One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people's motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans-- anything except reason.
What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.
Someone once defined a social problem as a situation in which the real world differs from the theories of intellectuals. To the intelligentsia, it follows, as the night follows the day, that it is the real world that is wrong and which needs to change.
People who believe in evolution in biology often believe in creationism in government. In other words, they believe that the universe and all the creatures in it could have evolved spontaneously, but that the economy is too complicated to operate without being directed by politicians.
Someone once said that the most important knowledge is knowledge of our own ignorance. Our schools are depriving millions of students of that kind of knowledge by promoting "self-esteem" and encouraging them to have opinions on things of which they are grossly ignorant, if not misinformed.
Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.
Social values in general are incrementally variable: neither safety, diversity, rational articulation, nor morality is categorically a good thing to have more of, without limits. All are subject to diminishing returns, and ultimately negative returns.
Deep thinkers who look everywhere for the mysterious causes of poverty, ignorance, crime and war need look no further than their own mirrors. We are all born into this world poor and ignorant, and with thoroughly selfish and barbaric impulses. Those of us who turn out any other way do so largely through the efforts of others, who civilized us before we got big enough to do too much damage to the world or ourselves.
With various people complaining about "price gouging?... economist Walter Williams has coined a new term: "Tax gouging." But government is never accused of either "greed" or "gouging" ? not even when they bulldoze people's homes in order to turn.
Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don't need to imagine it. It's called the United States of America.
Republicans won big, running as Republicans, in 2004. But once they took control of Congress, they started acting like Democrats and lost big. There is a lesson in that somewhere but whether Republicans will learn it is another story entirely.
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.
Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.
The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.
We're not a socialist country, because the socialists believe in government ownership in the means of production, but the fascists believe that the government should have private ownership and the politicians should tell people how to run the businesses. So that's the route we seem to be going.
For society as a whole, nothing comes as a "right" to which we are "entitled." Even bare subsistence has to be produced-and produced at a cost of heavy toil for much of human history. The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it for him. The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more others have to carry their load.
No segment of the population has lost more by the agendas of the liberal constituencies of the Democratic Party than the black population. The teachers' unions, environmental fanatics and the ACLU are just some of the groups to whose interests blacks have been sacrificed wholesale. Lousy education and high crime rates in the ghettos, and unaffordable housing elsewhere with building restrictions, are devastating prices to pay for liberalism.
Because many of us make mistakes that can have bad consequences, some intellectuals believe that it is the role of government to intervene and make some of our decisions for us. From what galaxy government is going to hire creatures who do not make mistakes is a question they leave unanswered.
When a highly successful leader retires after a long career, it is very unlikely that his successor will be of comparable caliber. Anyone of similar ability and drive would have gone somewhere else, instead of waiting in the wings for years for a chance to show his own leadership.
The most basic inherent constraint is that neither time nor wisdom are free goods available in unlimited quantity. This means that in social processes, as in economic processes, it is not only impossible to attain perfection but irrational to seek perfection- or even to seek the best possible result in each separate instance.
Blacks were not enslaved because they were black but because they were available. Slavery has existed in the world for thousands of years. Whites enslaved other whites in Europe for centuries before the first black was brought to the Western hemisphere. Asians enslaved Europeans. Asians enslaved other Asians. Africans enslaved other Africans, and indeed even today in North Africa, blacks continue to enslave blacks.
To those who feel that their values are THE values, the less controlled systems necessarily present a spectacle of "chaos," simply because such systems respond to a diversity of values. The more successfully such systems respond to diversity, the more "chaos" there will be, by definition, according to the standards of ANY specific set of values- other than diversity or freedom as values. Looked at another way, the more self-righteous observers there are, the more chaos (and "waste") will be seen.
In their zeal for particular kinds of decisions to be made, those with the vision of the anointed seldom consider the nature of the: process: by which decisions are made. Often what they propose amounts to third-party decision making by people who pay no cost for being wrong-surely one of the least promising ways of reaching decisions satisfactory to those who must live with the consequences.
What the political left, even in democratic countries, share is the notion that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others.
Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence. The implications of having so many people so incapable of confronting opposing arguments with anything besides ad hominem responses reach far...
In the wake of the housing debacle in California, more people are buying less expensive homes, making bigger down payments, and staying away from 'creative' and risky financing. It is amazing how fast people learn when they are not insulated from the consequences of their decisions.
The great allure of government programs in general for many people is that these programs allow decisions to be made without having to worry about the constraints of prices, which confront people at every turn in a free market.
The minimum wage law very cleverly is misnamed. The real minimum wage is zero. That is what many inexperienced and low skilled people receive as a result of legislation that makes it illegal to pay them what they are currently worth to an employer.
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can't help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.
A recently reprinted memoir by Frederick Douglass has footnotes explaining what words like 'arraigned,' 'curried' and 'exculpate' meant, and explaining who Job was. In other words, this man who was born a slave and never went to school educated himself to the point where his words now have to be explained to today's expensively under-educated generation.
One of the painfully sobering realizations that come from reading history is the utter incompetence that is possible among leaders of whole nations and empires - and the blind faith that such leaders can nevertheless inspire among the people who are enthralled by their words or their posturing.
Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy - quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go.
Most problems, decisions, and performances are multidimensional, but somehow the results have to be reduced to a few key indicators which are to be institutionally rewarded or penalized... The need to reduce the indicators to a manageable few is based not only on the need to conserve the time (and sanity) of those who assign rewards and penalties, but also to provide those subject to these incentives with some objective indication of what their performance is expected to be and how it will be judged... key indicators can never tell the whole story.