Charles Murray, however, clearly believes that being able to cure fatal diseases is more important than some other things and that Rembrandt was a greater artist than your local sidewalk cartoon sketcher. Most people might regard this as obvious common sense but some of the intelligentsia may be seething with resentment at seeing their pet fetishes ignored.
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The poor are the very lifeblood of the left, attracting activists, supporting among the intelligentsia, and - perhaps most important - allowing the left to indulge in self-congratulation as people who 'care.' But, if they really cared, they would want to know what the facts are and what the actual consequences of their various nostrums are.
Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets.
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Not only is patriotism disdained, the very basis for pride in one's country and culture is systematically undermined in our educational institutions at all levels. The achievements of western civilization are buried in histories that portray every human sin found here as if they were peculiarities of the west.
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The growing complexity of science, technology, and organization does not imply either a growing knowledge or a growing need for knowledge in the general population. On the contrary, the increasingly complex processes tend to lead to increasingly simple and easily understood products. The genius of mass production is precisely in its making more products more accessible, both economically and intellectually to more people.
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Has Obama ever grown even a potted plant, much less a business, a bank, a hospital or any of the numerous other institutions whose decisions he wants to control and override? But he can talk glibly about growing the economy. Arrogance is no substitute for experience. That is why the country is in the mess it is in now.
The government has brought on the housing problem, partly by these very low interest rates, which encouraged many people to go way out on a limb. They've brought it on by highly restrictive building policies, which have caused housing prices to skyrocket artificially. And they've brought it on by the Community Reinvestment Act, which presumes that politicians are better able to tell investors where to put their money than the investors themselves are. When you put all that together, you get something like what you have.
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It may be expecting too much to expect most intellectuals to have common sense, when their whole life is based on their being uncommon -- that is, saying things that are different from what everyone else is saying. There is only so much genuine originality in anyone. After that, being uncommon means indulging in pointless eccentricities or clever attempts to mock or shock.
Barack Obama has done more than anyone else to promote the dangerous illusion that we can choose whether to have a war or not. But our enemies have already made that choice. Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis said: "No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it's over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote".
In its pursuit of justice for a segment of society, in disregard of the consequences for society as a whole, what is called 'social justice' might more accurately be called anti-social justice, since what consistently gets ignored or dismissed are precisely the costs to society. Such a conception of justice seeks to correct, not only biased or discriminatory acts by individuals or by social institutions, but unmerited disadvantages in general, from whatever source they may arise.
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Deep thinkers who look everywhere for the mysterious causes of poverty, ignorance, crime and war need look no further than their own mirrors. We are all born into this world poor and ignorant, and with thoroughly selfish and barbaric impulses. Those of us who turn out any other way do so largely through the efforts of others, who civilized us before we got big enough to do too much damage to the world or ourselves.
Financial institutions are not being bailed out as a favor to them or their stockholders. In fact, stockholders have come out worse off after some bailouts. The real point is to avoid a major contraction of credit that could cause major downturns in output and employment, ruining millions of people, far beyond the financial institutions involved. If it was just a question of the financial institutions themselves, they could be left to sink or swim. But it is not.
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It is not the dignitaries who are the real cause of hope, however. What is an enormously refreshing and hopeful sign is to see the young people who make up the membership of the Federalist Society. Earnest, intelligent, and unpretentious, these are the young men and women of whom any nation and any age could be proud.
High tax rates in the upper income brackets allow politicians to win votes with class warfare rhetoric, painting their opponents as defenders of the rich. Meanwhile, the same politicians can win donations from the rich by creating tax loopholes that can keep the rich from actually paying those higher tax rates - or perhaps any taxes at all. What is worse than class warfare is phony class warfare. Slippery talk about 'fairness' is at the heart of this fraud by politicians seeking to squander more of the nation's resources.
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When Congress votes for all sorts of benefits, without voting for enough taxes to pay for them, they get the support of those who have been promised the benefits, without getting grief from the taxpayers. It's strictly win-win as far as the welfare-state politicians are concerned. But it is strictly lose-lose, big-time, for the country, as deficits skyrocket.
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Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export.... Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea -- in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders.
