3-5-11 Hodgepodge

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Two Worthwhile Posts

A post titled "Justice for Leonard Peikoff" and an addendum post, both written by Glenn Jorgensen, appear at Live Oaks. The first discusses what its author considers to be the philosophical cause of the Peikoff-McCaskey dispute.

[McCaskey] claims that a concept can be formed that "conflates[s]... very different things." In other words, concepts are formed on the basis of loose similarities -- a matter of convenience -- rather than on the basis of the essential characteristics of the constituent concretes. This amounts to the subjectivist view of concepts that says "anything goes" when it comes to forming a concept, and therefore denies the objectivity of concepts that is the essence of the Objectivist theory of concepts.
Let me state now that I am very unlikely to post comments about either post here: They should appear with the original post and the rest of the discussion at Live Oaks, subject to Brian Phillips's moderation policy, which follows.
I will moderate liberally--in the proper sense of the word. I won't allow personal attacks or anything of that sort. So long as disagreements focus on the facts there will be no hesitation to allow them. And as should be evident, I will even allow some that don't focus on the facts.

I think that this is an important issue. I also think that Glenn is to first address the essential issue raised by Dr. Peikoff. That is why I posted Glenn's article.
These posts have been up for some time, but I think they both deserve careful consideration.

Weekend Reading

"The challenge is quieting our ego and having the courage to listen to the market , even when it tells us what we don't want to hear." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "When to Nurture -- or Prune -- Investments" at SmartMoney

"Kids should leave childhood with two things: (1) A sense of being loved, and (2) the ability to think." -- Michael Hurd, in "Four Tips for Good Parenting" at DrHurd.com

"If everyone knew these things, they would start to realize that crises of this magnitude are always caused by government systemic action and would rightly begin to wonder if regulation is ever necessary." -- Wendy Milling, in "Mark-to-Market Treasure In the FCIC Report" at RealClear Markets

From the Vault

The title of this five year old post is pure comedic gold, if I say so myself: "They Could've Called it 'Rothbardpuram.'"
[N]ote further that both this project and the so-called "Free State Project" for New Hampshire illustrate by their method the Libertarian contempt for the intellectual dimension of establishing and maintaining a free society. Each project represents a proposal to establish "freedom" (e.g., legalized murder in the form of dueling) via the ballot box without any attempt to win the battle of ideas. Or, more explicitly, each is an attempt by a mob -- whose members cannot even agree on what constitutes freedom -- to impose "freedom" at the ballot box of a small polity.
Funny title, serious point.

Amusing Read on Crows

My favorite kind of bird is the raven, but I like the closely related crow, too. Needless to say, I enjoyed this recent Cracked article about crows.

There is a broken link within the article to a YouTube video of crows cracking walnuts using the tires of passing vehicles and then taking advantage of traffic signals to pick up the meat safely. I've embedded a working copy of the video above.

-- CAV


Benpercent said...

You've been quite into Michael Hurd lately. I must thank you for introducing me to him, as he's quickly become my favorite writer on psychological matters.

Gus Van Horn said...


My "Weekend Reading" sub-posts are my own small repayment (via promotion) for getting to read good columns written from an Objectivist perspective. I, too have become a fan of both Michael Hurd and Jonathan Hoenig as a result of the fact that they produce regularly.

As an occasional column-writer with lots to learn, all these writers (but especially Hoenig and Hurd, who produce regularly) teach me and provide me with inspiration by cracking into the popular media.

All that said, I'm glad I helped you discover Michael Hurd.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the notes on Tom Lehrer, the Counting Crows, and Mark to Market. The last, terminologically speaking, almost begs for a musical treatment by a former incarnation of Mark Wahlberg, aka, Markie Mark. But all punning aside...

And older friend of mine who spent most of his life in commercial real estate told me, in the early 90's, that the so-called savings and loan crisis was compeletely government generated.

As he explained, the value of commercial property is as often dictated by its treatment in the tax code than it is by prevailing market conditions. And that even if one wanted to base one's decisions entirely on the market aspects of a property you would be at a serious disadvantage vis a vis your competitors and would be doing your clients a severe dis-service thereby.

The 1986 Tax Reform Act changed how commercial properties were to be written off. He walked me through exactly what impact that had on their market values but it was not my area of expertise and it has not stayed with me. But he said that market values were cut in half by changing those tax provisions.

So, in much the same way as the SarbOx Mark to Market, lending institutions which on December 31 had a healthy asset to liability ratio, found, on January 1 that they no longer did so. And thus was born the Savings and Loan Crisis. No mention was made of the pivotal role that the tax code re-write had in all of this.

Now some of the S&L's were doing some risky stuff on the margin but according to my friend, it would not have mattered without the triggering impact of the Tax Reform Act. But the media seized on the risky narrative and never addressed the regulatory one.

c. andrew

Anonymous said...

Along similar lines, my father was once an accountant for US Steel. Everyone blames foreign competition for the demise of the United States Steel industry, but according to my father, part of the problem was that, while modern (at the time, the 60's) blast furnaces had a 15 to 20 year lifespan before replacement, the IRS only allowed them to depreciate them on a 50 year schedule. So best case, the steel industry was forced to take, as income, capital expenditures up to 2 1/2 times faster than the allowed depreciation. The couldn't afford to do that so they lagged on the technical edge and the foreign competition, not dealing with such absurditites from their own government, took the leading market position away from the US. Of course, I'm not discounting the effect of unions and featherbedding or subsidies of foreign producers, but just giving one instance of regulatory absurdity that cost the US companies their technical lead. This point is never raised in discussions of the failure of American industries.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


I think that this time around, with all the publicity Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism are getting -- and with people like Wendy Milling out there -- the REAL story will get wide enough circulation to make a positive difference.