dark mode light mode Search

Friday Essays And Links – PolicySphere Morning Briefing – May 24, 2024

Bonjour! Here’s your PolicySphere morning briefing! If you were forwarded this, here’s more about who we are and what we’re doing and, of course, don’t forget to sign up and tell your friends.

Success! You're on the list.

Good morning! There will be no Morning Briefing on Monday as that is Memorial Day. Enjoy the long weekend and, of course, honor and remember those who gave the last, full measure of devotion to the great nation that is America.

You will also have more time to read our Friday Essays–but first, your links for today


#Drugs – Back in the 1990s, the average daily marijuana user was consuming about 5 mg of THC per day. Today, the average is 300 mg/day, a 60x increase, according to a new study by Jonathan Caulkins and Keith Humphreys. That is a staggering increase. Proponents of marijuana legalization argued that legalization would lower the potency of marijuana strains, and instead the exact opposite has happened. Here’s a great thread from Manhattan Institute’s Charles Fain Lehman breaking down this staggering result.

#EVs #Energy #AmericanManufacturing – One obstacle to the mass manufacturing/adoption of EVs but also intermittent so-called renewables like wind and solar, has been the high cost of batteries. According to trade publication The Information, that cost has crashed in China. “A US battery developer told me that if $56/kWh LFP ever reaches the US, American stationary battery makers ‘will be toast—everyone.’ We report today that the price in China is now $47/kWh.”

#Demographics #FamilyPolicy – Lyman Stone and Erin Wingerter have produced an important report from the Institute for Family Studies looking at the crashing birth rates of Southern Europe. A key finding: “Fertility rates within marriage remain fairly high in much of southern Europe, and only Spain has seen a major decline in married fertility in the last 40 years. However, marriage rates have fallen sharply in all countries. As a result, most of the decline in fertility can be directly attributed to decreasing exposure to marriage.” The report deals extensively with the French case, since France has long stood out among developed nations for its high birth rates. Stone: “France’s fertility performance is explained entirely by higher birth rates of native-born women, i.e. not migrants. And among native-born women, it is explained almost completely by those today who have uniformly French grandparents, i.e. their whole family was French 1900-1945. So the idea that France’s fertility is due to immigrants is nonsense. Meanwhile, an extensive prior literature discussed in the report uses plausibly causal mechanisms to show that France’s 0.1-0.3 child advantage over peers can be ~100% explained by PRONATAL POLICY.” As the US enters its own worrying demographic slide, these are important findings for American policymakers.

#Budget – The Biden Administration keeps announcing new rounds of student loan forgiveness. Each time it is relatively small, but it adds up: “With this month’s addition of $7.7 billion, the tracker’s total now sits at about $405 billion dollars,” writes AEI’s Nat Malkus, who runs the think tank’s useful Student Debt Forgiveness Tracker. A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about a lot of money.

#ImmigrationThe Border Patrol has lost a quarter of its workforce since 2020 election. The open border policies and catch-and-release are demoralizing agents. This is not a good sign for US sovereignty and state capacity.

#AI #Elections – New Democratic bills want to regulate the use of AI around election time. “At their core, laws that regulate the use of AI in election communications are establishing a speech restriction that may violate the First Amendment,” argues R Street.

#Radicalization – Brookings is looking at the increasing gender gap among young Americans when it comes to political ideology. Good report with lots of eye-opening charts.

Friday Essays

Nic Rowan, Modern Age: “Wars and Modern Memory” The way we honor the dead changes as their sacrifices pass into eternity.

Stephen Balch, Chronicles: “Transhumanism and the Cure for Suffering” Stephen Balch asks: Are there evolutionary purposes to human suffering? And, if so, what might these tell us about how to alleviate it through artificial intelligence and whether we should?

Over at The Public Discourse, Matthew J. Franck writes on the pleasure of reading short stories and novellas.

Contemporary schools no longer teach grammar. Classic schools are bucking the trend. But, warns S.A. Dance at First Things, they should be careful in how they do it. If you are like this writer, you were taught sentence diagramming as a child. However, “sentence diagramming reproduces not the classical tradition but the grammar instruction pervasive in public schools a few generations ago. An artifact of nineteenth-century Enlightenment thinking, sentence diagramming reduces grammar to mere syntax, and syntax to the mechanical interrelationship of parts of speech within a closed system.” If language and grammar interests you, this is fascinating stuff.

At Modern Age, Andrew McKiernan gives us an on-the-ground report on the student protests at UT Austin.

At The New Atlantis, Adam Keiper reviews the history of the Office of Technology Assessment, an agency of Congress active from the 1970s to the 1990s, and argues we need a body like it today.

At Modern Age, Bradley C.S. Watson reviews a new biography of George Washington.

At Law & Liberty, Edward Halper argues that anti-semitism forms the core of intersectionality theory.

At American Affairs, Olivia Webb Kosloff points to the alarming vulnerability of American supply chains when it comes to drugs, even two years after the pandemic. “Pharmaceutical manufacturers are largely reliant on India, which is in turn reliant on China—a status quo that is unsustainable. But efforts to address these challenges seem to be lacking urgency.”

Chart of the Day

Meme of the Day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *