Tuesday , April 13 2021
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The problem with environmental impact statements

Back in the 1970s, the federal government began requiring environmental impact statements for certain types of projects. In retrospect, this was probably a mistake. The Tejon Ranch development provides a good example of what can go wrong. Here’s an article from 2008: “How heartening it is, the sound of environmentalists and developers harmoniously agreeing on new construction. That’s what first came to mind when the Tejon Ranch Co. and such environmental heavyweights...

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Is there a market for thoughtful conservatism in the US?

As a non-American, I hear confusing news on the status of the American right at the moment. In particular, I have problems understanding whether the influence of President Trump is over after the Capitol Hill revolt of early January. On the contrary, are Republicans unable to free themselves from his spell- perhaps, only at the very high price of giving birth to a third party? Perhaps it is too soon to say: after all, Trump left the Oval Office only four months...

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Anything is Small…

“Anything is small if you divide it by GDP.”  I’ve been quoting this line for decades, usually to point out exceptions like the gains of deregulating immigration and housing.  But who, if anyone, actually said it?  I recently decided to email Theodore Keeler, the Berkeley economist who (I believe) first shared the aphorism with me. Hi Ted, I took IO with you about 30 years ago!  I hope all is well with you. Question: There’s a quote you told us that I’m having trouble...

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Both Amazon and Workers Win

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama will not be forming a union. The vast majority of votes cast by Amazon’s workers in Bessemer, Ala., were against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in a stinging defeat of the union drive. The final tally showed 1,798 votes against unionizing and 738 votes in favor of the union. This is from a news story from National Public Radio. The piece, by Alina Selyukh, is “It’s a No: Amazon Warehouse Workers Vote...

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Who are the experts?

Ezra Klein recently had a piece on Covid-19 in the NYT, which pointed out that Alex Tabarrok has been ahead of the curve on many issues: [B]est as I can tell, Tabarrok has repeatedly been proved right, and ideas that sounded radical when he first argued for them command broader support now. What I’ve come to think of as the Tabarrok agenda has come closest to being adopted in Britain, which delayed second doses, approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine despite its data...

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I LOVE State Farm

My home in coastal California is insured with State Farm, both for regular coverage and for earthquake coverage. Yesterday I received a post card in the mail from State Farm. The whole thing (almost) is worth quoting: When and where will wildfire protection services begin? Beginning April 1, 2021 [DRH note: this means it has already begun], Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS), under an agreement with State Farm, will provide wildfire protection services to customers with...

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Why are economists losing prestige?

Ezra Klein sees the Biden administration as downgrading the role of economists: Biden has less trust in economists, and so does everyone else. Obama’s constant frustration was that politicians didn’t understand economics. Biden’s constant frustration is that economists don’t understand politics. Multiple economists, both inside and outside the Biden administration, told me that this is an administration in which economists and financiers are simply far less...

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Tyler Cowen on the Great Barrington Declaration

The most recent EconTalk with Russ Roberts interviewing Tyler Cowen is quite good. They cover a lot of territory and Tyler has a lot of insights about culture, among other things. Tyler also, to his credit, even points out predictions and thoughts on which, he realizes in retrospect, he was wrong. There’s one issue, though, an important one, on which Tyler still has trouble admitting he’s wrong: the Great Barrington Declaration. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:...

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A Better Solution: Tax Rocks or Churches

The Biden administration may be realizing that a corporate minimum tax is inconsistent with the multitudinous tax preferences that Leviathan himself gives corporations in order that they do what he wants them to do. Here is another idea to finance the $2.3 billion of proposed “infrastructure” or whatever pleases Leviathan: tax rocks instead. The proposal is succinctly explained in my article “Joe Biden’s Economic Agenda: An Early Appraisal,” in the Spring issue of...

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Hayek on High Prices for 10 Seconds of Work

Even economists who regard themselves as definitely immune to the crude materialist fallacies [i.e., thinking in terms of material wealth] constantly commit the same mistake where activities directed toward the acquisition of such practical knowledge are concerned—apparently because in their scheme of things all such knowledge is supposed to be “given.” This is from Friedrich Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” American Economic Review, September 1945. I...

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