More WFB

February 28, 2008

The Economist has a good one too.

Thoughts on WFB

February 28, 2008
Yesterday, William F. Buckley passed away.  I must say something on such an occasion, given that this blog being dedicated to the idea of Fusionism, and Mr Buckley was perhaps the original Fusionist.
Many, many others have provided worthwhile thoughts and remembrances, so I won't add anything on his historical contributions to the Conservative Movement.
I haven't tackled any of Mr Buckley's books and have only read some of his more recent articles.  However, my thinking has been heavily influenced by many of the early writers at National Review.  I think all Conservatives, Libertarians and non-liberals, in general, owe Mr Buckley an enormous amount of gratitude.
Mr Goldberg has made an obvious prediction here.  However, I think its a wonderful time to reflect on how National Review and the Conservative Movement have changed in the last several decades.  I'm have no doubt that Mr Buckley would welcome serious, thoughtful contributions on this subject.  Finally, I doubt these critiques will be made exclusively by the Left.  For example, the WSJ piece that I linked above, says:
In his last years, Buckley grew discouraged about what he considered the drifts of the American right. In an interview with this page in 2005, he noted that "I think conservatism has become a little bit slothful." In private, his contempt was more acute. Part of it, he believed, was that what used to be living ideas had become mummified doctrines to many in the conservative political class. At the Yale Political Union in November 2006—Buckley's last public audience—he called for a "sacred release from the old rigidities" and "a repristinated vision." It was a bracing reminder that American conservatives must adapt eternal principles to new realities.
I provided some of my own thoughts on these issues here.  I miss the independence of the old National Review.  Would libertarian publications publish (grudgingly) positive thoughts on any of today's National Review types?
I think Conservatives have a lot to learn from Mr Buckley and from the history of the movement so far.  Conservatives, like Mr Buckley in the early years of NR, should work with as many sort-of-like-minded allies as possible; don't required Conservatives to have a checklist of required positions, merely require a Conservative disposition or attitude and then enjoy the debate.  If agreement on a particular issue is too widespread within the movement, then the movement has probably lost some of its intellectualism and become too dogmatic.  Bring back some monarchists, for example.
Don't become a subsidiary of the Republican Party.  That Party's electoral success is at best tangentially related to the success of the Conservative Movement.
One of the main points of Conservatism and Fusionism has always been limited government.  I think the failure of the Movement to actually, meaningfully limit government despite its other successes has been severely underrated.  (It may be a bigger problem when it comes to keeping the movement unified than the fall of Communism).  The failures in this area require new, and I think more radical policies to try again for success.  It should also cause Conservatives to be more anti-government in general and anti-war in particular.  War necessarily leads to bigger government, and once government grows, we can't reduce its size.
Whatever happens to the Movement in the future, opponents of the ever-increasing power of the State and defenders of Virtue and the Permanent Things will, in many way, always stand in the shadow of Mr Buckley.

How to make everyone a millionaire

February 28, 2008


Behavioral economics

February 27, 2008

A good take here.

The costs of a childless society

February 27, 2008
Professor Cowen says:
Your net carbon impact depends far more on the number of children you will have than any other variable; remember good environmentalism uses a zero rate of discount.  So people with no biological children should be allowed to fly a lot and people with lots of biological children should not get to fly so much at all.  Is that so far from the reality we observe?
It's nice of the good Professor to suggest that some people should be allowed to fly.  I hope our new economist overlords will continue to grant us some freedoms, even if they increasingly work to tax all costly behaviors (i.e. all behaviors).
The question I have in response is: what price should be paid by childless people for being childless?  After all, if everyone is childless, the GDP of the world will gradually approach $0; that's a PPP-adjusted loss of roughly $65 trillion.  Even if you don't use a discount rate that guarantees your desired outcome in advance, that's still a huge loss.

Secession in Montana . . .

February 26, 2008
if the gun case at the Supreme Court doesn't go the right way?  See the third letter here:
There was no assertion in 1889 that the Second Amendment was susceptible to a collective rights interpretation, and the parties to the contract understood the Second Amendment to be consistent with the declared Montana constitutional right of "any person" to bear arms.
As a bedrock principle of law, a contract must be honored so as to give effect to the intent of the contracting parties. A collective rights decision by the court in Heller would invoke an era of unilaterally revisable contracts by violating the statehood contract between the United States and Montana, and many other states.
Cool theory, though I doubt anything will come of it.

50 great crime writers

February 25, 2008

The list

An example of John Adam’s Natural Aristocracy

February 25, 2008

In Web 2.0?

Rape on campus

February 25, 2008

An interesting piece at City Journal:

If the one-in-four statistic is correct [that one-in-four women on college campuses are victims of rape or attempted rape]—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn’t exist.

Collective action problems and anarchy (or minarchy)

February 22, 2008

Ms McArdle writes:

I concede that there is a collective action problem in providing actual public goods, like the military and statues of politicians on horseback; that is why I am not an anarchist, or even a minarchist.

I think there are at least a couple logical steps missing between the premise and the conclusion. In other words, I don’t think that the existence of collective action problems necessarily imply that anarchy or minarchy are wrong.

I can see two possible objections immediately:

1) The question should be whether government does a better job of solving the collective action problems than the private sector. In situations where the collective action problem is so large as to prohibit any private solution (would this happen?), the question would then be about whether the cost of setting up a government to solve the problem outweigh the benefits of “solving” the collective action problem.

2) The second objection would be ethical. Governments take money by force, if one viewed this as unethical then the fact that government uses its “evil” power for “good” ends does not necessarily make the whole thing ethical. In other words, the ethical objections against starting a government may still outweigh the economic benefits of starting one.

[Update: a good follow-up on taxes and collective action]