Scott Sumner has a hilarious analysis of the New York Times’ views on filibusters over the years. Here’s Scott (and I’m not indenting it because it would get too confusing):
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PPS. Here’s the NYT endorsing the Senate’s filibuster vote:
In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. . . .
This vote was long overdue.
And here’s what the NYT said in 2005:
A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the “nuclear option” in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton’s early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it’s obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.
That’s right. During the Clinton Administration the NYT opposed the filibuster. When Bush took over they realized they’d made a horrible mistake, and that the filibuster actually was a wise policy. No, it was more than a wise policy:
But its existence goes to the center of the peculiar but effective form of government America cherishes.
And now that the Dems are back in power the NYT recognizes that they were right all along, and that their 2005 apology was misguided.
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So I think we can all appreciate the humor in the above. However, let me raise a concern: When we teach basic economic principles, Austrian economists often stress “methodological individualism” and may even use examples such as, “Japan bombed the United States” to illustrate sloppy thought and language. We stress that it is always individuals who act.
So, does that present a problem for Scott’s analysis above? In other words, before we chuckle, do we have to (at least) go make sure it’s the same group of people who wrote the three editorials in question?
What about more generally, if a libertarian wants to say something like, “You don’t think the USG would round up militia people and put them in detention camps because they’re threats? You know it locked up Japanese Americans during World War II, right?”
As with my ill-fated link to Pamela Stubbart’s comment, I’m not here “blowing up” standard Austro-libertarianism, I’m just pointing out what is at least (but perhaps at most) a surface tension in the typical discussion of certain topics.