Wayne Allyn Root’s Dismal Science

I found Wayne Allyn Root’s use of economics to argue against 9-11 civilian trials to be amusing. I found his evangelist zeal to equate this position with the proper libertarian position to be even more amusing. Writes Root:

Make the point STRONGLY that this is an economic issue. Having the trial in NY would have cost $1 BB. That’s not my number. Thats the media experts’ number all over the NY news. Thats separate from the cost to the federal government. That’s separate from the lost income to New Yorkers and Wall Street.

Sorry boys and girls…it’s time for the LP to be a political party, not a debate club. Life isn’t theoretical. This isn’t about some imaginary Libertarian idea. This is the real world. You don’t live in NY. It could never and should never have even been an option. Unless you want to kill business for months on Wall Street- the center of capitalism. There would be no way to conduct business in lower Manhattan for months on end.

Whether it’s in Gitmo or not…it cannot be in the United States. No city or state can afford the treasure or the security risk. All common sense mothers and fathers agree.

I turned it into a 100% Libertarian economic issue. Perfect Libertarian response.

Actually boys and girls, there’s a time to be theoretical, particularly in the case when good theory is needed to debunk the bad theory the always underlies the ruminations of supposed practical men. Let us recall Keynes:

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

In actuality, Root’s 100% economic issue is the perfect Socialist Response. Perhaps if Root spent more time examining/learning/debating the libertarian tradition rather than evangelizing some Right-wing republican recruitment tour, he would recognize this. Root’s “economic argument” is the same argument that is the purview of every modern day Nanny-Statist, and I can try trace it back to George Bernard Shaw’s original economic critique of libertarianism. I broached this topic in some detail in this old post, Libertarianism vs Social Democracy.

A “constitutionalist” like Root is supposed to believe that raison d’etre of “limited government” is to carry out these types of core functions. Root subjecting such a core purpose of government to a “utilitarian analysis” invalidates the very thing he supposedly advocates. Nanny-Staters, of course, invoke a never-ending appeal to the same “utilitarian analysis” in their continuous assault on liberty.

On a discrete basis, one can make a “utilitarian case” against the social costs of defending free speech in every instance. But aggregate each discrete instance into a whole and calculate the social utility of a society without free speech. It would be very poor. Of course, this is an example of Bastiat’s “what is seen and what is not seen.” The type of thing one should learn in a “libertarian debating society.” Unfortunately, history and experience inform us that politics is a very poor teacher of Bastiat’s principle(although, interestingly, “free speech” is the one thing that has held up). This is because the incentives of politics operate to obscure Bastiat’s principle, not to obey it.

Historically, economics derives it’s “dismal science” moniker from Thomas Carlyle’s economic argument for the continuation of slavery. Really, without factoring in Bastiat’s principle along with the Knowledge Problem, economics can often conclude that the greatest social utility is achieved via enslavement and destruction. Or in the case of Root the evangelist, that libertopia is an economic outcome of a majority voting winning coalition of those who think they will never be on the losing side of a police state.

Root serves as a reminder to libertarians why economics, under the framework of politics, deserves to be called the “dismal science” …

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