Friday, 24 May 2019

He said she said David said G. said


Jacinda said we should be kinder. Hate is wrong, said J. We need "a global effort to shut down hate speech," she said.

People asked "What's hate speech?" And J., who was like, not letting a crisis go to waste, said trust me: "you'll know it when you see it." And Helen said, like "Yeah. Right on J.!" And Emmanuel rang her and said: "Let's do this!"

And Louisa saw it all. Going on. Out there, in the media. She wanted to slap them. The media. (And tried to.) "The Fourth Estate," said Louisa, angry, must be made, like, an arm of the state; have imposed a "Duty of Care"; have their "social contract," you know, "formalised." There ought to be a law! she said.

Louisa got angry. (Louisa is one of J.'s people, so is a good person, so it's all safe and all when she gets angry and stuff and talks about laws on talking.)

Right on, said good Golriz, right on time. 'Cos G. knows right-on stuff. Even if Judith thinks G. is "just a kid," good Golriz is a good person who really knows stuff. "It is vital," said G. (who likes pop singers, selfies, and passive verbs) it is vital, she said, that "we" all have "a conversation" about "what speech meets the threshold for being regulated." Regulating being what they do up in the Big House when they all sit around and start a conversation and stuff.

And we others all wondered who "we" might be? Because "we," said G., need to decide "what mix of enforcement tools” the people in the Big House needed to stop bad people saying bad things. Because bad people need to be "deplatformed," said G., on her platforms. "It's now a public-safety issue!" she said. And G. must be a good G. because bad people are all bad to her.

One of those bad people, who everyone knows is a bad people -- let's call him "David," who you know is bad because of all of his bad mates -- said that "such an idea, and by extension politicians who promote it, is a danger to our free society." Lots of people agreed with David about that, but everyone knew they were bad people.  And then David, when aksed by someone about G.’s rap about regulation, David said to them he thought that G. was, he said "a menace to freedom."

And everyone who knew better said this was really bad. Everyone who knew best said David was being mean to G., who bad people were already being really mean to. Which was mean, and they knew mean when they saw it (and they would, these people, know it, I mean). David was inciting this mob of bad people, said these good people, who were (the bad people) being really, really mean to G.

Trevor, who runs the Big House so is a really, really top people, said David was, like, being "a bully" to G. (and Trevor would know) and David should really stop (and when Trevor says "stop" everyone in the Big House has to, like, listen).  So G. hinted David shouldn't ever be part of her "we" or their conversations at the Big House about tools about talk and regulations and stuff. Ever. 'Cos he was obviously and all a bad person. Like everybody had already told him but she told him now for real, because now she needed to be like "protected" around the Big House. And it was all David's fault. The protection and stuff.

And Louisa and Jo wrote David a letter. They didn't actually send David the letter, because it wasn't really for David but for all their bffs. They (Louisa and Jo, who agree with each other even though they're from different teams, so you know they're good people) said that they and all their bffs in all the Big Houses around the world all also think David was being mean, said Louisa and Jo in the letter, and they all wanted to tell him to his face he was being mean (even though Louisa sent the letter to the Fourth Estate instead of to David because now, you know, whatever). So David should say sorry, tut tutted Jo and Louisa (in the letter). And in public (like the letter).

And Judith, dear old Crusher, who had been away from the headlines for a day or so, after reading all the letters and all the Fourth Estate and all focus groups and stuff, well, she tut tutted too. Why not all be "a little bit kinder towards each other" tut tutted Aunty Judith. Especially to G.  Can't we all just be nice to G., smiled Crusher, who was being ever so nice, which was hard. Even if it was a good headline.

Stephen wasn't nice. He argued back at G. Which G.'s friends or good persons would never do, so you know he's, like, not. Stephen called her names too. Made fun of it. Other people had called G. "Golly G." ('Cos of good Golriz G.s name and surname and like too.) But Sam said this was racist. 'Cos Sam's one of those good people who just knows. Calling a POC "Golly," said Sam, is racist, racist, racist. Stephen was being bad, being "unsafe" and threatening," said Sam. (Who would know.) And so were Stephen's friends, said Sam. All of them. Unsafe. And threatening. And so Sam told Stephen's teacher on him for being unsafe. (Sam is also, like, one of J.'s people, so did it to be kind. Because he knows it when he sees it. Another good person.)

So Sam's twit-mob piled on too, but only to be kind too. "Racist, racist, racist" they chanted. But not in a, like, hateful way. These woke-persons know where the lines are. They were all of them being kind. They just needed Stephen deplatformed. They told the teacher on him too. Nicely. 'Cos they're nice.

'Cos they all know where all the lines are. They know what's nice and what's not.

They know what saint J. and good G. would like, and what's hurtful.

They know it when they see it.

They know who needs to be deplatformed. Whose speech needs enforcement. Whose social contract needs to be, like, "formalised." Who exactly this "we" is -- and who should be allowed to have a conversation about the rules.

And who shouldn't.

They know them when they see them. Bad persons. They know. What's unsafe. What needs to be shut down. Who should be run over. Who run out of town. Who you can threaten, and who you can't. They know from incitement, these good persons. They all know their lines....

Dave Rubin reckons "Of course the Left is moving to 'speech is incitement.' First they did 'everyone I don’t like is a Nazi,' then it was 'you can punch Nazis,' now it is 'speech is incitement' -- and next it’ll be 'you can jail the Nazis over speech.'"

Are we there yet?

It seems it's time for a good discussion on free speech: it's meaning, its threats and its controversies. To get it, like, out of the playground. Because this free speech thing needs way more than just kindness and wokeness and carefully-curated conversations about niceness and the "tools" needed to enforce this -- it needs an adult kind of willingness to hear other people talk even when you disagree with them. And not to make rules discouraging that, or declaring it illegal.

