Friday, June 18, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Public opinion is formed and expressed by machinery. The newspapers do an immense amount of thinking for the average man and woman. In fact they supply them with such a continuous stream of standardized opinion, borne along upon an equally inexhausible flood of news and sensation, collected from every part of the world every hour of the day, that there is neither the need nor the leisure for personal reflection. All this is but a part of a tremendous educating process. But it is an education which passes in at one ear and out at the other. It is an education at once universal and superficial. It produces enormous numbers of standardized citizens, all equipped with regulation opinions, prejudices and sentiments, according to their class or party.Via John Hood at The Corner.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Veronique at The Corner links to these podcasts by Daniel Klein on Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. I hope to find them a good introduction to Smith, to what I was told was the beginning point for understanding his major work, The Wealth of Nations, the seminal work behind the development of what Marx called capitalism, or free market economy.
- Theory of Moral Sentiment, an overview
- Theory of Moral Sentiment, Discussion of Part 1
- Theory of Moral Sentiment, Discussion of Part 2
- Theory of Moral Sentiment, Discussion of Part 3
Remarkably, Roberts and Klein managed to underline the intellectual importance of Smith and his relevance in today’s world where the free-market is accused of being the cause of all our problems, . . . .
Monday, April 20, 2009
Instapundit posted this graphic from Heritage Institute to put Obama's recent attempt to show fiscal restraint into context of his proposed budget: cutting $100 million even as he wants to spend $3.69 trillion. It reminds me of the astronomy video demonstrating the size of the Earth, not to the Sun but to a real star....
Friday, April 17, 2009
Contrary to what I expected, Wyoming is in the top 5 least changed unemployment in the last year (1.2% increase). Texas faired not as well, 13th at 2.1%. For family in Indiana, the news isn't good: unemployment change is 7th for most change at 4.7%, almost as bad as Michigan's 5%. Virginia was 3.2% and New York 3% increase.
UPDATE: From Commentary's Contentions: A Bloomberg report that just this March Indiana's unemployment joined Oregon, California, Michigan, and West Virginia, all over 10%.
A “collapse” in production of recreational vehicles in the area of Elkhart, Indiana, combined with links to the auto industry have contributed to the surge in unemployment in the state, said Marc Lotter, communications director for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
- from Thomas Sowell's "Who Really Cares?":
- from Thomas Sowell's "Mind-Changing Books":
One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. It is liberals who advocate "forgiveness" of loans to Third World countries, a "living wage" for the poor and a "safety net" for all.
But these are all government policies -- not individual acts of compassion -- and the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them. Depending on what those consequences are, there may be good reasons to oppose them, so being for or against these policies may tell us nothing about who is compassionate or caring and who is not.
Experience has probably changed more minds than books have. But some books can pull your experiences together and show how they require a very different vision of the world.
Two lists of Walter E. Williams' columns, and articles, and a few special ones to consider:
- from a speech called "Constitution Day" (emphasis added):
- from "Conflicting Visions":
James Madison is the acknowledged father of the constitution. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia. James Madison wrote disapprovingly, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Today, at least two-thirds of a $2.5 trillion federal budget is spent on the “objects of benevolence.” That includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, aid to higher education, farm and business subsidies, welfare, ad nauseam.
Generally, people share common goals. Most of us want: poor people to enjoy higher standards of living, greater traffic safety, fewer wars and more world peace, greater racial harmony, cleaner air and water, and less crime.
Despite the fact that people have common goals, more often than not, we see them grouped into contentious factions, fighting tooth and nail to promote differing government policies in the name of achieving those commonly held goals. Often the policies may be unproductive and often have the unintended consequence of sabotaging the goal. Almost always the conflict is centered around the means to achieve goals rather than the goals themselves.
A good example of conflict surrounding means is found in the periodic debates over minimum wage and tariffs. Many people profess concern for the welfare of low-skilled workers. To achieve their goal, one group adamantly demands that Congress legislate higher minimum wages. Another group professing the identical concern, are just as adamant in demanding that Congress not legislate higher minimum wages. Similarly, one group of advocates for greater employment opportunities might lobby Congress for higher tariffs and stricter quotas on foreign imports. Another group of people sharing the identical goal will fight against tariffs and quotas and lobby for fewer trade restrictions.
