Tech’s Good, but Maybe Americans are too Whorish for Sustained Economic Growth

Since Americans have given up, more and more for the last century and a half, trying to be “decent God-fearing folks”, our cultures’ sexual morality has predictably suffered. And we needn’t invoke Old or New Testament teaching to say so, either. It can be measured in the level of care and caution and charity found in the arrangements around sex. Compared to, say, 1895, we are positively profligate.

A century ago, terms like boyfriend and girlfriend were not used to describe the romantic relations between the marriageable young among polite society.  Parents knew what drove the young and social arrangements and rules protected against unwanted economic and social outcomes of uncoordinated coupling. Marriage attended sex, not because of some silly obsolete rule, but because sex is also attended by a host of consequences best handled by loving couples–pregnancy just being one. Many young couples found themselves given in to passionate moments and temptation, but on the whole, these “did the right thing” and made the commitments after that might’ve ideally come before their unions.

For reason beautifully explained here, mostly people responding to new artificial social incentives through the progressive era, arrangements that were previously matters of household division of labor (i.e. economic) now became political. Rather than counting a man’s success in the public sphere as standard of living and financial independence he achieved and brought home to wife and family, it became status achieved compared to others out in the public sphere. Men were now encouraged to enjoy praise, intimacy and approval he once married a and loved a woman to get… from hierarchies and secretaries. Women then wanted in on the illicit fun, and, not just equality with men (which they arguably had enjoyed in well-made homes) but specifically sexual freedom. They wanted to vote independently of their households, and they wanted to shag the secretary themselves.

Since then, given the “feminist” influence on the government instruction of America’s young, our mouths are trained to remain full of cliches about “autonomy”, “independence”, and “sexual freedom/equality”, and their undisciplined eyes never stop looking to greener pastures. It’s all about self, all about jobs (as opposed to entrepreneurship and financial autonomy), and it’s all about advantage.

The typical marriage either fails or at least overcomes years of strife–repentance, a constant necessity between spouses, being nearly completely out of vogue.  Often couples kick each other to curb for the one demanding too much loyalty, too much time, too much attention, too much of everything they first entered the relationship initially to get and receive.

A healthy, happy marriage, by stark contrast, beholds a couple who are joyfully possessive of each other. There aren’t boundaries between them outside those defined by affection and respect. They are together to enjoy each other’s jealousy, so to speak. They were sad and cold and dull on their own… now they enjoy each other’s warmth and challenge.  These are happy to pay the price of faithfulness, discipline, and humility; affording themselves/each-other the stability and wealth inherent to a free and loving household.

Recent pop-relationship-dynamics, however,exemplify what plagues all modern social attitude across the culture: folks now seem to want, instead, to play the whore, revel in private indulgence, clutching their privacy desperately, trying at every instance to get an unfair moral return on lives in which they’ve made no substantial moral investment.
…Then of course they bitch the louder when they find themselves dispossessed and unloved.

We revel in debt, then despise our obligations.

We prefer power to persuasion and leadership, then despise our tyrannies.

We want our “society” and our “community” without willing to undergo the discomforts of local loyalty and caring.

We are whores who want to be loved and respected like wives.couple-fighting-over-house-300

It was from a world-class whore that we’ve inherited the main trunk of our political economy: namely John Maynard Keynes. He was raised in British upper-crust private school where sexual victimization was a fact of a boy’s life, through his college years he traveled and a-whored through southern Italy and northern Africa. His hatred of the Christian morality, especially sexual morality, was well known.

His program of perpetual personal and government spending, and position against the responsible opposite, then, should come as little surprise. And he’s not the only whore to influence our public financial policy whorishly! Many a financially influential power-monger in Washington also a-whored about the world.

It would be tedious at this point in history to elaborate how whorish politics itself has become. But jumping ahead to present to examine our current financial situation reveals  the exact opposite of the family saving to give their kids the inheritance sufficient to raise them a social class or two. Rather we’ve mortgaged, not just our children’s future productivity, but through our children’s children’s future productivity–all for present consumption.

We’re almost literally the whore who robbed our child for party-fare and drugs.

Soon enough, we’ll almost literally be the old, tired, unloved, drug-addled whore, sitting alone in the elder-asylum, with no family to love them; we simply didn’t raise one. Any offspring we had, we misused, morally neglected, and financially robbed.

But we still want our “freedom”. Our “positive freedoms”.

Even though we revel in debt, then despise our obligations.

We prefer power to persuasion and leadership, then despise our tyrannies.

We want our “society” and our “community” without willing to undergo the discomforts of local loyalty and caring.

We are whores who want to be loved and respected like wives.

 

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Ayn Rand was Wrong on Ethics… but not Compared to Anyone who Hates Ayn Rand

Ayn may have misunderstood Christian altruism and, arguably, Books 8-10 of Aristotle’s Ethica Nichomachea, but she did have her economics pretty much down. But the anti-market left are just clueless about all of it… drastic reading-comprehension failings. Not least in their complete inability to translate between others’ meaning and their own, narrow, comprehensions of words.

Self interest sits at the middle of the misunderstanding.  The left claims that self interest claims that self-interest is necessarily at the expense of the good of the social-whole. Economics (the valid kind) devastatingly illustrates why this is absolutely untrue.

Here’s self interest and in the Rand/Economics/Christian-Morality sense: you are not in a position to selflessly give to society until  the sum of your affairs amount to a net positive– or you are prepared to die. If you give out of your unproductivity, you either will not survive or will end up dependent upon someone else’s productivity; this “altruism” is unsustainable at best. If, however, you are prudent and productive with your time and resources, not only do you serve a marketplace with what it needs/wants, but you create surpluses out of which the unproductive, unfortunate or undeserving, may be provided for… sustainably.

The only possible way for society to create surpluses from which to give altruistically, is for its component members to each manage their own affairs either profitably or at least not at a loss. You can’t ignore your P&L’s and still have and use resources and “make it fair for everybody.” Somebody’s gotta the an adult.

But omigawd, profit and loss is WAY outside the left’s wheelhouse. Forget liking it, they’ve never been able to explain it. You’ll never find a lefty with a healthy grasp on budgets or resource-management or (actual) finance or accounting. They just dismiss it all, without replacing them with better, commie alternatives, as so much “bourgeois logic”.

The left’s alternative is to leave your own resource-affairs completely unattended and rely upon the state; your altruism will be shown in your zeal for unproductive (in the market sense) civic engagement.

The hell? The state can’t actually organize economic productivity. It has only the tools for wrecking, stealing, or re-allocating someone else’s productivity.

So, until he’s able to explain the technicalities of human enterprise, don’t let a lefty or an Ayn-hater tell you anything about Ayn Rand.

QRA (quick-reference-Aristotle) on Marriage and Economy

Nichomachean Ethics, Book 8, 1162a, 17-29 [Emphasis added.]

“The friendship between man and wife seems to be inherent in us by nature.  For man is by nature more inclined to live in couples than to live as a social and political being, inasmuch as the household is earlier and more indispensable than the state, and to the extent that procreation is a bond more universal to all living things (than living in a state).

In the case of other animals, the association goes no further than this. But human beings live together not merely for procreation, but also to secure the needs of life. There is division of labor from the very beginning and different functions for man and wife.  Thus they satisfy one another’s needs by contributing each his own to the common store.  For that reason, this kind of friendship brings both usefulness and pleasantness with it, and if the partners are good, it may even be based on virtue or excellence.  For each partner has his own peculiar excellence and they can [both] find joy in that fact…”

-Aristotle (Ostwald Translation)

History Isn’t Optional in the Social Sciences: our crippling deficiency in intertemporal thought

“History can neither prove nor disprove any general statement in the manner in which the natural sciences accept or reject a hypothesis on the ground of laboratory experiments,” writes Mises (Human Action, p. 31). “Neither experimental verification nor experimental falsification of a general proposition are possible in this field.” The reason, Mises argues, is that history consists of non-repeatable events. “There are in [the social sciences] no such things as experimentally established facts. All experience in this field is, as must be repeated again and again, historical experience, that is, experience of complex phenomena” (Epistemological Problems of Economics, p. 69)

In the social sciences especially, most desperately in philosophy, economics, and political theory, to fail to do diligence by history is to put our disciplines down entirely.  We neglect history, and the important work of our respective historiographies, and the minimum price we pay is complete irrelevance. Often, the price is much higher. We’ve all met the silly youth whose attitudes and speech about even the recent past indicate his complete unfamiliarity with it. He talks about the events of the previous decade, one he saw only through the window of a comfortable suburban home, in a context so obviously “this year” that all in his company (who enjoyed broader horizons because they were older in the decade discussed) have no choice but to shake their heads and dismiss the young fool’s acontextual opinion.  Though people in the boy’s company can remember, not only the events in personal and public history, but the ideas that popularly circulated around those events, the feel of the creature comforts and discomforts of that time, down to the smells of the rooms in which the decade’s news was heard and discussed, the boy assumes after only reading a magazine article or watching a movie set in that day, that he can meaningfully opine.

Most of us can also remember seeing elderly relations or acquaintances that simply refused, after a certain decade, to see things through the eyes of the young.  Every new news anchor, song released, or entertainment mode after the ones they enjoyed in their prime is uncomfortable, untrustworthy, unnecessary, lascivious*, or uncouth.

Nowadays, since the likelihood is greater that young people can grow up listening to even higher-quality recordings of music predating Bach than for their immediate elders, it can be seen clearly that many of the mild prejudices are unfounded. It’s nearly unavoidable; we all at some point will ourselves play the ignorant boy or the mentally and temperamentally inflexible old codger.  Every new experience colours and flavours even our own memories of our own pasts.  A euphoric young infatuation, while blissful at the time, might be recalled only with embarrassment.  What is experienced as an excruciating trial can be remembered afterward as a man’s proudest and happiest day. Blessedly, through journaling and other record keeping, in a word through history, it becomes possible to simultaneously see our pasts with accuracy and maturity, yet preserve for recollection the elements of the fresh experience as it happened. Without that high-view coupled with the sensations from on the ground, it is impossible to understand what has happened.  Too contemporary or immersed in a moment, and we can’t see the forest for the trees.  Too far removed in time, or too impersonal and account, and we superimpose our own attitudes and perspectives onto people who couldn’t possibly relate with us, we don’t know that it’s trees that we’re even looking at… it’s all a green patch that we assign our own favorite shapes to.

So, : 1. Cultural attitudes of present political constituencies matter very much to the political classes, and 2. Popular recollections of history and theory are essential to forming widespread cultural ideas about what solutions, political or economic, are available to them.  Because of this, 3. Incalculable effort and resource is spent by the political class to lead public opinion in directions that broader views would disallow. One-sided history is central to this scheme. Thorough history remains the solution.

Ok, we’re with you… get to the point! To put it simply, history can easily have gone otherwise.  While we are fortunate, in much of the modern world, to live so comfortably, the theorist who immerses in sound history is forced to see how so much human suffering might’ve been averted, to see how close we were, at times, to breaking through to even currently-unachieved heights of harmony and technology… We must lament our lack of flying cars despite the arrival and departure of 2010.  More painfully still, we have to mourn how it’s American foreign and monetary policy (or at least our unsavory alliances) that’s to blame for so much death and pain in places like Ethiopia in the ’80’s and in China under Mao. We must bemoan our poor race-relations and inequities in America. We must weep for the Japanese that suffered so needlessly under one of “our greatest presidents.”  We are wicked unless we wail at the impoverishment and devastation our absurd cold-war, then our more aggressive direct intervention has wrought on a once modernizing and progressive Middle east. But there is a pragmatic impulse in us that, perhaps sensibly, refuses to cry over the spilt milk.  But the pragmatic impulse too often impels us to march ahead and not feel too keenly the sting of conscience at knowing our proud society took wrong turns, choosing paths away from general prosperity and harmony.  To acknowledge such turns brings, not only painful regret upon seeing the opportunity cost of the poor decisions, but also invariably brings an understanding of how radically our status quos must alter if economic, social, or political optima are to ever be re-approached. In short, there is a pain attending such candid study that sharpens, refines, and rededicates the honest social scholar. The same pain prevents the rest from ever fully engaging in these challenging disciplines. They are happy to aggressively and intensely scratch surfaces and delve in statistical distraction.

But now, the information-age is beginning to empower the willing such that less is hidden about the history of a time and place than was often even enjoyed by its contemporary inhabitants.  The bold few will achieve the dreams of the intellectual giants on whose shoulders they appreciatively stand.  The rest of us will either buck up and join them or shrink back from the glaring light that our age shines on our timid and distracted handling of precious truth. In effect: We must avoid ever being the youth making claims about the past that its participants would laugh at, and simultaneously avoid ever becoming the mentally-decrepit who can’t celebrate the future or the present for what it is or could be. If we make a conscious effort at developing our ability see human action intertemporally– to sense things as they were experienced by historical participants while maintaining the hawks-eye view of their impact, we will likely find a solution we never expected to a problem we’ve all complained of: economics will turn from the cold calculus of social engineering into the warm and humane pursuit we always dreamed it could be.

Viewing Voting Like a Political Economist

All my favorite thinkers can muster compelling arguments for and against voting, like Dr. Rothbard does here.

Whether or not voting is or isn’t, in a given moment, a sound strategic move, we’ll leave to them for now.  I want to talk about what voting really is– or rather what it isn’t.

Voting is not an effective means of steering the ship of state unless you are able to pay enough money to be heard. Ours is no longer a representative government situation.

Voting, in short, is what is used by those with real political power and influence over both the direction and scope of government to keep us, who are without that political influence, thinking we have participated in democracy.  That things never improve in our favour must be seen as the accident of history, because democracy only works through voting.

At their polls.

For candidates picked only by their insiders.

Who fly off to D.C. where things are administrated, on the whole, by a massive unelected bureaucracy.  Whoever wins, and all the bureaucrats who aren’t entered for election or elimination, will take our participation as consent to do with government what they want.  Your vote legitimizes the actions, however unconstitutional, of anyone who wins. Anyone.

Good thing you voted though, cause if there wasn’t a ballot cast, there wasn’t any democracy, right?

Ironically, though, your vote is needed for democracy, or rather your non-vote is. Your explicit non-vote is a vote of no confidence in centralized government.  It is effectively saying “you may not have my consent for your actions from Washington” and as governance, as opposed to tyranny, can only happen locally, we definitely need to expand that roll.

On Families, Economies, and Aristotle’s Ethics (an intro)

Christians complain regularly that “the family unit is under attack”.  Many dismiss them as old fashioned or “patriarchal”.

I say: thank Christ someone’s complaining.  The fact is, though economics is yet in it’s infancy*, it’s at least developed sufficient to show incontrovertibly that and how the Christians are correct on this and why it’s a huge problem.

For instance–

“Casual sex” is a term akin to “casual murder”, or perhaps more accurately, “casual justice”. It isn’t self-contradictory… people are known to be casual about these things, but it’s easy to recognize that their casual regard for the item qualified amounts to criminal flippancy at best, monstrous moral atrocity otherwise.

Except for sex, apparently.   Not so easy to recognize for us anymore.

I once had a coworker at the university gym who told me of his plans for a typical (that is, completely hedonistic) spring break trip of the following week.  I balked a bit, as a married man and as a social-science scholar, telling him that it sounded unwise to be so cavalier about sexual morality.
He laughed awkwardly and dismissed me with a remark about “getting his seed out there”.

Of course I understood he wasn’t seriously contemplating impregnating anyone with the express intentions of bolstering his genetic line, but when I remarked (for experiment sake) that human genetics doesn’t work that way and that for any of “his seed” to have a fighting chance at economic, social, or psychological health, his involvement in their lives must be paternal and at least reliable, he stopped and soberly admitted I had a good point.**

Here’s a better point, and it isn’t mine:  If we have the capacity to apprehend and accurately forecast what interpersonal and  social consequences stem from which of our attitudes and behaviours, then, if our goal is to reduce or eliminate the horrible consequences, we must abide the schedule of ends, means, and choices of each that yield the best-achievable results.

It’s that simple, really.

If we want a positive result, to use  Aristotle’s potent phrase, we must act in accordance with virtue. This is in fact Aristotle’s prescription for human happiness, and it says nothing more than  human fulfillment is achieved through acting in accordance with what DOES exist rather than with what doesn’t.

Sounds obvious until we consider the remarkable extent to which we are able to delude ourselves about relatively proximate and uncomplicated reality.

Here are some human sexuality and family myths that modern American culture is aggressively deluded about:

1.  STD’s and unwanted pregnancy are the worst, if not the only, consequences of casual sex… And medical/contraceptive tech fixes these.

2.  Family structure is arbitrary, based on cultural-historical heritage and social convention.

3.  Gender roles are similarly a function of religious/patriarchal oppression and are unnecessary in at least technologically advanced societies

4.  Feelings, reactions, predispositions, affinities and attractions are all to be taken as irreducible primaries (to be taken as sacrosanct “givens”) and that no discrimination between them is socially appropriate. i.e.” Obviously, people can’t help the way they feel, so we are never to tell them that their desires are unhealthy or destructive.”

5. Sex, like food or shelter, is a right, and that human rights come from the fact of our complete dependence on a thing. We need food and shelter, therefore they are “basic human rights”

 

Economics by itself more than adequately answers each of these fallacies and a rejoinder to just these five would suffice to illustrate why modern culture in the west is guilty not merely of impiety, but of all-out social idiocy.
We will, in our next essays, answer each of the fallacies,  then explain how we got to this state as a race.

*some very reasonably argue that economics, like generation Y, suffers under a artificially prolonged adolescence… I concur, adding only that both are results of the success of those damned socialists.

** a rare outcome, I promise.