Kevin Vallier – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com Free Markets and Social Justice Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:16:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cropped-site-icon-BHL-32x32.png Kevin Vallier – Bleeding Heart Libertarians http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com 32 32 22756168 CFP: Social Trust http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/10/cfp-social-trust/ Mon, 09 Oct 2017 21:16:40 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=12051 Call for Abstracts The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy Social Trust April 20th-21st, 2018 Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of...

The post CFP: Social Trust appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

Social Trust

April 20th-21st, 2018

Keynote Speakers: Cristina Bicchieri (University of Pennsylvania) and Ted Hinchman (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Political scientists and economists have studied social trust for decades, but social trust is seriously underexplored in philosophical contexts, despite a sizeable literature on personal trust in ethics, psychology, and epistemology. Yet given the centrality of social trust for social order, it seems natural to think that analyses of social trust and its value could help answer some of the central questions in social and political philosophy. The purpose of this workshop is to generate a cross-disciplinary discussion on the nature and value of social trust among philosophers, political scientists, and economists working in the area or interested in doing so. We invite a range of submissions from any theorists, social or normative, working on topics concerned with social trust.

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 15th, 2017.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January 2018.

Please submit abstracts to Sally Pietrasz (pietras@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences.html. Information about the 2018 workshop will be posted soon.

The post CFP: Social Trust appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
12051
The Moral Imperative of School Choice http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/moral-imperative-school-choice/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/moral-imperative-school-choice/#comments Fri, 26 May 2017 15:32:34 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11833 In my new Niskanen Center essay, I argue that school choice is a moral imperative. This is so even if school choice produces no boost to educational outcomes. If you value...

The post The Moral Imperative of School Choice appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
In my new Niskanen Center essay, I argue that school choice is a moral imperative. This is so even if school choice produces no boost to educational outcomes. If you value liberty as a policy default and respect parental autonomy, you should support school choice. There’s something for all libertarians to like here, as well as many conservatives, and perhaps even a few progressives.

The post The Moral Imperative of School Choice appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/05/moral-imperative-school-choice/feed/ 23 11833
The Why and How of Reasonable Disagreement http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/the-why-and-how-of-reasonable-disagreement/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/the-why-and-how-of-reasonable-disagreement/#comments Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:48:43 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11757 The Niskanen Center has posted my new essay on reasonable political disagreements. I explain both why we often mistakenly assume that our political disagreements are unreasonable and how to avoid...

The post The Why and How of Reasonable Disagreement appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
The Niskanen Center has posted my new essay on reasonable political disagreements. I explain both why we often mistakenly assume that our political disagreements are unreasonable and how to avoid this error.

The post The Why and How of Reasonable Disagreement appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/04/the-why-and-how-of-reasonable-disagreement/feed/ 49 11757
The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income Conference, April 7th-8th http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/03/future-work-technology-basic-income-conference-april-7th-8th/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:40:13 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11659 Bowling Green State University’s philosophy department is hosting a conference entitled, “The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income” on April 7th and 8th. You can find a flyer...

The post The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income Conference, April 7th-8th appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Bowling Green State University’s philosophy department is hosting a conference entitled, “The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income” on April 7th and 8th. You can find a flyer with more information here. We have three keynotes: Evelyn Forget, Philippe Van Parijs, and BHL’s very own Matt Zwolinski.

The post The Future of Work, Technology, and a Basic Income Conference, April 7th-8th appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
11659
Are You a Grandstander? http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/01/are-you-a-grandstander/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/01/are-you-a-grandstander/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:48:24 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11517 Philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi have recently published some important new research on the social phenomenon known as grandstanding. You grandstand when you contribute to public discourse in order to convince others that you are...

The post Are You a Grandstander? appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Philosophers Brandon Warmke and Justin Tosi have recently published some important new research on the social phenomenon known as grandstanding. You grandstand when you contribute to public discourse in order to convince others that you are morally respectable. So grandstanding attempts to convince others to make judgments about you that are positive. Perhaps you want others to think that you’re worthy of respect or admiration because you love social justice or that you’re remarkably capable of empathy. You grandstand when you turn your contribution to public discourse into a vanity project. I’d say grandstanding looks pretty bad, don’t you?

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of grandstanding that we encounter on the internet, especially on Facebook. I’d estimate that a very large fraction of political posts are attempts to grandstand. They’re not attempts to convince or offer an argument. In fact, thanks to Brandon and Justin’s work, I’ve found that I do a lot of grandstanding on Facebook and I’ve tried to make an effort to stop. (Is my last sentence an example of grandstanding?).

