Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily Heath Care Rights News

This just in from the folks at Reason magazine:  What Does It Mean to Have a Right To Health Care?  Excerpt:

Despite the popular misconception, health care is not beyond economic law; it is not a free good that falls like manna from heaven. It has to be produced, which means people must mix their scarce labor with scarce resources to produce the things used to perform the medical services we want. It would be foolish to expect them to donate their labor and resources because other people need them. They have their own lives to live and livelihoods to earn. It would be wrong to compel them. They are not slaves.

In other words, no one can have a right to medical care or insurance, that is, to the labor services and resources of other people—including the taxpayers. We hear a great deal about the need to respect all people; well, respecting people must include respecting their liberty and justly acquired possessions. Without that, “respect” is hollow.

Politicians, of course, can declare a right to medical care, but those are mere words. What counts is what happens after the declaration. Since a system in which everyone could have, on demand, all the medical care they wanted at no cost would be unsustainable, the so-called right to medical care necessarily translates into the power of politicians and bureaucrats to set the terms under which medical services and products may be provided and received. This is crucial: a government-declared “right” (that does not reflect natural rights) is no right at all; it is rather a declared government power to allocate goods and services.

Natural rights—which boil down to the single right not to be aggressed against—require only that one abstain from aggression. Thus all can exercise their rights at once without conflict. On the other hand, government-invented “rights”—such as the right to medical care—cannot be exercised at the same time; the potential for conflict is built in. For example, a person cannot use his own money as he wishes if the government health care system takes it by force through taxation to pay for other people’s services.

It’s difficult to add anything to that, but I’ll give it a shot.

Taxpayer-funded health care can’t be a right.  It is an indulgence, an exercise in charity on the part of government.  But most importantly, it is a fundamentally an infringement on liberty.  If one has a government-guaranteed taxpayer-funded health care, that requires someone else (a taxpayer) to surrender a portion of their own wealth, their own property, to pay for it.  That means that the taxpayer is required to labor for a portion of the year with no recompense.

There are several words for that; indenture is probably the most polite one.

I’m a minimal-government libertarian, but I’m not an anarchist.  There are legitimate distributed interests that are best handled by government:  Defense, for example.  But defense is not subject to market forces the way health care is.  Here’s the key excerpt form the Reason article:

The market method of deciding what is produced solves this complex problem. How? Through the price system. When people are free to trade goods and services in the market, they generate prices that inform others (even if anyone is aware of this) about the relative supply of and demand for things. Those prices then guide producers and consumers. While their objective is not to create a grand and complex process that encourages the coordination countless plans, economizes on resources and labor, and enables people to achieve their well-being in an unrivaled manner, that is in effect what they do. This is what Adam Smith meant with his “invisible hand” trope. Prices guide people to do “the right thing.”

But politicians don’t understand price theory – or if they do, they ignore it, to garner votes.  I don’t know which is worse.

Animal’s Daily Random Thoughts

Can Human Evolution Be Controlled?  Sure, we do it all the time.  Every time we choose a mate, every time our species favors blue eyes, or black hair, or living in a cold/warm/temperate climate.  But intentionally?  Sure, we do that all the time too.

It seems how people smell doesn’t much enter into it.

On to other things:  The Baby Boomers aren’t responsible for all the world’s ills.  Who knew?  As a member of the youngest cohort of that aging generation, I heartily agree; only individuals, not groups, can bear responsibility.  There are no group responsibilities, no group rights, only individuals.

From our good friend Jillian Becker:  Raising a mercenary army of racists on public funds.  One has to wonder of what possible use are classes in “white privilege” and such racist (yes, racist, in the truest sense of the word) are.   Educational institutions are, or at least should be, tasked with one purpose:  To produce young adults with marketable skills, so that they may become responsible, productive citizens.  Bullshit classes like this do nothing to that end; they only inculcate a new generation of racists.

Yes, goddammit, racists.  They are teaching young people to judge their fellows by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character.  That is fucking racism.  It’s despicable, and taking money to teach such tripe is fraud.

Walter Williams has some thoughts on the topic as well.

On a brighter note:  Want a $25,000 taco?

Me neither.

On that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Historical Parallels News

Is President Trump the new Andrew Jackson?  RealClearPolitics’ Thomas Chambers makes an interesting argument for it.  Excerpt:

Like the current president, Jackson was unpredictable, even considered wild by some. He drank heavily early in life, but later swore off spirits completely, as has Trump who claims he’s never touched a drop of liquor. Though Jackson lacked a formal education and Trump possesses an Ivy league degree, neither would be considered among the gentry and both might be labeled anti-intellectual, as when Trump claims he learns most of what he knows from “watching the TV shows.” There is a commonality of reckless youth followed by piousness. Trump was sent to military school as a teenager.

In his personal life, Jackson was accused of condoning bigamy because his wife was married to another man when they began living together. As is well-known, President Trump has been married three times, though at distinctly different intervals. These marital scandals plagued both men for years.

Once in the White House, there are also many striking comparisons, even considering the Trump presidency remains in its nascent stages.

Both men have seen themselves as guardians of the Constitution – according to their own personal interpretations – and as protectors of the people. But, they have also shared a craving for power. Jackson was sometimes referred to as King Andrew I, one who, like his 21st century counterpart, thought he could do anything he wanted. Trump sign executive orders in rapid succession.

As with Trump, Jackson fought with his opponents and with members of his own party. He was unpredictable and quick to anger. He even expressed himself publicly, not using Twitter, but via open letters to friends that were reprinted in newspapers. The trusted close advisers in both administrations, chosen for their loyalty, not expertise, have been looked upon unfavorably. Jackson’s “kitchen cabinet,” unofficial consultants who paralleled the presidential cabinet, caused a great deal of consternation. His real cabinet was made up of businessmen and politicians whom he thought he would control.

Out on a limb.

There’s one major difference, and it is one that makes President Trump unlike any of his 44 predecessors in the Imperial Mansion; even unlike Jackson.  Old Hickory commanded troops as a general.  Since his day, there have been several former military men in the Imperial Mansion, Grant and Eisenhower foremost among them.  But Donald Trump is the first man to hold the office without having ever been a military man or a politician.

His campaign broke lots of rules; his Presidency, nascent though it is, is shattering lots of old reliable traditions for politics.  It’s true, Jackson did much the same, but he had much, much less precedent to shatter.

It’s really too early to draw these kinds of comparisons.  We have four interesting years ahead – maybe at the end of the Age of Trump we may have a better idea how  history will view him.

Rule Five Balkanization Friday

Should we break up the USA?  I’d prefer not to, but here from the Mises Institute is another idea.  Excerpt:

Some of our assumptions are so deeply embedded that we cannot perceive them ourselves.

Case in point: everyone takes for granted that it’s normal for a country of 320 million to be dictated to by a single central authority. The only debate we’re permitted to have is who should be selected to carry out this grotesque and inhumane function.

Here’s the debate we should be having instead: what if we simply abandoned this quixotic mission, and went our separate ways? It’s an idea that’s gaining traction — much too late, to be sure, but better late than never.

For a long time it seemed as if the idea of secession was unlikely to take hold in modern America. Schoolchildren, after all, are told to associate secession with slavery and treason. American journalists treat the idea as if it were self-evidently ridiculous and contemptible (an attitude they curiously do not adopt when faced with US war propaganda, I might add).

And yet all it took was the election of Donald Trump for the alleged toxicity of secession to vanish entirely. The left’s principled opposition to secession and devotion to the holy Union went promptly out the window on November 8, 2016. Today, about one in three Californians polled favors the Golden State’s secession from the Union.

In other words, some people seem to be coming to the conclusion that the whole system is rotten and should be abandoned.

As far as how this would happen?  Author Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. doesn’t offer a mechanism, but he offers a reason:

When I say go our separate ways, I don’t mean “the left” goes one way and “the right” goes another. I mean the left goes one way and everyone else — rather a diverse group indeed — goes another. People who live for moral posturing, to broadcast their superiority over everyone else, and to steamroll differences in the name of “diversity,” should go one way, and everyone who rolls his eyes at all this should go another.

“No people and no part of a people,” said Ludwig von Mises nearly one hundred years ago, “shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.” So much wisdom in that simple sentiment. And so much conflict and anguish could be avoided if only we’d heed it.

What’s interesting is that the talk about secession these days is coming mostly from disaffected California lefties, disappointed that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I lost the election they expected her to win.  A few surveys have up to one-third of Californians thinking secession is a good idea.

They should ask South Carolina how that worked out for them.

Seriously, the Rockwell article in discussion here is based on the libertarian argument that no people should be held in a political arrangement against their will, quoting as it does Ludiwg von Mises himself.  But the problem is that libertarians are a pretty small minority of the population, and when those 1/3 of Californians discover all of the problems they’d face in an actual secession attempt, they’d almost certainly change their minds.

I’ve discussed the idea of the United States balkanization before.  It will probably happen someday, in some form.  But I doubt it will be any time soon, no matter who is sitting at this moment in the Imperial Mansion.

Animal’s Daily Pale Blue Dot News

The Future.

In 1946, we got our first look at the Earth from space, thanks to a war-surplus V2 rocket repurposed by the U.S. Army.  On Valentine’s Day in 1990, Voyager One took an iconic photo – of Earth as a tiny pale blue dot in the vastness of space.   Excerpt:

We first glimpsed Earth’s curvature in 1946, via a repurposed German V-2 rocket that flew 65 miles above the surface. Year-by-year, we climbed a little higher, engineering a means to comprehend the magnitude of our home.

In 1968, Apollo 8 lunar module pilot William Anders captured the iconic Earthrise photo. We contemplated the beauty of our home.

But on Valentine’s Day 27 years ago, Voyager 1, from 4 billion miles away, took one final picture before switching off its camera forever. In the image, Earth, Carl Sagan said, was merely “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” So we pondered the insignificance of our home. The image inspired Sagan to write his book “The Pale Blue Dot,” and it continues to cripple human grandiosity.

And, about the Voyagers:

There aren’t any space missions like the Voyagers on the docket for the future, but both spacecraft continue beaming back data going on 40 years and counting. Voyager 1 became the first human-made thing to enter interstellar space, back in 2012 when it passed into the heliosphere, the bubble surrounding our solar system. Voyager 2 is expected to pierce the heliosphere around 2020.

Think about that.  There is an object built by human hands, bearing human information, hurtling into the unfathomable deeps of interstellar space, even as you read these words.  In a few years its brother will follow into those empty reaches.

Some day, I’d like to think humans will follow – maybe in a colossal generation ship, maybe in a constant-acceleration starship with a crew in deep-sleep, maybe in some faster-than-light craft driven by some as-yet un-imagined technology.  I’m pretty sure I won’t live to see it, but I would love to be proven wrong.

As a part-time science-fiction writer, I’ve made some guesses as to the shape the future might take.  I’m fifty-five now; I can expect to live to see thirty or forty more years of that future.   I am and have been convinced that our destiny lay out there somewhere, far from this tiny little blue-white ball.

Oh, and here’s the photo.  That’s us in the pale sunbeam on the right; as Carl Sagan said:  “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”  I can’t add anything to that; not a word.

Valentine’s Day, Early

In 1947, a young man brought flowers to a young woman, for their first Valentine’s Day as a couple.  A month later, they were married.

Today, 70 years later, that man has not missed a Valentine’s Day.  Today, that man – the Old Man, my Dad – brought my Mom her 70th bunch of Valentine’s Day flowers.  He’s 93, she’s 88, five kids, twelve grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and they still hold hands.

This, True Believers, is what love looks like; yes, this is what love looks like.

Rule Five Citizenship Friday

I found this interesting; Theodore Roosevelt Quotes on Citizenship.  Excerpt:

Enter the words of Theodore Roosevelt. Below you’ll find a small treasury of excerpts from some of the addresses he gave during his lifetime. When you look at anthologies of all his speeches, you find that the themes he hits in these selections were the ones he offered, with only slight alterations, over and over and over again, in every town and city he visited on country-crossing whistle stop tours. You’ll likely be surprised to find how much they resonate, and yet how almost foreign this kind of rhetoric sounds. One finds it impossible to imagine any modern politician speaking this way — using this lost language of virtue, and charging citizens towards both noble ideals and practical common sense.

TR’s words call to us from the dust — challenge us to revive what we haven’t even fully realized we’re missing, and to take responsibility for that which we claim to loathe in politics.

During this election, there has been plenty of head-shaking and tsk-tsking; all that seems foul is the fault of that “other” party, those “other” people who do not share one’s values. Or the problem is the poor slate of candidates, all of whom the average voter finds repugnant to varying degrees. Yet a people invariably gets exactly the candidates it deserves, and they emerge not from one segment of the population, but from the cultural milieu to which every single individual, on every side of the aisle, contributes.

Here are a few gems from the Bull Moose himself:

No law will ever make a coward brave, a fool wise or a weakling strong. All the law can do is to shape things that no injustice shall be done by one to another and so that each man shall be given the chance to show the stuff that is in him.”

The very last thing that an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess.”

Remember that the greatness of the fathers becomes to the children a shameful thing if they use it only as an excuse for inaction instead of as a spur to effort for noble aims.

We live in a rough world, and good work in it can be done only by those who are not afraid to step down into the hurly burly to do their part in the dust and smoke of the arena. The man who is a good man, but who stays at home in his own parlor, is of small use. It is easy enough to be good, if you lead the cloistered life, which is absolutely free from temptation to do evil because there is no chance to do it.”

But here’s the real kicker, one of my favorite quotes from the man who has long been one of my personal heroes:

The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”

Think on that quote for a moment.  Isn’t that what we just saw happen last fall?  One man stood out in the 2016 Presidential election by giving voice, roughly, crudely and loudly, to what (obviously) a large enough plurality of voters were thinking – and that man now sits in the Imperial Mansion.

It’s probable – nay, likely – that a man of TR’s caliber would not today subject himself to the non-stop scrutiny and abuse that constitutes public life today.  And that’s a shame, especially when you look at the general run of pols we have in the halls of power at this juncture; it would be hard to name a larger body of nitwits, poltroons and nincompoops that those that infest the halls of Congress today.

We still have Teddy’s words and deeds as a reminder.  Would that more people took them to heart.

Rule Five Inauguration Day Friday

Programming note:  This post was finalized and scheduled last night, as this morning I have departed early to drive west, from Denver to Silicon Valley via Las Vegas.  There I will spend the next 6-12 months helping a Valley company get their Quality Management ducks all in a row, and if I were a religious man I would add “and may God have mercy on my soul.”  There are few places on the planet where I fit in less than Californey, and the Bay Area is one of the nuttiest environs in a nutty state.

But still, as I’m fond of pointing out, they pay me to go where the work is, not where the fun is.

Moving right along:  It’s Trump Day!  At noon EST today, The Donald takes the reins of power from outgoing President Obama – the very reins he pretty much grabbed from the lamest of lame ducks some time ago.  Today’s ceremonies just make it official.  But it’s significant, as this heralds another peaceful transition of power, one that goes back to when George Washington peacefully left office in 1797, handed the reins of power over to John Adams and went back to his farm, making the world’s kings, queens, emperors and potentates let out a collective “…what the fuck?”

Note that qualifier:  “Peaceful” transition of power.  It may be technically peaceful, but it remains to be seen how peaceful the Imperial capital will be while the ceremonies take place.  Notorious dissembler and blowpig Micheal Moore has promised to lead a protest, and an unprecedented number of Democratic pols are protesting by eschewing the inaugural festivities.

One could apply the term “sore loser,” but by all means let us be generous and apply the benefit of the doubt, that they are being sincere in their convictions, no matter how misguided.

So, what shall we expect to see in this brave new world, with our unexpected, unprecedented and somewhat surreal real-estate mogul/developer/reality TV star President?  Here are some tidbits:

As I’ve been saying for a while now, it’s going to be an interesting four years – hell, it’s going to be an interesting first 100 days, traditionally that magical interval in which a new President expends a bunch of political capital to get agenda items implemented while the blush is still on the rose.

Here’s where it’s going to be different this time, True Believers; this rose has no blush.  Never did, never will.  The Donald won the GOP nomination over the objections of much of his own party, and won election (handily) in what a lot of folks, yr. obdt. included, saw as an unexpected upset.  Most of the legacy media makes little effort to conceal their contempt for The Donald, and the feeling is certainly mutual.

But if he follows through on some of his stated positions – tax rate cuts, repairing the ACA, reducing regulation, and if we can persuade him to maybe eliminate a few unnecessary Imperial agencies, we may just have a few pretty prosperous years ahead.  Cross your fingers!  It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Animal’s Daily Professional Protester News

Tomorrow’s inauguration of The Donald promises to be rancorous, with plenty of the usual suspects showing up to protest.  In recent years, one of the more common political movement descriptions  has been “astroturfing.”  Why astroturf?  It’s fake grass, of course – and the astroturfers are guilty of setting up fake grass-roots movements, using a very few, very loud people to make their case.

A comment I made the other day on this story got me to thinking, though.  Might there be a business opportunity here?  Providing protestors on demand, say, for a variety of causes?  Maybe covering both sides of an issue at the same protest?  Reproduced below is a hypothetical interview I posted at the link, between an unnamed interviewer and the protest organizer:

Interviewer:  “So, you will supply protesters on demand?”
Protest Organizer:  “Sure. As many as you like.”
I:  “For what causes?”
PO:  “Oh, any cause. Any cause at all.”
I:  “Any cause?”
PO:  “Sure. Remember that big fracas at the President’s press conference last week? All the people in the street screaming and throwing things at each other?”
I:  “Sure.”
PO:  “Mine. Those were all my people. Both sides.”
I:  “Both sides?
PO:  “Yep. Both sides.”
I:  “Don’t you have any principles at all?”
PO:  “Sure. The kind that involves cashing checks.”

Capitalism at its finest; see a need, create a business to fill it.

It seems to me that the key to success in such a venture is to be completely impartial in providing paid protestors; double your market share, as it were, at a stroke.  Personally I’d draw the line at supporting terror groups or anyone advocating violence, but other than that – go for it.  Political rally?  Supply protestors for both sides.  Animal rights kooks protesting?  Provide vegan bikini bunnies and pro-meat grower protesters alike.

Double your money, double your fun!

Is this possible business model cynical and mercenary?  You bet your sweet bippy it is.  But it might just be a viable model:  Very little overhead, a wide market, sustainable as long as political and social issues still cause tension in our country.

Thoughts?

Animal’s Daily Genetic Diversity News

Here is an interesting bit from our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator:  So, It Has Come To This Has It?  (Original post here at Moonbattery.)  I made a comment yesterday when it posted, but it got me to thinking, so I thought I’d expand on my comment here.  Excerpt:

Barack Obama himself says that if you can dupe others into thinking you are black, then you are black:

“Well, part of my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality. And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.”

OK, that does it! Up is down, rain is sunshine. But I have realized something while studying the whole you are what you identify as craze. I now realize that I choose to identify as a billionaire playboy with several sports cars, mansions, vacation homes, a yacht and a muscular body that every woman longs for.

Now, look at the President’s statement above.  Let’s break it down.

Well, my understanding of race is that it’s more of a social construct than a biological reality.”  In this President Obama is correct.  Biologically speaking, the entire concept of race is, well, horseshit.  Humans have less genetic diversity than our closest relatives, chimpanzees.  The concept of “race” is mostly a social and cultural construct; it’s almost impossible to rigorously define “race.”  Barack Obama claims to be the first “African-American” President, but he is the child of a white American woman and a half-black, half-Arabic Kenyan father.  He has none of the cultural markers than define “African-American” as it is generally used, to denote a member of some nebulous group defined more or less by having some ancestor that was a slave in the United States.

So, yes, horseshit.  Which brings us to the second statement in his comment:  “And in that sense, if you are perceived as African American, then you’re African American.

I could claim to be perceived (or even sillier, the modern concept of “self-identifying”) as a ham sandwich, but that wouldn’t make it true.

There are objective realities in the world.  The science of genetics pretty much obliterates, as a scientific model, the whole concept of “race” as applied to humans.  There is only one species of human alive on the planet today, H. sapiens sapiens, and we meet the definition of a species in every aspect.

As I said over at The Daley Gator, there is only one race.  It’s the human race, and every person alive on the planet is a member.