Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘California Snubs Free Trade’

Full piece here.

‘Situations like this call for some uniform national rule that only Congress can provide. But Congressional decision could allow California, like Tobago, to bind the world. After all, only Congress can stop the proliferation of otherwise inconsistent state schemes to control carbon emissions. Once the dangers of unilateral action to the national economy are large, it no longer makes sense to analyze California’s regulation under a per se rule or a balancing rule, when it has elements of both.’

Related On This Site:   Big cities, especially New York, tend to over-regulate business, you can hope for efficient corruption: Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

Link From A Reader: ‘Richard Epstein Introduces Chicago’s Best Ideas To Students’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution-‘My Rand Paul Problem’

Full piece here.

‘The renewed attention to Paul exposes the critical tension between hard-line libertarians and classical liberals. The latter are comfortable with a larger government than hard-core libertarians because they take into account three issues that libertarians like Paul tend to downplay: (1) coordination problems; (2) uncertainty; (3) and matters of institutional design.’

Epstein has a wealth of practical knowledge and theory on law and economics, especially from the libertarian point-of-view:

‘It is important to understand the differences in views between the strong libertarian and classical liberal position. Serious hard-line libertarian thinkers include Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. Rothbard believes nonaggression is the sole requirement of a just social order. For Hess, “libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit.” There are large kernels of truth in both propositions. It is quite impossible to see how any social order could be maintained if there were no limitations against the use, or threatened use, of force to enslave or butcher other people, which Hess’s proposition of absolute self-ownership strongly counteracts.’

He finishes with:

‘As Tanenhaus and Rutenberg note, Rand Paul knows that he must move to the center to become a credible political candidate. If he embraces a classical liberal framework, he can meet the objections of his critics without abandoning the best elements of his own libertarian position. ‘

Food for thought.

From the progressive and non-classically liberal-Left, I’m guessing Rand Paul criticism could move from the typical loony-libertarian stuff, to that of a middle-ground-seeking sellout/opportunist if he’s seen as more successful, and therefore more of a threat.  Typical battle-space preparation would likely ensue.

The Right has problems with Paul’s generally anti-war sympathies, and libertarian pro-individual freedom positions more broadly.  Pro-pot, pro-porn, and pro-legalized prostitution talk amongst libertarian circles won’t exactly bring-out the social and religiously conservative vote.  Also, it’s probably worthy of note that nationalism and patriotism have been taking big hits on longer trend lines, or at least in the current mood, it will be harder to justify military spending with a foreseeably unresponsive and bloated Federal Government (technology and globalization, Moore’s Law and the rise of Big Data are all thrown into the mix as well).

Americans are probably not going to be terribly happy with their politics for awhile, and it could be just as hard to justify high-military spending politically from the Right as it is the disastrous Obamacare and more government waste from the progressive Left.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

From Malcolm Greenhill: ‘I believe my good friend, Jeff Hummel, has made the best attempt so far at solving the public goods problem of national defense:’

http://mises.org/document/274/National-Goods-versus-Public-Goods-Defense-Disarmament-and-Free-Riders

Related On This Site: Anarcho-capitalism:  Pro-market, anti-state, anti-war…paleo-libertarian: Link To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader…Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeTwo Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

New liberty away from Hobbes…rule-following punishers?:Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’

I’ve got enough friends, thanks, and I’ll read about behavioral economics on my own: Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’Sheldon Richman At Reason: ‘Classical Liberalism Vs. Modern Liberalism’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Obamacare’s Death Spiral’

Full piece here.

Libertarian law/economics thinker Richard Epstein has been prescient on the law’s challenges and likely outcomes.

He finishes with:

‘Politically, it seems clear that the American public will not tolerate yet another round of healthcare reforms that cannot shoot straight. The real question is whether the Democrats in Congress will come to their senses and realize that Obamacare is DOA. It is possible to think of all sorts of mid-level fixes that might moderate the damages, but none has a prayer of success so long as this president remains in office. Deregulation and tax cuts are dirty words to Obama, but they are the only source of relief to a nation. The ACA has already done enough harm. The time to start over is now.’

Hopefully some changes can be made before the employer mandate, already delayed, kicks in.

How our politics looks usually depends on where you stand, but it’s been clear the moral arguments for collective action, health-care-as-a-right, and redistribution of wealth have driving this legislation from the get-go.  Some folks are as close as they ever have been towards realizing some sort of workable nationalized and/or socialized medicine.

The fact that they’ve designed and/or supported such an impossible, disruptive, and ambitious pieces of legislation won’t ever awaken some true-believers.

The rest of us have to figure out what to do, and fast.

Epstein on Obamacare’s Moral Blindness, the Obamacare Quagmire, and Watching Obamacare Unravel.

Still Looking For Alternatives-Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Obamacare vs. Arithmetic’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Related On This Site:    From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’Peter Suderman At The WSJ: ‘Obamacare And The Medicaid Mess’From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Train Wreck’

Full piece here.

