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NEW 3/29/2017: Economic Liberty (propaganda)
Another glittering generality that sounds good until you realize that it allows the requirements for well-functioning markets to be undermined by monopoly, bad information and other failures. See: Globalization, Free Trade and Economic Freedom [more...]
NEW 3/29/2017: Economic Freedom (propaganda)
Libertarian ideas of economic freedom are like freedom to sail your yacht where ever you like, even if your wake swamps other boats. Great if you have a yacht! But not valuable to everybody, and sometimes harmful. See: Globalization, Free Trade and Economic Freedom. [more...]
NEW 3/21/2017: Propaganda techniques [More...]
The Wikipedia list of techniques. You'll have encountered most of them in libertarian videos, readings, etc. [more...]
NEW 3/21/2017: Monopolies Are Worse Than We Thought [More...]
Market concentration increases prices, limits market size, and makes the economy less efficient. And new evidence indicates that it hurts workers and increases inequality. [more...]
NEW 3/21/2017: Milton Friedman on Illegal Immigration [More...]
Milton Friedman makes a number of erroneous claims about immigration. [more...]
NEW 3/06/2017: Tax Aversion and the Legacy of Slavery [More...]
"Instead of reflecting a heritage that valued liberty over all other concerns, they [antitax and antigovernment attitudes] are part of the poisonous legacy we have inherited from the slaveholders who forged much of our political tradition." A precis of Robin Einhorn's American Taxation, American Slavery. [more...]
NEW 3/05/2017: Catotonic History
Cato's Letters, among other non-libertarian things, rail against the undue influence on government of very rich men, such as the Koch brothers who effectively control the Cato Institute and innumerable other think tanks and lobbying organizations. [more...]
NEW 3/05/2017: The Authors of Cato's Letters, Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard
Cato's Letters, like most political economy writings of their era, were distinctly NOT libertarian in many specifics. Like Adam Smith, the authors Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard]] condemned corporations, tax evasion by the rich and the rich corrupting government, while supporting infrastructure investment, restricting imports and restricting immigration. Yet the Cato Institute has selected them for their namesake. [more...]
NEW 3/05/2017: The Handmaiden of Entrepreneurship: Philosophy in the time of Charles Koch [More...]
David Johnson reviews a Koch-funded textbook for high school students, Ethics, Economy & Entrepreneurship for a course called "Philosophy 101: Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship". "What I found was a peculiar mixture of the utterly banal and the frighteningly ideological." [more...]
NEW 3/03/2017: Capsule summary of Economics in One Lesson [More...]
"Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson," has almost nothing to do with economics, the study of how to efficiently allocate scarce resources. It's basically a kid's book for indoctrination into libertaryanism." [more...]
NEW 3/02/2017: Dismantling Public Education: Turning Ideology into Gold [More...]
"Nowhere is the toxic effect of privatization on America’s public wellbeing more evident than in the sphere of education." How, through lengthy propaganda, public education is being transformed into a cash cow for the wealthy. [more...]
Think Tank Watch [More...]
Documents some of the global free-market think tank movement. Excellent links to resources. [more...]
Rachel Carson, Mass Murderer? The creation of an anti-environmental myth. [More...]
'Still, AFM has very much followed the plan Bate laid out in his original funding pitch to corporations: First, create “the intellectual arguments to make our case,” then “disseminate these arguments to people in [developing countries]” who can make convincing spokespeople, and then “promote these arguments . . . in the West.”' [more...]
Little Nemo in Slumberland: The Voyage to Mars [More...]
Mars is entirely the property of plutocrat B. Gosh, including the air, sunlight and even words. Widely considered to most amazing artistry ever in comics. The Mars visit extends from 4/24/1910 to 8/14/1910. [more...]
Foucault in cyberspace -- Chapter 2: Libertarianism, Property and Harm [More...]
(Starts on page 11.) Law Professor James Boyle points out that libertarianism fails to justify which rights we should have in three ways: common law, natural rights and Property. "When the vague first principles turn more specific, then the fun really begins." [more...]
People Actually Use Food Stamps to Buy More Food [More...]
This defies the standard rational economic model's "fungibility of targeted benefits", which treats all income as shiftable to other purposes. "Putting all your income into a single pile, and then spending out of that pile, is the rational thing to do. But it turns out that most human beings aren’t rational -- at least, not in this regard." [more...]
Libertarians are neither right wing nor left wing.
Libertarians are simply pragmatic conservatives who have a moral focus on non-interference by the government, according to George Lakoff. That makes them solid right wingers. [more...]
John Kenneth Galbraith on Conservatism. [More...]
"The modern conservative is not even especially modern. He is engaged, on the contrary, in one of man’s oldest, best financed, most applauded, and, on the whole, least successful exercises in moral philosophy. That is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness..." [more...]
Corporate Destruction of Free Markets Rules Us [More...]
"Corporatism makes massive exceptions that rig markets and tilt the seller-buyer balance heavily in favor of the former who become bigger and bigger global corporations." Several good points about how corporatists have rigged markets so they do not fit the free market model. [more...]
Theory vs. Reality: Why Market Absolutism Fails [More...]
Lists six basic assumptions of Free Market Theory that simply do not hold in the real world, actually existing market system. [more...]
Free Market Fantasies: Capitalism in the Real World [More...]
"For those who are interested in the real world, a look at the actual history suggests some adjustment -- a modification of free market theory, to what we might call “really existing free market theory.” That is, the one that’s actually applied, not talked about." [more...]
Fallacies of Free Markets [More...]
"Perfect competition is the ideal state in classical and neoclassical economics, and functions properly only when held to certain assumptions." [more...]
