Monday, January 28, 2013

Political update for January, 2013

So much for soaring rhetoric.  Read in a vacuum, that is, absent a political context, Obama's second inaugural sounds almost  moderate. But, placed in its political context -- and why would you read it otherwise -- the mask has slipped. Other than the hope for gays to be treated equally under the law, I found the president's inaugural speech unsurprisingly distressing, as I did the first one where he casually implied that spending was just peachy.  Obviously, he now feels he can afford to make his political intentions more plain, whereas the first speech was the first day of the second campaign. And with that came the greatest spending and most brash liberalism since the Great Society.

They are going for the brass ring here, and, their being victorious in a second election, some might see that as their due. And, there can be little doubt but by his conservative adversaries that more voting Americans seemed to agree with him than did otherwise.  Political parties rarely feel they need to remember that with public office is SUPPOSED to come duty and responsibility, not privilege or the right to usurp anyone's liberty, property or life without due process of law. In reality, it is always degraded into a quest for power coupled with the fear of losing it (“The real terrors of both Parties have all ways been, and now are, the fear that they shall loose the Elections and consequently the Loaves and Fishes; and that their Antagonists will obtain them." - John Adams).

Obama's  duties are the same under the Constitution now as they were before - to see to it that the laws are executed, not to change our culture or redistribute income. Yet along with the pop culture history lesson, this was the speech.  Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest that he is the first president to shoot for more than to exercise his constitutional authority.  
Though it is either a parlor game or foolishness to predict what will happen in anyone's term as president, I suspect with little fear of embarrassment that Obama and Biden will continue to try to remake the country into one that looks more like Sweden and Belgium than it does Pennsylvania and Colorado in line with the Social Democratic philosophy that best describes their policies.  How they think this is even remotely possible when we also have by far the most expensive military in the world, I cannot imagine (although some think that is precisely the reason Chuck Hagel has been nominated for SecDef in order to scrunch it down - I doubt it).  But,  trying to do both is like trying to serve both God and Mammon or riding two donkeys with one ass (a phrase I learned in a wonderful pseudo-Western, Support Your Local Sheriff, starring James Garner, said by the mayor, played by Harry Morgan, to his daughter, Garner's love interest) or making an omelet without breaking some eggs.  Try as you may, you just can't do it.

While I do not for a second believe the hyperbole that President Obama is a Communist or Marxist as some like to suggest (you could make the argument that even modern conservatives are Marxists), and wants the government to control all production, I do believe he is an ardent, as opposed to reluctant, democratic-socialist who has the "fatal conceit" that he or others under him can manage our economic success despite every evidence that we have never been capable of it except to live fat while devaluing our currency.  
Central to his speech was the idea that there can be some kind of economic parity among all of us (I was going to quote from it, but there is too much else I want to get to and you can read it yourself online - but his use of the charged word "collective" is a little scary).  What this really means is that markets don't matter, the "invisible hand" does not matter so much, a person reaping the fruits of their labor or ingenuity does not matter so much either. That they can simply force people to give more and more of what they have for the benefit of those who do not have it to make up for some kind of group historical guilt for slavery and Jim Crow, male domination and other aspects of our history/culture, is a central tenet of liberal thinking. That this is the dreaded income redistribution cannot rationally be denied.  Though he does not go around using the phrase anymore, just prior to this past election a prior public statement in his belief in it surfaced, and the White House acknowledged it.  No one much paid attention or cared other than the conservative radio hosts and their fans because so many people agree with him, and not just the 47%.

These are not new ideas.  It has always been at the center of all socialistic, progressive, liberal agendas - money and property are at best on lend to people - it belongs to the government, and, the  economy can be manipulated by masters (the phrase Obama used early on was "the pointy heads").  This always fails, though it can occasionally made to look like solvent. Lloyd Bentsen, a former VP candidate in 1988, is famous for saying to opponent Dan Quayle in their debate - "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." But, the more important thing he said in the same debate that goes largely ignored these days by spenders on both sides was "You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity, too."  We can only wish it was but $200 billion dollars. We would all be so happy if it was only $200 billion dollars. Just the interest on our debt alone was over $200 billion in 1988 but last year was nearly $360 billion. That's not even new debt. We spent about $664 billion on defense in 2011. Don't even start with entitlements, which are about three times are national security spending.
The notion that coercively equalizing incomes or assets among people, which I would have in my youth and ignorance thought the most worthwhile goal, is, it turns out, not only impossible, but terribly foolish.  Most of our technological wonders that give so much comfort and make our lives so much easier are around not just because they were invented, but because rich people got to use and enjoy them first or had the capital and ability to manufacture, market and distribute them at a price most people can afford.  This was explained to me best by Friedrich Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty -- one of those books I wish every president and every senator and congressperson would read before they took the oath, but know that can never be, because, frankly, it is not easy reading and they wouldn't do it.  I excerpt it below, but to make it more readable and cull the sense of what he wrote, I've cut and pasted, leaving out here all the asterisks and stars that I would need to separate the selections, as well as all the abundant notes that were included to back up his conclusions. In other words, I made a much shorter essay (long as it is) than what he wrote by cutting a lot of it out.  I put this in bold because I would not want anyone ever making an internet search on Hayek or this book to quote from it as if the paragraphs ran together this way in his book.

"If today in the United States or western Europe the relatively poor can have a car or a refrigerator, and airplane trip or a radio, at the cost of a reasonable part of their income, this was made possible because in the past others with larger incomes were able to spend on what was then a luxury. . . Many of the improvements would indeed never become a possibility for all if they had not long before been available to some. If all had to wait for better things until they could be provided for all, that day would in many instances never come. Even the poorest today owe their relative material well-being to the results of past inequality.
[A]s long as the graduation is more or less continuous and all the steps in the income pyramid are reasonably occupied, it can scarcely be denied that those lower down profit materially from the fact that the others are ahead.

In the long run, the existence of groups ahead of the rest is clearly an advantage to those who are behind, in the same way that , if we could suddenly draw on the more advanced knowledge which some other men on a previously unknown continent or on another planet had gained under more favorable conditions, we would all profit greatly.
There can be little doubt that the prospect of the poorer, “undeveloped” countries reaching the present level of the West is very much better than it would have been, had the West not pulled so far ahead.

That even countries or groups which do not possess freedom can profit from many of its fruits is one the reasons why the importance of freedom is not better understood.
Equality of the general  rules of law and conduct, however, is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty and the only equality which we can secure without destroying liberty. Not only has liberty nothing to do with any other sort of equality, bit it is even bound to produce inequality in many respects. This is the necessary result and part of the justification of individual liberty: if the result of individual liberty did not demonstrate that some manners of living are more successful than others, much of the case for it would vanish.

Modern advocates of a more far-reaching material equality usually deny that their demands are based on any assumption of the factual equality of all men. It is nevertheless still widely believed that this is the main justification for such demands. . . It is of the essence of the demand for equality before the law that people should be treated alike in spite of the fact that they are different.
From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one or the other, but not both at the same time. . . Our argument will be that, though where the state must use coercion for other reasons, it should treat all people alike, the desire of making people more alike in their condition cannot be accepted in a free society as a justification for further and discriminatory coercion.

We do not object to equality as such. It merely happens to be the case that a demand for equality is the professed motive of most of those who desire to impose upon society a preconceived pattern of distribution. . . We shall indeed see that many of those who demand an extension of equality do not really demand equality but a distribution that conforms more closely to human conceptions of individual merit and that their desires are as irreconcilable with freedom as the more strictly egalitarian demands.
f one objects to the use of coercion in order to bring about a more even or a more just distribution, this does not mean that one does not regard these as desirable. But if we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability  of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.

There also seems no reason why these widely felt preferences should not guide policy in some respects. Wherever there is a legitimate need for government action and we have to choose between different methods of satisfying such a need, those that incidentally also reduce inequality may well be preferable.
Though either may greatly affect the value which an individual has for his fellows, no more credit belongs to him for having been born with desirable qualities than for having grown up under favorable circumstances. The distinction between the two is important only because the former advantages are due to circumstances clearly beyond human control, while the latter are due to factors which we might be able to alter. The important question is whether there is a case for so changing our institutions as to eliminate as much as possible those advantages due to environment. Are we to agree that “all inequalities that rest on birth and inherited property ought to be abolished and none remain unless it is an effect of superior talent and industry”?

The most important factors to be considered in this connection are the family, inheritance, and education, and it is against the inequality which they produce that criticism is mainly directed. They are, however, not the only important factors of environment. Geographic conditions such climate and landscape, not to speak of local and sectional differences in cultural and moral traditions, are scarcely less important. We can, however, consider here only the three factors whose effects are most commonly impugned.
So far as family is concerned, there exists a curious contrast between the esteem most people profess for the institution and their dislike of the fact that being born into a particular family should confer on a person special advantages. . . Yet it is difficult to see why the same useful quality which is welcomed when it is the result of a person’s natural endowment should be less valuable when it is the product of such circumstances as intelligent parents or a good home.

Though inheritance used to be the most widely criticized source of inequality, it is today probably no longer so. Egalitarian agitation now tends to concentrate on the unequal advantages due to differences in education.
For the present we shall only point out that enforced equality in this field can hardly avoid preventing some from getting the education they otherwise might. Whatever we might do, there is no way of preventing those advantages which only some can have, and which it is desirable that some should have, from going to people who neither individually merit them nor will make as good a use of them as some other person might have done. Such a problem cannot be satisfactorily solved by the exclusive and coercive powers of the state.

It is instructive at this point to glance briefly at the change that the ideal of equality has undergone in this field in modern times. A hundred years ago, at the height of the classical liberal movement, the demand was generally expressed by the phrase la carrière ouverte aux talents. It was a demand that all man-made obstacles to the rise of some should be removed, that all privileges of individuals should be abolished, and that what the state contributed to the chance of improving one’s conditions should be the same for all. That so long as people were different and grew up in different families this could not assure an equal start was fairly generally accepted. It was understood that the duty of government was not to ensure that everybody had the same prospect of reaching a given position but merely to make available to all on equal terms those facilities which in their nature depended on government action. That the results were bound to be different, not only because the individuals were different, but also because only a small part of the relevant circumstances depended on government action, was taken for granted.
The conception that all should be allowed to try has been largely replaced by the altogether different conception that all much be assured an equal start and the same prospects. This means little less than that the government, instead of providing the same circumstances for all, should aim at controlling all conditions relevant to a particular individual’s prospects and so adjust them to his capacities as to assure him of the same prospects as everybody else. Such deliberate adaptations of opportunities to individual aims and capacities would, of course, be the opposite of freedom. Nor could it be justified as a means of making the best use of all available knowledge except on the assumption that government knows best how individual capacities can be used.

When we inquire into the justification of these demands, we find that they rest on the discontent that the success of some people often produces in those that are less successful, or, to put it bluntly, on envy. The modern tendency to gratify this passion  and to disguise it in the respectable garment of social justice is developing into a serious threat to freedom. . . This would, of course, necessarily mean that it is the responsibility of government to see that nobody is healthier or possesses a happier temperament, a better-suited spouse or more prospering children, than anybody else. If really all unfulfilled desires have a claim on the community, individual responsibility is at an end. However human, envy is certainly not one of the sources of discontent that a free society can eliminate. It is probably one of the essential conditions for the preservation of such a society that we do not countenance envy, not sanction its demands by camouflaging it as social justice, but treat it, in the words of John Stuart Mill, as “that most anti-social and odious of all passions.”
While most of the strictly egalitarian demands are based on nothing better than envy, we must recognize that much that on the surface appears as a demand for greater equality is in fact a demand for a juster distribution of the good things of this world and springs therefore from much more creditable motives. . . The proper answer is that in a free society it is neither desirable nor practicable that material rewards should be made generally to correspond to what men recognize as merit and that it is an essential characteristic of a free society that an individual’s position should not necessarily depend on the views that his fellows hold about the merit he has acquired.

The difficulty in making the point clear is due to the fact that the term “merit,” which is the only one available to describe what I mean, is also used in a wider and vaguer sense. It will be used here exclusively to describe the attributes of conduct that make it deserving of praise, that is, the moral character of the action and not the value of the achievement.
There is little a man can do to alter the fact that his special talents are very common or exceedingly rare. A good mind or personality are in a large measure as independent of a person’s efforts as the opportunities or the experiences he has had. In all these instances the value which a person’s capacities or services have for us and for which he is recompensed has little relation to anything that we can call moral merit or deserts. Our problem is whether it is desirable that people should enjoy advantages in proportion to the benefits which their fellows derive from their activities or whether the distribution of these advantages should be based on other men’s views of their merits.

In conclusion we must briefly look at another argument on which the demands for a more equal distribution are frequently based, though it is rarely explicitly stated. This is the contention that membership in a particular community or nation entitles the individual to a particular material standard that is determined by the general wealth of the group to which he belongs. This demand is in curious conflict with the desire to base distribution on personal merit. There is clearly no merit in being born into a particular community, and no argument of justice can be based on the accident of a particular individual’s being born in one place rather than another. In a wealthy community the only justification its members can have for insisting on further advantages is that there is much private wealth that the government can confiscate and redistribute and that men who constantly see such wealth being enjoyed by others will have a stronger desire for it than those who know of it only abstractly, if at all."
I leave it off there.  What Hayek wrote about was not what I or many people I know were raised to believe, even if it was the tradition of our culture for a long time, and it took a long time for me to accede to his logical force.  Nor, of course, did Hayek start on square one (nor was right about everything), but stood on the shoulders of those he quotes in his work. I give him credit for making very difficult and sometimes counter-intuitive arguments extremely cogently, without trying to overly popularize it. Call me cynical, but I seriously doubt most people who claim to have read his celebrated The Road to Serfdom have actually read it. It's just so dry. But his disappointment that his Constitution did not become as well known as The Road to Serfdom is a little laughable, as the latter was at least relatively short and largely unadorned with notes, and the latter dense and filled with them. Hence, my distillation. There is much more I would like to include, especially Hayek's explanation of what government is capable of doing that it should do, and what it cannot and should not do.  But, I think you have a few other things to do today.

Nor, of course, is Hayek the only writer to dwell on these topics and it might be a post some day to discuss his influence on modern thinkers, like with his friend, Karl Popper, his influence being much deeper than his own popular recognition. But, below, just because these are the things I spend my time reading and thinking about, are a few quotes from others on the same topic.
The second biological lesson history is that life is selection. . . Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character. Nature loves difference as the necessary material of selection and evolution; identical twins differ in a hundred ways, and no two peas are alike. - Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History.

Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. - Alexander de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.
Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen  of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. . . The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.  - Frederick Bastiat, The Law.

Each of these parties has its chief, and these chiefs are, or will be, rivals. Religion will be both the object and the pretext of some; liberty, of others; submission and obedience of others; and levelling, downright levelling, of not a few.  - John Adams, Discourses on Davila.
Last, from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution, with whom I must say, even more so than the others quoted, I often find myself in great disagreement, and scholars have a hell of a time deciding what to make of him. But, like the Devil, who may quote scripture for his purposes, so can I:

Believe me, Sir, those who attempt to level, never equalize. In all societies, consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levellers therefore only change and pervert the natural order of things; they load the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground. The associations of taylors and carpenters, of which the republic (of Paris, for instance) is composed, cannot be equal to the situation, into which, by the worst of usurpations, can usurpation on the prerogatives of nature, you attempt to force them.
None of any of the above is meant to suggest anything but that equal opportunity and equal rights under the law are of paramount importance, but the attempt to artificially eradicate the natural forces of capitalism, which includes that some will be better off than others, or to legislate the success of some to improve the economic lot of one or more groups -- even with the very best of intentions, will not only fail, but cause the society to fail.  Conservatism, so effective to combat the excesses of modern progressivism, is often fatally flawed by its holding on to a status quo or tradition of privilege beyond its cultural life for the comfort of some  (hence, Hayek's essay, Why I am not a Conservative at the end of The Constitution of Liberty). But as effective as liberalism has been in many pursuits to eradicate a rigid class and racial system and bring about more equality in the law in some regards (and it has succeeded in America in most of its goals) the extremes of its program utterly fail in its "fatal conceit" of economic planning and efforts to artificially level the playing field, making the law in fact less equal, with consequential economic disaster.


  1. So Obama is doing something beyond the scope of the position of the Presidency simply because you disagree with him and despite the lengthy precedent of Presidents imposing themselves in the economic policy of our country for, oh the entire history of Presidents (with the one possible exception of Washington who really tried to stay out of the Jefferson-Hamilton economic warfare). Paul Krugman wrote a great column recently about the increased virulence of the "anti-spending scolds" as they have been proved wrong once again. You almost sound like one of those really partisan guys, except you are anti-partisan so how does that work out for ya'? Or have you become one of those guys who thinks climate change is more a political issue rather than a scientific one (one of my tests for partisanship as opposed to a more neutral, reasoned point of view)? How you feelin' about the second amendment these days? I can almost see you on a porch wearing suspenders polishing your shotgun.

  2. Where is the guy who told me today he liked the post enough that he forwarded it to his mom? Can't comment just a little? I'll settle for a sycophant.

    I'll have to try to battle this beast all on my own?:

    "So Obama is doing something beyond the scope of the position of the Presidency simply because you disagree with him. . ."

    Silly argument I did not like the healthcare act or the stimulus act, but I would not call either overstepping his bounds as president to put them forth or to sign them (though I thought the ACA unconstitutional). But, when he makes appointments when congress is in session or starts a war without following the War Powers Act never mind the Constitution, then yes, absolutely, that is overstepping his bounds. What you are suggesting is that presidents have no limits. That way lies tyranny.

    ". . .and despite the lengthy precedent of Presidents imposing themselves in the economic policy of our country for, oh the entire history of Presidents (with the one possible exception of Washington who really tried to stay out of the Jefferson-Hamilton economic warfare)."

    Not really my argument, but, a number of presidents did not, unless you count signing bills. I know you know better. I've far exceeded 4,096 characters or I'd go into it more.

    "Paul Krugman wrote a great column recently about the increased virulence of the 'anti-spending scolds' as they have been proved wrong once again."

    I didn't read the column, though I saw it. But, I've read other of his columns and I know his position - the stimulus didn't work because we didn't spend enough. I disagree. Many economists out there who agree with me (or I with them, if you prefer).

    "You almost sound like one of those really partisan guys, except you are anti-partisan so how does that work out for ya'?"

    How many times must I explain to you the difference between ideological differences and partisanship? How do you explain, if that I agree with him on many foreign policy issues including, mostly anyway, Israel and on gay rights? Good try though.

    "Or have you become one of those guys who thinks climate change is more a political issue rather than a scientific one (one of my tests for partisanship as opposed to a more neutral, reasoned point of view)?"

    I've said many times, climate change is a political issue. Polls have shown it is precisely so. No one I personally know who has an opinion on it has any real idea about the scientific data. I have had one conversation with a climatologist who told me that (this is pretty much common knowledge if you look) that scientists have little more than models and speculation on man's contribution. So, yes, I remain agnostic on it, though I think those who believe it is manmade have the burden of persuasion and those who feel it is due to sunspots or something else, the burden on that.

    "How you feelin' about the second amendment these days? I can almost see you on a porch wearing suspenders polishing your shotgun."

    Feel the same about the 2d amendment as always have. There is simply a dearth of proof as to what was meant by the founders other than there is some kind of right and the Supreme Court showed us how partisan their decision was. Policy wise, I think people should be able to arm themselves, but I certainly agree with Justice Scalia and Pres. Obama that the fact of a right does not mean there are no limits to it, including to ""prohibit...the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill" and "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    Yes, I can see myself sitting on a porch too, but not in this weather and definitely not in overalls, which I think I last wore as a teenager, or polishing a gun. Thanks for giving me the opportunity today to pontificate even more.