Click through for analysis on specific provisions of the ACA:

‘Republicans are howling to repeal and defund Obamacare. As a policy matter, that is surely the correct move. But as a political matter, the prompt repeal of Obamacare is just not going to happen over the uncompromising opposition of a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate. So, if the first-best solution is not possible, more modest fixes for Obamacare are in order until Republicans start winning elections’

Epstein looks pretty prescient on what the law’s specific challenges are and how it wasn’t likely to succeed, certainly not by now, but perhaps never in some of its aims:

‘As I have noted before, there is only one type of reform that can make progress in meeting the three goals of a sensible health care system: cost reduction, quality improvements, and public access. That reform requires massive deregulation of the many market impediments that are already in place. Lower the costs, drop the excessive mandates, and thin out administrative costs, and people will flock back to the system voluntarily’

Sounds reasonable to this blog.  There are solutions out there to rising health-care costs.

These aren’t just computer glitches, but rather deep and serious challenges that likely won’t be fixed anytime soon.  I’m reminded of Solyndra, which showed an almost childlike understanding of the private sector and childlike faith in political coalitions guided by rather Left-Of-Center idealism to throw taxpayer money at the industries which were desired to succeed.  Long on speeches, short on delivery.  Lots of politics.

Tech start-ups which actually do succeed (and most don’t) throw a lot of talent and energy balls-to-the-wall to try and solve specific problems to make some process that people engage in now simpler and easier.   These problems can be very complex and challenge the best minds who are under intense deadlines to use their capital well.  There are no guarantees in this high-risk, high-reward activity which can be the work of a lifetime amidst intense competition.  The path is littered with near misses and spectacular failures.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

So, how much politics was involved here?  Avik Roy makes the case a little more starkly:

‘The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.’

You won’t just be paying more for your own insurance, you will be forced to buy other people’s insurance, induced into then kept by force in a system of political wrangling where politicians and certain favored interests and coalitions control the money supply much more than they do now.

Related On This Site:  Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Watching Obamacare Unravel’

From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’

Henry Miller And Jeff Stier At Hoover: ‘Activism Vs. The Rule Of Law’

Full piece here.

Gotta keep the base happy, and GMO’s are the new cause celebre amongst activists.  Click through for more:

The government’s failure to enforce the law undermines the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; allows activists’ illegal activities to misinform consumers; makes safe and wholesome foods unsellable; and sends the message that if you cannot persuade policymakers through the democratic process, the government will look the other way as you commit crimes to achieve your political agenda.

What ever happened to the rule of law?’

I keep hearing about moderation and non-partisanship, but I keep seeing the mainstreaming of ideologues and activists pursuing their narrow aims.

It’s not really about science, or truth, much of the time, as it is about politics and activism.

Related On This SiteGreg Lukianoff At FIRE.Org: ‘Emily Bazelon And The Danger Of Bringing “Anti-Bullying” Laws To Campus’

From Volokh: ‘Conservatives, Libertarians, and Civil Rights History’Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight…Thomas Sowell archives here.

Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Watching Obamacare Unravel’

Full piece here.

The exchanges are a bureaucratic mess, and will not likely be functioning soon:

‘At this point, the total administrative burden on the federal government has massively increased. Yet neither the federal government nor the states have the human or financial resources to discharge these tasks in a timely fashion, making it highly unlikely that these exchanges will be up and running by January 1, 2014. To achieve that goal, the various private participants on the exchanges must design and post their policies by October 1, 2013.’

He finishes with:

‘As I have noted before, there is only one type of reform that can make progress in meeting the three goals of a sensible health care system: cost reduction, quality improvements, and public access. That reform requires massive deregulation of the many market impediments that are already in place. Lower the costs, drop the excessive mandates, and thin out administrative costs, and people will flock back to the system voluntarily.’

We’ll see what happens.  I still visit Obamacarefacts.com to see what they’re telling me I should believe.  They’re getting desperate.

More broadly, If you haven’t noticed, many progressives have a problem with that ‘voluntary’ part. Individuals usually end up as pawns on a chessboard of ideals. I suspect many progressives are so caught up in the oppressor/victim mentality, are so busy responding to the endless injustices of life (someone else is always to blame), and are so concentrated on deriving rights from the top-down and from abstract principles, that they completely ignore human nature.  Solidarity!

Perhaps as with Obamacare’s exchanges, they haven’t thought that far ahead. The trick was to ram it through and worry about the details later. It’s now getting to be later.

In my experience, such idealism will always fail to recognize just how such regulations, taxes, and laws stagnate the economy and the reasons that people work and pursue their aims. The private sector will have the life sucked out of it, and everyday people will have to run through mazes of red tape. This twists the incentives beyond recognition. The earthly kingdom set-up on the road to such ideals consistently fails, calcifying either into an unresponsive, bureaucratic mess that can’t respond to new challenges, or worse, the same mess controlled by worse and worse people and desires, until it really starts getting nasty.

The ideals, of course, are just that, even if they’ve settled into mainstream thinking in the U.S. Political parties who work in the trenches to protect me from such idealism are welcome. What’s important usually happens far away from politics.

My two cents.

Related On This SiteFrom The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’From AEI: ‘Study: ‘Obama Healthcare Reform Raising Costs, Forcing Workers Out Of Existing Plans’

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Link From A Reader: ‘Richard Epstein Introduces Chicago’s Best Ideas To Students’

Fouad Ajami At The Hoover Institution: ‘Syria’s War Hits the House of Assad’

Full piece here.

‘It has to come to this in Damascus: Wednesday’s rebel bomb attack on a meeting of Bashar al-Assad’s top lieutenants, killing at least three. The war has come to the House of Assad itself. Syria’s dictatorship had rested on a dynasty, and the terror had to be visited on the dynasty. There could be no airtight security for the rulers.’

The Economist has more here.  This could be a lengthy process, and a primary concern is the potential this situation has to devolve into a protracted Civil War.  Lebanon sits next door.

Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Is Manaf Tlass’s Defection a Sign That Assad’s Regime Is Cracking?”  Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. MillFrom Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

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Russell Berman At Defining Ideas: ‘Achtung, It’s Syria!’

Full piece here

Germany has its own interests:

What foreign policy course will Berlin steer as it maneuvers between Moscow and Washington?

and with regard to Syria:

‘In one sense, the Syrian crisis is absolutely clear: a dictatorship waging war against its people. At the same time, however, it is complex, involving a Russian return to Cold War habits, a competition between Turkey and Iran, and the dysfunctionality of the United Nations, all in the context of the United States’ general retreat from the world stage. In this fluid situation, Germany’s response provides an important indicator not only of its specific national interests but also of the likely future shape of European Union foreign policy:  that is, nominally in support of democratic values but unlikely to go very far to defend them.’

Related On This Site: …From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

As much as there is American Leftist political support against colonialism, has Obama just invested us in a human rights based, neo-neo colonialism?: A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

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Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: “No ‘Sachs Appeal'”

Full piece here.

Epstein strives to clear the air from Jeffrey Sachs mischaracterizations of libertarianism, as the libertarian/liberal debate continues (libertarians may be enjoying a high watermark during such a liberal administration as they push back against modern liberalism on the shared turf of liberty):

‘Since Sachs does not offer a systematic account of what it is to be a libertarian, I shall try here to fill that gap in order to explain why his views are so deeply flawed.’

and to do so he makes a distinction:

‘I refer here to the continuous tension between the hard-line anarcho-capitalists and the adherents to classical liberalism. In the former camp is my friend and sparring partner Walter Block,  perhaps the closest living successor to Murray Rothbard, who took the monochromatic position that the sole duties that individuals have to each other are to refrain from the use or threat of force and to honor their promises. The hard-line libertarian treats these duties as the entire sum of the obligations that one person owes to another.’

Modern American liberalism seems to have so desperately lost sight of old-school liberalism as it wanders down the garden path (following the logic of relativism, often pursuing diversity as the highest good…which is to say the threats that excessive individualism and excessive egalitarianism pose to individual liberty and our institutions):

‘But the classical liberal makes two conscious adaptations from hard-line libertarian thought that render it largely immune to the criticisms that Sachs and others lodge against it. The first deals with moral obligations. The second deals with issues of monopoly, taxation, eminent domain, and regulation.’

Modern liberalism does not have a monopoly on moral concern for others nor compassion (as much as some moral psychologists who dip into politics would like it to be so):

‘Nothing whatsoever in anarcho-libertarian theory makes it illegal for persons to show compassion or render assistance to those who are in need. The only sense in which they take a back seat (to the control of force and fraud) is that these imperfect obligations rely on a more diffuse set of sanctions to keep them in place.’

And as to monopoly, taxation, eminent domain and regulation, you’ll have to click through, as it’s likely worth your time.  Epstein finishes with:

‘These two great systems of thought should be acquitted of all the charges that Jeffrey Sachs makes against them. We have here one of those sad situations in which Sachs’s weak and misconceived attack says more about the intellectual poverty of the author than of the systems that he hopes to undermine with a few deft strokes.’

Related On This Site:  Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

The anarchic tradition:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”… Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeLink To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader.

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

More liberal mischaracterizations of libertarianism:  From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’From The Boston Review: ‘Libertarianism And Liberty: How Not To Argue For Limited Government And Lower Taxes’

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’

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Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’

Full piece here.

Epstein follows up on his 60 minutes interview:

“The clarion call for more income equality puts short-term transfers ahead of long-term growth. Notwithstanding the temper of the times, that siren call should be stoutly resisted. Enterprise and growth, not envy and stagnation, are the keys to economic revival”

As posted previously, a reader sent in two quotes from Henry Hazlitt, libertarian economist:

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.

and

“The first requisite of a sound monetary system is that it put the least possible power over the quantity or quality of money in the hands of the politicians.”

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