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Liberty and Liberalism

“The fact that this book was originally written with only the British public in mind does not appear to have seriously affected its intelligibility for the American reader. But there is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here to forestall any misunderstanding. I use throughout the term “liberal” in the original, nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that “liberal” has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives.”

“It is true, of course, that in the struggle against the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of actively working for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused. Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature, is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege. The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights “to some which are not available on equal terms to others.”

Excerpt From: F. A. Hayek. “The Road to Serfdom.” University of Chicago Press, 2010-04-06. iBooks.
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This recalls:

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.” ― G.K. Chesterton

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Consumers of Excess

learmcfarlane

from the New York Times Sunday June 28, 2015, All in the Family Guys- an interview with Set McFarlane and Norman Lear:

SM: Not today. If you make a thoughtful statement, or even ask a question about an uncomfortable subject today, you are pounced on by a thousand different media outlets that will eat you for breakfast.

PG: Because it’s not P.C.?

SM: Partially, but it’s more than that. There’s a whole industry that piles on, and it’s a harmful industry because it’s made people resistant to speak their minds. It doesn’t matter what you believe personally if they can fix their mold of what they want you to be.

NL: America’s biggest export is excess. We are excessive about everything. And we’ve become consumers of excess rather than citizens. Media doesn’t inform so much as it argues, bumper-sticker-style. Context is everything, and we get very little context now. We just get the “Boom!”

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A Last Opportunity Denied

the wire

From Townhall Walter Williams writes The True Black Tragedy

excerpts:

The minimum wage law and other labor regulations have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Put yourself in the place of an employer, and ask: If I must pay $7.25 an hour — plus mandated fringes, such as Social Security and workers’ compensation — would it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate as to possess skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value per hour? Most employers view that as a losing economic proposition. Thus, the minimum wage law discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers, who are most often youths — particularly black youths.

The little bit of money a teenager can earn through after-school, weekend and summer employment is not nearly so important as the other things he gains from early work experiences. He acquires skills and develops good work habits, such as being prompt, following orders and respecting supervisors. In addition, there are the self-respect and pride that a youngster gains from being financially semi-independent. All of these gains from early work experiences are important for any teen but are even more important for black teens. If black teens are going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, they aren’t going to learn it from their rotten schools, their dysfunctional families or their crime-ridden neighborhoods. They must learn it on the job.

HKO

While many may benefit from a higher minimum wage certainly one group that will not is the black youth and other youth shut out of their first job.  That job is often the last opportunity to learn how the world works.

 

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Uberization of America

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From Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, Driving Uber Mad

As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, “There’s an Uber for everything now. Washio is for having someone do your laundry, Sprig and SpoonRocket cook your dinner and Shyp will mail things out so you don’t have to brave the post office. Zeel delivers a massage therapist (complete with table). Heal sends a doctor on a house call, while Saucey will rush over alcohol. And by Jeeves — cutesy names are part of the schtick — Dufl will pack your suitcase and Eaze will reup a medical marijuana supply.”

There is also Luxe, which uses GPS to offer a personal parking valet dressed in a blue uniform who will meet you at your destination and park your car for you.

But they’ll no doubt all have mutually insured destruction rating systems, too, so Saucey will reveal how politely I grab my bottle of Grey Goose.

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Confusion of Virtue

From the New York Times, Weary of Relativity by Frank Bruni

excerpts

Set the bar low enough and all blame is deflected, all shame expunged. Choose the right points of reference and behold the alchemy: naughty deeds into humdrum conformity. Excess into restraint. Sinners into saints.

When it comes to money, almost everybody looks up — not down or sideways — to determine how he or she is doing and what he or she might be owed. There’s always someone higher on the ladder and getting a whole lot more, always someone who establishes a definition of greed that you fall flatteringly short of.

One titan’s bonanza becomes the next titan’s yardstick, and the pay of the nation’s top executives spirals ever further out of control.

Then there’s the moral jujitsu that American voters have become especially adept at in these polarized times. Many of them unreservedly exalt their party’s emissary — and inoculate him or her from disparagement — simply because he or she represents the alternative to someone from the other side. Being the lesser of evils is confused with being virtuous, though it’s a far, far cry from that.

President Obama stumbles or falls and is pardoned by all-or-nothing partisans on the grounds that he’s not George W. Bush. Those same partisans wave off any naysaying about his foreign policy by bringing up the invasion of Iraq. And the bungled rollout of Obamacare? A mere wisp of inconvenience in comparison with the botched response to Hurricane Katrina. Everything’s relative.

Except it’s not.

There are standards to which government, religion and higher education should be held. There are examples that politicians and principled businesspeople should endeavor to set, regardless of whether their peers are making that effort. There’s right and wrong, not just better or worse.