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Showing content with the highest reputation on 05/15/18 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    Peter Suderman of Reason Magazine argues that, "Under Trump, Republicans Have Become the Party of No Ideas." Suderman makes some disturbing connections of data with his thesis, such as the following: Ayn Rand's image of the hollow oak seems particularly apt, but this will do. (Image via Pixabay)... Republicans are not merely struggling with difficult vote math, or with converting broad ideas into legislative form. They are abandoning the notion of a policy agenda entirely. That abandonment can be seen in the slew of GOP retirements -- more than two dozen so far, including a large number of committee heads, who have historically taken charge of writing legislation and moving it through the congressional process. In a very real sense, the Republican Party, or at least the party as we have known it, is calling it quits. The most notable of the retirees is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a veteran lawmaker who built his career as a legislative entrepreneur, the closest thing the GOP had to an idea man, pitching a broad policy agenda he at one point dubbed "A Better Way." Even among Republicans, Ryan's ideas, especially on entitlements, were always more popular in theory than in practice, and Ryan's status as a deficit hawk was often overrated. But at the very least his ideas served as a sort of ideological placeholder, a sense of what the party should, or could, aim for in the absence of a more promising program. [bold added]Signs of this were evident during the campaign, as Bret Stephens noted in the Wall Street Journal back in 2016, when he commented on the leadership of the GOP folding like a cheap law chair after Trump became the nominee: What isn't normal is the ease with which so many conservative leaders, political and intellectual, have prostrated themselves before Mr. Trump simply because he won. In July, Dan Senor, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, tweeted that he had once commiserated with a Midwestern governor about how unacceptable Mr. Trump was as the GOP nominee. That governor? Mike Pence. As for conservative thought leaders, the book that comes to mind is Julien Benda's 1927 classic, La Trahison des clercs, "The Treason of the Intellectuals." Benda railed against a new class of European thinkers who specialized in "the intellectual organization of political hatreds," the "desire to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action," and above all "the cult of success," based on "the teaching that says that when a will is successful that fact alone gives it a moral value, whereas the will which fails is for that reason alone deserving of contempt." [bold added, links omitted, format edits]But lest you think Stephens is some kind of prophet, consider the following words, written over a half-century ago by Ayn Rand: [T]o those of you who do wish to contest [this country's uncontested collapse] -- particularly those of you who are young and are not ready to surrender -- I want to give a warning: nothing is as dead as the stillborn. Nothing is as futile as a movement without goals, or a crusade without ideals, or a battle without ammunition. A bad argument is worse than ineffectual: it lends credence to the arguments of your opponents. A half-battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat -- it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies. At a time when the world is torn by a profound ideological conflict, do not join those who have no ideology -- no ideas, no philosophy -- to offer you. Do not go into battle armed with nothing but stale slogans, pious platitudes, and meaningless generalities. Do not join any so-called "conservative" group, organization, or person that advocates any variant of the arguments from "faith," from "tradition," or from "depravity." Any home-grown sophist in any village debate can refute those arguments and can drive you into evasions in about five minutes. What would happen to you, with such ammunition, on the philosophical battlefield of the world? But you would never reach that battlefield: you would not be heard on it, since you would have nothing to say. It is not by means of evasions that one saves civilization. It is not by means of empty slogans that one saves a world perishing for lack of intellectual leadership. It is not by means of ignoring its causes that one cures a deadly disease. [bold added]This is what Rand said of the conservatives back then, when they still were pretending to offer an alternative to the left. Suderman and Stephens rightly observe the effects of what Rand discussed then, but they don't go far enough. It's not just that the conservatives failed in 2016 or now -- it's that they are no longer even bothering to pretend to be serious opponents of the left. Whether that be because they don't know or don't care what will happen as a result of failing to do so, is as irrelevant as they will prove to be in the long term. As for anyone not wishing for a Bernie Sanders's version of the American dream (as is being realized today in Venezuela), I strongly recommend reading the entirety of Rand's Conservatism: An Obituary. We need ideas, and if Donald Trump has given us anything more than a few random rollbacks to particularly bad regulations, it is this: He has shown -- sooner rather than later -- that the GOP is not the "party of ideas" we need for an actual return of America to the greatness of capitalism. -- CAVLink to Original
  2. 1 point
    Over at Inc., business columnist Suzanne Lucas considers advice she unexpectedly received after sharing an anecdote online. The elastic band in a garment gave up the ghost after twenty-three years, and several people said she should sew in a new band, in the name of thrift. She had wisely trashed the old garment and ordered a new one. Here is part of her analysis of that advice: Image of symbol extolling the waste of time as a virtue, via Pixabay.Then, I have to measure the elastic, cut it, pin it to the slip, and sew it in. I do know how to sew, but I don't do it often. All in all, if I worked quickly, and had no problems with the cloth or sewing machine, I'd guess the whole process would take about an hour. You may be able to do it faster. You may have extra elastic in your sewing box, but I don't. So, all in all, it would take me about 1 hour and 30 minutes to put new elastic into cloth that would be old enough to drink. To save what? $15? Is my time worth $10 an hour? Or is it worth more? It's absolutely worth more. In fact, using the time I saved by buying the new slip, I can write this article, for which Inc will pay me.Lucas even discusses other possible benefits from doing the repair, anyway, and found them wanting. For example, as a chance to teach her son some sewing, this case was wanting because elastic would have made for too tricky a lesson for a beginner. To people who have had penny-pinching -- or worse, recycling -- drummed into their skulls from Day One, it might sound like Lucas over-thought this. I would beg to differ. While considering value propositions thoughtfully does take more effort than blindly applying a rule about saving money, it isn't that hard once one has made it a habit, and it leads to better productivity (and often, ultimately more money since making money is often an alternative to saving less of it). The lesson here is that if one cares about maximizing value in life, it is an error to fixate on the dollar cost of one or a few things. Many things are more valuable, dollar-wise, and some things one should consider cannot even be quantified in terms of money. See also Ayn Rand's teleological measurement of values. -- CAV Link to Original
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