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.

warning_conservative.jpg

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 Galts 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 thats 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 arms length. Individualists, yes, but ones who have fun in one anothers company, care about one another, and care for one anothernot 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

Truth

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

Cap!

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:

Huzzah!

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."

UPDATE:

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...

francis_warren_saunders.jpg

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 dont 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 youre 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."

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/envy-hatred_of_the_good_for_being_the_good.html

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. Americas "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 libert 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" 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" 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:

Word.

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

Educable!

AEI

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:

Middle-of-the-roader.

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.


Amen.

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 theyre 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!"

Ahem.

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 GLAADs 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 somehowwell.pick one. Racist, homophobic, pro-war, greedy, sexist and on and on and onyada 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
JONATHAN NEUMANN

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

Cracked.com

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

ISSpoll120413_gif.gif

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.


Amen.

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 dont like the medicine-mans magical pretensions nor the Bourbons Divine Right. This is not solely because I disbelieve in magic and in Bossuets 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

Saganism

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:

CASSINI-EARTH-580.gif

...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 mans life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive workpride 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.

Badonkadonk.

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 individuals 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 mans 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 mans 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 individuals reason is impotent, and that ones 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"

Unbelievable.

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

Heh:

tweet130306.gif

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:

airfares1-600x446.jpg

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:

6flags.gif

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 socialistsi.e., Im 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 thats 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 isnt about literature. Its 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.

IMAGINE IF WE COULD TAP INTO THE PART OF THE BRAIN THAT MAKES US ALTRUISTIC AND COMPASSIONATE

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?
Microphones?
Eyeglasses?
Facebook?

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:

http://is.gd/QRvE0J

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 wouldnt show that they were somehow natural (again, in the relevant sense) but on the contrary indicate instead how deeply distorted and unnatural the squirrels character had become -- like a hose thats 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)

KATE MIDDLETON'S BREASTS

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 dont like it, dont 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 countrys skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work. (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4th anniversary, and Im commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, Ill vote for you in November.

(...)

Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillersthey 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

RAHQOTD

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 doesnt give us anything like the single magic bullet approach to politics that the thesis of self-ownership seemed to provide. But if theres one thing any conservative should know, its 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?

Californias 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. Its 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 Australias 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 Capitas 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 nations 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 weve 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:

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2012 4:32 PM

July 30, 2012

IOC BS Flag

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

Brilliant!

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

Independence

"...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.

Hat-tip @jamestaranto, who adds: "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! "

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 dont have freedom of choice. That lack of freedom keeps us down and perpetuates poverty.

We arent 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

Heh.

"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

HOSS ALERT!

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:

SMACK! ;)

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?

[ EMBED REMOVED FOR NOT PLAYING NICE (STARTING WITHOUT REQUEST) CLICK THE LINK TO VIEW]

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."

A-freakin'-men!

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

APPROVED

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like.

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)

BOYCOTT!

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 Obamas signature legislation wouldnt 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.

Amen.

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)

HOSS

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.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0671721577/wegrokitcomshein

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.

Fascinating.

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 Disraelis 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:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/193637/conservative-lit-101/john-j-miller

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."


AMEN! LET'S EAT!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Like."

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:

Uhhh......

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

Fair

(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 dont 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:

Another problem for the crowd from Oz Occupying XYZ is the apologizer-in-chief has run on (therefore, away with) all the good lines.

My first choice to be slain with a splintery stake is "fairness." Who remembers this?

Gibson: So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
Obama: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.


Posted by: nanobrewer at October 15, 2011 1:52 AM

October 12, 2011

Quote of the Day

Free societies have always been societies in which the belief in individual responsibility has been strong. They have allowed individuals to act on their knowledge and beliefs and have treated the results achieved as due to them. The aim was to make it worth while for people to act rationally and reasonably and to persuade them that what they would achieve depended chiefly on them. This last belief is undoubtedly not entirely correct, but it certainly had a wonderful effect in developing both initiative and circumspection. -- FA Hayek
Hat-tip -- well, completely lifted from -- Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek
Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

October 5, 2011

All Hail Harsanyi

He's pretty good with an "Occupy Wall Street: a Manifesto."

First, we are imbued with as many inalienable rights as a few thousand college kids and a gaggle of borderline celebrities can concoct, among them a guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment and immediate across-the-board debt forgiveness--even if that debt was acquired taking on a mortgage with a 4.1 percent interest rate and no money down, which, we admit, is a pretty sweet deal in historical context...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2011

Good Answer

My Facebook friends keep posting the "super brilliant" Elizabeth Warren video, and I still lack the courage to post my favorite parody. But Robert Murphy at the Mises Institute provides a strong and short rebuttal on both practical and philosophical grounds.

Regarding skilled workers, here too the factory owner already pays for it: we call these payments "wages" or "salaries." If someone goes to the University of California at Berkeley and becomes an excellent engineer, who is able to deliver an extra $150,000 in revenues to a factory owner, then with competitive labor markets we'd expect the engineer to earn close to $150,000.

This analysis doesn't mean that business owners are indifferent to educational quality, but it does show that things aren't quite as obvious as Warren makes them out to be. If students at state schools are receiving subsidized education that raises their productivity, the primary beneficiaries are the students themselves. So Warren should be asking them to cough up more money, not the employers who have to pay full freight for their services.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, this is a good rebuttal, and it might actually convince some people who know how to read. But for the Facebook crowd we need something more multimedia rich. Like Lady Gaga singing and dancing, alternately, in a Detroit city in her heyday and in a gloriously lush Amazon rainforest - both at night. (But no fair airbrushing the mud off of her pumps.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2011 3:31 PM
But Terri thinks:

Here is an elevator rebuttal from House of Eratosthenes.

"Let me state it much more concisely: You do not get to tell a business “hey, I used a hand truck to haul that copier paper to your office two weeks ago and I can’t pay my cable bill — you need to pay more.” If it worked that way, a) it wouldn’t be capitalism and b) it wouldn’t work for long. So there’s your other social contract, Greg and Elizabeth: Everyone needs to take responsibility in order to participate. Anyone who doesn’t, is part of the problem and not part of the solution."

http://www.peekinthewell.net/blog/yet-more-arguing-about-elizabeth-warren-and-i-say-good/#comments

Posted by: Terri at October 7, 2011 5:07 PM

October 1, 2011

Had I Any Courage Whatsoever,

I would put this up on Facebook. But I can't. I will make certain that y'all saw it, and keep it where I can find it when needed. LOL:

Stolen from an Insty FB Friend

Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2011

Russ Roberts Hears my Plea

The GMU professor, Cafe Hayek blogger, and author of "The Price of Everything" which is the perfect sticking-stuffer for your moonbat friends, takes to the WSJ Ed Page today to rebut Elizabeth Warren's viral progressive sensation comments. (Bonus points for diagramming that sentence in four-dimensional spacetime).

Russ Roberts suggests that if government kept to the activities applauded in her diatribe, most citizens would join her in happily paying taxes.

If the feds stopped all that, Ms. Warren would have a stronger point. We could all feel some gratitude for government's role in helping us live better lives. All of us, rich and poor, would look at government differently.

In a short column, Roberts nails the practical arguments: consent of the governed, local vs. federal, &c. He also makes some good philosophical arguments.
The other part that's missing from Ms. Warren's narrative is that all Americans, rich and poor, benefit from the public spending she mentions. It isn't just Steve Jobs who benefits because Apple iPads come to the Apple Store on public roads. All of Apple's customers benefit too. If her argument is that taxes should be related to benefit, should we raise taxes on the poor and the middle class? Sergey Brin and Larry Page became billionaires by creating Google, but the gains to the rest of us are much larger. Messrs. Brin and Page aren't able to capture anything close to the benefits they've created for the rest of society. So should the rest of us pay a bigger share of the taxes than Google's founders?

Ms. Warren is certainly correct that some rich people aren't carrying their weight--those who live off the rest of us by twisting the rules of the game in their direction: the sugar farmers who benefit from sugar quotas, the corn farmers who benefit from ethanol subsidies and those sugar quotas, and especially the Wall Street executives who have managed to convince both parties that the survival of their firms, even when they make disastrous loans to each other, benefits the rest of us.

But raising taxes on the rich is the wrong way to fix this problem.


Excellent! It chaps my hide that I have to hat-tip somebody for a Russ Roberts piece in the Wall Street Journal -- talk about home turf! But blog friend EE mailed me a link that I saw before I read it. Just doesn't seem fair somehow...

UPDATE: But it did come with a free link for seven days for non-subscribers.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2011

This. Shall. Not. Stand.

Campus Thought Free Zones on the rise:

On September 12, 2011, Professor Miller posted on his office door an image of Nathan Fillion in Firefly and a line from an episode: "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." On September 16, UWS Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter emailed Miller, notifying him that she had removed the poster and that "it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing."

Amazed that UWS could be so shockingly heavy-handed, Miller replied by email, "Respect liberty and respect my first amendment rights." Walter responded that "the poster can be interpreted as a threat by others and/or could cause those that view it to believe that you are willing/able to carry out actions similar to what is listed." Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges: "If you choose to repost the article or something similar to it, it will be removed and you could face charges of disorderly conduct."

Later on September 16, Miller placed a new poster on his office door in response to Walter's censorship. The poster read "Warning: Fascism" and included a cartoon image of a silhouetted police officer striking a civilian. The poster mocked, "Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets."


First they came for the Buffy viewers...

Hat-tip: @adamsbaldwin

Heh-tip: Insty beats me on the headline: "IN WISCONSIN, ITS BROWNSHIRTS VS. BROWNCOATS"

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Good story, and a likely source in @adamsbaldwin. You still following him? He retweets too much for me. I got tired of wading through his tweets to see anyone elses. He was my first "Unfollow" victim.

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2011 2:01 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

For Prof. Miller's next Firefly posters, may I suggest these:

"A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned." (Shepherd Book, War Stories)

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." (River Tam, Serenity movie)

"That's what governments are for... get in a man's way." (Mal Reynolds, Serenity pilot)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 26, 2011 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

2nd and 3rd of these are seared in my memory. Awesome stuff that, written by a lefty I'm told? Wheedon?

Quick, send it to Elizabeth Warren!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2011 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Good move, jg. I'm sure there will be no consequences for publicly "unfollowing" Jayne. "Did you hear something Dagny? A metallic click? Sounded like 'Gina...'"

Yup, ka, one of the sweet mysteries of life, that. Whedon wrote all those lines you artfully recall and then ran out to host a big John Kerry Fundraiser. Boggles the mind.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2011 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I need a few more letters in that hint: "'Gina...?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2011 3:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Hah! I was thinking in this crowd that that allusion would work: Gina is the name of Jayne's favorite gun. [Simon I believe] is disturbed that he names them, and in a later episode he says "even Gina wouldn't be able to pierce that."

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2011 3:24 PM

September 25, 2011

Trade, Hayek, Neanderthals, and the Cloud

Very very good Sunday read: Matt Ridley's From Phoenecia to Hayek to the 'Cloud'
Human progress has always depended on spontaneous collaboration to harness dispersed knowledge.

There was no sudden change in brain size 200,000 years ago. We Africans--all human beings are descended chiefly from people who lived exclusively in Africa until about 65,000 years ago--had slightly smaller brains than Neanderthals, yet once outside Africa we rapidly displaced them (bar acquiring 2.5% of our genes from them along the way).

And the reason we won the war against the Neanderthals, if war it was, is staring us in the face, though it remains almost completely unrecognized among anthropologists: We exchanged. At one site in the Caucasus there are Neanderthal and modern remains within a few miles of each other, both from around 30,000 years ago. The Neanderthal tools are all made from local materials. The moderns' tools are made from chert and jasper, some of which originated many miles away. That means trade.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2011

Pop Culture Attack

Comic book heroes inherit their wealth; supervillians earn it. What's up with that?

While the pattern in comics inverts the meritocratic ideal that seems to rule in most modern American fiction, it fits quite naturally with a pre-capitalist aristocratic ethos, which persisted at least through the early 20th century in the form of Old Money's contempt for the nouveau riche. Jane Jacobs, in her book Systems of Survival, contrasted this aristocratic view, which she dubbed the "Guardian" moral complex, with "bourgeois" or "mercantile" ethics. In this worldview, while wealth and the leisure time it affords may be necessary preconditions of cultivating certain noble qualities (whether that's appreciation of classical art and literature, or the martial, deductive, and scientific skills of a masked crimefighter), the grubby business of acquiring money is inherently corrupting. The ideal noble needs to have wealth, while being too refined to be much concerned with becoming wealthy. It's permissible for Stark and Kord to be largely responsible for the success of their companies because their contribution is essentially a side effect of their exercise of their intellectual virtues. Along similar lines, while the Fantastic Four have plainly become enormously wealthy from the income stream generated by Reed Richards' many patents, I don't recall many scenes in which we see Richards stepping out of the lab to apply his intelligence directly to their commercialization: His inventions are presumably sold or licensed to others who concern themselves with transforming Richards' genius into cash.

I confess I skipped over comic books, making me most unusual among the Buffy cognoscenti, Sci-Fi readers, and other phyla of geekdom. I'll leave it to others to establish veracity, but it strikes me as both true and insidious. Sort of a wicked plan to take over the world by degrading the rational faculties of America's youth...

Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis

Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2011

Elizabeth Warren Elevator Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumbaya!

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

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

Hat-tip Jonah

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

Awesome. I'm not worthy!

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

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

The two story rebuttal from Rich Lowry.

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

"Like!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 21, 2011

JG <3 Elizibeth Warren

At least she is honest about who she is and what she believes. I guess you don't have to hide your progressiove light under a bushel when you're running for the Senate in Massachusetts.

But I think I can suggest this is about as far away from ThreeSources theory as you can get:

In a video of a recent Warren appearance, posted online by an individual who says he or she is not affiliated with the campaign, Warren answered the charge. "I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,'" Warren said. "No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own -- nobody.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory -- and hire someone to protect against this -- because of the work the rest of us did.


Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | Comments (10)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, this JG does love Elizabeth Warren - for bringing this debate into the public square.

And I love Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois for the same reason since she said, "I'll put it this way, you don't deserve to keep all of it. It's not a question of deserving, because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together."

And Rep. Maxine Waters for saying, "The TEA Party can go straight to hell." I love it!

Government will not be restrained before a full and public debate on the role and responsibilities of government.

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2011 11:46 AM
But jk thinks:

That's why I put it up. While Rep. Schakowsky is just another big-city-district fringe House members (cf, Waters, Lee, and DeGette), I smell a rising star in Ms. Warren. She was designing the entire consumer banking sector for the Administration until Congress asserted a bit of its authority. She will be formidable in "the Commonwealth" and has instant intellectual credence on the left.

As we agree on the importance, I would love to see any "elevator talk" responses. I might lean on my respected Randians (whom I love to tweak with that non-standard identifier) because her philosophy so forcefully promotes the individual.

I feel it to he roots of my molars, but could not articulate a better response than my thought experiment of yank out Steve Jobs, and what is Apple?

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2011 12:22 PM
But dagny thinks:

Ok I'll give the elevator speech a stab based on what Rep Schakowsky says above.

If, "what we decide to do together," really means what the majority decides to do by force at the expense of the minority it is entirely immoral. Further it is antithetical to the founding principles of the U.S.A.

Posted by: dagny at September 22, 2011 3:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Allow me to begin in installments. Some distillation may be required to finish in a single elevator ride.

Ms. Warren asserts certain goods come from government: Roads, education, safety. Yet government is but a conduit for these things of value to human life. Whether facilitated by government or by commercial entity their creation is predicated on the value they give to human life.

The difference between government and private facility is the difference between "we" and "I." In a free society "I" am empowered to create as "I" choose, and "we" are free to assemble toward creative ends. But when such assembly becomes involuntary our society is no longer free. And when "we" confiscate from "I" a fundamental right is violated: The right to act on one's rational judgment in furtherance of his egoistic life.

Americans have a proud tradition of cooperative effort and readily commit a portion of their earnings to Ms. Schakowsky's "things we decide to to together" in various and sundry ways, including payment of taxes. But the indispensible word in that description is "decide" for a man without freedom of choice is little more than a slave. Let us aspire to a government of free men, cooperating and persuading, choosing and joining. Let us be ambitious and tolerant. Each of us for our own sake, let us not demand from each other anything which is unearned.

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2011 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Back-to-back comments giving the long and the short of the matter. :)

Let me put it differently:

Until past due bills are paid, I've decided I no longer choose to do things together with government. Government has shown it doesn't deserve my help.

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2011 3:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Nobody gets $192,722 on their own...

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2011 12:49 PM

Government Shoes, Inc.

Meant to link this this morning. Jonah is off-the-charts good today, riffing off Murray Rothbard:

"So identified has the State become in the public mind with the provision of these services," Rothbard laments, "that an attack on State financing appears to many people as an attack on the service itself." The libertarian who wants to get the government out of a certain business is "treated in the same way as he would be if the government had, for various reasons, been supplying shoes as a tax-financed monopoly from time immemorial."

If everyone had always gotten their shoes from the government, writes Rothbard, the proponent of shoe privatization would be greeted as a kind of lunatic. "How could you?" defenders of the status quo would squeal. "You are opposed to the public, and to poor people, wearing shoes! And who would supply shoes . . . if the government got out of the business? Tell us that! Be constructive! It's easy to be negative and smart-alecky about government; but tell us who would supply shoes? Which people? How many shoe stores would be available in each city and town? . . . What material would they use? . . . Suppose a poor person didn't have the money to buy a pair?"


I get this from my receptive-to-liberty-theory sister all the time. If the USDA did not inspect meat, or the city not inspect restaurant bathrooms, we'd all die in a week.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:56 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

One can easily envision the government shoe store having a sale on left boots due to surplus and being out-of-stock for right boots.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 22, 2011 3:53 PM

September 20, 2011

Magic

No, Mister Jilette does not perform. But I found his interview with Mick Gillespie to be 16 minutes of magical thought. The main premise is atheism, as he is hawking a book, but they cover God, Libertarianism, Ayn Rand, Hillary Clinton, and Warren Buffett as well. True intellectual exploration:


Posted by John Kranz at 3:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2011

What Motivates President Obama?

Hint: World Socialism.

Much of what Dick Morris says is interesting. Some of it, like this, is also important.

Posted in June, but played live on Mike Rosen's radio show today.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the segue. Morris is a bright guy but he always goes one step too far up the black helicopter ladder. I think ascribing motives is dicey business. My father warned me that "you can't look into a man's heart." (Followed by "get a haircut" as I recall, but it's kinda fuzzy...)

I'm a strange choice for the President's defender but I am as good as he's going to get around here. I looked at this headline today from the superb demographer Joel Kotkin:

Declining Birthrates, Expanded Bureaucracy: Is U.S. Going European?

I think that a lot of my lefty and moderate friends see that as feature, and that we see it as a bug. David Mamet's Rabbi asks that we be able to articulate our opponent's argument. Here goes: "I was just in <insert European country here> and it's fine. Lovely scenery, happy folks, <insert one or two items in which they're superior>. What is so bad about being Europe?"

Now I have some answers, but the Disneyland vacation destination that Americans see does not frighten them about Socialism. As Democratic politicians improve, that is the argument we'll be having. Just another European nation is fine for the Obamas and a big step up for a Thomas Friedman or Paul Krugman. No hidden agenda, just a lack of American Exceptionalism.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2011 6:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To summarize: It's dicey to conclude (at present) that Obama wants America to join the One World Socialist Government, but when Democrat politicians improve their messaging that is precisely what they'll advocate.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2011 7:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Another "mixed" economy -- I think the suggestion that Ireland and Canada are in collusion for a world Marxist order is overwrought.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2011 9:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think Morris' point is that, like a lot of your lefty and moderate friends, President Obama sees Euro-socialism as something to aspire to as well. After all, "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." When the World Socialists saw capital flight from socialist France it's doubtful their conclusion was, "Gosh, if we could only establish a socialist system in Ireland and Canada the entire world would follow." Having a man like Barack Obama in the White House must have been beyond their wildest dreams thirty years ago.

But particularly in the wake of NY9 it appears that America is inherently different. The socialists may call it "selfish" or "greedy" when individuals protect their wealth from a socialist government, but those who dare make a claim on the productive gain of others are the truly selfish ones.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2011 11:26 AM

September 15, 2011

Hayek Vs. Keynes

It's got less beat than Russ Roberts's opus, but Professor Mankiw links to a discussion of more personal aspects of the two Economic heavyweights.

UPDATE: Wow. The Internet Segue Machine is set to 11 today. "Hayek is Overtaking Keynes."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

It seems the statists can find justification for their mischief in the last part of the last line of the second Hayek excerpt from the UPDATE link:

The problem is precisely how to extend the span of our utilization of resources beyond the span of the control of any one mind; and therefore, how to dispense with the need of conscious control, [so far, so good] and how to provide inducements which will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do.
Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2011 11:21 PM

September 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

I'm finally reading John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government." I have enjoyed his quotations and paraphrases and others' descriptions, but must admit this the first time I have read him natively. It's quite enjoyable. I had the same experience with Michael Oakeshott, only to find his prose too turgid to navigate. But Locke is fun. I actually laughed out loud (that's LOL to you kiddies) to this bit:

if God made all mankind slaves to Adam and his heirs by giving Adam dominion over every living thing that moveth on the earth, ch. i. 28. as our author would have it, methinks Sir Robert should have carried his monarchical power one step higher, and satisfied the world, that princes might eat their subjects too, since God gave as full power to Noah and his heirs, ch. ix. 2. to eat every living thing that moveth, as he did to Adam to have dominion over them, the Hebrew words in both places being the same.

Awesome.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

A fellow at last Friday's pistol shoot wore a T-shirt with the slogan, "All God's creatures look best next to the mashed potatoes." While I favor it's omnivorous message I was still tempted to ask, "Are you not one of God's creatures?" [Here being another example of the advantage of non-belief as my personal answer is, "No."]

But to the point of the post, Sir Robert's companion T-shirt might read, "All God's creatures moveth under dominion of Robert, son of Adam." While your friendly neighborhood irreligionist would say Adam, and all men who supposedly descended from him, are therefore self-sovereign and not "creatures of God."

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2011 11:12 AM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps he was descended from Noah. Did he have a nautical air about him?

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2011 11:42 AM

August 18, 2011

As in Britain, as in Dubuque.

At least the good folks of Dubuque will not be disarmed, thanks to the Second Amendment.

But, just like old blighty, it sucks to know you're funding the local criminal element. James Bovard has a WSJ Editorial today on "HUD Section 8 housing." The law gives public housing recipients vouchers, recognizing that the concentration of lower income people in dense housing projects concentrated crime. As the President told Plumber Joe, better when we spread it around:

Dubuque, Iowa, is struggling with an influx of Section 8 recipients from Chicago housing projects. Section 8 concentrations account for 11 of 13 local violent crime hot spots, according to a study by the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies. Though Section 8 residents account for only 5% of the local population, a 2010 report released by the city government found that more than 20% of arrestees resided at Section 8 addresses.

