Sunday Reading

Long (7000 words): “We’re getting wildly differing assessments” by Tom Goldstein on SCOTUSblog. A tale of the nine minutes between the SCOTUS release of the opinion on the Affordable Care Act and CNN reversing their original report that the individual mandate was overturned. Some choice selections:

Into his conference call, the CNN producer says (correctly) that the Court has held that the individual mandate cannot be sustained under the Commerce Clause, and (incorrectly) that it therefore “looks like” the mandate has been struck down.  The control room asks whether they can “go with” it, and after a pause, he says yes.

The Fox producer reads the syllabus exactly the same way, and reports that the mandate has been invalidated.  Asked to confirm that the mandate has been struck down, he responds: “100%.”

[…] We [SCOTUSblog] are going to take this slow, so we don’t make a mistake. The day before, I told our team that I did not want us to get it wrong if “the opinion does something really weird, with one paragraph saying that the government loses under the Commerce Clause, but then” upholds it on another ground.  The morning of the decision, Mark Sherman of the Associated Press (justifiably) teased me about a Washington Post article in which I had (stupidly) said that I expected us to be faster than AP.  I told him: “We’re not racing you”; in a decision this long and complicated, “no one will remember if you move this story first or we do,” but the “only thing anyone will ever remember is if we f*** it up.”

Short (383 words): “Who Needs Posner When You Have Mises and Hayek?” by Josh Barro on Bloomberg. I can think of no other written piece in recent memory that encapsulates as many appropriate critiques of Austrian thinking in so few sentences. Some choice statements:

I have four copies of The Road to Serfdom, which is like Dianetics for libertarians.

It’s philosophy dressed up as economics; with the Austrians, there is never any risk that real-world events will interfere with your ideology.

But if you have Mises at your side, you “know” that empirical findings have no bearing on what policy should be. Leaning on Austrian thinkers is a great way to avoid further thinking.

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