Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lying about open carry: if the small lie doesn't work, switch to a big one.

First there was talk of an "assault rifle", now the popular press is making claims that people have been brandishing firearms at the so-called "town hall" meetings concerning health care reform?

What next? Will the word "discharging" be used for carrying? "He discharged his assault rifle into the crowd"?

There is plenty of footage of most of this open carry, and there have been hundreds of witnesses. So far, neither film nor witness reports show that anyone at these events has brandished a weapon.

An assault rifle is by definition a switchable full automatic. And to brandish one must by definition take the weapon into hand. That's not disputable; these are the common meanings of the terms and to use them any other way is to report falsehoods, that is, to lie. End of story.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The most ridiculous health care protest yet.

Proponents of the Obama Administration's plan for crowd-out of private health insurance, the "public option", and wacky positions even farther to the left (single-payer, Europe-style price controls with a market veneer, etc.) are now calling for a boycott of Whole Foods. Phoenix "Liberal Examiner" Marlene Phillips has the best Web article on of the subject.

Apparently, they're upset about Whole Foods CEO and co-founder John Mackey's recent Wall Street Journal guest opinion calling for market-based reforms and private generosity instead of the Democrats' crowd-out plan. (Mackey has remarked on the public response, too.)

That Mackey is and has been for a long time what could be called a "libertarian"--of what variety, I don't know--is old news. See, for instance, his exchange with Milton Friedman (in which T.J. Rodgers also participated by foaming at the mouth about Mackey's "collectivism" like your average Libertarian Party meeting nutcase). Note that the exchange is about the social responsibility of business, and that Mackey's position is probably close to that of the boycott proponents.

I suspect that the lefties proposing a boycott feel somehow betrayed, expecting Whole Foods higher-ups to believe the same as they do about politics. The vulgar leftist thinks that his politics are the necessary consequence of his values. If these characters took the time to learn the "whys" of Mackey's position it would do them well. A person with humane values who understands economics tends toward economic liberalism, that is to say, toward support of free markets. That concern for others that has some of the leftists supporting greater government intervention has people like myself and Mackey instead calling for less.

If you would like to just try to make the world better for people, don't learn economics, and don't be surprised if someone like me calls you on confusing righteous intentions with right action. If you would like to learn how to actually help people, learn economics. Figuring out why Mackey supports what he does--a little bit of Google is all it will take--is a good way to start.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top article on Google News for a hot keyword.

This is a good feeling! Search Google News for flag@whitehouse.gov and my Nolan Chart.com article is at the top. For some reason they're giving the wrong author name, but who cares?

A summary: I recommend reporting all "fishy" left-wing claims about health care or health care reform to flag@whitehouse.gov and suggest a few to watch for. Follow the above link to read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yglesias presents an intelligent libertarianism. There's a problem:...

In response to a remark by Tyler Cowen, left-"progressive" 'blogger Matthew Yglesias presents an intelligent libertarianism.

It is an intelligent libertarianism, albeit a somewhat loopy one, that has libertarianism as an esoteric doctrine so as to benefit from gains from widespread belief in capitalist meritocracy. It also shows Yglesias to be either much more of a pessimist or much less versed in basic econ. than I suspected.

The trouble is, although it is an intelligent libertarianism, it's not a libertarianism in which any libertarian I can think of believes. Cowen's take on "progressivism", on the other hand, was an idealization of the real "progressive".

Most of the really vocal and obnoxious libertarians (e.g. the Lew Rockwell crowd) do not believe in an intelligent libertarianism, but those whose libertarianism is intelligent believe something quite different than Yglesias's sketch. They do believe that growth makes most concerns about the justice of the current distribution misguided. (Considering the sum of wealth to be static is perhaps the unifying error of left-wing thinkers from Rawls forward.) But they also believe that people can or ought to be able to get ahead by doing well for others--that laws and regulations ought to be ordered to bring this about--not that people merely derive benefit from believing this. Think, for example, of Mises's remark that profit is obtained by doing in the marketplace what others want.

There is, of course, more to any intelligent libertarianism (e.g. Richard Epstein's, Will Wilkinson's) than this, but it's fairly common.

A remark at the beginning of his post is independently worth considering:
It’s initially tempting to respond to that by listing the intelligent points that I’ve heard made by libertarians, and then explain how a sound progressive politics conducts by incorporating those critiques and moving forward to a higher synthesis.

This is also how a sound libertarianism is constructed. We're seeing this happen: the libertarianisms of Will Wilkinson, Tyler Cowen, Richard Epstein, and Brian Holtz (and myself) are all heavily influenced, in different ways, by the left-liberal and left-"progressive" critiques of old libertarianism. This is a major source of conflict in the movement--the old folks don't really know what to make of it. To them modern libertarianism is "watered down"--the young folks really believe exactly as they do but "compromise and conceal" it. To modern libertarians, however, the libertarianism of Dave Nolan or Jacob Hornberger is a degenerate folk-libertarianism full of ignored subtleties and cognitive dissonances. (Don't ask me in what camp to place the aretaic theories of Rasmussen and Den Uyl; I don't know.)