Tuesday, January 24, 2006


It's just another ism, aint' it?

Okay, here's what I think, this morning, before I've had my coffee. I think libertarianism takes to its logical conclusion the conservative fallacy that people are rational. Pace John Von Neumann, people are obviously not rational actors, and any worldview that assume they are, or should be, is on shaky ground from the outset. Standard economic arguments always seem to take rationality as one of their axioms - is it any wonder the standard economic arguments so often seem to make no sense? Particularly because economists tend to then turn their models around, hold them up as Truth, and then blame people for not conforming to their models. "Golly, people don't behave so as to optimize this abstract notion of their own best interest. I wonder what's wrong with them?"

I'm cranky because I just looked at this argument against publicly funded schooling. I am in sympathy with some of the author's points, I even agree with some of his arguments, and he's obviously a smart guy... after all, he's teaching economics at a law school without having a degree in either economics or law - now that's smart; but I find his tone, in this article, at least, to be so self-assured (bordering on smug) and so dismissive of counterarguments, and his argumentation to be so abstract, basing policy conclusions on what seems to me simplistically rationalist economic reasoning while ignoring social and historical realities... that not only do I disagree with most of his main conclusions, but he actually succeeded in annoying me into the bargain.

On the other hand, he is a law prof who's interested in anarchy...


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