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  • Cafe Hayek provides the Quotation of the Day from Deirdre Nansen McCloskey's new book. (Amazon link at right.)

    Non-economists think that economics is about “keeping the money circulating.” And so they are impressed by the claim by the owner of the local sports franchise that devoting tax dollars to a new stadium will “generate” local sales and “create” new jobs. To a non-economist the vocabulary of generating and creating jobs out of unthrifty behavior sounds tough and prudential and quantitative. It’s not. It’s stupid. No economist of sense would use such locutions. Indeed, you can pretty much depend on it that an alleged economist on TV is a phony if she talks of “generating” or “creating” jobs.

    Which brings us naturally to…

  • Deirdre's recent article at Quillette: Reflections on My Decision to Change Gender.

    It’s been a long time now since, at age 53, I became a woman. Actually, I’m an old woman more than twenty years on, who walks sometimes with a nice fold-up cane, and has had two hip-joint replacements, and lives in a loft in downtown Chicago with 8,000 books, delighting in her dogs, her birth family, her friends scattered from Chile to China, her Episcopal church across the street, her eating club near the Art Institute, and above all her teaching and writing as a professor. Or, as the Italians so charmingly say, as una professoressa. Oh, that –essa. She retired from teaching, though not from scribbling, at age 73, twenty years after transitioning, “emerita.” Not, you see, “emeritus.”

    But of course one can’t “really” change gender, can one? The “really” comes up when an angry conservative man or an angry essentialist feminist writes in a blog or an editorial or a comment page. The angry folk are correct, biologically speaking. That’s why their anger sounds to them like common sense. Every cell in my body shouts XY, XY, XY! I do wish they would shut up. Wretched little chromosomes. In some magical future I suppose we’ll be able to change XYs into XXs. But not now.

    I was never "angry", but I have to admit that Deirdre has changed my thinking about people who are (way) out of the ordinary in their gender self-perception. I used to think such people were nuts, full stop. Nowadays, I'm a lot less eager to approach the issue that way.

  • And kinda related to that original quote is this AIER article from Jeffrey A. Tucker: Economics Is the Great Reality Check.

    There is a sense these days, whether in politics or academia, that people should shape their own realities and each result is as valid or real as any other. Your truth. My truth. Speaking as a fill-in-the-blank, my view is this and you can tell my theory by the way I just phrased that: identity is truth and there is no other. Let’s all just make things up, dream our dreams and then impose them by force of intimidation or of law.

    If nothing else, let’s fight.

    Which is precisely why economics is so lovely by comparison. Yes, economists disagree on things. But for the most part, economic science strives to understand universal forces at work, things that unite us and the human experience through time and space regardless of our wishes and dreams. More importantly, regardless of what economists themselves think, economics is an amazing and welcome constraint on flights of intellectual and political fancy. 

    Last week, for example, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign…

    Well, if you've been paying attention, you'll know exactly where Tucker is headed there.

  • Speaking of a presidential candidate in dire need of a reality check, Emily Yoffe writes at Reason: Joe Biden’s Record on Campus Due Process Has Been Abysmal. Is It a Preview of His Presidency?.

    The rationale for the 2020 candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, a man who will be 78 years old on Inauguration Day, is that he is the great moderate hope. He is the man who will save the Democrats from their ever-leftward impulses by attracting the centrist voters who remain the majority of the electorate. But the key domestic initiative of his vice presidency was not middle-of-the-road at all. It was a declaration that the federal government must engage in a far-reaching, top-down intervention in the sexual interactions between young adults, setting new rules aimed at how students must behave and establishing harsh punishments for those who deviate.

    Though his reputation rests on his moderation, Biden's approach to campus sexual assault is part of a pattern: He identifies an actual problem, engages in inflammatory—and sometimes false—rhetoric about it, then fashions a harsh, overreaching response that sweeps up the harmless and even the innocent. He has been called to task on the consequences of this approach to the federal wars on drugs and crime. (As a senator, he was a key figure in overseeing comprehensive drug and crime legislation.) Over the years, and especially since announcing his presidential run, he has repudiated some of the policies he previously promoted.

    Longtime readers may recall that I was Present at Biden's announcement of the Obama Administration's new campus sex policies in an event at the University Near Here. Looking back at what I wrote at the time, I was pretty easy on him. In my (slight) defense, nobody knew the details of the infamous "Dear Colleague" Title IX letter at the time, and he was content just to impress us all with his earnestness, if not his connection to reality.

  • At National Review, David Harsanyi writes on President Trump & Vladimir Putin -- Manchurian Candidate Conspiracy Theory Will Never Die.

    One of the most durable conspiracy theories of our times finds Vladimir Putin recruiting a billionaire media personality named Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. In some iterations of the tale, Trump is willingly serving his Kremlin comrades; in others, he is merely the victim of kompromat. In every version he is an asset.

    The basic account holds that Putin, who is apparently blessed with seer-like abilities, knew in the late 1970s that Trump, whose political positions would wildly fluctuate over 40 years, was presidential material, and that now, after decades of patiently waiting, the duo’s nefarious plan to cut taxes and place originalists onto the federal bench has finally come to fruition.

    In a sprawling July 2018 New York piece headlined, “Will Trump Be Meeting with His Counterpart — Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion,” Jonathan Chait offered a fully realized rendering of Trump’s potential sedition. Cobbling together every interaction the real-estate developer ever had with Russians — helpfully laid out in a handy Pepe Silvia–like flow chart — Chait posits that Trump might have become a Kremlin asset in 1987 when visited Moscow.

    We'll briefly note that it's far more "respectable" for the Blue Team to make fun of silly right-wing conspiracy theories. They're far less likely to call out their own.

  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for a Vice article: 'Mango Is Not a Crime': Trump-Supporting Vapers Stormed D.C..

    On Saturday, Donald Trump took off on Marine One and flew over a crowd of vapers who promptly began shouting at the helicopter. The president was on his way to the University of Alabama football game, where he was likely seeking spectators who wouldn't boo him. But what many of those gathered below sought was simple: They were vapers, and they needed Trump to notice them.

    They might have appreciated it if some aide leaned over to the president and explained that smoking combustible cigarettes was the number one cause of preventable death in the world, and that they believed vaping to be a safer alternative. They wanted him to know that they did not condone teen use, and that they disdained embattled vape giant JUUL Labs for its marketing. Most importantly, they wanted him to reconsider a federal ban of e-liquid flavors, one he had called for weeks ago and just days earlier suggested was imminent. They wanted him to let them vape cake. And cinnamon roll, and bubble gum, and custard.

    And LFOD? Ah, here 'tis:

    But there's another problem. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced that it had discovered a "very strong culprit"—a suspect that has been floated in the past—for the vaping-linked illnesses: vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent that has been found in black-market THC cartridges. So although many vapers skew libertarian and insist the government should largely stay out of their lives—there were several "live free or die" tattoos in the crowd—the lung injuries and fatalities might well have been prevented or at least curtailed had the feds placed stricter regulations on cannabis.

    Or—here's a crazy thought—if the pot-vapers had an ounce of common sense in the first place they wouldn't be using black market THC cartridges.

Last Modified 2019-11-12 11:50 AM EDT