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The Hayek Project

I don't normally plug causes, but Jeffrey Friedman's Critical Review Foundation is one of the most important in contemporary academic libertarianism/classical liberalism. Here is an email I received from Jeff announcing the launch of a new project:

Dear Friends of the Critical Review Foundation,

The financial crisis has rubbed my nose in the cluelessness of economists about human ignorance. That, of course, is something that Austrian economists have long screamed about, but it takes immersion in economic literature to really see how bad it is.

And it is nearly as bad in political science, where objective interests and subjective "values" are usually taken to be the moving forces of politics, which leaves out the role of ideas, theories, ideologies, and the errors they may cause.

So I decided to start The Hayek Project, www.hayekproject.org, a website that will identify the Critical Review Foundation with Hayek while furthering our scholarly mission, which is directly in line with Hayek's life work: the promotion of awareness of social complexity, hence human ignorance, hence error in human behavior. It is a rich research agenda, since ignorance and error are so central to the human condition--and since complexity is so central to the modern condition.

The Project website will try to bring together writings that contribute to Hayek's own scholarly project, defined as drawing the attention of social scientists to the role of ideas (including ideas about a complex society that may be erroneous). Should we be so lucky as to be able to afford it, the Project will also promote scholarship along these lines by making research grants. Some day....

Jeff
----------------------
Jeffrey Friedman
Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Government, U. of Texas, Austin
Max Weber Fellow, Inst. for Advancement of the Social Sciences, Boston U.
Editor, Critical Review
www.criticalreview.com

In related news, my friend Dain Fitzgerald has begun a series of interviews with those who have published in Critical Review, probing the implications of these writings. The first interview, with Slavisa Tasic, can be accessed here.

Slavisa's article, "The Illusion of Regulatory Competence," was published in vol. 21, no. 4 ("The Age of Uncertainty"). Slavisa's article is right down the "ignorance and error" alley, and should become one of our most cited ever.


Useful Idiots

Libertarians like [Dick Armey] might hold any number of outlandish, anti-conservative views — not just open borders but legalizing prostitution, for instance, or privatizing the Air Force — but so long as they keep those views to themselves, they can be useful allies for actual conservatives.

So no talking about immigration or the multiple wars in the Middle East. Got it.

Good luck with that Tea Party, fellas. Let me know how it works out for you.


Stay Classy, Tea Party

A few weeks ago on this blog, Jonathan Wilde expressed incredulity "that MSNBC has a host [Dylan Ratigan] who actually believes that the Tea Party constituents include a significant number of people who say, 'I want to kill blacks and Jews and women.' What universe is this guy living in?"

Apparently, Dylan Ratigan lives in the same universe as Jonathan and me.

Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted "nigger" Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.

Protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, spat on at least one black lawmaker and confronted an openly gay congressman with taunts.

"They were shouting, sort of harassing," Lewis said. "But, it's okay, I've faced this before. It reminded me of the 60s. It was a lot of downright hate and anger and people being downright mean."

Lewis said he was leaving the Cannon office building to walk to the Capitol to vote when protesters shouted "Kill the bill, kill the bill," Lewis said.

"I said 'I'm for the bill, I support the bill, I'm voting for the bill'," Lewis said.

A colleague who was accompanying Lewis said people in the crowd responded by saying "Kill the bill, then the n-word."

"It surprised me that people are so mean and we can't engage in a civil dialogue and debate," Lewis said.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said he was a few yards behind Lewis and distinctly heard "nigger."

"It was a chorus," Cleaver said. "In a way, I feel sorry for those people who are doing this nasty stuff - they're being whipped up. I decided I wouldn't be angry with any of them." [...]

Protesters also used a slur as they confronted Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an openly gay member of Congress.

Frank told the Boston Globe that the incident happened as he was walking from the Longworth office building to the Rayburn office building, both a short distance from the Capitol. Frank said the crowd consisted of a couple of hundred of people and that they referred to him as 'homo.' A writer for The Huffington Post said the protesters called Frank a "faggot."

"I'm disappointed with the unwillingness to be civil," Frank told the Globe. "I was, I guess, surprised by the rancor. What it means is obviously the health care bill is proxy for a lot of other sentiments, some of which are perfectly reasonable, but some of which are not."

"People out there today, on the whole, were really hateful," Frank said. "The leaders of this movement have a responsibility to speak out more."

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday as the House Democratic leadership worked to gather enough votes to enact a health care overhaul proposal that has become the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's domestic agenda. Most were affiliated with so-called tea party organizations that originally sprang up during last summer's protests of the health care proposals.

Heated debate has surrounded what role race plays in the motivations of the tea party demonstrators. During protests last summer, demonstrators displayed a poster depicting Obama as an African witch doctor complete with headdress, above the words "OBAMACARE coming to a clinic near you." Former President Jimmy Carter asserted in September that racism was a major factor behind the hostility that Obama's proposals had faced.

The claim brought angry rebuttals from Republicans. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is black, accused Carter of playing the "race card."

On Saturday, Frank, however, said he was sorry Republican leaders didn't do more to disown the protesters.

Some Republicans "think they are benefiting from this rancor," he said.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., said Saturday's ugliness underscored for him that the health care overhaul isn't the only motivation for many protesters.

"I heard people saying things today I've not heard since March 15th, 1960, when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus," Clyburn said. "This is incredible, shocking to me."

via Julian Sanchez


Markets Know No Borders - Freedom Must Stretch Across All Humanity

My progressive friend Yitz and I had another interesting discussion on Facebook, this time regarding healthcare, free markets, and socialism, inspired by a BusinessWeeks news post Yitz linked to and summarized:

Finland recently signed a law which provides every citizen there with a legal right to a 1 MB/second internet connection as of July 2010, and 100MB/second by December 2015. The Finnish government says that people "need broadband connections to live normal lives."

Yitz followed up this summary with his thoughts:

While I believe in socializing basic needs such as food and healthcare, I had never thought of broadband internet access as a basic need -- but apparently the Finnish are looking towards a future where bandwidth and healthcare are equally vital. Still, all in all -- go Finland.

While the Finnish are a great people - they make the best metal in the world - I'm not so sure we should be following in their footsteps on economic policy. Here is my initial comment in response to Yitz:

Socialized food? So like ban private supermarkets and implement a 5 year agricultural plan, Soviet style?

Or do you mean providing a basic minimum through vouchers like we do with foodstamps?

Personally, I think food and healthcare are too important to be left to a government monopoly heavily influenced by entrenched corporate interests. That's how we got the worst-of-both worlds health care system we have in the U.S. today.

Another commenter challenged me on my characterization of the U.S. health care system as "worst-of-both worlds":

It's interesting how people from all over the world come to the "worst-of-both-worlds health care system we have in the U.S. today" for medical care.

As for free (*someone* i.e. taxpayers pay for it) broadband for all citizens, how about indoor plumbing and toilets? Are those also provided free by the government? I would think that they're more of a "basic need" than broadband Internet.

A different commenter took issue with preexisting condition clauses in insurance contracts:

The second biggest besides the Pre Existing conditions clause, which to me is criminal negligance, is the uncontrolled price gouging on medicines, whereas Canada,Israel etc force low prices and competitiveness.

I clarified and responded to both:

Our system is the worst of both worlds in the sense that either a real free market or a real socialized market would be better than the status quo. We spend more money under our mixed, corporatist system and receive worse health outcomes than we would under outright socialized medical care.

That fact is not incompatible with the fact that people from all over the world come to the U.S. for medical tourism. Our system can be great for people with money; not so great for people without it.

As for preexisting condition clauses, without them, health insurance would not be *insurance*. Insurance insures against risk; if you have a preexisting condition, there is no risk, only certainty. You cannot insure against certainty; you can only pay for it outright. Whether the money to pay for preexisting conditions should come from one's own wealth, charity, or forcibly taken away from others through taxes is a separate question, but you can't fault insurance companies for not insuring against certainties. They wouldn't be insurance companies; they would be welfare companies.

At this point, Yitz joined back in:

I just can't see how a real "free market" system (i.e., you pay, you get healthcare, you don't pay, you die) is even palatable to a society. First of all, it literally puts life-and-death powers EXCLUSIVELY in the hands of corporations (you want to talk about death panels? are they better when called 'ROI Assessment Committees'?).

Second of all, let's take swine flu for instance. Relenza, Tamiflu, all the anti-flu antivirals were made available to populations sometimes with heavy government subsidy. A real "free market" system would have set a price per dose, perhaps offered some sort of sale or promotion, but established prices based on "market value". Thousands of people would have died.

This assumption that people are just going to be charitable AND THAT there will be enough voluntarily offered resources TO SUSTAIN THE POPULATION is just not the case. Why would any society CHOOSE to have a percentage of its citizens destitute (health care cost is the #2 reason for bankruptcy) -- and much more prone, therefore, to crime and other social ills?

Scandinavia is right on the money with that. Internet might be a bit much...

I responded:

Yitz, we actually had something very much like a true free market in health care with low costs and widespread accessability, until the government "fixed" it. And it didn't involve corporations at all. The Jewish community was a particularly good example of how such a cooperative system could and did function. See Roderick Long's article here: http://libertariannation.org/a/f12l3.html

A snippet: "In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the primary sources of health care and health insurance for the working poor in Britain, Australia, and the United States was the fraternal society. Fraternal societies (called "friendly societies" in Britain and Australia) were voluntary mutual-aid associations. Their descendants survive among us today in the form of the Shriners, Elks, Masons, and similar organizations, but these no longer play the central role in American life they formerly did. As recently as 1920, over one-quarter of all adult Americans were members of fraternal societies. (The figure was still higher in Britain and Australia.) Fraternal societies were particularly popular among blacks and immigrants. (Indeed, Teddy Roosevelt's famous attack on "hyphenated Americans" was motivated in part by hostility to the immigrants' fraternal societies; he and other Progressives sought to "Americanize" immigrants by making them dependent for support on the democratic state, rather than on their own independent ethnic communities.)"

As for vaccines and other medications, keep in mind that the current system we have is in no way a free market system. A free market does not grant government protected monopolies in the form of patents to drug companies. A free market does not have a single, monopolistic regulatory organization like the FDA that increases the cost of bringing new drugs to market dramatically. If you want someone or something to blame for the outrageous cost of modern pharmaceuticals, don't blame the free market: blame FDA regulation and government-created pharma patents.

Finally, if you don't assume that people care enough about each other to be charitable and voluntarily help each other when they are in need, why in the world would you assume that people would care enough to vote for a workable state socialist system to force themselves to be charitable? Electoral democracy doesn't magically transform selfish people into philanthropic people.

Yitz then wrote:

OK so no patents. So no intellectual property rights? On anything? Where I DO agree with you is that a patent only means "I invented the X. If you create an X, you must give me royalties." MONOPOLIZING the production of X's, however -- it makes me wonder why this isn't ALREADY illegal under anti-trust legislation (Microsoft Internet Explorer locks out competition and it's illegal, Pfizer locks out competition and it's good business?).

Teddy Roosevelt's "famous attack on hyphenated Americans" only stemmed from the "anti-hyphenate" sentiment in America at the time (America was virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Irish) -- this would be most shocking in Woodrow Wilson's administration where the Ambassador to the UK suggested America "shoot our hyphenates". I agree with you in that the Progressives back in the day were extremely pro-assimilationist (as are some Latinos and Asians in the GOP today btw) -- but we know that the civil rights struggle saw a flip of right & left in America.

Why do you think a "free market" situation would benefit America? How would there not be a horribly destitute underclass created, with no recourse and no resources? Why would "free market" 911 services, let's say, not create Hurricane Katrina-esque situations with every natural disaster? Where does "free market" stop?

My most recent comment in response:

No intellectual property rights on anything. There is a long and rich libertarian/classical liberal history of opposition to intellectual property. See: http://praxeology.net/anticopyright.htm

Asking how a free market would benefit America is a great question, and it's the project of left-libertarians to show progressives how and why this is the case, but it's not the sort of case that can best be made in a Facebook comment thread. The best I can do is try to answer specific questions and point to other resources for longer explanations.

I found your formulation of the question jarringly nationalist. I don't think you intended it to be read this way, it's just a habit that we get into when we stop thinking of people as separate persons and start thing of them as mere parts in a collective. (Hence, free-market left-libertarians are individualists.)

The question is not best phrased as how a free market would benefit *America*, but more accurately, how it would benefit *Americans* and non-Americans alike. For markets know no borders, and there is no justifiable reason for us to treat a person lucky enough to be born into a first world country better than a person unfortunately born into an impoverished developing (or regressing) country. Haitians deserve as much of a right to our care and concern as Haitian-Americans. Anything less is a form of bigotry, discrimination on the basis of national origin; i.e. xenophobia.

This is a huge intellectual hole in modern progressive thought: the interplay between the welfare state and non-citizens. As one of my co-bloggers posed the problem,

"Suppose there are two brothers in Nicaragua. Brother A illegally comes to the United States and gets cancer. Brother B stays in Nicaragua and gets cancer. Why should I pay for Brother A's chemo and not Brother B?"
http://distributedrepublic.net/archives/2009/08/21/immigration-and-national-health-care

So to answer your specific question, the free market, and freedom, and morality, stop no where. They should stretch across all of humanity, and perhaps beyond. This is what humanism means.

You mention Hurricane Katrina. It's a terrific example, because it was a disaster only as a direct result of outrageous government mismanagement, which caused the initial flooding, as well as horrible government mismanagement once the levees broke and the government blocked civil society from responding. To take one famous example, Wal-Mart, that corporation so hated by progressives, was a model of decency and efficiency, while the government was a model of chaos and confusion. From a Washing Post article published shortly after the hurricane:

"While state and federal officials have come under harsh criticism for their handling of the storm's aftermath, Wal-Mart is being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees. [...] During a tearful interview on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Aaron F. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs, told host Tim Russert that if "the American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.""

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/05/AR2005090501598.html

And to address your question "How would there not be a horribly destitute underclass created, with no recourse and no resources?", let to me point to my friend Charles Johnson's excellent article, "Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It."

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/scratching-by-how-government-creates-poverty-as-we-know-it/

Far from helping the poor, the government consistently and systematically hinders them. (One need look no further than this country's insane and racist drug policies to confirm that this is the case.)

I should have noted, of course, that Yitz's horror scenario, "a horribly destitute underclass created, with no recourse and no resources" is what we already have now under a democratic, supposedly progressive, corporatist government.


Hey IOZ, this affects all of us man. Our basic freedoms!

You kids must think you're so cool and trendy with your Shakespearean Lebowski. But if there is going to be a genre spoof of perhaps the greatest movie ever made (and I include Citizen Kane in that calculation), then for the love of all things Dude, please make it a porno.


Libertine Constitutional Theory

Speaking of the Framers, this one goes out to all the Constitutionalists out there. Some theories of interpretation argue for original intent, others for original meaning, still others for a living constitution. As a libertine, I follow the naughty interpretation doctrine.


Pursuit Of Happiness

I don't think this is what the Framers had in mind. Possible subject matter for John Papola's next music video? A remix featuring John Locke vs. Thomas Jefferson. Bonus points if he can get Terry O'Quinn to play Locke.


B.O.B.

Kerry Howley once tweeted that she will "start paying attention to the Independent Women's [F]orum when they declare 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)' their official anthem."

This got me thinking: The Weekly Standard needs a theme song too.


Intellectual Privilege and Pharmaceutical Patents

Back when healthcare-debate status signaling/peer pressure was all the rage on the Facebook, Glen Whitman had an insightful comment in response to a call for more government intervention. I can't link directly to the comment because it's on Facebook, but one portion of his response stuck out:

Here's the fact: the vast majority of important medical advances over the last 40 years have been made in the U.S. This is true despite the fact that the EU has a population 50% larger than ours. Why? Well, there are lots of factors. But surely one important factor is monetary compensation; that is, profit. U.S. pharmaceutical sales account for 45% of worldwide pharma sales. The prospect of profit is the incentive for companies to create new products. Other countries, with price controls and supply-based restrictions, contribute much less on a per capita basis. Those countries are, in effect, free-riding on the financial contributions of Americans to medical research.

I have not yet read all of Tom Bell's work on IP (Bell is Glen's co-blogger at Agoraphilia), but I know he is some kind of IP skeptic. How would Tom approach the pharmaceutical innovation argument Glen makes here? After all, patents are a form of government (or at least legal system) granted monopoly. Maybe this form of government intervention is justified on economic efficiency grounds, but maybe it isn't. And it is certainly more difficult -- if not impossible -- to justify government granted monopolies on non-consequentialist, deontological grounds. (So much the worse for deontology, says the consequentialist.)

I'm not sure what pointing out other countries' price controls and free-riding does for Glen's argument. A government granted monopoly is a lot like a price control - monopolies by definition set price by reducing quantity supplied relative to what price and quantity would be under a competitive market.

Further, wouldn't it be in our "national interest" (ugh) to free-ride on other countries' innovations? If our system of government granted monopolies is just as artificial and contrived (and some would argue anti-free-market) as other countries' price controls and supply-based restrictions, what evidence is there to justify the current arrangement? Perhaps if we reduced the financial incentive to innovate by lessening the duration of pharmaceutical patents (to zero?), other countries would be less able to free-ride and have greater incentive to contribute to the global public good of advancing human knowledge and technology.


The Cruelty of U.S. Immigration Policy

Michael Clemens in The Washington Post:

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, one of the principal ways its victims helped themselves was by leaving. Katrina prompted one of the biggest resettlements in American history. Who would have blocked Interstate 10 with armed guards, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to suffer in the disaster zone, no matter how much assistance was coming in from outside? We wouldn't have done that, because it would have made us collectively responsible for their continued suffering. Why then, in the thoughtful debate that has emerged over how best to aid Haiti and help its citizens help themselves, are Americans still quiet about this sinister face of our immigration policy? [...]

We must let more Haitians come here. In fact, it's time to consider an entire new class of immigration -- call it a "golden door" visa, to be issued in limited numbers to people from the poorest countries, such as Haiti. It could be permanent or temporary, but that's less important than its core purpose. Our immigration law has traditionally had three primary goals: reuniting families, supplying employers and protecting refugees. But part of America's greatness is that in letting people come, the nation has pursued a fourth, unwritten goal: extending opportunity to those born in places without it. A golden door visa would simply recognize in law what the United States has done since its founding. [...]

In research I conducted with economists Claudio Montenegro and Lant Pritchett, we compared how much Haitians earn in the United States vs. Haiti. A moderately educated adult male, born and schooled in Haiti, typically enjoys a standard of living more than six times greater in the United States than in his homeland. In other words, U.S. policy wipes out more than 80 percent of a Haitian's earning power when it keeps him from coming to the United States. This affects everything from the food he can buy to the construction materials he can afford. The difference has nothing to do with his ability or effort; it results purely from where he is.


"Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement"

Gotta love me some Benjamin Tucker. Here he makes the same argument against participation in the political process that I made two years ago: Not that political participation is immoral, but that it is illogical when combined with other beliefs.

After laying it down as a principle that force is never justifiable (and, by the way, I cannot accept so absolute a denial of force as this, though I heartily agree that force is futile in almost all circumstances), he goes on as follows: "If it is not justifiable for the establishment and maintenance of government, neither is it justifiable for the overthrow or modification of government...The intellectual and moral process of regeneration is slower than force, but it is right; and when the work is thus done, it has the merit of having been done properly and thoroughly." So far, excellent. But mark the next sentence: "the ballot is the people's agency even for correcting its own evils, and it seems to me a social crime to refrain from its use for regenerative purposes until it is absolutely demonstrated that it is a failure as an instrument for freedom."

Now, what is the ballot? It is neither more nor less than a paper representative of the bayonet, the billy, and the bullet. It is a labor-saving device for ascertaining on which side force lies and bowing to the inevitable. The voice of the majority saves bloodshed, but it is no less the arbitrament of force than is the decree of the most absolute of despots backed by the most powerful of armies. Of course it may be claimed that the struggle to attain to the majority involves an incidental use of intellectual and moral processes; but these influences would exert themselves still more powerfully in other channels if there were no such thing as the ballot, and, when used as subsidiary to the ballot, they represent only a striving for the time when physical force can be substituted for them. Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement. The moment the minority becomes the majority, it ceases to reason and persuade, and begins to command and enforce and punish. If this be true, - and I think that Mr. Pentecost will have difficulty in gainsaying it, - it follows that to use the ballot for the modification of government is to use force for the modification of government; which sequence makes it at once evident that Mr. Pentecost in his conclusion pronounces it a social crime to avoid that course which in his premise he declares unjustifiable.

It behooves Mr. Pentecost to examine this charge of inconsistency carefully, for his answer to it must deeply affect his career. If he finds that it is well-founded, the sincerity of his nature will oblige him to abandon all such political measures as the taxation of land values and the government ownership of banks and railroads and devote himself to Anarchism, which offers not only the goal that he seeks, but confines itself to those purely educational methods of reaching it with which he finds himself in sympathy.

Reason devoted to politics fights for its own dethronement. A phrase so well crafted I'd like to put it on a bumpersticker, if I were a bumpersticker kind of guy, which I'm not.


Glenn Greenwald on Citizens United v. FEC

Campaign finance laws are a bit like gun control statutes: actual criminals continue to possess large stockpiles of weapons, but law-abiding citizens are disarmed.

As they say, read the whole thing.


What are the Left's objections to the free speech argument against campaign finance restrictions?

Jonathan wrote below:

I get the free speech argument; I just don't think anyone left of center buys it.

I think this is true for the most part, but it puzzles me: Why does the left reject the free speech argument against campaign finance restrictions?

A lefty friend of mine wrote as her Facebook status message:

"Big business: +1000000. Democracy and the American people: 0.
Down with corporate personhood!!!!"

and then linked to this Reuters article titled "Landmark Supreme Court ruling allows corporate political cash."

So I understand her objection to be something about corporate personhood. I understand and partially agree with some of the left (often left-libertarian) critiques of corporate personhood, especially the concept of limited liability, which invalidates the notion that all corporations are are simply groups of people pooling their resources together for a common goal. For if this were truly the case, corporate shareholders would be held liable for losses caused by management, just as partners in a legal partnership are held liable for losses caused by their partners. Of course, I understand why courts may not hold shareholders to the same degree of responsibility as partners in a firm, but I can hear reasonable arguments either way.

But none of this dispute has anything to do with the issue of speech. As far as I can tell, the rallying cry "Down with corporate personhood" may nor may not be called for in the case of limited liability, but it surely is not called for in the case of corporate donations to help politicians get elected. After all, even if the legal concept of limited liability were abandoned, people would still get together in groups, and sometimes pool their money together to speak as a single, more powerful voice. How can anyone who supports the concept of free speech object to this?

Here is how I responded to her on Facebook:

A very good ruling my book. Here is a libertarian perspective on the issue: http://reason.com/blog/2010/01/22/obama-bemoans-the-stampede-whi

How is lobbying money spent by political interest groups *not* an example of free speech, deserving First Amendment protection? Just because some lobbyist groups get their money from corporations? So what? Are corporate political donations at all different from, say, gun enthusiasts all getting together and lobbying politicians (the NRA), civil liberties enthusiasts all getting together and lobbying politicians (the ACLU), elderly people all getting together and lobbying politicians (the AARP, or American Association of Retired Persons, which is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States according to Wikipeda)?

A pull quote from the article linked above: "[A]ren't [Democrats who control Congress and the White House] the ones who are inviting a horde of lobbyists to descend upon Washington by aggressively expanding the size and scope of government?"

In other words, the more of the economy the government controls (healthcare, retirement, the auto industry, the financial sector), the more incentive there is for wealthy, powerful people to pool together with others (who are sometimes not so wealthy but numerous) to lobby politicians to direct that portion of the economy in their favor. This creates the classic regulatory capture that public choice economists and political scientists warn about. The only way to get money out of politics is to get politics out of the economy.


The Rights of Racist Basketball Players Are The Rights of Orthodox Jews

"Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play"

A new all-white basketball league is forming, and the commissioner of it (the "All-American Basketball League") is insisting this is not out of racism, but "to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of 'street-ball' played by 'people of color.'...'Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?' he said. 'That's the culture today, and *in a free country* we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.'"

My old friend and former roommate (when we were both attending Yeshiva) Yitz Jordan aka Y-Love had this to say, responding to a recent Reason blog post about a proposed racist whites-only basketball league:

In a "free country" we have the "right" to set up whites-only leagues? I hope the answer to that is a resounding "no"...since when is blatant racism and discrimination an "inalienable right" in America?

Yitz happens to be a black Orthodox Jew, a rarity among the culture. He is politically progressive and significantly more statist than me (a low benchmark for an anarchist, I know). Here is how I responded:

This guy is a racist slimebag, but in a free country he should have the right to try to set up his own exclusive little basketball league for whites only, just as wealthy WASPs should have the right to set up their own exclusive country clubs, just as Orthodox Jews should have the right to set up their own Jewish-only dating websites and mixers.

I think some Rabbi from times of yore had something to say about motes and beams in people's eyes and conditions under which one may cast the first stone. Orthodox Judaism is in no place to question ethnic and racial exclusivity, as it itself is an exclusive religion defined primarily by ethnicity. Not that that's a good thing, mind you, but I fully support the right of Orthodox Jews to have their own exclusive clubs, even if I find it distasteful and offensive.


More Conservative Nostalgia

Since Constant seems unwilling to admit that generic conservative nostalgia for an imaginary past is a real phenomenon, I must turn to the most trusted source in news to settle this dispute once and for all: The Onion.

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

ESCONDIDO, CA—Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.

"Our very way of life is under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. "It's time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are."

According to Mortensen—an otherwise mild-mannered husband, father, and small-business owner—the most serious threat to his fanciful version of the 222-year-old Constitution is the attempt by far-left "traitors" to strip it of its religious foundation.

[...]

Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments."

"And let's not forget that when the Constitution was ratified it brought freedom to every single American," Mortensen said.

And if you think only fake news sources are reporting this phenomenon, think again. Check out the artist Jon McNaughton glorious portrait of Jesus and the Constitution, titled, appropriately, "One Nation Under God."