Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Common Vocabulary is No Small Achievement

Good art provides people with a vocabulary about things they can't articulate.
--Mos Def
Even though city governments across the nation have done their utmost to decamp the Occupy protesters who had set up tents and taken over parks, leaving the movement (momentarily at least) adrift, the effort was a huge success in one respect. It helped create a common vocabulary that is spreading outward and upward through each part of the nation's dialog. It has provided a shorthand, a means to get past the confusing plethora of phrases or positions that had stymied understanding before, and helped people articulate their frustrations in a way others could more easily understand. As Mos Def might point out, in that way it has been parallel to good art.

But let's look more closely at how that shared vocabulary is accelerating the conversations on topics previously too complex to make much headway on. Two days ago President Obama gave a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, about the economy that pundits are calling the cornerstone of his re-election campaign (and open opponents of the president are, oddly in unison, calling his "Godfather speech" because it struck them as a...ah, forget it...I can't figure out why they're calling it that...let's just say because they think it makes him look bad). In the speech Obama said:
I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic values or Republican values. These aren't 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They're American values.
He also used the Occupy rhetoric to explain why those who don't have a problem with the inequality are not actually pro-American...they're not even pro-business:

Look at the statistics. In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year. I'm not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars. I'm saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.

Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all. When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country. That's why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so that they could buy the cars he made. It's also why a recent study showed that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run. [emphasis mine]

I'll confess, for years I've bought the line that paying CEOs more money attracts the best qualified to leadership positions and that lifts all boats. Arguments against that always left me scratching my head, befuddled by the vague terminology and probably purposeful obfuscation. It's only through the shorthand of the 1% vocabulary that this picture snapped into focus for me. When CEOs' salaries are 110 times more than their average employees, that hurts the overall economy, because any given CEO is only going to buy X number of cars, whereas were his/her salary only, oh say, 50 times that of his/her average employee...and the difference were divvied up out across the company to everyone...far more cars would likely be purchased by those average employees. One person getting super rich only helps that one person and arguably harms the rest of us.

And the growing familiarity of the shorthand recently colored my opinion about a trend in the art world as well. Linda Yablonksy has a brave and somewhat surprising report on artnet.com titled "The Art World Naming Blight" in which she critiques the neo-Gilded Age practice of naming cultural institutions after oneself:
Last week, with collectors swarming Miami Beach in profligate display, the Miami Art Museum announced that it would rename itself the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County. Pérez, it was explained, is a local real estate developer who is donating $15 million to the expanding museum’s $200 capital campaign, on top of $5 million he already gave.

One MAM trustee, Mary Frank, was so outraged by the renaming that she quit the board (as did three other trustees, at last report). As she complained in an open letter to the Miami Herald, local taxpayers are contributing $100 million. Obviously, that sum outstrips the Pérez donation, but he is also giving the museum part of his collection of Latin American art. Reports didn’t say which part. It’s anyone’s guess how masterful it is, but the whole collection is said to be worth another $15 million. That’s still not enough to buy the place.
When I think of all the museums I love that are named for their benefactors (The Whitney, The Frick, The Carnegie, etc.), I have a hard time holding it against these people that they were vain enough to put their names over the doors. In addition to it being their right (my name is on my gallery :-), their names help bring in visitors and certainly trustees and board members, so it's simply common sense. But as Linda points out, the museum naming game has grown a bit over the years:
Buildings aren’t the only cultural turf a one-percenter can buy. Titles are also for sale. Adam Weinberg is the Alice Pratt Brown director of the Whitney Museum. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Garry Garrels functions as the Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture. And Lisa Phillips is the New Museum’s Toby Devan Lewis Director.

I don’t mean to fault the generosity of any of these donors. Their interests in art, education, medicine and other worthy causes presumably stem from a genuine philanthropic impulse. Their gifts keep institutions afloat, and may well inspire other citizens to put a similar stake in our cultural heritage. In the end, trading names to keep money flowing into museums seems a small, if grating, price to pay.
The "grating" part of it is probably more obvious when you realize only one of the people who donate their time or energy to keeping a cultural institution healthy and vibrant gets the honor of having their name represent this wing or that staff position. The others' hard work and generosity dissipates into history. As in Miami, this can lead them to quit, which ultimately is bad for these institutions.

As with CEO salaries, the naming blight limits the opportunities/rewards for those not at the very top. There is no doubt that it would cost Perez a lot more than $20 million dollars to build a museum of
his own with the Miami Art Museum's quality and reputation. So in that regard, this is a very good deal for him. But really only for him. That was never really clear to me before Linda chose to identify him as "a one-percenter." I hadn't stopped to think how his claiming the name could affect the museum's long term prospects. Before it might have seemed vain to me, but I would have focused more on the generosity of his $20 million gift, and figured he deserves it. The potential repercussions are only clearer to me because of this dialog that began with a dedicated group of people willing to sleep in tents.

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30 Comments:

Blogger Julie Takacs said...

My respect for you grows with this post. (not that I didn't respect you before this). When we are willing to continue to learn, adapt, and adjust our opinions...we are contributing to the improvement of the planet and the betterment of humanity. Your position and the humble tone of this post is inspiring. May you and yours have a really meaningful and cherished season.

12/08/2011 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Saskia said...

Well said.

Most museums-named-after-people stories that I am familiar with, historically speaking, were museums that were actually started by the individuals whose names they bear (much like your gallery, Mr Winkleman), and not a "purchase" of an existing museum's naming rights. That seems like a big difference to me.

Just to play devils advocate here for a minute: It is generally true that wealthy people have the ability to employ more people than an average person, which is probably a more significant benefit to society than how many cars they can or will buy vs. 50 average people... still, the numbers inequality even in that equation is really out of whack.

And having the ability to employ more people doesn't mean they will, in case that point hasn't been made crystal clear over the past few years.

12/08/2011 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Renaming an existing museum for one donor is an insult to the rest of the money donated. An indictment of the 1%ers view of their worth to America, and how they can't bear to do good without personal acclaim. To them whom much is given much is expected -- but without the PR campaign.

12/09/2011 04:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Jorge M Perez Museum of Miami-Dade County sounds a lot less important than the Miami Museum -because Mr Perez is a lot less important than Miami. If the Boston MFA were renamed after some big donor from the suburbs, how stupid would that be?

12/09/2011 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Renaming the Miami Museum after Mr Perez the Jorge M Perez Museum of Miami Dade County makes it sound a lot less important because Mr Perez is a lot less important than Miami. If the Boston MFA were renamed after some big donor from the suburbs how stupid would that be? Even Crystal Bridges isn't named after Walmart.

12/09/2011 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Right - it goes past "the confusing plethora of phrases or positions that had stymied understanding before" into a rhetorical position in which understanding isn't necessary. That "1%" business is political gold - a catchy catchphrase that unpacks into a sentiment too ugly to express in so many words, namely, that rich people who don't subscribe to liberal politics deserve something bad to happen to them. As opposed to rich people who do subscribe to liberal politics, who are, by their own characterization, exempt from similar indignation.

I could put together a film festival of clips like this one in which people are harassed, demeaned, and threated with violence for having the temerity to hold a camera and a critical viewpoint at an Occupy encampment. OWS is arguably the first postmodernist protest movement, in that it Derridesquely refused to define itself, and preemptively staved off intellectual and political failure by making sure that there were never any stated goals except the symbolic one of continuing as long as possible to camp in city parks. One could have predicted months ago that it was going to declare itself a success after the last encampment was cleared. All it had to do was "affect the discourse" or some equivalent prattle, duly offered above.

We even get to see the shorthand in action. Perez is a one-percenter! That explains everything. Thus you don't have to consider that the guy running the museum is a first-order academic postmodernist, and that throwing twenty years of institutional history out the window would be a natural thing for such a person to do.

12/10/2011 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to laugh at all the art dealers trying to relate to the 99%. I'm sorry, but if your gallery runs on a 50/50 split and you are averaging $500,000 or so in profit after expenses are taken out you are not part of the 99% in my opinion. Not saying you fit in that group Winkleman but others do. There is a fear that the public will shun the big names more than they already do.

12/12/2011 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And I have to sigh that you weren't bold enough to sign your name to that comment. The dealers you're laughing at have that conviction at least.

And I'd love to know how much you think it costs to run a gallery and how many you think make $500,000 profit in any given year. It's not many of them, I can guarantee you.

12/12/2011 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it goes past "the confusing plethora of phrases or positions that had stymied understanding before" into a rhetorical position in which understanding isn't necessary.

Understanding?

You're right. We should all sit around, doing nothing but hoping and waiting until there's a clear explanation for what caused the financial collapse of 2008. Because the experts can't agree on one, and that will ensure the status quo continues indefinitely.

12/12/2011 08:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

We should all sit around, doing nothing but hoping and waiting until there's a clear explanation for what caused the financial collapse of 2008.

Your wait is over!

The 2008 financial collapse was caused by overleveraged investments in mortgage-backed securities on a colossal scale by the big financial houses. In a free market, the risks entailed in such investments would have been self-evidently insane. Unfortunately, the actual real estate market harbored massive distortions brought on by a host of government policies and initiatives designed to encourage home ownership. House prices went sideways instead of up for a little while, and the ensuing losses were magnified all over the system by the leverage.

There's really only confusion about what caused the collapse among people who want to absolve the government's role in the debacle.

12/12/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Nice try, but the "host of government policies" were crystal clear that the banks were still obligated to only offer sound mortgages. The banks took advantage of those policies to excuse reckless mortgages.

So the question remains...what regulations were ignored or were needed to ensure banks act in accordance with the law and their clients' best interests.

The government is a convenient scapegoat for those who want a quick excuse for reckless and probably illegal behavoir.

12/12/2011 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 99% folks please don't lump small buisness owners in with the 1% who own the game. Put your cash on the line and go for it and you will see just how difficult it is.

Making a go of a Art Gallery has to be one of the most difficult nuts to crack in the buisness world.

As a small buisness owner. The open sign is always on you pretty much work 24/7/365 It never ends and you can never say no to your main customers or the Fawcett gets turned off.

12/12/2011 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Nice try, but the "host of government policies" were crystal clear that the banks were still obligated to only offer sound mortgages.

You don't seem to be disputing my narrative. Yes, the banks took advantage of those policies. Those policies shouldn't have existed.

Leaving aside the fact that the government is demonstrably unqualified to determine loan soundness, that's far from the only issue. In 2008, the government was on the hook for a quarter of all subprime home loans, which are not sound by definition. There's a mortgage interest deduction that turns home ownership into a tax advantage. There's a centrally planned federal funds rate that the Fed keeps low, ostensibly to boost the economy, thus making it hard for a bank to earn revenue by doing normal bank-y things, like offering savings accounts. Disaster-prone areas like South Florida have federally underwritten homeowner's insurance. Logic, not scapegoating, is enough to determine that all these affect house prices and what constitutes desirable investment. As I've been telling people for months, it's time to occupy an economics textbook.

So the question remains...what regulations were ignored or were needed to ensure banks act in accordance with the law and their clients' best interests.

Oh, I thought the question was what caused the 2008 collapse. This new one isn't much of a question. You want regulations to ensure compliance with the law? Do you want more regulations to ensure compliance with the regulations that ensure compliance with the law? Do you know what a regulation is? As for acting in clients' best interest, federal law says that the only obligation that a corporation has to its shareholders is to make money. The scary thing is not that those risky investments were "possibly illegal," it's that it might have been illegal not to make them if similar institutions were doing so.

The government is a convenient scapegoat for those who want a quick excuse for reckless and probably illegal behavior.

Wall Street is a convenient scapegoat for those who want a quick excuse for failed public policy.

12/12/2011 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You don't seem to be disputing my narrative. Yes, the banks took advantage of those policies. Those policies shouldn't have existed.

I'm not sure it follows that the policies shouldn't have existed just because unscrupulous bankers took advantage of them.

And the government didn't dictate what constitutes loan soundness...the salient point is that that law didn't mean they had to give out obviously bad loans. They chose to do that anyway and blamed the laws for.

And as for the only thing a bank is obligated to do, make money, common sense dictates that that can't be at the expense of the global economy. Risky behavior that still makes you money but costs everyone else their livelihood is something the government has a right to regulate. And yes, I know what a regulation is. Just because they existed doesn't mean they were complied with.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/business/conformedcomplaint.pdf

12/12/2011 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 1/2 cents.

0. China let in WTO

1. 20 year bull market ends in 2000 with tech blow off top .

2. 9/11 happens

3.recession

The economy is a national seecurity issue.

4. Bush administration has meeting on how to fire up economy. War machine enabled up .

5. Alan Greenspan is given greenlight to commence housing boom .Banks and wall street given anything goes signal .

6.Party begins.... Best party ever. California Migrant workers given 600k mortgages . If you have a pulse you get unlimted fucking $$$$$$.

7.house prices and stock market soars.

8.party starting to get sour no more people to sell to.

9.wall street starts to eat its own bear stearns and lehman bros fed to the bigger sharks.

10.$140 dollar oil

11. all the cocaine and whiskey is gone :(

12. CRASH!

13. The big boys get bailed out cuzz they did what they were told to do.


14.No one goes to jail cuzz the goverment authorized everything to pump up the economy.
NATIONAL SECURITY

13. we are in the 12th year of a bear market probaly have atother 8 years of this until the next big thing. AND BULL MARKET.

14. Problems in Euro land

15. ???????????????????

The beat goes on...............

12/12/2011 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I'm not sure it follows that the policies shouldn't have existed just because unscrupulous bankers took advantage of them.

After Hurricane Andrew rolled over Homestead in 1992, home insurers ran the numbers, and figured out that they were going to get their clocks cleaned if that ever happened again. (The wreckage of Homestead was the most expensive natural disaster ever recorded to date, but an initial forecast sent the storm right down 56th Street in Miami, which would have been much worse.) Insurers pulled out of Florida en masse.

In a free market, new construction would have slowed to a crawl. Banks won't make home loans without insurance on the property. What did get built would have to stand a reasonable chance against a 160-MPH windstorm and a 20-foot surge, which would have driven up costs and limited opportunity for new building. Instead, the federal government started underwriting policies at a rate comparable to going prices for home insurance pre-Andrew. Housing ballooned, property got built up to the waterline, and real estate prices went up for twenty-five years.

If a market doesn't correct for two decades, it makes a certain amount of sense to play it with deals leveraged at 30:1, which is what happened. It would be nice if we could say that those investors were unscrupulous or crazy or whatever, but the system was corrupt all the way down. Even Joe Banker lending $150K to a guy with decent credit for a house was taking part in an economic farce.

And that's just windstorm insurance. Consider the mortgage interest tax deduction. Consider Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Not just unscrupulous bankers were taking advantage of these policies. Anyone who wanted to make money in real estate was forced to deal with these contrived circumstances that contained the seeds of their own destruction. That is why those policies shouldn't have existed.

12/14/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Oh, and this:

Risky behavior that still makes you money but costs everyone else their livelihood is something the government has a right to regulate.

The government has no rights. Period. People have rights, and it is the purpose of government to ensure them.

12/15/2011 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The government has no rights. Period. People have rights, and it is the purpose of government to ensure them.

{{ rolling eyes }}

yes, yes, I know...government=bad and by extension, corporations or anyone else just looking out for their own interests (damn everyone else to hell) =good...because, of course, all will be well when we just let everyone do as they wish without anyone watching or holding them to any pesky standards...and when it's not, well, screw the little guy...he should have read the fine print or made enough money to hire better lawyers...

The problem I have with most Libertarian ideology is that it seems it would work well if we all lived on separate ranches in Montana or wherever, but in the real world, where people are crammed into cities and bombarded with unscrupulous attempts to separate them from their money, it simply seems irresponsible, if not insane.

More to the point here, the Libertarian platform contains a central paradox, insisting as it does that each person has the "right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest" but rejecting efforts to define what "honest" means through regulations. And "honest" cannot be defined as "legal" here. It may have been "legal" for banks to sell what they knew were toxic products to their clients, but it certainly wasn't "honest."

Moreover, if I honestly hate a minority, because of my religion or whatever, it's an anti-Libertarian position to force me not oppress them. And in that, it's a very insidious means of ensuring the tyranny of the majority.

But we're not critiquing Libertarianism...we're discussing government regulations.

So let me rephrase:

The people have the right to insist their government (which is not only for the people, but of and by the people) regulate against risky behaviors that threaten the livelihood of us all. The people have the right to elect lawmakers who favor more regulation or elect those who don't.

Even though it chafes Libertarian sensibilities, many of the rest of us see the logic of regulation and the pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking of a world without it.

12/15/2011 08:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Ed.

conservatives and libertarians complain about regulation, but in an incredibly complex world such as the one we live in, where many normal economic activities have externalities which have negative effects on others who have no stake in such activities, without effective regulation it just becomes a feeding frenzy.

12/15/2011 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Well, in honor of the relaunch of Artblog.net, let's have an old-fashioned fisking, shall we?

{{ rolling eyes }} yes, yes, I know...government=bad...

The government has no rights, not because "government=bad," but because every worthwhile charter of citizenship since the Magna Carta was conceived as a list of limits on the powers of rulers. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are no exceptions.

and by extension, corporations or anyone else just looking out for their own interests (damn everyone else to hell) =good...

I'd like to remind your readers that Winkleman Gallery is a corporation.

because, of course, all will be well when we just let everyone do as they wish without anyone watching or holding them to any pesky standards...

Sure, as long as they're not harming anyone.

and when it's not, well, screw the little guy...

No, the little guy gets his day in court. Libertarians don't believe in liability caps. BP, for instance, could have been sued into oblivion for what they did to the Gulf of Mexico.

The problem I have with most Libertarian ideology...

I have beliefs, you have an ideology, he/she has an agenda.

...is that it seems it would work well if we all lived on separate ranches in Montana or wherever, but in the real world...

"We don’t really spend a lot of time talking about 'libertopia' around here."

More to the point here, the Libertarian platform contains a central paradox, insisting as it does that each person has the "right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest" but rejecting efforts to define what "honest" means through regulations.

Libertarians are for the most part in favor of the existence of laws. What we oppose is the attempt to use law to protect people from reality. Shortly before Governor Rick Scott of Florida did away with regulations on interior designers this year, an interior designer named Michelle Early told the state legislature that deregulation would "contribute to 88,000 deaths every year." Even if that were true, the libertarian position is that I ought to be free to assess my own risk and choose a fabric swatch accordingly.

Moreover, if I honestly hate a minority, because of my religion or whatever, it's an anti-Libertarian position to force me not oppress them.

The libertarian position is that you may insult them and you may decline to associate with them. But you may not harm them, cheat them, or damage their property.

But we're not critiquing Libertarianism...

Of course.

we're discussing government regulations.

Not only are you not disputing my narrative, you're also not disputing that government action in the form of tax codes and government-sponsored enterprises have had perverse consequences on the housing market. By all means, let's discuss regulations.

The people have the right to insist their government... regulate against risky behaviors that threaten the livelihood of us all.

Meh. Our collective livelihoods were never in any more danger than usual. Shrub just didn't want to end a disastrous presidency with a string of major bank failures, especially while McCain was trying to get elected. The economy would have contracted, which it should have done a lot earlier, the overleveraged banks would have failed, the depositors would have been bailed out, and bankers the world over would begun regarding multi-tranche synthetic collateralized debt obligations like having a chunk of plutonium around the office. Instead we're trillions of dollars in debt, which really does threaten our collective livelihoods.

12/15/2011 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

need to do this in two parts:

As I recall, good old fashioned fiskings were much more entertaining than this, but...sure, let's at it. (nice to see Artblog.com back, btw)
I rephrased my statement about rights, so we'll skip past your 1st comment.
As for your 2nd Winkleman Gallery is a corporation.
Yes, and as such we are subjected to a wide range of regulations that I do NOT hire lawyers to find loopholes for, rail against, or otherwise point to as the cause of my own failings. I live within and compete within them without all the bellyaching we hear constantly from conservatives and libertarians. I wouldn't miss a few if they disappeared, but I have more important things to focus on.
Sure, as long as they're not harming anyone.
That's a bit disingenuous in this context. We're not talking about not running over other people or not stealing their cars. We're talking about corporations with the money to buy politicians, find tax loopholes, force consumers to sign-away class-action lawsuit options, and essentially bury any criticism of their practices that actually do HARM others. You say "No, the little guy gets his day in court." More and more that's simply not true.
Consumers' Right to Sue
I have beliefs, you have an ideology, he/she has an agenda.
ideology noun the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
I am directly referencing the Libertarian Party's published platform. For clarity's sake I'll stick with "ideology" here.
What we oppose is the attempt to use law to protect people from reality.
But that's exactly where you lose me. Because to me, the reality is that without laws that protect the public, the powerful will run right over them. It does the little guy no good to get his day in court against the giant multi-national corporation whose refusal to comply with some naive "first do no harm" wishful thinking led to his children's deaths. His life has been ripped apart. You might consider that "reality." I consider it a moral obligation to do everything we can to prevent it.

Not only are you not disputing my narrative, you're also not disputing that government action in the form of tax codes and government-sponsored enterprises have had perverse consequences on the housing market.
No, I'm not disputing it. I can barely wrap my head around it.

I have done enough research to know the Community Reinvestment Act in no way required banks to make risky loans. I have done enough to know also that there are those who have conclude that the bulk of high-risk loans were offered by lenders who were not even subject to the CRA.

12/15/2011 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

part 2:

In fact, several writers have strongly made the case that it was the Bush Administration's continual weakening of the CRA that caused the problem, like this one in Business Week:

The CRA was at its strongest in the 1990s, under the Clinton administration, a period when subprime loans performed quite well. It was only after the Bush administration cut back on CRA enforcement that problems arose, a timing issue which should stop those blaming the law dead in their tracks.
And then there's this:

Our collective livelihoods were never in any more danger than usual.

The facts seem to disagree with you:

Census Shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income:

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

Happy to see you blame former President Bush (tho’ I do wish you'd refer to him as such), but again, Ron Paul's dream for America made a lot more sense to me in the US of about 200 years ago. It seems woefully unrealistic for today's challenges, despite how many fed-up Americans think it’s worth a try.

12/15/2011 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

For Franklin:
and all other Libertarian Ron Paul supporters

12/19/2011 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

That list alternates between flat-out wrong and beside the point. Fortunately, someone else at Elephant Journal has saved me the trouble of refuting it point by point, and someone else has offered his own somewhat idiosyncratic rebuttal.

12/19/2011 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Wow, "the refuting it point by point" just helped reinforce my decision not to support Ron Paul.
Two BIG issues
Response #2
and Response #3

Regarding #2:
At what point is a person's religious belief so out-of-whack with the demonstrable world that they are harmful to other members of society? Especially if that person were in a position of power? What of earth sciences and research is that irrelevant to him? What about space exploration? Does he get rid of anthropology? Are all those ancient skeletons fakes?

#3, if the value of pristine land were higher than that of quick financial profits at its expense perhaps environmental regulation wouldn't be necessary, but we have a long history of capitalist propaganda teaching us that profit is above all else.

I believe the Earth is flat and burritos rain from the sky; where are my blind followers?

12/19/2011 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

What? How would he "get rid of anthropology"? I don't know how to talk to people who make statements like that.

Back when Obama appointed Steven Chu to Energy Secretary, I thought, good, here's a man of science, my kind of people. Years later, Solyndra imploded, another Bush-initiated, Obama-consummated debacle. Dr. Chu's testimony before Congress about the matter won him three (out of four) Gepettos from Fact Checker at the WaPo, which translates to "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions."

I still prefer science to religion, but thanks to a scientist, the libertarians have yet another textbook example of how the state is guaranteed to misallocate resources by risking other peoples' money (ours!) on politically expedient ventures. As Eric S. Raymond just put it regarding SOPA, "It’s bizarre and entertaining to hear people who yesterday were all about allegedly benign and intelligent government interventions suddenly discovering that in practice, what they get is stupid and vicious legislation that has been captured by a venal and evil interest group. ... How do they avoid noticing that in reality it’s like this all the time?"

Whereas Paul's religion doesn't have this kind of effect on his policy-making because of his adherence to the Constitution. In certain respects I prefer the atheist libertarian candidate (I'm hoping for a combined ticket), but my main concern is that the government has failed in its true responsibilities to the economy - to provide a free market and a sound currency. If the predicted consequences come to pass, you will have nothing to comfort you except your imaginary burritos.

12/20/2011 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Imaginary Burritos!! How dare you insult my religion! If rocks, planets and galaxies can be no older than 6,000 years and golden tablets, burnt people, holy underwear (ala Mitt) exist and Newt can practice cannibalism (transubstantiation) then I can damn well have my burritos rain!

If getting rid of regulation would allow everyone to be better neighbors then lets have Anarchy now. Sad fact is that we are conditioned to exploit, fear the unknown and take advantage of power over others. We need government NOT to protect property, but to protect the poor from abuses of the rich.

12/20/2011 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

"but my main concern is that the government has failed in its true responsibilities to the economy"

The government has no responsibility to the economy, it has a responsibility to, by and for the people.

12/20/2011 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

The government has no responsibility to the economy, it has a responsibility to, by and for the people.

You may be an even bigger libertarian than I am. Its power to coin money is enshrined in the Constitution, although many libertarians think that people should be able to offer private, competing currencies. You're not free to do this, by the way. Someone recently tried, and he was thrown in jail and labeled a terrorist by the Obama administration.

Maintaining a free market also requires a fair and efficient system of courts. Certain libertarians have philosophized about whether you could completely privatize the courts (of which mediation is a limited version) but they reach some distressing conclusions.

But those are the only positive responsibilities it has. Otherwise, you're right - it has no responsibilities to the economy except to refrain from interfering with it, which is a negative responsibility. More broadly, the only proper reason for government is to guarantee rights.

12/21/2011 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

"You may be an even bigger libertarian than I am."
Nope...I'm an Anarchist, at heart anyway, but I realize "WE" are sooo far away from any type of peaceful, respectful freedom that "WE" need laws to work for us. I do agree with you Franklin (well, what I think you're getting at anyway) that the laws seems to be working against us; "US" being the [mythical] little person and not a BIG Corporation or Rich man.

Here's David Frum's take on Ron Paul.

Happy New Year!

1/04/2012 08:59:00 PM  

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