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  #1  
Old 04-03-2009, 04:16 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

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  #2  
Old 04-03-2009, 04:59 PM
nikkibong nikkibong is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

YESSSS!! KLEIMAN!!!! Thanks bhtv - cant wait to watch this.
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  #3  
Old 04-03-2009, 05:20 PM
Joel_Cairo Joel_Cairo is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Plus, Peter Suderman's triumphant return to BhTV!


(for anyone who sees this post and thinks "wtf?", some background is here.)
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Last edited by Joel_Cairo; 04-04-2009 at 05:31 PM..
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  #4  
Old 04-03-2009, 05:25 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

16 minutes in, Megan's first falsehood.

Grassley said they (AIG execs) should first apologize and then do one of two things either "resign or commit suicide"

Megan distorts what grassley said into the reverse: they should resign or commit suicide and they don't even get the chance to apologize.

come on Megan, i want to like you! stop lying and try to make your points using REALITY.
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2009, 05:56 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Kleinman touts a program for getting jobs for prisoners. it works great because you call employers and tell 'em they can get a minimum wage employee, and the state will ensure they are drug free, and if they don't show for work, back to prison they go!

perfect! modern slavery with every perverse incentive you can imagine for the police to lock people for no good reason.

not to mention that you stealing jobs from law abiding citizens in favor of criminals.

Would it be possible to come up with a worse system?
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  #6  
Old 04-03-2009, 06:21 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Megan,

interesting idea that taxing high earners will displace their labor into lower value things like painting their house etc.

is this a general idea or is their some data that shows the magnitude of this effect or if it actually happens at all?
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  #7  
Old 04-03-2009, 07:15 PM
breadcrust breadcrust is offline
 
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Default Great Moderation: Yeah, Right

Megan,

Interest rates are prices.
Central banks fix interest rates.
Something happens when governments fix prices.

The least you could do is mention the Austrians when discussing the "Great Moderation" (if only to say something snide.)
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  #8  
Old 04-03-2009, 07:38 PM
willmybasilgrow willmybasilgrow is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Sorry, I don't know NYC real well, but isn't saying you grew up on the Upper West Side before it was gentrified like saying you grew up in Beverly Hills before it was gentrified?

Also - Japanese suicide. I will have to youtube Grassley saying whatever he did, but from what I heard of secondhand accounts, he was not so much talking about death and retribution as about shame.

Interesting to be hearing this conversation on a day when 14 people died in yet another spree killing.

"Except for the murders, our crime is going down," (paraphrased) Marion Barry, former DC mayor, while he was mayor during crack/murder epidemic.

Last edited by willmybasilgrow; 04-03-2009 at 08:06 PM..
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  #9  
Old 04-03-2009, 07:44 PM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikkibong View Post
YESSSS!! KLEIMAN!!!! Thanks bhtv - cant wait to watch this.
Seconded. It's nice to know that a real liberal can still get an occasional spot on BHTV. Good to see Megan back, as well. Looking forward to listening to this one.
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  #10  
Old 04-03-2009, 07:55 PM
pampl pampl is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Do we really need faux outrage over jokes about CEOs committing suicide? Jokes are supposed to be outrageous, if you want to complain about that then start by complaining about dead baby jokes and work your way down the list to the poor hurt feelings of the ultra-elite.
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  #11  
Old 04-03-2009, 08:36 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Alcohol Conspiracy?

Connection fail? Or did the alcohol lobby jump in to prevent Mark from finishing his statement? You be the judge:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/187...2:34&out=12:55
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  #12  
Old 04-03-2009, 10:29 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Both of our diavloggers thought that punishing people harshly for possessing child porn was insane/tragic. I'm not sure what the exact penalties are, but apparently the person Megan knows spent 6 months in prison; that doesn't automatically strike me as too harsh.

I mean, would there be such a market if there were no consumers? Perhaps there would, but it seems like it would be smaller. The purchase of child porn, or perhaps the amount of clicks registered on certain sites, presumably count as demand, so there is a supply (or the creation of the supply persists).

(I believe the Supreme Court has said that cartoon drawings do not qualify as child porn. To the extent that we're talking about digital imagines and cartoons and such, I agree with our diavloggers).
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  #13  
Old 04-03-2009, 11:16 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay J View Post
Both of our diavloggers thought that punishing people harshly for possessing child porn was insane/tragic. I'm not sure what the exact penalties are, but apparently the person Megan knows spent 6 months in prison; that doesn't automatically strike me as too harsh.

