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Image credit. I. In Freedom Limits Liberalism (European, not American meaning of liberalism) I note: Most likely, freedom survives - with or without the support of the classical liberal - because [in] civil society as it has emerged in some 25 countries or so in the last 300 years [...] we have grown accustomed to practice freedom as method as opposed to relying on her in the form of a monolithic and socially predominant political creed. A momentous implication of this is that even if there were only one liberalism possible or extant in reality it would still not be the voice of freedom but one of the voices contending to shape our society and the face of liberty within our social order. We compete with our liberal opponents as well as our non-liberal political rivals to define what liberty means and what impact we may be able to grant her. At the end of the day, the kind of liberty that proves feasible in the real world will be the result of interaction between many parties holding different views as to what liberty means and which elements of her deserve emphasis and support. Liberty as method (see my Freedom as Method) is not only (1) a disposition to check whether our rivals tend to diminish or violate the robust conditions of liberty, i.e. the arrangements, devices, and rights that make for civil society, and (2) an ambition to advertise further, perhaps more specific substantive visions of liberty (for instance a world void of the welfare state), liberty as method requires also that (3) we reflect the tension between our concept of liberty and the latitude that freedom provides for the supporters of alternative views that - in order to uphold the robust conditions of liberty - must be recognised as legitimate (contributions to the process of political competition) even though they deviate from our political ambitions. II. Take the issue of marriage licensing, which a liberal may oppose on the grounds that government is not entitled to establish a valid marital relationship, leaving such power to individuals and the institutions they form under the right to free association--one of the rights that constitute the robust conditions of freedom. Under such a provision one may choose to treat marriage as a holy sacrament to be dispensed by a church--a grand tradition that has been formative of social order for hundreds of years. But even within the Christian tradition, marriage, the features of morally acceptable marital status and behaviour, have left a trail of very different patterns including concubinage, and other arrangements alien to the contemporary Christian. (See Roman Church Pioneer of Liberty and Free Markets.) Asserting the various rights that constitute the robust conditions of liberty, not only does freedom defend the practice of a diversity of faiths and denominations, she also protects the heterodox and unbelievers, who, incidentally, in some important ways are an outcome of communities embracing greater freedom. Like Christians themselves or believers of other confessions of faith, non-Christians subscribe to differing concepts of marriage, including secularised variants in which government may take a significant role, perhaps even entirely ousting ecclesiastical institutions from the authentication of marital status. My point is that while it is perfectly legitimate to champion a Christian understanding of marriage in the Great Western tradition, this can only be done in the context of an open pluralistic competition to which all other exponents of matrimonial concepts are given equal access. Thus, there may be this or that Christian-and-liberal concept of marriage, but there cannot be a certain concept of marriage uniquely implied by freedom. One is not entitled to appeal to freedom as the justifying ground for a certain concept of marriage, but one may appeal to her as the justifying ground to take a certain position on the issue and add political weight to it, i.e. to vie for social acceptance of one's conviction in the matter. Freedom is the framework within which we come to settle - often with considerable latitude - the issue of socially valid features of marriage (and other vitally important social institutions, which is not to deny that marriage may be more than a social institution). Historically, liberalism has been closely tied to the Christian faith; ultimately, however, the Christian liberal impulses have been the pioneer of freedoms which have served to contest and undermine the Christian faith, and establish rival world views equally protected under the robust conditions of freedom. So what freedom accomplishes is the subjection of modern society to something like the analogue of creative destruction in the field of morality and social norms. Freedom defends the rights of our fellows to question what we believe in and persuade the community to tend toward cultural values that conflict with ours. Freedom is also an environment that ensures open access to the political process and conditions furthering peaceful reconciliation for those at strife. Which is why politics and democracy are inextricably built into the blueprint of freedom. See In Defence of Democracy and Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (1/3). III. Freedom has privatised religion. By the same process she has enabled the broader populace to interpret and manage in new ways social institutions once monolithically administered by the ecclesiastical(ly influenced) powers-that-be. The advance of religious freedom has been accompanied by the advance of secular freedoms. In fact, the former could hardly be achieved without giving rise to the latter. People have come to use the worldly technology of government, whose power has grown with freedom, to define and foster social institutions such as marriage. Therefore, it is likely to be very difficult, even impossible, to cut through the manifold ties between marriage and the social technology called the state. Freedom has empowered people to revolt against oppression by religious authority or at least experience the possibilities of dissent and alternative approaches. Freedom has privatised religion. Next to the great Christian tradition, freedom has placed a... Continue reading
Posted 8 minutes ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Materially and economically, our culture is made possible by entrepreneurship, yet ideologically our culture is dominated by disdain or at least negligent regard for the entrepreneur. Materially and economically, our culture is made possible by oil, yet ideologically our culture is dominated by disdain or at least negligent regard for oil - try and find an image in the Internet with a positive message concerning oil. I am not sure which impresses me more, the enormity of the daring deception at hand, or the thrilling suspicion that our political order is remarkably good at having people let off steam by engaging in cheap talk, while the scapegoat - here the oil economy - is left alone in sufficient measure to do its job, despite its misrepresentation in the political discourse. I suppose, by a lot of rent-seeking and other forms of political competition, it is possible to achieve in many vital areas of human survival a roughly workable equilibrium between figment and reality, even for extended periods of time. It may well be that we are facing a precarious balance between the (widely unacknowledged) costs of ideology and the benefits of realism and reality, but humankind always depends on both, myths and facts. Every culture is based on the most preposterous assumptions that will be gradually revealed in their delusion, and every culture survives only by avoiding too hard a bumping into the limits of reality. Can it be possible that the marginal cost of producing oil was $110 per barrel in June 2014 and is only $50 per barrel in January 2015? Yes. Here is how: in the first half of June 2014 oil consumption was very high relative to the then-existing world oil production capability. In addition, existing oil production capability is always declining as producing fields deplete. The marginal cost of a barrel of oil under such tight market conditions has to cover the capital cost of developing new resources as well as the operating costs. Toward the end of 2014 additions to world oil production capability exceeded growth in consumption, meaning additions to production capability were no longer necessary, meaning the marginal cost of producing the last barrel of oil no longer needed to cover that capital cost. Sure, some oil company somewhere had to make the capital investment necessary to develop the resource, but most of those costs are sunk and competition in the market means they cannot make some consumer cover those costs. The market price under today’s looser market conditions only needs to cover the operating costs of production. The source. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. I use the term liberalism to refer to political schools that like classical liberalism, libertarianism, and anarcho-capitalism, do not or hesitate to recognise that freedom is of necessity productive of a highly politicised society. Only a narrow view of liberalism creates the impression of a monolithic ideology as the one true faith. Liberalism is not a voice, but a many-voiced choir within a much larger choir of innumerable choirs, all of which are legiitimate particpants in the process of political competition, unless ... Well, see below: Freedom is ultimately a political phenomenon, for she is uniquely characterised by the possibility of political participation by every citizen who chooses to take part in politics. (For special cases like Hong Kong, see section 1 here.) (1) The Pluralist Proviso and the Limits of Liberalism Any citizen is entitled to participate in the political competition of a free society, with the exception of those who undermine this pluralistic condition of liberty ("the pluralist proviso"). In an open society, a communist is perfectly entitled to join the political race, but he is not allowed to hinder others from participating in that race or obstruct or even abolish open political competition. This being so, liberalism faces natural limits to its ambitions. And these limits are set by liberty herself. Liberals will tend to condone a set of policies that is only partially, perhaps even hardly congruent with the set of policies approved by other partisans equally entitled to pursue their policy variants under the pluralist proviso. If a party B campaigns under the slogan "no welfare state," whereas another, ultimately victorious party A promises to introduce the welfare state, A is perfectly entitled to implement her campaign promise, as long as A does not violate the pluralist proviso. This is a fundamental and unalienable requirement of freedom. Non-liberals tend to dominate the corridors of political power for at least two reasons: (2) Freedom Demands, Enables, and Protects Political Action The pluralistic proviso, i.e. freedom herself, admits far more political action than is palatable to the classical liberal. Within that margin people will try out all sorts of policies rejected by the classical liberal. In this manner, not only will they discover popular and successful arrangements, but they will also create a delta of path dependency in such a way that soon novel political action will be genuinely needed to react upon past political action. The simple fact of the matter is that the number of people expecting politics to take action is larger than the number of people who reject such action on classical liberal grounds. So the experimental work of politics will be dominated by non-liberals. They will tend to build the political order, the infrastructure of political participation that freedom demands and protects. Sure enough, there are policies that are blatant dangers to freedom, but it simply is not true that all or even most of the policies not condoned by liberals are in that class. Furthermore, (a) the political system has safety arrangements to deal with severely malignant policies, (b) notably a robust pluralism, and, not least, (c) there is freedom's corridor of success, which is difficult to leave once the institutions of liberty have taken root: (3) Freedom as Method and Mean Reversion toward Liberty Most likely, freedom survives - with or without the support of the classical liberal - because civil society as it has emerged in some 25 countries or so in the last 300 years is (a) hardwired to grow around the rough contours of freedom, and (b) in an open society we have grown accustomed to practice freedom as method as opposed to relying on her in the form of a monolithic and socially predominant political creed. [C]apitalism-and-freedom survive because they work so much better than anything else. Sooner or later, people find out about it, adapt to this condition, and avoid the pain that afflicts them when they move away too far from robust conditions of freedom. In this way, we travel within a corridor of success whose middle lane may be thought of as its most workable and efficacious part. The farther you veer away from the center section, the more the deviation begins to hurt - and people tend to return to the middle, as the Germans's did after 1945. The source. Liberalism, as I absorb it into my world view, is not a doctrine whose adepts know all the answers to everything, including a perfect blueprint of the way the world should be. My liberalism is perhaps best described as the application of Sir Karl Popper's critical method to societal affairs. My liberalism is thus rather a way of questioning and probing into claims of how society works or should be run. My liberalism is a method by which we test policy proposals by investigating their remoter consequences. The more people revert to such testing, the better the outcome, that is: the lesser the damage from zealotry, myopia, and superficiality. Related articles Freedom as Method How Law Changes - The Forgotten History of Jaywalking A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (2/3) Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. "Liberty as method" is a catchword that I have come to use in the course of my studies of liberty; it is meant to signify the fact that those conscious of liberty must compete with many other ideologies, and that to the extent that liberal pluralism admits of rival political views and policies, and their (relative) dominance in government and real life, liberty may still have a decisive role to play as a method of questioning and challenging these rival political beliefs, and thus still be a very influential part of reality, though not overly visible. For example: to the extent that the classical liberal system of law is being honoured in everyday legal practice, liberty may be rather strongly enmeshed in the goings-on of our society, even though classical liberals may not be very prominent politically ("the paradox of freedom"). Yet, liberty is present as method - and in this way she may be a very important corrective and guarantor of "robust conditions of freedom" - which do not bring about an ideal world of freedom, but still one with substantial liberty in place. Freedom as method may also be an important early warning system, when society is deviating too strongly from the legal requirements ("robust conditions") of freedom. In arguing this way, my concern is to encourage a more willing participation, intellectually and practically, of those conscious of liberty in politics and the state, so as to be able to advertise and defend freedom not only by denouncing politics and staying away from it, but by taking part in it, learning from it, discovering freedom and her conditions in it. See also The Corridor of Success and A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (1/3). Related articles A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (1/3) Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. The Coyote on the left's fishy dollars: The Left spends a lot of time railing against the rich and large corporations. But in practice, they seem hell-bent on lining the pockets of exactly these groups. Today the ECB announces a one trillion plus euro government buyback of public and private securities. Between Japan, the US, and now Europe, the world's central banks are printing money like crazy to inflate securities values around the world -- debt securities directly by buying them but indirectly a lot of the money spills over into stocks as well. This has been a huge windfall for people whose income mostly comes from capital gains (i.e. rich people) and institutions that have access to bond and equity markets (i.e. large corporations). You can see the effects in the skyrocketing income inequality numbers over the last 6 years. On the other end, as a small business person, you sure can't see any difference in my access or cost of capital. It is still just as impossible to get a cash flow loan as it always was. The source. Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Here is the transcript of Senator Ebke's first speech on the floor of the Nebraska legislature, which she gave during the Rules debate on Thursday, January 15th. For a video clip of the speech, go to the bottom of the post: The chair recognises Senator Ebke. Thank you, Mr. President. I rise today in support of Senator Kintner's proposed amendment to the rules. As a lifelong Nebraskan, I remember actually coming to this great building on an elementary school field trip, and I remember the semester of 8th grade Nebraska history that we took. I remember the great stories about George Norris, and I remember how we were told about how we are the only unicameral legislature in the country, and that our unicameral works because the people are the second house. Mr. President, unlike other legislatures, there is no other body across the hall that can provide a counterweight to our mistakes or simply our impulses. Our counterweight are the citizens who sent us here -- and they deserve to know how we vote, on everything, including those leadership votes. Because, even though this is only my seventh day in this august body, it is clear to me that those we elect as leaders have a lot to do with how the legislation moves through the body. I understand the impulse for maintaining secret ballots. It's a very human impulse. Most of us don't like to hurt others' feelings, and we operate under the expectation that a ballot cast in secret amounts to the avoidance of hurting those feelings. But we are all adults here. And we owe each other honesty, more than we owe them a promise of comfort. We are all elected to serve the people of our districts, and we owe our constituents transparency in our actions so that they can hold us accountable, or maybe even occasionally they will pad us on the back. The second house cannot do its job if we cast secret ballots. I ran on a promise of transparency. I told the voters in my district that I would post every vote on social media -- and I did that before anybody was running against me -- whether I had a Republican or a Democrat running against me. That was part of the deal. I was going to be as transparent as possible. And I have posted all of those votes, including the leadership votes that I made, last week on social media. I told voters that they might not always agree with my decisions, but I would listen to them, consider their positions, and tell them why I voted the way I did. I have enough confidence in the people of the 32nd legislative district to believe that they will judge me fairly, should I decide to run for reelection in four years. I hope that my colleagues trust their constituents as well, and will vote to support the amendment, and vote for more transparency. Thank you, Mr. President. In the below video, Senator Kintner outlines the spirit of the proposed amendment: In the below video Senator Ebke's first floor speech (transcribed above) is recorded, beginning at time mark 05:45. See also Secret Votes and The Swearing-In of Senator Laura Ebke, including lots of links tracing her campaign, ultimate victory, and first days as Senator-elect. Related articles Secret Votes in Nebraska Legislature Secret Votes A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (1/3) Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. There was a time when the law actually supported jaywalking. "Before formal traffic laws were put in place, judges typically ruled that in any collision, the larger vehicle — that is, the car — was to blame. In most pedestrian deaths, drivers were charged with manslaughter regardless of the circumstances of the accident." For more, see the article referenced below. I. Americans never walk, never leave their cars to get from A to B. This is a stereotype of American life that seems to be shared by many of my compatriots. To the limited extent the impression is true, it may have to do with the fact that America is just so much larger than crammed Germany, so it simply makes sense to drive to places, to where in Germany one might walk. Be this as it may. There used to be a time when walking was much more popular in America, by default. In the days when automobiles were only starting to become a prominent feature of everyday life. A lot has changed since then, including the (traffic) law, whose evolution I see as an instance of building a new public good adapted to a world that is beginning to cope with mass automobile transportation. In Germany, and many other second mover or latecomer countries, we have benefited greatly by the pioneering experience of America, helping us save many lives and avoid other "teething troubles." Private car ownership would become a mass phenomenon in Germany only after the Second World War, when the last major obstacle was removed: an inordinately high motor vehicle tax -- cars having previously been paternalistically classed as "toys for the rich." II. Here is a fascinating account of the forgotten history of jaywalking. To me, it shows how historical and public forces come to exert influence on the contents of the law. This is part of our culture of pluralism and democracy, which ultimately sustains a free society. It is part of the project that I call "improving government" - the duplex effort to improve government (i.e. making it interfere only where it should) and make government improve our lives. See more on traffic law and freedom in section 3 of Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse ... (1/3). When the term "jaywalking" came to be used ever more widely the word "jay" meant something like "rube" or "hick" — a person from the sticks, who didn't know how to behave in a city. So pro-auto groups promoted use of the word "jay walker" as someone who didn't know how to walk in a city, threatening public safety. At first, the term was seen as offensive, even shocking. Pedestrians fired back, calling dangerous driving "jay driving." But jaywalking caught on (and eventually became one word). Safety organizations and police began using it formally, in safety announcements. The source. I try to convince people of any political description who take a jaundiced view of politics that we need politics and the state to improve our lives and continue to live in a free and open society. It is not good enough to focus exclusively on the dark side of politics; if you lack the knowledge of the good brought about by politics, the state, and the law, you will not be willing to face the tough challenges of the legislator etc. who defends our free and open society. A world dominated by political cynics is a world in danger and decline. Tracing the good in politics is just as important as denouncing the bad in it. Related articles A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (2/3) Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Stunning. Image credit. Lovely glimpses, and a fine tune that took me twice to listen to before I suddenly liked it -- very much. Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. I find it difficult to appreciate the arguments presented in favour of a continued regime of secret votes for assorted leadership positions in the Nebraska legislature. Senator Ebke refers us on her facebook page to a short synoptic article on the issue which I recommend to read in its entirety. 1. From this article I gather the following argument against dropping secret votes: Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley said he is concerned that open votes would encourage partisanship in the officially nonpartisan Legislature. The GOP already tries to pressure members into voting only for Republican candidates for committee chairmanships. Who has the majority of votes in the legislature - the GOP? If so, why then do they not vote by the majority for an open ballot, if inordinate partisan pressure is their desire? Are Democrats, in different legislatures and other significant political contexts, free from partisan bias? I would argue, it is their right to exercise such a bias, while they are well advised to see to it that they do not overdo it, lest the public punishes them for it, or politicians highly concerned with inordinate partisanship leave the Democratic party, join another (less partisan) party or become genuinely independent. If you get involved in politics it is hard not be affected by and participate in partsianship. Indeed, if we did not disagree in vital matters, we would have no need for politics. Politics is ultimately about partisanship (not necessarily along party lines, but concerning contested issues). In the final analysis, good politics is about dealing well with partisan conflicts. The electorate should have an opportunity to know where their candidates are positioned in the contentious business of state politics, and an open ballot will be helpful to that purpose. It is for the informed electorate to decide whether politicians have been acting in an unduly partisan manner. 2. State Senator Tommy Garrett noted that voters cast secret ballots in elections. Secret ballots in elections are resorted to so as to make sure the voter can vote any way she pleases without having to face undue pressure, precisely the opposite reason why we want legislators to vote openly. Secret ballots are not resorted to for electing the voters to hold an office, let alone an accountable public office. By contrast, open ballots of the kind demanded have the function to ensure accountability by those who are seeeking or holding positions associated with a promise and a duty to be accountable to the electorate. Related articles Secret Votes in Nebraska Legislature WeVote Keystone XL - Pro and Con Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. I'm sure there's a law against this (see video). I'm only half-joking, but I do wonder how hard it is for legislators to get rid of a law. Is it easier to establish a new law than to void an existing one? It's against the law of correct head-line spelling to write "It's Against the Law" - as "against" is a preposition and thus not be capitalised, I would have thought. But, I can't help it, the wrong thing looks overwhelmingly right. Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. More good stuff from Senator Laura Ebke's facebook page. Thanks, Senator, for drawing our attention to WeVote. Indeed, let us use modern digital technology to make government better. Explains Senator Ebke [T]he WeVoteProject was created by a number of young folks, as a non-partisan project, designed to bring people closer to their representatives, and to allow them to interact with other citizens, as well as their government. It allows you to log in using whatever email you choose (or via Facebook login), and then you can "verify" your status as a voter in a particular legislative district, follow what your legislator and others are up to, follow particular bills, and even "vote" on those bills. I encourage you to check it out. I'm attached to the system as a legislator, and will check in from time to time to see what people are interested in WeVote strikes me as an experiment with an upside, and presumably a downside, too. I see it as an opportunity for us voters to become more capable and more responsible principals in the political process, rather than passive consumers of politics. If we wish politicians to perform well, it is indispensable that we make our contributions to a workable operating environment for them - for instance, in the form of articulating our concerns in ways more informative than mere sloganeering. WeVote might make us experience what politicians experience constantly - the need and difficulty to shape common concerns responsibly in the face of variety of emphasis or outright disagreement. Related articles The Swearing-In of Senator Laura Ebke Secret Votes in Nebraska Legislature A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (2/3) Improving Government Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Justin Amash explains his pro-Keystone vote: I voted present on H R 3, Northern Route Approval Act. The Keystone XL pipeline is a private project owned by TransCanada Corporation. This bill improperly exempts TransCanada Corporation—and no other company—from laws that require pipeline owners and operators to obtain certain government permits and approvals. I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and holding it up for over four years (with no end in sight) for political reasons is wrong. It's improper, however, for Congress to write a bill that names and benefits one private project, while doing nothing to address the underlying problems that allowed such delays to occur. The Constitution gives Congress the power "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations," but the Rule of Law requires that legislation be of general, not specific, applicability. A proper bill would address the circumstances that allow *any* such project to be held up for political reasons, not just Keystone XL. Read the entire declaration at the source. The source. I was reluctant to publish the below clip portraying the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska, as I am in no position to know what the involved parties especially WWF stand for politically, and whether I like their position concerning this issue or not. But having declared my initial agnosticism, my genuine interest in this fascinating area of Nebraska and my desire to gradually understand the issue more fully, I feel I can publish the clip without giving the impression of partisanship. If anything, I begin to understand , how little I know about Keystone XL. At any rate, the film gives you a sense of what a great place Nebraska is. See also Keystone (2/2), Keystone (1/2), and Is There Anything Behind the Delay of the TransCanada Pipeline? Keystone certainly represents an interesting case in terms of studying how people try (or fail) to define and establish the public interest - a topic that preoccupies me at the moment. UPDATE: Keystone Pipeline Pros, Cons, Stes to a Final Decision, Keystone XL Pipeline Facts ..., State Department ..., New Report ..., Keystone XL ..., these are some of the summaries of the pros and cons I have skimmed so far. First impressions: Remarkably, much of the (national) debate over Keystone XL entirely ignores locally Nebraskan concerns, focussing amongst other things on world climate or US energy independence. The environmental arguments, even the ones referring to local issues, do not convince me of the presence of dimensions of danger that merit a calling-off of the project. In a country criss-crossed by pipelines that never have brought about serious environmental damage, I see no reason why we should not expect further progress and wholesome business in that field. So far I seem to be looking at the customary pattern: The environmentalist is typically ignoring risk-return trade-offs (because her hidden agenda is full of absolutes in the form of unsubstantiated foregone conclusions), feeling victorious in an argument simply by stating "x could happen," usually without offering facts to back up the concrete and reasonably substantiated processes, proportions and consequences of the presaged events of impairment. Of course, I am open to new insights and better arguments. Where I am still pretty much in the dark is the entire vast and complicated subject-matter of eminent domain, whose careful study - especially of the laws and legal practices in Nebraska - will probably take care at least of the frivolous claims of crony capitalism that are so easily bandied about. The way the project has been dealt with so far does not exactly suggest that a certain company is "wagging" government. Of course, I am open to new insights and better arguments. But the eminent domain issue may well contain very weighty and knotty problems - many of which may not be visible to the national eye, but only to him who studies the local circumstances carefully. More generally, consider that in the case of Keystone XL a private economic decsion may turn into one of high public relevance - or would you be willing to apply eminent domain in favour of a project that according to your calculations is not viable? Tricky. What worries me far more than the prospect of TransCanada "wagging" the governments of Nebraska and the USA is that the likelihood of destroying a project like Keystone by slander, crucible-type of malice and political obstructionism is as high as it is, presenting a massive handicap that stands in the way of getting a complex business project properly accomplished, thanks to a massive nationwide industry geared towards stopping projects like Keystone as an absolute aim in its own right, the majority of whose vast constituency being not fact-driven but entranced with a false faith. In an awkward way, is it not a case of abuse of eminent domain, when a local project gets effectively prohibited by a national audience driven by an agenda not shared by those most affected by such remote interference? Of course, I am open to new insights and better arguments. Related articles Nebraska Supreme Court Backs Keystone XL Pipeline Route Justin Amash Explains Keystone XL Vote, Shows Why He Should Be CLONED Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. A new development since Keystone (1/2): Despite the promise of a veto from President Obama, House Republicans approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday with the help of 28 Democrats. The vote came just hours after the Nebraska Supreme Court delivered a blow to the White House and pipeline opponents by dismissing a challenge to its construction. The pipeline has been in limbo for the past six years and has become a political football in campaigns and on Capitol Hill. The Senate is expected to take up Keystone legislation on Monday, and several moderate Democrats have already signed on, almost ensuring passage. But the president will reject the bill, arguing to let the process play out at the State Department. The House bill passed, 266-153, but fell short of the number required to override a presidential veto, with 10 members not voting. So far, the Senate also appears short of the votes needed to move past the president. The source. Say, the federal powers-that-be finally okay the project, is there any chance that it will be stopped by parties inside Nebraska? The political complexity of the project must be enormous. There is already a Keystone pipeline running through Nebraska? I never heard complaints about it. In terms of acceptance, what is it the old pipeline has that the new one is lacking? Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Following up on Pot(ty) - Or (K)Not(ty)? - (1/2), I find this article by Jacob Sullum instructive: Last week seven Republican members of Oklahoma’s legislature, including five of the most conservative, publicly criticized that state’s Republican attorney general, Scott Pruitt, for trying to reverse marijuana legalization in Colorado. “Oklahoma has been a pioneer and a leader in standing up to federal usurpations of power on everything from gun control to Obamacare,” they wrote in a letter to Pruitt, who last month joined Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Colorado from regulating marijuana businesses. “We believe this lawsuit against our sister state has the potential, if it were to be successful at the Supreme Court, to undermine all of those efforts to protect our own state’s right to govern itself under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” The letter, spearheaded by state Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow), was a striking illustration of the split that the ongoing collapse of marijuana prohibition has created among Republicans, pitting their anti-pot prejudices against their avowed devotion to federalism. For Ritze, the choice was clear. “This is not about marijuana at its core,” he said in a press release. “It is about the U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, and the right of states to govern themselves as they see fit. If the Supreme Court can force Colorado to criminalize a substance or activity and commandeer state resources to enforce extra-constitutional federal statutes and UN agreements, then it can essentially do anything, and states become mere administrative units for Washington, D.C….If the people of Colorado want to end prohibition of marijuana, while I may personally disagree with the decision, constitutionally speaking, they are entitled to do so.” Pruitt and Bruning, by contrast, elevated their antipathy to marijuana above their fealty to the Constitution. “It is curious—and disappointing—to see a suit like this filed by two states that have taken the lead in defending state prerogatives in other policy areas,” writes Case Western University law professor Jonathan Adler at The Volokh Conspiracy. “It is as if their arguments about federalism and state autonomy were not arguments of principle but rather an opportunistic effort to challenge federal policies they don’t like on other grounds. It makes Oklahoma and Nebraska look like fair-weather federalists.” Read the entire piece at the source. Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Ultimately, what Senator Laura Ebke and her colleagues at the Nebraska legislature are endeavouring to bring about can be expressed in two words: improved government. Either by (1) having government do what it is better at doing than non-government actors--which watchful task includes amongst other things the decommissioning of governmental services and the barring of unwholesome state interference. Or by (2) ensuring that government does what it is supposed to do in the best possible way. I believe that government does do us a lot of good, and that the efforts of Senator Ebke and her colleagues are utterly important to make sure that government is an improver of our lives. For all of those who doubt that (a) government can be an improver or that (b) government can be improved, and for those who (a) believe in the possibility of improving government and (b) consider it their calling or duty to improve government, I urgently recommend reading Matt Ridley's fascinating piece on government digital service in Great Britain which is not just trying to make government services online as easy as shopping at Amazon or booking an airline ticket. It is also reshaping the way the public sector does big IT projects to make sure cost and time overruns are history. What Mr Bracken calls the “waterfall” approach to such big projects in the past consisted of “writing most when you know least”. The people in charge wrote enormous documents to try to specify the comprehensive requirements of the end users, did not change them as technology changed and issued vast, long and lucrative contracts to big companies. Instead, Mr Maude and Mr Bracken are teaching the civil service to start small, fail fast, get feedback from users early and evolve the thing as you go along. So those designing an online service begin with a discovery phase, lasting six to 12 weeks, then build an “alpha” prototype of a working software service in less than three months, followed by commissioning a private “beta”, to be used by a private audience of specialist users. Only once rigorously tested is this opened up to the public, sometimes in a controlled way. And only later is the old service turned off. This is exactly the sort of recipe for success championed by the economist Tim Harford in his book Adapt. Harford pointed out that whether pacifying Iraq, designing an aircraft or writing a Broadway musical, those who succeed allow for plenty of low-cost trial and error and incremental change. It’s the mechanism Charles Darwin discovered that Mother Nature uses. Rather than a grand “creationist” plan or a big leap, natural selection incrementally discovers success through trial and failure. From the English language to an airliner, everything successful has emerged by small steps. The successful IT systems we all use, from Facebook to BBC News, were all built this way. Yet government kept trying to do things by grand plan. The history of information technology explains how we went wrong. In the beginning all things related to the web, in public and private sectors, became the property of the high priests in the IT department, as the only people who understood the technology. They thought mainly of the needs of producers of content, rather than users. Much of the private sector wrestled digital content out of the hands of the IT department long ago, but in much of Whitehall that’s where it still lay until recently. Mr Bracken and his lieutenants have turned Whitehall upside down, collapsing the profession of chief information officer (head of IT) altogether. Do make sure to read the entire fascinating account - at the source. Image credit. Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. UPDATE: A great experience, watching live the swearing-in of the new senators at 10:29 local time. Personally, at times it was a matter of accelerating heartbeat followed by goose-pimples, a sense of gratitude and admiration for what Laura and her supporters have achieved by conviction and hard work. Laura Ebke, initially seated next to her husband, was sitting in the front bench, in a beautiful blue-and-black dress. Later the family members repaired to the sides of the unicameral hall, when a long series of votings was about to commence. In the most civil manner, Senator Kintner raised the issue of secret voting. In the meantime, Senator Laura Ebke reports live on her facebook page: So far, we've voted in 4 contested elections for leadership, using a secret ballot. My votes were for Sen. Coash for Speaker, Sen. Bloomfield for Exec. Chair, Sen. Watermeier for Exec. Vice Chair, and Sen. Brasch for Ag Committee Chair. Only Sen. Watermeier's candidacy was successful. I would note, that these votes were all difficult, as all those running are fine people. The source. END of UPDATE ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A proud and happy moment for all of us supporters of Laura Ebke. Watch the swearing-in of Senator Laura Ebke at 10 a.m. (Central Time) on Wednesday, January 7. It’s live-streamed here. Watch a little longer, and you’ll see what opening day looks like. See also Go, Laura, Go, Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled, Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th - Laura Ebke, Meet Laura Ebke, Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch, 24 Hours till the Polls Open - Laura Ebke for Legislature, Laura Ebke for Nebraska State Legislature, Dist. 32, Update: Vote Laura Ebke - Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Laura Ebke - Crossing the Finishing Line, I Voted for Laura Ebke, Congratulations - Senator Laura Ebke, and On the Importance of Politics. Related articles Passing Thoughts as We Turn a Page. A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (2/3) Secret Votes in Nebraska Legislature Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Books can tell you a lot about how to do well on the open sea; nevertheless, to be on the high seas is an experience in its own right, and it will teach you a lot that the books do not convey. I suppose, the same is true for a legislator setting sail. For all the knowledge we may have, in order for our convictions to find a place in reality, some of us need to get seaborne legislators. Writes Senator-elect Laura Ebke: Article III, Section 11 of the Nebraska Constitution suggests that votes shall all be open and public, "except when the business shall be such as ought to be kept secret." I guess the question is this: should votes for leadership positions [within the Nebraska Legislature, G.T.] be kept secret? The source. George Norris, the man behind the uniquely Nebraskan one-house, non-partisan legislature, explains the spirit behind the unicameral structure: "Every act of the legislature and every act of each individual must be transacted in the spotlight of publicity." In her efforts at defending this fundamental legislative proposition, Senator(-elect) Laura Ebke appears to receive support from Creighton University Law Professor Pat Borchers - writes the Nebraskan watchdog: If calls for “transparency” aren’t enough to stop a series of secret votes in the Nebraska Legislature—and apparently they’re not—how about trying the First Amendment on for size. According to Creighton University Law Professor Pat Borchers, the secret votes interfere with freedom of the press. Borchers—his name’s been tossed around as a possible GOP candidate for Congress in 2016—argues keeping citizens informed is a “fundamental right” that can only be skirted if the government can prove a “compelling interest.” “I deny no elected representative the right to vote his or her conscience. But the right to do that without having to explain it publicly and out of the view of the press is hardly compelling. If, in the judgment of a voting Senator, the best qualified Senator to lead a committee is from the other party (or is independent) I want to know why, so that I can be an informed voter at the next election.—Pat Borchers The source. Senator(-elect) Laura Ebke explains her position on her facebook page: I believe that--in the spirit of George Norris--a Unicameral legislature can only work to the advantage of the people if the people serve as the "second house," just as the U.S. Senate provides a counterweight to the House (and vice versa), and how two house legislatures in all 49 other states work. Forty-nine state senators were not, I don't believe, intended to be the "only word." The assumption of Norris was that an engaged citizenry would provide the necessary checks and balances to legislative overreach. Nebraska's legislature records and makes available just about everything--transcripts, etc.--although it is cumbersome, sometimes difficult to access, and generally gives us a poor rating on some transparency report cards (http://openstates.org/reportcard/). While most of what the legislature does officially is not "secret" and is accessible, it seems to me that the cumbersome nature of access, when combined with secret ballots for some leadership positions, gives us the appearance of non-transparency, even if it's not entirely true. The Speaker and the Committee Chair positions are critical to the success or failure of some legislation. The Chairs schedule hearing times for legislation, and while all proposed bills are entitled to a hearing, delays in scheduling those hearings can impact whether bills will be considered after hearing for debate by the full body. Likewise, the Speaker is essentially the Chief Administrative Officer off the Legislature, and is responsible for the scheduling of legislation on the floor. Some have suggested that the talk of eliminating the secret ballot is politically motivated by partisan politics--that because (in the officially non-partisan legislature) Republican ostensibly hold a significant majority of the seats, that leadership positions ought to reflect those percentages (at least), however in the 103rd Legislature, Democrats held a significant majority of the Committee Chairs. I can understand how some might think that, however for myself, it comes down to the points that I made in #1 above, namely, that transparency is critical. Whether Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians or Socialists hold a majority in our non-partisan legislature is not the relevant point; the relevant point is whether the second house is entitled to know who their representatives are voting for. I believe that the people have a right to know how I vote. In the case of the Speaker's race, and at least one of the Standing Committee Chair races, I believe that both candidates vying for the positions are registered Republicans. In other races, there are only registered Democrats running. In a few, there may be a Republican vying against a Democrat. My votes are relevant to all, but especially those in my district, who have every right to expect for me to be public in my voting, and to explain my vote. Although I'm a registered Republican, I have no problem with voting for a Democrat for a leadership position--but what I need to be able to do, no matter who I vote for, is to defend my vote. I need to be willing to explain why I voted for a particular candidate over the other--and more importantly, my constituents ought to be able to hold me accountable for that vote if my choice turns out to be a bad one. I understand the impulse toward secret ballots. There are 48 other state legislators who I will be working with, some of whom I'll become friends with, most of whom I'll need votes from at some point in time--a secret ballot for leadership positions provides enough margin of doubt so that others really never *know* whether you've voted FOR them or AGAINST them (FOR someone else). We are conditioned not to want to hurt the feelings of others, and so we somehow think think that secret ballots absolve us of that. But secret ballots also relieve those of us... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at RedStateEclectic
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The phrase used in German to wish A Happy New Year is Einen guten Rutsch (engl. pronounciation: rootch) und ein Frohes Neues Jahr. The last part is unsurprsising--it literally means a Happy New Year, but what about the guten Rutsch? I have always taken it for granted that "ein guter Rutsch" refers to sliding ("rutschen"), as on snow and ice, into the new year - so what it seems to mean is "have a good slide into the new year. But now I am being told that rosch is a Hebrew term meaning beginning or head. German jews used to wish each other "einen guten Rosch" - a good start into the new year, while those illiterate in Hebrew took the suggestive sound over into their language as a jolly way of wishing their fellows a Happy New Year. Be that as it may, to all readers and particpants of RedStateEcletic felix sit annus novus, šťastný nový rok 新年快乐 bonne année Καλή Χρονιά nav varsh ki subhkamna felice anno nuovo あけまして おめでとう ございます godt nytår gelukkig nieuwjaar e gudd neit Joër szczęśliwego no... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. In A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (1/3), we concluded by quoting Oakeshott's dictum that freedom is the absence from our society of overwhelming concentrations of power. The author goes on to explain: This is the most general condition , so general that all other conditions may be seen to be comprised within it. It appears, first, in a diffusion of authority between past, present and future. Our society is ruled by none of these exclusively. And we should consider a society governed wholly by its past, or its present, or its future to suffer under a despotism of superstition which forbids freedom. The politics of our society are a conversation in which past, present and future each has a voice; and though one or another of them may on occasion properly prevail, none permanently dominates, and on this account we are free. Further, with us power is dispersed among all the multitude of interests and organizations of interest which comprise our society. We do not fear or seek to suppress diversity of interest, but we consider our freedom to be imperfect so long as the dispersal of power among them is incomplete, and to be threatened if any one interest or combination of interests, even though it may be the interest of a majority, acquires extraordinary power. Similarly, the conduct of government in our society involves a sharing of power, not only between the recognized organs of government, but also between the Administration and the Opposition. In short, we consider ourselves to be free because no one in our society is allowed unlimited power-no leader, faction, party or "class", no majority, no government, church, corporation, trade or professional association or trade union. The secret of its freedom is that it is composed od a multitude of organizations in the constitution of the best of which is reproduced that diffusion of power which is characteristic of the whole. From The Political Economy of Freedom, in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, pp.388/389 We must be able to grant our political opponents and the indifferent respect and freedom, debate and deal otherwise with them peacefully and in constructive fashion, and we must be on the guard to ensure that the essential dispersal of interests and power is kept in a state of reasonable balancedness. This is the joint task of the citizens as agents and consumers of politics, and the specialists in our societal division of labour that we call politicians. Just as much as we may demand of our politicians to be responsible and honest, our politicians are entitled to expect of us to be cognizant of the difficult challenges they are grappling with on our behalf. As I wrote in the below comment on Keystone: I think, it is important for the responsible citizen to realise that there are genuine dilemmas out there, that we need our political representatives to handle them as best as is possible, that the unresolved disagreements are not the result of the machinations of evil politicians, and that we need brave and honest politicians to help maintain trust in a community faced with disruptive and devise issues. A politician who gives her best to be approachable and transparent – to which there are natural limits – deserves, and indeed requires an active effort on the part of us citizens to understand the dilemmas and prospects of imperfect and less than satisfactory solutions inherent in her job. We should respect her for doing a job that absolutely needs to be done but that most of us are not prepared to do. As principals and consumers of politics, we have responsibilities, too, which include fairness and regardfulness vis-à-vis our political representatives. Related articles Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (1/3) Preferring Smith 80% of World's Worst Poverty Eradicated in Less Than 40 Years Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Eventually, we are getting a snowy winter over here in Europe. So, get the sleighs out and enjoy winter wonderland. The last weeks have been busy and exhausting, yet successful and satisfying; in the new year, I hope to further complete my ideas on a culture of freedom, placing special emphasis on law and legislation, not least in honour of the blog's host, Laura Ebke, who is about to take up her senatorial duties in the Nebraska legislature, at the start of the new year 2015. More and more, I tend to think of freedom as a complex and dynamic experimental pattern in which economic, political, and legal structures and traditions interact and vie with one another, enabling us to pursue our own projects and compete with one another to form civil society, an order in which no one social force is allowed to attain supremacy over the other free players. As Michael Oakeshott writes: What, then, are the characteristics of our society in respect of which we consider ourselves to enjoy freedom and in default of which we would not be free in our sense of the word? But first, it must be observed that the freedom we enjoy is not composed of a number of independent characteristics of our society which in aggregate make up our liberty. Liberties, it is true, may be distinguished, and some may be more general or more settled and mature than others, but the freedom which the English libertarian knows and values lies in a coherence of mutually supporting liberties, each of which amplifies the whole and none of which stands alone. It springs neither from the separation of church and state, nor from the rule of law, nor from private property, nor from parliamentary government, nor from the writ of habeas corpus, nor from the independence of the judiciary, nor from any one of the many thousand other devices and arrangements characteristic of our society, but from what each signifies and repreents, namely, the absence from our society of overwhelming concentrations of power. From The Political Economy of Freedom, in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, p.388 Political engagement and facing responsibly the tough job of the politician are of the essence if the fragile balance of liberty is to be maintained. Continued in A Culture of Freedom - Oakeshott on Liberty (2/3) See also Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse ... (1/3). Related articles Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (2/3) Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (3/3) Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Sadly, for many people political committment comes with an emotional attachment to bad, yet false news. Moreover, it apppears that some of them are more invested in their accustomed outrage than in the discovery of altered facts, let alone signs of relief and improvement. I have enlarged on observations to this effect in my recent post 80% of World's Worst Poverty Eradicted in Less Than Forty Years, and in last years Christmas post Goodbye to Anger - A Christmas Message to Libertarians. The Coyote has a readable piece on the catastrophic global population explosion that fortunately is not happening, while false Mathusian claims keep being somehow important to believe in for many people. I wish, we developed a habit of putting gifts under the Christmas tree that contain wonderful news we used not to be aware of. Reminding us of the happy facts, while at the same time discussing Dan Brown's bestseller "Inferno," the Coyote notes: There is absolutely no trend towards out of control population growth. In fact, the trends actually run in the opposite direction, with birth rates and population growth rates falling such that most demographers foresee an Earth stabilizing around 9-10 billion people and possibly falling in population after that. [...] First, population growth rates have been falling for decades and will continue to fall. They are falling in every part of the world. [...] People focus on the amount the world population has increased over the last 60 years to produce shock numbers, but the real stunner is the drop in fertility rates -- nearly in half, which is really astounding. I still have my treasured first edition of Ehrlich's Population Bomb. It is hilarious reading, all the more so because he gets everything so wrong, yet the media still tends to take him seriously. The recurring theme in Inferno is that man's greatest problem is that he has successfully tackled many diseases and thus increased life expectancy, and it is this longer life expectancy that will be the roots of mankind's Malthusian downfall. However, exactly the opposite is true. There is a ton of scientific work that says that longer life spans lead to lower fertility rates (the other thing that most contributes to lower fertility rates is economic growth). [With robust evidence available of] a clear inverse correlation between life expectancy and birth rates. Correlation is not causation, but this is backed by a ton of other empirical evidence to support causation. There is no trend towards accelerating population growth -- the trend is in the opposite direction, to deceleration. And folks who have underestimated man's ingenuity in feeding larger populations have always turned our to be wrong. Ehrlich said there was no way --- absolutely no way -- India could feed an additional 200 million people by 1980. Well, in 2013 it feeds an additional 800 million people to a better standard that the country was fed in Ehrlich's time. Hell, we could probably feed an additional half billion more just by repealing laws that put a significant amount of America's food production into automotive fuels. The source. See also An Overpopulation of Malthusians, as well as valid points from posts going back to times when I was more one-sided and more committed to the world being sooo bad: The Sport of Facile Killing ..., The Myth Junkie Society. Related articles 80% of World's Worst Poverty Eradicated in Less Than 40 Years Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (3/3) Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. 1. Probability "Probable", "probably", "probability", "likely", "likelihood" - we use these terms all the time. But what exactly do we mean by them? Personally, I agree with this position: What is probability? Is it a property of a thing (e.g., a coin), a property of an event involving a thing (e.g., a toss of the coin), or a description of the average outcome of a large number of such events (e.g., “heads” and “tails” will come up about the same number of times)? I take the third view. What does it mean to say, for example, that there’s a probability of 0.5 (50 percent) that a tossed coin will come up “heads” (H), and a probability of 0.5 that it will come up “tails” (T)? Does such a statement have any bearing on the outcome of a single toss of a coin? No, it doesn’t. The statement is only a short way of saying that in a sufficiently large number of tosses, approximately half will come up H and half will come up T. The result of each toss, however, is a random event — it has no probability. That is the standard, frequentist interpretation of probability, to which I subscribe. The source. In the ado of humankind, false concepts and the facile use of probability notions are of considerable currency. But why? Apparently, we have evolved to be good at ignoring uncertainty - in clever and viable ways. Innumerable cases show, our species manages to come up with reasonable solutions to the challenges of life even when information is too scarce to give us certainty. We make heroic assumptions to find orientation in a world that is too complex, detailed, and too arcane and concealed to ever be approached with complete certainty of its facts and nature. Yet, we survive, and even accomplish considerable progress. By systematically faking certainty. How do we do it? 2. Heuristics In psychology, uncertainty was made famous by the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. In their 1982 collection of research, “Judgments under Uncertainty,” the psychologists explained that when you don’t have enough information to make a clear judgment, or when you are making a decision concerning something too complex to fully grasp, instead of backing off and admitting your ignorance, you tend to instead push forward with confidence. The stasis of uncertainty never slows you down because human brains come equipped with anti-uncertainty mechanisms called heuristics. The source. In their original research they described how, while driving in a literal fog, it becomes difficult to judge the distance between your car and the other cars on the road. Landmarks, especially those deep in the mists, become more hazardous because they seem farther away than they actually are. This, they wrote, is because for your whole life you’ve noticed that things that are very far away appear a bit blurrier than things that are near. A lifetime of dealing with distance has reinforced a simple rule in your head: the closer an object the greater its clarity. This blurriness heuristic is almost always true, except underwater or on a foggy morning or on an especially clear day when it becomes incorrect in the other direction causing objects that are far away to seem much closer than normal. Thus, with good grounds ... Gerd Gigerenzer is a strong advocate of the idea that simple heuristics can make us smart. We don’t need complex models of the world to make good decisions. The classic example is the gaze heuristic. Rather than solving a complex equation to catch a ball, which requires us to know the ball’s speed and trajectory and the effect of the wind, a catcher can simply run to keep the ball at a constant angle in the air, leading them to the point where it will land. The source. So, then we may conclude ... That’s what a [psychological] heuristic is, a simple rule that in the currency of mental processes trades accuracy for speed. A heuristic can lead to a bias, and your biases, though often correct and harmless, can be dangerous when in error, resulting in a wide variety of bad outcomes from foggy morning car crashes to unconscious prejudices in job interviews. The source. Image credit. Part of our disposition to being biased in order to cope with uncertainty is what is called the halo effect whereby one transfers the (strongly felt, though potentially non-existent) authority of one data set to another data set, whose stand-alone authority is doubtful or unclear, as when a very negative personal experience with a redheaded person leads one to generalise the supposedly evil character of read-haired people - read more here. I am interested in finding out more about the way in which this kind of heuristics colours our political perceptions and comportment. If it plays such an ubiquitous and important role in everyday life, it is likely to be of considerable weight regarding our political behaviour. These deliberations may be a first small step toward an anthropology of politics and freedom. Concerning the role of politics in coping with unavoidable ignorance and uncertainty, see also my three-part piece on Why It Is Not True That Politics Makes Us Worse (1/3) - Thirteen Conjectures on Politics (1/3) and Rivers Working Like Politics - On Chaos, Complexity and Intermediary Conditions. Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Some more instructive glimpses of the processes of Nebraska state politics: This video is also helpful to get an idea of how law is made in Nebraska: Related articles Only in Nebraska - Birth of the Unicameral Pot(ty) - Or (K)Not(ty)? The AGs Issue Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Reports Hit & Run: Today Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado, arguing that marijuana legalization there is having spillover effects on neighboring states and should be reversed because it violates federal law. The two states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that Amendment 64, the legalization measure that Colorado voters approved in 2012, is "unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Supremacy Clause" because it conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act. The source. Make sure to look at background information, especially on the Supremacy Clause, in this article entitled Nebraska and Oklahoma Sue Colorado. And The Washington Times reports here. Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at RedStateEclectic