Making the world a better place

by Russ Roberts on October 18, 2011

in Truth-seeking & ideology

Steve Benen likes Krugman’s response to my ideology argument and writes:

For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends. We want to expand access to quality health care. We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college. We want to make public investments to create jobs. There are competing ways to get to where progressives want to go, but the focus is on the policy achievement.

What conservatives often find confusing is that the liberal worldview is not about necessarily increasing the size of government or raising taxes; those mechanisms are only valuable insofar as they reach a desired end-point. Whether the government increases or shrinks in the process is largely irrelevant.

For the right, it’s backwards — the ideological goal is the achievement.

I have a different view. Both sides are trying to make the world a better place and disagree on how to get there. Seeing yourself as trying to make the world a better place and seeing your ideological opponents as robotic ideologues is a great example of confirmation bias.

Krugman and his ideological supporters have yet to respond to my more detailed critique.

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rbd October 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm

An egalitarian worldview always leads to an increase in the size of government – an end state that is diabolically opposed to genuine liberty, and thus, untenable with a freedom-minded people.

Kris Bunda (@Designer_Rants) October 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

“Diabolically”? Do you mean “diametrically”?

It’s important to look back through post-Industrial Revolution American History and realize that when our system was at its most egalitarian, the society functioned most smoothly. When there was the least socioeconomic equality and regulation, there were the most civil unrest, economic bubbles, and widespread poverty.

You conservatives and libertarians are really bad at economics.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm

No, I think “diabolically” serves, in this case.

Kris Bunda (@Designer_Rants) October 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm

“Diabolically”? “Satanically Opposed”? Ha! Maybe a sentence like: “Reaganomics is Diabolically Opposed to humanity” would work, but in this case, I’m guessing brainiac used the wrong word.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

You conservatives and libertarians are really bad at economics.

Really? How would you know?

Greg Webb October 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Kris, thanks for the hate-based comments so typical of most big-government advocates. It’s all you have because statists are unable to make coherent, logical arguments supported by objective, verifiable evidence.

Kris Bunda (@Designer_Rants) October 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Greg Webb, if you’re an American, you’ve got all the “objective, verifiable evidence” you need about how awful you conservatives and libertarians are at economics every morning when you wake up and see a 9% unemployment rate, protesters in the streets across the nation, a $15trillion national debt, annual $trillion deficits, a “Tea Party” House that has decided its “Jobs Plan” is anti-abortion legislation, a Senate Minority Leader who’s publicly proclaimed his party’s “Number One Priority” isn’t economic boosterism, but “Ensuring Barack Obama is a one-term President”.

There’s your verifiable evidence. Want some more historic data? Let’s go back to 1981, where Reagan, a half-senile Hollywood actor, decided it would make sense to lower taxes dramatically even though our country was a $trillion in debt. Then he raised taxes eleven times over his presidency, but awful libertarians and conservatives aren’t good at reading Wikipedia (just watching Fox News), so they don’t know this.

Also, true to the “Selfish” Ayn Rand worshiping libertarian ideology (Here’s another Fact: she was a speed-freak fiction writer), everyone thought Alan Greenspan was good with economics. Not sure why. He always fought to deregulate, which culminated in the current financial meltdown we find ourselves in because libertarians think business should regulate itself. Wrong, that’s what always leads to unnecessary bubbles, fraud, and Crashes/Panics/Depressions. Expensive mistake, too, with the Tax Payer Bailout and all.

And let’s not forget how Reagan tripled the National Debt, so did Dubya. Conservatives say fun economic quotes like “Deficits don’t matter”-Dick Cheney (while we didn’t pay for a Medicare Donut-Hole Monstrosity, started two 10 Year Wars, enacted 2 Ruinous Tax Cuts, and legislated the sort of deregulation that would’ve made Standard Oil blush).

But wait a minute… There was one president in the last 30 years who actually had a few years where there were Budget Surpluses (I’m not lying!) and those surpluses were used to pay down the Nat’l Debt. Who was that again? Oh, yes! Good Ol’ Bill Clinton! Wow! If only we could get the Republican House to go along with the Democratic President’s fiscal ideas! It’s got to be better than how the last 3 Republican administrations set us on a Rocket Ride to Ruin!

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 1:33 am

Kris, your arguments are incoherent and illogocal, while what little evidence you mentioned supports how progressives, liberals, and other big-government types do not understand economics and have destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth through fiscal and monetary policies designed to reward their political cronies and limit competition.

The 9% unemployment rate is the result of Presidents Bush and Clinton’s well-intentioned, but idiotic, subisdies and below-market interest rates to the residential real estate industry. President Obama’s policies have made it worse and prolomged the recession with wasteful spending to bail out and reward his political cronies at Solyndra, General Motors, GE, Goldman Sachs, etc.

The protesters in the streets across the nation are few and far in between. The Tea Party protests were far larger, more intelligent, and less smelly than the current idiots of OWS. They will soon be swept away once the media moves on to the next story about Lindsey Lohan, the Kardasians, Paris Hilton, etc.

The $15trillion national debt was caused by the big-government advocates of Presidents Obama and Bush, while the annual $trillion deficits are directly the fault of President Obama and the then Democrat-controlled Senate and House.

The Senate Minority Leader’s public proclamation that his party’s “Number One Priority” is “Ensuring Barack Obama is a one-term President” is the first step to putting the federal government back on the sound and time-proven policies of reducing marginal tax rates, eliminating unnecessarily burdensome regulations, decreasing wasteful government spending, and pressuring Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to implement sound money policies.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan lowered marginal tax rates in order to create incentives for private investment that allowed the economy to strongly recover from the idiotic big government policies of President Jimmy Carter, the worst President in US history prior to President Obama.

Alan Greenspan, the former Fed Chairman, pretended that he was the “Maestro” who could fine tune the economy with his easy money policies. His low interest rate monetary policies, combined with Senator Dodd and Representative Frank’s protection of crony capitalists like James Johnson and Fannie Mae, created huge mal-investment in residential real estate markets leading to the economics crisis. These types of misguided government policies that subsidize political cronies, create false market signals, and expand the money supply always create unnecessary bubbles, fraud, and Crashes/Panics/Depressions. And, these government policies are expensive Mistakes, with the Tax Payer Bailout of political cronies and all.

And let’s not forget how President Obama massively increased the national debt. Liberals say fun economic quotes like “we owe it to ourselves” in order to steal from productive people who earned it to reward political cronies pretending at business like Solyndra and Fannie Mae. Presidents Obama and Bush, both big government advocates, started and continued two 10 Year Wars with President Obama sending special troops all over the world (Libya, Keyna, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) to surreptitiously wage war, enacting 2 ruinous “stimulus” wasteful spending plans, and legislating the sort of regulation that crony capitalists like Goldman Sachs love as it drives their competition out of business and limits the likelihood of new competitors.

But wait a minute… There was, in the last 30 years, when the federal government actually had Budget Surpluses and those surpluses were used to pay down the Nat’l Debt. That was a time when the Republican-controlled Congress, listened to their constitutents who wanted smaller government, and forced President Bill Clinton to withdraw his wasteful and expensive HilliaryCare Plan and imposed sound fiscal policies on the executive branch of government. And, that was better than the unsound, wasteful, and excessive federal government spending under the big government advocates of Presidents Bush and Obama along with their big government proponents in their respective Congresses sent the country on a Rocket Ride to Ruin!

Once you understand cause and effect, you will be able to make coherent, logical arguments properly supported by evidence like the ones that I made above. But first, you have to let go of your hate-filled emotions resulting from leftist propaganda.

Kris Bunda (@Designer_Rants) October 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Oh Greggy. It must take a lot of time to construct such an elaborate Fantasy, complete with a detailed revisionist history where everything is just like how Sean Hannity & Grover Norquist says it should have been!

I especially enjoyed how close-to-type you played it with absolutely no mention of the vast contributions your conservative-controlled congresses and administrations gave to our national debt over the last 30 years.

And absolutely no mention of how Bill Clinton increased taxes to create 3 years of surpluses in the late 90s (the ONLY YEARS in the last 30+ that achieved budget surpluses and pay-downs of the nat’l debt).

No confirmation of how your half-senile Big Hollywood Actor president raised taxes 11 times throughout his presidency, while still managing to triple the national debt (because conservatives and libertarians are really bad at economics.)

And of course, since you’re one of those awful libertarian-types who actually buy into the deranged ramblings of a drug-addled, amphetamine-addicted “novelist” (read: fiction writer) named Ayn Rand, you wouldn’t mention that Greenspan’s attack on market regulation is what allowed bloated banks to leverage themselves to the absurdly toxic tune of $25Trillion in SWAPs. You actually try to blame it on people buying homes, instead of the de-and un-regulation that led to easy “Liar’s Loans” and a laissez-faire derivatives market. You’d have me believe the working class walked into banks and STOLE their mortgages, huh? You’re out of your mind. Come back to planet earth. That’s where I’m at.

You know why Republicans want less Regulation? For the same reason Criminals want less Cops.

Well, I still haven’t met a conservative who knows anything about American History. I see I can count on you to keep voting for awful politicians who think a “Jobs Plan” is to Outlaw Abortion. I’ll head back over to Krugman’s column for historical, fact-premised economic theory and opinion now. I just dropped by because Russ tweeted @me to check this page.

Gregg, don’t get any more lost in your fantasy (than you already are). It’s not economically productive.

Kris Bunda (@Designer_Rants) October 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Oh, almost forgot. I kinda speed-read your ramblings there, but I think you were praising the “intellects” (or something) of Tea Partiers? That’s all I had to bring up. Just that you actually did that. You’re dismissed.

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Kris, thanks for the hate-based personal attacks. Your reliance on silly emoting reveals your inability to make coherent (much less logical and persuasive) arguments properly supported by objective, verifiable evidence. You fail.

Dan J October 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I am amazed at how the nut job libs conveniently leave out, or are just ignorant, the lowering of capital gains taxes and addition of exemptions, deductions, and subsidies which made the raised personal income taxes nothing more than a show for the liberals.

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Dan J., liberals are consumed by their hate-filled emotions, which blinds them to economic reality and prevents them from properly understanding the lessons of history.

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I generally agree with you, BUT – I’d caution that there are lots of libertarians that loathe the idea of consequentialism. As a general rule, I think you’re right. But there are an awful lot of deontological libertarians out there, and perhaps that’s what he has in mind.

It’s worth noting that the real consequentialist libertarians are much more likely to be “libertarians on the margin” than deontological libertarians. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Caleb October 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm

True, but some of us have very broad margins.

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I should note – we usually clarify what Russ has clarified here so as not to offend those who disagree with us.

It’s OK that I say this about deontological libertarians, because they wouldn’t take offense at the claim! They embrace it.

Caleb October 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Fair enough. I’m simply pointing out that some consequentialists can look like deontologists because of the length to which they take their inferences. It would be unwise to categorize everyone who defends certain, ah, extreme policy choices based entirely on the extremity of those choices. Method matters.

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Agree completely.

It’s also reasonable to even poke the deontologists and say they’re just posing and actually have a bit of consequentialism to them. After all – why do we care if we violate some natural rights order? Presumably because there’s something nice about it… that’s edging on consequentialism, although they don’t like to admit it.

PrometheeFeu October 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

2 other things:

1) Deontologists are just like everyone subject to confirmation bias leading to consequentialist arguments: My belief in the futility of hate-speech regulations goes beyond what pure reasoning and evidence should generate. The fact that I believe such regulations to be unacceptable because it violates fundamental principles is probably not unrelated to this faith.

2) Very few people are pure consequentialists or pure deontologists. While I believe the government to be nothing more than the biggest thug in town, which should be brought back to its proper place, consequentialist considerations lead me to accept a level of government that rothbardians would find positively oppressive.

PrometheeFeu October 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I think the division between consequentialists and deontologists is somewhat arbitrary. Without principles, what consequences could you be striving for? And without looking at the consequences of your actions, how could you know if you are furthering your principles?

BZ October 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Hello,

A possible response of one deontologist:

Thinking about a natural order in a violated state seems to refer to some sort of consequence. Instead, it’s important not to choose to kill peaceful people, or to choose to aggress against them, to choose to steal from them. Morality comes from the well-formed and habituated will, not from some notion of how one can change the world.

For example, when looking at the conduct of war, don’t just think about wasted resources, but also see the shameful choices. Otherwise, bridges to nowhere and the dropping of bombs end up looking like the same thing in a debt calculation.

So, a question in turn: Why so much energy and focus on some kinds of outcomes over others? And more interestingly, why so much energy in ANY direction? Why get out of bed in the morning? Economists see efficiency in the allocation of resources matching most closely the aggregate individual valuations. However, what’s so wrong with a boot stamping on a human face, forever?

I suspect that if you scratch under the surface, there is a little deontologist inside every consequentialist, wanting desperately to be seen in the mirror.

Seth October 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Discussion topic: How we get there.

Benen’s red herring summarized:
“Let’s not discuss ‘how we get there.’ Rather, judge us on our motivations. Ours’ are pure. Theirs’ are not. Trust me.”

DK’s red herring summarized:
“Also, let’s not discuss ‘how we get there’. I must point out that libertarianism is not monolithic.” While obvious, I must admit this shows progress for someone enamored with aggregates.

I_am_a_lead_pencil October 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Our ethical constraints can properly supplant reasoned consequentialism as a guiding force because they themselves are a shorthand approach toward evolutionary stable consequences which have enabled survival. Utilitarian reasoning is welcome until it’s solutions conflict with our ethical constraints. It is then that we must bow to these time-tested constraints in recognition that our reasoning alone might rely too heavily on our fallible ability to incorrectly predict future results.

“Presumably because there’s something nice about it… that’s edging on consequentialism, although they don’t like to admit it.”

A similar curiosity is that of a consequentialsit who thinks that he is not governed by any principles at all – except that he uses this particular principled approach as a basis for his utilitarianism.

Jim October 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm

If freedom, contrary to all evidence, turned out to constrain advancement, we would still choose it above all else.

The fundamental issue with Progressivism and other socialist/fascist/dictatorship regimes (they are in the end all the same) is that they do not believe this tenant. The argument is first and foremost a moral one.

They depend on the oxymoron that individuals and societies can actualize through control, in exactly the same way we might expect an adult to actualize by treating them as a child their entire lives.

It can not work, and never has.

Iain October 18, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Actually know Kuehn, libertarianism is based in consequentialism. Stop being ignorant.

On another note, isn’t it ideological to believe that every problem needs a political solution?

Iain October 18, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Wow, total brain fart, no**

GiT October 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

Only your own ignorance is showing.

Nozick? Rothbard?

There is a clear natural law Libertarian tradition drawn straight from Locke.

Matt October 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Exactly.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The liberal worldview is about using coercion to achieve their goals. It is about forcing others to do what the left wants them to do.
In their view any means to an end that does not employ a threat of violence is a wasted effort.
Persuasion is hard. It doesn’t always work. You have to make a case and get others to agree.

