Tag Archives: war

Five Rules for Going to War

Chris Preble explains the five basic rules for going to war. Libya fails on at least four of them.

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Who Says Economists Are Selfish?

And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety.

-Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, p. 25.

That sentence is more important to understanding how markets work than most people realize. The ability to feel empathy is part of what makes us human. It is also what makes market economies possible.

Without empathy, killing the customer would be at least as common as serving him. Mutual exchange — trade — is an act of peace. That wouldn’t be possible without the human ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes and feel for them. After all, it’s a lot easier to hit someone and take their stuff. And yet few people do. Empathy is a big reason why.

Adam Smith was one perceptive guy. Others have filled in gaps in his thought, and proven him wrong on some details. That does not take away from the fact that he was as perceptive as any thinker in history.

Time to Leave Afghanistan

Bill Easterly’s surprisingly Hayekian take on Afghanistan is worth a read:

News sources say that President Obama will choose “escalate” with additional troops for Afghanistan in his speech at West Point tonight. I and many like-minded individuals find this disastrous.

“Like-minded” means that critics of top-down state plans for economic development are also not fans of top-down state plans for military development. If the Left likes the first, and the Right likes the second, that just shows you how incoherent Left and Right are.

Regulation of the Day 46: Chemical Weapons

If your company exports chemical weapons, make sure you keep good records. Every year, on company letterhead, you have to list ten things for the government. This includes which chemicals you exported, in what quantities, to whom, etc.

Reasonable enough. Chemical weapons in the wrong hands could pose a legitimate security threat. And supplying people with the means to kill other people is, shall we say, ethically dubious.

Still, the sixth item of our ten struck me as superfluous: “Purpose (end-use) of export.” This is rather obvious, is it not?