Ideas

Political Problems Are Policy Problems

The market's failure to produce an ideal outcome cannot alone justify activist policy, because governments can also fail to produce the ideal.

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A king wanted to audition a new court singer, so his underlings crossed the land, listening to everyone who wanted the job. Finally, they brought two finalists to perform for the king. When the first finished, his majesty said "That's the worst singing I've ever heard" and immediately gave the job to the second singer.

What was his mistake?

He hired someone who might be even worse.

There's an economic lesson here. The market's failure to produce an ideal outcome cannot alone justify activist policy, because governments can, and usually do, also fail to produce the ideal. Since perfection isn't possible, in market processes or in political processes, we need to ask which approach is likely to be better. The case for government intervention must always be comparative.

As I write, Congress is debating a second COVID-19 relief bill. As with the first pandemic bill, both the Democratic and the Republican versions of the legislation contain provisions whose relationship to COVID-19 relief is not clear. The original Republican bill in the Senate contained around $29 billion in military spending, with $8 billion for weapons procurement, including attack helicopters and hypersonic weapon defense. The Democratic version passed by the House in May repeals the $10,000 limit on state and local income tax deductions, and other Democrats have said that a stimulus bill could be combined with spending on climate change and infrastructure after President Joe Biden takes office. Whatever the merits of these proposals, their connection to COVID-19 is minimal at best.

Such spending shows how even well-intended programs end up looking very different after they make their way through the political process. (Each year, state, federal, and local governments combined spend about $1.2 trillion on assistance for the poor, not counting Medicaid. It would take about $200 billion, or one-sixth of what we actually spend, to pull every American family out of poverty.) Whatever the estimated cost of a new long-term program might be when it's being debated, the eventual cost will be much greater, as we've seen with everything from Social Security to Medicaid. By its very nature, the political process transforms clean proposals into messy, more expensive, realities.

Why does this transformation almost always happen? The answer can be found in public choice economics. The founders of public choice theory—among them James Buchanan, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in economics—started from the observation that when economists model political choices, they should make the same assumptions about human motivation that they do when they model economic choices. Why should we believe that the broadly self-interested people who occupy economic models suddenly become concerned only with the public interest when they enter the political arena? This posed a problem for the way many economists approached public policy: Until then, it had been as though they were advising a benevolent dictator rather than engaging in a system populated by real human beings who were no more or less self-interested than those in economic models.

In fact, human beings are always looking to improve their well-being through exchange. This observation is core to economists' understanding of the market; public choice applies the same logic to politics.

The main implication is that for a policy proposal to be accepted, it has to be compatible with the incentives faced by the political actors who will pass it. If it isn't, the proposal will get transformed into something far messier in order to serve those political interests. For example, unnecessary spending and unrelated programs might be added, as they were to the COVID-19 bills.

Consider the budget deficits that the federal government has run almost every year since the end of World War II. At the beginning of that period, macroeconomists argued that it was OK to balance the budget over the course of a business cycle rather than every year. That way, governments could run deficits during recessions and then make up for them by running surpluses in the good years. This sounds good in theory, but in practice it has produced endless deficits: Spending more and taxing less better serves the vote-seeking interests of members of Congress than does cutting spending and/or raising taxes, even during boom times. Self-interested politicians will pretty much always produce deficits, no matter what economists tell them.

This process can produce far-reaching and long-lasting unintended consequences. One example is the creation of the Federal Reserve System. This was no one's idea of a blackboard central bank; its unusual structure, which involved 12 powerful regional banks overseen by a weak Federal Reserve Board in Washington, reflected the political interests of the various players in banking policy in the early 20th century. That decentralized structure was one reason the Fed failed to maintain a sufficient money supply at the start of the Great Depression, as there was no federal group responsible for day-to-day monetary policy.

Many New Deal–era programs fit this story, from the various agricultural programs to the creation of federal deposit insurance; so does the byzantine mess that is the U.S. health care system. The incentive structure of politics produces policies with unanticipated problems, which then lead to calls for more interventions that cause a new set of problems, ad infinitum.

The history of these programs is a warning signal for advocates of proposals like the Green New Deal and the universal basic income: They're going to cost more than you think. They're going to contain many messy vote-seeking and power-consolidating pieces that were not in the advocates' best-drawn plans. And they are likely to produce problematic unintended consequences that you have yet to consider. Public choice should make us highly skeptical that a basic income could ever replace the current welfare system, for example, as opposed to being appended to it.

This is not a partisan issue. No matter who has the majority in either house of Congress, they will face the same incentives to seek votes by spending money and to defer the costs of new programs into the future. The specific ways that thoughtful proposals are transformed into problematic programs may differ by party, but the overarching story is the same.

The people who propose new interventions will sometimes vaguely recognize these problems. But that recognition is usually couched in terms of the need for "political compromise" or other language that makes the issue seem more incidental and less fundamental.

But it's not enough to say, "Those are political problems that we'll deal with later." Whenever a proposal to give government more power or resources—or even to restructure its existing power and resources—is being debated, it has to take these realities into account from the start. If you say you think some regulation will improve matters but that you don't trust the political process to "get it right," you don't really think it will improve matters. The relevant standard of improvement has to build in the institutional incentives of the political process. Otherwise it is just wishful thinking. Only if policy makers can convincingly show that a reform will both ameliorate the problem at hand and be in politicians' self-interest to enact should such a proposal move forward.

Markets are far from perfect, but they channel our self-interest in ways that serve others. Political processes have imperfections too—but imperfections that are far worse at wringing socially beneficial results out of the self-interest and ignorance that characterize the human condition. You can't count on governments to either "follow the economics" or "follow the science," because their job is to follow the politics. We must be wiser than the king and listen carefully to the second singer before hiring him.

NEXT: Europe Considers Orwellian Proposal To Protect Its Dairy Industry From Vegan Competitors

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  1. You can’t count on governments to either “follow the economics” or “follow the science,” because their job is to follow the politics.

    QFMFT. And, as a wise man said, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”

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  2. A king wanted to audition a new court singer, so his underlings crossed the land, listening to everyone who wanted the job. Finally, they brought two finalists to perform for the king. When the first finished, his majesty said “That’s the worst singing I’ve ever heard” and immediately gave the job to the second singer.

