A Note on Commenting

by Don Boudreaux on October 10, 2011

in Cafe Conversation

A faithful Cafe patron, whose name is here withheld, sends the following in an e-mail today to Russ and me:

“Muirgeo” has single-handedly reduced the effectiveness and value of your blog. He has certainly reduced my desire to visit the site as often, or participate in the comments. Which is his aim. And you have both cooperated with him. He has boundless energy to dissipate the goods of your productivity, and the space you have created, and you lend him unending currency to do so.

And you have sanctioned him doing so.

I understand the reason behind your principles, but is there no point where you say “enough?

Russ and I understand the frustration of trying to have a civilized conversation amongst thoughtful people – all of whom have a basic understanding of logic and ordinary rules of argumentation, and many of whom possess at least a rudimentary understanding of economics and history – only to find that conversation frequently disrupted by commenters who have utterly no grasp of such basic things; disrupted by people who mistake their passionate disagreement with the thrust of the conversation for knowledge and insight into the matter at hand, and who, in unreasoned response, fling madly into the conversation any factoid or anecdote or quotation or YouTube clip that they (almost always mistakenly) sense bears relevantly upon the point of the conversation and moves that conversation forward productively.

And we also share the normal human urge to pull our hair out upon encountering people so obviously incapable of clear and independent thought that we realize that nothing – literally no argument or set of facts, regardless of how clearly presented – can penetrate their brains.

But, still, Russ and I will not ban Muirgeo or anyone else from the Cafe for the mere offense of being aggressively and ceaselessly and hopelessly stupid.

Unlike in a physical cafe, Muirgeo cannot harm anyone at the Cafe.  He can, and does, annoy – but he can do so only insofar as any of the rest of us read his comments.  As I’ve said before, I completely ignore him (save for an occassional check to ensure that he’s writing nothing libelous or vulgar).  And so he affects me not one whit.

When I read the comments and see his moniker, I scroll right past.

It’s true that many of his comments trigger other responses.  And sometimes these responses are actually very useful: they are often from people more patient than I am in dealing for the millionth-and-first time with arguments that are either incoherent or that have been exposed as flawed countless times before.

Perhaps there’s something that I’m missing (and I don’t concede this possibility rhetorically), but unlike in a physical cafe where he and his ilk certainly would be banned for harassing the customers, here he can be ignored.

Does ignoring him not avoid at least the brunt of the problem?

Having said the above, Russ and I welcome comments about ways that we might pursue (should such be available and practical) to separate commenters interested in rational discussion from commenters not so interested.

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{ 294 comments }

Slappy McFee October 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I really don’t believe banning anyone does anybody any good on the internets.

Besides, Muirgeo isn’t even the worst of the bunch, and he entertains me.

The single best way to deal with internet trolls is to ignore them.

BTW — how do I get my emails answered?

Don Boudreaux October 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Do you send e-mails? (Serious question.)

Slappy McFee October 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Only two so far but its not that big of a deal.

And another thought on the potential banning. I have found that the sites that do inhibit their commenters simply become boring. I find I have more opportunities to learn when confronted with people I disagree with. Muirgeo and others simply remind me of my closest family members and dealing with him has made my debates with my own communists much more relaxed.

So to me, he still serves a purpose. Even if its just a minor niche.

Andy October 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I agree, look at DeLong’s site. Only comments that agree with him without a shred of criticism are accepted. Why bother reading it? As long as it doesn’t become a massive amount of spam, just ignore it.

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Muirdiot is the best single-person internet three ring circus around! You usually have to pay people to reveal that much stupid.

SheetWise October 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I agree — free is better. I’ve often wondered why Muirgio hasn’t set up a private market consulting service. Certainly there are more Solyndra-like opportunities that have escaped this administrations attention.

Spot October 11, 2011 at 12:34 am

Slappy,

I can attest to the fact that Don does indeed answer e-mail. I almost felt bad sending two a few months ago; the number of comments on here leads me to believe he is swamped daily.

Chris Bowyer October 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

I’ve run an Internet forum for a little over 11 years, and I’ve held pretty much every possible role imaginable on one forum or another over that time period, and while it’s true that over-moderation can kill a community just as quickly as letting it run wild and free, the main thing is picking a simple, sharp rule and sticking by it. If you can do that, you can usually stop the community from becoming dull without letting it become discouraging for people who dislike all the negativity.

For example, a simple “no personal insults” rule. There is some admitted subjectivity in this, but I’ve seen it enacted to great effect in some places. It may not sound like much, seeing as how it’s easy to couch one’s insults in the guise of attacking the idea rather than the person, but it does seem to have a nice ripple effect. When people know they can’t do something, they simply adjust and it ceases to be an option, and that has positive ramifications for the rest of the discourse in lots of subtle ways.

So, personally, I’d be fine with some variation on this rule, even if ended up being enacted in its mildest form (which would probably be something like deleting any comment that is ONLY an insult).

brotio October 11, 2011 at 12:22 am

“no personal insults” rule…

Methinks contributes almost as much to my economic education as our hosts. She’s also one of the best in the world in coming up with creative and hilarious ways to personally insult Leftards. Sam Kinnison used to get $50-a-ticket for comedy that good.

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 1:27 am

Brotio, I agree. The learning is punctuated and made much more entertaining by the flurry of disguised (and not so disguised) insults hurled at statists and leftists. Half the time the insults are themselves educational.

Without vocal dissent, there can be no learning. I am happy they are here.

vikingvista October 11, 2011 at 2:52 am

It isn’t the the insults that detract from the forum so much as the stupidity. Can we get a no stupidity rule?

Vagabundus October 11, 2011 at 2:57 am

If you believe in laissez faire and spontaneous emergent order, how can you ban anyone? Any censorship is a judgement call, and may not conform to all the subjective values of the participants, although the good doctors may do so as a mater of property rights.

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Banning someone from your blog or home is different than pointing a gun at the population and demanding that no one disagree with you.

chrispy October 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I wonder if there’s a commenting system where a user could set up a list of ignored posters, and their posts (and perhaps all posts responding to theirs) would be automatically “collapsed”?

vikingvista October 11, 2011 at 2:54 am

I’ve seen it somewhere. It’s a good idea.

Dan H October 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm

This guy Observer might even be worse than Muirgeo. He said markets only exist because of laws, and that without laws there would be no markets. I think that’s something – perhaps the only thing – that a full 100% of economists around the globe would disagree with.

ArrowSmith October 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Krugman would agree with muirgeo for sure. Stiglitz too.

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I don’t think so. Let’s face it, if you had to be honest, you’d admit that Muirdiot has no clue what he’s for because his understanding of everything is so poor. If you think you know what Muirdiot is advocating it’s only because your rational mind is trying to create some order in Muirdiot’s chaotic explosions. It just can’t accept that something this psychotic could be operating on children.

Observer is just another Muirdiot – albeit, less amusing.

For instance, Observer has yet to congratulate himself on a great post posing as someone else – forgetting to change his avatar.

Greg Webb October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

For instance, Observer has yet to congratulate himself on a great post posing as someone else – forgetting to change his avatar.

That was hilarious!

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 1:29 am

Where was this?

brotio October 11, 2011 at 2:18 am

Stone, it was on the “Incomes are Created, Not Distributed” Thread. The Muiron forgot to change his avatar when he made these two posts.

muirgeo October 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

“If the semantic convention were to refer, not to “income distribution,” but to “income creation, then….”

So if the headlines read that the top income creators were those who created it by lobbying congress the most with an almost 100 fold profit for each dollar invested …THAT would make more sense to you?

But I guess when you are living in the filth of the rent seeking zones its hard to argue why the county you live in is one of the richest in the nation and just coincidently lies close to Washington D.C. What a coincidence…. but the omniscient have indeed proclaimed all is earned. Yeah.. correct the semantics…that’ll fix the problem.

Reply

99er October 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Wow great post!

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 2:26 am

Yeah that was a great post Brotio…. 99er was right. Isn’t it embarrassing to have to go to the professors to ask them to protect yourself from my mean comments? Just pass them by…. it’s no big deal.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 2:27 am

Oh and Brotio do you remember when you were posting as me…. but you forgot the FDR Avatar?

brotio October 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Oh and Brotio do you remember when you were posting as me…. but you forgot the FDR Avatar?

You’ve made that baseless allegation before.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Brotio,

whoever it was, the commentary was brilliant. Muirdiot is too thick to understand the difference between satire and lying.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Methinks,

I agree. But, as I told the muirdiot the first time; I’m just a bit too vain to post something that funny and not take credit for it.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Well, it was brilliant, so you can hardly fault anyone for thinking it was you, Brotio.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

What a lovely compliment! Thankyou!

GiT October 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

But a market does require law. To talk of the mutual exchange of property without invoking law is an absurdity.

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 1:30 am

They confuse laws with written laws. Human laws always exist as unspoken rules whenever there is more than one human being on earth.

Craig October 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Remember who you’re potentially dealing with here: http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Internet%20Debate

I think if people are arguing with him, he must provide some sort of value to those people – be it as a way to sharpen one’s argument, a way to get rid of that pesky hair without going for a hair cut, or simply for the amusement factor – or they wouldn’t argue. For those who find no value in what he says, then they can safely ignore him. It is unfortunately that he can provide a negative value though for some.

On another forum I’m on, they have a “squelch” feature where comments from annoying people can be hidden from view, based on individual user preference. Not sure if this is a possibility here or not, but that would at least leave it up to the individual.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

If you squelch the offender do you also squelch all the comments that can be called a reply to the offender? If that were true then very quickly it will become apparent to even some one as intentionally stupid as muriduck, that anything he says will be a waste of time because every one will put him on their list and not being seen means also not being replied to.

In short order the offender would weed himself out.

James for Pittsburgh October 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I’ve seen some blogs that use a system that hides comments that other readers have deemed not useful. I believe the NY Times uses a version of this system that gives some extra weight to comments that are “recommended”.

Don Boudreaux October 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Good to know. We’ll look into this possibility. (The sender of the e-mail quoted in the post also mentioned that some such feature is available.) Thanks!

juan carlos vera October 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I think that hide or delete comments is not a good idea. I see that in this site “cafe” the prevailing feeling is free expression. It is this dominance of freedom what gives a fundamental value to this social network…

Seth October 10, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Freakonomics blog uses that and it seems to work. Whenever I’ve expanded a comment that’s been hidden because of it, I can usually immediately see why.

Martin Brock October 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I lean “left-libertarian” myself (but claim to be more libertarian than thou), and I like to challenge the bloggers as much as anyone, but I gave up on Muirgeo some time ago. Ignoring him is easy enough. If he bugs you enough to stop reading the blog, you take him much too seriously.

Don Boudreaux October 10, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Well said, Martin.

To get upset at Muirgeo’s inability to grasp even the most rudimentary rules of argumentation and logic (forget about economics and history) is like getting upset at an alley cat for its inability to explain in plain English Euclidean geometry: it just ain’t happenin’.

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Yes, but you have to admit that whether or not an alley cat can explain Euclidean geometry to you, it has a better understanding of it than Muirdiot does.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 12:25 am

:D

Ike October 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Non-Euclidean cats are the stuff of a Lovecraft story… and I can think of no worse nightmare than a herd of Non-Euclidean cats with votes that count as much as mine.

Rick Caird October 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

We have a winner. I am trying to visualize a non euclidean cat, perhaps prancing on a Euclidean surface? It is much easier to visualize a euclidean cat on a non euclidean surface.

SheetWise October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Dancing on the head of a pin — which I would not be surprised if they could do. Cats are never a good example ;)

Michael October 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

Muirgeo isn’t the problem, and never has been. The problem is the response to the troll, not the troll itself.

Nearly anytime he posts something one of three or four other Cafe patrons immediately respond with a post the begins “Leftard!” or a variation thereof. It’s regular as clockwork.

It’s disruptive, vulgar, and it vandalizes the comments section of this blog.

Who wants to wade through all the crap to find a post of any substance?

Steve S October 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

“Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

John Wayne character

joe October 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I never noticed this “guy” ’till you mentioned it.

It does no good to worry about what some guy spouts. In fact if you just have confidence in your position it’s good for you to hear contrary idiocy. It sharpens your thought process.

ArrowSmith October 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm

That’s like saying there’s value to debating the “occupy wall street” defecators. All that happens is you get shit smeared on you.

PrometheeFeu October 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Perhaps you should listen to what they say instead of rejecting them out of a knee-jerk reaction. Many of the things they say are the things Russ has been saying for a long time.

T Rich October 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm

they are like the student who gets the correct answer in math by working the problem completely wrong. It is a mistake of disease and symptom – that is why they are at wall street and not 1600 Penn. Ave.

Russ makes his arguments based on principle while the OWS chowderheads argue based on emotion and envy. That they are both arguing against crony capitalism (OWS crowd) or government market distortions (as Russ would likely term it) is purely coincidental, I believe.

Richard Stands October 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I wonder what will happen if the Tea Party folks and the Occupy Wall Street folks ever realize that they share anger over Crony Capitalism.

Of course, the epiphany after that one will be that corporations can ask for favors all they want, but a constitutionally-sized federal government will not have the wherewithal to give them – only to prosecute force and fraud.

Yeah, I know. But I can dream.

Daniel Kuehn October 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

You realize you sound EXACTLY like muirgeo there, don’t you ArrowSmith?

HaywoodU October 11, 2011 at 7:41 am

You do realize that ArrowSmith has a shtick, right?

Will October 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for not banning anyone. It is easy to just ignore people with different views, but its hard to listen to people who obviously do not think before they write and will never change their views even though they don’t know why they hold those views. I am relatively knew to this blog so this is not directed at Muirgeo or anyone else. I don’t agree with everything anyone says or writes, but that’s life. I do usually learn something from everyone, even if it is just to more concisely and logically arrange my own arguments and comments. And who knows out of every 1000 worthless posts (and I may be guilty of that, although I doubt I have come anywhere close to 1000 posts) there could be one that really stirs the conversation which should be the point of any healthy debate.

Randy October 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Good point. I can honestly say that I have picked up a few decent points from Muirgeo. And I think he actually does do a reasonable job of representing the point of view of the political class. To me, its an alien, annoying, and occasionally downright disgusting point of view – but its a pretty widely held point of view.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Not as widely held as you seem to think. First off it is presented as a widely held opinion, but look at where you get your presentation from. The leftist MSM, unionized school teachers, looney left entertainer, etc. altogether they make a lot of noise but are not where near a majority, and I doubt seriously they make a decent minority in reality.

As evidence I offer the observation that the looney left is adamant about sharing until it comes to sharing their own money, and like Warren Buffet they make no voluntary contributions. Like Warren Buffet they are cool with using your wallet, but God forbid theirs be touched.

Randy October 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Perhaps, Vidyohs, but I think of my parents, who were big believers in things like, “There shouldn’t be poverty in this countly while some have so much”, and seriously considered that to be the only possible moral conclusion. And I think if you boiled Muirgeo down to a simple sentence it would be, “if we voted for it then its right”, and I think a lot of people believe that.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Because I am well aware that muirduck is here only out of malicious intent, I think if you boiled him down to one simple sentence it would be, “If I voted for it, it’s right.” You/we/me are not part of his socialist equation.

Big difference

Randy October 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Good point.

T Rich October 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Randy has a good idea, let’s boil Muirgeo down to determine if that is the sentence that would remain. Sounds like a nice empirical study.

SheetWise October 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm

“I think of my parents, who were big believers in things like, ‘There shouldn’t be poverty in this country while some have so much’”

I think your parents, in taking their position, could never have imagined that the goalposts would have been moved as far as they have been moved.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 12:28 am

let’s boil Muirgeo down to determine if that is the sentence that would remain.

Bring on the tidal wave of crude!

ArrowSmith October 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The problem is the blogging engine doesn’t support an ignore feature. Many blog comment sections you can do that, and it cleans things up considerably.

David October 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I’ve never had a problem with ignoring his comments. Readers can also choose to simply ignore all the comments if it disturbs them so much.

David October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

You could also look into something like the “Top Contributors” plugin for Wordpress: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/top-contributors/

John Dewey October 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I agree, David.

As I said below, I believe that some commentors view muirgeo as as opportunity – perhaps to demonstrate superior intellect. I guess they feel that continued ridicule of his posts are either helping them win some argument or else discouraging muirgeo from commenting. If that’s what they believe, I think respondents to muirgeo are wrong on both counts.

Brad Hutchings October 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I’m a fan of “put your name on it”, which is why I use my real name for most of what I post online. Many people hide behind screen names, which is fine if the sites let them. Some abuse the anonymity to be less than civil.

One way to get people to put their name on it is to use something like Facebook comments. TechCrunch took a giant step up when (for the most part) when they did that. Downside is that they still have a lot of anons from Yahoo logins somehow.

But just because everyone is known doesn’t mean their won’t still be disagreement and inanity. You have comments, you get some of that. You have popular comments, you get a lot of that.

Justin P October 10, 2011 at 5:53 pm

using Facebook comments would be one way for me to never comment again, especially with the new Facebook set up.

PrometheeFeu October 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I think forcing real names is a Bad Idea. I comment on a lot of blogs and am known as PrometheeFeu to many online communities. I take responsibility for what I say in the sense that this identity is a very real one to which I am attached and by which many people know me. On the other hand, if I am applying for a job and the recruiter googles my name, I do not want them to be inundated with my political opinions on every topic imaginable. It is not relevant and it may be problematic if they happen to disagree. If you force real names, I will never post here again. It’s not an ultimatum, just a fact.

Mikenshmirtz October 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

The libertarians among us are happy that what you’re a fan of doesn’t change our freedom to decide for ourselves. (And I’d bet it rarely has anything to do with hiding.)

Brad Hutchings October 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I’m talking about consenting adults in private conversations, not a state registry of commenters. :-)

If you want to call my libertarian credentials into question though, you probably want to look toward my support of 39th trimester abortion and the death penalty for drivers who do not yield to pedestrians with dogs in cross-walks despite those drivers having a red light.

SheetWise October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Other than consenting adults in private conversation, I would not refer to those positions as credentials.

Brad Hutchings October 10, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I didn’t say I was in the Mises.org wing.

SheetWise October 11, 2011 at 12:54 am

“I didn’t say I was in the Mises.org wing.”

We don’t believe in credentials, so you’re safe with us.
Due diligence on the other hand … ;)

Mikenshmirtz October 11, 2011 at 7:35 am

I wasn’t calling anybody’s anything into question, rather pointing out the irony in your implication that people that people should act more like you if they’re not hiding from something.

Justin P October 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Don’t feed the Trolls. Plain and simple. Also, your not required to get into every fight that presents itself on the internet.

Is there a comment system that lets individual commenters block people they dont want to read, like most chat programs have now?

g-dub October 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I am sympathetic to keeping it open. It think it would get boring and nearly useless, not to mention too much work to moderate posts.

But I do think of forums that were open, usenet groups like alt.politics.economics and sci.econ.

Eventually they just became cesspools — at total waste of time.

I think it has to do with g-dub’s…
Entropy of Poli-Talk Theorem:
It is easy to flood a forum with nonsense. That is, it is nearly effortless to generate garbage. Reasoned responses take effort and time. Thus there will be a tendency towards disordered garbage thinking when considering average quality per post. It is the heat death of a forum.

Nickolaus October 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

To be fair, some of the responses to Muriego are even more unintelligent than his original posts. I’ve seen many of the regulars around here resort to ad hominem name calling, when either ignoring or responding with a clear headed argument should be employed.

I actually do try to read some of his posts, if for nothing but to give myself a check to make sure I am confident enough in my positions that I can defend them against him. Mostly I don’t bother to respond to him other than in my own head, unless I think that he makes a point that is worthy of some thoughtful debate — I suggest all readers employ this tactic.

HaywoodU October 10, 2011 at 5:58 pm

It’s almost impossible to not start spouting at a brick wall that you have been talking to for 5+ years with no response.

Sometimes it just feels good.

Randy October 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Agreed :)

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I suggest all readers employ this tactic.

We all tend to assume our way is best, otherwise we would be employing a different method.

PrometheeFeu October 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Some of us think our way is the best one we could come up with and are looking for a new better way.

SheetWise October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

“… looking for a new better way.”

I think the ‘curious task of economics’ requires more reflection and observation than proactive correction.

IMHO.

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 1:35 am

The curious task of economics…

Well said MT1776

Observer October 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Napoleon

my first comments here were not aggressive but the responses were immediate—idiot, etc.

I have stayed around only to break up the monotony of an endless key boarding project and to test whether there is any talking to anyone here: No.

what has happened since has been sheer fortuity. My intellectual victory has been complete, albeit not that it matters since none reading this will ever admit an error

Don’s statements about Mencken seal the victory. I know all anyone needs to know about who runs this blog and it is out there for the careful reader

Bye Bye — I know you won’t miss me.

A closing word of caution.

Pray your vision of the world does not come to pass. You have no idea of the horrors that will be committed before your eyes before you, like Robespierre, are lead to the Blade, face up.

Napoleon followed the following; all you are doing is making our Napoleon’s way easier.

Robespierre appeared at the Convention on 26 July (8th Thermidor, year II, according to the Revolutionary calendar), and delivered a two-hour-long speech. He defended himself against charges of dictatorship and tyranny, and then proceeded to warn of a conspiracy against the Republic. Robespierre implied that members of the Convention were a part of this conspiracy, though when pressed he refused to provide any names. The speech however alarmed members particularly given Fouché’s warnings. These members who felt that Robespierre was alluding to them tried to prevent the speech from being printed, and a bitter debate ensued until Bertrand Barère forced an end to it. Later that evening, Robespierre delivered the same speech again at the Jacobin Club, where it was very well received.[45]
The next day, Saint-Just began to give a speech in support of Robespierre. However, those who had seen him working on his speech the night before expected accusations to arise from it. He only had time to give a small part of his speech before Jean-Lambert Tallien interrupted him. While the accusations began to pile up, Saint-Just remained uncharacteristically silent. Robespierre then attempted to secure the tribune to speak but his voice was shouted down. Robespierre soon found himself at a loss for words after one deputy called for his arrest and another, Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier, gave a mocking impression of him. When one deputy realised Robespierre’s inability to respond, the man shouted, “The blood of Danton chokes him!”[46]
The Convention ordered the arrest of Robespierre, his brother Augustin, Couthon, Saint-Just, François Hanriot and Le Bas. Troops from the Commune, under General Coffinhal, arrived to free the prisoners and then marched against the Convention itself. The Convention responded by ordering troops of its own under Barras to be called out. When the Commune’s troops heard the news of this, order began to break down, and Hanriot ordered his remaining troops to withdraw to the Hôtel de Ville, where Robespierre and his supporters also gathered. The Convention declared them to be outlaws, meaning that upon verification the fugitives could be executed within twenty-four hours without a trial. As the night went on, the forces of the Commune deserted the Hôtel de Ville and, at around two in the morning, those of the Convention under the command of Barras arrived there. In order to avoid capture, Augustin Robespierre threw himself out of a window; Couthon was found lying at the bottom of a staircase; Le Bas committed suicide; another radical jumped out of the window, only to break both of his legs; yet another shot himself in the head. Robespierre tried to kill himself with a pistol but only managed to shatter his lower jaw,[47] although some eye-witnesses[48] claimed that Robespierre was shot by Charles-André Merda.
For the remainder of the night, Robespierre was moved to a table in the room of the Committee of Public Safety where he awaited execution. He lay on the table bleeding abundantly until a doctor was brought in to fix up his jaw. Although Robespierre was known for his speeches, the last words that have been recorded of him saying are, “Merci, monsieur,” to a man that had kindly given him a handkerchief to sop up some of the blood from his face and his clothing.[49] Later, Robespierre was held in the same containment chamber where Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI, had been held.
The next day, 28 July 1794, Robespierre was guillotined without trial in the Place de la Révolution. His brother Augustin, Couthon, Saint-Just, Hanriot and twelve other followers, among them the cobbler Simon, were also executed. Only Robespierre was guillotined face-up

Dan H October 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

“My intellectual victory has been complete”

This is proof positive that your narcissism will not let you leave forever. You’ll be back. And what intellectual victory? You actually tried to prove that only laws create markets. You didn’t even come close to succeeding.

“Pray your vision of the world does not come to pass. You have no idea of the horrors that will be committed before your eyes before you”

My fiance, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, prays that your vision of the world does not come to pass. But that’s only after she prays for the soul of her dead grandfather, who suffered his last days in a gulag.

Justin P October 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Under a different name probably

brotio October 11, 2011 at 12:32 am

Probably.

It’s about the only credit I’ll give to Yasafi, but after he broke his promise to leave and never come back, he had the guts to come back with his same username.

Most Leftards are not that courageous.

Justin P October 11, 2011 at 12:44 am

courageous or just doesn’t know any better?

brotio October 11, 2011 at 2:24 am

You’ve got a point. It probably took him 35 years to learn how to spell muirgeo. He may not have felt like he’d live long enough to learn a new name.

Kirby October 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Right. And in this metaphor, Robespierre represents the people that claim to be destroying the evil of the past, all while quietly increasing government power and making things even worse, while blaming everything bad on the former form of government.

The two flaws in the metaphor is that free market wasn’t preexisting and that the free market has nothing to do with the king.

Randy October 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm

The kings frequently held power by pretending to be the protectors of the common people – while simultaneosly severely punishing all forms of individual expression or heresy. And what part of the modern political spectrum does that bring to mind?

James N October 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

“My intellectual victory has been complete, albeit not that it matters since none reading this will ever admit an error.”

Danth’s Law!

txslr October 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Toodles!

Ken October 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Zero Aggression Principle. Ever hear of it?

Well, never mind that. You may have posed, but have utterly failed to demonstrate, any relationship between what you “wrote” and what free men and women advocate. Neither have you offered a scintilla of evidence that what you claim flows as a consequence of what free men and women believe.

What you did do was plagiarize a passage from Wikipedia (I thought it was better written than your usual). I give you a zero for the assignment. Count yourself fortunate you don’t receive a failing grade for the semester…though based on your work to date, that outcome is likely anyway.

Now observe this: I’m going to give you one, and unlike you I’ll cite my source: pages 164 and 165 of the 1961 Doubleday Anchor edition of the great Wedgwood’s The Thirty Years War:

“In Prague the gravity of the situation was increased by the necessities of the government. Frederick had begun the trouble by slightly debasing the currency during his year of rule; Ferdinand’s nominee, Liechtenstein, continued the process, reduced the amount of silver in the coinage by more than seventy-five percent and attempted to fill the imperial coffers — and his own — with the profit which he made on the mint. In January 1622 Ferdinand, in hope of further gain, made a contract with a group of speculators for the establishment of a privately controlled mint in Prague. The currency was drastically debased while prices were forcibly stabilized; the plan failed utterly, for the people became suspicious and hoarded what good money they had, while in spite of the provision of the government, food alone rose to twelve times its normal price. External trade stopped altogether and for the ordinary exchanges of everyday life the people took to barter. To add to the damage done by this crazy scheme, the chief object of the contractors was rather their own enrichment than the payment of Ferdinand’s debts.

“At this moment Ferdinand was besieged with demands to buy the confiscated lands. The local nobility and many wealthy merchants offered him what had once been fair prices in the Prague money, prices which he could not now refuse to take without repudiating his own currency. It was one thing to sell the lands and another to make use of the money; Ferdinand had accepted his own coin, but his soldiers threw it back in their officers’ faces, because the local peasants would not take it in exchange for the necessities of life. Throughout Bohemia trade came almost to a standstill, the peasants would not provide the towns with food, the army was mutinous, the civil population starving, and certain contractors, of whom Liechtenstein was not least, were among the richest men in Europe. At Christmas 1623, Ferdinand devaluated the money and broke the contract. By that time the greater part of the confiscated land had been sold for an average price of less than a third its normal value. His first move towards financial security had been catastrophic, for nor only had he lost the advantage of the confiscation, but he had completed the economic ruin of Bohemia. Wealth, which had been widely distributed among an industrious peasantry and an active urban population, had become, through political persecution and the disastrous effects of the inflation, concentrated in a few unscrupulous hands. As a source of imperial revenue Bohemia had become useless.”

You know who/what followed that, more or less? Wallenstein.

Any number can play that game, and most of us are considerably more adept at it than you. Class dismissed.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm

A hardline libertarian party in one of the newest, smallest and poorest members of Europe’s single currency looks set to throw a spanner in the machinery of expanding the eurozone’s bail-out fund – seen as crucial to restoring market confidence in the bloc.

Despite pressure from across the continent, Richard Sulik, leader of Slovakia’s libertarian Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, repeated on Sunday that his party would reject the measure.

“We are a classical liberal party. We are defenders of the Austrian school of economics,” says Juraj Droba, an SaS MP, describing his party’s relationship with the neoliberal school.

Over the years other liberals have had their ideological edges smoothed by the give-and-take of government. But Mr Sulik only entered politics last year and is still an ardent ideologue.
“For Sulik it is not a question of popularity, it’s a question of doctrine,” says Grigorij Meseznikov. “He is a libertarian and he does not have the sense of the EU being a community.

And so, the end of the World may have begun

Cliff October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

The end of the world, or of the EU? Was the EU ever really a good idea?

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Let’s hope Sulik holds out. The expansion of the ESFS is the a heinous idea.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

if trade is good, why do you want to destroy an institution that facilities trade like the EU and Euro?

kyle8 October 11, 2011 at 6:51 am

Does it really facilitate trade? Yes, I know it has knocked down tariff barriers but that was in it’s old form. Since the last decade the EU has been responsible for thousands upon thousands of rules, regulations, and restraints of trade in favor of some group or another.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 7:56 am

Nikolai,

The Euro was a stupid idea – a way for France and Germany to expand their political influence. You don’t need the Euro in order to have free trade. All European countries have to do is agree to get out of each others’ way.

The Euro has led to a reduction in the borrowing rate of the most profligate countries. Now, it has suddenly become the responsibility of the French and German citizens to subsidize the profligacy of the PIIGS? The alternative is the end of the world? Hardly.

I don’t know how old you are. Judging by your name, you and I are from the same part of the world. Don’t you already know first hand what happens when everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else?

Stone Glasgow October 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

How did the Euro expand the influence of France and Germany?

Ken October 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

good solid evidence that trade has destroyed US Incomes

http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/10/10/chart-of-the-day-median-income-edition/

10% decline in median incomes in last 10 years

Cliff October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Okay, let’s plot income versus trade over time, and let’s not limit ourselves to the last 10 years. What do you find?

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm

are you suggesting that trade makes incomes go down and then brings this back up? by what mechanism.

charts generally show median income declining since Arab Oil Embargo

Ghengis Khak October 11, 2011 at 12:50 am

The above link has nothing relating to trade.

Gil October 11, 2011 at 1:09 am

If those incomes were attained via protectionism and unionism then they deserve to disappear.

kyle8 October 11, 2011 at 6:54 am

In the last ten years we have seen an incredible growth in government, in regulation, and in debt both private and public.

That is a much more reasonable explanation for a slow down in wage growth.

Don Boudreaux October 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

Nikolai Luzhin: Do you seriously believe that the graph that you link to is “evidence that trade has destroyed US incomes”? Do you believe that the only change over the time period presented in the graph is increasing liberalization of trade? Are no other factors possibly at work to explain those trends – for example, the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008?

I honestly cannot tell if you are serious. If you’re being facetious, forgive me for not realizing for sure that you are. (This site has more than its share of people who childishly leap from fact A to conclusion X without ever pausing to ponder whether or not A really is plausibly linked to X even theoretically, or to consider that – in a complex, modern economy – many variables are always changing and that changes, not in A, but instead in some other variable or variables, B and C, might possibly better explain X.)

But if you are serious, well, read again my parenthetical remark in the previous paragraph.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

” Are no other factors possibly at work to explain those trends – for example, the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008?”

The housing bubble WAS a result of decreased incomes. As wages were squeezed more and more debt was needed to maintain demand. Wall Street arranged the chairs on the Titanic to tap into home equity since they could break into the social security trust fund.

The following explanation by Ravi Batra far better fits the facts and looks at the primary cause of the economic collapse of which the housing bubble was just a secondary effect. In other words we could have avoided the housing bubble but would still be left with a weak economy.

The Neoliberal Economy in a Nutshell

Why is it so hard to believe American workers wages might go down when forced to compete with Chinese workers making 1/20th of what American workers?

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

Nikolai,

Read this summary of what happened to our economy and compare it to the claims you’ll see made here. Over time it becomes very apparent who’s alibi fits the facts.

The Neoliberal Economy in a Nutshell

Greg Webb October 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm

My intellectual victory has been complete

LOL! Yes, if victory represented incoherent ramblings, illogical statements, non sequiturs, personal attacks, and prevarications, then you are victorious. Otherwise, not.

dsylexic October 11, 2011 at 1:27 am

nonsense.internet trolls dont go away.they merely change avatars.see you soon!

Andy October 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Given your (Russ and Don’s) interest in economic communication, have you ever thought of creating a real discussion forum? Something like the Mises Institute has, for example. There really aren’t many out there devoted to economics, I think it’d be a great alternative.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I made this same comment up thread to Craig, but here it stands on it on.

If you squelch the offender do you also squelch all the comments that can be called a reply to the offender? If that were true then very quickly it will become apparent to even some one as intentionally stupid as muriduck, that anything he says will be a waste of time because every one will put him on their list and not being seen means also not being replied to.

In short order the offender would weed himself out. There would never be any replies to anything he says.

This could have a down side if an undiscerning and generally ignorant individual visits and see muirduck’s ignorant/stupid comments and they are never challenged, the undiscerning may interpret that as his comments are valid.

PrometheeFeu October 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thank you for keeping this an open forum Don. I think that is the best policy. There is a technological solution which would be nice to see here. The basic idea is that users can “Report” a comment which they feel to not be useful. Once a certain critical mass of “Report” has been achieved, the comment in question is hidden behind a link saying something along the lines of: “The community has deemed this comment to not be useful to the discussion”. Clicking the link displays the comment. That way, the comment is still available but will most often be ignored. I find this to be a nice way to deal with very bad commenters.

Hal_10000 October 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

He used to be a nuisance on our blog but either left or was plonked by the Admin. I hope he didn’t find his way here through us.

Dan H October 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

So muirgeo spends time trolling other sites too AND has his own blog? When does he ever see patients? Is he really a doctor? If so, does he still practice?

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

When does he ever see patients?

Never, I pray.

does he still practice?

Let’s hope not.

Hal_10000 October 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Is he claiming to be a doctor now?

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Was he claiming to be something else on your blog, Hal?

AlexInCT October 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm

He was not only claiming to be a doctor, but a big wig administrator of some government hospital. As I told him then: if he has a doctorate it is in stupid, not medicine.

Greg Webb October 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I really don’t believe that muirgeo is a pediatrician. No one can be that stupid that has made it through medical school.

Seattle Outcast October 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

He was claiming to be a teacher at one point. Nobody believed him.

I think he’s actually a student judging by his “style”, grammar (or rather, the lack of), and gross immaturity.

You can call him “moogoo” if you want…

Dan H October 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Omigosh this would be soooooo funny if he got outed as a fraud.

Gil October 11, 2011 at 1:12 am
muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 2:22 am

Yeah Hal I left your blog on my own after the owners were acting as if they were my mother…. I noticed your comments have went back to 1 or 2 a post as they were before I started commenting there…. How exciting. Indeed the level of certainty there was so great they were 100% convinced I am not a physician… they were dead certain of it. Really bizarre. It made me understand that those people were gonna believe only what they wanted to believe. .. a true psycho ward over there since Lee’s unfortuate passing and your inability rise above the nut-jobedness that prevailed. You had me fooled for a bit there as some one reasonable and interested in a dialogue but being a pediatrician I do understand the nature of peer pressure.

Steve_0 October 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I have attempted ignoring, then engaging, then advocating everyone ignore… nothing seems to work.

One BodyBuilder.com, the “negative” and “positive” reputation points work well. And it isn’t simply a homonegeity engine as you might imagine. People who disagree but are thoughtful and productive get their say because enough people respect them. The TED Talks website uses a promotion system, where the better posts get bumped up, and bad ones get bumped down. I believe Freakonomics does the same.

I would be happy to see Muirgeo continue to participate in a semi-market system in which his behavior survives the system.

If this were a real Cafe, the town drunk would have sent your other customers away long ago. I know I have decreased my activity here substantially. This is a Bastiat, “seen and unseen” moment. It is difficult to measure how much damage he has done to your primary purpose.

ColoComment October 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Has anyone actually seen Muirgeo? Could this be his realself?
Sounds like it could be him….
http://tinyurl.com/3zjewlc

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm
Dr. John October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Ohmygosh! I’m taking my website down. I’d hate to be confused with that guy!

Fred October 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

He even looks like a moron.

John Dewey October 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Professor Boudreaux: “Does ignoring him not avoid at least the brunt of the problem?”

It does for me.

Some who reply to muirgeo must view him so much as a problem but as an opportunity. Where your email author may believe that muirgeo has

“single-handedly reduced the effectiveness and value of your blog”

others apparently do not share that opinion about his value at Cafe Hayek.

Krishnan October 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

It is indeed best to simply ignore. There is nothing you can do about it.

This incident will only make him even more obnoxious than he already is – look at the attention, the traffic.

You cannot prevent him from commenting on your posts – but you can ignore his. Just ignore.

There are some people who are so stuck in whatever they believe in, that they will twist the facts and data to conform to the mental structures they have created.

I have also enjoyed the posts, comments – and yes, often it is difficult to impossible to navigate through the trash, but I still prefer that than to have the bloggers (Russ/Don) decide to reject some comments because they do not conform exactly to what the bloggers believe.

Who knows – perhaps this piece of work being discussed is President Obama himself – I will never forget his response to Charlie Gibson about the capital gains tax and how revenues went up when the tax rate was cut – and Obama said “It is a question of fairness” – yes, he elaborated some on that later – but it is clear that even if we can demonstrate that a tax cut can increase revenue, Obama would say “No, the rich should not get money even if the rich land up creating the jobs” – i.e. there is simply nothing anyone can say or write to change what Obama will believe in – no matter what – Oh yes, he will say whatever the loonies want to attempt to win elections – sure.

So, ignore. I know, we cannot ignore Obama – even though it looks like the country has stopped listening to him (ignoring him).

Just Another Mike October 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

It does seem, as of late, the “Operation Occupy Cafe Hayek” has commenced. Like those that are occupying wall street, you just have to shake your head at the comments they make.
I am a 100% supporter of First Amendment rights. But if some one is unwilling engage in an open/honest exchange of ideas on a discussion board dedicated to that purpose. Or do nothing more than spew their talking points ad nauseam.
Then they really should apply this axiom:
“Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it”.
or better yet go play Angry Birds or some other activity suited to their intellect.

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I am a 100% supporter of First Amendment rights.

That only means the government can’t shut you up. Your boss or a blog host doesn’t have to put up with claptrap.

Just Another Mike October 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Wasn’t trying to imply they did. Sorry if it came across that way. Don and Russ certainly are in the right if they chose allow, dis-allow, or regulate comments in any manner they see fit. At least for now (not, if some would have their way).

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Oh, well thanks for clearing that up. I’m sure you’re aware of the number of people who think the First Amendment right means that they can say whatever they want without any consequences from anyone.

Don Boudreaux October 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

For the record, as Methinks correctly and properly suggests, the First Amendment was not written to apply to private entities. As a matter of our chosen policy, Russ and I do not delete comments here at the Cafe. But we reserve the right to do so – and should we change our policy, nothing whatsoever about the First Amendment would be implicated or offended in the least. If we chose, say, only to allow fawning hosannas to our brilliance to be published as comments, that would be perfectly acceptable as a matter of law.

Brad DeLong, for example, in no remote way violates any law or the First Amendment by deleting from his blog comments that he finds to be disagreeable or otherwise objectionable. It’s his blog. And he fully entitled to do with it as he pleases,

One of the many problems with political thought these days is the confusion of the “public” for the private. It’s a dangerous confusion.

g-dub October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm

[quote="Don Boudreaux"]It’s a dangerous confusion.[/quote]

I would phase it as intentional obfuscation.

SheetWise October 11, 2011 at 12:16 am

“One of the many problems with political thought these days is the confusion of the ‘public’ for the private. It’s a dangerous confusion.”

This less-than-clear conclusion is where I land when I look at the history I record. Forty years ago when my grandfather bought a new 30″ self propelled snow blower that could clear unwanted snow, he didn’t stop at his property line — he cleared the entire city block. He would have cleared the entire city if we hadn’t reined him in. He was having fun. Was he expecting something in return? Probably. But it wasn’t monetary.

David October 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Simply ignore Muirgeo’s comments. They are usually one sentence sound bites he heard from Rachel Madcow. I have been following this blog for over a year and I have yet to see him advance the discussion with a fact-based rebuttal.

John Dewey October 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I wonder how much muirgeo is relishing the fact that his annoyance at Cafe Hayek has generated a post by Professor Boudreaux and over 50 comments. It must stroke his ego.

