Quotable (#179)

Union and its discontents:

The founders believed horizontal and vertical federalism was the salve for … factionalism and regionalism. The federal government should have the limited powers necessary to unite the various factions for national ends, but otherwise should leave people alone. Those who wanted a liberal paradise should be able to live together and those who wanted a conservative stronghold should be able to have it. But now everyone is vying for a one size fits all homogen[e]ous tyranny where we are a truly diverse, heterogen[e]ous republic and all that does is drive up the stakes.

Quotable (#174)

Why gun control (in the USA) is an insoluble problem:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime. […] On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense. … So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.” … If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine. […] So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests. […] Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side. …

Game Theory

Attempting to hold rationality and humanity together is an unenviable task, if not simply an impossible one:

In a series of interventions, Adil Ahmad Haque and Charlie Dunlap have debated the Defense Department Law of War Manual’s position on human shields (here, here, and here). Claiming that the manual does not draw a distinction between voluntary and involuntary human shields, Haque maintains that it ignores the principle of proportionality, thus permitting the killing of defenseless civilians who are used as involuntary shields. Dunlap, however, insists that the manual includes all the necessary precautions for protecting civilians used as shields by enemy combatants, and argues that the adoption of Haque’s approach would actually encourage the enemy to increase the deployment of involuntary human shields. …

Sensitivity to the plight of ‘human shields’ directly increases their tactical value. That is the ultimate ‘proportionality’ involved in the discussion. Disciplined attention to incentives under conditions of unbounded competition reliably heads into dark places.