Please Will, please tell me whether I should be outraged

. . . or give you applause.

I recently argued that pragmatic libertarians (like me) can talk to hardcore libertarians, and to progressives, but just not at the same time.  Most of my non-monetary posts upset one side or the other.  But what happens when you do a post and it’s not clear who’s ox is being gored?  To see the consternation, read the comment section from this Will Wilkinson post.

It’s almost like some people can’t make up their mind whether Will said something brilliant and incisive, or insensitive and insulting, until Will tells them whether his cryptic message was buttressing their preconceived opinions, or ridiculing them.

He said what he said, it’s up to us to figure out what it means for our cherished beliefs.

PS.  No offense to his commenters, they are some of the best.



12 Responses to “Please Will, please tell me whether I should be outraged”

  1. Gravatar of aretae aretae
    20. February 2011 at 13:35


  2. Gravatar of Indy Indy
    20. February 2011 at 14:15

    Yeah, sometimes that happens when you’re obnoxiousness, irony, snark, inside-joke, and sarcasm knobs are all permanently stuck on 11. W2 is the Spinal Tap of bloggers in so many ways.

  3. Gravatar of Doc Merlin Doc Merlin
    20. February 2011 at 14:24

    Rofl, wow Will’s post is hilarious.

  4. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    20. February 2011 at 18:13

    aretae, Indy, Doc, I’m not so interested in the post (although I like the post) as I am in the reaction of commenters.

  5. Gravatar of Rien Huizer Rien Huizer
    20. February 2011 at 21:41


    Tobe precise, are you interested in the reaction of your commenters on WW’s commenters?

    I see mainly people who question the Wisconsin governor’s sincerity. Is that interesting or funny? I guess the Governor has picked a fight that he can win and that is all one can expect from a professional politician. Democratic politics in with pluralist electoral systems (like in the US) have been shown to have a “pro rich” bias..But it always helps to clothe one’s argument in benevolence. Is that pragmatic?

    Of course someone has to do something about the outrageously large burden on the non- or not-to-be educated caused by all those collectively bargaining overpaid educators. Good to see someone in Wisconsin trying to starve the Beast. If you cut taxes, they cannot be wasted, right?

  6. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    21. February 2011 at 16:59

    Rien, I’m not so much interested in the issues you mentioned, as I am by the varying ways that people interpreted Will’s message. Some saw it as basically a left wing attack on the GOP. Others as a right wing attack on the public employee unions. To me it seemed like a sort of liberaltarian critique of everyone.

  7. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    21. February 2011 at 17:01

    BTW, It’s not obvious the US has pro-rich bias. I believe our tax system is more progressive than most European countries.

  8. Gravatar of Kyle Hernome Kyle Hernome
    21. February 2011 at 20:02

    Will’s post was pretty humorous, so I would have to lean towards giving him applause. Its funny how communication can get lost in translation between different parties.

    22. February 2011 at 08:17

    What’s not clear?

  10. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    22. February 2011 at 20:21

    Kyle, I agree.

    Greg, What’s interesting is that the commenters couldn’t decide whether Will’s post was aimed at the GOP or the unions.

  11. Gravatar of Max Max
    25. February 2011 at 09:52

    I am new to this blog, and enjoying it, but have been reading Will Wilkinson some time.

    Wilkinson’s is a very clever post, in its way, and each reaction and comment reveals to whom we think this section refers:

    “No. Whatever happened to the idea that we’re in it together? Huh? Whatever happened to love for our fellow man?”

    Will Wilkinson is deliberately opaque here…who is not loving his fellow man and seeing us in it together? Who is being selfish, who is demanding to be first at the hated trough? Is the it the unions jumping in front of hungry children? Or middle class taxpayers shifting a disproportionate burden onto the rich? Hungry children remain blameless, but in a world of limited resources, what level of hunger is going to have to be tolerated in order for the ideal small government state to remain shiny and perfect?

    My response is predictable.

    And persistent, sorry. I put this comment up at Will Wilkinson’s site just now — before realizing I was 4 days too late.

  12. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    26. February 2011 at 11:21

    Thanks Max.

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