A few more notes on the wheel of politics

People sure are picky about terminology.  I didn’t realize that so many would be offended by calling politicians “corrupt,” if they voted for policies that hurt the country because it would help them get re-elected.  OK, so let’s re-label, and also drop terms like ‘idealistic’ and ‘dogmatic,’ which also caused confusion.  I’ll re-label the dogmatic libertarians as the ‘principled’ libertarians.  I think pragmatism is also principled, but I’ll let the other side have the prettier term:

                                                    Progressives

-

-

Special interest Democrats                                              Pragmatic Libertarians

-

-

Special interest Republicans                                            Principled libertarians

-

-

                                                Conservatives

Is everyone happy now?  In response to the six issues that I discussed in my previous post, Adam Ozimek made this observation: 

The missing piece of this puzzle is that the intellectual agreement on these issues isn’t just the opposite of real world politician’s, but the opposite of the rest of the real world. At the average dinner table in this country, anyone advocating what Sumner might call the intellectual consensus on any of these issues would face a lot of disagreement, and would frequently be greeted by surprise that a reasonable person would ever dream of advocating for, say, for more immigration or less occupational licensing.  The problem is that you can pretty much go right down this list and point out the biases from The Myth of the Rational Voter that will tilt public opinion towards bad policies. The median voter is as important of an obstacle on these issue as interest group influence on politicians, and unfortunately the median voter’s belief’s are a much more intractable problem.

 I’m not sure I agree with this.  I was under the impression that the public was far out in front of the politicians on some of these issues:

1.  Didn’t medical marijuana laws come from referenda, and weren’t even Democratic politicians like Clinton opposed?  Didn’t almost all major elected Democrats oppose the California initiative to legalize pot, which got a sizable number of votes?

2.  I’ve mentioned the idea of a flat tax at least 100 times in ordinary conversation, to all sorts of people.  That sort of tax would involve low rates and no deductions.  I don’t recall a single person who opposed the idea, if I amended it to allow some progressivity.  (Republicans like the flat tax with no deductions, Dems like the idea of a somewhat progressive system with no deductions.)  Try finding a politician who supports eliminating all deductions.

3.  Reduce occupational licensure?  Suppose I propose that interior designers and florists did not have to have a license.  Would the public be terrified of getting ugly bouquets?  How about hair braiders?  Funeral casket makers?  Do people fear the health risks of dangerous caskets?   

I do think Adam is partly right.  The public has mixed feelings about legal immigration, they oppose legalizing hard drugs, they oppose removing occupational licenses for doctors and other health and safety-oriented job categories.  They probably haven’t given much thought to zoning rules on density.  But I wouldn’t assume that the populist side always wins.  Rent control was removed in Massachusetts by referendum.  Washington state voters recently rejected an income tax that would only fall on the rich.  Both states are left-of-center.  When voters focus on an issue and hear arguments they can be swayed by reason.  I seem to recall that voters were against NAFTA until Gore debated Perot on national TV.  After hearing the debate the polls swung in favor of NAFTA, and the proposal was enacted.

Sometimes proponents of voter irrationality cite opposition to economic reforms that are painful in the short run but beneficial in the long run.  But things are often more complicated than they seem.  Voters may make a “meta-decision,” like joining the EU, knowing full well that EU rules will force many markets to open, and jobs to be lost.  Eastern European voters grumble about the specific policies, but vote to become a modern market-oriented economy, as they see the affluence of Western Europe.

