Tim is now writing at Forbes.com. You should go read it!
Entries tagged with “Tim Lee”.
Thu 7 Jul 2011
Mon 20 Sep 2010
Everything Tim writes here is great, as are Mr. Yglesias’ deregulation posts, by extension. I babble a lot in Tim’s comments, but if you want to read my rambling, badly punctuated inanity here as well, well, you’re in luck:
These types of de-regulation are both libertarian and liberal, and both factions should support them. And I definitely, 100% agree that people who support them should express themselves on liberal principles, because like you said, there are genuinely liberal principles involved.
But I’ve been reading the “is Cato topping off your paycheck??” comments at Yglesias’ site, and there are literally people there who wrote many paragraph treatises on why it would be a terrible blow to humanity if DC tour guides were unlicensed. (or barbers). I think there must be something more at play than just “well, evil right wing people like de-regulation, so it must be bad in all cases” because the “we must make rules to make things better” phenomena is so widespread, even amongst those evil right wingers. As far as I can tell, only a small number of “right wing” people even think about deregulation at all — only the especially crazy policy people.
The average person, right left or otherwise, accepts the idea that laws work as designed; that if a law is on the books to Improve The Quality of DC Tour Guides by X, Y and Z methods, that it does so, and has such a status quo bias towards it that unless there is some personal harm that comes as a result of it, will not support overturning it. I think if you copied the same Yglesias’ post on the average right wing site, saying that “Nasty Liberals Support Unsafe and Unclean Barbers!” most people would agree.
Even say with prohibition, the king of all dumb regulation – that most people are actually against, I absolutely guarantee you that the vast majority does not oppose it because it was a stupid law that caused a great deal of unintended harm, but because it is opposed to the status quo of legal alcohol today. And therefore adopts the opposite stance on pot prohibition.
For almost every single person, every part of their daily life is “regulated.” If you don’t like X at home, you tell your kid its a rule they can’t do it. If your bosses doesn’t want you doing Y, they make a rule about it. Every interaction with a software company or telephone provider or bank comes with multi page contracts outlining the regulatory environment and hoops you must jump through. And the absolutely only time people object is if the rule personally affects them, and even then, they don’t say “there are better ways to achieve the goals of this rule” but rather “change that specific rule so it stops bothering me.”
Is there any surprise that people that people would apply the exact same methods and principles that guide their daily lives to the political sphere?
Seriously, go read the comments at Yglesias’ site. People who don’t live in DC, haven’t ever taken a tour there, and don’t know anything about the situation are confidently explaining their regulatory schemes for that market. I don’t know anything about it either, but I’m not advocating rules for it, either.
Edit: goddamn it, I capitalized the Central Atlantic Treaty Organization in Tim’s comments again. -10 libertarian points.
Mon 2 Aug 2010
Reihan Salam was talking at Tim’s site (using a dandy inline chat called Envolve) about liberaltarians and conservatarians. In discussing this, one of the most interesting things (to me) that came up was the debate over how to approach those you disagree with. The specific instance was the mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks. While (I think) everyone was agreed that it should be allowed, the two basic positions on how to approach those who didn’t were as follows:
1) Vinegar. Stigmatize bad beliefs — call those opposed to the mosque bigots. The thought being that you don’t want to establish that such bigotry is an acceptable position. I assume this goes along with the idea of “moving the goalposts.”
2) Honey. Don’t call them bigots, instead try to show them that the position you take embodies some of their basic principles. Just insulting your opponents might just cause them to retreat to the echo chamber.
Fri 21 Aug 2009
Tim Lee (and a few other people, whom I will now skimp on crediting) has been doing some amazing work with making theoretically public legal documents actually public:
Their almost-definitely-probably lawful system works like this: Right now, lawyers, nonprofits and researchers who use PACER, the clunky database maintained by the federal court system, must hand over their credit-card numbers and pay eight cents a page for records. Eight cents a page might not seem like much until you realize that the system isn’t keyword searchable.
That’s right: In 2009, judicial records in the U.S. are essentially unsearchable. Digital records—with confidential personal information (theoretically) redacted by attorneys—must be downloaded in unwieldy, badly labeled chunks. This is incomprehensible to anyone under 30. But it’s a sad fact of life for those who pay lawyers hundreds of dollars an hour to dig up what would could be Googled in any other field.
Messrs Schultze, Lee and Yu whipped up a sleek little add-on to the popular Firefox Internet browser called RECAP (PACER spelled backward). Legit users of the federal court system download it. Then each time they drop eight pennies, it deposits a copy of the page in the free Internet archive. This data joins other poached information, all of which is formatted, relabeled and made searchable—the kind of customer service government tends to skimp on. Users can even see what has already been liberated while within the government system, a stylish and subversive touch. This week, as RECAP picked up speed, various court offices got skittish and began sending out emails acknowledging the project’s legality, but “strongly discouraging” its use anyway.
Tim’s now done more for humanity in a few months at grad school than I have in my entire life. Geek points quote:
Developer Tim Lee says “there’s just a ton of low-hanging fruit. The hard part is getting the data out. The fun part is doing stuff with it.”
Thankfully, some of the “stuff” they do not particularly want to do is enable people to search for private info that happens to be contained in these legal documents. As someone who is less-than-thrilled to share a name, birthdate and home county with a convicted felon, I say: “Great!”