Economics, Consequentialism

When Libertarians Cry

Much has been written about Jonathan Haidt’s work on the psychology of political identity and the ways in which libertarians differ from liberals and conservatives.  He found, among other things, that self-described libertarians have a more cerebral as opposed to emotional intellectual style.  He also found that libertarians score high on “systematizing” and low on “empathizing,” the combination of which is associated with a more “masculine” cognitive style, and, in the extreme, autism.  Haidt and his co-authors concluded that:  “Libertarians are high in Openness to Experience and seem to enjoy effortful and thoughtful cognitive tasks. In combination with low levels of emotional reactivity, the highly rational nature of libertarians may lead them to a logical, rather than emotional, system of morality.”

And this certainly fits a broader stereotype of libertarians as being “cold” and “rational” and “calculating” when it comes to all kinds of issues, but especially social policy.  Of all the sub-species of homo libertus, the economist might be the most likely to match this perception.  And it goes without saying that the male of that sub-species might well be the distilled essence of Haidt’s results.  If there were ever a creature that embodied Haidt’s description of libertarians as moral beings, it would seem to be the male libertarian economist.

To the extent this is true, it has to confront an interesting empirical observation I’ve noted recently.  A number of my male libertarian economist friends have, independently, told me that there is a video that brings them to tears when they watch it, and especially when they show it to student groups.  I have had that reaction to the video as well. What could possibly crack our cold, calculating exteriors?  It’s the video below.  If you haven’t watched “Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine,” you should.  And you shouldn’t read the rest of this post until you do.

[ted id=1101]

Yes, those heartless libertarian male economists report getting choked up and teary-eyed when they show this video to students.  The interesting question is why.  What is it about those 9 minutes, and especially the last 90 seconds or so, that elicits all the emotion and empathy from Haidt’s masculine calculating machines?

I have a hypothesis, but first I want to note that the emotional reaction to this video suggests that Haidt’s story is probably over-simplified.  In fact libertarians are capable of empathy and emotion in their moral reasoning, and I would argue that we are better at what we do and make better arguments to others when we let emotions in (or out) and figure out how to harness them for constructive purposes.  Libertarians are totally capable of linking morality and emotions, but the link, I suspect, is somewhat more indirect than it is for other groups.

What gets me about that video is the way Rosling captures an abstract intellectual argument about the power of markets and industrialization to improve people’s lives.  He uses a very concrete, emotionally rich example that combines our wanting to root for an underdog with a clear example of how markets have liberated both immigrants and women to live more flourishing lives.  We talk a lot about GDP per capita and human capital accumulation and women’s labor force participation rates.  But it is the idea that industrialization and capitalism made it possible for women to be freed from drudgery and to have the time to read and learn a new language and everything else that has characterized the dramatic improvement in women’s lives in the last century or more that really matters.  Critics of markets sometimes say “you can’t eat GDP.” What they miss is that you can’t eat, or learn to read, or go to school, or leave a bad marriage, or do pretty much any of the basics that we might see as required for a flourishing life without the wealth and time created by the market economy.

What Rosling does by visually demonstrating the way in which the washing machine produces books and educated, liberated women is to show us the human side of the arguments economists have been making for a long time.  That people like me react to that by getting all weepy shows two things:  1)  that despite the stereotype, some/many libertarians really are capable of responding to emotional/empathetic appeals and  2) that we really do believe that it’s a really good thing that the markets we defend work to the benefit of the least well off, and we believe it deeply enough to be emotionally moved when we see it portrayed so vividly.  I have a similar reaction for many of the same reasons, though not with the same intensity, to Sean Malone’s “No Vans Land” and its story of immigrant van drivers succeeding despite the regulatory state’s attempts to frustrate them.

That Rosling can reduce male libertarian economists to tears also suggests that we could learn a thing or two from him about our rhetoric and the stories we tell.  And the “we” in question is libertarians in general.  One lesson to take is that there’s nothing wrong with making appeals to emotions when they are done right.  I suspect the emotional response to Rosling is because the washing machine story is a great example of why results matter more than intentions.  Too often appeals to emotions in moral and political arguments try to connect up our empathy for the least well off with a call to “do something” in ways that suggest that good intentions are sufficient to demonstrate that empathy.

For libertarians, that’s not enough.  Our empathy for the least well off can be engaged when the narrative in question draws on that empathy with an emotional story about actual results.  We probably do not respond as strongly to emotional stories about human suffering that simply ask us to “do something” as we do to stories that show us how real institutions have actually improved the lives of those most in need of improvement.  We really do care about that goal and if you show us the results and the data to back up, and you celebrate them in emotionally powerful ways, we will respond emotionally.

Capitalism and industrialization did not come about as a way to liberate us, but they sure as hell had that consequence, as Rosling so powerfully demonstrates.  If we do it right, we can tap into the powerful emotional responses people have (libertarians or not) as a way to make that argument and others.  Rosling shows us how:  demonstrate the liberating power of markets with solid data and really good stories about how they benefit the currently and historically least well off among us.  We should be heeding his example.

If non-libertarians have more emotional cognitive styles, arguments like this video can be even more powerful with them than they are with us and we should start to recognize that.  After all, if you can make male libertarian economists cry, everyone else should be a breeze.

NOTE:  to head off one line of argument, it’s worth noting that Hans Rosling is NOT a libertarian.  Not even close.  This is not one of the tribe telling us a story for the purposes of ideological solidarity.  THAT is why this is so interesting to me.

  • TheTracker

    Likely you need a subgroup analysis that will distinguish between the merely semi-autistic, who can cry, and the active sociopaths who dominate the “internet libertarian” communities at et cetera.

    Whether the response is actually empathic in any useful sense is questionable. All ideologues can be expected to have powerful emotional responses to stories that perfectly reflect and reinforce the values of their tribe. If this is empathy, then a Party rally at your local Soviet is full of empathy.

    Do libertarians cry for people on welfare? That is a better question. The trouble with ideologues, or part of the trouble, is that it takes very little deviation from their belief system for someone or something to be reclassified from “fellow human whose trials tug at my heart” to “subhuman counterrevolutionary parasite.”

    In other words, the question is not whether empathy can be provoked by an ideologically euphonic protagonist — that’s a low bar almost anyone can jump. It is whether it can be sustained despite ideological conflict.

    • John David Walters

      “All ideologues can be expected to have powerful emotional responses to stories that perfectly reflect and reinforce the values of their tribe.”

      And stories that reflect and reinforce the values of the libertarian ‘tribe’ are those in which people are actually helped through effective, real-world interventions.

      “Do libertarians cry for people on welfare? That is a better question.”

      Yes, because in a more libertarian society fewer people would be on welfare in the first place.

      • Chris

        It’s not quite as simple as that. There are plenty of socialist, communist and even fascist examples of effective, real-world interventions which help identifiable people. Libertarians would reply that the costs of these interventions outweigh the benefits. Sometimes this cost-benefit analysis is obvious to any reasonable human (e.g. genocide to obtain lebensraum for the master race clearly hurts the victims more than it benefits the volk), in other cases it requires sophisticated analysis.

      • TheTracker

        “stories that reflect and reinforce the values of the libertarian ‘tribe’
        are those in which people are actually helped through effective,
        real-world interventions.”

        Thank you, John, you’ve just illustrated the point.

        • adrianratnapala

          What was your point?

      • Damien S.

        In a more libertarian society there wouldn’t be welfare for them to be on.

        That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t need it.

        • Chris Iacono

          As a small ‘L’ libertarian that came from the left, and someone who was on food stamps for 2 years, they should be one of the last things to go. But they must go, or at the very least be cut down to a temporary basis and must be accompanied by job or small business training. Welfare doesn’t help people get out of poverty. It keeps them full enough to go out and vote, and dependent enough to never question the state. It’s also a really nice emotional bargaining chip for the government to hold.

          Let’s be straight here, if there were more libertarian principles at work the military budget would be 80% less than what it is today, those extra hundreds of billions could stay in peoples pockets for them to spend and open business with. Alternatively, instead of just giving the poor a food and rent allowance, the state could encourage entrepreneurship and local markets by offering the them 0% small business loans along with business and management training, so they can create their own jobs. Instead the government has allowed a permanent and dependent underclass to develop.

          Let’s look at one of the main issues facing economic mobility, access to credit. However due to the currency monopoly allowed by congress in 1913, the private Federal Reserve has limited the ability for alternative sources of credit. There is a reason poorer area’s and local governments cannot spin up their own credit machines at will and stimulate their own economies.

          • good_in_theory

            Good old libertarian paternalism. Can’t just supply people with resources, you have to monitor them and police them and make everything contingent on their jumping through the correct. hoops.

        • Damien S: You poor intellectually stunted leftists….I feel sorry for you. All you know how to do is try to appear as if “you care”. No worries about the real logic and math. Just keep repeating “I feel your pain”

          uh! reprehensible.

      • truth_machine

        “Yes, because in a more libertarian society fewer people would be on welfare in the first place.”

        Right … they would be in the condition of, say, the elderly in the U.S. before Social Security.

        • Jerome Bigge

          Take the same amount of money that was paid into Social Security and invest it in index bond and stock funds at a 50/50 split. The return on investment will be far higher.

          • truth_machine

            a) Like most libertarians, you don’t understand economics. b) This doesn’t address my point.

    • Steven Horwitz

      I don’t cry for people on welfare in and of themselves. I want to help them, but my crying does nothing to help. I will cry when I see poor people get out of poverty. That’s part of my point. If you want to move me to help poor people, tell me a good story about how they got out of poverty and what I can do to help others the same way. That’s what Rosling does here.

      • TheTracker

        As with John, the tone of your comment suggests you disagree with me, but the content demonstrates my point perfectly. Your empathy for your fellow human beings is nonexistent when the person or the situation calls into question your ideology. You “cry” when your ego is stroked with comforting stories affirming your beliefs. The actual human beings are inconsequential.

        • Steven Horwitz

          Confirming what beliefs? I said “tell me how they got out of poverty and what I can do to help.” That has no ideological content. If you can show me that welfare consistently helps families get out of poverty, I’m on board.

          • TheTracker

            You’re still agreeing with me. You are saying your empathy will be engaged only if “x consistently helps families get out of poverty.” That is a good test for the design of a government program, but not for whether a situation provokes an empathic response.

          • mtanous

            Is empathy simply crying out about an unfortunate situation for someone else, or is it seeking to help them as best as possible? Because I could spend all day crying about how many poor people there are, and this would do absolutely nothing to solve that problem or help them in any way. If empathy is simply the former, of what use is empathy?

          • Bryan C. Winter

            People are emotionally attracted to stories that confirm their biases about the world. Part of the reason I DON’T like emotional appeals is because they lack rigor. Every time I invest the time do dig into a left or right emotional appeal on an issue, I can usually find a carrot that tells me that while what they are saying is partially true, there is some complicating factor that makes it less about right and wrong and more about perception of right and wrong.

            Even when people are ‘hurt’ they often have a story about how a wrong was done to them, but if you go the wrong doer, they will in turn tell you the other person wronged them. It is tragic, but it also makes automatic unthinking empathy somewhat dangerous because it can lead you erroneous conclusions about the world.

            That doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy. People who consider themselves libertarian philosophically, but aren’t really showing up at the clubs and going to the meetings have tremendous amounts of it. Many of your Silicon Valley types, many of whom have a libertarian leaning view on the world (and are also calculating rationalists), are quite philanthropic, and often start companies on the basis of not just how to make money, but how to help people.

            Most businesses that revolutionize industries start with a guy in his basement saying “The world would be better if this existed!”. Ask those guys how they feel about the role of the government, and they might not say it outright, but they sound pretty close to a BHL Libertarian to me.

            Ultimately we are speaking vaguely, but I know I prefer a rational argument over an emotional appeal. I think much of this might be that it is hard to say anything particularly profound about economics with an emotional appeal, and so the bias is in the structure of language and science rather than somehow people like us have different brains.

          • Attila Lendvai

            “often start companies on the basis of not just how to make money, but how to help people”

            that’s the one and the same (unless you’re hiring the guns of the state, one way or another, to further your business position).

          • Damien S.

            Uh, one can hire private guns as well. Does organized crime help people, when it makes money in protection rackets or kidnapping?

          • Attila Lendvai

            fair enough. wanted to sound less dry… but there you go, edited it.

          • Attila Lendvai

            no, and that’s exactly my point. “the state” is a behavior, and when looking at it like that then one easily notices that it’s so similar to organized crime that it warrants using the same word on it.

          • spock

            Empathy is your emotional response, not the course of action that ensues. Emotions can be “of…use,” but other times, they simply are. Sometimes, when nothing can be done, it can be therapeutic simply to have one’s emotions recognized in another.

          • dalecarville

            Exactly. If you’ve ever experienced depression and had a well-meaning but emotionally clueless friend hit you up with a flurry of “common sense” solutions to your situation, you should be able to see why libertarian prescriptions meet with instant rejection. Also why others are so distrusting and abusive of libertarians. It’s a form of ableism directed at a group of rhetorically adept people who lack an awareness of their empathic limitations.

          • SimpleMachine88

            Are you looking for the answer people want to hear, or the answer people need to hear? They are different.

          • dalecarville

            Neither. Empathy is listening not lecturing. It’s passive not active. It’s not an opening for a problem-solver to get to work.

          • Michael Philip

            so its about being an emotional surrogate for others? I see

          • MingoV

            Lamenting a situation is not empathy. Helping someone is not empathy.

            Empathy is understanding and partially identifying with another person, usually when that person is having a negative experience. (No one cares if you have empathy for a well-off, happy person.)

            Empathy is unnecessary for helping people or improving society. I don’t have to understand and identify with imprisoned muggers in order to push for improved conditions in prisons. I don’t have to empathize with mentally ill homeless persons to volunteer in a soup kitchen.

            Too many people conflate sympathy and empathy with accomplishment. You can sympathize and empathize all you want, but if you don’t act, then those emotions are nearly worthless.

          • dalecarville

            Yes, you can be angry at “those people”, but those who act where they lack experience or understanding do all the damage.

            It’s the know-it-all, not the poseur, who presents a threat to others. In the Talmud it says “teach your tongue to say “I don’t know””.

          • truth_machine

            “Is empathy simply crying out about an unfortunate situation for someone else, or is it seeking to help them as best as possible?”

            This is a question libertarians ask because they don’t feel empathy and so have no instinct for what it is.

          • truth_machine

            “Is empathy simply crying out about an unfortunate situation for someone else”

            Only sociopaths need to ask.

            “or is it seeking to help them as best as possible?”

            Uh, no, that’s not empathy.

          • Your declaration of empathy for people in need is indeed a great sign of virtue that does exactly nothing for the poor but sure makes you feel morally superior.

            What libertarians want to see is people no longer needing welfare and instead become able to enjoy the satisfaction of attaining the power to help themselves and their families.

            It appears that the beneficent intentions of leftists have led them to support a system that subsidizes poverty and obstructs the growth of opportunities for people to escape poverty and become more powerful beings.

    • Steven Horwitz

      Also: Hans Rosling is NOT a libertarian.

      • Bryan C. Winter

        He isn’t a libertarian, he is a statistician though, lives in a world of numbers and he makes good arguments for the use of good arguments.

        He also rightly points out that the world has been improving at an incredible rate by any metric possibly measurable, and seems to indicate that our cynicism about the world is itself irrational, when we seem to be solving most of our problems in real time. This is data telling us something about the world that most of us are not aware off … the very idea that we are destroying poverty, and the forces are doing it are the very same ones that people like to say have destroyed the world … namely the 3 killer apps of western civilization … democracy, markets and free thought.

        The interesting thing about the data is when you dig into it, it seems like the one most people least suspect, markets, might actually be the most important one, but all are important to making the world a better place.

    • Did the video make you cry, Tracker? That’s a good way to test your theory.

      • TheTracker

        How so?

        • Possibilities:

          1 – You are not a libertarian. You cry while watching a video that signals libertarian group-affiliation. You demonstrate that it is a universally appealing human-interest story. This weakens your initial assertions.

          2 – You are not a libertarian. You do not cry while watching the video. You thus contradict your own claims.

          3 – You are a libertarian. You cry while watching the video, but you recognize that the only reason you are crying is because the video appeals to your group affiliation. You admonish yourself and construct a new means to establish your own personal sense of empathy: Crying for people on welfare! If you meet this test, congratulations, you are neither a psychopath or an “internet Austrian.” But this is just kicking the can – for a true ideologue, this second test would obviously be another membership signal. So you must construct a third test… and then a fourth…

          4 – You are a libertarian. You do not cry. Neither anything you or Horwitz said applies to you. You are possibly an internet troll.

          What other possibilities am I missing?

          • TheTracker

            Thank you for clarifying: You’ve constructed a system in which any response on my part reinforces your belief. You have thereby elucidated the fact that your belief is non-falsible and irrational.

          • Haha, not so fast. I also invited you to point out additional explanations I may have missed. I’m still open to hearing them. I mean, surely a rational thinker like yourself is capable of considering the possibility of being wrong, yourself.

            That’s a good one, though. I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I come across an assertion that doesn’t withstand close scrutiny. It’s not a bad theory, it’s just a bad test! I’m irrational!

            You’re clever, I’ll give you that much.

          • TheTracker

            If every possibility you can conceive of proves you right, what are the chances you can objectively evaluate other possibilities?

          • Very low. That’s why I need you to evaluate them for me. So you can go ahead and include the analysis when you present the other possibilities, too.

          • TheTracker

            But again, that seems like a poor investment of time, if that analysis is going to be fed into your filter.

            But since you’re interested in discussing the matter further, I’d like to clarify (1). In what sense does this being a general human interest story undercut my thesis? Did I assert that it was only the capitalist dogma in the story to which libertarians were responding? I don’t think that was my point.

          • Heyyy… that’s interesting! It’s almost as if I did not, as you initially asserted, construct “a system in which any response on your part reinforces my belief.”

    • j r

      Do libertarians cry for people on welfare?

      I’ll cry for people on welfare the day that you find a way to monetize my tears.

      • Libertymike

        A good line always deserves some props.

      • Sean II

        I have an idea that comes close:

        You know those monocles libertarians are always wearing? Well, what I’m proposing is just like those except that each frame comes with a tiny compartment of tear gas built-in.

        When it becomes necessary to show some outward sign of empathy (let’s say your groundskeeper has a sick kid and the poor taste to mention him in your presence), you simply tap the frame three times and the gas is released into your eye at a dose precisely calculated to trick out a single tear.

        Later when you fire the groundskeeper for excessive familiarity, he won’t suspect it has anything to do with his child’s condition.

        In other words, win-win.

        • dalecarville

          You’re going to need to find a way to rig your facial muscles to indicate sadness.

          • Sean II

            Well I was counting on the fact that we libertarians get really uncomfortable when people talk about their feelings – you know, I thought maybe our social awkwardness would read as compassion.

            But you make a fine point. That’s probably not reliable.

            One thing we might do instead: lace our bowler hats with chemicals known to cause tardive dyskinesia. That way, we can just play it safe by appearing to grimace in sorrow all the time.

    • David

      “Do libertarians cry for people on welfare?”

