December 31, 2020 Reading Time: 6 minutes

This year, the American Institute for Economic Research published 1,380 articles with 10.5 million readers from all countries in the world. Each article has a reason for being here: it helps illuminate the world around us in light of the primary concern for functioning markets and the free society. To choose the best among them is impossible. In making these selections, I found myself overwhelmed with the intelligence, creativity, and robustness of all this content. It’s a thrilling thing to edit this site and work with such earnest and brilliant writers, every one of whom deserves celebration. 

Still, let us begin! 

10. Washington Motto: Spend During Good Times and Spend Even More During Bad Times, by Veronique de Rugy. Veronique is simply unstoppable, a one-person judge and jury of government profligacy. Her work is always well- documented, timely, and exuding of a deep passion for truth – and a belief that revealing that truth can make a difference. The reader always senses it, whether she is writing about the Ex-Im Bank, trade policy, the latest legislative monstrosity from Capitol Hill, or some regulatory madness. Her prose is fire and ice at the same time. 

9. My Covid Cri de Cœur, by Donald Boudreaux. People compare Don’s work to Frederic Bastiat for its clarity, logic, and deep desire to bring economics to every person. As with Bastiat, he finds the topic of international trade to be rich with opportunities to explain economic principles. He has had huge opportunities for expositions on this topic for these years. He clearly loves his discipline and causes his readers to experience the same. This year, too, he refused to sit out the Covid debate under the excuse that this is a topic for public health, not economics. Nonsense: the policy response directly impacted all our economic lives. The above article is only one of many he wrote in response.

8. The New Totalitarians, by Richard Ebeling. Richard prefers longer-form essays simply because he has so much to say. Steeped in the history of ideas, with encyclopedic knowledge of liberalism and economic theory, reading Richard is like taking a class from a great professor. He is just a solid teacher, and I adore too how his passion for the free society is both relentless and infectious, even in times when he was too often a lone voice among his colleagues. The above piece tipped me off that we are not just dealing with a marginal error here; we are battling a new totalitarian ideology. 

7. How the Federal Reserve Literally Makes Money, by William Luther. Will plays an important but mostly behind-the-scenes role as the editor and organizer of the Sound Money Project of AIER, an intelligent cabal of top thinkers who rally around free banking and hard money instead of the central planning via the Fed that causes so much distortion in today’s world. His managerial expertise is the reason why AIER has the best material available on the topic of money and banking, including commentary on financial markets in light of monetary madness. AIER was founded to defend the gold standard against those who sought to dismantle it. After 88 years, the tradition not only lives but thrives. 

6. Herbert Spencer’s Critique of the Board of Health in 1851, by Phillip W. Magness. Magness’s contributions to the world of ideas this year are by now legion. It’s stunning just how much he has accomplished. For example, this article is an important contribution to revising the history of the discipline of epidemiology: it was formed to bring scientific understanding to the highly politicized world of public health in the 19th century. He also shows that a leading liberal thinker of the 19th century had strong views against politicizing health, predicting that it would not only not work but actually end up doing more harm to society. A top health scientist read the above-linked piece and said that itthis piece was pure gold, revealing what even most health-science historians had not known. 

5. What Sweden Has Done Right on Coronavirus, by Joakim Book. Joakim researches and writes like a great detective solving a crime. He sees a problem, smells a rat, and uses all his mighty empirical and analytical skills to get to the bottom of it, and reveal it all to the reader. He not only did this early on with regard to Sweden, which mostly eschewed lockdowns. He has been all over fires in Amazon, data disasters in public health, methodological issues in business cycle research, and so much more. From this editor’s point of view, seeing another entry in the Submissions channel from Joakim is always a cause for celebration. 

4. The Effect of the Coronavirus on Financial Markets, by Peter C. Earle. Prolific doesn’t quite capture Pete’s productivity this year. He has edited four full collections on the topic of the virus in addition to offering insightful commentary on financial trends throughout this chaotic year. He has a theoretical mind but is deeply attached to the data and patterns therein. He is also a regular commentator in all the financial press, providing objective but insightful insight, which is why reporters call him again and again. He embodies so much about the spirit of AIER: principled, even radical, but always grounded in the facts and market realities. 

3. The 1619 Project: An Epitaph, by Phillip W. Magness. Yes, Magness again. It was not enough that he blew up the virus models earlier this year. Not enough that he writes mind-blowing work on the secret ideology of John Maynard Keynes. It so happens that he caused the New York Times to have to make huge corrections to its own 1619 Project. The Pulitzer Prize won by this series now hangs in the balance due largely to his work. Oh, also he has been the bane of lockdowners all year, exposing their shabby research and methods. Tour de force! 

2. How a Free Society Deals with Pandemics, According to Legendary Epidemiologist and Smallpox Eradicator Donald Henderson, by Edward Stringham. Edward’s scholarship has always revealed his passion for detailed documentation, not only to make a larger theoretical point but to provide the reader ample resources for learning and further research. Dozens of times this year, he has gifted AIER detailed annotations of crucial documents from important thinkers. This Henderson piece here is one of the highest performing pieces, and for good reason: the leading epidemiologist of the 20th century issued in 2006 a grave warning against lockdowns, quarantines, and closures. This document, introduced and explained by Edward, is the light. 

1. AIER Hosts Top Epidemiologists, Authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. This announcement appeared on October 5. It revealed the existence of a document conceived and signed at our offices: the Great Barrington Declaration. Yes, it shifted the debate. Yes, it is a hugely important part of the history of our times. AIER has never hid its role in its existence, but never doubted it: the Declaration is a product of the moral courage of three scientists who could not stay silent in the face of calamity. They stepped forward, received the slings and arrows of the press, and inspired tens of thousands of others to speak out too. The Declaration now has 750,000 signatures. It has been viewed 12 million times. It hasn’t won the debate but when this debate is won, this document will rightly be credited as the turning point. 

In addition to the above, we also list below in reverse order the most popular articles of the year. 

Readers Choice 

10. The Year of Disguises. A scientist explains the relationship reality between viruses and masks. 

9. Why this Draconian Response to Covid-19?. A piece from January 28 warning against lockdowns. 

8. Asymptomatic Spread Revisited. The most implausible claim of 2020, among many, debunked. 

7. The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea. The history behind the inhumane idea of forced human separation. 

6. South Korea Preserved the Open Society, and Its Infection Rates are Falling. South Korea figured it out without locking down. 

5. Open Up Society Now, Say Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi. Two brave doctors dissented early on. 

4. What Sweden Has Done Right on Coronavirus. At least one Western country followed traditional public health measures. 

3. Open Letter from Medical Doctors and Health Professionals to All Belgian Authorities and All Belgian Media. These doctors did their level best to stop the calamity. 

2. We Were Wrong:, So Sorry that We Ruined Your Life. Early on, Cuomo himself doubted the merits of lockdown destruction of city life. 

1. Woodstock Occured in the Middle of a Pandemic. Endlessly fact-checked and attacked, it still holds true. They were smart and brave. 

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research from 2017 to 2021.

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