Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All Hail the Invisible Hand!

The Great Metaphor for the collective actions of humanity in the absence of aggression.

That's the though I had when I read this passage of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell (p. 241, hardcover):
In mythology, whenever the Unmoved Mover, the Mighty Living One, holds the center of attention, there is a miraculous spontaneity about the shaping of the universe. The elements condense and move into play of their own accord, or at the Creator's slightest word: the portions of the self-shattering cosmic egg go to their stations without aid.
I like my words better, this is quite a ways into the book - the preceding 240 pages make sense of the weird sounding stuff. The rest of the paragraph is certainly true of people's understandings of each other's thoughts and actions throughout history, but I'm completely down with these first couple sentences.

...And, since I started this during family time, naturally I can't finish it. It's time to attend to the needs of my loved ones.

Hey! Solstice! 11:30 PM tonight (CST)

Very nice article here.

Are your robes clean?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I said this on FaceBook

Libertarianism is the philosophy that all bullying is wrong. A thought I had while listening to Porc Therapy.

It works better on Facebook. I wanted the link in there, though.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A wonderful tribute to Lysander Spooner

It's called "A Toast to Lysander Spooner". There's other good stuff on that page that explain 'our' perspective as well.

Well, crud. I tried to post the audio directly, but it doesn't seem to work.

Havel outlives Kim

in years anyway. Havel beat him in value produced for humanity as well.

I was thinking about why they ousted Havel. I think I'll have something to say, later.

Lynx schminx.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The trouble with

football analogies is that there's no clock in this game. And no boundaries to the field - the stands, the locker room, the parking lot and the road from your house to the field are all in bounds.

But it would certainly be unwise to completely ignore your point, Mr. Callahan - you've earned your bona fides [link to a pdf of his book there]. The theory has to explain the anomalies.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hey! It's Bill of Rights Day!

Highest Law of the Land, ya'll!

[No, not rap. Actually the radio's playing the sappiest collection of holiday songs (not Christmas Carols) you ever heard. Probably why my inner Gangsta Rappa has taken over my keyboard.]

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Philosophy everyone should know: True Epicureanism

Diogenes of Aonoanda (say that five times fast):
Having already reached the sunset of my life (being almost on the verge of departure from the world on account of old age), I wanted, before being overtaken by death, to compose a fine anthem to celebrate the fullness of pleasure and so to help now those who are well-constituted. Now, if only one person or two or three or four or five or six or any larger number you choose, sir, provided that it is not very large, were in a bad predicament, I should address them individually and do all in my power to give them the best advice. But, as I have said before, the majority of people suffer from a common disease, as in a plague, with their false notions about things, and their number is increasing (for in mutual emulation they catch the disease from one another, like sheep) moreover, it is right to help also generations to come (for they too belong to us, though they are still unborn) and, besides, love of humanity prompts us to aid also the foreigners who come here. Now, since the remedies of the inscription reach a larger number of people, I wished to use this stoa to advertise publicly the medicines that bring salvation. These medicines we have put fully to the test; for we have dispelled the fears that grip us without justification, and, as for pains, those that are groundless we have completely excised, while those that are natural we have reduced to an absolute minimum, making their magnitude minute.
A stoa is a grand porch. I don't think this one produced any Stoics.

I got a couple issues with this guy

This guy.

Though I agree with the core of his argument that the compromise between the right and left ain't gonna get you anything you want and(/or) that half the centrists just aren't paying attention and shouldn't even vote. He didn't say that, I did.

Do.
The anti-partisan story is a seductive myth, and a dangerous one. Those who represent themselves as standing in the center have their own partialities. Many people who call themselves nonpartisan or independent actually lean left or right but for one reason or another resist coming out of the closet as Democrats or Republicans. Some people who tell pollsters that they’re independents don’t follow politics closely or care about it enough to risk taking sides. They’re hardly model citizens.

Besides this muddled middle, there are centrists by conviction, who can be just as ideological as people to their right and left. Moderation has its zealots, so convinced of their righteousness that they ignore the probable consequences of their actions. And these days, some fanatics of moderation seem to be afflicted by a strange combination of blindness and amnesia that has made them likely to do harm even to the values they profess.
...
The fanatics of the center wave away ... concerns. They believe so deeply in the spirit of compromise that their commitment to it is uncompromising. Every time Republicans move to the right, Democrats are supposed to be willing to find common ground by moving further to the right, too. Civic virtue positively requires it.
I appreciate him making that point.

What I disagree with is Starr's assumption that a few more government programs will solve all our problems. As long as they're lefty programs, not righty ones.

The trouble with left, right and center is that they all accept the legitimacy of cops sticking guns in people's faces to make them obey, whether they agree or not. The extremists on either end are more aware that that's what they're doing when they vote for a welfare or warfare program - it's just that they've got to get those dumb-ass/evil bastards on the other side to pony-up for what's right!

The centrists don't see that. Their way grows all ways.

A whole bunch of stuff has gotten in the way of me posting

(if that's proper English). The kids are getting bigger and taking longer turns on the computer is probably the biggest thing. So I get on at 10:00 after dealing with more mundane matters for several hours (or watching TV or reading a book), and by the time I've worked up an opinion on something I'm too tired to think of anything worth saying.

I bought all the Heroes DVDs and watched three seasons' worth. I stopped because I'm ahead of the rest of the family.

Read a bunch of Jung. My dreams are running scared. Working on Joseph Campbell, and I felt the need to take a detour into Elaine Pagels. I'm also enjoying a book about Pythagoras.

I see all of the latter as follow-ups to Jung. Jung doesn't say everything that's important in psychology (nor do I feel that he was always right), but I'm definitely finding him worthy of my time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

This is what the Knife River looks like

in my memory. I thought I was looking downstream, but what did I know? I wasn't even three. That would have been the Winter of '65. We lived right near the mouth of the river in a small cabin. There was a rotting rope bridge across the river. Unbelievably (perhaps), I crossed that thing once. My tiny feet were enough to break some of the boards. I tried several times. Once, I walked out on the ice and fell in. Mom had to come get me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This'll have you jumpin' around the room!

Gracefully, or (as in my case) otherwise.


These guys love what they're doing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rothbard

From Syndical Syndrome in Mises Daily: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Of the three major proposals for running an advanced industrial society — socialism, syndicalism, and free-market capitalism — syndicalism is the most blatantly unworkable and most rapidly disastrous. For in such a society, there must be some rational mechanism for allocating resources efficiently, for seeing to it that the proper amounts of labor, land, and capital equipment are employed in those areas and in those ways most efficient for satisfying the wants and desires of the mass of consumers. Free-market capitalism not only provides the most smoothly efficient way; it is also the only method that relies solely on voluntary inducements.

