Irrelevant at Any Speed

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Ralph Nader is making his fourth-and-a-halfth* bid for the White House, announcing it on the sort of forum he can only access with stunts like this: the A slot of Meet the Press.

You know, when you see the paralysis of the government, when you see Washington, D.C., be corporate-occupied territory, every department agency controlled by overwhelming presence of corporate lobbyists, corporate executives in high government positions, turning the government against its own people, you–one feels an obligation, Tim, to try to open the doorways, to try to get better ballot access, to respect dissent in America in the terms of third parties and, and independent candidates; to recognize historically that great issues have come in our history against slavery and women rights to vote and worker and farmer progressives, through little parties that never ran–won any national election. Dissent is the mother of ascent. And in that context, I have decided to run for president.

We'll see a lot of ink get spilled on this, but as a national political force, Nader's time has passed. With every presidential race he has argued less and less about policy and more and more about an idea: political parties. He doesn't like them. He thinks you don't like them, either. He thinks they're bought and paid for by big corporations who end up writing the laws their stooges pass.

This was, for some people, a powerful critique for a while. In 1996 Nader let the Green Party run him as its candidate and he ran a purposely quixotic non-campaign, refusing to raise money or give stump speeches. In our lowest turnout election since the enfranchisement of under-21s, he got nearly 700,000 votes. In 2000 he made a real go of it and lefty voters angry at the Clinton administration gave him nearly 3 million votes. But in 2004 he ran again, spoiling the Green Party nomination (after swearing throughout 2000 that he wanted to build the party) by refusing it, then saying he'd take it if they offered it to him, then running a fourth-party bid when they refused to do so. His vote share plunged: he got only about 460,000 of them and the Greens' placeholder candidate got 120,000.

What had happened? The obvious explanation was that lefty voters, shocked and nauseous by the Bush administration, beat a retreat back to the Party of Roosevelt. But that wasn't the only level on which Nader's critique stopped making sense. Nader, a luddite, did not see coming the epochal impact of the internet on organizing, fundraising, and—most importantly—the sense of belonging and ideological reinforcement that comes from political activity. In 2000 he often said that one million people donating $100 each to a progressive cause could change the country, but he didn't have any clue as to how that would happen. Well, it happened. Barack Obama is about 35,000 people away from hitting the one million donor mark.

Nader's current run is predicated on umpteen false assumptions, the biggest ones being that Americans are angry at the party system and that the angriest ones are crying out for liberal leadership. He'll end up getting most of his financing from Republicans trying to splinter the liberal vote.

Everything you need to know about Nader's 2000 run is up at Matt Welch's web site. More Welch on Nader here.

*He also ran a forgotten write-in campaign for president sixteen years ago.

NEXT: Report from Chesapeake

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  1. “In our lowest turnout election since the enfranchisement of under-21s, he got nearly 700,000 votes.”

    Thanks, at least in part, to Bob Dole.

  2. By that I mean the low turnout

  3. “…political parties. He doesn’t like them. He thinks you don’t like them, either.”

    Well, he’s got me there. That of course is not reason enough to vote for him.

  4. Please stop harshing on Ralph Nader:

    He got the government to force car companies to install seatbelts when they falsely claimed that the public didn’t want them.

    He got the government to force car companies to install cup-holders when they falsely claimed that the public didn’t want them.

    He got the government to force car companies to install radios when they falsely claimed that the public didn’t want them.

    He got the government to force car companies to install air-conditioning when they falsely claimed that the public didn’t want them.

    Obviously, without Ralph Nader, those car manufacturers would still be making crappy cars that lacked the features the public demanded.

  5. From a poster at Balloon Juice (Zifnab25, February 24, at 10:19am)regarding the news.

    Nader’s got an ego, and he’s got a bad sense of how to grow as a politician. But I’d support him as a mayor, as a congressman, as a senator, as a governor. He’s smart, he’s capable, and he’s got a fantastic record. That his Green Party got hijacked by the Republican Party doesn’t make the Green Party’s message any less valid. And when this country moves left again,

    Yes folks, there are still folks out there who take this doddering old man seriously. You just gotta love this country.