And look, here's one of those discussions right here:


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"The thing that strikes me more and more is the extraordinary viciousness of political controversy in our time. Nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point." #QotD


"The thing that strikes me more and more is the extraordinary viciousness of political controversy in our time. Nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point." 
          ~ George Orwell, 1944
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Thursday, 23 May 2019

"'The greatest sign of success for a teacher' said Maria Montessori, 'is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.' ' Modern schools don’t work to get students to this point. They strive instead to indoctrinate." #QotD


"If you want to know what’s wrong with education ... — arguably the root of all our problems — then look no further than [the contrasting educational philosophy of] Maria Montessori.
    "Montessori was one of the greatest educators of all time.
    "In recent decades particularly, most schools have done the precise opposite of what Montessori very wisely thought and taught. That’s why we’re in such trouble.
    "Consider one of her greatest quotes:
“'The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, '‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.''
    "[Modern] schools don’t work to get students to this point. They strive to indoctrinate."
          ~ Dr Michael Hurd, from his post 'Maria Montessori: She Got Education Right'
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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Cynicism in the Service of Statism


Otto Von Bismarck was the inventor of the Welfare State. He was explicit about his reasons, saying in support of Germany's 1883 welfare-state laws:
“That the state should assist its needy citizens to a greater degree than before is not only a Christian and humanitarian duty, of which the state apparatus should be fully conscious: it is also a task to be undertaken for the preservation of the state itself. The goal of this task is to nurture among the unpropertied classes of the population, which are the most numerous as well as least informed, the view that the state is not only a necessary but also a beneficent institution.”
As philosopher Stephen Hicks summarises, his reasons were:
  1. a political application of Christianity, and
  2. a way to get the “unpropertied classes” to think well of the state and
  3. become dependent upon it, thereby
  4. ensuring the unpropertied’s ongoing support of the state.
You might call it Cynicism in the Service of Statism.

Reflect on that when you're wondering why the Welfare State will seemingly never go away, despite its long-term and lingering failure to ever relieve the poverty that it ever maintains to be its aim.
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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

"It is impossible to tell in Mr. Hanson’s essay where his economics end and his national-security concerns begin... If Mr. Hanson really is worried that Beijing will one day pose a mighty military threat to the west, he should not write critically of Beijing’s mercantilism but in praise of it!" #QotD


"[Victor Davis] Hanson’s attempted defence of his use of the U.S. trade deficit with China fails. ...
    "It is impossible to tell in Mr. Hanson’s essay where his economics end and his national-security concerns begin. Many of the problems he points to are problems, not with trade as such, but simply with China’s economic growth. A richer China does indeed mean that the government in Beijing will have more resources to use militarily and diplomatically. And freer trade will make China richer, while – contrary to Mr. Hanson’s apparent belief – mercantilism will make China poorer. If Mr. Hanson really is worried that Beijing will one day pose a mighty military threat to the west, he should not write critically of Beijing’s mercantilism but in praise of it!"

       ~ Don Boudreaux, from his post 'My Reply to Victor Davis Hanson’s Response'
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Monday, 20 May 2019

"One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans—anything except reason." #QotD


"One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans—anything except reason."
        ~ Thomas Sowell
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Thursday, 16 May 2019

"Ardern is signing an agreement with an EU leader who is currently shooting protesters in the streets of Paris, and none of us really have any clue how it will impact our personal freedoms..." #QotD




"Ardern is signing an agreement with an EU leader who is currently shooting protesters in the streets of Paris, and none of us really have any clue how it will impact our personal freedoms... No one yet has been able to define #HateSpeech. Not even the frauds our government pay to sit around dreaming up this stuff. Ardern said, You'll know it when you see it.' This is bad bad stuff."
        ~ Dane Giraud

"Do you remember the politicians linking arms at the march, the opeds and cartoons after the Charlie Hebdo attack, fervently declaring commitment to freedom of expression and the right to offend? That seems like a long time ago."
        ~ Juliet Moses

"According to @NZMorningReport, @EmmanuelMacron censored media coverage of his and @JacindaArdern's own summit that people worry is about undue censorship. Bad look."
        ~ Matthew Hooton

"Helen Clark’s proposal for more restrictive speech laws is a solution looking for a problem. Last night, she admitted protecting religion from so-called hate speech wouldn't have prevented Christchurch. Why, then, should we further undermine free speech?"
        ~ David Seymour 
"Instead of arguing for our values and being inspirational about defending free speech while enabling agency for those deprived power and platform, the debate from the Woke Left is all about deplatforming whatever is defined as hate speech and in the age of subjective rage, most of the people on the PM's advisory panel have all vocalised pretty ambitious desires to ban a lot of speech as hate speech.
    "I’m guessing by even suggesting there should be some civil rights activists and free speech academics on this panel  [to 'regulate' social media] I’m already being a heteronormative patriarchal cis-male war criminal?
    "That’s how dementedly tribal this debate is getting.
        ~ Martyn Bradbury 

"Facebook [et al] will, of course, continue to be permitted to earn a profit. In exchange, it will get to censor citizens from saying things the government does not like.
    "Does that sound like freedom to you?"

        ~ Michael Hurd

"...an intellectual gulag known as political correctness. When any one tries to speak their mind on questions of race or gender, or if their views differ from those approved, they will be ostracised, this is the beginning of the gulag, the beginning of your loss of freedom"

        ~ Vladimir Bukovsky
"... in the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners.
        ~ Ayn Rand

"If you don’t believe in free speech for people who you hate, fear and disagree with, then you don’t believe in free speech."
        ~ Ricky Gervais

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

"Nothing can raise a country's productivity except technology, and technology is the final product of a complex of sciences (including philosophy) each of them kept alive and moving by the achievements of a few independent minds." #QotD



"Nothing can raise a country's productivity except technology, and technology is the final product of a complex of sciences [including philosophy] each of them kept alive and moving by the achievements of a few independent minds." 
          ~ Ayn Rand on economic growth.
[Hat tip  https://twitter.com/AynRandInst]

"At different times in the past both the Left and the Right have stood for group-transcending values. Neither does today." #QotD


"Today what seems to matter first and above all else is loyalty to one’s political tribe and its leaders, not the facts about an issue, not the truth on any given controversy, not the right policy to adopt — all of these are pushed to the background...
    "In her book 'Political Tribes,' the legal scholar Amy Chua summarises our current state this way: 'At different times in the past both the ... Left and the ... Right have stood for group-transcending values. Neither does today.'...
    "Take a look at societies where tribalism is deeply enmeshed in the culture. Look at the unending tribal conflicts of the Balkans; the hundreds of thousands of corpses that piled up during the eruption of tribal conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda; the sectarian wars that pervade the Middle East. Our tribal future promises to be dark, brutal, violent.
    "How can we counteract the trend of intensifying tribalism? We need first to understand its nature and source... We need an analysis that pinpoints its essential nature. To that end, I will show that we have much to gain from Ayn Rand’s philosophic analysis of tribalism... Rand points us toward the essentially anti-intellectual nature of tribalism. She observed:
"'Philosophically, tribalism is the product of irrationalism and collectivism. It is a logical consequence of modern philosophy. If men accept the notion that reason is not valid, what is to guide them and how are they to live? Obviously, they will seek to join a group — any group — which claims the ability to lead them and to provide some sort of knowledge acquired by some unspecified means. If men accept the notion that the individual is helpless, intellectually and morally, that he has no mind and no rights, that he is nothing, but the group is all, and his only moral significance lies in selfless service to the group — they will be pulled obediently to join a group...
    "'There is no surer way to infect mankind with hatred — brute, blind, virulent hatred — than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes ... no communication, no understanding, no persuasion is possible among them, only mutual fear, suspicion and hatred.' ...
    “'Ethnic' tribalism was, and remains, a common form of a wider phenomenon. For Rand, the term “tribalism” encompasses a range of manifestations that share a common root. These included racism, “ethnic identity,” xenophobia, caste systems, guild socialism, gang culture. (To that list we might add today’s assorted gender-based tribes.) What’s in common to such tribes is a distinctive, anti-intellectual mindset...
    "The spread of tribalism, Rand observed, 'is an enormously anti-intellectual evil.' There’s no bargaining with tribalism, no accommodation, no compromise to be found with it. Tribalism can, and must, be marginalised and eliminated.
    "The antidote for tribalism — the positive to aim at — is the ideal of individualism ... For Rand, that path is open to every single one of us, if we choose it. We can seize the reins of our minds and look at the world ourselves, drawing our own conclusions and making our own evaluations... [O]n Rand’s account, it is this fundamental orientation to reality, rather than some collective, that inoculates the individual from the virulent pull of tribalism."

          ~ Elan Journo, from his article 'The Virulent Pull of Tribalism'
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Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Friday, 10 May 2019

Trump Displays a Tenuous Grasp of How Tariffs Work



President Trump has a fundamental misunderstanding of who pays tariffs, explains Ryan Young in this guest post, and that matters for his policy aims. Tariffs don't just hurt exporting countries, they hurt importing countries too, by raising costs, by reducing consumption, and by shrinking available capital for entrepreneurs, startups, and homebuyers -- leading to lower wages and a higher cost of living. It's a lose-lose all round.

Trump Displays a Tenuous Grasp of How Tariffs Work

On Sunday, President Trump announced via Twitter that if he does not approve of the results of this week’s U.S.-China trade talks, he will enact a new tariff on Friday, May 10th. It would raise a current 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent. He threatened a similar tariff late last year, but backed off. China, in response, might withdraw from the talks altogether.

This week’s trade talks, set to begin Wednesday, were expected to conclude by Friday anyway, though without a hard deadline.

Hollow Tariff Threats

Trump has a history of using drastic threats as a negotiating tactic, only to quickly back off. In addition to threatening and backing away from the same China tariff last year, he has also backed off of threats to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border and to enact tariffs against European automobiles on national security grounds.

If Sunday’s tweets are just the latest iteration of an established pattern, consumers will have little to worry about. But if Trump follows through, those same consumers should be aware of Trump’s tenuous grasp of how tariffs work. His two tweets read:


To which I responded—with my apologies for a dumb grammatical error (that’s Twitter for you):

President Trump has a fundamental misunderstanding of who pays tariffs, and that matters for his policy aims. He has made this mistake before, and his advisors are apparently unable to shake him of it despite repeated “Groundhog Day” meetings.

Tariffs Hurt, Not Help, the Economy

As for tariffs helping the economy, that is also false. When people have to pay more money to get the same goods as before, they have less left over to spend on other goods or to save and invest. This means tariffs not only reduce consumption, but they also shrink available capital for U.S. entrepreneurs, startups, and homebuyers--the same capital that pays employees' wages.

Writ large, economists at the Trade Partnership advisory estimate that if President Trump goes through with the 25 percent Chinese goods tariff, and China retaliates in kind per usual, total tariffs would cost up to 1.04 percent of GDP. That comes to $2,389 per year for a family of four.

There is a policy action Congress can take immediately to prevent further tariff abuses. The China tariffs are enacted under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974; Congress should repeal that section. For more on that, see the trade chapter in CEI’s “Free to Prosper: A Pro-Growth Agenda for the 116th Congress.” For more on the larger case for free trade, see Iain Murray’s and my study “Traders of the Lost Ark.”

* * * * * 
Ryan Young is the Competitive Enterprise Institute's fellow focusing on regulatory and monetary policy and financial regulation. He also hosts CEI’s weekly podcast and writes the popular “Regulation of the Day.”

This article is republished with permission from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

[Hat tip FEE. Image Credit: Flickr-The White House | CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)]
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"Now let me define the difference between economic power and political power: economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear." #QotD


"What is economic power? It is the power to produce and to trade what one has produced. In a free economy, where no man or group of men can use physical coercion against anyone, economic power can be achieved only by voluntary means: by the voluntary choice and agreement of all those who participate in the process of production and trade. In a free market, all prices, wages, and profits are determined -- not by the arbitrary whim of the rich or of the poor, not by anyone's "greed" or by anyone's need -- but by the law of supply and demand. The mechanism of a free market reflects and sums up all the economic choices and decisions made by all the participants. Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage, according to their own independent, uncoerced judgment. A man can grow rich only if he is able to offer better values -- better products or services, at a lower price -- than others are able to offer.
    "Wealth, in a free market, is achieved by a free, general, 'democratic' vote -- by the sales and the purchases of every individual who takes part in the economic life of the country. Whenever you buy one product rather than another, you are voting for the success of some manufacturer. And, in this type of voting, every man votes only on those matters which he is qualified to judge: on his own preferences, interests, and needs. No one has the power to decide for others or to substitute his judgment for theirs; no one has the power to appoint himself "the voice of the public" and to leave the public voiceless and disfranchised.
    "Now let me define the difference between economic power and political power: economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman's tool is values; the bureaucrat's tool is fear."

        ~ Ayn Rand, from her article 'America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business'
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Thursday, 9 May 2019

"It doesn’t matter how many times Trump’s told. Tariffs don’t work. The costs are not paid by the exporter. They are paid by the consumer." #QotD


"One day 'Talks are going well,' the next 'We’re raising tariffs to 25%.'
    "That’s where we are today. Because Trump thinks he’s winning the trade war and China won’t give him what he wants so he’ll disrupt global trade until he does.
    "It doesn’t matter how many times he’s told. Tariffs don’t work. The costs are not paid by the exporter. They are paid by the consumer. Tariffs don’t shift manufacturing of the goods imported onshore, they are supplied by other countries or substituted for lesser goods.
    "The consumer pays higher prices for end-user goods. The domestic members of the supply chain pay higher input prices while sclerotic domestic producers are subsidised to stay non-competitive."

        ~ Tom Luongo, from his post 'Economic Warfare Man Strikes Again'
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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

“The legalisation of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment – the prohibition is the experiment, and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims all around the world.” #QotD


The legalisation of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment – the prohibition is the experiment, and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims all around the world.” 
~ Sebastian Marincolo, from his post 'Why the prohibition against marijuana has to end'
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Monday, 6 May 2019

"One of the prevailing myths about Fascism is that it arose out of some fundamental opposition to Communism. In fact this was never true; Fascism was a Marxist heresy from the day Mussolini seized it, differing from Marxism not mainly in its aims but in the means by which they were to be achieved." #QotD


"Mussolini was a revolutionary Socialist organiser ... responding to one of the early failures of Marxism. In Marxian 'scientific socialism,' universal revolution was a process that would follow mechanically from the capitalist immiseration of the proletariat. But by the second decade of the new century it was becoming clear that most national proletariats were unwilling [and still aren't] to play their appointed role in the theory, tending instead to be among the most patriotic and nationalist elements of their societies. Class warfare as the engine of international socialism had failed, creating a doctrinal crisis in communist/socialist circles.
    "[Theorists like George] Sorel responded by writing a new theory of political motivation ... which proposed that instead instead of fighting popular sentiments like patriotism and nationalist mythology, socialists and communists should embrace them as tools to build and perfect socialism...
    "I’ve covered this history in detail because it explodes one of the prevailing myths about Fascism – that it arose out of some fundamental opposition to Communism. In fact this was never true; Fascism was a Marxist heresy from the day [Sorel and] Mussolini seized it, differing from Marxism not mainly in its aims but in the means by which they were to be achieved."

          ~ Eric Raymond, from his post 'Spotting the wild Fascist'
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Saturday, 4 May 2019

"Imagine there was a $300 billion dollar industry that depended almost entirely on a pagan belief that cars cause storms, and coal caused floods. Imagine this industry produced nothing that consumers would voluntarily buy unless the government banned cheaper options. Now imagine how much money these investors might be willing to donate to lobby groups, Superpacs, and activists in koala suits..." #QotD


"Imagine there was a $300 billion dollar industry that depended almost entirely on a pagan belief that cars cause storms, and coal caused floods. Imagine this industry produced nothing that consumers would voluntarily buy unless the government banned cheaper options. Now imagine how much money these investors might be willing to donate to lobby groups, Superpacs, and activists in koala suits. Purely hypothetically…
    "With 100% of their income at risk of evaporating if the voters pick the wrong person, or if public faith in the pagan religion starts to wane, these investors [in so-called renewable energy] have a reason to create a PR campaign that called anyone who questioned the faith an idiot denier, funded by fossil fuels, out of touch, old, white and unfashionable...
    "Imagine if every time someone said 'fossil fuel funded,' someone else said, 'or a target of a $300 billion investment industry 100% dependent on government rules and a pagan belief?'"

    ~ Jo Nova, from her post 'Renewables — the $300 billion dollar vested interest that hardly anyone mentions'
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Friday, 3 May 2019

"In the world of ideas the sanctimonious have little or no place. Art must be wrestled from the hands of the pious, in whatever form they may come – and they are *always* coming, knives out, intent on murdering creativity." #QotD


"Transgression is fundamental to the artistic imagination, because the imagination deals with the forbidden. Go to your record [or art] collection and mind-erase those who have led questionable lives and see how much of it remains. It is the artist who steps beyond the accepted social boundaries who will bring back ideas that shed new light on what it means to be alive. This is, in fact, the artist’s duty – and sometimes this journey is accompanied by a certain dissolute behaviour... Sometimes an individual’s behaviour is purely malevolent, and this surely needs to be exposed for what it is – and we must make a personal choice as to whether or not we engage with their work.
    "However, in the world of ideas the sanctimonious have little or no place. Art must be wrestled from the hands of the pious, in whatever form they may come – and they are always coming, knives out, intent on murdering creativity."
          ~ Nick Cave, from his 'thoughts on the current state of modern rock music'
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Thursday, 2 May 2019

"Reality is starting to puncture the Trump administration's fantasy world in which tariffs are paid by other countries and 'Trade Is Bad.' How much longer will the Administration maintain the charade of pretending that tariffs are helping American businesses and consumers." #QotD


"Reality is starting to puncture the Trump administration's fantasy world in which tariffs are paid by other countries and 'Trade Is Bad.' Roughly a year after Trump gleefully launched a trade war with the promise that it would be 'good and easy to win,' it is now increasingly obvious that the president and many of his top economic advisors oversold the benefits and underestimated the costs of trade policies that have caused America to clash with not just Canada and Mexico, but China, Japan, Europe, and other major trading partners...
    "Most studies of Trump's ... trade policies have found economic damage. Tariffs are draining $1.4 billion out of the U.S. economy every month, according to a comprehensive review published in March by a trio of economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. New jobs created in steel and aluminium manufacturing have come at a steep price, and the trade deficit that Trump vowed to reduce has continued growing...
    "Facing [a] mounting pile of evidence, the Trump administration is now quietly pivoting away from the "easy to win" framing. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, tells Bloomberg that the economic pain caused by tariffs is the bitter pill that must be swallowed to improve the economy in the long run...
    "Is all this merely a long series of bitter pills that must be swallowed, or is it an indication of a failing set of trade policies? It's unclear how much longer the Administration will maintain the charade of pretending that tariffs are helping American businesses and consumers, but this week seemed to show that the mask is starting to slip." 
~ Eric Boehm, from his post 'The Trump Administration Is Finally Admitting That Trade Wars Aren't Easy to Win'

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

"It is no longer enough to say 'That’s awful' and then move on; we need a serious reckoning with this war, with the rise of seventh-century barbarism, and with the collapse of any semblance of moral restraint among the new terrorists." #QotD


"From the US to Europe, from the Middle East to the subcontinent, tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered by Islamist [terrorists].
    "This terrorism seems to have utterly dispensed with the old rules of engagement. Its battleground is as likely to be a church or a school or a hospital or a queue of children as it is a piece of land claimed by an opposing military outfit. It follows no moral code whatsoever. Its defining feature is a glaring and terrifying absence of moral restraint. Anything is acceptable. Anyone can be killed. There is no code or rule or even basic human impulse that says to these groups: 'Don’t do that. Not here. Not at a Sunday school.'
    "This means the new barbarism is very different to the violent groups that existed in the 1970s and 80s. These outfits, such as the Palestine Liberation Organisation or the Irish Republican Army, were usually, though not always, restrained by their political motives and ambitions, contained and controlled by their political beliefs.
    "Their claim to represent a political outlook and a political constituency meant they tended to behave within a basic moral framework. Their claim to be serious political actors meant they carefully tailored and targeted their militaristic acts. Their acts of violence were frequently bloody, of course, but they rarely did what Islamist terrorists do today: seek to kill as many people as possible, ideal­ly women and children, in a kind of perverse display of pornographic misanthropy, and with no higher aim than to devastate lives, communities and the human family more broadly.
    "For a few years now, some observers — not nearly enough — have tried to get to grips with the new barbarism, with this utterly unanchored, unrestrained, death-glorying violence. A 2005 New York Times piece titled 'The mystery of the insurgency' commented on Iraqi insurgents’ massacre of civilians and how historically unusual it was. This 'surge in the killing of civilians' reflects 'how mysterious the long-term strategy remains,' it said.
    "The writer arrived at a horrifying conclusion: that maybe there was no long-term strategy; that maybe killing civilians was the strategy, was the overriding aim. Death for death’s sake..."
    "The [vapid reactions] to the attacks in Sri Lanka [however] captures Western liberal elites’ caginess about morally and politically confronting [this] new barbarism...
    "A weak and morally disoriented West that will not strongly condemn the nihilistic ideology behind the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, or the bombing of children in Manchester, or the gunning down of rock fans in Paris, is a West that cannot feign surprise when such violence continues. It is no longer enough to say 'That’s awful' and then move on; we need a serious reckoning with [this war], the rise of seventh-century barbarism, and the collapse of any semblance of moral restraint among the new terrorists."

       ~ Brendan O'Neill, from his post 'Islamist barbarism thrives on West’s weak response'
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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

"Here’s the problem with the idea of 'toxic masculinity': It doesn’t seek to replace 'bad' masculinity with 'good,' or rational, masculinity. It seeks to annihilate masculinity altogether. The real toxic people are the ones pushing the idea of 'toxic masculinity.' You listen to them at your peril." #QotD



"Here’s the problem with the idea of 'toxic masculinity': It doesn’t seek to replace 'bad' masculinity with 'good,' or rational, masculinity. It seeks to annihilate masculinity altogether.
    "If you asked an opponent of toxic masculinity what 'healthy' masculinity consists of, you’ll either (a) get no answer, or (b) get an answer like, 'Sensitive, empathic, emotional, giving.' In other words, you’ll get an answer describing a conventional definition of femininity.
    "This proves that the real purpose of defeating 'toxic masculinity' is to destroy masculinity itself. No alternative to masculinity as we know it is ever offered...
    "Like the traditionalists, today’s post-modern feminists assume that men are thinkers and doers, while women are feelers and givers. Unlike the traditionalists, the post-modern feminists claim: Feeling and giving are superior to thinking and doing.
    "The psychological and intellectual dishonesty here is fascinating...
    "So before you bow your heads in political correctness, feeling you must join in the condemnation against 'toxic masculinity' and all things male as our cultural icons now demand, make sure you realize what you’re doing. You’re endorsing a world that will never exist, and shouldn’t exist: A universe where reason, strength, and confidence are gone and where obedience, passivity and emotionalistic 'snowflakery' rule...
    "The real toxic people are the ones pushing the idea of 'toxic masculinity.' You listen to them at your peril."

          ~ Dr Michael Hurd, from his post '“Toxic masculinity”? Not buying it.'
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Monday, 29 April 2019

Poverty Was Plummeting—Until the Govt Declared War On It


Campaigning for election, Jacinda Ardern promised to fix poverty -- or at a least work towards fixing poverty.
Now she is in government, she says of her party's promises that this year, 2019, will be their Year of Delivery. So far however that delivery looks a trifle retarded. But as we discover in reading Dan Mitchell's guest post, that may not be a bad thing: because when governments promise to end poverty, what they generally deliver is the opposite. "Yet again," says Dan Mitchell in discussing the failure of a US president's own War on Poverty, "government intervention hurts those it is intended to help."

It is a lesson the Prime Minister needs to learn.

Poverty in the U.S. Was Plummeting—Until Lyndon Johnson Declared War On It


One of the more elementary observations about economics is that a nation’s prosperity is determined in part by the quantity and quality of labor and capital. These “factors of production” are combined to generate national income.

I frequently grouse that punitive tax policies discourage capital. There’s less incentive to invest, after all, if the government imposes extra layers of tax on income that is saved and invested.
Bad tax laws also discourage labour. High marginal tax rates penalize people for being productive, and this can be especially counterproductive for entrepreneurship and innovation.
Still, we shouldn’t overlook how government discourages low-income people from being productively employed. But the problem is more on the spending side of the fiscal equation.

The Welfare State's Effect on the Poor

In a recent Wall Street Journal, John Early and Phil Gramm shared some depressing numbers about growing dependency in the United States:
During the 20 years before the War on Poverty was funded, the portion of the nation living in poverty had dropped to 14.7% from 32.1%. Since 1966, the first year with a significant increase in antipoverty spending, the poverty rate reported by the Census Bureau has been virtually unchanged…Transfers targeted to low-income families increased in real dollars from an average of $3,070 per person in 1965 to $34,093 in 2016…Transfers now constitute 84.2% of the disposable income of the poorest quintile of American households and 57.8% of the disposable income of lower-middle-income households. These payments also make up 27.5% of America’s total disposable income.
This massive expansion of redistribution has negatively impacted incentives to work:
The stated goal of the War on Poverty is not just to raise living standards but also to make America’s poor more self-sufficient and to bring them into the mainstream of the economy. In that effort the war has been an abject failure, increasing dependency and largely severing the bottom fifth of earners from the rewards and responsibilities of work…The expanding availability of antipoverty transfers has devastated the work effort of poor and lower-middle income families. By 1975 the lowest-earning fifth of families had 24.8% more families with a prime-work age head and no one working than did their middle-income peers. By 2015 this differential had risen to 37.1%…The War on Poverty has increased dependency and failed in its primary effort to bring poor people into the mainstream of America’s economy and communal life. Government programs replaced deprivation with idleness, stifling human flourishing. It happened just as President Franklin Roosevelt said it would: “The lessons of history,” he said in 1935, “show conclusively that continued dependency upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre.”
In another WSJ column on the same topic, Peter Cove reached a similar conclusion:
America doesn’t have a worker shortage; it has a work shortage. The unemployment rate is at a 15-year low, but only 55% of Americans adults 18 to 64 have full-time jobs. Nearly 95 million people have removed themselves entirely from the job market. According to demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, the labor-force participation rate for men 25 to 54 is lower now than it was at the end of the Great Depression. The welfare state is largely to blame… insisting on work in exchange for social benefits would succeed in reducing dependency. We have the data: Within 10 years of the 1996 reform, the number of Americans in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program fell 60%. But no reform is permanent. Under President Obama, federal poverty programs ballooned.
Edward Glaeser produced a similar indictment in an article for City Journal:
In 1967, 95 percent of “prime-age” men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. During the Great Recession, though, the share of jobless prime-age males rose above 20 percent. Even today, long after the recession officially ended, more than 15 percent of such men aren’t working… The rise of joblessness—especially among men—is the great American domestic crisis of the twenty-first century. It is a crisis of spirit more than of resources… Proposed solutions that focus solely on providing material benefits are a false path. Well-meaning social policies—from longer unemployment insurance to more generous disability diagnoses to higher minimum wages—have only worsened the problem; the futility of joblessness won’t be solved with a welfare check… various programs make joblessness more bearable, at least materially; they also reduce the incentives to find work… The past decade or so has seen a resurgent progressive focus on inequality—and little concern among progressives about the downsides of discouraging work… The decision to prioritize equality over employment is particularly puzzling, given that social scientists have repeatedly found that unemployment is the greater evil. 

Encouraging Dependency

Why work, though, when the government pays you not to work?

And that unfortunate cost-benefit analysis is being driven by ever-greater levels of dependency.

Writing for Forbes, Professor Jeffrey Dorfman echoed these findings:
…our current welfare system fails to prepare people to take care of themselves, makes poor people more financially fragile, and creates incentives to remain on welfare forever… The first failure of government welfare programs is to favor help with current consumption while placing almost no emphasis on job training or anything else that might allow today’s poor people to become self-sufficient in the future… It is the classic story of giving a man a fish or teaching him how to fish. Government welfare programs hand out lots of fish but never seem to teach people how to fish for themselves. The problem is not a lack of job training programs, but rather the fact that the job training programs fail to help people… The third flaw in the government welfare system is the way that benefits phase out as a recipient’s income increases… a poor family trying to escape poverty pays an effective marginal tax rate that is considerably higher than a middle class family and higher than or roughly equal to the marginal tax rate of a family in the top one percent.
I like that he also addressed problems such as implicit marginal tax rates and the failure of job-training programs.

Professor Lee Ohanian of the Hoover Institution reinforces the point that the welfare state provides lots of money in ways that stifle personal initiative:
Inequality is not an issue that policy should address… Society, however, should care about creating economic opportunities for the lowest earners… a family of four at the poverty level has about $22,300 per year of pre-tax income. Consumption for that same family of four on average, however, is about $44,000 per year, which means that their consumption level is about twice as high as their income… We’re certainly providing many more resources to low-earning families today. But on the other hand, we have policies in place that either limit economic opportunities for low earners or distort the incentives for those earners to achieve prosperity.
I’ve been citing lots of articles, which might be tedious, so let’s take a break with a video about the welfare state from the American Enterprise Institute:

And if you do like videos, here’s my favourite video about the adverse effects of the welfare state.

And if you like satire, here's PJ O'Rourke writing a whole chapter on the problem, eloquently summarising the lesson from this tale of failure:
"You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money."

Even (Some) Leftists Acknowledge the Problem

By the way, it isn’t just libertarians and conservatives who recognise the problem.

Coming from a left-of-centre perspective, Catherine Rampell explains in the Washington Post how welfare programs discourage work:
…today’s social safety net discourages poor people from working, or at least from earning more money… you might qualify for some welfare programs, such as food stamps, housing vouchers, child-care subsidies and Medicaid. But if you get a promotion, or longer hours, or a second job, or otherwise start making more, these benefits will start to evaporate—and sometimes quite abruptly. You can think about this loss of benefits as a kind of extra tax on low-income people… Americans at or just above the poverty line typically face marginal tax rates of 34 percent. That is, for every additional dollar they earn, they keep only 66 cents… One in 10 families with earnings close to the poverty line faces a marginal tax rate of at least 65 percent, the CBO found… You don’t need to be a hardcore conservative to see how this system might make working longer hours, or getting a better job, less attractive than it might otherwise be.
To understand what this means, the Illinois Policy Institute calculated how poor people in the state are trapped in dependency:
The potential sum of welfare benefits can reach $47,894 annually for single-parent households and $41,237 for two-parent households. Welfare benefits will be available to some households earning as much as $74,880 annually… A single mom has the most resources available to her family when she works full time at a wage of $8.25 to $12 an hour. Disturbingly, taking a pay increase to $18 an hour can leave her with about one-third fewer total resources (net income and government benefits). In order to make work “pay” again, she would need an hourly wage of $38 to mitigate the impact of lost benefits and higher taxes.
Agreeing that there’s a problem does not imply agreement about a solution.

Folks on the left think the solution to high implicit tax rates (i.e., the dependency trap) is to make benefits more widely available. In other words, don’t reduce handouts as income increases.

The other alternative is to make benefits less generous, which will simultaneously reduce implicit tax rates and encourage more work.

I’m sympathetic to the latter approach, but my view is that welfare programs should be designed and financed by state and local governments. We’re far more likely to see innovation as policymakers in different areas experiment with the best ways of preventing serious deprivation while also encouraging self-sufficiency.

I think we’ll find out that benefits should be lower, but maybe we’ll learn in certain cases that benefits should be expanded. But we won’t learn anything so long as there is a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington.

Let’s close with a political observation. A columnist for the New York Times is frustrated that many low-income voters are supporting Republicans because they see how their neighbors are being harmed by dependency:
Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net… The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder—the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns… I’ve heard variations on this theme all over the country: people railing against the guy across the street who is collecting disability payments but is well enough to go fishing, the families using their food assistance to indulge in steaks.
It’s not my role to pontificate about politics, so I won’t address that part of the column. But I will say that I’ve also found that hostility to welfare is strongest among those who have first-hand knowledge of how dependency hurts people.

P.S. If you want evidence for why the government should get out of the business of income redistribution, check out this visual depiction of the American welfare state:

P.S. The Canadians can teach all of us some good lessons about welfare reform.

P.P.S. The Nordic nations also provide valuable lessons, at least from the don’t-do-this perspective.

P.P.P.S. Last but not least, there’s a Laffer-type relationship between welfare spending and poverty.

* * * * * 
Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist specialising in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. 
This post first appeared at the International Liberty site.

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"Amidst the glaring shortages of workers, e.g. bus drivers, that are crippling services, there has been an almost 11 percent increase in numbers of unemployed. Worse, those jobseekers [i.e., unemployed] classified as 'work ready' have risen by 14.5 percent... 
    "What this illustrates is how the benefit system has now evolved into a bona fide, state-sanctioned alternative to employment for too many." 
          ~ Lindsay Mitchell, from her post 'Youth Payments Increase By 88.9%'
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Sunday, 28 April 2019

"In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. " #QotD



"In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilisations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire."
          ~ Ayn Rand, from her article 'The Anti-Industrial Revolution'

RELATED READING:
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Saturday, 27 April 2019

"Increasing understanding of the causal connections between things and human welfare have led mankind from a state of the deepest misery to its present stage of well-being. Nothing is more certain than that the degree of economic progress of mankind will still, in future epochs, be commensurate with the degree of progress of human knowledge.” #QotD


“The quantities of consumption goods at human disposal are limited only by the extent of human knowledge of the causal connections between things, and by the extent of human control over these things. Increasing understanding of the causal connections between things and human welfare, and increasing control of the less proximate conditions responsible for human welfare, have led mankind, therefore, from a state of barbarism and the deepest misery to its present stage of civilisation and well-being, and have changed vast regions inhabited by a few miserable, excessively poor, men into densely populated civilised countries. Nothing is more certain than that the degree of economic progress of mankind will still, in future epochs, be commensurate with the degree of progress of human knowledge.”
          ~ Carl Menger, founder of Austrian economics, from his seminal  'Principles of Economics'
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Friday, 26 April 2019

John Doxat's "Fantastical Martinis"



Alright, so as the sun at the end of this short working week rolls quietly around toward Cocktail Hour, to get you suitably chilled for that first quenching sip I offer you my slightly revised version of John Doxat's list of literally fantastic martinis from his excellent wee book on the world's greatest drink Stirred--Not Shaken: The Dry Martini (1976):
Author's Note: These are not proper martini-esque mutations, but rhyming names for the Dry Martini in particular or peculiar situations -- actual, fictional, or improbable: readers may care to add their own fancies to this initial list.
SPY MARTINI: The allegedly true instance of a Dry Martini with a 'bugged' olive, to pick up an espionage agent's conversation. (But what happened if he ate it? The C.I.A. declines to comment.)
CRY MARTINI: The sixth or seventh successive double Dry Martini which has induced sentimental or belligerent lachrymosity.
LIE MARTINI: The Dry Martini you tell your partner is your first, when in fact you've had two already.
BANZAI MARTINI: The Dry Martini you charge into. Or charge up.
NIGH MARTINI: Almost a cocktail -- so weak, and insipid, as to barely qualify as a Dry Martini. [See also "making love in a canoe" - Ed.]
TRY MARTINI: If in quotation marks, this is advice to the love-lorn from a practical cynic. Otherwise it is the first, experimental Dry Martini in a bar previously unfamiliar with the drink. Treat with caution.
BULLS-EYE MARTINI; The one that's so good you feel it click when it hits that spot.
FLY MARTINI: Exhortatory slogan composed, after a Three-Martini Lunch, by an advertising copy-writer having trouble with a campaign for a new airline.
THIGH MARTINI: Either the one that clumsy idiot on the next bar stool spills over your trouser leg, or the one that induces the young lady on the next bar stool over to reveal a little more.
SHY MARTINI: The one that induces immediate loss of speech.
FRY MARTINI: A tepid - or heated Martini. In no way recommended.
MY MARTINI: As in, "Just a moment, Buster, that's my Martini you're drinking!" 
PIE MARTINI: The glass half-filled by vegetable matter -- huge stuffed olive, outlandish onion, grotesque slice of lemon -- leaving sparse space for liquor. 
HIGH MARTINI: One in which your olive may be off. 
SLY MARTINI: Order one Dry Martini and one orange juice. Drink the first and have the glass removed. Enter partner: "Are you ready yet?" You respond: "Just let me finish my orange juice."
Speaking of orange juice (which we should rarely do) reminds me of W.C. Fields's famous flask of Dry Martini, kept about him at all times, referring to it as his "orange juice." One the set one day some stage hands emptied the flask and refilled it with the juice. Later came the stentorian Fields's trumpet: "Who's been putting the orange juice in my orange juice?"
PI MARTINI: Short for Pious Martini. A Dry Martini without the gin. Or the pleasure.
TIE MARTINI: A waste of money -- the one you spill down your neckwear.
EYE MARTINI: A dangerous drink signalled by the near verticality of the toothpick, requiring extra caution when elevated to the imbibing position. 
PSY MARTINI: A Dry Martini served Gangnam Style. 
DRIVE MARTINI: The forth or fifth double Dry Martini after which all vehicular activity should be confined to the passenger seat(s). [See DIE MARTINI for the possible consequences should this advice be ignored.]

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PS: Bonus points if you can name the movie...

"Any activists who plant these [apocalyptic] fictions in the minds of the young and the vulnerable, any activists who denigrate the achievements of research and technology, any activists campaigning on total fear and anxiety are promulgating political propaganda and unforgivable irresponsibility."


