Friday, June 06, 2008

The Moses of the Libertarian Movement

is Henry Hazlitt. Mary Ruwart is our Apostle Paul, but she stands on Hazlitt's shoulders.

Read these articles for suggestions on how to compile our Bible. I'd especially like to draw your attention to his bio of Bastiat.

Changing the subject, Bob Barr is the LP's presidential candidate, with Wayne Allen Root as his VP. I'm ready to go balls out for them (even though Mary Ruwart is my goddess). The question is (actually, are), should I resign my post with the Republican Party? Would they notice? Would I be betraying my favorite active politician, Ron Paul?

Oh, crap. I've gotta give you a couple 'graphs of Hazlitt:
Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousandfold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics, or medicine — the special pleading of selfish interests.

While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

I thought McCain-Feingold solved the problem of special interests.

Think McCain has read Bastiat?

Here's more of Hazlitt on Bastiat:
His chief method of argument was the method of exaggeration. He was the master of the reductio ad absurdum. Someone suggests that the proposed new railroad from Paris to Madrid should have a break at Bordeaux. The argument is that if goods and passengers are forced to stop at that city, it will be profitable for boatmen, porters, hotelkeepers and others there. Good, says Bastiat. But then why not break it also at AngoulĂ©me, Poitiers, Tours, Orleans, and, in fact, at all intermediate points? The more breaks there are, the greater the amount paid for storage, porters, extra cartage. We could have a railroad consisting of nothing but such gaps — a negative railroad!

Are there various other proposals to discourage efficiency, in order to create more jobs? Good, says Bastiat. Let's petition the king to forbid people from using their right hands, or maybe even have them chopped off. Then it will require more than twice as many people, and twice as many jobs, to get the same work done (assuming consumption is the same).

Mutatis mutandi, as it were.

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