Many Workers Happily Accept Lower Pay if They Can Work Remotely

(p. A15) The U.S. inflation rate tumbled from June 2022 to June 2023. It was no slide down the Phillips curve of the sort that textbooks attribute to tighter monetary policy. Instead, inflation fell 6 percentage points as unemployment stayed low. It is thus a mistake to credit this episode to the Federal Reserve’s departure from low interest rates.

. . .

Employees initially reaped the benefits of remote work, because their wages reflected pre-pandemic conditions and expectations. Over time, pay adjusted and employers adapted, eventually allowing them to benefit from slower wage growth.

My research quantifies this source of wage-growth moderation. Along with the Atlanta Fed, our team asked hundreds of business executives whether remote work affected their firms’ wages. Thirty-eight percent told us their companies had relied on the work-from-home boom to moderate wage-growth pressures in the previous 12 months. Forty-one percent said their firms planned to use remote work to restrain wage growth in the next 12 months. We found that the boom reduced overall wage growth by 2 percentage points from spring 2021 to spring 2023. In all likelihood, the effects extended beyond this interval, because pay adjusts slowly.

Remote work cuts costs in other ways, too. When employees work on site only two days a week, their companies need less space.

For the full commentary see:

Steven J. Davis. “Working at Home Helped Whip Inflation.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, June 20, 2024): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 19, 2024, and has the same title as the print version.)

Davis’s research mentioned above is:

Barrero, Jose Maria, Nicholas Bloom, Steven J. Davis, Brent H. Meyer, and Emil Mihaylov. “The Shift to Remote Work Lessens Wage-Growth Pressures.” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper # 30197, July 2022.

“Extended School Closures Did Not Significantly Stop the Spread of Covid, While the Academic Harms for Children Have Been Large and Long-Lasting”

(p. A13) Four years ago this month, schools nationwide began to shut down, igniting one of the most polarizing and partisan debates of the pandemic.

Some schools, often in Republican-led states and rural areas, reopened by fall 2020. Others, typically in large cities and states led by Democrats, would not fully reopen for another year.

A variety of data — about children’s academic outcomes and about the spread of Covid-19 — has accumulated in the time since. Today, there is broad acknowledgment among many public health and education experts that extended school closures did not significantly stop the spread of Covid, while the academic harms for children have been large and long-lasting.

For the full story see:

Sarah Mervosh, Claire Cain Miller and Francesca Paris. “Pandemic School Closures Came at a Steep Cost to Students, Data Shows.” The New York Times (Friday, March 29, 2024): A13.

(Note: the online version of the story was updated March 19, 2024, and has the title “What the Data Says About Pandemic School Closures, Four Years Later.”)

The Cholera and Bubonic Plague Vaccination Campaigns of Waldemar Haffkine Count as Evidence of “the Benevolence of British Medical Imperialism”

(p. C7) “In the end, all history is natural history,” writes Simon Schama in “Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations.” The author, a wide-ranging historian and an engaging television host, reconciles the weight of medical detail with the light-footed pleasures of narrative discovery. His book profiles some of the unsung miracle workers of modern vaccination, and offers a subtle rumination on borders political and biological.

. . .

Inoculation, Mr. Schama writes, became a “serious big business” in commercial England, despite the inoculators’ inability to understand how (p. C8) it worked, and despite Tory suspicions that the procedure meant “new-fangled,” possibly Jewish, interference in the divine plan. In 1764, the Italian medical professor Angelo Gatti published an impassioned defense of inoculation that demolished humoral theory. Mr. Schama calls Gatti an “unsung visionary of the Enlightenment.” His work was a boon to public health, though his findings met resistance in France, where the prerevolutionary medical establishment was more concerned with protecting its authority.

. . .

(p. C8) Mr. Schama alights on the story of Waldemar Haffkine, the Odessa-born Jew who created vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague. In 1892, Haffkine inoculated himself against cholera with the vaccine he had developed at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. He went on to inoculate thousands of Indians, and so effectively that his campaigns served as, in Mr. Schama’s words, “an advertisement for the benevolence of British medical imperialism.”

