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catallaxy in technical exile

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Lessons from disaster

Pete Boettke from Coordination Problem, formerly The Austrian Economists, posts on the application of  research findings from Katrina and other disasters to Haiti. The bottom line is that recovery from disaster is just another example of development and the same rules apply.

Two of the lead researchers in this project were Russell Sobel of West Virginia University (a leading scholar in empirical public choice) and Emily Chamlee-Wright of Beloit College (a leading scholar of qualitative research in economic development).  I asked both if they would share what they thought were the main lessons from their study of Hurricane Katrina for how to deal with the tragedy in Haiti.

Russ Sobel replied: “Pete Leeson and I argue in our Katrina work that the role of government after a disaster is similar to their proper role in normal times.  Protect rights, create law and order, and let markets get to work in delivering and allocating goods and services. (emphasis added) The stories I’ve heard about the looting and lawlessness there, similar to Katrina, show how the government is failing to do it’s basic job yet again.  After Katrina not only did the government fail at this job, but then it also infringed on the market’s ability to work–a double whammy.”

Emily Chamily-Wright replied: “The theme we ought to hit is “what can outsiders do to tap the capacity of civil society?”. This advice is rather general and abstract, but that is part of the point. Official relief providers can extend their effectiveness by identifying community networks and leaders within those networks that can be the source of local knowledge, authority, and habits of association that can be pivotal to rescue operations, administration of relief and taking the first steps toward recovery.”


Written by Rafe

January 21, 2010 at 8:10 am

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The Rathouse 2002 –

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The Rathouse is a website which replaced an older Fortune City site because this became loaded with pop-ups (the downside of a free site), also the Webmistress was unhappy with the limited range of fonts and other things that artists like to play with.

The Rathouse launched in September 2002, not long after the Popper Centenial Conference in Vienna. The site is named after the Rathaus, the Great Hall of Vienna.

After practicing with the Rathouse The Webmistress set  up a  site of her own to display her artworks and illustrations.

The core of the site consisted of articles about Karl Popper, Bill Bartley and F A Hayek which were printed in the long-defunct  Melbourne Age Monthly Review. This was a bold adventure into high journalism, possibly inspired by the late Robert Haupt. The Review took long articles on more or less intellectual topics. The dominant tone was leftwing and  postmodern. Cynics called it The Mogadon and some suggested it was more for the writers than for the readers. In the event there were not enough readers and it was dumped.

But the damage was done. The first piece which I submitted appeared under the heading The Purpose of Popper and the editor advised that this aroused more positive feedback from readers than any other piece to date. This suggested that it is not a compete waste of time to keep the ideas of critical rationalism alive for the benefit of a lay audience.

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Written by Rafe

January 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

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Around the blogs Mon 11th

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Michael Warby’s collations of economics links and film,  media and art  links.

Among the former, evidence that economists are cheapskates. And Investments by Somali pirates are suspected of causing a property boom Kenya. Someone tell them about Neutral Bay!

Skeptic Lawyer on Avatar.

As long as you remember that Tropes Are Not Bad (see above), then there are some take home messages in this film that don’t fit anywhere on the conventional political spectrum, along with a good bunch that do (see above once again). The best of these came up courtesy a review published by the Von Mises Institute, which I’ve excerpted below. I don’t agree with all of it, but it shows — when someone does wheel out one of the great Joseph Campbell heroic tropes — that the rest of us can project almost anything onto what we see.

Redneck glimpses  (courtesy of  Tim Blair). Shades of “Wake in Fright”,  goes on a bit long but.

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Written by Rafe

January 10, 2010 at 11:38 pm

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Around the blogs 6 Jan

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The ten best pro-liberty books of the decade. Great picks! Bill Easterley has two on the list. (hat tip to Michael Warby).

A new pro-liberty Kiwi think tank.

Becker at al on the slowness of the US recovery. Regime uncertainty and waste.

The second factor is less obvious, but possibly also of great importance. Liberal Democrats won a major victory in the 2008 elections, winning the presidency and large majorities in both the House and Senate. They interpreted this as evidence that a large majority of Americans want major reforms in the economy, health-care and many other areas. So in addition to continuing and extending the Bush-initiated bailout of banks, AIG, General Motors, Chrysler and other companies, Congress and President Obama signaled their intentions to introduce major changes in taxes, government spending and regulations—changes that could radically transform the American economy.

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Written by Rafe

January 6, 2010 at 12:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Around the blogs 5 Jan

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A handy “off the rack” critique of proposals for foreign aid, courtesy of  Bill Easterly at Aid Watch.

The rejoinder “Why my aid project is important (and will work)”.

And Bill Easterly’s advice “How to write about poor people“.

Andrew Norton comments on some Cabinet papers on higher education from 1979.

This result seems to capture the long-term culture of higher education policy on the Coalition side – some broadly sound but half-hearted and quarter-way policy suggestions, trumped by political nervousness. There has never been a critical mass of Coalition MPs who care enough and know enough about the issue to take some political risks to achieve something really worthwhile.

Michael Warby provides a rack of philosophy links. Including a (not serious) list of causes of death of philosophers. Mostly jokes for the insiders of course, like the Philosophers Lexicon. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Rafe

January 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm

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Kiwi Randwatcher

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There is a very interesting blogger in New Zealand who set up a site for the critical discussion of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. He also links to Catallaxy and the Rathouse, being an admirer of Critical Rationalism.

Advertising is his game and he took out an award a few years ago with a spoof on advertising.

In case you want to do business with Barnes and Catmur. Don’t miss the “aimless game”.

Written by Rafe

January 3, 2010 at 9:16 am

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The Austrian Economists are gone…Long live Austrian economics!

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The Austrian Economists blog has changed its name to Coordination Problem. From time to time various name changes for Austrian economics have been considered, for example “evolutionary economics”. This change of course only applies to the name of the blog and the linguistic usage of the speople who post on it.

The problem is that Austrian economics and the names of  von Mises and Hayek in particular are overwhelmingly associated with ideology, not scholarship and science. That applies even in the profession.

These trends are not recent, but have been constant throughout our respective careers.  We have always been among those who attempted to offer resistance to this use of the term.  It has become evident to us that our efforts have been futile.  Rather than resist the pure ideological identification, we are choosing to devote our efforts elsewhere.  The name Austrian economics has been lost as a focal point for a tradition of economic scholarship, and is now a focal point for something else.  We have to let it go.

This follows hard on the heels of a move to get away from the term “capitalism” to speak in less ideologically loaded terms about the market order, free trade and the classical liberal agenda.

Written by Rafe

January 2, 2010 at 8:12 am

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