26 Aug 2014


Potpourri 23 Comments

==> Phil Magness caught this: Compare Slate’s current outrage over pro-sweatshop views and this oldie from an economist presumably not being funded by billionaire brothers.

==> If you’ve never considered the issue of intellectual property, this Tom Woods interview with Stephan Kinsella is good.

==> I didn’t write this, but thought it was appropriate. Judging from my Facebook feed, libertarians hate not only the government, but also the ice bucket challenge and “pay it forward” schemes at Starbucks. As I summarized it, “Libertarianism: The worry that someone, somewhere thinks he is a smart and good person.” (By the way, I’m not talking about gentle criticism. I’m talking about eye-rolling “You think raising $50 million for a charity is a good thing! You idiot!!”)

UPDATE: Oh by the way, the reason I bristle so much against the hostility to the ice bucket challenge etc. is that I did the same thing when I was younger. I can’t find it now, but I know that in grad school I wrote an angry-young-man article complaining about Habitat for Humanity. (My point was that it would be far more efficient for people to donate money and then the group would hire professional homebuilders.) I realize without knowing me personally it might be difficult to glean the tone of my “anti-libertarian” volleys; they are mostly meant to be funny reflections on how we differ from the rest of society.

23 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Somebody says:

    Seems exactly how charitable/research fundraising should function in a free society.

  2. Major.Freedom says:

    According to this “Chris Young” pundit, it is good and normal and “proper” when governments spend billions every year “injecting” pro-government ideas into school curricula, but we’re supposed to get all riled up and afraid when individuals who did not steal their money spend money “injecting” pro-libertarian ideas into school curricula.

    Don’t these people realize that pro-government ideas are ALSO “propaganda”, “ideology”, and “biased views”? It is almosypt as if they believe there is no such thing as pro-government propaganda. Thinking there is becomes “conspiracy theories”, and “paranoia”.

  3. K.P. says:

    Maybe their tone is uncalled for but I kind of like the almost reactionary impulse of libertarians to attack fads, I wish they’d broaden it further.

  4. Gamble says:

    Tax rates should be cut by half or more, all donations should NOT be tax deductible. Politics and 501c3 and churches and think tanks should all pay taxes. Non profits should be abolished. What the heck is a non profit anyways? Seems like all the profits are paid out as salaries. So what. Now you have a market perversion.

    These angry libertarians need to focus on the origin of their angst rather than symptoms.

    • Bogart says:

      Where are the angry Libertarians? It is the folks at Slate that are angry. But I can’t figure out why the folks at Slate hate poor people so much. They seek at every opportunity to eliminate moral choices made by poor people. The Minimum Wage and Anti-Sweat Shop legislation are two examples. But the big one is Public Education. Why keep these people from earning money by helping society and instead stick them in a room with a bunch of people based upon where these people live and force them to learn about liberal crap?

      As for any one getting out of paying taxes, I am all for it. I wish there were no taxes but people with guns insist on making people pay them so if one person gets out then all the better.

  5. Gamble says:

    I have been saying this for 5 years. If you your stated goals are true, you would input new money at the bottom rather than the top. Since you input at the top, your goals are a lie or your degree is a fraud and you are ignorant.

    Obviously I would prefer no fiat money input anywhere.


  6. Daniel Kuehn says:

    HA! Good one! And I remember seeing Ben Powell talk about libertarianism on Huffington Post once! Hope nobody finds out about THAT one.

    That Phil Magness, top shelf intellectual historian, isn’t he?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      What are you talking about Daniel?

      • Phil Magness says:

        Careful there, Bob. If you offend a certain person’s delicate sensibilities he might just unfriend you =)

        • Daniel Kuehn says:

          Offensiveness is welcome. Actually one of Bob’s big flaws is that whatever other wackiness he brings to the table he is always perfectly polite. Offense is a spice of life that unfortunately I have to look for in people besides Bob.

          People that don’t really seem like friends, though, aren’t the sort of people I want around to bring me down. That’s pretty straightforward, I think. And I don’t think Bob’s at any risk of that.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Bob – It’s a little silly, right? Slate’s been operating for almost twenty years and it pulls in all sorts of writers from all sorts of perspectives. What did he “catch” that some of these authors disagree with each other!

        Hence Huffpost. Similar model. I’ve seen Powell write on their several times offering views that a lot of other writers disagree with.

        Next potpourri you should share my big catch!

        • Daniel Kuehn says:


        • Bob Murphy says:

          Daniel, yes, if you can find HuffPo running a columnist who says, “Can you believe I found a website that ran such nutjob views?!” and pointed to Mises.org running Ben Powell’s piece, then if HuffPo itself ran a similar piece, sure I’ll link that. Because it’s funny.

          The point of the Slate issue isn’t that a writer said, “I think sweatshops are bad.” It’s that he was outraged the billionaire brothers would be trying to teach kids such patently absurd views. That was the story–it wasn’t about whether sweatshops were good or bad, it was self-evident to the writer that they were bad. The “story” was that these guys had the audacity to try to promote such views.

          So yes, it’s funny that Paul Krugman used to say the same thing (on one view), and that Slate published it.

          But I’m guessing you won’t see the humor in that.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            So you’re assuming that this author is fine with Slate publishing Krugman? I would have guessed that he’d be equally opposed to that. I’d guess he’d say “Slate should be ashamed to publish that just like the Kochs should be ashamed to fund that teaching”. Right?

            Any differences presumably come from the fact that grown adults read Krugman, while children are getting the lesson.

            These are big diverse news sites. I don’t see the big gotcha.

            • Scott D says:


              Essentially, if you can form a sentence on topic X that includes “Koch brothers” without the words “against” or “oppose”, Slate and Huffpo will publish a piece denouncing topic X, and then proceed to tell us why liberty is dumb because it widens the various income gaps.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            Not to mention the fact that a school is different from a website that publishes lots of different, generally iconoclastic people.

            The better comparison is Krugman teaching primary school students that sweatshops are good and the Kochs doing that. Are you honestly telling me that you think this author would be OK with the former but not the latter?

            It’s silly. Your gotcha-meter for Krugman needs to be re-calibrated.

  7. Josiah says:

    I confess that I was one of the scoffers and mockers on the ice bucket challenge. But after thinking it over I have to say that Bob is right. If a company were to launch some highly successful viral marketing campaign to promote their products, libertarians would cite this as an example of the creative genius of the market. When shouldn’t suddenly turn sour when a charity does the same thing.

  8. Josiah says:

    Okay, now I’m back to hating the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge again.

  9. Josiah says:

    Oops. Here’s the right link.

  10. Samson Corwell says:

    Intellectual property is still property. The real question is whether it should exist or not. I think it should. Kinsella’s mostly a sophist a lapdog for one particular person and I wouldn’t trust him with the time of day, let alone legal/philosophical arguments.

    • Scott D says:

      Patterns exist. To argue that arranging your physical matter in the same pattern that I have arranged my physical matter is stealing my pattern is patently ridiculous. The only coherent argument for intellectual property is the utilitarian one, and it appears to be solidly refuted.

      • Samson Corwell says:

        Patterns exist.


        To argue that arranging your physical matter in the same pattern that I have arranged my physical matter is stealing my pattern is patently ridiculous.

        And to argue that breach of contract is theft as Rothbard does is equally stupid, if not more so, but that’s besides the point. If you don’t like to call it “theft”, then call it “copyright infringement”. Of course, no one argues the way you portray it. The problem is you making money off of someone else’s idea (in some cases, their face). “Property” isn’t the thing. It’s the title to the thing. When we say that something is your property, we mean it’s “proper to” you. If it’s “proper to” you, then you have exclusionary rights in it.

  11. Samson Corwell says:

    I ran across this one Austro-libertarian arguing for IP on the basis of praxeology here, if anyone’s interested. Seems like a bunch of snake oil (his approach), but I’ll leave that to you guys to judge

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