[ExI] Don't be a locavore fundamentalist

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Sun Sep 27 16:09:15 UTC 2009

2009/9/26 Robert Masters <rob4332000 at yahoo.com>

> Aren't you contradicting yourself?  If I understand correctly, you are
> making the standard libertarian assumption that the ultimate and sole
> criterion of "human welfare" is the judgment of the free market.  But
> locovores are PART OF THE MARKET, right?  If they bid up the price of lousy
> New York wine, who are you to say there is anything wrong with this?

### I am not saying that locovory is wrong (i.e. immoral, going against my
moral beliefs), I only say it's stupid. When you read what I wrote, don't
make the common mistake of assuming that one form of censure (dismissal as
being stupid) automatically entails more generalized judgment (moral
condemnation). Locovores are for the most part dumb, not evil.


> There would appear to be two alternatives:
> (a) Human welfare is entirely a matter of ECONOMIC value, i.e., price (as
> determined on a free, unregulated market).  Thus, if Jerry Springer earns
> $10 million/yr and Richard Feynman earns $50,000 (on a free market), then
> Springer's services really are worth 200 times as much as Feynman's.
> (b) There are non-economic values (e.g., moral, intellectual and esthetic
> values), and human welfare cannot be measured by prices alone.
> If (b) is correct (as I believe), it doesn't necessarily follow that
> coercion is warranted to enforce non-economic values.  One can argue, in
> particular cases, that the consequences of coercion are worse than the
> results of a free market (e.g., that, on net balance, society would be a
> better place if there were no drug war).  Or one can claim that coercion
> ("initiation of force") is ALWAYS immoral, in some ultimate, deontological
> sense, regardless of other considerations.  Libertarians often seem to be
> relying on the latter contention--which, in practice, is more or less
> equivalent to alternative (a) above (i.e., "The only standard of human
> welfare is what people choose in an uncoerced, free market").  Am I correct
> in understanding that that is your position?
> ### After many years of thinking about the kind of dilemmas you outlined
above, I came to the conclusion that non-initiation of violence within the
in-group is the most welfare-enhancing arrangement for in-group members, in
almost all realistic scenarios. This is not a deontological belief but
rather a consequentialist conclusion (the distinction between deontology and
consequentialism is a bit tricky though, and it depends on your conception
of time, and I don't have the time to explore it here). However, it doesn't
mean that Springer is more valuable than Feynman - it only means that
threatening to kill people to give more money to Feynman, or even more to
Springer, will not be welfare-enhancing. It also doesn't mean that human
welfare can be fully measured by analysis of price structures, it only means
that using violence to distort prices makes people worse off. In other
words, what you describe as two alternative conclusions relevant to my
stance on locovory, is in fact a tangent.
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