Elections Have Consequenses

BN-KN997_negas0_M_20150929190135Keep that in mind if you live in New England this winter. While you’re freezing in the dark because of high energy prices, the rest of us are enjoying some of the lowest prices in a generation,

Why? Quite simply because we like fracking, and gas pipelines, and you don’t. From the Wall Street Journal.

Natural gas is so abundant in much of the U.S. that producers want to export it overseas. But in New England, gas is so hard to get that companies are importing it from as far away as Yemen.

Natural gas is so abundant and cheap in much of the U.S. that producers want to export it overseas. Except in New England, where gas is so hard to get that companies are importing it from as far away as Yemen.

The U.S. shale boom that has produced a glut of gas—and helped lower many Americans’ home heating bills—has largely bypassed the energy-starved New England. Few pipelines are available to ferry gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio to Connecticut and Maine, and new lines proposed in the region won’t go into service until 2018, or later.

Gas plants currently supply 44% of New England’s electricity, up from just 18% in 2000. Consumers and businesses are also swapping their old furnaces that burn heating oil for newer models that run on gas.

So as the weather cools, problems loom.

When brutal cold hits this winter, energy prices will soar. In Massachusetts, the residential gas price was $14 per thousand cubic feet last January, more than 50% above the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Department. At nearly 21 cents a kilowatt-hour, average first-quarter home electricity prices in New England were two-thirds higher than the U.S. average, federal data show.

Source: In New England, Shale Gas Is Hard to Get – WSJ

Oh, and it’s supposed to be snowier and colder than normal this year, so you can’t even count on global warming to keep your butt warm.


Why Our Commanders Look The Other Way During Child Rape

w7044This is important

The revelation that our generals expect Americans solders to allow screaming young boys to be sodomized and not stop it is simply the latest manifestation of the utter moral bankruptcy infecting the senior ranks of the U.S. military.

The problems with America’s military—which has now failed to win three wars in a row against backward fanatics whom the nineteenth-century Brits would have handily dispatched to hell in time for tea—are not merely budgetary. You can’t buy real leaders, leaders with strategic competence and moral courage. Aging equipment, while a problem, is nothing compared to the incompetence and moral cowardice of our military’s senior leaders.

Note the term “moral cowardice.” Many of these generals are decorated combat veterans who would gleefully charge an enemy machine-gun nest. But that physical courage in the face of the enemy does not translate into moral courage in the face of politicians and social justice warriors. It’s disheartening to see officers with Combat Infantryman badges and silver stars sheepishly nodding along with the lies of the coddled liberal elite.

There are fine generals—I served under many. But enough are not that the ranks are demoralized and the best and brightest future leaders are abandoning military careers, not because they don’t want to serve, but because they know it will be difficult to succeed unless they likewise abandon the principles that propelled them toward service in the first place.

You Can’t Just Blame Obama

It would be too easy to blame Barack Obama. As commander in chief, he is responsible for everything those under his command do or fail to do, and his political agendas and bizarre social engineering priorities, enacted by the eager band of loyalists he has promoted into the senior ranks over more capable warriors, have little to do with fighting and winning. Without a media interested in holding him to account for the dreadful performance of the military since his inauguration, Obama has a free ride.

Source: Why Our Commanders Look The Other Way During Child Rape

That follows from one of the themes we have always spoken of here: personal responsibility.

But, lest you think I’m simply enunciating a diatribe against the top echelon of our officer corp, I’m not. It’s endemic in our society. It applies to every electrician who says “it’s in the plan”, to every person who says “it’s not my job”, to every person who sees a problem and walks away. It’s the reason we have safety rules that protect idiots while making the actual job nearly impossible.

In business we call it careerism, it’s what happens when we look at a problem and decide it might mess up our promotion, if we try to fix a problem, or horrors, someone might accuse us of political incorrectness. You know like saying women are not the same as men (not inferior, they’re not, just different). Political correctness is very often the enemy of common sense. The important thing to remember is that common sense once was common because it is objectively correct, even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

In the church, it’s often called clericalism, and it is both pernicious and corrosive. Trying to live correctly according to God’s will is difficult enough with good guidance from the clergy, it’s nearly impossible if said clergy is trying above all to keep their job, not doing their job.

When I was young and around some military guys, they called it “seeing stars in your eyes” (and on your shoulders). From what they said it most often happened to colonels (and sadly even more often to those colonel’s wives). It did not, let us say, contribute to good order and discipline, for all the reasons that Kurt and I have both said. The difference in the military is that it literally can (and often does) cost lives. it seems to me that it has moved up the rank structure now, it seems to be a persistent infection of the flag ranks, which is also true in business. I’m not saying there is no reason for it, one merely needs to look at Brendan Eich to understand that.

But in our system, it is too important to leave untreated, in any area, and we are not treating it; in the military, in business, in the church, or academia, or anywhere, really.

And until we do, we will not progress. And think about this, as well, as you start to think about who you support for president, in either party. Much of the cure is always leadership, there are good people out there, but they can easily run on the rocks in a culture that usually denigrates telling it like it is, rather than what we wish it was.

“Adam Smith, Rationalized,” By David Conway

I’m no scholar of Adam Smith, as much as I admire his work. That’s true even though I’ve read both of the linked works several times, there is a fair amount of nuance in Smith, as well as some pretty dry going. I sometimes have trouble reconciling Wealth of Nations with Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well. I think, judging by David Conway’s report that Jack Russell Weinstein, of the University of North Dakota, does an admirable job.

Here’s a bit of it:

Most importantly, if it turns out that, as Weinstein rightly claims was Smith’s view, free societies depend for their viability on the rationality of their members, and their rationality depends on the preparedness of their societies to ensure that they become such through provision of suitable schooling for all, then those in favor of free societies must also be prepared to countenance, as indeed was Smith, the public provision of schooling to ensure all societal members can and do develop the requisite degree of rationality. As Weinstein carefully explains in what are, perhaps, the most original and valuable chapters of his book:

It is Smith’s argument that education . . . is the security that ensures that students remain virtuous: an inadequate education results in the deprivation of moral capabilities . . . Smith is making the point that a child’s education benefits everyone . . . that education is one of the preconditions for the successful functioning of the invisible hand . . . Thus, Smith argues, the sovereign must . . . subsidize public education to help those who . . . cannot help themselves . . . For him, education provides a benefit to the state for little cost and, therefore, funding of public educational institutions for the young is a well-regarded trade-off.

The sovereign must ensure that all people have access to at least a minimum schooling. Education, is, for Smith, a basic good—a necessity of human life . . . Differing classes are entitled to equal minimal education but not to identical experiences. In this respect Smith’s commitment . . . is like Rawls’ maximin principle: the goal is to raise the bottom rung, not to create an equality of result . . . . Smith’s philosophy of education is both a theory of pluralism and a means to cultivate rationality. It argues that the more one develops rational abilities, the more one can create unity in the face of difference.

To say that Smith favored public provision of education is not to say that he would have condoned, let alone applauded, the present systems of public provision in western liberal democracies where whole populations are subject to effective monopoly supply without any choice or benefits of competition that only effective consumer sovereignty brings.

Source: “Adam Smith, Rationalized,” By David Conway | Nomocracy In Politics

Decadence, Part 3: Democracy

Decadence_Title_(Screenshot)And so we return to the series. On this one, we’re going to have to turn some filters on since we’re mostly Americans.

He focuses here rather strongly on Australia, which is fine, but Australia is not America, and most of us are Americans. Our problems are not dissimilar, but in ways Australia is the most nanny state of us all, and the amount of government meddling in lives would likely shock us. I also sense a  lessening of the old fear in the English-speaking world (by those opposed to the government, at any given time) of the old fear of “Mobocracy”.

I also notice a decided lack of respect for the base reason we formed states in the first place, to protect ourselves and our property from others, whether gangs, other states, or a flood of refugees who want us to take care of them, and turn themselves into illegal immigrants to be such.

But even if we don’t agree with all he says here, he does an excellent job of limning the issues.

Enjoy, and think.

Decadence: or Modern Life

Aston Martin 2-Litre 2/4-Seater Sports 1937

Aston Martin 2-Litre 2/4-Seater Sports 1937 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was young, all around me I could hear adults saying, “You can’t buy happiness.” often with a humorous dependent clause, to elicit a rueful chuckle. But in the main, we knew and believed it.

But it seems to me, many do believe it now. I knew when I was 5 and drooling over the Sears Christmas catalog, that nothing in there, on its own, was going to keep me happy long. The same is true now, as I drool over the Snap-on catalog or the Aston-Martin brochure. Some things would, did, and do fire my imagination, for me it was electric trains, and Tonka trucks, they let me imitate the world of men (sorry ladies, you didn’t have much role in my 5-year-old imagination). But, perhaps strangely, I never liked equipment with figures on it: the operators seat was where my imagination sat. That may be unique to me, but I doubt it.

But I grew up in a pretty traditional family, and in a rural area to boot. It was entirely conceivable to tell me, after breakfast, to go play, I’ll call you for lunch, and it was done, often. That left me open to learning things, by experiment, by reasoning through things, to use my imagination, unfettered. I have no clue how many times I single-handedly won World War II in Indiana, but it was certainly in triple digits. The same with roads and power lines built, and crops brought in.

So we are going to have a series, I don’t know how long, or whether it will be continuous, or not. We’ll see how it goes. We’re going to investigate how we came to believe that so very novel idea, that we can buy happiness. In many ways, the last two posts here have been a sort of prologue, documenting how our (mostly) young people have gotten themselves into trouble, today we’ll start looking at the causes. I don’t agree with all the specifics here, but he touches on many truths that we need to heed. So listen up, and we’ll start on our mission because we can’t fix it till we define the problem.

Kipling reminds us:

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Education, Students Loans, and John Adams

quote-education-makes-a-greater-difference-between-man-and-man-than-nature-has-made-between-man-and-brute-john-adams-314611John Adams once wrote this to Abigail:

“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Personally, I think higher education in this country has lost its way. Easy money has converted it from what Adams thought his grandsons should study to what he had studied. It has become little more than a trade school, a factory for diplomas, and often a very expensive one.

Now mind, there is nothing at all wrong with trade schools, we must, if we are to live even moderately well, know how to govern ourselves, and defend ourselves, not to mention fix the roads and plumbing. That is all very honorable, but it does not require, although it often benefits from, an education in the classic liberal arts, and the practitioners always do. But it does not require it.

To me, Adam’s second tier, that his sons should study, is represented these days mostly by the so-called STEM courses: science, technology, engineering, math. They are the middle way, more abstract thinking, and vision but rooted in the practical, adding to that an ability to communicate clearly and effectively, and you create the world of tomorrow. This is the realm of the inventor/entrepreneur: the Edisons, the Bells, but also the Thomas Crappers, the Commodore Vanderbilts, the Carnegies, and also Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, not to mention Dr. Jonas Salk,  those who take ideas, and make them practical, and bring them to market.

But that third tier, has little direct connection with the practical. this is where we learn about ourselves, and learn to make men better. It is the highest expression of civilization, if it is not, something has gone wrong. There is an upper limit, and it is quite low, on the number of people who can be supported adequately to study this. In large measure, the prosperity of Britain and America in the last four hundred, or so, years, has allowed us to lead civilization, because we could afford to think, to question, and to discuss, these matters.

And so, if you are a high school senior, you likely want to go to college. Why? To be a better barista? Well, no doubt you will be, but enough better to justify the cost? Or to be an engineer? That will justify much more education than being a barista will, but not an infinite cost. Always, always, as you enter the job market, your value is based on what you know that is relative to the job on offer. If I’m hiring an apprentice, I don’t expect you to know much about electricity (and most of that will be wrong) as I expect you to have a strong back, and a willingness to learn. Frankly a know-it-all with a degree is less attractive than a high school drop-out who desperately wants to earn a living. And that is the trap, my young friend, when you come out of college, with that expensive degree, in whatever irrelevant (to me) subject, bought with borrowed money, you are worth no more in the market that drop-out working for his next meal, and that’s what I’ll pay you. Will you advance further and/or faster? Perhaps, that’s up to you, your application of your knowledge (and ability to learn) and your attitude in a number of ways.

Hard words? Perhaps, but they’re also true ones won in the school of hard knocks provided by experience. Here are some more

And always remember that you do not go to college to learns stuff. You go to college to learn how to think, and learn.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
John Adams, The Portable John Adams

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