December 11, 2014

Introducing the NLA

ThreeSourcers have heard this in pieces. As I take my "Libertario Delenda Est" roadshow to the mean streets of Facebook, I need to assemble and clarify my pitch. Comments are most welcome, starting with "Maybe don't tell them right off the top that your primary goal is their destruction."

The news hook is some pretty impressive new polling data from Pew.

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Hat-tip Jim Geraghty who uses the Hillaryesque locution "Don't let anyone tell you that America is destined to sink into progressive decline, and that conservatives and libertarians cannot win public debates:"

Jim, buddy, how much of this victory goes to the NRA? Decades of TV appearances, mobilization on gun rights legislation, and hall-of-fame candidate support. The NRA's quality as a friend or foe is legend -- just ask MSNBC.

Single issue advocacy -- even to the point of angering us by supporting Sen. Harry Reid (Charisma - NV); consistent mobilization of an active voting block -- hey, I have an idea! Why not try this with Libertarians? I mean, an NRA party, nominating fringe candidates would not have made much progress, but... let me think...

Introducing the National Liberty Association -- or as everyone will soon know it: the N.L.A. Introduce some dumb windmill legislation -- you're going to hear from the NLA and all its borderline crazy members. A great liberty candidate like George Leing in the difficult Second Colorado Congressional District could get some serious financial support from liberty lovers all across the country. We'd print bumper stickers that say "David Boaz is my President!" Or, whomever leads this illustrious organization.

And in twenty years, we'd have a Pew Poll that shows unprecedented support for liberty.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (5)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't know how tongue-in-cheek your post is intended, but I think you're on to something. It makes more sense, and would meet with more success, if the Libertarians could morph from an electoral party (which more often than not splits the vote and risks the election of the worst candidate) into an advocacy group, identifying and supporting liberty-leaning candidates.

The NRA serves the public - imperfectly, as with the case of their endorsement of Harry Reid - by sticking to one issue and identifying which candidates most closely support their side of that issue.

Now, the hard part for you is going to be to get the Libertarians to agree on a reliable, measurable way to evaluate and endorse candidates. Imagine, for example, asking thirty randomly-selected Libertarians to evaluate whether Mike Huckabee is more liberty-minded than Rick Santorum, and then justify their answer...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 11, 2014 12:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for playing, Keith. No I am serious as a heart attack. If I have two "things" one is remaking the FDA using Underwriter's Laboratories as an example, and the other is remaking the LP in the mold of the NRA.

As I told the LP candidate for Colorado Attorney General "9% can swing an election but 9% never wins an election."

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 12:45 PM
But jk thinks:

As to the direct question: I'd expect the NLA to sit out an election that offered Gov. Huckabee vs. Sen. Santorum. My hope is that they'd have helped get a better candidate into the race.

Yeah, there will be some bellyaching with this dyspeptic group. But we all grouse about the NRA and enough send in $35 that they've won.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2014 12:48 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Since you're serious, I'm with you. Your NLA wouldn't be a kingmaker, so much as one member of a small Electoral College of Cardinals (how's that for a mash-up?).

I'd seriously consider sending them $35 a year in return for their level-headed, well-reasoned evaluation of the field of likely Republican presidential candidates, and suspect that Mr. Romney and Jeb Bush wouldn't fare all that well. Heck, I'd read their evaluation of the Democrats as well--- since that would be a shorter read.

As an impartial third-party, I also highly endorse your plans for the FDA. It is second only to one plank in my campaign platform: to eliminate the FDA entirely, and let Underwriter's Laboratories, major universities, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman take over that enterprise.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 11, 2014 1:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the concept, you may count me as an inaugural Life Member of the NLA. The next step is actualization. A shortcut to a rapid bootstrap might be to co-opt an existing "Tea Party" group. Or, if you're really ambitious, buy them all out and consolidate into one NLA!

And in the process, get the "Tea Party" out of the immigration or abortion debates.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2014 1:35 PM

August 22, 2014

"I wanna control my own life, not yours"

Mondo cool.

From www.thepartyofchoice.com, where conservative ideals are [hopefully] presented in a non-threatening way to the liberals who, as one co-founder writes, "I despise Liberalism, but I love Liberals."

HT: Kris Cook's 'Grassroots Radio Colorado' program, 560 KLZ 6:00 hour today, 8/21.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:43 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I'd like to encourage viewing of this by not just unaffiliateds, but by conservatives who could use a refresher course in "that's her call, not mine."

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2014 1:19 PM

May 21, 2014

On Science

I am working on a new "Elevator Talk" for Climate Change (or DAWG, as it 's known around these parts). The issue is still politically fraught with peril -- every day, my Facebook includes Sen. Mark Udall's asking Rep. Cory Gardner to "sign his petition affirming climate change." It is a crude distraction from ObamaCare®, but don't think crude does not work [insert random Mencken quote here...]

My position has evolved somewhat over the years: not enough to effect policy, but I have softened pari passu with that big Antarctic sheet of ice.

"So, jk, on a scale from 0-10 where zero is 'it's a hoax' and ten is 'metaphysical certitude: we're all gonna die!' where do you stand on Climate Change?"

Does it have to be an integer? I'd say about 4.5 [Who is unreasonable now, baby? I'm a moderate!] Hoax requires mens rea and I will accept that a preponderance of the scientists are genuinely concerned. Politicians probably run the spectrum from following along to "yes, this'll meet my needs," but I'll accept the scientific concern as legitimate.

That gets me to two.

The science of Physics suggests a 1.3° C temperature rise to accompany a doubling in atmospheric CO2. I'm a big fan of Physics -- I have all their albums [pause for laughter as needed here...] Seriously, that is well founded and experimentally reproducible. I accept, therefore, a projected 1.3 degrees of man made warming over the next 50 years.

I think that gets me to four.

Now, the practitioners of climate science take that 1.3 degrees and multiply like a Keynesian at an all-you-can-eat buffet. They show, through computer modeling, that as it gets warmer, there will be more barbecues, and people will eat more meat, and that increased bovine flatulence will raise the temperature 300 degrees and we'll all broil. Okay, it is not that bad, but they are taking fundamentally good science and taking some liberties with it.

The climate science, unlike the physics, is not reproducible or empirically provable.. In fact, the experiment we call the real world diverges substantively from their models.

This puts all the numbers >= five off limits.

But there is a beta, if I can borrow from finance. There is a non-zero chance that they are right. The introduction of more heat to a complex, chaotic system could start a cycle of warming. I multiply the very small beta of probability by the very large coefficient of suckage should this transpire and get 0.5: ergo 4.5.

SecState Kerry suggests that there is no great cost to overreaction and great costs to under reaction. I purport the exact opposite.

If I -- and Physics -- am right, there is a 1.3 rise, which is well within normal fluctuations. Nobody would have noticed had VP Gore won Florida in 2000 and had other things to spend his time on than movies. If I am wrong, don't we want to be richer and smarter? If we waste our time and innovation on government-directed green boondoggles, we will not have the technology or resources to really tackle it if it is bad.

Well, that's it. I've had this in my head for a few days, but was inspired to try it reading the Guest essay by Steven Burnett on the WattsUpWithThat.com site. Burnett has a degree in Psychology and one in Chemistry. He compares the rigor of soft and hard science.

If I may wax poetic for a moment, the hard sciences are like a rock while the soft sciences are like sand. They are fundamentally composed of the same stuff, but it's the structure that makes them different. You must find a comfortable spot to rest on the rock but sand conforms around you. An uncomfortable rock must be dealt with, sand can simply be brushed away. Rock climbing requires training and equipment, a walk on the beach does not. I have had the opportunity to do both, and from personal experience, rock climbing is both harder and more fulfilling.

UPDATE: In case this post wasn't long enough for you... But I had to share the WSJ Ed Page's answer to Sec. Kerry:
The "worst that can happen" is that we spend trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can't do anything to stop; that we misallocate scarce resources in a way that slows economic growth; that slower growth leads to less economic opportunity for Boston College grads and especially the world's poor, and that America and the world become much less wealthy and technologically advanced than we would otherwise. All of which would make the world less able to cope with the costs of climate change if Mr. Kerry is right.

John:

Having read your thoughtful response concerning MMGW wherein you begin with a "0" to"10" what if, and end with a coolly (warmly?) calculated "4.5", I wish to perhaps precipitate a thaw in your math.

There are three distinct areas of focus, however blurred, for a consciousness. They are ideas, things, and people.

The hallmark of the first is the imagination. It is preoccupied with, in addition to whatever may arise to temporarily occupy its focus, envisioned (visionary?) manifestations of "what ifs."

The second area of focus are "things." The hallmark of this consciousness is curiosity. What, how, and why, are perpetual questions to which such a consciousness endlessly seeks answers.

The third area is people. The hallmark of this consciousness, when whatever imagination (ideas) or curiosity (things) might have initially been at play is/are determined to be of relatively little value, it invariably chooses people as the objects of its focus. The hallmark of such a consciousness is politics.

Of course we each are, in differing proportions, amalgamations of all three. On one end of the spectrum lies the occasional Einstein, exploring the intergalactic vortex while working as a clerk in the patent office, never losing sight of his reverence for science and the requirement that his imagination can only become validated when confirmed by reality.

Representing the other extreme, the likes of Barrack Obama, who, apparently never having had an original thought in his life, merely adapted to playing the political game in which he found himself at birth, consistently through to its current manifestations.

The rise of the idea of man-caused destruction of the Earth is the product of politics. It has no basis in actual science itself, and little in its relatively new and larger arena of science, Climatology.

However, since its political postulation, first as MMGC in the early seventies, then as MMGW, recently MMCC, to now, where I indicated at the last LOTR meeting I heard the first snippets of MMCD (disruption replacing change - the boring and virtually imperceptible pace of change giving way to the far more dramatic and dire term, DISRUPTION ((film at eleven!)), the proponents have been joined by sincere and credible consciousnesses who are honestly trying to investigate said claims. To the extent these additional voices remain credible, and are not shown to be seeking renewed funding or new Grant money, they tend to provide a veneer of respectability to what was/is, on its face, a "modern" vehicle for the destruction of individual freedom and Capitalism.

Now, I do not wish to be what I am arguing against. I always remain open to the possibility that the claim of MMCI (influence replacing whatever might be the latest fashion) is in fact occurring. One of the nasty traits of we humans is that certainty stops inquiry. However, I insist that the motivation for inquiry be imagination or curiosity, not arising from the sewer of politics!

The high priests of the "settled science" of MMCI are certain of their inquiry, and denounce, demean, or discredit, any heresy to the contrary. I therefore am resting comfortably at a .0014, awaiting further demonstrable, repeatable, evidence - not simply the computer modeling of premises.

Dave, the denounced, demeaned, "discredited" denier, Walden

Posted by John Kranz at 10:00 AM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Not evil, just wrong. Whether they know they're wrong or are just myopic, they're wrong. They ignore the buffering effect of water vapor or, as Sonny Bunch explains it, the Godzilla effect.

So what part of this can be explained on the elevator ride? The "I'm a moderate" part? ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2014 1:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Besides, you'll never get a more convincing elevator speech than, "Because, science." And everything you're associated with "sucks balls" if you dare to try.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2014 2:19 PM
But jk thinks:

[I interrupt this thread with some very good news. We have successfully recruited a new blogger to ThreeSources. Dave is a frequent Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons guest. He and often vie for who gets the first question in, but his are better.

I'll wait until the lawyers sign-off before formal announcements, but here is the kind of discourse we'll be seeing 'round these parts -- jk]

Having read your thoughtful response concerning MMGW wherein you begin with a "0" to"10" what if, and end with a coolly (warmly?) calculated "4.5", I wish to perhaps precipitate a thaw in your math.

There are three distinct areas of focus, however blurred, for a consciousness. They are ideas, things, and people.

The hallmark of the first is the imagination. It is preoccupied with, in addition to whatever may arise to temporarily occupy its focus, envisioned (visionary?) manifestations of "what ifs."

The second area of focus are "things." The hallmark of this consciousness is curiosity. What, how, and why, are perpetual questions to which such a consciousness endlessly seeks answers.

The third area is people. The hallmark of this consciousness, when whatever imagination (ideas) or curiosity (things) might have initially been at play is/are determined to be of relatively little value, it invariably chooses people as the objects of its focus. The hallmark of such a consciousness is politics.

Of course we each are, in differing proportions, amalgamations of all three. On one end of the spectrum lies the occasional Einstein, exploring the intergalactic vortex while working as a clerk in the patent office, never losing sight of his reverence for science and the requirement that his imagination can only become validated when confirmed by reality.

Representing the other extreme, the likes of Barrack Obama, who, apparently never having had an original thought in his life, merely adapted to playing the political game in which he found himself at birth, consistently through to its current manifestations.

The rise of the idea of man-caused destruction of the Earth is the product of politics. It has no basis in actual science itself, and little in its relatively new and larger arena of science, Climatology.

However, since its political postulation, first as MMGC in the early seventies, then as MMGW, recently MMCC, to now, where I indicated at the last LOTR meeting I heard the first snippets of MMCD (disruption replacing change - the boring and virtually imperceptible pace of change giving way to the far more dramatic and dire term, DISRUPTION ((film at eleven!)), the proponents have been joined by sincere and credible consciousnesses who are honestly trying to investigate said claims. To the extent these additional voices remain credible, and are not shown to be seeking renewed funding or new Grant money, they tend to provide a veneer of respectability to what was/is, on its face, a "modern" vehicle for the destruction of individual freedom and Capitalism.

Now, I do not wish to be what I am arguing against. I always remain open to the possibility that the claim of MMCI (influence replacing whatever might be the latest fashion) is not in fact occurring. One of the nasty traits of we humans is that certainty stops inquiry. However, I insist that the motivation for inquiry be imagination or curiosity, not arising from the sewer of politics!

The high priests of the "settled science" of MMCI are certain of their inquiry, and denounce, demean, or discredit, any heresy to the contrary. I therefore am resting comfortably at a .0014, awaiting further demonstrable, repeatable, evidence - not simply the computer modeling of premises.

Dave, the denounced, demeaned, "discredited" denier, Walden

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2014 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Welcome to the page! Racist. /sarcasm ;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2014 6:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

See? https://www.facebook.com/DailyCaller/photos..

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2014 3:43 PM

April 29, 2014

What I Learned in Peloponnese...

Whoa. David Brooks is right. I was readying the stopped-clock gags, but the NYTimes's political-trouser-pressing critic has a superb column which introduces a topic I wanted to discuss. Spoiler alert -- I want to share the end but recommend the entire piece:

The liberal pluralistic system is not a spontaneous natural thing. Preserving that hard-earned ecosystem requires an ever-advancing fabric of alliances, clear lines about what behavior is unacceptably system-disrupting, and the credible threat of political, financial and hard power enforcement.

Deepak Lal -- call your office. But the point I hoped to make was the comparison of anarcho-capitalism and socialism. A great friend of this blog riffs that the proponents of both build their premises on prelapsarian man. "If men were Angels..." James Madison intoned.

My contribution, besides sharing the awesome word, prelapsarian, with you, is this. The Rule of jk:

Neither liberty nor prosperity is a natural state.

We, of the liberty ilk, chide the left for their half. They see the land of milk of honey, with happy people hunting plentiful buffalo and enjoying organic carrots -- until the mean old corporations and greedy Wall Street bankers ruined everything. Deirdre McCloskey is turned on her head to my lefty friends.

But I appeal to my righty friends to eschew not only anarcho-capitalism, but also isolationism. Surely Rep. Ron Paul isolationism -- we'll negotiate with Paul the Younger. These Righty Facebook Friends (RFFs) are increasingly contemptuous of "consent of the governed." Even accepting the Constitution, one can make a perfect case for Ron Paulism -- more easily than for the Deepak Lal side.

I learned on these very pages that Thomas Hobbes translated Thucydides to English. Now we know where he "got his mellow harshed." Just as the natural economic state is poverty and privation, digging for roots with a stick to try and ingest enough calories -- the natural political state is for some person or group to come take those roots and your stick away from you.

Brooks is dead right -- maintaining a Lal-ian Liberal International Economic Order is difficult and we lack the stomach for it. Make your choices, but do not pretend that everything will be fine. That the terrorists just want us to leave them alone and that Putin just wants us to stop giving them stupid props. China just wants a couple of rocks in the ocean.

UPDATE: Heh. Insty links to the same column, importunely pointing out "This a direct consequence of who we elected in 2008. You, David, were a part of that."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes, I'm not finished.

My premise above mirrors Brooks' description of the pre-modern order throughout recorded history: That "Powerful people have generally tried to impose their version of the Truth on less powerful people."

But the modern order Brooks thinks we should "die" for includes exactly this, as factions are molded and shaped and allied to create, what? Democratic majorities. Which do, what? Impose their version of the Truth on the less powerful.

Okay, now I'm finished.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2014 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Firstly: you're not going to want to wait until Sunday's Review Corner to order your copy of David Harsanyi [all Hail His Holy Name]'s The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy.

Secondo: Not sure who gets the unequivocal and all caps no. Dost thou let Mister Brooks off the hook? The [albeit-token] Conservative at the NYTimes gives the all-clear to vote for the Democrat, based on . . . the crease of his trousers.

I was alive in 2008. Two-thousand-eight was a friend of mine. Many people I know thought that Senator Obama's professed plans to hastily reduce forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were reckless. David Brooks and Peggy Noonan provided cover for any Republicans who wanted to get swept in the celebrity fervor of "Our Nation's first African-American President™" and vote their conscience and dry-cleaning over a sober recognition of America's place in the world.

Likewise, Governor Romney was ridiculed in 2012 for his "Cold War mentality." I may be arguing with a statement you did not make, but I do not plan to forgive Brooks & Noonan (isn't that a C&W act?" until they admit culpability and beg forgiveness.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2014 3:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I am not Jesus but I can forgive. Are you and Mr. Reynolds not making the same reflexive overreaction as the RFFs you so rightly chided, mere paragraphs earlier? They did the wrong thing, and for the wrong reasons, but as long as they're serious about saving the liberty and prosperity of the modern era, and casting off the quest for "progress and global goodness" welcome under the tent Mr. Brooks and Ms. Noonan. Now, help me get your dumbass - excuse me, urbane - friends to vote for new restrictions on what can be done to people through the vote! Let's try again at that "republic" thingy. This time, without the anachronistic flaws.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2014 4:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Or, as Xander said, "The quality of mercy is not Buffy" (I Only Have Eyes for You, Season 2).

Forgiveness is swell, but neither Brooks nor our Margaret have come back to be reliable defenders of liberty. Nor has either acknowledged his or her mistake.

I'd greet either warmly and buy coffee at The Black Dog Coffee Shop, but both represent eastern elitism above liberty. When they do write good columns, I will happily recognize them.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2014 5:57 PM
But jk thinks:

All Hail Taranto?

Why? One reason was because of the cult of personality that surrounded Barack Obama during his campaign and the early days of his presidency. His supporters, including many journalists, were the functional equivalent of Data's virtual audience, cheering Obama no matter what he said or did. The virtual audience may be smaller now, but it's heavily represented at Vox.com--although it must be acknowledged that Klein, Fisher, Kliff and the rest of the "data-driven journalists" are all too human.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2014 7:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"NO" doesn't mean I don't hold Brooks, Noonan, Obama, Biden, Holder, Roberts, Kerry, Clinton, on and on ad infinitum responsible, it just means that getting rid of that army of people with bad ideas won't prevent a new wave from taking their place and doing the same thing. (Hence the term "ad infinitum.") Structural change is required. A "fundamental transformation" from the democracy we have crept toward and now find ourselves in, back to the republic our forbears were once bequeathed.

You're talking about the trees while I'm saying, "See that forest?"

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2014 11:35 AM

August 20, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

Aside from these personal fixes, there is a solution to put the country (including any wayward stragglers or stunted post-adolescents) back on the path of prosperity. Americans could stop supporting anti-growth politicians pushing agendas that strangle the economy, weaken the dollar, and surreptitiously erode civil liberties, but let’s be serious. 60% of those ages 18-29 reelected President Obama. So, what’s left? Keep checking feeds, going on pointless dates, and buying more gadgets? Frankl would tell the lost ones to find a will to meaning in this world, but finding purpose can be put off, even if the abyss persists and they pester the rest of the world as impotently self-involved non-starters, for lack of ever finding a self or a start.

From an excellent awesome Forbes article Millions Of Millenials Live At Home And Support The Policies That Keep Them There by millenial Maura Pennington (BA Russian, Dartmouth, 2009.)

HT: Rush Limbaugh

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:02 PM | Comments (4)
But Terri thinks:

Oh brother.
They are certainly lost, those who have no will to be on their own.
Were they coddled too much? Are there so many rules that the paradigm becomes, "I can't"? I wanted to live on own so badly as an 18 year old I shared a studio with 4 other people in order to do so. It was well worth it, and I had a great child hood home.

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:21 PM
But Terri thinks:

Of course I also walked 5 miles up hill both ways to get to school in the mornings. :-)

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Limbaugh riffed on this some more yesterday. He said millenials are taught they're "special" even without accomplishing anything, and that the pathway to happiness (or to be "free from want?") is to, simply, want less. Forget a car, use a bike and the bus. Forget an apartment, just hang in the 'rents basement. Wardrobe? How much do blue jeans and Che T-shirts cost, anyway?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Does that include Kim Kardashian in an Obama Shirt?

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:43 PM

August 13, 2013

"Of Course We Know That!"

Better late than never, Paul David Hewson.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2013

Reverse iatrogenic alert!

You'd have to get stuck on an elevator to complete Randy Barnett's 20 page Chapman Law Review article. Still, download a PDF for nothin' and email it to your Kindle.

I find it to be the most complete, brief description of what I believe. I think I will float a link on Facebook. A taste:

What happens in a social democracy when 51% of the voters
discover it can vote to "redistribute" the wealth of--or impose
their moral vision upon--the other 49%? Or more likely, what
happens when political entrepreneurs inspire, say, 80% of the
electorate to confiscate the income or wealth of the 20%? When
this happens, how will social democracy preserve the individual
sovereignty that the Third Way approach concedes is needed as a
baseline? What realistic mechanisms are proposed by advocates
of the Third Way superimposition of social justice or legal
moralism on the libertarian rights of property and contract to
ensure against this outcome?

I have been teaching law and writing about liberty for over
thirty years now, and I have yet to hear any such proposal from
any of my colleagues. It would be genuinely enlightening to hear
how advocates of supplanting or overriding the libertarian rights
that define individual sovereignty propose to limit the coercive
powers they seek to the particular vision of social justice or
morality that they offer to justify this claim of power. It would be
equally enlightening to hear proponents of social democracy tell
us how it will not eventually devour the individual rights that
provide the foundation for their additional schemes of
redistribution or morals regulation. Is this not a reasonable
request?


Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee respectfully submits this definition of "social justice": Taking from the few to buy votes from the many.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2013 5:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

...and thanks for making him look up "iatrogenic."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 27, 2013 5:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That was FDR's version of "social justice" BR. Obama's is "Buying votes from as many as you need to in order to take as much from as many as you can." To Barack, FDR was a piker.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2013 5:49 PM
But jk thinks:

The Refugee is forgiven for missing a Review Corner. It happens; we understand.

(And the headline should be "inverse iatrogenic" -- ThreeSources apologizes for the error.)

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2013 5:52 PM

August 9, 2012

Elevator Talkin'

Been way too long since this category was hit. It's a short ride today, but while we wait for the delivery guy to get in I have a short digression.

At the last "Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons" I was asked to describe ThreeSources. Here I was in a friendly setting, describing something I love to a sympathetic party and... Sadly, blog friend Terri was there to hear the ensuing abortion. Memo to self: create elevator talk for blog (suggestions gleefully accepted). It was sad.

Today's elevator talk is a suggested term for what I am. To the cognoscenti, I call myself a "classical liberal" for those I'm unsure will get that, I love Milton Friedman's "I'm a little-l libertarian and big-R Republican." That's what I say on my Facebook profile.

But try this out: "I'm a Constitutional Libertarian." I recognize it is difficult to organize society. I hold that anarcho-capitalism is no more viable than full-tilt communism. "Both," blog friend Sugarchuck would gravely intone, "assume a pre-lapsarian human perfection." And then he'd make you read Michael Novak.

Once we admit that some structure is desirable, we have to draw the line. I suggest the American founders did as good a job at that task as we are likely to encounter. I therefore champion the freedoms protected in United States Constitution as amended (Article V is no less valid than the others). I'll accept that with which I disagree -- if others will honor the limits on government with which I concur.

This is my floor, but I'll give you this pre-printed handout with quotes:

...although certain contradictions in the Constitution did leave a loophole for the growth of statism, the incomparable achievement was the concept of a constitution as a means of limiting and restricting the power of the government.

Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals--that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government--that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens' protection against the government. -- Ayn Rand


It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what is will be tomorrow. -- James Madison

Have a nice day!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

ThreeSources is a place where two kinds of people congregate for rational discussion: guitar players and non-guitar players.

ThreeSources is polite but not politically-correct.

We welcome all points of view but demand consistency both intellectually and with reality.

We love our fellow man to the point of brotherhood but we are not our brother's keeper nor wish any man to be ours.

We believe in happiness, liberty and prosperity and seek to not only live our own lives to their highest potential but to leave an even greater potential to our posterity.

Every ThreeSourcer understands that private individual property rights are the greatest exponent of liberty and any economic or political system which does not respect this right as an absolute is inconsistent with liberty.

In conclusion, the dominant sentiment of contributors and commenters at ThreeSources can be summarized in the words of author Robert A. Heinlein who wrote in 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' (1966) - "I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2012 3:14 PM

May 15, 2012

The Gay Marriage "Distraction"

It is a well travelled Republican talking point that the gay marriage issue is a distraction from President Obama's economic record. It's true of course, but the Republicans are as much to blame for said distraction as the Democrats.

A friend from suburban Wichita, Kansas emails a link to this story about a public school teacher posting his views against gay marriage on his Facebook page. He has every right to his beliefs, of course, and to speak them publicly. But by continuing to oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage we allow him to become the face of our conservative party. I will not stand silently by. How many of us have wished we could have been present in the face of an incident of racial discrimination in the segregated south and that we would have had the courage to say, "No, that is wrong?" Same story, different age.

My Kansas friend sent the link with the note "Need your comments here" to both me and my brother. What follows is my response, which rebutted my brother's.

[Brother] writes that it is "nonsense" that established law denies a right for same-sex marriage, then declares there is "no defined right for same sex couples to "marry." Which is it?

[Brother] writes that "The majority of the country does not care what people do in their own bedrooms or whom they decide to 'love'" but then proclaims homosexuality "abnormal" and that he doesn't support homosexual weddings because that would "redefine something that has been a pillar of communities for 5000+ years" and "the more we break down the institution of marriage to simply be a whim, the more our society will continue to degrade." So you, and "the majority of the country" are fine with homosexuality, you just don't want to acknowledge it in law?

[Brother] faults Conkling, the Hutchinson teacher, for "taking the cause backwards" and "fuel[ing] the opposition" by opposing gay marriage on religious grounds. I say [brother] is no different by attempting to oppose this individual liberty on non-religious grounds, whatever those might be. Until he clarifies his contradictions there's no way to know what objective basis he claims.

Conkling's "logic" is even more fallacious: Homosexuality is wrong because it is a sin, equal in God's eyes to all other sins, and we are ALL sinners. He says all sins are equal in God's eyes so homosexuality is equal to murder, but it's also equal to lying. Do you agree that lying is as wrong as murder? I don't. Conkling says he condemns gay marriage "because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." First of all, doesn't the bible teach man to "judge not?" Secondly, there are other beliefs about heaven and sin and for one man to impose his own upon all other men is just as wrong as Sharia law.

Would it not be better to simply allow civil unions, conferring all the legal rights of marriage while witholding the term "marriage" than to continue to allow this issue to divide Americans and distract from issues that actually matter to all of us, like whether or not America will be a socialist country? And even if they aren't satisfied with civil unions and come back next year demanding "marriage" who cares? Whatever it is called it will still be a minority behavior. Unlike drug legalization nobody makes a legitimate case that legal homosexual marriage will cause more homosexuality. (But so what if it did? Will that affect you? Your children? Anyone who is not "abnormal?")

The cause of western laissez-faire capitalism is a cause of individual liberty. Individual liberty in commerce is a human birthright, as is individual liberty in social relations. Individuals are, by their nature, free to join a commune or establish a nuclear family; free to love another of the same gender or of the opposite gender. If you want to live free of oppressive taxation and wealth redistribution your only argument is individual liberty as a human birthright. But you weaken that argument by denying others a liberty of which you disapprove. Stop it. Admit your mistake and strengthen your position in the debate that really matters - that really affects you and your family's lives - by abandoning a debate that doesn't matter. Don't insist that your beliefs hold dominion over the beliefs of others lest they turn your logic back on you and insist that you are your brother's keeper.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:23 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Agreed and well said. There are quite a few things which may be defined as sinful which we do not elevate to statute. "Coveting thy neighbor's ass" is still okay in Weld County, as far as I know.

I allowed a many-years-old subscription to National Review elapse when they demanded -- on the cover -- a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage. I wasn't petulant about it, still respect NR, and have slid a little money their way since.

But I basically reached the same conclusion, that I could not employ the supremacy clause for a personal matter and expect others to defend my economic liberty. I suspect that would not have happened under WFB's more libertarian hand but I have no empirical proof.

On the pragmatic side, I think it remains a killer. Trying to attract somebody younger than 30 to the table of liberty is difficult in the wake of North Carolina's vote and now Colorado's lack of vote.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2012 6:45 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

JK drops his subscription to the National Review and I drop out of the Republican party. I struggled for several weeks about attending our caucuses, knowing that Party of God types would choose Rick Santorum and that a majority of the evening would be spent pushing an amendment to our state constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Even before Obama weighed in the strategy was to generate voter turnout based on opposition to gays. I cant possibly vote for Obama but I will not be in a party or campaign that seeks to benefit from an assault on the dignity and liberty of my brothers and sisters. And I won't be alone. Republicans are on the wrong side of history when it comes to Gay rights and they will pay a price for decades to come. Fifty years from now nobody will remember the Bidden gaffes or Obama's fundraising predicament; people will remember the first black president was the first to run for office as a supporter of gay marriage. Democrats enjoy almost unanimous suppport in the African American community based on Kennedy/Johnson era civil rights legislation and if Republicans don't wake up they will lose another voting block.

JK and John Galt, as always, provide a reasoned argument rooted in the Constitution and I appreciate that but this has become something more visceral for me. A couple of weeks ago a little girl in a town next to ours hung herself after being bullied for a year over her mother's sexual orientation. Last night I went to a funeral for one of my daughter's classmates. He climbed onto an overpass and jumped onto the highway below. He was bullied to death for being Gay. I am sickened and heartbroken. I will not be in a party that would deny the basic human dignity and equallity due every man and woman. I wont be part of a political movent that would deny the choice of marriage, the most important, valuable and meaningful decision I've ever made, to others. Bob Marley sings of "forwardin' this generation triumphantly," though in my case it is our younger generation that has been "forwarding" me. Henceforth I intend to help them "sing songs of freedom" and if the Republican party wants to block freedom's way I intend to roll right over them.

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 16, 2012 9:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

JK is correct about established attitudes, and I think my brother's beliefs reflect his environment more than his heart. The Kansas friend I mentioned lives near Wichita, more evangelical even than Colorado Springs and yet he replied to me, "in my world in Kansas USA I could care less what the corn-****ers do, just don't interfere with me or my family." A libertarian position that, if a bit intemperately stated.

I can't cite examples of friends or neighbors who've been affected by discrimination, and dagny observed that my attitude has *ahem* evolved. I can say I was profoundly ashamed when my neighbors and fellow delegates loudly booed the speaker from Colorado Log Cabin Republicans when he suggested the Colorado civil unions bill should be supported. When I said, fairly loudly and to no one in particular, "Hey, be nice" the woman next to me turned around incredulously. The rest of the conversation was unspoken but I do believe I impressed upon her that her attitude was something upon which she should reflect.

I had a similar experience at the Romney rally last week. A woman asked me if I wanted to sign her pro-life petition, ubiquitious at GOP events. I shook my head and asked her if she was aware that over two-thirds of Republican delegates to the state convention approved a resolution that abortion and pregnancy are personal, private matters and not the business of government. She was speechless but a man nearby blurted out, "Well they are wrong!"

In the first case I pleaded for civility, and in the second merely cited a fact. The reaction from those who heard me was reflexive, but shallow and unsupported. There was no furher debate or discussion, the respondents merely drifted away silently. These are simply ideas which they've never considered. None has dared utter them in such settings, in all likelihood.

Ayn Rand said that silence in the presence of ideas which you find abhorrent is tacit approval of them. Simply say, "I disagree" she advised in 'Philosophy, Who Needs It?' I hope that brother Sugarchuck, or any of the rest of us, will not abandon the Republican party when it most needs a voice for liberty. Our country's present state of divisivness and the failed leadership of the president present an opportunity to discredit the idea of socialism, but the left is not the only source of discredited ideas - the unchallenged dogma of social "norms" on the right should be confronted at the very same time.

To those who say that gay marriage or even civil unions are just a "drip, drip, drip of liberalism" I give the following reply:

Liberalism was established for the promotion of liberty. Thomas Jefferson was a "liberal." George Washington was a "liberal." Modern leftists co-opted the term and it has come to mean socialist or communist. I'm all for liberalism, but not socialism or communism. I understand the difference. Do you?
Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2012 12:27 PM

October 12, 2011

Dear Dirty Hippies for Paul:

October 12, 2011

Occupy Wall Street
Zuccotti Park
New York, NY USA

Dear Dirty Hippies and Ron Paul supporters:

Not all of you, just the supporters of Rep. Ron Paul who have joined forcers with the #occupywallstreet movement. I see "End the Fed" signs during news coverage and I have read about your presence in Reason and CATO.

I fear you have made a mistake in your choice of solidarity. You have found those who share your temperament and emotions, rather than those who share your ideas, philosophy and values. Why does Doctor Paul want to end the Fed? Because he considers it an assault on property rights. He makes an eloquent and substantive case that to devalue the currency is to steal the loss in value to currency holders. I don't agree with every facet, but it is a serious argument and well worthy of discussion.

Hans Hermann-Hoppe says of Ludwig von Mises: "Mises condensed the definition of liberalism into a single term: private property" and I surmise that Paul considers this both a foundation of our liberty and cornerstone of his philosophy.

Your newfound friends at the protests share your distrust of government, bailouts, too-big-too-fail banks, and Corporatism in general. But they do not share your belief in property rights. Quite the contrary, their demands seem to center on loan forgiveness. Ordinary Americans borrowed money in a legal market with all protections of contract law for housing or education, and have now decided that the lenders have zero right to the contracted repayment.

This turns Ron Paul's beliefs on their head. He worries about 2 or 3% annual theft of the value to a saver's cash holdings -- your fellow travelers advocate a 100% immediate theft of the property of legitimate debt and bond holders. They are not your friends.

Leave them. Go home. Take a shower.

, evoL
Johnny

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Five stars. The best synopsis of the whole Occupy Movement I have yet read, heard or pondered.

And also the best Elevator Talk, evah - while also using the 'Dirty Hippies' tag! I am so jealous in my awe.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2011 3:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Thank you for the kind words.

Posted by: jk at October 12, 2011 4:37 PM
But gd thinks:

Incredibly well said jk. I read a quote from the ancient orator Isocrates the other day that made me think of you and jg: "Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress."

Posted by: gd at October 12, 2011 5:12 PM

September 23, 2011

Elizabeth Warren Elevator Talk

Blog brother jk appealed for Randian elevator speeches to answer the latest liberal female candidate for Ted Kennedy's senate seat who said, "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own - nobody."

My first temptation was to say, "Please read Craig Biddle's (not Bill Whittle) essay on Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society. It is superb. But it is far more than an elevator ride. And that is the trouble. Americans have been taught for generations that it is unconscionable for "the richest nation in the world" to let any of our neighbors go hungry or be denied the latest medical treatments. How does anyone counter this belief in even the world's longest elevator ride? Perhaps like this...

A human is a living thing that cannot survive without using his or her mind to identify values and act to achieve them. Values begin with those things which a human needs for survival. They begin with food, shelter, clothing. They then progress on a scale from necessities to comforts and then luxuries.

Civilization and prosperity have made luxuries into comforts and comforts into necessities. But civilization also tries to make leisure into work. Our prosperity has convinced many of us that there is enough wealth to go around to everybody, so nobody needs to work any longer. This fiction is extended even beyond the realm of materials and into services, such as medical treatment and disaster assistance. But there is no free lunch. Without production and commerce there is no prosperity, and production is not automatic. No man will work to create something unless he will profit. No man will learn medicine and care for others unless he receives a comparable value in return.

Businessmen, of all people, recognize the value of a polite society. Why do you think they always tried to hire Clint Eastwood to protect their two-bit town from the local gang? This is why most people are happy to pay a nominal tax to support basic government services, or even a higher tax for some extra-special services. But still more taxes to transfer his wealth to the less industrious are another matter. Take away a man's profit without his consent and he will either stop producing things you used to get from him or he'll leave your civilization and start his own somewhere beyond your reach. Either way, you are worse off than when you worked for your own earnings and traded with him fairly.

Of course, all of this presumes that your goal is to be happy and prosperous in your own life. Some men aspire to nothing more than to harm others. Don't be that guy, and don't demand what you haven't earned.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:34 AM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

I should be clear -- your stuff is quite good. I was suggesting Mister Biddle had gone a little farther into the weeds than the average political moderate can be led.

Kumbaya!

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2011 3:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. http://i.imgur.com/sHUN2.jpg

Hat-tip Jonah

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2011 4:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome. I'm not worthy!

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2011 5:17 PM
But Terri thinks:

"Focusing on infrastructure as the crucial support of entrepreneurial activity is like crediting the guy who built young Bill Gates' garage with the start of Microsoft."

The two story rebuttal from Rich Lowry.

Posted by: Terri at September 23, 2011 10:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Like!"

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2011 11:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Made my first try today. A Facebook comment makes an elevator ride look long, but my brother got this in response to the picture of her with her remarks;

------------------------------------------------
If given more respect for property rights than Professor Warren showed on the consumer banking project, those successful factory owners will happily fund "the next kid" who comes along.

Nobody gets rich in a vacuum or without property rights -- there is a great weekend editorial on Hayek and The Cloud at WSJ. But it is unconscionable to say that it takes a village to raise a billionaire -- if you remove a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, TJ Rodgers or Andy Grove, it changes the world. Even though there are still roads for iPods and computers to be delivered on. Those visionaries created their wealth ex nihilo and we all benefitted from it.

I disagree with Warren to the central fibers of my being, but I applaud her for making a rational (if boneheadedly wrong) argument in favor of Progressivism. Individual achievement is the most important thing in the betterment of mankind, and man, as the owner of his person is fully entitled to the fruits of his labor.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2011 7:22 PM

June 16, 2011

On Plunder

JK gave me the bountiful gift of a link to Bastiat's "The Law." A principal theme therein is the immorality of plunder, whether by individuals or by the government. Why? Because man, liberty and property existed before law.

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

He explains how law becomes immoral when it becomes an instrument of plunder, on the part of the group against individuals. So it may be said that Democrats and Progressives are willing to engage in group plunder despite, on the whole, opposing it on principle when exercised by individuals. Many contemporary Republicans have also taken this stance.

The TEA Party is the nation's last, strongest bullwark against that tendency. Quoting from "The Law:"

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain -- and since labor is pain in itself -- it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

"The TEA Party - Making plunder more painful than work since 2010."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2010

"This business of centralization"

Hundreds of years of arguing, and it strikes me that the key philosophical/political difference is devilishly simple. I think I can describe it fairly and succinctly:

Progressives envision the good that government can do, and see no reason to limit its effectiveness. ThreeSourcers see the evil that government can do and see no reason to allow it to encroach unless necessary.

Two hundred twenty four years, billions of dollars and shed blood for elections -- is it really more than that? This not particularly original insight was focused by Damon Root's piece in Reason: "The Never-Ending 'Business of Centralization.'"

Root opens with Schechter Poultry Corp v United States, the "sick chicken case" Amity Schlaes discusses in "The Forgotten Man."

But the Supreme Court wasn't having it. The NIRA must fall, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote for the majority, otherwise there would "be virtually no limit to the federal power, and, for all practical purposes, we should have a completely centralized government." Progressive Justice Louis Brandeis, usually a hero to the New Deal set, was equally blunt, informing White House lawyers Tommy Corcoran and Ben Cohen, "This is the end of this business of centralization, and I want you to go back and tell the president that we're not going to let this government centralize everything."

The Four Horsemen fell to the Three Musketeers, Hughes was replaced by Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, and the absolute brake on centralization fell to Wickard v Filburn...and y'all know the rest.

But there is a chance in the ObamaCare fight that the raw question will come out and that there might be a discussion of limiting federal power. Maybe.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

I like your unoriginal but effective elevator speech. And for those "in the know" I can sum the whole thing in a single word: Miranda.

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2010 2:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahaha. My second comment miscontruction this week. I thought you meant Miranda v Arizona and I was to claim being conflicted. Yes, that Miranda.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2010 4:06 PM
But dagny thinks:

I do not disagree with the dichotomy. However, I would take it a step further. Those who see no reason, "to limit the effectiveness of government," fail to acknowledge that all government resources come from taxation at the expense of individuals. I submit that it is IMMORAL to allow it to encroach beyond the limited constitutional purposes of government because all such encroachment benefits some citizens at the expense of others.

This is not an original argument either but one that I rarely see presented.

Posted by: dagny at December 24, 2010 6:48 PM

July 18, 2010

COEXIST II

COEXIST%21bumper%20sticker.jpg

Better?

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:01 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Awesome on stilts!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2010 12:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Or how about: ESCHEW USUFRUCT!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2010 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is that German? ;)

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2010 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Nein. A legal term describing a situation wherein a person or company has a temporary right to use and derive income from someone else's property (provided that it isn't damaged).

My internal definition does not include the "not damnaged" clause.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2010 2:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking of changing the exclaimation point to a question mark and changing "don't demand" to "stop demanding."

And if I could I'd add, at the bottom in small type, "(and practicing human sacrifice.)"

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2010 3:38 PM

June 11, 2010

Everything I Believe

Well, except to always play a flat ninth when the charts call for a dominant seventh...

The rest of what I believe is that prosperity begets labor satisfaction. My great friend Silence likes to talk about "unfettered capitalism" and claim that government action took us from the American-Dickensian 19th Century to the middle-class distribution of the 20th.

A U of Maryland Professor was on Stossel's show last night, bravely taking the anti-Milton Friedman argument in front of a hostile studio audience. He had the same pitch: "Do you want to return to the nineteenth century?" (I hear the ThreeSources Cognoscenti yelling "Heck Yeah!") "Children working for a dollar a day?"

But the problem with the world of the Vanderbilts and Goulds and Rockyfellas was not the distribution. There just was not enough wealth to go around. Evenly dividing all the so called robber barons' money among the populace would not have made everyone rich.

What got kids out of sweatshops in Dickensian England and post-bellum America was a growth in prosperity, not a growth in government power. And now the Milton Magic is spreading into China:

The supply of Chinese migrant workers from the countryside, once thought to be endless, is running dry, and that is giving workers leverage to demand bigger pay packets. The brief drop-off in orders brought on by the global financial crisis provided a respite, as did a recent drought in southwest China that spurred extra migration to the coastal factory zones. But shoe manufacturers are the canary in the coal mine. An American industry association recently polled its members and found that 88% saw a labor shortage in China, and almost as many had experienced late deliveries as a result.

As these workers turn into consumers, that will lift free societies in Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

I heartily agree with your premise that as more wealth is created, more people can be prosperous. But lets also emphasize that it is not only the wealthy who can create wealth. At every level of the economic ladder, when value is traded for value wealth is created.

And what gets kids (and anyone else) out of sweatshops is ingenuity, automation, and electric power not least of the uses for such include air conditioning.

Every new gerrymander of wages and benefits simply raises costs, making everyone proportionately poorer. Want to help people prosper and rise up the ladder? Leave them alone!

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2010 11:10 AM
But jk thinks:

Glad to see brother jg joining the Ricardians! Yes, every worker can contribute to wealth creation by exercising his/her comparative advantage.

Now will you join me in facilitating the importation of more low income workers from Mexico?

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2010 12:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You know I'm on board for that brother, given workable protections against social service consumption, illegal voting and language and cultural corruption of our public schools.

Of course, they're all moot for so long as our betters in Washington continue to outlaw low-wage labor. Getting into the country isn't the only thing migrant workers do illegally.

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2010 3:16 PM

April 5, 2010

'Leave Us Alone' -

'Getting the government's hands off our money, our guns, our lives.' The 2008 Grover Norquist book by this name posited a future politics driven by the "Leave Us Alone Coalition" on one side and the "Takings Coalition" on the other. This dovetails nicely with our recent discussion and Norquist apparently addresses the social values schizm toward the end of the book [Craig Matteson review]:

If I disagree with Norquist on anything it is his rough dismissal of social conservative issues towards the end of the book. However, I understand his emphasis on economic issues and their rough correlation with social conservative issues. That is, if you look at all economic conservatives in the Republican party, they will also include almost all of the social conservatives and some of those who are more liberal on social issues. So, we get more voters to help us win our issues with economics. This ignores the reality that for social conservatives, some issues are so vital that sitting home or creating a new party would be better alternatives than letting them slip out of the public debate.

If there is anything that religious leaders can do to help save America and the American way of life it is to disabuse their flocks from keeping social issues in the public political debate. Take them back to the public moral debate where they rightly belong.

And "Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally" is a good place to start.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2009

Selling Freedom to a Polity That Does Not Value It

Media Flash - Female, non-white, lauds Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' explaining how it changes lives.

JK asked the title question. This is my first answer.

Hat tip: Brother Russ

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2009

Can we talk about healthcare reform?

In a family email dialog about healthcare reform my brother asked a first cousin once removed: "I can't believe that you would be supportive of socialized medicine - are you?"

The cousin replied,

"Generally speaking yes I am. Although I don't think any of the proposals on the table are perfect.

But you shouldn't be worried. Even if a perfect bill was drafted, it won't pass. Politicians are incapable of getting tough things done."

What follows is my contribution to the thread. It's important to first note that the cousin and his wife (the first cousin not-removed) both happen to work in the airline industry.

You know, it's interesting that you say that. I happen to support socialized air travel. I think that everyone should be able to get the same access to free jet trips whenever they need them, regardless of their ability to pay. I believe that air travel is a right and that people who provide it should not make such an obscene profit! I am sure that airfares would be much lower if there was a single payer system so that efficiencies and economies of scale could come into play. In addition, it is absolutely unconscionable that the super rich can fly in first-class comfort simply because they happen to have so much more money than anyone else. I think that first-class service should be abolished so that coach will be available for more flyers at the same total cost. And who on earth thinks that the elderly should be flying? Those people have lived full and rich lives already. We need to leave the thrill and growth opportunities that flying offers for younger people who will get more “adventure memory years” from each flight than those geriatrics would.

And before you ask, no, I don't support socialized engineering services. Engineers are highly trained professionals who have taken the individual initiative to learn the specialized skills and principles that they apply to important needs of society. By taking away the right of individual engineers to offer their services on a free market at the highest price that any customer is willing to pay him the excellent engineers will have no incentive to work harder and more ingeniously than the sad-sack chair-warming engineers do. The result would be that the engineering profession as a whole, and all of the productive enterprises that depend on engineering excellence would be crippled with mediocrity and malaise.

Fortunately I am quite certain that the politicians in Washington, responding to the clear and complete understanding of the distinctions between air travel and engineering, would never dream of applying the same centralized government control over the wages and careers of engineers that I am advocating for airline corporations and their money grubbing employees. Yeah, just them ... and the doctors. Leave us engineers - and the lawyers - alone.

I'm glad to hear you're on board!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Well, I laughed -- and bet that the ThreeSources choir gave up some halleluiahs.

But airlines are a tough sector, and if cuz is already predilected to accept ObamaCare, I bet your plan sounds pretty good.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 7:10 PM

September 9, 2009

"Don't break things up in the name of progress..."

President Obama is scheduled to lecture congress this evening. First, let's watch Sgt. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon lecture him.

"Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe that they're somehow right and justified in stealing from somebody."

Circa 1950?

Oh, and Happy 09/09/09. (It doesn't deserve its own post, but just so's everyone knows we noticed...)

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2009

Republican Purity

My On a New Conservatism post elicited concern from JK that kicking the big government conservatives out of the Republican Party would be an electoral mistake. I think we've discussed that quite a bit around here with no consensus opinion, but consider this historic quote that Hayek placed at the very top of his 'Why I am Not a Conservative' essay:

"At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition." - Lord Acton

Is this not an accurate description of what happens when big government conservatives are running the party?

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:32 PM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

I'd like to offer a few quick points:

- Kasich is a good man. Palin is a good woman. Neither is a savior. The focus needs to be on the principle of limited government power and not on any particular individual.

- Grassroots involvement is important but remember to advocate for limited government first, particular candidates second.

- With all due respect to the "People's Front of Judea" I believe they are the ones with some decidin' to do: Resign to leaving their moral priorities in the private sphere where they belong or watch the Progressives/socialists run wild in the public sphere for lack of sufficient opposition.

- How is it possible to teach more Americans that they really are better off when government is less involved? An excellent start would be to teach more of them how many millions are in a trillion. (See the comments there.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2009 12:18 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Huzzah, everybody is right. It could only happen here at Three Sources. Let's purge the party, though being the simpleton that I am, I didn't get who exactly is going to be purged. The Three Sources hostility towards social conservatives and bible thumpers leads me to believe that we'll toss them under the bus, or as our friend JG suggests, perhaps they will leave their moral priorities in the private sphere and this won't be necessary. I'll bet that's what they'll do. Starting with Sarah Palin, they'll take abortion, gay issues and border security off of the table so we can all come together in a secular tsunami and wipe Progressive/socialists off of the playing field before they commence with any more of their wild rumpus.
But what if they don't... what if they decide they are not going to let any minority fringe of the Republican party tell them what to do and further more, what if they decide that minority fringe better check their morals at the door if they want to defeat Obama and the Democrats. Just asking.

Posted by: sugarchuck at July 21, 2009 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I almost get the feelin' that pointy headed guy in the suitcoat is makin' fun o' me... I can't speak for the vast confederacy of ThreeSourcers, but I'll happily identify my prospective purgees.

I remain the pragmatist and fusionist 'round these parts. I am happy to share a big successful political party with social conservatives. I think the animating idea of the party, however, needs to be "limited government/enumerated powers." Live and share the Ten Commandments. Donate a plaque or a poster to a school through your Lion's Club or church, I'm in.

But when you say, in a presidential debate, that you want to have the Federal Government purchase and distribute (and force to display?) them. I am not too far off in thinking you have misread your Madison.

Still not purgeworthy, though it does disqualify my support.

My only purge is what I hope to be a small group that uses social issues as a campaign tactic to get elected and then to promote more government. I think that Rep. Tom DeLay and Senator Trent Lott are examples of this breed. "Vote for me to stop gay marriage," they say. And then in office they do not champion any limits on government power.

I think those people are counter-productive because they undermine a robust and attractive message of limited government.

Once again, my appreciation of Governor Palin was her veto (first as guv, I b'lieve) of a bill proscribing benefits for same sex partners of Alaska state workers. Her belief in enumerated powers -- she felt it violated the AK Constitution -- superseded what I imagine to be her personal beliefs about a social issue.

I don't think we have a Palin purger in our midst. Now that bass player guy from Arkansaw...

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2009 2:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, yes and yes, jk. You said it well. I don't advocate purging any "folks" from the party, just the ideas that keep it from succeeding in the modern world. Some of those ideas cause electoral failure and some cause faulty governance. People can learn and grow and I fully believe they'll embrace the ideals of liberty with just a little help to recognize what they are. (Would immigration limits really be necessary without the welfare state?)

I'm still waiting for Keith to chime in on why, if, or how the ol' "moral majority" will play along as we suggest. Brother Keith, where art thou?

["Wild rumpus." Awesome!]

Posted by: johngalt at July 21, 2009 3:18 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I must take minor issue with JG on one point. That is, I subscribe to the Rosen philosophy that party trumps person. The ability of a party to control the legislative agenda via committee heads is an enormous advantage. Even when Republicans are on one of their "big" sprees, it's still smaller than any vision of the Dems. I will vote for almost any Republican before almost any Democrat.

Beyond that, it is as the grass roots level where you can influence the selection of the candidate. I can't remember which leftist dictator said, "I don't care who gets to vote as long as I get to pick the candidates," but it applies in a democracy as well.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 21, 2009 5:00 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Y'all are on the wrong track; no purging is necessary. It's only necessary to stand for what we know is right (even Huckabee has noted this), firmly resolutely, and let the weak-minded follow this newest (and very old) strong horse.

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 24, 2009 12:52 AM

July 19, 2009

On a New Conservatism

No, not "Neo-Conservatism."

Brother Russ sent me 'A growing disconnect?' by Frank Wilson, retired editor of books for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The author notes the surge in popularity of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and F.A. Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’ in the wake of last year’s election. Wilson also refers to Hayek’s 1960 essay ‘Why I Am Not a Conservative.’ Though many around here surely have, I'd never read it and I encourage everyone to do so. Wilson refers to Hayek's argument that "the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists" and draws this conclusion:

"Of course, Hayek uses liberal in its classic sense, referring to someone whose aim is "to free the process of spontaneous growth from the obstacles and encumbrances that human folly has erected." (John Galt couldn't have put it better.)"

While the American electorate clearly tired of the dominant form of conservatism over the past 8 years it's developing the same regard for progressivism at a far greater rate. The climate is nearly ripe for a resurgence of classic liberalism. That is what I lobbied for in 'Defending (and Counseling) Sarah Palin' where I wrote that "I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse." And it was the theme behind a comment on 'Ayn Rand's Revenge' where I said, "Defend capitalism and liberty in secular terms and watch the healthy growth of a new political movement: Americanism."

"Americanism" was my attempt at a modern name for classic liberalism. Hayek also thought it important to rename the movement that started in seventeenth century England and came to be known as the Whig Party, of which Lord Acton wrote "...the notion of a higher law above municipal codes, with which Whiggism began, is the supreme achievement of Englishmen and their bequest to the nation" and, Hayek adds, "to the world." The best he could come up with was "Old Whigs" but I don't see that gaining traction with the iPod generation, nor do I think a reincarnation of it would be more lasting than the original. But Hayek also explains that liberalism did not begin or even thrive exclusively in America - my patriotism was clearly showing. Nor is "republican" really the answer, as Hayek also explained that unlimited government, not democracy, is the enemy of freedom.

I continue to find liberty's best defense in the Constitution and its explicit limitations on government, to the extent that those limitations are observed. The U.S. Constitution with its liberal foundation best represents the ideals of Hayek and Rand as interpreted by James Madison. Ronald Reagan knew all of this and his efforts to limit governmental power suggest the renaming of George Orwell's novel '1984' to '2009'. But the Old Whig tradition needs more than what Reagan gave us if it is to succeed in practice for more than a generation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:30 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Awesome post, jg. Hayek's "Why I am Not a Conservative" is for me what John Galt's 42 page soliloquy is to you. I know it as the last chapter in his Magnum Opus, The Constitution Of Liberty.

I agree with every word in your post, yet I suspect you're laying a foundation for an assault on Frank Meyers's Fusionism and calling for a "more pure" political movement. I do not think "the marriage is over" to use Ryan Sager's phrase. I still believe that a coalition of those who appreciate the limited Constitutional government you advocate can be mobilized against a seemingly homogeneous polity seeking more government.

Apologies if I am starting an argument by agreeing; it is truly a great post: Hayek, Madison, Rand -- nice.

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2009 10:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for the props JK. It means a lot to me. I spent most of the day yesterday reading and integrating thoughts and writing this. I hope readers can take even a fraction of the positive outlook I found in this topic.

Also, don't overlook mentions of Reagan and Orwell!

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2009 1:05 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I toast your post as well, JG. Excellent treatise.

I don't share your optimism, however, that the body politic is quickly tiring of our Socialist drift. Like a drunk, we seem to take two steps left and only one step right. Nothing will change until we have a cataclysmic event, such as bankrupt Social Security.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 20, 2009 1:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I find optimism necessary to my mental health, br. In addition to bankrupt SS I can envision other events that might provoke a sea change in American politics and governance. Nobody has a crystal ball so it makes no sense trying to predict which will do the trick. Instead, I'll try to reassure you with, as I am wont to do, a Heinlein quote. "Don't ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events." (from Time Enough for Love)

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2009 1:51 PM

June 24, 2009

Stimulus spending elevator talk

Speaking of wealth, the subject of government stimulus came up in a conversation with my twenty-something sister-in-law:

"Does Keynsian economics say that government spending will stimulate the economy?"

Well, in effect it does because it claims all spending stimulates economic growth and that is music to the ears of a politician who will fall all over himself to outspend his opponents. But how is it supposed to do any good to inject a bunch of worthless paper currency into our economy? They borrow it or print it and then throw it out there but it doesn't actually have any intrinsic value. What has intrinsic value? Resources like agricultural products, mining products, oil and coal and nuclear fuel, or forest products.

"Wow, I've never looked at it that way," says my dear sis-in-law.

And while the government makes a big deal out of "stimulating" the economy with all of this ink-still-drying paper money what have they been doing for the past forty years with all those things that have real intrinsic value? They've been doing everything they can think of to control or outlaw their production and use! In a world like that what use is all of that paper money? Well, I guess paper money does have some intrinsic value. We can put it in our fireplaces and use it to heat our homes.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

And what happens to the value of that Coca Cola trademark when government imposes an arbitrary tax?

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 7:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

To jk:

"Government could tax Peter, buy from Paul and increase aggregate activity."

Actually, no. Remember your Bastiat: this comes at an equal cost to the private sector. So at best, there's never an increase in economic activity from government spending. "At best" assumes there's no disincentive to the private sector to maintain the same level of economic output; there generally is.

To both of you guys:

Paper money or even electronic money can work, but the problem with either is that the central monetary authority can always increase it. The problem isn't what the central bank uses; the problem is the central bank itself. Gold and silver have worked well for thousands of years, but even the Romans screwed that up by issuing coinage as gold alloys rather than pure metal.

Deflation is the only real concern of a commodity-backed currency, but it pales in comparison to the economic wrecks that central banks have given us over the last few centuries.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 11:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Bloody Romans!! Where's the Judean People's Front when you need them?

Perry, you attributed a quote of mine to jg that he'd rather not be associated with, so I took the unusual step of correcting it in your comment. I am not prepared to disavow the existence of a Keynesian multiplier. I'll join you and Monsieur Bastiat that it will not add to the aggregate wealth, but it could create activity, "stimulus" to a point.

Deflation "pales in comparison" to inflation? I cannot join you there either. I gladly trade a small (~2%) inflation to avoid deflation any day of the week.

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2009 11:42 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, and on the subject of intrinsic value. Nothing has intrinsic value, not even gold. Something has value only what someone (you or anyone else) places on it. This is a very important point in Austrian economics, known as the diamonds and water paradox, and it explains the absurd notion of the feds buying up "distressed assets" to give them minimum prices.

A grain of sand will have no intrinsic value to desert-dwelling Bedouins, but a bag will have significant value to a New Yorker trying to get some traction on his driveway.

A nugget of gold has great value to us, but to a hunter-gatherer constantly looking for food, its only use might be as a projectile hurled at an animal (giving it the equivalent value of a rock).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:18 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I am not prepared to disavow the existence of a Keynesian multiplier. I'll join you and Monsieur Bastiat that it will not add to the aggregate wealth, but it could create activity, "stimulus" to a point."

I'll try not to be too disappointed here, but you should always be ready to disavow anything Keynesian. Have you forgotten where the government's money comes from? By definition, there is always an equal loss to the private sector. If I'm taxed $1, like the shopkeeper in Bastiat's parable, that's $1 less I have to spend on other things. Aggregate economic output does not increase. Wealth, of course, does not increase and can even decrease.

The "multiplier" is a mythical construct of Keynesian in their worship of the state. Private spending has its own multiplier also. If you ever looked at what Keynesians argue, the fallacy begins with the term "marginal propensity to consume." It assumes that when you spend an additional dollar, the recipient of that additional dollar will spend, say, 90 cents and save 10 cents (a 90% "marginal propensity to consume"). The recipient of his additional 90 cents will spend 81 cents and save 9 cents, etc. Supposedly, according to Keynesians, government spending is superior because there's no saving at all.

This is not just a fallacy, but pure idiocy, because it focuses purely on consumption. Savings also result in economic growth. People borrow savings to spend, whether it's to start a new business or buy material goods. Hence what Bastiat said, "To save is to spend." So if I earn an additional $1 and spend only 50 cents, a shopkeeper only benefits from half, but my banker can loan out the other 50 cents to someone who will implicitly spend it. The lesson is Keynesians are so focused on increasing consumption that their efforts are like pushing on a string. You "stimulate" an economy by letting it work on its own, without any "stimulus" from government.

"Deflation "pales in comparison" to inflation? I cannot join you there either. I gladly trade a small (~2%) inflation to avoid deflation any day of the week."

Even 2% inflation is 2% too high. You save money one year, and it's worth less the next year. Meanwhile, your spendthrift neighbors borrow and live high on the hog, and they get to repay debts with deflated currency.

You'll never get that inflation anyway. It's impossible for central banks to calculate that, even with Friedman's idea of inflating the money supply according to population growth. You'll inevitably get varying degrees of inflation and the boom/bust cycles that are inevitable with central banking.

Between freedom over my body, mind and property (the latter includes currency) with a risk of deflation, and being a subject of the state with so-called "monetary stability," I choose the risks and dangers of freedom.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 25, 2009 12:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and the more pedestrian way I would state the same conclusion as Perry is this:

"There are zero limits to wealth creation imposed by natural resources." Instead, wealth creation is limited by government.

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2009 1:12 PM

May 6, 2009

This Socialism Stuff is Great!

A good friend of this blog (rhymes with violence-slew-wood) sends a link to a NYTimes magazine story by Russell Shorto.

The magazine length article is a thoughtful and well written look at the social model of Holland. I don't want to give away the ending, but Shorto is an ex-pat from the Keystone State who has gone native and enjoys the European safety net. My response is not well sructured -- it's a quick email to a friend with details to be sorted out over BBQ at The Old Man on 120th Avenue some day.

But I present the article and my weak response as a challenge. For all the benefits of First Principles and liberty, life in Europe can be pretty enthralling. It is not too well suited for digesting and responding when you're busy, but I think it will be important to "elevator talk" against this -- as this is clearly the model that our current majority political class has in mind. The best written response gets a free lunch at the Old Man. I said:

My first thought is to object on First Principles. Sure, people can be happy without being free, and people can have a certain level of prosperity for a certain time without being free. That may be fine for some. It strikes that all the happy folks quoted use an awful lot of government services. Me the writer, my friend the potter, he doesn't quote a childless hedge-fund manager who has to pay for everybody's schoolbooks.

But these people are more subjects than citizens. Who chooses what schoolbooks qualify for reimbursement? Which procedures or medications are offered at the hospital? Who can stay in public housing? Do you get kicked out for assault? Thievery? Insulting King Gustav V? Insulting Allah? I associate that with the torpor he feels. At the very least, it is not what I would choose -- and why must I let my Dutch countrymen choose for me?

I have been thinking about your aversion to "unfettered Capitalism." Watching some BBC costume drama about just-barely-post-Dickensian mills in the North of England. I was struck by the "abundance of poverty." One can look back on Scrooge and Rockefeller as a failure of wealth distribution, but it is really just the complete absence of enough wealth to go around.

Yet Rockefeller brought heat and light to the masses. And the WSJ Ed Page loves to point out that Scrooge's non-fictional counterparts brought capital to the Industrial Revolution. Economies got to walk before they can run and the wealth was generated in the US, UK -- and The Netherlands -- through liberalism.

I think the Dutch are stealing future wealth from the next generations. If the progressive era had kicked off 20 years earlier and handed Rockefeller's, Gould's, and Vanderbilt's money to less productive citizens, we would be much poorer today. By the same token, I imagine what we might have had today had the TR-Wilson-FDR-LBJ axis not succeeded. It is a form of intergenerational theft to take growth from our children to make ourselves cushy today.

Then bla, bla, bla, let's go to lunch, bla, bla, bla...


Posted by John Kranz at 3:21 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Terri's point on the military parallels one of mine on innovation. Europe's technology and health care systems benefit from innovative gains from the cowboy free markets of America. When we go socialist (which could be weeks now, it's not like it's imminent), there will be no free markets left to free ride in.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2009 5:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The linked "case for euro-socialism" is persuasive only to feeling and not to thinking readers.

Example: "The Dutch seem to be happier than we [Americans] are." This claim is based on a 2007 Unicef study (biased?) of the "well-being" of children and the preposterous assumption that "children's happiness [I thought it was a study of "well-being?"] is surely dependent on adult contentment." And this malarky comes just 7 paragraphs after the writer cites a line from "Myth of Sisyphus" to describe his impression of Dutch adults: "A man is talking on the telephone behind a glass partition; you cannot hear him, but you see his incomprehensible dumb show: you wonder why he is alive." For my part I would say he isn't alive.

The best case against emulating this example of citizens as "slaves to consensus and conformity" and "a cultural tendency not to stand out or excel" is this: Between comfortable socialism or risky capitalism, which system best encourages progress, innovation, prosperity? Is one more responsible for the modern "necessities" we all enjoy than is the other? Does aggregate productivity differ between the individuals under one system compared to the other? In times of natural hardship, which group would be more likely to starve? Ignoring popular stereotypes and comparing the two systems objectively, which would you consider to be "reactionary" and which would be "liberal?"

I've quipped before that 'socialism is for ants' and this favorable treatment of the Dutch system does little to refute the idea. But for 240 years Americans have not been ants - we have been men. Where the majority of us have taken Morpheus' red pill, the majority of Europeans chose blue. For the Dutch the social compact seems to be that they all agree not to try any harder than their fellow man. This is what really makes their mix of statism and individualism "work."

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2009 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I am glad you responded, jg. I'll confess one of the reasons that I posted this link was my belief that you would not be able to resist it.

I cannot say, however, that I am completely sated with your answer. I personally agree with every thing you say. Completely.

But the challenge was not to convince me. The challenge is to persuade the blue pill folk (I confess I have not seen the movie -- pardon if I mis-allude). One of the things you and I must accept in this argument is the appeal of European life and the comfort that Shorto describes.

I winced at the happiness study as well. You're right that that is totally specious. What is not is the general contentment of a typical European with his circumstance. The Obama supporter says "this time it won't be Lenin and Pol Pot. We're going to 'do it right.'" You and I say "Where? It cannot be 'done right.'" Now they say "Holland."

Boring argument. But if you don't value liberty qua liberty (and most do not) what do you lose to have health care for everybody, six weeks vacation, and subsidized school supplies? You say freedom I say half the rate of growth of GDP and double the unemployment.

I'm with you and liberty qua liberty. But a hundred people I know are still dissuaded. Even if I were poorer, they say, I would still be content and I would not have to worry about things and I would feel good knowing that the little kiddies were all getting their school supplies and health care.

A ThreeSources commenter once asked me on Facebook "Why in the world I would live in Boulder?" I'm a mile East of the County Line now, but in truth I will live in or near Blue counties as long as I live. I'm not trading Starbucks for Dunkin' Joe whatever the tax rate. Holland is an extrapolation. One I wouldn't make no matter how good the coffee. But one I find it harder and harder to contradict as a "thinking reader."

I feel peculiar to have harshed on something I agree with. As a peace offering, I truly thought your Twentieth Century Motors link was a superb response. Maybe this Cliff fellow who writes those notes gets the lunch.

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2009 7:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

YES! I knew there really was no such thing as a free lunch!

JK said, "The challenge is to persuade the blue pill folk." Yes, you really must see the movie. Once they choose the blue pill they no longer have any knowledge of the alternative they rejected. It's analogous to the story told by a "TEA Partier" of her neighbor who has actually "blocked" Fox News from his cable box - as though it were pornography or something. I like the way Rand put it: "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence cannot be swayed by it."

The "blue pill crowd" isn't really as big as it looks. It only seems that way if you watch television or read newspapers (or in your case, go to family reunions.) And before you can even begin to "reach" them you must first get them to admit that A is A (or that the real world exists with real consequences and is not merely a Platonic computer program playing out in our brains.) If that basic step is unachievable then you may as well just walk away.

Forget about "persuading" everyone. Instead, focus on the 70 percent of Americans who believe we're better off in a free market economy. Brooks (and PE and dagny) have it right: Ethical behavior is still popular; redistribution is immoral; individual freedom is the only standard of good that should be applied to governmental decisions.

What I tried to explain in my previous comment is that most Americans really do want to participate in the risk/reward game of life. These people only buy in to the government's 'social safety net' business out of abundance of compassion for others, not for whatever goodies it may pay out to themselves.

Finally, don't forget that the Starbucks closest to you is actually in Weld County, not Boulder.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2009 12:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay, that's really good -- I'd say you have earned lunch. I should perhaps get permission to share some of the email thread that ensued between me and Silence. I sent the Cliff's Note link and the Forbes article on the right to contract.

Our friend says [I am going to start paraphrasing without permission here, please direct any hostility at my providing devil's advocacy] he is becoming more socialistic as he gets older because his time in corporate America has shown that the best projects do not get funded, the best people do not get salary increases, the best products do not get to market. Much of my love of liberty is predicated on meritocracy. If -- as Taleb posits -- there is too much luck (or too many Black Swans) then the foundational logic crumbles.

Said friend is not immune to logic. We should go to The Old Man and see if we might reason with him.


Posted by: jk at May 8, 2009 4:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Socialism is inherently seductive, and its modern purveyors are better than ever at selling it. Caring, thoughtful, and even pro-competition people can easily be taken in by the promises of "social security and reasonable liberty kept in a careful, modern balance." But even the caring and thoughtful among us, and I do count myself in that category, owe it to ourselves and our posterity to recognize the fundamental flaw with socialism - the lack of an inherent controlling feedback mechanism. The only thing that can possibly preserve "balance" is bureaucratic control, and those animals will ALWAYS act to make themselves and their favorites "more equal than others."

The counter argument you made to free market capitalism is that socialism is an appropriate cure toward funding "the best" products or better compensating "the best" people. That it is somehow an antidote to corporate cronyism. But what is socialism except government cronyism?

The market for products and the less tightly-coupled market for corporate investment are not perfect, but they do impose a natural cause and effect relationship between merit and reward. Socialism, in contrast, offers only influence peddling as a mechanism for seeking and granting reward.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2009 1:34 PM

November 12, 2008

Why I am Concerned About the Future

I have received a few nice pieces of mail from Obama supporting relatives "HAHA! LOOOOSER!!!" No, no actually some nice things. The cartoons I shared, and a WaPo story of a black White House butler's pride that after 34 years employment an African-American will be moving in upstairs.

I don't want to rain on their parade, and I'll admit that a modicum of pride is called for. I'll even go all honeymoon and say that I appreciate President-elect Obama's character and intelligence. He seems a decent chap and I hope for the best.

BUT

But there is more to a President than how he or she makes us feel. I prefer a stodgy old, Federalist #10 version of the Executive that we haven't seen since President Coolidge and likely won't see again. But why can't I celebrate this historic election? I think Holman Jenkins captures it pretty well on the WSJ Ed Page.

You have in GM's Volt a perfect car of the Age of Obama -- or at least the Honeymoon of Obama, before the reality principle kicks in.

Even as GM teeters toward bankruptcy and wheedles for billions in public aid, its forthcoming plug-in hybrid continues to absorb a big chunk of the company's product development budget. This is a car that, by GM's own admission, won't make money. It's a car that can't possibly provide a buyer with value commensurate with the resources and labor needed to build it. It's a car that will be unsalable without multiple handouts from government.

The first subsidy has already been written into law, with a $7,500 tax handout for every buyer. Another subsidy is in the works, in the form of a mileage rating of 100 mpg -- allowing GM to make and sell that many more low-mileage SUVs under the cockamamie "fleet average" mileage rules.

Even so, the Volt will still lose money for GM, which expects to price the car at up to $40,000.


General Motors stock sits at a 60-something year low and the company begs Washington for help to avoid bankruptcy or liquidation. Yet the company banks most of its future on a car that will lose money, cost far more than a similar combustion vehicle, and present the user with a bunch of new problems from where to charge to handling stale gas if it is not used.

The Volt is very attractive and will generate a lot of buzz. But Jenkins is right that when the profit motive is completely discarded in favor of government subsidies, we are entering some scary places. The Volt will have to compete around the world with buyers who will not be getting paid $7,500 to buy an impractical car.

This is not where government belongs and I do not trust our 535 Automotive-engineers-in-chief to make the right decisions. Yet this is where we're headed with cars, energy, and heath care. I hope for the best and will give him every opportunity, but this is the wrong direction to take the country. So my pride is severely tempered.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jk, you're being far too charitable. There is NO WAY IN HELL that someone can be "decent" when advocating the raw theft of my property.

One of the biggest imbeciles I've ever had the misfortune of knowing, whom I've nicknamed the Mistress of Malapropisms, likes to use "decent" a lot. What she really means is "nice," which is a far lowel level than "decent."

It's been said, "One may smile and still be a villain." Even a tyrant can be "nice" to all but a select few. But for all his niceties and propriety, Obama can hardly be considered "decent."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 12, 2008 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

My dad used to caution me that you cannot look into a man's heart. We can make our guesses, but at the end of the day, if I attack President-elect Obama's motives, I both fall out of the path of empirical reason and look suspiciously like the lefties who attacked President Bush and VP Cheney on perceived character flaws.

I can empirically prove the incorrectness of his ideas (and I think Mister Jenkins has given me a good start). Yet I cannot prove that he does not seriously believe his bad ideas will help. So I will assume that he is just misguided.

Is he decent? I will assume, again, that he is not in politics for personal gain or graft. That's a good baseline of decency.

Lastly, I'm not at all sure he is "nice." You may be too generous, bro.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2008 4:44 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

We cannot look into a man's heart, but we can certainly judge a man by his actions. As the scripture says, "By their fruits shall ye know them." So there's no reason we can't attack Obama's motives. If his motives are evil, we have every moral justification in attacking his means, his desired ends, and his purpose.

It's easy to see who the nutcases are. They're the kind who brandish signs with Bush as a chimpanzee. Or Obama with Mao, Obama as Che -- except, wait a minute, those actually *fits* him. The caricatures that the left perpetrated against Bush were insults, but the "extremes" about Obama are in fact appropriate.

I'm sure Obama is a "nice guy" by most people's standards, and sincerely believes his ideas will help. But "decency" is more than that, and being "misguided" does not excuse committing crimes, no matter how "beneficial" the act may be for "the greatest number." Being "misguided" also does not make him unassailable from a character perspective. Moreover, we don't have to look in obscure annals of history to know that tyrants generally think they're doing the best thing.

If Obama is truly not in politics for graft or money, then I suppose his wife won't mind returning her salary increase that was funded by earmarks her husband obtained for her hospital. That's one of many things the McCain campaign could have seized on, but didn't.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 13, 2008 1:51 PM
But jk thinks:

By the same token, Perry, I don't want to get stuck defending the Pres-elect from your well grounded points. I just think that it degrades the dialog.

State-Senator, then Senator, then President Elect Obama entered a world full of graft through its sleazy Chicago office. I'm not celebrating his moral perfection or anything (and why, why why didn't the McCain campaign avoid that perfect example of earmarks that their candidate opposed?). I'll say that, were he out to optimize income, a slick, smart, high placed Hahvahd Law grad with an affirmative action hook could write his own ticket. I think he went into politics to feed his preternatural ego, not to get rich.

Of course, once there, the money kinds of finds you. He has not done a superhuman job of resisting it (cough, Rezko, cough!). But I don't think he went in for financial aggrandizement How many of the exclusive 535 could I say that about? But there I go again, peering into hearts...

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2008 2:28 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm not sure where my reply from the other day went, but I'll redo it here.

By the same token, Perry, I don't want to get stuck defending the Pres-elect from your well grounded points. I just think that it degrades the dialog.

Well I'd certainly hope you wouldn't defend him. There's nothing defensible about him or his policies. You can't even defend the "good" he wants to do, because the means are evil.

State-Senator, then Senator, then President Elect Obama entered a world full of graft through its sleazy Chicago office.

Add to that having a fundraiser party hosted by a domestic terrorist, and going to a dinner that toasted a Palestinian terrorist.

I think he went into politics to feed his preternatural ego, not to get rich.

We shouldn't forget the money, though. Once you retire from Congress, what a marvelous pension with health benefits for life! Even if you lose re-election, you have many lucrative years ahead of you, lobbying and speech-giving. Unless you pull a John Edwards, of course.

Of course, once there, the money kinds of finds you.

Which some people, myself included, would say means that a good person should avoid politics. There's a kid in my department who said that if he loses his job, he'd like to go into politics. The financial industry is contracting, and finding ANY replacement job in it, let alone one similar to now, will be hella hard.

I told him: "Don't. Even a good guy like you can lose his soul."

He has not done a superhuman job of resisting it (cough, Rezko, cough!). But I don't think he went in for financial aggrandizement How many of the exclusive 535 could I say that about? But there I go again, peering into hearts...

He didn't just resist it: he sought it directly. Wealth might not have been as important as fame, but money facilitated his rise to power, and surely he and his wife didn't mind that it facilitated a lavish lifestyle.

Don't be afraid to judge *righteously*.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 16, 2008 9:21 PM

January 7, 2008

On Prosperitarianism

The pursuit, defense, and propagation of liberty qua liberty is a superb endeavor. This blog is named for a Natan Sharansky quote that still gives me chills. Sharansky -- who faced evil -- said "During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."

I have long identified with "the libertarian wing" of the Republican Party -- more so after reading Ryan Sager's superb Elephant in the Room. That's me: a Mountain West fiscal conservative. I always stole Milton Friedman’s line "I'm a little-l libertarian and a big-R Republican." Hayek concludes his superb Constitution of Liberty with a chapter titled "Why I Am Not a Conservative." I agree with every word.

I’m comfortable calling myself a "classical liberal" but that means something to about eleven people.

Watching the Republican Candidate's Forum last night (poor man's group therapy), I finally realized what I am. I am a Prosperitarian. An innovation-slut. A growth whore. A political Paris Hilton who hopes the party never ends. Following "The Kudlow Creed" (I believe that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity), all my positions can be predicted by their effect on global economic growth.

I like law and order (it's good for business and property right protection), yet I argue on these pages for leniency for illegal immigrants. I'm the last guy to endorse a boycott. I support free trade with sometimes despotic regimes. I support the Iraq War and the war on terrorism because I believe in the importance of Deepak Lal's Liberal International Economic Orders (think Pax Americana).

Perhaps Rep. Ron Paul is correct that it is an abrogation of liberty to tax John Q. Citizen to fund the Iraqi liberation. In a strict view of American liberty (qua liberty again) it is a defensible position. I disagree because I see it as a gift to the region -- and a key component in the continuation of global growth.

Likewise, Paul has a point that the 100 year old man who has been putting 20s in an old sock for fifty years is hurt by Fed-induced inflation. Yet I think that supplying the liquidity to support growth and (less controversially) prevent deflationary shocks is more conducive to prosperity.

Being a Prosperitarian is less cool than being a libertarian (though I would consider us yet another faction of the already splintered nine per cent). It’s more fun to rail against The Patriot Act and FISA. This month’s Reason Magazine has a cartoon taking Walgreen's Drug Stores to task for its handling of the "morning after pill" called "The War on Reproduction." But I contend that growth, innovation, modernity and prosperity has brought more individual freedom to the world than a thousand ACLU suits.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Libertee, Prosperitee, Fraternitee.

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2008 12:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nice elevator talk JK. It calls for complementary Ayn Rand quotes:

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so on the conviction that you will be able to exchange it for the products of the effort of others. It is neither the moochers nor the looters who give value to money. Neither an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should really be gold, are a token of honor - your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on the moral principle that is the root of money." -Ayn Rand

This is the philosophical basis for free market capitalism. It is the irreplaceable fuel for innovation and growth.

And another:

"Run for your life from anyone who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another - their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of the gun." -Ayn Rand

This is the philosophical basis for the liberation of Iraq by the US armed forces and the US taxpayer. We are liberating them from the muzzles of many guns that they may deal with us, and we with them, using money instead. Ron Paul and those further to the left call it "protecting oil" but I call it "protecting our right to BUY oil."

As for the 100 year-old man collecting Greenbacks, whose fault is it he wasn't smart enough to squirrel away Euros instead?

Posted by: johngalt at January 7, 2008 3:50 PM
But jk thinks:

I was thinking that he could have shorted dollar denominated derivatives on margin and really raked it in. Or perhaps he could have simply invested his money in growing American businesses.

Other than that, thanks for the kind words

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2008 4:08 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

jg, it's his "fault" in the same way it would be my "fault" were I to be mugged while walking alone around, say, East New York at midnight. Yeah, it's not the smartest thing to do, and perhaps one should be more aware of the surroundings, but that still does not justify the crime.

Right now, the U.S. economy is just damned lucky that China (with Japan and South Korea to a lesser extent) wants to continue buying our Treasury securities. The dollar is losing value in the short-term, but Asians are betting on our long-term growth. By the time the Chinese will roll over one of our matured 30-years that they bought today, much of Europe will likely be deep into poor economic growth, stemming from its rapidly aging society. Japan has an even worse demographic problem, so it similarly puts its faith in American investments. But all that could change if the Fed makes things bad enough.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 7, 2008 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said, Perry. A Greenback should not be like a Foley's gift card, depreciating 3 percent per year if you choose not to trade with it for a while.

I was hoping my praise for the Euro would be enough to convince readers it was a joke. Maybe I need to take a more active approach to Euro-bashing first.

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2008 4:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Our European friends have their flaws in politics and personal hygiene, but their prowess at central-banking is pretty well established.

Now if you had said Canadian Loonies, I would have laughed (then cried).

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2008 6:39 PM

November 8, 2007

All The Things He Never Said About AG Spitzer

CNBC's Jim Cramer is sui generis. I highly recommend his book, I fondly remember the days when Kudlow & Company was Kudlow & Cramer, and I was glad to witness his success as his own show, "Mad Money" took off.

He's a heavy hitting fundraiser in the Democratic Party and was college buddies with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Kudlow & Cramer respected each other greatly, that was one of the best aspects of their show but the one thing that was beyond discussion was serious criticism of Spitzer.

In this video Cramer has some less than kind words for the current NYAG, Andrew Cuomo:



Hat-tip: Don Luskin, who says It's About Time

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM

July 29, 2007

Cocktail Party Question

A progressive brother-in-law encountered a conservative brother-in-law at a party (they are not related except through me). Prog asks Conz "If you could change one thing, enact one law to make things the way you wish they would be, what would you do?"

Conz answers Prog with a call for consumption based taxation. "That's a good one," thinks I. When the question is asked back, Prog tells Conz "I would investigate every provider of insurance: health, car, fire -- all of them are cheating us."

It's pretty easy for me to choose sides on that one, but it got me thinking of my response. Consumption tax may be the best answer. Education money following students and/or dismantling the teacher's unions would be up there (Prog is a teacher and proud union member, the time would have to be right for me to float that).

After all my bellyaching on Berkeley Square Blog and ThreeSources, I guess I'll have to choose the replacement of the FDA with private counterparts, based on the model of Underwriter's Laboratories, CSA, and VDE. Like the whiners at town hall meetings, that would affect me directly; that would be the difference between MS being cured in my lifetime or not.

It's Sunday, you're granted one legislative wish from jk's brother-in-law. What's your pleasure?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

First, I would grant myself unlimited legislative wishes.

Then I'd enact the FairTax, a plan for a consumption based tax. Your bro-in-law was right to suggest it.

Then I'd revoke my unlimited wishes.

It's a burden, all those abilities.

Posted by: AlexC at July 29, 2007 4:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Indeed. Plus then there'd be nothing to blog about.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2007 5:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Negative. We would need to document the mountain of successes.

The blogosphere would be a busy place.

Posted by: AlexC at July 29, 2007 11:47 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

I must defer to Hayek on this answer:

"I would enact a law that if Congress does anything for one American, it must do it for all Americans."

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at July 30, 2007 9:49 AM

November 11, 2006

How Do You Sound?

AlexC:jk:
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Northeast
Boston
The South
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
Boston
North Central
The South
Philadelphia
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
I've moved around enough to no longer ask for "a glass of wooder".... though "egg" never rhymed with "vague" in my vocabulary.

(tip to PhillyFuture)

UPDATE: Sorry to bust in on another's post but this is a particular interest of mine. Pretty impressive that the quiz seems to nail us both. Reckon it's my western accent, but I'd think "The Midlands" is somewhere in England.

Posted by AlexC at 11:29 PM | Comments (5)
But AlexC thinks:

I wonder if it would pick up the "Yinzer" Pittsburghese accent.

Posted by: AlexC at November 12, 2006 4:50 PM
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

I was born and raised in NYC, and moved to PA some 12 years ago.

In my career, I've spoken in front of hundreds of people from all parts of the country and world.

Whenever they asked if I had a 'New Yawk' accent, I simply replied 'People from New York City do not have an accent; EVERYONE else does!'

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at November 13, 2006 9:12 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Seen at the Wawa, advertising their bastardization of a Philly Cheesesteak:

"Jeet yet?"

THAT'S Philly for ya!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 13, 2006 9:09 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I haven't seen that yet, but the proper answer for "Jeet yet? is "No, Jew?"

Posted by: AlexC at November 16, 2006 1:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Our Brooklyn-raised Physics teacher taught us:
"Jeet?"
"Squeet!"

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2006 9:57 AM

April 9, 2006

Elevator Talk, Redux

You know the rules. You have a brief elevator ride to explain your politics to a total stranger. (A Denver elevator, Boulder's aren’t big enough and Philadelphia’s are too big.) The door is closing, go!

I believe in personal freedom and individual empowerment. Both of these flourish in a bottom-up structure rather than top-down, command-and-control.

Right wing economists have long embraced this, calling it free markets, Adam Smith's invisible hand, or Hayek's distributed decision-making. But I am now seeing heightened interest on the left. Craig's list founder Craig Newark calls it "community," and New Yorker Magazine writer James Surowecki has written "The Wisdom of Crowds." Little-l libertarian blogger and UT law school professor Glenn Reynolds has highlighted the underlying technological advances in his "An Army of Davids." All these converge to expose the benefits of empowering individuals to make decisions with the facts they know.

I understand the temptation of the left to seek government solutions. The Federal government especially has massive resources and could wire every home for Internet or make us all buy hybrids or buy us all health care. All these solutions create and require centralized command-and-control, managed by some government bureaucrat who may or may not be competent, may or may not think like I do, and may or may not have my best interests at heart. I'd rather trust the 300 million consumers to try, find, and select the best programs than to have bright, educated people in Denver, Washington DC, or Turtle Bay dictate the answer.

The world laboratory of history has proven we Hayekians right. What I call "Classical Liberalism" after Ludwig von Mises's 1927 book, Liberalism, has raised nations out of poverty, empowered their citizens, and created massive wealth and innovation. Command and control societies, based on Marxism have sent affluent nations into poverty; stripped their people of rights, empowerment and personal freedom; and killed more than 100 million in the brutal police states that these societies require.

To achieve these goals, I vote Republican. While GOP politicians have disappointed me many times, they have consistently shown themselves to be better stewards of classical liberalism than the Democrats. I remain devoted to ideas and not party. Should some realignment or new movement create a Democrat party that espouses my ideals, I will join them. In my adult life, however, I have seen few examples of Democratic superiority on personal freedom. I tell my friends that "Republicans promise more freedom and frequently disappoint; Democrats promise less freedom and frequently succeed.”

Ding!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM

March 23, 2006

Elevator Talk II

While we debate and massage the particulars of JK's elevator talk elsewhere, I'll drop mine right here.

Eventually I'll commit to memory the last paragraph from my bio on this blog. Until then, the elevator talk that expresses my legal, political and economic philosophy is simply,

"What part of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' don't you understand?"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:27 PM

Sustainability

In comments, I pointed out that while I tend to think of European economies as basket cases, the reality is that a Norwegian business person with a good position leads a good life. Social services are high, job security is guaranteed, the coffee is very good, the fjords look beautiful in the late spring... I look at demographic and economic trends and say "Yo, Jan, this is not gonna last!"

Yet another advantage of classic liberalism is sustainability. Ludwig von Mises noted this in his 1927 masterpiece, Liberalism, from which I proudly call my beliefs classical liberalism. Mises predicted the Second World War, fascism, communism AND their eventual defeat by free people. One wonders if he did as well on stock picks or the final four office pool.

Free markets are self correcting and the mechanisms for sustainability are all built in. Marxism has shown it can survive in limited amounts for a limited time, but it is not sustainable. Great Britain and the United States seem to be doing pretty well with classical liberalism, provided they can stay the course.

Discussing Britain's National Health Service (NHS) with a friend who was employed in the UK for three years, he blew my mind with a great line. He said "Americans would never tolerate the poor health care in the UK for a second; Britons would never tolerate our broken payment system."

I've thought about that for months (the sagacious friend surely forgot it in minutes). Was there some equivalence? Both systems are broken in a way. Yet it was clear to me that my wife's stroke would have killed her anywhere else but the US and that my MS treatment and diagnosis options would have been reduced under socialist health care.

The answer ("Mike, I've got a response to that thing you said five months ago!") is that in five years, the NHS will still, if I may use a medical term, suck. They will throw more money at it and technology will help a little, and they will reform it, but it will not be world class, befitting the stature of Great Britain.

In the US in five years, health care will still be expensive, but the procedures that are expensive today will be cheap. If Health Savings Accounts (A Hayekian-not-Marxist idea) are allowed and take hold, most health care will be cheaper. The classic liberal solution is self sustaining, the Marxist solution will require constant tinkering and additional resources to continue.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:39 AM | Comments (3)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

JK: As a fellow traveller along the MS path (doing the walk?), I am currently aware of only 2 countries where an individual with said curse has a snow-ball's chance: Israel and the US. Is it any wonder that both of these are also the top hated states in the world today? Socialism/Marxism where the welfare of the individual plays second fiddle to the welfare of state/society would never bother looking into the programs to treat myoptic issues regarding the brain. Why repair a broken cog when you can always harvest a new one from amongst the teeming throngs?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 23, 2006 10:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Great stuff JK. And it's a perfect opportunity to explain a natural analog that I've pondered during countless hours driving a tractor to harvest horse hay.

The great scourge of hay farmers is noxious weeds. Some weeds are not a problem, since they are somewhat palatable to horses and don't degrade the feed quality of the finished product, but others are truly undesirable. The most obnoxious weed I've dealt with in the past couple years is kosha. Kosha is not harmful, it's just a much lower quality feed plant than grasses are, and it doesn't bale well. (City slickers know kosha as "tumbleweed.")

Anyway, back to the point. There are two methods I've tried to keep kosha from growing in my fields - spraying and crowding out. Spraying has an immediate effect but there's so much of the weed that it takes a huge amount of herbicide to kill it completely. And even then, there will always be more seeds in the soil to start new plants that will have to be sprayed again. Sustaining this process is expensive in time and materials. The other approach involves planting grass seeds and irrigating the field to provide favorable conditions for the grass to grow in. Irrigated soil is a less favorable condition for the weeds than dry soil but more importantly, once the grass plants reach a few inches in height they block the sunlight from reaching the soil and simply out-COMPETE the weeds. Once the grass is established this NATURAL process SUSTAINS itself season after season.

To me, this is a perfect analogy for the competition between liberty and tyranny in human civilization. It takes hard work and foreknowledge of how things work to establish liberty in a world of tyranny but once you do it will naturally flourish and out-compete tyranny, as long as you continuously monitor the conditions and nurture it a little bit. Just as individual grass plants will thrive and prosper on their own to create a better pasture, individual humans who thrive and prosper make society better too.

Of course, humans are not plants. Humans have free will, and without a philosophy of individual rights and using force against others only in self-defense, some people choose to become human weeds. In those cases, rational free men are forced to resort to human weed control measures. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants."

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2006 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

jg, excellent analogy. Even this citified guy likes it.

mdmh, I had seen the MS stuff on your blog but didn’t know if it was you or a family member who had it. I am less likely than some peers to run down our crazy health care system and I have calmed down a bit these days, but my predilection toward the big pharma firms is so strong, people think I must be on the take. It is Arnold Kling’s “Folk Marxism” that makes people hate the societies wealthy enough to value individual life, as you say.

No walk for me, but I rode in the MS150 pledge bike rides for a few years before I was diagnosed, so I feel I have some Karma in the bank.

Heads up my friend. I know from your blog that you, like me, have found a lot of joy in important things like friends and family. This is still a wonderful world, as Pops told us many years ago.

Posted by: jk at March 24, 2006 8:39 PM

March 21, 2006

French Democracy

In my elevator talk, I purposely avoided the "mixed economies" of Europe. These economies, and increasingly Canada and the United States, do not disprove my claims about the efficacy of classical liberalism.

Michael Barone points out in "Hard America, Soft America" that the softer (more Marxlike) side of the US economy relies on the prosperity of Hard America to keep it afloat. Western Europe built prosperity through freedom, innovation, and a work ethic that valued achievement. The mixed economies are consuming those gains at different rates in different countries.

France makes the news today with riots as a response to allow more liberalism in hiring and firing of young workers. Three points can be taken away:

1) The ability of an entitled class to politically protect itself should never be underestimated;

2) The US with a more liberal economy, has the best job market for college grads in five years, while the French have double-digit unemployment;

3) The Wall Street Journal points out the lack of enlightenment in the cradle of enlightenment. There is no voter recourse there as we know it. Politics is settled in the street (Robespierre would be proud). With strikes and marches instead of ballots and campaigns. I now read that there is a counter-protest. I agree with the counter, but question the tactics. I also think about Jose Bove, the folk hero who trashes the French McDonalds franchises. Nobody elected him, yet he tells his countrymen what to eat.

The mixed economies assume that the healthy, Mises-Hayekian economies can tolerate a little Marxism. For a time they can. I grew up hearing how swell Sweden was. Then France. And, for a generation or two, they are pretty swell places to call home -- not that either has the economy to welcome a skilled immigrant. But a friend who sold into those markets reminds me that life is pretty good for the ones who are there and have a position.

I prove my point by claiming that the more Marxism shown by a mixed economy, the worse shape it is in; the more Hayek, the better the economy. A trend here?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:19 PM | Comments (5)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I suppose, if you go all the way to Marxism where everyone has a distasetful job ... it's not too bad. Of course spending my days scrubbing out a nuclear reactor chamber would certainly suck, but I would have a job, yes? Support that with a touch of Commercialism (selling nuclear fuel rods to other countries), then you have the cash flow to keep everyone happy with a loaf of bread every week.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 22, 2006 10:15 AM
But jk thinks:

History seems to have proven the opposite. Even in your scenario, you include some free-market exchange of arms and fissile material to prop it up.

My friend's point is that Norway, Sweden, or France has enough wealth from its old days and current economic activity to provide a very good lifestyle to those who already have a good job.

I decry sclerotic European socialism and, though he is sympathetic to my ideas, he reminds me that these countries have millions of happy people who are les productive than their American counterparts but don't mind a bit.

My next elevator talk will address sustainability; this is where these economies fail.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2006 10:38 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm going to have to work on my sarcasm. There has yet to be a (pure) socialst government that has actually stood the test of time. Once Castro dies and the borders open up, many of the intellecual/academia supporters here will have to remove that massive splinter from their eye.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 23, 2006 11:04 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Sarcasm noted mdmh, but it's critical to remember that in a Marxist system not EVERYONE has a distasteful job. Somebody gets to be the beer taster, or the movie director, or the president of the bank. And someone else gets to be the person who decides who gets these other jobs.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2006 3:40 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Look to the 24th Century.

There's no money in the world of Star Trek (see Movie #4), yet someone is the Captain, someone is the red shirt. Someone has to mine dilithium. Toilets probably still break. How do they decide?

It's obviously by potential. Not ability. But yes, you're right JK, "someone else" gets to decide who has potential.

Posted by: AlexC at March 23, 2006 10:16 PM

Elevator Talk

I am creating a new category for this and invite everybody to participate.

The phrase is a business cliche`. Your elevator talk is your answer to the question ":What does your company do?" It must be short and understandable enough to be shared on an elevator. I think our last company failed because we could never come up with the elevator talk, but that's another tale.

I have complained that my beliefs take long explanations and counter-intuitive understanding. But it is time for me to stop complaining and start writing. I want to craft an elevator speech for free market liberalism. When somebody gives me 2 minutes to explain where I stand, I am going to have a good pitch.

Here is my start. I am going to borrow heavily from Michael Strong and from the funny T-shirts at protestwarrior.com.

The classical liberal ideas of Ludwig von Mises and FA Hayek have been tried several times in the last couple of centuries. These ideas have led whole continents out of poverty and created powerful economic engines of free, happy, and prosperous people. The nations created on these ideas have not attacked or subjugated their neighbors and have generally been good members of the world community.

The economic ideas of Karl Marx have been tried several times in the 20th Century as well. It is estimated that no fewer than 100 million people have died at the hands of these brutal regimes. Rich lands have been sent to poverty and good people have been given up to misery. These nations have made war with neighbors and the amount of state control required to enforce what is clearly not human nature has bred incredibly cruel police states.

In short, I believe in the empowerment of the individual to direct his or her life, and a society structured to allow personal freedom. Even though these societies have a clearly better record, our political leaders face every new problem with the first question being: "Should we employ a Marxist solution here or a Hayekian one?" Though there is a clear winner, we seem to have to have the argument every time.

Is this your floor? Take it easy.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:16 AM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

No JK, we can't make society's good ANY kind of goal. You see such an outcome as endorsement of individual liberty, but your friends in Boulder's elevators see it as something they could do "better" through central planning. That's dagny's point - as soon as you stipulate that "society" has values you've lost your footing to them epistemologically.

As for the red Porsche: good NED man, you DO buy it because it's sexy! Certainly not for its fuel economy or ability to carry groceries. Your willingness to deny the real motives for such a car reveals something. Remember this... Red Porsche = badonkadonk.

http://www.threesources.com/archives/002275.html

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2006 11:05 AM
But jk thinks:

Wow. I knew we would hit disagreement but the impasse is overwhelming. I flat out reject your (and Dagny's) assertion that societal good is not a selling point -- nor even a valid goal.

First, it hits me as a pragmatist. There is a political resistance to classical liberalism. People think that I vote Republican because I believe "screw everybody else, as long as I've got mine." There are benefits to that philosophy, but it is a hard sell. Pointing out that allowing us to prosper as individuals allows us to prosper best as a society is a powerful point.

Secondly, you espouse a position not even I can join. Sorry, but when jk is too left-wing and collectivist for you, you perhaps have a problem.

There are a lot of people who will have a tougher time prospering in hard america than soft america or France. I don't yearn for a society that has nothing more to offer them than "you should have been stronger or smarter." The fact that I think freedom and individual empowerment best serves them in the end is not just a seals pitch, it is also something I require to fight the fight. If it's all for me, I am less interested. If that makes me an altruist, I'll burn my Ayn Rand books and accept my lot in life.

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2006 1:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nobody ever said it wasn't a valid goal, JK. But "societal" good is only an abstraction of widespread individual good. I really feel like a broken record here, but I think you're glossing over this important distinction.

For a change of pace, let's look at your example of the criticism of GOP voters supposed motivation of "screw everybody else, as long as I've got mine."

This missive is meant to impose guilt upon those to whom it's directed. Unless the gains you've made were the result of thievery you've got no cause to feel guilt. And yet you do, because "everybody else" has not made gains equal or greater than your own. Or at least, if you don't, your Boulder elevator friends do.

And why does a man feel this guilt? Because for all of his life and from virtually every source of influence on him, he was taught one absolute - selfishness is evil. I can absolutely understand your enthusiasm about this new-found argument in defense of liberty and capitalism, but I'm afraid it's destined to the same end as George H.W. Bush and Dagny Taggart's well-intentioned plans. "A million points of light" is just not that different philosophically from the "great society," and you can't persuade another by rational argument unless that person acknowledges the existence of reason.

Each of us has volunteered for a difficult assignment - to reform society into a halcyon of classical liberalism - albeit by different paths. I contend that my approach, if successful, will have the added quality of being sustainable. For once man accepts the premise that he is entitled to no claim upon the life of another, nor another upon his, he is forever released from the bonds of servitude to "society."
Until then we always have to have the argument: Marxist solution or Hayekian?

Posted by: johngalt at March 26, 2006 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Broken records, indeed. This post will fall off the page soon, and be swallowed in my SQL close-comments script in a couple days.

My record is stuck on the grove that you have to sell your beliefs to people. I don't bring up "screw everybody else" to shame anybody. I raise it as an example of a political pitch that won't sell. My elevator talk seeks a sales pitch.

Posted by: jk at March 27, 2006 10:12 AM
But dagny thinks:

If the only (or the best) sales pitch for classical liberalism is a description of how good it is for, "society," our nation, formed on the concept of individual rights, is in worse shape than I had hoped.

Additionally if you think that,

"a society that has nothing more to offer them than "you should have been stronger or smarter."

is in keeping with our philosophy, you have seriously misunderstood us.

Posted by: dagny at March 27, 2006 8:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I dysphemise your philosophy on purpose, Dagny. I know that's not how you feel but I worry that that is exactly how it is sometimes perceived by those who don't understand. I use sales and marketing analogies because that's who I am and that's what I am trying to accomplish. I'm trying to sell classical liberalism to people who don't know they want it yet.

Hope I didn't step on any toes, but I will confess that the Philosophy vs. Politics argument gets me down. I look back on a big week since this was posted. We had French rioters demanding socialism, a stunning new immigration bill came out of the Senate Intelligence Committee last night, I'm discussing FISA warrants with a couple intelligent people who dislike this administration, and we didn't even get to the man in Afghanistan who was prosecuted for religious beliefs.

At the same time, we've been discussing why I want the right things for the wrong reason. I know it's important to you but it seems so academic to me. If I could sell people on classical liberalism because it ended global warming and removed stubborn soap scum from shower doors (both of which it would), I would do it.

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2006 8:56 AM