Thursday , January 21 2021
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Tag Archives: Current Affairs

A Truly Terrible Analogy

Here’s a letter to Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Nancy Marshall-GenzerReporter, Marketplace Nancy: Reporting yesterday on plans for further stimulus spending financed with borrowed funds, you interviewed not a single economist who dissents from this fiscal incontinence. This omission is unfortunate. Such a voice would have reminded listeners of traditional problems with borrowing funds for spending projects – such as that the mere act of spending money building infrastructure...

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Some Covid Links

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman is pessimistic about our prospects of being released from the tyranny of hygiene socialism. A slice: Those of us who hoped that at some point a reasonable consideration of costs and benefits might somehow find its way into political deliberations on the virus have of course been disappointed. For the most costly of the Covid rules, the search continues for a way to confirm the benefits. In a new study researchers at Stanford University review...

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“Stimulus” Ain’t Miracle Dust

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal: Editor: Incoming Treasury secretary Janet Yellen and other left-of-center economists reason that government should borrow and spend even more than the unfathomable sums that have been borrowed and spent in 2020 (“The Debt Question Facing Janet Yellen: How Much Is Too Much?” Jan. 19). Spending enormous amounts of borrowed funds is thought to be necessary to stimulate the economy out of its sluggishness. Yet the only condition under which this...

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Some Links

George Will recognizes that members of today’s “woke” crowd display many of the same characteristics that they criticize in Donald Trump. A slice: Postmodernists say, with Nietzsche, that there are no facts, only interpretations — alternative “narratives” about reality. As Andrew Sullivan writes at Substack, to be “woke” is to be awake to this: All claims of disinterestedness, objectivity and universality are bogus. So, reasoning is specious, and attempts at persuasion are pointless....

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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 98-99 of the late UCLA economist Jack Hirshleifer’s February 1966 paper “Disaster and Recovery: The Black Death in Western Europe,” as this paper is reprinted in Hirshleifer’s 1987 collection, Economic Behavior in Adversity: Without necessarily dismissing all the early reports as fabulous, it is evident that there is a tendency for occasional chronicles to record, even if they do not exaggerate, the extreme and unusual as opposed to the typical. DBx: Plus ça change, plus...

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Does the Theory of Externalities Justify the Reaction to SARS-CoV-2?

Here’s a long response to someone who is “convinced” that my opposition to the reaction to Covid “proves that [I am] incompetently trained as an economist.” Mr. W___: Thanks for your e-mail. For a variety of reasons, I disagree that Covid-19’s contagiousness is sufficient reason to demand that the public – the overwhelming number of whom are healthy – change their behaviors or, even worse, be locked down or locked out. Your phrase “covid presents an externality” is not an incantation the...

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Some Covid Links

Daniel Hannan nicely summarizes the reason why pessimism about humanity’s future – now that most of us have been infected with Covid Derangement Syndrome – is justified. Two slices: Will coronavirus deaths be treated like stroke or cancer deaths – an ugly reality in an imperfect world? Or will they become the medical equivalent of terrorist fatalities, blamed on state policy? Early signs point to the latter. For a year, now, the world’s media have exaggerated the impact of human agency...

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Some Covid Links

Ivor Cummins corrects an attempt to discredit his informative work on Covid-19 and lockdowns. (I do strongly disagree, however, with Cummins’s unfair and inaccurate description of the Institute of Economic Affairs – on whose Academic Advisory Council I proudly serve.) Rachel Cunliffe documents yet another way in which Covid Derangement Syndrome fuels tyranny. Candice Holdsworth rightly argues that “[t]he febrile denunciations of lockdown sceptics are a threat to free inquiry and reasoned...

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Some Covid Links

James Bovard is rightly furious at what he calls “pandemic security theater.” A slice: The pointless disruptions have done nothing to damage the prestige of government in this neck of the woods – or in much of the nation. Instead, many Americans feel entitled to denounce anyone not complying with the latest edict as if they had been caught planting a pipe bomb under a school bus. Governments have encouraged people to become vigilantes, setting snitch lines that have been flooded with...

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