April 25, 2018

Released Today!

Looking forward to Jonah's book:

(Also, the EconTalk appearance is awesome!)

Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:
"Democracy is about disagreement. It's about having arguments."

"The whole point of the enlightenment was this idea that you could persuade people."

But just before those sentences Jonah said,

"A bunch of friggin' Nazis" (...) "say that they want to get rid of people like me and people like you."

Is Jonah truly concerned that such a sentiment holds any persuasive power over a free people? Has he no better ideas to counter with, that he suggests such voices must be silenced, or at the very least denounced? That it the tactic of the tribal, socialist, left.

Jonah decries "winning" and "strength" without acknowledging the enforced socio-political and socio-economic changes that Trumpism [strong, forceful, Americanism] rose up in resistance to.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2018 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I had to go back and listen. Two points:

Uno: I enjoy this because of its cross-philosophical comity. The EconTalk podcast provides a richer view of teh book's thesis.

Dos: I think you're jettisoning context. Winning must be about ideas (~10:05), not just winning. The friggin' Nazis (~8:20) are actual self-proclaimed Nazis.

His employer's founder famously kicked the John Birchers out of the Conservative movement so that it could develop from teh fringe party that lost in '64 to win in a landslide twenty years later. If we elevate the Roy Moores, Joe Arpaios, and Steve Bannons, we lose not only the party but risk losing the Enlightenment.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2018 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actual self-proclaimed Nazis are the best kind, if not the only kind. They're also one of the most rightly-vilified groups on Earth. So why do so many find it so necessary to silence them? Let them speak, and instantly disqualify themselves from any serious consideration. No?

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., (United States v. Schwimmer, 1929).

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement." Woodrow Wilson, "That Quick Comradeship of Letters," address at the Institute of France, Paris (May 10, 1919); in Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd, eds., The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1927), vol. 5, p. 484.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2018 3:23 PM

April 24, 2018

Still Glad I'm not on the Left

Tyler Cowen appreciates free markets, but is quite far from being anyone's idea of "a right winger."

Prepare to feast on his "Holding Up a Mirror to the Intellectuals of the Left" to see the other guys get some serious -- and well deserved -- medicine.

I find that left-wing intellectuals complain more about the right wing than right-wing intellectuals complain about the left. This negative focus isn’t healthy for the viability of left-wing intellectual creativity.

Probably the two best "market failure" books this year were written by colleagues of mine, coming out of libertarian traditions: Bryan Caplan and Robin Hanson (with Kevin Simler, whose background I'm not as familiar with). In Hanson's case, the book was intermingled with influences from science fiction. The left continues to produce plenty of content on market failure, but rarely am I surprised by the material.

I see social media as leading to more left-wing than right-wing intellectual conformity. If only because many more intellectuals are on the left, it is a more significant phenomenon where leaders on the left announce talking points, or the villain of the day, and their followers pick up the charge.

Still pretty disappointed with much on the right, but there is "a remannt" keeping the flame alive.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2018

Get Your Geek On!

Good, clean, fun:

Hat-tip: Reason

Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2018

Eisenhower Republicanism

I've always been interested in "Eisenhower Republicanism." (That's why I get invited to all the cool parties and appear in the society page so frequently.)

A reliably-left Facebook friend posted this

I'm not going to go too deep with the poster (a kind ex-coworker whom I'm very unlikely to convert), but I wondered to what extent the party had changed and to what extent the meme-crafter was misrepresenting the platform.

The post includes a link, and the answer is "both." I encourage you to at least take a cursory look through the platform, it is interesting. In the shadow of the New Deal, I think ThreeSourcers would assent to:

We hold that the major world issue today is whether Government shall be the servant or the master of men. We hold that the Bill of Rights is the sacred foundation of personal liberty. That men are created equal needs no affirmation, but they must have equality of opportunity and protection of their civil rights under the law.

We hold that the strict division of powers and the primary responsibility of State and local governments must be maintained, and that the centralization of powers in the national Government leads to expansion of the mastery of our lives,

We hold that the protection of the freedom of men requires that budgets be balanced, waste in government eliminated, and taxes reduced.

In these and all other areas of proper Government concern, we pledge our best thought and whole energy to a continuation of our prized peace, prosperity and progress.

You tell 'em Republicans! G-O-P, G-O-P! Four More Years! We Like Ike!

The meme misrepresents, but does not lie. New Deal programs were popular and they could not oppose them:

The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.

It's a bit of a mixed bag, but all-in-all I could support it.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2017

Capitalism is Winning

Yesterday's "Tough Times for Liberals..." post segues to a NYT piece about "the GOPs contempt for democracy." Reading through with an "it's about time" mindset, I found it quite open and honest about the tension between property rights and democracy, if not fully complete. Author Will Wilkinson never addresses two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner, but he does give fair treatment to the moral philosophies of Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. And acknowledges Buckley's temporary strategy that "banished radical libertarians to the fringes of the conservative movement to mingle with the other unclubbables." But as Reagan predicted, libertarianism has finally triumphed and realized its first big win in the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" of 2017.

Consequently, Wilkinson performs some philosophical gymnastics to make protection of property rights an achievement of democracy, not of libertarianism.

It's easy to say that everyone ought to have certain rights. Democracy is how we come to get and protect them. Far from endangering property rights by facilitating redistribution, inclusive democratic institutions limit the "organized banditry" of the elite-dominated state by bringing everyone inside the charmed circle of legally enforced rights.

Democracy is fundamentally about protecting the middle and lower classes from redistribution by establishing the equality of basic rights that makes it possible for everyone to be a capitalist. Democracy doesn't strangle the golden goose of free enterprise through redistributive taxation; it fattens the goose by releasing the talent, ingenuity and effort of otherwise abused and exploited people.

Except for the fact that wealthy non-elites don't seem to be included in Wilkinson's "everyone" whose rights are protected, this sounds pretty good.

I hope readers can add to my interpretation. Most encouraging to me however, is the approbation he gives to the ideas of property rights and capitalism. We're making progress if a defender of liberal democracy wants any share of the credit for them.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:53 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The holiday spirit has truly infused my blog brother with the milk of human kindness. By all means, let us continue the interpretation.

Wilkinson describes the idea of some people keeping a bit of their money thusly:

At a time when America’s faith in democracy is flagging, the Republicans elected to treat the United States Senate, and the citizens it represents, with all the respect college guys accord public restrooms.

I read it as a defense, not of property rights, but of placing democratic, majoritarian guard rails on them.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2017 5:16 PM

November 29, 2017

Filthy, Stinking Rich People

John Stossel tries. I don't suspect it would work on my buddy:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2017

Quote of the post-Communist Century

The great Andy Kessler laments modifications to capitalism -- either in language or operation.

It never ends. In 2012, Britain's then-Prime Minister David Cameron talked about "socially responsible and genuinely popular capitalism" and blamed Labour for "turbo capitalism." Whole Foods CEO John Mackey touts "conscious capitalism." Postdocs in Che T-shirts whine about late capitalism over $6 soy lattes. China practices state-directed capitalism. The jury is still out.

After 100 years of Communism (and Deirdre McCloskey would add, 100,000 years of privation), real-live capitalism looks okay.
My advice? Drop the modifiers. There is only one type of capitalism that works, and it goes like this: Someone postpones consumption, invests his savings to produce a good or service, delights customers, generates profits, and then consumes and invests what's left in further production. These profits are pure, generated from price signals between buyers and sellers, without favoritism from experts or elites. It isn't hard to grasp.

Profit is the ultimate measure of value to consumers--and therefore to society. Consumers benefit from buying stuff, or else they would make it all themselves, and producers benefit from selling, or else business wouldn't be worth the effort. Of similar value, profits go both ways. "Experts" who poke their noses in only mess with this fine balance. And who needs central planning when there's the stock market, where theories melt and reality bites? Stock exchanges are the true consiglieres of capitalism, providing capital to ideas deemed worthy of it and starving the rest.

Preach it,, brother! Preach it!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds like Rand. And like her, the criticism will be, "That's an oversimplification. What about _________?" I think the best comeback is, "Simple enough to not be perverted into one of your camouflaged forms of collectivism. Keep your complicating modifiers to yourself."

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2017 8:29 PM

October 31, 2017

Cultural Rapprochement?

Finally, a mainstream journalist attempts to actually see the world through the eyes of a Trump voter. And he doesn't do half-bad!

From a Robert Leonard column in the Kansas City Star: [Robert Leonard is an anthropologist and hosts a public affairs program for KNIA/KRLS radio in Knoxville/Pella, Iowa.]

Doing my best to understand how my conservative friends might read Trump's speech, I read it again. Only this time, I contrasted Trump's messaging with how rural conservatives often view Democratic messaging. Here goes.

Trump began by saying we are a nation of believers and that "together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer." Democrats want prayer out of the public sphere.

Trump called the Las Vegas shooting a "horrific mass murder" and an "act of pure evil." Democrats blame the guns and want to take yours away.

Trump honored the heroes of Las Vegas, including the police officers and other first responders. Democrats elevate thugs and view our protectors in blue with disdain.

Trump quotes scripture. Democrats ridicule those who do.

Trump stresses unity. Democrats divide American society into victims and oppressors.

Trump says, "We love our country." Obama went on an international apology tour.

Trump says, "We cherish the sacred dignity of every human life." Democrats murder babies.

Trump says, "We believe in strong families." Democratic policies pull them apart.

Trump says, "We are proud of our history." Democrats tear down monuments.

Trump says, "We respect our great American flag." Democrats take a knee.

I could go on. There's much, much more in Trump's speech that's fodder for conservative thought.

So, big media, keep up the great writing, thoughtful analysis, logic and reasoning. And fact checking. But, remember here in Trumplandia, you won’t change any minds. The cultural fissure is too deep, and relates to fundamentally different worldviews with respect to freedom and the nature of man.

UPDATE: More Robert Leonard fun (in case you doubt his "mainstream" bona fides.

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

October 24, 2017

Must Listen EconTalk

Okay, I've cajoled and importuned. But I must actually insist that you listen to this week's EconTalk.

Jennifer Burns has written a historical biography of Ayn Rand. She tells Russ Roberts that "the Ayn Rand shelf" is full of people who worship her and who hate her; Burns thought a serious thinker deserved a serious book.

I dig that Roberts and Burns place her in the libertarian movement with Milton Friedman, Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard. I learned quite a bit of biography. But it is refreshing to hear an objective look. Acolytes and enemies may find much to disagree with, but it's EconTalk. And what I dig most is that ideas are explored in a spirit of fairness and understanding which is becoming all too rare.

I'll read or listen to anything of your choosing if you'll indulge...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:00 AM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

And I see the bright sunlight. According to this take, there was a Jeff Flake 1.0 and a Jeff Flake 2.0.

And as far as Bannon's impact, and the free trade idealism, the RedState writer concludes:

The recent GOP love affair with free-trade for the sake of free-trade is going to run hard aground on the mass of Americans who feel that their children will have a poorer lifestyle. If politicians like Flake can't make a cogent case as to why free-trade and essentially open-borders benefits their constituents, they are going to be cannon fodder in the coming primaries.

And it will be that conflict that beats them, not Steve Bannon.

Posted by: johngalt at October 25, 2017 1:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I admit that Flake did not bring the verve to the Senate that he had in the House. I have no idea why. The linked article's suggestion of a paucity of similar beliefs in the upper chamber has a whiff of truth.

One thing that has not changed was his devotion to trade and immigration -- there's no 1.0 and 2.0 there. The purge is coming, and those who choose prosperity over Xenophobia will be extirpated.

At which point I will leave. Colorado passed a referendum by plebiscite to allow independents to vote in primaries. I fought it tooth and nail, but think I will take advantage of it. I can leave the GOP and vote in a primary if any liberty candidates show up.

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2017 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I suggest there's a giant chasm between wanting free trade to be a two-way street and xenophobia, with an upper or lowercase "X". If and when such a vicious ideology ever does manifest in the party, I won't leave - I'll man the barricades to defeat it. But for now, the charge is scurrilous.

Posted by: johngalt at October 25, 2017 3:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot help but feel all of Red State's theses would have been forgiven if he were sufficiently tough on immigration.

Almost everything I am reading today celebrates his leaving. Your link opens "Count me as one of the folks who was glad to see Jeff Flake pack his sh** and get off the battlefield."

Just finished Jonah Goldberg's The Remnant Podcast with Sen. Ben Sasse. Jonah says "Now we'll get 'Chemtrails Kelli Ward' or it will flip blue."

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2017 4:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Chemtrails Kelli" Ward doesn't promote the chemtrails theory, she merely stood up for the right of those who do to speak. She's a physician, not a Scientologist. I looked for Chemtrails on her "Principles" page but apparently it's not important enough for her to mention. But name calling is nothing new in politics, so there you go.

As for her cakewalk to the nomination, Mr. "glad to see Jeff Flake pack his sh**" sees it differently:

If Flake had stayed in and lost the race to Kelli Ward, then possibly the victory could be attributed to Bannon, but even then there was a lot more at play. But Flake decided that even if he did beat Ward that he was not going to be able to turn out enough Republicans to support him in the general and, being a company man in Mitch McConnell’s company, he took one for the team. To me, this speaks to the weakness of Bannon because a ward heeler can turn out votes for anyone. We’ll see who jumps in the race now that Flake is not running and my suspicions are that Ward is going to find her support withers once she is not facing Jeff Flake and that she will not be the nominee.
Posted by: johngalt at October 26, 2017 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I watched a FOX News interview and she did disavow Chemtrails. The ex-pragmatist in me says "And Christine O'Donnell denied being a Witch."

She did NOT deny her devotion to immigration enforcement and used "America First" to describe her own policies. (I thought that was like "Browns Fan," that somebody might call you that but you never use it on yourself.)

Some folks were happy that Flake's leaving clears the way for a more mainstream GOP candidate, so that might be good.

Posted by: jk at October 26, 2017 3:57 PM

July 28, 2017

COEXIST! (Unless you think you're more oppressed than me)

What do you get when you award special status to a range of "victim" groups, such as women, racial minorities and religious minorities, and then convey additive special status for the "intersectionality" of multiples of these groups? European social psychologists have studied the situation and their published findings demonstrate something they call "competitive victimhood."

We propose that, in some societal circumstances, this competition bears on the recognition of past sufferings - rather than on their relative severity - fostering negative intergroup attitudes. Three studies are presented. (...) Overall, these studies provide evidence that struggle for victimhood recognition can foster intergroup conflict.

The paper was published in March but this week's Dailywire dot com article about it distills the essence:

The underpinnings of much the modern-day Oppression Olympics comes in the form of intersectionality, which argues that various forms of oppression against minority groups are interconnected. The intention was to create coalitions of people to understand where other people come from and how their experiences and their identity could help defeat The System. This creates various ghost-like figures, such as "The Patriarchy" or "the Zionists," who are responsible for the oppression of others. However, intersectionality has forced people of different backgrounds to compete as to who has been oppressed more and for others to get in line if their identity could possibly result in someone else's poor fortune.

At risk of oversimplification, allow me to try distilling it even further. Demanding special status and treatment, even to the point of actively discriminating against others, fosters resentment amongst others who earnestly play the same game. And what once were natural allies become distrustful and resentful of each other, while competing for the same spoils of alms. It's hard to see how this ends well for the SJWs.

To which I reply, "Intersect away."

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2017

Academic Malfeasance

Some of my heroes have spilled into a contretemps this week. I'm not sure how much currency this has attained outside the geeky internet circles I run in.

I'll borrow Jonah's setup -- it's a lot funnier than mine:

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid there's that great bit about the super-posse that chases the outlaws. They’re led by a legendary law man, Joe Lefors, and an Indian Scout (Lord Baltimore), who can follow horse tracks over rock and water.

I mention this because if I were Nancy MacLean, I'd much rather have Lefors and Lord Baltimore coming after me than to have Don Boudreaux, Steve Horwitz, Jonathan Adler, Russ Roberts, and the rest of the libertarian super posse on my ass.

If you're willing to dive into the deep-end, I suggest David Bernstein's frequently updated compilation in the WaPo's Volokh Conspiracy:

Duke University historian Nancy MacLean has published a new book, "Democracy in Chains," that is getting a great deal of favorable attention from progressive media outlets and is selling quite well online. The theme of the book is that Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan, a founder of public choice economics and a libertarian fellow-traveler, was the intellectual leader of a cabal ultimately supported by Charles Koch intent on replacing American democracy with an oligarchy based on constitutional protections for property rights.

It's on Oprah's Top 20 don't ya know? And yet, it seems fraught with egregious errors and misrepresentations. Hence, the frequent updates and today's mop up.

If you want to start at the beginning, Russ Roberts's opening salvo is a good choice. I go on about Roberts for many reasons, but the top is his fairness and equanimity. His defense of his (equally reasonable) colleague Tyler Cowen is the equivalent of a ThreeSources rant with all caps and barnyard vulgarities.

Of course I am not an unbiased reader of these issues. I was a fellow at the Mercatus Center for nine years. Tyler Cowen was my colleague. I've interviewed him many times for EconTalk and I've learned much from him. But I think the full quotes of Tyler Cowen make it clear that MacLean's portrait of at least this essay of his are not accurate. I hope Nancy MacLean, who is a chaired professor of history at Duke University, will concede that her characterization of Tyler Cowen's view of democracy is inaccurate or at least incomplete. She owes Cowen (and her readers) an apology.

Calm down, Russ -- go to your beach.

It seems a bit inside-baseballish, but I am glad to see a pointy-head at Duke shut down for reckless Kochs-are-coming-to-eat-your-babies scholarship. I am anxious to see how far it will go.

If I may borrow a Prof.Glenn Reynolds riff, just this one time:

For academic year 2015-2016, undergraduate tuition & fees at Duke University is $49,241. The undergraduate 2016-2017 estimated tuition & fees at Duke University is $51,510 . This cost is estimated by the school directly.-- CollegeCompare.com

UPDATE: David Bernstein piles on, specifically addressing false assertions in the book for which he has personal knowledge.

UPDATE II: Lawdy! Her Duke colleague Mike Munger has joined the posse.

It happens that Duke University's Department of Political Science is located on Duke's main campus, in Durham, N.C., and is listed in the phone book. Anyone at Duke who wanted to find it would have no difficulty doing so. Further, the department has important resources for any scholar with a serious interest in researching James Buchanan. The department has two past presidents of the Public Choice Society (Geoffrey Brennan and Michael Munger), and one current president (Georg Vanberg). We are not fringe members of the Duke community; I was chair of Political Science for ten years, Vanberg is the current chair, and Brennan was the long-time Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Geoff Brennan was the long-time associate of Buchanan, producing three major coauthored books, more than ten journal articles, and two major edited works that dealt with Buchanan's overall contributions to political science and philosophy.

In short, I would expect that a sophomore undergraduate who was writing a paper on Buchanan, even a one-off paper for a classroom assignment, would have recognized the value in consulting Brennan, at a minimum, and probably also Vanberg (who was a family friend of Buchanan since childhood). But neither Brennan nor Vanberg were ever consulted, nor even contacted, by MacLean. Nor, if it matters, was I.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

All of her critics seem to not understand that Ms. McLean could not possibly have consulted any of those scholarly experts. They have a critical disqualification. You see, each of them is male.

Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2017 2:49 PM

April 28, 2017

A Cruel "I Told you So"

I was harsh, way back in 2013, reviewing John Mackey's "Conscious Capitalism.

Yet at the end of the day, I see Conscious Capitalism as an out. Well, me missed our quarter, but the new Thursday all-day Yoga sessions are really going to help us connect with our feelings.
A couple of years ago, we saw a billboard for CareerBuilder.com at a bus shelter in New York City. The sign read, "If your company cared, it would be in the caring business." This is a sad but largely true statement; too many companies do not care and are not designed to care about anything other than their own prosperity.

Huh? What? With heavy heart, I apportion only 2.5 stars.

UPDATE: I'm being defensive before anybody even offers criticism, but I suggest John Allison performed the same task with philosophical purity. His [Unadjectived] Capitalism is no less empowering than Mackey's CC: workers are happy and management practices integrity. Yet Allison recognizes that capital is a scarce resource and proper allocation requires conventional scorekeeping.

Reading it today, I was surprised at the low score if not the tone, though I remembered why. Mackey's company has fallen on some seriously hard times. Their stock got a bounce this week on news that Albertson's might buy Whole Foods. Back in '13, Mackey no doubt expected to buy Albertson's and bring his holistic supply chain to the entire industry.

It's tough for me to kick somebody when they're down [insert Firefly reference here...], especially one who has tried to explain the virtues of capitalism to dirty hippies. But, as a wise and stunningly handsome fellow wrote four years ago, "If the book is 33% defense of Capitalism, it is undermined by the next 33%. This is 'Conscious' Capitalism. And like President George W. Bush's 'Compassionate' Conservatism, the modifier negates the noun."

Mackey has created a lot of value in a difficult industry. It's churlish to suggest his philosophy undermined his business. But it did. Whole Foods earned the sobriquet "Whole Paycheck" because its customers were expected to overpay for food to support the Conscious side of Mackey's Capitalism. And some remain.

But competitors found it easy to undercut their prices with similar offerings. I bristle at the Organic, GMO-free, All Natural, Super Healthy, YaddaYadda food offerings on Walmart* and King Soopers (Colorado's Kroeger). But they're adjusting to market demand. And since it is all bullshit anyway (oops, this post just became "a rant"), the big guys can do it at a much lower premium.

Sad. But kids, if you get your capitalism from Milton Friedman, and build a business that seeks to optimize asset value, you'll find yourself on much sounder footing.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2017

Molto bene

This has been a pretty big deal in Colorado for a long time. Denver has long held a Columbus Day parade, and the activist Russell Means and his ilk have had decent success shutting it down.

In the last weeks of the legislature, the really really important bills all come out:


Okay, the Democrats can show their sensitivity and raise some funds. Advancing Colorado can show their devotion to tradition. And raise some funds. I get it. Have fun storming the castle kids!

I know several people for whom this is important. I'm a bit of a squish but there are two principles here. For the State of Colorado or the United States of America to recognize a holiday for old Chris is wrong. We are not our geography, we are our ideas and ideals. France is her geography. Lovely though the French countryside be, what we call American Exceptionalism is about the dissevering of a nation from its geography and race.

Ergo, bollocks on a holiday for a fifteenth century sailor. Let's have one for John Locke instead.

But. The Italian-American community of Colorado is quite proud. And -- outside of an American College campus, or the State of California -- we have rights to speech and assembly. It cheeses me off deeply that indigenous people's advocates and progressives in general use violence and intimidation to shut down the parade. We let Illinois Nazis march in Skokie, good people, we can let Colorado's Italians have a parade.

The final score: no to gub'mint sponsorship, yes to free speech and assembly, capisce?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2017


The political bogeyman du jour is called "alt-right." Supposedly it is an uber nationalist and racist movement that propelled Donald Trump to his otherwise "inexplicable" victory in the presidential election. But what about the left? On the other side of the political divide, says VDH, the alt has become the majority.

What are its tenets other than the obvious of addressing man-caused climate change by radically restructuring the American economy, favoring a lead-from-behind stature abroad, and seeing "you didn't build that" capitalism as parasitic rather than nourishing of American democracy?

Its overarching ideology seems to be a filtered version of campus postmodernism. Therefore the "truth" is simply a pastiche of "stories" or "narratives." They can gain credence if those with power and influence "privilege" them, in efforts to enhance their own status and clout. "My story" is just as viable as "the truth," a construct that does not exist in the abstract.

So we can see why attacks on the left's "unreason" or "hypocrisy" are powerless. Their morality has nothing whatsoever to do with reason or consistency. Reality has little standing in the world of the new left, thus explaining how its adherents can support LGBT and Islam at the same time, often in the same breath.

Read the whole thing. It's a very enlightening description of the modern American Democratic party, and how the real "alt-left" consists of enfeebled voices like those of James Webb or Joe Manchin.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2017

Otequay of the Ayday

The Free Speech Movement, led by a fiery Italian-American, Mario Savio, erupted at the University of California at Berkeley in 1964, the year I entered college. It was a cardinal moment for my generation. The anti-establishment stance of the Free Speech Movement represented the authentic populist revolution of the 1960s, which resisted encroachments of authority by a repressive elite. How is it possible that today's academic Left has supported rather than protested campus speech codes as well as the grotesque surveillance and over-regulation of student life? American colleges have abandoned their educational mission and become government colonies, ruled by officious bureaucrats enforcing federal dictates. This despotic imperialism has no place in a modern democracy. An enlightened feminism, animated by a courageous code of personal responsibility, can only be built upon a wary alliance of strong women and strong men.

-Camile Paglia in 'Women Aren't Free Until Speech Is'

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:53 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Loves me some Camille Paglia

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 3:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Me too. I'll check out the Tyler Cowen interview soon. Meanwhile, if you click through my link and read her short piece on free speech you'll find this other notable quote:

"We are plunged once again into an ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of the group.

The premier principles of my new book, Free Women, Free Men, are free thought and free speech—open, mobile, and unconstrained by either liberal or conservative ideology."

My mental working title for the post was "Camile Paglia - Objectivist." An obvious overgeneralization, but the parallel to Rand's two "mystics" are inescapable: Conservative ideology being the Mystics of Spirit and liberal ideology being the Mystics of Muscle.

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2017 4:55 PM
But jk thinks:

An Objectivist Theology Professor. I can sell that.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2017 6:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh™: Insty links to the same piece with the comment "I mean, if women were free, who would listen to feminists?"

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2017 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Theology professor? Paglia? non! Art and literature.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2017 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Corrected I stand. I misremembered that false factoid from her dust-up with the Dawkins-Hitchens wing.

Posted by: jk at March 27, 2017 9:54 AM

February 27, 2017

Really understanding the left

I told one of my lefty buddies on Facebook that "I think we should start yelling at other people." I had grown frustrated with what I saw as an unwillingness to truly consider other points of view. We're still "friends;" I have never met him and we are FBFs only for politics. He did surprise me with a fulsome appreciation for the documentary "Poverty Inc." which I have long praised. We also share an affinity for the Karl Popper page and all the pro-GMO and anti-anti-Vax sites.

But you didn't come here for that. I post because he shared something that all ThreeSourcers will hate, but should read anyway. "Eat your peas" as a former president would say..."

The Simplest and Most Perfect Explanation of Privilege I've Ever Seen

It's a cartoon! You won't have to hate it for long (I shouldn't presume at all...) The non-cartoon form is the Rawlsian veil of ignorance: if you did not know where on the caste system you would land, you'd naturally want the most equal society.

I think that aspect is legitimate. There is an extension of it best shown in Kurt Vonnegut's book "God Bless You Mister Rosewater." In that book, one's status is completely random. There is a money river and people born near it have all the money they want; people born inland suffer privation. This is my lefty brother's favorite Vonnegut book. And it is through my brother I met my interesting but maddening social media interlocutor.

I posit that it is vital to understand this to understand the left. You can -- and I would -- argue that mobility is extant and important. But this is a large part of the differences I see.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Privilege... AAAAAGH! A modern political term for the premise that everyone should be protected from risk and want, REGARDLESS OF HIS LIFE CHOICES. Or, those of his parents or grandparents or anyone else who RIGHTLY bears any responsibility for his situation.

Now that I've got that off my chest. I mentioned that we've read the first half or so of Brook and Watkins' 'Equal is Unfair.' The single most important takeaway for me, so far, is its objective identification of moral and immoral forms of equality. In short:

Equality of outcome
Equality of opportunity

Equality under law

If either of the first two are your moral objective then any inheritance tax less than 100 percent is too low. And that's just the beginning of your misguided crusade to impede prosperity at all costs.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2017 3:45 PM
But jk thinks:

On the other hand, my prediction of "you'll hate it" is looking pretty good.

I'll counter your review with a re-hash of Hillbilly Elegy and preview the upcoming "Boys in the Boat" (I'm two books' behind in reviewing). There is a third equality, and that is one's starting point. It is uplifting to see someone built into difficult circumstance overcome; President Reagan remains a favorite example.

But to take a person with an absent or abusive parent and difficult financial circumstance and compare them to say, President George W. Bush, while we're being presidential, I purport there is a legitimate subtext to detractors' "He was born on third base and thought he'd hit a triple."

No? None?

Posted by: jk at February 27, 2017 5:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A fair judgment, but not a license to send him back to first base.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2017 7:37 PM

February 14, 2017

Purpose of Government

What great balance of friends I have. I should be a pollster!

Not for the first time, a popular viral entity comes up on my Facebook feed multiple times. With apologies to Marx, they appear first as farce with my right-wing buddies' ridicule -- then as tragedy with my lefty friends' approbation.

Today's is noteworthy to anyone who has pondered the proper size, scope, and power of government.


Perhaps they're right. But the Democrats I know see this as paradise, and the liberty lovers (myself included) as a grim dystopia. The most popular solar cars would be the "Huxleys."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

No, the proper retort is:
They've been trying to fix elections, they're just no better at it than they are at fixing dams.


Posted by: nanobrewer at February 15, 2017 12:42 AM

January 27, 2017

The One Absolute of Postmodern Relativism

There is so much to say about this fascinating article, and so much of it requires even more thought than I've given it already. So for now, I'll just make this a de-facto Quote of the Day and suggest that everyone read the full article and its detailed explanation of how candidate Trump turned the criticisms of him back upon his accusers, and even seemed to willingly and repeatedly step into politically-incorrect messes, only to emerge from the other side stronger and more resolute.

Donald Trump is the First President to Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump's victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they'd bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps.

None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump's enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn't winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:15 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, the relativists still. don't. get it.

Tom Brady’s Politics Are More Un-American Than Colin Kaepernick’s Have Ever Been

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2017 4:50 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Their bubble is sooo thick, and coated with so much patchouli oil and rainbow flags that they are having trouble finding their way out.

The article (what I had time to read) time & time again brought up Nazi Germany themed items but never said what and how Brady embraced any of them. Guilt by association, pure and simple. One commenter even pointed this out: it was a friendship, started before politics and presumably above politics, with the comment citing some public statements about how he didn't agree with everything. He didn't get far....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 28, 2017 9:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Doesn't the ThreeSources Style Guide suggest a warning when linking to HuffPo?

Brady's obliviousness reeks of white privilege and dismissiveness; a #MAGA trait if there ever was one. But what's most troubling is the way Brady’s Trump endorsement has been treated compared to Kaepernick's political statements.

Kaepernick, Kaepernick . . . wasn't that the second string quarterback of some 1-11 team? The name rings a bell.

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2017 12:36 PM

December 23, 2016

Discover Freedom - Younger!

Thanks to KHOW's Ross Kaminsky I have discovered these fantastic children's books, designed to explain the principles of individual liberty to children when it counts - before they've been fully indoctrinated in altruism and socialism and big government nannyism.

Check it out:

The Tuttle Twins - a child's foundation of freedom

A fantastic deal. A bit late for Christmas, but a good activity for after the Christmas excitement wears off.

P.S. Be sure to add a few sharable copies of Bastiat's 'The Law' for a buck each before you check out.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

I bookmarked them as well; be friending it on FB if I can get done with pre-Xmas bugga...

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 23, 2016 11:50 PM

December 5, 2016

I Can't Tell You How Disturbing an Idea that is

Do you get tired of my constant appeals to listen to Russ Roberts's EconTalk?


Seriously, you must find time to listen to this. His guest is Thomas Leonard, discussing his book "Illiberal Reformers." One is reminded of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism [Partial Review Corner] in that he exposes the startling racism and misanthropy of the Progressive movement. The Headline is a quote by Russ Roberts (~51:00), after reading a Woodrow Wilson quote.

So funny that we microscopically parse modern words and judge 18th Century founders to expose racism. But these truly disturbing comments by a US President "50 years after Appomattox" as Roberts notes, are stunning.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2016

War on Science

John Tierney -- as in New York Times's John Tierney -- has an incredible column in City Journal: "The Real War on Science." Spoiler Alert: it ain't the eeevil Republicans.

My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don't devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It's fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren't you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives' threat to science?

My friends don't like my answer: because there isn't much to write about. Conservatives just don't have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the "party of science." But I've done my homework. I've read the Left's indictments, including Chris Mooneys bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties?

Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced? Yes, the book reveals that Republican creationists exist, but they don't affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution.

Conversely, the left's retrograde antics destroy careers, terminate funding, and -- oh yeah -- kill people.
Mooney's brief acknowledgment that leftists "here and there" have been guilty of "science abuse." First, there's the Left's opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there's the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there's the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.

This is a City Journal piece, so clear a bit of time and get some coffee, but do please read the whole thing.

If you want a taste, read my Hat-Tip: Ronald Bailey: Liberals Don't Really F***ing Love Science

Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Love it! Another excellent entry in the blog's "Junk Science" category.

It reminds me of this one.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2016 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Hey, that is a nice one. And good tip, I did add this to "Junk Science."

I think Tierney, being science writer at the Times has some good cred -- though many are probably annoyed with his appearances on Penn & Teller BS. I also dig the explicit references to liberty and control.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2016 4:18 PM

November 15, 2016

It's a Mean Old World

It's the title of a great blues song, but it is also true: It's a Mean Old World.

I'm a (rational) optimist but no Mr. Buckley, we have not "immanentized the eschaton;" man remains imperfect.

I cannot and will not defend a single hate crime. They are tragic for the victim, the perpetrator, and society at large. But I will point out statistics and beg my fellow men, women, and other genders to practice sound risk analysis.

An AP story in the Denver Post leads with a startling statistic:

Hate crimes against Muslims up by 67 percent in 2015, according to FBI

ATLANTA -- Reported hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest levels since those seen in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, according to FBI statistics released Monday.

Tragic. But can we look over the rest of the story? Yes, what we want will be near the bottom:
In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents the prior year, an increase of 67 percent. The total is second only to the surge in hate crimes following the 9/11 terror attacks, when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported in 2001.

I want to tread lightly here. I am making a mathematical comparison and not a moral one. If 1000 people a day die with bee stings or drown in the bathtub, a single hate crime is still a tragedy, But the CDC says ten drown in non-boating accidents every day. So, you are far more than ten times likely to drown in the bathtub and die than have some ignorant buffoon call you a name.

And, because the numbers are so thankfully small, a 67% rise is pretty meaningless. Some reports are false, many are not reported. These stats are not accurate enough to draw trends from.

But I would draw one trend:

Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year, and religious-based hate crimes increased by 23 percent. Jews and Jewish institutions remain the most frequent target of religious-based hate crimes, representing 53 percent of all those reported. Crimes against Jews increased about 9 percent.

Huh? What was that? Fifty-three percent of religious based are against Jews? The "epidemic" of Islamophobia that warrants a breathless Denver Post headline is 4.3% of the reported hate crimes?

It does not seem like we are focused on the correct problems.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:20 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

3srcs ombudsman here - Your "more than ten times likely to drown in the bathtub" comparison assumes that 100 percent of the population is Muslim. Ten drownings per day over the entire population may be more rare than one anti-Muslim hate crime per day in the U.S. directed toward an actual Muslim.

But going back in the other direction, is calling someone a name really a "hate crime?" What is that called, exactly... hating the First Amendment?

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2016 5:36 PM

October 21, 2016

The Jacket and The Hat

Great 45 Minutes if you can find it. Camus, Ayn Rand, trade protectionism...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Found a few minutes on international trade around 24:00. They're discussing the principle of international free trade, and the obvious failings of tariffs. Do they really believe that our trading partners are as honest as we are? Who knows, maybe we're not as honest as I'm led to believe either. Point is, it's not as simple as "trade agreements good/trade without agreements bad." Trade agreements seek to prevent minor disputes from mushrooming into trade wars. But if the deal benefits the mobile owners of capital and harms American workers, is it still a "net increase for everybody?"

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought him pretty moderate on trade -- I am not claiming he supports my side.

I think he did reduce it to a fundamental question: do we cater policy toward people who make Fords or who buy Fords? There are more of the latter, so we made that decision and ("you're not going to be able to put that shit back in the goose.") I think he said that -- I like this guy more every time I hear him.

One could make an argument that it is better to serve the Ford workers. I would not, but I would sit still as best as I could.

The question becomes: do you believe in comparative advantage and trade gains from specialization at all? We were talking about foundations of prosperity and I say that is what brought us from flinging dung to iPhones.

If we're going to bail out Ford workers, we have to allow everyone who wants to make something here to be protected from foreign competition. No iPhones, expensive cars and goodnight to the Golden age of guitars.

If our partners are foolish enough to subsidize our purchases at low prices, then I suggest a Christmas Card or a fruit basket. "Goddam Chinese aren't charging us enough for those nice mandolins -- there oughtta be a law!"

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2016 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A sidebar, just to check a premise:

Is it "a net increase for everybody" when [Big_Box_Retailer] builds a store in a small town and sells things below cost until all the mom and pop shops are driven out of business, and then raises prices when they are the only game left in town?

The answer to that question informs my next one:

Is it a "net increase for everybody in country A" when country C dumps labor intensive goods on the market until country A stops competing?

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2016 6:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Hmm, ThreeSources became "OccupyDemocrats" so quickly I barely noticed...

I think that is a myth. If it were to happen, I think it might be a net good in that the townspeople expressed their preferences and left the door open for another retailer to take their business.

I find both of your premises very zero-sum. The whole town does not shutter its doors, the whole country does not stop manufacturing. Some business will be unable to compete, others will do better because their customers are saving on commodities.

Likewise, some low value added manufacturers will not compete. Others will excel by having diverse opportunities to purchase subcomponents. For all the hue and cry, is not American automotive manufacturing doing well if one includes non-Detroit/non-union plants down South?

Like the small town with the Walmart*, Americans will be able to buy more Fords if they're saving on Microwaves and TVs.

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2016 7:05 PM

August 25, 2016

Pinch Me - Anti-PC pushback, on a college campus?

I really did believe I would live to see this day, I just didn't expect it to happen before the zombie apocalypse.

A letter to incoming freshmen at the University of Chicago cites a report on freedom of expression that it issued in January of 2015 in support of its new policy against "safe spaces."

The report quotes a former president of the University, Hanna Holborn Gray, as saying that "education should not be intended to make people comfortable, it is meant to make them think.

"Universities should be expected to provide the conditions within which hard thought, and therefore strong disagreement, independent judgment, and the questioning of stubborn assumptions can flourish in an environment of the greatest freedom," she stated.

Let's hope it's contagious.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:42 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The WSJ Ed Page is on it as well.

For a change, we come not to bury a college president but to praise him. His name is Robert Zimmer, and nearby the University of Chicago president defends the educational and societal virtues of free speech on college campuses. Let's hope he wears body armor to the next faculty meeting.

Mr. Zimmer's public coming out is all the more notable because it appears to be part of a university-wide message. The school's dean of students, Jay Ellison, has written a letter to incoming freshmen noting that the desire for "safe spaces" from discomfiting speech or ideas will not override the academic community's interest in rigorous debate.

Must be something in that water fountain that Freidman and Hayek used.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2016 10:15 AM

July 30, 2016

Why do they say "Yes We Can?"

Because without help from others, they can't achieve their goals. Worse yet - they vilify those who can achieve their goals individually, whether it be from superior talent and ambition or merely, different goals. But when one's goal is turning history's greatest republic into a socialist democracy, that's a goal for an "us" rather than a "me."

Slate's William Saletan has drilled down on this distinction - I vs. we; Trump vs. Clinton - and finds Hillary's "togetherness" more to his liking:

The "we" approach suits Clinton's personality. It reflects what she learned from her mother's childhood - that "no one gets through life alone" - and the philosophy of good works Clinton was taught in church. It echoes the message of her book, It Takes a Village, and her collaborations with Republicans on legislation to promote adoption and health insurance. Clinton wants global progress toward controlling climate change. No leader can do that alone.

The "I" approach, conversely, captures what's wrong with Trump. He's a natural antagonist, picking fights with Sen. John McCain, Gov. John Kasich, Megyn Kelly, and others who don't please him. He uses race, ethnicity, and religion to smear people who get in his way. In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Trump ditched investors and contractors to whom he owed money. "Donald Trump has a passion," Kaine observed in his speech to the Democratic convention on Wednesday. "It's himself."

“We” is also the word that socialists use to justify all manner of abuses, principally against earners and producers. It is the way they promote their ideal – equality – at the expense of the American ideal – liberty.

But readers of Ayn Rand’s ‘Anthem’ know that nothing happens without the individual. And one individual meets other individuals. They cooperate. They trade. They fall in love. They say “I love you” not “we love the unspecified.” They enter into trade agreements. And when those agreements are no longer beneficial to them, they are free to withdraw from them and enter new ones. Who ever said NAFTA must be immortal?

I agree with Saleton that “The fundamental choice in this election is between Trump’s “I” and Hillary’s “We.” Saletan says “She’s with us.” Trump says, “I am your voice.” He chooses her, and I choose to have a leader speak for me, not tell me what’s best for me. “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:11 PM | Comments (1)
But carolinmd thinks:

I believe Hillary's use of we is only the engine she uses to achieve the very real "I" of her true purposes...I doubt her sincerity for as a serious student of Saul Alinsky, the author of Rules for Radicals", who was her mentor in college, she has perfected the ways and means to use deception to her advantage. And if she is elected, she will finish what Obama has started as they have a common goal..

Posted by: carolinmd at July 31, 2016 12:18 AM

July 23, 2016

Is Trump a "Right-Liberal?"

And if so, why don't jk and dagny admire him?


I'm so perplexed by my relative willingness to rally on the "Trump Train" and so many of my friends and relatives unwillingness, I went back to the Political Coordinates Test for possible clues.

I don't know where Donald Trump would fall on the Political Coordinates graph but I would expect it to be "right-liberal." Not as right, and perhaps more liberal, than the ThreeSourcers in that quadrant, but this is admittedly a guess. Interestingly, Trump is positioning as the "law and order candidate." That is a strongly communitarian sentiment, but I doubt that is what turns off jk or dagny, or cements his appeal to jg's dad. It does appeal to moi, jg, however, despite my scoring as a "liberal" and not a communitarian.

I'll not overreach here and attempt too many conclusions. I just thought this line of examination might help explain some things. But I need some help getting there.

UPDATE (jk): I thought I'd try taking the test as I understand Donald Trump's positions.(It might be expanded into some original reporting with snippets of speeches or policy positions to back it up.) But the first question made me laugh so hard, I'm not certain I can continue:


UPDATE II (Still jk): Pfffft!


Posted by JohnGalt at 3:22 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Admittedly it's an oversimplification that "being in my quadrant" means I'll admire a candidate. And if Trump truly "has no guiding principles" as is often charged, can he even be constrained to one quadrant or another? Perhaps my premise is faulty - maybe Trump is a left right-communitarian liberal? But I don't think so.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 5:59 PM
But jk thinks:

I am just as surprised at our impasse. I did a quick test with "my guesses" at Trump's answers. I was fair but not diligent. It truly would be a good piece of original reporting to do it right. Anybody want to join in?

Guesses got me 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian. As Right as President George HW Bush and as Communitarian as President Reagan.

It's a superb argument. I don't find his positions inviolate, but you are correct to point out that he is fundamentally not too different and waaaaay closer than Sec. Clinton.

The convention speech was a gargantuan turn-off for me. The areas where we do agree I felt lacked depth and detail while the areas where we do not were both more forceful and more likely to have specific actions. "Build a wall," and "Renegotiate NAFTA" are clear. Reform regulation, cur taxes (without any spending cuts) were amorphous catch-phrases.

You have defended his trade and immigration restrictions as seeking both fair and legal. He highlighted Nafta and China's entrance to the WTO in his speech, to pin them on (President William Jefferson) Clinton.

WOW! This kicked off an impressive economic boom and lifted millions of Mexicans and billions of Chinese out of poverty. My gripe with (Sec. Hillary Rodham) Clinton is that she casually discards these amazing successes of her husband because they no longer have currency in the Party of Sens. Sanders and Warren.

But, if those don't make the grade on Trump's list, I daresay no trade will.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:


I tried to guess Trump's answers too. I wanted to compare my version of Trump to yours. I tried to be fair too, and left some answers neutral if I didn't have a sense of what Trump would pick. If I had an inkling but wasn't certain, I gave it the mid-way response.

Where you scored Trump 22.2% Right, 44.4% Communitarian, I have him 44.4% Right, 30.6% Communitarian.

The same neighborhood, with differences only in degree. Not a Right-Liberal, as many putative conservatives have charged, but one suspects that anyone not as far right as they are would earn the label "liberal" even if he is still right of center.

I humbly request that you add these dots to your chart. I think they are informative, especially if you include the dots for Presidents Bush, Reagan, Obama and Clinton. (Noteworthy: Obama scored 67% left but only 33% liberal. A reminder that "liberal" isn't the threat conservatives should fear, leftism is.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2016 1:11 PM

July 22, 2016

All Hail Charles Koch!

Half the Koch Brothers have a superb guest editorial in the WSJ today, citing "dangerous signs that the U.S. is turning its back on the principles of a free and open society that fostered the nation's rise."

Despite our enormous potential for further progress, a clear majority of Americans see a darker future. Some 56% believe their children's lives will be worse off than their own, according to a January CNN poll. A Rasmussen poll released the following month found that 46% believe America's best days are behind it. Little more than a third believe better days lie ahead.

I empathize with this fear. The U.S. is already far down the path to becoming a less open and free society, and the current cultural and political atmosphere threatens to make the situation worse: Growing attacks on free speech and free association, hostile rhetoric toward immigrants, fear that global trade impoverishes rather than enriches, demands that innovators in cutting-edge industries first seek government permission.

Much worth a read in full.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Pollyanna here. I look at the half-full portion of the glass. It's just my nature.

"Growing attacks on free speech and free association"?

An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.

I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.

"Hostile rhetoric toward immigrants"?

I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people. Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be.

"Fear that global trade impoverishes rather than enriches"?

I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence. Instead, I will make individual deals with individual countries.

No longer will we enter into these massive transactions, with many countries, that are thousands of pages long – and which no one from our country even reads or understands.

"Demands that innovators in cutting-edge industries first seek government permission"?

Sorry, never heard of that one.

Yes, I'm picking the most favorable messages on each subject. In fairness, I'll try to find the worst and we can see just how much "damage" they portend.

In the end, it's all just words. That's all any politician has to campaign on, with regard to the future. With regard to the past, Donald isn't a politician so he has no record. But Hillary does.

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2016 7:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Upon reflection I've decided that there are enough folks finding the worst possible interpretation of what, in the eyes of seventy-three percent of poll respondents, constitutes the "Right Direction" for our country. They don't need my help.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm going to accuse my blog brother of "doth protesting too much."

This was not a Trump post. The excerpt, perhaps, conveys my shared concern with both parties' aversion to free movement of people and goods. Trumps calls for regulatory reform -- though thin on specifics -- would be a positive against "asking permission."

For all their differences, the shock to many a liberty-lover is how easily the Bush and Obama Administrations can be referred to as one 16-year period of contiguous government growth. I think Koch is decrying that and seeing no obvious relief -- or even lip service -- from teh current candidates.

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2016 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I beg your pardon. I had only read the excerpt. It gave me a different impression of the article.

The article itself reminded me of two things:

One is a new book, 'The Closing of the Liberal Mind' about political correctness and groupthink on college campuses, from which much of the Koch article could have sprung.

The other is Leonard Peikoff's 'The Ominous Parallels' which has an updated version called 'The Cause of Hitler's Germany.'

Peikoff argues that unreason and collectivism — in such forms as self-sacrifice, Oriental mysticism, racial "truth," the public good, and doing one's duty — were the ideas that led Germany to totalitarian statism.

All of these ideas are clearly represented in the established Democratic and Republican traditions. My "Two Faces of Trump" post argued that Trump is the antidote to this. He doesn't follow dogmatic "principle" rather, he trusts what "works." It is quite possible that his "seat of the pants" philosophy is more pro-liberty than any of the so-called "principled" schools of thought.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2016 3:14 PM

July 11, 2016

Extremely Careless

A couple of lads from Alabama, whose mug-shots do little to dispel stereotypes of my Father's birthplace, were -- it seems -- extremely careless with their campfire. And this being Colorado in July:


We must someday open the topic of mens rea. Harvey Silverglate and I are quite concerned that we now commit "Three Felonies a Day" [Review Corner], not only without criminal intent, but without knowledge. Gibson guitars had no criminal intent in importing half-finished fretboards from India, yet they faced the cold steel of the Fish & Game SWAT Team (I wince every time I type that). Because they violated "The Lacy Act."

Stossel and Reason have shown numerous egregious examples. One guy goes to prison for importing lobsters in plastic instead of cardboard. Prison -- for something he had done as a business for may years. The answer is mens rea reform: no jail for some stupid law you had no idea existed.

Yet, there must be exceptions. The two lads from Alabama are in the clink. They face not only my specious ridicule, but severe charges -- especially if life is lost in the blaze. I'm not sure I agree with that. I'd offer them mens non rea leniency.

But they were "Extremely Careless." And even the bad kids in the back know where I am heading. Sec. Clinton was negligent in an area that was her job to understand. I don't know about the Alabama Arson Squad, but her malfeasance included the desire to shield or conceal public information.

Lock up the stupid campers if you must, but not if Sec. Clinton skates.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Extremely careless" seems to be your characterization. More likely the authorities will find they were "grossly negligent."

Just as seriously but less political, this is one of the reasons that mountain life ain't for me. I'll take my chances with the odd tornado or hail storm.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2016 11:36 PM

June 11, 2016

Feel-gooders vs. Do-gooders

Truth: "McDonald's Restaurants Are America's Real Community Centers
Not the Spaces Offered by Paternalistic Do-Gooders"

The kale-and-quinoa set love to vilify McDonald's as a bane of the poor. McFood causes obesity and chronic disease. McBosses pay low wages, and, when workers "fight for fifteen," they villainously respond by replacing them with computerized kiosks for taking customer orders.

There is merit to the health critique, but not so for the economic one. But there is one way in which McDonald's provides an inestimable service to the poor. It has gone almost entirely unremarked, until a reporter recently interviewed regulars at a McDonald's in the Bronx. The Guardian's Chris Arnade points out what has been staring us all in the face: that "in many poor and middle-income neighborhoods" "McDonald's have become de-facto community centers... ."

Click through to read the whole Guardian article. It is superb. A bit of "Wah Wah, income equality," but it is the Guardian and -- to be fair -- it is germane: "When faced with the greatest challenges, with a personal loss, wealthier Americans turn to expensive therapists, others without the resources or the availability, turn to each other." And an Egg McMuffin. I'm getting a little hungry typing...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2016

Nailed it!

This. A Barton Hinkle makes an important point by marrying conservative distrust of disorder with libertarian distrust for the state monopoly on force.

[Sen. Bernie Sanders:] "Our campaign of course believes in nonviolent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals."

Which, to be blunt about it, is a crock. Sanders' entire campaign is premised on the idea of violent change--lots of it. His supporters just want someone else to do the dirty work.

Sanders proposes hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which is another way of saying he wants to make it illegal for employers to pay workers less than $15 an hour--even when there are workers who are willing to take less. He also proposes to make employers provide 12 weeks paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and seven paid sick days.

How is he going to achieve all that? By changing the law and then enforcing it. Note the root of the word "enforce." If a company chooses not to comply the consequences will, eventually, entail the use of armed officers of the law.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | Comments (0)

Internet Segue Machine

ONE: Colorado folk should please, please, please watch Poverty, Inc. on Channel 12 tonight at 7PM. Outside folks, buy or rent it on Amazon and I will pay you back.

TWO: I remain suspicious of the medium. It is powerful, but there is a Leni Riefenstahl edge. I growl when I watch Michael Moore, or the bozos on 60 Minutes. Am I certain that the ones I like -- like Poverty, Ivc. and Mine Your Own Business -- are totally above such tricks?

Katoe Couric, you'll be unsurprised to hear is not.

THREE: Post-viewing question. I have become a big fan of Raising Men Lawn Care. A couple of college students in my Daddy's home town of Huntsville, Alabama started mowing lawns of the elderly and disabled at no charge.

They recruited young men to help and pass out T-Shirts modeled on the belt system of martial arts: mow a lawn, get a white T-shirt, ten for a yellow, 25 for a blue, &c. Hence, they are "Raising Men" and helping the community. No government jack, Briggs & Stratton donated several mowers and now they are starting outside chapters and many organizations are donating mowers. It's really taking off and I've watched it grow following them on Facebook.

But. At a certain level, pace Poverty, Inc., are they shutting down the dreams of a young person who might wish to start mowing for money?

Posted by John Kranz at 6:03 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I don't know about young people mowing lawns for hire, but then, I'm in California, and that's simply not done. I think it's been twenty years since the last time I saw a minor with his hands on a mower. I mow my own (but with our drought, it's not like it's a lot of work; what's left of my St. Augustine looks a lot like Bruce Willis' head, and has only needed a date with the mower twice so far this year), and everyone else I know pays Someone Doing The Jobs Americans Won't Do.

I've been following your posts on Raising Men, and I like what they're doing so much that if they were in my neighborhood, I'd contribute money to their cause.

In return for mowing, of course.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 6:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Probably living in the past again.

Shovelling. The customer plans for lawn care, but the teenager with a shovel enjoys near-monopsony pricing power. Perhaps Governor Brown will start a pilot government program in LA. Or around Ivanpah.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2016 6:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Perhaps an apprenticeship, shoveling coal on the Train to Nowhere.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 25, 2016 7:24 PM
But Jk thinks:


Posted by: Jk at May 25, 2016 9:10 PM
But jk thinks:

That was really funny in a horrible, i hope nothing like that ever happens again sort of way.

I got a few people to tune in between here and Facebook. EVen though I own the movie, I thought I'd experience it simultaneously with my friends -- kind of like "Sharknado."

Sharknado I wish. The film shown was named Poverty, Inc. but it was NOT Poverty, Inc. The film I was expecting (and the one in the link) takes a serious look at unintended consequences of big deal, NGO, and institutionalized charity. Poor farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs are frequently squashed by well meaning AID programs. And the culture of dependence and implied inferiority is underappreciated by the do-gooders. It is really, really good and you should buy or rent it on Amazon. No, it is not free on Netflix. Get over it.

The movie with the same title was so intensely horrid, it will be difficult to describe. "Oh you know how jk exaggerates..." No it was bad. Occasionally, Sec. Robert Reich came on to give his opinion about the conspiracy theory on the minute . . . and those were the sensical moments of the film.

I promised a beer or cappuccino to anyone of my Facebook friends who viewed it on my responsibility. It's not enough, but atonement is a process.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2016 12:16 PM

May 24, 2016

Jonah has a bone to pick with McCloskey

Jonah Goldberg opens his column with high praise, but suggests Professor McCloskey [Review Corner] may have missed one.

She always endeavors to distribute her whacks evenly, like every libertarian should. But Goldberg catches her attributing eugenics to "the right," when two of his books [Review] [Corner] have documented progressives' complicity:

The sainted liberal jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the infamous Buck v. Bell decision which made forced sterilizations of "imbeciles" constitutional (Buck was not an imbecile for the record). The liberals on the court voted with him, while the sole dissenter was a conservative, Pierce Butler. In Britain, The Catholic conservative G.K. Chesterton fought eugenics with every fiber of his being, while progressives and socialists like H.G. Wells, the Webbs and George Bernard Shaw believed it was the heart of socialist or progressive reform.

I don't think any of this undermines any of McCloskey's larger argument. But it's frustrating to see someone so committed to the cause of liberty repeat a slander popularized by liberty's enemies.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2016

Those Who Wish Me Dead...

I think I'll let sleeping dogs lie on Facebook, but I am tempted to share Ronald Bailey's post "One-Fifth of Earth's Plants Threatened with Extinction: Recent trends on population, farmland, deforestation, and urbanization are cause for optimism."

The new data on the vulnerability of plants to extinction from the Kew researchers is sobering, but there are lots of positive trends that suggest that the 21st century will be a century of environmental renewal, rather than one of ecological ruin.

Bailey uses excerpts from his supurb "End of Doom" [Review Corner] to show positive trends in ecological stewardship.


Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

What is the cause of species extinction?? Evolution, mostly.

"Through evolution, species arise through the process of speciation—where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche—and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. The relationship between animals and their ecological niches has been firmly established."

Because: science.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 7:37 PM

Peace and Love, Peace and Love!

One of the famous lefty Facebook Friends posts a PBS/NOVA story.

The World's Largest Primate Could Be Extinct Within a Decade
After years of uncertainty, an international team of conservationists has finally been able to confirm the number of Grauer's gorillas left in the world.

Formerly known as the eastern lowland gorilla, this massive mammal is the largest primate on Earth. Despite its enormous size, years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo have decimated this subspecies' populations.

Tragic. If memory serves, some people were affected as well. There was that Rwandan Genocide, multi-decadal war. But, yes the devastation of habitat is tragic.

Here are the comments. I know they're all Saganists, but I was staggered at this discourse:


UPDATE: As the great political philosopher Johnny Mercer told us "fools rush in, where Angels fear to tread." I suggested that I had stumbled onto the peace and love hippie page. And, well:


Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Update again when one of the little snowflakes finally gets around to, "Hitler had the right idea, it just should have been Christians instead of Jews."

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2016 12:00 PM

May 2, 2016

Rethinking Liberty

I have always believed this:


Jefferson. National Review. Liberty. Small Government. Great Taste. Less Filling.

Yet I find myself rather tortured by the Randy Barnett book [Review Corner], though less than his compelling advocacy of anarchy. Just as the new libertarian jurisprudence comes at the expense of "avoiding judicial activism," Barnett champions the centralization and federalization of power in the Civil War Amendments. I've always considered it a necessary evil to extinguish slavery. Barnett celebrates it.

Yet, if government exists "to secure these rights" it must be powerful enough so to do. Likewise, the mantra of cutting government hides the fact that we should probably spend quite a bit more on courts. The plea-deals, long delays, and push for outside arbitration are symptoms of a government failing at its key job (this is not from Barnett, though I doubt he's object -- more Harvey Silverglate).

Rethinking some heroes.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2016

Life Imitates ThreeSources II

Now [Deirdre] McCloskey doesn't much like the word capitalism, the "C-word" as she terms it. "Our riches," she writes, "did not come from piling brick upon brick... or bank balance on bank balance... but from piling idea on idea." Capital, in all its forms, was necessary but not sufficient. -- James Pethokoukis
Posted by John Kranz at 4:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2016

Life Imitates ThreeSources

Brother JohnGalt has said the same: Millennials love private enterprise—as long as you don't call it "capitalism."

When pollsters probe young people further about socialism and capitalism, they tend to find that respondents don't have clear concepts of these economic philosophies. To many millennials, "socialism" doesn't mean a government-managed economy but something like what we have now, only with more subsidized health care, student-loan forgiveness, and mandatory paid parental leave. Millennials were small children, if they were even born yet, when the Soviet Union dissolved. "Socialism" isn't Romania and Yugoslavia but Scandinavia, not Karl Marx and union halls but Bernie Sanders and Twitter.

"Capitalism," meanwhile, doesn't simply mean private, for-profit enterprise. It isn't a category that has anything to do with the family-owned bodega on their corner or their friend's new artisanal cupcake business or the proliferation of legal weed shops, with Tom's shoes or their local grocery or that Uber they took last night. Capitalism is Big Banks, Wall Street, "income inequality," greed. It's wealthy sociopaths screwing over the little guy, Bernie Madoff, and horrifying sweatshops in China. It's Walmart putting mom-and-pop stores out of business, McDonald's making people fat, BP oil spills, banks pushing sub-prime mortgages, and Pfizer driving up drug prices while cancer patients die. However incomplete or caricatured, these are the narratives of capitalism that millennials have grown up with.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

An old friend once uttered a phrase that's stuck with me*, and I employ often: "I'm a fierce advocate for free enterprise."

This needs to become part and parcel of the GOP playbook, as does this statement from the estimable (sorry, it's PowerLine who's upgraded and turbocharged their Flash-ups)
Dr. Steven Hayward:

We should be honest: we—our cause, our movement—became complacent. We became too narrowly focused on policy studies to the exclusion of the sustained public argument about the principles and practices of a free society that were the predicate of policy reforms. We forgot the “public” part of “public policy” studies.... [and put] increasing emphasis on the nuts and bolts of how to privatize rather than why to privatize.

* As we say in the hardware world: bad engineers borrow or copy; good engineers steal.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 28, 2016 11:57 AM

April 25, 2016

Good Randian Case against Anarcho-Capitalism

I am heartened and fortified that Randy Barnett -- the author of the most compelling case for anarchy which I have ever encountered [Review Corner] -- has used his most recent book to advocate for The Republican Constitution. I had been using the non-euphonious "Constitutional Minarchist." My meaning is that the original Constitution was well structured and ratified by many serious-minded liberty lovers. So, if I quibble with a phrase or an Article I, Section 8 power ("coin money: **cough** "regulate the value thereof" **cough, cough**), I'll take it in toto.

Today, I spill across this fine Harry Binswanger column which argues against in Objectivist grounds.

"Free competition works so well for everything else," these anarchists say, "why not for governmental services, too?"

But that argument comes from an anti-capitalist premise. Like the Marxists, who prate about "exploitation" and "wage slavery," the anarchists are ignoring the crucial, fundamental, life-and-death difference between trade and force.

Pretty good if you like such things.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2016

Spinal Implant

I'm not the only one who's noticed Verizon's HOSS CEO Lowell McAdams. Kim Strassel pens one of the great columns of her storied and stellar career.

Mr. McAdam is right that Mr. Sanders is wrong. American businesses aren’t immoral. They create jobs, prosperity, investment and tax revenue. They are the essence and the requirement of a democracy. Far from an immoral system, U.S. capitalism is the wonder and envy of the world. The greater wonder is that it remains so, despite the pusillanimous behavior of its most prominent representatives.

It has been many a year since corporate America could claim to have an intact spinal system, though its retreat into nervelessness has accelerated over the past decade. We've reached a moment at which Mr. Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren can daily tar companies as the villains of the world, and receive applause from voters both left and right. Blame it on the great recession; blame it on a litigious environment; blame it on President Obama. But mostly blame it on the companies themselves. When asked time and again who among them would stand up for the American way, they mumbled "Not I."

"Not I" (What's that, the Red Chicken or something?) is a favorite riff ';round these parts. Capitalists won;t stand up to defend capitalism -- then they wonder from where Sen. Sanders's support originates.

Read. The. Whole. Thing. Holler if I can assist a breach of Rupert's pay wall.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2016

President Ted Cruz - A Philosophical Endorsement

Three days ago, Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, endorsed Ted Cruz for president. Craig gives an issue by issue summary of the many ways Ted Cruz stands alone in this political contest, and all of them boil down to his recognition of individual rights and holding ideas as absolutes. Read it in full here, if you like. He cites many of the quotes I've heard Cruz state over the months of this primary campaign. He also cites several of the times that Cruz has quoted the seminal work of Ayn Rand - 'Atlas Shrugged.' One of these was when I first became a stalwart fan of the first-term Senator from Texas. Namely, in a 2013 Senate floor speech urging the defunding of Obamacare:

Cruz also read the passage in which Dagny Taggart poses the question, "What is morality?" - and receives the answer, "Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price." After pausing to let that sink in, Cruz said:

That's counsel that the United States Senate should listen to. That's counsel that I would encourage every Democratic senator who feels the urge of party loyalty to [listen to] . . . I would encourage my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle: As difficult as it is to cross one's Party leaders, I say, with perhaps a little familiarity of the consequences of so doing, that it's survivable - and that ultimately it is liberating.

Imagine a politician who recognizes the difference between right and wrong, or even acknowledges that the distinction exists. Imagine a politician willing to defend the good at any cost. Imagine the benefit that could abound to all honest and self-respecting people.

Biddle writes,

Imagine the possibility of a U.S. president speaking from the Oval Office, "I'd like to share a few excerpts from one of my favorite books, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand . . ." and encouraging Americans, "go tomorrow, buy Atlas Shrugged, and read it."

In other words, imagine President Ted Cruz.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Ari Armstrong is moderately in.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2016 5:20 PM

March 10, 2016

Six Reasons That Trump Voters are Not Embarrassed by Him

This morning I suggested to dagny that Donald Trump has already told us who his running mate, or mates, will be - Smoot and Hawley. But Trump voters aren't completely ignorant on trade and economics, they've merely been misled. They see (or think they see) job growth and prosperity in China, Mexico, et. al. and wonder why if trade is so great for them, why isn't it great for us too? The answer, of course, is that it is great for both of us. But demagogues like Trump and Sanders tell eager listeners that trade is to blame for the damage done by big government, through tax and regulatory expansion, not to mention mandates to do things less economically.

Red-blooded, patriotic attorney and combat veteran John C. Kluge explains six reasons why he is a Trump voter, and resents those who tell him not to be:

1- Trump isn't a "conservative."

What Republican presidential nominee in the last 25 years has been?

2- What has "conservatism" become today, anyway?

"Conservatives have become some sort of schizophrenic sect of libertarians who love freedom (but hate potheads and abortion) and feel the US should be the policeman of the world. The same people who daily fret over the effects of leaving our society to the mercy of Hollywood and the mass culture have somehow decided leaving it to the mercies of the international markets is required."

Kluge seems to be conflating "conservative" with "establishment" or more precisely, neoconservative. But he has a good point here.

3- Mismanagment of the war on Islamic extremism:

"I fully understand the sad necessity to fight wars and I do not believe in "blow back" or any of the other nonsense that says the world will leave us alone if only we will do the same. At the same time, I cannot for the life of me understand how conservatives of all people convinced themselves that the solution to the 9/11 attacks was to forcibly create democracy in the Islamic world."

4- Donald Trump's vulgarity, combativeness and incivility are virtues, not vices:

The standard Democrat playbook is to lie, slander and mislead voters about their Republican opponents. "And now you tell me that I should reject Trump because he is uncivil and mean to his opponents? Is that some kind of a joke? This is not the time for civility or to worry about it in our candidates."

5- "I do not care that Donald Trump is in favor of big government."

This one is a swing and a miss. "That is certainly not a virtue but it is not a meaningful vice, since the same can be said of every single Republican in the race. I am sorry, but the "We are just one more Republican victory from small government" card is maxed out. We are not getting small government no matter who wins. So Trump being big government is a wash."

Ted Cruz' message* is not reaching this man.

6- Help us Donald Trump, you're our only hope:

"Trump offers at least the chance that he might act in the American interest instead of the world’s interest or in the blind pursuit of some fantasy ideological goals. There is more to economic policy than cutting taxes, sham free-trade agreements and hollow appeals to “cutting government” and the free market. Trump may not be good, but he at least understands that. In contrast, the rest of the GOP and everyone in Washington or the media who calls themselves a conservative has no understanding of this."

And this is where one might ask, "But what about Ted Cruz? The establishment hates him. The Senate hates him. He constantly harps on Constitutional limits - doesn't he offer at least as much a chance to "act in the American interest" as Trump?"

"Marco Rubio would be nothing but a repeat of the Bush 43 administration with more blood and treasure spent on the fantasy that acting in other people’s interests indirectly helps ours.

