Friday morning ramble: The desperately sorry edition [updated]
I can’t tell you how sorry I am as I type this. Sorry that I’ve had to put up with all the public blubbing from people who should know better. Which is as good a way as any to lead you into this week’s ramble around things on the net that caught my eye, starting with something about all those unsavoury public tears:
- Frankly, says Thomas Sowell, there’s been too many goddamn apologies. (Except he’s to refined to say “goddamn.”) “Public apologies to people who are not owed any apology have become one of the many signs of the mushy thinking of our times. . . This craze for aimless apologies is part of a general loss of a sense of personal responsibility in our time. We are supposed to feel guilty for what other people did but there are a thousand cop-outs for what we ourselves did to those we did it to. ” Too damn right.
Too Many Apologies - THOMAS SOWELL [Hat tip Gus Van Horn]
- Someone who does say “goddamn” also gets in on the “sorry” frenzy. “Tiger Woods's ritual self-abasement before the world on the matter of his marital infidelities was pitiful, unnecessary and improper,” says SOLO Principal Lindsay Perigo.
When Tigers Become Pussies – LINDAY PERIGO
- On a related note, Rituparnu Basu reflects that the plight of the likes of Tiger Woods and Bernie Madoff and Elliot Spitzer, all of whom would conventionally be called “selfish” for what they did, should actually cause you to call into question your conventional view. None of these mean at all look like they’ve been rationally selfish—in fact they’ve all been decidedly unselfish in any rational sense--and that, in fact, is the leading cause of their downfall.
The Unselfish Actions of Today’s “Selfish” Men - THE UNDERCURRENT
- So on a related note, Ifat Glassman has a look at what selfishness actually does mean in practice.
"Selfishness [he says] is a principle by which one pursues one's happiness above all else. How is this translated into every day choices and what does it mean to be selfish in practice?
The article discusses this."
What is Selfishness? – PSYCHOLOGY OF SELFISHNESS
- Blunt contemplates the retrospective ethical standards of a professional politician.
- With only “200+” people prepared to turn out to protest some minor cost-cutting at Radio New Zealand (you’d think with all the hyperbole flying around something much more drastic was being proposed), Liberty SCott wonders why Radio NZ’s estimated 650,000 listeners can’t pay the $60 each it takes to run the thing themselves, instead of putting their hands in other people’s pockets:
“Go on, Radio NZ supporters, cough up. Stop wanting non-listening taxpayers to fund what YOU like, indeed if it is so valuable you should be jumping at the chance.
“Does it just speak volumes about the hypocrisy of those who say how ‘valuable’ it is, how much ‘we’ should appreciate it, that THEY wont spend a dollar of their own cash to help out?”
$60 a year for Radio NZ listeners to pay – LIBERTY SCOTT
- Tom Stelene reminds me of a great book that demonstrates that Russia throughout its history has been a nett parasite on the world.
Old, Obscure, Great Books Review: 'East Minus West = Zero: Russia's Debt to the Western World,' by Werner Keller – THE AUDACITY OF INDEPENDENCE
- How do we know what we know? Especially, how do scientists know what they know? From whence comes scientific certainty? The leading thinker still on scientific induction was Francis Bacon. Roderick Fitts has some thoughts on “nine things that Bacon said are helps in our ability to properly inductively reason.” A very helpful guide.
Bacon on the "Helps" of Induction - INDUCTIVE QUEST
- So what exactly are our troops doing in Afghanistan? Edward Cline reflects on an interesting Spiked column on the current "offensive" in Afghanistan. “The author makes several valid points. He all but says that if the war is fought, not to achieve victory, but to attain some altruistic hearts and minds’ goal, then it is pointless to even wage the war."
Islam is the Enemy - RULE OF REASON
- Scott Holleran concurs. “[Obama’s] Marjah operation is a major test of a new NATO strategy that stresses protecting civilians over [defeating enemy combatants]…” No wonder it’s achieving neither.
Update on Obama’s Marjah – SCOTT HOLLERAN
- Ever wondered when exactly people with clipboards took over your life? Steven Greenhut reflects on how public servants became our masters. [Hat tip Eric Crampton]
Class War: How public servants became our masters – REASON ONLINE
- Remember when the US government took over General Motors? Remember when they said they’d run it like a “proper business”? (Yeah right.) Looks instead like they’re using government force (and the insanity of antitrust legislation) to close down their competitors. The latest assault: raiding the U.S. offices of three auto suppliers as part of an antitrust investigation . . .
The Antitrust Wars Rage On - MISES ECONOMICS BLOG
- Eric Crampton has more on Google being done over by the antitrust maggots.
Google and antitrust – OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
- And just to remind you of the origins and errors of the antitrust arguments, George Reisman shows in this classic essay that they are quite literally unreal.
