Friday, May 05, 2006

A great article over at TCSdaily (formerly TechCentralStation) about why socialism isn't dead yet:

What mattered for Sorel, in both cases, is not the scientific truth or falsity of the myth believed in, but what believing in the myth does to the lives of those who have accepted it, and who refuse to be daunted by the repeated failure of their apocalyptic expectations. How many times have Christians in the last two thousand years been convinced that the Second Coming was at hand, only to be bitterly disappointed -- yet none of these disappointments was ever enough to keep them from holding on to their great myth. So, too, Sorel argued, the myth of socialism will continue to have power, despite the various failures of socialist experiments, so long as there are revolutionaries who are unwilling to relinquish their great myth. That is why he rejected scientific socialism -- if it was merely science, it lacked the power of a religion to change individual's lives.

Not sure if I agree with the socialism-as-myth meme for why it's taking so long to die, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

Also good from TCS, thoughts on the rampant idiocy on Capitol Hill about high gas prices:

Democrats favor higher gasoline taxes and higher gasoline prices -- except when gasoline prices are high. While claiming concern about rising levels of CO2, they demand gasoline price caps to "protect consumers." Don't they understand that high gas prices provide the best incentive to transition to more environmentally friendly fuels? Democrats who object to higher gas prices simply aren't serious about dealing with climate change.

Republicans favor letting oil markets "work" -- except when gasoline prices are high. Don't they understand the cure for higher prices is -- higher prices? Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) threatens a "windfall profits" tax on "excessive" oil company profits. Hey Arlen, been there, done that.

If he needs a reminder of the sorry history of this policy, here's one from Nobel Laureate economist Thomas Schelling before the Joint Economic Committee in 1979. He explains the counter-productive incentives this policy creates:

"Any windfall profits tax ... is ... like the IRS treatment of casino gains and losses. The government proposes to capture only the 'excessive profits' of the lucky strikes.... If you gamble ... and win ... the IRS will share your winnings with you, and indeed the bigger you win, the higher the share the IRS takes. If you lose, you lose alone; the IRS neither commiserates nor shares in your loss.... This is a sure way to discourage risky enterprises.... We want people to ... risk capital in the search for new petroleum, and in the development of new technologies for liquid fuel."


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