Friday, September 10, 2010

Leo Strauss, American Ethical Decline and Aristotle's Highest Hope

I was just reading Leo Strauss's magnificent Natural Right and History.  Strauss is a first rate thinker, on a par with the great libertarians, yet I disagree with a large chunk of his perspective.  I must say that the early chapter on Max Weber is of tremendous importance to the work I have been doing on business schools' teaching of justice as the core management competency and the Aristotelian and Nietzschean traditions in mangement theory.  Strauss's arguments in favor of natural right and law are profound and explicate a core insight at which I arrived in my undergraduate years. That is, that the justification of ethics is inherent in the socio-biology of humanity.  Natural right and natural law are socio-biological constructs.  Conventionalism, the notion that ethics is arbitrary, can be disproved empirically.  Strauss makes invaluable arguments along those lines.  As well, Strauss outlines the very concept I have been thinking about and am working toward: the crucial importance of decentralization to the development of the virtuous and liberal state.  I am glad I am reading Strauss now after I have outlined the project in my mind.  Although the idea is my own independent of Strauss, Strauss must be given major credit for conceptualizing the project in 1953.

I do not agree with Strauss in a number of ways. Most important among these is his emphasis on human differentials with respect to the prospects of attaining virtue.  Strauss's emphasis on this aspect of Plato and Aristotle leads to elitism which I do not share.  This elitism is very much in the Progressive and Marxist traditions.  I do not agree that there are people who have a special claim to virtue.  Anyone who thinks so can try to fix their own plumbing or their own cars.  Just because someone can go to Harvard does not make them more valuable than a plumber.  When my pipes go, I care about a plumber, not a philosopher or a politician. Sorry, Ayn Rand. What I want is a virtuous plumber.  And a virtuous plumber will not go home, drink a 12-pack of beer, and wash his hands of what has happened to the nation.  Rather, America has declined because of the elitism inherent in Progressivism.

Coincidentally Jim Crum sent me Andrew Malcolm's LA Times article that suggests that America is indeed in serious moral decline due to the Progressive and socialist policies that the Democratic and Republican Parties advocate.  The article finds that 41 Obama appointees have not paid their taxes.  As well, federal employees in general owe a billion dollars in unpaid taxes, and 638 workers on capitol hill owe $9.3 million in unpaid taxes. As Treasury Secretary, who is in charge of collecting taxes, Obama appointee Timothy Geithner owes $43,000 in unpaid taxes.  As well, within the department of homeland security  "4,856 people owe $37,012,174."

Aristotle argued that the role of the city state is to educate moral citizens.  Clearly American society has failed in this elementary task. The problem is not just with dysfunctional schools which systematically fail to teach the three 'rs along with basic morals; nor with the decaying family, harmed by the Wall Street economy that has destroyed job opportunities in general but especially for men and has fractured the family by forcing women to return to work at an early age.   It is also due to the miasma of bad ethics that imbues the casino economy; the get-rich-quick psychology of Federal Reserve Bank-financed Wall Street speculation and the carry trade; the mentality that one gets rich by sucking at the tit of the state rather than working hard.  All of this is nothing new.  For decades the Progressive state structure has systematically rewarded fast-talking corporate types with smooth interpersonal but limited productive skills and penalized those who take legitimate risks. The Federal Reserve Bank churns out easy credit made available to speculators in stocks and real estate but the government taxes work (through the income tax) and thereby inhibits small scale capital accumulation, creating a bank-dominated economy that is inherently corrupt.  All of this tends to manipulation of paper and cheating, at which Republicans like Rick Lazio as well as Democrats like Timothy Geithner excel.

A nation which allows cheats like Lazio and Geithner to attain high office has failed Aristotle's highest hope for the city state.  The nation is failing morally and the fault is Progressivism. Moral failure will lead to collapse. The Founding Fathers knew Aristotle and they were aware of this point.  So were the Mugwumps of the Gilded Age.  Because of its fascist economy, the nation has foresaken its moral foundations.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cost of Living in a Fascist America

The dissonance between the news one receives from Democratic and Republican sources, that is from the Wall Street/government based media, reminds me of the stories I used to hear about communist eastern Europe when I was a youngster.  Everyone knew that government statistics were nonsense and that the broadcasts from the state-dominated media were propaganda.  So it is today in "Progressive" America.

One of the chief areas where government has manipulated information is with respect to prices. The Poughkeepsie Journal featured an article on September 6 describing how costs in Dutchess County have increased more than wages partially because the wages in New York City have declined and there is a sizable commuter element.  One point that the article omits is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics excluded house prices from cost of living calculations in the early 1980s. Thus, inflation has been understated for nearly three decades.  In response to declines in house prices over the past two years, the federal government has intervened aggressively to prop them up. This has had the effect of exacerbating the cost of living increases to a far greater degree than is revealed in government numbers.  When talking about house prices, the fascist media treats their inflation as essential to economic well being.

Recent graduates face earnings profiles that start at maybe 4 times what they were in the 1970s but house prices have gone up much more than that.   If you start work earning $40,000 but houses cost $200,000, then you are put in the position of becoming a debtor to banks at heretofore unknown levels.
I worked as a doorman at a posh New York City apartment building on 54th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues during the summer of 1974.  The apartments were selling for $55,000 or so, while doormen were making ten or $11,000.  In other words, given the calculus of the today's housing market, I as a college-aged doorman could have afforded an apartment in the exclusive building where I worked.   Looking at it another way, the apartments in that building now probably sell for $1.5 million, a twenty-fold increase.  But doormen's wages have increased four fold.  Yet, the enormous escalation in the cost of housing due to government policies is omitted from consumer price increase calcluations (the Federal Reserve Bank and the banking system are the only reason for these price increases, not some other exogenous explosion in housing demand).

The belief that price increases are due to forces other than government policy is superstitious.  Yet, that kind of superstition is provided in the American media and from universities.  Rather than discuss price increases in terms of government decisions to allocate wealth to banking and real estate interests, the Poughkeepsie Journal considers cost of living increases to be an unfortunate but uncontrollable and spontaneous phenomenon.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Think Global, Act Local

I mailed about 650 Town of Olive Republican newsletters. As I mailed the newsletter, which announces a Town Republican Committee meeting, I have increasing concerns about the future of my involvement with the GOP, especially with respect to state-level and national-level candidates, i.e., for Senate, Governor and President.  I have been happy to support NY 22nd CD George Phillips, who is having a very nice $500 per plate fund raising dinner the same night as our Town meeting. 

I took myself off blog impresario Larwyn's mailing list, telling Larwyn that I do not want to associate further with GOP activists. I do not think that the GOP is different from the Democratic Party, and the American public continues to resist transformation of either or creation of a third and fourth party. 

I also told Raquel Okyay that I would not support her projected candidacy for state assembly further.  Besides being a Lazio supporter Okyay continues to support the policies of George W. Bush.  I consider Bush to be a fascist and a crook, and Lazio is no better.  Hence, I do not see the point of supporting Okyay in her strategizing about a candidacy.  I suggested that Okyay familiarize herself with basic books on freedom such as John Locke and Friedrich Hayek, but unsurprisingly she took no interest in doing so.  Rather she wrote the following response to my e-mail, which comes after hers:
Raquel: Mitchell -- You want to put all your eggs in the Paladino basket - go for it - You are no friend of mine.  You watched a man you don't know give two speeches and you are prepared to not just throw our friendship under the bus, but also do damage to my carreer!  What the f*ck is wrong with you Mitchell?  Wake up out of your dream - you just lost one of the best allies you had.    

Me: Sorry, Raquel.  I do not support Progressives.  I've already let Mike Marnell know my opinion that the Lincoln Eagle ought to oppose you if you run for office in this district.  George Bush is sc*m.  I cannot support someone who likes him, which you do.  You're a nice person, but that does not change the underlying issues.   George Bush has done tremendous harm to this country, and I put his supporters in the same category as Obama's supporters.  To me, you are equivalent to Rahm Emanuel. That you do not see the difference between Paladino and Lazio only adds further support for my assessment that your political views are opposed to freedom.  If you don't know what I'm talking about you need to do some reading, because you are not educated about freedom.  And I don't mean the New York Times, which agrees with you about Lazio.  I mean John Locke, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Bertrand de Jouvenal and the Federalist Papers.

