Exploring the Borderlands of Legal Whiteness
Prof. David Bernstein takes us through the history of racial classification + Milton Friedman explains inflation
It’s Friday, meaning time for another weekly roundup of all things libertarian—and what a week it has been.
Let’s start with the strange:
Just when you thought President Biden couldn’t be “outgaffed,” First Lady Jill Biden has risen to the occasion with her poorly-phrased remarks… comparing Hispanics to breakfast tacos.
My guest this Sunday – George Mason University Law School Professor David Bernstein – has a new book coming out that tangentially relates to her gaffe, noting that the Hispanic “community” (insofar as that phrase has any meaning at all) is a notoriously slippery classification, given the diversity of racial and cultural heritages it includes. This prompts the question of why we should be attempting to lump Americans into large group identities in the first place based on race or any other immutable characteristic.
Read on to find out how to listen live or hear the podcast with David about his new book, but first, let’s check in on some economic headlines.
Essential Liberty reviews current events from a libertarian perspective, offering a historical perspective and in-depth analysis.
Inflation Tracker 📈
Eric Boehm of Reason notes that interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve haven’t stopped the gas prices, grocery prices, and rent from rising, with average inflation reaching 9.1% in June.
Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek found this classic 13-minute Milton Friedman clip explaining inflation through the lens of a western ghost town, which saw a boom and bust fueled by a sudden influx in the currency of the day: gold and gold-backed notes.
Today, it doesn’t take a Gold Rush to inflate the money supply – the government can print money through the Treasury and monetize debt through the Federal Reserve, and that’s exactly what the last several administrations have done. Biden, however, has taken spending to new heights – all while denying that he is doing so.
Elsewhere, Boehm reveals the not-so-subtle sleight of hand the President used to claim that he has actually reduced future deficits, even as spending has skyrocketed from historical levels:
What Biden is trying to do is take credit for expiring emergency spending measures. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government ran an unprecedented $3.1 trillion deficit in 2020, which fell to a still-stratospheric $2.7 trillion deficit in 2021.
A trillion here, a trillion there – pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
You can learn more about Friedman’s philosophy of money and inflation from Peter Ireland’s recent AIER article, Monetarism Remains a Useful Guide on Inflation.
Speaking of the American Institute of Economic Research, this week they report that their “Leading Indicators Index” has fallen to its lowest level since August of 2020. Consumer confidence is down, along with retail and home sales. Inflation fears are on the rise.
Fortunately, we’re still a long way from being Venezuela, where refugees continue to flee the economic devastation wrought by socialism. Reason reports on a mixed development with respect to the United States’ policy.
Since March 2021, 500,000 Venezuelans have left the country, raising the total number of Venezuelan refugees to six million. Over 150,000 of these refugees have arrived in the U.S. in the last 15 months alone.
The Department of Homeland Security has extended legal protections for refugees who arrived before March of 2021, but not those who arrived after. This failure to extend a helping hand to the victims of totalitarianism abroad poses a perfect opportunity for Republicans to work across the aisle and support a pro-immigration policy that appeals to the “Hispanic voters” they have alienated for so long.
Yesterday I released the first installment of a new series taking on populist arguments against immigration that have come up on my show over the years.*
Read it here and subscribe for future installments:
Upcoming Show 📻 (Sunday, 7/17, 8am PACIFIC)
You’ve heard of legally blind, and even legally blonde, but what about legally white?
GMU Law Professor and Volokh Conspiracy blogger David Bernstein explores “the borderlands of legal whiteness” in his new book, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America.
Fellow conspiracist and Prof. Randy Barnett has already included it in the syllabus for his upcoming Georgetown Law seminar, Recent Books on the Constitution.
Bernstein joins me this Sunday (7/17) – two days ahead of the book’s publication – to discuss the many contradictions involved in the government’s attempt to put clear labels on complex categories.
Should Hispanics of Spanish descent be considered minorities, or European whites? Why are Asians discriminated against in college admissions – especially given the incredible range of geographies, cultures, and socio-economic statuses contained within that broad designation?
What will the Supreme Court decide in the pending suit against Harvard and the University of North Carolina brought by the “Students for Fair Admissions” group?
Having had a sneak preview of the book, I can tell you that it is a must-read for Constitutional Law buffs, and anyone interested in American legal history.
Buy the book & listen live – Sunday at 8 am PACIFIC – or subscribe to the podcast.
Eugene Volokh – lead conspiracist of the Volokh crew – alerts law students to an amazing opportunity:
Our new Journal of Free Speech Law is faculty-edited, but we'd love to have help from students with proofreading and bluebooking. (We may also need some help with cite-checking, though so far we're having faculty have their own research assistants do that.) We publish both electronically and in print, and our first articles should be out in late July.
ICYMI - The Economists’ View of the World 💵
My recent show with Steven E. Rhoads is now available as a podcast, along with a condensed summary and highlights, like this parable of the House and Senate cafeterias:
CORRECTION: The first installment of my new immigration series misquoted the lyrics of the famous Woody Guthrie song, “This Land is Your Land,” based on an automated transcription error. We sincerely apologize for the unintentional desecration of this unofficial national anthem and meant no disrespect to the late folk singer.