17
Nov
11

All linky, no thinky

Pop quiz, hotshot: who said this?

I think the labour laws are outdated. The labour laws induce sloth, indolence, rather than hard working. The incentive system, is totally out of whack. […]

[A] welfare society should not induce people not to work hard.

Was it:

a) Grinch-like German Chancellor Andrea Merkel, complaining about her country being on the hook for a Greek bailout?
b) Hard-hearted conservative bloviator Rush Limbaugh, blaming the welfare state for Occupy Wall Street?
c) Robotic Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, looking for excuses for the country’s inability to grow its way out of debt?  Or
d) Jin Liqun, chairman of the People’s Republic of China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, explaining his doubts about investing in a Eurozone bailout?

No points for guessing.

——

Next we have a reminder of the power of property rights:

After the first season, catch shares were adopted in the Alaskan king crab fishery, eliminating the race-to-fish and increasing fishery safety as a result. […] Catch shares have not only improved safety, they have also created incentives for greater sustainability.

Further evidence that property-based resource management systems are superior than traditional regulatory alternatives.

Funny how that works.

——

We continue with a pair of Reason Hit & Run links on the Occupy Wall Street protests.  First, Mike Riggs welcomes white middle-class Americans to the police brutality party:

(Radley Balko obviously excepted.)

The responses of police departments and Democrat-run municipalities is causing a much needed paradigm shift. The Occupy Wall Street movement is composed largely of people who have never before been cuffed to anything but a headboard, if that. Many of them are white, and some of them are probably urban gentrifiers, which means their previous attitudes toward police likely ranged from indifferent to fond. And now those same cops, who used to only screw with blacks and hispanics, are suddenly going after highly educated, well-bred, pale-faces, AKA “skinny intellectuals.”

This is not how police are supposed to be work seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Some crimes are worse than others. Which crimes, and why? Think about it, OWS. If getting pepper-sprayed and batoned for the minor crime of blocking traffic is absolutely outrageous, how much crazier is it to knock down someone’s door in the middle of the night, shoot his pets, point a gun at his wife, and call child services all because he had some pot in his house? Do you think you could see yourself protesting that, now that you’ve been inconvenienced for an afternoon? (If not, that’s OK. But it’s something you should think about next time you want to tell a stranger that you’re doing what you’re doing for them.)

Next, Shikha Dalmia pokes fun at Michael Moore:

I have a recommendation for a new venue for Occupy protesters kicked out of Zuccotti Park and elsewhere: Michael Moore’s home, sorry, mansion. […]

Moore’s estate can go toe-to-toe in size, nouveau-riche ostentatiousness and pure bad taste with any in the area, which is saying something given that his neighbors include not just fellow Hollywood celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Madonna, and Tim Allen—but also corporate execs such as ex-Chrysler Chairman Bob Eaton and other Big Three execs, Auto mogul Bill Schuiling and boat-magnate John Win, the very people whom the protesters despise.

They’ll be able to yell at them right from their tents in Moore’s backyard which raises this question: Why did Moore have to go to Zuccotti Park to tell the one percenters what he thought of them?

Zing!

——

Finally, Will Wilkinson writes about the sinister conspiracies that’re keeping Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party down:

Refractory disagreement is a bedrock fact of liberal society. As is, I would add, the darkly utopian idea Mr Sanchez identifies: the notion that disagreement is a product of malign, illegitimate, external influence. We are much too confident in our political beliefs, and our over-confidence is sustained in part by just-so stories about why others fail to see things our way. The liberal media! Right-wing think tanks! The socialist indoctrination camps known as “colleges”! George Soros! The Koch brothers! The Bilderbergers! Corporations! The state! The military-industrial complex!

There is something profoundly satisfying about believing that one’s own team alone has seen through the fog of disinformation and propaganda to the real truth about the treacherous interests that stand between our condition and the reign of justice. And there is something terrifically exciting about the sense, often engendered by visible protest movements, that one’s own team is growing, that its narrative is catching on. Conversely, there is something profoundly dissatisfying, and a little bit demoralising, in acknowledging that most people will never accept many of ones’ most ardently-held convictions, and that, therefore, none of us will ever get to live in a society that closely matches, or even roughly approximates, our beloved ideals. But it’s true all the same.

This supports my thesis that exit rights are more powerful than voting rights: it’s hard to get a plurality of voters to agree to support your favourite institutional reform.  Which doesn’t mean it’s impossible, as Eric Crampton reminds us:

I’m reminded of Jennifer Roback’s work showing how southern racists were able to achieve at the ballot box segregation outcomes they were unable to achieve in the market. To recap: racist southern whites wanted segregated streetcars. But it was too expensive for the streetcar companies to run segregated cars: the increased ticket revenues from white racists didn’t compensate sufficiently for lost black custom and, especially, increased running costs. White racists effectively weren’t willing to pay enough for tickets to segregated streetcars, so the market didn’t provide them. But casting a racist ballot is individually costless. And so streetcar segregation was mandated through regulation.

When I see folks going to the ballot box to enforce their preferences over other peoples’ activities, my general presumption is that transactions costs isn’t what’s keeping meddlers from seeking less coercive options. The ballot box is just cheaper when a majority has weakly meddlesome preferences, regardless of efficiency.

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