01 Jun 2013

Counterfactuals to the Keynesian Rescue, Once Again

Krugman 46 Comments

On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that Neil Irwin is at least dealing with the cognitive dissonance that the blogging Keynesians have set up for themselves, with respect to the allegedly slam-dunk empirical evidence against “austerity.” He writes:

This is the U.S. economy in a nutshell, as revealed in Tuesday’s news ticker: Housing prices rose faster over the past year than they have in the past seven. Consumer confidence hit its highest level in five years. The stock market rallied another 0.9 percent to hover near an all-time high, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500. And the national retail price of gasoline has fallen for six days straight and is down 16 cents a gallon since late February, providing nice relief to drivers.

Which all raises an obvious question: Whatever happened to the austerity economy?

Later he writes something that you would never read from Krugman:

[T]he direct evidence that tighter fiscal policy is damaging growth is scarce, so far at least; study the internal details of major economic reports, and even if you squint you don’t see a lot of concrete evidence of the squeeze.

But never fear, kids, Irwin does provide an escape hatch:

So was the impact of tighter fiscal policy oversold? Not necessarily; the models used by both private forecasters and independent agencies like the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve which show a significant economic drag from tighter fiscal policy do not necessarily imply a precise timing or the exact channels through which that drag will take place. It’s an exercise in counterfactuals, and what is happening now is essentially the reverse of what happened in 2009. Then, the economy contracted significantly even amid fiscal stimulus, with models concluding that the contraction would have been worse in its absence. Now, the economy is performing well even with higher taxes and spending cuts, suggesting that growth might be even stronger otherwise.

In case you aren’t seeing how funny the above is, here’s what’s going on:

==> When the passage of the Obama “stimulus” package coincided with the economy falling off a cliff, the Keynesians said, “Oh wow, good thing we passed that! The economy is even worse than we realized!”

==> When the implementation of “austerity” coincided with an economy improving according to the standard metrics, the Keynesians said, “Phew! We got lucky! The economy was doing a lot better than we realized.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with counterfactuals; they are in fact the only way to couch economic principles. It would just be nice if some of the more prominent Keynesian bloggers stopped running victory laps and claiming they have a monopoly on empirical support for their policy recommendations. No, they really don’t.

46 Responses to “Counterfactuals to the Keynesian Rescue, Once Again”

  1. Lord Keynes says:

    If the government cut taxes sharply and just maintained current spending with a deficit, is Bob Murphy even willing to grant that this would add to consumption and investment spending? Does he even grant that?

    By implying that stimulus never works at all, he sounds like a Chicago school New Classical with a rational expectations model, not even an Austrian.

    • Tel says:

      The deficit requires someone to lend the money, this person must (in the short term) produce more than they consume so they can lend their surplus to the government. In the long term however, the creditors intend to get the bond back with interest and thus consume more than they produce.

      The stimulus effect comes from the credulity of people believing they work hard today and get paid back tomorrow. Everything else is merely elaborate smoke and mirrors to obscure that basic deal. You might be able to beat Say’s Law for a while, but you can’t beat it forever. The more often you use this trick, the weaker the effect, because people learn.

      • Lord Keynes says:

        “The deficit requires someone to lend the money, this person must (in the short term) produce more than they consume so they can lend their surplus to the government..”

        You make no sense. In money terms, the person is saving money and most people/institutions lending money to government would be doing so anyone, because their money tends to be spend on financial assets, not consumption or investment.

        • Tel says:

          They are saving money, which means they are producing more than they consume. Government can only run deficits while there are people happy to do this.

          The other choice for government is to print money and fund the deficit that way, which sooner or later causes other problems.

          • Lord Keynes says:

            No doubt businesses in general don’t increase output, investment, and employment in response to increases in demand. No doubt there is no such thing as elasticity of production!

            • Sam Grove says:

              “No doubt businesses in general don’t increase output, investment, and employment in response to increases in demand.”

              No doubt they only do so when they have a reasonable expectation of profiting from their investment, but if hiring more employees may be seen as an undefined liability (ACA), perhaps businesses won’t be so keen to take the risk.

            • Peter says:

              They may, or they may not. They can also raise prices, i would think.
              What I don’t understand is what your response has to do with the point that Tel was making. Where do the “increases in demand” come from, for example. If dotgov steals more of our money (through taxation or inflation), how can we be expected to demand more? Or do mean by increase in demand the increase in the government’s demand for my property? And this affects our prosperity in a positive way how?

