Saturday, March 10, 2012

Global Warming Deniers Are Right About One Thing

Naomi Klein attended a right wing conference put on by the Heartland Institute that strives to blunt the efforts of those interested in countering global warming. She wrote about it in a cover story for The Nation here. She notes that many in the audience and the speakers seem to think the global warming movement is a leftist conspiracy to undermine capitalism. She comments on that:
The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their “free market” belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.” Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, “Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.”

Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong. Before I go any further, let me be absolutely clear: as 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists attest, the Heartlanders are completely wrong about the science. The heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels are already causing temperatures to increase. If we are not on a radically different energy path by the end of this decade, we are in for a world of pain.

But when it comes to the real-world consequences of those scientific findings, specifically the kind of deep changes required not just to our energy consumption but to the underlying logic of our economic system, the crowd gathered at the Marriott Hotel may be in considerably less denial than a lot of professional environmentalists, the ones who paint a picture of global warming Armageddon, then assure us that we can avert catastrophe by buying “green” products and creating clever markets in pollution.

There's no conspiracy to impose Socialism on an unwilling population. But here's what is true. Capitalism is incapable of dealing with the crisis. So attempts to cope with global warming are a threat to Capitalism. In that the conspiracy theorists are correct.


HispanicPundit said...

Actually, I take the exact opposite view. I embrace global warming. I take the scientific consensus as a given.

But I use that as a rationale to argue for more capitalism. The argument is laid out in more detail here. The economics of the argument is solid. So is the environmentalism. I've won a couple of converts with it and it makes the most sense - takes academic consensus seriously.

Jon said...

The scientific consensus isn't just that global warming is occurring. It's that it is occurring and there is a substantial likelihood that it will generate serious consequences. So it must be mitigated.

Boudreaux says "Do nothing." Of course. That's all he can say. Because capitalism is incapable of doing anything.

Just entertain the hypothetical. Let's suppose the scientists were right. We'd better do something about it. What could Boudreaux possibly suggest that doesn't violate his dogmatic capitalistic commitments? Nothing. And so that's precisely what he suggests we do. Nothing.

Boudreaux is just another dam for the capitalist argument. First it's not happening. That's the first dam. We get over that and we hit the next dam. It's happening but man isn't responsible. OK, we've cleared that dam. We hit the final dam. It's happening, man is responsible. Do nothing. That's the only thing left to preserve a system that allows the rich to get rich without working and making others do all the work for them. We have to get over that hurdle to finally spare the possibly millions that will die in the endless pursuit of profits.

HispanicPundit said...

I agree with the scientific consensus, including the consequences (~3°C over next century).

But his argument is spot on. Makes perfect sense. More importantly, it's a legit response to the global warming the conclusion to your post is not accurate.

Jon said...

My conclusion is that the recommendation from right wingers must be "do nothing." That's the only card they can play, since doing something violates their ideology. So you provide an argument from a guy that says "do nothing" and you think this shows that my argument is wrong.

HispanicPundit said...

"Do nothing" is not the same as "Do more capitalism". That is my point. And my point is that "Do more capitalism" is an appropriate response to global warming. It is in fact an activist response.

It's, in other words, "doing something"...and the "something" is far more affective than any environmental alternative.

Jon said...

Laissez-Faire capitalism says yes, companies in pursuit of profits should be permitted to engage in persuasion techniques that rely on irrational tendencies humans are prone to. As in smoking propaganda the fossil fuel industry literally spends millions of dollars in their efforts to persuade people that there is nothing to be worried about. These things will work themselves out. What if that was wrong? What if ever expanding consumption and fossil fuel burning really had catastrophic consequences? What would you suggest we do in the face of an industry that encourages you to continue to pump out greenhouse gases because that means more profits for them?

Do more capitalism? Do more false marketing? More expanding consumption? More monies to think tanks that attempt to persuade us that nothing should be done other than letting things go on as before? You call that doing something?

HispanicPundit said...

Yes, generally. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but that's because of your lack of economic understanding. Remember, Simon won the Simon-Ehrlich bet for the same reason. Simon had the economics right.

Jon said...

but that's because of your lack of economic understanding

You be nice HP.

Having read Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" as well as many conservative thinkers I'm actually quite familiar with the issue of the drop in commodity prices.

The next phase of my education involved an understanding of the costs associated with transactions that are not reflected in the price. This is a step you have yet to take. There's nothing counter intuitive about it. It's just not something Laissez-Faire capitalists deal with. Why? Because they can't. I just listened to David Friedman talk about property rights with rivers and the difficulties associated with property rights as applied to the air. "Just bring class action lawsuits against mega corporations." How's that working out for Ecuador, Nigeria, etc with the concentrations of power that are placed with fossil fuel corporations? There's thousands of sterile men that worked in the banana groves getting sprayed with chemicals known to be dangerous in Nicaragua. They've been trying to get compensation via class action lawsuit, with no luck so far. But you can't undo the damage. These men who thought there was something wrong with them naturally, unable to raise families which are such a core part of their lives have had their lives shattered. Friedman just dismisses all these issues with a wave of the hand, offering solutions that we know don't work.

"Look at how cheap bananas are." Cheap because when we buy them we aren't actually paying the cost. The sterile men have paid, and they are not compensated for that payment.

Global warming is a cost that is not reflected in the price of the commodity. It's an externality. That's why Laissez-Faire capitalism is incapable of coping with it. The fact that commodity prices fell is irrelevant to the issue. Gas could fall to $1.00 per gallon. This would actually make things worse. Boudreaux exacerbates the problem by "doing more capitalism" rather than fixing it.

HispanicPundit said...

I have yet to see you attack his logic though. Except of course, claiming that its nothing.

But he laid out an argument.

HispanicPundit said...

Also, since Boudreaux was writing a word limited article, here is a longer more laid out argument. I ask this in all sincerity, since this is essentially the view I hold - more or less. Your critique?

Jon said...

I want to distinguish between the point I'm making here and a general argument about what we should do about global warming. My point here is merely that the conclusion from Broudeuax is institutionally required and reflexive. Might still be a good argument, but we know that's what he's going to say if he wants to adhere to Laissez-Faire capitalism.

Kind of like the excuses nations offer for invasions. From Hitler, to the US, to Stalin, to Japan in China and every other act of aggression the excuses put forward by the government are the same. We are in danger and are invading for our own safety. Should we evaluate that argument? Might be truthful. Might even be valid. But we expect them to say that based on the incentives. So I think dismissing it is a fair starting point.

Having said that I will take a look at your more lengthy argument since you are curious about my thoughts.

HispanicPundit said...

My point here is merely that the conclusion from Broudeuax is institutionally required and reflexive.

I agree. But the same can be said in the other direction: the lefts response will institutionally require an invasive government solution.

Both statements are true, but I dont see how they add or take away from the argument.

Jon said...

What institutional requirement leads the left to propose alternative energy use or conservation? Suppose the burning of fossil fuels had no environmental impacts. Why would I, as a leftist, feel compelled to restrict the burning of fossil fuel? I see no reason to believe you here.

HispanicPundit said...

Increase the size and power of government. It's as part of the left as decreasing it is as part of the right.

Jon said...

Do you consider Chomsky a leftist? He's an anarchist.

HispanicPundit said...

Chomsky is an anarchist in theory, leftist in practice. He is always deriding Republicans for cutting funding for this or that social program. Dude loves big government.

Jon said...

When I talk about institutional bias I mean the logic of your ideal framework leads to a certain conclusion. For Broudeaux the ideal economy is a Laissez-Faire economy. Let markets resolve pollution concerns. Proposing government is a violation of his worldview.

There's nothing about Chomsky's theoretical framework that requires big government. He obviously wants much smaller government, and anybody that's remotely familiar with his work knows that. He does support government intervention as a strategy to mitigate certain problems that result from market failures. In other words right now we live in a Capitalist society and we do have government intervention in our economy. We don't have a strong labor movement. We don't have workers councils or democratic control of industry. So as a temporary strategy for resolving some problems government is the only feasible option. What other option is there? It's a strategy. It's not born out of some over arching desire to have lots of government. That's just ridiculous.

HispanicPundit said...

Boudreaux might be more libertarian than conservative on this, I dont know. But conservatives more generally, like Sowell, even Milton Friedman, and I would say ALL conservative economists are okay with government when dealing with negative externalities - like pollution and environmental issues more generally.

So the same can be said of the right (specifically non anarchists). There is nothing fundamentally in their philosophy to not say, support a carbon tax. In fact, take Greg Mankiw, largely seen as a conservative economist (was even Georege W Bush's economic advisor). He is the founder of the Pigou Club. He is the carbon tax biggest advocate. Thomas Sowell has argued for governments role in environmental issues in his Basic Economics book as well.

Here I am again, having to remind you Jon, not to take populists on the right as representatives. I now its mentally easier to do this, it makes the right look worse when you take Rush Limbaugh and novice politicians as our representatives, but if you want to deal with the right truly - with the full force of the rights arguments, look at the thinkers and creators of ideas. The Paul Krugmans of the right, not the pundits. That's what I try to do when dealing with the left.

Jon said...

I'm reading David Friedman's book and replying to it. Where do you see me replying to Limbaugh? I know at this point it doesn't matter what I do. I can read Sowell (as I do) watch Friedman's FTC series, reply in detail to David Friedman's book, and none of that will stop you from saying the same thing over and over. I'm replying to Limbaugh. I don't read Limbaugh, don't listen to him. Don't address him when it comes to understanding right wing arguments. You'll say I do anyway.

Limbaugh is not a Laissez-Faire capitalist. He's not principled either. He's just a guy that advocates Republican policies regardless of whether his argument on day 1 contradicts his argument on day 2. So he has no problem with government intervention either. He advocates it all the time. He could easily turn around and say we should have government intervention on global warming, though he probably doesn't for purely pandering reasons. For me to reply to Limbaugh would be pointless. He's a mouthpiece of Republicans/Corporations. My argument has nothing to do with Limbaugh. It has to do with the difficulty for a principled advocate of Laissez-Faire Capitalism. This is not what Limbaugh is.

You seem to agree as you talk about how people on the right will look for government intervention in this case. Exactly. That's my point. You can't be a Laissez-Faire capitalist and address global warming, so insofar as someone attempts to adhere to their Laissez-Faire dogmatic commitments they will not be able to see the science even if the science was right. Solving global warming is not small scale government intervention. It's large scale. And this is contrary to the dogmatic commitments of a lot of right wingers. If you are not in that boat, then great, but a lot of people are.

Paul said...

HP -

Increase the size and power of government. It's as part of the left as decreasing it is as part of the right.

So that I don't misunderstand you, are you saying that a principle of the left is to increase the size of government?

Increasing the size of gov't may be a *means* to an *end*. Whether one agrees with it or not - it is not the *ends* as your statement implies. I will concede to you however that for the right, small government is the ends and not the means.

HispanicPundit said...


Two final points.

1. I disagree that laissez-faire economics is incompatible with a government role in the environment. It's part of Thomas Sowell's response. Milton Friedmans response, and most serious laissez-faire economics (but of course you know this, since you read many of these authors...;-).

Of course, you think this is a contradiction (not a surprise). But it's not. Laissez-faire is NOT equal to anarchy. It is not equal to "never a role for government". Laissez-faire is restricting government intervention to areas where it does have a purpose. This is one of them.

2. With that said, there is an argument to be made that even leftists can appreciate: My argument above, that the best response to global warming is to make economies more dynamic, quicker to respond to disasters, and lift standard of livings to where disasters have less impact (compare earthquake in USA vs one in Haiti).

That is exactly what laissez-faire does. And that IS a response to global warming.

You disagree? Fine. As I requested above, dig deep into the argument and respond. You have yet to do so. But merely saying it's wrong is no argument.


The same can be said of the right. Small government is a means, not an end. The end for the right is stronger economic growth. Higher standard of living.

Of course, you tend to get that by less government, so righties tend to be strong supporters of less government. But the ends is the economic growth and standard of living (if, for example, you really did prove to me that a larger governments role in something would lead to higher economic growth, etc, I would support it!).

The lefts goal is to reduce inequality. You can't do that without more government.

So yes, we both have different ends that don't necessarily relate to government, but the means - size of government - are closely tied to those ends. Indeed, I would argue that the lefts means - bigger government - is more closely tied to its ends (lower inequality) than on the right.

To put it differently, the left would naturally be more dogmatic about big government than the right would be about small government.

Jon said...

Here's the definition of laissez-faire from Wikipedia. Other sources are pretty much identical:

In economics, laissez-faire (English pronunciation: /ˌlɛseɪˈfɛər/ ( listen), French: [lɛsefɛʁ] ( listen)) is an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means "let do", but it broadly implies "let it be", or "leave it alone." A laissez-faire state and completely free market has never existed.

So yeah, for me it's a contradiction to say we should have the government impose costs and regulations associated with greenhouse gas emissions and say that this is laissez-faire because that's just not what the phrase means.

You support government intervention and so do I, so again our disagreement is definitional, not substantive.

HispanicPundit said...

Well, then, nobody is laissez-faire. Certainly not Thomas Sowell, or Milton Friedman, or any mainstream economists.

In other words, when you argue against "laissez-faire", you are arguing against ghosts...and extreme libertarians.

Jon said...

I'm reading, based on your recommendation, David Friedman. You saw that he posted a link to a talk he had given on global warming. I've watched some of it, but I'm not done yet. Guess what the message is? Global warming sounds pretty good. We should do nothing. That is a Laissez-Faire solution. David Friedman is really a Laissez-Faire capitalist.

Can I offer you some side advice, just as a friend? You're a smart guy. I love your critiques here, which make me think. I love the many sources you offer, which allow me to explore and learn. But here's a little lesson I learned from my Mom. Seriously I remember this very specifically because my Mom lead our school's "Bible Club" and of course I had to go. Not that I minded. I liked it and I didn't care that the other kids scoffed, which they did. This was in the 7th or 8th grade. Anyway, here's what my Mom said one day. She said that when she was in school she got a great score on a test and the results were posted on a door. People crowded around the door and many of the people loudly described how awesome their own scores were. But my Mom didn't. She just kept quiet and eventually someone noticed. "Wow, look at how well Ann did." She said it was much more satisfying to be recognized like that as opposed to announcing her own intelligence.

When you say "Your understanding is very superficial, relying on Limbaugh or novice politicians" or "This is how economists use terms. This is Econ 101." you say to everyone "I have a very high view of myself. Look at how intelligent I am." Well, you are intelligent and you should have a high view of yourself. But then if you say something that makes it appear you are unaware of something it's easy for someone like me to seize on that and try and take you down a peg. "HP doesn't know what Laissez-Faire means. How dare he claim to teach Econ 101 to me."

If instead you just explained how my understanding was misguided or said something like "This is the impression I get of the meaning of this term based on what I've read" then you communicate what you intend without saying "I'm much smarter than you."

Maybe you did know what Laissez-Faire means, but given the fact that you portray yourself as so intelligent maybe I'm prone to read what you write with a critical eye and not give you the benefit of the doubt.

I know I've done the same. You say I write with a tone that says everone else is stupid and I know it all. I honestly take that to heart. I actually frequently write a reply, then I read what I've written and can see that I'm doing exactly what you say I've done, and I re-write. Actually I discarded the initial reply I wrote to your post here. So I have this problem too. I appreciate your feedback, so I'm giving some to you also. Hopefully you find it helpful.

In any case I'm glad to have you back here at my blog because you were gone for a while because of the tone issues. Do you notice that I'm trying to do a better job so as to not chase you off? We'll see how long I can keep this up. It seriously requires discipline.

HispanicPundit said...

I hear you man. I dont mean to come across that way either. Btw, I honestly dont think I am all that great at economics. Decent sure, good sometimes...but still have alot to learn. Dont mean to come across as a snobbish dude. Let me back up a bit...

First, on the "right" - you have to understand that there are variants of us. David Friedman is an EXTREME libertarian. He is, probably rightly so, regarded as the intellectual head of the anarcho-capitalists movement. Anarcho capitalists are basically anarchists that truly believe what they preach. They want a world without government and believe every marginal reduction in the power of government is a good thing.

They are extreme. Not taken too seriously in academia. They are the fringe. Probably more accepted than socialists and communists, but not by much. They are to be distinguished from serious righties. People like Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Scott Sumners, Martin Feldstein, Greg Mankiw, these are basically right-wing economists who have real say. They have a strong footing in academic published articles. They have, in short, a basis for waht they believe.

They are, in essence, the Paul Krugmans of the right (though most are not as smart). They may have interests and morals that make them prioritize things differently - but they all have foundations in data centered arguments. Less theoretical and more practical.

I wouldn't classify them in the same group as David Friedman or Rush Limbaugh. I believe that most of your arguments deal with either the pundits of the right (Rush Limbaughs, etc) or the extremists (David Friedmans). They hardly ever tackle where the real thought is at: the intellectual academic powerhouses like Milton Friedman.

HispanicPundit said...

Lets take a current example. On the issue of the economy. I've already told you that my views are similar to Scott Sumners here. His views are fairly consistent with academic righties. David Frum would probably agree. They are also directly at odds with Krugman. I've recommended his blog, sent you various links...but you typically address the pundits arguments instead. In fact, I have yet to see you address his arguments in any meaningful way. Only the pundits get the attention.

I feel like you try to avoid the heart of what makes the right attractive. With global warming it's either  (exaggerating a bit, but the gist is accurate): "the compassionate sincere environmentalists" vs "the fundamentalists corporate driven economists". I've tried to get you to respond to serious right-wing attempts at answering the global warming issue ... but nothing. It gets ignored. Instead it's more of the "You have to be against doing anything". Even when I have told you that serious right wing economists have a role for the government on environmental issues. It fits just fine into their economic paradigm....provided they actually believed it would make things better.

HispanicPundit said...

It's like you WANT the right to be either extreme, or void of academic, fact based support - and ignore anything to the contrary. If that's your definition of the right, then I oppose them too!

Regarding definitions: well, there are two ways to use terms. The dictionary textbook case is not the only one (just ask Chomsky). The real method is how the terms are used. And just by reading your blog, you too tend to switch. You define Laissez-faire one way but then refer to Milton Friedman's Chicago school as "Laissez-faire". Which is it? Are you really arguing that Milton Friedman was against, say, a consumption tax? Or an income tax?  And if so, how is that laissez-faire?

Laissez-faire to me is actually somewhat near the definition you propose, except I would amend it slightly:

In economics, laissez-faire is an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies - except for, in such cases as needed to support the fundamental role of government, which is to protect its citizens from harm, enforce the rule of law, enforce property rights, mediate disputes, enforce contracts, and of course, mitigate market failures dealing with negative externalities. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means "let do", but it broadly implies "let it be", or "leave it alone." A laissez-faire state and completely free market has never existed.

In other words, I support taxes and such in a way needed to support the fundamental role of government. Nothing more. Redistributing wealth, is of course, not a fundamental role of government, so no support there.

This is the way I think most people use the term, regardless of what the Wiki post says. But of course, like I see with you regularly, instead of dealing with that real, academic supported definition - instead its more of the extreme views that are only considered.

Again, maybe I'm reading you wrong...but that is how you come across.

Jon said...

They are extreme. Not taken too seriously in academia.

I'm reading David Friedman because of your recommendation.

They hardly ever tackle where the real thought is at: the intellectual academic powerhouses like Milton Friedman.

Search my blog for Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. I address them all the time.

I've recommended his blog, sent you various links...but you typically address the pundits arguments instead.

I'm reading a book you recommend. Addressing arguments from Sowell, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman. Yeah, I haven't spent a lot of time on Mankiw and Sumner. But let me ask a question of you. It's true I greatly admire Chomsky. If you were to point to one person that has influenced me the most it's him. You point that out all the time. Have you ever, even once, responded directly to an argument from Chomsky? Like "This is Chomsky's argument" and then "This is why it's wrong." If you have I don't recall. And I'm not talking about linking to a guy like Paul Bogdanor who you don't even bother reading (I replied anyway) or Brad DeLong (who I likewise read and replied to anyway). You taking the time to read or listen to him and replying in detail that he's wrong, like I do constantly with the people you recommend to me? Where have you done that? I don't recall even once. So how can you tell me that I don't address the intellects but instead only address pundits?

On global warming, I've addressed Williams and Sowell. I've addressed Broudeaux, David Friedman. OK, you've got another one now. Not that I'm unfamiliar with the argument. I read Bjorn Lomborg. Fair enough, I haven't replied yet. I read what you sent, but I thought it just kind of petered out. We can talk about it. But this charge of yours that I don't address the intellects is just unfair, especially since you really don't address the people I recommend.

You say Laissez-Faire includes government intervention dealing with externalities. Here's a video of Milton Friedman addressing the pollution externality. Guess what his advice is? If the market can't address it what makes you think the government can do a better job? Government intervention is not the answer.

Ignore the title of the clip, which makes no sense.

Jon said...

By the way, I haven't forgotten that you read "Failed States" and reviewed it, but in that review your criticisms were all very vague. Chomsky doesn't "contextualize" or "have a multifaceted understanding" kind of thing. Not "here's what Chomsky said" followed by a quotation, then "here's why it is wrong". I make a solid effort to do it that way if I'm talking about someone in particular because I think when you don't do that you look like the argument is something that's just happening in your own head, not with a real world person. Look at my responses to Friedman. I start with a quote, then argue against it. You never quoted Chomsky.

