(Almost) Free Books

I have withdrawn my books from print publication so that I can make them available free to readers via Google Drive. You can read them online (if you have the requisite eyeball stamina) or print them at a fraction of the paperback price. Here are the links:

Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies

On Liberty: Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes

“We the People” and Other American Myths

Americana, Etc.: Language, Literature, Movies, Music, Sports, Nostalgia, Trivia, and a Dash of Humor

Low-priced Kindle editions are still available:

Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies ($0.99)

On Liberty: Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes ($0.99)

“We the People” and Other American Myths ($0.99)

Americana, Etc. ($1.99)

The Kindle books are free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Americana, Etc.

My latest book, Americana, Etc. — Language, Literature, Movies, Music, Sports, Nostalgia, Trivia, and a Dash of Humor, is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Americana, Etc., is Volume IV of the series Dispatches from the Fifth Circle. The first three volumes are

Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies

On Liberty: Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes

“We the People” and Other American Myths

There are links to and descriptions of Volumes I, II, and III in the four preceding posts.

Here’s some of the Introduction to Volume IV:

Volumes I, II, and III of this series are rather deep. It’s time for a break. The entries in this volume are sometimes serious, but the mood of the volume is light. It’s also rather random, jumping from baseball to movies to classical music to nostalgia, and so on.

I’ve included a long, final entry, “On Writing,” for want of a better venue. “On Writing” incorporates some of the ideas advanced in a few earlier entries, but it goes well beyond them. I commend it to you if you’re serious about becoming a better writer.

An annotated table of contents will give you an idea of the broad range of topics covered in Volume IV:

Political Parlance — A translation of words and phrases often used in politics.

Some Management Tips — A quiz to find out if you’re the pointy-haired boss.

Ten-Plus Commandments of Liberalism, er, Progressivism– What to believe if you want to be a good progressive (oxymoron alert).

Pet Peeves — The things that get my goat (and should get yours, too).

To Pay or Not to Pay — “Shakespeare” on taxes.

The Ghost of Impeachments Past Presents: The Trials of William Jefferson Whatsit — How Clinton’s impeachment trial should have gone.

The Good Old Days — Nostalgia.

Getting It Perfect — A satirical look at the Constitution’s amendments.

His Life as a Victim — Bill Clinton’s biography reviewed.

Modernism and the Arts — Why classical music and art went to the dogs in the 20th century.

Reveries — A remembrance of places past.

Thinking Back — The good and bad of technological change.

Thoughts of Winter — A selection of poetry for enjoying while sitting by the fire on a snowy evening.

Baseball Nostalgia — The Detroit Tigers “real” ballpark and great players.

Comix, Past and Present — The comic strips and books of my youth, some of which survive.

PC Madness — Why aren’t Norwegians up in arms about the Minnesota “Vikings”?

The Seven Faces of Blogging — A different take on Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man.”

Christmas Movies — The best of the bunch.

Mister Hockey — Gordie Howe beats Wayne Gretzky, hands down, and I have the numbers to prove it.

The Passing of Red-Brick Schoolhouses and a Way of Life — The end of the age of innocence.

My Old Sears Home — Sears used to sell houses, and I owned one of them.

Baseball Realignment — Adding spice to the game, cutting off the cold ends of the season.

Wordplay — The vagaries of English pronunciation in a few lines.

Nameplay — Fun facts about the waxing and waning popularity of first names, with some excursions into president’s names.

Pride and Prejudice on Film — My favorite version, and others.

September Songs — Autumnal melancholia.

Testing for Steroids — McGwire and Bonds, guilty by the numbers.

Baseball’s Losers — Three long-suffering franchises.

The War: A Final Grade — How to feel guilty about winning the “good” war.

Did Roger Do It? — Probably, but not by the numbers.

Stuff White (Liberal Yuppie) People Like — You’ll like it if you aren’t a white liberal yuppie.

Baseball and Groundhog Day — Arcane facts about baseball standings.

The Seven-Game World Series — Not as suspenseful as it could be.

Presidential Trivia — More arcana about names, heights, longevity, etc.

The American League’s Greatest Hitters — Was Ty Cobb really the greatest of them all?

Driving and Politics — What a person’s driving habits (might) say about his politics.

A Trip to the Movies — The quality of films over the decades, with some bows to the best.

Men’s Health — Remedying an oversight in this age of feminism.

Arm-Waving and Longevity — Do conductors really live longer, and is arm-waving the cause?

So, Who Made You Laugh? — A tribute to the many great Jewish comedians and comic actors whose performances I have enjoyed for almost seven decades.

Hopefully Arrives — Language debasement with a stamp of approval (not by me).

Why Prescriptivism? — The constructive role of language rules.

I’ve Got a Little List — My updating of Sir William S. Gilbert’s lyrics.

Speaking in Foreign Tongues — Why is it hard for adult Americans to speak foreign languages properly?

A Guide to the Pronunciation of General American English — For foreigners, Southerners, and New Englanders.

Home-Field Advantage — It’s real.

Looking Askance — Satirical takes on military strategy, cabinet positions, politicians’ memoirs, and public education.

Competitiveness in Major League Baseball — There’s a lot more of it than there used to be.

May the Best Team Lose — The meaninglessness of baseball’s post-season playoffs.

“Than I” or “Than Me”? — I have the answer.

The Hall of Fame Reconsidered — How to cull the riff-raff from baseball’s “shrine.”

On Writing — How to and how not to write right.

 

 

“We the People” and Other American Myths

My latest book is now available at Amazon.com

Book cover

Paperback edition: $14.95

Kindle edition $5.95

From the Preface:

I decided to title this volume “We the People” and Other American Myths because there are so many misconceptions about the governance of the United States, beginning with the fable that the Constitution is somehow a product of “the people.” Following closely upon that myth is the be-lief that the Supreme Court — which has violated the Constitution countless times — is the final and sole interpreter of its meaning.

Two other myths that I address in this volume are the illegality of secession and the idea that secession is “bad” be-cause it’s associated with the defense of slavery. Secession is legal, and the South had good reason to secede, other than a desire to preserve slavery.

Also addressed:

• the constitutionality of the sacred cow known as Social Security

• freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and privacy as absolute rights under the Constitution

• feel-good attitudes, such as nation = society, active presidents are great presidents, and democracy is to die for.

There’s much more packed into the 49 essays comprised in the volume.

On Liberty: Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes

My new book is now available at Amazon.com,

in paperback or on Kindle.

On_Liberty_Cover_for_Kindle

The paperback version is priced much too high at $16.95, though it’s just above the minimum dictated by Amazon. The Kindle edition is only $6.95.

What’s in it? An introductory chapter and 56 essays drawn from posts at Politics & Prosperity and Liberty Corner.

Here’s the text of the introductory chapter, “What Lies Ahead” (1. INTRODUCTION, 2. UNDERSTANDING LIBERTY, etc., refer to the five parts into which the book is divided):

1. INTRODUCTION

The next two essays are “A Declaration and Defense of My Prejudices about Governance” and “Parsing Political Philosophy.” “A Declaration…” tells you where I’m coming from, if you haven’t already figured it out by reading the first volume, the preface to this one, or this introductory essay. “Parsing…” details my political philosophy (right-minarchism), puts it in perspective, and presages much of what follows in Parts 2 — 5 of this volume.

2. UNDERSTANDING LIBERTY

I begin Part 2 with essays which argue that liberty is a product of social intercourse, not abstract principles, and certainly not ratiocination. Liberty is a modus vivendi, not the result of a rational political scheme. Though a rational political scheme, such as the one laid out in the Constitution of the United States, could promote liberty.

The key to a libertarian modus vivendi is the evolutionary development and widespread observance of social norms that foster peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. And that is liberty. The state’s sole legitimate role, other than procedural ones (e.g., the administration of voting) is the defense of liberty from foreign and domestic predators.

Is my claim that liberty is a modus vivendi based on social norms an endorsement of moral relativism? It is not, as I explain. There is also much in Part 2 about civil society, the institutions of which (family, church, club, etc.) are the keepers and transmitters of social norms. The second part also addresses the relation of liberty to science, religion, and democracy. There are several essays on the state of liberty in America (and many more in Volume I [my previous book]).

3. RIGHTS: NEGATIVE, POSITIVE, AND “NATURAL”

Liberty enables a person to exercise rights, which are the subject of Part 3. Those rights derive from social norms, which set the boundaries of permissible behavior. Social norms arise from the operation of the Golden Rule. Rights are “natural” only in the sense that they result naturally from social intercourse; they are not mysterious essences that inhere in human beings.

In a regime of liberty, rights are negative rather than positive; that is, they oblige others (including the state) to leave a person alone when his behavior is within the boundaries established by voluntarily evolved social norms. Positive rights, by contrast, entitle certain identifiable groups to benefits, the costs of which must be defrayed by everyone else. This is a fool’s game, of course, because it spurs the creation of additional positive rights for yet other groups, leaving almost everyone in the position of paying, indirectly, for benefits received. But it’s not a zero-sum game because the “house” — government — rakes in a percentage of the take.

4. LIBERTARIANISM, TRUE AND FALSE

In Part 4, I explain why traditional conservatism is true libertarianism. I also detail the vacuousness and fatuousness of the doctrines that commonly pass for libertarianism, anarchism among them.

Standard leave-me-alone libertarianism (based on the harm principle) is a form of rationalism: an undue reliance on pure reason, without regard for the realities of nature and human nature. Rationalists are fond of conjuring “perfect” political arrangements that simply won’t work.

Part 4 also exposes the essential authoritarianism of some so-called libertarians — oxymoronically called left-libertarians — who are intolerant of liberty when it yields the “wrong” results. In that respect, many so-called libertarians are like modern liberals (i.e., leftists). So, I end the Part 4 with some essays that trace the descent of modern liberalism from classical liberalism, and illuminate the parallels between modern liberalism and the “libertarian” left. (The sins of modern liberalism are treated at length in Volume I.)

5. SOME MORE “ISMs”

The final part explores Objectivism, anarchism, utilitarianism, and fascism. (I will tackle another prominent and relevant “ism” — “libertarian” paternalism — in a later volume.)

I address Objectivism because it is often confused with standard leave-me-alone libertarianism. Objectivism is a cult whose members swear fealty to “reality,” in the name of an unrealistic, sophomoric philosophy. It might as well be standard leave-me-alone libertarianism.

As long as I’m writing about unrealistic, sophomoric philosophy, there’s anarchism. I address it fleetingly in Parts 1 – 4. I return to it in Part 5 just to drive home my arguments against it.

Utilitarianism isn’t to be confused with consequentialism, which simply holds that liberty and its concomitant, negative rights, are desired (and thus desirable) because of the superior social and economic consequences of peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. (Liberty is desired and desirable on its own account, of course.) Utilitarians are wont to evaluate social and economic policies from the standpoint of a dictatorial actor (though utilitarians don’t seem to grasp this implication of their practice). The conceit of utilitarianism is the (implied or express) existence a social-welfare function which (somehow) sums the happiness and unhappiness of a relevant portion of humanity (the portion in which a utilitarian is interested). A policy or program is favored if it yields a greater sum of happiness (“the greatest amount of happiness altogether”), even if that greater sum includes a rise in A’s happiness at the expense of B (who is unlikely to be amused by the outcome).

Finally, I come to fascism, which seems to be the inevitable fate of representative democracies. Popular imagery to the contrary notwithstanding, fascism isn’t jack-booted despotism; rather:

Fascism is a system in which the government leaves nominal ownership of the means of production in the hands of private individuals but exercises control by means of regulatory legislation and reaps most of the profit by means of heavy taxation. In effect, fascism is simply a more subtle form of government ownership than is socialism. Under fascism, producers are allowed to keep a nominal title to their possessions and to bear all the risks involved in entrepreneurship, while the government has most of the actual control and gets a great deal of the profit (and takes none of the risks). The U.S.A. is moving increasingly away from a free-market economy and toward fascist totalitarianism. [Linda and Morris Tannehill, The Market for Liberty, p. 18]

Fascism usually is described as a right-wing phenomenon, but with respect to liberty there’s no difference between the extreme right and the extreme left. They are merely different manifestations of despotism. In the United States, fascism takes the form of a “soft” despotism, one that is outwardly benign, but which suppresses liberty nonetheless.

The arrival of American fascism (“soft” despotism, if you prefer) was inevitable because representative democracy empowers government to act on behalf of “the people.” But government can do so only by stripping power from the people through taxation and regulation. Politicians hold onto their power by seeming to deliver special benefits to various segments of the populace.

That the benefits are largely illusory, as discussed earlier, matters little. The benefits are visible (to those who receive them), while the tax and regulatory burdens are diffuse. And so, “the people” keep asking for more, and the state keeps spending, taxing, and regulating to deliver it.

Thus does democracy destroy liberty.

On that cheery note…

Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies

NOW AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK — ONLY $4.95.

On sale now at Amazon.com (excerpts below):

Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies

Excerpts:

Preface

This is a retired blogger’s version of John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua. It may seem immodest of me to suggest intellectual kinship with Cardinal Newman, but bloggers aren’t modest. If they were, they wouldn’t expose their innermost thoughts to the world.

