Trump vs. Biden in the New York Times

According to my browser, the word “Trump” occurs 6 times on the front page of today’s New York Times. “Biden” occurs 3 times.

Biden is featured for expanding government (and, therefore, borrowing and the deficit) as well as for being a quarter century older than the mandatory retirement age for an FAA air traffic controller (gone before age 56, even at the sleepiest airports where there might be one operation every 10 minutes).

Some of the headlines mentioning Trump:

Excerpts from the Trump stories:

Liberal excitement is understandable. Mr. Trump faces potential legal jeopardy from the Jan. 6 investigation in Congress and the Mar-a-Lago search. They anticipate fulfilling a dream going back to the earliest days of the Trump administration: to see him frog-marched to jail before the country and the world.

But the nightmare wouldn’t stop there. What if Mr. Trump declares another run for the presidency just as he’s indicted and treats the trial as a circus illustrating the power of the Washington swamp and the need to put Republicans back in charge to drain it?

There is an obvious risk: If Mr. Trump runs again, he might win.

It’s impossible to understand the G.O.P. reaction to the raid, though, without accounting for the context of the Russia investigation of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign that consumed the first two years of his presidency. … investigations of prominent figures of one party carried out by officials of the other party aren’t going to be met by a relaxed attitude and sympathetic understanding.

The last time there was a significant investigation of a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, Democrats waged all-out war on the prosecutor. The independent counsel, Ken Starr, had a Republican background, but he wasn’t working for a G.O.P. administration. He was appointed by a three-judge panel after Mr. Clinton’s own attorney general, Janet Reno, triggered the investigation.

The Russia investigation was a national fiasco that brought discredit on the F.B.I. and everyone who participated in it. The probe prominently featured a transparently ridiculous dossier generated by the Clinton campaign, eventually spinning into a special-counsel investigation that became, to some significant extent, about itself and whether Mr. Trump was guilty of obstruction. People who should have known better got caught up in the feeding frenzy and speculated that the walls were closing in on Mr. Trump or that he might have been a Russian asset going back decades.

That experience guarantees that no Republican is going to take assurances about the Mar-a-Lago search, or any other Trump investigation, at face value.

Is it fair to say that Trump (our distant neighbor here in Palm Beach County, though there is a world of difference between the Palm Beach and Jupiter lifestyles!) has more mindshare, nearly two years after his last election, than any other former president with the same distance from being in office?

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Inflation of 0 percent reported as inflation of 8.5 percent

Subhead from the newspaper of record today, “The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5 percent in July, a bigger slowdown than expected, but inflation may remain uncomfortably high for some time.” Let’s dig into the article:

The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5 percent in the year through July, compared with 9.1 percent the prior month, a bigger slowdown than economists had projected. After stripping out food and fuel costs to get a sense of underlying price pressures, prices climbed by 5.9 percent through July, matching the previous reading.

On a monthly basis, the price index did not move at all in July. That’s because fuel prices, airfares and used cars declined in price, offsetting increases in rent and food costs.

Core inflation was also slower than economists had expected on a monthly basis, climbing by 0.3 percent. In June, that figure was 0.7 percent.

The best official number that we have for the current inflation rate is actually 0 percent (“the price index did not move”). Or perhaps 3.65 percent (0.3 percent per month, annualized). But we are informed that inflation is a frightening 8.5 percent because of price changes that occurred at some point prior to July.

Do we believe that the 0 percent rate will endure? On the one hand, the typical American has bought so much since 2020 that it is tough to believe he/she/ze/they could fit anything more into his/her/zir/their house or apartment. On the other hand, every kind of service enterprise, including travel and tourism, is jammed, struggling to raise wages enough to attract labor, etc. (As noted here previously, one would expect that these enterprises would be half empty as the Followers of Science shied away from crowded environments so as to #StopTheSpread, but it seems that Science says the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is to gather unmasked in airliners, theme parks, concert halls, etc.)

Here’s the saddest photo from our Oshkosh trip, a donut shop in Chattanooga that has cut its hours due to “staffing shortages”. When they finally decide that they need to pay a high enough wage to open long enough to make enough profit to pay the rent, won’t they also have to contribute to inflation by raising donut prices?

In other words, until the labor market has cleared via employers raising wages, shouldn’t we expect more inflation? Also, we are still addicted to deficit spending since we can’t accept that the appropriate size for government is whatever we’re willing to pay in tax. It is tough to imagine inflation staying anywhere near 0 percent while politicians in D.C. are, at our behest, borrowing and spending (and then having the Fed magically absorb the new debt?).


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Sheryl Sandberg’s departure from Meta/Facebook as explained by NYT and New York Post

“What Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ Has Meant to Women” (NYT):

On Wednesday, Ms. Sandberg announced that she was leaving her position as chief operating officer of Facebook’s parent company, Meta — the perch that made her one of the highest-profile women in American business. She had been in the job for five years when she published “Lean In,” and her singular role and success in Silicon Valley helped amplify the book’s message.

For many women “Lean In” has been a bible, a road map to corporate life. Many others have come to understand its limits, or to view it as a symbol of what is wrong with applying individual-focused solutions to the systemic issues holding back women in the workplace, especially women of color and low-income women.

But it was also eminently clear to many readers of “Lean In” that what had allowed Ms. Sandberg to ascend the corporate world’s ladder went far beyond sheer will. She was a white, Harvard-educated woman, months away from becoming one of the world’s youngest-ever billionaires.

“It’s hard for Black women to lean in when you’re not even in the room,” said Minda Harts, 40, a consultant and the author of “The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table.”

Last month, when a draft ruling revealed the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn Roe v. Wade, Ms. Sandberg put out a statement mourning the loss of women’s abortion access.

“This is a scary day for women all across our country,” Ms. Sandberg wrote on Facebook. “Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother.”

In short, it’s all about skin color and abortion, according to the New York Times. What do the journalists at the New York Post have to say? “Meta investigated Sheryl Sandberg for using corporate resources to plan wedding: report”:

Departing Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg announced her resignation from the tech giant during an ongoing probe into her alleged use of corporate resources to plan her wedding, according to a report Thursday.

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Inflation running at 13 percent is characterized as being 8.6 percent

Inflation is at 8.6 percent: “Consumer prices jumped 8.6 percent in May compared to last year as inflation holds grip on U.S. economy” (NBC).

If we dig into the article a little, however, we find that current inflation, month-to-month, is actually at 13 percent per year (up 1 percent from month to month).

Another example… “U.S. inflation hit a new 40-year high last month of 8.6 percent (Politico):

America’s rampant inflation is imposing severe pressures on families, forcing them to pay much more for food, gas and rent.

The costs of gas, food and other necessities jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.

Consumer prices surged 8.6 percent last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year surge of 8.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1 percent from April to May, a steep rise from the 0.3 percent increase from March to April. Much higher gas prices were to blame for most of that increase.

What does Zillow expect for inflation in house prices in our ZIP code (the non-waterfront parts of Jupiter, Florida)? (note that real estate inflation is explicitly excluded from official government CPI) A 14.6 percent boost.

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New York Times discovers that a person cannot be killed twice by COVID-19

From this morning’s email, “The Covid death rate for white Americans has recently exceeded the rates for Black, Latino and Asian Americans.” by David Leonhardt, one of the New York Times journalists who enjoys covering numbers and economics.

One of the defining characteristics of the pandemic’s early stages was its disproportionate toll on Black and Latino Americans.

During Covid’s early months in the U.S., the per capita death rate for Black Americans was almost twice as high as the white rate and more than twice as high as the Asian rate. The Latino death rate was in between, substantially lower than the Black rate but still above average.

Covid’s racial gaps have narrowed and, more recently, even flipped. Over the past year, the Covid death rate for white Americans has been 14 percent higher than the rate for Black Americans and 72 percent higher than the Latino rate, according to the latest C.D.C. data.

