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Posts Tagged ‘tyler cowen’

Sometimes, I just love Tyler Cowen.

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Tyler Cowen writes:

Yes, 40 percent of the Obama stimulus package will be a tax cut.  It’s already a talking point that “the Democrats have lost their nerve” but the reality is not so devious.  Obama wishes to deliver on his pledge to cut taxes (always electorally popular) and upon close inspection the economic team probably hasn’t found a lot of first-year stimulus spending it likes.  That leads to this obvious policy conclusion and of course it is very good news.  No, I do not think these tax cuts will drive recovery but a) less money will be wasted, and b) it shows that the Obama team is willing to flinch and be realistic, not just as a final compromise but indeed as an opening gambit.

I agree.

So far, all of Obama’s actions — from his excellent economic appointees to the current package — show that he is more a pragmatist than a far-left idealogue. Of course this does not mean his policies, economic or otherwise, will be great; merely that they will be less bad than some had feared. 

By the way, the Obama’s stimulus package is giving Paul Krugman “post-partisan depression”. Now that is definitely a great thing.

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I came across this old post by Tyler Cowen today:

The libertarian vice is to assume that the quality of government is fixed.  The libertarian also argues that the quality of government is typically low, and this is usually the bone of contention, but that is not the point I wish to consider.  Often that dispute is a red herring.

If the quality of government is fixed, the battle is then “government vs. market.”  Not everyone will agree with libertarian views, but libertarians are comfortable on this terrain.

But sometimes governments do a pretty good job, even if you like me are generally skeptical of government.  The Finnish government has supported superb architecture.  The Swedes have made a good go at a welfare state.  The Interstate Highway System in the U.S. was a high-return investment.  In the area of foreign policy, we have done a good job juggling the China-Taiwan relationship.  Or how about the Aswan Dam for Egypt?  You might contest these particular examples but I assure you there are many others.

Read the whole thing. I think posts like these are important not just because they are accurate but because they define certain paths to rationality ruin that any thinking individual should make sure to avoid.

Also, I found this bit amusing:

Libertarianism and modern liberalism differ in many regards, and usually I am closer to the libertarian point of view.  But I am also a contrarian by nature.  If you want to make me feel more like a modern liberal, just go ahead and commit The Libertarian Vice.

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Sometimes, Tyler Cowen is in a class of his own.

Via Angus (and do read his snark on TFP), here is Paul Samuelson:

Libertarians are not just bad emotional cripples. They are also bad advice givers.

[…] When I see people writing sentences of this kind, I imagine them pressing a little button which makes them temporarily less intelligent.  Because, indeed, that is how one’s brain responds when one employs this kind of emotionally charged rhetoric.

As you go through life and read various writers, I want you to keep this idea of the button in mind.  As you are reading, think “Ah, he [she] is pressing the button now!”

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Tyler Cowen suggests that for many people, “the real force behind a political ideology is the subconsciously held desire that a certain group of people should not be allowed to rise in relative status.”

Take the so-called “right wing.”  I believe that some people on the right do not like those they perceive as “whiners.”  They do not want these whiners to rise in relative status.  That means they must argue against the whining and also they must argue against the presuppositions behind the whining.

If the whiners say that times are bad, the rebuttal is that times are pretty good or times will become better again.  But if the whiners want to increase government benefits (perhaps there is a victim to whine about), we hear about the need to tighten our belts and all the talk about good times is, at least temporarily, muted.  Fiscal discipline is now in order.

Take the so-called “left wing.”  Some of these people favor a kind of meritocracy.  They feel it is unfair that money so determines access in capitalist society and they do not want the monied class to rise in relative status, certainly not above the status of the smart people and the virtuous people.  It is important to fight for the principle that the desires of this monied class have a relatively low priority in the social ranking. 

Fits in with my long held view that ideologies (and many other things, including degree of faith) are to an extent preprogrammed by personality or temparament (which certainly express themselves through the manner of emotional response to other people).

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