At first glance, the core insights of economics seem mundane. As something’s cost rises, consumers buy less of it. Producing more clothing requires transferring more resources to textile factories and, hence, away from other uses. When Jen buys a pear from Al for a dollar, she does so because she values the pear more than whatever she otherwise would have purchased with that dollar — and Al values what he will buy with that dollar more than he values the pear.
Pretty straightforward. But what economists do with such “obvious” observations is often mind-blowing.
An important counterintuitive insight was vividly conveyed long ago by my late colleague Gordon Tullock. Asked in the 1960s what government should do to maximize reduction in traffic fatalities, he replied, “Mandate that the steering column of each car be mounted with a steel dagger pointed directly at each driver’s heart.” Initially, that sounds crazy. Yet when you think about it, you realize such daggers would cause drivers to dramatically increase the care they exercise behind the wheel.
Instead of really wanting government to mandate mounted daggers, Gordon was warning government against going too far in mandating safety features such as airbags, seat belts and collapsible steering columns. Just as mandated daggers would lead to more-careful driving, mandated safety features lead to less -careful driving. Safety features truly might reduce highway deaths, but keep in mind the possibility that mandated safety features might have surprising opposite effects.
David Friedman explains another counterintuitive insight: “Economists are often accused of believing that everything — health, happiness, life itself — can be measured in money. What we actually believe is even odder. We believe that everything can be measured in anything.”
What Friedman means is that each of us routinely makes trade-offs among things that seemingly can’t be compared. Consider your enjoyment from going to a concert. Getting there conveniently requires driving. Yet by doing that instead of staying home, you raise your chance of being killed in an auto accident. If you nevertheless drive there, you conclude that the added enjoyment you expect from the concert is worth more than the added safety you’d experience by staying home. That is, you compare the experience of a concert to the risks of driving. Obviously, if the risk of being killed while driving there were high enough, you’d decide to stay home.
Another example: You buy a jacket, telling friends it “cost” you $100. But your statement is inaccurate. When you gave, say, five $20 bills to the clerk, what you really gave up wasn’t five pieces of paper engraved with Andrew Jackson’s portrait. What you really gave up is whatever you otherwise would have bought with those five pieces of paper.
Suppose that, had you not bought the jacket, you would have bought a meal at a nice restaurant for you and a friend. In this case, you compared a jacket to that restaurant meal.
We humans constantly compare apples to oranges — and choose sensibly between them.
Described as the founder of Fascism, he’s certainly one of the founders of the movement.
Wikipedia has an article on him, which has “multiple issues”. This article also leads to a “fascism portal” with collected pieces on the subject.
His thought definitely has roots in Marxist and Hegelian philosophy. This may be a problem for those who are determined to assert that Fascism is absolutely, positively, right-wing.
Nazism did not simply appear out of thin air and infect the minds of docile German people.
Jonah Goldberg takes a stab at defining conservatism.
Actually, you’d think he’s re-enacting the shower scene from “Psycho”…
People Are Questioning Your Sacred Cows? Listen Up
There’s good reason to scrutinize claims like the Roy Moore mall story. It’s certainly not to protect a pedophile.
I’m skeptical about the mall story. No one in the New Yorker story seems to have been directly involved with the alleged mall ban; every source who was willing (even eager) to talk seems to have heard the story from someone else. It seems probable that there was a rumor floating around that Moore was banned from the mall; it seems possible that this rumor was even true. But it’s also possible it’s false. Those of us over a certain age will remember how many compelling, yet false, urban legends we believed before Snopes.com was invented. And who was the source for every one of those legends? That stalwart figure, “a friend of a friend.”
So without better confirmation than “35 years ago, I heard from a guy that Roy Moore got banned from the mall,” I will withhold judgment on whether Moore was actually banned. I tweeted as much after I read the New Yorker story. And was immediately inundated with aggressive accusations of covering up for a child molester and general partisan hackery.
I am not generally identified as a member of Team Trump, much less Team Roy Moore. Indeed, prior to my tweet about the mall story, I’d been saying some fairly astringent things about the people who were attacking Moore’s accusers — or worse, saying “But Democrats covered for Bill Clinton!” I just didn’t happen to think this particular story was very strong.
I also didn’t think it particularly mattered. If Moore did everything he has been credibly accused of, would we be inclined to give him a pass because that supreme judicial authority, the mall of Gadsden, Alabama, never got around to banning him?
But as I attempted to explain why this story looks weak to a lot of journalists (I was not the only one who noticed the thin sourcing), I began to understand why I’d triggered such outrage. Because several people asked me some version of the same question: “Why would you even question this story?” In their minds, it was clear that there could be only one reason: because I was trying to somehow salvage Moore’s candidacy.
I get asked this question a lot these days. Why would you even argue about rape statistics, when we know that rape is a problem? Why would you give even a moment’s consideration to those who theorize that global warming could be moderate rather than catastrophic? Why would you raise questions about that terrible gang rape at UVA?
My interlocutors have a point: We all make choices about which assertions we interrogate, and which we accept on easy faith. And because we are biased, we tend to interrogate most ruthlessly the inconvenient claims that stand in the way of something we’d very much like to believe. When someone casts doubt on a politically charged story, it’s not crazy to infer an ulterior ideological motive (even though in this particular case involving my qualms about that Roy Moore mall story, this inference was dead wrong).
But if we are committed to believing only things that are likely to be true, then how much does the motive of a questioner really matter? I’d argue “not much.” Knowing someone’s political commitments tells you that they are likely to accept evidence for some propositions more easily than for others. But it does not tell you that their analysis is wrong.
To the contrary, partisans with an axe to grind are often the people who see what others don’t. The faked Second Amendment scholarship of Michael Bellesiles, the forgeries that suggested Bush had gone AWOL during Vietnam, the imaginary gang rape at a UVA fraternity — in all cases, the people who raised questions were dismissed as cranks and partisans, and often this was actually true. And yet, they were the ones seeing clearly, while the people questioning their motives were not.
Truth is powerful stuff; it can be bottled up for just so long before it bursts its container and splatters all over the place. And when that happens, the revelation of the lie hurts the credibility of everyone who embraced it — and harms the very cause they thought they were helping.
So instead of labeling folks as partisan and dismissing their questions, we should embrace a tough critique regardless of its source. You have your blind spots, just like they have theirs. By overlaying their world view onto yours, you may be able to get a fuller picture. You’ll get closer to the truth by listening to people who see the world very differently from you, especially the ones who ask questions that make you uncomfortable. If what you believe is true, their objections can only refine your ideas into something stronger. And if what you believe is false — well, it’s better to find out quick.
Dennis Prager has written a great deal on Judeo-Christian values, which he considers one of the underpinnings of American civilization. Many people have an almost reflexive aversion to the term “Judeo-Christian” and will leap to oppose the term. Judaism and Christianity are different religions, they will point out, which means there can be no such thing as Judeo-Christian anything.
Dennis Prager wrote a set of 22 essays on the subject, including what values he identifies as particularly Judeo-Christian. There’s one website I’ve found that has the essays conveniently in one place.
One thing I think doesn’t get enough attention is the meta-law in Judaism. The Torah could have been interpreted in ways to make Judaism just as oppressive as Jihadist Islam. Instead, the rabbis have a history of interpreting laws so that the harshest penalties are literally impossible to invoke. One example is the ongoing arguments between Hillel and Shammai, and how much more restrictive Judaism would have been had Shammai carried the day.
One could make the case for this as an underlying current that drives the course of religious doctrine and practice. Because it’s not written down anywhere, it can be ignored. Individuals and institutions can swim against the current, at least for a while, but the current eventually overcomes all.
Bill Whittle, Scott Ott, and Steve Green discuss just how much of a problem we really have with mass shooters. Thing is, if we look at the incidence of someone deciding to kill lots of people as a defect, this defect occurs at well below the six sigma standard of quality control.