      Speaking from my own experience, yes. I cry when the system we have put in place to help them actually ends up abusing and undermining them. In particular, the War on Drugs and many of the government’s attempts to make things like school, housing, and health care affordable (which have all backfired spectacularly) have done great damage to society, and it’s the poor who suffer the most.

      • dalecarville

        Do you meet with poor people and speak of these matters?

        • David

          Yes, but most of the time I talk about other things.

      • CaptainN

        The war on drugs is literally, and directly the reestablishment of segregation (Republicans, one political faction found that more Democratic voters used marijuana, so they made it illegal, to lock them up so they can’t vote – those voters happen to be black.) Politics is groups of people working for their own self interest – markets will never be able to turn that off – ever. In fact, the concentration of wealth out of a market can exacerbate the problem – take a look at wall street bail outs. I’ve never seen a good libertarian answer for this problem. Economic power, especially once concentrated after a generate or two (even in abstract though) always, as in invariably, leads directly to political power, and that is used to sabotage competition. What better way to sabotage competition than assuring they will never arise? Other forces, mostly born of the kind of political power that doesn’t not derive from wealth, have used government for great progress on building something like a “great society.” Even if some steps were a little misguided (prohibition), they’ve made far more progress than regression (child labor laws, minimum wage, standard working weeks, even equal opportunity – none of which would exist outside of government regulation) – despite the opposition by big capital power.

        • David

          You’re assuming that child labor laws, minimum wage, “standard working weeks”, etc. are good things (again, all in the context of having *laws* regarding them) and that they help the poor. See:

          Walter Williams has also devoted a large amount of his career and research into showing how minimum wage laws have been used either knowingly or unknowingly as tools of racism to push up unemployment among minorities, and especially minority youths.

          Democratic politicians, by the way, also favor the War on Drugs. There have been more federal raids on marijuana facilities under Obama than under any president prior to him (by a huge margin) despite the fact that he said he would leave states alone and allow them to make their own marijuana laws.

          • Damien S.

            Most Democratic politicians do, yes. Most Democratic politicians aren’t that liberal. But if we counted up Democratic and Republican politicians who support legalization, what would we find? I don’t know, a bunch of *ex* GOP figures have supported legalization, but it’s a bit late. How about activists? I suspect that would favor the Democrats. Note we’ve been getting medical access or decriminalization… mostly through initiatives.

            Though I’ve been told pot is de facto decriminalized in Massachusetts, due to deliberate lack of enforcement.

          • Libertymike

            Massachusetts voters elected to decriminalize the possession of marijuana in amounts of one ounce or less in 2008.

          • Joan59

            yeh, let’s go back to allowing children to work………let’s reinstate the negotiating power of individual wage earners vs the power of the employers, who after all, can find another 10-year-old to buy.
            THIS is why libertarians horrify us, and terrify us.
            They are rationalizing a return to the most abusive practices of history.
            They defend powerlessness for the least among us as a moral goal.
            It’s as if libertarians do not understand – or will not acknowledge – the systemic economic, political and social forces that enable the success of each individual And don’t give a damn when those same forces crush another.

          • truth_machine

            You’re a sociopath.

    • SimpleMachine88

      I’m not sure whether libertarians have autism, but I know Leviathan does.

    • Theresa Klein

      Why are the people on welfare more worthy of empathy than a person whose home is seized through civil asset forfeiture?

      • Damien S.

        Both are bad, possibly equally bad, but you’re conflating unrelated issues. One can have welfare without civil forfeiture and a war on drugs. Or the reverse, for matter. Many liberals would join libertarians in opposing civil forfeiture and in legalizing at least softer drugs.

        • Theresa Klein

          Ok, why is a person on welfare more worthy of empathy than a person whose restaurant is bankrupted because they didn’t install a handicapped ramp to the government’s satisfaction?

          • stevenjohnson2

            Bankrupted? Going broke over a frivolous lawsuit aimed at keeping out wheelchairs etc. doesn’t count. I call BS.

            There’s no sense in conflating welfare and someone wanting to discriminate to protect their profit margin. The discriminator is obviously morally culpable. You’re assuming that merely taking welfare is morally culpable in itself. You’re free to assume but don’t confuse that right with the right to have people agree with you.

            You’re confused about who we’re supposed to have empathy for. We have empathy for people who can’t get a job, and that’s why we favor welfare, since money is the sincerest form of empathy. Libertarians don’t have empathy for people who can’t get a job, so they insist others justify the welfare by the moral superiority of the welfare recipients.

            Personally, I favor arranging the economy so everyone has jobs, but libertarians tout crackpot economics that assumes this is impossible. Then to make sure that there aren’t enough jobs, the libertarians sell out every supposed unique moral principle that makes them different from plain unvarnished conservatives, joining in the drug wars and wars on terror and, well, the actual policies of Tea Partiers, Christian activists, die hard racists and libertarians are indistinguishable.

          • Theresa Klein

            There are quite a few cases of people who went broke because of fines imposed under the ADA, and saying that they are “wanting to discriminate to protect their profit margin” is just ugly and disingenous. Do you seriously think that people don’t want to make expensive structural modifications to their buildings just because they hate the disabled?

            You’re confused about who we’re supposed to have empathy for.

            What a silly remark. People empathize with who they empathize with. Forcing yourself to feel empathy for people that you are told you are “supposed to” feel empathy for is fake.

          • Libertymike

            Is stevenjohnson BHL’s version of Tony and shriek on H&R?

          • stevenjohnson2

            I didn’t mean to be too subtle: I didn’t, and don’t, believe you, quibble as you may about “quite a few.” Fines for not obeying the law are not an expense of following the law.

            You’re not interested in arguing the justice of grandfather clauses or the injustice of excessive fines. You just made an ugly and disingenuous attempt to inflame conservative prejudices against poor people (with optional appeal to racism built in.)

            Talking about welfare recipients is just ugly and disingenuous rhetoric. To have an honest discussion, we need to (“we’re supposed to”) talk about people who can’t get a job. It’s a shame you haven’t got standards as high for thinking as you do for grammar.

          • Theresa Klein

            The Tracker wrote:

            Do libertarians cry for people on welfare?

            THAT is why I mentioned welfare.

            I brought up that there are all sorts of other people that we empathize with, but progressives don’t. I want an objective reason why I should cry for the person on welfare, but not for a small businessman who has his life’s work ruined because of regulations and petty bureaucrats.

            As for people who can’t get a job, I want us to free them ot make up their own jobs. Anything that you can do that someone else is willing to pay you (or trade you) for should be legal.

          • truth_machine

            “I brought up that there are all sorts of other people that we empathize with, but progressives don’t”

            Progressives empathize even with garbage like you. It’s tragic being so broken a human being.

          • truth_machine

            “There are quite a few cases”

            There are quite a few libertarians who are dishonest aholes … you, for instance.

          • SimpleMachine88

            I think you should recognize that the “economy” is other people’s lives, and livings. I think there should be more respect for that before casually “arranging” other people, let alone assuming you can so arrange them better than they.

            money is the sincerest form of empathy

            What, no it isn’t. And besides you don’t need anyone’s permission to give money to people you think require help.

          • stevenjohnson2

            Apparently I’m still being too subtle: I don’t believe that any business has been bankrupted by building wheelchair ramps. If any business was so marginal, it is a metaphysical question as to what factor pushed it under. I think the whole thing is a propaganda horror story, spread by liars, swallowed only by those whose meanness is exceeded only by their gullibility.

          • SimpleMachine88

            This is just ridiculous. There are businesses that stay in business, and go out of business. That line is advanced towards going out of business by the cost of regulation, and the number of businesses of America is such that, of course, a real number go out of business.

            The extent of this is an economic matter of study, but to deny that economics is marginal is just… are you kidding me?

            An S/D graph of this is in fact going to be effectively contiguous, and an increase in costs is going to cause an increase in Price and a decrease in Quantity. And it’s not just bankruptcy, you have to think of the costs for consumers increasing to cover the regulations, who suffer much of the pain, and the lower amount of capital for investment. This is absolutely rudimentary micro. We debate the costs and the benefits, but we don’t just deny that there are costs.

            What you mean by “I don’t believe that any business has been bankrupted by building wheelchair ramps” is that you choose not to by refusing to look at the aggregate. That’s willful ignorance. And economics is actually not a branch of metaphysics.

          • CT

            “Libertarians don’t have empathy for people who can’t get a job”
            Oh the sweeping generalizations. The rest of your comment is pure, unadulterated crap.

          • stevenjohnson2

            The observation that the right to make assumptions is not the right to have people to agree with you is “pure, unadulterated crap?” So, you libertarians do claim the two are the same. Astonishing, but not in a good way.

            The persistent refusal to talk about identify people on welfare with people who can’t get a job is in fact the general practice, and it is done with invidious intent. A “sweeping” generalization is not a problem when it is correct.

          • Libertymike

            Good questions merit kudos.

          • truth_machine

            “Ok, why is a person on welfare more worthy of empathy than a person whose restaurant is bankrupted because they didn’t install a handicapped ramp to the government’s satisfaction?”

            What are libertarians dishonest aholes?

        • SimpleMachine88

          Shouldn’t we feel sympathy for the people who lose the services that people provide for others in the market economy, because they’re on welfare instead.

          A community where people are employed is one where people are interacting with each other for each others benefit commercially. One where people are on welfare is one where people’s relationship is with the state, rather than each other.

          The first is a far more pleasant place. If you want to see a town where the distant federal government supports people, at incredible and selfless expense, look at Lone Pines SD.

          I wouldn’t want my community assaulted by the federal cavalry, but I’m pretty sure I’d prefer to not be assaulted by the charity of the Bureau of Indian Affairs either. Both are pretty effective means of reducing a people.

          • Damien S.

