People who pride themselves on their complexity and deride others for being simplistic should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.
What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.
Nothing is easier than to get peaceful people to renounce violence, even when they provide no concrete ways to prevent violence from others.
The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.
What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month, and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are generally given 'class' labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing 'class' makes class itself a nebulous concept. Yet the intelligentsia are habituated, if not addicted, to seeing the world in class terms.
The staunchest conservatives advocate a range of changes which differ in specifics, rather than in number or magnitude, from the changes advocated by those considered liberal…change, as such, is simply not a controversial issue. Yet a common practice among the anointed is to declare themselves emphatically, piously, and defiantly in favor of 'change.' Thus those who oppose their particular changes are depicted as being against change in general. It is as if opponents of the equation 2+2=7 were depicted as being against mathematics. Such a tactic might, however, be more politically effective than trying to defend the equation on its own merits.
Clearly, only very unequal intellectual and moral standing could justify having equality imposed, whether the people want it or not, as Dworkin suggests, and only very unequal power would make it possible.
The power of the intelligentsia is demonstrated not only by their ability to create a general climate of opinion that strikes fear into those who oppose their agenda but also by their ability to create a climate of opinion which richly rewards those political leaders whose decisions are consonant with the vision of the intelligentsia.
The monumental tragedies of the 20th century -- a world-wide Great Depression, two devastating World Wars, the Holocaust, famines killing millions in the Soviet Union and tens of millions in China -- should leave us with a sobering sense of the threats to any society. But this generation's ignorance of history leaves them free to be frivolous -- until the next catastrophe strikes, and catches them completely by surprise.
Despite widespread misconceptions in the United States today that the institution of slavery was based on race, for most of the thousands of years in which slavery existed around the world, it was based on whoever was vulnerable to enslavement and within striking distance. Thus Europeans enslaved other Europeans, just as Asians enslaved other Asians and Africans enslaved other Africans, while Polynesians enslaved other Polynesians and the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere enslaved other indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The very word “slave derived from the word for Slavs, who were enslaved by fellow Europeans for centuries before Africans began to be brought in chains to the Western Hemisphere. Africans were not singled out by a race for ownership by Europeans, they were resorted to after the rise of nation-states with armies and navies in other parts of the world which reduced the number of places that could be raided for slaves without great costs and risks. Slave-raiding continued in Africa, primarily by Africans enslaving other Africans and then, in West Africa, selling some of their slaves to whites to take to the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, the growing range of ships and the growing wealth of nations eventually made economically feasible the transportation of vast numbers of slaves from one continent to another, creating racial differences between the enslaved and their owners as a dominant pattern in the Western Hemisphere. Such a pattern was by no means limited to Europeans owning non-Europeans, however. There were many examples of the reverse, quite aside from vast regions of the earth where neither the slaves nor their owners were either black or white.
External explanations of black-white differences — discrimination or poverty, for example—seem to many to be more amenable to public policy than internal explanations such as culture. Those with this point of view tend to resist cultural explanations but there is yet another reason why some resist understanding the counterproductive effects of an anachronistic culture: Alternative explanations of economic and social lags provide a more satisfying ability to blame all such lags on the sins of others, such as racism or discrimination. Equally important, such external explanations require no painful internal changes in the black population but leave all changes to whites, who are seen as needing to be harangued, threatened, or otherwise forced to change.In short, prevailing explanations provide an alibi for those who lag—and an alibi is for many an enormously valuable asset that they are unlikely to give up easily.
Price controls almost invariably produce black markets, where prices are not only higher than the legally permitted prices, but also higher than they would be in a free market, since the legal risks must also be compensated. While small-scale black markets may function in secrecy, large-scale black markets usually require bribes to officials to look the other way.
No one chooses which culture to be born into or can be blamed for how that culture evolved in past centuries.
There have always been ignorant people, but they haven't always had college degrees to make them unaware of their ignorance. Some people imagine that they are well informed because they have memorized a whole galaxy of trendy dogmas and fashionable attitudes.
Should a professor of accounting or chemistry be fired for using up class time to sound off about homelessness or the war in Iraq? Yes! There is no high moral principle that prevents it. What prevents it are tenure rules that have saddled so many colleges with so many self-indulgent prima donnas who seem to think that they are philosopher kings, when in fact they are often grossly ignorant or misinformed outside the narrow confines of their particular specialty.
What all these lofty and vague phrases boil down to is that the court can impose things that the voters don't want and the Constitution does not require, but which are in vogue in circles to which the court responds.
It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader. Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing 'compassion' for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
Among the many other questions raised by the nebulous concept of “greed” is why it is a term applied almost exclusively to those who want to earn more money or to keep what they have already earned—never to those wanting to take other people’s money in taxes or to those wishing to live on the largesse dispensed from such taxation. No amount of taxation is ever described as “greed” on the part of government or the clientele of government.
The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people's money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.
As history has also shown, especially in the twentieth century, one of the first things an ideologue will do after achieving absolute power is kill.