It’s true that many bloggers choose to remain anonymous. But that doesn’t diminish their immodesty — or their credibility. Ideas should be judged on their own merits, not by their author’s reputation or rank.

If Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay chose to remain anonymous (to all but a few keen observers) when they wrote as Publius to urge ratification of the Constitution, why can’t a blogger emulate them in urging policies that would restore constitutional governance (as I do in many of my posts)?…

 *     *     *

Goodbye, Mr. Pitts

Politics & Prosperity, August 30, 2009

When I lived in the D.C. area and subscribed to The Washington Post, I occasionally read a column by Leonard Pitts Jr. This masochistic practice served two purposes. First, it exercised my cardiovascular system (i.e., raised my heart rate and blood pressure). Second, it helped me to keep up with what passes for wisdom among the race-card-playing set.

Mr. Pitts, who is a syndicated columnist operating out of The Miami Herald, comes by his race-card-playing naturally, as a black and — given his age (about 50) — a likely beneficiary of reverse discrimination (a.k.a. affirmative action). I should note that Pitts plays the race-card game clumsily, probably because his mental warehouse is stocked with gross generalizations and logical fallacies.

I was provoked to write this post by a recent Pitts column, to which I will come, where (in passing) he defends the socialization of medicine because other things also have been socialized. By that logic, Pitts would excuse the murder of his wife because millions of murders already have been committed….

 *     *    *

Our Miss Brooks

Politics & Prosperity, October 1, 2010

Some time back, Tom Smith of The Right Coast referred to the NYT columnist and pseudo-conservative David Brooks as “prissy little Miss Brooks.” Smith’s recycling of the appellation has not diminished its satirical effect — or its substantive accuracy.

Miss Brooks recently cringed when she contemplated an America without government, in the aftermath of a victorious Tea Party movement. Miss Brooks, it seems, is besotted with the manliness of limited-but-energetic governments

that used aggressive [emphasis added] federal power to promote growth and social mobility. George Washington used industrial policy, trade policy and federal research dollars to build a manufacturing economy alongside the agricultural one….

  *     *     *

Intellectuals and Society: A Review

Politics & Prosperity, December 8, 2010

Thomas Sowell‘s Intellectuals and Society is a rewarding and annoying book.

The book is rewarding because it adds to the thick catalog of left-wing sins that Sowell has compiled and explicated in his long career as a public intellectual. When Sowell criticizes the anti-gun, soft-on-crime, peace-at-any-price, tax-spend-and-regulate crowd, he does it by rubbing their noses in the facts and figures about the messes that have been created by the policies they have promoted….

The left’s essential agenda is the repudiation of ordered liberty of the kind that arises from evolved social norms, and the replacement of that liberty by sugar-coated oppression. The bread and circuses of imperial Rome have nothing on Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, and the many other forms of personal and corporate welfare that are draining America of its wealth and élan. All of that “welfare” has been bought at the price of economic and social liberty, which are indivisible.

Leftists like to say that there is a difference between opposition and disloyalty. But, in the case of the left, opposition arises from a fundamental kind of disloyalty. For, at bottom, the left pursues its agenda because it hates the idea of what America used to stand for: liberty with responsibility, strength against foreign and domestic enemies.

Most leftists are simply shallow-minded trend-followers, who believe in the power of government to do things that are “good,” “fair,” or “compassionate,” with no regard for the costs and consequences of those things. Shallow leftists know not what they do. But they do it. And their shallowness does not excuse them for having been accessories to the diminution of America. A rabid dog may not know that it is rabid, but its bite is no less lethal for that.

The leaders of the left — the office-holders, pundits, and intelligentsia — usually pay lip-service to “goodness,” “fairness,” and “compassion.” But their lip-service fails to conceal their brutal betrayal of liberty. Their subtle and not-so-subtle treason is despicable almost beyond words. But not quite….

 *     *    *

Social Justice

Politics & Prosperity, February 12, 2011

The proximate cause of this post is a column by Nicholas Kristof, “Equality, a True Soul Food“ (The New York Times, January 1, 2011 ), in which Kristof pleads for less income inequality in the United States. His plea is based, in part, on the premise that persons of low status suffer because they envy persons of higher status (an assertion that’s based on research about monkeys)….

There is no theoretical or factual argument for income redistribution that cannot be met by a superior theoretical or factual argument against it. In the end, the case for (somehow) reducing income inequality turns on an emotional appeal for “social justice,” that is, for reshaping the world in a way that pleases the pleader. As if the pleader — in his or her pure, misguided arrogance — has superior wisdom about how the world should be shaped….

 *     *    *

In Defense of Wal-Mart

Politics & Prosperity, June 24, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court’s finding for Wal-Mart in the case of Wal-Mart v. Dukes predictably set off a storm of criticism by Wal-Mart’s critics, who are legion. Those critics, predictably, are mainly upper-middle class professionals who do not shop at Wal-Mart, would not work at Wal-Mart, and fastidiously scorn the politics and religion of those who do shop and work at Wal-Mart….

I have news for Yuppies and other critics of Wal-Mart. There are no goon squads dragging unwilling people in from the streets to work in Wal-Mart stores. There are no Wal-Mart employees caged in their work areas. There are no secret prisons in Arkansas where they send Wal-Mart employees who elect to move on to more highly compensated jobs at other companies….

 *     *    *

The Culture War

Politics & Prosperity, November 26, 2013

“Culture war” is a familiar term, but one that I hadn’t thought deeply about until a few days ago. I read something about abortion in which “culture war” occurred. The fog lifted, and I grasped what should have been obvious to me all along: The “culture war” isn’t about “culture,” it’s about morality and liberty….

“Thanks” to the signals sent by the state — many of them in the form of legislative, executive, and judicial dictates — we now have not just easy divorce, subsidized illegitimacy, and legions of non-mothering mothers, but also abortion, concerted (and deluded ) efforts to defeminize females and to neuter or feminize males, forced association (with accompanying destruction of property and employment rights), suppression of religion, absolution of pornography, and the encouragement of “alternative lifestyles” that feature disease, promiscuity, and familial instability….

 *     *    *

Defending the Offensive

Politics & Prosperity, August 4, 2015

An image of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is displayed prominently in the sidebar of my blog. I do not display the flag to defend it, as one reader suggests. As I say in the text that accompanies the image of the flag, I display it to symbolize my hope for deliverance from an oppressive national government (the present one) and to signify my opposition to political correctness (of the kind that can’t tolerate the display of the flag for any purpose).

I certainly do not display the flag to defend the Confederacy’s central cause: the preservation of slavery…. But I do defend the legality of secession, as a constitutional right of States. Nor does the display signify racism on my part, because I am not racist. Clicking on the flag takes the reader to my “moral profile,” where the last entry strongly supports my claim of race-neutrality….

A lot of people just want to be offended, and they look for ways of achieving their aim. Take the controversies about the use of “niggardly.”…

Symbols of the Confederacy are the new “niggardly,” but on a grander scale. As suddenly and pervasively as the hula-hoop craze of the 1950s — and mainly because of a single act of violence in Charleston — it has become de rigeur to condemn persons, places, and things associated with the Confederacy. This is nothing but hysterical nonsense….

Clearly, the culture war has entered a new and dangerous phase, reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao.

Politics & Prosperity in Print

I am drawing on my best posts (see “A Summing Up“) to produce a series called Dispatches from the Fifth Circle. The first volume — Leftism, Political Correctness, and Other Lunacies — is available at Amazon.com.

I’m working on the second volume — Impossible Dreams, Utopian Schemes — and hope to publish six more after that one.

A Summing Up

I started blogging in the late 1990s with a home page that I dubbed Liberty Corner (reconstructed here). I maintained the home page until 2000. When the urge to resume blogging became irresistible in 2004, I created the Blogspot version of Liberty Corner, where I blogged until May 2008.

My weariness with “serious” blogging led to the creation of Americana, Etc., “A blog about baseball, history, humor, language, literature, movies, music, nature, nostalgia, philosophy, psychology, and other (mostly) apolitical subjects.” I began that blog in July 2008 and posted there sporadically until September 2013.

But I couldn’t resist commenting on political, economic, and social issues, so I established Politics & Prosperity in February 2009. My substantive outpourings ebbed and flowed, until August 2015, when I hit a wall.

Now, almost two decades and more than 3,000 posts since my blogging debut, I am taking another rest from blogging — perhaps a permanent rest.

Instead of writing a valedictory essay, I chose what I consider to be the best of my blogging, and assigned each of my choices to one of fifteen broad topics. (Many of the selections belong under more than one heading, but I avoided repetition for the sake of brevity.) You may jump directly to any of the fifteen topics by clicking on one of these links:

Posts are listed in chronological order under each heading. If you are looking for a post on a particular subject, begin with the more recent posts and work your way backward in time, by moving up the list or using the “related posts” links that are included in most of my posts.

Your explorations may lead you to posts that no longer represent my views. This is especially the case with respect to John Stuart Mill’s “harm principle,” which figures prominently in my early dissertations on libertarianism, but which I have come to see as shallow and lacking in prescriptive power. Thus my belief that true libertarianism is traditional conservatism. (For more, see “On Liberty and Libertarianism” in the sidebar and many of the posts under “X. Libertarianism and Other Political Philosophies.”)

The following list of “bests” comprises about 700 entries, which is less than a fourth of my blogging output. I also commend to you my “Not-So-Random Thoughts” series — I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI — and “The Tenor of the Times.”

I. The Academy, Intellectuals, and the Left
Like a Fish in Water
Why So Few Free-Market Economists?
Academic Bias
Intellectuals and Capitalism
“Intellectuals and Society”: A Review
The Left’s Agenda
We, the Children of the Enlightenment
The Left and Its Delusions
The Spoiled Children of Capitalism
Politics, Sophistry, and the Academy
Subsidizing the Enemies of Liberty
The Culture War
Ruminations on the Left in America
The Euphemism Conquers All
Defending the Offensive

*****

II. Affirmative Action, Race, and Immigration
Affirmative Action: A Modest Proposal
After the Bell Curve
A Footnote . . .
Schelling and Segregation
Illogic from the Pro-Immigration Camp
Affirmative Action: Two Views from the Academy, Revisited
Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
Evolution and Race
“Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
Nature, Nurture, and Inequality

*****

III. Americana, Etc.: Movies, Music, Nature, Nostalgia, Sports, and Trivia
Speaking of Modern Art
Making Sense about Classical Music
An Addendum about Classical Music
Reveries
My Views on Classical Music, Vindicated
But It’s Not Music
Mister Hockey
Testing for Steroids
Explaining a Team’s W-L Record
The American League’s Greatest Hitters
The American League’s Greatest Hitters: Part II
Conducting, Baseball, and Longevity
Who Shot JFK, and Why?
The Passing of Red Brick Schoolhouses and a Way of Life
Baseball: The King of Team Sports
May the Best Team Lose
All-Time Hitter-Friendly Ballparks (With Particular Attention to Tiger Stadium)
A Trip to the Movies
Another Trip to the Movies
The Hall of Fame Reconsidered
Facts about Presidents (a reference page)

*****

IV. The Constitution and the Rule of Law
Unintended Irony from a Few Framers
Social Security Is Unconstitutional
What Is the Living Constitution?
The Legality of Teaching Intelligent Design
The Legality of Teaching Intelligent Design: Part II
Law, Liberty, and Abortion
An Answer to Judicial Supremacy?
Final (?) Words about Preemption and the Constitution
More Final (?) Words about Preemption and the Constitution
Who Are the Parties to the Constitutional Contract?
The Slippery Slope of Constitutional Revisionism
The Ruinous Despotism of Democracy
How to Think about Secession
Secession
A New, New Constitution
Secession Redux
A Declaration of Independence
First Principles
The Constitution: Original Meaning, Corruption, and Restoration
The Unconstitutionality of the Individual Mandate
Does the Power to Tax Give Congress Unlimited Power?
Does Congress Have the Power to Regulate Inactivity?
Substantive Due Process and the Limits of Privacy
The Southern Secession Reconsidered
Abortion and the Fourteenth Amendment
Obamacare: Neither Necessary nor Proper
Privacy Is Not Sacred
Our Perfect, Perfect Constitution
Reclaiming Liberty throughout the Land
Obamacare, Slopes, Ratchets, and the Death-Spiral of Liberty
Another Thought or Two about the Obamacare Decision
Secession for All Seasons
Restoring Constitutional Government: The Way Ahead
“We the People” and Big Government
How Libertarians Ought to Think about the Constitution
Abortion Rights and Gun Rights
The States and the Constitution
Getting “Equal Protection” Right
How to Protect Property Rights and Freedom of Association and Expression
The Principles of Actionable Harm
Judicial Supremacy: Judicial Tyranny
Does the Power to Tax Give Congress Unlimited Power? (II)
The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America
Substantive Due Process, Liberty of Contract, and States’ “Police Power”
U.S. Supreme Court: Lines of Succession (a reference page)

