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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Debating Tragedy of the Commons With Daniel Grow

At 12:29 PM, October 08, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

No government created the atmosphere, and no government created my right to access the atmosphere. Ditto for all the other resources listed in the Free Earth Manifesto.

At 3:41 PM, October 08, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

1) There are about 6.5 billion humans on Earth outside the borders you would have America open. There are zero unicorns on either side of those borders.

2) When you impair my access to an unowned resource by monopolizing, depleting, polluting, or congesting it, you commit aggression against me and everybody else with similar access rights.

3) I repeat the premises of my original question: "if 1) people-smuggling is sufficiently dangerous to those smuggled and 2) the target nation is ultimately going to foil the migratory ambitions of most of the economic refugees who attempt migration". Asking you to recognize the current and foreseeable truth of these two premises is obviously not the same thing as asking you to endorse to policy regimes that make them true.

At 4:58 PM, October 08, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

1) Ah, if we're only talking about the border policy of your own personal property, then we're done talking. I wasn't aware that the Haitians David was talking about were trying to land on your own private beach as your guests. :-)

2) Perhaps you now are starting to grasp the point that my question was trying to make: different premises about rights in unowned resources can lead to different conclusions about rights to migrate, and the moral outrage of people like you and David smuggles in assumptions that not all of us agree with.

3) What I am challenging you to recognize is that America just isn't going to accept every Haitian economic refugee who wants to come here. You may not like it, you may call this "evil", but that doesn't make it any less true. __IF__ it is true, __THEN__ it may be good for the class of would-be economic refugees in aggregate that they realize that migration attempts aren't worth the risk. If you don't cancel lottery payouts, many people will keep buying tickets, even when the expected value of doing so is clearly negative.

It's silly -- no, grotesque -- to compare economic migration to Nazi efforts to liquidate 100% of the people in the Warsaw Ghetto. By Godwin's Law, you lose. Not only that, but your own deny-reality-no-matter-the-consequences logic backfires on you: why should you counsel the Jews or Haitians to flee, and thus "endorse the derivative consequences of the evil" that they wish to flee? Why do you get to dictate which extant evils we should factor into our moral calculations, and which other extant evils we must blithely ignore?

At 6:32 PM, October 08, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

I'm happy to let readers decide for themselves 

* whether you've answered my three questions and addressed the points they made,
* the nomological status of Godwin's Law and whether you ran afoul of it, and
* whether you've been selective here in what "evils" factor into your moral calculus.

At 2:58 PM, October 09, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

Again, readers can decide for themselves whether conditions in Haiti are comparable to a genocide that killed about 80% of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Readers can also assess the irony of your complaints about me not addressing your alleged points, given 1) your flat-out refusal to answer my first question, 2) your obliviousness to my point about how a natural commons impacts migration ethics, and 3) your flat-out refusal to either admit or deny the truth of the premises of my third question.

At 2:02 PM, October 13, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

Your "contrast" is a fallacy of the excluded middle.

Nothing you've posted here answers my empirical claim about the market's failure to regulate negative externalities.

Your entire argument falls apart at the word "akin" here: "efforts to punish 'micro-aggression' is akin to holding someone responsible for something for which he is simply not in fact responsible". Yes, a $1 fine is "akin" to a zero-dollar fine, but the aggregate consequences of the two approaches are not "akin" at all.

Pretending that aggregated micro-aggression is not a problem does not make it so. Wishing negative externalities didn't exist does not make it so.

I repeat: Saying micro-aggression should only be covered by civil torts is nothing less than saying that aggression is permitted if defending against it costs an individual more than the harm it causes her. That's not a very libertarian position.

At 3:57 PM, October 13, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

My argument is for a particular sort of government intervention, and that the result tends to be better than the alternative. My arguments do not imply that anything labeled a "government intervention" is justified, or that the government interventions I advocate yield perfect economic efficiency.

So yes, we've wandered into the anarchism vs. minarchism debates that Dan and I have enjoyed on the Libertarian Party platform committee. I see no need to rehash them here.

Rather, I'm curious if any anarchist or hardcore Austrian here can acknowledge that their moral outrage on this topic smuggles in assumptions that not all of us agree with. In other words, can anybody argue for Dr. Friedman's original moral outrage without invoking premises that imply anarchism?

At 1:00 PM, October 15, 2009, Blogger Brian Holtz said...

Dan, there's obviously no negative externality or tragedy of the commons in your "pollution of the food supply" example. You either have no idea what you're arguing against, or you you have no scruples against invoking analogies you know are irrelevant. I thought better of you.

It's the height of intellectual laziness -- or outright self-delusion -- to assume that all government justifications for its own existence are "lies" perpetrated by people who secretly know that government is unjustifiable. Dan, do you think I "lie" when I argue that government is necessary?

I don't see any particular "lie" lurking in the obvious answer to my third question: IF most are not going to get away with it, AND it's dangerous, then can't it be good for them to be discouraged from trying it?