Saturday, September 01, 2012

Comfortable assumptions

Writing in the September, 20120, Commentary, Joseph Epstein (full text gated) notes, "... the comfortable assumption that political liberalism and moral goodness are one and the same."  It is a clear and simple description of most of the people I encounter, in person or via their writing.

Dan Klein writes about "The Forsaken-Liberty Syndrome: Looking at Published Judgments to Say Whether Economists Reach a Conclusion."  He contrasts the on-record conclusions by economists addressing key policy issues in their research on eleven specific issues with opinions on these eleven voiced by economists at-large. Klein describes these contrasts in terms of what is revealed about at-large economists' attitudes toward liberty.  He asks:  "Does the set [of eleven essays] serve as meta-evidence of a forsaken-liberty syndrome wherein liberalization finds more consistent support among on-record economists than at-large economists?"

I think that the Epstein description fits the at-large economists Klein describes. Attachment to vague notions of moral goodness comes easy when we are comfortable assuming that our liberty has been secured.