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The dominant orthodoxy in development economics was that Third World countries were trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty that could be broken only by massive foreign aid from the more prosperous industrial nations of the world. This was in keeping with a more general vision on the Left that people were essentially divided into three categories - the heartless, the helpless, and wonderful people like themselves, who would rescue the helpless by playing Lady Bountiful with the taxpayers' money.
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The kinds of people we need in government are precisely the kinds of people who are most reluctant to go into government -- people who understand the inherent dangers of power and feel a distaste for using it, but who may do so for a few years as a civic duty. The worst kind of people to have in government are those who see it as a golden opportunity to impose their own superior wisdom and virtue on others.
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Egalitarians create the most dangerous inequality of all - inequality of power. Allowing politicians to determine what all other human beings will be allowed to earn is one of the most reckless gambles imaginable. Like the income tax, it may start off being applied only to the rich but it will inevitably reach us all.
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As far as party primaries are concerned, both Republican and Democratic Party primaries are dominated by the most zealous voters, whose views may not reflect the views of most members oftheir own respective parties, much less the views of those who are going to vote in the November general election.
Like other magicians, Obama has chosen his distractions well. The insurance industry is currently his favorite distraction as scapegoats, after he has tried to demonize doctors without much success . . . . Obama even gets away with saying things like having a system to 'keep insurance companies honest' - and many people may not see the painful irony in politicians trying to keep other people honest.
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One of the most fashionable notions of our times is that social problems like poverty and oppression breed wars. Most wars, however, are started by well-fed people with the time on their hands to dream up half-baked ideologies or grandiose ambitions, and to nurse real or imagined grievances.
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When Congress gets through investigating Attorney General Janet Reno, will her agency become known as the Obstruction of Justice Department? The civil rights movement was one of the great moral crusades in the first half of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, in more recent times it has become all too much like those it opposed, demanding racial double standards and even condoning verbal and violent attacks against members of other races.
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A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians-\-\risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has-\-\is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic
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At least half of the popular fallacies about economics come from assuming that economic activity is a zero-sum game, in which what is gained by someone is lost by someone else. But transactions would not continue unless both sides gained, whether in international trade, employment, or renting an apartment.
More than half of all people filing income tax forms use someone else to prepare the forms for them. Then they have to sign under penalty of perjury that these forms are correct. But if they were competent to determine that, why would they have to pay someone else to do their taxes for them in the first place?
The Obama administration seems to be following what might be called 'the Detroit pattern increasing taxes, harassing businesses, and pandering to unions. In the short run, it got mayors re-elected. In the long-run, it reduced Detroit from a thriving city to an economic disaster area, whose population was cut in half, as its most productive citizens fled.
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Neither your life nor my life, nor the future of this country, will be affected in the slightest by whether Linda Tripp is naughty or nice. But if any president is able to commit crimes with impunity by using the vast powers and perquisites of his office to cover up, then we will have a danger of corruption and abuse of power that can only grow with the passing years and generations.
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Barack Obama's vision of America is one in which a President of the United States can fire the head of General Motors, tell banks how to bank, control the medical system and take charge of all sorts of other activities for which neither he nor other politicians have any expertise or experience.
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However little president Obama knows or cares about economics, he knows a lot about politics - and especially political rhetoric. 'High-speed rail' is simply another set of loft words to justify continued expansion of government spending. So are words like 'investment in education' or 'investment' in any number of other things, which serves the same political purpose.
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The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits ever since 1994. You would never learn that from most of the media. Similarly you look at those blacks that have gone on to college or finished college, the incarceration rate is some tiny fraction of what it is among those blacks who have dropped out of high school. So it's not being black; it's a way of life. Unfortunately, the way of life is being celebrated not only in rap music, but among the intelligentsia, is a way of life that leads to a lot of very big problems for most people.
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Someone once said that the most important knowledge is knowledge of our own ignorance. Our schools are depriving millions of students of that kind of knowledge by promoting "self-esteem" and encouraging them to have opinions on things of which they are grossly ignorant, if not misinformed.