  6. Don’t forget the supposedly life-saving, certainly life-taking airbags that deploy and cost $500+ to re-stow when you tap against the back wall of your garage.

  7. I don’t feel right about telling someone they shouldn’t run, but some people should know better than to run.

  8. I don’t feel right about telling someone they shouldn’t run, but some people should know better than to run.

    Ralph’s friends and family should get together and arrange an intervention. This really is sad.

  9. Don’t forget the supposedly life-saving, certainly life-taking airbags that deploy and cost $500+ to re-stow when you tap against the back wall of your garage.

    Chris Potter –

    You neglected to mention that they are a very common target in automobile burglaries.

  10. Don’t forget the supposedly life-saving, certainly life-taking airbags that deploy and cost $500+ to re-stow when you tap against the back wall of your garage.

    Well you don’t have to create suspicion that airbags don’t save lives. They certainly do, as do seatbelts. The argument should be against the government regulation and mandates of these things.

    Tesla, the new company that’s making an all-electric car, got a waiver for not including “advanced airbags” because it was too expensive, but the government thought it would be balanced out by the environmentally friendliness. The two things seem unrelated, but that’s the government for you. I wonder if Nader would rather have “advanced airbags,” or a “green” car.

  11. Ralph’s friends and family should get together and arrange an intervention. This really is sad.

    Michael Moore and Bill Maher tried that in 2004. Didn’t work.

  12. Seat belts definitely save lives. The jury’s still out on whether airbags are superfluous. A lot of the lives “saved” by airbags are due to parents putting small children in the back seat to avoid having them killed by the airbag.

  13. Seat belts definitely save lives. The jury’s still out on whether airbags are superfluous. A lot of the lives “saved” by airbags are due to parents putting small children in the back seat to avoid having them killed by the airbag.

    My late wife was 5’1″. When we were in the market for a new auto, we decided to get the airbag disconnected when we bought it.

  14. Seat belts definitely save lives.

    Actually, no. They save lives of people in accidents, but they cause more accidents by decreasing the cost of aggressive driving, thus making aggressive driving more common.

  15. Franklin Harris that is the dumbest thing ever.

    I mean, damn. Most car accidents aren’t caused by people driving aggressively. Its them being drunk, asleep, or on a cell phone, which is more driving stupidly. Not drag racing cause they think the seat belt will save them.

    Not to mention all the people who are innocently driving alone and get plowed by some drunken yahoo.

  16. I got a “RUN Ralph RUN” bumper sticker on my car

    it’s on the front bumper though …

  17. The GP platform is quite cosmotarian-friendly (and corrupt-foreign-government-friendly as well; same thing, I know).

  18. How about Lenora Fulani, is she running?

    I’m hoping the guy who had Marilyn Chambers as his running mate runs again. Or hell … Run, Marilyn, Run!

  19. Hey Lonewacko,

    The NSWPP platform is quite paleolib-friendly.

    (Do references to American Nazis count under Godwin?)

  20. “Obviously, without Ralph Nader, those car manufacturers would still be making crappy cars that lacked the features the public demanded.”

    You’re right tarran,and meat manufacturers would never, never release bad meat to their customers. I mean, they might get sick and die and never buy from them again, so they would never, ever do that, right?

  21. “Actually, no. They save lives of people in accidents, but they cause more accidents by decreasing the cost of aggressive driving, thus making aggressive driving more common.”

    Yeah, I know I drive extra reckless these days because I figure, hell, the airbag or seat belt will save me, so let me rev it up to 120!

    You don’t actually believe this kind of shit do you?

  22. “Well you don’t have to create suspicion that airbags don’t save lives. They certainly do, as do seatbelts. The argument should be against the government regulation and mandates of these things.”

    Now that is sensible. Arguing against the premises of every syllogism which comes out against your political viewpoint is silly since you just need to challenge the conclusion.

    I think more libertarians should have saw this in the global warming debate. You don’t have to deny GW to be able to sensibly deny the more intrusive policy “fixes.”

