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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Declassify the Russiagate Papers!

Here's something constructive Trump could do before leaving office at noon on January 20: he could order -- demand, insist --- that all classified intel and other documents related to the origin of the Russia/election investigation be declassified and released to the public forthwith -- unredacted. From what has already gotten out, we know that Russiagate was not a good-faith probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, much less outright collusion with the Trump campaign. All the evidence that has actually been obtained tells the story of a partisan and otherwise self-interested campaign to undercut or constrain an elected president who upset the foreign-policy establishment (although I can't can't fathom why), if not drive him from office altogether.

For example, only this year we learned that in 2017 the company that originally and allegedly confirmed that "the Russians" hacked the DNC server and leaked unflattering emails about the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks actually did not know that that was the case. As Ray McGovern wrote recently that

exactly five months ago, on May 7, 2020, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff was forced to release sworn testimony by former FBI official Shawn Henry, head of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, that there is no technical evidence [emphasis added] that the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks were hacked — by Russia, or by anyone else.

Adding insult to injury, Schiff was able to hide Henry’s testimony from Dec. 5, 2017, until May 7, 2020.

Why did Schiff and the former intel officials, some of whom now have lucrative TV commentator gigs, lead the American people all those years to believe that Russia hacked the server, which the FBI never even took possession of or examined? The answer won't suggest good faith, I suspect.

Trump's out. (I'm not sorry about that.) He could now do something decent and leave the stage after exposing those who, to protect their political and financial status, insanely played with fire by aggravating Russian-American relations.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Why We Need a Fully Free Marketplace of Ideas


No true seeker of truth can oppose the fully free marketplace of ideas. For details of the hardheaded practical case, you can do no better than to consult chapter 2 of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. If you can't spare the time to read this short chapter and book, here's the money quote: "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that."

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Our Foolish Politicized Era

It's ridiculous to think you can divine people's politics merely from their views on the pandemic or any given policy response to it. Similarly, it's absurd to rebut a view by referring to the holder's politics.

Monday, October 26, 2020

How to Panic the Public

  1. Disseminate worst-case scenarios, taking care to ignore the dubious assumptions that go into modeling while vilifying anyone, no matter how well-qualified, who refuses to ignore them.
  2. Emphasize the (alleged) benefits of a draconian government response, taking care to ignore the costs while vilifying anyone, no matter how well-qualified, who refuses to ignore them.
  3. Repeat as necessary, preferably often.

An Economy Cannot Be Crippled

Lockdown doesn’t cripple “the economy.” It cripples people who are trying to live. Strictly speaking, there’s no economy. There are people interacting in particular ways regularly.

What the Love of Power Trumps

How interesting that the people most worried about Trump’s authoritarian personality demand draconian government responses to the pandemic. Love of power must trump fear of Trump.

Friday, October 09, 2020

TGIF: Is Socialism Good in Theory?

This is an expanded version of something I wrote for The Freeman, October 2003, during my tenure as the editor.

Socialism has been mortally discredited on economic grounds, thanks to Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and history. But for many people it has not been discredited on moral grounds. You can tell this by how often people say that while socialism doesn’t work in practice, it is good, even beautiful, in theory. (Even Thomas Sowell has said that.)

Strange notion—that a theory which doesn’t work in the world can somehow still be good. Where else is it to be judged? William Graham Sumner, I believe, pointed out the contradiction: there must be a good theory that explains the system that does work in practice, but that theory would conflict with the other theory also held to be good. So we end up with two good but conflicting theories. Something is wrong.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Appearance on Agoric Cafe

The first of my two appearances on Roderick Long's Agoric Cafe is now posted. We discuss a variety of issues. Part two will be posted next Sunday.