I'd let it slide as a sad but acceptable by-product of misguided gub'mint charity. Until I read
HUD now picks up the rent for more than two million households nationwide; tenants pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities while the feds pay the rest. Section 8 recipients receive monthly rental subsidies of up to $2,851 in the Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., area, $2,764 in Honolulu and $2,582 in Columbia, Md.

T-t-t-t-t-t-two thousand, eight hundred? I have lived in flyover country too long, but that seems like quite a subsidy.

Whatever the price, there is no accountability. "Earlier this year, [HUD] decreed that Section 8 tenants (as well as other renters) who are evicted because of domestic violence incidents may sue for discrimination under the Fair Housing Act because women are 'the overwhelming majority of domestic violence victims.' In essence, this gives troublesome tenants a federal trump card to play against landlords who seek to preserve the peace and protect other renters."

Your neighborhood goes to hell, you're paying for it, and if you complain you or your town are more likely to face legal problems than the trouble makers. All they need are hoodies and a British accent.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | Comments (0)

Better Learn to Speak Greek.

Awesome piece by Bruce Thornton at Hoover Institution on the dangers of direct democracy and parallels to failed democracy in Greece. Not like last week, but farther back:

In the next few years our country will be a sort of laboratory in which these old ideas about the dangers of democracy will be put to the test. Particularly worrisome is the increasing inclination to see the state not as an object of collective affection, duty, and loyalty in which individuals find some measure of their identities and meaning, but rather as a mere dispenser of entitlements that each faction tries to control for its own benefit. This weakness of democracy was apparent at its birth in ancient Athens. By the middle of the 4th Century B.C., an Athenian citizen could expect some form of state pay practically every day of the year, such as a stipend for attending the Assembly, serving on a jury, or attending a festival. Meanwhile, the citizen's responsibility to manage the state and its military was given over to professional generals and politicians.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:57 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Greece had no TEA Party.

Greece had no prior example to caution them. We have Greece. Ironically, Greece doesn't remember her own history.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 3:29 PM

August 17, 2011

Hey Good Lookin' What's your PQ?

UCLA's token conservative PoliSci professor Tim GroseClose has a new book out which examines, using objective measures, how a leftist press has distorted the political views of the American body politic. Called 'Left Turn' it includes a do-it-yourself version of the Political Quotient or PQ test they used to rank individual politicians. A PQ of 100 is completely "left" and 0 is completely "right." I'll caution that the 40-question quiz is time consuming.

Here's your PQ: 7.7

Politicians with similar PQs are:

James DeMint (R-S.C. 1999-2009) PQ=5.1
Newt Gingrich (R-Ga., 1979-94) PQ=11.4
Richard Nixon (R-Calif., 1947-52) PQ=12.5
Lindsay Graham (R-S.C., 1995-2009) PQ=14.9
John McCain (R-Az., 1983-2006, 2009) PQ=15.8
Joe Scarborough (R-Fla., 1995-2000) PQ=16.4

Maybe this makes me "O double seven."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:54 PM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Completed the survey clicking "I can't decide" on everything:

Here’s your PQ: 47.8

Politicians with similar PQs are:

Sam Nunn (D-Ga., 1973-96) PQ=39.5
Susan Collins (R-Maine, 1997-2009) PQ=44.2
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine, 1979-2009) PQ=47.9
Arlen Specter (R-Penn., 1981-2008) PQ=50.6
Ben Nelson (D-Neb., 2001-09) PQ=55.6

(Those clowns certainly haven't earned their congressional pensions.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2011 6:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe we should do it over Skype(r) -- it would be a blast. I think you can easily tell because the application helpfully puts the troglodyte, wingnut loser answer on the bottom. Every click north is the road to serfdom.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 6:26 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... clicking "I can't decide" on everything..."

Is that the same as "Voting Present," allowing a person who does this repeatedly to claim to be a mainstream moderate?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 17, 2011 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Sam Nunn was a great statesman and one of the last of the Democrats with integrity.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2011 7:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, assuming he never voted "present" four times out of ten Sam Nunn voted for the road to serfdom.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2011 1:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The few extended family members who took the quiz all scored more conservative than I did, making me the most liberal member of my family.

I blame Three Sources.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2011 1:16 AM

Seasteading

Maybe one reason I so enjoyed the movie "Pirate Radio" is a long fascination with Seasteading. Dan Mitchell at CATO discusses an effort by Peter Theil:

Advocates of limited government love to fantasize. But because we're strange people, we don't have ordinary fantasies about supermodels or playing pro baseball. We daydream about a libertarian nirvana, where the rights of individuals are protected, guided by a moral order based on freedom and responsibility, and the leviathan state is forever constrained.

Ayn Rand created a fictional version of this free society in Atlas Shrugged and called it Galt's Gulch. But some advocates of liberty want to turn fiction into reality.

Mitchell includes some serious warnings about escaping the IRS. But it remains an interesting idea.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

"There are people here with nothing," this rioter continued: nothing, that is, except an education that has cost $80,000, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, food in their stomachs, a cellphone, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, an electric stove, heating and lighting, hot and cold running water, a guaranteed income, free medical care, and all of the same for any of the children that they might care to propagate. -- Theodore Dalrymple
Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM | Comments (1)
But dagny thinks:

I highly recommend Mr. Dalrymple's book, "Life at the Bottom."

Posted by: dagny at August 15, 2011 6:42 PM

Sidewalk Art of the...Forever

Seen in New York City -- not near NYU, with its longstanding program in Austrian economics, but uptown near Columbia University, at 112th Street and Broadway -- a sidewalk portrait of F. A. Hayek -- David Boaz

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2011

Dan Mitchell on the Welfare State and UK Riots

I don't want to go all Murray Rothbard on y'all, but it amuses me to no end that the rioters in the UK and recently in Greece are called "anarchists" when in reality they are the expected product of the welfare state. "Amuse" is the wrong word: the dangerously thin veneer of civilization is a deep concern to me. Modernity, liberty, property rights and the division of labor are never adequately protected from Hobbesian Chaos.

Dan Mitchell of CATO expounds on the relation to usufruct as well as the danger of disarming the population.

But what's happening now is not just some left-wing punks engaging in political street theater. Instead, the UK is dealing with a bigger problem of societal decay caused in part by a government's failure to fulfill one of its few legitimate functions: protection of property.

To make matters worse, the political class has disarmed law-abiding people, thus exacerbating the risks. These two photos are a pretty good summary of what this means. On the left, we have Korean entrepreneurs using guns to defend themselves from murdering thugs during the 1992 LA riots. On the right, we have Turkish entrepreneurs reduced to using their fists (and some hidden knives, I hope) to protect themselves in London.

Which group do you think has a better chance of surviving when things spiral out of control?

There are good click-throughs both to a piece he excerpts and his previous remarks on earlier UK violence.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

My father pointed out to me yesterday that all of the things our goverment has made it illegal for us to do to each other, it does to us. It takes our money, it takes our property, it manufactures currency, and a hundred other things which it is supposedly the only entity with which they may be entrusted. In Britain we see what happens when protection of individual rights becomes a collective enterprise: Failure.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2011 3:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

They are not "anarchists."

They are actually the biggest proponents of government, and they all deserve to burn in this life and the next.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 10, 2011 11:43 PM

August 9, 2011

Humanism

Ronald Bailey is digging life at the Alberta Tar Sands:

Later, seven stories up, equipped with earplugs, and clad in bright blue overalls, I marveled at the cascades of black bitumen froth bubbling over the sides of a seperation cell like a giant witch's cauldron. The scale of the enterprise and the sheer ingenuity involved in wresting value and sustenance from the hands of a stingy Mother Nature provoked in me a feeling close to glory.

Yet as I stood at the edge of the mine, I understood that lots of people viewing the same sight would be horrified by it and outraged by my enthusiasm for it. They would, instead, see the pit as a deep wound in the earth, amounting almost to a desecration.

Can I explain myself to those who see mining oil sands as a moral offense? I plead humanism. Modern capitalism and the technology it engenders has lifted a significant proportion of humanity out of our natural state of abject poverty for the first time in history. Even now, depending on the cycles of nature to renew supplies of fuel (in the form of wood and manure) means poverty, disease, and early death for millions.

Ahhh, what's poverty, disease, and early death for millions compared to a big ugly hole in the ground?

Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2011

Who are the Poor?

More Keynesian Stimulus and the answer will, of course, be "all of us!"

But the lovely bride sends a link to an interesting column by a financial advisor. He references a few papers and sadly does not provide links. But he does provide a superb summary of America's Poor:

Rector summarizes the Census Bureau data this way: "Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs."

He adds, however, "Of course, the living conditions of the average poor American should not be taken as representing all the poor. There is actually a wide range in living conditions. While the majority of poor households do not experience significant material problems, roughly 30 percent do experience at least one problem, such as overcrowding, temporary hunger, or difficulty getting medical care."

When you compare our "poor" with the rest of the world, our systemic prosperity as a country becomes astounding. As just one example, the average living space per person in the U.S. is 721 square feet; per poor person, it is 439 square feet. Our poor have more floor space per person than the average person (not the average poor person) living anywhere in the world except Australia, Norway, and Canada.


In the midst of the debt-ceiling contretemps, a Facebook friend (our own LatteSipper as it happens) posts a link to a thinkprogress.org screed on $4Billion of deductions taken by oil companies "commenting on a system that is slanted to the rich and powerful" and laments that programs for the poor will be cut because they lack the representations of the oil corporations (with a bonus whack at Citizen's United v FEC.

Yeah, clearly what the poor require is more government help.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2011

Storytime

A benefit to having no children is escaping some of the very bad children's stories. Don't get me wrong, I love children's stories and from our bookshelves and video collection, one would assume we had seven or eight. But Professor Mankiw provides a link to the original Rainbow Fish. (Warning: it is really, really bad!)

But as Mankiw taketh away, Mankiw giveth: The American Rainbow Fish:

Awesome Awesome Awesome!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2011

Love That Internet Thingy!

Not many people will find Dr. Hoppe's remarks on ethics, epistemology, and praxeology interesting. But I bet most ThreeSourcers would:

Long but good.

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

July 13, 2011

More on Mamet's Conversion

John Stossel has a column today on "former brain dead liberal" David Mamet.

What changed?

"I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life. ... (O)ne started sending me books. His books ...made more sense than my books."

Great line. Of course, we've discussed Mamet on these pages before.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2011

Et Tu, Lancio?

I come to praise Lance Armstrong, not to bury him, for Lance is an honorable man...

[jk style rule #47: always try to say something nice about somebody before kneecapping them:] The Tour this year is missing Lance Armstrong. And I don't mean just a bunch of Jingoist Ugly 'Merkuns who won't watch if a US Citizen doesn't win (and it ain't looking good for that). Lance was a great "field general" who managed not only his team to perfection, but also crafted ad hoc alliances and impacted the entire peloton. Yes, the weather has been bad this year, but I think the alarming number of crashes and injuries are at partly because Armstrong's leadership is missing. There are several great riders to fill the athletic void, but none has the strategic sense or respect to deploy it. A lot of great riders but no Armstrong, Valverde, Indurain -- and it shows.

Another great thing about having Lance in the tour, is that it leaves him little time to write to the UN.

This September, world leaders are gathering at the UN for a historic summit on cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The agreement they reach--and how they put it into action back home--will mean life or death for millions of people.

I've just written an open letter to world leaders, calling on them to face up to the global cancer crisis and make NCDs a top health priority. I'm writing to ask you to add your name to this letter right now.

If we reach 100,000 signers before the summit, LIVESTRONG will hand-deliver this letter and your signature to the UN Secretary General and key Heads of State.


Holy, hand-breaded, deep-fried NED on a stick! The UN is going to cure Cancer now?

I "like" livestrong.org on Facebook so I get updates on Lance's advocacy. Most are great: supportive items, information sharing, &c. I bristle when he advocates for anti-smoking measures, but I see where he's coming from. But this is too far. O'Sullivan's First Law has been completely proven: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."

Lance, call your Texas buddy with the W in his name and ask him if this is a good idea.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2011

Facebook Meme

These moronic things propagate on Facebook. I pick my battles and challenge more than I should. This one bugs me, but I have too many teacher friends on FB, including much of my natural family and in-laws. So this will be a ThreeSources' only rant, play along if you'd like.

The original, appearing both as text and a handy profile picture from moveon.org (which I love because nobody can actually read that entire bit of nonsense stuffed into a 100 x 100 bitmap, white on black).

Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in taxpayer funded bail outs, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither... Pass it on.

I'll open the bidding with:

Remember when Google and Apple forced our children to attend dangerous and ineffective schools; threatened to jail us at the point of gun if we did not pay for their products whether we used them or not; and coerced us to guarantee their employees' retirement at 50 by indebting our grandchildren? Yeah, me neither... Pass it on.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Remember when people were happy with what they earned themselves and didn't demand more from someone else for free? Me neither (but I'm only 48.) Pass it on.

Posted by: johngalt at June 26, 2011 7:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I was going to proffer another entry thusly:

Remember when the Community Reinvestment Act threatened banks who refused to make subprime loans, resulting in trillions of dollars loaned to people who couldn't pay it back, causing dozens of leinholders to go bankrupt and devastate the housing and financial markets?

Then I discovered this nifty "ass cover" that has been knitted for the CRA over at Wikipedia.

After repeatedly asserting that "unregulated mortgage brokers were even worse" the entry concludes with the less than disinterested Franklin Raines telling Congress the CRA "might have been a catalyst encouraging bad behavior, but it was difficult to know."

That's not a very substantial defense for either the CRA or Fannie and Freddie.

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2011 2:21 PM

June 22, 2011

I Wish My Friends Sent Me Stuff Like This

The good folks at mises.org made some of the faithful queasy by linking to this. Without going onto too much detail, it is called "The Liberty Scam" and it is subtitled "Why even Robert Nozick, the philosophical father of libertarianism, gave up on the movement he inspired."

I enjoyed it kinda sorta in that I wish my friends would send me stuff like this (I made the same comment on Mises.org's Facebook post). It has idiotic bits, and it's built on a strawman (did I mention it ran in Slate?) but it contains some serious accusations of libertarianism.

If my friends did send me something so substantive, I could respond with two CATO scholars' responses to the same piece.

CATO Thing One

CATO Thing Two

If you have a spot of time, the three pieces make an inspiring bit of discussion.

No, my friends send me things on Sarah Palin and Robert Reich's "The Economy in 2:15." Sigh

UPDATE: Reason enumerates some factual errors:

UPDATE II: This is really generating quite a few responses. Of particular interest 'round here might be Libertarians Aren't All Selfish Jerks at Atlantic.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

From the Atlantic piece:

There are even some hard core Ayn Rand sycophants who embrace little more than themselves. Find that repugnant? Have at 'em! But you're just misinformed if you think that libertarians as a whole care for nothing more than their self-interest. Countless libertarians are working to advance the freedom and fair-treatment of people other than themselves.

Advocating for an end to government plunder is in more than just my self-interest, it is in everyone's.

Demanding the unearned from producers to give to those who could use it but didn't ask for it, only to have them become dependent on it - how does this "advance the freedom and fair-treatment" of anybody?

Posted by: johngalt at June 22, 2011 3:46 PM

June 18, 2011

Bryan Caplan, Call Your Office!

How are you ever going to elect rational people without rational voters?

The Media Research Council circulates a petition to outlaw ATMs.

We had a lot of people who thought it made sense to get rid of cash machines and for a variety of reasons.

Some didn't like the usage fees and concluded that the best way to get rid of the hassle was to get rid of ATMs altogether.

Others wanted to see America return to a simpler time when we all got our money from our friendly neighborhood banker who knew your name, smiled at you and gave little Billy a lollipop after which you could hop in your horse drawn carriage and return to your candle lit home.

One woman even said that ATM machines were bad for the environment.

Had we stood out there all day we could have undoubtedly gotten hundreds of signatures on our fake petitions.

Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

UPDATE: Don Boudreux pens an Open Letter to Barack Obama on this topic that's well worth a read.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2011 5:09 PM

June 17, 2011

Quote of the Day II

[And it's only 9:14 out in flyover country]

From the day when the first members of councils placed exterior authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized the decisions of men united in councils as more important and more sacred than reason and conscience; on that day began lies that caused the loss of millions of human beings and which continue their unhappy work to the present day. -- Leo Tolstoy

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2011

You Have to Want to Know

Well-read people probably heard of David Mamet long before I did as the creator of CBS television's The Unit. A tough and realistic portrayal of life as an Army Special Forces soldier, I was convinced that its message was created by a conservative mind "behind enemy lines" in Hollywood.

With little fanfare in 2008 an article he wrote was published in the Village Voice with the title "Why I am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." I don't believe I ever took the time to read the entire 3-page article when JK linked it, since it doesn't look familiar now, but the point is that he had a David Horowitz moment: He decided to stop swallowing the blue pill and became, philosophically, a free-market conservative and a warrior against anti-Americanism.

He is currently on a media tour to promote his new book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture." He was interviewed this week by 850KOA's Mike Rosen and had some choice things to say in the 34-minute segment [introduction begins at 3:50.]

"There's a great quote in the Talmud: 'Who doesn't teach his son a trade teaches him to become a highway robber.' And I realized that one of the great failures of my baby boomer generation was we aren't teaching our children a trade, we're struggling and lying and scheming and scrimping and saving to get them into colleges which teach them that America is no good and that they don't have to work for a living. And it is absolutely immoral."

(...)

We've lost the capacity ... to stop government and say, you know, that just doesn't work. So we're now at the point where we need a complete revision. And that revision is a reversion to the principles of the Constitution. Which is, take care of the roads and sewers, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, provide the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, and if you don't - guess what - I'm gonna vote you out and you can go back home."

Rosen brings the book Lost Horizon into the discussion, and Mamet draws analogy between the ruling "good people" on the mountain top in Shangri La who know better than everyone else and our liberal government overlords.

And the worst of it is they want to be shielded from intellectual discourse. That the liberal community which never heard of Thomas Sowell, let alone of Freidrich Hayek, wants to be, needs to be shielded from responding to the question, what exactly are your precepts, what are your principles, what's the historical record of playing out and how do you account for the difference between the two?"

(...)

Voltaire said Every man is satisfied with his wit; no man is satisfied with his fortune. There's no one in the world who wouldn't like to have more money, both the one who is living from hand to mouth and the multi-billionaire who is investing his money. We'd all like to have more money. There's only three ways to get money in a free society - one is to steal it, the other is to get lucky, and the third is to fulfill someone else's needs, which is the way most of us earn money.

And there's more, if you care to listen.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Good post, man! I started to listen but was called away. I will try to make it back later today. I loved the bit from his Rabbi about both sides' being able to express the other's case succinctly and fairly. That was rolling around my head all evening.

UPDATE: Rosen recommends Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" at 8:30 Woohoo!

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2011 11:04 AM

Quote of the Day

Dedicated to brother jg, a Taranto quote that isn't even humorous:

Still, there's a warning in all this: Hippy-dippy types are harmless enough in themselves, but their poorly developed critical thinking skills may leave them at increased risk of infection by the virus of hatred. -- James Taranto

Posted by John Kranz at 3:18 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I suppose James detects "hatred" in the anti-religion angle of the circumcision issue. Being non-Jewish (and non-Muslim and non-Christian) I see it as a health issue with a sprinkling of conformatism thrown in for warm fuzzies.

But contemplate the ironies: These "hippy-dippy types" who are pushing a new legislative restriction on making health choices for our babies are, without a modicum of doubt, from the same crowd that will fight to the death to keep abortion legal. "It's okay, ladies, we only mean to snip off the top of his small head."

And while women's groups complain that men should not be adjudicating regulations on abortion the chief opponents of what they've termed "male genital mutilation" seem to be primarily, female.

Posted by: johngalt at June 10, 2011 3:19 PM

June 5, 2011

Sunday Praxeology

Funny and informative whacks at engineers and economists from the Mises Institute:

Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Marketing pukes such as The Refugee find this stuff fascinating.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 6, 2011 5:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. You can take the boy out of Marketing, but...

It's a thin link to Austrian Economics, but I liked it quite a bit. I have long laughed at myself for being parsimonious with 30-cent coffee pods, yet driving to Starbucks and dropping $10 without a second thought.

Speaking of coffee -- new place in Old Town Erie: K2-Something-Something, in the same location as the old coffee shop across from the Post Office. Field trip?

Posted by: jk at June 6, 2011 6:30 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Count The Refugee in! Drove by recently and saw that it was open, so I'm on board. Perhaps a "Review Corner" can apply to coffee places as well.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 6, 2011 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Just this once...

Posted by: jk at June 7, 2011 11:02 AM

June 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

I think there's an important point in the comic value [of Weinergate]: The people who think they're smart enough, and morally superior enough, to run everyone else's lives are risible. They're not smart enough to run their own lives competently, and they're actually, overall, morally inferior -- I mean, John Edwards, DSK, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barney Frank, Tax Cheat Tim Geithner, just go down the list '' and mocking them is inherently valuable. They pursue power, and they exercise power, as much for deference as anything else. Deny them that, and make it painful for them whenever possible. That's my take. -- Glenn Reynolds
Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2011

Capitalism

Capitalism is everytime and everywhere the best opportunity to equalize income and social status.

Test the above where and among whom caste is most entrenched:

The plight of the Dalits, those whom the Hindu caste system considers outcastes and hence Untouchables, was a rallying cry of Hindu reformers and Indian leftists for half a century. But today these victims of the caste system are finding that free markets and development bring advancement faster than government programs.

Historically, Dalits were left to do the most undignified work in society, and were denied education or job opportunities. After independence, not only was legal recognition of caste abolished, but Delhi also created affirmative action and welfare programs. Intellectuals who fought for the betterment of Dalits worked together with leftists to pass laws righting historical wrongs.

That alliance is now breaking down. India's economic reforms have unleashed enormous opportunities to elevate Dalits--materially and socially. In research published last year, Devesh Kapur at the University of Pennsylvania and others show this transformation occurring in Uttar Pradesh state in the north, a region notorious for clinging to caste traditions.

Mr. Kapur found that Dalits now buy TVs, mobile phones and other goods very easily--at rates similar to any other caste; they have also been spending more money on family weddings. These factors and others point to practical benefits Untouchables receive from growth, the same benefits accruing to other Indians. There are more such cases in the south and west of the country.


If you've sufficient stature in the Rupert Caste system, read the entire, moving column.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Nope. Don't need to read any more. Simply replace "India" with "America" and "Dalits" with "blacks."

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2011 2:35 PM

May 18, 2011

Britain Imports the 17th Amendment

The toughest sell in the liberty handbook is "Tyranny of the Majority." Majority rule, democracy, self-determination, one-man-one-vote, apple-pie, motherhood... You're against ALL of these?

I dreamed the classic liberal pipe dream of repealing the 17th Amendment until the Ken Buck campaign for Senate in 2010. Buck had made a casual comment once, speaking to the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. It was (sadly) not in any way part of his platform or stump speeches. Yet the attacks came faster and furiouser than bad action movies: "Buck wants to rewrite the Constitution!" "Take away YOUR right to vote!" "Kick Puppies!" You get the idea.

Reading Eric Posner's "The Executive Unbound," he and co-author Adrian Vermeule lament the "plebiscitary Constitution" yet maddeningly fail to fault the 17th Amendment's part in this ignominious trend. Gene Healy does a far better job in "The Cult of the Presidency." If you start with a bent against it as I did, Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" shows how the changes in the Senate under Lyndon Johnson were enabled by Senators' requiring support in popular elections. As a bonus, Caro describes how Tailgunner Joe McCarthy threatened those who would moderate his attacks with electoral opposition.

But this idea remains a hard sell, perhaps because it is so easy to demagogue. The UK House of Lords is flirting with it:

The current system, in which the government appoints peers for life more or less at whim, has seen the chamber grow to more than 800 members. It has become a vehicle for political patronage and favors.

That system is surely unsustainable, which is perhaps why Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg--fresh from the beatings he's taken in local elections and this month's referendum on the alternative-vote system--now proposes elections for the Lords in 2015, at the next election. But while the idea may offer political opportunities for the LibDems, it's bad for Britain and could well become the occasion of a constitutional crisis.

The current House of Lords shares one great virtue with the hereditary system it replaced--the very arbitrariness of the upper house's membership means that it is no threat to the House of Commons. Likewise, appointed peers lack any mandate to do more than advise and delay. Their very weakness gives them a clearly defined, and clearly limited, role in the governance of the country.

Elected Lords would suffer no such democratic deficit. Indeed, if the votaries of proportional representation are to be believed, a House of Lords elected by proportional representation would have more democratic legitimacy than the first-past-the-post members of the Commons


No, guv, don't!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

One need not mention the 17th Amendment to draw charges of "denial of franchise" from the Proletariat. Just try to implement any measure to dissuade voter fraud and you'll get the same response.

"President Obama was swept into office with overwhelming support from newly registered voters, minority voters and youth voters. I suppose it's not a surprise, then, that heading into the 2012 election, these are the groups who will be most affected by these restrictions."

But even the 17th Amendment effort isn't what defeated Buck. It was his absolutist opposition to abortion that the didn't-really-need-to-be-very-clever Michael Bennet hammered the airwaves with on election eve.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2011 4:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Let us admit that our beloved candidate had a couple of problems...

But the ferocity with which a casual, dated, and inconsequential remark was attacked is a lesson I will internalize. A serious expression of this belief would require a rigorous and serious defense. I think it would make legalizing heroin look like an easy sell.

I sometimes forget the world is not ThreeSources.

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2011 4:31 PM

May 12, 2011

Lysander Spooner, Call Your Office!

Hard Cases Make Bad Law? Bad Cases Make Hard Law? How's it go again?

Snyder v. Phelps proves our devotion to free speech. We let those execrable cretins protest at the funerals of our nation's greatest heroes. I'm pretty proud to live in such a country.

Therefore, I will not wither from standing up for efficient markets, even when it benefits big, fat, greedy, Sri Lankans with swarthy complexions and polysyllabic names. Raj Rajaratnam is few people's idea of a boy scout. And, as a believer in voluntary law enforcement, I'm sympathetic to the suggestion that he should have followed a stupid law. Just because.

But capital markets are more than pari-mutuel windows for investors; it is far more important that they get capital to its best use. And that means accepting all price signals -- even those not from squeaky clean sources.

Like many of his peers, Mr. Rajaratnam formed close relationships with a web of people who worked at America's most storied companies, from McKinsey to IBM. That isn't a crime. Markets rely on information to determine the appropriate price for stocks and securities. If anything, regulators have tried to impose an impossible standard that all investors, big and small, should have access to the same information at exactly the same time. See the SEC's Reg FD.

Joe DiGenova, Former U.S. Attorney, was on Kudlow last night asserting that Rajaratnam had personally stolen from him. Apparently, he was on E-Trade selling the same stocks and the Hedge Fund manager's inside dope gave him a leg up.

I say it's time we end this "we're all created equal" idea of trading. You're gonna go one-on-one with a hedge fund manager, I don't care if it's St. Paul (read prospectus carefully before investing...) you're going to get your ass kicked. I don't see that a facade of fairness does anybody any good.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2011

Otequay of the Ayday

So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand. -Thucydides
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2011

Fukayama Reviews Hayek

He understands Constitution of Liberty about as well as Stephen Colbert undertstands Atlas Shrugged.

The publication of the definitive edition of Friedrich A. Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" coincides with the unexpected best-seller status of his earlier book "The Road to Serfdom" as a result of its promotion by the conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck. In an age when many on the right are worried that the Obama administration's reform of health care is leading us toward socialism, Hayek's warnings from the mid-20th century about society's slide toward despotism, and his principled defense of a minimal state, have found strong political resonance.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I frequently conflate Francis Fukuyama with George Santayana. This is unfair to Santayana. To cure the damage this mental association does to the reputation of Santayana, an American philosopher (1863-1952) I read more Santayana whenever I hear Fukuyama's name.

I first heard of Santayana with his quote, "Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness."

Here are more. And an apt one:

All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.
Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2011 3:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fukuyama cites an incorrect logical argument opposing Hayek and, as is most often the case, the fatal flaw comes right at the start:

But as the economist Amartya Sen has argued, the ability to actually take advantage of freedom depends on other things like resources, health and education that many people in a typical society do not possess.

With whatever respect may or may not be due, freedom is the absence of interference by others, not a provision of means. Robert A. Heinlein explained that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but so too can be an unimproved planet Earth. For what do you advocate Mister Fukuyama, a universal freedom to inherit Homer Stryker's fortune? I doubt you'd get agreement from Patricia Stryker.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2011 5:01 PM

May 3, 2011

Magister Dixit

This Internet thingy might really take off. I had seen a few short clips of Hayek, but was not aware there was an interview of this length or general discourse. Awesome!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2011

Degrees of Selfishness

Another rich, white, male, "gay-hater" says capitalism is better than socialism:

Yet, while [entitlements are] producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.

They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen.

But does that make him wrong?

And I love his close: "Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder."

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Of course he's not wrong. I agree with a lot of Mr. Prager's opinions. I used to enjoy his column in JWF -- those were the days!

Likewise, I loved Michelle Malkin, read a couple of Ann Coulter's early books. A short time ago, Brother br quoted Bernie Goldberg. Goldberg wrote two incredibly powerful and important books on media: "Bias" and "Arrogance."

Then he wrote "The 100 Worst People in the World." I bet that was cathartic and I have no doubt that he was hurt by the bridges he burned writing his serous media critiques.

But I find Prager, Coulter, Malkin and Goldberg to be of little worth in any serious advocacy. Like the swiftboaters, you bring up a substantive comment or opinion and immediately have to defend the speaker's most outlandish statements.

I don't know if that is fair but I know it to be real. I don't mind defending the most outlandish statements of Milton Friedman, FA Hayek, or Ludwig von Mises.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2011 11:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that was my point: "But does that make him wrong?" In other words, do you have any rebuttal aside from ad hominem?

One need not defend every statement a man makes in order to defend one such statement.

Peace on.

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2011 1:31 AM

April 27, 2011

On Giving Back

John Stossel strikes a resonant ThreeSources chord today. What's up with "giving back?" He quotes an awesome letter from Don Boudreaux:

Dear Ritz-Carlton:

Thanks for your e-mail celebrating your and your employees' participation in "Give Back Getaways" -- activities in which you and your employees (along with some of your customers) "give back to the community."

Have you taken something that doesn't belong to you? If so, by all means give it back!...If, though, you've not taken anything that doesn't belong to you, you possess nothing that you can give BACK.


Sadly, Mister Stossel's excellent TV show might fall to domestic budget cuts. FOX Business network requires the next programming level, and it occurs that his is the only show we watch in the extended package. Great show -- $4.50 apiece? I dunno.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

News flash - I saw Stossel aired on FNC during a weekend segment. Perhaps he'll get promoted to the flagship channel soon!

Posted by: johngalt at April 27, 2011 3:21 PM

April 21, 2011

Online Education Rocks!

This time, in history and literature.

First JK brought us the Khan Academy for math and science.

My contribution in kind is Shmoop University.

No one will be surprised that I found these guys by searching for something relevant to Atlas Shrugged.

In the brief time I've spent perusing the voluminous content they offer on this controversial and revolutionary novel I have been greatly impressed. The treatment is honest, accurate and thorough. I hope to use it to help explain some of the book's themes to others. (And to refer to other literary titles and, when time permits, move on to history topics.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

Anti Dog-eat-Dog Act

With all respect to my blog brother, I am starting to believe it is Ayn Rand's world, and we're just living in it. Mankiw embeds this:

And, I was going to write something on this, but Ed Morrissey beat me to it:

So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn't have "strikes happening every three to four years." The union has shut down Boeing's commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.

This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing's plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.

The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing's South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of "anti-union animus," says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of "discouraging membership in a labor organization" and thus violates federal law.


Ah, that must be the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Law, or one of the Fairness Laws, or something, right? The WSJ isn't sure what law the NLRB is talking about, either. Not only do businesses routinely relocate to find the most advantageous environment possible, states and cities compete for that business by calculating their business climate. If this has escaped the notice of the NLRB, perhaps they should get out more.

UPDATE: Claire Berlinski adds "This could well be the most outrageous insult yet to the free market economy"
Remember those two recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board? The guys making these decisions about the commanding heights of the American economy have never even been confirmed by the Senate.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yeah, sure. Just go ahead and make references to Ayn Rand and her novel 'Atlas Shrugged' to explain every instance of economic market distortion and political influence peddling you find in your daily newspaper. As if some dusty old novel written 50-plus years ago is some magical crystal ball that can explain the cause for ALL of them! As if.

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 3:19 PM

April 16, 2011

Going Galt - The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Robert Tracinski is one of the best Objectivist writers on the scene so I was very interested when I recieved this 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' movie review from him in my inbox. In short, he is glad the film was made but thought it should have been of higher quality.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes--but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.
But Tracinski does not suggest that all of the story's spirit has been lost.
This same combination--vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"--might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

The movie's greatest signifance, according to Tracinski, is its relationship with the TEA Party.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel. [emphasis mine]

[For the hopelessly obsessed, such as myself, I've posted the entire article including original hyperlinks below.]

TIA Daily April 14, 2011

FEATURE ARTICLE

Going Galt

The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

by Robert Tracinski

After more than 50 years, a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's perennially best-selling pro-capitalist epic in finally coming to the big screenbut through the strangest route possible.

That the film hasn't been made long ago, despite being one of world's most successful literary properties, is surprisingbut not too surprising. No, it's not because the novel is difficult to adapt to the screen, as you will sometimes hear from both its critics and its admirers. Yes, the book has long, complex exchanges of dialogue that have to be ruthlessly condensed. But Ayn Rand started out her careerin the 1920s through the 1940sas a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogueand, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.

If you can't figure out how to make a good movie out of all of that, then brother, you don't know your own business.

Hollywood, as many of us have long suspected, does not know its own business. Plenty of big-name directors, writers, producers, and stars expressed interest over the years. But whether it was the pro-free-market politics, the larger-than-life heroic characters, or the big philosophical ideas, the book forced modern Hollywood outside its comfort zone, and no one was able or willing to figure out what to do with it.

So the version that comes to us now is one that was hastily put together at the last minute, with only weeks to go before the film rights lapsed. It has a small budget, no recognizable stars, an inexperienced director, and a script co-written by a producer with no literary or artistic experience whatsoever. The resulting film was unable to find a major distributor, so even though it was scheduled for April 15a perfect symbolic date for a protest against big governmentthe movie was originally set to open only in a dozen small "art" theaters in a few big cities.

That was about six weeks ago. Then something remarkable happened.

Atlas Shrugged is set to open tomorrow in 300 theaters across the country. True, that's still a fraction of the opening distribution for a big blockbusterbut it's an awfully big fraction. This means that the film won't just be opening in a few big cities but will play in quite a number of towns across the heartland. Places like Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Lakeville, Minnesota. In politics, we ask: but will it play in Peoria? Yes, it will, at the Grand Prairie 18 in Peoria, Illinois.

More remarkable is how this happened: as a result of grass-roots pressure and agitation from fans of the novel. This allowed the producers, who decided to self-distribute the film, to convince many local theater operators to give the movie a chance.

I know from local experience that a lot of this pressure came from Tea Party groups or individual Tea Party members, many of whom have taken inspiration from the novel, so this huge jump in distribution has to be seen as the latest successand as a show of strength, numerical and ideologicalfor the Tea Party movement.

I have never seen a film spread through this kind of grassroots groundswell of enthusiasm, with zero support from movie critics, cultural elites, or celebrities. This is all the more remarkable because most of the people clamoring for the film are doing so sight unseen. So we have to interpret this as an enormous demonstration of support for Ayn Rand's novel, which readers hope will be faithfully adapted in the film.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroesbut when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.

The movie does not adulterate or rewrite the ideological content of the novel. Rather, the script has a tendency to take Ayn Rand's complex and original characters and reduce them to Hollywood clichs. Yes, you read that right. Contrary to the usual literary smears against Rand, it is her characters who are fresh and complex, while it is Hollywood's stock heroes and villains who are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. The novel's version of Lillian Rearden, for example, is a fascinating study in how the left uses its pose of moral and intellectual superiority to keep the people who do the actual thinking and the actual workthe world's innovators and wealth-creatorsintimidated and suppressed. Lillian's goal is to prevent these men from expressing pride in their achievement and to make them eager to demonstrate their subservience to their "progressive" overlords. She does this in high society by using her husband's money and position to support a salon of leftist artists and intellectuals. Much more memorably, she does it at home by subjecting her husbandan innovative, self-made steel tycoonto a constant drumbeat of emotional abuse intended to make him feel that business, like sex, is not a subject to be mentioned in polite company. (He eventually learns to question both of those assumptions.) Lillian Rearden is a totally original yet instantly recognizable archetype of manipulative power-lustyet in the film, she is reduced to not much more than a catty trophy wife of the type we've seen many times before. So Hollywood found a way back to its comfort zone, after all.

Unfortunately, this persistent flaw takes a good deal of the ideological and dramatic punch out of the story and may leave some new viewers of the film wondering what all of the fuss is about. I hope they take the time to find out by picking up the original novel, because there is a lot there that will justify the enthusiasm of Ayn Rand's fans and of the Tea Partiers who have picked up her novel in recent years.

The film covers just the first part of the novel. The producers wisely chose to divide Ayn Rand's densely plotted thousand-page epic into three segments, with the plan of presenting them in a trilogy of films. The main story line in Part 1 is the struggle of the protagonist, railroad executive Dagny Taggart, to hold her railroad together and save an American economy dying from suffocating taxes and government regulations. Sound familiar?

But Dagny's story isn't just about economics. It is about her sense of loneliness and isolation in a world where men of enterprise, initiative, and ability seem to be disappearing. And more: we see her loneliness in a culture where clear-eyed rationality and self-assertive ambition are no longer valued. Dagny faces a world that has fully adopted, in all of its ugly actual details, the left's credo of "need, not greed." Everyone has needsexpressed in long, whining complaints about how "sensitive" they areand no one has the guts to take responsibility for supporting his own life and achieving his own happiness. In short, these guys have taken over.

Dagny finds an ally in the steel tycoon, Hank Rearden, who helps her build a crucially needed rail line to the nation's last remaining industrial boomtownand I think you can guess that they find, in each other, a solution to their problems.

Dagny's main obstacle is her older brother, Jim, who is no good at running the railroad but knows how to run to Washington. While Dagny tries to keep the railroad alive by supporting the last growing industrial enterprises, Jim is always scheming for short-term profits from political favors and government subsidies. Again, sound familiar? He is the perfect fictional villain for the age of bailoutsthe era of Government Motors and banks being turned into "government sponsored entities."

It is Jim's cabal of politicians and politically connected businessmen who begin the action in Part 1 by plunging the nation into an economic crisis, from which Dagny saves them, and they end Part 1 by causing another, worse crisis. Again, sound familiar? But while the film presents Jim as another Hollywood clich, a soulless young corporate schemer, the novel's portrayal is more complex, interesting, and relevant to today's political environment.

In the novel, Jim has pretentions of being an intellectual and a deep, sensitive, "spiritual" type. Even when his schemes have the obvious ulterior motive of extorting unearned wealth, they are always pitched in terms of altruist bromides. But he really means the bromides, and Ayn Rand's point is that you can't tell where the "idealist" motive leaves off and the cynical one takes over. Jim believes that someone needs to be sacrificed to "the public good"and he always tries to make sure he is "the public" and not the one being sacrificed.

This is summed up in a scene early in the novel when Taggart concludes the negotiations for one of his corrupt deals by offering a macabre toast: "Let's drink to the sacrifices to historical necessity."

This same combinationvaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

This is just scratching the surface of an epic novel, and the story widens and deepens as it goes beyond Part 1. But I think you can now see how an obscure, low-budget film has become a grassroots crusade before it even opens in the theaters. The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenonand part of the Tea Party phenomenon.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"a reference to one of the novel's heroessent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel.

The novel has not yet found anything near its fullest and best expression on the screennor have we seen anything near the full scope of its impact on American politics.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2011

Who Owns Your Life?

While introducing his deficit reduction proposal at George Washington University this week, President Obama justified raising income tax rates on Americans:

"Some will argue we should not even consider ever, ever, raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It's just an article of faith to them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more."

With all due respect, this is a strawman. I say we should not ever consider raising tax rates, even if only on the wealthiest Americans, because it is as unethical as forcing America's sons and daughters to go to war. It has absolutely nothing to do with "faith." I created this Xtranormal video to illustrate this.

You've seen the draft script. Now I give you the World Premiere of "Who Owns Your Life?"

Please share prodigiously.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:45 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Heh -- thanks for changing the gender stereotypes.

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2011 4:29 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well done!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 14, 2011 5:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Updated this morning to add the Barack Obama quote that partially prompted my efforts.

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2011 9:28 AM

One more day...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Doesn't seem to be a theater anywhere near me - mayhaps there's not enough receptive viewers in California? From the look of the theater listing, I'll be waiting for this to hit cable...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Torrance? Central LA?

http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/theaters#California

Me and my kinfolk are going to the premier in BOULDER. (Yes, that Boulder.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Both are nearly an hour from me, and through downtown traffic. Yeah, I'm just whining. Eleven million people in the LA area who desperately need to see this, and it's showing on two gorram screens. You'd think a market this size...

Who am I kidding? We can't even hold onto an NFL franchise. I've got no reason to believe that this American Idol level, entertainment-addicted wasteland has the synaptic firepower to understand this movie. They're still waiting for Meet the Fockers VII.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

One should count himself lucky it's on any LA screens. It's tantamount to Friedman's 'Free to Choose' airing in Moscow in the 1920's.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 11:36 PM

The Wages of Collectivism

I frequently refer to the classic Saturday Night Live skit where the sour milk is discovered. Then everybody has to smell it to see how bad it smells. There's probably a passage from Lord Byron or Voltaire that describes the same thing, but...

I thought of embedding this yesterday on the sour milk theory. If you have not seen it, take a whiff. Its creepiness nears if not matches the Demi Moore/will.i.am "I Pledge" (fealty to his lord majesty Obama) video.

Amy Alkon trashes it nicely, as do the three testosterone filled lads from Trifecta. I received a link in email from a good friend of the blog who "wanted to puke."

[Sorry I cannot embed. It seems that it is more tender and understanding to link...]

Ayn Rand does a great riff on racism as a symptom of collectivism. When we stop being and accepting others as individuals, it's a quick step to stereotypes and a short hop to racial animosity. I submit this to be the final step: cleave the world in half and dictate that the xy chromosomes are responsible for every crime, boorish impulse, or thought committed by any member.

I'm not apologizing for anything that somebody else did. Real sorry about slavery, abrogation of treaties with indigenous Americans, Koremastu v. United States, and the entire ABBA oeuvre. But you'll have to get your mea culpas from those more directly involved.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse: "That's patent idiocy, and a man trying to suck up to women by blabbing about energy... needs some better suck-up lines."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:02 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

PPFTHT. We'll wipe out those twits with the doors of our SUVs and not even slow down.

Seriously, I think this is just a rehab put-up we can blame on General Zod's mental therapist. (Didn't you think that first "consciousman" looked familiar?)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 2:59 PM

April 13, 2011

Two more days...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2011

Quote of the Day

Insty brings us one from Robert A Heinlein. This should be recited every day, like the pledge of allegience:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."


Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

In this classic quote from Heinlein's 1973 classic 'Time Enough for Love' we have a fifty-word thumbnail sketch of the main theme of Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2011 3:01 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

Indeed: any comments on AS? Where's going to the most un-hip place to see it opening night?

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

@nb: seems like seeing it in Boulder would have some philosophical value, but I am thinking I'll hit the GigaGinormaPlex in Westminster.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 3:47 PM

March 30, 2011

Boulder, Huh?

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 opens in a good lineup of Colorado Theaters. I'll probably go to the Westminster Promenade, but it would be fun to brave the belly-of-the-beast, and see it at the Century16 in Boulder. If only I could ride a train. Maybe Englewood or Lakewood would be close to "light rail..."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

What? No screens in Colorado Springs? El Paso County residents [predominantly Republican] should demand free DVDs from [Democrat] Governor Hickenlooper!

Posted by: johngalt at March 30, 2011 7:35 PM

March 25, 2011

I Am John Galt

Posted by John Kranz at 2:12 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

All those people claiming to be John Galt is going to be enormously confusing to Three Sourcers.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 25, 2011 6:41 PM
But jk thinks:

"Is your name not Bruce, then?"

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2011 6:50 PM

March 23, 2011

Freedom Fries, Baby!

Careful, this libertarian manifesto may make you hungry:

Posted by John Kranz at 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2011

Somebody say Someting About GMU?

Hoss:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM | Comments (2)
But jc thinks:

A true master musician! Great music! Thank you! I knew there had to be something posted here that most everyone would enjoy and agree with. Shocking!

Posted by: jc at March 22, 2011 7:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I suspect my friend JC meant this for the Ralph Mooney RIP post a few stories down. A great blogger would fix it, as I occasionally do. But as Mal would say "I'm okay."

