The Bitcoin Bible

I've been thinking about something...

There are several factors involved in Bitcoin procurement.
The first factor are the miners. Small people, like us, that have dedicated their time & electricity bills to mine blocks and earn a quick, but reasonably big, profit. Nevermind taxes.
The second factor are private (albeit small-to-medium) firms that are engaged only in mining and offering, on the exchange market, Bitcoins in exchange for actual legal tender from buyers. In my opinion, these are the only long-term winners before the actual storm arrives.
The third factor are state-sponsored programs (as in, job description/activity, not actual software programs) that have dedicated enormous resources, for 24/7 and counting, in mining. On one hand, they pay the bills, on another they keep the biggest chunks (from daily/weekly/monthly mining) the rest to safe; not to be used until the time arrives.
What will happen.
At some point and time, in the first phase, these state-sponsored programs & private firms will phase out the first factor, the miners. It will become so unbearable that legislation will come to bite 'em of their asses & face jail time or simply give up because ”it's not worth it anymore, man, the big guys/The Man won”.
The second phase will be liquidating or buying shares (influence) into the 2nd factor, the private small-to-medium firms. The owners will cash-out because legal tender is all what mattered to them from the beginning OR become an ”honorary chairman” or an ”advisor” (both being empty positions), with a huge paycheck & benefits from the new owners that bought their companies outright or bought the majority of the shares and effectively are the new owner(s).
The third phase... after the dust has settled, when everybody will see which's which & who's whom, the 3rd phase will be ”private, laissez-faire, invisible hand” regulation, not from a central bank. Those that have/had state-sponsored help will have the means to control the market's prices, inflate and deflate every time they want.
The fourth and final phase, Bitcoin officially becomes the new fad, the new mainstream chic, that every business, every bank will accept to operate with. The ”private”, state-sponsored entities are indirectly in hands with the central & commercial banks (maybe they were all along the third factor, or Three-letter agencies or any other public institution/agency/department/ministry).
Too apocalyptic? That crash that happened, I don't think it's a hiccup. I'm convinced it's the first heart attack that damaged irreversibly the body. The first factor is now starting to be slowly purged outside the system & the 2nd and 3rd factor are gaining momentum... until the 3rd phase kicks into motion.
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Redefining Social Justice part 2

part 1
What Is Social Justice? Walter Block 16 min.
Regulation is needed that works to public benefit, which is discussed here. There are two basic types of regulation, 1 top-down and 2 bottom-up. Type 1 is a common characteristic of x-archies (monarchy, oligarchy), aristocracy, republic, and democracy by representation. Any type of government may become corrupt, and given time, absolutely will. Societies that enjoyed near perfect freedom have only existed prior to the invention of agriculture, and temporarily on newly expanded frontiers since then. Whenever organized force arrives, freedom ends and tyranny begins.
In a redefinition of justice, a few basic moral precepts (proven to work) can be recorded in a constitution. Then a bottom up consensus can work against violations in a civil manner. A fine example of how this can work is demonstrated via the Internet, on websites selling goods and services. The site provides feedback (reviews) from volunteers who have experience with the item in question. This information is not coming from the seller, who obviously has a conflict of interest and will only provide information favorable to a sale. The potential customer has a collection of opinions to help inform the caveat emptor tenet of laissez faire trade. Openly available true information is a feature of capitalism, which is one reason Leftists oppose the system.
Capitalism in western Europe was an enabling feature for the Industrial Revolution there, and the explosion of economic progress that followed. The bible of capitalism is Wealth of Nations (1776) by Adam Smith. It explains how competition, supply/demand, trade self-regulated by an "Invisible Hand" all lead to optimized prosperity. The descriptors "decentralized" and "peer to peer" apply to this economic system, and coincidently arise as descriptors of cryptocurrency (eg. bitcoin) a new (2009) type of digital money that is enjoying huge popularity at present (2018). These bottom-up regulation regimes have proven effective, but yet to be optimized or extended to their full potential.
Distribution of Resources in a Just World End all human-caused pollution of food and water, will be discussed here. The issue of Tragedy of the Commons is best addressed (controversially) by private property. This institution supports the incentive for the owner to care for his property, take responsibility for it, and can be expected to offer "due diligence" stewardship. Public ownership means no one takes responsibility, or some self-appointed third party (aka government) claims stewardship, you can be confident that someone in government will take some kind of private advantage of that stewardship role, to the detriment of public use.
