Giving more attention than is due (which is none) to the lamest form of argumentation – namely, the ad hominem and all of its relatives in which arguments are evaluated by the arguers’ (presumed) identities, (presumed) venal motives, or (presumed) blind allegiance to this or that ‘ideology’ rather than by the arguments’ logical coherence and conformity with facts – I link here to George Selgin’s latest blog post. In addition to making important points, it’s great good fun to read. A slice:
That others can be enthusiastic about this or that politician surprises me in the same way that it might surprise me to learn that there is such a thing as an official streptococcus fan club with a list of dues-paying members. And although I can’t claim never to have voted, I can at least say that I would hate to ever have to admit voting for any of the people I voted for. All things considered I’d much rather exercise what Herbert Spencer calls my “Right to Ignore the State.”
Many of the details differ, of course, but much of what George writes about his own history and motivations holds for me as well and, I dare say, for a great majority of my GMU colleagues.
Of course, all of us who publicly advocate greater reliance upon decentralized markets and less reliance upon centralized state diktats are frequent targets for those who are either too lazy or too stupid – or, perhaps, too interested in stirring up the thoughtless passions of their own ideological comrades – to bother with assessing our arguments on their merits. (Note: By no means, of course, is it the case that everyone who disagrees with market-oriented arguments relies upon such asinine argumentation.) Such ad hominem attacks are, for me, much more amusing than annoying. Indeed, in a very real way, such attacks are satisfying: they are a means by which the intellectually challenged self-identify themselves as such to all thinking people.
Before closing I can’t help but ask if those who worry about the unsavory influence of Koch money on the intellectual debate also worry about the effect of Koch money on the arts. David Koch, after all, is in the midst of contributing $100 million to the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center – a sum of money sufficiently large to have that theater now bear his name. Are patrons of, say, the New York City Ballet, whose home is the David H. Koch Theater, destined to see only performances dictated by David Koch’s tastes and desires?