Thus, suppose that a great number of new workers are needed in a new and expanding industry, say, plastics or electronics. How are these workers to be supplied? The market way is to offer new jobs at higher wages in these new areas and fields, while firing people or cutting wages in those industries that are in decline (say the horse-and-buggy industry). The pure socialist way is to direct the labor out of one industry and into another purely by coercive violence — i.e., by forced labor direction. The socialist method is both despotic and highly inefficient, and so even the socialist countries have been turning more and more to free-market methods in the allocation of labor. But at least socialism is an attempt at a rational allocation of labor in a modern, industrial society.

Syndicalism, on the other hand — i.e., full worker "ownership" of "their" industries — does not even attempt to achieve a rational allocation of resources. Both the free method of market allocation and the coercive method of central dictation are eliminated. And what is to take their place? In effect, nothing but chaos. Instead of a coordinating mechanism there is now only the chaotic will of groups of brawling monopoloid syndics, each demanding parity and control regardless of economic law.
I like this line, too, "...a libertarian society does not mean the total absence of coercion but only the absence of coercion against noncriminals."

Criminals, of course, defined as 'those who initiate force or fraud against others.'

Edit: Dr. Rothbard quotes from The Anarchists later in the piece. It promises to be a good read.

I'm sorry I dumped Jacob Hornberger and the FFF

about 8 minutes after I started this blog. I wasn't ready to accept their anti-war, pro-immigrant positions - at least, not to the extremes they take them. I repent of my pusillanimity.

Here's some Hornberger:
Additional message to statists: Even if you succeeded in building a solid wall along the Southern border — one that was better fortified than the Berlin Wall ever was — and even if it was manned by East German (legal) immigrant sharpshooters — and even if the entire border was monitored by tens of thousands of CIA assassination drones — even if millions of military boots were lined up side-by-side along the border — even if not one single illegal immigrant was able to enter the United States — your economic problems would still not go away.

That’s because, again, illegal immigrants are not the cause of America’s economic problems. They’re just your convenient scapegoat. The cause of America’s economic woes is the welfarism, militarism, imperialism, socialism, and interventionism that have pervaded our land for decades. Attacking illegal immigrants is not going to prevent the chickens from coming home to roost after decades of statism.

In fact, illegal immigrants actually provide a guide to Americans as to how to extricate our nation from its statist morass. Illegal immigrants are among the hardest-working people you’d ever find in life. They have a tremendous work ethic. That’s why Mitt Romney’s lawn service — and countless other American employers — love to hire illegal immigrants — because they work hard.

Have you ever noticed that in the midst of high unemployment, illegal immigrants find their way into the United States and find jobs that don’t exist?

Yes, I’ve heard the old canard: “Oh, Jacob, they’re just coming here to get on welfare, and welfare should be limited to Americans.” That’s just projection. It is American statists who love welfare. Both conservatives and liberals embrace the welfare state, adore it, and are firmly committed to saving and reforming it. It’s only libertarians who wish to dismantle it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ya know? I may have to set aside some time Sunday

to watch the Packers. I caught 10 minutes of the game two weeks ago (when I got home from the marathon), but otherwise I haven't been thinking about football.

Now that it actually feels and looks like Fall outside - not to mention the fact that they've got a 5-0 record and the best quarterback I've had the pleasure of watching in my life (sorry Brett) - I'm starting to feel like it's time for football.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cato lives!

As Obama Goes Abroad Searching for Monsters to Destroy, Ron Paul Rightly Rejects Assassinating Americans
“I don’t think that’s a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul said in New Hampshire. “Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. Nobody knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber. But if the American people accept this blindly and casually—that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys—I think it’s sad."

Monday, October 03, 2011

It was a lovely day for a race

My results are here. And in case you don't feel like clicking over there, here:

My feet were killing me after the race, but they're fine now. Now I just have tire legs - nothing unusual.

Analysing the splits, I see that I was speeding up through the Half, then I slowed down quite a bit. The second half took me 2:43:14. The splits are goofy after that, though the last 10K (20M to the end) can be compared to the first - 1:19:29 vs 59:11.

I ran a few more numbers, but I know when I hit the wall. It was about Mile 16. For almost an hour after that I just couldn't must any gumption. After Mile 24 I just decided I was going to keep moving at a pace that could be called a run until I finished.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Doug Casey attacks a common fallacy

The Gold Report, Sept. 27:
TGR: If panic erupts on the U.S. dollar, would products manufactured in the U.S. become super-cheap or super-expensive?

DC: They would become super-cheap. Everybody says that devaluing the dollar will stimulate U.S. industry because the products will become cheaper and foreigners will buy them. This is a huge canard everybody repeats and nobody thinks about. Yes, it is true for a while, but if devaluation were the key to prosperity, Zimbabwe should be the most prosperous country in the world as it has already collapsed its currency.

A strong currency is essential for a strong economy. Sure, a strong currency can hurt exporters for a while. But, a strong currency encourages manufacturers to invest in technology, and become more efficient. It rewards savings and results in the growth of capital that's critical for prosperity. A strong currency allows businessmen to buy foreign companies and technologies at bargain prices. It results in a high standard of living for the country, and yields social stability as a bonus. The idea that decreasing the value of currency to stimulate exports is a short-lived, stupid and counterproductive solution to the problem. People seem to forget that while the German currency was rising about sixfold from its level of 1971, and the Japanese yen about fourfold, those countries became the world's greatest export economies. It didn't happen despite a strong currency, but in large measure because of it.
I wonder if anyone's done a study like Friedman's and Schwartz' A Monetary History of the United States for Germany and Japan. I know about the hyperinflation and that Hitler ended it and I was watching Germany pretty closely from the mid-'70s on.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Constitution Day was last Saturday.

I wasn't feeling much like celebrating. I was kinda feeling like H.L. Mencken must have been feeling when he wrote this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cantillon's Essay

A new translation, by the Mises Institute. You might enjoy seeing page one:

I took a screenshot of the pdf. It looks like I chopped off the bottom, but that's all the info on the page, except for the page number.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ooh, I like this guy! Dr. Ross Greene

I'll just print his front page blurb:
Be a part of the solution.
Lives in the Balance is the non-profit organization founded by child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School, and originator of the Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) approach. This website contains a ton of information – streaming video, an extensive Listening Library, and a boatload of additional resources -- to help you learn about and implement the research-based CPS model and provide you with the support you need. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

And if you’re ready to help Lives in the Balance educate others about the true factors contributing to kids’ behavioral challenges...about why time-outs, detentions, suspensions, expulsions, restraints, and locked-door seclusion often make things worse (and about what to do instead)...this website has lots for you, too. Want to get involved? CLICK HERE to find out how.

Understanding and helping a behaviorally challenging child is a tough journey. No need to go it alone...we're all in this together.
I put in the Amazon links to his books. By the way, here's what I think is the most hard hitting video on his introductory page: Check Your Lenses.

And I should run you over to see his Hot Topics section.

This quote is from a different section, but, anyway:
When does the child exhibit challenging behavior? The CPS [Collaborative Problem Solving] model has an answer to that, too: He exhibits challenging behavior when the demands being placed upon him exceed the skills he has to respond adaptively. Would the child prefer to respond adaptively? Of course! Is the child choosing to respond maladaptively? Now why would he choose to do that? If he had the skills to respond adaptively, he would.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hey! Look! The Tibetan Book of the Dead!

Right here!

Or, maybe it'd behoove me [you've never seen me in hooves] to do this:
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Book of Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Nicely put.

Sanford Ikeda explains the proper uses of micro- and macroeconomics. The first commenters said something that roused a thought:
But in the overall “Macro” economic world, the drag of the Welfare State and the Warfare State has led to the economic problems we have today. There are just too many non-producers. Too many wars,too many Welfare Recipients,too many Social Security recipients,too many people on Food Stamps,Unemployment Compensation etc.,etc. plus much,much too many government employees and retired government employees,who may be deemed necessary for a “civilized society,” but in the end produce no real wealth.
My thought is that somebody ought to mention that a huge part of the American economy pays for government employees whose job it is to actively destroy wealth. The only way that could work for us is if we followed the WWII model and destroyed all other industrialized nations. I think that's what our Keynesians and Neocons actually have in mind (though, perhaps, hiding in the back). Our commenter, Libertarian Jerry, goes on to say:
Its a classic example of the imbalance between the Economic Class that creates the wealth and the Political Class that lives off of that created wealth. Add to this “Macro” economic problem the “Too big to fail” mentality of the plutocracy that use government connections to try and thwart the rules of economics,then you have the sorry mess of the American Economy.
I'm going to have to buy a WSJ today. I see the Swiss are buying Euros to keep their Francs cheap. Hey! Speaking of 'nicely put', here's Larkin Rose doing what he does best:
On an individual basis, most people understand and accept that threatening people and using violence is justified only when used defensively. It's not okay to use force to steal someone's stuff. It is okay to use force to stop someone from stealing your stuff. It's not okay to violently assault someone. It is okay to use violence to stop someone from assaulting you. Yes, there can be occasional gray areas, but the general idea of the non-aggression principle is pretty simple. So no, killing innocent people, because the regime they live under does bad things, is not okay. It's not okay if you're a middle eastern terrorist, or if you're a U.S. soldier. On the other hand, using violence to try to stop aggressors is justified, whether the aggressors are private or "government." (In most cases, trying to forcibly resist thugs who imagine themselves to be representing "authority" tends to be very hazardous and counter-productive, but that doesn't mean it isn't morally justified.)
The parenthetical point is important to mention. I don't know any anarcho-capitalists who advise starting a war with the police, nor looting any non-violent business. We preach education and negotiation, not aggression. The problem of violence will never be solved by warmongering. I'm sorry if I haven't made it clear that I've made about a 170° turnaround since I started spewing my guts all over this page back in '03. I sincerely doubted then that the government would go about seeking justice for 9-11 efficaciously, but I agreed that they should try. Now I think that Clarence Darrow (of Scopes Trial fame) had the right of it, when he published his book Resist Not Evil a hundred years before.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Study links bad parenting to binge drinking

http://www.demos.co.uk/press_releases/parentingbingedrinking I got that from Stef who got it from the Daily Mail who got it from Demos. The Demos article is the best. It actually defines the parenting styles discussed. Stef just gave the link and the Daily Mail's summary of the summary isn't informative enough. It might even be a little misleading. I think it is, without this:
Tough love or authoritative parents: Parents falling into this category tend to expect that their children will conform to household rules and boundaries but that these will be set and negotiated within a context that encourages autonomy in the children’s decision-making. Such parents have high standards but support their children warmly in adhering to them; in their enforcement of rules such parents are assertive without being aggressive.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nicely said, Mr. Greg

August 2, 2011
Mises Daily

Why Capitalism Is Worth Defending
by Anthony Gregory on August 2, 2011

[LewRockwell.com, July 29, 2011]


As Obama demonizes the wealthy and pitches a dozen plans to restructure the economy, opponents of this program need a reminder of what exactly we're fighting for. We are resisting bureaucracy, central planning, and encroachments on our freedom and communities. But this does not get to the heart of the matter. We are not only an opposition movement, countering the president and his partisans' agenda. More fundamentally, we stand in defense of the greatest engine of material prosperity in human history, the fount of civilization, peace, and modernity: capitalism.

Many regard "capitalism" as a dirty word, and it is tarnished most of all by its supposed guardians. Wall Street giants fancy themselves capitalists even as they live off the taxpayer and thrive on the state's gifts of privilege, inflation, and barriers to entry. In the military-industrial complex, they champion capitalism by name as they produce devices of murder for the state. In the Republican Party and every conservative institution, they talk it up while making such vast exceptions to the principle as to swallow it whole. When many think of capitalism, they think of the corporatist status quo, leading even some who favor economic freedom to abandon the term.

But we should not abandon it. For one thing, most opponents of capitalism do not merely oppose Goldman Sachs or Halliburton or even McDonald's. Rather, they oppose free enterprise as a matter of principle. They object to employers' liberty to hire and fire whom they want, at whatever wage is mutually arranged. They protest the right of entrepreneurs to enter the market without restriction. They disapprove businesses designing infrastructure; providing energy, food, water and other necessary commodities; and running transportation without government meddling. They lament the rich getting richer, even through purely peaceful means. They oppose the freedom to engage in short selling, insider trading, hostile takeovers, and corporate mergers without the central state's blessing. They begrudge the worker who dissents from the labor establishment. It is exactly the anarchy of the free market they despise, not the consolidated state–big business nexus they most want to smash. For every liberal who hates monopoly capitalism for anything approaching the right reasons, there are ten who deplore the capitalism part of it more than the monopoly.
I only stopped quoting out of copyright concerns. The next paragraph is harder hitting. Ah, hell...:
It is simply a fact that capitalism, even hampered by the state, has dragged most of the world out of the pitiful poverty that characterized all of human existence for millennia. It was industrialization that saved the common worker from the constant tedium of primitive agriculture. It was the commodification of labor that doomed slavery, serfdom, and feudalism. Capitalism is the liberator of women and the benefactor of all children who enjoy time for study and play rather than endure uninterrupted toil on the farm. Capitalism is the great mediator between tribes and nations, which first put aside their weapons and hatreds in the prospect of benefiting from mutual exchange.
Perhaps you're not getting his point:
The socialists of all stripes argue that real socialism has never been tried, and some say we market radicals are stuck with no better a response than to say that real capitalism has never been tried, either. However, unlike "real socialism," which Mises demonstrated was impossible on a large scale, capitalism simply exists wherever it is left unmolested. It is the part of the market that is free.

