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Bloggingheads
12-16-2007, 10:00 PM

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 10:26 PM
Can't wait to see what this one is... sounds promising from the title though.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 11:41 PM
LOL, as soon as I saw the title I had a feeling it would have a libertarian in it.

Sort of like if you said "gays, God, and guns" you know we'd be talking about the base of the Republican Party. Apparently the overlap between libertarians and Republicans is the "guns" part of the equation.

garbagecowboy
12-17-2007, 12:03 AM
LOL, as soon as I saw the title I had a feeling it would have a libertarian in it.

Sort of like if you said "gays, God, and guns" you know we'd be talking about the base of the Republican Party. Apparently the overlap between libertarians and Republicans is the "guns" part of the equation.

That's pretty much how I feel as a libertarian... until the Repubican Party decides to actually be fiscally responsible, then there would be two areas of overlap.

garbagecowboy
12-17-2007, 12:41 AM
I would accept Kleiman's grand bargain (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=00:57:14&out=01:08:05) but it makes too much sense to ever happen.

Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want-- the anti-gun people having to give up on banning guns, and the pro-gun people giving up in the red states their right to buy guns without any kind of registration.

With that said, both sides should rationally want to give in on these things even though they never would. Legal gun owners shouldn't fear registration and tracing of guns-- they should in theory have nothing to hide, and the guarantee of shall issue would make the idea that this was just a slippery slope towards an outright ban moot. For the anti-gun people, the fact that every gun murder, the vast majority of which are now committed by, as Kleiman describes, young kids with illegal guns (mostly over drugs) would now be much easier to solve would actually be a gun law that might make a difference, as opposed to just making it harder for people who don't break the law to follow the rules.

However, I just can't see Obama supporting shall issue in a piece of national legislation (shall issue in New York! Chicago! DC! The horror! Think of all the gun packing nuts! (forget that these people have never been convicted of a crime or thrown in a nuthouse)) and I can't see the NRA signing off on gun registration in Texas. His argument for doing the gun tracing via gun-shops is quite interesting, as is his suggestion that they check people out. Gun shop owners (at least the several I've met, maybe not at Wal-Mar, though) do actually check you out and make sure you know what you're doing before they sell you (or in my case) rent you a handgun. Formalizing this process to include keeping records of ballistics and transfers is an intriguing idea, and if it could be politically viable (which I'm not sure I quite believe) this would be a great compromise.

I could get my gun in New York (and carry it around in my backpack!) it would take a huge bite out of the disturbing percentage of murders that do not end in a conviction, and I bet it would take a huge bite out of the rates of homicides committed in our inner cities (since I bet that the increased rate of conviction would actually have a strong deterrent effect).

I thought that Kleiman's argument that the gun control movement is the liberal version of the drug war was very insightful, though. And I'm not sure that these liberal culture warriors are ready to give up their jihad, just yet, just like the conservatives are not going to cave in on the war on drugs.

Wonderment
12-17-2007, 01:07 AM
Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want-- the anti-gun people having to give up on banning guns, and the pro-gun people giving up in the red states their right to buy guns without any kind of registration.


I think he was merely expressing his view that Obama may not be as rigid and polarizing as Clinton or the pack of right-wing extremists running as Republicans (Ron Paul excepted).

I'm pessimistic about any seriously sensible gun or drug reform, but I did enjoy listening to Kleiman. I'm very pro gun control, but I think the Kleiman compromise -- given the Red-Blue state polarization -- is well worth considering.

I'm also usually very pro-legalization of all drugs, but Kleiman made an interesting case for maintaining drug prohibition while decriminalizing consumption (a model widely used in Europe).

The big news this week on social policy was New Jersey's abolition of the death penalty. I hope someone on B-Heads will talk about that soon, and do some speculating about the Supreme Court's upcoming consideration of the lethal injection protocols.

piscivorous
12-17-2007, 02:30 AM
Can anyone clarify what law Kleiman mentions here http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=00:13:25&out=00:13:30

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 02:37 AM
I just want to say, Wow! Mark Kleiman is great!

I've been aware of his blog for a long time, but never paid any attention to it. That will change. He was fantastic in this diavlog.

(And Megan was, too.)

I hope Mark is back often. With Megan, with other people. Whatever.

Just: More Mark!


Question: Was I dreaming or did Megan really say she was 6' 2"? Gosh, that reminds me of one of my best friends, and girlfriends, of all time. When I was in the 11th grade, journalism class. Mary was her name. And she was quite tall. And beautiful.

But very, very funny. I just loved her sense of humor. Her whole family was a riot. Her brother was a senior that year, and he was a laugh riot as well.

Mary and I went to see Pee Wee's Big Adventure for our first date....

Ah.... memories... :D

If you want to laugh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41tMlDiuF7U


.

CrowsMakeTools
12-17-2007, 02:55 AM
The Pareto Priniciple is the term coined by the management Guru Joseph Juran, also known as the law of factor sparcity or the 80/20 rule. See the Wikipedia entry for a reasonably good introduction:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

According to Kleiman, 50% of the alcohol consumed in the country is consumed by people who have four or more drinks per day, i.e., are problem drinkers. Hence the industry advertisements about "Drink Responsibly" simply are not serious admonitions. The optimal drinking pattern, from the point of view of the industry, is to consume as much alcohol as possible up to the point of death or incarceration (after which one can no longer participate in the market).

Ottorino
12-17-2007, 02:55 AM
who tires of these happiness debates being conducted in terms that many reflective people would consider rooted in ~pseudo-happiness~? There are many and varied traditions of thought according to all of which if you're measuring happiness by positional gains or crude materialistic pleasures, you're quite missing the point. Lao Tzu, Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Rumi, Thoreau, Kierkegaard...~Ayn Rand~ for chrissake - do such people's insights on human well-being count for nothing? If we're going to seriously measure genuine happiness, we need a more sophisticated operational definition - one ~based~ on hard-to-quantify-or-report-or-even-verbalize matters like authenticity, creativity, relationship dynamics, following one's life calling, cultivating virtue and talent, personal growth, coping effectively with loss and tragedy. That someone beat out his colleagues for a promotion, and feels good about it, tells us, as far as it goes, almost ~nothing~ about that person's actual happiness, deeply understood. Those aren't simply hedons to add to the plus side of the ledger in some social analysis. Anyway they shouldn't be.

testostyrannical
12-17-2007, 03:04 AM
My sentiments exactly. (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:03:50&out=01:04:02)

piscivorous
12-17-2007, 03:16 AM
thanks for the llink

Incompetence Dodger
12-17-2007, 04:44 AM
Maybe I'm wrong on this but I cannot recall any sort of grand bargain like this in the history of American politics, where two huge interest groups would give up massive part of what they want--

Well the first thing that leaps to mind is the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, etc. That ultimately didn't work out too hot, though....

On another topic, and I know this is a backhanded compliment at best, but I have to commend Megan for a vastly better performance in this diavlog than in the one with John Bowe (shudder).

Kleiman notes on his blog that his next diavlog will probably be with Glenn Loury, with the agenda being "crime and drugs, especially as they interact with race". As a general matter, I don't particularly care for lib-lib diavlogs, but I'm really really looking forward to that one.

robert61
12-17-2007, 09:16 AM
Mark Kleiman's notion that there is no intrinsic benefit to being more wealthy is bananas. His point could be argued at the individual level after a certain level of wealth, but it is certainly not true at the collective level.

Greater wealth is a tide that lifts all boats, especially those of the relatively poor. Richer societies are better places to be poor. Where would you rather be just scraping by: Los Angeles or Minsk? Richer societies are also better places to be middle class or rich, because of the greater utility their citizens derive from their markets.

Here's an example: yesterday I got a lift home from a friend who just came back to Stockholm after serving at the UN in New York for four years. He was driving a Swedish car that he bought for about $45,000 in America. Here in Sweden it would have cost him almost $80,000. Part of the difference is simply lower sales tax, but most of it is because there's a huge market for fancy Volvos in the richer US, while only a tiny percentage of Swedes can afford them. That's a collective benefit of greater wealth, albeit one that affects the relatively wealthy. On a more down to earth level, I'm wearing a pair of snug and cozy loafers that I picked up at Target in San Diego for $30 last winter; I challenge you to find a comparable pair at that price here. And I'm just talking about the difference between wealthy Sweden and wealthier America, never mind the difference between countries with a serious wealth gap.

For a more analytical take on the issue, see "Income inequality isn't as bad as you think" from Will Wilkinson's and John Nye's diavlogue (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7122).

Sure, wealth isn't everything, but give it its due. Wealth can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you opportunity - to live more comfortably, to beat deadly illness, to improve your lot in life. Happiness research strikes me as being starry-eyed socialism's rhetorical weapon du jour.

bjkeefe
12-17-2007, 10:11 AM
I would note that except for the nebulous worry that Mark expressed about Anheuser-Busch's marketing prowess, he had absolutely nothing bad to say about the dangers of marijuana. So can we please legalize it already?

He touched on the idea that making something legal (easily available) tends to increase the consumption, but there's another aspect that he didn't mention. If you have to go to some effort to acquire your drug of choice, you tend to buy more of it at one time. This, in turn, tends to promote consuming more while you have it. On the other hand, if you always know you can get more, maybe you don't binge as much. For example, if I knew I could buy one joint or gram at a time, rather than buying by the ounce, I suspect my consumption of pot would have been less, averaged over long time periods. That was certainly the case back in my college days, when everybody knew ten people who sold.

For the record, I don't smoke pot anymore, partly because of the hassle involved in acquiring it now that I'm no longer surrounded by casual users, and partly because I know that if I have a big bag around, I tend to smoke too much. Still, I miss it, and I wish I could buy small amounts as easily as I can a six-pack of beer.

I acknowledge that my thinking on this is not based on any studies, but I think there is something to it, using the Megan model of thinking only about how things affect me and my friends. And if she can get onto BH.tv regularly, and get paid to blog, using this technique, then I demand the same consideration for my speculations.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-17-2007, 11:06 AM
This was an immense improvement over Megan's last diavlog. Really interesting and well done.

On the subject of grand bargains, there's an old story (from the era of train travel), where a man in the dining car orders tutti frutti ice cream. The waiter tells him that they have just run out of tutti frutti -- would he like something else on the menu? The man throws a fit which eventually subsides into sullen silence. The waiter actually sends a runner at the next stop to buy some tutti frutti for the man. The waiter brings the man a bowl of tutti frutti with an air of triumph. The man stares at the bowl for a bit, clearly nonplussed. Eventually, he sweeps the bowl off the table and says angrily, "I'd rather have my grievance!"

There seems to be a social version of this, where politicians and interest groups would rather have the grievance, even if most voters could be happy with a grand bargain. The politicians and interest groups represent their constituencies up to a point, but because their interest in the existence of the conflict exceeds that of the voters, they're happy to play up the identity politics-angle of the debate that the diavloggers mention: unfeeling, gun-toting hicks vs. bleeding-heart, latte-sipping, nanny-staters.

I thought the drug discussion was fascinating: the idea of lowering the social costs of prohibition through more intelligent, less mindlessly punitive enforcement, rather than legalizing drugs sounded like a good one.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-17-2007, 11:24 AM
I'm sympathetic to your point about more objectivist notions of happiness. But first, I think it's dangerous to separate these objectivist notions too far from people's actual sense of well-being -- too easy for the Great Leader to tell us all that our happiness REALLY consists in serving him -- or for the Catholic Church to tell me that my desires are "objectively disordered." Here's an old joke on the subject:
Mother: Come the revolution, we'll all eat strawberries and cream!
Child: But I don't LIKE strawberries and cream.
Mother: Come the revolution, you WILL like strawberries and cream!
One's subjective sense of happiness may not be what happiness consists in, but it is still essential evidence about how happy people actually are.
That said, one of the difficulties is that people are not in a very good position to judge how happy other people really are, so their sense of how happy they themselves are compared to others is not very reliable.

And second, Aristotle and others who would propose a more objectivist conception of happiness would not be the ones to argue that more and more material goods always make people happier. Those with a subjectivist theory of happiness would be more likely to support such a position. Therefore, the studies in question are actually backing up the more Aristotelian view that beyond a certain sufficiency of material goods, people aren't made happier by more -- the evidence that people still pursue more and more is undercut by these studies. So if you look at the dialectical context, the subjectivity of these studies is not really problematic.

bjkeefe
12-17-2007, 12:56 PM
BN:

Good answer, not that I expected anything less from you on this.

I agree with your larger point: there's no sense in telling the average person what should make him or her happier. If that isn't liberalism run amok, I don't know what it.

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 01:17 PM
Great diavlog, and Megan did an excellent conversation with a real scientist.

Perhaps I misunderstand something; but it sounds to me like the responsibility devolves to the gun shop owner for bg checks. I see problems with this:

1) Unlike government agencies, gunshop owners may have financial incentives to lose records or engage in under-the-table trade with criminal elements. I suppose agencies can always be bribed, but an agency has more checks and opportunities to be caught than the proprietor of a storefront, and government employees (with guaranteed income, benefits and retirement) have fewer financial pressures on them than does an independent businessman. The government clerk collects her pay even if she has zero customers to serve; the shop owner is under relentless pressure to make sales or face bankruptcy. Who is more likely to crumble?

2) I don't get how we track down the last legal owner of a gun if the government doesn't have the records of legal gun transactions. Are we supposed to subpoena the gunshop for the records? How are we supposed to know which gunshop to subpoena? Must they submit a list of the guns whose records they "control"? What happens if they go out of business? What happens if their records are accidentally lost in a flood or fire? What happens if the bg check is off a fake or stolen id, do we prosecute the shop owner for the murder we are trying to solve? That seems unlikely. Not to mention the myriad details of what we are supposed to do about stolen guns, inherited guns, loaned guns, etc.
I am pretty leery about turning over critical record keeping functions to tens of thousands of independent mom-and-pop businesses with a significant incentive to cut costs and cut corners.

I certainly support the idea of ballistic signature keeping, closing the personal sale loophole, bg checks, Megan-style gun-operator licensing, etc. I have no problem with people owning guns for personal protection (I do) and I have no problem with the government knowing about every transaction on my gun or anybody else's, I think they should even record ammunition sales, and I'd support ammunition signatures as well (a ballistic signature isn't good enough if the bullet fragments; but it is possible to create unique chemical signatures in the lead that would allow us to identify from even the tiniest bullet fragment the specific box of ammunition sold, who sold it and who bought it.)

I am not a libertarian by any means; I believe in the welfare state. I am a Democrat. But this is one issue where I disagree with many of my fellow Dems. Citizens have a right to own a gun, and not just rifles for hunting (which I abhor anyway), they have a right to own a gun that protects them from predatory humans, and that means a gun designed to kill people. But that doesn't mean they have a right to own a gun anonymously.

patrick
12-17-2007, 02:08 PM
Once again, Ms. McArdle misses the point. When discussing the issue of parental notification, Megan makes the foolish assumption that girls who don't want their parents to be notified of an abortion procedure do so because they don't want to reveal that they're having sex, not the fact that they're 1) pregnant, and 2) getting an abortion! Did it ever cross her mind that a pregnant teenager might not want to be put under the duress of parental compulsion to have a child, and that her individual reproductive rights are not the legal domain of her parents? Probably not, considering Megan's own mom is a pro-choice advocate, "or whatever." Again, this is a case (just as with the slavery diavlog) where Megan cannot relate with or even put herself in the shoes of somebody unlike herself.

I'd venture that the ubiquity and obviousness of pre-marital sex at 15-17 is NOT the main issue for a young woman in that situation, and that in many cases, parents are already aware (if disapproving) of this behavior. Its the pregnancy/abortion that's the issue. A 16 year old should not be put in the position whereby the private excercise of her individual reproductive rights is first vetted through her father or mother. Maybe Megan would understand this if she had had intolerant, controlling parents who didn't regard her body's reproductive system as exclusively her domain.

I believe that parental notification laws are formalized paternalisms which seek to legalize a father's control over his daughter's sexuality and fertility. Proponents of such laws seek, by proxy, to deny abortion to young women, in the form of familial shame, admonishment, and punishment.

These absurd laws reward bad parenting with big-brother oversight. If parents are doing their job well, a pregnant daughter would seek out their advise and concil without trepidation. But if they're not, and she makes her own legal choice, they should not be aided in deterring her by making the state an agent of their bad parenting.

If it were just a matter of caring parents simply wanting to know about the medical welfare of their child, such laws would mandate parental notification of maternity of (even paternity) and childbirth by a minor. Because this issue cuts both ways, a young woman who wishes to conceal a pregnancy from her parents may do so to prevent being compelled by her parents to get an abortion. Should that women give birth in the hospital (a major procedure as well), there is no "parental notification." A woman who changes her mind just prior to an abortion procedure should not then have to defend that choice against a parent who's been notified and wants her to carry though with it.

Forcing a young woman to seek the (tedious and time-consuming to the point of health-threatening) protection of the courts to make her own reproductive choices is inhumane and unacceptable. Megan's incapacity for perspective outside of her own is appalling. This is just the latest example.

bmichell
12-17-2007, 02:53 PM
Excellent diavlog. Who would have thought anything fresh could be said about drug or gun policy?

Viewers who are interested in pursuing the topic of happiness might want to look at the evenhanded and thorough review of the topic in The Psychology of Happiness, by the distinguished English social psychologist Michael Argyle (2nd edition, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415226651). Not to forget, of course, the locus classicus, Aristotle's Ethics.

breadcrust
12-17-2007, 03:28 PM
In his statements on how different classes are affected by drug prohibition, Kleiman asserts that it's probable that the lower class is worse off for it: http://www.brainwaveweb.com/diavlogs/7422?in=00:43:39&out=44:07 If he considers this truth important in the decision as to whether drugs should be legalized, then why doesn't he mention the actual size of the lower class? It's HUGE, because it's not contained by our borders; It's the policy of the US government to stop the importation of meth, coke, and heroin from much poorer places like Mexico, South America, and Afghanistan, but it's the policy of a nation of wealthy drug users to import it en masse. So these countries suffer all the horrors of giant black markets; their crops are destroyed by our poisons, their governments at all levels are even more corrupt than they need be (being bought off by our drug money), and terrorists like the warlords of Afghanistan stay rich, rich, rich because their product is made much more valuable through our lunatic policies. Oddly, the December, 13 issue of Rolling Stone (upon the cover of which Led Zeppelin appears as (from left to right): founding father, pot dealer, techie) has a giant article/history on our stupid drug war.

Malthus
12-17-2007, 03:31 PM
I cannot help but suspect that history will laugh at the bulldog tenacity with which people like Megan McArdle cling to the Pangloss-like utopian doctrine of the Market Society (Even as she herself cops to the blindingly obvious observation that "Bubbles Happen" without asking "But why?")

