-- F.A. Hayak
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is upset with Wall Street. It seems much of his anger stems from personal experience, which he then generalizes into a broad condemnation. I responded to his post on his blog, Rabbi Shmuley Unleashed, but because I believe the Rabbi’s reaction was of a kind that completely misses the point, I thought I would republish my response here.
You would do well to read the Rabbi’s original post. Here’s my response.
With the greatest of respect, I wonder if you haven't missed the bigger picture. Wall Street is not a moral agent and therefore can have no intrinsic ethical system -- which I define as rules of right behavior that express an underlying moral conscience. Thus, I would argue that the reprehensible behavior you rightly call to our attention is a consequence of unwarranted regulation. Regulation whose objectives are not to achieve honest and transparent financial transactions, but rather to achieve leftist social and political goals (Senators Schumer and Dodd and the regulations they are proposing spring to mind -- But that's another conversation).
Wall Street is an institution whose "ethics" are imposed on it and reflect and express the values of its imposers -- the federal, state, and local agencies charged with its regulations. If its behaviors are repugnant to you (as they are to me), the problem lies squarely in the lap of those doing the regulating. Wall-Street, like Pavlov's dogs, respond to cues in the environment not moral conscience.
The principle you may be missing is that your criticism of Wall Street assumes the regulations we have imposed have no consequential and unintended side-effects. In truth, as in fact, Wall Street is no more to blame for our troubles than is water to be blamed for finding the leak in a Rube-Goldberg designed and jury-rigged plumbing project. The solution, Rabbi, is not to plug the leaks with more putty, and add additional fixtures. Rather, we need fire the plumber and redesign the system to eliminate unnecessary flows, joints, and fittings recognizing that, if a flaw is present, the water will find it.
Unfortunately, there may be more specific problems with your post.
Your reasoning, unfortunately, consists of mostly a series of anecdotal enthymemes -- syllogisms of which one premise has been suppressed. As it happens, for each point in your post, it is the major premise that has been suppressed. I'll try to illustrate syllogistically:
Your Major Premise: [omitted]
Your Minor Premise: Gargantuan Wall-Street Bank makes money by acquiring and adhering to public and private contracts.
Your Conclusion: All financial institutions are corrupt.
The logical absurdity of this example is obvious - Since no major premise is advanced the conclusion does not follow. Moreover, the conclusion also falls into the logical fallacy of unwarranted generalizations.
Your Major Premise: [omitted]
Your Minor Premise: Matt Zimmerman is a crook and Ace Greenberg a liar
Your Conclusion: Wall-Street is a culture whose only loyalty is to money.
Same as example 1. However, the premise implied by your conclusion, i.e., that loyalty only to money is immoral, suggests that you have a suggestion as to where a for-profit institution's loyalty ought to reside. So, I'll bite. Where?
Your Major Premise: [omitted]
Your Minor Premise: Chase won't reveal the names of its "silent investors".
Your Conclusion: Chases' practices are questionable and unjust.
Are their no other possibilities for Chase's silence? How about violation of disclosure laws imposed by state and federal agencies, the penalties for which, in some cases, are criminal? A far more serious consequence than, say, upsetting a valued client.
- 1400s Thomas Betson, the prankster-monk, pulls off one of the earliest documented practical jokes when he hides a beetle inside a hollowed-out apple and fools his fellow monks into believing that the mysteriously rocking apple is possessed.
- 1938 Orson Welles's radio broadcast of War of the Worlds convinces millions of listeners that earth is under attack by aliens. Many flee their homes, pray in houses of worship, and, eventually, curse Welles's name.
- 1957 A BBC News documentary about the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest depicts farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees. The network is deluged with callers asking where they can buy a spaghetti tree.
- 1959 Prankster extraordinaire Alan Abel dreams up a campaign calling for animals to wear clothing, and the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals is born. Spokesperson G. Clifford Prout appears on Today to promote the group's catchy slogan: "A nude horse is a rude horse." Eventually, 50,000 concerned citizens sign its petition, and even Walter Cronkite gets hoodwinked—until it's discovered that Prout is actually comedian Buck Henry.
- 1962 The broadcasting technician for Sweden's lone television station appears on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers can convert the existing black-and-white broadcasts into color. All they have to do is pull a nylon stocking over their TV screen. Thousands try it.
- 1997 The chemical compound DHMO (dihydrogen Monoxide) is "colorless, odorless, and kills thousands of people every year" through "accidental inhalation," reads a widely circulated e-mail, calling for a ban. Furthermore, it's now "a major component of acid rain" and is "found in almost every stream, lake, and reservoir in America." One California town becomes so alarmed that residents debate banning foam cups, which are shown to contain DHMO. They nix the idea upon learning that DHMO is actually water.
- 1998 Burger King introduces a new item to its menu: the Left-Handed Whopper, specially designed for southpaws. According to the company, the new Whopper includes the same ingredients as the original version, but all the condiments are rotated 180 degrees.
- 2004 At the annual Yale-Harvard football game, Yale students, dressed as the Harvard pep squad, distribute placards to their rival's fans. On cue, the Harvard faithful lift them up and unwittingly spell "We Suck."
- 1995 Practical Jokester Dr. Michael Mann and fellow tricksters publish climate data purporting to show that global warming will the destroy all life on earth within a century. The United Nations and Democrats in the U.S. Congress bite the big one and propose a complete re-ordering of the world's economic, social, and moral order.
Friday, April 16, 2010
My 1939 Plymouth coupe has a 350 Chevy V-8, custom headers and twin Glass Packs. This polluter runs richer than George Soros' blood after a Bucket-O-Caviar snack, is louder than Chris Matthews sitting on a bed of galvanized cleat nails and, at full throttle, can deplete the ozone layer faster than a questionable burrito in Al Gore's digestive system.
Do yourself a favor and read all the entries.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Charles Krauthammer nicely summarizes President Obama’s loopy nuclear arms policy in which the
Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of
However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
This is quite insane. It's like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.
Read the whole article here.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
An excellent place to find an answer might be the the history lesson from Rep. Paul Ryan (R. Wisconsin), delivered to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. Here are three paragraphs from his talk that lay out a corrrect, historical understanding of the term.
The Democratic leaders of Congress and in the White House hold a view they call “Progressivism.” Progressivism began in
Progressivism was a powerful strain in both political parties for many years. Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, and Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, both brought the Progressive movement to
Early Progressives wanted to empower and engage the people. They fought for populist reforms like initiative and referendum, recalls, judicial elections, the breakup of monopoly corporations, and the elimination of vote buying and urban patronage. But Progressivism turned away from popular control toward central government planning. It lost most Americans and consumed itself in paternalism, arrogance, and snobbish condescension. “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson would have scorned the self-proclaimed “Progressives” of our day for handing out bailout checks to giant corporations, corrupting the Congress to purchase votes for government controlled health care, and funneling billions in Jobs Stimulus money to local politicians to pay for make-work patronage. That’s not “Progressivism,” that’s what real Progressives fought against!
What is termed “progressive” in today’s political culture is simple lefty, emotion-based poltical angst, bereft of principle either populist or republican (note the small ‘r’). Poke a self-described ‘progressive’ and you’ll find a standard, card-carrying member of the left.
Read the whole article here.