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Will Wilkinson attacks libertarianism again

This started as a comment to this blog entry about a dispute between Jonah Goldberg and Will Wilkinson.

Goldberg claims:

[I]t seems to me that the stimulus debate clearly puts the lie to the idea that liberals and libertarians can see eye to eye on the large questions of political economy, at least for the foreseeable future. The first principles simply aren’t aligned.

Wilkinson responds:

I’m not that interested in short-term partisan politics. I’m interested in a much longer-term project.

That sidesteps Goldberg's claim rather than dealing with it directly. Goldberg's claim is about "first principles" and therefore not about "short-term partisan politics". He believes that what is happening now tells us something about "first principles", whereas Wilkinson, apparently, does not. So the first problem with Wilkinson's answer is that he doesn't deal with Goldberg's claim.

The second problem with Wilkinson's answer is that reality is nothing but a sequence of "now"s, and his unwillingness to accept what is happening now as evidence hints that he may be impervious to evidence from any particular "now" (why, after all, reject just the evidence from today's "now"), and therefore impervious to evidence full-stop.

Wilkinson writes:

The stimulus bill vexes me not at all. It’s what you’d predict knowing the current extent of Democratic power, the opportunity that the perception of crisis creates, and the composition of the Democratic coalition. As a student of James M. Buchanan, I’m no romantic about democracy.

but then writes:

what is it about the era of George W. Bush that makes Jonah think that conservatives and libertarians see eye to eye on the large questions of political economy? I understand it is now politically expedient for Republicans to oppose whatever Obama is trying to do. But, frankly, the recent performance of the Republicans in Congress has been pathetic, managing to do little more than fight to get a bit more for their constituencies and a bit less for the majority’s.

Wilkinson has just got done excusing the behavior of Democrats as the predictable outcome of the forces that James Buchanan talked about (as opposed to being a reflection of their first principles), but then he proceeds to identify conservative ideology with what the Republicans did when they were in power. That is a double standard.

Wilkinson says about libertarians:

And the most common forms of libertarianism are, I think, still pretty well shot through with conservative reflexes bred by the long Cold War alliance between libertarians and the right. For many libertarians, hating the left just feels like home.

Never mind the new New Deal, for that matter never mind the old New Deal. Never mind that American liberalism is largely defined by its canonization of FDR and its ideological approval of such things as the New Deal and the Great Society programs. Libertarians are anti-leftist because of reflexes (implied: unthinking reflexes - a reflex is, after all, pretty much defined by lack of cognition) left over from the Cold War. Any description of an ideology as largely a reflex (and an obsolete fossil of one at that) is an attack on the ideology. Hence the title I have chosen for this entry.

Wilkinson briefs us on his political position:

I want to use this time of ferment to work on developing the missing option in American politics: an authentically liberal governing philosophy that understands that limited government, free markets, a culture of tolerance, and a sound social safety net are the best means to better lives.

A lot of libertarians are going to choke on "a sound social safety net", but Wilkinson's account implies that this is because they have "conservative reflexes bred by the long Cold War alliance between libertarians and the right." Here's a better explanation: opposition to a "social safety net" (by which I do not take Wilkinson to mean private charity) follows from the nonaggression principle.

Furthermore a lot of libertarians are going to wonder what to make of Wilkinson's call for "a culture of tolerance" not because they are personally intolerant but because "tolerance" does not follow from the nonaggression principle - that is, it falls outside the purview of the nonaggression principle.

The nonaggression principle is a deeply entrenched obstacle to Wilkinson's attempt to portray the aspects of libertarianism which he disapproves of as unthinking obsolete contagion from a past alliance with "the right". He needs to discredit the nonaggression principle in order to carry his argument forward. Wilkinson has, unsurprisingly, attacked the nonaggression principle as follows:

Now it seems to me that non-coercion libertarians tend to reason backwards. You start with a list of kinds of action considered impermissible, struggle to classify them all instances of coercion, and then say that your philosophy is based on non-coercion and not on whatever principle (if there was one) that led you to try to include some classes of actions (that are not intuitively coercive) but not others (that seem pretty coercive) under the coercion rubric.

Wilkinson is here opening up the possibility that libertarianism (what Wilkinson here calls "non-coercion libertarianism") is not truly principled, but rather is really a hodgepodge of different ideas - some of them unthinking reflexes. (Granted, Wilkinson uses the term "non-coercion" rather than "non-aggression" but what he's trying to do is not merely to question one of several formulations of libertarian principle, but to undermine the very idea that libertarianism - i.e. "non-coercion libertarianism" - is genuinely principled.)


The Scarcity of Liberaltarians in Times of Crisis

Over at The Corner, Jonah Goldberg and others ask where the "liberaltarians" have gone since the financial crisis started. Check out the whole exchange: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4, and part 5.

A "liberaltarian", for those who don't follow internecine libertarian debate, is a hypothesized left-wing fellow traveler of the libertarian movement. Like the Higgs Boson, the liberaltarian is a phenomenon that hasn't yet been directly observed but that everybody hopes to find someday. Perhaps we will have better luck when the LHC is finally up and running.

I always thought the libertarian-leftist alliance was doomed by the fact that they sort of hate us. If you don't believe in "social justice" or environmentalism, many of them are apt to view you as evil. And it is hard to make headway with people that think you are evil.

Will Wilkinson responds here in opposition.

Goldberg has promised to rejoin the conversation in the morning.


The Case for a Long Recession

Nate Silver produces the most interesting piece of armchair macroeconomics I have seen lately, predicting a long recession due to low economic volatility in modern times.

Predicting the macroeconomic future based on the past is never an exact science, but it is a good hypothesis nonetheless.


Obama the Hypnotist

Exposing Obama's Deception May Be the Only Way to Protect Democracy

I love this kind of thing. The meat starts on page 16. Obama's speeches are analyzed and found to be attempts at mass hypnosis.

Somewhat amusing and may have elements of truth. Googling NLP suggests that it is pseudoscience and debunked. But in the process of accusing Obama of being an evil hypnotist, the paper does point out some truths about his speeches.

Elementary pacing examples from Obama include, “now is the time”, and “as I stand here before you.” These statements are undeniably true in the simplest terms and commonly used parts of his pacing techniques, because of course now is the time, and if he is there speaking, of course he is standing before us.

(chuckle)

Three of Obama’s favorite hypnotic paces are “that’s why I stand here tonight”, “now is the time”, and “this moment.” Just these three pacing statements are used by Obama a total of fourteen (14) times throughout this single speech.

The paper lists every instance. It's quite funny. To me anyway.

After repeated and continual pacing an entire audience of millions with statements that are undoubtedly true that lower our critical factors’ defenses, Obama just slips in the hypnotic command (the lead) e.g. ...“and that is why I will be your next President.”

Heh. We might call this "blatant nonsequitur". To those of us not being hypnotized by Obama, the following may apply to his many nonsequiturs:

A non sequitur (pronounced [ˌnɒnˈsɛkwɨtɚ]) is a conversational and literary device, often used for comical purposes (as opposed to its use in formal logic). It is a comment which, due to its lack of meaning relative to the comment it follows, is absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.

Continuing on...

Saying, for one example: “We need change...and...that is why I will be your next President.” is a basic pace and lead. No person can disagree with “we need change.” Change is inevitable anyway, certainly when problems exist. However, the fact that change will happen, or that we need change, has absolutely nothing to do with being a valid reason why the choice for President should be none other than Barack Obama.

Ha. This is priceless. The writer continues in the vein:

The subject walks away believing we need change, therefore we need Obama. It doesn’t matter whether the cause and effect linking statement has any truth or logical connection to it.

I'll stop here but the paper goes on for quite a bit. Includes an analysis of his hand gestures.


Wealth versus cash

Going through the same quote as Jonathan did 6 days ago.

If we (hypothetically) decide to eliminate takeout from our menu and eat tuna sandwiches instead, we are saving money. But the restaurant loses it. By foregoing spending, we are pulling money out of the economy. This is the insight behind the liquidity trap--if everyone tries to hoard money by selling more goods and services while buying fewer, the total demand for goods and services will drop, and we will make ourselves worse off.

Elementary microeconomic treatment, applied to money.

The above-described thriftiness can be analyzed in terms of supply and demand - specifically, supply of and demand for money. If people start trying to hoard money, they are revealing that their demand for money has increased. Since the quantity of money is fixed (the supply curve is vertical at the quantity), an increase in demand increases the purchasing power of money.

It's possible for everyone simultaneously to save more money than they were saving before, measured in purchasing power. While the average money held remains constant provided a constant population, the average value of money held can go up through an increase in its purchasing power. An attempt by one person to hoard purchasing power for a rainy day causes the purchasing power of everyone else's money to go up slightly. If everyone wants to hoard more purchasing power, they all can.

This continues until the value of money hits the intersection of supply and demand, which is a new equilibrium.

So:

If we (hypothetically) decide to eliminate takeout from our menu and eat tuna sandwiches instead, we are saving money.

Assuming this money is not spent on something else, or invested, but is rather kept in our pocket for a rainy day, then we are demonstrating that our demand for money has increased.

But the restaurant loses it. By foregoing spending, we are pulling money out of the economy.

We are forcing the restaurant to work harder for the money - to sell us more for less money. We are increasing the purchasing power of money.

This is the insight behind the liquidity trap--if everyone tries to hoard money by selling more goods and services while buying fewer, the total demand for goods and services will drop,

An increase in demand for money leads to deflation. This does not go on forever but stops at the new equilibrium defined by the intersection of the new demand curve with the vertical supply curve.

and we will make ourselves worse off.

This has not been demonstrated.

Here is a reason deflation is good: We hold money because of uncertainty about the future. After all, if we knew exactly what we were going to want at all times in the future, we could immediately purchase all those things, spending all our money immediately in exchange for future goods. We are prevented from doing this by uncertainty about the future.

When uncertainty (e.g. uncertainty created by government activity) about the future increases, then it is a good idea to have more money in our pocket for dealing with the increased uncertainty. The quantity of money is fixed, but what we really need is increased purchasing power, and deflation gives us that despite the fixed quantity of money.

This is extremely serious. Running out of purchasing power can be extremely unpleasant, even unhealthy, even deadly. The more uncertainty there is, the more purchasing power we need in order to minimize the chance of running out of it, thus minimizing the chance of an unpleasant, unhealthy, or even deadly event in our lives.

Government programs which have the effect of frustrating our attempts to hoard purchasing power are playing a dangerous and deadly game with our lives.


Darwinism must die?

Darwinism Must Die So That Evolution May Live

That's the title of a NYT opinion piece.

My first reaction: huh?

Searching for an explanation, I find this:

We don’t call astronomy Copernicism, nor gravity Newtonism.

Maybe not specifically, but science is filled with things named after scientists - including Copernicus and Newton. For example, the Copernican principle.

“Darwinism” implies an ideology adhering to one man’s dictates, like Marxism.

Not necessarily.

And “isms” (capitalism, Catholicism, racism) are not science.

Formalism? Adaptationism? Aneurysm? A joke, but argument-by-word-suffix seems terribly weak.

“Darwinism” implies that biological scientists “believe in” Darwin’s “theory.” It’s as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.

That is putting an awfully heavy load of interpretation on a single word.

Using phrases like “Darwinian selection” or “Darwinian evolution” implies there must be another kind of evolution at work, a process that can be described with another adjective.

So now the reason given is that it suggests that there are more than one actual mechanisms of evolution. How about this for an alternative: that there are more than one proposed mechanisms for evolution - such as Lamarckian evolution, which has been falsified but which surely is still talked about (e.g. when discussing the history of science).

The author really does seem to be throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Notice also that we have switched from "Darwinism" to "Darwinian". It's not really the "-ism" that was the offender, was it? I wonder what the words "Darwinism" and "Darwinian" have in common...

But the term “Darwinian” built a stage upon which “intelligent” could share the spotlight.

Seems rather a stretch to blame the name for the religious assault on the theory of natural selection. The roots of the assault run fairly deep and it seems doubtful that the choice of name would have made a detectable difference in how far it has gone.

Almost everything we understand about evolution came after Darwin, not from him.

So now the attack is on Darwin himself, or rather on his place in the history of science. It is, apparently, not the "-ism" in "Darwinism" that offends, nor the "-ian" in "Darwinian", but the "Darwin" in both. The use of his name gives him too much credit, or so it is suggested.

And yet we talk about Newtonian physics and Euclidean geometry, and there was plenty of progress in these fields after Newton and after Euclid, respectively. Using the names of Newton and of Euclid here does not give them too much credit.

In brief: I was not persuaded.


Financial crisis and the free market

Throughout the last century governments all over the world have consequently been reducing the level of freedom in economy, violating fundamental private property rights, enhancing control over human action and thus killing the social system based on voluntary exchanges, which is reffered to as the 'free market'. In consequence, the free market, the fundament of capitalism is extinct nowadays and is strongly prevented from occurring. What is more, the free market ideology remains under constant criticism and defamation by pseudo experts of the overwhelmingly dominating leftist elites. The economy is strongly regulated by a state in nearly all so called developed and developing countries. And what do we hear around now, when the credit crunch and the whole financial crisis has come into terms? This same politicians and economists and the slavish media announced the failure of capitalism! so I'm asking, how false can one get?! saying that the free market has been discredited (!), that the capitalism lost its face (!), that we became witnesses of the great bankruptcy of the market economy (!), where there hasn't been anything even close to free market since ages! And the brainwashed masses are buying this... The world ruled by these forces has seriously become disgusting with its hypocrisy, lip service, glory of a lie and personal freedom of choice raped. Little to say this is only possible in Democracy. This is inevitable in Democracy.


Amicus Plato, sed magis amica Veritas

Our capabilities of knowing or finding the Truth are restricted, we have to rely on various information resources, being unable to investigate everything individually, but the reason, logic and common sense combined with deductive thinking can compensate for obvious limitations. Lies in pure sciences will never last long as they create contradictions. Those will sooner or later be acknowledged as such and corrected by people loving the Virtue and caring for the Truth. Vincit omnia veritas! Intelligent people looking carefully should always have a chance to learn about it. But most people don't always think but use emotions, often becoming highly impenetrable for the Truth. And because of that Social Sciences, such as Economy for instance but also Philosophy are especially vulnerable to lies. These lies often result in cascades of lies and in a sort of chain reaction of self-propagating fallacies create pyramidal lies. And this is quite unfortunate as politics is mainly founded or backed by ideas stemming from economical and philosophical notions. Dangerous theories are always bearing some key lie or fallacy which will lead to another (Keynesianism, Marxism, Stalinism). Wrong assumptions serving nuclei of fake and destructive ideologies are surely not always caused by a mistake or scientific malpractice. Intentional misleading may also be of interest to particular environments, groups, organisations, secret antities, any forces that have the ambition to control the World. It is not difficult to lie, shape peoples' opinions by playing on their emotions with such powerfull instrument as TV or other media. Charls Marx's theories are classical example of the dissastrous impact which a false ideology may have on political order in the world. In the cradle of the most disgusting social and economical cancer of all times called communism, an inhuman system which has taken the heaviest toll of lives (Lenin, Stalin, Pol-Pot, Mao), we can find one 'innocent' lie among others, a simple lie, that people are equal...


Not completely extinct

Vast majority of Intellectuals nowadays tend to turn around and bent over in a classical use-me position to anything approved by the 'Ministry of Truth'. They often fail to comment on anything not approved yet by the official instruments of political correctness as if they waited to be told what they should say and what they shouldn't according to current trends and standards. Of course they cannot afford to commit a 'thought crime'. Some of them however remain honest, resistant to the taboos established by the 'police of thought' or simply forget themselves sometimes. Such a casus happend to the famous Nobel Prize Laureate James Watson, a co-discoverer of the double helix, the structure of DNA. In one interview he dared to say something about the average (genetically determined) differences in intelligence between the White and Black races. He only said something scientifically proven but unfortunately he entered a totally forbidden field of ridiculed 'freedom of speech'. I guess he must have been 'persuaded' to resigned from the honorary headship of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory at Florida due to this 'incident'. Terror can only escalate and bullshit can only baffle brains (Merda taurorum animas conturbit).

The only oasis of real Freedom of Speech is the Internet, God knows how long though as these gangsters want to take even this from us (in the States these intentions are camouflaged under such bills as the Patriot Act or covered by such institutions as the Department of Homeland Security, allegedly appointed to fight the terrorism.. in fact giving the insatiate Bureaucracy an extensive arsenal of provisions and possibilities to enhance the control over all citizens). Recently I've been sent via e-mail a humorous text about how times has changed. This message was distributed by one of the Professors in London who I know and respect a lot, and it is very encouraging, that there are still individuals who haven't stopped using their brains or who's brains are still not baffled by overwhelming propaganda. Those who value freedom beyond 'security' are not completely extinct, even among the Intellectuals!

Here's the text:

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE
1940's, 50's, 60's and 70's !
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nandos.

Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn't open on the weekends, somehow we didn't starve to death!

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy Toffees, Gobstoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY, no video/dvd films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no Lawsuits from these accidents.

Only girls had pierced ears!

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time...

We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays,

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Mum didn't have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!

RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on MERIT
Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully's always ruled the playground at school.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

Our parents didn't invent stupid names for their kids like 'Kiora' and 'Blade' and 'Ridge' and 'Vanilla'

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
And YOU are one of them!
CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
A'int it the TRUTH!
This is basically showing in a satirical way how the welfare state with its bureaucracy will always endeavor towards expansion. It is worth quoting the O'Sullivan's Law by this occasion: 'Any organisation not planned carefully as a Right-wing with time will change into Left-wing' and Charles Marx's 'words of wisdom' which this time are exceptionally honest: 'To introduce socialism into a country it is enough to introduce democracy therein'. And the best conclusion to that would be a very wise statement formulated by C. S. Lewis: 'Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.'


Domitius Ulpian, Bjarne Stroustrup and the Twilight of Civilization

A long time ago, when the middle ages evolved into Renaissance in Europe, the civilization started its expansion. An enormous potential accumulated over those ages of growth gave the Civilization of the White Man the power to conquer the World. Its strength, built on a Christian core supported by the ancient wisdom of Aristotle (incorporated into our philosophical system by St. Thomas Aquinas), led to creation of what we call nowadays the Western World. This is the history... now, little to say, we are living in very interesting times. The inversion of fundamental values of our civilization is taking place without even being noticed. This civilization which developed over nineteen centuries, roots of which are embedded in ancient Greece and Rome, the civilization which allowed humanity to develop so greatly is being abused, ridiculed and destroyed.

To envision what exactly is happening and why, we need to define what the 'civilization' is. In brief, a civilization can be understood as a set of values and rules derived from them which form a certain order (law) regulating human relations. Why do I claim that the values of our civilization are depreciated and violated?

Lets start from the primary problem: fundamental, old Roman rule formulated by Domitius Ulpian: Volenti non fit iniuria, which can be translated as: One who consents cannot complain. What can be concluded from this is very simple: even if a particular action is potentially beneficial for an individual, nobody has a right to enforce it, no matter how good it may possibly be. Every human being has an inviolable (sacred!) right to decide about their life, even to finish it, from the legal standpoint (in Christian and other major religions the life is God's gift and only God can take it back). Is it not a total absurd to violently protect people from suicide? Another one is obligatory insurance. Why do I have to be insured? Why do I have to have my seat belt fastened!? I can only harm myself if anything, but They would fine me for this! Punish me for doing with my life what I want! One is not a master of one's own life any more! A complete nonsense. It is unbelievably wrong, but commonly accepted! And the politicians calling themselves 'liberals' support this coercion sans intention comique.

All such nonsense is stemming from one temptation to which ruling class always falls prey: easy money-making hanky panky on naive society. Legalised robbery on massive scale. How come? Order every man to be insured and you will charge them for that. Create the public health service, tax everyone, and then ideas such as 'compulsory seat belt' will breed like hamsters. Why, it may reduce the number and cost of public health service intervention. Soon we may face having a policeman coming each night to check if we brushed our teeth, or even better, if our children did. In case they didn't they could be taken away from their parents by social care... (dental services are not cheap!). Why should you complain? it's for your own good, is it not?! Not to mention the ridiculous governmental ban on selected drugs (while others are legal, to make it funnier). Soon we may witness the ban on fatty foods under a threat of a serious fine! They are believed to be unhealthy after all so apparently this would be another brilliant regulation for the good of the people! Why not prohibiting sugar, heart diseases are probably the most common cause of dead.. oh, perhaps the governmental calculation in this case indicates that sugar is actually advantageous as its obese victims usually don't reach the retirement age? Great! Why not impelling them to pay superannuation and never give it back! It is amazing how our actual system is perfectly designed to indolently swindle money out of the stupid member of democratic society, who would applaud like a miserable clown. Sad lough.

"In history, some of the worst disasters have been caused by idealists trying to force people into ‘doing what is good for them’. Such idealism not only heads to suffering among its innocent victims, but also to delusion and corruption of the idealists applying the force"
Bjarne Stroustrup, the designer and implementer of C++ programming language

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
C. S. Lewis

-How do you make money fighting the narco-business?
-You tax the society...
-Again?
-Why not? They obeyed before - they'll obey now (how could they possibly not, if they have chosen us to decide for them, wouldn't they make fools of themselves? Of course they would). Just need to convince them that this is for their own good and well being! As easy as this! Maybe you don't even have to convince them of anything anymore... they believe (we told them) they were Democratic Society, after all...
You run an endless war with mafia, which gives you a guaranteed business forever. Moreover, you are payed by mafia to keep the ban, otherwise the mafia, by definition, would stop existing! Illegal drugs would become cheap like parsnips and the drug gangs-associated violence would end! Both you (the government) and mafia wouldn't like that, would they? This is how the big puppet theatre could die! But we have to keep it alive, of course! The show must go on! We must keep paying our actors or rather sacrificial dummies (most of them believe they are doing a real thing!) and Big Directors. Indeed, no government wants to solve a given problem, it is correct to say that they want to be solving that problem. Once they have it solved how would they justify further pillage on society? emm.. sorry, 'taxing'?

Democracy itself is indeed a symptom of the rotten civilization. But I don't want to make it a too far digression. Let's try to look again at the basic phenomena telling us of the downfall of Western Civilization.

In the core of our civilization there has always been a conviction, that every man is an architect of his own fortunes (by Appius Claudius Caecus). Now we are taught something completely opposite, the state relieves one from elementary responsibility, organises bail outs for frauds, heals drug addicts, redistributes wealth, excuses murderers and thieves...

What about courage? The courage to guard the Truth, Honesty, Property, Freedom, Independence... any Value? They teach us to obey thugs when we are burgled, not to defend, they say we are not supposed to fight for our honour, religion, beliefs (Muslims are not afraid to die for it, that's why Civilization of Islam may win and take over, it is quite clear looking at what happens in Western Europe). Our leaders promote depreciation of the basic values that constitute the cradle of our moral system. Who will protect us against the mob, burglars, kidnappers, terrorists, if we are taught to dialogue with them. We are supposed to negotiate with them, pay a ransom, make a scum the winner! Let them dominate! But never fight. Armies of modern democratic countries are so fucking miserable. Soldiers scared of fighting, humiliating themselves on every front. These all is because another core element of our civilisation is defiled, the belief in the values that are worth dying for, the belief in God, Honour, Liberty. We are taught, nowadays, that the highest value is human life. With this assumption in mind nobody will risk their life for anything, if someone decides to take Europe over tomorrow, nothing easier, who would defend us? Who would risk their lives if it is the biggest value one has? One cannot permit the domination of Evil, once it happens it is only a matter of time. And the death of a civilization is a matter of time, when there be no one to defend it. If you substitute all the values in a civilization to different ones (in our case: completely opposite ones) this must lead to destruction. This deviated world order is doomed to fall, in any rate, but surely, unless we sober up and do a big turning back to the roots of our magnificence. This is however very unlikely, the process of 'new education' exercised on modern societies is probably too advanced already, with all its consequences. There seem to be no powerful enough antidote for all the poison of destructive propaganda of so called 'progress' soaked in people's brains.

People don't like changes, they are afraid of changes, without a serious crisis it is very unlikely that anybody will open their eyes. The degradation will continue, as everything is in huge excess. All the goods are excessive which is why people stopped even caring about the massive stealing, government counterfeiting, fraud and money wasting which is a hallmark of democratic republics. People even buy scams like fighting global warming... The technological progress happened so fast that it still saturates all people's needs, but the thievery and squandering is going on such a humongous scale that sooner or later this has to end. The excess wealth and technological advances will not manage to keep up with it. First symptoms of salvation crisis will be the bankruptcy of a pension system. Gilt-edged securities released by modern states to cover their expenses increase every year in a self-propagating manner. When will this collapse? Who will prick the bubble? It will burst spontaneously. And there won't be any way to artificially fix it, as They did now with the 'banks'. The masses of people harmed by deceitful governments will wash the soap off their eyes and the old leaders will face the inevitable judgement. People live in this system without denying it only because it is still easy enough to live, despite all the outrage. We can use an analogy with a ship to describe it. I heard it from JKM. Imagine a ship sailing across a peaceful ocean, smoothly moving forward. We can have a democracy, even plutocracy on the board, in this situation it doesn't matter at all, as there aren't any problems! But imagine that suddenly in front of the ship a terrifying storm is seen and rocks emerged all around, democracy or whatever a ridiculous system there was would be over, there must be a captain! (It is the same with a company, you don't let cleaners decide, you leave it to experts!) Women would start hiding screaming: save us captain! But ever before people start noticing a danger, they will defend the status quo.

Finally, the sickness of our times revealed in recent 'credit crunch' situation in Europe, when the European Union authorities decided to organise financial support for local crooks (like America did). Such decisions are always easy for democratic politicians as they're giving away not their but other people's money. And even easier if you consider that they will always get their ~10% of any subsidies to be approved (after all, who said a crook cannot be grateful!?). So they decided to give their banks a lot... a lot more than US gave their crooks. But the head of Deutsche Bank, a Swiss gentleman, stated that he would not take that charity, as his bank was fine. He would feel humiliated as an entrepreneur to take tax payer's money! And what was the reaction of the political elites to such a man of honour? They criticised the hell out of him! Who on earth has ever seen someone being scolded for not taking the money? public money! Instead of praising the prosperous bank and its leader they started attacking him! This is a complete paradox for every normal person. But the explanation for this is again very simple. This man refused to join the stinky gang of thieves, the union of crooked corrupted sons of bitches. He honourably declined the subsidy, showing at the same time, that it is possible to run a bank without bankrupting. People could start doubting in fairness of this, how generous, help for banks! Politicians couldn't afford this. Their pockets were already wide open for all the appreciations! In Europe they only wait what Americans will do to do the same on a larger scale. And suddenly some fairly honest guy wants to mess it all up! No way they'll let it happen.

However, for our civilization it is not important that politicians steal, they always did throughout the ages. What is eminent now is that not only politicians but the whole society takes part in this massive festival of stealing! Politicians have always been using their power, special provisions and entitlements for personal interests. Those where unmasked with time and replaced by new ones. In our current system we arrived to the point that everybody steals as much as they can, there are no elites to replace the traitors and thieves with, whole societies are deeply penetrated by this gangrene. It starts to be impossible to live different, everybody is forced to adjust (like the Chief of Deutsche Bank was reminded to). People see that if one does not act dishonestly somebody else will, and they will end up being screwed from behind. Such deeply demoralising system makes people leech as much from the 'common wealth' as possible, there's one common sack, one common trough, into which most citizens add a bit, and the contest is about who withdraws more.

The total bankruptcy of this system is inevitable without coming back to order established throughout the centuries, based on inalienable rights and values, based on reason, natural law and individual freedom. This order is being actively broken down by people who have nothing better (if anything at all) to offer and by 'useful idiots' that follow their false prophets of the so called 'progress' which in fact is nothing else than a serious mental, philosophical and moral regress. What's in front of us?


The Stimulus Centralizes and Destroys Medicine, Intentionally

Centralizes medicine:

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Destroys medicine:

The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

From Bloomberg via The Agitator.


I come out against illegal immigrants

No, not generally speaking, but in this case, going by what is described here, I come out against the illegals.

This the first time I found myself siding with the American citizen who rounded them up. A novel experience.

An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Roger Barnett, 64, began rounding up illegal immigrants in 1998 and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, he said, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home.

In my view, property owners have far more genuine rights to defend their property than is currently recognized in law.

At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett’s dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, “My dog is hungry and he’s hungry for buttocks.”

Good for him. Trespassers do not deserve any better.

One way this may be reversed: if he has not clearly marked his property. A person can't be blamed for trespassing on property that has not been clearly marked.

If you are upset by what this guy is doing and seriously want to help illegals, you might buy property along the border and then simply turn a blind eye to trespass.


More on the Paradox of Thrift

Here's Matt Yglesias, making the argument that I've been trying to cash out for the past week:

Now we’ve entered “paradox of thrift” territory. People are saving more. And the increased saving isn’t being cycled back into the economy as new investment. In part, that’s because of problems in the financial system. But in part, it’s because with short-term demand slumping so much, there’s not a lot of worthwhile investing to be doing. The economy needs someone to decide to borrow some money and start a new firm that employs these newly unemployed people. But with the volume of consumption going down so rapidly, nobody’s really in the mood to start a new business. And existing businesses are busy scaling back production, not interested in borrowing money to ramp it up. The result of this is an overall fall in the average level of income. And that means that even with the share of income being saved going up, the actual level of savings can be going down and we can truly end up in the toilet.

Tyler Cowen thinks Matt's explanation is mostly right, although he says that it's wrong to think of Americans saving more, since they weren't really saving all that much to start with. According to Cowen, it's more accurate to say that the paradox could result instead in rising levels of debt to GDP. Specifically, if people begin to "save" by paying back credit card debts, then that's okay if they're paying those debts to relatively healthy banks that can turn around and lend the money back. But if those payments are mostly going to zombie banks, then the bank might well just hold on to the cash. And that can create problems.

I'm inclined to think that this is pretty much the argument I've been making. Though, obviously, if I could make it as well as Matt and/or Tyler, then I'd be either a famous blogger or an econ professor at George Mason.


Words

Artificial Intelligence is a disorienting subject. A few days ago, I realized for the first time the poverty of human language as a communication medium. It is incredibly imprecise; semantic ambiguity is ubiquitous. If it weren't for vast amounts of shared background knowledge between human speakers, many utterances would be unintelligible.

This accounts for the impossibility of creating computers that can understand the natural language used by human beings. As usual, nature has evolved a twisty, inelegant solution that works well enough. It is very hard to copy her ways.


A Hidden Benefit of Recessions

The reduction in state tax revenue from the recession might, just might, force the government to consider cutting back on imprisoning non-violent drug offenders, if only to save money. From the Washington Post:

Under the proposal being drafted by Senate leaders from both parties, Virginia would expand its use of home monitoring and make it easier for nonviolent offenders to be released after they complete drug treatment programs.

The state would then close one or two prisons, which would free up at least $50 million to help address a $3 billion budget shortfall.

The Senate plan, which is expected to be finalized this week, expands Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's earlier cost-cutting proposal to allow some prison officials to release nonviolent inmates 90 days before the end of their sentences.

It's a start, although it remains to be seen whether this proposal will pass, since, as David Albo says of the House Republicans, "They want to release drug dealers, and none of us are willing to release drug dealers." David Albo, Virginia residents might recall, is the buffoon who views the traffic code as a way to drum up business for his law firm, so maybe he shouldn't be the go-to guy on law and order issues.