Archive for February, 2012
25 Feb 2012

Seven Fat Years and Seven Lean Years

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Conservatives (really more accurately referred to as “liberals”) argue that the free market produces superior allocations of resources because of its natural access to superior information on supply and demand provided by the voluntary input of enormously large numbers of individual human beings. The free market consequently inevitably operates on the basis of better information than any possible small group of political leaders or experts can ever hope to possess. Beyond mere utility, the free market additionally has morality on its side. Human beings are morally entitled to exchange what is their own, whether goods, services, or currency, as they desire and think best. The alternative to freedom is always coercive force, and freedom is intrinsically morally better than coercion.

Progressives reject the free market, noting that it fails to make the idle prosperous, the incompetent and the unlucky successful, and the improvident and intoxicated equal in security and material success to the responsible and provident.

Since the free market never actually seems able to deliver heaven on earth, progressives proposed that government should intervene to establish a safety net to assure that no one, no matter how unlucky or ill-behaved, should be left without the necessities of human existence.

Progressives demand that we should all surrender some significant portion of our economic liberty and deliver control over the free market to government specifically because they believe that the rule of credentialed experts will deliver superior results.

The Progressive experiment, which has gone on for many decades now, has survived this long because of the capacity of capitalist enterprise to deliver prosperity and economic growth despite being shackled by ever-increasing levels of regulation and despite the diversion of substantial percentages of economic output to entitlements.

Our expert rulers, in reality, merely exchanged an ever-increasing slice of the entire economy for more political support. Their calculations were fraudulent and completely risible, burying information unfavorable to their ends, achieving balanced budgets by phony bookkeeping, and invariably relying on wildly optimistic projections to cause their plans’ mathematics to add up.

In good times, progressive experts have always spent more, added new programs, and constructed new bureaucratic empires, piling the promises for the future up to the stars. When the budget didn’t really add up, they simply placed their trust in the ability of the capitalist system to deliver enough growth, soon enough, to save them, and simply kicked the can of fiscal responsibility down the road to be dealt with later.

Now, of course, in both Europe and America, the music has finally stopped, the game is over. There is no more road to kick the can down. America and Europe have hit the point where the costs of government are dramatically impairing the free market’s ability to deliver prosperity and growth. The capitalist goose has been shaken and squeezed and strangled, but there is no increase in egg production occurring.

It seems perfectly evident to me that, if what the progressives believe, that the rule of scientifically trained experts can improve upon the results of the free market, those experts would have, in the course of all their training and elite education, encountered Chapter 41 of the Book of Genesis in which Joseph successfully interprets Pharaoh’s dream to mean that seven fat years will be followed in turn by seven lean years, and counsels Pharaoh to set aside a portion of his government’s revenues to cover future shortfalls during the seven lean year recession.

The current international economic crisis demonstrates vividly that contemporary progressive economic planning is not only inferior to free market results, it is decidedly inferior to Bronze Age Middle Eastern economic administration.

Essentially what has happened is that progressive establishment elites, those who claim the right to rule over all the rest of us on the basis of their superior wisdom, training, and credentials, have flown the Entitlement State airplane right into the ground. They wrecked the economies of a large number of nations by creating a crisis through market interference and mismanagement. They have issued too many promises and threaten to bankrupt their nation’s economies far into the future.

The current recession proves, once and for all, that the wise men of progressivism were never very wise at all, and that their claim of a right to overrule liberty and the free market on the basis of superior wisdom and morality is not well-founded.

When you steer the cart off the road, you don’t get to take the wheel again and continue driving. It is time for a change of driver.

25 Feb 2012

At the Recent National Open Field Coursing Association’s Grand Course

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Swift greyhounds are closing on the jackrabbit.

(photos by: Herb Wells — click on images for larger picture)

When he reverses course and dashes back right through their legs!

23 Feb 2012

Arizona GOP Debate

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I didn’t watch the whole thing, but in the portions I witnessed I thought everyone did rather well. It seemed to me that the contest for the GOP nomination process had really accomplished a few things: weeding out some less prepared and less articulate contenders and polishing the performances of the survivors.

My only dissatisfaction really revolved around so many of candidates attacking one another, and trying to gain a personal edge by means of cheap shots and obviously opportunistic assaults on one another’s previous statements and records. If it were up to me, I’d have boat-hooked Ron Paul out of there on the basis of a real excess of that kind of thing.

