<ul> <li><p><a href="http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2010/marapr/features/mosher.html">STANFORD Magazine: March/April 2010 > Features > Clelia Mosher. <cite>www.stanfordalumni.org</cite> (2011-01-12)</a>. <q>In 1973, historian Carl Degler was combing the University archives, gathering research for a book on the history of the family. Sifting through the papers of Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher, who taught in Stanford's hygiene department around the turn of the 20th century, he came across a mysteriously bound file. Degler...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2011-01-12.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com/24443.html">Common Sense, or a functioning economy has no underclass. <cite>Marja Erwin</cite> (2011-01-12)</a>. <q>1. A government can't solve systemic unemployment through stimulus. It can create temporary boosts which *mask* systemic unemployment; it may even have significant effects depending how easily it responds to spending and how slowly the unemployment rate approaches its normal level relative to the economic system.2. A functioning economy has...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2011-01-12.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://aaeblog.com/2011/01/12/reading-chomsky/">Reading Chomsky. Roderick, <cite>Austro-Athenian Empire</cite> (2011-01-12)</a>. <q>The Good (in churlish brevity) I’ve just finished reading Noam Chomsky’s Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World (it was a Christmas gift). Unsurprisingly, nearly all of it is excellent, and I highly recommend it. Chomsky lucidly explains how u.s. foreign policy is not only imperialist now but has been...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Wednesday 2011-01-12.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://www.thefreemanonline.org/anything-peaceful/the-taxpayers-wont-benefit/">The Taxpayers Won’t Benefit. Sheldon Richman, <cite>The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty</cite> (2010-12-15)</a>. <q>Why does everyone say the taxpayers will be winners when the banks, AIG, and GM repay their TARP and other bailout money with interest? The taxpayers won’t see a dime! I doubt if any money will even go toward reducing the debt. The only real winners will be the politicians...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/undercover-boss/">What “Undercover Boss” Could Be. Steven Horwitz, <cite>The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty</cite> (2010-12-15)</a>. <q>Recently I stumbled across the TV show Undercover Boss. A CEO poses as a new employee at one of his firm’s factories or stores in order to see how the company really runs. In the episode I watched, the CEO of the Johnny Rocket’s restaurant chain spent time working in...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://www.thefreemanonline.org/anything-peaceful/hoffman-prize/">Winner of Beth A. Hoffman Prize for Economic Writing Named. Foundation for Economic Education, <cite>The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty</cite> (2011-01-12)</a>. <q>The first annual Beth A. Hoffman Memorial Prize for Economic Writing has been awarded to Kevin A. Carson, the Foundation for Economic Education announced. Through the generosity of a FEE donor, the prize has been established to honor the memory of Beth A. Hoffman by recognizing the best article on...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://reason.com/blog/2011/01/13/if-martin-luther-king-were-ali">If Martin Luther King Were Alive Today, He'd Be Just Like Me. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2011-01-13)</a>. <q>You know all those articles that purport to say what George Orwell would believe if he were alive today, in which Orwell turns out to have had a change of heart on every significant subject where the author disagrees with him? You can do that to Martin Luther King too:...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://flipfloppingjoy.com/2011/01/03/foodclassworking-class/">Food:Class:Working Class. bfp, <cite>flip flopping joy</cite> (2011-01-03)</a>. <q>I’ve been wondering why food for working class people is always represented as “manly man food” that is greasy, heavy, thick food. I mean, I get the origins of working class food as thick greasy meat based food—fish and chips, for example, has enough heaviness and calories to last through...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://sheldonfreeassociation.blogspot.com/2011/01/szasz-in-one-lesson.html">Szasz in One Lesson. Sheldon Richman, <cite>Free Association</cite> (2011-01-13)</a>. <q>(First posted in 2006, and now amended. The relevance to the Tucson massacre is self-explanatory.)This is something I came up with some time ago to summarize a good deal of what Thomas Szasz, a great libertarian and hero of mine, has been saying for half a century.If neuroscientists discovered that...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2011-01-13.)</em></p></li> <li><p><a href="http://reason.com/archives/2011/01/14/radio-theater">Radio Theater. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2011-01-14)</a>. <q>Get ready to suspend your disbelief. One of the most resilient acts in theatrical history has returned to the D.C. stage: the We’re Going To Defund Public Broadcasting show. Every time this play gets revived, the director alters the story slightly to reflect recent events. This time the performers are...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Friday 2011-01-14.)</em></p></li>
