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.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Odds and ends 10/10/2015

“Within the frame of Modernist schemes of development, Revelation and the Dogmas of the Church are merely historically conditioned transitional stages at the end of which stands the self-divinization of man. The Revelation in Christ and its heretofore history would only be a preparatory stage for an understanding of God, world, and church in which man himself is subject and object of the Revelation at the same time.” –Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller

Here’s a double dose of Mark Steyn, because a single dose of my favorite Canadian pundit is never enough. First, he sounds off on a report that illegal immigrants are represented in the electoral college. Since it’s not the people, but states’ representatives in the electoral college, who elect presidents, illegal immigrants effectively add to the votes of the majority in their states. Read:

On Tuesday night I joined Sean Hannity on Fox News to check the state of the Republican race, and a certain structural advantage the Democrats have. Most people are aware that the President is elected not by the popular vote but by the votes in the Electoral College. And most people are also aware that the more densely populated states have more electoral votes than smaller states: California has 55 votes, Vermont has three.

But most Americans, I would wager, assume that those proportions are based on the number of citizens in each state. Not so. As Politico reports, each state’s share of the Electoral College votes is calculated by using the “whole number of persons in each state”—including those who shouldn’t be there. So the more illegal immigrants you have in your state, the greater the votes you have in the Electoral College. Thus, the armies of the undocumented don't need “a pathway to citizenship” in order to change election results—or, as Politico's headline puts it, “Illegal Immigrants Could Elect Hillary”:

This math gives strongly Democratic states an unfair edge in the Electoral College. Using citizen-only population statistics, American University scholar Leonard Steinhorn projects California would lose five House seats and therefore five electoral votes. New York and Washington would lose one seat, and thus one electoral vote apiece. These three states, which have voted overwhelming for Democrats over the latest six presidential elections, would lose seven electoral votes altogether.

So, as I said to Sean, California’s illegal immigrants have a greater representation (five votes) in the Electoral College than my entire state (New Hampshire’s four votes). Which seems a very perverse system.

So Democrats don’t need to nurse illegals through to citizenship; simply moving them into California and other blue states bulks up the Electoral College math in their favor.

California can have all the illegal immigrants for all I care, as long as they don’t come here.

Seriously, though, what the hell?

Secondly, Steyn on Obama’s no good, horrible UN address:

Obama’s just mailing in a Hallmark greetings card for Happy Geostrategic Analysis Day: “You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas.” Whichever overpaid speechwriter came up with that, the President of the United States is the one who agreed to utter it. It’s a superficial credentialed twerp’s idea of “smart”—when you're in a room full of hard-faced men from Russia, Iran, Syria and France, but you think the same cute lines that work on “The View” will see you through. As Putin no doubt assured the mullahs et al in private, the people you are dealing with in Washington are not cruel but they are dumb.

Deportations have gone down 42 percent since 2012. Mark Krikorian at National Review explains why:

In short, the drop in deportations is a policy choice made by the White House, not some development out of its control.

Perhaps the more important question, though, is why is Obama pulling the plug enforcement now rather than when he first took office? It’s true that during the first several years of his administration, deportation statistics were artificially inflated by counting many people caught at the border as deportations, which they were not previously. But why end the charade of “record deportations” now?

The reason is “comprehensive immigration reform.” It was necessary to appear credible on enforcement when passing an amnesty/immigration-surge bill was still a real prospect. The political message at the time was that Obama could be trusted to enforce immigration laws after an amnesty, to prevent the growth of a new illegal population, because he was deporting such large numbers of illegal aliens. Sure, it was never plausible to me, but the hope was that it would deceive enough voters who pay little attention to politics to provide pro-amnesty Republican sufficient political cover.

But when, despite this fairy tale, Senator Rubio’s amnesty bill died in the House, with no prospect of revival, there was no need to continue the charade. Obama and his people could take off the disguise (“not much of a disguise,” to quote Agent L in Men in Black) and follow their anti-borders instincts. We see this not only in the deportation collapse but also in Obama’s lawless amnesty edicts and his many machinations to negate the various numerical limits and standards imposed by Congress (the most recent one is discussed here).

These latest deportation numbers vindicate House Republicans’ refusal to vote on Rubio’s amnesty bill. It’s now indisputable that this administration had no intention of enforcing immigration law tomorrow if it was given an amnesty today. Obama’s promises of future enforcement, never very credible, are now exposed as lies. Why did Rubio and the other 13 Republicans who voted for the Gang of Eight bill believe him?

