– Bryan Caplan jumps the shark

If this is true, it’s probably the biggest news story of the week. The world of physical gold holdings is a murky and very important one.

– Some part of USG is trying to make Africans like gay people. Unintentional hilarity ensues.

Here’s a pill that will cure your racism!

– A conversation between Vladimir Putin and George Soros

– Educated women dropping out of the workforce

Vox Day:

The problem isn’t that Africans or Central Americans cannot ever be civilized or that there is a civilization gene, the problem is that like domesticating an animal species, civilizing an entire culture is a process that takes hundreds of years. Consider, for example, how long it took the barbarians of Britain and Germany to go from the naked pagan barbarism described by Julius Caesar to the heights of Christian civilization that produced Mozart and the chamber orchestras. The nations of the West doesn’t have that much time, especially when they can no longer serve as a strong and stable models, having invited the enervating peoples into their civilizations.

The War Nerd:

That’s the lesson of the 20th century: If you want to kill a few people and get bad press, then go ahead: dress in black, drink blood and talk about how you love torture like Amin, Bokassa and Hitler. But if you’re serious about wiping out whole populations, wear a dove of peace and talk about progress and love.

– The “free market” healthcare system of the US

– Congrats to Ferd and some other bloggers

Some things are zero sum

– Your tax money is helping the needy, like Yglesias


23 Responses to Randoms

  1. Brian Caplan has hit the Heinlein Corner.

  2. Frost says:

    I haven’t been reading Econlog for a while. Looks like I’m not missing out.

    Also, I’m mildly offended I didn’t make the SPLC list.

    • Josh says:

      Caplan makes a fair comparison and comes to a silly conclusion. In a reasonable world I could score points by pointing out that ending immigration restriction would be as big of a disaster as ending jim crow.

  3. Vladimir says:

    Caplan is only taking a generally accepted principle to its straightforward logical conclusion. Logically, there can be no coherent moral theory that would make it immoral to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sex, but OK to discriminate based on citizenship. If the former sorts of discrimination are hideously evil — as indeed all respectable people today are supposed to believe — then the latter can be acceptable only as a glaring unprincipled exception, and justifications for it can be nothing but incoherent special pleading.

    Now of course, Caplan’s open-borders extremism is completely crazy. However, his argument in this particular post is perfectly valid and logical. Either you have to reject the anti-discrimination principles that are considered as an absolute moral imperative by the respectable opinion nowadays, or you have to agree with Caplan’s open-borders position. There really is no third possibility that allows you to maintain any logical consistency in your views.

    • spandrell says:

      Well there’s thing called nuance.Thinking in concrete terms.

      Of course the Western priesthood has this penchant for abstract thinking that takes everything to “its logical conclusion”, i.e. makes it absurd by ignoring all concrete data.

      • Vladimir says:

        Well there’s thing called nuance.Thinking in concrete terms.

        Well, yes, but the whole point is that the present respectable opinion — aside from its still fairly minor radical open borders vanguard — applies nuanced thinking to discrimination based on citizenship, but at the same time has a stark nuance-free view of discrimination based on race and other presently protected categories as a non-negotiable pure evil.

        This really is a wildly inconsistent unprincipled exception. It’s as if some radical animal rights activist maintained that meat-eaters are vile murderers and a vegan diet is an absolute moral imperative, but made an exception for one species and claimed that, say, killing cows and eating steak is OK.

        What I find annoying and at the same time grimly amusing is when the contemporary conservatives and moderates try to deal with Caplan’s argument — while at the same time forcefully insisting that they’d never question the respectable consensus that other forms of discrimination are evil and intolerable, period. There really is no way to do this without forsaking both dignity and logic.

        (I remember once writing on a forum populated mostly by mainstream people, where someone expressed the standard contemporary view that hereditary privilege of monarchs and aristocrats is a horrible injustice, which our enlightened modern era has thankfully eliminated or at least minimized. I replied by asking if he believes that citizenship should also be eliminated as a grave injustice, since it’s almost perfectly analogous to nobility by his own logic: it’s a privilege that brings plenty of exclusive rights, and it’s hereditary with few exceptions. People reacted as if I was some sort of nutcase, though nobody managed to make a pertinent response.)

    • anon says:

      Leftism is not ideology-driven. It’s driven by technology-enabled global concentration of power. Leftism is not so much a philosophy for its own sake as it is a universal solvent deployed against potential competing power blocks, aka any functional human organization — nation, culture, family.

      In other words, Moldbug’s model of ruling Brahmins and deposed Optimates is not exactly true. What we have is a new generation of Optimates, with Brahmins as their propaganda arm.