It’s so much easier to point a gun at their head.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

the World was made when Elizabeth took off Mary’s head applying the doctrine of Intolerance for Intolerance.

Cicero learned the same lesson as did The Cause

History’s lesson is uniform. Stand in the way of Modernity and the issue will be and must be decided by Arms

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Modernity defined, of course, by the left.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm

silly

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 1:58 am

I don’t think it was silly. The left has never won any ideological battles fairly and openly in the marketplace of ideas, but has always resorted to force, propaganda, and subterfuge. And a good thing, too! The left even had to redefine the term “liberal” to get Americans to favor leftist policies. The left rewrote all of the public school textbooks in the Progressive Era to reflect their ideology (among other things, the red-blooded subject of “History” was replaced with a watered-down subject called “Social Studies” in which students were taught that communism, socialism, and capitalism, were all equally fine so long as those in charge were “good people”, and that the important thing was too learn “one’s place in the system”).

Overall, I heartily approve of this, because “modernity” = “leftism” and the more the left finds ways to drag people — against their will, if need be — into the Promised Land of an egalitarian society, socially engineered by the best and the brightest (such categories to be defined by the left, too), the better the world will be, and the better I can sleep at night and think of myself as a fine moral person. I hate it when mean conservatives and libertarians claim that I am on the left for reasons of personal gain! I desire no money or political power. I just want to be good. And I want others to be good, too. And if the economy has to be crashed and people hurt, so be it. “Modernity” — the Future itself — is at stake!

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 4:00 am

I wrote the above nonsense, and I’m unapologetic. I’m a high school dropout as well. I work at McDonald’s now, but I’m looking to move up to stocker at Walmart. I say aim high! That way, you’ll have farther to fall when you get the boot.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

kyle8:

so you are a libertarian papist. now that’s internally inconsistent.

yet another Dave October 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm

So, Observer, when you said you were leaving this blog to never return you really meant you were just going to adopt a movie based moniker.

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Stand in the way of political power and the issue will be decided by force of arms.

Nothing to do with modernity.

Greg Webb October 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm

LOL, Nikki baby!

Darren October 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

The liberal worldview is about using coercion to achieve their goals

No, but that’s what it leads to.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm

RE: “…seeing your ideological opponents as robotic ideologues is a great example of confirmation bias.”

With all due respect, given Mr. Roberts’ original post, this statement is surreal.

It’s not Benen or the left characterizing the right as “robotic ideologues”. It’s the Roberts, among others of the right, characterizing the right as robotic ideologues (e.g., “smaller government, lower taxes”). In fact, Benen gives Roberts the benefit of the doubt by responding to the right’s declared set of beliefs regarding the size of government. (Despite the rhetoric, there’s significant evidence to suggest that the most on the right don’t believe in smaller government and lower taxes at all.)

In addition, the post that Benen is responding to is a post in which Roberts characterizes the left of being a reflection of the right (i.e., consistent advocates of big government for the sake of big government). In other words, Roberts accused the left of being “robotic ideologues.”

As I said, surreal.

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 1:22 pm

This is a good point… if “robotic ideologues” doesn’t mean “drawing your conclusions based on ideology”, which I believe is what you accused Krugman of (correct me if I’m wrong) – then what else could it possibly mean???

Caleb October 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Nice edit there. Notice the structure of the whole sentence: “Seeing yourself as trying to make the world a better place AND seeing your ideological opponents as robotic ideologues is a great example of confirmation bias.” The “and” makes the statement conjunctive. It’s the difference in perspective that Russ is criticizing, not the characterization of one side or another as idealouges. The whole point of his first post is that everyone is a idealouge to some degree.

J. W. October 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Good catch.

Dano October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

So you believe that the those who are opposed to the political left are “robotic ideologues” but the left is noble in their goals?

Please explain how is the statement “Conservatives tend to prefer a different approach that decreases the role of government, not to achieve specific ends, but because decreasing the role of government is the specific end ” is not being an ideologue — which as you point out out is not even true because conservatives do want larger government too.

By the way libertarian is not synonymous with conservative. Many libertarians began life as leftist and became disillusioned.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I think we actually agree, Dano. The statement that you referenced is, in fact, a reasonable characterization of an ideologue. Mr. Roberts stated in his original post that he believes in smaller government. Benen took him at his word.

As I said, it is the right who, perhaps unintentionally, characterize themselves as robotic ideologues. On the other hand, given the positions of many among the right–abortion, creationism, corporate subsidies, shifting to more regressive forms of taxation, tort reform (i.e., the federal government imposing its will on the states), among others–this liberal knows that the right isn’t as robotic when it comes to small government as they would have us believe.

Benen gave Roberts the benefit of the doubt and is criticized above for having done so. I on the other hand, don’t buy the “smaller government” stuff. It’s thrown aside too easily and too often.

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm

chris> [quote]Mr. Roberts stated in his original post that he believes in smaller government.[/quote]

You missed this:

rr> Both sides are trying to make the world a better place and disagree on how to get there.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm

By the way libertarian is not synonymous with conservative.

wrong

Ken October 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Wrong.

Regards,
Ken

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Its neither similar nor a simple dichotomy.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

If I were to make a Venn diagram libertarian and conservative would overlap, but they are not synonyms.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:03 am

Nikki, you don’t know much about the things you criticize, do you.

Andrew_M_Garland October 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm

This statement by Benen is surreal: “The liberal worldview is not about necessarily increasing the size of government or raising taxes.”

I have never heard of a Liberal proposal that did not increase the size of government, raise taxes, and/or impose more regulation. I have never heard of a liberal proposal to end a relatively ineffective program to direct those resources toward a more effective one. Progams and regulation are only added.

Liberals make an appeal to making a better world. Their first idea is to use government and law to coerce people to contribute. The “rich” are demonized because that is where the money is. Businessmen are blamed for the ills of society. Liberals take a large cut of the money flow to do their good works, and the schedule of good works is infinite. Moreso, because the solutions are so inefficient and ineffective.

Can anyone suggest what the second idea is, the one sometimes chosen instead of increasing government?

Benen should spare us the excuse that Liberals are enlightened, scientific managers achieving good through a range of carefully chosen and evaluated methods.

- -
The Congress and Obama should proudly present the careful research that supports their proposed rearrangement of healthcare, spending, budget increases, and all other things.

Where are the official policy papers which explain and justify the giant experiments that our government is forcing on the people?

A Few Words About Policy

Fred October 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Can anyone suggest what the second idea is, the one sometimes chosen instead of increasing government?

Do nothing.
Which doesn’t mean nobody does anything. It means government does nothing.

That still leaves the rest of society to come up with something.

But because the left only understands violence, if there’s no threat of force behind an idea then as far as they’re concerned it doesn’t exist.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I have never heard of a Liberal proposal that did not increase the size of government, raise taxes, and/or impose more regulation. I have never heard of a liberal proposal to end a relatively ineffective program to direct those resources toward a more effective one.

I don’t know where you get your information, but if you rely on radio and television media, then that might explain why you “never heard” of such things.

On the other hand, if you do your own research, you can find numerous examples of “liberal proposals that did not increase the size of government, raise taxes, and/or impose more regulation” (e.g., the majority of the American Jobs Act is made up of tax cuts), and numerous examples liberal proposals to end ineffective programs (e.g., the Obama Administration recently terminated CLASS, a program included in the Affordable Care Act intended to address long-term care for seniors).

Kevin L October 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

CLASS had to be terminated because it wasn’t funded. The jobs act gives special tax cuts, hence unequal protection under the law, hence force.

rbd October 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Liberals did not end the CLASS act; the law did. You see, the Secretary of HHS had to provide Congress a report, based upon sound actuarial evidence, on the program’s viability over a 75 year horizon. After about 16 months of excruciating effort to make the program work, HHS declared the program could not survive on its own. Thus, they ended it. Had this provision not been written into the law, CLASS would have grown into another monster entitlement program.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Liberals did not end the CLASS act; the law did.

Who passed and signed the law containing the provision to which you refer, rdb? The provision didn’t get into the legislation and remain part of the legislation by itself.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Even If I buy into your examples, they are merely the exceptions that prove the rule. The left is infamous for defending government programs no matter how outdated, ineffective, or pernicious.

That is a statement based on fifty years of observation.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

very silly

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Do not forget that modern American liberals are all about divide and conquer. They love to divide people by race, constantly race baiting. A good example is the recent lies about the TEA Party being racist.

They love to use class warfare to divide us, and increasingly use Sex and sexual orientation as well.

And all left wing parties have their brown shirts to enforce their edicts with violence. In this country it is the Union movement.

All left wing parties are big on censorship, in this country it takes the form of political correctness and speech codes.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

truly silly

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 2:04 am

Political correctness, speech codes, and the Fairness Doctrine, are, indeed, truly silly.

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 4:02 am

I wrote the above nonsense, and I’m unapologetic. I’m a high school dropout as well. I work at McDonald’s now, but I’m looking to move up to stocker at Walmart. I say aim higher! That way, you’ll have farther to fall when you get the boot.

Anotherphil October 19, 2011 at 10:18 am

A good example is the recent lies about the TEA Party being racist.

While ignoring the volcanos of anti-semitism coming from “Occupy”.

All animals are equal, except thatsome are more equal than others.

m October 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Most liberals were opposed to the Patriot act. I view this as a sufficient counter example.

Andrew_M_Garland October 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Is that why Obama has suggested repealing all or parts of the Patriot Act? (sarcasm)

m October 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Obama is much more interested in hippy punching than pursuing liberal priorities.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Yeah that whole Obamacare thing, support UAW thing, block Boeing’s move to SC thing, etc had nothing to do with implementing any liberal priorities did it?

Regards,
Ken

m October 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I’ll concede that Obamacare and the auto industry bail outs are things that most, but certainly not all, liberals would have begrudgingly support. But I’d like to provide you with a liberal take on the three issues you mentioned.

Most liberals in my circle wanted a single payer system (preferably based on the French, German, or Swiss models) but would settle for a mandate if it included a public option. Many ended up throwing tentative support behind the bill but were deeply unhappy.

What you referred to as “support UAW thing” is an ideological disconnect. The focus on benefits received by UAW is more of a conservative and libertarian meme. Liberals view this as “bailing out the auto/manufacturing industry” and are more focused on the ripple effects to the whole industry (as opposed to just GM and Chrysler). I’m not trying to get you to focus on that, but I want to highlight that issues related to unions are entirely besides the point on this issue from a liberal perspective.

The “Boeing’s move to SC thing” is a non-issue from a liberal perspective. I can’t recall it receiving any mention on any of the liberal blogs that I read.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

m,

issues related to unions are entirely besides the point on this issue from a liberal perspective.

This is blatantly false. Unions, democrats, and liberals go hand in hand.

The “Boeing’s move to SC thing” is a non-issue from a liberal perspective.

This also is blatantly false. Unions, democrats, and liberals go hand in hand.

Regards,
Ken

m October 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Ken,

I tried to give you insight on how many liberals will view/prioritize these issues. I’m sorry that you don’t believe me.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm

m,

How people think that they personally act isn’t nearly as important as they actually do act. I understand that you think unions, thus the UAW and NLRB, that important to liberals, but actions speak louder than words. Liberal after liberal vote for liberal politician after liberal politician. Liberal politician after liberal politician back up behind labor unions.

It’s called revealed preferences.

Regards,
Ken

Donald Trump October 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Both sides are wrong as usual. Government should be small and definitely smaller that it is at present and I shouldn’t control so much real estate and have billions of dollars at my disposal. Who am I? I’m an egotistical piece of work that is constantly looking for people who are in financial distress, so that I can buy their property for pennies on the dollar. I’m a vulture that circles a dying human, so I can feast on their remains. This is allowed under the brutal capitalist system that favors capital over people. The government should be small, so as to allow humans to follow their dreams without being smothered by it. I, The Donald, should be much smaller as well. I “crowd out,” just like government spending does. The government has to stop industry from melting the planet, but it isn’t doing its job of protecting the planet. So the government is bad because it is controled by the bad, rich capitalists. People and government should focus on their “core competencies.” Why should I get all the good deals; why should I be filthy rich; why should I have such as massive income without having to lift a finger. This is sick, I’m sick, the government is sick, the Tea Party is sick and doesn’t get it. Occupy Wall St. gets it; the anti-Vietnam war protesters of the 60′s got it. I have or don’t have prostate cancer. I’ll die today or tomorrow. You and Krugman don’t get it. So sad. I like being a billionaire by the way; it’s so much fun, I can’t tell you.

You and Krugman are lucky you don’t work for me. You both are wrong-headed. You are getting paid with public funds, and Krugman is getting rich working for the Times. I’d fire the both of you for malfeasance. I’d get you off the public dole. I’d save the taxpayer a few bucks in the process.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowding_out_(economics)

Donald Trump October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Really, I’d fire you both for incompetence. At least, I’m good at what I do.

Donald Trump October 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The idea that government should be as big as necessary is false. What it does has to be necessary and affordable.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

silly

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I don’t think so.

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 2:07 am

Personally, I don’t think at all. I just like to react to buzz words in various emotional ways and then spout leftist platitudes. That always gets me by in the company of my fellow liberals who, of course, are doing the same thing.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 2:10 am

Excellent analysis of liberals, House of Cards!

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 4:03 am

I wrote the above nonsense, and I’m unapologetic. I’m a high school dropout as well. I work at McDonald’s now, but I’m looking to move up to stocker at Walmart. I say aim high! That way, you’ll have farther to fall when you get the boot. Do you want fries with your burger?

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 1:37 am

Epic Failure, you have achieved the Peter Principle. Congratulations! For a statist, that is excellent!

HaywoodU October 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Your use of Wikipedia to state you opinions is Tired and smelly like Dung.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I could program a robot to answer any question with “a government program can fix it” and it would be indistinguishable from someone on the left, yet the left calls people on the right “robotic ideologues”.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm

The idea that there are universal standards is awfully threatening to some folks.

L. F. File October 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

That’s because all you have to do is whine about all your problems being caused by too much government and that is even more easily automated.

lff

Fred October 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Recognizing unintended consequences of well intentioned government action is an ideology, but seeing government as the solution to all of life’s problems is not.

Got it.

L. F. File October 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Seeing solutions as problems causes robotic operations to get caught in a loop.

lff

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

lol!

Gil October 19, 2011 at 12:51 am

Or you could build a robot that says “governments ruin everything” and you’d have a Libertarian.

Aaron McNay October 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Reading Steve Benen’s article reminded me of a quote by Milton Friedman, which goes:
“So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear. That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.”
I think that it is fair to say that Milton also did not care about the size of government in and of itself. Based on this quote, I think he primarily cared about the improvement of the lives of ordinary people and came to the conclusion, after reviewing the evidence, that free markets are the way to get there. Now, does this mean that there are not some people who want smaller government, and then look up ways to support that conclusion? Of course not. However, there are surely some people on the other side, who want larger government and then go looking for ways to support that conclusion as well. I think Russ is right when he says that we see ourselves, and others like us, as trying to make the world a better place, while seeing people with different ideological views as robotic ideologues.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I’ve yet to meet anyone who cares specifically about the actual size of government.

