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December 27, 2012


Blogger Brian,

Why, oh why, are you a supporter of Ob*ma's current domocratic policy of 'big government tax and spend' if you resonate with Taleb's philosophy? I don't get it.

I happen to also like what Taleb has to say, so far as you present it, yet you and I are miles apart politically with you being a "progressive" and me being a "libertarian" of sorts.

tucson, like I said, Taleb distrusts large, rigid, unchanging ideologies of any kind. So there's a lot not to like in any form of "ism," including libertarianism -- which holds onto its own forms of authoritarianism.

One of these is a disturbing lack of compassion for individuals who need assistance. I'll be interested to see what Taleb says about this in chapters I haven't read yet.

So far I've heard Taleb say:

"We are a mere part of a large chain, and we are worried about both ourselves and the system, as well as the preservation of parts of that large chain."

"I detest the notion of improvement thanks to harm to others. As a humanist, I stand against the antifragility of systems at the expense of individuals, for if we follow the reasoning, this makes us humans individually irrelevant."

The problem with "ism's", including the "ism" of gun rights fantatics, is that the individual is submerged beneath the weight of ideology. The twenty children killed at Sandy Hook are forgotten, while blather about the 2nd Amendment is spouted.

Similarly, poor children who go hungry, poor children who go uneducated, poor children who lack health care -- these individuals are tossed aside by extreme libertarianism because, hey, people are free to be hungry, uneducated, sick, and it isn't the role of government to help them.

Extremes aren't productive. I think Taleb strikes a nice balance, by and large, between extreme individualism and extreme collectivism. I'm sure I won't agree with everything he says in his book. I like his overall viewpoint, though.

Blogger B,

I said I was a libetarian "sort of" because that is the political ideology that most closely matches my political views, but I don't march to every note of their tune. In fact, many hard liners of that 'ism' would find me a bit 'off key'.

I see no reason not to have an affordable, well-managed safety net system that aids people who otherwise would lie sick, die, starve or freeze. But it would not be a "happy camp" to live off of permanently.

I don't see why government needs to fund education of poor children. That should be solved at the local level via the means at hand via private charity, volunteers, churches and more.

I am realistic enough to know that government simply cannot prevent all poverty and the problems that go with it.

I like it when Taleb says:

"Stabilization, of course, has long been the economic playbook of the United States government; it has kept interest rates low, shored up banks, purchased bad debts and printed money. But the effect is akin to treating metastatic cancer with painkillers."

Libertarians also do not like this kind of stabilization because as Taleb says:

"It has not only let deeper problems fester, but also aggravated inequality. Bankers have continued to get rich using taxpayer dollars as both fuel and backstop. And printing money tends to disproportionately benefit a certain class. The rise in asset prices made the superrich even richer, while the median family income has dropped."

Libertarians would get rid of the Federal Reserve for this reason.

This thing about assult rifles is overblown. Not the killings, but the potency of the weapons. Yes, they fire a lot of bullets but the .223 caliber round used in the AR-15 Bushmaster is puny compared to the ammo used in many bolt action hunting rifles like the one used by the sniper Charles Whitman in the 1966 Texas massacre. He killed 14 people and wounded 32 using, among others, a Remington 700 bolt action rifle fired from an observation deck. Hardly what would be called an "assault rifle" today. But assault he did.

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