So, despite my repeated attempts to drill a deep pessimism into my readers lots of my commenters still take my attitude about the future as Cassandra-ism.
Indeed, it’s the exact opposite. If I had to yoke with someone more famous I would pick Camus, though – and perhaps you laugh – I find much of his words a quasi-optimistic copout.
Suicide is fully rationally and consistent with our (the black-black existentialist) stated views on absurdity. One can embrace simply by saying: I am viscerally afraid to die. I viscerally long for the morrow. None of this makes any sense.
Yet, when I open my eyes the question “So, what now” is imposed on me by simply being a conscious being. And, so we love the moments not because there is any sense to it or because we have escaped or transcended absurdity in anyway, but simply because we are therefore, why not.
Still, if not rebellion per se we can seek insight. Again, for no other reason than that we are and we wish. And, yes formal ethics is a game we choose or choose not to play. I prefer the terminology, table we wish to sit at or not, because I do not like the English language connotation of “game.”
As I said to Bryan Caplan in our debate, there simply is no response to “I don’t want to play this game” That is, to say if you don’t wish to sit at this table then that’s the end of the conversation. We can and Bryan and I did, go for drinks.
In any case, to the events of the day.
Understanding that things won’t work out in the end helps you take a more level headed approach to things that are happening now.
For example, both Megan and Kelly were taken aback at my attitude on long run fiscal issues. There are a lot of levels of disagreement, different with each, but key is that I push this line of reasoning:
- That we cannot as individuals or as a state afford everything we would like is simply scarcity and is the furniture of our world.
- If we are lucky we will have the choice to kick-the-can-down the-road.
- Kicking-the-can-down-the-road is of its nature preferable because bad things now are worse than bad things later.
- There is some price to can kicking but before I endorse increasing the suffering of actual existent people I would need at least an argument as to why that price is high.
- “Being responsible” is not an argument. Its an attempt to display high status
- In actual fact the claims of long term calamity are overblown. Calamity usually comes swift by its nature and for reasons I can go into later.
My case in point on this is Greece. Greece’s “insolvency” was handled extremely poorly. Its an example of folks choosing policy that makes almost everyone poorer and the poor relatively.
Nonetheless, lets see what happened when sudden austerity comes clamping down.
At least 45 buildings were burned, including one of the capital’s oldest cinemas, while dozens of stores and cafes were smashed and looted.
The stench of tear gas still hung in the air on Monday morning, choking passers-by. More than 120 people were hurt in the rioting which also broke out in other Greek cities. Authorities said 68 police needed medical care after being injured by gasoline bombs, rocks and other objects hurled at them, while at least 70 protesters were also hospitalized.
Police arrested at least 67 people, while in several cases they had to escort fire crews to burning buildings after protesters prevented access.
This is not exactly civilization ending stuff.
The precautionary principle has yet to show its merit.
Ordinary Optimal Control still wins the day.
As a note, I know some people will find this all confusing because you can’t tell whose side I am on. My point is beyond all that.
My point is that the entire paradigm is wrong. There is no “we just have to” either for reigning in spending or maintaining the welfare state. Nor have there been any consequences so discontinuous as to be approximated by “we just have to.”
What do you think you want to do?
That’s the public finance question.