Libertarianism

Nassim Taleb: The Global Rebellion Against “No-Skin-in-the-Game” Insiders

Postmodernism, the ongoing crisis of authority, and the Libertarian Moment.

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The last time Black Swan and Antifragile author Nassim Taleb came up in conversation at Reason.com was hardly auspicious: He backed out of a debate about GMO foods with Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey, whom he called an "idiot" for good measure.

But then there's this important bit that Taleb recently posted to his Facebook page that's worth quoting in its entirety:

What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking "clerks" and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think…and 5) who to vote for.

With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren't even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call "rational" or "irrational" comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.

Ironically, given his recent contretemps, Taleb is in agreement with Bailey's basic thesis in the urgent February Reason cover story, "Broken Science: What happens when cancer doctors, psychologists, and drug developers can't rely on each other's research?" The title and subtitle pretty much gives away the plot, so I won't go into any details here. Suffice it to say that two other features in that issue, one about the state of political polling and one about non-rigourous research on the effects of gun policy on violent crime, are also on point here.

Humanprogress.org

Reading Taleb's exhortation reminded me of Moisés Naím's excellent The End of Power, which states at one point:

Power is shifting—from large, stable armies to loose bands of insurgents, from corporate leviathans to nimble start-ups, from presidential palaces to public squares. It has become harder to wield power and easier to lose it, and the world is becoming less predictable as a result. As people become more prosperous and mobile, they are harder to control and more apt to question authority.

And of Edward Snowden's statement in his recent interview with Reason:

…in Russia there are prohibitions on who and how you can love one another as there were in the United States quite recently. And this kind of thing is being challenged in ways that I think will be difficult to subvert. Does this mean that sort of great powers are just going to you know throw their hands up, give up, and walk away? I think that's unlikely. However, the individual is more powerful today than they ever have been in the past.

Something is happening here, and we do know what it is, Mr. Jones: It's what Matt Welch and I have dubbed the Libertarian Moment (and which Matt will be defending later this week at the Cato Institute in D.C.; sign up to attend or livestream here). In an American context, critics are quick (desperate even) to discuss the Libertarian Moment—"comfort with and demand for increasingly individualized and personalized options and experiences in every aspect of our lives"—only in terms of partisan politics. That allows for a simple, dismissive equation: As goes Rand Paul's presidential run, so goes libertarianism.

But such a banal formulation fails to account for, among other things, the broad-based, globalized hollowing-out of authority and control that Taleb, Naim, and Snowden are talking about. Way, way back in 1979, Jean-Francois Lyotard, at the behest of Quebec's University Council, published The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (the first American edition came out in 1984). Lyotard didn't invent the term postmodern, but he helped famously define it as "'incredulity towards meta-narratives'—suspicion regarding grand theories that claim to explain every cough, hiccup, and burp in human and natural history." It wasn't that the '70s invented skepticism, if not reflexive cynicism, toward authorities of all sorts, from scientific to political to cultural. It's more accurate to say that that gloriously misunderstood decade made it impossible to ignore what everyone knew was true: Your leaders were not only fallible, they were self-interested, and almost certainly full of shit.

Wikipedia

Since then, several developments have proceeded apace. First and foremost, the powers that be in virtually every part of the planet have continued to reveal themselves as incorrigible, both in their pretenses to knowledge and their ability to act in a truly disinterested way. As important, the rest of us have gained confidence borne out of higher levels of education and wealth; we no longer feel as submissive as we once did. And finally, modern technology and communication have allowed us to route around once-unquestionable authorities, whether we're talking about governments or religious leaders or aestheticians or whatever. As with the profusion of sects that followed in the effective disestablishment of state religion in 17th-century England (scroll to end of linked article!), we not only know there are more and more ways of being in the world, we are more and more comfortable with that knowledge—and we are more empowered to start creating the worlds in which we want to live.

The pace of this breakdown in authority is in some ways revolutionary and in some ways glacial. As the techies used to say of the future, it is not evenly distributed. Nor is it a simple triumphant march toward Progress or any fixed end state; it's an endless discovery process that each of us will shape and participate in. It creates space for chaos even as it allows for liberation that was unthinkable even 10 or 20 years ago (can any of us in the West really grok the decline in global poverty and the narrowing of planetary inequality?).

But it is the essential precondition of the Libertarian Moment and it is whipping across the planet like that "Benghali typhoon" that Wired's Louis Rossetto talked about in that mag's first issue. Those "paternalistic semi-intellectual experts" that Taleb disses need not apply.

Reason interviewed Taleb in 2013, when Antifragile had just come out.

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103 responses to “Nassim Taleb: The Global Rebellion Against “No-Skin-in-the-Game” Insiders

  1. Poll:

    Which will we get first-

    1) Libertarian Moment
    2) Flying Cars
    3) Presidential Authoritarian.

    1. Zombie Apocalypse has already started, so those things are irrelevant now. Unless, of course, to thwart it the academics can recommend lifestyle changes for the rest of us.

      1. No link? We haven’t seen the Zombies in the Line Star State yet.

        1. Isn’t there a major infestation in Austin?

    2. 2) already here
      3) FDR

      1. I’m not talking planes with tires and fold up wings. I’m talking no-runway-needed, consumer ready, precipice of ubiquity, flying goddamned cars.

    3. 1. Ephemeral [just try and find two libertarians who agree on anything–besides go away and leave me alone–, then start an actual political party with that].

      2. 15 years [beyond prototypes]; what I really want is a self flying car anyway.

      3. Lincoln [after administering a civil war that killed over 600,000 Americans, how much authoritarian do you need?

      1. Eh, I think you mean Lincoln finished a civil war, the Confederacy being the initiators and all that.

        Also with slavery ended I’d say there was a net increase in liberty gained for humanity as a whole, his excesses in regard to certain newspapers etc. not withstanding.

        1. I suppose you could call me one of those “States Rights” sort of hacks.

          Lincoln established Federal primacy [which is far more substantial than any Supreme Court decisions [Plessy V. Ferguson] through military power, whereby the will of the government was imposed upon its citizens, regardless of the reasons. Eh.

          1. Lol, nullification was never constitutional, and states never had an established power to secede. So after Lincoln, the balance of federalism set out by the founders was intact. FDR is the real villain of federalism.

            1. Which is a bit odd since, as governor, FDR gave one of the best explanations (in 1930) for decentralization and what he called ‘home rule’ – http://www.lexrex.com/enlighte…..ddress.htm It bypasses all the dog-whistling racism of ‘states rights’ and is almost libertarian (not anarcho but true classical liberal)

              And the day he gets into power as Prez that all changes as if to prove that power corrupts.

    4. 3, first happened in the 19th century (Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, take your pick)

      2 has also been around for a couple of decades already, the issues with flying cars are regulatory and legal not technical

      1 is like workable Fusion power just a few years away

    5. As if we haven’t already had plenty of 3.

  2. I am pretty sure gays had sex under the legal radar in every country in history that ever banned gay sex. I am not sure that Russia’s anti-gay laws have to do with the rest of the article.

    And there is another name for a rebellion against no skin in the game insiders; populism. I have nothing against populism but most Libertarians do or seem to at least.

    1. Ideas that are popular aren’t always wrong, they just tend to be. Good ideas are harder to produce and harder to recognize than bad ones, bad ideas are easier to produce and easier to misidentify as good ideas by stupid people. Populism may have it’s uses, but I personally have no use for it.

      1. There is something to be said for the wisdom of the crowd as well. You are right that the mob is a real danger and something being popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is good. At the same time, if your ideas are deeply unpopular for a long time, it is worth considering that maybe there is something wrong with your ideas. Ultimately, I don’t think an idea that people hate and have to have forced upon them can really be called a very good one.

        1. When I think of bad ideas being so bad that the only way to get people to adopt them is to apply force, I think of populism.

          1. When i think of that, I think of socialism. The really bad ideas are so stupid only intellectuals will believe them.

            1. If socialism were a bullet, populism would be the gun.

              1. Bang.

        2. The problem being, populism can only tell you what *doesn’t* work, not what *does*. Wisdom of the crowd tends to be accretive and reactive; it builds up over time in response to a social problem. It doesn’t work on a quick time table or proactively — populism does. In reality a reactionary movement — even an elitist reactionary movement — is far more likely to impart wisdom of the crowd than populism, though populism can tell you what’s not working (at least to some degree).

          1. That is true. But I think its ability to tell you what doesn’t work is often overlook by ideologues of all stripes. Instead of reconsidering their ideology, they forever blame the stupid public for just not seeing and accepting the genius of their ideology.

            1. Didn’t Obama ride to the White House on a wave of populism? Do you also support that kind of populism, or do you only support populism when it aligns with your values?

  3. Taleb makes a lot of sense in this post.

    So what the hell was he afraid of with Bailey?

    (no offense Ron)

    1. smart people can get huffy and act like dicks when they realize they might have made a bad argument and can’t weasel their way out.

      see = H&R threads, at least once a week day

      1. see = H&R threads, at least once a week day hour.

    2. “So what the hell was he afraid of with Bailey?”

      Taleb is kind of a dick who looks down his nose at virtually everyone else and assumes no one can possibly be as intelligent as he is. I think he decided Bailey wasn’t intellectually worthy because few are when it comes to arguing with the Great Taleb.

      Which actually makes his anti-authoritarian arguments kind of ironic, since there is one authority he thinks everyone should listen to – Nassim Taleb.

      1. a dick who looks down his nose at virtually everyone else and assumes no one can possibly be as intelligent as he is.

        So, every progressive ever.

        1. worse = a progressive that runs a hedge fund

          1. Like the recent Hildabeast speech where she brags about putting the coal miners out of work.

            WE KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU, WE ARE YOUR BETTERS. YOU CAN THANK US LATER FOR YOUR UNEMPLOYMENT AND SQUALOR.

            1. All enemies of H&R are “progs” and “leftists,” HM. You know that.

              1. All enemies of H&R

                You’ll also note that above that i pointed out that the guy isn’t actually an “enemy” of anything, and that smart people can often be dicks when they find themselves out of ammo in debates.

                i don’t think its necessary to point to further examples in this case.

            2. No, I was kidding about his “progressiveness”. I was pointing out that the same exact attitude described (“”looks down his nose at virtually everyone else and assumes no one can possibly be as intelligent as he is.“”) is also widely shared amongst ‘quants’ in the finance biz.

            3. I wasn’t saying Taleb is a progressive. I was saying that Irish’s description of Taleb fits progressives.

              1. its best not to interrupt when they’re having an ‘othering’ session

    3. IMHO: why bother? If you’ve ever had a debate with an anti-gmo nutbag, they bury you in ridiculous data (my cousin’s website ran an experiment that conclusively shows…) and anything you say to them, they twist and use for their quote of the day. Nothing you tell them will penetrate their crazy, and in the end, you get nothing for your trouble. Anyone with a brain has already dismissed their stupid.

  4. “people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.”

    I don’t know that ‘ancestral instinct’ has a much better track record of success than the 40% replicability numbers of psychological studies that Taleb is complaining about.

    People should rely on their own intelligence instead of relying on the intelligence of people 1000 miles away, but that’s different from ‘ancestral instinct.’ Taleb tends to start with a reasonable anti-authoritarianism and then wind up making some of the most bugfuck insane arguments I’ve ever heard as a result.

    “I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call “rational” or “irrational” comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.”

    I don’t think it’s a misunderstanding of probability theory. It’s a misunderstanding of the fact that *not everyone wants the same things as Ivy League educated political theorists.* Sunstein assumes everyone wants to eat healthy so it’s irrational not to, when in reality a lot of people just like boozing and eating donuts.

    1. To me this all falls from the ‘false consciousness’ theory. It’s the thing that justifies the so-called ‘nudges’. Everyone really wants to be this, but they’re put upon by society. Let’s help them make informed choices.

    2. You’re both talking to different groups. “Empiricism” has been hit pretty hard in philosophy and the new trend among the types who would have found that attractive in the past is Bayesian rationality. Taleb is making a pretty reasonable point about how these types are misunderstanding Bayesian inference to make judgements about society.

      Most people in society aren’t having a debate on this level, of course; the “rationalists” in popular culture aren’t really smart enough to be thinking about Bayes at all, to them “science” is an affectation and allegiance.

      1. to them “science” is an affectation and allegiance

        Yeah, man. They fucking LOVE science.

      2. Just want to say, excellent point.

        +2 for Trouser

  5. Something is happening here, and we do know what it is, Mr. Jones: It’s what Matt Welch and I have dubbed the Libertarian Moment

    Well, i didn’t see that coming.

    Speaking things being “Everywhere and Nowhere” and shitty-unverifiable-science being used to justify control over people’s lives, here’s a nice piece about how shitty the EPA is

    The nut =

    “Given that these agencies spend billions of dollars of public funds in generating their hundreds, or thousands of new regulatory strictures, you’d think gaining access to the data behind the rule-making would be an obvious requirement. Yet, it’s not ? and it’s not just the EPA that keeps this information behind the curtain; it’s a general behavior of almost all the federal agencies, including the FDA. If these measures pass, and they are signed into law by the president (unlikely, in my opinion), a vast trove of important information will become accessible to scientific review and confirmation ? or debunking.”

    The ‘measures’ referred to was the H.R.1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015. What happened to that?

    1. What happened to that?

      Hitler?

      1. These masturbation euphemisms are getting pretty abstract.

    2. Bill Summary & Status
      Search Results

      Text searched: H.R.1030

      NEXT PAGE | PREVIOUS PAGE | NEW SEARCH
      Items 1 through 2 of 2
      1. [114th] H.R.1030 : Secret Science Reform Act of 2015
      Sponsor: Rep Smith, Lamar [TX-21] (introduced 2/24/2015) Cosponsors (28)
      Committees: House Science, Space, and Technology; Senate Environment and Public Works
      House Reports: 114-34
      Latest Major Action: 3/19/2015 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

      2. [114th] H.RES.138 : Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1029) to amend the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to provide for Scientific Advisory Board member qualifications, public participation, and for other purposes, and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1030) to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.
      Sponsor: Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26] (introduced 3/3/2015) Cosponsors (None)
      Committees: House Rules
      House Reports: 114-37
      Latest Major Action: 3/17/2015 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On agreeing to the resolution Agreed to by recorded vote: 236 – 180 (Roll no. 117).
      Latest Action: 3/17/2015 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

      1. Passed the House and is in the Senate EPW Committee.

        It’s in the hands of Senators Jim Inhofe and Barbara Boxer?

        1. It’s in the hands of Senators Jim Inhofe and Barbara Boxer?

          IOW, stick a fork in it.

        2. How does that work? A committee can prevent the wider senate from ever voting on an act?

          I’d think the strategic move would be to sit on it until after the election and then try to get it through when/if someone more amenible takes office. you know, in like 1000 years.

    3. re: “H.R.1030 – Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.”

      …. i’m going to guess that the senate decides to hold off on this, because the president would simply veto?

      Can the senate sit on a proposed act indefinitely?

      1. If it does, and we get to the next Congress, I believe it has to be redone.

        1. well, something to look forward to then. I like the idea of the act but hope they don’t turn it into some symbolic bullshit they have no attempt at practically passing.

    4. EPA alone refutes Nick’s fever dream. And wasn’t it your turn to watch him today? He keeps escaping his room and finding a keyboatd.

  6. “…As important, the rest of us have gained confidence borne out of higher levels of education and wealth; we no longer feel as submissive as we once did…”

    I seem to recall Obo standing before a crowd of supposedly educated, motivated folks at SXSW, whining that some people want to keep some data from the gimmint.
    And I didn’t hear of a single person there griping about that.
    So, suffice to say, I’m skeptical regarding this claim.

    1. But they have a wide variety of choices as to what kind of gadget they can have to be spied on, so – libertarian moment.

      1. And all of them have an uber app. Double Libertarian moment Susan!!

    2. ?@iowahawkblog
      New #DavePoll: what’s your favorite thing about SXSW?

      Kickass PowerPoints
      Panel discussions
      Corporate gift bags
      starving street musicians

      1. “starving street musicians”

        Particularly when you can bait them with a bag of Dorritos held just beyond their reach!

  7. Big Torch and Pitchfork has fielded another Merchant of Doubt !

    Cue indignant Science article and call for RICO investigation by Naomi Oreskes.

  8. What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

    [etc…]

    I’m somewhat familiar with the dustup between Bailey and Taleb, but given this passage alone, I have no problem with what I’m getting as the wider point.

    so if there’s anyone who reads Taleb extensively, is he just trying to replace the aforementioned with himself? What’s his beef with GMO? And is Taleb one of those types that really means “The Kochs” when he refers to: “policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us”

    1. I guess we’ll never know since he ducked the debate.

    2. He can only see black swans therefore we can never change anything ever again. I think it’s all based on some perverted raven paradox.

      1. Sure that’s not “ravin'”

    3. I think Taleb is advocating decentralization at core. It is the top-downness of the authority that is the problem – not authority per se. I don’t specifically know the GMO stuff – but, like climate change, it is very much in synch with the top-downness of incontestable central authorities in white lab coats asserting that this/that/other is safe/harmful/etc and using that knowledge/assertion to cram down their policy preference on everyone else.

    4. He’s an uber greenie. He doesn’t eat anything that wasn’t produced locally to him in religious observance. Hey, at least he’s consistent.

  9. the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks”

    Speaking of policymaking clerks, I am being driven bananas by the ceaselessly fawning Janet Yellin, Superstar coverage of every fucking sniffle, sneeze and bowel movement at the Federal Reserve Bank.

