Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bookmark I picked up in a used bookstore

Quotation of the Day

"Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing."
~Bernard Baruch

Things to read

Even if you don't regularly read UR, be sure not to miss this week's offering.

We now arrive at the fundamental comedy of democratic libertarianism - a proposition no less grimly hilarious for its infinite boneheadedness. At the start of the 20th century, "classical liberalism" was conventional common sense, and Marxism and its relatives were on the fringe. Now, Marxism and its progeny are as ubiquitous as cytomegalovirus, and the lineage of John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Jefferson infects only a few nerds, stoners and other freaks. (And the world, of course, has gone to hell in a handbasket.) Is this just a coincidence?

Um, no, duh. It's not just a coincidence. Because if you and your friends can parrot Marxism and get it together to capture the State, Marxism gives you: (a) money; (b) power; and probably (c) women. Whereas if you and your friends can parrot Rawlsekianism and get it together to capture the State, Rawlsekianism gives you - what? Philosophical satisfaction? So: which of these creeds would you expect to be more popular with the masses?

So what we'd expect, just from rational first principles, is that if you start with a libertarian democracy, it will eventually become socialist. Socialism, as a theology of vote-buying and worse, is perfectly preadapted for Darwinian success in a democracy. If democracy is like cancer, socialism is like terminal cancer - the natural, entropic endpoint of the process.

Also, in the post he links this essay: The Bourgeois Revolution.

For years, political theorists have argued that developing a healthy middle class is the key to any country's democratization. To paraphrase the late political scientist Samuel Huntington: Economic growth and industrialization usually lead to the creation of a middle class. As its members become wealthier and more educated, the middle class turns increasingly vocal, demanding more rights to protect its economic gains.

But over the past decade, the antidemocratic behavior of the middle class in many countries has threatened to undermine this conventional wisdom. Although many developing countries have created trappings of democracy, such as regular elections, they often failed to build strong institutions, including independent courts, impartial election monitoring, and a truly free press and civil society.

The middle class's newfound disdain for democracy is counterintuitive. After all, as political and economic freedoms increase, its members often prosper because they are allowed more freedom to do business. But, paradoxically, as democracy gets stronger and the middle class grows richer, it can realize it has more to lose than gain from a real enfranchisement of society.

Soon after acquiring democracy, urban middle classes often grasp the frustrating reality that political change costs them power. Outnumbered at the ballot box, the middle class cannot stop populists such as Thaksin or Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Once the middle class realizes it cannot stop the elected tyrants, it also comes to another, shattering realization: If urban elites can no longer control elections, all of their privileges -- social, economic, cultural -- could be threatened.

Of course, the columnist believes that the mob rule that robs people of their rights is a good thing. He is also a pinko of some sort - isn't it cute how he calls Hugo Chávez a "populist"? I'm apparently behind the times, as I didn't know that "populist" was the newest euphemism for "communist". They rebrand so often you just can't keep up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Editrix writes about Prince Philip.

One thing he is not, though, is daft. If one googles for "Prince Philip" and "quotes", one finds the latter almost invariably labelled as "gaffes", "blunders", "mistakes" or "stupid". They are neither.

They are mostly intentionally hurting, occasionally funny and sometimes true. Stupid is none.

Such a relief to hear His Royal Highness defended for a change.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Revelations about the workings of democracy

Senator sacked me over tales of congress

I opened mail all day (which is why you should never bother to write your representatives in government: somebody like me reads your letters). And then I either threw the letters in the garbage or I would make fun of them with co-workers. In retrospect, that job was perfect for me.

But letter-writing is a huge waste of time, energy and tax dollars, on everybody's part. I realise that I played my part in this waste, so I would like to take this opportunity to put an end to it by telling you to please stop writing letters to politicians. It makes absolutely no difference to anybody.

Also, stop calling their offices. It's so annoying.