Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Every time you think critically...

...a kid is put in an iron lung!

I just don't get this mentality, brilliantly displayed in the above linked comment by an anonymous old codger in response to my recent post about vaccine fearmongering.

It's as if critical exchange is all well and good in the abstract, but if something like that were to actually go public?! No way. It's an insult to good science and good taste to keep moving things forward by questioning and scrutinizing how we do things now! By questioning current practice, these young upstarts must really be reactionaries who can't appreciate that, after all, things are better than they were in the 1940's!


  1. Out of curiosity...speaking of thinking you agree with your brother's critique of pragmatarianism?

  2. Daniel's critique covers the sorts of concerns that I would raise.

  3. I take it to mean that you would disagree with the following statement...

    "The biggest objection is that important programs will be underfunded. But that consequence is actually logically impossible. If Americans don't think a program is important enough to provide more funding, then in a democracy, by definition it isn't a priority so doesn't deserve more funding. " - Daniel Indiviglio

  4. Yes, I would disagree with it. That sort of talk of logical impossibility would only have currency amongst folks who grossly oversimplify political theory generally, and democracy in particular. Democracy is rife with inner contradictions, and it hasn't stopped theorists from tweaking it and offering rival versions of it. To act as if democracy is a tight enough conceptual system to speak of it as being, even ideally, a logically airtight system like this just seems absurd to me.

  5. Not sure if I understand. Let's try a slightly different angle. Either you're happy spending your own taxes on the public goods that you value...or you're not. If you're not happy spending your own taxes...then that means that you want to spend my taxes on the public goods that you value. But if you spend my taxes on the things that you value...then that means that you would be partially destroying my individual foresight.

    Why do you want to destroy my individual foresight...yet I want to protect your individual foresight? How do explain this disparity?

  6. What is "individual foresight"?

    To be honest, Xerographica, I hadn't heard of tax choice until you directed me to your blog, and I've only skimmed that post and Daniel's original post. It sounds like a conversation that has been going on for a long time, and one that goes deeper than I'm really interested in engaging with. It sounds interesting, but unconvincing to me. And I probably can't answer all of the potential questions that you have for me.

    I'm not sure that one's individual foresight is or needs to be preserved in a political situation. But as I said above, I'm also not sure exactly what this is in the first place.

    1. Your individual foresight is what would help you determine whether or not you spend your time having this conversation. It helps you decide whether you spend your limited resources on X or Y. Here are a few references...

      "Moreover, what is a resource today may cease to be one tomorrow, while what is a valueless object today may become valuable tomorrow. The resource status of material objects is therefore always problematical and depends to some extent on foresight. An object constitutes wealth only if it is a source of an income stream. The value of the object to the owner, actual or potential, reflects at any moment its expected income-yielding capacity. This, in its turn, will depend on the uses to which the object can be turned. The mere ownership of objects, therefore, does not necessarily confer wealth; it is their successful use which confers it. Not ownership but use of resources is the source of income and wealth." - Lachmann, The Market Economy and the Distribution of Wealth

      ...and another one...

      "If the socialists mean that under extraordinary circumstances, for urgent cases, the state should set aside some resources to assist certain unfortunate people, to help them adjust to changing conditions, we will, of course, agree. This is done now; we desire that it be done better. There is, however, a point on this road that must not be passed; it is the point where governmental foresight would step in to replace individual foresight and thus destroy it. It is quite evident that organized charity would, in this case, do much more permanent harm than temporary good." - Bastiat, Justice and Fraternity

      I guess the simplest way of looking at it would be to say that two heads are better than one. That's why we would benefit as a society if millions and millions of our most productive citizens were given the freedom to choose which government organizations they gave their individual taxes to.

    2. So you're basically putting all of the eggs of participatory democracy into the basket of an experimental political economy.

      Yeah, doesn't sound dangerous at all.

    3. Right now there are 538 congresspeople spending 1/4 of our nation's revenue. I'm advocating that we put all those eggs into the hands of the 150 million+ people who actually labored to earn that money. Yet, you're concerned that pragmatarianism puts too many eggs in the same basket. Pragmatarianism does exactly the opposite...

      "It follows, then, that a less centralized society has the advantage of a greater diversification of its performance across a larger number of preceptors. This is because diversification here dilutes the impact of the ability, or the lack thereof, of each preceptor on the aggregate societal performance." - Raaj K. Sah, Fallibility in Human Organizations and Political Systems

  7. Sorry for the digression, but I thought it was Daniel making the post until I saw the comments.

    Man, you two have a really similar writing style and thought pattern - such that if I saw a post made by either of you guys without the name, I wouldn't know who said it.

    I mean that as a compliment, by the way. Surely it is rare to see both siblings of such intellectual caliber!


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