JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-we-got-here-is-failure-to.html (94 comments)

jsid-1264928545-413  RC at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 09:02:25 +0000

Damnit.  Teach me to not read to the end....I had read about 4/5 of your post before skipping to the comments because one of the comments you make about 1/5 of the way in - about making people perfect - reminded me of the Serenity quote you used at the very end.  I was going to use it as a basis for my post in response to yours, and I had already typed several paragraphs on it before I noticed you already used it.  

Anyway, here's another one:

People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome.

-River Tam, on why the outer planets hadn't accepted Alliance rule.

(I knew there was a reason I liked that movie...)

Again, this goes back to the unconstrianed view of people needing someone smarter than them, better than them, to decide how their lives are to be run, because they are incapable of doing it themselves.  The philosopher kings, the intelligencia, will meddle in your life to make you a better person, for your own damn good. 

Kind of reminds me of that quote, that I can't seem to remember now, about how the tyrant who believes he is doing it for the good of society is the worst kind, because he will be tireless in his quest to force society into the utopia he envisions.

jsid-1264943422-848  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 13:10:22 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264928545-413

That would be this one:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. - C.S. Lewis

jsid-1264944329-364  HappyAcres at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 13:25:35 +0000

Thanks for the essay.  I'm circulating it to many friends.

jsid-1264944755-453  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 13:32:35 +0000

Thank YOU! :)

jsid-1264947492-775  Dave Sherman at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 14:18:12 +0000

Long-time reader, never commented before. But this post is outstanding, and I will be linking it from my Facebook page.

jsid-1264948175-660  GrumpyOldFart at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 14:29:35 +0000

I too had a couple of quotes come to mind as I read this. The first was a result of reading the comments regarding "economic man" near the beginning:

"The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human—"market value" is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible." Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

The other was prompted by the two different views of 'the common man':

"Sin, young man, is when you treat people as things." Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

The other thing this post made me think of was a point I attempted (I assume unsuccessfully) to make to Markadelphia regarding greed, equality and duty to others. I'm not sure it's as accurate to say I believe in the constrained vision as to say it's something I hope and pray for, and work toward every day. I don't wish to live in a society where some total stranger half a world away is as important to me personally as my own mother, wife or child, and I doubt anyone who has actually thought that idea through does. Once you accept Godwin's premise that "everyone has a debt to everyone else", it ultimately leads you to the conclusion that your "right" to live in peace is no more important in the big scheme of things than Slobodan Milosevic's "right" to rape and murder Muslims en masse, or Kim Jog Il's "right" to nuke Japan. The only thing that gives any goal more or less weight than another is whether or not it agrees with the prejudices of those currently in power. The unconstrained vision considers this a good thing, as it all hinges on "the right people" being in power and therefore the "right" prejudices being the ones that are pandered to and given the force of law.

I, one of the tens of thousands who proudly volunteered for military service and thoroughly reject the idea of reinstituting the draft, have no patience nor sympathy with "duty to humanity", nor really to anyone else for that matter. As far as I'm concerned, "duty" is a child's name for "shit", and nothing more. If I can't have your willingness, perhaps even your enthusiasm, &^$%% your *&^#@#% duty! My "duty" to my wife and children isn't owed, it's proudly and joyfully chosen, every moment of every day. And I will unhesitatingly choose to die in a firefight with "the authorities" before I allow anyone to take that choice away from me and turn it into something mandatory.

jsid-1264955752-779  6Kings at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 16:35:52 +0000

First of all, very nice post.  What was screaming out at me during unconstrained property rights section was related to Zimbabwe.  Where Constrained Vision was part of the culture, it was the breadbasket of Africa.  Unfortunately, a large group of Unconstrained visionaries swept in by violence and 'redistributed' property because white farmers had a disproportionate ownership according to their "vision".  Now look at that disaster.

As soon as the unconstrained vision gets put into any action, things go bad. Historically shown over and over yet people never learn.

By the way, even the Bible talks about the constrained view of humanity - one example being the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-28).  So, the unconstrained vision is factually, historically, and Biblically in error.

jsid-1264956668-185  DJ at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 16:51:08 +0000

Bullseye, Kevin.

jsid-1264956880-49  Russell at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 16:54:40 +0000

Bravo, Kevin!

jsid-1264962342-480  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:25:42 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264956880-49

Bravo yourself.  You helped!

jsid-1264981710-915  Russell at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 23:48:30 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264962342-480

Thanks, but a couple of quotes do not an uberpost make  :)

jsid-1264957293-196  RobertM at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 17:01:34 +0000

Very good read.  Ironic that I just watched Serenity last night. 

jsid-1264962098-548  Ken at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 18:21:38 +0000

A society that puts equality -- in the sense of equality of outcome -- ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for great purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

As Nock argues (convincingly, in my view), society cannot do any such thing: nor, for that matter, its opposite. Only the individuals making up the society can do that, by making choices and acting. If any of you withdraw your association from a group of actors (not actors in the dramatic sense, in the "one who takes action" sense), is the association -- the society -- the same as it was? Or, if you join one, is it the same as it was before you joined?

No and no. Does it matter if it's a very large association you enter or leave? In practical terms, your entering or leaving may not make a huge difference to the aggregated actions of the association. But morally? It doesn't matter beans. The Law of Large Numbers is no law at all. If you think utilitarianism is a useful philosophy, I invite you to read Ursula LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and reconsider.

Scratch someone talking about "society's interests," or "humanity's interests," and you find someone who either claims to speak on behalf of (and, more to the point, exercise authority on "behalf" of said society/humanity), or who wishes he could, or carries water on behalf of those who do. The greatest moral evil this world offers is the one who claims the right to set aside your will to act on behalf of yourself and the others you choose to aid, harming no one, in favor of his. This formula lies at the bottom of every intentional evil I can think of offhand. This is the point that Tolkien made in The Lord of the Rings, (and why he called himself an anarchist in a 1943 letter to his son Christopher), and what (again, in my opinion) makes the Professor the foremost moral philosopher of the 20th Century (the others being C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Ayn Rand, in no particular order). The problem lies not in who wields power, but in the fact that power is there to be wielded.

Who grasps for the Ring wills evil in the end, whatever he thinks his motives were in the beginning.

jsid-1264964751-78  Adam at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:05:51 +0000

"I, one of the tens of thousands who proudly volunteered for military service and thoroughly reject the idea of reinstituting the draft, have no patience nor sympathy with "duty to humanity", nor really to anyone else for that matter. As far as I'm concerned, "duty" is a child's name for "shit", and nothing more. If I can't have your willingness, perhaps even your enthusiasm&^$%% your *&^#@#% duty! My "duty" to my wife and children isn't owed, it's proudly and joyfully chosen, every moment of every day. And I will unhesitatingly choose to die in a firefight with "the authorities" before I allow anyone to take that choice away from me and turn it into something mandatory."


jsid-1264965158-952  Stormy Dragon at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:12:38 +0000

If I can complicate your dichotmy a bit, I think what this ultimate has to do with is Kohlberg's stages of moral development.  People like H. G. Wells think that it's possible to construct a society where everyone (or nearly everyone) reaches a post-conventional state of development.  At the other extreme, people like Hobbes think that most people never make it out of a pre-conventional state.  People like Smith or Hayek fall between the two extremes.

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.  I think you can design society to encourage a certain degree of development but there's a limit somewhere beyond which further growth only occurs by the application of concerted personal effort.  I also think that limit occurs before the stage where all but exceptional people find such an effort worthwhile.

