Imagining the button

Via Angus (and do read his snark on TFP), here is Paul Samuelson:

Libertarians are not just bad emotional cripples. They are also bad advice givers.

(Are there "good" emotional cripples?)  Four points should be noted:

1) Paul Samuelson is one of the truly great economists of the 20th century.

2) Hayek did in fact underestimate the robustness of liberty in social welfare states, though it is worth noting that his Constitution of Liberty very much endorses a social safety net and many other policies of the German FDP of that time.

3) This is the same Paul Samuelson who argued, as late as 1989, that the performance of the Soviet economy was a refutation of Hayek’s critique of central planning.

4) When I see people writing sentences of this kind, I imagine them pressing a little button which makes them temporarily less intelligent.  Because, indeed, that is how one’s brain responds when one employs this kind of emotionally charged rhetoric.

As you go through life and read various writers, I want you to keep this idea of the button in mind.  As you are reading, think "Ah, he [she] is pressing the button now!"


Comments for this post are closed