Brad DeLong thinks Mario Rizzo is a “psychopath” (actual quote) for recommending that people don’t tip NYC cab drivers; DeLong recommends (obviously tongue in cheek) strip-searching “these people” (by which he means Austrians, I think, and not Italians) whenever visiting one’s house. Brad DeLong also thinks I’m nuts for saying that it would be immoral for the government to take money from people against their will and use it to fund the destruction of a killer asteroid. Daniel Kuehn agrees with both points.
At first, I was going to make a quick blog post about the oddity of this stance. Rizzo is recommending something that is not actually theft, but at worst is really uncool. But DeLong and Kuehn are so horrified at ripping off NYC cab drivers–regardless of what other injustices Rizzo thinks he would thereby be protesting–that it’s fine to label Rizzo a psychopath for such views.
On the other hand, taking money from millions of people with the ultimate sanction of putting them in cages if they refuse–by hypothesis, these people don’t want to hand the money over voluntarily–in order to destroy an asteroid is so obviously a fine thing to do, that DeLong and Kuehn call me nuts for objecting to it. (Technically, DeLong calls me “unbalanced” while Kuehn uses the term “nuts.”)
As I say, the above dichotomy doesn’t interest me. I don’t care what an odd view of property rights and ethical views that it entails.
Rather, here is what I want to think about: Suppose Brad DeLong had the opportunity to stiff a NYC cab driver, and use the money saved in order to spare the planet from a killer asteroid?