Friday, August 26, 2011

Some Good Wording from Victor Davis Hanson

Here's some excellent wording from Victor Davis Hanson.
Despite nearly $15 trillion in federal debt, the administration apparently wants to defy the rules of logic and do more of what made things worse in the first place, under the euphemism of “investments.” American popular culture has coined all sorts of proverbial warnings about such mindless devotion to destructive rote: “Don’t flog a dead horse,” “If you are in a hole, stop digging,” and “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

No matter: The administration still adheres to the logical fallacy that the toxic medicine cannot be proven to be useless or harmful, because there was supposedly never enough of it given. And the proof is that the worsening patient is still not quite dead.
That there is never enough spending is a seductive fallacy because it never requires any empirical proof: If millions of those supported by the state have lost their self-reliance and self-initiative, perhaps it is because millions supported by the state were not supported well enough, and so in response, some resorted to stealing things they could not afford.


Ed Darrell said...

It's difficult to reconcile the idea of someone who recommends Bob Park's blog, and approves of Victor Hanson's blather at the same time.

But then I look closer. You missed the boat completely. You didn't even recommend the right Bob Park, but some imposter named Parks. You missed reality by one letter.

Reality is not an opinion, not that I expect you'll ever change your opinion on that.

Lay off of Morgan's blog for a while, maybe read some science or something. You may not feel better in the morning, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

philmon said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is so refreshing to see a comment from a progressive directed at me that is dripping with condescension and ad hominem and little else.

I might take the time to engage you in polite disagreement, but it seems that I've been given no point of disagreement on Mr. Hanson's wording upon which to engage. I'm merely left with the distinct impression that you disapprove of what and whom I choose to read, and that it would do me some good to be exposed to some "real science" while you helpfully point me to a government website. Since government agencies are the very apex of science and can always be relied upon to be apolitical, it only stands to reason that when one wants real science, one should head straight to a government website and nowhere else.

I appreciate your genuine concern for my happiness, but it is with equal conern for you that I am happy to be able to calm your anxiety by reporting that my happiness is, in fact, quite intact. Let me reciprocate your concern by helpfully advising that if reading my blog continues to stress you so, I recommend that you "lay off" reading it.

Ed Darrell said...

Start with his inflation of federal spending under Obama. He's off by a factor of at least 10. Maybe 15.

Were he correct in his philosophy, he would not need to exaggerate the numbers.

Ed Darrell said...

Then, try to fit Hanson's words into any economic theory from the free world. Try von Mises. Heck, try the comic-book version of von Hayek.

I suppose it's fair to say that Hanson does not overtly repudiate free markets and capitalist economic theory -- but he pays it no mind. That may be worse.

Investing in America makes things work. The original founding group gave away land, but insisted some of the proceeds go to establish public schools, which they said protect freedom and freedom of thought (including religion). Hanson opposes that.

Lincoln gave away millions of acres of lands, free, to the railroads, to encourage them to build transcontinental routes, a make-work project. Hanson, I gather from what you've got here and the other stuff he writes, regards the transcontinental rail system as "digging the hole deeper."

Our fathers went into greater debt than we have now, to pay to revive the economic fortunes of our enemies in World War II, Japan and Germany and Italy -- and our allies, on the assumption that economic development could establish a foundation for greater prosperity for everybody, and lasting peace.

They were right. But Hanson opposes such spending now.

No ad hominem. Just the facts. It sounds insane.

You call it "excellent wording." Well crafted, perhaps -- but still, insane, divorced from reality, a sure path to the dim wasteland in the slough from the formerly shining city on a hill.

Logical fallacy? He doesn't specify any, other than a broad, inaccurate generalization. "Toxic Medicine" is a more apt description for the "tax the poor to give to the wealthy" system we have now, which has been crushing jobs and prosperity in America for ten years now.

You could be right. He might be sane. But if he is, he isn't on America's side.

philmon said...

