I'll be hanging out here at the appointed time, to discuss any of my recent articles, my work at FEE, the past and future of FEE, strategies for liberty, or anything else on your mind.
Do you think humans will ever colonize other planets?
In my lifetime? No. Plus I'm not sure I even see the point. It's not like we are running out of room here. Fly coast to coast and look down. Seems like hardly anyone even lives in the United States. This is my issue with immigration restrictions. Seems crazy even to talk about it given the sheer size of the US. There are several planets right here waiting to be colonized, e.g. Wyoming.
Which of your bowties is your favorite?
Also, how do we encourage liberty-lovers in our lives to focus on the positives and not devolve into angry, screaming internet trolls?
My favorite bowtie is the one Murray Rothbard gave me. I consider it lucky. It also happens to be very beautiful!
Libertarianism usually begins in anger -- at everything. The trick is to move beyond this and find out what it is we love, and then find that all around us. For the psychological health of libertarians, this is crucial.
If artificial intelligence advances to the point where it is better at nearly every job than human workers, would you support a universal basic income?
The UBI would be ridiculously expensive, destroy entry-level jobs, and dramatically change many life incentives for young people. If we ever get to the point in which the political system is adaptable enough to implement a UBI, we should seize the opportunity to abolish the whole of the transfer state.
1. Why is higher education so expensive? My research has pointed anywhere between the Department of Education, to some how linking veterans and the G.I. Bill to rising costs of tuition. Is this true?
2. What will happen if the government completely dismantles Obamacare? Will the health system collapse entirely?
3. Does OPEC set the prices for oil, or does the market set the prices? What will happen when the Keystone Pipeline is complete? Should the individuals see a drop in oil prices, or will individuals see a price increase?
4. For small businesses, what is a good prediction that small "mom and pop" shops will be able to stay open? I have been reading that minimum wage laws, and Obamacare have been hurting small businesses.
5. How long will it take for the US market to recover from the damage of Obamacare if it does get dismantled?
I wouldn't doubt it but there are so many interventions. What we need is a real market, meaning no public universities to compete with private ones. Then we will start to see innovations and falling prices.
Absolutely not. I would love to see 100 years of interventions ended. Health care access would be like access to groceries, shoes, and software -- available to all and subject to the beautiful dynamism of market forces.
OPEC doesn't set prices; the market does. OPEC control is mostly illusory. The Keystone Pipeline will increase supply and put downward pressure on prices. What worries me is this Trump mandate that all building materials must come from the US. Talk about a market distortion.
The minimum wage is ghastly for small businesses, which is one reason that big box stores tend to support them. The same is true of Obamacare. What DC calls the "stakeholder" businesses are usually just cronies.
If the whole thing were REALLY dismantled? I would give it 30 days. We would see amazing things happen. There is a huge and lucrative market for health services that is just waiting to be untethered.
Given that you often use film as a lens through which to explore liberty, what films are you most looking forward too this summer season?
I look forward to all movies that are made for and marketed to adolescent audiences. They typically contain more truth that movies made for adults.
Which 1990s film would people be surprised you have not seen? When are you planning on seeing it?
I'm on a personal campaign to catch up on all unseen classics. I recently saw My Cousin Vinny (loved it!), as well as Apocalypse Now and Fight Club. So many glorious evenings await!
Which current pop star do you think will have a Madonna-long career trajectory?
No question that Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga keep defying expectations. Why? They are adaptable artists, and they never stop marketing themselves and staying ahead of the curve. There's a lesson in this for all of us!
Who are the most liberty-loving Disney characters and what can we learn from them?
oh wow, I adored Frozen. I love how Anna really stuck by her sister Elsa, never giving up on her and always hoped and worked for her to discover a path forward. It was beautiful. I personally thanked her for this when I met the REAL Anna in Disneyworld.
What distinguishes classical liberalism from neoliberalism?
Liberalism desires a state that is neutral to social and economic outcomes, not a state that has a particular aspiration for the path of social evolution. Neoliberalism wants to game the results to favor Liberalism but this is deeply dangerous. Neoliberalism only ends in creating an invasive managerial state. That is not liberty.
To what extent do you think cultural and religious identity affect intellectual development?
Cultural and religious identity surely have some influence, but you know what has more? The institutions that shaped our daily lives. Commerce and economic opportunity have a much larger and longer term influence over our intellectual development, because they provide real-time experience in person-to-person engagement. This is one reasons that Marxists and Fascists hate the market: it breaks down identity politics. As they say, it "deracinates" us. That's a good thing.
How does one use an internship to create a job offer?
Be as awesome as possible. Be open to learning. Be a good colleague. Get stuff done. Do everything as well as possible. Be available nights and weekends. Avoid all office politics. Do these things and you will be gold.
I have 2 questions:
1. What is your opinion regarding sanctuary cities?
2. Do you think that the U.S. visa system is outdated?
Thanks so much!
My view is that any city should be free to declare itself a sanctuary city. The idea of sanctuary has a brilliant and beautiful history in the liberal idea. It declares: the state may not enter here!
The US visa system is preposterous, as is our entire system for immigration and emigration. My ideal is the 19th century: no passports, no visas, freedom of movement for everyone. The private sector can handle the rest.
How can someone get involved in helping broaden the discussion to include these classically liberal/libertarian ideas? I am struggling to figure out how to make an imapct furthering these ideals.
I totally get it. Everything about our political system is structured to make us feel powerless. I suggest finding ways to exercise control in your own life. Nothing is more important. Politics, then, is mostly a distraction from this path. Once that is in place, your awareness of how you in particular can make a different in society follows organically. Skipping these steps is psychologically dangerous.
How can we better tailor our promotion of economic freedom to the right and the left? It seems that the basic premises their ideas are based on are fundamentally different, so how can be better promote economic freedom to them with that in mind?
My answer: always speak with honesty, integrity, benevolence, and rationality. We can be the cool heads in a world gone mad. In this sense, we become models for out to think, speak, and act. I believe that this is the way forward. It gives us the greatest possible for success over the long term.
There are lots of smart, thoughtful intellectuals with carefully considered but wide-ranging views, and you are but one of them. Do you take seriously the possibility that you are wrong about liberty, the state, or anything else?
Your question is wonderful. After many years of thought, I come to realize that the strongest case for freedom rests on epistemic humility. It is precisely because we do not know that we desperately need to maintain the freedom to discover. As Hayek says, if we already knew the results of freedom, we wouldn't need it. This is why I'm against statism: it freezes human action based on an arrogant belief that we know what is right. The truth is that we do not know how to structure society. Considering that we might be wrong is the best case I can think of for liberalism. And of the things I'm sure, I would count this: institutionalized violence is not the way forward for society at large.
Why do you wear bowties, and should I?
I wear bowties because it keeps my tie out of my soup. If you don't eat soup, there is no reason for a bowtie.
You wrote above: "Libertarianism usually begins in anger -- at everything." Could you elaborate?
Maybe not universal but there is this tendency. Look at the forums, the rallies, the Google groups, and so on. Anger is the main emotion. Anger inspires, motivates, awakens. Many people come to these ideas based on anger. Truly a passion for justice and anger (even hate) at injustice is good and right. But it can't stop there. It must point to some just aspiration, something beautiful, or else this anger can become destructive. I believe this is one reason we've seen so much leakage from the liberty world to the alt-right. Many activists never really rooted their ideology in a beautiful vision of the good life.
Who influenced your writing style the most, and what was the most crucial factor in your development as a writer?
Any tips to go from average to Oscar Wilde?
Interesting. My biggest influences, probably, have been Rothbard, Garet Garret (love!), Nock (no one can write like that), and Oscar of course. Oscar is my go to in order to re-find my center and voice. wow, he is just the best.
What should I do when I grow up?
You must keep being exactly your awesome self and then you will be enormously successful in every way.
Hi Jeffrey - what are some of your favorite hobbies outside of promoting liberty?
Hi Jeffrey - what do you enjoy doing in your free time when you're not busy promoting liberty?
I love movies, endless amounts of music (Mahler and 16th century polyphony), and, lately, bird watching. I also love going to thrift stores and generally poking around commercial districts to observe all the awesome things people are selling to people to improve life.
Sometimes truth is best couched in fiction. Have you ever considered writing a fiction novel?
My brain is not really wired properly to write fiction, poetry, or music. Don't know why!
What are the biggest intellectual revelations you've experienced in the past five years or so?
Let's see. In five years. Probably Hayek has helped me more than anyone during this time. He really reshaped the foundational principles of my core anti-statism. I've also massively improved my understanding of the libertarian tradition, realizing that it extends much farther back in time. Another subject that has fascinated me is the status of knowledge (or ideas) in the evolution of social order and how different these "things" are from physical material. Herein we find the possibility of infinite progress. Another subject: I've been absolutely amazed to discover the roots of 20th century statism in racism and misogyny. That's been a mind blowing thing to learn!
On the negative side, I've been very saddened to watch the apostasy of so many one-time libertarians and their turn to neo-fascist thinking. I think this is due to intellectual superficiality. And it's one reason I've spent so much time explaining the origins of right-wing collectivism.
Which is better paisley or pinstripes?
Paisley is romantic. Pinstripes are rational. We desperately need both rationality and romance to have a good life.
What are your views on cloning? What about from a moral perspective?
The human moral sense evolves with times, circumstances, and technology, which call forth new cultural longings and result in new and improved norms in light of the existing consensus. I assume that this will also be the case with cloning (and other areas of life such as animal rights). I skeptical of any attempt to impose a moral doctrine before its time, based on rational principles and so on. I just don't think we can script much less foresee this. In short, I think humanity will figure this one out in time.
You and I did a debate in front of an audience on Auburn's campus in April 2015 where we debated whether or not we should use the political process to bring about change. During the debate you said that if you had to choose between Ron Paul and Hillary Clinton, you would vote for Clinton because it would expedite the fall of the state whereas electing Ron would be a temporary fix that might restore people's faith in the state.
A year and a half later, you did everything short of officially campaigning for Gary Johnson. How do you reconcile "abandoning your principles" because of the choices we were faced with this election cycle when not long before you held such "purist" beliefs?
Can I give a weasely answer? There is probably some ideal balance here. At this point, I'm 90% education and 10% politics. Getting this reversed creates nothing but frustration. For example, I'm pretty sure my brief foray into politics did nothing for human liberty, sadly. As is often said, political outcomes are downstream from culture.
That said, I am daily thrilled about the House's Freedom Caucus! Wow!
Do you believe open borders should be a global policy even though certain countries do much more for their poor in the form of welfare and to what extent do you think welfare acts as a draw for people looking to emigrate from their home country?
I would love it to be a global policy. Welfare acts as less a draw to immigration than a source of economic stagnation once people are here. It has been a disaster in Europe for example. Welfare also gives rise to anti-immigrant feelings, which, to me, makes a strong case against redistribution. I seriously doubt that this country would have an anti-immigration movement of any size were it not for the perception that they are leeching off the natives. It might not be true, but people are always looking for scapegoats to account for why their income is being pillaged.
Going off the lovely question above about the spectrum of briliant thinkers: why do you think you came to the conclusions that you did? Do you think one's political philosophy is something intrinsic?
For me, it came down to the question: what makes the world wonderful? I just wanted to know. Liberty was the most compelling answer I encountered.
Many of our belief structures might be intrinsic but I seriously doubt that this one is. Liberty is inclusive of all value systems and cultures.
What do you think is the long-range fate of a nation guided by one-person one-vote democracy?
It entirely depends on what is up for vote. With a constitution and stable rule of law, there is nothing to fear from one person, one vote. If there is no limit to the state, that's a problem regardless of the voting schema.