So society ends up with a bimodal distribution: one group that never made it to the tipping point and is stuck in some lower conventional or pre-conventional stage and another group that made it past the tipping point and has moved on to a post-conventional stage.

The problem is that a lot of people in the latter group assume that because they made it, necessarily everyone can.  And in trying to alter society to get more people into their group, they end up destroying the things keeping the lower group as high as it is.

This sets of a vicious cycle of the lower group sinking lower, which causes it to enlarge as it does because the lower it goes, the fewer people make it to the tipping point.

jsid-1264965980-772  Mark at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:26:21 +0000

I would argue about Roddenberry's utopia is that it is only possible because the technology exists to allow it to be that way, and that even a thoroughly constrained society would be indistinguishable from utopia with such technology. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want their very own replicator?

But this Trekkie sometimes reads into things to much, so... ;)

jsid-1264966914-930  JR at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:41:54 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264965980-772

Yeah, but even in Roddenberry's utopia there were con men like Harry Mudd. And crap-jobs like mining that no one would do if there wasn't some significant motivation (profit) to do so. Fictional utopias can work because they can ignore the real world and human nature. But his utopia isn't even consistently utopian.

jsid-1264966701-989  Ed "What the" Heckman at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 19:38:22 +0000

One of my very favorite science fiction books is The Artifact by W. Michael Gear. The artifact of the title is a superpowerful machine created by a super-advanced alien race capable of viewing and manipulating all matter in the universe; essentially a godlike level of power. By necessity this machine was given intelligence as a necessary feature in order for the machine to function. But to make sure the machine intelligence (which made Skynet look like a sane moron) could not abuse this power by itself, it was given a "Spring" which the being controlling the machine had to physically move in order for the machine's power to be used. But the artifact's insanity drove it to find ways to destroy every species that discovered it despite the "Spring". Of course, this story is about humanity's encounter with this artifact.

I couldn't help but think of this story as I was reading the überpost. In many ways, a government—any government—is similar to the artifact in that it can wield immense power affecting every individual, where even good intentions can produce catastrophic results. Those with the unconstrained view would have us remove the "Spring" limiting the power of government action so that it can produce Utopia. But the rest of us realize that it is necessary for that power to be held in check if we are to survive. In our case, the "Spring" is our Constitution—and especially the Bill of Rights—which is intended to hold the power of the government in check. But thanks to the efforts of The Unconstrained, our government is on the verge of breaking free of its "Spring".

jsid-1264968587-220  geekwitha45 at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 20:09:47 +0000

I find it *fascinating* that Time after Time casts the thoughtful, erudite inventor of useful things as the socialist proponent of the unconstrained vision, and the murderous sociopath as the proponent of the constrained vision, wholly inverting the verdict of history.

People whose societies foster ordered liberty have for the most part have solved items lower down in Maslow's heirarchy, such as food and shelter, leaving them free to attend to items higher up, building airplanes in their garages. People whose societies foster command economies for the good of the people have never solved the basic issues, and tend to spend their free time amassing misery, if not actual piles of bleached skulls in a effort to rectify that condition.


So, regarding the two vision, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
/InigoMontoya ;)

>>There can be no useful debate between two people with different first principles, except on those principles themselves.

* These axioms and their consequences are largely incompatible, and mutually exclusive.

* Consequently, there may be little point in debating the first principles themselves, other than to highlight the facts of their fundamental differences and incompatibility.

* Holders of the unconstrained vision can't seem to constrain themselves from inventing the basis for making claims on their fellow man's lives, pockets and prerogatives. This is intrinsic to their vision: the simply cannot leave others alone, nor can they succeed under their own steam, and so they keep escallating their failure to engulf everyone in their cannabalistic negative sum game.

* Consequently, the price of being left alone, that is, the cost of opting out of participation in such schemes becomes crucial to the question of liberty. So long as such schemes are genuinely voluntary, they can be deemed harmless utopian social experiments, examples of which litter American history, accruing little harm if any to the whole.

* Unfortunately, history is littered with much more than the debris of truly voluntary utopian schemes. In modern practice, the schemes are given the force of laws intentionally designed to prevent exit from the scheme, which negates any theory of harmlessness for non participants that might be put forward. This also sets up the tension between participation in the scheme, and the integrity of our life, liberty and property.

* Thus: the rubber meets the road. It is no mere conflict of visions, contained wholy on dry academic paper and in public dissertation, but it is given life and action in the real world, setting up an inevitable collision of real world forces.

* It is also a sad truth that given the facts of the unconstrained vision's longstanding influence over our institutions and laws, far too many members of our society remain wholly ignorant of any other mode of being. They serve this dark vision, never having wholly evaluated it, embracing it by default rather than by the thoughtful choice of fully informed consent. If you look around, you'll see many sad examples of such people who are eager to resolve their perplexity in the balms offered by their thought leaders. These people will spend their lives, and ultimately go to their graves in confusion and ignorance.

* As a final thought, one of these systems is primarily compatible with the founding documents and structure of our Republic, and one is entirely incompatible.  In order for the unconstrained vision to prevail, the Republic must be rendered into something that it is not, and therefore destroyed, even if no man dare label it thus.

jsid-1264969186-8  Ed "What the" Heckman at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 20:19:46 +0000

"I find it *fascinating* that Time after Time casts the thoughtful, erudite inventor of useful things as the socialist proponent of the unconstrained vision,"

I think it's entirely appropriate to portray him that was because Wells actually was a proponent of the unconstrained vision. In fact, he's the guy that coined the phrase "Liberal Fascism*" in the process of promoting the "benefits" of a kinder, gentler form of socialism.

(*used by Jonah Goldberg as the title for his book)

jsid-1264969415-160  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 20:23:57 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264969186-8

That wasn't the point, Ed.  The point was that the HERO was the advocate of the Unconstrained vision, and the VILLAIN was the advocate of the Constrained.  THAT's what was (tongue-in-cheek) "fascinating."

jsid-1264982419-788  Ed "What the" Heckman at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 00:00:19 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264969415-160

At least Wells was portrayed true to type. And labelling the most evil person they could find as a conservative is boringly common.

What I found fascinating was making Spock the spokesperson for "Damn the logic, follow your heart" in the latest Star Trek movie.

jsid-1264973517-330  perlhaqr at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 21:31:57 +0000

Dude.  You can be a longwinded sumbitch sometimes.  ;)

I'm still reading, but I got to this point and wanted to at least start my comment, to make sure I get it out in case you don't address it later in the post:

Accretions of knowledge over time mean that individual and social decisions made under conditions of lesser knowledge have consequences under conditions of greater knowledge. To those with the unconstrained vision, this means that being bound by past decisions represents a loss of benefits made possible by later knowledge. Being bound by past decisions, whether in constitutional law cases or in marriage for life, is seen as costly and irrational.

It seems insane though, that anyone would advocate not re-evaluating circumstances once "the future" has come and more knowledge has accumulated.  To do otherwise would be like stubbornly continuing to design circuit boards operating on phlogiston.  I tend to think of it as a virtue that I'm capable of learning from the past, admitting when I was wrong, and doing better in the future.