            Employment is better than welfare, yes. Which is why I support Keynesian macroeconomic full-employment policies as well as social safety nets, and am more skeptical of basic income schemes than many others. Keynesian policies also keep total GDP and wealth high. And full employment tilts the balance of power toward labor rather than management. Win-win, for almost everyone.

          • SimpleMachine88

            Yeah, that’s right, there’s benefits and no costs, because that’s what economics is the study of.

            I forgot the tendency to retreat into fairy tales when faced with difficult decisions. There’s a different discussion from why government isn’t good about why government isn’t magic, but that’s for another time.

          • Damien S.

            There’s practically no cost if the problem is one of stupid friction in the first place. K. policies don’t claim arbitrary levels of wealth or growth, they just claim the ability to keep everyone working. It’s the ‘magic’ of oiling your engine when it’s out of lubricating oil. You can’t get 300 mpg but you can make it *work*.

          • SimpleMachine88

            Actual Keynesianism is about stabilizing the business cycle. The economy is not perpetually below full employment. There are costs, and there are benefits. Established? Okay, now what we’re talking about is whether those should be made by individuals or the state. And whether or not I can cry.

            Positive economics is another thing, but I do not think that our differing answers are evidence of the thesis that I don’t have enough heart in my normative economics and am autistic, pace the post.

          • Theresa Klein

            Libertarians want to LET people work. For themselves. In any way they can.
            We don’t want to burden them with regulations that prevent them from selling a product to a willing buyer, or building themselves a home because it isn’t up to code.

          • SimpleMachine88

            True. And the distinction is important.

            Let people work, or not work, work at what they want, where they want, alot of things that are not going to be easily measurable.

            Simultaneous with job killing regulations by our government is a job obsession, as far as politician’s rhetoric goes. And many of those job killing regulations are cast as job protecting, in that they deter innovation or trade, both of which allow us to accomplish more with less effort. Willfully protecting inefficiency is our government’s obsession.

            Work is fine, but it’s mostly the pay that people are looking for. Raising costs can protect certain politically connected trades, though it disemploys more efficient competitors, and those businesses that people spend the money they saved on, but it makes us generally poorer. They effect as to whether it promotes unemployment is more ambiguous than whether it promotes poverty, which is certain.

            Innovation, technology, and less regulations may well mean we work less, but part of wealth is leisure, and part of the opposition to these regulations is that the innovation and efficiency lost means we have less of it for the same income.

      • truth_machine

        “Why are the people on welfare more worthy of empathy than a person whose home is seized through civil asset forfeiture?”

        Why are libertarians intellectually dishonest and attack strawmen?

    • Attila Lendvai

      first, read e.g. this for the definitions:

      because empathy is… well, whatever. that’s basic and doesn’t yield emotional reactions.

      my *sympathy* primarily goes to peaceful people who have been hurt by other people (e.g. people who were robbed at gunpoint to pay for the welfare cheques), because that’s the result of a human action, and could have been avoided easily within the bounds of someone’s free will.

      but there are just too many people who get tortured by nature. ultimately everyone, including you and me. the only difference is the extent and the timing… but we’ll all turn to dust eventually. the only question is what happens on the road.

      so, i’ll do my best to create wealth and help people around me who live up to my moral standards (and through that help society to thrive), but if i was to shed a tear for everyone who suffers, past and future, including people who e.g. actively refuse to develop themselves… then i’d join them the next day in their suffering (and with that hurt society also).

      i more often than not understand why people in need are where they are, and i have empathy for them (i understand how it feels to be without resources), but i just don’t have sympathy for everyone. first, that must be earned, and second, it only has a limited pool/resupply.

      if for this you count me as a psychopath, then you have some more reading/integrating to do on the topic of psychopaths, charity, ethics and humanity in general.

      and finally another article on the topic:

      Why indiscriminate charity is immoral

    • Oooh the Tracker knows all! He can look into a human soul like Josef Stalin and tell you what it is worth.

      Tracker: Have you ever thought YOU are the sociopath with your high horse moral vanity? Because that jumps right out at me.

    • kmne68

      There is a simpler explanation. It is an emotional response similar to what one experiences when hearing a remarkable piece of music, viewing a natural wonder or witnessing some magnificent power at work.

      And what has crying over people on welfare to do with anything. Is that our measure of compassion? Compassion used to be measured by how much was spent on welfare.

  • JesseForgione

    I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow there’s an article on BHL that I really like!

    • Libertymike

      Well, in the words of one Peter Rozelle, “on any given Sunday”.

  • Libertymike

    Reading William Norman Griggs or Randy Balko makes me cry.
    When digesting the hell sustained by the likes of Bradley Manning or Jose Guerena or the Amish raw milk farmers, I sometimes cry; more often, I become enraged. Rage, unless I am mistaken, is an emotion and it is an emphatic emotion for anarcho-free enterprise-individualists. I would submit that those of us who are AFEIs are far more emphatic than those wedded to, or dependent upon, the state.

    • Libertymike

      Although rage may be an emphatic emotion, I meant to write, empathetic.

      • TheTracker

        I think what you’re getting at here is that no one who has spent five minutes with actual libertarians thinks they are cool and rational. They are full to bursting with emotions — it’s simply that the most prominent of those emotions are not caring, love, or grief, but rather, as you point out, rage, hatred, paranoia, self-importance and vicious spite.

        Rather than call libertarians more rational or less emotional, which is pretty ridiculous, I would say that in many cases libertarians, like all people with an intellectual bent, tend to have stronger emotional reactions to abstract ideas than most people.

        For you it may be the suffering of those brave Amish farmers asserting their right to spread brucellosis and listeria meningitis. This fills you with rage. For me, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, as in, for example, the expulsions from Lydda and Ramale, can make me clench my fists in impotent frustration, even though I am neither Palestinian nor Jewish and was not alive when it happened.

        A “normal” person might look at both of us and point out these event neither affect us personally nor are we likely to ever be in a position to affect them, so we are we getting worked up about it?

        That is a critical difference in mindset, and it would not be indefensible to call it a form of mental disease, albeit one that is at the root of much art, science, religion, government and social reform: powerful emotional responses to things without a concrete connection to ourselves.

        • Libertymike

          Your recitation of emotions for which the libertarian cup runneth over, “rage, hatred, paranoia, self-importance and vicious spite” might be a noun or two heavy.
          The rage which possesses the two of us relative to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians or the rage which I experience whenever I am reminded of the plight of a hero like Irwin Schiff or Manning or Snowden is not related to, or a part of, a darker emotion like self-importance or vicious spite or hate. The rage is healthy and normal for a person who eschews statecraft, i.e., violence. A healthy, well adjusted human being does not shrug his shoulders or otherwise justify the violence wielded by state actors upon other human beings.
          An anarchist / libertarian is far more capable of demonstrating, experiencing and sharing empathy and love than social justice jerkoffs or the clowned costumed crowd. The anarchist / libertarian is far more likely to enjoy and savor each individual person’s creativity and value each individual’s dignity.
          On the other hand, what type of person is attracted to force? Is it the anarchist? The anarcho-free enterprise-individualist? The libertarian? Of course not. The anarchist / libertarian is far less likely to be attracted by the prospect of adorning himself with badges and the imprimatur of Caesar.

          • Sean II

            Don’t bother with this punk, Mike. You know how low someone has to be on the troll quality meter for me to refrain from feeding him?

            Only the lowest.

        • Damien S.

          Speaking as an ex-libertarian, you do them an injustice. Libertarianism can be profound moral fervor about not forcing people to do things — not just oneself, but anyone. Outrage at the war on drugs, persecution of prostitutes, and American imperialism. Outrage at genuinely stupid laws crippling businesses or making housing more expensive.

          It’s true that it also provides good cover for the truly selfish, but there’s a principle of arguing against the best in one’s opponents, not the worst. Radical libertarians have plenty of genuine flaws — wilful ignorance of inconvenient economics, naivete about economic exploitation and desperation, papering over weak points in their ideas about property — without having to inflate their emotional villainy. Lots of libertarian mean well, they’re just wrong.

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            Some lefties mean well, all are wrong.

    • SimpleMachine88

      That virtue is called nemesis

      • Libertymike

        Assuming the undeserved pleasure is occasioned by means of coercion of some sort; otherwise, no, as then we would be wading into the waters of schatenfraude.

  • Drake Lennshere

    This one made me cry when I first saw it:

    • Theresa Klein

      It’s a bit maudlin.
      Would be more effective if it was followed up by an argument along the line of “Shouldn’t Tad have the RIGHT to take a below minimum wage job if that’s all he can get?”

    • martinbrock

      The counterpoint is that Tad’s boss should have raised his prices to continue employing Tad. That his margin was already tight is not relevant, because his competitors are compelled to pay the increased minimum wage as well, so the increased price doesn’t necessarily move Tad’s employer down the demand curve. It could only increase the flow of rents from rent recipients to laborers.

    • dalecarville

      Dry your tears, sweet libertarian. Tad feeds the ducks in your heart.

    • truth_machine

      This is some of the best evidence of what disgusting fucks libertarians are.

      • Drake Lennshere

        Because we think the handicapped are capable of working too? You prefer to leave them as some infirmed person that must wait for your say so to do anything? I mean I doubt this is how you were looking at it but I really don’t see what is so disgusting? Was this a facetious comment?

      • Drake Lennshere


        • truth_machine

          Your previous inquiry below, 6 months ago, was more detailed … and, as usual, showed what intellectually dishonest garbage libertarians are. Now run along, that’s all the response you get.

          • Drake Lennshere

            Why didn’t you reply to that comment? Because it doesn’t exist. This is my only comment on this thread. So you are dishonest as well as incapable of your justifying your positions. You run now. I’m not scared of wanna be bullies on the internet who’s parents didn’t love them.

          • truth_machine

            You’re a blind moron … your comment, posted 6 months ago and visible below, says “Because we think the handicapped are capable of working too? You prefer to leave them as some infirmed person that must wait for your say so to do anything? I mean I doubt this is how you were looking at it but I really don’t see what is so disgusting? Was this a facetious comment?”

            Now fuck off and die, you stupid piece of libertarian shit.

          • Drake Lennshere

            Just because you want handicapped people to feel less than you doesn’t make it so.

          • Drake Lennshere

            Poor little bitch.

  • Pingback: Por que você não pode ser consciente e renunciar ao xadrez feito de marfim de elefantes? | Tabula (não) Rasa & Libertarianismo Bleeding Heart()

  • jtkennedy

    Horwitz writes “If we do it right, we can tap into the powerful emotional responses
    people have (libertarians or not) as a way to make that argument and

    1. Is appeal to emotion a valid form of argument?

    2. Are libertarians likely to compete well with politicians in appeals to emotion?

    • TheTracker

      1. Yes.
      2. Probably not in their present form, but the Tea Party “libertarians” illustrate nicely how far the liberal application of racism, homophobia, jingoism, and the lubricant of hypocrisy can take an unpopular ideology.

      Can a Hayekesque libertarianism succeed in the mass market? Probably not. Can a libertarianism whose pillars are cutting food stamps, loathing our Kenyan president, and “keeping your government hand off my Medicare” succeed? Sure!

      • Libertymike

        What are the emotional underpinnings of redistributionism?
        Rule out empathy; if you care about the poor, uneducated black mother with five kids from five different fathers, you would not favor taking another’s property in order to give it to the mother as you would know that in order to effect the transfer, violence would have to be done to many others and that the system thereby created would need many others who would get their hands on the property violently obtained. In addition, you would know that the coercive transfers would not help the poor black mother as it would tend to make her dependent upon the redistributions and make her subservient to those who administer the scheme. It would, moreover, tend to perpetuate the process.
        Rule out love; see above.
        Rule out charity – by definition.

      • Christopher Fleming

        I know that this may be inconsequential as far as you are concerned, but I just thought that I’d point out that survey data shows very little overlap between libertarians and the Tea Party. PRRI just released a study on Libertarianism in the 21st Century pointing this out. It was the subject of a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution earlier this week.

        • Les Kyle Nearhood

          The troll does not care, anyone to his right on any issue is pure evil.

    • Theresa Klein

      You can combine a rational argument with an appeal to emotion.

      What I like to do is start with the emotional appeal, then follow with the rational argument.

      I.e. Start with a human-interest story about a guy who lost his house though civil asset forfeiture. Then go through the reasoned argument about the injustice of the civil asset forfeiture laws, and the drug war.

  • Chmee

    I might tend to disagree that the libertarian mindset isn’t lower on the empathy scale than others. I’ve taken the psychological exam, and guess what; I scored pretty low.

  • Sean II

    “He found, among other things, that self-described libertarians have a more cerebral as opposed to emotional intellectual style. He also found that libertarians score high on “systematizing” and low on “empathizing…”

    Another, better way to say this: libertarians tend to be smart people, and smart people are much more likely to understand that empathy doesn’t solve problems by itself.

    • truth_machine

      That’s certainly how a sociopathic libertarian would interpret it.

  • martinbrock

    Male and female literacy rates in the U.S. in the nineteenth century were practically identical, so while washing machines and other signs of economic progress undoubtedly increased women’s opportunity to read, this progress doesn’t differentiate women from men.

    So why do male economists tell tear jerking stories about women reading particularly, while men were reading more at the same time for similar reasons? This question interests me.

  • SimpleMachine88

    It is odd that Libertarians choose to advocate statistically and unremittingly. Liberty is a romantic concept. It deserves poets as well as economists.

    That people deserve the right to take care of themselves and their families is about more than just material. An economist can measure the transfer of wealth from welfare, but what about the dignity of having earned a living. That can’t be transferred.

    I think the dominance of utilitarian arguments within libertarianism does it a disservice. It is precisely the failing of utilitarianism that, as far as I see it, is the first argument for liberty. People deserve the right to pursue the life they want, which runs deeper than just those parts of it economists can measure.

    Liberty gives people not only a greater capacity to attain that which we can all recognize as valuable, but also to pursue, each one of us, that which each one of us finds valuable peculiarly.

    That respect for people’s independence doesn’t just benefit the individual alone, but also gives rise to a vibrant society. Compare that to the immediate sterility of everything in countries that suffered under communism.

    That vibrancy depends on diversity, a diversity that allows differing religions, values, and ways of life. Law creates enforced uniformity, but respect for the liberty of others grants us the benefit of a society composed of individuals who, having been given the opportunity to follow their own values to diverse ends, have the ability to surprise us. Even teach us.

    A free society is experimental, wild, and therefore allows us not only to attain what is valuable, but also to discover what is valuable. In the end, the defense of a liberal society should include it’s superior wisdom, and beauty.

    • Theresa Klein

      People deserve the right to pursue the life they want, which runs deeper than just those parts of it economists can measure.

      Liberty gives people not only a greater capacity to attain that which
      we can all recognize as valuable, but also to pursue, each one of us,
      that which each one of us finds valuable peculiarly.

      Exactly this. Libertarians prize self-actualization, for which being self-employed or starting a small business is a primary expression. People have a human right to pursue an occupation of their choice (though they can’t force people to patronize them), including by starting businesses.

      That’s why libertarians are often so infuriated by economic regulations that strangle small businesses out of existence, or which treat profit making as a crime.

      Here is this person just trying to pursue a personal dream, to fulfill her potential, and make a better life for herself, though voluntary trade with consenting adults, and along come the progressives, to call that person an evil profit-making capitalist, take away their earnings, and regulate them into oblivion.

      • Damien S.

        Oddly, the social democracies have higher rates of self-employment than the US.

        Also I’m not aware of “making profit making a crime” being a big deal these days. Regulations that have the effect of strangling small business, or raising barriers to entry, or favoring big businesses, yes.

        • Theresa Klein

          How much of that is “grey market” activity though?

          Note that Greece is #1.

          • Damien S.

            I don’t know; does it matter?
            One observation has been that the highest countries on the list are low-trust ones. Not only is the government often corrupt, but non-family don’t necessarily get along that reliably. So you get lots of self-employment and family firms. Given Coase’s work on transaction costs and the firm, it may well be that such high rates are a sign of how unhealthy the economies are, i.e. it would be more efficient to have more large firms, but their lack of social capital precludes it.

            OTOH it would be bizarre to me if the low US rate were not connected to our unique health care system, which rewards being a big business employee in a way I think no other country does. All other rich countries have universal health care; countries that don’t probably don’t specifically favor employer plans. A pragmatic libertarian might support UHC as at least leveling the playing field.

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            Except that a rational person would see that the afca is a huge steaming pile. And other rational people may think our government system in the usa is not capable of anything better.

          • Damien S.

            I assume you meant ACA.
            As for being a steaming pile, the basic ideas and structure are proven sound, and state websites are clipping along. The federal site seems a fiasco born of federal procurement rules x MMO-scale website development. For those who don’t like the Bismarckian structure of HeritageRomneyObamacare, extending Medicare to everyone would have been simpler. It’s not the government system that made that impossible, it was the objections of specific people, out to prevent or sabotage UHC.

          • Theresa Klein

            Damien, surely you are aware that insurance rates on the exchanges are higher (not lower) than they used to be, which is actually going to make it harder for people who are self-employed to get insurance. How does making health insurance more expensive make it easier to be self-employed?

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            No it is not sound in any sense at all, it is a complete failure, and brings to question your knowledge and sanity. And what in the history of the ACA, Medicare, Social Security, or the VA hospital system could possibly lead you to believe that the USA government is capable of running any system that was competent, and within budget? You come on this site and pretend that you are the enlightened one and we are the ones going against perceived knowledge, yet you believe absolute crap.

          • Theresa Klein

            What I’m saying here is that people should have the right to self-determine. Not that in a perfectly healthy functioning economy everyone is going to self-determine by being self-employed or running a small business. It’s entirely plausible that in a very healthy economy lots of people would go to work at a bigger firm.

            But the thing is that when you are really poor, and can’t GET a job, sometimes the only thing you CAN do is self-employ. So what kind of society offers you more freedom: One where you HAVE to go work for someone else, because the law regulates you out of business otherwise, or one where ANYONE can self-employ just by going out into the market and offering any product or service he can sell to any willing buyer?

            I see the free market as one that offers more opportunities for self-determination, even if it falls out that people end up organizing themselves in larger firms.

            I suspect that what is happening in Greece is that the economy is so screwed up that people HAVE TO self employ and that they are doing it in violation of a lot of laws.

            In the US, the law does favor being an employee of a larger business, but I don’t think that’s the lack of universal healthcare, that’s because the tax code favors getting your healthcare through an employer. And in fact this will actually get worse under the ACA, because it outlaws the cheap catestrophic plans that people used to buy on the individual market, and the prices for insurance are HIGHER (not lower) for self-employed people on the individual market, and there is still no tax deduction for individuals purchasing insurance, and the ACA makes employer-based insurance mandatory. o the system is going to favor being employed by someone else MORE, and it will get more expensive to buy insurance on the individual market.

      • SimpleMachine88

        I think that liberals are willing to support abstract values as well as material values. The problem is not supporting the interaction of the two, because they are interconnected.

  • ThaomasH

    As a life-long liberal, (an one who generally voted Republican until the crazies
    took over) this is what I’ve always thought, so I don’t get all choked up about
    a really nice presentation of it.

