Tuesday , April 13 2021
Home / Don Boudreaux
Don Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux

He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Articles by Don Boudreaux

Dan Klein’s Open Letter to Tyler Cowen

9 hours ago

My colleague Dan Klein wrote this open letter to our mutual colleague Tyler Cowen. I share it here:
Dear Tyler,
Like Don, I am distressed by your recent blog post disparaging the Great Barrington Declaration. Don quotes the 509 fine words authored by Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff. They bear presenting once again, with boldface applied to the Declaration’s essence:
As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating

Read More »

An Open Letter to Tyler Cowen on The Great Barrington Declaration

13 hours ago

Tyler,
When I caught notice of your most-recent effort to explain your disparagement of the Great Barrington Declaration I was prepared to find myself in respectful disagreement with the substance of at least some of your objections. But what I found instead is a surprising and disappointing absence of any substantive criticism of the GBD.
Authored by Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff, the Great Barrington Declaration text is 509 words. So that everyone can see this document plainly, I paste it here in full:
The Great Barrington Declaration
As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused

Read More »

Some Non-Covid Links

19 hours ago

Danusha Goska eloquently exposes the illogic, hypocrisy, and evil of wokism. (HT Tim Townsend) A slice:
Woke condemns being “nice” and “polite.” Niceness and politeness were invented by white men to support patriarchy and white supremacy. Robin DiAngelo points out that “niceness” is merely a façade white supremacists have developed to camouflage their evil. To be “nice” is actually to be “violent” and white supremacist, reports the group “Women of Color and Allies.” Women “need to embrace the discomfort, the edges and the messiness of overturning that which has kept us in the number two slot of the power and privilege pyramid for over 500 years … niceness destroys people of color.” Niceness and politeness belong in the same museum with whips and chains.
In reality, of course, it is

Read More »

Some Covid Links

23 hours ago

“When police start raiding our churches, you know the revolution has begun” – so writes Peter Hitchens. A slice:
So why, of all the places in London, on all the days of the year, was this one targeted on Good Friday?
I don’t think much thought went into it. I think deep down in the brain of the state is an idea that religious people, especially Christians, shouldn’t think they have any special position in Britain any more.
Worship the new Health and Safety State first, and when you’ve done that we might allow to you worship God, not in the way you want to, but in the way we let you.
If they’d come in with clubs swinging and Communist emblems on their cap-badges, I suspect the Poles of Balham would have thrown them out. But, like so many of us, they still treasure the illusion that

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

1 day ago

… is from page 646 of the 1988 collection of Lord Acton’s writings (edited by the late J. Rufus Fears), Essays in Religion, Politics, and Morality; specifically, it’s a note drawn from Acton’s extensive papers at Cambridge University; (I can find no date for this passage):
Government rules the present. Literature rules the future.
DBx: The course of human events is determined overwhelmingly, and at root, by ideas. We must – if as a species we are to thrive rather than merely survive – get our ideas right. If we don’t, we’ll still lord it over the likes of dogs, donkeys, and deer – but we will live little better than any other of our great-ape relatives.
Comments

Read More »

Some Covid Links

2 days ago

Here’s wisdom from my emeritus Nobel-laureate colleague Vernon Smith:
Prominent in the pandemic episode are the control freaks, activated by crises, both real and exaggerated; they are at the center of the exaggeration–the “chicken Little’s” of this world. This phenomenon in human experience is so common that it is captured world-over in historical Fairy Tale’s, including Aesop’s “The boy who cried wolf” that introduces the sly fox who does, guess-what?
Jeffrey Tucker reports on the demise of another of the now-countless Covid-19 myths.
“Life will never be normal with Covid passports” – so wisely writes Janice Turner.
The late Duke of Edinburgh long ago explained the mindset that leads to the Covidocracy.
Giles Fraser decries the ease with which people give up on freedom. A slice:

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

2 days ago

… is from page 112 of Virginia Postrel’s superb and still-relevant 1998 book, The Future and Its Enemies:
By dispersing knowledge and control, a dynamic society takes advantage of the human quest to create and discover. Dynamism allows the world to be enriched through the decentralized, trial-and-error experiments in which we all engage when left free to do so. While reactionaries seek rules that will ban change and technocrats want rules that will control outcomes, dynamists look for rules that let people forge new bonds, invent new institutions, and find better ways of doing things. Like the laws of physics and chemistry, which permit the simplest of particles to form complex combinations, dynamist rules allow us to create the bonds of life – to turn the atoms of our individual

Read More »

Covidocratic Tyranny

3 days ago

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:
Editor:
Leana Wen’s defense of vaccine passports is propaganda that would bring glee to Goebbels (“Stop calling them ‘vaccine passports’,” April 10).
After assuring us that “almost no one is proposing this [Israeli “Green Pass”] kind of national ID for coronavirus vaccination in the United States,” she writes “Many public and private institutions already ask people to complete a pre-arrival questionnaire that screens for symptoms of covid-19. Some venues check temperatures or even administer a rapid coronavirus test before entry. Requesting proof of vaccination would be another such health screen. If questionnaires or tests aren’t seen as constraints on individual liberties, showing vaccine status should not be, either.”
Of course differences

Read More »

Some Covid Links

3 days ago

David Henderson likes many, but not all, of the remarks made by my colleague Tyler Cowen in Tyler’s recent appearance on Russ Roberts’s EconTalk. A slice from David’s post (original emphasis):
I don’t know if Jeff Tucker said exactly what Tyler said he said, but it doesn’t matter: Jeff Tucker is not one of the authors of the GBD. I had lunch with Jay Bhattacharya on Tuesday and asked him point blank: “Did Jeff Tucker write or edit any part of the GBD?” Jay’s answer: No.
This is not a small issue. Had we focused on protecting the vulnerable and not locking down the young and healthy and keeping children out of school, we would be in a lot better shape today, with fewer COVID deaths of the elderly and less destruction of the economy.
Ethan Yang reports on the especially great harm that

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

3 days ago

… is from page 5 of Alan Macfarlane’s vital 1978 book, The Origins of English Individualism:
[A] central and basic feature of English social structure has for a long time been the stress on the rights and privileges of the individual as against the wider group or the State.
DBx: I fear that the English, made hysterical by Covid Derangement Syndrome, abandoned this central feature of their social structure in 2020. Indescribably sad. Immeasurably tragic.
Comments

Read More »

Sauce for the Goose Is Sauce for the Gander

4 days ago

Here’s a letter to a woman who is aggressively hostile to me:
Ms. H___:
You write that I “damage [my] already low credibility” by linking at Café Hayek (as I do today) to Prof. Robert Kaplan’s Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he counsels against the demonization of persons who are reluctant to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
I don’t see how. Prof. Kaplan is a respected member of the medical faculties of Stanford University and UCLA. More importantly, the counsel that he offers in the WSJ is wise. Contrary to what you suppose, it’s meant to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
You also write that “now’s not the time to give aid & comfort to people with irrational fears which keep them from behaving to keep themselves and others safe.”
I’m sorry, but this accusation is too much. If it is

Read More »

When Did We Learn About the Age Profile of Covid-19’s Victims?

4 days ago

Yesterday at Marginal Revolution Tyler Cowen featured, in its own post, this comment made by James Markels in response to Tyler’s link a day earlier to a Cafe Hayek post of mine – a post of mine critical of some remarks about Covid-19, and the response to it, that Tyler offered in the latest episode of EconTalk. My original post included my disagreement with Tyler’s insistence on discounting the fact that Covid reserves its dangers overwhelmingly for the very old.
James Markels believes my criticism of Tyler to be mistaken. One of Mr. Markels’s points is this one:
First, the fact that COVID-19 disproportionately killed the elderly was not something that was readily apparent right out of the box, when the virus was spreading rapidly.
This claim by Mr. Markels is incorrect. (Other of

Read More »

Some Covid Links

4 days ago

Wall Street Journal columnist Joseph Sternberg draws a very important lesson from Britain’s experience with Covid Derangement Syndrome and the resulting lockdowns. Two slices:
Precisely because the medical news in Britain is so cheerful, its difficulties escaping lockdown serve as a cautionary tale for everyone else. The task, it would appear, no longer is to suppress the virus or meter hospital demand or save lives or anything health-related. The task is to manage the dangerous interactions between a fearful political class and an overweening medical class.
…..
Which brings us to the other jaw of the vise: an overweening public-health class.
The things these medical experts say become more outlandish by the day. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, for example, is now warning that

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

4 days ago

… is from page 154 of John Mueller’s excellent 1999 book, Capitalism, Democracy, & Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery:
But it must be acknowledged that democracy is, and will always be, distressingly messy, clumsy, and disorderly, and that in it people are permitted loudly and irritatingly to voice opinions that are clearly erroneous and even dangerous.
DBx: Indeed. Mueller here very nicely summarizes a key part of the democratic ethos.
People who wish to silence – to “cancel” – those with whom they disagree are enemies of democracy regardless of how loudly they might scream in support of it. Equally enemies of democracy are those who would silence – and who, disgustingly, are silencing (as here documented by Jeffrey Tucker) – the voices of those who dissent from Covidocratic dogma.

Read More »

Some Non-Covid Links

5 days ago

Art Carden celebrates the 50th birthday of my great, brilliant, and amazingly creative colleague Bryan Caplan. A slice:
Poverty: Who’s to Blame? promises to be controversial. As he has argued in lectures he has given on the book’s themes, we can blame third-world governments for lousy policy and first-world governments for immigration restrictions. So far, so good. The most controversial part of the book will be where he argues that if someone could have taken reasonable steps to prevent their plight, then they themselves are to blame. I expect this part of the book to be just as popular with the “personal responsibility” right as it is unpopular with the “you’re blaming the victim!” left.
Bryan reminisces about his 40s.
And Bryan’s talent is evident also in his children. Identical

Read More »

Some Covid Links

5 days ago

“The Brooklyn Variant of the Coronavirus: Fuggedaboutit.” A slice:
There are many deviant and unprecedented aspects of the Covid religion, starting with the fact that for the first time in history, healthy, asymptomatic people of all ages were “quarantined” and placed under virtual house arrest for long periods of time. Lockdowns and “reopenings” are also deviant and unprecedented, not to mention the fact that they constitute blatant theft of property, services, and economic, personal, and religious liberty. The infectious disease experts who have imprisoned us are lionized by the media and bedwetting politicians who claim to “follow the science.” From the perspective of an infectious disease expert, you and your family are not individuals with rights and liberties. Instead, you are

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

5 days ago

… is from pages 86-87 of University of Notre Dame philosopher James Otteson’s marvelous and hot-off-the-Cambridge-University-Press book, Seven Deadly Economic Sins (2021) (footnote deleted):
In [Adam] Smith’s view, most decent people would recoil at the thought of superintending the private decisions of their fellow citizens. But not all people would recoil at the thought of it; some would embrace and even relish it. Which type are more likely to avoid such an authority, and which are more likely to seek it out? Smith’s argument is that the people who get themselves into such positions of power over others are often those we would least want in those positions – because they will tend to wield their power as extensively as they possibly can.
Comments

Read More »

Resisting the Covidocracy

5 days ago

We need much more of the kind of spontaneous, peaceful resistance to the Covidocracy as you’ll see here in this short clip. It’s glorious! Watching it lifted my spirits immensely. (HT Yevdokiya Zagumenova)
Comments

Read More »

On the Significance of Covid-Victims’ Age Profile

6 days ago

Here’s a letter to a new correspondent:
Ms. H___:
Thanks for your e-mail.
Unhappy with my recent criticism of Tyler Cowen, you defend his insistence on treating as largely irrelevant the fact that Covid-19 reserves the overwhelming bulk of its dangers for very old people. You write that in my criticism of Tyler’s stance I “dodge Professor Cowen’s very appropriate comparison of Covid-19 to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.”
With respect, I disagree.
Here’s what Tyler says on this matter: “But, ultimately when bad things happen on a certain scale – you know, Pearl Harbor, 9/11 – you don’t worry too much how many young people died, how many old people died.”
Even ignoring the reality that coronaviruses, unlike bomber pilots and airplane hijackers, aren’t sentient creatures, his comparison fails.

Read More »

Some Non-Covid Links

6 days ago

Alberto Mingardi is understandably unimpressed with Mariana Mazzucato’s new book on industrial policy. Here’s a slice from Alberto’s review:
Mazzucato’s case for industrial policy suffers from selective history and intellectual hubris. It conveniently refrains from investigating countries like Italy that have prided themselves on enacting such a policy, while placing great faith in “visionary” intellectuals (such as herself) to foresee problems and direct resources toward solutions. Yet most problems and solutions are discovered day after day, in the messy endeavors and transactions we call markets. Intellectuals find it hard to understand how to assemble Ikea furniture, let alone what decisions have to be made to bring furniture to the stores. We the learned in economics, the social

Read More »

Some Covid Links

6 days ago

Thanks to my friend Lyle Albaugh for alerting me to this excellent and deep analysis by Karl Dierenbach. Three slices:
We have spent years looking for an end-of-days pandemic, and, not finding one, we decided to manufacture our own. In fact, we could have done this for any bad flu season (I’ll show how later), but we chose 2020. Perhaps it is human nature that when things are going well, we look for an exit.
To be clear, COVID-19 is not a hoax. It is real and it causes real-world damage and real-world heartbreak, but it is not the killer it has been made out to be. Also, the medical profession has performed admirably with respect to direct care of patients. They learned from mistakes early on and developed treatments and protocols that have steadily reduced the deadliness of COVID-19.

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

6 days ago

… is from page 134 of Richard Epstein’s great 1995 book, Simple Rules for a Complex World:
Yet time after time a worst-case analysis allows visions of the apocalypse to color judgments about the desirability of social action.
DBx: Indeed so.
And in no time during my now-long lifetime has this sad truth been as tragically descriptive as it is during the Age of Covid-19 and the rise of the Covidocracy.
Comments

Read More »

A Comment on One of Tyler Cowen’s Claims at EconTalk

6 days ago

My dear friend, co-founder of Cafe Hayek, and former colleague Russ Roberts is (as many of you know) founder and host of the remarkable podcast “EconTalk.” Russ’s latest guest is my esteemed colleague Tyler Cowen. The topic is Covid-19 and the response to Covid. I paste below (with minor modifications) a comment that I left in the ‘comments’ section at the EconTalk site … for what it’s worth.
While Tyler is a long-time colleague for whom I have great respect, I’m perplexed by much of what he says in this discussion with Russ. Some of what perplexes me has been mentioned by earlier commenters. But what is to me the single most perplexing of Tyler’s remarks has, I think, as yet gone unmentioned. Specifically, it’s Tyler’s claim that what he calls governments’ “very vigorous response” to

Read More »

Some Covid Links

7 days ago

“Increases in Coronavirus Cases Are Happening Mainly in States With Stricter COVID-19 Rules” – so reports Jacob Sullum. Two slices:
The [Washington] Post nevertheless says “experts…agree” that rising infection numbers are largely due to “a broad loosening of public health measures, such as mask mandates and limits on indoor dining,” along with “increased spread of the more transmissible [virus] variants.” The evidence so far does not seem to support that theory.
Mask mandates and stricter restaurant rules manifestly did not prevent daily cases from rising in five of the six states that the Post mentions. Other states that still require masks, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington, likewise have seen increases in new

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

7 days ago

… is from page 103 of Thomas Sowell’s splendid 1981 volume, Markets and Minorities:
While public spirit and self-sacrifice have characterized some statesmen, to expect this to be the sole or dominant incentive among political decision-makers as a whole is to ignore thousands of years of human history.
Comments

Read More »

Trying to Understand the Silence

8 days ago

In my most-recent column for AIER I speculate – I emphasize, speculate – about why so many prominent voices for liberty are remaining silent amidst the awful assault on liberty now underway by the Covidocracy. A slice:
In the Spring of 2020 the mainstream media and most elite voices were already primed by their aggressive hatred of Donald Trump to lay the blame for any amount of suffering from Covid squarely on Trump. In their minds, Trump’s failure to have the national government do even more than it did to restrict freedom in the name of fighting Covid is the major source of Covid’s spread among Americans.
The reality here doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the U.S. President has no constitutional power to unilaterally lock down a country in any way similar to how Boris Johnson

Read More »

Some Covid Links

8 days ago

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins writes about the fourth wave. Two slices:
The good news is that herd immunity is starting to take hold. This does not mean no Covid. It means less Covid. Less Covid overall means less chance of the next trillion-to-one dangerous mutation. Google the words “herd immunity” and “influenza” and running off the page will be evidence that herd immunity has never been taken to mean a disease stops existing. Flu still kills children by the dozens or hundreds in the U.S each year. If our testing is missing 80% of cases, the current fourth wave is equivalent to a medium-severity flu season.
…..
The trip from novel pathogen to familiar one is not a day at the beach—but it means that Covid will become one of those subliminal risks (like dying of the

Read More »

Quotation of the Day…

8 days ago

… is from page 179 of Richard Epstein’s magnificent 1995 book, Simple Rules for a Complex World:
An open market prevents any group from being shut off. Conversely, legislation allows any victorious coalition to push its opposition to the limit.
DBx: Or, as Steve Horwitz writes, “In Politics, Everyone has to Eat the Olives.“
Comments

Read More »