  3. OK. A partial pox on both of you. A minor pox on David first. I have spent loads of time reading the raw data on the hoax (yes Bear, hoax) of CAGW. If you'd like to chat about Pacific decadal oscillation, el nino, la nina effect, heaat islands around weather stations and their cumulative effect, as well as feedback loops and their effect on arctic vs antarctic sea ice extent I'd be happy too. But you are right in that it is political. And only leftists...again looking at you Bear....still try to call climate prediction "science". There has never been a more shamanistic religion than CAGW adherents. They are like all the false predictions of the end of the's definitely going to happen on (insert date). And then it doesn't happen so the same acolytes say that there prediction is still correct but they figured the day wrong and the new day is...blah blah blah. It's really just like the Mayan Apocalypse nuts..oh the world didn't end on 12-21-12. Well see the Mayans were really right but we didn't have leap years and the calendar changed so mayby it will happen in April of 2013. The global warmists have been making detailed predictions and they have been wrong wrong wrong. How many times do you want to keep buying into it.
    And anyone who doesn't realize by now that Krugman is a fool. His basic idea; discredited throughout history (and I think as well in this post)is that debts does not matter and spending should be exponentially increased to improve the economy. Because after all, we ll know so many people who got out of poverty by doubling and tripling their expenditures. Ya right. Of course he will keep saying (ill educated fool that he is) that debt doesn't matter. It's like the fool of a structural engineer who keeps saying the faulty bridge is fine because cars and people keep passing over it. That fool is right too,,,,right up to the point when the bridge collapses. It doesn't give way over months and falls down- BOOM. Just like the debt. It's no problem until it crashes down suddenly. If Kruman's ideas are so great why not deposit 100 billion dollars in everyone's bank account? That will make everyone rich and the economy will go gang busters. And the Krugman school had that great idea about the
    trillion dollar coin. If that's such a good idea why dodn't we mint 16 of them and wipe out the debt completely. And actually how about 100 of them and therby cover all the unfunded liabilities totalling 100 trillion. Apparently only Bear and Krugman think that's a good idea.

    And as to a small portion of the 2nd amendment comments; there has never been a dumber idea (even dumber than CAGW) than the idea that keeping people from taking guns into "sensitive" (WTF does that mean) areas. I have a great application for that theory if its so good. Let's remove the guns from security personnel guarding all politicians (including the President)and just declare the areas around them "Gun Free Zones". They will be much safer that way don't you agree??

  4. That's more like it. Wait, a pox on my house too? Which part?

    If it's on global warming, I wrote one paragraph and I don't see how the three points I made are debatable. There is no doubt that opinions on global warming (and man's contribution) are linked to political viewpoints even if you are sure yours aren't. There is no doubt that most people cannot read or understand the scientific data (and whereas there is value to reading lay material, it is not the same thing). And, last, there is no doubt that modeling and speculation are rampant in the field. I have not stated all my opinions on it in one paragraph, but what do you disagree with on what I wrote, if anything?

    If on guns, which of my 3 points do you disagree with? That the amendment is vaguely written? Even Scalia had to do an historical analysis, which he would not have if the text was plain. That the better policy is to allow people to arm themselves? I know you don't disagree with that. Or last, that like Scalia and all who signed on with him (and the president), there are limits to the right. If there aren't, you have difficulty arguing that there can be limits to any of the bill of rights. So, no slander laws, no barring screaming fire in a crowded theatre or drowing out a judge in court. A cop can't tackle a man fleeing from a murder with a smoking gun. That can't be it. I know you like the Privileges and Immunities argument, but only Thomas agrees with you. Doesn't mean you are wrong, but hard to argue it is obvious.

    Am I missing something? Why put a pox on my house (no problem putting a pox on his, of course)?

    But, thanks for the passionate comment and especially leaping into the fray against the Bear.

    1. I know I have no hope of getting either of you to agree with my economic viewpoint. All I can do is laugh when it works. One thing though Don, comparing personal money management to government economic policy is fellatious from the outset. You can't do apples to oranges when it's convenient, and apples to apples when it's not. As for climate change, I'm only arguing that while many have seized it as a political issue it is not. It is a scientific development and while there is much debate about cause there is almost no more argument about the reality. Amongst scientists, that is. And I can go toe to toe with anyone on the science, though I don't have an advanced degree so I can't argue the calculus. It is also my belief that partisans like "anti-spending scolds" and "climate change is a myth because that belief suits my politics" cannot be convinced of anything. While our polar caps melt, sea level rises, and species go extinct at never before seen rates, you wlll remain in denial. It's okay. And Don, I'm on your side in regard to the gun issue, it's the bizarre way some folks read the 2nd amendment that amuses me. I agree with you that gun bans and gun control are generally ridiculous and mostly work in criminal's favor. I do think that access to high powered fully automatic weaponry ought to be limited more than it currently is though. Now, have your fun with me. I'm your daisy.

