02 Apr 2013


Economics, Federal Reserve, Krugman, Potpourri, Scott Sumner, Shameless Self-Promotion, Steve Landsburg, Tom Woods 29 Comments

==> Jack Hunter argues that even though he’s in favor of gay marriage personally (thinking it should be decided legally at the state level), he strongly objects to the rhetoric of saying it is akin to the Civil Rights movement for blacks. I still think Gene Callahan has the best observation on this whole issue (I’m possibly paraphrasing): “Religious types who are against sodomy should be for gay marriage, so that homosexual couples stop having sex just like heterosexuals who get married.”

==> I encourage you to read this David Stockman essay in the NYT, and the accompanying slideshow of Sound Money Heroes and Villains. (Whoever thought the NYT would have a slideshow on heroic defenders of sound money?!) Why do I encourage you to read it? Because David R. Henderson has a post titled “David Stockman Screeches” (in which he quotes Martin Anderson saying Stockman’s earlier book has the “tone of a screeching bluejay”), blogger “Angus” has a post titled “David Stockman wants to pee in your cornflakes,” Scott Sumner says, “I do agree with Krugman’s view that the recent David Stockman column was a sort of mindless rant. And I’m an expert on rants,” Mark Thoma awards Stockman “wingnut of the day,” Jared Bernstein calls it a “horrific screed.” As Paul Krugman summarizes, “the verdict among everyone who knows anything is that Stockman’s piece, mysteriously given star treatment, was pathetic and embarrassing.” (Who talks like that? Why, Krugman does.) So even though I liked Stockman’s piece anyway–because he is warning people about mushrooming government debt and fiat money–the natural defense lawyer in me would really be taking a second look when he receives this much vitriol. It doesn’t mean he’s right, of course, but it’s odd how much of the commentary involves making sure you know Stockman is a whining crybaby. There are two parts where Stockman’s 4-page NYT essay was misleading in the presentation of correct facts–and Angus and Henderson busted him on this–but those were really the only legitimate objections I saw. Suppose we strike those two paragraphs, and look at the rest of his 4 page essay. If even half of what Stockman is warning about is correct, then yeah, I can see why he might be concerned. (I don’t know the guy personally, and he’s trying to sell copies of his new book, but I’m just saying the proportion of criticism to assertion seemed off for the blogosphere’s excoriation of the guy.)

==> Art Carden linked to this hilarious Garett Jones tweet (for those who follow the climate change policy debate): “One upside of the minimum-wage debate: it’s thrilling to watch progressives reject the precautionary principle so thoroughly.”

==> An interesting post from Steve Landsburg on the ambiguities on choosing legal rules to maximize efficiency.

==> Oops meant to relay this on Sunday: Apparently Easter is not named after Ishtar, though my atheist Facebook friends would beg to differ.

==> The erudite Von Pepe sends this funny MR post on the young John Stuart Mill.

==> Yes it’s true, I’m in talks with Warren Mosler on a debate over MMT/Austrian economics. It’s an exciting time to be alive. This is the first time Tom Woods and Mike Norman have agreed on anything related to economics.

==> Some kids have too much time on their hands.

29 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Yosef says:

    That post on Easter not Ishtar is really cool (though the links about Dawkins being misogynistic or pro-eugenics are misleading). I wonder though, Bob, what you think of the part where the author of that post says “Know what else? Most Christians know this. Or, at least, most of the Christians that I’m friends with (which is, admittedly, a fairly small sampling). They know that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th, and they know that there were never any actual snakes in Ireland, and they know that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols. But they don’t care, because they realize that religions evolve and change and that that’s actually a good thing, not a bad thing. The fact that many Christian saints are just re-imagined pagan gods and goddesses doesn’t alter their faith one iota; because faith isn’t about reason or sense, it’s about belief.”

  2. Blackadder says:

    There are two parts where Stockman’s 4-page NYT essay was misleading in the presentation of correct facts–and Angus and Henderson busted him on this–but those were really the only legitimate objections I saw.

    After warning about coming inflation, Stockman ends his essay by advising people “to get out of the markets and hide out in cash.” This is akin to say that because a huge hurricane season is coming we should all hurry up and buy beachfront property before the storms hit.

    If Stockman is confused about something that basic, then why should anyone take anything else he says seriously?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Well he probably thinks the stock market is going to crash; didn’t he explain that part of it?

      I think getting out of the market and into cash is a smart thing too right now, and I am (infamously) thinking big price inflation is coming. I also think people should buy gold and silver. I don’t know what Stockman’s ideal portfolio is, but to say “get out of the markets and into cash” sounds pretty sensible to me. The market dropped 40% in a year; I don’t think CPI will rise 40% in one year (at least not before stocks get crushed).

    • JSR08 says:

      Maybe his editor changed “gold” in to “cash”?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Blackadder, you know the S&P basically stayed the same in nominal terms throughout the 1970s right (disregarding dividends)? I hope you don’t think the stock market is a great inflation hedge.

      • Blackadder says:


        If Stockman had said “inflation is coming, so you best stay in stocks” that would not have been great advice either.

  3. Major_Freedom says:

    Did anyone catch the debate between Wenzel and Kinsella over IP?

    I honestly feel sorry for Wenzel. There were cringe inducing moments where I felt embarrassed for the guy.

    I think his reputation is going to take a serious nosedive. Too bad…

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I have not listened yet. I just found the mp3 to download at Kinsella’s web page.


      As much as like to get down and dirty with the anti-Austrians, I’m not a big fan of libertarian on libertarian bashing. We shall see if my delicate metabolism can take this.

    • Dan Lind says:

      I caught much of it. And was stunned.

      I had the thing running in the background and several times I paused it, couldn’t take it any more, then would run it some more like some jerk who really doesn’t want to see mangled bodies flying around in a freeway accident but has a sick bloodlust and just has to see more.

      Kept reminding myself of the date, April 1st, and hoped the two of them would start laughing about the thing.

      I wanted to hear a strong defense of IP against its leading and apparently most knowledgeable opponent. But the thing had really nothing to do with IP. It was a vehicle for one protagonist to, as he specifically stated, destroy the other because he felt disrespected was pissed off about it. Why the hell Kinsella stuck around is beyond me, and frankly the fact that he did stick around doesn’t much accrue to his credit.

      Even in a “debate” with some pseudo-Marxist, say someone like Elizabeth Warren, this behavior would be distasteful — it certainly wouldn’t serve to convince anyone except the choir. But libertarian on libertarian?


      • Major_Freedom says:

        “Why the hell Kinsella stuck around is beyond me, and frankly the fact that he did stick around doesn’t much accrue to his credit.”

        I would argue the exact opposite, but that’s just my view.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          MF do you mean it is to Kinsella’s credit that he stuck around even though it wasn’t a good debate, or do you mean you thought Kinsella was getting beaten and needed to put up a defense?

          • Dan Lind says:

            It’s my opinion it wasn’t to Kinsella’s credit for sticking around because a) the exchange had become such an embarrassment as to tarnish every participant’s reputation, and b) his purpose in the exchange (and I’m making an assumption here) – a serious debate about a serious issue – was clearly not going to happen.

            Perhaps the good Major believes it was classy to stick around and remain civil in a cacophony of incivility, a reasonable belief. But I’ll point out that by the end of the exchange both participants were heavily engaged in grade school incivilities. Perhaps Kinsella lost his cool, can’t say I blame him, but it didn’t serve him well.

            Who won the debate? Who cares?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            The former.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            More specifically,

            He promised to debate, which is also a promise to listeners, readers, and fans, and he didn’t hang up which he could have done.

            Same thing for Wenzel. It was to his credit that he didn’t hang up either.

            That means they were both serious about the ideas, and that is admirable.

            Hanging up, to me, is giving up, and giving up on the debate is akin to giving up on the seriousness of the ideas. If they’re not serious about them however, who will be?

      • guest says:

        I didn’t catch all of it, but the best part so far was when Kinsella said, “Make it stop.”

        It’s like Wenzel was channeling Bill O’Reilly.

        Note to self: Only debate Wenzel in writing.

        I like Wenzel apart from his IP and Bitcoin views. He has a lot of great things to say. He’s doing a great service by exposing Rand Paul.

        • guest says:

          Here’s a puzzle that Kinsella can use against Wenzel:

          Pretend that Wenzel finds a fresh water well in the middle of the Sahara, it’s the only one there, and it will supply an endless supply of fresh water.

          Is the resource scarce because Wenzel is the only one who knows about it, or is the resource abundant because the supply can never be exhausted?

          ARE … YOU … NOT … ENTERTAINED?!

          • guest says:

            I still maintain that property rights is not primarily about scarcity of a resource or conflict resolution, by the way.

            Property rights are about the logical applications of individual liberty. Nothing about the nature of the resource is relevant to property rights except as it is derived from individual liberty.

            So, if no one ever has a conflict over a resource, it is still either owned or unowned depending on whether someone has mixed their labor with it.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            “and it will supply an endless supply of fresh water.”

            Easy reply:

            Fresh water is not endless, but scarce.

            [Commodus puts his thumb down]

            • guest says:


              Like Kinsella would get a chance to finish stating the puzzle.

    • Daniel Hewitt says:

      Listened to it yesterday, and made it most of the way through. Although I thought that he made a couple of good points, Wenzel could not put together a coherent case for IP. Very anti-climactic after hearing him say how great his case was.

      That said, the debate exemplified everything that I dislike about Kinsella, despite my agreement with his views on IP.

    • K.P. says:

      I’ve never appreciated RPM’s karaoke more than when I listened to that.

      • guest says:

        On a distantly related note, there are TONS of custom ringtones in that debate.

        I need to get a Patent- I mean a Copyright – on that file before Wenzel does.

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