A declaration of desire for a certain size of government is typically short hand for the intrusiveness of government.

Those who say they want “smaller government” don’t see value in supporting a massive bureaucracy of busybodies whose sole purpose is to pour sand in the gears of the productive and to steal anything they manage to produce despite government’s best efforts to prevent wealth creation.

Those who say they want more government typically either want to obtain an unearned position of power or wish to use government to receive unearned wealth. “We want_____” where _____ is filled in with all sorts of goodies paid for by others like healthcare and a college education is just another way of saying that.

The only people who seems to not understand what the opposition to “big government” is are Benen and Krugman. Of course they do. They’re just being disingenuous.

W.E. Heasley October 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Paul Krugman aka Lord Windesmear disingenuous? Go figure!

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I’ve yet to meet anyone who cares specifically about the actual size of government.

Me either, but there seem to be plenty of people who want the government to do all kinds of things which require a large, powerful, bureaucratic political regime.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 12:50 am

True. What really is the difference between wanting the government to do all kinds of new things, and wanting a larger government? Krugman et. al. are claiming a distinction that isn’t there.

kebko October 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm

“Whether the government increases or shrinks in the process is largely irrelevant.”

This is simply not true. Any political movement based on “policy ends” will end up using government force. In a list of historical movements that had “policy ends” versus those that had liberty as a goal, I know which list I’d like to be governed by.

Of course, most policy advocates have only the best intentions. So avoiding the clear public choice implications is necessary, so that when powerful interests inevitably control the apparatus of the state, they can rest assured that it wasn’t their fault. Other people always screw up their utopias.

Brandoch Daha October 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

“Any political movement based on “policy ends” will end up using government force.”

This.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Other people always screw up their utopias.

And that’s when they start thinking about firing the people and getting a new one. Prairie Fire, can you dig it?

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I don’t actually think that most people on the left have good intentions, they are either after power, rent seeking, or like the rabble who sometimes post here, are all eaten up with envy and class hate.

Not good motives at all.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Strange and silly.

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 2:16 am

I don’t think it was strange and silly at all! I don’t have good intentions . . . not by your standards, anyway.

The left believes in mooching and looting, and I agree with them on those things. We were born; we are human beings with dignity; therefore, the rest of the world owes us: it owes us a guaranteed minimum income in case we don’t feel like producing; it owes us guaranteed medical care; it owes us free food; it owes us a free home; it owes us high-speed Internet access; it owes us free education; it owes us free abortions; and it owes us a guaranteed retirement. And if other people won’t provide those things to us, we’ll simply take it by force. The ends do justify the means but ONLY when the ends are good. And we, the left, get to decide what “good” means.

Don’t worry. You can trust us.

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 4:05 am

I wrote the above nonsense, and I’m unapologetic. I’m a high school dropout as well. I work at McDonald’s now, but I’m looking to move up to stocker at Walmart. I say aim high! That way, you’ll have farther to fall when you get the boot.
Do you want fries with your Big Mac? I’m a bootlicker, too.

Darren October 18, 2011 at 6:11 pm

This is simply not true.

It’s true that the size of government is generally irrelevant to Liberals/Progressives/Leftists. It’s just that the policy goals happen to almost always require larger government. A larger government is not a goal in and of itself, only an inevitable by-product.

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Larger government is not required (or even useful) for many of those ends. Their ideology is that government is always the solution.

kebko October 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Aaron McNay : “However, there are surely some people on the other side, who want larger government and then go looking for ways to support that conclusion as well.”

I would say this is true of practically all who want larger government, because once you’ve decided that you are willing to use the state to push your agenda, it doesn’t matter what agenda you have, the state will always seem to be the most effective means of achieving it. Once you have that state of mind, you only simply need to hold an opinion – practically any opinion will do – and the rest will follow.

Bruce October 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends. We want to expand access to quality health care. We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college. We want to make public investments to create jobs.

I have some questions. Assuming that progressives cannot create the necessary wealth to fund all of their goals merely by wishing it into existence I ask the following:

How does one “expand access to quality health care” without somehow coercing the provider to lower his price?

If one cannot get people to voluntarily lower their standard of living (at least in the short run) to reduce carbon emissons how can this goal be met without force?

Who among us has the all encompassing wisdom to determine that all young people wishing to go to college would make good use of the opportunity and thus deserve funding?

Finally, will we rely on these same omniscient overlords to pick the correct “public investments” that create rather than destroy jobs?

It seems to me that a reliance on a simple maxim like “small government which protects freedom and doesn’t try to pick winners and losers” is not so much “robotic” as “realistic”.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

How does one “expand access to quality health care” without somehow coercing the provider to lower his price?

two words: single payor

the rest of the sane world has such, spends less, and has better outcomes

Bruce October 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

where does the single payor obtain the money to pay the providors? Is the money obtained voluntarily or through coersion? You simply shifted the object of coersion from payee to payor. You also need to define “better outcomes”. If medical treatment in other countries is so much better than in the US, why do so many residents of those countries come here for cutting edge life saving treatment and so few Americans go abroad under the same circumstances? Also, have you noticed that many of these “sane” countries are also going broke?

Ken October 18, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Nick,

One word: competition.

The rest of the world spends less, but has worse outcomes. Additionally, the US subsidizes much of the medicine the rest of the world uses. Since most other first made it essentially illegal to provide quality medicine, the US now develops 95% of all medical innovation. Single payer health care will do nothing, as with all government programs, but kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Regards,
Ken

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Single payer = Monopsony.

Funny how the left hates MONOPOLY but embraces MONOPSONY.

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Actually, they love monopoly as well. The important thing to them is that the monopoly or monopsony is the government.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Perzackly. You want to know what a more relatively free market in medical care looks like? Go talk to your local veterinarian. You can find out in advance what a whole laundry list of procedures cost, and you can negotiate price on many of ‘em.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Also, there’s been studies on the increasing quality and availability of laser eye surgery. Generally NOT covered by government or commercial payors-its cheaper, more effective, safer and more available.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Word. I got LASIK in 2007, paid for it out of pocket (my infinite gratitude to my wife for practically insisting I get it done — happity hippity hoppity anniversity, sweetie!), and one of the best moves I ever made. I wear reading glasses when I need to (being 50), and sometimes I wear glasses (prescription about -0.25) while driving at night. Before the surgery, though, my prescription was -6.5, if you know what that means, plus a touch of astigmatism, and so the three simple words I can see! really mean something to me.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Do they really? have better outcomes? Nonsense. most of the systems in Europe and the one in Canada are dismal. Waiting times are outrageous.

They are also all pushing their nations into bankruptcy, the costs of the British, French, and Italian systems are particularly hideous and growing.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

You can always push up your sucess rate if you allow the reaper to take care of your harder cases-like they do in Britain and Canada.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 12:56 am

Or allow your health care system to decay around an already relatively healthy and homogeneous society.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

pointless and silly

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 2:22 am

You’re looking at things from the standpoint of a cold, heartless efficiency expert. “Waiting times”; “Successful medical outcomes”; etc. How cruel! The left doesn’t care. I look at things from the standpoint of a warm, big-hearted moralist — who is simply superior to you in terms of my evolved sense of right and wrong. If you don’t see it, that’s proof that you’re just not as evolved as I am. I believe the systems in Europe are highly successful at doing what they were designed to do: level everyone down to the same level (with the exception of the political leaders themselves, but that’s a different issue). The important thing is people’s feelings: so long as no one feels that his neighbor has access to better healthcare than he does, the system is working successfully.

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 3:55 am

I wrote the above nonsense, and I’m unapologetic. I’m a high school dropout as well. I work at McDonald’s now, but I’m looking to move up to stocker at Walmart. I say aim high! That way, you have farther to fall when you get the boot.

LowcountryJoe October 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

SIngle payors? Tell us; how does the premium get paid? Is it based on expected costs that each individual payor might be expected to use? Or is it based on the ability of the individual to have the premium confiscated from him or her? Be honest! And then ask yourself how you get everyone to make the very choice that you happen to prefer.

GrizzlyAdam October 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

“We want to expand access to quality health care. We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college. We want to make public investments to create jobs.”

What progressive policies have ever achieved any of these ends?

Kevin L October 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

They’ve never been able to steal… er, generate enough revenue to do them, don’t you know? Same reason we have to keep increasing spending on schools. With enough money bilked from those evil corporations and “millionaires” who make $250,000 a year, we can do anything!

Economic Failure October 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

You are a child. The wealthiest people are making most of the economy’s money by earing interest or rent on their money/capital. That is not work; it is theft from the hardworking public. Until you realize that, you won’t understand the capitalistic world in which you live. You live in a Tea Party fantasy world. Time to open your cross-eyes.

My first investment was when my mother took to me Gibralter Savings and loan when I was 5 years-old. The new account person told me that I would get interest on my savings. The Savings and Loan building was quite impressive as I recall. In what sense did I earn that interest other than via a system/ game in which I get a return on an investment?

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Wise economists of the Austrian school claim that the reason you made that investment is that you preferred a greater amount in the future to a lesser amount in the present; the borrower of your money preferred a lesser amount in the present to a greater amount in the future. Your having saved money allows the borrower to save time . . . otherwise, he would have to abstain consumption for a certain time period in order to save the capital he needed.

If I weren’t so afraid of the violent reaction I’d incite in my fellow peace-loving lefties, I’d tell them anyone who abstains from consumption — anyone who saves — is, by definition, a capitalist; and that businesses require capitalists every bit as much as they require workers.

m October 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Health care: All western european countries have implemented policies which result in similar to dramatically better health outcomes for much less money. Canada, Australia, NZ, Japan have also.

Carbon emissions: none yet, but the template of effective (market based!!!) regulations for this is Program in Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act, which was very effective in fixing the acid rain problem.

Reform the lending process: reforming the lending process is very specific, but certainly you’ll admit that Pell grants, the GI bill, and federal loan guarantees have made college more affordable?

Public investments to create jobs: Subway and commuter rail systems in New York, Chicago, and Boston. The interstate highway system. The Manhattan project, ARPANET, the space program. Now, many (maybe even all) weren’t dreamed up specifically to create immediate jobs, but they have all contributed heavily to America’s (or specific cities) prosperity.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm

m,

Health care

False. All the countries you mentioned have much higher costs and mixed results at best. Many times in those places, tests that are routine in the US take months or even a year to perform. This has bad results if you have cancer and end up with an inoperable tumor. Additionally, who you can see is pretty restricted. On top of those two costs, the tax burden in those countries are worse.

And the cherry on top of that shit sundae is that the US subsidizes the world’s medical industry. Since those other countries have essentially outlawed profiting from providing medicine, people stopped innovating medicine in those countries. The US is now responsible for 95% of all medical innovations in the world.

Carbon emissions

False. A graph of air pollutant levels over the last 130 years have been declining at roughly the same rate with no effect seen with the passage of any clean air acts.

Reform the lending process

False. The higher education bubble is at least as bad, and probably worse, than the housing bubble (another bubble caused by government “reform”). The idiots in OWS have gone 5 digits or more getting worthless degrees all encouraged by people like you trying to make college “more affordable”.

Public investments to create jobs

Subway and commuter rails are almost always a net loss for whatever city installed them. The Manhattan Project was pretty successful, but are you aware of the enormous costs (it consumed upwards of 10% of GDP). ARPANET and the space programs are by and large huge wastes of large sums of money. These programs take money out of productive parts of the economy and are wasted on expensive programs that mostly fail. If DARPA or NASA were private companies, they would have failed decades ago, making your statement that they “create jobs” completely wrong. They are in fact job killers.

Regard,
Ken

m October 20, 2011 at 12:21 am

Ken,

I’ll try to be concise.
HC) Look at % of GDP spent on health care. Look at mortality tables.

Regulation) Acid rain has gone from an observable problem (paint peeling off of cars) to a non-problem. Beyond that, we have no reason to believe that market forces will fail in this case.

Higher education: Nothing to respond to here, you simply changed the topic (and became personal).

Public investment) There are two topics here. One is subways and transportation. I suggest that you ponder if NYC, Chicago, and Boston would be the awesomeness that they are today if they didn’t have the capacity easily and cheaply move labor from housing to places of work. LA is the obvious counter example, but I don’t think that it’s sufficient. As per innovations, I will just point out that AAPL is the world’s largest company, and it owes virtually all of its resurgence to technologies that came from DARPA and NASA.

Ken October 20, 2011 at 12:46 am

m,

Mortality: As I’ve pointed out before, mortality tables can be misleading. First and foremost, the US has more immigration than any other country in the world. Many people are coming here from very poor parts of the world. Exposure to disease at a young age directly affects life expectancy. Additionally, many countries have different definitions for what is considered a live birth, thus the same birth would be counted as a life birth (then death) in one country, while another would simply not count it as a live birth. These definitions affect mortality statistics.

Acid rain: A non-problem. As the science got better and people’s understanding of earth sciences improved, it was recognized that the numbers being seen weren’t alarming in any sense.

Education: I didn’t change the subject. You brought up Pell Grants, the GI Bill and federal loans, all which you claim makes higher education more affordable, which as you can see by the financial burden put on the average college graduate combined with their pitiful degree choices (anything that ends in “studies” should never be gotten by going into debt, if at all), they don’t.

Public transportation: A couple of successes, which I’m pretty sure NYC, Chicago, and Boston are not, doesn’t make it a good idea in general.

AAPL: Opportunity costs. NASA also put a man on the moon, too, and spent tens of billions to do so. DARPA and NASA’s combined annual budget is about $20,000,000,000. This money can be better spent by private companies. Saying that these two agencies have come up with some technology completely ignores the fact that the private sector would have used that money more efficiently and would have created better and more technology for the same amount of money.

Regards,
Ken

Invisible Backhand October 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

You posted your critique before Krugman posted “I am not your mirror image”. I also commented that you should make your reply count, but you never followed up. I think you blew your chance to take a swing at the champ. Mike Tyson can’t fight every drunk in a bar because there are 10,000 drunks in bars and only one Mike Tyson:

While I don’t know enough economics to dissect your post, I think this is an accurate precis of your idieology:

And libertarianism is good because it helps conservatives pass off a patently pro-business political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom. Whatever we may think of libertarianism as a set of ideas, practically speaking, it is a doctrine that owes its visibility to the obvious charms it holds for the wealthy and the powerful. The reason we have so many well-funded libertarians in America these days is not because libertarianism has acquired an enormous grassroots following, but because it appeals to those who are able to fund ideas. Like social Darwinism and Christian Science before it, libertarianism flatters the successful and rationalizes their core beliefs about the world. They warm to the libertarian idea that taxation is theft because they themselves don’t like to pay taxes. They fancy the libertarian notion that regulation is communist because they themselves find regulation intrusive and annoying. Libertarianism is a politics born to be subsidized.

Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew

Brandoch Daha October 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Funny how Frank’s beloved crony capitalism is funded so much more heavily than libertarianism, eh?

Bruce October 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I would say that libertarianism doesn’t flatter the successful as much as it flatters the self-reliant. Progressivism, on the other hand, flatters both the dependent and the paternalistic.

GrizzlyAdam October 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Replace “libertarian” with “progressive” or “conservative” and the statement is unchanged. Libertarianism isn’t politics born to be subsidized. Politics (parties) is born to be subsidized.

The Other Tim October 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Look, a fool who still believes in the myth of Social Darwinism.

In seriousness, whenever one uses the argument that libertarians are simply rich people after their own interests as grounds to dismiss libertarian arguments, one logically opens the door to the converse argument, that statists are simply people without money who are after their own interests, and thus statist arguments can likewise be dismissed.

Now leftists have been conditioned through centuries of propaganda to believe the poor are always the people wearing the white hats, so they won’t see a problem with this. But rational people will realize that mobs driven only by the desire for money are simply looters and vandals. An actual logical defense of their ideas is required, which the above presupposition disallows.

Either everyone is driven by self-interest in such a way that no one’s arguments should ever be entertained, or no one is driven by self-interest in such a way that everyone’s arguments should always be entertained.

Dan H October 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

What’s wrong with being “pro business”? Commerce is the root of all social good.

You equate being “pro business” as “pro cronyism”. Nothing could be further from the truth. And you know this. You just choose not to see it.

The Other Tim October 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm

The term is poorly defined, so it often gets used to describe cronyism, even by libertarians.

For the economy to succeed, we do need successful businesses, so we need pro-market or pro-business-climate policy. However, the successful businesses we need do not have to be the presently extant businesses. If other, presently non-existing businesses could do a better job, we want them to come into existence and wipe out their ineffective rivals. Those rivals may want protection from that competition, and any such protection could be described as both pro-business, in that it protects some businesses, and anti-business, in that it harms others.

Remember that business competes with business in a game of survival of the fittest. Anything that is pro one business is anti another business. Which is why I generally don’t like the term pro-business at all. It can only be used by people who view “business” as something monolithic, and who accordingly don’t get the economy.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Well said.

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Maybe rather than “pro-business,” one should say “pro-profit-loss.” The idiot “progressives” conveniently forget about “loss” when screeching so hard about “unearned” profits.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

And libertarianism is good because it helps conservatives pass off a patently pro-business political agenda as a noble bid for human freedom.

Solyndra, GE, all businesses benefiting from Obama’s libertarian, no wait, Obama is a statist, bordering on facism.

Must be great living in a reality free-zone.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

You forgot GM and those corporations we call unions.

also, “bordering”?

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:16 am

Excellent quote Invisible Backhand. That’s a great book. Another great one is The Predator State.

But yeah rich people are never practicing libertarians… it’s only like any dogma to give credence to the church and comfort to the priest.

Libertarianism is an opiate of the masses.

Invisible Backhand October 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thanks. I bookmarked The Predator State, will try to take a look.

Work is intruding in my spare time, but I’m going to research libertarianism, the International Freedom Foundation, and South Africa. Lots of interesting stuff happened in the early 1990′s that is relevant to today.

Brandoch Daha October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

What utter nonsense. Liberals never advocate any policies that reduce the size of government. “More government” (with less accountability) is the only recommendation they ever have. And they are utterly indifferent to whether the stated goals are achieved. They savagely attack anybody who even tries to find out if they’ve succeeded. When the failure is so obvious that nobody can miss it, the only recommendation they ever have is to shovel more money into the same oven, and they savagely attack anybody who suggests new thinking or re-evaluation of the old.

Search Krugman’s columns for the string “big government” and see what he has to say about it. He thinks it’s the universal solvent and the philosopher’s stone all rolled into one. He waxes poetic like a lover. Nobody reading Krugman could mistake that his policy preferences are entirely emotional.

Benen can spare us the loving compliments he addresses to himself. It’s a bit nauseating to see a grown man kissing his own fundament like that, and apparently believing it.

In practice, he and Krugman reliably advocate more government, do not reliably reject big-government policies that have been shown to fail, and do reliably reject small-government policies that have been shown to work. Let them invoke Bill Clinton’s “end of big government” if they like; they opposed him hysterically at the time, and they did it in print. Besides, Clinton wouldn’t have done it if Gingrich hadn’t held his feet to the fire. And they said that in print at the time, too.

Objectively, they want more government and they don’t care at all about the actual results.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

“Liberals never advocate any policies that reduce the size of government.”

http://adamsewall.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/US-Federal_-Debt-Percent-GDP-by-President.png

Ken October 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm

That’s right! Inflation works every time! Don’t forget in the 90′s that Clinton was forced to move to the right after having his ass handed to him in 1994. But why let facts get in the way, amaright?

Regards,
Ken

Kendall October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

At no point in the discussion did Russ Roberts mention left, right, liberal, conservative, or libertarian. He cited Krugman’s tendency to substantiate his own ideology – and conceded his own tendency to do so. Krugman, and his supporters, however, refuse to acknowledge such an obvious thing.

Is that not evidence enough to make Russ’ point?

Jim October 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I wholeheartedly disagree with Steve Benen. The Left readily admits it hates markets and prefers government hierarchy.

As a simple example, no one with even a middling command of mathematics can argue against the fact that nurturing a market in health care would result in drastically lower prices and therefore expanded access. If the Left was serious about universal health care, it would insist on a health care market and attempt to subsidize individuals, instead of running huge controlling bureaucracies which over-regulate, monopolize choice, and drive prices through the roof.

That the Left does NOT do that tells observers all they need to know about ideology. It is the Right that is practical. And it is the Left that is driven by ideological statism at every turn.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I’m a card-carrying member of the left, I would suggest that I’m a bigger advocate of free markets than most on the right.

It is the right who want to eliminate regulations that would enforce transparency. Imagine how much chaos there would be in the markets if you can’t believe a company’s financials. Imagine how much chaos if business had no legal obligation to tell the truth about their products or services. The dishonest businesses would put the honest guys out of business. Imagine if we didn’t have anti-trust laws, and the big buys could put the small guys out of business in weeks by lowering their prices to below cost until the small guy went bankrupt.

It is the right who is seeking, for example, to eliminate the EPA. Image if business could pollute the air and water without limit, thereby making others foot the bill for cleanup and/or medical care arising out of such pollution.

The notion that government is, by its very nature, against markets is entirely false. To the contrary, in many ways, efforts to “reduce the size of government” are, in effect, efforts to eliminate free markets.

Emil October 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm

coercion is freedom…

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

re: “To the contrary, in many ways, efforts to “reduce the size of government” are, in effect, efforts to eliminate free markets.”

I wouldn’t put it as “to eliminate free markets” – I would put it “to allow room for coercion”.

Your post is dead-on. Adam Smith is great for making the same points you do. The problem for real liberals ought to be the minimization (if not elimination) of coercion. Defining coercion as government and government as coercion may help people sleep at night, and it may make the analysis easier but it’s not liberalism. Often coercion is minimized simply by having free markets. That’s why we liberals like markets so much. But in many cases coercion is minimized by government action.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm

But in many cases coercion is minimized by government action.

For example?

Daniel Kuehn October 18, 2011 at 3:32 pm

See Chris’s example. See any example of the ratification and defense of reasonable property rights.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Do you mean regulation? Sorry. I have way too much experience with regulation to wrap myself in cozy fantasies of how regs are making markets more fair and transparent.

Anti-trust? You can’t be serious.

I could have maybe agreed with you on the issue of pollution. When I was younger I would have strongly agreed. However, I’ve since had a lot of experience with all sorts of regulation. The EPA is used by politicians to inflict legislation they can’t pass in congress benefiting cronies at the expense of everyone else. In fact, this is how reg agencies are used – mostly as rent creating machines for politically favoured entities. And, of course, Paul Krugman is in favour of using the regulation as a way to empty the stores of cash companies may or may not have.

I agree with you with regard to property rights.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises October 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

it makes slavery illegal

kidnapping illegal

extortion illegal

we could go on

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

No, it makes SOME slavery, SOME kidnapping, and SOME extortion illegal. That’s because it doesn’t like the competition.

LowcountryJoe October 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

You should go on NL,EP; I’d really like to see this “many” that you’re referring to. Perhaps, just maybe, there are many many more instances of government doing the coercing don’t ya think?

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:29 am

Nikki, government also has done the following:

- Made slavery legal,

- Murdered innocent people,

- Falsely accused and jailed innocent people,

- Extorted money and property from citizens,

- Kidnapped people without just cause,
. . .

And I could go on and on about inappropriate government actions.

The Other Tim October 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Apologies, but you’re missing something.

Markets are not perfect, and governments are not perfect. Governments can pass laws aimed at coping with market problems, and markets can create institutions aimed at coping with market problems.

One can’t simply quote a litany of things government aims to do as if the list of things markets can do does not exist, and does not deserve consideration in comparison to the list of things government can do. It speaks to a strong statist prejudice, and a need to brush up on public choice theory.

The rational human being does not want to live in a world where someone can instigate violence against another. Since the means by which government gets its way would be termed extortion, assault, kidnapping, and murder were they undertaken by any entity other than government, the rational human being does not want to live in a world with a government unless some reason can be given why government is absolutely necessary to avoid worse coercion. That may justify things like police and army protection, but it can’t justify economic interventionism if there exist even mildly effective peaceful market workarounds to market failures. The disparity is simply too great between the level of inconvenience businesses can cause you and the level of violence government can bring to bear upon you.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Imagine how much chaos there would be in the markets if you can’t believe a company’s financials.

Imagine companies that lie about their financials having a difficult time finding investors. People do have a choice you know.

Imagine how much chaos if business had no legal obligation to tell the truth about their products or services. The dishonest businesses would put the honest guys out of business.

Imagine dishonest businesses being taken to court for fraud.

Image if business could pollute the air and water without limit

Imagine people downwind or downstream taking polluters to court.

Imagine if we didn’t have anti-trust laws, and the big buys could put the small guys out of business in weeks by lowering their prices to below cost until the small guy went bankrupt.

Imagine how the big guys eventually going out of business or having to stop that practice when small guys pop up within weeks of prices being reset. Selling below cost is not a sustainable business model.

The notion that government is, by its very nature, against markets is entirely false.

The notion that rules designed to hamper innovation and competition are complimentary to markets is entirely false.

To the contrary, in many ways, efforts to “reduce the size of government” are, in effect, efforts to eliminate free markets.

Efforts to reduce freedom do not foster free markets.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Somebody else is going to have to help Fred out. A characterization of regulations to enforce transparency and fairness in markets and prevent negative externalities arising out of pollution as “efforts to reduce freedom” are, for me, a bit of conversation-ender.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm

What do you need beyond criminal prohibitions of force and fraud as far as “transparency and fairness”?
Misrepresent yourself and your products in return for money and you become a criminal. Don’t need regulations for that.

Negative externalities arising from pollution come in the form of damaging the health and property of others. Why can that not be dealt with as a criminal matter as well?

Keep government reactive.

When government becomes proactive and looks to solve problems before they have a chance to exist, there is no end to what they will try to solve.

Absolutely no end.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Transparency? Fairness in markets? Now, I’ve heard everything.

I’ve dealt with the SEC as a regulated firm for many years. The SEC has been screwing you for decades in order to create rents for the too big to fail firms, my friend.

I challenge you to try to wrap your mind around any of the regulation the SEC spits out regularly. I have a posse of lawyers and we’ve brought in outside specialists just to try to decipher the rule 204. ONE rule. Nobody is sure. The SEC refuses to clarify (because they don’t know and they don’t want to say).

The funniest thing is that I happen to know that the SEC is aware that most of the regulation they write actually makes the market less transparent, less fair and less orderly. They put the rules in place to make the rubes think they’re doing something useful. I guess they’ve succeeded in their true mission.

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Fred,

Given the incentives of markets, you don’t even need government laws or enforcement to deal with (at least) some of those things. Given the abysmal record of government regulation, we should all look to whether those natural market regulations are good enough, even for some things that have traditionally been illegal.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:18 am

Methinks1776,, that is exactly right! The goal of regulation is to create the impression that the government has done something to protect the public even though the effect is to help crony capitalists.

andy October 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Imagine how much chaos if business had no legal obligation to tell the truth about their products or services.

It very likely wouldn’t be a problem. Seriously. If they are lying, you can prosecute them. You can ask; if they don’t answer, you don’t have to buy. Requiring the businesses _not_to_lie_ is not regulation.

Imagine if we didn’t have anti-trust laws, and the big buys could put the small guys out of business in weeks by lowering their prices to below cost until the small guy went bankrupt.

If you know something about anti-trust, you would know, that the world without anti-trust, and _especially_ without anti-dumping laws, would probably be no different (maybe even better). Anti-trust is just a russian-roullette for big companies. Microsoft antitrust is ridiculous; so was IBM’s….. pretty bad examples you have chosen.

Darren October 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

People do have a choice you know.

Imagine dishonest businesses being taken to court for fraud.

While in theory, ‘people’ have options to not buy a product or invest or bring a lawsuit, etc., those people usually have the funds to obtain accurate information before buying/investing in the first place, or hire a lawyer to address a grievance. Most people don’t have these options in practice.

Economiser October 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Do you not research products before buying them?

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Most people do have them, but most people don’t need to utilize them. Positive externalities are a beautiful thing.

Economiser October 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Thank you! I’m tired of people forgetting that common law exists without regulation. You can’t commit fraud, and you can’t commit a tort, without exposing yourself to civil liability. A massive regulatory regime to get to the same place is unnecessary and wasteful.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm

It is the right who want to eliminate regulations that would enforce transparency. Imagine how much chaos there would be in the markets if you can’t believe a company’s financials.

Yes, because the laws of the left guaranteeing accurate financial disclosure, starting with the Securities Act 1933 and Ending with Sarbanes Oxley (2002) prevented Studebaker, Enron, Global Crossing, Chrysler (both times), GM, Madoff, etc, etc, etc.

Of course, the GOVERNMENT did improperly prosecute Arthur Andersen without any consequence to those that did so and bailed out firms (rendering their financials to be fictions, since the contingent guarantee was not recorded).

Jim October 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It is the right who want to eliminate regulations that would enforce transparency. Imagine how much chaos there would be in the markets if you can’t believe a company’s financials.

From this statement, I do not believe you understand the market argument. You seem to conflate markets with crony capitalism, which is one step away from socialism and fascism.

We can not read financial statements now, BECAUSE of the regulation as lobbied by big business. It has rendered whole swaths of the professional class and its regulators into a useless tax on society.