Regardless of how we define it, in terms of feeding the masses and sustaining society, I will take flawed capitalism over flawed socialism any day. I will take state capitalism, crony capitalism, or corporate capitalism over state socialism, democratic socialism, or national socialism.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hm. Meant to put this on the other blog.

Had another interesting dream - probably about a month and a half ago, actually.

I walked up to this big house - kind of my "dream house" (as opposed to merely a house in this dream): fachwerk, stucco - and went in the door. My father and elder relatives were in the basement, gutting it, presumably in preparation for renovation. I could see most of the basement from the landing inside the door. I was above them. Then I went down the rather treacherous stairway, which went straight ahead from the landing. It was very solid concrete, but the steps were rounded off as if they were very old and worn. They'd had risers and runners over the top of them, but the men had removed them. There was a landing about six or eight feet down where the steps turned left, but there was a ladder there which I took the rest of the way down. The wall, floor and stairs were a dingy grayish-bluish-green.

I walked over to my dad and grandpa (his dad) to find out what was going on. Grandpa seemed to be directing everyone and he seemed pretty cheerful. (Not his normal demeanor.) Uncles and cousins and others I didn't know were moving objects around and carrying tools, but I really couldn't tell what everybody was doing. There were a bunch of guys doing something in an alcove to the right. Grandpa didn't give any directions to me, but he seemed pretty pleased that I was there.

I went over to see if I could help Dad, who was all business, when suddenly he took off for the stairs. He ran up the stairs as fast as it was possible to go, pulling off and throwing his clothes willy nilly. I followed as quickly as I felt was safe, collecting his clothes as I went. Dad got to the top of the steps and sat on a toilet in a bathroom there that I hadn't noticed before. I tried to hand him his clothes, but he didn't take them.

There's more, but I'm out of time for now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hey, it's August! All right?

The Europeans are all on vacation... I'm thinkin', "Hey! Me too!"

No, not really. I kinda wanted to leave that post about Dan on top for a while. I was on vacation last week, but I used the time catching up on my reading - two Jung books and a fantasy novel - and yard work. Started to clean the house, but then we went up to the Lake.

I towed the girls across the bay and back. They were on inner tubes. I was swimming. Took me an hour. Sunburned the crap out of my head. (Go ahead - take the opening.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

I am poorer now, by one friend

Dan Leroy died this morning.

I don't have all the facts yet. I'll find out more after work.

He was the best story-teller I've known.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Gotta check out this film and this guy's links later

I do.

Link.

Running stuff.

Edit (much later - time for bed, in fact): I watched it, favorited it on Youtube and posted the link on Facebook. [Wait. Will that embed it here? Oh, no it won't. Good. You know, on the old preview page, you could click the links to see if they worked.]

For two and a half minutes of this video, you get to watch all these young, good-lookin' people. Then there's big, fat, old Al. I dragged that lard-a** for 31 miles over some of the gawd-awfulest [two l's? ...Naw.] hills known to man. It won't surprise you that each circuit took me a half-hour longer to complete than it's predecessor. The first took 1:52. [Error Alert!! That was what the gal linked in the post below did. I was there at 1:58.] You're welcome to do the addition after that. It comes out pretty close.

I only face-planted once (landed in sand, so no big), tripped on a few roots (but caught myself) and had my feet slip out from under me in the big ditch-y thing coming down the final slope before finishing. That fall didn't hurt... but getting up again did.

Going down hills like that? Every bit as tough as going up them. I mean, unless you're actually suicidal.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Ran the Afton 50K Trail Run today.

OMG, that was a b****! Road running is inadequate preparation for trail running. I may say more later about it, but I'm still effin' shot from it.

They've got the preliminary results here. I'm at the bottom of the second page.

I prefer to think that I was 98th out of the 169 who entered, rather than the 99 who finished.

Oh, actually I was 96th out of 97 finishers.

Awesome description of the race here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

L. Neil Smith:

What would a real libertarian tell those who've counted on Social Security and Medicare being there when they get old? What I've always told them: it's a hard, cruel world, but when you've allowed yourself to be conned out of your life's savings, your more intelligent, less gullible neighbors—not to mention your own grandchildren—have no obligation of any kind to make you whole again. Not out of their own pockets. Not through the sticky-fingered middleman of government bailouts.
The Libertarian Enterprise.

El Neil also makes this interesting historical point, about the three just wars America has fought, in his online book Down With Power:
America had no choice about the Mexican War, which was declared by Mexico against the United States because it had annexed Texas—the independence of which politicians in Mexico insanely refused to recognize despite their defeat by Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto and the utter humiliation of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Mexico deserved what she got, her whimperings to the contrary, notwithstanding.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

James Pyrich has a post on why Wikileaks is "meh."

Link
Wikileaks may help some people shake off the shrouds of indoctrination, which is great for them… but real change does not start there.

Real change starts when you make changes to your actions in your personal life. Going to therapy, getting good relationships, working to know yourself, acting with courage, being honest with yourself, acting in ways that evoke self-pride… these are the things that matter.
And, as he says (my paraphrase), much harder than opining about matters three degrees removed from your own, real life. This is the real call-to-action.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sita Sings the Blues is a great movie

by Nina Paley. Watch it here.

It's the story of Rama's wife Sita and the difficulties of their marriage. Nina Paley, if you weren't aware of her, is otherwise famous for Copying is not Theft.

There are four levels of animation in the movie, which are used as themes for different story lines ...and such. The levels run from crude to incredibly stunning.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I spoke too soon.

Some hellacious tornadoes hit the midwest Sunday. Joplin was just destroyed. I like that town. We go through there at least once a year on the way to Mom's. My co-worker's in-laws live real close to there, too.

I hate to say it, but it was hard to take it seriously until tonight when I jogged through some of the damage from the one that went through North Minneapolis. A lot of big trees were down - thrown every which way. I had to climb over several. I guess it kind of hit me Monday morning, too, when I had to detour around a big tree that was down across the street on my normal route to work. A tall house lost its shingles. I don't know if the damage is worse than that or not, they had a big tarp over it.

I was running in the park along the river, skirting the edge of the residential area, so I didn't see anything but downed trees. Lots and lots of them. I also noticed the Mississippi is way up tonight. It was high before. Now it's higher. More flooding headed downriver.

We were at my younger daughter's dance recital during the storm. They announced that the tornado sirens were going off and that a tornado had touched down in Fridley, but they told us that the auditorium was the storm shelter at the school, so they'd just go ahead and put on their show. When we came out, it was clear and sunny. You couldn't tell anything had happened.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oh, S**t! The World Ended in a Horrible Cataclysm Today!!

And I missed it!

