Donald J. Boudreaux takes a side trip from Cafe Hayek to
visit AIER, and tells us
Three Biggest Myths about Political Economy. Number one is…
The most pernicious of all Big Myths is that the economy and society – or, at least, any economy that is productive, and any society that is good – are the conscious creation of the state. Classical-liberal scholars have fought for centuries against this social-creationist myth. In the 18th century Adam Smith celebrated the market’s invisible hand and warned against the “man of system” who arrogantly fancies that he (or she) can rearrange flesh-and-blood people in society as a chess player rearranges inert pawns and princes on a chess board.
In the 19th century Herbert Spencer observed that nearly all legislative schemes for uplifting society are doomed to fail because “[t]hey have their root in the error that society is a manufacture; whereas it is a growth.” In the 20th century F.A. Hayek repeatedly insisted on the vital importance of recognizing that while modern society and the economy are indeed the results of human action, they are not – and cannot possibly be – the results of human design.
In the 21st century this essential truth is emphasized and explained eloquently by a host of brilliant scholars, including, for example, Steve Davies, Richard Epstein, Deirdre McCloskey, Tom Palmer, Matt Ridley, and Mario Rizzo.
Yet this Big Myth seems only to spread and strengthen. Listening to politicians, and reading everything from popular punditry to much seemingly deep scholarship, makes clear that large numbers of people – I dare say most – conceive of social order, economic growth, and widespread prosperity as being unobtainable unless engineered into existence by the state.
The other two (click over to read in full): "You didn't build that!"; and "the will of the people."
Will small policy tweaks fix Facebook? At National Review,
Kevin D. Williamson provides the answer: nope.
Facebook & Free Speech: Small Policy Tweaks Won’t Fix Social-Media Giant.
That much is obvious from Facebook’s own peculiar selectivity. The figures that Facebook and other social-media companies have blacklisted include most prominently gadflies and media entrepreneurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer — who are straight-up dopes, rodeo clowns rather than storm troopers. These people are not excluded from Facebook because they present a danger to anything other than good taste; they are excluded because they are unpopular — or, to be more precise, because they are unfashionable. Hosting Milo Yiannopoulos on your site is an offense against fashion and the community of shared taste — he’s a Nickelback T-shirt worn unironically. His function is purely semiotic, and objections to him are hardly rooted in scrupulosity about matters of fact or logic. Why do you think the Washington Post prints paeans to science and horoscopes in the same newspaper? The animating energy in these matters comes from social allegiance, not from the careful application of reason.
Damn, he's good. The bottom line: Facebook will continue to be mired in hypocrisy and controversy until it figures out how to radically (and honestly) reconstruct its core concepts. Good luck, Zuck.
Jonah Goldberg's column this week:
Column: Republicans got Trump to abandon his plan for hosting the G-7. There's a lesson there.
Most conservatives try to focus on Trump’s results rather than on the president himself. Republicans like his judicial appointments, tax cuts, deregulation. And his support for culture war priorities like the 2nd Amendment and abortion have also kept conservatives on board. They simply tune out the price the party and the country has paid for these “wins.”
But there’s a part of the equation that has been forgotten. Thanks in part to the polarized climate, the near-banishment of critical voices from pro-Trump media outlets and the psychological need to defend the leader of their “side,” conservatives forget that many of these wins are the result Trump’s hand having been forced in a political transaction. Until Trump launched his hostile takeover of the GOP, he was pro-choice, pro-gun control and utterly unconcerned about fidelity to the Constitution. He became pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment because that was the price of widespread conservative support. He agreed to outsource his judicial appointments to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation precisely because no one trusted his judgment.
Once elected, however, Trump used his ability to influence his core supporters -- who have outsize power in primaries to punish GOP critics. By taking the scalps of politicians like former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, he also took the spines of countless others. As a result, the GOP lost control of the House in 2018 and may be on the cusp of losing the Senate and the presidency in 2020.
The only (speculative) good news is that it could be a replay of 1976, when we tossed the keys to Jimmy Carter, who mucked things up so badly that we got Ronnie in 1980.
At Cato, Neal McCluskey
Hot Take: Elizabeth Warren’s K-12 Education Plan.
This morning, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released her plan, or at least its general contours, for K-12 education. There are a few marginal positives in it, but for the most part, at least based on my first, quick reading, it is exactly what you’d expect: spend a lot and attack school choice. All this while ignoring the Constitution, which simply does not authorize the vast majority of what Warren wants to do.
It would be news if Liz had a proposal that was in line with the Constitution.