In other words, the best minds of New York City have figured out that a person cannot be killed twice by COVID-19.

[A friend’s comment on the above: “Democrats previously advocated giving preferential access to COVID medical treatment to People of Color. Now that whites are dying at a higher rate, should whites get preferential access to medicine?”]

Let’s check in on Sweden. Given their horrific heresy, maybe COVID-19 is killing them twice?

The country that gave the finger to SARS-CoV-2 and kept its schools open has a much lower case rate than still-masked Portugal (“In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate” (NYT), 2021) or the U.S. (cases trending up, despite Science-following leadership (TM) since January 20, 2021). Those are just “cases”, though, right? How about deaths? Same pattern…

Reminder: When COVID-19 hit, friends who are medical school professors said that humans would have to co-evolve with SARS-CoV-2 and all of the measures being taken and proposed were going to be counterproductive because they would slow down this co-evolution. (Also, that if they pointed this out publicly they would never get another research grant!)

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NYT: It is now women who become pregnant

From the May 11, 2022 NYT, “Don’t Be Fooled. It’s All About Women and Sex”:

When I was back in high school — a Catholic girls’ school in Cincinnati at the beginning of the sexual revolution — our religion class covered the abortion issue in approximately 45 seconds.

“Abortion is murder,” said the priest who was giving the lesson, before moving on to more controversial topics, like necking and heavy petting.

On Wednesday the Senate failed to pass a Democratic bill supporting women’s right to choose in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision going in the other direction.

The many, many activists who have focused their political careers on constraining women’s sexual activity aren’t going to just declare victory and go home.

All this is basically about punishing women who want to have sex for pleasure.

No mention of pregnant men and their right to choose.

From 2018, same newspaper, “A Family in Transition”:

Two fathers and the baby girl they never expected.

As traditional notions of gender shift and blur, parents and children like these are redefining the concept of family.

Paetyn’s father Tanner, 25, is a trans man: He was born female but began transitioning to male in his teens, and takes the male hormone testosterone.

“I was born a man in a female body,” he said.

His partner and Paetyn’s biological father is David, 35, a gay man.

Their daughter, they agree, is the best thing that ever happened to them.
“She’ll grow up in a very diverse home,” David said. “We surround her with people who are different.”

The first time that they saw the fetal heartbeat on ultrasound, they wept.

“Yeah, I’m a pregnant man,” he told friends and acquaintances. “What? I’m pregnant. I’m still a man. You have questions? Come talk to me. You have a problem with it? Don’t be in my life.”

The journalist and editors regard them as legitimate fathers (i.e., men):

As fathers to be, they got some of their most enthusiastic congratulations from the drag world — the regulars at the club where both men perform, dancing and lip-syncing, Tanner as a drag king and David as a sassy, 6-foot-tall drag queen in a tight skirt and size 12-wide high heels.

Apropos the current debate:

And, David said: “I hope she’s a lesbian. Then we won’t have boys coming to the house and we won’t have to worry about her getting pregnant.”

Also recently from the NYT opinion section, “It’s Time to Rage” (by Roxane Gay):

My wife’s stepfather began raping her when she was 11 years old. The abuse went on for years, and as Debbie got older, she was constantly terrified that she was pregnant. She had no one to talk to and nowhere to turn.

Her stepfather often threatened to kill her younger brother and her mother if Debbie told anyone, so when the fear of pregnancy became too consuming, she told her mother she was assaulted at school. Her mother took Debbie to a doctor, who said that because of her scar tissue, she was sexually active and must have a boyfriend. It was the early 1970s.

A pregnancy would have, in Debbie’s words, ruined her life. Today, she is 60 years old. She is still dealing with the repercussions of that trauma. It is unfathomable to consider how a forced pregnancy would have further altered the trajectory of her life.

This story is supposed to make readers see how misguided conservatives who oppose abortion are, but couldn’t the article support those who advocate for conservative sexual values? Stepfathers did not exist in significant quantities until the 1970s no-fault (“unilateral”) divorce revolution. The author’s wife was unlikely to have been abused by a stepfather in the (mythical?) white picket fence era to which Republicans yearn to return because there were hardly any divorces that left moms free to bring an unrelated adult male into a girl’s household.

