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Friday, February 28, 2020

Scott Sumner on process

(I have decided to periodically reprint pieces by "think for your self libertarians," by which I mean people who, in the Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Shea, Timothy Leary tradition, might lean libertarian but are not content to simply repeat something Ayn Rand said 70 years ago. This is not to say Ayn Rand didn't say some good things. Today I have a piece reprinting a blog post by Scott Sumner, who blogs at The Money Illusion and also contributes posts to Econlog.  You can also follow his automated Twitter account. The Mgt.)

Scott Sumner

Process is (almost) EVERYTHING

By Scott Sumner 

When I do a post on process, people often ignore the content and sound off on what they think of this or that political issue, or this or that candidate. I don’t care what you think about those topics. If the post is on process, all I care about is what you think of process.

If a candidate with identical views to mine, favoring kidney markets, NGDP targeting, drug legalization, carbon taxes, consumption taxes, deregulating housing, ending occupational licensing, etc., etc., were elected president, it would still be an unmitigated disaster if that candidate also corrupted the country and turned it into a banana republic.

If you don’t believe me, look at what’s happening in India after they elected a guy that was supposed to be “good for business."

Countries with a sound political system, say Denmark or Switzerland, will generally do fine regardless of who is elected president. Countries that are banana republics, like Guatemala or Iraq, will be a mess regardless of who is elected. Countries rarely move from one category to the other, but it can happen.

It’s fine to talk about economic issues when the political system is not under threat. But when it is, the only issue that matters is process. Heraclitus said “character is destiny”. For entire countries, you might say “Transparancy International Ranking of Corruption is destiny.”

PS. I do understand the risk that bringing lots of immigrants from banana republics might change the political culture. But in case you didn’t notice, Trump was put into office by descendants of Western Europeans.

PPS. BTW, Don’t worry about the following, as Trump assures us that everything is under control. The stock crash was caused by the Democratic debate:

One day after painting a dire picture at a Wednesday news conference at the White House about the possible effects of the infection, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was directed by the Trump administration to not say anything further about the virus without clearing it first, the New York Times reported.

Fauci first needs to talk to Mike Pence, the resident science expert in the White House.


(Footnote: I am not an expert on economics, so I won't weigh on whether Professor Sumner is really "The Blogger Who Saved the Economy." . The Mgt.)

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