Assorted links

by on November 3, 2011 at 11:03 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Naples markets in everything.

2. Will Wilkinson deserves an award (I could link to him every day).

3. Karl Smith on Austro-Chinese whatchamacallit.

4. David Wessel on our structural problems, TGS, and The Race Against the Machine.

5. Terrence Malick (!) to shoot two (!) movies in one year.

6. The players want to play (NBA), as in Greece let them vote!

arne.b November 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

#6: As in Greece, call for a vote, then call it off?

NAME REDACTED November 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I said that the EU bureaucracy wouldn’t let democracy get in the way of their unification. They haven’t before and won’t start now.

Tyler Cowen November 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Exactly!

Rich Berger November 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

2. I will never understand Tyler’s view of WW. I read his blog a few times and thought he was in love with his own thoughts. Plus he’s one of a handful pushing this liberaltarian thing, which appears to have gotten no traction whatsover.

Big Earl November 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

> no traction whatsoever

Which is a shame. It’s particularly a shame for libertarianism, which is not likely to over be a majority ideology, but could meaningfully and helpfully influence policy direction in the U.S. through coalition-building. Instead libertarians seem to be pretty reliably conservative, which means pretty reliably Republican, which (from my outsider’s perspective) seems like a party that couldn’t be less friendly to libertarian interests.

In theory, that is. In reality, an awful lot of libertarians seem to care mostly about punching hippies and something something taxes.

NAME REDACTED November 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm

WOW, you really are an outsider.
Libertarians keep trying to join the democratic party (lots of libertarians voted for Obama), but then the people who they vote for end up being worse on the social issues and far worse on the economic ones.

txslr November 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I’m not seeing the hypothesized major friction between conservatives and libertarians. The social issues that conservatives care most about don’t tend to fall along a natural divide with libertarians. Abortion, for example, is not an issue on which libertarian philosophy offers a unique perspective – that is, there is nothing inconsistent about being libertarian and pro-life, as much as liberals wish there was. On gay marriage, both conservatives and libertarians are more likely to agree on a sharply diminished government role in marriage in general. The liberal position, on the other hand, would (roughly speaking) be that the state has interests in “sanctifying” marriage, and that gays must be included. Libertarians can fall on either side of the national defense debate, as can conservatives (e.g. Pat Buchanan) and liberals (e.g. Joe Lieberman). Both conservatives and libertarians are more likely to support school vouchers and the rights of parents to send their children to schools in which they can pray or not as they wish. Liberals are more bent on using the government to erase all evidence of religion from the public space.

Ambrose Bierce said that conservatives are people who are enamored of existing evils, as opposed to liberals who want to replace them with new ones. The problem for conservatives today is that everywhere one looks one sees the wreckage of failed liberalism so there is not much to conserve. This fact makes conservatives more libertarian, and makes libertarians more comfortable around conservatives.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

My thing with things like gay rights and abortion is that liberals don’t even want to discuss it. To even discuss it is to be a conservative, an unforgivable sin.

Careless November 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm

And then you’ve got the social conservative stuff libertarians don’t functionally care about because the courts won’t let the republicans pass it anyway.

Albert Ling November 3, 2011 at 12:40 pm

hey, It’s conservatives who want to punch hippies.
libertarians will have no problem partying with sex drugs and rock n roll. Patri Friedman can testify to that!

The difference between libertarians and hippies (i.e. OWS guys) is a more sophisticated and rational understanding of economic theory. I think if you get a typical hippie, expose him to the teachings of lesswrong.com and overcomingbias.com, and make him less willing to just signal his caring and actually look at empirical data, he will tend to libertarianism. It’s not THAT hard a journey.
On the other hand, the most difficult ones to be transformed by improving rationality are social conservatives because religion is such a powerful force holding their minds hostage.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I think hippies should be able to contract to be punched for money.

txslr November 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

You have a cartoonish vision of social conservatism. I imagine that asserting that they are hostages to religion relieves you of any responsiblity for considering their arguments.

The real difference between libertarians and the ideologues of the left is that progressives see interactions between individuals as essentially exploitive while libertarians believe that people’s decision actually reflect their desires. Progressives dimiss the entire notion of free exhange, holding instead that what looks like freely made decisions to the unenlightened are, in fact, manifestations of a power relation in which one party exploits another. So the 99% are exploited by the 1%, woman are exploited by men in the patriarchy, “people of color” are exploited by whites, the proletariat is exploited by the bourgeoisie, etc.

The epistemology of the progressive idealogue is strictly perceptual, non-rational and relies on “consciousness raising”. While they make claims to a scientific basis for understanding, their “science” relies on an internal coherence rather than predictive accuracy. It is not amenable to rationality, which is often explicitly identified as a tool of the exploiting class or group.

