Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Demystifying Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl wrote this incredibly thoughtful article... Liberalism Beyond Markets.  It's unfortunate that it's so incredibly untrue.

That a system of laws need not contradict market values is of course orthodox Hayekianism, and that it furthers diverse individual purposes is also central to Lon Fuller’s similar account of law. But few Hayekians acknowledge what this means: that the Rule of Law, and not just the market, is an institution central to furthering our diverse ends.

Laws are products that are outside the market.  Prohibition, for example, was a product that was created because enough people voted for it.  They voted for it because they valued it.  But of course they didn't equally value it.  The amount of money spent on this product was not determined by voters, or consumers, it was determined by government planners.

A = society's valuation of prohibition
B = the amount of money spent on prohibition
C = the difference between A and B

If Sabl wants to argue that C is insignificant, then he must believe that shopping is a massive waste of everybody's time and energy.  He should want the Invisible Hand (IH) to be entirely replaced by a combination of the Democratic Hand (DH) and the Visible Hand (VH).

If Sabl wants to argue that C is significant, but B is more socially beneficial than A, then he must believe that not only is shopping a massive waste of everybody's time and energy, but that the IH's division of resources is less socially beneficial than the DH+VH's division.

There you go.  I just easily proved that what Sabl wrote is incredibly untrue.  I demystified Andrew Sabl.  Well... I handed him the cure.  Whether or not he takes it is another story.

Now what?  If he's still reading, maybe I should mention that I'm not a libertarian.  I'm a pragmatarian.  From my perspective, we should create a market in the public sector.  Taxpayers should have the opportunity to divide their limited tax dollars among the unlimited goods supplied by the government.  Rules would be inside, rather than outside, the market.

Rules would be subject to the same consumer selection pressure as clothes and computers.  The DoD and the EPA would be subject to the same consumer selection pressure as the NRA and the Red Cross.

Right now Netflix is in a market, but it is not a market.  Netflix as a whole is subject to consumer selection pressure, but its parts are not.  People can decide how they divide their limited dollars between Netflix and clothes, but if they do decide to allocate money to Netflix, they can't decide how they divide their subscription dollars between nature documentaries and sci-fi shows.

A = consumer selection pressure
B = no consumer selection pressure

It really can't be the case that A and B are equally effective at serving society's interests.  This fact should be blindingly obvious.

Humanity is a process of demystification.  This means that, just because we have an institution doesn't necessarily prove that it's beneficial.  The institution might be propped up by mysticism.  This was the case for making sacrifices to Gods.  Can you imagine the incredible amount of valuable resources that humanity wasted as a result of this pervasive mysticism?  Democracy is also propped up by mysticism.  Same thing for the government deciding how to divide tax dollars between environmental protection and space colonization.  Same thing for Netflix deciding how to divide subscription dollars between nature documentaries and sci-fi shows.  In all cases mysticism wastes humanity's limited resources.

Any single product (rule, belief, idea, institution, system) can be propped up by mysticism.  This is why markets accelerate demystification.

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