26 Aug 2009

Potpourri

All Posts, Free Travel Advice No Comments

* Another Murphy joint op ed with Jason Clemens of PRI, on the state of California’s economy. (Warning: You will see a lot of teeth if you click the link.)

* David Hanson tells WorldNetDaily readers about the biggest threat to liberty, and it’s not socialized health care. (Hint: It’s a three-letter word that’s not good for much.)

* David Kramer links to this story that illustrates my view of government perfectly: Government is an institution that gets to do things that would be criminal if anybody else did them. In this case, UK police take things out of unlocked cars. Yeah sure, they give the stuff back when you claim it, but still, that is stealing. If you don’t think so, try implementing this program of “awareness raising” yourself, in your own neighborhood, and see what happens to you.

* David R. Henderson emailed me his own review [.pdf] of Jeff Madrick’s case for big government.

* You know what ThinkMarkets is missing? Some Bohm-Bawerkian price theory. Oh wait, no it isn’t.

26 Aug 2009

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

All Posts No Comments

In response to a Wonk Room hit piece on young people trying to make a change in the world for the better–and if that’s not a hit piece, I’m not sure what would be worthy of such a description–I was first going to use my rapier-like wit to issue a stinging rebuke. But then I counted to 500 and decided to go Rodney King on everybody. (Meaning “can’t we all get along,” not “I bet you pigs can’t catch me.”) Here are the last three paragraphs from my Kumbaya blog post:

Now that I’m preaching, let me generalize it a bit: Earlier I mocked Paul Krugman for actually claiming that senior citizens were rioting. But since then, I’ve come to realize that Krugman really doesn’t understand the people at these Town Hall meetings, or the tea parties. After all, Krugman doesn’t get goosebumps thinking about property rights or checks on government power. So when he sees a bunch of angry people mouthing such concerns, he is suspicious and thinks they’re either a bunch of racists or paid stooges of the health insurers.

So, by symmetry, I think people on “our side” should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren’t actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees. Don’t get me wrong, it is still perfectly consistent to think the elites in Washington are power-hungry liars. I’m just saying that, as ridiculous as Krugman’s paranoia over old people is, that’s how ridiculous some of our side’s rants against Obama fans must seem to people who know that they are really just trying to stem abuses they perceive in the health care system and so forth. They know they’re not socialists, just like we know “our guys” aren’t Nazis.

Ah, and the ultimate irony is that actual socialists (and the particular offshoot of Nazism) were real, and actually did seize control of governments and kill millions of people. Isn’t life funny.

The author of the original hit piece, Brad Johnson, cross-posted it at Grist, and then added an update in light of my own post. He drew an excerpt from what I’ve reproduced above. Here is how Brad presented the new development to Grist’s readers:

UPDATE: At Free Advice, Institute for Energy Research economist Bob Murphy writes that Paul Krugman doesn’t understand tea party protesters because he doesn’t care about checks on government power like they do, and continues:

So, by symmetry, I think people on “our side” should realize that the great masses of Americans who are for health care reform and climate legislation (and it pains me to not put scare quotes around those phrases) aren’t actually closet socialists who want to bring America to its knees.

Hmm, I’m not so sure that’s fully in context. (That’s what I told the IER CEO when his Google Alerts on “AEA” tipped him off and he emailed me saying, “Grist is linking to Free Advice.”)

I’m curious to see how many hits that Grist link draws in, though. If it’s pretty big, maybe I will go the Bruce Bartlett route. I see the light! Sure we can trust the DC politicians with saving the planet! They’ve done such a knock-up job on inner city poverty and Afghanistan.

NOTE: I am not accusing Brad Johnson of anything dishonest with his link to my post. I’m just saying, it was rather misleading.

25 Aug 2009

Please Proffer Preemptive Pardon

All Posts No Comments

I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile, but it’s especially relevant now, since I’m hitting the Mises Circle circuit starting this weekend.

I read all emails, and I catch most comments on blog posts, but I really don’t have the time to answer everything at this point. But if I tell you I will blog something, and then you don’t see it for a week, feel free to pester me. I have allowed more emails to run off the front page of my inbox, than most people get by 9 am (or something like that).

25 Aug 2009

Principled Leftists Realizing That Bush+Eloquence=Obama

All Posts No Comments

Bob Roddis sends this encouraging video. Remember back during the Bush years, kids, when those of you who think like me were so mad at being lumped in with the “conservative” nation-building, deficit-exploding, Big Brother Bush administration. Well by the same token, we should give credit where it’s due. There are a lot of leftists (whose preferred programs would be awful, don’t get me wrong) waking up to the truth about Barack Obama. The below video is very well done, because it weaves in campaign promises that Obama is now completely ignoring. Also, I love how the host calls him “such a charming liar.”

And she’s right, he is. It’s a very pleasant contrast to the cocksure lying of the last guy.

25 Aug 2009

Libertarian, Free-Market Blog "MarginalRevolution" In Support of White House Torture

All Posts No Comments

Yeah, their argument is that given that the feds are going to torture people to prevent American deaths–and really, can any libertarian be for American deaths? isn’t it unlibertarian to blow up a building?–then it makes sense to allow trained professionals, under the direct supervision of the Cabinet, carry out the electroshocks, waterboarding, and mock child-execution. After all, if you’re going to torture people, you want it to be in the open, with Hillary Clinton watching. You don’t want some CIA goon doing it in a foreign country.

Ha ha, fooled you! Alex and Tyler would never advance such an argument. No, the closest you’ll ever see is that in back-to-back posts, they support government bailouts of banks and government provision of health insurance. Man those guys are hardcore. It’s great that we’ve got free marketeers in higher education, to combat the socialism being peddled in our elite universities.

24 Aug 2009

Potpourri

All Posts, Free Travel Advice No Comments

You know, it would really make my life easier if all of you readers would get your brother to start reading. Then I could quit my day job and blog full time. As it is, I keep accumulating interesting tidbits until the width of each tab on Firefox bumps up against the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and I am forced to issue another “Potpurri”…

* David Gordon saw my debate with Jeff Madrick, and sent along his review of Madrick’s The Case for Big Government. Quick! Guess whether David liked the book.

* Robert Wenzel (who saw it on Mankiw’s blog) emailed me this pretty funny description of publishing a negative Comment. People often ask me if I miss academia. Skim the link and guess my answer. BTW, I had formed some opinions about the type of guy who would write such a thing. I figured he had to be tenured, probably very well published, and also a bit odd on a personal level. Here’s his homepage; you tell me.

* Yuri Maltsev actually lived under socialized medicine. No thanks.

* Scott Sumner proudly linked to this puzzle on opportunity cost, and explained that he (Scott) knew the “right” answer. But Scott, the answer is, cost is subjective and you can’t make interpersonal utility comparisons. It doesn’t make any freaking sense to ask how much something cost (in the opportunity cost sense) for Mary versus John. True cost isn’t even realized, as Buchanan showed. Somehow I don’t think that’s what our Benthamite friend Scott had in mind. (Fortunately he is in China and so can’t impose costs on me.) (And yes I know that you can’t “impose costs” on somebody else.)

* Does Arnold Kling know he’s an Austrian macroeconomist? Search your feelings, Arnold. You know it to be true. Join me, and together we will rule Jackson Hole.

* Not sure where to put your money? Stocks? Real estate? Gold coins? Postage stamps? I know, federally guaranteed green bonds! Woo hoo!

* Here’s a great example of how you can prove anything you want in economics/finance, in order to make your boss happy. Incidentally, when I get suspicious of the BLS’ inflation numbers, it’s not that I’m imagining the analyst grunts doctoring numbers. No, I think they know what the “official story” is, and they (perhaps subconsciously) make decisions on how to adjust for hedonic changes, how many years back to look when calibrating the seasonal adjustment, blah blah blah, so that the answer is what their bosses want. You don’t have to be pure evil to behave that way at work, and things (especially in economics/finance models) are so arbitrary that it doesn’t even feel like lying. You don’t view yourself as falsifying data, you rather view yourself as the hero who comes up with the best way to illustrate the story the team is working on. If you are shocked and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, then good for you. But I think anybody who has worked in an office knows what I mean.

24 Aug 2009

PIG to Capitalism Audio Online

All Posts 1 Comment

I’m thinking this isn’t legal, so if your conscience bothers you buy a copy of the book. But anyway I just came across this online reading of my book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism. If you have a colicky infant, I suggest playing this along with chirping birds. It soothes and educates at the same time.

24 Aug 2009

Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves the Back Door Open

All Posts No Comments

Earlier I was happy that Paul Krugman had “definitively” (you’ll understand the quotation marks in a sec) said we were in a recovery, since I am predicting that the economy is going to be in the toilet for years. Just to refresh our memories, here’s how Krugman opened his August 21 blog post: “Barara Kiviat asks, is this a recovery or isn’t it? The answer is yes.”

OK, that seems pretty definitive, right? For most people it would be, but not with our Nobel laureate. The very next day he wrote:

Reading comments, I see that some readers think that by saying that we may be in a recovery by the usual definition, even though jobs are still being lost, I’m either (a) shilling for Obama (b) radically changing my views.

Um, no.

And just to reinforce his claim now that we may be in a recovery, Krugman says today (August 24):

Judging from comments I’ve received, there’s still a lot of confusion about how it’s possible to be in economic purgatory, aka a jobless recession. Also, a lot of readers seem to think that by saying that the recession is probably over I’m somehow changing my position from a few weeks ago — when actually something like this is what I’ve been expecting all along.

No Dr. Krugman, I don’t think you’re changing your position from a few weeks ago. I think you changed your position from the previous day.