- Just a jump to the Left—Saturday, March 1st, 2014
In Back to Work in the Weekly Standard, Irwin M. Stelzer presents a particularly Sowellian, if I may coin the term, response to the failures of Democratic attempts at more government spending and more government interference: they had the wrong intentions. Conservatives can succeed at government largess and control because they proceed from the right intentions.
Arguing for a minimum wage increase, he takes the common deceptive approach of agreeing to one drawback, blowing it up into the only drawback, and then asserting that it isn’t a big deal. Since the only drawback isn’t a big deal, might as well go along.
The CBO reckons that a move to the level [of minimum wage] Obama seeks would destroy 500,000 jobs. But it would also increase the incomes of more than 16.5 million workers.
He glosses over the “unforeseen consequences” that make this “possibly a fatally flawed thought” such as which jobs those 500,000 are going to be: the entry-level and first-time jobs for people just starting out building a career and gaining experience. The jobs most likely to be automated if the cost of humans becomes too high.
But Stelzer has a “conservative” solution for this, too:
- The Secret Knowledge—Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
Nothing is free. Everything is a trade—everything is a compromise. The error of the left is a deliberate ignorance that short term actions have long term consequences. And, more generally, a deliberate refusal to accept the concept of cause and effect. Leftists go out of their way to show the corruptibility of politicians—and then argue in favor of giving government more power.
You can ask, after all, that politicians render competing claims for state benevolence with “fairness” but,
The politicians and bureaucrats discriminating between claims will necessarily favor those redounding to their individual or party benefit—so the eternal problem of “Fairness,” supposedly solved by Government distribution of funds, becomes, yet again and inevitably, a question of graft.
More specifically, fairness to the left is not fairness of law, but fairness of outcome regardless of law; the former can be set and applied equally, but the second requires a “politician or bureaucrat” to discriminate between claims based on the sentiment of the case at hand. He analogizes to sports, where,
The job of the referee, like that of the courts, is to ensure that the rules have been obeyed. If he rules, in a close case, sentimentally, he defrauds not only one of the two teams, but, more importantly, the spectators. The spectators are funding the match. As much as they enthuse over their favorite team, their enthusiasm is limited to that team’s victory as per the mutually understood rules. (Who in Chicago exulted over the triumph of the 1919 Black Sox?)
The product for which the spectators are paying is a fair contest, played out according to mutually understood and agreed-to rules. For though it seems they are paying to see success, they are actually paying for the ability to exercise permitted desire, and so are cheated, even should their team win, if the game is fixed. To fix the game for money is called corruption, to fix the game from sentiment is called Liberalism.
What greater act of colonialism than to bind a segment of our own population to shame and poverty through government subsidy and by insistence that they be judged by lower standards than the populace-at-large?
- Conservative policies go to pot—Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
From blog comments to the weekly standard, drug warriors are responding to the fake legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington With two arguments; often, as in John P. Walters’s Weekly Standard article, from the same person:
- Prohibition is necessary to keep people from using pot.
- Prohibition is never enforced just for using pot.
They literally want to keep the laws in place as discretionary laws enforced at the whim of law enforcement. You might as well say, of our gun laws, well, yes, everyone who owns a gun breaks some of them but very few are prosecuted, so the laws are good.
This is, after all, the Obama administration’s policy, too: we won’t enforce these laws unless we feel like it.
It’s this attitude that got us a president who uses the FEC to target only conservative groups and who exempts his cronies from the Obamacare exchanges. Prohibition is the conservative Obamacare: the law is less a consistent rule and more an aspirational idea.
Walters even argues that it is bad to remove the penalties against drug use because then dealers will no longer be able to negotiate lesser sentences. The point of the system seems to be making jobs for lawyers rather than creating an easily-understood system of laws. That is, when it comes to drug laws, conservative drug warriors are leftists. They believe in the power of the state to control the lives of the third of the country that has broken this law. They believe in the discretion of the state to choose which of those hundred million people should face criminal sanction and which should be exempted.
There are real problems with current drug legalization efforts, not the least of which is that it is hardly a test of legalization if the federal laws remain in place to be re-enforced at the whim of the executive.
Nor is it a test of legalization if the taxes that replace criminal penalties are so prohibitive that they don’t even undercut the black market. Conservatives rightly make fun of countries like Canada and other regions that increase taxes on tobacco so much that people start buying them from criminals. A marijuana tax that can’t even compete with the expensive black market is no different. It may not encourage lawlessness as much as a prohibition law that is enforced only arbitrarily, but it still encourages lawlessness.
- The Art of the Elephants (and other ancient astronauts)—Friday, January 31st, 2014
I saw this elephant painting video a few days ago on Facebook, and it’s been bugging me ever since. I just realized last night why: it reminds me of something I read when I was in high school. I used to read a lot of Erich von Däniken. The title of this post is a play on his The Gold of the Gods. Back in the seventies, his Chariots of the Gods was a fascinating theory. Taken together, all of these stick figures, Mayan glyphs, and giant Nazca lines seemed to open the possibility of influence by a technologically advanced civilization. I bought and devoured his books as soon as they showed up in the paperback aisle in the local Meier Thrifty Acres.
Right up until The Gold of the Gods. In Gold of the Gods there’s a “rock painting” of an ancient astronaut in a space suit, wearing a helmet with an attached microphone and holding a recording. Von Däniken could have ended his book right there: there was simply no explanation other than that the drawing was an ancient astronaut. If it was truly ancient, it was absolute proof to any reasonable person.
Von Däniken gives it barely a paragraph, and expresses disappointment that related documents are not in the Palace Museum of Taipeh when he visits China. This absolute proof of his theories, which deserved a book in itself, is given no more space than snakes with triangular heads and vague shrouds that could be representations of “a space traveler’s mask”.
The drawing was even alien-looking… most likely because I was unfamiliar with Russian art styles. The ancient drawing turns out to be a 1967 painting in Sputnik magazine. I didn’t know that at the time, however. What I knew was that Erich von Däniken did not believe his own theories. If he did, he would have tracked down that rock painting and either made it the central piece of his book or discounted it as fake.
That’s what these elephant paintings remind me of. If they are what they are presented as, they are absolute proof of animals with an intelligence equal to humans and yet they’re used as tourist attractions.
- Trevor Fry’s Natchez Trace photo—Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
This comes from Trevor Fry.
My son, Adam, is doing research with the hopes of installing a historical marker regarding the Nightriders and the old wagon road they haunted, the El Camino Real/Harrisonburg Road.
Last summer we traveled with Dr. Frank Mobley from the ferry crossing at Little River all the way to the ferry crossing at Red River, and soaked up all of the Nightrider sights we could along the way. Last week we took a photo of the old wagon road after a snow fall which really shows the contours of the sunken trace.
Part of the above is from his email, and part from his comment in the original Nightriders book review.
I think a historical marker along the trace is a great idea.
- Bob Filner’s party—Monday, January 27th, 2014
I’m tacking this onto the end of California 2013 because I don’t feel like making a California 2014. We’re out of here—for the most part already gone. (I’ll have more to write about that later.) Also, this is a footnote to the 2013 Filner scandal.
We had a visit from the David Alvarez campaign yesterday. Alvarez is the Democrat’s successor for Bob Filner in our special election for mayor. And when I say “we” had a visit, they really just wanted to talk to my girlfriend. She’s registered to receive Democrat ballots here, so they’re assuming she’s a guaranteed voter. The purpose of the visit was to make sure she votes in the February 11 special election.
“We’re not Californians any more. We’ve moved to Texas and won’t even be in California on February 11.”
“Can’t you mail it in?”
Stay classy, San Diego Democratic Party.
In fact, she wouldn’t likely even be a guaranteed Democrat vote—during the last mayoral election she was very supportive of DeMaio. And during the Filner scandal she was very angry at how the Democrats covered for him before the scandal broke and while it was breaking. “Why do they think I’d vote for them after what they did the last time?”
- Front Row at the White House—Saturday, January 18th, 2014
Helen Thomas worked at United Press International for most of this book, contrary to Walter Cronkite’s early advice in A Reporter’s Life that UPI expected its reporters to move on once they became successful.
She left her job with UPI on May 17 2000 when it was purchased by News World Communications, then also the owner of the Washington Times. That was about a year after finishing this book. She then denounced the last fifty years of her life, presumably including this book, as having been self-censored. In 2002, she said in a speech at MIT, that “I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’”
Hate was her final undoing. Her solution to war in the Middle East was the destruction of Israel and sending Israelis back to whence they came—Poland and Germany were her examples.
The only clue to that worldview in evidence here, in her self-censored 1999, is her inability to draw conclusions from multiple events in sequence. What really stands out to me in this autobiography is that she doesn’t seem to make any big connections; things happen because they are events worth reporting on, not because actions lead to consequences, nor because principle leads to action.
After reading Front Row At The White House, I can believe that she really didn’t make any connection between the concentration camps in Poland and the Jewish exodus to Israel. To her, they could have been simply isolated events. This was how she was able to maintain her leftist worldview over decades covering the White House—by never connecting events, such as LBJ’s Great Society, with results—the vast expansion in poverty among blacks in inner cities.
- That’s what Christmas is all about—Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
Merry Christmas from Mimsy, and thanks to Charles Schulz for knowing the answer when asked “why?”
“If we don’t, who will?”