  5. "I'm your daisy." Now how is he supposed to come back when you quoted from one of his favorite movies (mine and yours too - we do have some things in common)?

    But, go ahead, Don. I'd like to read it.

    As for Bear, would you accept a statement from Don such as "It is also my belief that partisans like 'spending scolds' and 'climate change is a fact because that belief suits my politics' cannot be convinced of anything." It seems you almost agree with me -- you agree that belief in climate change is political - only you feel it is only people who don't agree with you who are like that. I'm sure you know, they feel the same about you. I feel that way about all of you. As to your claim about there being no issue among scientists, you just have to google to find that there are those who don't. Besides, it can be answered with two words - the ether.

    I don't know precisely what Don's position on guns is, but it sounds like you and I mostly agree. Don will probably point out that the debate is about so-called assault weapons, the definition of which can vary, not automatics, a weapon that sprays multiple bullets with one pull of the trigger, in particular.

  6. Oh, wait, one more thing. Bear, you really have to watch the way you spell fallacious. Think about it.

  7. I knew I'd get a response from Bear!! Just today a Japanese syudy came out that has analyzed the data on global temperatures and came to the conclusion that the trend in warming has stopped. And it stopped some time ago. I would not argue with a thermometer, However, those pushing global warming (climate change..whatever) have made strong and calamitous predictions...and thus far they are wrong. It should just be a scientific observation but it is not; there is definitely a political component. But from what I see ( and I'm open to having examples of the other side doing this)those tubthumping the warming issue want to respond to it by limiting the freedom of individuals and confiscating money to give to the government. It isn't about global warming; it is about expanding the state and limiting the individual. That seems to be a recurring theme from the left. And also, may of those promoting CAGW don't really ACT like its a catastrophe in the making. They only want you and I to act (and be treated like) it's a catastrophe. It's really similar to the gun control debate; ( and I thought you and I basically agreed on that one from previous comments- thanks for clarifying)there are thos ewho want to decide for you and I that there are guns that are too dangerous for us to have. I think I'm the oerson best suited to make that decision. If you decide having an AR-15 is good for you and I decide a FN PS90 is good for me and David is happy with a 7mm pistol- we should all be left to out choices. Of course, assuming we are not using said firearms to rob banks. And I think you'd have to admit that the anti gun types (and they do seem to be mostly left leaning)have really lived up to every stereotype of gun ignorance that gun enthusiasts have imagined. Supposedly knowledgable commentators speaking of "high capacity ammunition" and "fully automatic semi-automatics". If I hear one more commentator stating "Why does someone need a SEMI-AUTOMATIC AR-15?" (usually in a tone or moral disapproval). They are just ignorant. To me it sounds as silly as someone speaking of pick up trucks and saying, "Why would someone need a GASOLINE POWERED F150??" In fact, you never hear it mentioned when someone is hit by a car that it was "gasoline powered"...but whern someone is shot it was by a "semi-automatic" gun.
    As to government versus individual financing I only see a difference in one regard (and it's the one I assume you are referring)and that is that the government can print money. But the printing of money debases its value on a continual basis. And at an unkown tipping point it will crash into bankruptcy (Zimbabwe anyone?)Otherwise why isn't my idea of the government giving everyone several billion dollars sound economic policy? The government gives itself billions of dollars..why is there a difference??

    And david you are right that the whole "assault weapon" thing drives me batty. First of all any gun NOT capable of assault is broken or a toy gun. Further it does seem that the term has been applied for purely artificial reasons to guns that liberaal women think look "scary". the worst part is that those who are trying to ban them are doing so for purely cosmetic reasons. They see a rifle with a pistol grip or barrel shroud and say its "military style" Yeah...and if I throw a couple decals on my car its NASCAR style". And now that I think about it wouldn't prely cosmetic acoutrements on a gun be speec and therfore covered not only by the 2nd amendment but the first as well?????

  8. Odd, no comment by Don on Bear's provocative use of a Tombstone quote from one of Don's favorite film characters. But, let me summarize as best I can based on what I read above, understanding that everyone may have nuances that haven't expressed:

    Global warming: Bear believes in global warming and it is man-made. Don believes not only not man-made, but there is no global warming. Both of them believe the other side is driven by politics but that science of it is understandable to them and clearly supports their position. David is agnostic on global warming, and if it exists, whether man contributes to it. The science of it is not clear to him, and he believes both sides driven by politics, there being evidence insufficient to form an opinion, but burden on those asserting one.

