Monday, February 29, 2016

PolitiFraud


We need a name for the so-called "PolitiFact."  PolitiFraud?  PolitiCrap?

I'm not a fan of the "Fact Check" sites. They have an air of "being the last word" and of being objective, but in my experience they are just as unreliable as any news source and far from objective.
Here is one of many examples about Ted Cruz where it's claimed that he said something false. Give it a quick read.  Now note that most statements by Cruz on PolitiFraud are rendered "false."  Could it be that they only focus on some statements and not others?  Could it also be that they are rigging the game with "degrees of truth", whatever that means?

First, in a story about Reagan and Cruz where there is no mention of Clinton, why feel the need to point out that blacks did better under a Democrat? While true--and fair game for politicians to use--that doesn't have the air of objectivity about the particular facts at hand.

Second, while it's fair game to point how how (e.g.) the economy did under a president, that alone tells us nothing about to what extent the policies of the president played a role. Presidents inherit the regulations of predecessors as well as whomever happens to be in Congress, etc. So Cruz is guilty of this fallacy, but then again, so is pretty much every politician I can think of.

Third, when I first looked at their story, what struck me is why they didn't mention why they first said "true." What was it that made them say true in the first place?  They don't say.  That raises a red flag.

I can only speculate since the story has been redacted but here is what I think was the case.
They decided in the second story to use the adjusted income based on inflation in 2014 dollars. (Click on the word "Black" on the chart they provide and you'll see what I'm talking about.)  That seems to me even more misleading. (Why not use the 1988 adjusted income according to inflation? That would tell you how much real earning power was acquired during the 8 years.)

It looks like Cruz is simply using the real time dollars in 1980 and 1988. In 1980 the median income was 10,764; in 1988 it was 16,407 (so actually over $5000 and closer to $6000). If you took the mean income it's an increase of c.$8500 to $10,000 depending if you go with real time or adjusted to 2014 dollars.

So, unless I'm wrong about where the stats are coming from, a more accurate story would have been to clarify why they said true and then note that it depends on whether you are looking at current dollars or dollars adjusted for inflation from 2014.  Again, why use adjusted figures when that's even more misleading?  This appears to be a very underhanded way to say that he was asserting something false.

Related.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

On "Throwing Your Vote Away"

Suppose it comes down to a three man race between Cruz the Conservative, Fabio, and Donald Chump. Trump is in the lead and Rubio is sizably ahead in second place.  You are a Cruz supporter, inclined to stick to your guns.  Would you be throwing your vote away if you voted for Cruz?

Of course not.  Your vote is already destined not to change the course of the campaign.  As far as deciding the course of history, your vote is worthless. 

"But if you don't vote for Rubio, Rubio won't be elected and Trump will.  The horror!  You'll be throwing your vote away!"

But if YOU don't vote Cruz, Cruz won't win either.  In general, if not enough vote for candidate x, candidate x won't win.  Why aren't you--the Rubio supporter--throwing your vote away?  If you (y'all) vote for Cruz, Cruz would win!

I never got into philosophy to be liked or to be popular.  Whoever gets into philosophy to be on the winning team never gets into philosophy.  Philosophy is a failure.  Philosophy chooses first place or no place at all; and sometimes it is said that the first shall be last.  But there is no fear in failing when one fails with honor.  Socrates chooses to be an Olympic hero and failing that, death. 

You can be a sheep.  Sheep are stronger in number.  The world needs sheep.  Democracies need sheep.  But the world also needs shepherds.  And sometimes it even needs a few more wolves.




Friday, February 26, 2016

Change of Plans

I changed my mind!  I'm voting for Trump!


Why I Vote and Why I'm Voting for Cruz

I favor Cruz because I think the best political philosophy is conservatism and Cruz is the only principled conservative.  I won't defend that here, but the evidence is overwhelming for this latter claim.  Rubio is Busch-Lite and I never voted for Bush. Not even in the general election.  I wrote in another candidate or voted Libertarian.  (I would never vote for a Libertarian in a local election; but I would vote for a Libertarian for president because he would do what a president should: not much.)

Why did I not vote for Bush?  Or Romney?  Or McCain?  Why would I, unlike the Maverick, not vote for Trump?  Why not vote for the lesser of two evils?

For starters, my vote is worthless.  So is yours.  This is especially true the more voters there are in an election.  If I don't vote in this election, Arkansas will still give out the delegates as it would have were I to have voted.  It is true that if no one voted, no delegates would be given.  But it is also true that if everyone voted for Cruz, he would get all of the delegates.

