This Idiot Takes On A Bigger Idiot About Who Libertarians Are

A friend asked me today if I could respond to Bill McMorris’ strange characterization of libertarians in a post at TheFederalist.com (Conservatives Will Embrace Libertarians When Libertarians Stop Embracing Government).

While my extended reply is posted below, I felt JD Tucille at Reason.com summarized the heart of the issue in these paragraphs he posted this afternoon:

Could the courts ever decide to reinterpret the law in such a way as to force people (such as social conservatives) to do business with customers who give them the creepy crawlies (such as gays and lesbians)? Courts have creatively rewritten the law before, so it’s possible.

But then, why not protect everybody‘s liberty? Make it clear that the point is to shield freedom of association and freedom of conscience for all, in a way that would protect the right of gay-owned businesses to chase Bill McMorris out of their stores as it would protect his right to toss them out of his place of business. And certainly craft it to protect the right of all of us to turn politicians away. 

But SB 1062 backers have made it clear, from the beginning, that this is all about their dislike of one group. This isn’t about paring back government; it’s about using legislation to slap at gays and lesbians. 

His full article is here.

I, in short, feel Bill McMorris is pretty close to not having a clue what he is talking about.

I’ll start with a general point that it might be true (though becoming less so every day) that the majority of libertarians are diverted leftists. Continue reading

Are We *Competent* To Use Government Power?

I have had a couple weeks of absolutely delightful “talking point” conversations with people on Twitter. These have been with several people from the left and right of the modern American political spectrum.

I call them TP convos because they almost exclusively consist of things like, “Marijuana causes insanity” and “Virtue in the People is caused by laws from the govt” on the right, and “Corp greed is destroying America”, “We should equalize all wages” and “The 99% are powerless against big business so lets give lots MORE power to Washington” on the left.

These are really fun because they don’t require much mental exertion on my part and I figure I might be able to get through to people whose depth of thought/research on these topics seems to run rather shallow. Now I don’t say that as a criticism however, I naturally don’t think people SHOULD necessarily spend much effort becoming better acquainted with these issues. Being “informed” in even a marginal sense is a fairly intensive and significant investment of time and energy. Don’t most of us have better things to do?

However, what I am left pondering in more seriousness, is how few people seem to realize they have a shallow understanding of many topics. In our lives we very regularly have to make assumptions, work from incomplete pictures, act from faith rather than knowledge, in other words, most of our day, every day, is made up of a series of our best guesses. That seems fine because individually we balance our certainty (or lack thereof) against the potential outcomes and what we will invest in the action. I guess that Campbell Ave is my quickest route to school, but if there happens to be an accident, it may take me a few minutes longer or I hop over to a different road. In this case the consequences of error in my choice are shallow even when my knowledge is relatively deep (the route I take every day). That seems intuitively rational. Continue reading

Twittering About Minimum Wage

@yipeedog I guess since higher wages hurt the economy, you wouldn’t mind giving up most of your paycheck.”

This lovely note was on my Twitter feed this morning in reply to this article – A Higher Minimum Wage Harms the Economy http://t.co/If1KpAX5Me. I repost it here because it is absolutely representative of the devolution and conclusion of every recent discussion I have had regarding minimum wage laws (and the prospect of a Federal increase in the same).

Each of these exchanges follow a fairly similar track.

I note that jobs are created when an activity can generate value in excess of the cost of performing the activity. Seems pretty straight forward, an employer will hire if the employee produces net positive revenue after all expenses (wages, benefits, taxes, computer, desk, pens, etc.) are factored in. Thus, if you raise the cost of one of the expense elements you decrease the net revenue (the “marginal value”). It also seems totally reasonable to then conclude that SOME increases will cause the net calculation to turn negative on SOME jobs. Net negative revenue being unsustainable in the real world, employers will have to respond by adjusting their employment structure. Continue reading