And We Have a Winner

Jonathan Dingel of Exploit the Worker just won himself a donut. He points us to this to answer my challenge to find the obligatory broken window fallacy in the wake of the horrific tsunami. From the Daily Breeze:

The regions hurt most by the tsunami did not have much in the way of heavy industry, and many people there lived off the land as farmers and fishermen.

Still, while the cleanup from the devastation will be a daunting task, the resulting economic activity might actually be a boon for the region, said Kathy Bostjancic, a senior economist at Merrill Lynch. With the expected outpouring of economic aid for rebuilding, the economies of the affected countries could actually rise.

Many countries have already pledged millions of dollars in aid to the region. And the World Bank likely will redirect money from existing projects to provide immediate assistance for reconstruction.

(Note to self: never employ the services of Merrill Lynch.)

Jonanthan thinks maybe this isn't exactly the BWF because of all the foreign aid, but I disagree. It doesn't matter if the money comes from foreign aid or the villagers themselves; think of where they could be with all the aid and no destructive tsunami.

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Update: Chris Westley of the Mises Institute has more.

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So is there a way in which

So is there a way in which you understand libertarianism by which this rule is libertarian?

I favor a broad definition of libertarianism that includes both minarchists and anarchists, consequentialists and deontologists. It's more of a family resemblance than a strict category, but a good rule of thumb is "one who favors much smaller government than we have now." There are certain issues that serve as useful indicators of non-libertarian status, including, but not limited to: enthusiastic support for the drug war, enthusiastic support for perpetual war for perpetual peace, and socialized healthcare. I'm sure I could think of some more if I spend enough time at it. I don't think I've encountered any people who support these positions and consider themselves or are considered by others to be libertarians.

It seems to me that your endorsement of such a rule demonstrates that you are primarily a utilitarian and that any overlap with libertarianism is really coincidental. You are for the maximization of outcome for collective man, period.

Perhaps, although I should note that I started out as a deontological libertarian and only later became a consequentialist libertarian. Of course, consequentialists make the same criticism of deontological libertarians; that is, that they are "fence straddlers" when it comes to the happy coincidence of natural rights and desirable outcomes. If deontological libertarians truly believed that libertarianism would result in hell on earth, I seriously doubt very many of them, including yourself, would remain libertarians.

I also suspect that the

I also suspect that the optimum strategy for “maximization of outcome for collective man” and the optimum strategy for “maximizing individual liberty” are the same.

Yup.

So is the rule libertarian

So is the rule libertarian by your understanding of libertarianism or not?

I don't know why you post paragraphs of clarifications without addressing the simple question posed.

No more and no less

No more and no less libertarian than a rule which states that those who drive on the wrong side of the private road will be fined. I wouldn't be willing to pay for your proposed rule, since I don't see how it would benefit me, and I don't think very many other people would be willing to pay for such a rule either. I don't think such a rule is likely, but it is a logically possible outcome of a free-market legal system. The system itself is biased towards libertarian results, but not all of the rules produced by such a system promote individual liberty or good net consequences.

"No more and no less

"No more and no less libertarian than a rule which states that those who drive on the wrong side of the private road will be fined."

Swell. So is it a libertarian rule or not?

If you don't want to answer the question just say so, there's no need to bother with more paragraphs of "clarifications" which don't answer the question.

"I wouldn’t be willing to pay for your proposed rule, since I don’t see how it would benefit me, and I don’t think very many other people would be willing to pay for such a rule either. I don’t think such a rule is likely, but it is a logically possible outcome of a free-market legal system."

You said above you would certainly favor the rule.

So is it a libertarian rule

So is it a libertarian rule or not?

I did answer; it's just not a yes or no question for me. Is a rule which states that those who drive on the wrong side of the private road will be fined a libertarian rule or not? It may be a wise rule or a foolish rule, but there's nothing particularly libertarian or anti-libertarian about it.

The same is true with laws permitting torture under certain circumstances.

You said above you would

You said above you would certainly favor the rule.

That doesn't mean I'd be willing to pay for it if I didn't think it benefited me personally. I'd both favor and be willing to pay for a law permitting the killing of innocents to save, say, ten times more innocents, because the odds would be in my favor. Unless I'm Bill Gates or someone equally wealthy relative to everyone else, it is not in my interest to pay for your proposed law.

I favor the rule only in the sense that I don't rule it out on principle and accept the possibility that under the circumstances you decribe, where it somehow leads to favorable social consequences (still not clear how), I would favor it. Whether I would pay for it myself is a different matter.