    However, sensible liberals (not all are, unfortunately) think that with a few tweaks, we can do EVEN BETTER than Capitalism. One tweak is that there are some
    services (weather forecasting, economic data production, food and drug safety,
    policing) that it’s a lot cheaper to organize collectively than through the
    market, even taking account that collective provision of services in far from

    Another tweak is the need to tax and subsidize the production of negative and positive externalities when markets/property rights are incomplete in things like CO2 emissions/ocean fisheries, etc.

    A third tweak is the alleviation of misery (and misery is and ought to be judged relatively: liberals think everyone should be happy that people who need food stamps in the US may live better than the middle class of China or Zimbabwe.) On these issues sensible liberals and BHL differ in their views about the production functions for services that might or might not produced collectively, on how well taxes and subsidies can mimic the effects of the missing markets in externalities,
    and how generous public alleviation of misery can be given moral hazard among
    beneficiaries and the inefficiencies of collective decision making.

  • Damien S.

    “What they miss is that you can’t eat, or learn to read, or go to school,
    or leave a bad marriage, or do pretty much any of the basics that we
    might see as required for a flourishing life without the wealth and time
    created by the market economy.”

    You overreach. The totalitarian state of the Incas was capable of feeding its people. Lots of hunter-gatherer tribes, and the Tuareg, and others, have easy escape form bad marriages in subsistence level economies. I think David Friedman noted the Icelanders achieved 100% literacy during an 18th century famine.

    ‘Critics of markets sometimes say “you can’t eat GDP.”’ Are you talking about the central planning socialists of decades go, or you sweeping in everyone who says markets sometimes fail?

    Emotional appeal go the other way too, like the woman who can leave her abusive husband because of food stamps and housing aid, or the people still alive despite prolonged unemployed because of food stamps, or the child of semi-literate immigrants educated in a public school… I was reading earlier tonight about how FDR was very nearly regarded as a *saint* by many Americans who viewed the New Deal as having saved their lives.

    • John

      A woman who can leave her husband because of family is dramatically better off than one who can do so because of food stamps.

      Also, many people now can simply dump a marriage rather than fix it, because, well, food stamps.

    • Theresa Klein

      The totalitarian state of the Incas was capable of feeding its people.

      How do we know that?

      Didn’t they practice human sacrifice?

      Maybe it was a form of population control.

      They could only feed X number of people, when there were too many people around there was famine, so to please the Gods they would sacrifice people, until the famine ended. Problem solved.

    • SimpleMachine88

      That thesis is dated. It’s generally acknowledged now that the Incan
      Empire was in a state of rapid decline at the time of Pizarro, largely
      from a relatively recent expansion of the extent of the state, actually. It was suffering political turmoil, a declining economy, and unrest. Remember that state was overthrown by a small band of enterprising adventurers, that doesn’t say anything good about the effectiveness of totalitarianism v. enterprise. Marxist anthropology suffered a lot from the fall of the Soviet Union.

      Not that I’m pro-Pizarro. More independent and less imperial ethnic groups were a hell of a lot more effective at resistance, like the Comanches. One of the many moral failings of the Incan Empire was falling so easily to the Spanish.

      • Damien S.

        You conveniently leave out the plague that killed the previous Inca, his heir, and half or more of the ruling class, and probably a similar or worse proportion of the population at large. *That’s* what is generally acknowledged as causing the instability of the empire that allowed Pizarro to win. Just as plagues scythed the Aztecs for Cortez, and the Pilgrims settled in villages that had just been wiped out by disease. This has nothing to do with enterprise — which Reconquista Spaniards were terrible examples of anyway, unless conquest, slavery, and looting are ‘enterprise’.

  • Patrick T. Peterson

    I did not cry… but I cheered!

  • SimpleMachine88

    Libertarianism is the defense of emotion

  • JW Ogden

    The end of Rosling’s story reminded me of when I was in Honduras helping on my father in law’s farm. One worker who was helping out had set some traps and had caught some pretty blue birds. My greenieness and the beauty of the birds sort of disturbed me but I thought look at this poor skinny guy with his missing teeth better to be happy with him that he will get some good meat tonight.

  • stevenjohnson2

    The validation and interpretation of Haidt’s work is still in relatively early stages. It is not clear to me that they are as definitive as represented, for one thing. But even more, given the pervasive tendency for sensationalism in science reporting, is it really so certain that his work demands a radical revision of our outlook? Is it so certain that his measurements of “empathy” are meaningful in all contexts, as well as accurate and replicable?

    And, to what extent does individual personality determine the course of events in a real world situation? I don’t think there’s any real justification for considering this kind of personality survey to contribute to understanding politics any more than a personality survey of soldiers contributes to understanding warfare.

    As for this particular story, the real leftists, in the Marxian vein, believe in economic growth, and would approve this story. It’s the post-modernist (i.e., non- or anti-Marxist) “leftists” who are against growth. And, frankly, the peculiar thing is that environmentalism is ever considered a “left” issue at all.

    • Damien S.

      Reminds me of Ken MacLeod (or maybe his character, I forget) excoriating animal rights activists; Marxism is a *humanist* ideology, as in humans, rah rah.

      Environmentalism can be odd, yeah. Potential for a strong anti-immigrant streak for one, romanticism about Nature, Nazis supposedly passed animal rights laws, and one might think that “conservatives” would have something to do with conservation, or at least worry as much about fooling around with the ecology (a la pollution and extinction) as they do about fooling around with society (a la gay marriage.)

      OTOH, outlines the actual history a bit. It would also be a huge mistake to see environmentalists as generally anti-growth. Some would like to see humans go primitive and down in number, some want zero-growth, some are fine with growth as long as it’s clean and sustainable. All could point out that eating into your capital is not in fact real growth. Turning oil into plastics is like turning slow assets into more liquid forms; burning oil for cars is like blasting through your trust fund with no thought for the future.

      • Libertymike

        It would appear that you have been burning Kunstler so fast that it looks like you’re blasting through the downslope of peak oil. Are you ready for the Long Emergency?

      • Theresa Klein

        The reasons environmentalism got wrapped up with Marxism in the West is due to the enemy-of-my-enemy principle. They both hate capitalism for different reasons.

    • Theresa Klein

      Personally I think Haidt’s work has some major holes.
      For instance, when he says that liberals only use two axes of moral reasoning I think that is incorrect. Liberals definitely do have a purity-sanctity axis, and it revolves around money. Things that have been touched by money are “impure”. I.e. commerical exchange = degrading, sharing = pure.

      Secondly, I think Haidt strays a bit close to the is-ought fallacy, and a lot of his thesis ends up boiling down to boring old liberal tropes about framing terms correctly to appeal to other people. (If only we can wrap up our ideology in the clothing of loyalty and sanctity and authority then people will be convinced and join us.)

      What seems to be missing is any analysis of WHY Western Individualistic cultures got that way. Which is that we went through several centuries of warfare between competing religious groups, each harnessing the language of authority and sanctity and loyalty to get people to kill each other in the name of their faith. We have learned, slowly and painfully, to respect the individual conscience in matters of faith. And that, in turn, led painfully towards respect of individual consciences in general. We don’t harness the language of group loyalty or sanctity and degradation FOR A REASON. Almost every time people start doing it again, it leads to fascist totalitarian movements with lots of dead bodies surrounding them.

  • CaptainN

    So I guess you like the part where rich green folks shouldn’t be writing green laws for developing nations – I agree. But what about the part where the minister of energy became the president? That doesn’t sound like a market triumph – that’s pure old fashioned government triumph, no?

  • Theresa Klein

    I’m been going around promoting an ironic “Libertarians Don’t Have Empathy” meme. Basically any time I see a libertarian blog post on an issue like, civil asset forfeiture, eminent domain abuse, police shooting people’s dogs, people being imprisoned for victimless crimes, having their business regulated out of business, occupational licensing, and so on, I like to say “But Libertarians Don’t have Empathy”.

    The point is, Libertarians DO empathize, acutely, with whole classes of people who are getting screwed over by the government in various ways. They just don’t happen to be the conventional, bien-pensant, targets of empathy: the generic, context-free, poor.

    We have a mainstream media that is dominated by conventional attitudes about who *should* be the targets of empathy (the poor!). While libertarians tend to contextualize poverty, and look at society not just in terms of rich and poor, but other classes of people, victims of various type of injustice that aren’t conventionally recognized as victims. They might be poor (i.e. independent cab drivers), but they might not. But the conventional attitude is, by definition, the one that dominates the mainstream, and the assumption about who OUGHT to be empathized with is so embedded that it goes without saying. So all they SEE is use NOT (or not always) empathizing with the people that are conventionally regarded as worthy of empathy. They DON’T see us empathizing with these other classes of people, or themselves not empathizing with them, because the moral framework that defines who deserves empathy is embedded in their worldview. .

    • martinbrock

      … the generic, context-free, female, poor.

      • Theresa Klein

        Well, they do sympathize with poor males. And libertarians do sympathize with females. I mean a libertarian would be completely empathetic towards an upper-middle-class white female doctor whose medical practice suffers because she can’t get a state “certificate of need” to buy a new MRI machine. (A practice that protects established medical practices from competition).

        Whereas someone on the left would tend to think “that person is doing just fine economically, so who cares?” (Unless she could make a case that the only reason she was denied the CON is because she’s a woman, in which case they would charge sexism.)

        • Libertymike

          Don’t be so sure that the typical Democrat would empathize with an upper-middle-class white female doctor denied a CON, even if there are allegations that sexism occasioned the denial. Gender based discrimination alone does not guarantee such empathy where the same may compete with other interests.

        • martinbrock

          I don’t know about them. Rosling and Horwitz only sympathize with poor females above.

    • SimpleMachine88


      You know, I’ve wondered why if helping the poor is such a valuable purpose, why mainline democrats are so determined that there should be a state should deal with that sort of thing. Surely with such election determining numbers of the benevolent you’d think there wouldn’t be any problems left for the state.

      Empathy is a way for people to feel other people without, you know, touching them. That’s why the democratic party supports public housing and costly restrictions of development. They will help you live over there.

      They’re so in favor of empathy they’re constantly creating more people to feel empathic towards through their economic policies. After all, if people were allowed to have jobs, we wouldn’t be able to empathy them. Also, it delays the revolution.

      Interestingly of all political affiliations libertarians contribute the most to charity, and democrats the least. Of all the ways to express empathy for the poor, voting certainly has the advantage of being the cheapest.

      • Les Kyle Nearhood

        Every study ever made on this issue show the right donate more to charity than the left. I will wager that is also true of libertarians.

        • Damien S.

          Do those studies control for the right tending to be wealthier than the left, or for the size of donations? Do they count donations to church or college equally with donations to the poor?

          • John

            The right is not wealthier than the left. But nice try.

          • good_in_theory

            The left is on average slightly wealthier. But the rich are more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. Being wealthier on average is an artifact of the distribution.

            I’d say the proportion of the rich voting for one’s party is a more accurate conception of what it means for a party to be “wealthier” than their average wealth.

            In any case, the income distribution of “the left” is basically normal, while the income distribution of “the right” skews rich.


            BTW: Dick Cheney’s networth is estimated at $90 million. 10% to charity is nothing extraordinary.

          • John

            That was one year. Also, “net worth” is often mostly in paper certificates, not real tangible wealth. It could go up in smoke tomorrow.

          • John

            BTW, the left demonized Dick Cheney as being stingy, greedy and heartless, while he was quietly giving much of his fortune, more than $8m at least, to charity.

        • good_in_theory

          Nice hyperbole, but no, every study ever made does not show that. There’s mostly just that 2006 book cited all the time, written by the president of AEI.

          The most recent research on this issue shows no difference in the magnitude of charitable giving between conservatives and liberals.

          • Libertymike

            This is a question not easily susceptible to ascertaining the truthful answer.

          • good_in_theory


          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            I guess your right, but I do know it is no hyperbole to accuse the left of the upmost hypocrisy in this matter. Joe Biden gave an average of $369 anually to charity and Gore was about the same till he was outed, then the gave more. The Clintons donated their used undewear.

          • good_in_theory

            Joe Biden’s networth: ~$500k. $369 in charitable giving annually.
            Paul Ryan’s networth: $8 million. $15,000 over the 2010-2011 period in charitable giving.

            There’s nothing noteworthy about Biden’s giving.

          • John

            It’s noteworthy because these are the people that feel that charity is so important, it should be done by force. But maybe it’s because the left understand that they are naturally stingy and assume everyone else is. Dick Cheney has given $8m to charity and that’s only the money of which I’m personally aware, it could be far greater than that. It’s also noteworthy that the left doesn’t donate to government, or pay $1 more than they have to in taxes. To the contrary, they are very fastidious about making sure they pay no more than they are required.

          • good_in_theory

            Government services and their provision aren’t charity, and “the left” doesn’t view their provision as some act of whimsy for private conscience. Hence taxation.

          • John

            Right, because charity doesn’t involve misuse of public funds, let alone theft.

            Of course the left doesn’t see it as alleviating their guilty conscience for their own personal failings and good luck in life, because that’s the beauty of personality disorders.

          • good_in_theory

            You’re really boring

          • John

            It may come as a surprise to you, but entertaining you really isn’t a high priority for me.

          • good_in_theory

            Just letting you know I’m not interested in responding to brainless cliches.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            No, if you take the time to actually read the comments to this post, unrebutted by the author, it is pretty clear that the authors of the post have drawn conclusions unsubstantiated by the data. For example: , to which there was no response either from the author or anyone else.

      • Damien S.

        “voting certainly has the advantage of being the cheapest.”

        Unless you’re voting to raise your own taxes to fund the programs you want to exist.

        Fundamentally, charity is the poor begging for help, welfare is the poor having an enforceable right to help. Favoring the latter doesn’t mean one is less supportive of the poor.

        • SimpleMachine88

          “Unless you’re voting to raise your own taxes to fund the programs you want to exist.”

          No, you can be pretty well certain that your vote will have no effect on your taxes. There are a lot of votes.

          No, welfare is begging for help. Charity is looking for it from your fellow citizens, your equals, and respectfully. Welfare is looking for it from an entity the same entity that claims the right to put a baton in your face. It’s cringing.

        • John

          There is no “right” to help, let alone an enforceable one. That is a civil privilege, which, at best, is immoral.

          • good_in_theory

            the only difference between rights and civil privileges is that some people are deluded into thinking that “rights” are woven into the fabric of the universe, and not artificial constructions.

          • John

            Rights are woven into the fabric of intelligence and self-awareness, which means where there is intelligent life, there will exist natural rights.

            Also, civil privileges come at someone else’s expense, rights do not. Civil privileges require coercion towards others, rights do not.

          • good_in_theory

            All rights come at someone else’s expense. The question is whether the expense is justified or not. Many expenses are. Whether they are or not is conventional. You can’t deduce it, or observe it in nature.

          • John

            You’ll have to explain to me how my breathing comes at your expense.

          • good_in_theory

            If you have a right to breathe, it implies I have a duty not to interfere with your breathing. This diminishes what I myself have a right to do, hence it is at my expense. it’s pretty simple.

          • John

            There is no right to harm others. This is why understanding natural rights is so important. It keeps people from being confused so easily. My right to breathe doesn’t interfere with your right to stop me from breathing, because that isn’t a right at all.

          • good_in_theory

            There only isn’t a right to harm others if we decide their ought to be one. And in fact, its generally presumed that I have a right to harm others, so long as those other things aren’t human. It’s also often assumed that I have a right to harm others if I feel sufficiently threatened. And absent the appropriate legal specifications, I can do all sorts of things that harm people without them being able to get compensation, so long as the harm doesn’t rise to the level of what is determined to be actionable – by convention.

        • John

          Also, charity is helping someone freely and openly.

          Welfare is stealing from someone else and giving it away to make you feel good about yourself.

          Welfare is helping someone that not even his closest relatives or friends will help, because they don’t want to enable failure and they know better.

          • good_in_theory

            Charity is helping people out of your own private whimsy so as to make yourself feel righteous and enjoy the exercise of power over others by making their welfare contingent on your own proclivities, like a petty little tyrant lording over his vassals.

            I mean, as long as we’re dealing in vapid polemic.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      There is an accepted victim class. If you are not part of those classes, then you get no empathy .

    • John

      It’s ironic that the left is the philosophy of “zero tolerance” and have no empathy for anyone who engages in behavior of which they don’t approve, even if there is no harm to them personally, and they feel that the person must be punished, even if it destroys their entire lives. That’s a serious lack of empathy.

  • John

    “The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.”

    This is something that libertarians need to grok about the left. You can’t appeal to a strong leftist with logic, but emotion is still going to fail because their first and primary duty is to engineer a centrally controlled utopia and freedom is the enemy of that. They don’t WANT for freedom to succeed, it gets in their way.

    Yes, you can steer people away from being leftists at a young age if you catch them, help them, nurture them, and I’ve managed to create quite a few libertarians by doing so, but I’ve NEVER been able to take a hard core leftist and get them to embrace logic or success or the real world. It is extremely hard for a leftist to become anything else, but it generally requires massive cognitive dissonance and pain that can’t be relieved in any way but letting go of liberalism. John Stossell, for instance. Or Jonathan Haidt.

    The effective strategy isn’t to say “hey, look, we’re all in this together, we’re just like you”, it’s to pile on, relentlessly until they experience so much CD that they themselves go away to lick their wounds, shed their skin and come back to the real world of their own volition.

    And now is a particularly good time to pile on the left and make them experience as much CD as possible, until they feel so ashamed of being a leftist that they seek escape from it.

    • Damien S.

      “first and primary duty is to engineer a centrally controlled utopia”

      It’s funny how you say liberals don’t get it while totally failing to get it yourself.

      “I’ve NEVER been able to take a hard core leftist and get them to embrace logic or success or the real world”

      ‘reality has a liberal bias’. Libertarians and conservatives might ‘get’ liberal thought — according to one unreplicated study — but they tend to refuse to recognize liberal-friendly facts. Denying global warming, the low cost and effectiveness of universal health care systems world wide, sometimes the very existence of externalities…

      • John

        People tend to deny global warming because to accept it means to give into the leftist push to “do something” which could mean anything from being forced to ride a bicycle and melt down your car to live in teepees. Or maybe just huge taxes.

        Also, there is no truly low cost, effective health care system in the world. All are just mashups on a scale of low to high price, low to high effectiveness, low to high responsiveness, etc, etc. The best delivery method for health care is having people who can pay cash, generally with an HSA if through no other method, so that they will be as close to 100% responsibile with their money as possible.

        So, yeah, you’ll have to do better.

        • lambdaphage

          You know, I often chide leftists for burning libertarian strawmen, so let me now repay my own favor: do you believe the IPCC actually recommended anarcho-primitivism in its latest report?

          • John

            No, but those are the fears. I was just being a bit playful, though, no need to get so serious about it.

    • Damien S.

      You know, if you can’t convince people of something, there’s two possibilities. One is that they’re immune to reason, and the other is that they’re right and you’re wrong…

      • good_in_theory

        Well, there are more than two possibilities. The unconvinced don’t need to be right. More likely that the convincer is just wrong.

