Some Links

by Don Boudreaux on August 1, 2011

in Balance of Payments, Budget Issues, Current Affairs, Debt and Deficits, Growth, Innovation, Regulation, Trade, War, Work

That vast and creative region of reality, Technologia, continues to export to us its products – and, in doing so, ‘destroys’ jobs.  (HT Mark Perry)  (See also this little monument to human ingenuity.)

While we’re tapping in to Mark Perry’s contributions to our knowledge and understanding, here’s Mark’s explanation for why Americans’ fear of a U.S. trade deficit is misplaced.

Larry Ribstein understands the dangers of occupational licensing.

Writing in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, the always-astute Nicole Gelinas proposes a free-market fix for today’s housing-market woes.

Here’s Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman on the debate over raising Uncle Sam’s debt-ceiling.  And here’s the take of Cato’s David Boaz.

George Selgin justifiably finds unintended humor in the many barbs – some quite vicious – directed against him by “Rothbardians.

Doug Bandow calls out John McCain for the war-monger that McCain is.

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{ 17 comments }

EG August 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

The folks who hang out at Mises.org (the Lew Rockwell, Rothbard, Ron Paul wackos) are quite a silly bunch. I’ve made the comment that they behave identically to Trotskyite factions and display the same logic (or lack). I’d also wager that they make up 95% of the “Libertarian Party” membership.

This is why “we” can’t have nice things.

EG August 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

CATO, as usual, falls flat on its face when it comes to foreign affairs. An “opinion” piece full of made-up facts. Lets see…starts off with “Georgia started the war.” Hmm, you’d have to get up pretty early in the morning to pull that trick, since the war, last time I checked, started sometime around 1989 and has involved both Abkhazia and Ossetia ethnically cleansing more Georgians out of there than they have current population (ie, they were Georgian majority areas, before the war), as well as Russian military intervention that has lasted since then (ie, actual Russia occupation of those territories). Not that this matters, or is worth going into any discussion…but WHY does CATO assume that THEIR opinion on who and what caused this messy ethnic conflict, is the right one, or that they can summarize it in a wholly inadequate 2-sentence opinion devoid of facts?

Oh, I know! because they want to make a cheap point. Throw in Kosovo for good measure, because no discussion of foreign policy is complete without the “libertarian’s” most hated conflict since Iraq…Kosovo! Of course, the fact that Kosovo is actually the reverse, in every respect, of Abkhazia and Ossetia, is quite irrelevant. Pravda and Izvestia said they are the same! The more appropriate Balkan parallel to Abkhazia and Ossetia, is actually Krajina, not Kosovo. But hey! Who wants to talk about Vukovar…when we can be throwing stink bombs at the US instead?

Second, we move on to Libya. The same “make up some facts, and tell everyone what to think” strategy applies. It seems CATO has a deep knowledge of who the rebels are, what their structure is, what their aims are etc. How long is CATO going to keep up the “we don’t even know who these people are!!” argument? Do I need to give them a subscription to Al Jazeera…so they can find out? Or is CATO content with its subscription to Russia Today, to get its info on the world (I do have a bit of an issue with CATO’s involvement and appearances on Putin’s private TV network, at such frequency)

So whatever argument may be made in favor, or against McCain and US Senators, CATO usually does a marvelously pi*s poor job at “analyzing” anything more complex than 2+2, as far as foreign affairs is concerned. Cheap opinion piece, which doesn’t even preach to the choir.

Josh S August 1, 2011 at 11:55 am

I’ve noticed libertarians tend to be particularly bad on foreign affairs. Not that I’m particularly impressed by anyone else, but libetarians are almost as bad as the far left just in terms of simply not knowing what is happening or what has happened. I’m especially amused when Rothbardians insist that one can simply ignore heavily armed totalitarian states, and they will simply leave you alone, as though the 20th century and the empires of history never actually happened.

EG August 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Ah yes! The best I’ve ever heard, was a Paultard saying that if NATO had not intervened in Bosnia, the combatants there would have resolved their fighting much quicker, simply by realizing that it was in their best interests to stop fighting since neither side would have had military support from an external power, and therefore continued fighting could not have given either side an advantage. Flawless logic!

BZ August 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Hmm, I have a hard time reconciling collateral-bombing of civilians from 15k feet with respect for life and liberty. I have an even harder time reconciling “Thou Shalt Not Kill” with it, though there have been many contorted attempts to do both. War is the health of the State.

EG August 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I don’t remember this being a religious argument, nor do I remember any deliberate bombing of civilians. But hey, why let details like that ruin a perfectly good non-argument.

Greg Webb August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks, Don, for the excellent articles! I enjoyed reading them, especially Larry RIbstein’s article on the dangers of occupational licensing and Doug Bandow’s article on John McCain’s warmongering. CATO does an excellent job of analyzing foreign affairs, and the silly desire of all politicians for “public applause,” which often causes them to be on all sides of any issue. While it may have been the right thing to do to assist the Georgians in their fight against the Russians, it would have been geopolitically stupid to do so.

But, it is fascinating to watch liberals advocate for central planning for the national economy claiming they “know” everything and can create heaven here on earth, while opposing US involvement in foreign wars because we don’t understand other countries or their cultures. It is equally fascinating to watch conservatives oppose central planning for the national economy because central planners cannot possibly know enough about the millions of transactions occurring each day, while advocating for active US involvement in various foreign wars by claiming to understand what is going on in those countries. They are both right in claiming that central planners in Washington cannot know enough about the national economy or foreign wars. Thus, the government should avoid intervening in either.

EG August 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

“While it may have been the right thing to do to assist the Georgians in their fight against the Russians, it would have been geopolitically stupid to do so.”

So why can’t CATO say THAT, instead of saying “we shouldn’t help the Georgians because its their fault “. As if implying that, if it can be shown to be otherwise (ie that Gerogia was the victim), then the argument for intervention would be valid.

Your argument is perfectly acceptable. What CATO constantly does, however (though not as bad as the Lew Rockwell types), is create any excuse other than the practical. (of course, with as many times as their “experts” appear on RT, one might wonder what else is involved here)

Its the typical Lefto-Libertarian argument to…anything…related in any way shape or form to American foreign policy. Its always America’s fault, and/or America’s allies fault. And if it isn’t, its ok…we’ll make up some alternate reality where it is.

Greg Webb August 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

EG, you said, “So why can’t CATO say THAT, instead of saying ‘we shouldn’t help the Georgians because its their fault’. As if implying that, if it can be shown to be otherwise (ie that Gerogia was the victim), then the argument for intervention would be valid.” I don’t know. My guess is that Doug Bandow made a case about Georgia based upon what the mainstream media was reporting. In a world of misinformation primarily from major news outlets, many people make arguments that appear correct given what they know of the situation and don’t have the time or inclination to verify its accuracy. Also, you have to consider that the fog of war kept this from being clearly reported. But, logic indicates that Georgia decided to fight rather simply let Russia create a reality of an independent Ossetia and Abkhazia, which gives the appearance that Georgia started the war.

You said, “(of course, with as many times as their “experts” appear on RT, one might wonder what else is involved here)” I do not believe in conspiracy theories. My guess is that the CATO author who wrote about foreign affairs was not as knowledgeable as he or she should have been. But, like the Georgia-Russia war, many people do not know who started the war because the rely on the mainstream media to tell them what happened rather than use the available facts and circumstances and apply logic and common sense to figure out what actually happened.

You said, “Its the typical Lefto-Libertarian argument to…anything…related in any way shape or form to American foreign policy. Its always America’s fault, and/or America’s allies fault. And if it isn’t, its ok…we’ll make up some alternate reality where it is.” I am not a leftist and, to use that term in reference to libertarianism, is incorrect as libertarians are not statists, which all leftists are. I don’t want or believe in war, unless it is necessary to protect this country and its citizens. World War II is a good example of an unnecessary war that the US had to fight. Libya is a good example of an unnecessary war that the US does not have to fight. But, now that we are in it, we should win it…decisively!

EG August 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I have little doubt that the author from CATO isn’t well informed. The issue is, passing it off as if the author is not only informed, but has provided there, in that 2-sentence opinion, an admirable point. IE…if you don’t know what you’re talking about then don’t bring it up. I don’t put forth a “conspiracy theory” either. Rather, I was observing that many “experts” from CATO have a working relationship with a propaganda network of a petty dictator from dictatorial Russia. One can make what they want of that.

As for leftists and “Libertarians”, unfortunately there is virtually no distinction both in the lines taken by both camps when it comes to America’s foreign affair, nor in the logic and arguments used to defend those lines. Maybe Libertarians should make some attempt at a logical argument, before complaining that they are compared to Hugo Chavez when it comes to America bashing.

Greg Webb August 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

EG, if people could only speak if they were well informed then the major news media, politicians, etc would all have to be quiet. I am not saying that I disagree with that, but reality says that is an unrealistic request. And, why are you just beating up on CATO. On a recent trip to Italy, many people said that CNN lied. Shouldn’t we put them off the air before we close down CATO for making a dubious mistake in one article?

You said, “I don’t put forth a “conspiracy theory” either. Rather, I was observing that many “experts” from CATO have a working relationship with a propaganda network of a petty dictator from dictatorial Russia. One can make what they want of that.” And, that is statement meets the definition of a conspiracy theory. Perhaps, you should be better informed by looking up that definition.

You said, ‘As for leftists and “Libertarians’, unfortunately there is virtually no distinction both in the lines taken by both camps when it comes to America’s foreign affair, nor in the logic and arguments used to defend those lines. Maybe Libertarians should make some attempt at a logical argument, before complaining that they are compared to Hugo Chavez when it comes to America bashing.” Okay, you really do need to be better informed about libertarianism before you make any more comments about it so that you can comply with your previous statement about not speaking about things that you don’t know much about. I am a libertarianism, and I have never America bashed. I have, however, politician bashed. Idiot politicians do not represent my country. They only represent themselves. And, it those fools would respect the Constitution and the traditions of my country, we would be involved in a lot less foreign wars.

BZ August 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm

RE: Rothbard

I haven’t read much of his stuff on economics, but I’ve read his two books on political theory, and have to say that, for me, his emphasis on the moral imperatives of libertarianism really struck a nerve with me. After all, the libertarian utilitarian is open to this complaint from the left: why not waste, why not regulate and control, why not aim at inefficiencies if, from it, something better is achieved than mere “prosperity”, namely less Income inequality, and more economic “justice”? The Rothbardian has an answer, and a compelling one imho: It’s wrong to steal from just owners. It’s wrong to coerce and kill the peaceful and innocent. I’m not sure how the Selgins and the Rothbards of the world can reconcile this difference, but if you scratch too much below the surface, I think disagreement on this point is the source of the trouble.

EG August 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm

“It’s wrong to steal from just owners. It’s wrong to coerce and kill the peaceful and innocent. I’m not sure how the Selgins and the Rothbards of the world can reconcile this difference,”

I’m sorry, but do “non-Rothbardians” make the argument that its OK to steal, coerce and kill? So where is Rothbard’s revelation in this regard?

BZ August 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm

A fine and honest question. The difference is the non-negotiable nature of the claim. You won’t hear a Rothbardian say something like, “If we don’t risk a few collateral deaths, “.

BZ August 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Sorry, that quote should have read:
“If we don’t risk a few collateral deaths, –insert national interest claim here–“.

BZ August 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm

It occurred to me that my brain was still on the foreign policy stuff above. Selgin is probably a bad example. In that comment, I was more trying to wrap my mind around the visceral nature of the Rothbardian Austrians.

EG August 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Its one thing to dwell in hypothetical utopian visions. Its quite another to make an argument that has any weight with other people. I’m not sure how successful Rothbard was at this, but judging by the clinically insane behavior of virtually every person posting on Ron Paul’s websites…I have my doubts.

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