2012-12-08 01:11 am (UTC)
The site isn't readable using Chromium on Ubuntu (a friend also confirmed this) -- one of the images is oddly stretched across the whole page. However, it works using Firefox.
I think it was a problem with using the IMAGE HEIGHT="X%" tag. Should be fixed now. Thanks for the warning.
This (both versions) is literally one of my favorite pieces of writing. Thanks!
A few comments:
I confess to being disappointed that you don't give out the real answers to 4.2; I thought the "Are you? No." section in version 1 was brilliant.
"So there is literally no benefit to spending the money on fighting terrorism rather than CVD. All you are doing is throwing away 39,960 lives on an obscure matter of principle."
Is it possible that worrying about terrorism (in a way that is vaguely efficiently ameliorated by current political policies) causes a greater amount of suffering to US citizens than CVD does? Seems like this argument might be insufficiently utilitarian in that way. Do we reject acting as if the Bad Guy Bias is correct even if no-one listens to us about how they shouldn't worry about terrorism and still has their cognitive biases and is unhappy a lot because of our policy?
I decided to make notes on typos as I read, because I am both pedantic and interested in fixing them:
Missing paragraph breaks before 2.1.2, 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 18.104.22.168, 7.4.3.
Extra comma in "The United States, is just particularly bad at this".
"At this point,t here's no way"
"past seventy-five years" is missing an ending period.you expect the CEO of Wal-Mart to be a reasonable man who
-- hey, the last one had genderless pronouns and everything.
"The Forgotten Achievements of Government" is missing an ending period.
"anc cancer" -> "and cancer"
"much more effective?." has extra period.
"Anc is has" -> "And it has"
"Why, exactly, should moral questions be simple?" -- I think I remember that "simple" was italicised in the last version (and that was good) and isn't here.
"government and morality ," has an extra space.
"So there is literally no benefit to spending the money on fighting terrorism rather than CVD. All you are doing is throwing away 39,960 lives on an obscure matter of principle."
I actually honestly don't understand what that part of the FAQ has to do with libertarianism either way.
2012-12-08 02:36 am (UTC)
Link to Cognitive Illusions
Leads to Judgment under Uncertainty.
2012-12-08 02:36 am (UTC)
Re: Link to Cognitive Illusions
Also: great, awesome, etc. etc.
I've alluded to this a couple times, but I should ask directly: To what extent are you aware of the natural rights vs. utilitarian split within libertarianism? It's a bit of inside baseball, except it really seems like your FAQ is almost entirely directed at the natural-rightsists (and is pretty consistent with the utilitarians).
As an aside, we must travel in very different social circles. I don't know any Stalinists personally, but I know an awful lot of Trots. LiveJournal is crawling with 'em.
First paragraph: see 0.3
You're the second person to tell me that I'm just not attending the right parties if I'm not meeting Stalinists there, so I will make a note to change both the FAQ and my social circle.
2012-12-08 03:49 am (UTC)
We could use a verb in aisle 7.3.1: "And that doesn't the less recognizable inventions..."
Enjoyed the non-libertarian faq again. Two edits I noted along the way:
"Why are consequences to other people seems such a specially relevant category?": syntax error.
'Other things like banning criticism of the government, trying to
prevent people from owning guns, and seizing people's property
willy-nilly also work like this, so we call those "rights" too.':
Awkward. On my first read, this one parsed as saying "trying to prevent people from owning guns" is a right, not "owning guns" is a right.
Looks like previous comments covered my other notes.
2012-12-08 08:48 am (UTC)
Luckily, this is an empirical question, and can be solved simply by collecting the relevant data. For example, we could examine whether the children of rich parents are more likely to be rich than poor parents, and, if so, how much more likely they are. This would give us a pretty good estimate of how much of rich people's wealth comes from superior personal qualities, as opposed to starting with more advantages.
This section has serious problems disentangling the unfair advantages from genetic effects. Examining 'whether the children of rich parents are more likely to be rich than poor parents' is entirely insufficient to determine how much of wealth comes from superior personal qualities, because superior personal qualities are hereditary.
2012-12-08 09:13 am (UTC)
And now I realize the perils of replying while halfway through reading, but I'll stand by my post; I don't think 5.1.2 is a valid rebuttal. Under different socioeconomic conditions, genetics would stay the same, but the effect of those genetics could be changed. Say, country A has a public sector that has a competitive application process similar to private sector jobs. Country B has a public sector with an application process that awards jobs more randomly. Country B would have more social mobility, even if the effects of genetics remained the same.
To support the claim that hereditary effects are a large part of the .4-.6 number cited, I'll cite the adoption study (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/sempapers/Sacerdote.pdf) done by Bruce Sacerdote, which found, for example, that "[an] additional year of mother's education raises the adoptee's years of education by .07 years. This effect is highly statistically significant, but is only 1/4 the size of the corresponding effect for non-adoptees (biological children) raised in the same families."
Your anti-libertarian FAQ is awesome. In fact, I wonder if you ought to go ahead and use a title like "How to do libertarianism wrong" or something, to indicate that you're happy to have anti-government-for-good-reason Libertarians around, you just resent people being stupid and calling it libertarianism :)
2012-12-09 08:00 am (UTC)
Actually, that title is a really good idea. Seconded.
You've forgotten to multiply by 100 when converting the proportion of the deficit represented by the funding of NPR to a percentage; it's 4 million / 1.2 trillion = 1/300,000 = 0.0003% not 0.000003%
Finland, has zero private schools (even all the universities are public) and no “school choice”. What it does have is extremely well-credentialed, highly paid teachers (and, unfortunately, an ethnically homogenous population without any dire poverty or broken families, which probably counts for a heck of a lot more than anything else).
"Highly paid" isn't entirely correct (though it's definitely true that Finnish teachers relative to other Finns are better paid than US teachers are relative to other Americans). OECD figures put the salaries of teachers at about 13% lower than average for all college graduates
for Finland. They do, however, get compensation in the form of gobs and gobs of work autonomy and social status.Edited at 2012-12-08 10:47 am (UTC)
And they're selected from the top 10% of graduates or applicants, I believe.
Also, not having much (not any? surely not) dire poverty or broken families is not something that just happened, but is intimately connected to other non-libertarian government choices made by the Finns.
And while the foreign-born population isn't huge, the article I've read on the school system indicated they try hard to make the schools for immigrants equally good.
Um, I don't know nothing about American law, but if four of those eight terrible things are actually untrue I'd be really, really worried that's inviting lawsuits.
Done a little bit of Googling on the true/false test in section 4.2 and come to the following very tentative conclusions on which are true and which false:
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2012-12-08 02:58 pm (UTC)
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5.1.1: "Since the total must add up to 100%, this would mean that starting off poor actually makes you more likely to end up rich than someone who didn't start off poor."
False as stated, although it takes some unrealistic numbers to see why. Example: suppose people who start poor are 99% likely to become middle class, 1% likely to become upper class, and 0% likely to stay lower class. Then the other 19% of the new upper class are coming from the old midle and upper classes. So someone in the lower class has a 0.01/0.2 = 5% chance of reaching the upper class, while the middle and upper classes collectively have a 0.19/0.8 = 24% chance of reaching/staying in the upper class.
2012-12-08 03:22 pm (UTC)
Section 6.6 is flawed
The "real" numbers only add up 72.01%.
It would be useful to know what the other 28% go towards. I don't know for sure, but I suspect quite a bit of is "state aid", i.e. paying the individual states to provide food assistance/housing assistance/education/etc.
2012-12-08 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Section 6.6 is flawed
Even funnier is that the polled numbers add to 137%. It would be interesting to compare the normalized poll numbers to the actual figures!
13.5: "Currently, several trillion dollars are being spent to prevent terrorism. This seems to fall within the area of what libertarians would consider a legitimate duty of government, since terrorists are people who initiate force and threaten our safety and the government needs to stop this. However, terrorists only kill an average of a few dozen Americans per year."
You're ascribing to libertarians nearly the opposite of what most of them believe. Libertarians by an overwhelming majority are furious about the WoT, both domestically and abroad, whether you're talking about the cosmotarians at reason.com or the paleos at antiwar.com. There's at least as much criticism of government antiterrorism activity coming out of the libertarian movement as there is out of the left, possibly more.
Edited at 2012-12-08 04:47 pm (UTC)
2012-12-08 04:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you for a good article that I feel obliged to take into account the next time I pontificate on the subject.
Now, first I have an archived nit to get out of my system, and then some bickering.
"...unfortunately that caricature is alive and well and posting smug slogans on Facebook."
I like that turn of phrase.
I like it so much I'm going to turn it right back on you. ;-)
Recalling your post on The Great Divorce, I'm afraid that liberal clergystrawman you mentioned is alive and well and sending smug Easter messages from a bishopric.
(To wit, I'm thinking of a message from the Episcopal Church that didn't mention Jesus or Christ but did mention the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and spoke of resurrection as something to look for that would be springing up in your community.)
It seems to me you're playing fast and loose in 1.2:
You say "More likely, you would want [...]" and then put somewhat disguised and distorted democratic government in the mouths of libertarians before saying "you're just reinventing the concept of government." I'm not convinced of the likelihood of libertarians wanting this.
Then you aggravate this when you say:
"There's no difference between a town where [...] - and a regular town with a regular civic government."
I'd say there's not just a difference or two of features, there's a structural difference. In the former scenario, I get the impression that it's 1) more legitimate to found new cities and new regional governments, 2) easier to do so, 3) one explicitly chooses to move to a new town and sign the agreement there, 4) one can mosey over to the next town that has a lower barrier for entry rather than being born in a country and possibly having to move hundreds of miles and/or cross language barriers to get to a different ruleset, 5) the towns in the former example don't have as much of a national civic government telling thousands of towns to change their rules regarding who is allowed to live in a town, which really undermines the point of starting a town with new rules.
2012-12-09 12:01 am (UTC)
Maybe I can build a ten million decibel noise-making machine on my property, but maybe not, because the noise will leave my property and disturbs neighbor; my “right to control my property” might or might not trump my neighbor's “right not to be disturbed”, even though disturbed and irritated are synonyms. I definitely can't detonate a nuclear warhead on my property, because the blast wave will leave my property and incinerates my neighbor, and my neighbor apparently does have a “right not to be incinerated”.
A nuke only destroys a city or two, but even 10,000 decibels would easily wipe out the known universe, even if played only for a small fraction of a second.
Oh, right, logarithms. Good point.
Ran this past a Conservative (in the UK sense of non-natural rights libertarians). He broadly agreed with it, but thought you massively overestimated the number of people who hold the natural rights view in actuality. This may be an issue of regional variation.
Also interestingly "0.2 ignores the prospect of Schelling Fences being established against state corpratism as people might believe that aspects within the state judge success and failure based on the amount of funding they receive and that individuals may purposefully or inadvertantly advocate policies which give power and funding to the state counter to the public interest, and oppose the expansion of the state as a result"
How many alchemists actually thought "No, even though everyone else has failed, I will be the one to discover transmutation"? I thought they generally believed their predecessors had discovered the secret of transmutation but didn't share it or shared it in an encoded way.
I don't know whether Coke and Pepsi really taste the same, but there is definitely a difference between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi.
Cola flavor is citrus + vanilla + brown spice (cinnamon, coriander, etc.) Coke has more orange, Pepsi has more lemon and lime.
§7.3.1 "And that doesn't the less recognizable inventions ..." should be "And that doesn't include
§11.3 "... if if there were one form ..." probably should only have one 'if'
§12.3.2 "Why are consequences to other people seems such a specially relevant category?" should have "Why do consequences ... seem ..."
§22.214.171.124.1 "that makes Tristan de Cunha and everything on your property and that of your heirs forever" probably should have "... everything on it ..."
§13.3.2 "And is has to avoid the issue ..." should be "And it has ..."
§13.3.2 "In the case of theft, taxation requires authorization ..." might be better stated "In the case of taxation, theft requires authorization ..."
§13.7 "So, we're in the unhappy situation of needing people to almost triple the amount they give to charity even though they have only 12.5% more money."—Technically if government cut taxes from 25% to 12.5%, people would have 16.7% more money (12.5%/(100%-25%)). Also, you don't seem to take into account your assumption that private charity is twice as efficient as government charity when calculating the adjusted charity levels:
Edited at 2012-12-12 08:27 am (UTC)
- Real charity (adjusted) should be ($800b+$300b*2)/2, or $700b.
- After government drops welfare, this would drop to $300b, and with 67% adjustment, private citizens would now need to donate a total of $525b=($700b/0.67)/2.
- $525b is only a 75% increase in charity spending for a 16.7% increase in money.
- Given GDP of the USA at $15,090b, that 16.7% increase in money (still 12.5% of GDP) amounts to $1,886b.
- ($525b-$300b)/$1.886b amounts to 11.9% of their newly conserved income spent on charity, which is tiny (11.9% of the new 16.7%).
- Effectively, their tax rate, including new effectively mandatory spending for charity, is 12.5%+11.9%*12.5% = 14%, still drastically less than the original 25%
- The only ones getting the shaft here are the churches/arts/foreign aid, who are losing $400b from the government, and only gaining $25b from private citizens (even though that $25b is effectively $50b as per our prior assumption)
I am not a libertarian, so my doing math on §13.7 to support the libertarian viewpont does not violate your "never [having] seen libertarians even try to do calculations."
Also, I am not entirely certain on my revision of your calculations, so please double-check before you discard your entire argument in that section. There's probably still an argument to be made via math in opposition to the libertarian ideal of charity (especially the last bullet point), but I'm guessing it would probably require you at least to reverse your assumption regarding the effectiveness of the two types of charity.
Deleted because it won't let me edit my above comment after someone replied to it, even myself.
Re-added because apparently that includes deleted comments.
Edited at 2012-12-12 09:01 am (UTC)
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Also, because I didn't specifically say this in my comments: this essay is amazing and thank you for writing it.