*****

V. Economics: Principles and Issues
Economics: A Survey (a reference page that gives an organized tour of relevant posts, many of which are also listed below)
Fear of the Free Market — Part I
Fear of the Free Market — Part II
Fear of the Free Market — Part III
Trade Deficit Hysteria
Why We Deserve What We Earn
Who Decides Who’s Deserving?
The Main Causes of Prosperity
That Mythical, Magical Social Security Trust Fund
Social Security, Myth and Reality
Nonsense and Sense about Social Security
More about Social Security
Social Security Privatization and the Stock Market
Oh, That Mythical Trust Fund!
The Real Meaning of the National Debt
Socialist Calculation and the Turing Test
Social Security: The Permanent Solution
The Social Welfare Function
Libertarian Paternalism
A Libertarian Paternalist’s Dream World
Talk Is Cheap
Giving Back to the Community
The Short Answer to Libertarian Paternalism
Second-Guessing, Paternalism, Parentalism, and Choice
Another Thought about Libertarian Paternalism
Why Government Spending Is Inherently Inflationary
Ten Commandments of Economics
More Commandments of Economics
Capitalism, Liberty, and Christianity
Risk and Regulation
Back-Door Paternalism
Liberty, General Welfare, and the State
Another Voice Against the New Paternalism
Monopoly and the General Welfare
The Causes of Economic Growth
Slippery Paternalists
The Importance of Deficits
It’s the Spending, Stupid!
There’s More to Income than Money
Science, Axioms, and Economics
Mathematical Economics
The Last(?) Word about Income Inequality
Why “Net Neutrality” Is a Bad Idea
The Feds and “Libertarian Paternalism”
The Anti-Phillips Curve
Status, Spite, Envy, and Income Redistribution
Economics: The Dismal (Non) Science
A Further Note about “Libertarian” Paternalism
Apropos Paternalism
Where’s My Nobel?
Toward a Capital Theory of Value
The Laffer Curve, “Fiscal Responsibility,” and Economic Growth
Stability Isn’t Everything
Income and Diminishing Marginal Utility
What Happened to Personal Responsibility?
The Causes of Economic Growth
Economic Growth since WWII
A Short Course in Economics
Addendum to a Short Course in Economics
Monopoly: Private Is Better than Public
The “Big Five” and Economic Performance
Does the Minimum Wage Increase Unemployment?
Rationing and Health Care
The Perils of Nannyism: The Case of Obamacare
More about the Perils of Obamacare
Health-Care Reform: The Short of It
Trade
Toward a Risk-Free Economy
Enough of “Social Welfare”
A True Flat Tax
The Case of the Purblind Economist
How the Great Depression Ended
Why Outsourcing Is Good: A Simple Lesson for “Liberal” Yuppies
Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
The Illusion of Prosperity and Stability
The Deficit Commission’s Deficit of Understanding
“Buy Local”
“Net Neutrality”
The Bowles-Simpson Report
The Bowles-Simpson Band-Aid
Competition Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word
Subjective Value: A Proof by Example
The Stagnation Thesis
Taxing the Rich
More about Taxing the Rich
Money, Credit, and Economic Fluctuations
A Keynesian Fantasy Land
“Tax Expenditures” Are Not Expenditures
The Keynesian Fallacy and Regime Uncertainty
Does “Pent Up” Demand Explain the Post-War Recovery?
Creative Destruction, Reification, and Social Welfare
What Free-Rider Problem?
Why the “Stimulus” Failed to Stimulate
The Arrogance of (Some) Economists
The “Jobs Speech” That Obama Should Have Given
Say’s Law, Government, and Unemployment
Regime Uncertainty and the Great Recession
Regulation as Wishful Thinking
Extreme Economism
We Owe It to Ourselves
In Defense of the 1%
Lay My (Regulatory) Burden Down
Irrational Rationality
The Burden of Government
Economic Growth Since World War II
The Rationing Fallacy
Government in Macroeconomic Perspective
Keynesianism: Upside-Down Economics in the Collectivist Cause
How High Should Taxes Be?
The 80-20 Rule, Illustrated
Economic Horror Stories: The Great “Demancipation” and Economic Stagnation
Baseball Statistics and the Consumer Price Index
Why Are Interest Rates So Low?
Vulgar Keynesianism and Capitalism
America’s Financial Crisis Is Now
“Ensuring America’s Freedom of Movement”: A Review
“Social Insurance” Isn’t Insurance — Nor Is Obamacare
The Keynesian Multiplier: Phony Math
The True Multiplier
Discounting in the Public Sector
Some Inconvenient Facts about Income Inequality
Mass (Economic) Hysteria: Income Inequality and Related Themes
Social Accounting: A Tool of Social Engineering
Alienation
Playing the Social Security Trust Fund Shell Game
Income Inequality and Economic Growth
A Case for Redistribution, Not Made
McCloskey on Piketty
The Rahn Curve Revisited
The Slow-Motion Collapse of the Economy
Nature, Nurture, and Inequality
Understanding Investment Bubbles
The Real Burden of Government
Diminishing Marginal Utility and the Redistributive Urge
Capitalism, Competition, Prosperity, and Happiness
Further Thoughts about the Keynesian Multiplier

*****

VI. Humor, Satire, and Wry Commentary
Political Parlance
Some Management Tips
Ten-Plus Commandments of Liberalism, er, Progressivism
To Pay or Not to Pay
The Ghost of Impeachments Past Presents “The Trials of William Jefferson Whatsit”
Getting It Perfect
His Life As a Victim
Bah, Humbug!
PC Madness
The Seven Faces of Blogging
DWI
Wordplay
Trans-Gendered Names
More Names
Stuff White (Liberal Yuppie) People Like
Driving and Politics
“Men’s Health”
I’ve Got a LIttle List
Driving and Politics (2)
A Sideways Glance at Military Strategy
A Sideways Glance at the Cabinet
A Sideways Glance at Politicians’ Memoirs
The Madness Continues

*****

VII. Infamous Thinkers and Political Correctness
Sunstein at the Volokh Conspiracy
More from Sunstein
Cass Sunstein’s Truly Dangerous Mind
An (Imaginary) Interview with Cass Sunstein
Professor Krugman Flunks Economics
Peter Singer’s Fallacy
Slippery Sunstein
Sunstein and Executive Power
Nock Reconsidered
In Defense of Ann Coulter
Goodbye, Mr. Pitts
Our Miss Brooks
How to Combat Beauty-ism
The Politically Correct Cancer: Another Weapon in the War on Straight White Males
Asymmetrical (Ideological) Warfare
Social Justice
Peter Presumes to Preach
More Social Justice
Luck-Egalitarianism and Moral Luck
Empathy Is Overrated
In Defense of Wal-Mart
An Economist’s Special Pleading: Affirmative Action for the Ugly
Another Entry in the Sunstein Saga
Obesity and Statism (Richard Posner)
Obama’s Big Lie
The Sunstein Effect Is Alive and Well in the White House
Political Correctness vs. Civility
IQ, Political Correctness, and America’s Present Condition
Sorkin’s Left-Wing Propaganda Machine
Baseball or Soccer? David Brooks Misunderstands Life
Sunstein the Fatuous
Tolerance
Good Riddance
The Gaystapo at Work
The Gaystapo and Islam
The Perpetual Nudger

*****

VIII. Intelligence and Psychology
Conservatism, Libertarianism, and “The Authoritarian Personality”
The F Scale, Revisited
The Psychologist Who Played God
Intelligence, Personality, Politics, and Happiness
Intelligence as a Dirty Word
Intelligence and Intuition
Nonsense about Presidents, IQ, and War
IQ, Political Correctness, and America’s Present Condition
Alienation
Greed, Conscience, and Big Government
Tolerance
Privilege, Power, and Hypocrisy

*****

IX. Justice
I’ll Never Understand the Insanity Defense
Does Capital Punishment Deter Homicide?
Libertarian Twaddle about the Death Penalty
A Crime Is a Crime
Crime and Punishment
Abortion and Crime
Saving the Innocent?
Saving the Innocent?: Part II
A Useful Precedent
More on Abortion and Crime
More Punishment Means Less Crime
More About Crime and Punishment
More Punishment Means Less Crime: A Footnote
Clear Thinking about the Death Penalty
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
Cell Phones and Driving: Liberty vs. Life
Another Argument for the Death Penalty
Less Punishment Means More Crime
Crime, Explained
Clear Thinking about the Death Penalty
What Is Justice?
Myopic Moaning about the War on Drugs
Saving the Innocent
Why Stop at the Death Penalty?
A Case for Perpetual Copyrights and Patents
The Least Evil Option
Legislating Morality
Legislating Morality (II)
Round Up the Usual Suspects
Left-Libertarians, Obama, and the Zimmerman Case
Free Will, Crime, and Punishment
Stop, Frisk, and Save Lives
Poverty, Crime, and Big Government
Crime Revisited
A Cop-Free World?

*****

X. Libertarianism and Other Political Philosophies
The Roots of Statism in the United States
Libertarian-Conservatives Are from the Earth, Liberals Are from the Moon
Modern Utilitarianism
The State of Nature
Libertarianism and Conservatism
Judeo-Christian Values and Liberty
Redefining Altruism
Fundamentalist Libertarians, Anarcho-Capitalists, and Self-Defense
Where Do You Draw the Line?
Moral Issues
A Paradox for Libertarians
A Non-Paradox for Libertarians
Religion and Liberty
Science, Evolution, Religion, and Liberty
Whose Incompetence Do You Trust?
Enough of Altruism
Thoughts That Liberals Should Be Thinking
More Thoughts That Liberals Should Be Thinking
The Corporation and the State
Libertarianism and Preemptive War: Part II
Anarchy: An Empty Concept
The Paradox of Libertarianism
Privacy: Variations on the Theme of Liberty
The Fatal Naïveté of Anarcho-Libertarianism
Liberty as a Social Construct
This Is Objectivism?
Social Norms and Liberty (a reference page)
Social Norms and Liberty (a followup post)A Footnote about Liberty and the Social Compact
The Adolescent Rebellion Syndrome
Liberty and Federalism
Finding Liberty
Nock Reconsidered
The Harm Principle
Footnotes to “The Harm Principle”
The Harm Principle, Again
Rights and Cosmic Justice
Liberty, Human Nature, and the State
Idiotarian Libertarians and the Non-Aggression Principle
Slopes, Ratchets, and the Death Spiral of Liberty
Postive Rights and Cosmic Justice: Part I
Positive Rights and Cosmic Justice: Part II
The Case against Genetic Engineering
Positive Rights and Cosmic Justice: Part III
A Critique of Extreme Libertarianism
Libertarian Whining about Cell Phones and Driving
The Golden Rule, for Libertarians
Positive Rights and Cosmic Justice: Part IV
Anarchistic Balderdash
Compare and Contrast
Irrationality, Suboptimality, and Voting
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong
The Political Case for Traditional Morality
Compare and Contrast, Again
Pascal’s Wager, Morality, and the State
The Fear of Consequentialism
Optimality, Liberty, and the Golden Rule
The People’s Romance
Objectivism: Tautologies in Search of Reality
Morality and Consequentialism
On Liberty
Greed, Cosmic Justice, and Social Welfare
Positive Rights and Cosmic Justice
Fascism with a “Friendly” Face
Democracy and Liberty
The Interest-Group Paradox
Inventing “Liberalism”
Civil Society and Homosexual “Marriage”
What Is Conservatism?
Utilitarianism vs. Liberty
Fascism and the Future of America
The Indivisibility of Economic and Social Liberty
Law and Liberty
Negative Rights
Negative Rights, Social Norms, and the Constitution
Tocqueville’s Prescience
Accountants of the Soul
Invoking Hitler
The Unreality of Objectivism
“Natural Rights” and Consequentialism
Rawls Meets Bentham
The Left
Our Enemy, the State
Pseudo-Libertarian Sophistry vs. True Libertarianism
What Are “Natural Rights”?
The Golden Rule and the State
Libertarian Conservative or Conservative Libertarian?
Bounded Liberty: A Thought Experiment
Evolution, Human Nature, and “Natural Rights”
More Pseudo-Libertarianism
The Meaning of Liberty
Positive Liberty vs. Liberty
On Self-Ownership and Desert
Understanding Hayek
Corporations, Unions, and the State
Facets of Liberty
Burkean Libertarianism
Rights: Source, Applicability, How Held
What Is Libertarianism?
Nature Is Unfair
True Libertarianism, One More Time
Human Nature, Liberty, and Rationalism
Utilitarianism and Psychopathy
A Declaration and Defense of My Prejudices about Governance
Libertarianism and Morality
Libertarianism and Morality: A Footnote
What Is Bleeding-Heart Libertarianism?
Liberty, Negative Rights, and Bleeding Hearts
Cato, the Kochs, and a Fluke
Why Conservatism Works
A Man for No Seasons
Bleeding-Heart Libertarians = Left-Statists
Not Guilty of Libertarian Purism
Liberty and Society
Tolerance on the Left
The Eclipse of “Old America”
Genetic Kinship and Society
Liberty as a Social Construct: Moral Relativism?
Defending Liberty against (Pseudo) Libertarians
The Fallacy of the Reverse-Mussolini Fallacy
Defining Liberty
Getting It Almost Right
The Social Animal and the “Social Contract”
The Futile Search for “Natural Rights”
The Pseudo-Libertarian Temperament
Parsing Political Philosophy (II)
Modern Liberalism as Wishful Thinking
Getting Liberty Wrong
Romanticizing the State
Libertarianism and the State
Egoism and Altruism
My View of Libertarianism
Sober Reflections on “Charlie Hebdo”
“The Great Debate”: Not So Great
No Wonder Liberty Is Disappearing
The Principles of Actionable Harm
More About Social Norms and Liberty

*****

XI. Politics, Politicians, and the Consequences of Government
Starving the Beast
Torture and Morality
Starving the Beast, Updated
Starving the Beast: Readings
Presidential Legacies
The Rational Voter?
FDR and Fascism
The “Southern Strategy”
An FDR Reader
The “Southern Strategy”: A Postscript
The Modern Presidency: A Tour of American History
Politicizing Economic Growth
The End of Slavery in the United States
I Want My Country Back
What Happened to the Permanent Democrat Majority?
More about the Permanent Democrat Majority
Undermining the Free Society
Government Failure: An Example
The Public-School Swindle
PolitiFact Whiffs on Social Security
The Destruction of Society in the Name of “Society”
About Democracy
Externalities and Statism
Taxes: Theft or Duty?
Society and the State
Don’t Use the “S” Word When the “F” Word Will Do
The Capitalist Paradox Meets the Interest-Group Paradox
Is Taxation Slavery?
A Contrarian View of Universal Suffrage
The Hidden Tragedy of the Assassination of Lincoln
America: Past, Present, and Future
IQ, Political Correctness, and America’s Present Condition
Progressive Taxation Is Alive and Well in the U.S. of A.
“Social Insurance” Isn’t Insurance — Nor Is Obamacare
“We the People” and Big Government
The Culture War
The Fall and Rise of American Empire
O Tempora O Mores!
Presidential Treason
A Home of One’s Own
The Criminality and Psychopathy of Statism
Surrender? Hell No!
Social Accounting: A Tool of Social Engineering
Playing the Social Security Trust Fund Shell Game
Two-Percent Tyranny
A Sideways Glance at Public “Education”
Greed, Conscience, and Big Government
The Many-Sided Curse of Very Old Age
The Slow-Motion Collapse of the Economy
How to Eradicate the Welfare State, and How Not to Do It
“Blue Wall” Hype
Does Obama Love America?
Obamanomics in Action
Democracy, Human Nature, and the Future of America
1963: The Year Zero

*****

XII. Science, Religion, and Philosophy
Same Old Story, Same Old Song and Dance
Atheism, Religion, and Science
The Limits of Science
Beware of Irrational Atheism
The Creation Model
Free Will: A Proof by Example?
Science in Politics, Politics in Science
Evolution and Religion
Science, Evolution, Religion, and Liberty
What’s Wrong with Game Theory
Is “Nothing” Possible?
Pseudo-Science in the Service of Political Correctness
Science’s Anti-Scientific Bent
Flow
Science, Axioms, and Economics
The Purpose-Driven Life
The Tenth Dimension
The Universe . . . Four Possibilities
Atheism, Religion, and Science Redux
“Warmism”: The Myth of Anthropogenic Global Warming
More Evidence against Anthropogenic Global Warming
Yet More Evidence against Anthropogenic Global Warming
Pascal’s Wager, Morality, and the State
Achilles and the Tortoise: A False Paradox
The Greatest Mystery
Modeling Is Not Science
Freedom of Will and Political Action
Fooled by Non-Randomness
Randomness Is Over-Rated
Anthropogenic Global Warming Is Dead, Just Not Buried Yet
Beware the Rare Event
Landsburg Is Half-Right
What Is Truth?
The Improbability of Us
Wrong Again
More Thoughts about Evolutionary Teleology
A Digression about Probability and Existence
Evolution and the Golden Rule
A Digression about Special Relativity
More about Probability and Existence
Existence and Creation
Probability, Existence, and Creation
Temporal and Spatial Agreement
In Defense of Subjectivism
The Atheism of the Gaps
The Ideal as a False and Dangerous Standard
Demystifying Science
Religion on the Left
Analysis for Government Decision-Making: Hemi-Science, Hemi-Demi-Science, and Sophistry
Scientism, Evolution, and the Meaning of Life
Luck and Baseball, One More Time
Are the Natural Numbers Supernatural?
The Candle Problem: Balderdash Masquerading as Science
Mysteries: Sacred and Profane
More about Luck and Baseball
Combinatorial Play
Something from Nothing?
Pseudoscience, “Moneyball,” and Luck
Something or Nothing
Understanding the Monty Hall Problem
My Metaphysical Cosmology
Further Thoughts about Metaphysical Cosmology
The Fallacy of Human Progress
Nothingness
The Glory of the Human Mind
Pinker Commits Scientism
Spooky Numbers, Evolution, and Intelligent Design
AGW: The Death Knell
Mind, Cosmos, and Consciousness
The Limits of Science (II)
Not Over the Hill
The Pretence of Knowledge
“The Science Is Settled”
The Compleat Monty Hall Problem
“Settled Science” and the Monty Hall Problem
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
Some Thoughts about Probability
Rationalism, Empiricism, and Scientific Knowledge
AGW in Austin?

*****

XIII. Self-Ownership (abortion, euthanasia, marriage, and other aspects of the human condition)
Feminist Balderdash
Libertarianism, Marriage, and the True Meaning of Family Values
Law, Liberty, and Abortion
Privacy, Autonomy, and Responsibility
Parenting, Religion, Culture, and Liberty
The Case against Genetic Engineering
A “Person” or a “Life”?
A Wrong-Headed Take on Abortion
In Defense of Marriage
Crimes against Humanity
Abortion and Logic
The Myth That Same-Sex “Marriage” Causes No Harm
Abortion, Doublethink, and Left-Wing Blather
Abortion, “Gay Rights,” and Liberty
Dan Quayle Was (Almost) Right
The Most Disgusting Thing I’ve Read Today
Posner the Fatuous
Marriage: Privatize It and Revitalize It

*****

XIV. War and Peace
Getting It Wrong: Civil Libertarians and the War on Terror (A Case Study)
Libertarian Nay-Saying on Foreign and Defense Policy, Revisited
Right On! For Libertarian Hawks Only
Understanding Libertarian Hawks
Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
The Illogic of Knee-Jerk Civil Liberties Advocates
Getting It All Wrong about the Risk of Terrorism
Conservative Revisionism, Conservative Backlash, or Conservative Righteousness?
But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over?
Sorting Out the Libertarian Hawks and Doves
Shall We All Hang Separately?
September 11: A Remembrance
September 11: A Postscript for “Peace Lovers”
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Non-Aggression?
NSA “Eavesdropping”: The Last Word (from Me)
Riots, Culture, and the Final Showdown
Thomas Woods and War
In Which I Reply to the Executive Editor of The New York Times
“Peace for Our Time”
Taking on Torture
Conspiracy Theorists’ Cousins
September 11: Five Years On
How to View Defense Spending
The Best Defense . . .
A Skewed Perspective on Terrorism
Not Enough Boots: The Why of It
Here We Go Again
“The War”: Final Grade
Torture, Revisited
Waterboarding, Torture, and Defense
Liberalism and Sovereignty
The Media, the Left, and War
Torture
Getting It Wrong and Right about Iran
The McNamara Legacy: A Personal Perspective
The “Predator War” and Self-Defense
The National Psyche and Foreign Wars
Inside-Outside
A Moralist’s Moral Blindness
A Grand Strategy for the United States
The Folly of Pacifism
Rating America’s Wars
Transnationalism and National Defense
The Next 9/11?
The Folly of Pacifism, Again
September 20, 2001: Hillary Clinton Signals the End of “Unity”
Patience as a Tool of Strategy
The War on Terror, As It Should Have Been Fought
The Cuban Missile Crisis, Revisited
Preemptive War
Preemptive War and Iran
Some Thoughts and Questions about Preemptive War
Defense as an Investment in Liberty and Prosperity
Riots, Culture, and the Final Showdown (revisited)
The Barbarians Within and the State of the Union
The World Turned Upside Down
Utilitarianism and Torture
Defense Spending: One More Time
Walking the Tightrope Reluctantly
The President’s Power to Kill Enemy Combatants

*****

XV. Writing and Language
Punctuation
“Hopefully” Arrives
Hopefully, This Post Will Be Widely Read
Why Prescriptivism?
A Guide to the Pronunciation of General American English
On Writing (a comprehensive essay about writing, which covers some of the material presented in other posts in this section)

–30–

A Personal Note

UPDATED 10/12/15

I have posted only three times in August and September, and not at all since August 22. At first, I was occupied by moving my very old parents-in-law (ages 96 and 95), so that my father-in-law could receive proper care in a skilled nursing facility and my mother-in-law could have an assisted-living apartment in the same building. Just four weeks after placing my father-in-law in skilled nursing, he succumbed to his accumulated ailments. The planning of his funeral and the tying up of financial loose ends has taken up much of my time, and will continue to do so for a while longer.

On top of all that, it has been only three months since I dealt with my mother’s passing (at age 99) and closed our her (exceedingly modest) estate.

I shall return, but I can’t say when or with how much vigor.

UPDATE

Too much time has passed since my last substantive post. I have decided to suspend blogging, perhaps forever.

*     *     *

Related post: The Many-Sided Curse of Very Old Age

Why Liberty of Contract Matters

UPDATED 10/19/15

I wrote this four years ago “In Defense of Wal-Mart“:

There are no goon squads dragging unwilling people in from the streets to work in Wal-Mart stores. There are no Wal-Mart employees caged in their work areas. There are secret prisons in Arkansas where they send Wal-Mart employees who elect to move on to more highly compensated jobs at other companies.

People work at Wal-Mart because it offers them the best combination of pay, benefits, and working conditions available to them. In other words, employment at Wal-Mart usually is a step up, not a step down.

The attention of the worrying classes turned recently to Amazon, as John O. McGinnis notes:

The New York Times has recently portrayed Amazon as a workplace somewhere between the first circle of hell and a bad section of purgatory, with harsh supervisors and backbiting colleagues that are the inevitable consequence of the company’s management practices. I did not need Jeff Bezos’s demurral to doubt the accuracy of portrait. In a company this large, there will always be bad supervisors, intriguing colleagues and disgruntled employees that can support a lot of wild anecdotes. And the New York Times, a newspaper that even a former ombudsman has admitted is on the left, has an agenda of attacking business the better to justify an intrusive state. [“The Liberty to Work Under Tough Bosses,” Library of Law and Liberty, August 19, 2015]

McGinnis continues:

But let us suppose for moment that the Times portrait is more accurate than Bezos’s denial that overall these anecdotes capture the reality of the company.  Is it really any cause for concern? The employees chose to work there and can leave at any time: it is not a case of indentured servitude. The white collar jobs portrayed here pay good wages. And most important of all, we have a competitive labor market that serves the needs of employees and consumers alike. Even the Times’ description shows that many employees find the culture empowering and thrilling. Some employees stay for a long period. Others use the skills they learn to start their own businesses. It may well make perfect sense for some people to endure upfront unpleasantness—even of the kind that leads to occasional tears—to gain discipline and knowledge that will later stand them in good stead.

I couldn’t have said it better.

UPDATE:

The Atlantic reports on Amazon’s response to the Times story.  I gagged when I read this:

The company, in its post Monday, also did not challenge the other claim made in the Times story: that Amazon can be a challenging place for its female employees. One female employee, Molly Jay, who had received high ratings for years, found herself being called “a problem” after she began traveling to care for her father, who was stricken with cancer. Another, Michelle Williamson, a 41-year-old mother of three children, was told, in the words of the newspaper, “that raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required.” A third, Julia Cheiffetz, wrote in Medium, about being sidelined after having a child and being diagnosed with cancer. [Krishnadev Calamur, “A Blistering Response from Amazon,” October 19, 2015]

Life is full of choices. If you choose family over work, don’t expect your employers’ customers to pay you (or your employer) for time you spend away from work.

*     *     *

Related posts:

A Short Course in Economics
Law and Liberty
Creative Destruction, Reification, and Social Welfare
“Buy Local”
Substantive Due Process, Liberty of Contract, and States’ “Police Power”

The Hall of Fame Reconsidered

Several years ago I wrote some posts (e.g., here and here) about the criteria for membership in baseball’s Hall of Fame, and named some players who should and shouldn’t be in the Hall. A few days ago I published an updated version of my picks. I’ve since deleted that post because, on reflection, I find my criteria too narrow. I offer instead:

  • broad standards of accomplishment that sweep up most members of the Hall who have been elected as players
  • ranked lists of players who qualify for consideration as Hall of Famers, based on those standards.

These are the broad standards of accomplishment for batters:

  • at least 8,000 plate appearances (PA) — a number large enough to indicate that a player was good enough to have attained a long career in the majors, and
  • a batting average of at least .250 — a low cutuff point that allows the consideration of mediocre hitters who might have other outstanding attributes (e.g., base-stealing, fielding).

I rank retired batters who meet those criteria by career wins above average (WAA) per career PA. WAA for a season is a measure of a player’s total offensive and defensive contribution, relative to other players in the same season. (WAA therefore normalizes cross-temporal differences in batting averages, the frequency of home runs, the emphasis on base-stealing, and the quality of fielders’ gloves, for example.) Because career WAA is partly a measure of longevity rather than skill, I divide by career PA to arrive at a normalized measure of average performance over the span of a player’s career. These are the broad standards of accomplishment for pitchers:

  • at least 3,000 innings pitched, or
  • appearances least 1,000 games (to accommodate short-inning relievers with long careers).

I rank retired pitchers who meet these criteria by career ERA+,. This is an adjusted earned run average (ERA) that accounts for differences in ballparks and cross-temporal differences in pitching conditions (the resilience of the baseball, batters’ skill, field conditions, etc.). Some points to bear in mind:

My criteria are broad but nevertheless slanted toward players who enjoyed long careers. Some present Hall of Famers with short careers are excluded (e.g., Ralph Kiner, Sandy Koufax). However great their careers might have been, they didn’t prove themselves over the long haul, so I’m disinclined to include them in my Hall of Fame.

I drew on the Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com for the statistics on which the lists are based. The Play Index doesn’t cover years before 1900. That doesn’t bother me because the “modern game” really began in the early 1900s (see here, here, and here). The high batting averages and numbers of games won in the late 1800s can’t be compared with performances in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Similarly, players whose careers were spent mainly or entirely in the Negro Leagues are excluded because their accomplishments — however great — can’t be calibrated with the accomplishments of players in the major leagues.

In the following lists of rankings, each eligible player is assigned an ordinal rank, which is based on the adjacent index number. For batters, the index number represents career WAA/PA, where the highest value (Babe Ruth’s) is equal to 100. For pitchers, the index number represents career ERA+, where the highest value (Mariano Rivera’s) is equal to 100. The lists are coded as follows:

  • Blue — elected to the Hall of Fame. (N.B. Joe Torre is a member of the Hall of Fame, but he was elected as a manager, not as a player.)
  • Red — retired more than 5 seasons but not yet elected
  • Bold (with asterisk) — retired less than 5 seasons.

Now, at last, the lists (commentary follows):

Hall of fame candidates_batters

If Bill Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame, why not everyone who outranks him ? (Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and some others excepted, of course. Note that Mark McGwire didn’t make the list; he had 7,660 PA.) There are plenty of players with more impressive credentials than Mazeroski, whose main claim to fame is a World-Series-winning home run in 1960. Mazeroski is reputed to have been an excellent second-baseman, but WAA accounts for fielding prowess — and other things. Maz’s excellence as a fielder still leaves him at number 194 on my list of 234 eligible batters.

Here’s the list of eligible pitchers:

Hall of fame candidates_pitchers

If Rube Marquard — 111th-ranked of 122 eligible pitchers — is worthy of the Hall, why not all of those pitchers who outrank him? (Roger Clemens excepted, of course.) Where would I draw the line? My Hall of Fame would include the first 100 on the list of batters and the first 33 on the list of pitchers (abusers of PEDs excepted) — and never more than 100 batters and 33 pitchers. Open-ended membership means low standards. I’ll have none of it.

As of today, the top-100 batters would include everyone from Babe Ruth through Joe Sewell (number 103 on the list in the first table). I exclude Barry Bonds (number 3), Manny Ramirez (number 61), and Sammy Sosa (number 99). The top-33 pitchers would include everyone from Mariano Rivera through Eddie Plank (number 34 on the list in the second table). I exclude Roger Clemens (number 5).

My purge would eliminate 109 of the players who are now official members of the Hall of Fame, and many more players who are likely to be elected. The following tables list the current members whom I would purge (blue), and the current non-members (red and bold)  who would miss the cut:

Hall of fame batters not in top 100

Hall of fame pitchers not in top 33

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Signature

Defending the Offensive

An image of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is displayed prominently in the sidebar of this blog. I do not display the flag to defend it, as one reader suggested. As it says under the image of the flag, I display it to symbolize my hope for deliverance from an oppressive national government (the present one) and to signify my opposition to political correctness (of the kind that can’t tolerate the display of the flag for any purpose).

I certainly do not display the flag to defend the Confederacy’s central cause: the preservation of slavery. (For an alternative view, see this.) But I do defend the legality of secession, as a constitutional right of States. Nor does the display signify racism on my part, because I am not racist. Clicking on the flag takes the reader to my “moral profile,” where the last entry strongly supports my claim of race neutrality.

In any event, as I told my reader,

Perhaps there are some visitors to my blog who are turned off by the flag, and who leave without reading my explanation or despite reading my explanation. Frankly, I’m too old to give a damn.

I refuse to cater to the ignorant and easily offended. The ranks of the latter seem to be growing daily. Karen Swallow Prior writes:

[I]t seems political correctness is being replaced by a new trend—one that might be called “empathetic correctness.”

While political correctness seeks to cultivate sensitivity outwardly on behalf of those historically marginalized and oppressed groups, empathetic correctness focuses inwardly toward the protection of individual sensitivities. Now, instead of challenging the status quo by demanding texts that question the comfort of the Western canon, students are demanding the status quo by refusing to read texts that challenge their own personal comfort….

The most jaw-dropping display of empathetic correctness came in a recent New York Times article reporting on the number of campuses proposing that so-called “trigger warnings” be placed on syllabi in courses using texts or films containing material that might “trigger” discomfort for students. Themes seen as needing such warnings range from suicide, abuse, and rape to anti-Semitism, “misogynistic violence,” and “controlling relationships.”…

The purpose of these trigger warnings, according to one Rutgers student calling for them, is to permit students to either plan ahead for “tackling triggering massages” [sic] or to arrange “an alternate reading schedule with their professor.” The student, a sophomore and, surprisingly, an English major (once upon a time, English majors clamored for provocative books) advocates professors warning students as to which passages contain “triggering material” and which are “safer” so that students can read only portions of the book with which “they are fully comfortable.” [“‘Empathetically Correct’ Is the New Politically Correct,” The Atlantic, May 23, 2014]

The empathetically correct mindset is beyond parody. (For more in the same vein, see “The Euphemism Conquers All.”)

A lot of people just want to be offended, and they look for ways of achieving their aim. Take the controversies about the use of “niggardly.” They became controversies for two reasons: (a) some persons who knew the meaning of the word chose to take offense just because it bears a resemblance to a racial slur; (b) some ignoramuses didn’t know the meaning of the word and chose to remain offended even when it was explained to them. (For a recounting of my experience as a user of “niggardly,” go to “On Writing” and scroll down to “Verboten Words” in Part IV.B.4.)

Symbols of the Confederacy are the new “niggardly,” but on a grander scale. As suddenly and pervasively as the hula-hoop craze of the 1950s — and mainly because of a single act of violence in Charleston — it has become de rigeur to condemn persons, places, and things associated with the Confederacy. This is nothing but hysterical nonsense.

Cue Jim Goad:

Stone Mountain is a 1,700-foot-tall grey dome rock located about a half-hour due east of downtown Atlanta. On its northern face is the largest bas-relief carving in the world—bigger even than the carving at Mount Rushmore. It depicts Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. The mountain also features a Confederate battle flag at the base of its hiking trail.

Stone Mountain is also where the Ku Klux Klan reinvented itself in 1915 under the direction of William J. Simmons. As legend has it, the Klan would conduct nighttime cross burnings from atop that massive rock to frighten the Atlanta area’s entire black population in one big theatrical stroke of political terror.

Fast-forward a hundred years, and the Klan has clearly lost. The surrounding town of Stone Mountain is now over 75% black and about 18% white. And Atlanta hasn’t had a white mayor since the early 1970s.

Mid-June’s Charleston church shooting—involving a killer who had sullenly posed for selfies hoisting a small Rebel flag—was used as an excuse to launch a full-on cultural purge of all Confederate symbols by those who hate what they insist those symbols represent. And they insist those symbols represent HATE. And they hate that. Those symbols represent intolerance. And they will not tolerate that….

Recently a spokesman for Atlanta’s NAACP demanded that the Confederate carving “be sand-blasted off” Stone Mountain’s side. He also urged authorities to remove the Rebel flag from the mountain’s base.

This raised the hackles and chafed the sunburned necks of Confederate sympathizers across Georgia. Insisting that the flag represented “heritage, not hate,” they arranged for a pro-Confederate rally last Saturday morning at Stone Mountain Park….

[A] young black male was pleading with attendees about how he felt the flag was a provocation, and the attendees kept insisting it had nothing to do with him, especially not with hating him. But he told them that it did. And they kept insisting that it didn’t.

Smirking at an argument that kept going in circles, one peckerwood quipped to me, “That’s one of those deals where ain’t nobody going to get ahead.”

And that pithy quote encapsulated the entire event. It was an argument over what symbols represent—an argument that no one could ever win, because there is no objective answer. In the end, symbols represent whatever someone wants them to represent. One person’s heritage is another person’s hate. And the twain shall never agree. [“Of Heritage and Hate,” Taki’s Magazine, August 3, 2015]

What should and shouldn’t be considered offensive? More to the point, where should the boundaries of state action be drawn? I offer some guidelines in “The Principles of Actionable Harm“:

5. With those exceptions [e.g., defamation, treason, divulging classified information, perjury, incitement to violence, fraud and deception], a mere statement of fact, belief, opinion, or attitude cannot be an actionable harm. Otherwise, those persons who do not care for the facts, beliefs, opinions, or attitudes expressed by other persons would be able to stifle speech they find offensive merely by claiming to be harmed by it. And those persons who claim to be offended by the superior income or wealth of other persons would be entitled to recompense from those other persons….

6. …Nor can it be an actionable harm to commit a private, voluntary act which does nothing more than arouse resentment, envy, or anger in others….

9. Except in the case of punishment for an actionable harm, it is an actionable harm to bar a competent adult from

a. expressing his views, as long as they are not defamatory or meant to incite harm….

10. The proper role of the state is to enforce the preceding principles. In particular,

a. to remain neutral with respect to evolved social norms, except where those norms deny voice or exit, as with the systematic disenfranchisement or enslavement of particular classes of persons; and….

c. to ensure free expression of thought, except where such expression is tantamount to an actionable harm (as in a conspiracy to commit murder or mount a campaign of harassment)….

It would be nice if these principles were observed by politicians, the media, the punditocracy, and various interest groups (both left and right). But it won’t happen for two reasons:

  • People are tribal and love to take stances that identify the particular tribes to which they belong. Arnold Kling puts it this way: “You can take man out of tribal society, but you cannot take tribal society out of man.”
  • Elites and aspiring elites are especially enamored of tribal signaling. As a  commenter at Kling’s blog says: “The main goal of the ascendant educated left-wing white people is to differentiate themselves socially from middle-class white people.” For completeness, I would add lower-class white people, evangelicals and other defenders of traditional morality, the petite bourgeoisie, and anyone who might be suspected of voting Republican.

Clearly, the culture war has entered a new and dangerous phase, reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao. As Boyd Cathey writes,

in the United States today we live in a country characterized by what historian Thomas Fleming has written afflicted this nation in 1860–“a disease in the public mind,” that is, a collective madness, lacking in both reflection and prudential understanding of our history. Too many authors advance willy-nilly down the slippery slope–thus, if we ban the Battle Flag, why not destroy all those monuments to Lee and Jackson. And why stop there? Washington and Jefferson were slave holders, were they not? Obliterate and erase those names from our lexicon, tear down their monuments! Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Fort Gordon? Change those names, for they remind us of Confederate generals! Nathan Bedford Forest is buried in Memphis? Let’s dig up him up! Amazon sells “Gone with Wind?” Well, to quote a writer at the supposedly “conservative,” Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, ban it, too!

It is a slippery slope, but an incline that in fact represents a not-so-hidden agenda, a cultural Marxism, that seeks to take advantage of the genuine horror at what happened in Charleston to advance its own designs which are nothing less than the remaking completely of what remains of the American nation. And, since it is the South that has been most resistant to such impositions and radicalization, it is the South, the historic South, which enters the cross hairs as the most tempting target. And it is the Battle Flag–true, it has been misused on occasion–which is not just the symbol of Southern pride, but becomes the target of a broad, vicious, and zealous attack on Western Christian tradition, itself. Those attacks, then, are only the opening salvo in this renewed cleansing effort, and those who collaborate with them, good intentions or not, collaborate with the destruction of our historic civilization. For that they deserve our scorn and our most vigorous and steadfast opposition. [“‘A Sickness in the Public Mind’: The Battle Flag and the Attack on Western Culture,” Abbeville Institute: The Abbeville Blog, August 4, 2015]

I stand with Dr. Cathey in offering scorn and most vigorous and steadfast opposition.

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Related reading:

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Related posts:

The Culture War
Ruminations on the Left in America<
Privilege, Power, and Hypocrisy
Tolerance
Good Riddance
The Gaystapo at Work
The Gaystapo and Islam
The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America
The Tenor of the Times
Social Norms and Liberty
More About Social Norms and Liberty
The Madness Continues
The Euphemism Conquers All

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The Euphemism Conquers All

A euphemism is

a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant….

The market in euphemisms has been cornered by politically correct leftists, who can’t confront reality and wish to erect a fantasy in its place. A case in point is a “bias-free language guide” that was posted on the website of the University of New Hampshire in 2013 and stayed there until today. The guide disappeared after Mark Huddleston, the university’s president, issued this statement:

While individuals on our campus have every right to express themselves, I want to make it absolutely clear that the views expressed in this guide are NOT the policy of the University of New Hampshire. I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive. The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be ‘sensitive’ proves offensive to many people, myself included. [as quoted in “University President Offended by Bias-Free Language Guide,” an Associated Press story published in USA Today, July 30, 2015]

The same story adds some detail about the contents of the guide:

One section warns against the terms “older people, elders, seniors, senior citizens.” It suggests “people of advanced age” as preferable, though it notes that some have “reclaimed” the term “old people.” Other preferred terms include “person of material wealth” instead of rich, “person who lacks advantages that others have” instead of poor and “people of size” to replace the word overweight.

There’s more from another source:

Saying “American” to reference Americans is also problematic. The guide encourages the use of the more inclusive substitutes “U.S. citizen” or “Resident of the U.S.”

The guide notes that “American” is problematic because it “assumes the U.S. is the only country inside [the continents of North and South America].” (The guide doesn’t address whether or not the terms “Canadians” and “Mexicans” should be abandoned in favor of “Residents of Canada” and “Residents of Mexico,” respectively.)

The guide clarifies that saying “illegal alien” is also problematic. While “undocumented immigrant” is acceptable, the guide recommends saying “person seeking asylum,” or “refugee,” instead. Even saying “foreigners” is problematic; the preferred term is “international people.”

Using the word “Caucasian” is considered problematic as well, and should be discontinued in favor of “European-American individuals.” The guide also states that the notion of race is “a social construct…that was designed to maintain slavery.”

The guide also discourages the use of “mothering” or “fathering,” so as to “avoid gendering a non-gendered activity.”

Even saying the word “healthy” is problematic, the university says. The “preferred term for people without disabilities,” the university says, is “non-disabled.” Similarly, saying “handicapped” or “physically-challenged” is also problematic. Instead, the university wants people to use the more inclusive “wheelchair user,” or “person who is wheelchair mobile.”

Using the words “rich” or “poor” is also frowned upon. Instead of saying “rich,” the university encourages people to say “person of material wealth.” Rather than saying a person is “poor,” the university encourages its members to substitute “person who lacks advantages that others have” or “low economic status related to a person’s education, occupation and income.”

Terms also considered problematic include: “elders,” “senior citizen,” “overweight” (which the guide says is “arbitrary”), “speech impediment,” “dumb,” “sexual preference,” “manpower,” “freshmen,” “mailman,” and “chairman,” in addition to many others. [Peter Hasson, “Bias-Free Language Guide Claims the Word ‘American’ Is ‘Problematic’,” Campus Reform, July 28, 2015]

And more, from yet another source:

Problematic: Opposite sex. Preferred: Other sex.

Problematic: Homosexual. Preferred: Gay, Lesbian, Same Gender Loving

Problematic: Normal … healthy or whole. Preferred: Non-disabled.

Problematic/Outdated: Mothering, fathering. Preferred: Parenting, nurturing. [Jennifer Kabbany, “University’s ‘Bias-Free Language Guide’ Criticizing Word ‘American’ Prompts Shock, Anger,” The College Fix, July 30, 2015

The UNH students who concocted the guide — and the thousands (millions?) at other campuses who think similarly — must find it hard to express themselves clearly. Every word must be weighed before it is written or spoken, for fear of giving offense to a favored group or implying support of an idea, cause, institution, or group of which the left disapproves. (But it’s always open season on “fascist, capitalist pigs.”)

Gee, it must be nice to live in a fantasy world, where reality can be obscured or changed just by saying the right words. Here’s a thought for the fantasists of the left: You don’t need to tax, spend, and regulate Americans until they’re completely impoverished and subjugated. Just say that it’s so — and leave the rest of us alone.

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Related posts:

Intellectuals and Society: A Review
“Intelligence” As a Dirty Word
Ruminations on the Left in America
On Writing

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The Madness Continues

I just learned about this while watching the news on TV:

Uber and Lyft are being sued in several jurisdictions for allegedly denying service to passengers with wheelchairs and guide dogs. Not only that, but the U.S. Justice Department recently intervened in a case brought by blind plaintiffs, urging that the discrimination accusations be taken seriously. And not only that, but Uber told The Daily Beast that drivers accused of discrimination are usually suspended or fired. Lyft has a similar policy.

Why in the hell are handicapped persons — egged on by wheelchair-chasing lawyers, DOJ, and the usual whining meddlers — complaining about Uber and Lyft? And why are Uber and Lyft apologizing?

Uber and Lyft are providing services that weren’t previously available. They’re not denying the handicapped services to which the handicapped previously had access. They’re certainly not denying services that they have a contractual or moral responsibility to provide.

If anything, the availability of Uber and Lyft means that the handicapped have greater access to the sources of transportation on which they previously relied because many non-handicapped persons have switched to Uber and Lyft. Handicapped persons should be thankful to Uber and Lyft instead of whining about them.

Further, as the article notes, Uber and Lyft are technology companies — they match drivers and passengers — they’re not public carriers. It’s not their responsibility to provide transportation for the handicapped. Nor should it be the responsibility of Uber and Lyft drivers to do so. They may choose to do so, but that should be their call; they shouldn’t be compelled by yet another regulatory, statutory, or judicial mandate.

This is what happens when leftists, lawyers, and government agencies are free to meddle in the marketplace: They screw things up, just because they can.

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Not-So-Random Thoughts (XVI)


Links to the other posts in this occasional series may be found at “Favorite Posts,” just below the list of topics. This is an especially long entry in the series, so I’ve labeled each item. You can navigate directly to items by clicking on any of the following links:

“Libertarian” Paternalism

Drug Prohibition

Unconstitutionality of Social Security and Medicare

Où est Charlie Hebdo?

Speaking of Censorship

Censorship-Plus

The Disparate Impact of Government

Putting the Civil War in Perspective

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“Libertarian” Paternalism

Timothy Taylor asks “Who Will Nudge the Nudgers?” in a post about a paper by W. Kip Viscusi and Ted Gayer:

Viscusi and Gayer point out a number of reasons why less-than-rational behavioral responses may be more prevalent among government decision-makers than for economic actors in the private economy. Here are some examples: 1) Private actors (like consumers and firms) need to bear the immediate costs of their decisions in a direct way, while elected officials and regulators do not. 2) Public policies are often influenced by the loud voice of concentrated special interests, who can overwhelm the quieter and more diffuse voices for the general interest. 3) Market actions evolve from an interaction of many buyers and sellers, and the checks and balances that such a process provides, but government actions can evolve from a much smaller number of potentially overconfident technocrats, who have a personal and career interest in pushing their own agendas. [The Conversible Economist, July 21, 2015]

There’s much more. Read it, then see my post, “The Perpetual Nudger.” I point out that “nudgers” (e.g., Richard Thaler) are really wannabe dictators:

What seems to bother Thaler is that most people aren’t Econs [hyper-rational calculators]; their tastes and preferences seem irrational to him, and it’s his (self-appointed) role in life to force them to make “correct” decisions (i.e., the decisions he would make).

There’s much more in the many posts to which I link at the end of “The Perpetual Nudger.”

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Drug Prohibition

The estimable Theodore Dalrymple strikes again:

[I]t is not true that problems with drugs arise only when or because they are prohibited.

The relationship between crime and drug prohibition is also much more complex than the legalizers would have us believe. It is certainly true that gangs quickly form that try to control drug distribution in certain areas, and that conflict between the aspirant gangs leads to violence…. But here I would point out two things: first that the violence of such criminal gangs was largely confined to the subculture from which they emerged, so that other people were not much endangered by it; and second that, in my dealings with such people, I did not form the impression that, were it not for the illegality of drugs, they would otherwise be pursuing perfectly respectable careers. If my impression is correct, then the illegality of drugs might protect the rest of society from their criminality: the illegal drug trade being the occasion, but not the cause, of their violence.

What about Prohibition, is the natural reply? It is true that the homicide rate in the United States fell dramatically in the wake of repeal. By the 1960s, however, when alcohol was not banned, it had climbed higher than during Prohibition…. Moreover, what is less often appreciated, the homicide rate in the United States rose faster in the thirteen years before than in the thirteen years during Prohibition. (In other respects, Prohibition was not as much of a failure as is often suggested: alcohol-related problems such as liver disease declined during it considerably. But no consequences by themselves can justify a policy, otherwise the amputation of thieves’ hands would be universal.) Al Capone was not a fine upstanding citizen before Prohibition turned him into a gangster. [“Ditching Drug Prohibition: A Dissent,” Library of Law and Liberty, July 23, 2015, and the second in a series; see also “The Simple Truth about J.S. Mill’s Simple Truth,” op. cit., July 20, 2015; “Myths and Realities of Drug Addiction, Consumption, and Crime,” op. cit., July 31, 2015; and “Closing Argument on the Drug Issue,” op. cit., August 4, 2015]

This reminds me of my post, “Prohibition, Abortion, and ‘Progressivism’,” in which I wrote about the Ken Burns series, Prohibition. Here’s some of it:

Although eugenics is not mentioned in Prohibition, it looms in the background. For eugenics — like prohibition of alcohol and, later, the near-prohibition of smoking — is symptomatic of the “progressive” mentality. That mentality is paternalistic, through and through. And “progressive” paternalism finds its way into the daily lives of Americans through the regulation of products and services — for our own good, of course. If you can think of a product or service that you use (or would like to use) that is not shaped by paternalistic regulation or taxes levied with regulatory intent, you must live in a cave.

However, the passing acknowledgement of “progressivism” as a force for the prohibition of alcohol is outweighed by the attention given to the role of “evangelicals” in the enactment of prohibition. I take this as a subtle swipe at anti-abortion stance of fundamentalist Protestants and adherents of the “traditional” strands of Catholicism and Judaism. Here is the “logic” of this implied attack on pro-lifers: Governmental interference in a personal choice is wrong with respect to the consumption of alcohol and similarly wrong with respect to abortion.

By that “logic,” it is wrong for government to interfere in or prosecute robbery, assault, rape, murder and other overtly harmful acts, which — after all — are merely the consequences of personal choices made by their perpetrators. Not even a “progressive” would claim that robbery, assault, etc., should go unpunished, though he would quail at effective punishment.

“Progressives” just don’t know where to draw lines. (Witness the many phantom red lines that Obama has drawn for Syria and  Iran.) It’s centuries too late to prohibit the consumption of alcohol (not that I’d wish it had happened); it’s still not too late to prohibit the consumption of hard, death-dealing drugs. If those drugs are legalized, it won’t be long before taxpayers are forced to pay for the drug habits of a growing population of drug abusers. That’s the “progressive” way.

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Unconstitutionality of Social Security and Medicare

Mike Rappaport makes the case, and concludes with this:

Now that we have had Social Security and Medicare for generations and people have relied upon them, I don’t think that the original meaning can be enforced to hold them unconstitutional.  Precedent should allow them to continue.  But it is worth remembering that these programs would have never taken their pernicious form if the Constitution’s original meaning had been followed in the first place. [“The Unconstitutionality of Social Security and Medicare,” Library of Law and Liberty, July 23, 2015]

This comes as no surprise to me. Here’s a bit from a recent post, “Does the Power to Tax Give Congress Unlimited Power? (II),” which refers to a much older one:

[T]he power to tax is not unlimited. Taxes levied by the central government must be levied for the purpose of executing powers specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, the majority NFIB v. Sebelius chose not only to distort the individual mandate — which is clearly a penalty, not a tax — but also to willfully disregard the Constitution’s expressed limitations on the powers of Congress. Even if the individual mandate were a tax, Congress cannot constitutionally levy such a tax because the Affordable Care Act isn’t contemplated in its enumerated powers. (ACA derives its supposedly constitutional status from the Court’s decision in 1935 to declare the Social Security Act constitutional, even though it isn’t. See my post of October 31, 2004, “Social Security Is Unconstitutional.”)

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Où est Charlie Hebdo?

As dead (in spirit) as the 12 who were murdered in January. Mark Steyn writes:

I mentioned a few days ago the announcement by Charlie Hebdo that they are no longer in the business of Mohammed cartoons:

So another non-senseless act has paid off bigtime for the Islamic enforcers. I regret the decision, although I understand it.

Which I do. Almost everyone who mattered at Charlie Hebdo is dead. What did they die for? A hashtag and a candlelight vigil? None of those who seized eagerly on #JeSuisCharlie as the cause du jour, from Angela Merkel and François Hollande to George Clooney and Helen Mirren to thousands in the streets of Paris and millions across the Internet, were willing to do the one thing that would have mattered, and show the reason why they died. Which is why such sterling champions of free speech as PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas and Sultan Erdogan’s vizier Ahmet Davutoglu were happy to march in the big post-slaughter parade. Do you think they’d have been there if any of the dead’s multitudes of new “friends” were waving Charlie magazine covers?…

And so, after a similar but fortunately less bloody attack in Texas [link added], virtually the entire American media decided to blame the victim and took it as read that Islam now has an opt-out from the First Amendment. You can’t fence off Islam and contain the damage to freedom of speech: the decision to surrender it incrementally leads inevitably to its total loss. On the day of his murder, I quoted the words of Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, Laurent Sourisseau’s predecessor as Charlie editor, from two years earlier:

It may seem pompous, but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.

It’s not pompous, but it is lonely. And the slippery, weaselly nature of the post-bloodbath support told Charlie Hebdo it was only going to get lonelier. It’s hard standing on your feet when everyone else with the #JeSuisCharlie buttons is on their knees, bottoms in the air, prostrate before the fanatics. And so Charb’s successor has opted to live on his knees. [“The Knees Have It,” SteynOnline, July 22, 2015]

Color me unsurprised. In the aftermath of the slaughter in January, I wrote “Sober Reflections on ‘Charlie Hebdo’.” Here’s some of it:

[Charlie Hebdo is] a stridently left-wing rag that mocks religion (of all kinds), and anything else deemed too “respectable” for the adolescent tastes of its staff.

What’s most striking about the “Je suis Charlie” movement is its pure hypocrisy….

Yes, the left gets up in arms when some of its members are slaughtered by Muslim pigs (I love that phrase). But this is the same, hypocritical left that condones and promotes censorship….

The slaughter at Charlie Hebdo is not a reason for solidarity with the left, but a reason to oppose the left and its clients — especially (but not exclusively) the murderous adherents of Islam.

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Speaking of Censorship

Erick Erickson writes about

an organized movement within the gay rights community that is sometimess referred to as the “gay mafia.” They want to harass those who disagree with their agenda and silence any dissent from their agenda. They have worked overtime in the past twenty-four hours because an AP poll shows that the number of Americans who now support gay marriage has declined since the Supreme Court’s ruling and a majority believe Christian businesses should not be compelled to provide goods and services to gay weddings.

They cannot have that. They also cannot have books and data that dispute their claims. One such book is by my friend Ryan Anderson. The book is called Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom. A subgroup of the gay mafia who call themselves “Flying Monkeys” are flinging poo in the direction of Ryan’s book.

In particular, they have organized a campaign to down vote Ryan’s book on Amazon.com. The Daily Signal has screenshots of the gay mafia’s online conversations encouraging people to go “review” Ryan’s book and give it one star reviews.

The people have not read the book. But they want you to think the book is a terrible read. They are attacking Ryan personally and attacking arguments they have not even read. Anyone who knows Ryan knows he takes a very scholarly approach to the marriage arguments and has provided a great deal of foresight into the movement again marriage.

You can order Ryan’s book on the Kindle now or get a print edition next month via Amazon. I highly recommend it. [“The Gay Mafia Wants to Stop You from Doing This,” RedState, July 21, 2015]

I have ordered it.

We in the U.S. have thus far been spared the excesses of censorship that plague Canada. One such excess is the subject of my post, “Free Speech Ends at the Northern Border.” That an overstatement, of course, because censorship is rife in America, especially on college campuses. Just check out the website of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

See also my posts “The Gaystapo at Work,” “The Gaystapo and Islam.” “The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America,” and “The Tenor of the Times.”

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Censorship-Plus

In a closely related development, there’s a portentous recent ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dropped an astounding ruling: By a 3-2 vote, it concluded that “sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration,’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination under Title VII.”

This is a big deal: The Commission’s recommendations shape rulings on federal employees’ workplace-discrimination claims, and its field offices deal with claims made by employees at private organizations, as well. But the ruling is also a reminder of how complicated—and unresolved—the post-Obergefell legal landscape is. The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage at the end of June has set the country up for two new waves of discrimination claims: those made by same-sex couples and LGBT workers, and those made by religious Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. The two may seem distinct or even opposed, but they’re actually intertwined: In certain cases, extending new rights to LBGT workers will necessarily lead to religious-freedom objections, and vice versa.

Right now, it’s impossible to know how these claims will fall out. It’s been less than a month since the ruling, and much of the legal theory on these issues is just that: theory. In Congress, there’s at least some effort to reconcile the two sides. As my colleague Russell Berman wrote on Friday, Democrats are pushing for legislation which would include prohibitions on discrimination in education, housing, and public accommodation, and Republicans may well sign on—if that legislation allows for religious exemptions. No matter what passes, the issues will remain tangled. These will be some of the questions courts and legislatures have to untangle in the wake of Obergefell. [Emma Green, “Gay Rights May Come at the Cost of Religious Freedom,” The Atlantic, July 27, 2015]

It’s not just religious liberty that’s under attack, it’s liberty — period. It’s clear that the federal government is gearing up to tell Americans what they may say about others and who they must associate with, like it or not:

Most citizens will, of course, attempt to exercise their freedom of speech, and many business owners will, of course, attempt to exercise their freedom of association. But for every person who insists on exercising his rights, there will be at least as many (and probably more) who will be cowed, shamed, and forced by the state into silence and compliance with the new dispensation. And the more who are cowed, shamed, and forced into silence and compliance, the fewer who will assert their rights. Thus will the vestiges of liberty vanish.

That’s from my post, “The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America,” which I published on the day of the Obergefell diktat.

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The Disparate Impact of Government

Speaking of impending atrocities, Michael Barone takes on “HUD’s ‘Disparate Impact’ War on Suburban America“:

Disparate impact. It’s a legal doctrine that may be coming soon to your suburb (if you’re part of the national majority living in suburbs).

Bringing it there will be the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing program. It has been given a green light to impose the rule from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision [link added] in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. [Kennedy must have been warming up for his Obergefell diktat, which came on the following day. — TEA]

The decision purports to interpret the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as authorizing lawsuits if municipal policies have a “disparate impact” as measured by the racial percentages of those affected — this despite the fact that the words of the Fair Housing Act prohibit only intentional racial discrimination….

In every large metropolitan area with a significant black population, you won’t find a single census tract with 0 black residents. Blacks sometimes encounter resistance when trying to buy or rent a house that they can afford, which is unjust and infuriating, and a problem for which the Fair Housing Act provides remedies.

But, of course, that has not created an America in which every community has the same percentage as the national average of blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians, marrieds and singles, gays and straights, Protestants and Catholics and Jews and Muslims.

Free choice never shakes out that way. Throughout history, Americans and immigrants have tended to choose to cluster with likeminded people….

How did disparate impact come into the law? In a 1971 Supreme Court case, Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the Court, acting when memory was still fresh of Southern resistance to desegregation, ruled that the company’s aptitude test amounted to discrimination because whites passed at higher rates than blacks. But that’s true of most aptitude tests — which as a result aren’t used much in hiring any more. [creators.com, July 21, 2015]

Don’t tell it to the “social justice” police in D.C. They don’t want to hear it.

The 1971 “disparate impact” ruling by the Supreme Court ranks among the 16 cases that I list as examples of “the judicial betrayal of the constitutional scheme of limited government, and of order and traditional morality,” in “The Fall and Rise of American Empire.” (I would now add the Kennedy Court’s decisions about “disparate impact,” same-sex “marriage,” and Obamacare subsidies.)

“Disparate impact” isn’t just about where people live and work. Malcolm Pollack is on the case:

Here is an item that’s been going around over the past couple of days: an essay by Paul Sperry describing the Obama administration’s latest race-leveling operation.

The idea is to fish for “disparate impact” violations, wherever they can be found — in housing, lending, school discipline, academic performance, enrollment in gifted-student programs, etc. — and to use the coercive power of the State to flatten outcomes.

The Left has a secret weapon here, and in the current cultural climate, it’s a beaut. Here’s how it works:

1) If you go looking for disparate outcomes by racial groups (or by sex), you’ll certainly find them. They are real, and persistent. (See, for example, just how persistent they can be, here.)

2) When such disparate outcomes occur, there are only two possible causes: either they are due to an external obstacle, or something intrinsic to the group itself.

3) If all racial groups are assumed, as by current social convention they must be, to have exactly identical distributions of every cognitive and behavioral trait, then any variation in outcome that disparately affects a particular racial group must be evidence of some external obstacle. This can only be due to racism and injustice, and therefore it is just and proper for the State to detect and remove it, by whatever means necessary.

4) If however, you suggest that disparities under neutral policies may be due, even in part, to innate differences in the distribution of cognitive and behavioral characteristics in different racial groups, then you are a racist. (If you present actual evidence of such differences, you’re a “scientific” racist.) Moreover, the fact that you are even thinking such things is evidence of the persistence and prevalence of racism in general, which in turns confirms the assumption that disparate outcomes are the result of pervasive and intractable racism, and not innate differences. This is what justifies redoubled efforts on the part of the State to bring every aspect of our lives under racial scrutiny, and impose corrective measures wherever disparate outcomes are found.

So: notwithstanding that race, as we are told, is a “social construct” with no basis in reality, the government will spare no effort to group people by race, and to scour vast collections of intrusively gathered data to find inequalities in social and economic outcomes — not on any individual basis, but by race. But despite race being real enough, apparently, to justify making such racial categorizations, race can have no deeper reality as regards any shared characteristics that might contribute to such inequalities. Race is, in other words, real, but only real enough to serve, somehow, as a marker for defining groups, and thereby to serve as the basis of racism, without having any other actual properties. Moreover (and this is what makes the whole thing work so beautifully): if you disagree with any of this, you are yourself a racist — and you have thereby just demonstrated that persistent racism is indeed the problem.

Thanks to this secret weapon, we have moved beyond — far beyond — the idea that particular differences in outcomes may be due to specific and remediable instances of conscious and intentional racism. As we go Forward, we have a new paradigm: differences in outcomes simply ARE racism, now and forever.

That’s some catch!

[“A Respectful Whistle,” waka waka waka, July 21, 2015]

(I couldn’t resist reproducing Pollack’s brilliant post in its entirety. If you don’t already follow his blog, you should do so.)

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Putting the Civil War in Perspective

Walter Williams does it brilliantly:

Was President Abraham Lincoln really for outlawing slavery? Let’s look at his words. In an 1858 letter, Lincoln said, “I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists.” … Debating Sen. Stephen Douglas, Lincoln said, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes nor of qualifying them to hold office nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”

What about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation? Here are his words: “I view the matter (of slaves’ emancipation) as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.” …

Lincoln did articulate a view of secession that would have been heartily endorsed by the Confederacy: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. … Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.” Lincoln expressed that view in an 1848 speech in the U.S. House of Representatives, supporting the secession of Texas from Mexico.

Why didn’t Lincoln share the same feelings about Southern secession? Following the money might help with an answer. Throughout most of our nation’s history, the only sources of federal revenue were excise taxes and tariffs. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. Southern ports paid 75 percent of tariffs in 1859. What “responsible” politician would let that much revenue go? [“Historical Ignorance II,” creators.com, July 22, 2015]

(There’s more in William Sullivan’s “Lincoln vs. Lee: How History Is Distorted to Preserve Legends,” American Thinker, August 1, 2015.)

Yes, it can be asserted (with some degree of accuracy) that slavery was the proximate cause of the Civil War, because it was the issue of slavery that brought to a head the longstanding tension between North and South. But the leaders of the South also had a righteous cause, in principle: the cause of constitutional government. This is from my post, “The Southern Secession Reconsidered“:

What tends to be forgotten is the South’s pre-Civil War stance with respect to the central government. Southern resistance to the centralization of political power, and to the central government’s unconstitutional exercises of power, long pre-dated the Southern secession and was founded on a valid interpretation of the Constitution.

The Civil War, as a forcible act of reunification, is defensible only insofar as a main result was the end of slavery in the United States. On constitutional grounds, however, the Southern secession was valid and should not have been contested. [Chapter and verse follow.]

My current view of the Constitution — “How Libertarians Ought to Think About the Constitution” — is more cynical and sweeping:

What does all of this mean for secession? Here it is, from the beginning and by the numbers:

1. The Constitution was a contract, but not a contract between “the people.” It was a contract drawn by a small fraction of the populace of twelve States, and put into effect by a small fraction of the populace of nine States….

2. Despite their status as “representatives of the people,” the various fractions of the populace that drafted and ratified the Constitution had no moral authority to bind all of their peers, and certainly no moral authority to bind future generations….

