Archive for Political Philosophy
Dave Killion — April 16, 2013
For those who don’t know him, this is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist. Dr. Tyson spends a lot of time presenting science-related material to laypersons; think Bill Nye the Science Guy, but more serious. As a result of his success and popularity in that pursuit, Dr. Tyson is often treated as an authority on non-science matters, such as government. The result, well, you see above; inane rhetoric treated as serious and profound. Obviously, no one studies science or engineering because they want to run for office, and when voters are evaluating a candidate’s background, I doubt they consider degrees in mathematics or technology to be assets. And from the nonsense I’ve heard from the mouths of scientists who comment on public policy, the less of their statist foolishness, the better.
That said, although those from STEM fields might not make good contenders for congress or parliament, I don’t doubt the political field could be much improved by some diversity. Replace some of those lawyers with historians or economists, and we might be all the better for it. Until then, though, I suggest one consider political advice given by celebrities carefully before embracing it, even when that celebrity is a scientist.
Dave Killion — April 9, 2013
At “The Bright Pink Libertarian”, Chris Murphy shares some of Stephan Kinsella’s opinion concerning ‘Left Libertarianism’ -
“ They want libertarians to stop saying capitalism because they want us to adopt their substantive unlibertarian, Marxian agenda. Yet they pretend it’s just for strategical or lexical concerns–which it’s not. This is yet another reason I think we should dig our heels in and not give in: they will then count it as a substantive victory for unlibertarian, leftist ideas.”
At the risk of gilding the lily, let me add this: if you claim to be either a left libertarian or a right libertarian, and by that claim you mean that you support some level of coercive governance, then you are no libertarian at all. Progressives can lean libertarian. Conservatives can lean libertarian. But libertarians do not lean. We are upright.
Dave Killion — March 23, 2013
At Cato Unbound, philosophy professor Nicole Hassoun is taking part in a discussion on ‘Authority, Obedience, and the State‘. As part of her contribution, she argues that people have not only negative rights, but positive, as well. It’s a hopeless position, made up chiefly of declarations like this -
“I do not have property rights that extend so far that they allow me to withhold essential goods that I do not need from those who will suffer and die without them.”
This is, probably, the most concise expression of a life-boat scenario I have ever encountered, yet it still demonstrates the extremes to which authoritarians must go to construct circumstances that might justify coercive redistribution. Surely, there are people who suffer and die for lack of essential goods. But that suffering and death can be laid at the feet of Ms. Hassoun only if those goods could have been provided by her and no one else. That is, there is no one who will suffer and die because they didn’t get essential goods specifically from Ms. Hassoun, rather than from me, or you, or anyone else who has them. So how can it be that the need, want, or desert of anyone grants them a property in any of Ms. Hassoun’s goods, rather than mine or yours? And if no claim be made against any individual, how can it be made against every individual? Clearly, it cannot. If Ms. Hassoun would like to help diminish suffering, she would do well to give up advocating coercive redistribution, and start promoting free markets.
Dave Killion — February 24, 2013
The Cato Institute’s Dan Mitchell shares this amusing information -
“Every so often you get a “teaching moment” in Washington. We now have one excellent example, as President Obama’s nominee for treasury secretary has been caught with his hand in the “tax haven” cookie jar. Mr. Lew not only invested some of his own money in a Cayman-based fund, he also was in charge of a Citi Bank division that had over 100 Cayman-domiciled funds. “
Mitchell has pointed out plenty of this type of conduct before, and he notes that Republicans are tickled to mock left-wing hypocrisy (chiefly, I think, because it distracts from right-wing hypocrisy). But I think this sort of response misses an opportunity. Rather than mocking the opposition for being hypocrites, it might be better to point out that they have, through their actions, revealed that they actually approve of the practice/regulation/what-have-you that they have been speaking against. Afterwards, never miss an opportunity to defend your own position by citing the implicit endorsement of it by your opposition. If we demonstrate to left-wing and right-wing voters that the politicians they support are actually opposed to the values they hold, perhaps we can bring them that much closer to libertarian enlightenment.