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July 6, 2015



You Don't Know Me

Eddy Arnold & Cindy Walker ©1955

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


July 5, 2015

Review Corner

Market prices, as we'll see in the next section, guide each of us to act as if we know about-- and as if we care about-- the preferences and well-being of millions of strangers.
ThreeSourcers with a low utility for economics books are in luck today. Don Boudreaux's The Essential Hayek is free on Kindle today. I think I paid 0.99.

What is more, this is not some dusty 920 page tome that will demand a year of your life. Boudreaux takes ten important concepts from FA Hayek and presents them with very accessible commentary in ten short chapters. You can read it while you pretend to watch the big soccer game this evening.

Boudreaux is a favorite of mine (blog brother Bryan sent me a photo of his office door when visiting George Mason University) and he does a great job selecting topics and explaining Hayekian insights. Hayek contributes so substantively to liberty theory, but his style is not pithy and much of his work was targeted at academics. Yet so much of ingrained belief around here is presented forcefully by Hayek: the power of freedom in markets, the dangers of centralization and coercion, and the fundamental power of ideas:

Marx, of course, was a man of the political left. Stigler was a man of the political right. Yet according to both Marx and Stigler, ideas are determined; ideas do not determine. Marx and Stigler each was driven by the idea that nothing as intangible, as subjective, as unobservable, and as unquantifiable as mere ideas could play a significant role in driving a society.
If George Stigler were correct that government policies are driven only by special-interest groups-- and therefore that the ideas that people have about the "rightness" or "wrongness" of policies are irrelevant-- then governments wouldn't bother to portray farm subsidies and the creation of other special-interest-group privileges as being in the public interest. The very dishonesty and duplicity that is so common in the pronouncements of all governments, today and in the past, testify to the power of ideas.

There can be no doubt that ideas have consequences.

Boudreaux pulls off a nice analogy to refute the demand-side arguments of Keynes and Sec Robert Reich.
If you have all of the parts of, say, an automobile scattered randomly about a large room, the main reason you do not have a functioning car is not that you do not want, or that you fail to "demand," such a car. Instead, the chief reason you have no functioning car is that those parts aren't fitted together in ways that allow them all to operate smoothly.

What puts the car together? Prices. Yes some people will be hurt. But every price support, tariff, and top-down control mechanism delays the assembly of the functioning vehicle.
It is regrettable that the process of unwinding unsustainable investments takes time. But lasting economic health requires that such unwinding occurs. Unfortunately, during the time required to unwind the unsustainable investments there is indeed a great deal of economic suffering. And, understandably, there are many appeals to political authorities to ease the suffering. As we'll see in the next chapter, political authorities too often respond to these appeals with policies that only mask and worsen the problem.

It's easy to think that Hayek is telling the injured party to eat cake or hear "sucks to be you" in his Austrian accent. But reading the whole short book provides an appreciation for the equality and opportunity provided by free markets.
As Hayek himself understood, however, the case for freedom and free markets must continually be rejuvenated and made again and again and again. The project is never completed, as more recent political developments in Britain and the United States attest. Opposing ideas-- those of collectivism of one form or another-- are always being generated, refined, and spread. Failure by classical liberals and other defenders of a society based on free markets and strictly limited government to counter these collectivist ideas will guarantee the victory of collectivism.

Five stars. C'mon, it's not like you're going to miss many goals or anything.

But Don Boudreaux thinks:

Thanks so much for this kind and excellent plug!

Posted by: Don Boudreaux at July 6, 2015 3:40 PM

July 3, 2015

I Find it a Great Debate Topic

Happy Independence Day -- and accept an official "America, F*ck Yeah!" from Eric Cartman and me.

But one of our gifts is free speech. And Dylan Matthews at Vox has used those rights to publish a linkbait provocative piece: "3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake." Matthews cites Britain's earlier abolition of slavery, the statistical anti-despotic qualities of parliamentary systems, and better treatment of native people under British rule in Canada.

My conservative buddies got the vapors. "Vox truly does hate America," says a commenter at Friends of Best of the Web. But after rebuilding the White House after the War of 1812, we've been pretty good buddies with the Britons. I'm down with American Exceptionalism, but we've stumbled and the greater UK (especially including Virginia in a counter-factual) can claim great defenders of liberty and human rights. We split over a pittance of a tax on tea and ended up with Lois Lerner.

So, no, I burst with pride but don't consider the suggestion treasonous.

Today, Megan McArdle responds on Facebook "to quarrel with is the breathtaking amount of exogeneity he assumes." It is not exactly the wind of butterfly wings to prevent the creation of the most powerful economic and military power. Yet, McArdle points out, he assumes every other bit of history happens essentially the same. It's a smart response. No rights chatter, no flag waving, just piercing reason (because Britain ignored natives in the frozen tundra, would they have left them in peace on a rich continent? What resources would they have employed to stop Southern rebellion?)

When the United Kingdom passed us in Heritage/WSJ's "Index of Economic Freedom" I confess I wondered what our blood purchased. Contra Matthews and McArdle, I prefer the dreaded gridlock (not the gridded dreadlocks) of our Madisonian Republic; that bug is a feature to me. The Bill of Rights protects our speech and privacy and self defense far better than in Canada or the UK.

