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Tag Archives: Central Planning

The Gender Gap, Paid Leave Programs, and the Soviet Union

The Biden administration intends to nominate for Comptroller of the Currency a candidate who makes Senator Bernie Sanders looks like former Senator Barry Goldwater. The nominee’s name is Saule Omarova, a professor at the Cornell University Law School. Apart from wanting to regulate banks out of existence, Ms. Omarova tweets stuff like this: Until I came to the US, I couldn’t imagine that things like gender pay gap still existed in today’s world. Say what you will...

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Great Moments in Central Planning

I’m working on a speech that I’ll give at the local Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) next month. The topic is my Uncle Fred Henderson’s and Aunt Jamie Henderson’s adventures while crossing the Atlantic in April 1941. Their ship, the Zam Zam, was attacked and sunk by a German raider called the Atlantis. My cousin, their son, sent me a writeup his mother had done of her adventures while getting off the ship into the lifeboat and thereafter. She and Fred were...

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Saule Omarova and Friedrich Hayek

Three-quarters of a century ago, Friedrich Hayek warned that the West was on “the road to serfdom.” President Biden’s nomination of Ms. Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency is another illustration that the peril has not receded. A graduate of Moscow State University in 1989 on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship, Omarova has not apparently understood that the state cannot run the economy without tightly—and in fact, savagely—controlling individual lives....

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Man on a Tightrope

Various commentators over the years have pointed out that while the number of movies about the horrors of Naziism is large, as it should be, the number of movies about the horrors of Communism is small, as it shouldn’t be. Recently, TMC showed a 1953 movie directed by Elia Kazan titled Man on a Tightrope. I recorded it and my wife and I finally watched it last night. I would give it an 8 out of 10. It’s about a circus owner in Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s who...

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HBO’s Chernobyl

I’ve only recently watched the HBO mini-serie on Chernobyl and I can’t but recommend it highly. The cast is superb and the series is quite effective in conveying a sense of what happened in those terrible days. It is also a commentary on the Soviet regime, and a rather effective one. The main point it raises is that the Soviet Union was an inextricable web of lies. It is not only that those responsible for the nuclear disaster were lying about what they did or did not...

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Climate Agnosticism

I am rather agnostic toward “climate change” or “global warming” as it was called before the expression mutated for reasons that may be known only to our loving intelligentsia. I must say I was impressed by Tyler Cowen’s argument for (government) combatting climate change but, having now escaped his spell, the reasons for my agnosticism triumph again. The Economist’s story on the United Nations sixth report on climate change comforts me (“The IPCC Delivers its...

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Who wants efficient passenger rail?

The US spends about 18% on health care, and many experts believe that a substantial share of that expenditure is wasted. I tend to agree with that view, and attribute the waste to massive government subsidies combined with severe restrictions on health care competition, both of which tend to drive up prices. But this is not an easy problem to fix. If we were to cut health care spending to 10% of GDP, then health care providers would lose income equivalent to 8% of...

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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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EconVersation with Dan Sutter of Troy University

Dan Sutter, an economist who heads the Manuel Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, interviewed me in June about my recent article in Reason titled “Economic Lessons from COVID-19,” Reason, June 2021. The 30-minute interview is up. Some highlights: 3:00: How incentives matter. 5:25: Extra federal unemployment benefits and a free summer vacation. 8:00: Opportunities for teenagers. 8:50: Mises, Hayek, and the socialist calculation debate. 9:50:...

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Lincicome on Industrial Policy

Scott Lincicome and Huan Zhu have a new Cato working paper on industrial policy. The paper is very good and reviews—and builds on—the recent literature on the subject. It also makes a point of clarifying what industrial policy is and what is not, and what successes it can and what it cannot claim. Here’s an enlightening bit on industrial policy and Covid-19 mRNA vaccines: the COVID-19 vaccines developed under “Operation Warp Speed” have been heralded as a triumph of...

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