The persecution of homosexuals is paradigmatic of the history of psychiatry’s monumental blunders and brutalities and of its policy of never acknowledging nor apologizing for them. Instead, organized psychiatry intensifies the celebration of its founding quack, Benjamin Rush (1746–1813). Declared Rush,I have selected those two symptoms [murder and theft] of this disease [crime] (for they are not vices) from its other morbid effects, in order to rescue persons affected with them from the arm of the law, and render them the subjects of the kind and lenient hand of medicine.What did Rush mean when he spoke of medical kindness and lenience? Lamenting theexcess of the passion for liberty inflamed by the successful issue of the [Revolutionary] war,he explained,Were we to live our lives over again and engage in the same benevolent enterprise, our means should not be reasoning but bleeding, purging, low diet, and the tranquilizing chair.Psychiatry–glorifying the use of coercion as cure–is the shame of medicine.
In the last couple of decades, a lot of people have apologized for the past crimes of the groups with which they identify: the U.S. for Japanese internment, the Church for Galileo, Swiss bankers for Nazi money laundering, even the Japanese (kind of) for their war crimes. I’d like to see psychiatrists do the same — to admit that unusual preferences are notdisease,affirm that it is wrong to treat people against their will, and turn their backs on thegreatsof their profession who believed in and practiced coercive therapy.
I’d like it, too. Psychiatrists expect to be taken seriously, both as scientific experts and as benevolent caretakers; I think at least a minimal requirement of being taken seriously on these claims would be for them to own up to the fact that within living memory, their discipline was rife with theories now universally regarded as the worst sort of politically-motivated pseudoscience and
therapeutic practices now universally reviled as the worst sort of atrocities. They have been wrong about everything and they ruined life after life with the most appalling sorts of brain-damaging treatment on the basis of these pseudoscientific superstitions. If shrinks want to be taken seriously, they need to start by owning up to their record; because if they can’t do so much as that, the rest of us have every reason to expect that they’ve done nothing to correct the systematic vices that led to the ridiculous lies and sadistic horrors they were inflicting as recently as 30-40 years ago. But I don’t expect anything like it to happen this side of the revolution.*. As Szasz says in
The Freeman: Ideas On Liberty (July/August 2009): The Shame of Medicine: The Depravity of Psychiatry:
I am grateful to Caplan for calling attention to a problem most people prefer to ignore. His expectation will, however, not be fulfilled, and it is important to understand why. Claiming competence in astronomy and incarcerating heretics are not integral to the identity of the Catholic Church. In contrast, claiming competence in predictingdangerousnessand incarcerating persons alleged to be so because ofmental illnessare integral to the psychiatric enterprise.
Of all the horrible things that institutional psychiatry routinely does, one of the most infuriating for me is its stupidly aggressive lack of anything approaching self-consciousness or critical reflection. In a field where, not half a century ago,patientswere routinely locked away in filthy hellholes that would be hard to distinguish from a medieval dungeon, and, once confined, subjected, against their will, to restraints, tortures and mutilations that would have made Torquemada blush — camphor shock torture, repeated massive electric shocks to the brain, and, at the end of the road, an icepick jabbed through the eye socket and rotated so as to mutilate the brain and deliberately destroy centers of personality and higher cognition — in a field, I say, where all this was dignified asbrain damaging therapeuticsand regarded as best practices for a scientifically-informed helping profession — in a field where current practitioners now more or less universally agree that torture like this was based on little more than pseudoscience and quackery, and where almost no-one in their right mind would propose ever using practices like these on any patient today — in a field, that is to say, where within living memory thousands of people were subjected to the worst kinds of sadism and torture that the human mind can devise, and all of it based on what are now almost universally acknowledged follies, illusions and lies indulged in by the recognized experts of the field — in such a field, you might expect at least a little bit of humility, historical awareness, and decent caution, rather than sanctimonious self-righteousness and aggressive obliviousness to the idea that psychiatric practice itself might perhaps be part of the problem.
In point of fact, there are countless cases like this one, cases where a life crisis becomes the occasion of massive psychiatric intervention, and where the intervention itself spirals into years of institutionally- and chemically-manufactured madness; in which the stereotypical behavior of the psychiatric patient, invariably passed off as part of herdisease,can in fact be traced quite directly to the physiological, behavioral and social effects of the forced drugging, the forced confinement inhospitalpsychoprisons, and other aspects of psychiatrictherapy.Psychiatrists then have the gall to use those same symptoms, created by their owntherapy,asproofof the need for even more of the same.
Under the present circumstances, there is no reason to believe that individual psychiatrists or psychiatric institutions will ever trouble themselves to acknowledge this possibility or to incorporate it into their practice in any way that matters. It’s not just the financial incentives — although those are certainly there, and those are certainly important. The problem that underlies the financial problem is that psychiatrists have no real reason to care whether they get things right or not. Why should they? They are backed by cultural prejudices in favor of doctors; they can dismiss any complaints by theirpatientsas literally the ravings of lunatics, and almost no-one will bat an eye; they are backed up by the force of the law, which gives them the power to force their latest and greatesttherapieson a literally captive market of unwillingpatients.Unless and until psychiatrists no longer have the privilege of inflicting nonconsensualtreatment,which is to say, unless and until they become directly accountable to the will and desires of the people for whose benefit they claim to be acting, cases just like Nikki’s are going to happen again, and again, and again.
Footnote. For reference, when I talk about The Revolution, I mean a qualitative social transformation that upends, or completely abolishes, existing relationships of social power. Not necessarily an armed uprising. And not necessarily a discrete event that is obvious to all, most, or even any of the people living through it.
John Perceval, a member of a prominent English family and the son of a former Prime Minister, resigned a military commission in 1830, underwent a conversion to an unconventional Christian sect, and had a break-down while traveling in Scotland and Ireland. His older brother, then a Member of Parliament, took him back to England and had him locked away, against his will, in two private asylums, first in Bristol and then in Sussex. Here are a couple things that he had to say about what he observed during his confinement, as noted by Thomas Szasz in The Manufacture of Madness.
I will be bound to say that the greatest part of the violence that occurs in lunatic asylums is to be attributed to the conduct of those who are dealing with the disease, not to the disease itself; and that the behavior which is usually pointed out by the doctor to the visitors as the symptoms of the complaint for which the patient is confined, is generally more or less reasonable, and certainly a natural result, of that confinement, and its particular refinements in cruelty; for all have their select and exquisite moral and mental, if not bodily tortures.
–John Perceval, Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of His Psychosis, 1830–1832. Edited by G. Bateson. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1961. 114. Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 129.
But when the lunatic doctors say that the presence of friends is hurtful to lunatic patients, they are not aware of the fact–at any rate do not acknowledge it–that the violent emotions and disturbance of spirit, which takes place on their sudden meeting with them MAY arise from their being overcome by a sense of their relations’ conduct toward them, in neglecting and abandoning them to the care and control of strangers, and from the treatment of the doctors themselves. The doctors naturally do not acknowledge this, for if they are acting from stupidity, their pride refuses correction, and will not admit the suspicion of being wrong; if they are acting with duplicity and hypocrisy, they necessarily preserve their character, and cannot in consistency confess that there is any error on their part–who can expect it of them? You cannot gather grapes from thorns. Nevertheless, it is true.
–John Perceval, Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of His Psychosis, 1830–1832. Edited by G. Bateson. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1961. 218. Quoted in Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness. New York: Harper & Row, 1970. 129–130.
After he gained his freedom in 1834, Perceval wrote two narrative accounts of his treatment in the asylums. After being released, he spent the remaining four decades of his life campaigning for the liberty of people labeled as mentally ill, notably founding an Alleged Lunatics Friends Society and leading a petition campaign against the Lunacy Act, which allowed for involuntary commitment and denied involuntary
patients the right to challenge their imprisonment in court.
Please note that, today, the shrinks and their flunkies, who continue to inflict on unwilling patients every sort of isolation, restraint, confinement, physical torture, and emotional trauma that the mad doctors of Perceval’s day inflicted — the shrinks and their flunkies who continue to march forward with the same invincible ignorance, using the same involuntary commitments and the same hellhole prison-camp
asylums, — the shrinks and their flunkies who, in spite of the lessons clearly taught by men like Perceval, still continue to display exactly no self-awareness or critical insight whatsoever into either the history of their own discipline or the possibility that the phenomena they supposedly study and correct may be at least partially the results of their own coercive
treatments — those shrinks and their flunkies, I say, now have the supreme gall to turn around and claim John Perceval, the man who their forebearers imprisoned and tortured, and who spent the rest of his life opposing their forebearers’ exercise of arbitrary and absolute power to imprison and torture innocent people who have been labeled as
diseased by doctors or family, as a
pioneer … for the mental health advocacy movement.
Around the web in the past couple weeks. Some of the news that’s fit to link.
Hopelessly Midwestern (2006-02-03): Petting =/= Popularity: A Shocking Look At The Sex Lives Of Our Children takes on professional anti-feminist Caitlin Flanagan (for background reading, see the profile in Ms.) and her latest foray into the teensploitation genre — a hand-wringing and voyeuristic article about a non-existent
teenage oral sex crazeamongst our Troubled Suburban Youth, and touches on feminism, amnesiac nostalgia, privileged suburban angst, and Judy Blume in the process.
Thinking back on my own privileged adolescence, I can remember girls who performed oral sex on boys on a more or less casual basis, girls who denied rumors that they did the above, girls who did it with their boyfriends and related the experience the next morning with a mix of panic and excitement, girls who didn’t think it was a big deal, girls who thought it was a big deal, girls who talked about it loudly at lunchtime and did
seductiveposes with every potentially phallic food product in sight (including CapriSun straws and granola bars) but had no more than a vague idea what it actually involved, girls who thought it was the grossest thing ever, EVER, oh my God, girls who had no qualms about
doing it(it in italics) but thought oral sex was
unnatural, girls who tried to freak out self-consciously innocent girls like me by saying,
Luke Lepinski is SO CUTE. Don’t you just want to put his DICK in your MOUTH?and then laughing like maniacs at my genuine bafflement, Christian girls who plugged their ears and shrieked if you tried to talk about any kind of genital-related program activity, even in the most abstract and theoretical language, girls who had heard you could get pregnant that way (and might have a cousin who knew someone who did,) and myself. My opinions on the matter were all based on my strong and growing aversion to boys, and were not particularly well-formed, nor did I have occasion to put them into practice. I recite this autobiographical litany as a way of illustrating the complex nature of that steady decline in morals called
growing up,and to suggest that gnashing one’s teeth about the unexpected depravities of our formerly delicate rosebud-like daughters may not be the best response thereto. What is the best response? I don’t know, but Caitlin Flanagan is a bit too eager to put down Planned Parenthood for its attempts to give sane and sensible advice on the matter ….
… and don’t miss the response to Flanagan’s closing remarks — an employment of the old Double Standard so overt and so uncritical that it leaves no avenues of criticism open other than something stodgy like
Frankly, I’d rather have a daughter who gives out a few undeserved blowjobs of her own volition than a son who thinks sex is his right and privilege as a Hot-Blooded American Male. Oops, there I go slandering men with my insane expectation that they take responsibility for their own desires! Damn insidious radical feminist influence! What won’t it disfigure with its toxic fumes of seething, sulfurous hatred?