3. The Constitution was and is binding only in the way that a debt to a gangster who demands “protection money” is binding. It was and is binding because state actors have the power to enforce it, as they see fit to interpret it….

4. The Constitution contains provisions that can be and sometimes have been applied to advance liberty. But such applications have depended on the aims and whims of those then in positions of power.

5. It is convenient to appeal to the Constitution in the cause of liberty … but that doesn’t change the fact that the Constitution was not and never will be a law enacted by “the people” of the United States or any State thereof.

6. Any person and any government in the United States may therefore, in principle, reject the statutes, executive orders, and judicial holdings of the United States government (or any government) as non-binding.

7. Secession is one legitimate form of rejection….

8. An  act of secession may be put down — through legal process or force of arms — but that doesn’t alter the (limited) legitimacy of the act.

9. Given the preceding, any act of secession is no less legitimate than was the adoption of the Constitution.

10. The legitimacy of an act of secession isn’t colored by its proximate cause, whether that cause is a desire to preserve slavery, or to escape oppressive taxation and regulation by the central government, or to live in a civil society that is governed by the Golden Rule. The proximate cause must be evaluated on its own merits, or lack thereof.

If the feds continue their assault on liberty, secession will become an increasingly attractive option. There are other options, including de facto secession.

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A Case Study: Empathy vs. Intellect

A guest post by L.P. See this post for an explanation of cognitive and affective empathy.

Referring back to part 5 of my series on empathy, Edwin Rutsch, Director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy and Compassion invited me to participate in a video interview to be published on YouTube. I’ll explain in detail why the interview never took place since Rutsch allowed me to divulge the contents of our interactions.*

In Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy in Human Behavior and Evolution, Adam Smith writes “empathic overdevelopment might be at the expense of other mental abilities,” such as an intellectual deficit. Smith acknowledges that he’s conducting exploratory theorizing, making predictions about the relationship between cognitive and affective empathy (referred to as “emotional empathy” or EE in his article) and that these predictions need testing.

Rutsch’s actions after issuing the invitation offer a case study of the trade-off between empathy and intellect. What’s more, Rutsch exhibits dishonesty, a weak sense of personal boundaries, and an unhealthy obsession with tracking down “anti-empathy” people. See his attempts to pressure Kevin D. Williamson (via petition) and Paul Bloom to interview. In the latter’s case, Rutsch divulged the contents of their email exchange (to Bloom’s discomfort) and subsequently created several YouTube videos about Bloom’s article.

Upon receiving Rutsch’s invitation to do the interview, I established that I’d only talk about my “Getting Real About Empathy” series, and Rutsch agreed. He set up a Google+ document to list topics for the video interview. As soon as I looked over this document, I knew that he had read only the recap points at the end of the posts.

Rutsch demonstrates his failure to read and understand my posts in his listing of me as an “anti-empathy” author at his site for his emergency response team to deal with. Oh, so “Empathy leads to the lack of empathy” huh Edwin? Well, alrighty then! I wonder what other nuggets of wisdom he gleaned from glancing at my posts. Perhaps 1 + 2 = 4 also Edwin? This is so precious that I’ll include an image of this, just in case the summary at his site is ever fixed. (Click to enlarge images below.)

Empathy leads to the lack of empathy

During the time that Rutsch and I communicated on the Google+ document, I urged him to read my posts and indicated that I’d cancel the interview if he didn’t demonstrate having read and understood the contents of my writing. Rutsch never did, so this became the basis for canceling the interview. In the image below, Rutsch’s words appear in green while mine appear in blue.

Edwin Rutsch copy of Google doc part 3

Rutsch was probably desperate because, the night before the interview was supposed to take place, he lied about having read my posts that night. I challenged his claim and he did not offer an explanation for how he could have read the posts without visiting this blog that night.

Rutsch lies part 1

Rutsch lies part 2

Speaking of contradictions, the following image contains Rutsch’s stance on government-mandated empathy programs. Note that just 2-3 weeks prior, in the YouTube video I referenced (my comments in red this time), he and some members of his team kept circling back on the topic of how to force those who’re reluctant to be more empathetic and conform to their values and expectations:

Rutsch on mandated empathy programs

Despite the hard tone of my narration of events, I don’t take pleasure in singling out and publicly criticizing an individual. However, I hope that speaking out may help some of his 30,000+ followers to see Rutsch for what he actually is. Perhaps there’s also a sliver of hope that Rutsch will learn how moronic it is to engage in knee-jerk pursuits and attempts to wear down authors of articles he didn’t read and understand in an effort to censor negative evaluations of empathy.

Henceforth, I won’t respond to Rutsch or his followers because I value my time. He or any member of his cult can still properly respond to my “Getting Real About Empathy” series by first reading and understanding it (along with the several scientific studies I cited – all essential in supporting my arguments) and then by writing an article with logical and supported rebuttals to each point that I made.

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*Below is my message (which conveys how fed up I was with his persistence) and Rutsch’s response. He clearly gave me permission to divulge the contents of our interaction:

Edwin,

We’re already having a recorded dialog about my empathy articles. Welcome to my writing show!!! Everything you’ve said here and the Google+ doc will go out to the public on the world wide web… including your resistance to learning, your resistance to new information, your unwillingness to read, your lack of integrity, and your futile attempts at controlling this conversation with me via empathic dialogue.

Rutsch permits publicly divulging contents of interaction

Free Speech Ends at the Northern Border

But you already knew that if you’ve followed the travails of Ezra Levant, and Mark Steyn, who fought Canada’s “hate speech” laws with some degree of success — but not complete success, it seems:

A business professor at a college in Canada has lost his job after posting a vehemently antigay message on Facebook.

Rick Coupland, a professor at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., last week shared a report from a Florida TV station about the raising of LGBT flags in St. Petersburg for Pride Month. He added this comment: “It’s the queers they should be hanging, not the flag.”

After college administrators received complaints, they began investigating the matter, and today on the school’s Facebook page, they announced, “Mr. Coupland is no longer an employee at St. Lawrence College.” An earlier post had noted that his comment was “not a reflection of our college values.”

St. Lawrence College is funded by the Province of Ontario, and therefore a government institution. In the United States, St. Lawrence College would be bound by the First Amendment, and Coupland’s remarks would be protected speech.

When I learned of the politically correct lynching of Coupland at a blog that I follow, I posted this comment:

I thought that only a humor-challenged leftist would consider a remark like Coupland’s as an actual death wish, which — even if it were — wouldn’t constitute an actual threat. I take Coupland’s remark as nothing more than a commentary about the extent to which “celebration” of gayness has gone over the top. If he actually hates gays, they’re free to return the favor on Facebook or any other forum of their choosing.

This led to the following exchanges between a reader of the French-Canadian persuasion (hereinafter “Pepsi“) and me (hereinafter “Moi’):

Pepsi — He is very clearly advocating genocide, and as such it is a crime under section 318 of the Criminal Code of Canada. I wouldn’t even try spinning such a perfectly clear statement into something innocuous. He was duly fired.

Moi — As I said, humor-challenged.

Pepsi — Don’t be ridiculous. What he said was crystal-clear and requires no exegesis…. The professor most clearly did not have the right to say this under Canadian law. He will be lucky to escape without a criminal complaint. He has lost his job, so I assume most will consider the matter closed.

Moi — Luckily, I don’t live in Canada.

Pepsi — Or practically anywhere else in the Western world. But you could enjoy the freedom to hate anyone you want in private. As one of my ex-FB friends from the USA said when discussing a similar issue, “I love my hate.” Too bad for those who would hope for the freedom to live without being publicly targeted by hatred; it just does not count for freedom on your side of the border.[*]

Moi — Ah, the reflexive application of the “h” word to those who disagree with you. I don’t hate homosexuals or anyone else, unless they’re actively trying to deprive me of life, liberty, or property. You’re jumping to another unwarranted conclusion, just as you were when you assume — I repeat, assume — that Coupland was actually advocating genocide. Unless you have information about Coupland that I lack, I venture to say that you don’t know whether he was advocating genocide, expressing his disdain for homosexuals, or expressing his weariness with the subject of homosexuality. On the evidence of your comments, I gather that you would take “va te faire foutre”[**] literally, though no one who says it means it literally.

End of discussion.

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* This incomprehensible statement leads me to believe that “Pepsi” is either mentally retarded or has a poor command of English — though both could be true.

** The French version of a rather rude expression that is often used by speakers of American English. You can quickly find its meaning by using your favorite internet search engine.

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Related reading [added 07/24/15]: Mark Steyn, “Is the Alberta ‘Law’ Society Even Crazier than the Crazy ‘Human Rights’ Commission?,” SteynOnline, July 24, 2015

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Related posts:

The Gaystapo at Work
The Gaystapo and Islam
The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America

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More about Social Norms and Liberty

I recently revised my page, “Social Norms and Liberty,” and announced that revision in this post. I say in the post that “social norms — long-standing and voluntarily evolved — [are] the bedrock of a truly libertarian order.” Neither the page nor the post is meant to stand alone in supporting that proposition. Many of the posts listed at the bottom of the page are meant to do that.

But I fear that I’ve never been clear enough about which social norms foster liberty. Thus the following rough taxonomy of social norms and their relationship to each other and to liberty:

Taxonomy of social norms

Liberty is attainable where civil society prevails — where there is in fact and spirit a regime of willing, peaceful coexistence and beneficially cooperative behavior. Such a regime allows for a minimal state, one that is limited to the protection of citizens from predators, foreign and domestic, who commit (or would commit) prohibited acts.

How do I know when someone isn’t to be trusted with my liberty? When he habitually signals — by deeds, words, or allegiances — the rejection of core social norms that conduce to liberty.

I do not distinguish between “personal” and “official” behavior. The actions of tyrants belie whatever honeyed words they use to justify those actions. A politician like Obama, for example, is as much of a tyrant (if less murderous) as a Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Castro — his election by “the people” and his rhetoric about “fairness,” etc., to the contrary notwithstanding. His policies are destructive of economic and social liberty, and may yet prove destructive of the physical liberty of Americans. Those who adulate and enable him (and his ilk) are simply not to be trusted, even if their adulation and support are naive.

The same goes for anyone in this country who adheres to a version of Islam that professes jihad against America and Americans. Any such person (or group) may be “American” in man-made law, but he or she is no more to be respected or trusted than a murdering, drug-pushing, woman-beating gang member.

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Related reading: Theodore Dalrymple, “The Simple Truth about J.S. Mill’s Simple Truth,” Library of Law and Liberty, July 20, 2015

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Related posts — everything listed at “Social Norms and Liberty,” but especially:

Facets of Liberty
“We the People” and Big Government

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Obama at the 13/16 Mark

Barack Obama today completes 13/16 of his allotted two terms as president. “Only” 18 months to go. It will seem like an eternity.

How’s our boy doing so far? Pretty badly, in the judgment of most folks. (Chalk up his re-election to Mitt the Insipid.) Here’s a look at O’s polling history since January 20, 2009:

Historay of Obama and Obamacare ratings
Source: Rasmussen Reports, Obama Approval Index History and sporadic polling about Obamacare (latest report here).

Each of the three lines is a plot of the ratio of favorable to unfavorable views of Obama and Obamcare. Values above 1 mean that the favorables outweigh the unfavorables; values below 1 mean that the unfavorables outweigh the favorables. The blue line tracks the 7-day average of Obama’s overall rating with likely voters. The black line tracks the 7-day average of Obama’s rating with likely voters who express strong approval or disapproval. The green line is a plot of Obamacare’s standing, as measured by the ratio of strong approval to strong disapproval among likely voters. (Rasmussen’s last ratings of Obamacare were published on May 25, 2015.)

Here’s a closeup of Obama’s ratings for the past 52 weeks:

Obama's net approval ratings_140721-150720

The bump in late June-early July — since deflated by news of Obamacare premium hikes and the surrender to Iran — followed closely upon Obama’s “victories” in the Supreme Court on same-sex “marriage” and subsidies for Obamacare.

The bump  — like Obama’s surge after the 2012 election — reflects the shallowness and fickleness of many (too many) voters. Some of the people may get the government that they want, but all of the people get the government that they don’t deserve.

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Related reading: Richard Winchester, “What Hath Obama Wrought?,” American Thinker, July 22, 2015

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Related posts:

Another Obama Lie, and a Rant
“We the People” and Big Government
The Culture War
The Fall and Rise of American Empire
O Tempora O Mores!
Presidential Treason
“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”
Romanticizing the State
The Criminality and Psychopathy of Statism
Governmental Perversity
Greed, Conscience, and Big Government
The Slow-Motion Collapse of the Economy
The Obamacare Effect: Greater Distrust of Government
Does Obama Love America?
Obamanomics in Action
Democracy, Human Nature, and the Future of America
1963: The Year Zero
The Beginning of the End of Liberty in America

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Social Norms and Liberty

I often refer to social norms — long-standing and voluntarily evolved — as the bedrock of a truly libertarian order. This page serves as a permanent home for my views about social norms. It includes a long list of posts about social norms, liberty, libertarianism, and the destructive role of government.