Federal Spending in Two Graphs
20110222 Lecture: Liquidity-Money

Robert Murphy Joins the "Reasonable People Differ About Whether It Would Be Moral to Tax Americans to Destroy an Asteroid" "It's Immoral to Tax Americans to Destroy an Asteroid" Caucus

UPDATE: I appear to have mischaracterized Murphy. He goes the whole Volokh: it is, he says, simply immoral to tax people to fund the construction of the giant asteroid-killing lasers we need.


No, Bob, reasonable people do not think that it is immoral to tax people in order to blow up an asteroid that is about to annihilate the human race.

And reasonable people do not think that reasonable people can think that it is immoral to tax people in order to blow up an asteroid that is about to annihilate the human race.

They just don't.


Empirical Evidence That Brad DeLong Is Completely Obtuse - Robert P. Murphy - Mises Daily: Volokh's position... is an entirely reasonable view, and it is surprising to me that DeLong doesn't even understand it.... [T]here is a general moral prohibition against violating another person's rights.... Volokh's... point should be obvious: Just because an asteroid threatens to destroy all human life, that alone is not sufficient to justify violating people's rights. It is not morally acceptable to engage in theft, if doing so would merely prevent people's deaths from natural causes (i.e., the asteroid strike).... [DeLong] is aghast that someone actually takes seriously the fact that people have rights. The reason DeLong finds Volokh's views "insane" is that Volokh has elevated his precious political principles to such a height that they trump the survival of the human race. What an ideologue!

Yet if we go and read Volokh's actual post.... This example of the killer asteroid was indeed designed to test libertarian rights theory. Volokh knows full well the implications of his stance, but he is reporting that he cannot conclude that it is moral to steal from people in order to prevent natural deaths...

Just wow.

As I already said:

We economists do not like lexicographic preference offerings precisely because they lead to catastrophe--to results that nobody can with a straight face say are good or moral. Or, at least, we think that those who do say such are either bullshitting us or are unbalanced in mind.

And they are unbalanced in mind--the fact that philosophers and lawyers claim to believe in lexicographic preference offerings is a sign that (a) their minds were unbalanced to begin with or (b) their professional training has unbalanced their minds.

And they are unbalanced: the sabbath was made for humanity; humanity was not made for the sabbath.