9/24/2019

The new Catholic illiberals

"Other than disagreeing with this group, here is my general impression. They have not managed to produce a deep, compelling illiberal book comparable say to the works by James Fitzjames Stephens, Carl Schmitt, Burke (not actually an illiberal in my view, but the comparison remains relevant), Jean Bodin, or others from that tradition. I’m not sure they could beat the arguments of Thomas Mann’s liberal caricature Settembrini in The Magic Mountain.

They have not attached themselves to any great social movement or revolution, either as leaders or followers, unless you count the Church itself, but that is hardly new news.

They do not have a signature policy proposal (at the end of the article behind the first link, the big policy proposal unveiled at the end is “restrictions on share buybacks” — Cliff Asness, telephone! Are they kidding?)"

Are a Disproportionate Number of Federal Judges Former Government Advocates?



"What we found confirms the conventional wisdom: Former government lawyers—and more specifically, lawyers whose formative professional experiences include serving as courtroom advocates for government—are vastly overrepresented on the federal bench. Looking only at former prosecutors versus former criminal defense attorneys (including public defenders), the ratio is four to one. Expanding the parameters to include judges who previously served as courtroom advocates for government in civil cases as well as criminal cases, and comparing that to judges who served as advocates for individuals against government in civil or criminal cases, the ratio is seven to one. As explained below, the disproportion is both striking and concerning."

9/19/2019

TOO MUCH DARK MONEY IN ALMONDS

"Add up all US spending on candidates, PACs, lobbying, think tanks, and advocacy organizations – liberal and conservative combined – and we’re still $2 billion short of what we spend on almonds each year. In fact, we’re still less than Elon Musk’s personal fortune; Musk could personally fund the entire US political ecosystem on both sides for a whole two-year election cycle."

Book review: 'The Socialist Manifesto' by Bhaskar Sunkara

"Sunkara claims that “his” version of socialism would avoid the problems of central planning, because it would still leave some room for market mechanisms. Although all companies would be owned by the state, they would not be run by the state. They would be run by their own workforce, on a democratic basis, like worker cooperatives. There would be no labour markets as such anymore, but there would still be product markets, thus obviating the need for a Five-Year-Plan.

But this is not a new version of socialism. It sounds like Sunkara has just reinvented “market socialism,” the economic system of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Of all the variants of socialism that have so far been tried, market socialism was probably the least bad one. If I had to pick a socialist country to live in, it would probably be the SFRY. And yet, despite some initial success, that model ultimately also led to stagnation, and decline. Even at the best of times, though, market socialism was an unstable system, characterised by permanent tensions between its market components and its socialist components."

9/18/2019

Don't Say Unbanked; Say Differently Banked

"America's large population of unbanked is often presented as a failure of its banking system. If banks aren't willing to serve the poor, say the critics, then public alternatives such as postal banks, universal accounts at the Federal Reserve (i.e., FedAccounts), or central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) may be necessary.

But if Walmart's MoneyCard is any indication, many of America's unbanked aren't unbanked — they are differently banked. Instead of accessing banking services via traditional accounts, these people are connecting to it by prepaid credit cards, otherwise known as general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards. Walmart's MoneyCard is one of the most well-known offerings. But even governments are sponsoring prepaid debit card programs, the Federal government's DirectExpress card being the best example."

CPI Bias and Happiness

"On reflection, however, there is a shocking implication. Happiness researchers – yes, even Justin Wolfers! – have almost uniformly found little effect of income on happiness. If official statistics understate real income growth, what should we conclude?

Simple: Income’s effect on happiness is even smaller than it looks! According to Winship, for example, U.S. real income from 1969-2012 plausibly rose not by 16% (the standard estimate) but 45%. Yet our happiness still barely budged."

