The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Oh, and about Palin
I got a boatload of hate-mail for calling Palin an idiot on the Al & Mike Show two weeks ago. I conceded she was a driven and successful person. But that didn't make her smart. It doesn't make her smart and as it turns out--she's an idiot.
That being said. She didn't deserve a lot of the attacks she was the recipient of. She helped underscore the fact that flanks of leftists are also idiots, who have very little to offer in terms of substantive debate. But she was none-the-less, an idiot.
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I fully agree: Palin is a moron, big time.
Posted by: Werner Patels | 2008-11-06 4:49:44 PM
Ok, Palin is moron.
But the moronic club includes also e.g. Biden. FDR in 1929? TV speeches in 1929?
Obama is actually smart, which is quite scary, come to think of it. Empty but smart.
Since he is in it only for his own glory (he is after all the quintessential ME candidate), I suppose he can't do that much damage in two years.
Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2008-11-06 5:01:53 PM
I'm no great fan of Palin but could you please provide evidence for this alleged stupidity.
There are any number of plausible explanations.
Is it true or:
1) sour grapes by McCain's toadies trying to deflect blame?
2) pre-emptive smear campaign by unnamed Leftists and media sympathizers to preclude a run in 2012.
3) it is true but taken out of context.
4) it is true but she was tired and blanked out? (Remember Dion and his multi-attempts at responses...I gave him the benefit of the doubt for language, exhaustion, hearing difficulties, etc.)
Don't jump to conclusions. If it's true and she really is that ignorant, fine, I don't want her anywhere near the White House. However, given that Palin Derangement Syndrome surpasses even Bush Derangement Syndrome, I have my doubts it's true.
People who spread these rumours, however, are just plain mean-spirited. Would you care to withdraw your post until it can be substantiated?
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-11-06 5:02:23 PM
Some people are so desperate to drink the Kool-Aid that even after the party is over and everyone else has gone home, they look around for half finished drinks left behind and finish them off. H2o273kk9 seems to have found enough backwash to muster the belief that maybe it's all a conspiracy to slander poor Miss Congeniality. Not that I'm surprised.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-11-06 5:33:10 PM
So you have actual evidence that Palin didn't know Africa is a continent. Video/Audio will do fine.
Ok, surely you have her memos where she fails to recognize Mexico and Canada as part of free trade.
Well, what exactly do you have? Besides a lack of credibility, I mean.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-11-06 5:37:12 PM
Listened to the podcast last week and have two comments
1) It would be nice if you could pronounce her name properly before calling her an idiot. It's "Paylin" not "Pall-in" as in "palling around with terrorists."
2) I find your criticisms of her more than a little ironic - after all, you aren't exactly on the best of terms with English language yourself.
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-06 5:43:22 PM
"I find your criticisms of her more than a little ironic - after all, you aren't exactly on the best of terms with English language yourself"
I don't believe I ever criticized her command of the English language. I just thought she was an idiot. So I'm unsure where this irony you speak of is coming from. Are you suggesting that I'm an idiot? If so, that's fine; I just want to be clear on the matter. :)
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-06 6:25:07 PM
She's not an idiot if by that you mean unintelligent.
She does, however, lack the kind of knowledge you need to function in high office.
I listen to your show on occasion and I hear you make factual mistakes, stammer, misuse words, etc.
Do I conclude from this that you are an idiot?
Of course not. I just assume that talking extemporaneously on a wide range of topics is hard.
Maybe you should extend her the same courtesy.
And as for your rant about McCain's alleged mean-spirited campaign . . . give me a break! He didn't once mention the racist nut job who was Obama's pastor for twenty years.
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-06 7:32:49 PM
"Of course not. I just assume that talking extemporaneously on a wide range of topics is hard."
Excellent. Well put.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-11-06 7:57:41 PM
On the drive to work this morning my wife and I were much entertained by a radio station playing some of Palins comments to interviwers during the election run up. I thought for a moment I was listening to a female George W Bush.
And she was the only one on the ballot I actually liked! :)
Posted by: JC | 2008-11-06 9:13:28 PM
I watched the TV broadcast of her arrival back in Alaska. Her handling of questions from reporters was quick and well thought out. In the newspaper article that was cited I saw no evidence to back up a slew of asserted conclusions. It was not a news article. It was editorial comment. It would seem that Waterdoggies conclusions 1 and 2 bear closer scrutiny.
Posted by: DML | 2008-11-06 11:49:11 PM
Palin certainly is unpolished, but that doesn't mean she's an idiot. It could just mean she needs to buck up. Read a bit more and such. She comes across really well when she wants to; besides, a lot of 'idiots' have come on strong in the long run. I daresay there's shades of Reagan in her.
Posted by: Charles Martin Cosgriff | 2008-11-07 5:36:39 AM
If she's not an idiot how do you explain:
1. Not being able to name a SINGLE magazine or newspaper or book that she reads.
2. Claiming, in all sincerity, that she had foreign affairs experience because Alaska is close to Russia.
3. Implying that fruit-fly research is a waste of money - having no idea that studying fruit-flies is one of the richest sources of information in the study of diseases.
4. Supporting the idea that biology classes devote time to discussing non-scientific ideas like creationism.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if she thought africa was a country - but I won't use it because it's hearsay.
Posted by: joe agnost | 2008-11-07 9:28:09 AM
Sarah Palin is duh---UUMB dumb. "South AFrica is a part of the country of Africa!". A statement like that would be laughed at even at moronic beauty pageants....Ooops!
A fundamental law of leadership is that one tends to follow another who is smarter than themselves. This says a lot about the type of people that see Sarah Palin as a leader.
Posted by: epsilon | 2008-11-07 9:30:11 AM
Wonkette has an interesting post up on the "Cold War" brewing between Republican insiders.
Basically, once it became clear that an Obama victory was inevitable and that Palin was likely a liability, some staffers decided to cut their losses. Now they're spouting off on Fox News and other places to -- I think -- ensure that they won't have to depend on Sarah Palin for a job in 2012.
The more they can convince people that Palin is a moron, unworthy of serious consideration, the better their position in the future.
And now some on Free Republic are calling for a boycott of Fox News!
Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-11-07 9:47:19 AM
Sarah Palin is duh---UUMB dumb. "South AFrica is a part of the country of Africa!". A statement like that would be laughed at even at moronic beauty pageants....Ooops!
Posted by: epsilon | 7-Nov-08 9:30:11 AM
Though it's not much dumber than saying you had campaigned in 57 states. BTW. Have you ever been to Rhode Island? If you have can you only get there by ferry or do they have a bridge now?
Posted by: The Stig | 2008-11-07 9:52:27 AM
Maybe she is dumb, but it will take more than third-hand accounts parroted by embittered and vindictive election losers to convince me of that. Evidently the citizens of Alaska consider her gubernatorial material. And before you big-city types start breaking out the Hee-Haw jokes, remember that in many parts of Alaska people don't have the police, the ambulance service, or conservation officers to bail them out of whatever weekend idiocy they get themselves into--they survive by their own wits, something I have seen few city people do. You're talking about a state where there are almost as many bush planes as cars. Put a yuppie in a De Havilland Beaver and you're certain to catch him babbling on the phone or quaffing a Starbucks while trying to land the damned thing.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-11-07 10:18:13 AM
"Maybe she is dumb, but it will take more than third-hand accounts parroted by embittered and vindictive election losers to convince me of that."
That's why I gave examples using her own words!!
How do you explain the points I made several posts up??
And about her being gov. of Alaska... are you all aware that Edmonton is BIGGER than the WHOLE state of alaska? Seriously - look it up if you doubt me!
Posted by: joe agnost | 2008-11-07 10:22:34 AM
We shouldn't discount what it takes to achieve high office in America -- even in Alaska -- and the range of complex issues of which someone like Palin would have to have complete command.
If she was dumb she wouldn’t be governor.
She has proved herself to be bright with her career and again definitively in the debate with Biden. Pundits and viewers agreed she did better than they expected, revealing their own prejudice and pre-established opinion that she is dumb.
Why the anti-Palin prejudice? Not because she is a woman -- but because she a proud mother and wife, a conservative (maybe even a libertarian), and she lives a simple rural lifestyle that includes unsophisticated things like hunting and parenting.
Don't buy into that big city punditry, Mike. Palin is a good woman and a bright woman.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-11-07 10:43:06 AM
"She has proved herself to be bright definitively in the debate with Biden. Pundits and viewers agreed she did better than they expected"
With expectations SO LOW how does exceeding them make her "bright"? I did think she did better than I expected in the debate - but "bright"? Come on... she couldn't answer many questions but instead repeated the same talking points her handlers had her memorize.....
Posted by: joe agnost | 2008-11-07 10:47:33 AM
"And about her being gov. of Alaska... are you all aware that Edmonton is BIGGER than the WHOLE state of alaska? "
And are you aware that Alaska is bigger than any organization ever run by Obama.
So, what exactly is your point again?
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-11-07 10:53:01 AM
(maybe even a libertarian)
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 7-Nov-08 10:43:06 AM
Extremely unlikely. Have you guys deluded yourselves into believing that anyone who calls themselves a conservative is probably a closet libertarian?
Posted by: The Stig | 2008-11-07 10:54:37 AM
"Don't buy into that big city punditry, Mike. Palin is a good woman and a bright woman."
I accept that she's a driven, successful, obviously somewhat intelligent woman. I said as much. But I still do think of her as an idiot, like I think of Bush as an idiot. Bush was the Governor of a state too.
I don't doubt that she's a good woman. If there was one thing I defended her on through this whole ordeal, was that it was not right to judge her by her life choices. And I don't.
But if I'd call Jack Layton an idiot with economic and other political oversight, nobody except social democrats will have a problem with that. If I call Sarah Palin an idiot because she's lacks a wide-degree of general knowledge that I consider somewhat relevant to the world at-large, then people defend her. Why?
Idiots get into power all the time.
I know I sound of the very elitism that I myself have often criticized, but in this case, it's my own personal judgement that she's an idiot. I was inclined to think she wasn't an idiot as a reflex to how the left reacted to her, just like I was with Bush.
The truth is, I feel ridiculously bad about myself for have ever being behind Bush in any way. I am after all, a secular libertarian scientific positivist. All of my alarm bells should have been going off then, but I chose to fall into the trap of being anti-left and endorsed idiocy. I won't do that again.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 10:58:21 AM
"And are you aware that Alaska is bigger than any organization ever run by Obama.
So, what exactly is your point again?"
My point had NOTHING to do with Obama. I, and everyone else, am talking about Palin. Start another thread and we can talk about Obama's lack of qualifications if you like, but right now we're talking about Palin.
Posted by: joe agnost | 2008-11-07 11:06:24 AM
Palin made no difference in Republican defeat. Bush hindered it from the beginning and Obama ran a brilliant campaign in spite of his fickleness. Attacking Gov Palin is just scapegoating.
Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-07 11:14:02 AM
Mike -- I think it would be more accurate to say she is poorly informed rather than an idiot, which I see no real evidence of either.
We're told that some Capital Hill political hacks thought she was dumb, or ill-informed, because she didn't know the things they know.
Public Choice theory would call this rational ignorance. She learns what she needs to learn -- using her very able mind -- to get the job done. Anything more would be a waste of her time...time she could spend hunting in the great Alaskan outdoors, and looking good doing it.
Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-11-07 11:45:48 AM
"If there was one thing I defended her on through this whole ordeal, was that it was not right to judge her by her life choices."
Mike - before you go around slandering people perhaps you should learn to write grammatical English. I wouldn't let a freshman in any of my classes get away with the above.
BTW, positivism is not compatible with most forms of libertarianism - certainly not ones that depend on a robust idea of rights.
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-07 12:01:40 PM
"BTW, positivism is not compatible with most forms of libertarianism - certainly not ones that depend on a robust idea of rights."
You would be better to stick to my grammatical failings--which are more a result of writing from my mobile phone than anything else--than to attempt an attack on the consistency of my philosophical positions.
Yes, in fact, I reject deontological ethics. I am a consequentialist libertarian. As a positivist, I find no compelling evidence to suggest to me that there are natural or universal laws governing ethics or that ethics and morality are anything but a product of human consciousness and self-interest.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 12:53:46 PM
You've never answered the gravamen of your critics' position, which is that Palin may be ill-informed but she is not a moron or an idiot In other words, knowledge is not the same thing as intelligence. (and I would add that given your own deficiencies as a commentator you should cut her some slack).
But there's no need to keep arguing about this.
As for positivism - it's a protean term. I take it to mean a Humean-style rejection of any kind of causal order in the world. In that sense (and I could be wrong), it would be incompatible with consequentialism which assumes that x action will always and everywhere have y effect.
But the deeper problem with your argument is that you have to have some standard by which to judge the consequences of your policies. In other words, if the policy you favour leads to Y result (say, more freedom) you need to defend the propriety of Y. And that requires a consideration of the kind of norms that you reject in the name of a mindless scientific "positivism."
I am sure even Palin would not be guilty of such a crude contradiction.
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-07 2:06:52 PM
Consequentialism and logical positivism are not mutually exclusive in any sense. There are multiple schools of thought within consequentialist ethics and there are plenty of examples of logical positivists who also accept a utilitarian basis for libertarianism. Alan Greenspan is one I can name of the top of my head.
To say that logical positivism (or logical empiricism) would preclude one from adopting a ethical system that is consequentialist in nature implies a very strange limitation that I'm afraid I don't understand. I invite you to try and enlighten me.
I also do not treat positivism as an absolute axiom. Positivism is nothing more than methodology of understanding the world. Being a positivist, in my opinion, does not include the outright rejection of rationalism, as I find some like to reduce it to.
Perhaps I would rather call myself a "Weak positivist" in the sense I also believe that valuable rational analysis can occur outside the scope of direct verifiability. However, in the same light, I am deeply suspicious of metaphysics in general.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 2:38:42 PM
Mike Broke wrote: “1. I accept that she's a driven, successful, obviously somewhat intelligent woman. I said as much. But I still do think of her as an idiot, like I think of Bush as an idiot. Bush was the Governor of a state too.”
1. Mike, it does not matter what you think. It only matters what you can prove. People have consistently underestimated Bush’s intelligence and in my experience Bush’s most vocal critics attack him emotionally, not logically—a sure sign that they aren’t thinking the matter through.
2. Of course it’s right to judge her by her life choices. If a man commits murder in his life, steals or embezzles in his life, abuses children in his life, that’s a reflection on both his character and his judgement. The former is not really required in a leader, but the latter certainly is.
3. Because term “idiot” suggests defective reasoning and deductive capabilities, not deficient knowledge. A lack of knowledge is easily corrected. A lack of intelligence—the inability to look the facts in the face and arrived at the correct conclusion—is irremediable.
4. Yes, idiots get into power all the time. They also get into university all the time. They get into everywhere all the time, for all sorts of reasons. What’s your point?
5. You were not asked what your personal judgement was. This is a debate. You are expected to prove your assertions beyond saying something in a dismissive and disapproving tone and standing there stonily with your hands on your hips and your eyebrows arched menacingly.
6. Again—this is not about you. We don’t care how you feel. It has no bearing on this discussion. The Universe does not exist to provide you with amusement, and it is not beholden to your whims. And you’re right—with your heavy philosophical trappings and your inclination to label anyone who does not know the right things (according to you) as an idiot, you do smack of elitism. Perhaps it’s because you’re an elitist.
Empty and unproductive temporizing over the absurdly inconsequential, as you have been doing with Craig, as well as a nose thrust up to Andean heights, are just a few reasons why so many voters is just one reason why I’d rather be run by the first hundred names in the phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. They’re hypereducated, but perennially dysfunctional.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-11-07 3:04:31 PM
I am not sure whether positivism is a useful analytical category here (though I would insist that it is not the same thing as empiricism).
The more important question is by what standard do you judge the consequences of your policies? I don't see any way to answer this save by appealing to some set of values - individual freedom, egalitarianism, hierarchy, welfare, etc. In other words, a normative standard is inescapable when you invoke consequentialism.
If you choose some sort of utilitarianism (as most economists do) then it becomes hard to defend rights (indeed, utilitarianism was invented by 19th thinkers who thought rights were 'nonsense on stilts'). (I realize that there are 'rule' utilitarians who attempt to get get around the anti-individualism of the utilitarian tradition).
I should add that I don't think the answer is deontology, let alone religion. Rather, I am sympathetic to Rand's meta-ethics (see, for example, Tara Smith's recent work in this vein).
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-07 3:14:39 PM
Shane, your points are well taken. In fact, I will concede to you that there is a bit of an emotional out-lash in my views about Palin and Bush.
I have traditionally been "close" to social conservatives in the sense that I found common ground with them on economic issues. But I have recently come to the conclusion that social conservatives are working against me on issues I find equally important.
To that end, I am being condescending. But I am sick of being at the other end.
When I lived in North Carolina, I was sick of being told that people "don't have a problem with [my] atheism... as long as I keep it to [myself]". Or they don't have a problem with secular people as long as they let America have it's "Christian heritage"--whatever the hell that means.
I am undergoing a transition from being the "in the closet" atheist who is a member of the conservative movement, simply on economic grounds, to a proud atheist and proud libertarian. This alliance between me and social conservatives (at least in an impersonal sense) is ending.
I am now actively working against social conservatives in the Canadian conservative movement. I am taking strong positions against matters of law as extensions of deontological morality.
I received a lot of mail from people when I nervously stammered my way through admitting I was an atheist on the A&MS. People were surprised. Some condemned me. That moment was the last straw.
Regardless of the mental masturbation that Craig and I have subsequently been engaging in, I will state this:
I am a libertarian. I stand for free expression, free markets, free association, free movement, and yes, even free belief. But do not ask me to respect belief. Do not ask me to respect the friends you keep. Do not ask me to respect what you say or what you stand for. I won't ask you to do the same of me.
I believe that the insertion of metaphysics into the political debate is counter-productive to achieving all of my goals. Is this smug? Maybe. I don't care.
I will be self-consistent though. I will not ask people to keep matters of faith to themselves. I will not ask them to check their religion at the door. I will not ask politicians to vote independent of their religious convictions. I ask none of this.
But at the same time: don't expect me to show respect for the views of any person who is working against the goal of liberty. I may respect the socialist, but I don't respect socialism. I may respect the Muslim, but I don't respect Islam.
I have withdrawn my respect on these matters. So should I have sunk to emotional lows and simply called Palin an "idiot"? Maybe not. Was it beneath me? Yes. Do I hold it against you for judging me in that respect? No. But, are the gloves off? Yes.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 3:43:47 PM
"There are multiple schools of thought within consequentialist ethics and there are plenty of examples of logical positivists who also accept a utilitarian basis for libertarianism. Alan Greenspan is one I can name of the top of my head."
Mike, please don't cite Alan Greenspan as a libertarian. I think Greenspan was once a libertarian in his Ayn Rand Collective days, but certainly not anymore. Did you hear his testimony before congress calling for more market regulation and Keynesianism? Also, how the head of a central bank (an anti-libertarian, anti-free market institution) with a record like his could be considered libertarian boggles the mind. This trope is kept alive by leftist academics and journalists who laughably wish to blame the disasters of Greenspan (and Bush) on their commitment to laissez-faire.
If you want to name a prominent libertarian positivist, why not point to Milton Friedman, who was an influential proponent of positivism and the methodology of positivism in the social sciences and was at least arguably libertarian?
Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-07 3:47:28 PM
I think you are being a little bit harsh on Greenspan, and I think that Friedman (if he were still alive) may agree.
In his book, The Age of Turbulence, I think Greenspan demonstrates a man who was torn between his idealism and the methods by which to achieve that goal.
To the extent that central banking involves itself in the economy, I am confused as to where Friedman would differ. Friedman's monetarism very much advocates for having a central bank control the money supply, does it not?
Moreover, Greenspan's monetary policies were very faithful to Friedman's positions as far as I can tell.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 3:56:27 PM
"My point had NOTHING to do with Obama. I, and everyone else, am talking about Palin. Start another thread and we can talk about Obama's lack of qualifications if you like, but right now we're talking about Palin."
HOw convenient. We weren't talking about Edmonton nor Alaska either yet you felt compelled to inject the non-sequitur. Which, BTW, was the point in my response.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-11-07 4:00:46 PM
"To the extent that central banking involves itself in the economy, I am confused as to where Friedman would differ. Friedman's monetarism very much advocates for having a central bank control the money supply, does it not?"
Maybe there are better positivist libertarians to cite than Friedman, he just seemed better than Greenspan. Back when Greenspan was a libertarian, he was also an Objectivist and therefore anti-positivist.
Insofar as Friedman was an advocate of a central bank, "more efficient" public schools, a negative income tax etc, he was not a libertarian (that's why I said 'arguably'). I do not wish to minimize his enormous contributions to the case for human freedom (I am a libertarian because I read Friedman) and the implementation of good policy (like ending the draft), but nor do I wish to oversell him.
Friedman did favour a sort of central bank, but not the type we see in the world today as typified by the Federal Reserve. Friedman would like to see the Federal Reserve abolished and money controlled directly by the Treasury, he would like to see interest rates set not by a Board of Governors but by a computer which would follow his monetarist rule.
Milton Friedman's ideas about a steady expansion in the monetary supply does not good monetary policy make, as he advocates a faster increase in money supply than demand for money. Also, given the fact that the Fed does not have total control over the money supply, Friedman's ideas are impossible to put into practice. In his later life Friedman acknowledged this (I can't find the quote right now), and said that had he put too much faith in the commitment of central bankers to pursue the public good, and did not take public-choice type considerations into account when he advocated that the Fed as a second-best option follow "good" monetary policy.
"Moreover, Greenspan's monetary policies were very faithful to Friedman's positions as far as I can tell."
George Selgin addresses this idea in today's Mises Article. I think he makes a very strong case that Greenspan was not a monetarist in practice:
Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-07 4:17:57 PM
Holy cow -- how did I miss an opportunity for fruitful and interesting philosophical discussion?
Re: Positivism. Here's a decent overview of the position: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivism
As for your fine point about consequentialism, Craig, I couldn't agree more. We can't be consequentialists without first knowing what outcome we are aiming towards. The determination of the "right" or "good" outcomes is a wholly normative matter. We need values to determine what counts as "better" or "worse," so consequentialists cannot help but have some account of what values we all should be aiming at.
While you're right about the majority of 19th century utilitarians, we shouldn't overlook John Stuart Mill's more-or-less libertarian version of utilitarianism. It is altogether possible, and if we're fans of Adam Smith we'll be partial to this, for libertarian political institutions to lead to outcomes that are best for most (by some normative standard, of course. Maybe "welfare" or "well-being" are good, if vague, catch-alls).
Apart from a commitment to respect for persons and autonomy, I tend to be mostly sympathetic with consequentialism as well. A consequentialism that sees concern for welfare and well-being at its centre. It's an admittedly messy view, but who said ethics should be clear-cut and obvious to everyone? Even Aristotle, someone who Ayn Rand fashioned herself after, said ethics isn't a precise science, but a rough guide to right action.
Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-11-07 4:29:08 PM
Thanks for that article. Thinking of monetary policy and money supply inside the scope of my libertarian beliefs is actually something that I was first thrust into by Moin at the LSS. I had a good 40 minute conversation with him about it, where he more or less schooled me on the basic thoughts behind where you're coming from.
I profess to have an unlearned view of these matters and it's actually something that I think would make for incredibly interesting discussion on the A&MS at some point.
I suppose I have a passing sympathy for libertarians who get into power and have histories judgements leave them in bad favor. I have seen first hand, the challenges of bringing the value of liberty into practice within the auspices of the institutional realities of our society.
This is part of why I am highly skeptical of the Libertarian Party of Canada as an effective vehicle in and of itself; I believe that the only possible vector for instilling these values is through incremental measures.
The problem with liberty, is that it is fundamentally necessary for it to be mutually valued between all parties. It is often difficult to do this in the face of practical problems which are interpreted through the lens of illiberal preconceived notions.
For this, I understand Greenspan's pain. The libertarian animus towards state interference is often hard for people to swallow because said people do not share a conceptual understanding of the consequences of action.
I believe that Greenspan's policies, despite the backlash against him, have in general, been a net positive. That being said, I will appreciate the imperative of libertarians to hold in principle that "better than nothing" is not acceptable.
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 4:42:41 PM
"As for your fine point about consequentialism, Craig, I couldn't agree more. We can't be consequentialists without first knowing what outcome we are aiming towards. The determination of the "right" or "good" outcomes is a wholly normative matter. We need values to determine what counts as "better" or "worse," so consequentialists cannot help but have some account of what values we all should be aiming at."
I suppose I held this as self-evident. If one called ones-self a consequentialist libertarian, as I did, I would assume that someone with a basic understanding of philosophy would connect the proverbial dots and assume that meant I believed the "right" or "good" outcomes were best served by libertarianism.
To that end, I was surprised to find that Wikipedia has an article on consequentialist libertarianism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialist_libertarianism
Posted by: Mike Brock | 2008-11-07 4:48:55 PM
Peter - I am a little more sympathetic to Rand's position than you are. But it's been years since I have really thought about her ideas seriously. When I get some time I want to read Tara Smith's new book on Rand's ethics (published by Cambridge, no less).
On Mill - I hosted a Liberty Fund on Locke, Smith and Mill a few years ago and was surprised at how often Mill invoked the collective or society as the moral standard even if his conclusions were mostly respectful of individual rights - e.g., free speech is justified because it's better for us all to have societal conventions challenged (I am going from memory here). And then there's his odd view that majority opinion is literally coercive.
Mike - I don't have time to read the article right now, but I agree - most libertarians assume that the ends they seek are widely shared and therefore uncontroversial - after all, who wouldn't want to be freer, wealthier, etc. (I used to have this argument with Mike Walker back in my Fraser days). But sadly it's not the case. Some people (and some cultures) are OK with sacrificing liberty for equality, religious orthodoxy for liberty of conscience, material well-being to the environment, etc.
In the end there's no way to getting around the need to defend some kind of ends or values.
Posted by: Craig | 2008-11-07 5:25:04 PM
It you want to appreciate why I got so touchy when you called Greenspan a libertarian (and if you can read French), Martin Masse had a good blog post on the subject: http://www.leblogueduql.org/2008/11/laveu-trompeur.html
Masse might be a good guest for the A&MS if you're interested in talking about money and/or the financial crisis, but I can recommend (and contact) some others if you're interested.
Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-11 10:54:14 AM
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