They don’t get that liberals will destroy the country if given free rein, that’s why. Read “Compromise is futile.”

Leon Wolf considers House Republican moderates in this RedState piece. He quotes House Republican moderate so-and-so on how he can’t get along with conservatives:

The next Speaker should not appease those who make unreasonable demands. There are a number of members of our conference. You cannot get the yes on anything. For them the end will be the good. In my view it's come time to marginalize those members who doesn’t want to be part of the governing majority.”

We might have to assemble a bipartisan coalition on the floor to elect the next speaker then. I mean, that’s what it could come down to.

I don’t know what will happen. Anything is possible now. It’s pretty clear to me that a number of us are not going to simply appease or exceed to those who will make unreasonable demands. And so I suspect in order to govern around here we need a bipartisan coalition on all major bills. If we can’t get 218 Republican votes for a Speaker, then we'll have to try other options. I don’t know what those options are, but I certainly don’t want to put somebody in the Speaker’s job who is going to appease those who are making unreasonable demands. (Emphasis added)

There’s that word, govern. As occupiers of the mushy middle, they have their pick of whom to coalition with. They’re willing to govern with liberals, but not with conservatives. Let that sink in.


I’m less proud I live in San Antonio because of this idiocy:

News Radio 1200 WOAI reports that a measure to be introduced at City Hall later this month would change October 12th from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in San Antonio, and would encourage the same change from schools, businesses, and other groups which celebrate Columbus Day as a holiday.

Councilman Rey Saldana says the change is in line with this year’s designation of the Spanish Missions as a World Heritage Site.

“We are doing this as a way to recognize and celebrate, and also to acknowledge and celebrate our history,” he said.

Native American prayers were heard at City Hall as the proposal was discussed.

Rudy Perez, a representative of the Native American peoples of San Antonio, said this designation is a long time coming, and he hopes it will bring to an end some misconceptions about Native Americans, like they are a ‘mixed race’ people.

“A lot of people say we got mixed,” he said. “We didn’t get mixed. We are still here. You got mixed with us. We never left from here.”

Set aside the retarded “mixing” remark. How does “Indigenous People’s Day” dovetail with the designation of the missions as a World Heritage Site? Those missions were built by Spaniards following in Columbus’s footsteps, ministering to polytheistic Native Americans. The history of San Antonio is the history of European exploration, missionary work, settlement, and technological progress. This smacks of historical revisionism.

But here’s something I feel better about:

A coalition of environmental, neighborhood, and grass roots groups has emerged to fight the proposed SAWS Vista Ridge Water Development Project, and the large water rate hikes which are set to come before City Council later this month, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Meredith McGuire, a sociology professor at Trinity University is one of the leaders of the ‘Mi Agua, Mi Vida Water Coalition,’ and she says many coalition members remain upset that SAWS pushed this through last year without hearing or considering any input from the public.

...

She says SAWS currently has enough water resources to serve the people and businesses who are already in the city, and it isn’t fair to ask existing residents to pay as much as 43% increases in their water bills over the coming five years to provide water for people who now don’t live in San Antonio, but may arrive in the future.

She’s right.


Let’s see if the “science” of global warming will accept facts, or discard it and simultaneously shed the fig leaf covering its ideology. Perth Now reports:

A former climate modeller for the Government’s Australian Greenhouse Office, with six degrees in applied mathematics, Dr Evans has unpacked the architecture of the basic climate model which underpins all climate science.

He has found that, while the underlying physics of the model is correct, it had been applied incorrectly. He has fixed two errors and the new corrected model finds the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) is much lower than was thought.

It turns out the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has over-estimated future global warming by as much as 10 times, he says.

“Yes, CO2 has an effect, but it’s about a fifth or tenth of what the IPCC says it is. CO2 is not driving the climate; it caused less than 20 per cent of the global warming in the last few decades”.

Dr Evans says his discovery “ought to change the world”.

“But the political obstacles are massive,” he said.

His discovery explains why none of the climate models used by the IPCC reflect the evidence of recorded temperatures. The models have failed to predict the pause in global warming which has been going on for 18 years and counting.

“The model architecture was wrong,” he says. “Carbon dioxide causes only minor warming. The climate is largely driven by factors outside our control.”


Jonathan Keiler analyzes the president’s post-Oregon gun control press conference. The italics are Obama himself.

