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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Loss of Collective Imagination


One of the things that bothers me about the ever growing governments of the world is that people are losing the ability to even imagine alternatives to the State, to imagine non-governmental solutions to problems, to imagine how to get by without the State.  The economic historian Robert Higgs describes the situation as follows:
Familiarity may indeed, as the saying goes, breed contempt, but it also breeds a sort of somnolence. People who have never known anything other than a certain state of affairs ... have a tendency not to notice it at all, to relate it, so to speak, as if they were sleepwalking through it. Such is the situation of modern people in relation to the state. They have always known it, and they take it completely for granted, regarding it as one might regard the weather: whether it brings rain or sunshine, lightning bolts or soothing spring breezes, it is always there, an aspect of nature itself [...]
where that "somnolence" is
... the ideological “hypnosis” (as Leo Tolstoy characterized it) that keeps most people from being able to imagine life without the state ...
I was considering this inability "to imagine life without the state" recently because of a discussion on an email list of friends from MIT that I'm part of.  It started with the following excerpt:
Professor Mazzucato documents the leading role of the government in, for example, “all the technologies which make the iPhone smart,” including the Internet, wireless systems, global positioning, voice activation and touch-screen displays. That is not to detract from Apple’s role, but to put it into context. Without government, the technological revolution that has allowed iProducts to exist would not have happened. [emphasis added]
The implication, though not the explicit wording, is that there can be no major technology innovation without government. Those systems were all (at least partially) developed for defense applications, so perhaps they would have been developed on a different timeline, but it seems impossible to me, given the commercial value of communication that comparable technologies would never have happened without government.

Even more disconcerting to me, was the enthusiastic agreement of my MIT friends with Professor Mazzucato.  Here are a couple of the responses from the MIT crowd:
I can’t think of anything good (in the sense of general welfare) that could have happened if it weren’t for government interference.
 Nothing good without government. He can't imagine even one thing. Ever.
Without the Internet as we know it we might all be dialing into AOL.
Here's my (snarky) response to this last one:
Because nobody would've invented anything else?  UUCP couldn't've evolved into a P2P network?  Cable companies wouldn't've wanted to play and invented cable modem broadband?  Phone companies wouldn't've bothered to invent something like DSL?  The concepts of URLs and HTML are really so complicated that without the government, nobody could've come up with something else to fill the void? 
All that demand there, all that money there, and nobody would've risen to the occasion to fill it, and we'd still be stuck with just dialing into AOL.
That would indeed've been quite a market failure.
But more than a market failure, it would be an unbelievable failure of imagination.  And I find it an astounding failure of imagination to not be able imagine alternate paths that technology and history could take.  We are definitely being transformed from clever foxes to the stupid herd of sheep, in part, because of the ever growing State that is our shepherd.  Transformed from thinking individuals to Higgs' entranced zombies.

A third comment worried me yet more:
Local governments would never reach that height [of sequencing the human genome]. Neither would any corporation ...
And here's (part of) my response to that one:
The word "height" triggers, in my mind, the example of the Great Pyramid of Giza.  Clearly, it couldn't've been built without the full focus of the government at that time.  It was probably considered to be extremely important by the rulers of the time.  It was the tallest man-made structure in the world for nearly 4 millennia and the world remains amazed by this marvel to this day. 
Nobody knows for sure how it was built, but there were clearly a LOT of workers (tens of thousands), who may or may not have been slaves (and "slave" may have had a bit of a fuzzy definition back then).  That means a HUGE proportion of the resources of the society were dedicated to building the marvel.
It seems to me to be a clear example of a very successful government project, and one that couldn't possibly have been done any other way. 
And yet...
Is that really the goal and destiny of humanity?  To reach new and ever higher heights?  
To collectively band together to pour ever more resources into increasingly grand and amazing projects?  For those of us, who in the natural order of such a collective are towards the bottom of the metaphorical pyramid, to be happy enough with our lot and support such things?
Perhaps that really is or ought to be the direction of humanity - for the elite to deploy resources as they see fit and for the rest of us to go along and be proud of whatever accomplishments are achieved.
And yet...
That approach is at least somewhat in conflict with Liberty.  There can, of course, be a balance struck between Liberty and collective achievement, but more of one does pretty much mean less of the other.
I am a little bit inspired by the Great Pyramid.  I am a little bit inspired by the horrible awe of the results of the Manhattan Project.  I am a little bit inspired by going to the moon.  I am a little bit inspired by the sequencing of the human genome.  And so forth.
But, personally, I'm very much inspired by the concept of Liberty and would happily forego many of those government successes for more Liberty.
I hope that one day we can find a balance between Liberty and collective achievement that makes us all happy and fulfilled enough and enables us to all live in harmony.
And beyond Liberty, I hope we can find the balance between collective achievement and imagination since without imagination we are not truly human, in my opinion.

105 comments:

Barry Meislin said...

Well, I don't know about that.

Obama, as far as I can tell, has a really phenomenal imagination... and he's part of the government.

So does Reid.

So does Pelosi.

Etc.

(Is there anything these guys can't imagine?---well, except the Truth, of course.)

Speaking of (limited) imagination, how many of us could ever have imagined that such stellar imaginations would be occupying such positions of power?

What a nightmare.

File under: Our imaginary friends. (All of them.)

erp said...

Barry, I for one, could never have imagined the state our country is in right now, but Bret is right, very few of us can imagine or remember when any interference by government was resisted and resented.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

But why are you waiting for government, or anyone else, to give you the Liberty you long for?

Go out there and get some Freedom by your own hands.


:-)

Bret said...

Barry asks: "Is there anything these guys can't imagine?"

Ummm, yeah. That anything good can happen without the government being involved.

I assume you're joking, but they're just re-imagining the same tired old collectivist dogma, in my opinion.

Bret said...

Clovis commands: "Go out there and get some Freedom by your own hands."

One of the purposes of this blog is to compile a collection of pro-Liberty thoughts and arguments for exactly that purpose. My own hands on my own keyboard on my own computer is what I'm dedicating to the cause. Possibly other sorts of energy one day, if and when the time is right.

erp said...

Along those lines, Bret, somebody mentioned to us that the "militia" not sure who or what that means, is marching on Washington on the 17th of this month?

Anyone know anything about that?

Bret said...

erp,

In my very, very strong opinion, the time isn't right.

IMVVSO, the "march" is both nuts and counterproductive. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually came to light that Obama indirectly organized it to make everybody look foolish and dangerous as a way to help permanently entrench Washington's power.

erp said...

Bret, I agree. In fact, when I heard about it, I had the same initial reaction as you, except I don't think they want everyone to look foolish, I think they want everyone to look like crazed insurgents and that peace needs to be restored by bringing in police tanks and the National Guard ...

I've been saying for years that martial law is in our future leading to the complete takeover of the fascists currently in power.

It's now or never for them.

Harry Eagar said...

'very few of us can imagine or remember when any interference by government was resisted and resented'

Well, that's true. I was among the very, very few who resisted and resented government interference via Jim Crow laws with human rights, but somehow I don't think that is what erp is objecting to.

As for innovation, maybe government is not required for it, but history does show a remarkable propensity for government to inspire it. There was no reason that shipbuilders did not automate the carving of reeve-blocks before the 1790s; the necessary knowledge existed for hundreds of years before that. But not until the Royal Navy required tens of thousands of blocks in a short period did anybody think to do it.

Examples could be multiplied endlessly, so it seems perverse to take the stance that somehow these things that didn't exist without government probably would have.

erp said...

Harry, as it happens, you are wrong. Government, IMO, even local government, has no business making laws like Jim Crow or its just-as-evil-twin, Affirmative Action. Moral equivalence in action can bite both ways!

BTW - When are you going to explain to Clovis what that New Yorker cartoon he posted means?

I, for one, can't wait.

Harry Eagar said...

affirmitive action just as evil as Jim Crow? You have often demonstrated that you understand nothing about segregation, and this confirms that.

Bret said...

Harry,

Affirmative action versus Jim Crow is strictly a matter of subjective opinion.

erp said...

I believe you demonstrate that left wing cant controls you and that you can't make logical connections aka connecting the dots.

Jim Crow laws discriminate among people because of their race. Ditto Affirmative Action laws.

This definition of discriminate from the Free Dictionary sums it up well: To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit,

Your approval of one form of discrimination and disapproval of another doesn't change the fact that they are exactly the same thing: government interference in areas where they should not interfere and had they minded their knitting, there wouldn't have been a problem in either case.

Harry Eagar said...

Not really, Bret. The scope of one was immensely greater than the other.

erp reveals her racism (again). Affirmative action was not something new following Jim Crow, it was a continuation with people of a different hue now being given preference. If you didn't object when white people got preference (and it is obvious that erp never did), then it is racist to start objecting when blacks or browns get the preference.

It is the same with 'forced busing.' Forced busing was universal and no white racist objected until the parameters were changed to result in race-mixing.

There is also this: The modern version of affirmative action is acknowledged as a form of remediation for past wrongs. We can argue, like lawyers, over whether the remedy is appropriate or effective; but it is not possible to make a moral equivalence argument without being racist, because the previous condition was the opposite of an attempt to remediate past wrongs.

Harry Eagar said...

I also wanted to add that I can understand why MIT people, who would walk past the Rad Lab every day (until my brother had it torn down), would have the overall impression that government and innovation went hand-in-hand.

If they had been at Bell Labs (that used to be), they might not have gotten the same impression.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

Please, what do you mean by "until my brother had it torn down"?

Harry Eagar said...

I mean by brother, who is on the faculty, had the administration tear it down, before EPA realized it was full of asbestos.

He figured he saved the school $100 million.

Too bad. It should have been a shrine to science.

Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "The scope of one was immensely greater than the other."

Agreed.

Jim Crow affected about 15 million blacks, affirmative action affects more than 10 times as many people, so you're right, affirmative action is objectively worse.

erp said...

AA is worse because it effectively lets blacks know they can't make it on their own merits, so the standards needed to be lowered for them.

Jim Crow let people of color know that some white people in a few southern states didn't want to let them fully join society because they were afraid they weren't the lesser beings they were portrayed as.

Harry Eagar said...

Bret, you're sure AA affects 150,000,000? Source?

erp is, of course, delusional. When Jim Crow was introduced, it affected the vast majority of American citizens who were black and not in a few states but in about 15, which was a third of them. More, if you count local ordinances. Rcall that Brown v. Board was not a southern suit.

erp, it would do you a world of good to learn the history of the country you are so proud of, because you know very little about it and much of that is false.

erp said...

Harry, you are a great source of mirth. Thank you for all you do to make me laugh.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, I suppose you are also ignorant of the fact -- and it is a fact -- that prior to Brown there was a case overturning segregation of schools between whites and Hispanics. That case was in California.

Would you like to withdraw your statement about Jim Crow now?

erp said...

No.

erp said...

Harry, try to understand. I'm not talking about court cases, I'm talking about the damage done to a significant portion of our fellow citizens by the meddling of the left. It's no different if it's segregation or affirmative action and IMO AA is worse because as has been repeated interminably, there was a separate functioning society among the colored people during Jim Crow. People were free to travel, move north which many did to work in the factories during WWII. Their lives were worthwhile even if they used textbooks cast off by the white schools. The kids learned!

Colored people's self image and self confidence wasn't destroyed the way it is with affirmative action. You on the left tell yourselves that you are making up for past errors, but I don't believe that for a second. If you wanted to do something for poor kids, black, white, hispanic or white, you would get the teachers' unions out of the schools, close up all but local Boards of Education and go back to teaching basics, identify the kids who are smarter and/or more motivated than the others and make sure they get all the need to succeed and get into the best colleges ON THEIR OWN MERITS.

What you're doing is patting yourselves on the back for doing something for the darkies. Poor things. They aren't capable of doing for themselves. If what you're doing worked, there wouldn't be more people who are illiterate and innumerate and don't know anything 'bout history, geography, civics, etc. and half our population wouldn't be on the dole.

It has nothing to do with income redistribution either.

Harry Eagar said...

you are a racist, no different from Phil Robertson. And you don't have a clue what things were like.

Or are like now, for that matter.

I do not care to continue this, but in a final attempt to get you to actually look at your own country, will you please examine the number of black college graduates these days. If the public schools are so bad, where did they come from?

erp said...

Affirmative Action.

Harry Eagar said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

erp said...

That case was closed a long time ago.

Susan's Husband said...

Not finding it a serious case for reparations. Yet more perspective.

erp said...

I want reparations for the exquisite mental anguish I endured when the bank disallowed my rather impressive income on our mortgage application for our first house. I was discriminated against because of a missing Y chromosome, the very same trifling lack that caused me endless other humiliations in school and the workplace.

I'll settle for what the Pigford claimants got, IIRC a couple of bil, even though most of them were for bogus claims.

erp said...

aog,justoneminute link can't be found.

Harry Eagar said...

I see neither of you read the piece at the link, just saw a word and ran off quivering with righteous indignation. You should read it, all the way to the end. You will be surprised.

Susan's Husband said...

erp;

Typepad is suffering from some distributed denial of service attacks on and off. That's why I switch between AOG and SH, using the latter when typepad is unavailable. I just tried the link and it worked. Although now the OpenID is flaking out so maybe it's not working again.

Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Eagar;

Um, no, I didn't run off with indignation. I relied on people I trust to review it for me to see if it was worth while and the concensus was, "not at all".

Bret said...

Harry,

What specifically about this very long and meandering piece do you think I/we might be surprised about?

Clovis e Adri said...

I guess Harry may be pointing to the parallel made there with reparations for Israel and israelis by Germany.

He indeed points to interesting historical facts, I did not know about the little rebellion it generated in Israel.

But you loose your time, Harry, the comparison won't move hearts here.

erp said...

I did read it a couple of days ago and wasn't surprised.

erp said...

aog, link works now. I agree with article about Nigerians of whom I've known a few. Haitians also are hard working and both groups have civilized charming manners practically extinct here now.

Susan's Husband said...

The German reparations were completely different in two critical aspects: (1) they were made to living survivors and (2) were paid by living offenders.

I'm with Bret, I read it, and wasn't a bit surprised. Standard emotional maundering over logic appeal with massive story telling substituting for any substantive argument.

It also seems to suffer from a cargo cult point of view, that wealth is purely external and generated by some unstated process so all that is needed is to distribute it more evenly. You don't get a middle class style by giving people the trappings of that life. That is a core delusion of the progressive project and evidenced in full measure in that article.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
You don't get a middle class style by giving people the trappings of that life.
---

Can you expand it here? I don't get what you mean.

It is about the easy access to mortgage, with regard to the article discussion of the subprime credit?

Harry Eagar said...

I see you didn't read all of it.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

Yes I did. One is left wondering, though, why you are (as usual) so reluctant to make an actual point. Are you really so embarrassed by your views that you can't bring yourself to state them in public?

Clovis;

Instapundit has done a lot of commenting on this, you can search his archives for many good points on the subject. The essence is that 'progressives" observe that middle class people have things that make their life easier and make the assumption that it is the ownership of those things that is fundamental and therefore if you give them to the poor, the poor will become middle class. The reality is, those possession are a result, not a cause - the middle class (in general) owns those things because they have habits of thought, of culture, of life style, that cause them to be able to afford them.

For instance, what has been the result of the massive government push for affordable mortgages? Has it actually lifted any poor out of poverty? Look up some history of what's called "Section 8" housing. You can't make someone middle class by giving them middle class stuff (a diploma, a house, etc.). Such efforts usually make things worse, not better. But that is the essence of the author's point of view and policy, as much as she makes any effort at justification vs. obfuscating story telling.

erp said...

aog, you confuse the lefty mind when you use facts and logic.

Re: Cargo Culture

Primitive peoples made their own replica of the planes they saw flying, so a better analogy to the subject at hand would be if the government came in, made thatch and twig replicas of planes, put all the people in them, pushed them off a cliff and said have a nice flight.

Harry Eagar said...

'the middle class (in general) owns those things because they have habits of thought, of culture, of life style, that cause them to be able to afford them.'

So you are saying that what kept black and brown Americans out of the middle class was lack of those habits?

Got it.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
For instance, what has been the result of the massive government push for affordable mortgages?
---
But if you read the piece, the way he describes it, there were strong efforts by private banks to lure poor black customers into mortgages.

I do not subscribe to the idea those customers are blameless and should not take responsibilities for the debts they signed up for. Yet, the "trappings" you describe were, well, built by private businesses, not government. So why do you indict progressives here?

You'll probably reply that govt. induced that through some general policies, yet the bank signing up those contracts were not controlled by a bureaucrat. You directly put blame for the situation on some abstract entity ("progressives"), or on the lack of work/moral fiber of the poor customer, and yet give no considerations to the role of the other part in those contracts (the financier). I wonder why.

---
Such efforts usually make things worse, not better.
---
Taking the point of view of those (also not small) number of people who took the oportunity and paid their mortgages, and ended up in their own house, I ask you: are they not better off at all, in your opinion?


In a lateral comment, AOG, I wonder if you ever noticed that you hardly have any opinion that could be called constructive. I mean, I only see you pointing fingers and denouncing progressives for ever trying to fix anything. And yet, what are your ideas? Isn't it too easy only always criticize, and to offer nothing else but some vague ideas on how things would work out themselves much better if no one does anything using govt?

erp said...

