Friday, December 28, 2007

What America Really Thinks of Journalists

This little anecdote from Diane Sawyer unintentionally shows what most Americans really think about the "objectivity" of journalists.

You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken
off the jury. And the judge said to me, "Can, you know,
can you tell the truth and be fair?" And I said, "That’s what
journalists do." And everybody in the courtroom laughed.
It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.

— Co-host Diane Sawyer joking on ABC’s Good Morning
America July 12, following a report on how some people
try to avoid serving on a jury.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Article on Intelligence vs. Effort

I found this article from Scientific American very interesting, and it rings true in my experience. Kids need to understand that achievement requires effort, not innate ability. Just because you fail, it doesn't mean you're dumb, or you can't ultimately succeed. The research speaks of 2 mindsets, "helpless" and "mastery-oriented" more important it talks about the two theories of intelligence that underlie these mindsets

The helpless ones believe that intelligence is a fixed trait: you have only a certain amount, and that’s that. I call this a “fixed mind-set.” Mistakes crack their self-confidence because they attribute errors to a lack of ability, which they feel powerless to change. They avoid challenges because challenges make mistakes more likely and looking smart less so. . . such children shun effort in the belief that having to work hard means they are dumb.

The mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work.
They want to learn above all else. After all, if you believe that you can expand your intellectual skills, you want to do just that. Because slipups stem from a lack of effort, not ability, they can be remedied by more effort. Challenges are energizing rather than intimidating; they offer opportunities to learn.

While people do have differences in ability, effort is more important:

People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and C├ęzanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.

This may seem basic, but the "helpless" mindset is rampant - and it affects much more than school work.

A fixed mind-set can similarly hamper communication and progress in the workplace by leading managers and employees to discourage or ignore constructive criticism and advice. . . Mind-set can affect the quality and longevity of personal relationships as well, through people’s willingness—or unwillingness—to deal with difficulties. Those with a fixed mind-set are less likely than those with a growth mind-set to broach problems in their relationships and to try to solve them . . . After all, if you think that human personality traits are more or less fixed, relationship repair seems largely futile. Individuals who believe people can change and grow, however, are more confident that confronting concerns in their relationships will lead to resolutions. . . Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become responsible employees and citizens.

So hang in there Becky! I can change, honest :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Top 1%

We've heard a lot this election cycle about "the top 1%" of income earners. Usually in a context like this:

Mr./Ms. Candidate (D):
". . . and I'll give every American healthcare by making sure the top 1% pay their fair share!"
Audience: (applause)
Newscaster: "A bold new proposal, from a bold new . . . (blah, blah, blah)"

But who are the mysterious "top 1%?" and what is "their fair share" anyway?

One gets the impression that they are watching CNN, poolside at the summer home, champagne in hand, laughing at the audacity of the politicians and vowing: "I will never, NEVER! pay my fair share!"

Or perhaps they are meeting old friends at the upscale "Club Un Percenteaux" in Manhattan (a very exclusive club -- it only admits 1% of those who apply) and plotting to buy off Congress to keep their low tax rates.

Thomas Sowell has a great article on who they are on National Review Online. Turns out the club isn't so exclusive after all:

Who are those top one percent? For those who would like to join them, the question is: How can you do that?

The second question is easy to answer. Virtually anyone who owns a home in San Francisco, no matter how modest that person’s income may be, can join the top one percent instantly just by selling their house.

But that’s only good for one year, you may say. What if they don’t have another house to sell next year?

Well, they won’t be in the top one percent again next year, will they? But that’s not unusual.

Americans in the top one percent, like Americans in most income brackets, are not there permanently, despite being talked about and written about as if they are an enduring “class” — especially by those who have overdosed on the magic formula of “race, class and gender,” which has replaced thought in many intellectual circles.

At the highest income levels, people are especially likely to be transient at that level. Recent data from the Internal Revenue Service show that more than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005. . .

These are not permanent classes but mostly people at current income levels reached by spikes in income that don’t last.

More ways to get in the club:

These income spikes can occur for all sorts of reasons. In addition to selling homes in inflated housing markets like San Francisco, people can get sudden increases in income from inheritances, or from a gamble that pays off, whether in the stock market, the real estate market, or Las Vegas. . . corporate CEOs, those who cash in stock options that they have accumulated over the years get a big spike in income the year that they cash them in. . . Some of these incomes are almost as large as those of big-time entertainers — who are never accused of “greed,” by the way.

I might add own a small business to the list. The tax code makes it easy to live very well off your business, and report almost no income (it's been reinvested in the business).

It's not the same people who are rich at any given time. That's the beauty of the American economy. Anyone really can get rich (at least for a while), and no one has to stay poor. The free flow of goods and labor, the flexibility of business to hire (and fire) as necessary, and nearly universal access to education means that:

Most Americans in the top fifth, the bottom fifth, or any of the fifths in between, do not stay there for a whole decade, much less for life. And most certainly do not remain permanently in the top one percent or the top one-hundredth of one percent.

As to what "their fair share" may be, who knows. One might think it would be roughly the same as their percentage of the total income in the country. I do know that (according to the IRS) in 2004 they paid
  • 36.89% of all income taxes, and made
  • 19% of the total income.
Meanwhile, the bottom 50% paid
  • 3.3% of all income taxes, and made
  • 13.4% of the total income
There's at least an argument that they pay their share already.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Democrats' View of Taxes

In speaking of a tax cut, Gene Sperling, Hillary Clinton's chief economic advisor, said the following at a recent National Press Club panel discussion:

The question is, should we be giving an extra $120 billion to people in the top 1 percent?

Democrats see tax cuts as the government giving people money. This is insane! Welfare is giving people money, tax cut are no such thing. One gets the impression from the Democrats that wealthy Americans are a natural resource, to be pumped for as much cash as we need. Jonah Goldberg explains very eloquently in National Review:

You can see where Democrats get this idea, after all. The top 1 percent of wage earners already provide nearly 40 percent of federal income tax revenues. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers contribute only about 3 percent.

This is dangerous to our form of government.

According to Democrats, it's greedy to want to keep your own money, but it's "justice" to demand someone else's.

Taxes are a necessary evil. But their silver lining is that they foster a sense of accountability and reciprocity between the taxpayer and the tax collector. Indeed, democracy is usually born from this relationship. Widening prosperity brings a rising middle class, which in turn demands the rule of law, incorrupt bureaucracies and political representation in exchange for its hard-earned money.

As the tax burden shifts to the rich, and as fewer people overall pay taxes:

the people are less inclined to see government as their expensive servant and more as their goody-dispensing master.

Democrats keep telling the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers that America's problems would be solved if only the rich people would pay "their fair share" of income taxes. Not only is this patently untrue and a siren song toward a welfare state, it amounts to covetousness as fiscal policy.

. . .it's unhealthy for a democracy when the majority of citizens don't see government as a service they're reluctantly paying for but as an extortionist that cuts them in for a share of the loot.

Beware any candidate who equates tax cuts with government spending. They may cut "spending" so much that we may end up with no money at all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Most ridiculous British laws:

  1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament
  2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down
  3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store
  4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day
  5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter
  6. In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet
  7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail of the Queen
  8. It is illegal not to tell the tax man anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing
  9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour
  10. In the city of York it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Guilt by Association

HBO's "Big Love," the Warren Jeffs trial, Mitt Romney's two grandmothers, you can't escape news about polygamy these days.

All the publicity surrounding polygamists these days has repercussions for average Mormons, and for Utahns in general.

In My Estates and Trusts class, we were talking about how the law handles children omitted from a parent's will. One student raised his hands and asked, in all seriousness, "do they have special provisions in Utah because polygamy is allowed?"


