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Metaphysical Rights

from Kevin Williamson at National Review, The ‘Right’ to Health Care,

Declaring a right in a scarce good is meaningless. It is a rhetorical gesture without any application to the events and conundrums of the real world. If the Dalai Lama were to lead 10,000 bodhisattvas in meditation, and the subject of that meditation was the human right to health care, it would do less good for the cause of actually providing people with health care than the lowliest temp at Merck does before his second cup of coffee on any given Tuesday morning.

Health care is physical, not metaphysical. It consists of goods, such as penicillin and heart stents, and services, such as oncological attention and radiological expertise. Even if we entirely eliminated money from the equation, conscripting doctors into service and nationalizing the pharmaceutical factories, the basic economic question would remain.

We tend to retreat into cheap moralizing when the economic realities become uncomfortable for us. No matter the health-care model you choose — British-style public monopoly, Swiss-style subsidized insurance, pure market capitalism — you end up with rationing: Markets ration through prices, bureaucracies ration through politics. Price rationing is pretty straightforward: Think of Jesse James and his “Pay Up, Sucker!” tattoo on his palm. Political rationing is a little different: Sometimes it happens through waiting lists and the like, and sometimes it is just a question of money and clout. American progressives love the Western European medical model, but when Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi needed a pacemaker, he came to the United States to have it implanted.

There is no substitute for abundance. And the great enemy of abundance is the bias against profit. There is something deeply rooted in us that instinctively thinks we are being abused if someone else makes a profit on a deal. That is a dumb and primitive way of thinking — our world is full of wonders because it is profitable to invent them, build them, and sell them — but the angel is forever handcuffed to the ape.

Poor Winners and Worse Losers

Peggy Noonan at the WSJ,  Trump Has Been Lucky in His Enemies

That most entrenched bastion of the progressive left, America’s great universities, has been swept by . . . well, one hardly knows what to call it. “Political correctness” is too old and doesn’t do it justice. It is a hysteria—a screeching, ignorant wave of sometimes violent intolerance for free speech. It is mortifying to see those who lead great universities cower in fear of it, attempt to placate it, instead of stopping it.

When I see tapes of the protests and riots at schools like Berkeley, Middlebury, Claremont McKenna and Yale, it doesn’t have the feel of something that happens in politics. It has the special brew of malice and personal instability seen in the Salem witch trials. It sent me back to rereading Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Heather Mac Donald danced with the devil! Charles Murray put the needle in the poppet! As in 17th-century Salem, the accusers have no proof of anything because they don’t know, read or comprehend anything.

The cursing pols, the anathematizing abortion advocates, the screeching students—they are now the face of the progressive left.

This is what America sees now as the face of the Democratic Party. It is a party blowing itself up whose only hope is that Donald Trump blows up first.

He may not be lucky in all of his decisions or staffers, or in his own immaturities and dramas. But hand it to him a hundred days in: He’s lucky in his main foes.

HKO

As bad as Trump may be he is still preferred over the illiberal insanity that has come to identify the left. The left wins poorly and loses worse.

Illiberal Contempt

From David French at National Review, America’s ‘Smug-Liberal Problem’

The only people who can’t recognize that our nation has a “smug liberal” problem are smug liberals. Case in point, smug liberal (and television comedienne) Samantha Bee. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Bee to react to a pre-election Ross Douthat column that called out Bee and other late-night comics in part for creating a comedy world of “hectoring monologues,” full of comedians who are “less comics than propagandists — liberal ‘explanatory journalists’ with laugh lines.”

We’re all familiar with the style. It features the generous use of selective clips from Fox News, copious amounts of mockery, and a quick Wikipedia- and Google-search level of factual understanding. The basic theme is always the same: Look at how corrupt, evil, and stupid our opponents are, look how obviously correct we are, and laugh at my marvelous and clever explanatory talent. It’s like sitting through an especially ignorant and heavy-handed Ivy League lecture, complete with the sycophantic crowd lapping up every word.

Yes, there is a smug-liberal problem in America, one that smart liberals recognize. Stephens is right. You don’t win converts with mockery. You can sometimes win grudging compliance, but you mainly make enemies — especially when your mockery reveals your own ignorance and inconsistency. But as we know, the smug liberal doesn’t care. They want to make enemies. After all, how do they measure their own virtue? When the Right rages, they rejoice. The unbelievers deserve their pain.

HKO

Samantha Bee is the epitome of unfunny political commentary.  This smugness is just seething with illiberalism and contempt and is a major reason for Trump’s victory. As Peggy Noonan said so appropriately Trump Has Been Lucky in His Enemies

 

Religion without God

from the Claremont Review of Books, The Church of Environmentalism

In contrast to Klein’s dogmatism, Robert Nelson’s The New Holy Wars takes a measured, philosophical approach to the environment and the economy. A professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, Nelson devotes a significant portion of his book to “religious” aspects of economic thought. Religious thought masquerading as empirical inquiry, he notes, is far from the exclusive province of environmentalists.

Yet his discussion of environmentalism offers the deepest insights. In Nelson’s view, today’s environmentalist religion is rooted in “Calvinism minus God.” He discusses the founding environmentalists, from John Muir to Rachel Carson, who were brought up in the Calvinist tradition, and skewers today’s climate fundamentalists for rejecting technical solutions in favor of Manichean moral arguments. “In environmental religion, global warming is a sin against God, not an issue to be resolved by economic calculations of possible future benefits and costs to human beings.”

The conservative blogger Ace of Spades has written, “God, save us from those who have no god but who are bursting at the seams with religion.” It is long past time for conservatives to develop a serious, public critique of environmental theology, which perverts the science it claims to serve. If environmentalists wish to play a serious role in future policy debates, they will have to focus more on empirical findings and less on a holy war against real or imagined adversaries. As the continued popularity of Klein and her kindred shows, environmentalism’s crisis of faith is not yet at hand.

 

Progressive Disruption

SASSE and RY B

The Challenge of Our Disruptive Era by Ben Sasse at National Review

Industrialization brought a massive disruption. At the end of the Civil War, 86% of Americans still worked on the farm. By the end of World War II, 80 years later, 60% of Americans lived in cities. One of the most disruptive times in American history was the Progressive Era. And what was Progressivism? Not much more than the response of trying to remake society in an era of mass immigration, industrialization and rising cities. But it turned out not to be as disruptive as people feared, because once you got to the city, you got a new job, which you’d probably have until death or retirement. And the social capital that used to be in the village tended to be replicated in urban ethnic neighborhoods.

HKO

Progressivism redefined the principles of the Constitution to adapt to the disruption of the industrial age.  How will the principles of the Constitution be redefined (or rediscovered) to adapt to the even greater disruptive change?  How will the economic principles of capitalism adapt?