Personally, I still like Gingrich best. I think he tends characteristically to draw upon a broader understanding of history and political theory than anybody else, and I am much attracted by his imagination. Assuming we win in November, the next president’s task is going to consist of presiding over a major reconsideration of the federal government’s role and responsibilities, developing a much more serious approach to budgeting, and –in essence– managing the transition from the Welfare Entitlement State to a new version of an American growth and opportunity state. I think Gingrich’s superior knowledge and intellect would be strong assets, and I think his fecundity in producing new ideas and new approaches would be invaluable.

Romney, as I’ve noted before, delivers consistently the smoothest, most professional, and most attractive portrayal of presidential leadership. He speaks passionately in defense of capitalism. He is obviously a highly competent and thoroughly responsible guy, and though he has not run for office or governed previously as much of a conservative, his current embrace of, practically amounting to a death-grip on, conservative principles seems sincere. Watching Romney perform, one is forced to conclude that he would do a decent job. His would not be a really revolutionary administration. He would funk and compromise all the really tough calls, but he would generally do just fine.

It seems remarkable how much Rick Santorum has grown into the role of conservative movement champion and front-running candidate. In some earlier debates, he seemed a somewhat irrelevant dark horse outsider, and even more of a cranky traditionalist scold than Michele Bachmann. Now, he has picked up the mantle of the hero and he’s wearing it well. He is the living embodiment of clean cut, ordinary old-fashioned Americanism, and he expresses himself reasonably and with admirable clarity.

It is generally fun to hear from Ron Paul. He no longer really belongs up there, I thought, but it is a pleasure to see libertarian positions as totally heretical from the establishment perspective as going back to the gold standard and simply abolishing the EPA, advocated seriously in a presidential debate. Ron Paul has his own distinctive manner of speech and presentation. He reminds one of some very bright, well-loved, and barking mad uncle, who can (and will) speak for hours on his own particular bizarre obsessions and can actually entertain you in the process, despite your knowing perfectly well just how far from the reality we inhabit is the home of Uncle Ron. I do wish, though, that Ron Paul would climb down off his sanctimonious libertarian high horse, and quit abusing all his opponents in extravagant terms for conventional previous behavior or votes. There is an annoying streak of Puritan hypocrite in Ron Paul.

I don’t think last night’s debate changed the situation much. Jim Geraughty, in his emailed Morning Jolt, had the most to say about Romney:

Romney is, bit by bit, proving to be a better debater than people thought. Yes, he’s pretty shameless about going after opponent’s inconsistencies and unpopular positions that he himself held earlier in his career — but the audaciousness of it tends to leave the opposition flustered and infuriated.

Last night, he jabbed at Santorum, “When I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the Bridge to Nowhere.” Really, after lines such as that, people doubt Romney’s willingness to go after Obama? If nominated, Romney will probably lacerate Obama on the individual mandate, not cutting spending, insufficient support for drilling, demonizing the wealthy, and so on. Obama may coolly point out Romney’s past support for those positions, and I suspect Romney will just ignore it and point out that those positions are the wrong ones, and the American public opposes them. Would voters prefer the consistent man who stands for ideas they oppose? Or will they prefer a flip-flopper who currently holds the positions they support?

You and I — who have watched Romney debate as a passionately pro-choice candidate, brag that he would be better for Massachusetts gays than Ted Kennedy in 1994 — look at his current emphatic finger-pointing during these debates, and think, “He might just be saying what he needs to get the nomination. I don’t know if I trust him. He sounds sincere now, but Massachusetts liberals probably thought he agreed with them in 2002, too.” But I suspect casual voters ignore anything before, say, last weekend. I suspect they put a whole lot more into a candidate’s nonverbal communication, and whether that conveys sincerity and constancy, than anything that would require them to, you know, read something. If you doubt me, look at Obama’s election.

22 Feb 2012

Expensive, But Fascinating

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WSJ:

In March, Harvard University Press will publish the Dictionary [of American Regional English]’s Volume V, finishing off the alphabet with slab through zydeco, nearly half a century after the first fieldworkers fanned out in “Word Wagons” to 1,002 communities across America, administering a 1,600-item questionnaire to sometimes-suspicious, often-perplexed locals.

The fruits of their labors have been a feast for the lexicographically inclined ever since. What does a patient in the South mean when he complains of dew poison? What does a waitress in California mean when she offers you coffee and snails? Where would you go if a New Englander directed you to the willywags?

(Answers: The patient has a rash on his feet or legs. The waitress is offering you cinnamon rolls with your cup of joe. The New Englander means what others might call the boonies.)

22 Feb 2012

The Obama Tax Plan

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James Pethokoukis observes that Americans would have limited grounds for rejoicing: (his Tweet) “We go from having the 2nd highest corp. rate to 4th. That’s it? Thank goodness for Belgium!”

The current U.S. economic recovery is arguably the worst in modern American history. Incomes are flat, housing is moribund, and the past three years have seen the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Yet President Barack Obama—with the backing of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—has the temerity to propose a corporate tax reform plan that would actually raise the tax burden on American business (and de facto on workers, too) without lowering rates to an internationally competitive level. This is a terrible, terrible plan:

..The Obama-Geithner plan would lower the statutory corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, currently the second-highest among advanced economies. But that would still leave the combined U.S. corporate tax rate—state and federal—at 32.2 percent, far above the OECD combined average of 25 percent. The U.S. combined rate would be a bit below slow-growing Japan and France but above the U.K. and Germany. That’s not nearly good enough. Canada just lowered its corporate tax rate, for instance, to 15 percent. So instead of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, the United States would probably be fourth behind Japan, France, and Belgium.

21 Feb 2012

Father Saves Son From Mountain Lion With 3″ Knife

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MySanAntonio:

A 6-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion while walking near the lodge at Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park with his family Sunday night.

The boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries — scrapes and puncture wounds to his face, according to park officials.

His father was able to fight off the cat by stabbing it with a pocket knife.

The attack occurred on February 5th. Mr. Hobbs stabbed the lion with a Spyderco Calypso pocketknife with a 3″ blade. Better to have any weapon on hand than no weapon.

21 Feb 2012

Zombie Trailer Park

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Addictive. Play here.

20 Feb 2012

Canada’s Gun Registry Dies

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Before killing himself, the deranged 25-year-old son of an Algerian immigrant shot to death 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989 as a gesture of personal revenge upon Feminism, which he blamed for ruining his life.

Canadian authorities might have deported all anti-feminist Muslims likely to produce defective offspring, but instead they blamed guns, passing Bill C-68 in 1995, which created a Canadian Firearms Registry.

Registering every firearm in Canada was marketed as a measure that would prevent crime, but in reality criminals don’t register guns and the ownership and specific identity of the weapon used in crimes is very rarely a meaningful issue.

Legislation creating the Firearm Registry was passed on the basis of estimates that promised that licensing fees would take care of nearly all its costs.

In reality, the gun registry cost $2.7 billion, 1350x the original estimate.

Why Projects Fail
:

It was originally expected that the project needed only $2 million of investments while registration fees would cover the rest. In 1995, the Department of Justice reported to Parliament that the system would cost $119 million to implement, and that the income generated from licensing fees would be $117 million. This gave a net cost of $2 million.

At the time of the 2002 audit, the revised estimates from the Department of Justice revealed that the cost of the program would be more than $1 billion by 2004/05 and that the income from license fees in the same period would be $140 million. The annual operating costs of the program are reported to be $15 – $80 million.

Last Wednesday, the Canadian Parliament voted to end the Registry of long arms. $2.7 billion later, it was concluded that the Registry had never resulted in the solution of a single murder.

20 Feb 2012

War on Drugs

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One of my commenters responded to my expressing support for legalizing drugs:

Lets assume your motive is constitutional and not because you are a drug user. I think then we can agree on a few things:
1) Most of the drugs that are now illegal are harmful and possibly fatal to use as prescribed. I doubt you believe crack is good for you so I’m going to assume you agree with this.

2)If someone forced my to take crack (or cocaine or heroin etc) they would be assaulting me perhaps even guilty of attempted murder. Again it is a no brainer so I will assume you agree.

3)A child under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to things an adult can consent to. If someone gives my child drugs and my child cannot consent legally then they are “forcing” my child into a harmful/deadly act. Again, a no brainer. About now you are beginning to see where I’m going with this and are looking left and right for a way out.