Yes Harry, I think you got it this time. For a simple explanation, check out my comment on cargo culture.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

No. I am saying it is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

Clovis;

strong efforts by private banks to lure poor black customers into mortgages.

Due to government regulation, was it not? Not because it made economic sense. And here's the deal - something makes economic sense when it benefits both sides. If it doesn't make economic sense, one side is getting screwed, and I can guarantee it wasn't the banks. That's the feature of such government intervention.

yet, what are your ideas?

I've stated them over and over. Go back and read any of these comment strings. I've cited many books and articles the explicate them. You are free to find them unworkable or counter-productive, but it's rather weak to claim they don't exist or that I have not expressed them.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
Due to government regulation, was it not? Not because it made economic sense.
---
I believe this is a gross simplification. There was no dictum by the govt. obliging them to lend to anyone. And banks may be reckless (as they were), but they are not stupid, they were operating with expectations to have gains, so it did make economic sense for them to do what they did. As in every bubble, you can make a lot of money if you play it right. And a lot of players have huge losses by thinking they are the ones playing it right.


To make it clear, what bothers me in what I understand of your view, is: you refuse to accept the poor borrower as victims who can not take responsibility for their acts, and you have me here at your side. Yet, when it come to the lenders, suddenly they must be the naive innocent angels who could not possibly understand the trouble they were getting into.
So one deserved to have the deep pockets of the US tax payers at his disposal to save his ill managed bank, while the other deserves only our most deep contempt?


---
but it's rather weak to claim they don't exist or that I have not expressed them.
---
Sorry if it looks like a weak claim, it is just my feeling. I don't want to offend you by expressing it, not at all.

I can promptly agree many progressives policies went wrong. Yet, I see it somehow as any medicine out there: there are collateral effects. Vaccines can kill too, and usually we calculate the trade-off between how many people they kill versus how many they save. I agree a few progressive policies may have killed more than saved, but they are the exception IMHO.

I can't see you calculating those trade-offs, or even acknowledging they exist in order to criticize them. I mostly see you taking absolute positions, much like those people who refuse to vaccinate their children nowadays.

So, back to our topic: whatever criticisms you may have to govt regulations, that may (or not) have had impacts on mortgage's fanfare, you do not seem able to ever recognize any positive side of the coin. It is like the war on poverty, where you declared it as useless, yet you couldn't answer me if people would or not be living in shantytowns, had your country a policy of zero welfare net.

erp said...

Clovis, google up the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act). In fact, banks were forced to give mortgage loans in the name of diversity, not sound banking practices.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

you refuse to accept the poor borrower as victims who can not take responsibility for their acts

Well, know, I specifically noted that they were damaged by the government intervention. That means I refuse to accept them as victims?

I will admit, though I that I do not view the poor as entities "who can not take responsibility for their acts". This is because I consider them to be people, not abstract statistics.

So one deserved to have the deep pockets of the US tax payers at his disposal to save his ill managed bank.

We truly have a massive failure to communicate here. My policy is to not make those pockets available to banks via those government programs. You interpret that as my whole hearted support for such programs?

I can't see you calculating those trade-offs, or even acknowledging they exist in order to criticize them

Yes, you definitely seem to have difficulty with that. Try letting go of more of your assumptions. For instance, that progressives policies in general are helpful and are rarely harmful. Consider the possibility that some people (like me) believe exactly the opposite, that it is a rare progressive policy that has a net positive impact.

you do not seem able to ever recognize any positive side of the coin

On the contrary, I do recognize that precisely because it is what I think seduces people in to support progressive policies. My point on this topic is that one needs to look at the larger scope, not get distracted by anecdotal successes from these policies.

the war on poverty, where you declared it as useless

No, I declared it counter-productive.

you couldn't answer me if people would or not be living in shantytowns, had your country a policy of zero welfare net.

Cite, please.

P.S. erp is quite right, look up the CRA, or better yet ask Hey Skipper about it :-).

Harry Eagar said...

'No. I am saying it is a necessary but not sufficient condition.'

Yet when it was (even according to erp) an existing condition, black Americans were denied middle class educations, jobs and aspirations, until gummint interfered.

Clovis is right. You advocate minarchy, which does nothing -- and by definition can never do anything -- for the oppressed.

Harry Eagar said...

yeah, Skipper will explain how Countrywide, which was not covered by the CRA, was forced to make the largest number of crazy loans.

Even the drooling idiot Sowell admits -- by inference -- that it could not have been the RA, when he gleefully points out that the bad loans were concentrated in "coastal areas." (Well, OK, they were concentrated in Las Vegas and Phoenix, but I said he was an idiot.)

Rightwingers cling to the CRA myth because otherwise they would have to admit to a massive market failure that could have been avoided by New Deal-style regulation.

erp said...

Harry, blacks weren't denied education, they were denied, for a finite period of time, an integrated education and as we have seen, were better educated while they were segregated than they are now 50 year later.

Watch those racist remarks Harry. Name calling black people might get you an IRS audit – oh wait a minute, it's okay to call black people who aren't on the plantation names, it's only the new age slaves and sycophants who are safe from attack.

Your infatuation with Frankie is absurd. Even lefties are on to him now.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
You interpret that as my whole hearted support for such programs?
---
No, I was not implying you did support it, only that your rhetoric looks to only indict one side of the deal.

---
Consider the possibility that some people (like me) believe exactly the opposite, that it is a rare progressive policy that has a net positive impact.
---
OK, I have no problem with that. But the point is, IMO you define yourself for what you are against. I can't see working ideas proposed here by you, only repetitive denunciation of progressive policies. Were we to delete progressives out of existence, you would loose your identity.


---
Cite, please.
---
The search engine for comments here makes that not easy. But I am getting used to discussing with old people here with no memory, so never mind, even if I find the quote, in a few hours you'll forget everything we discussed anyway.

I won't, for example, try to remember you of how wrong you were about ACA enrollment numbers after all. That's another point where your memory will go blank before remembering all the wrong predictions you made here... progressive policies will always be a disaster for you with the kind of selective memory you show here.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

See the "but not sufficient" part.

You advocate minarchy, which does nothing -- and by definition can never do anything -- for the oppressed.

There is the rotten heart of the progressive world view - the poor can do nothing for themselves, any progress must come from the self selected progressive elite (the White Man's burden reborn). The liberal view of minorities hasn't changed since Jim Crow, it's just the derived policies that are different. The dehumanizing core remains, because that's the real benefit of poverty programs.

Historically, of course, free markets and minarchism have alleviated far more poverty than anything else.

Clovis;

I indicted only one side, the goverment side, which you read as blaming the poor. That's what I fail to understand.

I have no problem with that. But the point is, IMO you define yourself for what you are against. I can't see working ideas proposed here by you

No, you do have a problem with it as demonstrated in this very sentence. By "working ideas" you mean, as far as I can tell, mean government intervention. That is, my arguments are only legitimate if those arguments accept your basic premises. I really can't label "your philosophical point of view is fundamentally illegitimate" as "not having a problem".

I define myself as a minarchist, which is a specific style of governance. I have explained before my fundamental philosophical view, which is consent maximization. Because these views don't lead to policies of governance which are sufficient active, you deny them entirely. That's your problem.

But I am getting used to discussing with old people here with no memory,

Translation: "I'm losing, so I'll just fling insults".

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

As for the ACA numbers, you might look here. The link is somewhat broken, but go to the second page and look for the comment at"February 26, 2014 at 3:38 AM".

I'll quote the relevant comment, written by you -

"My comment was misguided. I was aware that they were projecting to sign up 6 million instead of 7 (so it is not "they signed up", but "they intend to sign up").

It looks like they now fear barely getting to 5."

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] [erp,] you are a racist, no different from Phil Robertson. And you don't have a clue what things were like.

The progressive's reflexive resort to this libel is astonishing for both its predictability, and its amorality.

Harry, you have repeatedly demonstrated you either don't understand the concept, and therefore should refrain from using it, or cannot use it honestly, and therefore should refrain from using it. To wit.

You linked to a MSNBC clip accusing people of being racists when saying things that didn't have the first thing to do with race. And when I pushed you to justify yourself, you responded with [crickets].

I don't think there is anything that moves me more quickly to a kind of fury than progressives baselessly hurling the racist accusation — the only purpose is to first demonize, then ostracize, anyone who has the temerity to contradict your own deeply religious racialist beliefs.

Just so here. Nothing erp said is even remotely racist (nor was Phil Robertson; I've seen some foolish arguments on the internet, yours was one for the ages). Indeed, her accusation of progressives' racism is closer to the point: anti-poverty programs do not benefit the overwhelmingly black poor, but they certainly do benefit the largely white pooreaucrats. The public education establishment serves only itself, while victimizing generations of urban students.

The only way to stop progressives' nasty behavior is to continually challenge them. I doubt it will do anything to much to change their behavior, because their fundamentalist religious devotion to their intellectual superiority is beyond changing, but it is fulfilling to listen to the [crickets].

(One of these days, when I get done with a major project at home, I will chronicle my latest foray into Crooked Timber, where they utterly beclown themselves. The next time I hear a progressive slam religion, I'm going to have a tough time deciding whether I should laugh myself into an aneurysm, or reach for my gun.)

Harry Eagar said...

'Historically, of course, free markets and minarchism have alleviated far more poverty than anything else.'

Really? That would explain why the black sharecroppers in Alabama before the New Deal were living on 10 cents a day per capita.

Really? That would explain why so many middle class blacks rose into the upper ranks of American business management before the Great Society.

Oh, what? They didn't rise? Oh, well. You can just make crap up, like erp.


Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] The Case for Reparations.

And an excellently argued case against reparations.

I see neither of you read the piece at the link, just saw a word and ran off quivering with righteous indignation.

I have read it. It is quite well written, very evocative, told me nothing I didn't already know, and did a pretty good job of hiding begged questions.

Coates did an excellent job of describing how awful things were, and therefore remain, for blacks.

Making a case for reparations, not so much. Nor did he follow his reasoning to its end. Let's say we blue eyed devils paid up. Having done so, we would be perfectly entitled to forever after saying, when reparations inevitably fix nothing, "look, we paid up already, now piss off."

[AOG:] … the middle class (in general) owns those things because they have habits of thought, of culture, of life style, that cause them to be able to afford them.

[Harry:] So you are saying that what kept black and brown Americans out of the middle class was lack of those habits?


Harry, pay more attention to tense. People often use it because it is important. AOG is clearly saying that what continues to keep some (definitely not all) colored people out of the middle class is the lack of attitudes and decisions that create middle class results.

Not "kept", "keeps".

[AOG:] Due to government regulation, was it not? Not because it made economic sense.

[Clovis:] I believe this is a gross simplification. There was no dictum by the govt. obliging them to lend to anyone.


The government regulation AOG refers to, which predates the CRA, redlined black neighborhoods, forcing blacks into rent-to-own arrangements, rather then being able to get conventional mortgages. (One thing the Coates article did teach me.)

[Harry:] yeah, Skipper will explain how Countrywide, which was not covered by the CRA, was forced to make the largest number of crazy loans.

This saves me the bother of retyping arguments you never, ever, respond to.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Thank you for finding the location of our previous ACA discussion.

You quote me discussing the numbers projected by then, after I have bought a little of your mistrust with the official numbers. And in the same post you quote above, you have me saying:

"So I prefer to reserve judgment for the final numbers, disclosed in ink, paper and bits, for they will let no doubt as to the real picture here."

And that's what I did, and it paid to be careful, for the numbers ended up being much better than the more paranoid conspiracionists like you were projecting. You know, it would show some honesty to recognize how you got it wrong back then.

---
But I am getting used to discussing with old people here with no memory,
Translation: "I'm losing, so I'll just fling insults".
---
Forgive me if I did not make it clear my irony. I was not really remarking on your age (of which I have no idea in fact), but on your selective memory. Just like Erp, you have the curious tactic of "forgetting" inconvenient facts.



---
By "working ideas" you mean, as far as I can tell, mean government intervention.
---
No, not at all. I mean only verifiably realistic proposals. Your miniarchist positions remind me much of the farmer who only waits the rain to come, for things are as nature want them to be. It is not the kind of disposition that leads to progress.

Were you able to work out, to some reasonable extent, how the non-governmental actors may play in order to give better responses to many problems out there, I would be happy to hear. But you shy away from giving such details. Maybe because you haven't the time to waste typing them. Or maybe because you really have no idea, other than some naive and self-centered notion that if it works for the Internet, it works for anything else.

In some ways, you are the new version of Plato's dream of a Republic commanded by philosophers. Only that you would change it for miniarchist programmers, and be oblivious to the many degrees to which reality out there is more complex than bits flowing through cables.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

On racism charges:
---
The progressive's reflexive resort to this libel is astonishing for both its predictability, and its amorality.
---

I do protest here your abuse of "progressive bashing". It is well recorded here how Erp - which no one would classify as progressive - promptly resorts to the same libel, with little protest (if not implicit agreement) from the other standing by conservatives.

My conclusion is that both progressives and conservatives resort to that libel too easily. You better find another behavior you don't like on progressives to complain about.

erp said...

Clovis, like most lefties you do not understand sarcasm. What I said about Harry being a racist for insulting Sowell was sarcasm, but in fact he is a racist, not for that statement, but because he sees blacks as inferior, lesser beings than himself who need his ministrations to survive. He can't be disabused of that because should he see that it is his ministrations that have kept a significant portion of blacks in bondage, he would have denied his entire world view.

Forgetting stuff? I have become forgetful. I forget words, where I left my glasses, coffee cup... , but I don't forget what I believe and since I always say what I mean and don't make stuff up, it doesn't matter if I forget the exact phrase I used five years back, the meaning is the same.

Others here say it better, but my view is that the government should stay out of our lives except as spelled out in the Constitution. We are all equal under the law and only under the law. In all other areas we are profoundly unequal as anyone with eyes can see, but by jumping into the melting pot we all became part of the whole. It worked wonderfully well, so well, that now the melting pot must be cracked open and instead of i pluribus unum, we are being coerced into divide and conquer with every special interest group being either punished or rewarded depending on whether it pleases or displeases our masters.

Reparations were paid in full by civil war. The left managed the aftermath of the war very badly, but even at that, poor blacks made their own communities. They were poor, but so were whites in the same situation. The left has managed everything since then very badly and after Wilson, picked up the pace, so that now we are hurtling down the rabbit hole at a frenetic pace.

It is my opinion that this summer will see riots and blood in the streets and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if martial law is declared dealing the death blow to the American dream.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,


I was not talking only about your comment on Sowell.

On reparations, I am actually against affirmative action in general. It is interesting how you assume I am for it without ever asking me about my opinion. That's because, usually, you do not pay attention to my points, only to the straw man you think them to be.

erp said...

Clovis, I guess your comment that I am cold hearted because of my opinions led me to believe you didn't share them.

Please elaborate: You are against affirmative action, but in favor of welfare? That doesn't compute.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

You are indeed cold hearted, independent of any opinion you have on affirmative action.

Now, I find your postulated contradiction between pro-welfare and anti-affirmative action very amusing. Please, tell me how that does not compute.

If the reason you say so is because you think welfare is just for blacks, think again:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/welfare-statistics/

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/07/02/poverty-in-america-myths-about-welfare-recipients/

erp said...

I have repeatedly said that my views on welfare and everything else have nothing to do with race. Other than stating the obvious that welfare and its even more evil twin, affirmative action, are one and the same, since both are based on the left's assumption that blacks are unable to function as independent adults, what makes me cold hearted in your view.

Harry Eagar said...

So, ummm, the affirmative action for dull white boys must have been based on a conservative belief that whites were unable to function independently?

Got it.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

verifiably realistic proposals

Ah, ones with which you already agree.

But you shy away from giving such details

Like, say, that long discussion on the Internet and its rise...an inconvenient fact, conveniently forgotten...?

You've quoted Tocqueville, you can go read him for many more examples.

you are the new version of Plato's dream of a Republic commanded by philosophers.

Um, no. It is precisely that sort of thing I oppose. That is, in fact, the vision of the "progressives".

As for the ACA, disagreeign with government predictions is to be a "paranoid conspiracist"? Wow.

Mr. Eagar;

We're all still waiting for what the surprising thing in that article you cited is.

As for free markets and poverty, your argument is basically that since that didn't result instantaneously in a post-scarcity society I'm wrong? Um, yeah, you go with that.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[Clovis] verifiably realistic proposals
Ah, ones with which you already agree.
---
Again, not what I said. I mean ones I can be convinced of if they look feasible. I am rather flexible and prone to learn. The fundamentalist here is you.

Let me give you one recent quote:

"Just as any revolution eats its children, unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself. To counteract this tendency, individuals and their firms must have a sense of their responsibilities for the broader system."

Does it come from some mad socialist? No, it comes from the Bank of England governor. The faith you display here - believing in an ideological abstract system you are unable to reasonbly defend in the real world - is giving second thoughts even to central bankers.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
I have repeatedly said that my views on welfare and everything else have nothing to do with race [...] welfare and its even more evil twin, affirmative action, are one and the same, since both are based on the left's assumption that blacks are unable to function as independent adults
---

Please, Erp, read again your phrase above. You declare at the same time that welfare have nothing to do with race, and yet it is a trap to lure blacks into eternal dependency. No contradiction here?

If you have read the links I gave you, you would see that roughly the same number os blacks and whites are in welfare in your country. So, you could say that such welfare is "based on the left's assumption that blacks" - and whites! - "are unable to function as independent adults", yet you choose to single out blacks.