. . .

The author notes the contrast between the facts of Haffkine’s achievements and the response of the British establishment, with its modern echoes of the medieval fantasy that Jews were “demonic instigators of mass death.” Yet Mr. Schama’s skepticism of authority only extends so far. It would have been instructive to learn why, when Covid-19 appeared, the WHO concurred with Voltaire that the Chinese were “the wisest and best governed people in the world” and advised liberal democracies to emulate China’s lockdowns.

Haffkine’s colleague Ernest Hanbury Hankin once wrote an essay called “The Mental Limitations of the Expert.” Mr. Schama’s conclusion shows the limitations of our expert class, which appears not to understand the breach of public trust caused by the politicization of Covid policy and the suppression of public debate. You do not have to be “far right” to distrust mandatory mRNA vaccination. As Mr. Schama shows, the health of the body politic depends on scientific inquiry.

For the full review, see:

Dominic Green. “Protecting the Body Politic.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023): C7-C8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date September 22, 2023, and has the title “‘Foreign Bodies’ Review: Migrant Microbes, Human Borders.”)

The book under review is:

Schama, Simon. Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines, and the Health of Nations. New York: Ecco Press, 2023.

Fauci’s Office Rejected Protocol for a Voluntary COVID Human Challenge Trial That Could Have Tested Therapies and Vaccines Faster

(p. 2) . . . the first Covid-19 human challenge study [was] just completed in Britain, where young, healthy and unvaccinated volunteers were infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid while researchers carefully monitored how their bodies responded.

. . ., there were those who decried deliberately infecting or “challenging” healthy volunteers with disease-causing pathogens. It violates the medical principle of “do no harm.” The trade-off is a unique opportunity to discover the causes, transmission and progression of an illness, as well as the ability to more rapidly test the effectiveness of proposed treatments.

. . .

Dr. [Matthew] Memoli [the director of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] has conducted numerous influenza challenge studies, and he prepared a protocol for a Covid challenge trial that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases rejected last year because it was felt that not enough was known about the virus and that there were no effective rescue therapies, according to a statement from the office of the director, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The consortium formed to run Britain’s Covid challenge trial, which included scientists who trained at the Common Cold Unit, had access to the British National Health Service’s robust, real-time data on Covid hospitalizations and deaths. The researchers designing the study said they felt confident that there was little risk to the healthy unvaccinated 18-to-30-year-old volunteers they recruited for the trial. There were no severe adverse events in the 36 people who participated, and they will continue to be monitored over the next year.

The aim of the study was to identify the lowest amount of virus to safely and reliably infect someone, so researchers can later easily test the efficacy of vaccines or antivirals on future challenge trial volunteers.

. . .

Dr. Fauci’s office said the institute has no plans to fund Covid-19 human challenge trials in the future. Many bioethicists support that decision. “We don’t ask people to sacrifice themselves for the good of society,” said Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. “In the U.S., we are very much about protecting individual rights and individual life and health and liberty, while in more communal societies it’s about the greater good.”

But Josh Morrison, a co-founder of 1Day Sooner, which advocates on behalf of more than 40,000 would-be human challenge volunteers, argues it should be his and other people’s right to take risks for the greater good. “Most people aren’t going to want to be in a Covid challenge study, and that’s totally fine, but they shouldn’t project their own choices on other people,” he said.

. . .

As one participant in Britain’s Covid human challenge trial put it: “You know the phrase ‘one interesting fact about yourself’ that strikes terror into everyone? That’s now solved forever. I did something that made a difference.”

For the full commentary, see:

Kate Murphy. “Are Human Challenge Trials Ethical?” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sunday, October 17, 2021 [sic]): 2.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed words, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 14, 2021 [sic], and has the title “Britain Infected Volunteers With the Coronavirus. Why Won’t the U.S.?”)

Risk of Bat Disease Spillover to Humans Is Small and Decreasing

(p. A15) The World Health Assembly in May is poised to divert $10.5 billion of aid away from tackling diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Instead, that money will go toward combating the threat of viruses newly caught from wildlife. The assumption behind this initiative, endorsed by the Group of 20 summit in Bali in 2022, is that the threat of pandemics from spillovers of animal viruses is dramatically increasing.

That assumption is almost certainly false. A new report from the University of Leeds, prepared in part by former World Health Organization executives, finds that the claims made by the G-20 in support of this agenda either are unsupported by evidence, contradict their own cited sources, or fail to correct for improved detection of pathogens. Over the past decade the burden and risk of spillover has been relatively small and probably decreasing. The Leeds authors conclude: “The implication is that the largest investment in international public health in history is based on misinterpretations of key evidence as well as a failure to thoroughly analyze existing data.”

. . .

It is a misconception that population growth or prosperity leads humanity to encroach on wildlife habitats. The poorest people in Africa encroach on forest wildlife by hunting for bush meat; when they grow richer, they shop for chicken or pork instead. Humans visited bat caves more frequently in the distant past.

. . .

The prospect of spending $31 billion a year on pandemic prevention, a third of which would be new money and a third diverted from other programs, provides an incentive for international bureaucrats to ignore or misrepresent evidence that the problem is small.

But a dollar spent on spillover can’t be spent on something else, and the evidence is clear that sanitation, nutrition and vitamins are more cost-effective ways to save lives in poor countries—from infectious diseases as well as other causes.

For the full commentary, see:

Matt Ridley. “Why Scientists Love Chasing Bats.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, March 7, 2024): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 6, 2024, and has the same title as the print version.)

The University of Leeds report mentioned above is:

Bell, David, Garrett Brown, Blagovesta Tacheva, and Jean von Agris. “Rational Policy over Panic: Re-Evaluating Pandemic Risk within the Global Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Agenda.” REPPARE Report. University of Leeds, UK, Feb. 2024, URL:

If Your Disease Has No “F.D.A.-Stamped” Cure, Try Rational Experiments Rather Than Give Up

(p. 9) My whole family was sick in March with Covid-like symptoms, and though the one test we obtained was negative, I’m pretty sure we had the thing itself — and my own symptoms took months rather than weeks to disappear.

But unlike many of the afflicted, I didn’t find the experience particularly shocking, because I have a prior long-haul experience of my own. In the spring of 2015, I was bitten by a deer tick, and the effects of the subsequent illness — a combination of Lyme disease and a more obscure tick-borne infection, Bartonella — have been with me ever since.

Lyme disease in its chronic form — or, per official medical parlance, “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome” — is a fiendishly complicated and controversial subject, and what I learned from the experience would (and will, at some point) fill a book.

. . .

If you feel like you need something else to get better, some outside intervention, something more than just your own beleaguered body’s resources, be impatient — and find a way to go in search of it.

. . .


There is no treatment yet for “long haul” Covid that meets the standard of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which means that the F.D.A.-stamped medical consensus can’t be your only guide if you’re trying to break a systemic, debilitating curse. The realm beyond that consensus has, yes, plenty of quacks, perils and overpriced placebos. But it also includes treatments that may help you — starting with the most basic herbs and vitamins, and expanding into things that, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have ever imagined myself trying before I become ill myself.

So please don’t drink bleach, or believe everything you read on But if you find yourself decanting Chinese tinctures, or lying on a chiropractor’s table with magnets placed strategically around your body, or listening to an “Anti-Coronavirus Frequency” on Spotify, and you think, how did I end up here?, know that you aren’t alone, and you aren’t being irrational. The irrational thing is to be sick, to have no official treatment available, and to fear the outré or strange more than you fear the permanence of your disease.

. . .

. . . I believe that with enough time and experimentation, I will actually be well.

That belief is essential. Hold on to it. In the long haul, it may see you through.

For the full commentary, see:

Ross Douthat. “What to Do When Covid Doesn’t Go Away.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sunday, August 9, 2020 [sic]): 9.

(Note: ellipses and bracketed year added. A few words in the original are italicized, but you cannot see that since my blog formatting has all quoted words italicized.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Aug. 8, 2020 [sic], and has the title “China Wants to Move Ahead, but Xi Jinping Is Looking to the Past.” The heading EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT was in bold in both the online and print versions. In the print version it was all in caps. In the online version only the first letter of each word was capitalized.)

Douthat’s The Deep Places book can be viewed as a substantial elaboration of the commentary quoted above:

Douthat, Ross. The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery. New York: Convergent Books, 2021.

All Conclusions in Science Are Open to Further Inquiry

(p. C3) Victory is often temporary. In December 2014, a nurse named Nina Pham contracted Ebola from a patient in Dallas. She was transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and treated by a team led by Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

When Ms. Pham was discharged, the cameras captured an indelible moment: Together with NIH Director Francis Collins, Dr. Fauci, dressed in a crisp white lab coat, walked her out with his arm draped over her shoulder. This conveyed a critical message at a time when public fear about the disease was widespread. “We would not be releasing Ms. Pham if we were not completely confident in the knowledge that she has fully recovered, is virus free and poses no public health threat,” an NIH statement read.

But scientific certainty often carries an asterisk. Six months later, doctors in Atlanta discovered that in some patients who survive, the Ebola virus could still be found hidden away in parts of the body. This did not indicate that they could transmit the disease, but it meant that they could no longer be declared “virus-free” with certainty. This episode demonstrated how quickly our knowledge about public health threats can alter. What we once thought was true for the Ebola virus had changed, and no doubt will continue to evolve.

For the full commentary, see:

Jeremy Brown. “What Past Crises Tell Us About the Coronavirus.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 [sic]): C3.

(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated Jan. 31, 2020 [sic], and has the same title as the print version. In both the online and print versions, the first sentence quoted above is in bold font.)

In Managing Workers Firms Should “Experiment with New Forms of Freedom”

(p. C1) In a classic 1958 lecture, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin distinguished between two types of freedom. Negative liberty is freedom from obstacles and interference by others. Positive liberty is freedom to control your own destiny and shape your own life. If we want to maximize net freedom in the future of work, we need to expand both positive and negative liberty.

The debate about whether work should be in-person, remote-first or hybrid is too narrow. Yes, people want the freedom to decide where they work. But they also want the freedom to decide who they work with, what they work on and when they work. Real flexibility is having autonomy to choose your people, your purpose and your priorities.

. . .

(p. C2) We need boundaries to protect individual focus time too.

. . .

One effective strategy seems to be blocking quiet time in the mornings as a window for deep work, and then coming together after lunch. When virtual meetings are held in the afternoon, people are less likely to multitask—probably in part because they’ve been able to make progress on their own tasks.

. . .

Flexible work is here to stay, but companies that resist it may not be. One of the biggest mistakes I saw companies make before Covid was failing to experiment with new forms of freedom.

For the full commentary, see:

Adam Grant. “The Real Meaning of Freedom at Work.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 [sic]): C1-C2.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated October 8, 2021 [sic], and has the same title as the print version.)

Covid Mandates and Firms Restricting Employee Speech Led Democrat to Invest in Tucker Carlson Media Venture

(p. A18) Five years ago, Omeed Malik was a self-described “run-of-the-mill corporate Democrat,” with a seat on the Council on Foreign Relations, a summer house in the Hamptons, and stints at Bank of America and white-shoe law firm Weil, Gotshal under his belt.

Then Covid happened. Chafing under government mandates he found illogical and corporate limits on speech that felt to him like censorship, he moved from Manhattan to Florida and began hanging out with Republican donors. He discovered a business opportunity in a so-called parallel economy of conservative-friendly companies.

Now, he is one of their financiers. Malik this year launched 1789 Capital, which aims to capitalize on the opportunities that it sees left open by the “wokeness” of more traditional sources of capital.

Its first fund, with a modest $150 million, made its initial investment Monday [Oct. 16, 2023], leading a $15 million seed round with other private investors into Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel’s new media company.

For the full story, see:

Keach Hagey. “1789 Invests in Carlson’s Media Firm.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023): B1-B2.

(Note: bracketed date added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date October 17, 2023, and has the title “Tucker Carlson’s Media Company Secures Investment Led by ‘Anti-Woke’ Firm.”)

Rich Chinese “Moved Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Out of” China in 2023

(p. B1) Affluent Chinese have moved hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country this year [2023], seizing on the end of Covid precautions that had almost completely sealed China’s borders for nearly three years.

They are using their savings to buy overseas apartments, stocks and insurance policies. Able to fly again to Tokyo, London and New York, Chinese travelers have bought apartments in Japan and poured money into accounts in the United States or Europe that pay higher interest than in China, where rates are low and falling.

The outbound shift of money in part indicates unease inside China about the sputtering recovery after the pandemic as well as deeper problems, like an alarming slowdown in real estate, the main storehouse of wealth for families. For some people, it is also a reaction to fears about the direction of the economy under China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has cracked down on business and strengthened the government’s hand in many aspects of society.

In some cases, Chinese are improvising to get around China’s strict government controls on transferring money overseas. They have bought gold bars small enough to be scattered unobtrusively through carry-on luggage, as well as large stacks of foreign currency.

Real estate is an option, too. Chinese have emerged as the main buyers of Tokyo apartments costing $3 million or more, and they often pay with suitcases of cash, said Zhao Jie, the chief executive of Shenjumiaosuan, an online real estate listing service in Tokyo. “It’s really hard work to count this kind of cash.”

Before the pandemic, he said, (p. B5) Chinese buyers typically bought Tokyo studio apartments for $330,000 or less to rent out. Now they are buying much larger units and obtaining investment visas to relocate their families.

All told, an estimated $50 billion a month has been taken out of China this year, mainly by Chinese households and private-sector companies.

For the full story, see:

Keith Bradsher and Joy Dong. “Suitcases of Cash: How China’s Money Flows Out.” The New York Times (Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023): B1 & B5.

(Note: bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “Gold Bars and Tokyo Apartments: How Money Is Flowing Out of China.”)

Independent Bookstores Shun Wuhan Book by Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

I am generally not as skeptical of the safety and efficacy of vaccines as is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. But I strongly believe in the right to free speech. And I believe that truth in general, and truth in science in particular, advance fastest when we defend free speech and open discussion.

(p. B3) Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a member of the most famous political family in the U.S. and a bestselling author. But it may be hard to find his newest book at the local bookstore when it comes out next week [on Dec. 5, 2023].

Some booksellers have decided not to stock Kennedy’s latest, “The Wuhan Cover-Up and the Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race,” citing concerns about the author’s past positions.

. . .

Kennedy expressed disappointment that independent bookstores may not be stocking his new book. “Independent bookstores are the traditional bulwarks against corporate propaganda and government censorship,” he said.

Kennedy, the nephew of the late president John F. Kennedy and son of the late attorney general and senator Robert F. Kennedy, has become a vocal critic of U.S. government agencies, in particular their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

. . .

In an interview, Kennedy, 69 years old, said he thinks “The Wuhan Cover-Up” will appeal to anybody interested in learning more about the origins of Covid-19 as well as foreign-policy issues.

. . .

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Energy Department have said that a “laboratory-related incident” was most likely responsible for the pandemic, while other agencies believe natural infection was the cause.

For the full story, see:

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Eliza Collins. “Small Bookstores Shun RFK Jr.’s Coming Book.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023): B3.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 28, 2023, and has the title “Small Bookstores Shun Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Upcoming Book.”)

The book shunned by many independent bookstores is:

Kennedy, Robert F. , Jr. The Wuhan Cover-Up: And the Terrifying Bioweapons Arms Race. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2023.