For three years as one of his students I used to listen to Tyler lecture (it was never a lecture, but more of an interrogation). It was common that I would walk away thinking that something he said - a major comment or theory or idea - was just total BS. What he said would gnaw at me the rest of that day and usually over the next few days. I would try my best to formulate a counterargument, mostly as a means of better explaining my ideas to myself and better define why he was wrong and I was right. I don't think that ever happened.
Within a day or two the subtle point(s) that Tyler had been making hit me like a ton of bricks - he was right. Typically, it was that I wasn't fully grasping the totality of his argument, and only after I took more time to think about it outside of class and apply it more universally did I see what he was saying. But more than likely I was blinding myself to his argument, not wanting to let go of my own deeply held beliefs. They were great learning lessons. (BTW - I often had the same experiences with Michael Kraus and Bill Kovacic at GMU's law school.)
In today's New York Times, Tyler writes one of the best pieces on the inequalities of our political system. Some of the points I addressed here.
Here is Tyler's best comment:
People tend to think that they have justice on their side, whether it comes to making or taking.
For example, millions of homeowners have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the premise that the tax deduction for mortgages will be continued. If they support a continuation of that deduction they hardly feel like brigands, even though a bipartisan consensus of economists doubts the efficiency of this tax break.
As years and decades pass, recipients of this deduction and other benefits start to see them as deeply and richly deserved. Furthermore, almost all of us reap one or more of these benefits, so few individuals are consistently opposed to all government transfers.
It becomes difficult for a politician to articulate exactly what is wrong with this arrangement when the audience itself is in on the game and perhaps does not want to hear about its own takings.
It's this adherence to entitlements as deserved and justly mine that keeps entrenched fiscally destructive policies. We never step back and realize that they are not reailzable goals or objectives, but more importantly they are too often hijacked by politicians and the politically connected.
Mark Thoma responds. Read his piece, which totally ignores what Tyler is saying, and worst yet, infers things Tyler is NOT saying. Also read the comments to Thoma's post. You will then have a better understanding of what I mean when I say that people (including me) are wedded to our beliefs and that blinds us to from understanding ideas that counter our beliefs, negating our fully grasping the logic and reason of arguments that defy our own deeply held principles.