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Rickenhacker
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Seems much simpler to me: libertarians usually affect an absolute absence of concern for the wellbeing of anyone else, a personality trait which most other people find repellent. Randians even regard such concern as an evil! There are also specific cases of market economics that people get irrationally angry about, but libertarians defend (making people even angrier), e.g. "price gouging". Folks do get on a moral high horse about their "right" to obtain some specific luxury at what they believe to be the "rightful" price, e.g. concert tickets that are incredibly scarce with high demand, and they really don't like the truth: there are many reasonable definitions of "fair allocation", and you personally might not get a ticket under some of them. The horror!
Toggle Commented May 16, 2015 on Hating libertarians at Stumbling and Mumbling
"In this sense, Hayek's message has shifted. Whereas it used to support dominant western institutions, it now undermines them." More like a full circle. At the time of his first brush with fame, the planned economy was the dominant idea and Hayek was dismissed by contemporary mainstream thinkers - the Road to Serfdom is practically the classic cry from the wilderness. Then decades later, a brief currency under Thatcher/Reagan, but only because they were dismantling the relics of the previous wave of planning. Now (as you say) belief in omniscience is back firmly in fashion. Marketeers get seduced by the idea that the market itself will be smart, and will take care of us; that it knows what we want, not just because it is made of us, but because it somehow transcends our petty impulses and does the information processing (the thinking!) for us. The truth is that while it does act as a process that handles incomprehensible amounts of information, and it does transcend us as it encompasses us, even so it does NOT know what we want. It's much more like the weather than we'd prefer. Or like natural selection: under no obligation to produce more pretty butterflies rather than poisonous worms. I don't think its a coincidence that the classic "I, Pencil" ultimately resolves to a call to faith in God... "limited rationality", indeed.
Toggle Commented Apr 28, 2015 on The knowledge problem at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Min - you're way off! "If what we call intelligence were inherited and beneficial to the individual across societies, then we should all be geniuses by now." Compared to other species, we are. But many of the genes that make us human have multiple extant alleles, and so there is variation in most of the measurable traits. Evolution absolutely does not predict that all individuals of the same species will end up identical. Indeed, it's the pool of variation that necessarily drives future evolution. "the descendants of slaves are still low on the totem pole. Genetic differences in competence are amplified or obscured socially and economically." The number of black college students in the US has doubled in the last 20 years. Also, the highest educational attainment of any ethnic group in the US is that of immigrants from African countries; immigrants from Nigeria are more than twice as likely to have a college degree than white Americans. So there is clearly vast scope for educational attainment to be improved (or damaged) without tinkering with anyone's genome, and there is no evidence at all linking the genes that determine skin colour to any traits affecting education results. (Not directly anyway; indirectly there is a kind of link, but only via widespread racist assumptions surviving during the handful of generations since slavery was officially abolished.)
"... farmers' markets... the internet is undermining the media and music industries... These are examples of everyday decommodification." Are they? Suppose markets like food or media are sewn up by a small number of large, top-down organisations. Yes, they may face external competition against other such corporate entities, but internally they do everything they can to avoid market relations between their employees. In such an economy most people experience it as feudal. The boss does his annual potato harvest report via Powerpoint, people are promoted or fired on the whim of managers in a strict power hierarchy, etc. Conversely when new technology emerges and provides a way for individuals (or small groups thereof) to bypass the intrenched corporations and sell direct to their customers, then the economy becomes more dynamic, more entrepreneurial, more like the Hayekian ideal, more like a buzzing hive of bourgeoisie expansion, and so therefore less feudal. So your examples are more likely signs of a new flourishing of capitalism from the bottom up, overthrowing examples of temporarily re-emergent feudalism. These things happen in waves - new technology is unlikely to emerge perfectly smoothly, there will be fallow periods during which relations settle down, interspersed with bursts of rapid, chaotic revolution, in which all fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
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Aug 3, 2013