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NEW 5/28/2017: Libertarianism by any other name would still stink.
There has been a ridiculous product proliferation for names of libertarianism. It might be sensible if the different names meant substantially different things, but usually they don't. [more...]
NEW 5/28/2017: Liberty Upsets Patterns
A saying of Robert Nozick. But property is a pattern, and real liberty would not observe it. Patterns of liberty are also upset when people have the liberty to politically organize. But this is really a tautology: patterns only exist because liberty is restrained. [more...]
NEW 5/28/2017: Self-Organizing
Hayek and others make a big deal about how markets are self-organizing. But many other things are self organizing, such as government and families. But the amount of self-organizing a market can do is based on a number of factors produced by governments, such as stable property. [more...]
NEW 5/25/2017: The Voluntaryists: Humanity's Last Stand Against Government [More...]
An unbelievably lame superhero comic, where the government villains are all ugly and the libertarian superheroes are all beautiful. Even more laughable, there are an equal number of libertarian female superheroes. Propaganda for those too stupid to read Atlas Shrugged. [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: Antimonopoly Is as Old as the Republic [More...]
Should the U.S. enforce more explicit restrictions on monopolies, or can innovation and democracy alone mitigate the pervasive effects of monopoly power? A panel of historians and economists at the recent Stigler Center conference on concentration in America discussed the historical evolution of this debate. [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: The Unfreeing of American Workers [More...]
"You might say, with only a bit of hyperbole, that workers in America, supposedly the land of the free, are actually creeping along the road to serfdom, yoked to corporate employers the way Russian peasants were once tied to their masters’ land." [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: Google Is as Close to a Natural Monopoly as the Bell System Was in 1956 [More...]
"Media scholar Jonathan Taplin, author of the new book Move Fast and Break Things, on the rent-seeking and regulatory capture of digital platforms." [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: Is big government bad for freedom, civil society, and happiness? [More...]
"Do the gains from government goods, services, and transfers come at the cost of reduced freedom, weakened civil society, and diminished happiness? The experience of the world’s affluent democratic countries suggests that, at least so far, the answer is no." [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: The Dystopian Future of Price Discrimination [More...]
It's easy to imagine how personally tailored pricing could go terribly wrong. [more...]
NEW 5/24/2017: Hayek Meets Information Theory. And Fails. [More...]
Modern economic theories of prices-as-information are seventy years out of date. [more...]
NEW 5/23/2017: Child Labor during the British Industrial Revolution [More...]
A fine overview. "During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Great Britain became the first country to industrialize. Because of this, it was also the first country where the nature of children’s work changed so dramatically that child labor became seen as a social problem and a political issue." [more...]
NEW 5/23/2017: Mad Marx: The Class Warrior [More...]
A good take on Mad Max, also featuring Rand and Hayek. The only big errors are that Rand wasn't smoking and Rand was much fatter. [more...]
NEW 5/23/2017: Marxism
Still relevant, though capitalists want you to think it is dead. Not political communism: an alternative philosophical viewpoint for examining social and political issues that bypasses nonsensical Natural Rights and some of the blinkered absurdities of methodological individualism. [more...]
NEW 5/19/2017: Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ [More...]
"There is currently no reason at all to think that any significant portion of the IQ differences among socially defined racial groups is genetic in origin." [more...]
NEW 5/19/2017: The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life
An atrocious exercise in cherrypicking data to support racist themes of black inferiority. Citations from classic racist literature. Debunked by innumerable academics. The argument was based on numerous faulty assumptions, statistical monkey business and appeal to racist inclinations. Not peer reviewed before publication. No support for the genetic claims made in this book has ever been found. [more...]
NEW 5/19/2017: Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century
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NEW 5/18/2017: Vast literatures as mud moats [More...]
"Vast literatures" can be a waste of time when they are propaganda, content-free, or generally erroneous. Demands that you familiarize yourself with vast literatures before you argue can be mere rhetorical strategies, rather than genuine requirements for understanding. [more...]
The siren song of homogeneity [More...]
There is a strong strain of racism in some libertarian factions. This article discusses the claims about homogeneity in depth, and finds that it does not necessarily create distrust and it is impractical to recreate. [more...]
Don't Be Churlish About Taxes; Look To Scandinavia [More...]
" I suggest right here and now that we regain the framing on taxes. Especially in the age of Trump, we need to make tax evasion to be the act of someone who hates this country, not of being "smart."... Taxes are the costs for living in a society. We should want to make this nation a stronger society, not begrudge our contribution to the nation's collective happiness." [more...]
World Happiness Report [More...]
A UN report. "Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy." Detailed explanations of the social foundations, key determinants, and workplace requirements for happiness. [more...]
Why shouldn't we attempt to maximize happiness, among other values? Especially for the lowest incomes. Libertarianism presumes markets maximize happiness (if is considers happiness at all), but "money can't buy me love." [more...]
Happy as a Dane: 10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World
The "secrets" are trust, education, freedom and independence, equal opportunity, realistic expectations, solidarity and respect for others, work-life balance, relationship to money, modesty, and gender equality. [more...]
Refutation of Dogmas by Empirical Economics
Much of the economics recited by libertarians is Derp, but many older economics ideas have had a long evidence-free existence that is now being clearly refuted by modern empirical economics methods. [more...]
Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong [More...]
"People who worked in agriculture or market selling earned about as much money as they could have at the factory, often with fewer hours and better conditions. We were amazed: By the end of a year only a third of the people who had landed an industrial job were still employed in the industrial sector at all." [more...]
There is a huge literature on the known harms of sweatshops, but these are usually excused by theoretical benefits. Now literature is appearing that shows the supposed benefits aren't really there. [more...]
Propaganda, Marketing and Public Relations
Major industries whose entire purpose is to create impressions without regard for truth. This enables manipulation of the masses for greater power and profit. All work with the same principles. [more...]
The tax haven in the heart of Britain [More...]
"The corporation is an ancient, semi-alien entity lodged inside the British nation state; a "prehistoric monster which had mysteriously survived into the modern world", as a 19th-century would-be City reformer put it. The words remain apt today. Few people care that London has a mayor and a lord mayor - but they should: the corporation is an offshore island inside Britain, a tax haven in its own right." [more...]
The City of London Corporation: the state within a state [More...]
"And the chances of the UK government taking active steps to rein in the City's powers and privileges are also close to zero, since this government and its predecessors, have been almost wholly captive to the interests of financial capitalism." [more...]
Money Laundering and the City of London’s “Crime Scene”: Haven of Tax Havens for the Mega-Wealthy [More...]
"When it comes to The City of London, the term ‘tax haven’ is not describing all that it should. It doesn’t just shield the mega-wealthy from paying their fair dues it goes further and offers a departure from the rule of law as you would know it. Secrecy is its raison d’être. These secrecy laws do not benefit the local people living in its jurisdiction but only those individuals and corporations with enough money and with something to hide." [more...]
City of London
The City of London, roughly a square mile of financial district in London proper, is an actual, existing charter city. Business voters vastly outnumber residents and roughly 400,000 workers commute in and out. It is the center of a worldwide web of tax avoidance and crony capitalism, and the real reason why libertarian ideas of charter cities will fail: they cannot compete. [more...]
Is It Time to Break Up Google? [More...]
"We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy." [more...]
Digital Monopolies
Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Facebook are the 5 largest companies in the USA. Why? Because they are all natural monopolies due to network externalities that rely on intellectual property protections. [more...]
We can't let John Deere destroy the very idea of ownership. [More...]
"Over the last two decades, manufacturers have used the DMCA to argue that consumers do not own the software underpinning the products they buy -- things like smartphones, computers, coffeemakers, cars, and, yes, even tractors." [more...]
Lead: America's Real Criminal Element [More...]
"The hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic... Put this all together and the benefits of lead cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $200 billion per year. In other words, an annual investment of $20 billion for 20 years could produce returns of 10-to-1 every single year for decades to come. Those are returns that Wall Street hedge funds can only dream of." [more...]
Phase-out of leaded petrol brings huge health and cost benefits-- United Nations–backed study [More...]
"The California State University study cites the massive benefits the phase-out has brought, including more than 1.2 million fewer premature deaths annually, 125,000 of them of children, with tests showing lead in blood levels dropping dramatically by 90 per cent or more, particularly in cities... It is estimated that $2.4 trillion in costs have been saved each year, equivalent to 4 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP)." [more...]
Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep.
There are many types of freedoms that benefit the powerful while harming the weak. Libertarians are almost always in favor of those. Regulation is needed to eliminate those harms to the weak. [more...]
Rationality (Economics)
Rationality has a special meaning in economics, having to do with ideal models of human thinking that generally do not match what humans are actually capable of and are known to do. Humans use other methods instead: see Actual Human Rationality. [more...]
Why the 101 model doesn't work for labor markets [More...]
The Econ 101 supply-and-demand model is just not a good description for the labor market. Supply-and-demand graphs are for one single commodity; labor is highly heterogeneous. [more...]
Coercion and the “Taxation is Theft” Argument [More...]
"The belief that taxation is theft obviously implies that property rights are absolute or at least high in value. But why on earth should property rights rank above human life?" Also Ludwig von Mises declares "There is, however, no such thing as natural law." [more...]
Come See the Violence Inherent in the System [More...]
"The video is violent and repulsive, but only insofar as all property and contract enforcement is. The forceful removal of the passenger is not an extraordinary aberration from our civilized capitalist order. Rather, it is an example of the everyday violence (and threatened violence) that keeps that capitalist order running." [more...]
Loren Lomasky: Taxation is Not Theft [More...]
"It is, therefore, not only misleading but also an exercise in borderline incivility to equate taxation with theft, for if it is then taken in its straightforward sense, that pronouncement denies the legitimacy of the social order and announces that I regard myself as authorized unilaterally to override its dictates as I would the depredations of a thief. It says to my neighbors that I regard them as, if not themselves thieves, then confederates or willing accomplices to thievery." [more...]
Taxation Is Not Theft [More...]
"The situation can be compared to a private club that charges a membership fee in exchange for providing benefits and amenities to its members. Obviously, the club is within its rights to charge whatever price it believes fair in exchange for this. If you believe the price is too high, you’re free to renounce your membership and leave the club. What you’re not free to do is to refuse to pay, but demand that you still be allowed to sit in the club and use its facilities." [more...]
No it’s not your money: why taxation isn’t theft [More...]
You have neither a a legal right nor a moral right to your entire pre-tax income. [more...]
Brazil’s Largest Food Companies Raided in Tainted Meat Scandal [More...]
Libertarians routinely deny that the scandals of "The Jungle" (100 years ago) had anything to do with reality. But here is a real-life, current example of how capitalist meat companies will sell adulterated and tainted meat if they can. That's why we have the FDA. [more...]
Nickel-and-dime socialism [More...]
The shock doctrine adoption of capitalism in Russia resulted in millions of early deaths. Increasing the socialism in a mixed economy can be done gently and gradually with social wealth funds, retaining thriving capitalism. Social wealth funds are already common worldwide, and can be greatly increased, primarily at the expense of the top .01%. [more...]
False Claims to Rationality and Logic
Many libertarians make ridiculous claims to logic and rationality. Simple test: can you construct a coherent chain of syllogisms to the beliefs and conclusions of these authors? The answer is always no. [more...]
Skepticism of Rationality [More...]
Ask your average person what rationality is, and they will inevitably come up with a charicature, like Spock from Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes, Mentor of Arisia, or some other fictional character. Political and philosophical arguments are full of claims about rationality of postions, all contradicting each other. What do we really mean by the word rational? [more...]
Actual Human Rationality
Human reason consists of MANY methods besides logic, notably informal fallacies and heuristic reasoning. [more...]
Usually, "rational" is a Humpty-Dumpty word, that means whatever the user finds is convenient to club his oponents with. Either by defining rationality to specifically disclude an opponent's methods (as objectivists do) or by making rationality so diffuse that all the users methods are included (much the same way new-agers use the term "energy". Actual human rationality consists of MANY methods besides logic, notably informal fallacies and heuristic reasoning.) [more...]
Natural Law or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy
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Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach
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The Right to Private Property
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Behavioral Law and Economics
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Contemporary Ethics: Taking Account of Utilitarianism
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Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
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Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few
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Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
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Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President
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Property in Land and Other Resources
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Poison Tea: How Big Oil and Big Tobacco Invented the Tea Party and Captured the GOP
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Propaganda & Persuasion
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How Do You Know?: The Economics of Ordinary Knowledge
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The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy
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All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All
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Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?
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Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective
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Public Revenue without Taxation
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Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
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Inequality: What Can Be Done?
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Education and the Commercial Mindset
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Socialism (propaganda)
The great bugaboo of Capitalism because it threatens the wealth of the very rich. But a normal part of every nation's Mixed Economy: law, rights, property, police, defense, roads and other infrastructure are all socialistically produced. Capitalists view any social ownership as an opportunity for their own private ownership, and thus denounce socialism. [more...]
The thousands of U.S. locales where lead poisoning is worse than in Flint [More...]
"A Reuters examination of lead testing results across the country found almost 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in the tainted Michigan city. Yet many of these lead hotspots are receiving little attention or funding." [more...]
The Hidden Monopolies That Raise Drug Prices: How pharmacy benefit managers morphed from processors to predators [More...]
"If you have drug coverage as part of your health plan, you are likely to carry a card with the name of a PBM on it. These middlemen manage prescription drug benefits for health plans, contracting with drug manufacturers and pharmacies in a multi-sided market. Over the past 30 years, PBMs have evolved from paper-pushers to significant controllers of the drug pricing system, a black box understood by almost no one. Lack of transparency, unjustifiable fees, and massive market consolidations have made PBMs among the most profitable corporations you’ve never heard about." [more...]
Pharmacy Benefit Managers
Middlemen who manage prescription drug benefits for health plans. They are unregulated and oligopolistic, taking a very large cut of revenue from pharmacies and customers. Because their methods are not transparent, drug companies, insurance companies and pharmacies don't even know how much they are paying these middle men. [more...]
Facts About Fees [More...]
"Hidden credit card and debit card swipe fees inflate the cost of nearly everything consumers buy, even when they pay cash. Consumers pay hundreds of dollars every year in hidden fees just for the "right" to swipe their cards. That money -- about $50 billion every year -- goes directly to banks and credit card companies and is more than twice what was paid in credit card late fees and three times ATM fees." [more...]
Credit Cards
Credit cards assess a hidden tax called the Interchange Fee. It is the money withheld from the merchant by banks and credit card companies to pay for the privilege of using a credit card in the transaction. This tax also frequently falls on cash customers, because credit card contracts with merchants generally provide that merchants cannot reveal the tax with a surcharge for using a credit card. Merchants can offer cash discounts, but most do not, charging the same prices, and so cash customers subsidize credit card fees. This is VERY big business, due to oligopoly in the industry. [more...]
Private Taxation
Markets also produce their own forms of taxation. Credit cards, prescription drug purchasers and many others have hidden fees for third parties that operate just like taxes in creating deadweight losses. Government taxes are spent for public benefit offsetting deadweight losses, but private profit from hidden private taxes doesn't. [more...]
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...]
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...]
Propaganda techniques [More...]
The Wikipedia list of techniques. You'll have encountered most of them in libertarian videos, readings, etc. [more...]
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...]
Milton Friedman on Illegal Immigration [More...]
Milton Friedman makes a number of erroneous claims about immigration. [more...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
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
"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...]
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...]