IS, The Middle-East & Some Political Philosophy-A Few Links

From The New Republic:

‘Other Muslims have romanticized the time of the early caliphs—but by occupying a large area and ruling it for more than a year, the Islamic State can claim to be their heirs more plausibly than any recent jihadist movement. It has created a blood-soaked paradise that groups like Al Qaeda contemplated only as a distant daydream.’

And IS is creating a very dangerous security threat, as they’re operationally and tactically smart, tend to learn from their mistakes in battle, and are quite aware of their message enough to recruit thousands of fighters from the West, possibly sending them back here.

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AlsoFrom Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’ Repost-Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

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Adam Garfinkle at The American Interest:

‘Muddled though the region is, the basics are fairly simple. Iranian influence through Assad and his thugs in Syria, through Hizballah in Lebanon, and through the hopefully retiring Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, has widened and radicalized sectarian conflict in the region, and the growing weakness of most of the Arab states in the face of this multi-year offensive has led to rogue groups like ISIS taking up the slack.’

And a grand bargain with the Iranian regime is presumably what Obama is still betting on, as well as withdrawing our influence from the region on the idea that we can no longer lead as we have in the past.

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Francis Fukuyama at the American Interest: ‘Political Order And Political Decay

Are you on board for a grand tour of the historical development of the Western State via Fukuyama’s intellectual conception of that State?:

‘There is one critical point of continuity between Huntington’s analysis and my own, however, which many recent development theorists seem to have forgotten. The bottom line of Political Order in Changing Societies could be summarized as follows: all good things do not go together.’

Fukuyama has a considerable investment over the years in a Hegelian Statism I’m not comfortable with.  One can find there a belief in the betterment of man towards some teleological end-point through the perfection of the State and those who work for their own self-interest in it.

What might Fukuyama have right about the development of the State in the rest of the world, and Western influence upon that development?

Related On This Site:  From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Francis Fukuyama has started a center for Public Administration at Stanford…it’d be interesting to imagine a conversation between Eric Hoffer and Fukuyama: Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’…Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin?Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Labor & Time-Kevin Williamson At The National Review: ‘Planes, Trains & The Internet’

Full piece here

Williamson suggests we should look to Helsinki, Finland, at least when it comes to technology and transportation:

‘Notably, the Helsinki model would end some transportation monopolies (the rail service would no longer have a monopoly on ticket sales, for instance) and would rely on competition among private providers to match resources with consumer demand.’

The larger principle he uses to get there:

‘American progressives love railroads and hate cars, and that is not without a political dimension: Railroads tell you where to go, which is very appealing if you see society as one big factory to be subjected to (your) expert management. And that’s really the basic question of liberalism in the better, classical sense of that word: Is the state here to tell you where to go, or is it here to help you get where you are going? And how to get there?

If you believe that you have a right to your own labor, and that your time is your labor, then why would you need a large, unresponsive, oft politicized monopoly deciding how much time you spend in transit now that technology is making other options available?

One appeal of the libertarian argument is simple: Don’t you want to pay less for a ride when you can?

Another appeal is also pretty simple if you believe in the above: Free citizens need to put the moral justification back onto the current laws, political players, and monopolies from time to time, forcing them to justify their involvement in our lives and in the markets. After all, beneath lofty ideals gather real interests seeking to bend the laws towards their own ends, and with a lot of self-interest besides.

Incentives matter, and while I’m guessing safety and public safety guide a lot of moral justification by local governments, and which a lot of citizens generally support, it’s necessary to do some house-cleaning now and again.

Airlines are partially de-regulated as Williamson points out (more responsive to consumer demand these days, so flying is much cheaper and more accessible and thus probably more like taking a Greyhound), but not all the way de-regulated.  Yet, where is the money going again exactly?  Who’s doing what and how much are they getting paid? Aren’t these regulations creating dead zones where technological innovation lags?