Does free market theory support free markets? [More...]
"Free market theory demonstrates that in a free market economy, economic agents should adopt monopolistic and manipulative strategies that go against global economic efficiency. This is the part of free market theory that has empirical support." [more...]
Economics in Two Lessons [More...]
John Quiggans' draft response (in progress) to Henry Hazlitt's 'Economics in One Lesson'. The second lesson is: Market prices don’t reflect all the opportunity costs we face as a society. [more...]
The Real "Takers" in America: The Unproductive, Rent-Extracting Rich [More...]
"To counter the domination of America’s rentier oligarchs, we need an Anti-Rentier campaign that would unite unlikely groups: owners of productive businesses as well as workers, populist conservatives and liberal reformers." [more...]
Education and the Commercial Mindset (Review by Thomas Ultican) [More...]
"Abrams documents the triumphs and failures of profit based education[...] Abrams presents convincing arguments that KIPP and other no-excuses charter systems cannot possibly be scaled up to educate all American children. These systems have a history of burning out teachers and they rely on public schools to take in the children they expel or council out." [more...]
Propaganda Games: Sesame Credit -- The True Danger of Gamification [More...]
"China has gamified being an obedient citizen with the creation of Sesame Credit. It creates a social score that pushes people to behave the way the government wants. Though currently opt-in, it will become mandatory in 2020." Horrible, squeaky YouTube video with very good explanation. [more...]
China’s New Tool for Social Control: A Credit Rating for Everything [More...]
"Beijing wants to give every citizen a score based on behavior such as spending habits, turnstile violations and filial piety, which can blacklist citizens from loans, jobs, air travel." [more...]
Algorithmic Prison
The algorithmic prison idea is that big data allows business and government to deny us loans, jobs, right to travel, etc. without our knowing why or being able to contest and change the data. This also makes us very vulnerable to dirty tricks. [more...]
Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge and Network-Based Increasing Returns [More...]
In a world of mammoth increasing returns to unowned knowledge and to networks, no individual and no community is especially valuable. Those who receive good livings are lucky, and the illusion of desert is punctured by any recognition that there is a large societal dividend to be distributed. This is the dismal science at its best and most dismal. [more...]
Social Capital
"Social capital is a form of economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central, transactions are marked by reciprocity, trust, and cooperation, and market agents produce goods and services not mainly for themselves, but for a common good." (Wikipedia) The answer to Margaret Thatcher's rhetorical "There's no such thing as society… only individuals and families." [more...]
Economic Anthropology: David Graeber Meets the Noise Machine... [More...]
…and is annoyed at having his summary of anthropological findings dismissed as "nonsensical" [more...]
Are Capitalism, Libertarianism, and Objectivism Religions?
"Dr Albert Ellis debunks Ayn Rand, Greenspan, the Wall Street Journal, Libertarians, Objectivists and other capitalist fanatics. He points out the psychological dangers of following these beliefs as well as the absurdities in their assertions." [more...]
On the Relevance of Hayek and Bastiat [More...]
Hayek's essay "would have been greatly strengthened if he’d acknowledged the limits of markets in coordinating dispersed knowledge". "Bastiat is right within the confines of his own examples, but really the real world throws up so many confounding factors that there is no need to invoke him in contemporary debate." [more...]
Where I Learned All About Austrian Economics [More...]
"Austrian economists reject empirical analysis, and instead believe that you can reach conclusions about correct economic policies from a priori principles. It's philosophy dressed up as economics." [more...]
He Did it Without Help...Except for all the Help He Got [More...]
Yet another false claim debunked (from Marion Noronha of Turbocam) that he did it all by himself. [more...]
Economics 101, Economism, and Our New Gilded Age
"This conviction that the world must behave the way it does on the blackboard is what I call economism. This style of thinking is influential because it is clear and logical, reducing complex issues to simple, pseudo-mathematical axioms. But it is not simply an innocent mistake made by inattentive undergraduates. Economism is Economics 101 transformed into an ideology—an ideology that is particularly persuasive because it poses as a neutral means of understanding the world." [more...]
Sweden’s School Choice Disaster [More...]
"Advocates for school choice might be shocked to see how badly the country’s experiment with vouchers failed." Provides a balanced look at international performance of Charter Schools and public schools. [more...]
U.S. Companies Were Hurt by Trade With China Too [More...]
Free Trade with China, often assumed to be beneficial, as been shown to leave deep and lasting scars on huge swathes of the American workforce, increase political polarization, and decrease U.S. corporate innovation. [more...]
What's wrong with libertarianism (Rosenfelder) [More...]
Libertarianism is the un-Communism, prefer fact-free arguments, want full scale implementation rather than small-scale tests, worship the founding fathers in silly ways, support Republican party policies, misunderstand social liberty, ignore history, have a single-villain ideology, ignore market abuses, and have an unacceptable morality. [more...]
The “Common Law Property” Myth in the Libertarian Critique of IP Rights (Part 2) [More...]
"[T]his is not just a historical myth about the source of property rights in land, which were created by both statutes and court decisions, but it’s also an historical myth about IP rights, which are also created by both statutes and court decisions." [more...]
The “Common Law Property” Myth in the Libertarian Critique of IP Rights (Part 1) [More...]
"It’s a complete myth for libertarians to argue that IP rights are “different” from property rights in land because property rights in land developed in “common law” as opposed to “statutory” IP rights." [more...]
The Connection Between Work and Dignity [More...]
An efficient economy leaves unemployment high: some inefficient but useful jobs can alleviate unemployment and create dignity for the workers. "If we work hard and produce something of tangible value, we tend to feel a sense of self-worth when society rewards us for it with a decent, middle-class life." [more...]
