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Friday, June 24, 2011

Individualism and Rational Choice - a link to yet another article

Well, gang, the article referenced below is one of those things that I don't think I quite have the smarts and/or background to fully understand.  Maybe you do.  Anyway, I found it interesting, and hope you do too.

OPINIONATOR | THE STONE: The Failure of Rational Choice Philosophy
Today's zealous advocates of individualism invariably forget their origins in a long ago program of government propaganda.

A really good article highlighting why (or at least how) our politicians act like idiots

The following linked article is about the desirability of viewing the Medicaire debate from what I would call a "problem-solving" view rather than an ideological one.  It touches upon some things I have said before, but is a better illustration of those points than anything I've written.  I may write more on this; we'll see.

An Article/ and Why do Libertarians focus on Economic liberty?

The following link is to a Post, actually both much longer and much more theoretical than anything I have written, about the philosophical underpinnings of "Libertarianism".  I know nothing at all about the gentleman discussed in the article, but it was interesting and made me think. 

My first reaction was that I think that the onset of political movements and philosophies may not be so neat, and that the roots of modern Libertarianism in American political thinking certainly go back at least to Barry Goldwater.

The second thought that the article triggered was a question:  Why do Libertarians seem to see "liberty" in primarily economic terms?  They seem to focus on the right of the individual to be free from governmental interference in his or her economic life?  They want fewer taxes and fewer governmental restrictions on how a person carries out his or her economic activity, and seem to view a  free market as the best and only "regulation" of such activity.  As readers of this Blog will know, I find the idea that the market is somehow perfect or even rational or free to be somewhat silly, but be that as it may, let's even assume that that is true.  My question is why focus on economic activity? What about sexual activity?  Moral activity?  Reprehensible religious practices?  Crime (either economic or non-economic)? 

It seems to me that all of us (with the possible exception of Ayn Rand herself) are willing to say that we, through our government, should be able to theoretically limit our citizens' behavior for the common good.  Why place a higher value on economic liberty?  Well, I can think of some possible reasons, namely:  First, the market does (at least for some people) exist as some "higher power" in the economic arena, whereas in other areas we must create rules for ourselves.  Second, there is a cogent argument that has been made that the right to private property and to economic liberty is at the foundation of other liberties, and that without that right, other rights may be less than meaningful.  Third, the economic area is always one where it can be argued that many people are competing for the same resources, and that some people will "naturally" have a motive to use the government to get them a bigger share of those resources (money) than the market would give them?  Still, none of these arguments are entirely convincing, particularly when used as a theoretical justification against government "interference" with economic activity.  And this is coming from me - and I consider myself to have some sympathy with libertarians.

Third, it occurs to me that the Libertarians have actually adopted ideas normally associated with the radical "left", at least historically.  The idea of economic activity, rights and relationships being at the center of human society is straight out of Karl Marx.  The idea that Government is not necessary - that people will voluntarily organize to undertake whatever common activities are necessary -  is classic Anarchism - straight from Pierre Proudhon and Peter Kropotkin, although the Anarchists would eliminate the State, not just its ability to govern economic activity.

I would go back to a familiar theme of mine; anyone who tries to put the complexities of modern civilization into an ideological box that will always govern what we should do is misguided, arrogant, nuts, not-too-bright, really focused on being elected or re-elected or some combination of the above. (For a more detailed rant on this point, see my Post of October 22, 2010)  Conditions change (as the Article points out).  New data comes in.  In short, stuff happens, and we should try to learn from it.  It seems to me that ideologues in general could be said to be always "preparing to fight the last war."

Anyway, here is the Link I promised you at the beginning of the Post.

The Liberty Scam
By Stephen Metcalf

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why not go after the Bankers who caused this mess? An article.

I don't know the ins and outs of the criminal laws in this area, but, like many Americans, I have wondered where our Federal and State authorities (particularly the Feds) have been.  There seems to be a lot of evidence of  illegal conduct out there - not just available through the Congressional investigation.  Even an anti-conspiracy theorist like me has to wonder why large numbers of rich and powerful people haven't been charged.  Anyway, here's a good article on the subject.

Don't Let Goldman off the Hook
By Eliot Spitzer

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The recent "Rapture" - a cartoon

I don't normally post cartoons on this blog, but this one from a couple of weeks ago is to good not to share.


Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. How God Is Managing The 2011 Rapture

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Israel's "security" interests or "National" interests?

You know, I have never trusted the people claiming to represent the Palestinians, certainly not on the "peace with Israel" question
Unfortunately, it may have reached the point where I don't really trust the current Israeli Government as a "viable peace partner" either.  I would emphasize that the Israelis have a democratically elected government, and its for them and their government to make the security decisions for Israel.  And, as the article in the link below points out, the Israelis have a variety of opinions.  Still, I think that Israel policy may be driven, at the moment, by Israelis who want Israeli to permanently occupy the entire West Bank. (or, as they would say, "Judea and Samaria").  Anyway, I hope you like the linked article.

Rand Paul's speech about the Patriot Act

While I disagree with most of Senator Paul's positions, I think he's mostly right about this one,and I wish his speech had been more publisized.

Rand Paul's Noble Defeat on the PATRIOT Act By David Weigel

The role of history/ "good" wars

First, my apologies for the gap in Posts;  I have been busy.  There may continue to be gaps because I am still busy.  My current plan is to Post links to certain articles I have read in the last few months that I find particularly interesting, with a few editorial comments on those articles, and then to try to get time to write more myself. 

It has been strongly suggested that I try to make my Posts shorter.  I would like to; we'll see.

Anyway, as to the link below - the main reason I am sending it is the last two paragraphs of the article, which to me, at least, express some very important ideas.  I would particularly direct readers' attention to the first sentence of the next to last paragraph, which talks about living the present in ambiguity.

The whole piece is good, and I recommend it, but the point I am trying to share is the last two paragraphs.