URLs du Jour


  • Greg Mankiw quotes two recent papers on The High Cost of PPP Jobs. First, from Raj Chetty et. al.:

    We therefore conclude that the PPP had little material impact on employment at small businesses: we cannot rule out a small positive employment effect of the program (of e.g., 3-4 pp on employment rates), but it is clear that the program did not restore the vast majority of jobs that were lost following the COVID shock.

    And from Davud Autor et. al.:

    Our benchmark estimates imply that each job supported by the PPP cost between $162K and $381K through May 2020, with our preferred employment estimate implying a cost of $224K per job supported.

    You haven't heard about this massive waste of taxpayer dollars because both parties supported it. So it's in nobody's political interest to bring it up.

    What about the media? This story would take a distant back seat to Trump-bashing. And it works against the dominant narrative of Your Competent Federal Government being able to solve your problems, if it weren't for Orange Man.

  • Continuing on that money-burning path is Eric Boehm at Reason: The Trump Administration’s $765 Million Kodak Deal Is More Proof That ‘Economic Nationalism’ Is a Scam.

    The Trump administration's latest "economic nationalism" scheme involves having taxpayers underwrite a $765 million loan to Eastman Kodak, the long-struggling camera company, in the hopes of transforming it into a pharmaceutical manufacturer.

    If that sounds like a far-fetched idea, well, give some credit to the lobbyists who apparently made it happen.

    The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay reports that Kodak restarted its shuttered D.C. lobbying team in April of this year and proceeded to spend $870,000 on influence-peddling in the months leading up to last week's announcement by the White House. That's twice as much as the company had ever spent in a single quarter, according to lobbying disclosures, and it appears to have paid off.

    The math is pretty bad here too: "The massive loan to Kodak will create 360 new jobs—that's more than $2.1 million per job."

    And those jobs are in New York, which will certainly vote for Biden, so it's a really dumb idea politically too.

  • I'm apparently, and unforgivably, late to discover The Bridge, an online publication of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Here's a good take from Charles Lipson, Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago: Woke Colleges Are Assembly Lines for Conformity. It's excellent all the way through, RTWT, but here's important advice:

    Students entering this den of college conformity can prepare for it in four ways—and improve their education in the process. Actually, these four suggestions are good advice for anyone, at any age, facing intense institutional pressure to conform.

    1. Listen to alternative views and criticism of ideas you currently hold. That does not necessarily mean changing your views. It means testing and reevaluating them.
    2. Try not to be swept away by peer pressure. One way to minimize it is to widen your social circle.
    3. Learn to make coherent arguments. Name-calling is not an argument, damn it.
    4. Report teachers or other authority figures who demand ideological conformity to get a good grade or promotion. Your academic adviser or human resources department can tell you confidentially how to lodge a complaint and what evidence you need to support it.

    Remember: just because others are marching in lockstep doesn’t mean you have to join their parade. Make up your own mind, and do it without fear or favor. No lesson in college is more important.

    Did I say RTWT? I did? Well, here it is again: RTWT.

  • Also calling them like he sees them is Philip Carl Salzman, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University: The Invention of 'Systemic Racism'. It is largely a rebuttal to the so-called "Princeton letter". Which mostly contains the usual "demands" (some Princeton-specific) and signed by an impressive list of people. I assume a lot of signers assumed they would be publicized as racist if they didn't sign.

    Anyway, Prof Salzman:

    The evidence-free “systemic racism” is “proven” in the minds of radical professors and race activists by the poor performance of African Americans, by the “underrepresentation” of African Americans in choice professions, jobs, and wealth, and by the “overrepresentation” of African Americans in the prison system. The argument is that, if African Americans are underrepresented among rocket scientists, brain surgeons, and presidents of major corporations, it must be due to bigotry and discrimination. QED. As the Princeton letter puts it, “Diagnose the problem of racism through transparent demographic reporting. Redress the demographic disparity on Princeton’s faculty immediately and exponentially by hiring more faculty of color.” The signatories of the letter are both students and professors—most of whom are in the humanities and very few in the social sciences (two professors of sociology, zero professors of economics), except of course for anthropologists—who thus, entirely in the absence of evidence of racism, buy into the argument that any “demographic disparity” is the result of “racism.”

    We should keep in mind that this so-called “underrepresentation” of African Americans still exists in spite of fifty years of vigorous “affirmative action” preference given to African Americans in government, industry, and education. The “social justice” mantra of “diversity and inclusion” does not mean inclusion of whites, Asians, or Jews; it only means inclusion of African Americans and other “people of color” and the exclusion of others. (Nor should you ever imagine that “diversity and inclusion” means diversity of opinion, which is forbidden; uniformity of thought is enforced by the ever growing number of “diversity and inclusion” officers. Just ask Joshua Katz, who critiqued the Princeton letter, how his views were received.)

    There's already a presumption that protected-class people at even not-particularly-prestigious Universities Near Here are largely there because of that class membership, not due to impressive intellectual prowess. How much worse can it get?

    But many administrators are saying: "How much worse can it get? Hold my beer."

  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson wonders: What Next?. Always a good question.

    So far, 2020 has proved to be an annus horribilis, with the plague, a painful economic disruption, unemployment, the impeachment fiasco, riots, arson, political violence, Sarah Palin’s performing “Baby Got Back” on The Masked Singer. The episodes have come down so relentlessly that it is difficult to keep up with them all: Do you remember when the United States assassinated Iranian general Qasem Soleimani? That was this year, even if it seems like a decade ago.

    The moments in history when we suddenly are forced to confront the fact that things will never be the same are almost never pleasant ones. Though every now and then you get to watch the fall of the Berlin Wall or the moon landing, more often, you get Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination. I went to college and began my career in the 1990s, a time of great confidence and prosperity that I watched coming to an end while sitting in a Philadelphia newspaper office on September 11, 2001. I knew that things would never go back to what they had been, and I was not happy about it.

    The three great convulsants of our contemporary public life — the epidemic, the political violence in the cities, and the Trump administration — are distinct but complexly interrelated phenomena. Together, they have created a moment of genuine national instability. But it is likely that each of them will come to an end in the near term or be greatly diminished, and that the mitigation of any of them would reduce the tension contributing to the others. One day, and let us pray that it is soon, the coronavirus will be reduced to a relatively minor problem. The economy will recover. The protests will die down. And Donald Trump will, either in January 2021 or in January 2025, make his way back to private life or to federal prison or whatever it is that awaits him after the presidency.

    Then what?

    KDW notes the very large elephant in the room: federal debt. And further notes that the GOP has the same old dynamics that failed to deal with the issue credibly when it was a lot more manageable.