Thursday, December 29, 2005

Watch This

The Trains Ran On Time In NAZI Germany

(I wrote this post before the New Year. When I say "I do not want to feel bad," I am committing myself to determine why I feel bad. I am not saying that I never feel bad. It is obvious that I feel bad most of the time.)

This morning the bus left two minutes early, so I got in my car and drove. It would have sucked if I did not have a car.

I am trying to solve the contradiction between my appreciation of porn and my views on sex.

My goal in life is to purge emotions. I find no value in the primitive. There is no value in being cold from nakedness and lack of shelter. There is no value in hunger. There is no culture in poverty. I do not want to feel bad.

I appreciate beauty. Dave Brubeck's "Somewhere" makes me cry. Chekov and Hemingway's short stories excite me. Scoop Jackson's journalism elicits patriotic feelings. I do not want to be emotionless. I want to control my emotions. Being able to control emotions is humanity. It is God-like.

When I cry, I want to know why I am crying. When I am patriotic, I want to know why I am patriotic. When I love, I want to know why I am in love.

We have to get-off. We cannot bottle emotions and wait for ulcers.

This is where porn fits into the discussion. Porn consists of two consenting individuals having sex for monetary gain. They openly admit there actions are for pecuniary purposes. There are no implied contracts. The risks have been accounted for and reconciled. Emotions are being controlled.

Emotions are not controlled in many sexual relations. There usually is an implicit contract not fully understood by one party. Risks are not accounted for and not reconciled. The two parties do not understand why they are engaging in sexual activity.

Porn helps me control my emotions.

Napping, Morning Rituals, and Calculus

I have always thought that an early afternoon nap led to productive evenings, sometimes. I have never thought about the pleasure of a nap, until I read this post at A good nap does make me feel better about the world.

I find this post uplifting. I too often forget the beautiful things in the world.

This is how I am going to study for the qualifiers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


When I am lazy, I look through my "idea folder" which contains written reminders of moments in my life. I hope for inspiration. It rarely comes.

Today's search led me to our new department head's interview seminar. He said the department should reach out to urban areas as well as the rural areas traditionally focused on by our department. My smart-ass comment consisted of : "Who do we demonize? Suburbia."

Bastiat discussed this fallacy in 'The Petition of the Candlemakers." If you try to help everyone, then everyone loses. Urban (suburban) video and grocery store profits subsidize rural agriculture. The Left and politicians in general do not understand that production is required for subsidization. Production (really excess production but using excess will lead to confusion) makes taxes possible. Wealth does not materialize from the air.

On a different note, it is obvious that I do not want to do this type of work. I have something to say, but I am too scared to say it. I wrote in a book one time, that I "will be scared most of my life." I do not remember what I wrote after that, but I will be scared.

There comes a time when a man must stop talking to himself. He must enter the fray, be it with a lover or in an intellectual circle jerk. One must have a basic level of knowledge before he enters. After I finish reading Why I Write, I will be ready.

"A man dreams of leaving, but he always stays behind" from U2's "Lemon"

Monday, December 19, 2005

George Orwell's Why I Write

"I am not able, and I do not want, completely to abandon the world-view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself." (pgs. 8 and 9)

It really is no use.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I Cannot Imagine Employment Where I Did Not Work Weekends

I guess I will always be a retail man.

Its not like what I am doing now is work. I have spent all day trying to decide if I want to start reading a book, if I want to clean my office, what do I want to stock my apartment with, making a list of things to do over break, checking finances, making video orders, asking myself how in the hell did I get here, and a hundred other meaningless things. Basically, I have done nothing.

I have read enough Hayek to know planning is futile. "We never failed to fail. It was the easiest thing to do."--C,S,N, and Y

I have to figure out how to ride the bus. I am sure that will be an adventure in itself.

Well, I should start cleaning the office. Or, maybe I should go to Wal-Mart. Or, maybe I should eat dinner.

"Thought I knew my mind like the back of my hand, the gold and the rainbow, but nothing panned out as I planned"--Indigo Girls "Watershed"

I wonder if they are libertarians...

How 'bout Them Cowboys

Key Word Economists

Tyler Cowen at worries about a Google nation here.

Education is becoming less about philosophical thinking and more about superficial answers to trivial questions.

Economics PhD courses are about getting correct answers to meaningless questions. Thinking about what the question really says is not allowed.

The question is what am I going to do about it.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

If Blogger Does Not Post And No One Notices...

I was trying to play on "a tree falling in the forest that no one hears," but I am too tired.

What I have learned in my twenty four years:

1. Moving is hell.

2. You cannot question your effort. We do as much as we can.

3. The internet is first and foremost entertainment.

4. Entrepreneurial freedom is the difference between liberty and slavery. A politician did not make the internet important. A politician did not make nationalized currencies work.

5. Sex is humans' last primal instinct. We have bastardized violence beyond primal. Violence has become secondary. Sex is still primary.

6. I do not know what happiness is. I think it is linked to getting out of bed in the morning.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


It was a difficult Saturday for me. Bridgewater got blown out of Delaware by Wesley. Virginia Tech laid an egg in the ACC Championship. Even though its been two months, the Braves' playoff collapse is stuck in my mind. I am convinced the Redskins will find a way to blow their game against the Rams (they did not).

My first reaction is to blame the coaches. The head coach at Bridgewater is a disciple of Frank Beamer. Like Bobby Cox, they rarely take chances. Also, Bridgewater and Virginia Tech's players are not out of control, but they do not take care of details. The Braves are so professional that people question their passion.

All three use their team's talent to defeat inferior teams. They win regular season games. But, they are not able to win big games on a consistent basis. The Braves and Virginia Tech (they did not beat USC or Auburn last year) speak for themselves. Bridgewater does not have a national championship. The last two times they got deep in the playoffs they got blown out in the quarter and semi-finals.

I fantasize about coaching. All intelligent ex-players think they could coach better than they were coached. I would not have attempted the field goal and went for the touchdown. I would have showed confidence in my offense. I would have slowed down the blitz with screens and outs. I would have found someone to throw the short and intermediate passes to keep the game close. I would have gotten Farnsworth out of there earlier. I would have found a player to get the big hit.

I am delusional. I could not do a better job. I am being a fan.

But, I have always identified with these teams. I am unable to win the big one myself. I am always in the office, but I am unable to find that great idea. I am confident that I will be pretty good at whatever I pursue, but I will not be the best. I lack discipline and face a talent shortage.

The thing I have to remember is that I would rather be around come championship time than sitting at home. The sad thing is the Redskins will win a Super Bowl before the Braves win another World Series or Bridgewater or Virginia Tech win a national championship.

One has to define success before he can achieve it. Right now, I am unable to define it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Another Dopeless Hope Fiend

I read this statement in a bathroom stall on the second floor of the Alexander Mack library at Bridgewater College.

I try not to pay attention to compliments. I have too many flaws to worry about compliments.

A colleague told me that I overemphasize everyday occurrences. He meant it as a backhanded slap, and it irked me at first. But when you think about it, there is so much stupid shit that occurs daily, it needs to be overemphasized. Many do not see the imperfections around them. If I do, then that makes me special.

At Bridgewater two honors students told me that I got more out of reading and learning than the vast majority. They were both intelligent, and I valued their opinion. Many people learn and read superficially (like I did with my classes this semester). People do not understand why I write in the books that I read. To me, reading is a conversation between myself and the author. My notes are my side of the conversation. (They said this because a guy in my group was supposed to read a company's annual report. He did not show up to class, and I had to fill in for him. I was able to question the financial health of the company and answer the professor's questions after reading the report for five minutes. I was also able to take ideas we learned in economics classes and apply them. Very few could do that, especially since there were only four economics majors at Bridgewater.)

ML said I was too intense. I have been around enough good athletes to know what intensity really is. Intensity is underrated. Successful people have to be intense. It is a quality I value.

But, really, I am just another dopeless hope fiend.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I Usually Don't Do Stupid Stuff Like This

Copied from Random Ramblings who copied it from some "random blog."

1. YOUR DRAG NAME(first pet and street you live on)
Jazper Blue Ridge

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME(grandfather/grandmother on father's side first name, favorite snack)
James Everything

3. YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME(first word you see on your left, favorite restaurant)
Coase Donthaveone

4. YOUR "FLY GIRL/GUY" NAME(first initial of first name, first three letters of your middle name)
Jder (What about Jere or Jerk?)

5. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME(favorite animal, name of high school)
Dog Western

(middle name, city where you were born)
Derek Crozet (I cheated, its really Derek Charlottesville)

7. YOUR OPPOSITE SEX NAME(name of dad/mom, cell phone company you use)
Brenda Alltel

8. YOUR STAR WARS NAME(first 3 letters of your last name, last 3 letters of mother\'s maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet\'s name)
Maumawjab I like this one, and it is the only reason I posted.

I am much too serious.

"I Will Love You With All The Madness In My Soul"*

The Neo-Marxist told us last night that you have to care about what you are doing. His passionate speech made really think about what I am doing.

This discipline has hope. It holds didactic lessons that will survive the test of time. There will always be room for economic (political) philosophers. It is a valuable profession that has bastardized itself into something it is not.

My Albanian colleague: "America is better. These idiots with their noses turned up will never succeed until they realize that America is better."

Myself: "Well, America's system is better. Its institutions are better."

Albanian: "No, America is better, period."

We were really talking about productive individuals. A country is not great. Only individuals are great. It does not matter if they were American or not, but it was a good conversation.

America's commitment to the customer has made it the country it is today. It is why I struggle to understand my European professors. The customer (student) is sovereign in America. This mentality allows societal processes to find proper solutions to problems.

