Archive for the ‘History’ Category.

The Company Man and the Obamaphone Lady

F. A. Hayek worried (presciently, as it turns out) that the two faces of dependency—as public ward or as hireling—would encourage certain undesirable mental and political habits, a kind of deep-set servility born of the delegation of basic responsibilities from the individual and the family to large bureaucracies, public or private. The Company Man and the Obamaphone Lady have more in common than you’d think.
. . .
It was not that long ago that independent proprietorship was an ordinary form of economic organization, and that working for wages was seen as only a step removed from serfdom.

Kevin Williamson

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Happy Easter!

“a waterfall of blood”

Crucifixion: It’s Not Ancient History Anymore

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

Saint Pope John Paul II

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Mockery, Truculence, and Minimalist Living = Irish Democracy

President Blah Blah Blah, President Poofter

There are many who have expressed the opinion over the years that the United States should go down some sort of “revolutionary” road. The topic has come up repeatedly in various areas of what was Tickerforum and I have repeatedly slapped it down, noting that only a fool who pays no attention to history pines for such a thing irrespective of how bad you may think the situation is.
. . .
Folks, the simple fact is that odds are 100:1 you’re going to get a bad result when you go down the road of violence. There are far too many people who think that when you take such a path you get a Thomas Jefferson moment.

The fact is that most of the time what you actually get is a Pinochet moment.

There are many means of non-violent action, including but not limited to withdrawing your consent by working less and reducing your footprint — and thus the ability of government to sustain its own size.

That’s lawful, by the way.

What raises my eyebrows are those who argue that this sort of perfectly-lawful choice will never work because the people won’t do it, yet at the same time they want to make noise about committing violence. Well, not only will most people not go along with that, but in addition the odds of a good outcome from getting involved in violence are much smaller than the odds from taking lawful and peaceful action instead!

Ukraine: A Warning To Those Who Are Fools

Irish Democracy

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Dunbar Number, Reason Video Awards, George Washington, Rent Seeking, Fascism

The answer isn’t 42. It is 150.


Meet Puddles: The Giant Sad Clown with the Golden Voice
Walking Tall With Atlanta’s Big Mike Geier
Mike Geier
Dames Aflame!
King-sized Mike Geier continues to follow his ever-growing, ever-eclectic muse
Interview at Teatro ZinZanni

Working with the anthropologist Russell Hill, [ evolutionary psychologist Robin] Dunbar pieced together the average English household’s network of yuletide cheer. The researchers were able to report, for example, that about a quarter of cards went to relatives, nearly two-thirds to friends, and 8 percent to colleagues. The primary finding of the study, however, was a single number: the total population of the households each set of cards went out to. That number was 153.5, or roughly 150.

This was exactly the number that Dunbar expected. Over the past two decades, he and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked. Anthropologists studying the world’s remaining hunter-gatherer societies have found that clans tend to have 150 members. Throughout Western military history, the size of the company—the smallest autonomous military unit—has hovered around 150. The self-governing communes of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect similar to the Amish and the Mennonites, always split when they grow larger than 150. So do the offices of W.L. Gore & Associates, the materials firm famous for innovative products such as Gore-Tex and for its radically nonhierarchical management structure. When a branch exceeds 150 employees, the company breaks it in two and builds a new office.

The Dunbar Number, From the Guru of Social Networks

It is also the answer to “How Many People ‘Should’ You Invite To Your Wedding?

It is impossible for Americans to accept the extent to which the Colonial period—including our most sacred political events—was suffused with alcohol. Protestant churches had wine with communion, the standard beverage at meals was beer or cider, and alcohol was served even at political gatherings. Alcohol was consumed at meetings of the Virginian and other state legislatures and, most of all, at the Constitutional Convention.

Indeed, we still have available the list of beverages served at a 1787 farewell party in Philadelphia for George Washington just days before the framers signed off on the Constitution. According to the bill preserved from the evening, the 55 attendees drank 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

George Washington: Boozehound. Prodigious alcohol consumption by Washington and his fellow founding fathers has been whitewashed from American history.

More after the jump.

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Misc Stuff

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Jury Nullification

Jury Nullification: Wikipedia |

Fully Informed Jury Association

Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine

Jury Nullification

How Jury Nullification Accelerates the Drug War’s Demise

Juries do not only decide guilt or innocence; they can also serve as checks on unjust laws. Judges will not tell you about your right to nullify….

Just say no

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President Asterisk Expands the Imperial Presidency

It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.

G.K. Chesterton

Benghazi, IRS, AP, Fast and Furious, NSA, Obamacare.

Mockery and truculence are called for to properly honor the Moral Preener in Chief.

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This beautiful, wonderful world

“Because of this evening, I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.”
Gabriel Axel, quoting a line from Babette’s Feast, a movie he directed


“What a wonderful world,” sung by Louis Armstrong

“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”
G.K. Chesterton

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Libertarian, Classical Liberal: Richard Epstein

Libertarians fall into two distinct groups: strict libertarians like Rand Paul and classical liberals such as myself. “Classical liberal” is not a term that rolls off of the tongue. Consequently, “libertarian” is the choice term in popular discourse when discussing policies that favor limited government. Libertarians of all stripes oppose President Obama’s endless attacks on market institutions and the rich. The umbrella term comfortably embraces both strands of libertarian theory vis-à-vis a common intellectual foe.

It is important to understand the differences in views between the strong libertarian and classical liberal position. Serious hard-line libertarian thinkers include Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. Rothbard believes nonaggression is the sole requirement of a just social order. For Hess, “libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit.” There are large kernels of truth in both propositions. It is quite impossible to see how any social order could be maintained if there were no limitations against the use, or threatened use, of force to enslave or butcher other people, which Hess’s proposition of absolute self-ownership strongly counteracts.

Yet the overarching question is how does a group of people move from the Hobbesian “war of all against all” toward a peaceful society? Hess claims that stable institutions are created by “voluntary association and cooperation.” Again, strong libertarians are on solid ground in defending (most) private contracts against government interference, which is why Lochner v. New York (1905), reviled as it is by most constitutional thinkers, was right in striking down New York’s sixty hours per week maximum labor statute. Yet the hard-line libertarian position badly misfires in assuming that any set of voluntary contracts can solve the far larger problem of social order, which, as Rothbard notes, in practice requires each and every citizen to relinquish the use force against all others. Voluntary cooperation cannot secure unanimous consent, because the one violent holdout could upset the peace and tranquility of all others.

The sad experience of history is that high transaction costs and nonstop opportunism wreck the widespread voluntary effort to create a grand social alliance to limit the use of force. Society needs a coercive mechanism strong enough to keep defectors in line, but fair enough to command the allegiance of individuals, who must share the costs of creating that larger and mutually beneficial social order. The social contract that Locke said brought individuals out of the state of nature was one such device. The want of individual consent was displaced by a consciously designed substantive program to protect both liberty and property in ways that left all members of society better off than they were in the state of nature. Only constrained coercion can overcome the holdout problems needed to implement any principle of nonaggression.

The flat tax is preferred because it reduces private incentives to game the tax system and, likewise, the ability of government officials to unfairly target their opponents. The optimal theory of taxation minimizes the distortions created by the need to fund the government activities that maintain public order and supply infrastructure. The classical liberal thus agrees with the hard-line libertarian that progressive taxation, with its endless loopholes, is unsustainable in the long run. At the same time, the classical liberal finds it incomprehensible that anyone would want to condemn all taxes as government theft from a hapless citizenry. The hard-line libertarian’s blanket condemnation of taxes as theft means that he can add nothing to the discussion of which tax should be preferred and why. The classical liberal has a lot to say on that subject against both the hard-line libertarian and the modern progressive.

My Rand Paul Problem: Why classical liberalism is superior to hard-core libertarianism.

Acton Institute, Cato Institute

Wikipedia: Libertarianism | Classical Liberalism | Christian Libertarianism

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We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.

Newspapers are filled with stories (example) about how Russia’s Sochi Olympics construction has cost a lot of money due to “corruption.” I asked my in-apartment Russian experts what this might mean. It turns out that cronies of the government are getting paid more-than-standard-commercial rates to build stuff. So taxpayer funds are being transferred to the politically connected.

I’m wondering how this is different than the U.S. military, which is ridiculously expensive but not typically labeled “corrupt.” TIME reports that the cost of a USAF Boeing 757 (C-32A) is about $43,000 per hour to the taxpayers; Conklin & De Decker says that $12,000 per hour is about what an airline would spend to fly one extra hour in the same airplane. In December, I wrote about how the U.S. Army is planning to do primary helicopter training in $6 million Eurocopters (foreign militaries and private flight schools get this done in aircraft that cost about 1/20th as much)

Is Russia’s Sochi project more corrupt than the U.S. military?

Sochi cf. military industrial complex

‘What Eisenhower Said About the Military-Industrial Complex Is True’

“Politics itself is nothing but an attempt to achieve power and prestige without merit.”
P.J. O’Rourke

The War on Drugs, another disaster. A half century, billions of dollars, countless stupid laws, Mexico a war zone. Result? Every drug known to man, woman, or hermaphrodite is for sale at great prices in every high school in America. Another triumph of private enterprise over governmental regulation. If Washington tried to provide free drugs, it couldn’t come close. No one would be able to get so much as an aspirin.

Infinite Arrogance, Infinite Incompetence

Downsizing Government


Yeah! Studebaker!


Yeah! War on Drugs!


Yeah! Big government coalition!

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