Last week was very busy for me, with doing taxes and substantially rewriting our wills. So this is biweekly rather than weekly.

We Are Still Measuring Inflation All Wrong

by Alan Reynolds, Cato at Liberty, February 26, 2024.


If the U.S. measured consumer prices in the same “harmonized” way other countries do —by simply excluding dubious guesstimates of Owners’ Equivalent Rent— the average rate of inflation was 2.3 percent over the past twelve months, 1.1 percent over the past six, and zero over the past three.


New technologies, new totalitarians

by Noah Smith, Noahpinon, February 27, 2024.


The internet’s inventors thought it would be a force for human freedom, enabling regular people to speak up from a position of relative privacy without getting government permission or paying large fixed costs. And for a while, in the 1990s and 2000s, that’s more or less how it turned out.

Then two things happened. First, internet users migrated from the Web (where attempts at tracking can be detected and blocked) to apps, which watch and record pretty much everything you do in the app. Second, internet use switched from PCs to smartphones, which are far easier to track in physical space, and far easier to link to a user. Together, these changes turned the internet into a technology for universal surveillance. A sufficiently powerful government can use your phone, and the apps on your phone, to track where you are and what you’re doing at all times.

Interestingly, though, Smith goes on to point out how narrow the Chinese government’s aims are vis-a-vis the United States.

Biden’s Inaccurate and Inadequate Lip Service to Marijuana Reform Ignores Today’s Central Cannabis Issue

by Jacob Sullum, Reason, March 8, 2024.


Contrary to what Biden said, his pardons for people convicted of simple possession under federal law do not entail expungement of criminal records because there is no way to accomplish that without new legislation. The distinction matters because Biden has emphasized that “criminal records for marijuana possession” create “needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.” His pardons do not remove those barriers. The certificates that pardon recipients can obtain might carry weight with landlords or employers, but there is no guarantee of that.


GMU economist reported to DEI office for criticizing plan to mandate DEI courses

by Jennifer Kabbany, The College Fix, February 27, 2024.


An economics professor at George Mason University was recently reported to its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office after he publicly criticized an effort underway to add two diversity-heavy courses to graduation requirements.

Economist Bryan Caplan posted on X his strong objection to the proposal — which is on the cusp of being implemented even as several states across the nation have enacted laws that curb diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and offices in higher education.

“George Mason University is a public university, funded by Virginians with a wide range of political views about the nature of justice. The Just Societies Initiative is a thinly-veiled effort to teach far-left (or ‘woke’) views of justice as the One True Position,” Caplan posted Feb. 20.

“Even people who agree with such views should ponder the justice of creating an official state-sanctioned orthodoxy and requiring all students to spend multiple classes feigning agreement with it.”