I am over the heptathlete.

*Bruce Springsteen

This is a great line. Men are crazy. They are primitive. They could snap at any second. Some do. But, the ones who find someone or something to love with all of the madness in their soul are cured of the curse. The ones who channel their craziness into devotion are the ones who succeed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2 For 1 At Au Bon Pain

After 10:00PM, Au Bon Pain sells two pastries for the price of one. A fat boy cannot pass up two pastries for the price of one. So, I grab a Coke and two day-old cheese danishes.

While the cashier keys in the two for one special, guess who gets behind me in line wanting a coffee fix?

Yes, the track star, the fit heptathelete looking stunning. Two cheese danishes and a Coke, I will always be a fat boy. (If I only had my plunger...)

I was never an athlete. I was an offensive lineman who threw shotput.

International Colleagues 5

Here is a conversation between myself and an Ethiopian colleague. He and I had just failed a meaningless exam. If I let that exam have any effect on my life than I am a bigger fool than the professor who wrote it.

Ethiopian: "I am destroyed. I am done."

Myself: "Destroyed! You have a wife and child back in Ethiopia that still loves you! I have no prospects!"

Ethiopian: "Have you ever been to Ethiopia?"

He really didn't say the last part, but I forget that sometimes this meaningless degree means more to others than it does to me.

ML and I had some interesting discussions about life today. Unfortunately, I cannot think of anything to say about them.

The economist's role is to illuminate the decision. His role is to make people think. His role is to see what is not seen.

Sitting on the fence puts splinters in your ass.

I am not saying that one has to have an opinion on everything, but he has to know why he does not have an opinion.

"Why?" is the question that separates the positivists from the normativists.

Monday, November 28, 2005

100th Post

"People get ready. There's a train a coming. Picking up passengers coast to coast. Faith is the key. It opens doors and borders. You don't need no ticket. You just get on board." Bono's interpretation of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready."

I sit in my office wondering what tomorrow will bring. I guess that is what makes life so grand.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quick Post

"Sleep comes like a drug in God's country" from U2's "In God's Country"

Because of physical fatigue or boredom? Is there a difference?

I did poorly in the 11th grade. I took a joint AP US History-American Literature class. It was the hardest class at my high school. Tons of work "to prepare for college." I was always struggling to finish some "thought paper" at lunch. A teammate and I missed the year-end field trip to go to a track meet, and the teacher made us do an extra assignment. They were good teachers and everyone loved them, but they did not understand that smart kids require time to think. Homework assignments rarely require serious thinking. I was always tired and struggling with "why am I doing this'. I learned more in my senior government class where we did little work than I did about US History and American Literature.

I was the worse student in the class, but I was the only one to get a 5 on the AP exam. I came back in the Fall, and my classmates were shocked. One jokingly said the graders saw my fifth grade handwriting, assumed I was ten, and gave me a high score. He also called me a "big dumb redneck."

He was right.

I did well my senior year and throughout college. My teachers and professors never buried me in meaningless work. They allowed me to breath. They allowed me to do a little reading on my own. They got out of my way and allowed me to succeed. They showed me the door, but I had to enter.

I am tired again. It is my own fault. I have allowed myself to be bored. In the 11th grade, I did not know better. Now I do.

Life and production are the only constants in this world not death and taxes.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne"

This song fascinates me.

Fogelberg meets an old lover in a grocery store. She is married and not happy. He is famous and not happy. They part ways, and "the snow turned into rain."

"She said she married an architect who kept her warm, safe and dry. She would have liked to say she loved the man, but she didn't like to lie."

What does she want? Why did she marry him? Would she rather have a musician who was never there? Would she rather have a man who cheated? Would she rather be cold, fearful, and wet? I do not get it.

I keep harping on this, but she wants something other than reality.

This is what subjective positivists want. They see no Truth in the world. They see no reason for living. They do not believe in God. They accept 'what is' and sing hopeless songs. They go from lover to lover but never know what love should be. They refuse to improve their lives. Sometimes, they try to improve others' lives, but they cannot. A man who hates himself cannot love another person. (A Peace Corp volunteer who does not appreciate why he is able to volunteer cannot help those who cannot volunteer.)

I respect the husband. Fogelberg and the wife/ex-lover can chase after unreality. They can talk over a six-pack. Why do they need a six-pack? Anyone who says let's discuss this over beer or wine has nothing to discuss. The husband designs buildings. He produces. Fogelberg and the wife/ex-lover are suffocating in self-pity. They do not understand the joy of producing.

The Bridgewater Eagles defeated Thiel College today. They will play Delaware's Wesley College next Saturday for the Division III South Region Championship in Dover. Go Eagles. (I almost used an exclamation point.)

This is the last team that I have any ties to. I am getting nostalgic.

Friday, November 25, 2005

"'Cause Time Goes By Like Hurricanes, Runnin' After Subway Trains, Don't Forget The Pouring Rain"*

We debated the merits of the 1.6 gallon toilet rule in a graduate microeconomics class. I was the only one outraged by this unnecessary regulation. My classmates talked about externalities and 'good intentions.' I screamed about steak dinners ruined by stopped toilets. They talked about saving water. I screamed about no toilet innovations. (Think about the possibilities, an adjustable flow gauge and bigger bowls, but no, we are stuck with these 1.6 gallon jobs that have to be flushed three times anyway. Where is the water savings when you have to flush the damn thing three times?)

Was I wrong?

Subjective positivists have a problem here. They do not see what is not seen. They have a difficult time seeing that their solutions cause greater problems. They are too quick to take the rules as given. They are not quick enough to see that 1.6 gallons is sometimes not enough and too much other times. They do not see that 2.0 gallons might prevent double flushes and actually save water. They avoid the incentives problems in water rationing and come up with some stupid regulation that discriminates against fat-asses.

A normative Truth: Government's only role is to enforce the Constituion. It has no business in wallets, bedrooms or bathrooms.

Why this bitching?

I get back from Thanksgiving dinner last night. I used the bathroom. I am forced to get a plunger. I get on the elevator with the first good-looking girl I have seen in days. She rides the elevator with me and my plunger.

Where is the utility in that?

I like to stop-up the President's toilet who signed this one into law.

Note to self:
My father's discussion on religion is a good blog topic.

*The Allman Brother Band's "Ain't Wastin' Time No More"
"Don't forget the pouring rain"

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I Cannot Go Into Barnes And Noble

If I enter, I will spend at least $50 for the same books I could have gotten for $30 on the internet.

I do enjoy Barnes and Noble's Classics. They are both affordable and informative.

ABC/ESPN should get a game on Thanksgiving. The Lions suck. I hate the Cowboys.

My father's deceased boss (he is another post by himself) once told me that I was better suited for hauling apples than playing football (and going to school). I was a sophomore and not traveling with the team to Guilford. The bastard had a point.

I worked for two hours at the video store Wednesday night. I was probably more productive, more focused, and happier than I have been all semester.

This post says more about my philosophical foundations than the last three combined.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


The only philosophy course I have ever taken is Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Most of what I have been writing is not technically correct. A philosophy student knows I am attributing the wrong words to others' ideas. I apologize.

I also think writing takes place in stages. In the first stage, ideas are written. This blog is still in this first stage. I try to express ideas. One day I might come back and turn these ideas into intelligible and clear writing, but right now, I am concerned with putting ideas out there. This is especially true with the last two posts explaining my philosophical foundations. Philosophical foundations take time to form and even more time to express.

I also prefer active writing. I assume everyone knows I am writing my opinion. I also prefer hyperbole and making things personal. I assure you nothing written in this blog is mean spirited. If you take offense; please comment. I prefer to rectify problems instead of letting them fester (that is why ML angered me).

I had an external visitor yesterday who commented on another page. She gave a perfect example of what subjective behavior entails. The visitor commented, "my understanding of the entry itself may have been increased had I known whose blog it was." The visitor denied absolute Truth. The value of the entry changed with who wrote it.

My advisor did the same thing when I said someone had criticized our research. His first question was who? (I was the one criticizing the research. He caught me in a lie, but you get the point.)

An objective person would have commented on the entry here. He would have said "this post makes very little sense. You, WB, are wrong. Churches and academia do form normative thinkers." He would have stated what the Truth was.

A subjective positivist would have reacted similarly to the external visitor. This post is not intelligent or from an intelligent person, therefore, this post is not worth thinking about. A subjective positivist does not care about philosophy from some unknown blogger.

An objective positivist would have said this post is not true, therefore, it is not worth my time.

A subjective normativist would say the author should learn how to write better. He would think about the points that he understood. He would think about who wrote it. He would then decide what philosophical foundations should be and express his personal opinions.

An objective normativist would say the author should learn how to express his ideas clearer. He would think about the points he understood and compare them to the Truth. He would then say what philosophical foundations should be.

Positivists avoid irrelevant discussions. There is no use talking about uncorrupt government, because there is no such thing as uncorrupt government. There is no use talking about what we should or should not be doing in Africa when children are starving and people are dying of AIDS. It is the philosophy of reality. It is the philosophy of the here and now.

Normativists enjoy irrelevant discussions. What should government do? The answers they create are usually deemed infeasible by positivists. It is the philosophy of the ideal. It is the philosophy of what should be.

My proposition is the majority of society, the knowledge workers especially, have became too positive. They have shunned normativism without proper reflection. This stagnates growth as sub-optimal reality is chosen in favor of ideal improvements.

I also propose that subjective positivism is the philosophy of my colleagues, but this has to change if our society is to improve.

