Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Ross Douthat asks the wrong questions about Trump and American democracy

Suppose that you believe, as I do, that the threat to American democracy posed by Donald Trump and his Republican enablers and imitators is by far the most important issue confronting us today.  One implication of this view is that opinion leaders – politicians, pundits, academics, journalists – should make every effort to forestall disaster […]

People distrust government and experts because Republican politicians, conservative media, and libertarian ideologues tell them to

A lie can travel halfway around the world before truth can get its boots on Anonymous (often attributed to Twain) Trust in government has been declining in the United States for decades.  Although skepticism about government can sometimes help us avoid policies that are harmful or unfair, low levels of trust are troubling for two […]

Some (non-libertarian) sense on vaccine hesitancy and mandates from Zeynep Tufekci

Vaccine hesitancy is a serious problem.  It is killing people and prolonging the social and economic costs of the pandemic.  One possible policy response is to make vaccination mandatory, at least in certain contexts (hospitals, schools, interstate transportation, etc.).  Libertarians frequently object to vaccine mandates in uncompromising terms.  They exaggerate the risk of vaccine side […]

Meanwhile, back in the authoritarian hellhole of Australia . . .

According to American libertarians, the dangers of covid authoritarianism are clearly on display in Australia.  We’ve looked at some of these claims before.  Here is some additional context from Van Badham, writing in today’s New York Times: Last week, the myth of our enslavement propelled aspirational allies into the streets. In the United States,  Poland  and Britain, […]

The war on the war on covid should make you worry about democratic stability

Consider these excerpts from a recent piece by Jeffrey Tucker at the Brownstone Institute with the understated title “The Purges Have Begin”.  Would someone who took these extreme, apocalyptic arguments to heart oppose efforts by a faction of ethno-nationalist Republicans to steal an election or entrench themselves in power? The policies have been bad enough […]

Obstructionism is its own reward

Over at 538, Nathaniel Rakich points out that Biden’s approval rating is continuing to decline, despite the fact that Afghanistan coverage has declined.  It’s hard to know what is going on here, but my guess is that two factors outside Afghanistan are important.  First, the pandemic is dragging on, and people tend to blame the […]

Natural immunity, vaccine mandates, and “following the science”

In October 2020, three public health academics published the Great Barrington Declaration, which argued that policymakers should focus on protecting those most vulnerable to covid, while encouraging those at low risk of death or serious disease to resume normal activities.  This would result in a rapid spread of natural immunity through the population, hastening an […]

Climate change and insurance markets: let’s focus on real solutions, not finger-wagging

I don’t know why I’m writing about this when our democracy is on fire.  Maybe I need to focus on something cheery, like climate change. The American Prospect has a couple of pieces up on insurance and climate change.  One identifies a genuine issue, the other misses the mark. In this piece, Alexander Sammon asks […]