We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, December 16. 2008
Capitalism undoubtedly has certain boils and blotches upon it, but has it as many as government? Has it as many as marriage? Has it as many as religion? I doubt it. It is the only basic institution of modern man that shows any genuine health and vigor.
H.L.Mencken (h/t, Vanderleun)
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Read an essay recently that argues capitalism is the wrong word for a system of free enterprise because everyone, even the commies, must use capital. Free enterprise does sound better.
We are all hurting just now but I look back at my life and even further at my parents and I know just what capitalism has done for us......we are better off than ever and I see no reason why things should not after a readjustment continue in the same manner.
Capitalism is good in the same sense that American politicians are good: consider the alternatives. Better a clown for a President than Stalin. Better pirates steering the economy than commissars.
But his low blows at religion and marriage make me growl.
Mencken is hilarious and a genius but also a total *#+hole. He despised women, and I am not sure his stance towards heterosexual love exactly qualifies him to opine about marriage.
He reminds me of gay buddies of mine at my trendy Anglican church a quarter century ago who described straight women as breeders and bleeders, tho they would have the grace to go "ooops!" When they realized that I might just possibly be offended by such a categorization. He is someone to divert oneself chuckling over, especially during one's rebellious toddlerhood at university. But not a serious guide. Someone to drink with but not to consult with on anything of true value.
Disgusting to place capitalism, however good an economic system, on a par with religion. The Church may be imperfect because of our failings, but it is Christ's bride, God's gift to us. To be cherished, flaws and all. Not derided.
Without the folksy downhome schtick that Will Rogers urped up H.L. Menchen was a serious observer of civilization and mankind. His book on The American Language is still a must have book for any serious scholar. His contributions literature and writing are monumental.
Dispising women isn't a disqualifier for greatness, as pointed out by the following list of men who never married but utilized women for their tradition roles as chattel and amusement.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Vincent van Gogh
Sir Isaac Newton
Jean Paul Sartre
Benedict de Spinoza
Leonardo da Vinci
Cherchez la femme
reat list, pt! Thanks.
When husband's great great uncle died at 104 his words to the local paper on how he had reached such an advanced age included daily exercise, lots of veggies, and especially that he had never married. Xantippes like me are hard on some men.
Of course numerous geniuses (genii?) hated or were clueless around women. One has more time and energy for reflection and work whatever gender one is, without the distractions and demands of a mate and puppies. But a misanthrope commenting on marriage reminds me of that famous story of the Irish rc priest waxing poetical about the joys of the wee ones and the sanctity of mothers and the joys of raising children on Mother's Day. One old Irishwoman nudged another "Sure, an what would he be knowing about it!"
But Mencken on language is superb. Had actually jiust given it a month ago to one of the puppies who aspires to Write. Must go dust it off and retrieve it for a read.
-Two by GK Chesterton, who was happily married and devoted to his wife Francis:
"I have little doubt that when St. George had killed the dragon he was heartily afraid of the princess."
"Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline."
I like that quote "Marriage is a duel to the death" Coincides with my not so deep Dago intellect. Murder, yes! divorce never. Plus lots of duct tape to divide the house in half.
Mencken is off on this. Capitalism is a system. Marriage, religion, and government are institutions.
Good observation Meta.
One observation I reserve is that the capitalist system as defined by Adam Smith, it's fons et origo, was predicated on his earlier work The Theory of Moral Sentiments in which he outlined the type of social structure and men required to make his later work, An Inquiry into the Cause and Effect of the Wealth of Nations , and thus capitalism work.
We are very far from the quality of men needed for the system to work properly because the institutions it is based on have become rancid and corrupt. The system is not the problem, it's mankind's vanity.
Regarding economics, government in one sense is the largest blotch on capitalism. Government interference in markets is one of the major contributing factors to the current economic storm and the current government intervention will not be exempt from the law of unintended consequences.
I had a discussion today with the CFO of a consumer products company where we discussed the role of government regulation. We agreed that regulation creating disclosure and market mechanisms (e.g. exchanges or clearinghouses) were of great importance because those regulations foster the dissemination of information people can use to make decisions. We also discussed how government can harm markets by using regulation and law to achieve economic outcomes that otherwise would not be supported by markets. Examples include affordable housing (i.e. CRA, GSEs), energy and health care.