  23. Hell, I got insurance and an airbag, so why not haul ass everywhere all the time? Oh yeah, the cops don’t like that, crashing raises insurance rates, and even though seat belts and airbags save lives, people still get injured.

    It was a good theory while it lasted though…

  24. Toxic
    I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the concept that people respond to incentives. Namely that Safe cars dont encourage safe driving to the extent that unsafe cars might. This was specifically discussed in a Steven Landsburg book when he asked the reader to consider how safe they might drive if a knife was mounted on the steering wheel rather than an airbag. It was an exercise in reducing to the absurd an individuals response to incentives. Mr. Harris was stating that when people imagine there cars to be intrinsically safe they put less effort in driving safely.

  25. DJB
    Cars are near tons of steel propelled at forces far beyond achievable by human effort alone. Have you seen what can happen in a high speed car wreck? I seriously don’t think anyone is thinking “hell, my seatbelt will take care of it, so let’r rip!” This is part of the problem with taking economic axioms too far…

  26. I get a kick every time he calls for repealing Taft-Hartley.

    He did say today he’d happily take money from libertarians.

  27. Holy fuck, MNG, calm down. Franklin Harris’s suggestion is a little odd but it’s plausible if you’re willing to believe that people can sometimes behave in a way that is contrary to their best intentions. It doesn’t mean that it’s broadly true. He didn’t say it was the only reason people drove like morons. He didn’t say seatbelts kill people who have accidents.

    And stop ending your goddamn sentences with ellipses. You are grown-up, right? You are a man, right? You have something to say, fucking SAY IT and make your fucking point.

  28. As I stated, It was an exercise in reducing to the absurd an individuals response to incentives. It was not meant for practical application. However you are mistaken if you do not think that people respond to incentives. Working as an Anesthesiologists at a level one trauma center in San Antonio I have recently had to explain to many of my patients the risk of their waking intra-operatively is extremely unlikely and that the movie Awake is not fare example of the typical anesthesia experience. Yet the realization that they could have awareness under surgery (no matter how rare) was enough incentive to reconsider there surgery despite the numerous more likely adverse events that can occur under anesthetic and surgical care. So, yes people respond to incentives, and many people are under the impression that there airbags will prevent not only their demise but any serious injury if they were to have a wreck. I hope this both clears up the question of incentives and my understanding of blunt, perforating and penetrating trauma that can occur in a motor vehicle accident.

  29. Here is reality, from someone who hates it, yet accepts it with only occasional vacations from it.
    😉

    Universal Airbags will save lives over no air bags at all. For most people and situations they provide a safety improvement. For children and smaller persons, air bags are a safety liability.

    The lesson is the government will trade your life if the overall numbers will improve with a mandate. Even with the nanny-state in control, a responsible person makes themself aware of the facts and takes appropriate actions.

    Airbags were an option long before they were mandated. Many people decided that the benefits were worth the price. Others made a calculation that, for them, airbags were not safer, or they decided the benefits were not worth the price.

    24 hour armed security would enhance almost anyones safety, very few decide that the benefit is worth the cost. When the government makes those decisions for you, your freedom, your responsibility for your own fate, is sadly diminished.

  30. Does this make me a wussy…?

  31. ” He thinks they’re bought and paid for by big corporations who end up writing the laws their stooges pass.”

    Funny thing, that actually is true.

  32. Helping Bush beat Gore was the only thing Nader ever accomplished as a candidate. Oh, and the dashing of a lot of naive hopes on the far left. He can probably accomplish neither (or the like, for you literalists) anymore.

  33. Henrick:

    ” He thinks they’re bought and paid for by big corporations who end up writing the laws their stooges pass.”

    Funny thing, that actually is true.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. I suppose my solution to the problem would be about 180 degrees from Nader’s though.

    Any time you give the thugs enough power to do things, not only will they be battering down doors and accidentally killing old ladies, they’ll also be accepting bribes from the corporate crowd.

    “Please sir, can I have a bowl of porridgeland grant for my railroad?”

    Cue the blinking of giant orphan eyes…

  34. Ralph Nader and his ilk would, if given the authority, shut down every amusement park in America because it’s for our own good. The pitch –

    [looking very concerned, speaking louder than normal conversational tones]

    “People die on thrill rides! Every year completely avoidable tragedies occur because of the inherent danger of amusement park rides.”

