Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Odds and ends 11/10/2015

This is my 502nd and final post. As my less frequent posting shows, I don’t have the desire to continue writing for this blog anymore. It’s been an experience. Thank you for reading.

If you’re reading this blog for the first time, I encourage you to review the archives.

Eighty-three percent of Texans voted for Prop 7. Like I said, we rubber-stamp our constitutional amendments in Texas. But it wasn’t all bad news on the off-off-year election:

Don’t get optimistic. Setbacks at the ballot box are nothing that a few federal courts and an aggressive leveling zeitgeist can’t overcome.

James Arlandson has mature thoughts about the law:

Several years ago, my city installed cameras at various intersections, and I got caught three times. After paying the fines of $500.00 each, my driving “miraculously” improved. The penalty imposed by the law taught me virtuous driving and restrained my carelessness.

You too have experienced the law as teacher that fosters virtue and as restrainer that checks your vices.

But what happens when we don’t allow the law to teach us or restrain us? What if we instead jettison it because it “cramps our style”—usually our sexual misconduct and drug use and other vices?

We don’t need to talk in detail about the troubles caused by lifting restrictions on abortion, which fosters more abortions, or no-fault divorce, which paves the path toward the breakdown of the family. And will states legalize a bad drug—marijuana?

Will we lower standards or submit to just laws we don’t like? The law legislates morality, but maybe we’re not listening.

Here’s more background on Daraprim, courtesy of Ben Swann:

Make no mistake; what Shkreli is describing here is not capitalism. Capitalism means that if the price of Daraprim is too high, three other pharmaceutical companies can make their own version tomorrow and the market would set the price based on supply and demand.

The demand for Daraprim isn’t very high. Only a small group of people use it. But the real story here is the supply, one that is controlled by a relationship between pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Let me explain how that happened with Daraprim.

Before Shkreil’s company bought the rights to Daraprim, Shkreil made sure wholesale market was starved of the drug, so that when Turing Pharmaceuticals completed its purchase of the rights there were no extra pills floating around.

Next, he set up an exclusive distribution network to block competitors from obtaining enough Daraprim to conduct clinical trials for the FDA.

With potential competitors blocked, and his monopoly enforced by the FDA, this set him up to gouge consumers.

Right now, even if another company had exactly the same drug, it would take at least three to four years to get FDA approval. During that time, Turing can charge whatever they want for their drug.

You should read what Stella Morabito writes. She perceives where social liberalism is headed. She considers a “singles activist’s” marriage abolitionism:

The arguments I make for marriage and family are straightforward, even plain. Central planners have always understood that when you legally isolate people, you can better control them. Take away the sanctuaries of marriage and family, and you take away everybody’s privacy and autonomy. The state zooms into that vacuum.

Now, I do understand that DePaulo is deeply invested in her quest to abolish marriage in the guise of singles’ rights. So I imagine that’s why she did not respond to my central argument that it is bad for the state to completely disregard family bonds, and thereby legally isolate each and every individual, single and married alike, from the autonomous sanctuary of families.

Instead, DePaulo sums up her response to me in a very strange way: by claiming I am “afraid” of single people. Whenever a critic has to resort to an ad hominem fallacy—especially such a ridiculously offbeat one—well, you know you’re definitely on to something. At first, I thought it was kind of funny, even if outlandish. I mean, telling someone they’re “afraid of single people” is like telling them they’re afraid of people with arms or people who walk. It’s an eye-roller, a silly charge to respond to.

Nevertheless, it’s always disturbing to see someone project emotions onto the messenger of an intellectual argument rather than just answer the points. And who exactly are these “single people” of DePaulo’s imagination? I see us all as unique human beings, diverse in our perspectives. She sees “single people” as ... what? A monolithic political bloc, perhaps.

