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March 2020

Good paragraph

Kevin D. Williamson:

The failure of a New York City hospital operator to stock a sufficient supply of medical masks is not an indictment of the world economic order or “capitalist pathologies.” It is an indictment of the management of New York City hospitals, and hospitals elsewhere. That is a big enough problem without imagining it to be grander than it is.

"Is There Wasteful Spending In The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill?"

You betcha. Samples:

  • $25 million in the Senate bill went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. During the past ten years, the center received $68.3 million in federal grants (2010-2019). The Kennedy Center has total assets of $557 million. The Pelosi bill earmarked $35 million.
  • $75 million in the Senate bill funded the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. Why do National Public Radio and Big Bird get a coronavirus subsidy? The Pelosi bill allocated $300 million.


"The Real-Life Costs of Bad Regulation"

"Early administrative failings of the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control greatly exacerbated the Covid-19 crisis in the United States."

See also "Is the CDC to Blame for the Lack of Adequate Coronavirus Testing?"

And more, from two Univ. of Chicago professor: "To Fight the Coronavirus, Cut the Red Tape".

Still more, from John Stossel: "The Red Tape Pandemic".

Yet more: "FDA Shouldn’t Keep Safe Drugs off the Market".

Oh, there's more: "Doctors need freedom to choose off-label drugs".

Finally, from economist Art Carden: "The Anatomy of Government Failure in a Pandemic".

This means there is a discrepancy between the private and social benefits from flu shots and careful hand washing, and according to the standard stories about externalities that we teach in introductory economics classes, we probably won’t do as much as would be socially optimal. . . . 

 As I wrote over the summer, “just because an externality exists doesn’t mean the market has ‘failed’ enough for command-and-control regulation or even corrective taxation to be appropriate.” The stories we tell in introductory economics classes also tend to assume away the problem of government failure–and governments are failing mightily in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

"The Unbuildable American Home"

Government policy swings from one extreme mistake to the opposite extreme mistake. Sad, sad, sad.

The irony today is that housing affordability is increasingly a concern, yet we are building new units at historically low rates. This is because policy interventions have made the prices of existing homes lower than the price of the potential new home down the street.

"Elon and the collective"

I think society should have a few dreamers. But there are two problems:

  1. There are way, way more applicants for the job than there are openings.
  2. Even for blue-sky dreaming, there should be some attempt to separate dreams from fantasy and sheer craziness. The time and whatever resources were devoted to trying to spin straw into gold were a complete waste.

I think Elon Musk is not a dreamer but a BS artist. Here's a seemingly careful attempt to support that thesis.

"Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore"

The first reason given, "more communication options," is surely not the primary reason

If I were still teaching, I think I would use this as an excellent example of how markets tend to address things that bother people. Junk calls are annoying. But, in my case, about 70% of the annoyance is removed by having caller ID. Another 20% is removed by having multiple phones with multiple phone numbers, which are now cheap, including one that almost no one has and I can reserve for important callers. And the remaining annoyance could be all but eliminated by using my home phone's mute button. I haven't used it yet, but with election season rapidly approaching, I may.