Markets are physical institutional systems. Any attempt to intellectually equate the with some kind of Platonic absolute will ultimately lead to thinking that is shaky, flakey half-fried Ayn Rand. In short, the present age. I honestly wonder how many more American generations will be so shaped by Rand's Nietzschean naivety.

Until America puts Tom Friedman (and McArdle) back on the shelf and brushes up on some basic history, starting with Plutarch, we are destined to continue to numbly tell ourselves that unencumbered market forces are the central pillar of human civilization- history, philosophy, empirical evidence, international experience and common sense to the contrary.

Civilization is bigger than market forces can either conceive of or manage.

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 03:59 PM
(I am responding to Patrick, if you are a reader that is foolishly using the linear version of this crappy vBulletin interface). Patrick, I get the impression that Megan thinks like I do, but I will speak for myself. Your premise is wrong in the extreme; what makes you think a 15 year old girl's reproductive system is her property to do with as she pleases?

That is not true at six, and it is not true at 15, and not true at 17. She doesn't legally have and does not deserve to have this control at this time of her life; she isn't mature enough to make such decisions. That is not just my opinion, that is the physiological facts of life, her brain is undergoing a major overhaul that makes her impulsive, emotional, and on average incapable of making a reasoned and rational decisions. The frontal lobes responsible for making such judgement calls are woefully underpowered at 15-17, and the emotional reward and response system easily outraces and overwhelms any weak input the frontal lobes provide. It takes massive amounts of willpower for adolescents to overpower their emotions.

So your entire premise is flawed. It doesn't make a lot of difference specifically why the teen doesn't want to tell her parents. In the sole cases where it does make a difference, (e.g. when the parents are themselves unreasonable, or in sad cases where they are responsible for the pregnancy) the teen should have access to a judge that can sort out emotions and reasons on all sides and overrule the parents for the benefit of the child; something else Megan advocated. In 14 to 15 year old teenage pregnancy throughout the USA, excluding those pregnancies resulting from incestuous relationships, the average age of the father is 22. That seven year age disparity does not suggest some rational choice on the part of the 15 year old, it suggests emotional manipulation and exploitation of immature minds by equally immature 22 year old males. This turns out to be the uniform judgement of professional pyschologists when they interview the girls and the fathers; as is often done when the fathers are prosecuted.

Joel_Cairo
12-17-2007, 04:35 PM
What kind of libertarian needs more than six-degrees-of-separation to get their hands on some cocaine? Clearly the bad-assest thing about Libertarianism is their principle-clad recreational use of drugs, and everybody who is anybody knows that all the cool kid Libertarians get high (Murray Rothbard: that guy could party). But nooooo, Megan's all in it to deny the elderly any moral claim to her money, and other such square motives. I can certainly understand why she's always being booted out of any group she identifies with; she brings the lame.

Joel_Cairo
12-17-2007, 04:35 PM
Consider this little aside (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:00:48&out=01:01:03) from Megan re: gun control & gun noobs.

Now consider this Yglesias post (http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/the_punisher.php) from a little while back.

garbagecowboy
12-17-2007, 05:00 PM
I am not a libertarian by any means; I believe in the welfare state. I am a Democrat. But this is one issue where I disagree with many of my fellow Dems. Citizens have a right to own a gun, and not just rifles for hunting (which I abhor anyway), they have a right to own a gun that protects them from predatory humans, and that means a gun designed to kill people. But that doesn't mean they have a right to own a gun anonymously.

Well said.

As for your questions about how the record-keeping could be done by the gun-shops, I agree that this is probably not a workable system.

However, gun shops currently do perform the background check (via computer by plugging into the Federal instant background check database, or at least that is my understanding).

Perhaps to draw even more heavily on the car analogy we could satisfy concerns about the Federal government having the data on all the gun owners by delegating the powers of licensing and records management to the states. For instance, you register your car with the state and get a state license plate, but the statutes are set up in such a way that all licenses and registrations from one state are interoperable with those of all the other states.

The idea would be to package a mandate of shall-issue and allowing handguns in all states with a Federal mandate to the states to keep the types of records that would be needed to help quell the problems of illegal guns (all gun owners have state licenses, all guns have the equivalent of a state registration and license plate, all transfers of guns require a transfer of the title to the gun just as you have to do when you sell a car). This would be a massive change to the current status quo where in some states there are virtually no roadblocks to obtaining a gun beyond the Federal background check when purchasing at a store or from a gun-dealer or a concealed carry permit (which in some states is already shall-issue) and in other states and jurisdictions legal gun ownership is virtually impossible or has all sorts of hoops to jump through written into it. With the current status quo we have this crazy-quilt patchwork set-up where say, your Nebraska concealed carry permit is valid in Texas, but you're not even allowed to bring the gun into Washington, D.C. at all, let alone carry it around concealed.

As a person with a significant interest in gun ownership and accessibility to guns for law-abiding citizens, I would find this kind of legislation to be very appealing. I'm not so sure, however, about lots of NRA types who would probably like to have "Vermont carry" (where you can carry a concealed weapon without any permit at all) throughout the country. I personally think it would be a good idea if there was some sort of Department of Firearms in every state where you could go, take basically the same test and fill out the same paperwork and undergo the same background check in every state (and every state had to issue concealed carry permits to people who wanted them).

This would eliminate the wild and woolly situation we have now where you can go to a state with loose gun laws and buy a handgun from a private individual with no record of the transaction (like Lousiana, for instance) but where in other states obtaining a gun is virtually impossible. And of course, the other massive benefit to registering all weapons and logging all transactions would be obvious. I think that if this were enshrined into law it would actually strengthen gun owners' rights, since it would not really make access to guns difficult for anyone who should be allowed to have one, it would secure shall-issue rights to every legal gun owner strengthening the ability of gun owners to use their guns for self-defense, and it would also send a clear message that what gun owners really do care about the safe and responsible use of guns by introducing much more accountability to those who buy, sell and use guns.

patrick
12-17-2007, 05:05 PM
Wolfgangus:

"Your premise is wrong in the extreme; what makes you think a 15 year old girl's reproductive system is her property to do with as she pleases?"

Your choice of words is perhaps revealing. I never used the word "property," because a woman's (even if younger than our legally defined age of majority) body is absolutely more significant than that. It is HER body, her domain, her person. It and its capacities are not her father's "property."

"That is not true at six, and it is not true at 15, and not true at 17." A woman "inherits" her reproductive rights at age 18, in your view? Until that time, decisions regarding usage of her reproductive system are made by its "owners," her parents?

"...she isn't mature enough to make such decisions. That is not just my opinion, that is the physiological facts of life, her brain is undergoing a major overhaul that makes her impulsive, emotional, and on average incapable of making a reasoned and rational decisions."

I find this woefully condescending as well as entirely inaccurate. I vehemently disagree that a young person is "incapable of making a reasoned and rational decision." That, in itself is BS. If a pregnant young woman decides she doesn't want to be a teenage mother because she's not ready (among other reasons) its ENTIRELY rational to do the prudent thing and legally terminate the pregnancy. Your argument that young, pregnant women are incapable of thinking for themselves and thus require the decision-making of a parent regarding their reproductive choices is wrong.

"That seven year age disparity does not suggest some rational choice on the part of the 15 year old, it suggests emotional manipulation and exploitation of immature minds by equally immature 22 year old males."

Are you kidding me? Though this factoid is completely irrelevant, your stating it strikes me as exactly what I pointed out: the ongoing attempts of fathers to control the fertility and sexuality of their daughters, particularly with an emphasis of denying it to males they disapprove of. It may be hard to grapple with, but young women enjoy sex, seek it out, and may indeed desire an older partner, perhaps even just for sexual gratification. Its not always the result of a exploitation and deception. This reality is disturbing if not outright unacceptable to many. I've seen men act hostile, idiotic, and irrational in trying to deny this truth about female sexuality. Because fighting this losing battle is a futile endeavor, some men want to utilize the state to extend their loosening grasp on something they cannot control.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-17-2007, 05:11 PM
Hi Brendan,
I might not be quite so sensible as you suppose. I'm inclined to think a liberal society has good reason to encourage people to seek fairly uncontroversially "better" goods over less good ones. In my view, and the view of many, education and the ability to think and decide for oneself are non-instrumentally better even for those who think they prefer to do without them. A liberal society could well seek to encourage a "liberal" education (i.e., one intended to "expand the horizons" of the individual, not just narrowly taylor him to some craft or profession) at the expense of other goods we regard as less valuable for the individual. Of course, liberalism itself would limit how coercive this "encouragement" can become, but it doesn't follow that a liberal society can't form or act upon any view at all of what makes individuals genuinely happy.

Dee Sharp
12-17-2007, 05:42 PM
"If we could have British or German or Australian level of private gun ownership, we'd have less homicide."

So if we really tighten our guns laws to match those in Mexico, we'll reduce our murder rate? Mexico's murder rate is twice ours. We are not the world champ of homicide, and most of the real champs have tight gun control. South Africa went from being a violent country with modest gun control to being a violent country with strict gun control.

I will not sign on to a grand bargain between ignorance and facts.

Joel_Cairo
12-17-2007, 06:20 PM
A liberal society could well seek to encourage a "liberal" education (i.e., one intended to "expand the horizons" of the individual, not just narrowly taylor him to some craft or profession) at the expense of other goods we regard as less valuable for the individual.

