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Shame on You

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat's three-way discussion of the virtue (or lack thereof) of shame in promoting "traditional" family structure has sparked rather a lot of interesting commentary, including this, from The American Prospect's Adam Serwer:

Conservatives regularly overestimate the beneficial effects of shame. Shame provokes response in the form of impulse, not long term planning. A person who is ashamed isn't going to think, "I'd better get a degree" or "I'd better get married," they're going to think in the short term about what they can do to rectify their sense of self-worth. How do you see people--men in particular--act when they're ashamed? You rarely see them do something like get married or get a fantastic job; usually they're going to hurt or exploit someone, make them feel as low as they do.

This strikes me as pretty seriously overstated. Indeed, I think that liberals and conservatives alike probably understate the beneficial effects of shame. (Though to be fair to Serwer, it does seem to be true that conservatives regularly overestimate the extent to which shame can be used to keep teenagers from boinking one another.)

So what makes me think that Serwer's claim is overstated? I give you, as exhibit A, the relative effectiveness of deliberative democracy.

Political Theory 101. Picture humans in the state of nature. On one version, we're purely rational beings, concerned only with maximizing our own well-being. You and I come upon an apple tree with lots of lovely apples -- all of which are too high for either of us to reach. Should we cooperate to get the apples? Sure. As long as you are the one to go up in the tree and toss them down. After which, I'll leave you in the tree and run off with all the apples. Of course, you know this, and so won't want to go into the tree -- not without, say, a plan to hit me in the head with the first apple you pick. But I, knowing this, will defend myself...and you can see where this is going. We end up with a Hobbesian state of nature, one in which an all-powerful Leviathan armed with absolute powers of life and death steps in to change our incentives and make cooperation look more attractive.

But that's not the only possible vision of life in the state of nature. There's also the version where you and I, bound by some basic understanding of the demands of morality, actually cooperate for the most part. We might still need some sort of third-party to help resolve disputes; after all, we're still mainly self-interested, and not everyone behaves according to the requirements of morality. But in Locke's vision, the state is there mainly to resolve disputes and to protect us from those who don't do what they ought. That's a very different role from the one Hobbes describes, where the state is necessary to protect us from our perfectly rational behavior.

Looking around at the world, it seems pretty obvious that Locke is right. We humans survive perfectly well without a Leviathan. So what is it that Hobbes leaves out?

I'd argue that it's shame.

The simple fact is, most of us follow the dictates of morality most of the time. And it's not fear of getting punished that keeps us on the straight and narrow. Indeed, if the only thing that is keeping you from murdering me is fear of jail, then you're not the sort of person I really want to associate with. So what does keep us behaving morally? John Stuart Mill gives us a pretty good account:

We do not call anything wrong, unless we mean to imply that a person ought to be punished in some way or other for doing it; if not by law, by the opinion of his fellow-creatures; if not by opinion, by the reproaches of his own conscience.

Mill tells us that Hobbes got things wrong. Humans aren't motivated only by formal sanctions issuing from the Leviathan. We're also motivated by the opinion of our fellow-creatures. We're worried, in other words, that if we do something that other people don't like, they will think less of us. As children, we start to internalize those worries, such that when we fail to live up to those values that we have internalized, we feel bad about it. That feeling is what we generally call guilt. And, for most of us, guilt and shame can't really be disconnected.

We can certainly disagree about whether or not a particular action ought to be stigmatized. Personally, I side with Coates and Serwer on the specific issue. If a "traditional" family works for you, great. That's your choice to make, and I'm happy to let you make it. But if you prefer to marry a person with plumbing like yours (or half a dozen people or the ghost of your dead lover whom only you can see) and raise a dozen identical clones created from the genes of Brad Pitt and Mother Teresa, then as long as all the participants are on board and you can afford to raise and educate your clone-lets, I wish you well. And I don't think that you should be ashamed of your personal preferences.

But I think we should be careful about the sorts of things to which we attach shame precisely because shame is a socially useful (and hugely effective) too. Discounting the general usefulness of shame because you disagree with its application in a particular case is both wrong and counterproductive.


Myth and Cult: How Atheists Misunderstand Religion

Commentlog was a blog dedicated to preserving and centralizing the most thoughtful comments left on other people's blogs. Sadly, the editor has let his hosting account expire. I say "sadly" because I need a particular post of his for a future piece, and hardly a week goes by that I don't want to recommend it to someone.

I managed to find it through the magic of Google cache. So to save myself trouble, I repost it here in its entirety.

Because the rest of this post is just a verbatim quote, I forgo using any special formatting to delineate it:

"Deep in a comment thread on Unqualified Reservations, Michael S. provides the best apologia of traditional religion that I have ever read. Years ago I stopped believing in the Christian God and left the church. Had there been anyone of Michael's intellectual caliber still left in the Catholic church, perhaps things would have gone differently. Below I have reproduced Michael's key comments from thread, so that others may read them easily:

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There are at least two components to any religion, namely myth and cult. Under the heading of myth are comprised all of the just-so stories of ancient or primitive peoples. An example is the Greek myth which explained the daily rising and setting of the sun as the passage of Apollo riding his fiery chariot across the sky.The Greeks became good astronomers and by the classical period had developed better ideas about the nature of the heavenly bodies than that myth implied. Nonetheless, they did not give up the cult of Apollo, which persisted right up until the suppression of paganism. Literal belief in the myth was not necessary to the cult. The myth could be understood as symbolism and poetry.

A case in point of the distinction between myth and cult is seen in the life of Cicero, a hard-headed politician and lawyer whose surviving writings indicate that he was a follower of the New Academy of Carneades, which held that certain knowledge was impossible, and that practical assumptions based on probability were as much as could be achieved. Yet this practical and skeptical man also prized his initiation into the mysteries of Eleusis, which he claimed was the best and most divine gift of Athens to the world. One cannot imagine that Cicero took the myth as literal truth, but he was an enthusiastic participant in the cult.

Because the Abrahamic religions are scriptural, and a substantial number of their believers insist on the literal truth of scripture, it is more difficult to distinguish myth and cult in them than it is in ancient religions. Nonetheless the distinction can still be made.

Consider the example of the prophet Daniel, who, as told in the apocryphal book Bel and the Dragon, acted as a sort of spiritual detective. Scattering ashes on the floor of the temple of Bel, he revealed that the offerings said to be eaten by the idol were actually removed by Bel's fraudulent priests; feeding an unpalatable meal to a 'dragon' worshipped by the Babylonians, he caused it to burst and die. This narrative is the antecedent of Black Sea's scenario in which a primitive's supposition that a little man must be talking inside the transistor radio is refuted by opening it.

When Dawkins and other proselytizing atheists point out the errors, inconsistencies, and crudities of the Bible, they hope to be the doughty Daniels of their own True Faith. But by showing that there is a great deal of myth in scripture, all they are doing is to fault the people of two or three millennia ago for not being aware of current scientific theory and for using the means available to them to describe natural phenomena.

Serious adherents of the cults of Judaism or Christianity are not at all disturbed by this news. They are already aware of it. The theory of evolution, to cite one example, does not per se disturb any Christian who is not a literalist. What disturbs him is the neo-Epicureanism that frequently accompanies it (and for which there is no more empirical basis than there is for the idea of intelligent design).

The ultimate vindication of the truth of Daniel's faith, we may recall, came after his exposure of Bel and the Dragon. It was then that his enemies caused him to be thrown into the lions' den. It is unfortunate that Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. have so far, in their attacks on fundamentalism/salvationism, chosen to face only a few malnourished alley cats. They need to withstand sharper and bigger claws and teeth before their testimony is credible. Although I'm not a Roman Catholic, my suggestion is that they be thrown to the Jesuits.

Some years ago I read a transcript of an interview of the great scientific cosmologist Stephen Hawking. I do not recall who conducted the interview. At its conclusion the interviewer asked Hawking, did he believe that the universe had a creator? Hawking said that he did not. Why? the interviewer asked. Hawking responded, "Because I find it more aesthetic." There spoke both an honest atheist and one with a much better philosophical footing than Dawkins and his ilk.

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Black Sea, I did not say that you exemplified the type of proselytizing atheist I meant. I said that you and Aaron Davies illustrated the problem such people face. They think their task is as simple as breaking open the transistor radio to show the Amazon tribesman there is no little man inside. In representing the belief of theists as based in ignorance, and proposing themselves as instructors having the knowledge to remedy that ignorance, they both misrepresent the basis of religious belief and condescend to the believer, while expressing an undue confidence in their own intellectual superiority.

Of course there are simple and unsophisticated believers who are literalists. They understand their religion according to their capacity, and it is unlikely they would understand science any better.
There seems to be no appreciation amongst atheists of the Dawkins type that organized religion has always had to contend with excessivley credulous believers, and in many cases has served to restrain superstition rather than to encourage it. Chesterton is supposed to have observed (though no one seems to be able to find the source) that when men no longer believe in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything.

The wisdom of this observation is seen in the recent popularity of accounts of flying saucers, alien abductions, and similar uncanny experiences. It is evident to anyone who is familiar with their history that people have been seeing strange apparitions since time immemorial. It is also evident that they always see these things in culturally appropriate ways. The pagans of classical antiquity saw the gods, nymphs, satyrs, centaurs, sylphs, and so forth. Christians saw angels, demons, the Blessed Virgin, the saints, etc. Mohammedans saw djinn, efreets, and the other marvels related in the Arabian Nights. People began to see flying saucers and little green men in the late 1940s - after they had been culturally conditioned for several decades by the work of H.G. Wells and the pulps published by Hugo Gernsback. Enthusiasts of the extraterrestrial commonly explain the experiences of past visionaries with angels, demons, etc. as being 'close encounters' with aliens. They would no doubt bristle with indignation if it were suggested to them that the aliens they thought they saw were in fact messengers from God or the Devil, djinn, or the elementals described by the abbé Montfaucon de Villars in his "Comte de Gabalis."

Such credulous folk, who believe in anything, really ought not to be fair game for Dawkins and crew. They will always be among us even if atheism becomes the state religion. Under the former Soviet Union there was a widespread literature devoted to supposed extraterrestrial visitations. Since the press in that country was under the complete control of the state, one can only conclude that the powers-that-were wished to encourage belief in these manifestations, as a means of undermining the Christianity they had failed to supplant amongst ordinary people with the bald and unconvincing narrative of their Marxist atheism.

Let me make my own point of view clear - it is that the only position tenable from a viewpoint of strict empiricism is that the existence or non-existence of God are equally un-disprovable. Pointing to one or another scriptural absurdity iluustrates only that the man who wrote it long ago failed to understand matters properly; pointing out that many people still believe that absurdity, in the face of evidence to the contrary, proves only that there are still many simple and unsophisticated people. On the other hand, all the arguments customarily advanced by religious believers, such as the argument by design, are such as to be convincing only to people who already believe.

Yet all these things being taken into consideration, two points remain. The first is anthropological: there is no society known to history in which there is not some sort of spiritual belief. This coincides with the ancient Christian doctrine that all people are inherently aware of God even if they have not the knowledge of the Gospel. Physical explanations of instinctive spirituality ("the God gene") are not persuasive, because they run afoul of the mind-body problem. One is left with the nagging suspicion that there might be something to the spiritual, though just what is the great question.

The second point is aesthetic. Arguably, the highest achievements of the human species have been motivated by that instinctive spirituality just mentioned. The great cathedrals, the precious heritage of religious art and music, are not only monuments to religious belief, but more persuasive testimonies to and arguments for faith than the disputations of theology. Have you ever read the story of the conversion of St. Vladimir, the founder of the Russian Orthodox Church? He was, as the account goes, a pagan prince of the line of Rurik; and an enthusiastic pagan, having built several temples. Yet he was not quite satisfied with his religion, and agreed to hear deputations of Muslims, Jews, and Christians each deliver their respective sales pitches. The presentations of the first two were rather arid, but the Christians (who had come from Byzantium) put on by far the best show, high mass with all the smells and bells, rich vestments, singing, the whole nine yards. Vladimir was convinced - any religion that was so beautiful had to be the right one (it also didn't hurt that it had the least restrictive dietary rules, and no ban on booze). Accordingly, Russia became Christian, and Vladimir a saint - all on the basis of his aesthetic judgment.

I suppose these anthropological and aesthetic reasons explain why many people remain culturally Christian despite an abundance of doubts and discontents. They aren't willing to dismiss the spiritual out of hand; they see more benefit than detriment accruing to society from religion in spite of their doubts (as did Jefferson and Franklin); and they find Christianity aesthetically appealing (as did St. Vladimir). They are therefore unwilling to discard it in favor of the barren and austere horizon offered by the crusading atheism of a Dawkins. For my part, I'll wait to see whether Dawkinsianity produces anything equivalent to Chartres, Handel's Messiah or Mozart's Requiem, the Pietà or the Sistine ceiling. When it does we may re-evaluate it to see if it offers anything worthwhile.

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Mr. Davies, I suspect that Ayn Rand's 'proof' of the non-existence of God is a mirror-image of the mediæval scholastic proofs of the existence of God; both are persuasive only to people who already believe. Also, is the omniscient, omnipotent Abrahamic God really "modern"? Deists like Lord Herbert of Cherbury were beginning to move away from that concept nearly four centuries ago. Newton and Locke followed in his footsteps. Washington, an outwardly observant Anglican but also a Freemason, always couched his utterances with regard to deity in terms more reminiscent of Masonic ritual than of the Anglican service. Yet such deists were not atheists of the Dawkinsian stripe. They believed the universe had its Great Architect and that his handiwork was made manifest in the order and symmetry of nature. They further believed that Christianity brought great benefits to society, and tried in some cases to 'reform' it in ways that eliminated those parts they considered superstitious and backward. Examples of these efforts are the Jefferson Bible and the Franklin/Dashwood Prayer Book. Are these not more 'modern' strains of belief than the caricature presented by Rand?

And has not Randism been almost from the start yet another illustration of the Chestertonian axiom? Maybe it is not quite as outlandish as flying saucers but it is assuredly a cult of the type that substitutes itself for more conventional religion. Ayn Rand herself was almost the model of the autocratic prophet, excommunicating from the fellowship of the faithful any who dared (however meekly) to question her pronouncements. In this respect she belongs amongst the ranks of such charlatans as Freud, Jung, Crowley, or Hubbard.

As for Randy's observation about what it means to be an atheist, I suspect it means different things to each atheist in the same way that being a Jew or a Christian means differing things to each Jew or each Christian. We can only evaluate the belief of such people based on their own testimony. But what we must note is that many of these disputants come in an odd way to resemble all they deplore about their adversaries. We need only contemplate the example of Christopher Hitchens, who is every bit as obnoxious in his own way as Pat Robertson is, or the late Jerry Falwell was, in theirs respectively. The fervency of the undoubting atheist is no less troubling than the fervency of the undoubting Christian, Muslim, etc.; both have been, and still are, rationales for the most appalling cruelties."


Obama as Kitsch

I'm horribly late, but this is the best piece I've seen on the mass psychology of the Obamanon - Obama as egalitarian kitsch. The author first quotes Milan Kundera:

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.
--Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

And he uses that as a springboard to explain Obama's power:

What makes kitsch bad art, its unearned catharsis, makes it the most effective demagogy. It requires nothing of us other than acquiescence to the sentiment. Because kitsch is the willed absence of doubt, it acts as a neatly closed emotional system, impervious to skepticism and hostile to introspection--herein lies its political genius. Through propaganda, kitsch arouses revolutionary ardor and imposes totalitarian control. Kitsch fires up the rabble and cows the mass.

I don't know much about the author, but he was granted more eloquence at birth than a dozen average writers combined.


There's More to Economics than Macro

Gregory Clark calls out economists as failures in an interesting piece over at the Atlantic's business section:

The debate about the bank bailout, and the stimulus package, has all revolved around issues that are entirely at the level of Econ 1. What is the multiplier from government spending? Does government spending crowd out private spending? How quickly can you increase government spending? If you got a A in college in Econ 1 you are an expert in this debate: fully an equal of Summers and Geithner.

The bailout debate has also been conducted in terms that would be quite familiar to economists in the 1920s and 1930s. There has essentially been no advance in our knowledge in 80 years.

I find this an extremely frustrating line of argument. Look, you'll get no arguments from me that modern macro has not been a beacon of light in the financial turmoil. But the idea that somehow the failure to predict, or solve, banking crises somehow discredits all of economics, from industrial organization to labor and everything else, is bizarre. Really, Greg, do you think your excellent book on economic history has been revealed as rubbish because GDP might decline 5%? Nonsense.

Or, as Will Wilkinson (who has been on fire lately) put it: It's macro that's embarrassing.


Pace of Estimate Changes Exceeds Estimates

The Washington Post published an article today with the headline "Scientists: Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates". From that, you might get the idea that, you know, the actual pace of climate change, say temperature, was exceeding the estimates. You'd be wrong:

CHICAGO, Feb. 14 -- The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists said Saturday.

"We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

So what they really mean is that the estimates themselves are likely to be low. Now, that may be truly bad news; I don't know much about climate science. But it isn't the case that the actual pace of climate change has exceeded anything, and headlines to the contrary are misleading and annoying.


Jacob and Will on Liberalitarianism

Like many libertarians, Jacob expresses considerable skepticism about Will Wilkinson's liberaltarian project (though I much prefer Will's "Rawlsekianism"):

I always thought the libertarian-leftist alliance was doomed by the fact that they sort of hate us.

I, too, think a libertarian-leftist alliance is pretty unlikely. But that's really okay, since no one is actually talking about allying with leftists. Libertarians have a very long tradition of bashing those on the left. To me, this is a bit puzzling. My formative years mostly happened after the Cold War was over. So what I've seen since I became a legal adult is a pair of Republican presidents explode deficits, massively expand entitlement programs, and launch two disastrous wars in Asia and another in Africa. In between, I watched a Democratic president champion welfare reform and a free trade act, balance a budget, and help bring relative stability to the Balkans.

Many of those acts were pretty unpopular with a broad segment of the left. We can call that the Barbara Ehrenreich wing of the left -- the neo-Marxist, anti-capitalist, isolationist, identity-politics wing. To belong to this faction, I think, is to be a leftist, in the sense that Jacob understands.

But that's not liberalism. Leftism, indeed, is pretty fundamentally illiberal. As someone commented already (though I can't remember who offhand), it's actually somewhat strange that Ehrenreich and someone like Brad DeLong find themselves in the same coalition. Say what you like about DeLong (and I've criticized him myself), he's pretty reasonable on things like free trade and immigration. There's a lot of common ground to be found there.

I think Will has this one right. Liberals (of the boradly Rawlsian sort) and libertarians (of the non-Rothbardian sort, anyway) have a fair amount of common ground. We agree on a number of first principles (respect for autonomy and state neutrality being the biggies). Our disagreements mostly arise over how best to implement those principles. But these are (mostly) pragmatic disagreements. Those can often be overcome more easily than philosophical disagreements.

That's not to say that this will be easy. One might in fact point out that at least some of the hating goes both ways. Liberals will have to get over their reflexive support of government regulation. Meanwhile we libertarians may have to get over our reflexive dislike of government regulation. If there is any merit at all in Rawlsekianism, it's going entail that there are places where Rawls is actually right (gasp!)

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.

This observation, while admittedly clever, is, I think, flatly wrong. I'd argue that several of the DR bloggers fall into the liberaltarian category. Indeed, I believe it was Matt McIntosh who once described himself as "a liberal who actually wants to help people." Wilkinson probably also falls into this category. I'd argue that Megan McArdle, Matt Yglesias and a good chunk of the staff at reason could fairly be described this way, too.


Immigration as Stimulus

Actual, certified Thinker endorses Arthur B.-Curunir plan on fighting the recession:

Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”


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.


Better Cross-country Comparisons Please!

Canadaphile libertarian Will Wilkinson pointed to a piece by Fareed Zakaria arguing Canadian policies have handled the financial crisis better than America. The piece is interesting and worth a read, but I wanted to highlight this part:

Canada has done more than survive this financial crisis. The country is positively thriving in it. Canadian banks are well capitalized and poised to take advantage of opportunities that American and European banks cannot seize.

I don't doubt that the Canadian banking sector is doing better than America's banks. But is the country "thriving"? To my knowledge, they haven't released GDP statistics from the last quarter, but predictions are not optimistic:

In the worst year-over-year performance since August 1991, the economy shrank 0.8 percent compared with November 2007. The Canadian dollar strengthened slightly after the data

Economists, surprised by the swift deterioration from a 0.1 percent decline in October, now expect the fourth-quarter contraction of close to 3 percent. That compares with the Bank of Canada's latest projection of a 2.3 percent decline.

So, roughly a 3% (annualized, I'm assuming) decline in the fourth quarter. The advanced estimates (always subject to revision) are the U.S. declined 3.8%. Now, I'm strongly considered with economic growth, and 1% differences over time matter enormously. But it's absurd to claim that a 3.8% decline is a new Great Depression and a global catastrophe, while a 3% decline is "thriving".

This may seem like needless nitpicking, or defensive nationalism, but it isn't. I'd like nothing better for Canada to really be thriving, as it would not only be good for them, but it would also help pull the U.S. out of recession. But it just doesn't seem to be the case, and it matters. As the U.S. begins tossing aside the failed market economy* and moving towards social democracy, it pays to see just what countries are in fact doing better than others, and why. There will be some great empirical studies that look at what factors help a country prevent or weather banking crises such as the current troubles. Just asserting, sans evidence, that the U.S. is doing terrible compared to other countries isn't sufficient.

[*] Everyone here knows this problem wasn't caused by a free market, but at this point, that fight is almost unwinnable.


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.


Zorg defends the broken window fallacy

Defense starts at about the 30-second mark.


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.