Monday, March 05, 2007

I am a Libertarian

"Competition is merely the absence of oppression."
-- Frederic Bastiat

Freakanomics and the PBS series "Comanding Heights" (a reference to Lenin's conception that socialism, in order to control the economy, must control the commanding heights of the economy -- mostly energy production and concomitant natural resource utilization) about globalization 1900-2005, mentioned Hayek and the other libertarian post-keynesian thinkers. Hayek's book "the road to serfdom" , if you pick up the edition with the cartoons, is a great read. Also now am a big fan of Milton Friedman's work, and just finished reading David Henderson's "The Joy of Freedom" which is actually really good despite the hokey title. It mentions, among other things, that economics shouldn't be taught "theory first" with all that ceteris paribus junk but instead should just keep it real, with real world examples. Henderson has a great list of the top ten principles of economics, the first is that incentives matter. For a spoof see

Although there are problems with the explanatory power of a purely rational approach to the world, there are many things that are rationally/economically obvious (raising the minimum wage necessarily raises unemployment, tariffs hurt both countries), and I no longer think Stieglitz is the be-all and end-all (his textbook with the lighthouse on the cover -- referring to the idea that some services are best left to gov't -- is actually a non sequitur since it was shown that lighthouses were privately owned in England in the 1700 and 1800s). I definitely wouldn't vote for a candidate who thought the gov't could do a better job on anything (except maybe defense?) than private enterprise.

How do I reconcile all this dismal science with social justice and environmentalism? Paul Hawkin and Amory Lovins have the answer in Natural Capitalism, which due to space limitations I cannot quote in its entirety.

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