Saturday, August 28, 2004

Lying in International Politics

I argue that there are four basic kinds: 1) inter-state lying, 2) fear-mongering, 3) nationalist myth-making, and 4) antirealist lying. Each type is designed to serve a different purpose, although a single lie can serve multiple purposes. I will describe each kind of lying and then lay out the strategic logic underpinning it, as well as when it is more or less likely to occur. In other words, I am going to explain why and when you get each of the four different kinds of international lying.

More here.

UPDATE: This is a good paper; I can't help but quote another chunk...

there is real potential for blowback with fear-mongering. This kind of lying is based on a certain amount of contempt for the public and for democratic processes. Elites, according to the logic, cannot trust the wider public to support the correct foreign policy if it is given a straightforward assessment of the threat environment. Therefore, it is necessary to inflate the threat, which often involves deploying lies about the adversary.

The problem here is that the elite’s contempt for the public is likely to spill over into the domestic realm as well. Once a state’s leaders conclude that the people do not understand important foreign policy issues and thus need to be manipulated, it is not much of a leap to employ the same line of thinking to domestic issues.
There is no doubt that there may be circumstances where the public is out to lunch and the elites have no choice but to fear-monger. However, it is also possible -- maybe even likely -- that the public is reasonably intelligent and responsible, and that the reason the elites are having difficulty making their case in the face of public doubts is that they are pushing a wrongheaded policy. If they had sound arguments, they would be able to defend them in the marketplace of ideas and not have to deceive the public. In such circumstances, the government’s policy is likely to have bad consequences.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

1000 US war dead

The Iraq War Casualty Calendar has just been updated; we're up to 992 american soldiers killed so far. It will probably pass the 1000 mark sometime during the Republican Convention.

While we're on the topic, can anybody answer Perry Metzger's question: what is it with libertarians and war? Specifically, why did and do a fair number of otherwise intelligent-seeming libertarians favor the war in Iraq? Perry is stumped; I am too.

Do-not-fly list passengers complain

The FBI has a secret do-not-fly list; if your name is on it you will have terrible difficulty getting on a plane. Many common names are on the list, and there's no way to get off it once your name is on. Here's a collection of passenger complaints. If somebody with a similar name to yours gets on that list, about the only thing you can do is legally change your name to something else. Otherwise you never know when or if you'll be allowed to board a plane.

Even if your name is "Ted Kennedy".

[Links by way of Jeffrey Tucker's excellent essay The Violence of Conservatism]

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"Gypsy Cabs Prompt Rate Hike"

That was the top headline of today's San Mateo Daily News, a local paper. I had to read the article, and sure enough it was just what the headline implied.
The Burlingame City Council last night approved a plan to increase per-mile taxi fees by more than 56 percent after local cab drivers blamed cypsy taxis in the city for stealing their business. "Gypsy taxi cabs are running around Burlingame giving the rest of us a bad name," said Thomas Baldwin, a Yellow Allied Cab manager, and spokesman on behalf of a half-dozen companies who lobbied for the increase.

The new rates mean customers will pay some of the highest prices around to be chaperoned.

So let me get this straight: Regulated cabs are having a hard time making money because unregulated cabs that can charge whatever the market will bear are getting all the business, and so the solution is to raise the regulated rates?

I'm sensing a tiny little problem here...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Sell the State!

Roderick Long's recent 40 minute talk (mp3) systematically answers all the usual objections to market anarchy. I've been convinced anarchocapitalism is the way to go for years, ever since I read MoF; the tricky part today is no longer justifying it as a desirable state of affairs so much as figuring out how to get there from here. Anyone for seasteading?

UPDATE: Long's talk has been transcribed to HTML. Highly recommended reading!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Government makes us childish

Here's a good essay about that.
Consider the response of a New Jersey woman to my suggestion that New Jersey’s prohibition on self-service gasoline stations be lifted. "Oh, no!" cried the woman, "that would be disastrous! People here don’t know how to pump their own gasoline. They’d spill it all over the place!"

Apple's real product cycle

This guy has it spot on.

I wonder if it's time to buy the latest revision of the iPod...

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Preparing for emergencies

Are you prepared for any emergency? Fire? Bombing? Zombie attack? I thought not. The UK government is here to help!
  • Reduce fire hazards in your home. Children are the worst fire hazards; consider giving them up for adoption.
  • Fit and maintain smoke alarms - at least one on every floor. But if they go off every time you cook bacon, like ours do, just take the batteries out.
  • Most fire deaths and injuries occur while people are sleeping. Plan an escape route should a fire break out at night. Here's a hint: throw your children out of the window FIRST, then follow.
Bonus link: Here are the latest instructions for entering the US.