Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Considering themselves wise . . .

Robin Hanson celebrates 9-11:

In the decade since 9/11 over half a billion people have died worldwide. A great many choices could have delayed such deaths, including personal choices to smoke less or exercise more, and collective choices like allowing more immigration. And cryonics might have saved most of them.

Yet, to show solidarity with these three thousand victims, we have pissed away three trillion dollars ($1 billion per victim), and trashed long-standing legal principles. And now we’ll waste a day remembering them, instead of thinking seriously about how to save billions of others. I would rather we just forgot 9/11.

Do I sound insensitive? If so, good — 9/11 deaths were less than one part in a hundred thousand of deaths since then, and don’t deserve to be sensed much more than that fraction. If your feelings say otherwise, that just shows how full fricking far your mind has gone.

Let’s help him out:

  • Of last decade’s half-billion dead, most succumbed to natural causes and accidents.  Don’t take it personally.
  • Of those that died by direct human agency, most shared no meaningful ties of blood, culture, or nation with us.  I wish them no ill, but I haven’t the energy to feign much sympathy.
  • Of those that were Americans, most were killed by other Americans.  These may, in fact, deserve more attention than they receive; if so, we should start by reporting them honestly.

The attacks on 9-11 were especially salient because a sizeable number of our fellow countrymen were dramatically murdered by aliens on behalf of an alien ideological agenda.  That this commands special attention among Americans is pretty basic to an understanding of human nature, and if Robin’s feelings say otherwise, that just shows how full fricking far his mind has gone.

More foolishness:

I am a proud resident of Fairfax County, in the U.S. state of Virginia. Today, I want to warn my fine fellow Fairfax folk: we interact too promiscuously with outsiders! For example, we are allowed to buy things made outside Fairfax, and leave the county to travel or work. Fairfax firms can even choose outsiders as investors, employees, and suppliers . . . .

I pretty much stopped reading right there, since I long ago outgrew a taste for comparing actual human ties and sentiments with fictitious ones.  But as long as we’re playing reductio ad absurdum, let me have a go at it:

I am a proud resident of the Hanson household.  Today, I want to warn my fine fellow Hansons:  we allow outsiders too much access to our domicile.  Non-Hansons are allowed to enter at will without so much as a by-your-leave.  They consume more of family resources than they contribute, they strain the carrying capacity of the living room sofa during “What Not to Where,” and they fail to respect household social norms like flushing the toilet and not hitting others . . . .

Once we come to see our nation as an extended family, then the sentiments of ordinary Americans become a lot more understandable, perhaps even to economists.

4 comments:

Professor Hale said...

...perhaps even to economists.

Don't count on it. They still think Keynes was the bomb.

samsonsjawbone said...

I think you unfairly dismiss some of Hanson's very good points here. Moreover:

Once we come to see our nation as an extended family, then the sentiments of ordinary Americans become a lot more understandable

The problem is that your nation is not an extended family, and there is no "ordinary American". Not anymore.

Dr. Φ said...

Samson: can you be more specific about what good points you are referring to? Because while I may agree with Hanson that two wars and TSA were the wrong response to 9/11, the right response -- border security and Muslim repatriation -- wouldn't get his endorsement either. So he doesn't get any credit.

And there are ordinary Americans, namely the majority who find the 9/11 deaths especially memorable.

sconzey said...

Once we come to see our nation as an extended family, then the sentiments of ordinary Americans become a lot more understandable, perhaps even to economists.

I'd not heard this argument before. When I was a free-trader I used to use the "My fellow citizens of Fairfax" argument quite a lot. If someone had only come at me with that witty riposte I might have been convinced sooner :P