So why do I vote?  Do I have a duty to vote?  Certainly not a strict duty.  If I have a duty to vote it is perhaps an imperfect duty--a duty to vote some of the time.  I violate no moral law by not voting in a given election (though perhaps if it is a local election I sometimes do).

I vote because I am a conservative and it is a good tradition to vote.  It is one of the things I do and my people do, and it is a conservative principle to genuflect to tradition unless reason shows otherwise.  It is one of the few activities where citizens get together and stand in line generally calmly and respectfully, knowing full well that there are others in line who disagree with you vehemently on important matters.  It is a collective activity of good citizenship where we symbolically express the common value we share in support of democracy; it is a supererogatory good (at least if one is well informed and acting out of good motives).

In addition, there is little by way of economic (financial, time, etc.) cost.  But it is certainly not a strict duty.  There are far more important ways that one can be a good citizen than by voting (e.g. by being law abiding, giving to charity, raising a family of children who will be good citizens, educating yourself and others, etc.)

But why vote for Cruz in the Republican primary even when head-to-head polls show that Rubio fairs better?  (Head-to-head Rubio beats Hillary in the popular vote and Cruz is in a statistical dead heat). And why not vote for the lesser of two evils in the general?  Why not vote for Trump if it comes to it?

Since my vote is worthless as far as the outcome is concerned, I vote based on ideology.  My vote has some symbolic value.  It expresses who I think is the candidate with the best principles.  I am also able to say honestly that I was not a (e.g.) Bush supporter ever when I criticize his policies or when Republicans are attacked due to mistakes made by its figurehead.  This is polemically advantageous, more advantageous, I think, than being able to criticize Bush as a current or former supporter.

Finally, there is pragmatic value if it were to turn out that my vote determined the outcome in a possible world far, far away.  "Dubya" gave us eight years of Obama.  His father gave us eight years of Bill Clinton.  Reagan at least only gave us four years of Bush Sr.  I fear what Trump would give us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Race Will Always Be an Issue

For every white racist there are at least three whites who see having a (e.g.) black friend as a mark of elite status and a rite of passage to the inner circle.

Morgan Freeman gets it right; but he's fighting a losing battle. 





Sunday, February 21, 2016

Humor: Brothers, Girlfriends, and Romantics

My 7-yr-old son (Samuel) was teasing my 5-yr-old son (Jonathan) about someone being Jonathan's "girlfriend."

My wife intervened and said "Jonathan, ignore him, you are SO sweet, any girl would be lucky to have you."

Samuel: "Hey, what about me? I cry at movies!"

Racist Structures and Systemic Racism

Notice the black and white parts conspicuous by their absence

The left talks a lot about systemic racism, racist structures, institutionalized racism, systems of white supremacy, and the like.  Why is that and what is a racist structure?

As far as why the left tends to talk about racist structures, there are many reasons, but here are a few:

1. They are wittingly or not influenced by Marx.
2. They tend to see the world in terms of victim and oppressor.  Victims are in no way responsible for their condition.  The explanation is fully in terms of the oppressor and in particular in terms of an oppressive system.
3. The left tends to be skittish about moral and spiritual conditions and solutions, favoring instead the political.  This is in part due to a tendency to deny agency, free will, and moral responsibility.
4. As such they tend to focus (again, due to downstream influence by Marx) on material wealth and well-being.  Thus systems such as capitalism tend to be seen as root causes or explanations today rather than moral ones (racist beliefs and attitudes).

What then is a racial structure or system?  This is a metaphysical question and, as in most cases metaphysical, there will not be an uncontroversial answer. 
But we'll hazard a start.

We might begin by thinking about the structure of a building.  The building itself is a structure--an artifact, a human creation.  Are buildings racist?  Perhaps one built by the Klan to hold Klan meetings, though whether it is racist or not might be contingent on its actual use.  (Is a building built by the Klan but turned into a homeless shelter in a black community still a racist structure?) But buildings don't seem to be the sort of structures that the left has in mind when talking about racist structures.

Rather the structures--the artifacts or creations--seem to be certain systems.  What is a system? Perhaps we might understand a system in terms of a set of rules (perhaps laws) and practices which humans create and engage in.  When a paint crew agrees to divide up how they paint a house, they develop a set of rules (perhaps never explicitly agreed upon) and practices for how best to paint the house ("I'll cut in the corners, you spray and move ladders, etc.") 

