Saturday , January 16 2021
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Cafe Hayek

Stories from the Bizarro World of Covid Hygiene Hysteria

True story. This morning I arrived in the spacious lobby of the modern office building in Arlington, Virginia, in which the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies have their main offices. I was there to meet a friend with whom I had some business to conduct on one of that building’s upper floors. Unlike me, my friend does not have a scanner card that would allow her to direct an elevator to the proper floor. I arrived in the lobby about ten minutes early. The only other...

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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 5 of Cass Sunstein’s superb 2005 book, Laws of Fear: Human beings, cultures, nations often single out one or a few social risks as “salient,” and ignore the others. DBx: Yes. What Sunstein here describes is called by behavioral economists the “availability heuristic.” It is defined by Wikipedia as “a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person’s mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision.” With the media, 24/7,...

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Some Links

Amelia Janaskie and Micha Gartz survey what was said prior to 2020 about using lockdowns in response to a lethal and contagious pathogen. George Will exposes the appalling lust for power and laughable-if-it-weren’t-so-lethal economic ignorance of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). A slice: If Hawley, Rubio and Graham squint, they can see a silver lining on the dark cloud of Democratic control of the Senate: Majority Leader Schumer will soon give them an opportunity to vote for...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 220-221 of my late Nobel-laureate James Buchanan’s “Morals, Politics, and Institutional Reform: Diagnosis and Prescription,” which is chapter 5.1 in James M. Buchanan and Richard A. Musgrave, Public Finance and Public Choice: Two Contrasting Visions of the State (1999): This terrible century has done much more than bear witness to the tragic failures of collectivist control over personal lives. In the process of those failed experiments, valuable social capital was...

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Three More Principles of International Trade

Here’s the fourth and final installment in my series, at AIER, titled “Twelve Principles of International Trade.” A slice: 10. Because wages reflect worker productivity, workers and firms in low-wage countries do not have an “unfair” advantage over workers in high-wage countries. Contrary to popular mythology, high wages earned by workers in countries such as the US do not put them at a competitive disadvantage relative to workers and firms in low-wage countries, such as Vietnam. The...

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Some Covid Links

Jeffrey Tucker looks back at the 1957-58 Asian flu pandemic: there were no lockdowns. A slice: The Asian flu of 1957-58 was a deadly pandemic with a broader reach for severe outcomes than Covid-19 of 2020. It killed between 1 and 4 million people worldwide, and 116,000 in the US in a time with half the population. It was a leading contributor to a year in which the US saw 62,000 excess deaths. Globally, it might have been five times as deadly as Covid-19, as measured by deaths per...

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 130 of Deirdre McCloskey’s and Alberto Mingardi’s superb 2020 book, The Myth of the Entrepreneurial State: At a certain point also some alleged liberals began to attack (classical) liberalism. The so-called “New Liberalism” in Britain in the 1880s, and then Progressivism in the US and socialism on the Continent, attacked the liberal ideas of writers like John Stuart Mill or Henry David Thoreau or Francesco Ferrara. That is to say, after a moment in the early 19th century...

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Bonus Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 58 of the great management scholar Peter Drucker’s insightful Winter 1984 California Management Review paper, “The New Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility”: Even the Japanese who reportedly invest in “winners” and starve “losers” – at least according to a currently popular American myth – are finding that it cannot be done politically. Indeed, the Japanese have found that they cannot give up support of a retail distribution system which everyone in Japan knows to be...

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For Every Action…

… there is an equal and opposite reaction. So says Newton’s Third Law of Motion. What is true in the physical world is very often true also in the social world. Extremism on the political left causes extremism on the political right; extremism on the political right causes extremism on the political left. Extremism and zealotry now reign unreined on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum. I am pessimistic. Comments

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Dan Polsby on the Reach of the First Amendment

In supportive response to this post of mine yesterday on the misbegotten insistence that private tech companies be restrained, as is government, by the First Amendment, former GMU Law School Dean Dan Polsby sent to me this e-mail. Adding a link, I share it here with Dan’s kind permission. Don, people who didn’t have to think through Shelley v. Kraemer as a part of their formal education do not appreciate the can of worms one opens by making private decisions into quasi-state action....

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