I’m sorry you had to sufffer through reading this piece, Nate. Unfortunately family commitments this weekend prevent me from doing a full or even partial take-down of this awful piece by Deangelis.
One of the first keys is realizing this piece is sponsored, commissioned, and published by Cato Institute. Cato is a self-avowed “libertarian” think tank, which by itself means the conclusions of the article were decided first and the data analysis, rationale, and arguments tailored to reach that conclusion. Since at least 2012, Cato is effectively a branch of the Koch brothers far-right, anti-government money octopus – along with Mercatus Center.
Reading anything from Cato with the idea that you’ll get current or high-quality economics & social science thinking is like asking Philip Morris Co. for the latest cancer research, or asking Exxon for the latest on climate change, or Facebook & Co for privacy analysis. Not likely.
Deangelis arguments are self-contradictory even within his intro. On stuff like externalities and definitions/classifications of types of goods (non-rivalous, merit, etc) he totally ignores pretty much all the thinking & research of the last 60 yrs. I mean, Samuelson 1954? Really? Might as well cite genetics research from before discovery of structure of DNA.
Wish I had time to rip it apart further, but alas I can’t.