Friday, December 15, 2006

Politics is not that important

It's often bemoaned that so few people are interested in politics, or that so few participate in it. I've often felt that I would rather that many people were not attuned to politics, and that the engine that drives political action would not require constant vigilance.

Some people get a buzz from politics, a thrill from implementing change, or being part of the progress that is our government.

I do not feel this way.

I surprise people when I say this. After all I operate a political blog, and from time to time, I spend my own time at meetings. I speak to, and correspond with politicians. How could I not, also, derive some pleasure from it?

Years ago, it was all that I could do to get the latest writings and thoughts from *Hugh Nibley (more liberal politically than myself). He once identified a distinction between goods of the first, and second intent. The distinction he gave is this: goods of the first intent are things that are desirable intrinsically, but goods of the second intent only have value in that they may enable one to achieve those things that are inherently good.

Politics is not that important, or rather, it should not be that important. Or, put another way, the engine of government is best that operates with little or no attention.

Now, I've covered Bastiat a lot lately, and I won't make this post the exception. He said that there are two types of plunder-- legal, and illegal. He had little worry about the illegal variety in that it is obviously wrong. Legal plunder, however, is accomplished by the law itself. It is a perversion of the law, and can be operated by a majority. For, when people see what is gained by those in power through the act of plunder, they have two reactions. They, either, seek to join those who plunder, or they seek to stop the plunder from occurring. Bastiat felt that legal plunder led to an exaggerated emphasis on politics.

So, when I go to these public meetings, and hear an elected official, or a citizen complain that so few are present, I recognize in them the desire that more people would flock to stand behind their own special interest. They may be interested in stopping plunder, or they may be interested in furthering plunder for their group.

I wish that fewer would show an interest in politics that do. I wish that politics were relegated to the order, in the large picture, that it belongs. Politics belongs behind family, second to progress, and under economy. Those who have given sacrifice to this country have not done so to its politics, but to its right government.

Politics and government are not equivalent.

When we focus on goods of the first intent, we do not need to justify our expenditure on a ledger, or explain it to ourselves. It is simply good. Others may not understand why, but it is only our feeling that has any merit.

We should remember the difference between first and second.

*The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 9: Approaching Zion

Friday, December 08, 2006

More reading by Classic Economists

I'm reading Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. First published in 1946, its principles are still, largely, true today.

One example is a discussion that Hazlitt has on why public policy should be based on production and not employment.
"It would be far better, if that were the choice--which it isn't--to have maximum production with part of the population supported in idleness by undisguised relief than to provide "full employment" by so many forms of disguised make-work that production is disorganized. The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of employment, not its increase. It is because we have become increasingly wealthy as a nation that we have been able virtually to eliminate child labor, to remove the necessity of work for many of the aged and to make it unnecessary for millions of women to take jobs."
Another I like is Bastiat's, Economic Sophisms. A pamphlet written to discuss the fallacies that have led to restrictive trade policies.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Law: Bastiat-What is the Law?

This solution harks from 1850. Yes, it can still count as creative, though it is over 150 years old.

It was pointed out to me in a conversation last night, that Ronald Reagan drew much of his inspiration from an economist by the name of Frederick Bastiat.

Bastiat was the Deputy to the Legislative Assembly in France and took it upon himself to expose each fallacy being perpetrated by socialist factions within the government.

Recommended by Reagan. Portending the danger of Socialism to France and to the world. The pamphlet.

The Law

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mountain Peaks of debate

There are certain issues that have become untouchable by ordinary logic. These fall under the broad head of what is called 'political correctness'. All that need be done to squelch discussion on any topic is to mention one of these code-words. In print these ciphers can be easily recognized because they are often bolded, capitalized, or italicized. When these key words are given in a sound it is appropriate to wear earmuffs.

Some sounds can still be heard with earmuffs.

When code-words are ignored by either party, which is rare since it is so deeply ingrained in our psyche, then the code can be escalated to another level.

A label.

Labels can define who the offender is without the inconvenience of a presumption of innocence. There is no longer a need to listen once a label has been successfully applied.

These key words start having their effect on us when we are very young, but they don't take full hold until we gain some experience in dealing with them.

Our programming can be reversed, but not without some conscious effort on our part. It takes two things.

Air, and exposure to ordinarily offensive materials (Not pornographic, but something that elicits a bolded response in our minds).

Listen to someone with whom you might presumably disagree, and then instead of cutting them off with a code-word, breath deep.

Take another breath.

Now for an example that could try even the most practiced of this art. The issue is now moot, which is a fantastic reason to entertain another perspective.

Moot arguments carry no inherent risk to the status quo.

In 1895, Utah was being considered for statehood, and delegations gathered to decide upon the drafting of a state constitution. One, unexpected, wedge issue was suffrage for women.

B.H. Roberts had been sent with another to represent Davis County.

When word got back to his party that he had taken the lead in opposing suffrage then the following was sent.
"DEAR SIR:_Our attention has been called to the position you are taking in the Convention, regarding woman suffrage, and we are informed, in fact the Herald says as much, that you are looked upon as a leader of the opposition on the floor of the Convention. This position is not in line with the sentiments of your constituents, and further, in the county convention that nominated you, a resolution was presented and adopted, favoring equal suffrage, and requesting our delegates to work for it. Our campaign, locally and territorially, was conducted with this as an important plank in the platform.In view of these facts, and the further fact that Davis County is so overwhelmingly in favor of an equal suffrage provision in the Constitution, we feel it our duty to ask you to not oppose this suffrage plank. If your convictions will not permit you to vote in favor of it, you might at least, remain inactive in the matter, and thus save our party the humiliation of having their pledges broken."
Roberts was asked to resign if he could not restrain himself. His Co-delegate chose to read the above letter to the entire body. (A little aside: the letter was signed by a man that, later, had Roberts speak at his funeral.)

Now what is interesting about the proceedings is that Roberts was given some time to speak, and after his time was cut short, he negotiated with the body to be allowed the final word.

The delegates opposed to Roberts spoke for an additional two days. On the third day, Roberts was finally given the opportunity to close the debate, knowing full well, that he would be buried under the votes against him for suffrage.

I find Roberts closing remarks to show tremendous courage and his arguments to be logical. I find I can't help but agree with him on some of his points, and yet the argument is moot.

It's clear that Roberts knew what could be done to him by invoking just a few code-words.
"I know, sir, for announcing this doctrine in such cool terms that I shall be anathematized perchance as a tyrant to women, a man unfeeling and tyrannical in his disposition towards the fair sex, but I shall trust to those who know me and my life not to take any serious consideration of that accusation, and I shall try to convince this Convention by an expression of my views on that subject, that I do not believe that leadership, headship, responsibility of precedency, is necessarily accompanied by tyranny and by oppression."
The main part of Roberts remarks took place on April 2, 1895.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Word of the Day: Logomachy

Main Entry: lo·gom·a·chy
Pronunciation: lO-'gä-m&-kE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -chies
Etymology: Greek logomachia, from log- + machesthai to fight
1 : a dispute over or about words
2 : a controversy marked by verbiage

This is the type of argument I wish to avoid for a number of reasons.

First, I like to play with words a little, and if I have to be overly concerned that my words will be misinterpreted, then some of my joy leaves me.

Second, I'm more than happy to interpret meaning based upon contextual clues, and purists who insist that a word must mean a certain thing, only complicate the argument for me.

Third, I like to discuss the issues, and words are merely a vehicle to carry the debate forward.

So, if I say I meant something a certain way, don't get too hung up in what you thought I meant.

This blog is not a battle-ground for logomachies.

Now, I never thought I'd ever say that!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Solve Congestion first

The Utah Taxpayer Association has suggested that only "real congestion" should be addressed with dollars, not "pretend congestion". The question I have for those who advocate expanding the roads along Centerville is this. Is congestion a real problem along Main Street? It seems the influx of funds coming from the Legacy Highway fight has turned to a disadvantage for those who want thinking to be tied to spending.

The Utah Taxpayer Association blog elaborates further on this principle, as well as asserting more, in this post. It discusses the flawed thinking that has led the idea of extending TRAX to the airport.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Is Blogging a Perfect Fit?

I've come up with a list of circumstances which might make blogging a good outlet. You might consider becoming a blogger if you are:

A reformed, non-profit, spammer. Do you forward unsolicited email to your family, or friends, because you think it your duty to 'set them straight'? Blogging can save your friendships! All those people who thought you'd become too obnoxious, or annoying, will now love you. How could they feel otherwise, they hardly hear from you anymore. They don't read your blog, and they never read your emails.

Disenfranchised. Vote not counted? Crushed by your city manager? Don't have a voice? Is nobody listening? People who blog can, at least, pretend that they are being heard because, after all, you're on google aren't you? Are you a politician that recently lost an election? Instead of sending emails, and letters to all the people that ruined your life, start blogging. Soon that warm feeling you got when you thought everybody loved you will slowly return.

Unable to make enough time in the day. Blogging will, actually, free up more time in the day. This might be a surprise, until you realize that blogging will save you from having to send that letter to the editor. It will help you to organize your thoughts. In fact, blogging is such a noble enterprise, that you'll feel totally justified saying, "I know I should have patched that hole in my roof, but I was blogging."

Far too important to be blogging. You are, in fact, the perfect candidate to become a blogger, because you have already mastered the thing to which all bloggers aspire--The huge ego. Rant, rave, blast the, so called, establishment. Bring everybody down a notch. Arbitrarily delete comments. Belittle, berate, and people will recognize you for what you are. Best of all, you get to keep your superiority complex.

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