              • Lord Keynes says:

                (1) Where do the “increases in demand” come from? Either

                (a) extra investment or consumption spending from extra money spend in a stimulus via the multiplier.

                (b) extra spending extra investment or consumption spending induced by greater demand or increased employment in (a).
                ———

                (2) Government normally issues bonds bought voluntarily by the private sector to cover deficits. That isn’t theft.

                QE or direct monetarisation of a deficit
                involves no bond issues, but presumably you will complain about inflation.

                Yet even that complaint is gross exaggerated, for in modern economies fixprice markets predominated, in which prices are generally inflexible to short term demand changes.

              • Peter says:

                Lord Keynes;
                Thanks for the reply. I admire your confidence in central planning. Personally, I am not so sure. I am still unclear about a few things (As you may be able to tell, I am not an economist, just a guy trying to make sense of things). So if I may indulge:
                a) what do you mean by “the multiplier”? Is this some sort of mathematical formula? If so, can you provide a good link as to how you calculate this? How does it work?
                b) Which markets in your view do you consider to be “fixprice”? Energy? Food? Commodities? Real estate? DJIA? Do you mean to say fixed price in terms of gold? Or Federal Reserve Notes? Or in aggregate perhaps? I don’t observe these fixprice markets, at least not in FRN terms, although I can see that in highly competitive free (lightly or unregulated) markets, price increases are hard to establish. But we don’t seem to have many of those left. Most markets are highly regulated and as a result run by cartels (education, insurance, pharma, finance,food, energy, telecomm, transportation), and they don’t seem to have any issue raising prices.

                I was also taught that government is a consumer (or destroyer) of wealth, and is unable to produce it. Out of that follows (in my logic anyway), that if we want to produce more wealth (so we can consume more), we would want to direct our scarce resources away from the entities that tend to destroy or consume it. For example, I’d rather invest in a combine (so I can produce more food with it and I would be less hungry) than an F22 Raptor (Which, although very cool, can only be used to destroy things).
                I am not sure how investing in an M1 Abrams tank makes us any wealthier.
                I do however understand how a new combine can “multiply” the output of a farm. The ROI on the combine may be considered as “multiplier” in that case? If so, how does that work for an M1 Abrams tank (Would that be considered to be a negative multiplier).
                By the way, I am familiar with the broken window fallacy, so please don’t insult my (meager) intelligence that by destroying stuff we get wealthier (although melting an M1 Abrams and turning it in a combine may be the exception, hmm, note to self :-)

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Glad you agree that you were clueless regarding the deficit.

              [Hint: Topic switch]

        • Matt Tanous says:

          “their money tends to be spend on financial assets, not consumption or investment”

          Financial assets such as what? Stocks? Bonds? These are all forms of investment spending.

          If taxes are reduced so I keep my money, but government borrows money to maintain current spending levels, then they have to obtain this money from people who otherwise would have:

          (a) saved it in the bank, allowing banks to lend it to businesses
          (b) purchased stocks, bonds, or other investments that directly increased the money available to businesses for investment, or
          (c) would have spent the money on consumer goods.

          There can only be a net increase should the supply of money increase, and that increase leads only to the malinvestment that will create another crash.

          • Lord Keynes says:

            “Financial assets such as what? Stocks? Bonds? These are all forms of investment spending.”

            Spending on financial assets on secondary financial asset markets does not constitute capital goods investment.

            (a) saved it in the bank, allowing banks to lend it to businesses

            Not necessarily, demand for capital goods credit can be depressed or stagnant in a recession. Therefore extra government spending $for$ here will stimulate.

            (b) purchased stocks, bonds, or other investments that directly increased the money available to businesses for investment, or

            If these are on secondary financial asset markets, then no capital goods investment per se results. Again, extra government spending $for$ here will stimulate.

            (c) would have spent the money on consumer goods
            Only in this case would there be more or less zero stimulus.

            But the money supply is endogenous anyway, so that as more demand from stimulus drives more capital goods investment via credit, more money is created.

            “There can only be a net increase should the supply of money increase, and that increase leads only to the malinvestment that will create another crash”

            Not if ABCT is false, which it is.

            • Richie says:

              “Not if ABCT is false, which it is.”

              How do you know this?

              • Bob Roddis says:

                He knows this by purposefully and relentlessly distorting the concepts of economic calculation and the pricing process. He’s basically quite dishonest.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “If the government cut taxes sharply and just maintained current spending with a deficit, is Bob Murphy even willing to grant that this would add to consumption and investment spending? Does he even grant that?”

      Not if the central bank offsets this, such that the money supply and overall volume of spending are no greater than before.

      “By implying that stimulus never works at all, he sounds like a Chicago school New Classical with a rational expectations model, not even an Austrian.”

      Murphy didn’t say anything about this in this blogpost.

      Also, “works” according to what standard? Obviously not individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner, but rather the preferences of some individuals at the expense of other individuals.

    • Innocent says:

      LK,

      Of course ‘stimulus’ works but to what end. If I pay you an extra $10,000 today what will you have of value tomorrow? What if we give everyone in the United States $10,000 each right now, would not the GDP shoot upward like a rocket?

      This is the fallacy of Keynes. Stimulus works but you cannot use it for anything other than short term effect without damaging the economy in the long run. The issue is that we are no longer in a balanced economic condition ergo the restraint and fiscal realignment of ‘Austerity’ need take place. Which in the short term will have a negative or restraining effect on ‘economics’ but this is only due to the unbalanced approach we have had to date.

      Lets look at it like this. Pretend that all the money in the world flows into a huge Dam. Now imagine we are going through a drought, but we are trying to keep the level of the water high. We use Keynesian economics to tap water in artisan wells to push water into the dam. Our justification being of course in times of plenty the Dam will fill up naturally ( once everything is restored ). Yet we miss the fact that there is a price to be paid by using the Artisan well waters at a rate greater then they can sustain. We believe that the water deep within the confines of the Earth can never run out. Only to find one day that in fact they do.

      This is what happened to Greece. Europe has had a bit of a shock and is coming to terms with two major issues. First. Money does not grow on trees and second, that fiscal policy cannot be allowed to be its own major driving factor in monetary creation.

    • Blind Follow of Krugman says:

      Holy crap Keynestards are dumber than I thought. Let’s say Govt stopped collecting revenue. Totally. No taxes. And just ran deficits. #1, how long would they get funded for? We Americans would get really worried really fast, and realize they are either going to jack taxes back up on us in the near future, or they are going to print like the Weimar. So no. The problem with Keynestards is they think human beings don’t change their behavior.

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    “Now there’s nothing wrong with counterfactuals; they are in fact the only way to couch economic principles. It would just be nice if some of the more prominent Keynesian bloggers stopped running victory laps and claiming they have a monopoly on empirical support for their policy recommendations. No, they really don’t.”

    Bingo.

    The thing that happens so often is that Keynesians will observe history, carry along with them a particular theory to interpret that history, and then fallaciously claim that the theory they brought with them, somehow jumps out at the Keynesian observer all by itself, thus making them believe that they and only they have “evidence” for their theory.

    It’s truly remarkable to behold how often this happens.

  3. Edward says:

    “It’s truly remarkable to behold how often this happens.”

    Its also remarkable that most of the time, the Keynesians, or much more precisely, the Friedmanites, are right.
    I will concede, for the sake of argument, that the evidence is not “absolute” 100% on side or another, but it comes close,

    Friedmanites 50% of the time
    Keynesians 40%
    Austrians10%
    Rothbardian/Misean austrians .001 %

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Its also remarkable that most of the time, the Keynesians, or much more precisely, the Friedmanites, are right.”

      Except when they’re wrong, and when they’re right, they’re not the only ones right, and also when they’re right, it’s because their theory prevents them from being wrong empirically speaking.

      “I will concede, for the sake of argument, that the evidence is not “absolute” 100% on side or another, but it comes close,
      Friedmanites 50% of the time
      Keynesians 40%
      Austrians10%
      Rothbardian/Misean austrians .001 %”

      They’re all 100% empirically valid.

      But Rothbard and Misesian Austrians have never been theoretically refuted, and have refuted Keynesianism and Monetarism.

  4. Edward says:

    “Also, “works” according to what standard? Obviously not individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner, but rather the preferences of some individuals at the expense of other individuals.”

