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Markets in Everything

Following in Tyler Cowen's footsteps, I'm pleased to to bring you Imaginary Girlfriends:

Enemy of the Good

What is the purpose of Social Security? The best way to determine its purpose is to figure out why so many people continue to support the program and object to its elimination.

The stated purpose of Social Security is to provide retirement benefits to elderly Americans. But why do we need such a program? Why not simply let people choose for themselves how much they want to save for retirement? Clearly, the stated purpose is not enough to explain the phenomenon- there must be another reason. Read more »

Socialist Dear Abby

I'll Take SWORDS for 500

From the department of "I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried" comes this news article from Australia:

Swords will come under tough new controls from July as the State Government cracks down on violence.

Anyone with a sword in their home will have three options: sell it to a licensed dealer, hand it in to police, or apply to police for permission to keep it as a collector.

Ingesting Pesticides

Qiwi's post below reminds of a discussion I had in my Ethical Theories course a few weeks ago. Read more »

You Gotta Fight / For Your Right / To <del>Party</del> Vote!

Here are two articles on the same topic, from Hit and Run and the Lew Rockwell blog respectively: Read more »

Unintended Graphical Consequences

What with his frequent fawning over Nabokov and his willingness to question child pornography laws, this one's for you, Will Baude:


Limits of the Welfare State

It's easy for cold, calculating libertarians to advocate privatizing Social Security and welfare, but at a certain point, even I have to say enough is enough. Is nothing sacred anymore? What does it say about a society which is unwilling to provide even the most basic need to one of its members? This just pulls at my heartstrings:

The Macho Flash

Bryan Caplan's "Libertarian Purity Test" has been revived and is making its way around the blogosphe Read more »

I am a... Typical Democrat

Apparently, I "hate the 'idea' of Starbucks, but go often, [I] consider the New York Times [my] bible and generally think less of people from the South. Live him or hate him, [I'm] voting for John Kerry."

See how you fare on the "Useful Voter Guide: Are You A Democrat Or A Republican?"

[via Wonkette]

Anarchy, Utopia, and Lifeboat Ethics

Sasha Volokh has an excellent response to the utopian criticism of libertarianism, which Jonathan and I have already discussed. Sasha writes,

Bob Barr

I first met Bob Barr a few weeks ago at a meeting held by the College Republicans at Georgia Tech. He seemed reasonable enough: very big on civil liberties and wary of the dangers of giving the government more power over our lives in the name of security. I'm not quite sure how that fits in with his unwavering support for the War on Drugs, or his opposition to gay marriage, but he is definitely preferable to many of the other Republican politicians. Read more »

It's a Small World

Did you know that Friedrich von Hayek, Austrian economist, political philosopher, and legal and psychological theorist extraordinaire was also the cousin of Ludwig Wittgenstein, considered by many to be greatest philosopher of the 20th century? Read more »

Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!

Via Julian Sanchez comes this amusing quote by Max Sawicky:

Under Capitalism, it's Government and Law that render pieces of paper legally enforceable claims to wealth. Your little savings account book, your stock certificate, or your bond are worth something because the government makes it so. It is government that enforces contracts. For the same reason the [Social Security] Trust Funds are real.

Mark Steyn Needs a Fact Checker

Mark Steyn, in an op-ed I generally agree with, criticizes Benyamin Cohen, editor of the online publication Jewsweek, for his immediate reaction after seeing The Passion of the Christ. [Full disclosure: I am an occasional columnist for Jewsweek and close friends with Cohen and his wife.] Read more »