    [speaking softer for this part]

    “Parents, children, loved ones have their lives radomly cut short at parks across this great land of ours.”

    [raising voice slightly]

    “And what for? For a few minutes of cheap, needless, pedestrian excitement.”

    [Raising voice and tone to exhortation levels]

    “I say today, that no child’s life should be forfeited for meaningless excitement. No child should lose his mother or father due to the greed, YES GREED, of the carnival and amusement park industries. Join with me to end these menaces, these killer of innocents, these bringers of doom, the thrill ride industry, that heartlessly, greedily, and mercilessly preys on the young, the foolish and the ignorant among us!”

    [wiping brow ith handkerckief, assuming sincere tone of voice]

    “Thank you for your concern and support in this noble and selfless cause!”

    You know he would if he could.
    He’s a killjoy douchebag, who has probably ruined every party he’s ever attended.

  35. What show was it I was watching where there was a suggestion (with some sort of statistic to back it up) where wearing bicycle helmets while riding on roads was actually more dangerous thasn going without because drivers tended to be less cautious around helmeted riders?

    I don’t think we should ever be shocked when things work opposite of planned due to unintended consequences.

  36. it’s plausible if you’re willing to believe that people can sometimes behave in a way that is contrary to their best intentions.

    Most people…given the choice…will behave in a way that’s contrary to their self interest.

    Take away helmet laws and many motorcycle riders stop using them…and head injuries and motorcycle death increase.

    People speed. People run red lights. People get road rage.

    Watch any episode of Deal Or No Deal. Any person with a modest degree of skill can look up the game theory behind it and figure out how to make a reasonably good set of decisions that get them the best deal. But families of morons continue to act like idiots on the program.

    Most of the winners on American Idol have gone on to little or no real success. If they had the potential to be a successful star, there are a lot more effective and less humiliating ways of doing it.

    Few of the contestants on Survivor has been able to leverage their 15 minutes into little more than jail or obscurity. For most, the experience has been little more than a window onto how despicable they actually are.

    Most union member auto workers….given the option of a buyout will take it…even though it usually amounts to little more than a year or two of their annual salary.

    Even though research has shown overwhelming pluses in using seatbelts, without a law telling them to, most people will never put them on.

    There are a great number of drunk drivers who, despite losing licenses, freedoms, cars and other peoples live, will continue to drive drunk.

    My point is that the theories that most people will act in their own self interest is simply false.

    People balance short-term conveniences against long term risks. Even when statistically, the chance of a negative outcome is small, but the impact of the negative outcome is often catastrophic, lots of people will take the long-term risk to get the short-term convenience.

    Statistically, if people invested the same dollars in personal savings that they do in trying to win the lottery, most of them would likely be much better off.

    Sadly, a lot of people act like idiots in a variety of situations.

    Oh…and Nader’s a nincompoop but it’s worth his popping up right now just to see the eye-rolling.

  37. Jim Bob-Are you drunk, stupid, or, as your handle indicates, some combination of the two?

    Post at 6:48,no ellipses…Post at 6:50, no ellipses…Post at 6:53…No ellipses…

    What the f*ck is your point,anyway my inbred friend? That people sometimes act in a way contrary to their own best interests? I agree, which is why though it may overall be long-term rational for a company not to pollute the environment or for meat producers to release tainted meat, they still do it all the time…But you didn’t think your general principle would be applied to your particular sacred cows, now did you?

    Moo…

  38. Hell, I got insurance and an airbag, so why not haul ass everywhere all the time? Oh yeah, the cops don’t like that, crashing raises insurance rates, and even though seat belts and airbags save lives, people still get injured.

    Yet, strangely enough, every time I’m driving my econo-box at night on a country road covered in sheer ice up here, going 40 mph and even then scared shitless of spinning out, there’s plenty of fools in “safe” SUVs passing me at 60+ in the left lane. There’s a sense of invincibility that these safety features bring, for instance drivers who think that having ABS means you’ll never lose traction no matter how fast you go.