Your first reply to my comment confuses government with the nurturing and defining of efficient markets. Government regulation more often rewards rent seekers than it nurtures or preserves a market.

My health care example stands. I could lower the cost of health care by 40%+ in less than 2 years. And let us not even begin to talk about banking laws and regulation. Our economy would be recovering now if it were not for TARP.

Kevin L October 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm

In a free market, businesses would have to demonstrate financial responsibility just as individuals do now. A corporation might have something analogous to a credit score (such things are already in place, in the form of bond ratings). Just as you have to prove your ability to pay when making large transactions, businesses would have to do the same. Under our current system, it is the government that is brokering credibility under programs like SEC, FTC, FDIC, etc. The difference between government (typically bureaucracies) managing credibility and other businesses (like Verisign and BBB), is that government bureaucracies cannot be held directly and immediately accountable. They are virtually immune from the democratic process, and not even the proverbial act of Congress is always successful in uncovering their operations, much less changing them. However, if a private company was renting out its credibility, it would be severely damaged by bad dealings on the part of its customers (those that borrow its good name). If the credibility broker makes just a few bad judgment calls, it can lose its good will with the public and therefore its customer base of businesses that want to be known as reputable. The government, by virtue of being self-legitimizing, is less susceptible to such changes in public opinion.

If you’re afraid of people trusting business too readily, then I submit to you it is the government’s involvement in distributing credibility that has led to some of the worst abuses. In a market free from specific regulation (i.e., rules outside of enforcing fraud, violence, and property damage), I can imagine that people would be MORE leery of businesses and less ready to trust just anyone. AND I think people would be more ready to stop transacting with a company that they felt was unscrupulous, opening up opportunity for competition, not merely on price but on quality and reputation.

And you should also realize that it is startups who offer their prices below cost in order to gain a foothold on the market so they can eventually turn a profit. Big businesses are risk averse, and not likely to forego steady profits. And besides, aren’t lower prices the point of competition?

Chris October 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I’m not afraid of people trusting business too readily. To the contrary, I am, as you suggested concerned that people would be more leery of business. So much so that it would be difficult to find investors and customers. That’s bad for the markets…very bad.

And yes, lower prices are the point of competition. Which is why it is necessary to have regulation to maintain competition and avoid monopolies or effective monopolies (if you use a browser, and I know you do, then you’re benefiting from such regulation as we speak). Lowering prices temporarily to eliminate competition leads to higher prices in the long-run.

Emil October 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

“And yes, lower prices are the point of competition. ”

Yes, but at a sustainably low level, you know such levels as are set by market, not levels commandeered by governments. That has been tried a number of times and it inevitably leads to lowered supply

“Which is why it is necessary to have regulation to maintain competition and avoid monopolies or effective monopolies”

the only lasting monopolies in the world have been endorsed or instated by governments.

“if you use a browser, and I know you do, then you’re benefiting from such regulation as we speak”

right, for firefox and chroma didn’t have any impact on their own nor would they withouth regulatory intervention…

“Lowering prices temporarily to eliminate competition leads to higher prices in the long-run.”

That is only true in theory if you really manage to foreclose the market from current competitors and possible new entrants. That is something very rare and very difficult to do without government “protection”

CalgaryGuy October 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Let’s look at an example. Company B can sell it’s product for $10, Company A decides to lower it’s price to $9, below it’s cost. After a few months Company B goes out of business and now Company A jack it’s price up to $12 not only to cover it’s current costs but to recover the losses it had while putting B out of business. Of course the monkey wrench in the plan is that there is nothing to stop Company C from starting up and selling for $10, after all, if B could do it, what would stop C from doing it? So, Company A decides to put C out of business and again sells at a loss. How long do you think Company A can keep repeating this?

Ghengis Khak October 19, 2011 at 1:05 am

@CalgaryGuy

This also creates an opportunity for D (or B, or C) to buy and hold widgets until A raises its price to $12, which they can sell for $10. This would damage A even further since it increases the volume of widgets sold at the loss price of $9.

andy October 19, 2011 at 3:30 am

Chris, what do you know about computers? Please, can you tell me, how did the browser-war against microsoft help my browser? Incidentally, I’m using my phone browser (symbian), ipad safari (kde browser) and firefox on linux. The result of the antitrust with MS was exorbitant sums paid to lawyers and the promise of MS to present users with esentially a free advertisement for other browser.
Please, can you explain to me what did it change? Seems to me that anything other than wealth of the lawyers is a stretch..

Jim October 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

@Kevin L

I like your comment. :)

Using it as a stepping stone, I believe we do markets a disfavor by not treating senior management as a proxy for ownership. Their assets should be on the line for malfeasance and fraud.

Similarly, we have allowed accountants, auditors and lawyers to water down their liability which in a true market would never occur. They have liability reduction regulation that a Main St. entrepreneur and employee (both of whom survive on their reputations) never acquires.

I submit it this legislation that allows these professions to retain their pyramid type structures at the expense of quality. That the auditors of Lehman could not tell it was bankrupt a few months before it collapsed has still not turned a light on the rent seeking of that profession. The FASB is by now no better than the SEC in exactly the way described in your comment.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I don’t know of anyone who wants to eliminate the EPA, standard liberal hyperbole and strawman argument. We achieved clean air and clean water sometime in the early 1980′s. All subsequent regulation has been expensive overkill.

That is what many want to reform.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I don’t know of anyone who wants to eliminate the EPA

Google the phrase, “eliminate EPA”. You’re in for a surprise.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm

After reading their arguments, I take it back, I now want to eliminate the EPA,

But that would not eliminate environmental legislation. It could all just be folded into the Dept of the Interior, and make them have to do a cost benefit analysis on any new regulations.

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

They take the rather rare successes, and extrapolate that they can do it everywhere and always with equal success.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:27 pm

How would you know what is “expensive overkill?”

House of Cards October 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I don’t know of anyone who wants to eliminate the EPA

I do.

The natural, market-driven improvement in technology was already heading in the direction of cleaner air and purer water even before the EPA. As one guest on Russ’s EconTalk pointed out, EPA one-size-fits-all mandates — e.g., “Thou shalt install scrubbers in all coal-fired plants” — raised the cost of electricity generation (or, what amounts to the same thing, prevented it from falling) by forcing ALL plants, even those that were already burning clean western coal, to install expensive scrubbers. There was no point in burning clean western coal if you had to install a scrubber as well; so these plants switched to dirtier eastern coal to justify their EPA-mandated installation of scrubbers.

Could this have been rent-seeking by the owners of eastern coal? Maybe. Which just goes to show that the purpose of the EPA, like any other regulatory agency, is, precisely, the rent-seeking it supports. The purpose of the EPA is to choose winners and losers in the market.

Ken October 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

Kyle,

The EPA should be eliminated. And, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but HoC gives a fantastic example of the shittiness of the EPA. The other good one is DDT. Thanks to this ban, tens of millions of people are dead.

Regards,
Ken

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Imagine how much chaos if business had no legal obligation to tell the truth about their products or services.

Why does ebay, for the largest part, work extremely well?

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Not to mention, regulation is not what makes it illegal to lie. Fraud is already illegal and we have a legal system that is fully equipped to deal with those issues.

Regulation, in fact, institutionalizes fraud. There is no way in hell Madoff’s fraud (for just one example) would have continued for so long if regulation worked anything like people think it does. Madoff was a huge political contributor and his buddy, Chuck Schumer, called the SEC and “asked” them to lay of his donor. This kind of behaviour is well known within regulatory agencies. It happens daily. But, it’s obviously completely unknown to the public. So much for transparency and fraud prevention.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:24 am

Yes! It happened in the 1980s when Senator Alan Cranston, Representative Pepper, et al interfered with federal regulatory examinations of certain banks that had made large campaign contributions both directly and indirectly.

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

So you don’t understand regulations OR markets. What a common and dull affliction.

But since this bit about transparency is one of the latest talking points to parrot across the mass media, I will just point out that forced transparency is a direct violation of the left’s beloved (and nonexistent) right to privacy.

Until this latest coordinated verbal onslaught against liberty, “transparency” was a term applied to government. Not because of free market principles, of which transparency is not, but because government is so damned dangerous, and its members so wildly deceitful, that we need all the tools we can to defend against it.

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

You are describing, to an extent, classical liberals.

But why bureaucracies (EPA, SEC, etc.) rather than courts to seek redress and punish bad actors?

Do you see no negatives with the extensive bureaucracies?
Do you grasp the incentives inherent in such agencies?

It seems not.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:33 am

” Imagine how much chaos if business had no legal obligation to tell the truth about their products or services.”

Chris

No need to imagine… it was called The Great Depression. But of course most of those here have a knowledge of history that goes as far back as the year they were born.

Emil October 19, 2011 at 3:52 am

right because there was no regulation during the great depression, none at all…

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

Right Emil there was no Glass Steagall law and you got the Great Depression. Then there was no major financial collapses for 50 years…50 years!!!! Then Glass Steagall was repealed after 9 major Wall SAtreet lobbying efforts and …GUESS WHAT… another Great Depression…. Do we need to do this a third time? Might that convince your grand children?

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 4:02 am

Business lying caused the Great Depression?

That, mon amie, is a truly novel and hilariously ignorant theory.

Bon chance pushing that one to Krugman….

[Watch – he’ll pick it up Sunday for his lazy ass NYT column]

Matt October 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

For me, there are two levels to this argument that come from two completely different questions. Krugman seeks to answer which government (economic) policies are best for society. Roberts seeks to answer whether the government should be issuing economic policies. Someone can more or less completely agree with Krugman and Roberts. Just remember, a lack of government is not a policy by definition.

Darren October 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Just remember, a lack of government is not a policy by definition.

But, replacing direct government regulation of the economy with indirect regulation via private institutions and market forces *is* a policy.

Matt October 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Not a government policy.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 4:09 am

Sorry Matt, your dichotomy is false; Krugman seeks to control the economy, whether by vulgar Keynesianism, or by populist revolt.

See DK for further guidance of your misguidance.

Mark T October 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Conspicuously missing from Krugman’s litany:

“We want to pay for these things”.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Conspicuously missing from Krugman’s litany:

Its there. He wants us to pay.

Martin Brock October 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

… those mechanisms are only valuable insofar as they reach a desired end-point.

Benen is blinded by his ideological assumption that those mechanisms can reach his desired end-points. If he assumes that faith healing cures cancer, he might also pray a lot over my cancer. I don’t expect his prayers much to help my cancer, but blinded by his ideology, he keeps on praying until I’m dead. Or if I happen to improve, he credits his faith.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm

RE: “Benen is blinded by his ideological assumption that those mechanisms can reach his desired end-points.”

In the excerpt from Benen that you provided, you missed the word “insofar”. It’s an important word that emphasizes the point that he is making. Benen is, in fact, pointing out that if a mechanism doesn’t reach a desired end-point, then it should not be implemented or otherwise dismantled.

On the other hand, if you are implying that such mechanisms can never reach the desired end points, then you are essentially asserting a “robotic” ideology.

Emil October 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

“On the other hand, if you are implying that such mechanisms can never reach the desired end points, then you are essentially asserting a “robotic” ideology.”

Or relying on empiry

Chris October 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I wish it were so, but alas…

Martin Brock October 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm

No. I quoted “insofar” and didn’t miss it. Nothing in my statement suggests that I missed the word. I assert that Benen assumes the efficacy of state programs to achieve specific goals, like increasing access to health care and regulating climate change, because he uses “insofar” in the context of a debate over this controversy specifically.

Nothing in my statement implies that no state program can ever accomplish any goal. This generalization is a straw man.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Nothing in my statement implies that no state program can ever accomplish any goal.

That was my inference. Thanks for clarifying.

Seth October 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

“…the ideological goal is the achievement.”

That’s a red herring.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Hmm, I was thinking most of the left’s “objectives” were white whales.

Mesa Econoguy October 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm

For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends. We want to expand access to quality health care. We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college. We want to make public investments to create jobs. There are competing ways to get to where progressives want to go, but the focus is on the policy achievement.

There are so many things wrong with this collection of statements, it is difficult to compress into a pithy blog response, so I’ll go phrase by phrase.

For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends.

A more accurate statement is For the left, presumptuous political objectives drive presumptuous policy ends justifying their any means necessary approach, including using government for objectives which it is not designed. It is using a sledgehammer or wrecking ball where a scalpel or nothing at all is warranted. History is awash with examples of government failure, yet the left is undeterred in their blind faith in this failed mechanism. And they will sacrifice individual liberty continuously to achieve their “goals.”

We want to expand access to quality health care.

Their “solutions” eliminate personal liberty in perhaps the most individual choice in most peoples lives: how to seek and obtain medical care that suits them. It makes the individual subservient to the tyranny of the majority who voted to steal their healthcare choice, in the name of helping others.

We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming.

You have failed to make the case that CO2 is a driver of warming, and that warming is even a problem. Yet you have pushed ahead with massively expensive socioeconomic reorganization schemes which will not address the problem (if there is one), and will plunge millions of people into lower standards of living and poverty.

We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college.

Many people should not go to college. Creating a lending bubble to create artificial demand for higher education has created a huge student lending bubble, and is eerily similar to the housing bubble. This is dumb policy.

We want to make public investments to create jobs.

This has been debunked, no commentary necessary.

So much of what “progressives” want to achieve either falls outside the role of government, or carries disastrous side effects, often the opposite of their stated intent. It is ignorance of the unintended consequences of good intentions, and attendant destruction of individual liberty, which dooms leftist “progressivism” to irrelevance.

Jim October 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

:) Like

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Not to mention the leftist economic analysis borrows much from mercantilism and appears to be utterly lacking in comprehension of the role of incentives in a system. They appear to think society can be re-engineered though a system of disincentives.

Steve C. October 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Can anyone cite an instance of a major public policy issue where liberals proposed a solution of letting free markets sort out the problem?

The only situations that come to mind are airline and interstate trucking de-regulation. I’m not sure they qualify as major public policy issues.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Are you sure “liberals” proposed a free market solution, or were dragged kicking and screaming.

In a similar vein, Jimmy Carter signed the Staggers Act, that deregulated railroads and defanged the ICC (until it was replaced by the FRA/STB by the ICC Termination Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1995 during his “triangulation” phase) but only after the Feds actually had to look at nine decades of inanity when they tried to run a railroad (Conrail) by the rules that bankrupted and delapidated the Penn Central and the rest of the Northeastern roads that formed Conrail.

Patriotic American October 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Can anyone cite an instance of a major public policy issue where liberals proposed a solution of letting free markets sort out the problem?

They are for getting rid of oil, coal, gas and agribusiness subsidies? (and don’t say ‘but solar gets…’. They would love to compete on a level playing field, it would be a big step up for them)

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Sure. There is nothing ideological about the policy goals. Or about complete blindness to the adverse or counterproductive consequences to growing the government. No, none at all. Really.

