Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wingnuts "R" Them...

Ummm... Ezra:

Ezra Klein: Kashing In: And speaking of the overrepresentation of libertarian econ bloggers, I was interested to see this study (pdf) showing that precious few economists are actually free marketeers. Indeed, only a couple of percent qualify...

Here's the "study":

http://www.sofi.su.se/wp/WP06-6.pdf Is There a Free-Market Economist in the House? The Policy Views of American Economic Association Members. By Daniel B. Klein and Charlotta Stern: People often suppose or imply that free-market economists constitute a significant portion of all economists. We surveyed American Economic Association members and asked their views on 18 specific forms of government activism. We find that about 8 percent of AEA members can be considered supporters of free-market principles, and that less than 3 percent may be called strong supporters...

Here are a few choice words from one of the authors of that "study":

http://www.scu.edu/civilsocietyinstitute/events/upload/DiscriminationKlein.pdf: Antidiscrimination Laws Violate Freedom Maryland used to prohibit whites and blacks from playing tennis together. H.L. Mencken protested:

Is such a prohibition supported by anything to be found in common sense and common decency? My answer is a loud and unequivocal No. A free citizen in a free state, it seems to me, has an inalienable right to play with whomsoever he will, so long as he does not disturb the general peace. If any other citizen, offended by the spectacle, makes a pother, then that other citizen, and not the man exercising his inalienable right, should be put down by the police.

But if freedom means being allowed to play tennis together, it also means being allowed to choose not to play tennis together....

Along with self-ownership, the freedom of contract (or of association) is a cornerstone of freedom or liberty, as understood by the whole classical-liberal tradition....

  1. Vague, complicated govt rules are imposed from the top-down. They lead to uncertainty; people don’t know what’s unlawful. People are confused about appropriate behavior; social norms of esteem and reputation don’t work well when people don’t know what kind of behavior is “bad.”
  2. The enforcement of interventionist rules falls on government.
  3. Specifying an Anti-Discrimination Law. In formulating an anti-discrimination law, a philosopher-statesperson must specify:
    • What categories are protected
    • What constitutes belonging to the protected category
    • In what activities such discrimination will be unlawful
    • How the law will be administered and enforced
    • What kinds of behavior constitute unlawful discrimination....

Civil Rights Act of 1964 reads: Section 703.

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin....

Intervention presumes knowability (Hayek). But the relevant social facts are usually not knowable. Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men? Only the Shadow knows!... People become pitted against each other, suspicious....

Sometimes antidiscrimination laws harm their purported beneficiaries.... One never knows whether someone attained a position because he was a member of a protected category. The only way you can know that you can ride without training wheels is to ride without training wheels.... Antidiscrimination laws demean members of the protected categories.... By coercing ordinary citizens, antidiscrimination laws might make the disabled swell with a sense of power, but the law also sends the message that without government privileges they cannot assert their own worth and dignity....

Antidiscrimination laws create backlash. People resent being forced, they develop hatreds. One reason racial and gender issues are so bitter and acrimonious is because force is involved....

The last of these is, I think, the ugliest.

Only Daniel Klein thinks that the class of free-market economists is identical to that of ignorant, vicious wingnuts.

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