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?,", 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