Thursday, April 10, 2014

Words Formed in Error

Your theme this week really strikes a chord with me. The internet age means blogging. Blogging bypasses gatekeepers, which is all to the good when it comes to imparting sound political philosophy and economic theory. When it comes to careful editing, not so much. 

Otherwise skilled writers are using "lead" as the past tense of lead. They mean led. The confusion is understandable; led is pronounced the same way as the word lead, meaning the element represented by the symbol Pb. But lead most certainly is not the right word! Similarly, I see chose for choose, breath for breathe, and loose for lose. 

Worst of all, I see definately taking the place of definitely and miniscule for minuscule. Ugh! I keep telling myself these words formed in error are a small price to pay for the free flow of information. They stick in my craw nonetheless. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lincoln's Legacy

The Lincoln Legacy? War as an instrument of policy! It can advance the Greater Good, however defined! How would you like it defined?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Word of the Day: Interregnum

It's more than merely theoretical. Hoppe's book is heavily footnoted. He cites the historical record.
Having "a say in your rulers" (honestly, does anyone in the U.S. or Europe really believe this to be the case?) creates moral hazard. The rulers presume mandate. As the embodiment of Rousseau's General Will, they will allow no natural-law considerations to stand in their way.
The fundamental rules of basic human decency (e.g., "thou shalt not steal," thou shalt not kill") no longer apply. They come to adopt the most mind-bogglingly evil means to advance their ends, which they necessary identify with the Greater Good. The confiscatory tax rates (extortion), quantitative easing (counterfeiting), and collateral damage (mass murder) ensue.
In the age of Christian monarchs, wars were strictly limited. A family could enjoy a picnic on a hilltop and watch two kings' armies clash in the valley below. Non-combatants had little to fear. Democracy gave us total war between peoples. Small wonder the age of democracy has coincided with the age of democide.
I hereby close with a dose of levity. This comes from a recent (March 27) Page-A-Day Calendar entry:
An engineer, a surgeon, and a politician were arguing about which of their professions originated first. The surgeon said, “Eve was created from Adam’s rib. That’s surgery.”

The engineer chimed in and said, “But before that, the world was created out of chaos. That’s engineering.”

“But wait!” the politician said. “The chaos: That was all politicians!”
I wish you well.
Tony

-----Original Message-----
From: Anu Garg <garg@wordsmith.org>
To: Tony Pivetta <apivetta@aol.com>
Sent: Mon, Mar 31, 2014 1:30 pm
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interregnum

Mr. Pivetta:

Thanks for your note. Theoretical discussions aside, here's the key question: Would you prefer to live in a country where you have a say in electing your rulers, whether the president, prime minister, governor, mayor, etc., or one where a child of the current ruler becomes the next ruler and his/her child the following ruler, and so on?

All the best,

Anu

On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 8:12 AM, Tony Pivetta <apivetta@aol.com> wrote:


“The antiquated custom of royalty, with inherited offices, divine rights, and privy purses is thankfully becoming rare.”
Dear Mr. Garg:

You may want to rethink your gratitude. If you read Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy: the God that Failed, you’ll see monarchy has a good deal to recommend it, at least vis-à-vis democracy. In point of historical fact, Westerners enjoyed greater personal liberty under the medieval monarchies (things changed after the Reformation, but that’s another story) than they do today.


As an economist, Dr. Hoppe posits low time preference, i.e., future orientation, as a bellwether for a civilization’s advancement. Rulers under democracy serve as mere caretakers of their domains, not owners, so they tend to have higher time preference than monarchs. They exhaust the resources entrusted to them, foisting obligations on future generations. (Sound familiar?) By contrast, monarchs seek capital preservation within the kingdom. In so doing, they best protect the inheritance of their heirs.

The phenomenon of democratic citizens’ more closely identifying with their rulers also comes into play. Democracy's “we are the government” mythology invariably takes a toll on a populace's freedom, wealth and security. In the immortal words of Goethe, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

None of this is to defend monarchy per se. Indeed, Hoppe recommends a "fully-privatized social order," also called anarcho-capitalism, over both monarchy and democracy. This missive aims only to raise studiously ignored political-economic theory to the fore.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baseball Babylon

Baseball, it has been said, holds the key to the American character. They share animating myths. Individualism shaking hands with communitarianism; each player doing good for his team by doing well for himself; an enclosed park, with fences theoretically stretching to infinity. The Framers themselves could not have concocted a better national pastime. 

All nations, though, as wily old Ben Franklin himself warned, eventually succumb to tyranny. It can be no other way. In wily old Thomas Jefferson's words, "The natural order of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."

So it is that baseball fascism breaks new ground every day. Forget about money corrupting politics: one does not poison the probity of a prostitute. Politics corrupts money. Wealthy baseball team owners have pull. They use it to buy influence with governors and state legislators, who turn around and conflate the owners' rent-seeking interests with the "public interest." Sweetheart deals saddling taxpayers with the cost of new stadium construction follow. 

The commissars thereby stand free-market principles on their head: socialized risks underwrite privatized profits. Nor will their economic fascism stop at the water's edge of civil liberties. Coming soon to a boys-of-summer cathedral near you: TSA-style security theater!

Democracy? We deserve and we'll keep getting it, all right--"good and hard," in wily old H.L. Mencken's words.

Not so long ago, the Grand Old Game could still reasonably lay claim to its exalted status. Natural grass, quirky stadiums (not the corporatist, cookie-cutter monstrosities of today) and the pitcher's place in the batting order ensured the game's integrity and continuity with the past.

Not so long ago, undeclared war and diminishing civil liberties still sparked controversy and dissent. As goes baseball, alas, so goes the Constitution.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Popes vs. Potentates

"But popes do not so; when anyone has sinned and has confessed, in place of hanging him or cutting off his head, they put the gospel and cross around his neck, and imprison him, as it were, in the sacristy or treasure chamber of the sacred vessels; they put him into the part of the church reserved for the deacons and the catechumens; they prescribe for him fasting, vigils, and praise. And after they have chastened him and punished him with fasting, then they give him of the precious body of the Lord and of the holy blood. And when they have restored him as a chosen vessel, free from sin, they hand him over to the Lord pure and unspotted. Do you see now, emperor, the difference between the church and the empire?" - Pope St. Gregory II

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reverence for Chains

Here's a philosophical question. If the fools revere the chains, and cannot be disabused of their reverence for them, are they really chains? Don't all of us have chains we revere? Marital bonds? Filial devotion? Ties to families, churches, schools, sports teams, fraternal organizations, communities, etc.? 

What do you propose to do if you view my ties as chains? Of course, you're welcome to employ reason and eloquence to enlighten me. I may reject your arguments. I may choose not to listen to you at all. What then? Will you sic armed agents on me? Will they break my thumbs? Force me to be free?

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Oozing Irony

In 1982, Reagan announced U.S. Marines would soon join French and Italian units in Lebanon as part of a multinational peacekeeping (!) force (!!) to restore stability to that embattled country. A reporter asked him what he specifically hoped to accomplish. The president answered that, first and foremost, he wanted to keep foreign (!!!) influences out of the region. 

Better than 30 years later, the U.S. Secretary of State responds to the Ukrainian crisis by issuing the following statement with all the gravitas that befits his high office: "You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext." Proving once again that the world-weary French had things pegged in the 18th century:

"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."