Friday, January 04, 2008

Overstatement of the year (made by possible idiot of the year, me!)

This is possibly the most "important", useful, interesting, whatever blog post I've read. It's Tyler Cowen explaining what he (thinks (?)) he is almost certain of. If you disagree with them, I think it's a good place to start if you're interested in offering a sympathetic look at the "other side" and demand of yourself a well thought out reason why you disagree. I place a much higher weight on a list like this from Cowen than any other blogger, even ones who I agree with more than him. I hope some good left wing bloggers will offer their lists.

Since you people don't follow links (shame on you!) I'll have to post the ones I like

4. Overall, despite its many flaws, America is a force for liberty in the greater global community.

5. We are programmed to respond to the "us vs. them" mentality and highly intelligent people are no less captive to this framing.  We should try very hard to get away from this framing.

6. America is a beacon of innovation for the world, and it is critically important that we allow the preconditions for American innovation to continue.

7. It would be a disaster if American taxation ever reached 55 percent of gdp.

10. No one has a good idea what the equilibrium looks like for nuclear proliferation.  This is very worrying.

11. The possibility of pandemics receives insufficient attention.  The world sleepwalked through AIDS for a long time, mostly because "it doesn't affect people like you and me."  The next time around could be much worse.

12. It is a big mistake -- even in rhetoric -- to conflate concern for the poor with comparative egalitarian intuitions.  The left ought to turn its back on this mistake, although it would mean losing one of their most effective rhetorical tools.

13. Most people are sincere in their views (even if wrong), and polemic attacks on them signal a weakness of the attacker, not the attackee.

14. The chance that a protectionism will be an economically rational form of protectionism is very low.

This is most of them, some of the others are a little too American or boring. Here's one that lefties will enjoy

9. The West European way of life is a marvel, unprecedented in human history.  That said, I am not sure that the degree of economic security to date can persist in a more mobile and more diverse future (this second sentence retreats to what I am uncertain about)

He also has a list of things he is uncertain about. Lefties will enjoy it more, but since the blog is basically one of uncertainty it is less fun.


Katana said...

It's hard to disagree with such generalizations, isn't it? Unfortunately it's in the details that we all suddenly disagree.

Stuart said...


I also think they're difficult to disagree with. But I think that most people I know would challenge half of them. I thought this post would draw more comments.

I guess it was long...