  39. I hate,hate Ralph Nader…

    But what seems to piss you guys off is:
    1. Producers were making almost hilariously dangerous cars
    2. They did not stop until he and governments got on their asses

    Sh*t! The MagicalMysticalMarket was supposed to work that out, and this evil man did not sit it out, watching many more people die and get mangled, waiting for that revelational moment,he MADE IT HAPPEN…Without markets…

    How DARE that MotherF*cker!

  40. Voros,

    That was John Stossel on 20/20. He also found that wearing a wig so that people thought he was a woman improved safety even more.

  41. Chris
    It’s the dependence on the safety and not their overall foolishness,eh?

    And you mention you drive an econo-box…Are you not as capable of contributing to the commonweal as those people passing you? Can’t you pull yourself up by our bootstraps? Those who make more money are those who contribute more value to society in a free society…Shame on you my friend! Let the more talented pass you with joy in their greater ability to satisfy the needs of the masses than you! Thank god for the just forces of the market that will make sure that no matter how hard you work (econo-box, ha) your kids will be serving their kids fries for the rest of their lives.

    All hail the magicalmysticalmarket!

    And in case you’re wondering, I pull 100,000 a year…Enough for me, but I’m an evil collectivist, what do i know 😉

  42. MNG,

    The difference is that, unlike a collectivist like yourself, apparently, I don’t succumb to envy that easily. I’m happy with my econobox vs an SUV: fewer trips to the gas station, much easier to park, and fewer moochers asking me for rides due to the tight space. Plus, I can laugh at the conspicuous anticonsumers driving Priuses, knowing that my car is far less damaging to the environment than a hybrid.

    I guess I never realized that the size of my automobile was my destiny. Go figure.

  43. Oh, and I’m currently deciding among four offers for math PhD fellowships of $25,000+ guaranteed for five years from top grad schools. So I’m really not worried about a lifetime in food service, but thanks for the concern, to whatever extent it was sincere.

  44. Hmm, but you mentioned them first…Envy indeed…

    I’ll bet your purchase of the econobox is due more to your lack of sucess in the marketplace of ideas than your choice…

    When your kids serve mine fries, tell them they like them CRISPY. And remember to CELEBRATE the fact that they serve my kids fries, because I probably make more than you do :).

  45. And THUS serve the public more than you do..

    Hail the Market! Originator of Fair and Voluntary (aren’t they the same thing) arrangements!

    So if you are not where you think you should be, remember two things:
    1. the odds are you ain’t getting there
    2. you must not serve the public with the same intelligence, efficiency, etc…

    And, puh-leeze, pile it on, I know what i make, and it’s quite comfortable 🙂

  46. MNG,

    I didn’t know there was that much money in the strawman construction industry.

  47. What gets me is the hard-core libertarian says “envy” to anyone who would are question market arrangements…It’s hilarious since what many of them seem to fear most of all is that someone, somewhere, undeserving in their eyes, will get some of their goodies…By gummit, the rules set up now are fair for once and for all, and I have more than x, and so any x who thinks he can have my stuff is evil I tells ya, EVIL!

    I’ll put it to ya the same way I did a true beleiver once (taktix). You know Michael Moore? You like him? Well, he will make more money this year than you will probably make the rest of your life (I remember taktix being so upset “you don’t know me, I may be on the verge of hitting it bigger…” Hey, taktix, bigger than Moore yet? Huh? Well it CAN’T be something wrong with the market, must be something wrong with YOU). His kids will probably, in fact this is SO CERTAIN I could bet my car on it, his kids are going to make more than your kids. Do you like that? I’m sure MIke will let your kids know how his kids like their french fries…He’s a nice guy that way…As you get older, and you remain at the same place in the market you are now, who are you going to blame? Not the market (blasphemy!). Yourself????

  48. Franklin Harris that is the dumbest thing ever.

    You might want to actually do a little research before you start typing away about what is or isn’t the dumbest thing ever.

  49. MNG,

    I say “envy” to someone who’s trying to get me angry that some people have things I don’t have, and probably never will have. I didn’t realize merely not wanting your possessions taken by force qualified as envy.

  50. I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the concept that people respond to incentives. Namely that Safe cars dont encourage safe driving to the extent that unsafe cars might. This was specifically discussed in a Steven Landsburg book …

    Landsburg’s book is where I first encountered the thought experiment, but there’s now empirical data that seems to back it up (see my post directly above).

  51. Chris
    Please tell your kids: Michael Moore’s kids want EXTRA KETCHUP.

    Do you love your ideology so much that you are happy with your kids serving Mike’s kids fries? You hope that will teach them much-needed-skills?

  52. Michael Moore’s kids will say “hey, Motherf*cker, I need more ketchup” and your kids will RUN…Enjoy the market my friend 🙂

  53. It’s funny, because most libertarians think of that lazy asshole who would want to demand their money for themselves..But of course, there are many lazy assholes who will make more money than them,and who, then, could order them around and they would say “yessa, yessa, Mr. Moore, I’ll have it ready for you! Just one second…”

  54. political parties. He doesn’t like them. He thinks you don’t like them, either. He thinks they’re bought and paid for by big corporations who end up writing the laws their stooges pass.

    This is an excellent illustration of my theorem, “You can’t be wrong all the time, either.”

  55. MNG,

    No offense meant here, but I’m sure George W. Bush will let your kids know how his kids like their fries as well. Or Bill O’Reilly. Or whomever.

    Really, dude, I never claimed that net worth is any measure of one’s value as a human being, and as far as I remember neither did any other “pro-market” people here.

    Honestly, part of the market is in one’s individual decisions about what things are more important than money. Michael Moore, Bill O’Reilly, George W. Bush and all the rest can go on living their dead-on-the-inside corrupted lives.

    By the way, any one who believes the MNG more money = better theory (either ironically, as a strawman argument, or really and truly), should watch this.

  56. The beauty of the market, MNG, is that I’m free to decide to tell him to shove his orders up his voluminous ass, and the only penalty is that I forego some of his money in the process. At every moment, the decision is mine whether I value his money more than my not having to follow his orders.

    Can you offer something better? Has someone finally figured out how to build a society where everyone does as they please and no one has more than anyone else?

  57. And as far as strawman arguments go, the “most libertarians think of that lazy asshole who would want to demand their money for themselves” is the tops. Maybe this is where other libertarians come from, but not me. I know that my reasons for being libertarian all pretty much come from the opposite point of view. I always consider the use of force from my own point of view, as the aggressor, not the victim.

    I don’t believe in taxation, not because I’m so set on keeping my money (I waste a shitload of it on junk), but because I think it’s wrong for me to take money from others. Maybe they don’t deserve it, but why should I (or you, or Dubya) be the one to decide that? I don’t believe in the death penalty because I recognize and reject violent impulses in myself, not because I’m trying to protect myself from the cops. I think the government should be denied powers precisely because I think that my use of them would be wrong.

  58. Extra ketchup, you guys,EXTRA KETCHUP…I make more in ONE YEAR than you will in your entire lives…

    Praise the market!!!When your kids serve mine fries, tell ’em it’s because I served more people better :).

  59. Gotta believe in the guvmint! Gotta believe in the guvmint! Compassionate conservatism all the way!

    If we send yer kids off somewhere to die too bad!

    This is one heck of a nuculer strawman argument!

    Seriously, MNG, you’re going a bit Dondero now man.

  60. I mean next are you gonna quit responding to us because we don’t give us your home phone numbers, loved ones’ addresses, and social security numbers?

  61. I mean next are you gonna quit responding to us because we don’t give us your home phone numbers, loved ones’ addresses, and social security numbers?

    Please, please don’t throw me into that briar patch!

  62. a few minutes of cheap, needless, pedestrian excitement.

  63. Oh, MNG, if this helps you feel better:

    I freely admit that Michael Moore is rich precisely because he gives a lot of people what they want. He does this way better than I could. He does this way better than Chris Potter could. (Sorry, Chris.) We are mathematicians and will likely never give anyone anything they want. What Moore is handing out is not something I think is worth having, but then, if I was willing to compromise what I think is important and lie and give people a handful of shit and tell ’em it was pumpkin pie, I might well be rich too.