"You May Find Yourself Living In A Shotgun Shack...You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House With A Beautiful Wife"*

I ate lunch with a professor today. We did not talk economics. We talked football.

He commented that big time football universities do not have great academics. We spent the next ten minutes trying to find counter-examples. This was a positive exercise. We never discussed why football programs and academics are mutually exclusive. We never discussed how football programs should fit into the university setting. Those questions do not matter to positivists. (I am surprised one of us didn't blurt "there might be a paper in this.")

John Maynard Keynes said "in the-long run, we are all dead." Keynes convinced the Western world that the economy could be controlled by positive philosophers. Recessions require government spending. We are all dead, therefore, live today and worry about the future when it gets here.

His statement is true, eventually, we are all dead. His logic satisfies the positivists.

But, our progeny will not be dead in the long-run. How long is the long-run? Are we really dead? The normativist asks what should we do? Should today be more important than tomorrow? Keynes' positive statement is not enough for his conclusion. The question becomes should we live today and worry about the future when it gets here?

Economists (and academics in general) give up when they cannot refute a positive statement. You cannot refute Keynes with positive logic. "In the long-run, we are all dead." The only way to argue against him is to use normative logic. We should care about our children. We should let individuals make their own decisions.

Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" is another example of positive logic. He courts a Catholic girl, saying its only a matter of time before she gives it up to someone, therefore, it just as well be him. Only the good die young, therefore, be bad. I wonder how many times this logic has been used.

It does not matter to Joel 'what should be.' How can the girl reply? Sex should be sacred. Joel replies but it is not sacred. We should be good. Joel replies everyone is not good. It can go on forever.

They are speaking in two different languages.

This is where our society is at right now.

Religion is normative. It is based on books that say what should be. Science is positive. It is based on books that say what is.

To succeed in school one must be positive. Teachers do not like answers that say two plus two should be eight. Good students like evidence about what they are learning. Of course, there are classes where shoulds become part of the class, but these shoulds need to be proven by positive statements.

The problem is many shoulds cannot be proven by positive statements. Sex should be sacred cannot be proven through positive logic. Religion fails here. It turns its normative doctrines into positive ones. The church says sex is sacred. It forgets the shoulds. Religion does not have the courage to preach that sex should be sacred. It takes much more thought and convincing to say 'should be.'

Thought that positivists do not appreciate.

*Talking Heads

Monday, November 21, 2005

"If You Live The Life You Love, You Get The Blessing From Up Above"*

RHK challenged me yesterday. He gave me an ultimatum: my complaints have to turn into action or I have to stop complaining. I did not pay attention. I kept complaining without action.

ML challenged me today. She called me a subjective positivist. She also called me a liar and many other things that might or might not be true, but I am not a positivist. She pissed me off, but I really did nothing about it because I am a slow-witted fat bald man.

I then read this quote in the TIA Daily: "Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."--Calvin Coolidge

I was taught to hate Coolidge in my Neo-Marxist US history classes. He might have been the most lassiez-faire President in American history. I was always taught that Hoover's and Coolidge's inaction caused the Great Depression. My grandfather still hates Hoover; he would spit on Hoover's grave. Today, I reevaluate my opinions about Coolidge and Hoover. I understand the Great Depression was caused by many things and government intervention was part of the problem not the solution.

Coolidge's point is that your work is the only thing that matters. Rand says this too.

I have not been doing good work. This is going to change tonight. It is 'time to kick ass now and take names later.'

My first action is to discuss my philosophical foundations. This is a difficult process. When one examines philosophical foundations, he finds unacceptable contradictions and definitional problems. He must reconcile these before he can continue. Hopefully, I will generate discussion with my one and a half reader.

I will start by defining subjective positivism. A positivist cares about 'what is.' It does not matter what should be. Government is corrupt and the discussion ends. They state facts. Virginia's code requires bathroom fans. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, positivists draw conclusions but they are based on what is. For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction, therefore, withdrawal from Iraq. All conclusions are based on positive statements like a court case where evidence is presented and a verdict rendered. The vast majority of academia are positivists.

A more mundane version of positivism can be seen by high school students. Peer pressure is positivism. Everyone else is smoking, therefore I smoke. Everyone else is drinking and fucking, therefore, I drink and fuck. Everyone is wearing Jordans, therefore, I wear Jordans. Students see what is and draw conclusions (and emulate their peers). Another example is "I dated a teaching assistant, therefore, dating teaching assistants is acceptable."

Normativists ask 'what should be.' To them, it is not enough to say 'it is.' They take 'what is' a step further and compare it to the ideal. Government should not be corrupt. Virginia should require bathroom fans.

They draw conclusions based on what should be. Wars should not be fought under any circumstances, therefore, withdraw from Iraq. Feeling good today should be more important than my long-term health, therefore, I smoke. Fucking should be a common stress reliever and a meaningless activity, therefore, I fuck.

Sometimes normativists mix in positive statements, but should always comes first. Sex should be a beautiful thing between two people deeply in love, we are in love, therefore, we have sex. Normativists admit an ideal. Positivists only see and care about what is.

Subjective means that Truth is mutable. It is atheism. A subjective person cannot believe in God. Subjective thinkers say government is corrupt today but uncorrupt tomorrow. Subjective thinkers can sit in churches, then go home and break commandments. They do not think there are eternal and universal Truths. What is right today has no bearing on what is right tomorrow.

The opposite of subjective is objective. Objective thinkers see a fixed Truth. Objective thinkers do change their minds. But these changes are internal; they do not change the Truth. This is a subtle difference. Objective thinkers are concerned with getting the one and only correct answer. A subjective thinker sees a different world everyday. Truth is secondary. An objective thinker desires to see the same world everyday. Truth is primary.

Subjective positivists rule the day as can be seen by political correctness. A small minority is offended by the use of a word, therefore we stop using that word. The subjectivity comes from the word being acceptable yesterday (or even in certain situations today). The positivism comes from the small minority being offended. A positive statment leads to the conclusion.

An objective normativist would evaluate the situation by asking, 'should the word be used? They would search for the Truth encompassing the word. Their conclusion could be offensive words should not be used, therefore, we stop using them. It does not matter to them that a small minority is offended. Everything is a clear issue of right versus wrong.

I am not happy with this post. It has already taken me two and half hours. I have other work to do. But, it is a start. Tomorrow, I hope to talk about "Only the Good Die Young" and "In the long run we are all dead."

*Van Morrison

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Billie Holiday, Idea Folder, And Hollywood Couples

In reverse order:

I am shopping at Wal-Mart. I see this woman wearing a tight jeans, big earrings, heels, and plenty of make-up. She looked like a mannequin in an expensive department store. She was attractive, and she liked flaunting it. Her husband was worse. He looked like he just did a commercial for Old Navy and forgot to change his yuppie sweater and cargo pants. He was six three, chewing gum, thinking he was better than the hicks shopping around him. Then there was their little boy, wearing another classic sweater and dress pants, behaving like the brat he was. The mother placating him by taking him to the cereal aisle. The wife cut me off in the Q-tip aisle. The husband tried to jump in front of me at the deli. The kid was annoying.

I did not know if I wanted to punch the husband and humiliate him in front of his wife and son, or take a picture while asking them how it felt to be beautiful. Envy is powerful. It makes you think crazy things.

I have filled one idea folder. I am saving these ideas for when I have time to think. It does not look like that time is coming soon.

Billie Holiday is awesome. She makes me forget about Hollywood couples and my stupid ideas. She tells me, "Maupin, you need help and you certainly ain't pretty. But you are alright." I know she will always be there.

"I Feel Like The Thief Who Is Raiding Your Home, Entering And Breaking And Taking In Every Room"*

Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek explains why universal health care makes no sense. He links to a better explanation by Roberts here.

Read Roberts. He sees what is not seen as well as what is seen. It is well-written economic reasoning. There are no bullshit numbers. He uses economics' didactic lessons to illuminate the difference between what is and what should be. He does economics the way it should be done. The way I would like to do it.

"A preacher in the old time gospel hour stealing money from the poor and the sick. Well Mister, the God I believe in isn't short of cash." Bono in the movie Rattle and Hum

I am stealing money from my hard working family, stealing money from the producers in the name of 'good intentions.' Well Mister, good intentions pave the road to hell.

"Hey calling it your job ol’ hoss sure don’t make it right. But if you want me to, I’ll say a prayer for your soul tonight."--John Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow"

A former NFL player called me 'hoss' after I fouled him a pick-up basketball game. I hope he is saying a prayer for me tonight.

*10,000 Maniacs' "Jezebel"

Saturday, November 19, 2005

I Swear I Did Not Copy

Bill Curry answered the 'why do I enjoy football' question in this article.

We say a lot of the same things.

I am not going to comment on his tribalism argument. He does not have the courage to say that some tribes are right while others are wrong. We (the US) will not be next. To be a member of our tribe, all you have to do pursue happiness. We are right. They are wrong. He admitted he was no academic; I will cut him a break.

I have a question for my one and half readers: What does the 10,000 Maniacs' lyric "how I learned to please, to doubt myself in need" from "Stockton Gala Days" mean. I should give all of the lyrics, but I do not think they help. The "in need" part makes no sense. I do not know.

Why I Enjoy Football

Bridgewater College defeated Washington and Jefferson (who tied California in the 1922 Rose Bowl) in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs today. It was a great game. There are no scholarships in Division III sports, but playoff programs prepare for 15-20 hours a week during the season and 10-15 hours a week during the off-season. The coaches put in eighty hours a week for little pay. "Rational economic men" would not participate in Division III football.

I participated for four years, and I am still learning from the game.

A football team is a melting pot of cultures and personalities. What I remember most about my playing days is the people I sweated with during practices and games. I learned too many lessons to repeat here, but football helped establish my philosophical foundations. It taught me how to work with other people. It taught me that people want to succeed, but it takes leaders to point them in the right direction. I saw some bad things, but I learned from them also. It was a great experience. (I feel the same way about my graduate programs so far. I have not learned a damn thing in the classroom, but I have learned plenty outside of it.)

I do not feel comfortable as a regular fan, because regular fans do not understand football. They do not see the game the way I see it. The outcome of a football game is insignificant, but the impact of football on certain individuals is immeasurable.

Here is an example of what football can do. I played with these guys my senior year. They will be productive citizens. Football is a part of their success.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Will The Circle Be Unbroken

I am listening to Gregg Allman singing this spiritual right now. "There is a better home awaiting. In the sky, Lord, in the sky." Allman has me convinced.

I am a complete screw-up when it comes to women. I am talking to this heptathlete in the elevator. The conversation was going like a fine Swiss watch, but I had to go get my cinnamon bun and Coke. I had to let her walk to class alone. [I must be honest. First, she was German. Looking back on the whole thing, I am sure we were talking about two different things. Second, putting it nicely, she was Amazonian. I like athletic women, but I would not be wonderfully proud to show her off at the grocery store. But, she was a heptathlete. Think about the possibilities. She would probably hurt me, but I would love every minute of it. I get a goofy smile just thinking about it. ]

On a different note, ML told me a story that really bothered me. You can find it linked from her blog if you care to look hard enough. It reminded me of In the Company of Men. It is a good movie, but it will make you sick.

ML is convinced I am sexist. I am not sexist, but if I were, women should not worry about me. The two boys involved in her story, and the two fictional boys in the movie, as well as some of the other creeps walking the street are the ones women need to watch out for. I love women so much; I cannot hurt one. I feel bad about the Amazonian statement above. If the heptathlete saw that statement, I would be mortified. I would probably cry.

Some men see women as objects to be abused. They see women as meaningless things, something to be used and thrown away. I see women as art, something to be cherished. A woman's smile pacifies my mind. I am a volatile guy. I can go off at any time, but beautiful women placate the beast in my belly.

And when I say beautiful, I am not just talking about physical features. The heptathlete was beautiful. You could see the toughness and discipline in her sculpted body. You could see her intensity. But, you could also see a heart that cared. She had been uncomfortable before, and she did not want other people to feel uncomfortable. She wanted peace.

I am not sexist.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why I Am Not A Republican

Here is a link to George Will discussing the hypocrisy of the Republican party:

"It does me no injury," said Thomas Jefferson, "for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. " But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public education to infuse theism into scientific education."

I agree wholeheartedly with Jefferson. Likewise, it does me no injury if two homosexuals marry.

But, Will's commentary confuses the problem. America should forget about public education, so a modern Jefferson can say 'it does me no injury for my neighbor's child to learn creationism.' While a modern zealot can say 'it does me no injury for my neighbor's child to learn evolution." Will gets it backwards, public education is the problem, not the zealots.

On a different note, I had a horrible experience today. I see this beautiful brunette with legs all the way up (...) in the campus eatery. Naturally, I picture her naked. Instead of the little boost that I usually get, I suddenly feel sick to the stomach. It might have been a sinus drop, but it was disappointing. If I cannot enjoy picturing beautiful women naked, I might as well jump off the roof. Or, maybe I need a little Southern Exposure. [Every now and then, you get the five minute kick in the balls after you realize that comparing your mental print to the real thing will never happen, but this nausea came right away.]

Before anyone calls me sexist, they should consult this post and this one too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nobody Understands Me, But I Understand Everyone

ML told me that I judge people too quickly, but I contradict myself when I say people misunderstand me. I know all I need to know about a person after observing them once in the weightroom, but I complain that people do not know me. She has a point.

My reality is what I see. I see differently than most people. Shop with me at a grocery store, and I will see things that most people never notice. I evaluate people's actions. But, I do it everyday. I judge people everyday. I do not discriminate. Their past actions are information, but I care more about their actions today than yesterday. My goal is to discover Truth.

One needs to know what is, but they have to draw on what is to say what should be. Positivism without normative conclusions is futile. It is purely intellectual masturbation without climax.

Most of my colleagues have been duped into half-hearted positivism. They do not see actions. Sometimes they try to see intentions. Hayek proved the impossibility of seeing intentions in The Road to Serfdom. Other times they refuse to see reality, prefering to see what they want to see.

They also refuse to draw conclusions. They believe that everything is okay except being proud of who you are. They champion self-sacrifice and failure. They prefer mediocrity to success.

I want people to misunderstand me. During my high school statistics class, I decided I wanted to live in the tails. I wanted to be more than two standard deviations from the mean. This desire guarantees that people will misunderstand me. I have to accept this fact and direct any complaints at myself.

But, I get discouraged that people do not see my actions. ML has never seen me treat another person wrongly. I question her friends' actions, but I listen to her defense of them. I would listen to their rebuttals if I was not worried about living in the tails. My observations have made her think, and her replies and her friends' actions have made me reevaluate. This does not mean that I should forget. My observations have Truth in them.

ML does not understand that I love people as much as she does. But for me, giving people free passes, ignoring their shortcomings, and writing off their failures as humanity is unacceptable. Humanity requires us to question everyone's (including our own) actions.

That is why I appreciate ML criticizing me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


"Happiness is not to be achieved at the command of emotional whims. Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to indulge. Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy--a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of the drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions."

Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged (page 1022)

"... a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values..."

Rand says what I have been trying to say for a month. There is more to happiness than alcohol and casual sex. I was happy when I filled up the grocery store's banana table; I was more happy when customers emptied the table. Many people do not get any thrill out of producing. They prefer drunkenness and meaningless sex.

I am worried that I am forgetting what true happiness is.

Life Or Death

My Neo-Marxist professor says everything occurs in a social context. There is no individual. People buy IPODs because everyone else is buying them. They do not provide any value to their users. Value has to be determined in a social context.

He is full of shit. I am the only one who knows what I want. I have the right to exist. I value American football. If I had grown up in Argentina, I would not value it, but who is to say the Argentinean is right? I allow Argentineans to value futbol, and they allow me to value football. I value. Of course, social context contributes to my opinions, but it does not coerce me into going to football games.

My professor assumes I am stupid. He assumes that I cannot decide. He assumes that he knows best. He is full of shit. I would like to send him back to his ideal, the middle ages. He would not survive long. I would like to spit on his bloated body after he has died from the plague or starvation. I know this sounds harsh, but accepting his philosophy is death. I do not want to die.

A collective cannot value. There are social and marketing effects but it does not change the fact that value comes from the individual.

Monday, November 14, 2005

U2's "11 O'Clock Tick Tock"

"We thought we had the answers. It was the questions we had wrong"

I do not know Bono's exact intention.

I think the song is about being young, not knowing what love is, but feeling the need to try something. This describes the majority of the young adult population. It certainly describes me.

JobLess once told me "love it a deep sleep."

I told ML that "love is waking up next to the same person forever."

I have been listening to too much Counting Crows and Springsteen's "Human Touch." "Human Touch" is a beautiful song, but it is about giving up. I will eventually give up (maybe that is what love is), but I am not ready yet.

U2 Lyrics - 11 O'Clock Tick Tock
It's cold outside
It gets so hot in here
And the boys and girls collide
To The music in my ear

Hear the children crying
And I know it's time to go
I hear the children crying
Take me home

A painted face
And I know we haven't long
We thought that we had the answers
It was the questions we had wrong

Hear the children crying
And I know it's time to go
I hear the children crying
Take me home

Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song

La lah la lah...La lah la lah...La lah lah...
[Repeat 4x]

Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song

Call out your name
Call out in shame
Call out your name
Call out
You better call out
Call, call, call out

ML was playing Sarah Vaughan's "My Favorite Things" in her office today. I am glad I did not break out in tears. I have said this before, but Vaughan sees through the pain and reminds us that no matter how far away love is, it is still a beautiful world.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Game We Should Be Playing In Principles Of Economics

Two people are selected to be the firm. The rest are consumers. The firm is endowed with an operating budget. Consumers are endowed with income. The firm has a product to sell (donuts, pens, or even a pseudo financial instrument with no knowable expected value to the consumer). The firm has the opportunity to purchase marketing research (two consumers come out in the hall to test the product and give an opinion on price). The firm can also purchase traditional marketing (a pretty poster or something). The firm sets a price and the consumers decide to purchase or not. (The price setting can be done simultaneously by consumers submitting written bids before knowing the price. Different market institutions can be tested. Different supply schedules (production functions) can also be tested.) Repeat the process. Allow entrepreneurs (former consumers) to enter. Allow firms to go bankrupt.

We have to get away from avoiding utility because it "is too abstract." We have to show students that the market works (better) when it is not contrived. I do not know what the results of the game would be. It depends on the product and the people just like real life.

Economists must (re)tackle utility and value if they want to progress. The supply and demand game is not good enough. Students should see Hayek's discovery process.

You cannot learn anything superficially. You might do alright on a test, but you will not retain anything. Economics has to stop teaching superficial ideas. It has plenty of real lessons; it just takes more effort to teach and learn them.

This thought applies to my post about women. Women are Truth's (God's) most beautiful creation, but many (as well as many men) are superficial. Being superficial means denying reality. It is a refusal to see.

Economics has been superficial since Marshall. It is time to see again.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

R.E.M's "Why Not Smile?"

the concrete broke your fall
to hear you speak of it
I'd have done anything
I would do anything
I feel like a cartoon brick wall
to hear you speak of it
you've been so sad
it makes me worry

why not smile?
you've been sad for a while.
why not smile?

I would do anything
to hear you speak of it.
why not smile?
you've been sad for a while.
you've been sad for a while.

International Colleagues 4 And Veterans' Day

Two American women were complaining about Iraq. My Ethiopian colleague looks at me and says: "I don't understand American politics. Don't they know America is the yardstick. Everybody wants to be America. Of course, some are envious, but America is the yardstick."

An Indian colleague discussing terrorism after one of the women blamed America for September 11th: "You do not get it. Terrorism is not about poverty. Terrorists are rich. They pay for flight training, fake visas, and legal documents. They give money to martyr's families. They have resources, but they do not spend them on food or anything productive. They kill people. They kill their own people. When lives are destroyed, how much is lost? Those losses are infinite. Terrorism is about faith. Terrorists hate the individual. They put a holy book in front of humanity. India will succeed because it is a democracy. Pakistan will fail because it is a theocracy. Individual freedom is the only way to fight terrorism. Freedom makes it okay to be Muslim, Hindu, or even a Hindu who eats beef. It makes it okay to reach your potential. The terrorists want to make us slaves to the Koran. The American (Western) system guarantees humanity. It puts importance on the individual not a holy book. The American system is right. The terrorists are wrong."

Thanks Granddaddy for destroying Hitler. Thanks Uncle Pat for fighting Ho Chi Minh. Thanks to everyone who is fighting and has fought for individual freedom. Thanks to every entrepreneur who has had to fight the collective's bureaucracy. Thanks to every productive citizen who understands humanity's greatness.

Those two women might not understand, but I appreciate your efforts to make the world ideal.

Clarification On Last Post

Women do not want honesty. They are like men: they do not want reality. Reality is boring. Reality is easy. No one wants something boring and easy. We are all dreamers craving anti-reality. This craving keeps alcohol companies and graduate schools in business.

I dream, but I do not lie. I am not pretty. I have no talent. But, like reality, I will be here every day.

If this makes me unattractive, so be it.


I have no allure.

I am not a bad guy.

But, I cannot get any play. I must be hideous. There must be something wrong with me.

The sad thing is after I stop thinking with my penis I do not think I want any play from most women.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Listening To Springsteen, The Counting Crows, and 10,000 Maniacs

I have had lot of ideas lately. I just finished the book Branded by Alissa Quart. ML and I have been discussing moral courage. The change of seasons makes me horny. (I was conceived during Autumn. Maybe its genetics.) I have to reconcile a previous post using my college motto. I want to discuss poverty. There are many more things I have forgotten.

The Neo-Marxist did it again today. He said every good is a public good. I contend there are no public goods. He said the market was a commons to be managed by the collective. I contend a market by the collective for the collective is slavery. He says externalities rule the day. I contend that there are no externalities. He is a confused Neo-Marxist Utopian. I am a confused Austrian-Libertarian-Randite Utopian. I connect with him better than I can with moderate professors. I prefer people who care. (Really, I am just confused.)

I want to litanize on why I am right and why he is wrong. I will eventually, but I will just ask for one thought experiment. Imagine Adam and Eve. Imagine today. How did we get here? No master planner did it. There is Truth which is God, but as Bill Evans said in the liner notes to Kind of Blue, it took a lot of individual improvisation to make something this special.

You have to think in ideals to be ideal. Reality does not interfere with the ideal. I am still young enough to believe and to know the difference between right and wrong.

I really bastardized Bill Evans' thought.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Are You Happy Where You Are Sleeping?"*

Reconciling the last post will have to wait.

Something good happened. My Neo-Marxist professor made me think. He said there was a fine line between too much competition and too little competition. He thinks we are always on the wrong side of that line. He is Neo-Marxist.

Economists have to define competition. My Neo-Marxist professor does not have a definition. His argument has no meaning.

But, he resuscitated my faith in economics. (He talked about the fundamental economic problem, happiness.) We have to start dealing with problems and stop making up problems to masturbate through. ("Masturbation is sex with somebody I love."--Woody Allen)

Success is happily answering, 'what are you doing?' paraphrased from Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan."

You have to tell the truth. I am still young enough to tell the truth. I should be thankful.

I wish I was sleeping with a woman who did not mind waking up next to me, who was going to be there every morning for the rest of my life, but on the whole, things could be much worse. I am happy where I am sleeping.

* Counting Crows (Adam Duritz) "A Murder Of One"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Continuous Value Theorem (Written On August 27th)

My affection for the continuous value theorem (CVT) is well known to the few people who have ever been in my office and saw my homemade sign declaring it the only theorem one needs to know.

Nobody has pressed me about this odd affection, but I am going to tell you why the CVT is so special. Time is a continuous function. CVT reminds us that if you want to be 65 then you have to be 24. If you want get through a class then you have to get through all of its homeworks and exams. You cannot skip from time A to time C without going through time B. I think about this when I am driving. I have to pass through Roanoke, Lexington, and Waynesboro before I get to Crozet. I used to think, "damn, I am only at Lexington," but the CVT comforts me because I know that I have to go through Lexington to get to Crozet. The CVT reminds me that there are no short-cuts in life.

I am afraid that the prevalent philosophy of my peers resignates in the beat generation of the fifties. One of the main propositions of the beats were that experience was the only method of learning. You had to go on the drug induced road trip to Mexico to learn life. You could not appreciate someone's well-reasoned argument about the dangers of drug use and intoxicated driving. One had to experience it. It is a treacherous philosophy. It leads to teenage mothers, alcohol induced stupidity, bad relationships, etc. etc.

JobLess once told me that if I saw an interesting woman I should just go up and ask her on a date. No matter what happened, it would be an experience. I told him that I did not think this was a good strategy, but I could not give him a reason except for some bogus prisoner's dilemma.

Here is my refined answer: It is easy to get caught up in mediocrity. A kid sees another smoking a cigarette and it it looks beautiful. He knows that smoking is bad for you, but he must experience it. I do not need to smoke a cigarette to know it is bad for you. I do not want to be mediocre.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Great Song From A Great Album

R.E.M.'s Hope:

You want to go out Friday
And you want to go forever.
You know that it sounds childish
That you've dreamt of alligators.
You hope that we are with you
And you hope you're recognized
You want to go forever
You see it in my eyes.
I'm lost in the confusion
And it doesn't seem to matter
You really can't believe it
And you hope it's getting better.
You want to trust the doctors
Their procedure is the best
But the last try was a failure
And the intern was a mess.
And they did the same to Matthew
And he bled 'til Sunday night
They're "saying don't be frightened",
But you're weakened by the sight of it
You lock into a pattern
And you know that it's the last ditch
You're trying to see through it
And it doesn't make sense
But they're saying don't be frightened
And they're killing alligators
And they're hog-tied and accepting of the struggle
You want to trust religion
And you know it's allegory
But the people who are followers
Have written their own story
So you look up to the heavens
And you hope that it's a spaceship
And it's something from your childhood
You're thinking don't be frightened
You want to climb the ladder
You want to see forever
You want to go out Friday
And you want to go forever.
And you want to cross your DNA
To cross your DNA with something reptile.
And you're questioning the sciences
And questioning religion
You're looking like an idiot
And you no longer care.
And you want to bridge the schism,
A built-in mechanism to protect you.
And you're looking for salvation
And you're looking for deliverance
You're looking like an idiot
And you no longer care.
You want to climb the ladder
You want to see forever
You want to go out Friday
You want to go forever.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Social networks drive graduate programs. Students require these networks to succeed in graduate school. They help in completing the work and staying sane. I will not go into further detail, because as a colleague told me, these insights are obvious.

At first I was angry that the colleague called my ideas simple. But, I remembered Buchanan's 8th Cryptic Statement: "Economics is elementary."

Buchanan is right. What drew me to economics was that it gave terms to insights that I had seen before while working with my father at the grocery and video store. Understanding that when something is about to rot, any price greater than variable cost is profitable is an insight that has made the grocery store money. My father knew this concept, but by knowing why, I convinced the idiot dairy manager to sell closed dated orange juice at reduced prices instead of dumping it. There are many economic applications related to grocery stores. I should write a book. (An insight from the meat manager: Anyone can do a job, but the man who knows why is the boss.)

No matter how much academic economists bastardize the subject: economics is elementary. The Freakonomics crowd realized this, and they will be successful in selling economics to the marks. Another economic insight; the marks run the world.

Friday, November 04, 2005

International Colleagues 3 Or Thanks For Listening ML

My international brothers and sisters had to take pictures of the fall foliage. The colors are not great this year, but they thought the leaves were beautiful. They are. It was an great excursion.

Americans take pictures of things. Filipinos take pictures of people in front of things. They care much more about people than things.

Their love of people is refreshing.

This love is what I appreciate about my mother, sister, my aunts, ML, EM, and many other people I have forgotten. It is a motherly love, but some men have it too. I want to quell the Romanticism in my soul, but watching their unconditional love of people, of humanity, makes me rethink what is important.

My undergraduate Micro professor said, "As an economist, I appreciate the power of the market. As an intellectual (and a human), I sympathize with the radicals (Marxists)."

The other day I told ML that I hated everyone. She is a good friend. She did not ask if I hated her. She did not leave and never talk to me again. She listened. She held her laughter until she was out of earshot.

This event made me think. What is a good friend?

A good friend is someone who you can call for a ride, and they do not make you feel guilty. They understand that you would not inconvenience them unless necessary. There are many people who I would call for a ride because they owe me, but when they fail I would call a friend.

What the hell is happening to me?

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I threw the shotput and discus in high school and college. I thought if I could visualize myself making the perfect throw, then I would be able to make the perfect throw in a meet. I could never do it. There was always some hiccup in my visualization. I could never get my left foot to pull my hips and chest through.

I always thought that if I could visualize my future, then I would be able to achieve my dreams. I have never been able to do it. I cannot picture the perfect woman. I cannot picture the perfect job. My dreams have no clarity.

I guess just like the shot and disc, it takes practice and experience.

Did I break both resolutions in this post?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Another Resolution

I will forget all information that does not make today easier or help pick up women.

The world does not need another Bastiat. It needs another JobLess.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

International Colleagues 2

A female Chinese student and I are walking to class. We are talking about some meaningless math problem. A young man embraces a young female. My Chinese colleague stops in midstride, and says "isn't that romantic?"

Yes it was, my friend.

This post was composed listening to Miles Davis' "Blue in Green." Any man or woman who does not appreciate life, love, sex, TV and all of the other beautiful things in this world after listening to "Blue in Green" is dead.


They were walking in the park. They were holding hands. She was talking about something. Some moment in her meaningless day that did not warrant conversation. He was faithfully acting like he cared while the Spring fragrances aroused him.

He thought about love. Was this love? Or was it the idea of being in love? Did it matter? A woman was holding his hand telling him forgettable details about her mundane life. She was not the woman of his dreams, but she was a woman who didn’t mind holding his hand on a beautifully scented Spring night.

He decided one could never be sure about love. One could definitely not rely on word of mouth. He had spouted out ‘love you’ far too many times to believe in one’s voice. Actions were what mattered.

He decided to take action. He grabbed his partner. He wrapped his arms around her. He passionately kissed her lips. He forced her against a nearby tree. His hand sneaked up her blouse. Her hands grasped his buttocks.

The embrace did not last for more than thirty seconds, but it ended the talking.

Monday, October 31, 2005


When I started this blog, I asked ML's opinion. Her response irritated me. She chastised me for asking her opinion. She said I was a grown boy who needed to make his own decisions. The next day, a mutual friend told me she was teaching me a lesson. She responded like I would have responded. She blew something out of proportion. She was critical. She was just like me.

I want to make people think. After people get to know me, I want them to say, "I don't agree with half of the shit that comes out of his mouth, but he made me think." I want them to ask themselves, "what would WB say about this?"

My father got me to read "1984" at thirteen. It was my first taste of thought provoking literature. The idea of stopthink has stuck with me.

I cannot stopthink and it makes me unattractive. I cannot enter a situation without analyzing it. I cannot 'let go' without asking Why?.

I have resolved to be less critical. The new WB is not even going to give a reason for the resolution.

*stopthink - the practice of halting one's train of thought as soon as there is danger of questioning adopted orthodoxies

Here are two ideas related to this post that WB will forget:

Economists should champion optimism in times of pessimism and pessimism in times of optimism.

"...a vision of the kind of culture we ought to live in: one filled with interesting ideas, fearless discussion, and beautiful art, not as an infrequent exception, but as the everyday norm."--Robert Tracinski

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Want Versus Need

Rand harped on the difference between want and need. She complained that the looters, the welfare statists, the dregs who could not produce, always claimed need when they wanted.

Want can only occur after need. The failure to meet a need leads to death. A newborn needs parental care. An adult needs water and nutrition. Need is the primal instinct to survive, but want is secondary. Once needs are satisfied, individuals want.

People disguise wants as needs. Welfare checks go to drug dealers. Food stamps indirectly pay for Cadillacs. Goodwill stores are frequented by retrohippies. Teachers claim poverty. Men rape and murder. Women file paternity suits. Government 'creates' jobs and 'gives' tax breaks. The list continues.

Recognizing the difference between wants and needs is humanity.

Most Americans do not need. They want. Some want universal health care, Bill Gates to fail, to eliminate poverty, to smoke crack, sex, to be fashionable. They do not need these things.

My father taught me to question everything that I wanted. "Do you really want that CD son? Twenty dollars is a lot of money." He is never dishonest and claims that a want is a need. When he wants, he thinks why he wants, then he decides. He properly treats wants as secondary. (Bruce Springsteen's "Cautious Man" describes my father well.)

Sometimes simple decisions takes days, but I appreciate my father's lesson.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sitting Around Waiting For Something To Happen

JobLess and I used to sit in the campus cafeteria and stare at women. Before leaving we would tell each other that if we sat there long enough, eventually, something would happen.

Most of life consists of waiting for something to happen. Sometimes, something good happens. Other times, something bad happens. But most of the time nothing happens.

Everyone practices hard when the coach is watching, but what about when the coach is not around? The struggle comes when nothing is happening. It is easy to react to something, but how does one react to nothing?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

International Colleagues

Filipinos love taking pictures. Its an obsession I do not understand. I got roped into a photo session with some Filipinos and Chinese this afternoon.

As it wrapped up a Chinese colleague dead panned to the Filipina, "you should put those pictures on"

You had to be there. It was really funny. I have never been able to tell a funny story.

The other day, I had the pleasure to overhear this conversation:

Albanian to Ethiopian: "There he is. The future King of Ethiopia."

Ethiopian's response: "If I wanted to be the King of Ethiopia, I should have joined the Army. I should have been a general who did not mind killing anyone who threatened my power. You need to be a mean mother to be the King of Ethiopia. A PhD is certainly not going to help you."

I am glad to live in America.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Old Papers

I am going through some old papers. Here is what I found:

"It amazes me that you still believe while I grieve."

"Cigarette legislation reveals that government prefers quick young deaths to slow old deaths. Don't tell me that economics doesn't prevail." (I must have been referring to the lack of alcohol regulation.)

"Consumption is a horrible proxy for decisions. No good, be it food, porn, a book, a wildflower, or a weight-room,can provide utility. Consumption is ex post. In an exchange economy, the decision preempts consumption. We do not eat, decide what the food was worth, and then pay for it. We decide, reveal a minimum level of expected utility, and then consume."

"It is easy to talk about the intellectual foundations of the philosophy of science in a well funded classroom, but the discussion cannot fully mature unless one questions that classroom's existence. Any academic/philosophical discussion must include the public good nature of contemporary education. Economics teaches us to examine incentives and settings; this teaching cannot be forgotten."

"Went to church looking for Truth. All I found was a congregation." From a poem entitled "To Spalding Gray"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


He looked at his car. He had always wanted a fast car. He had thought it was the key to success.

He remembered signing the papers. He felt as if that day would be the turning point in his life. He remembered driving it for the first time. He was free. He got it up to 120 that first night. He had never gone that fast again. He had never gotten a ticket. His insurance was already too high.

He remembered his father's look. There was no pride in it. There was no disdain in it. The look told his son that he understood, but in the end, the old man knew that a fast car meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

He remembered the first time she saw him in his fast car. Her eyes got big. She thought he was a real player. He thought she was a real goddess.

He had taken her to an expensive restaurant. All he could think about the whole night was his boss's advice, "red makes'em spread." She had a couple of glasses of the real good stuff. It was a delicious meal. He slapped down a hundred dollar bill to pay the check. He then searched in his money clip, just for effect, for a twenty through his hundreds and fifties to give the waiter a more than generous tip, the service was good but not great. Her eyes got big again.

He drove just fast enough to keep her interested. He could not afford a DUI. He brought her to his place. She was too drunk to notice the humbleness of his apartment. In the morning, she would see, but the morning came after the night.

His boss was right. Every second was great.

As he was lying on his cheap bed looking at his cheap bedroom, he was still high enough to thank his car. The car had put this beauty beside him. It had given him the best night of his life. He thought about the nights that had yet to come. He thought about beautiful women. He thought about how his fast car was giving him the life of his dreams.

In the morning, she was surprised at the apartment's poverty, but the fast car made her forget as he sped to her humble abode. She looked better in the morning light than she did the previous evening. She kissed him as she got out of the car. He would never find out if the kiss was because of the money clip or pity or something else.

When he got home, it hit him. He had given up on sex being sacred. But, now, it was something banal. He had bought himself a whore, an expensive whore. Yeah, it was great for the time that it lasted, but he would be bankrupt in weeks pursuing this lifestyle. He was already morally bankrupt. He knew there was something more to life than fucking whores. That was what it was, fucking, it was not making love or anything resembling love; it was pure unadulterated fucking. His friends would greatly appreciate it. It was the lifestyle they had championed since they were thirteen. It was just something physical, just something. They all knew better.

He could not remember the girl's name. He could not remember if she had called back or if he had seen her again. He had probably repressed those memories; repression was probably a good thing. He had gotten old. He knew it was the best looking woman he would ever see naked. He knew he enjoyed every second.

Time had taken him to a different place. His wonderful wife had wanted him to get rid of the car long ago, but instead, he put the fast car in the garage for a special day. It was still spotless. It was immaculate. Its magnetic powers were probably greater now than when he first bought it.

He thought of his father's look as he handed the keys to his ambitious son.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Words Versus Ideas

ML was chastised over the weekend for calling someone 'retarded.' My sister yells at me when I use the adjective 'queer.'

Some people think in words. They do not care about the meaning of the words. They do not care about context. The do not care about action. It is more important to sound, look, feel good than be good. They do not care about ideas.

Other people understand the limitation of words. They prefer ideas. They prefer Truth. It does not matter what somebody says; it is what they do. Pink Floyd's classic example is 'was it love or the idea of being in love.' Some people never bother to figure out what 'love' really means.

Ideas are important. Words are a vehicle for ideas. One needs to learn how to drive, but he cannot forget that driving is getting your ass from one place to another. If you have no place to go then a vehicle does no good.

I will expand on this idea eventually. I have been trying to get it to where it needs to be for a few weeks, but I am having transportation problems.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

There Is Time

Tyler Cowen from offered this advice about academic publishing: "You can improve your time management. Do you want to or not?" and "Care about what you are doing. This is ultimately your best ally."

He is right. If you care about what you have to do, then there is plenty of time.

But, what happens when you do not care about what you have to do? Of course, it is your own fault for getting into this depressing conundrum, but these times force indifference upon things you care about. You get caught in a trap where you do nothing well. I do not think there is any good advice on how to get out of these situations except to weather the storm. You just have to learn from your mistakes, and prevent it from happening again.

I have learned that I have to stop making weak decisions. I do not make bad decisions; I make extremely risk-averse decisions. I prefer safety to liberty. (Therefore, Ben Franklin said I deserve neither safety nor liberty.)

This idea is what I have been trying to get at in the last few posts. My generation (the people I have surrounded myself with and myself) makes weak decisions. We have been duped that productivity does not matter. We have accepted an aristocracy with the nobles being bureaucratic knowledge workers, and we all want to be noble.

One thing I would care to do:

Write a basic economics book centered around Buchanan's 8 Cryptic Statements.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Not A Very Good Post

ML pointed out that "my generation" was like all previous generations. She is right. We want to believe, but no one is willing to say "believe in this because it is right." I have never met a Christian who wanted to convince me that Christianity was the Way. I have never met a Frat Boy who wanted to convince me that partying was ultimate bliss. I have never had anyone tell me that I was wrong and they were right.

I did tell a food service manager "to get his thumb out of his ass" yesterday. There was a male manager staring at a female checker fixing a register while another register was broken. The lines were getting longer and the idiot just stood there watching the woman work instead of fixing the other register or opening up a new one. There is nothing worse than poor management.

It is frustrating to hold your tongue. Sometimes you have to say what you think.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My Generation

My generation does not have the moral courage to say they are better than others.

My generation feels sorry for themselves.

My generation is fake. We cannot separate reality from anti-reality. (Maybe its all those video games and internet porn.)

These will go away with age, but I hate getting older.

I dislike "my generation." It trivializes individuals, but it sounds better than 'I' or 'people I know.' (I guess I do not have the moral courage to say 'I' or 'people I know.')

The Allman Brothers Band was great. Gregg Allman was and is the only white man who can sing the blues. Fleetwood Mac's "Tango in the Night" is a good album. There is so much anger in the lyrics that it makes Marx look like a happy man.

So What?

My argument against regional economics did not satisfy ML. She asked the most important question, so what? Localities think they can increase their welfare. My logic will not change them. Complaining is fine, but eventually, you have to make suggestions. One of my problems with Michael Moore's movies is that he offers no suggestions.

Here is my first suggestion for a better society:

Public education needs to be eliminated. The most destructive bureaucracy in the US is public education. Children's first social experiences come in a institution that is based on entitlement. Students cannot see that productive individuals fund public schools. School has nothing to do with learning or increasing your self-worth but something every child must do because it is the law. There is a disconnect between what education is and what it should be. Privatizing education would solve this disconnection as students and parents confront education as a decision under scarcity.

Privatizing education would not decrease the overall level of education. It would make education more specific to the individual. Some students need to specialize before they are eighteen years old. These students would be able to get the education they need without wasting taxpayer dollars.

Pre-existing fixed assets like buildings should be auctioned to private firms taking over primary education with the agreement that tuition would stay below a certain level for five years as parents adjust. Secondary education should be handled in a lassiez-faire manner.

Taxes will have to immediately be decreased. Many local governments will cease to exist as education takes up the majority of their budgets. All government will decrease as people see that its only proper function is in enforcement.

I could expand on this argument in a Veblenesque way, but my point is that public education breeds socialism into students. It is a socialist product best suited for a socialist society.

Side Note:

Every able person should read Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" and Bastiat's "That What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (linked to the right). They should also read Krugman's "Pop Internationalism" and Galbraith's "The Affluent Society" (or one of the many substitutes.) I despise Galbraith's work because I read Hayek and Bastiat, but Galbraith's fallacies reinforce the evil that happens when individual liberty is given to the collective. "Pop Internationalism" is much better than anything Krugman has written for the New York Times. It shows that an economist who is wrong on many things still understands the greatness of exchange.

Responsible citizens require a proper philosophical foundation that they cannot get in a public system.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The 7-Man Blocking Sled

Every offensive lineman hates the 7-man sled. Driving the 7-man sled is plowing a field without an engine or a horse. It is primitive. An overseer coach shouting at his slave players "to drive, drive, god-damnit" is the closest an American can get to 19th century agriculture.

It is also a horrible teaching tool. The sled does not move. It leads to bad habits like putting your head down. It reinforces sloppy technique as players' legs get tired. It does nothing to aide footwork. It causes injuries. It causes fat men to puke and cry (sometimes at the same time.) Unless all seven men have the same strength, height, and hit the sled at the exact same time, something is screwed up which leads to the coach screaming, "hit it again god-damnit."

But, if I started coaching offensive linemen tomorrow, I would make them drive the 7-man sled. I would shout, "Drive. Drive. That's horseshit effort. Do it again."

This cycle is life. Bad habits repeat themselves, until some brave individual decides to do something different and succeeds. Then everyone else follows.

This post should have been titled "the state of the economics profession." Everyone knows what we are doing is wrong, but who is willing to try something different?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


A colleague just reminded me how great Bastiat was: It is a shame that politicians are not required to read about "The Broken Window." The site is also linked on the side under THAT WHICH IS SEEN, AND THAT WHICH IS NOT SEEN .

Wealth is created by individuals, not by government or natural disasters. Fraternity members see-sawing for the March of Dimes does nothing to prevent birth defects. The March of Dimes is a worthy charity but twenty year old males can find better ways to create wealth than see-sawing. They could do my laundry. I would pay them $10 which is $10 more than they got from me for see-sawing. Somebody must ask "What is not seen?"

I wonder what Bastiat would think about a public university offering a course in "Regional Economics." The implicit assumption behind Regional Economics is that one region is more important than another. Who decides the important region?

Life and production not death and taxes.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

"You Just Stick The Right Formula In: A Solution For Every Fool"*

A colleague once told me that I should study philosophy. I retorted that she should study economics. I know very little, but I know I learned more economics working for the old man at the grocery store than I ever did in school.

Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek discusses why it is disappointing that people think that their most important right is voting. I see a person on campus everyday trying to sign people up to vote. I do not see anyone emphasizing the need to uphold individual liberty and the constitution. Democrats (as their name suggests) are horrible about voting. They believe that they are the party of the people, but they do not understand sometimes the people are wrong. They also do not understand that government does and means very little. They do not respect the individual. (The country would not be that much different if Gore or Kerry were elected.) The Republicans are just as bad. They respect the individual's pocketbook and entrepreneurship (sometimes), but want to tell the individual how to live, make love, and eat. (There will be more regulation in the food industry. The USDA has to sustain itself now that the small-farm myth is debunked.)

The continuing Katrina relief effort sickens me. The law of diminishing marginal returns kicked in a hundred billion dollars ago. There are people who are getting rich off these schemes and none of them spent anytime in the Superdome. One day we will have to realize that relief efforts distort insurance markets. People who take risks must bear the consequences of their decisions. I will admit that some of the impoverished could not fully calculate the risk they faced, but we cannot make them better off than they were before the flood. (They will not be made better off anyway. Those who took calculated risks will get both the insurance money and the relief money [at least indirectly.]) We have perverted incentives for all forthcoming disasters.

Here is the research question I would like to answer: How can one justify public organizations that perform the same services as private organizations? How can we justify (especially post-secondary) public education? How can we justify FEMA given the existence of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and etc.?

My hypothesis is that we cannot. Now, since economics is a pseudoscience, I have to "prove" it.

An update on the Freshman with the perky tits. I have seen her around and she seems to be doing fine. Of course, she does not remember me, but maybe my advice helped.

*Indigo Girls's "Least Complicated"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Two Quotes

"People said it because other people said it. They did not know why it was being said and heard everywhere. They did not give or ask for reasons. the most naive of all superstitions." Ayn Rand (228)

"Economics and economists cannot evade their responsibility over such rules and instituions [society] by shifting attention to trivialities. To the extent that they do so, their functional roles can only be filled by the charlatans and the fools, whose presence about us requires no demonstration." James Buchanan (209)

I talked to a professor last week. He passionately supports reason. His goal is to rid economics of intellectual dishonesty. I think Buchanan and the Austrians subscribe to the same mission.

The difference is that the Austrians see economics as a "very peculiar science." My professor sees economics as a pure science.

I do not know. I think I want to join the Freakonomics crowd. I want to study the economics of waking up in the morning in the 21st century, but I cannot do it here. I have to fight the "charlatans and fools" so I can get a degree. I do not know how much fight I have left in me.

Jobless Got A Job With The Federal Government

What does this say about Jobless?

What does this say about the federal government?

How long before Jobless becomes a fully indoctrinated metrosexual?

How far will he get (and who will he get) with "just a good ol' farm boy in the big city" routine?

How long before he gets an internet connection and supports Wannabe in this blogging pursuit?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Stones' "Sweet Neo Con"

My Neo-Marxist professor got me thinking yesterday. He talked about how economists always recommend libertarian policies but never argue for the abolishment of government. (I am paraphrasing. He is a Neo-Marxist and presented an argument about how wealth generating government services provided benefits that were forgotten in welfare analysis.)

Of course; the economists are getting paid by the government. Nobody wants to completely chop off the hand that feeds them. No economist is confident enough to believe that they could succeed without government handouts.

They put up a new bulletin board highlighting the College of Agriculture's goals. I am ashamed. The whole building and everyone who works in it, including myself, is looting Virginia's and the United States's citizens. We are modern day Robin Hoods. We take from the competent and give to the incompetent, making sure to get our share.

"Economics is political." James Buchanan

I am at a crossroads. I can either continue down the path I have chosen. It is safe. It is the interstate. I know what is coming ahead. I know there are plenty of well-marked exits. Or, I can take the treacherous backroad. The Sirens of those backroads are so tempting. And maybe, just maybe, the Sirens are worth it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Personal Rights Declaration

No, I cannot know it all. Yes, there will always be someone better. But, I will always be correct in pursuing perfection. No matter if the pursuit is through books or a small grocery store.

"I have the right to exist." I have the right to pursue happiness as I deem fit.

Nobody can take my "right to exist" away from me unless I allow them. If I allow them, then I have given them my soul.

I am right; they are wrong.

(The "right to exist" was coined and explained best by Ayn Rand.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Difference and Wherever I End Up

I got to sit behind James Buchanan at a seminar today, therefore even though I know better, I feel like the study of economics has purpose.

Donald McCloskey writes "the reader is sovereign." I add that 'the audience is sovereign.' Presentation is everything (that is why pornstars shave). If you have a great idea but you cannot convince people that it is great, then it is your fault not the audience's or the reader's. You cannot call everyone (except for yourself) idiots and retreat to your office. You must do some honest self-reflection and improve your idea or your presentation.

Today's seminar taught me that pure positivism is masturbation without climax. Who cares about what is? I know what is. I do not need someone to tell me about it. It is not interesting that temperatures have risen for the past 50 years. The interesting questions are: Why has temperature risen? and What can we do about it?

"The political philosopher cannot discharge his task if he confines himself to be limited by positivism of the scientist, which confines his functions to showing what is the case and forbids any discussion of what ought to be. If he does so, he will have to stop long before he has performed his most important function." F.A. Hayek

Economists are political philosophers. No, good economists are political philosophers.

I just purchased "August and Everything After" again. I can remember my first reaction (at 14 or so) his (Duritz's) voice is monotone. "I have been here before and I deserve a little more. I belong in the service of the queen. I belong anywhere but in between."--Rain King

Where do I belong?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Meaningless Papers, Oaks, Maples, and Apple Trees Or That Girl In The Gym

Spending the majority of your life redefining greatness

You cannot spend life
It is neither a good nor a service

You are here; You are there
Forget that fucking fear

Yeah, you would like your dreams
Everybody wants heaven
But nobody gets it
We live to formulate teams
But there are no wins
Just ties

When you think you're losing
When you think you're down
Somebody stood and blocked your way
When you'd give it all just to escape the fray
Remember short shorts in the month of May
Those papers, those tests, those arbitrary points
Don't mean much
But legs that go all the way up
That beauty--that fucking beauty
Makes everything worth it

Monday, September 19, 2005

What If We Gave Deer Guns?

They could not shoot them, because they do not have opposable thumbs.

What if we ended welfare and social security?

Those effected people would find new ways of surviving or perish. Just like with Katrina, people would come to the aide of their fellow man.

What if we withdrew from the WTO and eliminated all subsidies and tariffs?

We would be better off than we are now.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sickening Or A Fat Man Thinks Differently Than A Skinny Man

I am sitting at this seminar. These two girls sitting behind me comment on how much they dislike Wal-Mart. Target was okay, but Wal-Mart was the anti-Christ.

I happened to be sitting with six colleagues from developing countries. I told them after the seminar what the girls had said. I then went on a rampage about how half of America (including most of my American colleagues) want to go back to the horse and buggy days. "Horses and buggies, I tell you." I told them how half of the world hated success and that is the real reason those girls hated Wal-Mart. They were champions of mediocrity. I went to a seminar last Friday that said that in developing countries smaller grocery store chains had one strategy, "copy Wal-Mart." I told them how the girls thought they knew what was best for everyone. They wanted to tell me where to shop and what to buy. I would have loved to see those girls riding in a horse and buggy and trying to not step in horse shit. I would have loved to see what they thought of their anti-consumer (not anti-consumerism, Bastiat said it best, "we are all consumers.") philosophy when they were dying of the bubonic plague in a barn without electricity trying to defend themselves from rats eating at their dying bodies.

My developing country colleagues just smiled at me. They knew in those champions of mediocrity lay opportunities for their children. They also knew it was easy for a fat man to complain.

I also saw these sorority girls running around in boy's underwear trying to get boys to sign their tighty whities. Unfortunately, the underwear was wore on top of jeans. They did not ask me to sign. I don't think I would have anyway.

Nobody has ever attempted to convert me to a religion either. Should I be concerned?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

N'Awlins and September 11th

I invite people to read's E-Ticket I think it was supposed to flatter New Orleans, but it did not do much for me. New Orleans seemed like a town that held a lot of memories for tourists, but in the end, it seemed like that guy who got into drugs in the 8th grade and just never stopped doing them. You always had a good time with him, but you did not want anybody of importance to know that you knew him. His lifestyle always intrigued you, but you would never give up your lifestyle and join him permanently. You might hang out for a while, but you really were not his friend.

What I am trying to say with this rambling paragraph is that I think should have rethought their Eticket article. Or maybe New Orleans was just that guy.

Here is an essay on remembering September 11th. What worries me most about many of my colleagues is that they do not want to lay blame on the terrorists.
1. What Have We Lost?
by Robert Tracinski
originally published September 10, 2002

One year later, the hole in New York's skyline where the World Trade Center towers once stood is a visual reminder of something else that is missing: the ideas and attitudes that make a vigorous war in America's self-defense possible.

For many of us, the immediate reaction to September 11 was more than anger. It was a livid indignation that demanded that America strike back with overwhelming force.

But this natural war frenzy was carefully suppressed from the very beginning. A typical news story was one that appeared just two weeks after September 11, presenting one-paragraph descriptions of viewers' reactions when they saw the World Trade Center towers collapse on live television. The interviews expressed sorrow, shock, disbelief--but conspicuously absent were any expressions of indignation at our enemies or the desire to kill them. Such statements were carefully screened out, with one exception. A high-school teacher explained, "There were a lot of kids who said, 'We need to just blow them away.' ... 'I want us to go to war. I want to go over there and kill them all.' And I said, 'Anyone who wants us to go into a war does not have the mental maturity to fight in that war.' "

This sums up the relationship, over the last year, between the American people and the intellectuals--the writers, professors, and media pundits who are supposed to provide guidance in times of national crisis. These intellectuals view it as their job to belittle the American people's natural self-assertiveness and to beat down our national pride. As one columnist sneered: "Has there ever been a nation before in all of history so confident of the superiority of its cause and its power?"

The question was meant rhetorically, as if national self-confidence were a self-evident evil. But that kind of confidence--and the fact that we can back it up--is one of America's greatest achievements.

National pride is the conviction that our ideals and institutions are both moral and practical, that they make us good and they make us strong. America is the first and only nation founded on the moral principle of individual rights, and we have historically been the standard-bearers of liberty. At the same time, the clear lesson of history is that our liberty makes us prosperous and powerful; America is known to the whole world both as the "land of opportunity" and as the world's sole "superpower."

The result, in American culture, is the unique brand of fearlessness and optimism that our intellectuals regard as an arrogant presumption. Americans do not accept the idea that man is doomed to suffering and death; we do not accept that we must resign ourselves to being a target of other people's hatred; we do not accept that we should scale back our ambitions to avoid offending our enemies. Americans believe that it is natural for us to succeed, which means: to win wars and preserve our inviolability from external attack.
Today's intellectuals attack this attitude directly, by denouncing America's "jingoistic bluster" or "imperialism." But more insidious--and effective--are the subtle ways they try to break down American self-assertiveness.

Consider the basic pattern of the mainstream media coverage of September 11--and its one-year anniversary. The safe, uncontroversial approach is to focus on America's loss, on the suffering of the victims and the grief of their families. It is impolite to focus too much on who caused that loss. This attitude is best captured in one memorial message that refers to the "September 11 disaster," as if it were an earthquake or a mudslide, not an act of mass-murder.

After an act of war by a hostile foreign power, to focus primarily on the suffering of the victims turns our attention inward, discouraging us from looking outward to ensure the destruction of our enemies. It makes us think that the appropriate way to memorialize September 11 is to devote a day to "volunteerism" and "national service"--rather than, say, the bombing of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

But what if we decide to look outward to our enemies? Those whose job is to show us the big picture are trying, instead, to shrink the range of our vision, fixing our attention only on the narrowest concretes. Iraq is working to develop weapons of mass destruction, and Iran is the leading sponsor of Islamic terrorist groups--but what, we are asked, does that have to do with September 11? In this outlook, September 11 is not one event out of a larger pattern; such wider abstractions as "terrorist states" or "Islamic fundamentalism" do not exist. Thus, a worldwide conflict between civilization and barbarism is dissolved into a criminal prosecution against a single gang of terrorists.

By crippling the range of our minds and focusing on suffering instead of self-assertiveness, our intellectual leadership is trying to dampen our pride and blunt our resolve. September 11 should be the one day, every year, that we regain the sense they want us to lose--our sense of America's virtue and of her power--and when we resolve to use the second to defend the first.