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Image credit. Reports Hit & Run: Today Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado, arguing that marijuana legalization there is having spillover effects on neighboring states and should be reversed because it violates federal law. The two states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that Amendment 64, the legalization measure that Colorado voters approved in 2012, is "unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Supremacy Clause" because it conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act. The source. Make sure to look at background information, especially on the Supremacy Clause, in this article entitled Nebraska and Oklahoma Sue Colorado. And The Washington Times reports here. Continue reading
Posted 22 hours ago at RedStateEclectic
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Ross Kaminsky writes in The American Spectator on Obama's most recent remarks concerning the Keystone project: The president summarized his strange dilemma as follows: “[Keystone] could create a couple of thousand potential jobs in the initial construction of the pipeline, but we’ve got to measure that against whether or not it is going to contribute to an overall warming of the planet that could be disastrous.” But this thinking hinges on three key — and false — assumptions. First, that whatever carbon dioxide or pollution (note that I did not say “or other pollution” since CO2 is plant food, not pollution) would be generated in the building or operation of Keystone will not be generated in whatever other method ends up being used to transport oil from Canada through the United States. Second, the usual climate alarmist assumptions, namely that humans are having a substantial impact on the climate and that a warming of the planet is likely to be harmful. Third, and most important, the implicit assumption that climate change — even if you believe the alarmists’ claims — is the only risk worth considering. The entire article. See also Au Revoir, Keystone - Canada Going It Alone, Red Herring in the Pipeline, Anti-Energy Madness, The Amazing Julian Simon - (1937 - 1998) - (2/3). Continue reading
Posted yesterday at RedStateEclectic
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With Laura Ebke, senator-elect, less than a fortnight away from taking up her duties at the Nebraska legislature, I get increasingly interested in issues concerning the states, the federal government, and federalism in modern politics. Michael S. Greve writes about the somewhat strange emergence of state AG offices as key veto and opportunity points in American politics. How did that happen? [...] Long story very short (the snark is mine): this wasn’t started by corporate honchos but by their foes. When the federal government embarked on de-regulation way back in the 1980s, pro-regulatory constituencies migrated to the states. State tort law and prosecutions under state and federal law became substitutes for regulation, and state AGs formed a symbiotic alliance with the plaintiffs’ bar. The corporate fixers are just fighting back. And note that the deck is stacked against them. The trial lawyers need only a single state AG to unleash a prosecutorial firestorm on a national basis. To stop it, the corporate guys and gals have to run the table. The AG-trial bar alliance has proved lasting to this day. Make sure to read the entire article at the source. See also Federalism + Partisanship = Improved Public Good? Continue reading
Posted yesterday at RedStateEclectic
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The below text on chaos and complexity and the video on "intermediary conditions" are related to my The Gap of Intermediary Conditions, where I write in a comment on Richard Epstein: In the end, the best answers [on many hotly debated issues, G.T.] rely on educated hunches by persons who work within the field, who may differ substantially in their conclusions. (Richard Epstein) [Classical] Liberalism's predetermined breaking points ( = unconvincing arguments) derive from one of its strengths: a passion for coherent theory. From which, in turn, springs the ambition to capture the world completely in a system of principles, lemmata and their logical implications. But theories are only approximations, ephemeral stages in the process of accumulating new insight. In the end, theories lead us to discover their dark, uncharted side, calling for their own revision. They make us see and understand intermediary conditions that we had been unaware of before. If a theory can hold its own in the face of new and more intermediary conditions, it has earned itself another lease of life. Otherwise it ought to be discarded or it can survive only in the form of an unreasonable ideology. Freedom as Method These are only preliminary thoughts which I hope to expand into a theory of "freedom as method" - by which I mean a method of looking into genuinely open ended issues in such a way that the presumptions of liberty help understand better and convincingly, though not exhaustively, issues contested in the public arena. There are plenty of questions that we liberals do not have conclusive answers to - but we may have an excellent method to improve on these problems asymptotically. I feel, there are many occasions where the liberal should give up his posture of rowdy opponent (in possession of the final answer) in favour of a role as intelligent contributor (adding to cumulative improvements). The source. The below video shows a graphic example of how intermediary conditions work. By the "the gap of intermediary conditions", I mean: the premises and predictions of your [political] belief system fail to link up conclusively; the consequences of adhering to your principles take a different path than predicted, owing to the influence of overlooked intermediary conditions. Politics is a way by which to discover and (hopefully) judiciously react to the occurrence of intermediary conditions. Apparently, a river works like politics: Under the rubric "food for thought," consider Coilander and Kuper's nice description of how two often confused terms, complexity and chaos, differ and interrelate: Chaos theory is a field of applied mathematics whose roots date back to the nineteenth century, to French mathematician Henri Poincaré. Poincaré was a prolific scientist and philosopher who contributed to an extraordinary range of disciplines; among his many accomplishments is Poincaré’s conjecture that deals with a famous problem in physics first formulated by Newton in the eighteenth century: the three body problem. The goal is to calculate the trajectories of three bodies, planets for example, which interact through gravity. Although the problem is seemingly simple, it turns out that the paths of the bodies are extraordinarily difficult to calculate and highly sensitive to the initial conditions. One of the contributions of chaos theory is demonstrating that many dynamical systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions. The behavior is sometimes referred to as the butterfly effect. This refers to the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might precipitate a tornado in Texas. This evocative—if unrealistic—image conveys the notion that small differences in the initial conditions can lead to a wide range of outcomes. Sensitivity to initial conditions has a number of implications for thinking about policy in such systems. For one, such an effect makes forecasting difficult, if not impossible, as you can’t link cause and effect. For another it means that it will be very hard to backward engineer the system—understanding it precisely from its attributes because only a set of precise attributes would actually lead to the result. How much time is spent on debating the cause of a social situation, when the answer might be that it simply is, for all practical purposes, unknowable? These systems are still deterministic in the sense that they can be in principle specified by a set of equations, but one cannot rely on solving those equations to understand what the system will do. This is known as deterministic chaos, but is mostly just called chaos. While chaos theory is not complexity theory, it is closely related. It was in chaos theory where some of the analytic tools used in complexity science were first explored. Chaos theory is concerned with the special case of complex systems, where the emergent state of the system has no order whatsoever—and is literally chaotic. Imagine birds on the power line being disrupted by a loud noise and fluttering off in all directions. You can think of a system as being in these three different kinds of states, linear, complex, or chaotic—sitting on the line, flying in formation, or scrambling in all directions. … Like chaos theory, complexity theory is about nonlinear dynamical systems, but instead of looking at nonlinear systems that become chaotic, it focuses on a subset of nonlinear systems that somehow transition spontaneously into an ordered state. So order comes out of what should be chaos. The complexity vision is that these systems represent many of the ordered states that we observe—they have no controller and are describable not by mechanical metaphors but rather by evolutionary metaphors. This vision is central to complexity science and complexity policy. The source. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at RedStateEclectic
