"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" A few more "delusional" thoughts to John Quiggin on partisan perceptions & libertarian opposition to collective action - TT's Lost in Tokyo

A few more "delusional" thoughts to John Quiggin on partisan perceptions & libertarian opposition to collective action

Further to my preceding posts regarding John Quiggin`s post on "Libertarians and delusionism", I copy below a few of the comments that I left there:

November 4th, 2009 at 08:13 | #3

John, thanks for raising the topic more widely. However, I think you`ve wandered a bit astray yourself by missing the problem of cognitive traps, as well as missing a libertarian point or two.

I respond more fully here: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2009/11/04/john-quiggin-plays-pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-with-quot-libertarians-and-delusionism-quot.aspx


November 4th, 2009 at 18:09 | #33

John, I note that I have made a few additional comments, chiefly in an effort to clarify my understanding of libertarian views on property:


I look forward to your further thoughts.



November 5th, 2009 at 00:43 | #48

John, obviously my own experience at Mises (and at the libertarian law blog Volokh Conspiracy) is that while decidedly irrational “skepticism” and wishful thinking predominates, it is not universal. But those like me who believe that climate concerns are justified and want to analyze policy (and who are critical of ad homs directed toward “enviros”) always face challenges and criticism from those who feel too threaded to venture out into a discussion of policy.

However, outside of boards like that, it seems to me that there is a general swing by libertarian commenters on climate to an acceptance of a rather mainstream science view, though there remains natural policy disagreements. Ron Bailey, science correspondence at Reason and Jon Adler, a resources law prof at Case Western, Lynne Kiesling at Knowledge Problem blog, David Zetland, who blogs on water issues, come to mind. Others, at AEI, CEI, IER and Master Resource are partly in the business of running cover for fossil fuel interests, and so frequently challenge both science and policy.

There have been several open disputes, where Bailey, Kiesling and others have challenged skepticism at CEI and elsewhere, as I noted on my recent “libertarian views” summary post. Readers might also find this upbraiding of Penn & Teller to be interesting: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/07/05/penn-amp-teller-quot-bull-quot-artists-get-ready-to-change-their-quot-skeptical-quot-stance-on-climate-change.aspx

BTW, I note that one self-described libertarian group in California has specifically proposed carbon taxes, though this is a rather obscure group and their “Pay Your Air Share” proposal appears to be little-discussed: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/02/13/quot-pay-your-air-share-quot-libertarian-think-tank-advocates-carbon-taxes.aspx

  1. November 5th, 2009 at 17:08 | #36

    “It is the collective action that is required that extreme libertarians hate so much. ”

    Libertarians don`t oppose collective action per se, but are opposed to “collective” actions that are dictated by the state -because it hampers the ability of communities to respond to problems on their own, weakens links between resource users and the relevant resource, frequently locks in benefits for powerful insiders (viz., the big firms that profess to love markets but really love their deals from government that lock in their advantageous position) – thereby setting up enduring fights over the wheel of government -and because the “knowledge problem” generally ensures that solutions will be ham-handed and generate a need for further interventions.

    You, John and others might not have noticed, but these are some of the chief conclusions of the empirical research by “tragedy of the commons” expert Elinor Ostrom, and her writings about how counter-productive stated-led “development” and commons-management efforts have been is precisely the reason why the Swedes awarded her the Nobel Prize in economics.

  2. November 5th, 2009 at 17:19 | #37

    Alice, on the topic of “watermelons”, surely the libertarians have a point that many environmentalists really do not understand how markets or free societies function, but typically this term is used not to explain, but as an ad hom, both to dismiss concerns over climate science and to avoid the heavy work of arguing over policy, as I`ve noted here:


  3. November 5th, 2009 at 17:33 | #39

    John, to sum up, while clearly many libertarians are guilty of wishful thinking as to the climate science, by the same token many environmentalists and leftists seem to blithely ignore all of the problems that are associated with state/bureaucratic responses.

    Yes, there are self-deluded on both sides, but to seek to explain away (or dispense with considering) the opposition of others is itself a flight from reason and responsibility.

    That this is understandable , human and a common phenomenon in the case of tribal or partisan conflict – as Nick Kristof points out: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/04/17/nick-kristof-on-politics-why-we-conclude-that-i-m-right-and-you-re-evil.aspx – makes it something that we should all the more try to avoid, rather than indulge in, which seems to be the drift of this post and many of your commenters.

    On this point, I would recommend that you and others take a look at some of the opposition to cap-and-trade now springing up on the left in the US; see the comments of two EPA lawyers and of Dr. Janese Hansen here:

    Says Hansen: “I hope that Williams and Zabel give decision makers pause. This is no time to be rushing into costly ineffectual legislation. It is time to call a halt on any legislation this year, and take time to understand the matter. It would take 20 years to fix the mess that Congress, with the help of special interests, seems intent on creating.”



Published Thu, Nov 5 2009 4:33 PM by TokyoTom