Barnstar for WP:Economics, but awarded to thos...

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James DeLong is an Austrian School economist who lives most of the time in Red Lodge, Montana. He wrote something that upset a local Progressive who asked, condescendingly, just who he thought he was, expressing antediluvian ideas like these?

He wrote back. He taught me an awful lot about how to neutralize, in a charming, winsome way, the vitriol of his attacker. He succeeded, in my opinion, in “turning away wrath” while doing himself, and the movement, a world of good.

First he answers her question: Who am I?

Judith Gregory wants to know who I am. That is easily answered: I live primarily in Washington, but since 1995 I have regularly spent time in Red Lodge, and I hope to spend more in the future. Recently, I wrote a book on current politics, and complete information about me is on the book’s website,

Plain and simple: here I am. Nothing special. Except I wonder how manybooks Judith Gregory has written?

He goes on to the real issue:

Who I am is actually irrelevant, though. Ad hominem attacks are entertaining, but what counts is the quality of the arguments presented, and Ms Gregory’s are mostly vague, empty Progressive talking points.

And then he dismembers her, gently, convincingly, satisfyingly. He remembers that Gregory is NOT his audience: all the others who are reading his are:

Progressives believe farmers should send money to ranchers who send money to small businesses who send money to families, all under the benevolent guidance of government administrators…

Unfortunately, we cannot all of us subsidize all of us. But the premise of the Progressives is to pretend that this perpetual motion machine is indeed possible, with money borrowed from China or created out of air by the Federal Reserve.

Instead, we should look to ourselves to accomplish what Gregory apparently thinks the government should:

We must put our faith in our civilization, and in our producers, including workers, not in government officials. The job of government is to set up the institutional mechanisms – courts, law and order, property rights and contracts, and necessary infrastructure — that enable businesses and workers to invest and labor. Government can provide safety nets for the unfortunate, but that should be a limited group. And it will be, because people are eager to earn, unless the government so damages the productive that it greatly increases dependency.

What a nice way of exploding the Progressive worldview propounded by Gregory without poisoning the conversation or turning his other readers off. DeLong is a master at dialogue. There are some good lessons here for me.  I hope you’ll go to the article and see how he does it.

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