Circling back to the first topic, pregnant men only recently won their own emoji but now the mainstream media pretends that they don’t exist?

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New York Times story on the baby formula shortage

Timed to coincide with the national shortage of baby formula, “The Feminist Case for Breast Reduction” (NYT, May 10):

Over the next 25 years, my breasts drew attention that I would not otherwise have received. Like a sexual beacon, they signaled to men everywhere. I’d always known I was queer and began dating women as a teenager. While I found some refuge in these intimate relationships, I still lived in the world of men, and the size of my breasts meant that my body was theirs for the staring, commenting, grabbing and fetishizing.

Frye and I were the same height, but her breasts were larger than mine, which were a 36D.

How much weight is 36D? Approximately 1.5 lbs. per breast. (source)

Cosmetic surgery is off-limits to the true feminist, but the implication is that working as a prostitute is consistent with feminism:

I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, thumbing through my mother’s issues of Ms. and occasionally attending NOW meetings with her. Despite never having read any feminist writing on cosmetic surgery, I knew that the consensus was, as Kathy Davis, the foremost contemporary feminist theorist on the subject, wrote in a 1991 article in the journal “Hypatia,” that cosmetic surgery was “regarded as an extreme form of medical misogyny, producing and reproducing the pernicious and pervasive cultural themes of deficient femininity.” The woman who yielded to the desire to commit such violence to her body was a “cultural dope,” afflicted by false consciousness, believing she made a personal choice while actually yielding to a system that controls and oppresses women.

Years later, I found plenty of loopholes in my inherited feminism that permitted me to do things I would have thought off limits at 13, but none were big enough to fit cosmetic surgery. Even by my early 20s, the only people I knew who’d done it were friends who worked in the sex industry, for whom it seemed a professional investment rather than a personal one. I would need a more powerful kind of permission that I didn’t yet feel the authority to give myself.

The author has some experience with body modification:

My conception of feminism also permitted me to cover myself in tattoos, pierce just about every flap of skin on my body and stretch inch-wide holes in my earlobes as well as have them sewn back up 10 years later (a permissible “deformity” to have corrected). To change my body through cosmetic surgery, however, would violate the often-conflicting ideologies behind these allowances.

The supposed dichotomy between “medical” and “aesthetic” surgeries is reflected perhaps most starkly in today’s medicalization of sexual transition, the manner in which transgender people seeking surgery must pathologize their experience in order to receive permission from medical gatekeepers. Listening to the experiences of my trans friends and reading the works of trans writers pushed me to think differently about my own dilemma.

The summer before I made the first appointment, my wife and I spent an afternoon in a private room at a bathhouse in Port Townsend, Wash., and that is where I told her about my decades-long struggle with my breasts and my interest in surgery. I had never spoken aloud about it to anyone.

In other words, the NYT gives us a story about two members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community that begins in a bathhouse. The self-described “feminist” chooses a male plastic surgeon and the result is a happy ending:

I had always experienced my body, particularly my breasts, as something I needed to keep hidden or to manage. In the first weeks after my surgery, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because the sight of the incisions made me woozy. Instead, I asked my wife to look and tell me what she saw. I stood and opened my shirt. It felt like baring myself to the sun for the first time. How warm it was. How quickly I had stopped treating my body like a terrible secret. It was less the physical alteration that made it possible than the conversation we had in that steamy room and the decision that followed. Naming my experience returned my body to me more conclusively than a scalpel ever could.

How bad is the formula shortage right now? Amazon offers some infant formula that they promise to deliver… in June. Most products are shown as simply “unavailable” with no promises regarding restocking.


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Is the New York Times the primary promoter of white replacement theory?

“White Replacement Theory” is in the news as a potential motivation for the recent mass murder in Buffalo. After a decent interval to mourn the victims, perhaps it is worth asking “Who could be responsible for spreading this false narrative?”

