February 4, 2013
I’ve heard it said before that too much choice can be harmful for people. I’m thinking primarily of Sheena Iyengar’s TEDTalk of July, 2010, The Art of Choosing, in which she said at about 10:38:
But for Eastern Europeans [who were acclimating to freer markets after the fall of communism], the sudden availability of all these consumer products on the marketplace was a deluge. They were flooded with choice before they could protest that they didn’t know how to swim. When asked, “What words and images do you associate with choice?” Gregors from Warsaw said, “Ah. For me it is fear. There are some dilemmas, you see. I am used to no choice.” Bodin, from Kiev, said in response to how he felt about the new consumer marketplace, “It is too much. We do not need everything that is there.” …
When someone can’t see how one choice is unlike another, or when there are too many choices to compare and contrast, the process of choosing can be confusing and frustrating. Instead of making better choices, we become overwhelmed by choice, sometimes even afraid of it. Choice no longer offers opportunities, but imposes constraints. It’s not a marker of liberation, but of suffocation by meaningless minutia. In other words, choice can develop into the very opposite of everything it represents in America, when it is thrust up on those who are insufficiently prepared for it.
Her point is well taken that a sudden overabundance of choice can be confusing and frustrating to those whose decision-making faculties have been stunted by years of repression, but her attitude is convoluted. Choice is not the villain here. Choice was not “thrust upon those who were insufficiently prepared for it”. Rather, a cadre of communist despots thrust the absence of choice on those people by force, thereby causing their impreparation for what, in freer countries, is simply the state of nature. Read the rest of this entry »
September 24, 2012
One of many nail “bombs”, allegedly left by Philadelphia Construction Union workers to sabotage deliveries to a non-union Post Brothers construction site.
My support for unions ends where their anti-competitive activities begin.
I often claim to champion the rights of the individual against leviathan aggregations of power. So a friend of mine was taken aback when I expressed an ambivalence, if not an aversion, to labor unions. Our first conversation on the matter ended abruptly, but we have recently revisited the issue. Here are my thoughts.
For this blog’s purpose, I won’t challenge the workers’ claimed right to keep their jobs while forming unions, even though I do consider that technically to be a violation of free association. Technically, employment at will should mean that either the manager or the worker can break off the work arrangement at any time for any reason. Technically, contracts containing anti-union “yellow dog” provisions ought to be enforced when signed by informed, consenting adults. However, I do recognize, and I’m sympathetic to, the disparity in bargaining power between workers and managers. Therefore, I’ll tolerate this minor deviation from principle and avoid balancing the fate of the great masses of working people on mere moral-philosophical technicalities. After all, the existence of unions is not what concerns me most. I’m more concerned with what unions do after they’ve formed. Read the rest of this entry »
July 15, 2012
Brooklyn man sentenced to 2 1/2 years for role in black-market kidney trafficking scheme
The man in question is New York Rabbi Levy Izhak Rosenbaum.
I advocated legalizing the sale of organs a couple months ago on facebook, and the objections I received have been fairly irrational and uninspiring. Perhaps if people considered a real-life case of organ trade, they’ll begin to think about organ markets more clearly. Let’s take a look at the NJ.com report, which first introduces the kidney donor/vendor: Read the rest of this entry »