Missing the full story or working on assumptions that do not capture the actual story, the rational idiot has provided himself with a license to act as a rational monster.
…the conception of a ‘value to society’ is sometimes carelessly used
even by economists… there is strictly speaking no such thing and the
expression implies [a] sort of anthropomorphism or personification of
society…Services can have value only to particular people (or an
organization), and any particular service will have very different
values for different members of society. To regard them differently is
to treat society not as a spontaneous order of free men but as an
organization whose members are all made to serve a single hierarchy of
ends (Law, Legislation and Liberty, vol. 2., p.75).
“A free society is a pluralistic society without a common hierarchy of particular ends.” (Id., 109).
Incidentally, today is my father's 85th birthday. Celebrating with him
and having him around, not only on this special day, is a source of
enourmous joy for me. In fact, we love each other dearly, the once difficult son and the once difficult father. We are working hard and with relish to
keep it that way, and the mutual effort is entirely a matter of our
very personal values and preferences being at work coincidentally - at nobody's involuntary or unfair cost.
Society knows nothing of it.
In our ongoing reporting we move on from pizza to organic food.
From a link offered in John Stossel's excellent post Organic Hype, note the below excerpts from his latest book, "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity:"
MYTH: Pesticide residues in food cause cancer and other diseases.
TRUTH: The residues are largely harmless.
Ames laughs at the claims of chemically induced cancers, and he should
know-he's the one who invented the test that first frightened people
about a lot of those chemicals. It's called the Ames Test, and its
first use in the 1970s raised alarms by revealing there were
carcinogens in hair dye, and in the flame retardants in children's
pajamas. Ames helped get the chemicals banned.
Before the Ames Test, the traditional way to test a substance
was to feed big doses of it to animals and wait to see if they got
cancer or had babies with birth defects. But those tests took two to
three years and cost $100,000. So Dr. Ames said, "Instead of testing
animals, why not test bacteria? You can study a billion of them on just
one Petri dish and you don't have to wait long for the next generation.
Bacteria reproduce every twenty minutes."
The test proved successful. It was hailed as a major scientific
breakthrough, and today, the Ames Test is one of the standards used to
discover if a substance is carcinogenic.
But after getting the hair dye and the flame retardants banned,
Dr. Ames and other scientists continued testing chemicals. "People
started using our test," he told me, "and finding mutagens
everywhere-in cups of coffee, on the outside of bread, and when you fry
This made him wonder if his tests were too sensitive, and led
him to question the very bans he'd advocated. A few years later, when I
went to a supermarket with him, he certainly didn't send out any danger
DR. AMES Practically everything in the supermarket, if you
really looked at it at the parts per billion level, would have
carcinogens. Vegetables are good for you, yet vegetables make toxic
chemicals to keep off insects, so every vegetable is 5 percent of its
weight in toxic chemicals. These are Nature's pesticides. Celery,
alfalfa sprouts, and mushrooms are just chock-full of carcinogens.
STOSSEL Over there it says "Organic Produce." Is that better?
DR. AMES No, absolutely not, because the amount of pesticide
residues-man-made pesticide residues-people are eating are actually
trivial and very, very tiny amounts! We get more carcinogens in a cup
of coffee than we do in all the pesticide residues you eat in a day.
In a cup of coffee? To put the risks in perspective, Ames and
his staff analyzed the results of every cancer test done on rats and
mice. By comparing the dose that gave the rodents cancer to the typical
exposure people get, they came up with a ranking of the danger.
Pesticides such as DDT and EDB came out much lower than herb tea,
peanut butter, alcohol, and mushrooms. We moved over to the mushrooms
as the cameras continued to roll, and Dr. Ames put his mouth where his
DR. AMES One raw mushroom gives you much more carcinogens than any polluted water you're going to drink in a day.
STOSSEL So you're saying we shouldn't eat fresh produce?
DR. AMES No. Fresh produce is good for you! Here, I'll eat a raw mushroom even though it's full of carcinogens.
Dr. Ames is widely respected in the scientific community, but he
is not on many journalists' electronic Rolodexes. He's the real deal,
and no help at all if you're looking for screaming headlines.
The image depicts melanerpes formicivorus, the Acorn Woodpecker, (how would one judge the bird under the Legal Rights for Trees - paradigm?):
In dubio pro reo (the presumption of innocence) is an important legal principle.
I am not in a position to assess (1) the accusations against ACORN presented in a report released by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. By implication, I do not intend to insinuate a connection of similarity between the report's claims and the below (2) clip that attempts to document how a civil rights movement was instrumentalised by people of very different ulterior motives to first stop, then influence and finally benefit from a very famous film.
Nonetheless, both (1) the report and (2) the film are notable in their own right.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN,
deservedly has received enormous amounts of bad press over the past
couple years. The New Orleans-based nonprofit network of radical
activists, with hundreds of affiliates in more than 40 states, has been
at the center of investigations into voter registration fraud,
unauthorized use of taxpayer funds for lobbying and other forms of
partisan politics, phony tax filings, and an embezzlement scandal that
cost its founder and chief organizer his job a little over a year ago.
Now a key Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has weighed
in, releasing last week the results of a full-length probe by committee
staffers. The report concludes that ACORN fits the definition of a
criminal enterprise under the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption
Organizations Act (RICO). That's especially ominous in light of the
group's imminent huge boost in federal subsidies in the Obama era.
So, today we actually slept in a bit (well, sort of--I was the second to the last one out of bed at 8). Not really sure why I've had so much trouble sleeping past about 6:30, although I think it's got something to do with the fact that we're in a different time zone--and on the leading end of the new time zone, so when the sun comes out here (and it seems brighter in the mountains), it makes me think that it's time to get up--even when it's only 5:30 or 6 a.m. Sigh. Fortunately (?) it was pretty overcast today, so the sun didn't come blasting through the window.
I suppose part of the reason for me getting up earlier, as well, is that I'm not staying up as late as I had gotten in the habit of doing lately. While my inclination might be to stay up and write, or to work on the dozen other things that I could be doing, I've made it a policy this week that when everyone else starts heading to bed--usually by 10 or 10:30, I head that way, too--rather than burning the midnight oil.
There's some rather unusual weather this time of year here in Estes Park (so the locals tell us, and that seems consistent with our previous 2 trips here). It's been cold (today's high was 55 degrees), and sort of rainy all week. I'm a little glad that I took out the body damage waiver on our rental van (with six of us, we opted for a full sizer, rather than trying to cram everything into our minivan)--we've had hail on 3 different days (fortunately, small hail, but still).
Our original plan for today was to hike up to a place called Alberta Falls which would have been a pretty quick and easy hike, and not too tough on my knees (while you could never tell it from looking at me today, I played a little--very little--basketball in high school 30+ years ago, and that, combined with a family predisposition for "bad knees" seems to catch up with me from time) like some some of the trails with lots of stair steps are. Ah, but we got into the car and it started sprinkling on us, and we decided that given that it wasn't yet 50 degrees, and it was windy and wet, that perhaps we'd do something else.
So we decided to drive up Trail Ridge Road. Kind of an odd trip: the clouds were low on the mountains, so we traveled for a long time through the clouds (which was neat, but a little unnerving). At one point, we had a little bit of sleet, and the temperature on our vehicle showed that we were down into the 30's (brr). Then, we broke through the clouds, the sun was shining, and we could look down on the mountains, surrounded by clouds. We saw some of the glacier fields, and the Lava Cliffs.
On the way back into Estes Park, we stopped at the horseback riding center, and made reservations for five. Number six (me) loves to look at horses, but has sworn off of riding them (they just don't like me, for some reason, and I have tried too many times in the past to ride one of those trail horses, only to have the one who is supposed to be the gentlest of the bunch buck me off in the corral area, or try to scrape me off on the side of the mountain as we're on the trail). So, I'm having a little "alone time"--which honestly, is kind of welcome right now. I'm off to that novel I've been working on...
P.S. For those of you who have continued to post, I haven't been ignoring you totally--and the posts have been great. I just don't have it in me to comment much this week... Thanks for keeping the material fresh. One of these days (or nights) I'll post some of our photos--we've gotten some pretty good ones.
The weirdest thing happened last night. OK, maybe not the weirdest, but still... My hubby was flipping channels and didn't even pause as he went by "America's Got Talent." I was typing another post (yes, I ditched thoughts of Barney Frank for this) and just happened to glance up in time to catch a glimpse of a man, with his dog at his feet, hugging the host. I swear that it took you longer to read this far than the image was displayed on the TV screen, but I said, "Wow! Was that Tony?" to which my husband said "What? Who? I don't know. Who's Tony?" because he hadn't noticed the image on the screen and therefore had no idea what I was talking about.
As usual, I promptly and totally ignored him and about 30 seconds of Google later, I found out it was indeed Tony Hoard and his dog Rory. He's a real life friend (no, they're not *all* virtual) and fellow disc-dogger from the Indianapolis area. His website is down now - probably swamped - but here's a video of the performance:
The choice of interview background music brought a tear to my eye. (Yes, I'm like that all the time.) He and Rory are indeed buddies.
Apparently this originally aired in June, so it's only news to those of us who could stand to do a little better at checking our friends' Facebook updates. But the good news is that he's going to Vegas, so I'll get the chance to watch him live very soon. I am very excited for him, but it does make me a bit homesick for Indiana again. The Indy Dog 'N Disc Club is home to some of the nicest people in the world, and I miss them all dearly.
The Michigan Club is probably every bit as nice, but my disc dog developed bad hips, so we're out of the game these days.
In my post The Dismal Social Sciences, I argued that the social sciences have largely lost their way. Instead of accounting for comprehensive social phenomena in terms of ecological processes that recognise human affairs as part of nature's overall ecological nexus, social scientists tend to (mechanistically) simplify the issues at hand to such an extent as is required to make them appear tractable by simple command solutions, the choice of the requisite commands being left to "expert" social scientists.
The hankering of these rationalistically arrogant and shortsighted control freaks to perceive and handle the larger societal challenges as if they were part of a relatively simple game which one learns to master by acquiring an academic degree in the social sciences, intellectually supports the replacement of the rule of law (which is wisely adapted to the self-generating, cybernetic character of vast societies) by the rule of man, which at the end of the day is really the rule of rational idiots.
Until Keynes came along, economics was decidedly supply side.
Creating value was the aim of economic activity and it was understood
to be immensely difficult. Value adding activity was therefore largely
left to the business community. Market forces were recognised as a
trial and error system in which those who could create more value than
was used up in production were allowed to continue in business. Those
who could not were encouraged to find some other way to make a living.
Free markets and competition were amongst the most important
institutional elements designed to reward success while removing from
the direction of capital those who could not use the nation’s resources
in a productive way.
This form of understanding has now been replaced by a theory which
places demand at the centre of macroeconomic activity. It is buying
that supposedly drives an economy forward, not producing. It is from
stimulating demand that recovery is expected to find its way, not from
encouraging value adding production. Thus, instead of recognising the
necessity for the painstaking efforts required to craft a business
enterprise, so that the value of output is greater than the value of
the resources used up during production, we now pretend that we can get
the same result by governments just spending money on whatever seems to
be most politically convenient.
Only one in a hundred, if that, can run a truly successful business.
On the other hand, anyone can spend from now until the end of time if
given the licence to tax or print money. We now appear to believe that
governments spending money will stimulate growth when in times past it
was perfectly well understood that it was almost entirely the
management of successful business enterprises that pulled an economy
Here is the fundamental error of Keynesian economics. In the
domestic economy there are three elements of demand identified by
macroeconomic theory: consumption (represented by the letter “C”),
private investment (I) and government spending (G). The equation found
in economic texts round the world is that output equals the total of
C+I+G. To increase output, therefore, what is required is to increase
any one of C, I or G.
From the theoretical point of view, it makes no difference whether
money is spent by consumers on final goods and services, by governments
on politically driven wasteful expenditures, or by businesses on value
adding forms of investment. All provide demand and therefore all are
equivalent so far as macro theory and policy are concerned.
There was a time when we knew better, and economists were there to
say so. But that time is long gone. Until that Keynesian incubus is
finally removed, macroeconomic theory will remain incapable of reliably
providing the kinds of sound advice needed. A large proportion of the
economics community will, instead, continue to recommend expenditure on
one dubious project after another until the dead weight costs of such
spending finally force governments into doing what they ought to have
been doing from the start.