What systems are racist systems?  To answer that we'll need to come to grips with what racism is; I intend to do that in short order in another post, but for now we'll just have to work with our intuitions and provide examples that are at least in the neighborhood.  A governmental system can be a racist one if, for example, racists make some of the laws which are intended to treat some racial groups as having less dignity than another without just discrimination as a class and not on a case by case basis.  For instance, so-called "Jim Crow laws" which treated blacks wholesale as inferior would fit this description.  Of course the Civil Rights movement abolished such laws, so to that extent the legal and judicial system today is a less racist one towards blacks.

So if we're going to talk about racist systems we need to have before us concrete examples of different systems, that is, if we're to identify the racist from non-racist ones and provide solutions for eradicating them.  Here the left is often short on specifics.  From an epistemic point of view (beyond identifying what racism is) the matter is purely an empirical one.  The system the paint crew set up in order to paint houses more efficiently--raising their own profit levels while at the same time lowering the cost of home owners employing them is hardly a racist one.  A paint crew that set up a system wherein they charge whites more because they think whites are inferior as whites is a racist one.

Is the educational system racist?  Are public schools run by teachers' unions who pay dues to the (leftwing) NEA, racist?  It would be odd if most teachers and administrators were (let us reasonably suppose) racists and in fact intend that their policies help those of other races. It would be odd because, as I see it, one could not have a racist system if those making the policies and shaping the practices are not and never were racists. (Of course there could be practices or policies in public schools that are holdovers from previous racists in the system; this again is an empirical matter.)  The racism would have to be accidental.  Could there be an accidental racist system? 

The left seems to think so; or at least they act as if there can be racist systems even if those making the rules, policies, and performing the practices are not racists.  (See Eric Holder's infamous prosecution of the Ferguson police department based solely on "disparate impact.") This is because they tend to call a system racist only if the actual outcomes tend to be better for one racial group than another.  But as I see it this is either a conceptual confusion or a willful, semantic distortion.

The system in the NBA is such that blacks fair better within the system than Asians.  The outcome of the system is such that there are more black players playing and making more money than Asians.  But that system as such is not a racist one.  For various and sundry reasons blacks tend to fair better in the system.  Of course, that's not to say that there is no racism in the system; that will depend on how many Donald Sterlings there are and the extent to which their racism bears on the rules, policies, and practices.  The devil is in the details.

Related.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture

A good piece on the destructive force of multiculturalism by Patrick Deneen, Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.  Excerpt:

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

[...]

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).

In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice”), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.

Regardless of major or course of study, the main object of modern education is to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students, to make them perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments. Efforts first to foster appreciation for “multi-culturalism” signaled a dedication to eviscerate any particular cultural inheritance, while the current fad of “diversity” signals thoroughgoing commitment to de-cultured and relentless homogenization.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Obama: Wrong Again

As a Constitutional lawyer, Obama is either lying or once again being mendacious, but the Puffy Host won't call him on it of course.

On NPR yesterday I heard him say more or less what is reported here, that according to the Constitution the Senate "is to consider that nomination and either they disapprove of that nominee or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court" [my emphasis].

Not true at all. There's no such duty, constitutional or otherwise. There's no mention at all in Article II. Section 2 that the Senate is to do this, so the President is wrong on a second count in his "amusement" of strict constructionists:
"I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there," Obama said.
"The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now," Obama, a former constitutional law professor, told a news conference at the close of a two-day meeting with leaders from Southeast Asia.

Implied is that what he is saying is correct even on strict constructionist grounds (rather than on "living breathing" grounds where whatever a living Democrat says that it says or means is true).  Article II. Section 2 is vague other than to say "by and with advice and consent" from the Senate. But no rules are laid down for how this should be done--nothing about giving an up or down vote--and each House can determine its own procedural rules. So the President is wrong--probably lying--and the Senate is within its Constitutional right to (e.g.) filibuster.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On "White Privilege"

Dennis Prager has a good piece here on so-called "White Privilege."  I'll post an excerpt below, but first some commentary. 

What is "white privilege"?  On one way of understanding white privilege, it is white people having more benefits on average than other racial groups.  Of course, as Prager notes, by the standards of what typically counts as a benefit, Asians fair better than whites, so one wonders why the left isn't talking about Asian privilege or white and Asian privilege.  Is it because there are more whites in the United States?  If so, that wouldn't explain why the left talks about the "1%" who are also a minority.  (Prager gives the real reason in the excerpt below).

But this sense of white privilege isn't a very interesting one.  We could just as well talk about "rich privilege," "American privilege," or "healthy privilege."  Moreover, this is not the sense of "white privilege" that people who talk on and on about white privilege need in order to shame white people, stir up white envy or hate for political purposes, or assuage their own "white guilt."

What "white privilege" needs to mean is the unearned benefits one has in virtue of one's own whiteness.  That is, it won't do simply to note the benefits--earned or unearned--of whites which have nothing to do with their being white.  The whiteness needs to enter into the explanation of why they have certain unearned benefits.

So what unearned benefits do whites have in virtue of their whiteness?  Well, this will largely depend on the individual.  Certain whites in backwoods communities might have unearned benefits due to their racist neighbors who think less of blacks qua black.  At the same time, it should be noted that they lack the unearned benefit of growing up in a non-racist community.  It is certainly not a moral advantage to grow up in a racist household and community.  In addition, they lack minority scholarships and privileges of affirmative action; in part by lacking education, they continue to be racists. 

Speaking of my own case, I'm unaware of unearned benefits that I have due to my whiteness, although I certainly can imagine that there have been times when I benefited.  For instance, it's plausible that I was less observed for possible theft while in stores as a youth compared to blacks my age.  Cases like this can perhaps be multiplied.  At the same time, when in a company in the Army where the chain of command was all black, I was subjected to explicit racism due to my whiteness (one of many, many examples of explicit racism to which I've been subjected).  I also lacked the unearned benefit of affirmative action going through school.  So it's difficult to tell the extent to which my whiteness causally contributed to my stock of unearned advantages.  Of course similar things could be said of blacks, but the devil is in the details.
 
What is almost always confused in these discussions is the difference between the totality of advantages whites have today on average compared (e.g.) to blacks, and what unearned benefits they have in virtue of their own whiteness.  Whites could have more wealth, education, live in safer communities, be raised in two-parent households, etc. and none of this due to their own whiteness.

What about the fact--and it is a fact--that part of the cause of the black plight in the U.S. is due to past slavery by racist whites?  And what about the fact that some whites today (particularly ones with Southern heritage) have benefited downstream from slavery?  Isn't this white privilege?

No, it's not. The fact that I am white and had slave owning white ancestors isn't sufficient for saying that I have white privilege, at least not in a meaningful sense (and, in truth, I have a northern heritage with no known ancestors who owned slaves--but let's suppose I do for the sake of argument).  My whiteness is not the cause of the unearned benefits.  My whiteness in fact is explained by my biological past (supposing for the sake of argument that whiteness is a biological kind and not a social kind), so it can't be an explanation of that past; explanations can't be circular.  Still, let's go ahead and say that I have benefited by white racism in the past.  I have "privilege" in some sense, not because of my own whiteness, but because I received unearned benefits from racist whites in the past.

But then of course we have all received benefits from whites in the past, just as we've all received benefits from all sorts of other people groups from the past. There is a causal chain stretching back to the beginning of mankind from which we've received unearned advantages as well as disadvantages.  And there is no way to sort out the extent to which my unearned advantages are due to prior whites, blacks, browns, and so forth.  (This is a fact that makes reparations for past injustices logistically impossible).  So I think it best to ignore "white privilege" in this sense and focus just on what privileges I have due to my own whiteness.

And now to drive home the main point once again since so few appear to get it: In almost all discussions of so-called "white privilege" there is a deep conflation between unearned advantages that whites have on average and what they have in virtue of their being white.  I came from a small town where there were a lot of  farmers with common sense, where people went to church, there was low crime, drug use, and violence, the county was one of the poorest in the state of Ohio but the schools were decent and relatively safe, people weren't rich but they weren't desperately poor, I had two parents who loved me and disciplined me, etc.  Most importantly, the culture was saturated with people who possessed a good deal of moral virtues.  These are all unearned advantages.  And my community was mostly white, so whites had these unearned advantages.  But none of the things mentioned are unearned advantages due to my own whiteness.  Why not?  Because there are blacks, Hispanics, etc. who also have these same advantages. 

So for those who want to say that whites have "privilege" due to their own whiteness, they need to separate what unearned advantages whites happen to have today and what they have due to their own whiteness.  What unearned advantages do non-racist, poor whites have in virtue of their whiteness?  This would be the place to start.

Dennis Prager, take it away:

[I]f [white privilege] were true, why would whites commit suicide at twice the rate of blacks (and at a higher rate than any other race in America except American Indians)? According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, white men, who the Left argues are the most privileged group of all in America, commit seven out of every ten suicides in America — even though only three out of ten Americans are white males.
Whatever reason one gives for the white suicide rate, it is indisputable that, at the very least, considerably more whites than blacks consider life not worth living. To argue that all these whites were oblivious to all the unique privileges they had is to stretch the definition of “privilege” beyond credulity. Second, there are a host of privileges that dwarf “white privilege.” A huge one is Two-Parent Privilege. If you are raised by a father and mother, you enter adulthood with more privileges than anyone else in American society, irrespective of race, ethnicity, or sex. That’s why the poverty rate among two-parent black families is only 7 percent. Compare that with a 22 percent poverty rate among whites in single-parent homes. Obviously the two-parent home is the decisive “privilege.”
[...]
So then why all this left-wing talk about white privilege? The major reason is in order to portray blacks as victims. This achieves two huge goals for the Left — one political, the other philosophical. The political goal is to ensure that blacks continue to view America as racist. [TB: Prager is not denying that there is any racism, just the extent to which it is a cause today.]  The Left knows that the only way to retain political power in America is to perpetuate the belief among black Americans that their primary problem is white racism. Only then will blacks continue to regard the Left and the Democrats as indispensable.
The philosophical reason is that the Left denies — as it has since Marx — the primacy of moral and cultural values in determining the fate of the individual and of society. In the Left’s view, it is not poor values or a lack of moral self-control that causes crime, but poverty and, in the case of black criminals, racism. Therefore, the disproportionate amount of violent crime committed by black males is not attributable to the moral failure of the black criminal or to the likelihood of his not having been raised by a father [TB: or the failure of Democratic policies], but to an external factor over which he has little or no power — white racism. 
White privilege is another left-wing attempt, and a successful one, to keep America from focusing on what will truly help black America — a resurrection of the black family, for example — and instead to focus on an external problem: white privilege.



Monday, February 15, 2016

The Importance of Scalia

Here are two excellent articles on Scalia and what his death means, by Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher.  Between the both of them, they summarize pretty well my thoughts and feelings (especially Dreher).

I would only add that Scalia's death reminds me of what James Boswell said of Johnson in his "Life of Samuel Johnson":
“He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best — there is nobody; no man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson.”  

Excerpts below, but both are worth reading in full.

Dreher:
We know we’re losing, and that we are going to lose. But there was something heroic in knowing that the wiser man was standing there in the arena telling his colleagues on the Court, and indeed the entire nation, exactly what they were doing. The cause may have been lost — and on this, Scalia had this Court’s number from virtually the beginning — but with Scalia on the Court, we marched into exile with our heads held high, knowing that the stronger army won, but not the better one.
In an emotional sense, for me, Scalia functioned as a kind of keystone holding up the crumbling arc of the Republic. I know: he lost these morally significant cases having to do with the dignity of life and the meaning of marriage, even though he did not fight them on moral grounds, but on legal, democratic ones. And yes, I know that Scalia was himself no kind of unifying figure that keeps the entire structure from falling down, as a keystone does. What I’m trying to convey is what it feels like to experience his loss from the point of view of a religious and social conservative. As I said, there was something of a restraining force about him — maybe by the power of his prose and his intellect, and the strength of his conviction. 
Douthat:
Antonin Scalia, dead unexpectedly this weekend at 79, was not the most politically powerful justice during his three decades on the Supreme Court. That distinction belonged to the court’s two swing votes, Sandra Day O’Connor and then Anthony M. Kennedy, respectively the philosopher queen and king of our fraying republican order.
Unlike them, Scalia did not have the opportunity to write all his preferences into the law of the land. For every victory he won, there was a sharp defeat; for every important majority opinion a stinging, quotable dissent. And on the issues he cared the most about – abortion, above all – his defeats were famous and his dissents often not just eloquent but anguished.
 But in every other respect, he was the most important Supreme Court justice of his era.

Humorous Story About Scalia


Justice Scalia’s clerks, like the justice himself, tended to have an edge. They were wickedly smart, engaging and had no problem wielding sharp elbows when warranted. Scalia himself had a mischievous sense of humor. One famous Scalia story—there are many—occurred during the 1980s, when Reagan was president and considering appointments to the court. Everyone knew that two of the stars on the conservative side, and thus possible nominees, were Robert Bork and Scalia, both on the D.C. Circuit. So one day Scalia was walking in a parking garage at the appellate court when two U.S. marshals stopped him. “Sorry, sir,” one of them said. “We’re holding this elevator for the attorney general of the United States.”
Scalia pushed past them, entered the elevator, and pressed a button. As the doors closed, Scalia shouted out, “You tell Ed Meese that Bob Bork doesn’t wait for anyone!” 
And, as it happens, Scalia was nominated to the court by President Reagan in 1986.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

RIP Scalia

A great mind and one of my heroes is dead.  I read every book he published and numerous of his opinions.  Of all public officials he is the one I will miss the most.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Academic Tempermanent

Following up on the previous post, here are some speculations about temperament in academia.

As is well documented, academics in general lean much more to the left than the average voter.  No doubt, part of the reason for this is bias against political views in hiring.  One tends to be more favorable towards those like oneself, and ideology is more important and seen as more dangerous than, for instance, skin color.  But perhaps a good of the explanation is self-selection and temperament.  And perhaps temperament to some extent is shaped in the academy.

Academics have spent most of their lives in the academy.  Coming straight out of high school, they have been cared for by their teachers for thirteen years in a more or less safe environment; they are given few choices in how they shape their curriculum and lives.  They arrive at college.  College is a good experience.  As an undergraduate they have a few more choices afforded to them; but for four more years of their life, most of their finances have been provided by others in terms of family income, university scholarships, and government grants and loans.  The biggest decision they have to face is what to do after college.  Many then opt for what they know and what is safe: more time in the academy.  Graduate school is a risk, but not the risk that of stepping off into the wild and woolly market.  In spite of all the difficulties of graduate school, it can be a bit of heaven, being around like-minded people who value learning and the sort of education to which they are accustomed.  By the time they graduate, they feel greatly indebted (and often greatly in debt).

The entire process creates a sense of dependency.  Academics are dependent on their institution for their livelihood.  And the institution is in turn largely dependent today on federal tax dollars.  It seems plausible that such experience in part shapes academics to feel vulnerable and to identify with the more vulnerable of the hoi polloi, creating an extra sense of reliance on government-supported institutions.  Equipped with specialized knowledge--often largely not understood by the hoi polloi and sometimes devalued by the less educated masses--it is natural for the academic to identify at once with the segment of the proletariat who have not been privileged to receive the education that the academic values, while at the same time to feel alienated from the segment of the proletariat which does not value the education of the academic, in particular when such people value instead self-reliance and the sort of practical knowledge foreign to the academic.  The academic who further lacks common sense and trade skills is likely to feel particularly vulnerable.  If the segment of the proletariat were to rise up and cut the tax funded life line, the academic would seemingly have nowhere to turn.   This would be a genuine existential crisis for the academic.



Oakeshott on the Conservative Temperament

This is taken verbatim from the Maverick Philosopher:

OakeshottBefore one is a conservative or a liberal ideologically, one is a conservative or a liberal temperamentally, or by disposition. Or at least this is a thesis with which I am seriously toying, to put it oxymoronically. The idea is that temperament is a major if not the main determinant of political commitments. First comes the disposition, then come the theoretical articulation, the arguments, and the examination and refutation of the arguments of adversaries. Conservatism and liberalism are bred in the bone before they are born in the brain.
If this is so, it helps explain the bitter and intractable nature of political disagreement, the hatreds that politics excites, the visceral oppositions thinly veiled under a mask of mock civility, the mutual repugnance that goes so deep as to be unlikely to be ascribable to mere differences in thinking. For how does one argue against another's temperament or disposition or sensibility? I can't argue you out of an innate disposition, any more than I can argue you out of being yourself; and if your theoretical framework is little more than a reflection at the level of ideas of an ineradicable temperamental bias, then my arguments cannot be expected to have much influence. A certain skepticism about the role and reach of reason in human affairs may well be the Oakeshottian upshot.
But rather than pursue the question whether temperament is a major if not the main determinant of political commitments, let us address, with the help of Michael Oakeshott, the logically preliminary question of what it is to be conservatively disposed. Here are some passages from his "On Being Conservative" (from Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, Basic Books, 1962, pp. 168-196, bolding added):

Read the rest.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On "Citizens United"

The Supreme Court case commonly referred to as "Citizens United" is sure to come up many times in this election year.  Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the issue.

Link #1

Link #2

Link #3





Monday, February 8, 2016

Go to Hell Or Support Hillary Clinton

Talk about a rock and a hard place!

At a rally in Concord, N.H., on Saturday, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright introduced Clinton by throwing shade at her Democratic rival.
“People are talking about revolution,“ Albright said.  What kind of a revolution would it be to have the first woman president of the United States? … Young women, you have to help. Hillary Clinton will always be there for you.”
On Sunday, Clinton defended Albright’s assertion that “there’s a special place in hell for women” who don’t vote for her.

Not long ago, I joked about Hillary perhaps needing to go to the sexism-card long before the General Election.  Little did I know, she'd take my advice within the week!

Augustine on the Order of Caring

[F]irst, that a man should harm no one, and second, that he should do good to all, so far as he can.  In the first place, therefore, he must care for his own household; for the order of nature and of human society itself gives him readier access to them, and greater opportunity of caring for them." City of God 19.14
I agree with Augustine.  There is an order of caring.  One is to care about one's neighbors' children, but one is to care for them only if one's own children are appropriately cared about and cared for.  But in addition to having readier access and opportunity, one's children belong to one's family. My children belong to me as their father--not in the sense of property ownership but as a gift ultimately from God. God has given my wife and I the responsibility to care for these gifts.

Suppose I don't think of my children as a gift from God.  It might be natural, then, to think of them as wholly the creation of my wife and me.  Is there a non-theistic reason--beyond prudential reasons--for not selling my children after they were born?

I'm unsure, but the only plausible reason I can see at the moment is that the baby becomes attached to the mother and might undergo stress from maternal detachment (perhaps some additional stress too from no longer hearing the voice of the father). But if one were to run a utility calculus, and the mother and father did not want the child and felt burdened by it or by poor finances, it's hard to see why selling one's small children is unjustified.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

White House Gender Pay Gap

Sexism.


The Massive Expansion of Federal Agencies

Government growth can be measured in numerous ways.  One is by the share of Gross Domestic Product.  Another is by the expansion of federal laws and regulations.  Another is the growth of government agencies and pseudo-agencies.  The expansion of federal agencies has been nothing short of massive.  Here is a list of the federal government agencies by name (most below the fold):

A

AbilityOne Commission
Access Board
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Administration for Community Living
Administration for Native Americans
Administration on Aging (AoA)
Administration on Developmental Disabilities
Administrative Conference of the United States
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
African Development Foundation
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Agency for International Development (USAID)
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Agricultural Marketing Service
Agricultural Research Service
Agriculture Department (USDA)
Air Force
Air Force Reserve
Alabama
Alaska
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau
AmeriCorps
American Battle Monuments Commission
American Samoa
Amtrak (AMTRAK)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Antitrust Division
Architect of the Capitol
Archives (National Archives and Records Administration) (NARA)
Arctic Research Commission
Arizona
Arkansas
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Arms Control and International Security
Army
Army Corps of Engineers
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee

The Radical Democratic Party

If you listen to the mainstream media, you'd get the sense that Ted Cruz is a "radical" and that there are fewer and fewer "moderates" in the Republican Party.  This is the great lie of the left.

More charitably it is the great blunder of the left blinded by their love of Hillary and Bernie.  There is an easy explanation.  A Democratic journalist working for NPR thinks of himself or herself as normal.  As mainstream.  As having the correct political opinion.  As above the fray.  He then naturally  identifies with Hillary.  He's moderate.  She's moderate.  They are both moderate.  Bernie is a little more extreme than Hillary but neither are extremists like Ted Cruz.

But they are the extremists.  Historically, Ted Cruz has far more in common with presidents of the past than Hillary Clinton.  Gay marriage?  Unthinkable.  Bisexuality as morally permissible and upstanding?  Unthinkable.  Zero restrictions on abortion?  Taking away the rights of citizens not to pay for health insurance?  Nuts.  More and more growth of the federal government?

Whenever a Democrat breaths the word "extremist" remind them that a socialist--a socialist--might very well capture their party's nomination.  And remind them that Barack Obama was recognized by the non-partisan National Journal as the most liberal (i.e. leftwing) senator in 2007 before he was elected president; even the leftist mag Mother Jones recognized he was no moderate.

More ammo.