The Power and Poverty of Libertarian Thought [More...]
A celebration of the fall of communism as somehow a vindication of libertarianism, but also some good criticisms of libertarian failings. Especially with regard to organization of capital enterprises. [more...]
Violence, Property, Theft, and Entitlement [More...]
Libertarians do not actually care about force or coercion, but instead have strange ideas about entitlement (and then are happy to use force or coercion to protect their entitlement.) [more...]
A long-supplanted philosophical methodology that is preoccupied with "true" definitions of words, a priori knowledge, logic, deduction, system, and its literary form of syllogistic argumentation. Apriorism and avoidance of empiricism are characteristic. [more...]
Domain-specific reasoning: Social contracts, cheating, and perspective change [More...]
Humans do not reason with content-independent logic. Experimental evidence that human reasoning processes are domain specific. [more...]
Social Contract Theory (Cognitive Psychology)
A modular and evolutionary view of human reasoning. "Modular" means that the theory explains performance in one specific content domain: social contracts (any social exchange.) Explains our apparent cheater detection algorithms. Not related to philosophical ideas of Social Contract. [more...]
Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
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Thinking and Deciding
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The Prevalence of Humbug and Other Essays
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The Libertarian Attack Against Liberty: Fake Patriots and False Gods
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Economics: The User's Guide
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The Educator And The Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges The Gates Foundation
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The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill: Ethical, Political and Religious
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Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances
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Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy
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Property and Contract in Economics: The Case for Economic Democracy
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Principles For A Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty With The Common Good
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The Moral Ecology of Markets: Assessing Claims about Markets and Justice
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Heuristics: The Foundations of Adaptive Behavior
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Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
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Uncivil Liberties: Deconstructing Libertarianism
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Economic Fundamentalism: A World Model For Structural Adjustment
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Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality
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Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?: A Story of Women and Economics
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The Arrow Impossibility Theorem
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The Self-Made Myth: And the Truth about How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed
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Libertarianism without Inequality
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Robert Nozick's Moral and Political Theory: A Philosophical Critique of Libertarianism
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It's Legal but It Ain't Right: Harmful Social Consequences of Legal Industries
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Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change
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The Problematics of Moral and Legal Theory
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Reason, Truth and History
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The Follies of Globalisation Theory
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For and Against the State: New Philosophical Readings
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Beyond Liberty Alone: A Progressive Vision of Freedom and Capitalism in America
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How Propaganda Works
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A Constitution of Many Minds: Why the Founding Document Doesn't Mean What It Meant Before
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The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens
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Cognitive bias cheat sheet [More...]
A grouping of roughly 175 cognitive biases according to the types of problems they are there to address: too much information, not enough meaning, the need to act fast, and what we should remember. Every cognitive bias is an opportunity to make a bad argument. [more...]
Existential Comics 1134: The Philosophy Friends [More...]
Points out the ways in which "the river" is not "the river", but really just a convention used for inexact communication, and is recognized in flood or freeze or whatever else. Could also be extended to include the groundwater of the drainage basin. [more...]
What are "Natural Rights"? [More...]
A good libertarian critique of Timothy Sandefur and Randy Barnett's ideas of natural rights. Shows that the emphasis on negative rights is arbitrary: positive rights are equally well supported by the same arguments. [more...]
The Tensions Between Feminism and Libertarianism: A Focus on Prostitution [More...]
"The feminist focus on patriarchy as an existing institutional force and the libertarian belief that patriarchy cannot exist within a free market, small government system make the two ideologies incompatible." [more...]
Bill Gates: Only Socialism Can Save the Climate, ‘The Private Sector is Inept’ [More...]
"Gates admitted that the private sector is too selfish and inefficient to do the work on its own, and that mitigating climate change would be impossible without the help of government research and development." [more...]
Scientific research and statistical information gathering are vastly better performed by government, and underproduced by private actors. These are classic public goods. [more...]
Water Privatization: Facts and Figures [More...]
Privatizing local water and sewer systems usually does far more harm than good for our communities. "Although the public and private sectors work well together in many areas, businesses should not operate, manage or own public drinking water or wastewater systems. Those duties should fall under the purview of local governments, who have a responsibility to ensure safe and affordable service for all." [more...]
Water in the UK -- public versus private [More...]
UK private water companies appear to be run in the interests of shareholders and not customers. Prices have gone up along with ridiculous profits. "We have two alternative examples of healthier ways to run water companies within the UK. The non-profit organisation set up in Wales, or better yet, a return to full public ownership. The case of Scottish Water shows that this would be the best outcome for English customers." [more...]
Conversion of public resources to private property is called enclosure, and that's what is happening to fresh water today around the world. Water resources and water systems are natural monopolies, and their privatization is another step towards corporate ownership and dominance. [more...]
Homo economicus on the Grand Tour, or, When Is a Lizard a Good Enough Dragon for Government Work? [More...]
A review of a neo-instititional economics textbook. "By the end of the book, while the modeling style hasn't changed at all, the original laissez-faire economy with a night-watchman state has been left completely behind, and we are contemplating competing forms of property rights in stateless societies..." [more...]
Brad DeLong Makes a Wishful Mistake [More...]
"The fact is that the foundations of standard microeconomic models envisage people as hedonistic sociopaths, and theorists prevent mayhem from breaking out in their models by the simple expedient of ignoring the possibility." [more...]
How Libertarians Ought to Think about the U.S. Civil War [More...]
A libertarian argues that libertarians should support Lincoln, the Union, and the Civil War as instruments of liberty, rather than castigate them as agents of tyranny. [more...]
The Racism of Abraham Lincoln, Part 4 [More...]
