Wednesday, 20 November 2019

"Open Borders Are a Trillion-Dollar Idea"




In his new comic book Open Borders, best-selling author and economist Bryan Caplan argues that "tearing down all barriers to migration isn’t crazy—it’s an opportunity for a global boom."

To ignore the opportunity, he says, is like failing to pick up a trillion-dollar note you see sitting on the footpath.
To see the massive missed opportunity of which I speak, consider the migration of a low-skilled Haitian from Port-au-Prince to Miami. In Haiti, he would earn about $1,000 per year. In Miami, he could easily earn $25,000 per year. How is such upward mobility possible? Simply put: Human beings are much more productive in Florida than in Haiti—thanks to better government policies, better management, better technology, and much more. The main reason Haitians suffer in poverty is not because they are from Haiti but because they are in Haiti. If you were stuck in Haiti, you, too, would probably be destitute.
    But borders aren’t just a missed opportunity for those stuck on the wrong side on them. If the walls come down, almost everyone benefits because immigrants sell the new wealth they create—and the inhabitants of their new country are their top customers. As long as Haitians remain in Haiti, they produce next to nothing—and therefore do next to nothing to enrich the rest of the world. When they move, their productivity skyrockets—and so does their contribution to their new customers. When you see a Haitian restaurant in Miami, you shouldn’t picture the relocation of a restaurant from Port-au-Prince; you should picture the creation of a restaurant that otherwise would never have existed—not even in Haiti itself.

    The central function of existing immigration laws is to prevent this wealth creation from happening—to trap human talent in low-productivity countries. Out of all the destructive economic policies known to man, nothing on Earth is worse. I’m not joking. Standard estimates say open borders would ultimately double humanity’s wealth production. How is this possible? Because immigration sharply increases workers’ productivity—and the world contains many hundreds of millions of would-be immigrants. Multiply a massive gain per person by a massive number of people and you end up with what the economist Michael Clemens calls “trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk.”
But, but, we'll be overwhelmed!
Even the largest countries cannot absorb hundreds of millions of immigrants overnight. True enough, but no reasonable person expects hundreds of millions to come overnight, either. Instead, immigration usually begins slowly and then snowballs. Puerto Ricans have been legally allowed to move to the United States since 1904, but it took almost a century before Puerto Ricans in the United States came to outnumber the population left on the island. Wasn’t the European migration crisis an unmanageable flood of humanity? Hardly. Despite media outcry, total arrivals from 2014 to 2018 came to less than 1 percent of the population of the European Union. Many European countries—most notably West Germany during the Cold War—have swiftly absorbed much larger inflows in the past.

But, but, East Germans weren't really foreigners were they!
While West Germans welcomed millions of East German migrants, a much lower dose of Middle Eastern and African migration has made the whole EU shiver. Aren’t economists who dwell on economic gains just missing the point? ...
    Let’s start with readily measurable cultural and political effects. In the United States, the most common cultural complaint is probably that—in contrast to the days of Ellis Island—today’s immigrants fail to learn English. The real story, though, is that few first-generation immigrants have ever become fluent in adulthood; it’s just too hard. German and Dutch immigrants in the 19th century maintained their stubborn accents and linguistic isolation all their lives; New York’s Yiddish newspapers were a fixture for decades. For their sons and daughters, however, acquiring fluency is child’s play—even for groups like Asians and Hispanics that are often accused of not learning English.
But, but, they'll all vote for [insert whichever party which the objector is opposed]!
Who knows how vast numbers of new immigrants would vote? Indeed, shouldn’t we expect people from dysfunctional polities to bring dysfunctional politics with them?
These are fine questions, but the answers are not alarming. At least in the United States, the main political division between the native- and foreign-born is engagement.   Even immigrants legally able to vote are markedly less likely than native-born citizens to exercise this right. In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, for example, 72 percent of eligible native-born citizens voted versus just 48 percent of eligible immigrants.  Wherever they politically stand, then, immigrants’ opinions are relatively inert.
    In any case, immigrants’ political opinions don’t actually stand out. On average, they’re a little more economically liberal and a little more socially conservative, and that’s about it. Yes, low-skilled immigrants’ economic liberalism and social conservatism are more pronounced, but their turnout is low; in 2012, only 27 percent of those eligible to vote opted to do so. So while it would not be alarmist to think that immigration will slightly tilt policy in an economically liberal, socially conservative direction, warning that “immigrants will vote to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs” is paranoid.
All these arguments and many more have for a long time been addressed in my own fumbling way here at this blog, and in almost point-by-point detail by Jason Krupp at the New Zealand Institute and Alex Nowrestah at the Cato Institute. Caplan's main point is the positive one: that allowing peaceful people to cross borders and work freely for whichever employer wants them, wherever that employer might be, is ultimately good all round.
This is ultimately how I see the case for open borders. Denying human beings the right to rent an apartment from a willing landlord or accept a job offer from a willing employer is a serious harm. How much would someone have to pay the average American to spend the rest of his or her life in Haiti or Syria? To morally justify such harm, we need a clear and present danger, not gloomy speculation. Yet when we patiently and calmly study immigration, the main thing we observe is: people moving from places where their talent goes to waste to places where they can realize their potential. What we see, in short, is immigrants enriching themselves by enriching the world.
What else does he talk about? Almost everything. The answer to all the following is "YES!"
5. Do you talk about global apartheid?
6. Do you talk about the level of illegal immigration?
7. Do you talk about human smuggling?
8. Do you talk about the effectiveness of immigration law at preventing and deterring illegal immigration?
9. Do you talk about immigration as a civil right?
10. Do you talk about whether the plight of the immigrant is our problem?
11. Do you talk about whether there is a right to immigrate?
12. Do you talk about whether this right is absolute?
19. Do you talk about the benefits of immigration for immigrants?
20. Do you talk about the benefits of immigration for natives?
21. Do you talk about how much immigration actually helps immigrants?
22. Do you talk about why immigration helps immigrants?
23. Do you talk about how much a trillion dollars of gains really buys?
29. Do you talk about what open borders would really look like?
34. Do you talk about brain drain?
35. Do you talk about what good for places versus what’s good for people?
36. Do you talk about zombie economies?
37. Do you talk about how immigration’s fiscal effects vary by immigrant skill?
38. Do you talk about whether open borders and the welfare state are compatible?
40. Do you talk about how welfare states prioritise the old versus the poor?
41. Do you talk about the cost of educating immigrants’ children?
42. Do you talk about the effect of immigration on the sustainability of retirement systems?
51. Do you talk about the value of Western civilisation? 
69. Do you talk about the cultural benefits of immigration?
70. Do you talk about immigrants’ desire for freedom?
71. Do you talk about immigrants’ disdain for freedom?
72. Do you talk about the danger that immigrants will vote to “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs”?
84. Do you talk about the effect of immigration on national IQ?
85. Do you talk about whether you’re virtue signalling?
92. Do you talk about restricting immigrants’ eligibility for government benefits?
93. Do you talk about requiring immigrants to learn English?
94. Do you talk about requiring immigrants to acquire cultural literacy?
Answer to all the above: "YES!"

There are answers for everyone, even for the antediluvians:
52. Do you talk about the cultural dangers of admitting non-Western immigrants?
53. Do you talk about terrorism, mass rape, human trafficking, Sharia, and the decline of English?
95. Do you talk about the dangers of Islam?
96. Do you talk about Muslim bans?
97. Do you talk about keyhole solutions for the dangers of Islam?
Answer: Yes.

Q: What's a "keyhole solution" for the dangers of Islam?
A: Read the damn book.  Or this summary. Or listen to a podcast interview here.

Q: Do you need to embrace every answer?
A: "No," says the author. "My immediate goal is more modest: I’d like to convince you that open borders aren’t crazy. While we take draconian regulation of migration for granted, the central goal of this regulation is to trap valuable labour in unproductive regions of the world. This sounds cruel and misguided. Shouldn’t we at least double-check our work to make sure we’re not missing a massive opportunity for ourselves and humanity?"

He has a point. And it's a good one.
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"Keynesian economics was once only about getting an economy out of a recession. Now it’s about massive and permanent deficits coupled with massive and permanent forms of public waste" #QotD


"There are economic idiots everywhere, but the biggest ones are the ones who think government infrastructure projects like this are good for the economy. Even the Premier is beginning to see what a black hole this is. Construction everywhere you turn in the City, whole city blocks turned into construction sites, billions of dollars being spent, and not a dollar’s worth of actual value-adding output anywhere to be seen. We are looking here at immense costs, for which there will NEVER be a single cent of profit ever earned...which means [these projects] will never ever repay [their] costs in the benefits [they] provide.
    "Keynesian economics was once only about getting an economy out of a recession. Now it’s about massive and permanent deficits coupled with massive and permanent forms of public waste...
    "Modern economic theory is a disaster for anyone whose government believes any and all of it. Public spending has its role, but is a drain on an economy’s productivity. Oddly because of the Keynesian nature of the National Accounts, all of this will show up as growth in GDP even though it is nothing of the kind. And there will be many people employed, except not employed on projects that will add to the economy’s net level of real production. They are not value adding. They may create a dollar’s worth of value, but for each dollar of value created it will cost much much more than a dollar. Why does this make sense to anyone?"

          ~ Steven Kates, from his post 'Ever wonder why real wages are falling?'
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Tuesday, 19 November 2019

"Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead." Bonus #QotD


"Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. It can only address some of the current symptoms of a fundamentally broken housing market. 
    "Worse, it is the kind of move that makes the most sense if the Government is pessimistic about its chances of fixing the real underlying problem – making it easier to get new housing built...  
  "If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead. When you're in a massive housing shortage and the alternative to a crappy house is a garage or a car, crappy houses get rented out. If we instead had a surplus of housing, those places would be left vacant and their owners would have to decide whether to refurbish or tear down... 
          ~ Eric Crampton, from his post 'Really protecting tenants'
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"In Ancient Greece private property was recognised and protected by the State as the basis of society..." #QotD


"Nineteenth-century historians, committed to the theory of primitive communism [i.e., that society had evolved into private property out of a situation of communal "ownership"] assumed, without examining the data or else misinterpreting them to suit their preconceptions, that ancient Greece knew only communal property in land...
    "[Yet] in the words of Jules Toutain, "If we adhere to Homer and Hesiod, we find that all ownership is private, so far as arable land is concerned .... The Anglo-American historian of antiquity Moses Finley concurs: 'In the Homeric poems, the property regime, in particular, was already fully established ... The regime that we see in the poems was, above all, one of private ownership ...
    "According to Finley, the Homeric world knew 'no feudal, or capably conditional tenures.' In Ancient Greece 'private property [was] recognised and protected by the State as the basis of society' and the state very rarely interfered with the 'free play of economic forces and economic initiative.' It is precisely because private property was prevalent in classical Greece that Plato and Aristotle devoted to much attention to it."

          ~ Richard Pipes, from his book Property and Freedom.

Friday, 15 November 2019

NOAA: “It is difficult to attribute any part of the trends in losses to climate variations or change, especially in the case of billion-dollar disasters.” #QotD




“[I]t is difficult to attribute any part of the trends in losses to climate variations or change, especially in the case of billion-dollar disasters.”
~ the grudging admission from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; read about in the post 'No sign that man-made CO2 does anything to the cost of disasters'
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Thursday, 14 November 2019

"Reframe the debate: Immigration isn't about charity. It's about justice and abundance"


Co-author Bryan Caplan picks his two favourite panels from his latest book -- a comic book, on immigration,. Why a comic? Because that makes it so easy to read that even those who won't read the abundance evidence can. [And if you won't read, then listen.]

"Reframe the debate," he argues: "Immigration isn't about charity. It's about justice and abundance."
Open Borders is a non-fiction graphic novel. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, picture a comic-book documentary. While the form is light-hearted, the content is thoroughly researched and carefully documented. I strive to steelman the critics. I’ve got chapters on all the leading objections to open borders: economic, fiscal, cultural, and political. The book has a major section on immigration and IQ, and discusses ancestry research in detail. I argue with Milton Friedman on immigration and the welfare state, Socrates about Western civilization, and Mark Krikorianabout backlash.
    While the book is packed with arguments, you can easily read it cover-to-cover (minus the References) in two fun-filled hours. Indeed, out of all my books, Open Borders delivers the most information per minute of reader time. How is this possible?    Because combining words and pictures allows me to communicate far more economically than I can communicate with words alone.
    Who’s the target audience? Everyone from curious laymen to researchers specializing in immigration. And due to the format, “laymen” even includes precocious kids as young as seven. I’m not kidding: My youngest kids kept reading it over my shoulder as I was writing it.
    False modesty aside, the book is funny. Professional humorist Zach Weinersmith helped me with my jokes, and added many of his own to the script...
    Above all, I consider Open Borders the most persuasive book I’ve ever written. I know what I’m advocating is radical and scary. I know I bear the burden of proof – and I gladly accept it. I know that political discourse has gone from bad to worse over the last decade. My goal, however, is to be part of the solution. I don’t want to demonize, humiliate, or “call out” people who disagree with me about immigration. I want to listen to them, answer their objections to their own satisfaction, and be friends.    An impossible dream? Probably. But Open Borders is me doing my best to make that dream a reality.
P.S. Here are two of my favorite pages.


Who exactly are the two authors?



Get it here.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

"CO2 for different people has different attractions ... it has a kind of fundamental attractiveness to bureaucratic mentality." #QotD [updated]




"CO2 for different people has different attractions. After all, what is it? - it’s not a pollutant, it’s a product of every living creature’s breathing, it’s the product of all plant respiration, it is essential for plant life and photosynthesis, it’s a product of all industrial burning, it’s a product of driving – I mean, if you ever wanted a leverage point to control everything from exhalation to driving, this would be a dream. So it has a kind of fundamental attractiveness to bureaucratic mentality...
    "The public is being confused by not being permitted to distinguish between changing temp, which always occurs, and about which there is agreement, and man’s role in it, which is extremely uncertain and which there is very little agreement on, and the predictions of catastrophes, which there is almost no agreement on –they’re all lumped together in a kind of amorphous statement which they’re told all scientists agree on. And rather than having to disentangle each of these, they’re being provoked into a hysterical response which they’re told science demands, and science is doing nothing of the sort."

          ~ Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science, MIT
UPDATE: pic of street art added ...
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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Monday, 11 November 2019

"There were a lot of 'dead ends' in Marx's theory that led him and his followers badly astray over the 170 years since he wrote The Communist Manifesto..."


"There were a lot of 'dead ends' in Marx's theory that led him and his followers badly astray over the 170 years since he wrote The Communist Manifesto. These are of two kinds -- errors of commission and errors of omission
"The errors of commission include the following false beliefs which badly hampered the Marxists' understanding of how the economy worked and thus would prevent their attempts to fix its perceived problems:
1. the myth of alienation caused by the division of labour
2. the labour theory of value
3. the theory of surplus-value
4. the belief that competition would drive profits down, leading to increasing concentration and monopolisation for businesses to survive
5. the belief that competition would drive wages down to unsustainable mere-subsistence levels (the immiseration of the workers)
6. the belief that socialism would bring rational planning and economic abundance once the inefficiencies and exploitation of the capitalist system had been removed. 
"The errors of omission were the neglect key aspects of the competitive free-market system which Socialists & Marxists did not understand or rejected and which led them ultimately to misunderstand how capitalism worked. I would argue that ideas about most (but perhaps not all) of these aspects were in circulation at the time Marx wrote and that he would have come across them in the course of his deep reading of political economy, but which he rejected for various reasons. These errors of omission include:
1. the role consumers played in driving production (thus we should talk about 'consumerism' and the rule of consumers, rather than 'capitalism' (rule by capital or capitalists)
2. the importance of profits in directing producers to the most urgent needs of consumers
3. the dynamic role of entrepreneurs in making production and distribution of goods and services possible
4. the point that both parties to a voluntary exchange benefited
5. the point that services, not just the production of goods by means of physical labour, also created wealth
6. the ignoring of several other key issues, such as the role of incentives, the problem of scarcity, the problem of risk, and the importance of ideas (especially in the Misesian notion of the role ideas play in forming what we think our 'material interests' are)." 
~ David Hart, from his 2018, essay, '‘Marx and Some “Sharp Objects”and “Dead Ends' -- part of a cross-party discussion on 'Marx and the Morality of Capitalism' [hat tip Don Boudreaux]
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Saturday, 9 November 2019

"Opening all borders would swiftly create unprecedented prosperity”





The author writes:
This just in: Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, has made the New York Times Bestseller List! The one line summary – “An economics professor argues that opening all borders could bolster the global economy” – is an bizarre understatement. Far better to say, “An economics professors argues that  or better yet “An economics professor argues that immigration restrictions are an economic and moral disaster.”
Still, I’ll take what I can get!
And you can get your local copy here. Or here.

Friday, 8 November 2019

"I never thought for one second Winston Raymond Peters was trying to trough a few bucks out fraudulently for his Super. He has spent literally DECADES happily troughing as a politician for a lot more money." Bonus #QotD


"I never thought for one second Winston Raymond Peters was trying to trough a few bucks out fraudulently for his Super. He has spent literally decades happily troughing ... as a politician for a lot more money." 
          ~ Cactus Kate, from her post 'Winston Peters And His Reputation For Detail'
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"When one gets anguished over the poor conditions faced by some people at any given stage of economic and historical development, one is obliged to ask two fundamental questions: compared to what and why were they poor in the first place?" #QotD


"When one gets anguished over the poor conditions faced by some people at any given stage of economic and historical development, one is obliged to ask two fundamental questions: compared to what and why were they poor in the first place?"
~ David Hart, from his 2018, essay, 'The Problem of Terminology: Why ‘Capitalism’?' -- part of a cross-party discussion on 'Marx and the Morality of Capitalism' [hat tip Don Boudreaux]
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Thursday, 7 November 2019

“Anyone who wishes to be president should support an impeachment clause, because the alternative is assassination.”


“Anyone who wishes to be president should support an impeachment clause, because the alternative is assassination.”
~ summarising Benjamin Franklin's half-joke to the 1787 Constitutional convention, in support of their including the impeachment clause. So, says Josh Chafetz, "If we are to take the link between impeachment and assassination seriously, we should use assassinability as a benchmark for impeachability."
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Wednesday, 6 November 2019

"One of the benefits of colonisation, and there are a number, is the destruction of tribalism... Tribalism must be destroyed for democracy to exist." #QotD


"The case for ‘co-governance’ between the government and iwi is justified according to cultural recognition and social justice beliefs. However, that is to make a fundamental error, one that ignores the dangers of including ethnicity into the political arrangements of a democratic nation... there is a fundamental incompatibility between the two sociopolitical systems...
    "From the 1980s, the rather benign idea of recognising Maori culture in the wider society became a political biculturalism that has enabled a small but extremely influential group of retribalists to capture the moral high ground of social justice advocacy – but in their own interests.
    "(It shouldn’t be forgotten that the numbers of Maori in poverty has actually grown during the bicultural decades.) ...
    "Throughout these four decades of biculturalism the retribalists sit easily, even smugly, on the side of the righteous. They use a history, written by the Waitangi Tribunal in the interests of the submitters, to claim the inheritance of the past. The Treaty is the document of that inheritance.
    "The justification for this elite’s power is its claim to represent a tribal people – so such a people must be created and maintained – hence the aggressive retribalisation that we have seen in recent years ... It is no longer enough to be Maori; one must be tribal Maori...
    "One of the benefits of colonisation, and there are a number, is the destruction of tribalism. For slaves and lower caste people it was liberation. Of course the chiefly caste did not agree and today we see the resurgence of those who would be their inheritors. The new elite is a self-proclaimed aristocracy justifying their ambition in romantic appeals to an Arcadian past.
    "Tribalism must be destroyed for democracy to exist... The history of progress in the world is the history of detribalisation and the race or ethnic politics that goes with tribalised societies...
    "So the question for us is not why is the iwi elite using retribal strategies to gain increasing political power and economic wealth – any emerging elite that chances upon a direct and easy means to get its way will take it. The intriguing question is how has a population with 161 years of democracy under its belt allowed this to happen."
    ~ Dr. Elizabeth Rata, from her 2013 op-ed 'Democracy and Tribalism'
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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Drunk Driving and Fake Science



There's something wrong with a system that presumes guilt then relies on some secret test, rather than observable behaviour, to prove it. Especially when a New York Times investigation shows the science behind testing is bogus. In this guest post, Jeffrey Tucker explains why criminalising something that depends on a pseudo-scientific test rather than observable criminality was always wrong. 

Almost everyone I know has a story to tell about themselves, a friend, a friend’s friend. It’s about the abusiveness of the police in the enforcement of drunk-driving laws. I’ve known people who were quite sure that they were not over the legal limit but suddenly found themselves cuffed in the back of the police car.

I know a guy who was arrested out of his own driveway, having driven home perfectly safely. I’ve seen lives ruined and wrecked by a system that presumes everyone is guilty and then proves it was scientific machines that claim to be accurate to three decimal points. The level of paranoia on this subject in American life is palpable.

So it’s actually mind-blowing – or maybe once you hear this it will seem incredibly obvious – that the New York Times has published a massive investigation that shows that the science behind the breathalyser is bogus. Tens of thousands of American arrests have been wrong. Cases are being thrown out around the country. The company that makes the machines for the police stations won’t share its technology or submit to a serious scientific review of its technology. Lives are being ruined even as the evidence piles up that vast numbers of arrests for “drunk driving” are wholly bogus.

Quoting the Times:
A million Americans a year are arrested for drunken driving, and most stops begin the same way: flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, then a battery of tests that might include standing on one foot or reciting the alphabet.
    What matters most, though, happens next. By the side of the road or at the police station, the drivers blow into a miniature science lab that estimates the concentration of alcohol in their blood. If the level is 0.08 or higher, they are all but certain to be convicted of a crime.
    But those tests — a bedrock of the criminal justice system — are often unreliable, a New York Times investigation found. The devices, found in virtually every police station in America, generate skewed results with alarming frequency, even though they are marketed as precise to the third decimal place.
    Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than 30,000 breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight. Across the country, thousands of other tests also have been invalidated in recent years.The machines are sensitive scientific instruments, and in many cases they haven’t been properly calibrated, yielding results that were at times 40 percent too high.
The story adds another several thousand words of horror stories about the use of fake science in the service of the machinery of compulsion and coercion that has entrapped millions of Americans and vexes all non-teetotallers on the road today.

It turns out that these expensive machines, both the ones carried by cops and the larger machines at police headquarters, are provided by only a few companies in the world and they are unwilling to open up their guts to serious peer review. They are poorly maintained and yet the numbers are invoked in court daily. The police have every incentive to allow them to be wrong so long as the results end in conviction.

The few times in which states mandated tests of the tests have resulted in shocking results. Something called the Intoxilyzer 8000 was tested in Vermont in 2005 and produced inaccurate results in “almost every test.” As it turns out, the only scientific way to determine blood-alcohol content is with blood tests. There are too many variables to make the breath alone reliable and yet breathing tests are the whole basis of drunk-driving enforcement.

The rounding-up problems and inflated numbers alone are raising questions about 45,000 convictions in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The trouble is that once the fake science is part of the court records, the accused has no viable option but to plead guilty and face a jail sentence and fines and ruined driving record, even if the person knows for sure that he or she was not drunk. When it’s the state armed with fake science vs. an individual motorist who had a couple of beers, everyone knows who wins.

This is a classic case of the dangers of scientism in the service of state-based justice. Put on the lab coat, sell the government a fancy machine, harass people with unending intimidation, and the result is vast injustice based on bad science. Citizens themselves have no recourse. This has been going on for decades in the United States and yet we are only now finding out about it.

There was always a potential for injustice at the heart of the rule against drunk driving since enforcement would always be based not on evidence of reckless driving but rather on the content of one’s blood. It was that which was being criminalised. In fact, there are many reasons one might drive dangerously: texting, physical exhaustion, sleep deprivation, bad day at work, fight with a lover, and so on. Nor is it the case that having a few necessarily and always results in the endangerment of others. The only real sensible approach, then, is for the police to enforce the traffic rule ticketing and arresting based on what the driver actually does.

The anti-drunk driving regime in America was not based on that. Rather, it criminalised something that required a fancy scientific test to discover complete with black-box machines out of science fiction. Even if you are driving perfectly well, complying with all rules, endangering absolutely no one, you would be subjected to brutality at the hands of the police solely upon the discovery of a chemical in your blood, which, as it turns out, cannot be reliably determined based on any existing technology.

Think about this. The whole world is horrified by Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos’s claim that it could detect diseases via a tiny pinprick on the finger. That this company raised billions on an unverified claim has been the subject of vast outrage and criminal investigations. And yet we have what appears to be the exact same situation with the detection of drunk driving and yet it’s gone on for decades without much in the way of incredulity putting any damper on the arrest-and-jail machinery of the state.

Why is this? I would say the following. Theranos was subjected to a market test. Breathalysers and Alcotests and so on exist within the apparatus of the state and have thereby been shielded from serious scrutiny. It has taken the New York Times and its intrepid reporters to blow the cover, and yet, realistically, it will be years before anyone can put a damper on the machinery of personal destruction that is currently in operation even in your hometown.

There are lessons here. The combination of state power and pseudoscience is a dangerous one. Criminalising something that depends on the scientific accuracy of some secret test rather than observable behavior is itself fraught with dangers. The state cannot be trusted to police its own application of science in service of itself. It will always face an incentive to exaggerate to gain more money and more convictions.

Now is the time seriously to rethink the entire machinery of drunk-driving enforcement.

* * * * * 

 Jeffrey A. Tucker is Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research. He is the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and eight books in 5 languages, most recently The Market Loves You. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture. He is available for speaking and interviews via his email. Tw | FB | LinkedIn.
This article first appeared at the AIER blog.

Q: Who first discovered New Zealand?


"[In her book Two Worlds, Anne Salmond] claims that the Dutch were not the first to have discovered New Zealand. In one sense this is true. Polynesians had arrived long before Tasman and had what would be more correctly described as 'found' it. But whether 'found' or 'discovered,' there was a difference.
    "First, Europeans discovered the Maori; but the Maori did not find Europe, until the English showed it to them. Second, even if one speaks of a Polynesian discovery of New Zealand and supposes that the earliest navigators found their way back to where they had come from in order to bring in women and supplies, this knowledge was lost... long before Tasman's arrival.
    "The reason why one cannot say that they had discovered it is that they had no universal schema by which to describe and locate their discovery. The islands they had stumbled upon were, therefore, literally, found, but not discovered.
    "One might imagine that it is a mere quibble whether one calls the Polynesian landfalls a 'find' or a 'discovery.' But it is far from a mere quibble when one wants to understand the differences in the attitudes of the finders and of the discoverers. To the former this was a once-off experience, which did not alter their world-picture or their understanding of themselves; to the latter it was further proof that the earth was round, that its islands or continents were not yet all known but soon would be, and it was an exercise in seamanship, astronomy and geography because they were able to return to Europe and tell others about it. 'To discover' implies that one is able to put one's find on the map.
    "It is true that the Polynesian landings were an addition to knowledge; but a very small and very locally limited addition. The Tasman sightings filled in lacunae in a vast general picture of the world, which had nothing much to do with the strictly local cultural conditions in the Netherlands which had prompted Tasman to sail. Tasman enlarged the world and did not just add one more chant or ritual dance to the self-legitimising features of his own culture. He transcended it.
    "All the same, there is a telling contrast which Salmond not so much as mentions. Polynesian sailors were incredibly intrepid because they were prepared to sail into the unknown. European sailors were never intrepid. They hugged the coastlines and sailed out into the Atlantic only when they thought they 'knew' what they were up to. When Columbus' discovery, for example, did not live up to his bookish expectations, he refused to believe his eyes. Polynesian sailors, unhampered by books, were a great deal more enterprising and receptive of novelty. Salmond wipes out the differences and impoverishes the past."
~ Peter Munz, from his review 'The Two Worlds of Anne Salmond in Postmodern Fancy-Dress'
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Monday, 4 November 2019

Friday, 1 November 2019

"When a more advanced society is given the opportunity to diffuse its economic, technological, administrative, and educational systems to a less advanced society that by and large welcomes its presence, the results are so obviously good compared to what would otherwise have happened in that society that the only interesting questions are how large the positive effects are." #QotD


"When a more advanced society is given the opportunity to diffuse its economic, technological, administrative, and educational systems to a less advanced society that by and large welcomes its presence, the results are so obviously good compared to what would otherwise have happened in that society that the only interesting questions are how large the positive effects are...    "[Yet] for the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart  sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places."
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~ Bruce Gilley, from his lecture 'The Case For Colonialism' [link to pdf here], and hist article 'The Case For Colonialism' [link to pdf here]

Thursday, 31 October 2019

"Under capitalism, the effects of unequal wealth run parallel to those of unequal intelligence. The intelligence of Aristotle and Newton and all the other great geniuses of philosophy, science, mathematics, and the arts, cost the average person nothing, but gave him everything." #QotD



"Under capitalism, the effects of unequal wealth run parallel to those of unequal intelligence. The intelligence of Aristotle and Newton and all the other great geniuses of philosophy, science, mathematics, and the arts, cost the average person nothing, but gave him everything."
          ~ George Reisman, part of his tweet thread on Elizabeth Warren
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Wednesday, 30 October 2019

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer is a synopsis of the socialist critique of the market system, implying the perceived inevitability of what Marx called the Law of Increasing Poverty. It is also a myth unsupported by empirical evidence." #QotD


"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer is a synopsis of the socialist critique of the market system, implying the perceived inevitability of what Marx called the Law of Increasing Poverty. It is also a myth unsupported by empirical evidence."
          ~ Marian Tupy from the post 'Income Inequality: When Does It Matter?'
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Tuesday, 29 October 2019

"Since only situations which have been created by human will can be called just or unjust, the particulars of a spontaneous order cannot be just or unjust: if it is not the intended or foreseen result of somebody’s action … this cannot be called just or unjust." #QotD


"If we apply the terms [just or unjust] to a state of affairs, they have meaning only in so far as we hold someone responsible for bringing it about or allowing it to come about ...
    "Since only situations which have been created by human will can be called just or unjust, the particulars of a spontaneous order cannot be just or unjust: if it is not the intended or foreseen result of somebody’s action … this cannot be called just or unjust."

          ~ F.A. Hayek, from his book The Mirage of Social Justice.

Monday, 28 October 2019

The Eight-Hour-Day dunking


Those who aren't self employed are allowed a public holiday today by courtesy of the government.

It's useful to recall the that today's holiday, Labour Day, commemorates the campaign to introduce the Eight Hour Day -- and that as a central part of that campaign, recalcitrant tradesmen and workers who refused to comply with campaigners' demands to cease work at the appointed time risked "being dunked in the harbour."

Thus, right at the beginning of this country's industrialisation, the local labour movement adopted as a weapon of policy the imposition of force against others -- and that, rather than the "ruling classes," it was other workers who they threatened.

Rather punctures the traditional story of class conflict as the basis for union activity.
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Thursday, 24 October 2019

“This is the thing about freedom of speech - everyone agrees with it, until they hear something they don’t like.” #QotD


“This is the thing about freedom of speech - everyone agrees with it, until they hear something they don’t like.”
          ~ Rickey Gervais
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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

"This naïve faith in majoritarian democracy is mistaken because there is, in fact, no will of the people. No method of collective decision-making, not even the most ideal form of democracy, reveals the People’s will. That which is unreal cannot be revealed." #QotD


"A third Big Myth is that government carries out the will of the people as long as its top officials are chosen by majority rule. At root, this naïve faith in majoritarian democracy is mistaken because there is, in fact, no will of the people. 'The people' is not a sentient creature with a mind and preferences and fears and hopes....
“'The People is not a being with a mind or a will. It follows that no method of collective decision-making, not even the most ideal form of democracy, reveals the People’s will. That which is unreal cannot be revealed."

~ Don Boudreaux, from his article 'The Three Biggest Myths about Political Economy'
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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

"Elizabeth Warren’s 'accountable capitalism' would not empower stakeholders. It would strip the stakeholders of their power and transfer that power to the state." #QotD


"[Elizabeth] Warren’s 'accountable capitalism' would not empower stakeholders. It would strip the stakeholders of their power and transfer that power to the state. All these interests will be 'brought within the orbit of the State [and] coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State.' That is what it means to have government gun its way into private corporation boardrooms, whether in the name of 'stakeholders' or 'divergent interests'...
    "What Warren actually proposes is a reprise of Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism, a form of guild socialism expanded to encompass 'all stakeholders' ... [putting] us on the way to 'a full-blown Corporative state'.”

~ Mike LaFerrara, from his post, 'Elizabeth Warren’s "Accountable Capitalism Act" Reprises Benito Mussolini'
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"Shining Eyes!": The transformative power of classical music



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Monday, 21 October 2019

"Throughout human history, confronted with ocean flooding, humans have built levees to prevent inundation or moved to higher ground. Only very recently have scientists persuaded otherwise rational people the answer is to try to alter ocean levels by eating less meat, using less fossil fuel, flying less or driving an electric car." Bonus #QotD


"Throughout human history, confronted with ocean flooding, humans have built levees to prevent inundation or moved to higher ground. Only very recently have scientists persuaded otherwise rational people the answer is to try to alter ocean levels by eating less meat, using less fossil fuel, flying less or driving an electric car."
~ Chris Mitchell, in his article 'Fair Climate Recording Must Include Economics Facts' [hat tip Catallaxy Files]
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"Stakeholder theory violates private property rights and freedom of association. It makes of people in business involuntary servants of 'society, mainly of self-appointed moralists." #QotD


"Stakeholder theory is now nearly mainstream among business ethics and business and society scholars but it has serious problems. One is well communicated by a quote from W. H. Auden: 'We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know'." More to the point, stakeholder theory violates private property rights and freedom of association. It makes of people in business involuntary servants of 'society, mainly of self-appointed moralists."
~ Tibor Machan, abstract of his paper 'Altruism (Stakeholder Theory) Versus Business Ethics'
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Sunday, 20 October 2019

"The pursuit of the Garden of Eden fantasy is the most destructive phenomenon in all of human history." #QotD


"The pursuit of the Garden of Eden fantasy is the most destructive phenomenon in all of human history. The Garden of Eden fantasy is the desire to live--or at least to exist--in the world without the need for any mental effort.
"Nearly all of the religious wars of the past 2,000 years were fought with an eye toward a Garden of Eden in a heavenly afterlife. The obsession with reaching this state drove countless atrocities, including the medieval inquisitions.
    "Marxism holds that this Garden of Eden state can be achieved on Earth, in the form of a "true communism" where all "needed" goods are superabundant. Millions of people were slaughtered or starved in the 20th Century as a result of Communists' and socialists' obsession with reaching this enchanted Garden of Eden.
    "The fact is that [neither] human nature [not Mother Nature] allows a Garden of Eden. Life for human beings is fundamentally about exerting productive effort to achieve values: growth, sustenance, happiness. Rest and relaxation is only satisfying when it's a rest from real effort. Without effort and change, life becomes stagnant, dull and emotionless. Also, without any effort at all, human life ceases to exist."

~ Eric Macintosh, from his article 'Wealth is Created by Action Based on Rational Thought'

Saturday, 19 October 2019

"If white privilege exists, then does black privilege exist too?" #QotD


"Discussions of ‘privilege’ have become one of the themes of this age. In a short space of time, the obsession with the subject has forced its way from the margins of the social sciences right into the centre of all cultural and political debate. Politics and office politics is increasingly consumed by it...
    "Everywhere the privilege discussion is the same. Who has privilege? Who should give it up? Who should have more? ...
    "We are told that there are forms of privilege that come with being white. Historically this may be able to be said to be the case. Though again it is a claim filled with contradictions and false-assertions. Were people who spent their days working the land in some far-flung part of these islands beneficiaries of ‘white privilege’? Are their descendants today? It is an amazingly reductive and almost certainly unfair way to view most, let alone all white people. But it throws up a counter-question. If white privilege exists, then does black privilege exist too?
    "I have been wondering about this in recent times. Again, this is not to say that historically black people have always  benefited from being black. But if some white people today have white privilege then do some black people?
    "I would have said that one of the most obvious but unmentionable facts of our time is that some people do. Because whenever a system tilts a particular way some people with intelligence and savviness will take advantage of that fact. Why would they not? In the last year or so, on a number of occasions, I have walked into a hall or studio with a black colleague and been aware that I am at a distinct disadvantage.
    "What is that disadvantage? Well, it is slightly like the old saw about the gun on stage in a Chekhov play. Except that in these cases there is a gun onstage but it is able to be picked up, pointed and even fired in only one direction. And that is by the black participant in the discussion at anyone present who is white. The bullet is an accusation of racism – whether it is sincere or not, honest or not, accurate or not.
    "If an era regards racism as its cardinal sin and white supremacy as a fact then it is inevitable that as well as there being sincere accusations of prejudice there will also be some insincere ones. And that if society is largely unbothered about correcting false accusations then a hugely powerful weapon is put in the hands of any canny person who wishes to wield it..."
        ~ Douglas Murray, from his oped 'On Black Privilege'
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