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All ideology aside: If the government had followed a laissez-faire policy for the last six months, and output, employment, housing, and financial markets stood exactly where they stand today, what fraction of people would conclude that “Events decisively prove that laissez-faire is a disaster”? Can you honestly give any answer less than 90%?

Here. Note that even though I am not sure Karl Popper would call this science, it does illustrate the implicit leanings of popular thought in America. One of the most dissatisfying things about the current downturn, or about economic ideology in general, is that virtually any outcome can be used to justify one’s position. In response to Caplan’s point above, I am sure the Obamacrats would argue that they never had their hands on the wheel in true Obamacrat fashion – that half of the failed governmental policies came from the Bush Administration. And while that would technically be true, it distracts the readers from the more important discussion – it is not Democrat policy or Republican policy here that is the culprit, it is the intervention of government into the market process – seriously arresting the (often painful) changes that need to take place by distorting the price signals that buyers and sellers would use to make such changes.

Or you would end up in a food-fight about “6 months is not enough time to judge” … or something or other. This is why it is not only important to argue on utilitarian grounds, but to offer a more foundational approach to your views. On that point, I think the Obamacrats have a little more credibility than the Republicans that were in power talking about small government and individual responsibility while overseeing the largest peacetime expansion of the budget in the nation’s history. At least we know the Obamacrats favors taking from Peter to pay Paul as a matter of social justice – regardless of whether it is good or bad for economic growth. Some of the more intellectual among them will try to argue that equity and social justice are actually welfare improving, but I think for many on that side of the intellectual aisle, that would just be gravy … an open hostility to private property and free-exchange are at the heart of what they believe. A support for these ideas is only used for political expediency by those on the “right.”

One Response to “Bryan Caplan on Double Standards”

  1. Patrick says:

    What!? How did you post this during class?

    It says “3:27”!

    As to your point, the natural instinct of many people is to do something, whether or not it will actually work. I don’tpersonally understand this. However, I was recently explaining to one of my friends just how the stimulus is unlikely to do anything at all (or even be harmful!) and their response was “well, it’s better than doing nothing”

    Well, it’s not really better than doing nothing. For some reason, however, this immediately comes to mind for Americans (don’t know, maybe Europeans too)

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