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January 17, 2008

the dismal science

Steven E. Lansburg in yesterday's New York Times:

Even if you’ve just lost your job, there’s something fundamentally churlish about blaming the very phenomenon that’s elevated you above the subsistence level since the day you were born. If the world owes you compensation for enduring the downside of trade, what do you owe the world for enjoying the upside?

This gives me great ideas for other moral arguments! For example,

It is churlish for people to complain and whine when they're drowning. They were happy enough to drink water earlier in their lives. Their bodies are mostly made of water, for crying out loud.


Can you believe how people don't want to get shot? Don't they realize that our forefathers used bullets to shoot the Redcoats and win our freedom? Where would we be today without gun-related deaths?


Americans nowadays seem to want medicine whenever they get sick! Can you believe it? Don't they realize that without plagues and pestilence, Europeans would never have conquered the New World?

January 17, 2008 10:23 AM | category: none


Yes, my eyes also rolled when I read Lansburg's argument. He made a foolish argument that libertarians are famous for, one that is self-defeating.

If we followed his line of thinking why would we bother to better ourselves. Why not instead say to ourselves, why bother because we will probably end up in the same place we started.

The world has progressed and changed mosty for the better because people have complained about their lot in life and argued that things can be better. That is not the approach Lansburg seems to have taken. He instead is saying something like, don't rock the boat!

January 17, 2008 2:52 PM | Comments (2) | posted by airth10

People have expectation and often have good reason to have them. Many people, when they started working for a company, were promised a pension and medical coverage in retirement. Some companies have reneged on those promises.

According to Lansburg those people shouldn't complain and should remain quiet because as longer as they were working they got those things. He probably would say, well, that business and, anyway, you should be thankful that your alive.

Lansburg probably has tenure. I wonder how he would react if it was arbitrarily taken away from him?

January 17, 2008 3:14 PM | Comments (2) | posted by airth10

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