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On that note, one of the main arguments behind the push to pass Obamacare was the idea that you don’t own a right to your own labor nor time enough to prevent the socialization of that labor when it comes to health-care:  It’s no mere commodity nor economic exchange. You will have a tax/penalty levied and part of your tax dollars will now go to a centralized, redistributionist, oft politicized set of experts and enforcers promising to make sure everyone gets health-care on some level (ignoring many of the structural problems at the VA and various other incentives that prevent responsiveness at other bureaucracies).

Unsurprisingly, this hasn’t exactly worked as advertised so far, with a lot more bumpy road likely to come.

The Scandinavian welfare-state was held-up as a model by many progressives for Obamacare, so Williamson does try and justify his use of Helsinki as a model for deregulation here in the U.S.:

‘Imagine trying to implement such a thing in New York City or California — imagine the union friction alone — and you’ll have a pretty good indicator of why European-style policies are unlikely to produce European-style results in the United States. It is not as though Helsinki is a free-market, limited-government utopia — far from it. But on the liberty–statism spectrum, it matters not only where you are but in which direction you are moving — and why.’

Intentions matter as much as actions?

On the statism/liberty axis, I’m guessing many progressives believe that we need more Statism in order to secure more liberty, but from the libertarian perspective, such a definition of liberty is so utopian and idealistic/ideological that it can never be reached, only promised and over-promised. Many progressives also likely believe their intentions are pure enough for government work and during the last two Presidential elections, it seems a fair number of Americans agreed with them for a time.

James Delingpole At Richochet: ‘Adios Scientific Method’

Podcast here (~37.00 min long).

Delingpole, a British libertarian and anti-environmentalist, interviews Jim Steele, a conservationist who’s worked in the Sierra Nevada who has come to doubt the motives, science and incentives of many people claiming to speak for nature and science.

A heretic?

That’s probably too strong a word and there’s some hyperbole and some ideological rigidity on Delingpole’s part during the interview, but I found myself agreeing with both men often.

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As this blog likes to point out, there are many ideological discontents to whom green is a good fit apart from the natural world and the sciences:  It’s become a touchstone for many secular humanists, statists and collectivists (including some extreme anti-humanists and radical activists). I’ve come across some anti-theists as well as ex-nihilists and rationalists who want to see (R)eason enthroned while flirting with dangerous totalitarian impulses. At environmental protests, it’s not hard to find your garden-variety anti-industrialists and anti-corportatists either.

The list is long.

I’m guessing there’s a large pool of sentiment that drives many to align their pre-existing emotional and ideological commitments to green causes. Some of these people knowingly or unknowingly seek to supplant even science in the name of progress and their ideology.

Whatever you may think about conservation and your relationship with the natural world (beyond value judgments?), the environmental movement has become big business, big politics, and big money.

 

A Horse-Drawn Marriage? From The American Spectator: ‘DeBlasio’s Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban: Is It Really About Campaign Cash?

Full piece here.

The horse-drawn carriages fight back:

‘Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise to ban New York City’s iconic horse-drawn carriages could backfire, exposing what the newly-elected mayor’s critics suggest is a corruption scandal masquerading as an animal-rights crusade. Defenders of the carriage industry point to a real-estate executive who is one of de Blasio’s major campaign donors as the driving force behind the effort to abolish the carriages.’

You may not be in for Albert Jay Nock’s anarchism, but in the hopes of appealing to liberal-minded folk in a way that DeBlasio’s further Left coalitions probably can’t:

I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend:

‘But I was chiefly interested in the basic theory of Liberalism. This seemed to be that the State is no worse than a degenerate or perverted institution, beneficent in its original intention, and susceptible of restoration by the simple expedient of “putting good men in office.”

I had already seen this experiment tried on several scales of magnitude, and observed that it came to nothing commensurate with the expectations put upon it or the enormous difficulty of arranging it. ‘

De Blasio is making appointments:

“It takes a brave man to take on Albany, New York,” said Mr. de Blasio as he introduced Mr. Soliman, who joked that he had his “hard hat” and “fatigues” ready to go “for my most recent deployment up to our state capital.”

Related On This Site:  What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some LinksSandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Josh Barro At Business Insider: ‘Dear New Yorkers: Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High’

No E-Cigarettes For You-Jacob Sullum At Reason: ‘Vaping Gives Politicians The Vapors’

Full post here.

E-cigarettes could be confusing the children in NYC.  The FDA has recently been on the manufacturer’s case.

The City Council takes the smoking ban (get Big Tobacco!) a step further:

‘But the real problem with e-cigarettes, according to Farley and other supporters of the ban, is that they look too much like the real thing. “E-cigarettes threaten, in my opinion, to undermine enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last week. “Because many of the e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them, they can lead to confusion or confrontation.”

If you see something, say something.  Is that a candy cigarette?  An asthma-inhaler?

The City Council has added a new law in order to make compliance with previous laws easier. Come on, New Yorkers.

***Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with the latest Left-Of-Center activism either, like GMOs, fracking, the Keystone Pipeline, higher minimum-wage protests etc. There are absolutely no politics involved here. This is just for ‘the Public Health,’ even if e-cigarettes give many people a chance to lead healthier lives. The People’s Elected Officials are representing the General Will. I have been assured they are in possession of the latest (S)cience.

NYC’s immediate future probably involves a lot more of this: Laws on top of laws, higher-taxes trickling-down, burdensome regulations for businesses, and slowed-down processes where convenient for De Blasio’s coalitions. Every citizen shall have a voice, after all.

A video on how e-cigarettes work:

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And now for something related:

So, is Left-liberalism on the rise? Perhaps. There are many streams in which folks can drift along into a kind of communitarianism and collectivism amenable to such idealism regarding politics.   Many Americans may have been much more sympathetic to being left alone a generation or two ago.

The below quotation comes from a debate about art and political philosophy.  It focuses on a question: Should there be public arts funding, and if so, how much of your money, if any, should go towards it?

David Byrne, former frontman of the Talking Heads and art-house/pop-musician/environmentalist is discussed (there was a Byrne interview featured in the NY Times):

‘I refrain from calling Byrne a socialist, but what goes unsaid here is that our objections are to a prior assumption by believers in state power, namely that because some undertaking is worth doing, that the state ought to be doing it. If Byrne is addressing society in the above quote (and I think he is to some degree, although largely by not making Bastiat’s distinction), he is doing so as if it were an aggregate, even an abstraction. This may be the essence of the statist mind: that an abstracted aggregate of other people ought to be devoting their energies to the effort I deem noble. It’s from there that the demands flow. The collectivist is not asking you to give up expenditures on your hobby to support his (even if his has been fashioned into a career), he’s asking the abstract aggregate to change its trajectory or support the arts or something nebulous and lofty like that. Cargo Culture springs into being when such demands are met.’

Click through for more.

The days of wearing a smoking jacket and holding a cigar without being seen as provocative, anachronistic, or signaling irony are probably gone for the time being:

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Taxing soda in Seattle schools has unintended consequences.  It’s not just taxation, it’s banning happy meals altogether.

Related On This Site: Sunstein’s got to create some space between the Bloomberg backlash and the further Left: Daddy’s Gonna Make You Do It…Behavioral economics-Repost-Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’

Anthony Randazzo At Reason’s Hit And Run: ‘The Case Against Libertarian Paternalism’

Sheldon Richman At Reason: ‘Classical Liberalism Vs. Modern Liberalism’Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some Links

Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Josh Barro At Business Insider: ‘Dear New Yorkers: Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High’

Peter Suderman At Reason: ‘Administration Blows Its Credibility With Disastrous Obamacare Rollout’

Full piece here.

Key quote:

‘But rather than admit their problems, the administration offered confident spin. “States and the federal government will be ready in 10 months,” Gary Cohen, the federal official overseeing implementation of Obamacare’s exchanges said at the end of 2012. The exchanges “will be ready,” he promised members of Congress again a month later in response to skeptical questioning.’

It’s still offering spin.  I’m still waiting for more honest discussion about our foreign policy challenges as well, but I’m not holding my breath.

Related On This Site:Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Train Wreck’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Watching Obamacare Unravel’

From The New England Journal Of Medicine Via CATO: ‘The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate’From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property?… From The New Yorker: Atul Gawande On Health Care-”The Cost Conundrum”Sally Pipes At Forbes: ‘A Plan That Leads Health Care To Nowhere’

Repost: ‘A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

This will be a slightly longer post, so thanks for hanging in there with me.

From Land That I Live: In Defense Of Ruin Porn:

So what is ruin porn? Take yesteryear’s environments, our forgotten factories and collapsing hospitals, and airbrush them for public consumption. Here, devoid of their context, we can revel in the beauty of these crumbling sanctuaries.

And they are beautiful – but in ruin porn, the beauty is exaggerated and presented in a way that precludes any thoughtful interaction with the subject.’

For some examples, see Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Our author’s defense here is: Stick to your subject. Be true to your art.  Make it beautiful, but don’t make open to criticisms of art as porn, giving too fleeting and superficial a pleasure.

She goes on:

‘Little thought is given to how to reuse as much of our resources as possible, except when it is economically advantageous to do so. The ecological repercussions of our actions have also been largely ignored until recently.’

Here’s where we can argue more clearly over ideas.  Some reflection on the fact that industry has consequences is useful when staring at such decay.  We have to face up to some grim facts of our condition, including how our economy is changing.  Some environmental laws can even help clean up cities if those laws get the incentives right (big business doesn’t always have your interests in mind).

That said, I see the creep of this kind of thinking all throughout our society, and it’s usually presented as though it comes without tradeoffs.

Few people talk about how the ethos of environmental sustainability often precludes sentiment for economic sustainability and an understanding of what made Detroit an industrial powerhouse in the first place.  We live in a world of scarcity and lack of resources.  There are costs to economic and political freedoms that result from simply relying on politicians and environmental activism to shape the world.  It seems to have become a platform of the Democratic party.

On that note, I wanted to further dip into the culture wars:

Ed Driscoll at PJ Media discusses ruin porn extensively (you pesky nihilists are leading us to Hitler!), and quotes Robert Tracinski’s ‘Why The Oscars Were So Bad.’:

‘This is the dead end of Modernist culture, which sought to break down traditional values and rules but was unable to replace them with anything better. It left us in a cultural void where, as the New York Times piece puts it, everyone is afraid that “serious commitment to any belief will eventually be subsumed by an opposing belief, rendering the first laughable at best and contemptible at worst.” In the second half of the 20th century, this corrosive Modernist skepticism brought us the ruling concept of contemporary popular culture: the “cool.” Remember the original meaning of the term. To be “cool” is to be emotionally cool, to refuse to be caught up in enthusiasm. Early on, this could be taken to mean a kind of manly reserve, the ability to be calm, cool, and collected in the face of strife, or to refuse to be carried away by momentary or trivial emotions. This is the sense in which James Bond was “cool.” But by the end of the 20th century, the culture of cool increasingly came to mean a studied lack of response to values. It meant refusing to be carried away by enthusiasm about anything.’

I can understand why many conservatives and traditional thinkers are upset about the decline, as they see it, of our culture.  They arguably control less of it than before, and have much less influence in the public square than they used to, as does organized religion.  Many people with conservative views feel targeted by Hollywood and the media generally, as though it’s turned against them, espousing ideas which undermine the virtues and duties which maintain civil society.  Even the technology sector tends to vote non-Republican.

Enough! goes the refrain.

Perhaps we could take a look at hipster culture for some clarification (about much I will invariably be wrong):

Instead of how many conservatives might want individuals to live;  looking for meaning and group membership through church and civic organizations, intimacy and love directly through marriage, and vocation through traditional means of work, many hipsters (those who can afford it) withdraw into a bubble of irony, seeming to lack outward enthusiasm for anything.

They tend to seek meaning and group membership (while remaining totally individualistic) through the arts, fashion, music and popular music.  There is some real drug-use there, and a few real artists.  There are definite counter-cultural undercurrents as well.  Intimacy and love are explored further away from marriage, but maybe not terribly far (gay marriage is now the hot topic).  Vocation for hipsters often incorporates ideas of the local, communal, environmentally sustainable, and more often anti-corporate. Sometimes it can veer into the collectivist.

Haven’t we seen these folks before?  I’ve heard the argument that they are less radical, and milder copies of the beats and original hipsters.

On the conservative view presented above, we’ve gotten sick on Continental philosophy.  We’ve been sick for a while, and there are larger, Western forces at work. Just as the Western artist has become increasingly isolated over the past few centuries from his society, so are individuals increasingly isolated in American life from the traditions, civic culture and religious virtues that conservatives think should unite us once again.  This drifts us Europe-ward over time.

Continuing this line of thought, the 1960’s in American life were a rough time for conservatism.  We broke out into a postmodern flu, which started out as just a modernist tickle in the back of the throat after many long-past nights of romanticism and nihilistic revelry.  This flu involved a nasty outbreak of full blown New-Left radicalism which buried asunder the old liberalism.  The fever eventually subsided and the patient recovered, but the 60’s generation, including the hippies, feminists, environmentalists and old counter-culturalists have become institutionalized in the media, academia, and in our culture.

During the current progressive administration, under the ascendency of racial issues (progressivism has been around much longer, obviously) the same 60’s groups are now forming larger voting blocs and more powerful lobbying and interest groups seeking to extend their reach through politics and culture.  Unions, feminists, rent-seekers, a few crony capitalists and environmentalists all benefit to the exclusion of many others.

All this during a near recession!

In short, conservatives have good reasons to think they are losing the culture wars, and some are thinking there is a larger vortex leading us towards Europe.  Detroit ruin porn, hipster culture, the isolated individual, the overall drift of culture, all have conspired to make this a darker time for conservative principles.

I have to admit that upon writing this, it’s clearer in my mind than ever that neither political party has all the answers to our problems, while many people are looking for political solutions to solve many of our problems on the old “greatness” model.  This will make for interesting times ahead.

***Meanwhile in Detroit, despite all this talk, it’s declaring bankruptcy.  We’ve got problems with municipal bond  defaults across the country.  Some reflection is necessary.

Poor Detroit:

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Related On This Site:  Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?… some people don’t want you to have the freedom to move to the suburbs and are attaching creativity to political goals: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

Two ways around postmodernism, nihilism?: One is Allan Bloom Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’…  Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Institutionalized feminism, multiculturalism, moral relativism and environmentalism:  From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Economic Ignorance of Barack Obama’

Full piece here.

Culturally, the boomer retirement is going to wash over us here in greater numbers, and Medicare is the most pressing issue.  Obamacare is going to kick in in 2014, and the costs will start to rain down on each one of us (the ones that haven’t already).   You will probably be paying between a hundred to two-hundred dollars for 2014, for not having health insurance.  This could increase to upwards of five-hundred dollars the following year, and the goal is to force everyone onto the exchanges.  It is looking like a big mess.

Epstein:

‘What the President seems determined to impose on the American people is a grand economic bargain that marches us down the road to economic stagnation or worse. His policies of increased regulation will continue to stifle productive labor markets, and his redistributive programs will continue to shrink the capital base. Both of these policies will only shrink the overall size of the pie, so that the whole country will suffer. This nation deserves far better, but the prospects are glum that it will get it.’

Politically, I suspect Obama would fit in quite well in the Bay Area, or Seattle, and but for the predominant ‘whiteness’ of these areas, that is to say, without the larger populations of black migration out of the South into Jim Crow era industrial ghettoes, his green and red alliance (enviromentalist and union, collectivist and redistributionist) reminds me very much of these areas.  The culture of Southern California produced the Reagan coalition and Reason magazine, both of which are more intimately familiar with this type of culture, and a more entrenched Leftism.

