‘In this debate, you can see the shape of where our politics may go over the next 20 years. Many Republicans would like a much smaller entitlement state; some Democrats would like a much bigger one, with Sweden-style universal coverage of virtually everything, crib to grave. Neither one is going to get what they want, because Americans are not prepared to give up their Social Security checks, or 60 percent of their paychecks either — and no, there is not enough money to fund these ambitions, or even our existing entitlements, by simply taxing “the rich.”
A large, new ‘entitlement’ program is trying to get started just as two others are coming due and just as the population grays considerably. For some, a redistributive (your money overseen by others), technocratic. entitlement State is the goal, as ‘fairness,’ ‘equality’ and other ideological/moral endgames are at play, regardless of any cost/benefit analyses and whether or not such promises could ever be kept in the real world:
‘The proportion of the population that is signing up for Obamacare is concentrated in the very lowest income categories while Obamacare is obviously unattractive to everyone else.’
Via Avik Roy, there’s really no free lunch, and more need than can ever be accounted for, out in that real world:
‘As a side effect, medical care for the poor does not improve simply by expanding the government program. Roy pointed to several studies that showed people on Medicaid actually got worse service than those with no insurance at all.’
Mark Steyn on that ongoing court case where climate science meets all the incentives, political, personal, and monied, that coalesce around a cause/revenue stream in the real world:
‘Usually in these situations, the defendant is supposed to fall silent for the half-decade or more it takes the dysfunctional court system to get around to hearing the case. But I decided to go a different route.’
It’s getting somewhat political around here, as I was referred to this book:
“Rationalism in politics means, in Oakeshott’s challenging phrase, making politics as the crow flies, i.e. ideologically. Hayek, a student of the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and for many years a professor of economics a the University of Chicago, shows that this mode of thought is characteristic of one major stream of Continental (primarily French) social criticism, which he labels “scientism” to distinguish it from the other principal stream, which issues into social science properly understood (recall Jeffrey Hart’s essay. The one tradition insists on science’s ability to order society according to a rational plan; the other counsels the dependence of reason on nonrational circumstances, its inability to survey and command the whole of society, its limited room to maneuver in the interstices of society. Placing Burke, Hume, and Tocqueville squarely in the latter camp, Hayek shows why traditionalism is closer to the free market analysis of libertarianism than is commonly thought.”
“In contrast to both Hayek and Vogelin, Leo Strauss presents a profound critique of rationalism that culminates in the renewed authority of reason to guide moral and political life. Not the reason of Hegel or Rousseau or Hobbes, however, but the practical wisdom, the prudence, of statesmen-especially as explicated and defended by Aristotle.”
Buckley Jr., William F. & Charles R. Kesler. Keeping The Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought-A Revised Edition of American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.
I suppose, like many, I remain skeptical when I hear that men have in their minds some plan to which all the rest of us should live, even when they are well-educated and highly intelligent, and have good reasons for doing so. That can challenge the consent of the governed, among other things.
‘By many measures, Jeff Huston and his wife, Lisa Medvedik-Huston, arrived late to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They weren’t among the first waves of artists and hipsters in the early-to-mid ’90s to cross the East River in search of cheaper, grittier confines.’
Here are a few concerns I’ve produced in the last 20 minutes:
–In working to constrain the use and threat of military force to the strict conditions of the deal (the terms of which have gradually grown more lax), are you prepared to deal with the continued fallout of rewarding the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran alliance, traditionally adversarial to U.S. interests?
–In setting such narrow conditions for the use of American force, have you not inherently given Putin leverage in Ukraine and possibly increased the likelihood of raised tensions in the Baltics and a flare-up along old Eastern boundaries?
–Do you envision a longer-term American strategy regarding the bitter Syrian civil war, Assad’s regime still clinging to power (and chemical weapons), and the subsequent growth of Daesh/Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which also can threaten U.S. interests?
–By riding a wave American isolationist sentiment at home, funneling foreign policy decision-making through a smaller group of like minds and executive branch management (away from State and a lot of experienced, principled men and women), have you not weakened American foreign policy by splitting the parties and country along partisan lines in order to achieve your objectives?
‘Amis’s fear of art being viewed as pretense and the artist as lazy or dependent is clear from these remarks; and who would accuse an artist of being lazy? The answer might be: a working man. With his talk of product and workbenches, Amis is trying to create the image of the writer as an ordinary worker, to dispel art’s associations with foppishness and pretentiousness and self-aggrandizement.‘
Do you recall that massacre at a Tunisian resort by an ISIS savage? The Tunisians sure don’t, because the tourists aren’t coming back:
‘I’ve been almost everywhere in that country more than once. It felt solid. Kick the walls if you want. They won’t buckle. It will not come apart like Syria, Iraq or Libya. It was obvious from the very beginning that, post-Arab Spring, Tunisia would not explode in civil war like Syria, rupture into fragments like Libya, or devolve into another police state like Egypt. It sure as hell wouldn’t go the way of Afghanistan. That was clear.’
You tossed a blanket from the bed
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.
Has there been a better poet writing in English in the past 150 years? Probably not.
The depth of commitment to his metaphysical vision and the breadth of that vision is remarkable. Look at the rhyme and meter! Sinful.
From 60 Minutes: Hundreds of billions in American taxpayer money has pretty much been poured into an advantage for some political actors, a few green startups, and some Chinese investors.
From The Atlantic Photo: The Daguerreotype and some of the first American uses of the new technology, including San Francisco harbor in 1851.
From Robert Conquest’s ‘Day Of Dupes,‘ back during the Bay Of Pigs invasion:
‘The Communists arc concerned primarily with power. They were not involved in the original Cuban revolution; on the contrary, they long collaborated with Batista. Their decision to ride Fidelismo was a simple power calculation. The gradual establishment on the back of a genuine revolution of a parasitical terrorist bureaucracy is no new thing. To allay hostile feeling and get support, they may temporarily put through such things as land reform. As soon as their power is consolidated, this turns to forced collectivization. It should not be beyond the powers of those well able to recall US misbehavior in the 1900s to have retained some recollection of more recent events in the Baltic, the Balkans and Tibet.’
Enrichment will still be going on, and many of the hard choices facing all interested parties and a recalcitrant, revoutionary, Islamist regime in Iran may have simply been kicked down the road.
‘After the Old Sacramento moment, Didion came to see the whole pioneer mystique as bogus from the start. The cultivation of California was not the act of rugged pioneers, she decided. It was the act of the federal government, which built the dams and the weirs and the railroads that made the state economically exploitable, public money spent on behalf of private business. Didion called it “the subsidized monopolization” of the state.’
Of course, there’s some truth in this. The U.S. Federal Government is a huge landowner and manager of public lands and natural resources across the West, sometimes overseeing competition between private firms and contractors to create the infrastructure (roads, aqueducts, bridges, especially), that has made some of civilized life possible.
But yes, it is the work of pioneers, settlers, and farmers, too. It’s the work of businesses, employees, voluntary contracts and sometimes exploitation, working apart from the government. Sometimes, it really does come down to survival; new roads built out of necessity, common purpose and ingenuity.
The overall view of ‘economically exploitable’ masses of ‘People’ is a definite turn Left, though, as is the idea that an economy can be centrally planned successfully in the first place (it’s all rigged man…’they’ hate us individuals or ‘the People,’ so it’s either control or be controlled).
Rugged individualism is very common the West, but more Leftward ‘radical chic’ collectivism and solidarity-seeking tend to thrive in California and the coastal cities.
My argument would be this: By Menand’s account, Joan Didion as a writer seemed to drift away from one of the California families earning success through its virtues, ambition and hard work, bringing benefit to many more than themselves. I can’t speak to their character.
Frankly, it’s not uncommon for writers to engage in such drift either, especially solipsistic ones, while always seeking some context or meaning in which to frame their lives.
Thus, passing through the 60’s and growing up in California, having gone to Berkeley, and wandering around amidst some pretty sad, desperate people drawn to the Bay Area, Didion may well have been shaped along more radical and Leftward lines.
But, aside from such ideas, by all means, if you like Didion’s stuff, read it.
On that note: Banksy, the mildly talented, ironic/iconic graffiti artist tries to shock you awake to how the world really is.
I admit I find Disney theme parks to be rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization, and storybook themes. There’s a lot of kitsch in them thar walls.
Clearly, though, many people love them. They provide families with a place to go and spend time with their kids, and provide the kids a safe place to explore.
They’re a business, operating for profit. I get it, but I don’t really care.
I can understand that a Frenchman, living in the shadow of Euro Disney, consuming a local wheel of perfectly aged cheese might have a different set of concerns, and perhaps some valid concerns, but I still don’t care that much.
So, why ‘ironically’ target Disney, copying their model of people paying to wander through rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization and storybook themes?
Artists often want your attention, usually to have shaped your imagination in a slightly different way, or to make see the world anew by creating something beautiful enough that your reasons can’t justify your aesthetic pleasure.
So, ironically, and with politics infused, Banksy has deigned to get your attention by making something shockingly modern and urgent, globally just and socially conscious enough to direct your attention to the world as it really is.
Deep man, deep.
Surely, while highlighting the problems artists have always had with money and patronage, Banksy has no commitment to post-Enlightenment ideas that offer rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization and storybook themes…still haunting the landscape like so many abandoned theme parks that few people care to visit.
What a sad use of the imagination and relatively little in the way of artistic technique to back it up.
‘My college art history course conveyed the Modernist Establishment party line that the practice of painting was teleological, that its ordained end was the Platonic ideal manifested by the New York School of Abstract Expressionist art. That’s the message I got by the end of the school year. And it was confirmed by the many examples of that style displayed on the pages of Time magazine in the late 1950s.’
‘One such painter was Jasper Johns (b. 1930) who chose to paint objects that were already flat…’
As for the Abstract Expressionists, my grandfather was friends with Eddie Dugmore, and we had a painting of his up on the wall. I remember that it was abstract, and dark, and kind of raw.
I agree that students, when facing a syllabus, shouldn’t also have to face the great books mediated, nor their young minds circumscribed, by overt political ideologies.
‘In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
Upon hearing “gender, sexuality, race, and class,” I confess my head hangs down a bit and a sigh escapes my lips. Such a lack of imagination does great disservice to works of such powerful imagination.
Then again, I remember my last trip to Southern California (zing).
Of course, there still needs to be an intellectual framework and curriculum for the humanities.
“The works of Shakespeare contain important knowledge. But it is not scientific knowledge, nor could it ever be built into a theory. It is knowledge of the human heart”
“…in the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they.”
“And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms.”
This is a matter of deep debate in our society right now.
Terry Eagleton, British Marxist and professor in the humanities, debates Scruton below.
Will Marxism & continental philosophy become further guiding lights for the humanities here in America as we find much more so in Britain?
Are we really that thick in the postmodern weeds?:
Judgment, as Scruton points out, shouldn’t necessarily be subsumed to political ideology. I would agree, and I generally default in assuming that each one of us is the ultimate arbiter of our own judgment.
But, no man is an island.
Does Scruton’s thinking eventually lead us back to the problems that religion can have with artists and writers?
Is there anybody whom you trust to decide what you should and shouldn’t read?
Parents? Great authors? Public intellectuals? Professors? God? Laws and lawmakers? Religious leaders? A school-board? A democratic majority? People who think like you? A Council of Cultural Marxists?
‘So Cohler-Esses’ naiveté is balanced out to an extent with this sort of reporting. It’s also countered by an accurate analysis of who’s really in charge.
He ably dissects what he calls the Deep State—Khamenei and the instruments of power he controls directly, such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It’s the Deep State that executes dissidents, throws demonstrators into prison, and backs Iranian terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Iraq. And the Iranian people, try as they might, have no leverage to stop it, not even when they “elect” a relative moderate.’
‘A high-profile critic of the minimum wage, Obamacare, and the regulatory state, Mackey believes that free markets are the best way not only to raise living standards but also to explore new ways of building community and creating meaning for individuals and society. At the same time, he challenges all sorts of libertarian dogma…’
‘A judge overturned the expulsion of Corey Mock—a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga student and star wrestler—after determining that UTC’s administration had improperly required Mock to prove that he was innocent of sexually assaulting another student.
The decision is a significant blow to the concept of affirmative consent. According to Judge Carol McCoy, UTC’s consent standard wrongfully shifted the burden of proof and violated Mock’s due process rights.’