Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on the psychology of libertarianism

Tyler Cown is "dissappointed" that the guys at EconLog aren't "engaging the academic literature" on yet another issue (consumer surplus from the Internet).

I think Tyler is coming to the realization that guys like Caplan, Kling and Henderson fit the classic libertarian archetype: smart guys who are smart enough to understand the arguments of Hayek, Nozick, Mises, etc. whose insights are more or less summed up by the perfect competition model, but not smart enough (or willing) to understand when perfect competition fails and why.

All the libertarians I've met in person fit roughly this story. The start out as teens interested in understanding politics. They often go through a radical leftist phase and then realize why communism failed. They understand the rudiments of market economics and then the story ends. They stop learning. They start and end every debate by shouting "MARKETS WORK!" echoing Walter Lewin, the famed MIT/OpenCourseWare Physics professor who used to to shout "Physics works!" after seemingly dangerous physical demonstrations.

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