    Or I could look like Orlando Bloom. Or have a voice like Allison Krauss. — Lots of ways to be rich, and very few of them say a goddamn thing about a person’s value.

    And MNG, I want to tell you, I don’t think you’re worthless because you’re poor. I think you’re probably a decent fellow.

  64. Sorry: misspelled “Alison”.

    Yet another reason I’m not rich: not a good enough speller.

  65. Wait, you’re a mathematician, and you’re afraid of losing your job because of posting here? Maybe I chose the wrong career… 😉

  66. You’re not on tenure-track yet, Chris. I probably have nothing to worry about, but still …
    better safe than sorry.

    :o)

  67. I guess I should also say to MNG that I don’t begrudge Michael Moore a dime of his money. People want what he’s selling. There are things I think I’m qualified to judge – but what someone else wants is not one of them.

  68. I was just imagining a job interview where my proving of long-standing theorems and development of new numerical approximation methods were overlooked due to the fact that I called someone a “dishonest fucktard” on H&R six years prior.

    Of course, the former hasn’t happened yet, so perhaps it will be so with the latter as well…

  69. So you’re an applied mathematician? That’s what I started out in…it wasn’t my bag, though, and I went into Number Theory.

    I posted a few things under my real name before I got my current job on some other sites, but since then I’ve thought better of it. I don’t know how much politics affects these things, but I have a job at a non-tax funded, only historically religiously affiliated college with a non-boring math department and want to keep it!

    Wait, you haven’t called anyone a “dishonest fucktard” on here yet? I could’ve sworn…

  70. Hmmmm, from that magazine cover it looks like Ralph Nader used to have two full-sized eyeballs.

  71. I am getting some kind if sick pleasure out of this. It will force the Democrats to work just that much harder for those 400,000 or so votes that could determine such a close election.

  72. MNG, the nice thing about principled libertarianism is that you don’t have to feel that other people making more money is some kind of slight to your own ego. It’s your little zero-sum pretend world where if Michael Moore’s kids make a lot of money, mine should somehow be ashamed.

    At any rate, I’m sure my kids will consider not being born to that dishonest fat slob to be adequate compensation for whatever pay gap may eventually exist between their salaries.

  73. I hope Mr. Moore’s kids (whoever serves them) don’t eat as many french fries as Mr. Moore seems to have eaten. I’m thinking Mr. Nader might not approve. French fries have been shown to be dangerous, and according to Mr. Nice Guy, because of that, the producers of french fries should be forced to make them safer by a guy like Mr. Nader, or Mr. or Ms. Government getting on their asses.

    And I’m guessing from all that has gone before, Mr. Nader, and Mr. G.W. Bush have, and make more money than Mr. Nice Guy’s 100 grand/yr. So I guess both of them do contribute and serve the public with more intelligence, efficiency, etc… than he, or many of the rest of us do.

    Oh yea, sometimes Mr. Nice Guy doesn’t seem all that nice.

  74. “Actually, no. They save lives of people in accidents, but they cause more accidents by decreasing the cost of aggressive driving, thus making aggressive driving more common.”

    do you have any evidence to support this interesting, but i suspect ridiculously inaccurate , theory?

  75. “I believe Mr. Harris is referring to the concept that people respond to incentives. Namely that Safe cars dont encourage safe driving to the extent that unsafe cars might. This was specifically discussed in a Steven Landsburg book when he asked the reader to consider how safe they might drive if a knife was mounted on the steering wheel rather than an airbag. It was an exercise in reducing to the absurd an individuals response to incentives. Mr. Harris was stating that when people imagine there cars to be intrinsically safe they put less effort in driving safely.”

    maybe to a very small extent, but i just don’t think it matches with data, or human psychology.

    the least safe drivers are teenage boys and they drive like idiots. period. whether ina sherman tank, or a karman ghia.

    your argument kind of reminds me of the “efficient market hypothesis” which was wrong. it’s fallacy lay in the assumption of “economic man”, which is an unfounded assumption. you are using the same ‘reasoning’ that ivory tower economists used in trying to understand the stock market.

    the reality is that , despite the claims of some here, a very high %age of accidents are caused by aggressive driving, and fairly high %age by careless driving.

    fwiw, volvos are widely known to be among the safest cars on the road. so, if your theory is true, you would expect volvo drivers to have a higher collision rate. i seriously doubt that’s the case. and many, if not most volvo drivers buy them with consideration of their safety (and aging hippie cred)

  76. Isn’t most of Michael Moore’s wealth attributable to government granted monopolies (i.e. copyright)? How is this an example of the free market in action?

  77. I wonder if Nader would rather have “advanced airbags,” or a “green” car.

    I remember when he single-handedly killed the Chevrolet Corvair, the original small, fuel-efficient car. I don’t recall, in his subsequent Green years, Nader ever admitting that might have been a mistake.

  78. Based on his record of automobile “safety” activism, I cannot envision Nader owning anything less substantial than a Humvee. In reality, I suspect he spends most of his time riding on (seatbelt-less and airbag-less) city buses and taxicabs.

  79. Bryan Raynor,

    While I’m not one to defend “government granted monopolies” I think those who discuss them in the terms that you are generally reserve that complaint for patents, not copyrights. Copyright can be pretty easily viewed as part of the purchase contract for books, movie tickets, etc. This sort of contract would exist on its own apart from government were government not involved. Patent law minus government doesn’t work out so well.

    That being said, I’d say that Michael Moore’s wealth is most attributable to the product of his labors. Each of his films were his own idea, his style is his own creation (his combination of documentary, ambush and humor was the first I’d seen), and the profit he makes on them is his by right.

  80. As far as old cars being safe:

    I was driving an old 1972 Buick Electra back in the mid 80s. It only got about 10 mph, but it was one big and sturdy car.

    Being young, poor, and stupid, I once ran out of gas on a highway without a shoulder. One of the guys I was driving home came with me to a gas station and another guy sat in the back of the car (even though we told him to stand away from it).

    We got gas and got back probably in about 30 to 40 minutes. The spot where I left the car was filled with cop cars. Seems a sporty little yellow chevy was bring driven by a fellow who had a couple of cocktails and didn’t notice the emergency lights on my cars until too late. He plowed into the back of the Buick, his engine was on the hgihway, and his front axel was bent 90 degrees. He was pretty pissed off. He was even more pissed off when I put the gas in the car and drove away.

    Besides a bashed in trunk, the Buick was fine. Now THAT is what I call safe.

  81. Nader, a luddite,

    Evidenced by his advocacy for new technology to be placed in cars to improve safety?

    =/;^)

    As for the “seat belts result in more deaths evidence” from a Time magazine article…that seems like a pretty low bar for empirical evidence.

    mandating the use of seat belts in 18 countries resulted in either no change or actually a net increase in road accident deaths.

    I am not sure if the actually study worded its conclusions this way, but there is clearly not enough control in the experiment to get to a causal inference this strong.

  82. his engine was on the hgihway, and his front axel was bent 90 degrees. He was pretty pissed off. He was even more pissed off when I put the gas in the car and drove away.

    Sounds like he was in a pretty safe car as well.
    Would you have survived hitting a large steal object on the side of the road while driving your beast? Or would that smack against your steering wheel left your frontal lobes mush?

    Hard to say, but…

  83. whit said: “fwiw, volvos are widely known to be among the safest cars on the road. so, if your theory is true, you would expect volvo drivers to have a higher collision rate.”

    From my experience living in Minnesota (where I swear half of all Volvos end up), Volvo drivers are the worst. If they have fewer collisions, it may because people like me were extra cautious around them. I always attributed the bad driving to the feeling of safety the drivers had.

    Even worse than Volvo drivers are Prius drivers. The only good thing is that they are very quiet so when I have to yell at them for cutting me off or passing me too close (I bike most a lot) they can hear me clearly. Think globally, drive stupidly appears to be the Prius driver motto.

  84. I always wore my seat beat ;^)

    You’re right, though, he was in a prety safe car.

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