Quick Roundup 408

Friday, February 27, 2009

Leadership in General

The best way to inspire hope in another is to show how the use of his or her own mind is efficacious, powerful and valuable. True leaders inspire individualism, not dependence. The kind of leaders to avoid are the ones who promise to make things all better for you. This is almost always a lie or, worse, a pretense at benevolence masking a desire for control. You're better off alone and not knowing what to do than under the "care" of someone who wants to control you, and whose sense of "self" arises from others being dependent on him.
-- Dr. Michael Hurd

(Poor) Leadership in Particular
Why does Obama preach gloom and doom? Because he is so anxious to cram through every last spending bill, tax increase on the so-called rich, new government regulation, and expansion of healthcare entitlement that he must preserve the atmosphere of crisis as a political necessity. Only by keeping us in a state of panic can he induce us to vote for trillion-dollar deficits and spending packages that send our national debt soaring.
-- Dick Morris

Morris complains that Obama wants to "move us a bit further to the left before his political capital dwindles," and he starts off by saying that, "all recessions and depressions resolve themselves into crises of confidence." But confidence in what? Might there be something going on that is actually gumming up the economy. If I have no confidence in my car, that's not breaking my engine. I have no confidence in my car because the engine's on the fritz.

And what does he mean by "mov[ing] us ... further to the left?" Obama might be able to force us to "live" like a little bit more like communists, but he cannot force us to agree with him. That said, does not moving us leftward have real-world, economy-harming consequences? And does not dependency breed poor confidence, and the poor economy artificially make the able less so? Does not robbing Joe to pay Bill harm both, in more ways than one?

Morris understands what Obama is doing on a psychological level, but he seems not to grasp the real causes of the current crisis, which ultimately boil down to our government's total debasement of our currency (and why it does so). So long as philosophical and political ideas are regarded as indulgences in whim, their coupling to reality (via the way they influence our actions) missed or ignored, constructive debate on how to get out of our mess is stillborn.

Yes, Obama sows panic. But his ability to do so would be far less than it is now if people could (a) discuss the crisis in terms of objectively discovered principles, and (b) evaluate political theories beyond essentially relegating them, incorrectly, to matters of personal taste. These are opposite sides of the same coin.

Obama is not just an opportunist, and his policies are not merely offensive to non-leftists. He is a demonstrable threat to our prosperity.

Ranking Them

For some mental relief from President Obama, stop by Powell History Recommends for his kicking-off of an effort to rank all of America's Presidents, save for Obama, who must imagine the number "trillion" written with multiple images of the "big O" from his campaign stickers.

At least, that's how it should be written, but not because spending trillions of dollars of other people's money at a time will help anyone.

Theory Thread

Via HBL, I learned about physics professor Travis Norsen's review of Lewis Little's The Theory of Elementary Waves. I read the review last night and highly recommend it.
It is very curious, and was certainly a surprise to me when the book arrived, that Little has chosen to present his allegedly revolutionary new theory of physics to a lay audience. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that in principle. But if Little genuinely thought his ideas were correct and wanted to convince others of this fact, he should write for people who are at least capable of having a legitimate opinion about these matters, i.e., for an audience with at least some minimal training in physics. That he has chosen not to do so is very revealing.


Note also here that physics is relevantly different from philosophy. The subject matter of philosophy is, by definition, that which is accessible to any person in any era. No special training is required to understand philosophical issues and judge the veracity of philosophical theories. So it could be entirely reasonable and appropriate for someone with a revolutionary new approach to philosophy to address him- (or her-) self primary to an audience of non-professional-philosophers. This is not true for physics.
And for those of you with more interest (and expertise) in physics than myself, Norsen is taking questions on the review.

One Mind on Strike

On more than one occasion, I have sharply rebuked commenters for blithely saying something to the effect that we should all just "go on strike" as did the heroes of Atlas Shrugged. I have done this for two reasons. First, I do not think that things are so far gone that doing this is generally warranted. Second, making such a decision should not be taken lightly, for many reasons, a huge one being that a civilizational collapse would be much harder to recover from (if that is realistically possible) than many people who broach the subject seem to think.

This does not mean, as Jim Woods indicates (HT: C. August) in his post (And see also C. August's comment there.) that it is universally wrong to go on strike. What if your very livelihood, although legitimate, has been made impossible? And what will you do instead? These are difficult, very personal questions. I am still considering the various issues Woods raises. His post is that thought-provoking.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

I have not gone on strike, but I am laying the necessary groundwork to do so.

In my case, my current work is not essential or lifegiving; I am currently in the entertainment field. So withdrawing those particular skills won't have much of an effect -- all that anybody might notice is that VFX on television have become slightly cheesier :P

Rather, the point of my strike would be to minimize or zero the government's take of my production. The overriding goal is: don't feed the machine. There are two stages to this.

The first, is to continue working, but to adjust my lifestyle to a certain minimum income, and to give *every* extra dollar to the ARI once certain savings/debt elimination targets are met. I like this strategy because it hits them twice; they get nothing out of each donated dollar, and those dollars then go to fight for the right ideas. I hope to hit these targets this year; from the standpoint of Uncle Sam and me, this year will be "peak taxes".

The second phase will involve ceasing fulltime work in my current profession in favor of one based on a hands-on, fallback skillset which would enable me to survive in any economy, from a well-functioning version of the current one, all the way down to an underground barter economy. Should I reach this point, I will pull up roots and relocate to a small-town venue of my choice (I'm partial to Oregon). I will begin work on this goal this spring.

The way things have gone, I've been wanting to ask you, Gus: if you did finally get to a point where you saw the fight as lost, and decide to "reach for the corkscrew" (as you put it in a post once), would we know? Would you post that here?

In my case, I am preparing for withdrawal even though I've not given up yet, because the planned changes to my lifestyle are not particularly onerous. Both of the things I'm doing -- acquiring a fallback skill/career, and getting out of debt and into savings -- are good ideas no matter what happens. I have a genuine interest in the alternative career option, and my two-phase approach is very flexible, allowing me to shift from from being an active participant in the world, to being on strike and off-grid -- and back -- relatively easily.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[I]f you did finally get to a point where you saw the fight as lost, and decide to 'reach for the corkscrew' (as you put it in a post once), would we know? Would you post that here?"

If the situation warranted, yes.