4.15.2009

Liberalism: the inability to recognize the incentive effect

What got me thinking about this most recently was this story, wherein we are warned that having killed pirates will only make pirates more violent. This type of thinking, I believe, is at the heart of what is wrong with liberals.

The media and liberals (but I repeat myself) have a myopia where they obsess on first-order effects and do not recognize second-order effects. Incentive effects are a complete mystery to them. So while they can make the connection:

Anti-pirate defense -> angry pirates -> more violent attacks,

they don't seem to be able to make the connection:

Million-dollar ransoms and no self-defense -> more pirates

This is very similar to the liberal myopia seen on a myriad of public policy issues, such as welfare dependency and the economy-stifling effect of high taxes. Liberals want to treat the immediate symptom without considering the long-term consequences.

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