On Gary’s goofs, smugglers solve alleged public good problem, FDA-caused massive deaths, and reparations from descendants of slave owners.
These are some of the most interesting things I found on the web this morning.
1. Robert Murphy on Gary Johnson’s incoherent answers to some questions. Bob’s bottom line:
Johnson fires from the hip on his personal feelings about a situation, someone points out that this position is neither libertarian nor coherent, and then Johnson refines the original statement with an arbitrary exception that neuters that one specific objection.
2. Smugglers repair roads to help their smuggling.
Gangs smuggling goods into Russia have secretly repaired a road on the Belarussian border in order to boost business, the TASS news agency reported Monday.
HT to Scott Alexander and Jason Kuznicki.
3. FDA’s anti-vaping regs will cause a minimum of 9360 deaths.
So let’s do this. A 1.9 QALE (from here ) loss from smoking, 8.3 million vapers in the U.S, 95% risk difference between vaping and smoking, and let’s say 1 in 20 vapers goes back to smoking (this is an underestimate since it just focuses on the existing vaping population instead of those who might switch from smoking to vaping in the future.) And an 80-year life expectancy.
This is roughly equivalent to ~9360 (probably more) people dying.
HT to Scott Alexander.
4. Walter Block makes an important point about reparations for slavery:
Subject: Question about Reparations. You said: “You are not responsible for any of your “father’s” horrific crimes. It is only if he gave you any of the proceeds of his criminality that you must return them.” I cannot find any reason to disagree with your above statement. But I believe the reparations argument is different. The descendants of the victims of slavery are requesting restoration of inheritance from several generations before. But if nothing was bequeathed to their fathers from their grandfathers from their great grandfathers from their great great grandfathers, what claim do they really have? If I go to the casino and gamble away my wealth, or have it taken by a swindler, or lose it in bad investments before I ever bequeath it, how could my great great grand child have possibly any claim to recover it? There is no guarantee that even a child of a slave would have been bequeathed his parent’s wealth had he even received it, Furthermore, the descendants of slaves, several generations removed…
Aug 28 2016 at 10:44am
Those answers from Johnson make me more likely to vote for him. He seems to understand that there is a strong theoretical case for carbon taxes, but there may be practical problems than make legislation unwise. He understands that there are good arguments on both sides of the anti-discrimination law issue. He understands that it’s generally unwise to force people to get vaccinated, but one can imagine a scenario where forced vaccination was necessary to save the human race for a catastrophe, and government intervention was justified by the external benefits from vaccination. I’m not saying that scenario has occurred at any time in all of human history, but it’s possible.
Aug 28 2016 at 10:56am
3. FDA’s anti-vaping regs will cause a minimum of 9360 deaths.
And just like the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) who have died because of FDA regs blocking/slowing medicines coming to the marketplace, there will be no record of the deaths. If anything, those deaths will be used to justify more involvement by the government, more regs and rules, leading to more deaths.
Aug 28 2016 at 12:18pm
“FDA’s anti-vaping regs will cause a minimum of 9360 deaths.” I would say that’s a remarkably biased interpretation of the analysis. What would *cause* those ~9360 deaths would be the choice of those ~9360 people to go back to smoking, it seems to me. I have no particular opinion on vaping one way or the other, by the way; I just don’t like this sort of biased presentation of what should be a fact-based debate.
Aug 28 2016 at 1:35pm
Suppose the federal government passed a law that made the cost of each vaping session $1,000…and as a result, every single person now vaping switched to cigarettes.
For the people who switched to cigarettes and died, you wouldn’t say the government law caused their deaths? After all, they wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t switched to cigarettes, and they wouldn’t have switched to cigarettes if the law hadn’t made vaping so expensive.
Aug 28 2016 at 1:43pm
Note that the estimate of 9000+ lives lost is not 9000 people dying several years earlier than they otherwise would, but 9000 whole lifetimes worth of years lost. That is, if the average person who died from smoking loses ten years of life, this is a prediction that ~75,000 people will die an average of ten years earlier than they would otherwise.