"
Extinction Rebellion’s shocking success can be put down to decades of activist fear-mongering that has created a disorder known as eco-anxiety. Vulnerable, caring people have heard repeated messages of pending apocalyptic doom (climate, bees, sterility, plastics…) to the point they are so freaked out they can no longer function or plan for the future. Story piles upon story until the depression is too strong for upset people to even bother to critically analyse the crap being disseminated...
"Perhaps it’s time for some reality amidst the heightened absurdity of over-extended [environmentalist] campaign rhetoric:
  • The human race will not go extinct in 12 years. No credible scientist has ever said that. 
  • Industry and innovative technologies are making progress in reducing CO2 emissions in most Western countries. Emerging markets are following fast even as their economies expand.
  • Outside of a few Emerging Asian river basins, the oceans are not choking on plastic waste. National waste management and recycling systems improve with development.
  • Farmers are meeting growing global food needs and conservation agriculture with ag-tech is improving soil health. Shifting to organic and agroecological systems would decimate biodiversity and increase global food insecurity.
  • Accounting for extended life expectancy, cancers rates are not increasing and medical advances have improved cancer survival rates.
  • The honeybees are not going extinct and a good part of any biodiversity loss is due largely to urbanisation.
"Any activists who plant these fictions in the minds of the young and the vulnerable, any activists who denigrate the achievements of research and technology, any activists campaigning on total fear and anxiety are promulgating political propaganda and unforgivable irresponsibility." 
~ From the 'RiskMonger' post 'What Monty Python can teach us about Extinction Rebellion'

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Thursday, 25 April 2019

Nothing noble about sacrifice


Since so many have used the word today, let's define it:


Nothing noble about that. 

Let's examine it:
Sacrifice” is the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a nonvalue. Thus, altruism gauges a man’s virtue by the degree to which he surrenders, renounces or betrays his values (since help to a stranger or an enemy is regarded as more virtuous, less “selfish,” than help to those one loves). The rational principle of conduct is the exact opposite: always act in accordance with the hierarchy of your values, and never sacrifice a greater value to a lesser one.
And further:
“Sacrifice” does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious.
“Sacrifice” does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. “Sacrifice” is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t.
    If you exchange a penny for a dollar, it is not a sacrifice; if you exchange a dollar for a penny, it is. If you achieve the career you wanted, after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you then renounce it for the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and give it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbour’s child and let your own die, it is.
    If you give money to help a friend, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to a worthless stranger, it is. If you give your friend a sum you can afford, it is not a sacrifice; if you give him money at the cost of your own discomfort, it is only a partial virtue, according to this sort of moral standard; if you give him money at the cost of disaster to yourself—that is the virtue of sacrifice in full.
    If you renounce all personal desires and dedicate your life to those you love, you do not achieve full virtue [by this moral standard]: you still retain a value of your own, which is your love. If you devote your life to random strangers, it is an act of greater virtue. If you devote your life to serving men you hate—[by this depraved moral standard] that is the greatest of the virtues you can practice.
    A sacrifice is the surrender of a value. Full sacrifice is full surrender of all values.
There is nothing, nothing at all, that is noble about that.

Does that mean you should never fight at all? Never fight for those you love? No:
Concern for the welfare of those one loves is a rational part of one’s selfish interests. If a man who is passionately in love with his wife spends a fortune to cure her of a dangerous illness, it would be absurd to claim that he does it as a “sacrifice” for her sake, not his own, and that it makes no difference to him, personally and selfishly, whether she lives or dies.
    Any action that a man undertakes for the benefit of those he loves is not a sacrifice if, in the hierarchy of his values, in the total context of the choices open to him, it achieves that which is of greatest personal (and rational) importance to him. In the above example, his wife’s survival is of greater value to the husband than anything else that his money could buy, it is of greatest importance to his own happiness and, therefore, his action is not a sacrifice.
    But suppose he let her die in order to spend his money on saving the lives of ten other women, none of whom meant anything to him—as the ethics of altruism would require. That would be a sacrifice. Here the difference between Objectivism and altruism can be seen most clearly: if sacrifice is the moral principle of action, then that husband should sacrifice his wife for the sake of ten other women. What distinguishes the wife from the ten others? Nothing but her value to the husband who has to make the choice—nothing but the fact that his happiness requires her survival.
    The Objectivist ethics would tell him: your highest moral purpose is the achievement of your own happiness, your money is yours, use it to save your wife, that is your moral right and your rational, moral choice.
Fighting for your values, fighting for those you love, these are acts of integrity. Not of sacrifice.

We may honour a man acting in support of his values, even at the risk of his life. We should neither honour, nor call it, a sacrifice.

Why?

Because honouring their memory demands it. That's a question of our integrity.

And there is a practical reason:
It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.
Such people exist in every age. 

They called men to war in 1914 in the name of, says one historian, "an altruistic willingness to sacrifice oneself for the cause of righteousness." They call people now, Great Leaders of every description seeking sacrifice to a "higher cause" -- to the State, to the Climate, to any Great Cause selected by the Great Leaders, expunging the sin of selfishness in their answer to the call of "Duty."

But as a great writer once observed: "Under a morality of sacrifice, the first value you sacrifice is morality itself."

There is nothing noble about sacrifice. 
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"Lest we forget" is said every year, and with increasing vehemence, as the twin themes of duty & blood sacrifice have come to permeate the day--the soldiers' sacrifice like a "blood tax against which everyone else must measure themselves." #AnzacDay



"'Lest we forget' is said every year, and with increasing vehemence, as the twin themes of duty and blood sacrifice have however come to permeate the day--the increasing link between the ethics of duty and of altruism ever more apparent--the soldiers' sacrifice still like 'a blood tax against which everyone else must measure themselves.'
    "But, as Ayn Rand observed, when there is widespread call of sacrifice, there is always someone ready and willing to pick up the sacrifices. Not in military duty necessarily, not today, but undoubtedly in calls for duty, for selflessness, for service to a higher cause -- to State, to Climate, or to someone else's Great Cause -- that Great Cause to be selected for us by Great Leaders. Selfishness, still, the great sin to be expunged."
          ~ excerpted and paraphrased from my 2018 Anzac Day post 'Lest We Forget What?'
[Sculpture by Australian artist Rayner Hoff, inside the Australian War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park]
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