      • Again, you attribute too much rationality to the left. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon because it is winning, without paying much attention to where the bandwagon happens to be heading, so it just heads off in whatever direction it is going, faster and faster.

        The left is a coalition of the insane, the evil, and those that are both evil and insane – and only the insane are paying attention to where the ship is heading. The evil just give lip service to whatever craziness the insane are up to while stealing stuff.

      • spandrell says:


        that’s a way of putting it that I can agree with.

    • Alex J. says:

      Of all the politically incorrect things that Caplan has said, I don’t recall him specifically coming out for freedom of association, though I’m sure he’s for it. He can say things that get Brad DeLong to call him “the stupidest man alive” (oh noes), but Sailor seems to think that Caplan has only one position.

      I remember the hubbub around Clinton sending Chelsea to a private school instead of the wretched public schools in DC. Sure it’s hypocritical, but the solution isn’t making Chelsea get stabbed, it’s allowing everyone else to send their children (and their money) where they please, and with whom they please.

      Frankly, the intellectual consistency challenge is discrimination law applied to marriages.

    • Logically, there can be no coherent moral theory that would make it immoral to discriminate based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sex, but OK to discriminate based on citizenship. – Vladimir

      If you say so. Is there any coherent moral theory (a phrase I am only repeating, not one I claim to understand) that would allow someone to discriminate on the basis of someone having a record of violent crime but not on the basis of race/ ethnicity/ religion/ sex?

      Obviously you and I both reject mainstream anti-discrimination principles. I’m just wondering if your position is going to lead to, among other things, the contention that if the US is going to detain foreigners captured in the acts of attacking US forces abroad, or in the US, that the US government must also be allowed to detain US citizens in the US.

      Citizenism gets a lot of criticism on the alt-right because it is (rightly) seen as a diluted sort of rightism. I’m just curious what underlies a lot of the criticism.

  4. Vlad nails it. No unprincipled exceptions for Professor Caplan!

    Of course the author would be shocked if anyone thought he was making an argument for Jim Crow. This is what happens, however, when you reduce your principles ad absurdum. Someone might make the mistake of suspecting they were always absurd. Maybe Caplan should get to know his fellow Virginian, the Rev. Dabney.

    I occasionally think of reporting myself to the SPLC. Surely there’s a form you can fill out. Or reporting Google – for hosting the Rev. Dabney (et al). At least the SPLC encyclical refers to “Lothrop Stoddard’s racist classic,” which might lead someone the wrong way entirely.

  5. dearieme says:

    I commend to you the wisdom of my dear wife. “Careers are overrated.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    The campaign against Mr. Kony is pure racism. How typical of privileged whites to get all bent out of shape when a black leader tries to defend his people form western colonial oppression.

  7. Why do people insist on using the word “myth” to mean “misconception held by no one at all”? Surely McArdle doesn’t believe that anyone actually believes that the US has a free market health care system. I’ll admit that some people may actually believe that some people believe that, but there’s a limit to how recursive we should be getting here.

    If McArdle had entitled her article “How government intervention has made the the American health care system into a smoldering pile of crap”, I would read it. If she is going to use Everyone’s Favorite Postmodern Malapropism, I’m not going to bother.

  8. The pill that will cure your racism will also cure your fear of sharks.

    It inhibits the fight or flight reaction, which is normally a good thing, as for example when picking up girls, but when a shark punched me, I did not respond with fight or flight, which looks impressively calm and courageous, but is actually extremely stupid. I should have done the emotional and irrational thing and succumbed to sharkism by punching the shark back.

    And similarly, having your racism “cured” probably increases your chances of getting beaten up and robbed, much as it increased my chances of being eaten by a shark.

  9. Five Daarstens says:

    Caplan’s ideas are a weird mix of Marxism and super duper free market capitalism. The Marxist part is that everybody born before the 1960’s was evil and wrong (history begun anew after the revolution). The super duper free market part is that we all should be treated as an economic cogs, and the GDP should be the main measure of mankind. Count me out of that.

  10. Vladimir says:


    By “coherent moral theory” I mean simply a set of beliefs about what’s right and wrong that doesn’t involve clear logical contradictions or tortured special pleading.

    You can have a coherent theory that would make it OK to discriminate based on criminal history but not based on race, sex, or hereditary nobility — for example, by arguing that it’s OK to discriminate based on things that people brought about by their own decisions, but not based on accidents of birth. However, the same principle will imply that discriminating on the basis of citizenship is also wrong. And there is no general principle that would make citizenship different from race in this regard — nothing short of tortured special pleading will suffice to argue that it’s intolerably evil to discriminate based on one but not the other.