Capturing JC's approbation for Walter Williams -- that would be a tragedy to repair.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2011 12:45 PM

March 21, 2011

Instavision

The Virginia Postrel Interview. She's a Gov. Daniels fan.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2011

Available for Preorder...

If this isn't title of the year:

I Am John Galt: Today's Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It
Donald Luskin; Hardcover; $18.26

Luskin is a great man with a powerful intellect. I look forward to the book.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I'll be interested to read how many of those heroic innovators went on strike around the autumn of 2008.

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2011 12:50 PM

March 14, 2011

You Didn't Have to Work Today, Did You?

The Mises Institute on Facebook embeds this charming (I might mention that is an hour and a half) talk on Austrian Economics and the new Road to Serfdom:

Economic Liberty Lecture Series: Richard M. Ebeling from The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Ebeling is good but does not move so quickly that a person couldn't do something else while it plays.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2011

Wish Me Luck

I found a taker. I have made this offer many, many times and this is the first time I have been taken up. My friend JC will be reading Virginia Postrel's "The Future and its Enemies."

In return, I will settle in with Barry Commoner's "Making Peace with the Planet."

making_peace.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

NY Times- "[Making Peace with the Planet] is a model of clarity, even for the reader who knows little about science." I daresay particularly for the reader who knows little about science.

I am fully prepared to delve into the book's false premise based upon the Publishers Weekly review on Amazon but will refrain so as not to "pollute" your reading. (I suspect you already see it too.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 14, 2011 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I will, however, offer an alternate title:
'Surrendering to the Planet - A formula for prostrating mankind before all other things, living and inanimate.'

Posted by: johngalt at March 14, 2011 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly you have just been paid by SOME BIG CORPORATION to spread lies about Gaia.

I fear from the synopsis that he got the better end of this deal, but he is going to read mine in good faith, and I will do the same. I know enough people who think this way that any insight into their world would be a plus.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2011 3:27 PM

March 12, 2011

I'm Reading "a libertarian parable for the ages"

I thought I was reading "trash." After a long bout of non-fiction, punctuated by a few bits of serious fiction (and a children's book I received for Christmas), reading a pop mystery novel is fun but feels a lot like slacking.

My brother -in-law recommended the Millennium Trilogy and I am three-quarters-through "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." It's fun, but I confess that I was going to finish the first book, then watch all three movies and move on.

But now I find out that I am reading "a libertarian parable for the ages."

The Objectivist with the Dragon Tattoo
[...]
Indeed, there are moments when the books seem to stop dead in their tracks so that one of Larsson's characters can deliver an NPR-style bromide on a subject dear to the liberal heart.

In the midst of all of this, Lisbeth Salander explodes like a grenade tossed into an ammunition dump. Ferociously individualist, incorruptible, disdainful, and suspicious of all forms of social organization, and dedicated to her own personal moral code, Salander often seems to have stepped into Larsson's world from out of an Ayn Rand novel. She despises all institutions, whether they are business corporations, government agencies, or the Stockholm police. Rejecting all forms of ideology, she is dedicated only to her own individual sense of justice. Relentlessly cerebral, she trusts only what she can ascertain with her own mind and her own formidable talents. She considers Blomquist a naive fool because of his belief that social conditions cause people to commit the horrible crimes he investigates.


I like it, but I miss the dark, dank, turgid prose of my 90-year-old economics books.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2011

Hammertime!

These can be dark days for the forces of freedom and light. But can you imagine watching this video and having to take the position of Michael Moore over Mary Katherine Ham?

A National Resource. By Ludwig von Mises's correct definition of a Socialist, President Obama is clear (though he loses points for the GM bailout). But Moore falls right in. This is "Communal ownership of the means of production" writ large. Or in Moore's case, XXLarge...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:01 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The debt? Screw the debt! That's just numbers on paper held by other billionaires.

Instead will take that $1.3 TaTaTrillion in confiscated wealth and divvy it up evenly amongst every man, woman and child in America. After all, which is more just: 400 billionaires or 300 million "four-dollar-and-thirty-three-cents-aires?"

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2011 2:54 PM

March 2, 2011

Hope is Currency

The usual post includes my relating something my Facebook friends post, reminding my blog brothers and sisters that our high ideals of reason and informed debate do not necessarily extend across the entire nation.

But today, I bring you tidings of great joy. My most (rhymes with "soon, daddy") friend salutes, ahem, Walmart

In perhaps the boldest example yet of "retail regulation," Wal-Mart is stepping ahead of federal regulators and using its muscle as the world's largest retailer to move away from a class of chemicals researchers say endanger human health and the environment.

I commented that "Walmart* could easily replace the FDA, USDA, and clearly the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. We would be safer, richer and have far greater innovation" and awaited the onslaught...that never came.

One person I did not know said "I posted this elsewhere and the 'haters' still complain about walmart. Walmart haters are the 'birthers' of the retail world."

UPDATE: Odd side note. Looking for my stupid car link the other day, I went to Oct 2003 instead of Oct 2004, and tripped over this post announcing my MS diagnosis. The title of this post comes from that.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2011

EZRA KLIEN IS RIGHT!

HOLD THE PRESSES! That adorable little WaPo urchin lad who cedes two correct answers a day to the proverbial broken clock, hits it out of the park.

The U.S. Government: An insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army

Hat-tip: Professor Bainbridge..

Posted by John Kranz at 4:27 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Hits it out of the park"? Not to make too fine a point of it, but I'm calling it a ground-rule double at best - and limited largely to that sentence.

I've spent thirty years in the insurance industry, and I know insurance when I see it. Insurance is a financial product that people are free to buy or not as they decide based on their own situation in life. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are not. Insurance is also a market-driven product which is self-supporting. Payouts on claims (plus operating costs) cannot exceed collected premiums (plus investment income), or the insurer goes toes-up (unless some jackass deems them "too big to fail"). I routinely come across people who expect unlimited medical care, who simultaneously whine about the cost of their premium. Boy, do they get an earful from me - they expect insurance carriers to pay out far more than they receive in premiums. This is basic economics!

So it's folly to call it an insurance conglomerate. It's a redistribution conglomerate. Whether the purpose of the large standing army is to protect that function would be the subject of a second post. Because I think he mislabels in both halves of that quote, I'm thinking that "ground-rule double" actually ought to be called a "fielder's choice."

I have saved up from years past a collection. In my collection is one page from each year's tax publication - the page with the pie chart showing where our tax dollars are spent. It might be a debatable point, but I'd feel comfortable saying that between 65 and 70 percent of the Federal budget is spent on things - redistribution, programs like education and environmental regulation - that (a) have no Constitutional basis and (b) are functions that should be the responsibility of something other than the Federal government, plus debt service on unnecessarily incurred debt. And that figure does not even broach the subject of military spending.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 15, 2011 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps not everybody at ThreeSources is the big Ezra Klein fan that I am.

I will join you in fulsome support for real, live, un-coerced, private insurance. When friends start debasing derivatives, I like to counter with "so, I guess you don't own any life insurance, then." It's a noble enterprise that distributed risk to allow the creation of a world wide liberal international economic order.

I read Klein's statement as admission that government's forays into fields that could be better handled by real insurance are bankrupting our nation and curtailing our freedom. If he could understand 100 year old documents, he might even question their constitutionality.

I'll retract "out of the park" both as a point of personal friendship and acceptance that much of what Klein does call for government to do (after getting off his scorching good line) is dang near evil.

The key is to read only the Bainbridge post, which I did. I added the link to WaPo because I thought it proper. Fielder's Choice it is. Which is still pretty good for Klein...

Posted by: jk at February 15, 2011 5:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Sorry KA, I'm with JK - It's a homer. Problem is, he tripped on his laces rounding third and, when he got up to continue, started running the bases backwards.

It is correct to say the US Federal government is an insurance entity offering insurance services. In fact, the military component also falls into that category. But what makes the government not an insurance company is that it doesn't know how to make a profit at it, or even break even. This is where your redistribution comes in.

Klein asks us to look at where the government spends "our" money. "What do you mean our kemosabe?" What would we do without those one-percenters?

Since the "insurance" programs concocted by Congress are heavy on the benefits, and constantly getting heavier, it is IMPOSSIBLE to make them actuarially sound. At some point the golden goose runs out of gold.

But after the 2nd-decker of identifying the government as an agent of indemnification-by-force, Klein falls on his face when he suggests SS is "by far the most efficient" and "should be last on our list" for reform. And he reverses the bases by saying the government must get busy "righting our core business." Bullcrap! The insurance business needs to be fully privatized once and for all. There's not enough gold in the observable universe to insure every American, illegal immigrant, or Johnny-come-lately against all the calamities that lobbyists can dream up.

Do we want insurance that is a) affordable and b) sustainable, or do we want a potato famine? The cure is as obvious as the choice.

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2011 7:51 PM

February 13, 2011

Property Rights Suck

I was going to reread "Atlas Shrugged" in time for the movie. Then I see that the Kindle Version is $18.99.

Ow! It's only $9.99 for mass market paperback, 14.18 for School and Library binding. But those ones and zeros are seemingly scarce in Atlantis.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:02 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

One suspects there might be a bootlegging premium built in.

Of course, there are still the audio book options (all of which are more than your soul-less eReader's 19 bucks.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 2:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Is there a big bit-torrent market for Kindle® that I'm missing? I suggest that a Kindle book is single use where a hard copy is lendable.

The lovely bride and I share books because we share an Amazon account, but I have always found the unleandability the biggest flaw in eBookdom.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2011 3:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

... thus proving how little I know on the subject.

Posted by: johngalt at February 14, 2011 5:23 PM

February 8, 2011

Quote of the Day

James Pethokoukis says it's "time for a Milton Friedman break." I concur:

But the doctrine of "social responsibility" taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a "fundamentally subversive doctrine" in a free society, and have said that in such a society, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business--to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud."

Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

OK, can you give a better idea of how Mises' "economic and scientific principles, providing a way to accept freedom without rewiring intrinsic human behavior" is different from Atlantis? So far I don't see any distinction besides your assertion of being a thousand times easier to share with others.

Rather than leave my request open-ended I'll try to focus it by pointing out that Rand saw two different kinds of "intrinsic human behavior." One uses reason acting in concert with reality. She called this "fully human." The other evades reason and reality, and even thought itself. She called this "the culture of death." Any free society that purports to appeal to both of these at the same time is a perilous proposition.

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2011 7:07 PM
But jk thinks:

It's hard to pitch this as some kind of cosmic smackdown as I don't think either's ideas are in conflict.

Where Rand and many of her followers make a moral and philosophical case for freedom and private ownership, Mises presents the case economically. He shows, methodically, why Socialism in all its forms is untenable.

He is writing this in 1922. We think we're fighting the elites, but his whole world has accepted Socialism as modern, intelligent and inevitable. The Fabians are riding high in Britain, 16 of the last 20 years in America has been under a "progressive" President, and Bolshevik revolution has yet to be proven evil, and the Nazis are making noises where he writes.

He explains that under communal control of the means of production, that the producers will decide what is produced, whereas if Capital owns it, the consumers will decide.

He points out the value to peace to have each individual choose his position in a division of labor economy. He talks about the importance of price models in a dynamic economy to signal resource allocation. He talks about directing capital to its best use. He talks about the fairness of income inequality.

He even applies it to some not-traditionally economic areas including a very contemporary (for 1922) look at gender roles.

Few of the ideas will be brand new to ThreeSourcers in 2011 (though the producers' disposing of production was new to me), but he lays them brick by brick to build a substantive edifice of the benefits of Liberalism.

As I said, at the end Rand and Mises have told the same story and constructed the same environment. Where Rand builds the case philosophically, Mises is "Scientific" (his word, I would use "economic.")


Posted by: jk at February 9, 2011 7:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Fairness of income inequality." A philosophical case for this rests in first agreeing that the concept "fairness" means impartial and equal treatment and not equal reward. The former is the dictionary definition. The latter is the Progressive definition.

The "fairness" of income inequality needs no defense in the absence of the egalitarians perverted claim that equal results are the "fair" product of unequal causes or performance; income inequality simply "exists." Yet the world in which we, like Mises before us, live does include egalitarians.

Rand dealt with this by explaining that causes have effects; that production has rewards. Then went on to explain that egalitarians have no benevolent passion for equality. Instead, she wrote, "... the claim to it is only a rationalization to cover a passionate hatred of the good for being the good." Fairness is not the issue. Income inequality is not the issue. The issue is an attempt to violate the physical Law of Causality on the part of these mystical, non-productive humans.

What this explanation requires of the listener is to acknowledge that redistributionists don't actually love the needy, they merely hate the successful. (This threshold is too high for many to cross.)

What would LvM say?

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2011 3:44 PM
But jk thinks:

If I could copy/paste out of Kindle (or type worth a dang), I'd've drowned you in quotes by now.

Mises covers the topic at length (he is arguing against actual Marxists, after all) and I think you'd dig it all. In addition to the expected differential between skills, smarts and dedication, he discusses the price signals of different occupations, migration and geography, relative dangers of occupations, and selection of artists.

If everyone is going to be paid the same, we're going to have a surfeit of Hawaiian Ukulele luthiers.

I also liked his suggestion that the wealthy propel innovation by funding early adoption and experimentation in new products and services. The first Plasma TV I ever saw was $24K for a small one; if nobody bought that, I would never have seen my $800 42" or its $600 LCD replacement.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2011 4:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right. They're both pretty much the same and both arguments will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the egalitarians.

At the beginning I read into your words an implication that Rand's philosophy requires some kind of "rewiring of human nature." Is that really what you meant?

Posted by: johngalt at February 11, 2011 1:11 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, I suppose I did say that. And yes, it does go back to the "Elevator Talk" wars.

I also claimed as hardwired human nature the desire of "improving society and leaving a better situation to posterity" up to and including Altruism. Again, maybe I'm too stupid to pick it up, but I read Rand by the schooner in my 20s and never sensed a contradiction.

It is Tracinski's and Peikoff's expositions on Objectivism -- and, too a lesser extent Yaron Brook's, yours, and dagny's -- that I wrestle with.

Extirpating altruism is the foundation of this objectivist epiphany. If I might insult all ThreeSourcers at once, it seems quite similar to "accepting Jesus Christ as your savior." As ye are reborn in Rand, so shall ye be free...

Mises does not require that you discard altruism. He explains the same things Rand does, with economics: "Hey this sounds nice on paper, but it won't work and here's why."

Agreed that both are hard for egalitarians to accept, but I am very comfortable making Mises's arguments. As soon as you get to "the virtue of selfishness" with moderates who are not devoted to philosophy, you're dead. They'll settle their bar tab and shuffle out the door.

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 10:43 AM

February 3, 2011

Nice Look at President Reagan

In prep for the 100th anniversary of President Reagan's birth (Sunday, Feb 6), The American editor Nick Schultz sits down with Reagan biographer Steven Hayward,

Twenty-two minutes, but it's good stuff.

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

February 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Ayn Rand

Alex Epstein suggests businessmen should thank the author.

Methinks [really? we're now starting paragraphs with "Methinks?"] Epstein makes a common fallacy equating businessmen with free market proponents and entrepreneurs. For every Fred Smith, there are a pile of Jeff Immelts. The current crop of rent seekers leading the Fortune 500 does not strike me as very John Galtish.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Intending to expand and clarify your statement rather than dispute it, the set "corporate executive" includes the subsets "businessman" and "looter." The definition of business is a "profit-seeking enterprise or concern." An economist's definition of looter is a rent-seeking enterprise or concern.

Loved the article. Saw more than one ASQOTD in there. I also saw this, perhaps more persuasive, treatment of an old internecine dispute.

"Unfortunately, while Rearden experiences a lifelong moral transformation in the story of "Atlas," most of the readers of "Atlas Shrugged" do not. While many businessmen derive lasting inspiration from "Atlas," they do not attain or pursue an enduring understanding of the moral virtue of profit--and certainly do not proudly defend their right to practice it freely. Thus, many of "Atlas Shrugged’s" most vocal admirers at once proclaim adoration for the novel, while simultaneously attempting to justify their existence by appealing to some “higher cause” (“the environment,” “diversity,” “the community”)--and certainly do not proudly stand up for their right to pursue profit in a free market. They engage in the same tried-and-failed tactics of behind-the-scenes lobbying and appeals to the “public good” that have led to the shrinking of economic freedom over the past century."

We debated and never resolved whether using societal good as a selling point would stop us "having the argument [Hayek or Marx] every time." But what if the refrain became "life, liberty and the pursuit of profit?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2011 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not going to fight you on Ayn Rand's Birthday.

Actually, you scored a devastating hit for your side when Bill Gates and Warren Buffett started their insane altruism club.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2011 3:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought that proper nouns were to be capitalized, e.g. Insane Altruism Club.

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2011 2:49 PM

January 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -- Hugh Prather
Hat-tip: My darling bride on Facebook.
Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2011

The "TEA Movement" is More Popular Than a "Big-Tent"

Comity? Who needs comity?

Jared Rhoads of The Lucidicus Project (Helping medical students understand free markets) agrees with me (and Robert Tracinski) that limited government is not merely a practical issue, but a moral one.

I used to think that Republicans did stand for individual rights on principle, but that they shied away from moral arguments because they deemed it better public relations to be "big-tent," inclusive, neutral. Well, over the past two years, the Tea movement has demonstrated that pro-individualist moral sentiments are popular and effective. We are still waiting for the Republicans to catch up.

What is holding them back? As writer Craig Biddle explains in a recent article in The Objective Standard, Republicans face a self-imposed obstacle in their effort to limit government to its proper functions: they still believe that being moral consists of sacrificing oneself for the needs of others.

Imagine approaching your moderate Republican Congressperson and making the case for cutting government based on the morality of individual rights. He may smile and nod in agreement, but as Biddle indicates, there is conflict churning in his head:

Repeal Obamacare? How can we do that if the right thing to do is to sacrifice for others? People need medical care, and Obamacare will provide it by forcing everyone to sacrifice as he should.

Phase out Medicare? How can we do that if we are morally obliged to provide for the needy? The elderly need medical care, and Medicare provides it by forcing everyone to pony up.

Phase out Social Security? How can we do that if, as the bible tells us, we are our brother's keeper? The elderly need money for retirement, and Social Security provides it by forcing everyone to do the right thing.

The only proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights. It is not to oversee our healthcare, help us be charitable, or assist with our retirement planning. There is no way to roll back Obamacare or other government encroachments without recognizing this fact and stating it openly on the floors of the House and Senate.

The next time we circulate a petition, let's tell the supporters of Obamacare that what they have done is not simply impractical, unfair, or too expensive. Let's tell them it is wrong.


Posted by JohnGalt at 1:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 6, 2011

Here Comes John Galt

To the big screen.

Here IT comes. The film version of my favorite novel, which we last discussed here and here, is in post production and should appear in theaters "No later than Tax Day, April 15."

Many of my trepidations about making this story into a movie have been salved by this interview with executive producer and financier (read: owner) of the film, John Aglialoro.

Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, Aglialoro is one of those rare corporate executives who fully "gets" the philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged.

So the storyline should be safe. The scope of this movie is Part I of the book, which readers can review key points from by reading those entitled entries in Three Sources' "Atlas Shrugged QOTD" archive.

And the casting appears excellent as well. In my mind's eye I can envision Ms. Schilling walking through an abandoned factory, or consoling her poor, misguided young sister-in-law. And the movie's Hank Reardon, played by Grant Bowler, seems a perfect fit. I can easily see him telling Tinky Holloway that his game is up.

But we'll have to wait for the second sequel for that scene. I've heard that the intentions for Parts II and III of the book are to be separate sequels, each following about a year after it's predecessor.

Judging by some of the scene photos the setting of the movie will be decidedly modern. Apparently it will be set in our time, not in that of the book's writing. This is as it should be. The uninitiated youth will be more captivated than with a more faithful portrayal of the book. And, more importantly, we are closer to the events of the story becoming reality today than at any time in history.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Fun. But how's he intend to make a film without the wisdom of Hollywood?

They should steal Glenn Reynolds's tagline: "It's Ayn Rand's world, we're just living in it."

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I expect that production values will be the last thing for which critics will pan this film.

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I was being a liiiiiitle more sarcastic than that.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 6:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I read the sarcasm. But I took it as a "quantum comment." It can have multiple meanings at the same time. (Alas, in our era it has no literal meaning whatsoever until a judge says it does.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 8:21 PM

Another Look at Christopher Beam's Article

Robert Murphy at the Mises Institute takes on the Christopher Beam New York Magazine article we have discussed around here.

Like Reason (and unlike me), he is not dismissive. "Beam did his homework." "Didn't set out to write a hatchet job." "Interviewed the right people (Douglas French of the Mises Institute)." "Gave props to Murray Rothbard." I guess I will agree with all of those accolades.

Like Reason (and like me), he gets very queasy toward the end.

In any event, the problem with Beam's critique is that he reduces it to a popularity contest. In other words, Beam isn't arguing here that Jillette is wrong; rather, he's saying that few people would agree with him. More generally, Beam's critique of libertarianism is that it "ends up deep in the wilderness," i.e., far away from the conclusions reached by most other thinkers. That may well be true, but nobody denies that libertarians are currently in the minority.

Unlike me and unlike Reason, Lew Rockwell's lads are ready to go to the mat to defend the purest and most out there precepts of libertarianism. I don't think I'll join them there, but I enjoyed it.
An analogy will make things clearer. Suppose someone in the 1830s wrote an article called, "The Trouble With Liberty," and discussed the "extremist" views of the abolitionists. Such a writer might argue, "For these radicals, it's not merely that slavery is an unproductive use of labor. No, these firebrands go further and compare it to kidnapping. Most Americans agree that whipping a slave to death is going too far, but to totally abolish slavery? That's a bit much."

Posted by John Kranz at 2:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 3, 2011

When does illegality happen?

In a comment reminiscent of the claim that a tree falling in a forest makes no sound unless someone is there to hear it, Leo Laurence writes in the magazine for the Society of Professional Journalists that the term "illegal immigrant" does not apply to non-citizens. Why? Because of the Constitution, he asserts.

In an appearance on FNC's Fox and Friends this morning Laurence said, that an "undocumented immigrant" is not an illegal immigrant "until a judge says so." This is because of the Constitutional provision of innocence until proven guilty before a jury of one's peers. "No. No. They are not. The only person who can say someone is here illegally is a judge."

So the bank robber hasn't committed a crime until he is found guilty, according to this logic.

Laurence added that, "It's a very conservative issue because we're following our Constitution."

I attribute the smug, self-confidence of Mr. Laurence to a collision between the philosophy of subjective idealism and the TEA Party movement.

For what it's worth, Leo closed the segment by spelling out his telephone number and email address for those who want to discuss the matter with him. Repeated as a public service: 619 757 4909, leopowerhere@msn.com.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:07 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

To tie our open threads, that's the Scroëdinger defense: the cat is not guilty until the box is opened...

I don't think I'll call Mister Laurence. His seems an odd defense and unlikely to advance the cause of more legal immigration that I champion.

And yet, I've heard a sister theory that it does not actually violate any statute to be on American soil, providing the same outcome that no one is truly illegal. Back to work but I'll see if I can find a well written exposition of this theory to share with the class.

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2011 10:13 AM

January 2, 2011

The Next Moral Crusade -- Capitalism


Over the New Year's holiday spent here in Seattle with Mr. and Mrs. Macho Duck I re-read an article in a 2008 issue of The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 20, No. 1.) The article's title is 'Fusionism Comes Unfused.' It reopened some internecine disputes in a clearly stated way so I wanted to share. Checking first for posts containing the word "Tracinski" (the author) I found a drought from 2007 until 2010. Shame on me!

The piece reviews the 2008 GOP primary season, where Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee's early leads evaporated, for no apparent reason, to leave the field wide open. Tracinski attributes the cause to a "desperate desire" on the part of GOP voters to avoid the stark choice between a pro-defense, pro-markets and "not particularly religious" Giuliani and a "strongly religious, anti-abortion candidate who has nothing particular to offer on the war and denounces the pro-free-market Club for Growth as the 'Club for Greed."

"But in avoiding the choice between a religious agenda and a secular agenda, Republicans were forced to evade the substantive issues at stake in th election and focus instead on the personal qualities of the candidates. (...)

In short, faced with a big ideological question on the role of religion, Republicans dodged the issue and instead chose a candidate on non-ideological grounds. [McCain, the flip-flip-flopper]

Yet the conflict between the religious and secular wings of the conservative agenda cannot be avoided, even if Republicans declined to resolve it this year.

Republican fusionism is unstable because its basic premise -- that the moral foundation of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists -- is false. For five decades, under the influence of fusionism, conservatives have largely ceded to the religious right the job of providing the moral fire to sustain their movement. But they are discovering that the religionists do not have a strong moral commitment to free markets. In fact, the religious right seems to be working on its own version of 'fusion' -- with the religious left.

(...)

The reason for this shift toward the religious left is that religion ultimately cannot support the real basis for capitalism and a strong American national defense: a morality of rational self-interest. Christianity is too deeply committed to a philosophy of self-abnegation, a destructive morality that urges men to renounce any interest in worldly goods and to turn the other cheek in the face of aggression. (...)

Tricked by William F. Buckley and his fusionists into outsourcing moral questions to the guardians of religious tradition, the right has never been able to develop the moral case for rational self-interest -- which means that it never developed the moral case for the profit motive, property rights, and the free market. Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues, but thanks to "fusionism," they are unable to articulate them. And this means that they have never been able to turn the defense of free markets into a moral crusade."

To my religious brothers and sisters I urge you not to read this as an indictment of your faith. Religious morality has much to offer in the realm of personal values. But as a universal guide for the conduct of civilizations it is too easily co-opted by the forces of World Socialism.

A defense of capitalism as the means for men to deal with one another is not only not an abandonment of moral values, it is the only moral crusade that can hope to ever have a peaceful end.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:39 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I guess this post means holiday comity is now officially over. It was fun.

I don't know that Mr. Tracinski has changed his tune since 2008, but I posit that the Tea Party and the 2010 elections have about completely debunked his argument.

I had the good fortune to meet, via one of my most leftist friends, one of Hizzoner's state campaign chairmen, I parroted the media line about how Giuliani erred in waiting for the Florida primaries, yadda, yadda. This person, 25 years my junior looked at me as a naive waif and said "yeah, that's what we said -- we spent piles of money in New Hampshire and couldn't get anywhere." Without dismissing the candidate's faults, the GOP is clearly not ready for a social libertarian of Giuliani's stripes.

But by the same token, they did not pick His Huckness. TIA sees that as some nefarious plot, I see it as recognition of electoral exigencies. Moderates appeal to the American electorate and prosper in the American system.

Yet I return to the Tea Party, which brought a bounty of serious freedom candidates like Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul. Subtract the evangelicals from the Tea Party and you have a typical libertarian gabfest with some angry bearded guys.

I think this comment still holds: we have to hold our uneasy partnership together to hold back the forces of collectivism. Frank Meyers was right -- it's worth it.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2011 11:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And I say the TPM validates his argument.

I read you as focusing on one aspect of the post: why Rudy and Huckabee were rejected. It is a fact that they were, and you passed right on by the new fusion of the religious right with the religious left or the assertion that Republican fusionism is fundamentally unstable.

As for the TEA Party verdict, consider from the last quoted paragraph - "Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues..." But they don't understand why it is virtuous. The closest they usually come is to quote the Declaration of Independence's "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The World Socialists slay this foe with the ol' "200 year-old dead white guys" argument.

The past quote you linked celebrated that "pro-lifers line up to vote when it's 40 below." They do so because it is a moral cause for them. You couldn't oppose making the profit motive, property rights and the free market an equally or more powerful moral cause, so you must just consider it impossible. "If man were meant to fly then God would have given him wings."

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2011 2:52 PM

December 29, 2010

Is it Tuesday Yet?

Governor Ed Rendell made a superb appearance on Kudlow & Co. last night. The main topic was his "wusses" tirade against the postponement of the Iggles-Vikings game on Sunday. Kudlow enjoys great relations with the former DNC chief and pressed him to expand his belief in self-sufficiency to free market economics. It was respectful and fun: two Kudlow trademarks.

Larry dove into the Michael Vick controversy, talking about his and Mrs. Kudlow's great love for dogs. The Governor said "we believe in redemption" and that Vick has paid his time. And that those who've done time are encouraged to return to the legal aspects of their lives. Larry reflected on the part redemption has played in his life. And I was forced to confront my unformed opinions on redemption. It was a great moment. I also know we have some dear friends in the City of Brotherly Love.

...but in the end, I was really happy to watch Vick get his ass kicked. I guess I'm a very bad man.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)
But Lisa M thinks:

Don't feel bad jk. Down here in Philly, "redemption" means a quarterback in town that may finally bring us a Superbowl Championship. Especially when uttered by Ed Rendell.

And speaking of our illustrious Guv, his "wussy" remarks almost universally fell flat here as we watched whiteout conditions where the game was supposed to be played Sunday night. Nanny state liberals only care about the "wussification" of America when it interferes with them watching real men play a manly sport from the comfort of their heated and catered club boxes.

Posted by: Lisa M at December 29, 2010 9:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Long as you're not offended...and I think Brother ac is on the boat. I think I got away with this one.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2010 10:32 AM

December 28, 2010

Malthusian Proven Wrong

Ho, hum. Dog bites man. Once again, a gloom-and-doomer has to pay off a bet:

Five years ago, Matthew R. Simmons and I bet $5,000. It was a wager about the future of energy supplies -- a Malthusian pessimist versus a Cornucopian optimist -- and now the day of reckoning is nigh: Jan. 1, 2011

The noteworthy elements are one, that it appears Simmons will actually pay up. Most of those guys are welchers. And, two, that it was reported in The New York Times. John Tierney. I have the occasional disagreement with Tierney, but he is something of a Stosselesque figure at the Times. I wonder if MoDo hides his coffee cup.
I took him up on it, not because I knew much about Saudi oil production or the other "peak oil" arguments that global production was headed downward. I was just following a rule learned from a mentor and a friend, the economist Julian L. Simon.

As the leader of the Cornucopians, the optimists who believed there would always be abundant supplies of energy and other resources, Julian figured that betting was the best way to make his argument. Optimism, he found, didn't make for cover stories and front-page headlines.

No matter how many cheery long-term statistics he produced, he couldn't get as much attention as the gloomy Malthusians like Paul Ehrlich, the best-selling ecologist. Their forecasts of energy crises and resource shortages seemed not only newsier but also more intuitively correct. In a finite world with a growing population, wasn't it logical to expect resources to become scarcer and more expensive?


These markets and innovation thingies have just got to run out someday...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2010

Why is Ricky Gervais an Atheist?

Another question I didn't know I needed the answer to is, "Who is Ricky Gervais?" But the internet dropped it in my lap so I read it. There are some funny lines. Like this:

So what does the question "Why dont you believe in God?" really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking "what makes you so special?" "How come you werent brainwashed with the rest of us?" "How dare you say Im a fool and Im not going to heaven, f--- you!"

Not necessarily as deep as Christopher Hitchens but more fun.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2010

Liberalism vs, Liberty

Okay, so it's a screed -- it's a damn good screed! Michael A Walsh suggests "What this country needs is a crop of healthy, hunger-free kids -- and now, thanks to the hectoring of Michelle Obama and the terrible swift presidential pen of her husband, it has one: the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. No more fat kids is now the law of the land: Eat the broccoli; leave the cannoli."

From a land of yeoman farmers, not subjects but independent citizens of free will, the national ideal has been transformed by the left and its media stooges into a mewling aggregation of victimized, helpless special-interest groups. At what point will Americans finally rise up and say, "Enough!" to the political class of both parties?
[...]
Forget private-property rights or the rumblings in your belly. In Obama's America, you will no longer be allowed to freely make economic and nutritional decisions about how to feed yourself and your family. Somebody else -- the city, the state, the first lady -- will do that for you. After all, it's a matter of national security.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM | Comments (0)

May Etymology Rule

Blog friend tg plays with Google's Ngram, to trace the popularity of a word over time against the (substantive) Google corpora. I thought ThreeSourcers might dig "Communism:"

Word_Graph_Communism.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

Quantum Santa

The Randians don't say that there is necessarily no Santa -- they just want proof.

Quod Erat Demonstratum.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I can't necessarily speak for any other "Randians" but this one has no evidence that anything in existence is infinite.

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2010 1:24 PM

December 16, 2010

Quote of the Day

"We say 'Give me liberty or give me death!' But the minute that death approaches, we're willing to sell out liberty down the river and take our chances..." -- Megan McArdle (~3:10)
Posted by John Kranz at 4:45 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The only thing you had to say to get me to watch this was "S.E. Cupp is in it."

Some of these people can't possibly take themselves seriously. "The war on terror" is the greatest threat to free speech in this country? Look up "non-sequitur" mister 'The Onion' contributor.

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2010 1:10 PM

December 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

"There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved if you let someone get rich doing it." -- Don Luskin (~0:44):
Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Quote of the Year nominee?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2010 10:55 AM
But jk thinks:

No argument here. I was thinking of a T-shirt with Don's picture and the quote.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 2:07 PM

December 13, 2010

Philosophical Woot!

Blog friend Sugarchuck turned me on to Michael Novak's The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Pardon if I have mentioned it too frequently, I enjoyed it on many levels.

I thought of it reading this superb column in The American by Arthur C Brooks and Peter Wehner: Human Nature and Capitalism.

The authors enumerate three views of human nature (Rousseau, Hobbes, Madison) and suggest that one's economic and political outlook will be indelibly colored by it. I'm not going to excerpt, it is short and powerful. If you read one thing today...

Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2010

jk Vs. Justice Scalia

Though I love the last chapter to FA Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty," my last measurable appreciation for conservatism qua conservatism is affection for Justice Antonin Scalia, "Nino." He was majority wrong in Raich and minority wrong in Lawrence, but the humor, candor and intellectual rigor in his opinions make me hold him among the best who have ever worn the robe.

We have not discussed the Colombia Professor Incest case. Probably the rest of you lack my indecorousness. But the trends of freedom show at the margins and the clarity of philosophy is found in its extremes. So as the great legal scholar Johnny Mercer said, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

This case is creepy on steroids. But on what legal principle does one object? In ThreeSources parlance: what manner of sexual behavior are we prepared to let the state dictate? Ann Althouse quotes from Scalia's dissent in Lawrence to give him an amicus i-told-you-so:

Apart from the fact that such an "emerging awareness" does not establish a "fundamental right," the statement is factually false. States continue to prosecute all sorts of crimes by adults "in matters pertaining to sex": prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography.

To be helpful, Althouse places bold face tags around every occurrence of "adult incest." And, to be fair, Althouse teaches Constitutional law; I post guitar videos on the Internet.

But I object because I cannot see valid "consent." A parent and child have a lifelong hierarchical relationship. It may moderate at majority, but it does not dissolve. Even without the question of blood incest, I made the same argument when the sick pedophile gifted filmmaker Woody Allen started banging his kin.

The Columbia case is repugnant for incest, but it is wrong and legal prosecutable because of intrinsic coercion.

Slippery slopers are legitimate to present the reductio ad absurdum of the liberalities they oppose. And I am by no means ready to make a brave stand in support of non-coercive adult incest (nor am I ruling it out). But I am not giving Nino the victory lap on this that Professor Althouse is. We can keep our governmental noses out of bedrooms and still prosecute this particular twisted bastard.

UPDATE: Interesting thoughts from Eugene Volkh, who is much closer to the Constitutional Law Professor side than the Internet Guitarist Side of things.

(1) Should it be illegal, and, if so, exactly why? Is it just because its immoral? Because legalizing incest would, by making a future sexual relationship more speakable and legitimate, potentially affect the family relationship even while the child is underage (the view to which I tentatively incline)? Because it involves a heightened risk of birth defects (a view I'm skeptical about, given that we dont criminalize sex by carriers of genes that make serious hereditary disease much more likely than incest does)?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Sequel: KA vs. Justice Breyer.

Breyer, in his semi-infinite wisdom, announced this weekend that he's discovered out of thin air that Madison included the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights solely as a gimmick to get the States to ratify the Constitution, and therefore, he feels no obligation to uphold the Second Amendment right for civilian to own firearms.

Behold the fords of the Rubicon River.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 13, 2010 1:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I watched the same interview (surely FOXNewsSunday is required viewing for the VRWC).

I writhed in visceral pain at several of his answers. Yet it confirmed my appreciation for the legislative branch and its possible role as a backstop to the erosion of liberty.

I went on Amazon to buy his book but some of the Publisher's notes cooled me. I may or may not and would love reviews from the stronger willed.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2010 2:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In an unguarded moment of flippancy I would say the Columbia professor is guilty by the fact that he is a Columbia professor.

OK, I'll bite.

So you are saying Scalia was wrong to conclude it is in the interest of the state (one of the fifty, not federal statute) to "promote a majoritarian sexual morality?"

I disagree. (Yes I, of the "don't legislate morality" school.) At least, that is, to the extent of publicity - obscene acts in private are no longer obscenity. But then we have bigamy blurring the line. In effect what results is "don't ask, don't tell" in private behavior. If one (or more) of the consenting adults has a change of heart and decides to make a legal case against another the court should throw it out as hearsay. But if the neighbor sees you through an unobstructed window, it's obscenity and the court may act.

It's a tenth amendment issue. If you don't like sex in Texas, have sex somewhere else. As a federal law, however, the Constitution can only be read to allow individual freedom on this non-enumerated-power issue.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2010 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

The Internet Segue machine, in the person of one Glenn Reynolds, tries to tie these threads together. Ridiculing Justice Breyer's suggestion that DC sportsmen get on the subway to enjoy their Second Amendment rights in Maryland, Insty says:

Wow, that solves all sorts of problems. You want an abortion, or a school without government sponsored prayer? Get on the subway! Desegregated schools? Same thing! (Why didn’t the Supreme Court think of that in Bolling v. Sharpe? — Oh, right, no subway back then. See, this is why people oppose mass transit. It’s an end-run around the Bill Of Rights . . . .)

With the obligatory heh, that's why I must line up against you and Nino. I would not ask Ms. Loving to move out of Virginia so she can marry a white feller, I am not going to ask Big Gay Al to leave the Lone Star state.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2010 3:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Would the voters or the legislatures of Virginia or Texas, or any other state, outlaw interracial marriage or open homosexuality today? No. But would federal prohibitions have stopped those states from doing so back in the day? The American Civil War tells me no on that count too.

I get the double standard over federal prohibition of some state laws and not others. Where to bifurcate? I tried to do so at the point of my neighbor's nose. I still think that holds up:

Legal abortion as an NFL halftime show? No way. In a private clinic? Check.

"Brotherly love" with a few barnyard animals mixed in to spice it up on a Times Square sidewalk? Call the cops! In your own soundproof apartment with the curtains drawn? If you say so.

"Playing house" with more than one "wife?" Consenting adults. Asking for a family insurance policy to cover more than one of them? One per customer, mister.

Can't bring your guns out of the house with you? Now you're getting on the wrong side of MY nose.

Here's a test for you: What is the recourse of your system for blatantly obscene acts in public parks, for example - grin and bare it? ("Don't look kids. You'll only encourage them.") I guess we could all gather around and point and laugh, but wouldn't that eventually be called a "hate crime?"

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2010 3:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not talking about public display at all: private, consensual behavior. (I do not extend consent to the barnyard or to offspring, tough).

Incest and polygamy are always held up as the decrepit endpoints of the slippery slope, but I share your conviction that a truly consensual arrangement is okay.

Loving v Virginia was decided in 1967 and I think it is an important codification of the recognition of more liberal values. I'm similarly hard-pressed to disagree with Lawrence.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2010 4:43 PM

December 9, 2010

How Economics Saves Christmas

Art Carden updates the tale:

He asked and he questioned the whole thing's legality
Then his eyes brightened: he screamed "externality!

He reached for his textbooks; he knew what to do
He'd fight them with ideas from A.C. Pigou
This idea has merit, he thought in the frost
A tax that was equal to external cost
At the margin, would give all the Who girls and boys
An incentive to stop all their screaming and noise
Failing that, an injunction to make them all cease
And they'd have to pay him to have their Roast Beast.


Good stuff -- hat-tip: Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 7:35 PM | Comments (0)

SIng, Little Piggy, Sing!

I also posted this on Facebook. Sometimes I think we just need to remind the collectivists how much government tends to suck.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Special bonus track if you buy the box set:

WASHINGTON -- In an unintended consequence of the new health care law, drug companies have begun notifying childrens hospitals around the country that they no longer qualify for large discounts on drugs used to treat rare medical conditions.

As a result, prices are going up for these specialized "orphan drugs," some of which are also used to treat more common conditions.


I wish I could make stuff like this up. To extend discount drugs to rural clinics and political uses -- without breaking the bank -- we're going to take the money from sick children. Fell the caring! Feel it!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

December 7, 2010

Quote of the Day

"A hero is somebody who understands the responsibility that comes with their freedom." -- Bob Dylan
Courtesy of juststrings.com
Posted by John Kranz at 6:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2010

Don't Bother

Whenever I find myself trying to reason with someone who holds a relativistic worldview I am reminded of the Ayn Rand quote, "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence cannot be swayed by it. They cannot help you. Leave them alone."

Robert Heinlein said the same thing but, as usual, more poetically. I think from now on I may just end those frustrating conversations by linking to this.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:19 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Okay. So there are three good ones...

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2010 10:28 AM
But jk thinks:

Four.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2010 10:43 AM

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiviing!

From Reason.tv

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well done, JK - I've always been a fan of Bradford's solution, but this drives the point home well.

A joyous Thanksgiving to you and to all the ThreeSourcers; our exchanges on this site are something high on my list of things for which I am grateful...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 25, 2010 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks I'm quite thankful for y'all as well!

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2010 10:19 PM

November 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

The important point is that Progressives are never wrong. Top-down reform is the only way to fix the health care system. Anthropogenic global warming is scientifically proven, and its solution requires strenuous exercise of political control over individual behavior. Deficit spending is necessary and sufficient to create jobs. Technocrats can make banks too regulated to fail. Markets without technocratic control are like adolescents without adult supervision. Individual happiness can be improved by political authorities using scientific knowledge. Concentrated political power is the wave of the future, and it is good. -- ThreeSources Favorite, Arnold Kling
Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2010

Hayek and Bacon

Not Selma and Francis Scott! Friedrich August and the porcine perfection that has taken this country by storm.

Professor Reynolds links to "A Tidy Tool fro Frying Bacon" on Amazon's Al Dente Blog. Take ten minutes and read the comments coast-to-coast.

One might think it ranks among the simplest of cooking tasks. Yet there are dozens of methods described using almost as many different tools. None include mine, which is to buy the strips prepackaged in a microwave bag.

Imagine if we were to allow Doctors the same creativity permitted to individual bacon chefs...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Is bacon still legal? Damn, I guess we've still got it pretty good in this country after all.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2010 2:36 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

And for when things go bad, we've still got your bacon covered. After being unavailable for two decades, bacon can be had by survivalists:

http://www.campingsurvival.com/yocaba.html

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 4, 2010 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Plus, every can of that you have after the second Obama term can be traded for probably 100 rounds of ammo....

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2010 5:31 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jk, if this theoretical "second Obama term" of which you speak is as bad as some say, you'd be partially right. The ammo can get you the bacon, but don't think of it as legal tender as the medium of exchange. Think of it more like a credit card: you show the weapon, you get the bacon.

Apocalyptic jesting aside, don't be surprised if the next person to abandon the Obama administration is Hillary. The press could smell blood in the water at yesterday's press conference, and if they could smell it, the Hildabeast surely could. She's a shark par excellence, and if she senses sufficient weakness, she'll see 2012 as her biological clock's last call for a primary challenge.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 4, 2010 7:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, that prognostication just fell by the wayside. The Hildabeast announced she will not seek the Presidency in 2012.

Obviously, the Hildabeast reads ThreeSources, and felt the need to quash the rumor.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 5, 2010 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

And a Clinton would never go back on his/her word. So that story's over.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2010 9:53 PM

October 25, 2010

When Governments make Guitars

Anyone who doubts the free market's superiority will be forced to play a couple sets using the Jolana Star guitar, "made in Czechoslovakia during the Iron Curtain days."

jolana_star_guitar.jpg

Kinda makes their cars and dowdy overcoats look good by comparison...

Hat-tip: JustStrings.com (Great content on Facebook)

UPDATE: Okay, but can we all agree this is bad?

gore-o-caster

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (5)
But sugarchuck thinks:

Dude, where can we get one of those. That guitar looks awesome! (no sarcasm)

Posted by: sugarchuck at October 25, 2010 8:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I've known this guy since the 5th Grade. I had no idea he was a Communist!

Okay, man, to each his own but promise me you'll use it for slide, I see the fret wires' shredding hands.

(And, yes, I almost said "put a few Jason Lollars on it..." but I think I'll pass.) I don't know where you buy one: yugoguitars.com?

Posted by: jk at October 26, 2010 10:55 AM
But jk thinks:

In Brother sc's defense, the comments on FB are running 3-1 in favor.