I meant to ask my brother-in-law about that, but I forgot. It's for the best, I suppose. It'd be pretty hard to bring that up without coming off as gratuitously insulting.

Well, I did 24 miles today.

It took me four hours and forty-nine minutes, but I got it done. I consider that not too bad for a training run. Keep in mind that I'm training for a 50K. It kinda sucks that I'll have to throw away Grandma's Marathon as a training run, but it looks like I may be able to do that in around five hours, so it's not a complete loss. Who knows? Maybe there's something about that course that'll bring out a little more from me.

My sister's coming through town today. We're meeting them for dinner at Old Country Buffet in Roseville. They live in Germany, but they have a house in Superior that I've never seen. And they're headed back to Germany next Saturday, so I don't guess I'll get to see it any time soon.

Have I mentioned that they're missionaries for the Assemblies of God?

Well, I the word is that the sweats I'm wearing right now aren't going to cut it for dinner, even at OCB, so I've gotta go change.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Welp, I did 7:38.6 in the TC 1 Mile last night.

Legs had no problem, but my lungs didn't want to go any faster. I'm not at all sure now why I didn't kick harder at the end. Once again, I left some juice on the table. [Mixed metaphor, really, but it kinda works.]

Friday, May 06, 2011

Spring is here (finally)!

I have proof!



Notice the feet!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My friend Claire told me that [i]Calumet K[/i]

is available as a free audio book! It's a great story about a guy building a grain elevator back in the 1890s.

LibriVox recording of Calumet "K", by Samuel Merwin and Henry Kitchell Webster. Read by Betsie Bush.

"A novel, with several elements of rather unusual interest. As a tale, it is swift, simple, and absorbing, and one does not willingly put it down until it is finished. It has to do with grain-elevator business, with railways, strikes, and commercial and financial matters generally, woven skilfully into a human story of love." --The Commercial Advertiser"
'Calumet "K"' is a novel that is exciting and absorbing, but not the least bit sensational. It is the story of a rush.... The book is an unusually good story; one that shows the inner workings of the labor union, and portrays men who are the bone and sinew of the earth."--The Toledo Blade.

"The heroine in this case is the hero's stenographer; but the action of the story grows out of the attempt of rival capitalists and grain men to balk the building of a grain elevator by a set date." --The Burlington Free Press

(Excerpts from the advertising material at the end of "The Merry Anne" by Samuel Merwin)



Note: This book contains racial comments that may be offensive to modern listeners.

For more free audio books or to become a volunteer reader, visit LibriVox.org.

M4B audiobook of Complete Book

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hey! Just got my copy of The Austrian School of Economics

The Austrian School of Economics

I'm just looking it over. Here's a nice quote from the preface:
Based on the assumption that the individual was the decisive economic agent, and thus centering its research on individual preferences and on the intersubjective balancing of these preferences in the context of markets, the Austrian school has consistently pointed to the fact that institutions such as money, states [?, ed.], and markets had emerged without any planning, without any central purpose, and without force [in the case of states, maybe kinda sorta]. They had emerged on the basis of human interaction alone, and in a manner that was therefore natural, befitting both humans, and human logic. This basic insight counters all political and economic ideologies that view such institutions as working arenas for the establishment or development of authoritarian activity aimed at influencing or even controlling the direction of individual preferences or their intersubjective balance.

This meant that during the interwar period in Austria, the Austrian School was attacked, sometimes fiercely, by political parties of both the left and the right. the Austrian school not only denied the legitimacy, but also the efficacy of many economic policies. furthermore, the school had always identified itself with a universal science in which there was no room for national, religious, or class-oriented constrictions. In ways it even represented a kind of alternate world to many of the country's idiosyncrasies: it focused exclusively on the individual and asserted that individual action on the basis of subjective preferences was the starting point of r research; it was based on a realistic image of humanity that was not suited for inconceivable flights of idealistic fantasy and therefore not amenable to cheap political exploitation; it was free of magniloquent utopias, upheld the principles of self-determination and non-violence, and was united in its fundamental criticism of any monopolistic and forceful intervention of the state. In addition, it emanated a highly scholarly ethos which made possible the emergence of an uncommonly cosmopolitan and tolerant discourse.
Hah! Only five typoes. Considering the complexity of some of those terms, I'm proud. Oh yeah, the bracketed comments are mine (I'm sure that was obvious).

To elaborate on that point... I mean, maybe the original groups who first decided to conquer and enslave their neighbors found themselves together in one place without planning or force, but they didn't accomplish their conquest without force. Although I'll have to consider whether a hierarchic society can arise without that special case of force we call fraud.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Funniness

You may have to hang out in some odd corners to get this guy's bit, but I think anyone can understand this one.

Hey! Atlas Shrugged opens Friday!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication

is an important contribution to the development of interpersonal and world peace.

The Wikipedia article on him looks like a good place to start studying him and his works. And here's the article on Nonviolent Communication.

Monday, March 28, 2011

But back to Naomi Aldort

I thought I'd quote a bit from the intro to Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves:
When you have the courage to stop defending the way you are, or the way your parents raised you, you can open up to the possibility that you are much greater and more magnificent and capable than you thought you were.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dallas SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) group

has a helpful page - they call it a toolbox.  Here's one that I use a lot myself:
Fear — use it if you get it. Don’t live in fear, but use it. The same goes for horror, shame, regret or any other negative thoughts or feelings that may come when you think about your drinking days. Don’t stifle or deny these states of mind. Use them as tools to reinforce yourself, not stumbling blocks.
Maybe I should add the link to the page where I found this; there are a ton of other useful links there.

I haven't mentioned lately that I'd like to get together with like-minded ex-drunks (perhaps I should put that in quotes - it's an ongoing struggle) for a stroll through one of our local parks here in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. Or Minneapolis, itself, of course - wonderful parks there, too.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I really like Naomi Aldort

I'll link her own webpage - the articles page - but her videos on YouTube are great stuff too.

Progressive Parenting: get with it.  (Don't confuse true progress with that proto-Nazi crap Presidents Wilson and both Roosevelts were pushing.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's quite likely your parents raised you wrong.

Mourn.

If that's the case, you're probably raising (or already did raise) your kids wrong.

Apologize and make amends.

Here's how.  To do the latter, not the former.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I was looking at my photo albums of my German trips

Back in the early '80s and I came across some pics of myself that kind of blew me away.

I guess I always thought I always had the gut I have now.  I mean, yeah, it was bigger a couple times - and pretty huge when I was guzzling gallons of beer daily - but I saw it as pretty big even back before I graduated high school.



I find these pics rather inspirational!  I believe I'll go exercise more.

Well, not right now.  It's damn near 1:30 AM.  It took me this long to figure out where the h my scanner hid the pictures. 

By the way, even though it's been almost 30 years to the minute since I've seen the G-- family, I still remember their names.  That's Roland behind me, Frau G-- (I'm afraid that's as much of her name as I ever got), Birgit (yes, that's spelled right), and Herr (Joseph) G--.  If they give me permission, I'll put their whole last name here.  Interestingly, their name translates to almost the same thing as the town they lived in.

I enjoyed my stay with them immensely, and I learned a lot of German from them.  Heck!  They took me to Austria and Switzerland, with a heck of a long side-trip to Luxemburg!  And the Bodensee (Lake Constance) from Lindau to Meersburg!  Each of those was a daytrip.

Roland took a trip to Canada and the US the next year (1982) and stayed with us one night.  And I missed him on my second trip to Stuttgart, because I butchered the plans to meet.  I had arranged - well, I agitated for it anyway - the group tour of the Mercedes-Benz factory, because I wanted to tell my Dad all about it, so I didn't feel I could skip it.  But I was hoping to get away in time to catch Roland. 

But it was a big factory.  Whenever the guide said, "Now let's go see the blah, blah, blah..." my heart just sank with dismay.  I was the only one who cared and all I could think about was getting back to the D--s place to catch Roland.

The D--s, now...  Let's just say that that was about nail number 297 in the coffin of that relationship.  Not the final one, but one of them.  I pounded the last one home myself.  But that's a shameful story that won't ever be written down anywhere.

And I don't remember having any big conversation about the Mercedes factory with Dad either.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I just got the VLC Media Player

Seems pretty cool.  It's nice to be able to speed up Youtube videos.

It's free.  Here's their website: http://gofree.com/download/Video/Media-Players/vlcmediaplayer.php?gclid=CI_o_r3QzKcCFZFoKgodU27dFQ

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Out of the nest the chick must fly

The nest fits him not for eternity.

-Rhyme R Us.

It's likely that this couplet has been written before, but I claim to have come up with it independently. I like the double meanings in the archaic form.

I said this to my daughter this morning. She took her gloved hand off the doorknob and, rather flatly, asked, "What does that mean?"

"What do you think it means?"

"Uh...Leaving the house?"

That's what I get for offering my pearls in such a concrete situation.

Here's a fun quote

from Reimarus,
"Contradiction is a devil and father of
lies, who refuses to be driven out either by fasting
and prayer, or by miracles."
Pg. 76. It's a quick read. I've gotten this far since 9:00. About half the book.

You might want to look to the WikiPedia article to find out who Reimarus was.

Guess I'd better go to bed now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My run yesterday reminded me a bit too much of Jack London's short story

To Build a Fire.

It was 1°F and snowing lightly when I headed out at 11:15 AM. Not windy at all. It was supposed to warm up into the teens sometime, so I expected to benefit from that before I was done, so I didn't bother with the balaclava or the strip of polar fleece I tie around my face to protect my nose and cheeks. And I didn't wear the safety vest, because it was daylight.

Everything went along just dandy for four miles, then the wind picked up. I managed another two miles into that before I gave it up as a bad job and headed back home. The plan was to run another three into that wind, but my beard and mustache were iced up - I mean solid - like a half inch thick - and my energy drinks were already turning to slush, so they'd be worthless, excess weight if I didn't head straight back right then.

When I got back to Thirty Sixth Avenue, about three miles from my house, I decided to walk for a bit and finish off my first slushee. The wind quickly bit through the layers wet clothing - the outer layer was wet with snow melt (even though I looked like a walking snowman) and the inner three layers were wet with sweat). At the verge of shivering I had to start running again.

Like Jack Frost's sled dog, I had to keep up a good pace all the way home, or feel the bite of the lash. Running over the railroad bridge at two miles was a bitch, because I was completely exposed to the wind. I tried walking again at a mile, but I got chilled even quicker that time.

Oh, I should mention that the first time I started walking, besides to drink, it was because the restriction of my vision caused by my hood pulling my hat brim down, a slight fogging of my glasses and the fact that the whole world was white caused me to miss the fact that the sidewalk dipped down suddenly to the street and I had a rather jarring landing that caused my hip to hurt.

Another post-mortem thought - a lesson I need to take - is that I really didn't power-up enough for the run. I only had one medium-large bowl of cereal to eat for breakfast. Even though I run slow, with the low temperature, I was probably burning more that 100 Kcal/mile.

I wish someone had snapped a picture of me when I got in the door. I got that wet crap off me as quick as I could and jumped in the shower. I still had ice chunks to pick out of my beard as the water was heating up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I went to grade school with this guy!

He won't be at the reunion, though.



He's different now, though. I guess being reincarnated as an orange has mellowed him out and made him funnier.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oh my god! The 30th reunion is coming up!

The guys organizing it sent out a list of everybody so they can update their info. Looking at all the names of all the girls I had crushes on, but was too shy to do anything about...

Going down that list, I had the hots for darn near all them at one point or other.

One of them lives quite close here, it appears. Actually too close to make her place a destination for a long run. Wait, that's right - I've got to run home again, too. Well, I've got one scheduled for that distance in late May. Not that she'd want to have a chat - let alone an illicit rendezvous - with a tired, sweaty, bald guy. There're undoubtedly people who make that kind of thing work, but I've never figured it out.

I don't know if my problem was shyness, as much as it was that I couldn't figure out how to narrow my choices. The moment I figured that out, I ended up married.

Huh.

Yeah, there were guys back in high school, too. Didn't think about 'em much. Spent all my time with them, but that was just a given. They didn't require thought.

Frickin' hilarious how terrified I used to be of maybe discovering that I was actually gay. That lurking terror... I'd like to find out how to get that out of young boys' minds. It's the source of so many tragedies.

Anyway... I don't think I can be of much help to the reunion committee. I've lost touch with everybody. I can't even keep track of a GDSOB phone number for 12 hours. I won't go into that except to say, when I had the phone in my hand and couldn't find the number, I had to wonder what my unconscious was trying to say. At the least it was saying, "Wait a bit." I won't entertain other possibilities here.

Then there're those with "deceased" after their names. There were two of those whom I didn't know at all. The rest were friends of mine, or people I liked and wanted to know better. I hope we don't learn that there are more than we know about now. It doesn't look like the list has grown much since the twenty year reunion.

Maybe it's just me, but I have the impression that the SSHS Class of '81 liked each other more than the average group of 400-some kids. I might have been one of the harder ones to get along with myself. I remember having some extraordinary mood swings.

I'm having a flashback to one explosion that's making me sick to my stomach. I think my whole life since has been dedicated to making sure that doesn't happen again. Mostly unconsciously, thwarting my efforts to achieve anything great.

I gotta go burn up this adrenalin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

You're wrong, Kenny

A little song can change the world. Though, I can't think of one of yours that would have.

Look at what Sara Bareilles did.

I want everyone armed with King of Anything. How long has it been out, and what's been going on in the world during that time?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

This has meaning to someone today.


No, just one simple meaning.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I've signed up for a couple races.

Grandma's Marathon in Duluth on June 18th and the Afton 50K Trail Run on July 2nd. Grandma's will actually function as a training run for the latter.

Just so you know, a Marathon is about 42K; a 50K is an ultramarathon. I mean, sure, the big boys in ultramarathoning consider it a weenie race, but I kind of think it's a big deal. You should see the altitude profile of this thing: up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down... And that's just the 25K course! We get to start all over again! And it's a trail run, so it's all grass and dirt. Some of those things have you jumping over logs, scrambling over rocks and wading rivers. I don't think this one is like that, but I don't know. I'm going to have to do some training runs over there and scout the place out.

I also fully intend to run the Twin Cities Marathon again this year. I believe I'll be presenting a different image come the Holidays.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I've started running again.

Yes, in the middle of the godawful cold of the coldest weeks of a godawfully cold winter. Ya bundle up. And don't try to set any records.

I've been running about every other day, averaging about four miles per run, since the 14th. Actually the every other day thing bounced me over the 24-below day, so I didn't have to decide whether to skip a run or not that day. The two 'abouts' a couple sentences ago I feel the need to explain: the first one is because I've actually run more than that - I ran back-to-back days twice, and the second one is because the route I've run most is 4.22 miles, according to MapMyRun. I did 2 shorter routes (3.05 and 3.88) and one slightly longer (4.29).

The longest route is the nicest, it goes the long way through a long park along Shingle Creek, but, when the temp's below 15 and there's any kind of wind, you don't want to go that way. There's no view when you've got your hood pulled tight around your face and your hat brim is blocking out everything beyond ten feet in front of you.

The passion's back, though. I was getting the urge to go out again late this afternoon. I suppressed it by sitting down to watch the Packer game. They held on to beat the Bears for the NFC Championship. They're going to the Superbowl!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Three paragraphs from Alice Miller

From her book Banished Knowledge. This comes from chapter 2, "Innocence of the Parents," page 34 of the paperback, after a quote from a book by Phil Donahue, in which he is his usual, "even-handed," "moderate" self:
Although Donahue's discussion ostensibly proceeds from the question of which parental behavior might exert a traumatizing and lasting effect on the child, and although it would appear to give priority to concerns for the child, the second paragraph shows that basically it is concerned only with liberating parents from justified guilt feelings. They are assured that their actions pose no danger: The child will suffer no harm if he knows that he is being tormented out of "love" and "for his own good." This kind of reassurance that relies on untruths is based on the statements of "experts" quoted here and, I need hardly say, corresponds to the wishes of all parents who are not prepared to question their own behavior.

But might not there be a different way, other than reassurances? Might not one explain to the parents, in all honesty and frankness, why they traumatize their children? Not all of them would stop tormenting their children, but some would. We can be certain, however, that they would not stop if they were told, as were their own parents thirty years earlier, that one slap more or less does no harm, provided they love the child. Although this phrase contains a contradiction, it can continue to be handed down because we are used to it. Love and cruelty are mutually exclusive. No one ever slaps a child out of love but rather because in similar situations, when one was defenseless, one was slapped and then compelled to interpret it as a sign of love. This inner confusion prevailed for thirty or forty years and is passed on to one's own child. That's all. To purvey this confusion to the child as truth leads to new confusions that, although examined in detail by experts, are still confusions. If, on the other hand, one can admit one's errors to the child and apologize for a lack of self-control, no confusions are created.

If a mother can make it clear to a child that at that particular moment when she slapped him her love for him deserted her and she was dominated by other feelings that had nothing to do with the child, the child can keep a clear head, feel respected, and not be disoriented in his relationship to his mother. While it is true that love for a child cannot be commanded, each of us is free to decide to refrain from hypocrisy. I don't know whether hypocrisy exists in the animal world; at least I have never heard of a young animal growing up with the idea that it has to be tormented almost to death so that one day it may become a "decent and disciplined animal." Kagan's well-meant but naive trust in the ability of the "human animal" to survive a traumatic childhood unscathed ignores completely the potent, destructive, and disastrous nature of the traumas inflicted on the child. Many comparisons between human and animal aggression also ignore the fact that, in light of humans' destructive atomic power and readiness to destroy (as documented by Hitler and Stalin), all the bared animal teeth in the world are bound to appear downright innocuous. Is it possible that Harvard professors don't know this? Absolutely. If they derived their trust in the harmless nature of childhood traumas from the convictions of the grandmothers, they will learn nothing from facts because this trust clearly remains unshaken throughout their lives. But in view of the great confusions they are causing, in view of the dangerous hypocrisy they support, this trust is anything but harmless, since it is precisely the consequences of those universally ignored childhood traumas that threaten the world today.
This is the conclusion of the chapter.  The preceding pages support the conclusion.  Her discussion of Hitler and Stalin is in her book, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence.  She produces much more evidence for her conclusions, including her own experiences, patient cases as a psycho-therapist and other studies.

I don't think that bringing up Hitler and Stalin is hyperbole.  That they existed in the real world, and similar people and their admirers exist now, is evidence that the problem she is fighting is not an imaginary one.  They are simply the most widely known and acknowledged exemplars of evil.  Miller's theory explains how they could do what they did and why people cooperated with them.  And how we can keep from repeating that history. Other theories do a suck-@$$ job of that.

And, when I say "we", I mean you and me; right here, right now.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Intro to Internal Family Systems Therapy



And make sure you see his video on grief.

Edit: I'm going to give a quick summary of IFS, for those who can't or won't watch the video: don't just accept every notion that pops into your head as the be-all and end-all of wisdom. Question them carefully to see if they coincide with what you really want to do (or say or think).

That inner critic is often the internalized voice of some know-it-all busy-body whom you'd tell to pound sand if they were a real person outside your head. Sadly, it doesn't work to do that to inner voices: you have to find out what they're trying to accomplish and make deals with them.

That's a very quick summary; if that's all you learn about it, you'll likely misunderstand it and/or take off on a bizarre tangent. I'm hoping you'll look more deeply into it.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Amazon Boobs, Ancient Gods and the End of Evil

Test blog 1: Top 5 Political Videos 2010

Test blog 1: Top 5 Political Videos 2010

This is Sheldon Richman's article

I'm putting it here because it's important enough that it needs to be available even to my readers who can't download Adobe Acrobat or don't want to take the time to read through back issues of FEE's magazine, The Freeman.

Oh, actually, here it is in plain text. Well, I'm still going to take the chance that somebody won't like me having the full text here.
Full Context
Peripatetics
BY SHELDON RICHMAN

In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith famously
wrote, “People of the same trade seldom meet
together, even for merriment and diversion, but the
conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick, or
in some contrivance to raise prices.” It may seem strange
that history’s best-known advocate of the free market
would cast such aspersions on business people. But there
is nothing strange about it. A defense of the market, and
of voluntarism in general, should never be mistaken for
a defense of particular business interests.

Opponents of the free market love that quote from
Smith. For obvious reasons they rarely add the sentences
that follow: “It is impossible indeed to prevent such
meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or
would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though
the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from
sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to
facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary”
(book I, chapter X, part II, paragraph 27; emphasis
added).

As Smith well knew, government often facilitates
such assemblies. Effective “conspiracy[ies] against the
publick” would be impossible without state support.
Absent political privilege,“contrivance[s] to raise prices”
would crumble under the pressure of free competition.
It takes a state to make a tariff, a price support, or a punitive
tax or regulation on one’s competitors.

Smith’s book was a brief against mercantilism, the
nationalistic system of business privilege. But we sometimes
forget that the economic system that succeeded
mercantilism was not free of all mercantilist features.
Especially in the second half of the nineteenth century
and at the hands of the Republican Party, mercantilism
(in the form of Henry Clay’s old American System) had
wide influence at the national level. (The states had their
own modest versions earlier in the century.) Its program
consisted of protective tariffs, taxpayer-financed infrastructure
projects (“internal improvements”), regulation
of private infrastructure, a national bank for credit
manipulation, and other forms of government intervention
intended to guide society’s development and in the
process benefit the well-connected business class.A good
deal of land was also parceled out to politically favored
interests, such as most of the major railroads. Dominant
business figures did not oppose this program; on the
contrary, they championed it because they stood to gain
from the above-market prices, lucrative government
contracts, and burdens on smaller competitors.

Later, the Progressive Era “reforms” were not only
supported, but were often proposed, by big business.
Meat inspection, railroad regulation, drug-safety monitoring,
and policing of competition were activities
favored by the major players in the relevant industries. It
is not widely appreciated how much big-business support
the New Deal had (or how the New Deal actually
began under Hoover). The industry codes enforced by
the National Recovery Administration were a godsend
to businessmen who for years had striven, unsuccessfully,
to create stable cartels to assure long-run profits.Government
economic planning during World War I had
given many businessmen (and bureaucrats) a taste of
what it was like to run an economy. They liked it
enough to return to Washington during Franklin Roosevelt’s
tenure in the White House.

What today is called rent-seeking, exploiting others
through political means,was as common in earlier times
as it is now. It was a rare business proprietor who favored
laissez faire.Why risk your money in the unpredictable
marketplace when you could have stable prices and
profits with government intervention? Even an income
tax might be a small price to pay for that safety. Most
business people were uninterested in moral philosophy,
economic theory, and ideology. The shortest route
between them and a nice return on investment usually
went through the statehouse or the Capitol.

No knowledgeable champion of free markets will be
surprised by any of this. The problem is that we too
often forget it in the heat of current controversies. By
dropping the historical context we weaken our case and
sound like defenders of the corporate state, the opposite
of laissez faire.

This has been pointed out before.Kevin Carson,who
calls himself a “free market anti-capitalist,” writes in
Studies in Mutualist Political Economy that many libertarians
“use the term ‘free market’ in an equivocal sense:
they seem to have trouble remembering, from one
moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually
existing capitalism or free market principles.”
For example, several months ago opportunistic members
of Congress proposed a windfall-profits tax on the
oil companies because gasoline prices had jumped during
the hurricane season and profits had risen dramatically.
In arguing against the tax, many libertarians (and
conservatives) explained why in a free market, prices and
profits would rise under the current circumstances.Thus
higher prices and profits warranted no government
intervention.

Fine. The economic theory and conclusion were
impeccable. But something was missing, and this gap
gave credibility to the free market’s adversaries. What
was missing? An acknowledgment of the contemporary
effects of the long period of pro-business interventionism,
what Carson calls “the subsidy of history.” For many
years oil companies have benefited from a system of federal
and state favoritism. Much U.S. foreign policy has
the effect of forcing the taxpayers to pick up the huge
tab for stabilizing the companies’ sources of crude oil.
All of this has distorted investment, prices, and, therefore,
consumer behavior, and it’s hard to know what the
oil industry—or indeed the entire economy—would
look like without the distortion. The rippling effects
have been pervasive and substantial.

In sum, the companies are not creations of the free
market. And if we defend them as though they are, we
will sound naïve at best and like apologists for the corporate
state at worst.That diminishes our efforts to win
the public to our position. Let us never be guilty of supporting,
even implicitly, the socialization of costs, for there
is no surer way to undercut the case for the privatization
of profits.

Labor Legislation

Another example: Free-market advocates frequently
criticize unions and their supporting laws. Any
government intervention deserves to be criticized, but
once again the context is often dropped. The context
includes the fact that the business elite historically supported
labor laws, even if in the end they objected to the
precise form of the National Labor Relations Act and
other enactments. Business-backed social-reform organizations,
such as the National Civic Federation and the
American Association for Labor Legislation, long had
proposed labor laws in the belief that they were the path
to labor peace and the end of wildcat strikes.
“Respectable” union leaders would be brought to the
corporate-state table as responsible junior partners who
would discipline their unruly elements. Moreover,
industrywide collective bargaining would have a
cartelizing effect on American industry, reducing the
“cutthroat competition” that was so unsettling and that
worked to the advantage of upstart rivals.

While we should hit at government intervention in
the labor market, as everywhere else, we must hold the
context and never fail to point out that such intervention
was integral to the system enacted largely at the
behest of the dominant business interests. It is reasonable
to believe that workers would have more bargaining
power if all corporate privilege were abolished and
competition were truly unfettered. If talk of the corporate
state and exploitation sounds left-wing, it’s only
because laissez fairists seldom talk about those things.
But we should.They are our issues.

Context-holding is not just of academic interest; it
has strategic implications. If we keep in mind that the
current threat to liberty is the centrist corporate state,
we will see that a top priority is the repeal of all corporate
subsidies, even the most subtle kinds.

25 APRIL 2006

F u l l C o n t e x t

Hey, I'm back.

Went to Mom's for Christmas. Actually, we mostly stayed at my sister's new house. Quite a lovely place. Forgot the camera, so no pictures.

All happy, cozy stuff. Didn't fight about anything, though I did have a medium-length conversation with my mother about my acceptance of the lack of evidence for gods. I don't know which of us was responsible for redirecting the conversation onto how the theory of evolution doesn't contradict the Bible, but the fact that we ended up there could be considered a misdirection ploy on my part.

By the way, we agree on that. That's not why the Bible is wrong. It's wrong because it asserts, without proof, that gods and supernatural beings exist. It's true that people who believed in such things existed and left artifacts, but there's no archeological evidence of anything miraculous.