A Brief History of Economic Freedom

Tracinski describes opposition to free markets since Adam Smith in 1776 in three phases:

  1. Central Planning – wherein the chief, if not sole, duty of man is to deliver material prosperity to the masses
  2. Anti-materialism- wherein the desire for material comfort and security is a soul-hollowing, environment-ravaging pathology
  3. Planetary destruction- wherein existing behavior will destroy earth’s ability to support humans, possibly all life.

He ties the whole thing to environmentalism in terms of both politics and spirit. The whole thing is worth a read. I object to Tracinski’s analysis in one point. He misunderstands the relationship between the free market and greed. Continue reading

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Sommers Debunks 5 Myths

1. Women work 2/3 of hours and receive 10% of income, 1% of property.
2. Between 100,000 and 300,000 girls are pressed into sexual slavery each year in the United States
3. In the United States, 22%–35% of women who visit hospital emergency rooms do so because of domestic violence.
4. One in five in college women will be sexually assaulted.

5. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work.

All false. Most not even excusable


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Two Americas?

elitismIn Coming Apart, Charles Murray says that America is becoming two increasingly separate cultures. The upper culture, the elites, talk about the social revolution, individuality and non-judgementalism celebrated in the Forrest Gump movies of the 60’s but they live a healthy two-parent, highly motivated neo-puritanical lifestyle. It works out OK for them because their example overwhelms their ideals.

The lower classes, which increasingly include the middle, see the preaching and lack the example. They lack the philosophy 101 moral calculus, strong extended family networks and fatherly advice and protection.

But it is still the case that when we legalized abortion and instituted unilateral divorce, we helped usher in a sexual-marital-parental culture that seems to work roughly as well for people with lots of social capital as it did sixty years ago, while working pretty badly for the poor and lower middle class. It is still a reality of contemporary life that when anyone can get a divorce for any reason, the lower classes seem to get far more of the divorces, and that when anyone can get an abortion for any reason, the poor end up having more abortions and more children out of wedlock both. And it is still a fact that if you tallied up winners and losers from the sexual revolution, the obvious winners would tend to cluster at one end of 1975’s income distribution, the obvious losers at the other.

Takeaway aphorism: “preach what you practice!” Continue reading

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Who is Likely to Get Away With Murder?

ScrewtapeRoss Douthat links a key failing of society (all societies, everywhere) to Rotherham.

Why would there be corruption in the medieval Roman Catholic church? …because that was the greatest and most prestigious institution. Why does a society need a constitution? …because the ideology that poses the biggest danger to that society is the one that everyone likes these days.

C.S. Lewis said it best in the Screwtape Letters (ch. 25).

The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is in the least danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.

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The Effect of the Minimum Wage

What happens if you raise the minimum wage? Some economic analysis of the idea and its arguments.

1. “Productivity has increased faster than minimum wage”: average productivity≠ average productivity
2. “Other places have much higher minimum wages”: They also have higher costs. Australia’s famously high minimum wage is just over $10/hr, comparing “purchasing power parity”.
3. “Help the poor”: Most minimum wage earners are not in poverty. They are the second earner in the household. Raising minimum wages makes it illegal to productively hire the young and unskilled, blocking their access to that first job, keeping them from improving their skills. This disproportionately hurts poor and minorities.

The minimum wage was first intended to keep blacks from competing with whites. It continues to have that effect

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The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

child-poverty-7Do you want to help the poor? …for the poor to be helped? …for the deprivations of poverty to end?

If you want the deprivations of poverty to end, Theodore Dalrymple has the necessary insight. Unfortunately, few people really want the last formulation unless they can be part of the first or second.

Continue reading

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No Boy Left Behind

Updated: By now, many people know that our schools aren’t serving boys very well. Jonathan Taylor has posted a handy infographic, based on Tom Mortenson’s evocative formulation, “For every 100 girls that are conceived 115 boys are conceived etc.”

Originally, this was a temporary post to help a site that had been Instalanched.

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