Wednesday Blognado: Talk is cheap, except when it’s very expensive

When I was drawing up topics for blognado I item on my list was political speech and campaign finance, so when I saw that Elias and Dan post, I decided it was fate, or whatever equivalent we soulless materialists believe in. I’ll start by talking about what I think is wrong with some of the common left-wing criticisms of the level of political contributions permitted by the Citizens…

Tuesday Blognado: The taxing question of … tax

Day 2 of Blognado is upon us (or upon me anyway, I’m never sure where your day boundaries are relative to mine), so to keep people interested I thought I’d discuss something light and easily relocatable like the intricacies of tax policy. Now I’ve done one post on taxes before, but that post wasn’t about tax policy per se.  As far as I’m concerned “how…

The Burden of Proof

In the recent thread on Huntsman , BlaiseP, Tom van Dyke and I ended up in a bit of a digression of atheism and the burden of proof which I thought was worth teasing out, but not on that thread.  The part of the exchange I want to focus on was between Tom and I…

A Third Kind of Green Libertarians Should Care About

The environment is a tricky issue for libertarianism, in many ways environmental issues are “ideologically inconvenient” for libertarians – life would be easier if they didn’t exist.  Of course that’s not sufficient reason to actually act as if they didn’t exist, something I don’t think enough libertarians are willing to recognise. So given that the…

Season’s Greetings – Government Style

I wonder if I might crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation which has, over the years, become more or less established practice in government service as we approach the terminal period of the year — calendar, of course, not financial — in fact, not to put too…

A kiwi looks at the US top 1%

The ever-interesting Matt Nolan looks at the income of the Us top 1% and suggests some of the change may have been income reporting after tax changes in 1986.  Perhaps Reagan was to blame for increase income inequality, though not quite in the way that is commonly meant.

Health is the War of the State

Healthcare is a political football in every Western country to some extent.  In countries with extensive government healthcare the debate is about what the government should pay for, in the US it’s about whether the government should provide broad services at all.  Cost is a constant source of frustration everywhere and despite the significant differences…

The Madness of Crowds

The topic of democracy has been batted around by several of us over the past couple of weeks, and with the “Occupy ____” movement building momentum (There was even an “Occupy Auckland” protest here in New Zealand today, with more protests planned), it seems that the popular politics is going to have a higher profile…

Vox populi, vox dei

I’ve been thinking over Erik’s post about libertarians and democracy, and I’ve been taking the opportunity to think over my own attitudes toward democracy, and how compatible with libertarianism I think democracy is. First off there’s a question of democracy per se i.e. should society be governed by popular sentiment either directly or through representatives? …

The Antipodean Political Style

A little taste of how politics can differ between the US and New Zealand. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand was visiting Canterbury University in earthquake-stricken Christchurch.  He sees a sign posted up by a bunch of students “John mate, come for a yarn with your country’s future engineers”.  So he does. So the…

Darwin and Smith

If you have a spare hour I strongly recommend listening to the latest episode of Econtalk.  Russ Roberts interviews Robert Frank, and they talk about markets – how they go right, how they go wrong, and what (if anything) should be done about it.  If you like the idea of two people who know what…

Terrorism and the Mind-Killer

I didn’t find out about 9/11 until many hours after it happened.  The first plane struck just after midnight New Zealand Standard Time, so I didn’t find out until I woke up Wednesday morning.  I am not given to a great deal of emotion, but 3000 dead people (and the initial estimates were almost double…

Taxation and Skin

I’ve been pondering Erik’s and Elias’s posts on taxation and spending, and I think both of them touched on an important point about fiscal responsibility. Erik’s point (following on from Radley Balko’s article) about having skin in the game is an important factor in how people react to government spending.  If the cost of the…

Austerity and Stimulus

Since my last post, the debt limit has been raised, and all is well with the world, for now anyway.  But the debt limit itself was never the real issue, it was just a short-run artificial crisis – the real problem lurks in the distance over the next 20-30 years. So now the urgent is…

Debt and the ticking clock

I have been watching the progress (what little there is) on the debt ceiling, and I have to say I’m feeling a little apprehensive. There is now less than a week before the US government hits its hard limit on borrowing, and I know it can take a government a little while to run through…

Neoliberalism and the Left

I don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to talk about something other than the Norway incident (aside from a little spleen-venting earlier, all I can say about that is killing innocent people is wrong, and people who do it should be condemned, and there’s no way even someone as verbose as I am…

Libertarianism and Privilege

Well, the last few days have certainly be interesting around here, haven’t they? After Erik’s excellent and widely-commented-on post a couple of days ago, I’ve stewed over Freddie’s article, Erik’s reply and the replies to Erik’s reply in the comments. First, to the substance of Freddie’s post – I agree with Erik.  You can, without…

Experimentation and Policy

I spent the past three days at the New Zealand Association of Economists annual conference where I got to hobnob with my fellow practitioners of the Dismal Science.  I attended a number of interesting sessions, though since I’m an economist I have an eccentric definition of “interesting”. One session I think you guys would be…

Competition and Inequality

In my last post, Labour and the American Middle Class, I expressed my scepticism of the ability of unions to improve the incomes of the disadvantaged.  However, this still leaves the question of how the government can help those in need, apart from welfare. For me, there are two major paths that will help –…

Labour and the American Middle Class

I’ve been pondering Erik’s post on the difference between pity-charity liberalism and bottom-up liberalism, and I think he’s hit upon a key distinction between traditional liberals and liberaltarianism, and it’s a difference that will need to be resolved if the liberaltarian project is to succeed. The distinction is how to support average incomes: by letting…

Parliaments and Republics

In my introductory post I stated that one of the things I thought I could bring to The League was an outsider’s perspective to American debates.  Since the relative merits of parliamentary democracy vs. a US-style Republic crops up from time to time (especially when the Senate is being particularly glacial), I thought I’d give…

Somalia and Binary Thinking

There is a refrain that one comes across from time to time when debating the merits of libertarianism that, in crude terms, goes something like this: What you libertarians don’t understand is that we need a government to provide essential services like roads and courts.  There’s no way you can privatise these services, so you…

Introductions and Disclaimers

Hello everyone, I’m James K and most of you will know me as a frequent commenter here.  I’ve been asked by Erik to have a go as a full contributor at The League. First of all, thanks to Erik and the rest of the Ordinary Gentlemen for this opportunity.  I’ll try to be interesting. But…