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Begging the Question with Style: Anarchy, State and Utopia at Thirty Years [More...]
Barbara Fried's brilliant analysis of the rhetorical (propaganda) techniques used by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Starts with a list of substantive questions begged, moves on to some of his self-contradictions, and then addresses many rhetorical maneuvers. [more...]
Acronym for "There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". Used by libertarians to point out that "free" government programs have hidden costs in taxes. But of course the private sector has always been loaded with examples as well. Why is it OK for the private sector but not for government? [more...]
Liberty for me, but not for thee.
Libertarians want liberties for themselves, but don't really care about the liberty of others. Their primary desire is liberty for property owners (and thus the rich.) Libertarians want to dictate what liberties will exist for everybody. Examples abound. [more...]
Elon Musk is Not the Future [More...]
"Tech CEOs are out for themselves, not the public good." [more...]
Nudge Policies [More...]
"Once you have admitted that people's decisions are affected by these kinds of factors, an obvious question is whether public policy might make use of how decisions are presented to influence behavior." [more...]
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
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Gaps in the Market [More...]
"Standard economic theory tells us that firms [that discriminate] will be driven out by market competition... If men cannot overcome their sexism toward women when discussing the qualifications of female economists, then how can they assume that any job market -- or any market -- is free of discriminatory bias?" [more...]
Libertarianism Is Still a Mess [More...]
"The Libertarian Party is as ineffectual as it's ever been and has even managed to regress some... An enclave of stoners, sex hounds, basement-dwellers, pagan ritualists, amateur philosophers, goldbugs, and crypto-currency enthusiasts isn't fit to run a laundromat, let alone a country." [more...]
Crypto Cynics Stand to Profit the Most [More...]
"Bubbles, therefore, may be a uniquely predatory financial phenomenon -- a natural and perfectly legal equivalent of a Ponzi scheme that happens every time a new asset class or a new type of investing becomes legal or technologically feasible." [more...]
Billionaire's Failed Education Experiment Proves There's No Shortcut To Success [More...]
"Three years is a long time in the technology world, and there should have been several notable successes from the batches of 20–24 students that the Thiel Foundation admitted. If Thiel had delivered what he promised, these startups should have all been in the category of “world-changing”—and vast majority should still exist." [more...]
Timely Abraham Lincoln quote: Who defines Liberty? [More...]
"The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one." [more...]
Quantum Epistemology for Business [More...]
Decision making based on any data has problems analogous to those of Quantum Mechanics. These make pretenses to "rationality" heuristic at best. [more...]
Not an argument: The free market would have ended slavery [More...]
Stefan Molyneux's "The Truth About Slavery" is dismembered and ridiculed. "Even if you’re the Second Coming of Ayn Rand, you can’t deny that the profit motive was core to the entire enterprise of slavery." [more...]
Thomas Jefferson Feared an Aristocracy of Corporations [More...]
"The author of the Declaration of Independence warned against the threat to democracy posed by big banks and big corporations. Too bad the Supreme Court doesn't respect the original intent of the founders." [more...]
Big Tech: The New Predatory Capitalism [More...]
"The five largest global corporations by market value are the five tech firms named above... We already know these firms have crippled entrepreneurship... We already know they’ve concentrated economic gains in a few small enclaves... The question is no longer whether we have a problem with Big Tech; it’s what we’ll do about it." [more...]
Ludwig von Mises Explains (and Solves) Market Failure [More...]
David Glasner points out that Hayek was not a libertarian and Mises supported conscription and taxes. "[Mises] says that voluntary self-defense will not work. Why won’t it work? Because the market isn’t working." [more...]
State of innovation: Busting the private-sector myth [More...]
"Forget Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It is government that should be credited for backing wealth-creating technology." [more...]
Financial Times 404notfound Application Errors Explained as Economics [More...]
The best 404 page ever, using 22 popular economics ideas to explain why you couldn't get the page you wanted. [more...]
Libertarianism is an Ideology Built on Neoclassical Economics [More...]
"One of the things that has always put me off libertarianism is that it clearly has neoclassical economics at its heart. The only difference is that all of the flaws – assumptions, rational economic man, framing issues as governments versus markets – are transposed onto a political ideology." [more...]
Governments, Markets and Class (and Libertarians) [More...]
Class analysis is a far superior tool for analysis than the libertarian false dichotomy between government and market. [more...]
How Natural is Capitalism, Exactly? [More...]
"The fact is that capitalism is a highly planned system with a questionable history -- there is nothing ‘natural’ about it." [more...]
Economic Decision Making and Libertarianism [More...]
"Behavioural economics makes the central libertarian mantra of being ‘free to choose’ completely incoherent." [more...]
A Brief Anti-Economist History [More...]
"The conclusion is clear, and something I have said before: western capitalism is neither harmonious nor natural. It is a product of specific historical circumstances, some of which were incredibly brutal. " [more...]
Milton Friedman on Corporations [More...]
"If corporations have no social responsibility, then presumably they are, in abstract, permitted to steal, defraud and coerce for their customers and shareholders?" [more...]
Milton Friedman’s Distortions [More...]
"He is generally perceived as able to shut down arguments from the left with simple, easy to understand, often amusing one liners. However, I have always found him unconvincing, and here I hope to show why." [more...]
The Fantasy of a Pure Market [More...]
The distinction between markets and government is blurred because property and contract rights are not obvious, and whatever their definitions end up as, they make the market not "pure". [more...]
Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies [More...]
151 brief statements about the nature of politics that mostly ridicule libertarian and other right-wing ideology and attitudes. [more...]
Libertarian Fundamentalism [More...]
"Many of the most powerful promoters of libertarian fundamentalism are themselves unscrupulous crony capitalists who gain advantage by corrupting and manipulating our legal and political institutions." [more...]
RationalWiki: John Stossel [More...]
