Daniel Davies

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A brilliant web commentator on the economic and political scenes.

Links

Shine your light on me … [More...]
How Paul Samuelson and Ronald Coase got into a pissing match over lighthouses being public goods, and how both were wrong in several respects.
The correct way to argue with Milton Friedman [More...]
[...] listen out for the words “Let us assume” or “Let’s suppose” and immediately jump in and say “No, let’s not assume that”.
This is such a big heap of partisan right-wing bullshit that there must be a pony in there somewhere! [More...]
Daniel Davies explains to Brad DeLong that Milton Friedman was a political hack (in addition to being an excellent economist.) "The ideological core of Chicago-style libertarianism has two planks. 1. Vote Republican. 2. That's it."

Quotations

People seem to be faintly drawn to the idea that there might be more political dimensions than just "left" and "right". Bullshit. Being in favour of allowing other people to take drugs, shag each other or read what they want isn't a political position; it's what we call "manners", "civilisation" or "humanity", depending on the calibre of yokel you're trying to educate. The political question of interest splits fair and square down a Left/Right axis: either you think that it is more important to provide a decent life for everyone in the world, or you think it is more important to preserve the rights of people who own property. You can hum and haw as much as you like about whether the two are necessarily incompatible, or whether the one is instrumental to the other, or what constitutes a "decent life" anyway, but when you've finished humming and hawing, I'm still gonna be asking you the question, and your answer to it will determine whether or not we're gonna have an argument.
Daniel Davies, http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com, December 31, 2002
But at base, the test of someone's politics is simple; if their political aim is to advance all of humanity, they're on our side, while if they have an overriding constraint that the current owners of property must always be satisfied first, they're playing for the opposition.
Daniel Davies, D-Squared Digest, May 21, 2003
As it happens, I was reading a book about my second-favourite period of UK history over the weekend. It’s amusing to note how many of the arguments of the kind “raising labour standards will close down the factories and send the poor into horrible scavenging”, are nearly word-for-word copies of similar arguments made in the 1830s against the child labour laws passed in England. They were wrong then …
Daniel Davies, "Globollocks, v2.0"
It is really quite rare to find a buyer’s market for rented accommodation. Even if there is a slight oversupply of rental units for sale, time is almost always on the landlord’s side, because waiting is typically much more inconvenient for the party that has to wait without a house to do wait in. In general, when tenants and landlords are negotiating over the potential Pareto gain that could be made from renting the house, the landlord ends up capturing most or all of the surplus. The hot water and habitability laws are simply aimed at skewing things a bit in favour of the tenant and putting a floor on how bad a deal the tenant can end up accepting. It’s a standard game theory result that something which reduces your options can benefit you by reducing the number of bad options that you can end up agreeing to (most famously, the secret ballot has to be compulsory, because if you had the option to reveal your vote, you could be intimidated), and habitability laws are there for exactly this purpose.
Daniel Davies, "The correct way to argue with Milton Friedman"