    What was his mistake?

    He hired someone who might be even worse.

    Wait a second, wait a second, hold the phone here. Are you suggesting you shouldn’t automatically pick whatever the alternative to the giant douche is because it just may turn out to be a turd sandwich? Suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t just say, “well, nothing could possibly be worse than this choice” and pick another choice because it may be the case that there are in fact worse choices than your original pick? Holy crap, I’ve never thought of it like that, you just blew my mind! I’m going to have to sit down for a minute, this is an astounding thought.

    Now that you’ve opened my mind to this way of thinking, I’m trying to think if there are any recent examples of where people might have failed to look at both their alternatives because they only looked at one of their alternatives and decided it was an unacceptable choice and just automatically took the second choice without realizing it was even worse than the first. I can’t think of any recent examples, but I’m new to this way of thinking and I’m sure if I thought about it long enough I could probably come up with one.

    1. That’s some outlandish thinking.

      1. Almost seditious.

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    2. You mean Biden’s VP choice? You think he just took the first primary loser and said that’s good enough?

      1. Biden picked the candidate with the best hair, unsurprisingly.

        1. Then he would have picked Tulsi.

          1. She’s probably kick his ass if he did.

      2. The choice of any VP is based on providing the greatest deterrent to any one assassinating the prez.

      3. He didn’t even do that. He picked the *third place loser*.

        1. He didn’t pick anybody.
          Biden is a prop.
          Harris is too.

    3. Sure, there are some Biden voters who now rue their choice. On the other hand, Pharaoh Joe’s approval rating is over 60% so far. The 5-10% of the electorate who actually decide elections don’t care about policies nor do they follow politics; they will all proudly tell you they vote for “the (wo)man and not the party.”

      1. They wanted someone who would “do something” about COVID and take it seriously. Even though the states with governors who “did something” and took it seriously were hit just as hard (or harder) than all of the other states.

        1. FOLLOW THE SCIENCE!

          And according to Robert F. Kennedy, Gates was involved in a Polio immunization program in India which paralyzed 490,000 children.
          Promising his share of $450 million of $1.2 billion to eradicate Polio, Gates took control of India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) which mandated up to 50 doses (Table 1) of polio vaccines through overlapping immunization programs to children before the age of five. Indian doctors blame the Gates campaign for a devastating non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP) epidemic that paralyzed 490,000 children beyond expected rates between 2000 and 2017. In 2017, the Indian government dialed back Gates’ vaccine regimen and asked Gates and his vaccine policies to leave India. NPAFP rates dropped precipitously.

          In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) reluctantly admitted that the global explosion in polio is predominantly vaccine strain. The most frightening epidemics in Congo, Afghanistan, and the Philippines, are all linked to vaccines. In fact, by 2018, 70% of global polio cases were vaccine strain.

          India barred the Gates Foundation from funding part of its immunization program, citing concerns over ‘non-governmental organizations’ asserting control over decision making in key policy areas.

          https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/bill-gates-aghast-over-crazy-and-evil-conspiracy-theories-about-he-and-fauci-hints-social

          1. “And according to Robert F. Kennedy,..”

            Why not cite a real authority like Jenny McCarthy?

            1. I thought he was dead.

      2. Anyone quoting polls is a fool.

        1. As is anyone who completely disregards them.

          1. How so? What difference in my life could it make if SleepyJoe has a 60% approval rating or 40% or 80%? Might as well tell me boot production is up 23%, or beyonce has a new hit single climbing the charts. So what.

            1. Didn’t think they took polls until at least a month after the inauguration. Seems pretty pointless.

              1. I will be very surprised if Biden’s approval is more than 50% after 3 months, unless he does absolutely nothing, in which case I would have to approve too.

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    6. Finally, someone else who’s passionate about RC Cola. Even when they went back to the classic formula, coke sucks. And team blue wants to try to tell me what my generation is supposed to prefer? But the southern-based team red is just as beholden to Big Corn as Pepsi is, both competing for the loyalty of children while they try to bribe parents with Harrier jets…

      What were we taken talking about again?

      1. In Michigan we have Faygo.

        1. Is that an Amash reference?

          1. No it’s pop. We do have Amish too though.

            1. Ah the Amish… the Moxie Cola of religious communities.

        2. If not for the Juggalos Faygo would have followed Strohs into oblivion.

          1. Stroh’s is back.

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  4. “But, it being my intention to write a
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    for many have pictured republics and principalities
    which in fact have never been known or seen,
    because how one lives is so far distant from how
    one ought to live, that he who neglects what is
    done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his
    ruin than his preservation; for a man who wishes to
    act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon
    meets with what destroys him among so much that
    is evil.”

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  6. “The market’s failure to produce an ideal outcome cannot alone justify activist policy, because governments can also fail to produce the ideal.”

    Markets are people making choices, and when people are free to make choices for themselves, the outcome reflects the qualitative preferences of each and every one of them–unencumbered by delusions of virtue.

    Ask people in the check-out line at Walmart what they think of China, how China treats its own people, and how China treats us, and you might expect to find no Chinese made products in their shopping carts. Actually look in their shopping carts, and you’re likely to discover that they all care more about saving money for themselves and their families than they do about the people of Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and how trade with China impacts their fellow Americans’ employment prospects.

    That’s an example of the market giving us outcomes that reflect our real priorities–rather than the selfless priorities we present to the world and, in many cases, fool ourselves into imagining we possess. If your priorities are such that you only care about them when it doesn’t cost you anything in the real world, then those priorities aren’t real. The reason people buy the meat of animals they would never slaughter by their own hand is because despite what they say, they care more about the food than they do about the suffering of the animals they’re eating.

    Voting for one politician or another–by itself–doesn’t cost any money, and, for that reason, the politicians we elect often reflect our delusions about our supposedly selfless priorities. In reality, who we voted for doesn’t really reflect, say, our willingness to sacrifice our standard of living on the altar of climate change. Rather, our collective willingness to make sacrifices for climate change are accurately reflected in the real world choices of consumers who pay a premium for solar electricity or electric cars. Tesla is making a fortune and revolutionizing the auto industry in the real world–and what’s wrong with that?

