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    Tuesday

    literatureCatholic Arts and Letters Weekly

    The quiet Catholic convert and scholar Gerard Casey reviews the case for conservative libertarians. Required reading for everyone who clings to the worn-out idea that libertarians are godless antinomians. . . . more>>

    Gadgets zapping your brain power? You might need to go on a digital diet. . . . more>>

    Is the guy a psychopath? How can you tell? This article tells you, complete with a 20-point test. . . . more>>

    Slavery is increasing . . . in the United States. And the slaves aren’t mowing the lawn. Many aren’t even 18. . . . more>> (R-rated)

    Military desertions on a massive scale have been with us since the Revolutionary War. This man deserted after army bureaucrats revoked his discharge without explanation. . . . more>>

    What exactly is a bestseller? When did we start tracking? And is it me, or do all bestsellers kinda look alike today? . . . more>>

    Minimum wage laws? Pshaw. You just give your favored industries an exemption and call ’em “interns.” . . . more>>

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    7 Responses to “Tuesday”

    1. Steve Nicoloso Says:

      Required reading for everyone who clings to the worn-out idea that libertarians are godless antinomians.

      Okay. I Read it. Obviously not all libertarians are godless antinomians, but I never believed that before. The trouble (and really the only trouble) is this fetish of freedom: The conservative believes in freedom, too. It is, indeed, a very great good. But it comes after (and only after) two greater goods: Security of persons and property, and justice. And the author recognizes this, walks straight into it with

      H.L. Mencken thought that liberty was too strong a drink for many people and that what they really wanted was security.

      And then never really addresses it. It is as though such an idea is utterly beneath contempt.

      And yet, in the real (as in observable) world, freedom makes hell-holes far more often than paradises. Only a certain quality of men (and their women) can truly thrive in freedom, the rest will make hell-holes for themselves and all those unfortunate enough to live by them. Conservativsim, properly applied, seeks (even if often by some of the same mechanisms approved by libertarians) to limit the sphere of social pathologies in the larger society. Some folks can handle more freedom, others less. And the conservative seeks to identify such folks and treat them according to their natural abilities.

      Prostitution is I think the best litmus test. If you think it should be legal, then you are ipso facto a libertarian. If not, then you are a conservative. And if not, then why go prattling on about libertarianism? Sure they’ve got some great economic ideas. Conservatives (thinking ones at any rate) accept and applaud this, and conservatives want general prosperity as much as the next guy. But they don’t believe economic prosperity alone, or freedom alone, makes for a good society. Their concerns are higher and longer term.

    2. Eric Says:

      Steve:

      Thanks for this. My apologies for not responding to your previous libertarian comment, but it’s been a hell-hole of family and work commitments this month.

      But I’ll engage you a bit on this one. You write, “the conservative seeks to identify such folks and treat them according to their natural abilities.” Who exactly does the seeking and administers the treatment?

    3. Steve Nicoloso Says:

      Who exactly does the seeking and administers the treatment?

      The magistrate can (and ought to be able to) discern at least the following:

      a) is a person a (real) property owner (and therefore competent enought at least to dispose of income responsibly to pay property taxes);

      b) is a person married, and do they have and properly support children, entirely without the assistance of government or charity;

      c) has a person never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor;

      Any person meeting the above criteria should be given a fairly wide swathe of freedom in which to (hopefully) flourish. Freedom can be curtailed in proportion to a persons failure to live up to these. Fail all of these, and a person (of any age) should be deemed a ward of the state and put into the custody of responsible and moral adult for “treatment”.

    4. Eric Says:

      I can’t necessarily disagree with that, but it’d fail the equal protection clause, but then again, so does pretty much everything I advocate these days.

      So basically, the state could control those who can’t establish the minimum criteria of responsibility, but for the rest of us, it’s hands off? I like it. Let me ponder it some more.

      Would the state leave our money alone, too? Where would they get the tax revenue to administer the Idiot Bureau?

    5. Steve Nicoloso Says:

      Would the state leave our money alone, too? Where would they get the tax revenue to administer the Idiot Bureau?

      There is no reason being king (choose your favorite) should be a non-profit business. He has the right and duty to tax prudently for the common good. There exists a Nash equilibrium for taxation. The wise king (again choose your favorite) will find it. I personally would be happy to live under the regime run by AAPL (although I couldn’t abide their political opinions–which may yet change radically once they’re charged with Peace and Security vis-a-vis just neat gizmos). Apple seems to have found a very profitable balance between their prices (higher than normal) and the satisfaction of their “constituents” (also higher than normal).

      The richer and happier you get under the USG regime, the richer and happier will be USG (and her shareholders).

      As for the Idiot Bureau, every corporation has idiots. USG, under any incarnation, will not be an exception. It is the task of the king (or CEO) to minimize the waste caused by idiots–up to and including the complete elimination of underperforming (or useless) bureaus. Again, the profit motive is an excellent method of ensuring efficiency–and efficiency, while certainly not the highest good, is a nevertheless an excellent guide selecting between competing paths in the absence of clear moral teaching one way or the other.

      Imagine two CEOs: Steve Jobs and George W. Bush. Which one leans “left” on nearly every opinion? And which one leans “right”? And yet, which one has an actual track record of cutting waste and spurring growth? That’s right, the neo-Marxist. The supposed “rightist” on the other hand probably quadrupled the waste in his corporation while he was in charge.

      And to be fair I think, USG is not unprofitable because it hires idiots. With exception of certain “select” handouts clustered around the periphery of various departments, the USG tends to hire pretty smart folks. Unfortunately, it hires them to do things that USG need not (and probably ought not) do. Also unfortunately, they’re smart enough to look out for their own interests, which entails principally making sure that they appear indispensable.

      The USG is today so complicated that no CEO (electable at any rate), and certainly no US Senator, could possibly understand it. For that, they need well-educated, low-level bureaucrats, and more and ever more of them. And so the bureaucracy grows into own large and powerful interest group: which has no rational choice but to engineer an ever increasing transfer of wealth from the King’s less favored subjects to his more favored ones.

      Thus it is no accident that DC is rapidly gentrifying and its metro area is fast becoming the richest and most educated in America. This process did not start with Obama.

    6. Steve Nicoloso Says:

      Bad form, I suppose, to comment on ones own comment but here goes…

      And so the bureaucracy grows into own large and powerful interest group: which has no rational choice but to engineer an ever increasing transfer of wealth from the King’s less favored subjects to his more favored ones.

      And in the absence of negative feedback (which would be provided by a profit motive), the only equlibrium point in this game (i.e., of pure wealth transfer) is the financial destruction of the King’s less favored subjects, at which point… well we’re Zimbabwe.

      I mean I suppose the tale of every democracy can be viewed in that way: The amount of time between a) giving the “people” the power to tax; and b) them taxing themselves into complete financial (if not moral) desolation. The process is inexorable; it only remains to wonder how long it will take. If a long time, then you have a highly industrious and moral people; if a short time, then not.

    7. Daniel Latinus Says:

      The article on human trafficking makes me want to bring back impalement.

     

     

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