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Friday Ephemera

The Intellectual’s Temptation

I was doing some research on Detroit and its decline. They kept raising income tax and every time they raised the tax rate, the tax revenues went down. In 2008, Charles Gibson put this to Obama when he was a candidate. He said, “Why are you for raising the tax rate on the rich? Because you often get more revenue at lower tax rates than at the higher tax rates.” And Obama said, “Well, it’s a question of social justice.” In other words, he doesn’t really care about whether the government raises more revenue. If he can get people mad at the rich and they vote for him, then it’s a success.

Further to this, Thomas Sowell discusses the second, expanded edition of his book Intellectuals and Society. Subjects touched on include solutions versus trade-offs, Marxism versus reality, Obama’s hubris, and how to deal with mountain lions lurking near school gates.

And remember, the “anointed” vision Sowell is talking about is embraced by people like this. And by these “enlightened leaders.”  



Wine, takeaway and Thomas Sowell.



The thing is, America got rich by making things and building things, and these days everything's made and built in Asia. Most Asians work cheap, because A: they're culturally conditioned that what you get is what you deserve, and B: in most cases they haven't learned how many different things there are to buy and so don't see a reason to ask for more money. (Side note: People in places that have been modernized for a while start to act like Americans, and guess where the labor is moving out of.)

If you can't get rich by being a maker or a builder--and trying to get rich as a banker only works if you start rich--the only thing left is politics. Which means that it doesn't matter how good you are at making or building, or even if you've ever made or built anything at all. You just need to fifty-one percent of the voters to like you. And you don't need to worry about driving away all the rich people because we're approaching a future where there there aren't going to be any more rich people in America.


Marxism versus reality,

An Occupier gets schooled.



Thanks, David. Lots of good stuff. I think my favourite bit is when Sowell gets asked what finally stopped him believing in Marxism:

"I went to work for the government."


“I went to work for the government.”

Heh. Yes, the deadpan delivery made me laugh. But quite a few people still have difficulty with the idea that bureaucracies have their own incentives and priorities. And worse, some seem to believe that bureaucracies can care.


>The thing is, America got rich by making things and building things

It didn't the soviet union built and made lots of things. What it didn't do is build and makle lots of things people actually wanted. America got rich by fulfilling market demands.


“I went to work for the government.”

I know that cured ME.

Doesn't take long to realize that in a bureaucracy, Being Good At Something is a liability and Being A Sycophant is the only skill worth possessing.

And that you never, EVER, get punished for making a bad decision, but you WILL catch hell for making everyone else look bad by doing a good job yourself.

Mr Potarto

"The thing is, America got rich by making things and building things, and these days everything's made and built in Asia."

That's just wrong. The U.S. has made more stuff than any other country every single year since World War 2. China is catching up, and will likely pass the U.S. soon, but it's currently the greatest industrial power in the World and has been for over 60 years.


“Lots of good stuff.”

Around 13:50, there’s a brief but interesting exchange about the asymmetry of worldviews (broadly, statist versus free market) and the ego-investment and self-flattery that one of those worldviews frequently implies. I quoted Sowell on the same point here.


And worse, some seem to believe that bureaucracies can care.


"No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind."
-Thomas Sowell


Any benefit is incidental.


"Any benefit is incidental."

You might also say accidental, and if discovered, to be corrected in the near future.

virgil xenophon

"And worse, some seem to believe that bureaucracies can care."

I'm reminded of Senate hearings about government provided (i.e., taxpayer funded) childcare by "licensed professionals" with a govt spokesman trying to convince Sen Phil Gramm (R-Texas) that bureaucracies could provide the same level of care as parents because"we love your children just as much as you do." "You say you love my children just as much as I do?" Sen Gram replied, "OK, tell me their names." LOL

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