“Leave no man behind.” This slogan is the peak of military romanticism. No matter how much you suffer for the cause, you are never alone. You belong to an unbreakable brotherhood of blood. “I’m expendable.” This admission is the peak of military realism. You’re not part of a loving “family”; you’re part of a callous system. If you die, you’ll be replaced by someone else. Before long, the men who sent you to your doom won’t even remember your name.
Demagogic policies surround us, but no true demagogue enforces them strictly. The result: As long as you don’t call too much attention to yourself, you can pick and choose which laws to follow at surprisingly low cost. So, I ask you, why not follow your conscience?
Ten years ago, I never heard anyone talk about “microaggressions” or “privilege.” The substance, however, is almost exactly what teachers, textbooks, and the media told me back in the 1980s.
The Nineties were almost crisis-free; indeed, the collapse of Communism ended the forty-year crisis of the Cold War. Ever since, however, we’ve had one exasperating crisis after another: 9/11, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, and ISIS, followed by Covid-19, the crisis that puts all the others to shame.
America is now an elective dictatorship. Unlike almost all historical dictatorships, however, these are dictatorships within a federal system. Every governor makes it up as he goes along… but he only makes it up for his own state.
While I found Terence Kealey’s case for protectionism underwhelming, it definitely got me thinking. Here are my further thoughts.
While I was teaching at the John Locke Institute, our Summer School sponsored a debate on free trade between Daniel Hannon and Terence Kealey. Kealey rested his case for protectionism squarely on the classic infant-industry argument. Kealey’s version: While free trade does indeed improve efficiency at the moment, the long-run effect is to suppress economic growth in poorer countries. Why? Because you don’t improve at doing things that you don’t do.
What’s the big deal about masks? In exchange for slight inconvenience and discomfort, we save lives. Basic human selfishness explains why many would fail to comply. Anti-authoritarian scruples might lead some to oppose government mask mandates. But how could anyone sincerely disagree with the principle that wearing masks is a good thing?
I just got back from a month in the UK, working for the John Locke Institute‘s two summer schools. The morning before I left, I delivered my talk on “The Economics of Antipathy and Stereotyping.” In the subsequent Q&A, one of the students asked (roughly), “But shouldn’t we try to rectify past injustices that caused present-day differences in worker productivity?” Since I wasn’t satisfied with my answer at the time, here are the three key points I wish I’d made.
In my “Knowledge, Reality, and Value” Book Club, I focus on my disagreements with Huemer, even though I agree with the vast majority of what the book says. Recently, however, he wrote a separate piece that I disagree with almost entirely, entitled “Two Taxes that Aren’t Theft.” Using Huemer’s common-sense approach to ethics, I say that he’s deeply mistaken on both counts.