Bastiat’s Conundrum

Claude-Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th Century economist and political philosopher of the French Liberal Schoolthink proto-libertarian – was more than a little concerned about society turning its back to what is good and embracing what it is evil.

When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.

— Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Harmonies (1850 AD)

Not, of course that this is new thought or warning. It goes back to at least Biblical times.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Isaiah 5:20, The Bible (KJV)

But, inherent to these very thoughts and proscriptions in the conundrum. Who are the misguided of the public? Who, indeed, have chosen to call evil good, and good evil? When a society – truly, at this point more of a population than a society – cannot even agree upon what words mean, much less what are examples thereof, it becomes almost moot to try to decide this. And yet, from the standpoint of both utility and primal, existential need, decide this America must do.

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Do Check Your Privilege

Everyone, please do check you privileges. Oh, not in the manner that the Liberals and Progressives mean for you to do so in order to delegitimize any opinion that you might have that dissents against their agenda and closely held beliefs. Instead check your privileges and, if possible, enumerate them for yourselves because the privileges you’ve earned or your ancestors earned for you will go along way towards defining the character of your culture.

I would say that, even more than rights, privileges are the fundamental metric of what any people value and hold dear.

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What’s The Harm?

The role and extent of government has been a matter of contention since Man first developed government. Nowhere is this more true than the ongoing war over what, if any, harm any government should allow to happen to the People.

Even the philosopher Hugo Adam Bedau, a current favorite among limited government and social liberal circles doesn’t provide much surcease from the argument.

Government should allow persons to engage in whatever conduct they want to, no matter how deviant or abnormal it may be, so long as:

  1. they know what they are doing,
  2. they consent to it, and
  3. no one — at least no one other than the participants — is harmed by it.

— Hugo Adam Bedau

Sure, Bedau’s words sound good and is if they’d make a good framework for the limits of government involvement and interference with the lives and actions of the governed.  Sadly, however Bedau’s words beg the questions of what is the proof of knowledge aforethought and what constitutes consent.

His words also, much like the Wiccan Rede – An it harm none, do as you will – leave the glaring and easily warred over questions of what’s the harm and, much like claims of offensiveness,  just who gets to decide that harm has been done in the first place.

No, not even Bedau’s simple prescription will ameliorate the conflict over just what the government should be allowed to regulate or proscribe.

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This Is How You Win

There always seems to be a plethora of questions about how one can win. Indeed, there are whole industries profiteering off of it. The answer is so simple though…

This Is How You Win

That’s the answer. Just as Heather Dorniden did, you get up after you’ve fallen – or have been tripped – and you run faster, try harder. This is how you win, whether it is in sports or life.

What you don’t do is: expect the race to halted and restarted; for any of your competitors to help you up; or to just lay there and blame various and sundry other people, groups, organizations, or whole cultures for your having fallen down in some fashion – even in those rare occurrences when they are to blame for it.

Sadly, this is lesson rarely taught anymore. Instead being a victim is what is taught along with blamecasting whenever one doesn’t achieve success quick enough or at all. Perhaps this is because “winning” requires there to also being losers and that’s “not fair.” Perhaps it’s simply that “validation” of one’s self-image has become more important than being of worth in the first place.

In any event, winning is quite simple. Yet, losing because you’re a victim is so much easier to both do and teach.

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No Accommodation

Thinking ApeIt may surprise many that I spend a fair amount of my time musing about the state, follies, foibles, and rare successes of Man. Then again, it may not, given that people ascribe little value to such pondering and, hence, would assume I would engage in it.

Much, however, do I muse upon Man and his dysfunctional relationship with both Life and Death. How we deal or, more often than not, fail to deal with either perplexes me.

Some men seek power because life ends. Others, for the same reason, seek meaning. And yet the world is the same for both sorts, and makes no effort to accommodate either.

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