26 Sep 2012


Economics, Foreign Policy, Krugman, Market Monetarism, Potpourri, Rothbard, Shameless Self-Promotion, Tom Woods, War on Terror 50 Comments

I’m almost giddy for tonight’s Potpourri. I don’t know if I’m in a good mood and see the creativity and courage out there in the blogosphere, or if my blogging peers are all having a good week. In any event, here goes:

==> Paul Krugman recently wrote that the US was doing pretty good during this crisis, thank you very much, and it was all because of the stimulus that Obama had delivered. I was going to flip out and cite chapter and verse of Krugman saying it was a dirty right-wing lie to say that Obama had grown government, that in fact we’ve had the worst austerity under Obama since the Huns revised library privileges etc., but Bob Wenzel made the point much better.

==> Tyler Cowen is as baffled by the TIPS market as I am. (HT2 the svelte von Pepe.) You know, a lot of people make fun of Tyler for never giving a straight answer. But, it occurs to me that maybe he just voices the inner doubts that most people bury.

==> Speaking of Tyler, he brings to our attention Glenn Greenwald’s discussion of a new NYU/Stanford study on the US drone war. Unfortunately I think this is the kind of thing where an opponent of drone warfare is going to be dazzled by all the information, while someone who supports the program is going to dismiss all of the “liberal whining.” Ah well.

==> Why am I suddenly linking to Tyler, you ask? Isn’t it illegal for Rothbardians to even visit MarginalRevolution? Am I really that hard-up for anti-drone-warfare bloggers that I’ll reach out? No, it’s that I’m hard-up for allies in the War Against Sumner. (Yes, I had toyed with jokes about Obama adding Sumner to the secret kill list, but none was in good taste.)

==> This guy at The Atlantic can’t bring himself to vote for Obama, even though he hates Romney. (HT2 Daniel Kuehn) Good for you, sir. If only more voters would draw a line for themselves. Hey Republican conservatives: Are you really confident in sending Mitt Romney to DC to roll-back ObamaCare? Does that really sound like a good plan?

==> How bad is Obama on foreign policy? Well, the United States and Afghanistan are having a diplomatic dispute because the Afghan constitutition doesn’t allow for the indefinite detention of prisoners, which is how our government handles these sorts of tough cases. People have cited this (Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, and probably others by now), but I encourage you to actually click through to the New York Times article itself. It is simply Orwellian.

==> Speaking of Obama the warhawk and Mitt Romney, David R. Henderson makes the case that Romney will lose because he is incredibly allowing Obama to pose as the peace candidate. Also, he quotes Clint Eastwood’s “empty chair” talk and it sounds like good stuff. (I never saw a second of it, but from the reactions I was hearing people were making it sound goofy.)

==> In lighter news, Brian LaSorsa takes the fight to Krugman.

==> Noah Smith puts more effort into making fun of the geeconosophere than even I do. He’s never finishing that PhD.

50 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Dan says:

    It’s your absence from Facebook that has you in a good mood.

  2. David R. Henderson says:

    I really do recommend watching, not just reading, the Clint speech. I found myself beaming with pleasure all through the next day as a result.

    • marris says:

      Definitely the best political speech of the whole presidential season.

  3. Blackadder says:

    It’s a pity Huntsman didn’t get the nomination. He ran precisely the sort of peace candidate campaign that David contemplates.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Yes, good old Huntsman, the one Republican in the field who would’ve brought the troops home.

      • Blackadder says:


        You’re right. There was also Gary Johnson.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          What is this, playing Harry Potter and not saying the name of he who shall not be named?

          • Bharat says:

            I heard Obama is a peace candidate. That’s what all those bumper stickers are telling me.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              That’s better.

          • Blackadder says:

            What is this, playing Harry Potter and not saying the name of he who shall not be named?

            Huh? What are you talking about?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        …for vacation.

  4. Adrian Gabriel says:

    Tyler Cowen still gets me as a huge statist. I will never forgive that statist for having attempted to pillory you and the Mises Institute for your high regards of Capital Theory at ISFLC 2011. This guy gets me confused sometimes. He reminds of an odd Selgin type. A guy that likes to cozy up to Austrianism in his own mainstream way. He loves keynesianism and that junk he learns about fractional reserve banking at your local university. He is part of the intelligentsia that get stuck in the vicious circle of contradiction on many topics, even if he posts some stuff that is decent and somewhat libertarian. That guy is a nut, and his love for monetarism and fractional reserve banking are psychotic.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Adrian, I’m genuinely curious: When you write paragraphs like the above, are you seething in anger, or are you chuckling with whimsy?

      • Adrian Gabriel says:

        the latter. because those statists don’t realize the circles they make in attempting to prove wrong another statist they think is different. Cowen, Selgin, White, Mankiw, Krugman, Sumner, De Long, Reich, Stiglitz…..they’re all one in the same attacking the same jargon and the same theories.

    • skylien says:


      If I read rants as yours I can understand why others think libertarians and Austrians are nuts…

      I do think this stems from Rothbard teaching hatred against the state. Even if you hate the state (which I think is not the problem itself) then you should still not project this on people who think states are the better way to reach the goals we all share (most degree of liberty, happiness etc…).

      I don’t see a point in hating people who share the same goal, but disagree in the means. I only can hate people who have different goals or are unfriendly, insulting wise guys etc.

      Please calm down. Insults and condescending behavior will not turn the world to the better.

      • Matt Tanous says:

        “I don’t see a point in hating people who share the same goal, but disagree in the means.”

        Except the means of one is peaceful, and there can be disagreement, while the means of another is violent and oppressive. The hate of the state stems from its flagrant immorality. To not rail against those that propose the pointing of guns to control people as the means to liberty (?!) would be on par with not railing against those that propose mass murder as the solution to conflict.

        • skylien says:

          Don’t you think there is a bit of a difference between someone like Stalin and say Röpke?

          Don’t you think there is a difference between people like Kim Yong Il and say a Minarchist?

          Or do you want to tell me that you hate 99.99% of the people on the world equally?

          On the other hand if you excuse Mises or Röpke that they were for a government with quite limited functions then you have to be as fair to contemporary advocates of a wide variety of “statists”, and this even includes Minarchists.

          • skylien says:

            *… variety of “statism”…*

          • Matt Tanous says:

            “Don’t you think there is a difference between people like Kim Yong Il and say a Minarchist?”

            Intent. It is, in essence, the same difference between an axe murderer and someone who committed accidental or neglectful manslaughter. The former is worse than the latter. Doesn’t make the latter something I should not disapprove of and try to correct.

            An emotional rant can go over the top, but that doesn’t make its base criticism wrong. And criticizing even minarchists is necessary, as they – albeit with good intentions – add fuel to the raging destructive fire that is the state.

            • skylien says:

              Agree absolutely.

              Except I am myself undecided if pure anarcho capitalism really could work. I just don’t know. So you may criticize me, but I hope you don’t hate me 🙂

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Undecided on the basis of pure gut feeling, or on the basis of having read Murphy, Rothbard, Spooner, Friedman, the Tannehills, etc, and developing an informed judgment that the anarchist arguments are incomplete, or flawed in some respects?

              • skylien says:

                Undecided because of gut feeling AND because I am not through all the necessary literature.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                You just explained the 99%

            • Richard Moss says:


              You wrote “And criticizing even minarchists is necessary, as they – albeit with good intentions – add fuel to the raging destructive fire that is the state.”

              I see. So it would be ok to call Mises a psychotic?

              Skylien isn’t at all saying the emotional rant makes the criticism wrong – not at all. He is only saying that it makes the criticism, and critic, much less likely to be taken seriously.

              • Matt Tanous says:

                “So it would be ok to call Mises a psychotic?”

                I never said they were psychotic. I even pointed out they may have good intentions.

                But I recognize that Mises was wrong about the nature of the state and wrong on morality. Pointing that out – even expressing anger at those that apparently refuse to see it – is not wrong.

              • Richard Moss says:


                When skylien criticized Adrian for the way he criticized Cowen (i.e. calling Cowen ‘psychotic’) you appeared to defend Adrian.

                I read you as saying it was ok for such talk when it came to criticizing statists.

                I am certainly ok with criticizing the views of ‘statists’ (or anyone else). But, like skylien, I do take issue with the manner in which Adrian did above.

                Do you, or don’t you?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Or do you want to tell me that you hate 99.99% of the people on the world equally?

            Are you saying that 99.9% of the world hates individualism?

            That’s a lot of hate.

            • skylien says:

              No, but I guess if you ask all people on the world, if we can dispense with the state then about 99% would say no.

              99.99 was an exaggeration (I hope so at least…)

              • Major_Freedom says:

                How do they express their “no” conviction, in terms of their actions in general and not just their words? What kind of action would be associated with thinking “no”?

              • skylien says:

                Hm. This is a different angle you approach here.

                If you are speaking about actions and not what people “think” they want, then there is still no point in ranting against people who “say” they are for a state, because maybe their actions say the opposite namely that they are against a state.

                Hence no point in hating Tyler C.

                Anyway in this sense it very well could be that 99% are against a state, but they just don’t know it yet.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                I bet it’s more like 999 out of a thousand, rather than 99 out of 100 or 9,999 out of 10,000.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                You’re the only Austrian who can use numbers, Murphy.

              • Major_Freedom says:


                OK, suppose that someone who says that they are for the state, actually believe it.

                How will they act?

              • skylien says:

                The only thing that comes to my mind is approving obedience.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          But this kind of talk will attract mocking and scorn from statists, and that means the ideas are wrong…right?

          • skylien says:

            Yes it will, and no of course it doesn’t mean it is wrong. Arrogant assholes still can be right. It’s just that very view people are able to ignore such an attitude. Most just shut down.

            No I am not saying this because of mere strategic reasons. I say this because I think that people can be wrong, and nobody should be hated because of this.

            It is not like they say: Oh in case A everything is great, everything is peaceful, and in case B there is violence. Right I am for B!

            Maintaining public order is not an easy topic in my view. And that is what a state first and foremost is about, right?

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Wrong. A state is first and foremost about maintaining systematic property violations with impunity – of some individuals socially controlling all other individuals on the basis of threats of physical violence (that are made good on any resisters).

              Statism is inimical to the maintaining of public order. It is a system of introducing disorder, economic chaos, and at the extreme, conquest, war, and mass murder.

              The reason it’s not an easy job is because it is hard to make people accept that they are sub-human and destined to be controlled by force.

              • skylien says:

                Yes I know the inherent contradictions. But let me put it this way.

                Usually it is quite a bad idea if there is a fire and you make another fire. This would just increase the damage.

                Though under the right circumstances done properly you can use fire to fight fire by laying a controlled fire that eats away fuel in the path of the big fire…

                The big fire is equivalent to violent thugs or warlords. And the state might be the monopolized right to use force which make no mistake will cause at least limited damage even if done properly and of course also can spiral out of control (causing even bigger fires than any warlord/thug ever could) if not done properly (see USSR etc..).

                The question is do we really need to fight fire with fire, or is there a better means.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                When the world is in a fireball, I don’t think it is possible for the fire to get bigger if you seek to extinguish it.

              • skylien says:

                Right, I’d say: Fighting fire with fire is playing with fire, especially if as Hayek explained it’s the firebugs who usually get to the top to “control” the fire…

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Fighting fire with perceived fire cannot make the fire bigger if it already everywhere.

                Just maybe the perceived fire is actually water.

            • skylien says:

              *very view people* omg… It is “few” of course…

  5. Major_Freedom says:

    Hey Murphy, check out this chart I made:


  6. Silas Barta says:

    Nitpick: The Cowen link is just him quoting someone else.

  7. UnlearningEcon says:

    “No, it’s that I’m hard-up for allies in the War Against Sumner.”

    Reporting for duty.

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