The RationalWiki article on John Stossel. "In a 1996 address to the Federalist Society, Stossel was asked why he gave up being a consumer advocate in favor of being a corporatist/libertarian shill. His response: I got sick of it. I also now make so much money I just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas." [more...]
RationalWiki: Bryan Caplan against the childfree movement [More...]
A RationalWiki article which includes good ridicule of Bryan Caplan. [more...]
RationalWiki: Hans-Hermann Hoppe [More...]
The RationalWiki article on Hans-Hermann Hoppe. One section title says a lot: "Life from Rothbard's groupie to wingnut welfare recipient". [more...]
RationalWiki: Murray Rothbard [More...]
The RationalWiki article on Murray Rothbard. Includes a number of Rothbard's most extreme positions. [more...]
RationalWiki: Ayn Rand [More...]
The RationalWiki article on Ayn Rand. A relatively short summary, with funny summary of the TLDR Atlas Shrugged. [more...]
RationalWiki : Objectivism [More...]
The RationalWiki article on Objectivism. A readable big-picture overview of the innumerable faults. [more...]
RationalWiki : Political Compass [More...]
The RationalWiki article on the Political Compass, with four significant criticisms. [more...]
RationalWiki : Nolan chart [More...]
The RationalWiki article on the Nolan Chart, especially criticizing the The Worlds Smallest Political Quiz. [more...]
RationalWiki : Libertarian paradise [More...]
The RationalWiki article on libertarian experiments, frauds, and wishful thinking. [more...]
Under Neoliberalism, You Can Be Your Own Tyrannical Boss [More...]
Perfectionism makes us scornful of each other, afraid of each other, and unsure of ourselves at best. It prohibits the types of solidaristic bonds and collective action necessary to take on neoliberal capitalism, the very thing that generates it. The only possible antidote to atomizing, alienating perfectionism to reject absolute individualism and reintroduce collective values back into our society. [more...]
A Recession-Era Economic Myth Goes Up In Smok [More...]
"For years, the media was filled with stories about jobs going unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers. Now we know how wrong they were... It’s also a victory for left-wing economists, dealing a blow to the supply-side argument that inadequate worker skills are to blame for high unemployment." [more...]
Koch network laying groundwork to fundamentally transform America’s education system [More...]
"Making a long-term play, the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and his like-minded friends on the right are increasingly focused on melding the minds of the next generation by making massive, targeted investments in both K-12 and higher education." [more...]
Why Economists Should Look At Horses [More...]
This is an example of something common in economics – “as if” modelling. When real world evidence is not used for modelling. [more...]
Bubble, Bubble, Fraud and Trouble [More...]
"So is Bitcoin a giant bubble that will end in grief? Yes. But it’s a bubble wrapped in techno-mysticism inside a cocoon of libertarian ideology. " [more...]
Bitcoin and Illegal Activity [More...]
How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies? The estimate is 20% of the dollar value of transactions and 50% of holdings. [more...]
Privatisation is deeply unpopular with voters. Here's how to end it [More...]
"It is striking that, given the near-universal political consensus in favour of neoliberalism, and particularly privatisation, that the public has never embraced this idea. Indeed, far from becoming accustomed to privatisation, voters have become more resolutely hostile, as numerous Australian governments have found to their cost." [more...]
Decreasing the size of the state is very unpopular [More...]
More than 90% of Britons think taxation should stay the same or increase. High support for most government functions. [more...]
Libertarian Ideas the Public Rejects Strongly
Many fundamental ideas of libertarianism, such as greatly reducing or eliminating government, are vey strongly rejected by the public. [more...]
Craft Brewing as a Model for Helping the Middle Class [More...]
There are other industries where the same regulatory approach should work. [more...]
Basecoin: the worst idea in cryptocurrency, reborn [More...]
"The concept is so profoundly ill-conceived that I’d venture to say the “Stablecoin” is the closest thing the crypto world has for an answer to the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Ravenous Bugblatter Beast from Traal, a creature known not only for being extremely vicious and hungry, but also for being denser than a neutron star. " [more...]
Blockchain’s Broken Promises [More...]
"Since bitcoins are not useful as a medium of exchange, or desirable in themselves, their true value is zero. The highest price at which bitcoins have traded is around $20,000. At the time of writing, the market price is halfway between that level and zero. Pay your money (or not) and take your chances. A"Boosters of blockchain technology compare its early days to the early days of the Internet. But whereas the Internet quickly gave rise to email, the World Wide Web, and millions of commercial ventures, blockchain's only application – cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – does not even fulfill its stated purpose." [more...]
Bitcoin’s zero-sum game [More...]
"Since bitcoins are not useful as a medium of exchange, or desirable in themselves, their true value is zero. The highest price at which bitcoins have traded is around $20,000. At the time of writing, the market price is halfway between that level and zero. Pay your money (or not) and take your chances. " [more...]
Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America [More...]
Regulation is what has made the craft-beer explosion possible, providing real competition with the beer monopoly. Proper regulatory structuring of markets prevents and reverses formation of monopolies. [more...]
Libertarianism: A Luxury for Citizens of Developed Countries [More...]
"As far as I can tell, libertarian movements only form in societies which have already developed a national infrastructure; the existing government has already levied taxes on the population in order to build a system of roads and bridges, and public services." [more...]
The Differing Definitions of Liberty [More...]
"Due to the tradeoff inherent in granting liberty to one side, society must decide which group’s liberty should be protected at the expense of the other." [more...]
Libertarian superstar Ayn Rand defended Native American genocide [More...]
"New transcript of Rand at West Point in ’74 enthusiastically defends extermination of Native Americans." [more...]
The Incoherence and Bad Faith of Antonin Scalia’s Originalism [More...]
