Assorted links

by on January 6, 2011 at 10:13 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. A reply of sorts.

2. Short bio of Gene Sterling.

3. Annie Proulx take-down.

4. What Ezra blames libertarians for.

5. Real world secession, recession.

6. Health care round-up, by Avik Roy.

7. Taxing witches in Romania.

NC January 6, 2011 at 6:29 am

The "Exodus Recession" reveals an incredible lack of knowledge about macroeconomic models. I mean, not only he thinks the best tools macroeconomist have are "Keynesian and Monetarist models" but he fails to realise that even the oversimplified Solow model can explain quite nicely why Japan and Germany grew at a fast rate after WWII.

Also, the reason 0% growth is bad is because in a world of almost continuous innovation (where regression is extremely, extremely rare) not growing means that inputs are being less used, so employment must be falling or capital being destroyed (usually the first). It has little to do with coordination, it was already a question of simple arithmetic. Coordination can, indeed, compound the problem but it's ridiculous to think a -1% growth is all in our mind and there's no real reason for actual unemployment to increase.

Seriously, this is basic, basic stuff.

Jason Brennan January 6, 2011 at 6:34 am

People like Ezra Klein, rather than libertarians, are the unwitting handmaidens of corporativism. Left-leaning self-described progressives advocate extensive government power over the economy, and they have enough clout to help achieve this power. This power then gets used for the ends of rent-seeking corporations and special interests rather than the ends Klein endorses, but, nevertheless, Klein and others helped put that power there. If I were a corporation or special interest group looking to exploit the American public through government action, I'd be excited and delighted every time Klein writes a column, but indifferent or bothered when Will Wilkinson speaks. Despite his best intentions, Klein would help me get my way.

RR January 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

1. In the fine print : "Financial support for this reply was provided by ….'! More than brilliant!

Andrew January 6, 2011 at 6:54 am

And Phil Gramm?

Ezra obviously didn't ask me who is or isn't part of the movement.

It's not even about identities, which may be it's own criticism, but here's a taste.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/21

Andrew January 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

Bill Clinton, the damned libertarian that he is, signed Phil Gramm's repeal of Glass Steagall.

Cigars are the fault of libertarians.

Dan of the Fjord January 6, 2011 at 7:21 am

Libertarianism has been tried, and its a resounding success. Its called the internet. Now the actual origin of the internet is not what I mean. What I mean is the tremendous amounts of voluntary commerce, interaction and idea exchange that goes on very minute of everyday.

Second, libertarian ideas have been implemented for many segments of society throughout history. Freedom of contract in the 18th-19th centuries. Sexual freedoms in the 20th-21st centuries. Drug use in Portugal and Amsterdam.

The goal is to combine all of these successful institutional structures together at once.

Ignacio January 6, 2011 at 7:36 am

If you like good replies, please check out this one (a reply from the Cleveland Browns to a complaint from a fan):

http://deadspin.com/5716038/the-greatest-letter-e

Colin January 6, 2011 at 7:51 am

So according to Ezra Klein, libertarians — who frown on regulation — are responsible for the ills of health care and finance, two of the most regulated sectors in the economy. The mind boggles.

Why does anyone pay attention to him again?

mark January 6, 2011 at 8:29 am

3. I'm glad someone else feels that way. I struggled through the excerpt in Harper's and got nothing from it. She's becoming a caricature, SNL picasso writing stream-of-conscious from staring out a window and thinking it's art.

Paul Johnson January 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

Repeal of Glass–Steagall was bipartisan, was it not? Members of Congress and their staffs were hopelessly out of their depth. Both parties were bought and bamboozled by Wall Street bankers.

prognostication January 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

Klein can't help but garble a valid point. I think a better argument is that Republicans rely on strategy of sabotaging regulations to "prove" that regulation doesn't work. Admittedly, they often have carried out with centrist Democratic complicity. It's basically the fundamental problem with American government: one party believes that government can't do anything right, and sets out to regulate in a way that proves it. Not sure there's anything libertarian about that, though.

randomizer January 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

good grief, Klein gets more ridiculous, sounds more uninformed, and shrill, and foolish, each time he tries.

Which is saying a lot.

Sigivald January 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

re. Klein: What has come to pass is an aggressive and successful effort to stop America from following other countries' paths to national health-care systems.

Blame, credit, same thing, right?

Though the idea that it's "libertarians" who caused the backlash against ObamaCare is facially untenable.

Was Ezra Klein ever not a complete hack? I've never paid enough attention to notice, but it's always been more-or-less my impression.

albatross January 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I think EK misses the real problem with libertarianism as it's used in American politics:

Libertarians provide arguments that go in a certain direction–deregulation, less government, eliminating subsidies, lower taxes, balanced budgets, less centralized power, etc. And there are many people who make those arguments consistently and well.

But that's not how they're used. When powerful, well-connected interests want to move things in a libertarian direction in a particular area, say to get rid of some troublesome regulation or tariff, they invoke libertarian arguments, and we cheer, because hey, we're finally being heard. And so we get libertarian arguments (among others) for not regulating some area of finance. We get to hear someone from Cato or Reason on the talking-heads shows this Sunday.

But when powerful, well-connected interests want tariffs, subsidies, tax breaks, incentives, public-private partnerships, deposit insurance, liability caps, regulations to form a barrier to entry in their field, etc., libertarian arguments are simply ignored. This week, we hear from some different set of ideologues, shills, spokesmen, out-of-work politicians, and journalists spewing a different set of talking points.

There's a real intellectual movement here, which I think has some valuable things to say. But it's used as a tool to accomplish stuff the powerful want accomplished, and discarded when it goes against those same interests.

To January 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

The reason this is not equivalent is that I can't think of any group of rulers who actually took control of a country under the auspices of a libertarian revolution.

It's called America. Much more obvious from the outside, I'll admit.

Dana January 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I suppose if this were a fiction writing contest, To might have won the thread.

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