Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What I Mean by Will Hunting Smart

I have adopted the phrase "Will Hunting Smart." You should too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Bad news, I've moved.

You can now read me here.
Or type in

I hope you'll add me to your list server there.

Jeff and I have started a radio show called "Failure to Refrain," as in President George Bush has failed to refrain from comparing Iraq to Vietnam.

Anyway, I continue to do battle at God's Politics as jurisnaturalist. We're still on immigration...

And school has started again. This semester I'm reading... a lot... no, really, a LOT.

So, come on over and read what's new.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Assymetric Voting

Megan has a post explaining why NYC will always get Republican mayors.

The gist is that the Democrats, having such a majority in NYC, will always nominate a candidate too liberal to win the general election. Instead a liberal Republican will get the job. This would be interesting to test. If it is true, then Democracy is an effective check on extremist groups, but not against moderate statists.

Maybe this book will have something to say about it.

Add this to my list

Patronization Kills

Monday, August 20, 2007

'Nuff Said

go duke!

Hat tip,
Struttin' Wolf

Obfuscation is the Mother of Invention

As a member of the next generation of economists, I was glad to receive a short education in econometrics earlier today, which previous generations will certainly be familiar with, to the point of it being a cliche.

Now the problem reveals itself to be related directly to the quantity of upper extreme appendages normally attached to upright biped inspectors of dismal occurances.

Gavel bang to Mankiw.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


This article at Christianity Today gives some of the history of the principle of sanctuary, and perhaps hints at a legitimate role for the church against statism. But it falls short of understanding fundamental subtleties on law.

"As a product of a time when justice was rough and crude," law professor Wayne Logan summarized in a 2003 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review article, "sanctuary served the vital purpose of staving off immediate blood revenge." If the church could be convinced that the sanctuary seeker's life was not in danger, it would turn him over. "The church, in short, played a foremost role as intercessor," Logan writes. Fugitives in medieval English sanctuaries, about 1,000 a year, were able to negotiate financial compensation or a punishment like scourging or exile.

So the church plays the role of the judiciary by providing a recourse to violence. Justice would be served through a trial process instead of through violence. This is only possible through the Church.

Well, today many churches are choosing to play a similar role in providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants. Christianity Today denounces this action, claiming that the immigrant's life is not in jeopardy, so the church should not intervene. And the Acton Institute seems to agree.

I say nonsense.

It is imperative that we recognize the difference between natural law and legislated arbitrary law.

The natural law protects life liberty and property and enforces contracts.
Arbitrary law is primarily a vehicle for privilege. Laws restricting immigration are no different from laws restricting trade in that they are anti-competitive protectionist measures which award a privilege to incumbant citizens. Such laws are unjust due to their arbitrary and pre-judicial nature. They are pagan, and there exists no justification, moral or consequentialist for such evils.

Therefore, these churches are exercising precisely the correct action in accord with the Christian Ethic. They are protecting the innocent from violence and loss of liberty and property.

The New Sanctuary Movement is one group mobilizing to protect and encourage this action by churches. I am all for it so long as the pendulum doesn't swing so far as to advocate state support for impoverished immigrants.

Opportunity Cost and Immigration

I have little or no pity for the roofers, drywallers, textile workers, etc., who have lost their jobs to immigrants.
Why should they be protected from competition? According to what principle?
Let's say two individuals make widgets. Joe and Larry. Who should you buy a widget from? Let's assume they are of equal quality. Then you buy from whomever sells for less, let's say Joe.

Why? Because it shows that Joe's next best alternative is worse than Larry's next best alternative. He has a lower opportunity cost.

If Larry can make widgets at a cost of $4 or whatsits at a cost of $5, these are his two options.
If Joe can make widgets for $4 or whatsits at a cost of $6, these are his two options.

Who should do what? Let's say we want ten of each. If Larry makes whatsits and Joe makes widgets our economy uses $90.
If they switch roles the economy uses $100.

Everyone is better off if they allocate their energies according to what their next best alternative would be. This would be revealed in the price that each would be willing to sell their widgets for. Joe would be to sell for less because his next best alternative has a higher cost than Larry's next best alternative.

What this shows us is that competition forces people to use their resources in such a way that the entire economy benefits, instead of just concentrated groups.

We might like to protect our buddy's job, because he's our buddy. But we are hurting ourself, and others in the long run, by choosing a less efficient allocation than would have resulted through competition.

No one should ever feel like their job is secure, or that they have an entitlement to anything. Competition forces everyone to always work to improve themselves, to innovate better processes, to invent better machines, to work better, smarter, faster, more efficiently. It is through this competitive process that America has risen to a position of affluence such that it can afford to be concerned about environmental issues and such other luxuries.

Those who fall behind in the competition won't be excluded from participation, they just won't be paid as much. Their services have fallen in relative value.

Immigration is ultimately either about protection of privileged status under the law - classism, or about abuse of public programs - statism.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Africa IS Growing!

and fast in some places.

This table shows growth rates which are very positive. Why the benefits now? What has changed?

No Seatbelts for Student Drivers

This story got me thinking.

If taxi drivers in Russia and the Ukraine don't wear seatbelts as way of signaling (a la Cowen) to passengers that they are safe drivers, perhaps we ought to make teenagers drive without seatbelts for a while. Or maybe all drivers should go without seatbelts.

I've got it! Give them each a dune buggy, minus seat belts, and let 'em loose!

Or maybe this only applies in places where you have to be somewhat insane to be driving at all.

Hat tip: Casnocha

Anarcho-Capitalism and Christianity

What is central to the question of Anarcho-Capitalism and Christianity is the role, source, and execution of law.

Christianity is wholly consistent with a Natural Rights understanding of the scope of law. It is also especially consistent with a Common Law process for derivation of law. Finally, Christianity is peculiarly inconsistent with a legislative process for derivation of law.

The only legitimate role of government from the Christian perspective is Judicial. The Judges were to read, interpret and, rule using the revealed law as delivered to Moses. The book of Deuteronomy consists primarily of the case law up to the time of Joshua.

The courts were to try cases, and anyone not willing to come under the ruling of the Judges was considered an outlaw, outside the protection of the law. The costs incurred in the judicial process were to be born by the individuals involved in the case.

Insomuch as anarcho-capitalism attempts to make the judicial a private function it may or may not be consistent with Christian thought.

Any other role of government beyond the judicial is wholly outside the scriptural mandate for the state.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just a Bad Dream

Some people really are scared of militant Muslims. They think that there are tens of millions of these enemies out there whose ultimate desire is world domination under Islam. They want to build giant walls around America, but with only a fraction of the military force behind those walls, with the rest parading about the world. They want to close off whatever trade they can and regulate the rest.

They are afraid.

But what has actually happened to these individuals personally to make them so frightful?

Many of them were in NY or DC on 9-11. Many more knew people killed or directly impacted by this event. Many have lost their jobs to outsorcing. Others have been underbid by immigrant workers.

These people have legitimate concerns. They are reasonable concerns.

But I think they are wrong to be afraid, and I think their reactions to those things which frighten them merely cause more problems.

Protectionism slows trade down, increasing the likelihood that jobs in export industries or in complemental industries will be hurt. And the United States are still net exporters.

Militarism attempts to impose artificial order and rule of law upon people who do not recognize the authority of force over them. The rules put in place are arbitrary and do not make sense. They are subject to change at the whim of the rulers. The people have no ability to plan for tomorrow or next year. Work and production grinds down. The people are slaves.

Finally, there are not that many militants out there. Of the insurgents in Iraq I'd have to say that most of them are just Freedom Fighters, spiteful of foreign occupation.

And there hasn't been a united Islamic entity in over a thousand years. There is no way such divided groups of people would ever allow one or the other of them to ascend anywhere near to world dominance.

I sympathize with the fearful as much as I do one of my daughters who wakes up with a nightmare, but I must assure you, it is not a real think which you are afraid of. It's just a dream.

Of Capitalism and Christianity

Unregenerate humans are self-interested. Capitalism attempts to channel this aspect of human nature most productively by offering compelling incentives for action.

Christians can overcome self-interest by responding to the call of Christ and obeying His commands.

The response to Christ does not guarantee positive social or personal outcomes! Rather, we are promised persecution and trials, in short the cross of Christ, for our decision.

The enemy of both systems is power, or the use of force. The use of force removes the restraint on self-interest which permits individuals from realizing mutual gains from exchange. The use of force likewise corrupts the message of the cross.

Christians ought to work first to eliminate force from their own habits. Second they should work to protect the victims of the use of force. Third they ought to work to restrain the use of force.

Only Christians are capable of acting out of conscious virtue in imitation of Christ in the renunciation of, protection from, and resistance of force unselfishly. In other words, most people can take care of themselves fine so long as they allowed to defend themselves and care for themselves out of self interest. But for the defenseless and incapable God has provided the Church as a means for overcoming this world.

Capitalism works up to a point, but it neglects the least of these. It does tend to raise the welfare of all participants albeit disproportionately. Christianity has as its unique mandate to care for those who are stuck outside of the Capitalist system.

See See You

I attended Colorado Christian University from Fall of '94 to Spring of '95. Just one year. Long enough to get drunk for the first time in my life, start and break off three romantic relationships, smell my first pot, and get my first full time job. Long enough to rack up a lot of student loans and to discover I didn't belong there.

I got into a fight with then University President over tuition increases of 13% and turned my back to him in protest in front of the entire student body.

Two Presidents later, we get this story, which is not too different from a scandal while I was there involving the dismissal of an ancient languages scholar for being too liberal. I was mad about that, too.

And, if my memory is right CCU is also home to our beloved K-Love. You know: positive, encouraging, sappy-enough-to-make-you-vomit K-Love. Where they play 20 different versions of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever..."

But the new issue here is interesting to me for different reasons.

I read Jim Wallis' book. I've heard of Singer. I read a lot of atheists and liberals who I disagree with, and plenty of Conservatives I disagree with. And I think I'm smart enough to come up with my own educated opinion about these things. And I think college students are smart enough, too.

Shall we protect our children until they are in the grave, or do we expose them to all the ideas of the real world and challenge them to synthesize what they read with what they observe for themselves?

Then again, if CCU wants to let a guy with just a Master's degree and only two years experience go, there should not be a big baruhaha about it.

Finally, there is the issue of capitalism through this incident. If the Prof wants to better reconcile Jesus' mandate with the effectiveness of capitalism he needs to consider renouncing the state, and discerning between the church and society.

Nathanael Snow

Youth hate church, too. Not just men.

Acton Institute is a liberty and Catholicism thinktank that welcomes all Christians into their discussion about Religion and Liberty.

Today they quote Bonhoeffer, "Do not try to make the church relevant."

Ouch. What do these guys make of that quote?

The point is that most young adults quit church by the time they are 25.


And what about the churches and Christian organizations on campus?

Maybe they all ought to read some Bonhoeffer. Especially Grace Church (whom I support) might want to read this book, which states
"Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace."

Russia's Putin-Youth

The NY Times does something like news reporting here, with a great video about the Nashi movement in Russia: Putin-Youth.

They make some good points, these youths. Russia's economy has improved, the standard of living is better.

But some scary ideas are involved also, especially the make-babies-for-Putin and Russia thinking.

Give teenagers a free camp, with lots of coeds, tell them to make babies, and hate America, and we get what is known by every state as mere good education.

How are American schools any different?