Lamenting the vagaries of fate may leave us with a galling sense of helpless frustration, which many escape by transforming the tragedy of the human condition into the specific sins of specific societies. This turns an insoluble problem of cosmic justice into an apparently manageable issue of social justice. Since the sins of human beings are virtually inexhaustible, there is seldom a lack of examples of wrongdoing to which intergroup differences can be attributed, rightly or wrongly. Where the quest for injustice is over-riding, among the things it over-rides are logic and evidence.
It takes no more research than a trip to almost any public library or college to show the incredibly lopsided coverage of slavery in the United States or in the Western Hemisphere, as compared to the meager writings on even larger number of Africans enslaved in the Islamic countries of the Middle East and North Africa, not to mention the vast numbers of Europeans also enslaved in centuries past in the Islamic world and within Europe itself. At least a million Europeans were enslaved by North African pirates alone from 1500 to 1800, and some Europeans slaves were still being sold on the auction blocks in the Egypt, years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed blacks in the United States.
Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.
It would be very heard, for example, a basketball owner, no matter how racist he was, to try to operate without Blacks. It would be suicidal.
Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy. It's purpose is to discern the consequences of various ways of allocating resources which have alternative uses. It has nothing to say about philosophy or values, anymore than it has to say about music or literature.
What then is the intellectual advantage of civilization over primitive savagery? It is not necessarily that each civilized man has more knowledge but that he requires far less.
The government is indeed an institution, but the market is nothing more than an option for each individual to chose among numerous existing institutions, or to fashion new arrangements suited to his own situation and taste.
When I was an undergraduate studying economics under Professor Arthur Smithies of Harvard, he asked me in class one day what policy I favored on a particular issue of the times. Since I had strong feelings on that issue, I proceeded to answer him with enthusiasm, explaining what beneficial consequences I expected from the policy I advocated. “And then what will happen?” he asked. The question caught me off guard. However, as I thought about it, it became clear that the situation I described would lead to other economic consequences, which I then began to consider and to spell out. “And what will happen after that?” Professor Smithies asked. As I analyzed how the further economic reactions to the policy would unfold, I began to realize that these reactions would lead to consequences much less desirable than those at the first stage, and I began to waver somewhat. “And then what will happen?” Smithies persisted. By now I was beginning to see that the economic reverberations of the policy I advocated were likely to be pretty disastrous— and, in fact, much worse than the initial situation that it was designed to improve. Simple as this little exercise might seem, it went further than most economic discussions about policies on a wide range of issues. Most thinking stops at stage one.
Misconceptions of business are almost inevitable in a society where most people have neither studied nor run businesses. In a society where most people are employees and consumers, it is easy to think of businesses as “them” – as impersonal organizations, whose internal operations are largely unknown and whose sums of money may sometimes be so huge as to be unfathomable.
lthough the basic principles of economics are not very complicated, the very ease with which they can be learned also makes them easy to dismissed as simplistic by those who do not want to accept analyses which contradict their cherished beliefs. Evasions of the obvious are often far more complicated than the facts. Nor is it automatically true that complex effects must have complex causes. The ramifications of something very simple can become enormously complex.
I think we're raising whole generations who regard facts as more or less optional. We have kids in elementary school who are being urged to take stands on political issues, to write letters to congressmen and presidents about nuclear energy. They're not a decade old, and they're being thrown these kinds of questions that can absorb the lifetime of a very brilliant and learned man. And they're being taught that it's important to have views, and they're not being taught that it's important to know what you're talking about. It's important to hear the opposite viewpoint, and more important to learn how to distinguish why viewpoint A and viewpoint B are different, and which one has the most evidence or logic behind it. They disregard that. They hear something, they hear some rhetoric, and they run with it.
It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.
White liberals, instead of comparing what has happened to the black family since the liberal welfare state policies of the 1960s were put into practice, compare black families to white families and conclude that the higher rates of broken homes and unwed motherhood among blacks are due to “a legacy of slavery.” But why the large-scale disintegration of the black family should have begun a hundred years after slavery is left unexplained. Whatever the situation of the black family relative to the white family, in the past or the present, it is clear that broken homes were far more common among blacks at the end of the twentieth century than they were in the middle of that century or at the beginning of that century —even though blacks at the beginning of the twentieth century were just one generation out of slavery. The widespread and casual abandonment of their children, and of the women who bore them, by black fathers in the ghettos of the late twentieth century was in fact a painfully ironic contrast with what had happened in the immediate aftermath of slavery a hundred years earlier, when observers in the South reported desperate efforts of freed blacks to find family members who had been separated from them during the era of slavery.
Nothing is easier than to find some individuals—in any group—who share a given writer’s opinion, and to quote such individuals as if their views were typical.
Information or allegations reflecting negatively on individuals or groups seen less sympathetically by the intelligentsia pass rapidly into the public domain with little scrutiny and much publicity. Two of the biggest proven hoaxes of our time have involved allegations of white men gang-raping a black woman-- first the Tawana Brawley hoax of 1987 and later the false rape charges against three Duke University students in 2006. In both cases, editorial indignation rang out across the land, without a speck of evidence to substantiate either of these charges. Moreover, the denunciations were not limited to the particular men accused, but were often extended to society at large, of whom these men were deemed to be symptoms or 'the tip of the iceberg.' In both cases, the charges fit a pre-existing vision, and that apparently made mundane facts unneces