Insights du Jour - 2015-01-06

  • Don Boudreaux replies to a self-described "social justice warrior" about freedom of association:

    I do oppose legislation that forces businesses to serve customers that businesses prefer not to serve. My opposition to such legislation doesn’t mean that I look kindly upon such refusals to serve; quite the contrary. Yet I value freedom - including freedom of association - so highly that I find it abhorrent that government forces Jones to associate with Smith when Jones prefers not to associate with Smith. Freedom should be equally available to all peaceful people, including to those who act in ways that we find disagreeable.

    That kind of straightforward defense of liberty is all too rare in today's illiberal climate.

  • Paul Graham recently wrote "Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers in", a pro-immigration essay that (at least) applies to the high-tech area.

    Paul Graham is a brilliant thinker and writer. But he's had a number of critics in this case, among them (equally brilliant) Philip Greenspun, and I think Phil has the slightly better argument.

    And in the middle of Phil's essay, I found this particular gem:

    I’m pretty sure that this is an illustration of my hedge fund manager friend’s mantra: “When the market gives you an answer you don’t like, declare market failure.”

    … a mantra that has much wider application than immigration issues.

    [Today's illustration is one of the leading results for searching "market failure" on Getty Images. Underwater housing market, get it? But certainly it's an example of the hedge fund manager's mantra.]

  • At NRO, Andrew C. McCarthy offers some constructive criticism for the "No Labels" crowd, who want Washington to "work", in order to "solve the nation's problems".

    Our political divide is about principles, not labels. Labels have always been given to sets of principles, but principles and politics have never been mutually exclusive. The practice of politics in a constitutional democracy is, after all, the repetition of a calculation about principle: Knowing that everyone does not agree with me but that I have opportunities to convince them over time, how much can I afford to compromise today such that my principles can advance in the short run and prevail in the long run?

    McCarthy assumes "No Labels" people are earnest and well-meaning, but I'm cynical enough to think they're just trying to obfuscate their motives. McCarthy's closing question is well-posed:

    When I encounter politicians these days, I’m less interested in whether they style themselves as “constitutional conservatives” or “pragmatic progressives”; I want to know: Do you want to make Washington work or work against what Washington has become?"