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David Friedman, Generic Drugs, Papal travels, and other links

I’ve got a couple interesting things in development, but in the meantime here are some links I’ve come across recently with some short analysis tacked on.

I don’t consider myself an anarcho-capitalist, although I agree with some of the arguments ancaps make.  I don’t find them too crazy if, for example, you accept the premise that even a well constrained government slowly escapes its constitutional shackles (debatable).  The result of this premise that the only option that would keep a government from expanding and infringing on freedom is to never have one at all. But I find it mostly uninteresting since I’m into politics and the political reality is that we have a government, we’ve had one for a long time, and we’re going to have one for quite some time into the future. Moreover, because I’m a consequentialist and most ancaps are deontological, some of the outrage at the government’s existence is also dulled. But despite all of that, this video by consequentialist anarcho-capitalist David Friedman summarizing his argument in The Machinery of Freedom (reviewed by Slate Star Codex here and more here) is excellent and well worth the 20 minute watch.

Speaking of Scott Alexander (Slate Star Codex), he has a really good post going into detail about the state of generic drugs in US after Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price of an anti-toxoplasma drug. I think I’ll be adding a new policy to my political platform where the FDA regulations on generics will be relaxed based on the amount of subscriptions of the drug in the previous year. Tiny market drugs should be allowed to be sold with little oversight. Dangerous? A bit, but the danger is limited and the alternative is to let the market keep working like it is now, or have the FDA analyze every single price change for a prescription drug, which could have horrendous outcomes for patients.

Roderick T. Long has an aptly sized piece in Reason about the dual liberal traditions seen today, classical and progressive. He labels these as rationalist and pluralist and arrays them as fearing two types of legitimate, though very different, tyrannies.  Rationalists fear local majoritarianism that can be caught up in customs or policies known to be unwise, while pluralists distrust distant autocrats with one-size-fits-all policies.  Interestingly, Left and Right can find plenty of their complaints in both tribes: discrimination against gays and aggressive campus speech codes are both local policies that infringe on liberty, while economic over-regulation and government surveillance are both issues with the centralized state. Long argues we cannot dismiss the concern of either liberal branch; threats to liberty can arise from many places. Definitely worth a read.

The Pope is on tour in the US. His previous, vaguely anti-capitalistic statements have annoyed many Republicans, and libertarians have been likewise nonplussed. However, his speech in front of Congress had its share of concern about gay marriage, “fundamental relationships” being “called into question”, as well as defending “human life at every stage of development”.  So the disappointment with the Pope is distinctly bipartisan.  In fact, by adopting leftist economic ideas and social conservatism, the Pope places himself in the exact opposite quadrant from libertarians in the Nolan Chart, not a good place to be.  Bottom line: really glad the Pope is not in charge of policy because he’d be pretty bad at it. Except immigration. Bryan Caplan has got his back on that, if you’re a Bryan Caplan fan (and I recommend you should be).  Bonus Pope complaint: even though the Inquisition only killed ~1000 people, the Pope is still helping to normalize the security state.

If you’re not already acquainted with Bryan Caplan, check out his post where he puts his belief in betting markets to work when discussing the European immigration and the potential for civil war.  It’s easy to make outrageous claims when you don’t have to put actual money on your predictions.

Jason Brennan says of course we should allow kidney sales.  EconTalk also interviewed Tina Rosenberg on Iran’s kidney market last week. After studying the market, Rosenberg has come out in support of kidney sales as well.  This is not the first time EconTalk has covered this topic, nor is it the first time I’ve talked about it either.  I’m going to have to add it to my platform.

The 19th season of South Park began a couple weeks ago. I highly recommend their first two episodes, and Comedy Central allows you to watch almost all their episodes for free here.  Throwback to Nick Gillespie’s awesome column on why kids must watch South Park.