It’s a rather sorry state of affairs if you believe in private sector growth, as well as greater political and economic freedoms for individuals. 

A lost decade?

Related On This Site:   Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘The Obamacare Quaqmire’

Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’.

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’Repost-’Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Futuristic Blues’

Full piece here.

Mead’s theory, in part, posits that liberalism 4.0 needs to become 5.0 and start to creatively solve the problems we’re faced with, including globalization, the decline of manufacturing and industry, and the rise of technology.  The ‘blue’ model is behind the times:

‘This view holds that the death of industrial society means the death of the mass middle class.’

and:

‘The economy is making us more unequal, but a wise elite can mitigate the harm—if only we are willing to live under their tutelage. That is what liberalism 4.0 offers today; from an ideology of populism and reform it has mutated into a defense of the status quo.’

This would include Obama:

‘Those who think that the blue model needs to be preserved and extended into the future (including, I think, our current president and most of his top allies and advisors), tend to think that under those conditions we will both need and be able to afford an ever-more active redistributive state.’

Mead places Obama in the Anglo-American liberal tradition, a tradition which:

‘…does not seek state ownership of the means of production and it does not seek to crush freedom of expression. It assumes that the private economy and the creative power of gifted individuals will remain the wellsprings of innovation and prosperity.’

So, Obama’s liberalism may stop short of Marxism, and totalitarianism.  That’s hardly ringing praise. For Mead, there’s a longer thread back to the Magna Carta.  Obama’s continuing in the Anglo-American progressive vein, from Woodrow Wilson to the New Deal Democrats, to LBJ’s Great Society folks, and the 60’s generation onward.  The problem, especially with the 60’s generation, is that they now control many of our institutions, and are resistant to the changes Mead thinks are necessary.  In fact, both political parties may be behind the times.

On Mead’s thinking, libertarians who point out the lessons of Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom‘, and Straussian conservatives who follow Strauss‘ end run around nihilism/moral relativism, and the three crises of modernity, may not be necessary.  We’ve not arrived at these particular problems of Continental Europe.

In the meantime, it’s not exactly comforting to know that small business owners, large business owners, political opponents and principled objectors to Obama’s statism are asked to either join Obama, tithe, or are called-out in the community organizing style, to be publicly shamed and pushed aside by the political coalitions he must develop and often exploit to maintain power.

It means a lot for political and economic liberty.

Addition:  I should add that I think Anglo-American liberalism has its own tradition, but there are many other continental strains of thought under the modern liberal tent, as well as in that tradition.

Related On This Site:  Where is Mead coming from?: Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

 Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Some thoughts on Fukuyama and Leo Strauss: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Charles Fried and Randy Barnett among others, testify as to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Nearly 3 hrs, but likely worth your time.  You can skip to the parts you’d like)

Originalism vs the ‘living constitution?” George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Paul Krugman At The Guardian: ‘Asimov’s Foundation Novels Grounded My Economics’

Full piece here.

‘My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behaviour to save civilisation.’

If you just do the math, the rest will fall into place, including all of those people, and their behavior.

Perhaps Jerry Pournelle’s chart could be useful, as Pournelle was a sci-fi writer who ended up closer to Burkean conservativsm.  Statism is on the -x-axis, and rationalism on the -y-.  You’ll have to follow the link.  The world could always use a few smart people much less sure of their plans for everyone else.

Check out Pournelle’s Iron Law Of Bureaucracy.  What could go wrong?

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It’s not like Steven Chu, Secretary Of Energy, doesn’t know a lot about physics, but what will be the consequences of the outcomes he wants for Americans and why?

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Related On This Site:  Tuesday Quotation: Jerry PournelleRepost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’ …not everybody has gotten the master-plan…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…I’m much more inclined to believe it is if there’s a defense of Jeffersonian liberty and Adam Smith’s invisible hand: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion? Rationalism and Utilitarianism On The Rise?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Liberalism should move towards the Austrians, or at least away from rationalist structures?:  Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…