Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bob Murphy Sings "I Will Go Down with This Schiff"

And he won't put his hands up and surrender.

Here, in the latest of his series of Karaoke hits, Bob has decided to side with the flat-earth Peter Schiff in his war against empirical reality. Some excerpts with commentary:

"For what it’s worth, Scott doesn’t just take the BLS’ word over the experience of average Americans..."

The consumer confidence index, which was as low as 25 in 2009, now stands at around 80. It has been rising throughout most of this year. The experience of average Americans is very clearly that we are not in a "bad recession"! But I bet when Bob thinks of "average Americans," he is thinking of "the people I met at Porcfest," who have the same ideological bias towards seeing a bad recession that he does. (Of course, for the too many people still unemployed, the economy doesn't look great.)

"So: If all of the above just causes some sluggish growth in the economy, such that Peter Schiff doesn’t even pass the 'laugh test' for suggesting we’re still in a bad recession..."

It doesn't pass that test, Bob. Constructions projects are restarting, the Dow is hitting all-time highs, new construction is beginning again, rents are soaring. I told my wife two years ago we were out of the woods when work started again on the giant pit in our neighborhood that had sat unworked on for four years. The recovery is weak, but it is real.

"then why the heck are so many of us interested in free-market economics? It clearly doesn’t make that much of a difference, right?"

The economy can do fine with a fair amount of intervention, yes. How much can be absorbed, of what type, and so on will be a matter of historical circumstances. Some interventions might even improve things.

This is the corner Bob has painted himself into: if he accepts the facts, he has to give up an ideology. And that is painful. So it is better to claim that Mount Everest is actually a hill, one that just looks large due to the optical lenses the government has installed nearby, than to admit that it really is a largish mountain.

(And lest you think I am mocking Bob, I am not: I spent about five years trying to learn to see Mount Everest as really just a hill before I finally admitted it was a mountain. And man was it painful. One very real pain: you will discover that some high percentage of people you had thought were friends were actually merely allies! On the flipside, you will also find some were real friends.)


  1. I understand that you have evolved in your thought, and I appreciate that. The only part that puzzles me is why you didn't gravitate to a Hayekian-style anarchism. It's the state-tolerant part of your evolution that i can't fathom. And by the way, you are not alone and you have more friends than you realize. The intellectual struggle is a lifetime project for every thoughtful person.

    1. "The only part that puzzles me is why you didn't gravitate to a Hayekian-style anarchism."

      Eric Voegelin.

      "And by the way, you are not alone and you have more friends than you realize."

      Thanks. By the way, when people asked me about "splitting" with LVMI, I would typically note "And by the way, on a personal level, every time I was down there Jeff Tucker was always as gracious a host as one could possibly be.

  2. You can't raise your hands with your fingers in your ears.

    "Is empirical support asnare and a delusion?" seems to be a meme this week on Libertarian related sites. Murphy's blog is full of people arguing "evidence, meh", and he has bravely posted his debacle with David Friedman; Caplan is posting about how blindingly obviously correct his moral judgments simply must be (well, that's every week), and (as partial compensation) Henderson has a piece on evidence about what makes voters vote the way they do.


Current review queue

Pearce: British Journal for the History of Philosophy Deneen: The American Conservative Chao-Reiss: Computing Reviews