Republicanism and Aristocracy

The third aristocracy identified by McLaughlin is a cultural aristocracy embedded in media, entertainment, higher education, and increasingly in corporations and public school.  To the extent that this aristocracy projects values and rules that are in conflict with a large portion of the population, there is a reaction similar to the reaction to the previous political and economic aristocracies.

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Taming the News

Successful journalism is less likely to be measured by objective truth, clarity, and illumination than by clicks and shares. Clicks and shares are generated by outrage and fear mongering. If your first response to an article is outrage or vindication, put it aside for a few days; you are being played.

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Political Realities

Progress emanates from the work of a very few, unpredictably and contrary to conventional wisdom. The protection of freedom and individual rights for these few benefits us all more than the rights accruing only to the majority.

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The Evolution of Republicanism

We will always have elites in a technical world and we are free to choose the elites we respect.  What has happened is a segment of elites  does not return the respect, inviting contempt.  When these elites lose respect and this leadership becomes entrenched and unaccountable, the people or the new republicanism seek clumsy tools to influence these institutions.   This is a sound warning from the author.  

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Books That Changed My Views

ronically the system that recognized the permanence of human flaws, the Lockean influence on the American Constitution, has proven far less oppressive than the systems that believed in the malleability of human nature.

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Principles and Ideology

Principles are not accountable to ideologies; ideologies are accountable to principles.

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Radical Omnipotence

“I care less about whether the top personal income-tax rate is 39 percent or 36 percent than I do about whether we can pick one and stick to it for a few decades at least, and, more generally, about ensuring that we do not undertake big and disruptive changes to the policy environment without real consensus and careful deliberation. But instead of that conservative approach, every time a party achieves a temporary majority in Congress or control of the White House, its leaders promise revolution and a radical reordering of taxes, regulations, incentives, terms of trade, and everything else they can think of. “

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Covert Spending

“Subsidized credit is the coward’s way of spending money on friends and cronies, because spending-by-lending allows you to list these subsidies as “assets” on your books rather than characterizing them as spending.”

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Why are Stock Buybacks Bad?

When a company buys back shares they buy it from shareholders who willingly sell their shares to deploy their capital elsewhere. When they sell their shares the gain is subject to taxes, so it is not like a buyback generates no tax revenues (unless the shares are sold by non taxable endowments or non profits).

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Policies and Outcomes

“That is the great Democratic tax strategy: create tax subsidies for businesses and then, two elections later, complain that businesses take advantage of tax subsidies. “

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Biden has Become a Scapegoat

Our political elite took supply for granted.  They confused dollars with goods.  Demand stimulus is a very short term and limited tool.  If we get into debt to stimulate demand, what happens when we pay it back?  Debts are always repaid – one way or another- even if you are not a Lannister.

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Liberalism and Paternalism

“Strongman democracy is in practice very much like ordinary monarchy or dictatorship, and the strongman usually outlasts the democracy. It is democracy without liberalism.”

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The 2 Percent and the 80 Percent

“As is so often the case in our contemporary politics, what we are talking about matters mostly because it is a way of not talking about something else.”

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Is the Mass Shooter Problem Exaggerated?

“The problem with America isn’t that it is full of guns — the problem with America is that it is full of Americans.”

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Guns and Shooters

we must decide if we prefer criminal justice over social justice.  It is time to place concern for the victims, which are also disproportionately minorities, over concern for the perpetrators.

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Poetic Disinformation

Even the most educated and credentialed are subject to cognitive biases, and commitment to a preferred narrative over objective facts.

This is especially true for a government run Ministry of Truth, no matter what you decide to call it.

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Liberty is Boring

“Because the hatred of adjacent heretics is more intimate and more intense than the hatred of distant infidels, these rightists end up doing things that would be otherwise inexplicable,”

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Truth Wizards

“Another driving force behind the growth of the fact-checking complex is the necessity of enforcing loyalty to progressive ideas that can’t survive on their own. Stripped of their specialized language and social and bureaucratic context, key articles of Progressive Church faith are repulsive to most ordinary voters, regardless of gender or race.”

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Stability is Boring

“The free world isn’t free because it is rich — it is rich because it is free. Freedom is not only a moral good but also a practical one: Because we have a system that enables us to fail quickly and fail cheaply, we can try many different approaches to social and material problems, throwing everything we have at them and seeing what works. Authoritarian societies, in contrast, have trouble adapting to fluid conditions, often discomfited by problems that cannot be solved with bayonets.”

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The Consequences of Our Ignorance

While distrust of media has led people to even less reliable sources we are misled as much by the omission of stories that are true as we are by the acceptance of stories that are not.  Facts, incomplete or out of context, can also be used to mislead.

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