02 Apr 2015


Potpourri 15 Comments

==> I’ll be responding, but if you want to get a head start, Jerry Taylor at the Niskanen Center responded to my critique of his pro-carbon tax study.

==> Stephan Kinsella (in the comments here at Free Advice) posted a link to his article on self-ownership. I’m not sure how much of it I endorse, but it’s very interesting reading in any event. He takes the logic of “Does a mother own her child?” further than I’ve seen before.

==> A symposium on Bohm-Bawerk! What more could I ask for on Easter.

==> And now for something completely different: Avens O’Brien offers lonely libertarian men some tough love.

==> Paul Krugman often makes counterintuitive claims that are totally wrong. When it comes to air conditioning and the South, he made an intuitive claim that was totally wrong.

15 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Gene Callahan says:

    Bob, I know you have a bee in your bonnet about Krugman, but the author in your link writes:
    “On the first point it is important to note that the South’s economy actually began to accelerate in the 1930s and 1940s.”

    Which is EXACTLY when air conditioning in commercial buildings was taking off:

    Then he writes:
    “The other problem with looking to air conditioning as the reason for the rise of the South is that there are recent net migration patterns that show movement into the warm South from other warm regions. not just from cooler regions. For example, this Census Bureau figure shows for the 1995-2000 period net migration out of California often went into other warm states, including many in the South.”

    Um, you don’t really need air conditioning in California, where the humidity is low and the nights get cool even on hot days, the way you do in the south? And anyway, what would “recent net migration patterns” have to do with “the rise of the south,” which, as the author asserts, happened in the 30s and 40s… just when commercial air conditioning was being introduced?

    Now, IF Krugman was implying that air conditioning is the complete and total explanation for this change, of course that would be foolish. But if he is just saying “This was a very important factor,” rather than being “totally wrong” — and note, even the author you cite doesn’t say Krugman was “totally wrong” — he admits air conditioning was a factor — then Krugman should be classified as “largely right.”

    • Dan says:

      Having lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, I can tell you it would be hell in the summer to not have AC. Yes, there are pockets where the heat isn’t as bad, like if you are close to the ocean, but even then it can get extremely uncomfortable without AC. I almost never needed heat even during winter living a couple miles from the beach, but i always needed AC. It’s an even bigger need the further East you go from the beach. You’re talking 90-110 degrees for most of the summer in those areas. You can call it a dry heat, but it’s still brutal without AC.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        For the state as a whole, electricity per capita used for air conditioning is well below the national average because *most* of the state has a mild climate. On average it is not so muggy and humid. Deeper pacific waters out west versus the shallow waters in the gulf of mexico.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Gene, Tyler has been putting stuff on this at MR saying Krugman is wrong too. So I agree with you that perhaps my link by itself was not sufficient, but if even Tyler (who wants to be super polite to Krugman) is linking to “definitive” papers which say it’s not the main driver, then I think that’s the current accepted opinion. I.e. it wasn’t just this one blog post that made me take this position.

  2. TokyoTomⒶ (@Tokyo_Tom) says:

    If air conditioning has nothing to do with economic growth in the South, it’s alleged connection to the expansion of the Federal government is probably also BS:

    “Until the 20th century, being a member of Congress was very much a part time job. Lawmakers would come to Capitol Hill for six months out of the year, with the rest of their time being spent at home, farming or lawyering or practicing whatever their real profession was.

    “This all changed when AC, first invented in 1902, was installed in the House of Representatives in 1928, with the Senate quickly following suit. The White House got AC in 1929, and as a result President Herbert Hoover decided to spend his summer working in Washington, rather than retreating to his summer home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    “The spread of air conditioning in federal offices caused an immediate uptick in worker productivity.”


    Well, at least we know the “worker productivity” claim is a scam.

  3. Harold says:

    On self ownership.
    Ownership must be resolved by a non-arbitrary and objective criterion. For unappropriated resources, first use is claimed to be such a criterion.

    For bodies, first use would lead to the mother owning the child. However, we may be able to get to self ownership. “If “first use” is not the ultimate test for the “objective link” in the case of body ownership, what is? It is the unique relationship between a person and “his” body — his direct and immediate control over the body, and the fact that, at least in some sense, a body is a given person and vice versa.”
    We now have two criteria that are claimed to be objective links – first use and direct and immediate control. How are we to decide which to apply without an arbitrary choice?

    This seems to give two problems. If we say that neither claim is intrinsically superior, then to use one for bodies and one for land is arbitrary. If we say direct and immediate control is intrinsically and objectively superior, we are left with first use being supplanted in any situation where another has direct and immediate control of a resource.

    The way out seems to be that the form of direct and immediate control one has of ones own body is unique, such that it can be non-arbitrarily applied to bodies only. That requires a lot more explanation – what is it about this direct and immediate control that makes it special?

    Hoppe claims that others can only move “my” body indirectly – through use of “their” own bodies. This presuposses that they own their body and I own mine, which is what we are trying to show. The test Hoppe uses for demonstrating direct control- “Proof of this, as far as my body is concerned, is easy enough to demonstrate: When I announce that I will now lift my arm, turn my head, relax in my chair (or whatever else) and these announcements then become true (are fulfilled), then this shows that the body which does this has been indeed appropriated by my will.” This also happens if someone else is holding my arm. Does this then become their arm, as they have direct control over it? Yet in a way I move my toes indirectly by the use of other bits of my body. If a person physically attaches himself to the legs of a paralysed person, does he become the owner of the legs, since direct control takes precedence over first use. People can control machines by thought. Is that direct? Is it more direct than wiggling my toes?
    This direct / indirect thing is quite complex. We need to properly define what we mean by “I” – which has presented problems in the past.

    I am not convinced that this resoves the problem of non-arbitrariness. Why should the directness of the control only apply in the situation of bodies? I am not sure it is so unique that it can objectively only apply on that one situation. So if control is objectively more fudamental than first use for bodies, why not for other things also?

  4. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Bob, Kinsella said that you and Gene never replied to his response to your critique of Argumentation Ethics. Is that true?

    • Bob Murphy says:


      I think I argued with him a lot on anti-state.com about it, and came away thinking that he was merely repeating the original Hoppeian position without explaining why our critiques were wrong. So it is true that when Gene and I wrote up our critique more formally for the JLS, we didn’t put, “Now some will say…” because I really don’t see what Stephan’s response is, except to reiterate why libertarian principles make sense for reasons that have nothing to do with argumentation ethics.

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        Bob, it seems to me that the core of Kinsella’s response to you is that the only theories of property that can be justified are theories that are (1) universalizable and (2) based on an objective link between the owner and the owned resource. The reason that condition (1) is necessary is that if a theory isn’t universalizable, then it can’t be justified through argument, and the reason that condition (2) is necessary is that if that the theory is not based on an objective link, then it’s just based on a verbal assertion and is thus no better or worse than any other competing theory based on verbal assertion.

        Kinsella claims that all the counterexamples in your paper satisfy condition (1), but they do not satisfy condition (2). How would you respond to that?

        (To be clear, I’m just playing Devil’s advocate. I don’t believe in Argumentation Ethics at all.)

      • Jan Masek says:

        Dr. Murphy, did you ever reply to Dr. Kinsella’s response to Callahan and yourself? It went out ages ago, 2002.

        I’m really curious because I intelectually love both you and Kinsella. But on this I am 100% sold by Kinsella’s arguments and I totally buy arg ethics. He, like you, is very, extremely thorough and intelectually superhonest and careful about every step in his reasoning. Hence would like to see your arguments because I cannot get my head around why you two would disagree (same applies to religion where Dr. Kinsella too disagrees. Again I take his side but I respect you too much to dismiss your views. I would LOVE (and pay) for hearing you two talk this out.

        Finally, are you sure you are getting the full argument? You admitted you haven’t heatd about Habermas and Dr. Kinsella’s article on self-ownership. I don’t mean to sound cheeky but it’s a bit like claiming to understand Murphy’s argument about capital and interest and not knowing he wrote a dissertation on it and he mainly drew from Bohm-Bawerk.

  5. Yancey Ward says:

    I have lived in both the North and South with and without air conditioning. I think people greatly overrate the actual difference in Summer heat discomfort. You really don’t want to live without air conditioning in Connecticut’s Summer either. Air conditioning’s spread in the South was almost surely a consequence of economic development, not a cause.

  6. Dan says:

    A big reason they are lonely libertarian men is that a lot of them have eliminated all non-libertarians from their dating pool. I’ve never had trouble finding women to date, but if I limited my options to only libertarians I’d never go out. I’ve never even met a female libertarian outside of a handful libertarian events I attended. Plus, what are the odds you’re going to have chemistry with her on the rare occasion you meet one? Stupid strategy. And the guys or girls making it mandatory that they are with another libertarian, probably have some social skills issues that need to be worked on before they try dating to begin with.

    • Ben B says:

      Yeah, I bagged me a socialist feminist. I couldn’t be happier, and the chemistry is explosive

      • Dan says:

        I only date women that call me privileged cis white male scum.

      • Grane Peer says:

        Ben B, Like all good relationships yours was successful because of the large IQ disparity.

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