The View From 1776

A Gallon of Milk, A Gallon of Gas and the Ethanol Hoax

Thomas Segel projects more light onto the loony land of liberalism.  Being a liberal requires extreme superficiality, readiness to accept any idea that at first glance, from afar, sounds good.  Liberal superficiality requires that no one look beyond the initial impact of any welfare-state spending measure or paganism such as environmentalism to discern the further damaging effects that create far worse conditions than the initial distress.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/25 at 08:35 AM
  1. There is no better example of how America has finally "matured" and is now entering the Declining Phase of a nation state, than the one presented by the environmental policies enacted during the last quarter century. In Burnham's words, these policies represent "the suicide of a nation," and the destructive force comes not from climate change, pollution, or foreign attacks, but from rot from within. Bryan Caplan's recent book about "the irrational voter" places much of the blame for these policies on the stupidity and biases of the ordinary voters. And yet, Jefferson famously argued that the ordinary plowman would decide moral and practical questions better than a professor because the former had not "been led astray by artificial rules." And yet, in my own book, "Common Genius," it is argued that the intellectual elites, not the ordinary people, bring on the decline of nations. So, who is to blame ? Julian Simon gives the answer in "Hoodwinking The Nation," where he argues that the ordinary people have been led astray by the acadmics, intellectuals, and the media. These new elites have usurped control of our institutions and have brainwashed the last few generations of students into believing all "the incorrect bad news" that is disseminated by the critics of America. It is the historically recurring theme of a great Republic giving way to populist democracy--where a fiercely self-reliant citizenry gradually sell out their liberty for security--all encouraged by the elitists who hope to rule from the top, administering aid to the unfortunate victims their once proud people have become.
    Posted by Bill Greene  on  04/26  at  08:32 AM
  2. I once met a lawyer from the south who was a Republican/conservative. He said that under Democrats his profession makes more money.

    I was reminded of that when reading this article because I know that most of the farmers and ethanol producers are tied to the Republican party and have no qualms with taking the money that the so called liberal socialists have thrown their way. And even though these people know that ethanol production is a sham they have no problems taking taxpayer's money.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/27  at  12:01 PM
  3. Julian Simon was mentioned. He was a "Panglossian anti-Malthusian" and a conservative.

    I liked something he believed. As explained by a colleague, he believed "that the world needs problems because they make us better. Problems make us better off than if they had never occurred". That is quite a Hegelian idea, of the dialectical materialism kind because as in the dialectic, problems make us seek solutions and alternative, advancing and enhancing us along the way.

    When I think of it I am surprised that Simon had such a Hegelian thought because he didn't come across as a Hegelian. However, his thinking that way shows that the world works on Hegelian principles, whether conservatives like it or not.

    Jefferson was a great thinker. But if his thinking that America should remain an agrarian nation had taken hold America would today still be in the 19th century.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/27  at  01:26 PM
  4. Hegel said a lot of things--most were relatively fuzzy and incomprehensible. In that way he resembled all the "great" philosophers who opined a lot about little. Simon dealt with the reality of man's need for resources and proved pretty well that man had always found a way to solve his problems--The solutions were usually found by practical men of science and business--none of the philosophers solved any tangible problems. You are right that the constant solution of problems have made mankind more and more confident-- That is why Simon called the ordinary person "the ultimate resource" of a nation because he was the one who found and made use of whatever other natural resources were on hand, or lacking such, made substitutions and found a way to prosper--as long as he was free to do so and could enjoy the fruits of his labor.
    Posted by bill greene  on  04/27  at  07:18 PM
  5. However, it is doubtful if Simon or anybody like him could have conducted his life or thinking without there first being philosophers opining fuzzy and incomprehensible things, like those that laid the ground work on which we conduct ourselves today. For instance, there were philosophers like Locke and Kant whose opines led to democracy.

    Perhaps the philosophizing about democracy was once fuzzy and incomprehensible. But no more.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/27  at  10:55 PM
  6. The ground work on which we live today was introduced about 2,500 years ago by Lycurgus and Solon who reformed and improved the laws governing Sparta and Athens by intoducing some of the simple mechanics of constitutional democracy. They were followed by Cleisthenes who further advanced this form of government in Athens. Such systems followed wherever people were free of the shackles of oppressive autocrats. The farmers that settled Iceland established an elected Parliament in 974 AD. These virtualy illiterate Vikings also set up legal and administrative procedures based on the widespread belief in the inviolability of the rights of free men. The common sense idea of "inviolable rights of free men" is a recurring theme in history; a self evident truth. And, the concept of a fair trial dates to Solomon, Roman Law, the Magna Carta, and dozens of distant societies where ordinary citizens established the mechanics of freedom and liberty centuries before Locke and Kant were born. Indeed, it was the philosophers from Plato to Heidigger that wrote tracts opposing democracy or espousing the idea of a superman leading his nation into war and crushing the weak. It is just that sort of abstract thinking that leads intellectuals and todays liberal Left into espousing faulty notions to reverse this historical record of successful free economies. Julian Simon based his work on the actual past practices and lessons from history about what worked--not about what some brilliant do-gooder might think would work. The ethanol debacle is the result of just that sort of faulty vision coming from the environmental extremists. Sowell has written that the advent of this kind of soft-science "thinkers" marks the period when the decline in the quality of decision-making begins to accelerate. (See his "Is Reality Optional?") Fuzzy and speculative concepts may help play a role in breaking new ground in the physical sciences, but they have usually led to disasters in the social sciences. The best you can say for Locke, and even Adam Smith, is that they tried to summarize what the common man had been doing that worked or was desirable. But, simple comparison of dates proves that everyuthing they wrote about had already been done and established--put in place-- by merchants, traders and lawyers and they had done it centuries before. The philosophers were always playing catch-up!
    Posted by bill greene  on  04/28  at  01:24 PM
  7. "The ground work on which we live today was introduced about 2,500 years ago by Lycurgus and Solon.."

    So if that is the case who would have remembered, since those guys lived so long ago. Later philosophers brought those guys up to speed and made them relevant to the modern world. And later philosophers also had to come up with modern thinking and concepts that applied to the modern world, not some ancient, ancient world.

    Some people really live in the past.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  06:05 PM
  8. Some people live so much in the present it's a wonder their past hasn't caught up with them.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  06:39 PM
  9. How many environmentalists does it take to screw in a
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  06:43 PM
  10. Okay, David, it
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/29  at  01:07 PM
  11. Bob, your rage and rant is to much. I can't respond to it.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/29  at  01:55 PM
  12. What! You're struck speechless by superior wit, or merely incompetent to do battle? Doesn
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/29  at  05:11 PM
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