Our Kids Have No Economic Immune Systems

by Michael Munger, AIER, June 5, 2024.


This seems paradoxical. The commercial system has delivered, consistently and broadly shared across the population. Yet having to participate in a system where one plans, saves, invests, and designs an individual “pursuit of happiness” is overwhelming the very people who should be grabbing all the new opportunities that the system has revealed to them.

I think the explanation for the paradox is simple: Everything difficult has been banished. Just as our physiological immune system needs threats to mature and avoid attacking itself, our sense of commercial efficacy has to be confronted with challenges, and surmount those challenges, to mature into effective citizenship.

Kids are told they can do anything, that they are personally mighty and important. But they never have the experience of everyday effort and failure; In fact, they are urged to avoid anything that might “trigger” them, or enable them to play or act on their own, as has been documented by authors ranging from Jonathan Haidt, mentioned above, to Lenore Skenazy.  So young people are overwhelmed with anxiety: If they do anything less than cure cancer or become a US Senator, they have failed. But they don’t know how to build a birdhouse from scrap wood. They have no idea how to repair a toilet, or how to change the inner tube on their $6,000 mountain bike. They are helpless, but charged with an inflated sense of destiny and self-importance.

DRH comment when I read this: One of my proudest accomplishments at the Naval Postgraduate School occurred one afternoon about 15 years ago when I saw a distinguished professor (and by distinguished, I mean that he had gray hair and looked old, which is about how I look now) in the parking lot with a flat tire. I asked him if he wanted me to help. He did. I hadn’t changed a tire in over 30 years, but I remembered all the steps right, and we were both on our way in under 15 minutes.

DRH comment now: I hesitate to challenge Michael’s observations because, after all, he is around young students more than I am. So my 5 counterexamples will probably appear weak, laced as they are with self-selection. A local organization I’m involved with, called the California Arts and Science Institute (CASI) had an event for young people–everyone from grade schoolers to college students–last Wednesday. My friend Francois Melese talked to three of them; I talked to two of them–my two were in college, one at Monterey Peninsula College and the other at UC Berkeley. I came away very impressed, as did Francois. I know the danger of anecdotes. What I would say is that the danger of going with Mike Munger’s view is that you might tell yourself that there’s no point in showing up for such events.

How Democrats Left the IPCC Behind

by Roger Pielke, Jr., The Honest Broker, May 20, 2024.

Democrats — not all, but many — have left the IPCC behind in favor of an extreme view of climate and extreme events. Republicans — not all, but many — find themselves much more in line with the findings of the IPCC on climate and extreme events. Similarly, I’d guess that explains why in recent years I’ve been invited to testify by Republicans.4

Of course, consistency with the IPCC (or not) says little about policy preferences. Democrats remain the party championing action on climate policy and Republicans remain much less supportive. Of course, the key question here is, What action? I have long argued that there are unexplored opportunities for greater bipartisan support for pragmatic energy and adaptation policies that would accelerate decarbonization and reduce vulnerabilities — but that’s a topic for another day.


The Stanford Classical Liberals had Roger speak on Zoom last month. Very impressive.

The Danger Is Not China But the Fake China Threat

by John V. Walsh, antiwar.com, May 27, 2024.

At times a book is convincing not only because its arguments are sound but also because of the author’s identity.  It would be no surprise to encounter a book penned by a socialist or Sinophile that takes on the false portrait of China that graces the US media.  But Joseph Solis-Mullen, the author of The Fake China Threat And Its Very Real Danger, is neither socialist nor Sinophile.

Solis-Mullen is a libertarian in the mold of Randolph Bourne and Justin Raimondo. Hence, he is classified as a conservative in our impoverished political taxonomy.  But his book is not written to appeal to people of any single political outlook.  It is written with only one thing in mind, the interest of the American people and, dare I say, of humanity in general, China included.  Hence it is of great utility for people across the political spectrum who sense that our people are being hoodwinked by fake China threats.  It may answer your questions on China or those of your friends in ways understandable to the average American.

Comment: I don’t completely discount the threat from China but I think it has been overblown. Certainly, if they’re trying to threaten us with trade, they have a weird way of doing it, namely having their taxpayers give money to us in the form of subsidized exports. As Milton Friedman once said, “Why should we reject foreign aid?” Especially when the foreign aid is given to consumers rather than to our wasteful governments.

George Orwell’s Error

by Christopher J. Snowdon, Quillette, June 6, 2024.


The central assumption at the heart of Orwell’s political writing from the mid-1930s was that capitalism was doomed and would most likely be replaced by totalitarian socialism of the sort satirised in Nineteen-Eighty Four. Despite his contempt for capitalism, Orwell saw the world caught between a rock and hard place. “Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war,” he wrote in 1944. “Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war.” The only alternative, to his mind, was a planned economy that retained democracy and allowed freedom of the individual, but he became increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for his libertarian brand of what he called democratic socialism as the 1940s wore on. Indeed, he saw “no practicable way of bringing it about.”

This explains why he was so despondent about the world’s prospects in the last years of his life and why he decided to write Nineteen Eighty-Four. But he was wrong. Capitalism did survive, subsequent communist revolutions went the same way as the USSR’s, and Orwell’s version of democratic socialism was not required to prevent totalitarianism sweeping the globe. It turned out that it was not a straight choice between democratic socialism and communist (or fascist) totalitarianism. There was a third way.

The quote from 1944, by the way, is from his review of two books, one of which was Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.


Judge Napolitano, Judging Freedom, YouTube, June 5, 2024.

Ritter tells of 3 U.S. government agents hauling him off an airplane about to leave for Russia and stealing, without explanation, his passport. They wouldn’t tell him who sent them and, when asked, told him that the way to retrieve his stolen property was to contact the State Department.