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... I still have to clean up the kitchen. She: "C'mon, darling, say something dirty." He: "Kitchen." Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Getting pulled over by the police is never a pleasant surprise, but this holiday season the police department in Lowell, Massachusetts decided to change that. A police officer was pulling over unsuspecting victims for minor traffic violations, and then would casually ask them what they or their kids wanted for Christmas. Meanwhile, he would secretly tell his team of "magic elves" that were hiding out at a nearby store and they would buy those gifts and run them over to him. The police officers felt it was important to take the time to show their citizens just how much they care, and you can see in the citizen's faces just how much it made their day. The source. See also Natale a Bolzano. Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Toward the end of the below video Frank Morrison, Nebraska Governor, says: The best guarantee of good government is the character, the vision, and the intelligence of the people who operate government. That is why, I am convinced, Senator-elect Laura Ebke is the right woman at the right place in the Nebraska legislature. Get used to her new workplace: Related articles Laura Ebke, Senator-Elect - First Days after the Victory Federalism + Partisanship = Improved Public Good? In Defence of Democracy The Day the Music Died - The Keynesian Propensity Congratulations - Senator Laura Ebke Freshman State Senators Get Orientation Freshman State Senators Get Orientation Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Enjoy music composed by one of Johann Sebastian Bach's six sons - Johann Christian Friedrich Bach. Four of his sons were composers themselves: Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (22. November 1710 – 1. Juli 1784) Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8. März 1714 – 14. Dezember 1788) Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (21. Juni 1732 – 26. Januar 1795) Johann Christian Bach (5. September 1735 – 1. Januar 1782) The portrait displayed in the above video erroneously depicts Wilhelm Friedemann. Related articles Net Neutrality Explained The Day the Music Died - The Keynesian Propensity Laura Ebke, Senator-Elect - First Days after the Victory Preferring Smith Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (1/3) Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit and the source. Prices at the gas stations have dropped precipitously, but I have not heared yet reactions from detractors quick to accuse "big-oil-dirty-capitalists" of exploiting consumers by raising prices avariciously; where are their praises for this sudden charitable change of mind in the magical tycoons who can send prices where they like? Other joyous attainments of the world of commerce remain unnoticed, too - among the most remarkable is what Arthur Brook identifies as the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it. 80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before. Read more at the source. Also, see my Enculturated Poverty. Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Continued from Why It Is Not True That ... (2/3) 8. The black-and-white aspect of politics also encourages people to think in black-and-white terms. Not only do political parties emerge, but their supporters become akin to sports fans, feuding families, or students at rival high schools. Nuances of differences in opinions are traded for stark dichotomies that are largely fabrications. Thus, we get the “no regulation, hate the environment, hate poor people” party and the “socialist, nanny-state, hate the rich” party—and the discussions rarely go deeper than this. No doubt, partisanship can be exaggerated to the point of becoming dangerous and destructive. I am not going to repeat what I said above about political dichotomies being the very rationale (among other rationales) of practising politics, and the many features of a modern political order dedicated to attenuating the most detrimental effects of radical antagonisms. My purpose is not to reject out of hand the authors misgivings about politics, but to show that in their criticism they are looking at only one side of the overall story. We tend to indulge in a rationalistic perception of politics, which is natural as we are apt to assess most political arguments in as rational a way as we are capable of. For this reason, we may not feel particularly inclined to recognise "the sense in the nonsense" that much of politics may bring about, the symbolic, ritualistic and sublimational functions of politics which help build and structure, maintain and develop multi-ideological communities. See my The Symbolic Function of Politics. Symbols and rites can serve the function of ordering society, i.e. keeping it in a working condition especially by preventing violence and oppression. The symbols and rites of bipartisanship may well serve the purpose of a war dance that replaces the need for outright war. I believe, it is necessary to focus far more than is customarily done on the spontaneous order of politics and the state, which may well contain features that turn politics into a valuable part of modern civilisation without anyone intending the system to work and have effects as it does, thanks to overall results achieved by human action but not by human design. As in the spontaneous order of the economic world, ignorance is a key challenge that needs to be met by the political order for a modern civilisation to emerge. We are hugely ignorant vis-à-vis the countless topics that tend to occupy the political mind. Some of that vacuum of ignorance can never be filled with secure knowledge. We resort to unreliable, woolly, and non-scientific ways of filling the void. Sure, we begin to tell one another stories that may be well on their way to scientific respectability, but many of them may have no hope to ever become more than just-so stories. See my Just-So Stories in Economics and Politics - Consequences for Liberty. 9. Politics like this is no better than arguments between rival sports fans, and often worse because politics is more morally charged. Most Americans find themselves committed to either the red team (Republicans) or the blue (Democrats) and those on the other team are not merely rivals, but represent much that is evil in the world. Politics often forces its participants into pointless internecine conflict, as they struggle with the other guy not over legitimate differences in policy opinion but in an apocalyptic battle between virtue and vice. Again, in human communities, especially in large ones, we cannot help but face fundamental differences of some kind or other in our views and objectives. We shall hardly be able to ever get rid of that phenomenon. In fact, freedom encourages diversity of opinion and vision. I cannot see how anyone, including us libertarians, should be able to determine for the rest of us what counts as legitimate differences in policy opinion - it is part of politics to compete over this question. Also, I cannot see that we libertarians refrain from an apocalyptic battle between virtue and vice. We are part of the symmetric pattern that is being formed by opposing discussants. Political opposition has an experimental side to it. We need to find out, what it is that we disagree about and what avenues may open up to resolve