“The doctrine of ‘pure and perfect competition’ [he says] is a central element both in contemporary economic theory and in the practice of the Anti-Trust Division of the US Department of Justice [and of NZ’s own Commerce Commission] . . . [yet] "pure and perfect competition" is totally unlike anything one normally means by the term "competition. . .
“This ‘concept’ divorced from reality, this Platonic ‘ideal of perfection’ drawn from non-existence to serve as the "standard" for judging existence, is one of the principal reasons why businessmen have been imprisoned, major corporations broken up and others prevented from expanding, and why economic progress has been retarded and the improvement of man's material well-being significantly undercut."
This article demolishes the philosophical and theoretical foundations of antitrust policy. It should be in every liberty-lover’s reading list.
Platonic Competition – GEORGE REISMAN
- I’ve just started reading Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Facism: The Secret History of the American Left. If you can skip over the religiosity, both explicit and implict, that oozes from every page it’s a mostly excellent account of how the twentieth-century “progressive” project shares the same roots, and many of the same goals and methods, as the fascists they so liberally castigate.
William M. Briggs, the statistician to the stars, is starting a three-parter on the book at his blog. Looks like it’s going to be a good one. [Hat tip Blunt]
Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, Part I - WILLIAM M. BRIGGS
- And since you’ve heard the word bandied around so often, just what the hell is “progressivism” anyway? “In practice,” says Charles Anderson, “the one single principle of Progressivism is a desire for government to have more power so it will have greater control over the People, while the college-educated elite control the government.” Looks to me like a good working definition.
What is Progressivism? – OBJECTIVIST INDIVIDUALIST
- Led by philosophers in that very first Boston Tea Party, revolutionaries brought freedom to America. Jo Kellard reflects that unless they realise that the battle for freedom is primarily an intellectual one, then the present crop of Tea-Party would-be revolutionaries “will be impotent to effect any substantive or lasting change toward liberty.”
Letters on Tea Party and Founders & Religion – THE AMERICAN INDIVIDUALIST
- While the headlines of the last few years signal news that shows liberty heading for the trashcan, Jeremy Lott reckons we should look at some of the quieter victories for liberty that have been won in the US Supreme Court by libertarian justice organisations – those few honest lawyers who still remember why they went to law school; to get justice.
Victories include the recent Citizens United decision, which effectively scrapped most restrictions on independent campaign spending by individuals, groups, and corporations.
Would that we had a constitution in this country that allowed us to strike down the anti-free-speech campaign rules being cooked up here by the present ruling party.
Quiet Libertarian Victories – REAL CLEAR POLITICS
- It’s said that to understand economics is to understand the practical case for freedom. A new book brings out the connection in the clearest and shortest possible way. “The Concise Guide To Economics [says the book’s blurb] is a handy, quick reference guide for those already familiar with basic economics, and a brief, compelling primer for everyone else.” No maths, no equations, no waffle: “the book combines straightforward, common sense analysis with hard-core dedication to principle, using the fewest words possible to explain the topic clearly.” Even better, you can read it all online if you want to:
The Concise Guide To Economics – by JIM COX
- Via Pharyngula comes news that you can be good without God. It’s true.
And, in fact, a new study shows you’re more likely to be good if you’re not religious. That’s a really inconvenient true story for some people.
- And while we’re mentioning religion, James Valliant is still taking on (and overcoming) all-comers over at SOLO following his recent flaying of the historical record and morals of religion and its practitioners (which he was kind enough to let me post here). Recent combatants include Dr and Mrs Flannnagan from the M & M blog, who I believe are yet to respond on James’s last substantive reply to them . . .
Gimme That Old Time Religion! - [Scroll down for comments, of which there are currently about 190]
- The senior writer at the Greens’s Frog Blog confesses “I am not an economist,” while writing a dozen or so turgid paragraphs on minimum-wage laws to prove it. According to The Frog, “In our economy the people being paid minimum and near minimum wage are doing jobs that must be done” and therefore and minimum-wage increase “simply transfers wealth from those who invest to those who labour.” [Emphasis in the original]. This ignores, among many others things, that prices for the products of these jobs can only be as high as the market can bear; that paying above the odds to bring that product to market only reduces profits, and therefore the jobs that can be offered; that the wealth must come from somewhere, and that if enough investors’ wealth is “transferred” against their will they’ll soon be investing elsewhere; and that if they do then even if it’s true that these are jobs that must be done, that doesn’t make them jobs that will be done at any price.
For more rational views on minimum-wage laws than you’ll find at the blogs of non-economists, arguments that will actually protect the jobs of the low-paid instead of throwing them out on the street, the local repository of good advice is still Eric Crampton’s posts on Minimum-Wage. (It’s worth bookmarking this, since I suspect the same bad arguments will need to be knocked down over and again all year.)
