A Commenting Suggestion

by Don Boudreaux on October 15, 2008

in Cafe Conversation

Although real-estate in cyberspace is, in a way, free, in another way it’s costly: sifting through all that’s written in crowded cyberspace takes precious time.

So as a first step in reducing the cost of reading and commenting here at the Cafe, I suggest that comments that are merely gratuitous slams — comments that are backed up with neither argument nor data — be ignored.

Here’s an example of a comment, from this post, pasted below in its entirety, of the sort I have in mind; it’s posted by one “Noumenon“:

they don’t change the fundamental point that if worker Jones will produce $26 per hour for Acme Inc. and would produce $25 per hour for Megacorp, then Acme Inc. must pay Jones at least $25 per hour to get Jones’s services

Oh, man, you are such a moron.  I mean, “reality challenged.”

This commenter clearly disagrees with my claim (which he or she quotes in italics).  And it’s fine, even welcome, for commenters to disagree with anything that I, that Russ, or that other commenters say.

But from this comment we learn not a whit of a reason why Noumenon believes me to be reality challenged.  If in a comment a commenter merely accuses others of intellectual or moral deficiencies, without giving some substantive argument to back the accusation, then I suggest that such comments be ignored.  The most appropriate assumption, in these cases, is that such commenters have no arguments to offer and, therefore, content themselves with childish name-calling.  (I add that I appreciate Low Country Joe’s substantive response to Noumenon.)

One other example.  If, say, Muirgeo makes a comment with which you disagree, please do more than call him names.  Engage his arguments and assertions.  Calling him (or anyone else) names is futile; it contributes nothing to the dialog here at the Cafe.

Time is too precious to waste responding to comments that say nothing substantive.

I’ll not delete such comments and responses; I’m merely making a suggestion.

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{ 50 comments }

ben October 15, 2008 at 8:39 am

Executive summary: don't feed the trolls.

Keith October 15, 2008 at 8:41 am

I think that many libertarians viewing the Cafe have responded quite intelligently to the collectivists that periodically post their comments, but after numerous exchanges see no value in continuing to refute opinions that are unsubstantiated. There is little sense in debating somebody who is not listening.

So if you eliminate the editorializing, you're left with one sided opinion with no response (kind of like American politics). I think many people feel that refusing to play is the same as loosing (consequently, you get nasty comments).

libfree October 15, 2008 at 8:48 am

We'd be better off if people followed your advice generally in life. Imagine what a Presidential debate would sound like.

Unit October 15, 2008 at 8:58 am

The posts are what matter. Comments are a guilty pleasure: you read them at your own peril.

Methinks October 15, 2008 at 9:18 am

Engage his arguments and assertions.

First of all, he doesn't make arguments, only assertions. I, and countless others, have tried to engage his assertions for the better part of two years. First, of course, you have to read into his muddled drivel to figure out what his assertions are. A complete waste of time. Every time you engage him, he doesn't even understand what you're talking about and doesn't try to either. Nor does he try to understand his own assertions before making them. There's a basic lack of any thought and any analysis. Any analysis presented in response is ignored in favour of posting more unrelated, discombobulated drivel. You've had no luck getting anything intelligent out of him either. To direct people to do the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result is madness. I can understand doing this with a child, but not an adult.

He is an idiot. I've presented my arguments for why he is an idiot and he subsequently proceeded to illustrate my point. I'm not calling him "names". I'm observing a fact and I'm impolite enough to state it. You and readers are free to disagree.

T L Holaday October 15, 2008 at 9:33 am

Consider implementing a pay-to-comment protocol. What price? A First-Class stamp is US$0.42 today. The "Mencken on McCain" thread would already have brought in US$20.58.

There is no reason to limit the protocol to a single tier, either. Express Mail is US$12.60. Comments with "Cafe Hayek Express" stamps would appear before ordinary comments.

One objection to this protocol is that it would introduce bias. It is claimed that libertarians have higher disposable incomes than collectivists and thus commenting would be more affordable to libertarians. However, a moment's reflection casts doubt on this notion. Due to the very nature of their policy preferences, collectivists ought be willing to pool their resources, and thus overcome the libertarians' individual advantage because ornery libertarians will find cooperation deeply distasteful.

I challenge you to suggest any forum elsewhere on the internet that is a better fit for pay-to-comment than Cafe Hayek.

It is not a big step. You are nearly there at this moment: the button that submits a comment is already labeled Post.

T L Holaday October 15, 2008 at 9:44 am

Methinks,

Note that in six U.S. states, idiots are forbidden to vote. Until the law was changed in 2007, idiots were not capable of committing crime in California.

Your use of hyperbole is simple namecalling, and you should be ashamed of yourself for defending it.

richard October 15, 2008 at 9:52 am

Don,

Why don't you just delete these comments?

It's your (cyber) real estate. Up to you who gets to stay or goes.

It seems to me that you are too much of a libertarian to tell people to 'shut up' (pardon my french)

T L Holaday October 15, 2008 at 10:04 am

richard,

If Don or any other agent deletes comments, orders will not emerge, only filtrate. A price mechanism is the way to go.

Don Boudreaux October 15, 2008 at 10:08 am

richard,

Merci. But I call myself a libertarian only to avoid confusion. In reality I am a liberal — a true liberal, in the sense of Voltaire, A. Smith, and H.L. Mencken. I have no interest in shutting anyone up.

I realize that, as co-proprietor of the Cafe, I have the right to do so, and that if I did so it would be inappropriate to accuse me of practicing censorship. But I like open discussion; I'm not afraid of it; and I'm know that I learn much from it.

Ike October 15, 2008 at 11:14 am

Don –

Maybe it would help to offer my primer on how internet arguments are considered "won" these days:

http://snurl.com/evilsheep

When more people recognize these abuses of logic, they will be more inclined to ignore those who employ them.

Methinks October 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

T L,

Note that Nazis killed Jews and that the sky is blue except when it's grey. Most of your comments have nothing to do with the subject at hand and so you should be ashamed of yourself.

T L Holaday October 15, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Methinks,

Your post appears at first glance to be a gratuitous slam which is backed up with neither argument nor data.

Note that the email address you used for that post was "nospam@aol.com", which is not bonafide.

vidyohs October 15, 2008 at 12:35 pm

No matter how hard one tries to ignore the inane idiocy of the leftist posters when you come across a classic village idiot posting like this one:

"The 2-party system has been a fact of life for most of U.S. history. but I don't buy the belief that both parties are equally bad. The Republican party is downright evil in my humble opinion. Johnson's war on poverty was working until the Republican's dismantled it.
Posted by: Trumpit | Oct 14, 2008 4:28:52 AM"

it is so compelling to laugh at and denigrate the fool that wrote it. Paraphrasing what Keith said above, leaving that out there unchallenged is the same as leaving it out there respected (in effect, losing), and there is no way people who know they are in a war can do that.

"LBJ's war on poverty was working until Republicans dismantled it." My God the depths of the blind stupidity that wrote that is unimaginable.

Don, when denigrating someone's postings I have and will always provide my reasons for doing so, and if unable to present concrete supporting data I also label my postings as opinion; however to ignore driveby stupidity such as muirduck, rn, trumpit, drr, nunya, and others shoot at the Cafe would be aiding and abetting criminals (in my opinion).

Besides it is just so easy to take their own words and let them make their own case for their personal stupidity.

T L Holaday October 15, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Note that Noumenon used the email address "name@company.com", which is also not bonafide. Why do you suppose that is?

Biomed Tim October 15, 2008 at 12:41 pm

"Most of your comments have nothing to do with the subject at hand and so you should be ashamed of yourself"

This may or may not be true. I don't actually read the T L's comments often enough to know. I think the whole point of this discussion is that we should provide evidence for our arguments.

In other words, if Muirgeo's comments lack thought or analysis, it would be helpful to point out what specific thought or analysis could've been there rather than just calling him unintelligent.