differences. Furthermore, political opposition has a ritualistic side to it (see also my remarks under section 8 above). There are a number of powerful reasons to form partisan groups (see below), and if a population is divided among two or three major, traditionally viable camps, this may be a sign of stability, especially if being part of a camp means that (a) one's strongest convictions and political feelings are powerfully represented in the political system and that (b) therefore there are overwhelming incentives to keep the competition non-violent, non-oppressive, and open for challenges and new developments. Being part of a very strong camp can be a "relaxing" experience, i.e. encouraging trust in the prospects of non-violent negotiations, alternating preeminence (in government) and compromise (on the level of the operative bureaucracies in which political fiat is ultimately hammered out). So what matters is how we deal with antagonisms. The principles of liberty are one of the means by which we attempt to keep the level of tension reasonably low among millions of people with different and even incompatible preferences. Why do we become partisans? A political agent that is powerful - intellectually and in the exercise of influence - can be helpful in reducing (subjectively experienced) rational ignorance and strengthen one's sense of responsibility and engagement - "alone I cannot do anything about outrage X, but as member of a larger group, I can." In that way, partisanship creates leverage that people will always seek, for better or worse. Having said that, we should expose such leverage to criticism where it malfunctions, but we should also be sensitive to instances of success, which certainly exist - a partisan community improving ones's knowledge and furthering a worthwhile cause. Also, there are natural and legitimate reasons... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Continued from Why It Is Not True ... (1/3). 4. But do we really want to live in a world where politics is so important to our lives that we cannot help but be politically involved? Many, both on the left and the right, answer yes. A politically engaged citizenry will not only make more decisions democratically but also be better people for it. From communitarians to neoconservatives, there’s a sense that civic virtue is virtue—or at least that individually we cannot be fully virtuous without exercising a robust political participation. Politics, when sufficiently unconstrained by crude individualism and sufficiently embraced by an actively democratic polity, makes us better people. If I grew up and lived a life facing no prospects of punishment and other forms of resistance constraining my behaviour, it would be rational and natural for me to steal, kill, and lie, just when it suits me, and do a lot of other things that under the real circumstances of my life I find abhorrent and would never engage in. Politics is about organising, defending, enforcing, and changing the constraints that we must observe while living with other human beings. Sure, tradition and other evolutionary processes play an important role, but man is always faced with the challenge to establish by conscious effort which values and taboos are to count as socially preeminent. People cannot take a permanent holiday from working on the normative frame by which to live. There are no super-markets with products on their shelves like a can of "being nice to everyone" or a bottle of "total mutual agreement in America." The forms of political participation are multifarious (especially in a civil society), they can be expected to be shaped by tendentially efficient structures such as a division of labour among more or less politically active members of the community, and, most importantly, political participation ought to be free for every citizen inclined to join the competition for political influence. It is not unreasonable to assume that an open access political order is an important prerequisite for conditions that induce and constrain people to treat each other as if by this they have become better people than in a society less concerned with the individual's desire to be represented or otherwise effective in the political world of her community. It is mankind's lot to live in a world where politics is so important to our lives that we cannot help but be politically involved. We cannot change that condition, but we can hope that he who has a need for it will be free to get involved in politics. No less than the free market, politics is all about competition; you must get engaged and fight hard to get your objectives recognised and acted upon as intended. If you want something of a political nature to happen, there is got to be someone who cannot help but be politically involved. Too many terms are used as if they had only one meaning, when, in fact, they can be used to point at very different situations. Political apathy is one such term. Some of the political apathy that people remark upon may indeed be regrettable, but a lot of it is to be welcomed, as it is an indication that the political system works reasonably well and that there are hard workers at it, so called politicians, that practice political participation in a way that leaves us more content than we are willing to concede. The political division of labour works - tolerably well. It is intrinsically difficult to seek for a political system where (a) high levels of active mass political participation are not required, leaving people free to pursue other goals, AND (b) expect that politics must be free from decisions that any given non-participant among that huge majority may feel not to be representing her. In a word: you cannot have suitably low levels of mass political participation without systematic and chronic attacks on the fairness and effectiveness of the political system - which is one of the lasting imperfections in politics. More direct democracy has limits of feasibility that make themselves felt quickly as a study of the counterproductive outcomes of direct democracy in the Greek polis reveals. In a bad political system, you must put up with politicians who do not always do what you want. In a good political system, you must put up with politicians who do not always do what you want. Yet, there is a huge difference between both systems. 5. Yet the increasing scope of politics and political decisionmaking in America and other Western nations has precisely the opposite effect. It’s bad for our policies and, just as important, it’s bad for our souls. The solution is simple: when questions arise about whether the scope of politics should be broadened, we must realistically look at the effects that politics itself has on the quality of those decisions and on our own virtue. We might need a new epithet to describe the partisan propensity to regard an instance of what appears to them an important political defect as being part of a chain reaction that inexorably leads to a dystopian state which is bad for our souls. How about the domino illusion? True, there are dominoes that fall, but they do not fall in a perfect and fatal cascade, some remain errect, some are being picked up again, and new ones are set up as well. In paragraph 3 above, I have already tried to convince my readers that the increasing scope of politics and political descisionmaking in America has aspects to it that no one of us would wish to miss. So this is a real option, too: politics may increase in scope and the world is getting better for it. It is not helpful to ignore this important fact. Indeed, there can be no good political theory that does not take cognizance of the full range of significant effects achieved by politics. As for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, research fellows at the CATO Institute, have written an article entitled Politics Makes Us Worse. Below I shall comment on each of the thirteen paragraphs of which their article consists. Powell and Burrus are making many valid points, but they spoil their take by over-generalisation, which is the cardinal defect underlying the libertarian presumption against politics. In that way, the arguments displayed in Politics Makes Us Worse are almost a mini primer containing many of the central misconceptions of politics entertained in libertarian circles. First, it is in order to comment on the title the authors have chosen: Politics Makes Us Worse. It can be inevitable, and in some cases even useful, to introduce phrases that come over more strongly than the wider message they are intended to support - such as, say, in a socially well-understood and accepted exaggeration (like "Americans are great people.") Such is the case with the title of my present post - I do not believe that politics makes us better; rather I think politics can make us better, but it also can make us worse. Moreover, politics can have functions and effects that do not relate to the issue of people becoming better or worse. Hence, in the text I qualify the title's bait. The authors do not make any such qualification whatsoever. I am therefore entitled to take the statement - politics makes us worse - as an absolute. And precisely therein lies the difficulty with their position, which is representative of the attitude maintained by a large number of libertarians. In the below text, the authors' phrasings are indented and completely in italics, followed underneath by my comment (without emphasis): 1. Increasing the sphere of politics leads to bad policy and increased vice. By and large, the freer a country, the more likely it is to allow political engagement by any citizen interested in such activity, increasing the sphere of politics compared to a closed access society where the privilege of participating in politics is reserved to a small ruling elite. It appears that the absence (as in Mabutos's Kongo) or the retraction (as in Nazi Germany) of such freedom leads to increased vice, rather than the other way around. An interesting special case might be provided by a class of countries that do not have a democratic political order, yet enjoy the status of favourites in the eyes of many libertarians, such as Hong Kong or Singapore. To begin with, the absence of a Western-type democratic political order does not mean that politics, with all its pluses and cons, is not happening in such countries. The relevant processes may be less familiar to the Westerner, naturally more opaque, or it may be the case that in order for the political goings-on to become more transparent to an observer, she must seek intimate and enduring participation in the social life of the respective countries. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that Hong Kong and Singapore have benefited from other people having done politics in their stead - namely the British people, who exported practices and institutions of a modern civil society to these two places. Excellent conditions for commercial advancement (enabled by the imported model of a modern Western civil society) combined with an impoverished population eager to take advantage of the opportunities to grow materially more comfortable, the people of Hong Kong and Singapore may have had low demand for democratic politics for a number of decades. They certainly had strong governments whose political orientation and political decisions were decisive for the economic success of both places. Indubitably, politics has made Hong Kong and Singapore better (places to live in). 2. Even if we try to ignore it, politics influences much of our world. For those who do pay attention, politics invariably leads in newspapers and on TV news and gets discussed, or shouted about, everywhere people gather. Politics can weigh heavily in forging friendships, choosing enemies, and coloring who we respect. What the authors want their readers to focus on is a part of politics fraught with problems and unpleasant challenges: the divisiveness in politics, the ways in which politics creates division, and enhances or exploits it. What the authors do not see is that politics is the only way in which we can hope to deal with issues that drive us apart. What the authors do not see is that we cannot ignore politics - understood as dealing with the inevitable fundamental disagreements that the social order of a viable community must come to grips with. Politics communicates, resolves or attenuates strife resulting from the manifold sources of significant disagreement among human beings. Bashing politics in total is like rejecting tragedy and drama in human affairs as a needless luxury willfully created by the bored and playful. Of course, try as we may, we cannot ignore politics - it is part of the human condition. Of course, politics influences much of our world - which is full of dissent and potential for oppression and violence that needs to be kept under control. The compromises of politics will tend to be imperfect, because the more fundamental disagreements among human beings will not go away, when our political arrangements help us to avoid the crassest, bloodiest, and especially destructive forms of battle. 3. It’s not difficult to understand why politics plays such a central role in our lives: political decision-making increasingly determines so much of what we do and how we’re permitted to do it. We vote on what our children will learn in school and how they will be taught. We vote on what people are allowed to drink, smoke, and eat. We vote on which people are allowed to marry those they love. In such crucial life decisions, as well as countless others, we have given politics a substantial impact on the direction of our lives. No wonder it’s so important to so many people. Does political decision-making really increasingly determine so much... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. James R. Otteson has a readable article entitled Adam Smith vs Ayn Rand on Justifying the Free Society where he explains among other things why Smith could see a valuable place for "publick works," including education, in a free society. Whereas the Randian would raise a principled objection against any kind of state incursion (including in education) on grounds of violation of individual rights, the Smithian is willing to entertain the possibility, but shifts the burden of proof on to the proposer and maintains a high threshold to initiate action. This is simultaneously a strength of Smith’s position and indicative of a weakness of Rand’s. Smith’s intellectual humility prevents him from believing that he can excogitate rules for human behavior applicable to all times and all places. Instead, like an Aristotelian empirical scientist, he adopts conclusions tentatively but subject to further empirical review. This gives him a reasonable starting point based in observed reality. Yet it also allows for innovation and flexibility, as the dynamics of human society changes. Let me now conclude with one final point. Recall this famous passage in Smith: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages” (WN I.ii.2). That sounds rather Randian, does it not? But what Smith saw in market transactions was not selfishness—as many people, both friends and foes of Smith, claim—but respect: it was peers meeting one another and making offers to one another, each of them respecting the other enough to recognize the other’s authority to say “no, thank you” and go elsewhere. What a profound and deep respect it shows others not to impose one’s own will, values, or purposes on them, not to require permission from or beg the mercy of “superiors,” and instead to recognize each person’s moral authority to say “no.” The political economy Smith endorsed could, therefore, not only be demonstrated empirically to lead to material prosperity and the alleviation of human misery, but it also instantiated and exemplified the morally beautiful equality of individual human freedom. The source. Otteson invokes a graphic distinction between Planners and Searchers among those assuming responsibility or following ambition in hoping to change the quality and nature of society. Planners try to impose universal orders; Searchers instead try to find specific problems where they can make marginal, ground-level differences. [...] Searchers get good work done, marginally and gradually improving the world one step at a time. I believe, the efforts of politicians and political engagement in all kinds of other functions (campaign supporter etc.) are necessary and commendable, if they contribute to the work of the Searchers rather than that of the Planners, to use the terminology of the article mentioned above. In fact, we can not come by the advantages of the Searchers' work unless people start getting seriously involved in politics. See also The Successful Person and Ayan Rand - "I Do Not Fake Reality and Never Have" Relatedly, Russ Roberts on How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: Related articles Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903) - Illiberalism within Liberalism - The Liberal Virus of Pessimism Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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"Eins kommt zum Anderen" (literally "one comes to the other") - is a phrase suggesting (in the below context) that one bad thing is leading to another bad thing, as might happen when your boss gives you a dressing-down, which, in turn, puts you in a foul mood, so you say something stupid to your wife, who gets angry with you ... The gentleman, Jürgen Klopp, is the coach of Germany's (normally at least) second best soccer team: Borussia Dortmund. While performing brilliantly and dominating its qualifying group in the prestigious and highly lucrative European Champion's League, Borussia is miraculously unsuccessful in Germany's top soccer league: the Bundesliga. After a series of consecutive defeats, Borussia is now under enormous pressure in the national competition, when at the same time playing the best teams of Europe (like Arsenal London, tonight) still seems to Borussia like a walk in the park. I like how "Kloppo" retains his sense of humour, laughing about himself as he realises his English is not getting him where he wants it to take him. Later in the clip, "Kloppo" comments on Arsenal's last match in the English Premier League, when "the Gunners" were clearly better than Manchester United, yet lost 1:2 at the end of the day. While not occupying a relegation position in the national league, as Borussia Dortmund bizarrely does, Arsenal is not doing well in the English league either. However, advises "Kloppo", Arsenal are "strong, if you let zemm be strong [... so, not to let them be strong ...] zatt is our chopp:" UPDATE By the way, playing rather badly, Dortmund lost 0:2 to a consistently superior Arsenal. As an afterthought concerning Thanksgiving: in the below video, we are witnessing a series of "mouth fouls" (playing the ball with your mouth/beak), and I am not even sure that there is a rule prohibiting the use of your mouth in soccer. So, is carrying the ball with your teeth/beak a special case of a header? A Texas Turkey header? See also Massacre at Malo Horizonte, and Sporting Kansas City ... Related articles Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund: Jurgen Klopp flies in to make the hotseat just a little warmer for Arsene Wenger Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. One of the things that struck me during the year that I spent in Berlin, just after the infamous wall had been torn down, was the intensity of antipathy, even hatred, I dare say, that some of my West German colleagues displayed vis-à-vis their new East German collaborators. At bottom, it was a matter of Futterneid - literally: jealousy about food. Berlin used to be a place spoiled with lavish subsidies - to make sure people would find it attractive to live, work, invest, and produce in the enclave city. Burdened with the heavy costs of integrating a bankrupt socialist economy into a Western-type society, Bonn decided to cut many of the Berlin-subsidies. One of the cases I had on my desk was a big-name piano manufacturer, who threatened to go belly up - the music was going to die, basically because the Berlin-subsidies had been withdrawn. Why do I mention this? I suspect, the Berlin-subsidies were a form of widespread Keynesianism, whereby the idea of a subsidy is enmeshed with other concerns, which in themselves may or may not be objectionable. In other words, there is a human propensity to act like a Keynesian, which to some extent, I think, we cannot or even should not discard entirely. Could West-Berlin have survived without the subsidies? Would Berlin have ended up a capitalist eyesore, without subsidies; or, contrariwise, had it become the eyesore that it looked to me before 1989 thanks to all sorts of pampering leniency, including easy subsidies? What measures would have made Berlin something like a free-market-shining-city-on-the-hill amidst the communist desert? The Bonn Republic, being profligate herself in terms of handing out countless subsidies, would Berlin politicians have stood a chance by arguing in favour of "no subsidies"? Would a good politician have been better advised to play along with the regime of subsidies, and once elected get some genuinely good policies accomplished, rather than quitting the game for reasons of being strictly principled? No doubt, there are groups, persons, and politicians of the shamelessly self-serving type, there are the fatuous, and the fatuously self-serving kind; but when the public good is an open issue with many different answers to it, I suppose, sound principles and arguments alone are not good enough to bar excesses or preclude less than meticulous compromises and mixed solutions. Ultimately, it would seem that in a large number of cases there is no hindrance to bad politics that is more effective than better politics. I just wonder, how hard it is for politicians, especially on the municipal and state level not to avail themselves of public resources. Also, to spend or not to spend public resources, is it always a matter of clear-cut discernment? This is not supposed to be an argument in favour of Keynesianism; but where public resources are substantial, as they are under modern capitalism, public life tends to get interwoven in countless ways with the Keynesian thread, and people grow accustomed to the gifts of the visible hand. Until the day the music dies. But in all that confusion and in the face of so many doubts, it is wholesome to get the basics right, and who better to turn to for that than Steven Kates. Steven, whose Free Market Economics, I strongly recommend for perusal both by layman and expert, has a most readable piece on the fortunes of economics, economies and the Keynesian legacy, the post being part of an exchange with a French Keynesian. Nothing to lift an economy like public investment! Every business like the post office. Every investment another Solyndra. All subsidised with nothing self-sustaining through the revenues it earns. Dig a hole and get fill it [sic?] in again. Don’t worry about earning a greater return than the funds outlayed. Just close your eyes and spend. Don’t worry, it will all work out once that magic multiplier cuts in. [...] On this much we can agree, that the world’s economies are in a mess. Consumers deep in debt, savings eaten away by low productivity government spending, and private investment going nowhere. [...] It is not aggregate demand that matters, but value adding aggregate supply. You must do more than build brick walls, you must build where what is built actually contributes to future prosperity. To think more holes dug up and then refilled can generate recovery because it constitutes “fiscal spending” is the essence of economic illiteracy. [...] In times gone by, before Keynes, economists talked about “effective demand”, that is, what had to happen to turn desire for products into an ability to buy those products. Now it is aggregate demand – the total level of demand – which has leached the original concept of any understanding that for everyone to buy from each other, they first have to produce what each other wish to buy. If that is not obvious, then common sense has gone from the world. The source. As for facile references to austerity, Daniel Ben-Ami offers an insightful post on the meme. See also Government - High-Cost Producer. Related articles QE - Financing the Inefficient Sector Recessions - What Not to Do about Them Transparency and the Art of Faking Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. For the quick reader, find a summary of my argument at the bottom of this post. There are basically two (classically liberal) approaches to liberty, one based on the harm principle, while the other approach admits to its premises the benefit principle in addition to the harm principle. Liberty and the harm principle Richard Epstein characterises the harm principle thus: In setting out individual rights and duties, we must embrace principles of individual autonomy, private property, and voluntary exchanges in order to insulate these productive human activities from the ravages of force and fraud. (Principles for a Free Society, p. 320) The locus classicus is found in Mill: That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to pro­duce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over is own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. John Stuart Mill (1859): On Liberty, chapter 1, paragraph 9. As Richard Epstein notes, the conception of freedom based on the harm principle alone has often been seen as treating force and fraud as the only problems worthy of a collective legal response, and thus has been frequently attacked as ignoring the wide range of holdout, coordination, and networking problems that arise in any complex society. Ibid. Incidentally, I do not think that a strict application of the harm principle is feasible, nor would its best approximation really achieve the aims of liberty, for it would create a situation of anarchy, where everyone has to fend for himself, which corresponds to a very low level of human development with hardly any division of labour. There will be a lot of anthropocentric freedom favouring the roaming or the stationary bandits (of Mancur Olson's primordial state) that soon tend to dominate such a primitive anarchist environment, but no/little sociogenic freedom, which latter we, classical liberals, have in mind, when we speak of liberty. Liberty and the benefit principle At any rate, to improve on the deficits of a concept of liberty solely based on the harm principle, classical liberals have come up with what Epstein describes as a more complete theory of laissez-faire which acknowledges the need for legal rules that forthrightly govern both common property and forced exchanges. In those cases where voluntary exchanges cannot achieve potential widespread gains, public force may take up the slack to achieve the desired social outcome - the win/win situations not obtainable by private agreement. Ibid. As the benefit principle involves coercion in that it will be applied in the face of non-concurrence, it may be more precisely defined as the principle whereby - under certain conditions - one should receive compensation for benefits conferred on others without their consent. Liberty and the harm principle plus the benefit principle Now, Epstein offers a crucial observation, which to my mind, indicates both the important task of "freedom as method", as well as the fundamental incompleteness of freedom, which forces us to figure out creatively and competitively solutions that liberty does not carry implied within her premises and principles. Accepting that [benefit-]principle does not clear the path for the promiscuous use of state power. Rather it requires some clear showing that the individuals subjected to state power all benefit on net from the program that has taken or regulated their property. Ibid. The benefit principle as such does neither necessarily lead to egregious miscarriage of state power nor does it of itself protect us against such abuse. The reason why is that some clear showing that the individuals subjected to state power all benefit on net from the program that has taken or regulated their property is mostly, and in many crucial cases, not possible. The competitive efforts at a "clear showing" are manifold, amounting to a dramatic show of multitudinous dissent and Babylonian confusion in their own right. There is no single argument, theory, or philosophy that can tell you what the common weal is: "the benefit on net." We must conspire to huddle more or less comfortably under the umbrella of a rickety pretense of knowing what that common good might be that persuades us not to cut each others throats. That is the very best we can do. This marks the most momentous disagreement that I have with Richard Epstein, whom I admire greatly for his classical liberal reconstruction of law and the Constitution. As liberals, I am suggesting, we can make plausible proposals as to what constitutes the common weal ("freedom as method"), but we are no more capable of proving our point of view as objectively valid than does any dissenting party. We, the citizens of a country, may end up very broadly in agreement in that we accept by and large actions carried out under the benefit principle, but this can not be based on an accurate reckoning concerning each issue or even the overall proportionality of state coercion/taking and benefit by the people. Politics - the fuzzy logic of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. I am getting more and more fascinated by the role that politics and the state play in the history of freedom. For, I am just not satisfied with the accounts of my fellow-libertarians. I believe, much research needs to be done toward and from a renewed libertarian perspective. Institutional change is a fascinating subject, but so is institutional continuity. Matt Ridley has a remarkable piece on the latter issue - why do some things change so little - and in being inert, how do they help freedom survive and grow? Ridley reviews a book by a certain Runciman on how Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, would experience a visit of England 300 years after his death: It is astonishing that the industrial revolution, and the vast expansion of the population that it allowed, did so little to change the main shape and habits of Britain’s political and cultural institutions. [...] For three hundred years Britain has almost uniquely avoided slipping into feudal, theocratic, despotic or military rule. It has remained an untidy mixture of constrained monarchy, permeable oligarchy, imperfect markets, and representative democracy. [...] Defoe lived towards the end of a period of civil war, regicide, restoration, (“glorious”) foreign invasion, Jacobite civil war and the imposition of a new dynasty. Yet in the centuries since, with the exception of Culloden and the Blitz, there have been no battles within the country, let alone civil wars. With hindsight, says Runciman, it was never even likely that Britain would succumb to revolution or dictatorship. The idea of freedom was always too strongly popular: freedom of movement, opinion, assembly, speech, contract, trade and fair trial. [...] If Labour in 1950 had gone to the country with a programme of full communism, or the Conservatives in 1979 with a programme of ultra-libertarianism, both would have lost by a mile. Gradualism was made inevitable by elections, which force parties to respect the cautious instincts of the people [...] Runciman (like me) is a devotee of the theory of cultural evolution, the notion that society changes by the gradual and undirected emergence of new ways of doing things that persist by competitive survival, rather than by grand design. In Darwinian terms, some of Britain’s institutions are sociological coelacanths — living fossils that have changed little while the world has changed rapidly around them. It is hard to think of another nation — only the Vatican or perhaps the Netherlands spring to mind — where the main institutions have changed so little since 1724. [...] On every measure of science, technology and society, we are as modern as you could wish. Yet we manage to be so within national institutions that are little changed from the time of George I. The source. Related articles King George I - From Anthropocentric Liberty to Sociogenic Liberty Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Up until the wee hours, detained by urgent business, I found this when unwinding. The flabbergasting Erroll Garner, once again at it, knocking me out of my chair. See also Erroll Louis Garner. Related articles Government - High-Cost Producer Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled Net Neutrality Explained Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Senator-elect Laura Ebke with (some of) her winning team. Image credit. Laura Ebke, Senator-elect to the Nebraska legislature, keeps us posted regarding the goings-on during the first days after her victory. I've always loved Laura's incisive and graphic writing, and it is exciting and a joy to be able to follow her topical accounts from her new life in the world of state legislature. Share in the delight, go visit Laura Ebke's campaign page. Writes Laura: Third day of orientation is over with. I think most of the senators-elect are getting more comfortable walking through the beautiful building that is the Capitol. We've all figured out where the restrooms are (not an unimportant thing in the first floor office spaces that resemble a labyrinth). We've gotten to know each other--as part of a "class", and I suspect many of us have started to get a feel for hot buttons for our colleagues. Today, retiring senators--Speaker Greg Adams, Sen. John Harms, and Sen. Annette Dubas--spoke to us. They are leaving--term limited out--as part of the first *big* class of senators post-term-limit passage. In the next week or so, I will be creating another page, separate from this campaign page, as well as an "official" Twitter account. On that page (and account), I will (eventually) post those things which will be more official in nature. I'll let you know where I've been and what I've done as part of "official duties"--but that's where I'll also post ALL of my votes (with explanations) for constituents and others to follow along. I campaigned on a promise of transparency--never expecting that everyone would agree with every thing I did, but believing that everyone in the "second house"--citizens of our state--had the right to know WHAT I was doing, and to hold me accountable. I will post a link to the new page here, when I get it set up, and those who are interested in following it, can. This page will then probably go more quiet after the first of the year. The source. I'm looking forward to it. Related articles Congratulations - Senator Laura Ebke I Voted for Laura Ebke 24 Hours till the Polls Open - Laura Ebke for Legislature Update: Vote Laura Ebke - Tuesday, Nov. 4th Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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What does the above picture have to do with the subject-matter of this post? Image credit. See, Rosetta also here, this cold, dark, and ugly messenger from a disappointing and depressing (part of the) universe. What a great place the earth is. The Georgian era deserves a prominent place in the growth-history of freedom - it is part of the historic hinge connecting anthropogenic and sociogenic liberty. For more, see this reminder of George I: an unlikley free market poster boy. We can learn a number of lessons from contemplating the Georgian period, most notably that politics and the state are of the essence in order for freedom to expand and settle into the depth structure of culture and society. The other lesson to be learned from a period that was both enormously conducive to the growth of freedom, and at the same time still overcrowded with situations of unfreedom: We may develop notions of ideal freedom to our heart's content, but in reality freedom can never be complete; she must grow, and being the result of a tug-of-war between the equally powerful human propensities of individualism and collectivism, she must grow crookedly - her nature demands it. It is misleading to conceive of liberty as a process of steady approximation toward ever more complete freedom, like filling a basin by and by with some uniform liquid until it is full to the brim. We ought to challenge and, indeed, reverse the claim that freedom is indivisible - to the contrary, she is necessarily discontinuous, contracting and growing along with states of affairs detrimental to aspects of freedom some of us may consider important and inviolable. Imagine a continuum with no freedom on one end and total freedom on the other. Both extremes are impossible. Anthropocentric freedom Human beings are endowed with capabilities, an urge, and the need to act autonomously. If I were to face Hitler, I might spit at him - that is anthropocentric liberty, the ability to act at one's own discretion, even under conditions highly restrictive of free, personally spontaneous conduct. Man is capable of autonomous action, in considerably larger measure than any other animal. This makes him an agent seeking to expand liberty. In this propensity, man may subdue, oppress, and enslave other human beings - and actually has done so for the longest period in human history. Sociogenic freedom Then there is a quantum leap. The age of sociogenic liberty sees an entirely new form of human culture. Liberty is no longer chiefly a matter of personal inclination, skill and luck; it is now the result of the manner in which we all generally relate to one another by heeding certain rules and refraining from certain forms of conduct. Liberty becomes a social convention or set of practices, a network of rules that are being generally observed. Liberty advances from being a highly restricted personal option to being a social tool liberating (vast numbers of) an entire population. The continuum of freedom It is due to the eternal presence of anthropocentric liberty that there can never be a complete absence of freedom. Think of the man spitting Hitler in the face. And it is due to sociogenic liberty that there can never be total freedom. Put differently, total freedom is conceptually impossible - in a free society people are free to disagree, and disagree they will. Not only will people have different ideas of freedom, there will be people who challenge and violate what others may unanimously regard as representing freedom. Freedom is an ongoing process of finding out what freedom means, and what she can and what she must bear. On the continuum of freedom there is a middle stretch, far away from "no freedom" and far away from "total freedom". It is the range, within which robust (not all conceivable nor all desirable) criteria of liberty are being fulfilled, so that we have an open access society (civil society), which in turn is characterised by considerable independence of individuals and their (private) organisations from arbitrary transgression by other citizens and especially by specialists in violence and governance. Related articles The Successful Person, and Ayn Rand - "I Do Not Fake Reality and Never Have" On the Importance of Politics The Software Revolution in Publishing Recessions - What Not to Do about Them Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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For the quick reader, find a summary of my argument at the bottom of the post. The political philosopher Albert Hirschman coined the terms "exit" and "voice" to contrast the non-political world against the political world. I seem to remember, the terms occurred to him when trying to account for cycles of waxing and waning political engagement in the population. For the libertarian, "exit" means the good world unaffected by political conduct and influence, "voice" represents the mean world of political machinations and imposition. I continue my defence of democracy in an indirect debate with Arnold Kling. Arnold, you write: "I just think that the wisdom of crowds is channeled more effectively through exit than through voice. As for democracy, it is a good way of arranging for the routine replacement of high-level officials. It is otherwise much over-rated." Four questions: First, isn't the "peaceful discharge" feature of democracy, that you consider its best aspect, just the top of the democratic iceberg? Do we not need a lot of democratic play, interaction, and structure underneath before we can hope to avail ourselves of this feature? Second, in light of my hypothesis that you need a lot of democratic substructure to enjoy "peaceful succession," what does it mean to say democracy is "otherwise much over-rated?" Third, is it not a contradiction to favour individual freedom, while at the same time wishing away mass political participation? Fourth, "exit" is a cool term, but what does it mean in a free society with no despotic restrictions to political participation? And finally, personally, as a libertarian, I find it hard to know how to act as the channeller of "the wisdom of crowds." Democracy, I surmise, is the response by which a free society guards against efforts at such channelling. I suspect, democracy is not primarily about fostering and utilising wisdom, but about trust-building among millions of people who are ignorant and rationally ignorant about (1) one another and (2) the conditions of peaceful coexistence on a high level of productivity, playing a game called democracy so as to find and test practices of minimal, non-violent trust in mass society. The outcomes of the democratic game may often be stupid and unpalatable but if condition (2) is consistently maintained, we have achieved a lot. The source. There was this reply: Fourth, “exit” is a cool term, but what does it mean in a free society with no despotic restrictions to political participation? Imagine a world in which many of the services of existing governments — especially large ones — were shifted to some combination of (a) private businesses (b) voluntary clubs (c) social circles and (d) smaller governments, such as municipalities. Then “exit” would mean moving your custom, your membership, your friendship or occasionally even yourself to another partner. To which I responded as follows: Politics and the State (P&S) are inescapable – there is no “exit” from P&S. It seems a case of “déformation professionelle” especially among economists to have a hard time appreciating this. P&S is more fundamental than economics in that it can control more factors vital to individuals and humankind than can be achieved by “well-behaved” market behaviour. The options for economic behaviour are set by P&S. One of the very few economists who did understand that there is “no exit” from P&S is the late Armen Alchian: “To change the move toward socialism, we must change the ability of various forms of competition to be successful. I know of no way to reduce the prospective enhancement from greater political power-seeking, but I do know ways to reduce the rewards to market-oriented capitalist competition. Political power is dominant in being able to set the rules of the game to reduce the rewards to capitalist-type successful competitors. It is rule maker, umpire, and player … But I have been unable to discern equivalently powerful ways for economic power to reduce the rewards to competitors for political power! Each capitalist may buy off a politician, but that only enhances the rewards to political power.” Armen Alchian in The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian, Volume 2, in Economic Laws and Political Legislation, p.604. I don’t think that P&S commits us to an unavoidable movement toward socialism, but be this as it may, my fellow-libertarians’ “economistic” disregard and even disdain for P&S isn’t particularly helpful. The source. SUMMARY: The work of politicians conscious of freedom, like Senator-elect Laura Ebke, and of politically active citizens in capacities other than politician is immeasurably valuable. See also Herbert Spencer... , On the Importance of Politics, Alchian on Politics, Property Rights, Why the State Persists, Glaciers of Peace, Democracy and Freedom, Two Views of Democracy, Trust and Democracy. Related articles Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903) - Illiberalism within Liberalism - The Liberal Virus of Pessimism On the Importance of Politics Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. We're blessed with a mild and colourful autumn over here in Germany. Since the age of 16, I've been a Ron Carter fan. Share my delight. Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Explains the inestimable Coyote: Net Neutrality is one of those Orwellian words that mean exactly the opposite of what they sound like. There is a battle that goes on in the marketplace in virtually every communication medium between content creators and content deliverers. [...] What "net neutrality" actually means is that certain people, including apparently the President, want to tip the balance in this negotiation towards the content creators (no surprise given Hollywood's support for Democrats). Netflix, for example, takes a huge amount of bandwidth that costs ISP's a lot of money to provide. But Netflix doesn't want the ISP's to be be able to charge for this extra bandwidth Netflix uses - Netflix wants to get all the benefit of taking up the lion's share of ISP bandwidth investments without having to pay for it. Net Neutrality is corporate welfare for content creators. [...] Why should you care? Well, the tilting of this balance has real implications for innovation. It creates incentives for content creators to devise new bandwidth-heavy services. On the other hand, it pretty much wipes out any incentive for ISP's (cable companies, phone companies, etc) to invest in bandwidth infrastructure (cell phone companies, to my understand, are typically exempted from net neutrality proposals). Why bother investing in more bandwidth infrastrcture if the government is so obviously intent on tilting the rewards of such investments towards content creators? The source. Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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The art of faking - the above drawing is actually two-dimensional. Image credit. Remember Obama campaigning based on the promise of a decisive turn towards transparency? He was right to champion transparency - but did he and his entourage mean it? Writes Jim Harper of the CATO Institute: The benefits of transparency are hard to explain. Bit by bit, we’re improving public oversight of government, I’ve been heard to say, implying more libertarian-friendly outcomes—never quite sure that I’m getting my message through. Now comes a comment on transparency that articulates its importance better than I ever could. It’s Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber describing how lacking transparency allowed the president’s signature health care regulation to pass. The source. "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass....Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not." The source. Adds the Coyote: By the way, Jonathon Gruber was the one in 2012 who said over and over that the limitation of subsidies to state-run exchanges was not a drafting error, but was an intentional feature meant to give incentives to states to create exchanges. Now that it is clear that incentive did not do its job, and a case is in front of the Supreme Court attempting to enforce the plain language of the law, Gruber is now saying that he mispoke (over and over again) in 2012 and it was a typo. Given the fact that he has now admitted he would gladly lie (and has) to the public to defend Obamacare, how much should we believe his current claims? The source. Looked upon from a different angle: What's up with GruberGate? See also here, and Administrative Creep, Sue and Settle, but also Regulation - Good, Moot, and Malign, and Bureaucracy and Other Half-Truths. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. The place where Senator Laura Ebke will be spending some of her time in exercising her office. With the hostess of this blog having become a Senator in Nebraska's one house State Legislature, issues related to federalism assume particular interest and topicality to me. As for the post's title and the proposition spelled out below, note, however, Nebraska's Legislature is unusual in that it is unicameral and nonpartisan. But what does that mean, especially in regard to the below hypothesis? John O. McGinnis propounds an intriguing thesis. Many people worry about our democracy today because our political parties have become more purely ideological. But federalism harnesses such partisanship and puts it to good use. Because of greater partisanship, we are seeing more states with a unified government in which Democrats or Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature. They are then able to enact a relatively pure version of their parties’ very disparate political positions. With the support of a Republican legislature, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has reduced the power of public sector unions. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has very substantially cut personal and business taxes. In contrast, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy was reelected after raising taxes and making no substantial changes to union power. In California, Jerry Brown was victorious with much the same policies. Such partisan federalism now gives us the chance to observe the results of such policies over the longer term. At its best, democracy is a system where people vote on the basis of consequences as well as values. On many issues there is substantial consensus as to the goals but substantial differences as to how to achieve them. Republicans believe that a smaller government generally leads to better results in economic growth and broad-based prosperity. Democrats disagree. But both must pay attention to results, which can move independent voters and indeed weaker partisans. The source. My posts, including the present one, are never coordinated with Laura Ebke, who generously allows me to express my views as I see fit. The responsibility for the contents of my posts lies exclusively with me. The views expressed in my writing are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, any other person associated with RedStateEclectic. Georg Thomas. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic