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Void if vague

Void for vagueness Definition 1) In criminal law, a declaration that a law is invalid because it is not sufficiently clear.  Laws are usually found void for vagueness if, after setting some requirement or punishment, the law does not specify what is required or what conduct is punishable.  For more information, see vagueness doctrine. 2) Under vagueness doctrine, a statute is also void for vagueness if a legislature’s delegation of authority to judges and/or administrators is so extensive...

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Pollsters are people too

This poll caught my eye: This shows everything that is wrong with polling.  I wouldn’t even know how to answer the second question, because I don’t see what they are asking.  Required by whom?  Should there be a law requiring that everyone be vaccinated before boarding an airplane?  Of course not.  Should airlines require vaccination?  That’s up to them, but it certainly makes more sense than requiring that people take off their shoes before boarding, or that they...

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A (Modest?) Proposal for Earmarking

Earmarking — congressional funding of specific local projects, arranged by individual lawmakers with little scrutiny from their colleagues — is undergoing a reputational rehabilitation. It also appears poised to make a big comeback on Capitol Hill. Earmarking has long been criticized as wasteful government spending. Revelations that funds have gone to a North Carolina teapot museum, a Florida turtle-crossing tunnel, and research into alcohol’s effects on mice’s motor...

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How Scientific is the FDA?

Not as much as  you might think. The Food and Drug Administration claims to follow the science. So why is it attacking ivermectin, a medication it certified in 1996? Earlier this year the agency put out a special warning that “you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.” The FDA’s statement included words and phrases such as “serious harm,” “hospitalized,” “dangerous,” “very dangerous,” “seizures,” “coma and even death” and “highly toxic.” Any reader...

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Covid-19 and the Inefficiency of State Coercion

An article by legal scholar Richard Epstein published in the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas defends George Mason University professor Todd Zywicki who is challenging his university’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate (“The Uneasy Case for Universal Vaccinations,” July 27, 2021). Epstein presents economic and constitutional arguments against this sort of mandate, at least those imposed by a public institution. Epstein explains the gist of the economic case, based on...

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Should policymakers maximize aggregate utility?

I favor a utilitarian approach to public policy.  One common objection to this criterion is that we cannot measure utility, and hence there is no objective way to use utility maximization as a guide to policy. I certainly agree that it is impossible to measure utility with any sort of precision, a fact that does somewhat reduce the attractiveness of utility maximization as a policy criterion.  Nonetheless, I believe utilitarianism is the least bad option, for two...

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Hanania the Wise

Richard Hanania once again cuts through the absurdity of popular thinking about American politics.  Few modern thinkers are as wise and forthright.  Read the whole thing, but here are the highlights. First, talk of Critical Race Theory “bans” are silly hyperbole.  The debate is about public school curricula, not censorship. You may think high schoolers should learn such things, or not. But the fact is that if you have government schools, it is government that makes...

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The Long Road Backwards: Prelude to Another Housing Meltdown?

Those Who’s are at it again. Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Collins v. Yellen, which ruled that the requirement that the head of the Executive agency the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) can only be removed by the President for cause represents a violation of separation of powers, the Biden Administration has moved to terminate Director Mark Calabria. FHFA was the agency created by Congress to oversee Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie...

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Trust, but verify

Yes, that’s a sort of oxymoron.  So let me put it this way.  Put more weight on an expert’s opinion than a non-expert’s opinion.  But also evaluate the soundness of the arguments used by experts; don’t accept them uncritically. A recent article at Yahoo followed a predictable path, pointing out how a low income Florida county is full of lots of obese people who refuse to get vaccinated.  The reporter has great sympathy for the overworked health care workers in their...

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Two Weaknesses of Socialism

Two weekend stories in the Wall Street Journal remind us of two weaknesses of socialism or, for that matter, of any collectivist control of the economy. The first story reports on how the federal and state governments have blundered in distributing a trove of money to landlords and tenants in order to prevent evictions due to the Covid and lockdown recession (Andrew Ackerman, “End of Eviction Moratorium Puts Many Tenants at Risk of Losing Their Homes,” Wall Street...

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