In Defense of Open Dialogue

The Risk-Monger

Originally published on the Genetic Literacy Project on 4 August 2016
See Stephan Neidenbach’s reflection on how the site was closed

On August 2, the Facebook page for We Love GMOs and Vaccines suffered yet another activist swarm attack where anti-vaxxers and campaigners against GM technology coordinated a large number of complaints in order get Facebook to shut the page down. The best way, it seems, for someone to stop dialogue and avoid facts is to silence the critics. Facebook was duped by a band of cunning zealots and needs to fix this trick that can be exploited to take any site down.

While operatives like Joseph Mercola or Gary Ruskin may feel their standing, book sales and sponsorship agreements are threatened by people who disagree with them and their narrow-minded worldviews, I feel that willingly shutting down contrarian sites and social media pages is far from democratic. Do we really want to live in a…

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Where will land come from 4 @NZGreens housing plan? @GarethMP

The Greens are at it again proposing to build 100,000 affordable houses without ever explaining where the additional new land will come from.

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There would have to be an amendment to the proposed Auckland unitary plan to free up more land for there to be a net increase in the supply of land in Auckland.

Unless there is that such amendment, a government plan to build 100,000 affordable houses in Auckland and elsewhere will simply be competing for the same fixed supply of land. If the supply of land is constrained from expanding by much, the only thing that will happen is that the price will go up with more money chasing the same amount of land and housing.

Perhaps there is an example after all

croaking cassandra

I’m pretty pessimistic on sorting out the housing supply/land use regulatory mess that, in conjunction with population pressures, has given us –  Auckland in particular –  extremely high house prices (and price to income ratios).  There are no great technical barriers to getting the market working again, with housing as affordable as it used to be.  But I have repeatedly noted here that I’m not aware of any country/region/locality that had once got into such a mess and had found its way back again, unwinding the morass of regulation (tell me again how many pages there are in the draft Unitary Plan).  Each time I make the point, I really hope someone is going to tell me about a compelling counter-example, demonstrating that what it technically possible has also proved politically feasible.

But reading Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution blog just now I found a really encouraging piece headed Laissez-faire in Toyko…

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“Locational liberalism: Why do some Leftists admire foreign right-wing ideologues?

Why Evolution Is True

We all know of Western Leftists who admire political movements that are repressive and regressive. I wasn’t alive when academic Leftists were all hearts and flowers about Stalin, even when they knew of his excesses; more recently, Nick Cohen has documented the hypocrisy of Western liberals in, for example, ignoring the existence of Serb concentration camps. Although Noam Chomsky has taken up some good left-wing causes, he also admired the genocidal dictator Pol Pot. And we know about the Regressive Left, who, while vociferously in favor of gay rights and women’s rights, and strongly opposed to capital punishment and torture, suddenly aren’t so sure when those rights are abrogated by Islamic regimes. That’s what happens when you suddenly see pigmentation as a sign of virtue, and all Muslims as victims of Western oppression. It’s what Maajid Nawaz calls “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

In his piece in the Jerusalem Post

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