"The Emancipation of Abraham Lincoln". "The Final Emancipation Proclamation punctures one of the biggest holes in the Libertarian caricature of 'Lincoln the Racist' propagated by Thomas DiLorenzo." [more...]
The Racism of Abraham Lincoln, Part 3 [More...]
"From Colonization to Emancipation". "Since part of the Libertarian narrative is that Lincoln was a tyrant who ran roughshod over the Constitution, they can’t allow this letter to be interpreted correctly. And, of course, they always -- always! -- omit the last sentence." [more...]
The Racism of Abraham Lincoln, Part 2 [More...]
"The Context of Lincoln’s Racism". While Lincoln was a racist (as was almost everybody in his times), this in no way supports the libertarian historical revisionism of Thomas DiLorenzo. "While Thomas DiLorenzo is a deadly-serious polemicist, as a historian he shows all the seriousness of a clown convention." [more...]
I used to be a libertarian. I'm sorry. [More...]
"We would have these epic political discussions and unlike others who simply backed away slowly, he would counter my points. He would ask me to go into a better defense of them. Stock answers didn’t work anymore. Appeals to freedom and liberty didn’t seem so effective. All of the things I believed in so strongly didn’t seem so strong anymore, and over time I realized that I had been craftily duped. " [more...]
A Critique of Narveson's The Libertarian Idea [More...]
"Despite having given us much food for thought and having described a more pragmatically appealing and credible kind of libertarianism than most radical writers, Narveson's claim to have provided a philosophically rigorous contractarian foundation for libertarianism must be rejected." [more...]
Have Public Universities Lost Their Focus? [More...]
"The problem with higher education is that colleges are operating more like businesses and less like a social good." An interview about Christopher Newfield's book: The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. [more...]
School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Louisiana Scholarship Program [More...]
"This comparison reveals that LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement. Attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large." [more...]
A small round of applause for decent Time Magazine writing
"Without coming out and saying it, it’s easy to see how libertarianism, despite all the heavy-handed rhetoric about freedom, is fundamentally a right wing authoritarian philosophy... Getting the government out isn’t about rejecting authority, but making individuals of the proper sex (male), proper race (white), and proper socio-economic status (property owners and independent businessmen) the ruling classes of a series of small societies." [more...]
The Capability Approach (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) [More...]
"An explication of the capability approach from a philosophical point of view." An excellent discussion of the philosophical context of the capability approach. [more...]
Lead Exposure and Violent Crime in the Early Twentieth Century [More...]
"A growing body of evidence in the social and medical sciences traces high crime rates to high rates of lead exposure...We study the lead-crime relationship using historical data on the water supply of U.S. cities in the late nineteenth century and data on homicide between 1921 and 1936, when the first generation of children exposed to lead through water had reached adulthood." [more...]
Elinor Ostrom, The Commons and Anti-Capitalism [More...]
Elinor Ostrom and her institutional approach were neither socialist, anti-state, left, conservative, anarchist, nor free-market. She was an egalitarian institutionalist who studied many forms of common pool resource management and non-market economics, with emphasis on when collective communal ownership was possible. [more...]
Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems [More...]
Elinor Ostrom smacks down the libertaran false dichotomy of state versus market in her Nobel Prize lecture. She discusses how public/private goods, market/government and fully rational individuals fail for analyzing many real-world problems, and presents her Institutional Analysis and Development framework. [more...]
False Dichotomies of Libertarian Ideology
Libertarianism is built on false dichotomies, because they provide the simplicity necessary to propaganda. Modeling the real world accurately usually requires more sophistication. [more...]
The case against free trade – Part 4 [More...]
"There is never a case that a corporation should have institutional structures available that allow it to use ‘commercial’ arguments to subvert national legal positions... A progressive policy framework has to allow all workers access to work even if it explicitly destroys jobs as part of an overall strategy to redress matters of concern (whether to advance labour, environmental or broader issues) and allow the poorest members in each nation opportunities for upward mobility." [more...]
A Job Is More Than a Paycheck [More...]
"In most of economic theory, a job isn't treated as something inherently valuable -- it's just a conduit through which money flows from employer to employee... To most people, the idea that jobs give people dignity and a sense of self-worth seems laughably obvious... But among economists, there remains a relentless unwillingness to consider the importance of dignity and social respect." [more...]
Libertarians, with their tenuous ideological grasp of the present, are particularly vulnerable to the silliness of much futurism. [more...]
A favorite theme of libertarian science fiction. Like fusion power, artificial intelligence, and space colonization, this idea has always been immanent, yet somehow always 20 or more years in the future. [more...]
I'm going to live forever!
Quite a few libertarians and rich technocrats such as Peter Theil, Steve Jobs and Dean Kamen have spent vast sums searching for personal immortality through various fraudulent schemes for transhumanism or life extension. Excessive individualism makes people prone to this problem. [more...]
Joseph Goebbels on Propaganda
It is uncanny how accurately the ideas of the foremost Nazi propagandist match the reality of libertarian indoctrination. The techniques are the same, simply in service of other masters paying the bills. [more...]
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part IV: Libertarianism for Capabilitarians [More...]
A list of libertarian hobbyhorses he wants to try on Capabilitarians, as if they were not already aware of these ideas. Most are exaggerated by libertarians: misunderstood coercion, discredited Public Choice Theory, limits of democracy and Spontaneous Order. [more...]
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part III: Capabilities for Neoclassical Liberals [More...]
"I know of no libertarian who works explicitly within a capabilities framework, but some libertarians hint at capabilitarian inclinations. For libertarianism to be justified in terms of the capabilities approach, libertarian principles would be affirmed and defended because they advance human capabilities. " [more...]
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part II: Capabilities for Bullet-Biting Libertarians [More...]
"[H]ow some common justificatory bases for libertarianism fail, and do so in ways readily grokked from a capabilitarian vantage." The NAP, property, Ayn Rand and spontaneous order take a beating. [more...]
Capabilities and Libertarianism, Part I: Basics of Capabilities [More...]
A decent and simple overview of the Capability Approach. "The capabilities approach explores the needs and reasonable desires of each individual and demands these needs and desires be met for a society to be said to be flourishing." [more...]
The Capabilities Approach and Libertarianism [More...]
Paul Crider finds the ideas of "life, liberty, and property" to be too limited. "What we really want is a concept of flourishing. We want to describe a society not only where nobody’s rights are violated, but where everyone -- even the least of those among us -- is living well." [more...]
An example of "Will you stop being violent?" (by being a statist.) [More...]
A fine example of a libertarian with no rational or supported argument claiming (a) he is rational, (b) accusing statists of being violent (c) claiming he is non-violent, (d) claiming "defensive" force is not violent, (e) redefining words to make his claims circular and (f) etc. Repeatedly, more than 25 times in some responses. [more...]
We libertarians are peaceful, statists are violent!
All social systems require violence and coercion if they have ANY types of rights, because ultimately All Rights Are Coercive. Libertarians often delude themselves that their rights are natural and do not require force, but if you ask them what happens when their rights are violated they start talking about "defensive force" which somehow they think is not violent. All property, all rights are ultimately held coercively. [more...]
Elinor Ostrom's 8 Principles for Managing A Commmons [More...]
"Ostrom’s achievement effectively answers popular theories about the “Tragedy of the Commons”, which has been [erroneously] interpreted to mean that private property is the only means of protecting finite resources from ruin or depletion." [more...]
A Review of Design Principles for Community-based Natural Resource Management [More...]
"We analyzed 91 such studies to evaluate the principles [Ostrom's] empirically and to consider what theoretical issues have arisen since their introduction. We found that the principles are well supported empirically and that several important theoretical issues warrant discussion. We provide a reformulation of the design principles, drawing from commonalities found in the studies." [more...]
Acquisition from the Commons
Libertarians often make moral arguments for acquisition from commons. But aquisition from the commons is as unilateral, involuntary and coercive as eminent domain. It ignores the fact that commons are actually usually managed, and ignores the fact that (historically) commons in Britain were acquired by governing nobles. [more...]
Adventures in Libertarian Blind Spots [More...]
Libertarians cannot agree on whether the 19th century USA was more or less free than today. [more...]
Prejudice and the Economics of Discrimination [More...]
Contrary to libertarian claims that markets will punish discriminatory firms, this paper shows theoretically and empirically that those claims are false. [more...]
Private Wars [More...]
Claims that a private war does not impose on others (fellow citizens) the costs of intervention. But what about when the opponent decides to strike back? What about when other citizens want opposite goals? The question isn't simply can private war be used for humanitarian efforts, it is how awful would the abuses of private war be? [more...]
Against Hayek [More...]
"Hayek and his followers have grossly overestimated the difficulties of carrying out rational socialist planning. They have coupled this with an exaggerated idea of the effectiveness of the free market as an economic regulator." [more...]
Information and Economics: A Critique of Hayek [More...]
A thorough dismemberment of Hayek's "Socialist Calculation" argument. At this point, Hayek is thoroughly out of date in terms of understanding human actors, corporate actors and modern information technology. Vast amounts of information can be centralized: that's how Walmart works. [more...]
Libertarianism vs. American Libertarianism [More...]
Noam Chomsky notes the distinction between traditional libertarianism and the corporatist American movement that goes by the same name. [more...]
The case against free trade – Part 3 [More...]
"These so-called ‘free trade’ agreements are nothing more than a further destruction of the democratic freedoms that the advanced nations have enjoyed and cripple the respective states’ abilities to oversee independent policy structures that are designed to advance the well-being of the population." [more...]
The case against free trade – Part 2 [More...]
"There is no such thing as the ‘free market’. It is an obfuscation used by elites to distort the public debate and create the impression that state regulations, consumer and worker protections and the like are costly distortions which undermine our welfare. What they really mean when they talk of the ‘free market’ is that these protections reduce their capacity to extract larger proportions of national income..." [more...]
Debunking Denialism
"Debunking Denialism is a website dedicated to the refutation of pseudoscience and denialism by applying scientific skepticism and defending evidence-based science. Since its inception back in 2010, it has taken on a wide range of topics including creationism, HIV/AIDS denialism, anti-psychiatry, crank claims about physics, vaccine rejectionism, alleged psychics, opposition to genetically modified crops, climate change denialism, misuses of statistics and many others." [more...]
DDT Apologists Promote Anti-Environmentalist Pseudoscience [More...]
"DDT apologists falsely claim that the ban against DDT led to the deaths of tens of millions of people in malaria and that environmentalism is therefore a dangerous ideology with blood on its hands. This article shows that Carson did not want to ban DDT in Silent Spring, that the EPA ban was only for the U. S. and had an exemption for public health issues, that the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants also allows DDT for malaria prevention and that even the WHO recognizes and encourages this. The anti-environmentalist myth about Rachel Carson and DDT is dangerous misinformation and toxic pseudoscience." [more...]
The pesticide industry is attempting to blame Rachel Carson and her green followers for millions of malarial deaths because of "DDT bans". But in reality, that industry is responsible for the deaths because they have fostered pesticide resistance in mosquitos through indiscriminant sales of their pesticides. DDT has NOT been banned for public health use, only agricultural use. [more...]
The Case for Legalizing Sex Work [More...]
Peter Singer makes a consequentialist case for legalizing and regulating the sex industry. [more...]
Amnesty International publishes policy and research on protection of sex workers’ rights [More...]
"Laws on sex work should focus on protecting people from exploitation and abuse, rather than trying to ban all sex work and penalize sex workers. " [more...]
Reddit AnCapCopyPasta [More...]
"Quick access for Anarcho-Capitalists to copy/paste material and win any argument instantly." Note the ridiculous equation "copying=winning". Because libertarians are generally incapable of thinking for themselves, and must plagiarize. A veritable catalog of common, stupid AnCap arguments. [more...]
When Firefighters Were Actually Violent Gang Members [More...]
"From the mid-18th to the mid-19th century, American cities tended to rely on volunteer groups or groups hired by insurance companies. Both methods turned out to provide exactly the wrong sort of motivation for serious firefighting." [more...]
Firefighting is a natural monopoly: while many small towns have private firefighting services, very few have competing ones. This is because of increasing returns to scale. And who provides the hydrants? [more...]
The End of Libertarians [More...]
"Libertarianism is frequently perceived by the general public, not entirely without justice, as a movement of mostly white male 20- or 30-somethings, disproportionately from the tech industry or other white collar jobs, who see themselves as victims and everyone unlike themselves — women, LGBT people, people of color — as naturally collectivist barbarians." [more...]
Theocratic Libertarianism: Quotes from Gary North, Ludwig von Mises Institute Scholar [More...]
The 5 Smooth Stones of Theocratic Libertarianism [More...]
"There is a straight line blessing that runs from free grace to free men, and from free men to free markets." And other such lunacy. [more...]
Men's Rights Movement
Men who blame their own failures on feminism, entirely missing the point that feminism is about equal rights, equal treatment and equal opportunities for all people. [more...]
Why Men’s Rights is Libertarian, and Feminism Isn’t [More...]
"But on the whole, the political message of the men’s rights movement (MRM) is about as libertarian as it gets. Stop forcing us, enough with the special privileges, and let the chips fall where they may." As opposed to "feminist social justice warrior horseshit." [more...]
New research on market power and productivity [More...]
"The traditional argument for mergers and acquisitions is that the joining of two companies will lead to efficiency gains that will help customers and the economy overall[...] What the two economists find is that the efficiency gains that were supposed to appear didn’t in fact happen." [more...]
Free To Plunder: The Case Against Gary Johnson And Libertarianism [More...]
What's wrong with the Libertarian Party and its platform. "Libertarian policies are, overwhelmingly, good for those who already enjoy abundant advantages and privileges, e.g., corporations and rich straight white men. That’s why the Koch brothers are libertarians." [more...]
Labor Market Monopsony: Trends, Consequences and Policy Responses [More...]
"This issue brief explains how monopsony, or wage- setting power, in the labor market can reduce wages, employment, and overall welfare, and describes various sources of monopsony power." "But in the presence of anti-competitive firm behavior or labor market frictions that limit competition, policy must take a multipronged approach to promoting wage and job growth." [more...]
What was Ayn Rand’s view of the libertarian movement? [More...]
"Most of them are my enemies...", "libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people..."; tell us what you REALLY think, Ayn! [more...]
The Trouble with Libertarianism [More...]
Edward Feser identifies "libertarianism" as 3 major doctrines with no philosophic unity. While they seem to be committed to "freedom", that "freedom" is supposed to be a result of their actual foundations in other ideas such as self-ownership, natural rights and utilitarianism. [more...]
The road from libertarianism [More...]
How philosopher Edward Feser abandoned libertarianism because of the problems with self-ownership. [more...]
Libertarian Social Justice [More...]
Libertarian Paul Crider argues that libertarians conflate social justice with redistribution, which is only one solution to the numerous problems of oppression, exploitation, and other assaults on human dignity. Some excellent references and a much-needed start for opening the eyes of libertarians. [more...]
Gov. Brown Signs Historic Bill to Rein in Asset Forfeiture Abuse, Paving Way for Other States [More...]
A bipartisan bill (sponsored by the ACLU) to reign in civil asset forfeiture abuse in California has been passed without any aid from ineffective libertarians. As goes California, so goes the Nation. [more...]
The case against free trade – Part 1 [More...]
Why progressives should prefer "Fair Trade" to "Free Trade". Free trade is a theory that is loaded with unrealistic assumptions and does not predict what actually takes place in real-world markets. [more...]
Help Stop The Payday Loan Debt-Trap Scam [More...]
"Instead of evaluating risk in order to block loans to people who couldn’t pay the loan back, the payday loan industry tries to find poor, desperate people, dangles loans in front of them, and then traps them into a cycle that drains them of everything. The 'debt trap' is the actual business model, and they say so." [more...]
The Financial Industry
If there is any industry that has repeatedly proven itself to need regulation to prevent massive harms, it is the financial industry. It causes macroeconomic disruption, facilitates tax evasion, loansharks, defrauds customers in numerous ways, etc. [more...]
Conservative Intellectuals: Follow the Money [More...]
Libertarians are conservatives in terms of property, distinguished only by dislike of government. Their ideas, funded by plutocrats, are wrong because "because being wrong in the right way has always been a financially secure activity." [more...]
How Clones Can Experience Unequal Economic Outcomes [More...]
"[...] the earnings of workers with near-clone similarity in attributes diverged so much by the place they worked that rising inequality in pay among employers has become the major factor in the trend rise in inequality." [more...]
Public Housing Isn't Wasted on the Poor [More...]
"So while many people look at housing projects and see disaster areas, what they’re really just seeing is the negative effects of poverty itself. Both housing projects and the newer voucher system really make it easier for poor people to invest in their kids’ futures. Over time, these programs help the U.S.’s most destitute citizens the boost they need to climb out of their bad situations." [more...]
Public Housing
Long derided by conservatives and libertarians as programs that are worse than their alternatives, there is strong evidence that public housing is an effective approach to poverty. Cities such as Singapore have long used public housing to promote their economy. [more...]
The Strange Case of Singapore [More...]
A libertarian visits Singapore and notes a history of national economic strategies, public education, public housing, compulsory saving, nationalization of some industries, compulsory national service, high military expenditure, authoritarian government, censorship and drug war. [more...]
Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison [More...]
FDA research drove Vioxx off the market, by revealing estimates that Vioxx had caused 55.000 deaths over 5 years. The author estimates that it may have caused as many as 500,000 deaths. [more...]
FDA ban nearly wiped out deaths, poisonings from ephedra
"A 13-year tally of deaths and poisonings from ephedra show a spectacular decline after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of weight loss products containing the herb in 2004... Using data from the National Poison Data System, the researchers found that ephedra poisonings peaked at 10,326 in 2002 and then began a significant decline to 180 by 2013." [more...]
Are Wet Wipes Wrecking the World's Sewers? [More...]
A classic example where a club good (sewers) requires regulation to protect from individual abuse and ASShole entrepreneurs (read the story) who would make profit from promoting abuses. [more...]
Natural Monopolies
Libertarians like to deny the existence of natural monopolies in roads, sewers, and many other services (like Google search) that have increasing returns to scale. Or they make crazy arguments that they should not be produced or regulated by government. [more...]
Libertarians like to complain that governments are responsible for deaths through wars, etc. But they never consider how governments prevent deaths. The sewers of Rome have prevented far more deaths through sanitation than the legions of Rome ever killed in wars. Sewers are Natural Monopolies natural monopolies. [more...]
The Facts of Economic Growth [More...]
"It is easy to write down models in which governments that tax heavily reduce the long-run success of their economies. The facts, however, are not so clear." [more...]
We Already Tried Libertarianism - It Was Called Feudalism [More...]
"It’s ironic that liberalism first arose to bury feudal systems of private political power, and now libertarians claim the future of liberalism is in bringing back those very same systems of feudalism." [more...]
A Philosophy for the Propertied [More...]
"Libertarianism -- even in its most seemingly benign forms -- is a reactionary rejection of political struggle and an affirmation of the private abuse of power." [more...]
Nozick on Philosophy [More...]
Turns out to be very descriptive of his own work's falings, that of Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and other libertarians. More comfortable than a Procrustean bed, but just as awful. [more...]
Assemblage Theory (Speculative Realism)
"In this book Manuel DeLanda provides the first detailed overview of the assemblage theory found in germ in Deleuze and Guattari's writings. Through a series of case studies, DeLanda shows how the concept can be applied to economic, linguistic, and military history as well as to metaphysics, science, and mathematics." [more...]
Assemblage Theory
Assemblages are individuals: historically unique persistent configurations. Much as are individual humans, but on a different scale with different components. Libertarians get it wrong that human individuals are the only valuable subjects of study. Assemblage theory is not reductionist: it recognizes emergent properties. [more...]
A new exposition of assemblage theory [More...]
A review and explication of Manuel DeLanda's book Assemblage Theory (Speculative Realism), which provides provides the first detailed overview of assemblage theory. 'DeLanda emphasizes that social entities (assemblages) are real items in the social world, with a temporally and causally persistent reality; and he denies that the ideas of "essence", "kind", or "inner nature" have a role in science. ' [more...]
What Is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government
The famous source of "property is theft", "property is despotism", "property is liberty" and "property is impossible". An anarchist view o f the power relationships created by property. [more...]
A Libertarian Icon’s Descent Into Racist Pseudoscience [More...]
After a number of setbacks with libertarians, Stefan Molyneux is targeting the alt-right with his drivel. "It would be a tragedy if we allowed Molyneux and the rest of the alt-right to make brazen racism seem normal once again." [more...]
Uber Menschen [More...]
"This whole intellectual effort, of trying magically to reconcile bedrock libertarianism with an ersatz version of democratic theory, so that one would arrive at a population that would, through sheer force of combined erudition and intellect, arrive at the correct answer, reminds me of Peter Thiel’s notorious complaint that giving women the vote was a major mistake, since they didn’t have the right libertarian attitudes." [more...]
Safety Net Cut Poverty Nearly in Half Last Year (2015) [More...]
"Safety net programs cut the poverty rate nearly in half in 2015, lifting 38 million people — including 8 million children — above the poverty line, our analysis of Census data released yesterday finds[...] The figures rebut claims that government programs do little to reduce poverty. [more...]
Paul Romer on Modern Macroeconomics, Or, the “All Models Are False” Dodge [More...]
"When confronted by evidence that the predictions of their models are wrong, the standard and almost comically self-confident response of the modern macroeconomists is: All models are false." [more...]
The Microfoundations Hoax [More...]
"But, as diligent readers of George Orwell will recall, war is not peace, freedom is not slavery, ignorance is not strength, and representative agent models are not rigorously microfounded." [more...]
Gary Johnson and the libertarian swindle [More...]
"Look beneath the Libertarian Party's public relations gloss, and you'll find a fanatical devotion to the most conventional beliefs about capitalism". [more...]
The big lie of libertarianism [More...]
"The big lie libertarians make is that membership in the State and any collective mutual advantage insurance agreements it establishes is not voluntary, when everybody knows that there is a market in State memberships, and if one does not like to be a member of the UK for instance one can shop around and say purchase membership in the Monaco Principality." [more...]
Homesteading (John Quiggin) [More...]
"Nozick’s use of a term that specifically describes rights created by the US state simply emphasizes the point that property rights are always and everywhere social constructs. Your property rights are those that are accepted and enforced by the society to which you belong." [more...]
Libertarians frequently claim homesteading as a peaceful origin of property, but that is ignorant historical revisionism. There is no land in the world that can show a convincing chain of ownership through original homesteading (before other owners.) Existing claims of homesteading generally ignore pre-existing peoples who were swept aside. Homesteading for spontaneous establishment of ownership is ahistorical. [more...]
Meet the Sugar Barons Who Used Both Sides of American Politics to Get Billions in Subsidies [More...]
"In the 1970s, as scientists and media began to connect sugar with illnesses such as obesity and diabetes, the Sugar Association -- an industry trade group -- ran a successful PR campaign that even led the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association to approve sugar as part of a healthy diet." [more...]
Neither Uber nor Lyft believe sharing is the future [More...]
They plan to own fleets of self-driving cars. [more...]
Education as signalling [More...]
Our libertarian friends at Koch George Mason University frequently claim expensive educations are a form of signally and that nobody learns anything in college. That doesn't pass the sniff test. [more...]
Who was (the real) John Galt? [More...]
Ayn Rand stole this name, as well as Objectivism. "In the literary world he is known as a Scottish novelist who specialized in irony and sarcasm. To those of us who live in Guelph, he was a colonizer and the founder of our city who ran into difficulties with the company he had organized." [more...]
Capitalism as a heterogeneous set of practices [More...]
"From this perspective it becomes possible to see our economy as a complex ecosystem of competing and interacting economic forms, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and to develop a progressive politics that seems to reshape that ecosystem rather than pursuing the imaginary perfection of one single universal economic form." [more...]
The Economy
Capitalism and Markets are only parts of the economy: the economy is a very heterogeneous system that includes government production, domestic economy, and gift transactions. Libertarian focus only on vanilla capitalism and markets makes easy ideology, but ignores vast and important swathes of the real economy. [more...]
A strategy of old-time racist conservatism combined with libertarian mummery and Historical Revisionism. Adherents include(d) Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, Charles Murray, the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and now perhaps Donald Trump. [more...]
Where did Donald Trump get his racialized rhetoric? From libertarians. [More...]
A brief overview of the history of nakedly racist Rothbardian paleolibertarianism and and his fellow travellers. These ideas have been adopted wholesale by Donald Trump. [more...]
Why I’m Not a Bleeding-Heart Libertarian [More...]
'What “libertarian” tends to mean to most people, including most people who self-identify as libertarian, is flatly at odds with some of what I believe. So I guess I’m just a liberal; the bleeding heart goes without saying.' [more...]
Bleeding Heart Libertarians
A sad little circle of academic libertarian propagandists who are attempting to face the principle that if you have more than one liberty, the liberties conflict. The pathetic thing about the BHL's is that libertarianism provides no way to decide those questions except ad-hoc attempts at philosophy. See the Jeffrey Friedman quote below for a characterization that applies to them. They are also fond of deleting contradictory views in the comments of their blog. [more...]
Bleeding Heart Bullshit [More...]
'A new book by a self-proclaimed “bleeding heart libertarian” reveals libertarianism’s bankrupt conscience.' [more...]
The Moral Depravity of Rothbardianism [More...]
Allowing children to die, markets in children, child labor, torture and private weapons of mass destruction. [more...]
Refusing Vaccination Puts Others At Risk [More...]
Subtitled "A pragmatic argument for coercive vaccination", this Reason Magazine article points out the science about the externalities of being unvaccinated. Read the 600+ comments for typical examples of libertarian rejection of science in favour of pseudoscience. [more...]
One of the biggest crime waves in America isn't what you think it is [More...]
Wage theft by employers, estimated at up to $50 billion, is vastly more than the total losses from robberies of all types, roughly $341 million. But because it is a white-collar crime, penalties are mere slaps on the wrist. [more...]
Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons [More...]
"The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government." [more...]
The Pissed-Off, Entitled, Virgin, Fedora-Wearing Neckbeard's Guide to Self-Righteous, Armchair Bullshit Economics [More...]
"No, No, No; you moron! Not establishment economics! Those economics have been co-opted by the bourgeois elites in the ownership class!" [more...]
Left-Libertarianism: A Review Essay [More...]
"Self-ownership" may not be able to do the work that left-libertarians assign it, any more than it can do the cognate work assigned by the (libertarian) right. The left-libertarians' choice to justify equality by reference to liberty may raise some strategic concerns. [more...]
Positive Alternatives To Libertarian Ideas
Many libertarian ideas are based on unrealistic axioms, theories, whims and other products of the imagination, unconstrained by the reality we all observe or know through history. Good ideas ought to be based on reality, rather than needing defence from reality. Another alternative is that their scope can be constrained by reality. [more...]
Rights Are Socially Constructed
Rights are socially constructed through political, religious, or academic institutions that codify, promote, and sometimes enforce these ideas. They have no positive existence outside of human ideas and practices. This is why there is little uniformity in ideas of rights, except where pragmatic needs (such as competitiveness) lead to gross similarities. This is why there are no "true" rights: every society will construct its own based on the interests of its members. Philosophy of rights that doesn't start with the social construction of rights is making a basic category error. [more...]
Locke’s Folly [More...]
"Jeffersonian Democrats made a serious attempt to implement Locke’s theories. Colonization and expropriation followed." [more...]