Ted Cruz might be somewhat better, but it is unclear whether he could resist the temptations of nation building and wouldn’t get bullied into trying it again. And as much as I like Cruz on many areas, he, like all of them except Trump, seems totally unwilling to admit that the government has a responsibility to act in the nation’s interests on trade policy and do something besides let every country in the world take advantage of us in the name of "free trade."


* Click "continue reading" for a snippet of Cruz' message last night when interviewed by Megyn Kelly.

Now, let's focus on the third area which is where you want to go, which is legislation. Legislation is the hardest lever to use because right now Congress is fundamentally broken. It is dysfunctional. I am campaigning based on two big legislative policy initiatives. Number one repealing every single word of ObamaCare.


And number two, passing a simple flat tax and abolishing the IRS.


KELLY: Control of the House and the Senate and the Republican Party if you want to get that done.

CRUZ: Now, listen, you are right. And neither of those are easy. I am not remotely naive or Pollyannaish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're behind you, Ted.


CRUZ: That's actually the key. Listen, could I get either of those done in this current Congress? Not a chance. Because right now the Washington cartel, all of the lobbyists, all of the special interest, they depend on the status quo. The IRS tax code, the reason it's so long is that's where all the carve outs, all the subsidies, all the handouts are buried in that tax code. How do you change it? You know, if you look at the last time we broke the Washington cartel, it was 1981. It was the Reagan revolution where Reagan took it to the people and there was a tidal wave from the people. The way we get that done is I intend to make 2016, the general election against Hillary Clinton they referendum on repealing ObamaCare and abolishing the IRS.


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2016


Much that will be appreciated 'round these parts.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2016

If You Want Me, I'll Be Here

Is it time for a new third party? Not yet. But if Donald Trump gets the Republican nomination, then a new third party will be an imperative -- and the time for organizing it is now.

I have long vocally opposed third parties as irrational in our two-party system. They inevitably drain votes away from the major party closest to them, thereby benefiting the major party that is even worse. But strategies must adjust to circumstances. If Trump wins the GOP nominations, one of two things will happen, either of which would be disastrous for the Constitution and for the country. -- Randy Barnett

Sadly, I have seen what happens when you give Colorado one-party, Democrat rule and it ain't pretty.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Was this one of the same people telling the libertarians to fall in line with the GOP? I'm not sure but it seems like the people talking about running a third-party candidate now - the Washington D.C. establishment Republicans (in name only?) were calling other folks "irresponsible" and "idealistic dreamers" a cycle or two ago.

Democracy ain't pretty. I wish we didn't have it. [I prefer to let state legislatures pick presidential delegates, like the Founders had in mind.] But for now, it's all we have.

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2016 6:07 PM

February 23, 2016

This is Important

I try to use those words sparingly, but I think this concise article by "Dissident Prof" Mary Grabar is very important, illuminating, and worthy of a complete read: 'School is About Freedom, Marco Rubio, Not Just Money'

The other part of the progressive vision for education is to produce graduates who adhere to the state's status quo. Students are trained to work collectively, focus on emotions, refrain from making independent judgments, and read in a way that does not go beyond ferreting out snippets of information. They are not asked to read an entire Platonic dialogue or novel. They do not get the big picture, from the dawn of civilization.

Our current educational methods are a far cry from the Founders' robust views, of preparing citizens who are literate, logical, and knowledgeable; citizens capable of voting intelligently.

Because I think it is so important, and not to save you from reading the whole article, I have an extended excerpt after the jump.

Our presidential candidates should consider what philosophy, rightly understood, could do. Indeed, by studying Aristotle's "Rhetoric" students would be able to distinguish between different rhetorical appeals and learn the legitimate arts of persuasion--those that allow us to live in a civilized manner, where we resolve our differences through debate, not violence.

Were students to study Plato’s "Republic," they might understand the dangers of a popular democracy and why the American Founders rejected one. They would consider Thrasymachus's contention that justice is synonymous with strength, with being a "winner," regardless of the methods. They might decide to evaluate such rhetoric carefully when it comes from a political candidate, like Donald Trump.

They would consider whether it is good for the government to put people in certain classes, as craftsmen or "guardians," instead of allowing them to choose for themselves, or whether government should raise children rather than parents. What has been the historical outcome of such societies with centralized government, five-year economic plans, government-assigned jobs, and child-rearing from infancy? Are there any similarities to what Sanders is proposing?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:48 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

It is important enough, I'll read it twice. And I will attempt to circle back and compare it to this NYTimes piece on STEM-versus-humanities.

Three friends posted this on Facebook. One favorite lefty under the rubric of "OMG Rethuglicans hate science but want to make us study it."

Blog friend (and Mister Humanities) tg posted it and said "This is the humanities' own fault. I sorrow to say it, I am a humanities man. But it is true nonetheless."

Blog friend (and Mister Humanities Runner Up) SC posted it as an interesting take on education. The three different comment chains would make a superb master's thesis.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2016 4:05 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Well, I'd say the Dissident Prof is our answer to any of the credentialed, pychobabble spewing leftist academic icons, except that I've more or less forgotten what the question was!

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 25, 2016 1:21 AM

February 19, 2016

Y'all get the Day Off!

The enemies of liberty are destroying themselves. Don't get complacent or anything, but take a well deserved holiday.

1. Thanks to Donald Trump, (never thought I'd type that!) the WSJ Ed Page has renewed attacks on Pope Francis. They were respectfully critical posting their disagreements over Laudato Si [Review Corner], but they are all in today:

So much for "who am I to judge?" In its place we now have Pope Francis suggesting that Donald Trump, a Presbyterian, is not a Christian.
To start with, Americans naturally resent a foreign leader who uses his office to introduce a religious test into American politics. We say this even though on the substance of immigration and Mr. Trump's proposed wall along the Mexican border, we are much closer to the pope than to Mr. Trump.

Even better news comes from local liberty friend Paul Hsieh in Forbes. Progressive economists are coming out against Sen. Sanders's proposals.
Four left-leaning economists who have all held high positions in the Obama and Clinton administrations penned an open letter sharply critical of Sanders:

You'll want to whole the thing read, but here's a taster:
Austan Goolsbee, one of the co-authors (and former chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers), told the New York Times that, "The numbers don't remotely add up" and "they've evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars."

This from the brilliant but partisan Chicago Professor who designed President Obama's economic plans. "Magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets" is particularly rich coming from the architect of "Cash-for-Clunkers."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2016

Disney Does Ayn Rand

Maybe there's hope. I've long been disappointed that Walt Disney's company became the leading voice of luddism and opposition to commerce. On the one hand, it sells... But we just purchased the Starz® addition to Amazon Prime and have been enjoying a lot of movies we missed. There are some partial spoilers ahead, but both movies are old enough that the statute of spoilage has expired.

Two Disney flicks stand out. The first is Walt Disney Animation Studio's Big Hero 6. (Surprising I missed this). The plucky kids are asked early on whether to trust academic Professor Callahan or businessman Alistair Krei. Krei is voiced by Firefly's own Alan Tudyk and -- I swear to Ms. Rand and all that is holy -- is derisively described by Callahan as "a man who who pursues his own self interest."

The classic Disney villain is set up. The businessman is always the Disney villain. It is set up for the bulk of the 1 hr 42 minute running time. But what transpires is a little more ambiguous -- I almost fell off my chair.

The second, and I'd recommend both, is Kevin Costner in McFarland, USA. To be fair, I wanted ThreeSourcers to view this as part of our continuing immigration discussion, but I will set that aside for now.

Costner plays a real character named "Jim White." The name causes much mirth because White is a high school football coach so down on his luck he must accept a job in McFarland, California, coaching children of Mexican-American produce pickers. White is the only white guy in town. He is hired for football and PE, but the smaller, wiry students are not cut out for football. White sees that they each run miles to school and fields and back and starts a cross-country team where they have comparative advantage.

They excel in this "country club sport" (did I mention it was Disney?) and White is offered a prestigious position at a wealthy school with safe neighborhoods and state of the art facilities. This position was always just a launching pad for him to rehabilitate his career. Spoiler Alert (ahem, Disney): he stays.

The tie-in and cause of my Rand reference is "self-interest." He values the challenges and achievement opportunities of helping "the pickers." His family values the community which embraced them over affluence. It is helping without slavery or duty. One great grace note reminds me of Dickens's "Bleak House." Early after his arrival, an earnest young female teacher suggests a laundry list of charity opportunities. He demurs. Yet, he truly helps long term.

If you have not see them yet, I would highly recommend both..

Posted by John Kranz at 9:53 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Nice. I remember being interested in McFarland, from the previews. Big Hero 6 however, had big zero appeal to me. I'll give them both a watch, given the chance.

I have intentions to connect my smart TV to the internet. I haven't made the leap yet, partially because my ISP has a monthly usage cap, with fees for going over. And I'm limited in my ISP choices being a rural customer. [Hey Algore, are you listening?] Dish has on-demand services too, and I'm already paying for unlimited data through that pipe.

Posted by: johngalt at February 18, 2016 11:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I confess I like blockbuster animation movies. I liked Big Hero 6 but if it does not appeal, don't rush to watch on my account. Perhaps hearing a Disney film use the term "self-interest" is worth data overage charges, perhaps not.

McFarland, however, is a very good movie, I'm more comfortable pushing that.

While we're on movies and politics, here's one more: Matt Damon and George Clooney have been derided by the Right for anti-Americanism. Yet "The Monuments Men" is the most patriotic movie Hollywood has made since 1945. Mercuh! plus one Brit, risk life and limb to preserve art. Russia looks to steal it, The Third Reich looks to hoard it, France looks to weaponize it to some extent. The good guys all speak English.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2016 12:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reconsidering the title of your post, neither film is the equivalent of 'Anthem' but one takes what one gets from Hollywood. Or from the art community in general.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2016 11:07 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I was wildly impressed with BH6; the polyglot team surrounding the hero was a bit of fluff that could have gotten far less screen time, IMO, but the kids loved it. Otherwise, it was excellent.

I liked what I saw of McFarland... will have to go back and see the whole (heh) enchilada.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 19, 2016 2:58 PM

November 23, 2015


I love this. (On the minus side, one of my favorite cousins may never speak to me again). This photo is from LIFE magazine in 1939:


Now this is going around Pinterest with the following explanation;

1939. Kansas Wheat. When they realized women were using their sacks to make clothes for their children, the mills started using flowered fabric for their sacks so the kids would have pretty clothes. Pure kindness. The label would wash out.

Pure kindness. Said cuz shares on Facebook and asks "How do we get back to more of this?"

She is a wonderful person, stunningly bright, and was employed many years in advertising. Why she accepted this as kindness and not "brilliant marketing ploy," only Jonathan Haidt can explain.

My favorite speech that I give to myself (who knows, I may do it in public at the Holiday Liberty on the Rocks if my infield fly rule history cannot be trimmed to the allocated time slot) is the celebration of the Ziploc™ closure on tortilla bags and cheese.. Tortilla bags being a synecdoche for innovative packaging. I can beam myself into the meeting, having attended a meeting or two myself. where the idea is first proposed.

Pedro (ACME Tortilla Floor Operations Manager): See, we can build the device right into our bag. Customers can close it up and keep the product fresher. It'll be terrific

Donald Trump, Star of Celebrity Apprentice: Terrific, huh? Won't this cost more?

Pedro: Well, yes, a couple of cents...

Donald: Times 20,000 bags is a lot of money. Can we charge three cents extra?

Pedro: Probably not.

Donald: Will our existing machinery handle it? Don't we have existing stock? What about returns and obsoleting old inventory?

Pedro: Well...

Donald: You're Fired.

It's a tough sell. They probably sell more because they go bad in the old packaging. But somebody hired Pedro and now every manufacturer uses them and the packaging is spreading to other items.

So, I say it is pure kindness to print flowers on wheat sacks and put Ziplocs on tortilla bags. That kind of pure kindness that free market capitalism brings out in people. Pure kindness toward our customers.

And that's the spirit of Christmas.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:59 PM | Comments (4)
But nanobrewer thinks:

It's an unintentional kindness; of the sort that naturally grows out of the respect people grant each other when conducting mutually-beneficial transactions of the type that either [a] confound the regulators and beltway admistrata, [b] cut K-street out of the loop.

Simply part and parcel of the massive PR campaign driven by the liberal desire to ensure that 'you can do whatever you want, so long as it's mandatory.'

Personally, I like this quote from Churchill, tho' it would not help one wit with the low-information, FB crowd:

Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow
they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
If people are allowed to own the wagon, they'll make it pretty, useful, helpful even and nice.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 24, 2015 9:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Describe a Democrat/progressive/redistributionist voter in two words: "Big heart."

Now describe a Republican/libertarian/keep what you earn voter: "Big brain."

Why wouldn't she speak to you? Did you accuse her of having a tiny brain? Or did you answer her question with the same long winded, but otherwise excellent, response posted here?

Why not just answer "How do we get back to more of this" with the answer "by telling government to let businesses run themselves again?" Then you will have so much comity and good will together that you can ask her why she doesn't make her own clothes from flour sacks!

Posted by: johngalt at November 24, 2015 1:02 PM
But jk thinks:

We're speaking and will continue so to do. Everything is fine but I my spidey sense interprets a brief silence as "OMG do you have to make everything political?"

For the record, my exact response (again, she was in the industry) was:

John Kranz: Umm, it's called brilliant marketing and innovative packaging, is it not? Meeting customer needs and establishing a consistent brand?"

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2015 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"No, I don't make everything 'political' I make it about LOVE!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 24, 2015 5:05 PM

October 19, 2015

Revive the Fourth Estate!

That's what Luigi Zingales [not a made up name, at least by me] advocates in this Financial Times article. He concludes:

When the media outlets in any country fail to challenge power, not only are they not part of the solution, they become part of the problem.

YES! But everything that comes before this is thoroughly misguided. To wit:

While nowadays almost all the world professes itself to be capitalist, not everybody experiences the same type of capitalism. In fact, the form of capitalism prevailing in most of the world is very distant from the ideal competitive and meritocratic system we economists theorise in our analyses and most of us aspire to. It is a corrupt form, in which incumbents and special-interest groups shape the rules of the game to their advantage, at the expense of everybody else: it is crony capitalism.

So far, so good.

The reason why a competitive capitalism is so difficult to achieve is that it requires an impartial arbiter to set the rules and enforce them. Markets work well only when the rules of the game are specified beforehand and are designed to level the playing field. But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?

Rules? You mean, don't steal and don't commit fraud? No, he means "level the playing field."

While everybody benefits from a competitive market system, [everyone except the uncompetitive, that is] nobody benefits enough to spend resources to lobby for it. Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffused constituency that is in favour of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilise in its defence.

This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of cronyism and distributing it among the public at large, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by powerful incumbents, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.

This is well and good, until media outlets become a vested interest, or ally themselves with such. Then they are perfectly happy with "powerful incumbents." Then they choose what stories to cover - and not - to benefit those interests. Things like Benghazi and the myriad holes and inconsistencies in the "accepted, settled, science" behind the Global Climate Change movement.

"But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?"

The founders of the United States, and the authors of the United States Constitution. That's who.

And in the name of "a competitive capitalism" the author advocates for ever more corporatism, the only difference being that media outlets will have a greater say.

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8843ca9e-70f5-11e5-9b9e-690fdae72044.html#ixzz3p2T5fA57

In the past decade economists have shown a growing interest in the media. Most of their attention has focused on the role the media play in limiting government corruption or in shaping electoral outcomes. Little attention has been dedicated to its influence on the type of capitalism prevailing in a country.

While nowadays almost all the world professes itself to be capitalist, not everybody experiences the same type of capitalism. In fact, the form of capitalism prevailing in most of the world is very distant from the ideal competitive and meritocratic system we economists theorise in our analyses and most of us aspire to. It is a corrupt form, in which incumbents and special-interest groups shape the rules of the game to their advantage, at the expense of everybody else: it is crony capitalism.

The reason why a competitive capitalism is so difficult to achieve is that it requires an impartial arbiter to set the rules and enforce them. Markets work well only when the rules of the game are specified beforehand and are designed to level the playing field. But who has the incentives to design the rules in such an impartial way?

While everybody benefits from a competitive market system, nobody benefits enough to spend resources to lobby for it. Business has very powerful lobbies; competitive markets do not. The diffused constituency that is in favour of competitive markets has few incentives to mobilise in its defence.

This is where the media can play a crucial role. By gathering information on the nature and cost of cronyism and distributing it among the public at large, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by powerful incumbents, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.

This is the role that “muckraking” publications such as McClure’s magazine played in the US in the early 20th century, where the investigative reporting of Ida Tarbell created the political environment to break up Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly. And it is the role that the business newspaper The Marker has played in Israel in exposing the effect on the national economy of the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few billionaires.

Unfortunately, this is not the most profitable sort of media activity. It can be very expensive, not so much from the costs of the resources dedicated to investigative journalists, but because of the economic repercussions from annoyed advertisers that these investigations can generate.

The value of the advertising that is withheld from muckraking media will generally exceed the additional revenues generated from new subscriptions.

Even if they do not lose money, muckraking newspapers at best break even. As a result, the important social role they play becomes the preserve of profitable media companies, which can afford investigative journalism as a sideline rather than a business model that can make profits.

Before the internet revolution, newspapers were very profitable and some of them were willing to fund costly investigative reporting and weather any possible retaliation by advertisers. Not any more. Plummeting advertising revenues, disappearing classified ads and dwindling subscriptions have all but hollowed out newsrooms and their investigative reporting teams.

So how can one restore this essential role of the media? Most countries have a group of readers who are interested in investigative journalism and are willing to pay for it. In France, for example, Mediapart, an online newspaper dedicated to investigative journalism, has 110,000 paid subscribers.

For most readers, however, it is difficult to ascertain whether investigative journalism is professional, independent and unbiased; or whether it only preys on easy targets, sparing the powerful players in the economy. Without any quality certification, the risk is that competition will drive the price of all news to zero, destroying any incentives to invest in quality.

If we want the media to play a key role in capitalist societies, we need to find a way to certify the quality of its investigative work. At stake here is not just good journalism, but capitalism itself and, eventually, even democracy.

Inquisitive, daring and influential media outlets willing to take a strong stand against economic power are essential in a competitive capitalist society. They are our defence against crony capitalism. When the media outlets in any country fail to challenge power, not only are they not part of the solution, they become part of the problem.

The writer, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, will deliver the Wincott Foundation lecture on October 29 on crony capitalism and the media

Related Topics
United States of America

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:08 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Fourth Estate continues to be a Fifth Column.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 19, 2015 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Aye, and one that by and large doesn't understand what "competitive capitalism" really is. Let me give them a hint: There will be billionaires. And homeless folks.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2015 4:22 PM

September 30, 2015

The Education Plantation

The title is a term I made up, rather than an excerpt from this pointed William McGurn piece in Monday's WSJ. Unapologetic content theft follows:

Good charters offer part of the answer. In New York, Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy charter schools are arguably the best. Yet the mayor, his schools chancellor and the teachers union all apparently prefer maintaining the present inequality rather than allow Ms. Moskowitz to open more of her charters in poor minority neighborhoods.

The Success Academies are 58% black and about 27% Hispanic. Even so, these children regularly outscore their counterparts in wealthy suburban areas. So while each year the Success Academies prove that black kids can compete as equals with white kids so long as the bar is set high and teachers are held accountable, in the schools run by Mayor de Blasio the achievement gap between black and white has widened.

Welcome to progressive New York. Where black and Latino children in poor neighborhoods are condemned to failed schools with almost no possibility of escape. While the schools where kids are treated equally and black lives really do matter get the back of the mayor's hand.

Whether de Blasio can get away with this for long remains to be seen. And whether he's gotten away with it up to now because of his progressive politics, or because his wife and son are black - really, at this point, what difference does it make?

Bonus: Here is the TV ad that Families for Excellent Schools will run in the NYC market.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2015

Thither Corporatism

This time last year I was learning that more Americans approve of "free enterprise" than "capitalism." Now I'm learning that the modern mixed economy in most of the nations of the world is not "neo-mercantilism" - a term I coined myself in the linked post from last year - but one variant or another of "corporatism."

Corporatism is not, as I previously believed, 'rule by corporations' and their influence over corrupt governments. It's meaning comes from a prioritization of the body, or "corpus", of a population, rather than the individual persons. In essence then, it is a variation of collectivism.

This term--Corporatism--is fraught with perils, mostly because it is now commonly used to label aspects of the current world economic order, almost always incorrectly. Understand that Corporatism proper has nothing to do with modern corporations at all, neither how they function, nor their dependence on or independence from the state. The confusion in this regard--all too common throughout the internet--is largely due to the similarity of the two words: Corporatism and corporation. Both have the same root word, the Latin corpus meaning body, but that's about it.

Corporatism actually refers to an economic (and political) system wherein the people in a society are organized into various groups, based on what they do, on how they make a living. The underlying idea here--and the reason for the name--is that society should be viewed as an organic whole, like a living organism or body, with every person having a distinct role to play in order for society to properly function, to metaphorically live and grow. Thus, one segment of the population should never be--figuratively or literally--under the heel of any other segment. None have primacy in this regard, except of course for the state itself, which is tasked with leadership and control (more or less the head of the body).

And the origin of corporatism dovetails with the objection of bygone commenter Silence Dogood: "He liked Capitalism just fine -- but not "unfettered capitalism." As for corporatism, "They [the doctrine's creators] opposed wide open free trade and free markets because they assumed greed would dictate activity, first and foremost."

What was once old is new again, and humanity continues to repeat past mistakes. Why? I'm not sure. Let's ask Silence Dogood.

H/T: brother nanobrewer [second comment] for inspiring a closer look at Argentine "corporatism."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:55 PM | Comments (10)
But jk thinks:

I'll play (per Jonathan Haidt, what distinguishes us is our ability to pass a "Turing Test.")

"I don't want complete collectivist control of the economy, jg, that is a strawman. I agree with you 98% on the wonders and advantages of Capitalism and free markets.

"But I don't share your love of the wild west, lasseiz faire economics of the Guilded Age. Government trust busting, enforcement of worker safety, child-labor, minimum wage, maximum hour, clean water, clean air, ozone protection regulations created a much better world.

"You may be right that there is too much regulation. I don't want more -- I want better. We can have growth and freedom and still protect people and the environment."

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2015 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

"Are you going to eat the rest of those fries?"

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2015 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

True enough, TG.

And jk, "complete collectivist control of the economy" is a strawman but I didn't raise it, you did. I'm advocating complete free enterprise. I'm advocating, "let people engage in what they want, and not engage in what they don't, freely and voluntarily."

Let me take your points one by one:

Trust busting - Resistant yes, but not impervious to competition.
Worker safety - Why, because employees aren't smart enough to recognize unsafe jobs and conditions when they see them? And demand higher wages or quit?
Child labor - Okay, I'm willing to accede to protecting children from their parents bad choices up to a certain age. You got me on this one.
Minimum wage - Who are you, and what have you done with jk?
Clean water, clean air - We can agree on sensible restrictions here, but the clean air and water acts have become bludgeons of business destruction through environmentalist lawsuits and administrative law restrictions in pursuit of impossibly low contaminant standards.
"Ozone protection regulations created a much better world?" Maybe. Maybe not.

The data shows a lot of variability and no real trends after the Montreal protocol banned CFCs. The models had predicted a partial recovery by now. Later scientists adjusted their models and pronounced the recovery would take decades. It may be just another failed alarmist prediction.

Remember we first found the ozone hole when satellites that measure ozone were first available and processed (1985). It is very likely to have been there forever, varying year to year and decade to decade as solar cycles and volcanic events affected high latitude winter vortex strength.

The reality is, there needs to be limits on these things. The cure is, more and more often, worse than the original problem. But corporism knows know bounds whatsoever.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2015 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But again, we digress. I asked about the corporatist fear that "greed would dictate activity, first and foremost."

You have focused on some well known negative externalities that are popularly ascribed to greed, but could as well be explained by ignorance or a breakdown in the market mechanism. But the author I linked did not mention pollution or labor abuse by name - he mentioned greed, which I take synonymously with selfishness. A dictionary definition of greed includes "an excessive, extreme desire for something, often more than one's proper share." But who defines excessive? And who defines proper share?

As motive for corporatism, I identify Tall Poppy Syndrome, or a fear of competition.

Laboratory studies lead to the formation of the competitive exclusion principle (no two species can long occupy the same niche), while field observations suggest that niche differences, while sometimes subtle, are invariably found between co-existing species. Field experiments provide strong evidence of competition in nature. Often, one species is the superior competitor, the other is better able to withstand certain environmental extremes.

I postulate that in the human specie corporatists are the superior competitors, while individualists are better able to withstand certain environmental extremes.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2015 2:42 PM
But jk thinks:

To be clear, I agreed with nothing I said (oh boy, I hope this quote never shows up out of context...) I was answering as I expected Silence would have. But if I did fool you, that proved Haidt right.

Maybe Mister Dogood would have been better focused, but the "fetters" he wants bolted onto capitalism's flanges would be to protect workers, "fair play," and the environment. Each would be needed to counteract greed.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2015 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes, you did fool me, or I fooled myself - I completely forgot my own premise!

So Silence would, we surmise, fetter capitalism with measures "to protect workers, 'fair play' and the environment. Each would be needed to counteract greed."

And I would ask Silence, is it to counteract greed, or to counteract competition?

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2015 3:23 PM

September 28, 2015

Four Out of Five Popes Abjure Socialism

Mark Perry: What four previous popes had to say about socialism

Posted by John Kranz at 6:09 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Related: 'The Mystery of Pope Francis: Was There a Vatican Coup?'

My instinctive reaction is, "Duh." Prior to Benedict XVI, when was the last time a sitting pope "retired?" Isn't it generally a post for life sorta thing?

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2015 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

For a clean, close, comfortable shave, I recommend "Occam's Razors," now with Teflonguide™ technology. Ask for them by name wherever fine products are sold!

I don't know man, surely there's still much intrigue in the college of cardinals, but the current Pope Emeritus was a very sick man. I don't think his predecessors had access to medical treatments which enable an occupant to outlive his vigor.

Related: I'd think more highly of the PowerLine link if the back button didn't send you to a site demanding you go to an ATM right now and withdraw as much as they'll let you. Everybody needs ad revenue, but it does not underscore credulity.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2015 7:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I give more weight to the author than the site - our old friend Steven Hayward.

I didn't know the conservative pope was ill. Perhaps something he ate or drank...

Naah, that never happens!

Posted by: johngalt at September 29, 2015 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I actually like PowerLine -- I thought it rather funny that I got that as a follow up. (It's clearly too late now, that was last night; your money is gone.)

I think he has Parkinsons. Is the Illuminati that good? Chemtrails? Chapter five of The DaVinci Code?

I think Pope Francis to be a mortal man who really loves the adoration. Kind of a David Frum with his own Popemobile.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2015 2:50 PM

September 16, 2015

That Haidt Paper

I know I am tiresome in my appreciation for Jonathan Haidt. Sometimes the answer to a fundamental behavior or political question is "Have you read The Righteous Mind?"

His latest paper is causing a lot of buzz. And I thought I would write up a lengthy, well balanced and scholarly piece describing the paper, placing it into historical context, and connecting it to relevant passage in the great classic works of literature.

Hahahaha -- I do slay myself! Of course I'm not going to do that. I am instead, going to pimp a blog post from blog friend tgreer. His is a piece of art. Make yourself some coffee and clear some time for a serious read.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:36 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Fascinating. This requires much thought. Stay tuned.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2015 11:52 AM

September 11, 2015

Still missing the forest for the trees

On this 14th sad anniversary of 9/11, as the President of the United States prepares to deliver to the ideological creators of Islamism not bombs, but billions of American taxpayers' dollars, I was inspired by a Facebook meme to revisit Leonard Peikoff's 'End States Who Sponsor Terrorism' advertisement from October 2nd, 2001 edition of the New York Times.

I recalled we had discussed that essay on these pages, and that it was not well received. I see now that much if not all of the blame for that falls on my shoulders. I foolishly suggested that the war against Islamism could be won with superior firepower. It cannot, and Peikoff knows that. He said as much in his essay. It can only be won by the equivalent of the "de-Nazification" of Iran. To my credit, I did at least excerpt that portion of his essay in my 2005 post.

Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended."

The whole piece is worth re-reading, as I did, with nine more years of experience under our belts. Please do so and see if perhaps your judgment of Peikoff's conclusions was as mistaken as was my proposed way forward.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:57 PM | Comments (4)
But nanobrewer thinks:

Yes, I seem to recall commenting one time, if not two, that regime change was the only real solution. Sadly, the slow and rocky road to the Arab Spring sort of quashed any momentum we might have had (tho' it didn't stop Hillary from nudging Libya into anarchy).

As a point of order: were the Iranians positively tied to 9/11?

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 12, 2015 11:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Iran was not linked to 9/11, legally or militarily. Peikoff's point, however, is that they are linked to it ideologically:

If one were under a Nazi aerial bombardment, it would be senseless to restrict oneself to combatting Nazi satellites while ignoring Germany and the ideological plague it was working to spread. What Germany was to Nazism in the 1940s, Iran is to terrorism today. Whatever else it does, therefore, the U.S. can put an end to the Jihad-mongers only by taking out Iran.
Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2015 12:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Two great things about having a blog of such longevity:

-- The fame, income, and influence it affords;
-- I do enjoy reprocessing an old discussion.

I'm going to be a bit stubborn on this one and postpone my rapprochement with Mr. Peikoff for another year. I first am going to push back on his selection of Iran as a singular locus of evil. Evil, yes, but we could hand out a lot of plaques in their neighborhood.

He dates the start of Islamic extremism to the '79 revolution and places Iran at the root node. I do not share that. I remain heavily influenced by Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower." Wright lays a historical, ideological foundation on Sayyid Qtub (a man about whom, Jonah Goldberg says "desperately needs to 'buy a vowel'"). Wright documents Salafist, Sunni origins leading directly to Osama bin Laden.

My second new datum is discussion with blog friend tgreer. We don't always agree but he is steeped in diplomatic/strategic thinking on foreign policy, and is exceptionally learned in that area. Throughout the contretemps over the Iran Deal, he has railed against conservatives, right wingers, republicans and nascar retards in general over Iran hate.

Our friend looks at ISIS, and Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and wonders why Iran has been singled out. I pushed back on this and won't rehash all the arguments here. But he did plant a seed. If we had a long alliance with Iran and I suggested that we should switch sides and support Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, you'd rightly tell me I was out of my mind.

Ten years ago, I thought I had the answers and I tread a bit more cautiously. But sand into glass does not seem the moral or efficacious way out.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2015 2:16 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:
If we had a long alliance with Iran and I suggested that we should switch sides and support Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, you'd rightly tell me I was out of my mind.

I'm trying see to which mind you're in; the sentence doesn't make sense to me....

"Iran Hate" is based on their ideological bent, and their $400B economy, with solid reserves of oil and NG and a sophisticated arms industry. Still, I'll wait to hear more from someone well versed in the highly-touted Looming Tower. Yes, the Saudis do fund Salafists, but they don't allow them to get ICBMs, nor to topple other governments.

Syria? You've got to be kidding (I think LT is now out of date on them...); even before their recent donnybrooks they had the economy of New Hampshire, no navy and the Turks leaning over their shoulder... all they can create is refugees. I'm not even that worried about the Norks (49th GDP-wise, were they to be a state); and they HAVE nuke-tipped, ICBMs.... wobblier than their mentally-IL leader.

Sand into glass? No, no, when I say regime change I mean an orange, pink or puce revolution...

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 14, 2015 11:30 PM

September 2, 2015

"Progressives survey a flood and prescribe rain"

An unfortunate fact of life, drawn from a very important and well written article on the state of human sexuality in the western world. It is long, but well worth at least skimming.

We pick up after a prominent feminist denounced a nail polish that could detect date rape drugs in one's drink: "I don’t want to f---ing test my drink when I'm at the bar. That's not the world I want to live in."

Maybe not, but the world is what it is. It requires a fierce ideological rigidity and even imperviousness to reality to say "that's not the world I want to live in." None of us prefers to live in a world where we must lock our doors, either, or memorize a hundred passwords, or stay away from certain neighborhoods after dark, or pay more for clothing to compensate for the cost of shoplifting. But to proclaim that you will not take steps to protect yourself as a matter of principle is both juvenile and foolish.

There has never been a time when women were perfectly safe because society had "taught men not to rape." There has never been a time when men were perfectly safe because other men had been "taught not to fight." Both of those are clearly goals of all good societies, but as Emmanuel Kant observed in the eighteenth century, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."

All the more important in light of the criticism being heaped upon the bravely honest statements made this week by rock legend Chrissie Hynde.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:28 PM | Comments (5)
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've always liked Ms. Charen (I'd have reviewed _Useful Idiots_ had I been a blogger at the time).

She is 110% correct in noting that college campuses are now the front lines in the conflict caused by the sexual revolution.

This is one of the things that greatly concerns me, as a father of two young girls:

The agonies college campuses are now routinely experiencing are the result of a hyper-sexualized culture that has robbed the young of romance, courtesy, privacy, and, yes, love. The feminists call it “rape culture” and blame “traditional masculinity,” but they forget, if they ever knew, that “traditional” men were never encouraged to behave like this.

If my girls ever go to a large, trendy college (more IFFY everyday), they will have been taught to hold men to traditional values...

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 2, 2015 4:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, agreed. But let's not forget the benefits that accrue to men who reject the hook-up culture. Women aren't the only ones who benefit from romance, courtesy, privacy and love.

"And try not to get attached." That is the unwritten code of the hook-up. Divorcing sex from love is one thing, but the hook-up culture is way past that. It has attempted to divorce sex from feeling.
Posted by: johngalt at September 2, 2015 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said, jg. The emotional and economic benefits of *gasp* traditional virtue are under-appreciated.

My concern with Charen is her attachment to a far more traditional concept of relationships than I. The libertine|libertarian split amuses me on occasion. My hero, Penn Jillette, not only wants to talk you into permitting prostitution -- he wants you to recommend it as a career path. I think many distasteful things should be permitted but we needn't all adopt a carney lifestyle.

That said, I'm not onboard with her introctory assertion that "The proper response to the fraternity's vulgarity is not to condemn men, or 'rape culture,' but the sexual revolution itself." There's a lot of wiggle room interpreting that line, but I too have read her columns over the years -- and I am confident that she is turning the clock back a little farther than I would.

I reject hookup-culture as being a poor lifestyle choice. But I ascribe respect for gays, reproductive choice, acceptance of divorce or adult singleton-dom, and a broad reduction of shaming for non-Calvanist behavior all to "The Sexual Revolution." Defined thusly, Vivé!

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2015 6:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're probably right that she overreached in her assignment of blame. It wasn't the sexual revolution per se, but the sexual revolution combined with the postmodern philosophies that deny that an objective reality exists. That was the central element of the excerpt I chose: The belief that rape and violence in general can somehow be eradicated through more and better education and law and social welfare programs.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2015 7:20 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

She argues, to which I strongly concur, that postmodern philosophies and the sexual revolution and are rotten to the core b/c they are bereft of any moral foundation.

The foundation in question here is some form of commitment between two people, ultimately love, of oneself and each other. There were some benefits to the sexual revolution, but when it's combined with postmodernism, it heads down the wrong road: more and better education and law and social welfare programs only lead to more law and social welfare... not a healthy populace.

The Postmodernists need you to only love The State.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 4, 2015 10:37 AM

August 31, 2015

All Hail Insty

I have not read the linked piece yet, but the review is good.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, this New Republic piece on Randy Barnett and the libertarian constitutional movement is really pretty good. But I thought this part was revealing:
Barnett believes the Constitution exists to secure inalienable property and contract rights for individuals. This may sound like a bland and inconsequential opinion, but if widely adopted by our courts and political systems it would prohibit or call into question basic governmental protections--minimum wages, food-safety regulations, child-labor laws--that most of us take for granted. For nearly a century now, a legal counterculture has insisted that the whole New Deal project was a big, unconstitutional error, and Barnett is a big part of that movement today.

If your entire program is called into question by the notion that individuals have property and contract rights, maybe the problem is with your program.

And to the extent that, as believed by many, the Supreme Court's eventual accommodation to the New Deal was the product of duress in the form of FDR's court-packing scheme, then isn't that accommodation, in fact, illegitimate?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | Comments (10)
But jk thinks:

Don't get pithy with me, I'll block your IP address! No. Wait a minute, I think I can...

Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect us from ourselves?

Judge Robert Bork, Justice Antonin Scalia, and famously Chief Justice John Roberts think not. These conservatives decry "judicial activism" as "legislating from the bench" and robbing the electorate of its power to make law through the democratic process. I subscribed to that for many years.

Justice Thomas, Justice Stephen Field, and the Volokh/Cato cabal see the court's role quite clearly as protecting us from the tyranny of the majority. I now subscribe to that.

Lochner v New York is the Rorschach. Bork's book lumped it in with Dred Scot, Buck v Bell and Korematsu v US. Chief Roberts referenced it dozens of times in his dissent on Obergefell v Hodges.

David Bernstein and the libertarian school embrace as a defense of the right of contract. I recommend:

Damon Root Overruled [Review Corner]
Clark M. Neily III's Terms of Engagement [Review Corner]
David Bernstein Rehabilitating Lochner [Insty's Review Corner]

I believe you read the Lochner book, that was a turning point.

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2015 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Allow me to pick apart your opening premise: "Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect us from ourselves?"

First I'll quip, "No, that's Congress' job." But seriously, there are too many pronouns in that statement for it to have any real meaning.

Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect individuals from themselves? No.

Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect the electorate from the politicians they select by plurality? No.

Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect the Constitutional Republic from unconstitutional laws ratified by the other branches of government? You earned a gold star.

But when prior courts failed at this job, whether by political motive or by ill informed misinterpretation, it is proper for the sitting court to correct past mistakes.

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2015 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I was answering a pithiness challenge. Here are the antecedents you seek;

Is it the Supreme Court's job to protect [those under the protection of the Constitution] from [those employing the tools of the Constitution]?

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2015 3:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:


What do you think of the distinction I made between protecting citizens of the Republic and protecting the Republic, the very form and instance of the national government itself?

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2015 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I might push back that the Declaration defines the proper role of government as protecting individual rights, not the government's structure.

Battling anarchists of late, I have been spending much time on that. It's the mission statement for "Constitutional Minarchy™"* and the actual Constitution its reification.

So, individual rights require protection from any government authority. They've struck down plebiscitary referenda, legislation, lower court rulings, and executive overreach -- so I see them as a last line of defense for the proper role of government. Is that synonymous with our preferred type of government? Overlapping, but I'd say no.

*Accept no substitutes!

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2015 4:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well that's just it - defending individual rights is the first priority and, at the same time, almost impossible to define in a universal way.

The Founders' solved the problem by defining a government with strict limits and then leaving their posterity to operate the machinery they had built. But many of the foolish kids thought they were smart enough that the could redesign it and make it better. Balderdash.

So what I propose is a libertarian judicial activism that undoes the effects of the odious Amendments and a hundred-ten years of statist judicial activism, restoring the Republic as close as possible to the original, but with full and equal individual rights for all, individually.

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2015 7:02 PM

August 12, 2015

Christian Charity

At the most recent Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons a local Objectivist discussed the subjects of morality and politics, and how they relate to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Morality, he said, is a code by which a man guides his own actions. A non-contradictory morality also recognizes that every other man must be free to guide his own actions. Suffice to say, most folks do not adhere to a non-contradictory morality.

Q&A at the conclusion of the talk was wide ranging. At one point, yours truly made the assertion that altruism, or Christian charity to the poor, is a "back door" to the moral justification of collectivist redistribution. In our modern age we know Christian charity as an act of personal choice, subject to each person's free will. But, as I found evidence of today, this has not always been the teaching of the church.

[Saint] Ambrose [340-397 A.D.] considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but as a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped.

Marxist egalitarianism thus has honest origins, at least among those who honor Christian traditions.

(Or, since this quote is referenced from a 2012 text by a Princeton professor of history, it could be complete revisionist crap.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:14 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Speaking of . . . the speaker that night has carried on a most enlightened email thread with a libertarian, Christian lawyer.

I would forward (with, I believe the good graces of the participants) to any who send me an email jk [at] threesources [dot] com or any other address you have for me. (You may unsubscribe at any time and I will not sell your address for any less than $3.00)

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2015 12:34 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Being a member of a church that practices every ancient, AD tradition dreamed of, I'm not terribly surprised to see 'forced giving' being proposed by a Saint.

Still, a far cry from any association with current practices (Pope FunkedUp excepted, of course).

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 14, 2015 12:12 AM

August 10, 2015

Freedom. Safety. Prosperity.

That is how most Americans prefer to live, and it's why 70 to 80 percent of people in metropolitan America live in suburbs and beyond.

University of Washington demographer Richard Morrill notes that the vast majority of residents of regions over 500,000 -- roughly 153 million people -- live in the lower-density suburban places, while only 60 million live in core cities.

These people make up a sizable portion of what became known as the "middle class." But that middle class has, for many reasons, been shrinking over the past several decades. One big reason is, as GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina often repeats, Democrat policies.

I spent twelve years in the state of California, a state that's been ruled by liberals for a long time. And guess what you have: about a hundred and thirty billionaires--good for them--the highest poverty rates in the nation, the exodus of the middle class, the destruction of industry after industry after industry.

This sad story is explained in stepwise fashion by Joel Kotkin of Real Clear Politics in 'The Peril to Democrats of Left-Leaning Urban Centers' from which I will heavily excerpt:

These social and economic changes inform the new politics of the Democratic Party. On social policy, the strong pro-gay marriage and abortion positions of the Democrats makes sense as cities have the largest percentages of both homosexuals and single, childless women. When the party had to worry about rural voters in South Dakota or West Virginia, this shift would have been more nuanced, and less rapid.

Yet with those battles [gay marriage and abortion] essentially won, the new urban politics are entering into greater conflict with the suburban mainstream, which tends to be socially moderate, and even more so with the resource-dependent economies of rural America. The environmental radicalism that has its roots in places like San Francisco and Seattle now directly seeks to destroy whole parts of middle America’s energy economy.

Such policies tend to radically raise energy costs. In California, the green energy regime has already driven roughly 1 million people, many of them Latinos in the state’s agricultural interior, into "energy poverty" -- a status in which electricity costs one-tenth of their income. Not surprisingly, those leaving California, notes Trulia, increasingly are working class; their annual incomes in the range of $20,000 to $80,000 are simply not enough to make ends meet.

Geography seems increasingly to determine politics. Ideas on climate policy that seem wonderfully enlightened in Manhattan or San Francisco -- places far removed from the dirty realities of production -- can provide a crushing blow to someone working in the Gulf Coast petro-chemical sector or in the Michigan communities dependent on auto manufacturing.

It's more than suburban or rural jobs that are on the urban designer chopping block. Density obsessed planners have adopted rules, already well advanced in my adopted home state of California, to essentially curb much detested suburban sprawl and lure people back to the dense inner cities. The Obama administration is sympathetic to this agenda, and has adopted its own strategies to promote "back to the city" policies in the rest of the country as well.

But as these cities go green for the rich and impressionable, they must find ways to subsidize the growing low-paid service class -- gardeners, nannies, dog walkers, restaurant servers -- that they depend on daily. This makes many wealthy cities, such as Seattle or San Francisco, hotbeds for such policies as a $15-an-hour minimum wage, as well as increased subsidies for housing and health care. In San Francisco, sadly, where the median price house (usually a smallish apartment) approaches $1 million, a higher minimum wage won't purchase a decent standard of living. In far more diverse and poorer Los Angeles, nearly half of all workers would be covered -- with unforeseen impacts on many industries, including the large garment industry.

These radicalizing trends are likely to be seen as a threat to Democratic prospects next year, but instead will meet with broad acclaim among city-dominated progressive media. Then again, the columnists, reporters and academics who embrace the new urban politics have little sympathy or interest in preserving middle-class suburbs, much less vital small towns. If the Republicans possess the intelligence -- always an open question -- to realize that their opponents are actively trying to undermine how most Americans prefer to live, they might find an opportunity far greater than many suspect.

For her part, Ms. Fiorina does seem to possess that intelligence.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2015

Breaking the Rules

This may be President Obama's most positive legacy - his example that the President of the United States doesn't really have to follow any rules. It seems to have made an impression on Americans, at least those who respond to opinion polls. On the way to the ballyhooed reprise of Bush v. Clinton, both are losing ground in their respective primary races. Hillary is virtually tied with self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders and Bush trails a non-politician who is as immune to damage from his numerous gaffes as President Obama is from his numerous scandals. Meanwhile, Bush's own gaffes become weighty albatrosses upon his candidacy.

Blog brother jk lovingly[?] dubbed me "Trump fanboy." I admit to reveling in his TEA-Party friendly, "make America great again" stance. Mostly, I like that he is a businessman and not a politician. Ayn Rand wrote that businessmen are America's greatest resource, and that men like Hank Rearden have nothing to apologize for, and government has no legitimate power over them. Trump isn't the only non-politician in the 17-person GOP field. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina have a similar professional pedigree. But Trump is unique in that he can fund his own campaign. He answers to no one. He has been a winner in business, and could be a winner in politics. General George Patton purportedly said, "America loves a winner. Americans won't tolerate a loser." But under the present administration, America has been losing at every turn.

Even the professional punditry is beginning to take notice. Jeff Greenfield writes, "What if Trump wins?"

The more telling question is: When do voters actually cast their ballots in ways that upend core premises?

One answer, based not on guesses about what might happen, but on what has happened in America's political past is that when disaffected voters discover a power that they did not realize they had, highly unanticipated consequences may follow.

So like Jesse Ventura before him, Trump may resonate and win.

And, in a comment that resonates powerfully with today's Trump phenomenon, consider what 28-year-old aircraft mechanic Greg Uken told the New York Times about why he was voting for Ventura: "I don't put up with a lot of stuff, and neither does he."

So full-speed ahead, Donald. I can only hope that you are, and will be, more Austen Heller and less Gail Wynand.

UPDATE: Here is the Patton quote:

Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

UPDATE: While I'm busy torturing my dear blog brother, I may as well pile on with this quote from a long-time favorite of his, Rudy Giuliani:

"So we might have a little of a Ronald Reagan here, a guy they underestimate," Giuliani observed.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Best line of the night... Rand Paul to Chris Christie on NSA surveillance of Americans: "I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again go right ahead."

I only heard a couple of shots against Herr Trumpmeister tonight. Rand Paul accused him of wanting to buy and sell politicians when he wouldn't pledge to support the Republican nominee, whomever it may be. But the real hit job came from Governor Huckabee:

It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who's very high in the polls, but doesn't have a clue about how to govern. A person who has been filled with scandals and who could not lead. And of course I'm talking about Hillary Clinton.
Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2015 1:40 AM

August 3, 2015

Schadenfreude is a dish best served cold.

To be fair, Ivy Starnes Dan Price is only destroying his own company. He hasn't coerced anybody else into his foolish scheme or enacted legislation.

All the same, it is enjoyable in a gruesome-accident-on-the-side-of-the-road way. Poor Maisey McMaster quickly saw that things were not going to work well for her and her fellow hard-workers.

"He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn't get much of a bump," she said. To her, a fairer proposal would have been to give smaller increases with the opportunity to earn a future raise with more experience.

A couple of days after the announcement, she decided to talk to Mr. Price.

"He treated me as if I was being selfish and only thinking about myself," she said. "That really hurt me. I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position."

Nossir! I'm a collectivist, I promise! I'm just a part of a hard-working, well-qualified, highly-value-additive community.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

When will they realize that being selfish is a virtue? If Price had been more selfish about the disbursement of his company's revenue, his company would still have some to keep paying employees what they're worth. What good is a job that pays 70K, "no matter what" if the company offering them goes under?

Selfish owners offer sustainable jobs.

Posted by: johngalt at August 3, 2015 3:09 PM

July 23, 2015

Liberty! (Bumped)

Penn Jillette's Keynote Speech to the Independence Institute

Forty-five minutes. Make some time and watch the whole thing.

UPDATE: I can't coerce you, but I'd use any combination of bribery, charm, persuasion, reason, peer-pressure, guilt and duty that would get you to watch. I have now seen it three times.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:42 AM | Comments (4)
But Terri thinks:

Watched it yesterday and just clicked in to watch it again.
Sir, yes sir! It IS good.

Posted by: Terri at July 23, 2015 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"There is nothing more beautiful about America than the fact that we don't agree."


Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2015 2:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

'Tis true. I shall not deny it. I listen to Garth Brooks.

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2015 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

And I like a few Dead tunes. I still laughed.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2015 5:34 PM

July 22, 2015

They Fixed it!

Prepare to weep, ThreeSourcers! They've rewritten The Little Red Hen

In Chicago, there's a children's literacy museum on wheels called StoryBus. It's a 37-foot Winnebago that promotes reading to kindergarten and pre-K students. (It's a great idea, by the way, and gets considerable private funding). Visit the StoryBus website and you can find a new version of the LRH story. Everything is pretty much the same as the original until the hen insists on eating the bread herself.

At that point, the other animals are shocked. "Oh me! Oh my! Oh me, oh my!" they shout. The next and final paragraph reads as follows:

"The next time the Little Red Hen found some grains of wheat, the lamb (maybe somebody ate the goose and the duck) planted it in the rich, brown soil, the cat watered it carefully every day, and the pig harvested the wheat when it had grown tall and strong. When the dough was baked, together the animals made hot chocolate and ate the fresh, warm bread. It was delicious! The animals lived happily ever after."

Maybe they will "fix" Atlas Shrugged next -- James and Dagny and Wesley Mouch all get together and build a great new shiny railroad and drink hot chocolate.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM | Comments (8)
But AndyN thinks:

It occurs to me that this is a Rorschach test. The first time I read it my morning coffee hadn't had time to awaken my inner cynic. I was going under the assumption that, as in the original story, the Little Red Hen had asked her neighbors if they'd be willing to help her. Upon further consideration, I can see how a Marxist reading the same new ending would assume that the workers had simply seized the capital and taken what they considered to be their fair share of the proceeds. Of course, a Marxist wouldn't acknowledge that in that scenario, the lamb, pig and cat would have used the bread to make roast chicken sandwiches.

Posted by: AndyN at July 23, 2015 10:17 AM
But jk thinks:

You had me rethinking it. The "improved" ending has much to commend it.

But the whole point of LRH was consequences. She did all the work, she enjoyed the rewards. That value, sadly, lives now only in LRH -- we "fixed" it everywhere else. Sad to see consequences extirpated even from stories.

On your sandwiches, I saw a funny FB meme today.

"What did socialists use before they had candles?"


Posted by: jk at July 23, 2015 11:36 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

... lest it disrupt the plans of the World Council and the Department of Candles...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 23, 2015 1:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

AndyN, did you really conclude that the fairness of the Little Red Hen story revolves around her being a better sharer? I thought it was about thems that helps make, gets to help eats. Now that is fair.

But I still had the same reaction as your initial one - they're simply spelling out the way it should be done, for kids whose parents were raised by Baby Boomer parents themselves and were never taught the values of work and property. The sad part is not the new ending, but that the new ending has to be explained to the parents.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2015 2:22 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Actually, JG, I had considered putting "fairness" in ironic quotes but hoped it would be obvious that I was talking about those other guys.

Posted by: AndyN at July 23, 2015 3:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Got it.

By the way, "Atlast Shrugged?" Awesome.

Socialist electricity joke? Double awesome.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2015 3:41 PM

July 14, 2015

I Didn't Mean THAT Woman...

Insty links to a great Milo Yiannopoulos post: In Defense of Ayn Rand, Monster Under the Progressive Bed. Yiannopoulos doesn't bury the lead:

Liberals are constantly begging for more female authors and female lead characters in literature, but one woman author and philosopher remains stubbornly absent from progressive reading lists. Her name is Ayn Rand, and she is responsible for a theory called objectivism, which holds that reality exists independently of consciousness and that rational self-interest is the proper moral purpose of life.

My ü'berprogressive niece came out of high school loving Rand. A BA at U Cal Berkeley and Masters at Columbia "fixed" that tout suite. And when I bring it up, she laughs it off like I would my high school leisure suits.

But she did admit that she was drawn to the string female characters. Too bad their slavish devotion to collectivism at all costs supersedes their dedication to equality.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Awesome read.

Posted by: johngalt at July 14, 2015 3:38 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Funny, my BA from UC Berkeley successfully cemented my respect for Rand - probably as a result of seeing everything she opposed getting all up in my face there.

Or perhaps it was the other way around; maybe Rand inoculated me against the contagion of the Berkeley mindset.

To quote from a recent movie's ending: "A bit of both!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2015 5:19 PM

June 24, 2015

All Hail Santayana

I first learned of George Santayana, American philosopher (1863-1952) through a quote of his that was printed in the campus newspaper 'Colorado Daily' during my college days.

"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness."

This predated any of my Ayn Rand readings, and was the first glimpse I remember of the idea that I controlled my own happiness and thus, my own destiny.

He wrote another well known saying, the full context of which is actually a criticism of modern Progressivism, i.e. change = good, with no qualifiers.

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2015

In opposition to "Post-Normal Science"

It seems that a long time has passed since we added a page to the Blog Roll. I humbly submit that it's time to change that. Principia Scientific dot org.

PSI serves no political purpose, supports no political party (or parties) and does not engage in political activities. Our advocacy is for the advancement of the traditional scientific method (as per the ideas of Karl Popper) and resolute opposition to 'post-normalism' in science.

I am saddened, and slightly embarrassed, that it's taken my five years to discover it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:56 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at June 18, 2015 4:28 PM


Well, I checked "rant" just in case I lapse into capitol letters.

"Laudato Si" is out and from Bill McGurn, I am guessing it is as bad as any ThreeSourcer feared. The WSJ Ed Page has a higher percentage of Catholics than most Catholic churches, and they strain to match church teachings with their free-market leanings. McGurn cannot find the sunny side of this.

Blog friend sc shared an interesting piece this morning. Crux Magazine provides a good overview of what encyclicals are, their target audiences, and a brief history. It would be a good overview for the non-Catholics among us or those who went to Catholic schools but didn't always pay attention.

The end of the article contains -- benignly to the authors -- my worst fear: that this will be important and persuasive.

Other religious leaders also have been emboldened by Laudato Si.

Two days before the encyclical was to appear, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, issued a "green declaration" signed by British faith leaders who assert that climate change has hurt the poor of the world.

On June 15, the Buddhist leader Dalai Lama told his more than 11 million Twitter followers that "since climate change and the global economy now affect us all, we have to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity."

A day later, the Lausanne Movement, representing Evangelical Christians in almost 200 countries said Evangelicals were anticipating Laudato Si and grateful for it.

A Catholic, an Orthodox, an atheist scientist, and an economist will present Francis' [sic] letter this Thursday in Rome. Francis explained this move on Sunday, saying that "we need unity to protect creation."

Trolling level: expert.

UPDATE: The more I read, the worse it gets.

Pope Francis opens the encyclical, which includes extensive sections on the theology of creation, with a lament for man's sins against "Mother Earth": "We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Tantum nos ...

Perhaps dagny's friend was right, so many years ago, that religion is a greater threat to liberty than world socialism. But the one thing none of us ever dared contemplate was that they would join forces to subjugate "every person living on Earth."

Posted by: johngalt at June 18, 2015 1:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Omnibus. (Is that "totally?")

Posted by: jk at June 18, 2015 4:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In the 'Pope Bjorn' post you mentioned that the early leaks may have presented an inaccurate summation of the encyclical's overall message.

A Catholic editorialist, having now read it, reports that Pope Francis is unduly pessimistic about the world. Furthermore, he doesn't understand what helps the poor and what hurts them. Francis' principal failure? Recognition of the power of property rights.

Given that poorly defined and enforced property rights lie at the heart of so many environmental problems, especially in poor countries, this whole area is a big omission from this encyclical. This is not a trivial issue or sniping from the sidelines. It is far more fundamental than many of the political-economic issues discussed by Pope Francis which really were a diversion from the excellent moral-theological analysis.
Posted by: johngalt at June 19, 2015 12:57 PM

June 12, 2015

Pope Francis is the Antichrist!

Please don't be offended -- I don't believe in the Antichrist per se. But you have to admit -- It would be a much better launching pad than the leader of Russia or some such. To catch the antichrist, you have to think like the antichrist.

Peggy Noonan is my tether to the Church in which I was raised. I found it rather easy to ignore Bill Buckley; Eliot and Chesterton were historical figures; but our Margret spoke to things deep inside. Her description of the miracle at Guadalupe brings tears as I think of it years later. Her intellectual tie of church teachings to the anti-Communism of John Paul II provided a context for liberty in faith. Even when she was bamboozeled by a first-term Senator from Illinois, I listened.

I share because it is clear from her column today that she shares some of my skepticism about the current occupant.

What you find among the churchmen of Rome is what a mystery Francis still is after two years of his papacy. To put it less dramatically, they're still getting to know him and pondering different aspects of his nature, some of which seem contradictory. They love his charisma and respect and appreciate his popularity. He has a gift for intimacy but few intimate friends. He is "a complicated figure," according to a priest who knows him.

Though ideological categories don’t fully apply, Francis's political vision is usually described as more or less of the left, assuming a faith in the power of the state to help and protect the people. On piety and the great moral issues the modern church faces each day, he is a traditionalist, though a largely unheard one because the media do not find that part of the picture interesting.

I said "some." You can call someone complicated without suggesting that he or she is the antichrist. But I am not overreaching to suggest that Pope Francis has not found the place in her heart that JPII did. Too soon to call it, but the smart money is on there not being a Francis book.
When he speaks on theological things-- the meaning of the gospel, the mission of the church--he is universally known to be drawing from a deep theological well of study, contemplation and experience. When he talks about politics it’s more like he is probing a tooth that hurts. When he pops off, and he likes to pop off, he causes the church he loves discomfort.

I can be meaner. His bad economics will harm tens of millions. His telegraphed embracement of Climate Change orthodoxy will keep millions poor longer than is necessary. Yes, it is nice to have a guy who doesn't want to burn gays on the pyre and rip out the tongues of the divorced with pliers. But I have come to find it disturbing. "I am, the cool Pope," he says. And this makes his other ideas more dangerous. As far as climate, I'll let Ms. Noonan finish.
The Vatican feels the science of climate change is settled. It wants to be in the conversation, it wants to speak on an issue that has great meaning for the young, and as a cardinal said, "The church got it wrong with Galileo and it doesn’t want to get it wrong again." Also the European elite is all in on climate change and the Vatican is in Europe. The Church fears being tagged as antiscience and antifact.

But is the science of climate change settled? And can a church that made a mistake with Galileo 400 years ago make another mistake by trying desperately not to repeat the earlier one?

Umm, Galileo rejected the consensus.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Your Holiness, the science is NOT settled."

- Galileo, 1633

(A rather loose translation of "Eppur si muove.")

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 12, 2015 6:17 PM
But Mrs. Kaa thinks:

Your holiness may be closer to the False Prophet than he is the Antichrist.

Posted by: Mrs. Kaa at June 15, 2015 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope. With all due respect, I'm going with "antichrist."

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2015 5:03 PM

June 3, 2015

What Review Corner Should be

The WSJ actually had a pretty positive review of this book today: Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties. But P.J. O'Rourke is not so keen in the WaPo.

Schultz’s subtitle says it all -- wrong. "The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties." The adjective, the verb and the nouns are incorrect.

Schultz is a historian of the '60s. I was there. William F. Buckley did not shape the '60s and would have been appalled to be accused of it. Buckley, who led conservatism’s long march from cocktail-hour mixed nuts to political main course, shaped the '80s and, to an extent, the ever-since.

Norman Mailer did not shape the '60s. Prosperity, pot, the pill and the draft did. Mailer was an artist; he shaped all of creation. But he had little direct influence on we who fancied ourselves members of the Armies of the Night. And Mailer considered us to be lost in the dark, anyway. Buckley and Mailer together can hardly be said to have done what Buckley and Mailer separately did not do.

Other than that, Peej?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM | Comments (0)

June 1, 2015

Big Anniversary for Liberty

I'll suggest you read Danial Hannan's superb column on the upcoming 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta from this weekend's WSJ. I have been pounding on the importance of the Magna Carta lately in discussing Adam Smith's inspired thoughts on the American Colonies and his system of "natural liberty."

Clearly we owe a lot.

Eight hundred years ago next month, on a reedy stretch of riverbank in southern England, the most important bargain in the history of the human race was struck. I realize that's a big claim, but in this case, only superlatives will do. As Lord Denning, the most celebrated modern British jurist put it, Magna Carta was "the greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot."

And yet, I am hoping you'll indulge me in reading one more piece. David Boaz of Cato corrects (I might say augments, but that's not Boaz's tone) Hannan, suggesting he missed the American improvement in extending liberty beyond British citizenry to a system of universal rights.
It's true that the colonists came here with the spirit of English liberty running in their veins. They brought with them the books of Locke and Sydney, the examples of Lilburne and Hampden, the writings of Edward Coke. In the 18th century they read Cato's Letters and William Blackstone. They petitioned Parliament and the king for their rights as Englishmen.

But the Declaration of Independence marks a break in that thinking. When Thomas Jefferson sat down to write "an expression of the American mind," he did not appeal to the rights of Englishmen. Instead, the Americans declared:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

They appealed not to the British Parliament nor to King George III, but rather to "the opinions of mankind...a candid world...the Supreme Judge of the world."

I am reminded of Helen Raleigh's [Review Corner] saying "Confucius said many wonderful things, but he did not say 'all men are created equal.'"

UPDATE: No WSJ access? Somebody sent me a PDF of the Hannan piece.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2015

One Article to Bind Them All

Kevin Williamson of NR takes byte to pixel to answer Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I* - VT) foolish rant. I had some fun on Facebook with his pronouncement:

You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

Williamson takes this on in good form.
This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets -- which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings -- then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Along the way, he puts the boot in to minimum wage, explains the subjective value of prices, and even documents Cthulhu's monetary policy. All in all a good, single source exegesis of my foundational beliefs.

*(as in "I can't even make up a good joke about Bernie Sanders")

Posted by John Kranz at 6:14 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Firstly, it's not growth for the sake of growth but growth for the sake of prosperity.

Secondly, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Indistinguishable from Marx - VT)

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2015 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at May 28, 2015 3:58 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

This is probably the only thing I was able to remember from _Road to Serfdom_ was Hayek's simple and elegant rejection of this canard (which KW summarizes quite well):

First; information submitted to "the planners" isn't perfect.
Second; even if it could be made perfect, it would be imperfect by the time the plan was close to implementation.

IMO, markets are only irrational when taken in microscopic bytes; no one could forsee all the elements that came together to make the first iPhone. If one could, I'd imagine he/she'd go insane before being able to cogently present what had been glimpsed.

Oh, and if I ever had time for FB, I'd go to BS's page and post this:

"here's a solution for all this drivel:

with my apologies to all the lost sales of Prozac..."

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 29, 2015 1:06 AM

May 25, 2015

From Cicero to Ayn Rand

I'm not certain Jim Powell answers the question "Why Has Liberty Flourished in the West?" But he provides an interesting enumeration of important thinkers. And in these times, a rather courageous assertion of dangerous hemispherism:

Despite the claims of those who say one culture is as good as another, the West is clearly superior in at least one crucial respect: it brought liberty into the modern world, and liberty has made possible many other good things.

In this politically correct era, some intellectuals have been surprised to discover that the West is unique in this. For example, Harvard historical sociologist Orlando Patterson had started out to write a book explaining the origins of slavery, but he quickly realized that slavery was universal throughout the ancient world. The question to ask was why liberty emerged in the West and nowhere else, which became the subject of his National Book Award-winning Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991).

I have a running argument with ThreeSources friend tg that it goes back to "Eastern Thought," an indefinite bin into which I lump Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. My young friend the Asian scholar doesn't buy it, but I suggest there were plenty of Eastern Platos but that they lacked an Aristotle.

Powell is not venturing there either, but he does make an interesting point I had not considered:

Geography probably played a role in the development of liberty. Greece has many harbors that could shelter ships and many islands whose people were most likely to advance themselves through overseas commerce. Europe's irregular coastline, with thousands of harbors, some opening to major rivers, likewise encouraged commerce. Since commerce means contact with all kinds of people, ideas, and goods, merchants must be tolerant and rational if they are to be successful. "Coastal peoples," Thomas Sowell observed in Migrations and Cultures (1996), "have tended to be culturally distinctive. In touch with the outside world, they have usually been more knowledgeable and more technologically and socially advanced than interior peoples."

Geography not being my best subject, there does not seem to be a shortage of coastline from Korea to India, although the Eurasian steppe civilizations are certainly affected.

Even without all the answers, it's a great longer-than-a-blog-post article about the dominance of the West in the advancement of liberty, and a great look at some of its most important thinkers.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

A great nugget is found in the close, posted here for the benefit of all who don't click through at least for a skimming, as I did:

History shows that when liberty isn’t adequately defended, it tends to slip away as intellectuals promote statist ideas, special interests lobby for favors, and politicians gain more power. All of us can play an important role by keeping ourselves informed, educating our children, speaking up at school meetings, telling our friends, using our professional influence, contributing time and money to help keep this uniquely glorious civilization alive.


Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2015 11:11 AM
But Steve D thinks:

'quickly realized that slavery was universal throughout the ancient world'

Stop right there! How can someone possibly get anywhere close to being an historical sociologist (whatever that means) without knowing this. I'm pretty sure I knew slavery was universal throughout the ancient world by high school.

Posted by: Steve D at May 28, 2015 2:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Not familiar with your date of birth, SteveD, but I think you're overestimating the clarity of education provided kids today.

No doubt they're knowledgeable on all things recycling, the primacy of the Iroquois Constitution in our nation's founding, and the metaphysical certitude of climate change [WSJ].

Not sure you can expect much else. Gotta go now -- there are a bunch on my lawn...

Posted by: jk at May 28, 2015 4:03 PM

May 19, 2015


I stared at this headline, linked on Instapundit: "Backlash Against Facebook's Free Internet Service Grows."

Backlash? Free? Internet? Huh? What?

You bright kids in front have perhaps figured it out -- I had to click.

On Monday, 65 advocacy organizations in 31 countries released an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg protesting Internet.org--an effort to bring free internet service to the developing world--saying the project "violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation."

Reminding me of a Lowell George song:
Some people tell me that Rock'n'Roll
Is bad for the body, bad for the soul,
Bad for the heart, bad for the mind.
Bad for the deaf and bad for the blind....

It seems Mister Z. will not be allowed to give things away unless he gives away full-featured things.
With Internet.org, Facebook is partnering with various wireless carriers and other organizations to provide an app that offers free access to certain internet services, including Facebook, on mobile phones in developing countries. But this spring, a group of publishers in India pulled out of the program, saying it violated the principles of net neutrality--the notion that internet providers should treat all online services equally.
Access Now is calling on Facebook to offer complete internet with very low data caps. But unlike the current model, this may not provide direct benefit to Facebook, because it would not funnel people directly to Facebook over other services. The question becomes: would Facebook still be willing to fund such an operation?

And ice cream! With sprinkles goddammit!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:17 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:


Take that, social equality do-gooders! Your free crap isn't good enough - make it better! Too late to back out now, suckers.

Or as my electrician recently quipped, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2015 5:36 PM

May 11, 2015


I've harped on illiberalism for some time now, and the irony that liberals still call themselves that at the same time as they endorse mandatory lifestyle choices from energy to toilets to running one's own business establishment. A respected liberal has now come out of the closet on the issue and criticized her own with How Liberals Ruined College:

Speech codes create a chilling environment where all it takes is one accusation, true or not, to ruin someone's academic career. The intent or reputation or integrity of the accused is of little import. If someone "perceives" you have said or acted in a racist way, then the bar for guilt has been met. If a person claims you caused them "harm" by saying something that offended them, case closed.

It is the Salem Witch Trials, 320-odd years later.

But who decides what's "offensive"? The illiberal left, of course.


Not just "degraded" or "tarnished" but "ruined."

This Orwellian climate of intimidation and fear chills free speech and thought. On college campuses it is particularly insidious. Higher education should provide an environment to test new ideas, debate theories, encounter challenging information, and figure out what one believes. Campuses should be places where students are able to make mistakes without fear of retribution. If there is no margin for error, it is impossible to receive a meaningful education.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2015

"I'm concerned about the America you would have us live in."

This requires no explanation or embellishment. Megyn is correct, without exception.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:55 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Snyder v. Phelps! Well played, Ms. Kelly!

First Amendment absolutism makes me proudest of my country. Snyder. Skokie. Larry Flynt. Bong Hits for Jesus. Flag burning. SCOTUS has been reliable (give them a Mulligan on McConnell v. FEC) in protecting speech from the "common sense" restrictions offered by Mister O'Reilly and Mister "we'll fight Jihad with Love."

I know I'm a broken record but I still don't hear the anarchist answer for this. The bill of rights (our last rights defended after Carolene) are really remarkable in their escape of democratic "common sense." You're simply not likely to get anything like that from private agency.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 4:45 PM
But jk thinks:

And, All Hail Taranto:

Today, however, that post-9/11 cliché has real meaning. Some intellectuals are arguing for curtailments of civil liberties that would both fulfill terrorist objectives and damage one of our most cherished values, namely the freedom of speech.

Exhibit A is this Washington Post headline: "Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack in Texas." The event is the "Texas cartoon contest attacked by two gunmen late Sunday," featuring images of Muhammad, the Muslim prophet; and the organizer is Pamela Geller, a truculent critic of Islam.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2015 5:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I just heard Geller interviewed on the radio. She corrected this media characterization, stating she is a truculent critic of "jihad and murder in the name of Islam" not of Islam.

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 5:48 PM
But Terri thinks:
But johngalt thinks:

Me too, Terri, and thanks for linking it here. It goes right to the heart of the questions, "Why do you provoke them" and "Why do you insult an entire religion?"

If a subset of members of a group that adheres to a specific religion claims a moral right to murder people for violating any one of several tenets of that religion, it is incumbent on everyone else to speak and act in contravention to that claim. Some are brave enough to do that and some are not. (And some oppose doing so for other self-serving reasons.)

Furthermore, the amount of bravery required varies with the particular religion in question. If the folks of a specific religion are intent only on using law to impose their beliefs, rather than the most barbaric forms of highly publicized murder, it is much safer to mock elements of that faith. c.f. "Piss Christ" and the like.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2015 11:49 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've long been madly in love with Ms. Kelly, now I must accept that I'm simply not worthy.... ahkthpth, who wanted to move to NYC anyway?

Posted by: nanobrewer at May 8, 2015 10:51 AM

May 5, 2015

No, Not From 'The Onion'

Do not read the article linked below. It comes as close as I will ever find to something that is guaranteed to make your head explode. I read it, but I have trained myself how to remain completely objective. I am able to control the violent outbursts that such articles typically provoke from free men. I will select a few items to excerpt but DON'T CLICK THROUGH. You have been warned.

Although it’s controversial, it seems that Swift and Brighouse are philosophically inching their way to a novel accommodation for a weathered institution ever more in need of a rationale for existing. The bathwater might be going out, but they’re keen to hold on to the baby.

The "weathered institution" with, apparently, no further purpose in human life? The family.

'Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what's so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they're heterosexual etcetera.'

They don't want to eliminate families, you see, they merely want to plan them for us. It's for the social good. When left to their own devices, too many parents have this distasteful and anti-social tendency to aid their children. And since parents are unequal, children will develop unequally.

'What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn't need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people's children'.

"We" certainly can't continue to "allow" that! At least not according to the British philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse who are quoted here. No word yet whether the rest of the animal kingdom will follow suit and intentionally retard its own evolutionary progress.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (2)
But AndyN thinks:

I'm taking your advice and not reading the rest of the article. Without reading it, I can only assume that they're recommending bans on birth control and abortion, since parents who have fewer children will be able to devote more resources to each of them.

Posted by: AndyN at May 5, 2015 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Air tight logic AndyN, but ignoring reason is one of the things that makes them ant farmers [My brand new name for egalitarian socialists. Has a nice ring, I think.]

To them, the only thing better than all children being equal (even if it is equally bad) would be if there were no children at all. "Stop breeding!"

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2015 12:24 PM

May 4, 2015

Bill Whittle on Progressivism

Bill Whittle can be too heavy-handed. But I enjoyed a bit of digital mass today:

Too partisan? Sue me.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2015

W.E.B. versus Booker T.

All the world is but a stage. And we are watching theatre of the highest caliber play out. "The play? A tragedy called 'man' and it's hero: the conquerer worm." The actors should know how it ends and never forget that this is a union house and they are not to touch anything with out a member of the local stage hands guild. Just do as you are told and everything will be fine. It is sundown in America tonight. Are we brave enough, smart enough, humble enough and committed enough to renew her promise so the next generation can greet the morning in America once again?

Thus ends today's pointed, potent, and defeatist commentary on the Baltimore "race riots" by Glenn Beck who asks, "When will we stand up against the madness?" At least one Baltimore mother did exactly that on Monday. But before ending the madness like what is now transpiring in Baltimore, and previously occurred in Ferguson and other cities this year and last, more of us need to clearly understand its cause. To paraphrase one tweet of the current news cycle:

"White America needs to understand - until we get justice, we be thuggin."

Months ago we were told by a hip hop activist what "justice" is, when she said that capitalism "is the oppressive force."

"And the police are actually in my opinion - and we have a lot of theory that proves this - are that force that are keeping us as particularly working class people from achieving this idea of, you know, economic justice."

Today I found the best possible rebuttal to this idea, and it is over 100 years old - in the words of African-American spokesman and leader Booker T. Washington (not to be confused with Booker T. Jones and the MG's, as Rush Limbaugh inexplicably did today.) In 1895, Washington addressed the "Cotton States and International Exposition" in Atlanta. Please read every inspiring word but I will highlight the preamble to his conclusion:

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house.

Before King. Before Rand. Before jk and this blog, Washington's conclusion shows that he was the first Prosperitarian. But instead of building on Booker T's message, the NAACP has taken the alternate path advocated by its founder W.E.B. Du Bois that was less "accomodating to white interests."

W. E. B. Du Bois advocated activism to achieve civil rights. He labeled Washington "the Great Accommodator". Washington's response was that confrontation could lead to disaster for the outnumbered blacks. He believed that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way to overcome racism in the long run.

More than 100 years later, how is Du Bois' plan working out? Not so well for overcoming racism. Just fine though for career activists.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:46 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The comparison rang a bell and (Thanks, Bing!) I found it in Review Corner. (Insert Taranto gag "it's always the last place you look...")

Jason Riley highlighted the tension between Du Bois and Washington:

An interesting and original subordinate point is the tension between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Du Bois sought political power to right the wrongs of oppression and Washington sought economic power. Modern leaders chose political power, which is surely defensible after slavery and Jim Crow, but Riley suggests that they should not have abandoned Washington. He highlights minority groups in America that have little or no political power yet do extraordinarily well. Asians, Italians, Scandinavians acquired economic power first, then they entered the political realm. African Americans and Irish turned first to politics and were both poorly served.

This remains true, but I suggest that Riley and my blog brother have a long road ahead to repair racism (though someday, maybe if there were a black President...)

Like Ferguson, without providing a smidgen of quarter to looters and thugs who disrespect their overwhelmingly-minority neighbors' property rights, I call for a reduction in illegality.

I do not have a clue what happened to Freddie Gray, but the dribbling in of his rap sheet is rife with minor drug possession, and he was picked up for having a knife?

The thuggish protesters require the ecosystem of the peaceful protesters in a free speech versus personal and property endangerment calculus I find difficult to reconcile. I suggest that had most of the protesters not been hassled for minor offences, most of the protesters would not be out. Without those legitimate, peaceful protesters, the looters would be manageable.

Not making excuses for lawlessness, but you can't fix people and you cannot easily fix police. You can fix law, and extend liberty and respect to people. I think that is the best path forward.

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2015 4:58 PM

April 9, 2015

My Little Pony

Everything comes to ThreeSources in due time. I was not too surprised to see that we have, to date, passed over "My Little Pony:"


Yet, the time has come, thanks to Brandon Morse at The Federalist: "Marxism is Not Magic!" The Ponies find a society dedicated to egalitarianism and suspect that something is not quite right.

For instance, the first episode includes a song-and-dance number where the village sings about how great being the same is. During the song, the Pegasus "Rainbow Dash" flies in the air slightly above the others, and two other ponies guide her gently to the ground. This is very reminiscent of the story of Stalin showing a young leader how to keep his people under thumb by cutting taller stalks down to the same height as the others.

The baker laments her muffin's awful taste, but is glad that she's no better than every other pony.

Other examples include loudspeaker propaganda with messages like "you're no better than your friends" and "difference is frustration" blasting repeatedly throughout the village. People who deviate even slightly from imposed rules are thrown into jail for resocialization.

Fraternité, Egalité, Hé!

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I think I saw a part of one of these episodes. "Wow" I thought, then went on with my business. Seems I should have paid closer attention. It was essentially the animated version of Rand's "Anthem."

And it reinforces the Robert Nozick Review Corner:

"She and her village live in a utopia, but it is her utopia."
Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2015 2:33 PM

March 30, 2015

Back Home Again in Indiana?

We seem to have no shortage of disagreements of late; let me throw one more contentious issue into the hopper.

I find myself with queer bedfellows (I do enjoy my own sense of humor...) on the question of Indiana's religious freedom law. Line me up with the H8ers and the fundamentalists as we peer suspiciously across Facebook to George Takei, some usual suspects, and a couple of very thoughtful friends.

I collected several examples of thoughtful writing that supported my position:

Fairness dictates that I provide the best of the other side's that I saw (and I will update if somebody wants to share). That would be Garrett Epps in The Atlantic. (Three double letters in three syllables -- now there's a Journalism Name!) Curiously, Epps also appears at the end of Althouse's piece:

AND: I had to wonder What does Garrett Epps think about this? Because Garrett Epps wrote a whole book about how terrible it was for the U.S. Supreme Court to deny special exceptions to religious believers, especially in that case where Native Americans wanted the freedom to use peyote. As I predicted, Epps is otherizing Indiana.

If you want to read just one -- and a short one -- this captures my torn nature. Like the author, I would likely have voted against it. But I will not join the social media condemnation. One's primary and inalienable right to property in one's own person outweighs one's tertiary right to cake.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

Everyone else has disowned me.

You and I are comfortable defining government's boundaries by rights. For those not so inclined, compelling Woolworth's to serve black men at the lunch counter is, well, compelling. It seems a worthy exercise of government power and is not impossible to fit into a rights framework. If no one will sell food to me as a gay, black, one-eyed gypsy in a wheelchair, my right to property in my own person is threatened.

The smartest objection was slippery-slope misuse of this: specifically Muslim taxi drivers at the St Paul/Minneapolis airport have refused to serve customers carrying alcohol. I contend that's a regulated public utility and the question would be obviated by Uber and Lyft. But the potential for misuse is indeed large.

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2015 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Misuse? Of liberty? Non!

A pale complexioned Christian fellow may not, as a government employee, discriminately refuse service. If he does then it is appropriate to fire or reassign him, despite violating his religious liberty.

Muslim taxi drivers should be legally free to refuse service for personal religious reasons, public regulation or not.

It's a feature not a bug.

I'm sorry your social circle has disowned you, but you are commended for your principles. Anyone can agree with the majority.

And minority rights is precisely where I suggest you push them back. Rush Limbaugh cites this quote from CNN's Chris Cuomo:

The original law was designed to protect religious minorities, Native Americans, from smoking peyote, you know, the Amish for having to put an LED light on their carriages. You're now empowering the majority, businesses, big groups, largely Christians, and that is going to be a very different impact.

Democrats supported "the original law" including Barack Obama and President Clinton, who signed it into federal law, when it benefitted "minorities." They oppose it now when the exact same principle is claimed by, what he claims to be, a "majority."

The "majority" God-fearing Christian Americans are being empowered to discriminate against the "minority" LGBT community. But what is the smallest minority group of all? The individual. This law actually protects a minority - individual business owner(s) - from a much larger group, namely a well-organized political advocacy group acting in the name of the LGBT community.

Why do they seek to impose their collective will upon minorities? How dare they!

Whether Christianity is a "lifestyle choice" or not, every person living in America should enjoy freedom of conscience. Otherwise we can change the name to Amerika.

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2015 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yes, of course I am right.

One good complaint was that this will set the GOP back as "the stupid party" alienates yet another generation of a minority group and those who care for them.

And I'd still be comfortable saying "screw it, we're right" and trotting out your trenchant case -- perhaps without the appeal to authority of one Rush Limbaugh.

Yet, the Republicans cannot make a principled case. It's Romney 2012 all over again! Gov. Pence, whom I admire, is hopeless. "Will this allow discrimination?" "Umm, well, I, ahh let's see, gee no I don't really think so..."


Posted by: jk at March 31, 2015 6:59 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I'm with you, my e-Brothers.

Worth pointing out a few quotes:


[RFRA laws] are about accommodating religious belief, not authorizing discrimination.


These laws are all over the place. Understand them. Understand how they apply in many different scenarios and how they are limited by courts in their application. Stop otherizing Indiana.

Takei and the entire Manhattan Media:
Insert preferred BIG LIE

I listened to Pence today, and admits he blew it a bit on Stephanopolous, but is rock solid now. It only allows discrimination in the you can keep your health plan reality-challenged universe.

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 31, 2015 10:58 PM
But jk thinks:

As the prophet once said "life is not ThreeSources." But I would like to see Pence answer "Does this allow discrimination?" with "Damn straight, Skippy! You built that business and you may choose to serve whomever you wish."

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2015 9:34 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Me too, jk, me too. But that is a "beat your wife" question and Pence is smart enough to recognize it. Given a day and a half to think of a better response I've come up with this:

This law seeks to reduce discrimination. In the process of protecting individuals from discrimination, state and federal governments have historically instituted laws that often favor one individual over another. The purpose of this law is to establish equality amongst all individuals, whether they be merchants or consumers. The state of Indiana will no sooner force a merchant to conduct trade against his will than it will force a consumer to do so.
Posted by: johngalt at April 1, 2015 1:28 PM

March 29, 2015

Hobbesian America

I had been considering an essay on the Hatfields and McCoys as underscoring the importance of property rights. And I intended to build it into an argument against anarchy. Before I could put fingers to keyboard, I saw that Robert Nozick had already done the heavy lifting:

In a state of nature, the understood natural law may not provide for every contingency in a proper fashion (see sections 159 and 160 where Locke makes this point about legal systems, but contrast section 124), and men who judge in their own case will always give themselves the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are in the right. They will overestimate the amount of harm or damage they have suffered, and passions will lead them to attempt to punish others more than proportionately and to exact excessive compensation (sects. 13, 124, 125). Thus private and personal enforcement of one's rights (including those rights that are violated when one is excessively punished) leads to feuds, to an endless series of acts of retaliation and exactions of compensation. -- Nozick, Robert (2013-11-12). Anarchy, State, and Utopia (p. 11). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

You can look forward to a full Review Corner next week (or, perhaps, make other plans...)

Lisa Alther, in her book Blood Feud [Review Corner], makes the suggestion that the whole contretemps could have been short circuited. Had the (Hatfield) Judge, instead of ruling against the (McCoy) plaintiff in a dispute over ownership of a small pig, said "I cannot tell who owns it. let's roast it outside the courthouse next Saturday," perhaps America's most famous feud would have been avoided.

Blaming Anarcho-Capitalism leaves me exposed. Didn't you just mention an established government court? Did not the disputed extradition across state lines make it al the way to the US Supreme Court in Hatfied v. McCoy? Whose idea of anarchy is that, jk?

I state that post-War Appalachia was Hobbesian, even with the trappings of an inchoate state. The Judge is presented both in Altehr's book and the Kevin Costner miniseries as a man of probity and fairness. But both families were what Nozick calls a dominant protective association. The questionable disposition of pork products did not occasion an appeal or a civil suit, but violence.

Then, when property rights in one's own person were compromised, the escalation, pacé Nozick, happened outside legal channels with each family bringing in "hired guns" with a very loose affiliation with state sanctioned law enforcement. Three McCoys are held captive and executed by Hatfield family members. One suspects there was not a lot of due process.

It was a more orderly time than Hobbes's Civil War which inspired "Leviathan," but there was a failure of government to protect property rights. Private and quasi-private "protective associations" filled the void -- but the result was not an anarchist utopia. Rather, life was nasty, brutish, and short.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2015


An LOTR-F friend shares a great article on his Facebook feed today.

Sheldon Richman takes to Reason to ask Are Libertarians Looking for Results or Self-Congratulation? It spills out of research he's doing on Nathaniel Branden.

At any rate, the talk, "What Happens When the Libertarian Movement Begins to Succeed?," is remarkable in more than one respect. For one thing, Branden was commenting on all the attention libertarianism was getting--in 1979!

I'll let that one lay, but the Branden talk is superb -- and Richman even gets a "People's Front of Judea" reference in. I liked it and thanked him for posting. What I really want is to bludgeon a couple mutual friends with shares until they promise to read it.
So, one of the signs that we want to look out for, and one of the most important signs, happens in how we approach communication. Are we really out to reach human beings? Are we really out to build a bridge to somebody whose context may be very different from our own? Do we still remember that a lot of what we now regard as self-evident once upon a time wasn't self-evident? Or do we walk into a conversation on the premise: I'll give you one chance, after which you're irredeemably evil?

I'll not pile on; Richman and Branden get the job done without me help.

By The Way, another LOTR-F regular was a personal friend of Branden. I shared my favorite quote with him:

For books like Ellis's, Nathaniel Branden had a response: Rarely do Rand's attackers deign "publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and attempt to refute them. No one has been willing to declare: 'Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his values and actions exclusively by reason, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force--and I consider such ideas wrong, evil and socially dangerous.'"

Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

The Libertarian attitude described here bears a striking similarity to the politically correct Progressive left - ideas that depart from the collective position are not tolerated.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2015 2:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Sadly true. But I used to expect better from those with whom I agree. I guess there is an even distribution of a******s across the spectrum, but I had to un-follow a couple big-Ls on Facebook to preserve my own sanity; I don't think I've ever done that to a progressive. (In my defense, I tried respectful engagement a few times and never got anything above name-calling in return.)

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2015 10:30 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

The Smug has many appendages and appearances.... still, based on JK's comment, are they more like The Scream?

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 24, 2015 4:50 PM

February 13, 2015

Let us ask ourselves, "Why do they hate us?"

Is this not the Progressive prescription when atrocities are committed in the name of religious faith? When, more than 14 years after Muslims celebrated in the street the 9/11 atrocity, an American man allegedly murders three Muslim students because they are Muslim, is it not just as advisable for Muslims to contemplate why some may feel anger toward them?

Koos Mohammed opines in Morocco World News:

We have Iraq, where the ‘war on terror’ has been terrorising civilians for over a decade now. First raped by the CIA, children in Iraq are now raped by ISIS. What were once safe countries for the average civilian have been turned into something from apocalyptic films in Libya and Syria. The Western media won’t report it, but the freedom the West exported to Libya has manifested itself in a chaos that makes one think, if hell had a jungle, this would be it.

In Palestine, Israel’s most recent military attack on the Gaza Strip left over 2,200 people dead; mostly civilians. The murders of Palestinian civilians by soldiers and settlers occurs almost weekly.

In Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the dictators there (friends of the West by the way) brutally suppress the civilians. Executions are common. Those who dare speak out, face life behind bars, or risk being whipped publicly.

So where are Muslim lives sacred? The truth is, in today’s world, in this current setting and condition, Muslim lives aren’t safe anywhere. [emphasis mine]

I must have missed the reports of rapes and other atrocities by the CIA. Perhaps they were overshadowed by Abu Graib. And it's difficult to tell what Koos values more - freedom or dictatorial leadership of "safe countries for the average civilian." But I really must ask, Is it so difficult to publicly state "I am a Muslim and I reject those who kill innocents in the name of my faith?" Or how about, "I treasure the freedom and safety and individual rights inherent in the western nations, and I condemn anyone who threatens those rights for any reason, including religious fundamentalism?"

And oh by the way, those rapes being perpetrated in Iraq... by ISIS... are the acts of Muslims. People in glass houses.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:13 PM | Comments (1)
But Jk thinks:

You might enjoy this.

Posted by: Jk at February 15, 2015 2:48 PM

January 29, 2015

"Selfishness" Rocks!

Economics Hoss Walter E. Williams: Gas-Price Demagogues Feed Off Economic Ignorance

Show me someone who doesn't want more of something, be it cars, houses, clothing, food, peace, admiration, love or war. The fact that people want more is responsible for most of the good things that get done.

You'll see Texas cattle ranchers this winter making the personal sacrifice of going out in blizzards to care for their herds. As a result of their sacrifice, New Yorkers will have beef on their grocery shelves.

Which do you think best explains cattlemen's behavior, concern about New Yorkers or their wanting more for themselves?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:17 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Dr. Williams can sneak both of our favorites into one short column.

Which worker receives the higher pay, a worker on a road construction project moving dirt with a shovel or a worker moving dirt atop a giant earthmover? If you said the guy on the earthmover, go to the head of the class. But why?

It's not because he's unionized or that employers just love earthmover operators. It's because he is more productive; he has more physical capital with which to work.

My lefty friends credit unions and regulations with the 40-hour work week and absence of child labor, when it is capital and capitalism.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2015 5:16 PM

January 28, 2015

"Only reason can help people look beyond what they initially feel

I mentioned Andy Peth in the comments below. He is a master messager for ideas he interchangeably calls conservative and liberty-oriented, possibly a byproduct of his "Basic Evangelism" class in Seminary. Tonight he mentioned his critique of the Joni Ernst SOTU rebuttal. This part struck me as perhaps useful in reaching young folks trying to find some answers. Boulder moms, perhaps.

"From each according to his ability. To each according to his need." This Marxist ideal collapses nations from Russia to South America, and our president has hitched his wagon to it. Avoiding this topic because redistribution initially feels good --is crazy. It’s like Christians avoiding talk of sin because sin initially feels good. We need to start answering why, as in, "Why opportunity? Why not rob the few for the many? Why vote for us? Why not them?" Let’s offer reason, as only reason can help people look beyond what they initially feel. Let me say that again: Only reason can help people look beyond what they initially feel. Yes, inspirational stories are good too, but these should accent reason, not replace it.
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:03 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2015

"A Truly Persuasive Work"

The previous post dealing with the "compatibility" of capitalism and Catholicism prompted dagny in a comment, and me in my thoughts, to consider the morality of capitalism.

Those thoughts included a recent review corner entry where it was suggested that a flourishing humanity progressing toward ever more prosperity and justice can be achieved by convincing people it is, a) a good thing and, b) achievable through free trade, i.e. capitalism. (More specifically, through the unfettered use of "fossil" fuel energy sources.) And that, c) presenting a moral basis for the primacy of humanity is "a new vulnerability to defend, not reinforcement."

I believed I had found an author who gave a moral basis for humanity to dominate nature in this Michael Shermer book whose "exploration of science and morality ... demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moral" and did so without resting his case upon a foundation of Objectivism. It appeared that his justification was rooted in widely accepted principles of science and morality, and not a new vulnerability. The book is 439 pages and I've not read it but this reviewer was left wanting.

The reader is constantly reminded that it is Shermer who is driving this bus, authoring this heavy tome. When he fails to wrangle with hard issues, there is nothing the reader can do about it beyond reading on and hoping for something better in a later chapter. But that something better never came for me. I was not satisfied with the author’s overbroad reach, his irrelevant details, his glossing over the toughest issues, his very human but unfortunate tendency not to see the fallacies in his own reasoning and the failure of his own assertion of the facts. The book seemed not so much scientific and rational to me as opinionated. Perhaps the author has been too successful for too long and has become complacent. But I did not see in him a consistent ability to question his own thinking and hone his argument in order to achieve a truly persuasive work.

This illustrates my point that people long for a moral basis to justify their beliefs, and ultimately their actions. (No great leap of insight there, for this is the chief factor in the historic success of man's many theistic traditions.) Failure to justify the moral basis for human flourishing will, eventually and always, crumble in the face of some unchallenged moral basis to the contrary.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:35 AM | Comments (3)
But Jk thinks:

You can rat on me. The author was in Denver last night, and I could not be persuaded to enter the big city on Friday night.

I read the Kindle sample thus morning both of "The Moral Arc" and Steven Pinkers Better Angels of Our Nature upon which it is built.Both are very good and I struggle to decide which to complete. Both provide generous samples (both are generous books, Pinker's weighs in at 851 pages, Shermers 550).

Shermer seems borderline Objectivist to except that he extends -- I hope you're sitting down -- the sphere of protections to all sentient beings. Reading the first couple chapters it does not seem unmoored from principles.

And, just counting stars, there were many many more complimentary reviews.

Posted by: Jk at January 24, 2015 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Incentives matter. Shermer's is ($16.99/560) = 0.03/page. Pinker is ($10.99/832) = $0.013. That Harvard value that everyone speaks of....

The trouble with both -- and where I might push back on your reviewer -- is that both are writing to somebody who watches CNN every night and says "no way things are less violent! Planes are disappearing into the ocean!" Both are speaking to incredulous audiences and carefully piecing together documentation. I accept the premise wholeheartedly and am ready to move along.

I have to ask if Mister Three Stars is truly missing a foundational moral premise or if he just does not accept that we've left behind barbarism at an alarming rate.

(Srsly -- everyone with a Kindle should get the sample of Pinker's at least. He academically lays out the premise he plans to prove with anecdotes about the violence in Virgil, The Bible, Shakespeare, Grimm Brothers, &c. It's a powerful read and you get a nice hunk of the book for nothin'.)

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2015 5:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree with you on the "hey, it's way more violent than it used to be" mythology. The population is many times larger, and we require cable news to find violence in our culture most of the time. (True, none of us live in Chicago.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2015 2:59 AM

January 21, 2015

I Wonder if Deepak Lal Plays Chess

Freedom fighter and chess champion Garry Kasparov has an important guest editorial in the WSJ today. He strikes a theme which is very important to me, yet one I have struggled to articulate: the importance of globalization to prosperity and the importance of order to globalization. I call myself a "Deepak Lal Libertarian" because the economic benefits of a Liberal International Economic Order are so substantial, I am willing to take a broad view of "American Interest" when considering the projection of power.

Kasparov adds a time dimension in the clash of modernity with barbarism.

Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these "time travelers" to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.

Radical Islam is not compatible with modernity and threatens it. Kasparov also includes Russian ambitions and repressive Communist regimes.
Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin's closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.

In the East, Kim Jong Un's North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights.

The current administration has no interest in the hard work of Pax Americana and the public will not shoulder the burden without leadership. My libertarian friends can retreat with the best intentions and liberty theory on their side. But if we wish to avoid Heinleinian "bad luck," we will need to defend modernity.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:18 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Well said. I will click through and read the whole Kasparov piece too, as its subject is something I've noticed also.

I would state one thing differently, however: Personally, I see radical Islam being far more threatened by modernity than vice versa. In fact, they were perfectly content living a millennium and half a continent away from the West, until our influence reached their shores. This probably pre-dates the 1950's Mideast oil boom, but that certainly was another step up in their exposure to the West and its ideas.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2015 2:46 PM

January 15, 2015

Defend this, Pope lovers

Newser: 'Pope on Free Speech: Curse my Mom and Get Punched'

Aboard the papal plane ahead of his trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis addressed the Charlie Hebdo attack by way of pointing to the man at his side, saying, "If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch." For effect, Francis threw a fake punch his way. "It's normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others." He continues: "They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit."

Rilly? If I perceive something you say to be an insult, it is a moral act for me to physically assault you?

I cannot imagine a more slippery slope. But I can easily imagine what lies at the bottom of it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:29 PM | Comments (15)
But johngalt thinks:

I do not mean to disparage the office of Pope, but the current holder of it, Francis, and his "papal bull."

And to clarify, I tried to call you out for defending this statement of his rather than being our blog's "Pope lover."

Love the Reason piece. Thanks for linking.

All that said, Monsignor Diego Padron for Pope!

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2015 6:23 PM
But jk thinks:

¡Viva Padrón!

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2015 6:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

More brave voices, this time from the lame-stream media:

Washington Post

USA Today

The rest, it appears, dutifully parrot the views of Comrade Pope.

And then of course, there's Harsanyi.

For instance, can we intentionally criticize another person's faith without expecting to be punched? What if that faith is in direct conflict with the beliefs of your own set beliefs - beliefs that deserve, according to the Pope, the same respect as any other? Is it ever worth getting punched in the face?


Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2015 7:18 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

OMG, this pope's a dope....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 16, 2015 1:26 AM
But jk thinks:

Harsanyi's column is perfect (I took the liberty of doing a little link-surgery).

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2015 9:37 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, perfect. For one, he treads more delicately than yours truly. All hail!

Posted by: johngalt at January 16, 2015 12:07 PM

January 14, 2015

VIVA Venezuelan Bishops!

I sure hope big boss man is listening!

The bishops said the long lines of people trying to buy food and other basic necessities and the constant rise in prices are the result of the government's decision to "impose a political-economic system of socialist, Marxist or communist," which is "totalitarian and centralist" and "undermines the freedom and rights of individuals and associations."

The Venezuelan bishops specifically stated that the private sector was critical for the well being of the country. The document, read by Monsignor Diego Padron in Spanish, said the country needs "a new entrepreneurial spirit with audacity and creativity."

So not only did these bishops diagnose the cause of the misery correctly; they also warned that communism harms the poor most of all.

Your lips to God's ear, gentlemen.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Who is Monsignor John Galt?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2015 12:41 PM

January 12, 2015

The Broncos and Daniel Webster

Needless to say: kids, don't try this at home -- this is an experienced blogger crafting a tendentious segue.

The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman, not waiting for the bodies to get cold, calls for Coach Fox's head.

This wasn't a football game. This was a funeral.

So now, an obituary.

The Broncos' premature playoff exit must be followed by the termination of coach John Fox.

He's out of chances. Fire Fox.

That's sportswritin' for you and on some level I suspect he is correct. I would not bet on the Coach's return. What caught my eye were the comments under the Facebook post. I wanted to tally a quick poll of Fox's support and judging from the comments, Congress -- and the Cannibalism and Pedophile Club of North Milwaukee -- both have better approval ratings.

One I enjoyed was "fire manning. fire elway. fire fox." Now I am disappointed too. I expected a better yesterday though I'll admit that watching the Seahawks and Patriots filled me with dread. Both those teams are performing well above the Broncos' December level.

But I promised a segue. This is not wildly different than the leadership/speaker elections in the 114th Congress. Coach Fox is a lightly-complected and less-lachrymose version of Speaker Boehner. "Too Conservative!" yell many comments against Coach Fox. And while those words are not used frequently against the Speaker, they refer to a perceived timidity that is common.

Speaker Boehner has built the largest GOP House Majority since the 1920s; Coach Fox won the AFC West four times and went to the Super Bowl. There are 28 teams and a few political parties that would love our troubles. And yet, the Denver fans want to win a championship and the GOP grassroots want to see smaller government in exchange for hard work electing a majority.

I've a foot in both camps and neither is wrong. But both perhaps underestimate the difficulty. It's hard to govern and it is hard to put together a team that can go all the way and take them there. Be demanding, but be careful not to jettison valuable assets. I doubt that dumping John Elway as VP, John Fox as Coach, and Peyton Manning as QB is the way to a Super Bowl win in 2016. I also question whether 12 votes for Rep. Daniel Webster as Speaker of the House is necessarily the road to libertarian nirvana.

UPDATE: NFL.com: John Fox, Denver Broncos Part Ways

Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (17)
But johngalt thinks:

I heard of another candidate I'm willing to consider also. I don't know his name but he answers to "Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator."

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2015 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Dan Quinn. That's him.

Quinn is the hottest head coaching candidate, although if the Seahawks advance to the Super Bowl, the Broncos would have to wait another three weeks to hire him.

Figured I should at least learn his name.

Any coincidence that Elway said he told Peyton to "take 4 or 5 weeks to think about things" before they talk again?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2015 12:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Best way to beat the Seahawks is to put someone who knows their weaknesses and their playbook on the payroll. Unless you're Bill Belichick, in which case you find a way to steal the playbook and bug the practice field and the locker room.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2015 1:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and it would be nice to have a defense that cares again. Seattle's defense is "all in" or "committed" as Coach Brian Billick used to say.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2015 1:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Jack Del Rio to the Raiders.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2015 5:10 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I was just on my way over here to post the news about Jack Del Rio. I hope they're paying him a helluva lotta money for that hardship posting.

On the other hand, what does he have to lose? If he leads them to just five wins next year, they'll have a parade for him as a hero, and if they continue to tank, he can blame the prior administration.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2015 7:24 PM

January 8, 2015

Pope Endorses Motherhood!

Not really "man bites dog," is it? I don't think the anti-motherhood league released a statement in opposition or that the Lutherans clarified their views of motherhood.

But the great Theologian, Johnny Mercer, said "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." And as Gregg Allman said "I'm no Angel."

Not only is motherhood swell -- it is "the antidote to individualism."


The complete quote is "Mothers, in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, are the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies against war." With all due respect, I think individualism is the greatest enemy against war. And there remains the unfortunate but telling juxtaposition between the slaughter of French cartoonists and the Pontiff's apple pie speech. The Jihadis who avenged "the Prophet," putting the collective over the individual -- did they not have mothers? Bueller? Macduff?

UPDATE: Neglected to provide a link. Apologies.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Misdirect much, Comrade Pope?

The two great seats of statism are convulsing in death throes at the same time - egalitarian socialism and organized religion. Catholicism is "blessed" with a Hydra Pope, who has both of these heads.

What is slaying them? Individualism.

"Can't stop the signal, Mal."

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2015 3:22 PM

December 29, 2014

Why it Matters

Oh boy:

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world's 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

The Guardian's embrace of papal infallibility is interesting -- I dare say unprecedented. The "superman pope" (that is an actual quote, though the quotation marks are in the original) is going to finally bring the moral authority to the UN to fix things. Francis I is kickin' denier ass and taking fracking names!

Were his holiness more into "render unto Caesar," I would be more forgiving of his bad, Marx-sympathizer economics. I've heard a lot of apologies based on his personal background (Argentinian crony capitalism) and doctrine. But at the end of the day, the best defense has been that "it doesn't matter." He doesn't have a seat on the FOMC or a cardinal on the Ways & Means Committee.

But ideas matter. Economic ideas matter. Here, he will build on his bad ideas to promote worse ideas that will harm millions of people. If you'll pardon flippancy, it's a good thing he loves the poor -- he's going to create a whole lot more of them.

I just started Alex Epstein's "The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels." Every ThreeSourcer will want to read this (though curiously, it will get stars subtracted for "too much Objectivism.")

Epstein points out the misery, death, and suffering we avoided by not listening to the catastrophists of the 1970s and 1980s, how humans have flourished and risen from poverty pari-passu with their energy consumption, and how vital energy is to life itself. A heartbreaking story of two specific babies lives' lost in a clinic in Nambia because the generator cannot be run all day.

Pope Francis is going to have a part in preserving and possibly expanding that poverty which is defined by lack of access to reliable energy. It matters.

Hat-tip: @novapbs

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:
Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be "un-biblical" and a false religion.

"The pope should back off," he said. "The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect."

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2014 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." Today won't be the first time those words have been leveled at that institution.

Nor these: "Eppur si mouve."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 29, 2014 5:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Either my fingers are dyslexic, or my Latin is slipping. That should be "muove," that there was no intention to badmouth dusky lavender hues.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 29, 2014 5:23 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Most TS'ers know that I am active in an old-time religion... and yet, "Render unto Caesar" is one of my all time favorite sayings.

Lighten up, Francis, God won't have any of us changing his masterpiece...

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 30, 2014 11:44 PM

December 15, 2014

Otequay of the Ayday

"An understanding that altruism can produce great evil as well as good is crucial to the defense of human freedom and dignity."

-James Taranto, in last year's essay on Pathological Altruism

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2014

Mai Non! Foucault et Hayek?

Sequestered in the usual sectarianism of the academic world, no stimulating reading had existed that took into consideration the arguments of Friedrich Hayek, Gary Becker, or Milton Friedman....

The intellectual left...has often remained trapped in a "school" attitude, refusing a priori to consider or debate ideas and traditions that start from different premises than its own. It's a very damaging attitude. One finds oneself dealing with people who've practically never read the intellectual founding fathers of the political ideology they're supposedly attacking! Their knowledge is often limited to a few reductive commonplaces.

This is from "Excerpts from an interview with Daniel Zamora, a writer on Foucault who 'exposed' that their hero might have had a soft spot for the liberating powers of free market:" Further exposed by Brian Dougherty at Reason.

The article is good and would be enjoyed by ThreeSourcers. I post it because I am nearing the end of my Advent Reading Assignment. This -- and the Karl Popper quote the other day -- are part of a response. I don't know that a Review Corner of these is justified as they are so far out of my normal purview, but the two academic books "Exclusion and Embrace" by Miroslav Volf and "The Secular Age" by Charles Taylor are guilty of this.

Both books are loaded with quotes from, well, Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Kant, Hagel, Nietzsche, John Rawls, Karl Marx and the like. Basically, the bibliography lines up well with Karl Popper's "Open Society and its Enemies." The enemies, that is.

The Enlightenment is discussed in detail in Taylor's book, and he quotes Adam Smith and John Locke as well. So it's a start. But the choice seems to be between a lefty secularism and spiritualism (I still have a few hundred pages of that one. For those keeping score, two are completely finished, one close and yes a big hunk of Dr. Taylor's remain).

The two I am discussing are very interesting, thoughtful and blindingly well written. But I wish to interrupt the author and ask "What about Hayek?" If you are going to extensively and seriously quote Karl Marx -- let's be fair, he made a few economic errors -- I think you should understand some of those who disagreed with him. Ludwig von Mises's predictions from the early 20th Century are stunningly prescient and Marx's are almost all wrong.

It's a serious quibble against both the books mentioned but not a death blow. Both are important and have much to say -- but the academic context, the cocoon, is a serious flaw.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2014

"A Lifestyle Choice"

That's the way "a leader of Boulder's Ferguson Movement" described the actions of "hundreds" of protesters who marched and staged die-ins over the past two Saturdays. Word is, they're going to try to close down the major highway leading in and out of Boulder this evening. Curiously, although perhaps not so much to anyone who ever visited Boulder, Colorado, they are almost exclusively white folks.


Ever the intrepid blogger, I may have found the explanation for this:

Today race is industrialized -- a spectator sport driven by divisional politics, entitlement, false prophets, social media and white pundits with intellectually superior opinions who rarely have had a meaningful relationship with a person outside of their white inner circle.

Zito continues:

We all impact each other's lives, usually most profoundly when no one is looking; we do it not for profit, for attention or a pat on the back, but because it is the right thing to do.

These days, both blacks and whites feel abandoned by Washington. So the solution to our nation's racial discourse should be handled by us individually, one person at a time -- and not by exploiting bad deeds done by both sides that only further the hatred.

Yep. We are all the TEA Party now, except the race industry is working overtime to keep us pitted against our neighbors so we don't have a spare moment to consider "What's Washington done for you lately?" Either that or maybe being ignorant of "Federal Privilege" really is just a lifestyle choice.

UPDATE: [Dec. 9, 2:55 pm EST] - An estimated 150-225 protesters blocked traffic on CO Highway 36 for 4.5 minutes Monday night, signifying the 4.5 hours that Michael Brown's body laid in the street while the investigation was completed.

The goal of the major highway disruption, as outlined in a flyer distributed by protesters, was to hammer home that "institutional racism and police brutality are no longer acceptable."

You know what? That is fine with me. "Institutional racism" and "police brutality" are not acceptable to me either, and I've felt that way my entire adult life. But I'm a practical guy. I can only suggest fixes to actual problems. If the two highly publicized "examples" of those supposedly ongoing injustices are the best examples to be had then, well, I'm not outraged. I'm certainly not going to adopt a new anti-police "lifestyle choice."

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:37 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

The solidarity is so thick, you could cut it with a knife.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2014 7:08 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Personally, I'd use a chipper-shredder instead of a knife, but that's just a lifestyle choice too.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 8, 2014 9:40 PM

December 5, 2014

The essence of government

If you break a government law, "public officers" with guns are empowered to commit justifiable homicide: "When necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty..."

I do not suggest that it be otherwise, but merely that we think long and hard every time we create a new government law. For example, do we really want to subject either the citizenry or the police officers we hire to "serve and protect" to life and death disputes over the taxes that may or may not be paid on individual cigarettes?

All Hail:

New York has by far the highest cigarette taxes – over 5 bucks a pack. As it always does, this kind of policy has triggered black market trade. In March, Governor Cuomo announced the formation of the "Cigarette Strike Force" to crack down on illegal tobacco trafficking. A strike force. Sounds pretty violent. As Robert Tracinski has pointed out, the Garner case should remind us that government is force and more government has predictable returns. And if you believe cops are racist and unduly violent in general, every time you pass some silly law all you do is give them more opportunity.

And so begins the 'War on Loosies.' "It's okay, ma'am. We're justified."

Hat tip: Blog friend Terri, for alerting me that Harsanyi had written about the "Revenuer" angle of the Eric Garner case.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:07 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Justified? That sure explains why the boys in blue are going all Raylan Givens on the citizenry. Life suddenly imitates art.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 5, 2014 7:42 PM
But Jk thinks:

Thomas Hall 's Aftermath [Review Corner] chose cigarette taxes as one of his four laws to trace unintended consequences around. Garner is a tragic addition.

Posted by: Jk at December 5, 2014 9:04 PM

December 2, 2014

What's more important - the safety net, or saving people?

In a comment thread my blog brother invokes The Ronald (Reagan) in defense of a modest social safety net for the "truly needy." So when I read in the October 2014 Imprimus that in the 16 years comprising the terms of Carter, Reagan 1 and 2, and Bush Sr., federal "welfare state" spending increased by 58% (adjusted for both inflation and population growth) it ocurred to me that perhaps even Republican presidents have a liberal definition of "truly needy." Indeed, after 8 years of Clinton and 8 more of Bush Jr., federal welfare state spending increased another 59%. (And this doesn't even include the $728B spent at the state and local levels.) "But it's all worth it because of the tremendous reduction in poverty," some might say. But they would be wrong. From William Voegli's 'The Case Against Liberal Compassion' in the aforementioned issue of Imprimis:

In fact, however, liberals do not seem all that concerned about whether the machine they've built, and want to keep expanding, is running well. For inflation-adjusted, per capita federal welfare state spending to increase by 254 percent from 1977 to 2013, without a correspondingly dramatic reduction in poverty, and for liberals to react to this phenomenon by taking the position that our welfare state's only real defect is that it is insufficiently generous, rather than insufficiently effective, suggests a basic problem.


That defect, I came to think, can be explained as follows: The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do.

I'll leave the ending for those who click through to read the whole thing, but will give readers a hint, though: "Selflessness" is often, in the end, selfish.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, "When the strength of an expansive soul makes me identify myself with my fellow, and I feel that I am, so to speak, in him, it is in order not to suffer that I do not want him to suffer. I am interested in him for love of myself."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:04 PM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

Worse than "the welfare state doesn't benefit the poor and needy" is that those who created it and insist on enlarging it are benighted with the mantle, "protector of the poor and needy." They are nothing of the sort! They are Altruists in Name Only.

They selfishly demand the creation of programs, and the spending of money, which serve to salve their wont to reduce human suffering without reducing any actual suffering. It is analogous to saying, "I will hold this football so that you can kick it, Charlie Brown" and assuming that the offer to hold the ball is of primary importance to young Mr. Brown, not whether or not he is actually enabled to achieve his goal of kicking it. And then as he gets up off of his duff, telling him, "You will never have a better friend than you do in me."

Voegeli writes, "Small-d democratic politics is Darwinian: Arguments and rhetoric that work—that impress voters and intimidate opponents—are used again and again."

So converting this revealed truth into "arguments and rhetoric that work" is the order of the day for "The Party of NO." How about rebranding as the "More for your money" party? "Democrats have been telling you for eighty years that their policies would make you better off, yet the poverty rate has been flat the entire time. We have a better plan: Instead of paying a huge government to make you beg for crappy services, we'd rather just give you money."

Wouldn't that buy some votes?

Stop paying the union bosses, pay the union workers.

Stop paying the race hustlers, pay the unemployed youth.

Stop paying the corporations, pay the workers.

Stop paying the bureaucrats, pay the poor folks.

Whew. Had to check myself for a fever there. Am I insane? No. Every single one of these conversions is calculated for a 50% spending reduction, and capped at % of GDP going forward. And they all treat means-tested recipients as individuals, whether they live with their baby daddy or not.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2014 11:41 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm with Black Hat here, delivering the death-blow to altruism:


Government should never have been allowed into the charity business in the first place. It doesn't work - never has, never will.

The goal of the left may at some point have been helping those in need, but it has long since become the drive to grow statist power and to make more and more people into its clients. To anyone who feels the burden of the unfortunate and longs to relieve them, write a check. If Bill sees a need that he is moved to support - be it a home for the elderly, a community rec center, an AIDS hospice, or housing for the poor, he should write a check. What is immoral is for him to demand that the state take money from him, and also from Ted, Carole, and Alice, against their will, to fund Bill's chosen charity.

What is worse is Bill giving himself a tax loophole that exempts him but makes everyone else do the paying, regardless of their desires.

Remove the government from the role of middleman. In my experience, Americans continue to be the most charitable people on this planet, and those things that should be supported, will be, and the will of the people will be done. People who agree that the AIDS hospice should be funded will fund it. If insufficient people think that a Reform Center for Habitual Pedophiles deserve their dollars, the Center won't get funded. Charities will compete in the free marketplace of ideas for dollars and volunteers. One or two of them may recruit Sally Struthers to be their frontman.

And when everybody's taxes go down to reflect the money no longer being coerced from them - and to support the bloated bureaucracies that "manage" the programs - they'll find they now have more money to give to those charities. Everyone wins, except the politicos and the bureaucrats.

Imagine if our military had all the money it needed to fight terrorists, and failing public schools had to have a bake sale to pay their public employee pension obligations.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 3, 2014 12:16 PM
But jk thinks:


I think we may be close -- what is your vehicle for shoveling our hard earned dollars to the soi-disant poor? (Okay, I'll be serious...)

But I think that was my point. Step up the EITC which is by definition means tested at the expense of SNAP, EBT, ADF, and that trapezoid behind the goalie (serious...) That is more empowering to the recipient except the marginal rates are worrisome. And it is transparent to the voters.

My hesitation at embracing the rhetorical efficiency of "this hasn't worked" is based on years of watching Sec. Robert Reich on Kudlow. The stimulus didn't work "Of course not, it was too small. Quantitative Easing hasn't worked! "Of course not, it was too hesitant!" Everybody on the left is pretty convinced that doubling inputs will change the sign of outputs.

Rhetorical concern #2 is the left's best argument: JG is cutting aid to the poor by 50% -- but he won't cut subsidies to Big Oil by a thin dime. Bringing me back to the anvil I was hitting.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here is a list of all the things that prevent KA's plan from working:

1) Elections.

And no, jk, I cut ALL corporate welfare. That was the "stop paying the corporations" line item. "Cutting aid to the poor by 50%?" Okay, yes, let's have that argument. I'm actually increasing aid to the poor. The only cuts are to the government fat cats who, when told to establish and operate programs to aid the poor, respond with "we've spent all the money you gave us on our offices and salaries and perks and some computers with expensive software, now where's the money you want us to give to the poor?" We're simply telling those misguided individuals, "You're fired."

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2014 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Very good. To make it more clear -- any objection to doing it first?

Apologies for adding a third post to the same comment thread.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2014 2:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No objection at all. I'm completely on board with your Phase I. Where do I sign?

Your Phase II is a good idea but is no more immune to your "Rhetorical concern #2" than my plan.

And Phase III, if we can possibly keep congress on task that long, likely surpasses even "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" in its size and number of moving parts.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2014 3:06 PM

November 7, 2014

Not one of the 9% I'm guessing

A little trolling today...

Thanks to my lovely bride, I follow the Heart and Stroke Foundation on Facebook. They are slightly lest fascist than the egregious MS Society, but they don't shy from coercion.

A post concerning the Province of Ontario failed to mention the Leafs' loss the Avalanche last night but did congratulate the government:

We applaud the Ontario government for taking action to strengthen the Smoke-Free Ontario Act through regulatory changes designed to protect children and youth from the deadly effects of tobacco use. This achievement will go a long way towards helping Ontarians live healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke.

I posted a snarky comment (this is the Internet, dammit!) and was pleased to see that the first 12 or so comments all took exception to nannying. Hooray for us. However, I just received a reply:



Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2014 4:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Looking forward to your snarky counter-reply keeps me from running, screaming, from the keyboard.

And the fact that I was in attendance at last night's game with a friend, and witnessed the Avs split of the season series with the not-so-rivalrous Toronto Maple Leaves 1-1.

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2014 4:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Nossir, I got nuthin'. She thinks that; we've both made our points. Life goes on.

Jealous -- I saw it on TV and that was one of the greatest regular season games I've ever seen. I consider myself a traditionalist but do not hate shootouts like many I know. That said, the accidental 3-on-3 shows how much better that would be. A 4-on-4, then a 3-on-3, then a shootout. That would rock.

And while they're incurring the expense of reprinting the rule book, we could remove that goddam trapezoid behind the goalie. Sheesh!

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2014 4:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The 3 on 3 was awesome. It didn't last long enough to form an opinion whether it was good or bad, but it was definitely different. It seemed that one bad pass would have resulted in a breakaway for the other side. When it returned to 4 on 4 they were able to return to positional play.

Posted by: johngalt at November 11, 2014 4:12 PM

November 4, 2014

Liberalism 101, 201...

Something a bit different from obsessively following a dozen senatorial and gubernatorial races.

A terrific issue of Imprimis, headed by William Voegeli, whose The Pity Party must be on the TS review page soon (hint, hint). To best defeat something, one must first understand it. My BFF and I have gone back and forth on "what liberalism is REALLY about..." Voegeil nails it to the wall, then takes it down!

He sets the stage nicely;

All conservatives are painfully aware that liberal activists and publicists have successfully weaponized compassion... it follows that its adversary, conservatism, is the politics of cruelty, greed, and callousness. Small-d democratic politics is Darwinian: Arguments and rhetoric that work—that impress voters and intimidate opponents—are used again and again. Those that prove ineffective are discarded.

Properly noting that conservatives have yet to bottle a sufficient (nay, any!) rejoinder to the uncaring meme.

He cites both sides: first FDR from 1936

“Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”

then some Mitch Daniels:

disciplining government according to “measured provable performance and effective spending” ought to be a “completely philosophically neutral objective.” Skinflint conservatives want government to be thrifty for obvious reasons, but Daniels maintained that liberals’ motivations should be even stronger. “I argue to my most liberal friends: ‘You ought to be the most offended of anybody if a dollar that could help a poor person is being squandered in some way.’ And,” the governor added slyly, “some of them actually agree.” The clear implication—that many liberals are not especially troubled if government dollars that could help poor people are squandered—strikes me as true, interesting, and important.

Then gets to the meat:

if you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, the failure of government programs to alleviate suffering is not only an acceptable outcome but in many ways the preferred one. Sometimes empathizers, such as those in the “helping professions,” acquire a vested interest in the study, management, and perpetuation—as opposed to the solution and resulting disappearance—of sufferers’ problems. This is why so many government programs initiated to conquer a problem end up, instead, colonizing it by building sprawling settlements where the helpers and the helped are endlessly, increasingly co-dependent.

The money quote: liberals care about helping much less than they care about caring.

Sprinkled with some awesome quotes:
“If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t.” -- Prof. David Schmidtz
as well as Barbara Oakley, and Rousseau and the OED: “compassion” means, literally, “suffering together with another”—it’s the “feeling or emotion, when a person is moved by the suffering or distress of another, and by the desire to relieve it.” then Voegeli notes, suffering together does not mean suffering identically.

All in under 3 pages; can't wait to see what he does in his book! It's supposed to feature some wicked humor. He doesn't bottle or provide a response, rejoinder or weapon against the uncaring characterization, but I took these away by (1) quoting one and (2) obverting one Voegeli's sentences:

1. "The problem with liberalism may be that no one knows how to get the government to do the benevolent things liberals want it to do."

2. it’s more important to accomplish something rather than to be seen doing something.

Now I'm remembering a phrase, which might indeed be that rejoinder:

I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer.
-- Ben Franklin

Now that the election has taken liberalism down a few notches, I say put the stake in 'em!

Posted by nanobrewer at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

That's a very very good article. A great companion to Yaron Brook's LOTR-F speech. And a good rejoinder to the "mincome" concept.

Review Corner will take the suggestion under advisement. Or, as I traverse 1800 pages of Catholic theology, I'd happily turn over the keys to your steady hands.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2014 12:34 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

The author has posted a preview at Power Line. Wow. Money quotes:

> "The perfect liberal is someone so compassionate that he cares profoundly about how you are, but so nonjudgmental that he could not care less about what you do. It is on this basis that liberalism believes it has reconciled the demands of individualism with those of community"

"The liberal view is distinctly hopeful on [human nature]. We can understand this perspective by contrasting it with the American founding, which viewed human nature with suspicion and resignation. In the Federalist Papers, for example, James Madison said the least bad way to avoid both tyranny and anarchy was to arrange for ambition to counteract ambition, and thereby supply the defect of better motives through opposite and rival interests."

I clearly need to reread TFP... The full post - well worth a full reading! - at PowerLine is here:

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 6, 2014 11:28 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I have to say that Voegeli's comment about "caring about you, but not what you do" resonates with me when I view the (admittedly, very successful) mega-churches, which I refer to as "buddy Jesus" houses.

They are so overly solicitous with the 'God Loves You' theme (Jesus, y'know; young, cute, hip & forgiving) that the godly part (expecting one to take the proper steps) gets muted, if not totally lost.

But back to quoting a wiser and harder-working man than I (and themes more important to the bulk of TS'ers):
I submit that American conservatism’s task is to conserve our republican experiment in self-government. Because republics are permanently vulnerable, the work of sustaining them is endlessly daunting but permanently necessary. ... I’ve been a conservative as long as I cared enough about politics to try to make sense of it … and even I wish liberalism were true.


Posted by: nanobrewer at November 6, 2014 11:48 AM

October 30, 2014

Imagine there's a paycheck

Have you seen the new Chipotle bag slogan, offering "people something to read while dining?"

"Hope that, in future, all is well, everyone eats free, and anyone who works actually gets paid for it."

Okay, I made that up from a collision of two stories about Chipotle this week:

Useful Idiots: Chipotle Espouses Communist Rhetoric On To-Go Bags from 'Tea Party News Network', and;

Chipotle workers say they work extra hours for no pay from CNN Money.

So is the bag slogan a proletarian fig-leaf for the Bourgeiose Chipotle corporatists? For its part I am critical of TPNN's take that "the Mexican grill took another step to the left by writing slogans on their bags that include plainly Communist rhetoric" with the slogan:

"Hope that, in future, all is well, everyone eats free, no one must work, all just sit around feeling love for one another."

I wrote on their FB post, "Am I the only one who recognizes the difference between "no one must work" and "no one DOES work?"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:00 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

I had also hoped to parlay this story into a "what would you spend your time doing if you didn't HAVE to work" comment fest.

My answer: I would build more and invent more. And maybe also farm more.

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2014 6:15 PM
But jk thinks:

You were a little more generous than I with Chipoltle. I heard the strains of Merle Haggard warning us of "drinking free Bubble Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew."

I think of the dumpster divers ("Freegans " -- that's the name) who are already there. They enjoy a lifestyle for which Willa Cathers' characters labored seven days a week and they are not impeded by work.

Likewise, I would hope for a future where yes, you could have a 2014 lifestyle without work, but that those choosing that would be equally derided. And the rest would still fervently produce to afford the latest flying car.

My public sector relatives are all retiring or discussing it, though most are younger than I am. I -- in perfect health -- would not dream of stopping in less than 12 years and then would hope to work half-days-most-days-a-week as my father did: a splendid "half-retirement" that lasted several years.

With my imperfect health, I worry monstrously that I might be shunted off to disability before then and I dread the idea. Playing guitar and reading on the weekend is a joy but I need the structure imposed by employment.

Which was the Vonnegut book where nobody works? It was a dystopia and the protagonist's best day is when he helps a person repair a car and gets $5. My economics and Vonnegut's are less than identical, but I think he nailed that one.

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2014 7:38 PM
But dagny thinks:

Try a Heinlein book called Beyond this Horizon. It concludes that humans are basically productive and even when not, "working," per se they still create stuff that increases wealth.

Posted by: dagny at November 3, 2014 11:55 AM

October 21, 2014

Tag Team

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Is that what they think Limited Government is?

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

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His suspicion is justified. However,

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

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

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

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

October 20, 2014

Understanding Alissa Rosenbaum

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

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

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

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

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

Give it a read and contemplate the greater meaning.

Hat tip: realclearpolitics.com

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 1:00 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 17, 2014


Or All Hail Arnold Kling! He explicitly states something I have long implied. The nonprofit sector is neither the Tocquevillian collection of little platoons envisioned by the right, nor the sainted centre of altruism as seen by the left. It is actually an excuse for bloat and misdirected efforts.

For-profit firms are accountable to customers and subject to the discipline of competition. Nonprofits need only please their donors to remain in existence, regardless of whether they effectively serve their mission.

Any change in the tax status of nonprofits raises difficult issues. For example, the longstanding policy of not taxing religious institutions is viewed by many as an element of the separation of church and state. However, apart from religious institutions, I would advocate that nonprofits be subject to the same taxes as for-profit firms. In particular, I believe that exempting hospitals and universities from real estate taxes gives these institutions an unfair advantage in expensive urban areas.

Other tax issues might be moot if instead of taxing income or profits we shifted to a tax on the consumption of goods and services. Such a tax system would place profit-seeking firms and nonprofits on an equal footing. It would continue to exempt donations from tax, but it would equally exempt other forms of saving and investment.

Regardless of what might be done with tax policy, I can definitely advocate for a change in the perceived moral status of the nonprofit sector. We should not elevate nonprofits to a higher pedestal than that of for-profit firms. We should stop telling our children that working for a nonprofit is in any way morally superior to working for a profit-seeking enterprise.

I tell people I have bad luck with nonprofits. It is something of a joke in that every time I have been involved with one it has ended badly for me. But ThreeSourcers know I do not consider myself anything but fortunate -- the problem is the lack of discipline in the sector.

You get your license from the King 501(c)3 (well, if Ms. Lerner likes the cut of your jib...) and you get deals on postage and freedom from taxes. Your donors can now deduct contributions. All because you cleared a government hurdle. Distortionary much?

The charity deduction is sacrosanct and will likely survive any reform ever. But it should not; giving the government power to define "good charities" is a mistake.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2014

Wings of the Right, Unite!

Following on BR's 'Christians, Libertarians and Ayn Rand' post yesterday I received '5 Things the Right Can Learn from Ayn Rand' from a friend via email. (Subscriptions are about $75 per year, well worth the price if you can afford it.) But until you can, or he publishes the article elsewhere, you'll have to settle for my paraphrase.

Author Robert Tracinski, one of the best Objectivist authors I know, cites the Wilhelm piece as a "less charitable" (to Rand) response to Hunter Baker's earlier piece in The Federalist: 'The Devil and Ayn Rand: Extending Christian Charity to John Galt's Creator.' Of which Trancinski writes, "I have a few quibbles with this piece, but as an advocate of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, I appreciate its spirit."

RT summarizes Wilhelm as "basically conceding the point: that the various wings of the right need to work together in a common cause, that

"what pushes these two groups together -- the fact that a big, bureaucratized, powerful government will inevitably smother freedom, crush creativity, and bulldoze people's rights -- also might be one of the few things that Ayn Rand got right."

He then accepts that feeble twig of olive branch and suggests that conservatives "examine Ayn Rand's literature a little more closely and less grudgingly and to take her ideas a little more seriously" before offering "the top five things I think the right can learn from Ayn Rand."

I'll just list the item titles, which he explains fully in his piece. Tell me if any of them sound familiar:

1. The crucial importance of reason.

2. The pathology of altruism.

3. The meaning of work.

4. A third alternative in the culture wars.

5. The importance of big ideas.

The strongest disagreement on these pages has regarded item 2. I suggest that is a case of inconsistent terminology, where the grim and gritty reality of altruism as a code of self-sacrifice is confused with what Baker described as "human solidarity" of which he said, "[Rand] was an atheist and clearly had an insufficient appreciation for (and accounting of) human solidarity, but she loved freedom and she understood the importance of work for human flourishing."

So in conclusion: Remove the devil-horns from Rand, consider her ideas of freedom, self-sufficiency and rational self-interest, and of "dignity, joy and love in work rather than in wealth per se." And then ask yourself if you can find common cause with those other wings in order to defeat the champions of "big, bureaucratized, powerful government."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great post, JG. A worthy spirit, goal and discussion. The Refugee's only complaint is that it seems to be a bit unidirectional in its goal of understanding. So, please The Refufee to offer a corollary list of items for Randians to consider about faith. (For the record, The Refugee considers himself to be a Spirtualist.)

1. The crucial importance of faith - a belief in the unseeable is what allows one to believe that tomorrow can be better than today. It is also what allowed our founders to believe that it was possible to found a nation dedicated to Liberty based on certain inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Reason and faith are by no means incompatible, but reflect the dual nature of spiritual beings in a human endeavor.
2. The value of altruisim - altruism really isn't pathological, but becomes so when it crosses into either enablement or co-dependency. An ability to help others help themselves is the rising tide that raises all boats.
3. Living beyond work - work defines what we do, not who we are. Work is an essential component of the human existence, but by itself leads nowhere. Working with a notion of the benefit of a higher power leads to endeavors that can transcend our transient existence.
4. The culture war must be fought within ourselves.
5. The founding of a nation based on idealistic, faith-based principles is probably the biggest idea in the history of mankind.

Pythagoras, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and most of the great scientists were also people of faith. Freedom, self-reliance, enlightened self-interest and faith are indeed compatible, and arguably, intrinsically linked.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 11, 2014 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

JG thanks the Refugee for his engagement. First remember that this was a response to what was considered a unidirectional point of view from the other side, and represents the Randian point of view that was missing. As for me, I share the Tracinski attitude about "the Judeo-Christian tradition" of which his goal is not to refute or dismiss it, but to understand it. Tracinski, Baker, and I are only asking for the same in return when it comes to Rand.

And in that spirit, I have no disagreement with your eleoquent defense of faith. It reads to me as a secular argument, in fact.

I think we can agree that "helping others help themselves" is good and that to "live my life for the sake of another man" or "ask another man to life his life for mine" is bad, without agreeing on the exact meaning of the term "altruism." Let's just agree that the concept is not desirable as a "pure principle."

The "meaning of work" is not labor, but achievement. Objectivists see the "higher power" in work not in the material product that is created, but in the pride of creation from which man can derive a "higher purpose" than "merely" helping himself.

The culture war is, by definition, a public rather than private issue. If the conflict were confined within ourselves, as you suggest, it would not be a political football. The third alternative Rand promoted is an objective code of morality, concretes of right and wrong, that answers the secular left's subjectivism but without "that old time religion." It is a powerful code for individual life and happiness, and I submit that it is dismissed by the establishment left and right because it threatens their collectivist control over individuals.

Where you see the founding on "idealistic, faith-based principles" I see it on idealistic, liberty based principles. We will agree that good and necessary changes have been made since the founding, i.e. women's suffrage and abolition of slavery. These are more closely aligned with the principles of liberty than the doctrines of faith, are they not?

All we are saying is give Rand a chance.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2014 3:49 PM

October 8, 2014

Obama Teleprompter Hacked

President Obama famously said that he believes "in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

So one may wonder why he didn't balk when Teleprompter instructed him to say this:

It's part of what attracts people from every corner of the globe to this country, understanding that for all our flaws there's something essential that we stand for that nobody else does, and we're willing to put our money and time and effort and resources and occasionally our lives on behalf of that.

Something essential... that we stand for... that nobody else does. This, friends, is the definition of an "exception" and makes "this country" exceptional.

And even more directly, when he said that "America continues to be the one indispensable nation..." one might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, President Obama is proud to be an American. He continued:

...and that what we stand for - liberty and democracy and conservation and fairness and justice - those are the things that people around the world aspire to and seek, and they expect the United States to be on their side.

I agree, Mr. President. Me too. Although I suspect we may differ on the meaning and intent of "democracy and conservation and fairness" and yes, probably even "justice." You did notice that only one of the values you expressed is a part of the name for "that lady with the torch in the middle of the water" didn't you?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2014

Nudge Youself!

Awesome on stilts column today on Cass Sustrein's Nudging.

I have been deeply skeptical over the years, even banging heads with the überrespected Professor Mankiw. Nudging -- and its promiscuous little sister, Pigouvian Taxation -- is all about friendly authority. "We're not going to tell you you can't smoke! We're just going to tax tobacco," "We're not going to make you exercise, we're just going to reduce you license plate fees if you can prove a health club membership." In Mankiw-land, "we suspect greenhouse gases are bad so let's tax carbon instead of income and earnings."

I reject setting government up as arbiter of good and bad. Are we going to tax fat, salt, sugar, BPA water bottles, GMOs? It's a huge expansion of government power, even if applied in small amounts. (Read Thomas Hall's Aftermath [Review Corner] to see the unintended consequences of punitive tobacco taxes.)

Stephen Poole suggests that the growth in the movement is based on underestimations of human rationality. Anecdotal examples abound on our Facebook feeds, but if we're not going to have our energy choices dictated by Bernie Sanders or our diet by the First Lady, we need to take a stand that humans are fit to care for themselves.

This is a scientised version of original sin. And its eager adoption by today's governments threatens social consequences that many might find troubling. A culture that believes its citizens are not reliably competent thinkers will treat those citizens differently to one that respects their reflective autonomy. Which kind of culture do we want to be? And we do have a choice. Because it turns out that the modern vision of compromised rationality is more open to challenge than many of its followers accept.

It's a rich and fascinating column. At 3500 words you'll want to set some time aside. But it is well worth it.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:09 PM | Comments (0)

Objectivist-Pragmatist Smackdown

A favorite on these pages, well after Buffy, is the importance of the source of rights. Ayn Rand and those who subscribe to Objectivism make a compelling case. Here is Craig Biddle:

People should be free because people have a moral right to live their lives as they see fit (life), to act in accordance with their own judgment (liberty), to keep and use the product of their effort (property), and to pursue the goals and values of their choice (pursuit of happiness). This is the principle of individual rights.

Where does this principle come from? Why do individuals have rights? We have rights because rights are requirements of human life in a social context. Man's basic means of living is his reasoning mind. We live by using reason, observing reality, identifying the nature of things, making causal connections, integrating these into concepts and principles, and acting in accordance with our consequent knowledge. To the extent that we are forced to act against our judgment, we cannot live fully as human beings; we are relegated to "living" as puppets, serfs, or slaves.

Others, myself included, find the above not incorrect, but unwieldy as a persuasion tool and not required to understand liberty. Here is Max Borders, responding to Biddle.
Now, there are a number of alternative moral considerations that will be competing with rational egoism, and these moral systems will be wired deep within people. Altruism competes among them. Should defending liberty leave these off the table?

What fun -- it's the same argument we have around here every now and then. Both essays are presented side-by-side and you can vote at the end -- it's pretty close now...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

So glad you posted this! I read it yesterday (and the voting was about 65-35 for Biddle when I cast my ballot) and thought it was tailor made for us.

I can, and will if you'd like, poke multiple holes in Max Borders arguments. But first I want to say, why not both? Why not an "all of the above" defense of liberty? Why is Borders in favor of a number of moral considerations and yet, not "a number" plus one? Why must they be alternative and competing with rational egoism? What in the name of man's true nature is he afraid of?

Getting unfriended?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Uh oh, 72-28 Biddle at the moment.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 2:07 PM
But jk thinks:

The powerhouse Objective Standard is pushing Biddle fans into vote. I don't see this ending well for me.

It is indeed prefect for us and I'm in for a more extended look. Unless I misunderstood an IM, blog bro Bryan watched these two debate this topic live. He gave it to Biddle but admitted to bias.

Huh. I thought that the Borders's (/jk's) argument was "all of the above" and that -- if I may dysphemise -- the Biddle argument is that if you do not choose the one true foundation on which to build your defense of liberty, it will not work.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 3:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Aha, another "capitalism vs. free markets" type miscommunication, perhaps. Well, I did take the words "alternative" and "competing" from Mr. Borders own statement, as quoted above.

"Should defending liberty leave these off the table," he asks? I dunno, should it leave rational egoism off the table instead?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 3:53 PM

September 15, 2014


Some Deepak Lal Libertarianism, with a good pedigree -- and associated with Senator Rand Paul (HOSS KY);

Senator Paul has been a longtime proponent of the "Weinberger Doctrine," articulated by Reagan-era defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. It has six main elements:

1. No overseas commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be made unless a vital interest of the United States or a U.S. ally is threatened.

2. If U.S. forces are committed, there should be total support -- that is, sufficient resources and manpower to complete the mission.

3. If committed, U.S. forces must be given clearly defined political and military objectives. The forces must be large enough to be able to achieve these objectives.

4. There must be a continual assessment between the commitment and capability of U.S. forces and the objectives. These must be adjusted if necessary.

5. Before U.S. forces are committed, there must be reasonable assurances that the American people and their elected representatives support such a commitment.

6. Commitment of U.S. forces to combat must be the last resort.

Count me in

Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:


I vaguely remember when this obvious policy was reinstated. I assumed it was never changed. Clearly it is not in place now.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2014 3:46 PM

September 13, 2014

The face without pain or fear or guilt

Dagny and I saw it last night. In every scene, actually, but particularly, when Leader Thompson attempted to negotiate a "name your price" deal with Galt.

The movie was superb. Like the book, it was too short, but you'd expect me to say that. No, I realize that every nuance that I know and love from the book could not be included. And Dagny regretted that Hank Rearden was almost completely left on the cutting room floor. But we are "steeped in the lore." I fear that so much was included and happened so quickly that the neophyte will miss many points. But he won't miss the big point. And if he gets that one he will be back for viewing after viewing. I think the most important message is loud and clear:

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

"The world you desire can be won. It exists... It is real... It is possible... It is yours."

The title of this post is my answer to the question: Who is John Galt? For fun I did a global search on that phrase and found a very interesting blog by one jg lenhart. (Et tu, jg?)

This blog presents the non-contradictory explanation for God's Nature and Grace...which is the key to resisting Universalism.

But the first thing I saw of it was this page which, among other impressive insights in Part II, Chapter 9, included this about the title phrase:

Eddie – Dagny is Eddie's sound moral code. Not only does he think this moral code is flawed, he found this out at the same moment he discovered what this moral code was. Eddie is reeling. And since he is in the middle of the scale, he can go to the negative side very easily. He ends up going to his only other "friend". Eddie's confessional is no longer set apart from the story. With this visit, the worker enters the narrative. "You know, I never thought you cared whether you saw me or not, me or anybody, you seemed so complete in yourself, and that's why I liked to talk to you, because I felt that you always understood, but nothing could hurt you." The worker is not Eddie's sound moral code because the relationship is one sided; he doesn't know what this worker stands for. Eddie does the overwhelming majority of talking (praying?). "Do you know what's strange about your face? You look as if you've never known pain or fear or guilt…" Isn't that the kind of face God would have?
Posted by JohnGalt at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)
But Jk thinks:

The lovely bride and I liked a lot. I'd say the third is the best, and that most people could get a lot just watching Part III.

No, not cinematic masterpieces, and yes, I spent the rest of the evening thinking of grace notes I wish they'd snuck in. But the truth to the book is important and under appreciated by some fans.

Posted by: Jk at September 13, 2014 5:24 PM

September 11, 2014

War on Terror = War on Collectivism

On this 13th Anniversary of 9/11 I will post a 9 year old article by Atlas Society Founder David Kelley (who is also a Consulting Producer on the Atlas Shrugged films, the third of which premieres nation wide tomorrow.) The Ideas That Promote Terrorism. Hint: It is not, primarily, religious faith. I will excerpt rather liberally:

The war on jihadist terrorism is a battle of ideas, a battle against the ideology of Islamism from which the terrorists emerged.

Though Osama bin Laden and other terrorists constantly invoke the Islamic past, their ideology is actually a modern one. It has more in common with fundamentalist movements in other religions, and with secular totalitarian ideologies like Marxism, than with any historic school of Islamic thought. What all of these movements have in common is a hatred for the values of modern liberal society, values that we in America tend to take for granted because they are so much a part of our culture.

The Islamists, like the communist and fascist totalitarians, hate individualism. There is no room in their worldview for individual freedom of thought, or for the pursuit of individual happiness. Mawlana Mawdudi, founder of Jama`at-i Islami in India and Pakistan and one of the most important and influential theorists of Islamism, advocated a theocratic state in which, as he said, "no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states." The Islamists want a society of rigid orthodoxy and censorship, just as communists sought to enforce Marxist dogmas and punish deviants.


Ultimately, Islamism is not a positive vision of a good society. Beyond the slogans of imposing sharia and the fantasy of restoring the caliphate, Islamists have no real political philosophy or program, and in the few places like Afghanistan where their ideas have been put into practice, the result has been chaos, poverty, and oppression. Islamism is essentially a negative movement, a movement of hostile opposition to the modern world. And, at the extreme, it descends into sheer nihilistic destruction and cult of death, the glorification of killing themselves as well as others, the reveling in gruesome bloody spectacle that is more decadent and degraded than the worst filth coming out of Hollywood.

Those are the ideas that spawned the terrorists: the hatred of individualism, of reason, of progress, of capitalism, of freedom and secular government. Those are the very sources of modern civilization, the sources of all the benefits that we enjoy in America, the benefits we would like to see enjoyed by people everywhere. This is not a conflict between Islam and the West. It is a conflict within the Islamic world, and within the West, between those who accept the values of modern civilization and the nihilists who reject them.

In return for my bald-faced theft of so many paragraphs for their unauthorized reprinting here, I have left a comment on the linked article. The subject: Islamists' claim that they "love death for Allah, like our enemies love life."


In this 2-week old article from Fox News, contributor Walid Phares gets the problem correct, but the solution all wrong.

"The problem in Western liberal societies... is that we don't act against ideology, we don't have legislation against ideology as the Germans or French have against Nazism, for example," Phares said. "And because we haven't had this possibility, we are waiting - law enforcement are waiting for [Choudary] to make a mistake, to make a mistake with the law."

The correct response to bad ideological speech is good ideological speech, not censorship.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2014

Lovin' the Internet

Brother Bryan posted this on Facebook yesterday:

I was a Joan Baez Trotskyist if you can feature that. I was a folkie and then I started studying economics and I said Oh wait! The way to help the poor is to make the pie bigger and that got clearer and clearer to me.

Yes, it is an hour lecture with a half hour of Q&A. I prefer reading and find it almost impossible to slate out blocks of time on that size. One good friend is always sending me TED talks of 40+ minutes and I get exasperated -- don't you have something I can read in five minutes? I'm supposed to be working here!

So feel free to ignore, but the "rockstar economist" (Bryan's words) limns out the basic theme of her "Bourgeois Dignity" [Review Corner] and the Q&A is brilliant.

On the right, where the timewasters at YouTube tempt you with other offerings, I saw yet another lecture on a formative book: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist" [Review Corner]

One hour here includes the Q&A (It's at GMU and I believe the first questioner is Don Boudreaux) and I'll warn you the audio is less-than perfect. But Ridley is funny and wide-ranging.

The Ming Emperors shut down their economy pretty effectively, but they could only shut down a third of humanity, they could not shut down the whole thing.

Now, you know, Kyoto was a damn good stab.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2014

Moral Ambiguity, Meet Moral Certainty

Despite numerous high-level voices in his administration giving clear signals that Islamic State is unambiguously evil and should be dealt with swiftly and forcefully, President Obama said yesterday that, "we don't have a strategy yet." And, really, who is surprised at this development, given that his response to the decapitation murder of James Foley was to say of ISIS: "People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy."

Daily Beast contributor Stuart Stevens writes what essentially occurred to me the moment I heard that:

"But it seems incredibly naïve and American-centric not to grasp that the Islamic fanatics of ISIS are very much about building - building a new world in their vision."

Stevens explains:

As a post-Cold War figure who matured through "movements," Barack Obama is drawing from a distinct tradition. He is clearly more comfortable talking about "justice" than "evil." The "oppressed" to him are much more likely to be victims of society's prejudice than communism. Some on the right argue that Barack Obama rejects the concept of America as a force for good but I think that's a misjudgment. It's more that he defaults to a fundamentally different test than his predecessors.

More often than not, Barack Obama defines America's moral worth - our "goodness" - by comparing America's past to some future in which the values in which he believes will be the norm. In that matrix, it's not about us versus them - it's about what we are versus what we can be. It's us vs. us. America is "good" because we are getting "better." We are at our best not when we fight the evils of the world, but the "injustice" of our society, primarily prejudice, for which there is an evolving test.

This explains the Progressive apology for Islamism wherein their heinous acts are caused, not by an innately barbaric interpretation of a "pure" principle, but by the "injustices" visited upon them by prosperous westerners and their governments. They are supposedly "radicalized" in response to our prosperity. (And "inequality" perhaps?)

But moral ambiguity is not a condition which afflicts the Islamists. Right or wrong, they know what they want and they believe they are justified in doing anything to achieve it. That kind of moral certainty is a very powerful motivator. It can provoke millions of people to vote for you, if you articulate it in a political contest. It can also provoke a convicted mass murderer to seek to join your movement, as former Army Major Nidal Hassan reportedly attempted:

""It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don't compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers."

Would but the President of the United States be so certain as to say, "Anyone on this Earth may believe anything he wants, but there is no justification to initiate force against anyone else. You don't have to get along with us, but you most certainly may not kill or injure us, except in physical self-defense."

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

The Moral Case for Fixing Economic Inequality

A friend of dagny's has shared the TED article The Four Biggest Reasons Why Inequality is Bad for Society and she disagreed with what the article says. I am told her friend, whom I also know but not as well, would like to discuss it with others at length so dagny asked me to post it here where, hopefully among others, "jk will do Austrian vs. Keynsian economics with him all day long." Personally I think most of the objections are philosophical rather than economic, but not all of them. I'll break with my typical modus operandi and restrict my opinions to the comments section.

The author is T. M. Scanlon, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard University. He also references Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st Century' which was discussed here a few times. Most seriously, perhaps, here.

And now, if you please, engage!

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:01 PM | Comments (8)
But dagny thinks:

Also of interest is the fact that the commenters range in age from 18 to 77.

Posted by: dagny at August 29, 2014 5:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, looking at it from a neo-Monetarist perspective... (You people are so mean to me.)

Here is my comment exactly as it appears on FB:
I think Scanlon, like many of this genre is unpersuasive on the evils of inequality qua inequality.

Certainly the poor should have more. I believe that respect for rights, enlightenment values, and free exchange to capture comparative advantage will make the poor less poor. I highly recommend William Easterly's "The Tyranny of Experts--" especially as an antidote to the linked Peter Singer TED talk.

But I have very pad news. The solution -- the world tested and repeatedly proven solution -- to helping the poor actually helps the non poor. Inequality myopics must answer the question: "If I doubled your salary and your company's CEO's salary, would you be sad?" That would likely increase the inequality between you and that fat, monocle man in the pinstripes in the corner office. Yet, I would cheer.

Scanlon offers many good reasons to dislike poverty, but his reasons to distain wealth are less compelling. Mal-distribution of political power? Ask President Forbes and President Perot about that. Better opportunities in school? I don't see Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates trading on their old school ties.

A stratified society is to be distained only as much as the pathways from one caste to another are closed off. And that lack of dynamism generally is the product of top-down organizations' dictating "fair" outcomes.

So I say double everyone's wealth! That will all but double inequality, but I won't complain. I'll be too busy playing my new guitars.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2014 6:43 PM
But dagny thinks:

OK well, JK just did this way better than me, but I’m going to post anyway since I wrote it all down:
There are 2 very important and clear distinctions that come to mind immediately between the government class and the rich. Many in government are rich too but the distinctions are between government and private sector rich.
1) Everything government does is basically done involuntarily. Tax collection is backed up by the power of the law and men with guns. While private sector rich got that way by voluntary exchange. No one held a gun to my head the last time I went to Starbucks or McDonalds or bought an iPHONE.
2) Government is parasitic on the wealth of a society. It creates nothing. I am not an anarchist and I believe government IS necessary but it does not add to the wealth of society. The wealth of a society is represented by its stuff, its art, its leisure time and it is still increasing in this world at a tremendous rate. Money is only a medium of exchange, it is NOT the wealth itself. The wealth itself is this magical device in my hand that allows me to argue with friends and tell my husband to pick up milk on the way home. The private sector rich mostly create wealth. Government invariably diminishes it.
So the question here is whether involuntary redistribution (through taxation) is a good idea. Part of the question is whether it is moral but lets put that aside for a minute and look at what actually happens. The wealth is moved from productive uses to unproductive ones. And I’m NOT saying those at the bottom of the income scale are unproductive, I’m talking about the tremendous loss in government overhead ($600 hammer anyone?)
Also this method of running a society hurts those at the bottom of the scale more. For example the guy at McDonald’s that Paul mentions above cannot decide that since what McDonald’s is paying him is insufficient to meet his needs, he is going to open his own hamburger joint. The government imposed barriers to entry are too high. To open a hamburger joint he needs FDA, EPA, OSHA and whatever else alphabet soup approval that costs so much, he can’t even get started.
So we have this income inequality problem (which BTW, I don’t think the inequality itself is really the problem) but only that those at the bottom are struggling is the problem. If I am happy and not struggling to feed my family, why would I care how much stuff my neighbor has???
Government interventions to try to reduce inequality have downward pressure on real wealth, resulting in things being worse for all which matters less to those at the top than it does to those at the bottom.

Posted by: dagny at August 29, 2014 7:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A primary objection over on the other thread is that CEOs are paid "too much." After explaining that CEO's essentially earn profit from the labors of every worker, while each worker is paid only for his own labor, I did have some sense of a fundamental unfairness where, for example, a new CEO is hired to guide the helm of a major multinational corporation that he did nothing to create in the first place. That guy commands a huge salary because he's qualified to sit in that seat, for whatever reason, but why does the seat exist? Why is it beneficial for corporations to be mega-sized? Economies of scale and access to mega-sized development capital seem the best answers.

I will not advocate government limits on the size of a corporation, but is there a market solution for promoting the fragmentation of corporations? Is that even desirable?

Posted by: johngalt at September 2, 2014 12:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Statist! (Sorry, I had to...)

I do not think it is desirable to promote fragmentation. A board should decide how big a big a corporation is. They can spin off or sell units if it seems desirable to them.

I'm appreciating your desire to be reasonable, but I'll not join you. Peyton Manning gets paid a bucket to QB the Broncos because he is thought the best choice and because other teams would like to have his services. He did nothing to build the Broncos (in fact, he took us out in the first game of the playoffs how many years? Bastard!)

I'll do that analogy all day. There is a pretty select list of folks you'd hire to be a first string NFL quarterback, and there is a select list of people you'd put at the helm of AT&T, Walmart, Exxon-Mobil or LiveAtTheCoffeehouse.com. The cost of the wrong hire is far worse than the cost of the right one.

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2014 4:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, but I'm talking about mega-corporations. Kinda like Peyton Manning takes over as QB of the Broncos and then acquires the rest of the AFC teams in a leveraged hostile takeover. Now he's QB for 16 teams, but taking the same number of snaps and making the same passes and handoffs, but with 16 times the consequences and, sixteen times the compensation.

As principled a capitalist as I'll ever be, I don't think I'll ever admire the M&A specialist who takes perfectly well operating companies and melds them all together in an unworkable mess just to save the duplicative costs of the administrative staff (and compile some BS balance sheet org chart market share nirvana, with which to tempt a buyout by well-heeled rubes looking for a new hobby.) The productive capacity and happy, comfortable careers of countless engineers have thus been cast asunder more times than any of us knows.

In other words, businessmen make the economy go, but some businessmen couldn't give a crap about the actual business.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2014 12:06 AM

August 26, 2014

Democracy, Capitalism, Limits Therewith

Some time back we considered a variation on the "pick one" voting scheme that was dubbed "approval voting." I mention this as evidence that democracy is broken. It has many flaws as a system of governing free peoples.

Yesterday I asked on Facebook, Why are so many so quick to condemn "unlimited capitalism" while at the same time advocating for unlimited democracy? Obviously neither does, has, or possibly even can exist, so my point was whether one should have more limits at the same time as the other has its limits diminished.

An interlocutor suggested that "everyone puts limits on democracy too" thus indicating, I suppose, he has no quibble with limits on capitalism. So I searched for any organized group that advocates for "unlimited democracy." The highest search engine result was Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (California.) Natch.

The most dangerous threat to democracy is the mistaken belief that the US is a democracy. People and communities need assistance and support to believe we have a right to resist corporate rule and to see that a democratic world is not only possible – but necessary for the survival of life on earth. Our education work provides an historical and analytic framework for understanding the mechanisms ruling elites have used to manipulate our laws, our government and our culture in order to maintain their power.

Replace the word "corporate" with "private" for a clearer understanding. So the United States is not a democracy, but "a democratic world is possible - and necessary - for the survival of life on earth."

These folks certainly don't seem to place any limits on democracy.

Okay, fringe leftists from Cali. I get it. How about the national Democratic Party? How is the tension between Constitutional limits and their namesake principle holding up?

From democrats.org:

"We're leading the charge to expand the vote, because it's not enough anymore for us to simply protect against voting restrictions."

Q: Not enough, for what?
A: Manufacturing a bigger majority with which to impose their will... on everyone.

Genghis Khan wishes he thought of this.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2014

Confucius Never Said

LOTR-F for those unfortunate souls who missed it:

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

But Confucious did say, according to Ms. Raleigh, "Some people were born to be rulers and some people were born to be subjects." Are we done with Confucious now, at least in regard to political philosophy?

Her third of three purposes is to highlight the Ominous Parallels* between Mao's China and modern America. I wonder if Confucious would have also said it is proper for some people to tell other people the maximum size for commercial trade in soft drinks? And every government regulation from there on up.

Not quite the Chinese Rand but a lot of similarities.

* Title of Leonard Peikoff book on the similarities between modern America and Nazi Germany.

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2014 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

I just started the book today; it is very good.

That's me giving her the high fastball over the plate at the very end of the video. She settles for a contact single in the gap, but the book is less bashful about claiming philosophical foundations.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2014 2:12 PM

August 13, 2014

Islam on Sex and the "rights" of "slaves"

Heh. Don't get many opportunities to use the "slavery" category these days but such is the gift that is the darkness of [they refer to it as, simply] IS. (Islamic State)

In the first comment to this oft-cited (at least by yours truly) post I riffed on Ayaan Hirsi Ali's claim in a WSJ piece that a central part of what the jihadists are about is the oppression of women.

The central issue here, morally justified by the "pure principles of the Prophet" is a profound illiberalism. One which permits one class - devout Muslim men - to do anything his heart desires to every member of any other group. A "license to rape" is a popular selling point to young men.

This idea was horrific enough in the antiseptic realm of the intellect. Today I find purportedly devout young Muslim men Tweeting about what a believer is permitted to do with his female slaves.

Islam allows "slavery". Women can be captured, men can be killed. The Prophet approved this ...

is their a limit to how many slave women can have?

I'm not sure there's a fixed limit.

that in islam u dont need to marry a slave to have physical relationship with her

a slave is not one of your wives, you can have relationship with her as long as she's your slave

Don't worry, though, because "slaves" have "rights."

Sex has to be consentual though and it only applies to concubines. Mut'ah [temporary marriage for pleasure] is a big no no

whats the definition of concubine, isnt it the same as a person u own, obvious in islam they have rights

But their intentions are "good" right? As AHA explained, "Boko Haram [and all Islamists, by extension] sincerely believes that girls are better off enslaved than educated." Noble even. With benefactors like that, who needs an evil overlord?

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2014

Eastern Thought

After I posted my jingoistic screed against the deeply held spiritual thought that I find common in Eastern Religions, I finished Matt Ridley's awesome-on-stilts "Genome." Review Corner on its way but I had to share this quote from the last chapter:

The Maternal and Infant Health Care Law, which came into effect only in 1994, makes premarital check-ups compulsory and gives to doctors , not parents , the decision to abort a child. Nearly ninety per cent of Chinese geneticists approve of this compared with five per cent of American geneticists; by contrast eighty-five per cent of the American geneticists think an abortion decision should be made by the woman, compared with forty-four per cent of the Chinese.

Ridley, Matt (2013-03-26). Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (P.S.) (Kindle Locations 4841-4844). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I cannot help but believe that this is not a byproduct of authoritarianism, but that authoritarianism and acceptance of the State's aborting a child have a common ancestor.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2014

JK's Theory of the Source of Rights.

I very much enjoyed Helen Raleigh's talk at Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons a week ago. She was promoting her book: Confucius Never Said.

The title comes from "Confucius Say.." jokes -- but Raleigh reminds us what he did not say: "All Men are Created Equal." The Eastern thought accepted a much more hierarchical and less individualistic existence. Her -- grisly -- tales of Mao's Great Leap Forward, the privations and famine, and the barbaric treatment of her family in her native China are sobering consequences of this omission.

I've railed against the uncritical acceptance of what I call "Eastern Thought:" an admittedly overbroad collection of different and substantive philosophies and religion. But I considered them connected by a shared acceptance of the mystic and spiritual over the rational and the communal over the individual. (In humility I must point out that I could not get the author to assent to a broad condemnation of Confucianism as a foundation of China's historical struggles.)

With that preface, here is my elevator talk for Western Enlightenment values that I have been mulling. Per the objectivist/source of rights discussion below, I offer my own source of rights.

I don't want to be jingoist to my Hemisphere. There has, I purport, only been one good idea in the history of man. It happened to be Western. Flip of the coin: 50% chance. I also don't claim credit because it happened 200+ years ago to those to whom I am unrelated. But the one good idea is "all men are created equal."

From this, I can derive all the Lockean Values: man has a right to life, liberty and property -- not given by God or enforceable by the world, but vis-à-vis other men. I cannot take your sandwich. A bear can still eat you. But you and I, being equal cannot claim another's life, liberty, or property.

From Lockean values, I can derive the full set of Enlightenment values. Free will is based on equality as my thoughts are as valuable as yours. Reason is based on free will; innovation, science, and Popperian epistemology all follow from reason.

Where "all men are created equal" has been applied, pari-passu with the purity of its application, it has produced innovation, affluence, and empowerment of the individual. America became richer when the domain was expanded, China became richer when it was applied even in a limited fashion.

Quod Erat Demonstratum?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:02 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"Only one good idea in the history of man?" For the argument's sake let's change that to "One idea in the history of man is better than all others." And it is a good idea. One which was more important in an era where men were granted "birthright" power over other men by virtue of the class status of their birth. But the idea has not, it seems to me, well borne the test of time and collectivist assault. You offer a good derivation of individual rights from the inherent equality, before the law, of all men. But the statist and the theist offer conflicting derivations of their own. And how do you reject their claims as less valid than yours? After all, they are rooted in the same fundamental idea and your own philosophy holds that, in the name of equality, your thoughts are as valuable as theirs (and vice versa.)

So I think we now see how it takes more than the ability to derive a theory of rights from an axiomatic principle in order to defend birthright individual liberty. It also requires an axiomatic principle from which liberty's enemies may not also derive a contradictory theory. A theory of community. A theory of divine will. A theory of human slavery.

Biddle names an alternate axiomatic principle in his essay: Man cannot live without thinking and acting rationally or, in the cases where he cannot or will not do so, living parasitically on the rational efforts of others. This axiom is an example of the identity theorem, that a thing is itself and only itself, not more than one thing at the same time. Man is man. A is A.

Admittedly it requires more thought, explanation and understanding to arrive at a principle of rights from this axiom than from "because: Liberty" or even from "all men are created equal." But doing so removes the moral sanction that statists claim as justification for all of their violations of your rights and is therefore a necessary step before mankind may ever reach a truly free and peaceful social order. [This is admittedly my own premise - feel free to challenge it.]

If it will make this easier to explain to others perhaps you might state it in summary as, "All men are created individual." If you can derive your same Lockean values from this it will suit your immediate purposes, while helping thwart the purposes of your philosophic enemies - the ones who ceaselessly claim some right to take rights from you.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2014 1:53 AM
But jk thinks:

I may have to give you this round and concentrate on Craig Biddle's Libertarian post below. This was its maiden voyage and you have exposed a serious flaw in its "pervertability."

The target demographic of this argument is the Boulderite who believes that the world would be perfect if we followed Eastern wisdom and lived as Buddhists, Taoists, and Confucians and threw out all that wicked Western medicine and just got our Chi and Chakras in order.

I think it retains value for that, but as an overarching system of the source of human rights it needs a little work.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2014 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Those advocates of Eastern wisdom might be right, if there were no such thing as pirates. (Or Ebola.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2014 12:24 PM

Libertarianism's fatal flaw

I have, of late, been at a loss to explain my philosophical differences with the Libertarian Party. Its siren song of "because: freedom" has a sweet, sweet sound, after all, and the threat of an all-encompassing government constitutes a desperate time, possibly justifying desperate measures like, say, voting Libertarian. But Craig Biddle's 2013 article in The Objective Standard is both thorough and precise in explaining the folly of libertarianism, with a big or small L. Essentially, Biddle explains, libertarianism is a political philosophy without a moral philosophy, thus making it "compatible" with multiple moral philosophies. Or so they claim.

Libertarianism is an effort to establish a big tent under which everyone who advocates "rights" or the "nonaggression axiom" can gather and get along and fight for "liberty" -- regardless of any moral or philosophic differences they may have. As Alexander McCobin, executive director of Students for Liberty, explains, "libertarianism is a political philosophy that prioritizes the principle of liberty":
[Y]ou can be a libertarian and be a Hindu, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Deist, an agnostic, an atheist, or a follower of any other religion, so long as you respect the equal rights of others. . . . Libertarianism is not a philosophy of life . . . or metaphysics or religion . . . or value, though it's certainly compatible with an infinite variety of such philosophies.16

McCobin is correct. You can be a libertarian regardless of any deeper philosophic ideas you might have. Libertarianism is precisely a big-tent ideology that is not concerned with deeper moral or philosophic issues. But this is not a favorable feature of libertarianism; it is a fatal flaw.

People cannot credibly, coherently, or effectively defend liberty if their more fundamental moral and philosophic ideas are in conflict with rights. And the fundamental tenets of most people's philosophies and religions flatly contradict the idea that rights should be respected -- or that they even exist.

I highly encourage reading the entire article here. It is long but, as I said, thorough. (If you're into that kind of thing.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:02 PM | Comments (18)
But johngalt thinks:

I agree they are heartwarming stories. They even warm my cold, cruel, secret-decoder-ring heart. And on top of that, I WANT TO KNOW WHY. I give a flip as to the causes of joyful emotions, because I really want to avoid sorrow.

What SC calls a "secret-decoder-ring" definition, Plato described as an extra dimension. Rand explained emotions as "print-outs, daily and hourly" generated by your subconscious mind, calculated according to your values - values which are consciously chosen or "programmed by chance - and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted." Morpheus offered Neo a choice - "believe what you want to believe" or "stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth - nothing more."

I am unaware of any ThreeSourcer who has taken the blue pill so I'll continue.

The idea that altruism is equivalent to love and compassion, with no nasty side effects, is programmed into us by all of the philosophies named by Biddle, each in its own unique way. But that idea is wrong.

The dictionary definition of altruism as "the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others" is incomplete. But the same dictionary offers the not-so-secret key, in the form of an opposite definition: egoism.

egoism (n) 1. the habit of valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest; selfishness (opposed to altruism.)

So you may easily see that the complete definition of altruism, i.e. the opposite to egoism, is as follows:

the principle or practice of valuing everything only in reference to the welfare of others

At this point it is important to understand that the habit of valuing everything only in reference to one's personal interest leaves an open door to valuing the interests of others. But valuing everything only in reference to the welfare of others makes no reciprocal allowance for the welfare of, yourself.

"Oh you're just being overly literal, jg." True. But this is the complete principle of altruism, in opposition to the "evil" and "self-centered" egoism, and its accolytes are judged relative to the purity of their adherence to it. No matter how selfless you are, you are told to give more. But at some point, most men turn around and tell the looter, "No. That is enough. The rest is for me and the ones I love." The remainder are monks.

Tell me now - if you have made it this far without an emotional response that caused you to dismiss everything I have said - doesn't the true evil and self-centeredness dwell in the minds of men who keep telling you, "Give more?"

We think we like the stories where people learn the joy of helping others instead of achieving their selfish goals but what they are really doing is, choosing different selfish goals.

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2014 12:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Emotional? Nope "Now we're really havin' fun!"

I must defend the Secret Decoder Ring (SDR) as I brought it up. It was used against me and I have to admit its legitimacy. Even you, I'm going to point out, discard the dictionary definition for one of your creation. That's SDR.

"Altruism Bad" and "Selfishness Good" are purposefully provocative statements. Ayn Rand has whole books and preternatural expository skills to defend these points. When the poor acolyte (in this instance me) is called upon, it doesn't always go so well.

I wonder that it would not have been better to make up words. Provocative conversation-starters are swell, but you end up asking someone to discard their definitions of words and accept not only a new philosophy but also accept its terminology. Rand and Biddle are welcome to define and explain what "Objectivism" is. When they redefine words in frequent use, then they are fiddling with the SDR.

The only accusation is entomological (I hope that's words and not bugs, I often confuse them), not philosophical. You say altruism is bad -- but then every thing I say is altruism you say is not.

That is why I go to George Bailey. If that is not altruism, I am packing my bags and heading for Cleveland. He subsumes his prodigious talents and desires to live a life which frustrates him, working with dimwitted relatives in a trade he hates instead of joining his intelligent and ambitious friends. But at the end, we're told "it's all okay, because a lot of people really like him. And isn't that what really matters?" And then they give him their money.

I chose that as an unmistakable example and think Mister Dickens's close behind. I can provide about 654,391 more of these against about five of self-reliance (maybe six, Nick Gillespie's recommendation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Blithedale Romance" is shaping up very well).

That's just art and artists. I'm also reading Bob Margolin's superb "Steady Rollin' Man" and you'll be shocked to hear that the great blues guitarist is not a closet Hayekian. He's just played a Republican fundraiser and is stupefied that they do not have three heads and that they like, know and appreciate blues. He is more happily surprised that they buy out the cases of CDs he and Pinetop Perkins have brought -- even after paying the astronomical $75 to attend!

Pretty funny, but only a slight digression. I accept that art tends more Dionysian than Apollonian, but think that Objectivists need infer from this the existence of innate communitarianism and altruism.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2014 11:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That is a fair criticism, if redefining words is really what I am doing. This is the first time I've taken this new explanation out for a spin and it may not work right. Let's look under the hood.

I linked a specific dictionary definition. I find it self-contradictory. It gives a "definition" and an antonym, or as they expressed it an "opposite," of egoism. But the definition is not precisely opposite. The culturally accepted definition is purposely vague. Why? If a man's fate hangs in the balance of a judgment based on this definition, how is it to be fairly decided? So is egoism its opposite, or not? And if egoism is not altruism's opposite, what is? Name that word that for centuries has been allowed to hide behind the "evil" word egoism.

Since the dominant western morality is founded on the principle of altruism, shouldn't it have a more precise definition than does pornography?

And is completing a definition really changing it? I added the missing words "everything" and "only." If more altruism is always better than less, is pure altruism not the ideal?

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2014 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

All is exacerbated by starting with the generally accepted meaning of altruism which comes pretty close to "be nice." You have to move them to a more precise usage -- and then nudge it to the side which contains the disturbing implications.

I'm more interested in George Bailey. You and Nathaniel Branden rightly ask people to understand Rand and point out areas where you disagree (instead of just saying that she's wicked...) I think she is wrong to claim altruism is learned and egoism is innate.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2014 12:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not trying to explain this to "them" but to you. You mentioned your not buying in, but several of your answers refer to "we" and "them." I'm not inquiring whether you believe some group of people might understand this, but whether you do as an individual. And I encourage a cleave between understand and agree. Perhaps it is I who needs change his conclusion, if you can help me see the inconsistency through reason.

What does it mean to credibly, coherently, or effectively defend liberty?

Can it be done if your more fundamental moral and philosophic ideas are in conflict with rights?

I am saying that unless the proponent of liberty is prepared to place the principle of rights above the conflicting principles in whatever deeper moral philosophy he holds, he cannot expect others to do so when he attempts to defend liberty from their opposing principle. In fact, a libertarian will not even ask that question. Perhaps libertarianism is a stepping stone to a political philosophy that arranges liberty as the deeper principle, but it does not do that itself. Adherents seem to think that would be too confrontational and a barrier to entry in the movement. And they're probably right. But the more explicit philosphies continue to have greater appeal, even when they are flawed.


By the way, I believe I erred earlier when I implied that all of the "joy of helping others" stories embodied individuals changing their selfish goals to ones that also benefit others. The two examples you chose are excellent because I think that dynamic fits in the Scrooge story but not George Bailey. He clearly sacrificed his future goals because he thought that others needed him. He allowed the needs of others to place a claim on his life, and most of those who cheered did not ask why - nor did Bailey. But viewers were happy that the story took that turn, even if Bailey was not. If altruism is not learned, why are there so many lessons in it? You see ubiquitous stories as celebration of genuine human nature and I see it as a self-reinforcing perversion of human nature. If altruism is innate, why did Bailey struggle with the question, even for a moment?

I hesistate to ask another question here in comment #17 but maybe we'll reach a mutual understanding on one of them, without a secret decoder ring between us, so here goes: Why are there so many books and programs and debates about the origin of the universe, and so few about the origin of altruism? We could just as well accept the existence of the universe as innate, couldn't we? But a fair number of people do seem to ask some questions that, on their face, seem unanswerable. And I might add, have much less impact on their daily lives.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2014 3:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair cop on pronouns. I'd like to explain to "them" the importance of individual rights without really being a "we" in accepting Rand's derivation of the source of these rights. Clearly Kimosabe should declare his antecedents.

Where we differ, it is more on your second question, "Can [defending liberty] be done if your more fundamental moral and philosophic ideas are in conflict with rights?"

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! That's where I part with Biddle. I could look to my personal friends, or ThreeSourcers, or even the brilliant founders of this great Republic. I see a great disparity in "fundamental moral and philosophic ideas" and yet a great commonality in their belief and capacity to defend rights.

Only a little flippancy causes me to ask whether philosophies "with greater appeal" are in-spite-of or actually because-of their underlying flaws and inconsistencies.

The victory of altruism in "It's a Wonderful Life," for the same reason I'm not ready to concede "A Christmas Carol," is that of course we want to be selfish (you've succeeded beyond your wildest dreams at establishing innate egoism). What is heroic is to want to travel the world and build dams and revolutionize industry -- but to overcome that and accept your duty to others. If it was not hard, it wouldn't be heroic. Liking ice cream is rarely the climax of fine literature.

I suggest the plotline resonates with an innate altruism in the reader/viewer. Yes there have been a thousand PBS cartoons on the joys and wonders of recycling, but this story transcends cultures centuries, and languages.

Not sure I get the final question (or I am frightened). I consider the universe innate but still enjoy books about its structure, workings and history. There is insufficient entropy around altruism to warrant too many books.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2014 5:21 PM

June 24, 2014

There's an Unholy Trinity!

Pope Francis, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Bernie Sanders walk into a bar...


Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Where in the leftist Pope's sanctimony is there room for the word "liberty?" He criticizes the "impersonal" but his 'solutions' are far from personal.

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2014 11:00 AM
But jk thinks:

His defenders say "He's from Argentina and his anti-Capitalist rhetoric is suited to that country's cronyism."

I bristle because it can be used by Warren, Sanders and worse by every two bit despot in even worse hellholes than Massachusetts and Vermont.

Posted by: jk at June 25, 2014 11:24 AM

June 20, 2014

A Question for Anarchists

I gave a glowing review to Randy Barnett's "The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law" last month. It got five stars and the Editor's Choice Award. My admiration for Barnett is without bound and I think this is a very important book.

My blog brother threatens suggests a crowdsourced, ThreeSources Constitution and I applauded the suggestion. As big a fan as I am of James Madison, Barnett makes an uncomfortable point, viz., a centralized authority will be suborned by those with interest and power.

It is difficult to imagine a better start than the US Constitution. The depth of thought shown in The Federalist Papers and the ratification process is shocking to the modern eye and ear. We cannot have a Colorado Senator's race without gross distortions and exaggeration of picayune issues. The balance, the seriousness, and the intellectual depth of the founders -- and the public -- continues to stagger.

Yet it is parchment and has been evaded for hundreds of years by those with or seeking interest and power. And its protections are ineffective.

Barnett solves this with "a polycentric legal order in which consumer choice and competition would provide a better check on the abuse of the powers of law enforcement." Under this, more property is private and subject to the owner's jurisdiction. You can wear your gym shorts at Walmart* but not a Saks. Without the vast public areas we have today, law enforcement and justice remains more in private hands. Again, I weaken his arguments by paraphrasing, but I was for the first time truly compelled to accept a more anarchist view.

But I believe I have found the flaw. What if there were a place like Barnett suggests where this theory could be tested? No, not Somalia -- you guys shut up in the back!!!

Worse than Somalia -- America's University Campuses. On Campus, you are subject to the Constitution and Local laws, but to an extent you have traded them away. Your legal order is polycentric as you manage outside laws with inside laws. On the first read through The Structure of Liberty, it is easy to image an America of Disneylands where you are comfortable in a private purview whose owners interest is tied closely to your safety. But you aren't guaranteed Bill-of-Rights rights in Disneyland -- and that has been my hang-up in accepting private law enforcement and justice.

The new University guidelines for sexual assault cement my case. If the Utopian vision is an America of Disneylands, I posit the dystopia is a nation under the aegis of "The Dean of Diversity and Equality."

I accept that the Constitution did not have the protections to save itself, though we've had a great run and still enjoy many protections. Do not take me too pessimistically, but everybody who has read this far understands my concerns. The preponderance of private bodies -- identical to the Universities -- could collectively go to Nanny Defcon 5 in a short time. And we would be looking for our monocentric Constitutional protection.

I think we'll get the gun laws and the panic-of-the-day "protections" currently seen on Campuses. Everywhere.

Here's George Will having his column dropped by the St. Louis Dispatch for the temerity of questioning Campuses' capacity to adjudicate sexual assaults.

Of course, if you don't like a college that has such rules, you can go to another college well, you can go online.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

My premise is that certain things are universal, and should be universally recognized by civilized governments. That is not the case today, as a Christian woman in the middle east may soon find herself in jail for the high crime of going outdoors.

One important part of my Constitution of Free Peoples is disambiguation. All of the worthwhile amendments would be incorporated in the main document, and the part we now know as the 10th amendment would still come at the end and be restated along the lines of: Anything not expressly provided above as a legal role of the federal government is expressly prohibited to the federal government. This, and the abolition of amendments, are perhaps the most important components.

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2014 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Hey, if you get 0:54 minutes, Here's a great podcast of Barnett discussing "The Structure of Liberty" with Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus from Cato.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2014 4:06 PM

June 17, 2014

Otequay of the Ayday

The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom. -Plato

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plato_2.html#8puyA1pRkPdO2XYP.99

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2014

Spirit of Capitalism

Roger Simon highlights a Kevin Williamson essay, where Williamson goes all Michael Novak on an Honduran Cardinal's ass:

You cannot redistribute what you don’t have -- and that holds true not only for countries but, finally, for the planet and the species, which of course is what globalization is all about. That men of the cloth, of all people, should be blind to what is really happening right now on the global economic scale is remarkable, ironic, and sad. Cure one or two people of blindness and you're a saint; prevent blindness in millions and you’re Monsanto

Posted by John Kranz at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2014

Happiness is Not Zero Sum

David Azerrod has an interesting piece at Heritage's The Foundry Blog. He suggests that conservatives fall into a trap when they accept the Left's analogy of a race.

What Quinn's avowedly discomfiting conclusion reveals is that it is time to drop the flawed race of life analogy once and for all. Life is not race. Life is a journey whose goal is happiness. And happiness is not a finite national resource--there is plenty of it to go around. My happiness need not come at the expense of others.

In a race, I can only win if all the others lose. In life, my happiness leaves you perfectly free to go about your life and find your own happiness. We can't all be happy all the time, of course, but that is not because we are all racing against one another, but because the crooked timber of mankind is subjected to the endless vagaries of life.

If we take our bearings from the Declaration of Independence rather than from a metaphorical footrace, we can see that we are not all racing toward the same finish line, but each pursuing happiness in our own way. Some want to be baseball players; others choose to become priests--occasionally, some will even forego a promising baseball career to enter the priesthood. Some are gifted musicians; others have a knack for languages. We've got introverts and extroverts; men of action and dreamers; those who can and those who teach. Human beings in all their marvelous diversity!

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, jk has to make tortured segues. Here's John Lawlor, a guy who likes to play the tenor guitar. He's an iconoclast, not a hipster. If you can find 52 minutes, I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you cannot, scroll to 45:00 and listen to "Take me Out to the Ball Game."

If you listen to all 52, you'll know that happiness really is not finite.

UPDATE: Yes, you have to turn the audio waaay up.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:
"They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself . . . . They are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they’re after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man."

Excerpt from those 60-odd pages that most readers skip over, the passage known as Galt's Speech, in Atlas Shrugged.

To them, happiness actually IS zero-sum - as a game and also a reality. (And "them" has a long list of members.)

Posted by: johngalt at June 3, 2014 2:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Br'er BR mentioned "envy."


Posted by: johngalt at June 3, 2014 2:43 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

BTW, a four string guitar? Aren't those called "ukulele's?"

It must be tough finding music suitable to a four string - it holds 50% fewer notes than a six string, and fully two-thirds fewer than a 12 string.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 3, 2014 4:52 PM
But jk thinks:

And yet, Mister Lawson seems to do all right. (For those who did not find the 52 minutes, he addresses the point directly, saying fewer strings and more open intervals allow him to hear the harmony as opposed to the denser, congealed unity of a guitar chord.)

It's a very unusual instrument -- the tuning is inline with a mandolin/fiddle rather than guitar or ukulele. I've lived life in the dank recesses of music stores and confess I have never seen one. I could -- ahem -- order one from Eastwood, where I got my seafoam green mandolin and resonator guitar.

But I wouldn't do that. That would be self-indulgent.

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2014 5:11 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

...and would create envy due to increased guitar inequality.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 3, 2014 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Unlimited happiness...

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2014 6:07 PM

May 28, 2014

On Human Freedom

I live and think and act under the premise that the universal natural state of man is freedom.

I asked a friend recently if he thinks that liberty is a universal ambition of every person. He wasn't sure. So I asked him if he had to choose between total liberty and total control, which he would prefer for himself? Would he prefer to work and earn and choose which "hovel" (his word) to rent, or to be given some sort of "hovel" by someone else with no freedom to choose anything about it. His delay in answering suggested an attempt to evade the question asked, which he did by replying that being given a hovel is better because he would know that more people are thus able to have similar hovels and fewer people would be homeless.

There were other beliefs expressed, such as "man is no better than nature" and "humanity can't expand without harming nature." I relate this story because it gave me insight into the thinking of lefty Facebook Friends: "I believe we are all sailors on the same ship, and we have to work together for the common good. The earth is our ship and the universe is our ocean." I didn't think to remind him of the myriad mutinies and riots that happen when order breaks down during long and indeterminate journeys, but I did ask him to consider my original question only in terms of his own desires. His own needs and wants, notwithstanding the effects of his choice on anyone else.

"That's not fair," he replied.

It wasn't that he couldn't answer the question, I think, but that he didn't believe he had any right to consider the question in such a way. I wasn't suggesting - yet - that he actually live his life that way, but merely asking him to think about how he might do so. He stood up, said he couldn't do this, and walked away.

You have permission, lefty Facebook Friends, to stop worrying about everyone else every moment, with every act you take or sentence you utter. I'm not saying you may be inconsiderate, only that you are an end in yourself. Why does that threaten you so?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2014

Genetically Modified Good Causes

While reading William Perry Pendley's excellent Sagebrush Rebellion Redivivous in the current issue of Imprimus online I noted the parallel between western liberalism, which I've been discussing of late, and the American environmental movement. Both started with good principles and worthy goals but grew and evolved, or more correctly metastasized, into something that was not only bad but contradictory to its origin.

Devon Downes, a Michigan high school student and Young American for Liberty, gives an excellent summary of the Evolution of Liberalism in his undated article.

From Epiphany to Epithet

So how could "liberalism," a word representative of so anti-statist a philosophy, come to represent such a very different prescription for government? How did the term lose its history as a great liberator in the history of ideas and, among many on the American right, become little better than a slur? Even more significantly, why did this etymological reversal occur?

The answer lies in the development of another new political philosophy: Progressivism. As Mises Institute scholar Ralph Raico puts it, progressivism is "a vague term, but one that connote[s] a new readiness to use the power of government for all sorts of grand things."

Though it originated and made its way into both the Democratic and Republican party in the late 19th century, Progressivism highjacked the term "Liberal" during FDR's New Deal, with the help of Progressive philosophers such as John Dewey (yes, the decimal system creator.)

It was around this time that the adherents of progressivism took for themselves a new name which has stuck to their ideas to this day: Liberal. Progressives controlled the terms of the debate, and went on to control the agenda that followed.

As progressive philosopher John Dewey wrote in his Liberalism and Social Action in 1935, "measures went contrary to the idea of liberty" as defined by Locke and Jefferson "have virtually come to define the meaning of liberal faith. American liberalism as illustrated in the political progressivism of the early present century has so little in common with British liberalism of the first part of the last century that it stands in opposition to it." This change effectively camouflaged what were in many ways very new ideas (progressivism) in a very old American tradition (liberalism)—and it was a camouflage which would make its wearer stronger. [emphasis mine]

I do disagree that progressivism represents "very new ideas" for it is merely a rebranding of Marxist egalitarian socialism, but the point remains - the new progressive liberal "faith" stands in opposition to the anti-statist foundation of the United States of America and all of western civilization that was known simply as "liberalism."

But this transformation did not result from a natural evolution. The original cause was corrupted by an outside influence, a "genetic modification" if you will, that was not recognized quickly or widely enough to be discredited in its infancy.

Returning to environmentalism, Pendley writes:

Reagan had seen firsthand the transformation of the environmental movement from one of conservation and stewardship, in which the part played by human beings and technology was vital, to a movement in which humans and technology were understood to be enemies of nature. As articulated by Reagan, opposition to extreme environmentalism represented a return to true environmentalism. America’s "environment[al] heritage" will not be jeopardized, he promised, while at the same time insisting that "we are going to reaffirm that the economic prosperity of our people is a fundamental part of our environment."

Sadly, that message vanished from our discourse when President Reagan did. I think I can quip, ironically, "It's Bush's fault" for senior's failure to maintain the important message that "freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction." It is left to us, defenders of liberty, to discredit and strangle the Genetically Modified Environmentalism to make way for true environmentalism - one where nature and man can both prosper.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:01 PM | Comments (2)
But Jk thinks:

All Hail Pendley! [Review Corner]

Posted by: Jk at May 24, 2014 4:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well linked. James Watt did cross my mind as I wrote this post. That Review Corner well addressed the evils of bureaucracy, and I was tempted to criticize that in this post as well. Instead I focused on the epistemological problem that affects nearly every "good cause." Basically, that the cause is so good (or "pure" as Ayaan Hirsi Ali observed) that it trumps every other consideration, including individual freedom.

Reagan adhered to what one social scientist called the "human exemptionalism paradigm," according to which "human technological ingenuity can continue infinitely to improve the human situation." Carter, the Earth Day organizers, and the environmental groups embraced a neo-Malthusian "ecological paradigm," which posits environmental limits on economic growth.

The latest effort toward restraining human progress is a rekindled effort to afford legal "rights" to plants and animals. This comes to a head in Boulder, CO next month when, despite pushback from other environmentalists, the Boulder County Planning Commission is scheduled to consider inserting language that gives plants not equal, but superior, "rights" to private property.

Environmentalists v. environmental extremists. This should be interesting, though I have little doubt who will prevail.

Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2014 10:39 AM

May 21, 2014

Libertas est in lege prohibitum

In an IBD editorial Campus Intolerance Endangers America's Free Speech. Economics Hoss Walter E. Williams treads the same waters of western illiberalism that we discussed May 9th regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Readers may recall I drew a simile between western "liberals" and central Africa's Boko Haram ["non-Muslim teaching is forbidden"].

Williams quotes Charles Murray to explain what the academy used to be all about, at least when it was devoted to science instead of indoctrination: "The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree."

But today, every challenge to the orthodoxy of the illiberal left is met with precisely the opposite reaction - demonization. Williams summarizes in elevator-ese:

Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America.

So confident are they in the Righteousness or "purity" of their egalitarian socialist ideals that there is no limit - in their minds - to the legitimate infringement of the rights of others, if those others question the validity of their "pure" ideal. So damn the Constitution, damn the First Amendment, damn the free speech of the Academic Infidel.

In the example of Boko Haram we may suggest a name for the post-modern academics and the politicians, talking heads, environmental cultists and Facebook Friends who take this path. "Teaching Liberty is Forbidden."

Fortunately, Americans have never taken kindly to being told what to do.

UPDATE: Changed the title to Latin from the original, and ambiguous, French: "La liberté d'enseignement est interdit." Thanks to my father for the translation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I summarized this post in an email to family members and thought that was worth sharing:

To summarize the point of the article, I quote economist Walter E Williams on American college professors' hostility to the freedom of western societies. (He wrote about the war on free speech on college campuses.) I submit that that they hold their goal "egalitarian socialism on a worldwide basis" as so good and ideologically 'pure" that they are justified, in their minds, in violating rights of others - "Academic Infidels"ť I called them - in furtherance of their crusade.

In essence, the philosophical justification used by America's academic elite is the same one used by Islamic terrorists - the righteousness of their respective "pure"ť ideology. So we now must ask, who made this philosophical leap first? Who learned it from whom? Is the philosophy of our academic elite responsible for the rise of terrorism?

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2014 3:02 PM

March 24, 2014

Adam Smith

A Facebook Friend shared this story on collusion: big tech firms' agreeing not to recruit each others workers. There is much to discuss in this story, but my friend used it to call for more regulation and used the phrase "the invisible hand is bullshit."

I thought it funny that the story actually validates Adam Smith, and replied:

I'll defend Adam Smith if not Apple. Smith suggested the invisible hand in "Theory of Moral Sentiments." In "Wealth of Nations" he says "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

I once heard of an economics professor who offered an A to any student who could find pro-business sentiment in the nine hundred eleventy-two pages of Wealth of Nations.

But the invisible hand refers to the lack of planning required to get to produce the subordinate parts or materials of (in his case, breakfast). I don't see collusion as counter-example. (And while I'll admit it's wrong, wrong, wrong, I cannot engender great sympathy for the greatest treated workforce in the history of the world: tech workers in this time period did okay as I recall.)

Friend (okay, it's this blog's own "LatteSipper...") has a point that I am so used to defending capitalism from the Occupy crowd, I fall into the bad habit of defending businesses. Is this a crack in the heretofore unscathed "Bourgeois Dignity" theory of Deirdre McClosky? Not a direct contradiction -- but something to be considered.

Truth is, I thought it just some crazy Facebook, <earnest-sounding-phrase>.ORG story and was prepared to seek out cute puppies. Then, Insty linked. You know my appreciation and general agreement for "The Sage of Knoxville," but his comment was "You can see why they want a lot of temporary visas for cheap foreign workers." Oh, man, dude's been hanging out with Mickey Kaus too much -- we're going to have to seat them in different sides of the room.

I want justice for all, but these are the least sympathetic clients since the Westboro Morons had their free speech rights underscored in Snyder v Phelps. Poor Apple coder has to live with $165K, free lunches and an iridium health care plan -- the recruiter from Intuit can't call with an offer of $190! Boo-flippin'-hoo! Lawr is lawr and I wish them luck in court.

But the Insty accusation is a disconnect. They cannot find enough workers to continue -- neither can my firm. It's a great company, if some of you want to come write software for us, tell them I sent you and I get a cool five grand.

There are a lot of codified and assumed rules among partners and collaborators (I've broken a few of both) about not "sniping" each others' talent. I can accept this is different, but still want to call somebody a waaaaaahmbulance.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2014

I Have a Dream...

I would like to get together with my lefty friends -- I'll buy each a beer -- watch and discuss this:

Education, abortion, gay-rights, drugs, and welfare all engender powerful emotions in people. I was thinking that most of my friends could handle transportation and zoning with limited tears. And, yet, here is a (yet another even better) microcosm of what I believe. The planners are making things worse: worse for the poor, worse for the environment, worse for transportation. Some good old Hayekian spontaneous order would improve so much. But, as Insty would say, there are insufficient opportunities for graft.

Then, perhaps, if liberty gets a small foothold...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM | Comments (9)
But jk thinks:

And yet, if I may be a bit mean, I have yet to hear a compelling argument. There is a decent libertarian argument against compulsion (this month's Reason cover), but even the people I respect say Don't vaccinate because mercury and corporations.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2014 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The mercury has, it seems, been removed. There's a new bogeyman now - aluminum. Before clicking the link you should know that "mcg" is micrograms, or 10-6 (.000001) grams.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2014 4:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A microgram here, a microgram there, pretty soon you're talking about milligrams. In fact, infant vaccinations can easily total up to 5mg!

The linked article explains that aluminum is dangerous:

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Aluminum is now being implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and in other tissues."

Does this mean we should not allow aluminum to come into contact with, say, our food? This dubious product is offered in sizes as large as 4,989,516,070 micrograms! How many licks does it take to ingest 5,000 micrograms?

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2014 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Ehrmigawd! I had, like a million micrograms of that wrapped around my burrito at lunch!!! I'm heading straight to the ER.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2014 4:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is fair to observe that there's a difference between elemental aluminum or its alloys and the "salts of aluminum" and other aluminum compounds. But it's also fair to point out that Neil Z. Miller plays fast and loose with the distinction, repeatedly implicating "aluminum" itself.

But even aluminum compounds are widely used in other products, such as antacids and anti-perspirants. So far, it seems, the aluminum-haters haven't corrupted the Wikipedia page.

Despite its natural abundance, aluminium has no known function in biology. It is remarkably nontoxic, aluminium sulfate having an LD50 of 6207 mg/kg (oral, mouse), which corresponds to 500 grams for an 80 kg person.

So unless you're consuming half a kilo of aluminum, yer probably good.

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2014 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh, even I bought in on some level to Alzheimers and Aluminum. Nope, that's a fraud.

The average human intake is estimated to be between 30 and 50 mg per day. This intake comes primarily from foods, drinking water, and pharmaceuticals.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2014 5:56 PM

March 7, 2014

Doing the Work ThreeSourcers Won't Do

Mollie Zieglar Hemingway has a guest editorial in the WSJ that might warm the cold, unfeeling hearts of ThreeSourcers. She takes to task one Dalai Lama. "The longtime Marxist doesn't seem to realize markets are the best way to 'take care of others.'"

She mentions the AEI visit and his admission that he has come to better respect Capitalism. "But that respect seems grudging. He also criticized 'the capitalist country, United States,' as 'the richest, but you also see a big gap between rich and poor.' And he said of capitalism that it 'only takes the money, then exploitation.'"

While the Dalai Lama was bringing his critique of capitalism to Washington, Venezuelans were continuing their sustained protests against a Marxist government that they blame for high inflation, rampant crime and the imprisonment of opposition leaders. Then there are the Communist regimes in China, Cuba and North Korea, which remain far more repressive and unequal than any capitalist democracy. Yet the Dalai Lama didn't mention Communist oppression.

The fact that Marxism has achieved the opposite of what it promises hasn't seemed to move the Dalai Lama. On this trip, the Dalai Lama told a Vanity Fair reporter that the issue is not Marxist ideology, just its practitioners: "I think the Marxist economics is right. But gradually Lenin, [though he was] supposed to apply that concept, he sacrificed individual rights, individual freedom."

Yeah, Lenin was swell before he turned away from his dedication to individual rights and individual freedom.

Holler if you want this mailed over Rupert's pay wall -- I'm, like, totally prepared to "fight the man" today.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

How did this post do with your FB friends? HAHA.

While searching for a favorite Rand quote to use in commenting on this article I found another one I wanted to also share. It fits nicely right here, in support of Hemmingway's profound observation.

"Businessmen are the one group that distinguishes capitalism and the American way of life from the totalitarian statism that is swallowing the rest of the world. All the other social groups—workers, farmers, professional men, scientists, soldiers—exist under dictatorships, even though they exist in chains, in terror, in misery, and in progressive self-destruction. But there is no such group as businessmen under a dictatorship. Their place is taken by armed thugs: by bureaucrats and commissars. Businessmen are the symbol of a free society—the symbol of America. If and when they perish, civilization will perish. But if you wish to fight for freedom, you must begin by fighting for its unrewarded, unrecognized, unacknowledged, yet best representatives—the American businessmen." -Ayn Rand, 'Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal'
Posted by: johngalt at March 7, 2014 3:28 PM
But Terri thinks:

"How can a wise man fail to see this connection? Jonathan Haidt, " (regarding the virtuousness of Instagram used by the Dalai Lama)

If one could explain how the creator of Reavers can be pro-Obama, he would have his answer.

Posted by: Terri at March 7, 2014 5:36 PM

February 21, 2014

"Once Everyone Understands Capitalism, We'll Replace it"

Capitalism is as misunderstood as it is maligned. Mostly, I think, because of all the government "smoothing of rough edges." Dictionary.com defines capitalism as,

an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

But this must be some kind of brainwashing or something, cuz the internets give the real definition:

The system in which some people own businesses and stock and others have no choice but to work for them and generate surplus value is called capitalism.

I guess the people who do have a choice are born with a dollar sign on their bellies or some such.

This comes from a largely anonymous website that has as its homepage a 7-point bullet list explaining what capitalism is and why it is inferior to "many noncapitalist systems." Applying a new skill that JK taught me, bullet 1 misdefines capitalism and throws in a false criticism for good measure; bullet 7 baldly asserts that capitalism is obviously an inferior system; and bullets 2-6 attempt to establish the connection between the false premise and the premeditated "conclusion."

May I indulge the reader to consider my take on a few points?

1) "Capitalism increases wealth stratification" because capitalism increases wealth. Good, no?

2) "Wealth is power" but government is absolute power. Shall we talk about increased government?

3) I like to keep what I create or earn, and feel justified in doing so and supporting laws that protect my right to keep what's mine. No apology or defense is required. After all, it didn't exist before I made it.

4) There are no "classes" of people. There are individuals who choose in varying degrees to be productive, thrifty and ambitious - or not.

5) In order to end misery one must recognize that he is as capable of spending less than he earns as is anyone else. Since wealth is power, earn some and save some, then use it wisely.

6) What was wrong with wealth "stratification" in the first place? Can't you be happy enough with a home and some savings and a loving family that thinks the world of you because you can comfortably support them, despite what anyone else has?

"Unfair" is a word invented by social organizers to keep you feeling "poor, hopeless, desperate, distracted, overbusy, deluded, oppressed and generally miserable." Why not just be happy instead?

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:22 PM | Comments (4)
But T. Greer thinks:

You inspired me to look up the definitions of "capitalism" on Urban Dictionary. The results were funny.

Posted by: T. Greer at February 21, 2014 7:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, way more "fo' real" than I expected tho. Check it:

Capitalism has existed in a limited form in the economies of all hoods, but its modern importance dates at least from the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th century, when bankers, merchants, playas and industrialists (the bourgeoisie) began to displace landowners in political, economic, and social importance, particularly in Great Britain.

Comparing that era to ours there is a parallel between 18th century landowners and modern "one percenters" or, more directly, those with "stratified wealth" or "money for doing literally nothing but already having money" that seems to justify redistributing that wealth. After all, locking up all of a nation's wealth in the hands of a few families who then hand it down to their descendents generation after generation is not only unfair, it is counterproductive.

But there is a phenomenally important difference between land and capital wealth. Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

Land is fixed and bounded. Capital wealth is fungible and able to be created, not merely redistributed.

Or in the vernacular of the urban dictionary, "You peeps need make your own dough, cuz this playa done earned all this bling. Then you can keep yours - that's the fo' real deal. You can call it capitalism or some shit but I call it pwnage."

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2014 12:01 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at February 24, 2014 1:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not impressed, blog brother? I thought we might reach an underserved demo with this messaging.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2014 4:06 PM

February 20, 2014



UPDATE: Blog friend sc sends a link to an update. I suspect His Holiness whispered "Eppur si Mouve" when the thumbscrews came off -- but here's hoping.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Yes, capitalism is very good at producing and selling to us at a very low price, superior quality rope."

Far from a talk, we look forward to a conversation with His Holiness about how the free enterprise system can offer the best path toward happiness when predicated on ethical leadership, morality, and compassion for others.

And His Holiness looks forward to making sure everyone understands that compassion for others is morality.

I'm sorry, but I can't believe that His Holiness is a conduit to a future of moral capitalists who are lauded and respected. I expect he'll make sure they forever remain "guilty" and in proportion therein to the degree of one's financial success. If you find evidence to the contrary, however, I'm more than open to listen.

I had planned to comment entirely differently before reading the linked page. The original reply is still germane, but perhaps should be made without the originally intended sarcasm and cynicism. Instead I will optimistically say that defenders of liberty and capitalism can easily win over public opinion, for we merely need to correct this cartoonish popular notion of What is Capitalism?

(Originally I was going to link it within the quip, "What's not to like?")

Posted by: johngalt at February 21, 2014 11:41 AM

February 12, 2014

On Science and Faith in Politics

Think carefully for a moment about the phrase, "The science is settled." That would make the issue in question an "absolute" would it not? And absolutism is what Democrats of all flavors most often criticize Republicans for believing.

This is the topic of an entertaining column by Andrew Quinn at The Federalist. The fun begins with his headline: "The Party of Science Has Absolutely No Clue What It's Talking About."

To an intellectually honest observer, these findings compel more questions. What are reasonable expectations for health insurance? Should we be satisfied if Medicaid helps people sleep easier but makes them no healthier? Even if so, is health insurance the most effective way to convert taxpayer dollars into peace of mind for the poor?

Virtually no prominent progressives join center-right commentators in positing such questions.

Because, like most people, progressives are more comfortable with facts that agree with how their mind is already made up. But there is a difference between progressives and the rest of us: They have so convinced themselves that theirs is an ideology rooted in objective science, and any contradictory ideology is rooted in Revealed Truth, that they don't even recognize when their ideology becomes exactly that - an article of faith.

So the next time a Facebook friend tells you his ideas are scientific be sure to ask him for his Hypothesis, Evidence and Analysis that support his Conclusion. If you are sufficiently skeptical he will eventually balk. Then you can ask him to who's authority he is subservient. After all, "consensus" is just another way of saying "I don't want to know any more than I already know." And isn't that why they like to laugh at the Religious Right?

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:51 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Keen insight. Hear hear.

Seriously, I saw this and wanted to do something. You did it sooner and better. The only thing missing is the photo of Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Now ThreeSourcers will just have to click.

I had called those two out by name in a comment. Blog friend tg claimed that "scientists" were not at fault in overhyping DAWG, that it was "environmentalists" misusing them.

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2014 6:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Inasmuch as it's often impossible to separate the environmentalist from the scientist, you're both right.

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2014 7:08 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at February 13, 2014 10:18 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. I prefer to call myself "uniter, not divider."

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2014 5:29 PM

January 29, 2014

Dinesh D'Souza v. Bill Ayers

Tomorrow at 7:30 EST, 5:30 MST, Dinesh D'Souza will debate Bill Ayers - "What's So Great About America?"

Watch it live at http://live.dineshdsouza.com/

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:20 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Ayers claims that America is still a white-supremecist nation. Agree or disagree? Why?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2014 8:37 PM

January 27, 2014

Progress toward Xenophobia

Before I learned why, I wondered how an entire national population could support a government that murdered millions of its own citizens. Among other places, it happened in Nazi Germany when the populist regime whipped up anger and resentment against the small and distinct set of individuals who were identified by their Jewish heritage. On Saturday Tom Perkins, a co-founder of a successful investment firm, opined, "I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent." His short letter to WSJ ended thusly:

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent "progressive" radicalism unthinkable now?

Given attitudes like this being spoken out loud, in public, by prominent members of society, is there any wonder why President Obama and Congressional Democrats are sparing no effort to demonize the TEA Party, and anyone who says that everyone has a right to his own liberty and his own opinions, even the "obscenely" rich?

Yet every single commenter to this Fox Denver article on the subject is disapprobative of the "delusional" billionaire. Notably, however, none of them posits that there is not a "rising tide of hatred for the successful one percent." Instead, they just call him names. But apparently that's all it takes to win a philosophical battle in today's world, since even the firm Perkins founded threw him under the bus.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2014

All Hail Objectivism!

I ranted admitted in June 2012 that, of all the nonsense out there, Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me!" is among the most offensive.

David Mirman makes similar arguments to mine, if much more eloquently, today in The Objective Standard.

Some writers claim that [high school science teacher John] Cisna's all-McDonald's diet is unhealthy. Although Cisna and his students made an effort to make his diet nutritionally sound, that wasn't his primary purpose. As Cisna explains, the point of the experiment was not to recommend eating only McDonald's; "The point . . . is: Hey, it's a choice. We all have choices. It's our choices that make us fat. Not McDonald's."

Cisna has provided a dramatic demonstration of the fact that we guide our own fates by the choices we make. This is a truth that more Americans desperately need to grasp.


Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM | Comments (1)
But Joe KomaGawa thinks:

Before the person makes an intelligent choice, he or she has to a) ask the intelligent question, and b) get reliable, relatively objective, useful information from those questions.
Otherwise you might as well rely on listening to the advertising jingle to choose.In too many cases people don't have the right kind of education to ask the right questions, and secondly they may rely on biased answering sources for that information. And they don't know they are getting biased information.
Free, reliable unbiased information is not free, if you are not paying money for it, you are paying for the time and effort it takes to find it and education yourself to recognize honest, reliable information. Too many times we simply don't have time to pay that cost. I do this as much as anyone.
My dad used to quote some old conservative on the radio, I think he was a govenor of the Left Coast, and said, "There's no such thing as a free lunch", or something similar in meaning. that Left Coast govenor was right.

But in being right he was intent on selling something, he was setting up his own reelection, so you might say he wasn't giving us a free lunch, he was getting paid at the ballot box. Otherwise he wasn't going to waste his time giving out "free" advice.

Posted by: Joe KomaGawa at January 30, 2014 6:07 AM

January 10, 2014

Class War -- all where you draw the lines

If, for some reason, you do not have a low enough opinion of east coast yuppie scum, I refer you to Russ Douthat's perceptive yet disturbing NYTimes column. Douthat has found this mysterious new überprogressive voting block that launches candidates like Sen Elizabeth Warren (Wahoo McDaniels - MA) and Mayor Bill DeBlasio (Politburo - NYC) to victory. It's the poor, downtrodden, $400K earners who want to stick it to those who make five:

But is this constituency actually "a powerful voting bloc against inequality," or is it just a powerful voting bloc in favor of raising taxes on the super-rich? Because these aren't quite the same thing, and it seems to me that in New York and nationally, the class interests of the so-called HENRYs ("high earners, not rich yet") still basically align with some form of late-1990s Clintonism rather than the more sweeping post-Obama populism than liberals are getting excited about today. That is, the allegedly "radicalized" professional class would say yes, yes, to a higher top rate on the people currently outbidding them for schools and property (and making them feel the angst of status-income disequilibrium), and yes as well to the existing welfare state and entitlements that higher rate helps sustain. But the same feeling of precariousness that makes these radicalized professionals thrill to populist rhetoric also means they’re more likely to say no to anything that might require them to sacrifice their income (or, in case of a left-libertarian housing agenda, their brownstone property values) on behalf of their working class coalition partners.

Self-rule cannot prevail.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 4, 2014

An Objectivist Objection to "Mincome"

"Why do we see an article at the leading libertarian think tank (Cato) advocating legalized plunder on the basis of a philosophy that denies the possibility of rights? Because other libertarians characteristically ignore or deny the need to focus on philosophy at all--and, because, in philosophy, as in physics, nature abhors a vacuum." --Craig Biddle
The legalized plunder being the Basic Guaranteed Income (BIG), discussed on these pages by brother jg. You can put Mr. Biddle down as a "no." I am not compelled to abandon the idea based on his TOS article. His points are likely all true, but I think he is making the perfect the enemy of the good. Yet I have to give him points for the term "Bleeding Heart Libertarians." That's good.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

As do I but only under the conditions I specified, most importantly a flat tax with no low-income phase out. But how likely does anyone find that to pass Congress?

I assure you that I have no interest in egalitarianism. I am, after all, an Objectivist. I also have little to no confidence that a BIG would prevent, any more than the Constitution has failed to do so, any future redistribution programs. My proposal was offered at arms length, as an academic exercise. To their credit, none of my Republican friends or family took the bait. I suspect Zwolinski's proposal will go nowhere unless voters decide they haven't gotten liberalism "good and hard" enough yet and repeat the Democrat control era of 2009.

In conclusion I will explain how Biddle's prescription is more practical than it seems. First I must excerpt the paragraph that follows jk's excerpt:

When people fail to undergird political policy with morality and deeper philosophy, other people fill in the void with some philosophy or another. And if the basic premise of that fill-in philosophy is widely accepted or goes intellectually unchallenged—as egalitarianism is and does today—then the policies that follow from that philosophy will seem viscerally reasonable and, over time, will affect political policy.

Biddle's (and my) objective is to expose the immorality of the supporting philosophies of anti-liberty policies. Rather than explain to others how they will not "work" (as was attempted with the Obamacare debacle) we explain to others that they are inherently, morally and objectively "wrong." Why? Because man can choose whether or not to act in furtherance of his own life. Most who choose government aid over self-reliance would not do so if they recognized such behavior as "wrong." It has taken world socialists over fifty years to dismantle the Christian beliefs of "right and wrong." We have secular prescriptions for right and wrong at our fingertips, in the philosophy of Objectivism. Ultimately, those are the only antidote to the dominant philosophies of the left. Their adoption will herald a new renaissance. And yes, it may take another fifty years. In the meantime the legislative prescription is, to the greatest extent possible, gridlock.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 11:45 AM
But Jk thinks:

I didn't feel a groundswell of support either. I reckon it's not philosophically interesting enough for the work.

If a presidential candidate were to take it up, like The Herman Cain and 9-9-9, it might have legs.

Contra Biddle (and you?), Larry Kudlow calls for a Kemp-ian, safety net that is pro growth but can be sold to moderates as compassionate. It might not account for a recognition of the source of rights, but it might be a good sell.

Posted by: Jk at January 5, 2014 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The problem with moderates is the same as the problem with Libertarians - both are rudderless. It seems the best pro-liberty solution is "no new programs."

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 9:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Forgive me if I've plowed this fecund ground before, but . . .

I think the best pro-liberty solution is to win. Let a thousand lesser-evil memes bloom on Facebook, but the nation got ObamaCare® when our courageous Democratic compatriots controlled both houses of the legislature and the executive. Curiously, the same experiment in Colorado ended badly as well.

Moderates are worse than rudderless but are required to win. And the objectivist and libertarian positions both need some amelioration to succeed at the polls.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm looking for places to agree. Winning is good, but is winning without principle likely to deliver pro-liberty results? That hasn't been the case in the post-Reagan era.

Sometimes an idea wins when its unadulterated opposite gains sway for a time. This is the reason why George Will recently wished Comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio every success in his pursuit of egalitarian socialism in New York City. "I give him three years before voters are ready for another real mayor."

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2014 3:23 PM
But jk thinks:

If Rep. Tandredo (Populist Lunatic - CO) is the GOP nominee for gov, you'll get a chance to test my pragmatism live and up close. I have no prediction.

On "no principles," I guess we agree. But aside from a handful, I see many shades of grey (50?) in GOP principle. Ron Johnson's lawsuit against the Congressional ObamaCare waiver brings tears to my eyes. But, offered a Mulligan, I would nominate Lt. Gov. Jane Norton for the Senate race in 2010. I voted for Ken Buck and will do it again in a few months. But she likely would have won -- and she could and would have stopped ObamaCare. She shares fewer of my principles than AG Buck, but many more than Sen. Bennett.

I concede that it took courage on the part of Badger State GOPers to nominate Johnson. We've erred on both sides and need to find principles and packaging that win. I just do not trust Mister Biddle to be useful in finding that balance.

If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price or reform.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 5:18 PM

January 2, 2014

6 Crazy Ways jk thinks he's Martin Luther...

I'm not sure -- is this Upworthy thing working out?

But I want to politely reintroduce a topic that might be annoying a reader or two. This morning on Facebook, I trip across this from a wife of an old musician buddy. She is interesting in that she went in for both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Our true populist has seen through the lies and veneer of ObamaCare to become a fulsome opponent of the law and the administration's attempts to promote it. This has led to a string of fun posts.

Today, the streak breaks with: "Pope Francis Hurts The Tender Feelings Of A Billionaire Republican." Larry Kudlow had a segment on this (from a slightly different perspective). It seems Ken Langone is helping St. Patrick's Church raise funds:

Home Depot founder and investor Ken Langone, who is currently leading the $180 million fundraising efforts to complete the renovations on St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, recently told CNBC that a potential million dollar donor has voiced apprehension about donating to the project after Pope Francis critiqued trickle-down economics in November as "naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

"Give me a million to help me spread the word that you're wicked" is perhaps flawed as a fundraising theme. Although it would work pretty well on Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, I don't think either are Catholic.

I've read that this is just because he is from Argentina or that the Media has distorted his words and cherry-picked small economic statements from a larger work. All well and good, but he has to know his audience and the power of his pulpit. And this is where it leads.

Why doesn't Pope Francis support the GOP?

That's a tricky question. Maybe it's because in the richest country in the world the rich have invested enormous amounts of money in order to bribe pay off buy persuade politicians. Their goal? To cut food stamps to hungry children, deny healthcare to the sick and otherwise slash the social safety net all while giving more tax breaks to the already mega-wealthy. Whatever could Pope Francis find objectionable about that?

But poor Ken isn't buying it (an unusual experience for him, no doubt):

The snarky lefty populist post is moderately entertaining if you know the backstory, but it caught at least one who did not. She said "looks like somebody is irritating the right people!"


Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2014

"Get in line" my a$$

I appreciated the props from jk for recognizing early on that the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle was a seminal moment in American politics. American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord has a very good article that explains why. Here is but one insightful passage:

The key to GLAAD’s millions [of tax-exempt profits] — and the power all these "fascist bands" have exercised over the last several decades — is guilting Americans into believing that if they don't go along with the latest "non-negotiable" left-wing demand they are somehow…well….pick one. Racist, homophobic, pro-war, greedy, sexist and on and on and on…yada yada yada. In fact, one is doubtless more than safe in suspecting that in those millions of Phil Robertson fans are people with gay family or friends who decidedly could not be considered "anti-gay" -- but refuse to sit by silently and watch an obviously good person be lynched in the name of some left-wing conception of gay rights.

What's happened here with this Phil Robertson episode is more than about Mr. Robertson himself. Much more.

The backlash against A&E and GLAAD says in plain language that Americans are fed up with being routinely confronted by Reagan's "cowardly little fascist bands."

Read it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2013

Semi-open Thread

Happy Boxing Day!

Blog friend sc sends a link to an interesting post.

God, Hayek and the Conceit of Reason

Friedrich Hayek: In later life he worked on his moral philosophy

A quarter of a century ago, Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, published his final contribution to his considerable corpus, an eloquent exposition of his enduring concerns. But The Fatal Conceit (1988) sought not to recapitulate the intricacies of his economic thought (despite its subtitle, "The Errors of Socialism"), or to revisit his postulated and widely celebrated connection of economic collectivism and political tyranny. Rather, he was now, four years from his death, occupied in this short and forgotten volume with one of the most fundamental questions of humankind: the basis and preservation of our civilisation.

Anybody want to play? I will post my response in the comments.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:30 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I'll give a little more thought to it, but if you'll permit a reflexive response, I don't know anybody who considers Hayek a paragon of Atheism like Christopher Hitchens or Penn Jillette. The greatest anti-religion line I ever heard was rather from (our blog sister dagny) that religion requires giving power to another human. On about every spiritual path, there is some priest/bishop/shaman/monk whatever gets to tell you what to do.

The Fatal Conceit admonishes us to distribute and not centralize power. I share with ol' Friedrich August a deep appreciation for the contributions of the faithful to an orderly and free society from Calvinism through Rick Warren. But that Pope of yours... :)

So, Neumann's piece is well said, but he cannot claim the mantle of Hayek and tell people to follow Pope Francis and call for more socialism. A Spontaneous Order of competing and distributed religions can contribute to liberty as competing and distributed corporations.

Is that a denouncement of Reason? I think it is the conceit of reason that I can reason up a new healthcare plan for you. But I am not sure it contradicts Reason qua Reason.

Merry Christmas!

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2013 1:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe I've left sufficient time for others to have their say before I start bellowing on this thread.

[1]The fatal conceit itself, he explained, is excessive faith in reason, based on an erroneous and dangerous notion that we can construct what in fact we must inherit or learn. [2] This conceit is fatal because it results in the collapse of society and the return to savage instinct. [3] Rather, morality lies between instinct and reason, and "learning how to behave is more the source than the result of insight, reason, and understanding".

Huh? We have a few problems here with the premise.

[1] Reason is how we integrate what we inherit and what we learn, not a fabrication from whole cloth, as is implied.

[2] It is non sequitur that integrating what we inherit and what we learn leads to a return to "savage" instinct.

[3] Moral behavior is not de facto a balance between instinctive or rational behavior. This is merely a back door into the guilt centers of men who act on reason. (You "know" that behavior is not moral, or at least you "should" know, if you are a moral man.) But the only part of this that appears to be quoting Hayek, and a fragment at that, is "learning how to behave is more the source than the result of insight, reason, and understanding." Translation: Rather than behaving with a consistent application of insight, reason and understanding, do what you are told to do.

Sounds an awful lot like what dagny said.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2013 4:00 PM
But jk thinks:

You were forcing a polite latency. I thought you had been abducted, sedated, or were stuck beneath your tractor; I was about ready to phone the Weld County Sheriff.

[2] puts me in mind of Jonathan Haidt or Arnold Kling [Review Corner]: "The second dominant heuristic is one I associate with conservatives (henceforth Cs). Cs, who are likely to respond Y to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of civilization and barbarism."

The tension twixt Conservatives and Libertarians is similar to -- if not the basis of the secular libertarian - religious split.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2013 4:48 PM

December 24, 2013


David Boaz asks whether this is the same Cracked we grew up with. Whoever they are, they field a very good list of 5 Amazing Pieces of Good News Nobody Is Reporting. [SPOILER ALERT]:

#1. Worldwide, Poverty Is Dropping at a Shocking Rate

And these aren't just statistical tricks here -- when they calculate this, they're not just counting income, they account for total living conditions -- infrastructure, schools, access to clean water, everything. A billion people have that stuff for the first time. And what's really encouraging is that this all happened three years ahead of the official estimates, which pegged 2015 as the soonest such a lofty goal could be achieved.

So how did this happen? International aid helped, but the big jump has been in the increased participation of previously isolated countries in international trade. You know how people are always complaining about how "they're shipping our jobs overseas!" Well, this is where they went -- to people who previously had no jobs at all. And that boom that swept across China and India is expected to continue in places like Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Rwanda -- all of the places you previously only heard about in the context of heart-breaking ads begging for donations. If things continue at this pace, countries like Nepal and Bangladesh would likely see extreme poverty shrink to near-nonexistent levels.

On the down side, Cracked.com still loads so many scripts and banners and pop up attempts that it will take you three minutes to load each page. But it's Christmas; be nice.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2013

Uncle Sam's Allowance

Last month blog friend T Greer suggested "a lump-sum 'demogrant' or Milton Friedman's negative taxes" as a funding alternative for private health insurance, which would replace Obamacare. His premise was that the needy could be provided for with minimal distortions to the free market. I found the idea meritorious and proposed extending it to every area of government assistance, replacing every single solitary government aid program with an unrestricted cash income for every adult. I pitched it as "Uncle Sam's Allowance" to be used in an otherwise purely capitalistic unregulated free-market."

I was hoping for robust discussion but even TG was mute. Re-reading my proposal today I see I was very short on details of the principle, but a segment on last week's MSNBC Krystal Ball show brings the idea into mainstream conversation. Prompted by a publicity stunt in Switzerland she asked why not "eliminate poverty" by giving everyone a minimum income or "mincome" from the government?

"Every non-incarcerated adult citizen gets a monthly check from the government. Other safety net programs are jettisoned to help pay for the mincare, and poverty is eliminated."

First off, I might never have taken such an idea seriously had I not read Friedman propose a negative income tax or R.A. Heinlein describe a birthright paycheck from a fabulously productive and prosperous civil society. But I and Reason's Matthew Feeney am willing to entertain this proposal by Ball, although my conditions may be non-starters for her. Nonetheless, I would like a discussion here on the subject because I agree with Feeney's conclusion:

"Rather than make the principled argument against the redistribution of wealth, libertarians would do better if they were to argue for a welfare system that promotes personal responsibility, reduces the humiliations associated with the current system, and reduces administrative waste in government."

Very well, here are my Terms:

1) ALL other safety net programs must be jettisoned. Permanently.

2) Executive branch agencies created to carry out safety net programs must be jettisoned. Permanently.

3) Mincome payments must not be means tested. Everyone qualifies and is due the same monthly (or weekly) amount, regardless of income or wealth.

4) Anyone who does not voluntarily decline his mincome is ineligible to vote.

I won't go into all of the advantages of this system since most of you are already preparing to pounce on it's failings. Let me address one of them preemptively - immigration.

Expand the system beyond national borders. Make it internationally universal. I haven't run any numbers but my starting point for negotiating the monthly mincome is to divide the cumulative sum of every national tax in the world by the number of adult humans in the world, and negotiate downward from there. Instead of funding waste and corruption we could be giving cash to folks to "feed their families." What could be more swell?

I still have my doubts. Give some people a dollar and they will demand two, then three. But at least such a plan would make the nature and extent of redistribution fully transparent, rip out government waste fraud and abuse root and limb, and make it possible to cease the practice where the takers are permitted to vote the amount of their share from the makers.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:16 PM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

In further support of condition #4, I see it as a valuable self-selection incentive to strip off 75% of potential recipients.

Posted by: johngalt at December 25, 2013 8:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An important omission from condition 3 is that all persons receive equal treatment under law including, not least of all, an equal rate of taxation. This would result in 20-25% of allowance disbursements coming back into the treasury. The net result is more recipents or, heaven forfend, a reduction in expenditures.

Posted by: johngalt at December 25, 2013 9:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So the most important novelty of my plan seems to be the replacement of means testing and phase outs with every individual having a choice between voting in any elections whatsoever or receiving a government allowance.

My over-under for the allowance choosers is in the range of 25% but that is strictly conjectural. Here's a poll question for you:

If government offered to pay you $225 per week, taxed as income, in return for NOT voting in any government elections, would you accept or decline?
Posted by: johngalt at December 25, 2013 9:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Very Heinleinian.

But I think it rubs against a respect (bordering on adulation) for the franchise. Since the Constitution was adopted it has been amended four times to expand the franchise. Speaking of, does your plan run afoul of emanations and penumbras the 24th?

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

I understand and sympathize with your reasons. But the blog pragmatist sees a big sell in trading all welfare for the mincome, thereby testing tg's belief in the fundamental fiscal chops of the disadvantaged. I don't share his sanguinity but agree that private charity can bridge any gaps.

But to sell that with a diminution of the franchise seems a double stuff of difficult positioning.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2013 10:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It's always a challenge to limit the scope of these pie in the sky plans, whether in practice or mere postulation. I take your point about complicating the tradeoff but tell me how it can possibly succeed, long-term, without severing the "vote for more stuff" linkage?

I see a reshaping of the democratic process as a necessary precondition for consenting to "just a little" redistribution. Keep things the way they are and the esteemed producer's only resort is to Go Galt.

Is trading one's franchise for a state allowance Constitutional? Why not, if it is a matter of reversable (on no shorter than an annual basis) choice? Besides, that Amendment is closer to FDR than to Jefferson and Madison. And it also has an "out" - "2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2013 12:07 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

It strikes me as politically unfeasible. I am not sure how necessary it will be either - in his discussion of a demogrant Charles Murray made a sharp observation: every time anyone tries to change the amount paid it will become the biggest political issue in the arena, for their won't be any other social issues in the arena. Every adjustment will be battled over ferociously. It won't be easy for it to be changed often and it will be hard for the payment's size to "creep" larger.

I think if we simply made it a requirement that a supermajority must approve changes in the payment size then most of the potential problems would go away.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 28, 2013 12:25 PM

December 4, 2013

Pendulum Swings Right in Partisan Divide


From the IBD Editorial Dems Are The Out-of-Touch Extremists

The only reason Obama and his fellow Democrats aren't constantly tagged as extreme is because the press is so far left that it treats them as reasonable centrists. Meanwhile, by skewing the polls, the increasingly radicalized Democratic Party manages to make the country appear more liberal than it really is.

I would say "more socialist" instead of more liberal. I still believe Americans are quite liberal in the classical sense, i.e. individual liberty.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2013

The Commercialization of Cyber Monday Continues...

I love Professor McCloskey's books (I may have mentioned that once or twice...) but I had never seen her until, oh, two minutes and 55 seconds ago. Pretty good:

Posted by John Kranz at 4:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2013

McCloskey for Pope!

James Pethokoukis posts a response from ThreeSources' Fave (or at least jk's) Deirdre McCloskey to Pope Francis's latest whack at Capitalism.

I'm going to lift it in its entirety -- sorry Mr. Brooks! You can click through for backstory and Jimi's introduction.

Friedrich Hayek, the modern master of what people in the USA call "libertarianism" and what others call "real liberals," once wrote an essay entitled "Why I Am Not a Conservative." He was not a conservative, nor am I or Robert Nozick or Tom Palmer or Donald Boudreaux or Ronald Hamowy or John Locke or Thomas Paine or (the Blessed) Adam Smith.

I am a Christian Liberal. That is, I believe on the one hand that in human affairs the best policy is to let people alone to exercise their creativity. Such creativity has made the modern world. We should take power away from the massive modern state, which so often follows the Other Golden Rule: Those who have the gold, rule. States are corrupted by the rich …

But on the other hand as a Christian I also believe that as a spiritual affair we should love God and love God's creatures, that is, our neighbors as ourselves. (It is Jewish and Muslim law, too: Rabbi Hillel was asked to summarize the law and the prophets while standing one leg. His reply was: to love God , the commandments 1-4, and our neighbors, 5-10.) In consequence, unlike fatherly and unChristian liberals, I believe in helping the poor.

At a meeting libertarians/liberals last year in the Bahamas I expressed to someone what I thought was an axiom, "But of course we all want to help the poor." He instantly retorted, "No: only if they help me." It took my breath away. I want to help the poor, period, not only as part of an exchange ... And my liberal part adds to my Christian duty: Help the poor really, not by making them unemployable by raising the minimum wage, or uneducated by forcing them into public schools, or violent and victimized by outlawing recreational drugs.

UPDATE: Need we add a "Papal Encyclicals" category? An alert reader offers a link to this commentary by Rev. James Martin. Plus an admonition to be wary of accepting a WaPo summary of anything that concerns economics or Catholicism.
Evangelii Gaudium is difficult to summarize, so wide-ranging is it. Ironically, something that would at first appear to be a narrow topic -- how to spread the Gospel today -- offers Francis the latitude to address many topics in his trademark open style. The exhortation moves easily from a discussion on joy as a requirement for evangelization, to how "personal dialogue" is needed for any authentic invitation into the faith, to the difficulty of being a church when Catholics are "warring" against one another, to the need for priests and deacons to give better homilies, to an overriding concern for the poor in the world -- the last being a special concern of the Pope.

To that end, some will be surprised that Francis champions an idea that has lately been out of favor: the church's "preferential option" for the poor. "God's heart has a special place for the poor," the Pope says. But it is not enough simply to say that God loves the poor in a special way and leave it at that. We must be also vigilant in our care and advocacy for them. Everyone must do this, says the Pope.

I would refer his excellency to last week's Review Corner or perhaps Prof. McCloskey. Sometimes a little bit of trading in the back of thy Father's House can do more than alms.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

"Help the poor" what? Eat for a day? Get a smartphone and a flatscreen TV? Not be poor?

I'm in if your answer is "c" but what if a poor man wants to be poor, likes being poor, doesn't want to be not poor? Isn't that a whole heckuva lot like helping Afghanis and Iraqis be democrats?

Personally I prefer to tell people, "If you like your socioeconomic status, you can keep your socioeconomic status. Period."

And I really do mean period, not semi-colon.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2013 2:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought we might get a good argument going, but now you have me laughing too hard. Hahahahahaha -- that is a very good line.

How about: deeply want to improve the situation and opportunity potential of less fortunate. Say I want the public schools to be better even if I choose private (or have no children). Even less directly, I wish they'd use nickel DDT in Africa instead of $10 nets so fewer would get Malaria.

Or, in Professor McCloskey's case: establish respect for freedom and commerce that will augment opportunities for all. You against that, Champ?

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2013 2:42 PM
But AndyN thinks:

jg - In The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, having grown up in poverty despite her mother having access to family wealth, recalls having a professor blow up at her in class for suggesting that not all street people are where they are because they lack resources. Some people just insist on believing that everybody can be lifted to some arbitrary level of non-poverty, if only we spend just a little more.

As for your foreign policy analogy... Every time Afghans or Iraqis make the news it seems like it's for abusing women and minorities while blaming their problems on somebody else and asking the US government to send them more of my money. I don't think they need anybody to help them figure out how to be Democrats, they seem to have it down pat.

Posted by: AndyN at November 26, 2013 3:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's right Andy, and even spending just a little more doesn't satisfy the demand. Then they will call for just a little higher arbitrary level, or something else, to justify "just a little more" yet again. It's like the president learned yesterday while pandering to illegal immigration activists. At least some of them are still "very disappointed by what he said." Giving away the unearned is a tricky business.

And I'm against none of what jk enumerates. What I said above is meant to address the word "opportunities" vis-a-vis the word "all." While they exist for all, and can be expanded for all, there is no level of opportunity that will be seized by all. Nanny statists believe that free stuff meets that bar but even then, some will turn it down. So why harm the able by treating them as unable? The nanny statists just don't understand this basic trait of human nature.

And also, perhaps even more importantly, on the subject of "all" I want to attack Pope McCloskey's assertion that "of course we all want to help the poor." This is a false premise that justifies state redistribution in the place of private charity. I reject it out of hand. If someone only wants to help someone who helps him in return that is his moral right. (And if you raise your children the way you describe it is no wonder why they are neurotic and maladjusted.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2013 4:43 PM

November 21, 2013

On Solidarity

Blog friend tgreer tweets a link to a compelling article.by Brandon McGinley in The Federalist: Obama Meant to Destroy Solidarity, Not Save It

Solidarity--the concept that we have concrete duties to others with whom we share society, especially the poor and marginalized--has never been a word with much cachet in American politics. It's not that Americans lack compassion for the poor; we appreciate the concept, but not so much the word itself.

Not only is this due to the importance of individualism to the American mythos, but it is also presumably due to the fact that the concept of solidarity is primarily associated with Catholic social teaching. And the relationship between America and the Catholic Church has been, to use the parlance of Facebook, complicated.


ThreeSourcers will enjoy a sound and consistent refutation of the Administration's complicity in facilitating the dependence society. [I will not rewrite that sentence; it is unwieldy but it says what I mean.] My favorite is its tying the controversial Brosurance and Hosurance PSAs to the Administration's "Life of Julia;"

"The Life of Julia" is, of course, presidential campaign propaganda, and so we should expect a focus on federal interventions in Julia's life. What is extraordinary is how alone Julia is. She has none of the connections or responsibilities that are intrinsic to natural human society. Her only duties are those which she chooses--even having a child is rendered sterile, framed as a discrete, consumerist, individual decision, rather than the natural result of forming a family with another person. And it is the state--specifically in the person of President Obama--that is promoted as enabling this alienation.

Now think back to the "Got Insurance?" campaign. The ads are not about fulfilling social responsibilities and liberation from want, but fulfilling personal desires and liberation from responsibilities. They, like Julia, posit a society in which we are responsible for no one and no one is responsible for us--except, in both cases, the state.

Even having a child is rendered sterile, framed as a discrete, consumerist, individual decision, rather than the natural result of forming a family.

And whereas previous generations of big government advocates suggested that federal bureaucracies fulfill our own moral responsibilities to our fellow citizens, even that facade has eroded. It's no longer about us taking care of our brethren through the medium of government so much as it is government, as an entity distinct from the people, taking care of all of us.

Pretty good stuff, non?

Those not still choking on the lede and our "concrete duties to others with whom we share society, especially the poor and marginalized" will cough a lung at the conclusion.

Conservatives can't condemn political marketing like "Life of Julia" or "Got Insurance?," then pivot and peddle our own hackneyed individualism. We must be the voice for civil society, for social responsibility, for solidarity. We cannot let solidarity die, because with it will pass away limited government as well.

Compelling. I bristle at the dismissal of "Individualism" even if I overestimate ThreeSourcers' opposition. But just as Burkean fuddy-duddy law and order is a sturdy foundation for liberty, the Tocquevillian formation is worthy of consideration.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Whew, I'm dizzy! I credit Michael "heck of a job, Brownie" Brown for the following clarification: Solidarity on the part of individuals, voluntarily, revokably, is virtuous - solidarity on the part of government, collectivism, is tyranny.

I read the piece as admonishment to libertarian Republicans to acquiesce to the social conservatives policy positions, lest our civil society be crushed by the tyranny of collectivism. But the social conservatives adhere to their own form of tyranny. I prefer to agitate in favor of "liberty and justice for all" contra tyranny "A" or tyranny "B."

All this said, I am willing to support social programs that are voluntary and include both incentives and disincentives to promote self-reliance. After all, I am neither a heartless superman nor an evolved primate.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2013 6:33 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... the concept of solidarity is primarily associated with Catholic social teaching..."

I'll defer to the experiences of other ThreeSourcers on that one, but I have to say, apart from the Polish movement of that name, the only context I ever heard that word in was in leftist rallies and demonstrations. I don't think I ever even heard the word prior to arriving at Berkeley in 1975, and then I heard it about every fifteen feet walking through Sproul Plaza. I'd never thought of "solidarity" as a primarily Catholic concept. Your thoughts?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 22, 2013 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

Aside from Michael Novak, Catholic social teaching is indistinguishable from "leftist rallies and demonstrations."

My big-C Catholic schooling was in the post-deconstruction feel good 70's and I did not get a doctrinaire-enough exposure to put myself forward with any confidence. God was groovy and we should help others. Solidarity does not ring a bell but that is not dispositive.

The church has pretty routinely supported leftist causes ever since. Even the aversion to abortion will not allow them to support an (egads!) Republican!

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2013 11:50 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

I apologize for not getting to this thread earlier.

I am not an individualist. Not in the least.

For two reasons I suppose.

On the one hand, I think despotic governments really like individualists. First things totalitarian type governments do when they come to power: tear apart civil society and every source of 'solidarity' outside of the state itself. Crush the churches, divide the clans, outlaw the civic clubs, ban the guilds, tear up families. Why? Well, it is a lot easier to squash an individual than people with 'solidarity.' Despots love individualists. They love people who reject things like 'duty' and embrace things like 'selfishness.' Those things isolate. Those people are easy to crush.

Secondly, I tend to think that a strong, vigorous civic society is necessary for a healthy community, country, and civilization. When people work together of their own free will they can accomplish great things. I think back to antebellum America and the crazy accomplishments of those men and women. When this 'solidarity' starts to fall away then many of the things people did by themselves for the betterment of others are left undone.... and then people start to step in and ask the government to do it. I really believe that certain 'collective' things need to be done for society to work. A strong civic society can accomplish many of these things without coercion. Voluntarily.

So yep, that is what I liked about this article, I think.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 27, 2013 12:50 AM

November 1, 2013

"M for Mankind"

Promoted to embed from a comment by brother Keith, offered in response to melancholy references to the archaic and the obsolete, that among these are the idea that every man is an end within himself. And yes, it is today's ACA Horror Story.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

It has been said, and I would agree, that the best of science fiction grows out of social commentary - a projected future based on the present. Heinlein's "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress," Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles," Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" all being fine examples. Rand's "Anthem" could be included here as well. Serling's work in the Twilight Zone often stood in this stream as well.

Thank you for the kind mention, too -

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 1, 2013 4:48 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I love the Twilight Zone. If only TV had something so thought provoking today....

Posted by: T. Greer at November 2, 2013 5:12 AM
But jk thinks:

The blog contrarian is warming up... I want to wait until I watch the clip. I don't remember this episode and it sounds superb.

But please good people, go easy on the TV nostalgia in my presence. I will comment on the Twilight Zone episode and try to find a link to Jonah Goldberg's making my point better that I can.

But the point is that, while Twilight Zone was swell, this has filtered to the top out of the tons of nonsense of the time.

What saddens some TheeeSourcers is the expectation of intellectual capacity that we see in Twilight Zone or the Johnny Carson interview of Ayn Rand. It is certainly pitched to a lower common denominator these days.

But take away Rod Serling and you're left with I Love Lucy, Dick van Dyke, Andy Griffith and Hogan's Heroes. All of whom have their charms (well, maybe not Hogan), but compare poorly to Buffy, Firefly, the Miami Vice episode with Willie Nelson playing the Texas Ranger, Castle, Eureka, Defiance, and my new show Sleepy Hollow.

That, and a three-network lock on information that we're just beginning to crack at the edges. I'm less than nostalgic.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2013 1:58 PM

September 17, 2013

Better Than any Movie!

Making the rounds on Facebook. The three minute commercial that puts all movies to shame. Better than the last movie you saw. People really do love this.

Funny, it seems rather like every movie you see. Is it that well done? May I use the term "cloying?"

But I don't post so that I can whack it down. (Of course, if anyone else wants to, go ahead). I post it to remind ThreeSourcers that Jonathan Haidt is correct and there are multitudes out there that see the world this way, wish the world were this way, and enjoy wishing.

UPDATE: The second I post this, I see The 51st State Initiative has posted the video.

Great three minute video about paying it forward. We have a long road ahead of us in the dozens of communities impacted by this tragedy. We are Coloradans. We will band together and take care of each other! Pass it on!

Goin' to bed...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:43 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

As much as not, the world IS this way. That is because ours is a world of prosperity where most can afford to give, when they choose, when they believe it will make a difference, and thus bring themselves a feeling of happiness. Such a way of life is enabled by prosperity, but disabled by the myriad things which diminish prosperity: Regulation, redistribution, unearned guilt.

This could also be an Obamacare ad- "Obamacare: Because not all of us can do something nice for our doctor 30 years before we fall ill." But the rebuttal is this- "Any doctor can treat one patient pro-bono; no doctor can treat every patient pro-bono."

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2013 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

One my first thoughts: "Too bad they don't have ObamaCare® in Thailand."

Second: "What is the exchange rate for the Bhat -- jeeburz!"

Third: "Why do we not celebrate that the poor child grew up to be a doctor, enjoying challenging work, saving countless lives, and able -- as you say -- to help others? Is that not a better story than some bizarre confluence?"

I am not certain why this bugs me as much as it does. My employer has opened some office space to a Jamestown company that lost everything in the flood and I am literally tearful with pride. The Pay-it-forward people are missing the point. Helping is its own great joy and if somebody helps you, swell. Trying to construct a worldview around it robs charity of its majesty.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2013 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think it bugs you because it's a short bicycle or electric-car ride from charity to altruism. If that bridge could be wiped out by a flash flood the world would be a better place.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2013 5:35 PM
But jk thinks:

But but but -- you're the anti-Compte-altruism guy. I was posting to see if it would "make your head explode like that guy in Scanners.'

Pay-it-forward-ism is a perversion of altruism, or at least of benevolence. All this swell Karma is going to come back around. It replaces capitalism and reason at some level. Buckley would say it immanentizes the eschaton. We all just take care of each other and the others take care of us.

What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2013 10:40 AM
But johngalt thinks:

It's difficult for one to say "sacrifice yourself for others" without using words. I took the gift of food and medicine as charity, not sacrifice. If he went hungry and endured pain so that another might not, then I'd be howlin'. OR, if some third party [tax man] compelled the charity.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2013 3:39 PM

September 13, 2013

Got an hour to kill?

Much as I admire George Will, I have derided him on occasion as a conventional wisdom guy. I take all of that back. He and I have some differences but they are all well founded and philosophically consistent on "the Indiana Whig."

Click it on, you can work. But this is a masterful interview:

Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2013

Objectivist Food Fight!

At The Objective Standard Blog, Robert Begley takes up a ThreeSources-esque argument. He rightfully dishes approbation for T. J. Rodgers's Wall Street Editorial "Targeting the Wealthy Kills Jobs." But...

But he also shares disappointment that the argument is not rights-based.

Such an answer implies that the reason Rodgers should be free to use his wealth as he sees fit is so that he can provide more jobs for others. But the reason a producer should be free to keep and use his wealth is not that this will enable him to create jobs for others. Of course, it will--but that's not the justification. The justification for a producer's freedom to keep and use his wealth is that he has a moral right to keep and use it, a right grounded in the fact that he produced the wealth through his own thinking and effort--and the fact that he, like all individuals, is morally an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others.

It is easier to follow the argument when you're not in it and I take Begley's point. At the same time it strikes me as an argument not worth having. One of the greatest Capitalists of our generation shares a true defense of freedom -- not the rent-seeking "business" pep talk we get from so many of his peers. If T.J. Rodgers thought his right to earn was beamed down from a satellite circling a Jovian moon by sentient badgers, I'd be tempted to say "cool."

We can choose to argue or not, but I wanted to share a story. I ran into blog brother Bryan at our place of employment (the Capitalist running dogs who supervise us allow a slight bit of conversation....) The lovely bride and I shared our enthusiasm for the 51st State Initiative. Bryan was sympathetic but dismissive. I hope I paraphrase fairly when I say "good idea, but they have no chance in hell; not sure I care to devote too much energy toward such a quixotic task."

The talk then turned toward Objectivism and the need to step outside politics and train everyone in ethics. Y'know, an easy and attainable goal...

Chains yanked.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Ironically, I think TJ is a Randian (now an accepted term?) and would agree with Begley's analysis. Yet he still makes the case on altruistic grounds. Why? Because he wants to win the day, not transform civilization. I want to do both, so I endorse making both cases. As often as possible.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2013 4:21 PM

August 13, 2013

On Religion in Government

The infamous Internet Segue Machine brought this page to my screen today, offering a hand of friendship to Ralph Benko, who asks the GOPs libertarians to "bend a bit." I read it as the author counseling the faithful to keep Truth and law in their separate and proper stations.

Throughout his work, Lewis infused an interconnected worldview that championed objective truth, moral ethics, natural law, literary excellence, reason, science, individual liberty, personal responsibility and virtue, and Christian theism. In so doing, he critiqued naturalism, reductionism, nihilism, positivism, scientism, historicism, collectivism, atheism, statism, coercive egalitarianism, militarism, welfarism, and dehumanization and tyranny of all forms. Unlike “progressive” crusaders for predatory government power over the peaceful pursuits of innocent people, Lewis noted that "I do not like the pretensions of Government - the grounds on which it demands my obedience - to be pitched too high. I don’t like the medicine-man’s magical pretensions nor the Bourbon’s Divine Right. This is not solely because I disbelieve in magic and in Bossuet’s Politique. I believe in God, but I detest theocracy. For every Government consists of mere men and is, strictly viewed, a makeshift; if it adds to its commands 'Thus saith the Lord,' it lies, and lies dangerously."

Yes, "Lewis" is indeed C.S. Lewis, a thinker and author I had previously dismissed as an overt religionist. It appears the waters of his writing run deeper that that, and I am eager to go for a swim. I have made glacial progress in the winning of hearts and minds with the teachings of Rand. Perhaps I can have more success, in a practical endeavor, quoting Lewis and others who admire him. A good starting place may well be the founder and president of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, David J. Theroux.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 8, 2013

"Liberal" vs. "Conservative" is worthless

It's actually worse that worthless, it's misleading: Conservative isn't always good and liberal always bad.

The National Journal ranks Todd Akin the "most conservative" representative but as br'er JK notes, "he has much to answer for." Far more than just canceling Firefly.

And then we have "most liberal" which, amongst Republicans, is hung by the old guard [thought of something besides "establishment" to use there] around the necks of the so-called libertarians like Justin Amash, Rand Paul, and probably even Ted Cruz. From where I sit being "liberal," as in preferring liberty of individuals from coercion, is a compliment. That's why it irked me when Louisiana's Elbert Guillory said that "liberalism has nearly destroyed the black community, and it's time for the black community to return the favor."

In this otherwise excellent announcement of the Free at Last PAC, which observes that,

"Our communities are just as poor as they have always been. Our schools continue to fail children. Our prisons are filled with young black men who should be at home being fathers."

Guillory also said that "Democrat leadership has failed the black community." This is closer to the mark. I understand that "liberalism" is a modern euphemism for socialist, redistributionist, egalitarian policies but while those labels are, to some, too judgmental or extreme, liberalism is too vague and nebulous. I will suggest to Guillory, and to Free at Last PAC, that instead they name the precise cause - Progressivism. And yes, Democrats.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:05 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Those two words are completely worthless unless you know your audience. I'll never call anybody but myself a liberal: leftists do not deserve the appellation.

As we've discussed frequently, there is no scalar quantity, though everybody wants it reduced to one. Me, I still love The Nolan Chart.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2013 10:11 AM

August 5, 2013

Human Ichneumonidae

I'm quite sure blog brother jk linked the George Will piece on Detroit already, but I just got around to reading it today via a still prominent position on the IBD Ed page. It contains an analogy just as apt as Starnesville.

The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"

Detroit's union bosses and "auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities" were not, however, quite as intelligent as the lowly ichneumonidae. They knawed right through the alimentary canal. Why did the executives go along? Did they not know the lavish compensations were unsustainable? This matters little, for government followed the private-sector lead:

Then city officials gave their employees - who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards - pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers.

Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction - government negotiating with government-employees' unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.

And grow it did, in Detroit and in cities and states as far and wide as union influence stretched.

Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was "the arsenal of democracy," died of democracy.

Yet democracy lives on, an unnoticed and unindicted threat to the life of all American cities, states, and nation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Ichneumonidae Appreciation Society is suing Will for this scurrilous comparison...

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:06 PM

July 26, 2013

Chris Christie: libertarianism "very dangerous"

At the Republican Governors Association gathering in Aspen, CO this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sounded the alarm against the danger of too many people having too much freedom.

"As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought," Christie said.

Christie's statement was in the context of the narrowly defeated bill that would have reduced funding for NSA collection of Americans' phone records, a subject that Christie dismissed as "esoteric."

Rand Paul tweeted a response:

Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.

But what I really want to know is, where the hell is the libertarian streak that's going through the Democrat party right now?

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:08 PM | Comments (10)
But AndyN thinks:

I once encountered a young leftist (who didn't think he was a leftist) arguing that Anthony Weiner isn't a leftist, he's a left-libertarian. Yeah, I know, it makes about as much sense as claiming that George W Bush was a serious conservative based on his campaigning on compassionate conservatism. Unfortunately, that's about as deep as most people's political understanding runs - if you say you think people should be allowed to get stoned and engage in consequence-free sex, you're a libertarian regardless of how much big government intrusion in our lives your actions actually support.

Posted by: AndyN at July 27, 2013 1:14 PM
But jk thinks:

@AndyN; That's why I find primaries to be more fun; the IQ skips up at least a few points. But the GOP needs to pick somebody who can be sold to the low-information voter. That may or may not come to play in this, but Christie may enter as "the guy who won twice and big in a very blue state." That is ignored at liberty's peril.

@jg: Do we differ much? I'll go with the Gutfield quote and even admit that I am under-educated on Paul's foreign policy. My data points are an absolutism on NSA and a rush to pull foreign aid. Both are pretty popular-to-populists but I am willing to endure a little more nuance. Perhaps President Rand Paul will grow in office as Obama did and end up at a perfect place.

Both Paul and Christie are extremely effective explainers of liberty. No doubt I'll disagree with both, but I'd be happy with either.

My point, contra Gutfeld, is that the libertarians are running for the exits a few months early this season. They wonder why they have no political power, but they can't play like grownups. The second somebody says something "impure" they'll vow never to vote for him/her again -- off to Gary Johnson 2016 and we have not even had the midterms.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2013 5:54 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I am reading this slightly differently.


I think Gov Christie's remarks need to be placed in context. Two things happened this week that serve as the immediate context for his remarks.

1. The vote on the NSA funding amendment, as JG notes

2. A great deal of the conservative literati have been writing/debating about "reform conservatism", and the phrase "libertarian populism" keeps popping up.

Isolationism was not part of this context. Nor was it explicitly part of his remarks. One can oppose NSA without opposing isolationism.

The NSA vote was interesting because you had a coalition of radical liberals and radical conservatives strongly united (there was some pretty heated rhetoric on the House floor before the vote - directed by members of one party at their own party members!) against the establishment. It was a very clear divide and ti gives lie to many of the 'hyper partisanship' stalemate stuff we hear so much.

There is a large section of the Republican party, which Christie has termed libertarian, that wants to make this a central issue. The fact so many Democrats voted for the issues suggests that these concerns are open political capital no one has managed to capitalize on yet.

Thought leaders, wonks, and the more prominent politicians (like Mr. Rand) who are part of this wing have been working rather hard over the past few months to get their agenda crystallized and to force a debate about the future of the Republican Party. Two Presidential defeats in a row and the GOP has to do some soul searching. These men are ready to mount a fight for the Republican Party's soul.

NSA and civil liberties is part of this. Other topics of note are drones and secret assassinations, crony capitalism, the revolving door between executive agencies, lobbyists, and industry positions, and ending the drug war and all of the evils that come with it. Foreign policy takes a back seat in this discussion.

As I see it, Christie is fighting back against the NSA push specifically and the general "libertarian populist/reform conservative" movement generally. This is not where he wants the party to go and he has carefully chosen a place to make his stand against the movement in the most dramatic yet risk free way that he can.

Jk faults the libertarians for being spoilers and giving up on the GOP and going out of their way to drudge up men like Christie. Maybe. But from my view point, the libertarians have - for once - gone out of their way, think-tank, interest group style, to create a platform for the Republican Party - to change the party instead of just protesting against it. And that is exactly what Gov Christie is fighting against.

The libertarians have due reason to be upset.

Posted by: T. Greer at July 28, 2013 3:07 AM
But jk thinks:

Libertarians of all case always have good reason to be upset. I get upset with them because they punch so far under their weight in politics. Their tantrums are not effective though far less populous and engaged groups drive the debate and policy.

jg and tg make good points as to context, but might be overthinking a bit. I think Governor C is playing the long game. He purposefully campaigned just enough in 2012 to get the GOP aching for the candidate they couldn't have so that he could be the front runner in an open seat year. He then campaigned for a landslide in New Jersey, knowing that is his ticket.

Executing a multi-year plan for the White House (think not Machiavelli but Henry Clay), I don't think he is reacting to a Senate speech or a couple opinion articles in an odd numbered year. There is clearly a war for the party brewin' (I suggest, like Angel, the Republican Party has no soul as it were to fight over).

Christie is laying down his position as the standard bearer of a traditional, hawkish, law-and-order, Republican Party. He's got bits of Eisenhowerism that will drive Tea Partiers crazy, but Eisenhower won elections. Larry Kudlow is with him on guns, the WSJ Ed Page is with him on NSA snooping, Bill Kristol will prefer his foreign policy. The sum is a formidable hunk of the GOP from which to wrest the nomination.

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2013 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes but it is the crusty old "establishment" hunk. It is the hunk that is on a serious electoral losing streak with up and coming voters. It is the hunk that appeals to old white guys. Well, it doesn't appeal to this old white guy anymore.

If there is a "soul" of the Republican party it is "thou shalt oppose abortion at every turn." To the point that I'm getting right to life mailers in the name of Rand Paul. So in that respect Paul is not abandoning traditional planks, much to my chagrin. But it's wise to win the primary first, and that seems where he's focusing - Iowa.

A great analysis by TG helped me see the bigger picture: The strain of libertarianism that Christie calls "dangerous" is most dangerous to establishment politicians, be they R's or D's. The establishment power base is on the coasts, particularly the east. They rigged the game to suit themselves and anything that diminishes government power doesn't suit them. A President Christie would be another President Bush, but with fewer principles (2A). I'd rather continue a reform effort that has anti-government corporatism appeal than elect another president who will maintain the big spending, big taxing, big regulating status quo. Freedom is at stake. I stand with Rand and his ilk.

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2013 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I ended this post by asking where are the libertarian Democrats? While I have serious trust issues with the senior senator from Colorado (and this is an election year for him) he does sound here like he might be listening to the junior senator from Kentucky.

So that's why it's important to have this debate. We're having it in the Congress. Moderates, liberals, conservatives, all are sharing concern about the reach of the NSA's bulk collection program. Let's change it. Let's reform it. Let's narrow it.

OOOOOOhh. "Dangerous."

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2013 4:42 PM


The more-philosophically-inclined 'round these parts can perhaps tell me why I respond so negatively to what I call "Saganism," after Carl Sagan. It suggests that we humans with our free will and deferred production should not think too highly of ourselves, considering astronomical scale.

I'm not familiar enough with his scientific contributions to comment. I'll assume he has made important contributions. But his considerable pop-science cred was built telling PBS viewers that they're insignificant.

We're just a speck! Bill-e-uns and Bill-e-uns of stars! You think you're so cool in your Air Jordans®? You ain't! A speck I tell you!

Sagan quotes (which differ less from my satirical ones than you think) appear on Facebook memes, typeset over lovely galaxy pictures. The newest doesn't even require Sagan -- you can hear his voice in the back of your head. This insanely cool photo:


...spoiled by the Saganism "You Are Here."

Huzzahs then to Charlie Martin, for recalibrating the context:

In fewer than 200 years we've gone from an altitude of one mile to seeing the Earth from a distance of nearly a billion miles. To some people, I know, the Earth looks tiny, insignificant, in these pictures from Saturn. But to me it says "Look, we tiny creatures from that tiny planet -- we climbed this mountain, and we'll climb others."

Indeed. Reading Buzz Aldrin's book (I mentioned to jg and dagny that it is quite good!) we only have 56 years to go to launching a trip to Alpha Centauri

Posted by John Kranz at 3:22 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I think Sagan would tell you the problem is with the "we." Nobody alive today remembers what it was like to be earthbound. And nobody who first loosed the bounds of earth is alive today.

Humanity can be spectacular against the universe as a backdrop, but a single human, even Albert Einstein and with or without Air Jordans, is never anything more than a mere giant, distinguished for his contribution to the accumulated knowledge of the specie.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2013 4:43 PM

July 13, 2013

The "Producer's Pledge"

"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."

The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.

If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.

Ayn Rand said,

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."

Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?

Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.

Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.

The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.

For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."

I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Well said and well thought. But it strikes me as a very tough sale.

Trying to think of a producer who would eschew a sale, it would probably have to be more direct. Maybe I wouldn't sell to the Taliban, but withholding gas from a poor stupid Boulder guy's Subaru? It doesn't take many cycles to rationalize away that.

My employer sells bucketloads to gub'mint. I read your pledge first, as you presented and thought "we're not going to leave that money on the table" while he rest of your post loaded.

NED bless Magpul (though principled stands might be a plus in that industry) but while government seems pretty close to Atlas, I think business is light years away. And for every principled Galt, there are a dozen James Taggarts to patch things over. In fact, we probably make the Progressives' favorite error of conflating business-folk with Capitalists.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2013 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Your very last point is key. And it is the only way we can convince producers to do this, as a moral issue.

"Do not conflate winning special favors from government with achievement. Cronyism and achievement are each other's mortal enemies."

(I quote because I just said it on Facebook.)

Just as peaceful Muslims lose credibility when they fail to denounce the crimes of Islamofascists perpetrated in the name of their faith, capitalists lose credibility when they fail to denounce and distinguish themselves from crony-capitalists.

I'm not thinking we would encourage individual gas stations to refuse fueling Subarus (while still selling to SUV owners) but for oil producers or refiners to stop selling to retailers who don't agree to temporarily padlock their pumps in those cities and counties. The producers will still have a world market to sell into. The retailers will be under public pressure to make a decision. If one agrees he will be the only one in the region to receive fuel shipments. This applies to all counties, even the ones that allow fracking.

There are details to be worked out, for sure, but to any extent such a plan is executed, especially just before an election, it will bring an important question into the public square: Do producers need consumers, or do consumers (and government) need producers?

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2013 1:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right." | Atlas Shrugged
Posted by: johngalt at July 14, 2013 11:01 AM

July 10, 2013

"saucily exhibiting Kelly Slater's package"

There are many reasons to embed the preceding promotional video. I'll try to hit them all, in no particular order.


Product placements for HTC phones and Windows Phone OS, which they refer to as "Surface" at the end of the promo.

A hip soundtrack, featuring a group I'd never heard before.

Feminist schadenfreude. After all, has there ever been, in the history of advertising, a man who complained that a woman in a commercial was "sexualised?" The commenter's mindset is clearly revealed by the term "typical blonde size six surfer girl." Jealous much?

Equality. This one nearly provokes me to profanity. It is fast replacing altruism as, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dispicable idea in human thought. To wit:

So what exactly is so offensive this time, as the surfing giant is merely using a tried and tested marketing approach? Probably the fact that this little voyeuristic semi soft-core porn clip is representing a professional sport which has been fighting a long and ongoing battle for gender equality.

Please. Men and women are - wait for it - differ'nt. Commercial advertising is as free-market as anything else left in this world and its practitioners have discovered a formula that works. You may not like the formula, and you may not like that it works, but no amount of snippy commentary will ever change those facts.

Freedom. Freedom to voluntarily participate in a promo video featuring ass shots, of your own ass. "12 butt shots in one minute and 46 seconds exactly." Huzzah! Perhaps you'd prefer if she wore a burka, Ms. Salvo? As a father of daughters, I have no objections whatsoever to this promo. Natural, athletic beauty is nothing to hide or to battle against using shame, much less the government regulation that is so routinely resorted to in such matters of "inequality." You, who claim to seek "gender equality" would have more credibility if you didn't object to the same "offenses" as does the Taliban.

Did I mention badonkadonk?

Hat tip to Tully Corcoran and the "Popular Now" feed on Bing.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:24 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

And I speak fluent Redmondonian. The tablet at 0:29 is Microsoft's "Surface:" positioned to destroy the iPad about the same time ads like this lose their efficacy and appeal.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 9:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

In "North Colorado" the iPad will be illegal.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2013 2:02 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

What strat?

Posted by: Sugarchuck at July 11, 2013 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Make sc miss a Red Strat with a rosewood fretboard and you're doing something right!

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 5:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

He must have been mesmorized by the hip soundtrack. And I too, since it easily merited its own bullet point on this, the successor to the blog for "Jazz, Guitars, and Right Wing Politics."

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2013 6:32 PM
But jk thinks:

There was a soundtrack?

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 6:42 PM

July 4, 2013

Independence - The Universal Good

Mike Rosen did a very good job deconstructing the "America sucks" diatribe of a Denver Post columnist on his radio show Tuesday, but for those who don't have time or inclination to listen I'll do it again here, hitting just the high points.

First the title: "Beware of zealots this Independence Day." That's right, flag-waving Americans should remind "thoughtful" people of bomb-throwing Islamists. But perhaps I'm just too sensitive.

In recent times, we've seen an uptick in gratuitous, obsequious, false patriotism, rooted in empty slogans and reflexive - not thoughtful - displays of bravado rather than heartfelt allegiance and love of country.

Recent times? I believe this began in earnest on a particular date: September 11, 2001. Didn't something memorable happen that day, Steve?

They proclaim love of country is exhibited in the absolute defense and embrace of the Second Amendment, typically above all other constitutional provisions, as a critical defense against a paranoia-imagined government takeover.

And here the - thoughtful - Mr. Lipsher either denies or ignores history. Take your pick. Why can boy scouts take "Be Prepared" as their motto but the rest of us should, instead, place complete faith in a government that says, "trust us, we'll take care of you?" A government operated by other men, no better nor worse than those whom it serves, but entrusted with the authority to use force. Like all other powers in government, that force must be checked.

They throw around terms such as "liberty" and "tyranny" without any apparent appreciation for their meaning: They are mere buzzwords, dog-whistles to help them identify "us" and "them" in their quixotic quest to "take America back" from implied - but rarely explicitly stated - minorities, liberals, Muslims, Hollywood, welfare recipients and the Kenyan/socialist/America-hating President Obama.

This is mere rant, intended to detract from concrete ideas of liberty and tyranny. While it is true that some Americans are xenophobic this by no means describes the majority of American patriots, much less their motives. They merely seek to maintain what is great about America - individual freedom and the right to create one's own prosperity - without having it "spread around a little" against his will.

Like most Americans, I truly love my country and the unparalleled opportunities it affords me, and I'm proud of our achievements as a nation. But I also see its flaws - often cloaked in our incredible wealth and national arrogance - and I want it to be better.

But are you proud of your achievements as an individual? Or, more importantly, do you believe others have the right to be proud of their own achievements? Achievements like incredible wealth and, not arrogance, but pride in their "heartfelt allegiance and love" of a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal?

I believe you when you say you want America to be better. So do I. But there may be a great divide between what each of us would prescribe as "better." For my part that would be more freedom not less, less regulation and compulsion not more, more charity and volunteerism not more taxation and redistribution. These principles should extend beyond our shores as well: Free trade with other nations not free aid, defense cooperation not replacement of their armed forces with ours. Every nation, like every person, is free to work and achieve and own the fruits of those labors without threat of being pillaged by others, like redistributive governments that employ a Viking morality under the guise of democratic "majority rule." These principles would make not just America better, but the world.

On this day, July 4, 2013, Happy Independence Day people of the earth.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)
But Jk thinks:

Well said. Happy Fourth.

Posted by: Jk at July 4, 2013 4:56 PM

June 19, 2013

Pathological Altruism

Surprised to be first, but I'll play. I've seen a bit of discussion on Barbara Oakley's Concepts and implications of altruism bias and pathological altruism. If that doesn't scream ThreeSources, you're hearing impaired.

Taranto discussed it and I know I saw references elsewhere, but Ronald Baily provides a short and excerpt-rich summary.

The above list of pathologies afflicting public policy sounds all too familiar. Although Oakley doesn't bluntly say so, the modern welfare state can be conceived of as being largely a collection of enterprises conjured into existence by pathological altruism. Social security -- discourages citizens from saving and is going bankrupt. Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, ObamaCare, employer based health insurance -- a dysfunctional system of third party payments that boosts overall health care costs without fostering improved care or services. AFDC (now defunct but replaced by lots of other programs) -- encouraged single motherhood and near-permanent unemployment. Subsidized student loans -- enable university bureaucracies to enlarge without improving educational outcomes. Obviously some people have benefited from these programs, but it is at least arguable that the unanticipated consequences, e.g., bankruptcy, dysfunctional families, higher unemployment, worse medical care, and so forth, are likely to overwhelm the good intentions behind them.

The crushing rational advantage that Judaism has over Christianity is that the Jew is responsible (as this neither Talmudic nor Biblical scholar understands it) for the actual results of his charity, not just the intentions. No points for trying. Don't give the junkie enough "food money" to buy his overdose.

I think that changes the world more than a thousand copies of "Atlas Shrugged." I cannot tell you any place where Rand is wrong. But explaining it is a fat lot of unpleasant work, and I lack the gifts of a Yaron Brook.

Yet Oakley's Pathological Altruism -- I can sell that. Look at the housing projects we're now blowing up. Look at the disconnect from family that Daddy Sugar has facilitated. Even Vonnegut had a character who's day was made by doing a simple repair with his own hands.

I sense some people may not be pleased with some implicit concessions that elevate the pragmatic over the philosophical. But this has captured hearts at Reason, the WSJ Ed Page and National Review. This my friends, is a keeper.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

There is no time to spare for internecinity here, this is great stuff. But if you think this will take you further with your FB friends and relatives I'd like to know how. Will you tell them, "The science is settled - altruism sucks?" Or, less flippantly, "Have you considered that your altruism bias might blind you to the harm done by your good intentions?"

In the context of scientific research, Oakley notes...

"...that those possessing altruism bias would be most strongly biased to object to the very concept of altruism bias. Research has shown the near impossibility of reaching biased individuals using rational approaches, no matter their level of education or intelligence; such attempts can be likened to squaring the circle."

Posted by: johngalt at June 19, 2013 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

It puts me into territory I'm comfortable defending. That is more the issue than its correctness.

Goes farther with an FBF because I can say "It's great to help the poor; but the government sucks at it." Ronald Reagan talked about "the truly needy" and I find modest help for them okay provided it is balanced against moral hazard.

The full on Yaron Brook moral case is compelling, but it seems to require an open minded listener listening, and Yaron Brook speaking. I don't see that's establishing a plurality.

It also meshes with fusionism. If my FBFs remain unconvinced, at least I brought James Taranto and the National Review to the party. They're never coming to an Objectivist do unless you serve those really good appetizers and have a free bar.

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2013 3:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough all 'round but I read that article and thought, repeatedly, "Duh!" Was this really a revelation to Taranto and NR? Breathtaking.

Posted by: johngalt at June 19, 2013 3:54 PM

June 7, 2013

This Looks good!

Bob Zubrin debates anti-Humanist Professor Phil Cafaro. There is video at the link which I look forward to watching. And Zubrin's admittedly one-sided account of the evening (not sure he really saved that child with the Heimlich Maneuver while raising $11 Billion for clean water in Africa...)

Many many ThreeSources tropes are raised and debated. I'm considering inviting some lefty pals to watch the debate over some beverages somewhere.

Zubrin points to a graph of per-capita-GDP versus carbon use (hello ThreeSourcers!):

Now this is so obviously good, who could oppose it? Cafaro does. He says, repeatedly, in his writings that "the last thing the world needs is more Americans." Well, I say that the first thing the world needs is more Americans. And here is why: Because we need to ask ourselves who did this [pointing to the line on the graph rising from $180 per year in 1800 to nearly $9,000 per year in 2010]? Who is responsible for this miracle? Well, for the first part [pointing to the region of the graph from 1800 to 1875], the answer is, the British. There are others who play a supporting role, including Americans and continental Europeans, but in the main, this is a British show, and it's a great achievement, raising the world from $180 per year to $500 per year. But after that [pointing to the graph from 1875 to 2010], it's the U.S.A. It's America, inventing oil drilling, and light bulbs, and recorded sound, and centrally generated electric power, and telephones, and airplanes, and motion pictures, and mass-produced automobiles, and radio, and television, and nuclear power, and modern agriculture, and computers, and transistors, and micro-electronics, and all the rest. We are 4 percent of the world's population, but for the past century we've been responsible for half the world's inventions. That's why the world needs more Americans.

Hat-tip: Insty

UPDATE:Fascinating! I sent the link to a couple liberty lovers. Both find Zubrin's position lacking (& I am being kind) because he does not refute Cafaro's central premise that too many people == too much global warming. I am gonna have to watch that video...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2013

This Could Make "Review Corner" Obsolete!

Arnold Kling adapts his own "The Three Languages of Politics." [Review Corner] to an AEI article. He might explain his book a little better than I do.

Tribal Politics in the 21st Century Well worth a read.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2013

Review Corner

I enjoy most of what you see reviewed here. Dreary and turgid though some of it may be, it is interesting.

I'll confess, however, that I had a stack of "homework." Three books I really did not look forward to reading. And I do mean stack: While I prefer Kindle books, these were corporeal incarnations of guilt. First was "The Blueprint" reviewed last week. That wasn't bad at all.

Second was Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. That was the one I really wanted to avoid. And it is awesome! I have decried the Progressives' lack of a canon. This is a beautiful and well thought out book. Let's hit the plusses:

  • It explains what the hell a "Community Organizer" is.

  • It is well written

  • It deals with the world more honestly than modern progressive pundits.

  • It is not without thought and rationality.

  • And yes, Newt, it does help you recognize some of the current left's tactics.

Alinsky on the always-interesting topic of "Self Interest:"
Self-interest, like power, wears the black shroud of negativism and suspicion. To many the synonym for self-interest is selfishness. The word is associated with a repugnant conglomeration of vices such as narrowness, self-seeking, and self-centeredness, everything that is opposite to the virtues of altruism and selflessness. This common definition is contrary, of course, to our everyday experiences, as well as to the observations of all great students of politics and life. The myth of altruism as a motivating factor in our behavior could arise and survive only in a society bundled in the sterile gauze of New England puritanism and Protestant morality and tied together with the ribbons of Madison Avenue public relations. It is one of the classic American fairy tales.

From the great teachers of Judaeo-Christian morality and the philosophers, to the economists, and to the wise observers of the politics of man, there has always been universal agreement on the part that self-interest plays as a prime moving force in man's behavior. The importance of self-interest has never been challenged; it has been accepted as an inevitable fact of life. In the words of Christ, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

I hear my Randian pals parsing words to contradict (they parse very loudly), but compare this to a screed from a Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman, or E. J. Dionne. And that honesty is a consistent and compelling theme.

I will turn to Rand, however, for the BIG minus. Rand tells rational men in honest disagreement to "check their premises." And Alinsky has built his beautiful prosaic edifice on a weak philosophical foundation: zero sum economics.

But let us go deeper into the psyche of this Goliath. The Haves possess and in turn are possessed by power. Obsessed with the fear of losing power, their every move is dictated by the idea of keeping it. The way of life of the Haves is to keep what they have and wherever possible to shore up their defenses.

This opens a new vista--not only do we have a whole class determined to keep its power and in constant conflict with the Have-Nots; at the same time, they are in conflict among themselves. Power is not static; it cannot be frozen and preserved like food; it must grow or die. Therefore, in order to keep power the status quo must get more. But from whom? There is just so much more than can be squeezed out of the Have-Nots--so the Haves must take it from each other. They are on a road from which there is no turning back. This power cannibalism of the Haves permits only temporary truces, and only when equally confronted by a common enemy. Even then there are regular breaks in the ranks, as individual units attempt to exploit the general threat for their own special benefit. Here is the vulnerable belly of the status quo.

I have always held that if you really believe this -- and I know many who do -- Progressivism, wealth redistribution -- hell, even Communism -- is legitimate. Kurt Vonnegut's "God Bless You, Mister Rosewater" espouses this. Everyone is born in some proximity to the money river, and the whole morality play is how to pass it around form those fortunate "Haves" near the river to the "Have-Nots" further inland. (This is my überlefty brother's favorite Vonnegut book and my least).

If this is not your first trip to ThreeSources, you'll know I fulsomely disagree. Wealth is created; its distribution is far less interesting than its growth and its totality. Or as President Bush put it so eloquently: "make the pie higher!"

Once you are imbued with this bad idea, however, Alinskyism makes perfect sense. If Mom has three candy bars and three kids, egalitarianism has a place. Alinsky is clever -- and far more moral than a Bill Ayers -- in getting Mom to do things fairly:

TACTICS MEANS doing what you can with what you have. Tactics are those consciously deliberate acts by which human beings live with each other and deal with the world around them. In the world of give and take, tactics is the art of how to take and how to give. Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves.

A beautiful and fundamentally wrong book. But it should be read by everyone. Four stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:09 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Even Alinsky believed that there should be "rules" guiding our behavior. "Paging the oval office: Mr. Obama, Mr. Holder, please oick up line one."

But in the end, as JK rightly observes, the premises are all, or at least mostly, wrong. Add to zero sum economics the idea that something, anything, is free to be "taken" from others rather than earned or traded. Even political control is not "taken" from the opposition, but earned from voters on a temporary basis.

But let's not sail past altruism without thought. First please help me understand, did Alinsky view altruism as "virtue" or "myth?" It seems, more the latter.

It is clear that he embraced self-interest. But he did so in a way that justifies theft on the basis of inequality. By that logic, property rights expire once one has accumulated "too much" property. How is that any prescription for prosperity and, more pointedly, peace?

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2013 3:53 PM

May 29, 2013

Sand shortage!

In a global recovery, Venezuela cannot produce enough wine and communion wafers for the Catholic Church (and take it from this altar boy, we ain't talking a 1949 Chateau le Fete) and Argentinians travel to trade currency at market rates. Professor Mead suggests it's "More Glittering Success for Latin American Socialism"

This is only one of the bizarre economic policies wreaking havoc on Argentina. The quack economists now running the country into the ground will continue to try one eccentric experiment after another until the money eventually runs out.

Amazingly, Venezuela and Argentina have every abundant natural resource needed to make them two of the most prosperous places on earth. It's almost as if socialism tends to end in poverty and misery, no matter how rich the soil at its disposal.

Hat-tip: Insty, who adds "Socialism never works as a policy, but thanks to human traits of envy and gullibility, it's often successful as a con."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:
"When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it."

There are more than those two human traits in play here: Laziness plays a role, and fear of change. But none of these is as indispensable to the practice as one trait that is unique to the human race: self-sacrifice.

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2013 2:51 PM

May 24, 2013

Good Essay/Review!

Arnold Kling was the subject of a recent Review Corner, as well as a post before there was a Review Corner (we call those the Dark Ages...). Today, commenter tg directs me to Kling's review of Mark S. Weiner's The Rule of the Clan which "makes a libertarian case for a strong central state. In it, he directly challenges what many libertarians currently believe."

Societies of Contract enable citizens to forge their own professional lives and personal identities, but societies of Status provide their members with deep social and psychological security. Societies of Contract foster the economic growth that comes from individual competition, but societies of Status advance the principle of social justice. Societies of Contract liberate citizens from the dead hand of tradition, while societies of Status initiate kinsmen into a profound communion across generations. At bottom, liberal societies offer citizens personal freedom, whereas the rule of the clan provides its members with a powerful feeling of community and solidarity.

From a legal perspective, societies of Status are not a distant Other. Instead, they are what liberal societies would quickly become, in a process of evolutionary reversion, if we lost our political will to maintain an effective state dedicated to public purposes.

It is an excellent review. It underscores what I describe as "Deepak Lal libertarianism" and the tradeoff I suggested of abstract rights for prosperity. Per Weiner -- and I suspect Lal -- the trade is not giving away rights but accepting civilization and rule of law. I give away my right to drive 100 mph down County Road 7 in exchange for safety -- I don't think Ben Franklin would object.

It also ties together, per Kling's "Three Languages," the natural fusionism between conservatives who value civilization over barbarism and libertarians who value liberty over coercion. I want to be free to shoot heroin and marry my three hottest neighbors. That might disturb some conservatives. But my anarcho-capitalist friends are unconvincing that 65,000 private local constabularies can provide regular protection of rights consistent with the US Constitution.

This also segues nicely to a link going around "Are Savages Noble?" [SPOILER ALERT: No.]

Mister Jefferson nailed it:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Barbarism is incompatible with Liberty.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Organizing as a clan, or Society of Status leads to such barbarism as beheading your daughter, or your neighbor's daughter, because she "dishonored the family." Perhaps it will require creation of a strong centrally-governed Islamic state to precipitate the evolution to individual rights.

I welcome the opportunity to consider the idea of a powerful central state separately from that of a confiscatory and prohibitive one. Yes, I agree that objecting to "big government" misses the target. A strong government may still protect liberty, such as it does when it proscribes clans (state governments) from infringing individual rights. Laboratories of democracy should be as free as possible to conduct local affairs, except when such conduct becomes authoritarian on the local level.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2013 3:37 PM

Wish I Could be at the Hayek Auditorium

Deirdre McCloskey at the Hayek Auditorium! Man, that rivals The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East.

Alas and alack (what is an alack?) I fear I will be watching the live feed on cato.org. But still:

Featuring Deirdre N. McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Author, The Bourgeois Virtues and Bourgeois Dignity; with comments by Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University; moderated by Dalibor Rohac, Policy Analyst, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, Cato Institute.

The rise of the West can be understood only as a result of an ideological change that occurred in England in the 17th century and of the emergence of a "bourgeois deal" through which entrepreneurs were let free to engage in innovation and creative destruction, so argues Deirdre McCloskey in her forthcoming book, The Treasured Bourgeoisie: How Markets and Innovation Became Ethical, 1600-1848, and Then Suspect. Please join us for a discussion that will link culture, ethics and rhetoric with entrepreneurship and economic development.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2013

On Prosperitarianism

I must thank blog brother jg for dredging up my old post "On Prosperitarianism." And saying some kind words about it. I think it holds up pretty well from 2008 -- far better than Senator McCain's liberty bona-fides from the same year. (Now, that was just plain mean!)

A quick Bing® search shows the unwieldy neologism has not caught on. Three of the four links returned are ThreeSources (or nascarretards.com). The other is a deeply hidden joke. But a preference for solutions which optimize Prosperity and Liberty seems worthy of a few more hits.

I offer it not as special philosophy but as a branch in the complex ontology of Libertarian thought. Some revel in privacy, absolute property rights -- any one of the ideals of a free society. I certainly like them all -- but I most like the ones which will promote innovation and prosperity. And more controversially, I am more willing than some to trade some absolute and abstract liberty for prosperity. A real Prosperitarian (of which it seems I am still -- like Tigger -- the only one) must concede this point. That's the dark side and we all must be willing to be honest.

I bring this up in the context of an exciting innovation which intrigues me to no end: the self-driving car.

I was only slightly surprised to hear that Greg Beato of Reason is less than enthused allowing Google to track our motion as well as our thoughts. Randall O'Toole denies it, much as I appreciate O'Toole, not totally convincingly.

Timothy B. Lee links to both arguments today and makes a Prosperitarian summary:

Beato is right: Self-driving cars will make it easier for the authorities to track you everywhere you go. But the benefits of self-driving cars are likely to be so enormous that American consumers will sign up in droves, regardless of the privacy implications.

I fear the tort bar will not allow driverless cars. The technology would save tens of thousands of lives every year. But it would completely extirpate the responsibility case law. We can somehow handle 40,000 deaths caused by culpable actors with insurance and sleazy lawyers who advertise on daytime TV. But will Google or Microsoft be sufficiently indemnified if somebody dies for the lack of a closing brace in version 2.04.22? We'll have laws named after victims and coders in prison before we go back to the numerous but litigable fatalities.

If Wally "The Killer Harp Seal" Ventricle, Esq. can be contained, however, I am -- like Lee -- ready to trade privacy for lives saved, fuel saved -- and a sudden billion man-hours of new productivity as commuters can truly focus on their texting and emails.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

If the trade "liberty for prosperity" that you acquiesce to is real, and I'm not prepared to agree that it is so, at least not universally, then let it be a trade made by each of us, individually, with a marketplace of choices.

Both descriptions of driverless car technology are correct. There are networked versions and self-contained versions, or evil Googlecars and modern mechanical "Silvers" to carry the road going Lone Rangers. I'll just call them Blue Cars and Red Cars. So as long as America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave, free men and sheep can coexist on the same motorways.

Who knows, maybe Subaru will finally get some competition from "Blue Car."

(And if ours ceases to be "the land of the free" then the roads will again roar with the sound of "V8 Interceptors."

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2013 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

We've serious overlap. I am far less circumspect trading "privacy" away to Google than giving it to government. One can say that's a distinction without difference and they'll certainly fold like a house of cards under the slightest pressure. Yet I hold that it is a choice.

The meaningful comparison here was the cell phone -- it is a huge-to-potentially-devastating infringement on privacy, but we have negotiated acceptable limits.

That is a trade. One can be Mr. or Ms. Pure Privacy and forego the benefits of wireless. I will not join.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2013 3:35 PM

May 16, 2013

Boo Pope!

We have not taken potshots at a popular religious figure since, well let's see it's 2:06 Mountain...

Pope blasts "cult of money" that tyrannizes poor

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the "cult of money" that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.

In his first major speech on the subject, Francis demanded Thursday that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: "Money has to serve, not to rule!"

It's a message Francis delivered on many occasions when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and it's one that was frequently stressed by retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis, who has made clear the poor are his priority, made the comments as he greeted his first group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.

No doubt a good Jesuit has read more Michael Novak than I. Does he need a refresher? I would also suggest some Deirdre McClosky [Review Corner]. I take him at his word for his compassion for the poor. Yet they'd be better served by some papal recognition of bourgeois dignity.

Actually, Sir, it is tyranny that tyrannizes the poor. The "cult of money" lifts them up.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

"But it doesn't make any sense for us to use the coercive powers of the state to avoid the creation of future Teen Mom Porn Stars -- what are we going to do, imprison every knocked up moron teenager? What does make sense is to use the coercive powers of society. And society has few tools more powerful than shame. Pretending that an action is value-neutral to spare the feelings of a miscreant will only create more miscreants. I, for one, would prefer a society with fewer miscreants." -- Free Beacon Blogger Sonny Bunch, on model Christine Teigen's Tweet: I believe in shame and having shame and being shamed.

UPDATE: I rushed this to press and relied on readers to click through for the rest of the tweets. The one I cited was her conclusion, but she began by telling a young woman known as "Teen Mom Porn Star" that "you're a whore and everyone hates you..."

And if that's not tittilating enough to elicit commentary... Christine Christie Chrissy Teigen Pics Pictures Photos. (Check the traffic stats!)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2013

The Moral Foundation of a Free Society

“The picture was made for the apple--not the apple for the picture.” - Abraham Lincoln

The Declaration of Independence is a document for all people, for all time, and from all walks of life. It recognizes the moral principle of individual rights, and by implication, the facts of reality that give rise to it. In doing so, it sets the ethical standard by which all systems of government can be judged, and forms the moral foundation of a free society. Lincoln correctly understood this relationship when he described the apple and the frame; governments must have a moral foundation to claim legitimacy.

Moral principles, such as individual rights, are not created by whim or impulse. They are derived from an objective moral code based on the fact that an individual’s life is an end unto itself. This fact forms the system of teleological measurement an individual uses to make choices. That which sustains, improves, or enriches the life of the individual is the good; that which does not is the evil. The primary method by which man distinguishes between the two is his mind.

The requirements of rational human existence are not tied to race, ethnicity, creed, nationality, or any other means of demographic categorization; to live, man must hold his own existence as the standard of moral value, and he must use his mind to provide for the material and spiritual necessities of his life. From the creation of tools to the composition of symphonies, the source of every life-affirming value is man’s reason.

To exist in a social setting, man requires one thing: Freedom. He must be free to think, to act upon the conclusions of his own judgment, and be the beneficiary of his actions. It is therefore essential that he be free from the initiation of force, fraud, or coercion. It is this fact that undergirds the only moral purpose of government: the protection of individual rights; it is on this premise that the Declaration of Independence is based.

By identifying these facts, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the requirements of human existence and creates the standard by which social systems are to be judged.

A moral government protects the individual rights of its citizens and derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”. The word just in this context means, “Acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.” This distinction is vital, as it qualifies to what end government power will be used, thus forming the principle of limited government.

If one holds man’s life as the standard, reason as his means of gaining knowledge, and the pursuit and achievement of values as the requirement of his life, it is unreasonable to judge any form of collectivist government as moral. Those social systems hold that the group is the standard of moral and political value, that the individual’s reason is impotent, and that one’s values should be sacrificed for the good of society. The foundation upon which collectivist societies are built is anathema to the requirements of human life and as such cannot claim legitimacy.

The practical results from these two governing philosophies are easy to distinguish. In those societies founded on individualism, there is eudemonia; in those where the collective is the standard, there is decay. However, despite this fact, advocates of collectivist ideologies continue to allure new acolytes. Through the siren song of altruism, they deceive would be followers by claiming egalitarianism as the ethical standard upon which the United States was built.

Like Lincoln, the Founders understood the relationship between morality and politics. They understood that man would not be willing to pledge his life, fortune, and sacred honor for political revolution without first knowing that he was morally right in doing so. The enemies of individualism have exploited this fact to erode the moral foundation upon which the Constitution is based.

Those who champion these principles must learn to defend them on moral grounds. They must understand that not only is it practical for man to be free, it is moral for him to be free. It is only on this foundation that a society can flourish, and it is because of this foundation that government may exercise legitimate power. If the political system created by the Constitution is to survive, the foundation created by the Declaration of Independence must be defended on the grounds that it is morally right.

Posted by Bryan at 5:15 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"They must understand that not only is it practical for man to be free, it is moral for him to be free."

This, I would say, is the essence of our long-running Elevator Talk dispute. Yes, capitalism is practical, but it is also moral, because it is the only system under which free men may deal with one another "without pain, or fear, or guilt."

This essay looks familiar Bryan. What is the source? The post is somewhat lacking in context. (By the way, welcome back! Good to see you blogging again. Hoping for more.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 2:59 PM
But Bryan thinks:

JG -

This was my essay for the Defenders of the Declaration competition for the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

I apologize for not providing context. I wanted to publish it so that you guys and my classmates could review it.

Thanks for your feedback!

Posted by: Bryan at May 14, 2013 3:19 PM

May 11, 2013

Political Language?

A beloved relative posted this today. I cannot embed, but you'll want to go read the headline on Upworthy.com. "The Earth-Shatteringly Amazing Speech That'll Change The Way You Think About Adulthood."

For those who do not have progressive friends on Facebook: a) what in the hell do you do for aggravation?, and, b) know that Upworthy.com belches out a constant stream of stuff like this which is fawned over by Facebook Progs in search of something really deep. I'm being mean and petty -- but you have not yet watched the video. Watch it coast to coast and tell me I am being harsh.

It's humorous in a David Sedaris -NPR kind of way; you can hear the chattering classes tittering in the audience. Talk about first world problems -- the wheel on his shopping cart sticks! Can't Harry Reid do something about that? Children ride in these carts ferchrissakes!

Yes, life sucks so bad. Your sweet car gets stuck in traffic, and the supermarket is so full of plenty that you have to walk through clean and "over-lit" aisles full of inexpensive varieties of goods to get what you want. The f***ing humanity!

But the solution, kindly provided (that's what makes it soooo amazing!) is to realize everybody else's life sucks too! Maybe worse! Damn, I feel better.

How about you appreciate the affluence that a bad shopping cart wheel is the worst part of your food acquisition experience (vis-a-vis hunting down a mammoth with a spear...)? Or hows and aboutin' you plan ahead to shop at a less congested time. Or order online? Or start a company that delivers groceries to the others who find this unpleasant?

I came here to rant, but I left a comment for my dear cousin:

"I hope this guy does not work the 'suicide hotline.'"

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)
But Terri thinks:

Yes my friends you've just spent tons of money and time to get this great education which you really needed to have because only the educated know that big secret found in the lines of a Jimmy Buffet song.

"Life is mostly attitude and timing"


Posted by: Terri at May 11, 2013 10:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And our parents thought the kids of their generation were worthless, stupid lazy-asses. We were pikers! Today's crop wouldn't know "adulthood" if their Depends undergarment slipped.

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2013 12:06 PM

April 28, 2013

Downer of the Day

I'm an optimist. Larry Kudlow took on his old boss, David Stockman, last Friday. Go Larry! Even Jon Caldera and Governor Richard Lamm's bipartisan admission that the national debt is too huge to ever be paid just took me down a couple pegs.

But when the subject nears academia... I emailed this to a good friend of this blog. It should be good for seven days irrespective of subscriber status.

"Democracy May Have Had Its Day" Donald Kagan, Yale's great classicist gives his final lecture, fighting as ever for Western civilization.

Donald Kagan is engaging in one last argument. For his "farewell lecture" here at Yale on Thursday afternoon, the 80-year-old scholar of ancient Greece--whose four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War inspired comparisons to Edward Gibbon's Roman history--uncorked a biting critique of American higher education.

Universities, he proposed, are failing students and hurting American democracy. Curricula are "individualized, unfocused and scattered." On campus, he said, "I find a kind of cultural void, an ignorance of the past, a sense of rootlessness and aimlessness." Rare are "faculty with atypical views," he charged. "Still rarer is an informed understanding of the traditions and institutions of our Western civilization and of our country and an appreciation of their special qualities and values." He counseled schools to adopt "a common core of studies" in the history, literature and philosophy "of our culture." By "our" he means Western.

It's more than a retelling of "Closing of the American Mind," though Bloom gets a cameo and is certainly not refuted. One certainly fears for the Republic...

Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I watched the Lamm apparance on Devil's Advocate eagerly. I wanted to watch Caldera ask him about his "coming out" with 'Confessions of a Former Keynsian.' I saw a brief summary instead of the deep discussion and furtherance of the topic I'd hoped for. And the big "regret" Mr. Lamm lives with from his career as Colorado's Governor? Signing the bill that revoked the helmet law for motorcyclists. A nannyist to the core.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2013 2:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I winced at that as well. But I dug everything before it. Call it pessimism, but it compares positively to the current White House and Senate line that everything's fine -- the debt can be fixed with stimulus, green jobs and the Buffett rule.

Gov. Lamm's philosophy is no doubt nanny all the way down, but his economic realism -- because of his progressive ideas -- is a welcome breath. I plan to share it with a lot of friends of all persuasions.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2013 6:30 PM

All Hail Harsanyi!

I am remiss in not linking his superb post on Nanny Mayor Bloomberg. Seems Hizzonner thinks "our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change." Harsanyi points out that "All said, he's exactly the type of person who makes the Constitution a necessity."

Anyone who believes your caloric intake is government's prime concern should be watched carefully, of course; but no matter what crusade the man's on, his rationalization for limiting personal freedom is a dangerous one. Some of his proposals are popular (smoking bans), and others are less so (limiting portion sizes and banning ingredients), but all of them set precedents that distort the relationship between government and citizens. The jump from minor infringements on personal liberty to giant ones is a shorter one than you think. Allow a politician to tell you what your portion sizes should be and the next thing you know you're letting Washington force you to buy insurance you don't want.

The whole short post is excellent. The great hook for ThreeSourcers, however, is this one:
When Justice Milton Tingling struck down Bloomberg's pathetic soda ban as "arbitrary and capricious" last year, he might as well have been talking about the mayor's overall disposition. Bloomberg likes to act as if he's a man free of the unpleasantness of political ideology or party. He's the driving force behind the inane No Labels group -- which, in addition to having no labels, has no ideas and no support. But pretending to be without a guiding philosophy doesn't by default make you a moderate. It can just as easily mean you support using arbitrary and capricious power to get your way.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:16 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Key phrase: "pretending to be without a guiding philosophy." Because whether they know it or not, and whether they admit it or not, every human being has a guiding philosophy.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2013 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Every human being except Bill O'Reilly has a guiding philosophy.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2013 3:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Pshaw, sure he does! And it's no more self-contradictory than that of at least three-fourths of the human population. He's not the worst living example of cognitive dissonance, by a wide margin.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2013 7:27 PM

April 23, 2013

Quote of the Day

GOOD ADVICE, from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon:"Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be -- or to be indistinguishable from -- self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time." -- Glenn Reynolds
But what about the people I work with?
Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

April 4, 2013

The Pope and Capitalism

A good column for ThreeSourcers on the WSJ Ed Page today (I know -- what are the odds?)

Dan Henninger has a smart piece suggesting that anti-Capitalism should really be anti-Corruption -- and that that is a value worthy of a position from the new Pontiff.

I'm going to guess that Pope Francis and Messrs. Obama and Hollande aren't singing from the same hymnal here. The pope couldn't care less about Barack Obama's and François Hollande's running battle with the income-distribution tables in countries that measure their gross domestic product in the trillions.

But make no mistake: This pope, with every waking hour, cares about the shafting of the world's poor, and soon is likely to talk about it at length. It would be a breath of fresh air (another papal concern) in the social-justice debates if a pope set aside the capitalist straw man. The mere presence of men making money is an insufficient explanation for the persistence of poverty. You have to look elsewhere.

I will confess I was saddened to hear some boilerplate blasting of "globalization" when the new guy got the big hat. I wondered: should I send him a copy of Michal Novak's "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism?"

I was not certain if I had heard a direct quote, or the summation of a journalist. And I always extend everyone the benefit of the doubt in a new leadership position.

Henninger's advice might be suitable for non-popes as well.

Global poverty persists because corruption kills capitalism. History's most recent exhibit is the Arab Spring, a product of economic exasperation, especially in Egypt. In time, corruption accelerates political instability, erodes democratic order if it exists, and someone from the outside has to clean up the mess. Think Syria or Mali.

One may ask, what is a pope supposed to do? One might ask in reply, what will be gained spending another century railing against the shapeless clouds of capitalism? Appeals to justice can be shrugged off because the idea is undefinable and endlessly arguable. By contrast, if a pope, or even an American president, were to visit a country and talk bluntly about ruinous effects of bribery, collusion and cronyism, he would be talking about real people. The corrupt know who they are, and their impoverished victims know who they are.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

Practical Philosophy

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2013

A right - to discriminate?

I need a little help here. Someone tell me where I'm going wrong. (I know, I know, "When you opened your mouth.")

As SCOTUS hears oral argument on a gay marriage case, Erick Erickson posts a piece declaring ‘Gay Marriage’ and Religious Freedom Are Not Compatible. Me being me, I want to prove him wrong.

Here are my premises:

1) Every individual is [morally]* entitled to birthright liberty and ownership of his life, including all of his preferences and actions that do not involve initiation of force against others.

2) In every question, refer back to premise number 1.

Erickson's ultimate conclusion is that, "Libertarians will have to decide which they value more - the ability of a single digit percentage of Americans to get married or the first amendment. The two are not compatible." Why?

Once the world decides that real marriage is something other than natural or Godly, those who would point it out must be silenced and, if not, punished. The state must be used to do this. Consequently, the libertarian pipe dream of getting government out of marriage can never ever be possible.

Here he diverges into the other half of a package deal: That everyone be forced to accept a belief that contradicts his own. This is a key tenet of collectivism rather than liberalism. My counsel would be to ignore the latter and instead wage legal and ideological war on the former.

I made a brief attempt to argue this point with Mike Rosen today. There wasn't enough time for him to say more than, "There is no individual right to gay marriage, any more than there is a right to marriage to animals or to more than one other person." And in rebuttal to my suggestion that in accordance with Loving v. Virginia a STATE may not discriminate against individuals (due to race or, by extension, gender) but an individual SHOULD be able to discriminate against ANY individual for ANY reason, he simply said, "That's a weak argument."

Is it?

UPDATE: * Added the word "morally" to distinguish vis-a-vis "legally." The law still has some distance to travel.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I appreciate interesting dialog. It is a hard day to be jk on Facebook. Y'all know I am predisposed to gay marriage, but the combination of sanctimony and shallow thinking are too much to bear. Change your profile picture to George Takei's red equals sign -- and don't worry your pretty little enlightened head about Federalism, or the basic legal premise of "standing."

But you did not request a rant, you wanted an opinion...

I don't know if Rosen would prefer it, but I would have to lead me with a little "Render under Caesar."

As long as there are still Christians who actually follow Christ and uphold his word, a vast amount of people around the world — never mind Islam -- will never ever see gay marriage as anything other than a legal encroachment of God's intent.

With all due respect, we encroach on the poor Supreme Being’s intent all the damn time; not sure He has "standing..." Seriously, the cats and chicks in the robes are discussing marriage as a legal matter, and although he gets huge points for quoting Chesterton, I think Erikson's argument falls on its face when one bifurcates the religious and the secular versions of marriage.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2013 6:37 PM

March 25, 2013

I Love the Internet!

I have told this story many times, perhaps once or twice around these parts.

I went to CU for Engineering Days between my Junior and Senior year in high school to get recruitimented for possible matriculation. It was a lot of fun. We stole the lightning rods off the planetarium, visited Ball Aerospace, and saw some very cool exhibits.

And I attended a lecture by a Math Professor. The lecture sent me home in full-tilt, know-it-all-college-hippie furor about the scourge of over population. This brilliant neo-Malthusian captured my imagination and it took me decades to overcome his arguments. It's not fair to call it indoctrination; the man had his beliefs. I felt that I was one of the few cognoscenti to understand this great secret. Kirkpatrick Sale's "Human Scale" would be released in a couple of years. The Simon Erlich wager was down the road. President Ford was in the White House. It was easy to believe the worst.

On Facebook today, I see that the lecture is available on You Tube: The Most Important Video You'll Ever See. In eight parts.

The speaker is Professor Albert Bartlett and the math in the video is solid. I have used much of it since. I do not present is an object of ridicule.

And yet, this video was recorded sometime after 2000. After Erlich had lost the wager, Bartlett gives about the same talk. I'm guessing most of our CU Engineering alumnae might have seen it in between.

While his math is solid, the failure to appreciate the boundlessness of human is reason is not. Peak Oil? Meet fracking. Over population? Meet affluence and abundance. Out of space? Let's populate the universe!

I object to the Malthusian subtext, but they are well worth a watch. Well done, You Tube!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:48 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure it was recorded after 2000. His Vail lift ticket example only went to 1993.

He's a physics professor. I was in his introductory physics class in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty one. (Whew!)

One of many memories was his explanation that colleague Linus Pauling was incorrect about something or other because he had assumed that growth (of whatever it was, maybe population) would continue at its present rate indefinitely. He was the first to teach me that things that can't go on forever, don't. Did you watch part 2? He gives a list of things that can slow down growth (without advocating for any of them.) My favorite is "pollution." There you have it: Carbon caps cause overpopulation!!! :)

P.S. I saw him in a Boulder Qdoba restaurant about a year ago, still kickin! I didn't see what I thought would have been a good opportunity to say hello. Regrettable.

Posted by: johngalt at March 26, 2013 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Nine minutes into part two he provides the 2000 census figures in his Boulder growth chart.

I certainly do not want to attack him personally. He's a dynamic teacher and the math parts of this stuck with me for the rest of my life. The rule of 70 is handy to assess vintage guitar appreciation. And he is right at 3:07 of part three "so you see, arithmetic doesn't hold in Boulder."

But I see my work here is not done. Part four, 0:55: "Now there's a wildly held belief that if you throw enough money at holes in the ground, oil is sure to come out." This, in tandem with the two-minutes-until-twelve riff, is strait out of Malthus: that we are limited by finite resources. Malthus, Erlich, and Dr. Bartlett do not accept the unlimited power of reason and human intellect. Next time, say hi and pass on a copy of David Deutsch's "Beginning of Infinity."

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2013 10:01 AM

March 24, 2013

The GOP's "Democrat Majority" Act

Otherwise known as Senator Rand Paul's incredibly disappointing 'Life at Conception Act.'

I suggested in a comment on the previous post that Democrats are the most popular at election time, when the possibility that a Republican might be elected exists. The two chief reasons for this are, in my opinion, gay marriage and abortion rights. Here is Ari Armstrong discussing Rand Paul's extremely disappointing position on the latter:

Do Republicans really believe this is a winning political strategy in 21st-century America? If so, we're more likely to see Democrats take back the House in 2014.

But the criticism is not just political, it is also rooted in moral philosophy.

The government properly recognizes each pregnant woman's right to choose whether to seek an abortion or carry her embryo or fetus to term. If the government instead pretended that an embryo is a "person" with full legal rights from the moment of conception, the government would face an immediate and stark contradiction: It would have to outlaw all abortion along with common forms of birth control and fertility treatments, which would clearly violate women's rights to their bodies, their pursuits of happiness, their liberties, their lives. Paul's position is not only logically absurd; it is also patently immoral.

The linked article is short, and worth a read.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2013

Colorado is America's Canary

Dear America,

If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government, just look at what is taking place in Colorado. Editorialist Anthony Martin suggests Colorado Democrats appear determined to start a civil war.

A state that was once friendly to gun rights has now become a hotbed of leftwing political activism that directly challenges citizen rights -- unless that citizen wishes to smoke pot legally.

This scenario only further enrages gun rights activists who view such things as the height of hypocrisy -- touting citizen rights to smoke pot while at the same time attacking citizen rights when it comes to guns.

If you want to read about the "civil war" part you'll have to click through. I'll not be accused of incitement.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government..."

Dude. Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale. http://is.gd/ASoCyG

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 12, 2013 5:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

See how easily we fail to notice when the pot is warmed gradually? We just glibly refer to the "Californication" of our state without looking to see how much further Kalifornia is trying to go at the same time. I'll share this around in Colorado circles.

My caution was meant for those in swing districts who might choose to replace their Republican congressman with a Democrat in 2014 because some Republican somewhere "frightens" them.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2013 5:56 PM
But AndyN thinks:

If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government...
Were you worried that if you didn't appear balanced you'd offend someone? I believe that there are currently 24 states in which the GOP controls both the legislative and executive branches. Is there any evidence that those state governments are attempting to trample on the rights of their citizens?

The GOP has many problems, but this particular problem is specifically a Democratic party problem.

Posted by: AndyN at March 12, 2013 6:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good question! I love good questions.

I wasn't concerned about offending anyone, as yesterday's "On Legislation and Human Rights" post should illustrate, but I was seeking to illustrate a general principle rather than a partisan lament. Now I will try to defend it.

I am less affected by the anti-liberty of Republicans than that of Democrats but I do recognize it when I see it and, as a proponent of consistency in ones principles, oppose it. For example, Arkansas just overrode the veto of its Democrat governor to implement what some call the nation's most restrictive abortion ban. If one accepts the premise that a state prohibition on abortion tramples a right of the mother, namely to control her own bodily functions, then this is an example of Republicans doing exactly what I condemn Colorado Democrats for: A partisan infringment of individual liberties.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2013 7:08 PM

March 6, 2013

Tweet of the Day



Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2013

All Hail President Carter!

<homer_simpson_voice>Jimmy Carter! He' s History's greatest monster!</homer_simpson_voice>

The Obama Administration does much to rehabilitate the legacy of our 39th. But one thing -- honest and true -- is that President Carter deregulated air travel and trucking. We forget about that's impact on our lives but it is huge.

Mark J Perry notices:


Professor Perry also makes some trenchant points about the hated-by-travelers fees as loved-by-economists unbundling.

At the end of the day, though, you can draw that graph for almost everything provided by a market not controlled by regulation. (I doubt many attorneys in the aviation industry would accept that it is "unregulated.") It is the government-meddled industries that show the rising costs.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2013

Why we Fight Over Beliefs

I've mentioned once or twice a relative who took to dating a redistributionist, and the heated discussions which were thus precipitated during family gatherings. She says she just wants us all to get along or "enjoy each other" because all of us are "great people" and should share some "common ground." So an article called Science Asks: Why Can't We All Just Get Along? was just what I needed at the moment.

We've discussed Jonathan Haidt's 'The Righteous Mind' here several times, most notably, I think, here. But Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward prefaced an excerpt with a summary that parallels Rand's idea (in 'Philosophy: Who Needs It?') that all of us have a philosophy but while some of us arrive at it consciously, others form their philosophy by accident through the myriad experiences of life.

Haidt theorizes that this kind of blindness to the real motivations of others is driving discord in Washington and around the country. Our political personalities emerge from a stew of nature, nurture (which is in part a result of feedback from the world on our natures), and the narratives we build up to explain the progression of our own lives and the working of the world around us. But they also wall us off from others:
Morality binds and blinds. This is not just something that happens to people on the other side. We all get sucked into tribal moral communities. We circle around sacred values and then share post hoc arguments about why we are so right and they are so wrong. We think the other side is blind to truth, reason, science, and common sense, but in fact everyone goes blind when talking about their sacred objects. Morality binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say

I challenge the conclusion that "we all" suffer from the delusion he describes, but I agree it largely applies to every ideological bent. The essential point here is that "everyone goes blind when talking about their sacred objects." Again, I dispute that "everyone" does but for the most part, yes.

So what can be done about this? Before reading the article I proposed to aforementioned family member a new discussion. One relating to premises and not conclusions:

"The idea is everyone can state as many premises as they like and others simply agree or disagree. No debating. We find all the things everyone agrees on."

Premise -n. (World English Dictionary) 1. logic Also: premiss a statement that is assumed to be true for the purpose of an argument from which a conclusion is drawn

I'll let you know how it goes.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2013

Is this fer real?

I'm crafting, as a background task, a post on libertarians and conspiracy theories. Being willing to "buck the trend" and disagree with Hollywood, 60 Minutes, and the NYTimes opens one up to questioning, perhaps, global warming or Keynesian economics.

Or fluoride in the water. Immunizations. Whether the shootings at Sandy Hook happened. President Bush's inside job of 9/11. Where President Obama was born. The moon landing. Genetically Modified crops. FEMA's coffins. Realistic targets for government ranges.

I am losing some libertarian friends to the items in my second paragraph. I don't want to insult somebody who is concerned about some of those -- but if you are invested in all of them, you may need to stock up on tinfoil headwear for the spring fashion season.

I have some severely heterodox beliefs and a contrarian nature. But I have NEVER SEEN THIS! Is this true?

Oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, but you'd never know it from the quick-change behavior of American car owners. Driven by an outdated 3,000-mile oil change commandment, they are unnecessarily spending millions of dollars and spilling an ocean of contaminated waste oil.

Although the average car's oil change interval is around 7,800 miles -- and as high as 20,000 miles in some cars -- this wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, continues to preach the 3,000-mile gospel as a way to keep the service bays busy. As a result, even the most cautious owners are dumping their engine oil twice as often as their service manuals recommend.

Toyota suggests 5K as people were pushing 7500.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2013

America's Development as a Nation

In a comment below, Brother jg links to a USPS page advertising the "Four Flags:"

The U.S. flag flies high with stars and stripes! Each stamp represents an important theme in America's development as a nation: Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Justice.

I thought there should be at least as many flags in the series as there are delivery days in the week, so I took the liberty of updating the series:


Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Ya dun it good, brother.

And when Saturday delivery is axed they'll can the Liberty stamp.

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2013 2:18 AM

February 9, 2013

Concious Capitalism Revisited

I was right!

There are companies that strive to be environmentally responsible. And then there is a different category of firms altogether--those on the radical extreme, which use investor dollars to wage open green activism. REI is among these. Ms. Jewell, who joined the REI board in 1996 and rose to CEO in 2005, has been central to campaigns that have squelched thousands of jobs in the name of environmental purity.

That's Kim Strassel describing Sally Jewell, President Obama's nominee for Interior Secretary: "a woman who 'knows the link between conservation and good jobs.'" Why do I link?

A) Because it's Friday, and b) Jewell and REI are lauded in John Mackey's "Conscious Conservatism," which received a paltry 2.5 stars in last Sunday's Review Corner.

REI went through this a few years ago. CEO Sally Jewell describes the process the company used: We spent time as a large leadership group, 150 people, asking, "Why does REI exist?" Then we asked ourselves five times, "Why is that important?" And two more questions: "What would happen if REI went away?" and then, "Why do I devote my creative energies to this organization?"

Mackey, John; Sisodia, Rajendra (2012-12-25). Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business (Kindle Locations 2003-2004). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

Mackey paints her as a great and visionary female leader, and highlights her compassionate treatment of suppliers. This is not explicitly at odds with Strassel's rather different portrayal as radical environmentalist, but I cannot ignore the dark shadow on Mackey's book celebrating capitalism.

Jewell participated in the opposition to the oyster farm brother jg highlighted. Strassel:

Mr. Lunny runs an 80-year-old California oyster business that had the bad luck decades ago of being enclosed in a federal park. On Monday, as Ms. Jewell polished her acceptance speech, a federal judge ordered the business evicted. Among the organizations working hardest to destroy the livelihood of Mr. Lunny and his 30 workers was the National Parks Conservation Association. Ms. Jewell is vice-chairman of its board.
REI's bigger influence, however, has come from funneling money to radical groups via the Conservation Alliance, a foundation it created with Patagonia, The North Face and Kelty in 1989. Ms. Jewell was lauded by the group in 2010 for committing REI to giving more than $100,000 a year to this outfit.

The Conservation Alliance maintains a list of the "successes" it has notched via the dollars it sends to militant environmental groups like Earthjustice. In the past few years alone that list has included "77 oil and gas leases halted" in Utah, 55,000 acres put off limits to oil and gas jobs in Colorado, the destructions of functioning dams, and the removal of millions of new acres from any business pursuit.

The Alliance is particularly proud of its role in getting the Obama team in 2012 to lock up half of Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve--set aside 90 years ago specifically for oil and gas. Rex Rock, the president of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which represents the economic interests of the Inupiat Eskimos, wrote that the decision will "cripple the lone economic driver for our communities," and make the Inupiat "exhibits in an outdoor museum."

Unadjectived Capitalism empowers individuals. Conscious Capitalism can employ the tools of production to a statist agenda. Whole Foods pushes organic farming and a dietary vision. REI shuts down an 80 year old business. I'm quite pleased that Mackey has expressed clear appreciation for capitalism and taken some brave stands against ObamaCare®.

I feel I'm attacking a friendly flank, but "Conscious Capitalism" includes some profoundly wrong ideas.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2013

Everything I believe.

Here it is:

I swear the guy has been cribbing off my notes!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:50 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

My introductory rate expired and I had to cancel Stossel (or pony up $18/mo). I know only what I hear on the street.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2013 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is well past time to alert blog readers to a debate on the fairness of taxation I have engaged with several FB friends for some days now. (122 comments and counting.) It has led to something of a breakthrough as far as I'm concerned regarding a new combination of a flat (amount, not rate) tax on individuals plus a flat (rate) consumption tax. This is both efficacious and fair because, as I wrote:

The compulsory part is equal and therefore fair; the unequal part is elective and therefore also fair. The only losers are those in government who want to control or punish others.
Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2013 4:01 PM

January 2, 2013

Selection Bias

I tease about Facebook, but there are some jewels:

Posted by John Kranz at 6:23 PM | Comments (2)
But dagny thinks:

This, on the other hand, and in comparison to what I wrote above is HILARIOUS! Funny all the time Mike.

Posted by: dagny at January 4, 2013 7:14 PM
But Jk thinks:

I thought this was biting social commentary...

Posted by: Jk at January 4, 2013 8:57 PM

December 26, 2012

Lack of Leftist's Canon

We've discussed this around here. It speaks to me of why it is so unsatisfying to argue with those on the left. They have no literary canon and little foundational philosophy.

Insty linked this yesterday, but I wanted to wait until at least midnight of Christmas before posting an "everybody who disagrees with is an irrational, unlearned fool" post. And yet, it is true:

The real intellectual vacuum underlies not the Left as such but people who style themselves liberals, but not socialists—i.e., I’m guessing, most Democrats. Where are their intellectual roots?
For about a decade I team-taught a course on Contemporary Moral Problems with a prominent philosopher of language. He argued the liberal side of each issue; I argued the conservative side. I had no shortage of philosophical material on which to rely. He and I both assumed, since liberalism is supposedly the position that informed, intelligent people occupy, that there were similar philosophical foundations for liberalism. We were both astounded that there were not. For someone who seeks to be a liberal, but not a totalitarian, there is Rousseau, on one interpretation of his thought. And that’s about it.

I'd kill for my lefty friends to throw Marx or Rousseau at me. I am more likely to get a link to a Jon Stewart clip or a TED talk -- but that might speak more against my friends than the movement. Yet I have never heard anyone say the left can match our Cannon:
But their real question isn’t about literature. It’s about philosophy. The conservative movement rests on a series of great thinkers: Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Burke, Mill, Hayek, von Mises, etc. Where are the intellectual foundations of the Left?

Popper spends Volume I of "The Open Society and its Enemies" dismantling the Plato - Kant - Hegel philosophical wing. Add Marx and Schopenhauer and I'll give the left an honest thought tradition (if it indeed tends sadly towards totalitarianism).

But I sure like the skill and depth of our side.

UPDATE: Mea Culpa! "Cannon" corrected to "canon" twice.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 AM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Of course leftists lack a cannon. They favor gun control. You don't expect David Gregory to start brandishing an M198 on national television, do you?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 26, 2012 1:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The weapon of leftists, more powerful than a cannon (or canon) is: unearned guilt.

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2012 2:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, there's never an editor around when you need one. ("Cannon" corrected twice to "canon.")

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2012 3:53 PM

December 15, 2012

An Insect Speaks Up!

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -- Robert A. Heinlein
I'm going to try unfurling the Ricardo flag one more time as it seems my work here is not done. On Facebook today, I find my fundamental beliefs under siege from a diverse coalition.

Two ThreeSources heroes, Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein pay homage to the titans of industry that can dig a mine and grow tomatoes. Yet I remain a Ricardian and a Schumpeterian. I don't want to farm. Nor do I want the CEO of my company, or the lady who's going to cure cancer, or my favorite musicians spending half their day with a hoe wishing for rain. Comparative advantage is counter-intuitive but makes us all richer. In my personal instance it is the difference between life and death.

I wrote an essay long ago on a great speech by former Fed President Robert McTeer. The link to the whole speech is busted, but I found it here. (McTeer's speech is much better than my essay.)

The broken window fallacy is perpetrated in many forms. Most of the time, jobs are invoked. Whenever job creation or retention is the primary objective I call it the job-counting fallacy. Economics majors understand the nonintuitive reality that real progress comes from job destruction. It once took 90 percent of our population to grow our food. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Pardon me, Willie, but are we worse off because of the job losses in agriculture? The would-have-been farmers are now college professors and computer gurus or singing the country blues on Sixth Street.

By all means, put me down for the Heinleinian ideal hog-butcherin', invasion-plannin', poet guy. Always good to know more than less. But I see a luddite coalition that is ready to organize society that way. A frequent ally in the Facebook philosophical soup says:
Never in the history of mankind has the population been so disconnected from the land from which we all come. Christ, 40%+ of the population would starve to death without electricity -- let than damning statement sink in for a minute -- and yet we endeavor to make life easier still?!? really?

Um, yeah. Food comes from the store and the real opportunities to explore the upper bounds of human reason are higher up Maslow's pyramid.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

First, I agree with you. I come only to defend the ability and freedom that permit individuals a choice to go "off the grid."

The distinction between the better life afforded by ever greater convenience and technology and the self-reliant life of splitting one's own firewood is in the words "able" and "necessary." Using your Facebook friend's figures, 60% of the population is "able" to survive on their own if "necessary." But taking Rand's point in particular, our "easier" life is made possible by men like Hank Rearden, yet dangles at the mercy of men like Wesley Mouch. When the costs imposed by Mouch exceeded the returns of the easier life, men like Rearden stop trading. If one doesn't have the knowledge and prediliction for self-sufficiency he is hostage to men like Mouch. The more a man knows and embraces survival "off the grid" the less willing he will be to endure the abuses of democracy.

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2012 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

In fairness, I must share this line I encontered early in Starship Troopers:

Carl and I had done everything together in high school -- eyed the girls together, double-dated together, been on the debate team together, pushed electrons together in his home lab. I wasn't much on electronic theory myself, but I'm a neat hand with a soldering gun; Carl supplied the skull sweat and I carried out his instructions. It was fun; anything we did together was fun.

Heinlein, Robert A. (1987-05-15). Starship Troopers (pp. 22-23). Ace. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2012 1:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heinlein really said that? It flies in the face of prosperity that comparative advantage creates.

The quote would have been better stated:

"A human being should be able to learn to..."

But even then it's not entirely accurate. Even with a person's ability to learn new skills as the situation warrants, it's precisely because of my unique confluence of skills, which nobody else could learn, that made me so valuable at my job, while others were relegated to delivering mail and managing portfolios badly.

Am I "hostage" to the grocery store, because they supply me with pork? Or are they hostage to me and other customers?

"The direction of all economic affairs is in the market society a task of the entrepreneurs. Theirs is the control of production. They are at the helm and steer the ship. A superficial observer would believe that they are supreme. But they are not. They are bound to obey unconditionally the captain's orders. The captain is the consumer." - Mises, Human Action

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2012 7:21 PM

December 3, 2012

Good Stuff

Insty links to a fascinating piece today by Professor Paul Rahe. It's longer and deeper than a typical blog post or opinion column, but it contains food for thought for ThreeSourcers of all stripes and spots.

I debase it by excerpting, but the ThreeSources Style Guide is pretty strict:

Lest I bore you and fail to provoke sound and fury, let me preface my remarks by saying two things: that libertarians should be social conservatives and vice-versa.

My argument with regard to social conservatives is implicit in the criticism that I addressed to the Catholic hierarchy in a series of posts in and after February, 2012, the first and fiercest of which can be found here. It comes down to this: In embracing the administrative entitlements state, as they have, Catholic churchmen and their Protestant counterparts have lent aid and comfort to those who believe that we can establish heaven right here on earth and they have led their flocks to mistake the Machiavellian maneuver of forcefully taking from one citizen to support another for a fulfillment of the Christian duty of charity. Moreover, their desire to sustain the political alliance devoted to expanding the welfare state caused them to knowingly downplay the enormity of murdering 50 million unborn children, and now their erstwhile allies are rewarding them for their moral obtuseness over many years by making them complicit with mass murder. In sum, they made a pact with the devil, and payment is now due. The proper setting for the practice of Christian charity is a free-market society. The rise of the welfare state and the decline of Christianity go hand in hand. To see this, one need only go to church in Europe.

But why should libertarians be social conservatives? Why shouldn't they embrace libertinism in the manner of the folks at Reason?
Why, then, you may ask -- if you even remember the question I posed some paragraphs back -- should libertarians be social conservatives? The answer is simple. Single mothers and their offspring are bound for the most part to become wards of the state. For a man and a woman who are married to rear offspring is a chore. It may be fulfilling, but it is demanding and hard. It requires sacrifice and discipline. For a single person to do so and to do it well requires a species of heroism. For a single person to do so at all requires help -- and that is where we are. For we now take it for granted that we are to pay for the mistakes that the single mother (and her sexual partner) made. We now, in fact, presume that she is entitled to our help -- and we now have a political party in power built on that premise. We are to pay for her groceries through WIC (Women, Infants, Children), for her medical care through Medicaid, for the contraceptives that she does not have the discipline to use properly and for the morning-after pill should she slip up and need an abortion. Her right to be promiscuous trumps our right to the fruits of our own labor.

What I would say to libertarians is this: Liberty requires a responsible citizenry, and the sexual revolution (very much like the drug culture, which was and is its Doppelgänger) promotes irresponsibility of every kind. It promotes dependence, and it fosters an ethos in which those who exercise the virtues fostered by the market are punished for doing so and in which those who live for present pleasure are rewarded.

He links to some video excerpts from his interview and -- again -- the column offers much more than ThreeSources internecine fodder.

Lastly, I am going to spike the football and digress. I'm struck by the paucity (that's being generous) of anything half this serious from my friends on the left. Yes I receive (and forward and provide) inane stuff from the right -- they do not have a monopoly on the puerile. But, when I see something remotely serious advocating progressive policies, it usually comes from a liberty loving friend (Sugarchuck reads The Nation so I don't have to). My FB friends put up Jon Stewart clips or a Thomas Friedman column. Maybe it is my cross-section.

Hat-tip: Instapundit for the intelligent Rahe piece; the rant at the end is mine.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

This looks like a serious writing and I do appreciate Rahe. It deserves a serious analysis but I'll give an off-the-cuff comment now just the same.

Rahe's premise in saying "Liberty requires a responsible citizenry" is that if an element of the citizenry is irresponsible some other element will step in to save them from their anti-survival behavior. But what if those who didn't preserve themselves were allowed to perish?

I'm not suggesting this as public policy (yet) but as a thought experiment.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2012 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

My snappy comeback was in a similar vein. I -- and a bunch of those wacky libertines at Reason -- would rather address the interstice of the behavior and the need it creates. If you can support your own kid, I'm pretty squeamish telling you you have to have a marriage license.

By numbers, Rahe (and Gov. Huckabee and Senator Santorum) is right. But I want to be allowed to do things that are statistically suspect. Perhaps there is a cultural role in Toquevillian values but I cannot accept a government one.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2012 4:09 PM

Missing from Ayn Rand's Economics

For a guy who started with Rand and then went on to economists, I was pretty impressed on my return trip with her grasp of free market economics. Atlas Shrugged is built on respect for property rights and capitalism, but her love for hard money and her understanding of spontaneous order seem deft in the middle of "a philosophy book." The invisible hand is well represented as is the nature of economic actors as both producers and consumers.

But it struck me this morning that she is missing Ricardo's comparative advantage, and that this omission leads to the suspicions of the heroic ideal nature of the characters. Eddie Willers is important to Taggart Transcontinental and Ms. Ives at Rearden Steel. I don't know if they are purposefully undervalued or merely overlooked, but it is never recognized that Hank should not be picking up his own dry cleaning.

Maybe Midas Mulligan grows a fine tomato and John Galt can swap out a faucet washer as quick as you please -- but recognizing a truly modern economy requires not only the benefit of trade but also of organization and comparative advantage. A is A, but Apple requires a Steve Jobs and a battery engineer and a type designer and some folks to keep the trash baskets emptied.

Maybe it's a small thing, but it is a miss. Left Eddie on the flippin' train, she did...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

It is a small thing, and it is in there - at least in the case of Eddie Willers. I vaguely recall the discussion that he was the confident industrialist in his own sphere of expertise. I'll take it as a homework assignment to find the passage and elaborate on the lesson in it.

And if I'm wrong - if you've found a error (or even an omission) in Rand's philosophical worldview - it will be the first example ever presented to me in my ten-plus years of being her student.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2012 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, that, and it's total trash and she is selfish and hates people and wants to see us eat our own children...

Willers gets some kind comments (but still gets left on the dang train at the end). Not sure Ives does. I would not call it an error. Somewhere between omission and underappreciated, there are competent people who are not Hank Rearden but contribute mightily to production.

The applause for the great ones' skill at manual labor is contradicted by comparative advantage: yes, the great cancer researcher probably does do a better job mowing his yard than the neighbor kid. But we are all better off if he slides Buster Jr. a twenty and heads off to work. I don't think you'll find a good example of that in Atlas.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2012 4:01 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It seems to me that Rand does give credit to various TT workingmen (Bill Brent, the engineers) and to the importance of making a superb hamburger (though it turns out the chef is the world's leading philosopher...) but I think Eddie's last scene is supposed to be symbolic. Without a Dagny or Galt to lead, a Willers could only get the trains part way across the country.

There is also the bit about the Rearden Steel union and its workers, put in a positive light.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 6:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Didn't do my homework last night but wanted to respond to your comparative advantage critique from my own perspective as a reader.

Comparative advantage is a fine principle in a free market, but it is a principle of optimization. A free market can function just fine without it. One of the main themes of Atlas, however, is that men of the mind would prefer to withhold the product of their genius than to have an ever growing share of it confiscated by "society" through the democratic authority of its government. In the startup phase of their isolated free market in Galt's Gulch there are not enough people to excel at every skill, so highly specialized people face the prospect of doing for themselves or going without. They choose to do for themselves.

There's a secondary point being made here: While laborers need men of the mind in order to survive or at least to prosper, men of the mind can do just fine without laborers. Labor is universal; genius is not.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 2:39 PM
But Steve D thinks:

Remember we are talking about a novel, not a philosophical treatise.Labor is universal; genius is not; is a general principle but it doesn't necessarily apply to every individual case. No one human being can do everything, nor should he.

Posted by: Steve D at December 4, 2012 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

@SteveD: I wonder, have you've read jk's Review Corner of last Sunday? I believe a major conclusion he reached was that Atlas Shrugged is both a novel and a philosophical treatise.

But you have, I think, caught me out in an error. Labor is no more universal than genius. From my earliest memories comes a license plate in my grandfather's workshop: "Fight Poverty: WORK!" Conversely, for any man willing to embrace his rational faculty, genius is no lofty, unattainable ideal. This was, after all, Rand's very point!

Thank you, most sincerely.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 4:50 PM

November 29, 2012

Just Wrong!

Do we require a new category for all our antipathy toward the great spiritual leaders of the world? I gotta be me. A drummer I've known for forever posts this on Facebook. It's from LoveMeditationCenter.

I will aggravate one blog friend by bashing a man he admires and I will annoy one blog brother by doing it on a weekend he is moving and cannot join in. But this is simply wrong and untrue.

It sounds great -- I can see the appeal. But it is at best a false dichotomy: "successful people" and "peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds" are two different groups? Stephen King? JK Rowling? Joss Whedon? Dr. Phil? And if they were -- is it prima facie obvious that the latter is better? Another Bill Gates or another Mother Theresa?

This is perhaps harmless twaddle (although a guy in the middle of Atlas is not full of treacle forgiveness and twaddle tolerance). I would not put it with his embrace of Marxism. But twaddle is a known gateway drug to irrationality, is it not? Saying something that sounds good but is not is a special brand of perfidy.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:53 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

And here we thought President Obama was king of the strawman argument. There's still a lot he could learn from the master.

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2012 3:51 AM
But jk thinks:

"Destruction is the only end that the mystics' creed has ever achieved, as it is the only end that you see them achieving today, and if the ravages wrought by their acts have not made them question their doctrines, if they profess to be moved by love, yet are not deterred by piles of human corpses, it is because the truth about their souls is worse than the obscene excuse you have allowed them, the excuse that the end justifies the means and that the horrors they practice are means to nobler ends. The truth is that those horrors are their ends."

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 1046). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2012 12:49 PM
But Jk thinks:

QOTD.Read 'em and weep: http://www.terrigoon.com/qotd-28/

Posted by: Jk at December 2, 2012 10:35 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Moved, but still not too, too late to join in! :) I'll just add: What the planet really, really doesn't need is more guys who jet around the world in red robes, with every thread and plane ticket provided out of the subsistence income of poor schmucks who think he's some kind of GodMan. THAT'S what the planet doesn't need more of.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 5:11 PM

November 20, 2012

Compassion yes, Altruism no

I have discovered a research institute at Stanford University that was established "to support and conduct rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruistic behavior." Naturally my interest was piqued (and my antennae were raised.)

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education or CCARE states its vision thusly:

Create a multi-disciplinary environment whereby compassion and altruism studies are supported and legitimized within the broader scientific community. To use research advances to create tools that allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward themselves and others.

First I note that I have yet to see the term "altruism" appear without the companion term "compassion." I assert that it cannot stand on its own. Altruism requires the aid of compassion to gain "support" and "legitimacy."

Secondly, the institute appears to not fully comprehend the full meaning of the concept of altruism:

1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others ( opposed to egoism).

By the stated intent to promote within humans "altruistic behaviors toward themselves" they have revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of the notion of altruism. Their vision can be interpreted as promoting selfishness or egoism as self-altruism, though I wholly doubt that is their intent. I would be tempted to adopt that more "socially acceptable" description into a defense of rational self-interest, but it is a meaningless term: Unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of, yourself. (Harcourt Fenton Mudd, call your office.)

So here, at a scientific institute devoted to the study and advancement of altruism, at one of the nation's most prestigious research universities, the principals are unable to assert that their motive is to "allow humans to become more compassionate and to engage more readily in altruistic behaviors toward others." Even with the support of the term compassion, selflessness is a non-starter.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:24 PM | Comments (6)
But Jk thinks:

Q: Is the accepted general use of altruism fundamentally different from your precise use? I thought this the case, but a brief perusal of Comte on Wikipedia seems fair.

Q2: if yes, should we play a political game and assign a neologism that can be refuted without being "the army against nice!?"

Posted by: Jk at November 20, 2012 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe the accepted general use is altruism = compassion. I contend the two must be cleaved.

How to do that is, as you suggest, the rub. I think a good start is to always say compassion is good before trying to discredit altruism: Compassion yes, altruism no. Shall we call it the "CYAN hypothesis?"

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

CYAN Project? Nifty colored bracelets!

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2012 5:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Oooh bracelets -- please tell me you saw the South Park "Scauses."

Kind of like "liberal," though, I think the word is ruined. I think you come out against "self-slavery" or "communitarian shackles" or something which you can define. Instead of "I'm a liberal against altruism. Only I am not a 'liberal' as you define it nor do I oppose 'altruism' as you understand it." Not really fitting on a bracelet I could wear...

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 6:33 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

In an honest, non-Orwellian world, they'd just call themselves the Anti Rand Institute.


That part is self-denying; I really don't want anyone else "tapping" that at all.

"Disseminate research findings on an international scale using a number of media forums."

I see red flags all over this....

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 24, 2012 12:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, NB. Me too. But they can't be stopped, only countered. That has been the Liberty movement's problem all along - that there wasn't any movement!

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2012 12:15 PM

November 19, 2012

The Origin (and Limits) of Man's Inalienable Human Rights

I referred to this talk in a comment on the Dalai Lama post. ("our case")

It is also the talk that precipitated an inspired discussion after the latest Liberty on the Rocks.

It most certainly deserves an embed.

Viewer's assignment: Distill the objective origin of man's rights into a single-floor elevator speech and recite it in the comments.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

I did enjoy it from your link (thanks Ari!) It is a good talk and the preternaturally handsome family behind him is only the tiniest of distractions.

If my irrational Facebook friends cannot be reached by the historical records of Capitalism, however, I cannot accept that they will be convinced by the ironclad proof of rights that Biddle proposes.

After a long weekend's typing, I think ThreeSourcers need accept the existence of a Platonic-Aristotelian split on the right. The Rand-Popper-Aristotle wing seems genuinely amazed at the existence of a Platonic, mystical, religious group of people who value liberty and accept Democratic Capitalism as the best means of organization (Michael Novak, line one...)

This crowd is a superb example. I love the ethereal intellectual exercise and wish I had traversed the icy tundra to make it. I applaud both speaker and listener for participating. But moving forward, could the time spent converting right wing Platonics to right wing Aristotelians be more fruitfully spent on the left?

The source of my birthright liberty? I learned from Thomas Jefferson that I was endowed by my creator with inalienable rights. And I learned from my blog brother that a synonym for my creator is "Mom and Dad."

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2012 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think the disconnect between the Platonic and the Aristotelian is the presence or absence of the word some between "value" and "liberty." The Platonists want to reserve what they consider their God-given right to pick and choose, not just for themselves but for others. If we could only disabuse that notion...

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2012 6:06 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

So, where does a very busy NB find the LotR schedule? I'm especially intrigued by JG's comment of a kid friendly event at Miller's grill (which had a past reputation for doing that all the time).

I can only find a LotR/Denver FB page. Please advise.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 20, 2012 1:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Our newest blog brother, Bryan, is co-founder. Their FB page is here and I could forward your email to get on the mailing list with your permission.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2012 9:01 AM

November 16, 2012

Pragmatism, the big fight, and the Dalai Lama

Sadly for ThreeSourcers, a great mind and good friend of this blog is more comfortable engaging me personally on some issues. Y'all are the poorer for this person's reticence. I will summarize, badly, the key points of the thread. And then of course crash down to prove I am right!

Summary point number one is a pragmatic response to our little party bashing the Dalai Lama, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Mahatmas Gandhi. There's a great old saying about "picking one's battles" and I think I was close to my interlocutor's side when I asked blog brother jg whether we really had to open multiple fronts on belief in a Supreme Being and the plotline of every successful piece of fiction save seven since the dawn of time.

It seems a far steeper climb than liberty. I am comfortable making economic arguments and I can see that every now and then, somebody actually listens and considers them. My interlocutor suggests that atheism and anti-altruism are nonstarters and that few will ever hear the message of liberty that underpins it.

I made a valiant effort. "Philosophy should seek truth and not an electoral plurality," says I. "And besides, you misspelled 'pillock.'"

But I confess I lack the heart for the quixotic quest. I'd rather play at the margins. So I pick one fight, one unbeatable foe. And that is, of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And in this post, I will run where the brave dare not go. I will use the only tool at my disposal: the Internet segue.

Segue intro: Great Chinese Famine starves 36 million people to death. (Link tries to sign you up for readability.com but you can tough it out and read if you scroll down.)

The Great Leap Forward that Mao began in 1958 set ambitious goals without the means to meet them. A vicious cycle ensued; exaggerated production reports from below emboldened the higher-ups to set even loftier targets. Newspaper headlines boasted of rice farms yielding 800,000 pounds per acre. When the reported abundance could not actually be delivered, the government accused peasants of hoarding grain. House-to-house searches followed, and any resistance was put down with violence.

Meanwhile, since the Great Leap Forward mandated rapid industrialization, even peasants' cooking implements were melted down in the hope of making steel in backyard furnaces, and families were forced into large communal kitchens. They were told that they could eat their fill. But when food ran short, no aid came from the state. Local party cadres held the rice ladles, a power they often abused, saving themselves and their families at the expense of others. Famished peasants had nowhere to turn.

In the first half of 1959, the suffering was so great that the central government permitted remedial measures, like allowing peasant families to till small private plots of land for themselves part time. Had these accommodations persisted, they might have lessened the famine's impact. But when Peng Dehuai, then China's defense minister, wrote Mao a candid letter to say that things weren't working, Mao felt that both his ideological stance and his personal power were being challenged. He purged Peng and started a campaign to root out "rightist deviation." Remedial measures like the private plots were rolled back, and millions of officials were disciplined for failing to toe the radical line.

The result was starvation on an epic scale. By the end of 1960, China's total population was 10 million less than in the previous year. Astonishingly, many state granaries held ample grain that was mostly reserved for hard currency-earning exports or donated as foreign aid; these granaries remained locked to the hungry peasants. "Our masses are so good," one party official said at the time. "They would rather die by the roadside than break into the granary."

Segue conclusion: And, yet, the Dalai Lama prefers this "let these swell masses die by the roadside" philosophy to that which brought them out of privation and provided a taste of freedom and natural rights. (I linked before, with actual, all caps profanity).
"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.

However, he credited China's embrace of market economics for breaking communism's grip over the world's most populous country and forcing the ruling Communist Party to "represent all sorts of classes".

"(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people's living standards improved," he said.

Yeah, that is swell and all. But I think I like the system that starves 36 million. Just personal preference, y'know, tomato-tomahto...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

Where does Dalai Lamas authority come from again? A spiritual monarchy I believe. Not a king, not a priest, but both. And in future, a communist puppet.

The 14th Dalai Lama remained the head of state for the Central Tibetan Administration ("Tibetan government in exile") until his retirement on March 14, 2011. He has indicated that the institution of the Dalai Lama may be abolished in the future, and also that the next Dalai Lama may be found outside Tibet and may be female.[2] The Chinese government was very quick to reject this and claimed that only it has the authority to select the next Dalai Lama.

"Select?" Yet his appeal remains strong - his mysticism all the more mysterious. So one must acknowledge that there are barriers in the human mind which reason may not cross. This led Rand to advise us: "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence cannot be persuaded by it." She told us to leave these people alone. Unfortunately for us, these people may still vote. Pragmatically, that means we no longer have the luxury of leaving them alone.

The original premise was that altruistic theists would dismiss appeals to liberty that challenged their beliefs. It seems a mind that, like the Dalai Lama's can acknowledge capitalism's success yet still prefer its antithesis, will be difficult to reach with any argument.

So the first basis of Dalai Lama's "miserableness" is not his pronouncements of collectivist beliefs but the miserable thought process that leads him to them.

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2012 11:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

@jk, your comment that passed mine in the ether is segue to the second thought I wanted to make but reserved for later so as not to dilute the first. Namely, the steadfast refusal to grant the sanction of silence.

All are free to hold their chosen ideas. And of course the freedom of speech remains as well. I'm reminded of the scene from The Life of Brian where multiples of self-professed Jesuses seek to persuade and convert adherents simultaneously. Let the Marxists make their case in a free marketplace of ideas. Likewise the champions of other supernatural faiths. We are now obligated, more than ever, to make our case for the individual liberty that man's nature demands. [Don't be alarmed at the 90-minute length. The talk is 37 and remainder is Q&A.]

But this is a long-term proposition and the previously mentioned agreement to coexist must be honored immediately, for the consequence of initiating force is force in return. (This warning is meant for those who, having seen their standard-bearer's re-election, may be tempted to tighten government's grip around producer's necks.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 17, 2012 2:33 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

So who decides who is reasonable? And once this is ironed out and the reasonable are forced to confront the unreasonable, what exactly does that confrontation look like? It must, necessarily for their own good and ours, mean revoking their right to vote and their right to self determination. And once they are no longer allowed to participate in our democracy they shouldn't need the same constitutional protections the rest of us enjoy. That only seems reasonable.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at November 17, 2012 2:40 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Am I following this thread correctly? We are looking to promote individual liberty, but only for the reasonable? Hmm...

Posted by: Sugarchuck at November 17, 2012 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

No. Methinks you are not reading this thread correctly. I'm looking for the exact line that suggested disenfranchisement.

I think I can speak for most that the irrational may be allowed to vote, drink, eat, bid on the last box of Twinkies® on eBay, and post political humor on Facebook. None want to take that away (a day off might be nice but...)

The suggestion is that they who cannot be reached by reason are ignored. And it is the shame of our overweening government that they this is so difficult.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2012 5:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What I'd really like to see is that nobody decides anything for anyone else, reasonable or not. But our democratic institutions prevent this at the present time. The outcome of elections overrules, more and more, our own self-determination.

What I am advocating is a concerted effort to promote a theory of individual liberty that doesn't rely upon God, Creator, or even the Constitution. This is necessary because those arguments are no longer sufficient to prevent a plurality from voting against liberty. We can debate the reasons but the conclusion was just proven: Six million more Americans thought it moral to force the "wealthy" to sacrifice even more in the name of helping, no longer just the poor, but the middle class.

Right now the traditional arguments of self-reliance are not preventing the advancement of the welfare state and its own faith dogma. A new argument is needed to confront the statists. For many reasons, that argument must be a secular one.

In my lifetime I have witnessed an evolution of faith. I suggest that the faithful must now accept liberty as a prerequisite to their faith, not as a replacement for it. Until they do I fear we will keep losing elections.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2012 12:42 PM

November 14, 2012

The Anti-Rand

The dangerous ideas of the Dalai Lama. Loved by all. The high priest of Facebook philosophy.

When asked about the tens of millions of Chinese who dug themselves out of privation and poverty after being gifted a small portion of their natural rights to property and self-ownership. Robespierre in robes thought it nice but that Marxism has "moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits." What's the death of 100 million at the hands of the state and billions kept in hunger and squalor? As long as his delicate sensibilities are preserved.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

And Mom! And Apple Pie! And we hate baseball!

I'll go with you 66%, brother. Gandhi and this guy are evil and overrated. But, while MLK gets perhaps more credit for his later career than is deserved, the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956 is a legend in liberty. Any later economic and personal transgressions pale in comparison.

The rendition of Montgomery in Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate" is stunning. MLK was the Fleetwood Mac of freedom fighters: all the attention paid to his later work with the great genius all but forgotten.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 1:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Capitalism is only how to make profits."

Partially true, but only profit is truly moral. Just consider the alternative.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 4:13 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Okay, I'll go along with MLK doing a lot of good in certain circumstances. Credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 4:31 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

ADDED: I am sorry to say I haven't read Caro's book(s) yet, either. Will get on that!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 14, 2012 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I do go on about them. But they are true and absolute masterpieces.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Another entry in the nascent "What if?" series:

What if Dalai Lama only wore and used objects invented in Marxist economic states?

Would that preclude:

Jet aircraft?

Posted by: johngalt at November 15, 2012 5:04 PM

November 8, 2012

Non-linear events

The Refugee promised to help bring Blog Brother JK out of his post-election funk. Never let it be said that he isn't there for a friend. Especially if it involves coffee.

Many on the right, perhaps including our illustrious blog leader, postulate that we have crossed a rubicon of takers versus makers, never to return. They are ready to Go Galt. However, The Refugee can recall his grandfather having a similar view in the '70s. Of course, Ronald Reagan was later elected to the great benefit of the American ideal.

The problem with making long-range forecasts is that they assume linear events. An unforeseen event of sufficient magnitude can completely alter the tragectory of a society's direction. The depression certainly did so by making conditions ripe for the era of big government. It could be argued that the Iran hostage crisis make Reagan's ascension possible. Such events, in this case, might include the financial meltdown of Europe or major war in the Middle East. The Refugee sees these events as virtual certainties (although he will not make predictions of timing, having been wrong about Israel attacking Iran before the election). Either of these events would change this country's trajectory, although the revised course is unpredictable. Nevertheless, such events are opportunities to reassert ideas at a time when people are listening.

The fundamental human yearning to be free is unquenchable. Good ideas will always come back into fashion, often when least expected. Keep blogging, my friend.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 9:35 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Martin Van Buren is elected in 1836. He has nationalized the Tammany Hall/New York political machine, the demography of those way out west states like Kentucky and Ohio favor the Democrats. After a landslide victory to succeed Jackson, clearly it's all over nobody will ever beat the Democrats.

Then, the Panic of 1837 and Van Buren loses in the 1840 rematch to William Henry Harrison.

Excellent point. I'm cheering up.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 9:58 AM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Right now the only question in my mind is whether it will be the Panic of 2013 or 2014.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 9, 2012 3:14 PM
But jk thinks:

You're that confident about December, eh?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 3:34 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Non-linear event:- Petreuas esigning - Benghazigate? Yes, he says he had an affair, but could it open the gate to other revelations? Probably The Refugee just hoping against hope.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 9, 2012 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

You mean when those mean old Republicans force a decorated war hero to resign because of their indefatigable pursuit of a ginned-up scandal to tarnish our great President?

That one?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2012 4:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not content to wait for some random event to reassert ideas. In fact, unless the public's preference for security over liberty is reversed in advance there's an equally likely chance that some unforseen event will precipitate a totalitarian state as it will a free one.

I don't necessarily agree that our society will never return, but I absolutely agree that it has crossed a rubicon - and longer ago than this week. I'll post evidence of this soon.

Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2012 4:44 PM

November 5, 2012

Albert Jay Nock: The Masses and the Remnant

Have you read the Book of Isiah lately? As we head into tomorrow and the Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I recall what the great Albert Jay Nock had to say in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1936:

It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash. (...)

"Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life." (...)

Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it." (...)

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

One may, if one has actually had a semblance of an education, recall that the Founders made sure the masses would not have a real voice in how the United States was to be run. As in every Republic in history, this gradually broke down. 1913, 1933, 1965...each step in the process seemed right at the time. There were good reasons; all the best professors at America's finest universities taught them.

And so we have come to this pass. Tomorrow, I expect that the masses will reelect the President and accelerate the time whent he Remant must again rebuild a failing society. Take a deep breath, Three Sourcers. We are a piece of the Remnant and better put on our armor and sharpen our swords, for truly the Scheiss is coming.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 3:14 PM | Comments (4)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I realize that this is serving as a sort of election prediction. I would be delighted to be proven wrong tomorrow. If so, I will happily go right out of the Prophecy business!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at November 5, 2012 3:47 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Might I add, when the Scheiss hits the rotary impeller, it will not be distributed evenly.

Isaiah had an unenviable job laid out before him. I disagree with you about tomorrow's expectations, but even with the SCOAMF departing 1600 Pennsylvania, it only slows down the process. Eventually, all Republics follow the course of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

That being said, it will be the place of the Remnant to rebuild in the aftermath of the economic carnage, and I'd recall these words to your mind for that situation:

"The road is cleared," said Galt. "We are going back to the world."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 5, 2012 4:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"SURVIVOR: US Economic Collapse Edition"

Posted by: johngalt at November 5, 2012 5:16 PM
But dagny thinks:

Seems like there are several places I could put this reply but I am going to put it here because, I think I must be counted among the pessimists at this time. I don’t wish to be remnant. Such re-building will require guns, and hunger. I might survive such but as one of the few parents on this blog, I realize that it would be very hard on my little kids. It will cost them a childhood if not more.

I remember on election eve 4 years ago thinking that we would probably win because there was no way that 50% of our electorate was stupid enough to vote for such a thinly-veiled, failed socialist ideology. Boy was I wrong! I clearly misjudged our electorate. I still don’t think they are mostly stupid, naïve, uneducated, or lazy. I think they are mostly irrational. I don’t think they are intentionally or maliciously irrational. I think they are unknowingly trained to be irrational.

For example, many say that, “health care is a right, everyone should have healthcare.” But they also agree that Doctors, Nurses, and Janitors in hospitals deserve to be paid. So how can I have a, “right,” to someone else’s efforts? But the vast majority of Americans are capable of holding these and many other inherently contradictory ideas.

So I think they will re-elect Barack Obama because they are incapable of recognizing which policies have resulted in our current economic woes, and which policies might correct them based on rational analysis. I sure hope I am wrong again!

Win or lose, I will continue my efforts to fight the destruction of this country as we know it.

As my jg says, “Atlas Shrugged was a cautionary tale, not a blueprint.”

Posted by: dagny at November 5, 2012 8:45 PM

October 31, 2012

A Tribute to Reason

A Facebook friend -- not one of those, just an old musician buddy -- pens a poetic post about how nature reclaimed the island of Manhattan in the storm. It was well written.

But it was, of course, complete balderdash: hooey, if I may use such low tones.

Nature, threw a 100-year-storm punch at 50 million people. Thanks to the powers of reason and our accumulated innovation, those 50 million predicted and projected the storm, then took action to evade or prepare for it. Then they commenced to mop up.

The last death toll I saw was 61 and you know me better than to make light of it. Sadly, it is sure to increase substantially. But we are talking on the order of 1 in 1,000,000. I regret to remind that a similar storm hitting the Serengeti or the Island as purchased for $24 would kill almost everything in its wake, likely eradicating whole species.

We fangless, hairless, shivering homo sapiens watched the storm from our satellites and drove away in our SUVs or hunkered down in reinforced shelters with copious amounts of alcohol.

The lights were on in Times Square in every shot I saw. And now:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two major airports reopened and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange came back to life Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to rescue flood victims and fires still raged two days after Superstorm Sandy.

For the first time since the storm battered the Northeast, killing at least 61 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation's largest city -- a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

So hooray for our side! If it was exacerbated by global warming -- which I do not accept -- even if, the products of that innovation and wealth saved millions of people.

Humans armed with reason.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

Awesome link -- we not only don't die, we don't stop delivery!!!!

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2012 3:47 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I say, not just a tribute to reason, but a tribute to the free market. I always like to say, "when you've lost the New York Times..."

Yes, that seething hotbed of right-wing propaganda, the New York Times, published an opinion piece that dares criticize FEMA, and praises Wal*Mart:


Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 31, 2012 5:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Or -- and I kind of am making light of casualties:

Panicking cow kills Palestinian in Muslim feast

A panicking cow killed a Palestinian man who was trying to slaughter the beast on Saturday during the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha, a Gaza health official said.


In addition to the death, Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra said that 150 other people were hospitalized in the Gaza Strip with knife wounds or other injuries caused by animals trying to break away.
Posted by: jk at October 31, 2012 6:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Compromise: I'll not make fun of the guy who died. But the 150 injured during ritual sacrifice....

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2012 6:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... knife wounds or other injuries caused by animals trying to break away..."

Yes, yes, I know. But the way it's worded brings to mind this vision of dozens of four-legged, knife-wielding, ninja cows suddenly turning on their human captors. That has all the makings of a new movie on SyFy. I mean, c'mon, people! THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE OPPOSABLE THUMBS!

Stay tuned: PETA's support for "the right to arm bears" goes horribly awry...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 1, 2012 11:33 AM
But jk thinks:

Beware the feared Mooslim-Ninja-Cows!

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2012 4:52 PM

October 29, 2012

Theory and Practice

I took a philosophy class at one of America's most famous public universities. The day after the first meeting I came upon the professor urinating into the flower bed at the side of the building. When I confronted him about his action, he turned to me, without stopping, and said:

"Keep in mind that the universe is in constant flux, nothing that occurs one moment has any relevance to anything else. Everything you believe, feel, or think is based on the false assumption that truth exists. Thus, you are free to do any action which brings you pleasure. That humanity feels restricted by morals is one of the funniest jokes I've ever heard."

So I beat the shit out of him and took his wallet.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 5:18 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Why sir, that behavior is illegal! A society may function without morals, but take away its laws and the only thing left is ... people doing whatever they please!

The horror.

Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2012 6:57 PM

October 25, 2012

Joda Vida Loco

Colorado has been in the national news again for the past weeks, and for another horrific reason. Ten year-old Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school October 5th and was found dead some days later. I hung on every bit of news with an uneasy combination of need to know, fear, and a simmering rage and hatred for the unhuman monster who could perpetrate such a crime. I was not surprised to learn that the confessed suspect is a maladjusted male who was teased mercilessly by classmates, including girls, and with bizarre interests such as medical examination and mortuary science. I was surprised to learn that he is but 17 years old himself.

I haven't written anything about this before now since I'm confident my thoughts and feelings are universal, particularly amongst parents. But today I want to cite a coincidence that I think is at least a partial clue into the devolution of a human mind to the level we witness here. Last weekend, while harvesting the season's final hay crop, I found a book discarded along the county road that passes our farm. I picked it up. I was mildly taken aback by the doodled word-cloud that covered the outside in half-inch tall red letters:

FEAR, PAIN, SICK BOY, Tourtcher, MADDNE$$, Die By The Sword, DEATH, suicide, I For AN Eye, Blood For Blood, F*** The World, Vengeance I Demand, War, MEth, F*** Sleep, Murder, CRip, KillER, No Mercy, Lust, NO $URENDER, HATE, Rage, REtROBution.
My Hunger, LiES, TRUE Love (garbled), -> Killa, WASTED Time, TRust no Bitch, Kill All that Snitch, F*** The PiG$, ANti Government!, Anti ChRISt, Anti All Realigion.
104% Blood BANG 104% the Punnisher. Demon.
Joda Vida Loco.

I have no idea whose this is, or how it got on the side of my road. But it seems obvious to me it is a school-aged rant. I remember my high school years. It wasn't easy trying to fit in and be myself all at the same time, particularly when I didn't even really know how to "be myself" or who I was. I scribbled kill this, kill that. But this seems beyond anything I ever thought or felt. It brings my constantly integrating mind back to one thing: The crippling of young minds.

Teach your children. Teach them well.

Posted by JohnGalt at 8:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2012

Natural Law and Natural Rights

If one doesn't have time to read a whole thick book on the subject, one could do worse than read this post by modern Thomist-Scholastic Edward Feser.

If a squirrel were rational, it would be natural and good for him to will to escape predators and to gather nuts for the winter and unnatural and bad for him to will to offer himself up to predators and to eat only toothpaste or stones. And the latter would be unnatural and bad for him whatever was the reason why he willed these things -- brain damage, genetic anomalies giving rise to odd desires, bad squirrel upbringing, squirrel peer pressure, the influence of squirrel pop culture, arguments from squirrel philosophers who were hostile to natural law, or whatever.

Remember the level of consternation when nominee Mr. Justice Thomas spoke of natural rights at his confirmation hearing? A continuation of the quote shows why:

They would also be unnatural and bad for him however strongly he wanted to eat the toothpaste and offer himself to the predators, and even if he found the idea of eating nuts and fleeing from predators repulsive. The provenance and strength of the desires wouldn’t show that they were somehow natural (again, in the relevant sense) but on the contrary indicate instead how deeply distorted and unnatural the squirrel’s character had become -- like a hose that’s gotten so many kinks in it that it is hard to get water through it anymore, or a vine whose growth pattern has gotten so twisted that it ends up choking itself to death.

Some of those "liberal" Senators knew exactly where Thomas's theories would lead--to the fact of "how deeply distorted and unnatural" certain behaviors are, behaviors once condemned by a healthy society. Why, there might even be basic, unchangeable differences between men and women! It might be impossible that "No Child" be "Left Behind!" Some "lifestyles" might be bad for individual and societal health!

And so, Anita Hill was brought out of the shadows and, despite Thomas's confirmation, in my view the nation was degraded and weakened.

I believe Atlas Shrugged has Francisco asking a woman at Rearden's party something like, "Don't you believe in the working of the natural law, madam?" If one of you could call that up I'd be interested in seeing what Rand said there and elsewhere on the subject.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 7:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 9, 2012

Two Minutes of AWESOME!

Think of it as morality tales for the iPod generation.

Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute credits Arthur Brooks at American Enterprise Institute as the most influential proponent of the morality of free markets and capitalism. The results of AEI's Video Contest will show you why.

I posted the First Prize winner, as determined by a collection of judges, on my Facebook page. But I think they're all great. Each one is a 2-minute lesson in anti-statism, and in true free market fashion I'm linking to the full page of finalists for you to pick your own winner. As for me, I'm the father of three daughters and I choose for my favorite: Suzie's Lemonade Stand.

Many of these teach lessons that used to reside in public education. This is an excellent opportunity to return them there.

Watch them. Share them. Promote them.

UPDATE: I may have awarded too soon. I'll stand by my favorite but honorable mention also to "Pet Enterprise" and "Making Pie." I also predict JKs fave will be "FES International." Like I said: Awesome ... Every ... One.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Many are nice -- but I am going to go with Susie, with honorable metion to "My Grandfather's Story."

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2012 8:18 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Since I probably wouldn't have seen these otherwise, many, many thanks for posting! The winner was special because it had government agents in suits seizing Mom's sewing machine and shutting down the "illegal" operation. To be honest, I thought Susie's lemonade stand was going to be raided by a SWAT team any second!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at October 9, 2012 8:54 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Don't get JK started on the SWAT team raid thing...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 9, 2012 10:34 PM
But jk thinks:

When lemons are outlawed...

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2012 6:47 AM

September 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

Perhaps my favorite of all time -- and I am not going to mention drugs:

That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise or even right. -- JS Mill

This comes from a smart Richard Epstein piece on religious fundamentalism versus Mill and Locke.

Nothing that would interest anybody around here...

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)


We should be good for four or five Monetary Policy debates after this...

I saw several tweets about but missed the story (and sadly, the pix).

Today I find a good story that all ThreeSourcers will dig -- as soon as they get over their disappointment at the lack of accompanying photos. One Guy Bentley (Briton name out of Central Casting) takes The Guardian to the woodshed for their accusations and, more fundamentally, misunderstanding freedom qua freedom:

However, the substance of the article is that The Sun is embroiled in hypocrisy for supporting the Duke and Duchess in their bid to sue the photographer, while displaying their page three model's breasts as per usual.

Let me be quite clear: there is absolutely no hypocrisy here. In fact, The Sun's position is by default, a defence of freedom of the individual.

The Sun supports the Duchess for the same reason many of its readers will. An invasion of privacy which has no public interest attached to it should be condemned. However, a young woman who chooses to reveal her breasts to the readers of The Sun, either for money, publicity or both, is doing so voluntarily exercising her freedom of contract.

This is the healthy attitude of a free society, not hypocrisy. The public can see the distinction between voluntary contract and the violation of someone's privacy on private property.

Brits, by and large, have no problem with breasts being used to sell magazines as we can see from numerous publications such as Loaded, Nuts and Maxim. The reasonable attitude of the tolerant majority in this country is, "if you don’t like it, don’t buy it".

Now, on to QE3...

Posted by John Kranz at 9:27 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2012

Happy Constitution Day!

Brother AlexC says on Facebook: "It was a good run."

Thomas Woods shares a good speech fo his, suggesting if you can't read Lysander Spooner today, watch this:

Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | Comments (12)
But johngalt thinks:

I could scan the pages but for expediency I'll just transcribe the four coloring book pages from the "Our Constitution" kindergarten work. Since the pages appear to be in random order I'll present them in order of "least objectionable."

"Our Constitution gives us rights and freedoms."
(Pictures of a ballot box and a church.)

"Our Constitution gives us rules that help us be fair and honest."
(Picture of a handshake.)

"Our Constitution tells us to work together."
(Picture of a boy and girl playing a board game.)

"Our Constitution says we will be safe and taken care of."
(Picture of a little girl asleep in her bed.)

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2012 2:37 AM
But jk thinks:

No Free Contraception?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2012 10:10 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That might be for the fourth graders.

Seriously though, the first two are arguable given some latitude for terminology - but I'm ready to ask for some finger layin' on the third and fourth.

Okay, maybe A1S8- "common defence and general welfare" covers the last but c'mon, does anybody really believe that's how kinders will remember it?

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2012 11:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Serious finger layin'

You're kinder than me on the first two (maybe I am Meg Ryan...) The Constitution protects our rights. Abstract for Kindergarten? Perhaps, but important enough to use the right words.

Good thing I had a dog, huh?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2012 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

To tie it back to Thomas Woods, we should both be glad the coloring did not reference The Iroquois Constitution.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2012 1:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You are oh so right, jk. I was intentionally lenient on the first to see if anyone felt as strongly about it as dagny. Your commentary is hers, verbatim.

To those who call it "nitpicking" I might ask if they'd be just as sanguine with "our Constitution explains our rights and freedoms."

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2012 1:14 PM

September 6, 2012

In praise of the "dirty" jobs

I love Mike Rowe. My young daughters, I'm proud to say, also love Mike Rowe's Discovery Channel show 'Dirty Jobs.' Consequently, I'm a bit perplexed that I hadn't heard of this before today:

Dear Governor Romney,

My name is Mike Rowe and I own a small company in California called mikeroweWORKS. Currently, mikeroweWORKS is trying to close the country’s skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work. (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4th anniversary, and I’m commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, I’ll vote for you in November.


Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce. We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.

Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)

Solid gold, on many levels.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:45 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Solid platinum. Dittoes x 1M!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 6, 2012 8:18 PM
But Jk thinks:

Holy crap,he read it!

Had to call roadside service for a blowout tire today. The young man was friendly, polite and professional. He's a big MR2 fan and we had fun talking.

I thought of this post driving home. I suggest he is happy, has little or no student debt, enjoys his work, and as a Toyota mechanic, can probably get work in any town in a day or two. Versus your newly minted French history major, I think this fine youngster is doing well.

Posted by: Jk at September 8, 2012 9:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had trouble with JK's link. Here's a non-mobile one that didn't require me to login again.

Now, to see if I can get Mike to read mine. :)

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2012 11:36 AM

September 5, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Why should jk get to post all of the Reason videos?

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:48 PM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

If I may: Irrational people are made up of contradictions.

"The Law of Identity (A is A) is a rational man’s paramount consideration in the process of determining his interests. He knows that the contradictory is the impossible, that a contradiction cannot be achieved in reality and that the attempt to achieve it can lead only to disaster and destruction. Therefore, he does not permit himself to hold contradictory values, to pursue contradictory goals, or to imagine that the pursuit of a contradiction can ever be to his interest."

Quoted from, guess who.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 7:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ich besitze selbst.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 7:50 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

jg - I wasn't sure if the irony would come through...should have put "These" before the quote. In fact wasn't this clip straight outta Rand? In Atlas Shrugged, right after this convention a factory would close and a bridge would collapse. Contradictions have consequences.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 5, 2012 8:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought it was an obscure reference I didn't get. No matter... I was determined to post the contradiction quote. It's one of my favorites. It's a wonder I don't use it at least twice a month.

Ditto on the "law of the lord" en Francais. Right over my head so I just went for "my law" not the lord's. Auf Deutsch!

Jus' havin' fun.

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2012 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Explaining a joke is proof of its failure, but I need to risk it. Brother jg asks "Why should jk get to post all of the Reason videos?"

I started to type something about paying the hosting fees and thought Droit du seigneur (I had to look up the spelling). It may translate to "law of the lord" but the idiomatic use generally refers to the quaint and distinctly non-Lockean feudal custom of allowing the lord to deflower the virgins in his realm. (It is a French term after all.)

But we are blog brothers and I am glad you posted this Reason video.

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2012 10:08 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Aaaah, brilliant! Thanks for explaining the joke. Perhaps if you'd called it prima nocte I'd have recognized it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2012 4:00 PM

September 4, 2012

Being a Parent is Hard.

Hat-tip: Ari Armstrong

Posted by John Kranz at 6:11 PM | Comments (2)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

A+! She needed to smash the statue a little better though. But the parents were soooo right on.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 4, 2012 7:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Those "trickle-down" supply side Tea Party extremists are just so ... childish.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 12:51 AM

August 26, 2012

2016 Movie - Food for Thought

I watched the Dinesh D'Souza film 2016-Obama's America yesterday with family and friends. My brother and father were the driving force and dad thought it so important we all see it that he paid for all of us. Having been cautioned by JK's distaste for D'Souza's conspiratism I was eager to see and hear for myself what evidence Dinesh presents, and what hypothesis he has formed.

As a starting point I read this critical review by Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan. His instinct is to dismiss it as a rehash of prior Obama hatred, but some of his dissmissals ring hollow.

As readers of the Forbes article know, the central thesis of "2016" is that Obama's worldview -- his "compass," as D'Souza calls it -- was largely shaped by the anti-colonialist, anti-white and anti-Christian politics of Obama's supposedly radical Kenyan father. Never mind that Obama, growing up, spent precious little time with the man, who for most of his son's early life was estranged from Obama's mother. D'Souza trots out a professional psychologist to speculate on how the senior Obama's absence reinforced his influence, rather than weakened it.

D'Souza makes it all sound almost plausible, but only if you're predisposed to believe that Obama hates America. It's bashing, all right, but with a velvet-gloved fist.

What is glossed over here is how he makes it sound plausible. That explanation is omitted and replaced with a cautionary "almost" to convince readers they need not bother to evaluate the plausability on their own. D'Souza explains that Obama's worldview was constructed not in the image of his absentee father, rather in the idealized image of him portrayed by his mother. Ann Dunham, an almost completely overlooked component of Barack's formative years, was as anti-American, or at least anti-capitalist and anti-"colonialist" as they come. So says D'Souza. He supports this claim with multiple facts. He concludes that diminishing America's influence in the world, in effect punishing America for its colonial heritage, is fully consistent with many of the previously inexplicable acts of President Obama: To repair America's "plunder" of foreign resources he gave billions of American taxpayer's dollars to Brazil and others to build up those nations' oil industries; to push back present-day colonialism he has sided with Argentina over Great Britain in the Falklands conflict; his mideast policy arguably reflects a prejudice against western influence in favor of native rule, whatever that may happen to become. Actions as seemingly unimportant as returning a bust of Winston Churchill and presenting gag gifts to the Queen of England also betray a lifelong hatred for that country, the once great colonial power which had colonized and "exploited" his father's native land - Kenya.

In the film D'Souza also shows how then candidate Obama diverted attention from these beliefs and tendencies by suggesting his goal was a racial reconciliation within America. When longtime mentor Reverend Jeremiah Wright's anti-Americanism threatened to derail his campaign, Barack gave a nationally televised speech on race relations and distanced himself from the anti-colonialist values. And when other formative influences were called into question his campaign skillfully portrayed them as good-ol American leftists rather than the world socialists they would likely call themselves. When the President lectures America about the unfairness of the "one percenters" Americans think of wealthy corporate titans standing unapologetically on the shoulders of the working or "middle" class. But to a world socialist, EVERY American is a one-percenter, right down to the homeless shelter or overpass dweller who may freely beg for change and sleep opon the paved streets of American cities, free from scourges like disease, garbage dumps and open sewage running through the streets of a typical third-world village, always with ready access to medical treatment-on-demand in the shiny hospitals of the most prosperous nation on earth.

My opinion of the validity of D'Souza's original conclusions is buttressed by Elizabeth Reynolds' 'D'Souza's "Rage" a Middling Psychoanalysis' in The Dartmouth Review. After labeling Dinesh as an "ultra-conservative member of the Dartmouth Class of 1983" and praising Obama's book 'Dreams From My Father' she presents a fair, perhaps more fair than she intended, interpretation of the facts in D'Souza's book. Her conclusion:

Perhaps D'Souza's anti-colonial theory does help explain, as the Weekly Standard put it, Obama's omnipotence at home and impotence abroad. It is a matter of the reader's opinion. Regardless, D'Souza brings something new to the table with his latest book. It seems clear to me that D'Souza has done his research, with his extensive history of colonial Africa and insightful background information on Obama's early life. His concept of investigating the impact of Barack Obama's father had potential, but I'm afraid that D'Souza's conclusion, that Obama is trying to essentially destroy America, ultimately takes it too far.

Ironically, it is Reynolds who takes it too far for "essentially destroying America" is not D'Souza's claimed goal for Barack Obama. He merely wants to diminish our nation, not destroy it. The call to action at the end of the film? Every American must decide for himself if America should be diminished - and vote accordingly.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:43 PM | Comments (7)
But Jk thinks:

#3 box office?

Posted by: Jk at August 26, 2012 11:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On entertainment value - 2 stars.
The music was good and the cinematography of exotic locales almost made one feel he was there. But really, how long can one enjoy listening to strange people speaking with strange accents?

On "must-see-ness" - 5 stars.
(Out of 5.) If he is right, don't you want to know?

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2012 1:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In reply to "did not" I might ask an Obama supporter why he asked a non-partisan commission (Simpson-Bowles) to develop a workable debt reduction strategy and then completely ignored their advice. "Can you tell me one reason why you believe the president seriously wants to lower the national debt?"

Big enough? Non-partisan enough?

(He [Obama] wants to raise taxes on the rich. "Okay, that's eighty billion dollars of debt reduction per year, assuming the rich agree to keep doing what they're doing. How many eighty billions are there in sixteen trillion?")

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2012 2:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Do I want to know? I don't know. Whether he is wedded to failed policies because of his academic background and ignorance (likely) or willfully wants to damage America -- does it matter?

My Dad used to correct me "you can't look into a man's heart." I think that advice may be handy here.

Then he'd suggest I get a haircut...

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2012 7:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great review! The Refugee will likely save his money, as he does not need to be convinced of something he already believes. However, it does start a very worthwhile conversation in the broader electorate.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 27, 2012 8:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Barack Obama's academic background, such as we know of it, started at home and was reinforced by every leftist who crossed his path, either academically or socially. Barack Obama may indeed be ignorant to the efficacy of Austrian economics but not because he is an ignorant man.

I never claimed to be looking into his heart. Supposedly he showed us that himself in 'Dreams.' But there exists a tidy triangle connecting the points of the "Global Fairness" Movement, young Barack's friends and family, and President Obama's actual policies and actions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2012 11:59 AM

August 24, 2012

What Liberals Get Wrong About Ayn Rand

Hint: a lot.

I had heard this article referenced a couple of times and finally followed a link from the Reason Foundation email. It is very good.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

A (mostly) very good article. I intend to share it with a relative who still has difficulty with the "harshness" of Rand's philosophy. It is the best explanation I've yet read of how her ideas are mischaracterized as extreme or not applicable to real life. I'll probably share it quite a lot.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2012 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

I liked her dissevering of selfishness from money grubbing. I was curious what you thought and someday look forward to an expansion of "(mostly)..."

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2012 6:15 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It goes a long way toward explaining how such a panoply of people can speak admiringly of Rand while not being Randites. Paul Ryan gets it, while Paul Krugman doesn't. Krugman thinks that a cartoon version of Rand can be used as a bogeyman to scare his readers, but those who actually read her works are going to end up with a more nuanced view.

I do disagree with Cathy Young on one thing; Rand's affair with Branden was "disatrous" only in the sense that it splintered her movement. She got years of passionate lovemaking with a much younger man--given the events in her books, as she lay on her death bed she probably thought it was well worth it.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at August 24, 2012 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I told dagny this morning that I consider Paul Ryan's glass to be three-quarters full. This article fills a glass to nineteen-twentieths. I didn't want to be a "Debbie Downer" for a measly five percent disagreement.

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2012 6:43 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Selfishness is misunderstood by people who make a strawman out of Rand's beliefs. Examples: at the end of "Anthem," Equality 7-2521/Prometheus says he is committed to going back to the city to share his freedom with others - including Union 5-3992, who has some sort of neurological deficit that makes him unable to help himself. That is not "selfish" as we commonly understand the word today. Were John Galt truly "selfish," he wouldn't give half a damn about throwing a lifeline to others to become like him and strike; he would have simply turned his back on the world, provided for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost. Both of these commitments meant cost to onesself - but they were VOLUNTARILY undertaken. Both of these characters are still other-oriented.

What Rand fought against was what we call altruism - the notion that the collective and/or the unfortunate have a claim, rightful or moral, on those of us who are individualists, our skills and our possessions, even if that claim is against our will.

Understood this way, Rand champions the free individual at one end of the spectrum against the collective, the all-powerful state, the voluntarily dependent, the cogs in the machine, and the state - collectively, the looters and the moochers. I, and all of us here, and seemingly Ryan, all side with the free individual. Frankly, I find myself to be in good company.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2012 8:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To KA's eloquent interpretation I believe it's important to add a few more words about altruism. The moral claim that the principle of altruism enables, by a claimant upon a defendant, has no power unless it is recognized as a just claim. Altruism, in the name of equality or holiness or whatever, gives power to the claim.

Notice that the code of altruism pronounces the defendant guilty without him having committed any crime. Having done nothing more than start and run a successful business and employed many others, trading a wage for their efforts, he can summarily be declared guilty of "greed" or "exploitation" or some other euphemism designed to villify the wealth he has created by purely voluntary interaction with his fellow man. Rand's shorthand for the guilt a man feels in response to these charges is "unearned guilt" for the guilt arises not from any crime he commits against another. Unearned guilt is a philosophical crime, committed against oneself.

The self-destructive power of unearned guilt should be on full display in the Atlas Shrugged Part II movie, set for release on October 12th.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2012 10:23 AM

August 15, 2012


Today's entry is a two-fer on the subject of human overcrowding and political philosophy.

"When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere."

"Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is pleasanter -- and much safer."

--RAH 'Time Enough for Love' (1973)

UPDATE: It's a THREE-fer!

"Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself."

(Also from 'Time Enough for Love')

Yes I have read more than this one Heinlein work. However, if you only read one, this must be that one.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:20 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

I'm going to come out squarely against Heinlein! It is Johnny Mercer week and "Fools Rush In" cannot be far behind...

But I reject this quote as neo-Malthusian in tone if not in content. Exciting, innovative, creative, wonderful Ricardian, Deepak Lal-ian things transpire when intellects join. It may be peaceful to have a farm in Weld County or your own spaceship, but I reject those who claim we cannot live together orderly just as I would harangue the radical environmentalist who wants us to live like indigenous Americans.

There you go. Y'all gonna take that?

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2012 6:58 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'm going to take a safe middle ground squarely between the two of you.

Elbow room? The last time I heard someone speechify about the need for Lebensraum, it led to some pretty disastrous results, though I doubt either JG or Heinlein are talking about a desire to annex the Sudetenland. But "crowded enough to require IDs" is a reference not just to crowds, but crowds of strangers. I can have lots of neighbors - if I know them and can trust them. It's not a problem in JK's context of "when intellects join." JK's milieu of a bunch of people who are willing to live and interact cooperatively ("live together orderly") is different from JG's milieu of the hoi polloi who live anonymously in what are unneighborly neighborhoods.

Witness the guy in today's news who got beaten senseless by six yoots - because they were bored.

If I were given the option to live amongst a population of JGs and JKs, sure, no problem. Like-minded (mostly), congenial; but drop me down in your average Detroit or Chicago neighborhood? I'd be longing for some elbow room.

So I'd offer that you're both right, but that the issue is not merely the number, but the nature, of the neighbors. The wrong ones would make me positively "unmutual" (bonus points to whoever gets that reference first).

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 15, 2012 8:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

When I read this quote I think about Rand's 'Anthem' wherein the frustrated "citizen" and his correspondingly unmutual paramour found refuge on a mountain peak, completely removed from "civilization." The attribute being avoided is not overcrowding per se, but the authority that invariably comes along with it, as represented by identification documents. In my rural neighborhood no ID's are required. I know all of my neighbors in a 1-mile radius and anyone else who happens by generally has good intentions and is thus welcome to visit for a time. If they don't have good intentions, well, that is what dogs are for. (One thing, anyway.) Don't believe I've ever asked to see anyone's ID though. By the same token I still revel in my trips "into town" whether corporeally or telepresently.

"Unmutual." I learned the reference but won't claim the prize as discovering it required Binging. My unaided guess was that it came from the aforementioned 'Anthem.' I remember, from my youth, the name of the work which contained it but for whatever reason, never experienced it.

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2012 2:12 AM
But jk thinks:

I don't know that annexing the Sudetenland into Weld County is a terrible idea...

Perhaps even Senator Goldwater would agree with moderation here. I was born in Denver and now get viscerally ill when I visit family, relaxing only as I cross 136th or so. This makes me a strange emissary for city life. I think I may have coined the term urbaphobe in the 1980s but there was no Google to verify.

Yet Libertarianism runs hand in hand with millenarianism and the utopian dreams of my leftist friends are not dissimilar to Rand's Atlantis except in economics.

Sam Colt in Connecticut, Silicon Valley, &c. launched humanity hundreds of years into the future -- perhaps the intertubes have obviated that but I am not certain. Don't everybody all wander off.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2012 9:48 AM

Edward Feser: The Road from Libertarianism

Philosopher Edward Feser has posted an exploration of how reason moved him from libertarianism to limited government conservatism. It fits beautifully with the naming of Paul Ryan as Romney's VP and with Libertario Delenda Est:

For reasons I have explained in my Social Philosophy and Policy article “Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation” -- where the interested reader can find my current views on the matters referred to in the title -- I think that an A-T natural law approach to those matters entails the rejection of libertarianism, socialism, and egalitarian liberalism alike, and in most areas requires at least a presumption in favor of private enterprise and against government action. In other words, I think that moral principle should lead us to take a broadly center-right approach to matters of politics rather than a broadly center-left approach. But beyond that, abstract moral principle cannot tell us much, and we have to look to common sense, experience, history, current circumstances, and whatever economics and the other social sciences can tell us in order to decide upon concrete policy. That doesn’t give us anything like the “single magic bullet” approach to politics that the thesis of self-ownership seemed to provide. But if there’s one thing any conservative should know, it’s that looking for single magic bullets is after all a pretty stupid project where social and political philosophy are concerned. All the same, on some matters -- such as opposition to the abomination that is Obamacare -- I am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with libertarians.

Paul Ryan's statements about Rand, Aquinas and Catholic social teaching have received a great deal of scrutiny in the last few days: a professor who claims Ryan the social conservative is actually Rand's nightmare; another professor who produces at the Puffington Host what can only be described as an incoherent stew; a potty mouth in the Village Voice who puts long Aquinas quotes and the words "fucking" and "bullshit" in close proximity.

The quote which all of these people reference, directly or indirectly (and unfairly truncated in the first piece) is:

"If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas. Don't give me Ayn Rand."

Emphasis added! Epistemology is not Catholic social thought. It is not economics. It is not political philosophy. These losers, and many others now coming out of the woodwork like carpenter ants either don't know the difference, or are intellectually dishonest hacks.

Feser's piece doesn't mention Paul Ryan, but I speculate that Ryan's intellectual development ran a similar course. Growing up Catholic, inspired as an undergraduate by Rand, Friedman and Hayek, he eventually came to a mature, limited government conservatism. That's not so hard to understand, and there is no inherent contradiction in it as imagined by those who are frightened by Ryan's intelligence, charisma and ability to explain the consequences of four more years of Obama.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 12:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
But johngalt thinks:

Just started reading the first linked article but can't wait to ask the rhetorical question, "Can Vice President and candidate for re-election to said office Joseph Biden even pronounce the word 'epistemology?"

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2012 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, I got as far as paragraph 22. I think he makes a fundamental error in his treatment of self-ownership in paragraphs 18-19 which caused him, erroneously, to dismiss the theory. Simply saying that, "I have not imprisoned you at all! I've simply homesteaded all the land around you" does not alter the obvious fact that you have, objectively, imprisoned me.

This points to a problem borne from high urban densities that does not exist in frontier environments and is why as populations grow their political philosophies become ever more statist.

Yes, there will be an RAH quote on this today (if I can find or remember it verbatim.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 15, 2012 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Hmmmm. Very challenging. I twisted my wrist a bit patting myself on the back for giving it a little-o objective reading.

Interesting as I have made the exact same journey the other way. What he calls pragmatic, I like Professor Myron's term, "consequentialist." As he has become more consequentialist, I have become more rights-based. As he has rejected self-ownership in favor of conservatism, I have discovered Locke and JS Mill like a child who thinks he is the first to experience sunshine.

I confess I do not perhaps understand his argument against self-ownership. The book he linked to was $47 on Kindle (the guy thinks he's Justice Scalia?) I'd like to return to a few of the TCS articles. But the small example included (the fence around the guy on the desert island) was completely non-compelling. Just because I own my body does not mean you own the rest of the world -- I don't remember signing that.

As that is the heart of his conversion and I concede not to understand it, I feel unable to offer a cogent argument beyond "says you." I do own my person -- inalienably. That indeed includes rights that can be misused (what rights cannot?)

Perhaps in the end parity is conserved. I moved from a Burkean if not theological Conservatism to a Hayekian Libertarianism. Like Feser, I carry a lot of respect for my old teammates, but the Mill-Mises-Hoppe axis of self-ownership remains defining and liberating for me. I'll read a couple of his linked articles (if they don't cast me $47) but have not yet seen something substantive enough to sway me.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2012 7:57 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It appears that Leonard Peikoff addressed a very similar situation, see here:

"The obvious, classic example of this is, which I’ve been asked a hundred times, you swim to a desert island — you know, you had a shipwreck — and when you get to the shore, the guy comes to you and says, “I’ve got a fence all around this island. I found it. It’s legitimately mine. You can’t step onto the beach.” Now, in that situation you are in a literal position of being metaphysically helpless. Since life is the standard of rights, if you no longer can survive this way, rights are out. And it becomes dog-eat-dog or force-against force. Now, don’t assume that any unsatisfied need therefore puts you in this metaphysical category. For instance, you are very poor and you are hungry. Well, you need feed. But in a capitalist society, even in a mixed economy, that is not a metaphysical deprivation. There’s always all sorts of choices and ways in a free society for you to gain food. Always."

So the rational, "Libertarian" thing to do is break down the wall. Since I can't acess Feser's paper either, I am not going to give him a pass on this.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at August 16, 2012 7:23 PM

August 14, 2012

"Global Fairness"

Happy sounding words that mean, "If you have something we're going to make you share it." I was enlightened just how powerful the world socialism movement has become when researching examples of "global fairness" advocacy in defense of Dinesh D'Souza's latest works. Two examples from Progressive Australia:

Mature debate on our future needed, not Tea Party-style militancy

Australia stands at an intersection. Can Australians be convinced to forgo short-term benefits to secure greater prosperity in the future?

California’s referendum last November over Proposition 23 shows voters can still reject short-term populism. Polluting industries poured millions into a proposal to delay cuts in greenhouse gas emissions until the economy was back to full employment. But Californians said no – 62 to 38 per cent – because the debate was framed in terms of embracing the clean energy jobs and industries of the future.

Meanwhile, under the influence of the Tea Party, Kansas voted last November to make gun ownership a constitutional right. It’s not the kind of issue that will build a better future – but it was clever politics. Kansas embraced it lock, stock and barrel, 88 to 12 per cent. The Tea Party militancy of states such as Kansas is now infecting Australia’s Coalition parties and many opinion makers – parochial, inward-looking and uninterested in the economics of the future.

Will Australia follow the road to California or to Kansas?

The False Trade-Off of Prosperity and Fairness

Individuals have also become less willing to sacrifice short-term prosperity in the pursuit of long-term outcomes which combine fairness and prosperity. Responses to Per Capita’s annual tax survey show that Australians want higher spending on public services and infrastructure, but believe their taxes are too high. They believe higher income earners are taxed too little, even when they are themselves high income earners who describe themselves as overtaxed.

This community sentiment has got politicians scared. The Rudd Government retreated from the CPRS in the face of focus group pressure, and Labor has been surprisingly reluctant to trumpet the success of its Keynesian response to the global financial crisis, presumably for fear of being painted as antiquated Lefties addicted to debt.


The list of policy ideas that builds on these insights is long. We can capture the dividends of the mining boom by channeling super-profits tax into a sovereign wealth fund. We can increase housing supply by restricting negative gearing to new-build dwellings only. We can finance infrastructure by tapping the nation’s superannuation pool. We can stimulate R&D, not only through extra public spending, but also by promoting competition so that our large oligopolists are forced to compete on innovation as well as price.

Each of these initiatives will attract resistance from privileged incumbents threatened by change. Yet each advances fairness as well as long-term prosperity. As we’ve seen in the carbon tax debate, the battle will be fierce. Progressive leaders face no more important fight.

There is absolutely, without any doubt, a global movement toward an "egalitarian" world order. This means that the peoples of prosperous nations - America, Australia, Germany, Great Britain - must be made to "sacrifice short-term prosperity" in the dubious cause of a combined "fairness and prosperity" which these extreme ideologues promise as some indefinite "long-term" outcome. The foregoing is proof positive of such an ideology. Conspiracy theories not required. Does President "Spread the Wealth Around" and his "Forward" campaign for re-election and "Progress" adhere to that ideology? You be the judge.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2012

Liberty on the Rocks

Join us on Monday, August 13th, where your featured speaker will be Dr. Diana Hsieh, who will be discussing the importance of philosophy in our political economy. After Dr. Hsieh's presentation there will be a short Q&A session, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!

This event is open to the public, you're welcome to bring friends!

Ralphie's Sports Tavern
585 E. SOUTH BOULDER RD., Louisville, Colorado 80027

My biological brother and my lovely bride are joining me tonight.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (8)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother jk, if you are going, here is something she posted on her blog Jan. 10, 2012:

"Of course, if you know particular Muslims who support American values… that’s AWESOME. However, just as with Christians, those Muslims ought to abandon their religious beliefs, because they’re wholly incompatible with any concern or respect for individual rights."

Now there is more context there, but this is clearly her position. She is supposed to be a Big Objectivist Thinker and all, but check your premises, Doctora. Religious beliefs are not "wholly incompatible with any concern or respect for individual rights," and I'm surprised you'd make such a statement when there are numerous real-world contra-examples staring you in the face.

Like Paul Ryan.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at August 13, 2012 4:55 PM
But jk thinks:

@Brother Ellis: You may rest assured that Super Libertario Delenda Est Man will not leave without Dr. Hsieh's clear opinion on pragmatism and electoral exigencies.

I have been pleased with this group's seriousness in that direction. The crowd generally has several GOP candidates. One attendee once gave a "30-second talk" that called for purity over politics, but this lot tends to be pretty pragmatic, and a speaker who is wide off the mark will hear about it from others while your meek and humble blog brother waits patiently for recognition.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2012 5:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

@Brother Ellis- Your highlighted quote referred to Muslim religious beliefs, not religious beliefs in general. Regarding Christianity, she bifurcated between "theocratic Christians" and "American Christians" whose faith "has been tempered by the enlightenment."

Now, if she chooses to focus on Ryan's faith and social values I would personally say, "Yes, you're right, but that's not what's at stake this election cycle. The attack on liberty is coming from the economic flank at present, not the social flank. Let's not divide our forces in this crucial hour, in the face of this mortal threat."

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2012 5:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Excellent evening. Enlightening talk.

Sorry, brother ellis, you sent the wrong guy to take up your concerns. I asked one question on general pragmatism and one's my limit. Dr. Hsieh has an internet radio show where she answers questions -- you should engage her directly.

Again, I had a wonderful time, but I have heard her song before. I listen politely but think that Dr. Hsieh and some others I know are incorrect to imagine that we can educate and philosophize our way to a liberty plurality -- I just don't buy it.

She mentioned her Facebook Friends from High School. So I questioned her: "You have FB friends, I have FB friends -- do you still feel we can win enough over to reason and liberty or are too many uneducable?"

Ari Armstrong will likely post video again, I'll let you hear her answer.

But she hasn't yet decided whom to vote for in 2012. This engendered a mea culpa to brother jg: "No, not all undecideds are 'morons,' one of them is a bright young woman." But it left me speechless. If you cannot see the cause of liberty's being served by a vote for Romney-Ryan, I find it hard to take you seriously. You may go philosophize in the corner.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2012 4:10 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Thank you Brother, for this enlightening report. I will indeed communicate with her directly.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at August 14, 2012 5:12 PM
But dagny thinks:

I enjoyed what little I was there for last night. JK's comment brought up something I thought of on the way home. Perhaps JK's and Dr. Hsieh's FB friends are uneducable on the subject of liberty. Presumably such friends are of an age with JK and Dr. Hsieh.

On the other hand, I have 3 small children and jg and I are just beginning the task of trying to get them an education without a built-in leftist philosophical indoctrination.

Perhaps our education efforts might work better if we could find a way to start in the K-5 schools. I don't have brilliant ideas on how to accomplish that, however.

Posted by: dagny at August 14, 2012 5:49 PM

August 7, 2012

Sports vs. Politics

Thomas Sowell wonders "Do our IQs just drop spontaneously when we turn to politics?" Why can we not exhibit the rationality we use for sports?

To take one common example, there are many people who believe that if the market fails, the government should step in. But, if Robinson Cano strikes out, does anyone suggest that the Yankees should send in a pinch hitter for him his next time at bat?

Everyone understands that a pinch hitter can also strike out, and is less likely than Cano to get a hit or a home run. But the very possibility that the government can fail when it steps in to substitute for a failing market seldom occurs to people. Even among some economists, "market failure" is a magic phrase that implies a need for government intervention.

Government hits well below the Mendoza line, and dreams of the Win-Loss record of my beloved 2012 Colorado Rockies.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:12 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"...Why can we not exhibit the rationality we use for sports?..."

The majority of Raiders fans do.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 7, 2012 4:26 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at August 7, 2012 4:32 PM

July 30, 2012


I took to the comments of a recent post to defend the Olympic movement on the basis of individual competition and excellence, and the opportunity for athletes to measure themselves against each other to find the best in the world. I also said, "If the Olympics were a competition to see who could be the most "average" I would ridicule and despise them." I meant this as comparative example rather than the prescience it has now become.

United States artistic gymnast Jordyn Wieber is the reigning world champion in her sport. In qualifying events for the final field of twenty-four gymnasts from which medals in the Individual All Around competition will be awarded based on score, Wieber's score was the fourth highest. Despite this, Wieber will not be allowed to compete for a medal versus the three who scored higher than her and the twenty who scored lower. Jordan Wieber was disqualified, not by some infraction she committed, but because two of her American teammates also made the All Around final and did so with scores higher than hers. For reasons that can only be interpreted as egalitarian, IOC rules prohibit more than two individual athletes from the same nation advancing to the finals.

Boo! Ridiculous. Two other athletes, one from Great Britain and another from China, suffered the same injustice although their scores ranked them 21 and 22 respectively and neither of them is the REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION IN HER SPORT.

Weiber is not the only loser in this sad saga. Whomever ultimately wins the gold medal will not be able to say she is the best artistic woman gymnast in the world. One who may have kicked her ass all over the spring floor was told "get lost - thanks for playing."

I plan to write my congressman. On this count, the Olympics suck.

UPDATE: David Wallechinsky, author of 'The Complete Book of the Olympics' said the Olympic philosophy is "we want to spread the wealth, we want to spread sport to other parts of the world."

But Wieber's failure to make a final that her scores suggest she clearly deserved points to a philosophy run amok, says Mr. Wallechinsky. "Sure, let them compete in the Olympics, but you don't have to let them compete in the final," he says.

Click through for a good background on the rule, first imposed for the 2004 games.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:13 PM | Comments (9)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, the IOC will be adding a new position to their staff, with the title of Handicapper General. There will be some interesting new methods for ensuring that no nation and no competitor dominates.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 30, 2012 5:24 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother jg, to clarify - the sports federations make up the competition rules. The IOC and the organizing commitee make all the even stupider rules about teeth grilles and threatening businesses who arrange five bagels like the Olympic rings...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

And to clarify my position: nothing like this ever happens on "Kudlow & Company."

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2012 6:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair cop, Guv. And yet, I still love baseball despite the DH.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 7:25 PM
But Jk thinks:

Nooooooo! Kudlow is off for two weeks, for the Olympics.

Posted by: Jk at July 30, 2012 11:10 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Upon further review, including your update, I agree. The Olympics suck.

I will still watch women's beach volleyball, however.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 31, 2012 3:22 PM

July 23, 2012

Drawing the Line

I'm going to stretch for a segue here. Very young or feeble readers may want to hang on to something.

But there is an important aspect of liberty hiding in a frivolous and a not frivolous example. When somebody calls for regulation, I always ask "Who draws the line?" If there is no regulation, free people will choose.

Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, of course, thinks he can draw the magic line at 16 ounces. Seth Goldman of Honest TEA dissents. He makes healthy, low calorie, all natural drinks that Boulder Mommies would love. Uh-oh...

Under the proposed changes to Article 81 of the NYC Health Code, food-service establishments would not be able to sell packages larger than 16 ounces for drinks that have more than 25 calories per eight-ounce serving. Honest Tea's top-selling item is our organic Honey Green Tea, which has 35 calories per eight-ounce serving and is in a 16.9 oz. bottle. We label 70 calories on the front of the package so consumers know what's in the full bottle.

We initially went with 16.9 oz. (which is 500 milliliters) because it is a standard size that our bottle supplier had in stock at the time. We subsequently invested several hundred thousand dollars for 16.9 oz. bottle molds. Is 16.9 ounces the perfect size? Who knows? As a beverage marketer, we willingly submit to the unforgiving judgment of the market. What we did not anticipate was an arbitrary decision to constrain consumer choice

So 16oz of Mountain Dew is fine; 16.9 of organic Honey Green Tea -- not so much. Not that I am going to outlaw Dew, but climbing into the nanny brain, this seems an unintended consequence at best.

I could quit now and this would be a good post, but I promised a tortured segue.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D - CA) was on FOX News Sunday yesterday, bravely drumming up interest in her lapsed "Assault Weapons Ban." She disingenuously rattled off statistics of gun violence after it was not renewed implying it would have helped. Her most convincing point was railing against 100-round magazines: "Why do you need that?"

Well, Senator, as an inalienable right, one doesn't have to explain to you. I'd agree it sounds pretty excessive -- Jeeburz, that would cost a lot to fill it. But you are asking me to let you declare the right number. Ten rounds? Five? Twenty? If we're attempting to impede mass murders, smaller is better. But manufacturers like Seth Goldman (Tea guy, remember?) have capital invested in making certain sizes. Larger firms will be able to lobby Congress to allow my seven-round but not my competitors' eight -- why eight is irresponsible!

Frighten people with 100-round clips and 44 oz sodas, then you can take away their 500ml Teas and 11-round magazines -- all the while arrogating power over the manufacturers and consumers.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Somebody say "Unintended Consequences?"

Andrew Biggs, AEI Resident Scholar and AR-15 owner:

Large capacity magazines. One proposal that seemed convincing (even to me) was to ban large capacity magazines, such as the 100-round rifle magazine used in Aurora or the 32-round Glock magazine used in the Tucson, AZ shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Magazines this size aren't particularly practical. But one reason they're impractical -- and thus one reason why banning them won't save many lives -- is that they jam a lot, which happened in both Aurora and Tucson. That's one reason you don’t see military and law enforcement using them. If large capacity magazines were banned, potential mass murderers would shift to standard capacity magazines, which are lighter, fast to change, and almost never jam. It's not clear what the trade-offs are here.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2012 1:29 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Ah, but that's way too rational. It focuses on results, rather than feelings. Legislators feel good about empty symbolic gestures. Facts are too difficult to explain to the 50% of the voters who are below average...which is why we don't actually have a "democracy."

My eternal gratitude goes out to the "elitists" who wrote the Constitution.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 24, 2012 3:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is an awesome post. Not a "tortured" segue, but an excellent integration of two instances of leftist nannysense.

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2012 4:52 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I was also 50% amused, 50% disgusted by the babbleheads on the TV talking about his 3 or 6 thousand rounds of ammunition. "Shouldn't there be a limit? Shouldn't it have raised a red flag"

No, fools. He surely wasn't carrying 3,000 rounds on him. Again, something that has utterly nothing to do with actual events, would not have prevented them, but sounds nice to the controllers. I don't even know if they actually believe this stuff or if it's just robot programming they got when they were kidnapped from South Park Elementary and probed by Lizardoid aliens. ;)

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 24, 2012 7:17 PM

July 17, 2012


Best thing I read all day!

Insty links to a poignant piece on, well, the Humanities and Liberal Arts, President Obama's "Julia" character, Elvis, Freedom, Jack Ruby...

The right wing commentariat was in stitches about Julia (who resembles an international symbol for "Ladies Room"), but really, her story is not funny at all; it is chilling to someone who has experienced the liberal arts. The practice of the liberal arts, especially literature, involves comparison, contrast, allusion, resonance, recognition of irony, suggestion, implication--all the artistic architectonics of meaning and sensation that arouse in us what it is to be human. Julia is only a cartoon but what is so unfunny and repellant about her is that she represents what her creators think about human beings. Let me explain by contrast and allusion.

The whole thing is great and super short. Sadly, one is shocked to encounter liberal arts used in defense of liberty. It is sad that that is sad, but I don't want to get too meta. David Clemens knows that liberty is universal from literature. What an odd thought that must be in a modern classroom.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2012

Sand Millionaires, Duex

No risk of dating myself further after posting a wedding picture, but the post below reminded me of the first intelligent political argument I ever made. There have been so few it seems I can catalog them.

But Kirkpatrick Sale's "Human Scale" was the it book when Georgia Gov. James Earl Carter was president. I was running with a fairly apolitical crowd, but everybody I knew had read it. And everyone accepted its Malthusian limitations. It is thankfully out of print, but Amazon has links to used sellers and this handy blurb:

Size matters. And "progress", as it translates into sprawl, congestion, resource depletion, overpopulation, the decline of communities and the rise of corporate rule, is quite literally killing us. In his landmark work Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale details the crises facing modern society and offers real solutions, laying out ways that we can take control of every facet of our lives by building institutions, workplaces and communities that are sustainable, ecologically balanced, and responsive to the needs of the individual. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1980, this remarkable book provides a fascinating perspective on the last quarter-century of "growth" and anticipates by decades the current movement towards relocalization in response to the end of cheap oil.

I was accosted by some Sale-ite that it was obvious that our resources were limited. I shrugged and said "they make computer chips out of sand. I don't think we're running out of sand."

Pre Rand. Pre Kudlow. But I saw T.J. Rodgers and Andy Grove as the first sand millionaires.

Someday, I might have another good one -- I'm not giving up yet!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2012

Peyton's Place

The Internet Segue machine was firing on all eight this week and I am trying to keep up. But this is pretty important. If you live in Colorado, extremely important.

First I read Matthew Scoenfeld's Air Jordan and the 1%

Even without a segue, it is an important piece, summarized perfectly in its subtitle: "There was a lot more income inequality on the Chicago Bulls roster after Michael Jordan's years with the team, but everyone was better off." Did the third-stringers sit around and stew that their big star was overpaid? I am guessing not.

An hour later -- or a millennium in Internet Segue Time (IST) -- I was alerted to a real estate transaction in the Denver post.

Peyton Manning buys Denver Mansion for $4.5 Million.

With only two weeks to go until the start of training camp, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has found his new home.

Manning finalized the purchase of a seven-bedroom home in Cherry Hills Village on Tuesday, according to a Denver real estate source.

Manning purchased the home for $4,575,000. The home was originally listed in March 2011 at $5.25 million.

They showed some video on the TeeVee news last night; it looks like a nice place.

Aside from a few disgruntled union teachers, I am thinking most Denverites will be pretty placid with our now elevated Gini coefficient if we make the playoffs.

UPDATE: Even the DP Comments feature minimal kvetching. I dug:

Hope they're comfortable, because I don't want him going anywhere!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

So Mitt Romney's big problem is that his throwing arm never was NFL caliber.

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2012 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

And Jack Kemp has died.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2012 3:19 PM

July 4, 2012


"...the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..."

Courtesy the New York Times, which ran a companion piece yesterday describing their history of printing the Declaration on July 4. Take a close look at the image accompanying that article. (Who knew that "18th-century English extant" read right-to-left?

But they redeem themselves today with this nicely transcribed reprint:

[Hint: Right-click and "save picture as" to open in a viewer allowing magnification.]

Many have publicly encouraged the reading of this foundational document on the holiday celebrating our nation's birth. I was surprised to learn one of them is Bill Moyers, but not surprised to learn why.

Moyers calls it "the pathology of white superiority that attended the birth of our nation." Jefferson, he said, got it right when he wrote about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the core of our human aspirations," but he denied these liberties to others on the basis of their race.

In this way, Jefferson embodies "the oldest and longest battle of all," Moyers asserted, "the battle of the self with the truth, between what we know, and how we live."

Let us hope that future historians have the luxury of a similarly derisive view of Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion on the 2012 'Obamacare' case, for buttressing an originalist interpretation of the commerce clause but "allowing the prevailing mood of the era to dictate his ruling on questions of taxation." Thomas Jefferson and John Roberts - apparently, a pair of "cowardly clowns."

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

July 2, 2012

He's All Edumacated now!

CPAC Wünderkind Jonathan Krohn "took the conservative world by storm" in a 2009 speech about Conservative values.

Now that he's 17, however, he doesn't buy it. He was simply parroting things he had heard around him in Georgia.

"I started reflecting on a lot of what I wrote, just thinking about what I had said and what I had done and started reading a lot of other stuff, and not just political stuff," Krohn said. "I started getting into philosophy -- Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Kant and lots of other German philosophers."

I think it is great now that he is so grown up that he is not merely repeating what people around him think. It is great that he has formed his own adult intellectual self.
Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? "It's a good idea." Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? "Probably Barack Obama." His favorite TV shows? "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.

Thirteen-year-olds are so impressionable. But a 17-year-old reading Wittgenstein and watching the Daily Show, that's a powerful thing.


Posted by John Kranz at 4:12 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Like many 17-year-olds he no doubt beleives he's the Übermensch. Let's talk again after he waits for six months to get his knee surgery circa 2024. That will show him his place.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 2, 2012 4:31 PM
But Bryan thinks:

He lost me when he said "Kant"...

You would be surprised how many people buy into his nonsense. They buy into it without even knowing who he was or what he said. Had an interesting debate with a co-worker about their Kantian leanings.

Posted by: Bryan at July 2, 2012 4:34 PM
But jk thinks:

I threw Mr. Kant out as cheap comment bait for Brother jg -- but it is open season.

Karl Popper devotes a good portion of Vol. 2 of "The Open Society and its Enemies" to demolishing Kant. I realized reading it, however, that Kant is the reason I exist and live in the US. Great-grandpa Kranz fled Westphalia to escape conscription in Prince Wllhelm's Prussian Army. Popper connected the dots to the attempt to create a Kantian Utopia.

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2012 4:43 PM

June 17, 2012

Review Corner

Close on the heels of Arthur Brooks's "The Road to Freedom" [Review Corner] comes another book on the morality of capitalism: Tom G. Palmer's The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won't Tell You.

This is a collection of essays, reprints and even an interview. The book is a verdant pasture for excerpting; I highlighted many quotes. But I'll share one from Jane Arunga, a Kenyan (see if she'll ever be President!) filmmaker. She argues for free market capitalism instead of foreign aid. The aid distorts the market as it always has concomitant regulation.

All of these regulations restrict our markets and our freedom. We are left purchasing goods and services that may not be of the highest quality or the best price, because we don’t have freedom of choice. That lack of freedom keeps us down and perpetuates poverty.

We aren’t just robbed of lower prices and better quality, though. We are robbed of the opportunity to innovate, to make use of our minds, to improve our situations through our own energy and intellect. In the long run, that is the greater crime against us.

This is the second in a series to present "the other side" to college students. The first [Review Corner] was a collection of Bastiat essays. Either can be purchased for $0.99 on Kindle and both are worth quite a bit more. Four and a half stars because it could have been longer.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2012

Businessman Defends Capitalism!

It happens now and then. Andrew Puzder of CKE is a Hoss and Carl's Jr. probably offers the finest low carb burger in the hemisphere. If you get a chance, find Penn & Teller's B***S*** on fast food. He has also appeared on Stossel. They're not all Jeff Immelts, yet too many of them are ready to sell out the system that launched them.

Last night, however, Home Depot's Bernie Marcus was on Kudlow & Company with Governor Howard Dean. Jason Mattera tweeted from the green room: "Home Depot founder is destroying Howard Dean right now on @larry_kudlow's show It's a beautiful thing."

And it is. I cannot find embed code, but I recommend you follow the link to read some of it and vote on the online poll "who won?" There is video there and while I don't like to tell people what to do, find some time to watch it. A beautiful thing indeed.

UPDATE: When I posted this morning, the online poll was running 50/50. I figured liberty was finished if half of CNBC's viewers thought the Gov got the better licks in. In an email with a good friend of this blog, I looked up the link and see it is now 79-19 for capitalism.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2012

It's a Woman


"I'm a big believer in stuff. It can be very comforting. You can't have too much stuff. You have too little storage space. (...) As you get older, you hang on to pieces of detritus that keeps you connected with the past. It breaks my heart when I see people selling comics collections they've spent a lifetime collecting.

Q: Why are they selling their collections? For money?

A: Sometimes it's money. More often, it's a woman. They're the de-clutterers most often."

-- Chuck Rozanski, owner of Denver's Mile High Comics in a fun Denver Post interview.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

A reader submission, courtesy of a great friend of this blog from the Empire State:

A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves -- Bertrand de Jouvenel

Posted by John Kranz at 9:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2012


T.J. Rodgers on "The Buffett Rule:"

Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Buffet Rule "is bad, wrong and immoral. Somebody has to say that."

What he said.

Posted by: johngalt at June 4, 2012 3:24 PM

May 26, 2012

A new -ocracy

It must be a real word, I read it on the internet.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:22 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Think of it as "Kleptocracy for Dummies."

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2012 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Reality of the word notwithstanding, it sadly reeks of verisimilitude.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2012 3:58 PM
But Harold D. Thomas thinks:

Kleptocracy is a real word. According to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kleptocracy) it dates to 1819.

Their definition is "government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed; also : a particular government of this kind."

Posted by: Harold D. Thomas at July 24, 2012 9:27 AM

May 25, 2012

We'll try that smackdown thing again

My last smackdown didn't go well, but I'm going to get back up on that metaphorical horsey and ride. I'm thinking this might work better. And it's less than 140 characters.

@LizMair: If everyone had art supplies there might not be any war. #stuffmothertoldme
@nickgillespie They had art supplies:
Posted by John Kranz at 10:36 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2012 3:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Reduce complicated issues to slogans and control the media to orchestrate a rapid rise to power - those Nazis were crafty.

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2012 11:08 AM

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

May 12, 2012

Jonah Goldberg on Youth

This was a great chapter in his book. (Five stars, y'all should buy it). I think the happy warrior may be a little grouchy on his book tour, but can you contradict a single word?


From the Daily Caller, with a hat-tip to one of my first blog friends, Keystone Stater Kamil Zogby, who has taken his hyper-productive blogging style to Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2012

JimiP's Arthur Brooks Quote of the Day

James Pethokoukis labels this QOTD#1. I just bought the Brooks book, but it will have to wait until I complete Passage of Power.

What is free enterprise? It is the system of values and laws that respects private property and limits government, encourages competition and industry, celebrates achievement based on merit, and creates individual opportunity. Under free enterprise, people can pursue their own ends, and they reap the rewards and consequences, positive and negative, of their own actions. Free enterprise requires trust in markets to produce the most desirable outcomes for society. It is the opposite of statism, which is the belief that government is generally the best, fairest, and most trustworthy entity to distribute resources and coordinate our economic lives.

But it sounds purdy good. . .

Posted by John Kranz at 1:54 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I would have rephrased it to simplify the definition and make an important emphasis.

"It is the system of values and laws that respects private property," end stop. The rest should be mentioned as by-products of this system. Free enterprise is not some anthropomorphic entity that can encourage competition does not specifically encourage competition or celebrate achievement. But when people cannot seize the property of eithers, their competition and achievement are necessarily encouraged.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2012 10:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I say PE is overly strict in his criticism. What you've described is the "free" portion of the term - "freedom is the system of values and laws that respects private property." But free enterprise is more about the enterprise itself, the widespread commerce that is undertaken.

I very much appreciate the idea here, that freedom in such pursuits is a moral right and not a mere expediency. Other reviewers, as cited on the Amazon sale page, echo the theme:

George F. Will - "It is true, but insufficient, to argue that free enterprise makes us better off."

P.J. O'Rourke - "But what’s really important about being free is that it’s moral. Individual liberty and personal responsibility are right. Collective restraint and communal irresponsibility are wrong."

Congressman Paul Ryan - "Economic freedom produces unimaginable material prosperity, but it’s also the only economic form that encourages individuals to freely pursue their destinies, develop the character of self-responsibility, and strengthen communities."

This happens because freedom is moral, i.e. essential to the nature of the rational human animal.

Posted by: johngalt at May 29, 2012 6:59 PM

May 7, 2012

Russ Douthat on "Julia"

Vacation was fun. Don't short your Disney stock just yet, that thing is the real deal. I spent two days on Mickey's Plantation (one chortles but it is an impressive organization). Then I rented a car because landlubbers like me cannot miss a chance to see the ocean. We drove up to Cape Canaveral and happened to arrive on an Atlas V launch day. That's my picture in the dictionary, next to "fortuitous."

A swell time, but I missed a couple big political stories. I kept up with the Chen Guangcheng case through ThreeSources and the WSJ Ed Page. I do not know that I have my head around that one yet. I believe in the liberalizing power of trade and remain unsure that a hard line stance from an American President who is not committed to liberty qua liberty is a good idea. I hope things turn out well but am not ready to take shots at Secretary Clinton or the President over this just yet.

