The piece is a reaction to my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox—actually, it’s not a “reaction”: These wankers wrote a smear job, deliberately using lies.
Now I know what you are saying to yourselves, Gentle Readers & Kind Fans: “GL! Why are you comparing these poor souls to serial masturbators? Can’t you politely defend your arguments—like a civilized person—and refrain from the insults?”
Ordinarily, you’d be right: Whenever I debate someone, either in person or in print, I make the effort to be courteous and kind and respectful. If they misunderstand my arguments, I either try to gently make them see what I’m getting at, or decide not to engage—
—but not in this case. Why not this case? Because these assholes are doing something which is supremely uncool:
They are lying about my work.
Specifically, they are claiming my work is actually a recycling of someone else’s work—in other words, they’re calling me a plagiarist.
They are saying that my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox is “little more than an unpolished, incomplete, poorly structured and formulated version of what economists, across the board, know as the Tragedy of the Commons.”
Someone who doesn’t know or is not familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons might well take their word for this smear—especially as these pasty-faced meat-beaters at EPJ cite several sources and make a to-do about being “serious”.
But people with specialized knowledge—such as myself, such as these herky jerks—realize that the Tragedy of the Commons problem and my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox have absolutely nothing in common: They are issues in completely unrelated fields, dealing with completely different problems.
But most people don’t know this—which is what these chicken chokers are counting on: They’re counting on the fact that anyone who isn’t an adept will simply take their word for it, and think that I’m ripping off someone else’s work—which is a flat-out lie on their part.
And a lie which is too obvious for them to have made a mistake.
A lie which I cannot let slide.
A lie which I cannot let slide.
I say that they’re lying—but don’t take my word for it: Let me recap both concepts, so that you, Gentle Reader & Kind Fan, can make up your own mind.
For people who don’t know, The Tragedy of the Commons is a paradox formulated by Garrett Hardin in 1968, based on insights by the XIX century mathematician William Forster Lloyd. The original 1968 article is here. According to Wikipedia:
The tragedy of the commons is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen.Right there, you realize it’s an issue of property rights and the common good: Or rather, individual good affecting the common good—ie., the common environment. The Wikipedia entry continues:
Hardin's Commons Theory is frequently cited to support the notion of sustainable development, meshing economic growth and environmental protection, and has had an effect on numerous current issues, including the debate over global warming.
Central to Hardin's article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd) of a hypothetical and simplified situation based on medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin's example, it is in each herder's interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the quality of the common is temporarily or permanently damaged for all as a result, through over grazing. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the damage to the common is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed to the detriment of all.As you can see, it is a dilemma of individuals encroaching and exploiting the common environment for their own benefit. It addresses the problem of how an individual good can come at the cost of the group, but how the cost to each individual within the group is dispersed to the point where it is negligible and/or unnoticed.
On the other hand, my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox is—
the paradox by which every democracy eventually goes bankrupt—regardless of the people’s will and intention of keeping it from going bankrupt.
That’s why it’s a paradox: The citizens of a democratic state are supposed to control its destiny. They obviously do not want their nation to suffer bankruptcy—yet in spite of their will and intent, democratic states always go bankrupt. Always.Right away, you see that the problem I am discussing is radically different from the Tragedy of the Commons problem.
In order to formulate my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox, I use the discursive dilemma, a recently developed paradox regarding group agency. As I acknowledge in the post, I rely on Pettit, List and Dietrich for the formulation of the discursive dilemma. They apply the dilemma to legal theory, whereas I apply it to macro-economics and political theory.
What is the discursive theory? I defined it quite carefully in my original post, with three separate examples to make the point clear, so I will only give a brief explanation of it here: In any situation such that two propositions are incompatible—that is, ¬ (p ⋏ q)—a majority can believe that p is the case, another majority can believe that q is the case, with no one believing p ⋏ q, because such an outcome is impossible by definition—yet as a group (or as a democratic nation), the whole believes p ⋏ q, which is an incoherent outcome.
The discursive dilemma has absolutely nothing to do with the Tragedy of the Commons—the discursive dilemma is about group agency: The will of a group of people, and how it is not necessarily the same as the will of the individuals who make up the group—how indeed, the group agency can go directly counter to the agency of all of the individuals making up the group.
I take this paradox in group agency and use it to explain how a democracy always arrives at a fiscal incoherence, which is solved necessarily resolved by compromise. I then explain that, when the cost of resolving the fiscal incoherence is greater than the cost of sovereign debt, the democracy will take on debt. This will accelerate and spiral into a debt trap—regardless of the will of the individuals of the democracy, none of whom might want sovereign debt—until eventual, the democracy goes bankrupt.
So it’s quite obvious that my Democratic Bankruptcy Paradox theory has absolutely nothing to do with the Tragedy of the Commons problem.
But these wankers at EPJ? They’re counting on people’s lack of knowledge so that they can smear my argument, and use weasel words to make it seem that I stole my argument, and that my insight is no insight at all.
These people at EconomicPolicyJournal are liars, who smear me so that they can get some traffic.
I would have respected them if they’d engaged with what I actually wrote—even if it was just to disagree. But lying? Lying to get a boost in their site’s traffic?
If you go to EPJ’s site—which I wish you wouldn’t, as it only encourages them—don’t bother posting comments on their site.
Unlike The Hourly G and my regular blog site, EPJ moderates and culls their comments—they don’t have the stones to have open debate, much less criticism.