David R. Henderson  

I've Changed My Mind

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I woke up this morning with an epiphany. In my political views, I've been on the wrong track for a long time. Specifically:

1. I think Obamacare is great. So what if it's causing young people to subsidize the elderly? They should. After all, who was it who brought them into this world? The elderly. Also, it's unfair that until now, men, who use medical care less than women, pay less for health insurance than women. After all, women, whose life expectancy is greater than that of men, pay the same for life insurance that men of equal age pay. Also, who cares if the health insurance forces you to buy won't let you see the doctor who has gotten to know you? That idea that you should be able to see the doctor of your choice is a bourgeois conceit.

2. We need high tariffs in this country. Otherwise we'll lose our manufacturing base.

3. Most high-income people, aka the rich, didn't earn their income. They got it by shifty means. This was what my father believed and I only wish he were alive so that I could tell him he was right. Studying economics and learning different was a waste of time.

4. What a fraud that Adam Smith was. What the heck did he know, sitting in Scotland and pontificating about the world? Sure, he predicted that the continental congress, sitting in the 13 colonies, would bring forth a new nation that would become the most powerful in the world. And sure, even then, he knew what a fraud much of higher "education" is. But those were just lucky calls. Moreover, Smith was just trying to rationalize people's desire to look out for themselves. Too bad he never wrote a book about morality. Then he would have figured out the limits of self-interest.

5. I think the supporters of the National Security Agency are right. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from them. Plus, the danger from terrorism is the greatest danger we face. So what if the most successful terrorists ever on American soil killed the number of people who are killed in one month in vehicle accidents? What does that prove? Figures lie and liars figure. I should apologize to General Keith Alexander for, after the graduation speech he gave at the Naval Postgraduate School last June, confronting him about his spying. He's a great American.

6. What's all this nonsense my co-blogger, Bryan Caplan, writes about "open borders?" He doesn't favor opening his house to anyone who comes by. So what's he doing advocating that people be allowed to come here and buy or rent houses that other people are willing to sell or lease? Doesn't Bryan know a logical, airtight argument when he sees one?

7. I've been wrong about Paul Krugman. He is the greatest living economist. Heck, he's the greatest economist of all time. When you read his posts, you see him carefully applying economic analysis to the issues of the day. He worries a lot about incentives. He's concerned that the growth in government spending in the next few decades will mean either much higher taxes, cuts in other spending, or government default on the debt.

8. I've been wrong to criticize U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. government has always been it in the right and those snivelers who claim that the Iraq war was a mistake are just ingrates. I say, "My country right or wrong."

Wow! Glad that I got that off my chest. Time to lie down. But if you want to see more about what's behind this thinking, go here.


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CATEGORIES: Economic Philosophy



COMMENTS (13 to date)
John writes:

This was just a bit too on the nose, I'm afraid 8^)

Bob Murphy writes:

Someone on Facebook posted, "Paul Krugman finally agrees to debate Bob Murphy!" and my heart fluttered for about 1.5 seconds.

It's time to revive the phlogiston theory!

Arthur_500 writes:

I see you have been visiting the new "entertainment" stores in Colorado Nice to see you are studying the economics of personal entertainment:)

Pajser writes:

It is unusual that you changed your position exactly when Louis Proyect started to praise you.

David writes:

5. I think critics of the NSA are right. Obviously the biggest problem with the US's security agencies is too much spying on Americans. The inability of the agencies to share information prevented them from stopping the 9/11 attacks and the Boston bombing, but that's minor in comparison to the thousands killed by the NSA.

6. Open borders proponents are right. Opponents are just a bunch of racists to fear that adding tens of millions of (primarily) Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. in a short time could affect U.S. culture and reduce the rate that Hispanics assimilate.

Joel Aaron Freeman writes:

"Too bad [Adam Smith] never wrote a book about morality. Then he would have figured out the limits of self-interest."

LOL!

A genuine out-loud from me. Very cute.

Stuhlmann writes:

"So what if it's causing young people to subsidize the elderly?"

I'm not commenting on whether the young subsidizing the old is fair or unfair, but hasn't this been going on for decades? On the several occasions when I have signed up for employer provided health insurance, there was only one cost listed for the employee's coverage and one cost listed for family members. The cost of coverage to me was never based on my age. So when a company like mine offers all its employees health insurance at one price, aren't the young employees basically subsidizing the older employees? I've never heard anyone complain that this was unfair.

Mike Rulle writes:

Very funny. But I knew something was wrong by point 2. But you got me on Obamacare!!. That really is funny.

Jay writes:

@Stuhlmann

I think no one complains because the employer is paying the brunt of the charges and they're the one offering the single rate to everyone. I don't know anything about my employer's negotiations with the insurance companies, but I presume that the healthiness of the workforce does play a part in the rates the employer pays since they've always been pushing health initiatives, no smoking, offering a gym, etc.

NZ writes:

Some people do completely change their views on big issues they've already spent a lot of time thinking about, and it's usually for the best since it's easier to gain wisdom and new understanding than to lose it.

You make a joke out of changing your mind, which seems to imply that you don't actually plan to change your mind because you're confident that the views you hold now are absolutely correct, and that this is never going to change. I don't know your biography, but this implies that you never had to change your mind from other beliefs to get to your current ones: if you had, you might be a bit more humble.

Anyway, I think it'd be interesting to compile a long list of people who've gone from articulate support of one view to articulate support against that view, and see if any patterns pop out.

David R. Henderson writes:

@NZ,
You make a joke out of changing your mind, which seems to imply that you don't actually plan to change your mind because you're confident that the views you hold now are absolutely correct, and that this is never going to change. I don't know your biography, but this implies that you never had to change your mind from other beliefs to get to your current ones: if you had, you might be a bit more humble.
Yes, I made a joke out of changing my mind on these issues. I’m sure you noticed that I did it on April Fool’s Day. Thus the joke.
The rest of your paragraph I quoted above is a huge non sequitur. You jumped from the fact that I haven’t changed my mind on these issues to the conclusion that I have never changed my mind. Wow! I would mention a few major things I have changed my mind on, but probably you and a few other readers and I are the only ones paying attention. I’ll leave it for a future post.

NZ writes:

A past obsession with the semiotics of truthfulness has left me with a mostly vestigial but still intense interest in April Fool's day. So for me at least, the timing of your joke was the first thing that gave it away.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to jump down your throat about the joke, I just thought your tone had a whiff of smugness, to the effect of "Hah, how silly would it be of me to actually change my mind about any of these issues?"

I can admit there was also a personal aspect to this too, since a lot of my own views changed in exactly the way you were joking yours had: I went from anti-socialized-anything to being okay with some coerced redistribution (though I still oppose Obamacare); I went from being anti-protectionism to pro-tariff; I went from being pro-open borders to being fairly anti-immigration; I went from always impulsively questioning authority to consciously opposing our current dominant ideology of anti-authoritarianism.

I look forward to a post about major things you've changed your mind on. I find changes-of-mind to consistently be the most interesting topic most people write about.

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