Tuesday , June 15 2021
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Ridicule or Reach Out?

In my recent reading, following a number of links led me to this extensive article by Byron York about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., who began a magazine called The American Spectator. The article is appropriately titled “The Life and Death of the American Spectator.” It appears in the November 2001 Atlantic. The whole long piece is quite good. Here’s a part I found particularly interesting: For each issue of the Spectator, under the rubric “Public Nuisances,” Tyrrell wrote...

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Knowledge, Reality, and Value Book Club

I’m launching a book club on Michael Huemer’s new introductory philosophy textbook, entitled Knowledge, Reality, and Value: A Mostly Common Sense Guide to Philosophy. I’ve already blogged a few highlights, but now that I’m done, I’m ready to declare this yet another fantastic work by my favorite philosopher. To keep the club interesting, I’ll focus almost exclusively on my disagreements with Huemer.  I’ll post the first segment on Part I on Monday, May 31, and...

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What about bribery?

This is a follow-up post to my recent proposal for banning corporations from paying ransom. Let’s think about another possible law, enacted to deal with the following scenario. Suppose that a US corporation has the best proposal to build a project in another country. Unfortunately, the government of that country won’t grant the contract unless a bribe is paid to a top official. The victimized company reluctantly pays the bribe, because paying the bribe reduces the...

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Politics Without Romance

The public-choice school of economics, developed since the mid-20th century, assumes an individual who moves from the private sector to the public sector, whether as a government bureaucrat or a politician, remains the same mostly self-interested individual. He does not metamorphose into an altruist angel. This view of “politics without romance” (to quote James Buchanan) led to new and fruitful explanations of government actions. We should expect that a president (or...

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Tim Kane’s Immigrant Interview of Henderson

Tim Kane’s interview of me, which I mentioned here, is out. It’s titled “David Henderson: The Immigrant Who Worked for Reagan.” It’s about an hour long. We covered in this order: the draft, Nixon, Martin Anderson, immigration, George Borjas, Bryan Caplan’s Concise Encyclopedia article on Communism, life in Canada for young David (this is the part where, Brian Lamb-style, Tim caught me off guard), my father teaching me trig while smoking his cigar and me gasping the...

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Batchelor Interviews Henderson on Capital Gains Tax Increase

I posted last week on my Defining Ideas article on why California Democrats should oppose President Biden’s proposed increase in the tax rate on capital gains for high-income people. That article led to this 10-minute interview with John Batchelor earlier this week. The interview starts at about the 0:40 point and goes to about 11:35. I find John Batchelor’s style wonderfully old-school.

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Ransom bleg

I’m no expert on extortion, so I’d be interested in what other people think of the following proposed law: Any person found guilty of paying ransom in order to protect corporate assets shall serve a sentence of not less than 20 years in a federal prison. The proximate goal would be to stop US corporations from paying ransom. The ultimate goal would be to reduce attempts to extort ransom. Would such a law make sense?

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Jason Furman on High UI

Furman argued that the $300 a week in extra jobless benefits that was also provided by the plan was holding back a jobs recovery in some places. Furman said of the overall package, “It’s definitely too big for the moment. I don’t know any economist that was recommending something the size of what was done.” Furman aligned with some Republican-run states, including Montana and North Dakota, that have suspended the $300 a week supplemental unemployment insurance, or...

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Ryan Streeter’s Grounds for Optimism

It was not the alarmists in the mid-20th century who led the way out of the darkness but rather the “recoverists”—those who took stock of the good things we can build on even as the alarmists at America’s Manichean poles continue to dominate so much of social and conventional media. This is from Ryan Streeter, “The Great American Freak-Out and How to Address It,” in Law and Liberty, April 30, 2021. Somehow I had missed it even though I check that site every day. Law...

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Industrial policy and COVID vaccines

Deirdre McCloskey and I have and op-ed on Project Syndicate on industrial planning and COVID vaccines. The article argues against the currently rather popular position now that the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines was a triumph of the Entrepreneurial State. Here’s a bit: This time, the federal government helped by acting as a big bank to finance COVID-19 vaccines, but didn’t choose winners in the fashion of industrial planning. Instead, Operation Warp Speed...

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