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.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"I Ain't No Glamour Boy, I'm Fierce"*

It is long, but it needs to be read.

Somebody has to prevent the wolves from killing the sheep, and some have to teach the wolves that killing sheep does not make the wolves' lives any better. Voluntary forbearance is a concept that every person in any successful society must understand. Unfortunately, there are a many people in America who do not understand that laws are not made by government but made by eternal Truths. Murder is not against the law because the State of Virginia says it is. It is against the law because it should and has to be.

I was conversing with ten intelligent people one night, and the subject of whether the building code required fans in bathrooms was discussed. One faction said that it was not in the building code; the others said that it definitely was. Individuals started calling their architect friends and other experts on the building code. I suggested that the proper discussion was whether it should be part of the building code (and should we even have a building code). Nobody wanted to talk about this normative subject. It was much easier to accept that our government and its laws were always just. I was the only one who understood that if it was right to put fans in bathrooms, then I would put a fan in the bathroom. If it was not right, then I would not put a fan in the bathroom. I did not give a shit (I had to do it) what the bureaucratic building code said.

When everybody accepts positive and pragmatic philosophies, the world has no chance at progressing. All one has to do is look at the economics profession to see where positivism gets oneself.

REM's Up is a great album that no one fully appreciates.

*from Living Colour's "Glamour Boy"