Raquel: Mitchell I'm shocked!! We can disagree in a primary race, can't we?  Why does Paladino do this to people, I don't get it?  Did we even support the same GOP candidate for President in 08, Mitchell?  Did it matter?  You may have saw Paladino speak a couple of times, but you know me for years.  I expect this from amateurs, not from old friends like you.

Me: I have heard Carl speak twice and he has emphasized the following issues: excessive welfare spending and cutting the state budget by 20%. No Republican has such a focus, certainly not Rick Lazio who was involved in the biggest expansion of government in the past 25 years, the corrupt bailout of Wall Street conceptualized by the Republican Party and George W. Bush.

I think it is clear, Raquel, that we have little common ground. You continue to support big government advocates like George Bush and Rick Lazio and, like your fellow Progressives in the Republican Party, are troubled by Mr. Paladino's focus on 20% budget cuts, which you attempt to deflect with an out of context quote about welfare recipients in jail. Afraid of going to jail, are you? In any case, please do not consider me a supporter of anything you have in mind for the future. I do not like Progressives.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Subaru Psychology

 Motor Trends named the Subaru Forester 2009 Sport Utility of the Year (see bottom video below).  Because of its four wheel drive and reasonable price ($31,000 fully loaded) the Forester is a good choice for a second car in the Catskills, where winding mountain roads and snowy winters are the norm.  For instance, my 1991 Ford Probe was unable to go up Overlook Mountain back in the winter of '98 (it couldn't get traction about half way up) and my Lexus went into anti-skid mode going downhill on the curvy Boiceville end of Piney Point Road last winter.  Plus, the Forester's ample rear cargo room is ideal for hauling trash, lawn products from the hardware store and other artifacts of rural life.

But there is a problem:  the Subaru "love" commercials.  A friend in Olivebridge, which is Subaru country (as is my neighboring West Shokan) points out that mainly left wingers, diesel dykes, people with bumper stickers that read "Women's Writers' Conference", transvestites in tu tus and hippies drive Subarus.  My friend takes issue with my buying a Subaru seeing that I view Republicans as a big government party and consider Democrats the party of Karl Marx.  See the two commercials below.  Clearly,  the Subaru love theme is problematic.  The Subaru is a car for vegetarians, not high cholesterol types like me.

After my friend made this observation I began checking out Subaru drivers. They are passive-aggressive.  Left (never right) turns in busy intersections; speeding up when you try to pass them on the NYS Thruway; erratic stops in the Village of Woodstock.  Passive-aggressive driving is characteristic of leftists, who are tolerant of all values and will lynch you if you disagree. Equally, left-wingers are plain bad drivers as any drive through Woodstock will confirm. The recognition that Subaru drivers are passive aggressive supports my friend's claim that they are tu tu clad granola crunchers as well.

But this argument leads me to the best reason to buy a Subaru. It is the perfect undercover vehicle. I can go to Woodstock, park in the lot behind the Houst hardware store, load up on rock salt, and no one will break my window.  Or, I can attend an Obama rally and everyone will think I'm really a supporter. Or visit the farmer's market in Woodstock. Or the next Arlo Guthrie concert in Bel Ayre.  An undercover vehicle has many uses around here.  Contrast that with a red Porsche.

The Subaru Forester is the perfect undercover car. 

Conversation with Contrairimairi about Failure of GOP


Unfortunately here in New York the GOP is decidedly socialist and no change is in sight despite the Tea Party. The Tea Party itself is confused. There is little hope of progress here, the state will continue to decline until the economy collapses.


I've been following your postings about the goings on there. I am not certain that we CAN take America back in 2010 or 2012. There are so many "progressives" entrenched in both parties, that I think weeding them out is almost hopeless. The strong contenders here in Illinois are "progressives" even though running under the "R" banner. It's a joke, and it's HORRIFYING! People here are claiming they will not vote for anyone but a "D" or an "R", and it's looking like any "extra party" contenders will be thrown off the ballot here anyway. There are "suspicious" claims by the same two individuals challenging their signature petitions. If you remember, that's how BO won here in the past.

