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Any Principle Here?

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Tom Palmer understandably takes issue with Jonathan Chait’s and Matt Yglesias’s criticisms of my Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy [2].  But as I reflect on a principle that these bloggers inadvertently point to in their attacks on Vero, I find myself to be potentially in agreement with them.

Chait and Yglesias each suggest that a person from France (in this case, Veronique) has no business criticizing a policy proposed by an American (in this case, Barney Frank).  And surely these bloggers are each standing on some principle — rather than on pure expediency or ad hominem-ism — to justify their position.

So what might that principle be?  One possibility is this: mind your own business (“MYOB”).

The very same principle that sparks Chait and Yglesias to object to someone from France butting her nose into the business of someone from America might — if Chait and Yglesias were to reflect seriously on their reactions to Vero — also prompt Chait and Yglesias to object to someone from Massachusetts butting his nose into the business of someone from Virginia.  The healthy implication here, of course, is that Barney Frank should mind the business of his own state and not that of other states.

But principles being principles, the implication of the MYOB principle runs even more deeply.

The MYOB principle goes all the way to telling Barney Frank to, well, mind his own business.  Mr. Frank, for example, isn’t a Boudreaux — so what business does Mr. Frank have in presuming to pass judgment on how I spend my income or live my life?  Even another Boudreaux isn’t Donald Joseph Boudreaux, now residing in Fairfax, Virginia, so it’s quite intolerable that any other Boudreaux might presume to have any authority to butt into my business.


Of course, I’m certain that Chait and Yglesias somehow manage, in their own minds, to justify a Massachusetts Frank butting into the affairs of a Virginia Boudreaux (and also into the affairs of countless others). But, then, I must join in the criticisms offered by Tom Palmer to ask Chait and Yglesias: on what grounds do you justify your criticism of Veronique de Rugy commenting on policies proposed by Barney Frank?