Michael October 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

+1

Dan October 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Ideology is most powerfully manifest in how someone characterizes those they disagree with. The best barometer of whether someone’s argument should be taken seriously is the manner in which they characterize the motives of those on the other side. It is apparent to me that Krugman is an non-serious pundit. Likewise, Obama “GOP wants dirty air and dirty water” is a non-serious politician. Of course there are many non-serious pundits and politicians on the right. In all cases, if the advocate justifies his claim by impugning the motives and character of those holding the opposing view you can save your time by just tuning out everything that follows.

muirgeo October 18, 2011 at 2:46 pm

“For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends.
….
For the right, it’s backwards — the ideological goal is the achievement.”

Very well stated and 100% consistent with my experience here debating libertarians and the rest of the smaller government is always better ideologically based crowd.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Like we expected anything else from the Muirbot.

Not posting as Invincible Ignorance today, huh?

Slappy McFee October 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I’ve got a better idea for how you can spend your time. Head over to HuffPo:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-robert-a-kornfeld/medical-myths_b_1015752.html

And explain to this doctor where he is incorrect when he states that more medicine isn’t necessarily better medicine.

Turns out most of the myths he discusses are a result of the third party payor system created by government.

Sadly, neither him nor you will be able to come to this reality.

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Because you are unable to grasp their arguments and so must substitute your own mal-interpretation of same.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:30 am

LOL, George! My experience in debating you is that you are overly emotional, sometimes incoherent, almost always illogical, and never have any credible evidence supporting your inane statements.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:17 am

Hey Dr. 9.1% unemployment, please tell us how your policy objective was egregious unempolyment.

Thanks.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I think there is a germ of truth in Benen’s statement “For the left, political objectives relate to policy ends.

However, consider the following examples:

“We want to lower carbon emissions to combat global warming. We want to reform the lending process for student loans so more young people can afford to go to college.” We want to make public investments to create jobs. There are competing ways to get to where progressives want to go, but the focus is on the policy achievement.”

Notice, how these objectives lack any concrete definitions or quantifiable parameters, don’t consider feasibility or consequences, consider no alternatives, have no underlying coherent principals except the presumption of desirability and in the case of “global warming”, presuppose the actuality of a “problem” for which they refuse to consider any existential or causative dispute.

In short, it’s the politics of immaturity. Children often consider their most transient needs and interests urgent and paramount, fail to consider costs (especially when delayed or inconspicuous) and simply expect others to meet their desires-simply because they’ve conceived of and articulated them. Often, they become hostile upon meeting any counterargument. Just think of Al Gore stammering about “deniers” and picture a four-year old melting down in a grocery store at the sound of “No”.

”What conservatives often find confusing is that the liberal worldview is not about necessarily increasing the size of government or raising taxes; those mechanisms are only valuable insofar as they reach a desired end-point. Whether the government increases or shrinks in the process is largely irrelevant.
For the right, it’s backwards — the ideological goal is the achievement.”

This is where this guy reveals his immaturity (simple right/left dichotomy) and arrogance (notice the condescension inherent in the phrases “often find confusing” and “backwards”). It also indicates the myopia of the left-in that while their world view isn’t “necessarily increasing the size of government or raising taxes”, it fails to see that it’s almost an inevitability if you insist on try to enact your desires by force.

Politicians, like water, take the path of least resistance and will-to show their commitment to constituents-reach for the first available and most visible tool-the compulsory power of the state.

Limited government advocates understand that power is the political equivalent of fire, something that can rapidly escalate out of control, if handled without care, especially by pyromaniacs. That is the hidden cost of following your emotions and viscera and engaging in constant social and economic tinkering.

Liberal “policy” is the equivalent of deciding your kitchen is cold and starting a campfire on the floor, mindless of the risks.

For 100 years, statists and their acolytes have been in control and for that time-they’ve constantly been attempting to eradicate poverty, hunger, privation, ignorance and a myriad of other social pathologies-that show no response to the liberal prescriptions that created other problems such as institutional dependence, political corruption and fiscal insolvency. Unfortunately, outside a few people (most recently, David Mamet), few on the left ever pause to consider the ineffective and counterproductive record of their religion and when confronted with its effects-they simply descend further into their nihilist echo-chambers to maintain the faith.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Sir, that was eloquently stated, I think I will use some of that to frame my own arguments.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Your excessive commenting is overkill.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

By the way, Government is indeed, like fire, or like nuclear power, it can be harnessed to do a lot of work, but it is a dangerous tool that can easily get out of control and destroy.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm

By the way, can you stop repeating yourself? Don’t monopolize the comments section with the same platitudes.

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm

In short, it’s the politics of immaturity.

Exactly. I have been calling them nothing more than spoiled brats for a long time. There is no perceived or manufactured need that cannot be solved by taxation and a government program.

“I want I want I want.” The whys, hows, whos is irrelevent to them. Cost is not a consideration. “I want I want I want.” Total babies.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

bravo.

Dan October 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

An additional mark of a non-serous pundit is the need to categorize all arguments into a binary world. A leftist believes his side is for saving the children, the weak and the frail while the right favors blood sucking corporations who feast on these same innocent targets. A rightist believes his side is for prosperity while the left seeks to make everyone miserable like they are. Of course then there are those self proclaimed moderates who claim the truth is somewhere in the middle.

No, the truth is what it is and if we were a serious people with a serious government we would recognize use data not only to justify government policies but we would be honest about why certain endeavors fail and be smart enough not to launch new programs based on the same flawed expectations!

sandre October 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I could care less about the size of the goverment, what I do care about policy ends – that government would leave me alone.

L. F. File October 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

You mean allow you to prey and be preyed upon?

lff

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Because governments are not predatory?

L. F. File October 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

They can be but they can also provide protection from predators.
Democratic government tries to balance the power of wealth with the power of the ballot.

lff

Mesa Econoguy October 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

How quaint and naïve.

It does so very poorly.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 1:28 am

llf,

You sure about this? Currently, 43% of the population is claiming to be 99% and is more than willing to use the ballot box to prey on those who actually pay taxes.

Additionally, no one provides protection better than yourself. Violent crime is lowest in areas where gun ownership is highest. Ever wonder why?

Regards,
Ken

L. F. File October 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

Ken,
You sure about this? Currently, 43% of the population is claiming to be 99% and is more than willing to use the ballot box to prey on those who actually pay taxes.

Additionally, no one provides protection better than yourself. Violent crime is lowest in areas where gun ownership is highest. Ever wonder why?

Last time I checked everyone who is employed pays the payroll tax – accounting for about 40% of all tax receipts – that has to be a lot more than 43%.

You seem to like linking correlation and causation so try these. 57% of gunowners are over the age of 45. Most crime victims and offenders are under age 45. This would lead one to believe that communities with a higher average age would also have a higher rate of gun ownership and a lower crime rate. No?

lff

Ken October 19, 2011 at 10:59 am

iff,

Many who are employed get most if not more of the money they pay in taxes back as a result of entitlement programs. Additionally, how many are unemployed? The US has the lowest adult participation rates today than in the last 50 years. The actual unemployment rate is over 20% (the official unemployment statistic only counts those who looked for a job last month, not those who have been looking for so long and gotten so badly discouraged they stopped looking). The unemployment rate for people in their early 20′s is close to 50%.

The lower crime rate for higher gun ownership has been controlled for by age, meaning that in communities where there are lots of young people and lots of gun ownership compared to another community with lots of young people and low rates of gun ownership, crime rates are higher in the low gun ownership community. So to answer your question, no.

Regards,
Ken

L. F. File October 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Ken,
Many who are employed get most if not more of the money they pay in taxes back as a result of entitlement programs. Additionally, how many are unemployed? The US has the lowest adult participation rates today than in the last 50 years. The actual unemployment rate is over 20% (the official unemployment statistic only counts those who looked for a job last month, not those who have been looking for so long and gotten so badly discouraged they stopped looking). The unemployment rate for people in their early 20′s is close to 50%.

The lower crime rate for higher gun ownership has been controlled for by age,…”.

I’m from Missouri — Show me.

lff

Ken October 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

lff,

Well let’s see. The crime rate dropped faster in states that pass laws for concealed carry. If you’re too lazy to look that up, start with More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

“Last time I checked everyone who is employed pays the payroll tax”

You think that paying a payroll tax discourages people from voting for higher income taxes and higher income tax-supported government spending? How so?

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

“They can be”

Monumental understatement. They dwarf all other predators nearly to insignificance. Care to guess how much of my property was taken from me last year from private thieves versus governments? The year before? How about the number of times I was threatened by private individuals vs governments? Shall we tally up the homicides in the world at the hands of governments, including our own, versus private individuals?

And democracy is a wonderfully manipulatable tool for agents of the state to achieve their ends while diverting the anger of their victims.

Fred October 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I see we have another simpleton who cannot wrap his feeble mind around the concept of limited government.

I’ll try to help a little.

Limited government means there are things that government does, and things that government has no business doing.

Some of the things government does is provide for courts and the punishment of criminals.

Some of the things government has no business doing is telling me what kind of light bulbs I may purchase or how many gallons per minute may pass through my shower head.

Limited. Look it up.

L. F. File October 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm

So you want to save us from predatory government so that the wealthy can prey on us directly.

lff

Darren October 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

So you want to save us from predatory government so that the wealthy can prey on us directly.

I am truly sorry that you are so feeble and incompetent that anyone with more money than you could ‘prey’ upon you without interference if your pet government program was reduced any.

g-dub October 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm

“[T]he world is dangerous, and people are blind to see the danger and powerless to do anything about it. Unless, of course, they have a government. Then, like when Popeye eats his spinach, the problems vanish. That’s what your presentation of the situation is: a cartoon.”–P.Surda

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

So now “to prey” means “to hire”? “To sell”? “To donate”? “To invest”? “To buy”?

I have been victimized many times in my life. Three or four times by petty thieves, never by a private rich person, and countless times and every year by governments.

LowcountryJoe October 19, 2011 at 1:50 am

In what way: twisting our arms to compel us to hand over our money to them in exchange for the things that their companies have made and distributed to a location near you [where you're in arm-twisting distance, of course]?

Fred October 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

Yeah

Those wealthy who prey on us by offering jobs, goods, and services.

Damn them!

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

Fred,
“Those wealthy who prey on us by offering jobs, goods, and services.

Damn them!”

Yeah wow look all those jobs!!! Fred…Stockholm Syndrome much?

L. F. File October 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

vikingvista,
” I have been victimized many times in my life. Three or four times by petty thieves, never by a private rich person, and countless times and every year by governments.”

So when the government uses your tax dollars to subsidize the oil industry it is the government that is stealing your money and not the oil barons?

And when the government deregulates the electrical power industry and that industry then rigs the market so that it can overcharge for electricity, is it the government or the industry that is stealing from you?

lff

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

” So when the government uses your tax dollars to subsidize the oil industry it is the government that is stealing your money and not the oil barons?”

Right. That is an obviously true factual statement. The oil industry is INCAPABLE of stealing my money, and has never done so. It is the government in that case that does all of the stealing. You want to stop the stealing? Then you must stop the government.

Now are you starting to open your eyes to the monumental evils of government action?

muirgeo October 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Darren October 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm
So you want to save us from predatory government so that the wealthy can prey on us directly.

I am truly sorry that you are so feeble and incompetent that anyone with more money than you could ‘prey’ upon you without interference if your pet government program was reduced any.

This is a statement only one totally divorced from reality and all of history could make. If right now YOU are not one of the top 1% I can guarantee you they are receiving the best deal from government which most of us all pay. did you miss the trillion dollar bailout, the $14 trillion of debt (used to pay mostly rents) or are you unaware that you are subsidizing the money the banks get from the Fed? You think you are so independent and unaffected by concentrated wealth but you are only ignorant and happy go lucky.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:34 am

More silly personal attacks, George. Tsk, tsk!

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 2:28 am

This is a statement only one totally divorced from reality

Medice, cura te ipsum.

Fred October 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

When there is a bailout blame the ones who are bailed, not the ones doing the bailing.

Tard.

Sam Grove October 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

If right now YOU are not one of the top 1% I can guarantee you they are receiving the best deal from government which most of us all pay. did you miss the trillion dollar bailout, the $14 trillion of debt (used to pay mostly rents) or are you unaware that you are subsidizing the money the banks get from the Fed?

So close, yet so far.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

Greg,

Are the banks being subsidized? Yes or No. I stated a fact not a personal attack.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

George, you said, Are the banks being subsidized? Yes or No. I stated a fact not a personal attack.

In your previous post you said, you are only ignorant and happy go lucky. Hmmm. Sounds like a silly personal attack to me.

Certain banks have been subsidized by big-government advocates like Presidents Bush and Obama. It the government did not have the power to spend this money, then the banks would not have been bailed out.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:32 am

Fred,

“Limited government means there are things that government does, and things that government has no business doing.
Limited. Look it up.”

As if the super wealthy want limited government. LOL you are funny and that is why they like having people like you defend their rent-seeking on some supposed moral grounds that they absolutely care nothing about.

Sam Grove October 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Riiiight.

That’s why the Libertarian Party has the biggest coffers around…no wait, it’s the Demopublicans that get all the booty.

Ken October 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Project much, mebbe?

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Yes, voluntary cooperation is obviously a prey/predator relationship in need of the civilizing force of the government jackboot.

brotio October 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Sandre!

Hadn’t seen you post in awhile. Glad to see you’re around

:)

Bastiat Smith October 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Taking a page from James Buchanan, Liberty is best because it allows for everyone’s preferences to be considered. Otherwise, it is only philosophically valuable. It just do happens to maximize utility, which is what economists want in the face of finite resources.

I value liberty further because it also causes investments and effort that is never less than the expected outcome. Otherwise the investment would not be made. Yes, negative returns are possible, but that is always a possible/expected outcome. I never work harder to obtain any end than I must, without compensation.

JKGDS October 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Everyone commenting around here wants people to prosper. By experience and study, everyone has concluded that expanding government’s objectives, funding and payroll plays a role in prosperity. Russ thinks it retards prosperity and Steve and Daniel think it plays a necessary positive role.

Can you really change their first principles by sidebarring into deontology/consequentialism and ideologue/pragmatist? That just seems like a trade of insults. Alternatively, you can keep the conversation tight and focused on examining and fixing particular matters so we can exercise and test the first principles.

E.g., Will Dodd-Frank deliver necessary consumer protections and the health care plan deliver cost savings and expanded coverage? How is privatisation of city services working? How did deregulation of trucking and airline industries work out?

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

However, the way the Russ and Don have created this site it is much more a venue for philosophical and broad economic arguments rather than on narrow policy issues.

And that is exactly why it attracts many people.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Can you stop already?

Michael October 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Seeing yourself as trying to make the world a better place and seeing your ideological opponents as robotic ideologues is a great example of confirmation bias.

No, it’s an example of a classic case ad hominem. It is a sad truth that characters are much easier to attack than are ideas.

ben October 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Sowell says the basic distinction is between concern with process vs outcome.

dithadder October 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Surely to prioritize global warming and the price of college is an ideological act?

