Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Now why would they want that?

I asked for silly Reason articles, and here's a doozy:

Hands Off Hitler! It's time to repeal Godwin's Law by David Weigel.

Now, Godwin's Law has several interpretations:
(1) If a discussion goes on long enough, EVENTUALLY a Hitler/Nazi analogy will be made.
(2) An observation that when a Hitler/Nazi analogy is invoked, meaningful argument is over.

Since the invention and popularization of Godwin's Law, libertarians feel hobbled when they want to lump all their opponents with Nazis and Hitler. The propaganda and hyperbole don't work when they can be so easily ridiculed with a pithy invocation of the words "Godwin's Law".

Now, Weigel assembles a well-documented pseudo-intellectual argument for "repeal" of Godwin's Law, exploring special cases, history, and persecution when this victimless crime is committed. Why pseudo-intellectual? Well, how can you respond to howlers such as "Thus, despite all efforts at regulation, the market has repeatedly decided in favor of the N[azi]-bomb." What regulation? What market? If anything, you'd expect a libertarian to claim this is an example that should be in Ellickson's book "Order Without Law". Here we have a social institution that has developed without government and without markets. Without markets? Libertarian heresy! There must be a way to purchase the institution!

Evidently Weigel misses the corollary to freedom of speech that others are free to laugh at you for whatever reason. Knowing that others will punish you with derision must make him feel unfree. Poor baby. If only propaganda was easy, and you could always simply tarbrush your opponents without anybody understanding how they were being manipulated!

"We'll be better off rolling back Godwin's Law and admitting the all-purpose usefulness of Nazi analogies. It's exactly what the Germans wouldn't want." Ah, and here we have the ultimate justification. Stick it to the Germans! Wow, what a lot of intellectual traction THAT argument has!

I think Reason Magazine should be more properly named Prejudice Magazine. The article-writing process is rather obvious: start with the conclusion and bend facts, history, and argument until your point is "supported". A dark ages scholastic approach. About the only nice thing I can say about Weigel is that he's far from the only one at Reason who writes this way.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Extreme cases.

I saw this over at Marginal Revolution and just had to laugh.

Imagine the extreme case -- a 100% income tax. No matter how much you make, you actually receive nothing. Therefore, no one works. Result: 100% unemployment and GDP=0.
Obviously, smaller taxes will have less extreme effects. But increasing a tax can surely make a recession worse.
Posted by: Robert A. Book at Jul 7, 2009 12:47:48 PM

I love the world of economics. Imagine the extreme case--no taxes. Assuming we weren't taken over by some other country, we would have no army, a fragmented system of private toll roads, unlimited immigration, warlord armies fighting over territories. Kind of like Somalia. Obviously this proves the more taxes the better, and that taxes will make everything better.
Posted by: es32 at Jul 7, 2009 1:33:11 PM