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

Douthat: democracy, whatever

Ross Douthat is evidently having trouble filling his column quota.  Or maybe he’s just confused about the role of public intellectuals and the nature of rational decision making. In two recent columns, Douthat suggests that Democrats are excessively worried about Republican attacks on voting and election and should just chill out.  He defends this “what, […]

Why does McConnell favor a criminal investigation into the events of January 6th?

Josh Marshall nails it (paywalled, but here’s part of his argument): Published reports suggest – and it is no surprise that this is the case – that the DOJ investigations are not looking deeply into the causes of the January 6th insurrection, causes which are inherently political and tied to numerous public officials and electoral politics. They’re […]

Grading the U.S. response to the pandemic

How should we grade our collective response to the covid pandemic?  What lessons should we draw for the future?  I believe that our response was poor.  To see why, just imagine where we would be today if effective vaccines had not been developed.  Our current strategy of moderate social distancing, intermittent partial lockdowns, and economic […]

Equi-realism about carbon pricing and other approaches to global warming favors a failsafe approach to regulation

Unfortunately, carbon pricing does not seem to be on the agenda of either the Biden administration or progressive advocates of an aggressive policy response to climate change.  In part this neglect reflects ideological bias against market-based approaches to regulation and in favor of methods that are more direct in their effects.  But it also reflects […]

Once more on vaccine hesitancy

Let me follow up briefly on my post from yesterday on vaccine hesitancy. Demeaning people is the first step towards ignoring their interests or even persecuting them.  Jason Brennan urges us to ignore the welfare of the unvaxxed by painting a picture of them as moral terrorists or extortionists.  He holds them responsible for their […]

What do we owe to the vaccine-hesitant?

In a recent post, libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan argues that “we should ignore the welfare of people who choose not to vaccinate out of paranoia”.  We owe them nothing.  Brennan reaches this conclusion by analogizing vaccine hesitancy to a heckler’s veto (my bold): The idea of heckler’s veto goes as follows: Take any action, […]

Still skating in front of the breaking ice

A couple of months ago I drafted up a post arguing that Trump was becoming yesterday’s news.  He was off Twitter and Facebook, and responsible for a highly unpopular attack on Congress.  Stripped of the powers of the presidency he would be forced to spend his time whining about the election and playing victim.  The […]

Voter fraud in black and white

The battle to save democracy continues. White man commits intentional voter fraud: A Marple Township man who illegally registered his dead mother as a Republican and cast a vote on her behalf in the 2020 presidential election has been sentenced to five years of probation, Delaware County prosecutors said. Bruce Bartman, 70, pleaded guilty to felony […]

The politics of research: parental incarceration and child welfare

The American Economic Review is publishing an article by Samuel Norris, Matthew Pecenco, and Jeffrey Weaver that suggests parental incarceration has benefits for children: Every year, millions of Americans experience the incarceration of a family member. Using 30 years of administrative data from Ohio and exploiting differing incarceration propensities of randomly assigned judges, this paper […]