No trace of racism here? I would give the benefit of doubt to others, but in your case I know better.

erp said...

Clovis:

I didn't single out blacks, Harry did (BTW Harry, I am against affirmative action for all). I've said many time that it is the goal of lefties to put as many people in custodial care as they can to insure that they are in power for the indefinite future.

Since poor blacks had a very different history than poor whites, Harry believes they should be treated differently than poor whites. I disagreed and said IMO blacks were better off even as slaves and definitely during Jim Crow because they had hope for a better life, families, communities, etc. You may disagree as is your prerogative.

Not to repeat dozens of comments which you dismiss.

I am very familiar with life in the U.S. and need not be given links from someone who has a very tenuous understanding of life in the U.S. right now and an even more tenuous understanding of our history which has been rewritten by overwhelmingly leftwing academics, intellectuals, media, all of whom have one goal: World Socialism.

Annoying Old Guy said...

So, someone whose job, power, and social status depend on Big Government thinks a lack of Big Government is a bad thing. How unexpected.

I would also note that the basic goal of Big Government is precisely to destroy that sense of responsibility by transferring it to Big Government. Perhaps you should ponder that quote yourself.

you are unable to reasonably defend in the real world

Simply repeating a debunked claim doesn't make it true. I did just that and pointed it out in my previous comment.

However, I don't object to the label fundamentalist. You seem to to think that's pejorative but that's likely because it's politically incorrect to you.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
So, someone whose job, power, and social status depend on Big Government thinks a lack of Big Government is a bad thing. How unexpected.
---
How do you justify such affirmation? Read again the quote above and tell me how it translates to bigger government, please.

---
Simply repeating a debunked claim doesn't make it true. I did just that and pointed it out in my previous comment.
---
No, you didn't. Not once in our many conversations.

You either send me to a text almost 200 years old (sure nothing changed from them to now that would ask for an update, right?), or you approximate the world for a society of few thousand computer engineers/programmers/businessman, all of them highly qualified and coming from the richest places in the world (basically the people who did the Internet, right?).

Both cases qualify better as diversion than answers, IMO. (I can believe you are satisfied enough with them, our levels of exigence are clearly different).

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Um, if that quote isn't about Big Government enforcing that sense of broader responsibility, then it's a meaningless tautology that applies to every belief system.

As for the rest, I see I accurately got the gist of what you mean by "verifiably realistic".

Harry Eagar said...

'BTW Harry, I am against affirmative action for all'

No, you are not. You enjoyed affirmative action for whites without protest. Shoe gets moved to another foot and you are mightily aggrieved. Too late.

It's as with forced busing, which has come up before. If you didn't protest when it took black kids past white schools, you have no standing to protest when it takes black kids to white schools.

An anecdote:

A mixer for freshmen at Princeton. The fathers were asked to mark their name tags with their graduation year. A not so subtle sheep/goat separator for legacy admissions.

It is kind of hard to be a legacy admission if nobody in your family was ever admitted before.

(When my brother the bishop went with my nephew to the mixer, he told me he was tempted to put 1797 on his tag, the year one of our ancestors was let out of Princeton.)

erp said...

Harry:

a. I never saw children bused by race anywhere I lived which was beginning in 1934 and in chronological order: Queens, a borough of NYC; suburban Connecticut; rural Vermont; red-neck Florida and I never indicated that I was or am aggrieved by blacks being bused to white schools. It's your pathological obsession with race that colors your every thought.


b. My older son graduated from Princeton in 1982 and we attended many functions during those four years. At none of them were we asked to wear anything but a peel-off name tag on which we wrote our names. BTW – he was admitted to Princeton strictly on merit as our family didn't go back to the 18th century; nor did we have family money or political connections.

Clovis:

I was looking at some stuff to double check the year my son graduated and found a copy of his doctoral dissertation, the title of which is: The One-Dimensional Monoenergetic Time-Dependent Transport Equation in Infinite Media (Revisited). I hope that is helpful to you in identifying his field of study.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Well, thank you very much for checking that.

I could indeed locate his field, and even his CV.

You have a good physicist as a son, and he has done a pretty good career so far, you ought to be a little bit more proud than you actually show here.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

I can only tell you that, if you are really interested in having that miniarchist system you so much dream about, you should start working a little bit more on how you present your ideas to convince people around you.

I don't think I will be the only one scratching my head to understand how that is supposed to work in our modern times. Sincerely, your sneering answers are of little help.

erp said...

Clovis, comments about my family are out of bounds.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I am sorry for praising your family, it won't happen again.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

No, mostly you are. I do this in real life too. Much of my professional work involves explaining highly complex systems to people in language they can understand, work for which I am in much demand and very well paid.

I would say it's not my answers that are sneering, but your response to them (e.g., sneering that the Internet was built by just a few thousand people to dismiss my point on that). I've learned over the decades when to cut my losses on people who actively want to not understand.

Mr. Eagar;

Still waiting for any point at all from your cited article.

Harry Eagar said...

Not strictly on merit, erp.

He suffered from having places awarded to dull white legacy admissions and benefitted from not having to compete will highly-qualified brown people.

Over time, white applicants to Princeton have benefitted much more from affirmative action than they have suffered.

If you never saw busing, that's because you didn't look. It was there to see.

erp said...

Harry, thanks so much for clarifying my life for me. Not to brag, but my kid was far past exceptional, so much so that the Princeton Testing Services interviewed me for a study they were doing on how to identify exceptional minds in the very early years. He tested off the charts literally. In 6th grade his score was not calibrated, so I really doubt any black, white or any other color would have been a threat and there was a bidding war among the major institutions (even those for which he didn't apply like Harvard) for his admission. He chose Princeton because Einstein worked there.

As for busing. There were black kids, as well rich kids and poor kids of every hue, in all the schools my kids attended in NYC, Connecticut and Vermont and if they were still young and lived here in Florida with us, they would have had a mixture of colors in their school yet again.

Have you thought of having some counseling to help resolve your issues with blacks? Did your governess read you "Uncle Tom's Cabin" when you were a wee lad and leave you traumatized? Your Uncle Pat, like every other citizen, had no obligation to build his business in an area he didn't want. It's actually none of your business nor the business of any other person even if he could have made a bigger profit and provided jobs for blacks.

It puzzles me that you didn't use your considerable talents to build businesses in black neighborhoods in order to provide jobs for the poor instead of living on a hillside in Maui enjoying the tropical breezes and delivering incoherent screeds to your betters.

Hey Skipper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] So, ummm, the affirmative action for dull white boys must have been based on a conservative belief that whites were unable to function independently?

No, their parents gave lots of money to the schools, creating large endowments, without which poor kids wouldn't be able to attend.

Harry Eagar said...

So, and referring back to Bret's racism thread and the contention that blacks should just start businesses, blacks of the early 20th century should have provided large endowments to Ivy League schools.

How careless of them to have neglected to do that.

Bret said...

Harry Eagar wrote: "...blacks of the early 20th century should have provided large endowments to Ivy League schools."

They should be (and actually have been) bootstrapping themselves like the Taiwanese. There are nearly 2 million businesses owned by blacks now so soon (another generation or so) they will be doing exactly that.

It would've been interesting if Malcolm X hadn't been assassinated. They might've got there a lot faster (though it might've also been more violent).

Harry Eagar said...

Shhh, don't let erp hear you. She is sure they are all illiterate layabouts who care so little for their political rights they will sell them for an Obamaphone.

But, query for you, are you going to chalk this explosion of black entrepreneurialism to the Great Society, and if you aren't, please explain why it did not take off earlier?

erp said...

Harry, believe it or not, things were very much improving for blacks after the Second World War and would have continued to improve, including entrepreneurship, in an orderly manner, but that interfered with the left's plans, so they escalated what they knew would exacerbate racial tensions by forced busing and the second civil rights act.

The evils of welfare and Obamaphones rain down on blacks and whites equally.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

Your exchange there is an excellent embodiment of the Modern American Leftist mindset which is about taking not building.

Mr. Eagar;

As erp notes, those trends started before LBJ and were, if anything, negatively impacted by the Great Society.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Bret;

More formatting help - I put a link in my last comment and it's indistinguishable from normal text.

erp said...

What the Great Society has wrought with a little help from its bratty little brother, political correctness:

Widespread Memorial Day Black Violence Ignored by National Media

Harry Eagar said...

'As erp notes, those trends started before LBJ and were, if anything, negatively impacted by the Great Society.'

Wikipedia:

'The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, reflecting a political compromise, abolished the use of the poll tax (or any other tax) as a pre-condition for voting in federal elections, but made no mention of poll taxes in state elections.

'In the 1966 case of Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the Supreme Court overruled its decision in Breedlove v. Suttles, and extended the prohibition of poll taxes to state elections. It declared that the imposition of a poll tax in state elections violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.'

(Breedlove was handed down in 1964; you don't know any more American history than erp. So it took only a little over 100 years for the 14th Amendment to start having force.)

erp said...

Harry:

The poll tax was a shoddy attempt by powerful elites to keep control just like it's a shoddy attempt by the powerful elite aka fascists in power here now to keep control by claiming that requiring Voter ID Cards is just like the poll tax -- designed to keep blacks from voting.

Not requiring ID's is just like the poll tax because it will keep the elites in power now just like the poll tax kept the elites in power in earlier times. Only the names and faces have changed.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

As I've said repeatedly any of the many lefty presidents at least since Wilson could have desegregated all federal lands and institutions and abolished the poll tax in federal elections.

I'm still waiting for you to tell us why in your opinion they didn't do so.

To quote Skipper:

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

... crickets

Harry Eagar said...

Because the electorate was overwhelmingly racist.

It's still racist, but overwhelmingly so only among rightwingers.

Elite opinion, which you dislike so much, for obvious reasons, has come around to the view that the Constitution wasn't only a slick scheme to cheat the Continental veterans out of their pensions but that the rest of it meant something, too.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Eagar;

Since the topic was economic trends, I have no idea why you think poll taxes are relevant. You also apparently don't understand the word "trend", either.

Harry Eagar said...

Taxes are irrelevant to economic trends? Stop the presses and tell the Tea Party!

Annoying Old Guy said...

Reducing taxes are the key element to improving the economic situation of minorities? Stop the presses and tell the Democratic Party!

erp said...

I wish I could believe that Harry's pathetic chanting of leftwing catch phrases like poll tax, Jim Crow, KKK, Wall Street, Halliburton, tea party ... was a signal that the left was in decline, but I fear it's only Harry old fashioned New Deal brand of socialism that is in decline and he hasn't even gotten the memo/fax/email/text/twitter/tweet, etc. of the new fascist list of favorites to demonize, like "conservative" (I wish) Fox News, the current favorite, but maybe they don't get it out there in paradise.

Harry Eagar said...

In the next few seconds when I type 'Halliburton' it will be the first time.

Nice to have you confirm that being against the KKK or the poll tax is a sin among rightwingers.

Guy tries to be clever but misses he point: the reduction of poll tax was not an economic measure.

erp said...

Harry, I'm beginning to think English isn't your first language either. The word "like" in that list means that those words are lefty cant, not that you particularly used every one of them.

You still haven't given us your definition of "rightwinger." I define it as fascist, so in this instance I agree with you that they think it's sin to be against the KKK or poll tax.

I've already said the poll tax was a ploy to stay in power by the leftwing elites and wasn't only targeted at coloreds, but women and poor whites as well, not you care. It's always an economic negative when any portion of our fellow citizens are not free to partake of all the opportunities afforded the rest of us.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Eagar tries to be coherent but misses the point that he was the one who claimed the poll tax was an economic issue.

"Taxes are irrelevant to economic trends?"