Arnold Kling  

The Perfect Gift

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[limited blogging, due to power outage and crowded Starbucks]

It strikes me that Don Boudreaux' book Hypocrites and Half-Wits, would make the perfect gift to surreptitiously leave in a liberal friend's bathroom. His mini-rant/lessons are best read three or four at a time.

They are sort of a "best of" from his writing on the Cafe Hayek blog.


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COMMENTS (16 to date)
John Roccia writes:

I just ordered this book, but for myself, not my liberal friends. I'd rather it be read by someone who'll appreciate it. :)

Sadly, I have to wait for the physical copy to come in like some kind of a savage, because it's not available on Kindle. :(

James K. writes:

Fun idea, I am planning to do this. And it's also a great book to leave in many conservatives' bathrooms!

Speedmaster writes:

Indeed! Read it and LOVED it.

JLV writes:

As a "liberal friend" of a number of people who read cafehayek a lot, let me say that this is a good way to not have a liberal friend anymore.

Seriously, don't leave books that imply I'm dumb in my bathroom. That's a dick move.

John Roccia writes:

@JLV Maybe that's Arnold's desired result. :)

I kid, I kid!

But seriously, I wouldn't be implying that you're dumb if I left you that book. At worst, it's a conversation-starter. At best, it might challenge misconceptions or misinformation you have. Most of Don's letters aren't about political philosophy, they just correct economic misconceptions.

For example, in a recent letter he addresses the myth that military spending is at least good for the economy. He corrects that misconception, explaining that any money spent by the military isn't spent in some other way, say by people on groceries. He specifically mentions that he's not making a judgement about whether or not military spending is actually WORTHWHILE, just that it's incorrect to say that it's an economic BOON. It is, in fact, a COST, and a hefty one.

So that's the sort of stuff that's in there. If you think it would imply that you're dumb, perhaps you should take a chance and read it yourself! You may be pleasantly surprised!

Emily writes:

Go with The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion instead. Cafe Hayek is written for people who already agree with the author. The tone is grating and obnoxious if you don't.

Jason Collins writes:

As most of Boudreaux's posts are in what you define as category (c), the book is not going to change the mind of your liberal friend. Contrast the comments at the bottom of a Cafe Hayek post with those in Marginal Revolution. Cafe Hayek's niche is not opening liberal minds.

John T. Kennedy writes:

See, again, I thought solid reasoning *was* a sufficient effort to change minds.

Joe Cushing writes:

JLV,

I've been watching a number of videos by Stefan Molyneux. The one about living free in an unfree world is relevant here. He says that after a serious attempt of a year or so to educate a non-libertarian you should ostracize them. Yes, cut them out of your life. He gives a pretty compelling reason too that I never thought of before. It goes something like this.

The government gets its power from the people. It doesn't matter what kind of government it is, that's where the power comes from. So the people who advocate for government power are the power itself. Government action is force. It's coercion. You either "donate" money for this pet cause or we will send men with guns to your home to haul you away and put you in a steal cage. If you resist these men, they will shoot you dead.

This kind of force is always evil. You cannot use evil to do good things, no matter how badly you want these good things to happen. If the means are evil; the deed is evil. The source of this evil is the citizen who advocates it and that citizen is you.

If you can't accept the notion that you can't use evil to do good, then you should be ostracized. Ostracizing is a powerful way to communicate immorality and the liberal agenda is as immoral as slavery itself.

Gian writes:

Joe Cushing,
The liberals deny the libertarian assumptions. In particular the Libertarian denies that Man is a Political Animal.

In classical thought, The State is Prior to the Individual and the Family (Aristotle, Politics), and thus it can be denied that the State gets its authority from the individuals.

The libertarian fails to describe the political phenomena correctly and is thus out of sympathy with the vast majority of mankind.

The American Declaration of Independence does not support a libertarian reading. A good argument is provided by James R Rogers at First Things website
"Collective Action and the Declaration"

"Consider the very first indictment against the King in the Declaration, that “He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

This was not a complaint about the King’s violating individual rights as modern Americans think of them. Rather, the leading indictment against the King is that he did not allow the colonists to be regulated by all of the laws they thought necessary for their own good.

Or consider the next indictment listed by the Declaration against the King, that “He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.” Again, a complaint that the King delayed the passing of needed laws in the colonies.

The third indictment gives us a more complete hint of the specific right contested for in the Declaration: “He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

Lord writes:

I prefer my toilet paper a little softer than that.

Joe Cushing writes:

Gian,

well, I don't know how 1 man or even 425 people can rule over millions without their cooperation. If 300 million people all decided at once to simply stop paying taxes the whole system would collapse with very few shots fired.

I get people complying with the government out of fear of harm. The problem comes when people comply because they believe it is good and then advocate for more government because they believe that is good too.

Just because you believe something evil is good, does not mean you are not evil for doing it. I'm sure Hitler believed that murdering people to make a superior race was a cause for good. Does his belief that he is doing good make him good? We are never going to win this battle of ideas (and force for that matter) by arguing how we will be wealthier if government is smaller. The western world didn't didn't end slavery by saying farms would become more productive with machinery in the absence of slaves. We ended it by calling slavery and those who support it evil. We don't put shame on those who help slaves escape like we do on those who escaped from the draft. Both were breaking and unjust law or finding loopholes in it.

There is a lot of evil in a government that swallows 40% of everything an economy produces. Those who advocate that it swallow more or resist the ideas that it swallow less are evil. They should be treated the way we treated slave supporters, KKK members, and Nazi party members. These people all thought they were doing/supporting good. When people are shamed for their ideas and not just told they are wrong on some technical ground, it will be much more effective. We should use that word more often in our conversation, shame.

Every act of government is an act of force. To get a close up view of that force, go watch some police videos on YouTube. Even the show Bad Boys, where the police are showing us work they are proud of, is disturbing. Every hour of every day, our government (and by extension those who support it) tackles people to the ground, puts a knee to their neck, binds then in chains, and puts then in a steel cage for breaking one of millions of laws that make no sense in a free society. We almost have as many people in jail as Stalin.

Cyberike writes:

Joe, I don't know if other people have explained this to you or not, but you are obviously not listening if they did. I mean, you have to actually look at things like history, and technology.

I am sure other people have told you that if you really believe what you are saying you should not be using things like roads, or electricity, or the internet. But what really makes you irrational is that you have the ability to express your opinion because other people grant you that right through government.

An economy is not possible without the right to private property. The dark ages taught us that. Private property has to be enforced - you guessed it - through laws and government.

If you want the benefit of my laws without the obligations and responsibilities that go with those rights, then you are a free loader (and possibly an anarchist). I, therefore, reserve the right to forcibly remove those rights, because they protect me and my property and you are a threat to me if you deny those laws.

I don't care if you don't believe it, but government is good. We would still be living in caves, killing each other with sharpened sticks if that were not the case. I choose to live in this world, that technology and government has made possible. Your viewpoint is both short sighted and shallow. You prove it by not living your beliefs.

Gian writes:

Cyberike,
This is incorrect:
"I, therefore, reserve the right to forcibly remove those rights, because they protect me and my property and you are a threat to me if you deny those laws."

An individual can not mete out justice to another individual. Justice, by nature, belongs to the City i.e. a political association.
As in another context has been written
"Vengeance is mine"

Cyberike writes:

My apologies. I meant, of course, "reserve the right through law enforced by government".

Eric Evans writes:

@John Roccia

I noticed the lack of Kindle edition when I first saw this post, but it appears there is one now.

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