    • Theresa Klein

      I don’t think there is anything innate about that. Actually I think it’s a function of certain paranoid elements in the Left’s worldview. There’s a general belief that contradictory ideas are part of a plot by our corporate capitaiist overlords to brainwash people. See “False consciousness”, “Religion is the opiate of the masses”, Manufacturing Consent, the whole Tea Party is astroturfed by the Koch brothers, etc. So the left tends to be more closed to outside ideas more likely to filter against them and that leads to greatly enhanced confirmation bias.

      So the key to changing the minds of people on the left is to start by getting them to be less paranoid about other people’s ideas.

      • John

        In my own personal world, with equal numbers of left and right clients, I’ve noticed two major things.

        1. The right is far more reasonable with respect to expectations and are far less prone to “flipping out” when expectations aren’t met, to the contrary, they simply remind you of their expectations.

        2. The right is far more capable of discussing politics without anger or “flipping out” than the left, and more open to libertarian ideas, even if they don’t agree fully. For instance, you can talk to a conservative about gay marriage or immigration and while they may be against them, the reason isn’t the charicature that the left implies it is, and they’re willing to discuss it. I’ve convinced many Republicans that gay marriage isn’t bad (or that marriage really isn’t the business of the state) or that immigration isn’t a bad thing, or that legalizing drugs isn’t a bad thing.

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  • Rationalist

    The video is an excellent example of an

    Argumentum ad Misericordiam

    To counter it, you simply have to point
    out that by far not all women that get a washing machine will start
    reading books. There are so many alluring things for a woman to do.
    Most of them rather increase environmental damage.

  • Jameson Graber

    I know it’s too late to comment on this post, since once you reach about 15 comments everything is just drowned out, but when I read this piece closely, I find it disturbing.

    What you say is the following: “For libertarians, that’s not enough. Our empathy for the least well off can be engaged when the narrative in question draws on that empathy with an emotional story about actual results.”

    For me, “empathy” is prior to problem solving. Empathy is about being able to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes and/or to feel that someone else’s suffering is tragic. It can provoke us to try to solve problems, but it shouldn’t really require proposed solutions just to have empathy for other human beings.

    That said, I don’t believe it’s productive or even necessarily just to question someone else’s empathy. Should we have a contest to see who has cried more often for the poor in the last six months? Will that help the poor? If I’m sick, I don’t want a doctor who cries for me, I want a doctor who can heal me. Likewise, even if libertarians are the least empathic, maybe that’s precisely why they would make the best guides for societal changes that could bring prosperity.

    Oh well, there’s my drop in the bucket. I’m sure somewhere in the middle of these 169 someone has probably said this already.

  • Nikolaj Lykke Nielsen

    Pointing out the obvious: Hans Rosling doesn’t praise markets or capitalism. He doesn’t even mention those things. What he praises is industrialization, something completely different. I guess the video could have moved some USSR bureaucrats in the 1930s to tears as well.

    • stevecott

      But you will have blindly missed the point not to see that capitalism produces the results and communism does not.

      • Nikolaj Lykke Nielsen

        I grew up using a co-op coin wash – better and cheaper than any alternative I’ve seen that was made by a solitary capitalist, so I don’t agree with you.

        It sounds like you and Steve Horwitz are trying to have your cake and eat it too: Steve Horwitz makes a point that the video is “not one of the tribe telling us a story for the purposes of
        ideological solidarity.” So it isn’t extolling the virtues of capitalism – implicitly or explicitly – that makes libertarians cry, apparently. But he (and you) still throws “capitalism” and “markets” into his retelling of Rosling’s points. Is it important for your tears how the good results are achieved, or is it not?

        My wild guess is that libertarians cry when they see a positive connection between their grand abstract theories and the actual people in this world. But libertarians aren’t alone in loving an “abstract intellectual argument”; commissars do too.

        • disqus_MHw7a2dXsU

          You definitely missed the point of stevecott’s comment. Under communism, there never would have been a washing machine… ever. Only in the free markets, that give entrepreneurs the freedom to tinker and experiment with different methods, techniques, and technology, could the washing machine ever have been invented.

          The result of communism is, as it has always been, a terrifying hell on earth. The results of capitalism is, as it has always been, the only way to make the ordinary person’s life better off.

          This is obvious, as communism is about using the police state to coerce people to do things, regardless of whether or not people want to do those things. In a capitalist system, you can do whatever you like. And the only way to get other people to do things is to persuade people to do things. Since communism is about using physical force to achieve political goals, regardless of whether or not the ordinary person wants to achieve those goals, it is really no surprise.

          • Nikolaj Lykke Nielsen

            Oh my, I seem to have advocated communism. Now where did I write that…

            To spell it out: As I see it, Rosling’s story DOES becomes a story for the purpose of ideological solidarity after all, contrary to Horwitz’ claims, and you and stevecott do a great job of backing up my point.

            If ideology has no part in making you cry, then why mention it in the explanation of why you cry? Why the exultant praise of a subject that is said explicitly to not matter one bit?

            Btw., the USSR did invent, produce and improve stuff, including washing
            machines. Poor Mother Communist Russia, neither friends nor enemies want to recognize her as a true communist state!

          • disqus_MHw7a2dXsU

            Oh my, I seem to have advocated communism. Now where did I write that…

            Oh my, do you have a problem with reading comprehension. I never accused you of “advocat[ing] communism”.

            Note: If you’re going to try to pin a reading comprehension fail on someone, you shouldn’t fail so badly yourself.

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  • Climate change is Real(tm). Like Real(tm) Cheese it is a product ( a bad one ) that is being sold………by psycho libturd lefties like “TheTracker”

  • truth_machine

    Libertarians cry at this because it seems to validate their ideology … it’s strictly an ego thing.

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  • Kavod And Kaved

    This is all based on a widespread (not just among libertarians) misunderstanding of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras into the Great War. Industrialization preceded the Victorian Era, but was uncontrolled by British Liberal (libertarian) social and government outlook and led to massive creation of wealth in the hands of the few, and virtual slavery and misery for the poor, with disease and vice everywhere. It was the Victorian Era, with all it’s left-wingy economic controls and Public Works schemes coupled to its conservative and religious social agenda that saved the day and built the modern world, with public schools, sanitation, healthcare and modern civic planning. They built most of our monuments and great cities.

    Most women did not have washing machines until the 1950s, and you will find that illiteracy and drudgery were part of POOR women’s lives as they were a part of poor men’s lives,. Middle class women hired poor women to come help with their washing day, and so had plenty of time to be well read and learn languages. Rich women had the most time of all, as did rich men.

    The washing machine sure helped some women, except that it’s appearance in middle class and upper class homes deprived many poor women of their sole livelihood as washerwomen (poor women always worked outside the home) yet they could not afford one themselves. Many women still cannot afford one, or live where one is not permitted, and must use commercial laundromats which are not cheap, and if you don’t have a car, a real chore to haul your clothes to….that’s assuming that, now that so many people have one in the home, your local laundromat has not closed down.
    With the change in public sensibilities vis a vis the washing machine, many apartment buildings and housing complexes that used to tolerate it now feel that drying laundry on the balcony or in the back of your unit is a bit chavvy (lower class) and gives the building a bad name, lowering those free market rents they could be otherwise chargine for a tiny box with peeling lino, and so they ban them (oh how those free markets increase individual freedoms!), forcing women in poverty to haul their washing about in cabs, or pay for dryers and washers when some of their laundry might have been done in a tub, or at least hung on a line to save a bit of cash.
    Many poor women in the U.S. are still doing their laundry by hand, and hanging it up inconveniently indoors where the landlord can’t see it, because all the free market cancel-the-subsidies and get-the-highest-price-we-can rents and utility bills suck up all their minimum wage earnings….minimum wages libertarians are keen to see disappear because it “stimulates the economy” and “minimum wages result in job losses”. I’m sure when these women are working several jobs at 2 and 3 dollars an hour, none of which offers them enough hours to qualify for any benefits (assuming any jobs have them soon) will have plenty of time to read, and learn languages as they spend several hours a week sitting at the increasingly crowded sole laundromat in town
    . I think Mandarin will be very popular, seeing as the libertarians and their policies have allowed all our jobs to go over there, and the Chinese will soon be much wealthier than us, and might deign to send some of those jobs back to 3rd world America at $1 an hour while their top tier enjoys the leisure of the old robber baron’s lifestyle. But I’m sure their American maids will be grateful to be freed from the drudgery of hand-washing.

    (Ben Wilson sets out to mock the Victorians and is forced to admit all they did)

    I have had the testing done, I am extremely far masculine in my thinking, cerebral and non-emotive and I am still not a libertarian, because I have spent my post-industrial free time studying legitimate historians, psychologists and sociologists, not reading Ayn Rand. The failure of Libertarian economics, from Trickledown onwards is something that requires a severe degree of delusion to avoid accepting. It’s analogous to the “But Marxism has only failed because it’s never been properly implemented” crowd on the Left. Some things SOUND very logical and reasonable in theory (Marx’s Boom-Bust Theory still holds up pretty well) but don’t work in practice because they ignore the human nature in the system.

    Libertarians, being highly abnormally cerebral and unemotional, fail to account for the human factor every time. Being Eurocentric and male, they are still lost back in the 19th century exalting reason over emotion. If you had read Haidt properly, you would know that view has been overturned. We all make decisions emotionally, and our “reasonable and logical” verbal mind then works out the internal and external apologetics for it. The “smartest” of us are often just the ones who can come up with the best “reasons” for the stupid decisions we’ve already chosen, and talk circles around everyone else until they agree with us.

    Libertarianism would work perfectly well in a world full of robots, and maybe even in a world full of Libertarians. It fails over and over in the real world.

  • Bob_Robert

    Well, shit, yeah, I teared up at the end, too. “Thank you free markets!” would have been a nice addition.

    His idea of “more green energy” is also a market function. As the costs of petroleum and coal increase, the incentives for green energy increase.

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