Damned stupid greedy proles! If the government didn't take Social Security (that "extra money") out of their paychecks, they'd just piss it away! It is only through the efforts of the sincere, intellectual elite that their "extra money" gets properly spread around, where "properly spread around" is defined as "evenly distributed" so things are "more fair." But my how they bristle when we call it "redistribution of wealth," and accuse us of "language manipulation" when we define something so accurately it stings.

"People are mostly too stupid to run their own affairs, which is why it's vital that they be allowed to vote on how you run yours."  ;)


I have some sympathy for those who see the current distribution of wealth as "unfair" and in need of balancing.  For so much of human hostory, it has been the case that those who had much often acquired it at the unjust expense of those who created it.  In a very real sense, those who see the man running the company making $5 million a year while his lowest paid employee earns but $30 thousand in that same time and find this desperately in need of correction are still living in the 16th century.

jsid-1264973630-737  perlhaqr at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 21:33:50 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264973517-330

Dangit, apparently HTML doesn't work here any more.  :(

jsid-1264975446-495  DJ at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 22:04:06 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264973630-737

"Dangit, apparently HTML doesn't work here any more."

HTML tags in the form of text don't work here, but you can select text and apply HTML attributes to it via the buttons above.  It's the only proofread you'll get, but at least it works.

jsid-1264975706-415  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 22:08:26 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264973630-737

No, but I can fix it.

It seems insane though, that anyone would advocate not re-evaluating circumstances once "the future" has come and more knowledge has accumulated.

Longwinded or not, this is the problem with excerpting only the pertinent parts.  The Constrained vision DOES allow for re-evaluation, but because changes of existing systems should not be made hastily, the processes used (remember, the constrained vision is interested in processes, the unconstrained in intentions) are necessarily difficult and time consuming.  See, for example, the amendment process of our Constitution, and the power of the Supreme Court to overturn stare decisis.  It's slow, it's often painful, but it prevents us from running around like chickens with our heads cut off any time something happens we don't like.  Change is SLOWED, and UNNECESSARY change is often (but not always) prevented.

jsid-1264975311-9  DJ at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 22:01:51 +0000

"I tend to think of it as a virtue that I'm capable of learning from the past, admitting when I was wrong, and doing better in the future."

This is the flip side of Marxadopia.  He does not possess such a virtue.

jsid-1264976025-131  Old NFO at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 22:13:45 +0000

Kevin, outstanding post!  The one thing you never touch on is the military- I 'think' anyone who has been in the military for any length of time comes to the constrained point of view, simply because they HAVE SEEN man's inhumanity to man. They also come to realize freedom is earned, not 'granted' on a whim; and the real world simply cannot be forced into anyone's ideal utopia.  It is 'easy' in words, but very hard in reality...  Keep up the good work!

jsid-1264976722-846  khbaker at Sun, 31 Jan 2010 22:25:22 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264976025-131

I didn't touch on it because none of the excerpts I pulled from the book did, and I am not ex-military.  You make an excellent point that I wanted to make, however the piece is already 10,520 words long!

jsid-1265387931-79  Guest (anonymous) at Fri, 05 Feb 2010 16:38:51 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264976722-846

K, now it makes sense :)   I now understand!

jsid-1264985968-186  GrumpyOldFart at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 00:59:28 +0000

It seems insane though, that anyone would advocate not re-evaluating circumstances once "the future" has come and more knowledge has accumulated. To do otherwise would be like stubbornly continuing to design circuit boards operating on phlogiston. I tend to think of it as a virtue that I'm capable of learning from the past, admitting when I was wrong, and doing better in the future.

Is it like"stubbornly continuing to design circuit boards operating on phlogiston"? Or is it more akin to realizing that just because Newton has been dead for many years now is not sufficient reason to throw out Newtonian physics and start over from scratch?

In the Navy back in the 80s I was a computer tech. At the time, one of the things I ended up learning the basics of was called "hole flow theory". That was over 20 years ago, I assume things have moved on. Nonetheless, hole flow theory or whatever has since replaced it doesn't change the fact that many of the fundamentals of electronics date back to Newton or even Aristotle, does it?

The point is not rejection of new data. The point is refusal to reject old data simply on the basis of its age, until and unless it is shown to be flawed, as phlogiston was long ago. Even more to the point, even if you have found old data to be flawed, rejecting it is not helpful until you have something less flawed to replace it with. Phlogiston may be deeply flawed, sure... but is it more or less flawed than what it replaced, ie "lightning is the judgment of the Gods"?

jsid-1265000824-565  perlhaqr at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 05:07:04 +0000 in reply to jsid-1264985968-186

Is it like"stubbornly continuing to design circuit boards operating on phlogiston"? Or is it more akin to realizing that just because Newton has been dead for many years now is not sufficient reason to throw out Newtonian physics and start over from scratch?

I dunno.  I guess it depends on how radical (and accurate) your new knowledge is.

The point is not rejection of new data. The point is refusal to reject old data simply on the basis of its age, until and unless it is shown to be flawed, as phlogiston was long ago. Even more to the point, even if you have found old data to be flawed, rejecting it is not helpful until you have something less flawed to replace it with. Phlogiston may be deeply flawed, sure... but is it more or less flawed than what it replaced, ie "lightning is the judgment of the Gods"?

Point firmly taken.  :)   The process (there's that word again...) for properly rejecting old information was what was missing from the relevant Sowell quotes.

jsid-1264990566-299  John Luiten at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 02:16:06 +0000

To bad you've gotten hooked, now you have to read Intellectuals and Society by Sowell.  Which explores the question of why intellectuals (primarily of the unconstrainded vision) can get it wrong so often and still be listened to.

jsid-1264992339-672  khbaker at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 02:45:39 +0000

It's on the reading list, John.  I especially liked this from a review of that book:

In his 1988 book Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky, Paul Johnson wrote that one of the lessons of the 20th century was “beware intellectuals. Not merely should they be kept well away from the levers of power, they should also be objects of suspicion when they seek to offer collective advice.”  

Not long after Johnson released his book, economist Thomas Sowell appeared on the C-SPAN program
Booknotes. The host, Brian Lamb, asked Sowell what his next book would focus on, and he said he was considering writing about intellectuals. When Lamb asked how his book would be different from Johnson’s, Sowell threatened, “Mine would not be as generous as his.”


jsid-1265000656-616  JebTexas at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 05:04:16 +0000

I agree that there can be NO reasoned discussion with the unconstrained types, but that leaves the question of What do we do to limit their impact? The UC vision class is out breeding the rest of us 4 to 1 (my WAG). Even if we get out the majority today and win, what about 10 years from now? Or 25? Can we influence them NOT to vote? I see no viable solution to the problem. I guess Heinlein's Starship Troopers class of voters is about the only half-way workable system I've heard of, and IT disenfranchises most of the population, thus making it non-viable without bloodshed. Great post! Passed on to about half my mail list (no reasoned discussion, right?)

jsid-1265051960-980  Armaggedon Rex at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 19:19:21 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265000656-616

With the exception of immigrants, legal and illegal, "conservative" Americans spearheaded by self identified religious conservatives are outbreeding self identified "progressives" by a considerable margin.  If it were not for immigrants, the U.S. would have a birth rate on par with some European countries.  In other words we would now be or soon be in a declining population spiral.  The "progressives" are so busy living the SWPL lifestyle and trying to be Peter Pan that they will go self extinct in the next couple generations if we can:

1) Seriously curtail immigration.
2) Prevent the Education / Indoctrination establishment from creating a new generation of self indulgent, Peter Pan wannabe, statist, nincompoops!

