Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I'm a Libertarian in theory, but vote Republican because I want my vote to count.

On, I'm a Libertarian/Republican. This seems about right. More importantly, the odd results many get (like Scott Sumner being a Green/Socialist) seem to largely come from failing to spend any time weighting the importance of the categories.

Just like real voting, our system sucks because people vote expressively (for what they feel) rather than instrumentally (to accomplish policy).

What's "important" should be:
1. How big is the issue? The death penalty affects a trivial amount of people, the Obamacare fiasco a huge amount of people.
2. How can the issue be resolved? While I might sympathize more with those who suggest Global Warming is a huge problem, the proposed solution of cap and trade is terrible while the GOP of encouraging market responses seems practical. Likewise, many of the "problems" don't need solutions imposed by the government, because cultural and social dynamics will resolve them no matter who's in power (e.g. Gay rights).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Intelligence is supposedly going to be explained here, but I think the purported criticisms to be explained are strawman versions of more substantive and hard to refute criticisms. I don't think intelligence is very useful as a practical matter because:

1. It is not necessary to assume we are all good at something to criticize the overall intelligence concept. Rather, it's enough to note that everyone has different relative strengths across their cognitive domains, and it's these variations, along with that 50% of ability that isn't "g-locked' and is somewhat variant, will often dominate the explanation.

The blogger says that intelligence exists to cope with uncertainty. To pull an economics concept into the discussion, intelligence by definition doesn't help one cope with something like Knightian uncertainty (an uncertainty that's simply not calculable in a meaningful way). More practically, how many philosophers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because it's not a problem that requires a philosopher. There are a lot of ways to resolve life's many uncertainties, and it's not always evident that throwing more intelligence at the problem is the most efficient. Out of all the problems out there to be solved, a critical application of abnormal intelligence solves very few of them.

2. The brightest of us aren't as bright we might hope. And definitely not so bright as to rightly claim the prerogatives they have historically claimed. Simply put, the smartest of us frequently lie, cheat, steal and kill, and the dumbest of us frequently know when they're being lied to, cheated, stolen from, and killed.

3. “It is possible that clever people develop a kind of cognitive noblesse oblige; they kind of know they have won the lottery on a valuable trait, but they think it is bad form to acknowledge it.”

See 2. If you're truly smart, you ought to be smart enough to not go prattling on about it. And if you're truly smart and realize that the overwhelming majority of people are truly quite a bit less smart, you ought to be smart enough to understand they may not be smart enough to take your prattling on about it in stride.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

...providing access to private healthcare insurance to the working poor is obviously the point of no return.

 a black president doing something for black citizens (even though the vast majority of beneficiaries of Obamacare will be non-black). Andrew Sullivan - via Ann Althouse.

Of course, in reality the concern is that Obamacare's rules are basically creating a permanent caste system between the working poor and the working professional.

Under Obamacare the working professional gets heavily tax-subsidized employer-based insurance and the working poor get penalized if they do not buy insurance. And they get permanently routed to part-time jobs.

Basically, if you came up with a recipe to destroy the working class, you couldn't do a better job than Obamacare. So much for being a beneficiary.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

People like the debt ceiling and they should.

People like the debt ceiling (although Tyler Cowen doesn't).The debt ceiling is useful precisely because it forces both voters and representatives to at some level confront and resolve the cognitive dissonance between "I want to spend all this money" and "I don't want to be at an unsustainable debt level".

The debt ceiling makes more sense, not less, in light of both behavior economics and public choice lessons.