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

Yes, the covid epidemic is undermining trust in government . . . just not for the reason you may think

Disasters and threats tend to be politically unifying.  Public approval of George W. Bush jumped after the 9/11 attacks, and trust in government increased.  Donald Trump’s approval rating was highly stable due to increasing polarization, but even he enjoyed a small increase in approval at the start of the covid epidemic, and trust in government […]

The anti-democratic tenor of the criticism of Australian policy is troubling

In prior posts, I argued that Australia’s covid policy can be criticized, but that it cannot simply be dismissed on the grounds that it is “authoritarian”.  Here I will argue that some criticism of Australian covid policy has a distinct and troubling anti-democracy flavor to it. Tyler Cowen argues that Australia should be investing in […]

Is Australia an autocracy? Is it on the Road to Serfdom? And what about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?!?!

In my previous post, I argued that the only plausible way to criticize covid policy is to explain why some alternative policy mix (possibly a policy with a big dose of “no regulation”) will lead to better outcomes than the current policy regime.  Libertarians often refuse to engage in this type of policy analysis.  Instead, […]

Criticizing covid policy is fine, but you need to roll up your sleeves and do some policy analysis

Libertarians criticize covid policy in broad, uncompromising terms.  These arguments are unproductive at best; at worst they are divisive and potentially destructive.  Many are just propaganda. This does not mean that criticism of the government response to covid is off limits.  The alternative to the libertarian approach is policy analysis:  evaluating specific policies on their […]

Does the Brownstone Institute produce reasoned arguments or propaganda? We report, you decide.

There is good money in libertarianism.  The Brownstone Institute was recently founded by Jeffrey Tucker, a libertarian who most recently has spent his time criticizing covid lockdowns.  He just published an article criticizing Biden’s support for a vaccine mandate.  He lists five problems with Biden’s policy, but is it analysis or propaganda? Let’s take a […]

Covid testing failure and the state of American democracy

A little-noticed part of Biden’s covid address last night covered testing.  He promised to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of rapid tests, to make at-home tests available through retailers at cost, and to increase the availability of free pharmacy-based tests. (A few details here.) Making testing faster, cheaper, and easily accessible […]

The case for political pragmatism: Ibram X. Kendi on anti-racism

In a recent post I argued for political pragmatism, which I described as follows: I believe that politicians have some discretion to set policy, and that they should use that discretion to enact the substantively best policies they can, taking account of political and policy constraints.  Political constraints include the need to satisfy voters and […]

Libertarians do math: the war on covid + climate change = the end of civilization!

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a program to study the health effects of climate change, especially on disadvantaged communities (NYT): The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which the administration announced on Monday, will be the first federal program aimed specifically at understanding how planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from […]

JAQing off, Tucker Carlson vaccine edition

John Oliver had a great segment a while back on vaccine hesitancy, in which he shows Tucker Carlson asking absurdly loaded questions about the safety and efficacy of the covid vaccines.  You can see the clip here, the Tucker Carlson bit is around 6:15 to 7:45. I bring this up not to praise Oliver or […]