Is The American Dream Killing You?

A fiercely persuasive warning the ‘the market’ is destroying our society. Stiles desperately hopes we can heal our perspectives before it is too late. — Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale, and author of The Western Canon A powerful and disturbing look at the remaking of American life by a new, harsher form of capitalism. To read this eye-opening book is to grasp how the free market’s cold logic is eroding our most cherished human values–and to see clearly what must be done to save America’s soul. — David Callahan, Senior Fellow, Demos, and author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead These are the quotes on the front and back, respectively, of the newly published book Is The American Dream Killing You? by my old friend Paul Stiles. I wrote a bit about it earlier, here. What am I going to do with my old friend? I really have to twist and turn to imagine a context where the above quotes don’t mean what I think they do, and Paul’s book is not what I think it is. Well, I have it in hand, now, so I guess I’ll see….

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Politics Test, Part III

Continued from Part II. Or, begin at Part I. 23. I would feel better if there were video cameras on most street corners, to prevent crime. Strongly Disagree. I’m taking it to mean that they’re Big Brother video cameras. Of course, I don’t want Big Brother to do anything, which would include surveillance of myself or anyone else. I want it to get out of the way so that I can more effectively provide for my own defense. Nonetheless, given their existence, do I feel better, which I generally take to mean: safer? No, and neither should anyone else. All this nonsense about cameras and security screening, ad nauseum, is nothing more than a grand exercise in keeping the public in line by making it difficult for anyone to realistically assess the risks to themselves and loved ones. Big Brother plays the role of a parent who shields its child’s view of some horrifying image while uttering the words, “don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right.” London is the most surveilled city in the world, with 400,000 cameras. A lot of good it did them in the recent train bombings, eh? And how many pedestrians and commuters are less…

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Supremely Mysterious

I’ve made a few rounds this morning since hearing of Bush’s SCOTUS nomination. There are good summary and analysis pieces both here and here. Setting aside my own anarchist tendencies for a moment, Bush’s move strikes me as more of a businesslike move than a political one. It is in business (medium to large, but not usually gigantic) where you most often see this sort of thing. Rather than install some cloistered elite with all the right things on their resume, he’s going with someone he trusts, and who he believes can do the job. By what standards constitute a good job with him, I have no idea. The only thing I know is that no one is going to be able to predict whether she’s going to be an activist for the right (push all the old taboos), an activist for the left (push for a bunch of new taboos), a judicial conservative (limiting the power of government), all over the map, or just go with the flow, whatever it may be. I guess we’ll see. I am entertained that so many on the right have their panties all up in a bunch. All the pundits were just licking…

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“Economic Idiotarianism”

This post was formerly and boringly titled: Supply and Demand Here’s a data point that serves to explain why it’s far too frustrating for me to engage democrats in a discussion over politics or economics. Forget the fact that I’ll never convince them that it’s wrong to steal one person’s property to “help” another. I can’t even get them to understand a trivial economic principle. 1) The government needs to do something about high gas prices and “price gouging.” 2) The government needs to do something to force people to conserve gas, and save energy. Update: I retitled the post shortly after writing it and stumbling across this, via Balko.

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Politics Test, Part II

Continued from Part I 12. Professional athletes are paid too much money. Strongly Disagree. Since such judgments depend on one’s personal subjective value hierarchy, it’s hard to see what that has to do with politics. So, I take the question to mean something like: professional athletes should be paid less and teachers should be paid more, and the government should regulate such levels. But athletes are only paid what you, as fans, are willing to pay them in the form of ticket purchases, trademark apparel, products they endorse, and so on. If enough of you quit buying those things, athletes will be paid less, much less. Since I believe in freedom, I can only answer the question for myself, which, whether I think athletes are paid to much, not enough, or just right, my only valid action in the matter is to decide my own level of spending, if any. What you choose to spend your money on is none of my business, and so this cannot rightly come under the purview of “public policy,” assuming there should even be any such thing. 13. Tradition is a reliable guide in deciding what’s right. Agree. This was a tough one, because…

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