Murray Rothbard discusses how this can work in For a New Liberty, and the Tannehills also, in The Market, for Liberty.
Function of government should be limited as will be discussed here. A society needs to have both supply and demand. Demand is the aggregate of willing traders able to pay. So the success of a society depends on its ability to employ its citizens so they will be able to pay.
Will Robots Take Our Jobs? | veritasium 9 min.
Why the rise of the robots won’t mean the end of work | Vox 9 min.
Robot invasion problem, and a UBI solution... another top-down solution the like of which Libertarian ideology abhors. As robots improve, more humans will be squeezed for finding employment; the owners of robots will find themselves operating for a smaller wealthier class of society because the low end has no money. The robots themselves may find ways to improve the lot of these unfortunates, but in the long run, robots being biased toward holistic health and improvement, will find ways to weed out degenerates (that faction which violates moral principles). UBI may become SBI (Select Basic Income). Do you forsee violence from the left-behind faction? Of course you do. But the robots will be here to provide excellent security. Robots give blessings to the worthy, damnation to the unworthy.
Subjective Ethics This is a debate between relative, or subjective ethical choices vs absolute, or objective versions of same. Said differently, do ethics, morals, etc. abide in some universal law beyond social variations, or can they be entirely idiosyncratic, specific to discrete cultures?
My claim for this debate is: "a bit of both". Ethics can't be arbitrary, because some kinds of behavior destroy society, or make the members miserable beyond endurance. There are obviously variations in societies, so there are also kinds of behavior that do not destroy society. There must be some minimal set of absolutes in behavior that allow society to function, while behaviors (relative ones) that do not conflict with those absolutes may exist in a surviving society. Beyond the basics then, the full set of ethics of a society, in competition with other societies, will prove the relative strength of one society to survive in the world of societies.
While another debate can be raised as to what "strength" means, deciding on your own what is right or wrong, regardless of social "norms" (mores, not to be confused with smores), is like making up your own words. You should not be surprised when you speak them, the listeners "don't get it". Except a social faux-pas about gibberish is most likely to harm only the gibberish speaker. If you make up your own terms of justice, and do something wrong according to social norms, should not be surprised when you get caught in a retaliation scenario. The ones against whom you trespassed will not get it, they will get you.
If ethics are officially subjective, then without further clarification, logically, there is no limit to behavior, therefore no crime. Behaviors are then idiosyncratic, and not to be criticized, officially. To me, this seems obviously stupid, of course evil behaviors will exist as long as there are separate living beings, due to conflicts of interest. But this idea is doubly stupid, it's hypocritical, because the faction pushing this meme (the Left, collectivists, academics, statists) strenuously object to and condemn anyone who deviates from their political correctness program. So the Left wants ethics to be subjective, as long as it suits them, but not ok for anyone else. What kind of justice is that?
The Argument for Adaptability When in Rome do as the Romans Do This proverb is attributed to St Augustine: Letters Volume I. It preaches an override of local customs when traveling, above a traveler's home customaries. Here we have an emphasis on divergence of cultures across the world, and the need to adapt to acceptable practices so as to avoid disputes or otherwise finding trouble. So take some other advice: Don't bother looking for trouble; it will find you as a natural course...
"He that diligently seeks good, procures favor: but he that seeks mischief (evil), it shall come unto him." -Proverbs 11:27 King James Bible
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How Bitcoin could become its antithesis (an open letter)

x-post from Bitcoin Forum:
First off let me say right away that I’m a newbie. I’ve known about Bitcoin for a few years, and have been watching from afar, but only recently decided to immerse myself in the technical details — and equally important, the culture. I stayed away out of a suspicion that one of Bitcoin’s main claimed virtues (privacy) was oversold, and because I knew that it would hard for me to get into Bitcoin in a casual way.
What I’ve found so far is a an environment that’s far more complex and captivating then I’d imagined. It could help liberate the world from the chains of fait currency and the banking establishment, but it could also become a powerful tool for statist control. I’m sure this latter possibility is inconceivable to many within the space, but it would’t be the first time a vehicle of liberation spun around 180 degrees.
From what I can tell, the early adopters of Bitcoin skewed heavily libertarian, anarcho-capitalist, Rothbardian. As use of Bitcoin spreads to the general public, the culture surrounding it changes, becomes more mainstream. There’s a long history of online communities which, over time, became hostile to the original crowd and their laissez-faire ideals. Slashdot, Wired, Reddit. You can see the transition happening right now in the comments section at Zerohedge.
The reaction to the fall of MtGox shows that many Bitcoiners are now muggles (or matrix dwellers, if you prefer). These new users were raised on an intellectual diet of “market failure” and “much needed government regulation.” Their first instinct when things go wrong is to look for government to fix it. They’re comfortable with filing requirements, identity verification, withdrawal limits. They’re shocked to find out the BTC exchanges don’t have deposit insurance.
Here we get to an essential weakness of the protocol, at least so far as how it compares to the promised benefits. As a pseudonymous currency with a full public ledger of transactions, the privacy of everyone depends on the privacy of everyone else. Every single input and output from the real world to Bitcoin (every wire transfer you send to an exchange, every purchase of items shipped to your home), is a potential crack in the veil of privacy not just for you, but for everyone else.
I can see that developers are working on interesting technologies, like CoinJoin, which could be baked into the the protocol to enhance privacy. But right now, securing your privacy within Bitcoin requires additional, complicated steps (using tumblers, creating a new address for each transaction). The lessons from PGP email could not be more clear: if it’s a hassle, the vast majority of users won’t do it, which means that users of these privacy measures will be the ones who really need it. But because the defining feature of our new age is data interconnectivity, true privacy in can only come from increasing the amount of noise in the system, not decreasing the amount of signal. When the privacy of the network as a whole depends on individual users taking steps that make their lives more complicated, this privacy won’t survive.
Even if changes to the protocol make tracking harder by default, political changes could allow governments to view a nearly complete record of every BTC purchase and movement of funds. What’s going to happen if the IRS adds an addendum to the FBAR that requires you to list all of your public keys? What will happen when thousands of law-abiding citizens report their capital gains (and losses) from Bitcoin on their returns?
If your Bitcoin profits are turned into fiat and taxed to support the continued bailout of Wall Street, then nothing’s really changed. Bitcoin trading becomes one more acceptable way for people to make money that can be funneled back to the state and its favored groups.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s virtues compared to dealing with credit cards, in terms of lower transaction costs and reduced counter-party risk, could speed adoption among merchants, which in turn generates more data to connect buyers and sellers with public BTC addresses.
Volatility, transaction malleability, exchanges gone bad… to me these seem like minor issues, taking the long view. They’re not why I’m still looking in from the outside, without a single satoshi to my name. These aren’t the reasons I decided to write this open letter to the Bitcoin developers and community at large.
I’m writing this because I’m worried that Bitcoin could become a far greater threat to fiscal independence than anything that’s come before. The history of the United States itself should serve as a warning. What began with a constitution to strictly restrain the government’s role, and a Bill of Rights as safeguard, is now a leviathan with effectively unlimited power. The massive economic surplus, fostered by the country’s laissez-faire roots, is now used to fund the largest welfare-warfare state the world has ever known.
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[Table] IAmA: I am Steve Horwitz, economist, professor at St Lawrence University, and bleeding heart libertarian . AMA!

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2014-02-28
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
Do you think the relative unpopularity of economic liberty (laissez faire) as a policy is due to people's lack of knowledge or some predilection in favor of tangible, sold 'plans' over the unpredictability of freedom? Or neither or some mix of both? All great questions. I think your instinct is right here: people prefer the (false) security of a "plan" than the more open-ended promise of market discovery. Part of the way to deal with that is to point out how often those plans fail and their propensity to generate unintended consequences that make matters WORSE and then generate a demand for more intervention, etc..
As a followup, how do you convince people to put their faith in free markets and free people without promising some specific plan or specific outcome? Saying "the free market will fix it" doesn't seem satisfying to most people. If you can't trust a lot of people to solve smaller problems in decentralized ways with a functioning feedback process, how can you trust a small number to solve big problems with a crappy feedback process?
Do you support open borders? If so, do you think a large enough influx of immigrants from a different culture could produce such negative externalities in the process of assimilation that on net, they destroy more wealth than they create? My friend Bryan Caplan did an AMA a little while back and I have the same views as he does on open borders, which is keep 'em wide open. I don't fear the scenario you lay out here because there's no history to support it. Immigrants who come here do so because they want to make their lives better and help their families in the process. As they assimilate, they will not just complete "become us," we will become more like them. Thinik about all the ways in which what was once immigrant food and culture have become part of who we are as Americans (that pizza you're eating..). Assimilation is a two-way street and has many more positive than negative externalities. Plus, it's a simple matter of human rights and bleeding heart libertarianism that we should give those with the least all around the world the opportunity to make a better life for themselves by recognizing their right to move to where the opportunities are and create work and property contracts with those who live there. I simply cannot see how any libertarian can support anything less than open borders on both practical and moral grounds.
What is a bleeding heart libertarian? I'd also like to tackle this one early. BHLs come in various flavors. What we all seem to share is that we think the primary moral concern of libertarians, if not any political philosophy, should be how well our preferred system will do for the least well off among us. For some of my BHL colleagues is is that concern that is the moral justification for any system, i.e., libertarianism is only moral justified in so far as it improves the lives of the least well off. For others, like me, it's more about rhetoric and style. I believe that libertarianism DOES serve their interests very well, but I think it's more that we should focus our arguments and our rhetoric on that point, rather than thinking it serves as the ultimate moral justification.
BHLs generally believe that libertarianism can meet the ENDS of our leftist friends concerned with social justice but through the MEANS of freedom.
So "a rising tide lifts all boats" will now be stated as...hmmm... "Free people make better choice for themselves and have better outcomes"? It lifts ALL boats, but it also lifts the LEAST WELL OFF boats the most.
Not much freedom if you are poor. How about "you're far more likely to be poor if you have no freedom." The Berlin Wall was not there to keep people in WEST Germany.
WARNING: I am a Marxist, please do not be alarmed. With that out of the way, I was wondering if you could answer this question from a Libertarian standpoint: With industry as vast and as awe-inspiring as it is today I was wondering why you think it is still a good idea to continue the practice of private ownership over the goods that industry produces? It seems to me that, in light of current global economic "problems" (to say the least), we could simply cut the bullshit. Put people into industries, have them (the workers) collectively run the workplace. With people who aren't concerned with competition but cooperation it seems that they would most likely focus on lifting themselves (them being the community of whichever particular area, town,city,village,whatever) out of poverty, and if we continue this practice across countries, the entire globe even, it seems that we could lift massive amounts of poverty and ignorance off of millions of people. Why bother bickering about this-or-that style of Capitalism, why not just throw the damn thing overboard, like we did feudalism, and finally start using industry for more than profit hoarding and worthless vanity items? THanks for the question. I think you radically undersestimate the problems of determining how to use resources in ways that improve economic well-being. First, markets ARE about cooperation. Did you make your shirt? I'm guessing not. That shirt was make through the cooperation of millions of people from across the globe, coordinating their activity through the prices, profits, and losses of the market. Markets are the most powerful form of social cooperation (and globally so) that humans have ever discovered. You need to get beyond the competition/cooperation binary.
Second, in order to know how best to use resource to improve people's lives, we need to know their value. That requires a standard of comparison that relates back to people's wants and needs. And that is what prices do. Monetary exchange and the price system are form of extra-linguistic communication that enable us to assess value. To have meaningful prices, we need them to arise from actual exchanges by real people in real markets. And that requires private ownership, especially of capital. How would all of these firms know 1) what to make 2) how to make it? It is market prices, profits, and loss that facilitate the social learning process that enables us to answer these questions.
Profit is a social signal and what justifies using markets is that they are the only way we have of answering all of these questions about what to produce and how to produce it. If we get rid of markets, we are not giving the tin man a heart, we are Oedipus poking out our eyes.
What do you think of the latest developments affecting the bitcoin ecosystem? To be honest, I don't follow bitcoin that closely. I have long believed that we need to get rid of central banks, so I'm in favor of anything that creates an alternative to central banking, thus I"m rooting for bitcoin. But I'm also skeptical about it because I'm not convinced it will be anything more than a niche way of engaging in very sophisticated multi-lateral barter, but with limits. That said, I want it to stick around if for no other reason than to show folks that you don't need government to get sound money. Because... you don't.
How would we regulate the economy without central banks? The history of economies without central banks and with truly competitive monetary systems is that they are much more stable and much less prone to bank failures and monetary mischief than ones with central banks. Canada did not have a central bank til the 1930s and never had the problems the US did. Link to
Prof. Horwitz, given your work on family, what changes do you think should be considered to welfare policies? In my ideal libertarian world, the need for such assistance would be far less and it would be provided by the various institutions of civil society. If you haven't read Dave Beito's From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, there's the place to start. If the state is going to be involved, I would like to see two kinds of related changes. We need to get away from welfare systems that create perverse incentives that discourage the formation of healthy families. The tax/welfare system is so full of special interest nonsense that it creates huge incentives for poor folks not to get married, when doing so can be one (but not the only) way to help them climb the income ladder. The second change is to move toward some sort of basic guaranteed income program. It's not my first best, but it's far better than the status quo. If nothing else, it has far less overhead cost to taxpayers and gets rid of many of the perverse incentives of the current welfare system, especially with respect to marriage adn families. It's also FAR less intrusive on people's privacy.
Wouldn't guaranteed income give people even more of an incentive not to work? It's not clear that it's worse than the status quo and at far less cost. But yes, that's a potential problem and the literature on BGI tries to deal with it. You should google the recent discussion of this topic on bleeding heart libertarians.
Wouldn't a UBI be a forced redistribution of wealth that flies in the face of the non-aggression principal? Again, it's a second best.
Plus, I don't ground my libertarianism in the non-aggression principle. If you could show me that a world with a large government was better than a world with a small or non-existent one, I'd be fine with the large government. I care about consequences first and foremost.
Are there any areas of research where you'd like to see more libertarians focusing their efforts? Are there any areas that draw too much focus from libertarians? Thank you for doing an AMA! In general, there's too many damn economists! I think there are a ton of interesting questions that we should be tackling with more gusto. I'd like to see us do more on family and children, which is why I am working on a book on that topic, but I'd like to see it from a variety of perspectives, such as psychology. I don't think libertarians have done enough history. There are so many interesting historical episodes that could benefit from a reading through the eyes of Mises or Hayek or other libertarian thinkers, including outside economics. I'd love an army of young libertarian scholars taking on those topics, especially the ones related to race and gender, to show how the standard readings of those events, which tend to support bigger government, actually tend to show that government causes way more problems than it cures.
What is your opinion on the Civil Rights Act of 1964? The CRA did two things. One, it banned government sponsored discrimination such as that associated with Jim Crow (and let's not forget that Jim Crow was the state and that many private firms opposed it). Two, it banned private discrimination on the basis of race - the counter at Woolworth's.
The first was a HUGE gain for liberty and I obviously support it strongly. One element of libertarianism/classical liberalism is that IF there's a state, it must treat all citizens the same. Equality before the law is a libertarian principle.
The second was a loss for liberty - the loss of freedom of association and that's a bad thing. On net, the gains of the CRA, in my view, strongly outweighed the losses, and in the imperfect world of politics, it was the best anyone was going to get in 1964. Had I been in Congress as a libertarian, I would have voted for it.
One additional note though: with the advent of fast communications technology and the net, the belief that markets and civil society could not sufficiently punish private discriminators seems farfetched. Can you imagine what people would do on Yelp (or here!) if a restaurant put up a "no blacks served" sign? Or a "no gays" one? It's harder for bigots to hide these days, esp. when the tolerance level for those behaviors is so low.
So yes, the CRA wasn't perfect from a libertarian perspective, but it was a big improvement.
What is one thing you believe that most libertarians do not? Or: What is one thing you disagree with most libertarians about? I love this question. I think the answer to both is the same: I am much more sympathetic to feminism, even of the non-libertarian sort, than are most libertarians. The result is a lot of arguments. I think that libertarians have done to feminism exactly what libertarians accuse others of doing to us: taking the most extreme and silly people as representative of what's typical. My experience of 25 years in academia with lots of left feminists is that the libertarian caricature of them is simply unrecognizable. Yes, that caricature exists, but those are the Alex Jones's of feminism - they are not the typical one, even among academics.
What's the state of libertarianism in other parts of the world? Not only in Europe, but perhaps in Asia, Africa and Latin America? How's it'views in Austria? :-) What do you think happens in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Cayman Islands, is libertarian philosophy used to justify part of the status quo there? Are you in contact with any intellectual from there? Where is libertarianism, as an offical party, is stronger and where has it won elections, finally if so, how did it go? TKS! I have never been more optimistic about the growth and influence of libertarian ideas globally than I am now. In particulary, the growth of STudents for Liberty across the world as well as the ways in which technology has made ideas and resources available, along with the development of dozens of think tanks, are good evidence that these ideas are developing a presence and being heard globally.
What's the best financial advice you have for young people? Let's start with an easy one: Pay your bills on time. Seriously. If you establish a reputation for being someone who lives up to their promises and understands the importance of financial trust, other things will follow from there. This is so important for things like your credit rating and the like. If you're in college or just out, this should be your priority. After that? Just remember that you will have a future and the future you will be happy that the present you did not put him/her in too much debt and that you saved something for a rainy day or two. But the easy best advice: pay your bills on time all the time.
So your saying paying 60,000 a year for SLU isn't a great investment. It isn't for everyone! Depends on your net cost, your ability to handle debt, what you want to do with your life etc. For some people it is a great investment, not for others. I'm not someone who thinks everyone should go to college.
If state intervention is generally counterproductive, why do the Nordic/Western European countries rank higher than the United States does in quality of life, education, environment, etc.? Because many of those countries actually have freer economies than the US, which now ranks 17th free across the globe, as the commenter below notes.
If you could debate any intellectual and/or public figure who would it be? Rachel Maddow. I want to wipe that smug smile right off her face. :)
I would love to see that! Mostly because you're the one who's coming off smug right now. Nicely played.
On election day, there are a lot of libertarians making a point of the fact they don't vote. Do you vote? How do libertarians expect to change government if you don't vote? I do not vote. I don't think it's immoral/wrong to vote. I just think that's largely ineffective.
Social change comes from changing the climate of ideas, like doing an AMA, or teaching economics, or doing a program on House of Cards, or writing a letter to the editor, or dozens of other acts of engaged, concerned citizenship we might choose to engage in. Voting, to me, is just not an effective path to social change.
Is there a better term than "invisible hand" which is often mocked, to describe the invisible hand? Great question. It shouldn't get the bad press it does, as Smith was a genius who people outside economics should be reading and taking way more seriously than they do. I tend to use "spontaneous order" which is usually associated with Hayek, though he got it from the philosopher-chemist Michael Polanyi. The idea is that the order of the market is the product of human action, but not human design. You can talk of "emergent order" as well, as "emergence" in that sense is hot in complexity theory and the sciences.
But I think the best way to do this, especially with lefitsts, is to make the analogies to evolution by natural selection. If people believe that the natural world is orderly but without a designer, then they should be open to the argument that the social world is too. If you think "Intelligent Design" is a joke in biology, then you should think "Intelligent Economic Planning" is the equivalent joke in economics. HEre's an old and short blog post of mine on this issue: Link to
After NYTimes published an article attacking Rand Paul you made comments about how libertarians ought to "call out" people with racist/sexist et al attitudes within the movement; you also personally stated your refusal to cooperate with such persons, even in efforts against the state. The answer to your last question is yes. I have plenty of libertarian friends who believe things I think are wrong, but we still work together productively. That's one of the healthiest signs in our movement - we HAVE disagreements and can work together in spite of them.
I was wondering, do you really believe there should be such red lines in the sand, even if you and the other person agree on a majority of public policy issues? If so, what is your own personal red line? Do you think it's possible for libertarians to cooperate on the issues they agree on whilst criticizing each other on the things they disagree on? If a person or institution continually supports positions that I think are deeply wrong, and especially when I think that position also undermines the good work being done by other libertarians, we should call them out on it. Social pressure and shunning is not coercion. It's freedom of disassociation. And we should use it.
Steve, what do you say to "established" - read Keynesian economists who argue that libertarians are not "evidence" focused or logically consistent? One thing I do is point them to the link below and open a discussion about what we mean by "evidence": Link to It's also important to remember the economics world does not divide into two groups: "libertarians" and "Keynesians." There are all kinds of flavors here and we need to recognize those differences.
What is the best way to try to convince/change the minds of those who are generally inclined toward state intervention to solve problems? Show them the practical consequences of intervention and of markets. This is why we need really good empirical work, especially good history. For example, the more we write and talk about the Great Recession and have a great command of the facts to explain why it was a failure of policy not markets, the more likely we are to push people in our direction. History is very powerful in setting people's narratives and we need counter-narratives. I also think that we need to be very mindful of our rhetoric. We CANNOT say things that allow others to tag us as racists/sexists etc, or that we don't care about the poor. And we need to be unafraid to call out leftists (for example) who make that accusation over policy differences. Objecting to minimum wage laws is NOT racist and people who say it is need to be called out both for their historical ignorance (it's the MW laws that are racist!) and for their refusal to discuss in good faith.
How do you feel about the state helping those who can't help themselves? For example, should the state step in for cases of child/elder abuse? These are IMO some of the hardest issues for libertarians. Let me stay with child abuse. I think first we have to distinguish abuse and neglect. I think with neglect, there are ways that non-state institutions can work with families to improve outcomes. And, importantly, we have to ask "compared to what?" Perhaps the child is in less than optimal circumstances, but will that be improved upon if the state moves them somewhere else?
In general, I think that there are Hayekian reasons to think that parents have the best knowledge and incentives to do what's right for their kids, so the bar for state intervention should always be quite high - and the state should bear the burden of proof.
If we are talking abuse, then different story. If the state has the responsibility for protecting the rights of adults against violence from others, then it has that same right with respect to children and violence form their parents. I am a strong defender of parental rights, but those do not extend to clear cases of abuse (as opposed to mild forms of corporal punishment). But even here, the state should be working with extended family, friends, and organizations like synagogues or churches or the like to find solutions that minimize the impact on kids.
As to how an anarchist society would handle these situations, my honest answer is that I do not know.
Where is the brightline between neglect and abuse? Punishment to some people is much harsher than others. A girl recently died of hypothermia near where I live because staying outside in a barn was used as punishment. THere's not a brightline. We shouldn't expect one either. That's why these issues are so hard.
Do you get along with the Keynsians or do you sit on oppostie sides of the room at the faculty Christmas party? Every single one of my closest friends on the SLU faculty is a leftist.
Consortin' with the enemy, eh? ;) I'm a consorter from way back.
Keynesians are "leftists" like Republicans are "capitalists". In fact even calling Keynesians, who are by definition capitalist, "leftists" is sort of silly. That said, I know this AMA is dead and I don't expect a response but as a left libertarian I just wanted to say that chafed me a little. I meant leftist. Not Keynesian. My friends on the faculty are leftists not Keynesians.
Related to your research on families, what do you think about the advice (usually coming from the right) that one of the most beneficial things the poor can do to improve their lot in life is to get married? There's some truth to that, but it's more complicated than it's been presented as. Married people DO have much better outcomes along almost any measure you care to look at (including their sex lives). But that doesn't mean you should just "get married" regardless of who the other person is and what your particular circumstances are. And as I noted earlier, public policy distorts the incentives to marry in ways that encourages it where it shouldn't and discourages it where people could benefit from marriage. So yeah, marriage is good for people (gays and lesbians too), but that's not "get married no matter what."
Do you worry that a free market is too concerned with the present and not suited to deal with long term problems, like climate change? Hypothetically, if we could see that the free market was bringing about a catastrophe, should we intervene with our best idea of what suitable regulation would be? Do you think a system in which the participants are almost exclusively concerned with what will happen in the next 2, 4, or 6 years is MORE capable of thinking in the long term than the owners of capital who can pass its value to others over an indefinite time frame? I think that markets are far better able to think about the long run than is the political system, assuming that the right institutional structure is in place in the market.
How would we even know the market was bringing about a catastrophe? What's the sort of scenario you have in mind? (It probably shouldn't be climate change because that has to account for gov't)
Do you deny the positive effects of the 2009 American Recovery Act (ARA) on the U.S. economy? China has used both a market-based and state-based approach in concert to create a strong economy. Does this indicate to you that the state should have some economic control? Yes I deny them. Where was the "market-based" approach? And where is the strong economy? Millions have left the labor force. Unemployment remains notably higher than was predicted if we passed the ARRA. Private investment is still very low. The recovery in employment is the slowest since the Great Depression.
So, does this theory reject the phenomenon that markets will overheat, or ever need to be stimulated? Markets are not physical systems, they are human ones. Using metaphors from physical systems gets us off on the wrong track.
Are you relating the free-market to House of Cards? How is the online class going to be structured and what will it be about? Also, can you pinpoint an event in history where a free-market system has prevailed? It's about how HoC shows the failures of the political system through the lens of Public Cholce Theory. You will get to see some video lectures by me as well as other videos on line, plus participate in online discussions on Facebook and real-time chats.
Do you watch Parks and Rec? If so, how do you feel about Ron Swanson's portrayal of Libertarianism? I don't. I should. So I can't answer this one. Sorry.
Do you think our lack of growth comes from a deficiency of inflation like the Federal Reserve suggests? Do you think we are experiencing deflation/stagflation that is being papered over by monetary easing/competitive devaluation or do you believe the FED is 'exporting' inflation to EM currencies through carry trades given the inflation rates of the EM markets? We are not suffering from too little inflation. We are suffering from too much regulation, too much uncertainty, too much anti-business rhetoric, and a central bank that won't adhere to the rule of law. (And it's the Fed not the FED - sorry, pet peeve :) ).
Tonight is TV night with my GF. House of Cards or True Detective? Which show should I start tonight? I haven't watched TD, but man do I love House of Cards.
Hey Steve. Should they legalize pot, or what? They should legalize pot... and "what", as well. :)
How do you respond to the accusation that you don't care about poor people when you oppose raising the minimum wage? (This happened to me, recently.) I send them here: Link to
Why free markets are both the most efficient and most resilient systems? Because they are best at discovering and making use of dispersed, contextual, and often inarticulate human knowledge. They are social learning processes with very powerful feedback processes that help us know when we've made mistakes and provide incentives to correct them.
Markets aren't better because people make fewer mistakes in the market than in government (think about all the restaurants that fail). They are better because those failures take place in an institutional structure that provides knowledge and signals for everyone else to correct them in ways that political institutions do not.
What are your thoughts on the arguments that market anarchists like Michael Huemer and Roderick Long put forward? Specifically in regards to markets in law and defense. I consider myself to be a market anarchist (at least most days). While I'm not sure I can provide an answer to how markets and civil society might solve every problem, I have yet to be convinced by an explanation for how the state could. The burden of proof is on the state and it hasn't met it yet, but that doesn't mean we "know" markets/voluntary social cooperation have the answers to the tough questions like those.
I am much more persuaded by arguments for polycentric legal systems than for privatized defense. But here too - does anyone really believe that gov't does a good job defending us, especially when we consider the rent-seeking involved and the ways in which the tools the state adopts to "defend" us quickly oppress us - think the NSA/war on terror.
I"ll take my chances with the unknown over the known evil.
What are you having for dinner? Mediocre Mexican is the plan. That's as good as Mexican gets up here in the hinterlands.
What's your response to more Rothbardian readings of Human Action that take more radical claims about the supremacy of a priorism? I would LOVE to come to Hillsdale. I've talked with folks there about doing so, but we can't seem to find a time that works.
Also, would you mind coming to Hillsdale College sometimes soon to give a lecture if I say pretty please and promise a brownie? I think those Rothbardian readings are mistaken. Here's some thoughts on Mises and methodology that might explain why: Link to
Do you feel the Austrian School was strengthened or discredited internationally as a result of the Great Recession? Only reason I've asked is that I've heard both and you seem to be a more credible source on the issue then some other media sources I could name. Strengthened. Austrians have had more positive attention, and deservedly so, because I do think that Austrian theory provides a very powerful lens with which to understand the boom, bust, and crisis. Link to
Any good books about economy for a high schooler? You can always start with "Economics in One Lesson". Also a new book by Howard Baetjer "Free Our Markets."
Prof. Horwitz, what books (either by Hayek or about him) do you consider the best for a student to start learning about F.A.? Individualism and Economic Order Constitution of Liberty
Favorite rush song/album? "Natural Science" and "Moving Pictures" Link to
How many Bitcoins did you lose in this "Magic the Gathering Online Exchange" silliness? Zero. I own none. I have never owned any.
I've never listened to Rush. What song should I start with? Wow. THat depends. What's your taste in music and how much of a libertarian are you? :)
Are you a feminist? I'd like to think so, but others might disagree.
What are your thoughts on monetary inflation? What do you believe would be a better system than the federal reserve determining how much new money to print? I am an advocate of "free banking." Link to
What's your favorite part of northern ny? Ps. I don't miss the cold. The people.
What do you suggest against the prisoner's dillemma? Find me a real world case where the parties could not communicate and/or solve the problem through the reputational effects of repeated play.
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