Robert Ringer made his name decades ago with his book, Winning Through Intimidation, followed by Looking Out for Number One. For years, I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him, but it seems he’s still writing. The latest piece in his blog addresses the downside of being what Larry Elder terms a “victicrat” — someone who is determined to overdraw his victim card to the maximum possible level.
in this article I’m going to focus on the most foundational aspect of overcoming what appears to be a hopeless situation, something I’ve always used as the first step toward getting back on my feet whenever I’ve been down. I call it the Magic Mirror Solution.
As an example, let’s say you’re feeling down because some malevolent miscreant screwed you out of your commission or your share of the profits in a big deal. As a result, you’re furious about what he did to you, which is quite natural — natural, but not good for you.
The problem is that so long as you’re focused on what the other guy did to you, your mind is frozen in the past. And if that’s the case, you shouldn’t even attempt to do anything constructive until you first thaw out your gray matter.
There’s an old adage that warns, “You’ll never smell like a rose if you roll in a dunghill.” Trust me, it’s true. No one in this galaxy has dealt with more certified members of the Dastardly Dunghill Gang than I have, so I’m in a position to speak from firsthand experience.
What the Magic Mirror Solution teaches us is that it’s not the dunghill guys’ responsibility to warn you ahead of time that you shouldn’t trust him. It’s your responsibility to open your eyes and your brain, and not only learn to spot these villainous vermin, but keep them out of your life.
Starting today, make it a habit to forget about what anyone else did to you. Forget about the bad breaks that foiled your best-laid plans. Forget about all the guys who are landing the good jobs and the good deals even though you know, in your heart of hearts, they aren’t good enough to carry your lunch pail.
If you insist on thinking of yourself as the victim, you’re using energy that could be better spent elsewhere, and it’s your own fault if it isn’t.
Now, you may actually be a victim. In that case, you will probably be very angry. But at whom should you be angry?
But let’s be optimistic here and assume that you’ve dispensed with the time-wasting exercise of projecting your missteps onto others. What’s next? Simple: Get mad at yourself. That’s right, yourself. Get really mad.
I cannot tell you how cathartic and powerful this exercise is. The reason it’s so liberating is because it frees you from wasting time and effort thinking about things over which you have no control, such as changing others.
This may be painful to hear, but the guy who screwed you in that big deal doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. He really doesn’t. Even if he robbed you blind, he long ago rationalized that you deserved it because of something you did to him — even if you didn’t do it!
I don’t know you or him, but I can tell you this much, sight unseen: You will never get him to admit he did anything wrong. Which is good, because once you understand and accept this reality, you can spend your time focusing on the real enemy in the mirror, which is you.
This is a very easy exercise to practice, so let me spell it out in the simplest way possible: Just look in the mirror and ask, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the dumbest one of all?” If the mirror comes up with any answer other than you, get another mirror.
But if it answers back, “It’s you, you idiot!” then you’ve just taken the first step toward turning things around. Trust your mirror’s judgment, get mad at yourself, and vow to become smarter.
Whenever I’ve put myself through this drill — focusing on my own ignorance, my own bad judgment, my own delusions, my own dumb investment decisions, my own irresponsible behavior, my own naïveté — my own everything — it has never failed me. And once I worked up a white heat of anger toward myself, that’s when I knew I was in a position to start turning things around.
“Never again” is not a hope, or a polite request. It’s a demand, backed by anger, both at those who oppressed, and at those who let the oppression happen.
Source: Sultan Knish: Anger Privilege
If you want to know who has privilege in a society and who doesn’t, follow the anger.
There are people in this country who can safely express their anger. And those who can’t. If you’re
angry that Trump won, your anger is socially acceptable. If you were angry that Obama won, it wasn’t.
James Hodgkinson’s rage was socially acceptable. It continued to be socially acceptable until he crossed the line into murder. And he’s not alone. There’s Micah Xavier Johnson, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Dallas, and Gavin Long, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Baton Rouge. If you’re black and angry about the police, your anger is celebrated. If you’re white and angry about the Terror travel ban, the Paris Climate treaty, ObamaCare repeal or any leftist cause, you’re on the side of the angry angels.
There’s a Talmudic saying (which may turn out to be in Tractate Tevye) to the effect that you can tell a great deal about a person by his pocket (how and where he spends money), his cup (how he behaves when drunk), and his anger (what he considers worth getting angry over)*.
One form of privilege is having a full purse; the wherewithal to buy what you need and want. Now we have the ability to express your anger as another form of privilege. Perhaps there is a third privilege associated with getting drunk?
Pretense, they explained, will disappear in situations involving money matters, in moments of anger, or by the way a man takes his liquor. As R. Ilai tersely phrased it: “You can recognize a person’s real character by his wine cup (koso), his purse (kiso) and his anger (kaaso).”
“This (liberal) vision so permeates the media and academia, and has made such major inroads into the religious community, that many grow into adulthood unaware that there is any other way of looking at things, or that: evidence: might be relevant to checking out the sweeping assumptions of so-called “thinking people”. Many of these “thinking people” could more accurately be characterized as: articulate: people, as people whose verbal nimbleness can elude both evidence and logic. This can be a fatal talent, when it supplies the crucial insulation from reality behind may historic catastrophes.” — P. 6
“As sex education programs spread widely through the American educational system during the 1970s, the pregnancy rate among 15- to 19-year-old females rose from approximately 68 per thousand in 1970 to approximately 96 per thousand by 1980. Among unmarried girls in the 15- to 17-year-old bracket, birth rates rose 29 percent between 1970 and 1984, despite a massive increase in abortions, which more than doubled in the same period. Among girls under 15, the number of abortions surpassed the number of live births by 1974.” — P. 18
“Implicit in the equating of statistical disparity with discrimination is the assumption that gross disparities would not exist in the absence of unequal treatment. However, international studies have repeatedly shown gross intergroup disparities to be commonplace all over the world, whether in alcohol consumption, fertility rates, educational performance, or innumerable other variables. A reasonably comprehensive listing of such disparities would be at least as large as a dictionary.” — P. 35
“What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking against in a month and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are given “class” labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing “class” makes class itself a nebulous concept.” — P. 48
“In a given year, the number of divorces may well be half as large as the number of marriages that year, but this is comparing apples to oranges. The marriages counted are only those marriages taking place within the given year, while the divorces that year are from marriages that took place over a period of decades. To say that half of all marriages ends in divorce, based on such statistics, would like saying that half the population died last year if deaths were half as large as births.” — P. 59
“While the proportion of children living with both parents has been declining over the decades, still the 1992 statistics from a census survey showed that more than two-thirds–71 percent, in fact–of all people under the age of 18 were still living with both their parents. Fewer than one percent were living with people who were not relatives.” — P. 61
“Going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery, we find that the census data of that era showed that a sightly: higherpercentage of black adults had married than white adults.” — P. 81
“As of 1940, among black females who headed their own households, 52% were 45 years old or older. Moreover, only 14 percent of all black children were born to unmarried women at that time.” — P. 81
“Everyone is for a beneficial outcome; they simply define it in radically different terms.: Everyone: is a “progressive” by his own lights. That the anointed believe that this label differentiates themselves from other people is one of a number of symptoms of their naive narcissism.” — P. 95
“One of the most important questions about any proposed course of actions is whether we know how to do it. Policy A may be better than policy B, but that does not matter if we simply do not know how to do Policy A. Perhaps it would be better to rehabilitate criminals, rather than punish them,: if we knew how to do it. Rewarding merit might be better than rewarding results: if we knew how to do it. But one of the crucial differences between those with the tragic vision and those with the vision of the anointed is in what they respectively assume that we know how to do. Those with the vision of the anointed are seldom deterred by any question as to whether anyone has the knowledge required to do what they are attempting.” — P. 109
“A succinct summary of the tragic vision was given by historians Will and Ariel Durant:
“Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.” — P. 112
“In the tragic vision, individual sufferings and social evils are inherent in the innate deficiencies of all human beings, whether these deficiencies are in knowledge, wisdom, morality, or courage. Moreover, the available resources are always inadequate to fulfill all the desires of all the people. Thus there are no “solutions” in the tragic vision, but only trade-offs that still leave many unfulfilled and much unhappiness in the world.” — P. 113
“In their haste to be wiser and nobler than others, the anointed have misconceived two basic issues. They seem to assume (1) that they have more knowledge than the average member of the benighted and (2) that this is the relevant comparison. The real comparison, however, is not between the knowledge possessed by the average member of the educated elite versus the average member of the general public, but rather the: total: direct knowledge brought to bear though social processes (the competition of the marketplace, social sorting, etc.), involving millions of people, versus the secondhand knowledge of generalities possessed by a smaller elite group.” — P. 114
“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.” — P. 118
“The presumed irrationality of the public is a pattern running through many, if not most or all, of the great crusades of the anointed in the twentieth century–regardless of the subject matter of the crusade or the field in which it arises. Whether the issue has been ‘overpopulation,’ Keynesian economics, criminal justice, or natural resource exhaustion, a key assumption has been that the public is so irrational that the superior wisdom of the anointed must be imposed, in order to avert disaster. The anointed do not simply: happen: to have a disdain for the public. Such disdain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others.” — P. 123-124
“Although Adam Smith regarded the intentions of businessmen as selfish and anti-social, he saw the systematic consequences of their competition as being far more beneficial to society than well-intentioned government regulation.” — P. 126
“In their zeal for particular kinds of decisions to be made, those with the vision of the anointed seldom consider the nature of the: process: by which decisions are made. Often what they propose amounts to third-party decision making by people who pay no cost for being wrong–surely one of the least promising ways of reaching decisions satisfactory to those who must live with the consequences.” — P. 129
“‘Hard cases make bad law’ is another way the tragic vision has been expressed. To help some hard-pressed individual or group whose case is before them, judges may bend the law to arrive at a more benign verdict in that particular case–but at the cost of damaging the whole consistency and predictability of the law, on which millions of other people depend, and on which ultimately the freedom and safety of a whole society depend.” — P. 130
“Those with the vision of the anointed often advocate the settlement of international differences through ‘diplomacy’ and ‘negotiation’ rather than by ‘force’–as if diplomacy and negotiation were not dependent on a surrounding set of incentives, of which the credible threat of military force is crucial.” — P. 130-131
“To those with the vision of the anointed, the question is: What will remove particular negative features in the existing situation to create a solution? Those with the tragic vision ask: What must be sacrificed to achieve this particular improvement?” — P. 135
“There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.” — P. 142
“The vast penumbra of uncertainty around tort liability trials in the wake of the judicial revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which jettisoned centuries-old laws and principles, leaving judges and juries to roam free and indulge their own inclinations, made it prudent for defendants to settle out of court, even if they had done nothing wrong. The uncertainty of outcomes was epitomized in two cases in which crane operators drove into high-tension electric power lines, leading to lawsuits against the manufacturer of the crane for failure to warn them–a claim dismissed without a trial in one state, on grounds that the danger was too obvious to require warning, and yet in another state leading to a damage award of more than $12 million against the manufacturer. In other words, there was no longer: law: in the real sense of the word, but only unpredictable edicts emanating from courtrooms.” — P. 170
“When the anointed say that there is a crisis this means that something must be done–and it must be done simply because the anointed want it done. This word becomes one of many substitutes for evidence or logic.” — P. 182
“Much discussion of the decisions of businessmen in general by intellectuals proceeds as if employers, landlords, and others operating under the systemic pressures of the marketplace are free to make arbitrary and capricious decisions based on prejudice and misinformation–as if they were intellectuals sitting around a seminar table–and pay no price for being mistaken.” — P. 188
“But, to those with the vision of the anointed, to say that a particular plan or policy is contrary to human nature as we know it is only to say that human nature must be changed. Thus the vocabulary of the anointed is replete with such terms as ‘sensitizing,’ ‘enlightening,’ or ‘reeducating’ other people.” — P. 190
“Another way of verbally masking elite preemption of other people’s decisions is to use the word ‘ask’–as in ‘We are just asking everyone to pay their fair share.’ But of course governments do not ask, they: tell. The Internal Revenue Service does not ‘ask’ for contributions. It takes.” — P. 197
“Many of the words and phrases used in the media and among academics suggest that things simply: happen: to people, rather than be being caused by their own choices and behavior. Thus there is said to be an ‘epidemic’ of teenage pregnancy, or of drug usage, as if these things were like the flu that people catch just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” — P. 198
“Widespread personification of ‘society’ is another verbal tactic that evades issues of personal responsibility. Such use of the term ‘society’ is a more sophisticated version of the notion that ‘the devil made me do it.’ Like much of the rest of the special vocabulary of the anointed, it is used as a magic word to make choice, behavior, and performance vanish into thin air.” — P. 199
“The vision of the anointed is one in which ills as poverty, irresponsible sex, and crime derive primarily from ‘society,’ rather than from individual choices and behavior. To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by ‘society’.” — P. 203
“To say that ‘wealth in America is so unfairly distributed in America,’ as Ronald Dworkin does, is grossly misleading when most wealth in the United States is not distributed: at all. People create it, earn it, save it, and spend it.” — P. 211
“In short, while saving some innocent individuals from a false conviction is important, the question is whether it is: more: important than sparing other equally innocent individuals from violence and death at the hands of criminals. Is saving one innocent defendant per decade worth sacrificing ten innocent murder victims? A thousand? Once we recognize that there are no solutions, but only trade-offs, we can no longer pursue cosmic justice, but must make our choices among alternatives actually available–and these alternatives do not include guaranteeing that no harm can possibly befall any innocent individual. The only way to make sure than no innocent individual is ever falsely convicted is to do away with the criminal justice system and accept the horrors of anarchy.” — P. 225
“Those who today advocate ‘judicial restraint’ define it as judges interpreting laws, including the Constitution, according to the meaning that the words in those laws had when they were written.” — P. 227
“Judicial activism is a mechanism though which the (liberal vision) can be imposed on a public which does not support it, without having to go through elected officials who would not dare to vote for many of the features of that vision.” — P. 235
“As Hannah Arendt has pointed out, transforming questions of fact into questions of intent has been the great achievement of twentieth-century totalitarians. It is a dangerous achievement which has survived the collapse of both fascist and Communist empires and has become a hallmark of much of the Western intelligentsia.” — P. 244
“If the truth is boring, civilization is irksome. The constraints inherent in civilized living are frustrating in innumerable ways. Yet those with the vision of the anointed often see these constraints as only arbitrary impositions, things from which they–and we all–can be ‘liberated.’ The social disintegration which has followed in the wake of such liberation has seldom provoked any serious reconsideration of the whole set of assumptions–the vision–which led to such disasters. That vision is too well insulated from feedback.” — P. 247
“The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?” — P. 248
“Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano’. The anointed are constantly picking at that crust.” — P. 250
“A California farmer can always show the television audience the abundant crop he has been able to grow because of federal water projects. But no one can videotape the crops that would have been grown elsewhere, at less cost to the economy, if there were no federal subsidies to encourage the use of water delivered at great cost into the California desert instead of water delivered free from the clouds elsewhere.” — P. 257
“In the anointed we find a whole class of supposedly ‘thinking people’ who do remarkably little thinking about substance and a great deal of verbal expression. In order that this relatively small group of people can believe themselves wiser and nobler than the common herd, we have adopted policies which impose heavy costs on millions of other human beings, not only in taxes, but also in lost jobs, social disintegration, and a loss of personal safety. Seldom have so few cost so much to so many.” — P. 260