Re: Are we having fun yet? (was Re: Dai Vernon's Blah Blah Blah)

Keith Elis (
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 03:18:32 -0500

Michael M. Butler wrote:

> <Not at all. I didn't call it irrelevant, I said you were mindreading.
> Facts not in evidence, and all that. If a bunch of people had been saying,
> in unison, "guns are the best way to settle an argument over a parking
> spot", you might have more of a case. The implication in your writing, it
> seemed to me, is that there is or ought to be a single best way, and that
> participants in this discussion agree with that notion; I don't see that in
> evidence.>

Yes, I was implying that participants in this discussion would choose
efficiency over inefficiency. I was also implying that at any point in
time there is what can be called the most efficient means to an end. I
do not imply that I know what it is. I merely question, by suggesting
the possible external costs of production, whether firearms are the most
efficient means to the end in sight.

One caveat: this "single best way" is necessarily in flux because costs
and benefits change constantly, but this doesn't make the notion of a
most efficient solution untenable, just a bit difficult for slow

I never implied I was being helpful. ;-)

> <That wasn't my point: my point was that you were talking as if an absolute
> best under all circumstances could be determined. As mentioned in excerpt 1.>

I'll agree with you there. There is no absolute best under all
circumstances -- only under the circumstances we've frozen in time for
rigorous analysis. Whether we can ever know what it is becomes another

> Perhaps I am hallucinating. Somebody around here is conflating economics
> with externalities,

> and ethical-social-esthetic costs with dollars and
> cents,

I will concede that if the death of a human being has no economic
effect, then I am wrong.

> and pragmatic circumstantial maxima with ideal abstraction "ceteris
> paribus" maxima;

Guilty on that score. I've tried to apply a theory of practical
efficiency and all the while mistakenly assumed that efficiency *should*
be the goal.

> and I don't think it's me.
> "Dear sir: You may be right. Sincerely, Mark Twain"
> Peace.