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A Friday Hodgepodge

1. At New Ideal, Ben Bayer explains "Why Champions of Science and Reason Need Free Will." Taking the recent "emergence of thinkers who celebrate reason and critique forms of irrationality on both the cultural 'right' and the 'left'" as his point of departure, Bayer charges that for all their virtues, they are not revolutionary enough, and will fail unless they take the time to understand and embrace the concept of free will.

He states in part:
Even though it is demonstrable that science requires free will, the allegation that there is something mysterious and unscientific about free will is widespread, and it warrants a response. It is an allegation with a long history and many facets, but addressing a few of the representative allegations should suffice for our purpose. (In the concluding section, I will also try to explain why this worry about free will has been so enduring, in spite of its shortcomings.)

One concern is that the idea of free will is in tension with a principle that is central to the scientific worldview, the principle of cause and effect...
Aided by Ayn Rand's understanding of what free will is, Bayer goes on to address this concern at length.

2. At the blog of the Texas Institute for Property rights, Brian Phillips considers the question, "Is a Lack of Supply Causing the Housing Crisis?"

While his full answer took a book (linked below), the following part is food for more careful thought than most people are giving:
Image by "I Do Nothing But Love," via Unsplash, license.
As I demonstrate in my book, The Affordable Housing Crisis: Causes and Cures (available on Amazon), the cost of regulations can add 40 percent to the price of new housing. As one example, regulations in Austin can inflate the price of a new house by more than $110,000! When compliance costs are combined with land costs, which are inflated by zoning laws, a new house is virtually unaffordable, even before the foundation is poured.

If greedy housing producers could profitably build housing for low- and moderate-income households, they'd do so in a New York minute. But they can't, so they don't. If we want to solve the housing crisis, we need to free greedy housing producers. [link in original, bold added]
As I write this post, we're house-hunting in the New Orleans area. If there has been one unpleasant constant throughout our relocation process, it has been the insane cost of housing everywhere we have looked, including the area we ultimately chose.

Something is clearly wrong, and I am glad that when I have some more time, I can at least get a more satisfying explanation than my current hunches. And I am confident that I will find one in Phillips's book, based on having read two of his earlier works.

3. Speaking of confidence, Jean Moroney has posted a great piece on the subject, particularly on how confidence differs from optimism and what that can mean on a daily basis:
[O]ptimism simply predicts a result; it doesn't concern itself with what you can do to ensure that result. In contrast, confidence is about you and your skill, not whether you succeed per se. Confidence is the emotion that proceeds from the conclusion that you have sufficient skill that your current or proposed effort will result in success.
It is worth reading the whole thing to see this fleshed out with an example -- an employee optimistic about getting a pay raise after asking for it -- and how confidence can place that request in a richer context that will both increase the chance of that conversation going well and provide emotional resilience even if it doesn't.

This isn't a bunch of fake it till you make it type hokum: This is about the value of a more rational and mature perspective one can take regarding anything, and how to work towards making that one's normal approach.

4. In How to Be Profitable and Moral, Jaana Woiceshyn challenges the conventional Labor Day "wisdom" about exploitative corporations and valiant unions:
While labor unions were originally founded for the legitimate purpose of improving working conditions and helping negotiate wages, they have long since substituted that purpose for entrenching the power of their leaders and the entitlements for their senior members.

Today's labor unions in industrialized countries that operate on the principle of collectivism (e.g., forced membership, benefits regardless of performance) as opposed to justice, do not help workers flourish -- to perform at their best for their own economic wellbeing, purpose, and enjoyment of life. [bold added]
Woiceshyn then considers how the alternative of free markets and the protection of individual rights can begin to undo the damage that unions have caused, and lead to the betterment of workers' lives, as one might expect from evidence she also presents.

-- CAV

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