Friday, February 14, 2014

Odds and ends 2/14/2014

“You don’t need to believe in an unconstrained free will to be concerned about the nanny state.” –Micah Mattix

Luke Holladay writes at Values & Capitalism:

Both socialism and radical individualism place their hope in man and in his ability to remedy his present situation. But this false hope must give way to disillusionment, as Beatrice Webb, co-founder of the London School of Economics, recognized when she wrote:

Somewhere in my diary—1890?—I wrote “I have staked all on the essential goodness of human nature...” [Now thirty-five years later I realize] how permanent are the evil impulses and instincts in man—how little you can count on changing some of these—for instance the appeal of wealth and power—by any change in the [social] machinery...No amount of knowledge or science will be of any avail unless we can curb the bad impulse.

Without realizing it, Webb came face-to-face with the reality of the “not yet” of living in the City of Man. She still hoped to “curb the bad impulse,” but no human can accomplish that goal. Irving Kristol described this same problem in socialism in his 1979 essay “No Cheer for the Profit Motive.”

For [socialism] to exist would require a kind of radical transfiguration of human nature that only a messianic deliverance can bring us. And though socialism is messianic enough in its pretensions, it turns out to be all-too-human in actuality.

The truth is, we all struggle with the temptation to ignore the “not yet” of this present age. Whether it takes shape in instant gratification or even good intentions promoting bad policies, our entire culture seems bent on the rallying cry of “now!” We should desire to fix our broken systems, but we must temper this ambition by thinking seriously about how to live in the tension of the City of God and the City of Man.


ZeroHedge explains how the Federal Reserve creates income inequality. The bold is his.

It should be no surprise the growing gap in income inequalities has coincided with the adoption of fiat currencies worldwide. Every dollar the central bank creates benefits the early recipients of the money—the government and the banking sector — at the expense of the late recipients of the money, the wage earners, and the poor. Since the creation of a fiat currency system in 1971, the dollar has lost 82 percent of its value while the banking sector has gone from 4 percent of GDP to well over 10 percent today.

The central bank does not create anything real; neither resources nor goods and services. When it creates money it causes the price of transactions to increase. The original quantity theory of money clearly related money to the price of anything money can buy, including assets. When the central bank creates money, traders, hedge funds and banks — being first in line — benefit from the increased variability and upward trend in asset prices. Also, future contracts and other derivative products on exchange rates or interest rates were unnecessary prior to 1971, since hedging activity was mostly unnecessary. The central bank is responsible for this added risk, variability, and surge in asset prices unjustified by fundamentals.

The banking sector has been able to significantly increase its profits or claims on goods and services. However, more claims held by one sector, which essentially does not create anything of real value, means less claims on real goods and services for everyone else.


George Weigel’s point, which he made in the thick of the 2012 election, applies to all Christian integration in the civil society:

Overt persecution isn’t the only way the “world” resists the Church’s proposal. Societies can affect a bland indifference to the truths taught by biblical religion. Cultures can mock the moral truths taught by God’s revelation to the people of Israel and God’s self-revelation in his Son, Jesus Christ. Educational systems can inculcate an ethos of nihilism and hedonism, teaching that the only moral absolute is that there are no moral absolutes.

On both of these fronts—the political-legal front, and the social-cultural front—the Catholic Church is under assault in the United States today. Over the past four years, the federal government has made unprecedented efforts to erode religious freedom. The gravest assault was the “contraceptive mandate” issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: an offense to conscientious Catholic employers who believe what the Church believes about the morality of human love and the ethics of the right to life, and a frontal attack on the institutional integrity of the Church. For with the HHS mandate, the federal government seeks nothing less than to turn the Catholic Church’s charitable and medical facilities into state agencies that facilitate practices the Catholic Church believes are gravely evil.


Truth makes a break for it at the New York Times:

Consistent with its belief in self-sufficiency, the right wants to see more married-couple families. For the left, widespread single motherhood is a fact of modern life that has to be met with vigorously expanded government support. Liberals point out, correctly, that poverty rates for single-parent households are lower in most other advanced economies, where the welfare state is more generous.

That argument ignores a troubling truth: Single-parent families are not the same in the United States as elsewhere. Simply put, unmarried parents here are more likely to enter into parenthood in ways guaranteed to create turmoil in their children’s lives. The typical American single mother is younger than her counterpart in other developed nations. She is also more likely to live in a community where single motherhood is the norm rather than an alternative life choice.