HispanicPundit said...

A few responses:

1. I recommended David Friedman for specific issues you raise. You care about the philosophical underpinnings of property rights, or the basis for anarchy...he is definitely a good person to read.

But again, I am less interested in philosophy than what works. But if philosophy is what you want, he would be the person to go to.

2. Regarding Chomsky, here is an example.

3. Regarding governments role in negative externalities, again, I am not arguing that academic type right-wingers will always advocate for government intervention...I am arguing that they CAN if they saw it would make things better. It's a subtle distinction...which your Friedman link completely misses.

4. You failed to respond directly to my question, so I will ask it again: would you consider Milton Friedman Laissez-faire, considering that he supported a consumption tax or income tax?

Jon said...

Take a look at your response to Chomsky. Here's his point. The cause of the recent economic downturn was the financial sector (generally regarded as true). A propaganda effort is underway to shift the responsibility to public sector unions, like teachers (obviously true). Unless you are saying that teacher's unions are responsible for the financial collapse you are not replying to him, but instead simply saying that general objections to teachers unions have merit. You aren't saying he's wrong. You're saying he didn't address a different topic. I'm replying directly to the arguments made by the right and saying they are wrong. You obviously don't make as much effort to reply and rebut your critics as I do, so why are you so critical of me for not doing it enough?

I am not arguing that academic type right-wingers will always advocate for government intervention...I am arguing that they CAN if they saw it would make things better.

OK, so let's look at your definition of Laissez-Faire. It included this:

and of course, mitigate market failures dealing with negative externalities.

So here's what Friedman calls a market failure due to a negative externality. Pollution from coal fire plants. The left says let's bring in the government to mitigate this market failure. Friedman says no. So who's the Laissez-Faire capitalist? The left? I can understand that Friedman is not an anarchist and sees a role for government, but I just think as a definition of Laissez-Faire this is unusual. Does anyone else define Laissez-Faire in that way?

Is Friedman a Laissez-Faire capitalist? As I use the word he is. He's not saying there should be no government. He wants a judicial system, enforcement of property rights, national defense. You need taxes to fund that system, so he supports that. He supported Cold War policies, so intervention in the affairs of other nations for the purpose of our defense. But if you and I are engaging in an exchange that should be free from state intervention, whether by regulation, tariff protection, whatever, he wants the government out. That's generally understood to be Laissez-Faire.

But keep in mind that words are just conventions. The key here is that we both understand what we mean when we use a word. If we want to use a word in a non-standard way that's fine as long as we both understand what is being said. I think our disagreements often come down to a misunderstanding like this.

HispanicPundit said...

Here is your definition of Laissez-faire:

an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies.

Maybe I took too many ESL classes in high school, but reading YOUR definition of laissez-faire, that would make income taxes and consumption taxes violations!

Now granted, Friedman certainly agrees with MY definition of laissez-faire. But that wasn't the charge. The charge was your definition.

So let me ask again, does Friedman disagree with YOUR definition of laissez-faire? And if not, WHY?

Jon said...

It's not my definition. I don't just contrive a definition out of thin air. My definition is copy paste from Wikipedia. And I think it's pretty standard.

Milton Friedman regarded himself as a Laissez-Faire capitalist. What that meant to him was not necessarily that no deviation from the Laissez-Faire ideal was permissible, but that he preferred much more hands off than the reigning orthodoxy of the day (Keynsianism). To me that's perfectly sensible. The application of the term can be relative and doesn't require and adherent to perfectly conform to the ideal.

Laissez-Faire is not defined as a system that invokes government for market failures due to negative externalities. Find me a definition anywhere (not contrived) that defines it in this way. That's just making it up as you go along.

But let's get back to the main point here. Capitalism itself has an inherent bias towards the kind of consumption that makes it almost impossible from a practical standpoint to address global warming, assuming it was a problem that needs addressing. To see why read the Klein article.

HispanicPundit said...

But YOU called Friedman other words, you are using the term.

Clearly from the definition YOU quoted, Friedman is NOT a laissez-faire economist.

In fact, I would say Friedman is exactly the type of economist I define as laissez-faire - which is the more common form of laissez-faire definition.