Davos Newbies Home

Libertarians and dim sum  

Courtesy of Brad DeLong, I’ve come across the wonderfully named Tugboat Potemkin on the politics of eating oriental food. I’ll post only a brief snippet, but the whole meal is worth consuming.

“The usual arrangement for paying the bill is that everybody covers their own drinks but the total cost of food is split equally over the whole table, with a decent round-up for the tip. It’s this arrangement that I think would present difficulties for hard-line libertarians. It’s fraught with all kinds of problems like those which create their aversion to high taxing, high intervention government.

“Take the chicken’s feet — I think very few non-Chinese readers would, so here we have a clear example of moral hazard: if some brave soul at the table decides, what the hell, I’ll give them a go, there’s a risk that he won’t like what he gets. And the cost of that risk has to be borne by the whole table.

“On the other hand, the offcuts gourmet who orders a basket of chicken feet, two of which go uneaten, has just received a subsidy from everyone else and, to make matters worse, she’s also squandered some of the table’s financial resources on a pair of useless, and rather unsightly, bits of dead bird.”

Warning on techno optimism 

There’s been a lot of exuberance over what Howard Dean’s use of the Internet means for politics. John Robb provides a timely warning.

“While I appreciate what Dean has been able to do with the Web, my gut is telling me that in five years, Karl Rove and the Republican political machine will turn this same collection of technologies into something to be fearedÂ… Remember, all technology can be subverted, it is not an end in itself nor is it inherently good. We have yet to see the real darkside of the Internet and it is my guess that this will be one of its aspects.”

Seen in another way, there’s a danger that the left will repeat its error of assuming the right’s lack of smarts. They may be wrong (and they are), but unfortunately they are not always dumb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *