Economics

Disaster Capitalism Revisited

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George Mason economist and author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies Bryan Caplan asks:

If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that "Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster"?  Can you honestly give any answer less than 90 percent?

Can you?

George Mason's Robin Hanson has a subtly different take:

Can you imagine any crisis where voters would expect a substantial reduction in government to be the best response? 

Hanson goes on to note that this may put paid to Naomi Klein: "If you can't, that says there is almost no prospect for a crisis-induced libertarian revolution."

More debunking of disaster capitalism here.

NEXT: The Health-Status Insurance Solution

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  1. You can try to sell me on voters being irrational. You can try to sell me on consumers being, overall, rational. But you can’t sell me both at the same time. It just doesn’t work.

  2. Naomi Wolfe is a fucking genius. All the energy that should be put into attacking disaster socialism is being diverted into debunking disaster capitalism.

    Thus, disaster socialism carries the day.

    You can try to sell me on voters being irrational.

    As voters, people tend to be irrational, because they vote on primitive tribal/emotional grounds in order to try to subjugate their neighbors.

    You can try to sell me on consumers being, overall, rational.

    As consumers, people tend to be rational, because they make economic decisions based on their own self-interest.

  3. While we’re at it, the top ten Nielson rated TV shows consistantly never match the year-end critics list of top ten shows.

    SHould we expect politics to be different?

  4. Can you honestly give any answer less than 90 percent?

    80%

    There’s always that substantial grouping of people who reply “don’t know” to just about any survey question asked to them.

  5. You can try to sell me on voters being irrational. You can try to sell me on consumers being, overall, rational. But you can’t sell me both at the same time. It just doesn’t work.

    Why not? When consumers buy something, they receive virtually all of its value. When voters vote on something, they receive virtually none of its value.

    Why shouldn’t people over time do a better, more rational job of the former than they do of the latter?

  6. me: We just gave you a piece of chocolate cake to eat. Was what you just ate:
    A) Chocolate Cake
    B) Not Chocolate Cake
    C) Don’t Know

  7. max hats:

    You’re right, but the point is that voters aren’t being consumers at the same time. Voters are being daydreamers and wishful thinkists when they go voting. They get a little more serious when they are spending their own money and nearly instantly and directly feel the effects of their consumption decision.

  8. Constant droning about the evils of capitalism without the same level of droning about the evils of government has got us to where we are today.

    After the unpleasantness of the Bush administration, you’d think the left would be a little more receptive to the idea of limited government. But no, now unlimited government is great, because the Democrats are running it. Until 2010 or whenever we switch hit again. Yep, same batter, just hits lefthanded or righthanded sometimes.

  9. What if the President said something reassuring like “no one is actually starving”

  10. If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that “Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster”? Can you honestly give any answer less than 90 percent?

    No.

    Can you?

    I said no, dammit!

    Can you imagine any crisis where voters would expect a substantial reduction in government to be the best response?

    I’m hoping the War on Drugs Sanity does it. I am not encoraged.

  11. You aren’t talking about the same thing when you are comparing rational voters and rational consumers. Voting is a single event, with feedback opportunities, what every 2-4 years? You have to be super rational to be right more than you are wrong when you vote on complex issues both because the process is only slowly iterative and because solutions are too easily proposed that export costs.

    Market participants are forced to choose on the assumption of costs incurred to them, and prices change billions of times per day in some cases. Feedback is more or less constant, so the consumer in a very real sense knows more about what he’s doing at the store than he knows what he’s doing at the voting booth.

  12. Just to add to the responses already given to Max Hats: Duh.

  13. Voters pay taxes, and the government provides services. Voting isn’t exactly the same as a market transaction, but it is far from being completely opposite. I’m far from a high bracket, but I certainly pay more in taxes than I do on my cell plan, or on my car insurance, or on any large number of corporate products and services. Similarly, the government has more say on my future than does AT&T.

    I know what it’s like to have one’s views politically marginalized. There is a great incentive to make up stories about how one can be so right and the people can be too dumb to see it. The reality is always the same, though – one’s perfect little philosophy isn’t that perfect, and the voters have their reasons for voting for something else.

  14. “If you can’t, that says there is almost no prospect for a crisis-induced libertarian revolution.”

    This statement obviously uses the peaceful definition of ‘revolution’, and I agree with the statement used in that context, but the other definition may apply. It did in the American Revolution. Optimists believe it will never happen again. Historical illiterates they must be, because every great empire has come to an end and many of them were undone by the populace in violent revolution.

