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NatCon Censorship – PolicySphere Morning Briefing – April 17, 2024

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#Censorship – If you were on X dot com yesterday you saw that Belgian police tried to shut down the NatCon conference in Brussels. This is not strictly speaking a policy issue, but we wanted to highlight it because of how egregious it is; the mayor of the town did not even make an attempt to hide the political motivation of his move, and police showed up armed to the conference to block people from entering or leaving the building, blocking people such as Viktor Orban–a sitting prime minister of an EU country. Even for Europe, this is a new step in political oppression. That being said, we were gratified to see many free speech advocates, who disagree with the national conservative movement, still stand up for their rights of free expression and free assembly. We have learned that a letter by anti-NatCon but pro-free speech figures is being circulated and we will publish it when it’s out. It’s also worth pointing out that the Brussels mayor who sicced the police after the NatCons is himself of Turkish background and has links to “far-right” Turkish nationalist political movements and has previously hosted meetings in his city of the Young Wolves, the notorious pro-Erdogan quasi-fascist youth movement. Of course he did. The American Conservative has coverage.

#NationalDebt – Surely nothing to worry about: America’s bonds are getting harder to sell, reports the WSJ.

#DeepState – Interesting proposal from Philip Linderman of CIS and Marcus W. Thornton, a former career diplomat, to recruit a State Department that reflects American values: to have members of Congress sponsor State Department career candidates, like they do now for service academies. Today, State Department career officials disproportionately come from just a few regions in the US. Here’s a link to the full article at TAC.

#Homelessness – Homelessness has become a plague in the US, particularly in large coastal cities. Though not directly a federal issue, it is still connected to national issues like drugs. So we are linking to an important new NBER paper which provides “the most detailed and accurate portrait to date of the level and persistence of material disadvantage faced by this population, including the first national estimates of income, employment, and safety net participation based on administrative data.”

#Healthcare #PriceControls #DrugPrices – Interesting study from American Action Forum, looking at anticoagulants to examine the impact of price controls in the drugs market. “[T]he United States and UK demonstrate similar rates of anticoagulant use, face similar costs for inpatient stroke care, and have a similar percentage of people over 65, making a comparative case study useful.” Conclusion? “The United States and UK focus on price controls based on the most-used drugs may be short-sighted, prioritizing short-term savings over longer-term health care system savings.” Meanwhile, R Street’s Steven Greenhut has an op-ed on the impact of patents on drug prices.

#FinReg – The SEC has adopted a new (and, apparently, burdensome) rule requiring new disclosures for publicly-traded companies, known as the “climate rule.” The House Financial Committee recently held a hearing on the rule, and R Street was there and would like you to know the rule is bad.

#AISafety – New paper from RAND looking at how AI deepfakes might be used to create fake news and what could be done about it.

#Essay – Self-recommending: Helen Andrews on Elon Musk at the Claremont Review of Books.

#Family – Fascinating new study: “Going on date nights when you have young children knocks 20% off the risk of splitting up.” From Harry Benson at the invaluable Institute for Family Studies. What’s the policy angle, you might ask? The policy angle is that you should take your wife out on a date.

#Media – Washington Post traffic has cratered since 2020, from 140 million to 50 million, according to a report in City Paper. Clickbait media doesn’t work. We at Sphere Media are building better media.

Chart of the Day

From the Tax Foundation: President Biden has been quietly waging a more vigorous trade war than his predecessor.

Meme of the Day

New Yorker cartoons are less funny than they used to be, but they can still be quite funny when they want to be.

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