Wednesday, August 27, 2008


What can you say about people who get teary-eyed at a political convention? The TV camera people found a few of these at the Democrats' convention and they will probably find some at the Republicans' convention next week.

Hayek had some things to say about dangerous confusions when we mix up the "micro-cosmos" (he referred to families, tribes, extended families, etc.) and the "macro-cosmos" (he referred to wider civilization). The rules and norms that work in one do not work in the other. The market works for us by harnessing and organizing the incentives of very large numbers of strangers. But this is not how allocations within families work. Likewise, it is futile and dangerous to think of the larger society as a family. At worst, we look for (and find) a pater familius. The history of these quests is ugly.

This week's Becker-Posner blog includes speculations on why most of the members of the entertainment industry are on the political left. One of Posner's points is that people with little depth are drawn to extremes and left-extreme views are more palatable than right-extreme views.

Perhaps. But this brings me back to the teary-eyed. It seems that they are confused in ways that Hayek recognized. This is why the political platforms ring with promises to help all of those who are (or feel they are) down and out. Creepy.