I know both those are a tall order, but if Kennedy's old senate seat can be taken by a Republican, albeit a RINO, who's to say we as a people can't fix those two problems?

Get involved with your county Republican party, and the Tea Party movement.  If your local Republican party aparatchicks are RINO pieces of crap work to replace them with a fiscal conservatives who respects our constitution! 

Get out there and work!!!  It won't change on it's own or through wishful thinking.

jsid-1265002246-208  Ed "What the" Heckman at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 05:30:46 +0000

Sorry for the off topic post, but I just had to point out that Al Qaeda is once again saying the exact same thing as cons… uh… some political ideology again:

Bin Laden blasts U.S. for climate change

"Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.

"In the tape, broadcast in part on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden warned of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring "the wheels of the American economy" to a halt."

jsid-1265003768-381  Kevin S at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 05:56:08 +0000

Man, I don't know how you do it... but I'm very glad you do.  Posts like this are the reason that your place is my first stop every day.  Thanks!

jsid-1265006165-359  Sandwell at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 06:36:05 +0000

The Left has used "any means expedient" to destroy the opposition, up to and including calling for Nuremberg-style trials, and the execution of "deniers."

Executions?  Um, what? Where'd you get this from?

jsid-1265032525-476  Kevin Baker at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 13:55:25 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265006165-359

The execution talk came from Talking Points Memo post before they thought better of it and yanked it.

Grist magazine called for "Nuremburg-style trials."  The Nuremburg trials of 22 defendants resulted in 12 death penalties.

jsid-1265012013-562  Matthew at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 08:13:33 +0000

The Left including Communist Utopianism.

Those who were, or might even become, a threat to the program were executed.

Pol Pot, Stalin Che et al...

jsid-1265012239-204  Matthew at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 08:17:19 +0000

More recently, folks of the GW alarmist mein, like James Hansen, calling for trials of CEOs and opposition politicians and critics on charges of "high crimes against society and nature".

Boot meet human face, forever.

jsid-1265034137-429  jason at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 14:22:17 +0000

Holy wall of text, Batman!  re: star trek utopia--wasn't really a utopia--it looked like it because we just see the bridge and all the officers.  meanwhile the people needed to keep the ship running are rarely seen (except for the sacrificial red shirts).  who's doing all the work while kirk is banging some babe or piquard et al are role-playing in the holodeck (and do the grunts get time there?). 

and I'm cautious about Sowell.  I agree with the points made in this post, but too often, he is dishonest.  He once stated that all frogs were one species (until that statement he'd been making a good point).  I watched a canned interview where he claimed that poor college students were being deprived of 8:00 classes because professors were too lazy to get up--these classes fill up last because students don't want to get up--he knows this or was too lazy to find out, which I doubt. 

jsid-1265046622-23  Britt at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 17:50:38 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265034137-429

I'm currently a student, and I have always backed him up on the class times thing. I went to a school in DC my freshman year. Every professor would leave at 3pm to beat traffic. Forget working in the morning and scheduling your classes later in the day. Forget night classes.Trying to grid out a schedule? Good luck. Some semesters it is impossible, literally impossible, to take the classes I want to take, at any time. I don't mean having to suck it up and wake up earlier then I like, I mean that classes conflict to the point that you can't do a proper schedule.Which delays my degree.

If I were a college professor, I'd love to schedule classes from 2pm to 10pm. I'm a night owl. I'd put 8 hours in. Fact is, a lot of profs think that having a 10pm, an 11pm, a 1pm, and a hour in the office is a hard day's work. They're just plain lazy.

jsid-1265051633-842  jason at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 19:13:53 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265046622-23

And that't the problem with anecdotal evidence.  I worked forty hours of week for over half of my undergraduate years.  I scheduled classes in the morning.  I took night classes. I was able to graduate in a timely manner. Maybe in some schools (like your school in DC) Sowell's comments are accurate, but that's different from making a blanket condemnation--he doesn't limit his argument.  There are plenty of schools with those 10am to 2pm classes filling up first because those times are convenient for students. 

How do you know what a lot of profs think?  I'm guessing you have know idea how much prep goes into those classes.  I'll agree that some professors don't put enough time in, but that's different than saying all, or even most, and that's what's wrong with Sowell sometimes.  A blanket condemnation is really a piss-poor argument; in other words, it's easy to argue against a strawman. 

The other side of your argument is that maybe your schedule is impossible--colleges can only offer so many courses--many colleges will cancel classes if enrollment in a particular course is low.  Find a job with a different time, take out more loans, schools can't accomodate every students' particular scheduling need.  I bet most students don't have your problem and it's a cop out to blame the professors for your problems, which is why Sowell's arguments about lazy professors are so attractive to you. 

jsid-1265079969-843  Britt at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 03:06:11 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265051633-842

When did you take your undergrad? Because I argue this is a recent phenomenon, cause mainly by the realization by the universities that they had a lock on the market.

I've attended three separate schools. Two private universities and one community college. I've seen the same issue at all 3 schools. It's not that professors don't have classes, it's that all professors schedule the vast majority of their classes in the 5 hours between 10am and 3pm. It's not a matter of classes being spread out from 8am to 8pm. It's a matter of a very large majority of classes being clustered in a period that fits the schedule of the professors. There are outliers, of course. There are always 20 freshman comp sections, for example, that meet from morning to evening or online, weekly, etc. The issue is the courses with one or two sections, which will almost always be scheduled for 11am and 1pm, which allows a professor to rise at his leisure, drive to campus unimpeded by traffic, teach, lunch, teach, then do an office hour or two. Then they leave before the roads get busy again.They can do this because of tenure. The non-tenured instructors are the ones you'll find teaching night classes or early mornings. The full professors, the ones who teach the higher level courses, they follow this 5 or 6 hour day thing.Which sucks for me because I need these courses to graduate and they are offered at certain, limited times.

You see the issue?

Personally I think higher education is mostly a racket. Graduating with a BA is, at this point, roughly equivalent to a high school diploma 30 or 40 years ago. The jobs held by communications majors, for example, could easily done by a bright high school graduate. The utter destruction of the public high schools means that a HS diploma simply means that you attended high school for some portion of the time you were supposed to. Which is why every college freshman now has to take courses on reading and writing: because you cannot assume American public schools are producing literate people anymore. I'm a junior, but I just transferred to a new school and I am taking these courses again because credits failed to transfer. I'm in this class, and these people cannot write. They cannot construct a coherent sentence, they cannot construct an argument, they have terrible grammar, etc. That's anecdote, and I'll give you another one. My first real class in college, after I finished the crappy required stuff, was Intro to Comparative Politics. My professor was a woman with a PhD from Georgetown in International Relations. The first day we are talking about how governments acquire legitimacy. One of them, according to her, is a defining moment. She asked for examples of American defining moments. The usual ones came up: 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Lexington and Concord, etc. One guy said the Monroe Doctrine. I thought that was a bad pick, and waited for her to explain why. Instead she said "What is the Monroe Doctrine?" She didn't know what it was. An "expert" on international relations did not know what the Monroe Doctrine was.

I'm sorry I lack the funding and the time to do a proper statistical survey, but from what I've seen with my own eyes, something is very wrong.

For the record, I disagree with you on prep time. I'm a history major, maybe math and science is harder to prep for. From what I've seen though, it is far more common for a TA to walk through the door and give a lecture that covers nothing I didn't already know. Except this time, I'm paying beaucoup bucks for it, not 20 bucks on Amazon or leeching off of tax dollars like I did in high school. So yeah, I am a little pissed that at the end of my expensive education, I will have a small piece of parchment that says I'm a Bachelor of Arts, and another piece of paper that says I'm licensed to teach high school in the Commonwealth of Virginia, having learned.....well, not nothing. But it's certainly not 100,000 dollars worth of something.

Most students don't have my problem because most students don't work more then 40 hours a week. If I lived in a dorm and leeched off my parents I'd be done. That's not an option for me, so I do it this way. The problem is that the schools cater to the morons who change majors every semester and end up being 25 year old college students with maybe half of an actual degree in hand.

jsid-1265081118-948  Ken at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 03:25:18 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265079969-843

That's an unfortunate anecdote, Britt. Still, I dunno, I kind of like the Monroe Doctrine as a defining moment in American history. It said "We're gonna take notice of what goes on outside our borders," and put us into the imperial game, if in a sort of inverse way.

It's also important because of what it implied: "We can tell the great powers of Europe to stay out of our back yard, and make it stick."

jsid-1265252242-361  Larry at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:57:22 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265081118-948

I don't think the Monroe Doctrine came anywhere close to telling, " the great powers of Europe to stay out of our back yard, and mak[ing] it stick."  For many decades, it was toothless except insofar as the Royal Navy agreed (for British reasons of state). 

jsid-1265082878-853  DJ at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 03:54:38 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265079969-843

Britt, I offer this for its humor.

My wife's roommate her first two years always picked her sections so as to be done with final exams as early as possible.  The section schedule book always included a timetable for finals week, which most instructors adhered to.  She didn't care whether her classes met at 7:30 AM or 4:30 PM, and some did. But she was done with finals by the second day of finals week.

It always seemed a poor tradeoff to me.

jsid-1265098801-611  Sendarius at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 08:20:01 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265079969-843

I offer my own anecdote.

I am an electrical engineering graduate with an MBA. I have a full-time job, a wife, and two children.

I wanted to get a B.SC. in pure maths both for shits and giggles and as a career and mind expander.

I went to my alma mater here in Oz to enquire about a part-time degree program, how much it would cost, and to see what credits they would give me for my engineering maths units.

The university would have been happy to have me, but their idea of "part-time" was simply a reduced study load - five one-hour lectures per week plus a three hour tutorial.

The ONLY time the required units were presented was 10 AM for lectures, and 2 PM Wednesdays for the tutorial (presented by a TA). I could not possibly accommodate that AND keep my job, and I don't know of anyone that could if they were working 9 - 5. Other faculties had lectures at 5:15 PM for part-timers, but not the Maths department.

jsid-1265140504-934  jason at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 19:55:04 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265079969-843

I'll say it again--you claim that 11 and 1 are most popular because professors are lazy--the flip side to that is that those are the most popular times for classes--they fill up the fastest.  If the class is only offered a few times it will be in that range.  That's the school catering to traditional students.  Schools offer a variety of course times and I'm betting that professors may request time/days, but they don't always get to pick.  I'm sorry you've had incompetent teachers.  I don't expect you to do a statistical survey, just show a little restraint.  It's kind of like the anti-gunnies finding the worst kind of gun owners and holding them up as examples of all of us. 

jsid-1265245124-585  Britt at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 00:58:44 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265140504-934

I've never really said any different. I realize schools will cater to traditional students. Maybe I wasn't clear though. I had this problem when I still was a traditional student.

The problem is that, if I need to take Class A, B, C, D, E that semester in order to proceed down my degree track/planned progression, then I find that scheduling A at time 1, means I have to schedule B at time 2, but C is only offered at time 1, and D only at time 2, and E is offered at time 3 and I need to take all these classes right there to fill requirements and prerequisites. So I can take 3 classes, then waste money on electives, or I can fit the work I'd like to do in one semester into an entire year. Which means I might be out of school by the time I turn 25. What you find is that the classes everyone has to take can be easily fit in, but as you move up into higher level work the options become limited and it basically becomes a matter of choosing which classes you will put off till next semester.

Again, higher level courses are taught by higher level staff, who think it is beneath them to work the hours that people outside academia work. Maybe that's not fair. Maybe they just think "I paid my dues, I taught 8am classes and long night classes, I can do it this way now". However you slice it, they do not want to schedule outside of that nice little midday time period. I get it, and I understand because there is no incentive to schedule outside that, because education is one of those industries where the ones paying for it are separate from the ones who actually consume it. Having angry phone calls with my parents because I'm only taking 4 classes due to one of these foolish scheduling conflicts are not fun. I get the blame for something that I have no control over. You don't get paid more for coming in early or staying late, and there is a very large group of students who not only are willing to accept a slowed education, but love the idea of spending an extra year or two shaving infrequently and living off of their parents. So people like me, who want to get out of this walled garden and into the real world have to go at their pace, or something closer to it then I'd like.

jsid-1265051181-72  Matthew Hiouse at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 19:06:21 +0000

There is a key point everyone is missing. All through history, there was an option. The 'Constrained' could flee the 'UnConstrained'.when the UnConstrained reached such a point of power as to make life intolerable for the Contstrained, the Constrained would simply flee the country.

Now, we ( the constrained ) are trapped. We cannot flee them. There is no where left to run to.

The end results of this are not going to be pleasant.

jsid-1265162873-691  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 02:07:53 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265051181-72

Thus our only choice is to misbehave.

jsid-1265053624-571  NMM1AFan at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 19:47:04 +0000

Dang!  What is that, six months of Uberpost backlog in one shot?

A good read, as always!

jsid-1265071199-47  khbaker at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 00:40:05 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265053624-571

Pretty much.  This one marinated in my head (and languished in the "DRAFT" folder) for several weeks before I was finally able to find my muse and sit down and finish it.

jsid-1265180422-923  juris_imprudent at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 07:00:23 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265071199-47

You must have a large muse.

jsid-1265067516-862  Kevin Friebergstein at Mon, 01 Feb 2010 23:38:36 +0000

The essay flat out rocks.
Hmmmmm.  Wasn't but a couple days ago that I mentioned Reid, Pelosi, and Obama and their vision of turning this country into another "Miranda."
Damned straight I bought the Firefly DVD season (twice), went to Serenity on opening night, and bought the Serenity DVD the day it went on sale.
There was a message far greater than the "space cowboy" nonsense the mass media used to describe Firefly.

jsid-1265131547-963  Russell at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 17:25:48 +0000

Speaking of Sowell: http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2010/02/02/politicians_in_wonderland?page=full

jsid-1265149606-358  rocinante at Tue, 02 Feb 2010 22:26:46 +0000


When are you going to bite the proverbial bullet and write a book?  (Hell, with an overall frame to hang them on and a little editing, you could compile a dozen of your uberposts into quite an uplifting and provocative book. I'd buy five or six copies.)

jsid-1265156216-652  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 00:16:56 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265149606-358

How about "When I get a contract (and an advance) from a publisher"?

I'm sure as hell not going to go the vanity press route.

jsid-1265172192-819  perlhaqr at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 04:43:12 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265156216-652

I'll alpha read it.  I have references in that capacity.  This is a service I will provide for free, obviously.

Write it, get it alpha-edited, shop it around.  I won't push the vanity press route (though Correia and Scalzi did ok on that path) but it doesn't hurt to have a finished manuscript on file.  I mean, you write like a demon anyway...  :)

It's certianly not a surefire thing, but, well, this is the internet age.  You're two steps away from a number of published political commentary authors.  Someone on your reader list can corner Bill Whittle, or someone on that echelon, and make him look at your page.  Hell, you've gotten comments from him already...

It's not my intention to push you at this, but merely to point out that you're already more than halfway there.

jsid-1265211227-780  DJ at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 15:33:58 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265172192-819

What is Microsoft Word for if it can't do chores?

jsid-1265223015-538  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 18:50:15 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265149606-358

Here's the problem:  What works in a blog doesn't work in a book.  For one thing, no hyperlinks.  For another, what I do here I do under the banner of "Fair Use."  With a book, that's a for-profit venture.  I'd need to get legal permission for the overwhelming majority of the excerpts and citations that I post.  In case you hadn't noticed, I use a LOT of other people's words in my pieces.  As I've said, when someone else says it better than I can, I let them, and I give them the credit.

My "style" is to collect, coallate, and then tie it all together into a (hopefully) coherent whole with a point.  This works very well in blogging (except for those with short attention spans).  It might work in a book, but I don't see overcoming the legal permissions hurdle, given the sheer volume of some of the stuff I quote.  Hell, probably 70% of the words in this essay are Sowell's!

jsid-1265228182-151  DJ at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 20:16:22 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265223015-538

Hadn't thought of that. I haven't published a book, either, but then I don't have anything to publish.

Well, if you don't mind foregoing the royalties, then I don't mind not paying them.  That's the advantage of the internet; once you're online, it's free!

jsid-1265157328-853  markofafreeman at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 00:35:28 +0000

Wow, man.  Just wow.  I haven't even finished reading it yet, but just wow.  I've come to some similar conclusions here.

I typically only read this blog when others link to it.  After this post, I think I'll be reading it daily.

jsid-1265158185-170  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 00:49:45 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265157328-853

Check the archives.  The Überposts have been (prior to this) about monthly.

jsid-1265169605-286  DirtCrashr at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 04:00:05 +0000

I'm not seein' any comments from our favorite commentator...

jsid-1265170195-952  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 04:09:55 +0000

He's already dismissed this post in a previous comment thread. 

As Churchill said, people trip over facts all the time, but most just pick themselves up and brush themselves off and continue on as if nothing happened . . . .

jsid-1265172219-980  concerned american at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 04:43:40 +0000

I did read to the end, amigo.

Keep putting it out there....

jsid-1265216958-698  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 17:09:25 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265172219-980

Actually that was directed at your Anonymous commenter, CA, not you.  But thanks again for the link!

jsid-1265209437-440  RCD at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 15:03:57 +0000

Geez...I've stumbled into the promised land. Only read about one third; so I'll withhold commentary.

Heartfelf thanks.


jsid-1265230835-450  khbaker at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 21:00:35 +0000 in reply to jsid-1265209437-440

By all means, comment away!

jsid-1265234871-840  ruralcounsel at Wed, 03 Feb 2010 22:07:51 +0000

Reminds of a book called "The Coercive Utopians".

Nice summary of the basic irreconcilability of the two fundamental political/social philosophies. 

As my father used to facetiously say, I could solve all the problems if they'd only make me World Dictator for Life.

jsid-1265250672-18  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:31:16 +0000

Well, kh, I'm longwinded, and not nearly as smart as you and Thomas Sowell, in expressing that which I (currently) believe.  But the highest of praise and thanks anyway. from me, for what little that is worth. Your essay puts the basic conceptual moral conflicts, and their real world (political) dynamics, in the light...and makes perfect sense. And I suspect that you,  like me, obviously seek a true understanding of what are critical issues re individual and collective life and death, survival and prosperity...the basis of that 'pursuit of happiness ' dream...because you desire to do the right thing. To arrive at a place of peace, and satisfaction, that can only be had by those who are of a pure conscience.  We probably both agree, that knowledge is indeed power, and we seek the power or knowledge, through understanding, in order to employ such...if nothing more than to lay that critical issue of conscience at rest. Rest...meaning that we can feel - or better yet - know, that we ARE doing the *right* thing. Especially if - God forbid - we have to shed the blood of other's who act in (perceived) good conscience, or sacrifice our own, or our loved ones, toward the ideals which we know, to be good and true.

After going through the whole essay...I feel like the wind is out of my (optimism) sails. Guess I'm just a naive country bumpkin out here in Hillsdale...but as such, I always believed that men of good conscience, who seek the same prosperity, for as many as possible, could always come to an agreement. At least enough to avoid bloodshed. That the 'second coming' (of Truth) would be an understanding vision, which would enable us to reach the Star Trek Utopia. But now - as prophesied, and I suspected all along - dont think that 'second coming' will come...without a big free for all fight. It's like a moral, ideological version of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Oh well.

I find Goodwin's basic premise, as being almost strangely parallel to that of Jesus'; though Goodwin might have been a secularist. In that his (Goodwin's) single-minded commitment to the collective, at the expense of the self, is without limitation. Dangerous...if employed as a coercive mechanism, in either a religious or secular form. The profound difference between the two, being that even God (assuming that God exists) gives man the free will to choose to validate /worship God (the Whole)...or reject the *Collective Whole*...for the gratification of the Individual. I have long sensed a great paradox, in Jesus' admonition that "he that seeks to save himself, shall lose it...and he that looses shall gain" (paraphrase). Now I dont know whether believeing - and acting upon said belief - that sacrificing, or subordinating the innate value of the individual as opposed to the Whole, makes me an 'unconstrainer', but gets me in 'Heaven'. I do believe that there is indeed, "a way that seemeth right unto man...but the end thereof is destruction".

That said...in my gut...I feel that coercion of any sort - especially from those who seek to "build upon another's foundation" - for whatever perceived altruistic reason...is pure evil. Like some sort of body - or worse - soul snatcher. Arrogantly desiring to remake everyone; clones of their own high-minded image. Now I can wholeheartedly embrace truthful EDUCATION...as opposed to half truthful indoctrination. Even and especially, an un-censored version...that all concerned may make an educated choice, as to whether their ultimate choosen, ideal value, is their *Self* (which ceases to be, or at least transforms), or the Collective Whole (wherein the transformative process of *death*, would assure union w *God*). Both have their payoffs...according to one's natural preference. To each their own. Most certainly, the former (Self), will assure some serious competition...bigtime "wailing and gnashing of teeth".

Anyway...don't know whether yall argue religion or not. And I am kind of religiously biased...but for me, it's all tied together. Knowledge (Truth)...power...happiness. That is, if the power don't corrupt the individual who gains it. Thank you Jesus.

And thank you for your excellent work. God speed...and I'll definitely put you in my favorites list.


jsid-1265250741-304  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:32:21 +0000

(oops!  Double post!)

jsid-1265251764-865  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:49:24 +0000

ps...sorry for that double post. My computer skills mirror my philosophical pov...rather convoluted.

jsid-1265278681-190  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 10:18:01 +0000

Ruralcounsel...do you really believe that - as 'first principles' - these two ideas are irreconcilable?

I have a lifelong friend...scientist sort...a man who would make a great neighbor. He's a Progressive...although I not sure he knows the totality of his chosen ideology. Or where it will ultimately take him. And I myself - when I look out over all the ACORN yahoos who use their vote to thrive off of the hard labor of industrious individuals - then I too come to the conclusion that the smart people, should run the show. So I guess what we of oppositional ideologies argue...is...what is the *smart* view.

Civic responsibility, toward a beloved neighbor...or in the larger collective - like our good ole USA - is no doubt the cornerstone of our country. Good people agreeing, and laying down their blood and treasure, to see that prosperity and that 'pursuit of happiness' clause, is made possible, for as many who pay the price. It seems that the 'unconstrained' model. is just an unconstrained extension, of what is a virtuous, civic ideal. We make laws that constrain the greedy excess of the Capitalist (individual freedom) model, when dealing with Corporations such as the power company. A good thing? I think that we would all agree on that. To make a good thing (cheaper energy), available to as many honest folk as who were willing to pay for it. And of course, charity - in particular instances -but not without discression. I.e., qualifiers, for said charity.

Knowing my good friend, and assuming the good hearted intent of a large majority of those intellectuals who promote the Unconstrained version as being morally superior...I just can not believe, that there can not be some sort of pragmatic deal cut here. That we are all going to draw a line...and fight it out...to a bloody end. I would expect nothing more from Islam (proper), for they seem to be the religious version of the Unconstrained pov. But from those like myself, who are motivated by their Christian responsibility...I just find it hard to believe that there is not a form of practical government, which takes all this new information into account, being guided by our Founder's wisdom (in regard to the corrupting influence of too much govt power), and hammer out a system where we/We mandate an honest (all sides) education, create responsible and loving citizens, and purse the Star Trek model.

Though I have been a dreamer and idealist since the beginning...I am a realist. I know that there will always be problematic individuals and behavior; and I include myself in that group. I've (philosophically) reconciled that, as a 'necessary evil', and ultimately...a good thing. But I just cant give up on the idea that good men, who both feel compelled either by their secular conscience, or by their religious nature, to indeed be their brother's keeper, in a sense of true brotherly love (the kind that grows in a foxhole, or some version of mutual suffering)...well, I'm sure you see my dilemma. Or better said...my fondest hope.


Now on my first post,

jsid-1265285609-561  GrumpyOldFart at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 12:13:29 +0000

RCD, I think perhaps you may be missing a salient point.

The "constrained vision", so far as I can tell, does not belittle the value of, nor the need for, charity and other forms of individual sacrifice for the greater good. The fact that conservatives in the US apparently give more to voluntary charitable organizations than any other group in the world suggests that, in fact, the opposite is the case.

No, I think the constrained view is that requiring sacrifice for the greater good ("Charity at gunpoint" as I have called it elsewhere) not only reduces the value of such sacrifice, but is quite often counterproductive to the very aims one hopes to achieve.

In short, you cannot 'frog march' people into heaven. The end does not justify the means, ever. If the means cannot justify themselves, they will ultimately pollute, if not actually destroy, the end for which you strive.

jsid-1265296986-610  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 15:23:29 +0000

Absolutely in agreement, GOF. Philosophically, I think that when (assumption) God created *man*, it would have been a self-ingratiating act, UNLESS he gave man the free will to reject God as the Supreme value. Duhhh...I know. Would be hard to deny the very fount of basic reality, as the 'Supreme Value'...butttt...it would have to be that way...or God would risk the act of creation of lesser beings, as one of a supreme egotist. In that God would full well realized, and expect (not illogically or immorally so) that his 'children' would worship, and give due credit for such a supreme gift.

And I an inclined to believe (dangersously so), that the evidence, does indeed, render that the 'end', does 'does justify the means'. Now I expect to take heat for such belief, and God does too. As His tolerance/ordaination/creation of (necessary) *Evil*...does carry substantial, incriminating baggage. Atheists and open-minded Agnostics, have long hung their hats on the philosophical argument, that if God exist, and allows evil to wantonly (no justice) fall as the rain (on the just and unjust)...then such is and act of universal mal-practice. An abbrogation of Supreme Authority, at the highest level...and good reason for none of us to worship such an one, even if some form of a god/God does exist.

But for the purpose of this particular discussion, re these two oppositional 'first premises', I am inclined to believe, that ALL THINGS...CAN, and will be reconciled. That is, if one possesses the all inclusive Vision (of Truth), which accomplishes that purpose. It seems, on this matter though, that the issue is not charity - unless one envisions the act of a forced indoctrination of known and agreed upon Truths - as not only one of supreme charity...but of supreme civic responsibility. Not unlike one would assume, in the rearing of one's own children. You make em...you break em...you own em. If (BIG IF)there is supreme Justice (I.e., God)...then we most surely be held accountable, to at the very LEAST, fully educate, by bearing witness, any and all whom we might see in ignorance. If not, we have to know it (their action) will come back to bite us.

So what we are contemplating...is...what perfected ideas (ideology), can - knowing what we now know - we know (as did our Founding Fathers), which we can offer, and which will capture the high moral ground, from those powerful forces and individuals, whose beliefs and actions threaten the general welfare (good intentions, nws).

I do think humanity has reached a point, in it's evolutionary advance, wherein the power (scientific) which we now access, will no doubt, destroy us, and any further (Star Trek) progress...unless we can harmonize - even homogenize - our social/political/religious belief. Any hope that we can unite on a common vision of Truth - at least before a major scrap - might be kinda like Einstein's fruitless search for the 'theory of everything', which he knew MUST (ovbiously so) exist...but like I said, I have to believe that humanity has only begun on our eternal journey *upward*, that both the good inherrent in the Constrained and Unconstrained 'first premises'...can be reconciled, and claimed and employed as Power, for perhaps, that 'millenial kingdom'. But then...I am a dreamer. And having been accused of being much worse...I hold tight to a healthy skepticism.

Best wishes...RCD

ps...I think I've figured this posting problem out. The yellow banner appears at the top, saying post was unsuccessful...but really it aint. So, I'll just hit it once, and if the ethers eat it...so be it.  

jsid-1265297490-371  GrumpyOldFart at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 15:31:30 +0000

"Young man, can you restore my eyes?"
"What?!? No sir."
"You'd have better luck with that than trying to instill civic virtue, social responsibility, in someone who doesn't have it, doesn't want it, and resents having the burden thrust upon him."

- Robert Heinlein,  Starship Troopers

(Apologies if it's a paraphrase, I did it from memory rather than looking it up.)

jsid-1265301972-524  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 16:46:21 +0000

I'm inclined to agree on that too, G. And I could hold my own testimony from the public...and it would probably spare said public, the pain therein.

But that we do not know, just WHO will be affected positively...and who wont'. If we neglect to enact morally  agreed upon laws, which specify beneficial and harmonizing ideals...simply because we believe that our rebellious and competative nature (by degree) is apt to reject such, and lose those harmonizing benefits...and then shoot it out with biotech or nuclear weapons...then...wouldn't we realize (assuming there is someone to do the monday morn judging), that it would have been better, to at least try. Good conscience, in at least the effort. That may be the intuituve basis, for the whole Unconstrained, 'good intentions, bad results' mindset.

Oh well...love learning this stuff.

Best wishes...RCD 

jsid-1265303881-428  GrumpyOldFart at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 17:18:01 +0000

Of course. That's why laws should be limited to rooting out the use of force and fraud, and nothing else. That way those led by civic virtue are free to follow it, those who are not are free to refuse to follow it, and yet "shooting it out" is still agreed upon by all concerned as unacceptable.

jsid-1265309472-995  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 18:51:13 +0000

Kinda lost me, on that point.

Law, is the epitomy of positive, beneficial, collective coercion. If a little is good...well...assuming the we can dodge the 'power corrupts' hurdle...then how would it be beneficial to limit, good and beneficial (coercive) law? (I guess you realize that I sometimes play the devil's advocate, in order to 'coerce' debaters, into clarifing ideas, which I might not fully understand).

When my mama was in the hospital, and I sat with her...I was reading this book entitled 'Politica'...written by a man named J. Althusius, in 1603...and lo and behold...the man would think we are flat out stupid, for not empowering the state to maintain and promote true Religion. And I have often thought to myself...why in the hell does the state mandate an education of the three r's; or that we pass a driving test...yet...absolutely no civic/moral (read, 'religious') responsibilty cirriculum. WTF!!! So, we turn out smart heathen, who can drive a car? That ought to really work out well. Althusius would not be surprised, at the problematic state of our current culture.

It just seems to me, that it would be a basic, first premise, of any successful culture, to take to heart the task of (coercive law) educating all the citizenry, as to their civic responsibility. Its one thing to pronounce judgment on an ignorant murderer...it's another, to pronounce such on a man who can not use ignorance as an excuse. Or blame his ignorance, on a society, wherein individuals with power, with the responsibility to lead, did not do so. At least not sufficiently so, to at least offer all the citizenry, an 'educated choice'.

My suspicion is, that if a culture is to make the leap - being able to successfully access great technological power - and avoid societal suicide...that such a culture will most certainly understand that THE first premise, and responsibility, of any collective leaders (and there are leaders, gifted individuals, such as those on this forum)...then it is up to those individuals, to publically (screw the elitist, back room stuff) argue, lucid presentations, of these basic, moral concepts....and see that they are presented in a form understood by ALL.

Moral responsibility, rules such as 'don't do to someone else, what you would not want them to do to you'...dont require a rocket scientise IQ, or even much over 77, to comprehend. And I'm not promoting the Obama version of 'community service/Socialist' version. I'm talking about PERSON, INDIVIDUAL responsibility, to pull at least your own share, and not step on anyones toes.

Wondering...am I an 'Unconstainer'...for considering what seems common sense to me?

Gotta work...regards...RCD   

jsid-1265314609-171  GrumpyOldFart at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 20:16:49 +0000

It just seems to me, that it would be a basic, first premise, of any successful culture, to take to heart the task of (coercive law) educating all the citizenry, as to their civic responsibility.

And there is precisely the problem. Do you know any two people who agree precisely as to the definition of "civic responsibility"? If not, how are you going to get a majority of the citizens to agree on the definition so precisely that it can be codified into law, knowing in advance that it's simply not possible for people to foresee all the myriad ways in which said law will be applied?

And if a majority can't agree that precisely, what happens then? Your choices become 1) either go back to square one, or 2) abandon the rule of law entirely, in favor of rule at the whim of a despot with whose prejudices you happen to agree.

jsid-1265324311-425  RCD at Thu, 04 Feb 2010 22:58:31 +0000

Benevolent dictator! ;)

Seriously...for starters...civic responsibility would be offering a good or service in the market place, to earn a living...instead of voting it out of someone's pocket. I'll bet me and you could sit down, and agree on a lot of educational virtues which should be taught. Hell, there was 18 in my graduating class...and the whole faculty...didn't need a law, to be responsible people. People used to know that stuff. Now...not so much. But it'll be back...after a severe ass kickin.

Hey GF...you a Tiger fan. Thought i saw you on the 'rant'.


jsid-1265382701-968  GrumpyOldFart at Fri, 05 Feb 2010 15:11:42 +0000

And yet as much as our viewpoints already agree, we'd probably still have our differences. Now think about getting closer agreement than you and I probably have from 535 people. Or better yet, over 150 million. You see the problem?

"More than three people can't agree on when to have dinner, much less when to strike."

Earning a living instead of voting it out of someone's else's pocket? We tried that. And yet 200+ years later, scarcely a single page in the history of most of the countries in the world, here we are.

A whole lot of the problem lies in words used in the writing of laws that don't have a single objective definition. "Reasonable" is bad enough, but "fair" probably doesn't mean precisely the same thing to any two people on the planet. Which tells you all you need to know about "the Fairness Doctrine" and Obama's willingness to redistribute wealth "in the interests of fairness", doesn't it? Given how large a percentage of laws are written by lawyers, in other words by people who make their living making words do what they want regardless of their actual meaning, what are the chances that such sloppiness being built into laws is accidental?

jsid-1265400791-71  RCD at Fri, 05 Feb 2010 20:13:11 +0000

Eloquently spoken. I gotta go...back later.


jsid-1265599321-988  philmon at Mon, 08 Feb 2010 03:22:02 +0000

Kevin ... how different is "A Conflict of Visions" from "The Vision of the Annointed"?

I read the latter.  I just recently heard about "A Conflict of Visions".  I may have to get it -- but I was skeptical because I was afraid it might pretty much cover the same ground.

jsid-1265602903-810  khbaker at Mon, 08 Feb 2010 04:21:43 +0000

Philmon, Conflict describes the differences between the two visions across the spectrum of political topics.  Vision of the Annointed is an exposition of those of the unconstrained vision exclusively.  I wish I'd read Conflict first, but like you I read Vision first, some time ago.

jsid-1265930483-654  WWWebb at Thu, 11 Feb 2010 23:21:23 +0000

I'm an unreconstructed Sowellite-- whenever I inhabit a bookstore I always check to see if they have one of his works that I don't already own on their shelves.

I've given away at least five copies of Vision of the Anointed, and have loaned out many of his other works over the years. 

You may call A Conflict of Visions a magnum opus, but that's because you haven't gotten to Knowledge and Decisions yet.

jsid-1266165025-107  RCD at Sun, 14 Feb 2010 16:30:25 +0000

Geez Webb...new work, or older? Dont matter, think I'll order the thing now...next read. Just dont see how it can get much better though, than the above essay.

Still, I am perplexed, that the two opposing visions, cant find a common ground synthesis. Maybe thats why Jesus said that his kingdom...'was not of this world'.

Oh well...fascinating.

jsid-1268470449-883  Brad at Sat, 13 Mar 2010 08:54:09 +0000

Super post. I couldn't read it all at one sitting - it took some "coming back to". One minor point that seems odd:

"...freedom of speech logically becomes a far more important right than property rights in this vision. Free-speech rights are thus entitled to sweeping exemptions from interventions of public authority."

Part of what I see coming from the "unconstrained" is the whole PC concept: thoughts we may not express and shouldn't even have. Most recent example: scattering cotton balls in front of a black cultural center leads to felony charges for "hate crimes". Somehow, free speech is only allowed to those who agree with the intellectual elite...

jsid-1268504504-253  khbaker at Sat, 13 Mar 2010 18:21:44 +0000 in reply to jsid-1268470449-883

Yes, that's "hate speech" which doesn't count.  Freedom of speech is for people who think the right thoughts.  Jonah Goldberg said it in Liberal FascismProgressivism, liberalism, or whatever you want to call it has become an ideology of power. So long as liberals hold it, principles don't matter. It also highlights the real fascist legacy of World War I and the New Deal: the notion that government action in the name of "good things" under the direction of "our people" is always and everywhere justified. Dissent by the right people is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent by the wrong people is troubling evidence of incipient fascism.

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