Politicians, corrupted by greed, have manipulated the system to achieve political purpose not enhance economic outcome where the most good can come to the most people. The only way to fix this is to do the things that take money out of the politicians hands as best as possible. Term limits and a flat tax would be the places to start.
Barrett, sounds like you had a good conversation with the CFO. I think your points have been validated over time since FDR introduced socialism en mass.
I diverge only at the end regarding term limits. We get the chance to vote every two years. I believe the citizenry has repudiated their responsibility to stay informed and VOTE. In this past election we still did not have over half of the eligible voters doing so. We must create a atmosphere whereby moral suasion is focused on those citizens that do not participate in the process. It should become a world where friendships are dissolved if that person cops out.
Too many have dies to provide our republic with the right of our citizens to vote. It needs to become in vogue and a pox on those who cut and run.
We should also take a hard look at our funding of elections. But that's a conversation for another day.
Great job though sir in stepping up and talking about the criticality of our responsibilities. Bravo.
We used to automatically put "laissez faire" in front of our system of free trade. When was the last time we heard that?
I was on another blog that was discussing the Blagojevich scandal - the 'fight' was about Jonah Goldberg's fatuous reaction to the impact this scandal had on anyone claiming there were not victims and no tragedy. I claimed it was a tragedy because it was another hit to our vigilance, (what's left of it) to find a good leader and that hit was towards indifference. That's why people don't vote. It's not that half our population is complacent: it's that they are becoming indifferent - the profound and endless result of scandalous behavior from our politicians. Goldberg was trying to be funny, but he missed the mark: This entire nation is the victim of the faithlessness of our politicians.
In principle, I agree with you about term limits. I have opposed the concept for a long time. While you and I, Meta and many others may perform our due diligence on the candidates, many people abdicate that responsibility.
I am convinced, albeit without philosophical conviction, that term limits are a practical measure that can help protect us both from the corrosive tendencies of incumbency but also from the segment of voters who apparently suffer from ADD. It is by no means perfect.
I do not know how moral suasion can be effective when from my perspective moral awareness seems almost non-existent.
I have been called an extremist for my libertarian values which I believe are highly consistent with the values of our Constitutional framers - who would be called radical today. If it wasn't so sad, the ignorance of some would be amusing.
Virtually everyday, I engage the people around me to think about what is being done and why and how conservative principles could bring about the most favorable resolution to the mess we are in.
I never cared for the term limits concept myself. It's like saying "Stop me before I vote again". I don't see the money as an issue either. Outside of the obscure school board or county commission jobs, marketing only trumps message because of the ignorance of the voters. While I agree with the principle that too many have died to guarantee us the right to vote, I don't see where encouraging to vote those who choose to remain ignorant improves the situation. To me the major problem with the current state of our democracy is the gerrymandering that has eliminated any real competition for congress (and state house) seats except in the too few competitive districts that are realigned every 10 years or so. That and the motor-voter passive voting approach.
Problem is you've got to go through those same corrupted politicians to get those changes made.
That is why voters either have to wake up and throw the bums out or establish term limits.
Well, I must admit I was for term limits before I was against them.
There are so many factors in the election /free Republic calculus that I believe we as a country have abandoned for many diverse reasons. As a racist I see that far from being a melting pot we've simply become a destination for humanity that has no desire to integrate itself into the American historical experience. We've lost the binding of a homogeneous culture and replaced it with what James Madison identified (Federalist #10) as mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished....that of factions
I have always claimed that no cogent thought can be developed about this country’s compositions unless the author has a full grasp of this seminal document. I heartily recommend reading it and studying the various guides that aid in its understanding and application.
Everyone should read The Federalist Papers.
In fact, it should be required reading in history classes at every high school in America.
You are very right to say that America is more than a place for economic pursuit.
What is means to be an American is not taught in schools anymore. This is another casualty of the multi-culti world that proclaims all cultures, religions and moral codes are equivalent. Now you are criticized for calling such an idea hogwash.
We could start by making English the language of America.
Good luck on making Federalist Papers required reading in HS. It was required for me way back when and I only read the ones put in front of me to pass the test (liked history, didn't care for constitutional law...at the time). Too deep for the average teenager. I perused a couple of them in greater detail in college, mostly one (two? more?) concerning the Bill of Rights inclusion/exclusion issue. There's an argument that will give you headaches. The other issues were intriguing, but not so much for a software guy at the time.
What would be better would be to make them required reading for anyone who wants to vote. But then I see that's more to your #11.1 post...
we've simply become a destination for humanity that has no desire to integrate itself into the American historical experience
Previous waves of immigrants came to America to be changed by a country, not to change it. Just as those seeking office should be expected to serve the country, not be served by it, or to devise ways that the country can serve their constituents.
Elections and lengths of terms are term limits. The job needs to be more indentured servitude and less monetary grabitude. One should nearly go broke serving his or her country.
The clash between capitalism and government is growing as those in the business of business measure their success by revenues generated and profit margins achieved; while those in government measure their success by the profits they are able to squeeze and the votes they buy with that stolen money.
"It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." -GKC, 1921
I agree in principle. However, campaigns have become nothing more than promises that are often undeliverable to the uninformed voter.
I am struggling with the practical application of "elections and lengths of terms are term limits." We have an entrenched political class. This was never intended and the consequences are not good. Term limits are a way to deal with the unfortunate reality of uninformed voters who do vote.
I see no need for last minute registration for voting. Everyone knows when there will be elections. Registering should be difficult. I would like to see real qualifications for voting. You have to take a test to become a citizen why not to vote? (And yes, I can see the problems.)
By the way, I never encourage someone who does not want to vote to do so. It is usually a dilutive decision.
Registering should be difficult. I would like to see real qualifications for voting. You have to take a test to become a citizen why not to vote? (And yes, I can see the problems.)
...I never encourage someone who does not want to vote to do so. It is usually a dilutive decision.
In these we are in total agreement. Too many people voting without any understanding of the economy, the Constitution and/or American/World history or current events is what has given us the likes of The Orifice of The President-Elect.
Our experience in Maine re: term limits has been an abysmal failure. Originally intended to extricate the likes of entrenched and corrupt Speaker of the House John Martin, the law was enacted some twenty or more years ago. Guess who moved over to serve in the State Senate with his grasp still firmly on committees, not to mention his little fiefdom in the Eagle Lake area in Aroostook County?
Conversely, I have seen good, honest politicians (yes, there is at least one that I know of) forced out of leadership roles in Maine by term limit laws.
It may just be time to dismantle the Bastille and recognize no form of government beyond the County Seat.
Much radical change considered here, but I don't see where any of it can't and wont be worked around just as in Maine's experiment with term limits. I have yet to see (maybe it's my myopic perspective) any serious attempts by citizens to reform redistricting. Can we not limit districts to being somewhat in proportion in their dimensions? I'd like to go into a voting booth and see a pair (or maybe more) of serious candidates up for a congressional seat at least once before I die.
It would be very interesting to see a real study on redistricting. I know it has been manipulated to the fullest extent possible.
The question is how do you establish non-partisan districts. I don't know enough about the details. Do you suggest following zip codes?
Ashamed to say, but I have no original ideas here myself, as I know very little about what has been considered and discarded, but from my ignorant perspective it seems that whatever the existing rules are, they could be limited/enhanced/whatever by imposing some sort of rule that no district could be, say twice as long as it is wide (n/s vs. e/w or something like that) or only have a limited number of concave/convex areas. I think if you try to piggyback zip codes or something like that in, you'll only screw up the zip code system. Best to keep the 5hi7 in the barn if possible.
I'd just like to see more discussion on redistricting because that is what I think would best address the root of the problem.
Here in Maine the majority party drives the redistricting process, which has been like having the fox in charge of changing the lock on the hen house door.
Redistricting will always belong in some politicians' hands but that doesn't mean we have to just throw up our hands and let it happen however they choose. Placing some sort of limitation on what the districts look like would at least put the lock a little higher where the lesser of the foxes can't reach. Maybe some other states have tried this? Anyone know?