Dec 30, 2016

Murray Rothbard on applying the methodology of the physical sciences to economics

Scientism is the profoundly unscientific attempt to transfer uncritically the methodology of the physical sciences to the study of human action. Both fields of inquiry must, it is true, be studied by the use of reason—the mind’s identification of reality. But then it becomes crucially important, in reason, not to neglect the critical attribute of human action: that, alone in nature, human beings possess a rational consciousness. Stones, molecules, planets cannot choose their courses; their behavior is strictly and mechanically determined for them. Only human beings possess free will and consciousness: for they are conscious, and they can, and indeed must, choose their course of action. To ignore this primordial fact about the nature of man—to ignore his volition, his free will—is to misconstrue the facts of reality and therefore to be profoundly and radically unscientific.

~ Murray Rothbard, "What is the Proper Way to Study Man?," Mises.org, December 28, 2016

[Originally appeared as a chapter in Scientism and Values, Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, eds. (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand, 1960).]

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Dec 29, 2016

Camille Paglia: historically, transgender movements occur as "civilization is starting to unravel"

The more I explored it I realized that, historically, the movement towards androgyny occurs in late phases of culture.  As a civilization is starting to unravel...  The people who live in such periods, whether it's the Hellenistic era, whether it's the Roman empire, it's the Mauve Decade of Oscar Wilde in the 1890s, whether it's Weimar Germany.  People who live in such times feel that they're very sophisticated, they're very cosmopolitan.  Homosexuality, heterosexuality, so what, anything goes and so on.  But from the perspective of historical distance you can see that it's a culture that no longer believes in itself.  And then what you invariably get are people who are convinced of the power of heroic masculinity on the edges, whether they the Vandals and the Huns, or whether they're the barbarians of ISIS.  You see them starting to mass on the outsides of the culture, and that's what we have right now.

~ Camille Paglia, video: "Lesson From History: Transgender Mania is Sign of Cultural Collapse" (4:16 mark), December 29, 2016

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Scott Peck anticipates the victimology movement

When character-disordered individuals blame someone else - a spouse, a child, a friend, a parent, an employer - or something else - bad influences, the schools, the government, racism, sexism, society, the "system" - for their problems, these problems persist.  Nothing has been accomplished.  By casting away their responsibility they may feel comfortable with themselves, but they have ceased to solve the problems of living, have ceased to grow spiritually, and have become dead weight for society.  They have cast their pain on society.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled (1978), p. 39



Dec 28, 2016

Bono has a change of heart on the cure for poverty

Aid is just a stop-gap.  Commerce (and) entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid...  In dealing with poverty here and around the world, welfare and foreign aid are a Band-Aid.  Free enterprise is a cure...  Entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.

~ Bono, speech at Georgetown University, 2013

Dec 22, 2016

Kellyanne Conway on Trump's advantage in the 2016 presidential election

Americans love to say they think outside the box.  Trump lives outside the box.  Hillary is the box.

~ Kellyanne Conway, as quoted in "The Year of the Reticent Voter" by Peggy Noonan, September 24, 2016, WSJ

Dec 21, 2016

John Milton on how freedom and virtue are linked

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.

~ John Milton, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649)

Dec 18, 2016

Stephen Drexler: "the idea that we're in a bubble is crazy"

Everyone is so negative, which is highly positive for share prices.  Bull markets don't end like this.  The idea that we're in a bubble is crazy.  This could turn out to be the longest-running bull market in U.S. history.  [Before it ends], you'll see the average investor embracing the market.

~ Stephen Drexler, senior portfolio manager, Wells Fargo Advisors in Colorado Springs, "Taunting the Bull," Barron's, October 17, 2016

Lloyd Blankfein on how regulation creates a barrier to entry

There are some parts of our business where it's very hard for outside entrants to come in, disrupt our business, simply because we're so regulated.  In some cases, the burdensome regulation acts as a bit of a moat around our business.

~ Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, 2015 podcast

Time on Trump draining the swamp

Far from draining the swamp, [Trump] fed plums to some of its biggest gators.

~ Nancy Gibbs, "The Choice" (2016 Person of the Year), Time, December 19, 2016

Dec 11, 2016

Yogi Bhajan on cruelty

If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.

~ Yogi Bhajan

Dec 10, 2016

H.L. Mencken on public education

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.  That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else...Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible.

~ H.L. Mencken

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Donald Trump flipflops on stock market bubble

We’re in a big, fat, ugly bubble.

~ Donald Trump, first presidential debate, September 26, 2016


I hope I’m judged from the time of the election as opposed to from January 20 because the stock market has had a tremendous bounce.

~ Donald Trump, Time “Person of the Year” interview, December 9, 2016

Ludwig von Mises on central planning vs. individual planning

The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute preeminence of his own plan.

~ Ludwig von Mises, Planned Chaos, 1947

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Dec 9, 2016

Jeff Berwick on the value of a college eduction

Universities for the most part today, are places where those who have been taught not to think for themselves go for four more years of training.

~ Jeff Berwick, editor, The Dollar Vigilante, July 18, 2016

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Dec 3, 2016

Robert Higgs on the 2016 election

In effect, the election was above all a referendum on political correctness. People who had tired of being called every sort of insulting name—racist, sexist, ignorant, backward, religious, in short everything that the Clinton crowd fancied it was not—rose on their hind legs and began to buck vigorously. One suspects that Trump himself must have been surprised by the magnitude and enthusiasm of the following he attracted. After all, he is not a sociologist, a political scientist, or even an experienced politician. However one might label him, though, he had stumbled onto a cultural time-bomb waiting for a detonator. Thus, he was not so much the man of the hour as he was the right tool for the task a great many people yearned to see carried out.

~ Robert Higgs, "Ideology, Identity Politics, and Politico-Cultural Conflict," The Beacon, November 30, 2016

Nov 28, 2016

Chubb and Moe on democracy and public schools

Democracy is essentially coercive.  The winners get to use public authority to impose their policies on the losers.

~ John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, Politics, Markets & America's Schools (1990), p. 183

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Nov 25, 2016

Doug Casey makes the case for anarchy

There are very few things a government should do. That’s because the essence of government is force. And, in a civilized society, force should be kept to a minimum. So the only legitimate function of government is to protect you from force. Which implies an army to protect you from violence from outside of its borders, police to protect you inside of its borders, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without violence.

But those three functions are actually far too important to be left to the state or the kind of people that inevitably go to work for it. So the only three things that it can legitimately do are the very three things that are too important to trust it with. It’s almost a contradiction of terms. In point of fact, there’s nothing the State does that shouldn’t be left to entrepreneurs and a voluntary market.

~ Doug Casey, "Doug Casey on Globalism and the Worldwide Populist Revolt," LewRockwell.com, November 25, 2016

Nov 22, 2016

Ludwig von Mises on nationalism and socialism, two sides of the same divisiveness coin

Nationalist ideology divides society vertically; the socialist ideology divides society horizontally.

~ Ludwig von Mises

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Murray Rothbard on liberty, power and civilization

My own basic perspective on the history of man...is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power... I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.

~ Murray Rothbard

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1954-1968


Chinatown's Noah Cross on aging

'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

~ Noah Cross, Chinatown (1974)

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Nov 20, 2016

New York Times publisher tells Henry Hazlitt that it can no longer fight Bretton Woods

Now Henry, when 43 governments sign an agreement, I don't see how the [New York] Times can any longer combat this.

~ Arthur Sulzberger, New York Times publisher, mid-1960s?

Henry Hazlitt on the fight for liberty (70th birthday)

None of us are yet on the torture rack; we are not yet in jail...; what we mainly risk is merely our popularity, the danger that we will be called nasty names.

We have a duty to speak even more clearly and courageously, to work hard, and to keep fighting this battle while the strength is still in us... Even those of us who have reached and passed our 70th birthdays cannot afford to rest on our oars and spend the rest of our lives dozing in the Florida sun.  The times call for courage.  The times call for hard work.  But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher.  They are nothing less than the future of liberty, which means the future of civilization.

~ Henry Hazlitt, at his 70th birthday celebration, around November 28, 1964

Ludwig von Mises pays tribute to Henry Hazlitt on his 70th birthday

In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader.  You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries...  You are the economic conscience of our country and of our nation... Every friend of freedom may today, in this post-election month, be rather pessimistic about the future [LBJ had been just elected POTUS]...  [If we succeed] this will be to a great extent your merit, the fruit of the work that you have done in the first 70 years of your life.

~ Ludwig von Mises, paying tribute to his good friend Henry Hazlitt at a gathering of friends in celebration of his 70th birthday, around November 28, 1964

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Aldous Huxley on totalitarianism and propaganda

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.  To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.

~ Aldous Huxley, forward from 1946 edition of Brave New World

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George Carlin on political correctness

Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance.

~ George Carlin

Nov 19, 2016

Kevin Duffy on early comparisons of Trump to Reagan

There are huge differences.  Reagan inherited a 14 year bear market in stocks and 34 year bear market in bonds. Government debt/GDP had continually fallen since WWII. The baby boomers were moving into their productive years. The IBM PC was just launched. The Soviet empire was on the verge of collapsing. Trump is inheriting asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and commercial real estate. Total debt/GDP is at record highs, rates at all-time lows (with much of the world’s sovereign debt actually dipping into negative yields not long ago). Boomers are just moving into retirement which will swamp an entitlement system that was never reined in. Bonds are probably on the verge of a multi-decade bear market. The government’s interest costs will explode as the political class structured its debt on the short end of the curve, assuming rates would stay low forever.

Why anyone in his right mind would want to put his name on this Hindenburg is beyond me. But, heck, the Trump brand has been immune to economic forces in the past, so why not?

~ Kevin Duffy

Nov 17, 2016

Tim Price: At least Trump is not a socialist

For believers in free markets, small government and the primacy of the entrepreneur over the State, there may yet be much to celebrate about President Trump. But not for millennials, obviously. Their perpetual tin ear turned to reality and what can only be described as hysterical grief, in every sense of the word, is reason enough for the rest of us to be quietly encouraged about the future. Educators – in economics and history in particular – have a lot to answer for, having perverted the mindset of a generation. As the US economist Thomas Sowell once said,

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

Say what you like about Donald Trump, but he isn’t a socialist.

~ Tim Price, "Generation snowflake, clobbered again," LinkedIn, November 11, 2016

Nov 16, 2016

Clifford Thies on the 19th century private welfare system vs. the 20th century welfare state

The 19th century welfare system was privately supplied, much more efficient, and more compassionate, for society as well as the poor. Instead of giving away cash and other benefits, it mandated work and responsibility. In the 19th century, the poor were divided into three groups: 1) those who worked and were given supplemental assistance through private charity; 2) those who were manifestly incapable of working and who were sent into poorhouses; and 3) those who were capable of working but refused to do so. The latter were called “paupers,” people who lived from hand-to-mouth, and were drifters, alcoholics, beggars, and thieves. The social welfare system effectively (although not of course perfectly) identified them as the undeserving poor and denied them help. Through poorhouses, and other extremely limited programs, charity provided only for those manifestly unable to work. Poorhouses were usually private institutions, sometimes no more than a family with a large house, which, for a fee, took care of the mentally and physically ill, the enfeebled aged, and orphans who could not be placed for adoption. Conditions in those poorhouses were minimal (although better than depicted by the left-wing Charles Dickens). Accordingly, the able-bodied poor tried to stay out of the poorhouse.

 […]

Going to the poorhouse meant trading liberty for subsistence… The stark terms of the deal offered by the poorhouse was no bargain, as was intended… Private charities demanded that those would could work, do so. Their programs were not “anti-poverty” but “anti-pauper.”

[…]

Very few single women were able to raise their children without continuing help, and most eventually married. At the same time, however, the case of unwed motherhood led to a decoupling of welfare and work. In 1911 Illinois adopted the first “mothers’ aid” program and by 1928, 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska and Hawaii had followed this lead. Modest at first, they made a step towards replacing the 19th century, work-based philosophy with a new “scientific,” income-based one. Today, income is no longer dependent on work, nor is assistance based on charity. There is no distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. There is no effort to provide the proper incentives. But this should be no surprise. By its nature, government is unable to do much more than dish out money to people who meet the standards set by the application process, regardless of their intent or prospects. Press group politics, moreover, has turned a permanent income combined with perpetual laziness into a civil right.

[…]

Government welfare has encouraged the worst vices of the poor, turning even able-bodied people into drifters, alcoholics, drug addicts, beggars, and thieves. In short, the poor have become paupers, the group the 19th century charity theorists identified as not deserving of support… In fact, the situation is much worse than the 19th century charity theorists predicted. The primary victims, ironically, have been unmarried mothers and their children, the supposed beneficiaries of the early 20th century reform movement.

~ Clifford F. Thies, "Bring Back the Poorhouse and the Workhouse," The Free Market, October 1992

Nov 13, 2016

Chris Evert on focus

Ninety percent of my game is mental.  It's my concentration that has gotten me this far.

~ Chris Evert, tennis champion

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