Increasing Marginal Utility

A blog so good it violates the law of diminishing marginal utility.

A few thoughts on the last 24 hours without all the facts

So Boston shut down completely. I’m sitting in my apartment just a few blocks where the Tsarnaev’s reportedly lived waiting for the…. everything-ban to be lifted.

You know what this reminds me of? Credible commitment, of all things.

In simple cost-benefit terms, there is no way that shutting down an entire city to find two guys who killed three makes sense. It does make sense however, in terms of extreme deterrence. If you commit an act of terrorism against the City of Boston, we will drop everything we are doing to fuck your shit up. What happened to Boston was a tragedy, but compare it to 9/11. By taking all these extremely costly measures, we are demonstrating an almost self-destructive degree of justice and vengeance. So yes, this is a signaling story, of the Hirshleiferian stripe.

And look at me. I’m what, 98th percentile in terms of wanting to limit government power? I woke up this morning and was told by the media I was effectively under house arrest until further notice (just like the rest of the City of Boston and adjoining areas). My emotional response “Yes, officer. Get those assholes.” That emotion makes zero intellectual sense to me.

Maybe it is the culture of Boston. We (well, “we”) are the city with a baseball team that won two World Championships in the span of four years and were confused why people didn’t still think of us as an underdog. The anti-New York “Yankees Suck” chant spilled into other sports completely out of context at live games. Red Sox fans traveled to other teams’ half empty stadiums and chanted “Yankees Suck” when the Red Sox were winning. Maybe this city has just seen The Boondock Saints a few too many times, although apparently we’ve switched sides from anti-Russian to anti-Chechen (note: I do not distinguish between Russian mobsters and the Russian government).

Just don’t use this as an excuse to start a war with a third party this time around, okay?


On a different note, if this is about the Chechnya, it may require… “adjustments” to the libertarian foreign policy narrative. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe the United States ever had a significant presence in Chechnya. The libertarian narrative is we only get attacked when we station troops in another group’s homeland. This attack looks a lot more like an indiscriminate attack on the West than about something the US  has done to Chechnya in particular. Maybe Tsarnaev The Elder was at a Jihad google hangout and his radical buddies encouraged him to bomb Boston because it’s the West, and well, because. Ultimately what I perceive with the very limited information available to us at the moment to be the modal explanations do not sit well with the standard libertarian narrative.

4 responses to “A few thoughts on the last 24 hours without all the facts

  1. dkuehn April 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    One thing I wonder/worry about (also without hard evidence) is if the heavy response is because they know something we don’t about what they were planning or have planned. I doubt it’s anything as substantial as a dirty bomb. They would have lead with that if that was in the cards. But a lockdown and this heavy gear makes me wonder if they have intelligence about a lot more explosives lying around somewhere or potentially mobile.

    Seems quite plausible given how massive this lockdown is.

    • rhmurphy April 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      That is plausible. But when I’ve brought up that idea to others they don’t think it is likely, and most everyone I’ve talked to from Boston feels the response is appropriate just because of the importance of finding the people who did this.

  2. alpha alpha April 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Alexander the Great beat back Gog and Magog at Caucasian Dervent and their descendents massacred Custer’s Last Stand but Gibbon glorified them

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