- I’ve started a notebook at Cato tracking abuse of government’s emergency powers. First installment tags NYC mayor de Blasio (claims he will shut down synagogues “permanently” if they defy his orders), L.A. mayor Garcetti (going to use the city utility to shut off violators), and a Gotham group that sees the crisis as the perfect excuse for an edict banning tobacco;
- Drones spy on Brits taking country walks: “Here’s the problem, beyond the creepy secret surveillance: These people in the video are not in violation of this new law. The Derbyshire Police are in the wrong.” [Scott Shackford]
- To get more ventilators, just order private companies to make them, say fans of the Defense Production Act. Not as simple as that [Megan McArdle]
- “Needed fast: a plan to open up the economy again in a virus-safe way…. figure out what combination of personal distancing, self-isolation, testing, cleaning, etc. will allow each kind of business to reopen, at least partially.” [John Cochrane and more; Chris Edwards, Cato]
- Many states have laws against wearing face masks on the street, which one hopes will go unenforced for masks meant to intercept virus transmission [Jacob Sullum]
- In retrospect, it might have been wise for the World Health Organization to express its opposition to tobacco use in some way other than by calling it a “pandemic” [Pierre Lemieux]
Some disabled rights advocates say until schools can adapt online lessons to assist every special ed kid, schools should not be allowed to use remote learning to finish this year’s curriculum. Fortunately, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said no to that bit of zealotry — even if it did carry the day in school systems like Chicago’s. My new Cato post argues that the advancement of the student body as a whole should not be held hostage to anti-discrimination principles.
Is it questionable and suspicious for doctors to administer a medication that has not been proved effective for the use in question? Nope. It’s perfectly normal. I explain “off-label prescribing” in a new opinion piece at the Washington Examiner, the news hook being the recent flap about chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine as possible treatments for COVID-19. A related Twitter thread is here as well as here, and here’s our earlier coverage of off-label prescribing.
Also related, this recent line from Scott Alexander is so apt: “Just like the legal term for ‘not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’ is ‘not guilty’, the medical communication term for ‘not proven effective beyond a reasonable doubt’ is ‘not effective'”.
“After suffering from the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), China appears to have succeeded at turning around its spread through the use of highly coercive measures such as widespread home confinement of both healthy and sick persons. Can societies with more individual liberty match its success without losing their character?” My new Cato piece argues that widespread testing has been a key to South Korea’s success and if the United States is to follow up it needs to open up regulatory permissions. With bonus provocation at the end about Bill Gates and billionaires!
“The executive director of the [Rhode Island] ACLU called the bill a ‘direct attack’ on press freedom, while the head of the newspaper association called it ‘laughable and frightening.'” So how’d it get introduced? My Tuesday piece at Cato inquires.
My new Bulwark piece: “He does not say what criminal law he thinks they have broken, despite the plain current legality under current law of operating refineries, at-pump gas sales and so forth. But note that Sanders’ language is not forward-looking — it’s retrospective. He’s not just talking about passing some new law and then arresting executives who proceed to violate it. He is talking about prosecuting past lawful behavior….
“America needs a politics with fewer authoritarian impulses, not more.”
A new bill in the Maryland General Assembly would prohibit counties and cities from banning children’s lemonade stands when set up occasionally on private property. I submitted these perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek comments advising lawmakers to stop them young:
“Today’s breaker of low-level regulations is tomorrow’s breaker of more serious regulations. The ten year old who dabbles in lemonade selling today could become tomorrow’s bringer of a church potluck casserole prepared in a home kitchen rather than an inspected commercial facility. A few years later, accustomed to the ways of regulation-breaking, that same miscreant might use that same home kitchen to bake a dozen pies, plus one for good luck, to bring to a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving.
“The time to stop it is when it starts — on the June day when the first pitcher of lemonade is mixed and hawked to passersby for 50 cents, plus a tip if you get lucky. Stop them young, or they will get used to serving others and along the way learning to act and think for themselves.
“Does this all sound a little crazy and upside down? Well, it is. We should make it easier, not harder, for kids to be enterprising, well organized, and friendly, all lessons of the lemonade stand.”
- I’ve expanded the previous post in this space on Braille gift cards into a longer Cato post with a bit more on the politics and history of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), mentioning along the way the recent closure of a popular San Jose coffee shop [Nadia Lopez, San Jose Spotlight; another San Jose deli story] Speaking of such happenings, “He says the suit could mean the end of the restaurant. ‘We would rather just close down if we have to pay that absurd amount of money,’ he says.” [Rancho Vegano in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood; Michael Scotto, NY1 Spectrum News]
- “It’s about time! New rule could have emotional support animals bumped from planes” [Lynn Norment, Memphis Commercial Appeal; Wes Siler, Outside; David Koenig, AP]
- Videos on leading pornographic websites “lack enough closed captioning, claims the class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of all deaf and hard-of-hearing people.” [Noah Goldberg, New York Daily News]
- “Federal Website Access Lawsuit Numbers Increase 7 Percent in 2019, With Possible Bump from Supreme Court Denial of Cert in Domino’s” [Kristina M. Launey and Minh N. Vu, Seyfarth Shaw; Vu on related litigation trends in 2019]
- “White students in New York City are 10 times as likely as Asian students to have a 504 designation that allows extra time on the specialized high school entrance exams.” [Kevin Quealy and Eliza Shapiro, New York Times; Dana Goldstein and Jugal K. Patel, New York Times (“it helps to have cash” in getting pricey psychological assessments in Southern California); Education Next (“number of high school students being given special allowances for test-taking, such as extra time, has surged in recent years” with students in affluent suburbs more likely to get them)]
- “Law firms settle suit accusing them of civil RICO conspiracy to collect ADA settlements” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Moore and Mission law firms, California; KGO/ABC7News on some Bay Area cases]
Elected officials across the aisle agree in applauding “ban the box” laws. Too bad they don’t work, I argue in my new piece at Cato. Earlier research found the laws didn’t improve employment of ex-offenders and actually harmed some groups. Now a new study finds no benefit for recidivism — and once again, harm to some groups.
With studies finding such laws ineffective even as to government hiring, “how much less justification is there for using them to constrain the freedom of private employers that have never incarcerated anyone”? Especially when directed at non-government employers, such laws “are a triumph of feel-good sentiment over economic rationality, practicality, and in the end the interests of the intended beneficiaries.” Whole piece here.