Remembering the Forgotten

Each day we are safe because soldiers, sailors, airman, corpsmen, and policemen place themselves between us and evil.

When these men have fallen or when their young bodies have been maimed forever in defense of our safety, the poignant moment of thanks we give inevitably dissolves over the years into an empty, formalistic expression of gratitude. We fool ourselves into believing that the trivial problems of our comfortable lives have somehow matched the bravery, the pain, and the nightmares that haunt these heroes for the rest of their lives.

via American Thinker: Remembering the Forgotten.

Communists Are Worse Than Nazis, But Nobody Cares

In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

A Hidden History of Evil by Claire Berlinski, City Journal Spring 2010.

Systems and Stories

Curiously the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ is used to talk about systems and stories, but the ‘reasons’ are in opposite temporal directions. In system thought it means everything is necessitated somehow by the previous state of the system, in story thought it means every occurrence will have future social significance if it does not already.

via Systems and stories « Meteuphoric.

The Limitations and Misuse of Logic

Logical conclusions must be predicated on true premises. If the premises are unexamined, inaccurate, or false, then the logic is empty. This is one reason why using “logic” to argue for or against matters of politics and policy is frequently misguided; the person invoking “logic” is all too often using faulty premises.

Misuse of logic is rampant in all fields, even academic ones. It is often used as a crutch to justify prejudices and as a club to smite those who hold opposing views. There are people who are thoroughly Aristotelian in their thinking, and do, indeed, believe in the profundity of empty logical arguments. Others, such as politicians and evangelists use logic cynically as an instrument for persuasion of those who don’t realize that “There’s a mighty big difference between good, sound reasons, and reasons that sound good.” (Burton Hillis).

Just what is an ‘empty’ argument about the ‘real world’ of our experience?

  • One kind is the argument that may have faultless logic but is based on premises that have not, or cannot, be experimentally verified. Another kind is based on premises that are not part of any well-established and accepted scientific theory.
  • Some arguments are empty of content because they use words with no clear and unambiguous meaning, or words that cannot be related to anything real (experimentally unverifiable).
  • The most seductive empty arguments build upon premises that are so emotionally appealing that we don’t ask for verification, or which have appealing conclusions that blind us to the emptiness of the premises.

Via Uses and Misuses of Logic..

The Privileged Call For “Limited” Dictatorship

Every murderous totalitarian government of the 20th century began with some insulated group of faux-intellectuals congratulating each other on how smart they are, and fantasizing about how, if they could just install a dictatorship-for-a-day, they could right all the wrongs in the world.

It is the ultimate fantasy of the narcissist. And we’ve got whole generations of them, in control of our media and our government, all intent on “remaking America.”

via The Anchoress | A First Things Blog.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Injustice of Female Genital Mutilation

Horrifying that this would happen in America:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently put forward a proposal on female genital mutilation. They would like that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls born into communities that practice female genital mutilation.

Female circumcision is a custom in many African and Asian countries whereby the genitals of a girl child are cut. …

There is a more sinister meaning to the word “nick” if you consider the fact that in some cases it means to cut off the peak of the clitoris. Proponents compare “nicking” to the ritual of boy circumcision. But in the case of the boys, it is the foreskin that is all or partly removed and not a part of the penis head. In the case of the girls, the clitoris is actually mutilated.

Via Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Injustice of Female Genital Mutilation – The Daily Beast.

American Debt And Upcoming Austerity

Following decades of welfare-state comfort and years of Keynesian stimulus spending, a panicky Europe is seeing the arrival of austerity politics. Resentful debtors such as Greece, Spain and Portugal are being forced into tax increases and spending cuts that are painful, unpopular — and just beginning. Their resentful citizens throw tantrums and sometimes rocks at police. Resentful creditors such as Germany provide bailouts while wondering why they ever shackled themselves (and the value of their currency) to such irresponsible governments.

Those not resentful are scared.

And America is not exempt.

In 2009, the federal government spent $1.67 for every $1 it collected in taxes. The Obama administration’s budget proposals would dramatically increase publicly held debt as a percentage of the economy over the next decade, eventually slowing economic growth, fueling inflation and making America more dependent on the kindness of creditors.

This can go on for only so long before a challenge more similar to Britain’s becomes a fate more similar to Greece’s. America is about to enter its own period of austerity, which is likely to be the dominant political reality for the next decade. The new game will have few winners and many losers.

I have only recently realized how horrifyingly bad the US debt situation is. I knew it was bad but I had no appreciation of just *how* bad. It overshadows every other political and social issue. Not only is the Federal government way in the hole, many of the States are as well.

via Michael Gerson – European and American debt crises signal an era of austerity.

Illegal Immigration + Gun-Friendly Laws = Very Low Crime

Given that it’s nearly impossible for low-skilled immigrants to work in the United States legitimately, it’s safe to say that a significant percentage of El Paso’s foreign-born population is living here illegally.

El Paso also has some of the laxer gun control policies of any non-Texan big city in the country, mostly due to gun-friendly state law. And famously, El Paso sits just over the Rio Grande from one of the most violent cities in the western hemisphere, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, home to a staggering 2,500 homicides in the last 18 months alone. A city of illegal immigrants with easy access to guns, just across the river from a metropolis ripped apart by brutal drug war violence. Should be a bloodbath, right?

Here’s the surprise: There were just 18 murders in El Paso last year, in a city of 736,000 people. To compare, Baltimore, with 637,000 residents, had 234 killings. In fact, since the beginning of 2008, there were nearly as many El Pasoans murdered while visiting Juarez (20) than there were murdered in their home town (23).

El Paso is among the safest big cities in America.

Via The El Paso Miracle – Reason Magazine.

Impressions of Tea Partiers

My guess is that the people in my audience had less formal education than my non-economist liberal friends, but they were more diverse and independent in their thinking. For these people, unlike my liberal friends, it is obvious why a “right to health care” is a misguided notion.

The political class does not want to take the Tea Party movement at its word. Instead, it wants to dismiss them as angry, bigoted, and ignorant. That is an obviously self-serving approach for the political class, and I think it is unfair.

When I discussed the knowledge-power discrepancy, which is the theme of Unchecked and Unbalanced, the audience understood. The political class does not. In that sense, in the conflict between the Tea Party movement and the political class, it is the political class that is in the wrong.

Impressions of Tea Partiers, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.