CNN’s Poll and the Youth for Rand Paul

Youth for Rand Paul has raised the issue that a recent CNN poll may not be accurately capturing Rand Paul’s support because the poll had no respondents less than 50 years old.

Check out the PDF of the poll results:

Page 33 has “N/A” for voters under 50 years old.

Page 34 has “N/A” for voters under $50K income per year and “N/A” for voters without a college degree.

Page 35 has “N/A” for voters from the Northeast, the West, the Midwest, and voters who are Urban and Rural.

Page 35 has “N/A”  for voters who oppose the Tea Party.

So, a fair reading of these poll results is that they only represent people who live in the South, who don’t oppose the Tea Party, who make more than $50K and are over 50 years old. And they live in suburbs.

What results would we see if CNN had taken a more complete sample?

Adaptive Efficiency in Institutional Change

What I have termed adaptive efficiency is an ongoing condition in which society continues to modify or create new institutions as problems evolve…. An underlying source appears to have been the development of a set of informal institutional constraints that have been powerful restraints against rigid monopoly in all its guises.

— Douglass North, Understanding the Process of Economic Change, (p. 169)

Vice on the Oath Keepers

Vice has an interesting piece on the Oath Keepers, a militant group whose stated mission is to defend the Constitution (their focus being primarily domestic enemies).  The author, James Pogue, a self-described environmentalist who supports welfare programs, finds the Oath Keepers more open to rational dialogue than perhaps he expected.  They are hospitable to him as he visits one of their camps in the backwoods of Oregon, and he finds that he can even relate to some of their concerns, especially regarding the erosion of civil liberties since 9/11 and the bureaucratization of modern life.  At the same time, Pogue portrays the BLM officials with whom the Oath Keepers are in a standoff as mild, hapless middlemen stuck in an absurd position, not quite the fascist thugs the Oath Keepers make them out to be.

Towards the end, Pogue makes a couple of unreasonable assertions.  He says the Oath Keepers’ “frustrations have been co-opted by a corporatist ideology that has done as much as any government action to bureaucratize and regulate our lives.”  This comes across as a progressive talking point injected awkwardly into an otherwise thoughtful piece.  As for the Oath Keepers’ being “co-opted,” Pogue does mention elsewhere in the article a historical link between the Sagebrush Rebellion (explained in the article) and legislation backed by people like the Koch brothers.  It’s pretty tenuous, but there’s a kernel of truth in it in that the concerns and ideologies of conservatives and libertarians of all stripes overlap.  I don’t see that as any basis for saying that a group of men and women in an Oregon forest have been “co-opted.”  As for the idea that corporations “bureaucratize and regulate our lives,” I would certainly agree that life within corporations tends to be stifling and bureaucratic, but the difference between corporations and the government is that you don’t have to follow a corporation’s HR policies if you live in the wilderness.

Coordination in the Market and Public Squares

Update: We had a few technical difficulties, but I think we still got a lot of good ideas on tape. My pre-podcast notes are below — KDR


This post serves as my rough notes for the podcast we plan on recording tonight with Dr. Troy Camplin and Keith Parsons (and perhaps one or two other surprise guests).

We will extend our conversation from the last podcast, “Getting to the Hayekian Network” in which Camplin and I talked about how he came to study social networks from a Hayekian point of view. Camplin’s paper by the same name describes different kinds of social networks, that are broadly categorized into two kinds: hierarchical, planned organizations, and unplanned spontaneous orders.

Particularly, we’ll take a look at theoretical framework presented by Richard Wagner in his book Fiscal Sociology and a review of this book by Adam Martin.

Martin’s rendering of Wagner’s framework, which I think would be amenable to a lot of the structural characterization that Troy has in his “Getting to the Hayekian Network” paper. Three quotes:

“state” — a network of hierarchically organized enterprises that dominates the legal stewardship of the commons. By dominion I mean neither that the state controls all of the commons, nor that such control is absolute… freedom of entry into legal adjudication within the commons is effectively curtailed

In a society with a state, private adjudication may exist for contractual relations without nullifying our common sense notion that the state has a monopoly on coercion. The key is the exercise of legal dominion within the commons, where contractual relations are absent but individuals still interact.

Wagner depicts social order as an ecology of interconnected plans that originate from the market square and the public square alike. Private enterprises engage in production and exchange while public enterprises also take in and disperse tax revenue.  Out of this ecology of intersecting plans — some complementary, some rivalrous — emerge fiscal patterns of taxation and expenditure.

Adam Martin asks questions that I think will be productive starting points for our conversation about our own views of these spheres (forums) that we live inside of:

The classical liberal question: Where should the boundary be drawn between the commons and the sphere of individual autonomy?

The libertarian question: What are the dangers of a nexus of hierachically organized governmental enterprises dominating the commons?

The anarchist question: Should such a nexus exist at all?

The anarcho-capitalist question: Can the feedback generated by market processes improve legal stewardship of the commons?

Lies, Damn Lies, and Intelligence

Recently, the Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration (at least some of the administration lackeys) had been cooking the intelligence gathered by lower level agents. Or at least cooking the analysis of lower level analysts.

I think this is a pure illustration of Gordon Tullock’s brilliant analysis of Bureaucracy. Tullock argues that the larger the bureaucracy the less correspondence exists between the knowledge of the lowest level persons who are applying the policies and the administrators who are overseeing them.

I don’t think Tullock’s analysis directly captures this situation because in this story, people at the top are actively incentivizing, or communicating in some way that the actual information should not reach the top of the bureaucracy, which is of course President Obama himself. A different story should be casted and promoted.

Who are these people and why would they think such a policy would help secure the United States? Sounds like an instance of the Ostrich Effect (h/t Tom Thrasher).

Blub, Education, and Expertise

Today, I read an interesting post by computer scientist Hal Fulton on a Ruby group I follow. It reminded me of the problem of paradigmatic blinders that I wrote about several years ago on the Free Liberal blog, “Blub in America: Can We See Better Options”

I think it is a general problem that people have, not knowing what the edge of their understanding looks like and what facts or concepts lay outside that boundary. What’s outside (or above/below) conceptually is not a part of what we might call amateur or folk theorizing. Paul Graham has a great piece on it regarding software.

FA Hayek says, “The overall problem is not merely to make use of given knowledge, buy to discover as much information as is worth searching for in prevailing conditions” (The Fatal Conceit).

Search is optimization, but there is also browsing, casual learning, and arm-chair conjectures with thoughtful friends. What should we pursue and for how long? When do we know that we know enough for a given problem set, and what have we given up to find this knowledge?

I hesitate to either condemn or endorse formal education, because while I think having an expert make the yardstick of what is a sufficient and complete base of understanding, the true intellectual is always digging deeper, checking priors against new data, and opening him or herself to opportunities for transcendence. Radical personal honesty is a part of developing this character type.

Somerset Maugham tells us of the Verger and what happened when he refused to learn to read. This is a lovely film adaptation, running about 20 minutes. Dan Klein weaves the verger story into his discussion of knowledge flat-talk.

The point is that what knowledge you pursue depends on your goals. Your goals may in turn relate back to your state of knowledge. Transcending our limitations may have more to do with our institutional environment than our own thoughts and purposes, even though we probably also need good mental strategies for navigating given institutional structures. In my view, this is the purpose of education as an ongoing project — to help ourselves see new horizons.

Zero Tolerance: More feature, less bug

Hey Liberals, #IStandwithAhmed Isn’t Only About Racism. It’s About School Zero Tolerance Insanity.
There are some good points here. Though taken in whole it appears in this case overt racism and religious fear certainly did play a role.
The point of this essay can’t be underplayed enough. Part of the conversation that has developed with an eye to post-ferguson attention to judicial and police reform is the School to Prison track where zero-tolerance policies for drugs effectively foster the criminal culture around distribution and many times those first offenses put children and juveniles into the *system*.

It’s weird that the left tends to miss that the system rules are a feature not a defect of the problem. With zero tolerance policies we carve out these massive delegations of social and economic authority to unelected bureaucrats which then after can impute whatever bias they might have into the process and magnify the effect of bigotry while concealing it under the guise of following the rules.

It’s like the conversation that develops around “cops aren’t racist” well why then is there this massive statistical distortion that pretty clearly indicates instances of repeated bias?
“They’re just enforcing the law”
Well there is the problem, the laws are vague enough that we can have unarmed people gunned down on camera in broad daylight and enforcing the law is a sufficient defense to claim no wrong doing. Zero-tolerance, and aggressively enforcement schemes share a common underlying quality, that the laws cease to serve a function of offering distributional justice.

I am encouraged though the way the news of the arrest of the Ahmed in Texas has gone over elicits a weird mixture of encouragement and oddity.
Virtually everyone I’ve seen can see the obvious injustice at play. In a way though I wonder if folks will be consistent and committed enough to seriously challenge the developing security-police state.

A lot of folks focus on the religious and racial elements. I think they miss the other more foundational injustice that we have built a system with such bad rule sets as a product of the broad adoption of zero tolerance policies that they can be easily and readily perverted to destroy ingenuity and development.  Simply stating the obvious that his suspension and arrest was founded in racism isn’t enough, to successfully follow through we must understand that this is only a recent example of the perverse consequences of zero-tolerance policies and the underlying shift to a police-security state.
The suspension of Ahmed represents a kind soft tyranny of rule by bureaucratic dependents. Who needs overt fascism when we can get nitpicked, nannyed, and cajoled into compliance?


President Obama, Education Freedom President?

President Obama has made two broad strokes for education freedom lately. He stood up against the political correctness/trigger warning crowd by saying, “That’s not how we learn.” Today, he invited to the White House Ahmed Mohammed, the Dallas teen bullied by idiotic school officials and sheriff deputies, “It looks like a movie bomb to me.”

But will President Obama embrace school choice?

He hasn’t been the greatest supporter of education choice here in DC.