- I'm adding some indexes as I think of them. I have started adding some quotations as well.
- Most of the indexes simply have a brief explication of their purpose. Later on I intend to flesh them out with better descriptions.
- I welcome comments, criticisms, suggestions, etc.
- NEW 1/16/2012: Seven principles for arguing with economists [More...]
- Some of the more common fallacious economics arguments, and how to counter them. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Anarchy, State, and Utopia
- Robert Nozick has written the most academically important attempt at libertarian philosophy. It is rife with fallacies, misdirection and unstated assumptions. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: The Road to Serfdom
- Friedrich von Hayek's comically failed prediction of the coming totalitarian socialist state in western nations. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Discussion Questions For "Free To Choose" [More...]
- Brad DeLong's guide to understanding Free To Choose through questions, the second assignment in his Spring 2012 Econ 1 course at UC Berkeley. The overview points out the skewed idea of freedom being used. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Atlas Shrugged
- Ayn Rand's horribly written young-adult fiction. A grotesque self-parody. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Free To Choose
- Milton Friedman and Rose Director Friedman's major propaganda success for market-based everything. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Fundamental Libertarian Books
- A few popular books do the heavy lifting for libertarian ideology: bringing the most recruits, popularizing the ideas and providing critiques of mainstream ideas. They are all severely flawed. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: Cato Institute - SourceWatch [More...]
- A detailed report on the policy positions, funders, and funding of other "like-minded" think tanks. A great place to start. [more...]
- NEW 1/14/2012: SourceWatch [More...]
- SourceWatch profiles the activities of front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, industry-funded organizations, and think tanks trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations or government. One of the Center for Media and Democracy projects. [more...]
- NEW 1/12/2012: Brief insights into the libertarian mind [More...]
- Freddie deBoer writes: "... the central analytical failure of libertarianism as a worldview: a total and disqualifying inability to measure or account for power as it exists in the real world." [more...]
- NEW 1/12/2012: Real World Power
- Libertarians like to attribute all power to demon government, but refuse to face any other sort of oppressive power. [more...]
- NEW 1/08/2012: The Con Job of Libertarian "Economics" [More...]
- A brief and clear presentation of the major failings of Austrian Economics. [more...]
Most Recent Quotations
There are two novels that can transform a bookish fourteen-year-old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs. *
Raj Patel, "The Value Of Nothing" p. 172.
Here are some not-standardly-libertarian things I believe: Non-coercion fails to capture all, maybe even most, of what it means to be free. Taxation is often necessary and legitimate. The modern nation-state has been, on the whole, good for humanity. (See Steven Pinker’s new book.) Democracy is about as good as it gets. The institutions of modern capitalism are contingent arrangements that cannot be justified by an appeal to the value of liberty construed as non-interference. The specification of the legal rights that structure real-world markets have profound distributive consequences, and those are far from irrelevant to the justification of those rights. I could go on. *
Will Wikinson, "Why I’m Not a Bleeding-Heart Libertarian"
Liberalism is not so foolish as to aim at the abolition of the state. Liberals fully recognize that no social coöperation and no civilization could exist without some amount of compulsion and coercion. It is the task of government to protect the social system against the attacks of those who plan actions detrimental to its maintenance and operation. *
Ludwig von Mises, "Omnipotent Government"
Government may even be called the most beneficial of all earthly institutions as without it no peaceful human cooperation, no civilization, and no moral life would be possible. *
Ludwig von Mises, "Economic Freedom and Interventionism"
Extreme laissez faire capitalism of the kind extolled off and on over the past two centuries, and increasingly preached by economists, financiers and conservative thinkers over the past four decades, is a perverse distortion of human nature, foisted upon us by cold and demented thinkers captivated by inhuman notions of efficiency and domination. In the end, it is a system that reduces each human being to an object whose value is nothing beyond what it is worth in the market. We need to restore a social balance, in which private property, entrepreneurialism and commercial activity do not dominate our lives and set all the rules for our existence, but function within a democratic social order framed by a politically coherent and effective commitment to the public good. In a democratic social order there exists an activist public sector controlling a substantial store of social goods, and channeling democratic energies and intelligence into the ambitious perfection of such goods. *
Dan Kervick, "Public Money for Public Purpose: Toward the End of Plutocracy and the Triumph of Democracy – Part VI"
[...] the failure of the market to insure against uncertainties has created many social institutions in which the usual assumptions of the market are to some extent contradicted. The medical profession is only one example, though in many respects an extreme one. All professions share some of the same properties. The economic importance of personal and especially family relationships, though declining, is by no means trivial in the most advanced economies; it is based on non-market relations that create guarantees of behavior which would otherwise be afflicted with excessive uncertainty. Many other examples can be given. The logic and limitations of ideal competitive behavior under uncertainty force us to recognize the incomplete description of reality supplied by the impersonal price system. *
Kenneth Arrow, "Uncertainty And The Welfare Economics Of Medical Care"
On Hayek… in my view, there are four Hayeks, one good, and three of varying degrees of badness:
- The good Hayek of the price system as a discovery and information transmission mechanism, of the importance of entrepreneurship, and of private property and the rechstaat as guarantees of individual liberty.
- The bad Hayek who prefers Augusto Pinochet to Helmut Schmidt.
- The worse Hayek who had his head completely up his posterior on economic policy during the Great Depression.
- The worst-of-all Hayek. The one who when Keynes praises the Road to Serfdom and pronounces himself in "not just agreement, but deeply moved agreement with it" responds "no you are not!" *
Brad DeLong, "Daniel Kuehn: Maynard, Fred, Gus and Ralph on the History of Macroeconomics".
... I think the Austrian business-cycle theory has done the world a great deal of harm. If you go back to the 1930s, which is a key point, here you had the Austrians sitting in London, Hayek and Lionel Robbins, and saying you just have to let the bottom drop out of the world. You’ve just got to let it cure itself. You can’t do anything about it. You will only make it worse. You have Rothbard saying it was a great mistake not to let the whole banking system collapse. I think by encouraging that kind of do-nothing policy both in Britain and the United States, they did harm. *
Milton Friedman, interviewed in Barron's (August 24, 1998)
Medicare has its problems -- but all the evidence says that it is substantially more cost-effective than private insurance. Partly this is because it has lower administrative costs; partly it’s because Medicare is able to use its market power to negotiate lower prices. And the international evidence is overwhelming: single-payer systems are much cheaper than systems centered on private insurance. *
Paul Krugman, Joe Lieberman’s Plan to Make Health Care Worse and More Expensive
Consider four marvels of our age -- science, democracy, the justice system and fair markets. In each case the participants (scientists, litigants, politicians and capitalists) are driven by selfish goals. That won't change; not till we redefine human nature. But for years, rules have been fine-tuned in each of these fields of endeavor, to reduce cheating and let quality or truth win much of the time. By harnessing human competitiveness, instead of suppressing it, these "accountability arenas" nourished much of our unprecedented wealth and freedom. The four arenas aren't always fair or efficient! A good theory, law or commercial product may flounder, or else face many trials before prevailing. But remember that organic systems needn't be efficient, only robust. Likewise, our core institutions have to keep functioning despite individual incompetence, or the most everlasting human temptation-- to cheat. In achieving this, the four old accountability arenas have done pretty well by us, so far. *
David Brin, Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competitiveness for Society's Benefit
So what is it that differentiates the writing of Rand from those of classic academics and professional philosophers? It is simply that her work has every appearance of an extended and multi-faceted straw man argument that fails to meet even the minimum standards of scholarship. It has all the marks of what in science would be pseudo-science. If there is such a thing as pseudo-philosophy, this is it. *
Gary Merrill, Rand’s work: style and quality
How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of the negroes? *
Samuel Johnson, Taxation No Tyranny
On the natural interpretation, shared by everyone in mainstream economics from Samuelson to Stigler, this book [ The Road to Serfdom ], which argued that the policies advocated by the British Labour Party in 1944 would lead to a totalitarian dictatorship, was a piece of misprediction comparable to Glassman and Hassett's Dow 36000. So what is going on in the minds of the buyers? Are they crazy? Do they actually think that Hayek was proven right after all? Is there a defensible interpretation of Hayek that makes sense? The answers are "Yes", "Yes" and "No". *
John Quiggan, Hayek's Zombie Idea
[...] in Ayn Rand’s world, a man who self-righteously instigates the collapse of society, thereby inevitably killing millions if not billions of people, is portrayed as a messiah figure rather than as a genocidal prick, which is what he’d be anywhere else. Yes, he’s a genocidal prick with excellent engineering skills. Good for him. He’s still a genocidal prick. *
John Scalzi, What I Think About Atlas Shrugged
Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. *
John Scalzi, What I Think About Atlas Shrugged