04 Aug 2016

Gary Johnson: “I’m neither Hillary nor Trump, please vote for me. The fewer questions you ask, the more attractive I am.”

Libertarianism 56 Comments

The more this guy talks, the more convinced I am that I made the right call. (I don’t vote, period–not for Ron Paul, not for anybody. But I mean, I have been trolling GJ on Facebook. And I regret nothing!)

Look kids, Gary Johnson is going to get destroyed in the Electoral College in November. So don’t tell me, “He’s so much better than Trump/Clinton!” That’s not the point. Do you send a job application to the Lakers because being an NBA player is so much better than your current job?

There are various justifications for libertarians concentrating their support on a “focal point,” notwithstanding imperfections. But at some point, surely you have to say, “This guy is way too mushy and incoherent for me to cast my meaningless vote upon.” Where do you draw the line? Suppose Johnson said, “I support the draft, but only for single men between the ages of 18-29”?

Thanks to Tho Bishop for grabbing this short clip (at my request).

01 Aug 2016

Is God a Tyrant?

Religious 36 Comments

That’s the question I will be tackling as a speaker at this weekend’s Libertarian Christians conference. Especially for you agnostic/atheist libertarians, can you give me your best arguments on this? Also, if you could give me quotes/citations to famous critics (like Hitchens) on this topic, that would be great.

28 Jul 2016

Contra Krugman: What Does the Stock Market Mean?

Contra Krugman 1 Comment

Tom and I respond to Krugman’s column on the stock market.

27 Jul 2016

Gene Callahan on Non-Human Actors

Deep Thoughts 81 Comments

In a post criticizing methodological individualism, Gene writes (and then quotes):

A plain fact that methodological individualism will block us from seeing or accepting:

“The facts authorize us — no, they oblige us! — to say that Islam as such, Islam understood as a meaningful whole, is in motion, that it strives and struggles, in a world [where] it is an actor on the stage of history that must be taken very seriously. Thus the world in which we must live and act is a world marked by the effort, the movement, the forward thrust of Islam.”

I think Gene’s position here is interesting to juxtapose with his earlier criticism of the notion of intelligent computers that could play chess better than humans:

They were, of course, built by human beings. When a grandmaster is “shredded” by a computer program, he is really being defeated by a team of programmers and chess experts who have a calculation machine at their disposal. Just because they don’t literally sit inside the machine, as a human being did inside the chess-playing Turk, does not mean that the machine has somehow mysteriously “become intelligent,” any more than a rabbit trap is intelligent because it “knows” how to catch a rabbit. Machines can be “intelligent” only in that they can be “intelligently built.”

I think this raises the obvious question: Can Islam as such play chess better than humans?


25 Jul 2016

Eugen Was Not PC

Humor 9 Comments

For the History of Economic Thought lecture on Bohm-Bawerk, I came across this passage that I remember reading in grad school:

How many an Indian tribe, with careless greed, has sold the land of its fathers, the source of its maintenance, to the pale faces for a couple of casks of “firewater”!

(I have no idea whether this is what it was in the original, or if the translator had some fun with it.)

25 Jul 2016

Do you value justice higher than mercy?

Religious 13 Comments

I took the Briggs-Meyer test (due to peer pressure). (I am not telling you my score because that’s what the narcissists do.)

The question in the subject is one that struck me as very interesting. (I think they should’ve said “more highly” than “higher”?)

I thought for a bit and then decided that no, I don’t value it more. That is not say that I think it’s okay to compromise on justice. But they are certainly different values–justice and mercy–and the question asked is one more important.

As a Christian, I now answer that no, but I bet I would’ve said yes back when I was an atheist. And, now as a Christian and being aware of this difference, I am going to say I was too unmerciful back then. It’s not that I am now in favor of injustice. No, the reason I changed is that I elevated the importance of mercy since becoming a Christian.

As always, Jesus provides the role model. His actions as portrayed in the gospel accounts were a brilliant display of superhuman justice and superhuman mercy. All of the characters in the gospel accounts ring true, except His: Jesus is an unbelievable character, not because of multiplying loaves and fishes, but because, “No man could have that depth of moral strength and compassion.”

22 Jul 2016

Why the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) Is a Dubious Tool for Policymakers

Shameless Self-Promotion 3 Comments

I don’t think I blogged this when it ran… my latest at IER.

22 Jul 2016

LMS: Are the Markets Signaling Confidence or Fear?

Lara-Murphy Show 7 Comments

In the latest episode of the Lara-Murphy Show, Carlos and I discuss the divergence in bond yields and stock prices, which has some Bloomberg analysts puzzled. Below is the chart that motivated the discussion.

Bonds vs Equities