What Is the “Ideal” Distribution of Wealth?

March 17, 2013

I’ve seen this video at least four times on facebook. I’d say it has achieved a critical mass of re-posts to warrant some sort of comment. The topic is America’s calamitous distribution of wealth, and the fear and loathing it should allegedly strike in the hearts of poor and middle-class Americans. Here is the video:

My attempts to find an organizational source with further information for this video have failed. Politizane‘s YouTube account appears to be the video’s origin, although others have re-posted it. As of this writing, no other videos appear under that name.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Passive Voice: Who, exactly, “needs” to reward the wealthy for their “risks”?

February 18, 2013

“Consider all of your words. Many of them name deeds or states that are possible only to human beings. When you use them, attach them to persons. Give names and addresses wherever possible.” ~ Richard Mitchell, “The Underground Grammarian”

On facebook today, a warm and empathetic statement from a socialist/anarchist (I think) friend of mine, whom I respect greatly for his willingness to talk through the tough issues and consider opposing points of view:

Who, exactly, "needs" to reward the wealthy for their "risks"?

Who, exactly, “needs” to reward the wealthy for their “risks”?

We libertarians catch a lot of flak, much of it well deserved, for being insufficiently empathetic with the poor and their plight. I therefore try to approach comments like this with due care. Even so, economic reality is what it is. I can’t change it, and I have to tell it like it is.

In this particular instance, my friend, or the person whom he heard talk, has obscured economic reality through the passive voice. I encounter this unfortunate obscurant frequently. It radiates like a beacon in my mind’s eye, revealing the presence of muddled and incomplete thought.  Read the rest of this entry »


Barry Schwartz: Analysis paralysis and the ‘paradox of choice’ justify wealth redistribution

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 »


Links for March 21, 2010: Backlog O’Links 2

March 13, 2011
  • It just makes sense.

  • But it’s been a challenge to convince anyone otherwise. “This is the heart of the problem—money from the Byrne grants,” Piper says. It’s money for overtime. Money for promotions. It’s policing for profit.”

    This great Philadelphia Weekly cover story highlights the embarrassing racial disparity among marijuana arrestees. There is also a great discussion on police incentives to boost pot arrests to show they are making use of stimulus money. And for what? Marijuana prohibition is simply crooked all around.   Read the rest of this entry »


  • Links for December 6, 2010: On Private Roads, Truffles, and Fiji Water

    December 5, 2010
  • The case for private road management is not that difficult to follow.

  • For now, though, Harper’s verdict remains in place: $750 for each of the 37 songs at issue, or $27,750.

  • "Fiji: You can't get any further away before you start coming back." ~Truman Burbank

  • Good reporting from Mother Jones today, this one from its facebook wall: Fiji’s government junta destroys one of the counrty’s most popular exports through taxation.

    Bainimarama said if no resolution is forthcoming, he “will call for international tenders from credible and reputable private sector companies to extract this valuable resource.”

    We’ll see about that….

  • White truffles [were on display last Sunday] during the traditional annual truffle auction in Alba, northern Italy, where a 900-gram white truffle was auctioned for €105 million ($143.58 million) to a Hong Kong buyer.” (Global Times, 18 November)

    Willing seller, willing buyer. The poor, huddled masses will have to settle for green giant mushrooms, sliced and canned.

  • Granted the auction proceeds were for charity, but what other food can bring in so much money and attention? What is it exactly that makes the white truffle so special?

    Emphasis Added.

  • Read the rest of this entry »


    Links for November 16, 2010: Some Psychological Stuff, Some Fallacious Stuff, others….

    November 14, 2010
    1. Another fascinating diatribe from Stefan Molyneux. My question is: does this not apply equally well to libertarians and anarchists? Is libertarianism not just another ideology?

    2. Large organizations, including government, which is of course the largest organization of all, have actually become completely disconnected with what actually matters to people. … What behavioral economics shows, time after time, is in human behavior and behavioral change there is a very strong disproportionality at work: that actually what changes our behavior and what changes our attitudes toward things is not actually proportional to the degree of expense entailed or to the degree of force that is applied.

    3. After invalidating more than 30,000 Nader-Camejo signatures on dubious and highly technical grounds – for example, because signers used informal names such as “Bill” instead of “William,” or because their current and registered addresses did not match – Commonwealth Court removed the candidates from the ballot. Then it ordered them to pay their challengers more than $80,000 in litigation costs.

    4. Read the rest of this entry »