The candidate I was previously working for won entry to the ballot for an underdog, but the challenges, even if unfounded, seem to be "SOP" and moving forward regardless of the evidence to keep other contenders ON the ballot.

If we are afforded the possibility of electing only candidates from either major party who are still hell-bent on destroying the Constitution, what's the gain? Pelosi or Pelosi-light. Either way, the Constitution is still under a major assault that I am not certain we can rebuff in time.

GOD Bless,


P.S. - One small bit of good news, it has been found out that Gillibrand accepted donations from a man who has sent contributions to hamas. (He has also contributed to the GZM.) She is claiming to have no knowledge, and promising to "look into the matter", but this will NOT be good news for her!


All of the GOP bloggers I have been hanging out with for the past 5 years are turning out to be party hacks, loyal to Rick Lazio who accepted a bonus for securing $25 billion in bailout money for JP Morgan. I'm asking Larwyn to take me off her mailing list.  I consider Republicans to be no different from Democrats.  The Republicans are more anti-freedom than the Democrats.

New York City Tea Party to Rename Itself King George Tea Tax Party in Honor of Rick Lazio

The Tea Party movement was started by Ron Paul and his followers.  It was then adopted and perhaps coopted by a wide range of Republicans, many of whom have not thought very much about what they belive, or who are dupes of economic royalists, those who would have supported King George on December 16, 1773.  Nowhere is the confusion more evident than among those Republicans who claim to be members of a "tea party" but who support a candidate like Rick Lazio, a lobbyist for JP Morgan who oversaw the transfer of $25 billion from the public purse to the private pockets of JP Morgan's incompetent, morally depraved executives.

The royalist, pro Rick Lazio Tea Party movement should consider renaming itself the King George Tea Tax movement. Supporters of the bailout are advocates of higher taxes, more regulation, more corruption and the kind of insane public policies that King George favored. 

How Embarrassing for the New York Times

The Buffalo News reports that the socialist advocates of welfare for bankers at the New York Times have endorsed a socialist advocate of welfare for bankers, Rick Lazio.  How embarrassing for the Times.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Robin Yess to Become Ulster County's GOP Committtee Chair

Robin Yess, Incoming Chair of the Ulster County Republican Committee
Mario Catalano, chair of the Ulster County Republican Committee, just e-mailed that he has decided not to seek another term of office.  He had previously announced his intention not to run, but there has been renewed discussion of his seeking another term.  Robin Yess, the current Vice Chair, had already announced her intention to seek the chair position, which presented a potential contest.  The committee positions are not paid and the rooms aren't even smoke filled. Go figure that two people actually wanted the job.  Both Catalano and Yess are good candidates for chair, and I was glad to see Mario decide not to change his mind and stick to his previous announcement that he was not going to run.

Maurice Hinchey Is So 14th Century

About two years ago Congressman Maurice Hinchey proposed to affix price controls to gasoline.  This recent example of economic illiteracy is hardly surprising. Polls have consistently found that social democrats have virtually no understanding of economics, which is probably why they are social democrats in the first place.  Sadly, this level of ignorance is shared by both parties, both of which supported the "bailout".

The popular image of the Middle Ages is that there was little knowledge about markets and that all of society lived happily on a feudal estate where there was no money and no economy in the modern sense. This claim has been turned into Tönnies's sociological constructs of "gemeinschaft" and "geselleschaft".  The gemeinschaft economy supposedly characteristic of the Middle Ages was one governed by organic unity, common beliefs and the like, whereas the geselleschaft economy is more or less the market economy.

It turns out that the vision of the Medieval economy on which Tönnies's constructs were based is wrong.  Also, it appears that by the 14th century European monarchs already had better economic understanding than today's Democrats.  In other words, there was a practical but likely not a theoretical understanding of how markets work.  Fourteenth century monks knew more about economics than my economically illiterate congressman, Maurice Hinchey.

Allow me to quote a passage concerning English history from Joel Kaye's essay "Monetary and Market Consciousness in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Europe" which appears on pages 379-80 of Lowry and Gordon's "Ancient and Medieval Economic Ideas and Concepts of Social Justice":

 "The clearest witness to this perception among English chroniclers is the author of the Via Edwardi Secundi. Though this chronicle was intended to record the reign of Edward II and his struggles, thoughts about money and prices continually crop up, as if they, in themselves, had historical significance to the writer and his audience.

"In 1315 after the military disaster at Bannockburn and in reaction to a terrible harvest and steeply rising prices, the chronicler records that Parliament, 'looking to the welfare of the state, appointed a remedy for this malady'. Prices on common foodstuffs such as oxen, pigs, sheep and chickens were fixed by law. The next year, 1316, Parliament was forced to reverse itself and cancel the maximum price edicts it had imposed even though the country was still in the grip of a disastrous harvest and rising prices.  Here is how the chronicler explains it:

"'The regulations formerly made about food were completely abolished...For as a result of that statute little or nothing was exposed for sale in the markets, whereas formerly there had been an abundant market in goods, though they seemed dear to travelers.  But it is better to buy dear than to find in the case of need that there is nothing to be had.  For although scarcity of corn raises the price, subsequent plenty will improve the situation.'

"Not only does the author choose to include this particular act of Parliament in his chronicle (when up to this point he mentioned Parliament only briefly and then only when it concerned King Edward), but he sees fit to add his own thoughts on the subject.  He notes that goods disappear as the result of price fixing and that high price is preferable to scarcity....

"There is no doubt that  a systematic conception of the market as a dynamic, self-regulating system constructed around the instrument of money had long been held among traders and those whose livelihood centered on trade. A glance at the journals of fourteenth-century merchants reveals how sophisticated their understanding of the market had become, and how central this understanding was to every aspect of their activity."

In fact, fourteenth century merchants had greater economic sophistication than social democratic congressmen of 21st century America.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Redlich or Republicans for Cuomo (if Paladino Loses)?

If Carl Paladino loses the GOP primary I see three options:

1. Stand down and don't vote for Governor at all
2. Support Warren Redlich, Libertarian Party candidate for governor
3. Join the ranks of Republicans for Cuomo.

Although I do not like Cuomo, in fact I view him as equaling Lazio, I think it is important for the GOP to stop supporting candidates who talk out of both sides of their mouths.  Lazio was a paid lobbyist for JP Morgan. But any candidate I support would be thinking about ways of reducing special interests' excessive capture of government. I am puzzled how Lazio could possibly resist providing largess to special interests when he has lobbied for it professionally.  As well, the bailout of the banking industry in 2008 was the worst government policy of the past 25 years, yet Lazio was deeply involved in it.  Hence, it is difficult to see how he would support policies that are antagonistic to big government given that such expansion has largely been to his own benefit.

Lazio's written policy positions are meaningless because the Republicans have repeatedly claimed to be for smaller government and then expanded government.  The policy positions of someone like Lazio have the same weight as the e-mails from Nigeria offering to deposit $10 million in your bank account if you give them the id number.    Even big government waster George W. Bush did not say that he was for big government.  Rather, he claimed to be for "compassionate conservatism" before passing a massive subsidy to the pharmaceutical industry and advocating increasing restrictions on civil liberties.

The Libertarian candidate, Warren Redlich, posts a piece about Republicans for Cuomo on his blog. Philosophically I agree with Redlich, and do not see a vote for a minor party as throwing one's vote away if there is no viable alternative.  But a message needs to be sent to the pathetic New York GOP this year that (a) the bailout was unacceptable; (b) the pattern of Republicans claiming to be for smaller government when they are not is unacceptable; and (c) the in-grown old boy network of Alfonse D'Amato and George Pataki has to be brought down.

Of course, there is still a chance that Paladino, who is outside of New York's pathetic GOP establishment, can still win.  Otherwise, it will be a tough choice between Redlich and Cuomo.