19 Jul 2009

"Honey, Scott Sumner’s Coming Over; Hide the China!"

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Yesterday I sent Scott Sumner a goofy email, to the effect that he needed to blog more because he didn’t realize how much angst it caused me when he skipped a day. He warned me that I wouldn’t like his latest post. This is true:

I used to think that people deserved what they earned, but no longer. Now I think rich people should keep what they earn if and only if trying to take it away from them it will do more harm than good. In other words, I’ve gone from being a dogmatic libertarian who thought the Nordic model was bad, to being a pragmatic libertarian who thinks it’s worth considering. I lean towards Singapore’s slightly less egalitarian forced saving regime for many different pragmatic reasons. But if someone can convince me that Denmark’s undeniably successful social welfare system is better, I’d jump ship in a moment. As far as I am concerned the fact that “millions of individuals” have “chosen” to spend their money on Nicole Kidman films has no more normative implications than if a bag of Federal Reserve notes had fallen from an airplane into her front yard.

Seriously, does Scott really believe this? If so, then don’t let him into your house or watch your kids (he might sell them into slavery if his calculation comes out that way). And what’ with putting “chosen” in quotations marks, Scott? OK you don’t believe people really choose; they can’t help but throw money at the pretty girl, fine.

But more important, what’s with putting “millions of individuals” in quotation marks?! Presumably you still believe in numbers, so I take it that you now question whether individuals really exist?

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