Scalia opposes common-law interpretation. "So, under Scalia’s own originalist doctrine, the meaning of the judiciary in the US Constitution, written by the Framers under Blackstone’s thrall, was the kind of judging practiced by common-law judges." [more...]
The “corporatist” confusion: Why a prominent political term needs to be retired [More...]
Explains misuse of the word "corporatism in at least 4 senses, including that by Edmond Phelps "as the stale, run-of-the-mill libertarian propaganda that it is." Crony Capitalism is a more accurate word for most current uses. [more...]
Privatization of Power
What libertarians call liberty is actually privatization of power. Taking power that the state holds and transferring it to individuals. That might sound good until you realize that the state power protects us individuals from each other's power. Privatization of power would result in the wealthiest having the most power and the poorest having none. [more...]
History of the Food and Drug Administration [More...]
A Wikipedia article. Lists many of the scandals and atrocities that led to the creation and expansion of powers of the Food and Drug Administration. [more...]
The Libertarian Logic of Peter Thiel [More...]
"Under this theory of benevolent monopolies, government regulations and laws are unnecessary. Taxes are in effect replaced by monopoly profits—everyone pays their share to Google, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal. And in contrast to the government, these profits are allocated intelligently into research and services by brilliant, incorruptible tech leaders instead of being squandered by foolish, charismatic politicians." [more...]
Ruwart on Child Pornography [More...]
Mary Ruwart, a former Libertarian Party presidential candidate, talks about sex acts of children and child pornography. [more...]
Too Late to Compensate Free Trade’s Losers [More...]
"Gone are the confident assertions that globalization benefits everyone: we must, the elites now concede, accept that globalization produces both winners and losers. But the correct response is not to halt or reverse globalization; it is to ensure that the losers are compensated." [more...]
That’s Just Capitalism [More...]
"To put it in the simplest terms: the libertarian populist says that rigged capitalism creates huge inequality, but the truth is that unrigged capitalism does the same thing." [more...]
Monopolies May Be Worse for Workers Than for Consumers [More...]
There isn't much evidence that they raise prices, but they do seem to hold down wages. [more...]
The Forgotten Man [More...]
Rothbard's influence on the far right. [more...]
A Tale of Two Libertarianisms [More...]
A review of Murray Rothbard's posthumous "Rothbard vs. the Philosophers", where Rothbard shits on everybody else who is not as pure as his style of libertarian. [more...]
The errors of Hans-Hermann Hoppe [More...]
An extensive critique of Hoppe's pollyanna anarcho-capitalist ideas. "With all due respect, but parts of Hoppe’s speech could have been written by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister. But at least Goebbels would have delivered the speech in a more rousing manner than Hoppe who despite all his radicalism seemed almost bored of himself." [more...]
How Hayek’s Evolutionary Theory Disproves His Politics [More...]
"He was arguing with Stalin, not Norway." [more...]
Writing Fiction as Law: The Story in Grágás [More...]
Calls the major sources used to support Medieval Icelandic "libertarianism" unreliable. He finds that Icelanders "hold their bishop as king". "Texts written in the thirteenth century may not reflect Icelandic legal practice of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries so much as they reflect thirteenth-century anxieties, concerns, and desires." [more...]
Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom) [More...]
Milton Friedman did not like Walter Block's review of Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Friedman is very harsh: "you are a fanatic who finds it absolutely impossible to understand the thinking of anybody other than himself." Block is a smarmy, absolutist gasbag in response. [more...]
Book Review: The Machinery of Freedom [More...]
Scott Alexander reviews the third edition of his friend's book. He points out that some things are very interesting, but has MANY criticisms. "My overall conclusion is that I am delighted by this fascinating and elegant system and would very much like to see it tried somewhere very far away from me." [more...]
Medieval Iceland and Modern Legal Scholarship [More...]
Richard Posner takes a very different view of how Medieval Iceland works. (He makes one mistake: government does not have a monopoly on force, it has a monopoly on legitimizing force.) [more...]
An Anarchist FAQ, David Friedman and Medieval Iceland [More...]
So what of Friedman's "critique"? Other than some nitpicking and a less that charitable perspective on the all so human ability to make mistakes, his "critique" does not amount to much. Iceland was a communal system, according to his own "expert voice." It was one based, initially, on "artisan" production (i.e. farmers and craftspeople working their own tools and land). It is used by "anarcho"-capitalists as a "favorite example" of their system working in "the real world" even if Friedman himself does not exactly claim so (in spite of him bringing up to bolster his claims). [more...]
Is Medieval Iceland an example of "anarcho"-capitalism working in practice? [More...]
"Ironically, medieval Iceland is a good example of why "anarcho"-capitalism will not work, degenerating into de facto rule by the rich." [more...]
Rand's work: style and quality [More...]
Why academics disdain the slipshod work of Rand and her major followers. [more...]
Sen’s Capability Approach (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) [More...]
"The Capability Approach is defined by its choice of focus upon the moral significance of individuals’ capability of achieving the kind of lives they have reason to value... A person’s capability to live a good life is defined in terms of the set of valuable ‘beings and doings’ like being in good health or having loving relationships with others to which they have real access." [more...]
Anti-Corruption Digest: Bitcoin [More...]
Anti-Corruption Digest's index of bitcoin articles. Bitcoin is (as predicted) a major cybercrime and money-laundering tool. That is probably fueling the high prices (2017) for bitcoin. Demand for money laundering is very high. [more...]
Bitcoin mining likely uses more energy than it takes to keep New Zealand's lights on [More...]
"A supporter of Bitcoin, Carlos Domingo, hit back with a calculation suggesting that the entire global financial system uses about 100TWh per year, or three times as much as the Diginconomics estimate for Bitcoin... [but] the global financial system serves the entire world. By contrast, the number of active Bitcoin investors has been estimated at 3 million." That makes normal systems 1000 times more efficient. [more...]
Quizzical [More...]