Sarah Goldstein at Broadsheet (2006-02-03): New hope in the fight against domestic violence gives a shout-out to a new program for rehabilitating men who batter women, called
Resolve to Abolish Violence Everywhere.The plan? Stop focusing on
anger management,and start tackling male entitlement:
What’s exciting about this approach to combating domestic abuse is that it tackles the institutionalization of male dominance, looking at the offender’s action within a larger system of violence. Women’s eNews reports,
Staffers [in Austin] say this program assumes that violence arises from a decision based on deeply-held beliefs of male dominance, not a flash ofWhereas most anger management classes are just three or four weeks long, this program works with the offender for an entire year after his release.
Of course, there’s no magic bullet for ending battery, and this program, like any others, has limitations to worry about (like the institutional limitations imposed on any program run by cops, or the fact that it only catches men once they’ve already tortured one or more women to the point that it reached the criminal justice system). But insofar as there are going to be court-mandated
rehabilitationprograms, this is certainly a step forward, and I wish them the best.
Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy (2006-02-07): To Be Hot And Nuts points out a story from this month’s Prospect that will make you want to tear your hair out and then run out in a blind rage and bury the entire psychiatric-pharmaceutical complex under a library of Women and Madness and the collected works of Thomas Szasz.
tragedystrikes. The drug that works also makes her fat. This a horror the doctors find intolerable. Her beauty is
destroyed.So they take her off that drug because in a patriarchy a hot girl cannot be fat. So Nia immediately goes nuts again because the new drug, though it does not make her fat, also doesn’t work. She is nuts again, but at least she’s still a babe. Whew. That was close.
But she is so nuts that, after a month of hell, doctors reluctantly put her back on the fat drug. The crazy part is that Nia doesn’t give a crap about being fat. She’s happy as a clam to get rid of the voices. Yet the doctors assume that, because she isn’t crying herself to sleep every night over her lost beauty, she isn’t really getting well at all. Any 17-year-old in her right mind would be bulimic and wanna slice herself up with razors under these circumstances, right?
Selections from the first five or six comments:
Oh give me a fucking break,
I don’t know what to do besides shout obscenities. Good fucking god,
This makes me so mad I can’t see straight.
That last paragraph … is insulting in about 10 THOUSAND different ways and makes me want to slap the authors and Nia’s dr’s repeatedly about the head and face,etc. That’s just about right.
Amanda at Pandagon (2006-02-02): Vacuums, internalized sexism and yes, that invisibility of privilege looks at the politics of housework, as one of the arenas of in which anti-feminists love to point out how women themselves are deputized as the primary enforcers of sexist standards. Shockingly, she finds that this looks more like classic male privilege than it does some kind of self-imposed drudgery that women have ended up with by being naturally the Fairer Sex.
You see this sort of thing a lot, where women are judged by a different standard than men, but the appointed judges are technically other women, so the whole thing can be written off as women being weird instead of women trying to adapt to a patriarchal system. That way, not only can men benefit from the thing women are supposed to do to fit into a standard, they have the added bonus of acting like they are simply above such female nonsense. In the case of housework, men can benefit from having a clean home without either working or appearing so uncool as to care if the house is clean, since the work is done by invisible female hands.
… It’s true–make-up, shoes, exercise, dieting, the whole routine is developed by and enforced by women while being sneered at all too often by the very men the entire routine is developed to benefit. The complaint is not so much that women do all these things, of course. It’s that men might accidentally be exposed to these things; in the good old days, I suppose, women worked harder at the conspiracy to shield men from having to perceive their own privilege. (For a really great example of this, read Pink Think by Lynn Peril–she excerpts an advice book to women that suggests that women should rise before their husbands to do their make-up and preserve the illusion that they never look any different.)
… That’s the basic argument behind
choicefeminism, and it’s whipped out to explain away every instance of women’s second class status, from breast implants to domestic service. And that’s the argument that EricP is resorting to when explaining away the difference between expectations on men and women for level of cleanliness. It’s easy to look at how women are expected to police ourselves for adhering to a patriachal standard and say that it’s our fault. But it’s not the cops that are the ones to look at when the laws themselves are suspect.
Read the whole thing. I’d also like to add a note from Andrea Dworkin that I came across the same day that I read Amanda’s post. This is from In Memory of Nicole Brown Simpson, in Life and Death (41–50):
While race-hate is expressed through forced segregation, woman-hate is expressed through forced closeness, which makes punishment swift, easy, and sure. In private, women often empathize with one another, across race and class, because their experiences with men are so much the same. But in public, including on juries, women rarely dare.
–Andrea Dworkin, Life and Death, pp. 49–50
Maybe one way to gloss the essential goal of feminism is to create a platform from which that private empathy can erupt into public solidarity and action.
BB at Den of the Biting Beaver (2006-02-10): Friday Fun with Sitemeter offers a guided tour to the kind of Google searches that you get when you run a radical feminist anti-pornography website.
Roderick at Austro-Athenian Empire (2006-02-03): Tarzan’s Burden mentions Hollywood popcult’s mutilation of the character of Tarzan, and points to an interesting four-part essay by F. X. Blisard on race relations in the Tarzan novels and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ work in general —
fairly enlightened for Burroughs’ era, it turns out, and far superior to Hollywood’s treatment.Read the whole thing.
Ken Gregg (2006-02-08) at CLASSical Liberalism: It Usually Begins With… takes another look at Jules Verne, his literary accomplishments, his prescience, the way his politics have been excised from bowdlerized English translations until very recently, and what those politics were (in short, a mixed bag):
Verne’s novels have contrary trends: support for national liberation movements such as the Irish and Polish, but also a strong pacifist streak; paternalism toward colonial peoples, but a hatred of slavery and imperialism (especially British); sympathy for utopian experiments, but resentment toward state power; affirmation of free enterprise, but assaults on big capitalism (especially American); a celebration of loyalty and community, but sympathy for militant individualism.
media girl (2006-02-10): Spying on Americans is for kids! takes a look at the NSA’s ongoing attempts at cute, furry cartoon outreach to children, which is either a very funny comment on bureaucratic rationality or else a daring new form of avant-garde surrealist theater.
The Dominion (2006-01-16): CBC’s true colors discovers that the government-owned CBC is solicitous of the party in power in the government to the point of altering their logo to match the party color scheme. Surprised?
Paganarchy (2006-02-04): Serious Organised Crime? Ha Ha Ha! — a squad of clowns takes to the street to protest restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly around Parliament, and a copper stops them from entering Parliament to talk with their MPs:
Our first port of call was to visit our MPs in the House Of Commons. Just through the security gate and whoa — the duty sergeant stopped us from going in. Alas, we were deemed
not dignified enoughby a copper calling himself the
chief arbiter of style.
As opposed to the grave dignity of a copper who has appointed himself the
chief arbiter of stylefor the House of Commons and taken it upon himself to make sure the dress of visitors is up to his sartorial standards.
The North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists posts links to left-anarchist debate over the
iterativeFive Year Plan
Kevin Carson at the UnCapitalist Journal (2005-09-22): What Can Bosses Know? looks at mutualist anarchism, worker self-management, and the knowledge problems that afflict corporate as well as government bureaucracies. (Yeah, I know it’s from last September. But it’s good, and I just found it in the past couple weeks. Also, you may find it relevant in connection with the debate over Five Year Planning by
iteratedcollective bargaining between the deputies of several massive federations in an appropriately
As Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) of the Movement of the Libertarian Left said somewhere (I can’t find it–little help?) organizational inefficiency starts when you have one supervisor taking orders from another supervisor: that is, the point at which hierarchy replaces market contracting.
… The central problem is that, since the costs of tracking the results of individual decisions becomes prohibitively expensive in a large organization, market incentives must be replaced by administrative ones. Milton Friedman pointed out long ago that people do a better job of spending money on themselves than on other people, and do better spending their own money than other people’s money. That’s the standard, and correct, libertarian argument for why government is so inefficient. It’s spending other people’s money on other people; and unlike a private firm not only can it not go out of business for inefficiency, it gets rewarded with more money. Well, the very same incentive problems apply to the decision-maker in a corporate hierarchy. He’s a steward of other people’s money, and the costs and benefits of any decision he makes can be determined only badly, if at all. Unlike a self-employed actor whose relations with others are mediated by the market, he is motivated by purely administrative incentives.
Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek (2006-02-09): We Don’t Make Anything Anymore takes on the factory protectionists over the state of industry in America.
The worriers like to complain that we don’t make anything anymore. America is being hollowed out. Soon we’re going to be left doing one another’s laundry. Boy, will we be poor then.The problem is an old one: the heavy-industry hand-wringers are measuring the inputs, not the outputs. When you look at the stuff actually being produced, rather than the number of people employed or the size of the pile of resources invested in producing it, you’ll find that we’re making more stuff than ever. (I’d add that there are lots of reasons to worry about what happens to heavy-industry workers as they lose their jobs. And that Roberts’ summary and selective swipes at the unions are unwarranted. But the basic point is well-taken. Our aims should not be to prop up an elaborate industrial make-work program.)
David Friedman, Ideas (2006-02-09): Unschooling: The Advantage of the Real World:
One point raised in comments on my recent unschooling post was that you sometimes have to do things you don’t like, a lesson we can teach our children by making them study things they are not currently interested in studying. It is an interesting point, and I think reflects a serious error.Friedman challenges would-be educators to help students expose themselves to the natural consequences of effort and fortitude, rather than imposing make-work punishments and rewards on them in order to
incentivesbear no natural relation to the task at hand. Read the whole thing.
Tim Bray, ongoing (2006-02-10) asks, What Do
LinuxMean? in a free software world where the user experience is (praise the Good) further and further removed from the technical wotsits of the kernel, where Firefox, OpenOffice, and GNU software provide an increasingly standard software environment, and where the choice between GNU/OpenSolaris and GNU/Linux is going to be a strictly technical choice with basically no impact on the end-user environment? What should you even call what’s emerging? Tim suggests some deliberate provocations:
So you’ve got the combination of a Solaris or Linux kernel with a mish-mosh of GNU, Mozilla, OpenOffice and other random software, and calling itI think maybe we should just call it
Solarisis misleading. I think Sun could legally ship something like this under the name
GNU/Unix. Which would be concise, descriptive, accurate, and funny. (Because GNU stands for
Gnu’s Not Unixand Solaris, after all, is.)
GNU,and encourage ordinary users to leave the worries about what comes after the slash to people who have reasons to care about kernels.
August Pollak (2006-02-08): As a white guy, did you just throw up right now? and Mikhaela Reed (2006-02-09): The so-called
conservative Doonesbury… mention Chris Muir’s imaginary Black friend and the excellent opportunity that having one provides white cartoonists to lecture African-Americans about how they should think of themselves in early 21st century America. A Touch of Ego offers some background context on Muir and Day By Day. Amanda at Pandagon (2006-02-08) calls for fixes to help Chris Muir write a funny strip. My favorite repair job is from Ampersand at Alas (2006-02-09).
Claire Wolfe (2006-02-13): Back from the meditation workshop reviews the good, the bad, and the ugly of her two-week long meditation retreat in silence. One of the good things about the retreat was the distance it allowed from the hot air of professional blowhards that passes for News and Views these days:
The omnipresent Information Flow also became irrelevant. I worried at times about what was happening to Steve Kubby and Cory Maye, but could have cared less about the monotonous, inevitable sturm und drang that passes for Vital News. Funny, too. They call itRead the whole thing.
news,but the same rot was being broadcast and podcast and web-posted when I left and when I returned. Nothing
newabout the news. … Time to live. Time to think deeply, rather than think in quick
brain bytesbetween rushed emails and frequent checks of LewRockwell.com, Rational Review, Google News, and TCF.
Carnival is two weeks from today. In honor of the liturgical occasion, be sure to read up on the latest weblog Carnivals. In particular, the inaugural editions of the Radical Women of Color Carnival and the Big Fat Carnival are up at Reappropriate and Alas, A Blog respectively. Not to mention the eighth Carnival of the Feminists at Gendergeek. Enjoy!