27 May 2010

Distinctions with a Difference

"Capitalism" and the "free market" has come in for a lot of criticism recently. Thomas Frank in the WSJ, for example, calls our recent economic problems "a cataclysmic series of market failures." But a proper prescription first requires a proper diagnosis; similarly, one should properly identify what capitalism and the free market are before undertaking to criticize them. Frank's analysis, as well as that of many others, indicates that there are some important distinctions to be drawn.

24 May 2010

Football and the Military Academies

The University of Chicago ended its powerhouse D-I football program in 1946 because it was becoming too much of a distraction from academic excellence. Should the military academies do the same today?

23 May 2010

The Real "Randslide"?

If Rand Paul is really a racist, does that mean that the Tea Party is really a racist organization? If the Tea Party is really a racist organization, does that mean their concerns--particularly their concerns about America's fiscal situation--are unworthy of serious consideration? If their concerns are unworthy of serious consideration, does that mean that America will not make the difficult and painful decisions it seems it needs to to avoid fiscal collapse? If America doesn't make those difficult and painful decisions and faces fiscal collapse, does that mean we face global fiscal collapse?

Talk about a butterfly effect!

17 May 2010

The Marketplace of Ideas Is Imperfect

Markets fail--all markets, not just economic markets--because perfect competition never obtains. The failures of the "marketplace of ideas" imposes, I argue, particular obligations on academics, because one central plank in the academic's code of professional ethics is to seek truth above all else. I argue the two obligations it imposes on us are: (1) to encourage and nurture people presenting propositions or worldviews that call our own into question, and (2), where such people are not forthcoming, to take up those contrarian positions ourselves, to the best of our ability.

I make the case here.

13 May 2010

State Aggression and Defensive Action

Can non-violent state encroachment on individual liberty, or other non-violent action of the state, ever rise to the level of bona fide aggression? Can it ever justify defensive, even violent defensive, action? Possibly.

08 May 2010

Quick Hits

Some quick thoughts on Governor Chris Christie, debt and Frederic Bastiat, The Economist magazine, and steroid use in the NFL and in MLB.

07 May 2010

03 May 2010

Arizona and the Genetic Fallacy

Are both the supporters and opponents of the Arizona immigration law committing the "genetic fallacy" of supporting (or criticizing) a law because of the motivations that gave rise to it, instead of on the basis of the law's merits (or demerits) themselves? Jack Weinstein raises this as an open question. I believe they are indeed committing the fallacy, or at least some of them are.

01 May 2010

Bullish or Bearish on the United States?

If you had to put all your chips on the prospects of a single country's prosperity over the next 100 years, which country would it be? Would you pick the United States? It pains me to say that I am not sure I would.