That Obama doubled down on his politicization effort at [a] recent press conference shows that he thinks he has a political winner. Here we might take some comfort that Obama is often wrong. In this as in most things he differs from Socrates, who took the Oracle’s pronunciation that he was Athens’ smartest man to mean that he was the only man who knew how much he did not know. Obama falls on the other end of the ledger, a fool for believing he is always right.

Observing his press conferences, it is hard to believe that Obama was ever a “student of history” or a Constitutional Law professor, much less at any time the “smartest man in the room.” Socrates is credited with developing the method of using probing questions and direct answers to develop dialogue to search for truth. Obama avoids such opportunities, and when he does engage the press (though they are almost never challenging or hostile) does so in the turgid, blustery, and run-on manner of people who use words to hide meaning rather than enhance it. One observer at FOX clocked in his responses at an average of 9 minutes each during last weeks’ presser. A look at the transcript makes this appear reasonable. One wonders what his Con Law classes must have been like, and whether administrators passed out stimulants to keep his students awake.

...

“And if we’re going to do something about that, the politics has to change. The politics has to change. And the people who are troubled by this have to be as intense and as organized and as adamant about this issue as the folks on the other side who are absolutists and think that any gun safety measure is an assault on freedom, or communistic—or a plot by me to take over and stay I power forever or something.” (Laughter.)

Let’s leave aside Obama’s usual rhetorical tics, e.g., repeating phrases, referring to himself, and calling good hearted Americans that disagree with him “the other side.” As anyone who has raised a teenager understands, Obama here is trying to divert attention from one misstep by accusing us of thinking he’s doing much worse as in “No I didn’t miss curfew dad, and you probably think I’m using drugs and having sex too!” It’s a juvenile way to address an important issue, and insulting to anyone with half a brain listening to it. And what does that say about the lap-dog press corps’ supportive laughter at such a sophomoric attempt at humor?

I don’t know if Obama is a closet communist or secretly plans to install himself as a dictator, but nothing he’s said in the past few days would reassure someone who did. At the very least, his desire to turn an explicitly guaranteed liberty in to a political contest shows he has no appreciation of the freedoms the Constitution protects, especially for minorities, or the traditions of Western governance that led there. Had he lived in ancient Athens he’d have gladly poured Socrates his cup of poison.


The Onion skewers fatherlessness. This is heartbreaking and hilarious:

Saying she just assumed he would have figured it out by now, local mother Kathleen Rivers expressed concern to reporters Tuesday that her 12-year-old son, Dylan, still believes in his father.

“When he was a little boy, I thought it was really sweet that Dylan believed in his dad, but now that he’s older, it’s beginning to worry me a bit,” said Rivers, adding that she had always assumed this phase would have been over well before he reached adolescence. “He can’t play make-believe forever. Dylan will be a teenager soon, and he needs to start growing up.”

“He’s just getting too old for it, you know?” she continued. “This is kids’ stuff, and he has to learn to let go of it.”


In Public Discourse, Melissa Moschella sees the connection between marriage redefinition and Brave New World-style, totalitarian childrearing.

The view of marriage as a mere creature of the state to be redefined at will goes hand in hand with the idea that children “belong” primarily to the state, which then delegates (limited) childrearing authority to whomever the state defines as the child's parents.

We see this trend in Canada, where the 2005 bill redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships replaced the term “natural parent” with “legal parent” throughout Canadian federal law. Similarly, in at least nineteen US states as well as the District of Columbia, same-sex partners can now both be listed as parents on a child's birth certificate, substituting politically correct legal fiction for the implacable (hetero)sexism of biological reality.

We also see the state encroaching on parental authority in order to enforce the new orthodoxy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. “Equality” requires teaching that all family forms are equally good, and public schools do this by introducing “diversity-oriented” activities and readings—including books like Mommy, Momma and Me—across the curriculum.

...

The ideology that would justify this sort of intrusive behavior on the part of the state was trumpeted by Melissa Harris-Perry in an MSNBC promo spot a couple of years ago. Harris-Perry claimed that “we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

Her claim reflects the troubling but not uncommon view that the education of children, particularly their formal education, is first and foremost the task of the state rather than parents.

This idea is echoed in the pro-same-sex marriage amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court by historians of marriage, which claims that “states have sought to limit the public’s responsibility for children by looking to married couples to provide support for minor dependents,” implying that married couples are agents of the state to help the larger community to raise its children.

This is effectively the position of political theorists such as Amy Gutmann, Stephen Macedo and others. They deny the primacy of parental educational authority and argue that the state can and should require children to be exposed to values and ways of life that conflict with those they are learning at home, that the state at least in principle has the right to mandate “diversity education” programs even in private schools and home schools, and that parents in principle have no right to opt their children out of such programs, even if they have a moral or religious objection to their content. These theorists would probably applaud, for instance, the law, recently passed in Alberta, which disallows parents from exempting their children from classroom discussions of homosexuality, and which requires all schools, including faith-based schools, to allow pro-homosexual student clubs like gay-straight alliances.

Of course, the views of Gutmann, Macedo, and Harris-Perry are mild when compared with progressive communal experiments like the Israeli kibbutzim of the mid-twentieth century (which broke down within a generation) or the radical communal childrearing scheme proposed by Plato in Book V of the Republic (though whether he proposed it sincerely or as a kind of reductio ad absurdum is a matter of debate).

What all of these approaches have in common, though, is the denial of primary and pre-political parental educational authority. And this same denial is also, strikingly, a key feature of the totalitarian regimes of the past century, both fascist and communist. While Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao were hardly following Plato’s blueprint for the perfectly just society, they certainly understood, as Plato did, that the most effective (and perhaps the only) way to inculcate unquestioning acceptance of the regime’s ideals was to educate a whole generation in those ideals from childhood, and to minimize as much as possible any potentially contradictory educational influences, particularly the influence of parents. Just think of the tight state control of education in these regimes and the further indoctrination of students outside of schools in groups like the Hitler Youth, the Maoist Red Guard, or the Soviet Komsomol.

...

But if the intact biological family is a natural pre-political community—if parents, not the state, have primary and pre-political educational authority over their children—then the family is effectively a little sovereign community within the larger political community, and, like any sovereign community, it has the right to direct its own internal affairs free from coercive external interference (except in clear cases abuse, neglect, or serious threats to public order).

So I’m not crazy.


This is a great letter from C. S. Lewis on porn and masturbation:

For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself . . . . And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.

The true exercise of imagination, in my view, is (a) To help us to understand other people (b) To respond to, and, some of us, to produce, art. But it has also a bad use: to provide for us, in shadowy form, a substitute for virtues, successes, distinctions etc. which ought to be sought outside in the real world—e.g. picturing all I’d do if I were rich instead of earning and saving. Masturbation involves this abuse of imagination in erotic matters (which I think bad in itself) and thereby encourages a similar abuse of it in all spheres. After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little, dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.

That’s self-defilement, enfeeblement, and a loss of ability to function with any serious orientation toward the good or the future. Further reading: “In the service of sin.”


Igor Shafarevich recounts Plato’s Republic:

In Plato’s state, power belongs to the philosophers, who govern the country with the help of warriors known as “guardians.” Plato’s main concern was with the way of life of these guardians, since not only were the philosophers to be chosen from among them, but they were also to control the rest of the population.

He wanted to subordinate their life completely to the interests of the state, and to organize it so as to exclude the possibility of a split and the emergence of conflicting interests. The first means of achieving this was the abolition of private property. The guardians were to own nothing but their own bodies.

Their dwellings could be entered by anybody who wished to. They were to live in the republic like hired laborers, serving only in return for food and no other reward. For the same purpose the individual family was also abolished. All the men and women in the guardian class were to share their mates with all the others. Instead of marriage there was to be brief, state-controlled sexual union, for the purposes of physical satisfaction and the production of perfect progeny. To this end the philosophers were to yield to distinguished guardians the right of more frequent sexual union with the more beautiful women.

Children, from the moment of birth, would not know their own fathers or even mothers. They were to be cared for communally by all the women who happened to be lactating, and the children passed around all the time. And the state would take care of their subsequent upbringing.

These are retrograde ideas. The abolition of private property and forcing families apart, against their nature, disconnects the sources of inspiration for work and innovation from men who are expected to sustain past levels of prosperity and productivity. Will love of the “nation” be enough? I seriously doubt it, for men of the same nation, even neighbors, by nature have private interests they want to pursue.


John C. Wright strikingly describes liberals’ sins:

All these projected beliefs of the Leftist media repeat the creed and the idolatry of the postmodern postrational posthuman Leftists. They are pro-sodomy because of lust, anticapitalist because of envy, pro-uncelibacy because of lust, pro-infanticide because of lust, pro-divorce because of lust, and pro-green because they are are anticapitalist because of envy. Lust serves Asmodius, infanticide serves Moloch, envy serves Leviathan.

A glimpse of reality in Europe provided by the “refugees”:

Conservative politicians back the calls for separated refugee centres, claiming Christians in the homes are being harassed and persecuted by hardline Muslims.

The former minister of the interior Hans-Peter Friedrich said: ‘It is sad, but obviously necessary that we require the separation of asylum seekers according to religion.’

Before, they were segregated by country, Muslim countries for Muslims, secular countries for seculars and Christians. And peace reigned. What was wrong with that?


Bravo, Ben Carson:

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, called for a focus on families with “traditional, intact values” and denounced the “PC police.”

“We have got to stop paying attention to the PC Police who say every lifestyle is exactly of the same value. No, it’s not of the same value,” Carson said. “It is very clear that intact, traditional families with traditional, intact values do much better in terms of raising children. So let’s stop pretending that everything is of equal value.”

Criminal behavior and poverty are directly correlated to the single-parent household, Carson argued.

“When young girls have babies out of wedlock, most of the time their education ends with that first baby,” he explained. “Those babies are four times as likely to grow up in poverty, end up in the penal system or the welfare system. You know, I’m not making this stuff up. That’s well-documented. That’s a problem.”


At the Daily Signal, Paul Winfree explains how the welfare state chews people up and spits them out:

Far from being a compassionate series of programs worthy of defense against reform, the current welfare architecture has been a disaster for struggling communities and has done its gravest disservice to recipients themselves. The damage has been twofold.

First, the existing welfare system undermines work. By offering a generous system of entitlements to able-bodied adults without any obligation to work or prepare for work, welfare undermines the need and motivation for self-support. Welfare is primarily a system of one-way handouts: Only two out of more than 80 means-tested welfare programs include even modest work or training requirements.

Second, nearly all of these means-tested welfare programs impose significant penalties against marriage. For 50 years, welfare has driven fathers from the home. As a consequence, single mothers have become increasingly dependent on government aid. Meanwhile, low-income fathers, deprived of meaningful roles as husbands and breadwinners, have drifted into the margins of society. Their attachment to the labor force has deteriorated, and the tendency toward self-destructive and anti-social behavior has increased.

The surest way out of poverty is intact families, as George Gilder explains further in the following excerpts from Wealth and Poverty:

In modern capitalism, wealth is a dilemma; its value on the one hand is embodied in ever more specialized, complex, and inflexible forms, and on the other is utterly subject to ever more rapid and unpredictable changes in knowledge. Both more solid and more pervious, capital is now a Maginot Line for any determined hoarder of it.

...

In general, the more liquid wealth is, the closer it is to money, the less likely it is to grow fast, the more vulnerable it is to the changing money supplies. Savings accounts, after inflation and taxes, have lost money for decades. The less liquid an asset, the more likely are large returns or losses. The least liquid and most promising of all is to build and own a company.

...

Individuals with cash comprise the wild card—the mutagenic germ—in capitalism, and it is relatively risky investments that ultimately both reseed the economy and unseat the rich, as the iron rule of gamblers’ ruin plays itself out in the arena of business.

...

Most of us work for money and enjoy leisure. The poor, it is implied, despite their generally more onerous jobs, do not. They so lust for labor, so they tell all inquiring scholars, that their willingness to work is unaffected by levels of welfare and in-kind support substantially higher than the available wage; they even clamor to enter the workforce in the face of effective tax rates on work (through reductions in welfare payments) of nearly 100 percent.

...

Every successful ethnic group in our history rose up by working harder than other classes, in low-paid jobs, with a vanguard of men in entrepreneurial roles.

...

Poor people tend to ride up rapidly and will be damaged by a policy of redistribution that will always hit new and unsheltered income and wealth much harder than the elaborately concealed and fortified winnings of the established rich. The poor benefit from a dynamic economy full of unpredictable capital gains (they have few capital losses!) more than from a stratified system governed by educational and other credentials that the rich can buy.

...

Effective work consists not in merely fulfilling the requirements of labor contracts, but in “putting out” with alertness and emotional commitment, workers have to understand and feel deeply that what they are given depends on what they give—and they must supply work in order to demand goods. Parents and schools must inculcate this idea in their children both by instruction and example. Nothing is more deadly to achievement than the belief that effort will not be rewarded, that the world is a bleak and discriminatory place in which only the predatory and the specially preferred can get ahead. Such a view in the home discourages the work effort in school that shapes earnings capacity afterward. As with so many aspects of human performance, work effort begins in family experiences, and its sources can be best explored through an examination of family structure.

...

Living from day to day and from hand to mouth, lower-class individuals are unable to plan or save or keep a job. Banfield gives the impression that short-term horizons are a deep-seated psychological defect afflicting hundreds of thousands of poor.

...

The short-sighted outlook of poverty stems largely from the breakdown of family responsibility among fathers. The lives of the poor, all too often, are governed by the rhythms of tension and release that characterize the sexual experience of young single men. Because female sexuality, as it evolved over millennia, is psychologically rooted in the bearing and nurturing of children, women have long horizons within their very bodies, glimpses of eternity in their wombs. Civilized society is dependent upon submission of the short-term sexuality of young men to the extended maternal horizons of women. This is what happens in monogamous marriage; the man disciplined his sexuality and extends it into the future through the womb of a woman.

Radical feminism has actually tried to abolish the long-term sexual temper of women, the key natural civilizing force in men’s lives. The “measurable” incentives of material redistribution displace the breadwinning male as family head, and predictably commits single women and their vulnerable children to lives of consumption, or convenient consumers in the demand-side Keynesian economic model.

Reading that last excerpted paragraph by Gilder gives me the chills. You just don’t read anything like that except when you’re reading Gilder. It’s so true, it hurts. The first book of Gilder’s that I read, Men and Marriage, is like that.

More to come.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Compromise is futile

Christopher Harper-Mercer murdered those people in Oregon, but judging from Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric you’d think the NRA pulled the trigger:

Hillary Clinton took aim at the National Rifle Association in Iowa on Wednesday, hitting the group for what she claims is its “absolutist” stance on gun rights and comparing it to “the Iranians and Communists.”

Worse, even! Liberals will negotiate with Commies and Iranians, but not with the NRA.

Clinton drew the connection to the gun rights group and murderous tyrants after a woman in the audience at a town hall meeting in Mount Vernon noted that President Obama seemed defeated during his remarks on gun control following last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.

Maybe Clinton should check her fear-mongering, lest she inflame someone’s passions and incite him to kill. The psychologically unglued killer, after all, is the fatal constant in these shootings, not guns. There are millions of gun owners but only a relative handful of mentally ill, drug-addicted/over-medicated drones. But liberal pols cry about the millions of gun owners after every mass murder event, transparently pursuing the gun-grabbing agenda they’ve had for years. Open carry and concealed carry laws give them visions of the shootout at the O. K. Corral on every street corner, when indeed virtually none of the people with these permits will become violent criminals. Don’t miss the important fact that a gun in the hands of an Adam Lanza or Dylann Roof or gang banger is a totally different animal than a gun in the hands of a security guard or soldier. As always, the minds and the wills of people with similar abilities make up the biggest difference in their achievements.

There will be no “loyal dissent” during Clinton’s administration if she insists on waging rhetorical war on her own citizens, rather than working with them or accommodating them. It appears she not only expects a political insurgency against her presidency, but welcomes it. An insurgency is a problem if you can’t kill them all, and she sounds prepared to do that—politically speaking, of course.

Liberal democracy does not survive this intense a level of disagreement among coequal citizens. The liberal zeitgeist will destroy this country. We are fighting for our right to live as it is only possible to survive as a nation. Politeness and restraint are not virtues in this fight.

I had dinner the other night with a low-level Republican operative. He held forth on the issues of the day and demonstrated why establishment Republicans are feckless in the fight against ascendant liberalism. They just don’t understand the problems facing the country. To them, the problem is an insufficient political center and an inability to govern, itself the product of partisanship. Thus their animosity towards the “tea party,” which they deploy as a slur. Their solution is moderation to govern alongside liberals, as if there’s a stopping point short of complete disaster that they’ll be content with. My friend ridiculed the tea party for their “extreme” positions, like gun rights, illegal immigration, and the role of religion (which I understood as code for marriage, abortion, etc). He didn’t mention Obamacare, but I’m sure it’s somewhere down the list. The nation doesn’t have much a future with a defenseless citizenry, undefended borders, and utilitarian immorality, and he undercut the conservative position on every one of these fronts.

When you watch liberals, you can tell they’re not interested in getting along with conservatives. They want to win. They believe in what they fight for. The establishment doesn’t understand why liberals believe what they do, and I don’t think they much care. They’re terrified of government “not working” for the people, when clearly the greater evil is bad government working well. They compromise and retreat to the point of pretending marriage is what it isn’t for political peace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Money worship

Greed, money worship, etc. is not a product of the free market, but of sinful human nature. The mechanism to fix it is a circumcised heart. It is not money Paul says is a sin, but love of money.

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drubkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

...

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 3:2-3, 6:10)

Love of money is idolatry. Money cannot replace God as man’s security. Money will not do for you what the Son of Man has done. When Jesus tells the young man to give up his wealth on Earth and follow Him, He is ministering to him, He is telling him how to cast off his sin.


When Bernie Sanders decries love of money and “income inequality” in the same breath, your defenses should rise. The socialist does not want to circumcise your heart. He wants to stoke your greed and envy. He wants you to seek security in the wealth redistributed by the state. He wants you to depend on the predictable, guaranteed returns of economic planning, plans in which demand for existing goods and services is set by politicians and technocrats, forbidding the surprises of new knowledge from forming new industries, from creating new demand.

The theory of socialism is better than the reality. The principle of a system of universal sharing only works when social trust overpowers greed. For a populous, diverse country losing trust in its civic and social institutions like never before, as 21st century America is, it cannot work.

Economically, it cannot work. An apparatus has to do the sharing, that is, the taking and the giving. That apparatus is designed by flawed people who have prejudices and weaknesses. Because of their macroeconomic lenses, technocrats will only see what’s in front of them, the major industries like energy, cars, processed foods, personal technology, and online retailers like Google and Amazon. The “little guy,” where all innovations to better serve man gestate, is overlooked. When these huge, bureaucratized companies hit critical mass, they transition from an attitude of servicing customers to being served by customers, and they rely on the patronage and racketeering of socialists to get customers through the door to buy their stuff.

Socialism is the ultimate money worship. It signifies the fantasy of receiving without giving, nourishment by bread and wine without the communion. Socialism cannot heal the pestilence of greed and envy in our hearts. The free market, on the other hand, encourages risk and investment to the benefit of others before self.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Unemployment and work

The labor force participation rate is at a 38-year low. But the interesting thing to note about the labor force participation rate is that it entered its steepest freefall directly after the Great Recession technically ended, a period of time that should have coincided with aggressive expansion.

However, recall that the extension of unemployment benefits up to nearly 2 years was a major political debate at the time. It would seem over-generous handouts inspired laziness in the workforce. Correlation is not causation, but think about the incentives. Why trade free money and leisure time for a 40-hour work week and a marginal increase in income?

The Wall Street Journal reported on November 6, 2009:

President Barack Obama signed legislation into law Friday providing an additional 14 to 20 weeks of benefits for those who have already exhausted theirs or will do so by year-end.

The extension comes on the same day the Labor Department announced the U.S. unemployment rate hit 10.2% in October, crossing into double-digits for the first time in 26 years as the nation’s jobless swelled to 15.7 million.

The bill, passed earlier this week by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, extends federal jobless benefits by 14 weeks for Americans in all 50 states who face exhaustion before year-end, and by 20 weeks for those living in states where the unemployment rate is 8.5% or higher.

The additional 20 weeks in hard-hit states means the maximum a person in one of those states could receive is now up to 99 weeks, or nearly two years — the most in history.

Another policy response at the time was a gargantuan Keynesian stimulus, ballooning spending to $6 trillion across all government levels. The motivation behind such astronomic spending was to increase demand for the services of the millions of workers laid off during the Great Recession. It was a massive failure, as the continued decline in the labor force participation rate shows. The problem was never a lack of jobs to match with the skills of the unemployed. The problem was getting those people into the market to use their skills to others’ advantage.

The government came up with a demand-side solution to a supply-side problem. Workers never match precisely to the skills solicited in a job advertisement. The job they’re given invariably molds to their knowledge and personality, evolving to fit them. The worker supplies his expertise to create value. The value is not in the job that is demanded, but the work and creativity that is supplied. Workers must give in order to receive.

Thanks to Republicans in Congress, the fiscal year 2015 deficit will be the lowest deficit of the Obama administration so far. This declining budget deficit does not betray a burgeoning demand deficit. The supply-side challenges remain. Workers must supply what they know to their work to create demand for their services and command salary and income. For them to do that, welfare incentives and regulations that present barriers to market entry need to be cut back.