    We should expect no more from our future than we have seen in our past.

  15. The value of an individual transaction in the marketplace is very high to the consumer. The value of an individual vote in an election is very low to a voter. The results of the election as a whole may matter, but the single vote is worth virtually nil.

  16. “You’re right, but the point is that voters aren’t being consumers at the same time. Voters are being daydreamers and wishful thinkists when they go voting. They get a little more serious when they are spending their own money and nearly instantly and directly feel the effects of their consumption decision.”

    I don’t agree with is at all. People are either irrational in their choices or not. A choice is a choice, whether choosing a candidate or choosing a product or service.

    The problem is that elections are often prearranged so that the choice offered is between Pepsi and Coke, i.e. not much of a choice. It’s a Hobson’s choice in other words, you’re screwed either way.

  17. max hats,

    Would you rather own the car you own today, or a car that was chosen for you the way the US chooses a president?

    Why would you make any effort to figure out what you want in a car when it’s only going to end up being the car preferred by 63 million people rather than the car preferred by 56 million people?

  18. The value of an individual transaction in the marketplace is very high to the consumer. The value of an individual vote in an election is very low to a voter. The results of the election as a whole may matter, but the single vote is worth virtually nil.

    No matter how much Pepsi I buy, the Pepsi corporation will never kill tens of thousands of Iranians. Union Carbide on the other hand

    While the individual decision in an election is tiny compared to any given market transaction, the importance of the end result affected by that transaction is huge – far greater than any possible individual financial decision.

    Furthermore, for such a meaningless triviality, many many people make politics a huge part of their lives. Again, there’s a problem – why are so many of these rational consumers delusional enough to believe politics matters?

  19. Would you rather own the car you own today, or a car that was chosen for you the way the US chooses a president?

    Why would you make any effort to figure out what you want in a car when it’s only going to end up being the car preferred by 63 million people rather than the car preferred by 56 million people?

    Unless my car directly affects everyone who voted for or against it, this does not make a lot of sense.

  20. why are so many of these rational consumers delusional enough to believe politics matters?

    Because they’re assholes.

    Or “As voters, people tend to be irrational, because they vote on primitive tribal / emotional grounds in order to try to subjugate their neighbors,” as I dimly recall reading somewhere, long ago.

  21. mh,

    according to Caplan

    Sometimes, however, it is virtually costless for the individual person to hold on to their preconceived beliefs, and people like those beliefs. Rational irrationality simply states that when it is cheap to believe something (even when it is wrong) it is rational to believe it. They refuse to retrace their logic and seriously ask themselves if what they believe is true. For some people, thinking hurts and they’ll avoid it if they can. This often appears in politics. From page 132,

    ” Since delusional political beliefs are free, the voter consumes until he reaches his “satiation point,” believing whatever makes him feel best. When a person puts on his voting hat, he does not have to give up practical efficacy in exchange for self-image, because he has no practical efficacy to give up in the first place. [Original Emphasis]

  22. Unless my car directly affects everyone who voted for or against it, this does not make a lot of sense.

    Makes sense to me.

    I go to the store to buy some hot dogs and, for the sake of argument, I have Oscar Meyer and Nate’s to choose from. Now, I think OM tastes like crap and I buy Nate’s. The guy behind me buys the Oscar Meyer brand, becasue Nate’s gives him the runs. We both leave relatively happy (and both of us could have bought Polack Johnny’s and been REAL happy or decided that we’d rather have hamburgers).

    Contrast that with the political process, even though I voted for Nate’s hot dogs, I have no coice but to eat Oscar Meyer hot dogs.

  23. Again, there’s a problem – why are so many of these rational consumers delusional enough to believe politics matters?

    Politicians in general are often lying sacks of sh*t, but please don’t tell me that who is making the decisions doesn’t matter at all.

    If some guy wants to take between 30-35 percent of my money, the other guy wants to take between 40-50 percent of my money, and one of them is going to be in charge, you better believe that matters to me.

  24. If you can’t [imagine any crisis where voters would expect a substantial reduction in government] that says there is almost no prospect for a crisis-induced libertarian revolution.

    And since a libertarian revolution necessarily threatens the status quo, the status quo has every reason to make sure that that the government is always in a state of self-described crisis. Terrorism, inflation, unemployment, a lack of socialized medicine, Social Security, homelessness, homefulness, Geriatric Profanity Disorder…it will never end.

  25. Back in the early 1980’s, the Paul Volker and Ronald Reagan deliberately, and wisely, pretty much, drove the unemployment rate up to 10.8 percent, much higher than it is now. Reagan, you may recall, was re-elected.

