Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The obvious restated

Why does Howard Kurtz even bother? College faculties, even engineering departments, are leftist bastions. We need to be reminded again?

Stanley Crouch makes the case for a Jazz Museum in Harlem

There will be those who claim that the $1 million Congress set aside in 2000 for a prospective Jazz Museum in Harlem is pure pork. Stanley Crouch disabuses them of such a notion. That money will be well spent. Besides how can you argue with a man who writes expressively about the most expressive genre.

... there is something different about jazz, which is largely a performance art based in improvisation. Its richness allows for the listener and the performer to enjoy the invention of value, which is what artistic improvisation means. It is not just pulling anything out of the air; it means pulling value out of the air.

That's the best description of improvisation I've ever read. Congress should sign up for another million.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The New York TImes reviews Paglia

Clive James is an early reviewer of Camille Paglia's Break, Blow, Burn, her new anthology of poetry.

She flies as high as you can go, in fact, without getting into the airless space of literary theory and cultural studies. Not that she has ever regarded those activities as elevated. She has always regarded them, with good reason, as examples of humanism's perverse gift for attacking itself, and for providing the academic world with a haven for tenured mediocrity. This book is the latest shot in her campaign to save culture from theory. It thus squares well with another of her aims, to rescue feminism from its unwise ideological allegiances. So in the first instance ''Break, Blow, Burn'' is about poetry, and in the second it is about Camille Paglia.

Read the entire review. It's largely laudatory but a little forced in the end. James sees the need to let just a little of the air out of the balloon.

Friday, March 25, 2005

She's back! Paglia and poetry a wonderful match indeed

Camille Paglia has compiled a list of her favorite poems. I can't wait to read it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Very good question for the economic historians among us

The Angry Economist, ever-so-wise and maybe not so angry, finds some similarities between railroads and fiber optic cables. He asks a very good question.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Big Government, line by line

This is a very big tree.

Libertarians v. Conservatives; The Case Study of Terri Schiavo

Who's right on the Terri Schiavo case? Well let the conservatives slug it out with the libertarians. Meanwhile, I think that Peggy Noonan has gone off the reservation with her claim that the Repubilcans will pay dearly fail to keep Schiavo. Why? Because they control all the levers of power and letting Shiavo succumb would cost the Repubilcans their right-to-life base. Apparently, the Republican leadership is paying attention. Michael Schiavo, the much maligned husband who wants to end his wife's life says GOP posturing is all about getting votes.

The libertarians will have none of the sanctimony, arguing that the decision to end a life is a private matter that doesn't warrent government intervention. No one is committing fraud; someone's in charge according to the courts and that's the husband. What business does Congress have in overruling a federal court judge? What ever happened to the separation of powers? Will the Repubilcans overreach one more time, (the real reason they may lose.)

Samizdata.net carries the water for the pull-the-plug crowd rather convincingly. And Micha Gertner at Catallarchy will brook no Schiavo analogies to the Holocaust.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Why do I think Jeffrey Sachs is a dangerous man?

I have always been suspect of Bono's evangelical campaign to cancel Third World debt. But I am even more appalled he has taken to the grand vision of one Jeffrey Sachs, the one time Harvard and now Columbia University economist who gave us the mess in Russia otherwise infamously known as shock therapy disguised as economic reform. Leaving Russia in shambles of sorts, Sachs has since moved on to bigger things and more perilous ones. He has a new book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, which unfolds into "utopian social engineering" and an uncritical audience; Time magazine opened up its pages to him recently. But his overreaching plan is set for failure in that it is partly built on western liberal guilt about the human condition in Africa and partly because it calls for massive infusions of aid to be borne by taxpayers in the industrialized First World. And of course he trusts the United Nations to pull it all together. Sachs is a dangerous man because he cannot see history repeating itself. Not a time for Big Plans from a man who doesn't believe in going slow or "piecemeal" as they say in the development business.

The noted economist William Easterly sums it up better than I ever will in the Washington Post.

Sachs pays surprisingly little attention to the history of aid approaches and results. He seems unaware that his Big Plan is strikingly similar to the early ideas that inspired foreign aid in the 1950s and '60s. Just like Sachs, development planners then identified countries caught in a "poverty trap," did an assessment of how much they would need to make a "big push" out of poverty and into growth, and called upon foreign aid to fill the
"financing gap" between countries' own resources and needs. This legacy has influenced the bureaucratic approach to economic development that's been followed ever since -- albeit with some lip service to free markets -- by the World Bank, regional development banks, national aid agencies like USAID and the U.N. development agencies. Spending $2.3 trillion (measured in today's dollars) in aid over the past five decades has left the most aid-intensive regions, like Africa, wallowing in continued stagnation; it's fair to say this approach has not been a great success. (By the way, utopian social engineering does not just fail for the left; in Iraq, it's not working too well now for the right either.)

For more on Easterly, read my brief review of his stupendous book, The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics.

Libertarianism as the "Marxism of the Right"

Robert Locke has a well-argument brief against libertarianism in the American Conservative.

The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it. Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon̢۪s wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments.

Read the whole thing.

Catallarchy has an equally well-argued response. This, however, isn't convincing.

Meanwhile, try Brian Caplan's Libertarian Purity Quiz.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The end of atheism, first Antony Flew now the world!

How many battalions do the atheists have? The argument for intelligent design is taking hold.
As British philosopher Anthony Flew, once as hard-nosed a humanist as any, mused when turning his back on his former belief: It is, for example, impossible for evolution to account for the fact than one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together.
Writes Turkish philosopher Harun Yahya, "Atheism, which people have tried to for hundreds of years as 'the ways of reason and science,' is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance."
More on atheism by way of Jane Galt.

The Maestro favors a consumption tax. What next?

Alan Greenspan has endorsed the concept of a consumption tax. Democrats will have none of it until the issue of regressivity is resolved. Can there be some kind of means tested rebate?