Ah, but it’s the poor man’s Krugman, Brad DeLong. (At this point I can’t be accountable for jokes at the expense of DeLong, since I can plead insanity in my defense. I couldn’t help it, guys. Voices are telling me to rip on him, honest.)
Anyway, I was foolish and decided to defend Sasha Volokh from DeLong’s psychoanalysis when it comes to libertarian rights theory. (Be careful to read my endnotes in the article; I’m not so sure I would be happy with Volokh’s views in general.) Specifically, Volokh said he thought it would be immoral to tax people, even to stop an asteroid that would destroy the earth.
DeLong then repeats his claims in a follow-up post, making sure I understand what he and the rest of economists think on the matter. (I actually learned about lexicographic preferences when I got my PhD in economics from NYU, but it’s good that he doesn’t assume anything on the part of the reader.)
I actually tried twice to clarify my position in the comments, but I’m prepared to move on with my life.
Sasha, if you want to buy a little Seasteading plot, where we can live free from DeLong’s astronomical tyranny, make me an offer.
UPDATE: Oh I forgot to mention: On three separate occasions I was sure someone was rushing to my defense in the comments at DeLong’s site. First up was Daniel Kuehn. “OK Daniel probably doesn’t agree with me, but he’ll at least tell DeLong to stop with the mere assertions and name-calling, and grapple with my arguments, right?” Nope: “Brad, Keynes had it right eighty years ago when he wrote of Hayek that he provided an “example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end up in Bedlam”.”
Then I saw Jonathan Catalan, who posts at Mises.org all the time. Surely he would come to my aid! Nope: “Second, and this is in support of Professor DeLong’s overall point, the obvious argument against Dr. Murphy is, “Do you seriously believe that people will oppose spending on the construction of a device that could potentially protect the human race?”” (No Jonathan I don’t. That’s why you don’t need taxes to fund the project. Apparently DeLong et al. think there might be a serious possibility of such opposition, and that’s why they want to make darned sure we have the option of taxation at our disposal.)
Finally, I saw Alex Tabarrok. OK here we go, at last, someone who will say, “Stop the lynching! Let’s at least address some of the various points Murphy raised in the article!” Well, not quite: “You will be happy to know that in our textbook Tyler and I use blowing up asteroids as our primary example of a public good.”
Hmmph, I see how it is. Sasha, call me.