"It’s an environmentally destructive Ponzi scheme that isn’t usable as a currency even for believers... Bitcoin is now a “crypto asset” which is even more obviously a Ponzi fantasy than the original currency story." [more...]
How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing [More...]
"Intuit, producer of the top-selling tax software, has opposed letting the government do your taxes for free -- even though it could save time and headaches for millions of filers." [more...]
Breaking Up Fortunes [More...]
"The rich have too much. Hiking the estate tax would be a powerful tool in a broader anti-inequality campaign." [more...]
Estate Tax
Also known as inheritance tax and "death tax". An important tool for breaking up concentration of wealth. They worked very well for roughly 60 years in the USA. There is no good philosophical justification for inheritance of wealth. [more...]
Bitcoin Is Soaring. Here's Why It Is Not Ready For The Big Time [More...]
"Bitcoin’s transaction fees are so high because the peer-to-peer network that powers the currency has very limited capacity by the standards of modern digital infrastructure." Limited to 1/500 of Visa's current transaction rate. [more...]
From Territorial to Functional Sovereignty: The Case of Amazon [More...]
"[Major digital firms] are no longer market participants. Rather, in their fields, they are market makers, able to exert regulatory control over the terms on which others can sell goods and services... persons will be increasingly subject to corporate, rather than democratic, control." [more...]
The Deaths That Come When an Industry's Left to Regulate Itself [More...]
"The Consumer Product Safety Commission tried for 16 years to make portable electric generators less dangerous. Then a Trump-selected official took charge of the agency." [more...]
College Isn't a Waste of Time [More...]
Noah Smith shreds Bryan Caplan's claims that college is mostly a waste of time and primarily used for signaling. "But his arguments against college are deeply flawed, and the country would be well-advised to take them with a shot of skepticism." [more...]
Libertarian Judges Rule! [More...]
"Government regulations of advertising? Terrible violation of free speech. Telling a worker what she can read? Market freedom." [more...]
The Master Class on the Make [More...]
"In marking Calhoun’s political philosophy as the crucial antecedent of public choice theory, Tabarrok and Cowen unwittingly confirmed what critics have long maintained: libertarianism is a political philosophy shot through with white supremacy. Public choice theory, a technical language nominally about human behavior and incentives, helps ensure that blacks remain shackled." [more...]
Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-Examined
"In a nutshell, the reason the capability approach is worth our time and attention is that it gives us a new way of evaluating the lives of individuals and the societies in which these people live their lives. The attention is shifted to public values currently not always considered most important -- such as wellbeing, freedom and justice." [more...]
The worthlessness of Bitcoin -- a real world usage case
"Before you make a run on Coinbase to remove all your real money, finish reading this post I put so much effort into -- then run." [more...]
Why the US needs its own sovereign wealth fund [More...]
"the US Sovereign Wealth Fund can focus on making as high a return as possible for the US taxpayer, and hire accordingly, as other sovereign wealth funds do, while the Federal Reserve focuses on getting the amount of stimulus right, which is where its expertise lies. The US Sovereign Wealth Fund needs the same level of independence as the Fed, and a single mandate to earn high returns, given the level of risk it is taking on." [more...]
Robot Takeover Matters Less If We're All Shareholders [More...]
"A social welfare fund that benefits every American would cushion human obsolescence... It could be just what the country needs to reverse the negative trends that have afflicted the middle and working classes during the past several decades." [more...]
Economists Should Stop Defending Milton Friedman’s Pseudo-science [More...]
"The purview of science, as I saw it then and still see it today, is to understand and explain the subject matter of a scientific discipline. This cannot be done by simply cataloging when a theory works and the magnitude of errors when it does not, and yet Friedman’s engineering view of science has stood at the very core of mainstream economics for well over sixty years." [more...]
Bitcoin an even bigger waste of energy [More...]
"As far as I can determine, the only thing that has changed [in 2 years] is that the Bitcoin bubble has got massively bigger and that the associated waste of energy is now much more widely recognised than when I first wrote about it." A few other alternatives to "proof of work" are mentioned. [more...]
Common and Private Concerns [More...]
A seminal paper explaining models in terms of types of resources, property, and management regimes. Explains the problem with the Tragedy Of The Commons model. "The goal is to clarify concepts and raise issues that may contribute to the further development of theory concerning property rights and the performance of natural resource systems." [more...]
Ostrom’s Law: Property rights in the commons [More...]
"Ostrom's Law: A resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory. Ostrom's scholarship challenges the conventional wisdom by examining how people interact over resources on the ground - an approach that enables her to identify recurring institutional features associated with long-term success." [more...]
Forms of Property Rights and the Impacts of Changing Ownership [More...]
"But there is a third paradigm, "the social/community paradigm," involving questions about distributional equity, community welfare, and other social and cultural benefits. The "social/community paradigm" is absent in most discussions oftragedies of the commons and natural resource management." [more...]
A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems [More...]
Revisiting the Commons: Local Lessons, Global Challenges [More...]
"This article discusses new insights about such problems and the conditions most likely to favor sustainable uses of common-pool resources. Some of the most difficult challenges concern the management of large-scale resources that depend on international cooperation, such as fresh water in international basins or large marine ecosystems." [more...]
An Economist's Take on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies: It's a Giant Scam and the Mother of All Bubbles [More...]
"My take on bitcoin is the standard boring economists' take: bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are the mother of all irrational bubbles... However, as we see with bitcoin, which isn't driven by any kind of fundamental economic value, as it pays no dividends and has high transaction fees, bubbles can happen and markets aren't that efficient." [more...]
Beyond the Planet of the Pharma Bros [More...]
" In the United States, which has abdicated its responsibility to negotiate on behalf of all Americans and ensure that everyone has access to the drugs they need, prices are the highest, and access the lowest among advanced economies." In part due to policies on licensing of drugs discovered with public funds. [more...]
Social Wealth Funds
Also known as Sovereign Wealth Funds. An alternative for public ownership of wealth that has been widely used around the world. [more...]
A Simple Fix for Our Massive Inequality Problem [More...]
"There’s a tried and tested way, within the system we have now, of giving everyone a share in the investment returns now hoarded by the wealthy. It’s called a social wealth fund, a pool of investment assets in some ways like the giant index or mutual funds already popular with retirement savings accounts or pension funds, but one owned collectively by society as a whole." [more...]
Libertarianism is not an ideology [More...]
"... show me a libertarianism that does not inevitably benefit the rich against the poor, the powerful against the powerless, the boss against the worker. Then maybe libertarianism will be worth taking seriously. Until then, libertarianism will be a wink, a dodge, a clever ruse, an exercise in shamelessness." [more...]
Libertarians frequently have show strong support for fascists. Ludwig von Mises for Mussolini and Friedrich von Hayek for Pinochet come to mind immediately. [more...]
Hayek von Pinochet [More...]
"Farrant et al demonstrate that Hayek’s support of Pinochet was not contingent or begrudging -- an alliance of convenience due to Pinochet’s embrace of free market economics -- but was rather the product of two longstanding ideas and commitments." [more...]
Grand Old Marxists [More...]
"[Ayn Rand and Hayek] relied on some of the same underlying assumptions as Marxism itself: that politics is a matter of one simple truth, that the state will eventually cease to matter, and that a vanguard of intellectuals is needed to bring about a utopia that can be known in advance." Paul Ryan relies on this nonsense. [more...]
Let's play a game: libertarian professor of economics, or crazy man on street corner? [More...]
"Like it or not, much-maligned U.S. Gilded Age poverty policies -- minimal government assistance combined with near-open borders -- were close to ideal." [more...]
Found: Libertarians' "Lying To Liberals" Guide Book [More...]
"That they even had to run two articles in the space of a few months on how to trick Americans into accepting libertarianism shows what a hard time REASON was having selling such a counterintuitive political scam to a generation enamored with its idealism." [more...]
Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand [More...]
"The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky." [more...]
Illuminatus! vs Atlas Shrugged [More...]
"These two books are polar opposites, yet oddly similar - opposed twins, in other words, like Cain and Abel. Both novels are ridiculously long. Both were largely ignored by the literary and educational establishments, due to their unmistakable whiff of madness..." [more...]
Elinor Ostrom
Won a Nobel Prize (in economics) for groundbreaking work in institutional analysis of the real-world governance of commons. Not a libertarian nor a Hayekian. [more...]
The Ostrom Nobel [More...]
"Her landmark book, Governing the Commons, provides an empirical rejoinder to the pessimism of Garret Hardin and others about the tragedy of the commons -- it documents how people can and do solve these problems in e.g the management of water resources, forestry, pasturage and fishing rights." [more...]
Ideologically, it means something like "everything that happens in the economy without direct government intervention." Market really means the institution of trade. The internal economy of centrally planned firms such as Walmart is not market activity. [more...]
The Koch Network and Republican Party Extremism [More...]
"[T]he recently expanded “Koch network” that coordinates big money funders, idea producers, issue advocates, and innovative constituency-building efforts in an ongoing effort to pull the Republican Party and agendas of U.S. politics sharply to the right." [more...]
When Politics Drives Scholarship [More...]
An even, academic review of the controversies over Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. He judges mixed results: some conclusions not sufficiently justified, but not debunked either. [more...]
Kochonomics: The Racist Roots of Public Choice Theory [More...]
A review of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America. [more...]
Does Money Matter in the Long Run? Effects of School Spending on Educational Attainment [More...]
"... this paper provides important evidence that increases in [primary] school spending improve students’ long-run outcomes that are of ultimate concern to policymakers." Why the rich use expensive private schools instead of underfunded public schools. [more...]
Discredited ideas [More...]
Libertarians have at one time or another adopted every erroneous view to avoid Keynsianism: Austrianism, Structuralism, Treasury View and Monetarism (Milton Friedman). All four have been refuted by history. [more...]
Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism [More...]
A refreshing antidote to neoliberal ideology, stuffed with more excellent writing and economic ideas than are easily appreciated. "The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics." [more...]
Neom: Frequently Asked Questions [More...]
Saudi Arabia proposes investing $500 billion to create a huge charter city, supposedly to end its oil dependence. Right. More likely, a shiny distraction that lets elites evade religious proscriptions (such as against drinking and gambling) and that provides more opportunities to conceal and launder money. [more...]
Unfriendly Skies [More...]
"It’s time to admit that airline deregulation has failed passengers, workers -- and economic efficiency." [more...]
Repeal of Mandatory Arbitration Ban Is a Wall Street Giveaway [More...]
The promised benefits of arbitration for consumers do not materialize. Arbitration suppresses information and lets companies evade responsibility for enormous harms. [more...]
How much is clean air worth? [More...]
"people are making defensive investments in a wide variety of other settings — cost of alarm systems, or to supplement public schools — and that just measuring the direct impacts, like the frequency of home robberies or test scores, is not sufficient if you want to develop a measure of the full costs or benefits of various interventions." [more...]
Capitalism defeats racism. Government maintains it. [More...]
An amazing (yet common) example of libertarian revisionist history, in this case about how government (not white racists) wanted Jim Crow laws. Some good refutations in the comments. [more...]
A Foundation, Not a Net
"A good welfare state is more than just a safety net. It's a foundation on top of which people can build their lives... Old-age pensions, paid family leave, child care benefits, public health insurance, and education..." [more...]
Whistleblower rewards, false reports, and corporate fraud [More...]
