This is the archive for January, 2009.
- Day 31 – South Haven, MI
South Pier Lighthouse, South Haven, MI. Click the photo to view it larger.
Today, my friends David, Hannah, Bethany, and I drove two and a half hours west to South Haven, MI. Our original intention was to photograph the lighthouse there and then explore the town, but when we arrived, we found a pleasant surprise. The town was hosting an ice sculpture contest in the main downtown area! It was spectacular. Many restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops were open because all of the tourists (like us), and the town was very lively despite the cold weather. It was a beautiful, sunny day, which was excellent. Hannah (who is also a photographer) and I took a couple hundred photos around town and around the lighthouse. After enduring the piercing wind while out walking on the ice, we found a chocolate shop that serves hot dark chocolate. It was delicious!
I will post more photos from the trip in the coming days. I will then post a full gallery. Stay tuned!
More on what I did yesterday, since I did not include it with yesterday’s update:
I woke up at 7 after sleeping only three and a half hours. I read a few chapters in Don Quixote and then went to Poly-Econ with Dr. Wolfram at 9, then Calc II with Dr. Treloar. After class, I spent an hour taking to Dr. Jackson about Don Quixote, photography, and life in general. Dr. Jackson is so friendly. I really like him. I then went to lunch and Dr. Birzer’s American Heritage class, after which I worked at ITS for two hours.
The Honors Program hosted a dinner at College Baptist and Dr. Birzer’s family joined us and Dr. Birzer gave a lecture on Charles Carroll of Carrollton. After dinner, I went to a CLO (Classical Liberal Organization) meeting and discussed the upcoming lectures we are hosting and movies we want to show. I am pretty excited for this new club. We all agreed to do a few lectures for weekly meetings, so the first one I am going to do is on Seasteading. The date is TBA.
- Day 30 – Good Intentions
“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.” ~ Louis D. Brandeis
I leave everyone with this quote for the weekend. After listening to lectures on the dangers of government intervention and the bailout of two major auto industries, I found that this quote is very relevant to what is happening. Keep in mind, though the government may have the best of intentions in what it is doing, ultimately, the legislator falls prey to the Broken Window Fallacy. The legislator takes into account the immediate seen consequences of acting or not acting, as the case may be; however, he fails to take into account the unseen and less immediate consequences of his actions. 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat wrote an essay about this in 1850, titled That Which Is Seen And That Which Is Not Seen.
When you are tempted to use your government to act in a way that might seem desirable, remember to look for “That Which Is Not Seen”. Also, before you act, or before you decide to support some sort of government legislation, remember that good intentions do not guarantee desirable outcomes. Make sure you look for and weigh all consequences that may arise from your action–the easily seen as well as the not-so-easily seen. This seems elementary, but an overwhelming number of people make this mistake very often. (Including a Nobel Prize winning economist who refers to WWII as an economic stimulus, entirely disregarding that the massive amount of resources spent on war and reconstruction could have been better spent elsewhere. Talk about falling prey to the Broken Window Fallacy!)
- Day 29 – Dr. Jackson
This is Dr. Jackson, my English professor this semester. I took these photos in class on Tuesday, with his permission, of course. Click the photos to view them larger.
In the bottom photo, he was refuting an argument made by one of the students in class. He is a very entertaining lecturer and I really enjoy his class. You can visit his website to learn more about him.
- Day 28 – Last CCA Lecture
The last speaker of the week was Paul Ingrassia, author, former journalist, and Pulitzer Prize winner. (Click on the photo to view larger.) He spoke about cars that helped define American culture. He is also writing a book on the subject, which will be published by HarperCollins. The faculty round-table discussions are tomorrow, but there are no additional speakers for the CCA. Students just talk over the lectures with professors from the college.
I will be very relieved when Friday gets here. I have a paper due, the CCA will be officially over, and I can relax a little this weekend.
- Day 27 – Gennady Stolyarov II
Sharply-dressed Gennady Stolyarov II asks author Martin Fridson a question. Click the photo to view larger.
Gennady is a senior at Hillsdale College with a remarkable triple major in Economics, Mathematics, and German. He is an independent writer for a variety of online magazines and websites and runs an online magazine, The Rational Argumentator, and a blog, The Progress of Liberty.
Today was the third day of the CCA. Today’s speakers were Martin Fridson, author of Unwarranted Intrusions: The Case Against Government Intervention In the Marketplace, and Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Both speakers were excellent. Fridson spoke about why ethanol regulations do not make sense and Ebell spoke about why government should not have a role in creating new car technologies.
- Day 26 – Joseph White and Peter Collier
Day 2 of the Cars & Trucks, Markets & Government CCA. Joseph White from the Wall Street Journal (top) and Peter Collier, political author and founder of Encounter Books (bottom), spoke today. White spoke on the decline of the Detroit 3 since 1970 and Collier spoke on the history of the Ford Motor Company. Both speakers were very interesting and, in my opinion, much better than yesterday’s John Engler. White was engaging and witty, and Collier’s story about Ford was full of fascinating information. Click the photos to view them larger.
- Day 25 – CCA Week
Tonight was the first lecture of the Center for Constructive Alternatives lecture series titled, “Cars and Trucks, Markets and Government.” Pictured here is John Engler, former Governor of Michigan, who delivered the first lecture. Click on the photo to view larger.
Mr. Engler disappointed me a little with his question dodging and his support of the government bailout of the auto industry. Let’s hope that the other speakers will be better. It looks like a few other people on the schedule are going to be great. I will report what I think on here in the coming days.
Here is the schedule for the week:
SUNDAY, JANUARY 25
8:00 p.m. “Michigan’s Competitiveness, Yesterday and Today”
Former Governor, State of Michigan
MONDAY, JANUARY 26
4:00 p.m. “The Decline of the ‘Big Three’ Since the 1970s”
Wall Street Journal
8:00 p.m. “The Fords and the Rise of the U.S. Automotive Industry”
Co-Author, The Fords: An American Epic
TUESDAY, JANUARY 27
4:00 p.m. “Do Ethanol Regulations Make Sense?”
Author, Unwarranted Intrusions: The Case Against
Government Intervention In the Marketplace
8:00 p.m. “New Car Technology: Should Government Have a Role?”
Competitive Enterprise Institute
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28
4:00 p.m. “The U.S. Automotive Industry: Looking Ahead”
Center for Automotive Research
8:00 p.m. “American Cars and American Culture”
Author, Engines of Change
THURSDAY, JANUARY 29
11:00 a.m. Faculty Roundtable
- Day 24 – Response to Comments
Today’s post is a response to the numerous comments that I received, both online and in person, on my post about President Obama’s Inaugural Address. Please read the comments before reading this post.
I want everyone to know that I appreciate the comments. If you ever need clarifications on what I write, just leave a comment and I will do my best to explain. Also, I enjoy reading individuals’ thoughts on what I write, especially if they disagree or find an error. Anytime errors that can be corrected benefit us all by bringing us closer to the truth.
First, I want to start out with a few clarifications of what I do and do not support, in case it was not clear in my last post. From some of the comments that I received, there seems to have been a little confusion with this.
I do not support the Republican Party or the Bush administration. Both have strayed far from their original goals and I think that the Bush administration brought more socialism to the United States since the 1930s than any other administration through massive intervention into the financial markets, the attempted take over of the auto industry, massive intervention into the medical industry, and a very large growth of government. That said, I do not support any political party, so in criticizing President Obama’s ideas, I am not in favor of any other candidate.
I do not support ad hominem attacks on the new president. Calling him by his middle name, Hussein, is trying to make a connection between him and terrorists and is nonsense. He clearly is not a terrorist and, though I do not know him personally, I suspect he is most likely a morally upright man. Calling him a terrorist makes one sound like a jingoistic, nationalistic, talk-radio host. We should look at what President Obama advocates rather than the correlations between his name and the name of a man who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. I also want to remind everyone that ideas expressed in the comments on my blog are not my own unless posted by me under the name “cagrimmett”. Each person takes responsibility of his or her own comment.
When I say “government”, I mean government as is seen in the world today. Technically, the word government can mean the regulation of any relationship between any two or more entities. What I mean here when I say government is the coercive body which regulates and controls a nation, state, or community, which we see in the world today. (All governments proper in the world today employ coercion to stay in power.) I am not arguing government in its regulation of some sort of relationship between entities should not exist, because that is impossible. Any time there is a regulation, even if both sides contractually agree, there is government. What I am against is coercive government, a.k.a. the kind that we see most often in the world today. When I say government, I mean the coercive sense rather than the regulation of any relationship between any two or more entities unless I specify. If it is ever unclear, ask.
When I talk about the free market, I am not talking about the market that we see in America, I am not talking about “American Capitalism” as we see today, and I am not talking about the so-called free market that the Republicans advocate. Such things are not the free market. There has not been a free market in America, or anything relatively like it, since the 1800s. In fact, I do not think a clear example of it can be seen in the world today. I am talking about the free market that Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Menger, Hazlitt, and others advocated. If you do not know what I am talking about, ask me. What we see in America today is a market with very large interference and control by the government. Some people call it a free market, but it really is not.