    The problem is, as poor Bryan is unwilling to admit, that 95 percent, or more, of the people believe that if the government hadn’t acted, things would be far worse.

    If the real capitalists–I mean the guys who run the economy, as opposed to those who write about it–think that government intervention is so bad, why do they always insist on it? Why didn’t Bear Stearns just go bankrupt? And ditto AIG? And why does everyone say that the worst thing that Paulsen did was his decision NOT to prop up Lehman Brothers?

    Libertarians ought to face the fact that Wall Street, through its own incompetence, has blown itself up and sold itself to Washington. Liberals are not the cause of this mess but rather its custodian.

  26. If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that “Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster”? Can you honestly give any answer less than 90 percent?

    OTOH if the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets had all recovered, what fraction of people would conclude that “Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster”?

    Obviously, if you presume that a policy won’t work, you can show that voters won’t support it.

    Can you imagine any crisis where voters would expect a substantial reduction in government to be the best response?

    The War on Drugs springs to mind.

    Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

    Currently it’s because rational voters are forced to choose the lesser of two evils without any chance of voting for another viable alternative.

  27. I go to the store to buy some hot dogs and, for the sake of argument, I have Oscar Meyer and Nate’s to choose from. Now, I think OM tastes like crap and I buy Nate’s. The guy behind me buys the Oscar Meyer brand, becasue Nate’s gives him the runs. We both leave relatively happy (and both of us could have bought Polack Johnny’s and been REAL happy or decided that we’d rather have hamburgers).

    Contrast that with the political process, even though I voted for Nate’s hot dogs, I have no coice but to eat Oscar Meyer hot dogs.

    What exactly is your argument? That everyone should be able to choose their own individual government? I’m completely at a loss trying to figure out what you and MikeP are saying.

    We vote for governments but we don’t vote for consumer products. No shit. It doesn’t work the other way around. No shit. What are you saying?

  28. Since “everyone” knows that it was unrestricted Capitalism that got us into this mess, can anyone please give me some examples of countries that are in equally bad shape that are already Socialist (or Socialist Lite) along the lines of what Obama has in mind for us?

    I’d love to have examples to use on my liberal friends.

    Thanks

  29. Dello,

    It wouldn’t matter. Those perfect Socialist utopias were ruined by evil greedy America, not their own stupidity.

  30. The success of the Snuggie has to be due to rational consumers!

  31. Naomi Klein never predicted a “libertarian revolution”, she talked about governments and big business working together to create a corporatist system, using shocks and disasters to privatize whereever there’s profit to be made.

    Big Business is almost as hostile to a truly libertarian system as Big Government is.

  32. When you are buying shit, you are absorbing all of the costs and getting all the utility of your purchases. Thus you have to think seriously about how to balance what you’re paying for and getting – you can prioritize tribal status signals and emotional satisfaction over more basic utility in your purchases, but only so much, because you are ultimately responsible for your decision. When you put your 10 gallon voter hat on, you are absorbing a tiny fraction of the costs and getting a tiny fraction of the utility of the decision, the responsibility for which you share with tens of millions of others. So Yes We Can prioritize the status, tribal and emotional rewards of the decision rather than submitting it to more rational judgment. And if all we get it out of it is the satisfaction of seeing our Totemic Champion smite the Totemic Champion of our neighbors, that’s reward enough for the opportunity costs of trekking off to the elementary school to vote, which are the only direct and immediate costs we absorb.

  33. Peter K.:

    I don’t agree with is at all. People are either irrational in their choices or not. A choice is a choice, whether choosing a candidate or choosing a product or service.

    Not at all, huh? The key is that rationality takes effort. Rationality has a cost, it can also provide benefits. Irrationality doesn’t take so much effort, it can also have a benefit, but there are costs to it as well.
    Therefore, if the benefits of irrationality exceed the costs of irrationality, people will choose the irrationality. This is what happens with voting. In private consumption or investment decisions, irrationaliy could be very costly indeed, the rationality would take effort, but its less than the costs of irrationaity, the benefits of being rational will exceed the costs, so people choose rationality. Thus, there can be such a thing as Caplan calls rational irrationality.

  34. We vote for governments

    In most cases we don’t for governments, we vote for agents of government. The government, the Constitution or Charter, already exists. The fact that a plurality of people vote for placeholders who ignore the constraints placed upon them is the problem.

  35. “one’s perfect little philosophy isn’t that perfect, and the voters have their reasons for voting for something else.”

    No one is disputing this. The question is, how qualified are you to choose ATT as a telephone provider for yourself? How qualified are you to choose ATT as a provider for everyone in the country?

  36. Can you imagine any crisis where voters would expect a substantial reduction in government to be the best response?

    The Holocaust?

    *ducks*

  37. me: We just gave you a piece of chocolate cake to eat. Was what you just ate:
    A) Chocolate Cake
    B) Not Chocolate Cake
    C) Don’t Know

    (B). You just gave me chocolate cake to eat *and then asked the question* Since I could not have not eaten the chocolate cake yet, what I just ate was likely the main course.

  38. I think the problem in the parent is that it confuses the common definition of “rational” with the way that economist and game theorist use the term.

    Economists and game theoriests axiomatically define a “rational” choice will give the highest chance of accomplishing a previously defined goal given a specific set of parameters. That choice is defined axiomatically as the “rational” choice. Rational in this context does not mean wise, intelligent, most-good-for-the-most-people or any of the other concepts attached to the word in common speech. In poker, game theory defines a different set of choices as rational depending on whether you want to make a killing, come out even or use the game as a pretext to transfer some money to a friend.

    In the real world, we even begin to establish the parameters of a “rational” consumer or political choice. Which is it more “rational” to purchase: Coke or Pepsi? Which is more important: short-term material equality or long-term political equality? Is it more rational to work as much as possible to generate the highet possible income than it is to work less so you can enjoy time with your family? Is it rational for poor people to vote for politicians to give them money today or vote for a free-market on the chance they will be better off long term? All these questions are meaningless because they ultimately devolve to non-logical, emotive preferences.

    The idea that individuals either as consumers or as voters make “rational” choices presupposes that every human being or, indeed, any human being at all, can at any moment understand the totality of every human interaction at any given instant and that the person can predict all the future possible interactions. Clearly, this is impossible. Rather it is the emergent behavior of billions of interactions that produces optimum outcomes.

    Whether we choose to define its outcomes as “rational” or not, we can say objectively that the free-market processes many orders of magnitudes more bits of information than does the political system. Politics deals with airy abstracts in which all the real-world detail has been stripped out. The free-market by contrast, marks the fall of every economic sparrow or at least every piece of gum purchased. Unless someone can come up with an explanation why less information is better, we can presume that the free-market will work better over the long run.

  39. Unless my car directly affects everyone who voted for or against it, this does not make a lot of sense.

    Perhaps you misunderstood the example. Under the system of political selection of cars, your car is exactly the same car as everyone else who acquired a car in this quadrennium drives.

    Perhaps you voted for the winning car. Perhaps you voted for the losing car. Perhaps you’re one of those nuts who voted third car, or even wrote in the car you really wanted to drive. That doesn’t matter. The car you got was the car that 63 million people chose.

    Why would you bother trying to make your choice of car particularly rational? The likelihood you help decide what car you’ll be driving is utterly minuscule. Furthermore, even the second place car is far less desirable to you compared with the car you would get on the free market.

    The bottom line is that voters have little incentive to be rational while consumers have great incentive to be rational.

  40. That everyone should be able to choose their own individual government?

    Im cool with that.

  41. We vote for governments but we don’t vote for consumer products. No shit. It doesn’t work the other way around. No shit. What are you saying?

    I think he means that in voting you’re screwed either way. In choosing products to buy, or making other economic decisions you are actually in control of something that can make a difference in your life. With voting you are stuck with everyone else’s collective choice and your vote really doesn’t make any difference.

    While paying higher or lower taxes will make a big difference in your life, your vote really has very little to do with how you are taxed.

  42. your vote really has very little to do with how you are taxed.

    Even in the rare occurrence that my vote actually matters for anything as large as even a congressional seat, the matter isnt going to be settled by my vote but by the side with the best control of the local court system.

  43. The probability that 1 vote determines a presidential election is something like 1 in 19 trillion. So even if the benefits of making that decision are very large relative to, say, whether to buy the organic eggs or the cheap ones at the supermarket, the expected utility of investing in information about making a voting decision is still going to be far lower than that of investing in research on eggs. Consumers will therefore make more rational decisions than voters.

    Most people interested in politics approach it as a game of celebrities anyway. They’re not earnestly reading policy studies and economic and philosophical theory to determine which candidate in each election comes closest to espousing the right policy solutions for the country. Even the tiny percentage of Americans who follow websites like this one are by & large politically ignorant, compared to their knowledge on consumer products. Even libertarians.

  44. The probability that 1 vote determines a presidential election is something like 1 in 19 trillion.

    Closer to 1 in 19 million. But compared to the probability of 1 in 1 that you get at the supermarket, your argument still holds.

  45. Since delusional political beliefs are free, the voter consumes until he reaches his “satiation point,” believing whatever makes him feel best.

    I know I would feel a lot happier if I believed that socialism worked, that organic foods are really better for you, that genetic modification was dangerous, and that capitalism was evil.

    For one thing, I’d get a lot more dates, and get into many fewer arguements with the progressive morons I am surrounded by. I’d be more popular and have more friends.

    In short, if you can believe whatever everyone else thinks you’re always going to be happier. But some of us are *incapable* of believing whatever we want.

  46. That everyone should be able to choose their own individual government?

    Isn’t that pretty much what Gallatin said, way back in the day?

  47. If the real capitalists–I mean the guys who run the economy, as opposed to those who write about it–think that government intervention is so bad, why do they always insist on it? Why didn’t Bear Stearns just go bankrupt? And ditto AIG? And why does everyone say that the worst thing that Paulsen did was his decision NOT to prop up Lehman Brothers?

    Libertarians ought to face the fact that Wall Street, through its own incompetence, has blown itself up and sold itself to Washington. Liberals are not the cause of this mess but rather its custodian.

    You’ve got to distinguish between “capitalists” (owners of capital) and “capitalists” (ideological).
    An ideological capitalist considers an “owner of capital” just another market actor which the government should never intervene to assist. That individual need not particularly support capitalism itself. They are going to act in their self-interest, and if the government is permitted to do bailouts, then they will sell themselves to Washington when it becomes profitable to do so.

    The (so-called) liberals are responsible for handing that power to government, making it legally permissible for the bailouts to occur. The “capitalists” on Wall Street are no more responsible for the bailout than a wolf is for eating your sheep when you leave the fence unmended.

  48. Libertarians ought to face the fact that Wall Street, through its own incompetence, has blown itself up and sold itself to Washington. Liberals are not the cause of this mess but rather its custodian.

    It would be nice to believe in this simplistic MSM fairy tale, but unfortunately, I’ve got a brain.

    Here, from the New York Times, September 30, 1999, New York Times:

    In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

    The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

    Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. (emphasis mine)

    In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

    ”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

    Now, the next logical step is to ask yourself why the Government and AIG are not so keen to reveal who the cash payouts on these securitized loans are going to, and why it was so easy for them to get the government to agree to this insanity. Did AIG only agree to enter this insane market of securitizing subprime loans after a nod and wink and a agreement of tax payer backing by those wonderful custodians you mentioned?

  49. That everyone should be able to choose their own individual government?

    The more limited government is, the less the government regulates, the more I get to run my own life, the more I get to make decisions that make me happy, the more I am my own individual government.

    Unfortunately that’s too simple for many people to understand.

  50. Closer to 1 in 19 million.

    No, the denominator’s gotta be at least a couple orders of magnitude larger than the actual number of voters, since the possible combinations of votes that would lead to a dead tie or a one-vote difference is going to be divided by a factorial.

  51. Actually, I looked it up, and you’re right MikeP. 1 in 60 million in 2008 according to this piece:

    http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/mlm/probdecisive.pdf

    I wonder if the difference has to do with the fact that analytical approaches to the topic include absurd possibilities like a 99.9%-0.1% victory among the combinations.

  52. In short, if you can believe whatever everyone else thinks you’re always going to be happier.

    i don’t buy this

  53. but anyway it was more of a general point for caplan not pertaining to everyone

  54. 1 in 60 million in 2008 according to this piece

    Hmmm… That seems low. Maybe it’s because McCain was such a long-shot that the expected mean was far from the 50th percentile. In general, without knowing the political situation of the moment, I would expect the odds to be higher than that.

    The way I looked at it is by first accepting that the probability that winning one state by 1 vote times the probability that that state is marginal in the electoral college is approximately the same as the probability of winning the popular vote by 1 vote.

    I would model the popular vote as a normal distribution of possible results, centered at a tie. If we lazily approximate that as a uniform probability distribution between, say, 33-67 and 67-33, then the probability that there’s a 0 or 1 vote margin is 3 in (2/3)*(number of voters) for the two vying candidates — 3/((2/3)*119M) for the last election.

    3/80M = 1 in 27 million.

    Of course, I threw the actual tie in there. If we exclude the tie and only count 1 vote margins, it’s 1 in 40 million.

    I expect the actual odds are even higher because, the way politics works, the trailing party does what it can to capture the leading party’s adherents by running to the center, making large standard deviations unlikely. The more of the probability curve at the center, the more likely a tie.

  55. The probability that 1 vote determines a presidential election is something like 1 in 19 trillion. (And so forth.)

    You’re looking at the overall odds that a one-vote-difference election occurs. The odds that the crucial vote happens to be mine (and thus provides me incentive to vote) are much lower. They also vary by state. The odds that the Presidential race in either Texas or California will be close enough for one vote to count are effectively zero.

    I vote for president because it doesn’t cost me more than a few seconds, while I’m marking a ballot that includes local races I may influence. If I had to drive to the polls just to cast that one useless vote, I’d really be tempted not to.

  56. I vote Libertarian, so the probability that my vote will result in the candidate I want winning is zero regardless of what state I live in.

    I vote to experience the tragicomic catharsis of the whole process. And I don’t vote absentee: You have to be at the polling place to get the full effect.

  57. You know, this whole debate about the relevance of a single vote makes a prime case for decentralizing government.

    A single voter can have a much greater impact at the local level. Hence putting more power in the hands of local governance increases the amount of control individuals have over their government, and hence government accountability.

    Progressives ought to be hard-core local-governance and states rights supporters for just this reason. But no, for some reason they think that having 300 million people vote for one guy for president is a more effective means of giving “power to the people”. As long as the one guy is Hugo Chavez or Barack Obama or whatever strong-man personality cult leader they are worshipping at that instant.

  58. Max hats seems kinda dumb to me.

  59. You must also take into the account of the propaganda and lies coming from the jewish run media when considering peoples decisions.

    Yes people are RATIONAL. But that doesn’t mean they make the correct decision. When everyone in the media is saying WE NEED MORE GOVERNMENT! WE NEED MORE REGULATION! Most people are gonna at least partly listen to them.

    The government has hidden costs and it damn well tries it’s best to keep them hidden. The people don’t understand that our economy would drastically increase if we just lowered taxes. They don’t understand that outsourcing IS CAUSED BY GOVERNMENT REGULATION!

    Most people aren’t small business owners or in a position to understand the disastrous government interference in the economy.

  60. Libertarian Evangelism Pointer #358: Avoid the temptation to bring up the Jews!

  61. If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that “Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster”?

    If the federal government had mostly disbanded itself and gone laissez-faire, pretty much by definition we would not have the current economic situation. We would almost certainly have a much better economic situation for the vast majority of individuals and corporations.

  62. What exactly is your argument? That everyone should be able to choose their own individual government?

    Exactly. I should have the choice between several sets of government service plans, with taxes and services varying between the competing plans.

    You’re locked into the mindset, relentlessly drilled into you by teachers spouting pro-government propaganda year after year, that a monopoly government is the only possible option, and everything else is literally unthinkable.

    Monopolies don’t work as well as competition, and that applies to governments.

  63. How about healthcare. Anyone who remembers the original medicare debates remembers the BS that the Left used to sell the program that it would cost less than a billion dollars and solve the ills of society. Last time I looked healthcare costs were soaring as a result of this program, it is bankrupting the nation, and surprise, surprise the costs keep going up.

    Or if you believe in government tell us why government run education has done such a wonderful job.

    The Left needs disasters so they can make large ones out of small ones.

  64. Naomi Klein goes to show that a left-winger can become a well-regarded public intellectual while being as dumb as a brick if she is bold enough.

  65. an you honestly give any answer less than 90 percent?

    Yes, that would be exactly 50%. If housing prices fell to market value there would be one happy buyer for every one sad seller.

  66. If the federal government had mostly disbanded itself and gone laissez-faire, pretty much by definition we would not have the current economic situation. We would almost certainly have a much better economic situation for the vast majority of individuals and corporations.

    Hardly. You mean to say that the failure of AIG/Bear Sterns/Citigroup/BofA all at once would not have a disastrous ripple effect, forcing a (short but nasty) depression? People wouldn’t stand for it. This is not to say that the current course of action is or ever was the right one; I prefer outright nationalization and sell-off of these zombie banks.

  67. Libertarians ought to face the fact that Wall Street, through its own incompetence, has blown itself up and sold itself to Washington.

    Most of the libertarians I know think Wall Street sold itself to Washington long ago.

    And, yes, they’re pretty good at facing the fact that buying and selling of government favors is pretty much the principle business of Big Business.

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