Thursday, July 24, 2008

Farther Down The Economic Rabbit Hole

Howard Richman at has commented on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen’s call for an unlimited feral commitment to the liability and solvency of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.: "socialism is alive and well in America - thanks to a Republican Treasury secretary."
Though I appreciate his resolve in protecting American security and interest, the Bush administration’s relative opacity with respect to essential philosophical principles is, unfortunately nothing new. Also unfortunately, lucid systematic thinking does not appear to be in the immediate offing. Here is my response to Howard’s post:

It's sad. At this point, one wonders if there is any possibility of removing our collective head from the folly of socialist presumptions, given the extent to which they permeate the organs of mass-communications, broadcast and print.

One hesitates to use the word "socialist," lest we are stereotyped with a disposition of fear and constipation relative to social progress. But, a socialist inclination it is, one which I have watched expand like a blob, through the social consciousness in my lifetime.

We have been watching a crisis in home-lending brought on by the imposition of external objectives into the housing market. And, we wonder how government will palliate the effects of problems that THE GOVERNMENT CAUSED! This, by the way, is a full-time and self-perpetuating liberal occupation: creating problems that they can campaign to fix!

Now, it is clear before our eyes that real estate lending hasd been virtually consolidated under the umbrella of a couple of federally secured institutions. The victims of the consequences will not be just the taxpayers specifically; the entire society will suffer the constriction of economic potential produced by the imposition of extra-market objectives.

Thus imposed, not only is economic potential constrained, but market corrections are muted, and calamity is almost inevitable: really only a matter of time.

In the late 18th century, the first English monumental works of economics were written by Adam Smith. Smith's works were not fundamentally about numerical calculations. They were observations abouthuman nature. Smith was a philosopher. Government distortion of markets restricts potential and encourages risk and thus, failure.

In the meantime we have the consolation of reduced concern about bumping our noses on the closing walls of our economy. Think of a casino where losses are cushioned and winnings restricted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reviews of David Berlinski's "The Devil's Delusion"

This is a response to Kevin Currie's review of David Berlinski's, "The Devil's Delusion."

I have read Berlinski's book and followed his argument in other forums as well. I do acknowledge that some of his sarcasm seemed a bit tendentious or gratuitous. But, we can also acknowledge that his is a spirited response to the annoyingly presumptuous assertions of the evangelical atheists which you have also noted.

But, do you suppose that this Princeton educated Ph.D. in Philosophy and self-developed mathematician and science commentator (I have known such natural polymaths) is really spouting indefensible arguments? If you watch Berlinski's personal appearances, he is perfectly willing to acknowledge his own uncertainties and sensitivities to criticism. I think his is a message that desperately merited delivering, and I have watched for responses from the celebrated atheist evangelists. If we were speaking strictly in terms of speech, we could say that thus far, the silence has been deafening, especially from those who make nearly a full-time diversion of the sort of cynicism and ridicule that Berlinski has frankly not approached.

Myself, I make no pretense of the sort of uncertainty that Berlinski confesses. I am a Christian who is persuaded down to my boots, and I did study philosophy and the multiplied manifestations of hyper-skepticism of relatively recent times.

I don't accept Christian teaching merely on unreflective assent to a book. As I have said, rather than confessing truths "because they are in The Bible," I believe that they are in The Bible because they are true. And, the difference is anything but trivial.

In a debate viewable on the Internet, Oxford atheist scientist-cum-Christian theologian Alister McGrath in a debate with Christopher Hitchens (I also read his "god is not great...") refers to an observation of C.S. Lewis that his conversion was something like the sunrise in that not only had he glimpsed the sun, but that by it he saw everything else. To experience God is to see through a different lens a qualitatively different and infinitely richer image. Therefore I do not ridicule folks like Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, et. al. for what they cannot see. Rather, I pity them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain Flashes His Sore Thumb

I have been saying that I will support McCain for the sake of humanity and security in foreign policy. And I will support him for the sake of getting sober judges on which he will be advised by people like Ted Olson. rather than having to suffer Obama’s completely untethered presumptuous dictators. And, I will support him because he will exercise some restraint of runaway spending, which is especially important as America now faces an entitlement tidal wave, in the face of which Obama would ravage America with tax increases, benefit cuts/medical rationing, and monetary inflation, and still be unable to meet the demand, in fact making matters worse. And, al of that still holds.

However, I have also long said that McCain is philosophically incoherent, which was again showcased today. When reporters challenged McCain about the “unfairness” of insurance companies covering Viagra for men but not birth control for women (and McCain had in fact, voted against coercing insurance companies), he froze and stammered, finally saying he would get back to them, later. Here's how CBS reported it. This was not exactly a lucid and confident statesman leader, which a Republican candidate has to be. Republicans don’t win by ambiguous dithering.

There are a few essential components to an effective Republican response to such questioning: 1) you must understand that the question about some nebulous idea of “fairness” is irrelevant. Even if it were a good idea, which it isn’t, for Congress to mandate how businesses to operate, the hanging untrue assumption of the question is that government can really enforce a superior product for the customer, which it can’t. And a Republican has to be able to stride directly into that confusion and explain that in a positive way to the public.

Suppose that Congress concludes that it is unfair for insurance companies to cover ED drugs but not birth-control for women. So, Congress passes a mandate for insurance companies to cover birth-control for women. Now, will things be all better because wise government has imposed “fairness?” No, the cost will go up for everyone. The companies have established policies in the interest of controlling cost and offering a competitive cost. This will not hurt their competitive position because it will apply to all of their competition as well. But, it will impose additional cost on all of them and in finality, increase the price of insurance, which everyone already says is too high.

This simple-minded costly government arbitration of judgments like “fairness” on private operations is the province of irresponsible and/or foolish Democrats. A Republican who can’t even make a decent effort to clear the fog is no clearer alternative for voters to choose. Again, it requires the clarity to immediately grasp this and the facility to express this to the public in a positive way for a Republican to distinguish himself as a superior option. I can only hope and pray that it will get better. I know that conservatives have foolishly swallowed rash and wild criticisms of Mike Huckabee. But, he would have immediately picked up on this and, at McCain’s side would advise him about engaging a clueless media.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Howard Richman's Analysis of Bernanke's Monetary Track and The Fair Tax Advocated by Huckabee

At his Blog, , Howard Richman, coauthor of the recent book, “Trading Away Our Future,” comments on another analysis of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s monetary stewardship, including discussion of the merits of The Fair Tax: