Monday, September 04, 2006

After Further Review...The Article Stands.

I've finally had time to read Carlton Hobbs' counterattack on me. We are in the midst of a move so I can't offer a full reply. Suffice it to say, I think Hobbs is crazy if he considers Amanda Taylor to be "pro-market." She wasn't complaining about State intervention making international trade appear profitable, she was rather complaining about things being decided on the basis of profit (rather than energy consumed or some other criterion).

Yes, Taylor didn't openly call for government action. (I daresay that she favors anti-pollution laws, though. I would be quite surprised if her solution for the environment was to persuade consumers to boycott smokestacks, though perhaps she's a consistent pacifist or something and this really is her position.) But I never said her article was evil, I said it was dumb.

If someone wrote a piece saying, "Consumers should boycott Burger King because monarchy is exploitative," I would consider that a dumb article too. I wouldn't think, "Ah sweet! This person hates oppressive government just like me! Our ranks swell!"


  1. Carlton Hobbs5:33 PM

    If Taylor defends centralism on any other area, I wouldn't defend that. But important points I think worth addressing: 1. Decentralists are allies in reducing state power, even if they are ascetics or Amish or whatever decisions they make *within* the market. 2. You've fallen into the fallacy of "X market is free, so arguments that people should change their market behavior are economically ignorant."

    You have judged Taylor's value judgements as if bad according to a value-free economics judgement. But Austrian economics itself does not allow such value judgements.

    In a way, you've made the same mistake as socialists and classical economists who claim profit is zero in a free market, and so claim profit immoral, supposedly because of general equilibrium, which is itself the artificial construct not part of reality.

    Even supposing that Taylor's argument was dumb, that doesn't mean she really used the economic fallacies you claimed. If people want to value the origin of a good, how does a value-free economics argue against that valuation? If you admit your argument against her was not from a value-free economics perspective, than why do you make it appear so?

  2. Carlton,

    You're really going to make me reread her article, aren't you? *sigh*

    Before I do that, can you elaborate on how I'm making the same mistake as socialists or classical economists? I understand your other claims, but not that one.

  3. Carlton Hobbs2:12 AM

    Ricardian socialists, etc. reject profit on the market because in a "perfect market," profit = 0. So if profit perists, they assume that it must persists due to privelege and injustice. They would argue that if it just exists, but not persists, then it is an inefficiency.

    You are assuming that if an existing market price of a commodity is cheaper when shipped half way around the world than from next door, that it must be cheaper in fact. If this argument is not dependent on assuming a (near) perfect market, I'd like to know how not.. but that dependence on efficient market theory is how I thought your argument like Ricardian socialists and classical economists.

    It also wouldn't be enough to say, "It is the most perfect market possible lacking D. Friedman's 'bureaucrat god' concept," because I/Taylor argue intra-market action could conceivably lead to improvement, not for an extra-market bureacrat god.

    So IMO, you unintentionally assume a static economic equilibrium in this free market. This article is mostly tangent, but there are some Rothbard quotes in it that I think would apply.

    I didn't think there was anything else in Taylor's article you needed to review, just to separate Austrian/entrepreneurial economics which is dynamic and time based, centered on finding market inefficiencies (entrepreneurial opportunities) from the opposite: Perfect markets where general equilibrium is assumed to be a real and existing starting point which rejects claims of inefficiencies in existing markets.

  4. Carlton,

    In the past I've written articles defending the "outrageous" salaries of baseball players and CEOs. Part of my justification was that their marginal product was higher than that of janitors and schoolteachers. If I understand you correctly, an Austrian has no business saying that, right? All I could've said is that, on libertarian grounds, people should be free to pay whatever they want to their employees. But if a critic complains about it, and says things like, "Where are this nation's priorities?!?" then the Austrian has nothing to say on this. In fact, to the extent that the critic thinks kids should play baseball in the back yard and not in a stadium, the critic is actually an ally of anarchists. Right?

    You like Taylor because she is pro-community agriculture and so are you. But by the same token, I dislike Taylor because she is collectivist, xenophobic, and suspicious of Red China.

  5. The Hobbs' article was not dumb. Dumb means you can't speak. The article was stupid.

  6. "Ricardian socialists, etc. reject profit on the market because in a "perfect market," profit = 0. So if profit perists, they assume that it must persists due to privelege and injustice."

    And this is right! In a free market pure profits will be competed away over time. Perhaps you have confused "profit" with "interest."

    "You are assuming that if an existing market price of a commodity is cheaper when shipped half way around the world than from next door, that it must be cheaper in fact."

    I didn't see Bob make that assumption anywhere. Instead, I think you and Taylor are assuming that if it's shipped halfway around the world it must not be cheaper in fact, a wholly unwarranted assumption, but necessary for you to make your moral case for local agriculture. And that's the real problem with Taylor--she doesn't just express a preference for shopping locally, she wants to convince us that we are wrong to buy produce from China--she wants to elevate her own whims into moral principles.


Zeno for the computer age

If you wish to better understand Zeno's worry about the continuum, you could do worse than to consider loops in software. Case 1: You...