“It Was a Terrifying Census for White Nationalists” (New York Times, August 2021):

The white power acolytes saw this train approaching from a distance — the browning of America, the shrinking of the white population and the explosion of the nonwhite — and they did everything they could to head it off.

They tried to clamp down on immigration, both unlawful and lawful. They waged a propaganda war against abortion, and they lobbied for “traditional family values” in the hopes of persuading more white women to have more babies. They orchestrated a system of mass incarceration that siphoned millions of young, marriage-age men, disproportionately Black and Hispanic, out of the free population.

On every level, in every way, these forces, whether wittingly or not, worked to prevent the nonwhite population from growing. And yet it did.

Meanwhile, the white population, in absolute numbers, declined for the first time in the history of the country.

“What the ‘Majority Minority’ Shift Really Means for America” (NYT, August 2021):

In 2015, the Census Bureau published a report projecting that by 2044, the United States’ white majority would become merely a white plurality: immigration and fertility trends would lead to America’s ethnic and racial minorities outnumbering its white population.

Because of the status white people retain in American society, a degree of privilege and belonging still awaits those who can claim it. People who identify as white hold disproportionate power and resources today, and this pernicious reality seems unlikely to change even if white people do become a 49 percent plurality in about two decades.

“Fewer Births Than Deaths Among Whites in Majority of U.S. States” (NYT, June 2018):

Deaths now outnumber births among white people in more than half the states in the country, demographers have found, signaling what could be a faster-than-expected transition to a future in which whites are no longer a majority of the American population.

The Census Bureau has projected that whites could drop below 50 percent of the population around 2045, a relatively slow-moving change that has been years in the making. But a new report this week found that whites are dying faster than they are being born now in 26 states, up from 17 just two years earlier, and demographers say that shift might come even sooner.

“Why the Announcement of a Looming White Minority Makes Demographers Nervous” (November 2018):

For white nationalists, it signifies a kind of doomsday clock counting down to the end of racial and cultural dominance. For progressives who seek an end to Republican power, the year points to inevitable political triumph, when they imagine voters of color will rise up and hand victories to the Democratic Party.

Of course, the mass shooting was a terrible event and directed against non-elites who had no role in creating our open borders nor the economic policies that have reduced fertility among working class whites. (chart source)

(According to the chart, the best times to have kids are when you’re on welfare and when you’re rich. Note that there are a lot more poor people than rich people and, therefore, the United States is becoming increasingly a society of the children of the poor. See The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications and The Son Also Rises: Policy Implications for what that might mean.)

The New York Times blames “far-right online platforms” for spreading this “racist belief” (5/14/2022):

The idea that white people should fear being replaced by “others” has spread through far-right online platforms, shaping discussions among American white nationalists, The Times has reported.

Should the paper look at its own triumphalist articles?

Circling back to the tragedy in Buffalo, are there any lessons to be learned? Republicans are often blamed for insufficiently restrictive gun laws, but New York State is free of political influence by Republicans. The perpetrator was mentally ill, but we don’t have effective treatments for mental illness. Two years of school lockdowns and mask orders probably did not improve his mental condition (he reportedly wore a hazmat suit to school for a week). Maybe he would have been happier if his parents had moved him to Florida. I see a fair number of mixed-skin-color teenage voluntary gatherings. Black guys in their 20s and 30s here generally refer to me as “brother”. I have not determined whether it is acceptable to reciprocate.


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NYT: the broadest economic recovery entails a falling GDP

This is one of my favorite New York Times headlines ever: “G.D.P. Report Shows the U.S. Economy Shrank, Masking a Broader Recovery”.

Our technocratically-managed economy is thriving, even if shrinking a bit (the per capita shrinkage would be more dramatic if you consider population growth, just as the headline “GDP growth” figures that we’re accustomed to seeing don’t represent an actual improvement for the average person because there are more people in the US every day). So we shouldn’t lose faith in the central planners.

Speaking of central planners, I visited a friend in D.C. who works as an economist at the Federal Reserve. A few days earlier, she had received the Economist magazine in the mail. The cover story: “The Fed that failed; Why the Federal Reserve has made a historic mistake on inflation”.

One of the things that I like least about the Economist is their faith in technocracy. All of the world’s problems can be solved with enlightened leadership. Here’s how the article begins…

Central banks are supposed to inspire confidence in the economy by keeping inflation low and stable. America’s Federal Reserve has suffered a hair-raising loss of control. In March consumer prices were 8.5% higher than a year earlier, the fastest annual rise since 1981. In Washington inflation-watching is usually the preserve of wonks in shabby offices. Now nearly a fifth of Americans say inflation is the country’s most important problem; President Joe Biden has released oil from strategic reserves to try to curb petrol prices; and Democrats are searching for villains to blame, from greedy bosses to Vladimir Putin.

It is the Fed, however, that had the tools to stop inflation and failed to use them in time. The result is the worst overheating in a big and rich economy in the 30-year era of inflation-targeting central banks.

(I’m not a subscriber, so I don’t know how it ends. Maybe a reader can enlighten us all!)

Update: After disabling JavaScript for this site in Microsoft Edge, I can see the whole article. Some choice excerpts:

Strip out energy and food and the euro zone’s inflation is 3%—but America’s is 6.5%. Also, America’s labour market, unlike Europe’s, is clearly overheating, with wages growing at an average pace of nearly 6%.

Uncle Sam has been on a unique path because of Mr Biden’s excessive $1.9trn fiscal stimulus, which passed in March 2021. It added extra oomph to an economy that was already recovering fast after multiple rounds of spending, and brought the total pandemic stimulus to 25% of gdp—the highest in the rich world. As the White House hit the accelerator, the Fed should have applied the brakes.

Is it fair to blame the Fed? When the government is spending like an alimony plaintiff, what could the Fed possibly have done to stop inflation?

The good news is that we can continue cheating hard-working foreigners, even as Americans continue to relax at home:

Inflation that is stable and modestly above 2% might be tolerable for the real economy, but there is no guarantee the Fed’s stance today can deliver even that. And breaking promises has consequences. It hurts long-term bondholders, including foreign central banks and governments which own $4trn-worth of Treasury bonds. (A decade of 4% inflation instead of 2% would cut the purchasing power of money repaid at the end of that period by 18%.)

When the Japanese (holders of $1.3 trillion of our debt) come over to redeem the 30-year Treasury Bonds that they purchased in good faith reliance on our integrity, they’ll be able to use that money to buy a one-week visit to Disney World for a family of three?

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The Science of abortion

“What Quantum Mechanics Can Teach Us about Abortion” (Scientific American):

As light can exist as both a particle and a wave, an abortion provider can honor birth and fight for a person’s right to give birth when it’s right for them

Quantum mechanics, a discipline within physics, has demonstrated that both are true. Sometimes light acts like a particle, sometimes a wave. This duality explains all the characteristics of light that have been observed experimentally, and has allowed scientists to explore the cosmos in previously unimaginable ways. That these two seemingly irreconcilable beliefs could come together gives me hope that similar harmony could be achieved in the discussion of other deeply polarizing topics, including abortion.

Instead of either/or, imagine both/and. We recognize the value placed on a desired and loved pregnancy by families and understand that ending a pregnancy is the right decision for some people some of the time. Individuals may have ethical objections to abortion and recognize that anti-choice laws can harm people. We can value human life and recognize the complexities of reproductive decision making. Attending thousands of births has been a great joy in my career and has cemented my belief that forcing a person to give birth against their will is a fundamental violation of their human rights.

Generally, the article takes the scientifically correct position that those who identify as “men” are just as likely to get pregnant and give birth as those who identify as “women”. But then the author and editors for some reason slip into distinctly unscientific (and hateful) language:

Given that one quarter of women in the U.S. have an abortion, many Americans have benefitted directly or indirectly from abortion care. I implore readers to emulate previous generations of scientists who changed our understanding of the universe by their willingness to consider seemingly opposite empirical truths: Particle and wave, abortion providers and ethical physicians, pro-life and pro-choice.

Scientific American says that correct political and moral decision regarding abortion (legal right through 37 or 39 weeks in Maskachusetts so long as one doctor thinks it will help the birthing person) can be established scientifically, in other words, and therefore anyone who has a different opinion is factually and scientifically incorrect.

Is this idea new? A Duke econ professor‘s 2007 introduction to Nobel-winner F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom:

The British were not Continental socialists, but still, the danger signs were there. Clearly, the nearly universal sentiment among the intelligentsia in the 1930s that a planned system represented “the middle way” between a failed capitalism and totalitarianisms of the left and right was worrisome. The writings of what Hayek called the “men (and women!) of science” could not be ignored. Look at this message from the weekly magazine Nature, taken from an editorial that carried the title “Science and the National War Effort”:

“The contribution of science to the war effort should be a major one, for which the Scientific Advisory Committee may well be largely responsible. Moreover, the work must not cease with the end of the war. It does not follow that an organization which is satisfactory under the stress of modern warfare will serve equally well in time of peace; but the principle of the immediate concern of science in formulating policy and in other ways exerting a direct and sufficient influence on the course of government is one to which we must hold fast. Science must seize the opportunity to show that it can lead mankind onward to a better form of society.”

The very next week readers of Nature would find similar sentiments echoed in Barbara Wootton’s review of a book on Marxism: “The whole approach to social and political questions is still pre-scientific. Until we have renounced tribal magic in favour of the detached and relentless accuracy characteristic of science the unconquered social environment will continue to make useless and dangerous our astonishing conquest of the material environment.” Progressive opinion was united behind the idea that science was to be enlisted to reconstruct society along more rational lines.

From the same 2007 intro, potentially of interest now that we’re in Year 3 of a “National Emergency” (see “Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-⁠19) Pandemic” (, February 18, 2022))

Another theme, evident perhaps more explicitly in this introduction than in specific passages in Hayek’s own text, but nonetheless very much a part of his underlying motivation in writing the book, is Hayek’s warning concerning the dangers that times of war pose for established civil societies—for it is during such times when hard-won civil liberties are most likely to be all-too-easily given up. Even more troubling, politicians instinctively recognize the seductive power of war. Times of national emergency permit the invocation of a common cause and a common purpose. War enables leaders to ask for sacrifices. It presents an enemy against which all segments of society may unite. This is true of real war, but because of its ability to unify disparate groups, savvy politicians from all parties find it effective to invoke war metaphors in a host of contexts. The war on drugs, the war on poverty, and the war on terror are but three examples from recent times. What makes these examples even more worrisome than true wars is that none has a logical endpoint; each may be invoked forever. Hayek’s message was to be wary of such martial invocations. His specific fear was that, for a war to be fought effectively, the power and size of the state must grow. No matter what rhetoric they employ, politicians and the bureaucracies over which they preside love power, and power is never easily surrendered once the danger, if there ever was one, has passed. Though eternal vigilance is sage advice, surely “wartime” (or when politicians would try to convince us that it is such a time) is when those who value the preservation of individual liberty must be most on guard.


  • “Governor Newsom Signs Legislation to Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Costs for Abortion Services” (, 3/22/2022): “In the face of nationwide attacks on reproductive rights, California has taken action to improve access to reproductive care by removing financial barriers to this essential health care,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “In the Golden State, we value women and recognize all they shoulder in their dual roles as caregivers and breadwinners. California will continue to lead by example and ensure all women and pregnant people have autonomy over their bodies and the ability to control their own destinies.” SB 245 prohibits health plans and insurers from imposing a co-pay, deductible, or other cost-sharing requirement for abortion and abortion-related services. The legislation also prohibits health plans and insurers from imposing utilization management practices on covered abortion and abortion-related services. California is one of six states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion services, but out-of-pocket costs for patients can exceed a thousand dollars.
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