Slightly off-topic, but I recall reading a bunch of posts that expressed amusement or exasperation that the public opposed Medicare cuts, etc, and yet wanted to balance the budget without tax increases. I don’t agree with any of the posts I read, as I think they are completely misconstruing what those polls show.   I recall about 20 years ago reading of a poll that asked the public how much the government should increase Medicare spending each year.  There were many choices, zero to two percent, two to four percent, all the way up to more than 10%. I seem to recall only a very small percentage of public wanted to increase spending by more than 8%.  At the time, President Bush (elder) was proposing something like an 8% increase.  So his proposal was more than almost anyone wanted to spend on Medicare, yet the news reporters were able to point to other polls showing wide opposition to “cuts” in Medicare, meaning the program might have gone up 10% or 12% without those cuts.  So which was true, did almost everyone think Bush was spending too much on Medicare, or did people overwhelmingly oppose his “cuts?”  As with the “true” rate of inflation, or the “true” rate of economic growth, there is no “fact of the matter.”  There is no such thing as “public opinion.”  The public isn’t well enough informed to offer an intelligent opinion on that issue.  People have strong views on abortion, gun control, the war in Iraq, etc.  They delegate to politicians the job of providing as many services as possible at the lowest tax rates possible.  Polls on the minutia of government are completely meaningless.  People say they want less spent on foreign aid.  But if you ask what percentage we should spend, it’s more than we spend.  Which is correct?

I’ve gotten far afield from Ozimek’s post, which is mostly correct.  But some intellectuals probably assume that the average voter is dumber and more populist than they actually are.  Well-designed political systems (Switzerland) will elicit more intelligent public opinion than poorly designed political systems (India.)  I’d guess that Indian voters who immigrate to Switzerland make very intelligent political decisions in their new country.

PS.  Robin Hanson wonders why philanthropists don’t make an effort to inform the public on these issues.  Didn’t Soros spend money on the drug legalization push?

Update:  Dilip just sent me a post by Steve Landsburg that also comments on this issue.


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33 Responses to “A few more notes on the wheel of politics”

  1. Gravatar of Indy Indy
    17. February 2011 at 07:20

    I still think the multi-dimensional method is better approach to create an abstract political space in which you can try to find someone’s preferences, trade-offs, and behaviors. It’s also more “Sub specie aeternitatis” and allows us to compare very different people from diverse times, nations, and contexts.

    In one of my Econometrics classes we discussed the notion of optimal heuristic metrics. If you measure as much as you can concerning the politics of your study population and do the regression analysis, you’ll find some patterns and clusterings and cross-correlations.

    What it allows you to do is to create “aggregation variables” that tend to be a decent (say, 90%) proxy for a host of others that tend to go together. The analysis allows you to “simplify”, that is, reduce the number of proxy variables to the minimum sufficient to accurately “locate” most of the population as being somewhere along a particular dimension. The proxy variables could be identified as more abstract human tendencies. It seems you’ve focused on positive v. normative, practical v. doctrinaire, principle-focused-behavior vs winning-elections-focused-behavior. That’s sort of what the Nolan chart does, though, I think it’s too simplistic in two dimensions. We should try to make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.

    I think you could probably describe most present-day Americans with maybe four or five abstract dimensions, and probably most people historically with six or seven. That doesn’t make for good graphics, I know, no one wants to see “The Hypercube of Politics”, but there’s a lot of potential for biased and self-serving mischief when one oversimplifies politics in a graphic like this – for example – in that Nolan chart.

  2. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    17. February 2011 at 07:31

    Indy, All simplifications involve trade-offs. Only time will tell if this proves useful. I don’t believe there is any one right way to do this, rather the question is whether a particular way of organizing the data can help illuminate certain issues. I tried to discuss some issues that I thought it did help illuminate (in the previous post.)

  3. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    17. February 2011 at 08:46

    In my ongoing effort to get Scott to change his blog and general technology habits, to all readers:

    Go click on the ads. Then come back. You don’t want to this daily, but every other day or so.

    Perhaps if he sees a spike in revenue he’ll implement Disqus, start using Twitter, and get himself a cell phone.

    —–

    The important point to remember about ideology vs. special interests is that there is a very easy method of short circuiting those groups and those pleas – but it entails:

    1. Creating a policy idealists claim they’ll like.
    2. Describing it in terms special interests can’t argue with.

    Neither is easy, but it is always doable.

    A great example is the recent battle on Obamacare. The left was beside themselves to accomplish a single payer, public option.

    I support this endeavor, largely because I want them to STFU, and leave the high tech market driven insurance system alone so it can involve into HSA/PPO.

    As such, the correct idealist policy is what I like to Soup Kitchen Care.

    First, instead of Obama saying, “you can keep your care if you like,” he would say this:

    “First, let me assure all of the haves out there, the 80% who have $10K a year per man insurance, that under no circumstances will the have-nots, be given anything as good as what you are getting. Trust me here, if you can afford the good stuff, you probably are going to want to stick with it.”

    Then Michael Moore would publicly admit that Cuba’s healthcare while better than nothing for those at the bottom, is not as good as system the haves get now.

    With that out of the way, the policy proposal would be called Soup kitchen Care, it would be modeled on the VA, which costs $5.5K per man per year and is quite popular.

    As such SKC would be $4K per man per year on global budget:

    1. salaried doctors.
    2. you are a number, no choice of doctor, no choice of treatment.
    3. electronic records.
    4. means tested / premium priced – so that everyone who wants to can free ride (without insurance), but if you get sick and earn $X per year on a schedule, you will be billed at premium prices – and wage garnished by the IRS – effectively self insuring yourself.

    Say what you want about the policy itself; the important thing here is that the left could have gotten their nose in the tent, but to do so they would have had to make one giant sacrifice:

    They’d be admitting that the haves DESERVE better. Which is a obvious thing that everyone at the kitchen table would shrug and nod about, after all beggars can’t be choosers, but we do have a Christian obligation to help.

    So the more nastily the policy is described by the left, the more acceptable it becomes.

    On immigration policy, the trick is pick a single city like Detroit and demagogue it with a brutal horse traded policy:

    1. Total School Choice.
    2. Massive college loan program but only for math and science programs at colleges INSIDE Detroit proper.
    3. Green cards to anyone who can earn 2x wages and buys a house.

    The idea being that America will see Detroit as what happens to a city when it no longer is allowed to to handle itself, so the more brutal the policy, the more they will accept radical testbed thinking.

    But to the avg Detroit local, 1-3 is basically all good news. They are far enough in the hole, that they already half way there.

    But we COULD get a radical testbed, something that makes one small $ concession on #2, but generally turns Detroit into a model of what we want in a number of idealist policies.

    And since we are confident that the real wins will be #1 and #3, if #2 works, well ok – and if it fails, we have another data point.

  4. Gravatar of dirk dirk
    17. February 2011 at 09:50

    “But some intellectuals probably assume that the average voter is dumber and more populist than they actually are.”

    I think there is a bifurcation if we distinguish between the average voter and the average political fan. I use political fan in the same sense as football fan. As political debate has become more a form of entertainment, there is a lot more educated stupidity in society. Those who do not frequently watch or listen to political shows are probably politically wiser than those who do. The problem is that the proliferation of those shows — on the right and left — which heighten emotion and stifle thought, has made the average person stupider about political issues than they otherwise would be.

  5. Gravatar of OGT OGT
    17. February 2011 at 10:35

    OT:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/02/16/it-looks-like-the-bank-of-england-is-targeting-nominal-gdp/

  6. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    17. February 2011 at 10:56

    Meanwhile, back home (for Scott) there’s a real test of theory:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/us/17wisconsin.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=wisonsin%20protests&st=cse

    —————-quote—————
    “To the average citizen — to middle class, working class families — they’re paying a whole lot more right now,” Mr. Walker said. As recently as Wednesday morning, Mr. Walker spoke with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio — to “commiserate” a bit, he said.

    “Obviously there is a lot of protest out there, but in the end, it’s the right thing to do,” Mr. Walker said, adding, “We didn’t get elected to worry about the politics.”

    Lawmakers here were expected to vote on the issue by week’s end. Into the evening on Wednesday, there was talk that lawmakers might amend the plan, perhaps to restore some union bargaining rights.

    But many predicted that the outlines of Mr. Walker’s proposal might survive votes in the Assembly and Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans.

    Still, some lawmakers here appeared rattled by the crowds cramming the building.
    ———————endquote—————–

    And, I love that the Times refers to ‘Mr. Walker’ throughout. Even in the sentence including ‘Gov. John Kasich of Ohio’.

  7. Gravatar of Jason Jason
    17. February 2011 at 11:12

    Regarding your three points, I think these are areas where there is a status quo bias as well as a vocal, organized interest in keeping the status quo (well, in two of the cases). The anti-market bias and make-work bias from The Myth also enter into it.

    The licensing organizations would lobby Congress if anything was proposed, and the tax industry wouldn’t like a flat tax. I also think that people say they are in favor of a flat tax, but balk at the particulars. I’m not sure that compromise between the flat tax and the slightly progressive flat tax exists — part of the allure of the flat tax is that it is regressive even though people don’t put it that way (and believe they are standing on a principle of simplicity rather than putting a higher effective burden on the poor).

    For the other, Democrats are afraid to seem like hippies (either pot-smoking and/or peace and love) and parents & old people were the primary demographics opposed to legalization. And conservatives are generally against anything that signals that they may be less conservative. (And I mean signals — it doesn’t actually have to be less conservative.)

  8. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    17. February 2011 at 11:34

    Scott,
    It occurs to me that what you call “pragmatic libertarians” and I would call “consequentialist libertarians” and what you call “principled libertarians” I would call “deontological libertarians”. (Your labeling is just fine, as mine is probably too philosophical.)

    Consequentialist libertarians believe that political and economic liberty lead to the best consequences in the form of happiness and prosperity, and for that reason alone it should be supported. In its most extreme form, deontological libertarianism believes that all acts of initiation of force and fraud should be opposed because they are always immoral regardless of the effects of engaging in them.

    Sasha Volokh has a recent post that underscores why I am a consequentialist libertarian. In it he claims that it is immoral to tax people to blow up an asteroid that threatens the earth with utter destruction. As I understand his argument, the asteroid has no moral intentions, and therefore is not violating anyone’s rights when it incinerates all of mankind:

    http://volokh.com/2011/02/15/asteroid-defense-and-libertarianism/

    I, for one, would like it if the government taxed me in order to defend me from an asteroid, regardless of the asteroid’s ultimate moral intentions. I base this simply on the grounds that asteroid defense is nonrival and nonexcludable, and hence is a public good.

    Philosopher Jonathan Wolff criticizes deontological libertarianism as incoherent, writing that it is incapable of explaining why harm suffered by the losers in economic competition does not violate the principle of self-ownership, and that its advocates must “dishonestly smuggle” consequentialist arguments into their reasoning to justify the institution of the free market.

    All ethical systems are both deontological and consequentialist in nature, since they all require a rule for motivation and an outcome measure for implementation. The biggest difference between consequential libertarians and deontological libertarians is that there is no such thing as a “pure” consequentialist libertarian (the very notion is absurd). Through their dogged pursuit of self-consistency and ideological purity deontological libertarians like Sasha are just making themselves look silly.

  9. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    17. February 2011 at 12:08

    As with the most depraved Kant, Mark, the beauty to me here is that strict adherence to moral righteousness simply allows you to know when you do wrong for the right reason.

    Without actually forgiving yourself for the sin, you do not need to worry about losing your anchor points.

    Let’s say I have no moral obligation to help others.

    “Morgan press this button and save the world from an asteroid”

    And sure I may just wish to save myself, I don’t have to love anyone else to press the button.

    But say, I hate everyone so much that I don’t care if I die, just to enjoy seeing them all get it.

    In that instance, you can cogently argue:

    1. you have no right to compel me to press the button.
    2. anything you do to me to make me press the button is morally wrong.

    And after you have forced me to do it, and I am thus harmed, you can owe me for violating my rights. And yet still the button does get pushed, the world does get saved.

    And we simply say, in order to save the world, Mark committed a tragic sin against Morgan.

    —-

    Why do we do that? Because:

    1. We do not know for sure the asteroid is happening in day to day life.

    2. We have naturally expressed a system to date by which there have not been many asteroids.

    3. In every other possible instance, we prefer to remind everyone that they do not owe innately, and they are no owed innately.

    ——

    Notice this is EXACTLY Hillary Clinton’s argument for why we outlaw torture.

    Because if there is a case where we go ahead and torture (ticking time bomb) then we can still BLAME the torturer, even while we say after the fact, “as there was a ticking time bomb, the terrorist was tortured in contravention of the law.”

    The over-riding issue is that pre-analyzing the moral absolute, leads to far more instances of Morgan being forced into things when someone sees a bird in the sky and scream, “asteroid!”

    The human mind can withstand cognitive dissonance in philosophy in order protect the individual from society.

    After all, I’m not even sure you people exist – why should my good dream be turned into a nightmare simply because someone else in my dream claims their dream sucks.

  10. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    17. February 2011 at 12:37

    This just in:

    “In a strong rebuke of President Obama and his domestic agenda, all 242 House Republicans voted Wednesday to repeal the Asteroid Destruction and American Preservation Act, which was signed into law last year to destroy the immense asteroid currently hurtling toward Earth.”

    “According to political pundits, the showdown over whether to let the asteroid blast a 150-mile-wide, 20-mile-deep crater in the Earth’s crust represents a potential turning point for the nation, and could completely reshape the American political landscape for many centuries to come.”

    “If efforts to destroy the asteroid are successfully overturned, then there will be major ramifications for both Obama and his Republican opposition, as well as the American populace at large,” political scientist Alan Abramowitz said on Face The Nation Sunday. “This could have a huge impact come 2012.”‘

    “While I recognize that intelligent minds may disagree on this issue, I believe we have an obligation to prevent our citizens from having their flesh seared off in a global firestorm that transforms our planet into a broiling molten wasteland,” Obama added. “I think Americans deserve better.”

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/republicans-vote-to-repeal-obamabacked-bill-that-w,19025/

  11. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    17. February 2011 at 15:01

    Morgan, I certainly like 1 and 3.

    Dirk, I agree.

    OGT, Yes, I saw that a few days ago and plan a post.

    Patrick, Good. I’m no fan of teachers unions.

    Jason, You said;

    “people say they are in favor of a flat tax, but balk at the particulars”

    That hasn’t been my experience. Most people I talk to like much lower rates in exchange for no loopholes. Spend 5 minutes doing taxes each year.

    I agree with the rest of your post, and see it as supporting my view that politicians of both parties are corrupt, oops, special interest-oriented.

    Mark, That’s right, but I figured not everyone knew what deontological meant. On the other hand all my readers are above average. :)

  12. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    17. February 2011 at 15:33

    “I, for one, would like it if the government taxed me in order to defend me from an asteroid, regardless of the asteroid’s ultimate moral intentions. I base this simply on the grounds that asteroid defense is nonrival and nonexcludable, and hence is a public good.”

    Mark,

    Couldn’t a deontological libertarian argue that if most people value their lives, they’d be willing to contribute sufficient revenue to such a project voluntarily?

    Charitable contributions in the United States are $300 billion despite trillions worth of taxes levied, and despite that most all of the benefit of such charity goes to other people.

    Consider if the Onion story were true, and the Asteroid Destruction and American Preservation Act was in fact blocked by crazy Republicans. Do you think people would shrug and just let the inevitable occur, or do you think that various organizations would work on a crash program to deflect the asteroid? I’d bet that you could get $100 billion from the richest 25 people in the world alone without much trouble – the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation isn’t going to be funding anything if the asteroid issue isn’t solved.

    “Philosopher Jonathan Wolff criticizes deontological libertarianism as incoherent, writing that it is incapable of explaining why harm suffered by the losers in economic competition does not violate the principle of self-ownership, and that its advocates must “dishonestly smuggle” consequentialist arguments into their reasoning to justify the institution of the free market.”

    How are losers in economic competition having their rights infringed? You still own yourself even if you lose a job or your business goes under.

  13. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    17. February 2011 at 18:38

    Justin,
    You wrote:
    “Couldn’t a deontological libertarian argue that if most people value their lives, they’d be willing to contribute sufficient revenue to such a project voluntarily?”

    They can make that argument, and they do, but I don’t buy it any more than I can imagine passing around the collection plate for a strictly voluntary national defense.

    And you wrote:
    “How are losers in economic competition having their rights infringed? You still own yourself even if you lose a job or your business goes under.”

    I gather you embed an acceptance of free competition into the foundational rights of self-ownership. This is a convenient assumption adopted by most deontological libertarians (actually it’s borrowed from consequentialist libertarians, but whatever).

    So let’s take the argument to the next logical step (a la Wolff). Suppose I obtain a monopoly in a market by the free application of my own efforts. Suppose I am able to prevent entry to the market because of my ability to price lower than anyone else. Furthermore suppose this monopoly is economically inefficient from a welfare standpoint, and that it is not pareto optimal, so that at least some people are worse off (i.e. I am doing them harm). What is your opinion of that?

  14. Gravatar of JG JG
    18. February 2011 at 05:20

    Yes, Soros funded the 1996 ballot initiative in CA, and funds some US NGOs working on the issue. He also funds lots of harm reduction NGOs internationally. I believe he is starting a new US-focused drug policy reform push this year.

  15. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    18. February 2011 at 05:34

    @Mark

    the asteroid has no moral intentions, and therefore is not violating anyone’s rights when it incinerates all of mankind

    If you’re hiking in the woods and encounter a hungry bear, this argument would say you should acquiesce in becoming his lunch. In other words, it’s plain stupid. But stupidity often results when you take abstract principles too seriously.

  16. Gravatar of OGT OGT
    18. February 2011 at 06:35

    Sumner on the BOE, I hope you’ll further discuss the idea of having a secret target. Given the roll all economists give to expectations in AD, it seems weird and undermining to the bank’s own target.

  17. Gravatar of Rien Huizer Rien Huizer
    18. February 2011 at 07:15

    Indy,

    This looks like a good idea. Rather than take “political philosophies” that may or may not shape/drive/legitimize/inform etc political activities by voters and elected, it would be more interesting to have a properly researched map of items that count (say “issues” or “controversies” or “biases”. Those philosophies are sometimes labeled by opponents with reference to their own set of important items. (Take the famous “neoliberal” from neomarxist jargon; no “neoliberal” would designate himself so).

    However, there is value in some taxonomy of political economy that could be used to categorize policy without the propaganda and rthetoric that often used to camouflage actions of tribe A that belong to tribe B’s policy repertoire. But for that purpose this diagram may be used in the US but is clearly insufficient (however you label things) for Europe.

  18. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    18. February 2011 at 08:23

    “They can make that argument, and they do, but I don’t buy it any more than I can imagine passing around the collection plate for a strictly voluntary national defense.”

    Mark,

    You really don’t think Americans (or all humans, for that matter) would voluntarily give enough money to fund an asteroid deflection project? Or provide sufficient funding for national defense? I would be shocked if America wouldn’t voluntarily contribute twice as much funding for defense as any European power.

    “I gather you embed an acceptance of free competition into the foundational rights of self-ownership. This is a convenient assumption adopted by most deontological libertarians (actually it’s borrowed from consequentialist libertarians, but whatever).”

    How is it borrowed from consequentialist libertarians? I don’t see how deontological libertarianism precludes the abililty of other individuals to freely interact with each other. That’s all economic competition really is.

    “Furthermore suppose this monopoly is economically inefficient from a welfare standpoint, and that it is not pareto optimal, so that at least some people are worse off (i.e. I am doing them harm). What is your opinion of that?”

    Monopolies appear very hard to sustain in practice, but granting this assumption I don’t think it is a problem for deontological libertarians. After all, deontological libertarians aren’t concerned with consequences – it doesn’t matter that the outcome is economically inefficient.

    A business owner might be economically worse off by the emergence of a monopoly in his industry, but all that is really going on is that other people no longer want to trade with him. People want to trade with the monopoly provider instead. What right is being violated? I think Wolff is embedding a positive right into the equation (to economic success, or mild economic competition, something of that nature).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m pragmatic enough to be happy with the consequentialist libertarians. I’d be thrilled if Gary Johnson was President in 2013, and/or if Scott and Bill Woolsey were on the FOMC. I find the deotolongical arguments interesting, and useful in cases when the consequences of a specific policy are under dispute, but I doubt their principles will ever be widely applied.

