Monday, December 22, 2008

The New Clarion

I accepted an invitation to join a group of Objectivist bloggers, at The New Clarion (link in the sidebar). So my political and cultural observations will be found there in future.

Edelweiss will continue to be the home of my more personal interests, such as music and sports.

Friday, December 19, 2008

'Tis the Season

Merry Christmas in Love
by Marrow & Renis

Things that tremble tingle like a bubble full of rainbows . . . then crack
Sizzle, sing and whisper, when the shadows lace the moonlight with black
Things with silver linings, sparkling tinsel, twinkle shining with . . .
Waving wispy willow wings that breathe a song of Christmastime dreams . . .

Things that glow and glisten, eyes of children when they listen . . . then burst
Things that touch the wistful wish of watching someone else succeed first
Days that dingle dangle with a million parts untangle to
Satin stars that spangle and those Christmas bells that clangle out . . . dreams . .

I'm dreaming of Christmas
To you, Merry Christmas

Dreaming . . . of a Merry Christmas
To you, Merry Christmas

Galloping and gliding, Santa Claus' sleigh we're riding and
Bringing joyful tidings to the dreamers who are lying below . . .

I'm talking of daydreams
Wishes and moonbeams

Then I tremble tingle like a bubble full of rainbows and light
When you came to wake me and to wish me Merry Christmas in love . . .

Christmas in love . . .

I can tremble tingle like a bubble full of rainbows and light
When you came to wake me and to wish me Merry Christmas in love . . .

Merry Christmas in love . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Until You Come Back to Me

I've always loved this old Motown tune by Stevie Wonder. I especially like this lively version by Miki Howard:

It is the joie de vivre that makes this version so magnificent, in spite of several mistakes (or deliberate changes?) in the lyrics. You wouldn't expect such an ebullient joy of living to be expressed in a song about having lost someone's love. But, the emphasis is not on the losing, but on the confidence and determination to get it back. I absolutely love the joy expressed not only by the lead singer, Miki Howard, but by the two joyous background singers, as well. A very uplifting performance, a great way to start the day.

Until You Come Back to Me

Though you don't call anymore
I sit and wait in vain
I guess I'll rap on your door
Tap on your window pane
I want to tell you Baby
The changes I've been going through
Missing you.
Listen you

'till you come back to me
That's what I'm gonna do

Why did you have to decide
You had to set me free
I'm gonna swallow my pride
I'm gonna beg you to (please
baby please) see me
I'm gonna walk by myself
Just to prove that my love is true
Oh, for you baby

'till you come back to me
That's what I'm gonna do

Living for you my dear
Is like living in a world
of constant fear
Hear my plea, I've got to make you see
That our love is dying

Although your phone you ignore
Somehow I must explain
I'm gonna rap on your door
Tap on your window pane
I'm gonna camp on your step
Until I get through to you
I've got to change your view baby
'till you come back to me
That's what I'm gonna do

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We Want You Big Brother

Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

Pink Floyd

This seems to be the choice Americans are making in droves today. It is evidently going to take a cataclysmic event to shake them out of their willingness to live as wards of the state. Will a great depression do it? Or, like the last depression, will it only make them more susceptible to some brave Apollo?

Please saviour, saviour show us
Hear me, I'm graphically yours
Someone to claim us, someone to follow
Someone to shame us, some brave Apollo
Someone to fool us, someone like you
We want you Obama, Obama.

David Bowie (With a slight change in the last line.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Economics in One Lesson, or That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen

In the economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause---it is seen. The others unfold in succession---they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference---the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil. (from That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen, by Frederic Bastiat, published in 1850)

. . . the whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence: The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups. (from chapter one of Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, published in 1946)

This basic lesson has never been more obviously ignored than in President Elect Obama's plan to begin a massive new public works program. According to a New York times article :

President-elect Barack Obama committed Saturday to the largest public works construction program since the creation of the interstate highway system a half-century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy.

Applying Bastiat's lesson, as supplemented by Hazlitt,

Alan D. Viard, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, told Congress recently that public works spending should not be authorized out of “the illusory hope of job gains or economic stabilization.”

“If more money is spent on infrastructure, more workers will be employed in that sector,” Mr. Viard told the House Ways and Means Committee. “In the long run, however, an increase in infrastructure spending requires a reduction in public or private spending for other goods and services. As a result, fewer workers are employed in other sectors of the economy.”

Is this lesson too difficult for liberals to understand? Are they really that short sighted? Or are they simply too weak to stand short term pain for long term health?

Or, as seems most likely, is it simply a matter of power lust? They want to stay in power, and giving away money to those who vote for them is the best way of retaining their support. Call it cynical, but this observation seems to describe the Democrats - and, increasingly, the Republicans - very well:

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

· From bondage to spiritual faith;

· From spiritual faith to great courage;

· From courage to liberty;

· From liberty to abundance;

· From abundance to complacency;

· From complacency to apathy;

· From apathy to dependence;

· From dependence back into bondage."

- Lord Woodhouselee (Alexander Fraser Tytler) 1747-1813

Scottish-born, British lawyer and writer

Friday, December 5, 2008

This Is America? These Are Americans?

obsequious: marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness syn see SUBSERVIENT (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)

I caught a portion of the testimony of the Big Three CEO's before Congress yesterday. In a previous appearance, the CEO's had been criticized for travelling to Washington DC in private jets, thereby showing that they "don't get it," according to their Congressional critics. They were simultaneously asking for a financial bailout, and spending money on "luxuries," like private jets.

In the portion of testimony I witnessed, this same issue was being discussed. This time the CEO's, in their most ingratiating voices, fell all over themselves to say they had driven to Washington in cars. And not just any cars, but the politically correct type of cars, hybrid, electric, green vehicles. For this is what Congress, the central planning authority, has opined is the way to go.

And when Congress is holding the purse strings, it gets what it wants.

It is so embarrassing to see American businessmen reduced to grovelling for money from the government. How they can bring themselves to do such a thing is difficult to understand. If their business model has failed, they should admit it and take their medicine: bankruptcy. If Congressional interference has caused their problems, they should state that and demand all such interference cease immediately.

The one thing they should not do is get down on their knees and beg Congress to take taxpayer money to bail them out, when no one, evidently, is willing to lend it to them of their own free will.

And yet that is what they have chosen to do, to their everlasting shame.

Would their bankruptcies cause a great depression, as they have darkly hinted? I don't know. I doubt it. But even if it did, does that excuse theft on a grand scale? It does not. If we, as a society, have been running on a failed business model - namely, the welfare state (for both individuals and corporations) - then perhaps the chickens have finally come home to roost. Are we going to take our medicine, a possible depression?

Or are we simply going to pass the buck, and let someone else suffer the consequences for our own mistakes?

There was a time when Americans were proud enough to do the right thing, no matter how dire the risks involved. Those were the Americans of the Revolutionary Era.

Now we have the revolting spectacle of Americans begging shamelessly, and putting off the reckoning for someone else to finally resolve.

Shame on America.