Saturday, January 5, 2008

A few certainties via Tyler Cowen

I tend to agree with Tyler on all counts. While many are significant, Number 12 really jumps out at me:

It is a big mistake -- even in rhetoric -- to conflate concern for the poor with comparative egalitarian intuitions. The left ought to turn its back on this mistake, although it would mean losing one of their most effective rhetorical tools.

This is probably because I had the misfortune of reading an Ezra Klein juvenile, anti-libertarian temper tantrum(H/T Julian Sanchez) which, well, does reinforce not only Number 12 but Number 13 as well:


When your ideology actually boils down to things like "I think a substantial majority of this nation's children should go without health insurance" and "I think the Civil Rights Act was an unconscionable infringement upon individual property rights," you probably shouldn't try and play the "shorter X" game.
At the risk of violating certainity Number 13 (and launching a polemic), I will call bullshit on that position. In a response to a liberal blogger lamenting the practices of credit card companies KipEsquire writes:

Isn't "my outrage and disgust over it entitles me to prevent those who are not outraged and disgusted over it from doing it, despite the fact that I am in no way harmed by others doing it, apart from my outrage and disgust" the modus operand of the anti-gay bigots? Why would you possibly want to borrow a page from their playbook?

In principle, the moral authoritarianism of the Left and Right are identical, as both wish to use the state and the purported "legitimacy" of democratic processes to create a society in the majority's image. Richard Epstein, while defending same-sex marriage, wrote in an op-ed piece from 2004:

My fear is that the American left chiefly understands liberty by carving out some preferred class of "intimate" associations of two (but in an unexplained burst of traditionalism, most definitely not more) individuals. After all, even on associational freedoms, the American left has become far more statist in rejecting freedom of association claims in the Boy Scout and campaign finance cases. Its support for gay marriage, therefore, looks opportunistic because it refuses to apply the same standard of free association to economic legislation for fear of what it will do to unions and their fiefdoms...In its own way, the moral left is as authoritarian as the moral right.

On that note, can someone please explain to me why liberals, who have more in common with anti-equality homophobic bigots than they may realize, would presume to lecture libertarians on notions of equality?

Pot meet kettle.

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