Pontificate My Dear, Pontificate

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J.H. Huebert makes a comment about Walter Williams and libertarian weblogging:

Dr. Williams, despite having been the chairman of the prestigious free-market economics department at George Mason University for many years, doesn’t seem to get as much attention as other less-deserving columnists by the mainstream, so-called libertarian webloggers out there.

I suppose that’s partly because he does have a tendency to recycle the same material a lot. But it probably has more to do with the fact that Williams consistently goes back to first principles, i.e. to Econ 101 and to the libertarian axiom that says you shouldn’t use agressive force against or defraud your neighbor. True, he writes for the layperson, and not for the snooty academic, but most of these problems do, in fact, have relatively simple solutions that any reasonably intelligent person should be able to understand.

But the “blogosphere” at large, and even most ostensible free-market economists, aren’t interested in simple solutions. They’d rather twiddle knobs and pontificate on complex solutions, mathematical models, etc. If we followed Williams’ policy prescriptions, they’d be out of a job.

I couldn’t agree with him more, as I have long sneered at this sort of thing. The pontification process is pseudo-intellectual bullcrap. It’s done to say: “Look at me. I must be really intellectual, for I came up with 12 paragraphs of complex reasoning, twisted logic, game theory, and butchering analysis, in order to figure out how to cross the street from Point A to Point B. Aren’t I a smarty?”And then everyone links to it, saying, “Gosh, isn’t this guy great?” The most intelligent beings, in fact, make complex ideas simple. They avoid the trickery and superciliousness, and they don’t try to dazzle you with oodles of oh-so-transparent pretentiousness. And they don’t thesaurus-hump either. There is no greater example of that than Murray Rothbard. Look at Man, Economy, and State, and how readable that economic tome is to the average Joe in the street. Simply marvelous.

And look at Thomas Sowell, another total genius that makes his point cleanly and clearly, and moves on to the next point without taking us through that cornfield maze of multifarious pontifications for bloated pseudo-intellectuals. I love reading this guy perhaps as much as anyone I know. And look at Lew Rockwell. He gets from Point A to Point B by simply walking across the street, and his reasoning follows the same logical path. Read Lew’s new book. His thinking is not at all tediously conventional, yet his ideas are so clearly outlined, his words so simply laid out, that even the most ill-advised pedestrian could understand his political philospohy in its entirety.

10:18 am on January 5, 2004