Happeningfish, this part is addressed to you: A large part of what I wanted to reply to you with was said in the free market paragraph and the government paragraph above, so I will not repeat myself. You wrote, “To say that more government necessarily means less freedom is naive in the extreme and displays a lack of familiarity with different shades of government and policy in effect around the world.” I agree that I do not know all of the different shades of government and policy around the world. I do, however, understand how government exists and I understand the necessity of freedom. I agree with Mises when he says, ”Government is essentially the negation of liberty.” If you can show me a situation where more government proper produces more personal and economic freedom than less government proper can, I would be very interested and it would, if your example is true, change the way I view things and what I believe.
Sean, this part is addressed to you: I think that our country’s biggest problem is not intolerance of race, religion, or lifestyles (though certainly those are problems, I agree); it is that we do not have a firm foundation of property rights and what we do have is not entirely protected. I think once property rights are fully in place and respected, it will do more for fixing the problems that intolerance causes than President Obama can fix by trying to unite people. We have discussed this before. I think it works the opposite way as well, though. Once people are “united” and people are more tolerant, property rights will be respected. The more difficult of these two tasks is in getting people united, though. Like I said, once property rights are respected–by the government as well as people–the problems caused by intolerance will be minimal to non-existent.
Also, Sean, when I say “sheep”, I mean people blindly following what they hear without fully examining the consequences. I admit that I am occasionally a sheep, as is everyone at some point in time) but I try to minimize the amount of time I am by continually learning and questioning.
Alex (and partially, Mort), this part is addressed to you: Monopolies can not happen under an actual free market. Artifically high prices can not be sustained for any long length of time unless there are government barriers to entry. If prices are too high, the “monopoly” has to contend with the possibility of competitors entering the market and producing goods and selling them at lower prices. If the original firm once afforded to sell its goods at a lower price, chances are their competitors can do the same and the artificially high price becomes unsustainable. On the other hand, Rothbard extends Mises’ socialism argument to show that a free-market monopoly cannot persist anyway. If a firm has no competitors, it becomes subject to the same calculation problems inherent in a socialist system, and will become uncompetitive and lose its position of dominane. The real monopoly is the government. Do you have any choice to start another form of government in an area? No. Force will be used to subdue you and tear down what you started. As of now, your only choice is a coercive government here or elsewhere and the degree of coercion (forced confiscation of wealth or slaughter). I will write more about my understanding of monopolies, and why they do not exist under a free market, in the future.
Also, Alex, a choice between two individuals in government is not the same in any respects to a choice between two goods in the free market. You are correct, the majority of the people wanted Obama. I am not saying that if they want to be happy they should go against what “they feel in their own hearts is correct.” Being happy is a subjective thing. I am saying that if they want to be free, the LAST place to turn is the government. I do not know “more about what they want and need than they do.” If they want Obama, that is fine. I am just telling them what is likely to be the consequence of their decisions. (By the way, you might want to check your basis of what is a right. In my opinion, “the most important right[s] in the history of the world” are property rights.) Also, I do not like democracy. Like our government, I think it is illegitimate.
I have a few more comments about President Obama’s address. If he wants to extend opportunity to every willing heart, he needs to immediately stop government subsidies of all kinds, because they are selective and amount to favoritism. They help out inefficient businesses and encourage the misallocation of resources. Additionally, he needs to read up on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory. If he is worried about these booms, busts, and recessions, the best thing to do is deregulate the financial markets. A basic understanding of the ABCT tells us that these conditions which cause recessions and economic downturns are caused by the Federal Reserve artificially lowering interest rates. Artificially low interest rates amount to printing money and “is an artificial means of recovering from a very real effects of an artificial boom.” To quote more of Dan Mahoney, “Money is property, and under a monetary system which makes it appear that more property exists for production than actually exists, failure is inevitable.” Instead of allowing markets to clear malinvestment, the current monetary system keeps propping it up until the bottom drops out. What happens then? A recession, until entrepreneurs have time to liquidate. Only though the process of converting malinvestments to productive capital can the foundation for growth be achieved.
One thing I am positive about in Obama’s presidency is that he loves technology. He promises to set up a website, recovery.gov, to show where tax dollars are spent. He also promises to digitize the nation’s health records within 5 years. Anytime the government becomes more accountable (if you can trust their information), it is a good thing. He also is doing a weekly YouTube address.
Also, keep perspective in mind over the next four years. The bar has been set pretty low by the socialism and false promises of the Bush administration, so it is difficult for Obama to look bad.