But maybe King George could have granted greater autonomy and we could have stayed with the crown but implemented the best parts of Republican ideals. I dunno. Treason?

But Keith Arnold thinks:

"In England itself, slavery was illegal at least going back to 1772..."

According to my watch, that was four years before we officially parted company. George could have extended that to the Colonies Across The Pond, and then the whole argument would be moot. But he didn't. It took another several decades and the efforts of an amazing man named William Wilberforce to get Old Blighty out of the slave trade.

"America would have a better system of government if we'd stuck with Britain..."

Says a partisan of the government that could have averted World War Two. Thank you very much, Neville Chamberlain.

He goes on to describe how much better the British system is, because there is no gridlock, and no irreconcilable differences between monarch and Parliament. The best example he can cite: "In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax. So there was a carbon tax. Just like that. Passing big, necessary legislation — in this case, legislation that's literally necessary to save the planet — is a whole lot easier with parliaments than presidential systems."

I'm sorry, was that supposed to be an argument FOR the British system, or against it? Because I'm confused.

The Founders wisely decided that the citizens themselves would be the best safeguarders of liberty. In Merrie Olde, the elites decided to inflict a carbon tax on the people, and because enough of the elites agreed, the proles got to bend over and take it. Here in the land of Sic Semper Tyrannis, free people have - up until recently, at least - prevented our elites from imposing a long list of folly on us -- things like Kyoto, gun confiscation, and any number of other bits of mayhem that the serfs of other countries now endure.

So, IMAO, Dylann Matthews is more than welcome to fold his ignorant opinion in half and shove it back up into wherever he pulled it out of, enjoy Londonistan and what remnants are left of what was once a great nation up until about a hundred years or so ago, and he can take Piers Flippin' Morgan with him while he's at it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 3, 2015 3:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2015 4:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:
But maybe King George could have granted greater autonomy...

Well, he had his chances. Many of them, in fact. Instead he chose to commit "a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states."

And besides, he was a King. Man can not long endure life under the dominion of another man. Like the President of the United States, for example.

Happy Independence Day, y'all! To a great extent, you ain't.

Posted by: johngalt at July 4, 2015 10:13 AM
But Jk thinks:

All the Progressives love a Parlimentary system -- Wilson called for it in his academic work.

Appreciate and agree with the comments. Plus the World never gets the Declaration or Constitution. A great loss.

For a real holiday treat, read both if Randy Barnett's excerpts from his forthcoming book. Awesome on stilts!

Posted by: Jk at July 4, 2015 4:43 PM

July 2, 2015

I Think we should start following other people...

"This man [Justice Thomas] does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America." -- George Takei
I stopped following George Takei several months ago. I miss his clever puns and intellectual humor, but as mentioned before, his single issue-advocacy was too-frequently contrary to liberty.

On the one hand, Hollywood media guy goes on leftist rant does not even rise to the level of "dog-bites-man." But this is an important story because a) Takei has finally chased me completely away; but more importantly b) it plays into a very interesting piece I read yesterday. Sulu -- fire up the Internet Segue Machine™!

Scott Shackford at Reason wrote a short post that has kept me in constant reflection:

Is This Where Libertarians and the Gay Community Part Ways?
In the 40-some-odd years since the Libertarian Party took such positions, we've seen the end of sodomy laws, the end of officially sanctioned government discrimination against gay employees, both civilian and military--and with Obergefell v. Hodges, the end of government bans on same-sex marriage recognition. We've seen the end of just about every government policy that treats gay and lesbian citizenry as somehow less than the heterosexual citizenry.

So: Is that it, then? Have supporters won, after all this time? Should we move on to other issues of liberty?

If I can be more flippant than Reason, no, Takei and his cohorts will move all battle resources to person the cake police barricades, uproot religious freedom laws, and generally call for more government coercion.

I decry the small percentage of libertarianism in the polity and jested on Facebook "Oh boy, Libertarians: the party that adds by dividing!" But Shackford is dead nuts on (ooh, poor word choice...) the alliance ended June 26, 2015.

UPDATE: Proof Deux: "Hillary Clinton, Loudly and Proudly, Taps Into a Vein of Support Among Gay Voters"

Hat-tip: James Taranto

But nanobrewer thinks:

He was declared the winner in RedState's contest of "who'd be the worst winner." My best friend has also stopped following him.

I'm sad that Takei's long standing humor was simply masking an ugly, angry ignorance and not a sign of wisdom at the marvel and folly of the human experience. I hope he's over it soon.

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 4, 2015 9:02 AM
But AndyN thinks:

I think this pretty much hits the nail on the head...

Posted by: AndyN at July 6, 2015 8:26 PM
But jk thinks:

@AndyN: I did see that after I posted this. Awesome!

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2015 9:36 PM

July 1, 2015

Happy Fourth

But johngalt thinks:

Ummm, it's not the "Fourth of July" holiday, it's "Independence Day." Derrick Wilburn sez, "It's time to end 'the 4th of July.'"

Now on to the video.

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2015 11:05 AM
But jk thinks:

Wilburn is correct. But, to use an analogy which might hit home, "that horse has left the barn."

In my time with the startup, I spent the first week in July in Ireland every year to welcome the new fiscal year. In stores or pubs, Irish people went nuts to wish an American "Happy Fourth." I felt they made a bigger deal of it than my native countrymen.

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2015 12:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair 'nuff, but when my horses "leave the barn" (which they are known to do on occasion) I go get them and put them back in.

Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2015 12:54 PM
But dagny thinks:

Actually, usually I go get them. Just sayin'...

Posted by: dagny at July 2, 2015 1:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Happy Independence Day.

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2015 1:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2015 2:25 PM

I hope he's wrong

It's pretty chilling, what Eric at RedState states:

A newspaper in Pennsylvania has declared it will no longer allow letters to the editor opposed to gay marriage because it is a fundamental right.

The Los Angeles Times refuses to run letters pointing out that global warming is a scam. [nb: ok, this goes back to 2013, and the debate continues]

Twitter can declare support for traditional marriage to be hate and turn off accounts, mine included.

MSNBC will run news stories on the rise in hate groups that, no doubt, the Southern Poverty Law Center will list. That list will include all orthodox Christian churches.

but his finish is strong.
[The Left] will now work extra hard to push conservatives forcibly into a ghetto of thought. The overarching goal will be to convince you that no one agrees with you and there are no voices echoing you

I was quite disturbed by this the other night; but know we will not go down w/o a fight.

Posted by nanobrewer at 12:05 AM | What do you think? [1 comments]
But jk thinks:

Mark Steyn, whom I appreciate immensely but almost never agree with, had a riff the other day someone quoted. If you'll take it third hand from memory he points out that Conservatives have had incredible electoral successes. Republicans now have the House and Senate and 31 Governorships.

Yet, Conservatism to a Millennial, says Steyn, is only the punchline to a Jon Stewart joke.

Glenn Reynolds used to say the Koch Brothers or Karl Rove would be better off buying a couple Women's Magazines than Super PACs. (Though, to be fair, the Kochs are looking pretty good with drug reform and gay marriage.)

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2015 10:50 AM

June 30, 2015

Review Corner

ThreeSources's favorite miniskirted libertarian philosopher has a new CD out.


It is awesome. Philosophically friendly, melodic, just great. Five stars.

Music Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM | What do you think? [4 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

I evangelized the Musgraves message on Denver talk radio last evening. I suggested "Biscuits" [first link above] as a bumper song on The Michael Brown Show (KHOW 630 AM). He played it out of the very next commercial and let it run through two verses, talking over it in places, and concluding, "That's a very good message. Live your own life."

For your amusement, here is our text message thread:

Me: Mike - Ask Angie to bump "Biscuits" by Kacey Musgraves. You'll both love it! Listeners too.

Mike: Ask and you shall receive...

Me: Mike you guys made my day! My kids thought it was cool too. :)

Mike: Glad to make your day!

Yes, I'm easily amused.

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2015 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Liberty lovers must take their victories as they arrive -- well done!

The lovely bride is just as smitten as I and this rolls in le condo d'Amour three or four times a day. Where not JS Mill classical liberalism, the lyrics are just homespun wisdom or great fun.

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2015 5:39 PM
But jk thinks:

If y'all ain't careful, I will start a KM Lyric of the Day:

Mama cried, when she realized I ain't pageant material . . . it's not that I don't care about world peace but I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage.

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2015 6:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at July 2, 2015 10:52 AM

It's good to be the Co-op Executive!

Mel Brooks, call your office! It may be good to "be the King," but heading a State Exchange (and we learned this week that they are all state exchanges) ain't so bad...

The six-figure co-op salaries are two to four times higher than the $135,000 median executive healthcare pay reported in an October 2014 nonprofit CEO compensation study published by Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is a nonpartisan group that tracks philanthropic and charitable organizations.

I had to expand the browser to see Colorado's, because the bar went so far to the right:


Well, at least they're doing a swell job! Hat-tip: Mark Tapscott guesting @ Insty

But johngalt thinks:

C'mon man, you're guilt trippin' these hard-working government employees like they're one-percenters or something! It's not like they're paid more than 10 times the lowest workers make. At $466k, Colorado's Obamacare Exchange CEO receives only about five and a half times what an Apple Intern gets ($85k including housing allowance.)

Besides, they're only paid with taxpayer money. No harm to you unless you're filthy rich, right?

Posted by: johngalt at June 30, 2015 2:55 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If you're going to invoke Mel Brooks on this topic and in this thread, you need to make the obligatory reference to:

"We've gotta protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen!"

And given the current state of things, this is a perfect moment to invoke Blazing Saddles. But really, is there ever a bad one?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 30, 2015 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Diversity Day at the University of Colorado, Boulder?

Posted by: jk at June 30, 2015 3:06 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Didn't Bernie Sanders vote for this?

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 1, 2015 12:03 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)