How is it that people who share identical goals come to advocate polar opposite policies? One possible explanation is that they are dishonest and simply promoting their personal interests. Their political strategy is to express concern for the unskilled and greater employment opportunities simply as a ruse to conceal their true agenda: higher wages, profits and monopoly wealth. The more interesting question is why do people, who are assumed to be honest, intelligent, selfless and not motivated by a hidden agenda, arrive at polar opposite policy proposals as a means to achieve commonly shared goals, that may indeed produce polar opposite results?
- from "Economics for the Citizen, Pt. 1":
The first lesson in economic theory is that we live in a world of scarcity. Scarcity is a situation whereby human wants exceed the means to satisfy those wants. Human wants are assumed to be limitless, or at least they don't frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something, be it: more cars, more food, more love, more happiness, more peace, more health care, more clean air or more charity. Our ability and resources to satisfy all human wants are indeed limited. There's only a finite amount of: land, iron, workers and years in a lifetime.
Scarcity produces several economic problems: What's to be produced, who's going to get it, how's it to be produced, and when is it to be produced? For example, many Americans, and foreigners too, would love to have a home or vacation home along the thousand miles of California, Oregon and Washington coastline. Shipping companies would like to use some of it as ports. The U.S. Defense Department would like to use it for military installations. There's simply not enough coastline to meet all the competing wants and uses. That means there's conflict over coastline ownership and its uses. If human wants were not unlimited, or the resources to satisfy those wants were limitless, there would be no economic problem and hence conflict.
- from "Economics for the Citizen, Pt. 2":
- from "Economics for the Citizen, Pt. 3":
There are four classes of behavior that can be called economic behavior. They are: production, consumption, exchange and specialization. Production is any behavior that creates utility, that is, raises the want satisfying capacity of something. When a mill smelts iron ore, it raises the want satisfying capacity of the material by changing its form. The metal’s want satisfying capacity is raised further when it’s made into steel and the steel into rails, girders and the like.
- from "Economics for the Citizen, Pt. 4":
Just about the most important generalization that we can make about human behavior is that the higher the cost of a particular choice the less of it will be chosen and the lower the cost the more of it will be chosen. This generalization underlies the law of demand. For simplicity let’s assume price measures cost while we hold everything else influencing choice constant. The law of demand can be expressed several ways: the lower the price of something, the more will be taken; and the opposite is true the higher price. We can also say, there exists a price whereby one can be induced to take more or less of something. Finally, there’s an inverse (reverse) relationship between the price of a good and the quantity demanded.
There's a reggae song that advises "If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife." Mechanics have been accused of charging women higher prices for emergency road repairs. Airlines charge business travelers higher prices than tourists. Car rental companies and hotels often charge cheaper rates on weekends.
Transportation companies often give senior citizen and student discounts. Prostitutes charge servicemen higher prices than theirindigenous clientele. Gasoline stations on interstate highways charge higher prices than those off the interstate. What are we to make of all of this discrimination? Should somebody notify the U.S. attorney general?
- from "Economics for the Citizen, Pt. 5":
We're all grossly ignorant about most things that we use and encounter in our daily lives, but each of us is knowledgeable about tiny, relatively inconsequential, things. For example, a baker might be the best baker in town, but he's grossly ignorant about virtually all the inputs that allow him to be the best baker. What is he likely to know about what goes into the processing of the natural gas that fuels his oven? For that matter, what does he know about the metallurgy involved in oven manufacture? Then, there are all the ingredients he uses -- flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla and milk. Is he likely to know how to grow wheat and sugar and how to protect the crop from diseases and pests? What is he likely to know about vanilla extraction and yeast production? Just as important is the question how do all the people who produce and deliver all these items know what he needs and when he needs them? There are literally millions of people cooperating anonymously with one another to ensure that the baker has all the necessary inputs.
It's the miracle of the market and prices that gets the job done so efficiently. What's called the market is simply a collection of millions upon millions of independent decision makers not only in America but around the world. Who or what coordinates the activities all of these people? Rest assured it's not a bakery czar.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Tom Wolfe, lamenting the current state of American fiction: "Writers come from master-of-fine-arts programs now. If you add up the college education of Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner, you get to spring break of freshman year."