However. The other story. Jee. Burzzz. Julia. I think they took the mask off and let the country peer deeply into their belief system. This is not dog eating; this is the philosophical debate of which ThreeSourcers dream.

As Russ Douthat mentions, we might lose. But we have a chance to discuss competing visions.

At the same time, the slide show's vision of the individual's relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of "the Life of Julia" doesn't envision government spending the way an older liberalism did -- as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness. It offers a more sweeping vision of government's place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision -- personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual -- can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.

The condescension inherent in this vision is apparent in every step of Julia's pilgrimage toward a community-gardening retirement. But in an increasingly atomized society, where communities and families are weaker than ever before, such a vision may have more appeal -- to both genders -- than many of the conservatives mocking the slide show might like to believe.

Game on. This is the question, and if liberty loses the American experiment is over. But I would rather discuss Julia than canines and contraception. It's [Wo]Man's relationship to the State. Game on.

UPDATE: I posted this before I had seen blog friend Terri's excellent take:

Creepy. And very disdainful of women. Julia being the example woman who receives government help throughout her whole life. (though there is that one section where she is probably paying more in taxes than she is receiving. I'm surprised Obama didn't mention the interstate highways that allow Julia to get from web job to web job or to go on vacations.)

It's an odd thing that they didn't mention those taxpaying years when Julia can "give back" to others who could use a leg up. That sort of thing. But no, instead Julia, little girl that she is, just relies on the government and doesn't contribute. Creepy.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:41 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

A thousand thank yous for taking this up. I had been salivating at this gold mine of comparative opportunities but couldn't find time (or bring myself) to research the President's paper-doll website.

I do not find your assessment overwrought. If the life of Julia is preferable to a plurality of voters then we'll find out what it's like to be a real browncoat, not merely a rhetorical one.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2012 5:14 PM
But SWalkerTTU thinks:

Everything mentioned in the life of Julia is a program pre-dating the Obama administration, apart from the ACA health-care reform. I'm not sure where you get the departure from Establishment Liberalism, or the threat to liberty -- apart from your taxes maybe having to go up a smidge to pay back the massive debt that's been run up. I guess you'd rather have all of these programs slashed to the point of inefficacy. In that case, why bother with a government at all?

Posted by: SWalkerTTU at May 9, 2012 11:09 PM
But jk thinks:

@SWalkerTTU: Thanks for the comment. We bother with a government to protect our liberties. I want a government to run the courts and repel foreign invaders and then leave me alone.

You're certainly right that President Obama has not caused this. The programs -- as you point out -- are the culmination of 100+ years of straying from Constitutional principles.

What Obama has done is integrate this vision into his campaign. As Douthat says, it is more about government as a partner than a safety net. This differs from FDR-Truman-LBJ liberalism if only in honesty.

I bring it up because it is my favorite topic. I expect gay marriage and contraception and dog eating and the war on women to sort themselves out fairly well over time. But man's relationship to the state drives me: whether your vision of government or mine will prevail is interesting and worthy of discussion.

I hope you will wander back this way to respond. And if you do, help me out with your handle I suspect SWalker refers to the Governor of Wisconsin but I am too dense to figure out TTU.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2012 9:43 AM

April 30, 2012

The Primacy of Philosophy

Mama, don't take my blog pragmatist title away -- even though one can argue that Brother BR has done better in practice this quadrennial.

But Mary Anastasia O'Grady, whom I revere mightily, hits it out of the park today. How can Chile, which has lit the way for Latin-American prosperity, always be on the cusp of a socialist uprising?

How this can be in Chile, the poster-child of liberal economic reform, is at first a puzzle. The answer--and this is a cautionary tale for Americans--may lie in Chile's political and intellectual climate, which is desperately short of voices able to defend the morality of the market and the sanctity of individual rights.

Even while the material benefits of the market economy have been piling up for decades, Chile has been intellectually swamped by leftist ideas. The common principle: Economic inequality is immoral and the state has an obligation to correct it.

Cautionary indeed. I must also excerpt the subhead "A free economy is at risk when a demand for equality is not answered by a defense of liberty."


Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I cannot view the full linked article from outside the paywall but I wonder, and I know you thought of this, I wonder if you're now inclined to revisit this still somewhat sore debate?

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2012 5:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Emailed it to you. I think this link is good for seven days.

It puts objections in a favorable light. Yet I contend there is a question of degree. My counter-objection on the sore topic is that it requires acceptance of a possibly correct but out-of-mainstream idea that collective happiness is not my concern or interest.

That strikes me as an interesting argument, but a much deeper step than defending liberty qua liberty. I think the philosophical descendants of Milton Friedman in Chile can defend free markets without the primacy of the individual.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2012 6:08 PM

April 27, 2012

All Hail Kling!

I might be banned from these pages for mentioning Jonathan Haidt's book again. But I am going to take the chance.

Arnold Kling has a superb and serious column posted on AEI yesterday: "The Tribal Mind: Moral Reasoning and Public Discourse." It draws, not only on Haidt's book, but three others (better warm the Kindle up, I am travelling next week).

Editor's note: Books discussed in this essay include Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind; Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow; Bruce Schneier's Liars and Outliers; and Jim Manzi's Uncontrolled.

Kling weaves them into a common theme that is well worth a read. We spend a lot of time trying to explain our positions to beloved relatives and Facebook friends. Kling extracts important themes from each of these books to aid in that task.

But be forewarned, (Haidt and) Kling challenge like-minded readers to examine their own proclivities and tendencies.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2012

Missed Segue

Dang. It was just lying there and I walked right by.

My post on the Planetary Resources failed to capture my wonder. First, that this clearly a step toward an actual instance of "Red Dwarf." Secondly, that this is an actual instance of wonder, a "step into a larger world" if I may mix a Star Wars quote and a Red Dwarf reference in the same paragraph.

I recognized Eric Schmidt's name from Google. And I was familiar with the name Peter Diamandis, partially conflating it with Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan.

But Diamandis is the X-Prize guy and co-author of the superb Abundance which was reviewed on these pages. He and David Deutsch are both positive about tapping potential bounty beyond Earth. And I hear the last lefty argument of resource limitations falling in an organic forest where no-one is around to hear.

UPDATE: Ari Armstrong writes about Planetary Resources (and other big ideas) in The Objective Standard

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

But, it is a little funny that James Cameron is involved? Doesn't this make him the bad guy in "Avatar?"

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2012 11:21 AM

April 24, 2012

Colorado Republican Resolution for Reproductive Liberty

Seventy (70) percent of 3266 delegates voted at the April 14, 2012 Colorado Republican Assembly to approve the following resolution:

38. It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that pregnancy, abortion and birth control are personal and private matters, and should not be subject to government regulation or interference.

Yes: 2,290

No: 976


Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at April 24, 2012 4:14 PM

April 22, 2012

"My Name is John Galt"

That was D.B. Sweeney speaking. Sweeney is cast in the pivotal role of the next installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie series, Atlas Shrugged: Part II - Either-Or

Sweeney is new to the franchise, partly because the John Galt character had a minor role in the first film and partly because the producers have chosen to recast the entire movie! There has been much consternation about this on the movie's discussion boards but I'm looking forward to it. My sense is that the first movie wasn't as well acted as it could have been. The leading roles of Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden were played by Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler who, while attractive, didn't seem to have their hearts in their roles. They are replaced by Samantha Mathis and Jason Beghe.

Mathis is a better fit in the role, being born in 1970 instead of 1984, and starring in major motion pictures like Broken Arrow, where she played the fetching park ranger who tracked down John Travolta and his nuclear missle.

And Beghe's name may not be familiar but viewers will recognize him from Judging Amy, G.I. Jane, Thelma and Louise, Castle, and dozens more TV series' where he had supporting roles.

Perhaps the only recognizable name in the cast is Esai Morales who replaces Jsu Garcia as Francisco. Garcia gave, I thought, the best performance of the heroic characters in Part I but Morales is still an upgrade. A consistent theme of the new cast is more experience and more maturity. It can't help but show up as a more compelling movie than the brave and fearless but out-of-its-league production of Part I.

And finally, who is D.B. Sweeney? New York-born in 1961, he set his sights on a pro baseball career. When a motorcycle accident scuttled that he pursued acting. His filmography is heavy on television roles and he had starring and supporting film roles as well, including Eight Men Out, No Man's Land and The Cutting Edge. [The last of these has special meaning to me and dagny. As washed out hockey player Doug Dorsey, Sweeney takes up figure skating with Olympian Kate Moseley and when they first meet, on the ice, Sweeney's effort to impress the young lady is dashed when he catches the ice with the toepick of his figure skate (non-existent on hockey skates) and face plants on the ice. I did the exact same thing on my first date with dagny.] Sweeney has the right build for the role of John Galt, and a natural smirking swagger that both fits the role and can lend it warmth and likeability.

I, for one, am really looking forward to the premier of Atlas Shrugged: Part II in October.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:20 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

I, too, look forward to Part II. But less with this news. We are predisposed to love it because we want so badly for this to succeed.

But I watched it again recently (free on Amazon Prime -- yay!) and, stepping out of my booster space, I certainly see its flaws. Recasting will have a horrible effect on continuity. And I will miss Ms. Schilling, whom I thought did a good job. The discontinuity will provide more ammunition to those who wish to discount this movie.

Interesting bordering on the serendipitous that you post this today. A good friend of mine recently rented Part I only to be extremely disappointed that Pt II wasn't ready yet. My news that we were only 33% there was not greeted warmly.

If Donald Rumsfeld were producing, he'd realize that you go to war with the cast you got.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's an interesting question: Should Part III retain the Part II cast, or be fully recast one more time?

I ask this from the perspective that "nobody saw Part I," at least not anyone who didn't seek it out or was otherwise already an accolyte. We "boosters" will have no trouble switching the characters to new actors and neophytes will do better with a higher grade of actor carrying the script. Presumably Part II will have greater box office than Part I. I can easily imagine - not predict, mind you, but imagine - a big budget finale for Part III. Audiences have already shown their willingness to sit through a speech or two by Mel Gibson or his ilk, and there is one humdinger of a speech coming one day in Part III.

Hey, a boy can dream.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2012 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe they'll get Mel for PIII...

Sorry, it just seems to be unraveling. Not sure the basis for expecting better box office for PII.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 3:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Digging the idea of three casts. That's a good idea.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 9:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Better box office because of:
- Better word-of-mouth due to better film, better acting.
- Better distribution through lessons learned on Part I.
- More compelling storyline in Part II vs. Part I.

Thin, I know, but I think low-budget sequels are often better than the original. (See: Road Warrior vs. Mad Max.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2012 2:18 PM

April 11, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice." -- F.A. Hayek
Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2012

Review Corner

Jonathan Haidt gets five stars for "The Righteous Mind." I do not think there is a sentient human that would not have some of his base beliefs -- or even core principles -- challenged by the book. Yet, the treatment is so fundamentally serious and fair that one cannot help but to give these ideas a serious hearing.

The book has attracted much buzz because the long time Democrat, liberal pointy head college professor explains the seriousness and nuance of conservative thought. It's not the story of a David Mamet-esque conversion, but rather an acceptance of the seriousness of their moral beliefs and their position in the moral framework he has constructed.

Likewise, I got some schooling as to where my lefty friends are coming from. If I have a gripe it is that libertarians get short shift in his world. Though his last chapter provides a superb "elevator talk" for libertarianism, the book focuses on the split between religious social conservatives and secular progressives.

At the end of so many arguments comes "how do my intelligent friends think these things?" This is as good -- and as interesting -- an explanation as you'll ever get.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:31 PM | Comments (0)


I hate boycotts. I do not listen to Rush Limbaugh. I do not call myself a conservative.

But I am pretty tired of pointy-heads telling us how to live. The lovely bride and I were considering dinner plans last night and Arby's came up (yup, nothing but the finest when you're married to me!) We simultaneously said "Nah..."

If you're going to commit to team blue, I'll probably not boycott you for all time but I will look for substitutes. As DaTechGuy says -- in my favorite blogger locution -- "How fortunate for Arby's that they have a monopoly on fast food -- so conservatives have no other choices. Oh, wait . . ."

So I will not forego roast beef for all time (the nearest Arby's is something of a drive) but they lost a sale last night. And they'll see a bit less of our debased fiat currency in the future.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Forgive my ignorance but what has RB's done?

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2012 11:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Arby brass tweeted that they were not going to advertise on Rush Limbaugh any more -- even though they did not. Then, when Rush fans started tweeting back, they blocked everyone who complained.

Not puppy torture perhaps, but one of those unforced-Dixie-Chick-style errors where someone feels an urgent need to reach out in solidarity to 39% of his or her customer base. Scroo'm eh?

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2012 1:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good grief, it's sad to see established brands become so insecure they find it necessary to update their image somehow. Next thing you know, KFC will rebrand itself KGC. Oh wait...

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2012 2:33 PM

April 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Abraham Maslow

The only happy people...are working well at something they consider important --Abraham Maslow (born this day in 1908)
I just started Jonathan Haidt's (so far superb!) The Righteous Mind. I was surprised to see the Psychologist attribute my favorite Maslow quote "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" to Mark Twain. I've been using that so long, I'm afraid to look it up.

Either way, Maslow is a rare gift to a science littered with -- shall we agree -- some non-Hosses.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2012

Thank Global Warming for GOP House!

Professor Mankiw points out an interesting study on the Tea Party. It seems it was most effective in areas that had sunny weather for big tax-day rallies.

It's easy to imagine how this works. Showing up at a rally increases the chances of getting more involved, making a donation or bringing a friend to another event. Larger and more successful rallies also boost subsequent news media coverage of the movement, further stimulating community interest.

What's more, the Tea Party experiment shows that the activism catalyzed by those sunny days translates into real political influence. Politicians whose districts were sunny on tax day voted in a more reliably conservative fashion throughout 2009 and 2010. Indeed, the absence of rain in a congressional district on April 15, 2009, made its representative 8.7 percentage points more likely to vote against the Affordable Care Act. Had the weather at those early rallies been sunnier, it's possible that Obama’s signature legislation wouldn’t have passed.

Without minimizing the power of ideas, liberty, and limited government, I think it pays to accept the randomness of exogenous events. General Washington was righteous and all -- but some lucky fog in the Battle of Brooklyn kept the revolution from getting squashed in an early outing; maybe a lovely spring 200 some years later might have done the same.

There's a great line in Pippin where Charlemagne says "It's smarter to be lucky than it's lucky to be smart."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 29, 2012

Birthright Liberty

Lawrence Lindsey has a superb guest editorial in the WSJ today, critiquing Secretary Geithner's call for more taxes from the "most fortunate Americans." Geithner said this was responsible for the "privilege of being an American." No phrase has hit me harder than this in some time. I suggest the WSJ Editor who wrote the subhead nailed it:

The Founders argued that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were rights that preceded government--not things to be granted by it.

The whole piece is great and reminds of the stakes in the next election. No the Governor of the Commonwealth still fails to excite me. But I suggest that he would nominate a SecTreas who comprehends birthright liberty.
This is an age-old view that our Founding Fathers rejected. First, they argued that the basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (i.e., economic liberty) were natural rights, endowed by our Creator, not by government. Second, the governing powers do not out-rank the citizens. Rather it is the citizens who grant government officials their "just powers." As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, governments are instituted among men based on their consent in order to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The notion that a governing authority grants privileges to those it governs directly contradicts Jefferson's declaration.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Jefferson. Hmmm, he was that guy in the sitcom, right? "Moooovin' on UP!"

The Declaration of Independence is indeed powerful - spine-tinglingly so. But I sense most Americans who have heard or read the words come to take them for granted. What is needed is a new formulation for "birthright liberty."

I found a candidate in my Hoss of Hosses Otequay of the Ayday post last week: "Equal Liberty." You want equality? Where better than in freedom?

"What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious!"

(I'm working on the 3Srcs bumper sticker.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 29, 2012 3:12 PM

February 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

I've been enjoying a trip back through the original liberty thinkers. John Locke's Two Treatises of Government, Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women are all available for little or no money on a Kindle®

But more importantly, they show how we stand on the shoulders of giants. Centuries ago, these people all got it. While the language is sometimes archaic (not too bad in most I referenced) the thoughts and ideas are modern and germane. Here's some JS to whet your liberty whistle. Our hero is concerned with conformity and authorities' using differences with custom to exclude and diminish original thinkers.

There is now scarcely any outlet for energy in this country except business. The energy expended in that may still be regarded as considerable. What little is left from that employment, is expended on some hobby; which may be a useful, even a philanthropic hobby, but is always some one thing, and generally a thing of small dimensions. The greatness of England is now all collective: individually small, we only appear capable of anything great by our habit of combining; and with this our moral religious philanthropists are perfectly contented. But it was men of another stamp than this that made England what it has been; and men of another stamp will be needed to prevent its decline.

Mill, John Stuart (2010-06-24). On Liberty and Other Essays (p. 46). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

Hold on to something, Randians -- this baby's gonna hurt!

"The American story has never been about what we just do by ourselves; it's about what we do together," -- President Barack Obama

Hat-tip: @GayPatriot

Posted by John Kranz at 7:34 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

This, coming from a man who has no accomplishments of his own; edited the Harvard Law Review but never apparently actually wrote for it; benefited from grandparents, a stepfather, and patrons along the way; served as arm candy at a law firm without doing any real legal work; published nothing during the period he was a lecturer on Constitutional Law; and rose through the political realm as a result of ties to a political machine.

Of course he would say this. People who accomplish things on their own don't have to say stupid things like this.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 23, 2012 7:59 PM
But dagny thinks:

This is a particularly insidious form of misrepresentation. I actually agree with the statement of BHO on its face. Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden built a railroad together and much of the, "American Story," is about what individuals accomplish freely working together.

However, BHO is not talking about individuals working together freely! He is talking about working together under the coercive hand of government and that is whole different matter!

Unfortunately, the majority of people listening don't consider that very crucial distinction. They believe that if the statement is correct for the freely built railroad it must by correct for whatever BHO is proposing.

Pretty sneaky Mr. President!

Posted by: dagny at February 24, 2012 1:50 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... working together under the coercive hand of government..."

It's been productive in the past. That's how the pyramids were built, after all - one Pharaoah, a bureaucracy with whips, and several million slaves.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 24, 2012 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

KA, you forgot the Nobel Prize.

"...it's about what we do together."

Yeah, "I work, you eat." Teamwork!

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2012 6:38 PM

Constitutional Sheriffs

Among the "gifts" afforded us by the advent of the Obama Administration has been talk of state nullification of federal authority over American citizens. Now there are similar musings at the next closer level of government to the individual - counties.

I could highlight some between-the-lines disdain in author Nancy Lofholm's write up but instead I choose to commend the Denver Post for running the story at all, much less on its February 12, 2012 front page under the headline: Emerging movement encourages sheriffs to act as shield against federal tyranny

The headline tells enough of the story for my purposes here so I won't excerpt. Please click through if you want the details. Unsurprisingly, news of the Arizona Convention that prompted the story has generated controversy. A Denver blogger wrote about it as "Sheriffs for Treason." But is it? Does our nation not operate under the "consent of the governed?"

I wanted to post this as a companion to JK's Craig Colorado vs. Renewable Energy Mandates post last week. The mental image of Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz and his deputies meeting briefcase-wielding EPA bureaucrats at the front gate of the Craig power plant is a reassuring prospect. And today's story about the Gibson guitar raid is another case where one starts to wonder, Who is the sheriff in that county and what was he doing that day?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:22 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

WHOA. The article you link to includes this:

"Colorado had the largest representation at this convention, along with California and Utah."

California? Can it be?

Well, just as Boulder is not Colorado Springs, California outside of the big metropolitan areas - the big eastern and northeastern counties especially - might fit right in with this. I've visited their website, and am very interested in what I see.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 23, 2012 5:48 PM

February 22, 2012

Otequay of the Ayday

"What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend." --George Washington, Letter to John Jay, 15 August, 1786
Posted by JohnGalt at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2012

Forty minutes of fun!

Bryan Caplan and Karl Smith discuss "How deserving are the poor?"

Video: http://vimeo.com/36262871

Slides and commentary: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/smithdebate.htm

Posted by John Kranz at 7:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2012

"American Catholicism's Pact with the Devil"

Hillsdale College's Paul Rahe has done it again. Being thrice granted Quote of the Day honors on our humble blog (here, here and most notably here) his posting of last Friday explains in grand detail and with far greater authority the warning I've been sounding for just a few short years of my relatively young life - that Christian altruism enables Marxist-Leninist policies in the west. I called it The Virtue of Selfishness. Rahe calls it American Catholicism's Pact With the Devil and says it goes back to FDR and the New Deal in the 1930's.

In the process, the leaders of the American Catholic Church fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States -- the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity -- and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor. In its place, they helped establish the Machiavellian principle that underpins modern liberalism -- the notion that it is our Christian duty to confiscate other people's money and redistribute it.


Posted by JohnGalt at 4:35 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

My brother-in-law just signed up for Hillsdale's Constitution 101 10 week online course and suggested I check it out. A new one starts on Feb 20.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2012 6:38 PM

February 10, 2012

Matt Welch - Jonah Goldberg Debate

I caught the live stream and recommended it. Here is a link to the video. An hour and a half, but a good 90. What if presidential candidates talked this substantively?

I dunno, in an awful year, I'm just happy to hear a full-throated defense of fusionism.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:31 PM | Comments (0)


Hat-tip: Blog friend hb via email. He just said "HOSS" too.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You can say Hoss too, or Hoss 2, but I say Hoss (superscipt)2.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2012 4:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen. It reminded me of a Governor Romney speech. There was a mictrophone, a dias, and he used words.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2012 5:39 PM

February 9, 2012

The Wages of Sin: Catholic Edition

Dan Henninger hits one out of the park today. I enjoy his work, but he is one of my least linked from the WSJ Ed Page. Today, he sums up the Catholic - Health - Charity - Birth Control imbroglio. Faustian, indeed. Pardon an extended excerpt, Rupert, but this is good stuff:

But the depth of anger among Catholics over this suggests they recognize more is at stake here than political results. They are right. The question raised by the Catholic Church's battle with ObamaCare is whether anyone can remain free of a U.S. government determined to do what it wants to do, at whatever cost.

Older Americans have sought for years to drop out of Medicare and contract for their own health insurance. They cannot without forfeiting their Social Security payments. They effectively are locked in. Nor can the poor escape Medicaid, even as the care it gives them degrades. Farmers, ranchers and loggers struggled for years to protect their livelihoods beneath uncompromising interpretations of federal environmental laws. They, too, had to comply. University athletic programs were ground up by the U.S. Education Department's rote, forced gender balancing of every sport offered.

With the transformers, it never stops. In September, the Obama Labor Department proposed rules to govern what work children can do on farms. After an outcry from rural communities over the realities of farm traditions, the department is now reconsidering a "parental exemption." Good luck to the farmers.

The Catholic Church has stumbled into the central battle of the 2012 presidential campaign: What are the limits to Barack Obama's transformative presidency? The Catholic left has just learned one answer: When Mr. Obama says, "Everyone plays by the same set of rules," it means they conform to his rules. What else could it mean?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2012

Matt Welch debates Jonah Goldberg NOW

AEI live stream

Posted by John Kranz at 6:35 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Awesome on stilts. Find it on AEI.org. It is the smarterest hour-and-a-half you'll spend in a long time: "Are Libertarians part of the Conservative Movement?"

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2012 7:40 PM

This I believe with all my heart

I've long felt that Heinlein and Rand were intellectual partners. Rand gave us the indisputible philosophical foundation for mankind's heroic existence and Heinlein provided the warm, soft, yet grittily-realistic interpretation that makes us more comfortable with the idea of individualism and self-sufficiency within and around a community of others. Rand denounced religion. Heinlein explained it. He really did have an amazing way with words:

I am not going to talk about religious beliefs, but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them.

I believe in my neighbors.

I know their faults and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults. Take Father Michael down our road a piece --I'm not of his creed, but I know the goodness and charity and lovingkindness that shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father Mike; if I'm in trouble, I'll go to him. My next-door neighbor is a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat. No fee -- no prospect of a fee. I believe in Doc.

I believe in my townspeople. You can knock on any door in our town say, 'I'm hungry,' and you will be fed. Our town is no exception; I've found the same ready charity everywhere. For the one who says, 'To heck with you -- I got mine,' there are a hundred, a thousand, who will say, 'Sure, pal, sit down.'

I know that, despite all warnings against hitchhikers, I can step to the highway, thumb for a ride and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, 'Climb in, Mac. How how far you going?'

I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime, yet for every criminal there are 10,000 honest decent kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up, business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news; it is buried in the obituaries --but it is a force stronger than crime.

I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses...in the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land.

I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.

I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.

I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River.

I believe in -- I am proud to belong to -- the United States. Despite shortcomings, from lynchings to bad faith in high places, our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.

And finally, I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown --in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability....and goodness.....of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth, that we always make it just by the skin of our teeth --but that we will always make it....survive....endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching, oversize brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes, will endure --will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets, to the stars, and beyond, carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage --and his noble essential decency.

This I believe with all my heart.

© 1952 Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

a w e s o m e .

I may have another for your Pantheon. I am halfway through David Deutsch 's "The Beginning of Infinity." I have recommended his "Fabric of Reality" too many times on this blog. It is a fascinating cosmology book that draws heavily on epistemology.

Infinity is almost all epistemology ("Nobody's studying physics anymore -- they're doing epistemology!") and it is stunning in 1000 ways.

Heinlein kicked off the recollection because Deutsch, who I assume must be an unreconstructed lefty -- living in Oxford, disputes the tedious Stephen Hawking - Carl Sagan assertion that we are insignificant pond-scum because of the breadth of the universe. Humans exercising free-will in a post-British-Enlightenment acquisition of knowledge are more special because of their improbability, not less. For starters, 80% of this universe is dark matter. Ergo, we're one in five special just for emitting light.

He is a full blooded disciple of Dr. Karl Popper (perhaps not an unreconstructed lefty) and seems the physics and cosmology counterpart to co-disciple Virginia Postrel.

I have been highlighting sections for what might be the first 25,000 word review corner. But here's a taste on the topic I mentioned.

I was wrong to be impressed by the mere scale of what I was looking at. Some people become depressed at the scale of the universe, because it makes them feel insignificant. Other people are relieved to feel insignificant, which is even worse. But, in any case, those are mistakes. Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow. Or a herd of cows. The universe is not there to overwhelm us; it is our home, and our resource. The bigger the better.

Deutsch, David (2011-07-21). The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World (p. 35). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2012 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow -- talk about crashing another guy's post. One more and I'll go back to work:

That means that, considered as a language for specifying organisms, the genetic code has displayed phenomenal reach. It evolved only to specify organisms with no nervous systems, no ability to move or exert forces, no internal organs and no sense organs, whose lifestyle consisted of little more than synthesizing their own structural constituents and then dividing in two. And yet the same language today specifies the hardware and software for countless multicellular behaviours that had no close analogue in those organisms, such as running and flying and breathing and mating and recognizing predators and prey. It also specifies engineering structures such as wings and teeth, and nanotechnology such as immune systems, and even a brain that is capable of explaining quasars, designing other organisms from scratch, and wondering why it exists.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2012 3:36 PM
But dagny thinks:

Heinlein is one of my favorites and this seems apropos to all of our caucusing last night.


Can't imagine why it costs $164.00 though.

Posted by: dagny at February 8, 2012 4:05 PM
But jk thinks:

I requested it on Kindle -- maybe they'll be able to do that at $80.37...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2012 4:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Just clicked through and got the audio. Double awesome.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2012 4:38 PM

February 7, 2012

Got Yer Constitutional Imbroglio Right Here

Too many good things to discuss at too great a length on Caucus Day. But I'll add this to Brother br's awesome and frightening post.

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. "The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere," according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

The study, to be published in June in The New York University Law Review, bristles with data. Its authors coded and analyzed the provisions of 729 constitutions adopted by 188 countries from 1946 to 2006, and they considered 237 variables regarding various rights and ways to enforce them.

It is disturbing and chock full'o NYTimes smug, but the greatest blueprint of all time for the organization of society is losing out to those "that offer more rights" (I'm guessing heath care and dry cappuccinos in the lunch room but I have not completed the requisite research.

I need more time with this, but it strikes me as extremely sad.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 1:56 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Related: SCOTUS Justice Ginsberg - "I would not look to the US Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012." (Shoulda clicked through first and seen this was also mentioned in the article, but I'll leave it here for its sheer breathlessness.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2012 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm playing with fire now, but I will defend the petite, opera-loving, über-progressive Associate Justice.

Like then-Professor Wilson, Progressives are entitled to yearn for a government structure that puts more power into the voters' hands so that they can move faster to shape it.

I fulsomely disagree, but do not consider it treasonous to serve in a government whose structure you question. I would accept your nomination to the US Senate (keep that in mind on Caucus night -- and I am over 30) even though I abhor the 17th Amendment.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2012 5:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll politely contend that government office holders surrender the right to yearn for a supra-Constitutional government when they swear the oath of office. I find this essay quite credible.

I have begun to understand that those in our government repeatedly take oaths that they do not understand do not actually believe. Taking an oath and not understanding what that oath means, is the equivalent of taking no oath at all.
Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2012 3:12 PM

February 4, 2012

Don't fight the Tape!

My GOP friends are falling into a trap, led by my favorite Jeopardy champion.* I tell them "Listen to Kudlow! Walk towards the light!"

The American economic engine is an amazing, robust, self-correcting system. Even the policies of the 111th Congress and 44th President cannot keep it down forever.

Sure, Pethokoukis has a point "trying to place in context the Great Recession's aftermath and the nature of the economic recovery." But I see The Herman Cain, and Jimi P, and a host of bloggers yelling "Obama's Recession!" after 847,000 jobs are added (household survey).

We can say it could be better, we can say the Obama Recovery is tepid and fragile -- hell, we can ask to see his birth certificate (just kidding on that last one...) But, if we deny a recovery and create a general election strategy against the recession we think his policies will cause, we run the risk of looking foolish, losing the election -- and having to cover shorts at high prices.

Don't fight the tape; the economy might be improved by November. That's why we should choose a candidate based on ideas. I fear "Obama's Recession" is the only arrow in Governor Romney's quiver.

(* Who is James Pethokoukis?)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2012

D'ja Read Paul Krugman This Week?

Don Luskin is right, this guy really is Ellsworth Toohey:

Mitch Daniels, the former Bush budget director who is now Indiana's governor, made the Republicans' reply to President Obama's State of the Union address. His performance was, well, boring. But he did say something thought-provoking -- and I mean that in the worst way.

There is a cottage industry devoted to criticizing Krugman: from economic, political, and stylistic perspectives. I generally prefer to pretend that he doesn't exist. But my (biological) brother posted a link to this column, and a friend of his with whom I've tussled comments:
I so enjoyed the SOTU, I didn't want to ruin it by listening to one of my fellow Hoosiers. It started out sounding like the usual fur-ball coughed up by Republican puppets who can't think for themselves and it seems it didn't get any better after I turned it off.

Yes. When someone says something you don't agree with, stick your fingers in your ears and yell "la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!"

But that's not important. And the etiquette of reposting friend's comment is borderline at best. What is important is the anti-Randian thesis of the piece. China (leftists and dictatorships, no no pattern, move along, pilgrim...) is economically swell because they have a concentration of factories. Apple is not swell because they outsource and do not contribute to the collective industrial community in the good old USA.

Now, I am an underlying fan of the first half. Colonial Connecticut, Silicon Valley, and the Jazzmen of 52nd Street demonstrate the power of critical mass. But Krugman wants to do it via top-down economics.

But the current Republican worldview has no room for such considerations. From the G.O.P.'s perspective, it's all about the heroic entrepreneur, the John Galt, I mean Steve Jobs-type "job creator" who showers benefits on the rest of us and who must, of course, be rewarded with tax rates lower than those paid by many middle-class workers.

And this vision helps explain why Republicans were so furiously opposed to the single most successful policy initiative of recent years: the auto industry bailout.

In '88, Gov Dukakis championed the "Massachusetts Miracle" and touted that he would bring Route 128 prosperity to the whole country. Vice President Bush's team responded with video of a filthy Boston Harbor, decrepit homes in Roxbury, &c. I suggest that "President Obama wants to bring Detroit to the whole country" would be a good campaign issue -- for both sides.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

I don't read it as anti-Randian, but anti-free market and anti-creative destruction. GM and Chrysler weren't failing because government had too little involvement, and it wasn't President Obama on a white horse that made them solvent again. It was a political hit-job on their private creditors that won that relief. And if Washington didn't prop up GM and Chrysler with public "venture funds" then private interests would have, and at much favorable terms than were awarded to the UAW.

Yes, it takes groups, collections even of talented people to make big business successful. Nobody claimed that Ford was in better shape because the CEO carries the family name. The only help businesses need from government is to not be punished or hamstrung too much.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2012 4:43 PM
But jk thinks:

I suggested anti-Randian because Krugman needs to denigrate individual contribution.

Steve Jobs wasn't so hot. A lot of the 700,000 jobs he created were not in the US.

What a loser.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2012 5:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Mea culpa. Yes it is anti-Randian also. I should have said "not so much" anti-Randian.

(Like how I've come to accept that term? I've grown a lot here at 3Srcs.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2012 1:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe there's hope for me...

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2012 3:14 PM

January 26, 2012

All Hail Stossel!

I was pundited out on Tuesday night and left John Stossel's special "libertarian response to the SOTU" on TiVo. MERCIFUL ZEUS! It was awesome. David Boaz from CATO, Matt Welch from Reason, Megan McArdle and Gov. Gary Johnson joined Stossel and a hard-Stossel-leaning studio audience to react to the speech.

Boaz has posted a large section of it:

Megan McArdle:

As David Boaz said last night, Obama's talk of blueprints was telling. A blueprint is a simple plan that an architect imposes on an inanimate object. Obama really does seem to think that he can manage the economy in the same way. No, I don't think that he is a socialist. Rather, I think that he really believes there are technocratic levers that can make the income distribution flatter, the rate of innovation faster, and the banking system safer, without undesireable side effects.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

McArdle: "All it took was a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown that wiped out the supply chain of their largest competitor." [To make the US auto industry "number 1" again.] AWESOME!

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2012 5:26 PM

January 16, 2012

Taleb on Antifragility

Got an hour-thirteen you don't know what to do with?

Of course not -- but listen to Russ Roberts's econtalk podcast anyway. Nicholas Nassim Taleb discusses his forthcoming book at least nine months before its expected release.


Posted by John Kranz at 6:54 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2012

Response to Professor Warren's Manifesto

Yet another -- not another, the best -- response to Elizabeth's Warren's "Nobody go rich on his own" diatribe, which lives on at moveon.org and in the (cold, dark) hearts of my Facebook friends. Richared Epsein, hoss of hosses, provides a clear and stirring response. Keep a link to this baby for the upcoming Massachusetts Senate election:

Her first sentence is meant as a direct assault on the notion of radical individualism. Yes, it is obvious that no person "ever got rich on his own." But that statement does nothing to undermine sensible forms of laissez-faire individualism. The reason why people do not get rich by themselves is not that they lack self-reliance or ambition. It is because the individuals who succeed understand the key proposition that personal gains result only through cooperation with others. The common business school refrain of win/win deals is not an observation about one person: it is, at its core, about two (or more) people, all of whom win through cooperative arrangements.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2012

Brass Tacks

Rush Limbaugh, discussing Newt Gingrich being interviewed by FNC's Megyn Kelley about his criticism of Romney's history at Bain Capital:

GINGRICH: There has to be some sense of everybody's in the same boat -- and I think again, as I said, he's gonna have to explain why would Bain have taken $180 million out of a company and then have it go bankrupt, and to what extent did they have some obligation to the workers? Remember, there are a lot of people who I had a that $180 million, it wasn't just six rich guys at the top, and yet somehow they walked off from their fiduciary obligation to the people who had made the money for them.

RUSH: (sigh) Folks, things happen. Sometimes they happen for a reason. Now, one of the things that you have to say that is happening here is (whether he intends it or not) we're finding out some things about Newt that we didn't know. We're finding out that he looks at "these rich guys," six rich guys and they have an obligation. He sounds like Elisabeth Warren.

"Fiduciary obligation?" I do not think it means what you think it means!

Newt = TEA Party, NON.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:32 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"At some point, you've made enough money."

The words that set my teeth on edge are: "...their fiduciary obligation to the people who had made the money for them..."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 10, 2012 4:05 PM

January 9, 2012

How many layers of tinfoil make a good hat?

Ask any young person and you'll be told that as you get older you (tend to) get more cynical. Perhaps it's a fair cop, guv. I think it is certain that one gets more skeptical - perhaps the gold prize is to acquire skepticism without cynicism.

Because there's a damned lot about which to be skeptical!

Andrew Ferguson has an awesome article in The Weekly Standard, lovingly titled "The Chump Effect."

Entire journalistic enterprises, whole books from cover to cover, would simply collapse into dust if even a smidgen of skepticism were summoned whenever we read that "scientists say" or "a new study finds" or "research shows" or "data suggest." Most such claims of social science, we would soon find, fall into one of three categories: the trivial, the dubious, or the flatly untrue.

I use the tinfoil hat title and mention cynicism because I am seriously concerned with both the frequency and amplitude of my heterodoxy. Even people who like me dismiss my thoughts on liberty because "he doesn't even believe in global warming!" I only tell my closest friends -- and the Internet -- that I don't believe oil comes from dead dinosaurs. I scoff at the Keynesian multiplier, Hegelian didactics, almost everything I see on teevee news, and now -- thanks to Gary Taubes -- all that is holy and sacred in dietary advice.

If you're on Facebook and have one friend who is not in Club for Growth, you've probably seen a picture of a woman who, 99% style, holds up a handwritten note with her life story. She is 34, doesn't get heath insurance at work, and now has cancer. Thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Crappy Care Act®, she is able to sign up for insurance. Ain't life grand.

My brother and two of my friends have posted this. I have made comments about right to contract, the blessings of liberty, and the suggestion that we could help people without outlawing insurance and redesigning 16% of the economy (obviously I want this poor woman to die of cancer). After all the democratic imposters over the years whose tearful plights have withered under scrutiny, I wonder a) if the woman has any health problems at all; b) what things did a working, 34-year-old prioritize over health insurance; and c) what is this job and how much does she make?

Two layers of tinfoil make a pretty nice capacitor -- you could charge your iPod from the government's rays.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:26 PM | Comments (7)
But dagny thinks:

The FB friend that I saw post this included the comment that, "this makes it oh so clear..." Funny I disagree. I have more questions to add to JK's list. Who does she think paid for the care she received? Are the doctors and nurses expected to work for free? Are her neighbors and co-workers expected to pay? If she embezzled the money from her company to pay for the surgery, she would be in jail, but if the government steals it for her from the same company, somehow that is moral?

P.S. This showed up on my Facebook page beneath a plea stating, "Let's work hard to make 2012 the year in which corporations are stripped of the legal personhood that makes it legal for them to buy election and politicians." It was accompanied by a poster saying, "I will believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

P.P.S. I don't have the guts to post this reply on FB. It will have to stay here with the 3srces choir.

Posted by: dagny at January 9, 2012 7:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Maaah-Maaay-Meeeeee-Mooooo-Myooooou... Welcome to choir practice!

I posted very moderate responses. I have seen each that you list but never together -- my word you're tough!

It's funny because I endure mounds of completely out there lefty stuff, and normally roll-eyes and continue. Yet when I post a thoughtful piece from AEI or WSJ, I am some kind of crank.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2012 8:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's a thought: Maybe we should all try being less reasonable and more vitriolic, condescending and dismissive in our treatment of FB friends. Hey, it seems to work for them!

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2012 12:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Maybe. Pig. Sing.

Really, at the end of the day they don't appreciate reason. I suspect they won't like rough treatment either. This is the conversation at our dinner table three times a week. How do you reach those people?

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2012 12:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Try, "Ha ha ha. That's funny!"

What's funny?

"That you still believe _______."

Well, everyone knows _______.

"Yeah, and everyone knew Pittsburgh would beat the Broncos too. Wouldn't life be boring if it really was all predetermined like the smarties on TV like to say it is?"

Oh please, that's just a football game.

"Alright, please tell me which group or groups of people are heretofore certified never to be wrong ever again. Sportscasters? Scientists? Anyone? Pshaw!"

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2012 1:55 PM
But dagny thinks:

They don't appreciate reality much either. At the end of the day, if those of us who are rational cannot turn the ship around, reality will smack them in the face. Check your ammunition supply (cynical I know).

Posted by: dagny at January 10, 2012 2:02 PM

December 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

Managerial progressives see only the end -- preventing free-riders from riding for free. And they ignore the collateral damage done by way of the means selected. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have no understanding of first principles. For both of these social engineers, citizens are subjects to be worked-over by the government for their own good. Both men are inclined to treat us as children subject to the authority of a paternalistic state under the direction of a benevolent and omniscient managerial class. -- Paul Rahe in an awesome, comprehensive takedown of the individual mandate.
Hat-tip: Instapundit
Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2011

Michelle Obama - Randian

Whoops, I hope moveon-dot-org doesn't find out about this.

Barbara Walters, ABC News: "Mrs. Obama, you've recently said something that I thought was very interesting for other women to hear. You said 'you put your own self highest on your priority list.' That sounds selfish?"

Michelle Obama: "No, no, it's practical. It's something that I found I needed to do for quite some time, even before the presidency. And I found it other women, in similar situated balancing career family, trying to do it all and a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we're so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others."

Yes, Michelle, it is selfish. What it is not is a shameful act. The next thing you know you'll be saying people should pay their own way. Baby steps.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:08 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Point of order, Mr. Chairman:

Mrs. Obama may in fact may in fact be - obliquely - getting in touch with her inner Randian, but only as regards herself. She puts herself first, which is one important aspect, and one for which none of us here would fault her, if that aspect were taken on its own. However:

(1) That philosophy also requires that she respect that same right of others to put themselves first and manage their own lives. Trying to dictate how we live, what we eat, and what we think violates that.

(2) Putting herself first in her own life is fine, but someone genuinely true to our philosophy would do so on the strength of their own resources and abilities. She should, as you write, "pay her own way." Her vacations are not being paid for by the family resources and the Obama paycheck; they are underwritten from the public coffers, funded by confiscatory taxation, and extravagantly so. The product of our labors is redistributed to her to finance her lifestyle. Ergo, there's a lot more looter and moocher than Randian in this recipe.

I realize that the post has the tongue firmly planted in the cheek, but if I can play Counterpoint to your Point, I'd brand her not so much a Randian as a self-involved, self-indulgent, extravagant, elitist beyotch. It seems to me that her Marie Antoinette street cred is secure.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 23, 2011 12:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, yes, yes and yes - minus the satisfying but counterproductive ad hominem. ;)

What I liked about this story is that even a doctrinaire statist like Mrs. Hussein Obama has to admit that she is the best person to decide what is good for her self. I don't really expect her to disavow her statist ways because of this contradiction but it is a good example to others that no amount of government will replace one's own self-interested effort. (Stop demanding, start producing.)

It's also another rare opportunity to explain that selfishness isn't immoral, it's survival.

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2011 1:25 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Satisfying? Most assuredly. Counter-productive? Perhaps, perhaps not; definitely not as counter-productive as most of the economic policies of the current Administration (and I mean "productive" in the economic sense, I suppose). You have no idea how much restraint it took to spell "beyotch" with seven letters. Ad hominem? The truth is an absolute defense, though I will defer to my gracious hosts who allow me to participate here: your house, your rules, and if I have been too off-color, please accept my apologies.

Today, I choose to celebrate the high degree of agreement you and I share on all the points we do. And, it being December 23, Happy Festivus to one and all. Should I not have the opportunity to post again in the next couple of days, a joyous Christmas to everyone at ThreeSources, friends and family included.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 23, 2011 3:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You are the picture of decorum brother. It's just that I make every effort to keep my posts as objective and defensible as possible in a probably misguided effort to be persuasive to Kool-Aid drinkers. It's a personal thing. (And if that's the only part I choose not to agree with you on it was a damned good comment!)

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2011 5:13 PM

December 12, 2011

Picture of the Day

Here's yer thousand words, bub:

From The Class Warfare We Need, by Steve Conover

Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2011

The ThreeSources Home Version (BUMPED)

A good friend of mine and this blog sends the following to a few friends. I choose to steal it outright and open it up the ThreeSourcers everywhere on the Internets:

Here is a game that's fun for the whole family; name the single worst political, cultural or judicial event in your lifetime. And in the bonus round describe the bright shiny world we'd now inhabit if that event never occured.

Game on.

UPDATE: I rarely "bump" but there is some fun stuff here.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Good answer, jg.

First, the exercise cheered my up. Because I realized all the realllly bad stuff was baked into the cake before Walt & Dee brought their bouncing baby boy home from St. Joe's. But here she goes:

3rd runner up: Goldwater loses in 1964. This is my version of the game, I like to flip elections and 1964 is a fave. This is an even shinier version of jg's world. To be fair, this was not a close, tipping point, event, and while we would be more free, there might be a bit of Mad Max to the world, I dunno.

2nd runner up: Arthur Burns appointed Fed Chair in 1970. I do not long for Bretton Woods, but the US Lost Decade of inflation and stagnation in the 1970's can be blamed on bad monetary policy, leisure suits and disco music. We would have a much higher per-capita GDP if we could have posted regular growth.

1st runner up: Robert Bork is not confirmed to SCOTUS. Instead of David Souter, a triumvirate of Scalia, Thomas, and Bork revisit Wickard v. Filburn, the Slaughter House cases, and we get a Constitutional Republic instead of Kelo.

The winnah: The Johnson - Mozilo axis of evil at Fannie Mae. This was a tipping point. Gretchen Morgenson's Reckless Endangerment documents a few close calls where regulators or congressional oversight was close to limiting their activities. And without the banking crash, we could have escaped TARP I & II and quite possibly the Obama Presidency and GM Bailout (which was screaming for a spot on the list).

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2011 11:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. I had plans to file a ghost-written entry for my 103-year-young grandmother citing the fraudulent "ratification" of the 16th Amendment. (The link eludes me.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2011 7:00 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I'd like to nominate Jimmy Carter's feckless response to the Tehran embassy seizure. Rather than negotiate with terrorists, creating a template we still use to this day, he could have promised a massive retaliation against military and government institlations should any of our captives come to harm. A region that recognizes and respects power would have intervened with the "students" and solved the crisis for us. It was no coincidence that the hostages were freed as Reagan came into office. Carter's inability to respond with force emboldened not only the Iranians, but the Iraqis and the countless free range terror groups we face today. In my bright and shiny world there would be no nuclear Iran ready to disrupt world energy supplies, finance global terrorism and destroy Israel, because the cost of provoking the United States would be too certain and too devastating to contemplate. Carter allowed the mouse that roared to become an existential threat to not only the Mideast, but to global security and peace. I fear we haven't begun to pay the cost for Carter's timidity but it's starting to look as if the bill is coming due soon.

My runner up is Woodstock. This seems to be the cultural pinnacle of the 60's people and what a fine time it was. A handful of incompetent rock and roll impresario's trying to make a buck off of music and failing miserably, a bunch of college kids that want everything to be free and communal so they tear the fences down and walk in, some great and some very marginal rock artists making darn sure they get paid before taking the stage and half a million stoned idiots rolling around naked in the mud for three days. Well done 60's people! and now your spawn is camping out in parks and demanding their college loans be forgiven! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But as Woodstock became Altmont so too has Occupy This and That become Lord of the Flies! Screw that! I'll take Buck Owens and the Super Bowl every time.

Posted by: sugarchuck at December 8, 2011 7:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Nicely done and I agree all around.

Has my friend heard Ayn Rand's Apollo and Dionysus? At the risk of starting a fight, it is my favorite thing she has ever done.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2011 7:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is going to nominate the Watergate break-in. Nixon was cruising to re-election and there was absolutely no reason to play dirty. The episode completely discredited Nixon, the Republican party, the war effort and sane government policy. In his effort to recover, Nixon put us on the path to appease Ho Chi Min at a time when we had militarily killed 80% of the NVA. (Contrary to popular reporting, Tet was not a victory for the North. In fact, they were beaten pretty badly. But, the Liberal media had a narrative to follow.)Nixon bent to the enviros and founded the EPA (how's that workin' out?) and left us with the incompetant Gerald Ford who lead to Jimmy Carter. The success of knocking off Nixon has given the Liberal Left a template that they pound to this very day. A totally unforced - and colassal - error.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 9, 2011 12:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Well played all around; thanks for the thoughtful comments. ThreeSourcers rock!

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2011 11:55 AM

December 7, 2011

Quote of the Day

Oddly enough, Obama also praises [Theodore] Roosevelt for supporting a minimum wage for women. Chapter 4 of Rehabilitating Lochner describes the impetus for such laws, and much of the relevant the information in that chapter can be found in this paper published in Law and Contemporary Problems. The history is too rich to give an adequate summary here. Let's just say that the history of such laws is not pretty. The laws' primary supporters included male-only labor unions that wanted to keep women out of the workplace--women-only minimum wage laws almost never passed without strong from unions that typically opposed minimum wage laws for men; eugenicists who wanted women to stay home and take care of their children; bigots who thought that only the lower order of men (including Eastern European immigrants) would allow their women to work for wages; moralists who believed that low-wage women were susceptible to vice and should therefore stay out of the workforce; and economists who believed that, as Felix Frankfurter summarized in his brief in Adkins v. Children's Hospital, women who wanted to work but could not command a government-imposed minimum wage were "semi-employable" or "unemployable" workers who should "accept the status of a defective to be segregated for special treatment as a dependent." -- David Bernstein
UPDATE: Plus, an All Hail Harsanyi! Two of my favorite guys blast one of my least favorite Presidents -- it's like Christmas!
Obama, after all, is such a towering economic mind that in Osawatomie, he once again blamed ATMs (and the Internets) for job losses. This is a man we can trust. "Less productivity! More jobs!"
The Harsanyi quote does not reflect the seriousness of the piece, but I thought y'all might like it. These two articles, together, provide a superb view of Progressivism versus Liberalism.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

In 1783, William Pitt warned the British Parliament about the dangers of those who would reflexively employ "necessity" as an argument in favor of their preferences. "Necessity," Pitt exclaimed, "is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves!" -- Charles C. W. Cooke
Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. Why do we always act as if we have forgotten that? -- Jerry Pournelle
Context is the Gibson raid, hat-tip is the Instapundit.
Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2011

Five Novels with Classically Liberal Themes

I give thanks again for our superior and gifted commentariat. If you've missed it, we have been having fun several posts south discussing the writing talents and political orientation of Stephen King.

The preponderance of left wing thought in Novels is worthy of more serious thought than I will give here, but to show the scale of the disparity, I enumerate five that support my beliefs. Spanning a few centuries. My rules prohibit multiple books by the same author, and I don't pretend to be an authority on literature. So it is not quite as bad as I make it. I seem to remember National Review listing 25 once, but they would load up on C.S. Lewis whom I would not critique except to say that that does not align exactly with my views. They would also list "Brideshead Revisited" out of homage to WFB, but while Waugh was "big-C Conservative," I'm not sure Brideshead truly flies the flag. Even Disraeli’s books skew a bit left.

Here is the jk list; let me know what I am missing:

  • I am Charlotte Simmonds -- Tom Wolfe
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress -- Robert Heinlein
  • Atlas Shrugged -- Ayn Rand
  • My Antonia -- Willa Cather
  • Bleak House -- Charles Dickens

I used to have a five great lefty list, just so I could count Dickens on both. But these are numerable entries against an ocean of Steinbeck, Cheever, Updike, Umberto Eco, Stephen King, Amy Tan -- you can think of them as fast as you can say them. Even my beloved "Art of Racing in the Rain" requires me to check my philosophy at the door a bit.

This does not defend King's explicit rants in 11/22/63, but it sets the bar of expectation pretty low on rational, individualist thought and appreciation for self-sovereignty in fiction.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (3)
But Lisa M thinks:

NRO did an updated list not including Brideshead Revisted or anything by C.S.Lewis. It can be found here:


I can report that I've read 6 of the 10 on this list and would count "The Time it Never Rained" and "No Country for Old Men" among my favorites. To cheat a bit, I'd add Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" as well.

To your list I would add The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Posted by: Lisa M at November 24, 2011 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Somebody's behind the curve. I've read only "Bonfire" on Miller's list and confess I only recognize a few of the other authors. I'll clearly have to start with Cormac McCarthy -- anybody who makes National Review's list and Oprah's has got to have something.

The Tolkien trilogy is an omission. My list is up to six. Miller starts at 1950 but the lack of overlap intrigues. I labored whether to give Rand's slot to Atlas or The Fountainhead, but spent less a second choosing I am Charlotte over Bonfire.

Don't know I'll run all nine, but a short fiction run would probably do me some good.

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2011 6:59 AM
But jk thinks:

The Winnah! "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson. The first in a moderately random look through the NR list available on Kindle for 9.99. And, on the recommendation of a good friend of this blog, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories" by Flannery O'Connor. ($8.51 !!)

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2011 11:32 AM

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark J. Perry:

Like in previous years, you probably didn't call your local supermarket ahead of time and order your Thanksgiving turkey this year. Why not? Because you automatically assumed that a turkey would be there when you showed up, and it probably was there when you showed up "unannounced" at your local grocery store to select your bird.

The reason your Thanksgiving turkey was waiting for you without an advance order? Because of "spontaneous order," "self-interest," and the "invisible hand" of the free market -- "the mysterious power that leads innumerable people, each working for his own gain, to promote ends that benefit many." And even if your turkey appeared in your local grocery stores only because of the "selfishness" or "corporate greed" of thousands of commercial turkey farmers, truckers, and supermarket owners who are complete strangers to you and your family, it's still part of the miracle of the marketplace where "individually selfish decisions lead to collectively efficient outcomes."


Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:


Related: Call It Exuberant Friday, Not "Black Friday"

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2011 3:02 PM

November 21, 2011

Now, a Sermon -- For The Chior!

Et tu, Starbucks®?

I winced when I saw that my favorite multi-national corporate chain was accepting $5 donations to "promote jobs." I knew it would be goofy, but I didn't know what -- I figured they would hire some kids to sort their recycling and blow real hard at windmills or something.

But it's worse. It's the somewhat seriously good idea of micro-finance, perverted by removing its free market element. You take something that is half-good, and extirpate the good half!

The Mises Institute has the lowdown:

The $5 donation will help poor entrepreneurs start or maintain a business in typically underserved areas with the idea that this will help create or sustain small-business jobs. This sounds quite noble but mischaracterizes what jobs are and where they originate.

[Adam Stover] continues: "Furthermore, Opportunity Finance Network's website invests in businesses that are 'profitable, but not profit maximizing. They put the community first, not the shareholder.' Implicit in this statement is that turning a profit hurts someone, which is patently false. This is exactly what we as a society do not want."

Posted by John Kranz at 2:11 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

But it ain't gubmint cheese.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 21, 2011 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope, it's not even coerced. You make an argument I make frequently if not in that exact, dairy-infused locution.

But it perpetuates bad economic ideas. Can we agree on half-evil?

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2011 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Or -- keeping the dairy theme -- Half & Half evil?

Posted by: jk at November 21, 2011 6:27 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Misguided and feckless at best, evil at worst.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 22, 2011 9:29 AM

November 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

You can always get me by bashing Boomers!

All of this was done by a generation that never lost its confidence that it was smarter, better educated and more idealistic than its Depression-surviving, World War-winning, segregation-ending, prosperity-building parents. We didn't need their stinking faith, their stinking morals, or their pathetically conformist codes of moral behavior. We were better than that; after all, we grokked Jefferson Airplane, achieved nirvana on LSD and had a spiritual wealth and sensitivity that our boorish bourgeois forbears could not grasp. They might be doers, builders and achievers -- but we Boomers grooved, man, we had sex in the park, we grew our hair long, and we listened to sexy musical lyrics about drugs that those pathetic old losers could not even understand. -- Walter Russell Meade

Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2011

Tebow Anyone?

This isn't, as the category suggests, merely a Colorado issue. The Tim Tebow phenomenon is a national one. For some reason this single player evokes or inspires either hatred or extreme admiration. Most seem to focus on his overt religiosity, and either despise or worship the example he sets. I don't see it that way at all.

I marvel at Tebow's ability to inspire and motivate his teammates. While sports professionals in the coaching, scouting and analysis business focus on his objective qualities they almost completely disregard his unique ability to lead. This causes them to make statements like "Tebow can't be an NFL quarterback." But many people believe that statement is wrong and I, for one, know it is wrong. And it has very little (but not nothing) to do with religion.

My sister emailed me a link to this TED Talk yesterday. The title is 'Benjamin Zander on Music and Passion' and it seems an unlikely place to find a key to success in life, but I did. It's 20 minutes long and you'll do yourself a favor to find that much time in your busy life to slow down, sit down, watch and listen and think. Here is Tebow's big "secret."

"It's one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt, for one moment, the capacity of the people he's leading to realize whatever he's dreaming."

Not only does this attitude make Tebow's teammates perform better, it makes him perform better. It does so in a way that manifests itself on the field of competition much more than on the practice field. And understanding it is so elusive that many deny its existence even after witnessing it with their own, "lying" eyes.

Tebow isn't the only NFL quarterback with this quality. I've seen it in Elway, Montana, Staubach, Griese, Jaworski, Fouts and Bradshaw among others. My dad saw it in Daryle Lamonica. It can be seen today in Brady, Rogers and Brees, and glimpses of it in many of the league's younger QBs. And just as importantly, some players of the position clearly do not have it. The ones I have noticed recently are Romo, Eli Manning and ... Kyle Orton. When a play fails each of them is as likely as not to yell, jesture, shrug or shake his head at one or more of his teammates. This is also inspirational leadership, but in the wrong direction.

I said Tebow's big secret has a little to do with religion and that something is "belief." Religion teaches men to believe.

UPDATE: Dad corrects that it was George Blanda he admired so.

UPDATE 2: Macho Duck challenged my inclusion of Donovan McNabb on the list of demotivational NFL quarterbacks. He's right. I put his name in my list before defining what it was a list of, i.e. finger pointers. An error of Saturday morning haste has been corrected.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:35 AM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:


Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 31, 2011 8:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Uhhh ... I said I know Tebow is an NFL-caliber quarterback. I did not say he could turn water into wine. (Well, not over a three-hour span at any rate.)

How many other proven QBs have had similar issues this season? (Inaccurate passes, out of sync with receivers).

How many of them played their rookie season without a training camp to prepare?

How many games did Saint John Elway stink out of the stadium in his rookie season, and how many disappointing seasons did he have under a non-supportive coaching staff?

I never said he was a savior but understand that many feel his supporters have suggested exactly that. No, he's a rookie. But even at that he provides a greater sense of possible success than did the veteran Orton. Who thought Orton was going to bring the Broncos back against Green Bay? But before a 14-point meltdown in the last 5 minutes of the first half, Denver trailed by just a touchdown. Personally I think the Broncos suffer from "right handedness" as a team. Their best OT plays on the left side, but Tim's blind side is on the right. And the pass to Decker that went for a 100-yard pick six was an out route on the right sideline - a play that is easier for a lefthanded thrower if it goes to the left sideline.

I could go into greater detail on that meltdown, including a ridiculous 15-yard penalty on Denver's punter for chicken fighting with a blocker, or the two illegal blocks on the same play that the officials managed not to see. But the point is, Denver lost as a team on Sunday. Now they have a choice: Regroup, rally, gameplan around the defensive scheme that beat them and make a competitive effort at Oakland; or quit. My money is on the former.

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2011 2:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

FWIW: Anyone remember the last time the Broncos played the Lions? Cutler, Marshall, Travis Henry, coached by Shanahan. Before Tebow or even Coach McDaniels. 47 yards rushing for the Broncos in a 44-7 loss to a team that, like the Broncos, would finish the season 7-9.

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2011 3:17 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is a Tebow fan and hopes he succeeds. Elway was decidedly mediocre for four years before he really got a handle on reading defenses. So stipulated.

However, Tebow's inaccuracy is a real concern. He has to make 'em pay when they overload the box, and he has missed the targets thus far. The jury is out for now, but an inability to get first downs in Oakland will lead to a long day. Can the Broncos afford a multi-year project at QB? Orton is not the answer, and if Tebow cannot step up this franchise is looking at many bleak years.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 1, 2011 5:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In the 16 year career of John Elway Denver's Broncos had but two losing seasons. In the 23 years of Broncos history pre-Elway their record was over .500 just five times. In the 12 post Elway season the Broncos had a winning record for half of them, were 8-8 three times and below .500 three times. Elway was clearly a savior, but team performance without him is nothing like the bleakness seen before him.

Denver fans seem to feel "entitled" to playoff games and the occasional Super Bowl, yet conveniently forget that 30 of 32 teams don't go to the annual spectacle and most don't even make the playoffs.

Posted by: johngalt at November 3, 2011 4:31 PM

October 18, 2011


(adj.) 1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.

President Obama is on the campaign trail urging more government spending, in the name of fairness.

He also spoke at the dedication of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington D.C., where King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, claimed that her father "moved us beyond the dream of racial justice to the action and work of economic justice."

No, I do not believe he did. The man who dreamed of a day when all of us are judged not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character, would have cheapened the ideal of racial fairness by linking it with President Obama's ideal of economic fairness. What he and King's daughter speak of is a sort of economic affirmative-action program. Fairness in government spending must be "free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice" just as must be legal treatment by race.

Fairness in taxation must also be "free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice." Like 9-9-9. If any contemporary black man is following the teaching of the Rev. Martin Luther King it is not Barack Obama, but Herman Cain.

UPDATE: (19 OCT) I have amended my construction slightly to comport with my brethren's comments, calling out my uncertainty about Dr. King's ideas about the concept we call "fair" or "fairness" in the realm of economics. And this was my intended focus: Some see fairmess as "everyone pays the same tax" while others will not accede to this position until everyone has the same ability to pay that tax, i.e. equal distribution of wealth.

This leads me to what seems the winning tack in the pro-liberty argument: No man is more or less important, relevant or responsible for our civil prosperity than any other. Taxes must therefore be equal. (This is my ideal of egalitarianism.) But since equality does not, can not and will not exist in the human domains of effort, ability and aspiration, some men will produce more than others. This inequality is to be celebrated, for the alternative is anti-prosperity.

But since the self-made man recognizes the benefit he derives from a more prosperous society he may accede to paying a higher tax than his less able neighbors. A natural mechanism for this is taxation as a non-variable percentage of income, or spending, or both. But this imposition of a greater burden upon oneself is voluntary. It is a grant that may be revoked, in spirit and deed if not in law, when the self-made man sees the fruits of his labor being wasted - such as to line the pockets of looters and grafters and influence peddling politicians, lobbyists and crony capitalists. He may declare that he is Taxed Enough Already and engage in civil rebellion of various sorts.

Herein lies the beauty of the 9-9-9 tax plan. It is a non-variable rate of taxation proportional to prosperity. It taxes income and consumption equally, such that neither is disadvantaged versus the other. It is a progressive tax, since those who earn more and spend more are taxed more. But for the man who knows a beggared neighbor is a liability rather than an asset, an unequal tax burden such as this becomes not only fair, but desirable. For those who are comforted by such things, let us call it a "compromise." But, most importantly of all, it is a tax in which all citizens participate and do so on a par with the greatest and least accomplished amongst us. Tolerance of government waste will diminish, while lines of class and station will be obliterated. America's prosperity will be shared, and it will be bountiful.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Like. But I must mention Thomas Woods's "33 Questions about American History You’re not supposed to ask." This superb book challenged conventional wisdom and revisionist history. Almost all of the 33 whacks were landed hard against the left, but his most serious suggestion for the right was to accept that Dr. King was pretty much a communist.

Conservatives, claim Woods, love to extrapolate meritocracy from the "content of our character" line but many of King's writings called openly and forcefully for redistribution.

I cannot say he is right. But I have made the claim many times myself and am getting a bit leery...

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2011 3:41 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

As I understand, Dr. King was very much a socialist in his younger years. However, after seeing socialism in action in Cuba, he became disillusioned with it and was moving more politically to the right as he grew older. Even so, he was decidedly left-of-center economically.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 18, 2011 4:42 PM

October 14, 2011

Someone put the snack in the refrigerator!

Taranto links to a NYTimes piece on the great chow available for the dirty hippies anti-property-rights protesters of #occupywallstreet. Being Taranto, he jokes that our First Lady may disapprove of the man who gained five pounds since he arrived.

Following the link, I noted that food for the gallant 99% just shows up:

Tom Hintze, 24, was volunteering in Zuccotti Park last week. "Just now there was a big UPS delivery," he said. "We don’t know where it comes from. It just appears, and we eat it."

It put me in mind of my favorite part of one of my favorite recent books: David Mamet's "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture." He tells of a time that his daughter had befriended a young heiress her age, and she was visiting:
The two were discussing their various bedtimes. And the heiress said that every evening, at ten o'clock, she went to the small refrigerator in her room, and took out her usual snack: fresh berries and organic yogurt dripped with honey.

My daughter asked, "Who puts it there?" The heiress paused for a while and said "...I don't know."

Mamet comes back a couple times and says "Who puts the snack in the refrigerator? Someone does."

Perhaps the best part is the credulity of the young lady who has never thought of this question before. Who puts the snack in the refrigerator?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Isn't this one of the things for which Elizabeth Warren took credit? "Nobody gets to be an heiress on her own. She eats the honey-dripped organic yogurt that the rest of us prepared for her and delivered to her boudoire."

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2011 10:06 PM

Job Creators Alliance

My first impression of it was a "Creators Union." A collection of free-market capitalism's best informed businessmen and women speaking out against government interference with the American dream. I heard founder Bernie Marcus talk about it during a teleconference interview with Rusty Humphries of theteaparty.net yesterday. He espoused views of competition and creation that would make Ayn Rand proud. And with this effort he's standing up for his values as Rand insisted that businessmen must do, or perish.

JCA acts as a public advocate agressively making public appearances and interviews to evangelize the free market private sector's role in creating wealth, prosperity and jobs. Marcus' recent interview in IBD is a good example.

Are they making a difference? Perhaps I was too sanguine in a comment last October when I said, "Capitalism is becoming 'cool'". The nationwide "Occupy" protests underway might contradict my optimism. But an equally likely verdict is that the "we want our fair share" crowd is playing to an empty theater. Despite media attempts to portray it as "a pretty massive protest movement" that "could well turn out to be the protest of this current era" (- That NBC lead anchor guy with the crooked nose, Brian Williams I believe) there really aren't very many people involved. Compared to the TEA Party demonstrations of 2009 and 2010 the self-proclaimed "ninety nine percent" are a mockery.

President Obama is quick to make villains of anyone who earns "too much" money. Job Creators Alliance is a long overdue voice that counters, "Hey, wait just a minute."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:56 AM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks: