A few thoughts on 2017.

In times like these I have found history be to be illuminating and mollifying.  Perhaps that is why there have been so many excellent histories to hit the market.  It may also explain why Hamilton is such a monstrous hit.

My favorite reads of 2017:

  • The Republic for Which It Stands- The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 by Richard White
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt- Champion of Freedom by Conrad Black
  • The High Cost of Good Intentions –  A History of U.S. Federal entitlement programs by John F. Cogan
  • The Age of Reform by Richard Hofstadter-
  • Bourgeois Dignity by Deidre McCloskey

A few realizations from the year:

  • We are all biased. The best we can do is to try and substitute curiosity whenever we can.
  • Economics is limited- principles matter more than data and analysis.
  • Culture matters more than I realized or prefer. Policy matters less. I hope this reality is only temporary. Perhaps that is the definition of populism.
  • “History does repeat itself, but the soundtrack is different, and the sequel is usually disappointing”. – HO
  • Analysis that is illuminating to describe history is not likely useful to predict it.
  • Those who do learn from history are rare, but very valuable. History is inherently biased; most of the elements that have advanced us are not interesting enough to be recognized or recorded.
  • Clear thinking requires much more than intelligence. Intelligence can even be a hindrance.

A few quotes I returned to a few times in 2017

“Ego and self-reflection rarely go hand in hand.” ‘M’ in Casino Royale

“Never waste time killing a man who is busy committing suicide.”  Dick Army

“Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  It may be better to live under robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies.  The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”  C.S. Lewis

The ideas of economists, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. – John Maynard Keynes

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes 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 the 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 balance or mutual check, in our Constitution.”~G.K. Chesterton

“Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.”- Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples – while judging ourselves by our best intentions. ”  George W. Bush

A final note: the Rebel Yid blog has finally been updated to be mobile friendly. The LINK page has my favorites in bold and the blue bold titles are the ones I visit the most, or have content I find consistently to be the most valuable.

I will have a page soon for writers who want to submit their work.