Understanding grandstanding is important if we are to figure out both who is worth listening to. The idea of grandstanding also helps determine whether we deserve to be listened to on political or other topics. I encourage you to read their paper in Philosophy and Public Affairs (one of the finest journals in all of value theory). You can access an ungated copy here. There’s a nice Huffpo discussion of the article here. And there’s a great interview with Brandon and Justin by Very Bad Wizards here.

The post Are You a Grandstander? appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2017/01/are-you-a-grandstander/feed/ 5 11517
CFP: PPE Society Panel on Policy Epistemology http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/cfp-ppe-society-panel-policy-epistemology/ Mon, 21 Nov 2016 18:26:32 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11426 The newly formed Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Society is hosting its first annual conference from March 16th to March 19th, 2017 in New Orleans. The conference contains a variety...

The post CFP: PPE Society Panel on Policy Epistemology appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
The newly formed Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Society is hosting its first annual conference from March 16th to March 19th, 2017 in New Orleans. The conference contains a variety of panels, and we’re hosting one on policy epistemology. Policy epistemology concerns all the questions surrounding the ethics of belief and advocacy regarding public policy, especially with respect to those who formulate and implement policy. How much evidence does one require in order to justify an expansion of public health insurance? How high of an evidential bar must empirical evidence satisfy before it can justify legal restrictions, such as regulations on carbon emissions? How should we handle rational disputes about social scientific questions as they bear on public policy? For instance, how seriously should we take the fact that macroeconomic policy is the subject of enormous disputes between expert economists in formulating countercyclical policy? Does disagreement prevent government officials from implementing, say, Keynesian countercyclical economic policy?

If you would like to present at the PPE society on topics falling under the general heading of policy epistemology, I encourage you to submit an abstract of fewer than 250 words to me at kevinvallier@gmail.com before the end of the year, December 31st, 2016.

The post CFP: PPE Society Panel on Policy Epistemology appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
11426
Healing Through Decentralization http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/healing-through-decentralization/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/healing-through-decentralization/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 16:24:10 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11385 Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. He was elected in perhaps the most polarized election of the last 100 years. We have, more and more,...

The post Healing Through Decentralization appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Donald J. Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. He was elected in perhaps the most polarized election of the last 100 years. We have, more and more, two cultural-political tribes in the United States. And the red tribe’s hatred for the blue tribe beat the blue tribe’s hatred of the red tribe. On social media, and in the press, many people grasp the consequences of this division. Trump is what happens in a country where people so despise one another’s politics that they will either elect a man who is manifestly unqualified or insult and despise everyone who voted for him. If we hope to move forward, it would be wonderful if we could depolarize and compromise on pressing issues. But sentiment is not enough. Healing requires political decentralization.

Polarization Isn’t Going Away

While researching for my forthcoming book, Must Politics Be War?, I’ve been reading a lot of literature on political polarization. One important question is whether the increase in party polarization over the last fifty years is the cause or the effect of polarization among the public. A second important question is whether the public is polarized, or whether party polarization simply makes it appear that way.

In his new book, Polarizedpolitical scientist James Campbell develops a theory of revealed polarization which holds that the American electorate is highly polarized and was not always so (53). Polarization may have increased recently, but Americans became highly polarized in the mid to late 1960s. The parties began to polarize in the late 1970s to early 1990s and it has only gotten worse, but they are merely coming to reflect long-existing divisions among the general public.

If Campbell is right, Americans disagree with each other a lot and have for fifty years. Our disagreements are long-standing and they aren’t going away. And since we disagree, and suffer from in-group bias, our tendency will be to see those who disagree as alien and different and insist that they have nasty motives and suffer severe cognitive deficits. Of course, this perception is partly driven by the fact that many red tribers and blue tribes have nasty motives and grave cognitive deficits when it comes to political matters. But complaining about that isn’t getting us anywhere either.

In my book, I argue that our deep disagreements about the good and justice are often reasonable, and are likely to endure. In light of that, I argue that we can establish a morally valuable kind of social trust across our ideological differences through several institutional reforms, and most of them involve the decentralization of power. Our polarization is socially destructive because we insist on making decisions collectively when we can’t even begin to agree on what the collective decision should be.

Decentralization Through Freedom of Association

I argue that freedom of association is absolutely critical to sustaining relations of social trust across difference, even if it allows people to retreat further into their echo chambers. This is because our attempts to control each others’ forms of association are a source of severe conflict. Attempts to ban same-sex marriage have created huge ill-will, as have attempts to compel religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriage. Attempts to force religious organizations to provide contraception has helped to make religious liberty, once a widely affirmed liberty even twenty years ago, into a partisan issue. I fully expect universities to come under renewed scrutiny under a Trump administration, and I fully expect universities to continue to exclude diverse viewpoints from campus, and to stigmatize conservative and religious organizations on campus.*

Freedom of association allows people with deeply divergent values live out their conceptions of the good and justice in peace with one another. Attempts to restrict this liberty create division and distrust. If we decentralize more power to associations, we can reap the benefits of social peace.

Decentralization Through Federalism

I also argue that federalism is a critical mechanism for reducing division. In some parts of the country, the red tribe and the blue tribe live in close proximity. But in some states, one tribe is dominant. It is better, on balance, to let each tribe dominate in those locales rather than trying to defeat one another at the national level. Healthcare policy has proven incredibly divisive, even hateful. Education policy creates increasing division. Drug policy has been a disaster. If we make decisions at the state or local level, we will have more flexibility in figuring out how each tribe wants to govern itself, such that they will have less of a stake in trying to govern and control the other tribe.

That’s not to say that we should do nothing federally. Foreign policy is invariably national, and racial policy should remain national. But we can do much more at the state and local level. I argue this would help depolarize us without eliminating our ongoing disagreements.

Potential for Abuse

Of course, both freedom of association and federalism can be abused. As Jacob Levy has reminded us, decentralization can make us vulnerable to bigotry and local tyranny. Yet we can nonetheless err too much in the centralist direction. I think it’s clear that we have swung too far in the centralist direction. Presidents have so much power that the red tribe and the blue tribe should fear government by the other.

But if we are prepared to give up some of our power over one another, we can live together better. We will, of course, still have our disagreements. But freedom of movement between different communities would allow people to self-sort and form communities with the like-minded without having to despise and rage against their red or blue overlords.

Centuries ago, we had similar fights about religious establishment. Protestants and Catholics feared that the other group endangered the eternal salvation of millions. And yet, after lots of awful conflict, they figured out a tolerant solution that decentralized religious establishment. Neither side liked the solution at first. But over the centuries, both came to accept and cherish their religious freedom. But if we are willing to trust one another enough to decentralize power, we don’t have to agree about how to live; we need merely agree about the level at which collective decisions must be made. That agreement is surely more practical and moral than what we’ve been doing for the last few decades.

Lesson

We can heal, but to do so, we must decentralize power. To live together, we must do less together.

 

*I am not arguing that governments should restrict universities’ right to exclude those who disagree with their values. That’s part of their freedom of association. But I also think that universities should cut it out.

The post Healing Through Decentralization appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/11/healing-through-decentralization/feed/ 29 11385
CFP: The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/09/cfp-future-work-automation-basic-income/ Sat, 10 Sep 2016 18:59:06 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=11109 Members and readers of the blog should find this of interest. We have our very own Matt Zwolinski speaking! Please send this to anyone you think might want to apply....

The post CFP: The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Members and readers of the blog should find this of interest. We have our very own Matt Zwolinski speaking! Please send this to anyone you think might want to apply.

Call for Abstracts

The Bowling Green Workshop in Applied Ethics and Public Policy

The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income

April 7-8, 2017

Invited Speakers include: Matt Zwolinski (USD) and Evelyn Forget (Manitoba)

Those interested in presenting a paper are invited to submit a 2-3 page abstract (double-spaced) by Dec. 1, 2016. Papers need not address each element of the workshop theme.  We are casting a wide net, and encourage thinking broadly about the theme.

Only one submission per person is permitted. Abstracts will be evaluated by a program committee and decisions will be made by the end of January, 2017.

Please submit abstract to Irene Harris (iharris@bgsu.edu).

Information about previous workshops is available at the workshop website: http://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/philosophy/workshops-and-conferences/policing-and-prisons.html. Information about the 2017 workshop will be posted soon.

The post CFP: The Future of Work, Automation, and a Basic Income appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
11109
Why Voting for Trump is Not a Morally Good Choice for Christians: A Reply to Wayne Grudem http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/why-voting-for-trump-is-not-a-morally-good-choice-for-christians-a-reply-to-wayne-grudem/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/why-voting-for-trump-is-not-a-morally-good-choice-for-christians-a-reply-to-wayne-grudem/#comments Sun, 31 Jul 2016 17:18:22 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=10913 I want to respond to a conservative Christian theologian who has an enormous influence in evangelical politics, someone who is in some respects friendly to limited government – Wayne Grudem....

The post Why Voting for Trump is Not a Morally Good Choice for Christians: A Reply to Wayne Grudem appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
I want to respond to a conservative Christian theologian who has an enormous influence in evangelical politics, someone who is in some respects friendly to limited government – Wayne Grudem. Most of you have never heard of him, but he has the ears of probably hundreds of thousands of evangelicals.

Grudem has argued that Christians should vote for Trump for several reasons. First, he thinks we are morally required to vote for the lesser of two evils when the lesser evil isn’t too bad, he then argues Trump isn’t too bad, and he then argues that from a Christian perspective, on a number of issues, Trump is better than Hillary. For a harsh reply, see this, which I somewhat agree with. I want to try to be a bit more careful and compelling.

Here’s the summary of my reply: if you are a single-issue abortion voter, and you think you’re obligated to vote, and think you’re obligated to choose between Hillary and Trump, you should probably vote for Trump, but with enormous regret and concern. Otherwise not.

Trump’s Character and Trump on the Supreme Court

I’d like to take Grudem’s points one by one and then discuss some issues that I think he has ignored. Grudem takes for granted that Trump seems to have poor character but he doesn’t think these flaws disqualify him. He denies that Trump is a racist or a misogynist on the grounds that the press is simply “exaggerating some careless statements he made.” He also claims that “I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country.” I don’t see any reason to think that Trump’s attitude towards women is anything but beneath contempt given his long history of treating women as objects, so I don’t understand that point. And I have no idea whether Trump wants what is best for the country. Christians believe that humans are rife with sin, and that power corrupts. The people who seek the greatest power in the world – the US presidency – are almost certainly going to be bad people, whether we can perceive it or not. We should therefore tend to view the character of presidential candidates with skepticism. And Trump’s behavior isn’t incompatible with that skepticism.

Grudem then attempts to argue on the basis of the Old Testament that Christians have a duty to enter politics in order to seek the welfare of the people. And then he thinks Christians should ask themselves the following question: “Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps a liberal like Hillary Clinton win the presidency?” My own view is that our individual votes make such a tiny contribution to outcomes that we have no reason to think that our individual vote has any effect in favoring Trump over Hillary. That’s why I think people should, in general, vote their informed conscience. But Grudem thinks that we should vote for Trump based on Christian conscience, so let me address those arguments.

Grudem’s main argument is that Trump is going to make better Supreme Court appointments than Hillary. For evangelicals, that means justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade. I don’t really know if Trump will appoint the people he says he will appoint, but if he does, then yes, they are more likely to overturn Roe than Hillary’s justices, since Hillary is virtually guaranteed to nominate pro-Roe justices. She has been more consistent on being pro-choice than basically any other issue throughout her career. So on this point, I think Grudem is right that Trump will probably be better than Hillary, just because Hillary is about as pro-choice as possible.

He also claims that Trump will be better on religious liberty issues since Hillary’s court appointments and legislation will undermine the preservation of religious exemptions that many Christians think are incredibly important. From an evangelical perspective, I think he is right. However, while I have defended religious liberty on this blog, I don’t think the loss of liberty we’ve seen so far and can expect to see will progress very far to make these issues more important than other considerations like foreign policy, abortion, healthcare, immigration, criminal justice reform, and so on. So while I agree with Grudem that Trump will probably be better than Hillary on religious liberty, I don’t think this issue should decide your vote this election, as I think other issues are of greater importance, as we’ll see below. Abortion is an entirely different story. It makes a lot of sense to be a single issue abortion voter.

I think it’s really important, though, to recognize that Trump is remarkably unpredictable for a presidential candidate. Grudem admits that Trump could easily change his mind, but his response is basically to assure us that Trump is likely to do what he says, and suggests, somehow, that Trump keeps moving “in a more conservative direction,” which I don’t really understand. Trump has shown no interest in principled conservatism at all. He has openly ridiculed the priorities of basically all conservatives.

Other Policy Differences

From here, my(partial) agreement with Grudem ends. Let’s go through the other issues one by one.

Free Speech

I do not think Hillary is going to criminalize dissent or undermine free speech. I don’t see any evidence of that. Hillary is a center-leftist on these issues and has shown no sympathy to progressive attitudes on these matters. Further, Trump has actually, literally threatened the free speech of papers that criticize him.

Taxes

While Trump wants to cut taxes, and that can help economic growth, he doesn’t want to reduce spending, and so we’ll just rack up even greater deficits.

Education

Yes, Trump has paid lip service to school choice and Hillary is likely to oppose it, but that’s mostly sorted itself out at the state level and I see no reason to think Hillary is going to be any more hostile to it than Obama has been.

The Military

Grudem claims that Trump will rebuild our “depleted” military forces, but our military forces aren’t depleted, not even a little bit. We have the largest military in the world several times over and we have troops and bases all over the world. If anything, we should cut military spending and give that money back to people in the form of tax cuts and effective social services.

Immigration

Grudem then argues that Trump will “finally secure our borders” and that “Clinton will not do this but will continue to allow in what she thinks will be thousands of future Democratic voters.” I think this is unmoored from the reality that Obama has deported huge numbers of illegal immigrants, such that our borders are already “secure.” Trump’s policy of building a wall and deporting vulnerable immigrants who want to make a better life for themselves is, in my view, in deep tension with the spirit of Christianity, not to mention the Old Testament requirements of hospitality and welcoming the stranger. Consider Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

If there are passages in the Old Testament that apply to policy issues today (and I don’t think there are many, surely none that are direct), then this one is relevant to immigration. Christians should be friendly to large-scale immigration out of a sense of mercy and social justice. Immigration is incredibly valuable for immigrants, and benefits everyone in the end. Economists repeatedly find very little downside to immigration. Here I think Grudem is completely wrong about how Christians should think about immigration and Trump. Trump has a decidedly anti­-Christian position on immigration.

Terrorism and ISIS

Grudem also thinks that Trump will be better on terrorism and ISIS because Trump will actually launch a ground war. Clinton “will continue the anemic Obama policy of periodic bombing runs and drone attacks.” That’s selling Hillary short. She’s a hawk, and I think she is more likely to put troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq than Trump, who has emphasized his non-interventionism repeatedly. If anything, Grudem has this backwards.

Also, let’s not forget that Trump supports torture and Hillary doesn’t. Christians must oppose torture; I think that’s obvious.

China and Russia

Grudem says “Trump will not let China and Russia and Iran push us around anymore, as Obama has done.” This seems to me confused. Russia does not push us around. China does not push us around. Iran certainly does not push us around. I don’t understand why Grudem thinks this is true. We’re the ones with military bases near their countries, and we’re the ones who have repeatedly interfered with Iran’s political institutions over the last several decades. Are all three countries dangerously authoritarian? Absolutely. But are they threatening us? That is doubtful.

Israel

Trump is apparently more pro-Israel than Clinton, who Grudem thinks will be like Obama. This is also strange. Clinton is extremely “pro-Israel” and has, again, never given us reason to think otherwise. Sure, Trump will be more bellicose, but if he’s as non-interventionist as he says, we can expect Hillary to side with Israel more than Trump does.

And, while Grudem speaks for many extremely pro-Israel evangelicals, Trump has shown no recognition whatsoever than anything that the Israeli government does is unfair or unjust to Palestinians. And that strikes me as a major failing in anyone’s approach to the Middle East. Christians should care about the plight of the weak and the poor, and that includes Palestinians.

Energy

Grudem likes Trump on these issues because Trump will be more pro-oil. He completely ignores all environmental issues raised by our use of fossil fuels. God has charged us to be good stewards of the earth, and that probably means not supporting unrestricted carbon emissions that are causing climate change that will damage the entire world, and the weakest and poorest equatorial countries the most. If we want to be good stewards and to care for the global poor, we should be deeply concerned about our use of fossil fuels. The science isn’t “settled,” but it is strong enough that any Christian should take the case for a carbon mitigation very, very seriously to protect human welfare. I say more about this below, but here, Hillary is likely to be better than Trump.

Healthcare

Grudem says that Trump will try to repeal Obamacare which “is ruining the nation’s healthcare system, and replace it with an affordable free market system …” This is also confused. Obamacare has its problems, but it’s not been an unmitigated disaster so far, in large part because it appeals to imperfect but nonetheless real market mechanisms through the exchanges. We just don’t know enough to say that it is “ruining the nation’s healthcare system.”

Moreover, we have absolutely no reason to think that Trump will try to give us a free market in healthcare. Trump just never talks about market freedom. He doesn’t believe in it. That’s one of his consistent commitments, actually. Trump has also supported universal healthcare in the primary. His views aren’t that different from Hillary. We also have no clue what Trump will replace Obamacare with.

Also, while I’m very friendly to the market, Grudem expresses no concern that repealing Obamacare will deprive a lot of people of health insurance and undermine the ban of higher costs for pre-existing conditions. There are harmful ways to repeal Obamacare and Trump has shown no understanding of these subtleties at all. If Christians are concerned about the poor and the weak, we cannot ignore this.

The “Unprotected”

Grudem then claims that Trump is likely to protect the weak and forgotten Americans very effectively, and to keep them from being belittled by progressives. I don’t really know where to begin here, since Grudem’s only discussion of minorities is in giving them school choice. Christians should be worried about whether Trump’s “law and order” views will lead to marginalization and violence against poor Hispanics and blacks. More on this below. So even assuming Trump will “protect” the “unprotected,” it is hard to see how Hispanics and blacks are fully included in that group.

I also don’t really know what Trump is going to do to help poor whites, at least not with respect to policy.

Unaddressed Christian Issues

Now I’d like to talk about a variety of issues that Grudem omits.

Anti-Poverty Policy

Grudem says nothing about reforming anti-poverty policy in the US, save a few words about school vouchers (which are great, by the way). Many Christians believe that the state has a duty to provide effective social services to the poor, and these programs will probably be more effective under Hillary than Trump. But if Jesus is a guide to politics at all (and He says so little), He gives us powerful reason to care about the poor and weak among us. A lot of people rely on social services, and taking them away without simultaneous reforms to give the poor the ability to help themselves and to give civic society the tools to replace the welfare state is to throw the poor to the curb. Christians can’t support the destruction of social services that so many poor people rely on without a steadfast, rock-solid commitment to alternative policies that we have good reason to think will also help. For what it’s worth, Trump loves the welfare state, so that’s not really a mark in favor of Hillary and against Trump. But I expect Hillary will be a better overseer of the social welfare programs we have and are very likely to have for the foreseeable future.

Justice for Women and Minorities

Grudem says precious little about how to compare Trump and Hillary when it comes to combating racism, sexism, and cruelty to gays and lesbians. Trump stokes the flames of white resentment and totally ignores the horrors that blacks in this country often suffer at the hands of police. I think he might actually care more about women’s issues than it appears, given Ivanka’s speech and her influence on him, but it can’t be much. We’ve heard nothing about this from Trump himself. Hillary will probably be better on these issues.

Criminal Justice Reform

Christians across the political spectrum have been getting more and more concerned about our problem with over-incarceration. We are commanded repeatedly to visit the prisoner and to care for him (Matthew 25:36). That gives us reason to worry that our prison-industrial complex is totally out of control. Hillary will at least pay lip service to criminal justice reform; Trump doesn’t care. Hillary is likely to be sensitive to criticism from the left, particularly given her past terrible record on crime bills. I think we’re more likely to get criminal justice reform from her than from Trump. Trump has also defended police actions no matter what they do, and that’s a failure to take the welfare of African Americans seriously with respect to criminal justice.

Foreign Policy

If, like me, you take Jesus’ hostility to violence very seriously, then you have to take the just war tradition seriously, and perhaps even have questions about whether the just war tradition justifies war too easily. That means we should be extremely wary of foreign intervention and always ask whether our interventions do more harm than good. Grudem likes Trump because he falsely thinks that Trump is likely to be more interventionist than Hillary, but insofar as he is predictable on this issue (and he isn’t), he looks like he’ll be more restrained than Hillary, who has never met a war she didn’t like. So that might actually be a Christian reason to slightly favor Trump, oddly enough.

Environmental Issues

Grudem also shows insufficient sensitivity to worries about the environment. As I’ve discussed above, I think Christians have a strong duty to care about being good environmental stewards. I think that has lots of implications, like that Christians should oppose factory farming. But I want to stress that Grudem is too indifferent to the very serious threat of climate change. Even if climate change is likely to be mild and have some benefits, there is a non-trivially low risk of very, very bad things happening. That, to me, is enough to justify some kind of carbon control policy. As a libertarian, I’m pretty confident that after a few years, a carbon tax will dissipate as companies innovate their way around it. So while it will be a burden, it won’t be very long, and it could save the planet in the meanwhile. Hillary will do more to combat climate change than Trump.

Free Trade

Despite disagreeing about many things, economists do agree that free trade improves the welfare of just about everyone over the long-run. Since Christians should care about the global poor, and since free trade helps the global poor, I think Christians should be free traders. Trump hates free trade and will be worse on this issue than Hillary. Hillary will probably support the TPP, and that’s going to be good for human welfare.

The Rule of Law

Trump has displayed no understanding of the constitution and does not respect the rule of law at all. He has repeatedly proposed to engage in flagrantly unconstitutional violations of the powers of the presidency by threatening companies who send jobs overseas and even threatening the press, like the Washington Post. Hillary is a statist, but even she will probably be better on these issues than Trump. Sometimes Trump seems like a tyrant in waiting. Grudem shows no sensitivity to these issues. But since Christians recognize the depravity of man and the tendency of power to corrupt, we should celebrate and protect the rule of law. Trump cares for it not one bit.

Conclusion: Hillary, Trump, or Someone Else?

If Christians must choose between Hillary and Trump. I say good luck. From my perspective, they’re both outrageously unacceptable. Grudem is right that Hillary’s justices will not protect the unborn and they will probably be at least somewhat less friendly to religious liberty.And abortion is a hugely important issue for Christians, and evangelicals in particular. That’s a good reason not to vote for Hillary. She’s also likely to get us in an unjust war, which is another reason not to vote for her.