DePaulo’s apparent claim to speak for an entire demographic is another red flag. Recall, for example, how Lenin said he spoke for the proletariat, as their vanguard. Mao spoke for the peasantry, as their vanguard. And so on. Once you’ve wrapped yourself in the mantle of “the people” or “singles” or whomever, it is far too easy to lapse into accusing those who oppose your agenda of being against “the workers” or “the people” or “single people” or whomever. It is, in essence, a smear tactic that enables its users to avoid engaging with real arguments. And we all know it happens on every level: in middle school cafeterias, in homeowner’s associations, in office politics, in faculty lounges, in Politburos.

But the bottom line is that singles’ activists are poised to be handed the “marriage equality” baton by LGBT activists so they can use it to fight for “unmarried equality.” In the end, this basically means keeping singles single and making marrieds single, too.

Too many Americans seem hypnotized by the slogan that abolishing civil marriage will “get the state out of the marriage business.” No. It sure as heck won’t. Have you ever heard anyone who makes this claim explain exactly how it gets the state “out”? I haven’t, and I’ve concluded that’s because it does no such thing. Rather, by abolishing marriage, you simply give the state permission to refuse to recognize your marriage, and its attendant rights and responsibilities. This refusal inevitably extends to the rest of family relationships, including parent-child.

Thus, the effort to abolish marriage is intimately connected to the ongoing radical redefinition of family. All of this is about—whether consciously and willfully, or not—abolishing family autonomy, abolishing privacy, and, by logical extension, abolishing all personal relationships based on mutual trust. If there is no legally protected autonomy in the family, how can it exist in any other personal relationship? It can’t. By abolishing marriage, we all become strangers to one another in the eyes of the state. Statists have always salivated at the prospect of regulating all of our personal relationships, all of our social interactions. This is not good.

Glenn T. Stanton chews up and spits out narcissist ordinance language:

The terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are terribly subjective. They mean very different things to reasonable people, and find no common definition even within the LGBT community. Consequential public policy demands more precision. If we don’t know what these terms mean, nobody can know if he is violating the law or not until hauled into court, and even then various judges are likely to disagree.

So, what does “sexual orientation” actually include and exclude? How is one’s “gender identity” determined and legally ascertained? Neither of these are objective, measurable personal characteristics like race, sex, color, ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, etc., but they are assumed as such in laws like this. Great trouble arises when we assume we are all talking about the same thing here but in fact are not. Let’s see how this is precisely case we have today.

Gender theorists confidently explain what gender is with this clever ditty: “Sex is what’s between your legs. Gender is what’s between your ears.” I think, therefore I am. He’s a man purely because he understands himself as such, regardless of what his original physical factory settings may indicate. She is a woman for the very same reasons. And no one can say otherwise. Does a better example of subjectivity exist? But this understanding is far from settled among leading scholars.

Identity, whatever it is, forged into an incontrovertible legal “right,” is narcissism and nihilism.

The bearded Marxist is more likely a fascist, that is, a “practical” socialist:

In an unguarded moment Coons put the real face on anti-patent reform legislation when he described patents as a “government granted monopoly” and argued that government needed to give people the right to “enforce those monopolies.”

In other words, per Coons, they’re a way for the government to pick winners and losers.

Same shit, different day in the “free market.” The usually cynical ZeroHedge sounds exasperated:

Surprise! A central banker promises moar of the same... and once again the goldfish-like-memory of market particpants forgets that this has all been priced in a thousand times and buys his bullshit. EUR dumped 150 pips to a 1.11 handle, 2Y German notes tumbled 6bps to -32bps, European and US stocks are surging (as USDJPY rises) and US Treasuries have reversed early gains amid equity gains.

There are no surprises under corporatism, only manufactured demand to keep the fattest cats producing the popularized, dilapidated innovations of yesteryear.

There’s a supply-side lesson here in the revamped 48 Minutes of Hell, my second-favorite Spurs blog:

Believe it or not, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about our audience. Partly this is because I’m still a little astounded anyone is the least bit interested in reading our writing, but mostly it’s because I don’t believe we will survive if we aren’t providing value to our audience. I’ve always been proud of what we’ve published, but recently I’ve questioned the amount of value we’re providing. This isn’t a question of quality. The matter at hand is scarcity.

If a commodity exists in infinite supply, it is rendered valueless. This is economics 101. Scarcity is what creates value. And content is the least scarce commodity in existence. If our goal at 48 Minutes of Hell is to provide value to our readers, then we face a very particular challenge: We must become alchemists, transforming a valueless commodity into a valuable one.

Actually, I don’t think the inventiveness of suppliers, which is the gestation of wealth creation, makes it into Econ 101 classes. Econ 101 is mostly analysis of static supply and demand curves.

Rod Dreher quotes a Daniel Gordis piece on Arab nationalism in Israel, then comments:

Gordis writes in sadness, as if having to face the resilience of Palestinian irredentism falsifies a cherished belief. Which, of course, it does: there can never be peace if Arabs believe that Jews have no right under any circumstance to be on the land.

I think there’s a lesson in this for all of us in the West, whatever we think of the Israel vs. Palestine divide. We love to think that the modernity — liberty, equality, capitalism and the material comfort it generates — erodes instincts we find atavistic. Why would you want to carry on a tribal dispute about land when you could live in peace and we could all get rich together, and be happy? The answer, it would appear, is that to the non-Western culture of the Middle East, the greatest poverty is the dishonor of acquiescing in your defeat.

Admitting fault gets you nowhere with your enemies.

The preaching minister at church quoted Arthur Brooks in his sermon a few Sundays ago:

This search for fame, the lust for material things and the objectification of others — that is, the cycle of grasping and craving — follows a formula that is elegant, simple and deadly:

Love things, use people.

This was Abd al-Rahman’s formula as he sleepwalked through life. It is the worldly snake oil peddled by the culture makers from Hollywood to Madison Avenue. But you know in your heart that it is morally disordered and a likely road to misery. You want to be free of the sticky cravings of unhappiness and find a formula for happiness instead. How? Simply invert the deadly formula and render it virtuous:

Love people, use things.

Sally Zelikovsky rages about the Republican establishment:

The base doesn’t care if Republicans get along with Democrat counterparts or reach across the aisle to work with political enemies. The base does care that conciliation with present-day Democrats is a one-way street and they never hesitate to stab Republicans in the back while patting them at the same time.

We are at an inflection point battling for this country’s cultural, economic and geo-political survival. Seeking common ground and compromise cannot be effective when our negotiating partners are control freaks who have mastered the art of demagoguery.


Thomas Sowell makes an excellent point re: gun control:

Beginning in 1911, New York had stronger restrictions on gun ownership than London had—and New York still had murder rates that were a multiple of murder rates in London. It was not the laws that made the difference in murder rates. It was the people. That is also true within the United States. (bold mine)

That’s what I said!

Liberals’ gun control obsession papers over the killer’s aspect that is really behind murder, writes Michael Bargo, Jr. at the American Thinker:

The refusal to acknowledge the fact that it is an unfortunate fact of human nature that some people will always choose to kill others, by whatever means available, is what drives the denial of murder. This tendency of people to kill each other is repeatedly denied, yet progressives are never reluctant to affirm that human nature will always lead people to discriminate against people of color, that corporate executives will always be greedy, that Wall St. hedge fund managers will cheat the tax system as much as possible, and so on.

That some people refuse to heed the better angels of their nature only applies to gun ownership. And as a side note there is irrefutable evidence that banning guns not only does not prevent gun murders but the opposite is true; that banning handguns promotes handgun murder. When Chicago banned handgun ownership for 25 years the murder rate increased by 44%. This is based on information from the FBI and the Chicago Police, who are in a better position to know the facts than some progressive who wants to run for President—while having armed bodyguards.

Hillary Clinton and her ilk only accept bad behavior when it’s to their political advantage. They refuse to accept that violent people can only be stopped with guns, yet they have passed hundreds of community-based programs to fight against poverty, joblessness, and the lack of available birth control. They have no trouble or hesitation assuming that people do bad things with regard to racial profiling, bullying, or the use of politically incorrect language; yet with regard to shooting innocent people they are in denial that they only way for decent citizens to protect themselves is to own a gun. They do not propose community based programs for security guards and employees in schools carry guns as a solution.

Another issue is that by focusing on gun control they make the silly impression that the people who commit mass murders were not violating any other laws. The person who shot the victims in Oregon committed dozens of other crimes, and the fact that these other crimes, such as discharge of a weapon in a public no-gun zone, bringing a loaded weapon into a no-gun zone, assault with a deadly weapon, intent to kill, and murder are already serious crimes doesn’t matter. It’s not the major issue. Only the fact that the murders were done with a gun is the issue.

I’m on the third book of C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, and so far the third book impresses me in how it sets up the clash of scientific humanism/progressivism and the social, soulful man of reality. But first here’s a passage from Perelandra, the second book, that struck me as very well written:

The thing had seemed a sheer impossibility: he had not thought but known that, being what he was, he was psychologically incapable of doing it; and then, without any apparent movement of the will, as objective and unemotional as the reading on a disk, there had arisen before him, with perfect certitude, the knowledge “another this time tomorrow you will have done the impossible.” The same thing happened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his arguments, were not altered in the least. The thing was neither more nor less dreadful than it had been before. The only difference was that he knew—almost as a historical proposition—that it was going to be done. He might beg, weep, or rebel—might curse or adore—sing like a martyr or blaspheme like a devil. It made not the slightest difference. The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unalterable as if he had already performed it.

Now for some pretentious progressive talk from That Hideous Strength:

The real thing is that this time we’re going to get science applied to social problems and backed by the whole force of the state, just as war has been backed by the whole force of the state in the past. One hopes, of course, that it’ll find out more than the old free-lance science did; but what’s certain is that it can do more.


Humanity is at the cross-roads. But it is the main question at the moment: which side one’s on—obscurantism or Order. It does really look as if we now had the power to dig ourselves in as a species for a pretty staggering period, to take control of our own destiny. If Science is really given a free hand it can now take over the human race and re-condition it: make man a really efficient animal.


In us organic life has produced Mind. It has done its work. After that we want no more of it. We do not want the world any longer furred over with organic life, like what you call the blue mould—all sprouting and budding and breeding and decaying. We must get rid of it. By little and little, of course. Slowly we learn how. Learn to make our brains live with less and less body: learn to build our bodies directly with chemicals, no longer have to stuff them full of dead brutes and weeds. Learn how to reproduce ourselves without copulation.

Lewis really nails the religious nature of the totalitarian technocracy these progressives try to usher in. There’s even talk of the “New Man,” which the Communists spoke of. What these people want is to destroy nature and nature’s God and remake man in their image of what man should be. It’s quite Nietzschean, as you can see:

You know as well as I do that Man’s power over Nature means the power of some men over other men with Nature as the instrument. There is no such thing as Man—it is a word. There are only men. No! It is not Man who will be omnipotent, it is some one man, some immortal man.

Here’s some more nuggets from George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty:

“Capital,” as the Austrian school of economists tells us, “is time”—the delay in consumption entailed by extended modes of production. In poor communities, it might be said, all time is present time, and capital—in its human form of work effort combined with education and savings—does not adequately accumulate to provide income and wealth. But a more fundamental day of defining the stagnant lower class is by its lack of family structure. The men’s links to children and future are too often insufficient to induce work and thrift.


It was firm links between work, wealth, sex, and children that eventually created a future-oriented psychology in the mass of Western European men. [E. A.] Wrigley concludes: “So often said to be the result of industrialization and urban living,” the nuclear family, in fact, “preceded it by centuries” and facilitated the long-term development of the highly motivated industrial bourgeoisie and workforce.


Faith in man, faith in the future, faith in the rising returns of giving, faith in the mutual benefits of trade, faith in the providence of God—these are all essential to successful capitalism. All are necessary to sustain the spirit of work and enterprise against the setbacks and frustrations it inevitably meets in a fallen world; to inspire trust and cooperation in an economy where these very faiths will often be betrayed; to encourage the forgoing of present pleasures in the name of a future that may well go up in smoke; to promote risk and initiative in a world where the rewards all vanish unless others join the game. In order to give without the assurance of return, in order to save without the certainty of future value, in order to work beyond the requirements of the job, one has to have confidence in a higher morality: a law of compensations beyond the immediate and distracting struggles of existence.


At any time in the history of a reasonably mature economy, the largest businesses will tend to be the most efficient. That’s how they became large. They benefit from economies of scale and specialization. But only someone viewing the economy as a system of statistical quantities could imagine that size is the crucial fact about successful companies.


These firms have found such efficient ways to make their product that few competitors can arise. Invariably they dominate their fields, which tend to be old markets for relatively routine products. Their great efficiency derives from many years of making the same thing and incrementally improving it and perfecting the means of producing and selling it.

Such companies have become highly rigid and specialized, and in static terms, greatly productive. Many of them are now experiencing a new lease on life in the international realm. But from the point of view of overall economic growth and technological innovation, these leviathans are of little importance to the economy. They are efficient now only because they were dynamically inefficient and competitively aggressive during their earlier phases.


The prophets of a transition to socialism almost always seek the future by peering resolutely at the obsolescent. Just as Marx focused on industrial conditions that were already passing away at the time he wrote, the contemporary scholars focus on processes of production and organization that are rapidly undergoing change.


Money is far more immediately decisive in the lives of men than of women, and women often fail to understand what is at stake among men at work. The man’s earnings, unlike the woman’s, will determine not only his standard of living but also his possibilities for marriage and children—whether he can be a sexual man. The man’s work thus finds its deepest source in love.

Women are valued for their intrinsic worth far more than men. Men, most fundamentally, are measured by their performance of the role of provider and if they fail in it, there are few easy appeals to other criteria of success. But in accord with the crucial properties of capitalism, only other criteria are explicitly applied. She leaves him because “he drinks too much” or “we grew apart” rather than because he earns too little. He leaves her because of “incompatibility” rather than because her job is better than his and destroys his male role or because he has become rich and fantasizes he can recover his youth by remarriage to a younger woman.


Integration and equal opportunity are inherently conflicting goals. There may have been more commingling of the races in Southern slave society and more association of different classes in medieval feudal England than there is in contemporary America.

When social status is settled or largely beyond challenge, rich and poor can live in close proximity without tension. But when men have comparable opportunities to achieve wealth, people tend to associate with their own economic class.


Because welfare clients receive their apartments free and value them commensurately, and because ghetto streets are full of fatherless youths, welfare housing is invariably “bad housing.” Decent housing is an effect of middle-class values, not a cause. The housing of the poor can only be made “decent” be selling it to the non-poor—that is, by the process disdainfully known in the halls of HUD as “gentrification.”


What prevails in the United States and in every other county—and notably prevails within the liberal and bureaucratic intelligentsia from the moment they have children—is the desire for economically homogenous communities, where there is no fear of being robbed, mugged, or balefully resented.


The influences that the egalitarian would vitiate—home, family, church, and ethnic community—are, in fact, the only influences that work. The day care centers, schools, and poverty programs that might replace them are mostly ineffective in promoting upward mobility. The egalitarian program is capable of destroying families and communities, taxing away the earnings of the successful, and penalizing ambition and productivity, but it is not capable of fostering upward mobility among the groups that lack strong community and familial cultures. It is no novelty, though, to discover that levelers can lend upward mobility only to the administrators of the leveling bureaucracy.

To justify these futilities, a truly perverse hypocrisy—a tribute of virtue to vice—is arising. While the usual hypocrisy consists of the insincere profession of unfulfilled ideals, the hypocrisy of secular socialism entails the insincere attribution of evils.

Here’s some Scripture to leave you with:

Do not let me have evil desires, or participate in sinful activities with men who behave wickedly. I will not eat their delicacies. (Psalms 141:4)

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

And some words from the master, whose Harvard commencement address inspired the name of this blog:

Saturday, November 7, 2015


In the day’s doldrums, my mind wanders
Discipline breaks down and I lose grip of
The anchor without which my ship founders

The current carries me, tired, listless
A sweet voice from the sea’s dark depths
Whispers the Siren’s call, relentless:

“No one is watching
No one can see
Wouldn’t it be nice
To come stay with me?”

Ignore the voice I try, and I fail
Just hear him out, I think. What’s the harm?
Thoughts are thoughts, not actions to curtail

“They won’t find out
It’ll be our secret
It’s cozy down here
All your worries forget”

To regard mutiny, I’m all ears
My ship, my anchor, I’ve relinquished
So hasty to sin entrust my fears

My will is weak, I shouldn’t fight
A battle I know I cannot win
Better to surrender to this might

An ally I have, ashamed to call
What would He think of meek, helpless me?
Unworthy of Him, I’d rather fall

Bidden thus, He appears, in power
Roaring, takes my place in my deathbed
Making to Him the Siren cower

My ears unstopped, I hear hymns of grace
The anchor, I cheer, draws me in tight
I’m rescued, reeled in from death’s embrace

A debt I owe but can never pay
I have done nothing to deserve this
But my life He gives me anyway

Monday, November 2, 2015

Sanctuary City, USA


Senate Democrats voted to prevent debate on a bill to rein in sanctuary cities that shield illegal-alien criminals from deportation. The final tally was 54-45, short of the 60 votes needed just to proceed to debate on the bill. Manchin and Donnelly were the only Democrats to vote for it, Kirk the only Republican to vote against. (Graham didn’t vote.)

So when Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez, the most strident anti-borders voice in the House, called the murder of Kate Steinle in the sanctuary city of San Francisco “a little thing,” he seems to have been speaking for his party. The only question now is whether Republicans will even try to make this a campaign issue. Cruz probably will, since he took to the Senate floor before the vote to urge its passage, but it will take more than that. Will party leaders go on the Sunday talk shows this weekend and denounce Democrats for protecting criminals? Will Jeb Bush hammer the issue on the campaign trail? Not likely.

And people wonder why Trump is so popular.

He’s popular because people have stopped caring. When you consistently lose politically on every issue, and as the Left’s radical transformation seeps into society’s marrow, you figure less on trying to win the game as the enemy has mastered it than on blowing everything to pieces.

Paul wrote in Romans 13 that those in authority are servants for our good. I increasingly believe, in our case, they are bellwethers of our godlessness and ignorance, like King Saul.

More lawlessness, here in San Antonio:

San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus says his officers are entirely focused on enforcing criminal laws, and are not interested in enforcing federal immigration laws, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

“Under no circumstances are we going to deal with federal immigration matters in this department,” McManus said.

McManus spoke to a packed City Council work session on the issue of ‘Sanctuary Cities,’ and whether San Antonio officials should cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers.

“We do not care what your immigration status is,” McManus said. “If you break the law, we will arrest you. It doesn’t matter what your status is, you will be treated the same.”

How many laws do illegals break when they get a job or apply for a credit card? Do citizens get a pass, too, when they defraud Social Security? Apparently some laws are more equal than others.

The argument goes illegals won’t report crimes if they fear deportation. These are “the shadows” they live in, and we are supposed to empathize. American police want to contain and dismember street gangs, so they turn a blind eye to “immigration status” so they can protect them from crime they invite upon themselves by their illegal residence.

If there wasn’t an illegal population to disguise themselves in, the gangs wouldn’t be here in the first place. If living in the shadows is their only incentive to leave 2015 America, then McManus’s policy ensures the illegal population and the crime it tacitly supports will stay.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Prop 7

Another year, another slate of constitutional amendments for Texans to rubber-stamp. There are seven amendments on the ballot Tuesday, but one of them is really important. That’s Proposition 7, dedicating sales tax revenue to highway construction.

The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.

This is being sold as a painless way to ease congestion, when it really crowds out other priorities in the budget and worsens suburban sprawl. As in road-bloated Virginia, real estate developers, the Chamber of Commerce, the economic establishment, et al. love this spending plan. They get predictable, government-subsidized demand and corpulent economies of scale while blaming teachers unions in 10 years when they ask for a tax hike because there’s no other way to keep schools open.

We’ve been down this road before. Last year 80 percent of Texans voted to raid the Rainy Day Fund to throw $1.7 billion a year at TxDOT, either ignoring or just plain ignorant of the amendment’s boosters promising it was only a “first step” to getting the $5 billion a year they want. Here they are with step two, in the form of Prop 7.

There’s a perfectly reasonable way to fund roads. It’s called the gas tax. It’s the most sensible way to fund roads by the people who use them, and it hasn’t been raised since the ’90s. Prop 7’s fans are fond of pointing this latter fact out, but they don’t explain why the gas tax hasn’t been scaled to inflation or otherwise raised. The answer is it’s harder to raise money to pay for something than it is to take from other budget categories, like education.

Vote no on Prop 7.

Further reading: “Will Texas Voters Enshrine Failed Transpo Policy in the State’s Constitution?” by Angie Schmitt.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Life isn’t done with you

I’m convinced the most selfish thing you can do is end your life when life isn’t done with you. There is no standard “autonomy” of self that permits us to give up the treasure and the opportunity of life, to reject the gift of life God breathed into us. You might as well wish you’d never been born. A bitter and grieving George Bailey wished for that in It’s a Wonderful Life, excusable in the throes of personal ruin. But what if someone who is happy and successful wishes to die? Can anything be shown to him of the beauties of life that can change his mind? And how is intentional death any less destructive than the mentally ill person destroying God’s creation by mutilating his body to reach some twisted ideal borne from the mind?

This is a sad article by Ezekiel Emanuel that came out in the Atlantic last year:

Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

There’s a wry saying that he who has the power to destroy something is the one who controls it. Emanuel’s death fantasy is his vain assertion of control over his life, a middle finger to the Creator—by ending it.

I’d like to know what his wife, whom he will leave widowed, and his children, whom he will leave fatherless, because of his view of what it means to no longer be able to “contribute,” think. Abraham became the father of God’s chosen people when he was 100 years old. He too thought his days of contribution were behind him. The lesson is God bestows us life to exercise for His pleasure, not ours. Our minds are just too feeble to account the mission God gives us.

There are many things to live for and to bless others with, and to say all that ends at 75 is worse than moral confusion, it is retardation. The West will wither to a husk and die under such callow pretensions. This is the apotheosis of “if it feels good, do it” ethics. The spiritual exhaustion betokened in this article will not stand up to genuine crisis. If a man doesn’t see the point in living for something, he cannot be entrusted with anything worth dying for. To put it succinctly, we want fewer Ezekiel Emanuels, not more.

Related: “Rich with time.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Keynesian sinecure is a healthy man’s crutch

With equality overrunning winning in its leaders’ minds, America as a military power is surely in decline. Don’t panic, it was going to happen at some point. It is the way of all earthly things. The military looks more like a bloated jobs and benefits program than a force to project power in the national interest. It advertises itself as such, what with professional training and college subsidies saturating its recruiting materials.

This also is probably true:

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel has a warning for San Antonio and other cities which are trying to protect their military bases, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Hegel, who stepped down as head of the Pentagon earlier this year, told the Trinity Policymaker Breakfast, that the U.S. has a huge excess of military bases infrastructure.

“We are carrying at least 25% overhead that we don't need,” Hegel said. “For our defense requirements and the security of the United States, that we don’t need.”

The next Base Closing and Realignment Commission is expected to be appointed in early 2017 to examine domestic U.S. military facilities and recommend closures.

Hegel says the U.S. cannot afford to keep redundant and unnecessary bases operating, just because they boost a community's economy.

“Every dollar that is being applied to overhead that we don’t need, facilities, bases, people, that's a dollar taken away from our legitimate security requirements,” Hegel said.

It’s logical to adapt to changing realities and priorities. Lobbying the government to keep military bases open past their usefulness and to keep the local workforce busy in unproductive work is classic rent-seeking, a symptom of economic decline. Cities expending human capital to secure waning Defense budget contracts epitomizes the failure of demand-side economics when resources are limited, which is to say, all the time.

Socialism fails because it coddles failing enterprise when people should be adapting to the market. If and/or when the San Antonio bases close, thousands of people will be put out of work. But “stress is the fertilizer of creativity,” Jon Voigt’s character said in 24. The closures will bring out the best of what each laid off man and woman has to offer. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. After World War II, the wartime economy laid off millions of people, and the post-war economy boomed as they applied their skills to serve their fellow man, instead of serve the nation in the war effort. However noble that service was, it did not lift up man like capitalism does.

But that’s not why the Keynesian economic establishment wants to scale down the military by 25 percent today. They want to because in the age of “sequestration” and other apocalyptic budget-balancing efforts, they have higher priorities. Since government sets demand, bureaucrats decide where money should go, which areas of the economy to “stimulate.” Inevitably it flows in accord with bureaucrats’ fancy, which may not be military at all, or may be military projects they have a personal stake in (e.g., in their home states).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gun control in Hobbes’s America

I predict not a single wannabe mass murderer will go through the trouble of getting a concealed-carry license. If you’re prepared to commit a capital crime, punishable by death, then a fine or lesser jail time for carrying without a license is not going to stop you.

The Daily Caller reports from the People’s Republic of Austin:

A professor emeritus at the University of Texas-Austin (UT) has announced that he is resigning his post in protest against a recent law allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus, saying the law drastically increases his chances of being murdered.

“As much as I have loved the experience of teaching and introducing these students to economics at the university, I have decided not to continue,” economics professor Daniel Hamermesh said in a letter to university administrators this week. “With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law.”

What’s enhanced are his chances of survival if a nut job tries to shoot up his classroom. The lecture hall is less likely to become a shooting gallery if at least one of the maniac’s targets fires back.

Australia has stricter gun laws than America and a low murder rate, the result of a decline that began in the ’80s, before Australia’s mandatory gun buyback program took effect. Too bad mass shootings still do happen in Australia (see 2014 Sydney cafe siege). And robbery is up, to boot, what with criminals not fearing armed homeowners as much as in the past.

If you look at the possibilities, Hamermesh could be murdered anywhere, anytime: in class, in the park, or in his driveway; with a rifle, a billy club, or a Samurai sword. Nothing but personal vigilance or an oppressive surveillance state can deter the motivated criminal. But in all likelihood Hamermesh won’t be shot to death because he has less than a .2 percent chance of being shot to death.

Overall, the largest deterrent to violent crime is a civil society that encourages social cohesion and trust. Hamermesh, for reasons unknown, has no faith in the social order without appealing to the law. He claims he’s only still alive because someone—anyone—would have killed him by now if only they had a gun. This Hobbesian distortion of reality posits there are no good guys with guns and no bad guys with guns. There are only guys with guns governed by animal passions. They consciencelessly do what pleases them, including steal, rape, and murder. That’s too far from reality to give any credence or credibility.

Related: “Not everyone’s a homicidal maniac.”