    Government policy reflects idealized delusions of the people we wish we would be without immediate reference to the costs. To the extent that market outcomes reflect our real world priorities when the real world costs are included, they reflect the ideal outcome in the real world. The ideal outcome–given our various and conflicting priorities in the real world–is the ideal outcome. Who is to claim–on an objective basis–that the ideal outcome is when Americans care more about the people of Hong Kong than they do about their own standard of living?

    The correct answer is progressives, authoritarians, socialists, and morons. Their ideal outcomes have no standing in the real world if they don’t accurately reflect the real world costs and our real world willingness to bear them.

    1. Ken your essentially trying to explain calculus to a slug on this article. Steven thinks the progressives that impliment totalitarian policies want a good/ideal social outcome. He fails to understand that their goal is to force loyalty and obedience, while stealing to enrich themselves and make their enimies pay. Steve wrongfully assumes that progressives want the best outcome for all. With such a faulty premise to start with, until he figures that out your explication is way over his head

      1. There’s no need for them to be slugs. They’re only slugs because they choose to think like slugs.

        They can choose not to be slugs.

        1. They can but do you have any evidence that they will? The last 3 years have become pretty dim in terms of criticle thinking

          1. Well, it’s not just them we’re trying to convince.

    2. Well said. A better article than anything that’s run on Reason this year.

    3. Summary; Some bored ignorant, progressive, authoritarians, socialists, and morons use delusions-of-virtue to push for the power of Gov-Guns that will Steal from others (Individual Liberty and Justice) their unrealistic delusions-of-virtue outcomes that have no standing in the real world.

      It’s all about human *emotional* feelings of illegitimatacy using “Guns” to feel legitimate instead of *earning* with self-value.

      e.i. Why struggle and work for some self-importance when Democratic National Socialism can use “Gov-Guns” and enslave ‘those’ people to do all the work while [WE] mobs take credit for it.

      1. – Government is ‘nothing’ without “guns” to enslave/entrap and as such should only be a ‘defense’ mechanism for Individual Liberty and Justice.

        – Democratic National Socialists use the exact same government to enslave/entrap for “aggressive” agenda’s instead of ‘defensive’ ones. They are by every dictionary ever written ‘Nazism’ whether their delusions will ever allow them to come to term’s with what they lobby for is a whole issue within itself.

        If you not willing to shoot people to progress your agenda – It has NO place in Governments.

      2. It isn’t just the authoritarians, socialists, and progressive morons who let their delusions of virtuosity get the better of them. They’re just the ones who will consciously argue for using those delusional virtues as a justification for power.

        We’re all susceptible to rationalizing the shit we’ve already decided to do by telling ourselves whatever helps us sleep at night and look ourselves in the mirror. It’s just important to remember that how people vote isn’t anywhere near as much of a refection of what they want as what they actually do (for instance in a market).

        A lot of progressivism is about teaching people to hate themselves for what they want. You want whatever healthcare you can afford when others can’t afford any? You want to live in a nice neighborhood when other people can’t afford it? You want to send your kids to nice schools when other people are suffering in bad ones?

        How dare you!

        Looking a progressive in the face and telling them that you care more about yourself and your own family than you do about other people is an admission of guilt–even if they can’t explain why. Confess to a Catholic priest that you care about yourself and your own family more than you do about other people, and you may be told to say some hail Marys. Maybe not.

        Progressivism as a religion is probably more rigid than Catholicism.

        1. “hate themselves for what they want” vs. “hate themselves for what they *earned*?”

          Is being Gov-Gun forced to give away what one has *earned* really a guiltless path?

          It all goes back to the Power to Steal what one wants instead of *earning* it. Progressive delusions are all based in Gov-Gun Crimes of telling the victim to feel guilty for not handing over their wallet.

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  9. Each year, state, federal, and local governments combined spend about $1.2 trillion on assistance for the poor, not counting Medicaid. It would take about $200 billion, or one-sixth of what we actually spend, to pull every American family out of poverty.

    Oh sure, it would only take $200B if you apply a rational definition of poverty, but that’s not how the government does it.

    There are two very important aspects to the way the government defines poverty that make it not only impossible to eliminate, but make it impossible to make even the smallest reduction in poverty levels.

    1. Poverty is defined relative to median income. This is important because it makes it impossible for economic growth to “solve” poverty. A rising economic tide may lift all boats, but it also lifts the poverty line.

    2. Government assistance and transfer payments are deliberately, explicitly excluded from poverty determinations.

    They could increase spending on anti-poverty programs to $10.2T and it would make zero difference in government measures of poverty.

    1. And a Universal Basic Wealth Transfer program that gives every family a thousand dollars a month would only cost 1.2 trillion dollars. (assuming 100 million families at 12K annually)

      Except 12K isn’t even at the level of the “living wage” progressives fantasize about. 15 bucks an hour is 30K per year, so if you give everyone that, you’re up to 3.0 trillion.

      And Congress doesn’t have 3 trillion, or even 1.2 trillion lying around. Congress has put the nation in debt to the tune of 28 trillion dollars. Jacking that up to 30 trillion for the taxpayers to pay back isn’t do them any favors.

      1. and the costs would double if the UBWT were given to all adults, instead of just per family.

        1. And of course the cost of the actual payments would dwarf compared to the administrative costs of the program

    2. …And to think the U.S. Constitution never gave the federal authority to prevent ‘poverty’ it was entirely left to the States.

  10. Professor Papa John’s proposes pointers!

    (and reasoning, educated, modern citizens ignore them)

    1. This post is suspiciously like one of Sqrlsy’s.

      1. Yea, what a weird ass Rev post. He’s gone from illiterate to alliterate.

        1. But now I know John is a professor.

  11. I remember when I first head of “public choice economics”, and it floored me that anyone actually thought a government paycheck made people altruistic. Forget making them smarter, or where they got information that was not available to anybody with skin in the game. Altruistic! Took me a while to realize that yes, academics really did believe that and politicians were real happy to keep rewarding academics who thought that, so there are still tons of them today.

  12. Nice to read a libertarian article on Reason. Professor Horwitz rarely writes here but his articles are always worth a read.

  13. This morning on Full Measure with Sharyl Atkinson, Rep. Tom Massie exposed CDC’s ongoing public health malpractice of lying about the scientific evidence and inappropriately recommending covid vaccines for all Americans who are already immune (due to a previous covid infection), which denies, deprives and delays vaccines for high risk Americans who don’t have immunity.
    http://fullmeasure.news/news/cover-story/cdc-investigation

    I’ve been pointing out this very problem for the past two months (in comments here on multiple threads), as CDC has been ignoring (and even denying) that natural herd immunity has been occurring in thousands of communities, hundreds of counties, and more than a dozen states.

    Why have Reason editors and authors continued to ignore this public health malpractice? I already gave you several articles worth of data and scientific information, just as Tom Massie did to CDC officials (who admitted their error to Massie more than a month ago, but have continued lying to the public even since.

    1. More from Full Measure, Tom Massie and lying scientists at CDC
      https://twitter.com/FullMeasureNews/status/1355652093185568769

      1. Yesterday I posted a half dozen comments revealing the historical scientific evidence and current data about natural herd immunity, and explaining that CDC was lying to Americans about naturally occurring immunity (for people who have already been infected) in order to waste vaccines on already immune people (which deprives seniors and other high risk people of the vaccine.
        https://reason.com/2021/01/29/should-legal-restrictions-get-credit-for-the-recent-decline-in-new-covid-19-cases/#comment-8734321

        Below is one of my comments from that thread.

        Herd immunity is the reason why covid cases have declined sharply in hundreds of counties and more than a dozen states.

        While 25 million Americans have tested positive for covid so far, studies have found 3 – 10 times more Americans were infected with covid than have tested positive. With increased testing, that ratio now appears 3 – 7 times (depending upon location).

        Herd immunity occurs after two thirds of people (in families, workplaces, communities, counties and/or states) have been infected or vaccinated, and the risk of infection declines by half when/after half of people have been infected or vaccinated.

        Despite NO news stories, the herd immunity process has been occurring in thousands of communities, hundreds of counties, and more than a dozen states, led by the Dakotas. By the time 10% of Americans receive covid vaccines, herd immunity will have already protected most Americans from covid.

        But Big Pharma, Democrats and lamestream media propagandists continue to deceive Americans to believe that herd immunity can/will only be attained via mass vaccinations.

        The Biden administration is now planning to vaccinate all Americans, including the 100 – 150 million Americans who are already immune (due to a previous covid infection), and the pro Biden news media has been promoting this potentially disastrous mass immunization plan ever since the election.

        1. Why won’t Jacob Sullum, Ronald Bailey (or other Reason writers who have some understanding of science, data and public health) expose this CDC malpractice.

          Ever since FDA began approving vaccines, they were prioritized for and given to at risk people, not to those who already had the viral infection (and thus were immune to future infection or transmission).

          But Biden’s CDC and FDA have ignored a century of virology, immunology and public health evidence and Best Practices (by urging already immune people to get vaccines before health care workers, senior citizens and other high risk people.

          1. The CDC document that contained the false statement about Pfizer’s vaccine efficacy for already immune people is at the link below, and the false claim is highlighted in yellow.
            https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6950e2.htm?s_cid=mm6950e2_w

            Massie noticed this false claim more than a month ago, notified CDC, and was told it would be fixed. But CDC never fixed the problem, and has continued to lie about it since, which is why Massie taped the recent phone call with the same liar at CDC.

            1. Seems like CDC and Democrat Governors have been going to great lengths to deprive high risk senior citizens of vaccines, which is precisely what happens when CDC and state health departments give priority for vaccines to:
              – smokers (who account for 15% of US adults, and anyone else who claims to be a smoker, as verification testing is not done),
              – obese people (who are 40+% of the US adult population),
              – those who are already immune (due to previous covid infection),
              – school teachers, and
              – hundreds of otherwise healthy people appointed to Joe Biden’s administration.

              By the time all of those folks receive vaccines, another 100,000 elderly Americans will have died of covid (because they couldn’t obtain the vaccine).

              1. It’s part of the plan to keep social security solvent. Wipe out the old folks.

              2. Local story Bill.

                1. Don’t understand comment by R Mac, but here’s a local news story (from SW PA) acknowledging that high risk senior citizens in PA (especially those without computers) cannot get appointments for vaccines, while many younger people who are not high risk have already received vaccines.
                  https://triblive.com/local/regional/vaccine-registration-is-wild-west-for-people-without-computers/

                  Here in PA, hundreds of nursing homes still haven’t been offered/provided vaccines and senior citizens without computers cannot get vaccines.

                  Meanwhile, Wolf has allowed all smokers (and anyone else who claims to be a smoker), and all obese people to get in line before senior citizens for a vaccine.

                  Gov Wolf has committed public health malpractice yet again, but the left wing news media continues to portray Wolf (like Cuomo and Biden) as providing excellent leadership on covid.

                  1. In these comments, there is a history of calling something a ‘local story’ when the Reason blog has not covered something that would normally be of obvious interest to libertarians.

                    I believe that it may have originated from an actually explanation to that effect (or similar) by an actual Reason staffer in the past, who responded that an uncovered news item was “Too Local”. But I wasn’t around back then.

              3. Thanks for staying on this Bill. I wish more people read Reason and the comments. I learn a lot from commenters like you. But since it’s just another lefty rag you’re probably casting pearls before swine.

            2. Counties with the highest covid rates in the US (i.e. percent of population testing positive) as of 2/3/2021.

              Crowley, CO – 31.0% (State Prison)
              Chattahoochee, GA – 25.5% (Fort Benning)
              Dewey, SD – 23.5% (Indian Reservation)
              Lincoln, AR – 22.8% (State Prison)
              Lake, TN – 22.3% (State Prison)
              Norton, KS – 21.8% (State Prison)
              Bent, CO – 21.9%
              Bon Homme, SD – 21.5% (State Prison)
              Trousdale, TN – 21.2% (State Prison)
              Buffalo, SD – 20.6% (Indian Reservation)
              Buena Vista, IA – 20.2% (Meat Packing)
              Eddy, ND – 19.5%
              Alfalfa, OK – 19.2% (State Prison)
              Ellsworth, KS – 18.9%
              Forest, PA – 18.4% (State Prison)
              Jackson, AR – 18.4% (State Prison)
              Bethel, AK – 18.3%
              Dakota, NE – 18.2% (Meat Packing)
              Childress, TX – 18.0% (State Prison)
              Lee, AR – 17.8% (State Prison)
              Lafayette, FL – 17.6% (State Prison)
              Lassen, CA – 17.6% (State Prisons)
              Hale, TX – 17.4% (State Prison)
              Nobles, MN – 17.2% (Meat Packing)
              Seward, KS – 17.1% (Meat Packing)
              Lincoln, CO – 17.0%
              Foster, ND – 17.0%
              Big Horn, MT – 17.0%
              Logan, CO – 16.9%
              Menominee, WI – 16.9% (Indian Reservation)
              Pawnee, KS – 16.9% (State Prison)
              Sheridan, KS – 16.7%
              Wayne, TN – 16.7%
              Yuma, AZ – 16.6%
              Walsh, ND – 16.3%
              Maverick, TX – 16.3%
              Texas, OK – 16.2% (State Prison)
              Aurora, SD – 16.1%
              Ford, KS – 16.1% (Meat Packing)
              Finney, KS – 16.1% (Meat Packing)
              Lee, KY – 16.1%
              Santa Cruz, AZ – 16.0%
              McKinley, NM – 16.0%
              Potter, SD – 15.7%
              Morton, ND – 15.6%
              Stutsman, ND – 15.5%
              Lyman, SD – 15.4%
              East Carroll, LA – 15.4%
              Nelson, ND – 15.3%
              Lubbock, TX – 15.3%
              Culberson, TX – 15.0%
              Chicot, AR – 15.0%
              Madison, ID – 15.0%
              Cass, IL – 15.0%
              Burleigh, ND – 15.0%
              Val Verde, TX – 14.9%
              Crocket, TX – 14.9%
              Woodward, OK – 14.8%
              Dickey, ND – 14.8%
              Benson, ND – 14.7%
              Sioux, ND – 14.7%
              East Feliciana, LA – 14.7%
              Davison, SD – 14.7%
              Haywood, TN – 14.6%
              Webb, TX – 14.6%
              Whitfield, GA – 14.5%
              Faulk, SD – 14.5%
              Rolette, ND – 14.5%
              Morgan, KY – 14.4%
              Toole, MT – 14.4%
              Yell, AR – 14.3%
              Scurry, TX – 14.3%
              Oglala Lakota, SD – 14.2%
              Imperial, CA – 14.2%
              Gove, KS – 14.2%
              Plymouth, IA – 14.2%
              Clinton, IL – 14.2%
              Lawrence, IL – 14.2%
              Douglas, SD – 14.1%
              Fayette, IL – 14.1%
              Lamb, TX – 14.1%
              Colfax, NE – 14.0%
              Minnehaha, SD – 14.0%
              Nemaha, KS – 14.0%
              Crawford, IA – 14.0%
              Okfuskee, OK – 14.0%
              Kearny, KS – 13.9%
              Republic, KS – 13.9%
              Pickett, TN – 13.9%
              Wilbarger, TX – 13.9%
              Griggs, ND – 13.8%
              Beadle, SD – 13.8%
              Richmond, VA – 13.8% (State Prison)
              Potter, TX – 13.8%
              Hemphill, TX – 13.8%
              Kings, CA – 13.8%
              Sevier, AR – 13.8%
              Stark, ND – 13.7%
              Obion, TN – 13.7%
              Grand Forks, ND – 13.7%
              Teton, WY – 13.7%
              Perry, IL – 13.7%
              Ramsey, ND – 13.7%
              Trego, KS – 13.6%
              Golden Valley, ND – 13.6%
              Henry, IA – 13.6%
              Miami Dade, FL – 13.6%
              Towner, ND – 13.6%
              Utah, UT – 13.6%
              El Paso, TX – 13.6%
              Pershing, NV – 13.6%
              Madison, LA – 13.6%
              Clarke, AL – 13.6%
              Graham, AZ – 13.5%
              Apache, AZ – 13.5% (Indian Reservation)
              Rush, KS – 13.5%
              Roosevelt, MT – 13.5%
              Kusilvak, AK – 13.5%
              Jones, TX – 13.5%
              Hansford, TX – 13.5%
              Dodge, WI – 13.5%
              Hale, AL – 13.4%
              Coddington, SD – 13.4%
              Dubois, IN – 13.4%
              Dyer, TN – 13.4%
              Jones, IA – 13.4%
              Tom Green, TX – 13.4%
              Deaf Smith, TX – 13.3%
              Sanborn, SD – 13.3%
              Thomas, KS – 13.3%
              Moore, TN – 13.3%
              Terry, TX – 13.3%
              Dawson, TX – 13.3%
              Sioux, IA – 13.3%
              Wright, IA – 13.3%
              Cass, IN – 13.3%
              Navajo, AZ – 13.2% (Indian Reservation)
              Charles Mix, SD – 13.2%
              Hot Spring, AR – 13.2%
              Ward, ND – 13.2%
              Kandiyohi, MN – 13.2%
              Starr, TX – 13.2%
              Adair, OK – 13.1%
              Webster, IA – 13.1%
              Jerauld, SD – 13.1%
              Pickaway, OH – 13.1%
              St. Francis, AR – 13.1%
              Brule, SD – 13.0%
              Union, MS – 13.0%
              Putnam, TN – 13.0%
              Saline, NE – 13.0%
              Calhoun, IA – 13.0%
              Woodbury, IA – 13.0%
              Coke, TX – 13.0%
              Cottle, TX – 13.0%
              Zavala, TX – 13.0%
              Crockett, TN – 13.0%

              1. As of 2/5/2021, the 20 states with the highest covid case rate (i.e. positive tests) are
                https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/09/01/816707182/map-tracking-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus-in-the-u-s#curves

                ND – 12.9%
                SD – 12.3%
                RI – 11.1%
                UT – 11.0%
                TN – 10.8%
                AZ – 10.6%
                WI – 10.3%
                IA – 10.2%
                AR – 10.0%
                OK – 10.0%
                NE – 10.0%
                KS – 9.7%
                AL – 9.5%
                IN – 9.4%
                MS – 9.4%
                ID – 9.2%
                NV – 9.1%
                WY – 9.1%
                IL – 9.0%
                MT – 8.9%

                So far, 8.3% of Americans have tested positive for covid.

                1. To see how natural herd immunity transpires, simple go to
                  https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states
                  and look at the huge decline in new covid cases in many states during the past 6 – 10 weeks.

                  States with the greatest declines in new covid cases are:
                  ND (-93%)
                  SD (-90%)
                  MN (-88%)
                  WY (-84%)
                  WI (-81%)
                  NE (-81%)
                  IA (-80%)
                  TN (-78%)
                  MT (-78%)
                  AK (-77%)
                  IL (-77%)
                  IN (-75%)

                  1. The CDC recently estimated 4.6 times more Americans were infected with covid (than have tested positive), and that 81.3 Million Americans (i.e. 25.4%) were infected in 2020 (when 6.06% of Americans had tested positive for covid).

                    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/burden.html#anchor_1607017301754

                    Since an additional 2.21% of (7.3 million) Americans have tested positive for covid in 2021 (8.27% – 6.06 = 2.21%), an estimated (per CDC’s calculations) 33.6 Million additional Americans have been infected with covid in 2021.

                    Therefore, according to CDC data and most recent estimates, 115 Million Americans (i.e. 35% of Americans) have already been infected with covid (81.3M + 33.6M = 114.9M), and are very likely immune from future infection or transmission.

                  2. States with the greatest declines in new covid cases are:
                    ND (-93%)
                    SD (-90%)
                    MN (-88%)
                    WY (-84%)
                    WI (-81%)
                    NE (-81%)
                    IA (-80%)
                    NM (-80%)
                    TN (-78%)
                    MT (-78%)
                    AK (-77%)
                    IL (-77%)
                    MI (-77%)
                    MO (-76%)
                    IN (-75%)
                    ID (-72%)
                    NV (-70%)
                    CA (-70%)
                    OH (-70%)

              2. 157 counties in the US have a covid rate above 13% (i.e. percent of population testing positive) as of 2/3/2021. I also discovered that state prisons were the source of covid outbreaks in many/most rural counties that have the highest covid case rates.

                Crowley, CO – 31.0% (State Prison)
                Chattahoochee, GA – 25.5% (Fort Benning)
                Dewey, SD – 23.5% (Indian Reservation)
                Lincoln, AR – 22.8% (State Prison)
                Lake, TN – 22.3% (State Prison)
                Norton, KS – 21.8% (State Prison)
                Bent, CO – 21.9% (State Prison)
                Bon Homme, SD – 21.5% (State Prison)
                Trousdale, TN – 21.2% (State Prison)
                Buffalo, SD – 20.6% (Indian Reservation)
                Buena Vista, IA – 20.2% (Meat Packing)
                Eddy, ND – 19.5%
                Alfalfa, OK – 19.2% (State Prison)
                Ellsworth, KS – 18.9% (State Prison)
                Forest, PA – 18.4% (State Prison)
                Jackson, AR – 18.4% (State Prison)
                Bethel, AK – 18.3%
                Dakota, NE – 18.2% (Meat Packing)
                Childress, TX – 18.0% (State Prison)
                Lee, AR – 17.8% (State Prison)
                Lafayette, FL – 17.6% (State Prison)
                Lassen, CA – 17.6% (State Prisons)
                Hale, TX – 17.4% (State Prison)
                Nobles, MN – 17.2% (Meat Packing)
                Seward, KS – 17.1% (Meat Packing)
                Lincoln, CO – 17.0% (State Prison)
                Foster, ND – 17.0%
                Big Horn, MT – 17.0%
                Logan, CO – 16.9% (State Prison)
                Menominee, WI – 16.9% (Indian Reservation)
                Pawnee, KS – 16.9% (State Prison)
                Sheridan, KS – 16.7%
                Wayne, TN – 16.7%
                Yuma, AZ – 16.6%
                Walsh, ND – 16.3%
                Maverick, TX – 16.3%
                Texas, OK – 16.2% (State Prison)
                Aurora, SD – 16.1%
                Ford, KS – 16.1% (Meat Packing)
                Finney, KS – 16.1% (Meat Packing)
                Lee, KY – 16.1%
                Santa Cruz, AZ – 16.0%
                McKinley, NM – 16.0%
                Potter, SD – 15.7%
                Morton, ND – 15.6%
                Stutsman, ND – 15.5% (State Prison)
                Lyman, SD – 15.4%
                East Carroll, LA – 15.4%
                Nelson, ND – 15.3%
                Lubbock, TX – 15.3%
                Culberson, TX – 15.0%
                Chicot, AR – 15.0%
                Madison, ID – 15.0%
                Cass, IL – 15.0%
                Burleigh, ND – 15.0% (State Prison)
                Val Verde, TX – 14.9%
                Crocket, TX – 14.9%
                Woodward, OK – 14.8%
                Dickey, ND – 14.8%
                Benson, ND – 14.7%
                Sioux, ND – 14.7%
                East Feliciana, LA – 14.7%
                Davison, SD – 14.7%
                Haywood, TN – 14.6%
                Webb, TX – 14.6%
                Whitfield, GA – 14.5%
                Faulk, SD – 14.5%
                Rolette, ND – 14.5%
                Morgan, KY – 14.4%
                Toole, MT – 14.4%
                Yell, AR – 14.3%
                Scurry, TX – 14.3%
                Oglala Lakota, SD – 14.2%
                Imperial, CA – 14.2%
                Gove, KS – 14.2%
                Plymouth, IA – 14.2%
                Clinton, IL – 14.2%
                Lawrence, IL – 14.2%
                Douglas, SD – 14.1%
                Fayette, IL – 14.1%
                Lamb, TX – 14.1%
                Colfax, NE – 14.0%
                Minnehaha, SD – 14.0%
                Nemaha, KS – 14.0%
                Crawford, IA – 14.0%
                Okfuskee, OK – 14.0%
                Kearny, KS – 13.9%
                Republic, KS – 13.9%
                Pickett, TN – 13.9%
                Wilbarger, TX – 13.9%
                Griggs, ND – 13.8%
                Beadle, SD – 13.8%
                Richmond, VA – 13.8% (State Prison)
                Potter, TX – 13.8%
                Hemphill, TX – 13.8%
                Kings, CA – 13.8%
                Sevier, AR – 13.8%
                Stark, ND – 13.7%
                Obion, TN – 13.7%
                Grand Forks, ND – 13.7%
                Teton, WY – 13.7%
                Perry, IL – 13.7%
                Ramsey, ND – 13.7%
                Trego, KS – 13.6%
                Golden Valley, ND – 13.6%
                Henry, IA – 13.6%
                Miami Dade, FL – 13.6%
                Towner, ND – 13.6%
                Utah, UT – 13.6%
                El Paso, TX – 13.6%
                Pershing, NV – 13.6%
                Madison, LA – 13.6%
                Clarke, AL – 13.6%
                Graham, AZ – 13.5%
                Apache, AZ – 13.5% (Indian Reservation)
                Rush, KS – 13.5%
                Roosevelt, MT – 13.5%
                Kusilvak, AK – 13.5%
                Jones, TX – 13.5%
                Hansford, TX – 13.5%
                Dodge, WI – 13.5%
                Hale, AL – 13.4%
                Coddington, SD – 13.4%
                Dubois, IN – 13.4%
                Dyer, TN – 13.4%
                Jones, IA – 13.4%
                Tom Green, TX – 13.4%
                Deaf Smith, TX – 13.3%
                Sanborn, SD – 13.3%
                Thomas, KS – 13.3%
                Moore, TN – 13.3%
                Terry, TX – 13.3%
                Dawson, TX – 13.3%
                Sioux, IA – 13.3%
                Wright, IA – 13.3%
                Cass, IN – 13.3%
                Navajo, AZ – 13.2% (Indian Reservation)
                Charles Mix, SD – 13.2%
                Hot Spring, AR – 13.2%
                Ward, ND – 13.2%
                Kandiyohi, MN – 13.2%
                Starr, TX – 13.2%
                Adair, OK – 13.1%
                Webster, IA – 13.1%
                Jerauld, SD – 13.1%
                Pickaway, OH – 13.1%
                St. Francis, AR – 13.1%
                Brule, SD – 13.0%
                Union, MS – 13.0%
                Putnam, TN – 13.0%
                Saline, NE – 13.0%
                Calhoun, IA – 13.0%
                Woodbury, IA – 13.0%
                Coke, TX – 13.0%
                Cottle, TX – 13.0%
                Zavala, TX – 13.0%
                Crockett, TN – 13.0%

              3. Urban counties with the highest covid case rates are
                Miami-Dade, FL – 13.6%
                El Paso, TX – 13.6%
                Utah, UT – 13.6%

  14. https://twitter.com/RationalDis/status/1355690213704654851?s=19

    this seems like a totally normal response to *checks notes* some tape

  15. https://twitter.com/ConceptualJames/status/1355716878900088832?s=19

    How the Woke whip your ass every time:

    1) Every point “left” of any position must be treated charitably or you’re unreasonable.

    2) Every point “right” of any position is omfg gross gross gross reactionary conservative do not acknowledge the point because helps Nazis!!!

  16. https://twitter.com/amuse/status/1355901006111002626?s=19

    In real insurrections photojournalist risk their lives to capture the news. How many of these reporters were scared?

    1. If it were a real insurrection, the crowd of mostly peaceful protesters wouldn’t have been almost entirely unarmed.

    1. What an idiot.

      1. Still those hackers have a lot of balls.

  17. Governments CAN fail to produce an ideal outcome?

    Governments ALWAYS fail to produce an ideal outcome, because they take money away from what people who have it really want to spend it on, and give it to someone who THINKS he or she knows better than the people who earned it what it should be spent on.

    1. Only SleepyJoe knows what is best for you.

      1. Arrogant Authoritarians using Gov-Guns with no boundaries in sight.

    2. More to the point, market failures are what enable markets. They are opportunities and lessons all rolled into one. If there were no differences in what people want or have, there’d be no markets, no innovation, no progress.

      1. Except Gov-Guns aren’t market signals; but the left likes to pretend they are.

        i.e. The Keystone pipeline didn’t fail the market; It was aggressively taken over by Power-Mad Gov-Guns as well as the healthcare market, retirement market, drug market, ‘fiat’ money market, housing mortgage market, education market, food market, communications market………

        Sometimes I have to wonder if an actual semi-free market even exist anymore in this Democratic National Socialist (invaded) country.

  18. Reason used whatever influence they might have to put the War Party back in power and their efforts are bearing fruit.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/6-warning-signs-bidens-first-week-office

    2. CABINET APPOINTMENTS
    Biden’s cabinet is praised as the “most diverse” in history, but will hiring a few non-white people really change the decades-old policies of US Imperialism? It certainly doesn’t look like it.

    His pick for Under Secretary of State is Victoria Nuland, a neocon warmonger and one of the masterminds of the Maidan coup in Ukraine in 2014. She is married to Robert Kagan, another neocon warmonger, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and one of the masterminds behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    The incoming Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is also an inveterate US Imperialist, arguing for every US military intervention since the 1990s, and criticised Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria.

    Biden’s pick for Defence Secretary is the first African-American ever appointed to this role, but former General Lloyd Austin is hardly going be some kind of “progressive” voice int his cabinet. He’s a career soldier who retired from the military in 2016 to join the board of Raytheon Technologies, an arms manufacturer and military contractor.

    As “diverse” as this cabinet may be in skin colour or gender…there is most certainly no “diversity” of opinion or policy. There are very few new faces and no new thoughts.

    So, it looks like we can expect more of the same in terms of foreign policy. A fact that’s already been displayed in…

    3. IRAQ…
    Despite heavy resistance from the military and Deep State, Donald Trump wanted to end the war in Iraq and pledged to pull American troops out of the country. This was one of Trump’s more popular policies, and during the campaign Biden made no mention of intending to reverse that decision.

    Then, on the very day of Biden’s inauguration, ISIS conducted their deadliest suicide bombing for over three years, and suddenly the situation was too unstable for the US to leave, and Biden is being forced to “review” Trump’s planned withdrawal.

    The Iraqi parliament has made it clear it wants the US to take its military off their soil, so any American forces on Iraqi land are technically there illegally in contravention of international law. But that never bothered them before.

    4. …AFGHANISTAN…
    Turns out the US can’t withdraw from Afghanistan either. Last February Trump signed a deal with the Taliban that all US personnel would leave Afghanistan by May 2021.

    Joe Biden has already committed to “reviewing” this deal. Sec. Blinken was quoted as saying that Biden’s admin wanted:

    to end this so-called forever war [but also] retain some capacity to deal with any resurgence of terrorism, which is what brought us there in the first place”.

    As a great man once said, nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts. The US will not be withdrawing from Afghanistan, and if there is any public pressure to do so, the government will simply claim the Taliban broke their side of the deal first, or stage a few terrorist attacks.

    5. …AND SYRIA
    Far from simply continuing the on-going wars, there are already signs Biden’s “diverse” team will look to escalate, or even start, other conflicts.

    Syria was another theatre of war from which Donald Trump wanted to extricate the United States, unilaterally ordering all US troops from the country in late 2019.

    We now know the Pentagon ignored those orders. They lied to the President, telling Trump they had followed his orders…but not withdrawing a single man. This organized mutiny against the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces was played for a joke in the media when it was finally revealed.

    There will be no need for any such duplicity now Biden is in the Oval Office, he was a vocal critic of the decision to withdraw, claiming it gave ISIS a “new lease of life”. Indeed, within two days of his being sworn in a column of American military vehicles was seen entering Syria from Iraq.

  19. Oh and somehow Reason “libertarians” forgot about that NAP thing when they were supporting Biden.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/former-navy-seal-miseducation-antony-blinken

    Blinken displayed his hubris a few minutes later when he said, “The door should remain open” for Georgia to join NATO under the justification of curbing Russian aggression.

    Rand Paul informed Blinken, “This would be adding Georgia, that’s occupied [by Russia], to NATO. Under Article 5, then we would go to war.”

    Senator Paul is right. According to Washington, Russia has been occupying 20 percent of Georgia since 2008. Under the principle of collective defense in Article 5 of NATO, the US would be obligated to treat Russia’s occupation of the country of Georgia the same way the US would treat a Russian occupation of the US state of Georgia. That sounds like a recipe for war. But don’t worry, peaceniks, Antony Blinken has assured us that war is the last resort!

    Blinken’s framing of the issue exposes his disingenuous approach. Russian aggression is a term used by Washington insiders to describe a Russian reaction to western aggression. Blinken knows that the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was not Russian aggression, he calls it that because it suits his agenda and the American press is dependably ignorant enough to not ask questions.

    In the 2008 war, Georgia was the aggressor against the South Ossetians, a people who are ethnically distinct from Georgians, and who have never—not even for one day—considered themselves a part of Georgia. The Ossetians have a history of Russian partiality; they were among the first ethnic groups in the region to join the Russian Empire in the 19th century and the USSR in the 1920s. Today, ethnic Ossetians straddle both sides of the current Russian border, and they are more aligned with the Russian government than with the Georgian government.

    When Georgia gained sovereignty from the former Soviet Union in 1991, South Ossetia declared its independence. In response, Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia, initiating an armed conflict that killed more than 2,000 people. In 1992, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Sochi between Georgia, Russia and South Ossetia, which created a tripartite peacekeeping force led by Russia. Although the international community never acknowledged South Ossetia’s independence, they have enjoyed political autonomy since the 1992 Sochi agreement.

    The Sochi agreement held up until Georgia’s ultra-nationalist President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in the 2003 western-backed bloodless “Rose Revolution” coup-d’etat. The pro-western President Saakashvili advocated joining the EU and NATO, and insisted on asserting Georgian rule over South Ossetia. U.S. President George Bush supported the new Georgian president’s effort to bring Georgia into NATO, which for Russia would mean bringing a hostile military up to its border. In 2006, President Saakashvili offered South Ossetia autonomy in exchange for a political settlement with Georgia. A referendum was held, and the South Ossetian people overwhelmingly reaffirmed their desire for independence from Georgia.

    In August, 2008, After exchanging artillery fire with South Ossetia, Georgia invaded South Ossetia’s capital city of Tskhinvali, killing 1,400 civilians and 18 Russian peacekeepers. Georgia’s attack triggered a Russian invasion into South Ossetia and Abkhazia (another breakaway region) to restore stability and protect peacekeeping forces.

  20. Bastiat was too generous to those in government when he wrote of the not seen. They see the harm that they do and choose to do it anyway. Government can do no good. Government can only redistribute and do harm. All government action harms someone and redistributes harm from someone to someone else. It redistributes harm either from the favored to the disfavored or from the connected to the less connected or simply from the more obvious to the less. These actions are worse, yet, than the simple shifting of harm because they increase it along the way.

  21. It really comes to govt never running deficits. Running deficits has created both our domestic and international problems. Think about it..if politicans want to buy votes they would have to pay for them which is a great insurance that many of the programs/wars would not be funded. Instead the Fed’s printing press has created wars, maleinvestments, has enabled wall street corruption, loss of public virtue, destruction of middle America (the govt needs to offshore inflation to China to keep the whole thing rolling along) enriched higher ed and put our youth in massive debt. Yep once you accept Keynes you destroy your country. That is the real irony..we follow a pedo degenerate. Old Ron Paul was right…there is no reason for govt debt at any time…

  22. I keep looking for an Italian or Catholic in this admin…or even Irish..nope not many…but some groups are more equal than others I guess…just like hedge funds matter but those kids on reddit don’t

  23. At least we’re all on the same side now.

    Old Man Bad.

  24. The market’s failure to produce an ideal outcome cannot alone justify activist policy, because governments can also fail to produce the ideal.

    Begging the question. How do you know what the ideal outcome is? Is the outcome you want most? The outcome most wanted by the most people? The outcome most wanted by the guys with the most guns? Free association (free markets) are the only way to discover what the “ideal” outcome is because it’s the only thing that balances the values of everyone involved in a fair way.

  25. Markets are far from perfect

    By what measure? Compared to God snapping is fingers and giving everyone exactly what they’ve always wanted? Saying markets are not perfect is like saying “eating is not perfect because it results in waste products”.

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