by Don Boudreaux on April 20, 2011

in Environment, Myths and Fallacies, Not from the Onion, Religion, Video

No externality poses as great a threat to human health, happiness, and prosperity as does the negative externality of having obnoxiously uninformed and misguided people of the sort featured in this short video exercising a say (mainly through politics) in how the rest of us live our lives.  (HT Charlie Frey)

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Nate Atkins April 20, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Argh! Indeed.

Scott G April 21, 2011 at 12:18 am

Well said! I’ll have to remember this negative externality next time I run into others using government to TRY to correct negative externalities that the government shouldn’t be and isn’t effective in correcting.

By the way, I don’t feel very threatened by this group of political activists – I agree they are very uninformed, but I believe their numbers are small (for example fans of Nancy Pelosi). I’m much more concerned about the uninformed folks mentioned in Caplan’s, The Myth of the Rational Voter – this is a huge group of people.

Don April 21, 2011 at 9:05 am


Relative to the population (1.2B I believe), Mao’s forces were small as well. They killed 30M people, and re-educated by force almost 10 times that many.

A small but determined force, with a focused goal can be the most dangerous type of enemy, and these guys have backing from some of the worst people on the planet because they are, as Lenin used to call them, “useful idiots.”

Scott G April 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

Okay, so the number of people isn’t the only factor. I agree that a small group can make use of “useful idiots” with the right rhetoric. However, with the internet, this is harder to do now (I think and hope).

I should have added in my comment above that arguments in the linked-to video are not all that threatening to me. The 60′s are over and many of the baby boomers have heard and already educated themselves about the junk these ignorant hipsters are so passionate about.

Dan April 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

‘rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer’ still carries significant weight. Proving the fallacy requires far more energy and time to accomplish than that of this quick quip and contrasting the material acquisitions of oneself to that of the professional sports star.

Dan April 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Prohibition was the result of a very small group of activists who carried a very loud and convincing argument.

vidyohs April 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm

“By the way, I don’t feel very threatened by this group of political activists – I agree they are very uninformed,”

From whence do you think came the Michael Moores, Al Gores, Teddy Kennedys, Hillary Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Van Jones, the Chuckie Schumers, the union members that stuffed the Wisconsin Capital, the members of ALF, ELF, PETA, Anarchists, the myriads of looney left professors who are teaching this group of kids. All those looneys were, just awhile ago, kids just like the ones in the video clip.

They should scare the hell out of you because the possibility that one of them will be teaching your child or grandchildren shortly is very high.

On a pertinent subject other than that, I see a bunch of young people clamoring for things and ways to come to pass, that they could fully avail themselves of right today. If they did avail themselves it would solve two problems, their idleness and furnishing workers for the jobs “that Americans won’t do”, the ones that require floods of illegal aliens.

Those kids and all like them could easily go to work and “find those jobs” they are asking about by going out to the farms that surround them and being employed weeding and hoeing, planting, and picking veggies and fruit all while shunning motorized transportation and living in small single family shacks that may or may not have running water and/or a toilet. They could enjoy the delights and wonders of walking a mile with a bucket just to secure water for the evening meal,…….oh yeah, they don’t want that for themselves, they want it for you and I.

Ron H. April 25, 2011 at 5:06 am

But all is not lost! Not ALL young people are useful idiots.

See here.

The Reticulator April 21, 2011 at 1:28 am

I can agree somewhat with the idea that we must end our addiction to economic growth. It needs to start with our addiction to the growth of government.

SaulOhio April 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

The whole idea of an “addiction to economic growth” is so nonsensical as to be entirely toxic. It is mind poison.

Basically, you are saying we have an addiction to an increased ability of human beings to satisfy their needs and wants.

WhiskeyJim April 21, 2011 at 1:39 am

Given Obama’s election, I find it difficult to laugh at this video, which 20 years ago I believe most everyone would. I fear I am now in the minority.

Chucklehead April 21, 2011 at 2:09 am

My first choice would be to let them have their space and competing top down system. Let us be free to live in spontaneous order. But then I realize that they are there in Washington to impose by force their values on everyone else, equal distribution of misery.
It is interesting how their values will change when they are faced with the responsibility of other mouths to feed.

Mathieu Bédard April 21, 2011 at 3:46 am

I don’t get it, is this video a subtle mockumentary documenting the event’s worst, or is it the real thing?

Jim April 21, 2011 at 5:59 am

Would we rather they be zombies. At least they are alive and are trying to think. Or are they the clever ones? Oy ve!

Speedmaster April 21, 2011 at 6:37 am

Yeah, I watched that video last night and it scared the sh!t out of me. if that’s our future, we’re in big trouble.

John V April 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

Kids change when they grow up.

Methinks1776 April 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Not that much. I had young friends who were devout Communists (it was fashionable in the university town to which we moved in the United States). When the Soviet bloc disintegrated, a few made pilgrimages to their Mecca. They were so horrified by what they saw that they came back the worst Capitalist Pigs you ever saw. Twenty years on, the memory of a toothless, desperate and drunk population has faded and they’re back to loving the all-powerful state. The only complaint they have now is that the state is so dang corrupt.

John V April 21, 2011 at 10:02 am

Well, while not everyone changes, I think it’s safe to say that voting data by age group shows that kids tend to be become less clueless-left-liberal-idealist as they gain a few crumbs of wisdom from real life experience on their path to adulthood.

The 18-24 bloc of voters always tips more heavily toward the most idealist candidates of the Democratic Party in primaries and then to the Democratic Party in general in the general elections.

As the voting blocs get older, this balances out and then shifts the other way. Through time, these are the same people so it stands to reason that views change. Otherwise, the Dem dominance at the clueless kid’s table would last forever in a continuous cycle as new kids came to voting age.

JohnK April 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

You know what they say: if you’re young and not a Democrat you must be heartless, and if you’re old and not a Republican you must be stupid.

John V April 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

And I say this as an outside observer since I don’t exactly fit the implied process of switching from D to R….at least in Presidential elections. I’ve always been registered independent but went from tepidly Dem voting to simply Libertarian. Local and state office is different. It all depends on the circumstances but I lean R because of fiscal issues or because on a local level, most candidates are republican anyway so the primary ends up being the real election and I don’t vote since my state has closed primaries.

JohnK April 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

It’s just an expression. Personally I’ve never registered for a political party. They all suck.

Methinks1776 April 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

John K, I think you’re referring to Winston Churchill’s “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

I also like his “A liberal is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air”.

Krishnan April 21, 2011 at 7:44 am



This is what economic prosperity brings – the luxury of time for some to go insane and use that time to destroy even as the world gets better

I am terrified when I imagine that there are people like this out there … Nov 2008 brought them all out in droves and they will refuse to go back into the deep dark hole they crawled out of to make our life miserable

Why dont they travel to Bellaire or Hollywood CA or such places where these leftists live (ofcourse NYC and DC) and see how their “leaders” are living?

Methinks1776 April 21, 2011 at 8:40 am

It looks like they already broke their addiction to jobs.

juan carlos vera April 21, 2011 at 8:13 am

That sucks. I’m going to vomit…

Methinks1776 April 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

That video is just delightful.

We start with a hippie who is alienated from his food by money. We end with a pack of teenagers who have already embraced Khrushchev’s dacha idea. Since the collective farms didn’t produce enough to feed the population, the idea was to hand out land so that people could build a dacha and grow their own food. In other words, the socialist experiment worked so well that the peasants were returned to subsistence farming while the nobility feasted off the peasants.

The Soviets have discovered that each generation was born as acquisitive and self-interested as the one before it and we’re stuck with the problem of each generation born just as stupid as the one before it.

Mesa Econoguy April 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

If we were smart, we would start a hedge fund whose goal would be to separate ignoramuses like these from their money, and call it something like “socially conscious investing” or “green energy” or something….

Justin P April 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

ALGORE is 10 steps ahead of you.

John V April 21, 2011 at 9:40 am


Which one was you?

Looked like a Daily Kos convention.

Scott G April 21, 2011 at 11:28 am


W.P. Kelpfroth April 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

that video was 2:58 that I won’t get back.

Eric Hammer April 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

I had a hard time sitting through that. Now I am depressed :(

Michael Buchberger April 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I began hemorrhaging blood at “building localized economies based on solidarity” … For being so educated, they know very little about past human history and (some) of what determines prosperity.

At least the ladies in there underwear were cute.

Dan April 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Now, who is the forked tongue professor behind the indoctrination of these folk?

Justin P April 22, 2011 at 11:04 am

“For being so educated”

That is all wrong, it should read, “For wasting so much money on school.” Educated and spending money for an education are not the same thing.

Ron H. April 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm


No education is required to say “building localized economies based on solidarity”. What’s really being said is:

“I hear that slogan often, and I have no idea what it really means, but I like the way it rolls off my tongue.”

Paul April 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Can I be a feudal lord when we go back to those highly localized communities?

Dan April 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Or u can call them czars’ czars. The czars to the czars. Our society needs reorganizing. Appointed tasks and direct micro-managing to get efficient, pure results. King Obama!!!!!!

Ben April 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I’m sorry, but a video of some annoying hippies, cherry-picked by Jonah Goldberg and brought to us by Andrew Breitbart, does not get around the very real danger of our collective inability to appropriately price negative environmental externalities. Seems like a flippant straw-man argument.

yet another Dave April 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm

What negative environmental externalities do you feel are not priced appropriately?

Ron H. April 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Should the word “collective be given special emphasis here?

Frankie Barbella April 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm
Ron H. April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

This video is the best argument I’ve seen yet for eliminating all public assistance for higher education.

What’s the point of spending 4 or more years and tens of thousands of dollars for schooling, if your goal is to grow tomatoes?

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