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I've gone undercover.
< Cue Mission: Impossible theme music >
Late last week, Dave told me about a poster in one of the snack rooms at work. It advertised a "Globalization and Its Critics" weekly forum at Intel. Obviously I'm interested in globalization, so I resolved to go to the very next meeting. It was today.
The forum isn't a self-directed, free-ranging discussion of the issues. It's really a discussion group that meets to talk about assigned readings, and I wasn't surprised to discover that the reading material was put together by an environmentalist group, Northwest Earth Institute (who I won't link to; I don't want the refers to blow my cover!)
The course introduction announces its bias:
Because I'm entering the forum in midstream, I hadn't done today's reading, but that didn't prevent me from commenting.
When they asked if I was familiar with the WTO and those who protest against it, I said that I don't know very much about the issues because the protesters are better at blocking traffic than stating their reasons.
When they talked about the anecdotal health benefits organic foods and the fears that genetically modified foods might be unhealthy in the long run, I pointed out that there's no reason to believe organic foods are any safer. The modified foods at least have some data to vouch for their safety, while organic foods have none.
When they first talked disapprovingly of genetically modified corn fertilizing a neighboring field, then disapprovingly of the existence of engineered infertile strains of corn, I pointed out that the latter is actually a solution to the former.
When they talked about how they prefer to buy food from local growers even if they're more expensive, I asked what the poor should do, who need all the money they can save to feed their children or pay their bills.
I was on my best behavior. I was very civil and almost never openly disagreed with anyone — I just made a few points. It was ridiculously fun. I'm definitely going to go again, but I don't know how long I'll be able to keep my cover. Needless to say, they have no idea that I'm actually a spy for The Enemy™, a procapitalist radical in their midst, secretly chuckling at the ignorance betrayed by their arguments.
I can't remember the last time spending $15 for course materials promised to be so much fun!