Minimum-Wages – OFFSETTING BEHAVIOUR
- I’m quietly amused to see The Standard talking about the country’s CEOs as “Atlases” who will never “shrug,” no matter how many taxes are thrown at them. I say “amused” not because I find the post attacking Paul Reynolds et al in any way amusing, or the thesis in any way congenial, but because it’s an indication of just how far Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged has seeped into the culture when The Standard can write a post like that expecting its readers to know what the imagery means. And they do.
‘Atlases’ don’t deserve a tax cut – THE STANDARD
- Standard readers, or anyone else, who wants to know more about the imagery of Atlas Shrugged, or anything else, will enjoy Diana Hsieh’s regular podcasts at her Explore Atlas Shrugged blog. She’s up to Podcast #12 already.
- And whatever you do, don’t kick sand in the face of Charles Atlas Shrugged [hat tip Scott P.]:
- So here’s a starter questions for ten points: “was all of Obama’s stimulunacy last year and this
(A) a job creation bill or,
(B) a liberal spending wish list?
A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study suggests that option B is closer to the truth. Small wonder it did not bring unemployment down.
What Exactly Was the Stimulus? – THE FOUNDRY
- I’m still haunted by this post from July last year, suggesting that with better economic management (and less of the stimulunacy) the world’s economies could have been out of recession in February last year. That we haven’t and still aren’t--and everyone is still talking blindly about “recovery” without actually seeing any-- is largely due to all those short-term fixes everyone said was necessary to get us out of the Great Recession, but in reality have only served to keep us in it even longer.
In an alternative universe we could have seen economic recovery in February 2009– NOT PC
- Gooner applauds John Key acting decisively, boldly and courageous in accepting the resignation of Phil Heatley—and he has a list of all the other things highlighting John’s “bold and decisive” leadership.
Bold, decisive leadership – NO MINISTER
- New blog Today’s Dissent (welcome to the blogosphere, guys) examines in a very studious way why compelling students to join students associations against their will violates the right to freedom of association under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
VSM: Go your own way - TODAY’S DISSENT
- I’m coming to this a little late, but the abortion debate between the politically correct and the religiously inspired kicked up while I was away last week in a particularly delicious fashion.
Ironically, Catholic Doctors like Mary English who exercised their own free choice in refusing to counsel abortion to patients (while refusing to allow it in their patients) were castigated by women like Deborah From a Strange Land for refusing to recognise that women are moral agents who have the right to exercise free choice—and on the basis of “free choice” Deborah and others maintained that doctors should just shut up and do what they’re told.
The irony seemed to escape all parties.
- It’s hard keeping up with all the bleeding now the climategate scab has been ripped off, but The Briefing Room has been doing good work with the updates. Latest is an account of how South Africa’s urban/rural temperature record suggests good reason to mistrust the global temperature record.
STUDY: Urban heat effect seriously underestimated – BRIEFING ROOM
- In America at least, the continuing revelations of Climategate and beyond are spelling the death of cap-and-trade. Yaron BRook discusses the good news on PJTV. [Hat tip ARC-TV]
The Death of Cap-and-Trade? – PJTV
- The treatment of peer-reviewed science as an unquestionable form of authority is corrupting the peer-review system and damaging public debate, says Frank Furedi.
Turning peer review into modern-day holy scripture – SPIKED ONLINE
- The mainstream media is slowly cottoning on to what ClimateGate means. Here’s part one a TV special on San Diego station KUCI on the Global Warming Meltdown that looks to be another good roundup on the collapse of the consensus. (An index to all nine parts is here.)
- And now, a cartoon for any climate scientists still reading this, courtesy of Watts Up With That:
- There’s a clutch of good posts on rational parenting up at this week’s Objectivist Blog Roundup, including:
- To send your kid to their room, or not to? That is Rational Jenn’s question.
Go to your room!" PD or not? – RATIONAL JENN
- How not to raise brats.
Three Fundamental Rules for Not Raising Brats or Being One Yourself - KELLY ELMORE
- To send your kid to their room, or not to? That is Rational Jenn’s question.
- Is it possible to make a consistent income from blogging? At least one blogger thinks so.
How to Create a Consistent Income From Blogging – A RECESSION-PROOF LIFE
- Just in case you were wondering:
Property is Not a Hedge Against Inflation – KRIS SAYCE
- An ethical question for you to ponder over the weekend: “Fox hunting: Should this inhumane practice be stopped?” [Hat tip Peter L.]
- And finally, just for Julian, here’s Vaya Con Dios doing some more of that summertime music:
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend! Maybe I’ll see you down at Mission Bay?