But Trump is also terrible. He doesn’t care about the environment, we have no idea how he will approach healthcare or anti-poverty policy. He will be incredibly cruel to poor, defenseless immigrants and will not attempt to reform policing to protect racial minorities. On all those issues, Hillary is likely to be better.

Gary Johnson

But I think Christians have a better third choice – Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Let me begin with Johnson’s flaws. While Johnson is pro-life personally, he is pro-choice legally  before viability. That’s not good. However, his Supreme Court nominees are likely to be originalists/textualists, and they will be more likely to overturn Roe than not. Johnson has said in the past that he supports returning abortion law to the states, which is the most pro-lifers can reasonably hope for. He also supports appointing originalists, though Weld seems to prefer moderates, which I admit is worrisome. However, Steven Kopp has argued for this conclusion about Johnson: “Ironically, though he is not strictly pro-life, he might be the most pro-life candidate on the ballot.”

Johnson has also been wishy-washy on religious liberty, but I don’t think he’ll be especially hostile to it in office.

But even if he’s bad on religious liberty, and not great on abortion, he’s better than Trump on every other issue and more trustworthy in terms of who he will nominate. He’s better on war, trade, criminal justice reform, police reform, healthcare, and foreign policy. He’s better than Hillary on almost every issue as well. My only other reservation is that Johnson is not great on climate change. On that one issue, I think Hillary will be better.

So while I don’t think Christians should be really excited about Johnson, I think he’s obviously superior from a Christian perspective, on the whole, than Trump or Hillary. And I don’t think you’re throwing your vote away by voting for him, since our individual votes don’t really matter, so, again we might as well vote our conscience. And even if our votes did matter, Trump and Hillary are both really, really bad choices for Christians. Maybe some Christians will have to sit this election out. But this Christian will be voting for Johnson with only mild reservations.

In sum, I don’t think Trump is a good choice for Christians because he is bad on basically every issue, save maybe foreign policy and religious liberty, and he is probably better than Hillary on abortion from an evangelical perspective.

The post Why Voting for Trump is Not a Morally Good Choice for Christians: A Reply to Wayne Grudem appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/why-voting-for-trump-is-not-a-morally-good-choice-for-christians-a-reply-to-wayne-grudem/feed/ 25 10913
You Can’t Get There From Here? A Reply to Magness http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/you-cant-get-there-from-here-a-reply-to-magness/ http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/you-cant-get-there-from-here-a-reply-to-magness/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 16:30:28 +0000 http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/?p=10886 Phil Magness replies to my post by advancing a new argument that while the UBI might be a fine policy, we can’t get to it from our present circumstances. If...

The post You Can’t Get There From Here? A Reply to Magness appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
Phil Magness replies to my post by advancing a new argument that while the UBI might be a fine policy, we can’t get to it from our present circumstances. If we try, we’ll end up with a UBI + the current welfare state arrangements. In order words, you can’t get there from here.

This is, to my mind, a new argument, and in some respects a better one. I think there are serious institutional hurtles to getting a UBI off the ground in the US. Not only is it far away from what most people think is feasible, which itself makes the UBI less feasible, it likely violates the sense of justice of most people in the US, given that it is likely that the unconditional nature of the UBI will create enormous resentment.

But these considerations, along with Phil’s story about how we’d end up with the welfare state + a UBI prove too much. They suggest that policy change isn’t seriously possible, and so isn’t worth pushing for. In a detailed exchange between Will Wilkinson, Phil, and Pete Boettke in one of my Facebook threads, we were eventually able to agree that the UBI is not feasible at present in the US. But Phil and Pete insisted that unless we’re very careful about explaining how we could arrive at a UBI through a series of practical political bargains, that we UBI advocates are essentially utopian.

I don’t think that’s true. And I don’t think they really believe that either. This is because both Pete and Phil are libertarians – they support policy changes that would radically alter the institutional landscape in the United States. They recognize that these arrangements aren’t presently feasible, but by fighting and winning the battle of ideas, they hope to make presently infeasible arrangements feasible. So it can’t be fallacious to support ideas or policies that are not at presently politically feasible or hard to arrive at. You just have to be aware of the non-ideal circumstances in trying to figure out how to gradually render your policy proposal more feasible by changing moral beliefs, altering the power of interest groups, etc.

To illustrate, I’m going to run an argument parallel to Phil’s post by replacing “UBI” with “privatization” and “welfare state” with “socialist state. I will also make a few other minor alterations. If the parallel argument is successful, it should also show that we shouldn’t attempt to privatize socialized industries. And that, I presume, is an unacceptable outcome for Phil (or Pete). My general point is that if Phil is right, we should doubt whether we can make any major policy change given that Congress will muck it up. For after all, why risk privatization when we might end up with a worse replacement, like a botched privatization that leads to a more long-lasting resocialization, or perhaps an inefficient crony-capitalist industry with vestiges of socialism (privatized profits but socialized costs)?

So here we go mimicking Phil’s post:

I can accordingly think of one very likely scenario where [privatization’s] affliction with the problems of rent seeking, waste, corruption etc. is not simply worse but significantly worse than … current [socialism]: the scenario in which [privatization] is adopted due to a promised [“free market”] replacement for the existing [socialist] state…. Now wait a minute, you might say – that’s not a part of what [the privatization advocate] is proposing! Indeed it isn’t, but remember – we are living in a non-ideal political world. The seamless execution of a [political move from] the current [socialist] state to [privatization] is highly improbable in non-ideal conditions, so we must contemplate the adoption of our non-ideal policy in accordance with the most likely pathway to its implementation.

I’ll go ahead and predict right now what will likely happen if, say, Congress were to seriously consider implementing a [privatization]:

  1. A deal would be proposed to [substitute a privatized industry for] the existing [socialist] state …. This deal would carry all the promises that we now hear from [privatization] supporters about how the new policy would be welfare-improving and more efficient than the hodgepodge of a system we currently have.
  1. Once [privatization] is adopted, it will need to be phased in over several years if not decades in order to wean us off the old [socialist] system and onto the new. This will involve a “phasing out” of all of the elements of the old [socialist] state over many years, likely on a schedule prescribed by law.
  1. When the first phase-out deadlines arrive for the old [socialist] state, interest groups that are highly invested in those programs will begin to realize the imminent loss of their captured and concentrated program-specific rents, even though all people also now have [a privatized industry]. A number of them will move to preserve the rents of the old [socialist] system by pressuring Congress to carve out an exemption to the previously agreed upon schedule.
  1. Pressure to abandon the agreed-upon schedule will be immense, and will point to perceived deficiencies in the newly-adopted [privatized] system as a reason to “preserve” part if not all of the old [socialist] state …. You can expect to see news features and TV commercials that illustrate the sob stories of children or other dependents who still need food/clothing/medical attention despite having [privatization]. This includes a very likely number of cases where incompetent parents or guardians misappropriated their [shares in the privatized industry or lower prices from the privatized industry] on wasteful or frivolous self-indulgence, leaving their dependents little better off than they were previously. The paternalistic instincts of the [socialist] state will come out in full force.
  1. Amidst these and other pressures, Congress will cave, because the concentrated benefits of that rent will have an advantage over the diffuse costs of the [privatization]. We also have extensive evidence that Congress will cave because that is what Congress usually does in this very similar scenarios where a previously agreed-upon expenditure-limiting schedule runs into political demands in the present for continued appropriations.
  1. Instead of getting the promised [privatization], we will be saddled with both an extremely expensive new [crony capitalist industry or resocialized industry] and [so] substantial preserved elements of the old [socialist] state.

I say this scenario is likely because the existing [socialist] state is the product of many decades of rent extraction, as well as a number of deeply entrenched and relatively stable stakeholder interests that sustain it and make the execution of substantial changes to it very, very difficult…. Vested interests with substantial existing rent extractions do not simply dissipate, unless the rent itself also dissipates to the point that it is no longer worth the political investment to maintain it (and that scenario is highly unlikely with a direct payout system, as welfare is). Nor do interest groups easily [accept privatization] from [socialist conditions]…. Doing so is something akin to scrapping one’s lucrative and existing political investments – including investments that keep out other competitive seekers of the same rents – and starting again from scratch under a new rent allocation regime that is, comparatively, open to new competitive entrants seeking to capture some of its fruit.

In the end, a non-ideal transitional [privatization] program may explicitly eschew an idealized unicorn “fix” for [socialism]. But its implementation is still subject to a non-ideal political world. Delivering a massive proposed overhaul intact through that non-ideal political world therefore becomes its own unicorn problem, given everything that we know to be true and evidenced by centuries of experience within that political world.

It’s not enough to compare the [socialist] state and [privatization] – even a non-ideal transitional [privatization] – side by side and see how they stack up. We must also ask if we can even get to a [privatization] from the current [socialist] state while also leaving its promised benefits over the [socialist] state intact. Since one of those benefits necessarily entails repealing and replacing substantial parts of the [socialist] state within a non-ideal political world, the obstacles that political world places on the pathway to [the privatization] implementation must not only be addressed – they are the very essence of why [privatization], idealized or not, is a politically impractical program.

The post You Can’t Get There From Here? A Reply to Magness appeared first on Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

]]>
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/07/you-cant-get-there-from-here-a-reply-to-magness/feed/ 7 10886