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Then it was new oak countertops that require every other day oil treatments for awhile. The color and texture change is wonderful.
The island and island lights were next, and now we find ourselves spending much of the day around it.
Last were cabinet doors and hardware.
Just some finishing touches required, but we are in the kitchen and loving it.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Hanging the cabinets.
One of several applications of leveler followed by many hours of dry time. Thus begins Steve's chant, "Never again."
Floor and counters complete. This is the stove and pantry wall.
The fridge, dishwasher and sink wall.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Ralph Hancock leads off the thread:
Comment 14 by Ralph
Now a bit of real intellectual reporting: The panel on new books on Strauss (panelists: the Zuckerts, T. Pangle, J. Yarbrough, D. Mahoney), was completely packed, and every Straussian or post-Straussian who is anyone was either in the room or in the overflow in the hallway. The Zuckerts gave a fair, appropriately undefensive account of how their book was intended more to address the public "noise" about Strauss and thus rhetorically different from Pangle's.
There was a very funny moment when, after Michael had spoken and exhibited his high regard for Locke, Catherine was sure to mention in passing that she "is not a Lockean." "Now you tell me!" was Michael's instantaneous reply.
Beyond that, both Daniel and Jean pointed up Pangle's tin ear re. a Christian understanding of transcendence. (Responding to Mahoney, he [Pangle?] accused him [Mahoney?] of being more scholastic than the scholastics -- blurring the line between revelation and reason more than they.) In the Q&A, C.[lifford] Orwin quite poignantly remarked that after 25 years he still had no idea of Pangle's position on the theological question. Pangle was, as usual, very articulate but not necessarily very helpful in responding.
Hadley Arkes and I (and others, no doubt), tried to press the question further from the peanut gallery. I remember best my approach (unsurprisingly): I asked Pangle directly: "Is philosophy noble?" He answered, disarmingly, with one word: "Yes." (OK, that was too easy. But if you look at my exegesis of Pangle in PSR you will see that I don't believe his answer here is candid.)
I gathered myself and pursued: can philosophy fully grasp and master it's own nobility? If it can't, I tried to explain, then the philosophic life's claims to self-sufficiency are not credible, and the openness of the revelation-reason question complicates, even undermines the claims of the philosophic life more than Pangle admits.
Or, addressing the Zuckerts: the philosopher's serene confidence in the goodness of his own activity is not really compatible, after the claims of biblical revelation, with the recognition of the irredeemably "zetetic" character of philosophy. I find in both books (Pangle's and Zuckerts') an attempt to combine a certain absolutism and a certain zetecism that strikes me as incoherent.
I think time elapsed at about this point, so at least I had had my say. The High-Straussian position may be most fruitfully questioned, I think, not by insisting on the reasonable content of revelation (as important as this is), but by pointing up the self-transcendence of philosophy, and therefore its insuperable dependence on moral and religious intimations it shares with non-philosophers.
Link to this Comment | 9/3/2007 3:45 PM
And then Dan Mahoney jumps in:
Comment 20 by Dan Mahoney
Ralph is undoubtedly right that it is best to point out the limitations of High Straussianism(i.e. the position that insists on the radical "autonomy" of philosophic reason) by highlighting the philosopher's "dependence on moral and religious intimations" that he "shares with non-philosophers." I tried to make that same point in my own way.
But I was struck by Pangle's inability and unwillingness to engage an "idiom" other than his own and by his hostility to any suggestion that those intimations might provide some evidence for the truth--or possible truth-- of "revelation." His instinct is to 'circle the wagons' even when faced by friendly criticism. This radical defensiness does not augur well for the future of the Straussian project.
In any case, I gave as well as I got and articulated the multiple grounds for thinking that "reason" and not just blind faith or decision is integral to religious faith. More fundamentally, the philosopher is never truly autonomous because he too must defer to what Aurel Kolnai suggestively called the "sovereignty of the object."
There is something higher than the human will and that fact is knowable in principle by both reason and revelation.
Link to this Comment | 9/3/2007 6:23 PM
Comment 30 by Ralph
Dan Mahoney is definitely right that Mr. Pangle is notably lacking in any ability or inclination to attend to idioms other than his familiar "classical rationalist" tongue.
Now, to extend the reportage on the APSA just a bit (at the risk of interrupting the Giuliani/anti-Giuliani fesitivities): The Voegelinian sponsored panel on Voegelin-Strauss-Arendt was very good, and notably irenic between Straussians and Voegelinians (probably no Arendtians were there). Michael Zuckert's discussion of Plato and Aristotle in Strauss was very acute, venturesome -- this man has some range, for a Lockean! Tim Fuller offered a wide-ranging and seasoned meditation on the three authors. Jim Stoner presented a most judicious parcing of the disparities and convergences between Catholicism and Strauss, emphasizing, most prudently, the grounds of an ongoing alliance.
Thus an excellent panel - all three presentations full of insight and even some wisdom.
Link to this Comment | 9/4/2007 2:17 PM
Ivan Kenneally piles on:
Comment 32 by Ivan Kenneally
... I think Mahoney is right to point out that Pangle stubbornly refuses to abandon his peculiar idiom--that stubborness seems to be born out of a not entirely dogmatic commitment to the view that the rational alternative is superior to the revelatory one.
On some level it struck me as odd that Pangle ever wrote that book given that he famously argues elsewhere that the Jewish question for Strauss is not a special case of the tension between reason and revelation; in other words, he argues that the Hebrew Scriptures are just one instantiation of the central tension and one could understand the tension without particular reference to it.
While all of Pangle's book is impressive and much of it is very insightful, a lot of the interpretation suffers from his characteristic rationalism, meaning that he begins with a conclusion somewhat forgone given the overly rationalistic interpretation of the biblical experience of revelation.
Link to this Comment | 9/4/2007 5:48 PM
Monday, August 13, 2007
Evidently the fire lines set at the top could not keep it from coming up the far side and come burning down the valley side of the ridge.
I don't believe it has burned any buildings yet. But it could threaten some if it comes low enough.
Click for larger images.
Correction, according to this Colorado report, the fire has engulfed several structures and threatens "another 100 homes and cabins" more? I didn't know there were that many up there.
One of those I do know about is our friends' place, Spahn's Bed and Breakfast, nestled right inside the timber line. As you can see from one of their pictures.
They have more images. And here is the local Sheridan Press' account.
UPDATE: Sounds like it barreled off the face into a fire break where most of it burned out. However, some got away and burned up to Spahn's, taking, it sounds like at this time, all of his out buildings but sparing his house because it was foamed.
Here are some more pictures from local photographers.
UPDATE 2: Here is a dramatic picture of the fire taking the Spahn's.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Greatness of Soul
Here's a comment I got on the thread below:A quick and obvious point in light of the discussion on No Left Turns: Aristotle's treatment of the magnanimous man in the Ethics for the most part oscillates between a report of what he thinks of himself and what other non-magnanimous men say about him. Unlike the discussion of Socrates' magnanimity in the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle here largely treats magnanimity from the perspective of the city and hence political life.
I agree with you that as Aristotle tends to present him in the Ethics, the magnanimous man is the paradigmatic example of the overly stuffed shirt-he thinks (and others think he thinks) that nothing is greater than himself and that no one can perform the great deeds he can. For this reason, he is "slow to act and procrastinates, except when some great honor is at stake; his actions are few but they are great and distinguished"--interestingly in this last statement Aristotle speaks in his own name.
As you point out, the magnanimous man tends to think about himself in abstraction from everyone else; this explains his belief in his own self-sufficiency. And as you also note, this is most obviously the case in his indifference or unwillingness to wonder and our related need for love and friendship.
Yet, to me, Aristotle presents the magnanimous man as being aware of a chink in his armor; in particular he seems to have nagging doubts and perhaps a begrudging recognition of his greatness resting on others. To the extent that he thinks in terms of great political actions, the magnanimous man must on some level recognize that he is dependent on the city and its citizens-at least in terms of it providing opportunities-for his actions. His estimation of himself rests in part on his, to be sure, unstated recognition that he must live with other men in order to act magnanimously and in order to be honored as magnanimous.
One cannot really think of himself as a magnanimous man if he lives alone or among a small group of human beings. Rather, he needs the venue on which his "great and distinguished" actions can be performed and put on display.
This also raises the related problem of potential frustrations that would nag a man who thinks he may be magnanimous: what if one lives at a time when "great and distinguished" actions are not needed or called for--this obviously gets expressed in your criticism of the end of history thesis.
But apart from the fictive and undesirable nature of an end of history, it may well be the case that the greatest external impediment to magnanimity is the failure of a human being to live in truly interesting-hence humanly fertile-times.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It is entitled "The Left's Iraq Muddle". He begins with a concise restatement of the justifications for deposing Saddam and he does so by invoking the tried and true American foreign policy that believes democracies can be imposed by military.
Here is the key part:
American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.Do read the rest.
With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.
The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically "yes."
This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Here is the concluding paragraph:
The lesson for Americans is clear. There may be today, just as George Kennan famously observed 60 years ago of the Cold War, a certain providential quality to the challenges that have been placed before us at this time. Certainly the challenges presented by Islamist terrorism are ones that confront us (and even more profoundly confront Europe) in the very places where we are confused and irresolute, and force us to see that we have fallen into ways of thinking and living that we cannot and should not sustain. They represent a mortal threat—but they are also an opportunity. By forcing us to defend ourselves, they force us to take to heart the question of what kind of civilization we are willing, and able, to defend. Not merely as an academic question, but a question of life and death.
Read the rest here. Do note that McClay's speech is one of several given at the Bradley Symposium dedicated to "Who Are We Today? American Character and Identity in the 21st Century." Be sure to check out them all.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
“Bush is portrayed as a moron. I’ve only conversed with him a couple of times – not for very long – but I found he was more literate on literature than the editor of the New York Review of Books, Bob Silvers. I’ve talked to both of them, and he makes Bob Silvers look like a slug.”
Sunday, May 06, 2007
But I think he misses something. And its strange that he would, since he has spent so much time writing about it. In other words, its the elites' hatred of the West. After all, it was a western democracy--the only western-like country in the Middle East--that drove the aboriginal benighted bedouins of the dunes from their unproductive lands and tents to set up a western liberal democracy, a western free market, all driven by the greedy, self-interest of western individualism with all its excesses, usually corporate.
Whatever good will and sympathy the Holocaust might have engendered for the Jews, Israel's war-making and continued ruthless defense disturbs our liberal idealists who are already disturbed with the untethered self-interest and voracious appetite of western economic engine. For a world-view that honors and holds the noble savage of any continent overrun by the West's insatiable imperialism, the displaced Palestinian is the Middle East's American Indian.
Which brings me to Hanson's (to me at least) more valuable proposal: pull the value of oil out from under the Middle East by setting free our American ingenuity and development of our energy options.
Oil, father of us allIt is a solution that is kith and kin with Reagan's so-called "Star Wars Defense" which, if only in speaking about it, the West spent the gimping Soviet Union into oblivion.
In the end, all reasoning and calculation comes down to oil, not energy independence just a lessening of our need to import by about 5 million barrels or so on the world market. Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world.
Without oil and nukes, the Arab and Iranian Middle East has no hold on the world, no more than does Paraguay or the Ivory Coast or Bulgaria or Laos. We wish them well, but find Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, the House of Saud, Hamas, Khadafy, and all the rest, well, all too retro-7th-century for our tastes.
My vote for 2008 goes to the first presidential candidate who proposes such a plan. There is stuff for both liberal and conservative to value and endorse.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Exactly [Rich Lowry]Read some more here.
Here's a key point about the debate over Iraq—it was always fundamentally about how much risk we were willing to tolerate in a post-9/11 environment (page 328):
The absence of evidence and linear thinking, and Iraq’s extensive efforts to conceal illicit procurement of proscribed components, told us that a deceptive regime could and would easily surprise us. It was never a question of a known, imminent threat; it was about an unwillingness to risk surprise.
04/30 12:11 PM
It's up to you The Iraq war is lost or won if the American people choose to lose or win it. With the way things are going at the moment, I perfectly understand why they might choose to give up on the war. But that is not because the war is inherently unwinnable by a country as great and rich and powerful as the United States.Washington Post
-- Kanan Makiya, Iraqi scholar who supported the U.S. invasion