Methinks1776 October 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

This isn’t the first time. Remember Don’s “Muirgeo is not an Idiot” post a few hears ago?

David October 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

lol

Seth October 10, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Sounds a bit like the government — rewarding failure.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 8:47 am

It’s giving him exactly what he wants.

James Strong October 10, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Only tangentially relevant but I find it really hard to wade through the comments here at the Cafe. The indenting system gets confusing in a long thread and quite often it’s hard to discern who is responding to who.

I think if there was somehow a more effective way of grouping replies to comments the “thoughtful” threads of conversation could be more easily accessed.

James Strong October 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Maybe a +1, -1 rating system on threads that would order the threads by priority instead of first-posted would work?

SheetWise October 11, 2011 at 12:45 am

Actually — it would be interesting to see an economics blog in a vBulletin format, where the cream rose to the top.

James Strong October 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Also: http://cafehayek.com/2008/08/welcome-back-mu.html

I guess things have changed a tad, heh heh heh.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Muirduck, like Invisible Backhand, Observer, Cao Dung, Stephan, and the other manifestations of the looney left, do not come to the Cafe to learn, they do not come to the Cafe to engage in open honest debate, they come to disrupt at a minimum, or destroy preferably.

indianajim October 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm

If they are so motivated as you say, not unbelievable, their efforts backfire completely. Their arguments are not unlike those they typify the, to use your term, loony left. These arguments are easily dismissed by those ignoring them or debunked by those who want to make points that while they go over the heads of the would be destroyers might intrigue more typical Cafe patrons.

Gil October 11, 2011 at 1:16 am

Debate? There’s no such thing only firestorms.

Dan Grayson October 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Here’s a website where comments/answers get effectively rated:

http://mathoverflow.net/

You could emulate that system.

James Strong October 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Yeah, some websites have systems in place where if a comment gets enough negative votes it is hidden in the thread (but can be shown by clicking a button). They work pretty well.

James N October 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Well, if nothing else, muirgeo gets his fifteen minutes of fame.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

Again.

DeansDesk October 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Don’t Feed the Animals. Simple. Effective.

Don October 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Guys,

Not sure if somebody posted this, but bere’s one such rating system for comments.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gd-star-rating/

tomharvey October 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Rather than voting down comments, how about collapsing all replies below the first level, by default or at least by option? This could restrain some interesting side discussions by reducing their default visibility, but it might make it a lot easier to follow a smaller number of more on-topic comments that respond directly to the original article.

I did like the “like” button for voting up comments, however. And although I also agree with the general sentiment to not feed the trolls, I have noticed that there are rare occasions where the confirmed statists speak the truth, usually accidentally, and I do recommend piling on with agreement and encouragement in those instances.

House of Cards October 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I would ban only one commenter – vidyohs. He repeats his “looniness” ad nauseum, and he is highly insulting and inciting. In my opinion, he would have been a Brownshirt in Nazi Germany. He is old and unwise, but he shouldn’t be forgiven for being old, because as I said he strikes me as potentially dangerous with his admitted penchant for shooting little animals in his backyard that did nothing to him except for dig a hole or two. He worked for the government and takes a pension, yet he bites the hand that fed and continues to feed him. That is beyond being an ingrate to the point of being a deranged, reactionary malcontent. I would only ban him and not for his heinous, disruptive comments. I would ban him because he should be under psychiatric treatment for malevolence, and for being totally off his rocker.

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Bwa ha ha ha ha, hey looney lefty, your problem is that you don’t know shit. Totally clueless.

kyle8 October 11, 2011 at 6:58 am

Gee, I wonder why I would much rather spend time with, and drink a beer with, Vidyohs, than spend a moment with a limp spine lefty like you?

Randy October 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Question; Is the above irony? I get confused about the precise definition of the word, but I think this is irony.

Jack Hackett October 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Interesting how the star character himself is absent from this comment section!

Seattle Outcast October 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

This is amusing – he was banned from RTFLC for the exact same behavior

ben October 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

If the site can remember who I am (which it already does) then the problem can be solved by support of a comments filter. In usenet the term was killfile. Worked a treat but has not emerged in the blogosphere for some reason.

I hope, no doubt in vain, that Muirgeo will understand the difference between reasonable disagreement on ideas, and unreasonable spamming of ideas. Hayek himself would no doubt recognise the value of new and different ideas, even if they were ultimately found disagreeable. But he would also no doubt be frustrated if folks spammed him with the same few ideas, however unrelated, for five years no matter what he said. Muirgeo is a cancer on this blog.

thedirtymac October 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

If Muirgeo focused on actual libertarian arguments rather than constantly attacking strawmen, he might make a contribution to this site. He doesn’t.

steve October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I read widely across the blogosphere. There is a tendency on the right and left to want to create echo chambers. However, my experience is that libertarians may be the worst (commenters that is, there are certainly quite a few writers who are willing to be challenged). This sounds like an attempt by commenters to achieve an echo chamber. I hope it is resisted.

Steve

Daniel Kuehn October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Muirgeo is persistently substanceless, be he is not the only problem with the comment thread. Cafe Hayek has a reputation for having a hostile comment thread, and it’s not from muirgeo (problematic as he may be). I’ve come to the point where I have to be very selective in commenting. One can only take being called an anti-market government shell so much.

Daniel Kuehn October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

*government shill

MWG October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

“One can only take being called an anti-market government shell so much.”

I think you mean ‘shill’… moron… Just kidding.

MWG October 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting. I will use the refresh button before posting.

Daniel Kuehn October 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm

:) that’s ok – I still got a laugh out of it.

socal bill October 11, 2011 at 12:45 am

Oh God, forgive us from putting you, Sir Kuehn, through all this, that you must be so selective in your commenting. It must be hell to be called an anti-market government shell! Please accept our most humble apoligies. No hostile comments here…oh no no no. We like you Dan, really!!

Ghengis Khak October 11, 2011 at 1:03 am

I agree with Daniel here. There is quite a lot of hostility toward him and others that disagree with the general consensus around here. Many of these people perhaps warrant disdain, though I think ignoring them or not being so openly hostile would make for a better atmosphere around here.

I also don’t think Daniel is deserving of this disdain since his comments are usually pretty thoughtful and polite, even though I may disagree with him on some matters of economics/politics.

dsylexic October 11, 2011 at 1:37 am

the problem with Daniel is is tyler cowenesque flipflopping.he can carry mutually contradictory ideas with no apparent trouble in his head.
so if somebody points out a mistake,he usually splits hairs or plays the i-was-misquoted card. otherwise he is a value add here.i liked his comments on the 1921 depression.made me read up more

vidyohs October 11, 2011 at 6:36 am

DK reaps as he has sown. With his very first comment on this Cafe he was disingenuous with his wording, and as dsylexic below points out, he has never modified or altered his style yet. Everything he writes sounds pretty decent until you hit the exit trap door he builds into his comments that allow him to escape or to slide off into a different direction as if he never really made the first comment.

And, every comment he makes seems to take you to his soft socialism. Soft or hard socialism is socialism and the soft variety if allowed to propagate will turn into the hard variety when it achieves a majority.

He has been called on it repeatedly and never seems to get it.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm

There are many rough-and-tumble debaters here. Vidyohs and Ken (Regards) probably agree 75% of the time, but when they’re debating each other over that 25% they go at each other as vociferously as they go after the Statists. This is true of many other regulars here, as well.

Methinks wrote a great post about why she spends so much time on Daniel Kuehn. I’d link the thread if I remembered where it was. Point is, Daniel gets the rough-and-tumble treatment when I disagree with his Statist views. He’s also gotten his fair share of ‘like’s when he posts things that I’m in agreement with.

Yasafi gets the rough-and-tumble treatment because he’s stupid, rude, and mean. He came into this Cafe with those attributes, and it didn’t take long before he was getting the rude and mean right back. Sam Grove held out the longest, which was admirable, because Yasafi singled Sam out especially for the rudeness (even more so than Methinks). Eventually, even Sam started treating Yasafi with the same respect Yasafi had always shown Sam. Yasafi reaps what he sows.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 1:55 am

“Muirgeo is persistently substanceless… ”

So you think my claims that inequality, stagnant wages, and poor demand explain a lot of of economic woes are substanceless?

You think it’s substanceless to question our trade policy?

You think it’s not reasonable to consider libertarian doctrine a radical departure from what has been working in our social democracies these last 100 years?

Are you saying the positions I take are NOT represented by well respected economist?

I consider myself a Keynesian and you know how they distort what that means yet you see mine as the substanceless position… hmmm. I am mostly comforted by the fact that substanceless doesn’t appear to be a word.

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

Persistently, not universally.

It’s as much that you make sweeping statements about things like markets without really seeming to understand what the claim is by economists. You are concerned with issues that many very good economists are concerned about, but you present your case with a dismissiveness of things like markets that most economists don’t share with you. You’re entitled to be opinionated and declarative, but just know that a lot of people here don’t consider many of these positions to be substantive.

That having been said, there are a ton of commenters on here on Don’s side of the political spectrum that do exactly the same thing as you do: vidyohs, Sam Grove, etc. Don will never have a negative post up about them because he seems to overlook their economics because of their ideological affinity with him. I personally put you, vidyohs, etc. in roughly the same boat. It’s more that you are very attached to unwarranted claims grounded in your politics, and you’re overestimating the objective case for those claims.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

“It’s as much that you make sweeping statements about things like markets without really seeming to understand what the claim is by economists.”

So are Don and Russ’s claims ever sweeping. They’ll tell you Keynes was a fool and his ideas are dead. But you can look at the current economy and see growth in Great Britton and here after the stimulus and stagnation and decreases in GDP when austerity was pushed.

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

I think Don and Russ provide extremely problematic commentary – particularly about Keynes – and the popularity of their blog is precisely why I think it’s important to meet that poor analysis head on. Critiques of you aren’t a free pass for them.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

OK then, I think it’s unfair of you to claim I am problematic for my sweeping statements when you admit the professors are guilty as well. And still I do take your criticism to heart because it is accurate and maybe a matter of degree and I can do better sticking to the relevant facts. I’m just clarifying that that there seems to be a double standard and that indeed your opinion DOES matter to me.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 2:14 am

“Muirgeo is persistently substanceless…”

This indeed is the hardest criticism for me to take. It does give me pause. But just think of the attacks Daniel takes…STRICTLY … for having a position. He never lowers himself to the level of his attackers and yet the attacks continue… so again the problem threads aren’t just because of me but more I suspect because of my position and some people not being big enough to simply pass by the FDR avatar.

brotio October 11, 2011 at 2:48 am

Daniel gets slammed for disingenuousness, never for lack of intelligence. When Daniel chooses to debate without being coy and disingenuous, he proves himself to be a pretty smart guy.

Actually, when he’s coy and disingenuous he still proves himself to be pretty intelligent. Stupid people can’t be disingenuous. You prove that every time you try.

vidyohs October 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

:-) Like +1

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

Disginenuousness for you guys usually just means that you refuse to want to believe I am pro-market because you’ve gotten it in your heads that anyone that’s pro-market has to be a libertarian, and nobody that things government is a decent and reasonable thing can be pro-market.

That’s literally all it boils down to 95% of the time.

It’s one of the most vaccuous things that’s ever been leveled against me and it says a hell of a lot more about you guys than it does about me.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

+1

Fred October 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

In the Incomes are Created, Not “Distributed” thread you came off as if everyone sees the word “distributed” and thinks “standard normal density function” instead of “who is doing the distributing?”.

Perhaps you honestly believe that the average layperson sees the word “distributed” and thinks back to college statistics, but I think the more plausible explanation is that you’re disingenuously playing with words because it’s an intellectually dishonest game that you like to play because it gets you giddy when vid and others go off on you.

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

re: “He never lowers himself to the level of his attackers”

Well strictly speaking that’s not true… I do my best though.

kyle8 October 11, 2011 at 7:02 am

Daniel your comments are well worded and thoughtful, but sometimes infuriating in their own way. You can hold two opposed opinions sometimes within the very same comment!

Now perhaps that is the way your mind works, carefully balancing many different thoughts and opinions at the same time. Perhaps you are a true genius in that way. But it makes other people think that you are disingenuous, or just playing around.

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

I often find that recognizing there are tradeoffs gets read as “splitting hairs” or “holding two contradictory opinions” on here.

Sorry – if you can’t live with the fact that there are tradeoffs in all of these questions we discuss, you can’t discuss them intelligently.

A science of fallible primates making tradeoffs is not a science where you’re going to see a lot of black-and-white answers.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

I often find that recognizing there are tradeoffs gets read as “splitting hairs” or “holding two contradictory opinions” on here.

No, my dear, nobody is mistaking your hair-splitting with trade-offs. You can sooth yourself with that lie, but it’s still a lie.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 10:48 am

No, it isn’t. A person can agree with 99% of what is said here, and the moment that person disagrees, even slightly, s/he gets labeled a statist.

Freedom versus authoritarianism isn’t binary–there are shades of grey that represent the trade offs inherent in any social contract.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 11:00 am

Michael, nobody said it is. Nobody accuses Danny of splitting hairs on that issue. He’s either deliberately lying about that or he’s fooling himself.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

What social contract?
The one I signed in my mother’s blood when I was born?
Was it the one I signed when I did not make a decision to leave the country?
Where’s my copy?
I seem to have misplaced it.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

Also, if you agree with 95% of what is said, but don’t agree with the key 5%, then you may be a statist and don’t know it. If you don’t like your views challenged, then don’t put them up for criticism in a public place. Life is, you know, just a series of trade-offs.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 11:31 am

Methinks, Kuehn is often accused of being a statist because he doesn’t toe the line on this blog. The point is, if you aren’t in 100% agreement with a select few on this blog, they label you a statist. Look at the response to John Dewey’s views on Social Security…

Fred, I’m referring the US Constitution. The document that provides the framework for most of the policies that, you know, get discussed here.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 11:46 am

“Fred, I’m referring the US Constitution.”

The US Constitution does not put obligations on members of society.

The “social contract” does.

I don’t think you are using the term correctly.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

Fred,

No, I’ve got it right. Social contracts describe the relationships between citizens and government, specifically, the amount of freedom you’re willing to give up for a given measure of security.

Wikipedia has a nice summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract

Fred October 11, 2011 at 11:59 am

“Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals — that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government — that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen’s protection against the government.” –Ayn Rand

“Social contract” refers to what members of society are obligated to do. For example the “social contract” says that because I am forced to pay for my parents’ and grandparents’ retirement and health care through payroll taxes, I have the right to force my children and grandchildren to do the same for me.
That’s a obligation on members of society.

The constitution contains nothing of the sort.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Fred,

Nothing in your Ayn Rand quote contradicts generally accepted notions of social contracts. Read the wiki link–the term doesn’t mean what you think it does.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Michael,

Keuhn’s views are often statist. He is deeply attached to the fantasy of a good and pure government toiling for a better future for all. It’s naivete on his part. I don’t think he’s being disingenuous, but I can’t understand why you object to calling him out on those things.

BTW, your reading of the “social contract” is entirely different from mine. And that’s the problem with social contracts. Basically, you’re saying that it dictates how much freedom you’re willing to give up for the promise of politicians to hold a gun to somebody else’s head to pay for your security. There is no such document.

There is what I’ve always perceived (and Vikingvista will probably correct me) as an operating agreement between citizen and government called a constitution. My providing for your security is not in it. Nor is you obligation to provide for mine Thus, this social contract you describe does not exist.

It may be a social norm to help your fellow man in need. I certainly accept that. Of course you help out people in need, few of us wouldn’t. But, that is not a formal contract.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Methinks,

First, I minor point of contention. Kuehn’s views certainly fall to the left of your’s and mine, but that doesn’t make him any more a statist than does your’s or my preference for less government than muirgeo prefers, makes us anarchists.

Take a look at John Dewey’s view of Social Security. He’s been around a long time and he very consistently falls on a side that we might call pro-freedom. And yet, when he takes a different view on Social Security, many here accused him of being a state-loving, violence advocating idiot. It doesn’t make any sense. (I’m not accusing you of doing this–I’m not sure if I made that clear. As I recall you were rather respectful to Dewey on this front) We shouldn’t pretend that it doesn’t happen.

Two, regarding social contracts, what I describe absolutely exists, it just isn’t the formalized contract that you seem to be inferring it is. Social contracts have never been written about as if they were formal contracts, so I’m not entirely certain where this notion comes from.

The idea, often quoted by libertarians (and often quoted on this blog) that government exists only to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens originated in the Lockean notion of the social contract. It isn’t specifically spelled out in the Constitution because it’s implicit in the idea of the state.

My apologies for the wall of text. I hate being verbose.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Michael,

Read what I wrote carefully.

Keuhn’s views are often statist.. Is there a reason for your visceral objection to pointing out that statist views are statist?

but that doesn’t make him any more a statist than does your’s or my preference for less government than muirgeo prefers, makes us anarchists.

Did that really make sense to you when you wrote it?

I don’t recall John Dewey being called an idiot. Although, I’ve been called an idiot and many other things on this blog and in other places. Shit happens. What do you propose to do about this pressing issue? I don’t think its a “problem” worth solving. Some people aren’t going to like you and they’re not going to be polite. C’est la vie.

vikingvista rightly took John Dewey to task for his willingness to abuse innocents because he was abused. I agree that this is morally repulsive. The only thing I said is that I understand that John Dewey is simply telling the truth. The incentives for him are what they are and he is not expected to act against his self-interest. Socialism presents a long series of morally repulsive choices. John Dewey is a man who can handle a heated discussion. I don’t think it destroyed him.

Look, I confess to not giving much thought to the social contract. I’ve not thought deeply about this issue. However, I do know that any contract where I try to make you pay for my security is not worth the non-paper it is unwritten on. It’s worthless because you will not forgo time with your family to toil for mine.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Methinks,

This is the last time I’ll attempt to make myself clear. The dogma here is particularly grating.

Read what I wrote carefully.

Keuhn’s views are often statist.. Is there a reason for your visceral objection to pointing out that statist views are statist?

I have read you carefully. You aren’t reading me carefully enough. Muigeo often accuses libertarians of being anarchists because we prefer less government than he does. The error in his reasoning was repeatedly pointed out to him. You, and others, play the “statist” card every time someone hints at wanting marginally more government than you. I have a problem with this hypocrisy.

Shit happens. What do you propose to do about this pressing issue? I don’t think its a “problem” worth solving. Some people aren’t going to like you and they’re not going to be polite.

I don’t propose to do anything. I’m not trying to change anyone–I’m just pointing out the 900 pound gorilla in the room. This place is easy to troll, and most of the folks responding to the trolls are easily exasperated by them–they invite it. I understand you don’t like having that pointed out to you, but c’est la vie, right?

I won’t bore other readers anymore with the history Lockean political thought. If you’re interested in more you can email me, but I’m not a very good teacher.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm

You, and others, play the “statist” card every time someone hints at wanting marginally more government than you.

It’s not a matter of “want”. It’s a matter of principle.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

The dogma here is particularly grating.

Too bad.

Ken October 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Michael,

Having the government do anything other than preserve liberty IS statist; while it’s true that some things are more statist than other, there is still nothing wrong with pointing out that the “small” statist propositions is statist.

Tyranny, even petty tyranny, should be stamped out. Kuehn isn’t a libertarian. He seems to be a utilitarian, often more concerned with economic efficiency and economic growth than liberty. Many see nothing wrong with taking away others’ liberty in the pursuit of the greater good. But don’t ever kid yourself that the taking away of liberty isn’t statist.

Regards,
Ken

John Dewey October 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Michael,

I appreciate your thoughts about the responses to my comments on Social Security. Methinks is correct when she wrote:

“John Dewey is a man who can handle a heated discussion. I don’t think it destroyed him.”

Actually, the heated responses to my comments and what I believe to be my calm responses back show that my critics were more bothered by the exchange than I was. I think it is difficult to accept that someone who consistently advocates freedom will, in the end, act in their own self-interest. I expect to again be called a hypocrit for that last sentence, but that won’t bother me.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Ken,

Having the government do anything other than preserve liberty IS statist

So a person who agrees with you in every regard accept that s/he believes, I don’t say, that government ought to build and maintain roads, is a statist? No one is that ideologically pure. The statist epithet is thrown around far too casually.

But don’t ever kid yourself that the taking away of liberty isn’t statist.

Unless you advocate pure anarchy (what we might call Hobbes’ state of nature) then you are statist as well–I doubt you want your neighbor having the liberty to kill you, if the mood strikes him.

The struggle between liberty and security is a series of trade offs. The is, what trade offs are worth it? That some prefers a particular trade off that you don’t doesn’t make them a statist or you an anarchist.

Drop the silly labels and debate the ideas.

Ken October 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Michael,

“So a person who agrees with you in every regard accept that s/he believes, I don’t say, that government ought to build and maintain roads, is a statist?”

Yes. A person living in Wyoming shouldn’t be forced to pay for roads in New York. People should pay for what they use. This problem is solved by the free markets. People who use privately owned roads are the ones who pay for it through tolls.

“Unless you advocate pure anarchy (what we might call Hobbes’ state of nature) then you are statist as well”

False. Having a well run police and military, as well as an impartial judiciary to adjudicate disputes, are the primary concern of government.

Drop the silly arguments and understand what liberty is.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Michael,

Just so you know, I don’t usually identify people as statists because they think government should build roads. It usually requires a combination of statements for me to come to that conclusion – usually over multiple threads and many posts.

You may consider that you’re just coming into a prolonged conversation with someone and thinking you have all the facts when you don’t.

Also, different people have different tolerances. We are who we are/ Your level of tolerance for certain things may be greater or smaller than other people’s. I don’t understand your compulsion to bend everyone to your level nor do I understand your inability to understand the basic reality of differences between people. Why must someone who finds any state intervention to be unacceptable fall in line with you?

Michael October 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

John Dewey,

I didn’t imply that it did destroy (whatever that means), or at the very least I didn’t intend to imply it.

I only point to the responses to your views to illustrate what seems to me to be rank hypocrisy among some of the regulars here.

the heated responses to my comments and what I believe to be my calm responses back show that my critics were more bothered by the exchange than I was

For what it’s worth, I agree with you, but then, it doesn’t seem terribly difficult to get underneath anyone’s skin on this blog.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Ken,

Having a well run police and military, as well as an impartial judiciary to adjudicate disputes, are the primary concern of government.

I agree that is a proper function of government. What you seem to fail to realize is that this is a tacit limitation on liberty.

You can’t have it both ways.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Actually, the heated responses to my comments and what I believe to be my calm responses back show that my critics were more bothered by the exchange than I was.

John Dewey, of course they were. The responders found your stance highly immoral. It is immoral. I’m just deadened to it because I grew up with the mantra “if you’re not stealing from the government (read: your fellow citizens), you’re stealing from your family. When legitimate paths to betterment of one’s life are cut off, people will do what is necessary.

rank hypocrisy among some of the regulars here.

What hypocrisy are you talking about? Taking issue (however strongly or weakly ) with someone’s view is not hypocrisy, Michael.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Methinks,

You may consider that you’re just coming into a prolonged conversation with someone and thinking you have all the facts when you don’t.

I’ve been posting/lurking her for three or four years. I used to post as MnM, if that rings any bells.

I don’t understand your compulsion to bend everyone to your level nor do I understand your inability to understand the basic reality of differences between people.

I have no idea what this means. I’m not asking anyone to do anything.

Why must someone who finds any state intervention to be unacceptable fall in line with you?

They don’t. Have I implied otherwise?

Ken October 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Michael,

“I agree that is a proper function of government. What you seem to fail to realize is that this is a tacit limitation on liberty.”

No it isn’t because no one defines liberty as being able to do whatever you want. Everyone, even anarchists, believes that liberty doesn’t include me taking my neighbor’s stuff or raping my neighbor’s wife. Being constrained does not imply not liberty.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

MnM,

Well, hey there! I’d wondered where you’d gone. Why the name change?

Look, I understand you might read the blog regularly. Obviously, so do I. But, I don’t read every word and I don’t read every conversation. I doubt you do. It is entirely possible that you’re coming into something you’ve missed a good chunk of.

I’ve kind of lost you. People aren’t always going to behave in ways you agree with. Some commenters feel very passionate about things you don’t (Martin’s impassioned posts about Treasurys annoys me, for instance – even though I agree with him). They will react in ways you disagree with. You understand all that. So, what point are you trying to make? Are you just airing your grievances or are you hoping people will behave differently after reading this commentary of yours?

Also, I really don’t understand where the hypocrisy accusation comes in. Can you please explain what you mean?

Michael October 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Ken,

Being constrained does not imply not liberty.

We’ve been discussing this in terms of the Hobbes and Lockean notions of the social contract. That’s exactly what they mean.

Ken October 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

That’s exactly what they mean.

So Locke and Hobbes put forth the notion of unconstrained liberty whereby anyone can do anything they want to anyone else regardless of circumstance? No where did they discuss one’s liberty being constrained by another’s liberty. Got it.

Regards,
Ken

Michael October 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Methinks,

Hey yourself!

Well, hey there! I’d wondered where you’d gone. Why the name change?

MnM is a childhood nickname given to me by some of the best friends a guy could ask for. As I’ve gotten older my views on what used to be deeply held beliefs, beliefs I shared with these friends, have changed, and the nickname, while I still love the friends who gave it to me like brothers, has certain connections that I’m no longer comfortable with.

…I know that makes little or no sense to you. Suffice to say that, as I’ve aged, I’ve developed a greater preference for my given name.

Are you just airing your grievances

Bingo!

I really don’t understand where the hypocrisy accusation comes in. Can you please explain what you mean?

Certainly. I’d have done so an hour ago when you first asked, but Atlanta traffic is a pain in the ass (sorry for swearing, Dr. Roberts).

Do you remember when muirgeo was on his libertarianism = anarchism, bender? It was years ago, thankfully he’s given up that claptrap, and I’d supply a link but the comments on the old blog posts are missing–don’t know what happened.

You, Sam Grove, vikingvista, maybe one or two others, and myself repeated demonstrated the error in his reasoning. It sticks out in my mind because it was when I first began to realize the guy was just looking for a fight (there’s a word for it, but my vocabulary is failing me).

Regardless, many regulars treat Kuehn the same way muirgeo was treating the rest of us. I have a problem with that. I can’t legitimately object to muirgeo’s nonsense and then engage in it myself, can I?

Like muirgeo, you, Ken (the one that signs his name “Regards, Ken”–I want to be clear, there are two Kens that post here), and a number of others have the same Us vs Them mentality that our resident troll does. It’s an irony that I can’t help but point out.

The preferential mix of freedom/security, that is popularly called politics, isn’t binary. It exists along a spectrum.

What professors Roberts and Boudreaux post here is extremely selective/limited in scope. Given what Kuehn has posted, I’d guess that, outside of the narrow scope of this blog, he would agree with us on issues far more than he’d disagree. He isn’t in lock-step with authoritarians like Stalin, or Mao, Chavez. Hell, I’d bet he’s less a “statist” than Obama is. By comparison, calling him “statist” seems a little extreme, no?

Michael October 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Ken,

So Locke and Hobbes put forth the notion of unconstrained liberty whereby anyone can do anything they want to anyone else regardless of circumstance? No where did they discuss one’s liberty being constrained by another’s liberty.

No. Read the link I provided (if you haven’t already read Leviathan and the Second Treatise on Government); it’s all there.

You have to appreciate the context they’re writing in. The idea is, and I won’t do them justice by being so brief, is that we prefer to give up some freedom, say the freedom to kill a neighbor, in exchange for security against murder ourselves. It may not have been Hobbes’ intention, but it was certainly Locke’s (at least to my reading, but what do I know) to demonstrate the trade off involved. A trade off that is still important today.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I know that makes little or no sense to you. Suffice to say that, as I’ve aged, I’ve developed a greater preference for my given name.

What do you mean? That totally makes sense!

many regulars treat Kuehn the same way muirgeo was treating the rest of us.

It’s not hypocritical to identify one person as a statist, or anarchist or whatever based upon the evidence he presents and at the same time point out that an entire group of people holding varying views who loosely refer to themselves as “liberatarians” are not all also anarchists.

Danny holds some mutually exclusive views and he loves more government meddling than I do because he thinks government actors are better than they are (which I find exceptionally naive and weird). I also find DK’s admitted preference for social engineering to be particularly statist – and particularly disturbing. I don’ know how he compares to Obama, Mao, Stalin and co. Does what DK reveal about himself here make him a statist? I don’t know where the bright line that separates the statists from the non-statists is. I think you’ll find everyone finds that line for themselves. Yours may be further out than many others’.

I want to be clear: I do have an “us vs. them” mentality. I very much think it’s us against the political class and those who use it to rob everyone else. I don’t deny this.

I don’t think the “us vs. them” thing is the main complaint of about trolls. My main problem with the trolls is impenetrable and aggressive stupidity that they spray like stray cats all over the comment section. It’s a personal thing. Maybe it doesn’t bother you.

g-dub October 11, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Michael October 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm>
Unless you advocate pure anarchy (what we might call Hobbes’ state of nature) then you are statist as well– I doubt you want your neighbor having the liberty to kill you, if the mood strikes him.

Ken October 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm>
No it isn’t because no one defines liberty as being able to do whatever you want. Everyone, even anarchists, believes that liberty doesn’t include me taking my neighbor’s stuff or raping my neighbor’s wife. Being constrained does not imply not liberty.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm>
We’ve been discussing this in terms of the Hobbes and Lockean notions of the social contract. That’s exactly what they mean.

Michael, not referring to anything in this thread, or even blog, I have some sympathy with you for a distaste of “purity tests.” On the other hand…

On the liberty thing, you are maybe more confused than incorrect. Liberties are synonymous with rights. There is no such thing as “a right” in a so-called “state of nature,” thus liberties cannot be violated there. Ken is exactly correct.

Killing someone in a so-called “state of society” obviously impairs that person’s liberty to do what they want. The concept of liberty cannot brook such such juvenile contradiction. Pause to consider something more is going on than something easily seen as ludicrous. The constrained nature is exactly why actual rights also are also called “negative rights.” You can do “whatever” as long as it does *not* impede on others.

Where people’s spheres of control brush up against one another, say on a roadway, for example, ordinary rules of conduct permit free action without impairing (negative) liberties. Yet following the rules of conduct is a sort of constraint. No one *in society* calls killing a right, because of its obvious violation of right. You saying the trade of “giving up the liberty of killing” for “security” is a confusion of what it means in the first place. The right to kill someone in a “State of nature” was not “taken away” by a “state of society.” It never existed in either. It is “kill at desire” in a state of nature. It is “I can’t take others liberty away while taking my own liberties” when in society, as such contradiction would be senseless.

The most concise form I know of is the negative form of the golden rule: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.

Ken is also correct in you mistaking anarchy/anarchists as “do whatever feels right dude” state of nature. I no of not a single libertarian-anarchist or anarcho-capitalist who says any such thing. In fact, the statements are uniformly opposite. I suppose one can find some vulgar fools if one keeps looking.

Regarding social contract, I don’t have the time or inclination to do the deconstruction. But what Locke or Hobbes thought is not so important. It is important how it is conceptually used today, and what frankenstein it can unleash. A historical review would probably occur in a conversation, but yet I am not wed to all and anything “great thinkers have thought.” None of the immense duties proposed by modern prognosticators of “social contract” are related to the concept of liberty, which is quite minimum. In fact, those duties contradict it.

I’d have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.–A. Lincoln

Michael October 12, 2011 at 8:15 am

g-dub,

No, I’m not confused–apparently, I’m not doing a very good job expounding upon my meaning.

But what Locke or Hobbes thought is not so important

Since what they thought is what we’ve been discussing, and since Locke’s thoughts in particular informed so much of the basis of the Declaration of Independence and the foundations of the US government, it’s no only important, it’s essential.

Michael October 12, 2011 at 8:18 am

g-dub,

Ken is also correct in you mistaking anarchy/anarchists

No, I’m using the term in the popular understanding of the term. I’m familiar with anarcho-capitalism.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm

What you seem to fail to realize is that this is a tacit limitation on liberty.

I’m in agreement with Bastiat in that when a law authorizes a government agent to commit an act that would be criminal if committed by a citizen, that that law is unjust. And that it’s not a matter of degrees. It’s a concrete principle. For when one such law is allowed, it becomes a lifestyle. It becomes a cancer. It perverts the institution of justice when it simultaneously becomes an institution of injustice.
That’s why any unjust law, any tiny step into statism, any criminal act of government authorized by law, must be identified as such.
Like I said it’s not a matter of “wants”, it’s a matter of principle.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm

replied to the wrong post. oh well

Randy October 11, 2011 at 7:33 am

Daniel,

This isn’t polite society economics. Its monday night football economics. You’re in our house and supporting the other team, and yeah, your team sucks. But I think you do a pretty good job of representing. You might want to consider… you know, growing a pair.

Daniel Kuehn October 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

Hey – I’m just saying there are people Don never calls out that inhibit good discussion more than muirgeo.

I don’t hesitate to comment because my feelings are hurt. I hesitate to comment because the payoff in terms of good discussion can be fairly low sometimes.

If I were given administrative priveleges over Cafe Hayek for a day and got to choose one or more people to ban to ensure more productive comments, muirgeo would not top my list.

Fred October 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

I’m sure vid would top your list since he’s usually the first one to call out your bullshit.

Michael October 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

Bingo!

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

Danny, you are not innocent by any stretch of the imagination.

Also,quit whining and grow a pair.

Henri Hein October 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Some of us are interested in what he has to say. Your disparagement is not helping.

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Henri, let me help you sort through some facts.

Danny can comment anywhere he wants any time he wants. Nothing stands in his way. If he prefers to self-limit, oh well. Take it up with him. He needs to grow up and face the reality of life as it is, not as he wishes it were.

I am not here to help you get what you want out of this blog. I’m merely commenting from my perspective and I don’t owe you anything.

Finally, Danny has his own blog. You can get as much Keuhn as you can stand by clicking on his name.

Henri Hein October 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I cannot speak for Daniel and I am not asking him to do anything different. The proprietors asked for feedback on their comments policy and I am giving it. It is not unusual for people that are part of groups to have some collaboration issues to sort out, and most people that are not Randian pointy-heads can figure it out.

“I don’t owe you anything”
True. I didn’t ask you for anything. I just told you what I think. Don’t worry: I did not waste a single second suspecting you would care.

“Danny has his own blog”
Yes, and I do read his blog also. His focus is on technical macro-economics, which is not my strength or my main interest, and he also does not have the following (yet) to get the interesting conversations we get here. I don’t see the relevance anyway. What difference does it make if a commenter has a blog or not?

Methinks1776 October 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Henri, If you are interested in giving feedback to the blog hosts, then why address me?

and most people that are not Randian pointy-heads can figure it out

Leading by non-disparagement example, I see. Just FYI: Ayn Rand is one of my least favourite authors.

The relevance of pointing out DK’s blog is to point you in that directions since you expressed a desire for more exposure to his views. I thought that was obvious.

MattN October 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I’ve considered complaining about this very issue on occasion.

Your policy is entirely reasonable. Just please consider what would happen if instead of 1 or 2 of these types you had 200…. Blog really would be more than useless.

If awareness grows enough (which I think must be your goal) you will indeed have this problem.

Brad Hutchings October 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

If there were 200, it would be noise.

Babinich October 11, 2011 at 6:00 am

Let the market decide.

The same is true with blogs: let the bloggers decide.

If Cafe Hayek gets inundated by Muirgeo zombies people will leave.

Muirgeo should stay; his presence on this blog reminds us day in and day out that truer words were never spoken:

“Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.” – Abraham Lincoln

When success is penalized we all fail.

Greg Webb October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Don and Russ, I agree that muirgeo should not be banned from Cafe Hayek. He is sometimes entertaining. And, I think people improve their analytical and patience skills with him and a few others on this blog.

Richard Stands October 11, 2011 at 12:42 am

Your blog, your rules. Solve this as you see fit, and I’ll consume (or not) accordingly. I value the product for the insightful posts and the intelligent comments which follow, and for the education this site provides me (free of charge thankyouverymuch). I ignore comments which hold no value to me.

The original post invites:

Russ and I welcome comments about ways that we might pursue (should such be available and practical) to separate commenters interested in rational discussion from commenters not so interested.

I’ve read some good suggestions above for systems and plugins. I also realize that many alternatives involve web configurations and development for which real costs and opportunity costs are too high. If the DISQUS comment system that used to be employed here no longer has the shortcomings which provoked its removal, I’d find it superior to the current system. If not, perhaps one of the plugins listed above would suffice. I also miss the way DISQUS would email me when replies were made. I wonder if that added to thread lengths in the past.

On a philosophical note, I think your original impulse to allow open dialog best mirrors your support for free markets. People will buy into threads they value, for their own reasons, and eschew the threads which do not suit them. However, providing your customers with an interface which allows them to ignore threads they dislike may indeed add value to your product.

Duane October 11, 2011 at 1:25 am

Very interesting thread. For those who have never read Julian Dibbell’s piece “A Rape in Cyberspace” from the Village Voice, I highly suggest reading it: http://www.juliandibbell.com/texts/bungle_vv.html

A very thoughtful piece on the difficulties of dealing with antagonists in the ‘virtual’ world.

muirgeo October 11, 2011 at 1:37 am

Been traveling all day so haven’t had time to read the all of this.

Anyway just go to Russ’s recent post on Poor Sales referenced from a respectable Blog, The Big Picture posted by Invictus.

Russ’s statement, “Saying that poor sales is the biggest problem facing small business is like saying that the biggest problem facing the economy is that it’s not doing very well.” is itself a bit provocative but then go on to see how Invictus is greeted to the blog after he comes here to comment in his own defense.

Invictus October 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm
Yes. Of course.

REPLY
Mesa Econoguy October 10, 2011 at 3:23 am
Of course you’re dumb.

Economic Freedom October 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm
“Invictus” is a good moniker for you. Must be a Latin abbreviation for “Invincibly Stupid.”

Economic Freedom October 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm
“So I’m not sure WTF you’re talking about.” Invictus
Here’s what he’s talking about, $##t-for-brains:

vidyohs October 10, 2011 at 6:17 am
@invictus and Nick,
Also Nick, as I have pointed out many times here, it isn’t an ad hominem if it is true.

So don’t pretend there isn’t plenty of low-brow comments coming from the other side.

Mark Anthem October 11, 2011 at 2:43 am

I reply to this comment since no one else did yet. I wouldn’t mind every post having 1000 comments. I believe Typepad does support the use of a favorites button, but I like this blog just the way it is.

Here are the last 4 comments at the Medical-Muirjuana free right-think.com. I don’t see how Muirgeo’s comments would lessen the “debate” there, were he allowed back in.

On Criminal Recession, FPrefect89 said:
Freddie makes some of the best videos on YouTube as of now…

On Criminal Recession, Technomad said:
Lesson for today: If you’ve got the drop on the bad guy, just shoot him. Then shoot him again. Then rip out his guts with a blunt butter-knife while he screams and begs for his life.

On Jubilee, Manwhore said:
What the fuck do you call idiots that make bad choices and then decide someone else should pay for it? I don’t know about you, but people managed to go to school and pay off those loans before. if your point is that school now costs too much, then you make my point for me in spades: if the cost far, far exceeds any benefit, then only idiots go for that…

On Murgy in the News, hist_ed said:
God, I have this strange desire to troll through some of their old posts to read some of the stuff he has written.* And reply. Could this be some sort of wierd Murgey nostalgia? Must resist . . . that way leads to madness . . . aaaarrrrrgghhhh . . .

“I want plans by the many, not from the few”

Henri Hein October 11, 2011 at 3:29 am

The correct response to a troll is disregard.

I think the signal-to-noise levels are degrading here, making it harder to have meaningful discussions.

Clay Shirky has written (and spoken) extensively on group interactions on the web. His essays are recommended, not least because you will notice the thread of spontaneous order weaving throughout. He talks about these kinds of problems, and what you can and can not do about them.

Jim October 11, 2011 at 3:53 am

I think Clay would say that total inclusiveness eventually destroys any community.

Many great posts and discussions are totally high-jacked by responding to Muirgeo even while he is off the reservation. Frankly, I am surprised; on most other websites trolls are ignored.

As a not infrequent commenter on this website, the insights I miss by skipping Murigeo inspired replies (mostly insults IMHO) can not compare to the frustration I avoid but then, what is being built here if childish argument must be avoided at every post?

This website is private property. I suggest users must decide whether they want a constructive landscape or a littered one. Deleting comments is also a middle option. My guess is that comments are at most half of what they could be given the germane topics and fame and eloquence of the authors.

sams October 11, 2011 at 6:19 am

This Muergo fella is indeed entertaining.send his IP address to NORAD and have them nuke his location … 3 nukes minimum, just to be sure.

I barely read comments on cafe, I find arguing with people over the web to be a waste of time, you just end up being the fodder of all sort of dysfunctional people who want to feel powerful behind a screen.

My advice ? Ignore, skip and enjoy your Cafe Hayek Experience ;)

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