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Well, yes in the case of global warming it is. You first must believe, despite a lot of negative and contradictory evidence, that it is both happening, that it is caused by man, and that we can do anything about it short of returning to a neolithic lifestyle.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

PLEASE!

House of Cards October 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Yes, having us return to a neolithic lifestyle is certainly the goal. Most polls today show that people in the U.S. don’t take Globalony Warming claims seriously, probably because of the publicity surrounding the Climategate scandal at the University of East Anglia.

I may be a kneejerk, leftwing, true-believing, horse’s butt when it comes to politics and economics ( I Sig Heil whatever the cadre officers tell me to on those issues); but when it comes to climate science, I carefully weigh the evidence.

Fearsome Tycoon October 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Let me summarize this debate: Liberals believe so deeply in their rationality and morality that they are blind to their own biases. Since libertarians are natural skeptics, they tend to be skeptical even of their own motives, and since they are attracted to the idea of “difficult truths,” they are more willing to say things about themselves that are less than absolutely glowing.

The responses of Krugman and Benen merely confirm this.

Jeff Neal October 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm

The winning distinction between the left/right positions in this matter (and all others) is that the right’s position is invariably grounded in the inviolability of the freedom of the sovereign individual. Nothing else matters. Respect that zone of individual sovereignty, and you’ll never fall in a lefty’s rhetorical trap, no matter the topic.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm

…the right’s position is invariably grounded in the inviolability of the freedom of the sovereign individual…

No it’s not.

The right’s position is invariably grounded in positions that ultimately seek to enrich the rich under the guise of freedom for the sovereign individual.

The freedoms that the right fights for include the freedom for large players to steal, legally and with impunity–as in a CEO stealing from his stockholders and employees by way of unjustified compensation, stealing from his customers and competitors by way of dishonest business practices, stealing from his community by trashing the air and water and leaving others to incur the damages, and stealing from the world economy by becoming to big too fail and then failing.

At the same time, the right fights for the freedom for the wealthy to avoid taxes on unearned income, income from investments and inheritances, while seeking to increase the tax burden on on the poor and middle class via taxes on earned income (income from setting one’s alarm and going to work every day) and necessary spending.

The evidence is overwhelming that freedom, small government, and lower taxes are not what the right is interested in at all. While seeking small government over here, the right seeks bigger government over there (e.g., eliminate subsidies for clean energy/increase subsidies for natural gas/nuclear) . While seeking lower taxes over here, the right seeks higher taxes over there (e.g. eliminate corporate taxes while complaining that not enough Americans pay federal income taxes).

Enrich the rich. Remember that, and you’ll never fall in a righty’s rhetorical trap, no matter the topic.

Josh S October 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Say, that’s a fantastic machine you used to post that. Probably does millions or even billions of computations a second. Caesar would have given his kingdom for one, I’ll warrant.

So I guess that makes you rich.

yet another Dave October 18, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I dislike the terms “right” and “left” because of how elastic and inadequate their meaning is. What you describe as “the right” here sounds more like the national republican leadership to me. However, I wouldn’t call the repub leadership “the right” at all. More accurate is to describe the republican party as “the left” and the democrat party as “the far left” Better still is to realize that both of the major parties are riddled with cronyists that are selling us all down the river.

If you think you’re describing libertarians you reveal a profound misunderstanding.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Relatively speaking, there aren’t many libertarians among the right–even among those who adopt the label. But no, I’m not describing actual and consistent libertarians.

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

I used the words “right” and “left” loosely.

I should have said – right-thinking and wrong-thinking.

Methinks1776 October 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm

What a load of confused hogwash.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 2:25 am

Yes, but some of it rhymed.

Dan J October 18, 2011 at 7:43 pm

tripe

Economiser October 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm

You appear to be confusing libertarians with the GOP leadership.

Dan J October 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Indeed, the GOP lack of fidelity to individual freedom is only surpassed by 1000X over by democrats and the likes of progressivism lead by people like Obama.
But, with a lack of strong Libertarian frontman who makes a great and simple argument that takes into account the fact that most in US, including myself, are accustomed to some of the security blankets that we traded for our liberties, the Libertarian arguments can often push moderate people into the warm embrace of statists.

Mesa Econoguy October 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Enrich the rich?

I thought it was Face the Face?

Sam Grove October 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm

The evidence is overwhelming that freedom, small government, and lower taxes are not what the right is interested in at all

The evidence is overwhelming that freedom, small government, and lower taxes are not what the left is interested in at all.

The evidence is overwhelming that freedom, small government, and lower taxes are not what politicians are interested in at all.

They are, however what libertarians are interested in.

L. F. File October 20, 2011 at 6:06 am

Try Somalia. Small/no government, lower/no taxes and all the freedom you can afford.

lff

Dan J October 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm

And how was Somalia with a govt? The no govt somalia looks much like the Somalia with a govt.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm

The evidence is overwhelming that freedom, small government, and lower taxes are not what the right is interested in at all.

Evidence? Your superstitions and prejudices are not “evidence”.

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

You’re being partisan – I did not intend to be.

Do you or do you not agree that the principle I submitted is one that should be followed?

I_am_a_lead_pencil October 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

“…the right’s position is invariably grounded in the inviolability of the freedom of the sovereign individual.”

Except in matters of drug use, prostitution etc..

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Yes, conservatives are only libertarian on fiscal issues. Still, there are some overlaps. I can at least usually have a conversation with a right winger about something like ending the War on Drugs.

I can’t have a real conversation with someone on the left about personal freedoms because they either cannot even agree with me on basic concepts, or they are so far into their ideology that it devolves into sloganeering and name calling.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

ENOUGH!

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 11:18 am

I think you read more into my use of the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ than I intended. I do not mean to identify with or attribute either of those words to any specific party or politician

I agree with you – freedom is freedom, even with regard to the topics you mention.

vikingvista October 18, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I disagree. Conservatives have always been eager to violate my individual soverignty to support their wars, subsidize family units they like, keep me from playing certain games or using substances they don’t approve of, hire foreigners they find distateful, promote central banking inflationary policies, punish me for buying goods from some foreigners, and if this latest debate is any indication, embarking upon biblical scale government project boondoggles like building a double layer wall all along the US-Mexico border.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Hey, it’s infrastructure.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm

hopeless

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 1:19 am

And you’ll find no shortage of conservatives talking about how hit would stimulate the economy.

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

You’re missing the point. I did not mean to suggest that Republicans or John Boehner or Rush Limbaugh are ALWAYS correct or always abide by the principle I put forth . . .

The principle stands on its own – I was not making a political statement in favor of a certain politician or policy

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Am I wrong to include conservatives among “the right”?

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

You are wrong to include conservatives on the right. Now that I think of it, I meant to say ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I was not making a partisan statement for or against conservatives, liberals, republicans, democrats, anarchists, libertarians or theocrats.

Do you or do you now believe that the individual is endowed with unalienable rights, i.e. that the individual is a sovereign entity and that the freedom of the individual is inviolable? (Unless he takes another man’s freedom, life or property)

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Your apolitical use of “right” vs “left” is not something I’m familiar with (or that I yet understand). It is not unreasonable for me and others to assume that you meant it in the usual political sense.

L. F. File October 20, 2011 at 6:53 am

Jeff, You say: “Do you or do you now believe that the individual is endowed with unalienable rights, i.e. that the individual is a sovereign entity and that the freedom of the individual is inviolable? (Unless he takes another man’s freedom, life or property)”

Taken without the qualifier at the end this is anarchy. And the ambiguity of the necessary test – i.e. what constitutes “(taking) another man’s freedom, life or property” – in a modern society seems to really just put us where we are..

Political systems establishing a national security apparatus with a disciplined military, a public health service, national transportation and communications systems, etc., soon become overwhelmed with completely rational positions on both sides of contentious issues.

The system of justice – based on individual freedom constrained by non-interference with anyone else’s freedom – that emerges from settling these issues looks pretty much like the one we have now.

Where’s the beef?

lff

Jeff Neal October 20, 2011 at 11:23 am

A was not attempting to write a complete governing philosophy for a state. I was merely articulating what I think is the foundation for any governing body, including the US Constitution. No where did I suggest there was no place for government, so maybe there isn’t an argument, unless you think the current government as configured in Washington, DC has remained true to the Constitution. I don’t. I believe that no rational assessment of what is happening in Washington would conclude that the modern state is a product of our Constitution as properly interpreted and administered.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 12:18 am

Just to illustrate that libertarianism tolerates all, I disagree with much of that, but don’t really care, because our economic views are so closely aligned, and cross-border flow of goods and services is a salve for most of this, but the border clearly is broken. Proximity would reveal this fairly stunningly to you.

That failure lies squarely with the federal government, giving us another point of agreement.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 1:17 am

Perhaps there is increased violence in recent years in border towns, where I have spent little time, due to US Federal government prohibition, but not where I live and work. The overwhelming effect of the border being broken is cheaper products and services for all, because thankfully the people crossing the border, and the few who hire them, have the incentive to risk violating immoral, costly, and highly political Federal government wage and labor laws. Merely crossing a desert does not, anywhere, merit being hunted down, kidnapped at gunpoint, thrown in a cage, and forcefully removed. Natural rights are not a gift of the US Constitution.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:22 am

Mostly agreed, however, different countries treat violence very differently, and the stated legislative framework of this country directly demands that it is the responsibility of the federal government to “protect” its borders, whatever that may mean.

I suspect the Krentz family has a claim against the government on those grounds.

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

Mmmmhm. One party, two wings. I couldn’t tell if I was reading about the right or the left in your post.

vikingvista October 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Good point.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm

So Jeff based on this I take it you are a strict anarchist? There can be no other interpretation as I see it. Or are you planning to force the anarchist at gun point to provide you some police and some courts?

Jeff Neal October 20, 2011 at 12:04 am

Your conclusion does not follow, is not a rational reply to what I’ve written. Nothing I’ve written suggests anarchy unless one is to assume is nothing between a government that confiscated 25% of the economic activity and anarchy.

L. F. File October 20, 2011 at 8:28 am

Without the qualifier – i.e. “(taking) another man’s freedom, life or property” it is anarchy. And if it takes 25% of the economic activity for the justice system to sort out what that means there aren’t many options.

lff

Jeff Neal October 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

1. maybe that’s why I had the qualifier. Or would it be fair for me to comment that not counting the words you wrote, you wrote nothing.

2. Huh. You think 25% for the ‘justice system’ is what the government is spending $3.6 trillion this year?

Dan J October 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Of course, muirgeo says “there can no interpretation, as I see it.”. As if, we expect anything more from you.

gg October 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Conservatives generally just care to keep the status quo. Libertarians may agree with liberal concerns but know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. They stick to ideology to tie themselves to the mast and avoid the allure of the experts-know-best dirigisme.

Dan J October 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I will reiterate what I am sure what was said much more articulately and intelligently in the posts above, which I have not read……

The assertions on policy achievments in which they accomplish such goals unfortunately means that those goals put more people into poverty and restrict liberty of individuals. More people in college could have been acheived without govt direction and has led to inferior educations, as demonstrated by the dopes who participate in OWS. Also, the govt interventionsim has led to higher costs and cronyism.
Their policy goal of more access to healthcare leads to less access for all and slowed advancements with the inevitable rationing.
Their policy of limiting emissions has led to higher costs on individuals, less consumer purchasing power, and more unemployment.
What exactly has been the benefits to society? I guess if you walk with your eyes closed and imagine the benefits rather than open them up and see the consequences then utopia is coming to fruition.

Josh S October 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

So the reason North Koreans are in such grinding poverty is too much liberty. If only they had an authoritative government like ours!

Dan J October 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Big govt= less liberty

Dan October 18, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Chris,

Thank you for supporting my thesis. In your binary world conservatives are evil crony capitalists who seek to profit by keeping the “man” down. This view is not only wrong it attributes to conservatives behaviors that they abhor. It is like saying saying Christians steal, rape and murder others when in fact the essence of being Christian is to uphold the 10 commandments as well as the edict to love one’s neighbor.

Do you recall that conservative Republicans were against TARP and in fact the vote to pass TARP had to be held twice so Bush and his comrades could twist enough arms to get the votes needed to pass it? Do you pay any attention at all to what mainstream Tea Party voices and classical liberal economists have to say about Too-Big-Too-Fail banks and the crony capitalism that reeks in Washington?

A true conservative desires a playing field based on the rule of law. A true conservative believes that in such an environment all who are willing to work will realize the fruits of their labors. A true conservative believes that free-market success requires businesses to provide services and products of value in return for their customer’s money.

Obviously, you have no idea what true conservatives believe, so you typecast the greatest villain in your mind and call it conservatism. Thus it is you who are the blind ideologue.

Chris October 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm

It is like saying saying Christians steal, rape and murder others when in fact the essence of being Christian is to uphold the 10 commandments as well as the edict to love one’s neighbor.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Mathew 7:20

Referring to oneself as a libertarian, a “true conservative”, or “small government conservative” (or a Christian) is not the same as actually being one.

By the way, I do recall John Boehner crying on the House floor while trying to persuade his colleagues to pass TARP, a program developed by and advocated by “true conservative” George W. Bush. I recall John McCain, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Glenn Beck, and other Tea Party favorites expressing their support for TARP at the time.

I also recall Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint endorsing Mitt Romney when Romney was campaigning to take his health care program, mandates and all, nationwide. I recall Tea Party favorites complaining about and voting against the Recovery Act while standing at ribbon cutting ceremonies in their home districts in front of giant checks representing money distributed by, none other than, the Recovery Act.

On the other hand, no, I have not observed Tea Party voices criticizing crony capitalism that reeks in Washington. To the contrary (e.g., Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan,…).

A true conservative? To the extent that one rails against government subsidies while supporting subsidies for certain industries, one is not a true conservative.

To the extent that one rails against deficits while simultaneously seeking to significantly cut taxes for a limited few while increasing spending on defense and various corporate subsidies, one is not a true conservative.

To the extent that one seeks a “humble” foreign policy, while advocating misbegotten wars in the likes of Iraq and, now, Iran, one is not a true conservative.

To the extent that one rails against federal power usurping states’ rights while advocating for tort reform, for example, which would oust states’ rights to set their own limits on legal damages, one is not a true conservative.

To the extent that one seeks to reduce abortion rights, limit gay rights, and criminalize drugs, one is not a true “small government” conservative.

To the extent that one claims to believe in the rule of law, while asserting that money is speech such that those with the most money have the most speech, corporations have constitutional rights, and that we should knock down the wall between church and state (specifically, the evangelical fundamentalist Christian church), one is not a true conservative.

