We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I call this the Fundamental Problem of Political Economy. How do we limit the power that idiots have over us?
One solution, that might be traced to the expression "philosopher-king" associated with Plato, is to hand the reins of government to the best and the brightest. Since the late 19th-century, the Progressive Movement in American politics has championed this approach. The Progressive vision, which DeLong embraces, is to channel brains and technical know-how through government in order to improve people's lives. One hundred years ago, they sought to prohibit alcohol. Today, they are going after trans fats. One hundred years ago, they favored eugenics, based on the then-new science of evolution. Today, they embrace anti-growth economic policies, based on the contemporary science of happiness. Indeed, we get headlines like 'Tories promise to make happiness a priority'.
The other way to avoid having our lives run by idiots is to limit the power that others have over us. This is the approach that was embedded in our Constitution, before it was eviscerated by the Progressives. It is the approach for which Milton Friedman was a passionate advocate.
Friedman's insight is that a market limits the power that others have over us; conversely, limiting the power that others have over us allows us to have markets. Friedman argued that no matter how wise the officials of government may be, market competition does a better job of protecting us from idiots.
Exactly right. My life belongs to me, and I am smarter than they are - and more humble, too.
Plato didnt really think the philosopher king was a realistic solution. In the Republic he spends a lot of time explaining how difficult it would be to identify a philosopher king (if one can even exist), and explains that even if you could find a philosopher king, he/she wouldn't want the job anyway.
The issue limiting the extent to which government jerks interfere with your life can be addressed by looking at how the constitution aims to deal with the ambitious person. the locke approach tries to persuade overly ambitious people to work towards getting rich instead of getting power over others. i like this approach, and i think its part of what Friedman was getting at.
Just 'cause it has feet like a duck, it ain't necessarily so, -it could be a platypus!
The point is I was, wrong is suspecting a bias regarding the time our local PBS station is presenting the Friedman bio.
I queried them and they replied: " The program you're seeing scheduled at 2 am is part of the PBS satellite feed. From midnight to 7 am, we switch over from manually operated (in-house) programming schedules, to the PBS Schedule X satellite feed. "
BTW Larsen: I think you are right about "Freedom of Choice" or Free to Choose, but today's PBS ain't yo daddy's PBS.
Plato did an adequite job of devining governments but it was Aristotles book "Politics" that defined a six fold classification.
Who is a citizen?
Classification of constitutions
In Book 3, Chapters 6-7, Aristotle establishes a famous classification of six types of rule divided on the one hand between those that are 'good' and those that are 'corrupt', and on the other, between the different number of rulers that make up the decision-making authority, namely, the one, the few, and the many. The good types include monarchy, aristocracy and polity, while the corrupt types include tyranny, oligarchy and democracy or 'mob rule'. Good government rules in the common interest while corrupt government rules in the interest of those who rule.
The Order of Merit is thus:
True Kingship-the rule without law, the scientific ruler
Kingship-according to laws
Aristocracy-Oligarchy according to law
Democracy-according to law
Democracy-uncontrolled by laws
Oligarchy- uncontrolled by law
Aristotle felt man was only capable of utilizing Democracy according to law.