Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some "happy" thoughts on the election

Little blog activity as I've been traveling, attending a Liberty Fund Conference in Utah, and now am about to depart eastward for the start of the fall semester. It's probably just as well that I'm not blogging much, as most of the news subjects of interest are depressing, e.g. the presidential election.  Here's a very depressing post...

Lets' see, what are our choices... a Fabian socialist incumbent who is working surreptitiously to disarm us or a Mormon whose "principles" seem almost infinitely flexible? I'll take Romney over Obama any day; if Obama gets another couple of Supreme Court appointees Heller will be overturned, which will lead to a catastrophe -- Americans won't peacefully surrender their arms the way the Brits and Australians did.  And yes, Romney has actually built businesses and created wealth, unlike the anti-capitalist-in-chief.  But Romney's foreign policies, policies toward homeland "security" and civil liberties, and coddling of financial mercantilists like Goldman Sachs will be indistinguishable from Obama's (and Bush 43's).  The Oligarchic Warfare-Welfare state will march on.  (I'm stupified by Democrats who argue for Obama as the peace candidate, or the candidate who will stand up to Wall Street financiers... these arguments are the "progressive" equivalent of young earth creationism and actually worse, since evolution is admittedly not an easy thing to understand.)

Of course, there actually is a good candidate for a change in Gary Johnson.  Imagine a president who is an ultrarunner and Ironman triathlete, who has summitted Mount Everest, is an experienced state governor, and most importantly, believes that the fundamental job of government is to protect each person's rights and realizes that government itself is the greatest threat to those rights.  No wonder he gets no air time... how could that message ever help the political class?

The tragedy for America is that we are heading for fiscal catastrophe, and nothing serious is likely to be done about it.  (See CBO's latest for details.)  Entitlement reform is going to happen; that is, entitlement cuts are inevitable.  It's simply a matter of whether we design them or wait for fiscal collapse.  Ed Dolan has a very nice discussion of these issues.

Paul Ryan understands this, which is a hopeful sign -- so maybe, just maybe if Romney wins there's a chance we'll see real action on getting fiscal problems under control.  But I do not expect it, for two reasons. First, the political class has no vested interest in solving this problem.  To the contrary, entitlements are the perfect ground on which to fight endlessly and demonize one's opponents, while actually fixing the mess will entail some short term hardship that  will be politically unpopular. (Cuts are inevitable.)  Second, the electorate seems fairly evenly divided between those who want more government and those who want less.  Any "fix" to anything is likely to be in jeopardy of repeal every four years or so.  This instability will make policy, and the country, inherently unstable.  (There's multicultural democracy at work for you!)  The populace will likely find it easier to fight over social issues than wonky fiscal ones -- and there's no way the culture wars can lead to any happy outcome.  (One of the strongest arguments for libertarianism is that it calls for a permanent armistice in culture wars.)

Ugh.  The frustrating this is that this is all unnecessary.  There's no inherent reason for this, other than the bad moral philosophy and economics guiding both left and right.

I'll be away from blogging until mid-September.  Here's hoping that by then some unforeseen contingency has made America's future much, much brighter.

"Imagine a president who is an ultraunner and Ironman triathlete, who has summitted Mount Everest,"

And don't forget that his tie looks really, really nice in that picture! Since we're mentioning irrelevancies, I thought I'd add my own.

"Lets' see, what are our choices... a Fabian socialist incumbent who is working surreptitiously to disarm us or a Mormon whose "principles" seem almost infinitely flexible?"

I think you forgot one: do the only honorable thing and stay home!
Yes, nice tie.

But these points I listed are not irrelevancies. These activities give one a very different mindset & worldview than the average person has, one which is particularly conducive to respecting other people.

It's entirely different from hearing that someone plays golf, or tennis, or shoots pool.

Of course, Johnson himself is irrelevant in that his chances of winning are nil.
"These activities give one a very different mindset & worldview than the average person has, one which is particularly conducive to respecting other people."

Please explain, because I don't see why it should be so. How would ultrarunning and mountain climbing make a person more likely to respect other people?
Well, it would take a long essay to even try to do justice to this, and even then it's hard to convey. I speak from my own experience here, although a number of people I've read and spoken with corroborate this. When one does things that are so physically challenging, and even moreso mentally/spiritually challenging, it changes the way one thinks. It's normal in ultras for competitors to work to help each other. This seems to extend into seeing other peoples' potentials, and encouraging them. Ditto for serious mountaineering. And typically, the closer someone is to world class in these activities, the more pronounced the effect.

Again, personal experience, I can't prove it.

Alternative hypothesis: maybe it's not respect but just that the exhaustion we get when running 100 miles or climbing makes us easier to get along with.
Interesting theory, but as you mentioned yourself, I wouldn't go submitting it to Nature just yet.

If you want some history on you hemerodromoi, I found this quite interesting: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4348144
Thanks for the article.
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