12 March 2011
I've been doing this for over six years now, and some of the first things I posted I'd written up to a year previously. I want to recap over the major propositions that define what a newcomer would find.
Most people would be better off in a society with minimal government as advocated by the libertarian movement. However, this is against the interests of politicians who need to use patronage to defeat their rivals, and therefore is not achievable under democracy or under any other political system.
Politics is not inevitable, however. If rule is in the hands of one unchallenged individual, he would be in the position of owner of the realm, and would act to maximise the long-term value of his asset. In the process, he would provide better government than any modern state. It is politics itself that is the problem.
Back in Democracy, for those not being directly promised bribes by one candidate or another, the amount of predictable improvement in policy by electing one candidate rather than another is often outweighed by the difference in entertainment value between the candidates, as estimated using the market prices of entertainment. Democratic politics can therefore be seen as a small section of the (huge) entertainment industry. That is not to say that government is insignificant, just that the changes that can be made to government by democratic politics are.
My views on this have been dramatically affected by Mencius Moldbug, of the blog Unqualified Reservations.
The Climate Change debate is about politics, not science. The question is whether the small chance that disastrous change will happen but can be averted by a concerted global programme of austerity justifies the costs of such a programme. The dangers are exaggerated by those who support austerity or transnational government or both. The dangers are minimised by those who support prosperity or small-scale government or both.
The political significance of climate science means that scientists on both sides feel justified in employing levels of dishonesty that they would never contemplate in ordinary scientific disputes. While this dishonesty is very minor in the context of politics, it is destructive of the scientific process, which requires exceptional levels of honesty to function properly.
My impression is that the so-called consensus towards Global Warming is a house of cards built on flimsy speculations, and sustained by special-interest funding and by political animosity towards critics. That conclusion is suspiciously convenient for the political views I held at the time I first reached it, but has in fact outlived the political convictions that one might have suspected of motivating it.
I think the arguments used to advocate the Iraq War were legitimate, but that the costs of the war, both to the OIF alliance and to everybody else, outweighed the benefits and it was therefore a mistake. There were people who correctly anticipated this, but I wasn't one of them; I was a "don't know".
The major competing political forces in the world are the EU's corporatist totalitarianism and the USA's residual individualism. No other world power or ideology - including Russia, China and radical Islamism - comes close to challenging either of them.
Many foreign countries are crap places to live, but I don't think there is any strategy for improving them by military action that will have overall beneficial results, although it might get lucky now and again. I think it is more beneficial to respect the sovereignty of other countries' governments, even where they are very nasty.
Copyright exists to correct a market failure: that the creation of new valuable information benefits anyone who obtains a copy, but the costs are concentrated on the creator. Like all interventions to correct market failures, there are dangers, including capture of the regulatory structure by concentrated producer interests, which has clearly been demonstrated by retroactive extension of copyright terms. Also, as with other such interventions, it is not obvious that the market cannot find its own solutions to internalise the externality, nor is it obvious that the costs of regulation and the deadweight losses do not outweigh the benefits of the correction. Getting rid of copyright might be an overall benefit, although it would be dangerous. The evidence is overwhelming that reducing the scope of copyright would be beneficial, and that regulation aimed at suppressing technologies that are used to evade copyright enforcement is very harmful.
Free Software is cool. The overhead of protecting copyright in software is very damaging to the efficiency of the software production process and to the quality of the product.
his post will remain as a kind of "index" to the blog, and I update it if my positions change. For comparison, an older version is here