URLs du Jour

2020-07-25

  • We open with a Tweet du Jour.

    An oldie, apparently from a 2014 column. The tweeter "@ThomasSowell" is not the guy himself, just someone who posts quotes. Which is fine.


  • The WSJ editorialists push back on wannabe cancel culture from within the paper: A Note to Readers.

    We’ve been gratified this week by the outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order.

    In the spirit of collegiality, we won’t respond in kind to the letter signers. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility in any case. The signers report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors. Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment.

    Glad to see some vertebrate behavior from a paper to which I subscribe. My local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, has pretty much become an uncritical cheerleader for wokeness and the Democratic Party.


  • At Wired, Roger McNamee offers his opinion on Big Tech’s Antitrust Hearing? They’re (Almost) All Guilty. Warning: the article is mostly garbage.

    IN THE COMING days, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee will bring the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple to Washington and ask them about their anticompetitive business practices. Except for Apple, there’s only one answer: We are guilty.

    Though anticompetitive practices were prohibited more than a century ago, deregulation has prevailed since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Believing the market would always allocate resources optimally, the federal government stopped playing its traditional role as capitalism’s umpire. The Reagan Revolution unleashed economic growth that led to a long period of prosperity and a concentration of economic power. Over the past 20 years, the rich got much richer, while half of the country struggled with static incomes. Nowhere is this lawlessness more rampant today than among large tech companies, who’ve used their power to crush competitors, suppliers, business partners, and even customers.

    We've invoked the "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" query in the past. But Roger's bio allows us to point out that just because you're rich doesn't mean you're smart. His excuses for deploying the antitrust hammer on Google, Facebook, and Amazon are vague and incoherent. Something to do with (for example) "an inability to increase personal protective equipment manufacturing and testing capacity." Google and Facebook "undermine democracy and public health." Etc. Yeah, I doubt that.

    But antitrust might not be enough! Roger also demands "laws that require tech companies to prove that new products are safe and free from bias prior to shipment, that reduce incentives to algorithmically amplify targeted harassment, disinformation, and conspiracy theories, and limit the ability of corporations to gather and exploit personal data."

    Because Uncle Stupid knows how to do that.


  • Just a relevant factoid from Arnold Kling: The S&P 4.

    Just Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google account for 21% of the [S&P 500] index.

    Obviously they must be destroyed. Nothing but good things will happen from blowing up 21% of the S&P 500.


  • Greg Mankiw has a welcome dose of sanity to the increasingly woke NYT: C.E.O.s Are Qualified to Make Profits, Not Lead Society.

    If you open any standard economics textbook, such as one of mine, you will be told that a firm’s objective is to maximize profit. That goal is sometimes described as maximizing shareholder value, which is roughly the same thing because the value of a firm’s shares depends on its current and future profitability.

    Given the vast range of economic and political problems the world faces, this approach is often said to be too narrow. And in a recent interview, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, joined in the criticism.

    “It’s way past time we put an end to the era of shareholder capitalism, the idea the only responsibility a corporation has is with shareholders,” he said. “That’s simply not true. It’s an absolute farce. They have a responsibility to their workers, their community, to their country.”

    Prof Mankiw demonstrates that this noble-sounding concept is full of contradiction. Stripped of euphemism, it would simply be a power grab by the state.

    Note: Prof Mankiw plans to vote for Biden anyway.


  • A useful reminder from Josiah Bartlett: Occupational licensing reduces economic mobility.

    Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill this week to make permanent the emergency changes expanding telemedicine services. The restrictions on telemedicine were not primarily to protect patients. They were to protect medical providers from competition. When the state makes it illegal to see a Boston doctor via video, patients have to see their local physicians.

    Prohibitions on the practice of telemedicine are an extension of occupational licensing laws. Everyone knows you have to have a state medical license to practice medicine. But licensing laws also have prevented people from consulting online with doctors who are licensed in other states, even though technology makes this easy.

    The percentage of occupations that require a state license has exploded, going from about 5% in the early 1950s to about 20% today. Economists have suspected that the growth in state occupational licensing laws has contributed to the decline in American mobility. If you’re licensed in one state, moving to another state can mean starting the licensing process all over again, as many states don’t recognize other state licenses.

    An additional point for us Granite State Geezers: the state would have lost population if not for people moving in from elsewhere. That might cheer up some Malthusians, but it's really not great. Dialing down on occupational licensure would encourage ("at the margin") people to come here and work without worrying overmuch about getting approved by the state to practice their profession.


Last Modified 2020-07-26 6:49 AM EST