    Guns: Don believes in no gun control (position not stated on sensitive places) and strong on 2d amt. right to bear/keep arms. Bear believes in some gun control on high powered weaponry but most gun control helps bad guys (position not stated on sensitive places, but my guess is it's okay with him to ban non-security personnel guns in places like banks) and appears, best I can tell, to think 2d amt. does not contain individual right to bear/keep guns. David believes 2d amt. unclear as to meaning, believes in some gun control on high powered weaponry and some sensitive places but also agrees most gun control helps bad guys.

    Spending: Bear believes Paul Krugman correct and more debt would be beneficial. David believes Krugman wrong and more debt would be disastrous. Don believes Krugman is Coo Coo for Coco Puffs and more gov't debt would be disastrous.

    I will make only one more comment to bait the Bear, by quoting one of his favorite political philosphers, Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to James Monroe: "We are ruined, Sir, if we do not over-rule the principles that 'the more we owe, the more prosperous we shall be,' 'that a public debt furnishes the means of enterprise.'"

    After all my bashing of TJ's character, you might be surprised by the quote, but like me, he was a believer in enlightenment values. More on him coming one day in the foreseeable future.

    1. As Don clarified his thoughts, we agree more than we disagree. David- one mistake in your summary - I do not agree that the climate change is "warming", the same misinterpretation of my position that Don makes, nor do I agree that it is entirely man made. Other than that, we are in sync. Overall, the scorecard is: economics - we completely disagree climate change - we agree that many groups seize it as a political issue, we disagree as to whether it is a real scientific event - guns - we actually all pretty much agree. For the three of us, 33% agreement is pretty good.

  9. Well Bear's Tombstone quote put me in an untenable position. He was quoting Doc Holiday. I would have been forced to quote a drunk Johnny Ringo screaming that they should "play for blood" before being unceremoniously whisked away by Curly Bill. Bear aleady had the high ground on that one. didn't comment on my theory that there may be a speech component to adorning firearms with non fuctional items. Any thoughts.
    And, what did you mean by limiting "high powered" weaponry? What are being called assault weapons are anything but high powered. They generally shoot either 5.65 ammo or .223 ammo. Both are low to intermediate power. ( A .223 is basically an elongated .22 rifle cartridge)In fact, they are so low powered that some states do not allow those rounds to be used to hunt deer. Even the military- who does define an assault rifle- states that it is a select fire (meaning FULLY AUTOMATIC) with an intermediate power cartdridge. Traditionally high powered rifles (30-06 .308) are traditional hunting rifles in use since the 19th century. So are tose the high powered firearms you are open to lomiting???

  10. I thought we were done here, but good questions. First question, no, I don't agree about a first amendment issue if there is a an otherwise lawful law/regulation (we don't know what they may be, so I have to be general). It would be a different story if the design was outlawed without some rational connection to preventing something the government has an interest in and no other avenue existed to meaningfully express the same viewpoint. That would be hard to show in most cases where they can argue public safety (whether anyone disagrees in their wisdom or not). E.g., you could not successfully say I do not want a guard on my lathe b/c it violates my freedom of expression or burning my draft card is my expression or I want to express my faith in Agni by lighting tires on fire in the park. You could certainly argue that there are grey areas where protection is afforded but that is usually because the gov't interest is not deemed strong enough. This is only a comment and there is only so much I can say.

    As to what I think are high powered weapons doesn't matter that much. I'm the last person who is a gun expert. I only know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic b/c you taught me. What I mean is that I believe that Heller/McDonald deliberately leave plenty of room for regulation of the place guns are brought, the power of the weapon (number of bullets; automatic v. semi-auto v, etc.; caliber,and so on, for example), the visibility of the weapon in public and who may be restricted. Obviously there is a level I and I think most Americans would say - that's just preposterous, like if they wanted to ban handguns that fired more than 6 bullets. You, I and Bear and everyone else may differ on when the regs go too far, but, that is true of almost every issue. The law must be constitutional (including rational), not necessarily wise in anyone's view.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .