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Well that, and possibly other things.


The obvious lesson is that the government needs to mandate the purchase and wearing of jet packs. Why? Externalities. One, by forcing everyone to buy a jet pack, we are going to bend the cost curve. Firms will be able to reap economies of scale and the efficiency gains will be enormous. Secondly, when people are selfish and don't buy a jet pack, and then get injured or killed, we have to pay for it. By mandating the purchase of jet packs we are eliminating the free riders.

Next thing will be for the "social critics" to argue that "global warming" or "climate change" was the cause of the Japanese earthquake.

And, therefore, "man" caused this terrible tragedy.

And if it is pointed out there were far more severe earthquakes before "man" noticeably began to influence the environment, surely the response will be that all such earlier natural disasters was "nature's" anticipation of man's effect on the planet. Nature's "early warning system."

Richard Ebeling

It will also probably cause angst among one's liberal pals at the party the fact that because Japan is wealthier than Haiti, the number of dead will probably be far fewer than died in Haiti after its far less powerful event.

that took me a second. Yep, good point.

james - forgive me for being dense, but isn't that common sense? why would that infuriate liberals? do you think liberals are unaware that wealth provides better infrastructure and building standards in Japan than in Haiti?

Because liberals would consider it to be unfair. The rich Japanese should have suffered just as much as the poor Haitians. That is their peculiar pathology.

Troy -
Well, you mean that the poor Haitians should suffer as (relatively) little as the Japanese.

Again - I would hope THAT wish wouldn't be restricted to liberals!!

I'd like to think that the optimal number of nuclear meltdowns is close to zero, though.

To be serious, the problem is the word optimal. Normal people interpret it as "good." The Roman God Jupiter -- optimus, maximus -- the best and the greatest, is no mere constrained maximum.

Of course, everything is constrained in some sense. But since we do live in the best of all possible worlds (especially if it is the only possible world), it is no use getting upset.

Had enough, now?

I have to agree with Daniel here. Not one left-liberal of my acquaintance had any problem accepting the general idea that higher levels of wealth mean better protection against natural disaster, thus the difference in death rates came as no surprise to them.

How one achieves that growth and the causes of Haiti's poverty are the questions at issue.

You know Steve, what they're going to have a problem with is the suggestion that there are will-independent reasons why Japan is wealthier than Haiti. Of course, you'll have the same problem, right?

Of course any sensible person accepts the general idea that higher levels of wealth mean better protection. The problem is that the left see that as unfair. It would be fine if that resulted in their wanting policies put in place to enrich the poor. What we too often see, though is a certain disappointment in their inablility to feel schadenfreude when the rich don't suffer as much. And this isn't all leftists -- and most have enough decency to not mention this in mixed company -- but look for the articles. It's a little early yet, and the disaster is still taking place, but if history is any indication, you can expect to see the articles talking about how unfair it is that the Japanese are recovering so much faster than the Haitians.

It *is* unfair, Troy. The question is, to quote a famous figure from "the left," What is to be done? Liberal solutions work best to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. No other reason for supporting liberalism is any good.

I think I get your point, Steve, but isn't there ambiguity in your statement of it? You know: Once the quaking begins, we hope no building collapses. In that sense, zero *is* the optimal number. Presumably, you are suggesting that it would not have been a good idea to tear down every old building not up to code and stuff like that. But you may have invited ungenerous or silly readers to think that you are, I dunno, saying that we need to sacrifice some quake victims to "the economy" or some other dreadful thing that you, Steve, would never really say or think.

I have to agree with Troy, the libs, the ones I know anyway, will say thing like: It's unfair. As a colleague of mine once said: Fair is a place where children take their pigs to be judged. If Steve wants to piss off party guests, I suggest trying this definition of "fair."


In your sense, it is unfair. It is quite unfair that some people are oppressed by illiberal regimes and laws, thus keeping them in such poverty. But that, I'm afraid, is not what the left will mean by it.

What liberals claim is that "good government regulations" diminished the death toll.

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