Arnold Kling  

Jim Manzi on Marty Weitzman

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Manzi writes,

think that Weitzman has seriously engaged on the AGW issue at a unique level of depth. I admire his tenacity, seriousness and intellectual creativity in refusing to shrink from the issue. But he has tried to cross a bridge too far. We can not (yet) reliably quantify these alternative risks, and must (for now) live with uncertainty.

Read the whole thing. I wrote about Weitzman here.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen, who concludes

The most serious critique of Weitzman, in my view, is simply that governments are bad at getting people to bear large costs to insure against low probability events, especially when the costs accumulate each year and there is little positive feedback in the interim. ("Reelect me, our costly tax held back global warming for yet another four years! Things didn't get worse!" does not thrill.) ...As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to risk the alternative is public overworry or public underworry, don't ever expect to hit that sweet spot in between or even get close.

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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Jim Manzi writes:


Thanks for your comments, and for reading my very long post.

I strongly agree with the thrust of your linked post. I provided a detailed response to some of Tyler's concerns about my argument in the comments section of his blog.


Matt writes:

I read most of Arnold's essay.

It is the un-comfort zone of thick tailed distributions that we want to eliminate, like any good insurance estimator. If we had a year to year estimate of storm damage due to AGW, we are fine.
The rare disaster an act of god, until Weitzman gets better days.

In my opinion, I think that a jury could determine, from evidence, to within 30%, the portion of storm damage due to AGW.

Frank Cross writes:

Tyler is obviously right, but that hardly goes to the relevant question. Which would seem to be: "Will the net error be larger based upon government intervention in the market or in the absence of any such government intervention." And I would think any probability "public underworry" probably would counsel strongly in favor of government action, because it would moderate a market externality and reduce the size of its effect.

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