Democrats Push for National ID
In a recent dinner conversation with in-laws who are firm constructivist, collectivist, statists the topic of Arizona's immigration law was "discussed". My in laws are firm democrats (and do not recognize the similarities to the republican party) and deeply favored the Health care "reform" and anticipated Financial services "reform" while heatedly (almost violently) disagree with the Immigration "reform".
In a burst of misguided optimism, I asked if perhaps all three activities of the state reflected democracy in action (the tyranny of the majority) and legislation to specifics (arbitrary action by the state).
My sister in law, who holds a Phd from the UofA in Ecology looked at me in disbelief when I grouped these 3 examples together. She said that the first two (which she supported) could not be considered in any way similar to the last (which she opposed).
I assume she was part of the majority in the first two cases and part of the minority in the last case. That said, she could see not potential threat to majority rule.
As economists who favor liberty this is the type of muddled thinking and emotionalism that we confront with family and friends. The emergence and expansion of an emotional, constructivist faith in social justice may prove difficult to confront in a civil and productive manner by those who favor liberty.
Like Boyes I find myself often at a loss on how to productively extend a conversation like the one with my in-laws. This dinner conversation is a reminder of the strength of deeply held beliefs - these beliefs seem to trump logic, evidence, and the voice of alternative views. We explored the process by which social justice emerges as a false belief in the ASET book club last month - I keep coming back to Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals in Society and his argument that intellectuals and the intellegenia in many ways shape these beliefs. Moreover, I can now see the danger of this process - Noam Chomsky or Sean Penn are exemplifications of this process.
The same sister in law, the Phd holder, was reviewing the latest issue of Time - the 100 most influential people, and was delighted to see the actor Ben Stiller listed as a hero for his development work (and perspective) on how to shape Haiti's ability to recover and withstand future shock. I have no doubt that Stiller has a perspective, but this perspective has no greater value than anyone else's. His acting prowess which, I suppose, makes him a part of the intellegensia gives him wide influence in shaping beliefs, an influence far beyond what might be warranted. I guess I wonder about a constructivist who looks to Ben Stiller or Sean Penn on issues for development and growth and who has never hear of William Easterly or FA Hayek and, more significantly does not want to hear about perspectives that conflict with Stiller or Penn.
Finally, my sister in law's area of expertise is climate change - and yet she read a recent Paul Krugman NY Times piece on the economics of climate change admiringly and found his view persuasive. When I suggested that she had more knowledge about the economics of climate change based upon her work, she looked at me like I was nuts. She said - "Greg, he won the Nobel Prize."
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