4)Anyone who tries to kill/assault/attack my child has stepped over a deadly line and I have a constitutional right to protect their life and use deadly force. I assume suddenly you aren’t agreeing with libertarian interpretations of the constitution and want to disagree with me even if it forces you to flip-flop on your beliefs. So that’s it! I will agree to accept that drugs should be legal and we have a constitutional right to put poison in our body if we choose AND you agree that I have a constitutional right to protect myself and my minor children and I can constitutionally use deadly force . Yes! I am saying legalize drugs and tell parents they can shoot anyone selling, sharing or giving their child drugs. All in all I think it is a good compromise, what do you think?

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Like most people who attended college when the Baby Boom generation was young, I did heaps and piles of all kinds of drugs. I’m now getting on in years and am long past all that. I have long since quit smoking, and am obliged to watch my diet fairly carefully. I wish I could do all the things I used to do at age 20 in exactly as carefree a fashion now as then, but there is no possibility of such a thing at all. I do get plenty of drugs, though. I have several prescriptions for regulating blood pressure and so on that I have to take every day.

I have enough experience of life to know perfectly well that some people will kill themselves using drugs recklessly and excessively. But I also know that actually an even larger number of people will inevitably proceed to ruin their lives and kill themselves with alcohol.

We recognized, long ago, that alcohol prohibition didn’t really stop people from drinking. It merely created a hugely profitable black market and caused a nationwide wave of crime and violence. Legal alcohol is associated with harm, but in fact produces much less harm.

The question of your children is a red herring. Has anyone recently forced any of your children to eat free pâté de foie gras or nefariously and at gun point made them consume Godiva chocolates?

If you raise your children properly and they do not inherit special weaknesses and neuroses, they ought to be able to drink alcohol and use drugs responsibly and without major untoward consequences at appropriate ages and occasions like most people.

If drugs were not especially forbidden, there would no drug dealers for you to shoot.

20 Feb 2012

Why Not?

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James Delingpole is not only sound on Anthropogenic Global Warming pseudo-scientific fraud, he is able to articulate the fundamental moral problem with drug prohibition quite succinctly.

    VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul decried the “war on drugs” Thursday night, telling supporters in Washington state that people should be able to make their own decisions on such matters.

    Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana

    “If we are allowed to deal with our eternity and all that we believe in spiritually, and if we’re allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can’t put into our body whatever we want?” Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Ore.

Yep. Go on… friends. Tell me: why not???

In a follow-up post, Peter Robinson quotes Milton Friedman in support of Delingpole.

20 Feb 2012

Revenge of Alinsky

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20 Feb 2012

Washington, Cultural Exemplar of Virginia’s Northern Neck

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The Northern Neck (click on image for larger version)

David Hackett Fischer (who first traced the pre-Revolutionary influence of four different regions and cultures of Great Britain upon the United States in Albion’s Seed, 1989), in Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement, written with James C. Kelly and published in 2000, identifies another major and distinctive pre-Revolutionary regional American cultural strain: a tradition of elite patriotism most prominently exemplified in George Washington.

The Northern Neck rapidly developed into a distinctive region of Virginia with a character that was largely defined by Lord Fairfax himself and his friends and agents, who included the Washington, Lee, and Marshall families.

Fairfax liked the country so well that he returned as an immigrant in 1747 and made his permanent home in Virginia. He built himself a long, rambling hunting lodge called Greenway Court and a small stone land office high in the Shenandoah country at the western end of his domain. At the same time he became justice of the peace of all the counties in the Northern Neck, county lieutenant, and commandant of the militia. Lord Fairfax acquiesced in the American Revolution and was treated always with honor both by the people of the Northern Neck and the Virginia General Assembly. He died at Greenway Court in 1781 at the age of eighty-eight.

In the course of his long life, a circle formed around him. Lord Fairfax’s drawing room became a school of manners for young gentlemen of the Northern Neck —among them, many Washingtons, Lees, Marshalls, and others who shared a distinctive set of values and beliefs.


Lord Fairfax Fox Hunting with George Washington, engraving by Henry Bryan Hall, after Felix O. C. Darley, from Washington Irving, Life of George Washington, 1855-1859

The Northern Neck was very much a part of the culture of Virginia, but it gave that culture a special meaning. On this frontier there was little of democracy and nothing of equality, but a strong tradition of service, character, right conduct, and the rule of law.

We have been trained by the materialism of American social science to think of regional culture as a reflex of economic interests and environmental conditions. So it is sometimes, but the culture of the Northern Neck was shaped when it was a frontier, in large degree by the interplay of culture, environment, and the purposes of a single individual. A cultural tradition was planted by Lord Fairfax at Greenway Court. It took root in the fertile soil of the Northern Neck and flowered in the careers of George Washington in the Revolution, Robert E. Lee in the Civil War, and George C. Marshall in World War II.

The values of this tradition were in many ways different from the liberal ideas on which the American republic was founded. Yet this tradition supplied that nation with many leaders who served it in a distinctive way. The Northern Neck was the cradle of their culture, and Lord Fairfax was its founding father.


Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Fairfax, Sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron, Washington Lodge No 22, A. F. & A. M., Alexandria, Virginia.

19 Feb 2012

Social Issues and Republican Electoral Success

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In the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto discusses Jeffrey Bell’s new book, which argues that the politics of the culture wars inevitably fuels Republican electoral victories.

Social issues have come to the fore on the GOP side in two of the past six presidential elections—in 1988 (prison furloughs, the Pledge of Allegiance, the ACLU) and 2004 (same-sex marriage). “Those are the only two elections since Reagan where the Republican Party has won a popular majority,” Mr. Bell says. “It isn’t coincidental.”

Mr. Bell, 68, is an unlikely tribune for social conservatism. His main interest has always been economics. He was “an early supply-sider” who worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns of 1976 and 1980 and Jack Kemp’s in 1988. In 1978 he ran an anti-tax campaign for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, defeating Republican incumbent Clifford Case in the primary but losing to Democrat Bill Bradley.

Even now his day job is to advocate for the gold standard at the American Principles Project. But he’s been interested in social issues since the 1980s, when “it became increasingly clear to me . . . that social issues were beginning to be very important in comparison to economic issues,” in part because “Reaganomics worked so well that the Democrats . . . kind of retired the economic issues.”

In Mr. Bell’s telling, social conservatism is both relatively new and uniquely American, and it is a response to aggression, not an initiation of it. The left has had “its center of gravity in social issues” since the French Revolution, he says. “Yes, the left at that time, with people like Robespierre, was interested in overthrowing the monarchy and the French aristocracy. But they were even more vehemently in favor of bringing down institutions like the family and organized religion. In that regard, the left has never changed. . . . I think we’ve had a good illustration of it in the last month or so.”

He means the ObamaCare mandate that religious institutions must provide employee insurance for contraceptive services, including abortifacient drugs and sterilization procedures, even if doing so would violate their moral teachings. “You would think that once the economy started looking a little better, Obama would want to take a bow . . . but instead all of a sudden you have this contraception flap. From what I can find out about it, it wasn’t a miscalculation. They knew that the Catholic Church and other believers were going to push back against this thing. . . . They were determined to push it through, because it’s their irreplaceable ideological core. . . . The left keeps putting these issues into the mix, and they do it very deliberately, and I think they do it as a matter of principle.”

Another example: “In the lame-duck session of the last Congress, when the Democrats had their last [House] majority . . . what was their biggest priority? Well, they let the Bush tax cuts be renewed for another couple of years, but what they did get through was gays in the military. . . . It keeps coming back because it’s the agenda of the left. They’re not going to leave these issues alone.”

American social conservatism, Mr. Bell says, began in response to the sexual revolution, which since the 1960s has been “the biggest agenda item and the biggest success story of the left.” That was true in Western Europe and Japan too, but only in America did a socially conservative opposition arise.

Read the whole thing.

I thought this review was dead on accurate.

I’m an irreligious, libertine, libertarian conservative, personally completely and totally in favor of contraception and legal abortion, and I found myself recently defending the rights of Roman Catholic institutions, and even arguing with my Yale classmates that the perspective of Right-to-Lifers is morally serious and worthy of respect.

Liberal arrogance and intolerance is so great that I think it is true that a surprisingly large number of economic conservatives who have no close personal relationship whatsoever to Religion and Family Values can see themselves supporting Rick Santorum against Barack Obama very easily. The Left is the aggressor in the culture wars, and most Americans are basically decent people who reflexively side with the victim against the bully.

18 Feb 2012

In Obamastan Today

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