Posted by: jk at October 26, 2010 11:01 AM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Are you kidding...think David Lindley or Jimmy Reed or heaven's to Betsy, but you've got to love that guitar. For those interested, Eastwood guitars has made reissues of lots of old, oddball axes and they are supposed to be excellent. Harmony guitars are also back and reissuing the old models. One of the very best guitars I've ever had was a Harmony Meteor I bought for $100 because it looked funky and junky. I love funky and junky so wrap it up hoss. I'll take it.

Posted by: sugarchuck at October 26, 2010 11:08 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can only say, based on appearance, that I didn't see what was so objectionable in the first place. It doesn't have exposed rivet heads or anything like that.

Posted by: johngalt at October 26, 2010 2:34 PM

October 21, 2010

Three Sources' first bumper sticker!

Here are some new design efforts, presented in order of creation.

1) coexist1.jpg

2) coexist2.jpg

3) coexist3b.jpg

1 & 2 are 3" x 10", 3 is 4" x 6". 1 and 3 include URL. (I know which one is my favorite.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:05 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Virginia Postrel call your office!

I confess I was not that into this project with the first design but I like all three of these a lot. I guess I vote 3, 1, 2 (isn't that Chicago?)

Posted by: jk at October 21, 2010 10:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the designs have improved, and the abuses of those demanding the unearned have only intensified. Beside this, most of us will need some new stickers for our cars on November 3rd.

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2010 10:40 AM

October 18, 2010

Viva Libertario!

This is good for a 10 day moratorium on big-L lib bashing:


Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2010

Capitalism Saved the Miners

Dan Henninger expands his video from yesterday in an editorial today.

Twenty five years ago, he asserts, anywhere on Earth, those miners would have died. What changed?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit.

This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Government: "Hey, that thing got all its approvals in order? Any chemicals known to cause cancer in the state of California used in its manufacture? Sorry, can't use it."

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2010 2:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yeah, and the EPA would have demanded an environmental impact statement. The Sierra Club would be suing for an injunction to send the miners back down until the study could be completed in about 2014. President Obama would be demanding that the drill be run with alternative fuels to stop global warming. You just can't be too safe.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 14, 2010 4:31 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

One other thing, if it's not obvious: the mine collapse was George Bush's fault.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 14, 2010 4:33 PM
But jk thinks:

The capsule clearly could not accomodate a wheelchair. I'm filing an ADA suit. How long can guys like me be kept out of the mines by 19th Century bogorty?

Posted by: jk at October 14, 2010 6:34 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Allow me to recommend this interesting post on the Corner:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/249926/what-are-top-ten-reasons-theres-no-such-thing-shovel-ready-jobs-anymore-jonah-goldberg

Posted by: Lisa M at October 15, 2010 7:39 PM

October 13, 2010

Revisiting Ohio

More on the Kent State shooting and the forensic examination of the audio tape, from Robert F. Turner who served two tours in Vietnam.

The tape captures one voice saying: "They got somebody," and a few seconds later, male voices shout: "Kill him!" Kill him!" There is then the sound of a .38 caliber revolver shot, followed by a female voice: "Whack that [expletive]!" Three more handgun shots ring out at about five-second intervals, and soon thereafter - in just 13 tragic seconds - 29 of the 77 guardsmen fire a total of 67 rifle shots that are to help seal the fate of the non-communist people of Indochina.

Poor little flower children. Mean old Governor. Bad guns.

But more important than ridiculing Neil Young, Turner puts it into the larger context of the US's abandoning South Vietnam. I have held two extreme positions on Vietnam in my life. I was brought up in Neilyoungland, and if all the cute hippie chicks thought we should leave, then clearly we should.

Later, realizing the menace of Communism, seriously appraising the aftermath, and speaking with those who escaped, I later became ashamed of the abandonment of a noble cause.

Reading Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, I think they were screwed after the Diem coup. I'm not sure there were any good answers left. And nobody can accuse me of reflexively defending LBJ or RMN. Hard damn times.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Hard damn times? While so many people were mad at Nixon for Watergate, I was mad at him for his wage and price controls and for abandoning our friends in Taiwan. Fast forward to a more recent administration, while the nutty left was flipping out at W for Iraq, Halliburton, and being what they called a raging right-wing fascist, I was taking issue with the first bailout and for pre-socializing the economy. Presidents are sooooooo misunderstood.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 13, 2010 3:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm starting to think we are the same person. Funny how you never see us together...

That's my line: "Don't hate Nixon for Watergate; hate Nixon for the EPA and wage/price controls!"

I was surprised to read in Chris Matthews's "Kennedy and Nixon" (4.5 stars no matter who wrote it) that Democrat-Gov-SecTreas John Connally is to blame. Commanding Heights seems to agree:

Further reinforcement of the pressures toward control came with the recruitment of former Texas Democratic governor John Connally to fill the critical slot of Treasury secretary. The forceful Connally had no philosophical aversion to controls. Indeed he did not seem to have strong feelings one way or the other on economic policy. "I can play it round or I can play it flat," he would say. "Just tell me how to play it." What Connally did like was the dramatic gesture, the big play; and grabbing inflation by the neck and shaking it out of the system would be such a move.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2010 4:34 PM

October 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? -- Publius, Federalist #62
"It poisons the blessing of liberty itself" Read the whole thing if you can keep from weeping. Madison knew; we just did not listen.

Hat-tip: Clayton Cramer via Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The founders had an advantage - in their day there was but one Alexander Hamilton. Today our government is rife with his clones, and they've been exposed to the same gamma rays as Dr. Bruce Banner.

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2010 4:40 PM

October 7, 2010

Demagoguery

Okay, I've been rough on the Reason folk of late. So I must admit that the November 2010 issue has a good story: How to Slash the State: 14 ways to dismantle a monstrous government, one program at a time.

I'd sing "Boomer Sooner" in my underwear to make any of 13 of them a reality. It's a great list, and represents a serious libertarian manifesto. But --

[but you don't know the lyrics?]

No, but -- it is one thing to write a magazine article and another to enact legislation through a populace that is somewhat enamored with government, and a system that has been tuned to respond to populist emotions.

As a registered Republican, I am supposed to be having the time of my life in a run up to a Tsunami of GOP victories. As a little-l libertarian, I'm supposed to enjoy a focus on Constitutional issues and the championing of limited government. Yet the demagoguery I witness on TV every day has convinced me that nothing I believe in will be championed.

Certainly nothing on Reason's Top 14 has a chance. Any candidate in any district who called for any of that would be pilloried. I guess it's happening everywhere, but the commercials against Ken Buck for Senate are astonishing. We are frequently reminded that he's "Too Extreme for Colorado!" For items that would not get an eye bat on ThreeSources. Sadly, he's not running on repealing the 17th Amendment or consumption tax (not that I've seen). Yet "He's going to slash the corporate tax to zero -- and add 23% to everything you buy!" and "He's going to REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION and take away your right to vote!!"

I just imagine the ads if a candidate came out against Davis-Bacon (Number 10 with a bullet!) or said we should abolish the Department of Energy (#9) or Erase Federal Education Spending (#3). We're never ever ever going to have an intelligent discussion on any of those.

Swell party, but I'm crying in my Plymouth martini.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:24 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

While knocking on doors yesterday to sign up Republican voters for mail-in ballots I met and talked to a Democrat couple. Mostly listened to the man, getting a low tax, pro-market comment in whenever he paused. Then the woman walked up and, in response to my Ken Buck T-shirt, said, "Buck sucks." To disarm her I said, "On abortion I agree with you." Then she said, "What about Social Security? He wants to abolish that too, doesn't he?" So Buck's opponents have been effective at villifying the man. I gave her a packet of Republican propaganda and suggested she read what he says about himself then she could throw it away.

I don't worry as much about the Reason guys not being happy with the GOP agenda as I do about polls [click "government services" category] that show "all adults" polled are evenly split on the more/less government services question but over 70% believe that Medicare, Social Security and federal school aid are "very important."

Stop demanding the unearned, people!

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2010 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

NED bless your fine efforts.

RRRRR! All the anti-Buck commercials are awful (how could anbody possibly craft a pro-Bebbet spot?). But the Social Security one deserves a Dante-ring of its own.

I have heard a ton of SS reform proposals but I have yet to hear of one that cuts present benefits a single dime. An old lady worries on the DNSC spot that her income will be "CUT IN HALF!" if Ken Buck is elected. And an old guysays "I don't see how anybody over 65 could think of voting for Ken Buck."

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2010 1:37 PM

September 10, 2010

Mencken the Mensch!

H.L. Mencken, to me, is a Bartlett staple. You see all these clever quotes and they are usually attributed to Mark Twain, Samuel Johnson, or H.L. Mencken. The one I've been enjoying of late is " Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." The man died not knowing what an Obama was and yet wrote that (I suspect as a Baltimore resident, he likely knew a Pelosi or two).

Damon Root as Reason reviews a new release of his "Prejudices." My literate blog betters are probably way ahead of me, but I did not know the depth of his devotion to liberty and -- specifically -- his aversion to majoritarianism.

Whether he was denouncing alcohol prohibition (the criminal, in the public eye, is not the bootlegger and certainly not his customer, but the enforcement officer), moral crusader Anthony Comstock (a good woman, to him, was simply one who was efficiently policed), or government itself (in any dispute between a citizen and the government, it is my instinct to side with the citizen), the overriding theme of the series remained steady: individual liberty versus the tyranny of the majority.

Nor is this some kind of Glenn Beck/jk roadside conversion. He was there at the birth. And he fought it.
Take Menckens horror at the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, which he called the Wilson hallucination. Under the terms of Wilsons Espionage Act of 1917, it became illegal to criticize the U.S. government during wartime. Among the victims of this vile law was the radical union leader and Socialist Party presidential candidate Eugene Debs, who spent three years rotting in federal prison for delivering an anti-war speech. Facing strong pressure to pardon Debs once the Great War was over, liberal hero Wilson flatly refused. Magnanimity was simply beyond him, Mencken wrote. Confronted, on his death-bed, with the case of poor Debs, all his instincts compelled him to keep Debs in jail. Mencken was no fan of Debs left-wing politics, of course; Mencken once described the typical Progressive as one who is in favor of...more paternalism and meddling, more regulation of private affairs and less liberty. He simply hated government criminality in all its ugly forms.

Giants. Innumerable giants.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:09 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

Leftism at its heart holds that a small percentage of humans have a vastly superior understanding of everything compared to ordinary people. The point of leftism is to empower these superior individuals to impose their superior understanding upon society by the force of the state. Leftists must be viewed by themselves and others as superior human beings if they are to have a claim to a power and status. -- Shannon Love
Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis. Part of a smart piece on "status anxiety" as a foundation of Palin hatred.
Posted by John Kranz at 3:55 PM | Comments (1)
But Lisa M thinks:

As a corollary to that quote, I'd venture that many liberal drones who parrot the party line do so because they believe "I agree with the smart guy, ergo I ARE smart!"

Posted by: Lisa M at September 10, 2010 9:22 PM

September 6, 2010

Philosophie

I'm going to riff on the ideas of a very good friend of this blog. I'm going to do it without attribution as I fear that I'll get it wrong or present it poorly rather than intellectual theft.

Pure libertarianism and pure communalism, sayeth my sagacious bud are both built on the ideal of pre-lapserian man. Each is undone by sin (the word "sin" gets nine mentions in six years at ThreeSources, not a real frequent topic 'round here).

I was thinking of this as I continue my plod through Caro's "Master of the Senate" as the rapaciousness of its subject (one Lyndon Baines Johnson) continues to astonish.

It strikes me that the existence of predatory and rapacious individuals remains a pretty good argument for Conservatism. A benefit of an organized society is the identification, mitigation and sometimes removal of these individuals (when we don't make them President, that is...)

In Series Seventeen of my Constitutional Republic vs. Anarcho Capitalism discussion with Perry, It is suggested that I hire my own constabulary if I want police protection. Among other concerns, I ask both "What rights will I have against search and intimidation by other people's private police forces?" and "Over how large a sphere will we be able to trace the predators?" If my block is patrolled by my crack team of ex Israeli soldiers and supermodels and AlexC's by his goons, and Perry just sits on his front porch with a .30-06, a rapacious individual can go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction -- no wait, there are no jurisdictions -- from area to area committing crimes until he is shot or falls in love with the town librarian and starts a boys' band.

It's a valid exercise for a guy who calls himself a libertarian to defend government, but the regularity and contiguousness of law in the United States is a great benefit. And it is one that cannot be bought by a few individuals without government power. You know I wish it did not come with agricultural subsidies, the FDA and now ObamaCare®. But I remain comfortable choosing the "mend it don't end it" route.

Madison said it all and better in #51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:21 AM | Comments (19)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The first is self interest. The market is an amazing vehicle for channeling self interest towards constructive and mutually beneficial ends - but it is not perfect. Man is irrational. And jealous. Moreover, the interests of one man often conflict. If the benefits of the market are not obvious and immediate, or if the man in question is simply stupid, lazy, or otherwise disadvantaged, or if he believes that his interests are in conflict with those of another, it is all to easy for him to slide into behavior less virtuous than the mutually beneficent market transaction. Six million years of evolution has preconditioned us to lie, cheat, thieve and murder. And all too often these things offer a reward that outstrips the treasurer made by juster means."

A couple of things: markets aren't perfect, but it isn't because the mechanism of voluntary trade isn't perfect. The principle of two parties coming to peaceful, mutual agreement IS, in fact, perfect. Markets as a whole are imperfect only because information is not. Let's say I buy a trinket in Chinatown for $10 because I didn't know someone a block away is selling the same thing for $9. That's not a failing of "the market," but of my failure to have all information. And it may not have been a failure anyway. Maybe I'm in a hurry and the other one is out of my way, and the dollar was less important than saving several minutes to search and backtrack.

One of the most important points of Gordon Tullock and James Buchanan's public choice theory, contradicting the naive notion of "public service," is that people remain just as self-interested when they go into government work. Everything you've said here about human nature is why governments begin in the first place. Those people who don't, or cannot, live in peaceful cooperation with others must employ force to get what they want. In fact, this negative behavior is amplified, for government officials (elected or unelected) can get more than they could as individuals, and any dirty work (e.g. arrests and the underlying use of force for not paying taxes) is done for them.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 9, 2010 12:15 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Perry-


Never said that government should provide for the sick, stop drugs, prevent crime, etc. My point was that once communities lose the capacity to deal with these challenges on their own the government tends to step in and deal with it for them. It follows that those concerned with size and largess of our government should do all in their power to strengthen community institutions, associations, and social mores, thus pre-empting the role the state claims as its own.

To say it another way: if people are already caring for Welfare Juanita because they believe it is the right thing to do, because they face social censure if they do not, or because there are private charities devoted to such causes, force will never enter the equation.

.


I concede that "The principle of two parties coming to peaceful, mutual agreement IS, in fact, perfect." I also agree that lack of information impairs markets systems. I have but one thing to add: even if information was perfect and complete the potential for imperfectness would remain. Data collection is not enough; we also must interpret the data we receive. As humans are prone to force new information into preconceived categories and narratives and use their reasoning abilities to confirm what they want to believe the potential for errors in interpretation are huge.

This is an argument against government as much as it is against markets, however. At its base it is an argument against power. If we cannot count on man to make rational decisions, it is best to ensure that any one man's decisions will impact the smallest number of people possible.

Is anarchism the best way to do this?

I remain unconvinced. The main example you call upon is the early American colonists - but they were not anarchists in any meaningful sense. They were subject to plenty of laws that would make modern libertarians balk: fines for missing Church; stockades for public displays of affection; pillories for drunkenness.

The early colonists were "free" in the TR's sense of the word: self-reliant and autonomous. They did not need London's help to build barns, plant crops, or protect themselves from Indian raids. But they were far from living without government.

You said earlier:

Everything you've said here about human nature is why governments begin in the first place. Those people who don't, or cannot, live in peaceful cooperation with others must employ force to get what they want.

And this is why I have little faith in anarchism's ability to distribute power or preserve liberties. Perhaps my view on this is colored by my recent readings - I am midway through Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It tells the story of the Han dynasty's dissolution and the kingdoms that rose from its ashes. The first 500 pages of the book are nothing but intrigues among the generals and officers who served the Han. Bribes here, poisonings there, battles everywhere - slowly we watch a small group of hungry-power men attract other men just as viscous and cruel as themselves to their cause, conquering and killing until one war lord is strong enough to defeat all others and impose his will upon the land. And do you know who the winner is? The villain. The book is based on real history; Luo Guanzhong could not change the fact that his heroes, wise and virtuous to a man, are eventually defeated by the warlords most willing terrorize their way to victory.

Who prevailed in the anarchy of the French revolution? Or a century later, what type of men came to power when the Russian tsars were deposed? Real anarchy, particularly when inflicted upon a people grown accustomed to serfdom (as have our fellow subjects in the USA), is the playground of tyrants and terrorists. What promise can it hold for our future?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 9, 2010 3:58 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Never said that government should provide for the sick, stop drugs, prevent crime, etc. My point was that once communities lose the capacity to deal with these challenges on their own the government tends to step in and deal with it for them.
Governments don't come into existence on their own. Governments come into existence because people -- minority or majority -- form them. Whether it's a king, or a community deciding to forcibly extract resources

You're saying, essentially, "Well, it happens." Fine, but do you say that it's right?

It follows that those concerned with size and largess of our government should do all in their power to strengthen community institutions, associations, and social mores, thus pre-empting the role the state claims as its own.
And a fat lot of good that does, when people have things like the right to vote for redistributing my property to themselves. It's easier for them to sit back and rely on a government, instead of talking to me and getting my consent. So it comes back to the problem that there is any form of government in the first place.
To say it another way: if people are already caring for Welfare Juanita because they believe it is the right thing to do, because they face social censure if they do not, or because there are private charities devoted to such causes, force will never enter the equation.
Good luck with that. If there's any political apparatus that doesn't require people to exert full effort, then they simply won't. Government started to condition people into believing that it could "supplement" what private individuals couldn't do, and so private charity did less.

It works on the receiving end also. Obviously, when there's no government to take care of her, Welfare Juanita will be encouraged to a job and/or have fewer kids. She might not necessarily, but she won't have the forced support of Other People's Money.

I concede that "The principle of two parties coming to peaceful, mutual agreement IS, in fact, perfect." I also agree that lack of information impairs markets systems. I have but one thing to add: even if information was perfect and complete the potential for imperfectness would remain. Data collection is not enough; we also must interpret the data we receive. As humans are prone to force new information into preconceived categories and narratives and use their reasoning abilities to confirm what they want to believe the potential for errors in interpretation are huge.
This is getting into Israel Kirzner's economic theory of the Kirznerian entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is a risk-bearer, as Schumpeter said, but also has a comparative advantage in information. The successful entrepreneur is better prepared to receive information as well as be right about how to use it, and it's through his self-interested actions that a market is pushed toward equilibrium.
This is an argument against government as much as it is against markets, however. At its base it is an argument against power. If we cannot count on man to make rational decisions, it is best to ensure that any one man's decisions will impact the smallest number of people possible.
Consider what you're saying here. People can and do make plenty of rational decisions all the time, though. Strictly speaking, a "rational" decision is one that was not made with systematic error. Let's say I'm really busy and have just 15 minutes to grab lunch and be back at my desk, so it's not the monetary cost of this Italian restaurant but that lunch there would take an hour. Thus getting Chinese or halal food is a rational decision. Irrational is if government required me to take an hour, no matter what, so that I couldn't get a quick lunch and keep working. If my employer made the irrational choice of forcing me to take an hour, then I wouldn't finish my work, and the market would eventually take care of it. There's no such possibility with government.

And how do you propose to limit a person's influence on others? That can be accomplished only by force, and that means someone decides "how much is too much." What about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, whose innovations affected the whole globe? Those affected me positively. What about OPEC cutting production, which affects me negatively though doesn't force me in any way?

If you're talking about negatively affecting others, you cannot actively prevent harm to others. You can only punish it, and the threat of punishment becomes a deterence.

Is anarchism the best way to do this?
The alternative is government, and you cannot have a government if you want a truly free people. Or do you care to admit that you don't really believe in full rights to life, liberty and property? Government is inherently all about taking away someone's freedom for the sake of others. If that person being taken from had been willing, then the government wouldn't have existed in the first place.
I remain unconvinced. The main example you call upon is the early American colonists - but they were not anarchists in any meaningful sense. They were subject to plenty of laws that would make modern libertarians balk: fines for missing Church; stockades for public displays of affection; pillories for drunkenness.
You're talking about Puritans, who hardly sought free societies. Schoolchildren are taught that they sought "religious freedom," which was about subjugating others to it.

Murray Rothbard recounted the anarchy of Pennsylvania, when people refused to pay taxes for several years yet still seemed to get things done. Heaven forbid Penn would have had to get honest work himself, instead of demanding tribute from others.

The early colonists were "free" in the TR's sense of the word: self-reliant and autonomous. They did not need London's help to build barns, plant crops, or protect themselves from Indian raids. But they were far from living without government.
Outside of religion-based cities, colonials did live in anarchy. Because they were used to it, and because their children grew up living in freedom, they were more than unused to the various governments that the Crown established over them.
And this is why I have little faith in anarchism's ability to distribute power or preserve liberties. Perhaps my view on this is colored by my recent readings - I am midway through Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It tells the story of the Han dynasty's dissolution and the kingdoms that rose from its ashes. The first 500 pages of the book are nothing but intrigues among the generals and officers who served the Han. Bribes here, poisonings there, battles everywhere - slowly we watch a small group of hungry-power men attract other men just as viscous and cruel as themselves to their cause, conquering and killing until one war lord is strong enough to defeat all others and impose his will upon the land. And do you know who the winner is? The villain. The book is based on real history; Luo Guanzhong could not change the fact that his heroes, wise and virtuous to a man, are eventually defeated by the warlords most willing terrorize their way to victory.
China is hardly an apt comparison to us. For all its thousands of years of civilization, it has never had a tradition of liberty. It also has never had a tradition of the people keeping themselves armed, so that they could resist tyrants.

So you're going to have anarchy where, yes, the evil strong will still try to prey on the weak. This ignores those who are good and also strong, who will defend the weak because they want to. What's the alternative? A government where it's legitimized that the strong will prey on the weak.

Who prevailed in the anarchy of the French revolution? Or a century later, what type of men came to power when the Russian tsars were deposed? Real anarchy, particularly when inflicted upon a people grown accustomed to serfdom (as have our fellow subjects in the USA), is the playground of tyrants and terrorists. What promise can it hold for our future?
That's utter horseshit. Neither revolution was anarchy, but one set of tyrants seizing rule over the previous one.

Re-read the three paragraphs from Bastiat, then get back to me. What right do my neighbors have to form a government and take my property, when they cannot do that themselves as individuals? Call it "practical" or "pragmatic," but it means that I am not truly free. Even the most limited of governments means that I must give up at least a little of my property, against my will, so that others can redistribute it.

No believer in peaceful anarchy, whether you call it anarchy-capitalism or rational anarchy, ever tells you it'll be a perfect world. But it's not like we live in a peaceful, perfect world anyway, right? Don't you want at least a fighting chance to live life on your own terms, instead of accepting a little bled from you in exchange for someone's promise of security that can never be delivered anyway?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2010 1:34 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

This is a place-holder. I will be really busy for the next 2 days so I probably will not get the chance to reply until then.

With that said, thanks for linking to the Mises article on Pennsylvania. It was interesting. I recommend all the others here read it too, if they have not already.

-T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at September 10, 2010 4:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Nice work, gents. What a joy to have this level of serious discussion. If I have not thanked everybody around here lately, let me do so.

I will share one story in favor of anarchy. Stossel showed a small city in the UK that had spent £800,000 on a computerized traffic system. They soon learned that traffic moved better during power outages. And finally consented to shutting it off. In the environment where we most expect structure, spontaneous order prevailed.

And yet, I can only sign on for limited anarchy. Which could be better called libertarianism or limited government.

I did enjoy the Rothbard Pennsylvania piece. But

I think it speaks to my side more than Perry's.
If for most of 1684-88 there was no colonywide government in existence, what of the local officials? Were they not around to provide that evidence of the state's continued existence, which so many people through the ages have deemed vital to man's very survival? The answer is no. The lower courts met only a few days a year, and the county officials were, again, private citizens who devoted very little time to upholding the law. No, the reality must be faced that the new, but rather large, colony of Pennsylvania lived for the greater part of four years in a de facto condition of individual anarchism, and seemed none the worse for the experience. Furthermore, the Assembly passed no laws after 1686, as it was involved in a continual wrangle over attempts to increase its powers and to amend, rather than just reject, legislation.

Missing was revenue for Wm. Penn and new legislative activity. But there were courts, there were local officials. So we are talking about extremely limited government but nonzero government.

The other maybe-too-obvious point is that this only lasted a few years and saw several attempts to ramp up control even in that short period. It seems the uncertainty of that would be difficult. And in the end, it became Bob Casey Jr.'s and Ed Rendell's Pennsylvania.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2010 7:55 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I will share one story in favor of anarchy. Stossel showed a small city in the UK that had spent £800,000 on a computerized traffic system. They soon learned that traffic moved better during power outages. And finally consented to shutting it off. In the environment where we most expect structure, spontaneous order prevailed.
This is similar to stoplight-free areas in Europe. Roads were designed so that they curved and merged, which took a little getting used to, but traffic moved better.

This isn't to say that stoplights aren't effective. Someone who owns a big piece of land and allows (charges) people to travel his roads could set up a stoplight system as he sees fit. People would then be free to travel his roads, or someone's design that eliminates stoplights.

And yet, I can only sign on for limited anarchy. Which could be better called libertarianism or limited government.
But in all this time, you cannot get around the one reason any amount of government is against freedom: someone, if only one person, is being forced to participate. If every last person in my town wanted the government, but I didn't, I'd still be forced to pay into a system I don't want.

Once again, a government exists for the simple fact that at least one person will not give up his rights to life, liberty and property. You can argue any point you want about this or that part of government being necessary, but you are arguing that I don't have, in fact that I can't be permitted to have my full rights. In arguing that any amount of government is necessary, you are saying that someone must be compelled to give up his life, liberty and property to the decisions of others.

Missing was revenue for Wm. Penn and new legislative activity. But there were courts, there were local officials. So we are talking about extremely limited government but nonzero government.
If you read it again, these were private individuals who served in official capacities but not as government employees. They weren't voted in. They gave up their own time to serve. They wielded no authority over others that had an inherent backing of force. This is the private council I've been talking about, where everyone involved has voluntarily agreed. They had no authority (and claimed none) over anyone who chose not to participate and was harming no one.
The other maybe-too-obvious point is that this only lasted a few years and saw several attempts to ramp up control even in that short period. It seems the uncertainty of that would be difficult. And in the end, it became Bob Casey Jr.'s and Ed Rendell's Pennsylvania.
Because, as Jefferson said, "The natural order of things is for Liberty to yield and government to gain ground." Today, people just aren't vigilant about liberty. Back then, people were more vigilant, but the Crown was too strong. Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 13, 2010 8:01 PM

September 3, 2010

A Libertarian case for Warmongering and Imperialism

A few years of Penn & Teller and John Stossel have pretty much converted me to doctrinaire libertarian positions on social issues.

I've never felt welcome in lib circles, however, because of my support of muscular foreign policy. I still hold that Dr. Deepak Lal is correct and that a truly global marketplace requires similarly global policing. My prospetarian support of the largest possible Ricardian economic sphere causes me to accept a bit of American Adventurism.

This does not sit well with Ron Paul Revolutionaries or the Editorial board of Reason.

Marc Theissen today takes President Obama at his word "Trillion Dollar War" and suggests that all of our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and all of the Mideast and Africa are covered by this figure. And that it represents less than 1% of GDP for the time period.

Seems to me that spending less than one cent on the dollar to stop another 9/11 is a pretty good investmentespecially when one considers the human and economic costs of another catastrophic mass-casualty attack.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | Comments (12)
But T. Greer thinks:

But the traditional American constitutional government was built for a radically different America - one with 298 less million people, no hegemonic empire facing threats from terrorists, no economy dominated by electronic financial transactions, ect. At which point does the structure have to change with the circumstances?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 4, 2010 1:30 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"I'm armed but happy to have the local constabulary keeping an eye on things. I like courts and I like our military's contribution to a Liberal International Economic Order."

So pay for them yourselves -- why must I be forced into them?

"My friends in Abilene can purchase cheaper goods and, as Thiessen suggests have a diminished chance of economic or physical disruption from terrorism."

Not necessarily. It's a big assumption that lumps everyone together when everyone's lives are not the same, and there's no equal benefit at all despite the taxation.

"I accept consent of the governed up to a certain much lower level of government."

Be very, very careful with what you're saying here. So you're saying that there ARE limits to your rights to your own property, because other people call themselves a "government" to legitimize taking from you.

Consent of every last person governed, yes. Consent of the "governed" meaning, what, a majority? Super-majority? As I've said before, the reason governments exist is because at least one person won't surrender himself to the rule of others.

"I generally play this against civil libertarians who are concerned that the government can see what books I read at the library."

It's not the only issue, but a government that can do that is powerful enough to control everything else in your life. A government with that power means that you're not free.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 4, 2010 1:30 PM
But jk thinks:

@tg: I flatly reject that we outgrew the Constitution. I think we allowed its protection to erode -- perhaps irrevocably. But there is nothing in your list which cannot be handled by a government that keeps its nose out. Jefferson dealt with the Barbary Pirates. Nothing about electronic transactions cries out for state control.

The scalability to size and population was a question, but I think we did okay.

@Perry: What to say? We are not free today (the Reason.tv moonshine clip about made me cry -- why did we give liberty away?) But nor would I feel free if I had to hire my own private police force.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2010 5:21 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@JK-

Never said 'state control' is what is needed. Just suggested that perhaps the existing constitutional structures, even if they were restored to their former glory, would not be the best instrument for the American people as they exist today.

The problem of scale is the most important on this count, I think. What was the ratio of population to representative in 1790? Not an exact figure, but somewhere rather close to 20,000 : 1. And what is it now? 690,000 : 1? Do you think the elected officials can truly represent the people - or know the people they are supposed to represent - when their constituents clock in at 2/3rds of a million? The founders would have balked at the idea.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 4, 2010 8:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I have read interesting suggestions that we radically increase the number of districts to better approximate founder's intent. While I would consider them, I think your scale argument misses a philosophical point (oh goody, here he goes...)

The key -- and reason I appreciate it so -- is representative democracy. I support all the Amendments that expanded the franchise, but a case can be made that we sampling voters not a plebiscite. For that reason, I think a large district does not preclude representation.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2010 9:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

JK has a good point. The Constitution played a large part in America's phenomenal prosperity. Unfortunately, the ghosts of Madison et. al. are not able to ensure that our neighbors in government follow the dictates of that constitution. The best they could do was leave it up to a Supreme Court, and we all know that hasn't always worked very well for us.

I don't believe we'll ever have PE's anarcho-capitalism but I think it is critical for him and others to continue advocating it. Practical government is shaped by theoretical ideas. We can, and should, agitate for contitional fidelity but government will evolve. It is up to people like us, through vehicles like the TEA Party movement, to make sure it evolves toward liberty instead of statism.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2010 9:54 AM

August 31, 2010

Hope. Change.

ThreeSourcers will dig Veronique DeRugy's optimistic take on "the Austrian school revival being led by George Mason University's Peter Boettke." It seems that ideas matter and that Austrian Economics might again be ascendant (the course is filled).

Ideas are what we are fighting for, no matter what's happening in Washington, no matter what the America people think at any given moment. It is because of our long conversations during the financial crisis, when I was depressed about my total inability to change things, especially in light of the resurgence of Keynesian economics, that I am still out here today fighting for free markets, for the power of the price system, and against centralization .

And that's why the Journal article made me so happy. We all remember how Glenn Beck, a few months ago, managed to put Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom on the Amazon bestseller list. That was great. However, no matter how powerful Glenn Beck is and how capable he is at popularizing some of Hayek's ideas, this moment can't be sustained without recognizing where the ideas come from. This movement is based on real ideas that are studied in academia by serious economists -- even when no one believes in them.


Awesome (and not much longer than the excerpt). Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

McQ recently had more than kind words about Austrian econ. This isn't just Mises and Hayek writing about abstract concepts of liberty. This is economic thought that explains why we're in such a mess.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 31, 2010 1:01 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

All you need to know to realize that Austrian economics is correct (and in fact dangerous to state-worshippers) is that Krugman called it "phlogiston." Doesn't that say it all? Keynesians blame recessions on "underconsumption" and exogenous factors like oil shocks. Austrian Business Cycle Theory is the only one that can explain every economic downturn in this country, and ABCT even explains the Dutch tulip mania. It's all about government policies that inflate money (physical or credit) and thus skew markets, just like we're seeing today.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 31, 2010 1:03 PM

August 27, 2010

Quote of the Day II

Now that we've been doing this whole democracy/republic thing for a few hundred years, it's time to assess where things didn't work out as planned. I mean, having all these useless, arrogant people spending like a third of all our incomes is obviously not what the Founding Fathers intended. If they found out about it, they'd probably just start firing their muskets everywhere in a total rage. And if they got their hands on some modern weaponry, who knows what damage they could do; just think of the lobby scene from The Matrix, but instead of Keanu Reeves, it's a royally pissed Ben Franklin. So it's probably good that the Founding Fathers are all dead, because we need cool heads to figure out how to fix things. -- Frank J. Fleming
He follows with an unusual method of Congressional reform.

Anti-Buck groups are running a funny (to me) scare spot: Ken Buck wants to REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! He want to have LEGISLATORS PICK SENATORS! I guess they only have thirty seconds, but they don't really mention that that was how it was designed and used for 120 years. That wacky Ken Buck -- what won't he think of next?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2010

Bill Gates Gave at the Office

Mark J. Perry links and likes Kimberly Dennis's excellent exegesis on the "Giving Pledge," adding that "A 2004 paper by Yale Economics Professor William D. Nordhaus concluded that 'only a minuscule fraction of the social returns from technological advances over the 1948-2001 period was captured by producers.'"

In that case, the total value created for society from Bill Gates's innovative activities, including starting Microsoft, far exceeds his own personal gain. In the process of creating benefits for billions of consumers around the globe, Gates has certainly amassed great wealth, but the vast majority of the benefits from Gates's innovative genius have already gone to consumers, as lives around the world have been changed for the better because of Microsoft products. By introducing technological changes that have profoundly and permanently affected the world in immeasurably positive ways, Gates has already generated billions of dollars worth of value for consumers in hundreds of countries, and should feel no obligation to "give back" any more.

Simply put, Gates has already "given at the office," and the contribution to society from his capitalist activities will likely dwarf the contribution to society from his charitable giving, as Kim Dennis suggests.

UPDATE: And the WSJ News Pages even come on board: The Case Against Social Responsibility,

Very simply, in cases where private profits and public interests are aligned, the idea of corporate social responsibility is irrelevant: Companies that simply do everything they can to boost profits will end up increasing social welfare. In circumstances in which profits and social welfare are in direct opposition, an appeal to corporate social responsibility will almost always be ineffective, because executives are unlikely to act voluntarily in the public interest and against shareholder interests.

Irrelevant or ineffective, take your pick. But it's worse than that. The danger is that a focus on social responsibility will delay or discourage more-effective measures to enhance social welfare in those cases where profits and the public good are at odds. As society looks to companies to address these problems, the real solutions may be ignored.


Somewhere, Milton & Rose Friedman are smiling...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Sadly, AEI's style guide does dot conform to the modern belief that Gates, like Moses and Jesus, gets a simple apostrophe for a singular posessive. I had hoped that that was catching on...

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 3:21 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Fret not, JK - we civilized writers stand firmly on the side of the apostrophe alone for the singular possessive, any time the name ends in an S, X, or Z (Gates', Vasquez'). Some of us even insist on the avoidance of the apostrophe for the plural form of acronyms and abbreviations (ATMs, AR-15s).

Anything else is, well, barbarian. Yet to be resolved is the continuing debate of the final comma in serial lists.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 23, 2010 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Uh-oh. Immigration, Operating systems, and grammar. I hold a Strunkian attachment to the singular possessive. for all but Jesus' and Moses' things to be possessed. Some blogger once jokingly suggested adding Gates' to the list and I have quietly obliged.

Less dogmatically I hold for last comma in a list except if the list elements are all single words (I think that puts me in with NYTimes guide but not Chicago). And a career in high tech cured me of any use in acronyms. I use it only if -- sesame street style -- you are discussing three S's or four 3's.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2010 7:49 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

@KA: We have Wheaties, Cheerios, granola and Post Toasties. If you are suggesting that we need a comma between 'Post' and 'Toasties' then I most vehemently object! As Churchill reportedly said, "That is one rule up with which I will not put."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2010 12:33 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

@BR: ha. The question I'd raised was the need for a comma between the "granola" and the "and" - unless your Toasties are made from granola AND post (that being the case, I hope for the Saturday Evening variety rather than the Fence variety - much easier on the dental work).

William F. Buckley was a stickler for the inclusion of the comma in question; I am not so sure. Question: should the law firm be "Dewey, Cheatam and Howe" or "Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe"?

As for the Churchill quote, well, I've always told people that a preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2010 2:22 PM
But jk thinks:

A wealthy Oklahoma oil man walks into the Colby Hotel in Boston, and asks the concierge "Where's the bar at?"

The concierge writhes in agony. "My good man," he says, "in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and most certainly in the city of Boston, and especially in the Colby Hotel, we do not end a sentence with a preposition!"

Our guest thinks a second and smiles.

"Okay, where's the bar at, assh*le!!"

Don't forget to tip your barbenders and walrusses -- drive safe!

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 2:53 PM

August 20, 2010

Like me, but she writes clearly

Kimberly Dennis, president and CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, makes all my points today. Forcefully. Eloquently. And without sentence fragments and opening conjunctions.

Will Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and that Buffett fellow succeed in their philanthropy? And are they right to ask others to join and do more?

Successful entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropists typically say they feel a responsibility to "give back" to society. But "giving back" implies they have taken something. What, exactly, have they taken? Yes, they have amassed great sums of wealth. But that wealth is the reward they have earned for investing their time and talent in creating products and services that others value. They haven't taken from society, but rather enriched us in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Even if Mr. Gates makes progress in achieving his ambitious philanthropic objectives--eradicating disease, reducing global poverty, and improving educational quality--these accomplishments are unlikely to match what he achieved by giving us the amazing capability we literally have at our fingertips to access and spread information. The very doctors and scientists who may develop cures for diseases like malaria will rely on the tools Microsoft supplies to conduct their research. Had Mr. Gates decided to step down from his company and turn to philanthropy sooner than he did, they might have fewer such tools.


Awesome on stilts with a big hat. Holler if you'd like me to mail you the whole piece (we'll consider it Rupert's donation...)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | Comments (7)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Having been an IT industry analyst for most of the 2000's, The Refugee had the good fortune of a front-row seat to the evolution of the industry and a chance to contemplate its evolution. This included meetings with some of the scions such as Michael Dell and Scott McNealy, though he never personally met Gates or Ellison.

You can say many things about all of these highly competitive, driven individuals and the postive impact they had on the industry. You can also point to petty bickering driven by envy. But, whereas Ellison, McNealy, Dell, Jobs and others transformed the industry, Gates tranformed the world.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 20, 2010 1:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a uniter, not a divider! Yes, ka, Bill's OSs are forced upon me by my financial superiors. Yet I'll join br and raise him one personal anecdote:

Without Microsoft, it seems almost certain that I would be on permanent disability. Ubiquitous, distributed computing power is the foundation of my being able to work and contribute. Engineers whine that he is not an innovator, but the idea of a $29 OS was a world changing innovation.

On their "right" to give money away. Sure, why not. But we need to ensure that more people hear Ms. Dennis's opinion. These people benefitted society a lot more acquiring their stash than giving it away.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2010 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So these folks have "agreed" to donate "at least half of their wealth to charity" i.e. alms, they will be diverting that capital from possible productive and job-creating uses to works of market failure. Gee, I'm so impressed.

Tell me how many would have agreed if they were incapable of feeling unearned guilt, i.e. responsibility for the actions of others. Objectivism says they did not consciously agree, they were looted at the point of an idea named altruism.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2010 9:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Pat yourself on the back, jg, you've made a breakthrough.

Rand's aversion to altruism always struck me as abstract, but you have captured my (is "disgust" too strong a word?) at this story. There is a societal coercion here.

While Buffett and Gates don't hold guns to heads, their leadership dictates "how a successful business person should behave." Gates was criticized for stinginess when he was building the company -- now he has set the bar so as to make it difficult for the next person to focus attention and capital on productive pursuits.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2010 10:32 AM
But jk thinks:

Insty links to a person who really just excerpted the story, but adds something that contributes to my visceral reaction: the corruption and incompetence of the non-profit sector.

Laugh at me if you want, but when my man, President George W. Bush called for volunteerism, I made a serious effort. I worked with three non-profits and evaluated many more. Looking for a fit I never found.

Lack of profit motive can be discussed abstractly, but when you work in the private sector and spend weeknights setting up computer networks for youth shelters, you see the effects first-hand. I saw more misfeasance than mal- but the structure is perfect for both. Your salary is based on telling a good story -- if the entire management team is hopelessly incompetent, counter-intuitively arrogant and possibly corrupt, well, we're trying to do great things, aren't we?

I find myself getting upset just typing about it. I had forgotten the level of disillusionment but these are bad memories.

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2010 11:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. There is something concretely purifying about the profit motive.

And as for Gates, Buffet, et. al., someone please send them a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

And this, from the Ayn Rand Letter (same link):

As a group, businessmen have been withdrawing for decades from the ideological battlefield, disarmed by the deadly combination of altruism and Pragmatism. Their public policy has consisted in appeasing, compromising and apologizing: appeasing their crudest, loudest antagonists; compromising with any attack, any lie, any insult; apologizing for their own existence. Abandoning the field of ideas to their enemies, they have been relying on lobbying, i.e., on private manipulations, on pull, on seeking momentary favors from government officials. Today, the last group one can expect to fight for capitalism is the capitalists.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2010 2:47 PM

August 19, 2010

Maybe Not, Eh?

Not long ago, some fellow with my intials was waxing poetic about freedom in Canada.

Maybe that was a wee bit premature:

For 10 years, libertarian activist and scholar Peter Jaworski has thrown an annual summer seminar and party on the Clarington, Ontario property owned by his parents, Marta and Lech. The Liberty Summer Seminar typically features speeches from libertarian activists and scholars followed by live music and food. This year Peter's parents, who fled to Canada from communist Poland in the 1980s, face a $50,000 fine for violating local zoning laws.
[...]
Marta Jaworski, 57, said she and her husband, also 57, are devastated by the charge, which she called a taste of the oppression they felt in Poland before fleeing in 1984 to Germany and later Canada.

It is a feeling to be hunted. They come in uniforms . . . , she said, starting to cry.


First they came for the "commercial conference centres..." Jeeburs!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2010

jk has been saved!

My ThreeSources Brothers and Sisters were there for my weakness. Gently, but firmly, they suspended my descent into dirigisme.

My suggestion of FHA jiggered refis of FHA loans was wrong. LisaM was correct in pointing out that I was stealing value from the holders of performing loans. As such it violates the 5th Amendment.

It seemed pretty give and take to me, but I see a second at least equally serious flaw. Government meddling will -- as usual -- crowd out free market solutions. The WSJ News Pages introduce us to homeowners' being "Saved by Vultures" (another cool blog name...)

Anna and Charlie Reynolds of St. George, Utah, were worried about losing their home to foreclosure last year. Then they got a lucky break--from an unlikely savior.

Selene Residential Mortgage Opportunity Fund, an investment fund managed by veteran mortgage-bond trader Lewis Ranieri, acquired the loan at a deep discount and renegotiated the terms with the Reynolds. The balance due was cut to $243,182 from $421,731, and the interest rate was lowered. That reduced the monthly payment to $1,573 from $3,464, allowing the family to stay in their home despite a drop in Mr. Reynolds' income as a real-estate agent. "It was a miracle," says Ms. Reynolds.

Buy the bad paper at a big discount, renegotiate at a smaller discount. What a concept!

I will say 20 Saint Fredrichs and endeavor to sin no more.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | Comments (3)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

First of all, thank you for the Word of the Day, "dirigisme." The Refugee had to look it up.

LisaM's argument was a most persuasive and erudite analysis - far superior to the Neaderthal attempts of The Refugee.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 18, 2010 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

But the Refugee immediately saw that it was flawed.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 4:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"LisaM was correct in pointing out that I was stealing value from the holders of performing loans. As such it violates the 5th Amendment."

I had missed that part of the discussion, otherwise I'd have definitely zeroed in on that. Flatly, this use of the 5th Amendment is absurd and unnecessary. If you have to stretch like this to explain why a government action is wrong, you've got problems: your government can clearly do about anything it wants. Or are you already giving up on the "I cannot undertake to lay my finger" argument?

Any bailout by the government is wrong simply because it IS stealing. Money is taken from someone without consent, then given to someone else. It doesn't matter if the beneficiaries are living purely on the public dole or are looking for a housing bailout.

But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 20, 2010 10:53 AM

August 13, 2010

It's Parody. Let's all calm down and think this through

Our Daughter Isn't a Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn't Read Atlas Shrugged.

I don't know whether to hat-tip or protect identities...Oh, heck, tg posted this on Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:12 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I absolutely want little Johanna!

The story puts me in a mind to remember my 7th-grade science teacher, who, once a week, set aside the course curriculum and read to the class. I sat and absorbed Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, and the pinnacle of the year, Anthem. Imagine - a teacher in a California public school, surreptitiously molding young minds to loathe the collective. Mr. Beck would be sent to Room 101 for that nowadays...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 13, 2010 6:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, JK, you've lit the fuse.

"What do I think," asks the comment link? I think it's smarmy, self-righteous, over-exaggerated bullshit. The very self-congratulatory mister Hague attempts to villify the denial of unearned guilt by equating it with declaring oneself a Nietzchean "superman."

While Hague mentions "the truth of Objectivism" he violates it with his inability to resist having mean little Johanna shove the cute little baby-talking boy toddler. Objectivism condones the use of force only in self-defense, which was obviously not required in this sad little fiction.

I like your story KA but please tell me you didn't think this essay had any intention of celebrating individual achievement.

Calm down? I was calmer before I thought it through.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2010 3:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I wasn't thinking that's make your day. I thought the title was funny was funny and read just enough of it to reach your conclusion. You obviously have a higher pain tolerance than me.

Now that we're dismissing it, however, it is generally valuable to see how those who disagree with you portray your arguments.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2010 3:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is this dismissal (mean ol' Objectivists) any different than the standard "Form A" leftist dismissal (mean ol' Republicans?)

ad hominem: The oldest, the easiest, the most transparent and yet, the most effective logical fallacy in the book.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2010 3:13 PM
But jk thinks:

There are no blueberries in this briar patch. And yet, I keep wading further in...

It is a cousin of Mean ol' Republicans but it counts higher because the author intended a better level of understanding. The answer to "why do you find Republicans to be so mean?" is a blank stare. This person took the time to acquire a fallacious understanding of the topic -- and give it a funny headline!

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2010 3:32 PM

August 11, 2010

The Nation vs. Reason

The title refers to two magazines, yet seems to work without that explanation.

I don't watch Bloggingheads TV a lot. It is interesting, but I blog and work. I usually have 5 or 10 minutes while a program compiles or a server boots. Listening to even interesting folks for 40-60 minutes is not in the plan.

But I am a big fan of Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason and I did give 40 minutes general attention to her BhTV debut today. She's perhaps a little too polite to The Nation's Dana Goldstein, but it is fun to watch her keep her cool when Goldstein suggests that Michelle Obama's obesity plans don't go far enough. "Wouldn't it be swell if kids got breakfast, lunch and dinner at school everyday?" KM-W listens respectfully and just as respectfully retorts "But don't schools suck?"

There's no yelling, both participants are attractive (if neither looks old enough to drink), and one experiences two unique viewpoints in 39:06.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2010

Why Such Cultural Confidence?

But I go back to my initial question. Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive, that has added little or nothing of value to the civilizational stock, that cannot possibly do the things it claims it can do, that services rent-seekers and the well-connected, that believes in an incoherent mishmash of politically correct platitudes, that is parasitic, have such an elevated view of itself?

The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.

Why arent these people laughed out of the room?


I rarely start a post with the excerpt, but you have to admit that was good. That is Lexington Green (an elitist name if I've ever heard one) discussing what he considers the most important of the three planes of war: "John Boyd said that war is waged on the material, intellectual and moral plane[...]" It is a great and short post that will appeal to ThreeSourcers across the board.

Why Indeed? Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)
But T. Greer thinks:

I was wondering why that had thread had gotten so big. Didn't realize it had been instalanched. Here is the comment I left over at ChicagoBoyz last night:

-----------------------------------------

Why does the elite exclude such strong cultural confidence? Perhaps this is the wrong question. I would ask, “why doesn’t everyone else?”

Asabiyah. It is a term the author of this post [Lexington Green] has heard before, but for those new to it, read this. It all comes down to asabiyah. The elites have it – no one else does. The decline of American social capital is well documented. Less remarked upon is the differing rate of decline among various classes. While I have no empirical evidence to prove it (not that such could not be found, given a few days of research), I suspect that America’s oligarchy is quite a bit more cohesive than the rest of American society. They possess the same cultural mores, attend the same social functions, and dwell within close circles. The tale of the modern American man has been one of growing isolation and extreme individualism. This does not hold true for the elite.

I am reminded of the following words of John Derbyshire’s:

Perhaps we can glimpse there the trajectory of American history from the beginning of this nation to its end. First, for ninety years, we were a loose federation of states or regions, with an occasional awareness of being under a single Constitution. Then, for a hundred years, we were a modern-style nation, a true Union, under firm, though not overly intrusive, central control. Then, for a further few decades—less than six, if my 2022 target is accurate—we suffered a sort of paradoxical phase where we were encouraged to think of ourselves not as a nation, but as a collection of group identities, each wandering off in a different cultural direction, with its own heroes, history, churches, movies, TV programs, and music—the paradox being that central government control and expenditure was swelling mightily all the time.

That hits things on the head, doesn’t? American society has fractured along a thousand lines and one splinter has emerged on top of the rest. Why shouldn’t they have cultural confidence? They rule the world – and that without trying. That without the support or help of the thousand squabbling identities below them. What else should we expect from the best and brightest of America’s first entitled generation?

------------------------------------------------

My case ties in a bit to a post of mine previously linked to here at ThreeSources, Death of a Nation. If Americans cannot unite together they will be dominated by those who do. Cultural confidence, I think, is a result by product of such domination.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 5, 2010 1:02 PM

August 4, 2010

Scissors Cut Paper; Weatlth Trumps Poverty

Shortly, sweetly, Andrew Biggs at American.com shatters one of my least favorite myths. Social Security (or insert your favorite Progressive legislation) ended poverty among seniors.

But the real reason that half of the elderly lived in poverty before Social Security was that about half of everyone lived in poverty then, for the simple reason that the country was a heck of a lot poorer. Today, the average annual wage is around $43,000. In 1935, the average annual wage in inflation-adjusted terms was around $15,000. Remembering that most households of the 1930s were single-earner and most had kids, the poverty threshold for a family of four in today's dollars is around $20,000. Tripling real average earnings can do a lot to reduce poverty.

Lefties -- and even some real smart ones like our friend Silence -- love to claim that government took us from the almost Dickensian conditions of the Nineteenth Century to now: that children don't work 15 hour days at the mill because TR passed a law. In reality, our increased wealth and productivity (Briggs says earnings) brought us here. The question is how much social programs may have impeded how far we came or how quickly we got here.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Dickensian child labor is another myth I've addressed on my blog. Children worked long and dangerous hours because the families would otherwise starve on a father's wages. They worked in factories because it was guaranteed pay, as opposed to the real possibility of starvation from subsistence farming.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 5, 2010 9:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen. But the Progressives have been disturbingly effective in claiming that the difference has been child labor laws and not wealth.

There's a great character in the BBC dramatization of "North and South:" a kind factory owner who wants to do right by his workers but there just isn't enough to go around. A nice change from Scrooge.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2010 10:23 AM

All Your Riches Are Belong to Us!

WSJ: More Billionaires Sign the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced today that 40 signers, including at least 30 billionaires and other wealthy families, had officially made the Giving Pledgea promise to give away more than half their fortunes.

Many of the names already were known, from Eli and Edythe Broad and Michael Bloomberg to Pierre and Pam Omidyar and Paul Allen. But the list also includes some notable new ones, especially from the world of finance: New York financier Ronald O. Perelman; Citigroup founder Sandy Weill and wife Joan; hedge-funders Julian Robertson Jr. and Jim Simons; and private-equity honcho David Rubenstein.


Hank Reardon could not be reached for comment.

Were I in the club, I would commit to spending my half-fortune spreading the word about property rights.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So long as it's done voluntarily, it's their right, and about that, I won't complain. To the extent that it's done out of guilt (as Hank, guilted into supporting his worthless brother) or out of a desire to be seen doing so (like the hypocrite in Matthew 6:1-2), I've got no use for it.

Better that they should shut up about it and write a check (or better still, reinvest it into business, create some jobs, and lead the way in healing the economy). Unlike the left, I won't presume to be able to read the minds of the other side and know their motivation; but making a public pronouncement like this gives their detractors the right to presume their motivation.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 4, 2010 2:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My bet? 100% "the hypocrite."

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2010 3:24 PM

All We Are Saying Is Give Capitalism a Chance

Kel Kelly discusses his book, The Case for Legalizing Capitalism:

During my study of free-market economics over the years, it occurred to me that this fascinating, economically sound reasoning for how the world really works and what would genuinely help our lives was widely discussed in the procapitalism, academic-type world, but that the general public was wholly unaware of these astounding insights.

I wanted to explain free markets in plain English to average citizens, so that they could understand which government policies help or harm them, and, as a consequence, so that they could vote in such a way as to improve their lives.

My main message is that most of our economic problems derive from previous government intervention in the economy. In its attempts to "help" us, the government has managed and regulated the economy, and passed laws that sounded constructive but that in fact hurt the economy and us.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Kelly's summary of his own book makes it pretty clear I'd agree with him in full. I'd say that someone else has already "create[d] a one-stop refutation of all anticapitalist arguments, using plain economic logic and applying free-market (i.e., classical liberal) arguments and economic laws to today's political scene, across the entire political-economic spectrum" namely, the Friedmans' "Free to Choose" but I also have to admit some of Friedman's writing is obtuse. If this is a more accessible version of the same thing then it may be a better choice for gifting to every high school graduate. But there is still an advantage of gravitas and authority for "Milton and Rose Friedman" versus "Kel Kelly."

There's also the issue of overplaying your hand. While I'd probably agree with Kelly's "original arguments advocating antipatriotism and the intentional dismantling of individual countries, including our own" it leaves an opening for anticapitalists to call him a crackpot. It seems another case of choosing better battles.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2010 11:09 AM

July 26, 2010

I'll Do the Atlas Quote Today

I thought it was a section out of Rand's Novel, but sadly it is factual.

San Jose Bus Driver stops paying mortgage because his overtime was cut, then sues Wells Fargo for not offering loan modification after not paying his mortgage for a year and a half -- all while collecting rent from tenants

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2010

COEXIST II

COEXIST%21bumper%20sticker.jpg

Better?

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

Awesome on stilts!

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

Or how about: ESCHEW USUFRUCT!

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

Is that German? ;)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2010

"A Gaiasend"

Quote of the Day for Jonah:

And yet none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly. Big government seems more unpopular today than ever. The Gulf oil spill should be a Gaiasend for environmentalists, and yet three quarters of the American people oppose Obama's drilling ban. Sixty percent of likely voters want their newly minted right to health care repealed. Unlike Europe, where protestors take to the streets to save their cushy perks and protect a large welfare state, the Tea Party protestors have been taking to the streets to trim back government. -- Jonah Glodberg

Posted by John Kranz at 2:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2010

All Hail Whittle!

I don't know if Bill Whittle is y'all's cup of tea. He can be a little over the top and no one would call him anything but fiercely partisan. He has a populist bent that I'd run away from if it came from Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

But the man hits it out of the park today. His "afterburner" video is 15:27, but I'd recommend it highly. I ended up watching it twice as the lovely bride caught the end and wanted me to replay it.

We're on the Titanic. But Captain Whittle has a plan...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:30 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2010

"Libertarian Paternalism?"

I heard this term on the radio recently and thought it sounded like a threat to liberty in the same vein as 'neo-conservativism.' According to the Mises Institute's David Gordon I was right.

Given these uncontroversial characterizations of the two positions, is it not obvious that they cannot be combined with each other? To devise a libertarian paternalism seems no more promising an endeavor than to construct a square circle. Our eminent authors, though, are not convinced: libertarian paternalism is exactly the position they wish to defend.

Amongst "our eminent authors" is Cass Sunstein.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:10 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2010

Quote of the Day II

Hayek would probably have shared Mr Becks concerns about government banks and car companies. But even if he supported some of right-wing Americas attacks on "liberals", he would certainly have objected to its choice of words. As he wrote, "I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium."
From a short and interesting Economist piece on Hayek and Glenn Beck.
Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I like it - in fact, I eagerly await each day's QOTD offering - but I just read something that, while lengthier and harsher, captures both everything that's wrong with "green jobs" AND references Bastiat's Parable of the Broken Window. Submitted for your consideration:

http://minx.cc/?post=302975

Posted by: Keith Arnold at June 24, 2010 8:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah, Bastiat and Mel Brooks references from the same post. Sweetness.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2010 8:29 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sounds like The Mob is getting its fingers into the Green Economy.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 25, 2010 10:40 AM

Quote of the Day

There are several well understood advantages inherent in capitalism that make it superior to any other system for organizing economic activity. It has proven to be far more efficient in the allocation of resources and the matching of supply with demand, far more effective at wealth creation, and far more conducive to high levels of freedom and political self-governance. At the most basic level, however, capitalism has become the world's economic ideology of choice primarily because it demonstrably unlocks a higher fraction of the human potential with ubiquitous organic incentives that reward hard work, ingenuity and innovation.
Guess the author and win a prize! Why, it's Vice President Al Gore and his partner David Blood in a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal. (It goes downhill a bit from this strong lede...)

UPDATE: John Stossel takes him on point-by-point.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Unable to read the rest of the piece I'll venture a guess that this is the old "yes, capitalism is best, but ..." line of argument.

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2010 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Clairvoyant.

For these reasons and others, markets lie at the foundation of every successful economy. Yet the recent crisis in global markets (following other significant market dislocations in 1994, 1997, 1998 and in 2000-2001), has shaken the world's confidence in the way modern capitalism is now operating.
Pound head on monitor one time...
Moreover, glaring and worsening systemic failures—such as growing income inequality, high levels of unemployment, public and private indebtedness, chronic under-investment in education and public health, persistent extreme poverty in developing nations and, most importantly, the reckless inattention to the worsening climate crisis—are among the factors that have led many to ask: What type of capitalism will maximize sustainable economic growth?
Pound head on monitor, repeat as needed... Posted by: jk at June 24, 2010 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Gee, what a perfect segue into today's Atlas QOTD! (Algore rarely disappoints.)

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2010 3:38 PM

June 16, 2010

Philosophy Corner

Sagacious counsel from my biological brother, via email. He suggests that we all "Keep this in mind the next time you're about to repeat a rumor."

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely
lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher
came upon an acquaintance, who ran up to him excitedly
and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about
one of your students...?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell
me, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called
the Test of Three."

"Test of Three?"

"That's correct," Socrates continued.

"Before you talk to me about my student let's take a
moment to test what you're going to say. The first
test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what
you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man replied, "actually I just heard about it."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know
if it's true or not. Now let's try the second test,
the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me
about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me
something bad about him even though you're not certain
it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.
Socrates continued, "You may still pass though because
there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you
want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell
me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell
it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed and said no more.

This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher
and held in such high esteem.

It also explains why Socrates never found out that
Plato was banging his wife.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Oh sure, let's make fun of Socrates. ;)

If you think about it though, I think this joke is a fantastic illustration of how modern Facebook hipsters can't relate to we "middle-aged white males, balding" and vice versa. We (or at least I) see the first 14 paragraphs as an insightful parable teaching the vile nature of gossip, and the punch line as a vulgar extraneousness. They consider the first 14 paragraphs to be "some shit you gotta say to tell a really funny joke [dude!*]"

*optional

It's a really good object lesson. Please thank your brother for me!

Posted by: johngalt at June 16, 2010 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I keep trying to drag my brother over here. He and I are fighting over immigration today. No doubt you and The Refugee and AlexC and Keith and Terri and SugarChuck would like some help.

Here's my point: the first 14 ppgs perform their full effect even with the punchline. And it will see a far wider distribution thanks to #15.

But your point is taken. I laugh a bit because my brother is older and just as white. But I am certainly "balder." I'll send your regards and tell him you called him a "modern Facebook hipster." I think he'll like that a lot.

Posted by: jk at June 16, 2010 3:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, you are right. Had it been posted under humor I'd likely not have bristled.

And your brother is certainly a hipster if he's been using Facebook longer than I, and I only signed up this week!

Posted by: johngalt at June 17, 2010 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

JG on FB? OMG!

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2010 3:47 PM

June 12, 2010

"Unfettered" Capitalism

JK recently invoked a long-standing theme put forth by Blog Brother Silence: That without government guidance a capitalist economy necessarily results in an extreme gentrification of society, or a "Dickensian" world if you will. I noted in the comments that "it is not only the wealthy who can create wealth. At every level of the economic ladder, when value is traded for value wealth is created." A more thorough explanation of this fact is offered in a Wendy Milling essay: 'No Thomas Friedman, Capitalism is Perfect.'

Some degree of economic malady exists and will continue to exist under any system, including capitalism. It is not the responsibility of capitalism to eliminate, and it is not a feature of capitalism, but of a special facet of reality: Man's free will.

Individuals must perform mental and physical work in order to attain material values, but this requires an act of free will. The existence of free will means that some people will choose to have a different value system, and some will choose not to have values at all. In a pure capitalist system, the opportunity to achieve whatever prosperity level desired is available to everyone.

(...)

It is not the proper purpose or function of a politico-economic system to override the free will of man, and any attempt to do so is immoral. It would be an attempt to violate the rights of the virtuous for the sake of those who reject virtue, because in reality, the only way to start equalizing results for people who have chosen to reject effort is to rob from those who have not. To insist that people who demonstrate no commitment to achieving material values, value the materials anyway-and then blame capitalism for their not having them-is to border on the psychotic.

Now, what Wendy has described is only valid in a special place we like to call "reality." Opponents of capitalism can't prevail in the face of these facts using reason. In fact, many deny that reason exists. Instead, as Wendy writes, "they rely on obfuscations, equivocations, and an attitude of militant evasion. One trick is to make inappropriate demands of capitalism, then stomp and pout and denounce capitalism when those demands are not met." She calls this approach "crybaby metaphysics." That is apt teminology, and the reacton to the BP oil leak by President Obama casts him as Crybaby in Chief. ("Just plug the damn hole!")

Milling concludes by answering Friedman's sneering taunt, "But what say the tea partiers today? Who will step forward now and demand that the energy market' be rescued from regulatory bondage?"

Observe that the government, beholden to an insane environmentalist ideology that views nature as an intrinsic value and superior to human beings, forbade oil companies to drill nearer to the coast line where there were shallow waters. In the shallow areas, an oil leak could be directly accessed. Instead, companies were only allowed to drill in areas too deep for current technology to address.

The liability risk in deep waters was too great for the oil companies to accept. This is an example of the inherent safety features in a free market. However, because we need the oil for our economy, politicians had to entice companies to drill there by capping liability limits on accidents, legally shielding them from the consequences of failure they would bear under a capitalist system. It is government that removes the safety controls and engenders unacceptably risky situations.

There is no regulation that can override the reality of a fundamentally flawed set-up like this, which is why the statists do not offer to explain why such regulations were not already in place in one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy.

It is also an open question what the actual economic damage will be, what it would be were the federal government not interfering with local authorities' attempts to mitigate the spill, and what adaptations the private sector will make to counter the new adversities.

Thus, if it were not for government interference, there might still have been an accident at some point, but there would have been no "disaster." Statism was the problem, and laissez-faire would have prevented this situation.

Capitalism is not to blame for the flaws of our mixed economy, the do-gooders' "fettering" is.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2010

Hooverism

Reading up on our 31st President, the theme from "All in the Family" kept running through my brain. "Misteh we could use a man like Hoibut Hooveh again..." Put me down as a "no."

But, it occurs to me that he would be the best man in charge at the time of the BP Oil leak. Obviously, his background as a mining engineer would pay some dividends. But I read a hagiography by a good friend of his written long before he was elected. It discussed his part in the Belgian relief during WWI and Eastern European relief and rebuilding after the Armistice.

The dude was a serious hoss. And this is not only his friend's appraisal. More skeptical and modern biographers of Wilson and Coolidge acknowledge his role and public standing. Everybody knew he would be President, they just didn't know which party, so both recruited him.

But providing Belgian Relief was easily as intractable as a mile-deep well leak. He had to handle politics with the Central and Allied powers, raise money, procure foodstuffs (in a world with little surplus), transport them (through hostile waters with a paucity of available shipping), distribute, audit to ascertain that no belligerents were getting the resources, and return the transportation.

It was a truly superhuman feat. Any of those problems could have easily led one to say "there's just nothing we can do." And any single failure would stop the whole process. Yet he did it, leading through sheer will. It was a heroic effort and Hoover's picture hung in many European homes. I suspect he could have done some damage on the leak.

But the leak is an anomaly. It hit me that Hooverism is the fundamental flaw at the foundation of the GOP's governing philosophy. The crooked cornerstone that Nixonism, BobDoleism, and GeorgeBushism is built on.

Herbert Hoover was a fervent believer in the superiority of free markets. Several of his speeches wax passionately on it. You'd think you were listening to Hayek or Art Laffer, Grover Norquist.

But the heart of Hooverism -- as exemplified by his presidency -- is the idea of limits beyond which intervention is required. The free market is usually great, but this situation requires the engineer to take charge."

Mea Culpa, I did it for TARP I, but if a delimiter exists, the argument is where. To trust markets, you have to trust them all the way. Or else you'll end up signing Smoot-Hawley...


Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | Comments (11)
But jk thinks:

You make my point. The correct answer is "never" and that is not Hoover's. Nor is it the answer from typical GOP pols. Yet your haste to contradict any kind words about #31 does not allow you to see how close he was. Here's "ADDRESS OF MR. HOOVER AT HIS INAUGURATION AS PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF MINING ENGINEERS (NEW YORK CITY, FEBRUARY 17, 1920)"

The war nationalization of railways and shipping are our two greatest problems in governmental control awaiting demobilization. There are many fundamental objections to continuation of these experiments in socialism necessitated by the war. They lie chiefly in their destruction of initiative in our people and the dangers of political domination that can grow from governmental operation. Beyond this, the engineers will hold that the successful conduct of great industries is to a transcendant degree dependent upon the personal abilities and character of their employees and staff*. No scheme of political appointment has ever yet been devised that will replace competition in its selection of ability and character. Both shipping and railways have today the advantage of many skilled persons sifted out in the hard school of competition, and even then the government operation of these enterprises is not proving satisfactory. Therefore, the ultimate inefficiency that would arise from the deadening paralysis of bureaucracy has not yet had full opportunity for development. Already we can show that no government under pressure of ever-present political or sectional interests can properly conduct the risks of extension and improvement, or can be free from local pressure to conduct unwarranted services in industrial enterprise.

That displays a very enlightened view of free markets in 1920. My concern was not how far President Hoover was from a free marketeer -- the scary thing is how close he was.

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2010 2:05 PM
But jk thinks: