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Some Non-Covid Links

Summary:
My emeritus Nobel-laureate colleague, Vernon Smith, writes with Lynne Kiesling about how – as their headline puts it – “Texas electricity regulators can use markets to make the grid more reliable.” Inu Manak and Scott Lincicome argue – quite correctly – that national security is no good defense of protectionism. A slice: One recent investigation, on imported transformers and certain grain-oriented electrical steel parts, is indicative of the problems that Section 232 creates. The investigation began in May 2020, and little movement on the topic was reported throughout the year. Then, in October 2020, Inside U.S. Trade reported that “The Commerce Department has delivered to the White House its report on the national security implications of key electrical transformer input imports,”

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My emeritus Nobel-laureate colleague, Vernon Smith, writes with Lynne Kiesling about how – as their headline puts it – “Texas electricity regulators can use markets to make the grid more reliable.”

Inu Manak and Scott Lincicome argue – quite correctly – that national security is no good defense of protectionism. A slice:

One recent investigation, on imported transformers and certain grain-oriented electrical steel parts, is indicative of the problems that Section 232 creates. The investigation began in May 2020, and little movement on the topic was reported throughout the year. Then, in October 2020, Inside U.S. Trade reported that “The Commerce Department has delivered to the White House its report on the national security implications of key electrical transformer input imports,” with sources saying “it has already been submitted to the White House,” but “The White House did not respond to a request for comment; Commerce declined to comment.” Now, the law states that when the Department of Commerce completes its investigation and submits its report to the president, that report (with redactions) must be submitted to the Federal Register. To date, this has not happened.

Then, on November 2, 2020 (days before the presidential election – surely a coincidence!), Ohio-based mining company Cleveland Cliffs issued a press release to “applaud” President Trump for his action on this investigation. There was no public statement made by the president, or the Secretary of Commerce that any action would be taken at this point. In fact, we still don’t know the case details. But a company that would benefit from Trump’s protectionism has applauded his actions? This is political dysfunction in a nutshell.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy explores the case for earmarks and finds that it misses the fundamental mark. A slice:

But if the Constitution is to guide us, we must ask whether Congress should be spending that money at all. I understand that most earmarks are boring, e.g., funding exit-ramp construction on a highway. I even understand how restoring earmarks could promote bipartisanship. Though, considering the size of government, I’d argue there’s plenty of bipartisanship already. In spite of all this, it’s obvious to me that Congress has no place funding such local projects through earmarks or in any other way.

Also from Veronique is this piece, co-written with GMU Econ alum Dan Mitchell, exploring some problems with Oren Cass’s and Wells King’s proposed Family Income Supplemental Credit (Fisc).

Jack Nicastro, Amelia Janaskie, and Ethan Yang rightly decry the astronomical growth of occupational licensing.

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Charles Lipson warns of the dangers lurking in Biden-ites who promote “equity.” A slice:

Those who push for equity have hidden these crucial differences for a reason. They aren’t merely unpopular; they challenge America’s bedrock principle that people should be treated equally and judged as individuals, not as members of groups.

The demand for equal outcomes contradicts a millennium of Anglo-Saxon law and political evolution. It undermines the Enlightenment principle of equal treatment for individuals of different social rank and religion. America’s Founders drew on those roots when they declared independence, saying it was “self-evident” that “all men are created equal.”

That heritage, along with the lack of a hereditary aristocracy, is why claims for equal treatment are so deeply rooted in U.S. history. It is why radical claims for unequal treatment must be carefully buried in word salads praising equity and social justice.

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Rik Chakraborti and Gavin Roberts find that government-imposed prohibitions on so-called “price-gouging” are at odds with many of those same governments’ Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines.

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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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