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October 24, 2014

Sec. Clinton Shares Her Economic Wisdom

"Don't let anybody tell you that it's corporations and businesses that create jobs."

Hat-tip: Washington Free Breacon

2016 Posted by John Kranz at 6:05 PM | What do you think? [1 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

Why do tax-and-spend politicians insist on referring to nominally market-based economic policies as "trickle down?" Because by the time they get done with it, a trickle of wealth creation is all that is left.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 6:22 PM

Otequay of the Ayday

The liberal Denver Post endorsed Mr. Gardner, chiding the Democrat for failing to talk about substantive issues. Mr. Gardner has jumped on that contrast, too, ramping up his focus on kitchen-table issues like the economy, energy, education and the environment -- which polls show are resonating well with independents and Denver suburbanites, crucial voting blocs. He also seems to be holding his own among Hispanic voters.

Mr. Udall has now all but given up on claiming he has a winning message; his campaign has been reduced to promising that the party's vaunted ground operation will grind out a surprise victory. And maybe it will. But this year's Colorado is hardly proving a blueprint for future Democratic campaigns. It's modeling gone wrong.

The inestimable and ever-grounded Kim Strassel: The 'Colorado Model' Goes Thud

Special Bonus Quote:

If Colorado is serving as a model for anything these days, it's the risks of Democratic overreach.

Eadray the whole ingthay. It is short, sweet, and packed with peanuts.

Catch a wave...

and you're sittin' on top of the world!

I just commented on The Three Sources Platform? post that, in Colorado's 2012 general election, less than 1 percent of the ballots returned were by registered Libertarians or American Constitution Party members. That doesn't seem like much until one considers that the turnout amongst registered Democrats was 35% and Republicans 37%, with Unaffiliateds making up 28% of the vote. The narrow 2-point margin between the parties whose candidates might actually win can easily be swamped by an unequal split amongst U's, and the minor party votes may or may not make a difference in any individual race. (Usually, it should be noted, not.)

The 2012 election results were mixed, with Democrats and Republicans winning about equally, Democrats having a slight edge in both legislative houses. So the question now becomes, what does 2014 look like? We won't know for sure until election weeks come to an end on November 4th but because of the Secretary of State's practice that I highlighted last week, early voting returns tabulated by party affiliation are available to the public and are updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. So how do they look? Not good for Democrats.

Republicans are up 7 points to 44%.

Democrats are down 3 to 32%.

The margin is therefore up from 2% to 12%. (That's plus 10 points, boys and girls.)

(Unaffiliateds are down too, from 28% to 23%)

And this breakdown has been fairly consistent since the first of four data dumps, starting last Friday, as shown in the graph below.


Keep up the good ground game, GOP!

But jk thinks:

Sorry, you put up a graph and guarantee that all the text and any links will be ignored. Should I be concerned with the slope?

Signed, Differentials in Denver

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2014 4:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And a graph with pretty colors, no less.

No, I think you should not fear the slope. Notice that I posted this today, and not two days ago. Over that interval the slope of all three curves is nearly zero.

Furthermore, conventional wisdom, if you believe one Jon Caldera, is that early voting is dominated by Democrats while Republicans can be counted on to rally at the end.

And yet, I will repeat my disclaimer: "We won't know for sure until election weeks come to an end on November 4th." But can we agree that a 10 point better showing than 2 years ago is tectonic in its significance? I nearly fell off my Herman Miller chair when I saw that. Particularly when all indications are that Unaffiliateds are leaning more our way than the liberal overreach way.

Any reluctance I have in posting this comes from a fear of invoking the prevent-defense, and not from a fear of the true sentiments of the electorate.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 5:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Editor's note: Important text has been emphasized for the reader's convenience. (I would have added color and flashing arrows too, but I'm not that good with HTML.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 5:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for speaking slowly and using very small words. It is appreciated.

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2014 5:45 PM
But dagny thinks:

Because so many Democrat operatives that might work on that, "prevent defense," read Three Sources to keep up to speed???

Posted by: dagny at October 24, 2014 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Alright you Grinches, if I am left to be encouraged by this in solitude then so be it. I pledge to keep graphing each new set of data and we can all watch for the vaunted Udall ground-game ballot dump whenever it may come about, together.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

It's a tough room, man, I may have mentioned that before.

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2014 6:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Still not as tough as FB. Man, it got brutal over there. I had to say I was w, wr, wro, uh, not right enough this week.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 6:50 PM


Best of Cain suggests possible media bias.

The AP story:

A Palestinian motorist with a history of anti-Israel violence slammed his car into a crowded train station in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a three-month-old baby girl and wounding eight people in what police called a terror attack.

The AP/Yahoo Headline:
Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem


October 23, 2014

Vigilamus pro te!

No embed, but click on over and enjoy 1:38 of ovation for Canadian hero, Sergeant of Arms Kevin Vickers.

But johngalt thinks:

Whoa, did he smack the guy with that big brass club?

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 4:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So he killed another man with a gun, eh? And they're giving him an ovation. What's the deal? Guns are BAD. Right?

I heard the mayor of Ottawa say in an interview how terrible it was that an unarmed Canadian soldier had been killed while guarding a monument. What is it with western nations that makes us want to keep our soldiers unarmed all the time? Thank the Sergeant at Arms the he didn't stand for that guff.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, and did you see PM Stephen Harper? Hoss. I suggested to the lovely bride that if they'd trade us Mr. Harper for President Obama, they could have one other of their choosing.

"What about Patrick Roy?" she asked.

Very slowly I answered "yes, my love of country is total. They can have Coach Roy and the President for PM Harper.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2014 4:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Harper-Netanyahu 2016

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 4:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Harpers-Vickers 2016? Perhaps is Quebec secedes, they could annex the US.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2014 5:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The love of your life certainly does know your most sensitive pressure points, doesn't she. And your patriotism is sans precedent.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at October 24, 2014 12:35 PM

Tweet of the Day

Still like brother jg's better, but this might find some fans 'round these parts:

But dagny thinks:

An armed society is a polite society - R.A.H.

Posted by: dagny at October 23, 2014 1:00 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

My contribution: http://bit.ly/1pGxqhC

And congratulations to Mr. Manning and your Broncos. I'm not sure if seven touchdowns in four days is a record (they had a short week...), but it is a worthy feat.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 23, 2014 11:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Greedy much," you may ask? It should'a been eight.

But in the Bolts defense, some of those zebra rulings were fish-eye worthy.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 11:52 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Great contribution. Love the commercial angle.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 11:53 AM

October 22, 2014

Quote of the Day

Most of these laws are not preventing the overwhelming majority of folks who don't vote from voting, Most people do have an ID. Most people do have a driver's license. Most people can get to the polls. It may not be as convenient it may be a little more difficult. -- President Obama during an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton.
But johngalt thinks:

I agree with Barack Obama. Again!

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2014 5:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But Colorado's Democratic-controlled legislature clearly does not agree.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2014 5:29 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Such a shame that he has no way of stopping the DoJ from suing states to try to overturn voter ID laws. Maybe that skinny blonde dancing monkey was right, it's too bad we can't give the President all the power that he needs.

Posted by: AndyN at October 23, 2014 11:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Paltrow - Kutchner 2016!!!

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2014 12:40 PM

Welcome to Colorado's "Big Ass Lie" James O'Keefe

And a good companion article by John Fund here.

UPDATE: Todd Shepherd showed us last year how easy it is to find "orphaned ballots" in apartment mail rooms.

But jk thinks:

Lookit us! Our little. flyover state made it big with vote fraud! We're just like Illinois and California!

Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2014 3:33 PM

The Three Sources Platform?

I recall past discussions of a collaborative effort to list the principles that ThreeSourcers could agree upon, and that we thought would gain supporters and promote liberty at the expense of Leviathan. I believe we have a possible starting point with the platform of Libertarian for Colorado Governor Mike Dunafon:

He stands firm on the following issues:

- More Individual Liberty
- Less Government Regulation & Surveillance
- More Support for our Veterans
- An End to the War on Hemp
- Protect the 2nd Amendment
- Private Property, Commercial Liberty
- Marital Equality for ALL
- Women control their bodies
- Local Control of Education
- Release Non-Violent Drug Offenders
- Critical Thinking
- Independent Leadership
- Liberty & Freedom for all Coloradans

And where does this differ from the modern GOP? Drug war and social issues. Period.

What if the GOP released its pit bull bite from those marginal causes? More young voters. More female voters. More minority voters. More liberty and less Leviathan.

Just imagine Wyclef Jean and Snoop Dog with prime time appearances at the GOP convention, and Romney-like GOP candidates arriving at appearances to the rap refrain of Mayor Mike Dunafon!

"It isn't hard to do - It's easy if you try."

But jk thinks:


I like it. But Rep. Tancredo, warming up the crowd on the radio last week for a clean and articulate young man fro Ft. Lupton, sees just as clearly that if we put all our eggs in the no-amnesty basket, everything will be fine.

I dreamt for years of a realignment along the lines described by the dude from Snoop's entourage. Like the McDonald's customer, I assume that technology will allow me to have a party that wants what I want and never embarrasses me with anything I don't. But that becomes -- like Libertario Delenda Est -- a willful dismissal of the electoral power of coalitions.

The pro-life wing of the GOP makes you and me look down at our shoes sometimes. Being a software developer, that comes naturally but we're talking about a group that gives big money, works the phones, walks the precincts and crawls over broken glass to vote if there is a pro-life county clerk on the ballot. You have to either forge platformal compromises that keep them and us on the same team or tell me how you're going to replace them if we tell them to jump in the lake.

Will we attract enough pro-liberty Democrats who stay away because of this? I used to think so but I now consider that naïve. That's the famous libertarian 9% (or is it 19?) the more natural affinity is on my Facebook feed: Abortion -- plus free birth control! I already used my allusion quota for a single comment, but I'll close with Don Rumsfeld going to elections with the party we have. Not asking them to set aside their serious and deeply held convictions, but looking for principled compromise.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2014 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

We are treading well-worn ground here, again.

But we know Tom T. is on board for a "principled compromise" in the drug war column which, combined with urban renewals that actually work could help us get to at least 50/50 on the black vote. So it comes down to social issues: I know they see it as a denial of liberty to an unborn life, but I suspect that the stronger resistance is to "letting them sin without consequence." Is there not room to compromise a coexistence with sinners, if we'll just agree not to steal each others' stuff and ruin our economy in the process?

Or, maybe we could just try decriminalizing drugs first, by itself. That would give us all the items on the list above except one. What say, BR?

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2014 5:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It seems there is little reason to fear votes siphoned by Dunafon will cost Beauprez the election. In this poll he showed dead last - 2 of 500 respondents (question 28.)

Surely this is a reflection of his inability to publicize his platform, rather than the platform itself.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 11:46 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the link -- I had heard highlights of that poll, but I found some jewels in there just flipping through looking for the gubernatorial numbers.

Not letting Hizzoner the mayor and his supporters (most of whom I know by first name) off the hook:
1) The sum of Dunafon and big-L Libertarian Matthew Hess is the difference between Beauprez and Hickenlooper. A statistical oddity but illustrative (Hick must be saying "Libertario Delenda Est! If Only I could get those people to go Democrat....")

2) The unseriousness and lack of vetting of these candidates is overlooked. I've ground the Snoop Dogg incident into the ground, but a serious candidacy for statewide office takes a lot of work and a certain skill set. SecState candidate Wayne Williams drove from Colorado Springs to Ft. Lupton (beautiful place, btw) to talk to a few dozen at the Southern Weld County GOP Breakfast. My Libertoid and Third-Party-Independent friends pretend that their preferred candidates just need a shot or spot in the debates or something, but they overlook that their folks are generally not ready for prime time. Rep. Bob Barr or Gov. Gary Johnson both have resumes too thin for a major party but are hailed as stars in the LP.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2014 12:39 PM
But jk thinks:

You should've never let me see that link. Nobody is talking about the SecState race with all the big ones in Colorado, but I saw a debate on FOX31's #COpolitics from the source. If Democrat Joe Neguse wins, we will never again have a clean election in Colorado.

Democrat Joe Neguse ----------------------------------------- 138 27.60
Republican Wayne Williams ---------------------------------- 175 35.00
American Constitution Party, Amanda Campbell ---------- 12 2.40
Libertarian Dave Schambach ---------------------------------- 19 3.80

It is unconscionable that a Libertarian or American Constitutionalist would risk electing Mr. Neguse. What are you people thinking?

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2014 12:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They're thinking, "There's not a dime's difference between Republicans and Democratics." Well, except that one party wants big, messy, loosey-goosey elections and the other wants one person one vote elections. Maybe a few other differences too.

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 3:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And another thing: As a Constitutionalist I hate democracy and I hate elections. So why do American Constitution Party members and Libertarians, who presumably hate both of those things as much as I do, work so hard to participate in elections when they have zero chance of winning?

Posted by: johngalt at October 23, 2014 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let me allay your concerns somewhat. The figures above are from a preference poll. Fortunately, Libertarians and American Constitutionalists seem less inclined to crawl over broken glass, or even walk to the mailbox, to vote.

Tabulated ballot returns by party from 2012 show a statewide total of 0.16% ACN ballots returned and 0.57% Libertarian ballots. Presumably others might vote for those party's candidates but probably not enough to move their combined showing over a full 1 percent.

Denver's combined ACN + LBR participation was the highest of any county over 20,000 total ballots, with 0.87%.

Only 6 of Colorado's 64 counties exceeded 1 percent combined ACN + LBR ballots returned: Clear Creek, Crowley, Gilpin, Park, San Juan and San Miguel, with total ballots cast of 3277, 768, 1845, 6217, 309 and 2552 respectively.

Posted by: johngalt at October 24, 2014 2:48 PM

Women Weary of War on Them

Yahoo news: AP-GfK Poll: Most expect GOP victory in November

Women have moved in the GOP's direction since September. In last month's AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

Reality McBites

Credit the WSJ Ed Page for detection and acquisition of Ag:

If there's a silver lining for McDonald's in Tuesday's dreadful earnings report, it is that perhaps union activists will begin to understand that the fast-food chain cannot solve the problems of the Obama economy. The world's largest restaurant company reported a 30% decline in quarterly profits on a 5% drop in revenues. Problems under the golden arches were global--sales were weak in China, Europe and the United States.

So even one of the world's most ubiquitous consumer brands cannot print money at its pleasure. This may be news to liberal pressure groups that have lately been demanding that government order the chain known for cheap food to somehow pay higher wages.

The heartless monocled capitalists in the corner office suggest automation as a way out. Not to save labor costs of course -- rather to satisfy customers' demand for more customization.
[Don] Thompson, the CEO, said Tuesday that customers "want to personalize their meals" and "to enjoy eating in a contemporary, inviting atmosphere. And they want choices in how they order, choices in what they order and how they're served."

I'd like to go through the drive through and get what I order. That would be a personalized, contemporary experience for me.

But johngalt thinks:

And the beauty is, in a competitive marketplace, you don't even have to pay more to get it. Even if one chain raises wages to higher more interested staff, another will automate them to the curb. Well, until government regulates them to the history books.

There's your decision, boys and girls: markets or government? Voting is now open.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2014 11:09 AM

October 21, 2014

Three Sources Radio!

In the comments for yesterday's What We Fight For post I mentioned that I plugged the blog in a call to Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday evening. Want to know what yours truly sounds like? Tune in to the podcast.

Start at 23:00, but if you're in a hurry skip to 26:50. But I recommend starting at 23:00.

The rest of the show was pretty good too, including both Tom Tancredo and state senator Kevin Lundberg agreeing with what I'd said and expanding on it. Listen through to the end if you have time.

That's Grassroots Radio Colorado, with my super cool friend Kris Cook on 560 am KLZ in Denver, weekdays 5-7 pm Mountain Time. (5-6 on Fridays.) Check it out!!

Tune in live on the internet here.

But jk thinks:

And he hawks threesources.com! Well played, sir!

You did well but I had listened to the whole thing and was still reeling from Rep. Tancredo saying "Republicans should all get together and campaign on opposition to immigration!"

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2014 4:55 PM

Wealth "ex nihilo" - for the Rich

Scott S. Powell, senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle and managing partner at RemingtonRand LLC, has an IBD editorial today to explain How Washington Widens Gap Between The Rich And Poor. He cites the same study that Rich Karlgaard told us about in JK's post yesterday, and then extends the unintended - or not - effects.

Three basics about regulation, politics and the economy must be understood.

First, politicians perceive crises as opportunities to grandstand with supposed legislative fixes. But since new laws rarely fix the purported problems, politicians shift responsibility of their laws' rulemaking to unelected, unaccountable agency bureaucrats.

Second, regulatory costs are more burdensome for small firms than large enterprises.

Third, small companies create most new jobs.

Segue now to monetary policy, and its misguided application to paper over the recession caused by government:

Fed-engineered money creation and low interest rates have helped create a stock market casino, prompting more and more companies to go all in with enlarged stock buyback programs to goose per-share earnings and elevate stock prices -- wealth through financial engineering rather than increased productivity.

Artificially low interest rates have been equally beneficial for real estate investors, providing leverage to propel prices and transactions in an upward trajectory.

While the Fed says its policies have kept consumer prices in check for the working class, the real benefit has been inflating asset prices in the portfolios of the rich. Call them the 1% or the 2%, the rich are getting richer, courtesy of the ruling class in Washington, elected in large part by voters who have been fooled and left behind.

And who absorbs one hundred percent of the blame for both the recession, with its attendant job slump, and the rise of the rich at expense of the poor? You guessed it - Wall Street.

My Deepest Thoughts on the President

Is the President of the United States a secret Muslim? A Kenyan Anti-colonialist dedicated to destroying the US from the inside? I've heard these and worse from people I respect. But as an Occam's Razor guy, I usually respond "no, he's a product of the faculty lounge."

Ruth Wisse, retired professor at Haavaad, pens an endorsement for Tom Cotton to be the next US Senator from Arkansas

Which brings us to Tom Cotton, the sixth-generation Arkansan who forged a path of his own in getting to Harvard and has maintained his independence ever since. As an undergraduate he majored in government, wrote his senior thesis on the Federalist Papers and voiced his conservative opinions in a column in the Harvard Crimson. After graduating from law school he took up a legal career that might have seamlessly led to political office. Instead he joined the Army as an infantry officer. His almost five years of active duty included two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan; he later returned to Afghanistan as operations officer for a reconstruction team. As against those who equate military service with bellicosity, a U.S. soldier who has been on daily combat patrols in dangerous places is likelier than others to craft foreign policy with intelligent discretion.

Wisse contrasts Cotton with more typical alumnae and current faculty. Including, um...
My experience at Harvard makes it hard for me to join in blaming Barack Obama personally for the country's woes. After all, he is only a dutiful product of Harvard Law School and of Columbia University before that. When President Harry Truman famously said, "The buck stops here," he meant that persons who seek and attain highest office are responsible for whatever happens on their watch. But how can we in good conscience apply this standard to Mr. Obama, who was elected president as a junior senator with no experience in governing, who was handpicked and tailored by the academic and cultural elite?

No boots on the ground? No military strategy? Trust your enemies and diss your allies? Spokespersons for the president could have been lip-synced by denizens of his alma mater. That Mr. Obama has no use for the other side of the aisle is the logical extension of a university that has purged all but a handful of conservatives from its faculty--and has done so in the name of achieving greater diversity.

Feel better?

But nanobrewer thinks:

I've liked everything that Professor Wisse has written, though I must admit it's only in the WSJ that I have found her. She once penned something about the "smallness of the hive mind" and implied less than brave behaviors in one terrific post.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 21, 2014 6:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And KOA's Mike Rosen read this on air today.

And if anyone needs a more pragmatic reason to refrain from attacking the President personally, consider this NYT piece: Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate

On the campaign trail, black leaders like Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, are offering a very different message.

They embrace the health care law -- "I will never run away from the Affordable Care Act," Mr. Cummings said -- and often invoke voting rights and the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black man shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., as a way to mobilize black voters. And they defend the president.

"People understand that you have to walk a thin line," Mr. Cummings said, describing Democratic candidates' dilemma. "But African-Americans do not want you denying any affiliation with the president, because they love this president. He is like a son to them."

My president, right or wrong.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2014 3:07 AM

Tag Team

I'm going to risk a step away from Adam Smith "loveliness" and seek assistance in a Libertario Delenda Est Facebook fight. These are as productive as name calling all caps discussions with progressives -- but there remains a specter of ability to reach with reason.

A very bright buddy is on a tear against conservatives and tea partiers and other foul not-libertarian-enough-for-me vermin and pestilence. I counseled, of course, that we might work together with those who wanted lower taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, and constitutionally limited government. He comes back with the Ayn Rand quote "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."

I replied "SO'S YOUR OLD MAN!!" that yet Rand appreciated both President Reagan, with whom she'd have had many disagreements, and the US Constitution which is poised to foster compromise.

It seems that I have heard Rand quotes about electoral strategy that are pragmatic if not quite fusionism. Am I barking up the wrong tree?

While the friend is too People's Front of Judea to be reachable, there may be others on the thread who waver.

UPDATE: I am getting less lovely by the minute . . . But here is the meme that inspired the thread.


My buddy takes exception to the phrase "moral absolutes." To him it is code:

Does It mean the person who posts this wants to throw you in jail for things you do with your own body that don't damage anyone else.

Is that what they think Limited Government is?

I suggest both that there are less illiberal translations of "moral absolutes" and that when you agree with somebody on 11/12 things maybe is best not to focus on the 1/12.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Have you a link to the post? I've checked your FB feed and couldn't find the post in question. While you're doing that, I'll go sharpen the knives.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 21, 2014 1:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:
The citizens of a free nation may disagree about the specific legal procedures or methods of implementing their rights (which is a complex problem, the province of political science and of the philosophy of law), but they agree on the basic principle to be implemented: the principle of individual rights. When a country‚Äôs constitution places individual rights outside the reach of public authorities, the sphere of political power is severely delimited‚ÄĒand thus the citizens may, safely and properly, agree to abide by the decisions of a majority vote in this delimited sphere. The lives and property of minorities or dissenters are not at stake, are not subject to vote and are not endangered by any majority decision; no man or group holds a blank check on power over others. - "Collectivized 'Rights'" The Virtue of Selfishness

But that ain't where we are today, izzit?

The best reply to his quote may be, "So, you choose the poison? I'm too much of an optimist to believe that the ideas we both hold dear can't eventually win the hearts and minds of Americans, the most independent and self-reliant people in human history, if we will finally engage in a debate of ideas. In the meantime, surrendering the levers of government power to Social Statists is a bad strategy."

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2014 1:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Lovely-Schmovely! It's my buddy and LOTR-F regular, Wayne. ThreesSourcers might enjoy the picture,

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2014 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

His suspicion is justified. However,

1) If that is what they mean, it is good that they must now say so in code, and

2) Having included the principles of freedom, liberty, and limited government, we need merely point to those to counter any attempts along the lines he fears.

But I will charitably take "moral absolutes" to mean "right and wrong exist."

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2014 4:17 PM

October 20, 2014

Surely it was a Gynecology Textbook!

Not a stellar interview for Mark Udall (OB/GYN - CO):

Udall answered a series of ten questions, answers to some of which came more easily than others. For instance, when asked whether the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, the senator quickly said "no."

The first clue that something was up came when his response to "Is Common Core good or bad for Colorado students?" was "Yes."

But things really went off the rails when Udall was asked to name the three most influential books he's ever read along with the last song he listened to. He quickly came up with Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, but then, after a lengthy pause, he appeared to be stumped.

"We can play this over, right, I mean re-tape this?" Udall asked the interviewer, perhaps not realizing that the clip would go out as-is. "I'm brain dead today," he admitted after failing to come up with the last song he listened to.

Realizing his mistake, Udall finally got it together and finished answering the probing questions.

But johngalt thinks:

"Who am I? Why am I here?"

With apologies to Vice Admiral James Stockdale, RIP.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2014 4:58 PM

Understanding Alissa Rosenbaum

Hard core Randians will recognize that Alissa Rosenbaum was the birth name of Ayn Rand (though The Refugee will sheepishly admit that he did not). Such Randians will likely greatly enjoy an article in The Federalist by Charles Murray, titled, "How Ayn Rand Captured the Magic of American Life."

Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at AEI. His article is part book review, part biography and part confessional. While clearly a Rand fan, Murray attempts to apply some "objectivism" to the persona that Rand created for herself. At the charge that Murray puts toward Rand as a hypocrite, one might shrug (no pun intended) and say that even Objectivists are human.

The Refugee believes that this article will cause much thought among Three Sourcers. He will only pull two quotes, both from very late in the piece:

That world came together in the chapters of ďAtlas ShruggedĒ describing Galtís Gulch, the chapters I most often reread when I go back to the book. The great men and women who have gone on strike are gathered there, sometimes working at their old professions, but more often being grocers and cabbage growers and plumbers, because thatís the niche in which they can make a living. In scene after scene, Rand shows what such a community would be like, and it does not consist of isolated individualists holding one another at armís length. Individualists, yes, but ones who have fun in one anotherís company, care about one another, and care for one anotherónot out of obligation, but out of mutual respect and spontaneous affection.

Better than any other American novelist, she captured the magic of what life in America is supposed to be. The utopia of her novels is not a utopia of greed. It is not a utopia of Nietzschean supermen. It is a utopia of human beings living together in Jeffersonian freedom.

Give it a read and contemplate the greater meaning.

Hat tip: realclearpolitics.com

Philosophy Posted by Boulder Refugee at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [3 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah baby! I agree with the short excerpt, with a caveat I'll mention shortly. I think that the selfishness gets all the pub, perhaps because there is so much altruism-enabled forced "care for our neighbors" that needs pushing back against. And when Rand or Objectivism are cited as an antidote it is seen, not as the secure, confident, self-reliant community of cooperative life that was depicted, but as a complete mirror image of collectivism, i.e. hermitism. That is a grievous error with lamentable consequences along the lines of Rich Karlgaard's "what could have been."

And now the caveat: The cited author states that those gathered in the valley worked at their old professions "because that's the niche in which they can make a living." No, not really. They kept their old professions because they LOVED them. That is one of many points of the novel: It isn't work that makes man miserable, it is having to struggle against society in order to do one's chosen work, that makes life unrewarding.

I look forward to sitting down with the whole article. Perhaps I'll have more to say afterward. Heh. "Perhaps."

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2014 2:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow. Thanks for sharing. I am rather stupefied that the Curmudgeon himself [Review Corner] does not subscribe to the Whitaker Chambers / NR view of Rand. (Curiouser still, Murray is the reason I have 1500 pages of theology books into which I just dove this weekend.)

I'm going to take the liberty of pulling a quote which describes my relationship with Ms. Rosenbaum:

Why, then, has reading these biographies of a deeply flawed woman--putting it gently--made me want to go back and reread her novels yet again? The answer is that Rand was a hedgehog who got a few huge truths right, and expressed those truths in her fiction so powerfully that they continue to inspire each new generation. They have only a loose relationship with Objectivism as a philosophy (which was formally developed only after the novels were written). Are selfishness and greed cardinal virtues in Objectivism? Who cares? Do Objectivist aesthetics denigrate Bach and Mozart? Who cares? Objectivism has nothing to do with what mesmerizes people about "The Fountainhead" or "Atlas Shrugged." What does mesmerize us? Fans of Ayn Rand will answer differently. Part of the popularity of the books derives from the many ways their themes can be refracted. Here is what I saw in Rand's fictional world that shaped my views as an adolescent and still shapes them 50 years later.

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2014 4:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Having now read the article I will offer a few more opinions: Rand's worth is in what she wrote, not in who she slept with. This is the first I've read of any drug dependence, but I'm glad that she apparently overcame it, as has Rush Limbaugh.

Objectivism is a valuable epistemological tool and does, in my opinion, stand on its own apart from the other philosophers mentioned, save Aristotle. I am a defender of Objectivism. I am not, however, a defender of all Objectivists. It is all to easy to falsely extend the philosophy's certainty about what is known at any given time to what can ever be known. This leads many Objectivists to denounce and alienate those who disagree with them. However, all of the Objectivists I have read who are associated with the Ayn Rand Institute do not suffer this flaw. Particularly the Institute's Executive Director, Yaron Brook.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2014 2:46 PM

Adam Smith on Crack

Now that's a provocative headline! Upworthy here we come!

I highlighted a couple of quotes from Sunday's Review Corner of Russ Roberts's How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. I wanted to separate them from the review, yet use them here to torture my blog brothers with an appeal-to-authority in our ongoing, internecine debate on The War on Drugs.

Roberts finds that Smith had suspicions about anti-Hayekians centuries before there was a Hayek to oppose. Smith was a man of government and he saw -- up close and personal -- those who would run our lives to improve us:

He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it.

Roberts, Russ (2014-10-09). How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (p. 207). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Roberts "chuses" the Drug War to illustrate:
I have met kind, empathetic, earnest people who see recreational drugs as a great scourge. And certainly some drug users destroy themselves and their families through their inability to control their desires. Yet the war on drugs has failed despite the desires of those kind, empathetic, earnest people and despite the harm that comes to drug users. The war on drugs has failed because too many chess pieces have their own movements; too many people like to use drugs. And too many people see those desires as a potential for profit, which it surely is.

Kind, empathetic, earnest blog brothers?

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

What, no music? There's gotta be a sound track to go with an internecine war on drugs discussion.

OK, The Refugee willingly rises to the bait of what is clearly a friendly taunt among blog brothers. He also counts himself among those who see substance abuse as a great scourge - and the challenge of our time.

First, it would be useful to define what constitutes "winning" the war. Does addiction need to be eliminated before those opposing the war would admit that it was won? Surely not, as the "war on crime" certainly has not been won by that definition, yet no one is suggesting that we disband law enforcement. The Refugee would suggest that "winning" means a steady decline in use and addiction. By that definition, we are "winning the war on tobacco."

One must also observe what is missing from this analysis, which is a solution to the problem. That means that either the author does not see it as a problem, despite acknowledging the lives and families ruined by drug abuse, is simply throwing up his hands in surrender, or sees the problem as a societal abstraction.

Imagine if our Founding Fathers had seen their society's challenges too daunting to tackle. They might have said, "Gee, the king sure is powerful." Or, "Wow, the British navy sure has a lot of cannons." And, "How can we ever expect a bunch of farmers and merchants to defeat the best trained, best equipped, most professional army in the world?" Great problems are not solved by passivity. They are solved by people willing to relentlessly pursue a problem until a solution is found, willingly failing over and over and realizing that you can be wrong many times but need be right only once to be successful.

Those who see drug abuse in the abstract are the modern version of Marie Antoinette saying, "Let them snort cake." Would any blog brother suggest that eradicating (or even significantly reducing) substance abuse would be a bad thing?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 20, 2014 1:56 PM
But jk thinks:

"La la la la, La ls la la-la-la-laaah.."

It strikes me that we have a more fundamental disagreement. I don't want to dodge your direct questions, but perhaps the disconnect is whether it be a legitimate function of government. Is there Kumbaya potential in "get the feds out of it, unless you can lay your finger on the No weed Clause in Article I Section 8?" Then we can argue about the strictness of local enforcement and I would be much more open to local laws. Short-cutting the commerce clause argument, Claude Wickard, I'll stick to intra-State production, sales and consumption.

As to direct questions:

The founding fathers were seeking to protect our liberties. I back off not because it is difficult, but because it is wrong.

If tobacco is your success story, we're farther apart than I thought. Really, really, read the Aftermath book. New York taxes a pack of smokes $2.50 or something. That's a brutal and regressive tax on the poor, props up crime because it is so distortionary (actually funded the 9-11 hijackers in part), and we just had a guy killed by the police in Central Park for selling bootleg cigarettes. I quit 20 years ago, but if my heath were better I'd start up again in protest of the moral preening, hectoring, and misplaced government coercion.

I guess I'm guilty of viewing the drug problem abstractly. You want to move the chessboard pieces around and I really do not. So I have no solution like Obamacare opponents lacked one. More freedom might help. My brother has still not agreed that alcohol prohibition was a failure. More freedom helped there. Alcohol has been quite the scourge in my circle of friends -- do we go back to Elliot Ness? (If alcohol's less scouragious, and maybe weed's not so terrible some days, who decides?)

I'll say let the chess pieces make their lives as best as they can without government intrusion.

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2014 2:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The drug war question is not, as I see it, whether or not eradicating or even significantly reducing substance abuse is a good thing. It is good. Clearly so. The question is: Has legal prohibition been, on the whole, good or bad.

Taking the "war on tobacco" claim at face value, I must have missed the era when tobacco was outlawed.

Finally, not to inflame but to inform, the stance that great problems are solved by people willing to relentlessly pursue a problem until a solution is found, willingly failing over and over and realizing that you can be wrong many times but need be right only once to be successful, is also the modus operandi of the World Socialists, is it not? Some problems have no solutions. Some creatures behave in ways contradictory to survival. c.f. Darwin, Charles. Efforts to save every individual from harming himself ultimately results in a society where all individuals are hopeless. c.f. Miranda. God helps he who helps himself.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2014 3:48 PM

ThreeSources Book Club

This is the subject of last week's Review Corner. Very good book. Headed to charity shop unless somebody wants it.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM | What do you think? [0 comments]

What We Fight For

Cue the Mulan soundtrack. But for a Prosperitarian, the prize is not a comely Chinese lass, but a rockin'-high per capita GDP.

I try to sell this idea all the time, but I always sell the subjunctive: if we were to unleash innovation, our nieces/nephews/grandchildren will have richer life. But Forbes's Rich Karlgaard projects the compound interest curve backward. He asks what could have been?

Suppose the U.S. economy, since 1949, were giving up 2% extra growth per year because of bad economic policy. Or, as [Financial advisor Dave] Ramsey might say, because Presidents, legislators and unelected regulators were born stupid or try their best to act that way.

Karlgaard suggests what today's world would look like with 2% better growth. I'll invite you to read the entire short piece. But it is a pretty picture:
--The 2014 GDP would be $32 trillion, not $17 trillion.

-- Per capita income would be $101,000, not $54,000.

-- Per capita wealth would be $480,000, not $260,000. It would probably be higher than that, since savings rates might be higher.

-- The U.S. would have no federal, state or municipal debts or deficits.

-- Pensions would be solid. So would Social Security.

And what of the innovation that extra capital could have financed? He has a few suggestions, but I posit they may not be outlandish enough.

Advocates protecting from "Catastrophic" climate change -- for example -- claim there is little or no cost for their solutions. If I'm wrong, we'll all drown as the waves roll over Weld County; if they're wrong, we'll just have all these groovy solar panels and clean air (and thousands of green jobs if they're on form...)

This is the obvious application, but Karlgaard is talking about regulation across the board. Conceding that some of it has been beneficial -- but correctly stating that the benefits are never compared to the opportunity costs of what we could have done with twice the wealth.

Hat-tip: Insty, who calls it "Heinleinian 'Bad Luck'"

But johngalt thinks:

You two are still setting the bar too low. I'll take the doubled GDP/income/wealth/non-debtedness/innovation AND the comely Chinese lass.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2014 2:20 PM
But Jk thinks:

Twice the money would be easy to explain to the lovely bride...

Posted by: Jk at October 20, 2014 8:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I plugged this post in a call to Grassroots Radio Colorado last evening. Here's the podcast. Start at 23:00, but if you're in a hurry skip to 26:50. But I recommend starting at 23:00.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2014 4:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The rest of the show was pretty good too, including both Tom Tancredo and state senator Kevin Lundberg agreeing with what I'd said. Listen through to the end if you have time.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2014 4:06 PM

And now from the real world

Watched a nice bit of escapism the other night, "World War Z" (I'll give 2.5 stars for decent tension) where a UN "investigator" takes time away from being a soccer Dad to save the world from the undead, with the help of smart, determined people in a shiny WHO building (and the occasional SEAL, Ranger, female Israeli soldier and MOSSAD operative).

Now, cut to headlines where the real-world WHO was found to be "compromising rather than aiding" the Ebola response.

And the greedy, seedy capitalist world manages to make a safe haven for 8000 families right in the middle of hell, by using good common sense, tools at hand "based on the US model" and what must have been a fair degree of grit.

Score card says: Brigdestone 1, WHO/UN 0, Ebola: -4500

No word on whether the investigator found the goods on Didier Bourguet.

But jk thinks:

'Zactly! This is why I have not joined the fear brigade. I certainly do not trust our government or the UN (I wouldn't trust them to refill the salsa bowl at a taco stand) but I think "Capitalism" will protect its assets.

I thought it was Firestone -- they get all the credit for Bridgestone's acumen. That must cheese off some PR folks at Bridgestone. They need a blimp or something...

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2014 10:21 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Shoot; it was Firestone.... need to sack the proofreading staff...

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 21, 2014 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

No -- I think the city was Firestone but the company was Bridgestone.

It's hard to say; I haven't had a very Goodyear.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2014 6:14 PM

October 19, 2014

Review Corner

Smith helped me understand why Whitney Houston and Marilyn Monroe were so unhappy and why their deaths made so many people so sad. He helped me understand my affection for my iPad and my iPhone, why talking to strangers about your troubles can calm the soul, and why people can think monstrous thoughts but rarely act upon them. He helped me understand why people adore politicians and how morality is built into the fabric of the world.
Not bad for an 18th Century bureaucrat.

Russ Roberts has been treated well on these pages. His The Price of Everything somehow escaped Review Corner, but in searching I found several recommendations to buy it -- once to buy two copies. His latest is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness.

While everyone thinks of Adam Smith as the author of Wealth of Nations, Roberts plumbs the depths of his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. I actually read Wealth of Nations. My first economics course assigned several sections and I just read the whole thing. His prose is indeed a bit dense for the modern reader but I enjoyed it. I went back recently to read Theory of Moral Sentiments and stopped a third of the way through. I don't know if I have lost my appreciation for turgid or whether the subject was less interesting, but I quit. I'm not proud of it but, like Spike, I'm man enough to admit it.

Roberts's book on the book (P.J. O'Rourke did a pretty good one on Wealth of Nations), conversely, enraptured me. Why didn't I get this out of it? Some authors are better read about than read. Even my hero Karl Popper falls into this class: Richard Dawkins, Michael Oakeshott -- perhaps I'll just put Smith on this list. Yet I would love to connect with ToMS as Roberts did.

Wealth of Nations is about economics; Theory of Moral Sentiments is about personal choices and structuring your life for optimal satisfaction. That's the conventional wisdom and Roberts does a great job comparing and contrasting the two works. But he asks first whether they are different as they appear. He tries to explain the heart of economics to casual contacts who think he can grace them with a hot stock pick:

Alas, I am not an accountant or a stockbroker, I explain. But one very useful thing I've learned from economics is to be skeptical of advice from stockbrokers about the latest stock that's sure to skyrocket. Saving you from losses isnít as exciting as promising you millions, but it's still pretty valuable.

But the real point is that economics is about something more important than money. Economics helps you understand that money isnít the only thing that matters in life. Economics teaches you that making a choice means giving up something. And economics can help you appreciate complexity and how seemingly unrelated actions and people can become entangled .

Smith's suggestions for complexities and actions and personal choices are not about optimizing capital. Smith's suggestion to which Roberts keeps returning is the twelve words "Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely." To be worthy of esteem, to be admired and admirable. Roberts then mines some superb advice on achieving this

Knowing Roberts from his Café Hayek work and The Price of Everything, he is a great champion of liberty and free markets and limited government and I suspect the Infield Fly Rule. Channeling Smith's temperance and prudence, this is not a strident or pugnacious book. One can almost hear Smith telling me and my Facebook friends to tone it down a bit. The developer of the invisible hand is dubious about excesses of ambition, the great sage of free trade (who ended his career employed as a tariff collector) cautions about excesses in desiring and acquiring the latest gadgets, conveniences and contrivances. The new watch you covet, he cautions, is not likely to make you more punctual.

There are a few shots across the bow -- from Smith and Roberts that will fall harshly on certain ears 'around these parts. Sorry Randians:

This seems to confirm a commonly held view that Smith sees the world as driven by selfishness. Smith is often caricatured as a Scottish forerunner of Ayn Rand, who in addition to Atlas Shrugged wrote a book titled The Virtue of Selfishness. Smith spends a lot of time in The Theory of Moral Sentiments talking about various virtues. Selfishness does not make the cut.

And Prosperitarians:
My point is that the best case Smith can make for material prosperity and commercial life within the pages of The Theory of Moral Sentiments is pretty thin. He is saying that we have within us great drive and ambition, which serves us poorly as individuals but ultimately has led us out of caves and into the sunlight of civilization. It's a compliment, I suppose, but it's pretty backhanded.
Smith couldn't imagine a twenty-first-century machine -- a robot on an assembly line , or an electric razor. But his insights into technology are surprisingly prescient. He understood the human desire to make life easier, better, faster. And he also understood the seductive appeal of machines, and that ear pickers and nail clippers may not always deliver on their promise of excitement and novelty. But we want them anyway, and we look for ways to make them more effective and more elegant.

Roberts points out that the wealthy of his day were noblemen and assorted leeches. Perhaps a McCloskeyesque bourgeoisie would have been more pleasing to his temperament. But I would not bet the proce of a new iEarPicker S6 on it. Smith is the anti-firebrand, though his name comes up frequently in fiery arguments. A longer look shows that he offers wisdom and sagacity -- some better ways to "be lovely."

Smith in his book and with his life is telling us how to live. Seek wisdom and virtue. Behave as if an impartial spectator is watching you. Use the idea of an impartial spectator to step outside yourself and see yourself as others see you. Use that vision to know yourself. Avoid the seductions of money and fame, for they will never satisfy.

This is a superb and charming book. Five stars.

But johngalt thinks:

"See yourself as others see you." Know yourself, seek wisdom and virtue, avoid false virtues. This is truly selfishness, is it not?

The "selfishness" that "does not make the cut" is a package deal comprised of other, shall we say, attributes, that are commonly viewed as benefitting the self but, in fact, are harmful. But your closing quote is quite an elegant description of how to make oneself a priority for one's thoughts and actions.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2014 2:15 PM

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