I, of course, informed the class that polygamy is not allowed in Utah -- but I really shouldn't have had to do that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Boys Adrift

National Review Online has an interview with a physician who has written an interesting book on some of the problems many boys and young men seem to have doing something constructive with their lives.

(I realize I have very little room to talk here, glass houses being what they are, but . . .)

Girls are achieving more than boys are these days. More girls graduate form high school, and many more graduate from college than do their male classmates.

One factor he blames - video games:

These new video games are so exciting, so realistic, so engaging, that many boys get addicted to them. They play them 10, 15, 20 hours a week. I very often hear of parties where the girls stand around talking with other girls, while the young men are in the next room playing Halo on the 55-inch flat screen or watching their buddies play. We’re seeing more and more young men who would rather play these video games rather than try to meet girls.

Anyway, food for thought certainly, especially for those of us raising boys. The doctor blames five factors for the increasing prevalence of "failure to launch" (quoting from

Video Games. Studies show that some of the most popular video games are disengaging boys from real-world pursuits.
Teaching Methods. Profound changes in the way children are educated have had the unintended consequence of turning many boys off school.
Prescription Drugs. Overuse of medication for ADHD may be causing irreversible damage to the motivational centers in boys’ brains.
Endocrine Disruptors. Environmental estrogens from plastic bottles and food sources may be lowering boys’ testosterone levels, making their bones more brittle and throwing their endocrine systems out of whack.
Devaluation of Masculinity. Shifts in popular culture have transformed the role models of manhood. Forty years ago we had Father Knows Best; today we have The Simpsons.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Communist Absurdity

The communist Chinese government has decreed that Buddhist monks cannot reincarnate without government permission. They have even set up a procedure monks must follow.

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

This is consistent with the communist view of religion as "the opiate of the masses." Communists really believe that people are dumb enough to follow whatever procedure they concoct to stamp the spiritual out of life. Either that, or the PRC finally concluded "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," gave up trying to secularize Tibet and decided to become experts in reincarnation

This is, of course, all a ploy to weaken the influence of the Dalai Lama who has been an opponent of the Communist takeover of Tibet since the 1950s. Communists consistently underestimate the power of deeply held beliefs. Communism cannot replace religion because it doesn't have the power to truly change a human heart. There never have been any truly converted Communists. (Even Stalin was seen praying in church as the German army closed in on Moscow). Communism is just a vehicle to gain power. Its tenets cannot answer the basic questions of life in any remotely satisfying way -

"Where did I come from?" - Religion answers this "from God," Communism answers "Nowhere, but now you're here, you must serve the state."

"What is the purpose of life?" - Religion answers (LDS) "men are that they might have joy." Communism: "You are here to serve the state."

"What happens when I die?" - Religions have many answers to this (reincarnation, exhaltation, Nirvana) all more appealing than communism's offering "you stop serving the state and cease to exist." (P.S. if you fall out of favor, we'll help you cease to exist sooner, then deny you were ever born.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And people wonder why I don't like trial law . . .

  • A man in West Virginia is suing McDonald's for $10 million over a drive-thru order mistake. He's allergic to cheese and mistakenly got a cheeseburger. He didn't bother to check the burger before he bit into it. His mother is also suing for reckless endangerment for having to drive him to the hospital.
  • A woman in Michigan is suing the makers of Starburst candies because they don't warn consumers about the dangers of the candies being "too chewy." Her lawyer just wants to make sure others avoid this danger.
  • A New Jersey man is suing Starbucks because his tea was too hot and the Starbucks employee didn't put the lid on right. His wife is also suing for losses due to his injury.
  • Friday, August 17, 2007

    Thou shalt not covet . . .

