back would likely end up incentivizing universities to hike prices and encouraging students to enroll in expensive programs.

If students know that they can have their loans forgiven as long they prove financial hardship, it will directly incentivize prospective borrowers to take on huge balances for dubiously valuable degrees. In turn, colleges can assure students that taking on tens—or even hundreds—of thousands of dollars in loans is a wise choice. After all, the government has promised to step in should repayment become burdensome.

David Masci says that Trump and Biden both are “agents of chaos.” A slice:

Setting aside policy and politics, the fact that the last two administrations have been so chaotic speaks to how much more performative the presidency has become in recent years. Since we don’t have a monarch, presidents have always been more than mere chief executives. But the Trump and Biden administrations have taken to new heights the prioritization of superficial gestures and pandering over the sound execution of sound policies.

Trump, of course, ran against elites, and so whenever he appointed people with any demonstrated competence and experience, he soon unceremoniously dumped them or humiliated them until they left in anger and frustration. It’s clear that providing bread and circuses to his supporters trumped doing his job.

Meanwhile, Biden has pandered to the far-left wing of the Democratic coalition, which helps explain his border and Middle East policies. To put it another way, he’d rather fail to advance vital American interests than be called a xenophobe or an Islamophobe.

Freddie Sayers and Konstantin Kisen wonder what’s happened to Tucker Carlson.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board warns of the dangers of taxing unrealized wealth gains. A slice:

The state’s [Vermont’s] top tax legislator has spent recent weeks pushing bills that would dial up taxes on high earners. The biggest reach is a proposal to tax the paper gains from assets above $10 million. The plan would slap Vermont’s 8.75% top income-tax rate on half of those gains. That means a family whose business gains $3 million in value could owe $131,000, even if they don’t take out a single dollar of cash.

Like levies on capital gains, the new tax would cut into investment returns and leave well-off Vermonters less reason to deploy their money in wealth-producing investments. Unlike a capital-gains tax, the wealth tax would create a mess of confusing estate appraisals and endless disputes with the revenue department.

This is why no state currently taxes unrealized gains, but the author of the Vermont plan says the novelty is the point. “Given the state of our national politics, it really is up to states to be moving these things along,” said Ways and Means Committee Chair Emilie Kornheiser last year. Lawmakers in 10 states are working on wealth taxes this year, and she wants the progressive Green Mountain State to be first to enact one.

Vermont is a popular haven for escapees of the punitive taxes in New York and Boston, and GOP Gov. Phil Scott has made the modest suggestion that a wealth tax might drive these newcomers out. Alas, Ms. Kornheiser has an answer for that one. Before introducing the bill, she brought in a Cornell sociologist to debunk the “myth” of millionaire tax flight. Never mind the masses leaving the Northeast for Florida and Texas. Relying on sociology explains a lot about progressive tax policy.

Peter Suderman is no fan of Madame Web.

Bob Graboyes asks: “Do song lyrics more closely resemble fine poetry or vapid greeting cards?”

Jay Bhattacharya tweets:

If you are a US federal worker or contractor and your job involves censoring your fellow Americans, please consider whether you have really made worthwhile choices about how to use your talents and time. Why not choose to do good instead?

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Quotation of the Day…

is from pages 21-22 of The Fiscal Policy of International Trade: Being a Summary of the Memorandum by Prof. Alfred Marshall, Published as a Parliamentary Paper in 1908, J.M Robertson, ed. (1910) (original emphasis):

Other countries have not found, on the other hand, that a policy of Protection yields the results which the protectionist theory promises. Professor Marshall, taking a favourable view of a protectionist policy for “new ” countries, did not find the facts square with his forecast.

“I for one was so much impressed by those arguments of [Henry] Carey and his followers, which had found scarcely any echo in English literature, that I went to the United States in 1875 to study the problems of national industry and international trade from the American point of view; and I was quite prepared to learn, not indeed that the American system was applicable to England, but that it might contain ideas capable of adaptation to English conditions.

“I came back convinced that a protective policy in fact was a very different thing from a protective policy as painted by sanguine economists, such as Carey and his followers, who assumed that all other people would be as upright as they knew themselves to be, and as clear-sighted as they believed themselves to be. I found that, however simple the plan on which a protective policy started, it was drawn on irresistibly to become intricate; and to lend its chief aid to those industries which were already strong enough to do without it. In becoming intricate it became corrupt, and tended to corrupt general politics. On the whole, I thought that this moral harm far outweighed any small net benefit which it might be capable of conferring on American industry in the stage in which it was then.

“Subsequent observation of the course of politics in America and elsewhere has strengthened this conviction. It seems to me that the policy adopted in England sixty years ago remains the best, and may probably remain the best, in spite of increasingly rapid economic change, because it is not a device, but the absence of any device. A device contrived to deal with any set of conditions must become obsolete when they change.”

DBx: Please keep this passage in mind the next time someone such as Oren Cass asserts that Alfred Marshall would dissent from modern economists’ strong support for a policy of unilateral free trade.

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Here’s a letter to my long-time, antagonistic correspondent:

Mr. McKinney:

You think that Veronique de Rugy’s recent Corner post, to which I favorably link, is “asinine.” Specifically, you fault Vero for suggesting that producing more steel as a consequence of higher tariffs “is the same as baking cupcakes made of anchovies and marshmallows.” You continue: “Any additional steel we produce by protecting our firms from cheap imports are things people actually use.  No one wants a cupcake with anchovies.”

Alas, Vero is correct and you’re not. She used the extreme example of inedible cupcakes to show that waste rather than genuine production occurs when people use resources to ‘produce’ things that consumers value less than the market value of the resources used in such ‘production.’

Using (say) $100 worth of resources to produce a bar of steel that consumers could have purchased abroad for $75 is every bit as wasteful as using $25 worth of resources to bake a dozen anchovy-and-marshmallow cupcakes that consumers value at $0. In both cases, the act of ‘production’ is actually an act of destruction – here, destruction of $25 worth of value.

There’s no way around it, Mr. McKinney: We can only be sure that genuine production occurs if it is guided by market signals generated by the choices of consumers and investors spending their own money as they see fit, unmolested by government.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
and
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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Some Links

Robert Tracinski pushes back against those (many) people who insist on repeating the myth that manufacturing in the United States is disappearing. Three slices:

But none of this is true. U.S. manufacturing is not in decline and never has been. We are still one of the greatest industrial powers in the world. The story of U.S. manufacturing and its alleged demise is actually a story about deceptive political narratives of decline and how they distort our view of the world.

Manufacturing output in the United States is somewhere around $2.5 trillion per year, bouncing back to approach its all-time (inflation-adjusted) high in 2007 after recovering from the shocks of the financial crisis and the COVID pandemic. This follows decades of steady increases in output, even during the years people were singing songs about “closing all the factories down” and moaning about the Rust Belt. The term “Rust Belt” itself dates, by some accounts, to then-presidential candidate Walter Mondale complaining about the declining state of the economy—in 1984, during the middle of the Reagan boom.

Just like other sectors of the economy, manufacturing has suffered temporary declines during recessions. But it has always bounced back to new heights. A recent must-read analysis by the Cato Institute’s Colin Grabow sums it up: “In 2021, [the U.S.] ranked second in the share of global manufacturing output at 15.92 percent—greater than Japan, Germany, and South Korea combined—and the sector by itself would constitute the world’s eighth‐​largest economy.” Remember when Japan was going to pass us by?

These days, of course, it’s the U.S. versus China. Yes, China now has a bigger share of global manufacturing—but that’s because China has more than four times our population. On a per capita basis, we have more than twice their industrial output. China sounds less impressive when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

And would we want the kind of manufacturing industry China has? It is still a poor country, on average, and its manufacturing has been mostly low-end, inefficient and driven by cheap labor. China’s per capita GDP is one-sixth that of the U.S.—which is to say that most Chinese live below what Americans would consider the poverty line. So we could definitely have their manufacturing—if we were fine being as poor as they are.

As it is, the total U.S. economy is significantly larger than China’s and likely to remain so.

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The comparison to agriculture is a useful one, because agricultural employment lost its dominance for the same reason manufacturing employment has lost its dominance: It became massively more efficient and productive. A farmer with a tractor could do more work than 100 farmers with mules. Much the same thing has happened in manufacturing. The kind of manufacturing that dominates in the United States tends to be high-tech, automated, skilled and highly productive. We aren’t making as many of the big and simple machines and instead are making more complex electronics. We aren’t making as high a proportion of goods manufactured for the consumer market—which is perhaps why it seems to the average person that America doesn’t make things—but we are making more machines and materials that are crucial for businesses. Here is Grabow: “In 2020, for example, the United States was the world’s leading exporter of medical instruments, gas turbines, and aircraft parts—goods not often found on retail store shelves.”

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The grand irony is that this is how you actually get decline—by chasing after the past, instead of pursuing the future. If we want growth and progress, we need to stop longing for what we once had and start embracing the amazing new things we can have in the future.

Kevin Williamson is rightly critical of Tucker Carlson. Two slices:

Carlson, who is doing a fantastic impersonation of Walter Duranty—the disgraced New York Times correspondent who treated American readers to tales of the glory of life in Joseph Stalin’s Russia—reports that the experience of seeing how clean and orderly Moscow is was “radicalizing” for him. I suppose that everything in the ordinary world looks a little dingy after La Jolla Country Day School and that Swiss boarding school that expelled him. And American cities can be pretty awful, it is true, a consequence of Americans’ general contempt for public spaces. Many American tourists have had the experience of being shocked and shamed by how spruce and lovely things are in Amsterdam, for example—but not as many have seen the housing projects and sprawl beyond the parts of the city tourists frequent. The difference is real, but it is easy to exaggerate, too: You could spend a fortnight in London without seeing the city’s unlovely side, but the same is true of Philadelphia and Dallas.

The irony of the Putinism and near-Putinism we see on the contemporary right—one of the ironies, anyway—is that Moscow represents precisely what they believe (wrongly, for the most part) Washington to be: an imperial city in which a coddled, politically connected, decadent urban elite enrich themselves through official influence and off-the-books relationships while scouring the countryside for young men to recruit into their vicious wars of imperialism and conquest. Of course the “Russian girls” MBD encounters in Manhattan boutiques do not have a lot to say about that: If they know, they may not be inclined to say, and if they are inclined to say, they are—or should be—terrified to do so. That’s what terror states do: They terrorize.

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Cities are complicated. In the same way you can never have the same party twice, you never have the same traffic jam twice. There are a lot of reasons Stuttgart is so much nicer than Detroit—and I don’t think German automotive-industry protectionism is in the top 10. But if what you want is protectionism, then everything you see is a case for protectionism. If what you want is Putinism, then you see evidence for the virtues of Putinism. But don’t look too hard.

That grandiose metro station in Moscow has long been famous in the West. The Russian secret police arrested a number of the British engineers who built the Moscow metro—you didn’t think Russians built that, did you?—and held an espionage show trial for them. Lovely space, though, and, if you look, you can still find recordings of “Songs of the Joyous Metro Conquerors.” Hooray. New York’s subway system is a mess, and the $4 billion per mile price of the Second Avenue project is a scandal. Does anybody think the answer is a more Putinist approach? The question is almost too silly to ask.

I understand not liking the United States—I really, really do understand: As I have written before, I still love my native country, but I think we should start seeing other people. Ours is an often ugly, often vulgar, spiritually sick society. But turning instead for inspiration to a brutal police state in which 1 out of 5 families do their necessary business in a hole in the ground is—counterintuitive! Finding inspiration in the gulag where Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich currently is held as a political prisoner—a real political prisoner, not the victims of the “patriot purge” of Tucker Carlson’s daffy imagination—is also counterintuitive. But, then, what Carlson was up to in Moscow wasn’t journalism—journalism is what Evan Gershkovich did, and what Tucker did was, at best, tourism. It is tempting to call him a useful idiot, but he isn’t an idiot. He knows what he is doing. I myself don’t speak Russian, but I think I could read the look on Putin’s face, which said: “Good doggie.”

Reason‘s Eric Boehm is correct: “Alexei Navalny’s death is a timely reminder of how much Russia sucks.” A slice:

This week, however, the internet has been treated to the absurd spectacle of former Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson’s bizarre propaganda tour of Moscow (on the heels of his more defensible decision to interview Putin). Via videos posted to X, formerly Twitter, Carlson raved about the beauty of the Moscow subway system and was wowed by the stunning technology of…shopping carts? Through it all, Carlson has repeatedly suggested that maybe Russia isn’t such bad a place, as if a lack of subway graffiti were the most important metric for measuring the quality of a country.

Navalny’s death, at the age of 47, says far more about Russia than any of Carlson’s puff pieces ever could.

Writing at City Journal, GMU Econ alums Alex Salter and Bryan Cutsinger explain that “price theory needs a revival.” Two slices:

Consistent with the Chicago, UCLA, and Vienna schools, we define price theory as “the study of how the price system coordinates the disparate plans of producers and consumers.” Because markets are connected by prices, we must understand how prices work in order to understand how markets work. What makes price theory unique in economics is its parsimonious balance between theory and empirical fact.

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To revive this tradition, we recently organized and ran a boot camp for economics graduate students and early career professors that emphasized how price theory can address important questions. After several days of seminars, discussion, and problem solving, we’re more convinced than ever that economists need to return to their roots to explain how the world works.

Unlike other approaches that influence young economists, price theory does not devote major effort to hyper-mathematical modeling; nor does it make heroic assumptions about rationality. Instead, it takes a few workhorse models and uses them to study an astonishing range of circumstances. Why might corn farmers prefer the government to subsidize ethanol instead of corn in general? Which firms are most supportive of minimum-wage hikes? What are the probable effects of corporate tax cuts on workers’ take-home pay? These are merely a few examples of perennial questions that price theory can help us answer.

Other approaches to economics claim to offer better answers, but they are limited by their inflexibility. Elegant theoretical models often add complexity without adding explanatory power. Statistical approaches purport to “let the data speak for itself,” but they rarely yield generalizable results. Price theory strikes the right balance. It uses theory, but as a guide to measurement rather than as an end in itself. It lends itself well to empirical analysis because it teaches us what to measure and, more importantly, what not to measure. If an economist’s first instinct in researching the effects of minimum-wage laws is to gather data on unemployment and the number of jobs, he needs a price theory refresher.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board decries the mendacity of Big Climate. A slice:

If President Biden’s electric-vehicle mandate is as popular as progressives claim, why are they trying to censor critics who want to inform the public about the mandate’s costs?

That’s the story this week, after the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) launched ads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio and Montana to educate Americans about the Administration’s back-door EV mandate. Mr. Biden is “rushing to ban new gas-powered cars” and wants “to force you into an electric vehicle,” one ad says.

The Biden team doth protest. “There is no EV mandate,” a Biden campaign official declared. No? The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards that would effectively require that EVs make up two-thirds of auto maker sales by 2032. The standards will “accelerate the transition to electric vehicles,” EPA said.

EPA’s proposed emissions rules are so stringent that auto makers will be able to comply only by producing an increasing number of “zero-emission vehicles” or by buying regulatory credits from EV manufacturers like Tesla. Americans shopping for a new car will have no choice but to buy an EV or pay a fortune for the few gas-powered cars still available.

Yet Mr. Biden and his allies don’t want voters to know that banning gas-powered cars is their end game. That’s why the progressive umbrella group Climate Power on Tuesday shot off a missive to broadcasters demanding that they pull the AFPM ads—or else. These “advertisements include obvious lies aimed at deceiving the public and must be pulled from the air immediately,” Climate Power chief operating officer Jill Shesol wrote. But who’s actually trying to deceive the public?

David Henderson talks about economic inequality.

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Quotation of the Day…

is from page 121 of GMU Econ alum Howard Baetjer’s splendid 2017 book, Economics and Free Markets: An Introduction (link added):

In a world of endless possibilities but limited resources with which to try out these possibilities; in a world where many people have business ideas, but it’s not clear which of those ideas are good ones; in a world where no single person even knows how to make a pencil, much less predict what new products, processes, and technologies will best serve people’s needs a year or five years from now – in such a world, we need some means of sorting out the good ideas from the bad, for discovering which products and processes actually do serve us better than others.

We need free markets because they give us such a means of discovery: profit and loss.

DBx: Proponents of industrial policy arrogantly suppose that they, or government officials, can and will divine the correct answers to these questions if only given the power to obstruct ordinary people’s consumption and investment decisions. Details of this supposed process of divination are, of course, never revealed. We are simply to believe that industrial-policy mandarins can work miracles.

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Some Links

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino is rightly, highly critical of Tucker Carlson’s oooohhing and aaahhing over Moscow.

Also criticizing Carlson is Charles Cooke.

GMU Econ alum Alex Salter exposes the false promise of tariffs.

George Will is not amused by Biden’s dishwasher regulations. Three slices:

Industrial policy — government planning the billions of variables generated by hundreds of millions of people making economic choices — provides something there is never enough of: comic relief. And when industrial policy mates with climate policy, there is surplus merriment.

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The Energy Department’s busy beavers, with their unsleeping search for reasons to boss us around for our own good, decided that dishwashers use too much water and energy, there presumably being a shortage of the former and a stigma attached to using the latter. So, in 2012 the department issued regulations so annoying to consumers, the Trump administration relaxed them. That was sufficient reason for the Biden administration, on its first day, to order a reversal of the reversal.

This issue was catnip for the admirable Competitive Enterprise Institute, which was founded 40 years ago to be a nuisance to government that makes a nuisance of itself. CEI’s prodding in 2018produced the Energy Department’s 2020 ruling permitting dishwashers that were better (for the reasons, read on) at washing dishes than were machines that complied with the 2012 regulations.

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Imagine how many government undertakings — in industrial policy, climate policy and elsewhere — might perish if held to the reasonable requirement of connecting facts and choices in non-arbitrary, non-capricious ways.

The Washington Examiner’s Jon Miltimore, noting the probability that many people respond to low-flow shower heads by taking longer showers, recalls the “Seinfeld” episode in which Jerry, Newman and Kramer are distraught and disheveled because they cannot get properly cleaned using the government’s preferred shower heads. Kramer (“There’s no pressure; I can’t get the shampoo out of my hair!”) solves the problem by buying on the black market a shower head made before the ascendancy of the climate scolds.

The Energy Department, whose Loan Programs Office has dispensed hundreds of millions of disappearing dollars in bad investments, has a lengthening menu of mischief. The implementing regulations are produced by people who went to law school to be qualified to write such annoyances. Amazing.

Juliette Sellgren talks with the great high-school economics educator Alice Temnick.

Vance Ginn is correct: “Americans can’t afford Bidenomics.” A slice:

We haven’t seen an agenda of this magnitude since LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s or possibly since FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s. Both were damaging, as the Great Society dramatically expanded the size and scope of government, contributing to the Great Inflation in the 1970s, and the New Deal contributed to a longer and harsher Great Depression.

David Henderson offers “yet another example of the perversity of focusing on reducing income inequality.”

Steven Greenhut decries this decry-able fact: “Progressives are ditching free speech to fight ‘disinformation.'”

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