URLs du Jour

2018-07-06

[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 11:19 is another encouragement to be a good person:

    19 Truly the righteous attain life,
        but whoever pursues evil finds death.

    It would be churlish to point out that the Proverbialist, and everyone he was talking about, has been dead for many centuries.

    Instead, let us once again hold out the possibility that this is one of the (rare) instances of the Old Testament mentioning the afterlife.


  • We continue our post-Fourth link cleanup with Jonah Goldberg at NRO: Our Strange Relationship with the Word ‘Patriotism’. I liked this aside:

    By the way: It’s simply not true that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. As my National Review colleague John O’Sullivan puts it: Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Treason is the highest form of dissent. Ergo, treason must be the highest form of patriotism.

    "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" was in vogue during Dubya's terms in office. For the next eight years, it was "dissent is racism". And now it's more like "Dissent is pretending your IQ is 20 points lower, but making up for it by yelling."

    (See the Charles Sykes link on "jerkitude" below.)


  • I can't claim to have read all 50 pages of Deirdre Nansen McCloskey's Manifesto for a Humane True Libertarianism. ("The first chapters of Humane True Liberalism, forthcoming 2019.") But I will, and you might want to as well. First paragraphs:

    I make here the case for a new and humane version of what is often called “libertarianism.” Thus the columnist George Will at the Washington Post or David Brooks at the New York Times or Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune or Dave Barry at the Miami Herald or P. J . O'Rourke at the National Lampoon, Rolling Stone, and the Daily Beast.

    Humane libertarianism is not right wing or reactionary or some scary creature out of Dark Money. In fact, it stands in the middle of the road—recently a dangerous place to stand—being tolerant and optimistic and respectful. It’s True Liberal, antistatist, opposing the impulse of people to push other people around. It’s not “I’ve got mine," or “Let’s be cruel.” Nor is it “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you, by force of arms if necessary.” It’s “I respect your dignity, and am willing to listen, really listen, helping you if you wish, on your own terms.”

    When people grasp it, many like it. Give it a try.

    I assume it's as good as those first bits promise.


  • Roger Scruton op-editorializes in the NYT: What Trump Doesn’t Get About Conservatism. I know, longest column ever, amirite. But it's short. Bottom line:

    Conservative thinkers have on the whole praised the free market, but they do not think that market values are the only values there are. Their primary concern is with the aspects of society in which markets have little or no part to play: education, culture, religion, marriage and the family. Such spheres of social endeavor arise not through buying and selling but through cherishing what cannot be bought and sold: things like love, loyalty, art and knowledge, which are not means to an end but ends in themselves.

    About such things it is fair to say that Mr. Trump has at best only a distorted vision. He is a product of the cultural decline that is rapidly consigning our artistic and philosophical inheritance to oblivion. And perhaps the principal reason for doubting Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials is that being a creation of social media, he has lost the sense that there is a civilization out there that stands above his deals and his tweets in a posture of disinterested judgment.

    Given his record so far on trade, I think it's a mistake to paint Trump as being a free market ideologue. But Scruton has food for thought, even for those of us who veer toward the libertarian side of the circus tent.


  • Another post-Fourth pickup, the intrepid Veronique de Rugy writes at Reason: The Government's Economic Illogic Is on Display.

    The Fourth of July holiday is a time to reflect on the courage of our Founding Fathers to pursue independence from the tyrannical British government. Unfortunately, we now get to spend the other 364 days dealing with the tyrannical federal government in Washington.

    You see this in our debt and increasing deficits to entitlement programs that redistribute from relatively young and poor to relatively rich and old—or in our corporate welfare programs that subsidize a handful of producers at the expense of everyone else. You also see it in a never-ending stream of contradictory legislation and red tape at the taxpayers' expense.

    Fun fact, as Veronique describes: a branch of Your Federal Government, the Export-Import Bank, extended over $7 billion in loans backed by American taxpayers to Pemex, the Mexican government-owned state-owned oil and gas company.


  • We are only a couple weeks into the season, and Charles Sykes sees it coming: Our Summer of Jerkitude. (Or, if we wanted to go full PG-13, as Sykes implies, "assholery".)

    But “jerkitude” is a useful concept for our national moment of irritation and obnoxiousness. As it happens, some years ago, Eric Schwitzgebel, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, developed a comprehensive theory of the essence of jerkitude:

    The jerk culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or idiots to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers. . . .The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective, and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him.

    Which brings us to the owner who kicked Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of her restaurant, Robert DeNiro’s f-bomb at the Tony Awards, President Trump’s twitter feed, Corey Lewandowski’s “mwah-mwah” about a child with Down Syndrome, Maxine Waters, and actor, director, and thorough jerk, Seth Rogen.

    And almost certainly more as the season (year?) drones on.

    If you missed Eric Schwitzgebel's essay when it came out in 2014, here it is.