I am much less interested in economic theory than I am in economic fact and due attention to the principles of liberty and property rights. There are all kinds of economic theories, and they are used mainly to justify state control of economies, and the more state control of an economy, the worse you can expect it to end in the long run. Sometimes even the medium run. I am not interested on which academic theories are popular right now. They're fads, and there's no peanalty to the theorists for being wrong.

Which is part of what Hanson is getting at. We keep trying Keynes, it keeps not working and keeps putting us into greater debt, and the answer is always the same. "Well we didn't do it enough." The toxic medicine analogy is apt, and it illustrates the logical fallacy that you somehow missed. If I keep feeding the patient cyanide because my theory says it will cure him -- and he isn't cured ... my parallel reasons would be that he hadn't received enough cyanide, and that his worsening condition was clearly better than it would have been if I had given him no cyanide at all. Since I can't be proven wrong, I can say I'm right! That's the logical fallacy.

We just supposedly invested a metric shit-ton in America, and not only is the money gone with nothing to show for it, everybody else's money is worth less as we keep printing up money ... ahem, I mean performing "quantitative easements" on the economy. And the reasons given by the administration and its supporters are vague and unprovable. Handy.

I'm not sure I follow you on what proceeds one obtains from giving something away. And you can scour the Constitution and you won't find anything in there about schools. Schools were up to state and local governments until 1977. Yes, most of the founders were big on education, and public education for exactly the reasons you describe, and yes, the process you describe is not entirely inaccurate. Every township had a bit of land set aside for a school which was to be funded by the people in the township. At any rate I must admit I'm not really up on my Victor Davis Hanson - I don't read him terribly often -- but I'd like to see where he has stated that he opposes public schools. I certainly don't see any evidence of it in this article. Oh, and I do mean a quote and a source, not a general accusation. He may oppose having a Federal Department of Education, but as the U.S. up to 1977 can attest, we can have public schools without it. And I'm not sure who would argue that education has perceptibly improved, if it has not in fact deteriorated -- since 1977, what with the shrieking about Johnny Can't Read falling behind the Japanese ad nauseum.

Lincoln nay have "given away" millions of acres of land to railroads, but it cost him little to nothing to do it, and both the land and the railroads were worth something ... that is, the railroads had to go somewhere, and people found value in the rail service and paid to use it.

Our founders indeed went into debt, especially during the war - but they got something tangible for it. Not the least of this was resources which would easily generate wealth and allow the economy to grow to pay it off. It wasn't 50 or 60% entitlement spending. What we are literally doing is buying people money, and when we handle it that way, money is just blessed paper. People confuse money with wealth. But money is just record keeping of real wealth -- increasing dollars without increasing wealth first (or at least simultaneously) only makes the dollars worth less.

"Investing in America" is something about as meaningful as "Change", except that we can see that it clearly involves money. People invest money all of the time. When they don't do it wisely, they often lose their shirts.

philmon said...

Ok. This is hilarious:

no ad hominem. Just the facts. It sounds insane.

and if I may quote your inital comment

Reality is not an opinion, not that I expect you'll ever change your opinion on that.

"It sounds insane" is an opinion. "Just the facts. It sounds insane." Which comes out "my opinions are facts".

Physician, heal thyself.

Just a cursory look over Hanson's numbers

~$15 Trillion in debt. Pretty standard figure.
9.1% unemployment. Nothing outrageous there.
$4B a day in increased debt? Spending $10 billion a day borrowing 40% of that ... works out about right
26 percent approval rating on Obama's handling of the economy ... See I just don't get where he's off on his numbers in this article. I know you were talking about how much he says Obama has inflated spending under Obama, but nothing in this article supports your assertion, and as far as I can tell it's the only one of his I've linked in this post. So I'm afraid I am at a loss as to what you're talking about.

Ed Darrell said...

Reality is not an opinion, not that I expect you'll ever change your opinion on that.

Right so far. Prediction.

Not ad hominem in any way that I can see.

Obama's not defying the rules of logic. Your stated disdain for economics laws doesn't make them inoperable, it just makes you not well informed in how free enterprise works.

