" Any government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” - Gerald R. Ford, in his first address to Congress, five days after Nixon's resignation.
Since this sentiment is floating around right-wing fandom, even among people who attribute it correctly (the less literate ascribe this blatantly twentieth-century prose to Jefferson), it may be worth discussing it.
Ford understated the case immensely; it would be closer to the truth to say: Any government is big enough to take from you everything you have. It suffices that government be able to collect revenues and raise a standing army; and Henry VIII had no problem taking everything from the richest bodies in England with an even smaller government. Weak governments have no difficulty being tyrannical; they may be more likely to be, as the only way to get anything done at all.
In our American politics, that would mean that the Federal Government has been big enough to do so since the Washington Administration. President Washington led the largest army of his career to impose a ruinous tax on Pennsylvania in 1794; President Jefferson ruined large sections of the country in 1807.
Why then do we have anything left? Because the Constitution, for all its flaws, does do two things well enough, so far: we do sometimes elect politicians of humanity and virtue; when Washington got to Pennsylvania, he was clement enough to shoot nobody (against the advice of the Cabinet) and he reconsidered the tax once Federal authority had been established.
Again, the Constitution sets the ambition of every politician to correcting the errors even of wise and humane politicians: Jefferson's policy was resoundingly unpopular; Congressmen, even the members of his own party who had passed it, found that their future required they repeal it again. (Jefferson collapsed into depression, and did hardly anything the last three months of his Presidency, but his Congress, and his chosen successor as President, were both elected.)
- Current Mood:accomplished
Julian Friedlander, the editor of Doing Well and Good: The Human Face of the New Capitalism, a visiting Professor of Ethics at a business school, is telling the punters at the New York Times that
- we [philosophers] should underscore the fact that various disciplines we ordinarily treat as science are at least as — if not more —philosophical than scientific. Take for example mathematics, theoretical physics, psychology and economics. These are predominately rational conceptual disciplines. That is, they are not chiefly reliant on empirical observation. For unlike science, they may be conducted while sitting in an armchair with eyes closed.
but they yield objective knowledge; therefore philosophy doesn't have to be science either. Thus Friedlander.
Mathematics consists of analytic statements; insofar as it is mathematics, it says nothing about the observable world, and what it says about itself depends on an arbitrary choice of axioms . (Whether 5+7 = 12 depends on which field of mathematics one is working in; in the ring Z/(11), 5+7 = 1.) Of course, it can be done with the eyes shut. Insofar as theoretical physics is analytic - insofar as it merely derives consequences of some given set of assumptions - it doesn't have anything to do with the real world either ; when it interacts with the real world, through comparison with experimental physics, the physicist must open his eyes and read the physical journals. This distinction goes back to David Hilbert and Ernst Mach, a century ago; it would be nice if our dogmatists would catch up with the literature.
The sort of psychology and economics that can be done with closed eyes aren't science at all; a priori claims about the observable world are prejudice and superstition. (Introspective psychology, which is observable with closed eyes, is not prejudice; but it is neither objective nor verifiable, so not science either.) We get, therefore, extra helpings of them in an election year.
It's always nice to know which books one does not have to read.
Russell Feingold; the only senator to vote against the "PATRIOT" Act. Dr Johnson was an optimist; it was the Yalie's first refuge.
There is severe dissent in the comments; I'm not sure myself. It Aside from the obvious, that cheese and tomatoes would not be found in the same place before 1492, I'm not sure the argument holds. (and I don't have tomato on cheeseburgers.) It may be useful to distinguish betw\een the Renaissance and the eighteenth century. But my friends know more about medieval food than I do.
- Prices, whenever there was no monopoly, came earlier under the influence of competition, and are much more universally subject to it, than rents: but that influence is by no means, even in the present state of intense competition, so absolute as is sometimes assumed. There is no proposition which meets us in the field of political economy oftener than this—that there cannot be two prices in the same market. Such, undoubtedly, is the natural effect of unimpeded competition; yet every one knows that there are, very often, two prices in the same market. Not only are there in every large town, and in almost every trade, cheap shops and dear shops, but the same shop often sells the same article at different prices to different customers; and, as a general rule, each retailer adapts his scale of prices to the class of customers whom he expects.
The first day of this custom:
The Day of the Dead.
Like the Anthesteria,
Japanese ghosts walk in Spring.
It's thirty-one syllables -
Mention a season
Think of radiant August?
Difficult in November
. While it's worth reading, although long, the most important point may be:
- ...many people fret about "the mob," but "the mob" is a byproduct of a frustrated body politic. Arguing against mass protest for fear of "the mob" while doing nothing to alleviate the underlying cause is rather like being opposed to cancer without wanting to deal with smoking or other health risks.
Meanwhile, even the sympathetic mainstream press, like Ezra Klein's Four Habits of Successful Social Movements, is saying things like:
- But to paraphrase a guy who understood real political power: How many troops does Paul Krugman have?
Robert Reich exolains what's wrong with the economy in two minutes and fifteen seconds.