Quick Roundup 326

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Curious Figure

Scott Powell has found an example of penetrating insight in a most unlikely place. Here's one quote:

It is philosophy that makes man understandable to man, explains human nobility, and shows man the proper road. The first defect appearing in any nation that is headed toward decline is in the philosophic spirit. After that deficiencies spread into the other sciences, arts, and associations.
I was about to bold parts of this for emphasis, but stopped when I realized that basically, I'd have to bold the whole thing. As the Resident Egoist says, "[P]repare to be shocked."

Privatize the USPS

C. August has a very good post up about privatizing the postal service which I found fun to read, and which only got better when he reacted to a comment. The following is an excellent point (pursuant to the fact that the Constitution mentions the Postal Service) you may have missed yesterday:
[I]f the predominant culture in America still understood and respected the ideas of the Founders, not just as a wispy sense of life but as valid, defensible ideas, then we could actually propose a Constitutional amendment, support it with facts, and pass it. There were 15 amendments within the first 100 years, when the first generation of revolutionaries and their immediate successors chewed over the new ideas of a government of laws and not of men, and for the most part, made them better. What does it say now that trying for an amendment about gay marriage seems more feasible than one to get rid of the Postal Service? [bold added]
And we also wouldn't have the problems evaluating potential Supreme Court justices that we do today.

Sowell and Cultural Activism

I was catching up on Thomas Sowell over at Capitalism Magazine this morning when I came across an article of his from early April. His article is about how the Republican Party blows it when attempting to court the black vote, but the principles he discusses apply more generally than just to blacks, hold true for ideas more fundamental than politics, and would be most effective for correct ideas.

Here are a few bullets, with some added comments [in brackets] pertaining to cultural activism by Objectivists:
  • Why should they listen to Republicans who act like imitation Democrats? [Not that Republicans really do fundamentally differ from Democrats, but the point is: Don't act like your opponent, and then try to sneak your own ideas in under the radar. Fight for your ideas on their own merits.]
  • Trying to reach blacks through civil rights organizations that are totally hostile to your message is like a quarterback trying to throw a pass to a receiver surrounded by opposing defenders. [Don't waste time working with libertarian organizations -- or any other group that only pretends to value freedom. They will no more aid the cause of freedom than today's civil rights groups will advance the welfare of black individuals.]
  • The truth is something that can attract people's attention, if only for its novelty in politics. [Hell, it's not just in politics anymore that the truth is a novelty....]
  • There is plenty to talk straight about, including all the things that the Democrats are committed to that work to the disadvantage of blacks.... [Show how various ideas people mistakenly accept actually have consequences that harm them.]
  • Black voters also need to be told about the tens of thousands of blacks who have been forced out of a number of liberal Democratic California counties by skyrocketing housing prices, brought on by Democratic environmentalists' severe restrictions on the building of homes or apartments. [Concretize -- and appeal to the rational values of your audience.]
I have often noted my simultaneous admiration for Thomas Sowell's rich insights and frustration with his tendency to leave off at economics and politics. This column is an excellent example, and he should have ended it by emphasizing that blacks are individuals whose fundamental need for freedom is no different than anyone else's. For historical and cultural reasons, it will be harder to reach blacks in general with rational ideas, but in the end, we're just talking about more individuals who would profit from a more rational culture.

-- CAV


C. August said...

Thanks for the link, Gus, and I'm glad you liked the article. I just wish I had done just a tiny bit more poking around before I wrote the post. I was really trying for a quick hit, one without all the research and rewrites and editing and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This reminds me of my time as an opinion columnist for my university newspaper, when I put together an article about wasteful government programs. I went out on a limb with some points in the column, and just fell on my face. Of course I didn't really realize it until I read it in print a few mornings later, and the sinking, embarrassed, "oh sh!t" feeling I had was something I'll never forget.

At least with the blog I can comment or put in updates.


Gus Van Horn said...


You can get that same feeling from a blog, too -- if you post something like I did very early in my blogging career where a major point of a post and a clever allusion both hinge on ... a blatant misreading of a news story.

And you leave it up long enough that all your regulars see it. And you really can't just remove it from the web.

That one still makes me queasy to think about, but I've been a better writer ever since!

Resident Egoist said...

"I was about to bold parts of this for emphasis, but stopped when I realized that basically, I'd have to bold the whole thing."

Gus, I thought exactly the same thing!

Gus Van Horn said...

Great minds....

Resident Egoist said...

....finish each other's sentences?


Gus Van Horn said...