Quick Roundup 523

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ron Paul and the Meaning of a Vote

I have made known here several times my
dissatisfaction with the self-described "pork-buster," who "focuses on petty theft and turns a blind eye to grand larceny."

While it is laudable to oppose the corruption inherent in our mixed economy, it is a waste of time -- an even more valuable resource than money -- to flail about that way without fighting for the fully free economy that would make such a problem (and much worse) disappear.

But when I see someone fighting, albeit poorly, against corruption, I can still see that such a person's heart is in the right place. This is not the case with Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), whose claim that he never votes for earmarks isn't quite the whole story (HT: Dismuke), according to a post at Red State:

Ron Paul is believed to be a "fiscal conservative" and if you ask him he will tell you that he has never voted for an earmark. That statement is 100% correct. What Paul does is to make sure that the earmarks he wants are put into a bill, and then he votes against the bill. Its the best of all possible worlds. He gets to bring home the bacon on a local basis and makes the anti-earmark claim on a national basis.
This he does by sponsoring or co-sponsoring the earmarks in appropriations bills that he then votes against.

In considering this revelation, the following question occurred to me as I tried to figure out the ramifications: "Well, what could an advocate of capitalism do in office, in today's context of a mixed economy?" The fact remains that massive government distortion of the economy makes it almost impossible for certain things to be done without government money.

The answer would be similar, I think, to that given by Ayn Rand to a student wondering about the propriety of accepting government aid to attend school:
Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others -- the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it.
In that vein, I would have no trouble with a lawmaker occasionally sponsoring an earmark were doing so basically made necessary by existing government distortions of the economy, or, conceivably even voting for an appropriations bill (were it for a legitimate purpose, like the military, or perhaps if at least it did not expand illegitimate government activity). Said lawmaker would have to make it clear, though, why he acted as he did. Indeed, voting for such bills would be unavoidable in the course of transitioning from a mixed economy to a free one. To the extent that existing government controls make government aid the only way to accomplish certain otherwise legitimate activities, voting for a reasonable amount of money to perform them does not necessarily constitute sanction of the welfare state.

It is this last thing that Paul gets wrong when, upon the question coming up, he implicitly equates casting a vote with moral sanction. (How many Objectivists who voted for Barack Obama actually support his policies?) Paul thus regularly misses opportunities to speak up against statism. He also fails to open the much-needed debate about how to transition from a mixed economy to capitalism, and comes off as a hypocrite to boot.

The cause of individual rights deserves much better than this.

If you're an Objectivist and want to save money at the barber, ...

... read how hair-pullingly close this scientific editorial gets to Ayn Rand's identification of how emotions are affected by philosophical premises.

Any remaining tufts can will practically take care of themselves once you realize that author Paul Bloom equates altruism, a type of morality, with morality in general.

And Speaking of Objectivists,...

... this week's Objectivist Roundup is scheduled to be hosted at Sacred Ego. Last week's edition was at Titanic Deck Chairs.

The Anti-Federalist Papers

An old post by Doug Reich on these historical documents came to my attention yesterday when he raised a particularly interesting issue in the comments.

Two Worthy Causes

Shea Levy raises two good points as he tries to help a fellow blogger.
Through her tweets at @foodphilosophy, her blog posts at Food Philosophy, her work with the Culinary Media Network, and her efforts to make Sex On a Plate revolutionize the way we experience food, Jennifer is an inspiration and an amazing example of a woman who loves life on a visceral, emotional, and intellectual level and who works to make life even better. Unfortunately, her apartment was broken into recently and, among other things, her laptop was stolen. If ever there was a person who deserved assistance in facing a crisis that occurred through no fault of her own, it's Jenn. Whether you want to consider it a payment for her past work or an investment to allow her to continue producing amazing things, please consider donating to the fund I've set up to help her replace her laptop. The donation is through Paypal, and you can get to the donation page by clicking this link, clicking the button below, or clicking the button on the sidebar.
I am not yet familiar with Food Philosophy, but it came to my attention recently as a link I intended to explore from the sidebar of One Reality. From what I can see there so far, the post at Cogito is just as much a recommendation to embark on a culinary adventure as it is to help Jennifer Iannolo.

Why Grow a Playoff Deployment Beard?

This amusing Q&A editorial on why one should grow a playoff beard brings back memories from my days as a clean-shaven youth in the submarine force:
In general, chicks don’t like beards.

I used to think that, too. Then you meet a couple who like them. Those chicks like flannel shirts, work boots, beards, and men. Not clean, freshly-pressed window dressings with fashion sense. These women like men. Burly, manly men. I'm not going to guarantee that a beard will transform you, but it will certainly help you fake it. Eastwood and Bronson had heavy stubble all the time. And how can we forget the beard sporting, ass-kicking Mr. Chuck Norris? G.I. Joe? Sean Friggin’ Connery? Yea, chicks have never thrown themselves their way.
I first grew a beard when on a North Atlantic deployment as part of the customary beard-growing contest that submariners do when gone for weeks at a time. Side growth was pathetic, so I ditched the full beard for a goatee like the one I illegally sport in Boston today. We took pictures for posterity, shaved 'em off at the end, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

Years later, during grad school, I had classmates over and that picture surfaced. We all got a good laugh, but a female classmate who was a good friend (and eventually introduced me to Mrs. Van Horn) told me I really ought to consider growing it back.

I did, and now Mrs. Van Horn won't let me shave it off -- not that I'd want to, anyway.

-- CAV


Lynne said...

I like goatees, but I can't get Mr. Bourque to keep his on! How does Mrs. Van Horn do it?

Gus Van Horn said...


You may have blown the chance to gain significant leverage over Mr. Bourque when, presumably, you married him before making your preference known.

Mrs. Van Horn wisely regaled me at some point during our courtship with a story about how her dad shaved off his moustache when she and her sister were little, causing them both to cry. And yes, he still has a moustache to this day.

You may have to resort to some wily stratagem or other to get Mr. Bourque to grow a goatee, and then use some good old-fashioned tears.

It's either that or hope that the Red Sox make it to the playoffs, and then direct his attention to that article.

Perhaps printing it out and circling with lipstick that paragraph about chicks liking beards would get his attention!

Mike said...

Women are hardwired to like beards because they are unmistakable indicators of masculinity, and they are hardwired to seek a masculine mate in order to give birth to the strongest possible offspring. Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. :)

This can be seen in pop culture as well, such as in the movie "300," where Leonidas sports a very Mediterranean thick beard while Xerxes is clean-shaven and androgynous.

I have taken to wearing a soul patch, and my wife taunts me about it ceaselessly. Damnable woman! :) On the positive side, she has decreed that there will always be one long-haired adult in our home, and allowed me to decide which of the two of us that will be. As men are hardwired to like long-haired women (as it signifies fertility), this was a great way to get something I wanted with a negligible sacrifice on my part. (Given my default indifference, I would never cut hair or shave otherwise.)

Lynne said...

"It's either that or hope that the Red Sox make it to the playoffs, and then direct his attention to that article."

That's what I'm afraid of. Have you seen Josh Beckett's facial hair? Ew.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hmmm, this post seems to be growing quite a tangled beard of comments, does it not?

Mike, I must confess that the amusement I got from hearing about your wife's needling you over your soul patch was greatly enhanced and amplified by Lynne's second post!

I never knew that growing a soul patch could be such a hard road...

Amusing juxtapositions of differing optional value preferences aside, it's funny that you bring up hair length. The men of the Van Horn lineage are either-or on the question of taste in hair length. My dad's father, my uncle, and I can't stand long hair on men, while my Dad and both of my brothers prefer long hair. (For professional reasons, my Dad wore his short as does one of my brothers.) I've grown more tolerant of long hair on men over the years and will now even concede that it "works" for some guys. (That said, I am definitely not one of them.)

Mo said...

I thought the article in Nature was way off actually.

Gus Van Horn said...

You know, it IS way off.

It would have been better for me to say that I saw point after point that could have been easily fixed by a proper understanding of the nature of emotions.

That's enough, too, to make one pull his hair out!

Jim May said...

My wife is the opposite; beards mean whisker burn for her.

Gus Van Horn said...

That column does conveniently gloss over that problem, does it not?