Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Turns Out I Suck as a "Real" Libertarian

On Bryan Caplan's Libertarian Test...

...I got a 54.

"51-90 points: You are a medium-core libertarian, probably self-consciously so. Your friends probably encourage you to quit talking about your views so much."

I have always been afraid to take the darned thing. (Yes, I know it is old, and lots of you already took it, and hate me for scoring so low).

My friend Betsy Newmark got a 40 (but she is wobbly on fundamentals, as I think we all know).

William Sjostrom got a 72.

When I look at the questions, I can't imagine getting over about a 90. It's just not possible, unless....well, it's just not possible. (The "best" possible score is a 160, so draw your own conclusions).

I agree that government is evil, but like most social scientists (even economists) I think it is a necessary evil.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Finding Consumer Surplus

JMPP speaks truth.

The Thing

My essay on libertarianism, drawing on several of the themes I often write about here, has been posted at EconLib, at Liberty Fund.

Sometimes I wonder what the "state" is. There is this guy, George Bush, who in many ways runs the state, but my statist friends hate him. The state must be something else. It could be Louis XIV, of course, because he said as much "l'Etat, c'est moi!" But my friends don't really think Louis XIV was the ideal form of government. What is the answer? What is the state?

I am proud to say that I have found the state: It is Cherrail Curry-Hagler, of the DC Transit Police.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

I'm From the Government, And I'm Here to Watch You

But you shouldn't be concerned. Because....well, just because.

Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way

ATSRTWT: Bradley Smith's Cnet interview

The nice part? I am moved to song.

We needn't worry,
this I know, for the guvmint tells me so.
We are weak, and it is strong,
and soon to it we'll all belong.

Yes, guvmint loves me, yes, guvmint loves me
Yes, guvmint loves me, the guvmint tells me so.

You think I'm kidding? Here's the money quote:

"People should not be alarmed," said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner.

"Given the impact of the Internet," Ms. Weintraub said, "I think we have to take a look at whether there are aspects of that that ought to be subject to the regulations. But again, I don't want this issue to get overblown. Because I really don't think, at the end of the day, this commission is going to do anything that affects what somebody sitting at home, on their home computer, does."

ATSRTWT: NYTimes story

Nod to the Cap'n...Glad to hear the FM has reported back for duty.

Q-o'-d-w-V: I bet she kept the $$, tho....

"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know." -- Singer Linda Ronstadt

(from John Hawkins' quote list)

The sense of agreement-entitlement, the idea that we should not even have to see or hear views we disagree with, is dangerous. THe following, almost word for word, has happened to me twice at dinner parties in the last few years.

Person: "I don't understand how anyone supports conservatives. They are all stupid. I don't even know anyone who is conservative."

Me: " know me. I'm conservative."

Shocked silence.

Person: "Well, if you are try to impose that kind of control on the conversation, and keep me from even expressing my views...I don't know what to say...I just HATE that kind of intolerance."

I have not the least doubt that many people on the right behave the same way, in reverse. It's just that there AREN'T any of those people in the academy. And those are the people I hang with.

The surprising thing to me is the utter lack of intellectual curiousity. If you encounter someone of at least normal intelligence who holds a view different from your own, wouldn't you want to ask some questions, to try to understand WHY they believe what they do? You can't learn much from people you agree with.

Lenny Bruce, hardly a conservative, had it right when he said, "The liberals can understand everything but people who don't understand them."

That's why one of my favorite people at Duke is Peter Euben. He is an absolute screaming, bend-over-and-moon-the-President, far left liberal. But he comes by my office all the time, and says, "Now, explain this to me...How can you people believe [TOPIC]" and asks a long question.

He always makes me think, and sometimes we figure out that we are just asking different questions. We may not even agree on that. But he is an actual intellectual, interested in the ideas themselves, and convinced that reasonable people CAN disagree.

He isn't such a coward that he has to run away from those who disagree with him. And he isn't such a bully that he has to villify anyone who expresses a minority view. Refreshing.