  19. Gravatar of R. Kevin Hill R. Kevin Hill
    18. February 2011 at 12:39

    I think the “pragmatic” vs. “corrupt” distinction is better understood as a distinction between a causal understanding of the most desirable state of affairs given certain assumptions about goals, versus a causal understanding about political process (what you actually have to do to get there). Which means that For Scott, “pragmatic” means “in a perfect world” and “corrupt” means “the practicalities of getting there” which is, pejorative connotations aside, odd. More here:

    http://poseidonian.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/who-am-i-who-are-you/

  20. Gravatar of sp6r=underrated sp6r=underrated
    18. February 2011 at 14:10

    Scott

    What is your response to Chait comment:

    “First, it defines completely out of existence people with pro-government economic views and conservative social views, which are a vastly largely share of the electorate than libertarians or even vaguely libertarian-ish folk, but simply lack any intellectual infrastructure or funding base. “

  21. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    18. February 2011 at 15:44

    sp6r=underrated,
    Chait wrote:
    “Libertarians obviously love it.”

    Yes we love it. We Libertarians love a good donneybrook when splitting hairs. Thanks to Sumner’s wheel he’s made that more possible than ever.

    But seriously, it’s nice to have someone recognize for once we’re not at all monolithic, that as individuals we really value our individuality. Go figure.

  22. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    18. February 2011 at 16:08

    It occurs to me that some may not know the link:

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/83776/the-hexagon-ideology

  23. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    18. February 2011 at 17:49

    Mark, again I get that you want to talk about taxing at the group level for your good cause, I still think you can solve the moral issue by thinking about it as force against one.

    Example: you set up a voluntary fund and you also tax people, the tax is morally wrong, so you pay them back after the fact – to keep the philosophical ledger clean.

    Interesting question then: Slavery reparations.

  24. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    18. February 2011 at 18:08

    Morgan,
    Who’s the one? Who do you think I’m aiming at?

  25. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    18. February 2011 at 19:11

    Thanks JG.

    OGT, I plan a post.

    Kevin, No that’s not really what I mean. Pragmatic means doing what works in a utilitarian sense, as opposed to automatically following some principle. Corrupt means doing things that help you but make society as a whole worse off. BTW, everyone is at least slightly corrupt, it’s a matter of degree.

    sp6r, Yes, I agree with that Chait quotation, and was primarily interested in what I consider economic issues (i.e. ignoring religion/abortion/gay marriage.) I do consider drugs and immigration to be economic issues.

  26. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    18. February 2011 at 20:46

    Scott,
    How about a separate post on zoning laws. I agree with all the other stuff, but I’m kind of in the Nimby camp on zoning. Would like to hear your views.

  27. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    19. February 2011 at 11:00

    Mark taxing society for a coming Asteroid is just like grabbing my finger and forcing me to press the the stop the asteroid button.

    In both situations, we can hold your use of force immoral. And in both situation we can make the taxpayers or me whole.

    Saving the world doesn’t have to be moral.

  28. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    19. February 2011 at 11:22

    Morgan,
    You wrote:
    “In both situations, we can hold your use of force immoral. And in both situation we can make the taxpayers or me whole.

    Saving the world doesn’t have to be moral.”

    You can hold my use of force (“Press the !@#$%^&*! button Morgan, or I’ll whack you one!”) as immoral on the basis of a rule. On the basis of the outcome saving the world is the moral choice. A true system of ethics takes both into account.

    Obviously you’re trying to reconcile the two. But it’s still not clear to me how you intend to do this.

  29. Gravatar of Doc Merlin Doc Merlin
    19. February 2011 at 11:58

    @Mark A. Sadowski

    “But seriously, it’s nice to have someone recognize for once we’re not at all monolithic, that as individuals we really value our individuality. Go figure.”

    There’s always been splits. Look at all the shades and splits in among Ancaps for an example.

    Individualists of the world disunite!

  30. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    19. February 2011 at 12:10

    Doc,
    You wrote:
    “Individualists of the world disunite!”

    That reminds me of something:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQqq3e03EBQ

  31. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    19. February 2011 at 15:36

    dtoh, I don’t think I know enough to do a zoning post. My instincts are for less zoning, more density.

  32. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    19. February 2011 at 17:40

    Why? Aesthetic? Economic?

  33. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    20. February 2011 at 09:13

    dtoh, Both. Paris is the densest city in the world.

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