But then again, doesn't education inherently impart bias, a narrowing rather than broadening? To borrow a nugget observed by Amy Gutmann (http://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Education-Princeton-Paperbacks-Gutmann/dp/0691009163), "to educate" was synonymous with "to govern" in Aristotle's day. Any education guides, and necessarily closes doors even as it opens, rendering your "broadening horizons" formulation a bit misleading. The classic example is an aspiring professional ballerina, whose training is so intense, and must be committed to at such a young age, that it precludes a whole host of other options (to become a radiologist, for example). A more local example is in the Will Wilkinson / Ezra Klein diavlog, where Ezra tells the story of his friend who longs to become a writer, but can't because of her law school debt. This applies likewise on a less literal level (as I think you meant it): the education you espouse may close off access to other authetically chosen, and happy-making, lives. It has been successfully argued by the Amish that such education was a threat to their free exercise. Do you really think a liberal society has the right to deny someone their personal belief in empirically-unsound Creationism? It seems to me that this liberal education, with its critical reflection and rational autonomy and all that good stuff, could easily be construed as part of the fatal flaw of liberalism, Mark Schmitt's "technocratic ideal", where a supposedly value-neutral Enlightened world-view is fostered, without regard for the many other possible alternate belief systems it tramples underfoot.

Maybe I'm just nit-picking your word choice, and I'm certainly taking your and Brendan's conversation on a detour, but since you're assuming the Liberal Perfectionist stance, I thought I'd push back with some of the classic critiques :)

A great diavlog touching on this topic is to be found here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/369) (the last half especially)

dudeman
12-17-2007, 07:10 PM
I think he's great too. As long as control-freak, do-gooders like him are spouting their frightening & bossy social engineering theories on bgh.tv instead of in government, it's always "great".

Wolfgangus
12-17-2007, 07:47 PM
A state level registration would be fine by me; even if the feds required it to be uniform. The feds can always subpoena any specific information they need from the state; and basic discovery can proceed without a subpoena (e.g. "Do you guys have this ballistic signature on record?")

That would be quite a bit different than the feds having a list of every registered gun owner in the country, I think. Some NRA nuts might kick back about even the state having such a registration; under the assumption that the fed will get a copy by hook or crook. I don't know what can be done about that, as the Bush administration has made abundantly clear, the fed doesn't really have to worry too much about what laws they break or demand broken, if they can't obstruct justice, they can just pardon the convicted (or in the case of the telcos, pre-pardon them).

Wonderment
12-17-2007, 09:52 PM
Forcing a young woman to seek the (tedious and time-consuming to the point of health-threatening) protection of the courts to make her own reproductive choices is inhumane and unacceptable.

I agree. Megan viewed parental consent as a somewhat trivial non-deal-breaker issue, but it is an important human right of girls. Children may not have the right to get a tattoo or body piercing without their parents' permission, but it doesn't follow that they must have children because their parents say so or pressure them to.

Wonderment
12-17-2007, 09:59 PM
In the sole cases where it does make a difference, (e.g. when the parents are themselves unreasonable, or in sad cases where they are responsible for the pregnancy) the teen should have access to a judge that can sort out emotions and reasons on all sides and overrule the parents for the benefit of the child; something else Megan advocated.

Bringing a judge in would result in a tremendous disincentive to reveal the pregnancy and seek the abortion. Many kids would look for underground abortions or simply fess up and have the child because the parents had religious objections to abortion or wanted early grandchildren. The child should not be under any pressure to bear a child she doesn't want.

Having said that, we, as a society, should do everything possible within a framework of human rights, to reduce abortions. That would include adequate sex education and easy access to free or very affordable birth control, as well as promoting a culture of adoption.

Wonderment
12-17-2007, 10:06 PM
So if we really tighten our guns laws to match those in Mexico, we'll reduce our murder rate? Mexico's murder rate is twice ours. We are not the world champ of homicide, and most of the real champs have tight gun control. South Africa went from being a violent country with modest gun control to being a violent country with strict gun control.

Mexican gun laws are poorly enforced. There is tremendous police corruption, which results in lots of cop guns ending up in the hands of criminals. Also, American gun dealers funnel gazillions of guns into Mexico; most Mexican guns are MADE (or distributed) IN USA. Also, the drug trade, in order to satisfy US demand for controlled substances, has created vast mafias in Mexico -- in partnership with US gangsters and suburban teenagers.

Comparing the US to Mexico in terms of gun laws is ridiculous. The US has the legal infrastructure to enforce sane gun legislation, like keeping assault weapons illegal for starters. Compare the US to Britain, Holland or Japan, not Mexico.

Dee Sharp
12-17-2007, 10:38 PM
The US is mostly first world, but we have third world enclaves. Those enclaves tend to be violent, while most of the country is not. Last time I checked, the entire state of North Dakota had the same murder rate as Japan. N.D. gun laws are far more relaxed than Japanese ones, while our national murder rate using hands and fists exceeds Japan's total rate. Therefore, I can be excused for thinking that culture, not gun policy, determines murder rate.

Mark Kleiman noted that our drug dealers have guns, and stated that gun availability in the wider culture makes this possible. I'm supposed to believe that someone who sells contraband for a living will go without a gun if they are not sold in stores. Hard, that.

I did notice that Mark Kleiman is quite pro-gun for someone at his point on the political spectrum. I don't care. I want my bloggingheads to know a lot more than I do about the issues they discuss, wherever they sit politically. If I wanted to watch people share feelings, I'd plug in the TV.

JIM3CH
12-18-2007, 02:52 AM
This response is directed at Patrick

I am pro-choice. But I am fully against any attempt to justify abortion as merely a convenient form of birth control, and Patrick’s arguments seem to be pointing in that direction. Young men and women have trouble making good choices (is not getting pregnant at such a young age sufficient evidence for you Patrick?). It is the responsibility of the fathers to protect the hearts of their young daughters for as long as they can. That doesn’t mean to “control” them. It means to be their loving parent, fully involved in their young lives, as a father first and a friend later. Unfortunately parents are not perfect either, so it is easy to imagine situations where young women may need other places to turn. But unlimited access to abortion on demand, without the knowledge of the parents, is not a good course of action in my opinion.

testostyrannical
12-18-2007, 04:46 AM
I just don't think the concept of happiness matters. It isn't just that it's objectively incommensurable. It's that happiness is overrated. This comes largely from having been raised in a (by American standards) poverty-ridden environment. Having both endured the heavy consequences of a childhood on the craptastic end of America's miraculous wealth distribution, and having spoken with many well meaning idiots about their conceptions regarding ideal social policy, I have developed a keen appreciation for policy discussions that focus less on heady notions of contentment and more on where the bacon is going. Getting good food in what would otherwise be empty stomachs makes sense. Of course this will make otherwise starving people happier, but it isn't their happiness that should be driving our efforts.

Making health a primary indicator is both easier to measure and, I think, just more logical. Are people getting fed, clothed, sheltered? Are there classes of individuals with unusually low life spans, or unusually high infant mortality rates, or who are unusually prone to specific illnesses? If so, what are the causes, and what can be done about it? These sorts of questions both make sense, and are a hell of a lot easier to deal with than questions about who feels good about life and who doesn't. If we could ever say we had dealt with even just the bare majority of these perennial challenges, I think we could claim rightfully to be living in a golden age.

Beyond the really basic requirements for survival and good health, and equality both of opportunity and before the law, I am agnostic regarding the role of public policy. If we solved all of these problems, and then, on top of that, could give everyone Rolls Royces and mansions (because studies showed how much happier everyone would be with them), to me this wouldn't be any better than just solving these problems. Beyond the satisfaction of basic human needs, everything else is a meaningless flourish of materiality.

Wolfgangus
12-18-2007, 08:43 AM
The child should not be under any pressure to bear a child she doesn't want.

I don't think so either, at least for the first trimester or so, when I think abortion is clearly not murder. (The fetus doesn't even have a cortex). I see the judge as a way for the child to appeal the parental decision, even if she hasn't consulted the parents and knows what the decision is in advance. But I don't think a girl 16 or under is mentally capable of making the decision on her own; she needs an adult to counsel her and provide the reasoning power she doesn't possess. Not to single out 16 year old girls; 16 year old boys don't have it either, the frontal lobes are simply still under development and not up to the task. The brain is being re-wired to operate faster for adulthood; the emotional centers (amygdala) are the first to get super-charged starting around puberty, and the frontal lobes are the last to be upgraded, a process that is largely complete by 21, but there is much evidence suggesting it isn't fully complete until 24 or maybe even 26. They are children, at least six and perhaps ten years before cognitive maturity without the physical equipment to make adult decisions, and allowing them to make adult decisions in that condition is a form of abuse and neglect, not charity or fairness. And likewise for forcing them under the hand of parents that are also cognitively impaired, whether by religion, drug addiction, psychopathy, depression or whatever mental illness is responsible. My goal was to give the girl a legal option to substitute a professional adult (a judge) for her parents.

I guess there are two scenarios; parents demanding an abortion and parents demanding the child be carried to term. In the latter case, the girl should have the right to safe and legal abortion without her parent's consent. In the former (parent's demanding an abortion) I have no easy answer when the girl wants to bring the fetus to term; she may be too young, the fetus may be handicapped or the result of incest, or other extenuating circumstances may apply. Somebody needs to understand the situation and determine what is best for the future of the girl, and it isn't her. Maybe her parents are right and an abortion is in her best interest, or maybe she needs an alternative environment to complete her pregnancy.

Wolfgangus
12-18-2007, 08:51 AM
You got my vote; I'll sign up for that policy. Screw happiness, bring groceries and a competent doctor.

DoctorMoney
12-18-2007, 11:52 AM
One to three drinks a day is a problem drinker? I'm sorry, that is a loony pronouncement. One to three drinks a day is a drinker -- have we officially moved all habitual drinking into the 'problem' category? That makes me sad, and I'm sure I average quite a bit less than that. I've known many successful and happy people who had an *extremely* regular 1-2 drinks a day, every day, without fail for 20 or more years.

And I can't believe no one here is standing up for gambling. What is this fuzzy, ridiculous notion that poker machines, which correlate play and immediate visual and audio 'reward' (let alone winning money) is somehow habit forming.

If that's true, it means that playing Super Mario Bros., or Tetris, or any other brightly colored digital bauble that rewards me on a regular basis is "like crack cocaine"? As analogy, it makes sense in some ways. But not more than a good page turner. Yes, whenever an entertainment form rewards me constantly, I'll compulsively attempt to continue indulging in it. Christ, you could make the same argument about Beethoven's Ninth. Or ABBA's Dancing Queen. Every time I come back to it, my brain lights up again! Time to regulate it! Have you seen how often I'm listening to it on my iTunes rotation? I'm attempting to escape my life, apparently.

And if Hostess is held to the same standard as Anheuser Busch, couldn't we say that 90% of twinkies are sold to problem eaters (since we apparently define problem consumption with a ridiculously low standard) and should be regulated by the government?

I'm sorry, I think this line of logic is absolutely wacky. People do nasty drugs (like meth) partly because access to better drugs have been curtailed. You could argue, during prohibition, that alcohol caused X number of blindness cases due to moonshine operations.

bjkeefe
12-18-2007, 12:08 PM
Dr. Money:

Very well said, especially about the new (low) standards for "problem drinking" and junk food.

I do disagree a little bit with your criticism of the video poker feedback mechanism. I do think there is something to this -- even if there's no money involved, video games are "addictive." Lots of people who play them at all would probably say they waste too much time on them. I personally swore off all of them for this reason. This is not necessarily to say that I think video poker machines should be banned; I'm uneasy about excessive tendencies on the part of the bluenose contingent to "protect" others from themselves.

DoctorMoney
12-18-2007, 12:25 PM
Being so fun that you don't want to stop does not cross the line, for me, into being an addiction. I think it's a horribly over-used word that we usually apply to things we have cultural anxiety over.

Put it like this: I think if your brain wants to play games for more hours a day, you probably *should* be playing games more than you are. Not to the extent that you get fired and leave your family, but it's not like heroin. I don't think there's any good amount of heroin to take, and I do believe that a certain amount of video poker is probably pretty good for you.

bjkeefe
12-18-2007, 01:12 PM
Doc:

I agree that the term "addiction" is overused and applied trivially, but what would you call a condition whereby one plays a video game to the extent that one later regrets that time spent, especially if other activities (desired and/or required) are foregone because of the time spent?

Wolfgangus
12-18-2007, 02:10 PM
what would you call a condition whereby one plays a video game to the extent that one later regrets that time spent

I believe these are called impulse control problems; not addiction. I think "addiction" is reserved for habits that involve withdrawal symptoms, such as extreme anxiety, feelings of illness, panic, depression, etc. I certainly felt that for weeks when I gave up smoking cold-turkey 20 years ago (at age 30). I was smoking 2 1/2 packs a day. I literally did nothing but NOT SMOKE for a solid week, I couldn't read, watch TV, play games or do anything that required any level of concentration because I was constantly interrupted by overwhelming urges to light up. One thing I did do was walk for hours on end, I was probably walking 20 miles a day, just thinking about NOT SMOKING. On a few occasions in the first three days, I literally had tears in my eyes. On about the sixth day I noticed the cravings had eased up some, but they were in slow decline for months before I had a day where I noticed I had not had any craving (which triggered a craving). These withdrawal symptoms returned several times for about three years, usually triggered by encountering a person I had worked with, or visiting a place I had worked at, from back when I was a smoker. I think the only way to test addiction is to give something up, even temporarily. If giving it up doesn't trigger some level of desperation and an internal struggle to maintain rational control, I don't think it counts as an addiction.

Interestingly I gave up video games for the same reason as you; regrets over wasted time when I could have been doing something productive. Especially between contract gigs when you might have 4-6 weeks of downtime. But the withdrawal symptoms from giving up video games were essentially non-existent, I certainly wouldn't classify that as an addiction in me. I love ice cream too, but I have gone without for months at a time with no ill effects.

bjkeefe
12-18-2007, 02:23 PM
Wolf:

That's a useful distinction (impulse control vs. addiction).

I won't argue about the few people who do display withdrawal symptoms when quitting video games, because you're right about the overwhelming majority of them -- it only hurts to stop at the moment, and not much at all after some time away.

I also know what you mean about quitting cigarettes, although for me, the first week was not the hard part, since I expected that week to be hard. I actually kind of enjoyed the buzz I felt from the nicotine jones. The thing that sucked for me was the occasional cravings that came about literally years later. Not frequent, but sudden and intense. So, I started again. I have two multiyear non-smoking chunks in my past; maybe the third time will be the charm.

sirfith
12-18-2007, 03:18 PM
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=00:07:52
I guess Mark means WACO and Rudy Ridge as examples of that.
Screw up royally and get promoted. What a great job.

garbagecowboy
12-18-2007, 03:30 PM
“Quitting Smoking is easy…I’ve done it a thousand times”. -Mark Twain.

Likewise, I quit drinking on average about 50 times a year, usually on Sundays.

Wolfgangus
12-18-2007, 04:41 PM
I quit once, that was enough. My big problem with quitting was that I am so good at finding flaws and exceptions in arguments, including my own, that I had to play a psychological trick on myself to quit; namely, I quit without reason. So every time my inner addict tried to weasel a cigarette out of me using reason (e.g. one won't kill you), my inner manager could respond that this logic was irrelevant, because it had nothing to do with why I was quitting. Not for my health, not for the money, not for the smell, not for the breath, not for the safety, not for the kid, not to avoid the social stigma, not FOR anything. I was just quitting and would never smoke another cigarette. Ever! It sounds loopy, I am sure, but it worked for me and it still works. My best friend is like you, several multi-year non-smoking stints behind him; at least 4. He just has an impulse control problem that keeps leading him back into the smoking addiction at weak moments.

Joel_Cairo
12-18-2007, 06:40 PM
Christ, you could make the same argument about Beethoven's Ninth. Or ABBA's Dancing Queen. Every time I come back to it, my brain lights up again! Time to regulate it! Have you seen how often I'm listening to it on my iTunes rotation? I'm attempting to escape my life, apparently.

What does and doesn't qualify for "addiction" is immaterial to the issue of regulation. The state doesn't intervene via regulation in response to something's addictive properties themselves, but rather because that thing, in excess, is bad for you. Whether or not you can quit listening to ABBA has no impact on your health or that of the community. People who can't quit gambling (either beause they like it and have poor impulse control or because they are officially addicted) end up blowing their kids' college fund and having their house foreclosed.y.

bjkeefe
12-18-2007, 08:20 PM
Wolf:

My best friend is like you, several multi-year non-smoking stints behind him; at least 4. He just has an impulse control problem that keeps leading him back into the smoking addiction at weak moments.

Maybe what's truly at play with me is an impulse control problem, but the last time I restarted (after about five years not smoking), it felt like a conscious decision driven by the fact that I just plain like cigarettes and I missed them.

I guess the fact that I went right back to a pack-a-day is an impulse control problem, though, because I do wish I could smoke less.

Exeus99
12-18-2007, 08:56 PM
Professor Kleiman, you have my very sincere thanks for this: Loophole? (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=00:58:45&out=59:03) That is the first time I can remember that I've heard someone from "the left" get the gun show loophole question exactly correct. I posted a reply in Ms. McArdle's comment section a few days ago making precisely this point to one of her commenters--I was actually considering writing a solid response and saving it, in order to reduce the hassle of explaining this very simple point to the many people who get it wrong. Thank you for getting it right, and thanks to bloggingheads.tv for having you on!

Exeus99
12-18-2007, 09:14 PM
Bravo to Ms. McArdle for getting 3 of the 4 here, (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:00:56&out=1:01:04) but note that #3 will mightily compound any failure to respect one of the others: 4 Rules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Cooper_(colonel)#Firearms_safety).

daveh
12-18-2007, 09:16 PM
Yeah to Dr. Money and Sirfith -- both made excellent points.

To second the Doctor -- how did they ever come up with these standards? Why not declare two drinks to be a "binge"? Obviously, many people drink too much, but is there any reason to conclude that negative effects kick in at these levels?

One problem that I see with studies that conclude that drinking causes problems like domestic violence is that they compare cohorts of the present population with one another. Did executives back in the three-martini lunch days go home and beat their wives with more frequency than they do today? I would imagine that both smoking and drinking have declined among the more prosperous. Due to the more dramatic decline of smoking, I would bet that you would find a bigger correlation between smoking and wife beating than with drinking.

Furthermore, problem drinking is correlated with ethnicity -- basically the farther from the Mediterranean your ancestors came from, the more trouble you might have with drinking. Witness the low rates of alcoholism among Jews and high rates among Russians or American Indians. (Asians have a tendency to react poorly to alcohol due to an allergic reaction). Maybe Mr. Kleiman would recommend that we refuse to permit persons of Russian descent from drinking.

Sirfith - you forgot about Webster Hubbell -- if we could only get such dedicated public apolitical public servants back in the DOJ we'd be in high cotton. Or crack antiterrorism people like Jamie Gorelick.

Exeus99
12-18-2007, 10:06 PM
Malthus: Given your implied, though dire, prediction of doom (if we keep worshipping at the altar of Market Capitalism), do you find your choice of BH posting nickname ironic?

Exeus99
12-18-2007, 10:34 PM
With respect to Prof. Kleiman's proposed bargain that you (garbagecowboy) might accept: Note that the benefit of this bargain for the "gun fans" is stated here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:57:15&out=0:57:45) as nationwide shall-issue for CCL/CCPs. This would be a bigger inducement to give something up, though, if it weren't something most of us already have--my state is shall issue, as are 35 others by law and another 3 by practice. Viewing this map (http://www.moccw.org/map.html) or this handy animation (http://www.kc3.com/CCW_progress.htm) reminds you of just how much those nefarious NRA types have changed the political landscape; more than half of the U.S. population already lives in a shall-issue state (or one that is de facto shall issue). Many states extend legal reciprocity of one kind or another to CCL/CCP holders from other states, though a nation-wide reciprocity (or uniformity of shall-issue status) would be a step up. There is, of course, the question of how a President would be able to achieve this bargain, since carry laws are from states and FFLs are the domain of the federal gov., but pesky issues of federalism always seem to crop up when sweeping deals for the betterment of all are on the line!

Prof. Kleiman is very well-informed on the issue and in that respect is a most welcome (and unfortunately unusual) addition to the debate, but it's worth noting that the prize of his grand bargain for the "gun fans" is one that many of us have already won-- without his Bargain.

Exeus99
12-18-2007, 11:45 PM
Ms. McArdle:
I enjoy your blog and am always happy to see that you're featured in another Diavlog. May I suggest that for your next session you stick a Post-It to your monitor with something like "minimize talk about my personal experience" written there upon? I like that BH lets the viewers get to know more about our favorite pundits' personalities, but an over-reliance on your own experience and viewpoint can detract from what you are trying to convey; this over-reliance undercuts both your relatability and the credibility of your arguments. Beginning your every-other response by referencing your own experience, or that of a friend/family member, creates an impression that your may not have considered your opinion or thought much about the issue--this is a danger for you especially since some in the audience here (and apparently most on your own blog!) seem to be actively looking for any reason to dismiss your opinions. Again, I enjoy your blog and your appearances here, but you could be much more effective if you made an effort to refer to less to your own experiences (and use fewer examples that are from your own history, or your family's/friends') and more to the broader point. As someone who likes your work I don't think your frequent use of first-hand examples invalidates your points, but people who are hostile to your political views can easily use this proclivity to dismiss your opinions as naive or solipistic. More generous critics might say this habit betrays some kind of systemic cognitive bias--something like confirmation or congruence bias; I know your blog commenters accuse you of having your views overly influenced by economics (deformation professionnelle (sp?)) already. Anyway, please don't allow such critics to dismiss your arguments as superficial and overly influenced by your (atypical) personal experience: reduce your use of anecdotes as evidence. Alternately you could write "Relate to larger point" on that Post-it, as making the link between your experience and your larger point more explicitly might ameliorate this problem.

Exeus99
12-19-2007, 12:42 AM
Examples of what I refer to in my above post here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:03:55&out=0:4:15), here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:11:35&out=0:11:39), here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:14:28&out=0:14:47), additionally here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:18:45&out=0:19:14), plus here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:27:08&out=0:27:32), once more here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:35:41&out=0:35:49), here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:54:35&out=0:54:43), again here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:00:48&out=01:01:00), also here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:28:09&out=0:28:17), and here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:06:05&out=01:06:14), here again (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:08:14&out=01:08:42), and here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:13:41&out=01:14:00), here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:17:28&out=01:17:37), and even in a way here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=01:23:10&out=01:25:17).

One danger of generalizing too much from your own experience is illustrated here (http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7422?in=0:40:24&out=0:40:48):your experience might be highly atypical!

Again, any of these examples is in isolation fine, but taken together they create the impression that Ms. McArdle puts her arguments and opinions forward based only on her own experience or personal anecdotes. Mixing some other kinds of evidence in will heighten your believability and increase your influence; justifying or backing your beliefs/views with something other than stories about things that happened to you will increase your effectiveness.

Overall, though, good Diavlog, good pairing, hope to see you both back!

TwinSwords
12-19-2007, 02:10 AM
I think he's great too. As long as control-freak, do-gooders like him are spouting their frightening & bossy social engineering theories on bgh.tv instead of in government, it's always "great".
Can you elaborate on the "frightening" part? Or the "bossy" part? The "control freak" part? Your reaction fascinates me.

Heaven forbid someone should "do good," eh? Those are the worst kind of people!


.

daveh
12-19-2007, 02:27 AM
Exeus99: Amen

kj
12-19-2007, 11:36 AM
I hardly think he is predicting doom, rather that the market fundamentalists (like Megan) will someday be given as much intellectual respect as the religious fundamentalists. I don't know about Malthus, but I don't think that day is too far off.

garbagecowboy
12-19-2007, 12:51 PM
I hardly think he is predicting doom, rather that the market fundamentalists (like Megan) will someday be given as much intellectual respect as the religious fundamentalists. I don't know about Malthus, but I don't think that day is too far off.

"Market fundamentalists"... cute.

Yes, I'm sure 50 years from now Milton Friedman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Friedman) will be seen as the intellectual equivalent of a phrenologist or an alchemist.

Wolfgangus
12-19-2007, 02:01 PM
market fundamentalists (like Megan) will someday be given as much intellectual respect as the religious fundamentalists.

Although I am sympathetic to Malthus' stance, this is taking it too far. At some timescale the market is efficient; companies that make no money become worth zero and companies that earn a ton of money become worth a ton of money. So unlike the religious fundamentalist, there is a kernel of truth in the stance of the market fundamentalist.

But the fact is that the market wanders significantly from the efficient path and creates hills and valleys (over-valuations and under-valuations). Those probably have different underlying causes; in my experience over-valuations tend to be the result of "greater fool" speculation or irrational exuberance. But I admit it is hard to tell in infancy if something like Microsoft or Google is going to be a behemoth, so it is difficult to tell what was irrational until after the fact. A lot of the irrational exuberance also has a kernel of truth; in the dot-com craze, it was (and remains) true that the net will change the way we shop, work, socialize and live our lives; the irrational part was the assumptions on how quickly that could happen. Behavior and habit are stiffer than economists imagine; I still know many people that only resort to Amazon if they can't find a book at their local bookstore.

Under-evaluations seem to be primarily a function of information friction. It really is true that some companies are literally worth more than they are selling for, not just in breakup value (which happens) but in ROI. You can find companies that, after all financials are taken into account, really are earning ten times as much cash per share as others, have little risk involved, and are just stacking it up. The only way to convert that into gold is to buy the entire company and break it up, but any attempt to do that would trigger an information explosion that would revalue the company to the point where it was no longer worthwhile. So raiders don't bother and instead, the company just remains undervalued, and its capitalization rises sluggishly for years. This seems particularly true in the boring non-sexy companies dealing with waste, old technology staples, funerals, cleanups, accounting, etc, that don't get a lot of "marketing" by analysts, pundits and other investment boards. The market is inefficient in the sense that the speed of price responsiveness is a function of the amount of attention a stock gets, and some stocks get hundreds and thousands of times more attention than others simply because the companies and their products are more interesting to discuss. Which would you rather talk about; the new iPhone or manufacturing mid-price-range furniture?

garbagecowboy
12-19-2007, 02:07 PM
So... do you have any hot stock tips in the mid-price-range furniture sector?

bjkeefe
12-19-2007, 03:17 PM
Wolf:

I think another thing to consider is that the market is not, and indeed cannot, always be efficient. There are points of instability that are encountered when one company becomes too dominant; e.g., Standard Oil, Ma Bell, and Microsoft. When such a phenomenon occurs, the barriers to entry are too high to admit competition, unless one is willing to wait decades or more for a paradigm shift.

There are also plenty of examples where letting the free market run unchecked means some people get little or no opportunity to buy at all. As a current example, consider the problem of obtaining broadband Internet access in the boonies.

I am of the opinion that the free market is the best idea we've come up with so far, but that we already know it isn't perfect, and so the best we can do is a delicate dance of intervening when necessary while trying not to stifle it. Therefore, I think the True Believers in the efficient market are somewhat akin to religious fundamentalists, in that they won't admit that their belief is not ever going to be 100% correct.

Wolfgangus
12-19-2007, 04:35 PM
GC: No hot tips; unfortunately. My investment style (which plods along at 20% annual return; nowhere near the million-dollar-buy-in private hedge funds average of above 40%, but adequate and low pressure) is essentially automated trend spotting backed up by human (me) analysis of fundamentals. One aspect of the "inefficiency" we are talking about is more specifically termed hysteresis of information; how long it takes new information to percolate through the stock market and adjust the price of a given stock. The information hysteresis in the market varies by stock, but on average we can calculate (via time series analysis, a sophisticated kind of self-correlation statistics) it is currently (meaning for the last few years) about 3 days. But there is an entire spectrum of hystereses, and I focus on stocks in the 20-40 day range; which provides enough time to spot about 1/3 of a trend, join it for about 1/3, and get out before something new happens. 20% isn't enough to make me rich (since I didn't start with a fortune) but it is enough to pay the bills.

The big-buy-in hedge funds and RITs can do some other stuff I can't afford to do. Like buy a company, or consolidate several companies, or do a roll up (buy out a lot of independent proprietors, slap a new chain name on them and consolidate support functions like purchasing, bookkeeping, advertising, etc to gain some economies of scale, and also to use the combined revenue to cross the threshold to going public, do an IPO and "liberate" some of the equity) or stuff like that. Or for the RIT, build an apartment complex, rent it out and then sell it to somebody else as reliable income property, or build an office building for doctors, or a strip mall, or a residential subdivision. Home-owner realty may not be wonderful right now, but that doesn't mean the rental property business is stagnant (I don't know whether it is or isn't). Anyway, if you have big bucks to risk (on the scale of $50K to $100K) some of these are pretty easily understood business models you can buy into that can beat the hell out of the market. From what I have seen, they are typically formed with 20-30 shareholders raising $2-5M. One of my former clients was in the medical-office-building business and making returns of about 50% per year like clockwork. The private hedge funds, on the other hand, are swinging hundreds of millions of dollars around from thousands of big investors; those tend to be much less understandable (or even entirely secret) business plans. But I think being a "hedge fund" instead of a mutual fund, especially with high-net-worth investors, gives them essentially unlimited freedom to deploy funds in any way that makes a profit; including buying and selling options, shorting stocks, buying whole companies for their break up value, and so on.

Wolfgangus
12-19-2007, 04:47 PM
BJ:

I think another thing to consider is that the market is not, and indeed cannot, always be efficient.

Well without qualification, this is innacurate. The fundamentalists are right, it IS efficient, the only question is the timescale, which you fail to consider in this statement.

There are points of instability that are encountered when one company becomes too dominant; e.g., Standard Oil, Ma Bell, and Microsoft. When such a phenomenon occurs, the barriers to entry are too high to admit competition, unless one is willing to wait decades or more for a paradigm shift.

This is not a question of market efficiency as I understand it; the efficient market hypothesis basically says prices reflect true value, and that goods and services will be supplied when a profit can be made by producing them. This is a question of monopolies.

It may well be that the Microsoft monopoly is efficient. If Microsoft charges too much for too long, that is a signal that a great deal of profit is to be had by competing with Microsoft. If the amount of profit exceeded the cost of producing and marketing a competitive package (which, I haven't tried to estimate, but is probably in the billion dollar range), somebody might raise the billion to do it. So that possibility might be what keeps Microsoft's OS prices at $50 instead of $500, or whatever they are these days, despite the monopoly.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-19-2007, 04:50 PM
But then again, doesn't education inherently impart bias, a narrowing rather than broadening? To borrow a nugget observed by Amy Gutmann (http://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Education-Princeton-Paperbacks-Gutmann/dp/0691009163), "to educate" was synonymous with "to govern" in Aristotle's day. Any education guides, and necessarily closes doors even as it opens, rendering your "broadening horizons" formulation a bit misleading. The classic example is an aspiring professional ballerina, whose training is so intense, and must be committed to at such a young age, that it precludes a whole host of other options (to become a radiologist, for example). A more local example is in the Will Wilkinson / Ezra Klein diavlog, where Ezra tells the story of his friend who longs to become a writer, but can't because of her law school debt. This applies likewise on a less literal level (as I think you meant it): the education you espouse may close off access to other authetically chosen, and happy-making, lives. It has been successfully argued by the Amish that such education was a threat to their free exercise. Do you really think a liberal society has the right to deny someone their personal belief in empirically-unsound Creationism? It seems to me that this liberal education, with its critical reflection and rational autonomy and all that good stuff, could easily be construed as part of the fatal flaw of liberalism, Mark Schmitt's "technocratic ideal", where a supposedly value-neutral Enlightened world-view is fostered, without regard for the many other possible alternate belief systems it tramples underfoot.

Maybe I'm just nit-picking your word choice, and I'm certainly taking your and Brendan's conversation on a detour, but since you're assuming the Liberal Perfectionist stance, I thought I'd push back with some of the classic critiques :)

A great diavlog touching on this topic is to be found here (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/369) (the last half especially)

Doesn't seem like a detour -- it's clearly relevant to what I was talking about. I tried to distinguish between forms of "education" that might not be "broadening" -- from actual indoctrination to the inculcation of some very narrow set of skills -- and liberal education (something involving critical thinking and an exposure to other ways of thinking).
Your example of the Amish suggests that even critical thinking might foreclose certain essentially narrow ways of life. This may be true, but it doesn't follow that an education involving critical thinking is itself "narrowing." Naturally, I would want to know how you can be so sure that a form of life that requires one not to be too aware of other ways of thinking IS "authentically chosen" -- the "choice" of one mode of life out of only one option doesn't seem like much of a choice, and the person choosing is not clearly in a position to be sure that he is choosing from a point of view that is authentically his.
Would I "force" the Amish into public education etc.? I tried to deal with this by pointing out that the liberal would try to "promote" critical thinking etc., but would not be keen to force this on those who disagree, precisely because it aims to justify a liberal political order on "neutral" grounds, or rather on grounds of what Rawls calls an "overlapping consensus" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rawls#Political_Liberalism

The "technocratic ideal" often tends to be spelled out in terms of utilitarianism, and utilitarianism is a view which is only one among many of the ethical views that form this overlapping consensus -- in which case it isn't neutral. Still at least certain versions of technocracy might well be justifiable on these quasi-neutral terms. I'm not convinced that liberalism really "tramples under foot" any actual belief systems. It must necessarily refuse to allow those belief systems to employ illiberal uses of force to spread themselves, but you can have a Catholic church without an inquisition.
People don't have to agree on the whole of the good for liberalism to work -- they just have to agree that force must be justified in terms that the coerced party cannot reasonably object to. If there are values, say honesty and mutual respect, that are essential to the existence of such a liberal order, or that can be agreed to by everyone (though they may have different theories of why these values are important), then a liberal society can promote these values -- it need not remain entirely "neutral" with respect to all values.
Creationists should not be punished, but I don't see any problem with teaching the empirical justifications for evolution in public schools. One shouldn't be forced to believe anything, but I don't see that it harms anyone to be taught what others believe and why they believe it.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-19-2007, 05:31 PM
I just don't think the concept of happiness matters. It isn't just that it's objectively incommensurable. It's that happiness is overrated. This comes largely from having been raised in a (by American standards) poverty-ridden environment. Having both endured the heavy consequences of a childhood on the craptastic end of America's miraculous wealth distribution, and having spoken with many well meaning idiots about their conceptions regarding ideal social policy, I have developed a keen appreciation for policy discussions that focus less on heady notions of contentment and more on where the bacon is going. Getting good food in what would otherwise be empty stomachs makes sense. Of course this will make otherwise starving people happier, but it isn't their happiness that should be driving our efforts.

Making health a primary indicator is both easier to measure and, I think, just more logical. Are people getting fed, clothed, sheltered? Are there classes of individuals with unusually low life spans, or unusually high infant mortality rates, or who are unusually prone to specific illnesses? If so, what are the causes, and what can be done about it? These sorts of questions both make sense, and are a hell of a lot easier to deal with than questions about who feels good about life and who doesn't. If we could ever say we had dealt with even just the bare majority of these perennial challenges, I think we could claim rightfully to be living in a golden age.

Beyond the really basic requirements for survival and good health, and equality both of opportunity and before the law, I am agnostic regarding the role of public policy. If we solved all of these problems, and then, on top of that, could give everyone Rolls Royces and mansions (because studies showed how much happier everyone would be with them), to me this wouldn't be any better than just solving these problems. Beyond the satisfaction of basic human needs, everything else is a meaningless flourish of materiality.

I'd put the point this way: if society is responsible for its members' individual good at all, it should not be responsible for their overall happiness. People's happiness is to a large degree dependent upon their own conception of thier own happiness. Society should not be telling people what conception of happiness to form, and the individual bears responsibility for adjusting his conception of happiness to the means he has available. Heinrich Schliemann's conception of happiness involved discovering Troy. He therefore made a fortune to pay for his search, and fortunately, he actually found Troy. But society shouldn't be judged on whether it supplies the means for Schliemann to find Troy, much less on whether he actually finds it, or on whether he is really as delighted as he expected to be when he does find it. Insofar as society takes responsibility for its citizens' good, it should focus on what Rawls calls "basic goods" -- those goods that are either part of all (or nearly all) conceptions of happiness (e.g., health) or are means to multiple conceptions of happiness -- and it should focus, not on the most extravagant requirements of certain possible conceptions of happiness (or "the good"), but on making sure that some reasonable choice of happinesses is possible to each individual (even if those versions of happiness are not the individual's ideal). The concept of "happiness" or "individual good" certainly still plays a role in this explanation, but the maximal aggregate happiness is NOT on this view, what society should set as its own aim.

The studies in question still seem to me relevant, as I pointed out in response to Ottorino. What if someone objects to the taking of tax money from the wealthy to improve the lot of the less well-off? In doing this, someone might maintain that one is depriving the well-off of the additional happiness that the money taken from them could have purchased. The studies in question tend to show that the money taken doesn't actually contribute all that much to the happiness of these wealthier individuals. So, even if you reject maximal happiness as the aim of society and government, the studies we're talking about still play a role in defusing an argument of this sort against taking money from some to ensure the health of others.

breadcrust
12-20-2007, 03:18 AM
It may well be that the Microsoft monopoly is efficient. If Microsoft charges too much for too long, that is a signal that a great deal of profit is to be had by competing with Microsoft. If the amount of profit exceeded the cost of producing and marketing a competitive package (which, I haven't tried to estimate, but is probably in the billion dollar range), somebody might raise the billion to do it. So that possibility might be what keeps Microsoft's OS prices at $50 instead of $500, or whatever they are these days, despite the monopoly.


Microsoft is not the only provider of OS's, which means it has no monopoly. If it charged $500 for its OS, everyone would quickly switch to Apple which has products which are comparable but more expensive... and less buggy.

Wolfgangus
12-20-2007, 08:43 AM
Breadcrust:

The legal definition of monopoly does not require 100% ownership. From a legal dictionary:

monopoly n. A business or inter-related group of businesses which controls so much of the production or sale of a product or kind of product to control the market, including prices and distribution. Business practices, combinations, and/or acquisitions which tend to create a monopoly may violate various federal statutes which regulate or prohibit business trusts and monopolies, or prohibit restraint of trade. However, limited monopolies granted by a manufacturer to a wholesaler in a particular area are usually legal, since it is like a "license." Public utilities such as electric, gas and water companies may also hold a monopoly in a particular geographic area since it is the only practical way to provide the public service, and they are regulated by state public utility commissions.

Microsoft does have a monopoly, 95+% of all PCs both in the USA and worldwide run a Microsoft OS. By the legal defiinition this is a monopoly. Even Apple is running a Microsoft OS. If Microsoft decides tomorrow to tack on 10% to the price of an OS, the average price of an OS worldwide goes up 9.95%. That is price control, and obviously they have distribution control (in the legal sense, which does not consider theft and illegal copying forms of distribution).

January
12-20-2007, 09:40 AM
Hear, hear. I've enjoyed Megan's commentary but I've long thought that she's like most libertarians I've met, who were so adept at inventing a vast superstructure of ideologies to justify a gut-level approach to life. A lot of people function this way, of course, but she seems to be so unaware of it.

January
12-20-2007, 10:02 AM
This was a great diavlog. Mark's take was new to me and for that I'm grateful. But his attitude toward pleasure-seeking kind of creeped me out, reminding me of when I returned to Texas after ten years of living in England and found so many people to be tee-total and sprawlingly overweight. Everyone likes his daily reward for life's tedium. We can't all be pundits or academics; for those of us in ordinary paths of life, an evening of friends, a fine pint of bitter and a bacon roll is one of those things that makes life worthwhile. Europeans understand this and happily accept some of the most penalizing rules on drunk driving I've seen (I want Mark Kleiman to see "Babette's Feast" -- possibly several times). While we do have a culture where over-indulgence of the urge to drink, to eat, to shop is all but celebrated, I hardly think that the path of the unsmiling monk is the way forward. Or is even human.

breadcrust
12-20-2007, 03:27 PM
If Microsoft decides tomorrow to tack on 10% to the price of an OS, the average price of an OS worldwide goes up 9.95%.

Call Ballmer and tell him he's leaving money on the table. He'll thank you long time for increasing his profits hugely.

You probably use specialized software that only runs on Windows now, but most people use their systems for internetting, video gaming, media managing, tax prep, and light office (read: no Excel needed). None of these require MS products. Therefore, if MS goes much higher, then most users will switch to other systems. That doesn't sound like a monopoly to me.

Wolfgangus
12-20-2007, 06:00 PM
Breadcrust: No, you are wrong. My primary work computer is Linux; like about 2/3 of CS professionals in academia. I have Windows on a laptop.

As I said before, and you ignored, Microsoft is purposely leaving money "on the table" because they ARE a monopoly; in the real world where we live, several things constrain them and their monopoly is fragile; not entirely because of market forces. They have legal issues both domestically and internationally. But in the legal sense they remain a monopoly; they have such control of the market that nobody can compete. Although it is true that Open Office can do all the main functions of Windows (Word processor, spreadsheet, fairly sophisticated drawing package, powerpoint slide editor, etc), and there are plenty of GUI Windows type interfaces, the typical user (like my mother) will never learn to install, maintain, and operate Linux. Never! Nor will the average office user.

The software that businesses use is all written for the 95% of computers that use Windows, and won't run on Linux. Software companies do that because they aren't stupid enough to devote an extra 40% of manpower (assuming a generous 60% of their code can be used as-is on Linux) to pursue what is probably 3% of the additional market. Dot Net and browser-based apps are a step away from that OS dependency, but most software companies don't offer it, because it turns out that is harder than it looks, and their legacy ware is poorly designed (i.e. they cannot just rewrite a presentation layer because they don't really have a cleanly isolated layer, the presentation medium (Windows) has infiltrated all of their code). So that is a slow go, as well.

For most businesses to convert to Linux, even if Linux did absolutely everything they need to do, the training cost and lost productivity cost would be hundreds of dollars per desk and piss off customers, suppliers and employees to boot. Cheaper to just keep paying Microsoft their vig.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has not forgotten that they dodged some serious anti-trust action by inches, and if it hadn't been for some business-friendly Republicans in their pocket they might be in serious trouble. They also must deal with the real world facts of illegal copying and pirating. These illegal competitors use its own product against them, and if MS sets the price too high, more people (and businesses) are willing to break what they consider a minor law. Now MS could go the route of the record companies and start trying to sue on copyright infringement, but that pretty much backfired on the record companies and didn't work very well anyway. When I talk to students at the university where I work, they always know a dozen places to download ripped music. And the music industry doesn't even have the problem of being a monopoly and some states responding to increased legal activity by MS on the copyright front with increased noise about new anti-trust legislation or legal action. So MS is forced to balance this issue as well, which constrains its price; they have to find the white-knuckle equilibrium on the price that maximizes their sales. But those are not "market" forces or "competition" by another OS vendor, these are all problems faced by any dictatorship; how to maximize control without fomenting a revolution.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 06:08 PM
This just in: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/technology/tech-microsoft-samba-eu.html

Another way that Microsoft maintains effective monopoly control of the office marketplace is to make it hard for other OSes to play on the same LAN or WAN. The story linked to above is an indication of the ridiculous barriers they raise, and what it takes to overcome them. It is, however, a somewhat happy outcome, this time.

Wolfgangus
12-20-2007, 09:09 PM
Not so happy, the article says several competitors were driven out of business. What the heck is the deal about Microsoft having to inform somebody on what patents they hold? Patents are public information, you can go to the uspto online and find all patents held by Microsoft. Unless it holds them in little known subsidiaries, or something.

It seems weird you can publish source code that completely defines a protocol but not publish information about the protocol. I suspect Microsoft is withholding something they can use as a cudgel later. Of course, the damage is already done...

kj
12-21-2007, 02:48 PM
So unlike the religious fundamentalist, there is a kernel of truth in the stance of the market fundamentalist.

Let's not take me too far out of context. Whether or not there are kernels of truth in something is irrelevant if people adhere to a fundamentalist view when they apply it. Fundamentalism is the problem here, not belief in the power of markets. Libertarians, and this is what makes them a little crazy and also fun to argue with, tend to apply a fundamentalist approach to markets. They have an unwarranted faith in markets explaining everything and potentially fixing everything. I've complained about economists for the same reason on this board many times. Our social system is so much more complicated than markets which is just one important part.

Wonderment
12-21-2007, 02:54 PM
Not to single out 16 year old girls; 16 year old boys don't have it either, the frontal lobes are simply still under development and not up to the task. The brain is being re-wired to operate faster for adulthood; the emotional centers (amygdala) are the first to get super-charged starting around puberty, and the frontal lobes are the last to be upgraded, a process that is largely complete by 21, but there is much evidence suggesting it isn't fully complete until 24 or maybe even 26.

Good argument for not letting anyone until 21 join the military -- with or without parental consent.

Wolfgangus
12-21-2007, 04:13 PM
I've complained about economists for the same reason on this board many times. Our social system is so much more complicated than markets which is just one important part.

Agreed, I may have strayed far afield of your original comment. I complain about economists for the same reason. Actually I do believe systems are efficient in the longer term; the big problem with economists (and philosophical utilitarians) is believing everything can be sorted out in dollars and cents. This is why economic models fail when they predict things will regress to the Nash equilibrium. People don't think in terms of worst case; psychological study after study after study shows that people think in terms of expected returns, and not just monetary return. There is also emotional return; quite a few people in games will avoid deception and betrayal even if that is supposed to be a strategy of the game; they'd rather lose than win by what they consider lying or betrayal. Plus, despite these clues, the games economists play cannot reflect the real world; it is one thing to lie in dollar poker where it is part of the game, it is another thing to lie on your tax return if you think paying your taxes is your patriotic duty, or lying to your boss to get a commission you know you don't deserve, or whatever. The economists I have read (and those who were my professors in undergraduate school) seem unreasonably committed to strictly monetary markets as the shining solution to all the ills of society. But, their models are just plain wrong, time after time when psychologists study actual behavior it defies the model, and the economist says, "Hm," and changes nothing.

kj
12-22-2007, 03:47 PM
Thanks for putting pretty words to my comment. I agree 100%.