Aug 28 2016 at 2:11pm
Scott Sumner: Those answers from Johnson make me more likely to vote for him. He seems to understand…He understands that there are good arguments on both sides…He understands that it’s generally unwise to force people to get vaccinated…
He “understands”? Don’t you think Clinton, for example, also “understands” the arguments on both sides of the issues? But she doesn’t have the luxury of expressing that understanding because she is running to actually get elected. Gary Johnson can express his “understanding” because he does not need to deal with attracting a critical mass of voters, or with negotiating with opposing interests when in office, because he has no chance of being elected.
I can understand expressing a preference for Johnson because one agrees with his positions and proposed policies but, it seems to me, to put forth as a reason to vote for him that he has a greater “understanding” of the issues than the other candidates is…oh, I don’t know…mood affiliation?
Aug 28 2016 at 2:55pm
Can anyone explain the FDA’s mistake in the cost benefit of the vaping regulations?
Unlike slowness in approving new drugs (who wants to be the person or department that approved thalidomide v the invisibility of lives saved) this one does not appear to have an obvious bureaucratic rationale.
Aug 28 2016 at 7:57pm
Re #4 – I think your quote is not from Prof. Block, but from his corespondent TG. Block in that exchange appears to take the position that reparations entitlement is heritable. Without wading into that controversy, your quote is incorrect. You can inherit an asset from your parent that your parent never knew existed, and obtained from his/her parent. It passes with the so-called residuary estate, and I have seen that a number of times, where a great great grandparent had some stock or other asset that no one knew about but surfaced generations later.
In this case, if someone stole something from your great great grandmother, she would have the legal right to get it back, and that right would be an asset. Assuming no statute of limitations, then you as the residuary legatee would absolutely have the legal right to get that something back from whoever was holding it, even a century or more later.
Aug 28 2016 at 11:10pm
Incidentally, here’s a story that ran 2 days before Gillespie’s interview was posted. Look at the rather significant difference in Gary Johnson’s view on vaccines in this story, compared to his apparent stance in the Gillespie interview.
This guy’s views are all over the place. You have no idea what his position will be from one week to the next. He reminds me of another man in this race…
Aug 28 2016 at 11:28pm
OK, but how does this translate to slavery? Slaves didn’t have their wages stolen from them…they didn’t get wages in the first place. And that was completely compatible with the (unjust) laws of that time.
Further, let’s hypothetically say that slaves did get wages, but their owners stole those wages. How does one go forward many generations to recover those wages. The slave owners would have had children, and those children would have married and had children, and so on. And some would have died and left no heirs.
Suppose for example, a man steals $10,000, but dies with no children. From whom can the money be recovered several generations later?
Aug 29 2016 at 1:14am
Mark – I don’t disagree with you, nor do I defend claims for reparations. I commented above to point out that the quote above by TG is mistaken, and that on this particular issue (heritability of claims) Walter Block was right. If he agrees with the quote he provided, Prof. Henderson is wrong on this point.
Aug 29 2016 at 7:51am
There’s also the issue of avoiding improper collection of reparations. Reparations are not due from those whose ancestors were not slave owners – or even in what is now the United States before that form of slavery ended. Improper collection of reparations from such people would, in fairness, give rise to claims for reparations from the descendants of the beneficiaries of such improperly-collected reparations, against the descendants of those who received them.
Aug 29 2016 at 9:02am
Bob, I’m not sure what the point is in blurring the distinction between a candidate who is libertarian on the vast majority of issues, and rarely changes his views, with one of the least libertarian candidates I’ve ever seen in my entire life, who seems to change his views on an usually wide variety of issues, even for a politician.
Aug 29 2016 at 2:45pm
Scott, this will be my last comment here, since I’m sure no one wants to see us have an argument.
(1) I think you are downplaying just how much Johnson has changed his views on several key things. Also, if Trump had said, “Hey, I never was going to deport anybody, I was just going to eject them” then you would go through the roof. But when Johnson says, “Hey, I never called it a carbon tax, I called it a carbon fee,” referring to his position earlier in the week, you don’t seem to mind.
(2) Trump isn’t running as the leader of the Libertarian Party. Gary Johnson is. So, when Johnson doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of standard libertarian principles and how they apply to common government policies, it bothers me more than if the Republican or Democrat or Green Party candidates don’t know such things.
Aug 30 2016 at 12:47pm
Aha. Thanks for the clarification. Sorry I misinterpreted what you were saying.
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