    Now, arguably, this anti-discrimination principle, once generally accepted, will inevitably lead to ever more intense efforts to identify and stamp out discrimination — which is for committed egalitarians the only ideologically acceptable explanation for statistical differences in group outcomes. This will lead to a disparate impact scrutiny of every area in which such statistical differences are observed, which will in turn make a discrimination issue even out of things such as criminal and credit history.

    But whether or not this outcome is inevitable in practice under a regime that embraces a general anti-discrimination principle, at least it is a logically consistent position to believe that overt racial discrimination is wrong, but still allow for discrimination based on individual merits and failings like criminal history. On the other hand, condemning racial discrimination as a hideous evil while tolerating citizenship discrimination fails even the basic test of logical consistency.

    As for the issues like detaining enemy combatants vs. domestic citizens, that is indeed another area where the anti-discrimination principle has radical and yet straightforward implications. We are already seeing the gradual development of the legal doctrine that the army fighting in a war should be held to the same standards as the police force at home. In fact, the inevitable logic of the anti-discrimination principle is playing itself out much faster here than on the issue of open borders. (Unsurprisingly, since it’s facing a much smaller popular resistance.)

    By the way, I have no particular problem with citizenism of the sort advocated by e.g. Sailer, although I think it’s impractical in large polities for various reasons. (Let alone in the actually existing situation of the U.S. nowadays.) But this is a quite complex topic in its own right.

    • I tend to support citizenism (and the meritocracy of standardized tests) in Federal policy mainly because anything else is impractical in a large polity. I really can’t think of anything else that is practical. Of course, I also think large polities are generally impractical and should be scaled down if that were possible, in preference to their inevitable violent collapse and rule by barbarians, and the rest of that, but I also accept the possibility that we can’t get off the Ferris Wheel at the top.

      What is the practical alternative to citizenism for a large polity?

      • Vladimir says:


        The problem is that an abstract “citizenist” identity will always be far weaker than the authentic, organic identities based on ethnicity, religion, and local culture. Even in the rare cases of large polities that are homogeneous in all these regards, it’s likely to be weaker than the ideological divisions. To ensure stability, some other strongly non-citizenist elements must exist to counterbalance these tendencies. (In a small polity, in contrast, citizenship is typically an expression of these organic identities.)

        Now, of course, the ways in which this might be possible, and in which it has been known to work historically, are a topic that would require a vast amount of writing to discuss in any detail. In particular, the historical American way — federalism and localism — broke down and collapsed twice, in the Civil War and the New Deal, the second time non-violently but permanently. For a while, in the 1950s era, it looked like an all-American citizenist identity was arising under the centralized and omnipotent federal government. However, it soon broke down under the ideological and ethnic/racial rifts, and was at the same time marginalized by the bureaucratic elites, with their liberal/globalist ideology, technocratic hubris, and utter contempt for their common fellow citizen.

        In a sense, it was a lucky accident of history for Americans that in their first 150 or so years, they were able to strike a balance between their organic local identities and limited but effective government at the federal level. (And even that system was shown to be extremely risky and unstable with the Civil War.) Citizenism at the federal level, with a fully centralized and unlimited post-New Deal federal government, is even less feasible today than it was back in the fifties, when the circumstances for it were far more favorable.

  11. Handle says:

    Brian Caplan is a professor at George Mason University – an organization (or “corporation”, if you will) that owns land and controls access to its grounds and facilities according to a quick elite, exclusive, and selective system of voluntary association. There are rules (and fees!) governing whether and under what conditions I, or anyone else, are allowed, if at all, to attend Professor Caplan’s courses – especially if we want him to grade our exams and give us credit towards a degree. Most businesses or nonprofit organization choose their employees, but how many have a quota and also get to choose their customers so precisely?

    And, somehow, the enlightened folks at George Mason University think this vile, invidious discrimination is a good thing, nay, even indispensable to achieving their community aims with their limited resources? In fact, all the prestigious elite universities choose their populations according to their own arbitrary criteria, and will defend to the death their right to choose as they will free of all external restrictions. And the “law” backs them up, of course. Well, mostly, so far as racialist considerations run in the approved direction. Reverse Jim Crow is alive and well and not only completely legal but practically mandatory.

    When Brian Caplan can meaningfully distinguish between University Communities and National Communities, then he might unjump his shark enough to be worthy of attention on these matters.

  12. […] thoughts on Caplan from Handle are here. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: