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  • More on the CPSIA

    Posted by David Foster on March 6th, 2009 (All posts by )

    Yesterday’s WSJ has another article on the damage done by this irresponsible legislation.

    Don’t kid yourself that–just because you’re not in the toy business, or a science kit manufacturer, or a children’s clothing maker, or a thrift shop owner, or a homecrafter–this doesn’t have anything to do with you. Whatever your livelihood may be, there are plenty of Congressmen who would casually destroy it for the sake of a photo-op. And in the current political climate, such destruction will become more and more common.

     

    14 Responses to “More on the CPSIA”

    1. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Yes – indeed, they would indeed casually destroy your livelihood, and the livelihoods of thousands like you, for the sake of a photo op, and to be seen as ‘progressive’ and making a show of ‘saving the cheeeeeeldren’. More and more, I am wondering if our political class gives a damn about anything but being re-elected, and of holding on to the spoils that they have clawed to themselves. Let the rest of the US go down – they’ve got theirs, Jack.

    2. david foster Says:

      A fundamental psychological error of many “progressives,” and even many old-line liberals, is to view government as an idealized parent, rather than understanding that it is composed of people–appointed officials and permanant employees, as well as elected officials–who are pursuing their own desires for status, adulation, money, and security. Many of them are of course also motivated by a desired to “do good” for people, however they define that good, but humans usually have a well-tuned ability to adjust their definition of “doing good” to encompass whatever means “doing well” for them personally.

      I don’t think there’s any reason whatsoever to believe that the average government official or worker is any more altruistic than the average corporate official or worker, although the mix of personal desires may vary, with the elected officials being high on the need for status and adulation and the permanant workers being high on the need for security.

    3. Cynthia Broockman Says:

      Where is Ross Perot when you need him? He is still making charts! God bless him.
      See http://www.perotcharts.com

      PLEASE HELP with our battle to amend the CPSIA. Visit our site and click to send email letters to Congress in support of the three bills lanquishing in Waxman and Pryor’s committees that would help us: S374, HR1027 and HR968.

      CALL – ONE MINUTE IT TAKES – Rep John Dingell who is questioning all the problems with the law and the severe economic impact of it and wants to hold hearings. We need support. You’ll probably get an answering machine – who cares – leave a brief message of support for his activities re CPSIA at (202) 225-4071.

      For the BEST background and current information on how this law is impacting thousands and thousands go to Walter Olsen’s (Manhattan Institute) http://www.overlawyered.com – he’s written for Forbes etc.

      If Congress can screw up so many industries, work at home mom businesses, charities, thrifts, libraries etc in 67 pages – imagine how badly the ‘stimulus’ thousand pages are going to work out.

      PLEASE – ONE MINUTE OF YOUR TIME?

    4. renminbi Says:

      Legislators should be held directly responsible for their work product, not that the political science types would ever have anything useful to say on that.
      Allow RESPONSIBLE ADULTS to sit on special panels to evaluate laws passed. If a majority concludes that a law is contrary to the public they nullify the law and censure those who voted for it. Three censures and you are expelled from the legislature.

      This is what would empower the people- elections give our ruling classs a false cloak of legitimacy. By the way that is a game which is getting past its sell by date.

    5. seanf Says:

      >>A fundamental psychological error of many “progressives,” and even many old-line liberals, is to view government as an idealized parent, rather than understanding that it is composed of people–appointed officials and permanant employees, as well as elected officials–who are pursuing their own desires for status, adulation, money, and security.

      David, do you have any objective (i.e. non-anecdotal) evidence for this remarkable assertion? I find it so far removed from my own experience – and I know quite a few progressives being one myself – I’m having difficulty crediting it.

      The best I can do for your statement is that many progressive economists and political scientists are reluctant to support any “strong” version of public choice theory. But arguing that full-fledged public choice fails to take into account the non-rational bases of much human decision-making is a very long way from viewing the government as an “idealized parent.”

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      seanF,

      But arguing that full-fledged public choice fails to take into account the non-rational bases of much human decision-making is a very long way from viewing the government as an “idealized parent.”

      I don’t think you understand what public choice theory is. See our previous discussion. You using “rational” in the conventional sense, not the sense its used in public choice theory.

      I find it so far removed from my own experience – and I know quite a few progressives being one myself – I’m having difficulty crediting it

      Fish aren’t aware of water. Just because you don’t think that is what you’re doing doesn’t mean that isn’t what you are in fact doing. I would point out that leftist have a long history assigning intellectual faults and pathologies to non-leftist so turn about is far play. Certainly, the idea of the state as a substitution for family is not a novel concept. David Foster is correct in that leftist view government as always correct without considering that the individuals involved in government have their own personal motives for what they do apart from their stated ideals.

      In this case, leftists assume that, since the stated goal is to protect children at an acceptable tradeoff in cost to the economy and jobs, that therefore that is what the legislation and its bureaucratic implementation will in fact do. Big mistake.

    7. David Foster Says:

      seanf…”the non-rational bases of much human decision-making”…rational or non-rational action is assessed in the context of the individual’s goal. If you’re a Congressman who has a strong need for status, but doesn’t really care much about the effectivness of education, it could be very *rational* for you to vote to demolish the DC Charter School program (all the while talking piously about “the children”) if it means you will get certain large contributions which will help guarantee your reelection.

    8. sol vason Says:

      No one should be allowed to be an elected official or an employee of any government or any NGO unless he or she can produce a certificate from an independent testing laboratory that it is impossible that he or she could ever harm a child.

    9. seanf Says:

      Shannon:

      It’s possible I don’t understand what “rational” in economics means, but it’s unlikely. I do have an undergraduate degree in economics and while my recall of detail is imperfect, I do remember the basic elements of rational activity such as invariant preference or the preservation of transitivity.

      I’ll restate: the point I was making is not that people are irrational in general. It’s that people are “irrational” in the sense that any attempt to model them fails. Initially it was thought that was because the models don’t capture all the costs and benefits. Now it’s thought that even if the model could perfectly capture the preference function, it would still fail because of cognitive bias: people don’t always act in accordance with their preference functions.

      When you don’t understand someone, it’s possible that they are considering something you missed. That’s why I asked David for some proof: he may know something about progressives that I do not.

      My meta-point is that you are making assumptions leftists and progressives in the U.S. that is not based on factual evidence but (presumably?) on personal experience or reasoning. 30 years of being in the political wilderness have prevented progressives from acquiring a taste for that particular luxury.

      A Bush aide derisively referred to liberals as the “reality-based community” in 2004. That’s a badge we wear with pride. I’m sure that being in power (especially if Obama is successful) will result in our losing touch with reality at some point – such is the nature of power and the reality of human arrogance. But right now, I think the people clinging to ideology and refusing to look at facts are conservatives, not progressives.

      And not just in the US: I have two words for you “Iceland banking.” That’s what happens when a country is led by someone whose personal hero is Hayek. Ideology is no match for reality. Not even close.

      David: yes, that is what I meant. of course the Congressman should vote against it if he experiences personal gain from doing so. I think everyone understands this – this isn’t a controversial statement. In the context of your post, that means the pro-CPSIA lobby is currently stronger. What’s wrong with that? We live in a democracy.

    10. Political Blog Says:

      I usually don

    11. david foster Says:

      seanf…to be more precise, I am saying that “rationality” in the economic sense refers to the choice of means in pursuing one’s goals and is silent on the choice of goals itself. I certainly do not mean that all goals are equal and that the choice is arbitrary. If a Congressman disregards the actual effectiveness of education policy and votes only according to optimize his electoral chances, he is IMNSHO a rotten SOB.

      I hope you don’t really mean to say that any cause that has the stronger lobby is automatically right.

    12. Mrs. Davis Says:

      He does. He’s a democrat.

    13. Shannon Love Says:

      seanF,

      That’s why I asked David for some proof: he may know something about progressives that I do not

      What exact proof are you looking for? We’re making an argument based on cognitive models of causality i.e. how a person believes that ‘A’ causes ‘B’.

      In this case, we’re examining the cognitive models that leads leftist to believe that (1) government almost always makes better decisions than private actors and (2) that if the government made a decisions, then it must be the correct one. In this case that (1) the government can accurately balance the tradeoffs in consumer safety and (2) that since the government made this particular decision that it must be the correct one and that anyone who says otherwise wants children to die.

      Since children trust their parents to make decisions in the child’s best interest, advancing a cognitive model in which leftist view the state as a trusted parent is not an unreasonable explanation. Leftist reflexively trust the government just like a child reflexively trust a parent.

      I personally don’t think this model has much power but you’ve never really said what you find wrong with the model beyond that you, personally, do not believe you act like that.

      People make decisions for reasons of causality. Their models of causality are very complex. People in the same political groupings share the same models of causality. I would recommend Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions or his http://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Decisions-Thomas-Sowell/dp/0465037380/ref=pd_bbs_sr_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236538628&sr=8-9“>Knowledge and Decision for detailed examinations of the history of these models of causality.

      A Bush aide derisively referred to liberals as the “reality-based community” in 2004.

      Well, actually, the “reality” of the matter is that Ron Suskind claimed that an unidentified Bush aide said:

      The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      Now, does that sound like anything you’ve ever heard any conservative say? Have you ever heard a conservative say something like “we create our own reality”? For that matter, did you ever hear anyone in the Bush administrations refer to America as an “empire”? Given how utterly out of character for a conservative the unsourced quote is, should a “reality based” person take the quote seriously? Isn’t more likely that Suskind heard what he wanted to hear in the midst of some other point the anonymous source was trying to make?

      Doesn’t the fact that the left so whole heatedly adopted the model of Suskind’s model of the Bush’s administration based on one unsourced quote suggest that you are prone to self-serving fantasies?

      If you look at history, it is the left that embraces fantasy after fantasy while plodding non-leftist try to keep things grounded. Was Marxism or Freudism grounded in reality? Was the idea that the people of Cambodia would be better off under Pol Pot grounded in reality? Was the windfall profits tax grounded in reality. I could go on on.

      Is it not the left that constantly claims we can do anything we want if we just try hard enough while non-leftist point out all the practical difficulties involved? Are not leftist always claiming we can easily and quickly solve almost all our problems merely by adopting some new and unproven methods or technology? For example, who is it that says we should base our entire energy policy upon unproven solar and wind power? In the energy debate, who talks about the dream and who talks ugly reality?

      But right now, I think the people clinging to ideology and refusing to look at facts are conservatives, not progressives.

      The financial collapse was created by the financial markets underestimating the risk of residential mortgages. Freddie Mac and the other GSEs at the heart of the crisis were created by the left precisely to cause the market to underestimate the risk of residential mortgages. Yet, progressive claim that the free-market failed. Is that looking at facts. If the progressives were correct, should not the GSEs who operated under custom laws have stood as finacial rocks in the sea of free-market collapse?

    14. seanf Says:

      Shannon,

      Apologies in advance for somewhat flogging a dead horse. I thought I should respond since you put effort into your post above, and deserve a response.

      I did write one, but then read something by Digby today that says what I would say, only better, albeit unfortunately in more partisan language than I would use.

      But to the extent possible, ignore her partisanship and focus on the facts: why has no respectable economist lifted a finger to defend Shlaes’ attack on the New Deal? why is it so important for today’s conservative movement that Shlaes be right? And why the obsession with being right – rather than with the often impure, rarely simple truth?

      it’s very hard to get rid of sacred cows when the conservative movement denies the existence of said cows in the first place.

      http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/continuing-assault-on-reason-by-digby.html

      finally: I don’t think that Burke or Kirk would find today’s conservative movement especially conservative. one Burkean principle I’ve always respected is an essential humility: no-one has a monopoly on the truth, it’s folly to try to establish one. I don’t know that today’s conservatives practice that principle.

      when it comes to unquestioning faith in unregulated free markets, kirk’s distinction between ideology and principle is also useful. ideologies fail you, principles do not.