25 Oct 2011


Free Travel Advice, Krugman, MMT, Potpourri, private law, Rothbard, Shameless Self-Promotion 17 Comments

Lots of links have been piling up here…

* You know how Keynesians liked that one journal article showing that businesses were more worried about bad sales than regulations? Well, when a survey shows the exact opposite, they still take it as further evidence that the demand-side story is right. (Note that I’m not saying the Gallup poll is decisive, I’m just showing the Keynesians–or at least this particular guy–are doing heads-Maynard-wins, tails-Friedrich-loses with these surveys.)

* I’m a fair guy: I’ll give Paul Krugman this one, that indeed Paul Ryan appears to be talking nonsense in his critique of Obama. Ryan is simultaneously opposed to inaction on the deficit, as well as fiscal austerity. (It’s possible he means austerity through raising taxes, but I don’t know if we should strain that much to make sense of the quote.)

* A former CBO head apparently has yet to learn the wisdom of Modern Monetary Theory. Look at this quote (from a 2005 interview): “[The level of federal taxation] is always the second decision. The first one is how much are we going to spend. As I have said before, if you spend this much money, you can’t borrow it all.”

* In preparation for our debate, I tried to get Scott Sumner to elaborate on his position. In response he said, “You are confusing two completely separate issues. Inflation doesn’t matter at all, for any reason. Only output and NGDP matters. Any problem believed due to inflation, it actually due to something else.” Are we suuure we want to hand the Fed over to the brainchild of this man?

* There should be more articles on innovations in bathrooms. I may establish an X-Prize.

* A very interesting post in which Nick Rowe makes a brilliant mistake. (I’m in the comments.) Matt Yglesias makes the same mistake, less eloquently.

* If you’re going to have private law, make sure you get the prices right.

* Just in case the above story makes you proud of the US legal system, try this one.

* The sword of justice descends on Bryan Caplan’s mathematical skills.

* I explain Rothbard’s approach to pricing land.

* Matt Yglesias again repeats the bald Phillips Curve view of the economy, apparently unaware that oil prices steadily fell along with unemployment after the recessions in the early 1980s.

* Not sure if I already blogged this: More Free Advice for the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

* A prescient Sheldon Richman article on terrorism, from 1999. (A reader sent it, can’t remember who.)

* Lew Rockwell on the fascist threat.

* My talk in Canada. (BTW quick bit of Free Travel Advice: When you are flying internationally, you have to pick up your bags at customs and work them over to the airline counter in the other country. There was some confusion because I asked the Air Canada people, “Will this go straight through to my final destination?” and they said yes. What they meant was, it will go straight through, once I physically pick up my bag at the layover and carry it to the next flight. It was an inconceivable pain for me to get my bag–sitting at the baggage carousel–after I had gone through the customs checkpoint. Like, it took an hour for me to have someone manually escort me back onto US “soil” and get it. Had to book a different flight.)

* Now TSA is stopping random people on TN highways. You’ll never get me, guys. I blend in with the indigenous people. I have a perfect American accent.

* A new website devoted to economic freedom, with a short video.

17 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    There’s only one way to travel into and out of Canada, the car ferry from Marine CIty, Michigan to Sombra, Ontario. On 9/14/01 when the main bridges had a 3 day waiting line, there was no trouble even during rush hour.


    But I suppose that probably isn’t too practical a method if you are traveling to Nunavut.

  2. marris says:

    > You know how Keynesians liked that one journal article showing that businesses were more worried about bad sales than regulations? Well, when a survey shows the exact opposite, they still take it as further evidence that the demand-side story is right.

    Hmm.. I wonder if these surveys _can_ capture the “structure of production” data that Austrians care about. Suppose the structure is indeed the problem, and we had some oracle which could tell us whether a given business should or should not go under [Yeah, yeah, there may be many possible sustainable structures and some “social welfare” analysis is required to pick one over another. For now, let’s just assume we want to hit some sustainable structure, the oracle knows one, and it can guide us to it.]

    The oracle will tell you that business A should survive and business B should fail.

    But if you asked the owner of business B what “the problem” is, he would say that consumer demand [at least for his product] is too low. So the survey gives you exactly the opposite feedback that you “care about.”

  3. jjoxman says:

    Did you fly into Toronto? My condolences if so.

  4. jjoxman says:

    Oh my. I don’t know if they still do it, because I avoid Toronto airport like the plague, but a couple of years ago if you were flying internationally out of Canada you would go through customs in Toronto instead of the arrival point. This extended wait times (arrival to boarding) by at least 3 hours.

    Other logistical problems exist because of the piecemeal way it’s been built over the years. All things equal, I prefer flying into Montreal (Dorval).

    • jjoxman says:

      Meant as a reply to Bob.

      P.S. Isn’t the problem with Nick Rowe’s discussion of ABCT that he doesn’t take recalculation seriously in the sense that it takes time to move the capital around? And some capital is so specific it is not useful for anything but it’s previous usage (e.g. I don’t use my log splitter for anything but… splitting logs.)

  5. Desolation Jones says:

    You sure you’re not confusing Adam Ozimek for Karl Smith? This is really the first time I’ve seen him talk about a macro issue. Not sure how much he identifies himself as a Keynesian.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I’m sure I’m not confusing him; that’s why I said “this guy.” I guess you can be a proponent of demand-side explanations and not be called a Keynesian, but that’s how a lot of self-described Keynesians seem to use the term.

  6. JimS says:

    Dr. Bob;

    I am unsure what you see as the problem with the inmate getting an additional 5 years for the cell phone?

    Do you think no one should ever be locked up? He did throw someone from a car and later stab another, resulting in his original sentencing. Certainly you do not think these are excusable? He violated another law and was likewise sentenced. I would say, the guards that are aiding this need to suffer as well. Perhaps you may not fathom how amazingly nasty some of these guys are. I would agree that it is often a fine line between cop and bad guy, I might even concede between bad bad badder guy, but the vast majority of the guys behind bars are there for good reason.



    • Dan says:

      The vast majority are there for victimless crimes like taking or selling drugs.

      • JimS says:

        Hey Dan:

        I do not buy the victimless thing. I am in Northern Cal and these are not nice guys. It isn’t as if things were legal tomorrow they would somehow be compliant and line up to pay taxes and join the chamber of commerce. They kill each other, those that come across their activities and their grows. They essentially seize property and its use from those who rightfully possess and seek to intimidate and take. They are theives and murderers, not legitimate business men who got a bum rap. It is most unlikely were their product legal they would cease their other illegal activities.


        • Dan says:

          First, I don’t see paying taxes as a moral thing to do. I think it is a necessity to prevent the violent criminals in government costumes from kidnapping me and throwing me in a cage or killing me.

          Second, the chamber of commerce is a worthless government agency that should be abolished.

          Third, I don’t think you understand what victimless means. Murder, theft, rape, etc. is not a victimless crime. As an ancap I find the current prison system offensive and think there are better ways to deal with violent criminals but that has nothing to do with the point I made. The majority of people rotting in those hell holes called prisons have never been convicted of violence against another, thus the term victimless crime. You might be scared of these so-called criminals and think they must all be committing murder and theft but the majority of these people don’t fit in the box you’re painting them in.

          Also nobody claimed that ending prohibition of drugs would make all men angels but it would have the same effect as ending prohibition of alcohol. So unless you want to make the argument that alcohol should be made illegal again since making it legal didn’t end all crime then I don’t see your point.

          Lastly, I live in SoCal, though I’m not sure why where we live has any relevance, and I’ve know plenty of people who sell and do drugs. The ones I’ve known are nice people. They go to work, pay their bills, and don’t commit acts of violence towards others. I know there are violent drug dealers out there, obviously, but what does that have to with the nonviolent ones who rot in the same prisons?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      JimS, just look at your comment to me. You start out by asking what the problem is with a guy getting 5 years for using a cell phone, and then focus on what got him in prison in the first place.

      If you think this guy should be in prison for throwing someone from a car, OK fine, we can debate that. I am a pacifist but I “get” that. What is insane is telling a guy he is going home, then changing your mind because he called his family to tell them.

  7. JimS says:

    Thanks for your response.

    My point is, he’s in for a legit reason, does something that extnds his time, again legit to extend his sentence, and then violates another law, possessing contraband. I really don’t have a problem with that. The cell phone wasn’t the only means for him to contact his family.

    I am curious, is there anything, in your opinion, according to your philosophy, that should result in hard prison time? I understand that you would not endorse a death sentence and probably would not resist this joker trying to throw you or yours from a moving vehicle or stabbing you, but do you think others should be limited in their response to violence?

    Thanks again.


    • Dan says:

      Oh yeah, totally legit to extend a sentence five years for using a cell phone. I think we are being a bunch of pansies for not executing this vial cell phone abuser.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      JimS wrote:

      I am curious, is there anything, in your opinion, according to your philosophy, that should result in hard prison time? I understand that you would not endorse a death sentence and probably would not resist this joker trying to throw you or yours from a moving vehicle or stabbing you, but do you think others should be limited in their response to violence?

      Jim, two things:

      (1) I think you have the wrong idea about how I conduct myself in my personal life. I can’t imagine ever being in a situation where I’m in a car with someone who decides it’s a good idea to throw me from it. And, if I were, it would have to be a pretty strong guy to do it. I wouldn’t feel right pulling back and punching him in the face, but I don’t have a problem wrapping my arms around him etc. So for this to even happen, I’d have to be (a) in a car with a 200 lb guy who decided he would rather eject me than keep me in the vehicle and (b) in a car with a driver who didn’t pull over even when he saw me struggling with said guy for 5 seconds.

      (2) I am not naive. I know most other people in society right now don’t share my views on violence. So I can, as an economist, walk through and explain what I think (say) a private legal system would look like. There would (at least initially) be prisons etc. (If you haven’t heard me talk about this, try this lecture.) I talk about my views in the hopes of convincing others, but when you say “should [others] be limited in their response to violence” I obviously don’t think they should be punished violently for their use of violence–that would be a contradiction on my part. And if I heard that my friend used a shotgun to scare away a home invader, I would still be his friend, etc.

      • JimS says:

        Dear Dr. Bob:

        I really do appreciate your position and empathize with the libertarian position, though many seem to actually lean more toward an anarchical position.

        I manage ranches. This evening, while riding, I confronted a gentleman (I use the term loosely) who was about to dump trash on the corner of the property. I approached him and didn’t even say anything when he said I had better consider if this trash was worth my life. I was a bit surprised but not at all swayed. I half laughingly responded that perhaps that was a question he should ask himself. Another car approached and he bid a hasty retreat, though he did drive by a few more times. He told me he liked me as he left, though it did not make me feel very warm.

        Such incidents cause me to consider what actions are appropriate. I never approach anyone aggressively in these situations. Standing by while he dumped trash that would cost us money and time to remove didn’t seem right; that woud seem almost like servitude. I do not think this person would have appreciated or yielded to a more passive response or action. I called the sheriff to report the activity as well as my neighbors.

        I have difficulty in seeing a problem with the neighbors in concert with the state (I.e. the sheriff) acting in force against people like this or worse. I have been to rural areas where the citizenry does little and the problems escalate to terrifying proportions. I do see the problem with policing agengies acting as strong arm for the state or simply harrassing the citizenry for fines and fees to support the state, but I am rather certain that without them the situation would quickly devolve into a “B” western scenario of ranchers fighting bad guys, and wealthy ranchers eventually wielding force against smaller operations until Alan Ladd came to our rescue.

        So when I encounter these individuals and their ilk or read about them getting time in the pen (I would admit 5 years is a bit harsh for a cell, but he clearly knew the rules), I really have little sympathy. Yes, Christ taught us to forgive, he cautioned us about judgement, but he also admonished us to sin no more. I really think those intent on sinning should be seperated from society and I do not think it is un-Christian to do so.

        By the way, have you seen the movie “OF Gods and Men”? It is about a French monestary in Algeria and their non-violent confrontation with Muslim fighters. I think it would very much appeal to you. It is foreign with subtitles and has many long scenes typical of foreign flicks, but I think you would admire their strength and conviction and appreciate some of the doubt and confrontation they experience among themselves and within themselves. A quality film.

        Thanks again. I appreciate you letting me post though I am not always in lock step with everyone here. There are so many in tolerant sites out there.