Defense of free enterprise requires information. At least, that's the way Madison and Jefferson saw it, and I think they were right. No ill-informed people has ever been able to hang on to freedom.

So, despite your disdain for economic theory, I'd recommend getting some. Hanson may claim he's targeting Keynes, but he's shooting at von Hayek and Milton Friedman at the same time. Not a good idea.

philmon said...

(replacing previous content because I forgot to include the link)

You seem to be under the impression that I have no familiarity with economics because I don't agree with you.

"Getting some" only makes one familiar with the theories over which there is, always has been, and always will be raging debate in the economics field. Economics is, and will always be the realm of theory. For it to be science, one would have to be able to perform controlled experiments.

That being said, again because of the glaring lack of specificity in your allegations -- for instance, exactly how is Mr. Hanson "shooting down", say Friedman here?

As a matter of fact, if you go out and watch this video, you hear Mr. Friedman saying exactly what Hanson is saying here. (from about the 5:30 mark to the 6:30 mark - the part being referred to comes in the last 15 seconds - but of course you need the context of the first bit).

As a matter of fact ... just listen to the rest of it -- it sounds remarkably parallel to what's been going on and what's happening right now.

You seem full of blustery confidence, but your facts don't hold up.

Can you show me where Madison and Jefferson thought that government deficit spending should be used as a tool to control the economy?

Be aware that I have read a lot of Jefferson, and I am also aware that Madison not only read a lot of Jefferson, but a lot of material that Jefferson had read (which he gave to Madison to read during the writing of the Constitution since he trusted Madison over anyone else -- because he was in France at the time)

Severian said...

The transcontinental railroad was a "make-work" project?

That's so absurd, it's not even wrong.

Whitehawk said...

I realize I'm arriving late to the discussion...

In the interest of stopping an echo...

"Logical fallacy? He doesn't specify any, other than a broad, inaccurate generalization. "Toxic Medicine" is a more apt description for the "tax the poor to give to the wealthy" system we have now, which has been crushing jobs and prosperity in America for ten years now."

This meme needs to die. How can anyone continue to repeat this when 50% of Americans don't pay taxes. And it is NOT the TOP 50% that are not paying taxes.

Severian said...

You know what I'd like to know? Who actually does pay taxes, according to the left. I'm talking cash-money, 1040-A, dollars-on-the-barrel-head taxes, not some "the poor are taxed every day by the under-funded schools" or "inner-city kids are taxed by the lack of social services" namby-pamby bullshit. Actual coin.

Because according to the left, "the rich" don't pay taxes. And I don't think even leftists are dumb enough to claim that "the poor" pay much in the way of cash-money taxes (otherwise they wouldn't have to resort to baloney like the above). So who ARE these taxpayers, and what SHOULD they be charged?

I'd love to hear some specifics on this. Is Larry a taxpayer, but Moe isn't? What about Curly? Why should Curly pay more than Larry, but less than Moe? Hell, I'm willing to tax all three Stooges in the interest of "social justice," if only Our Betters on the left would explain to me just how a "fair" tax code is supposed to work....

Whitehawk said...

@ Severian

I think it's more about finding what is "unfair" and taxing it. Of course having more than someone else is unfair. This is the basis for the tax code we have now.

As for who actually pays those taxes on "unfairness" according to the left well...IDK it's a mystery.

Severian said...

That's what I mean. Heck, let me declare it right now: I, personally, am willing to pay "my fair share" provided the left gives me numbers and reasons.

Perhaps -- probably-- I'm not pulling my social weight when it comes to inner-city schools. I don't live in a crime-ridden slum, which I gather is "unfair," and so I'm willing to do my part if the left would just give me a figure. Tell me, "your fair share is X dollars, broken down as follows: a% for textbooks, b% for teacher salaries, c% for their union buddies, d% for after-school programs".... etc. etc.

Being the super-smart and extra-caring and just all-around uber-wonderful people they are, I'm sure leftists have all of these calculations to hand. Why they keep refusing to share them with us is one of life's great mysteries.