"Corporate fraud is endemic. Dyck et al. (2013) estimated that between 1996 and 2004, about 15% of large publicly traded US corporations engaged in fraud. These crimes have an expected cost of $380 billion." How to incentivize whistleblowers. [more...]
The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare [More...]
A horrendous example of decades-long pollution with knowledge of serious harms to thousands by DuPont. Only the tip of the iceberg of 60,000 unregulated chemicals. [more...]
The Family That Built an Empire of Pain [More...]
"Since 1999, two hundred thousand Americans have died from overdoses related to OxyContin and other prescription opioids. Many addicts, finding prescription painkillers too expensive or too difficult to obtain, have turned to heroin." The blame for this can be squarely laid at the feet of the Sackler family's privately held company, Purdue Pharma. [more...]
The Bigness Complex: Industry, Labor, and Government in the American Economy, Second Edition
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Liberty! What Fallacies Are Committed in Thy Name! [More...]
Cosma Shalizi points out that libertarian-style arguments about eliminating antitrust have severe empirical difficulties: ie. price fixing is rampant in the global marketplace. [more...]
Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism [More...]
Another Objectivist criticism of libertarianism, based on removing the hand-waving premise one level deeper in the "philosophy". For example, we can't sense rights, but somehow we are able to sense claims that "each individual is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others" are facts of reality instead of mere desires. Some excellent zingers, though they can be used against objectivism as well. [more...]
L.P.D.: Libertarian Police Department [More...]
"It almost seemed like they didn’t care that a fortune in computer money invented to buy drugs was missing." [more...]
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science
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Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right
A biography of Rand that doesn't flatter her. [more...]
Ha-Joon Chang's argument against the idea that "taxation is theft". [More...]
"So what you have created is actually a joint production, of your own entrepreneur skill or labour or whatever you have put in there, with contribution from the whole society. So saying that this is theft actually is saying that I am going to steal the public bits, as if it is mine." [more...]
Plutocracy with a Philanthropic Face [More...]
“A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed,” notes education analyst Joanne Barkan, “to define the national debate on education.” The Gates, Walton, and Broad foundations don’t agree on every single educational policy twist. But they do all follow the same basic script. [more...]
Five Steps to Privatizing Everything [More...]
"At the heart of privatization is a disdain for government and a distrust of society, and a mindless individualism that leaves little room for cooperation. Adherents of privatization demand ‘freedom’ unless they need the government to intervene on their behalf." [more...]
Must Read: Dark Money by Jane Mayer [More...]
"Mayer chronicles the rise in right-wing philanthropy –and the exploits of Richard Mellon Scaife, John Olin, and the Bradley brothers, pioneers in “weaponizing philanthropy” to advance a neo-conservative agenda. The Kochs picked up the baton, organizing hundreds of other donors." [more...]
People Don’t Actually Want Equality. They Want Fairness. [More...]
A discussion of Harry Frankfurt 's book On Inequality that points out that people are not bothered by inequality itself: they are bothered by unfairness that causes inequality and consequences of inequality (most notably poverty.) [more...]
Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity
How the current economic system privileges the upper class (which libertarians support, though they claim not to), and how to reform it to foster the middle class with recommendations that libertarians oppose. [more...]
Magic Bullet: The History Of Oral Rehydration Therapy [More...]
Government-sponsored research developed one of the greatest life-savers for children in the third world. [more...]
The Immediate Global Costs of Pollution [More...]
"The studies suggest that roughly 8.4-9.0 million people die each year from pollution... one set of estimates suggests that the costs of pollution might be about $4.6 trillion, or equal to about 6.2% of global national income... The Lancet Commission is saying that steps to reduce climate change would pay for themselves in terms of avoided mortality in air pollution." [more...]
Insight: How Compounding Pharmacies Rallied Patients to Fight Regulation [More...]
Lobbyists for the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists defeated legislation designed to close the FDA regulatory loophole created by the Supreme Court in 2002. (The loophole has finally been closed in 2013, after a huge meningitis outbreak.) [more...]
New England Compounding Center meningitis outbreak [More...]
As a result of obstruction of regulation of compounding pharmacies, 800 were sickened and 76 died in one incident. [more...]
A libertarian utopia was actually tried here -- and it failed miserably
The comical tale of Minerva, the first of many libertarian colony frauds: it defrauded 2000 investors. "... the principality remained no more than a flag fluttering in the wind over a few square yards of debris that threatened to wash away in the next storm." And did wash away. [more...]
An Introduction to Georgist Philosophy [More...]
The term "Georgist philosophy" refers to the economic analysis and social philosophy advanced by the North American economist Henry George. The Georgist philosophy advocates equal rights for all and special privileges for none. It affirms a universal right for all to share in the gifts and opportunities provided by nature. [more...]
Faster Growth Begins With a Land Tax in U.S. Cities [More...]
"A land-value tax, or LVT, is like a property tax, but with a deduction for the value of buildings and other improvements. The tax would reduce land prices and increase the incentive to build more, which in turn will help drive down rents, making a city more affordable. And because land is a fixed quantity, taxing it doesn’t shrink the economy like taxes on wages and capital sometimes do. " [more...]
Seven Nobel Prize Winners Endorse Land Value Taxation [More...]
Starting with Milton Friedman, who also planned the US income tax withholding system. [more...]
Most libertarians are opposed to property taxes. The Georgists have an answer that libertarians are unable to rebut. Also known as Single Tax, Land Tax, etc. The idea is that a tax on land is the only legitimate tax because land is not man-made. [more...]
When econ models potentially mislead, econ profs should say so [More...]
Models are often based on assumptions that do not hold in the real world. When they are used to support real-world policies, these failings of the models should be highlighted. [more...]
Inside The Deportation Industrial Complex: Immigrant Prisons [More...]
Each year, the U.S. government locks up roughly 440,000 immigrants in over 200 immigrant prisons. These facilities have grown into a highly privatized, lucrative and abusive industry that profits off the misery of immigrants awaiting deportation. [more...]
Mike Huben and Taner Edis criticize Jan Narveson's "The Libertarian Idea".
In 2001, I had an email exchange with Jan Narveson, where I detailed four major failings of his book/philosophy and appended some criticisms by Taner Edis (since I had permission to publish them.) [more...]
Libertarian Org Ready To Sue Instagram For Allegedly Removing Its Account [More...]
"Libertarian nonprofit The Atlas Society (TAS) says its Instagram page, which it used to post political content and promote its work, was taken down roughly a month ago with little to no explanation in an apparent act of censorship." But Instagram is private property. By libertarian lights, they can do what they want. [more...]
The Difference Between a "Right" and a "Liberty" and the Significance of This Difference In Debates Over Public Policy On Abortion and Euthanasia [More...]
The Hohfeldian legal distinction between a right and a liberty (privilege or lack of duty) fairly well explained. The right-wing Christian moral analysis can be ignored. [more...]
A Treatise of Human Nature
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How Only Being Able to Use Logic to Make Decisions Destroyed a Man’s Life [More...]
"[W]ithout the filtering provided by emotions and their somatic markers, the data sets for any given decision — whether it’s what to get for lunch or whom to marry — would be overwhelming. The working memory can only juggle so many objects at once." [more...]
The Commons
With private property ascendant, the fact that we have and need a huge amount of commons is often overlooked. Ecological services, the genetic commons, commons of language, government, infrastructure, society and many other things are very important to our daily lives. Regulated commons can also be a good substitute for private property where there are problems, for example airspace over property (which used to belong to the landowners.) [more...]
Intellectual Property for the Twenty-First-Century Economy [More...]
The IP standards advanced countries favor typically are designed not to maximize innovation and scientific progress, but to maximize the profits of big pharmaceutical companies and others able to sway trade negotiations. [more...]
The Secretive Family Making Billions From The Opioid Crisis [More...]
The Sackler family created a large part of the current opioid crisis (53,000 dead per year) with their hyper-aggressive marketing of Oxycontin and other opiates, paying some of the harshest fines ever imposed on a pharmaceutical company: more than $600,000,000. [more...]
The Drug Industry
Legal and illegal, medical and alternative, the drug industry is responsible for enormous numbers of deaths and addictions, extortionate prices, not to mention enormous amounts of fraud in alternative medicines. The drug industry is also one of the worst practitioners of regulatory capture. [more...]
What Is Liberty?
Liberty (AKA Freedom), the supposed object of Libertarianism, is hardly ever defined or discussed analytically by libertarians. Liberty, as used by libertarians, is a glittering generality of propaganda: an emotionally appealing phrase so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that it carries conviction without supporting information or reason. But liberty is susceptible to analysis and that analysis reveals enormous problems with libertarian ideology. [more...]
Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies [More...]
Paul Krugman debunks 10 common conservative lies about taxes that libertarians have frequently used as well. [more...]
Pragmatism: An Introduction
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Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know
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Can Neoliberalism Be Saved From Itself?
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How Neoliberals weaponise the concept of an ideal market
"[N]eoliberalism is a political strategy promoting the interests of big money that utilises the economist’s ideal of a free market to promote and extend market activity and remove all ‘interference’ in the market that conflicts with these interests." [more...]
How bosses are (literally) like dictators [More...]
"Americans think they live in a democracy. But their workplaces are small tyrannies." A short summary of Elizabeth Anderson's book "Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives". [more...]
Libertarians are the political group with the highest IQ, yet they are underrepresented in the social sciences other than economics [More...]
Criticisms of "Political diversity will improve social psychological science." [more...]
We libertarians are more intelligent.
Take a standard adolescent fantasy, mix it with a simplistic ideology, and wow! You know all the answers! Everybody else is so stupid! [more...]
Private Government
Most workplace governments in the United States are dictatorships, in which bosses govern in ways that are largely unaccountable to those who are governed. They don't merely govern workers; they dominate them. These are feudal forms of tyranny and coercion. [more...]
Judicial Review
Libertarians decry judicial review when it goes against their desires. They frequently charge that it is not an enumerated power, conveniently overlooking the fact that it can be construed as part of the Constitutional judicial power, and was discussed as such before ratification. [more...]
How NRA Advertising Changed The Second Amendment–And American Gun Culture [More...]
How the NRA pushed for a revisionary interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, and how it has been pushed by libertarian leaders to the extreme right. [more...]
Predatory Pricing: Strategic Theory and Legal Policy [More...]
A US Department of Justice analysis that points out that history and economic theory teach that predatory pricing can be an instrument of abuse, yet courts adhere to a static, non-strategic view of predatory pricing, believing it to be an economic consensus. But this is a consensus most economists no longer accept. [more...]
Adam Smith on the Benefits of Public Education [More...]
All the way back in 1776, long before public education was widespread, Adam Smith made the case in The Wealth of Nations for the government to provide public education for everyone, partly on the grounds that it would benefit the economy to have more educated workers, but also partly on the grounds that in a political context, educated people are "less liable ... to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition" and "less apt to be misled" in a political context. [more...]
The downsides of virtual learning [More...]
"Students in online courses had lower grades, did not earn as many credits, and were more likely to drop out of college than similar students taking those courses in person... Until these questions are resolved, the current state of virtual learning is clear: online courses are detrimental to students’ grades, learning, and graduation." [more...]
Can you reform your way to higher growth? [More...]
Short answer: no. Academic discussions of why tax cuts and other measures will not increase growth. One implication: tax increases will not decrease growth, because we've experienced higher taxes in the past during high-growth periods. [more...]
Does Environmental Crime Pay? [More...]
"With chemical products in particular, the producers have a unique informational advantage: since they create these substances, they know much more about the nature and risks of these products than any outside party." Two solutions proposed: whistleblower rewards and taxing gag settlements. [more...]
Worker-owned enterprises as a social solution [More...]
"In short, the economic and institutional realities of worker-owned enterprises are not entirely clear. But the concept is promising enough, and there are enough successful real-world examples, to encourage progressive thinkers to reconsider this form of economic organization." [more...]
Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and the Civil War Revisited [More...]
"Still, pro-Confederate libertarians are a significant enough minority that the phenomenon can’t simply be ignored." Then he pulls out the "No true libertarian" bullshit. [more...]
The Origins of Judicial Review [More...]
"This year marks the 200th anniversary of Marbury v. Madison, the case which is often taught in law schools as establishing judicial review... We trace how historical developments leading up to the ratification had made judicial review a familiar institution to the Founders, and we demonstrate that all those who discussed judicial review during ratification (there were dozens) agreed that the Constitution authorized judicial review." [more...]
A Layman's* Refutation of the Tenther Movement [More...]
"... the Supreme Court had already ruled that the Constitution grants the federal government implied powers. In the 1819 Supreme Court case McCulloch v. Maryland, the court ruled that the "Necessary and Proper Clause" of the Constitution (Section 8, Clause 18) gave Congress powers not specifically given in the US Constitution." [more...]
The Tenther Movement: Corporate Conservatism Disguised As States’ Rights [More...]
The tenthers may not comprehend that their benefactors are not individual states, but the corporations and banking industry that controls the narrative the tenthers are promoting. [more...]
Tenther movement - Wikipedia [More...]
"Despite the movement's assertions, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Tenth Amendment such that the Amendment does not require a narrow interpretation of the Federal Government's enumerated powers. Instead, the Tenth Amendment makes clear that the powers of the Federal Government derive from the States voluntarily surrendering part of their sovereign powers." [more...]
Tenther movement - RationalWiki [More...]
"In recent history, the mantra of "states' rights" has found a new suit to wear: The Tenthers. Because they take an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, they believe that any power not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution belongs to the states, and that most of existing federal law is therefore invalid." [more...]
Tenther movement
Crank states' rights advocates who would prefer that the powers delegated to the federal government be construed VERY narrowly, invalidating most of the past 200+ years of federal law. They would prefer that the states retain these powers (10th Amendment), so that slavery or other state abuses could not be outlawed federally. [more...]
Oh God, Please Not Libertarianism...
"Two new books by libertarians. Are they bad? Yes." Reviews of David Boaz’s The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom and Charles Cooke’s The Conservatarian Manifesto. [more...]
Is There a Cryptocurrency Bubble? Just Ask Doge. [More...]
The creator of Dogecoin thinks Bitcoin is in a speculative bubble. [more...]
China Isn’t the Only Reason to Question Free Trade [More...]
"If nudging companies to export can raise productivity, the U.S. has work to do. The country’s domestic market is so big that lots of companies don’t bother to compete globally..." [more...]
Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed [More...]
“Every single one of those analyses had an error—in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis—that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus,” Hayhoe wrote in a Facebook post. [more...]
Intellectual Property Laws: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing [More...]
"The excesses of IP law are now a serious obstacle to innovation and economic growth... The current state of intellectual property law may be bad for economic growth overall, but it is highly effective at showering riches on a favored few." [more...]
A Review of Stefan Molyneux’s The Art of the Argument [More...]
A professional philosophical logician critiquing Molyneux is like using a sledgehammer for a flyswatter. He points out that Molyneux can't use common terms correctly, let alone identify forms of argument correctly. [more...]
You Prevent Private Coercion With Labor Market Regulation [More...]
Megan McArdle calls a firing "private coercion." Matt Bruenig replies: "The legal framework that provides safeguards to protect individuals from private coercion is called labor and employment law. " [more...]
Friedrich A. Hayek, Big-Government Skeptic [More...]
"There have always been two major critiques of Hayek’s arguments, neither of which are fully answered by a re­reading of 'The Constitution of Liberty.'" [more...]
There Is No Such Thing as a Free Market [More...]
Chapter 1 of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. "Overcoming the myth that there is such a thing as an objectively defined ‘free market’ is the first step towards understanding capitalism." [more...]
How Libertarianism Nurtured The Alt-Right For Decades [More...]
"This is why scholars have come to understand that ideas now identified with the alt-right have always gone hand-in-hand with "respectable" libertarianism: they were ideological bedfellows from the very beginning." [more...]
Your Bitcoin is NOT Anonymous: IRS Moves To Track Bitcoiners With New Chain Analysis Tools [More...]
"In fact, so exposed is the blockchain to Big Brother monitoring and interference, that the Internal Revenue Service has now implemented blockchain analysis tools to help them track down individuals who are profiting off the crypto currency and not declaring these profits on their tax returns." [more...]
Learning from Thirty Years of Experience with Cap-and-Trade Systems [More...]
"Based on the numerous specific lessons we identified in our analysis, several design and implementation features of cap-and-trade programs appear critical to their performance." [more...]
The Market Power Story [More...]
Noah Smith spanks Tyler Cowen for Tyler's ineffectual criticisms of a major paper on Market Power as a cause for economic ills. Among other things, Tyler does not consider "the inefficiency of monopolistic competition in standard theory". [more...]
Bribery, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Prosocial Institutions [More...]
Large-scale anonymous cooperation (as in markets and rights) requires institutions with the power to punish. Permitting corruption such as bribery and nepotism (which many libertarians favor) undermines the institutions. Game-theoretic modeling. [more...]
Bitesize: The very volatile value of cryptocurrencies [More...]
"Existing cryptocurrencies have generally failed as stable stores of value. Conversely, inflation risk of fiat currencies can be largely eliminated by inflation targeting and holding interest bearing deposits." [more...]