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A Friday Hodgepodge

1. At the blog of the Texas Institute for Property Rights, Brian Philips comments on the post-fire moratorium on property sales imposed by Hawaii's state governor:
Undoubtedly, the moratorium will prevent some individuals from making rash decisions that they later regret. But that doesn't justify the governor's rights-violating proposal. Preventing some individuals from making bad decisions also prevents individuals from making good decisions. The governor's proposed moratorium prevents all individuals from acting as they deem best for their lives. The governor implies that individuals are too stupid to know what is best for themselves. [bold added]
This is, as far as I know, the only answer to that awful policy.

As such, it is illustrative of the power of thinking in terms of principles: When one remembers that the proper purpose of a government is to protect rights -- that is, the freedom of individuals to act on their own judgement -- the injury this moratorium does becomes obvious in a way it can't to people hyperfocused on preventing misfortunes on behalf of other people.

2. At How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn argues that businesses should embrace a moral defense of capitalism because "governments tend to ignore logical and economic arguments because they are ideologically committed to" their various anti-freedom measures.

Interestingly, her argument soon nicely shows why this is such a good idea:
Calling out the government on these rights violations would be more powerful than trying to argue on logic and economics. [The moral argument could also be a basis for a legal case and merit support from Canadian Constitution Foundation to challenge the government in court].

Appealing to individual rights to defend the freedom of business to operate also makes a case for capitalism, a social system where the government's only role is to protect -- not to violate -- individual rights. As first recognized by Ayn Rand, individual rights are the central moral principle of capitalism, the only system where physical coercion, including fraud, is banned. [link omitted, bold added]
In other words, taking up the moral cause moves one from defense to offense, and that is what we ultimately need to win against today's all-out, multidirectional assault on freedom.

3. The third post of this roundup continues our emerging theme of seeking the positive.

At Thinking Directions, Jean Moroney answers the question, "What is defensiveness?"

As usual, the answer is comprehensive and merits a couple of readings, but the below is what really hit me:
Image by Mick Haupt, via Unsplash, license.
Defensive reactions are emotional responses that have been intensified by an unrelated threat-oriented emotional reaction.

The key concept here is "unrelated." This is why defensive reactions are a bit more difficult to understand. Every emotion draws your attention to its object, i.e., the value (if it's a value-oriented emotion such as joy or love or grief) or the threat (if it's a threat-oriented emotion such as fear or anger or relief). Normal (non-defensive) emotions draw your attention directly to the object that seems to need attention; defensive emotions pull your attention away from it. [bold added]
Anyone familiar with Moroney's work will see the problem: Defensiveness can make it hard to maintain an orientation around one's values -- and this makes it vital to detect it and do something about it.

Anyone not familiar with her work can better understand how this is a problem by referring to the brilliant golf course analogy linked within the beginning of the post.

4. As he does periodically, Amesh Adalja commemorates his esteemed mentor, epidemiologist D. A. Henderson at Tracking Zebra.

I always enjoy these posts, because they include questions Adalja would ask if he could, but I also appreciate this vignette of his mentor:
... D.A., often wearing a sweater vest, would turn in his chair and indulge me while regaling me with some story of some thing that happened to him or related to whatever the subject of my question was. In the end, I often had the answer -- sometimes DA would affirm my own thinking and other times he would point out a connection that I was not aware of and lead me to dive into the medical literature. I was recently looking through some old papers and spotted DA's handwriting in the margins of a medical journal article alerting me to something he noted and wanted me to notice as well. It is his benevolence and his interest in cultivating my limitless quest to learn all I could about infectious disease that is what I miss most about him. Individuals infrequently get to sit in the presence of extreme competence and genius that it is hard to describe to those who have not experienced it themselves. [bold added]
Whether or not Adalja has accurately captured what it is like to be in the presence of a giant, he very well portrays someone who was both an excellent teacher and a friend.

I couldn't help but fondly recall several of the people who made a big difference for me after I read that, including my father and my favorite science teacher from way back in high school.

-- CAV

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