I mean, would therec be such a market if there were no consumers? Perhaps there would, but it seems like it would be smaller. The purchase of child porn, or perhaps the amount of clicks registered on certain sites, presumably count as demand, so there is a supply (or the creation of the supply persists).

(I believe the Supreme Court has said that cartoon drawings do not qualify as child porn. To the extent that we're talking about digital imagines and cartoons and such, I agree with our diavloggers).
Criminalizing the possession of images seems to me to be about as harsh a rejection of the idea of personal freedom and autonomy as I can imagine. Arguing that the effect justifies the means opens the door to almost anything, in my opinion.
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  #14  
Old 04-04-2009, 12:11 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Kiddie Porn

Quote:
Criminalizing the possession of images seems to me to be about as harsh a rejection of the idea of personal freedom and autonomy as I can imagine. Arguing that the effect justifies the means opens the door to almost anything, in my opinion.
Yes, I agree. The precedent of criminalizing the adult consumption of psychotropic substances -- a horrible and equally insane state intervention -- supplied all the nanny reasoning necessary to criminalize sexual thoughts about minors. Once you've criminalized states of mind ("drugs") it's a slippery slope to criminalizing possession of photos.

Also, there is the long tradition of criminalizing sexual acts like "sodomy" and adultery.

It goes without saying, of course, that any involvement of real children in the production of porn should be banned and the perps should be prosecuted.

I was very happy to see Mark accept some responsibility for the "law and order" monster he helped empower in an earlier incarnation. Perhaps now is the time -- at long last -- to look at how other advanced democracies deal with crime effectively and how they still manage to have incarceration rates not even remotely approaching those of the US.

I lived in Spain for a year and was very impressed with post-Franco criminal justice. This was during the conservative Aznár government, which did nothing to roll back Socialist reforms. Europe, of course, has banned the death penalty, and Spain's maximum sentence for a crime is 30 years. There is no life without parole. Also, the consumption of any drug is not criminalized. But most impressive of all is the European (and civilized, I would say) approach to rehabilitation and life after prison.

It seems those crazy Euros actually believe in not stigmatizing a person for life once s/he has completed the prison sentence. The assumption is that the punishment imposed by the judge is actually the punishment for the crime. When the punishment is over, the person is free. Here, in several states "felons" can't vote, and everywhere they must forever wear the Scarlet F on their foreheads when applying for employment, college enrollment, and so on. Sex offenders are -- as pointed out in the dialogue -- hounded for life.

This last fact is a bit odd in a society which seems to relish the prospect of subjecting men to homosexual gang rape in prison. Perhaps Jay Leno's next soap bar joke can be prosecuted as a thought crime (possession of a gang rape fantasy).
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  #15  
Old 04-04-2009, 02:34 AM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Kiddie Porn

Alan Dershowitz wrote an interesting article on Child Porn laws, years ago in Penthouse I believe. The crux of the argument being: regardless of how distasteful we might find it, how is somebody calling a phone line and listening to an adult pretend to be a child, a criminal act? If no child is actually harmed. It's an interesting question that pushes the boundaries of rights and social norms, and what is an actual threat to the well-being of children and what is just a perverted harmless fantasy. And how do we treat it and on what grounds do we make that decision. Anyways, it was pretty thought-provoking stuff.
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  #16  
Old 04-04-2009, 02:48 AM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Megan doesn't like to see policies that distribute more wealth downwards but doesn't mind policies that distribute wealth upwards. It's pretty simple, Megan is simply pro-welfare...for the wealthy. Also, WTF is she talking about with the CT mansion stuff????
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  #17  
Old 04-04-2009, 02:52 AM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

uncle ebeneezer,

If no child is involved, (like in the case of cartoons, digital images, and adults pretending to be kids), then I don't think anyone is doing any tangible harm (so far as I can tell). I think both diavloggers agreed on that. And I agree with Dershowitz. As do I think AemJeff, Wonderment, and the "Supremes."

AemJeff,

In cases of possessing child porn (and my understanding, as I indicated before, is that cartoon images and the like are not child porn) there are actual children involved. If one believes in the explanatory power of supply and demand, and one is a realist about such explanations, then presumably demand has causal power in terms of what is produced. So the possession of images must have involved the acquisition of images. In acquiring the images, the child porn consumer is creating a situation where actual children will be harmed. Granted, the people who kidnap or coerce or trick the children, along with the producers of the child porn, seem to be a more relevant direct cause. But I do, again, believe that accepting supply and demand as a real explanation involves believing that demand has causal power.

But then again, your use of the word "effect" seemed to acknowledge that, so forgive me for possibly whipping a dead horse.

As for the sentence, "Arguing that the effect justifies the means opens the door to almost anything..."

Forgive me in advance if my style is too dry, but I'm not sure what else ever causes us to employ the means I am suggesting, other than unwanted effects. So I seem to need you to elaborate on that point a bit more.
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  #18  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:06 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
In cases of possessing child porn (and my understanding, as I indicated before, is that cartoon images and the like are not child porn) there are actual children involved. If one believes in the explanatory power of supply and demand, and one is a realist about such explanations, then presumably demand has causal power in terms of what is produced. So the possession of images must have involved the acquisition of images. In acquiring the images, the child porn consumer is creating a situation where actual children will be harmed. Granted, the people who kidnap or coerce or trick the children, along with the producers of the child porn, seem to be a more relevant direct cause. But I do, again, believe that accepting supply and demand as a real explanation involves believing that demand has causal power.
I disagree with this argument on principle, but I also think it's factually flawed. My understanding is that it is illegal to give away or trade kiddie porn. In other words, there may be no commerce involved. That comes awfully close to criminalizing "dirty" thoughts.

It's also disturbing from a libertarian pov to watch the entrapment programs that have become a big success on television. The police or the media or a concerned citizen pose as underage boys and girls to expose, trap and arrest the perpetrator of nothing more tangible than hitting on a police officer.

Similar entrapment schemes have their precedent in busts of "Johns" soliciting fake prostitutes. Where's the crime? Who is the victim?
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  #19  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:13 AM
Markos Markos is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

I do agree with Megan's sympathy for people who are plagued with sexual urges that are illegal. I often think: Who would ask for this sort of problem?
I'm not so sure we should feel morally superior to people with these sorts of problems. It's especially troubling in the care of victims of child molestation who grow up to victimize children in the same way. A guy from my high school class was one such case. He's now in prison for his second time. I wonder how any of us (people with legal sexual interests) would have turned out if we'd endured what he did as a young boy. He has become despicable as a predator of children. But how would any of us have dealt with his lot?
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  #20  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:14 AM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

I also understand that it is illegal to trade kiddie porn, as it is illegal to trade cocaine. It certainly does not follow there is no commerce involving cocaine.

However, if it can be demonstrated that no commerce is involved and the only reason there is child porn is that the producers of it are just sick bastards that enjoy making it, then I will withdraw my argument.

I would like to know more about your dispute with my argument on principle though...

And FWIW, the TV shows you mentioned make my stomach turn. Condemnation makes for great entertainment I guess.

Last edited by Jay J; 04-04-2009 at 04:20 AM..
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  #21  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:27 AM
Markos Markos is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

(In my previous comment I used the word "care" when I meant to say "case.")

One other thing I often think about is how would any of us have reacted if we had had the horrendous childhood that Saddam Hussein had? He became a monster, but how many of us would have been able to not become monsters if we'd been raised the way he was?
And this leads me always into questions of whether we really do have free will, etc. While we often need to take action for "good" over "evil", it does often seem like truth, justice and morality is more of a crapshoot than it ought to be.
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  #22  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:39 AM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Your post makes me think of my recent puzzling, (due to a metaphysics class), over counterfactuals. By no means have I solved the problem, but I do believe I will stop saying things like,

"I wouldn't do that if I were you,"

because, after all, if I was them, I would do exactly what they did, because I would be them.

As for whether I would be just like them had I been born in their situation and raised exactly like they were, I kinda doubt it:

I guess I don't accept the tabula rosa whole hog, and am persuaded that there's some inborn apparatus that gives us a cognitive tool bag starting out. Of course, it doesn't follow that we are dissimilar, because we could all have the same tool bag!

But I believe that genetic differences are relevant right off the bat, so I can't say I would be just like Saddam Hussein. But one thing is for sure, I wouldn't be the "me" I am right now. I would be a completely different me, which makes me wonder if it's legit to use "I" or "me" to refer to whoever that person would be, if "he" (in this case my DNA requires this) had been born into a situation like Saddam Hussein's. I'm not sure when I would stop being me, or of how much of a difference it would take for it to not be me. Where's the line? I don't know, but it would be somewhere before I had lived Saddam Hussein's life.

BTW, maybe I can continue to say "If you continue on this path, consequence X is going to happen, and you don't want that." That may lose some rhetorical power, but I certainly no longer believe I would know what I was talking about if I said (and meant it) that I would do something differently than another person if I were her/him.

Last edited by Jay J; 04-04-2009 at 06:07 AM..
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  #23  
Old 04-04-2009, 08:59 AM
atlas1882 atlas1882 is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by x9#z6 View Post
Megan doesn't like to see policies that distribute more wealth downwards but doesn't mind policies that distribute wealth upwards. It's pretty simple, Megan is simply pro-welfare...for the wealthy. Also, WTF is she talking about with the CT mansion stuff????
I'm not sure where you came up with the interpretation that Megan condones policies which distribute the tax receipts of lower income individuals to higher income individuals. I must have missed that part of the diavlog.

With respect to the argument involving the CT mansion, I agree that the conversation was a bit confused, but I actually think Megan was making an extremely important and valid point, namely, that while money is fungible, capital is heterogeneous. Here's another example in two parts that might help clarify the point: First, lets say that GM owns several manufacturing facilities in Detroit that they wish to sell. Lets also hypothesize that there are three potential buyers interested in the properties: Toyota, Maytag, Visa. Each of those three potential buyers is going to value the GM property at different levels. The facilities are going to be more valuable to Toyota since the modifications that they will have to make to the machinery to configure it to produce their models will be small compared to Maytag who will have to replace much of the infrastructure to move from producing cars to producing washing machines. Lastly, Visa, who may only be interested in the location of the land underneath will place an even lower value on it since they will likely have to raze the entire structure and replace it to accommodate their new service center. Megan's point with respect to taxing the income of the extremely affluent is similar: the income you are taking was previously invested in a particular mix of goods and services that is unlikely to correspond to mix you would prefer to replace it with. For instance, lets say you are going to take an additional $1 billion from Warren Buffet and plan to use it to provide medical services for the homeless. Megan's argument is that you will not get $1 billion worth of medical services at their current price unless Warren Buffet was already spending that money on the same type of medical services you preferred to begin with. If instead he was spending that money on luxury yachts, you have now eliminated the demand for those yachts which will likely translate into layoffs for the shipbuilders, but the resources you have displaced are not set up to provide the services you want: shipbuilders aren't doctors. In order to get doctors to provide even more medical services than they were providing prior to the Buffet tax, you will have to pay them more money. If they were working 30 hours a week before, and you want them to work 40 hours a week now, chances are that you will have to increase their salary to considerably more than 33% higher than it's previous level because the combination of the diminishing marginal utility of income and the higher marginal tax rates that they will face.

I agree that the concept is not as easy to understand as some others in economics, but it is this type of dilemma that rests at the heart of the inability of central planners to coordinate economic activity through fiat. The free market won't deliver a perfect allocation of resources, but it will do a better job than any available alternative, because only a free market can efficiently create reliable information regarding people's preferences.
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  #24  
Old 04-04-2009, 10:11 AM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay J View Post
uncle ebeneezer,

If no child is involved, (like in the case of cartoons, digital images, and adults pretending to be kids), then I don't think anyone is doing any tangible harm (so far as I can tell). I think both diavloggers agreed on that. And I agree with Dershowitz. As do I think AemJeff, Wonderment, and the "Supremes."

AemJeff,

In cases of possessing child porn (and my understanding, as I indicated before, is that cartoon images and the like are not child porn) there are actual children involved. If one believes in the explanatory power of supply and demand, and one is a realist about such explanations, then presumably demand has causal power in terms of what is produced. So the possession of images must have involved the acquisition of images. In acquiring the images, the child porn consumer is creating a situation where actual children will be harmed. Granted, the people who kidnap or coerce or trick the children, along with the producers of the child porn, seem to be a more relevant direct cause. But I do, again, believe that accepting supply and demand as a real explanation involves believing that demand has causal power.

But then again, your use of the word "effect" seemed to acknowledge that, so forgive me for possibly whipping a dead horse.

As for the sentence, "Arguing that the effect justifies the means opens the door to almost anything..."

Forgive me in advance if my style is too dry, but I'm not sure what else ever causes us to employ the means I am suggesting, other than unwanted effects. So I seem to need you to elaborate on that point a bit more.
"Causal power" is an awfully slippery idea. Somebody engaging in the perfectly legal act of collecting porn images is made a criminal because among those images is a sixteen-year-old girl? At how many removes is our "causal power" deemed to have attentuated below the threshhold of criminality? Should a collector of vintage child porn be subjected to the same laws as somebody who demands only contemporary stuff? What about a documentarian collecting such images, what culpability has he?

Forcing children to engage in depraved acts is not morally comparable to viewing images of those acts. Distinguishing between "innocent" viewing and less forgivable forms requires effectively criminalizing states of mind. That is an endeavor regarding which I think free societies ought to have extreme care.

It's also important to consider the specific problem of highly emotionally charged areas of law trampling on real legal rights because it's so easy to demagogue [oops, there I go verbing a noun!] such charged issues.
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Last edited by AemJeff; 04-04-2009 at 12:02 PM.. Reason: "how many" not "how may"
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  #25  
Old 04-04-2009, 10:28 AM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay J View Post

If no child is involved, (like in the case of cartoons, digital images, and adults pretending to be kids), then I don't think anyone is doing any tangible harm (so far as I can tell). I think both diavloggers agreed on that. And I agree with Dershowitz. As do I think AemJeff, Wonderment, and the "Supremes."
It is possible that my memory is faulty, but I think you will find that the courts have ruled that any sexual representation of someone younger than the state-specified acceptable age is illegal. It does not matter whether that representation is of an actual person below that age, consists of CGI, or involves older persons who are deemed to look, act, dress, or otherwise be presented as being below that age.
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  #26  
Old 04-04-2009, 12:08 PM
x9#z6 x9#z6 is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

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Originally Posted by atlas1882 View Post
I'm not sure where you came up with the interpretation that Megan condones policies which distribute the tax receipts of lower income individuals to higher income individuals. I must have missed that part of the diavlog.
Government policies that both encourage the growth of asset bubbles and provide implicit and explicit insurance policies for market bets gone sour, effectively distribute wealth upwards (look at the recent Geitner plan, it's clear as day). Megan claims to not be against people who get rich making such bets...but this doesn't happen in a vacuum, their wealth comes at the expense of others.
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  #27  
Old 04-04-2009, 12:13 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
"Causal power" is an awfully slippery idea. Somebody engaging in the perfectly legal act of collecting porn images is made a criminal because among those images is a sixteen-year-old girl? At how may removes is our "causal power" deemed to have attentuated below the threshhold of criminality? Should a collector of vintage child porn be subjected to the same laws as somebody who demands only contemporary stuff? What about a documentarian collecting such images, what culpability has he?

Forcing children to engage in depraved acts is not morally comparable to viewing images of those acts. Distinguishing between "innocent" viewing and less forgivable forms requires effectively criminalizing states of mind. That is an endeavor regarding which I think free societies ought to have extreme care.

It also important to consider the specific problem of highly emotionally charged areas of law trampling on real legal rights because it's so easy to demagogue [oops, there I go verbing a noun!] such charged issues.
Well if causal power is all that slippery, then we would have a problem prosecuting even those who do the actual forcing or tricking of the children into doing the porn. But if you allow me good old fashioned common sense about causation, then it seems like we can distinguish the differences in serious between not only the producers of and the consumers of child porn, but we could also distinguish between the person who has one image of a sixteen year old girl and one who has 300 images of girls who are between the ages of 3 and 10. I mean, we're gonna have problems knowing where to draw the lines any time we make such distinctions, but we can seek to avoid the effects nonetheless if we deem it harmful enough.

In this case I think having 300 images of children between the ages of 3 and 10 suggest more than simple viewing and more than an accidental download or what have you, and I believe it's not hard to conclude that the category of people fitting the description of having copious amounts of porn involving very young children are creating a demand for such material (assuming it is not shown that no economic incentives are involved at all). That doesn't seem like particularly novel reasoning to me. If your concern is about where to draw the line, well we always have the concern it seems, but we decide that certain sociological activities need to be banned and their results avoided, so we employ the means of punishment, how else does it work?

If your original argument about violating personal autonomy is correct, then presumably we could have the argument about whether obvious cases of rampant child porn consumption should be punished (like the way Megan's acquaintance was punished) without worrying about where to draw the line. We could have this "in principle" argument, and then you could still balk at agreeing with me full stop because you would be too worried about punishing too many relative innocents.

But setting that aside for a moment, the balancing act will always be between protecting rights and trying to provide to a disincentive; and again, I don't know any other way we do it besides employing certain means to avoid a certain effect, but I allow that I may be missing something big.
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  #28  
Old 04-04-2009, 12:19 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

My bad. I went sniffing around after reading your post, and you're right.

What I remembered was a 2002 Supreme Court decision saying virtual child porn was not illegal, but I found the 2008 decision where the 2002 decision was effectively nullified, so I recant. I see a clear distinction between downloading cartoon images and ones of real children.
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  #29  
Old 04-04-2009, 12:41 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

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Originally Posted by Jay J View Post
Well if causal power is all that slippery, then we would have a problem prosecuting even those who do the actual forcing or tricking of the children into doing the porn. But if you allow me good old fashioned common sense about causation, then it seems like we can distinguish the differences in serious between not only the producers of and the consumers of child porn, but we could also distinguish between the person who has one image of a sixteen year old girl and one who has 300 images of girls who are between the ages of 3 and 10. I mean, we're gonna have problems knowing where to draw the lines any time we make such distinctions, but we can seek to avoid the effects nonetheless if we deem it harmful enough.

In this case I think having 300 images of children between the ages of 3 and 10 suggest more than simple viewing and more than an accidental download or what have you, and I believe it's not hard to conclude that the category of people fitting the description of having copious amounts of porn involving very young children are creating a demand for such material (assuming it is not shown that no economic incentives are involved at all). That doesn't seem like particularly novel reasoning to me. If your concern is about where to draw the line, well we always have the concern it seems, but we decide that certain sociological activities need to be banned and their results avoided, so we employ the means of punishment, how else does it work?

If your original argument about violating personal autonomy is correct, then presumably we could have the argument about whether obvious cases of rampant child porn consumption should be punished (like the way Megan's acquaintance was punished) without worrying about where to draw the line. We could have this "in principle" argument, and then you could still balk at agreeing with me full stop because you would be too worried about punishing too many relative innocents.

But setting that aside for a moment, the balancing act will always be between protecting rights and trying to provide to a disincentive; and again, I don't know any other way we do it besides employing certain means to avoid a certain effect, but I allow that I may be missing something big.
Either we believe in absolute freedom of thought or we don't. I can think and write about any vile act I want and I'm shielded by the constitution(*). I can read any text document describing any real act committed against an existing person, and I'm still protected by that shield. The moment I choose to participate in the commission of such an act, I've left my constitutional protection behind. I don't see any difference in principle between that and what we're discussing here. If you're involved in the commission of a crime, it doesn't matter if you're a tertiary participant. Passive contact with the result of that crime is not the same thing. And there's no principle that I'm aware of that voids the constitutional shield based on content.

We agree, of course, about balancing. But, criminalizing the viewing or possession of arrangements of pixels, regardless of their provenance, strikes me as beyond an inviolate boundary.

Trafficking is a separate issue for me. But, I'd still argue that consumers can't be treated as if they bear the same degree of culpability as distributors. I think there's a nuanced argument available in this case such that laws can be designed to pressure consumers to reveal specific sources, in cases where it can be proved that money changed hands; but, I doubt that I'm smart enough to really flesh that thought out.

As a general rule, I should say, I find that arguments based on a view of "common sense" too vague to assure me that they're meaningful.

Also, I do worry about this sort of law not only creating a lot of innocent victims, but becoming a tool, a means to circumvent constitutional protections - the camel's nose of tyranny.

(*) Added: The exception to that is, of course, a specific threat.
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Last edited by AemJeff; 04-04-2009 at 01:27 PM..
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:04 PM
uncle ebeneezer uncle ebeneezer is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Jay, I forgot to mention: I actually haven't listened to the diavlog yet so I wasn't responding to them in particular, but reading the comments reminded me of that Dershowitz article, which I remember being pretty good for Penthouse (some really DO read the articles!!) Dershowitz also was wading into the threat of "though-crime" type policies by extension of the example I mentioned earlier.
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:31 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

AemJeff,

I never meant to imply that the consumer was as *criminally* culpable as the producer, only that there is causal power in demand (I would wish for the producers of such material to spend more time in jail than Megan's acquaintance, who was a consumer). If it is the case that demand is created and/or stoked by consumption, (if it isn't, then my argument fails on factual grounds, but assuming there is demand created/stoked), then it is not as if these pictures just exist already prepared to view on everyone's computer screen. They don't, one needs to acquire them first. It is this acquisition that I am hypothesizing that has causal power.

I don't believe that the consumption of child porn is simply a thought, it involves a transaction (which may or may not involve money) in which the consumer acquires the image. People can and should be free to imagine children doing whatever they want in their own heads, and do it till the cows come home... but that is not all they do when they acquire child porn (which, if I were king, would not include virtual images).

Last edited by Jay J; 04-04-2009 at 02:36 PM..
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:52 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay J View Post
AemJeff,

I never meant to imply that the consumer was as *criminally* culpable as the producer, only that there is causal power in demand (I would wish for the producers of such material to spend more time in jail than Megan's acquaintance, who was a consumer). If it is the case that demand is created and/or stoked by consumption, (if it isn't, then my argument fails on factual grounds, but assuming there is demand created/stoked), then it is not as if these pictures just exist already prepared to view on everyone's computer screen. They don't, one needs to acquire them first. It is this acquisition that I am hypothesizing that has causal power.

I don't believe that the consumption of child porn is simply a thought, it involved a transaction (which may or may not involve money) in which the consumer acquires the image. People can and should be free to imagine children doing whatever they want in their own heads, and do it till the cows come home... but that is not all they do when they acquire child porn.
Ok, Jay. I don't argue about the existence of causal power in the case we're discussing. I just deny that it's a sufficient justification for criminal penalties. If that latter really isn't what you're saying, then we I think our disagreement in that regard is probably pretty marginal.

I do argue that the distinction you characterize as "People can and should be free to imagine children doing whatever they want in their own heads, and do it till the cows come home... but that is not all they do when they acquire child porn" is too ambiguous, and the judgment requires what I believe is unacceptably intrusive hypothesizing about the content of a person's private thoughts. I gave examples a couple of posts ago to illustrate that point.
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:04 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Porn, drugs and guns

Quote:
I never meant to imply that the consumer was as *criminally* culpable as the producer, only that there is causal power in demand (I would wish for the producers of such material to spend more time in jail than Megan's acquaintance, who was a consumer).
Would you imprison smokers of tobacco? We already fine them with "sin" taxes. Surely smokers exert causal power with their demand. They jack up end-of-life health care costs which arguably devastates our economy and prevents (to some extent) better health care for children.

You might argue that tobacco is legal. Then we can look at Mushrooms or Peyote. Causal Power #1 says I can grow some plants in my yard and eat them to make me feel better and to pursue my spiritual life and the health of my mind. The state says, "No, we can control your states of mind."

Quote:
I don't believe that the consumption of child porn is simply a thought, it involves a transaction (which may or may not involve money) in which the consumer acquires the image.
Like reading a newspaper.

I'd also be curious about your views on causal agents who purchase "legal" lethal weapons and end up committing mass murder on innocent civilians as happened in New York yesterday.
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  #34  
Old 04-04-2009, 03:07 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

AemJeff,

I hope I'm not belaboring a marginal point, but I'm not sure what's ambiguous. If I am correct, then the production of child porn is not motivated only because the producers enjoy doing it (although this can be a part) but because they know people will view/consume the porn.

A person sitting in their living room thinking sexual thoughts about children is not exercising any causal power. The person who makes a click (with or without making a purchase) is exercising causal power, so I don't see the ambiguity, at least not in principle.

As for whether the causal power is sufficient for criminal penalties, I don't see how there is going to be a way to argue about that. To me these consumers are creating and/or stoking demand, which causes more production of supply. This seems like a sufficient standard for criminal penalties. If we disagree on that, I don't guess there's anything more to say about it, it's just that I dispute that we're simply talking about legislating thought. If you acquire child porn, you influence the causal chain, that is my justification for punishment, (because we should be so concerned with stopping the production of child porn in particular, not that contributing causally to every social harm is sufficient condition for punishment).

Last edited by Jay J; 04-04-2009 at 03:28 PM..
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:26 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
 
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Default Re: Porn, drugs and guns

Wonderment,

PREEMPTIVE EDIT: This is from my most recent reply to AemJeff, which I think said it better than the entirety of the following post, so hopefully it will be read with this is mind:

"If you acquire child porn, you influence the causal chain, that is my justification for punishment, (because we should be so concerned with stopping the production of child porn in particular, not that contributing causally to every social harm is sufficient condition for punishment)."

I don't view the results you mention from smoking as being as devastating as child porn. Maybe my factual view is skewed, but my reasoning is based on the moral outrage surrounding child porn and its production. As for mushrooms as the like, sorry but I don't see an analogy there at all. I'm all for mushrooms, I don't see the big harm there.

As for your question about guns, I'm not sure I understand it. I mean, as it reads, I think people who kill others should be put away (though I'm not big on the death penalty). But I imagine you mean something different, like law abiding gun purchasers who contribute to the production of guns that are then used in murders. Ok so in the case of guns, I don't see each transaction as involved something horrible. Most don't involve violence at all, whereas if you assume my argument about the causal power of child porn consumption, then each child porn transaction is pernicious. Sure, if I were designing a society from scratch, I would probably make the gun laws much more strict. As it stands, the Supreme Court, and one of our major political parties, believes the 2nd Amendment confers the right to own a gun almost unconditionally, so the zeitgeist is pretty heavily influenced by that.

But in the case of child porn, virtually no one is for it, it's just that we have other concerns about the legitimacy of punishing its consumption. What I am saying is that each instance child porn is a token of something coercive and horrible, which isn't the case with smoking or gun owning. To engage in the causal chain of child porn is to engage in something violent and pernicious from beginning to end, whereas owning a gun isn't, at least not necessarily.

So the fact that there is a causal chain that consumers participate in which results in social harms is not, like, the necessary and sufficient condition for outlawing something, I don't think, and I don't believe I've said that. I think in the case of child porn, however, it's something so non-redeeming, that to participate in the causal chain is to be partially responsible for its continues existence. True enough, the same is true with guns, but I don't think my argument is simply one of form and no content; the causal chain is not an essence that can be distilled and applied equally everywhere. It depends on how throughly bad, or irredeemable, a particular social activity is.

To reiterate, if I had my way, we would go back in time and re-work the kinds of weapons civilians could get their hands on. A plausible argument to me on the 2nd Amendment is that citizens have access to the kinds of weapons private citizens during the founding generation did. Stuff you normally use to hunt with, not what was held in common, which was the stuff you could go to war with.

Last edited by Jay J; 04-04-2009 at 03:31 PM..
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:27 PM
osmium osmium is offline
 
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

Talking about prison sentences lengthening--the effect of the drug war inflation on all sentences.

Every time I hear about someone going away for drugs via, say, the Rockefeller laws in NY, I think about reading Solzhenitsyn, where you hear a lot about prison sentences.

Almost all of the gulag sentences were for 5 or 10 years. Of course, this could be in a relatively easy situation or at hard labor in Siberia, but regardless, that's how long sentences were. At some point Stalin comes up with the genius idea of a 25-year sentence--a "quarter"--and the prisoners talk about this like the cruelest, most inhumane idea a devil of a man could have.

So 25 years for drugs--I think that's nuts considering Stalin could give you ten years for murder.
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Old 04-04-2009, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: Something Epic (Mark Kleiman & Megan McArdle)

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Originally Posted by osmium View Post
Talking about prison sentences lengthening--the effect of the drug war inflation on all sentences.

Every time I hear about someone going away for drugs via, say, the Rockefeller laws in NY, I think about reading Solzhenitsyn, where you hear a lot about prison sentences.

Almost all of the gulag sentences were for 5 or 10 years. Of course, this could be in a relatively easy situation or at hard labor in Siberia, but regardless, that's how long sentences were. At some point Stalin comes up with the genius idea of a 25-year sentence--a "quarter"--and the prisoners talk about this like the cruelest, most inhumane idea a devil of a man could have.

So 25 years for drugs--I think that's nuts considering Stalin could give you ten years for murder.
There may be some hope for rationality:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/ny...ckefeller.html
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:18 PM
Ottorino Ottorino is offline
 
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Default solitary

For me the most surprising bit was Megan's thought that being in solitary confinement for a few days might be more horrifying than being beaten. Really? What's so scary about being alone with yourself? Why not enjoy the solitude and meditate?
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:25 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ottorino View Post
For me the most surprising bit was Megan's thought that being in solitary confinement for a few days might be more horrifying than being beaten. Really? What's so scary about being alone with yourself? Why not enjoy the solitude and meditate?
I initially had a similar reaction. Then I thought that perhaps sensory deprivation would drive people crazy. And then I thought that what would make it really terrifying would be if people didn't know for how long they would be under those conditions.

Solitude and meditation as you suggest, are enjoyed when they are voluntary activities. I guess meditation could be used to alleviate the effects of forced isolation.
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Old 04-04-2009, 04:28 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: solitary

Quote:
For me the most surprising bit was Megan's thought that being in solitary confinement for a few days might be more horrifying than being beaten. Really? What's so scary about being alone with yourself? Why not enjoy the solitude and meditate?
Have you tried it under conditions of coercion?

Here are some references on the damage caused by solitary confinement (euphemistically known as "Security Housing" or "Special Housing") from the "solitary confinement" entry on Wikipedia:

1. Solitary Confinement Torture In The U.S. - Kerness, Bonnie; National Coordinator of the 'National Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons', 1998

4. Trend toward solitary confinement worries experts - Tyre, Peg; U.S. News, Friday 9 January 1998

5. Stuart Grassian Psychiatric effects of solitary confinement (redacted, non-institution and non-inmate specific version of a declaration submitted in September 1993 in Madrid v. Gomez, 889F.Supp.1146. California, USA. Accessed 2008-06-18.)

6. Grassian Psychopathological effects of solitary confinement American Journal of Psychiatry Online 1983; 140: 1450-1454

7. Haney Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and "Supermax" Confinement, Crime Delinquency. 2003; 49: 124-156

8. Karen Franklin Segregation Psychosis (from the author's private website, with further references. Accessed 2008-06-18.)

9. Harold I. Schwartz, Death Row Syndrome and Demoralization: Psychiatric Means to Social Policy Ends J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 33:2:153-155 (2005)
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