The same reason why property rights generally do not apply in the digital realm is the same reason why any discussion of “social justice” within the same is ludicrous. Where there is no scarcity, there is no injustice…

The Principal-Agent Problem

This appears to be a breakthrough in the textbook principal-agent problem. The textbook tells us that it should be the principal, in the case, the Israeli Lobby, which should bear the Asymmetric information costs of monitoring the conflict of interest on the part of it’s agent, in this case the American Political Parties.

However, in our real world example, we see the actual agency costs being borne by the agency and not the principal.

Imagine a principal hiring an agency for a stock broker, and the manager of agency keeping the principal up to date on how the personal habits/views of the agent assigned account executive might potentially negatively impact the principal.

Another example of how the Public Choice model of government agency wrecks the textbook.

Of course it’s comical to view the DoubleThink of government agency in action. We have an Israeli Lobby holding a public forum for the purpose of debunking charges of the Democrats that Republicans want to cut aid to Israel. And the the Israeli Lobby ostensibly excludes Ron Paul because he is accused of being too much like Barack Obama, the one, of course, who–as leader of the Democrats– is orchestrating the Democratic attack against Republicans in terms of accusations/warnings of aid cutting to Israel.

To me, the obvious Principal-Agent Problem is “representative democracy;” specifically, voting as a means of securing agency. The problem is particularly compounded when we factor Jesus’ Eschatological intent into the equation.

History, if there is going to be one that survives, will mock us; Zeus only had lightning bolts. Jesus had hydrogen bombs…

The Pink Police State

Although I have often used the term “Pink Police State,” I didn’t coin the term. Credit goes to James Poulos who actually credits Marilyn Manson for the inspiration. Poulos dug back to the “Dope Show” from Manson’s late 1990s “Mechanical Animals” to throw pointed bombs at Reason’s “Libertarian Moment” thesis a few years ago. Even though Matt & Nick’s book is “new,” the thesis is old staleness in the pages of Reason Magazine.

Poulos railed against a “cultural libertarianism that is snowballing while the snowball of political libertarianism rolls deeper into hell.”

I couldn’t help but think of Poulos after hearing Michelle Bachmann recently address the Sarah Palin rivalry to the media by retorting “the media would love to see two girls come together and have a lesbian mud wrestling fight, but I’m not going to give it to them.”

Brad DeLong Fails the Nozick Turing Test

Contra Brad DeLong, it’s fairly simple to demonstrate how DeLong himself readily fails his own Nozick Turing Test . DeLong’s problem is that he is composing a test of the Lockean Proviso from Locke’s Second Treatise. Anyone remotely familiar with Nozick should know that he considered Locke’s Second Treatise a deficient foundation for the “Lockean State.” In specific, Nozick recast the Lockean Proviso along the lines of:

“no one be left worse off by the appropriation than if the thing remained in common use”

In other words, Nozick added a constraint condition on “enough and as good left in common for others,” that determines the justice of expropriation of land from the commons. Nozick specifically gave an example of denying a Robinson Crusoe’s property rights claim of trespass against any future shipwrecked individuals on the basis that Robinson Crusoe’s claim violated the reformulated “Lockean Proviso.”

DeLong’s “1st Step” in his test “biases” the test:

1) Nobody is allowed to make utilitarian or consequentialist arguments. Nobody.

Although Nozick “constraint condition” would technically be a type of “Pareto condition” and not a utilitarian or consequentialist constraint, it is clear that the 1st Step is a rule that is meant to prevent one from making the Nozick argument. Since no “Nozick believer” would ever propose or follow such a rule, it is clear that the person who composed the rule either (1) does not understand Nozick or is (2) attempting to enforce a strawman argument(arguing Locke and not Nozick). Hence, anyone who obeys the rule gives away their bias. Put another way, DeLong’s Turing Test is a “biased test” and anyone who follows the test reveals their bias. So DeLong fails here…

DeLong’s contention: “I would maintain that only liberals can successfully explain Nozickian political philosophy” is belied, in this instance, by the fact that DeLong fails(either intentionally or unintentionally) to distinguish between Nozick and Locke regarding the “Lockean Proviso.”

It should be noted that there are additional data points regarding DeLong’s shortcomings as an arbiter of liberal theory. For example, this old post by Brad DeLong equates Smithian Self-Interest with psychopathy. According to DeLong, this astute observation “opens up a gap between the libertarian view and the world.” However, I think the better observation would be to question whether DeLong actually has ever read Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments.”

Odds and Ends…

My little blog, which I started after Freedom Democrats went defunct, has now reached it’s one year anniversary. One thing I have definitely learned the past year is that if you want to implement a “traffic-killing” strategy, post intermittently on the rational choice foundations of libertarian theory. Guaranteed to kill your traffic, unless,I suppose, you happen to be a well-known professor/scholar in the field.

A traffic-generating strategy, on the other hand, has proven to be to post on topics related to your specific areas of expertise and post often. So my “techie” stuff usually does decent traffic and occasionally does explosive traffic. For example, my post on the immixGroup-VeriSign-ICE triage behind the domain seizures, an inner working that I was able figure out, got significant linkage from a number of major tech publications. My Wikileaks Watch posts, for the brief time I was maintaining them, got good hits. In short my niche would be “Applied Cyberpunk,” although this would involve none of the literary or cultural aspects of that genre. Perhaps a more accurate but less chic term would be “Internet Political Economy.”

Still, my “theory” posts, although not widely read, have helped me flesh out my own rational basis for libertarianism, one that has steadily moved toward moral contractarianism, the only framework that I now think can be consistent with Laissez-Faire. This moving to the later Benjamin Tucker position, but instead of “Rational Egoism,” we are substituting Game Theory Rationality.

Lately, many of my “theory” posts have been attacking the premise of “Bleeding Heart Libertarians.” This is not because I don’t share the same moral judgments as BHL, because, in actuality I do. It’s because there really isn’t any rational or social choice basis for distributive justice. So, advocating libertarianism as a basis for distributive justice principle is a dead-end road. Indeed, the libertarian principle has already been demonstrated to lead to cooperative equilibrium.

David Gauthier demonstrated that one shot non-cooperative games where agents play a tit for tat strategy, where cooperation is constrained by (i) minimizing the concession and (ii) the libertarian principle results in the equivalent Kalai-Smorodinsky bargaining solution. The Gauthier ideal non-cooperative game relies on conditions of (a) modest scarcity and (b) relatively equal agents. It ties the libertarian principle to a boundary constraint on non-cooperative games between reciprocal cooperators. In some respects, it’s an ideal analogous to Neoclassical perfect competition.

Moral Contractarianism does two things (1) counters the typical claptrap that equates libertarianism with a morality that underlies a social theory of selfish defectors (2) the libertarian principle as boundary constraint obviates attempts to use it as a foundation for an initial-value principle.

Defining Libertarianism

i) Political Theory: Denies any rational or social choice normative basis for political authority

ii) Social Theory: Libertarian Justice not a moral theory, rather it is a theory of rational moral constraints. Significant but subtle difference.

Addendum: Natural Law + contractarianism incompatible and dangerous. Natural Law=preferred or natural ranking of moral preferences. Contractarianism to enforce a natural or preferred ranking of moral preferences violates the libertarian principle boundary constraint.

Moral contractarianism perhaps may work work great for sentient automata. It may break down for humans under an expanded treatment of evolutionary norms for reciprocal cooperators. A punishment problem potentially arises. A biological problem(implying perhaps the need for Transhumanism?)…

Bitcoin and Moral Judgments

Bitcoin, I think, plays into the moral contractarian framework I’ve outlined above. Libertarianism, as a social theory, is not a theory of moral judgements; rather it is theory of rational moral constraints. That is, we are not concerned with the moral preference ranking of Agent A and Agent B; rather, we are concerned with the moral constraints on A and B as reciprocal cooperators. We do not want a contractarian order that favors/enforces the moral preference rankings of either A or B; otherwise, it violates the libertarian principle boundary constraint.

In reading the Bitcoin forums after the Silk Road and Schumer publicity, there is an obvious divide in moral judgments between the Bitcoin development team and the Bitcoin user base. The former is in favor of integrating Bitcoin into the legal and regulatory environment of the State. This means, for example, that exchange organizations, that convert Bitcoin to State currency would fully comply with reporting the conversion transactions to the authorities. The Bitcoin technical lead,
Gavin Andresen, has expressed opinion that the Bitcoin community should work with law enforcement to aid in the arrest of those who use Bitcoin for illegal drug transactions. This is in sharp contrast to the forum user base, many of whom are of the crypto-anarchist variety.

So Bitcoin provides us with a model of a clash in moral judgments. This is a test of the political economy of Bitcoin. It reinforces the point why moral judgements cannot underlie a libertarian social order. It also demonstrates that Bitcoin is not actually an “agorist construct,” precisely because of the differences in moral judgements. That Bitcoin will still potentially work despite the clashes in moral judgements is an overall point I’ve tried to emphasize. It also goes to show that to be good “Applied Cyberpunk,” one probably has to avail oneself of the rational choice foundations, tedium notwithstanding…