Ideas, as the raw material from which knowledge is produced, exist in superabundance, but that makes the production of knowledge more difficult rather than easier. Many ideas- probably most- will have to be discarded somewhere in the process of producing authenticated knowledge. Authentication is as important as the raw information itself, and the manner and speed of the authentication process can be crucial.
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Informal relationships are not mere minor interstitial supplements to the major institutions of society. These informal relationships not only include important decision-making processes, such as the family, but also produce much of the background social capital without which the other major institutions of society could not function nearly as effectively as they do.
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Failure to use tax money to finance things not liked by the taxpaying public is routinely called 'censorship.' If such terminology were used consistently, virtually all of life would be just one long, unending censorship, as individuals choose whether to buy apples instead of oranges, vacations rather than violins, furniture rather than mutual funds. But of course no such consistency is intended. This strained use of the word 'censorship' appears only selectively, to describe public choices and values at variance with the choices and values of the anointed.
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Information or allegations reflecting negatively on individuals or groups seen less sympathetically by the intelligentsia pass rapidly into the public domain with little scrutiny and much publicity. Two of the biggest proven hoaxes of our time have involved allegations of white men gang-raping a black woman- first the Tawana Brawley hoax of 1987 and later the false rape charges against three Duke University students in 2006. In both cases, editorial indignation rang out across the land, without a speck of evidence to substantiate either of these charges. Moreover, the denunciations were not limited to the particular men accused, but were often extended to society at large, of whom these men were deemed to be symptoms or 'the tip of the iceberg.' In both cases, the charges fit a pre-existing vision, and that apparently made mundane facts unnecessary. Another widely publicized hoax- one to which the President of the United States added his sub-hoax- was a 1996 story appearing in USA Today under the headline, 'Arson at Black Churches Echoes Bigotry of the Past.' There was, according to USA Today, 'an epidemic of church burning, ' targeting black churches. Like the gang-rape hoaxes, this story spread rapidly through the media. The Chicago Tribune referred to 'an epidemic of criminal and cowardly arson' leaving black churches in ruins. As with the gang-rape hoaxes, comments on the church fire stories went beyond those who were supposed to have set these fires to blame forces at work in society at large. Jesse Jackson was quoted was quoted in the New York Times as calling these arsons part of a 'cultural conspiracy' against blacks, which 'reflected the heightened racial tensions in the south that have been exacerbated by the assault on affirmative action and the populist oratory of Republican politicians like Pat Buchanan.' Time magazine writer Jack White likewise blamed 'the coded phrases' of Republican leaders for 'encouraging the arsonists.' Columnist Barbara Reynolds of USA Today said that the fires were 'an attempt to murder the spirit of black America.' New York Times columnist Bob Herbert said, "The fuel for these fires can be traced to a carefully crafted environment of bigotry and hatred that was developed over the last century.' As with the gang-rape hoaxes, the charges publicized were taken as reflecting on the whole society, not just those supposedly involved in what was widely presumed to be arson, rather than fires that break out for a variety of other reasons. Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam said that society in effect was 'giving these arsonists permission to commit these horrible crimes.' The climax of these comments came when President Bill Clinton, in his weekly radio address, said that these church burnings recalled similar burnings of black churches in Arkansas when he was a boy. There were more that 2, 000 media stories done on the subject after the President's address. This story began to unravel when factual research showed that (1) no black churches were burned in Arkansas when Bill Clinton was growing up, (2) there had been no increase in fires at black churches, but an actual decrease over the previous 15 years, (3) the incidence of fires at white churches was similar to the incidence of fires at black churches, and (4) where there was arson, one-third of the suspects were black. However, retractions of the original story- where there were retractions at all- typically were given far less prominence than the original banner headlines and heated editorial comments.
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What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month, and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are generally given 'class' labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing 'class' makes class itself a nebulous concept. Yet the intelligentsia are habituated, if not addicted, to seeing the world in class terms.
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However much history may be invoked in support of these policies (affirmative action), no policy can apply to history but can only apply to the present or the future. The past may be many things, but it is clearly irrevocable. Its sins can no more be purged than its achievements can be expunged. Those who suffered in centuries past are as much beyond our help as those who sinned are beyond our retribution.
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