I live in Cobb County, GA. I’ve met and shaken hands with Bob Barr, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity (he used to live here too), Neal Boortz, Johnny Isakson, and others. Yet, I have yet to meet a libertarian, a small government conservative or true conservative. If you spot one, please let me know.

kyle8 October 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

The problem I have with what you are saying is that it appears to be a call for ideological purity. I consider myself a libertarian, with conservative, or traditionalist leanings.

But I was briefly involved with the Libertarian party and quite frankly some of those people scared me. I think there are many many issues and it is not only difficult to be doctrinaire on them all, but it would also make you incorrect much of the time.

I temper my libertarian beliefs with pragmatism, lots of pragmatism. We are not even close right now to a libertarian society, and so I am happy with incremental baby steps.

Economic Freedom October 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Herman Cain?

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm

ave not observed Tea Party voices criticizing crony capitalism that reeks in Washington. To the contrary (e.g., Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan,…).

That’s their signature issue. The fact that they don’t single YOUR boogeymen, doesn’t mean they don’t oppose crony capitalism. Then again, I don’t see you complaining about GE, the tort bar, unions, or Solyndra.

BTW, Goldman Sachs’s recent alumni: Henry Paulson, Jon Corzine, Robert Rubin-ALL DEMOCRATS.

g-dub October 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I’m not sure how the Koch family got on that list. I’m glad they fund anti-commie think tanks. That is what the commies get hysterical about normally, not that they are subsidized. They’ve publically stated they want subsidies to end, but will take them if they are there and their competitors take them too.

muirgeo October 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

It’s playing out in the real world of politics. The liberals are looking for solutions that include pragmatic and efficient solutions not bounded by spending increases or taxes or government size with unreasonable bounds. Much as the conservatives like to believe the liberals care only about spending they do not. They are far more reality and solution based. The conservatives indeed have drawn a line in the sand to not increase taxes including the elimination of unneeded subsidies. The very idea that we need to cut spending as if over spending was the problem that got us into this and as if cutting spending will some how get us out of this is so illogical it can only be ideologically driven. same with the absolutism on taxes and subsidies.

Anotherphil October 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm

The liberals are looking for solutions that include pragmatic and efficient solutions not bounded… .

Good grief, you are so addled that you don’t realize that unbounded and pragmatic are mutually exclusive terms. Ditto unbounded and efficient. This is why you are so immediately dismissed as deranged.

Have you thought about a basic vocabulary course?

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

You can debate grammar all you want AP but it’s clear you guys have NO solutions to our current problems and the solutions will ultimately be government action/ policy changes… unfortunately prompted by massive demonstrations as concentrated wealth has bought out our democratic options.

Bottom line I will be right and you will be wrong. There is no more wiggle room for your guys stupid policy recommendations because they are not outcome based but ideologically driven. You’re dead men walking you and your ideological position.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:57 am

George, the solution is simple. Reduce government spending, cut real marginal tax rates, eliminate burdensome regulations, and maintain sound money. The few protesters will go to prison as they should. Any questions?

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

Greg,

We have cut 500,000+ public jobs, states HAVE reduced their spending, real marginal tax rates are lower then they have ever been and money policy is COMPLETELY under the control of the desires off Wall Street…. so how come things are not better?

So yeah I do have a question…. Which planet do you live on?

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

George, I guess I expected too much of you. The federal government must cut its spending just like the State governments have. Real marginal tax rates should be cut from where they are now. Monetary policy is under control of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who has helped many political cronies and now may be helping to bail out the political cronies of the EU. That has to stop.

I live on the planet Earth. And, I have one request. Stop using psychedelic drugs.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

“Stop using psychedelic drugs.”

Steve Jobs dropped some acid and said it was one of the most influential things he ever did. Greg…creative people think differently.They don’t go with the flock.

Greg Webb October 20, 2011 at 1:51 am

George, you said, “Steve Jobs dropped some acid and said it was one of the most influential things he ever did.”

That’s the problem with regressives – no sense of perspective. Steve Jobs did acid a few times and did not suffer any bad effects from it so George thinks he can do psychedelic drugs routinely without Ill effect. George, being fat, stupid, and drugged out is no way to go through life.

Sam Grove October 19, 2011 at 1:01 am

The evidence of history shows that 70+ years of progressive and CONSTANTLY GROWING GOVERNMENT has brought us to this point.

Your profound denial of this evidence shows you to be stupid and/or dishonest.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:56 am

I vote “and.”

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:59 am

I concur.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

“The evidence of history shows that 70+ years of progressive and CONSTANTLY GROWING GOVERNMENT”

Sam

But wait Sam… we just had 2 quarters of RECORD corporate profits… so where’s the problem? When you say, “… brought us to this point…” what are you referring to??

http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2011/gdp2q11_3rd.htm

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Definitely “and”

Sam Grove October 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

The point you are complaining about, politicians giving money to corporations, etc.

Jeff Neal October 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

Concentrated wealth is not the problem, it is rather the result of the true problem – concentration of power in the federal government coupled with the elected officials occupants putting that power up for sale. That leads to rules that favor, well, the powerful – how else could you imagine power being used? To help the weak? Not in a real world, and our founders knew that, so the attempted to strictly limit what the federal government could do. That power coveting men have taken office and ignored the Constitution does not impugn its rightness. Return the government to its ‘constitutional cage’ and all of the ills of our country will be healed by free men of goodwill pursuing their self interests in peace with their fellow free men, with the government enforcing contracts and protecting them from being compelled by others to do anything contrary to their own wishes.

Pretty simple.

Anotherphil October 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I can debate grammar and you can’t debate ANYTHING. (where’s my Staples EASY button?)

Hence you stammer crap about solutions and (we already told you there are no solutions, just tradeoffs) insist that “you will be right”. Sorry no evidence to support that assertion.

Mesa Econoguy October 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm

You liberals have 9.1% unemployment. You liberals have destroyed much of the financial sector, and are in the process of regulating the rest out of existence, primarily because of your housing-related lending policies. You liberals are imposing the exact same stupidity as FDRs 1930s debacle, only this time using corporatism as both a shield and a guide.

You liberals are dangerous, despicable shitbags, responsible for everything that is wrong currently.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 12:43 am

Yeah, that glass Steagall law was just so awful…. all those crashes while it was in effect and that 4- 5% GDP growth…. just awful. Things improved so much after 1999…

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 12:59 am

Yep, Glass Steagal so prevented the recession and banking crisis of the mid 1980s through early 1991.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:08 am

Glass Seagull again, Dr. Moron?

Too bad you have zero clue about electronic daily collateral pledging, and interbank lending backstopping this, which means I can do the exact same thing via tri-party agreements, with or without Glass-Stiglitz.

And part of that was brought about by another piece of regulatory legislation, the Investment Company Act of 1940, which I’m sure you know all about, and can tell your clueless parasite kids how to emulate.

So we could likely be having this identical conversation after an identical financial collapse caused by the identical polices created by the left, i.e. you, irrespective of Ass-Stigface.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

” which means I can do the exact same thing via tri-party agreements, with or without Glass-Stiglitz.”

And yet no one did prior to the repeal…weird that.
You are the one in denial. And there are plenty of professionals from finance who will tell you so. It’s not my claim….. but it is a fact. There is NO REASON for commercial banks backed by Federal insurance to be allowed to set up casinos with other people’s money.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Wow, another post hoc ergo propter hoc argument from The Dumbest Person in the Country.

How predictable.

LowcountryJoe October 19, 2011 at 1:59 am

You are rather repetitive on the buzz words, muirgeo. I would think that by now you could explain how going back to keeping banking activities/role separated by bank-type would be preferable.

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

Or how repealing a portion of Glass-Steagall contributed to the housing bubble. Let’s be honest. He’s probably on about Glass-Steagall because he thinks the Republicans repealed it.

Sam Grove October 19, 2011 at 12:10 am

You paint with a pretty brush a fantasy world which you claim is reality based. I don’t buy it.

Dan October 18, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Chris,

If you truly believe what you write than I suppose you are most libertarian of all libertarians. Are you? If not, what is your point? Politicians tend to be self-interested, flawed humans. But what does that have to do with the ideal of limited government and individual freedom? If you believe in those principles than should advocate and defend them independent of the ability of politicians and parties to represent them.

However, you seem to believe that since there are no perfect conservatives than the concept is null and void and the answer is expansive government. Tell me how that calculation works? How does Big Government answer the problems of corporate malfeasance? Are not liberals just as corrupt as republicans? Is not Frank-Dodd one big giant kiss to certain financial corporations? Is not Fannie-Mae a thoroughly corrupt haven of ex-Democrat bureaucrats?

If advocacy of limited government is not the answer because there are no good conservatives how is Big Government the answer?

Chris October 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

My point is that the small government v. big government debate is inane. And, sadly, the actions of those who try to engage us in this nonsensical debate indicate that they don’t even believe what they’re saying. They believe in small government, except when they don’t. They believe in states’ rights, except when they don’t. They believe in a humble foreign policy, except when they don’t. They believe in lowering everybody’s taxes, except when they don’t. It’s b.s.

We need to get past the big government v. small government silliness, identify the problems, and identify the best solutions…ideology be damned.

yet another Dave October 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

We need to get past the big government v. small government silliness, identify the problems, and identify the best solutions…ideology be damned.

Is it silliness to recognize that many problems are directly caused by excessive government involvement and therefore the solution is to reduce the size and scope of government? Do you believe the bureaucracy and politicization of issues that inevitibly comes with government involvement is compatible with solving problems?

Mesa Econoguy October 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I just read the Benen piece again. This person is profoundly confused.

He encapsulates all that is wrong with the left generally, and it is very telling that such garbage passes for commentary in Washington today.

A few items demand retort.

“Keynesianism isn’t about promoting bigger government;”

But that is exactly what it has devolved to. The economic history of the US over the past 75 years is irrefutable evidence of this, and to state otherwise is to ignore the historical economic record. Both parties are guilty.

“basing economic views on political prejudices is a bad idea — but it’s this first point that stood out for me. Regular readers probably know we’ve discussed this before, but I continue to believe it’s one of the key observations in American politics, because it’s fundamental to understanding how both sides of the political divide seek to advance their goals — and the nature of the goals themselves.”

How deliciously ironic that we currently have an administration hellbent on doing just that, and repeating the identical past mistakes of FDR – imposing unnecessary regulation, attempting top-down command economy controls, etc. – and then attempting to paint the various opposition as “backwards.”

Such is the historical ignorance of the modern progressive.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 1:05 am

“Such is the historical ignorance of the modern progressive.”

Mesa

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_8UVGnCIfOVk/TAcUwUiTiNI/AAAAAAAAAJU/C0dJtVpm-3o/s1600/Figure_1.bmp

Yeah cause history and data are so consistently on your side…. as I’ve said from the beginning here… policy matters. I just have to wonder where you bought your history books… the Fox News Bookstore?

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:12 am

George, Herbert Hoover was an active big government activist during his term of office. But, thanks for proving Mesa’s point.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

Oh wow… look at Greg…. He just rewrote and thus apparently changed 4 years of history using his Greg-0-matic Time Machine.

I wonder if I go back and read the old Newspapers from those times if they will now fit with the Greg-0-matic’s Newest Version of history. Does your time machine work that way Greg?

FACT: ALL of Hoover’s major policy legislation were passed in the later half of his third year and fourth year… and then the economy started to improve.

Ken October 19, 2011 at 11:28 am

muirgeo,

Your “fact” isn’t much of a fact.

Regards,
Ken

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Wrong again, George! Ken beat me too it. Read his post below.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oops! See Ken’s post above.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm

George, your FACT is your typical prevarication. Ken’s post proves that Herbert Hoover was an active big government advocate during his term of office.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:29 am

LOL, Faux News. I win.

Yes, economic history is on my side, ignoranus.

You would never have survived 1 week in Mr. Roberts’ class.

I not only pity you and your family, but all of your hapless patients who come under your witless and highly unqualified “care.”

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:36 am
Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:37 am
Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:40 am
Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:41 am
Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:44 am

Nice posts, Mesa! But, these facts will just confuse a committed Idealogue like George.

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:45 am

I was looking for an exploding post, but couldn’t find one.

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:47 am

Don’t worry. George’s head is likely to explode from all the facts that you have provided.

Methinks1776 October 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

Committed? Yes. Ideologue? Any ideas that have penetrated the thick wall would have found an empty space. Since facts go to Muirdiot’s head to die, I doubt anything will explode. You may have noticed that scraps of cut n’ paste he’s picked up in various places are all square dancing with each other in his head. He seems to be collaring random ones and mushing them together to form a comment.

Fred October 19, 2011 at 7:55 am

George’s head is likely to explode from all the facts that you have provided.

Er, no?

He has to look at them and understand them before they will have any meaning.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

He fed you some gruel Greg? Liked it…did you?

Greg Webb October 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

George, you are rambling incoherently again.

muirgeo October 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

The key point of ALL your links is that … AS MY LINK SHOWED…. federal revenues as a percent of GDP is as low as it has been in 40 years….. Government size compared to GDP has NOT increased. It has shrunk to a 40 year low….HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT? Well… that’s a dumb question to ask a Wall Streeter because for now it’s worked out good for you guys. You own the government, the banks and the means of production… but I’m talking about how is it working out for people who actually do and make things of value for a living. HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT?

Mesa Econoguy October 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

LMAO

Sure, government size hasn’t increased, Dr. Stupid.

The only problem is, you haven’t accounted for millions of hidden ancillary bodies required to enact and support your moronic regulatory schemes, who are more likely to die than be fired:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-07-18-fderal-job-security_n.htm

So you’re exactly correct, except you’re not, and your head remains firmly shoved up your galactically ignorant ass.

John S October 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

Russ,
Your “problem” is that you are too humble. On one of your pod casts years ago, you talked about a president that complained about two-handed economists. They are two-handed because they present a solution, followed by the phrase, “on the other hand.” People are saying that you’re weak because you have two hands. I think that Krugman only has one. I find him to be incredibly pompous. He presents his solution as the right one and everyone else is wrong. Even when I agree with him, I want to punch him in the face.
Russ, I applaud you for being willing to admit that you don’t know everything and that you may be wrong and for thinking about the consequences of economic actions.
There are many possible solutions to a large scale economic problem. In fact, from a mathematical perspective, there are infinitely many solutions. I believe that if we had say a $5 trillion stimulus, that we would quickly recover from the current downturn. I also believe that the market, left to itself will heal just fine. There are pros and cons to each scenario. One may be better than the other. Which solution you choose is a function of how you weight the pros and cons.
Thank you for being a two-handed economist. You teach me how to think for myself, while Krugman tells me to think like him.

Yeti October 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

At the extreme, concentration of power in government has given the world a Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and any number of slightly less murderous despots. The four named alone are easily are responsible for the deaths of more than 100M people.

Even when benign, the only purposes of a bureaucracy seem to be to perpetuate and grow. They “manage” problems rather than solving them. See DEA or DoE or the Bureau of Indian affairs for examples. If bureaucracy is unchecked in the private sector the business fails. In the public Sector there is no pruning mechanism.

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