• martinbrock

    The debate is interesting, but the breadth of the subject leaves much room for the sort of hand waving that changes few minds. On the two specific issues you address, child labor and kidney markets, the arguments were more substantive, but of the two, only the child labor arguments clashed more than a little, since Satz seems skeptical of her own opposition to kidney markets.

    On child labor, I thought you more persuasive, but I also share your ideological predisposition.

    I also thought that the two academics take too much for granted. What’s the alternative to “child labor”? Children prancing in sunny meadows all day? No. The alternative typically is some sort of compulsory education, locking children in a room full of other children listening to an academic flap her lips for hours every day.

    Why is this occupation of a child’s time better for the child than working as an apprentice with some skilled craftsman? Even where a child works in a factory, factory work typically is more skilled and less mindless than a Chaplin movie suggests.

    Why is subjection to the academic not “labor”, and why is subjection to the commercial tradesman not educational? Why isn’t subjection to the tradesman more educational?

    Any why is child labor an all or nothing proposition? Why can’t children spend a few hours listening to the academic flap her lips and then go off to the factory? Poor working conditions? Poor working conditions are not unique to child labor, and conditions in an educational institution can also be alienating or even hazardous. Why assume that only working for wages benefiting a child’s family might harm the child?

  • Sean II

    God bless you, Matt. I would have let loose some nasty, if my opponent kept pretending to be deaf whenever the words “public choice” were uttered, most especially when she dismissed that vast revolution in understanding how political actors behave as “you know, some examples…”.

    This I find to be a very reliable rule of thumb: when someone gives you multiple excuses, they are almost certainly lying. If a friend says “Sorry, I can’t make your wedding. I have to work that week.”, they may be lying or they may be telling the truth. You can’t really tell. But when someone says “Sorry, I can’t make your wedding. I have to work, my car is acting up, and my grandma could go at any moment”, it usually means they are trying to bulk up and improve on what they themselves know to be a bullshit story.

    The same applies, I think, when it comes to Satz’s intellectual honesty in that debate. The striking thing about the arguments she presents is how disconnected they are (not just from economic reality but) from each other:

    Child labor is bad because kids should be in school. Also, it has nothing to do with poverty because in 1246… Child labor should be banned because that will drive up the price of adult labor. Also, some things just shouldn’t be for sale. Child labor is bad because it makes kids servile and humiliates them, unlike school which is good…because it makes kids servile and humiliates them, and also because it makes parents feel humiliated for being late at pick-up time. Banning child labor is no problem because, hey…there are always winners and losers in everything, am I right? Child labor is bad because markets are just yucky…Willie Loman, anyone? Finally, let me conclude with this blockbuster: “we liberals are less skeptical than you when it comes to thinking the state can do good.”

    • Sean II

      Oh, and for the benefit of anyone who didn’t hear the podcast…

      …I’m suggesting that Matt’s opponent very obviously started with her conclusion (child labor = ban-tastic!) firmly in hand and then worked backwards with no intention other than to tighten her grip, gathering up whatever seemed helpful to the purpose, in a very-not-philosophical way.

      I’m also suggesting that conclusion is not of recent vintage for her. Probably Satz’s policy wishes today overlap 98% of her policy wishes at age 16, when she was away at summer camp with Allison Portchnik.

      I wonder how often this is true of leftist intellectuals? How many of them were leftists before they became intellectual? How many of them were ever anything else?

      One cool thing about libertarians – you know, other than David Friedman and Rand Paul – is we almost always started out as something else. So you can be sure, at least, that we know what it means to discard a bad idea.

      But many non-libertarians, even world-class intellectuals, can go their whole life without ever breaking away from the broad outlines of what mom & dad believed.