The business of the ideologue is liberation which requires wielding power. By the progressive’s own definitions liberation is impossible by leaving people alone – if the people could liberate themselves from exploitation they would have done it already, but they labor under “false consciousness” and must be led forward to liberation by a vanguard that can dismantle the entire structure of exploitation and force the exploited to see what is right in front of them.

So good luck trying to “reason” with these people.

JWatts November 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

“The real difference between libertarians and the ideologues of the left is that progressives see interactions between individuals as essentially exploitive while libertarians believe that people’s decision actually reflect their desires. ”

+1

Foobarista November 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

The ultimate problem for (modern) lefties is they reject the whole idea of objective truth. Having accepted a “contextual” notion of truth, they end up, quite rapidly, in a “might makes right” black hole. Once there, the only option is the acquisition of might, so the “right people” – namely them – are doing “right”.

Ironically, religious conservatives and libertarians are more alike than dissimilar, in that most of them accept some notion of objective truth (whether divine or “rational”). The “Old Left” does as well, which is why you are far better off arguing with a Marxist than you’ll ever be arguing with a modern leftist.

Urstoff November 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I would like to know how seriously WW takes public choice. To me, that’s the major impediment to a liberal/libertarian alliance (aside from liberals’ general cartoon views of economics); yes, social insurance may actually improve well-being across the board if implemented optimally, but the odds of an optimal implementation given the incentive structure of democracy is near zero. More likely, if the government has the power to implement social insurance schemes, then it has the power to do lots of other things that will reduce well-being overall. And this is a simple utilitarian argument, nothing based in rights or individualism.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Agree. If I’m independent, I have a thousand coin tosses to be lucky or unlucky. If I’m in a bureaucracy I have one big coin toss, brown-nosing the boss.

bxg November 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

> yes, social insurance may actually improve well-being across the board if implemented optimally, but the odds of an optimal implementation given the incentive structure of democracy is near zero

Across the board = every single person??
Optimal = the best possible??

You can’t mean that, since otherwise you would say “zero” rather than “near zero”. But I’m at a loss to interpret your comment in any other way that actually has content (whether one agrees with it or not). Please help: can you say a bit more about what you mean by these two terms, hopefully in a way that gives your comment a bit of substance?

Urstoff November 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

Clearly I mean “in the aggregate” or “on net” given my mention of utilitarianism.

josh November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

When you come down to it, TC is just as shallow and perhaps evenly more nakedly status-seeking. Both are clearly naturally quite smart, TC especially so, but really its shameful the quality of intellectual our society produces.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Occupy Academia?

Norman Pfyster November 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Because TC is also pushing liberaltarianism. The fact that WW’s post isn’t in the least bit libertarian is just a minor detail.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

To borrow from Dr. Carl Milsted, WW should run some experiments to determine if a liberaltarian synthesis is viable. I can’t find the reference, but Carl tried and concluded that it isn’t really viable. As I recall, he tried to make common ground on the drug war but incremental agreement couldn’t trump their desire for redistribution and their belief that the only relevant aspect of libertarians was they stood in their way on that point. It was a single anecdotal data point, and maybe going to a liberal demonstrations, which is what he did, isn’t the best way to try to peel off marginal agreement.

JWatts November 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm

How could you possible make a synthesis between liberalism (current variety) and libertarianism. Modern liberalism wants a rule, regulation and committee to weigh in on every aspect of life to ensure fairness of outcome. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of libertarianism.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I think the assumption is that all liberals are not like that.

Norman Pfyster November 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

It’s not every aspect…not drugs, not sex, not lifestyle. There is also the civil libertarian angle, WW is a cultural warrior, so it’s not surprising he finds the commonality between libertarianism and liberalism in cultural aspects which obviously weigh heavily in his weltanshauung. The fact that it weighs so heavy has almost completely marginalized economic liberty in his thinking, which is why he has migrated to being more liberal than libertarian. You can contrast that with the guys at Reason, who seemed fixated on the importance of smoking weed without fear of the law and seemed to have rediscovered that having the government fuck with your money sucks, too.

Andrew M November 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

#1 – Just raise the price for on-street parking, and the problem will go away. Local businesses will be glad that poorer customers don’t occupy parking spaces which could be used by wealthier customers.
Of note, Chiaia is the trendy upmarket area of Naples, with expensive cocktail bars and lounges. Wealthy gentlemen employ these parking tricks in order to be seen stepping out of an expensive car in front of pretty ladies.

KenF November 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

#1 If that’s the best Google Translate can do in translating Italian into English, I think we’re going to have a long wait for the singularity.

Careless November 5, 2011 at 1:07 pm

yep

Chris November 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm

From NBA bit:

“Only, it’s too late to decertify. Everyone wanted to do it back in July when the lockout started, and Hunter refused. His decision had nothing to do with legal strategy, nothing to do with leverage or getting the best possible deal for the players. It had everything to do with what it always does with Hunter: self-preservation. He worried about losing power, losing his job, and he sold everyone on a toothless National Labor Relations Board claim that’s going nowhere.”

So true. But you can’t just blame the leader. The membership could have said WHOAA WTF.

Tyler Fan November 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I’m a liberal, not a libertarian, but I’d rather you link to Will Wilkinson twenty times for every Matt Yglesias link. I’ve never understood your fondness for Yglesias.

Andrew' November 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm

See my comment above for why I think TC links to MY. He actually thinks. While not unique, and not necessarily even rare, it seems rare to combine that with linkability.

Slocum November 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

@2
WW: Generally he found that Democrats and liberals attributed wealth to connections or being born into a wealthy family, while Republicans and conservatives declared wealth comes from hard work.

It’s interesting that is about wealth rather than success. I live in a college town among lots of upper-middle-class lefties. Tenured profs at public ivies are by no means poor, but they aren’t millionaires (partly because with virtually iron-clad job security and great benefits, they have little reason to build up large savings rather than spend what they earn). And the few I know who are truly wealthy have trust funds.

But that’s not how they think about success. They are fiercely meritocratic when it comes to education and status within academia. In that realm, they think luck has almost nothing to do with it and hard work is everything. They are as hard-hearted about those ‘losers’ who don’t measure up and are denied tenure as any conservatives are about the undeserving poor. But that’s not wealth — in academia, the main coin of the realm is not money.

WW: A politics of nothing but individual rights in a world dominated by social forces is a recipe for domination by those sufficiently powerful or organized to shape those forces.

But the principal means by which ‘those sufficiently powerful or organized’ shape social forces is by expanding and capturing and directing state power for their own benefit. A ‘politics of individual rights’ seeks to deprive powerful organized forces access to the power (backed by a monopoly on force) needed for domination, while misguided progressives keep working to provide powerful interests with ever greater (and easily captured) means of imposing their will. Progressives are as surprised by every time this predictably backfires–and learn no more from experience than Wile E Coyote. I expect progressives to miss this critical point, but I don’t expect that of Wilkinson.

Urso November 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Excellent point on the wealth/success distinction. People who place a high value on becoming wealthy are presdisposed to view wealthy people favorably; people who aren’t, dont.

Slocum November 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Yes. There was some research a few years ago, which I see Tyler noted:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2007/06/the_best_fragme.html

That showed that an increase in status (but not income) brought lasting increases to those on the left, while an increase in income (but not status) brought lasting increases to those on the right. No wonder, then, that for those on the left the redistribution of income is a natural idea while redistribution of status is unthinkable.

I wonder sometimes, if there are any tenured progressive academics who would see it as an urgent matter of justice to redistribute incomes, job security, teaching loads, and academic status and opportunities (sabbaticals, conference travel, grants, awards, endowed chairs, honorary society memberships) to the low-paid, low-status lecturers who now do most of the teaching in U.S. universities.

Floccina November 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm

It’s interesting that is about wealth rather than success. I live in a college town among lots of upper-middle-class lefties. Tenured profs at public ivies are by no means poor, but they aren’t millionaires (partly because with virtually iron-clad job security and great benefits, they have little reason to build up large savings rather than spend what they earn). And the few I know who are truly wealthy have trust funds.

Very true! Government employees with $60K/year pensions seem oblivious to the fact that such a solid pension is worth about a million dollars.

lxm November 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm

#2

I liked the WW article. But I always get a kick out of stuff like this:

” And this, I think, helps explain why self-described libertarians are more likely to identify with the Tea Party movement, which was launched by Rick Santelli’s indignant rant about subsidizing “losers'” mortgages, than with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is founded on something like the assumption that individuals are caught in a web of socio-economic forces upon which only the collective action of organized class interests have any influence.”

Of course self-described libertarians are not going to identify with the OWS gobbedly-gook made up by WW. However, they might if it were something like: the OWS movement founded on the assumption that the game is rigged!

Freddie November 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I understand the productive potential of criticizing those with whom you broadly agree. I understand much less well the productive potential of praising those with whom you broadly agree. But there’s so much more of the latter than the former.

stan November 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Wilkinson goes badly off course when because he fails to understand what really binds conservatives and libertarians — their shared recognition that leftist policy leads to disaster (see e.g. Greece). Both believe that Big Government gets captured by Big Labor, Big Business, and Big Media. Both believe the little guy gets screwed.

The problem both have with most liberal policies is that they don’t work. They end up doing more harm to those they are intended to help and the country as a whole — see e.g. urban housing, welfare, pushing home ownership to get a financial crisis, subsidizing moral hazard, the hits just keep on coming.

Wilkinson’s contention that the right in America want to punish the poor is BS. They just know that the govt policies end up hurting them!

What kind of fool looks at the history of the last 80 years and decides that left wing policies actually work?

lxm November 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm

What world do you live in?

Craig November 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

“Terrence Malick (!) to shoot two (!) movies in one year.”

Certainly a hoax. How could they ever find enough dew-covered leaves?

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