October 2006

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Mid-Term Congressional Elections 

I have no expectation of influencing the balance of power in the U.S. Congress either with my vote or my blog writing.

And, while I agree with many that the Republicans don't deserve to retain power, I don't think the Democrats deserve to gain it, either.

So, what I'm wondering about is: What outcome I should be hoping for? What outcome will lead to the best long-term prospects for liberty and progress?

If the Democrats gain a majority, we might have gridlock (if Bush is willing to use his veto to override bad Democratic laws), and perhaps they won't force horrible national security policies, and we might be better off in the short term.

But what about the longer term?

How will the outcome (either way) affect the behavior of future Republicans? Of future Democrats? How will it affect the 2008 elections? Is it predictable? Does it matter?

I'm not sure about any of this.

My hunch is that it probably won't matter as much for us as many would have us believe. I suspect that other variables will swamp this outcome in terms of shaping the future.

So, I'll probably just remain amused by the show rather than concerned about the dire consequences for civilization.

Let me know if you have a different theory, though.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sex and Violence and Paternalism 

I admit it.

My heart is warmed a little by the study reports that Glen Whitman relayed recently:

Two studies to warm libertarian hearts:
David Friedman reports on a study showing that increased availability of pornography (specifically via the internet) decreases the incidence of rape.
And Tyler Cowen links to a study showing that violent movies decrease the incidence of violent crime.

Mostly, I'm happy about these results because they partially take away the most powerful-sounding arguments for regulating access to these things. And, it's nice to see another case where increased liberty correlates with better results. But, my opposition to such regulations doesn't depend on these results. I would oppose such regulations even if studies showed a correlation with worse results.

I'm a libertarian because I value human flourishing, and in my opinion the nature of human beings is such that they do best when they have autonomy; when they're free to think and act and communicate however they choose (so long as they don't infringe on others' ability to do likewise).

I know that people will make mistakes, and poor choices, and get hurt by actions that they take that might have been avoided by limiting their autonomy. But, I'm confident that, in the long run, people are better off with the freedom to make those poor choices than by institutionalizing having other people make (often poor) choices for them.

Anyone can choose to let someone else make choices for him. For some people, in some limited domains, that's probably wise.

What's vitally important, though, is that we can choose for ourselves as well.


Friday, October 06, 2006

SQUARED, Dammit! 

I love the Straight Outta Lynwood album, but I just can't seem to get past one thing.

In Pancreas, Al sings: "My pancreas attracts every other pancreas in the universe with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them."

And, he doesn't go on to sing: "squared". What's up with that?

I'm hoping that this is just Al trolling his nerdy fans to see if they'll bite. Otherwise, it's a pretty severe disappointiment.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Disingenuousness Unbound 

Over at Cato Unbound today there is an article by Daily Kos' (sorry, no link from me) Markos Moulitsas making The Case for the Libertarian Democrat.

I'm far from convinced.

Yes, the Republicans have proven incapable of living up to their libertarian rhetoric. And, there's a case to be made that libertarianism would be helped by shifting the congressional majority to the Democrats because then we'd have some gridlock to slow down the damage.

But, does anybody with a brain buy the idea that there's a real phenomenon in the Democratic Party that libertarians can identify with and support?

Libertarianism is about individual autonomy and property rights. The Democratic Party is still hostile to these things.

Yes, they oppose some of the unlibertarian projects of the Republicans (like anti-gay and anti-flag-burning amendments to the constitution), but it's not because they have libertarian values. It's just that they have a different unlibertarian agenda. They want to soak the rich, kill Wal*Mart, regulate economic activity, prohibit risky behavior, seize guns, socialize everything, etc.

Do we hear Democrats talking about reducing (non-military) spending, reducing the tax burden on everyone, allowing the free market to operate in areas where government programs and regulations are manifestly failing?

I don't.

If Moulitsas wants to garner votes from libertarians, I think he would have been better off if he'd appealed to the tactical value of splitting the power between the branches. I suspect that trying to sell this load will backfire, and only serve to remind libertarians of what a bunch of lying weasels many Democrats are, and what vile instincts they appeal to.