Links 2017-02-25

How about this for a defense of free speech? Popehat’s Marc Randazza offers the argument for legalizing child pornography. The article makes a good point that abusing children is quite a distinction from possessing indecent photos of children. Moreover, obscenity can already be banned by the state without a need for an additional legal category. He also makes a good case that the slippery slope is in fact already happening, where parents’ baby pictures are technically child porn, and so are teenagers’ sexting. Very few people are willing to make any sort of case for state overreach in this area, so it makes sense that there would be evidence of overreach. It’s definitely an interesting read.

Also from Popehat, skepticism is an important tool to have when reading the news now, and this is a guide to reading the news like a search warrant application.

This is a cool voting simulation discussion. Each chart displays political candidates as fixed points on a two dimensional voting plane. The shaded areas indicate which candidate would win for every conceivable voter population makeup, and they change based on the five voting systems simulated. Notice that in a plurality voting system, in almost every possible candidate geography, the middle or moderate candidate loses out. Interestingly, this is also true of the the second most popular vote type, Instant Runoff Voting (noted as Hare in the link). The conclusion:

The following images visually demonstrate how Plurality penalizes centrist candidates and Borda favours them; how Approval and Condorcet yield nearly identical results; and how the Hare method yields extremely strange behaviour. Alarmingly, the Hare method (also known as “IRV”) is gaining momentum as the most popular type of election-method reform in the United States (in Berkeley, Oakland, and just last November in San Francisco, for example).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a Surveillance Self Defense page that details basic internet security concepts as well as tutorials on how to use several important security software apps, like PGP, OTR, Signal, Tor, etc. Absolutely the best introduction for anyone first learning about security.

Scott Alexander had an interesting review of Eichmann in Jerusalem, which talked about the trial of a former Nazi official in Israel some decades after the Holocaust. Eichmann’s reasoning is bizarre in that he seemed to try and get the audience to sympathize with his hard work and lack of luck while in the Nazi bureaucracy. There are also interesting discussion of the varying success of societies resisting the Nazi regime.

Scott also reposted his Anti-libertarian FAQ, which is still one of the better arguments against extreme libertarianism, detailing the shortcomings of an anarcho-capitalist or minimalist state. It is one of the reasons this blog is postlibertarian, and not libertarian-all-the-way.

Bryan Caplan on limited government as insurance, and his related point that one way to limit government is to have an additional veto chamber legislation must pass through. To be effective, the chamber would have to be populated by government policy skeptics–i.e. libertarians.

Has Trump actually done a ton of things? Well, if you take a look at the VIX volatility index, market volatility is at a relative low at present compared to the last 3 months, pretty low of the last 6 months, and right around its lowest level of the last 5 years. Marginal Revolution muses on explanations for this phenomenon.

This Politico article discusses Curtis Yarvin, a.k.a. the well known Neo-reactionary Mencius Moldbug. Yarvin disputes having any connection with Steve Bannon, but this would actually make me less nervous about Bannon as a person if it were true.

There was a big nomination fight for Betsy DeVos. I didn’t get it at all, as school choice is a pretty good idea, adding some very limited market accountability to public schooling. Reason does a good job explaining the benefits of school choice here.

Supply chains are more efficient because they are international. Additionally, supply chains must be international if they want to compete.  This is undeniable. Here we have another article on international supply chains. Trying to create protectionism in international trade is trying to centrally plan complex international supply chains. Central planning doesn’t work.

Bryan Caplan and Ed Dolan of the Niskanen Center had a long discussion of the Universal Basic Income. Ed Dolan’s blog has the whole back and forth, but it’s not the greatest formatting. If you want to see it all with individual links, here is the list. 

Caplan also debated Will Wilkinson at ISFLC about the UBI, and here is his opening statement. Overall, I find Caplan somewhat more convincing, because we just don’t know how many people will reduce their labor output once they can get a UBI. I would like to see federal funding where a state can only take the money if they do a randomized control trial when implementing the program for several years.

Jeffrey Tucker’s old article on Libertarian Brutalism is fascinating to think about nowadays. He divides libertarianism into both a freedom to cooperate and a freedom to say “screw you and leave me alone”. The first type says that the civil rights movement succeeded because people rebelled against the restrictions the state put on people, and while they are wary of using state power to fight prejudice, prejudice itself is obviously wrong. The second says that state imposition of ideas is wrong in every context, and if people want the freedom to discriminate, they ought to do it.

Related: Richard Spencer showed up at ISFLC, and Jeffrey Tucker was seen on camera telling him fascists weren’t welcome at an anti-fascist conference. I’m pretty much ok with this. No one was punched, no physical altercations took place, and many libertarians seemed to express their will to not associate with unsavory people. Bleeding Heart Libertarians covers the incident with the important point that it is no longer a thought experiment of what we should do when Nazis show up to protest our events.

Another simple argument about immigration restrictions: SpaceX can’t hire foreigners because their technology is classified as weaponry. Therefore, they can’t hire the best people to come to the United States and make our private space program better than other countries’ public ones. That’s pretty disappointing if you are even vaguely interested in space travel, free markets, or even American exceptionalism.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Bitcoin. Apparently it’s being pushed higher on the talk of a possible Bitcoin ETF in the works? Either way, I had become really disinterested in Bitcoin at the beginning of last year as the community fight about block size had totally lost me. Yet, now it seems the network is no longer under heavy load. All my recent transactions have gone through pretty quickly. Of course, there are still apparently even tech writers who have no clue what Bitcoin is or why it is useful. Remember, if you like what we do here, you can donate to Postlibertarian with the Bitcoin address at the bottom of the sidebar!

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