The sociologist Kathryn Edin has shown that unlike their more educated peers, these younger, low-income women tend to stop using contraception several weeks or months after starting a sexual relationship. The pregnancy — not lasting affection and mutual decision-making — that often follows is the impetus for announcing that they are a couple. Unsurprisingly, by the time the thrill of sleepless nights and colicky days has worn off, two relative strangers who have drifted into becoming parents together notice they’re just not that into each other. Hence, the high breakup rates among low-income couples: Only a third of unmarried parents are still together by the time their children reach age 5.

Thank a feminist.


Esoterictrad rips pick-up artists (aka “players”) for colluding with feminists to degrade the culture:

Whilst these Manosphere giants posture and pretend to fight feminism they are actually promoting the most destructive elements that feminism has to offer because it benefits them. To understand civilization is to realise that women are women and men are men and that they fulfil different roles in society. Roosh and his ROK co-writers pay a mere lip-service to this and their approach is always sexual. A woman is in a correct role if she can dress well, looks good, if she wants to please a man.

They don’t want her to be so much of a proper woman to not sleep with them. They want her to break societal pressure and sleep with them for the cheap thrill. They essentially support the message of feminism that tells women there are no consequences to cheap sexual encounters. The more the latter message spreads the more these men get their sexual thrills.

This sums up my thoughts while I was writing “What men want.”


Common sense from Thomas Sowell:

Almost everyone seems to think that we need to solve the problem of the children of illegal immigrants, because these children are here “through no fault of their own.” Do people who say that have any idea how many millions of children are living in dire poverty in India, Africa or other places “through no fault of their own,” and would be better off living in the United States?

Do all children have some inherent right to live in America if they have done nothing wrong? If not, then why should the children of illegal immigrants have such a right?


Attorney General Eric Holder ups the chaos, as predicted.

The U.S. government will recognize same-sex marriages as equal to traditional marriages in all federal matters, including in U.S. courts, bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday.

The expansion of such federal recognition will include 34 states where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, but the new federal benefits being extended to those states will apply only where the U.S. government has jurisdiction, Holder said.

For example, a same-sex couple legally married in Massachusetts can now have their federal bankruptcy proceeding recognized in Alabama, even though it doesn’t allow same-sex marriages. In the past, the U.S. government could challenge the couple’s joint bankruptcy because Alabama doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.


“The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act may deliver a mortal blow to liberalism,” Scott Powell writes in Investor’s Business Daily.

Wrong. Republicans must deliver the mortal blow. No matter how weakened the enemy is, he will continue to hold the high ground until we charge the hill.


William Murchison doesn’t like legal weed:

A lot of what goes on in 21st century America seems a lot less good than it ought to be. Witness in this context the legal-marijuana boom — the strong public affirmation in places such as Colorado for the right to use pot for purposes left to the user’s discretion. Said purposes include the alleviation of physical pain. They include likewise the alleviation of, well, one just can’t say — possibly the alleviation of unfulfilled desire.

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The need for withdrawal from reality grew exuberant in the ’60s. Human kind, T. S. Eliot had noted wryly, can’t bear much reality: meaning much seriousness of purpose, the human task of sorting out good from evil, right from wrong. The ’60s saw Eliot and raised him. We disliked reality of all kinds. Nor was pot the only doorway leading out of the predicament. If it wasn’t pot, it was LSD; if not LSD, cocaine; if not cocaine, heroin: anything for a quick kick, a drawing down of the blinds upon responsibility, duty, and other such quaint conceits.


Harvard and Oxford grad Mark Adomanis reveals his economic paternalism/tough-love civil libertarian philosophy:

The state simply shouldn’t give a damn whether or not people go to church or whether or not they are attracted to people of the same or different sex. States have important roles to play in structuring and regulating the economy and in ensuring an adequate standard of living, but when it comes to values they don’t have anything to add and should simply stay out of the way.

The above argument is hardly a novel one and has been advanced by pretty much everyone from the center-left newspapers and magazines.

I guess Sarah Elizabeth Cupp missed the memo.


Hilarious!

Pop singer Miley Cyrus, whose highly suggestive “twerking” at the MTV Video Music Awards last August created a media firestorm, complained that “guys watch too much porn,” after posing nearly naked for W Magazine’s March cover.

In a profanity-laced interview, the former Disney child star told W’s Ronan Farrow that she does not see any contradiction between her own provocative image, which she insists “is calculated” and “a response to what she sees as a lack of authenticity in her peer group,” and her admonishment of men who view pornography.

“Those girls don’t exist. They’re not real girls,” Cyrus told Farrow, who referred to her “America’s baddest bad girl.” “And that’s like us watching romance movies. That’s girl porn, because, like, those guys do not exist,” she added.

She could build an ark out of the planks in her eye.

If “authenticity” to the primal is what she wants, she should encourage more porn consumption.


“Marxism is about leisure, not labor. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity. It also holds that the material resources that would make such a society possible already exist in principle, but are generated in a way that compels the great majority to work as hard as our Neolithic ancestors did. We have thus made astounding progress, and no progress at all.” –Terry Eagleton

Robert Tracinski comes out in defense of Mark Steyn:

Here is the point at which we need a little primer on libel laws, which hinge on the differentiation between facts and opinion. It is libel to maliciously fabricate facts about someone. (It is not libel to erroneously report a false fact, so long as you did so with good faith reason to believe that it was true, though you are required to issue a correction.) But you are free to give whatever evaluation of the facts you like, including a negative evaluation of another person’s ideas, thinking method, and character. It is legal for me, for example, to say that Michael Mann is a liar, if I don’t believe that his erroneous scientific conclusions are the product of honest error. It is also legal for me to say that he is a coward and a liar, for hiding behind libel laws in an attempt to suppress criticism.

These are all reasons that the lawsuit should have been summarily thrown out. It goes beyond the legitimate scope of libel and defamation laws and constitutes an attempt to suppress opinions that are considered politically correct.

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Mann has recently declared himself to be both a scientist and a political activist. But in attempting to intimidate his critics and suppress free debate on global warming, he is violating the fundamental rules of both science and politics. If it is a sin to doubt, then there is no science. If it is a crime to dissent, then there is no politics.

Mann vs. Steyn may be the trial of the century. It may determine, not merely whether the environmentalists can shut down industrial civilization, but whether they can shut down the independent thinking of skeptical dissidents.

“Trial of the century” is a bit much. I can think of a few other things that are more likely to ruin America by the 22nd century, like debt and demographic collapse, the latter of which Steyn has written about extensively.


Chris Stirewalt of Fox News reports on the latest Obamacare revision:

Is the latest delay of ObamaCare regulations politically motivated? Consider what administration officials announcing the new exemption for medium-sized employers had to say about firms that might fire workers to get under the threshold and avoid hugely expensive new requirements of the law. Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS – under penalty of perjury – that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.

This is basically hiring Obamacare spokesmen by extortion. Businesses cannot let on to their fired employees the real reason for firing them, lest they perjure themselves to the IRS.

Vox Day writes:

You can’t understand leftist reasoning until you grasp that everything they do is based on a static universe. From evolution to health care regulation, their policies inevitably involve the Ricardian Vice of reducing the situation down to the simplest possible binary choice, then being mystified when their actions inspire a reaction.

Followed, of course, by their futile attempts to use force to demand compliance.

The biggest problem won’t be firms laying off workers to get into the preferred class, but rather, all the firms that will no longer grow out of it.

George Will nails it:

It is the point of progressivism, is to put in front of the American people an increasingly rich menu of temptation to dependency on government.

Howard McCrum at American Thinker riffs:

This week and last we learned from Democrats that Obamacare is society’s latest liberating influence. Americans can stop and smell the roses now that they are unshackled from the adult responsibility of providing for their own basic necessities. The need to perform honest yet unpleasant or even difficult work is a thing of the past. Free at last!

However, those of us who work for a living are feeling a lot less liberated now that we must subsidize the sabbaticals of those who vote for a living.

In 1858, other Democrats were living a “liberated” life at least somewhat similar to their moral and intellectual descendants of today, who tout the ideal of a good life with little or no work, supported by the involuntary exertions of others. Slaveholders, subsidized by the sweat of slaves, were free from the need to perform unpleasant, menial, and strenuous work. They justified their theft with moral preening and claims of their moral and intellectual superiority (just as do their spiritual heirs today).

And James Taranto:

Working for pay is supposed to be liberating for women because it frees them from dependency on men. How can one square that with this new claim that dependence on the government is liberating because it allows people not to work?

If Christians get to have a monument at the Oklahoma capitol, so do Satanists. On the theory that the state should be neutral towards religion, this is logical.

The Blaze reports:

A satanic group has unveiled designs for a 7-foot-tall, goat-headed deity it wants at the Oklahoma state Capitol.

The New York-based Satanic Temple released an artist’s rendering of the monument Monday. A spokesman says the group has formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds.

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The Satanic Temple says Oklahoma’s decision to put a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol opened the door for its statute.

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