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Jury Nullification

Representative democracy is a poor substitute for real control over our government. In the battle between power and the people, concentrated interests – politicians and special interests, are at a distinct advantage over the diffuse and disorganized interest of the common citizens. The few protections we have on runaway abuse of political power: checks and balances, courts, constitutions, and elections, serve the majority of the time only as legitimizing spectacles and diversions that consume our activist energies and blunt our horror and fury at the idiocy, rapacity, and bloodthirstiness, of our public officials.

Can any elected representative simultaneously maintain his principles and his political efficacy in the fetid swamps of our national and state capitals? Can a good and honest person even get elected under our current system? Even in the most directly democratic institution in our system, the public referendum, the politicians pick the proposals we vote on and enforce or ignore them largely as they please. States’ rights and federalism? Fine said the Republicans, until the people of California voted to allow the production and distribution of marijuana to sick individuals, then the federal government’s domestic military came down on the peaceful growers and marijuana clubs and rode roughshod over the will of the state electorate.

One institution remains where citizens retain the power as individuals to interpret constitutional law, veto the laws of their legislatures, and reject the actions of their legal system: jury nullification. Jury nullification is the act of a jury judging the law itself, of which a defendant is accused of violating, and rendering a not-guilty verdict based upon its judgment of the law as invalid or unjust. It is a legal right firmly based in common law principals and legal precendent: courts are prohibited from punishing juries for their verdicts and prohibited from retrying acquitted criminal defendants. As a result no juror’s oath is enforceable and a jury’s decision to acquit can not be reversed no matter what judges or prosecutors think the law demands. Our English and American ancestors fought and suffered for these important rights and we should not surrender them. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

If this power is so important and powerful why have most people never heard of it? For obvious reasons our political masters have had reason to fear this legal principal and have continually taken steps to obscure its existence and limit its use. The right of jury nullification is not normally disclosed to jurors in their instructions from the court. Potential jurors who seem too knowledgeable of their rights are unlikely to make it past the jury selection process. Hold-out jurors are often pressured by judges and their fellow jurors " avoid the expense of a hung jury and mistrial."

But the purpose of a trial is not to carry out the will of prosecutors and judges as quickly and efficiently as possible. If it were, jury trial would be a stupid way to go about it. Its purpose is to judge the guilt of the accused by the standards of his peers. Even hung juries send powerful messages to legislatures about problems with the law. All law and government depend, at least, on the passive acquiescence of the ruled. Jury nullification is our most practical legal defense against the runaway power of the police state.

The Fully Informed Jury Association 

Losing industry?

One semi-common comment is that the US, or "the western world", is de-industrializing, or losing industry, or that industry is in decline.

Twofish in a comment to a post at Brad Delong's blog argues that the whole world is de-industrializing.

Actually the reason that industrialization didn't spread in China-19th century is easy to explain. In the early 21st century, we are witnessing a massive worldwide de-industrialization, as capital-intensive industries are being replaced by labor-intensive ones in China.

Look at your shirt. Chances are that it wasn't made in a factory in the Midlands and New England, but rather by hand in China. The reason for this is that China has a lot of people, and this population boom started in the late-1600's.

This idea ignores a couple of important facts.

1 - The value of industrial production in "industrialized western countries" continues to increase.

That data is for the US, but the same idea applies to most industrialized countries.

2 - China (and other developing countries) are industrializing. In China's case at a fairly rapid rate.

Yes China's production methods typically are more labor intensive than those in say the US, but its not like China's export industry consists mostly of purely hand crafted items. Factories are going up or expanding all over China. Yes production in more labor intensive developing countries such as China, is growing faster than production in more developed countries. But since the value of industrial production is increasing in both in China and in the rest of the world, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say the world is losing industrial production.

In the developing countries not just the value but the bulk and weight of industrial products is increasing. (That might also be true for developed countries but I'm not sure where to find the stats, and in any case I consider value to be much more important than weight, why should we feel bad if we switch to lighter and/or smaller products if they are equally or more useful than the old items?)

In one sense developed countries are "de-industrializing", in that less people are required to produce manufactured goods. But that just means productivity has grown, not that we are "losing industry to China", let alone that the world as a whole (including China) is losing industry. This is similar (if so far much smaller than) the decline in agricultural labor in the US. We used to employ a large majority of Americans in agriculture, now less than 2% of Americans are farmers, but they produce much more (not just in terms of real value, but even in terms of tonnage).


Paper Doll World, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

I read the same Times article Scott did this morning and was going to write the following spoof. I sort of feel bad now posting this because it might seem that I'm mocking Scott instead of the intended target. Not bad enough to keep me from posting this, however. Besides I'm sort of with Marvin Minsky on this thanks to Constant.

I found this statement from the Times article laughable:

In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

Here's how I read parts of the article.

"Dr. Nostrom assumes that technological advances could produce paper crafts in the future that simulate entire worlds. The advanced papercrafts of these advanced humans or "posthumans" could run "ancestor simulations" by creating paper worlds inhabited by paper dolls with fully paper craft virtual nervous systems.

If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to make lots of paper simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of paper doll ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors. There would be no way for any of these ancestors to know for sure whether they were virtual or real, because The paper dolls can't tell they are just simulations. But since there would be so many more virtual paper doll ancestors, any individual could figure that the odds made it nearly certain that he or she was living in a paper doll world. The math and the logic are inexorable once you assume that lots of paper cutout simulations are being built."

See, isn't it so obvious this is right. Given these quite reasonable assumptions I think it's a mathematical certainty. It also explains why the World Trade Center went down so easy. ;)

Wet to dry

Athens, Alabama may be bringing back prohibition

Voters have a chance on Tuesday to return this northern Alabama city to the days of Prohibition.

A measure to end the sale of alcohol in Athens is up for a citywide vote, a rare instance where voters could overturn a previous vote to allow sales. Business interests are against repeal, but church leaders who helped organize the petition drive that got the measure on the ballot are asking members to pray and fast in support of a ban.


Gooch isn't worried about the city losing businesses or tax revenues if alcohol sales are banned. Normal economic growth and God will make up any difference if residents dump the bottle, he said.

"We believe that God will honor and bless our city," Gooch said.

While I think the law would be a huge step backwards for the city, at least it's limited to a small locality. Let them suffer the consequences and reap the rewards.

The fact that wine and liquor can't be sold in grocery stores in New York or that alcohol sales were prohibited on Sundays in Massachusetts is different from what the Athens, Alabama government is proposing only by a matter of degree.

Cuban growth under Castro

Movie Critics Aghast at Andy Garcia's The Lost City

by Humberto Fontova

I found the link to that article here

Its a comment to a blog post

that also might be looking at.

The comment quotes Fontova's article, most tellingly with

"In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world."


Another commenter argues against this, mostly with ad-hominem, but he does provide a link

If you follow the chart at that link you see how things in Cuba have supposedly gotten better from 1958 to 1978.

Some responses come to mind.

1 - What about since 1978. Cuba was subsidized by the Soviet Union during the cold war.

2 - Only 5 categories of good and services are considered. Also the harder the category is to measure and put down to one simple number, the larger the difference. Education suppossedly went from 100 to 448. What does that even mean? Health care went from 100 to 202. Again what this means is very unclear. And do you really trust Cuban statistics?

3 - The other three categories, show minimal improvement over a generation. "Food and beverage" goes from 100 to 125, clothing from 100 to 100, housing from 100 to 104. This over a twenty year period where much of the world showed much larger improvements (And that's assuming that these numbers can be said to even measure anything).

The link tries to explain some of the slower areas of growth, or show how the larger areas where performed despite severe handicaps. I'll answer a few of the points.

1. Decline in clothing figures can be explained by the fact that a lot of raw material for the textile industry was imported from the US and needed to be replaced by local inputs, a structural transformation that was long and difficult.

Raw materials for textiles are wildly available on the world market. Lose one supplier and you can buy elsehwere.

2. Lack of growth in housing is because priority for the construction industry was given to building infrastructure, schools and industrial plants.

And the fact that government sets the priorities away from what might be directly useful to many people is somehow a good thing?

3. Gains in health took place despite the fact that 1 out of 3 doctors left Cuba in the first 3 years of the revolution. The infant mortality rate in Cuba, up until the recent economic crisis, was one of the lowest in the developing world.

And I'm sure the Cuban government has NO responsibility for the actions and policies which caused one third of its doctors to leave in just three years...

4. The illiteracy rate in Cuba went from 23.6 percent to 3.9 percent in less than one year."

Normally I try to answer clearly incorrect claims with argument and/or data, but this one's so extreme that perhaps the best answer is simple, BS.

"This was corroborated by UNESCO"

If that's true it reflects rather poorly on UNESCO.


Troubles in the Celestial Kingdom

Chinese toothpaste recalled.  Chinese Elmos recalled.  CEO committs suicide.

Axl, release Chinese Democracy.  A billion people need you!

The "Are you qualified to vote?" test - World History questions

A person can not understand the current world without understanding history. So I am including the following questions in my test. Knowing the answer to these questions is important and also would signal a knowledge of history.

1.What event caused the breakup of the Ottoman empire?  

  • a. WWII
  • b. WWI
  • c. The Crimean War
  • d. The Iranian Revolution
  • e. The Franco-Prussian war

2. What was the outcome of the 'The Great Leap Forward'?

  • a. The Russian Revolution
  • b. The Chinese developing the atomic bomb
  • c. A huge famine
  • d. The invention of the assembly line
  • e. The opening of Japan to western ideas

3. What caused the original split in Islam between the Sunnis and the Shiites?  

  • a. Dispute over who authored the Koran.
  • b. Dispute between residents of Mecca and Medinah
  • c. Dispute over meaning of jihad
  • d. Dispute over who took over after Muhammed's death.
  • e. Dispute over role of women in society

4. The outcome of which of these Civil War Battles is considered most strategically important?  

  • a. Cold Harbor
  • b. Vicksburg
  • c. Shiloh
  • d. Fredricksburg
  • e. Wilderness

5. The seige of what city is considered the turning point on the eastern front of WWII?  

  • a. Stalingrad
  • b. Leningrad
  • c. Volgograd
  • d. Moscow
  • e. Minsk

6. What foreign country was the source of the most support to the US during the American revolution?  

  • a. Russia
  • b. Spain
  • c. England
  • d. Germany
  • e. France

I think they are clearly worded and fair, but what do you think?

Cultural gender imbalance

Dave comments on "liberal eugenics" about the issues of being able to chose the sex of one's children.

Currently we use "biological planning", but what would market production of babies be? Assume everyone could chose the sex of their children.

As a marxist would put it, it is men's "gender interest" to produce women and women's interest to produce men... indeed theoretically more women than men benefits men whose value increase and vice versa. Not quite true. First of all, it seems that wanting to produce men is a general bias... if cultures are patriarchal (gosh now I sound marxist AND feminist), it is indeed an evolutionnary advantage to breed boys that will spread your culture. Second, it seems that in societies with a deficit of women, rather than women's value increasing women tend to be treated more like commodity... if the women are no self-owners their scarcity is more of a curse. It is possible that with increased gender imbalance these tendencies invert, but it is also possible to imagine that the majoritarian gender gets power and control thus creating an incentive to increase the imbalance.

These arguments ignore the multiplicity of cultures, and surely different culture would have different gender ratios. Which culture would be at a reproductive - hence cultural - advantage thereby spreading this ratio? My guess is that it would be a polygynous society. There are two reasons for this.

- Biologicaly eggs are the limiting reagent not sperm, it is currently a waste to raise so many males
- Less men and more women means less deadly competition among males. Since males are naturally more violent is is more efficient than the opposite.

Why didn't such a ratio evolve biologically? Well it may give a specie an advtange over another specie but it does not give a reproductive advantage to an individual within a given specie. If I live in a 50/50 society, having more daughters will not guarantee me more grandchildren therefore the mutation is lost.

In the distant futures, with biotechs, we might live in such a society (but let's not be utopians).

Impoverished world

Randy brings up the hypothetical question first asked by Bryan Caplan, “How Would the World Change If Everyone Shared Your Factual Beliefs?” Randy points out that factual beliefs are not enough that he would also need to change peoples values. Well what if we changed the question to include values. I’ll answer for myself.

If everyone shared my factual beliefs and values then in many ways the world would be better. However in other ways we would live in an impoverished world. There would be no sports stadiums, no disco, no boxing, no dancing, no cosmetics, no more foreign languages, no native cultures except my own, etc,

I value using many things that I don’t actually value producing as much as others. So assuming everyone’s talents stayed the same certain goods would be produced less and the salaries would have to rise to compensate. However it’s clear that I’m not willing to pay more for those things. I’m not particularly fond of producing music because I don’t value it as highly as other activities. Yet I don’t mind listening to it when it’s free. So I benefit in many ways from things I don’t currently pay for that it seems just would cease to be produced in this new utopia.

Of course, I’m not sure my values wouldn’t change given different talents. If I were not so good at math and science I might value them less. So I’m not exactly sure what values should be considered universally identical to my current values given this hypothetical. If I was real good at dance and couldn’t think my way out of a wet paper bag would I really value math and science so much? I doubt it. Would I bother to obtain all the “facts” I know? I doubt that too. I think such a world of people with varying talents sharing all my factual beliefs and values is an impossibility.

So long as we have different talents we will have different factual beliefs and values. I wouldn’t sacrifice the former to obtain the latter either. The efficiency of division of labor depends on our differing talents. Without our differences we would indeed suffer and impoverished world.

Otherwise, like the other guy, I think this is mental masturbation. Although I’m not the kind of guy to criticize other people’s leisure activities because I’m not certain that this kind of discussion won’t produce an interesting thought.

Political Theory 101, or Little Known Facts About the Social Contract

I was reading TPMCafe yesterday when I stumbled across this short little post from Greg Anrig, Jr. I was moved to write about it largely because I found it so very surprising. Anrig, over the space of just a few paragraphs, makes two political theory-ish claims that I’d never heard before. I was so shocked to realize how badly I’d misunderstood some of the basic principles of government and of foreign policy that I just had to bring it to everyone else’s attention, too. Anrig’s post, initially bearing the provocative title “Actually, It Is Terrorism,” takes conservatives to task for refusing to provide funding to shore up the nation’s aging infrastructure. I guess that the implication is supposed to be that opposing highway funds constitutes an act of terrorism. I had no idea, really. I mean, at first I was looking around for some DHS people to send after Ron Paul. But then when I checked Anrig’s post later, I saw that he’d changed the title to, “Actually, It’s A Lot Like Terrorism.” So I'm guessing that Rep. Paul will probably be spared a trip to Gitmo.

Still, I thought that maybe I should look into this whole terrorism business a bit more. I mean, I didn’t realize that opposing the Department of Highways might make one a terrorist (or even a lot like a terrorist), so I figured that I should maybe find out what other things might make me almost a terrorist. So I started by looking for a definition of terrorism. Turns out, the U.S. State Department uses the term “terrorism” to mean

premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

Now to be fair, I found several people who didn’t much like this definition, but most of that disagreement seemed to center around the issue of whether or not to restrict terrorism to “subnational groups or clandestive agents.” Pretty much everyone, however, seemed in agreement that terrorism has to be premeditated and politically motivated. That left me puzzled, since it’s not at all clear to me that any of the evil conservatives out there actually plotted to blow up a bridge.

My instinct is to ask Anrig to maybe lay off the old everything-bad-is-really-like-terrorism line. And possibly to suggest that such comparisons (a) provide far more heat than light, while (b) rendering the previously useful term “terrorism” meaningless by turning it into a synonym for “bad.” Plus, it's just confusing; apparently he didn't get the memo that that's a Republican strategy.

But, as if the whole terrorism thing confusing enough, Anrig goes on to offer an opinion on basic political theory:

Making us less vulnerable to sudden, out-of-the-blue preventable disasters is the job of government.

Really? Now I’ll admit that I’m no Century Foundation scholar, and it has been a while since I engaged with the political theory thing, but I honestly couldn’t recall ever reading anything about the function of government being to prevent sudden, out-of-the-blue disasters. I remember a lot of stuff about tyranny and liberty and individual freedom, but really not so much about preventable disaster. Still, I figured that maybe I’d just forgotten. I mean, Locke says a lot of stuff; maybe it was all just buried somewhere.

The responsible thing to do, obviously, would be to re-read all the core texts in political theory. Leviathan, The Second Treatise, and On Liberty for starters, with maybe some Jefferson and Madison thrown in for good measure. That plan, I quickly surmised, had a rather serious flaw: it’s an assload of reading, and I’m fairly lazy. So I cheated. Using a nifty little online copy of Locke’s Second Treatise, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, I searched for “preventable disasters.”

Alas, much to my surprise, I found no such thing. Which is really puzzling, what with Anrig being a scholar and all. Nothing at all about preventing disasters. Just a lot of stuff about protecting individuals from the tyranny of the state. Very strange. I guess I’ll have to keep searching. Anybody know where there's a searchable copy of A Theory of Justice?

Liberal Eugenics

A little behind the power curve on this one, but...shorter Ross Douthat:

  1. Eugenicists support the use of abortion as a way of eliminating debilitating but non-life-threatening characteristics like Tay Sachs or Downs Syndrome from the human race.
  2. Some would-be parents choose to abort fetuses that have debilitating
    but non-life-threatening characteristics like Tay Sachs or Downs
  3. Liberals support the rights of parents to choose to abort fetuses that
    have debilitating but non-life-threatening characteristics like Tay
    Sachs or Downs Syndrome.
  4. Thus liberals are modern eugenicists.

Plenty of people have jumped all over Douthat for this argument. But I’ve yet to see anyone point out the real fundamental problem. Namely, that for all his pointing to famous people who say similar things, Douthat’s simple little argument manages to contain two fallacies in its four short steps.

First, notice that (1) deals with a claim about abortion’s usefulness as a way of perfecting the human race, whereas (2) and (3) deal with a claim about an individual parent’s decision about a specific child. To make parents' decisions about abortion (and hence also liberals’ support of those decisions) parallel the eugenicist, Douthat would need an additional premise, namely something like

2a. Parents who choose to abort fetuses that have debilitating but non-life-threatening characteristics like Tay Sachs or Downs Syndrome are really acting in such a way as to eliminate these debilitating characteristics from the human race.

And (3) would accordingly be altered as

3’. Liberals support parents who choose to abort fetuses that have debilitating but non-life-threatening characteristics like Tay Sachs or Downs Syndrome are really acting in such a way as to eliminate these debilitating characteristics from the human race.

The problem, of course, is that (2a) doesn’t in fact follow from (2). Indeed, it’s an instance of a composition fallacy. It’s the claim that because A has a particular view about one specific human being, then A holds that same view about the human race as a whole.

Though properly speaking, I suppose I should say that the fact that the amended argument relies on a composition fallacy is a problem, as there’s still another to go along with it. Douthat’s conclusion is, one presumes, supposed to follow from (1) and (3’). The problem? Well, the argument has the form

A believes X
B believes X
Therefore A is B

That, however, is what logicians like to call the fallacy of the undistributed middle.

So can we please stop complaining about whether or not Douthat has conflated liberals with old-style progressives and whatnot? Indeed, I think it should be a firm principle of blogging that any post that contains as many fallacies as it does inferences really ought to just wither away into unlinked and unremarked-upon obscurity.

In Which the NY Times Ignores Asian Americans

You know how black students who do well in school are accused of "acting white"?  Mary Bucholtz, a linguist at UC Santa Barbara, has devoted her career to promoting that stereotype, and the NY Times thinks she's tops!

By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white. Bucholtz sees something to admire here. In declining to appropriate African-American youth culture, thereby “refusing to exercise the racial privilege upon which white youth cultures are founded,” she writes, nerds may even be viewed as “traitors to whiteness.” You might say they know that a culture based on theft is a culture not worth having.

So white youth culture is defined by its "theft" of black youth culture?  Those who decline to imitate the latter are actually rejecting the former?  To adopt aspects of a foreign culture is to transgress against it? See, this is why I never really got into linguistics.

Voting somewhat rationally-my solution

A couple of weeks ago I attended a book forum for Bryan Caplan's book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, at the CATO institute. I had thought the CATO institute was a libertarian think tank but found out otherwise when they served a free luncheon after the forum. During the Q&A after Caplan's presentation I asked if it was possible for layman to know how to vote for a rational economic policy without putting in the time and trouble to become an expert in economics. His reply was bascially," No, only PhDs in economics should vote." I have been thinking it over since then and have come up with a way to make voting somewhat more rational.

 My first thought was that even if I did get a PhD in economics I would not be a qualified voter. There is much more to government than economic policy. There is criminal justice, education, foreign policy, social policy, etc.. So to be a qualified voter one would need degrees in constitutional law, sociology, and international relations. The only qualified voters would be professional students and the actual productive people in society would be out of luck.

My second thought was to rely on specialization. It works so well in the rest of the economy. If I want a rational opinion on my health I go to a doctor who has studied for years so I don't have to. I could pick an expert in economics, foreign policy, and domestic policy and vote the way they do. The problem with this is how do I know who is an expert. For economic policy should I rely on Paul Krugman or Greg Mankiw? Tyler Cowen or Brad Delong? I know who I like amongst those, but I really don't know who is a better economist. To really know I would have to become an expert myself which would defeat the purpose of relying on an expert.

The way around this would be to use specialization and aggregation. Rely on surveys of experts on particular topics. Caplan used one such survey in writing his book. There should be a Rotten Tomatoes type of index for experts in public policy where various expert opinions on topics are collected and policy initiatives are given ratings depending on the level of expert support. The problem with this approach is that, to my knowledge, no such sites exist and surveys such as the one Caplan used are rare.

After rejecting all these approaches I went back to Caplan's presentation. He breaks down the populace into three categories; economists, enlightened laity, population at large. Economists have the most correct views on the economy but almost as good was the enlightened laity. They have much less biased and more rational views on the economy. If only the enlightened laity voted, candidates supporting better economic policies would be elected. Probably not as good as if only economists voted but an incremental improvement, which I believe are the best kind. (See previous posts for an explanation why). I think I am an enlightened voter, my standardized test scores were always in the top 5% and I got all the answers correct on the Pew Research Centers quiz on current events the last time I took it.

However, I am probably not the best judge of my own political rationality. After all the guy I met at Home Depot who was convinced the draft was going to be reinstated just after the 2004 election if Bush won, and my friend who is convinced that corporations have way too much power, both are convinced of their own rationality. What is needed is an objective standard for who is and is not a member of the enlightened laity. The most common and easy to measure objective standard is a test. There needs to be a test that will tell you if you are a member of the enlightened laity and should vote. Since I am not aware of the existence of such a test, I am going to create one. The question is what should go on this test? I am looking for multiple choice questions on history, current events, economics, etc. Leave any ideas in the comments and I will create a test that will tell people if they should be voting or not.

Race to the bottom in tax policy

From Instapundit, Eastern Europe knows where it's at.

Why don't we see more of this?  Is this a trend or just a couple of data points?  What does the future hold?

Do targeted tax breaks give you more choice?

Constant and I have been having a debate in the comments entry to a prior post.

His most recent reply argued that targeted tax cuts give you more choices, because you have an option to do what the government wants and so pay the government less.

In a certain narrow sense this is true. If you don't have the tax break you don't have the possibility of taking advantage of the tax break. But tax breaks don't exist in such splendid isolation. They are part of a larger tax code, and the break itself has effects beyond just the effects on the person who can take advantage of it.

You can say that a targeted tax break is giving you the option to do X and get some benefit from the government. But its just as reasonable to look at the whole picture and say that such targeted tax break is not a break but rather a penalty for not doing what the government wants.

True you don't have a simple one for one situation where imposing tax break X will cause rates to increase, or getting rid of tax break Y will cause rates to decrease, but there is a connection between the two. If you have a high number of targeted tax breaks you are likely to have higher tax rates (then you would otherwise have had).

Instead of looking at the choice to eliminate one specific highly targeted tax break or keep it in place, imagine instead the hypothetical where there is a proposal for an extra hundred thousand targeted tax breaks? Is it really wrong or "anti-libertarian" to oppose the plan? I don't think so. Such a plan is a mess, and will cause more harm then good. Its likely to result in higher base rates for taxes (absent a reduction in spending), and the higher base rates are not the only source of harm from the proposal.

Looking at such a huge plan its obvious that you have an attempt on the part of politicians to control society. Giving politicians that additional control is a harmful. Its harmful because it distorts incentives and gives less efficient results, but its harm extends beyond that. I submit its intrinsically harmful. Even if the politicians could and did make choices for people that where better then the choices they would make for themselves (and in general terms that will never be the case), greater power in the hands of politicians is harmful to freedom. That's still true even when the power can be expressed as giving people more choices.

What's true for the huge proposal is also true, on a smaller scale for individual targeted tax breaks. They allow greater government/political control.

When you combine the harm to freedom from that greater control, with the practical harm caused by compliance costs and the fact that these political decisions often provide perverse incentives and lower efficiency; its obvious that a complex tax code full of such targeted breaks is hardly something libertarians should be supporting.