Quick Roundup 429

Monday, May 04, 2009

Voting with Their Feet

Before noting that Houston's leaders are working to kill the goose that lays its golden eggs, Brian Phillips cites a very interesting statistic:

When comparing California with Texas,U-Haul says it all. To rent a 26-foot truck one way from San Francisco to Austin, the charge is $3,236, and yet the one-way charge for that same truck from Austin to San Francisco is just $399. Clearly what is happening is that far more people want to move from San Francisco to Austin than vice versa, so U-Haul has to pay its own employees to drive the empty trucks back from Texas.
Our elected leaders enact policies -- obviously demanded by the body politic -- that destroy prosperity and yet people who have to live under such policies find that they cannot -- and leave.

This reminds me of Cass Sunstein.

This difference between the altruistic morality that people profess (and attempt to make others abide by through law) and the selfish one they actually live by (if with imperfect consistency), lends surface credibility to Sunstein's Platonic notion (summarized by Doug Reich) that:
Sunstein relies on a distinction between what he calls the "consumer" and "the citizen" arguing that our behavior as consumers differs from our behavior as "citizens". In other words, as "consumers" we act selfishly and might indulge in the inane mindlessness of "infotainment" or "sports" news whereas when we act as "citizens" we adopt the high minded aspirations of the thinker busily considering such monumental topics as "environmental protection" or "antidiscrimination". Note the Platonic separation of the world into a sort of "imperfect" realm of immediate, brute reality which we approach as a "consumer" and the higher, idealized realm of "the citizen"...
Of course, Sunstein disdains selfishness, and so focuses on things like "infotainment." As an altruist, he sees nothing wrong with this state of affairs. As a pragmatist and collectivist, he wants to use this to promote a state that forces people to act more in line with how they should, according to altruism. And as a determinist, he thinks the state has to do this.

At the end of his post, Reich points to web site focused on stopping Sunstein from being confirmed as Obama's "Regulatory Czar." And that may not be the only post we have to be concerned about. Sunstein's name is already appearing on "short lists" of possible replacements for David Souter, who recently announced plans to retire from the Supreme Court.

Fascist Thuggery

From several sources I am reading ominous reports of thuggery by the current administration on behalf of its efforts to "fix" our economy. Via Amit Ghate is a link to blog post that reproduces the following unsubstantiated story about an encounter between the "Car Czar" and the manager of a hedge fund owning some Chrysler debt:
Who the fuck do you think you're dealing with? We'll have the IRS audit your fund. Every one of your employees. Your investors. Then we will have the Securities and Exchange Commission rip through your books looking for anything and everything and nothing we find to destroy you with.
Sadly, Respice Finem also produces ample documented accounts that collectively make the point that such an encounter is well within the realm of possibility.

Glenn Reynolds notes that Jake Tapper has been looking into this matter.
A leading bankruptcy attorney representing hedge funds and money managers told ABC News Saturday that Steve Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration's Auto Industry Task Force, threatened one of the firms, an investment bank, that if it continued to oppose the administration's Chrysler bankruptcy plan, the White House would use the White House press corps to destroy its reputation.

The White House and a spokesperson for the investment bank in question challenged the accuracy of the story.
Tapper is a senior White House correspondent for ABC News.

As Amit Ghate puts it, "I strongly suggest you make your voice heard before it's no longer possible."

Caspar Milquetoast

After listening to Tom Waits' song. "The Piano Has Been Drinking" (a somewhat "cleaner" version from a seventies television appearance of his can be seen here), I looked up "Caspar Milquetoast" and found a blog that has posted several examples of the comic strip (The Timid Soul) that has given us the idiom.
Some of [these cartoons] are more wry observations, some laugh-out-loud funny. We all know a Caspar Milquetoast. Sometimes Webster used subtlety, as in the drawing where the census taker asks, "Are you the head of the household?" Caspar's sidelong glance at his wife tells us all we need to know.
Yes, I might want to buy myself a copy of The Best of H.T. Webster, after seeing these.

Past - Present - Principles

Dianne Durante has set up a blog which she describes as a "trial run for a website I'd like to produce that would offer short essays on major events in American history, with suggested readings from Ayn Rand and Objectivist scholars." It's called Past - Present - Principles and she's looking for advertisers. You can also find Past - Present - Principles linked from Forgotten Delights, as well.

-- CAV


Richard said...

Re: the "Fascist Thuggery" story. It is incredibly shocking and appalling if true (however not surprising). It's worth checking the radio show that covered it. They note some interesting points.


Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for providing that link.\