Pingry October 15, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Don:

You refer to yourself as a liberal, that is, a true liberal. I am also a true liberal and I feel that this designation is not at risk for misinterpretation among fellow liberals.

But I have always wondered if we should call ourselves "true liberals" or "classical liberals" or "libertarians" among the general public unfamiliar with such semantics.

I have typically resorted to libertarian because describing myself as a classical liberal could confuse people in this country as FDR and his "progressive" ilk hijacked the term liberal.

But also, I have felt that the term "libertarian" has been fallen victim to the same ignorant stereotypes which characterize American liberalism and conservatism.

And, well, I could never call myself a liberal to the man on the street.

Pingry

Methinks October 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Note that the email address you used for that post was "nospam@aol.com", which is not bonafide.

I don't want emails from you, T L. Other than that, I'm deeply unmoved by your emotional flailing.

if Muirgeo's comments lack thought or analysis, it would be helpful to point out what specific thought or analysis could've been there rather than just calling him unintelligent.

Tim, apparently, T L's are not the only posts you don't read before offering suggestions. What part of "I, and countless others, have tried to engage his assertions for the better part of two years. First, of course, you have to read into his muddled drivel to figure out what his assertions are. A complete waste of time. Every time you engage him, he doesn't even understand what you're talking about and doesn't try to either. Nor does he try to understand his own assertions before making them. There's a basic lack of any thought and any analysis. Any analysis presented in response is ignored in favour of posting more unrelated, discombobulated drivel." was so confusing to you?

Let me put it to you plainly: your suggested approach has been tried and it has failed. I will not be trying it again and I will deal with Muirdiot the way I think is prudent. You, on the other hand, are free to respond or not in any way you wish. I think he's an idiot and the last time I checked, I was free to voice that opinion.

vidyohs October 15, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Ike,

I appreciate what you've put up at your blog:

"http://snurl.com/evilsheep
When more people recognize these abuses of logic, they will be more inclined to ignore those who employ them.
Posted by: Ike | Oct 15, 2008 11:14:50 AM"

I have one question. What do you call someone who will agree that when one takes another's property without their consent it is theft; but, somehow sees it as social policy when the taking is done by two or more people? When the person holds that belief through childhood, into adulthood, and holds it today, in spite of all the facts that he bloodies his nose on to the contray, what do you call him?

Ignorant means uneducated on some or many things, the defintion by which we are all ignorant.

Stupdity means an inability to learn.

What do we call muirduck, rn, trumpit, drr, nunya, Gil, and others?

You seem to be reasonable, you put a name to it, if you please.

Biomed Tim October 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm

"What part of … was so confusing to you?"

It wasn't confusing to me. I'm suggesting that it's not useful to the other readers (especially the newcomers) to simply point out that Muirgeo's thoughts lack analysis. I'm sure there are those occasional readers who come here and happen to agree with Muirgeo's ideas. For them I think it would be especially useful to point out how Muirgeo have made logical mistakes.

After all, I seriously doubt your comments are having any effects on Muirgeo's thought process.

John Smith October 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I read frequently, post rarely here at Café Hayek.

Visiting a site regularly one learns the frequent contributors and the value of there commenting, skipping over those with low value.

I appreciate this FREE site. I would like to offer a suggestion; if possible, putting the Posters Name above there comment would make scanning easer.

dg lesvic October 15, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Prof Boudreaux,

About "gratuitous slams," you wrote:

"I'll not delete such comments and responses; I'm merely making a suggestion."

That is certainly a refreshing contrast with the Austrian Economists blog, from which I was banished, for, it would seem, being the object of such comments.

For deleting them would inevitably become the pretext for banning effective criticism, and actually the victims rather than the perpetrators of the offense.

SteveO October 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm

I agree that much short of censoring posts, there are mechanics that could be added to the site to promote better use of the comment board.

1. One occassional problem is a mistake in who wrote what. Many comment boards are configured to alternate the color code of post backgrounds (white, gray, white, gray, etc). Also, putting the name first would be helpful.

2. Comment boards can be set to allow users to block other users that they flag. In this case, if a number of people chose to block a certain poster, the number of recurrent back-and-forth posts arguing with that person would drop dramatically.

3. The "remember personal info" checkbox never seems to work. A more robust system allowing creation of a permanent ID, along with required email verification would cut down on fly-by posters. A small cost, registering and using a valid email, would filter out some of the chaff.

4. I would not be at all opposed to a pay system. Users with a permanent ID could buy credits in blocks. Credits could be as inexpensive as a penny, a nickel or a dime.
With a credit model, much flexibility exists for future changes. For instance, if at one penny per credit, comment threads are still overwhelming, a price change to a nickel should reduce the incentive to post needlessly.
Thread size could also be set to automatically increase the price of posting. As a thread increases in size, more credits are required to post- making it a bigger decision whether to continue inane banter.

Other boards use of voting sytems, "rep", or "cred" only encourages group-think. As usual, a price system is equally fair for everyone. Those who currently post every fifteen minutes would have to make new decisions in a non-free commons.

Ike October 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm

@vidyohs –

You ask a fair question.

The answer is in the notion of a priori and a posteriori.

If one has completely failed to grasp a key concept of a causal relationship, then point it out.

If one is hiding behind convenient definitions to avoid unpleasant or controversial consequences that render their core tenets as untenable, then call them out on it.

If one refuses to see that 6 + 6 does in fact equal 12, then they are "stupid" within that narrow realm of experience. Their "stupidity" is a consequence of a specific, tracable fact. It is "a posteriori".

However, to make a statement with no supporting context, such as "You're wrong about 6+6 because you are stupid" is relying on the stupidity to be "a priori". There is no context.

I can't speak for Don, but I think he's just encouraging us to ignore those who skip to the name-calling without backing it up.

Paris October 15, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Whether he is an idiot or not, Muirgeo is a troll. He does not engage in discussions – he throws bombs and drives away. He ignores what people write in response. As such threads involving Muirgeo become extremely tedious to read. They resemble to worst of "crossfire"-style programs, with people yelling past each other. And I believe that is what Muirgeo wants, because otherwise he would read others' responses and show some awareness of them in his own posts. Instead we get "Groundhog Day" – with Muirgeo provoking the same futile attempts at dialogue and understanding, again and again and again and again. There ARE intelligent leftists out there, and many of them will play ball, and engage in a real exchange of ideas that deepens and develops. Muirgeo isn't one of them. He is like a decoy designed to draw fire and waste everyone's energy. The only good response to trolls is to ignore them – ergo the "don't feed the troll" warning commonly found on blogs.

I was disappointed that such a big point was made of inviting Muirgeo back, because I found him to be a rude visitor who never had the good form to listen and respond. If we want diversity of opinion we should instead open our doors to intelligent leftists willing to engage in discussions in good faith, and not mistake Muirgeo for being an example of such.

So, my advice to readers of this blog, is DON'T FEED THE TROLL. (Resonding to Muirgeo makes for really boring posts).

maximus October 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Paris-
I agree with your points. But I've always been curious as to why people would behave this way? What is their motivation? What do they hope to accomplish? I personally come here to hopefully learn. When i think I might be able to add to the discussion, I post. Otherwise, I for the most part don't,(except once in awhile I just have to respond in a cynical manner because nothing makes my blood boil harder than leftover 1960's ideology). I certainly don't see any value for my time if I were to go over to say, the Daily Kos, and drop a bunch of quotes from Hayek or Friedman and piss everybody off. I have different values than they do. So why bother.

LowcountryJoe October 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm

And, well, I could never call myself a liberal to the man on the street.

Pingry

You really should start, though. It makes for interesting conversation and deeper discussions. It's especially effective (in the sense that it provokes discussion) when you label yourself as a liberal to someone — someone you work with, say — who hasn't previously heard you idenify yourself as such but who knows at least one or two of your ideological positions.

Bill K. October 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Maximus, I've wondered the same thing! Answers anybody? What motivates a troll?

vidyohs October 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Ike,

So the answer is that we call them "posteriori" to avoid the directness of calling them stupid? Somehow that lacks flavor. :-) You used words with syllables, that is not fair.

Okay, so I guess that this is one of the first times you have posted here and it appears as if you might be new to exactly who is who and what the track records are.

I think you'd agree with me that there are subjects that enough data is known and recordered to make possible exact judgment can be made about a persons intellect by the responses he makes and opinions he expresses to/on those subjects. I suggest that two of those subjects are socialism and captialism (free markets non-governmental interference).

The individuals named above have not just now expressed their opinons on the subjects. No sir, they are well known, with the exceptions of rn and drr, the rest are seen regularly or frequently. I can safely say that they are concrete in their refusal to see socialism as theft and the death knell of a society in spite of the historical empirical evidence.

Now sir, if we are playing a game against the socialist and muirduck has the ball and calls time out for substitution, and rn comes in to replace him and takes the ball attempting to advance it, can we not legitimately assume that rn, as muirducks teammate, shares his twisted broken outlook on life? The substitutions are obvious to any intelligent person that reads this Cafe. There is no difference when rn is running the ball when he hands off to trumpit, you still have stupid trying to advance a dead theory that stupid people will not leave buried. They just have to dig up the corpse and expose his stench one more time.

Perciles in 430BC said, "You might ignore politics, but politics will not ignore you."

Lets put that into modern day sports analogy. Perciles said, "You're in the game whether you like it or not."

When we invent a game, we always find that rules are necessary to control the game and keep the impersonal specifics equal. Then we write rules governing personal performance of the players to recognize, control, and punish cheaters. Then inevitably we find that rules are not sufficient to control the cheaters, we need "unbiased" referees to participate. At this point most politically correct wimps would be asking, "why don't you call them non-complying players rather than the denigrating word cheater?" We call them cheaters because the humiliation of that word coupled with the punishment is a more effective punishment than just nonchalantly rectifying their efforts while disguising who and what they are.

So stupid is as stupid does and says. A spade is a spade, not a pitchfork.

In our game, socialist Vs capitalist, the government is supposedly the referee; but, the government is socialist, so we have no impartial referee.

The socialist cheat in every manner possible, including deed and word, then flop in front of the referee when it doesn't go their way and in our game the referee blows the whistle and punishes the nearest one to the flopper.

In closing, ike, in this game, on this (Cafe Hayek) playing field, the players are known because the game has been going on for a long time; and, when substitutions drop in from looney left wing blogs and take our on-field socialist's ball and try to run with it, there is no need to establish the substitute's bonafides as a looney lefty. The fact that he took the ball from a looney lefty and ran with it is condemnation sufficient onto the label, Stupid.

Get my drift, ike?

Sam Grove October 15, 2008 at 8:06 pm

They come here to a blog created by professors professing an advocacy of free markets over politically distorted markets.

They have pretended an interest in learning why free markets are supported here.

Extensive explanations have been made, repeatedly, as to the why.

These explanations are then responded to as if they had not been actually made.

They constantly create straw men to knock down. This is pointed out. Does not make a difference.

They keep spouting the same few lines about "good" regulations and unqualified support for "democracy" as the solution to all problems.

One in particular has claimed repeatedly that a free market has never existed. Yet, at other times has repeatedly blamed the Great Depression and the current mess on free markets.

The contradiction has been pointed out more than once, yet this has never been addressed.

Numerous recounting of manifest government involvement in the market, particularly the financial market have been gone over extensively, yet again the "free market", and "deregulation" are blamed by these visitors.

So, we'd like them to do something helpful to the discussion, such as:

1. Respond directly and thoughtfully to points and arguments actually made with some demonstration that they understand same.

2. Stop re-posting the same assertions we've seen before countless times, particularly when no response is ever made to critiques of those assertions.

3. Stop with the straw men.

I'd just say to hell with it and pass, but I did spend some time on this, so there's my 25 minutes worth.

Methinks October 15, 2008 at 8:13 pm

After all, I seriously doubt your comments are having any effects on Muirgeo's thought process.

Of course not Tim, he doesn't have one.

For them I think it would be especially useful to point out how Muirgeo have made logical mistakes.

Okay. I need some help then. How do you point out the logical flaws in Muirdiot's "argument" that the financial crisis happened because Wall Street paper pushing assholes stole money from the real economy using pyramid schemes and derivatives to steal houses from hard working American subprime borrowers. I'm dying to know how you would respond, because I am not woman enough to attack that knot of stupid. I've worked with schizophrenics and a couple of uncontrolled manic depressives who had a clearer thought process than this.

Incidentally, I don't think it benefits newcomers to treat assertions like the one above with anything but derision. Affording idiocies like that the same respect as a well thought out opinion is devalues logic and reduces standards.

I'm sure there are those occasional readers who come here and happen to agree with Muirgeo's ideas.

His socialist ideas are not the problem. His ignorance is not the problem – we're all ignorant. He doesn't know what a derivative is but knows for sure they brought down the whole financial system. Absolutely certain. I trade derivatives. I offer to explain what a derivative is. No interest. Next thread: derivatives brought down the whole financial system. He's either off his meds or an idiot. You decide. Either way, to me, this is a problem which deserves to be pointed out.

Sam Grove October 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Idiotlogical.

Bill K. October 15, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Thanks, Methinks & Sam, and I am a relative newcomer (lurking for ~ 6 months). So what you're saying motivates a troll is essentially Proverbs 18:2, "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind."?

muirgeo October 15, 2008 at 11:44 pm

What you guys are calling trolling is really just another way of saying you are losing the debate and you have noting but ad-homs to defend yourself with. I "troll" because I am inquisitive and like to have my position challenged. It feels good when I can defend it so well so regularly. Being called names is simply a victory for me because then I know my opponent has admitted defeat. And when I am wrong and have been corrected or learn something new I can adjust my position so that it is that much more grounded and strong. I'm not much of a lemming or sheep so just writing on a board with like minded people always agreeing seems pretty shallow. I don't need my positions re-enforced… I want them challenged because I do have an open mind and I am indeed a free-thinker.

What follows is not trolling. It is simply me making a good point supporting my position and severely damaging methinks position. ( that last statement is kinda trolly… but that's between methinks and me… methinks and I?? ithinks and me… whatever)

"How do you point out the logical flaws in Muirdiot's "argument" that the financial crisis happened because Wall Street paper pushing assholes stole money from the real economy using pyramid schemes and derivatives to steal houses from hard working American subprime borrowers. I'm dying to know how you would respond…" methinks

From 60 minutes.

"What kind of crisis it is today?

"This is a full-blown financial storm and one that comes around perhaps once every 50 or 100 years. This is the real thing," says Jim Grant, the editor of "Grant's Interest Rate Observer."

"Grant is one of the country’s foremost experts on credit markets. He says it didn't have to happen, that this disaster was created entirely by Wall Street itself, during a time of relative prosperity. And they did it by placing a trillion dollar bet, with mostly borrowed money, that the riskiest mortgages in the country could be turned into gold-plated investments. "

not me, muirgeo but an expert Jim Grant

And there is this;

"Regardless of how well JPM has balanced its enormous inverted derivatives pyramid on top of its comparably infinitesimally-small capital base, in these chaotic markets of today I can’t help but thinking that unforeseen sandstorms are brewing on the horizons that will place tremendous and unexpected wind-loads on JPM’s fragile derivatives positions. Hopefully JPM’s inverted derivatives pyramid will not crumble and fall to the earth, as the consequences of such an event for the US financial system could be dreadful."

not me, muirgeo… but an expert and an insider…
Adam Hamilton, CPA January 4, 2002

SteveO October 16, 2008 at 12:35 am

I'm increasingly thinking that an option to block viewing specific posters would be a superlative addition to the site.

Sam Grove October 16, 2008 at 1:31 am

Never mind all the evidence of political participation in all this. Never mind that the easy credit policy from the FED is at the root of all this.

Never mind that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were created by the Federal Government.

Never mind that Austrians such as Ron Paul have been predicting this.

You have to ignore a lot of evidence to enjoy confirmation of your bias George.
Look who you're quoting 60 Minutes which largely shares your progressive view.

And when I am wrong and have been corrected or learn something new I can adjust my position so that it is that much more grounded and strong.

I haven't seen much evidence of that.

I want them challenged because I do have an open mind and I am indeed a free-thinker.

Or that either.

And you have not addressed the thrust of this site at all.

In a free market, firms that take foolish risks, that commit fraud, etc, SHOULD fail and NEVER be bailed out by government. The collapse of that house of cards IS the market functioning as it should.

The politicians, with the assistance of the media have managed to largely deflect blame from themselves for their part in all this. A part which you refuse to acknowledge.

What do you know, a few years ago, John McCain, of all people, called for reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and it was the Democrats, led by Barney Frank who resisted, asserting that there were no problems in those two government created finance giants.

We libertarians have opposed and continue to oppose just about everything this administration has done right up to this very day. If we had our way, there would be no Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. And most certainly, no bailouts.

But you refuse to hear. We type the words out and you refuse to perceive them.
You've had a lot of fun shooting down your straw men here, but that is all you've done here.

I tell you again, this is the result of 70+ years of progressive government, the very type you advocate, with just a bit of tinkering, of course, and if only you can get rid of the Republicans. Ha, you think you are so far from them.

Brad Warbiany October 16, 2008 at 1:57 am

Pingry,

And, well, I could never call myself a liberal to the man on the street.

I agree with LCJ above. You really should start doing so. When they hear someone who self-identifies as a liberal also advocating pro-market positions that sound like what the conservatives used to advocate, it generates confusion.

Confusion offers a chance to think and expand understanding.

Calling yourself a libertarian exposes you to all the ideological baggage someone who knows a bit about libertarianism might carry. Calling yourself a liberal but espousing "libertarian" ideals may actually make someone think instead of viscerally react, and that's really what you're after, right?

maximus October 16, 2008 at 2:07 am

I like James Grant alot and agree with many things he says. However, he was saying the same thing on Louis Rukeyser's show back in the 80's. Only then it was about the budget deficits and the massive inflation the nation was going to experience.

Randy October 16, 2008 at 6:20 am

Don,

I respect your opinion, but I also think Keith has a point. You and Russ do a great job, but it would be a damn shame to see great posts on the front page – all followed up by collectivist diatribes in the comments. I believe that the disinformation campaign is deliberate. These people have been employing the tactic, successfully, for over a century now. They don't respond to reason because reason is not their objective. They profit from the use of force – and the continuation of the use of force is their objective. It has to be stopped – somehow… As Methinks suggests, it is not uncivilized to call an idiot an idiot – its just a fact.

vidyohs October 16, 2008 at 6:52 am

Why shucks Randy, I feel slighted. LOL.

macquechoux October 16, 2008 at 8:40 am

"1. One occassional problem is a mistake in who wrote what. Many comment boards are configured to alternate the color code of post backgrounds (white, gray, white, gray, etc). Also, putting the name first would be helpful."

Amen to that. Excellent idea, Stevo. You did post that, didn't you?

Randy October 16, 2008 at 9:15 am

Didn't mean to leave you out Vidyohs. You've done a great job of takin' the fight to the enemy :)

Hammer October 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

SteveO: To roughly quote another forum I frequent:

"Advocating the ignore functionality is madness. I put on ignore, and now I just don't know why everyone is so pissed off all the time!"

Personally, I would like to see Don and Russ engage the replies a bit more. Personally, I had hoped they had welcomed Muirgo back because he is a convenient source of fallacy to blog about, but I do wish they would engage his arguments more directly than they do.

Keith October 16, 2008 at 11:43 am

Quote from muirgeo: "I "troll" because I am inquisitive and like to have my position challenged."

But you don't listen (read) or logically respond. The fallacies and contradictions of your positions are pointed out time and time again, but you continue to purport the same thing (and you cite things like 60 Minutes and quote Keynes, as if somehow these do something to support your position).

I have better things to do than challenge your position for your amusement. Discussions with you are a waste of time. If you wish to consider silence or exasperated name calling a victory, feel free.

In the immortal words of my old platoon sergeant: You can't polish a turd.

My apoligies to Mr. Boudreaux.

Sam Grove October 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm

It would perhaps be of interest if muirgeo could could recount just one accurate insight into the Austrian perspective of economics that he has gleaned from his visitations to Cafe Hayek.

Ike October 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I am a relative newcomer, having participated openly here for a few months.

No, I don't keep a scorecard.

No, I'm not really worried about who is and is not within the Austrian tradition.

Yes, I do care about people who take shortcuts in their logic.

I believe the best way to deal with them is to NOT just call them stupid, even when I'm convinced they are. It's a sign of frustration, that OTHERS equate with losing.

"Never argue with an idiot. He'll just drag you down to his level, and beat you with experience."

Paris October 16, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Muirgeo – trolling is not about learning. And people don't come here to score adolescent "victories". As Methinks pointed out, you never acknowledge others' points, never digest material offered to you, and never advance the discussion. There is no discussion with you, just competing monologues.

For the rest of you – how about we stop feeding the troll. For reals. If nobody writes back, he'll go elsewhere to irritate people. I love diversity of opinion as much as anyone, but having everyone so distracted by muirgeo is even more boring than uniformity of opinion. Hopefully it doesn't come down to such a choice.

muirgeo October 16, 2008 at 8:26 pm

But you don't listen (read) or logically respond. …(and you cite things like 60 Minutes …

Posted by: Keith

Citing 60 minutes with a video of the one of the worlds leading experts on credit markets supporting my position is not a logical response?

Indeed it's a logical response and you ignoring it is doing exactly what you claimed I do.

Let's see… to quote you;

"But you don't listen (read) or logically respond. The fallacies and contradictions of your positions are pointed out time and time again, but you continue to purport the same thing….."

You blowing off the claim by this expert because it's on 60 minutes is pathetic on your part. You don't have a response so you attack the messenger. Your's is the poorly thought out and irrational response.

Sam Grove October 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm

One can find any number of "experts" whose opinion on any subject will be as diverse as the number of experts. Why should anyone be impressed that you have found one that confirms your belief?

Citing experts does not valid argument make unless one can explicate the argument in relevance to the discussion.

You have frequently cited experts who have said many things and have changed over time.

You may recall the Hayek began as a socialist and eventually became pretty much libertarian.

Friedman was a monetarist, but toward the end of his life he decided that politicians would not exercise appropriate fiscal restraint; an indication that his views had changed. link

Methinks October 16, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Sam,

Muirdiot brings up the "worlds" biggest mostest giantest expertest experts all the time and then proceeds to not understand a word they say. Neither does the media, but that is not an excuse, since an adult should not unquestioningly slurp up and regurgitate what he reads without any analysis at all.

I have been wondering where he got the words in his word salad sentences and why he couldn't explain what he meant. Having read the 60 Minutes piece (in all its glorious spin! and 60 Minutes is really expert in spin), I now know where he got the language which he uses but doesn't understand. It seems that I generously thought he came up with all that incoherent pyramid, insurance, real economy stuff on his own. Turns out, he just strung words together from a larger piece he'd read somewhere – none of it was his own opinion and all of it was strung together from a single article like cranberries for a christmas tree garland. Turns out he's an even bigger moron than I originally thought.

His views can't change because none of his views are his own. He must co-opt the views of others to have any views at all. He must have his own views before he can change them.

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