    Carry on.

    1. One person controlling the value of your wealth is small potatoes…

  10. The real moral is that crap science is what you get when you budget by political correctness instead of need.

    If there were no coercive government funneling tax dollars into bureaucracies whose only motive is growth, you wouldn’t have crap social science empires full of bullshit majors and nonsensical studies. See “Sokal hoax” for a prime example which should have been taken to heart.

    When you replicate garbage in, you get garbage out.

  11. I think that’s unlikely. However, the individual is more powerful today than they ever have been in the past.

    Snowden is absolutely correct about this. So is Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, the only question I’m asking is, how much of that power the individual now claims matters in the political arena?

    From a political standpoint, the individual has LESS power than ever before– we are largely governed by completely undemocratic institutions and regulatory agencies which are validated by the mere fig leaf of democracy.

    I think that the old institutions of power are more fearful of individuals than ever before. So if people are going to start asserting themselves by wading into the quagmire of leviathan’s regulatory institutions, how much blood — actual blood– will get spilled if we try to dismantle them?

    1. There’s an interesting devil’s advocate point of view with the increased government intervention in markets and society. It turns those government benefits into “rights” as the lefties call them, which makes it harder for the government to remove them. In the old limited-government days, if the government wanted to cross you, they only had to find a willing business who could refuse you service. Now they have to do it themselves, and that runs into due process of law, equal rights, and other legal remedies.

      Meanwhile, a lot of what people do is beyond government control, like Facebook; they can’t control news like they used to when there were three broadcast networks and nothing else.

    2. how much of that power the individual now claims matters in the political arena?

      None.

    3. the individual is more powerful today than they ever have been in the past

      I’m not sure I’d agree with that. I would have been more able to do any number of things economically yesteryear than I would today; I would be more likely to find actual diversity of opinion (hell, actual *opinion*) in years past than today, and in terms of intellectual freedom I would have been more able rather than less to participate in those debates without an academic degree than I am today. We’re certainly wealthier, but am I able to use my wealth for the great things that people in the past were able to? Can I create my own community of conscience with like-minded people as easily as in days past? I don’t see it — and I do see that we’re treated more as children now than in ages past. Glad I have the right to stick my dick in more things than I did in some other eras, but that has never been the monumental human freedom; far from it. Right now we’re living in an interregnum of freedom where the past was more free and where the future is potentially more free as well, as virtual worlds or space exploration seem more possible. For right now, there’s a strangehold over human possibilities as compared to other eras.

  12. One thing we can all agree on is that if we rearrange the letters in “Nassim Taleb” we can make new words like:

    Lesbians ATM
    bestial mans
    blames saint
    I sent balsam
    man is stable
    ablest am sin
    amble tin ass

  13. People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.

  14. STEVE SMITH PREFER “STEVE SMITH MOMENT” – WHEN STEVE SMITH RAPE ALL POLICY MAKING GOONS!

    1. Are we collecting donations to fund the capture and transport of STEVE SMITH to D.C.? If so, I’ll gladly chip in my $1.05.

  15. What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

    Nonsense! That rebellion is based on a misguided idea. Those experts are the sages, the wisest among us who know what is best for each of us rubes who are simply too greedy and selfish to see the big picture, and too naive and stupid to see the great solutions to the great problems they can discern. That’s why we vote for them.

    NO! There’s no contradiction with that last sentence! What are you, some kind of anarchist?

  16. “…, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, …”

    I thought macroeconomic was the astrology of economics.

    1. It puts the “Dismal” in “The Dismal Science”

    2. Macroeconomics is the science of seeing the most complex self regulating machine possible, and then deciding that the thing to do is poke it with sticks in random ways to try and make it work better, then when that doesn’t work deciding to kick it, while yelling because it doesn’t do what you want it to do.

      This would not matter except that what the machine does is make happiness. Macroeconomics is the ‘science’ of breaking the happiness factory.

  17. Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking.

    One gigantic flaw in policymaking is a willful disregard for any rational definition of costs or benefits. Some things are deemed to be good, per se; consequently, they are to be attained regardless of cost or effort.

  18. What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us … what to eat …

    That’s rich coming from a guy who wants to ban GMO foods based on the precautionary principle.

    I guess it’s different when he does it because unlike those “paternalistic semi-intellectual experts” he really is a Top. Man.

    1. inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us … what to eat

      When you consider that no one at reason is in any danger of losing their job to a foreign worker or because reason has decided to relocate overseas, doesn’t the above quote describe the reason staff at least with regard to trade and immigration issues?

      1. Maybe the staff here understands that they are better off when they only need to spend 30% of their income to buy things that would otherwise cost 60%.

        Seriously: BUT TRADE DOESN’T AFFECT THEM! is completely retarded. Trade affects everybody, and free trade is good for everybody. Tell me: why should the economy be forced to withstand $250k in higher prices so you can maintain your $30k per year job at the shoe factory? You, me, and everybody else would all be better off if you figured out something better to do with your time than sew tags onto sneaker tongues.

        1. Sure it effects them. They benefit from it. They like their cheap shit. What is retarded is to pretend that they are doing anything besides promoting their own self interest when they argue for free trade.

          Tell me: why should the economy be forced to withstand $250k in higher prices so you can maintain your $30k per year job at the shoe factory?

          If losing that 30K job produces all kinds of social dislocation and second order effects and we are wildly wealthy otherwise, maybe. You operate on the utterly unexamined assumption that marginal gains in overall wealth are the only legitimate end of government policy. And when you are in the give me my cheap shit class, it makes total sense that you would. Those in other classes have a different view.

          1. Goddamn washing machines! Just look at what they did. Suddenly women were forced out of their millenial duties. They were forced to get higher paying jobs and that led directly to the breakdown of the family. Utter devastation!

            I’m with you, John, and don’t get me started on Satan’s tractors!

            1. You are intentionally conflating labor force multipliers with work removal.

              After the washing machine, women were still washing clothes, just not by hand. They became more productive in their household work because they weren’t spending most of the day processing laundry..

              When a group losses their jobs to outsourcing, they become less productive. In the best case scenario, society spends double their wages to reintegrate them into the workforce with new jobs. Worst case is perpetual dependence on the state.

        2. Actually the issue of outsourcing and the free trade agreement stuff is not that at all. The question is why has the US gotten itself into a position where it is cheaper for a company to outsource something to Mexico/Malaysia than it is to outsource something to rural Mississippi. It ain’t the land/labor costs – those are damn near identical. It is the infrastructure. We have no problem spending hundreds of billions a year keeping oil cheap and protecting ocean trade routes so shit can be shipped from Malaysia to here (or lettuce can be shipped from the Imperial desert in CA to dinner tables on the East Coast). But we have no interest in extending any other infrastructure – at much lower cost – even within the US. So those areas are less connected to the American economy than many parts of the Third World are.

          It’s dysfunctional and insane. And while there are thousands of ways in which classical liberals and true free market advocates could fix this stuff – with far more limited government than today, libertarians will remain irrelevant as long as they are willfully trapped in anarcho theory and Randian dingleberryism. And absent a free market voice, its the Trumps/Sanders who will benefit from the ‘libertarian moment’.

          1. I knew you were clueless when you dropped the word “infrastructure”, a word which is parroted by leftoids as an excuse to raise our taxes even higher in order to pay for something we’ve already paid for a million times over, but the State just hasn’t gotten around to fixing it yet.

            Qua government involvement, outsourcing happens due to taxes and regulations, not nebulous thinking about infrastructure.

  19. Revolt against those without skin in the game has nothing to do with libertarianism. Confucianism can be constructed as a reaction to this feature in the Warring States period, and it’s not even close to being libertarian (though not as far as is sometimes thought, either). Socialism was, too (and is getting a hell of a lot more applause and attention these days than libertarianism, by the way). Lower-level non-philosophical movements like populism, as well — and Islamism is arguably a reaction to just this tendency in the Middle East.

    Libertarians have done an extraordinarily poor job of capturing any of this energy, largely because they continue to waste time in philosophical musing of the sort that doesn’t relate to this concern and because culturally they have in fact aligned themselves with the “elite” view on culture and to a lesser degree on economics, as well.

    1. This 100%.

  20. These masturbation euphemisms are getting pretty abstract.

    It’s abstract masturbation euphemisms all the way down.

  21. the bill (H.R. 1030) to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating regulations or assessments based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible.

    The Republicans want to abolish the EPA. I knew it!

    1. That is pretty much the reaction of every single media organization who reported on the bill last year.

      They fucking love science.

  22. Feynman also warned about bad science in a 1981 BBC interview. He called out people who “follow the forms” of science but don’t do anything proactive beyond that. Also: “I see how they get their information. And I can’t believe that they know when they haven’t done the work necessary, they haven’t done the checks necessary, they haven’t done the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don’t know and that they are intimidating people by it.”

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