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Some Non-Covid Links

Summary:
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby eloquently argues that “a free press doesn’t take government handouts.” A slice: Subsidies nearly always amount to confiscating money from the many in order to redistribute it to the few. Those who advocate funneling funds to local newspapers via tax breaks for publishers, advertisers, and subscribers are really saying that if people won’t support local journalism voluntarily, the government should make them do so involuntarily by manipulating the tax code. If you ask me, every family ought to subscribe to one or two newspapers and read them faithfully. Others might feel just as strongly about the importance of music lessons, sending kids to summer camp, filling a house with books, or mastering a foreign language. They’re all worthy activities. But

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Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby eloquently argues that “a free press doesn’t take government handouts.” A slice:

Subsidies nearly always amount to confiscating money from the many in order to redistribute it to the few. Those who advocate funneling funds to local newspapers via tax breaks for publishers, advertisers, and subscribers are really saying that if people won’t support local journalism voluntarily, the government should make them do so involuntarily by manipulating the tax code. If you ask me, every family ought to subscribe to one or two newspapers and read them faithfully. Others might feel just as strongly about the importance of music lessons, sending kids to summer camp, filling a house with books, or mastering a foreign language. They’re all worthy activities. But that’s no justification for propping them up with tax breaks.

Yes, the American system of democratic self-government is strengthened by honest and diligent journalism. But government subsidies, almost by definition, are antithetical to the spirit of an independent press and the First Amendment. A newspaper that takes money from the government is apt to pull its punches when it covers that government — especially if it grows addicted to tax breaks that will have to be renewed every few years.

Kyle Smith shares some of the wit and wisdom of Thomas Sowell.

Glenn Reynolds reflects on the life and times of “the great dissenter,” Justice John Marshall Harlan.

Speaking of jurists: The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board rightly applauds GMU’s Scalia School of Law’s presentation of the first annual Justice Clarence Thomas First Principles Award to Judge Laurence Silberman. A slice:

As deputy Attorney General in the 1970s, Judge Silberman was asked by Congress to testify on the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s secret and confidential files and so was obliged to read them. In a 2005 op-ed in these pages, he called examining those files the “single worst experience of my long governmental service.” He vowed to take the secrets he read about politicians to his grave, and so they have never leaked to this day.

Samuel Abrams reports that “elite universities are the worst for free speech.” A slice:

New data from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), RealClearEducation, and research firm College Pulse provide empirical insight into this issue. The just-released survey captures the voices of over 37,000 students at 159 colleges, and finds free speech on campuses in a dire state, painting a picture of college life in which shouting down speakers, limiting others from hearing diverse viewpoints, and even the use of violence to prevent speech are viewed as acceptable by many students.

Peter Earle correctly identifies repeal of the cronyist Jones Act as an important step to take to deal with today’s shipping crisis.

Eric Boehm identifies zoning as another culprit in worsening the supply-chain web crisis.

Scott Sumner reveals ugly truths about U.S. trade policy.

Janet Daley decries the continuing disappearance in Britain of the very attitudes that fueled the industrial revolution. A slice:

It isn’t just the money. Providing significant funding for new experimental ventures certainly is a challenge at a time when the country is already carrying a historic burden of debt. Using tax increases to provide that funding would only slow the economic recovery that would be needed to provide the investment which would in turn make the development of those ventures possible. That’s the short- and medium-term dilemma. The long-term, endemic obstacle is so entrenched in the British political culture as to be almost invisible – which, of course, makes it more difficult to confront.

Put simply, it is prejudice against precisely the things that this would-be miracle needs to encourage: idiosyncratic non-conformity, individual creativity, fledgling enterprises prepared to take great risks, counter-intuitive proposals which ignore the prevailing wisdom. All those proclivities – and the kind of people who are likely to embody them – are distasteful to the political establishment whose public school ethos favours like-minded, over-civilised team players.

Arnold Kling is pessimistic about American politics.

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.

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