Adam Smith’s “man of system” is one of my favorite metaphors for a policymaker who is so taken with imposing his vision of society that he treats the individuals in it like pieces on a chessboard, ignoring the fact that each one of them has his or her own principles, values, and autonomy — his or her own “laws of motion”, in Smith’s language. The man of system sees individuals as pieces of a system, as means to an end, which is his vision of a planned, ordered society.
Our friends at Learn Liberty and philosopher Jim Otteson have collaborated on a short and evocative video explaining the man of system and the consequences of his actions.
Something thought-provoking for your weekend. Look for the man of system; he’s everywhere in policy today, to our detriment.
Peak oil is a fallacy that will never die
No one—aside maybe from survivalists who’d stocked up on MREs and assault rifles—was really looking forward to a peak-oil world. Read this 2007 GQ piece by Benjamin Kunkel—while we’re discussing topics from the mid-2000s—that imagines what a world without oil would really be like. Think uncomfortable and violent. Oil is in nearly every modern product we use, and it’s still what gets us from point A to point B—especially if you need to get from A to B in a plane. If we were really to see the global oil supply peak and decline sharply, even as demand continued to go up, well, apocalyptic might not be too large a word. And for several years in the middle of the last decade, as oil prices climbed past $100 a barrel and analysts were betting it would break $200, that scenario seemed entirely plausible.
But there was an upside to peak…
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A Nice discussion of the pros and cons, including alluding to paying people women for extensive periods early in their working lives not to work harms human capital accumulation and career development.