Why Aren’t There More Conservative Anarchists? On Recovering a Consistent Philosophy of Conservative Anti-Statism

"Of course this depends on the definition of anarchism. This term is quite difficult to pin down, because it has been used to describe many different, and often contradictory, proposed social orders, as well as the movements dedicated to achieving them. The definition of anarchy I use here is systematic opposition to the modern state. “State” is also difficult to define, but a modification of Weber’s conception—the state is the organization that possesses a monopoly on the creation and enforcement of social rules—strikes a good balance between breadth and precision. Political thinkers across the millennia discuss the nature and purpose of government. But it is important to note that Roman jurists, medieval Schoolmen, and philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment based their political commentary on observations of quite different institutional landscapes. The institutions these writers lived under varied so greatly that we would lose more than we would gain were we to force them all into a single concept. In fact, the term “the state” as applied to a unitary, corporate organization that governs a territory probably originates with Machiavelli in the 16th century. Accordingly, the state should not be equated with formal governance institutions, nor public authority per se.

So to make a complicated matter as simple as possible, an anarchist is somebody who regards the existing, post-Westphalian form of the state as illegitimate. This does not commit the anarchist to any particular course of political action. An anarchist need not be a revolutionary, for example. Nor does it mean the anarchist is opposed to all forms of rules and hierarchies. Anarchists frequently make a distinction between government and governance. All human societies need the latter, both as a means of checking the passions and inculcating virtuous habits. But the former is simply one way of achieving the latter, and historically considered, a relatively young and untested one at that."

9/16/2019

The best classical music works of the 21st century

"21 Max Richter
The Blue Notebooks (2004)

Written in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, The Blue Notebooks is Max Richter’s meditation on violence and war, one that was recorded in three hours. The song cycle is linked by narration from Tilda Swinton, but the most compelling pieces don’t require words. Organum is a funereal organ solo, Shadow Journal a piece of ambient house, but the centrepiece is On the Nature of Daylight (since used on countless films and TV soundtracks), where ever-expanding layers of strings are used to heart-tugging effect. JL"

The 100 best albums of the 21st century

"51 The Microphones

Overlapping acoustic guitars blend like plumes of smoke, and inspired snatches of melody flit by – but bursts of noise and distortion herald danger deep in the woods. Listen to the album.

50 Interpol
Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)

Theirs was the New York of Taxi Driver or Midnight Cowboy: fraught with rain and danger, energy crackling like the wires of a vandalised phone box. Like their peers the Strokes, the quartet made rhythm guitar the lead and foregrounded the bass, but cast them in sombre black suits rather than artfully distressed denim. Their ballad NYC became an unofficial civic anthem, synthesising the mix of sorrow and tenacity that defined the city in the wake of 9/11. Listen to the album."

To really determine who is poor in the US, count all anti-poverty spending

"Like any poverty measure, the OPM hinges on two basic features: The poverty line is the first. Despite significant changes in household consumption patterns, the poverty line has not been modified, except for adjustments for inflation, since the 1960s, and it remains set at approximately three times the cost of what was considered an adequate food diet fifty some years ago.

The second feature is what the official poverty measure counts as income to determine if a family is above or below the poverty line. The OPM counts the income poor and other families receive from pre-tax earnings, social security, and welfare checks, among other sources. But it fails to count the fastest growing types of federal anti-poverty benefits. These include food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid. It also ignores the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), both designed to help low-income workers and their families escape poverty. These programs started after the official poverty measure was developed and have expanded dramatically in recent decades. In fact, they have grown far faster than the anti-poverty programs counted as income under the OPM. As the figure below shows, in just the last two decades, programs that are not counted as income under the OPM (the various programs in red) have grown 16 times faster than those that are counted as income (family assistance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), in blue)."

9/13/2019

Catholic leaders appeal for help after Jesuit school in India attacked

"St. John Berchmans Inter College, a Jesuit school and hostel in India's Jharkhand state, was attacked by around 500 armed Hindu extremists Sept. 3, the college’s secretary Fr. Thomas Kuzhively reported to Agenzia Fides.

The attackers were armed with sticks, chains, iron bars, knives, and pistols, and beat tribal students including two who were seriously injured, he said. They seriously damaged the school’s facilities.

The mob also tried to sexually harass female students, tried to prevent the transport of injured students to a hospital, destroyed and vandalized school property, stole cash, and attacked an attached hostel for tribal students, Kuzhively reported."

Integration from Within

"To amplify Deneen’s own text somewhat, a similar logic also bars any return to some putatively better strain of liberalism (“classical liberalism” or what have you). In different versions, the hope is for a return to the Europe of the postwar era, a return to the America of the 1950s–1970s, or even a return to the neoliberal (or largely neoconservative ) paradise of the late 1980s and 1990s. But all such nostalgia rests on some version of the assumption that it is possible to separate imperialist progressive liberalism from an older good, or at least stable, version of liberalism. Deneen conclusively refutes this idea, showing that the progression (as it were) from one form of liberalism to another unfolds by a logical dynamic, an inner necessity. A magical return to the old liberalism, were it somehow to occur, would merely restart the same process. As Valéry Giscard d’Estaing put it in a related context, “There is no question of returning to the pre-1968 situation, first because the pre-1968 situation included the conditions that brought about 1968.” The only way out is forward.

But according to Deneen—and I will indicate shortly that this is the precise moment when Deneen’s argument takes a wrong turn—a postliberal politics must “avoid the temptation to replace one ideology with another. Politics and human community must percolate from the bottom up, from experience and practice” (188). This cashes out in a call for localist living, work, and education, in “intentional communities that will benefit from the openness of liberal society. They will be regarded as ‘options’ within the liberal frame, and while suspect in the broader culture, largely permitted to exist so long as they are nonthreatening to the liberal order’s main business” (196). Above all, however, “the impulse to devise a new and better political theory in the wake of liberalism’s simultaneous triumph and demise is a temptation that must be resisted. The search for a comprehensive theory is what gave rise to liberalism and successor ideologies in the first place” (196). Rather the thing to hope for and work towards is “not a better theory, but better practices . . . [which] might finally be worthy of the name ‘liberal’” (197–98)."

Academia’s Holy Warriors

"In his remarks at the conference, Deneen voiced his own hesitation about social conservatives entering into another ignoble bargain, as they had in the days of the three-legged stool. Turning to the emblazoned conference title behind him as he began to speak, he issued a rebuke — polite, but not subtle — to the conference organizers who had emphasized the word “national” in the title at the expense of the word “conservative.” Meanwhile, in his scholarly work, Deneen is looking less to the post-liberal Catholics in Europe than to a more homegrown tradition. His next book revolves around the American historian Christopher Lasch, who began his career as a Marxist critic of capitalism and ended it as a defender of traditional values he felt were being undermined by elites in both political parties. “If you go back and read True and Only Heaven and The Revolt of the Elites” — two of Lasch’s late-career books of social criticism — “both were efforts to articulate deep discontent with both the meritocratic left and the Reagan-conservative right, using resources in the American populist tradition that from one perspective look conservative, and from another look left or progressive, but which really end up being something quite different,” Deneen said. “And that’s part of the tradition I see myself working in.”"

9/12/2019

The Imperialistic Sohrab Ahmari

"Ahmari has a habit of being uncharitable to articles published on this website, and being a hardened TAC integralist myself, I’m forced now to draw my sword in defense. Because, really. I mean, really. Conservative commentary is more robust and energetic than it’s been at any point since the 1960s, yet we’re sitting here quarreling over whether a Catholic Church that can’t even govern itself should inform the governance of a country only one fifth of whose population is Catholic and of that only some of which actually practice. This is hoppingly, eye-wateringly idiotic, which is why it thrives on Twitter and explodes on contact with real life. That some of the commentary is trending in this direction should embarrass those of us who are Catholic."

Two Elementary Ideas for Basic Economic Reasoning

"This term I am teaching my History of Price Theory course, a course I enjoy teaching tremendously. But two lessons emerge from both the classical economist and the early neoclassical economists that I think would ensure clear thinking. Ironically, this might actually be exemplified in the writings of Frank Knight on value and price theory, and thus in his price theory. And, those two lessons can be simply stated as: (1) solve for the equilibrium, and (2) always remember we are part of the equilibrium. How do I understand these two lessons? First, if we freeze all the data and we freeze time, work through the logic and let the story go to its completion and determine the optimality conditions. This exercise in logic is essential, and to repeat, it is a huge mistake in economic reasoning to cut the story off too short -- read to the end of the story, so all the equilibrium conditions are fulfilled. As I said, solve for the equilibrium. But the second lesson, which is equally important, is never begin your analysis in the end! This is why the technique of simultaneous equations has serious shortcomings in doing good economics. It has great strengths too -- no doubt -- but by construction it obscures the second lesson evidenced in the practice of the great price theorists from Marshall to Alchian. The equilibrium conditions we worked to solve, emerge from the behavior of actors within the system -- from their weighing of alternatives, from their choices on the margin, from their imaginations of better deals to be struck, from their creative and clever actions. As I said, we are part of the equilibrium. This also true, as my teacher Bob Tollison used to stress, for economists seeking to propose Pareto improving changes in the rules of the game. Change is indeed possible, and in fact, change (as Hayek stressed) is what sets in motion the "problem" that economic theory must address."

Time to give up on India (economically)?

"India’s obsession with GDP is a more durable problem. GDP is merely correlated with vital outcomes such as employment and wealth; it should not be the performance benchmark. Five percent GDP growth would be adequate if household incomes outpace it, and if it is labor-intensive. We can’t tell because joblessness has never been properly measured. No one in Delhi has wanted to know.

This has become a crippling failure; the principal reason to expect a decade or more of fast growth is the surge of India’s working-age population. The primary goal of policy should thus be gainful and productive opportunities for potential labor market entrants. However, decision makers don’t even see the true state of the labor market, much less make policy on this basis."

Can a big bad state deliver us from evil?

"There is certainly a resistance to rationalism here, but its logic is secular and technological even if at the same time fanciful. While conjuring persons and forces both Big and Bad to combat the forces beyond our control which breathe life into our anxieties and fears it neglects the human heart. They offer what in the end are merely the shadow-selves of technology and secularism. A Manichean double to bring our world back into balance.

Actual religious traditions find the fault not lying with our stars, or this present age, but with ourselves."

9/10/2019

Why is movie theater popcorn so outrageously expensive?

"When a theater wants to show a film, it must agree to pay the distributor a percentage of all ticket sales. This percentage is higher during the first few weeks of a film and decreases over time, but generally averages out to ~70%.

So, if a theater sells a movie ticket for $9, its cut is only $2.70 — and that’s without accounting for other expenses.

Theater owners could price tickets higher, but it wouldn’t do them much good since 70% of any increase goes straight to the studios. Instead, they think of movies as a loss leader: their primary goal is to get as many people through their doors as possible, even if it means breaking even (or losing money) on the price of admission."

A Rare Universal Pattern in Human Languages

"In the early 1960s, a doctoral student at Cornell University wanted to figure out whether there was any truth behind the “cultural stereotype” that certain foreigners speak faster than Americans. He recorded 12 of his fellow students—six Japanese speakers and six American English speakers—monologuing about life on campus, analyzed one minute of each man’s speech, and found that the two groups produced sounds at roughly the same speed. He and a co-author concluded that “the hearer judges the speech rate of a foreign language in terms of his linguistic background,” and that humans the world over were all likely to be more or less equally fast talkers.

In the half century since then, more rigorous studies have shown that, prejudice aside, some languages—such as Japanese, Basque, and Italian—really are spoken more quickly than others. But as mathematical methods and computing power have improved, linguists have spent more time studying not just speech rate, but the effort a speaker has to exert to get a message across to a listener. By calculating how much information every syllable in a language conveys, it’s possible to compare the “efficiency” of different languages. And a study published today in Science Advances found that more efficient languages tend to be spoken more slowly. In other words, no matter how quickly speakers chatter, the rate of information they’re transmitting is roughly the same across languages."

Econ Focus INTERVIEW Enrico Moretti

"There's nothing new in the fact that some areas are economically more dynamic than others and offer better labor market opportunities; that's always been the case. What is different today is how large the difference between the most successful labor markets and the least successful labor markets has become and how fast they are growing apart. It's a paradox because it is true that we can have access to a lot of information and communicate easily from everywhere in the world, but at the same time, location remains crucial for worker productivity and for economic success."

What a Prehistoric Monument Reveals about the Value of Maintenance

"Entire civilizations rise and fall. The White Horse of Uffington remains. Scribes and historians make occasional note of the hill figure, such as in the Welsh Red Book of Hergest in 01382¹ (“Near to the town of Abinton there is a mountain with a figure of a stallion upon it, and it is white. Nothing grows upon it.”) or by the Oxford archivist Francis Wise in 01736 (“The ceremony of scouring the Horse, from time immemorial, has been solemnized by a numerous concourse of people from all the villages roundabout.”). Easily recognizable by air, the horse is temporarily hidden by turf during World War II to confuse Luftwaffe pilots during bombing raids. Today, the National Trust preserves the site, overseeing a regular act of maintenance 3,000 years in the making."

9/09/2019

Tacitus and the Germans

"No one in Germany laughs at vice, nor do they call it the fashion to corrupt and to be corrupted. Still better is the condition of those states in which only maidens are given in marriage, and where the hopes and expectations of a bride are then finally terminated. They receive one husband, as having one body and one life, that they may have no thoughts beyond, no further-reaching desires, that they may love not so much the husband as the married state. To limit the number of children or to destroy any of their subsequent offspring is accounted infamous, and good habits are here more effectual than good laws elsewhere."

Classical Education Without Tears?

"I recognize in many classical programs this same modern spirit. They have a vastly better set of books than I was given, but the message is the same: truth, beauty, and goodness are naturally attractive. Give students great books, great works of art and music, and they will love their education. It is easy to forget the observation made famous by George Orwell, reflecting on his own experience learning Latin as a boy: “I doubt whether classical education ever has been or can be successfully carried on without corporal punishment.” Classical education to be sure offers much that is wonderful. But the most important discoveries come by effort that is often painful. A joyful tour of the “true, good, and beautiful” without pain is likely a superficial substitute for a real education.

C.S. Lewis makes this point in his essay, “The Parthenon and the Optative.” Everyone knows the Parthenon, the symbol of the Golden Age of Athens. But the “optative” is known only to those who have been exposed to Greek grammar. It is a “mood” of the verb that expresses wish or desire, just as the “indicative” expresses matters of fact or the “interrogative” expresses questions. Lewis opens the essay by remembering a colleague of his looking over mediocre entrance essays and lamenting that “The trouble with these boys is that the masters have been talking to them about the Parthenon when they should have been talking to them about the Optative.”

What does this mean? As Lewis explains, “I have tended to use the Parthenon and the Optative as the symbols of two types of education. The one begins with hard, dry things like grammar, and dates, and prosody; and it has at least the chance of ending in a real appreciation which is equally hard and firm though not equally dry. The other begins in ‘Appreciation’ and ends in gush. When the first fails it has, at the very least, taught the boy what knowledge is like. He may decide that he doesn’t care for knowledge; but he knows he doesn’t care for it, and he knows he hasn’t got it. But the other fails most disastrously when it most succeeds.”[*]"

Church leaders in Zimbabwe discuss beatification cause of lay missionary

"According to the John Bradburne Memorial Society’s website, after 16 years of wandering, Bradburne wrote to his friend Father John Dove and asked: “Is there a cave in Africa where I can pray?”

He arrived in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in 1962, and shortly thereafter he told a Franciscan priest that he had three wishes: to serve leprosy patients, to die a martyr, and to be buried in the habit of St Francis.

Through a Jesuit friend in Southern Rhodesia, Bradburne came to serve at the Mutemwa Leper Settlement in 1969, and would spend the last 10 years of his life there."

9/06/2019

The strange death of Tory economic thinking

"The Home Office, by contrast, hardly thinks economically at all. As Will Davies pointed out early in the PM’s tenure, it’s a department dedicated to keeping good people safe and to keeping bad people in check. It has lots of employees it can get to do things directly, and these employees preside over impressive, solid things like prisons and border posts. It appeals to strong emotions like patriotism, community spirit and fear. It deals with victims and with wrong ’uns. Not for the Home Office the nuances and nudges of the clever, pale young men and women at the Treasury. The Home Office doesn’t do incentives: it Cracks Down, it Tightens Up, it Sends a Strong Message.

A story from the early days of the May premiership brought this home to me. For some reason, a number of senior Downing Street advisers had a discussion about business issues. The discussion turned to issue of late payments to small businesses. The fact that big businesses often pay their invoices late is a perennial issue for the business department, but successive governments have regarded as a hard problem to solve, given the state’s limited ability to intervene in commercial practices. A former Home Office spad now at Number 10 thought about this problem briefly and suggested “couldn’t we make late payment of invoices a criminal offence?” Everyone else was speechless, but that’s the way they roll in the Home Office."

Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century.

"What is Humanomics? It sounds like a combination of human and economics. And indeed this book by Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson can be read as an attempt to reintroduce the human component into economics. It can be read as a criticism of modern economics and as the presentation of a substitute for it. It can be read as a modernization of Adam Smith, the 18th century father of economics and professor of Moral Philosophy; or as a book about experimental economics. It is all of this and much more. To me, an economist already familiar with the work of Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson, this is a book about learning. It is a book that describes how we learn, how we learn from our mistakes, how we learn from things we do not understand, and how we learn from things we think we understand. We try; we err; we try; we err; we try; we err; until we stretch our knowledge so much that it breaks. And then we need to find something new."

9/05/2019

The Role of the Economist in a Free Society: The Art of Political Economy

"When Hayek was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science, he did not fail to highlight this point to the chagrin of his host and his peers. In his Nobel banquet toast, he said simply that if he had been consulted, he never would have advocated awarding Nobel Prizes to economists for the simple reason that no economic thinker should ever be provided with such public recognition, as it falsely provides a sense of authority that can be safely trusted to no economist. But Hayek wasn’t done there. In his Nobel Lecture entitled “The Pretense of Knowledge,” he made the following claims: First, we economists have indeed made a mess of things with our efforts at macroeconomic management of the western economies. Second, economists are led to make a mess of things because they have falsely adopted a methodology appropriate for the natural sciences but inappropriate for the sciences of man. He dubbed this intellectual mistake scientism. Third, a scientific discipline expected to be able to deliver useful, practical knowledge, which in fact it is incapable of producing, is a quick path toward charlatanism. Furthermore, this charlatanism is protected by vested interests within the economics profession and its relationship with agents of the state. There is an alliance, in essence, between scientism and statism, and there are self-reinforcing incentives that make this alliance difficult to break once it is forged. Fourth, unless this intellectual situation is resisted, not only will economic science be rendered worthless in terms of social understanding, but economists will become potential tyrants and destroyers of civilization.


Hayek’s essay received a revise and resubmit from the very journal he helped edit during his time at the London School of Economics—Economica. That is a very strange fate for a Nobel Lecture, but Hayek’s message was very much outside the general tenor of the times. The idea of the economist as social engineer and economics as the science that guides the engineering was then, and is now the dominant mindset across the political spectrum. This perspective shapes the advanced study of economics methodologically and analytically. But this wasn’t always the case"


Headlong Into Darkness: Social Media as Plato’s Cave

"There are days, there are days, and, then, there are days.

Yes, this is one of those days.

As I scroll through the various social-media outlets, odd manifestations, and relentless creepings, I encounter little more than hatred, bigotry, more hatred, some subtle bigotry, some not-so-subtle bigotry, a bit more hatred, and a massive and incalculable swath of fear and ignorance. Oh, look, she had two abortions; and, oh, wow, that guy is offended by so much “whiteness”; and, over there, an advertisement is kindly letting me know that I can clean up the vein mess of my legs."

Your work is more than your job

"When we hear the phrase “work-life balance,” we often think of keeping the work day, what we do for pay, within its proper limits relative to other responsibilities, such as family, friends, and faith. Certainly keeping appropriate boundaries is important in our increasingly complex and demanding lives. But by limiting “work” to what we do for a paycheck we set up a dynamic that invites such conflict in the first place.

Economists like the phenomenon of waged work because it is something that is relatively easy to measure. We can calculate how much someone gets paid per hour, how many hours they work, and come up with an idea of how much they have contributed to economic growth. This is much more difficult for things that do not have such an obvious price. It is apparent, for instance, that the work done inside the home by family members, whether a stay-at-home parent or chores before or after work and school, is productive labor. But is also work that is difficult to capture in standard economic measures. The care of children provided by a mother and father do not directly contribute to gross domestic product (GDP), while that done for pay by a childcare center or daycare is more easily measured and therefore more often seen as economically productive."

At this Arctic science base, life is anything but lonely

"The community has a culture of its own. If you are late for a communal meal, you are expected, at some point, to bake a cake for everyone. Every Saturday night is feast night, with a three-course meal. Everyone must wear a necktie or a skirt, and if you didn’t bring one, as most first timers don’t, you may use the station facilities to make one out of anything you can find, including wood, electrical wire, books, or tea bag wrappers; real examples are exhibited on the kitchen wall.


On Saturdays, soldier Mads Adamsen says, you feel like you’re “coming home to your family from another place.”"


9/02/2019

Business, The Economy, And The New Effort To Enshrine Nationalism

"My question for most who attended the economic session is this: Do you really think that family, religion, manufacturing, etc. are doing better in countries with high tariffs and national industrial policies? Certainly we can find exceptions, as with some of the center-right policies in Central and Eastern Europe, but in most cases family, religion and manufacturing are not stronger in countries with protectionist policies. Compare Chile, open for free trade, with Argentina, which is not open. Moreover, if this movement is successful in helping create national industrial policies, are their leaders and supporters aware that when political winds take the nation further to the left, it will be socialists with anti-conservative values deciding who wins and loses?


Will the effort to define and strengthen “national conservatism” pose a major danger to business? Perhaps. But people like Thiel, Cranberg and Vance are not enemies of the free economy. While the two main conveners, Yoram Hazony and David Brog, chairman and president of the Edmund Burke Foundation, seem to have a clear view of how the script should be written, most of the other speakers have their own ideas and agendas."


On Targeting the Price of Gold

"Answering the first question is relatively easy. Despite what Jay Powell suggested, reviving the gold standard and having the Fed target the price of gold aren’t the same thing. So far as most fans of the gold standard are concerned, in a genuine gold standard paper money consists of readily redeemable claims to gold; and it’s that redeemability—and not any central bank “targeting”—that keeps that paper on a par with the gold it represents.

At a still more fundamental level, a true gold standard is one in which paper money consists of legally-binding IOUs, exchangeable for definite amounts of gold, not as a matter of policy, but as a matter of contract. Making the equivalence of paper money and gold a matter of binding contracts, enforceable in ordinary law courts, rather than one of pledges made as a matter of public policy, makes that equivalence especially credible. The sovereign immunity enjoyed by most modern central banks, in contrast, renders them unfit to operate genuine gold standards even when their notes are officially redeemable in gold, because they can always change their policy, dishonoring a prior redemption pledge, with impunity. (Every older central bank has, in fact, done just that at some point in its history.)"

Boris Johnson's parliamentary fast track to Brexit

"When Parliament returns on October 14 there will all the British pomp and ceremony of the state opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, written by the Prime Minister and his office, detailing all of the legislative and government actions proposed by the government in the next session of Parliament. Debate ensues and votes on the Queen’s Speech will take place around October 21.

Parliament has to sit for the second half of October due to the Northern Ireland technicalities and also as the EU Council meeting on October 17-18, which is likely to be the last chance for an improved Withdrawal Agreement which Boris would then need to get through Parliament.

The Remainers will fight hard from the October 14 onwards but it will be almost impossible to prevent the UK’s departure at the end of October."