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

Breaking news from the front lines of the war on the war on covid . . .

Via Boudreaux, over at Reason, we can read this – evidence, Boudreaux tells us, of “covid hysteria”: Amherst College in Massachusetts is welcoming students back to campus by implementing some of the most restrictive COVID-19 mitigation efforts anywhere in the country.  Administrators will now require students to wear two masks while indoors, get tested every other week, […]

Political pragmatism and public opinion: Yglesias on “popularism” and Afghanistan

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 win elections, the status-quo bias in public opinion, low levels of political trust, and […]

The ShotSpotter system and the value of diverse juror perspectives

Erik Loomis points to this AP story on ShotSpotter, a system that police and prosecutors use to identify gunshots, react to potential crimes, and prosecute suspects. The AP story raises serious questions about the accuracy and integrity of the system. You can click through for their story, which is gripping and definitely worth a read. […]

The war on the war on covid intensifies: an attack on vaccine mandates

Yesterday Donald Boudreaux published a letter to the Wall Street Journal about the Zywicki lawsuit against George Mason University that I posted about here.  Let’s take a look at classical liberalism in action: Today’s edition contains three letters critical of my colleague Todd Zywicki’s defense, in your pages, of his lawsuit against George Mason University’s vaccination requirement. Each […]

The war on lockdowns versus the evidence

Over at NBER, Helliwell et al have a paper comparing the virus elimination strategy of China, Australia, New Zealand, etc., with the more common mitigation strategy followed by most countries (footnote omitted): Our analyses show that Eliminators experienced lower death rates from COVID-19. But to what extent were these reductions in COVID-19 deaths obtained at […]

The Afghan situation . . .

I have no special insight on any foreign policy issue, but if you’re interested in a no-nonsense defense of Biden’s policy see this post by Scott Lemieux. His key points are (my interpretation/paraphrase): Long term low-engagement occupation was not a serious option, the only choices on the table were long term escalation or pulling out. […]

The war on the war on covid continues: vaccine mandates and judicial review

George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki has filed suit against GMU over its policy of requiring students and staff to be vaccinated against covid.  Zywicki does not argue that any vaccine mandate is unconstitutional.  Instead, he claims that GMU’s vaccine mandate violates his constitutional rights to bodily integrity and medical choice because he has […]

The libertarian crusade against lockdowns: the case of Australia

For months now, hard-core libertarians have been crusading against covid lockdowns in uncompromising terms.  This is a topic that merits careful study, but let’s take a brief look at some of their arguments, focusing on Australia. The libertarian case against lockdowns can be summarized as follows: Benefits:  The benefits of lockdowns are low, because 1) […]

Using insurance to encourage vaccination

The most common proposals for pressuring people to vaccinate involve either vaccine mandates or vaccine passports.  As some of the comments on my previous post suggest, there is another option, viz., making the unvaccinated responsible for the cost of their covid treatment. In theory, this can be done either by denying insurance coverage to people […]