    Monetary Stimulus helps individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner. Hard money favors the interests of cash holders (not even creditors or bondholders, because the bonds they hold get worthless through defaults of borrowers) over everyone else.

    I will say it before and I’ll say it again: There is nor right whatsoever to a guaranteed return on your cash, which is what the obsessive fetishist advocates of hard money are advocating

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Monetary Stimulus helps individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner. Hard money favors the interests of cash holders (not even creditors or bondholders, because the bonds they hold get worthless through defaults of borrowers) over everyone else.”

      Soft money favors the opposite.

      “I will say it before and I’ll say it again: There is nor right whatsoever to a guaranteed return on your cash, which is what the obsessive fetishist advocates of hard money are advocating”

      There is no right whatsoever to a guaranteed loss on your cash through initiations of coercion against private property owners, which is what the obsessive fetishist advocates of soft money are preaching.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      A positive real return on cash is not guaranteed in a free market money system, but to the extent it happens, it is in no way exploitative, parasitic, or zero sum.

      For EVERYONE earns this return. Every single person who earns money earns a positive real return on cash.

      Neither you nor anyone else has any a priori right to initiate coercion to tax people in a specific currency, whilst inflating that currency for the benefit of oneself and one’s friends.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Monetary Stimulus helps individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner. ”

      No it doesn’t. Inflation benefits some at the expense of everyone else.

    • Tel says:

      There is nor right whatsoever to a guaranteed return on your cash, which is what the obsessive fetishist advocates of hard money are advocating

      Who advocates this?

      There’s no more hard money enthusiast than someone storing bars of gold, and such a person would hardly expect those gold bars to reproduce amongst themselves. All they are doing is holding an asset in the hope that it keeps value. All they ask for is not to be robbed of their asset.

    • Silas Barta says:

      Monetary Stimulus helps individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner

      Ohhh! That must be why it’s such an orgy of utility maximizing during hyperinflation, where everyone spends money the moment they earn it! It *couldnt* be that they’re only spending their earnings to avoid having them plundered by the government’s printing press! No sir, the fact that there were more trades than there otherwise would have been *proves* that people were having their subjective preferences satisfied!

      (Who wants to bet that Edward will start arguing that hyperinflation is unlikely, under the mistaken assumption that it would be irrelevant in defense of the broader proposition he just made? Cause I have had that exact exchange 50 times already…)

  5. Edward says:

    “Monetary Stimulus helps individual subjective preferences in a mutually beneficial manner. ”
    No it doesn’t. Inflation benefits some at the expense of everyone else”

    There is no right whatsoever to a guaranteed loss on your cash through initiations of coercion against private property owners, which is what the obsessive fetishist advocates of soft money are preaching.”

    There is no coercion here. Since purchasing power is an abstract relationship that your dollars have with other businesses prices. You can’t steal an amorphous relationship. The coercion is in legal tender laws, which in themselves are minor, and pale in comparison to other coercions the government does.

    “A positive real return on cash is not guaranteed in a free market money system, but to the extent it happens, it is in no way exploitative, parasitic, or zero sum.”

    “Is not guaranteed in a free market money system, “so you DO admit that some people will favor the less precious metals, like silver or copper, and areas of markets dominated by those monies will experience inflationary tendencies. To the extent that we have inflation now, all the Fed is doing is imitating to some degree what the market will provide.

    This is what convinced me that the classical gold standard was nonsense, and why Murray Rothbard advocating a 100% gold dollar was a fool

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “There is no coercion here.”

      Yes, there is. Coercion underlies the taxation in dollars only system, it underlies the effective banishment of all competition in money.

      “Since purchasing power is an abstract relationship that your dollars have with other businesses prices.”

      You’ve already been refuted on this point. You’re repeating the same claims over and over again.

      Nobody is claiming a “right” to real return on cash. Such a thing is a byproduct of the right to not be initiated with aggression in all walks of life, including money.

      If the coercion underlying the monetary system was removed, then the real return that people would likely get on their cash would not be the end goal sought after by those who want to eliminate or reduce coercion. It would be an icing on the cake.

      “You can’t steal an amorphous relationship.”

      Then you can’t claim people have a right to initiate coercion such that a small group of people with state authority, inflate and devalue money such that purchasing power falls.

      “The coercion is in legal tender laws, which in themselves are minor, and pale in comparison to other coercions the government does.”

      It’s still coercion, and it’s not minor. It is the fundamental cause for the business cycle, for millions of unemployed people, and lower standards of living.

      Removing such coercion will allow individuals to choose how they dispose of their property, without of course aggressing against others.

      If that results in a real return on cash, then it doesn’t matter how mad that makes you. It doesn’t matter if that means people can sit on their cash and live off the real return.

      “Is not guaranteed in a free market money system, “so you DO admit that some people will favor the less precious metals, like silver or copper, and areas of markets dominated by those monies will experience inflationary tendencies. To the extent that we have inflation now, all the Fed is doing is imitating to some degree what the market will provide.”

      I only “admit” that I cannot know, a priori, whether the production of real goods will outpace the production of money, such that prices fall over time, such that cash earns a real return, or if the production of money will outpace the production of real goods, such that prices rise over time, such that cash incurs a real loss.

      Whatever happens, is irrelevant to what is just.

      “This is what convinced me that the classical gold standard was nonsense, and why Murray Rothbard advocating a 100% gold dollar was a fool.”

      It doesn’t matter what fallacious reasoning you use to get to the conclusion you want.

      It’s not wrong to want to use gold, in a world of a free market in money. If someone wants to accept gold instead of paper, let them. Nobody has any right to violate that individual’s property.

      Let the market process decide what money becomes popular and what money does not.

  6. Edward says:

    “Who advocates this?
    There’s no more hard money enthusiast than someone storing bars of gold, and such a person would hardly expect those gold bars to reproduce amongst themselves. All they are doing is holding an asset in the hope that it keeps value. All they ask for is not to be robbed of their asset.”

    Advocates of hard money tend to like deflation which is falling prices. While I would agree 100% that deflation coming from a productivity surge is a great thing, (Because the rest of the economy is booming above the rate of deflation)deflation arises from a monetary collapse is a catastrophe. .
    The people who prosper from it hold their money in cash, and earn a “real” return through falling prices.

    Nobody is getting “robbed” when inflation is taking place, anymore than anybody is getting robbed by my metaphorical and facetious point about deflation. If the advocates that inflation is theft truly believe that it is, than they are conceding too much, because by logical necessity, they have to concede that deflation “robs” from spenders and borrowers to give to cash holders. BOTH notions of “robbery” are in fact nonsense. I’be tried to educate MF on this, but like a self-contradictory fanatical lunatic, he refuses to acknowledge that deflation would be theft according to his twisted logic if he carries his “inflation is theft” to its ultimate conclusion
    The notion of an monetary asset having stable value is a myth because it implies having the right to control what another person will do with their prices

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “There’s no more hard money enthusiast than someone storing bars of gold, and such a person would hardly expect those gold bars to reproduce amongst themselves. All they are doing is holding an asset in the hope that it keeps value. All they ask for is not to be robbed of their asset.”

      “Advocates of hard money tend to like deflation which is falling prices.”

      Advocates of hard money tend to be advocates of economic freedom. That’s why most like hard money.

      For me, I like economic freedom. The falling prices are desirable because they tend to be the result of free competition.

      “While I would agree 100% that deflation coming from a productivity surge is a great thing, (Because the rest of the economy is booming above the rate of deflation)deflation arises from a monetary collapse is a catastrophe. .”

      Not if such a decline is brought about by free competition.

      The reason why money spending would fall for Microsoft should they start producing bad software according to the market, i.e. Microsoft suffers “deflation”, is the same reason why money spending would fall for a city, or state, or country.

      There is no a priori right why money spending should never fall for an individual, or a group of individuals that you call a country.

      “Nobody is getting “robbed” when inflation is taking place, anymore than anybody is getting robbed by my metaphorical and facetious point about deflation.”

      Yes, they are getting robbed. They are getting robbed of the falling price induced increase in standard of living that they otherwise would have gotten, had the coercion underlying the monetary system not been present.

      The fact that the wealth loss is indirect, doesn’t make it not theft.

      “If the advocates that inflation is theft truly believe that it is, than they are conceding too much, because by logical necessity, they have to concede that deflation “robs” from spenders and borrowers to give to cash holders.”

      Not if such a phenomena is brought about by free, non-coercive activity!

      “BOTH notions of “robbery” are in fact nonsense.”

      False. Your premises are what are nonsense.

      “I’be tried to educate MF on this, but like a self-contradictory fanatical lunatic, he refuses to acknowledge that deflation would be theft according to his twisted logic if he carries his “inflation is theft” to its ultimate conclusion”

      You can’t educate someone who is educating you and intellectually superior to you.

      You can only make a fool of yourself.

      “The notion of an monetary asset having stable value is a myth because it implies having the right to control what another person will do with their prices”

      It’s not a right to stable prices. It is what tends to occur given property rights are respected.

      You’re setting up straw men left right and center.

      I am not claiming a right to falling prices. I am claiming a right to non-aggression, one of the many effects of which just so happens to include falling prices.

    • Tel says:

      Nobody is getting “robbed” when inflation is taking place, anymore than anybody is getting robbed by my metaphorical and facetious point about deflation.

      Well I guess that depends on the details. If I have bars of gold in the safe and I’m watching prices inflate in US dollars then no I’m not getting robbed in the least. If some government thug comes around with a gun, and demands my gold in exchange for paper that I didn’t want and which is devaluing rapidly then yeah, I just got robbed, no question about it.

      • Peter says:

        I’m just glad my great-grandfather saved in gold, rather than FRN’s (And ignored FDR’s demand to turn it in for $20 an ounce, and then turning around and set the new exchange to $35/ounce). Yeah, that was robbery.
        Inflation benefits those who get the new money first (i.e. before the prices go up). The rest gets robbed.

  7. Edward says:

    “I am not claiming a right to falling prices. I am claiming a right to non-aggression, one of the many effects of which just so happens to include falling prices.’

    It doesn’t necessarily include anything of the sort. And there are different forms of aggression, some more horrific than others. It would be fantastic if we could live in a ancap utopia it really would, with the NAP in full force. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, where we can eliminate all coercion. All we can do is minimize it., (which would be a goal I would be 100% in favor of.) But since utopias are not possible on earth, one of the things an un-pragmatic idealist ends up doing is making the perfect the enemy of the good, by overshooting on what is currently possible. And what they end up doing, in their willful blindness, ignorance, and utter stupidity, is destroying the very cause they claim to represent.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “It doesn’t necessarily include anything of the sort.”

      I didn’t say it “necessarily” included it. As I wrote above:

      “I only “admit” that I cannot know, a priori, whether the production of real goods will outpace the production of money, such that prices fall over time, such that cash earns a real return, or if the production of money will outpace the production of real goods, such that prices rise over time, such that cash incurs a real loss.”

      “Whatever happens, is irrelevant to what is just.”

      What I can say is that if people are not aggressed against, then the likely money of choice would be one whose production is habitually, but not always, outpaced by real goods production, such that prices fall.

      “And there are different forms of aggression, some more horrific than others.”

      Theft is justified because murdering someone is worse. Murdering someone is justified because genocide is worse.

      Look, I know how you thugs think. You believe that if you can point to something worse, either hypothetically, or empirically, that the violence you desire is somehow either justified in itself, or not worth the effort because “there are bigger fish to fry.”

      There is no loss in standing absolutely against initiations of force.

      “It would be fantastic if we could live in a ancap utopia it really would, with the NAP in full force. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, where we can eliminate all coercion.”

      Thanks to people like you who, contrary to your “it would be nice” rhetoric, constantly advocate for violence yourselves.

      “All we can do is minimize it., (which would be a goal I would be 100% in favor of.) But since utopias are not possible on earth, one of the things an un-pragmatic idealist ends up doing is making the perfect the enemy of the good, by overshooting on what is currently possible.”

      The perfect as the enemy of the good is a worn out and tired cliche, not only because it ignores that violence is a choice, not a law of nature, but the fact that we don’t need perfection to stop existing state violence in its various forms. It makes no sense to say yes, peace is superior, but then turn around and call for violence because the world isn’t perfect. It’s a non sequitur.

      “And what they end up doing, in their willful blindness, ignorance, and utter stupidity, is destroying the very cause they claim to represent.”

      Blah blah blah. You’re stupid, you’re ignorant, and you’re destroying the cause you claim to represent.

  8. Edward says:

    An example of this would be Cato the Younger opposing Caesar in the dawn of the monstrosity that was the roman empire. Caesar made an offer to the Senate, to avoid prosecution for the crimes he committed in Gaul, in exchange for giving up his military command and returning home. If Cato’s republican faction had been more pragmatic , they would have accepted the offer, and the republic might have been saved. But Cato was so fierce, so mindlessly absolute in his opposition to Caesar, that he convinced the other senators to keep opposing him. Cato ended up helping destroy the very cause he held dear by overshooting, and making the perfect the enemy of the good.
    Even Cicero said that Cato talked as if they lived in Plato’s Republic, rather than the Roman one

    • Major_Freedom says:

      There have been political philosophy texts written since ancient Rome, and better philosophical works written than the fascist manifesto “The Republic”.

      Try something more recent. One that doesn’t claim “Because we believe violence can never be eradicated, let’s advocate for more of it.”

    • Tel says:

      They would have lost their Republic either way. Either Caesar’s actions were a crime, and his punishment was due, or they were not a crime and that would have been the end of the matter.

      To have a criminal bargain with the Republic and make exchanges means everyone after that knows the law is no law at all. Every criminal would see himself as a man who makes bargains with the law, and the Republic would fade just as surely as a military takeover.

      Anyhow, Caesar died for his crimes, he paid the price one way or another. You can’t blame him for what the people who came after him did.

  9. Edward says:

    I’m not endorsing “the Republic” you fool, I’m trying to make a point. As usual, you missed it

    “The perfect as the enemy of the good is a worn out and tired cliche, not only because it ignores that violence is a choice, not a law of nature, but the fact that we don’t need perfection to stop existing state violence in its various forms. It makes no sense to say yes, peace is superior, but then turn around and call for violence because the world isn’t perfect. It’s a non sequitur.”

    It isn’t because you support protective coercion, to defend innocent people from aggressors.,and I support minuscule forms of preventative coercion, (like pulling someone out of the way of a moving vehicle to save his life) Each of us has certain exceptions to the rule of non-coercion. So it isn’t absolute.

    • Razer says:

      Yet again, Edward gets confused. Edward, what moral people oppose is the initiation of violence/coercion. You know, the very thing you so sadistically support. Restraining or defending oneself from this coercion/initiation of force is not something Libertarians (moral humans) oppose.

      In other words, when guys like you try to kill innocent humans, we don’t think the act of self defense is coercion. I’m not sure how much simpler I can make it. Please respond if this concept further confuses you. I already remember the confusion you had about what inflation is. I’m not sure if you’ve realized yet that it’s a monetary phenomenon, even though your idol has a very famous quote stating this, but I doubt you’ve even read the people you quote mine.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “I’m not endorsing “the Republic” you fool, I’m trying to make a point.”

      I didn’t say you were “endorsing” it.

      “It isn’t because you support protective coercion, to defend innocent people from aggressors.”

      Protective coercion is an oxymoron. You’re just playing with words.

      “and I support minuscule forms of preventative coercion, (like pulling someone out of the way of a moving vehicle to save his life)”

      This depends on the subjective preferences of the individual in question. This is a historical analysis, not an ethic. Depending on the ethic in question, your activity could be considered a violation.

      “Each of us has certain exceptions to the rule of non-coercion. So it isn’t absolute.”

      No, we don’t all have certain exceptions. Many of us do hold non-coercion as an absolute.

  10. Edward says:

    Tel, that’s what Cato thought, and he ended up committing suicide. You don’t understand. Caesar offered to GIVE UP his consulship, Pompey, Cicero, and Catos faction would have been in charge. The republic might have been saved. But because Cato was such a fool he didn’t recognize a major victory when he saw it, because he insisted on all or none, he lost everything when he convinced the other senators to Stand “firm”

    • Razer says:

      We get it. You support the lesser of two evils. Try to understand our position: we don’t support evil at all. Is it that hard to understand?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Are we not allowed to even analyze or critique the aggressive activities of those which lead to Cato choosing between the resulting alternative evils?

      It’s all his fault? The aggression was an act of nature, and Cato didn’t know how to deal with said nature?

      This is your problem, Edward. You ignore the aggression that lead to the uncomfortable choice to begin with, and you focus your ire and rage on the victims.

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