    Even though it's one of the ten commandments, I don't think people really pay attention to why it's so important not to covet. This article from NRO really struck me as deeply insightful. Jealousy and covetousness are certainly going to need to be overcome before we can claim to be "the pure in heart." some quotes:

    We almost never discuss envy anymore. “One may admit to pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, and laziness, and one may even boast of them,” Gonzalo Fernandez de la Mora wrote 20 years ago in Egalitarian Envy. “There is only one capital sin no one admits to: envy. ... Its symbol ought to be a mask.” This is a shame; the most pathetic of the seven deadly sins is perhaps the most consequential.

    Indeed, just look again on the 20th century. Envy turned Germany cruel. In Russia, the ideology of envy — socialism — likewise ran amok under the label Bolshevism and threatened to overrun the world. The consequences of envy run even deeper. It will never be known how many millennia man endured in misery and darkness under the moldering blanket of envy. Helmut Schoeck writes in his timeless masterpiece, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, that whole societies, hobbled by envy, rejected innovation, and prosperity, preferring the arrested development of all to the advancement of the few.
    Like the “scientific socialism” that concealed envy behind a slide rule, today’s liberals invoke social science as justification for their covetousness. In one famous study, a majority of people said they would rather make $50,000 if others earned $25,000 than earn $100,000 if others were making $200,000
    [T]hese studies turn a vice into a virtue. With the exception of the self-esteem movement, which glorifies pride, it’s difficult to imagine another area where we so shamelessly tout a sin as the basis of public policy. All men lust in their hearts; shall we dole out concubines for those of us who can’t live like Hugh Hefner? Envy has its social utility, of course. Schoeck argues, along with Nietzsche, that envy helped hone our sense of justice. Fine. But America is supposed to be different, in part because unlike, say, Germany or Russia, America had no feudal past and hence lacked the historic breeding swamps of envy. America’s egalitarianism is supposed to be political and nothing more: No man is the involuntary servant of another. Beyond that, he is the captain of his self.

    The man who orders a better meal than me has done no harm to me. And it is no man’s (or bureaucrat’s) job but my own to cool the fever of my futterneid.

    The whole article is very insightful, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing. and let no one say that personal vice doesn't impact anyone else.

    Monday, August 6, 2007

    Who Knew Detroit Was This Bad?

    Urban Decay.

    The National Review Online has and article by a reporter for the Detroit News on the sorry state of the city - "Unions of Urban Decay." I knew Detroit was a mess, but had no idea it was this bad. (and it can't all be blamed on the auto industry). A few sobering statistics from a once-proud city:

    • The Detroit Public School system currently graduates 22 percent of its entering freshman.
    • African-American males who drop out of high school in Detroit have 73-percent unemployment in their 20s.
    • The city has lost half its population since 1950.
    • Detroit has a 70-percent child-illegitimacy rate.
    • Detroit today sports a 47-percent adult illiteracy rate. (on par with Bangladesh and trailing the Republic of Chad).
    • An estimated 30 percent of Detroit’s population is in government employ. (Read: unionized).

    He blames the city's problems on the unions, especially the teachers' union. It seems like there is a racial component too.

    Michigan millionaire and philanthropist Robert Thompson, who in 2003 offered the city $200 million — $200 million! — to build 15 Detroit charter high schools. He was run out of town. Mayor Kwame Kilptrick, who sends his own kids to charter schools, advertised Detroit’s poisonous racial politics when he rapped the white businessman for trying “to ride in on a white horse” and save the city.
    Or consider Dave Bing, a prominent black Detroit entrepreneur. The former Detroit Pistons star was heaped with scorn for partnering with Thompson. At a 2005 banquet hosted by the Call ‘Em Out Coalition, Bing was awarded a “Sambo Sell-Out Award” by Councilwoman Sharon McPhail.

    Sad, very, very sad.

    This can't help but be a huge drain on the state's economy. Detroit proper has almost 1/10 of the state's population, it's problems affect the rest of us heavily. For example, Detroit's unemployment rate is 13.8%, Michigan as a whole is 7.2%. (by my calculations, if Detroit was at 7.2% too, the statewide unemployment rate would only be 6.5%) That difference skews perception of the rest of the state.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Al Gore, Friend of the Animals

    Al Gore is out to save the environment again. From Mary Katharine Ham's blog:

    After Live Earth produced the carbon emissions of a small country in order to discourage carbon emissions, Gore has moved onto eating endangered species to encourage their preservation, I guess. Don't ask questions. He's a visionary:
    Gore and his guests at the weekend ceremony dined on Chilean sea bass - arguably one of the world's most threatened fish species.
    Also known as Patagonian toothfish, the species is under pressure from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, jeopardising the sustainability of remaining stocks.
    The species is currently managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources, the body which introduced a catch and trade documentation scheme as an attempt to tackle illegal poaching of this species.
    The story comes from the Humane Society.

    Apparently, endangered fish taste better than abundant ones. I guess that makes sense, if no one liked them, no one would catch them . . . and they wouldn't be endangered, right?

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    The Real Media Divide

    This article puts into words several amorphous thought that have been floating around in my head for a while.

    Everyone talks about the huge divide in our society, how everything is polarized, left and right, liberal and conservative, etc. But I think this article makes an excellent point. The left-right divide isn't the real issue, it is simply magnified by the News/Entertainment divide.

    Most people are not news junkies. They are smart, and they pay attention to what is important, but they don't follow every nuance of every breaking story 24/7. Others (like me) DO follow everything.

    The article points out that the huge increase in information availability in recent years -- with expanded adoption of cable, satellite and the internet has allowed nearly everyone to find sites or stations that they enjoy. Naturally the news junkies gravitate to Fox News and CNN, Rush and NPR, and those who aren't obsessed with news follow their interests elsewhere. The news junkies, being the loudest, magnify any difference to the level of a fundamental disagreement -- when in reality the two sides agree on goals, and just differ on methods. (that's a theme for another post).

    In effect this has created a new "specialization" -- you could call them "news junkies." They (I should say we), use their own jargon, and spend a lot of time discussing highly involved issues online, by radio call-in, and in our own specialized journals (National Review, the New Republic, etc). Meanwhile the world outside goes on, and most people just can't spare the time and effort to become experts in our field.

    We (news junkies) are a little like physicists -- one may vehemently insist that the "the Large Hadron Collider WILL be able to produce the Higgs boson!", while the other retorts, "it will NOT, dang it! the energies in question just aren't sufficient - IDIOT!" Pretty soon, there's fisticuffs in the lab, and it's all downhill from there.

    Meanwhile, normal people watching this are either asleep, or calling for the nice young men in the clean white coats to come and take the physicists away to a happy home with nice soft walls. (yes, Dr. Jones, there'll be Higgs bosons there, nice ones, happy ones! . . . of course you can talk to them. . . Just come on . . . get in the van . . . that's it . . . )

    I'm sure there are people dialing right now to get us news junkies some help before it's too late. (as long as the padded room gets National Review, I'm good).


    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Feminism losing ground?

    The National Organization of Women is probably gathered in an emergency session today to deal with this new survey of mothers.
    The Pew Research Center survey, being released today, found that only 21 percent of working mothers with children younger than 18 viewed full-time work as the best arrangement, down from 32 percent in 1997. Sixty percent of the working mothers said a part-time job would be best, up from 48 percent 10 years ago. And 19 percent said not working at all would be ideal — roughly the same as in 1997.
    The survey also found a shift in preferences among stay-at-home mothers. Only 16 percent of them said their ideal situation would be to work full time outside the home, down from 24 percent in 1997. Conversely, 48 percent now say that not working at all outside the home is the best arrangement, up from 39 percent who felt that way in 1997. . . Cary Funk, a Pew researcher on the survey, said the trend reflected women's latest thoughts on the ideal arrangement for their children.
    Apparently, not all modern women want to be workaholics. Oddly enough, many women believe that it would be better for their children if mom were at home either full or part time. . . huh . . . go figure. The really interesting part is the huge change in responses since 1997. Today, 33% fewer working mothers think full-time work is ideal than thought so 10 years ago. 25% more think part-time work would be best. That's a huge shift in a very short time. These aren't all new women entering the workforce with new ideas either. Many of the same women surveyed now were working in 1997. Many of these mothers are probably working in order to make ends meet rather than because they want to, given the cost of living "the good life" today.

    Mothers who actually raise their children seem to be happier too. Today 33% fewer full-time moms want to be full-time workers outside the home than 10 years ago. Now 20% more full-time moms think they are doing what's best for their children than thought so in 1997. Almost half think that their being at home is best. (makes one wonder why the other half are at home, doesn't it?)

    I can only guess at why opinions have changed so much. Maybe it's all the violence in schools, all the stupid internet videos of kids fighting, beating people, taking drugs, etc. maybe 9/11 changed the way we view families. Whatever the cause, opinions are changing. The economy doesn't help mothers realize their desires, however. As the article points out, the mothers' views don't reflect the reality.

    According to the latest federal figures, 70.5 percent of American women with children younger than 18 work outside the home — including 60 percent of mothers with children younger than 3. And the newly emerging preference for part-time work doesn't mesh with current reality: Three-quarters of the working mothers have full-time jobs.

    But, at least there seems to be a growing sense that children cannot raise themselves, and when others raise your kids, you may not like the way they turn out. And maybe, just maybe, there is a new generation of baby boomers' kids who missed having mom at home growing up, and don't want to cause their own children the same regret. And maybe people are starting to accept that men and women don't have to want the same things to lead worthwhile, productive lives.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Monument to Victims of Communism

    "We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to thosewho died, to acknowledge their lives and honor their memory. The Czech writer Milan Kundera once described the struggle against Communism as "the struggle of memory against forgetting." Communist regimes did more than take their victims' lives; they sought to steal their humanity and erase their memory. With this memorial, we restore their humanity and we reclaim their memory. With this memorial, we say of Communism's innocent and anonymous victims, these men and women lived and they shall not be forgotten." -- George W. Bush, June 12, 2007

    Today in Washington, President Bush dedicated a memorial to the victims of communism. Fittingly, today is also the 20th anniversary of one of President Reagan's most famous speeches in which he stood in front of the Berlin Wall and said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

    The monument is a statue in the style of the one erected in Tienanmen Square in Beijing in 1989. Communist Chinese military units later destroyed it while driving tanks over the assembled peaceful protesters. Hundreds were killed.

    Communism doesn't get the same bad rap that other brutal ideologies do. Maybe it's because we fought no great war to end it as we did against the Nazis. Or maybe it's because we never had to face it in our own country as we did slavery.

    Anyone sickened by the atrocities of the holocaust (about 6 million Jews killed) should be simply horrified at the destruction wrought by communism. Communist atrocities weren't aimed at only one group of people. they weren't confined to only one country, and they have been occurring for 90 years now. In China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam these atrocities continue. By a conservative estimate the victims of Communism include:

    65 million (and counting) in China; 20 million in the Soviet Union, 2 million (and counting) in North Korea, 2 million in Cambodia, 1.7 million in Africa, 1.5 million in Afghanistan, 1 million in Vietnam, 1 million in communist Eastern Europe and 150,000 in Latin America.
    In short, communism, an evil ideology unlike any the world has seen, is responsible for the slaughter of more than 94 million human beings. It tops all plagues, natural disasters, crime, and other political ideologies, probably combined. -- Cal Thomas

    Other estimates put the total at closer to 150 million.

    May they rest in peace.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2007

    A Few Good Articles

    I read a lot of political philosophy every day. But, rarely do I find a group of articles like this that all seem to mesh together so well. All three speak of the decline of traditional morality and families, and the consequences of that.

    First, why Republican presidential candidates should be talking about families more.

    Next, what adolescents and intellectuals have in common.

    Last, this article really hits the nail on the head. It talks about why people on the "left" find public anger and profanity acceptable. for example, why are there so many "Buck Fush" bumper stickers?

    The answer is that parts of the left have little or no belief in the concept of "decency" as traditionally understood by Western civilization. They tend to dismiss such notions as bourgeois anachronisms; they place great value on individuals expressing themselves; and they view self-censorship as a form of fascism.

    This latter reason is important: The '60s redefined narcissism as idealism. The individual's feelings became sacrosanct.

    That is why the self-esteem movement -- the idea that how an individual feels about himself is far more important than what he actually accomplishes -- arose from the left.

    And that is why you almost never hear a conservative say "I am offended" when reacting to a liberal speaker or writer, but it is quite commonplace for a liberal to use those words in reacting to someone from the right.

    "Make love not war" was another example of placing one's feelings above other values. That is why it is a very good thing for the world that the previous generation, the one that fought Hitler, didn't believe in making love rather than war.

    I told you this blog was random!

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    Michigan = France

    I heard something on the radio this morning that reminded me just how backwards the Michigan economy is these days. The radio host was talking to the heads of both major state political parties. He said something like:

    "now there's a proposal in front of the state legislature to make it so that the big 3 auto makers don't pay any taxes until they make money again. This will help keep them in Michigan. I'm surprised no one's thought of this before."

    What?!?! Everyone's thought of this. Nowhere else in America are you taxed when you have no income. Michigan has had what's called the Single Business Tax for years. This is a tax calculated on gross revenue, not on income. So businesses here pay taxes even if they lose money. It has finally been repealed, but now they are looking at replacing it with a "revenue neutral" business tax (read: high tax rate). This will hardly improve the business environment.

    And the politicians wonder why the economies of every other state are growing, and Michigan's is not. They wonder why car companies find it cheaper to build in Ohio or Indiana and then entice skilled workers to move there from Michigan. They wonder why the state has a huge budget deficit and unemployment that is almost twice the national rate, and no population growth (0.3%/year).

    Confiscatory taxes do not work. This lesson has largely been learned by conservatives (and even many liberals). Ireland has learned it, South Korea and Taiwan have learned it. Even Communist China has learned it to some degree. Only Western Europe - such as Germany and France, and Michigan seem to be behind the times.

    When you combine this with the hold the unions have on the state, and the weird things Michigan spends money on (MI is the only state with a state surgeon general), a pattern starts to emerge

    Michigan = France when it comes to economics.

    Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Honey Baked Buffalo?

    This is the scariest pig I've ever seen.

    How would you like to run into this guy deep in the forest? My favorite quote:

    He said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50- caliber revolver and chased it for three hours through hilly woods before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.

    Eight 50 cal. rounds? And it took 3 hours to catch it! Where the heck do you get a .50 cal. pistol anyway?

    I don't think I'd let my 11 year-old hunt anything that size. But I'll take this kid on my team when the shooting starts.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    America is not Rome

    There's a great article on National Review's site today. It's nice to read something positive about America hidden among all the negativity. The author's main point is that there have been a series of "crises" over the last century. Over and over, we were supposed to be replaced by a new superpower, or a new economic system. Over and over, all have failed.

    Our Constitution is the oldest written constitution in the world. Our economy is open, efficient, and above all, flexible. But the best line of the whole article is this one:

    "Does merit — or religion, tribe, or class — mostly gauge success or failure in America? What nation is as free, stable, and transparent as the U.S.? Try becoming a fully accepted citizen of China or Japan if you were not born Chinese or Japanese. Try running for national office in India from the lower caste. Try writing a critical op-ed in Russia or hiring a brilliant female to run a mosque, university, or hospital in most of the Middle East."

    In America people rise based on merit, not the station or tribe they were born into. Merit is largely the sum total of a lifetime of individual choices; it is moral agency at work. That is the reason for our strength.

    you can read the whole article here:

    "No Decline Here"