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"Eins kommt zum Anderen" (literally "one comes to the other") - is a phrase suggesting (in the below context) that one bad thing is leading to another bad thing, as might happen when your boss gives you a dressing-down, which, in turn, puts you in a foul mood, so you say something stupid to your wife, who gets angry with you ... The gentleman, Jürgen Klopp, is the coach of Germany's (normally at least) second best soccer team: Borussia Dortmund. While performing brilliantly and dominating its qualifying group in the prestigious and highly lucrative European Champion's League, Borussia is miraculously unsuccessful in Germany's top soccer league: the Bundesliga. After a series of consecutive defeats, Borussia is now under enormous pressure in the national competition, when at the same time playing the best teams of Europe (like Arsenal London, tonight) still seems to Borussia like a walk in the park. I like how "Kloppo" retains his sense of humour, laughing about himself as he realises his English is not getting him where he wants it to take him. Later in the clip, "Kloppo" comments on Arsenal's last match in the English Premier League, when "the Gunners" were clearly better than Manchester United, yet lost 1:2 at the end of the day. While not occupying a relegation position in the national league, as Borussia Dortmund bizarrely does, Arsenal is not doing well in the English league either. However, advises "Kloppo", Arsenal are "strong, if you let zemm be strong [... so, not to let them be strong ...] zatt is our chopp:" UPDATE By the way, playing rather badly, Dortmund lost 0:2 to a consistently superior Arsenal. As an afterthought concerning Thanksgiving: in the below video, we are witnessing a series of "mouth fouls" (playing the ball with your mouth/beak), and I am not even sure that there is a rule prohibiting the use of your mouth in soccer. So, is carrying the ball with your teeth/beak a special case of a header? A Texas Turkey header? See also Massacre at Malo Horizonte, and Sporting Kansas City ... Related articles Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund: Jurgen Klopp flies in to make the hotseat just a little warmer for Arsene Wenger Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. One of the things that struck me during the year that I spent in Berlin, just after the infamous wall had been torn down, was the intensity of antipathy, even hatred, I dare say, that some of my West German colleagues displayed vis-à-vis their new East German collaborators. At bottom, it was a matter of Futterneid - literally: jealousy about food. Berlin used to be a place spoiled with lavish subsidies - to make sure people would find it attractive to live, work, invest, and produce in the enclave city. Burdened with the heavy costs of integrating a bankrupt socialist economy into a Western-type society, Bonn decided to cut many of the Berlin-subsidies. One of the cases I had on my desk was a big-name piano manufacturer, who threatened to go belly up - the music was going to die, basically because the Berlin-subsidies had been withdrawn. Why do I mention this? I suspect, the Berlin-subsidies were a form of widespread Keynesianism, whereby the idea of a subsidy is enmeshed with other concerns, which in themselves may or may not be objectionable. In other words, there is a human propensity to act like a Keynesian, which to some extent, I think, we cannot or even should not discard entirely. Could West-Berlin have survived without the subsidies? Would Berlin have ended up a capitalist eyesore, without subsidies; or, contrariwise, had it become the eyesore that it looked to me before 1989 thanks to all sorts of pampering leniency, including easy subsidies? What measures would have made Berlin something like a free-market-shining-city-on-the-hill amidst the communist desert? The Bonn Republic, being profligate herself in terms of handing out countless subsidies, would Berlin politicians have stood a chance by arguing in favour of "no subsidies"? Would a good politician have been better advised to play along with the regime of subsidies, and once elected get some genuinely good policies accomplished, rather than quitting the game for reasons of being strictly principled? No doubt, there are groups, persons, and politicians of the shamelessly self-serving type, there are the fatuous, and the fatuously self-serving kind; but when the public good is an open issue with many different answers to it, I suppose, sound principles and arguments alone are not good enough to bar excesses or preclude less than meticulous compromises and mixed solutions. Ultimately, it would seem that in a large number of cases there is no hindrance to bad politics that is more effective than better politics. I just wonder, how hard it is for politicians, especially on the municipal and state level not to avail themselves of public resources. Also, to spend or not to spend public resources, is it always a matter of clear-cut discernment? This is not supposed to be an argument in favour of Keynesianism; but where public resources are substantial, as they are under modern capitalism, public life tends to get interwoven in countless ways with the Keynesian thread, and people grow accustomed to the gifts of the visible hand. Until the day the music dies. But in all that confusion and in the face of so many doubts, it is wholesome to get the basics right, and who better to turn to for that than Steven Kates. Steven, whose Free Market Economics, I strongly recommend for perusal both by layman and expert, has a most readable piece on the fortunes of economics, economies and the Keynesian legacy, the post being part of an exchange with a French Keynesian. Nothing to lift an economy like public investment! Every business like the post office. Every investment another Solyndra. All subsidised with nothing self-sustaining through the revenues it earns. Dig a hole and get fill it [sic?] in again. Don’t worry about earning a greater return than the funds outlayed. Just close your eyes and spend. Don’t worry, it will all work out once that magic multiplier cuts in. [...] On this much we can agree, that the world’s economies are in a mess. Consumers deep in debt, savings eaten away by low productivity government spending, and private investment going nowhere. [...] It is not aggregate demand that matters, but value adding aggregate supply. You must do more than build brick walls, you must build where what is built actually contributes to future prosperity. To think more holes dug up and then refilled can generate recovery because it constitutes “fiscal spending” is the essence of economic illiteracy. [...] In times gone by, before Keynes, economists talked about “effective demand”, that is, what had to happen to turn desire for products into an ability to buy those products. Now it is aggregate demand – the total level of demand – which has leached the original concept of any understanding that for everyone to buy from each other, they first have to produce what each other wish to buy. If that is not obvious, then common sense has gone from the world. The source. As for facile references to austerity, Daniel Ben-Ami offers an insightful post on the meme. See also Government - High-Cost Producer. Related articles QE - Financing the Inefficient Sector Recessions - What Not to Do about Them Transparency and the Art of Faking Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. For the quick reader, find a summary of my argument at the bottom of this post. There are basically two (classically liberal) approaches to liberty, one based on the harm principle, while the other approach admits to its premises the benefit principle in addition to the harm principle. Liberty and the harm principle Richard Epstein characterises the harm principle thus: In setting out individual rights and duties, we must embrace principles of individual autonomy, private property, and voluntary exchanges in order to insulate these productive human activities from the ravages of force and fraud. (Principles for a Free Society, p. 320) The locus classicus is found in Mill: That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to pro­duce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over is own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. John Stuart Mill (1859): On Liberty, chapter 1, paragraph 9. As Richard Epstein notes, the conception of freedom based on the harm principle alone has often been seen as treating force and fraud as the only problems worthy of a collective legal response, and thus has been frequently attacked as ignoring the wide range of holdout, coordination, and networking problems that arise in any complex society. Ibid. Incidentally, I do not think that a strict application of the harm principle is feasible, nor would its best approximation really achieve the aims of liberty, for it would create a situation of anarchy, where everyone has to fend for himself, which corresponds to a very low level of human development with hardly any division of labour. There will be a lot of anthropocentric freedom favouring the roaming or the stationary bandits (of Mancur Olson's primordial state) that soon tend to dominate such a primitive anarchist environment, but no/little sociogenic freedom, which latter we, classical liberals, have in mind, when we speak of liberty. Liberty and the benefit principle At any rate, to improve on the deficits of a concept of liberty solely based on the harm principle, classical liberals have come up with what Epstein describes as a more complete theory of laissez-faire which acknowledges the need for legal rules that forthrightly govern both common property and forced exchanges. In those cases where voluntary exchanges cannot achieve potential widespread gains, public force may take up the slack to achieve the desired social outcome - the win/win situations not obtainable by private agreement. Ibid. As the benefit principle involves coercion in that it will be applied in the face of non-concurrence, it may be more precisely defined as the principle whereby - under certain conditions - one should receive compensation for benefits conferred on others without their consent. Liberty and the harm principle plus the benefit principle Now, Epstein offers a crucial observation, which to my mind, indicates both the important task of "freedom as method", as well as the fundamental incompleteness of freedom, which forces us to figure out creatively and competitively solutions that liberty does not carry implied within her premises and principles. Accepting that [benefit-]principle does not clear the path for the promiscuous use of state power. Rather it requires some clear showing that the individuals subjected to state power all benefit on net from the program that has taken or regulated their property. Ibid. The benefit principle as such does neither necessarily lead to egregious miscarriage of state power nor does it of itself protect us against such abuse. The reason why is that some clear showing that the individuals subjected to state power all benefit on net from the program that has taken or regulated their property is mostly, and in many crucial cases, not possible. The competitive efforts at a "clear showing" are manifold, amounting to a dramatic show of multitudinous dissent and Babylonian confusion in their own right. There is no single argument, theory, or philosophy that can tell you what the common weal is: "the benefit on net." We must conspire to huddle more or less comfortably under the umbrella of a rickety pretense of knowing what that common good might be that persuades us not to cut each others throats. That is the very best we can do. This marks the most momentous disagreement that I have with Richard Epstein, whom I admire greatly for his classical liberal reconstruction of law and the Constitution. As liberals, I am suggesting, we can make plausible proposals as to what constitutes the common weal ("freedom as method"), but we are no more capable of proving our point of view as objectively valid than does any dissenting party. We, the citizens of a country, may end up very broadly in agreement in that we accept by and large actions carried out under the benefit principle, but this can not be based on an accurate reckoning concerning each issue or even the overall proportionality of state coercion/taking and benefit by the people. Politics - the fuzzy logic of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. I am getting more and more fascinated by the role that politics and the state play in the history of freedom. For, I am just not satisfied with the accounts of my fellow-libertarians. I believe, much research needs to be done toward and from a renewed libertarian perspective. Institutional change is a fascinating subject, but so is institutional continuity. Matt Ridley has a remarkable piece on the latter issue - why do some things change so little - and in being inert, how do they help freedom survive and grow? Ridley reviews a book by a certain Runciman on how Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, would experience a visit of England 300 years after his death: It is astonishing that the industrial revolution, and the vast expansion of the population that it allowed, did so little to change the main shape and habits of Britain’s political and cultural institutions. [...] For three hundred years Britain has almost uniquely avoided slipping into feudal, theocratic, despotic or military rule. It has remained an untidy mixture of constrained monarchy, permeable oligarchy, imperfect markets, and representative democracy. [...] Defoe lived towards the end of a period of civil war, regicide, restoration, (“glorious”) foreign invasion, Jacobite civil war and the imposition of a new dynasty. Yet in the centuries since, with the exception of Culloden and the Blitz, there have been no battles within the country, let alone civil wars. With hindsight, says Runciman, it was never even likely that Britain would succumb to revolution or dictatorship. The idea of freedom was always too strongly popular: freedom of movement, opinion, assembly, speech, contract, trade and fair trial. [...] If Labour in 1950 had gone to the country with a programme of full communism, or the Conservatives in 1979 with a programme of ultra-libertarianism, both would have lost by a mile. Gradualism was made inevitable by elections, which force parties to respect the cautious instincts of the people [...] Runciman (like me) is a devotee of the theory of cultural evolution, the notion that society changes by the gradual and undirected emergence of new ways of doing things that persist by competitive survival, rather than by grand design. In Darwinian terms, some of Britain’s institutions are sociological coelacanths — living fossils that have changed little while the world has changed rapidly around them. It is hard to think of another nation — only the Vatican or perhaps the Netherlands spring to mind — where the main institutions have changed so little since 1724. [...] On every measure of science, technology and society, we are as modern as you could wish. Yet we manage to be so within national institutions that are little changed from the time of George I. The source. Related articles King George I - From Anthropocentric Liberty to Sociogenic Liberty Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Up until the wee hours, detained by urgent business, I found this when unwinding. The flabbergasting Erroll Garner, once again at it, knocking me out of my chair. See also Erroll Louis Garner. Related articles Government - High-Cost Producer Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled Net Neutrality Explained Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Senator-elect Laura Ebke with (some of) her winning team. Image credit. Laura Ebke, Senator-elect to the Nebraska legislature, keeps us posted regarding the goings-on during the first days after her victory. I've always loved Laura's incisive and graphic writing, and it is exciting and a joy to be able to follow her topical accounts from her new life in the world of state legislature. Share in the delight, go visit Laura Ebke's campaign page. Writes Laura: Third day of orientation is over with. I think most of the senators-elect are getting more comfortable walking through the beautiful building that is the Capitol. We've all figured out where the restrooms are (not an unimportant thing in the first floor office spaces that resemble a labyrinth). We've gotten to know each other--as part of a "class", and I suspect many of us have started to get a feel for hot buttons for our colleagues. Today, retiring senators--Speaker Greg Adams, Sen. John Harms, and Sen. Annette Dubas--spoke to us. They are leaving--term limited out--as part of the first *big* class of senators post-term-limit passage. In the next week or so, I will be creating another page, separate from this campaign page, as well as an "official" Twitter account. On that page (and account), I will (eventually) post those things which will be more official in nature. I'll let you know where I've been and what I've done as part of "official duties"--but that's where I'll also post ALL of my votes (with explanations) for constituents and others to follow along. I campaigned on a promise of transparency--never expecting that everyone would agree with every thing I did, but believing that everyone in the "second house"--citizens of our state--had the right to know WHAT I was doing, and to hold me accountable. I will post a link to the new page here, when I get it set up, and those who are interested in following it, can. This page will then probably go more quiet after the first of the year. The source. I'm looking forward to it. Related articles Congratulations - Senator Laura Ebke I Voted for Laura Ebke 24 Hours till the Polls Open - Laura Ebke for Legislature Update: Vote Laura Ebke - Tuesday, Nov. 4th Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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What does the above picture have to do with the subject-matter of this post? Image credit. See, Rosetta also here, this cold, dark, and ugly messenger from a disappointing and depressing (part of the) universe. What a great place the earth is. The Georgian era deserves a prominent place in the growth-history of freedom - it is part of the historic hinge connecting anthropogenic and sociogenic liberty. For more, see this reminder of George I: an unlikley free market poster boy. We can learn a number of lessons from contemplating the Georgian period, most notably that politics and the state are of the essence in order for freedom to expand and settle into the depth structure of culture and society. The other lesson to be learned from a period that was both enormously conducive to the growth of freedom, and at the same time still overcrowded with situations of unfreedom: We may develop notions of ideal freedom to our heart's content, but in reality freedom can never be complete; she must grow, and being the result of a tug-of-war between the equally powerful human propensities of individualism and collectivism, she must grow crookedly - her nature demands it. It is misleading to conceive of liberty as a process of steady approximation toward ever more complete freedom, like filling a basin by and by with some uniform liquid until it is full to the brim. We ought to challenge and, indeed, reverse the claim that freedom is indivisible - to the contrary, she is necessarily discontinuous, contracting and growing along with states of affairs detrimental to aspects of freedom some of us may consider important and inviolable. Imagine a continuum with no freedom on one end and total freedom on the other. Both extremes are impossible. Anthropocentric freedom Human beings are endowed with capabilities, an urge, and the need to act autonomously. If I were to face Hitler, I might spit at him - that is anthropocentric liberty, the ability to act at one's own discretion, even under conditions highly restrictive of free, personally spontaneous conduct. Man is capable of autonomous action, in considerably larger measure than any other animal. This makes him an agent seeking to expand liberty. In this propensity, man may subdue, oppress, and enslave other human beings - and actually has done so for the longest period in human history. Sociogenic freedom Then there is a quantum leap. The age of sociogenic liberty sees an entirely new form of human culture. Liberty is no longer chiefly a matter of personal inclination, skill and luck; it is now the result of the manner in which we all generally relate to one another by heeding certain rules and refraining from certain forms of conduct. Liberty becomes a social convention or set of practices, a network of rules that are being generally observed. Liberty advances from being a highly restricted personal option to being a social tool liberating (vast numbers of) an entire population. The continuum of freedom It is due to the eternal presence of anthropocentric liberty that there can never be a complete absence of freedom. Think of the man spitting Hitler in the face. And it is due to sociogenic liberty that there can never be total freedom. Put differently, total freedom is conceptually impossible - in a free society people are free to disagree, and disagree they will. Not only will people have different ideas of freedom, there will be people who challenge and violate what others may unanimously regard as representing freedom. Freedom is an ongoing process of finding out what freedom means, and what she can and what she must bear. On the continuum of freedom there is a middle stretch, far away from "no freedom" and far away from "total freedom". It is the range, within which robust (not all conceivable nor all desirable) criteria of liberty are being fulfilled, so that we have an open access society (civil society), which in turn is characterised by considerable independence of individuals and their (private) organisations from arbitrary transgression by other citizens and especially by specialists in violence and governance. Related articles The Successful Person, and Ayn Rand - "I Do Not Fake Reality and Never Have" On the Importance of Politics The Software Revolution in Publishing Recessions - What Not to Do about Them Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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For the quick reader, find a summary of my argument at the bottom of the post. The political philosopher Albert Hirschman coined the terms "exit" and "voice" to contrast the non-political world against the political world. I seem to remember, the terms occurred to him when trying to account for cycles of waxing and waning political engagement in the population. For the libertarian, "exit" means the good world unaffected by political conduct and influence, "voice" represents the mean world of political machinations and imposition. I continue my defence of democracy in an indirect debate with Arnold Kling. Arnold, you write: "I just think that the wisdom of crowds is channeled more effectively through exit than through voice. As for democracy, it is a good way of arranging for the routine replacement of high-level officials. It is otherwise much over-rated." Four questions: First, isn't the "peaceful discharge" feature of democracy, that you consider its best aspect, just the top of the democratic iceberg? Do we not need a lot of democratic play, interaction, and structure underneath before we can hope to avail ourselves of this feature? Second, in light of my hypothesis that you need a lot of democratic substructure to enjoy "peaceful succession," what does it mean to say democracy is "otherwise much over-rated?" Third, is it not a contradiction to favour individual freedom, while at the same time wishing away mass political participation? Fourth, "exit" is a cool term, but what does it mean in a free society with no despotic restrictions to political participation? And finally, personally, as a libertarian, I find it hard to know how to act as the channeller of "the wisdom of crowds." Democracy, I surmise, is the response by which a free society guards against efforts at such channelling. I suspect, democracy is not primarily about fostering and utilising wisdom, but about trust-building among millions of people who are ignorant and rationally ignorant about (1) one another and (2) the conditions of peaceful coexistence on a high level of productivity, playing a game called democracy so as to find and test practices of minimal, non-violent trust in mass society. The outcomes of the democratic game may often be stupid and unpalatable but if condition (2) is consistently maintained, we have achieved a lot. The source. There was this reply: Fourth, “exit” is a cool term, but what does it mean in a free society with no despotic restrictions to political participation? Imagine a world in which many of the services of existing governments — especially large ones — were shifted to some combination of (a) private businesses (b) voluntary clubs (c) social circles and (d) smaller governments, such as municipalities. Then “exit” would mean moving your custom, your membership, your friendship or occasionally even yourself to another partner. To which I responded as follows: Politics and the State (P&S) are inescapable – there is no “exit” from P&S. It seems a case of “déformation professionelle” especially among economists to have a hard time appreciating this. P&S is more fundamental than economics in that it can control more factors vital to individuals and humankind than can be achieved by “well-behaved” market behaviour. The options for economic behaviour are set by P&S. One of the very few economists who did understand that there is “no exit” from P&S is the late Armen Alchian: “To change the move toward socialism, we must change the ability of various forms of competition to be successful. I know of no way to reduce the prospective enhancement from greater political power-seeking, but I do know ways to reduce the rewards to market-oriented capitalist competition. Political power is dominant in being able to set the rules of the game to reduce the rewards to capitalist-type successful competitors. It is rule maker, umpire, and player … But I have been unable to discern equivalently powerful ways for economic power to reduce the rewards to competitors for political power! Each capitalist may buy off a politician, but that only enhances the rewards to political power.” Armen Alchian in The Collected Works of Armen A. Alchian, Volume 2, in Economic Laws and Political Legislation, p.604. I don’t think that P&S commits us to an unavoidable movement toward socialism, but be this as it may, my fellow-libertarians’ “economistic” disregard and even disdain for P&S isn’t particularly helpful. The source. SUMMARY: The work of politicians conscious of freedom, like Senator-elect Laura Ebke, and of politically active citizens in capacities other than politician is immeasurably valuable. See also Herbert Spencer... , On the Importance of Politics, Alchian on Politics, Property Rights, Why the State Persists, Glaciers of Peace, Democracy and Freedom, Two Views of Democracy, Trust and Democracy. Related articles Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903) - Illiberalism within Liberalism - The Liberal Virus of Pessimism On the Importance of Politics Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. We're blessed with a mild and colourful autumn over here in Germany. Since the age of 16, I've been a Ron Carter fan. Share my delight. Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Explains the inestimable Coyote: Net Neutrality is one of those Orwellian words that mean exactly the opposite of what they sound like. There is a battle that goes on in the marketplace in virtually every communication medium between content creators and content deliverers. [...] What "net neutrality" actually means is that certain people, including apparently the President, want to tip the balance in this negotiation towards the content creators (no surprise given Hollywood's support for Democrats). Netflix, for example, takes a huge amount of bandwidth that costs ISP's a lot of money to provide. But Netflix doesn't want the ISP's to be be able to charge for this extra bandwidth Netflix uses - Netflix wants to get all the benefit of taking up the lion's share of ISP bandwidth investments without having to pay for it. Net Neutrality is corporate welfare for content creators. [...] Why should you care? Well, the tilting of this balance has real implications for innovation. It creates incentives for content creators to devise new bandwidth-heavy services. On the other hand, it pretty much wipes out any incentive for ISP's (cable companies, phone companies, etc) to invest in bandwidth infrastructure (cell phone companies, to my understand, are typically exempted from net neutrality proposals). Why bother investing in more bandwidth infrastrcture if the government is so obviously intent on tilting the rewards of such investments towards content creators? The source. Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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The art of faking - the above drawing is actually two-dimensional. Image credit. Remember Obama campaigning based on the promise of a decisive turn towards transparency? He was right to champion transparency - but did he and his entourage mean it? Writes Jim Harper of the CATO Institute: The benefits of transparency are hard to explain. Bit by bit, we’re improving public oversight of government, I’ve been heard to say, implying more libertarian-friendly outcomes—never quite sure that I’m getting my message through. Now comes a comment on transparency that articulates its importance better than I ever could. It’s Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber describing how lacking transparency allowed the president’s signature health care regulation to pass. The source. "This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass....Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not." The source. Adds the Coyote: By the way, Jonathon Gruber was the one in 2012 who said over and over that the limitation of subsidies to state-run exchanges was not a drafting error, but was an intentional feature meant to give incentives to states to create exchanges. Now that it is clear that incentive did not do its job, and a case is in front of the Supreme Court attempting to enforce the plain language of the law, Gruber is now saying that he mispoke (over and over again) in 2012 and it was a typo. Given the fact that he has now admitted he would gladly lie (and has) to the public to defend Obamacare, how much should we believe his current claims? The source. Looked upon from a different angle: What's up with GruberGate? See also here, and Administrative Creep, Sue and Settle, but also Regulation - Good, Moot, and Malign, and Bureaucracy and Other Half-Truths. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. The place where Senator Laura Ebke will be spending some of her time in exercising her office. With the hostess of this blog having become a Senator in Nebraska's one house State Legislature, issues related to federalism assume particular interest and topicality to me. As for the post's title and the proposition spelled out below, note, however, Nebraska's Legislature is unusual in that it is unicameral and nonpartisan. But what does that mean, especially in regard to the below hypothesis? John O. McGinnis propounds an intriguing thesis. Many people worry about our democracy today because our political parties have become more purely ideological. But federalism harnesses such partisanship and puts it to good use. Because of greater partisanship, we are seeing more states with a unified government in which Democrats or Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature. They are then able to enact a relatively pure version of their parties’ very disparate political positions. With the support of a Republican legislature, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has reduced the power of public sector unions. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has very substantially cut personal and business taxes. In contrast, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy was reelected after raising taxes and making no substantial changes to union power. In California, Jerry Brown was victorious with much the same policies. Such partisan federalism now gives us the chance to observe the results of such policies over the longer term. At its best, democracy is a system where people vote on the basis of consequences as well as values. On many issues there is substantial consensus as to the goals but substantial differences as to how to achieve them. Republicans believe that a smaller government generally leads to better results in economic growth and broad-based prosperity. Democrats disagree. But both must pay attention to results, which can move independent voters and indeed weaker partisans. The source. My posts, including the present one, are never coordinated with Laura Ebke, who generously allows me to express my views as I see fit. The responsibility for the contents of my posts lies exclusively with me. The views expressed in my writing are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, any other person associated with RedStateEclectic. Georg Thomas. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. A talent for copying others can be a burden. I have a propensity to inadvertently copy tics and pecularities in other people, say a stammer, which is terribly embarrassing. Here is someone arguing in praise of the immitators. For more animals and nature see also: A Talent for Freedom - The Amazing Stoffel, Meerkats of Botswana, Je vous en pris - un éléphant, Of Wolves and Startups, A Little Break. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. For the quick reader, at the bottom of the post, find a summary of the points I am trying to make below. In a two part post, Arnold Kling draws attention to an interesting series of essays by George H. Smith on the classical liberal polymath Herbert Spencer: From Optimism to Pessimism: The Case of Herbert Spencer. When liberals reject politics and the state (the ultimate enforcer of politics), I would argue, they are bound to get caught in a contradiction in that liberty demands the possibility of mass political participation. Quite in that vein, the classical liberal, Herbert Spencer, worried about broad political participation, despairing of the prospect that political freedom given to the immature masses was likely to destroy freedom. On account of this worry, Herbert Spencer increasingly turned from optimism to pessimism. The Spencerian pattern is quite common among libertarians, who lacking any confidence in the political processes of a free society, condemn themselves to "hibernating in a self-made winter of discontent," as I put it in On the Importance of Politics. Also, I have a comment on the second part of Kling's George Smith on Herbert Spencer, continued, where I argue that the strong presumption against politics and the state in classical liberals and libertarians carries the risk of introducing an element of alarming illiberalism into liberalism, as indeed appears to be very much the case in Herbert Spencer: Do I detect a family resemblance? Michael Oakeshott once spoke of Hayek’s “plan to resist all planning”. I am not sure, whether Oakeshott would endorse my interpretation of his phrase, but I read his observation as pointing to an illiberalism within liberalism (European meaning). Denying the right of political participation by all citizens, strikes me as highly illiberal. Usually liberals who argue in this vein do not sufficiently appreciate that markets are not an alternative to a political order (the one necessitated by freedom being of a democratic nature), but depend on an extra-market framework largely implemented, enforced, and defended by political action. You cannot have liberty without an open-ended political competition. But that competition is feared by liberals because it often brings forth as winners those who they disagree with. In the face of (permanent) defeat, for the liberal, it is at least psychologically comforting to refer back to the false “economistic” assumption that “dirty politics” would not be required if only one could have a liberal world as he conceives it. From this biased perspective, democracy appears to be an unpleasant, even dangerous redundancy. Because democracy destroys the liberal’s illusion that his is a self-contained, non-contradictory world view and as such naturally resistant to challenges of indeterminacy, i.e. outcomes of human interaction in a free world that may differ from the liberal’s expectations and preferences. Writes Oakeshott: “How deeply the rationalist disposition of mind has invaded our political thought and practice is illustrated by the extent to which traditions of behaviour have given place to ideologies, the extent to which the politics of destruction and creation have been substituted for the politics of repair, the consciously planned and deliberately executed being considered (for that reason) better than what has grown up and established itself unselfconsciously over a period of time…. This is, perhaps, the main significance of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom — not the cogency of his doctrine, but the fact that it is a doctrine. A plan to resist all planning may be better than its opposite, but it belongs to the same style of politics.” (1991, “Rationalism in Politics,” in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, new and expanded edition, pp. 26-7.) In the first part Herbert Spencer on Exit and Voice, Arnold Kling reflects on Spencer's preference for "exit" (independence/turning away from government) over "voice" (political participation, democracy, turning toward the state), apparently doubting the sense and feasibility of (attempting) a life without substantial government in the contemporary world. In my comment, I give an account of my theory of the state, in nuce: As for explaining and justifying government, I find it useful to consider: Violence is the fundamental problem of human association. Once a community is wealthy enough to sustain specialists, there will emerge, within the unfolding division of labour, specialists in violence and governance. There will always be a competition for “structures of maximal power”, which will tend to create oligopolistic (coalition of rulers) or monopolistic outcomes (state monopoly on violence) which reduce inefficient levels of violence, at least in the long run. Probably, the biggest plus of government (there are many others) is the immeasurably large difference between a state of anarchy and a state of being protected from anarchy – the transition from roving bandits (anarchy) to stationary bandits (state), in Olson’s terminology. Also, a state can not be arbitrarily destructive; if state structures are to face good chances of survival they will evolve to enhance the state’s own material substratum, foster productivity, and as precondition of this, peace and other expedients supporting productivity in the populace. Anarchy remains on a retarded level of development, where violence and personal security have not yet reached the stage of being dealt with within an extended division of labour. In an anarchic environment, violence, trust-building, and governance are still left to inefficient producers. Anarchy is unsustainable because it is brutally inefficient, and fortunately humankind has worked out more efficient social technologies: such as the modern state, or more generally “structures of maximal power”, in my terminology. Structures of maximal power are growths of long standing, they are fundamentally ambiguous and capable of severe regression – but they are the best we have. The founding fathers understood wisely that it is the liberal’s task to understand and improve these structures by “reflection and choice”. The state is an indispensable precondition of freedom, and endeavouring to improve its structure by “reflection and choice”, that is by conscious design is not necessarily the same as statist ambitions at building and micromanaging the system as a whole and in any conceivable detail.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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It is disturbing for me to read pieces by libertarians in which they discount the American political system as a source of unmitigated evil, when at the same time I am witnessing the enormous efforts of millions of Americans organising and partaking otherwise in elaborate and expensive political campaigns in the run up to the mid-term elections 2014. Freedom necessitates democracy - the possibility for political participation for everyone -, and democracy depends on a political culture maintained by people that value and practice political participation, even at considerable cost to themselves. The importance of these personal political efforts for our freedom cannot be overestimated. Yet, in typical libertarian manner: With a snap, as it were, a commenter on Arnold Kling's "My Election Take" dismisses the democratic system, in view of: 1. The unelected “staff” and other administrators (bureaucrats) to whom the elected have devolved the authority to legislate by regulation and “policy.” 2. The extensive “lobby” system operatives, especially those for particular interests (that includes social policy objectives as well as economic objectives). These people “write” the laws, modify the regs and “capture” the regulators. 3. The Principals (politicians within groups such as workers, teachers and scientists) who use the numerical or reputational significance of groups they purport to “stand” for or whose members they purport to represent – so called “leaders;” subsidiary politicians. 4. The money-hungry media and its wordsmiths whose constant efforts are to “wage influence,” not to inform. They are the reason money is so effective in politics. Less so, with the growing importance of “ground games” (get out the vote). The source. To this I replied: You put your case well; still, I have reservations one may subsume under the term “the public choice syndrome.” Valuable as many of the insights typically delivered by public choice thinkers are, their approach is highly problematic. It reminds me of advertising a book on “The Elephant”, when, in fact, the book is entirely about “Elephant Diseases”. Your four points represent generic categories: (a) “(executive) delegation”, (b) “lobbyism”, (c) “group/identity building”, and (d) “media”. Any desirable political system would have to provide services subsumed under the above four categories, and the US political system does achieve precisely that – in large enough a measure to make the USA one of the politically most stable and freest countries in the world. For a realistic picture of politics, it is not helpful, to conceive of these categories exclusively in terms of abuse. My fellow-libertarians are rather good at detecting violations of freedom, unfortunately they are not equally good at knowing freedom when they see freedom. Freedom (= life in civil society) is as non-clear-cut, messy, and intricate as politics; you must search hard to find the good in the mess, yet the good does exists, and its operative existence is vital. As a result of an overly rash presumption against politics and the state, libertarians don’t look carefully enough at politics as an unrenounceable condition of freedom, preferring to constantly hibernate in a (to a significant extent) self-made winter of discontent, producing little to better understand the difficult business of surviving peacefully and productively in a world in which politics is indispensable. The source. And I was rather taken aback when I read the following in Arnold Kling's post: Arnold you write: “[1] I really do not understand why people think that democracy is so great. [2] Its chief advantage is that it provides for peaceful transitions of power. [3] I continue to believe that markets, imperfect as they often are, produce better outcomes than voting.” Three sentences containing three major errors in the thinking of liberals (European meaning): As for [1]: Try the absence of democracy. Liberals ought to be committed defenders of democracy. After all, a free society is one that allows, indeed, promotes political competition and diversity more than any other social arrangement. Liberals should be at the forefront of institutional change and design to improve the democratic processes of political competition. As for [3]: At the bottom of anti-democratic tendencies in liberals is the fallacious notion that markets can do the job of the political system. Markets are incapable of creating their own preconditions, and the latter are of a political nature. Markets are not capable of resolving the problems of political scarcity [the paucity of unanimity on issues considered vital by large numbers of people]. It is an illusion to think that markets create peaceful reciprocity; they presuppose a political order that does well at managing political scarcity. Democratic structures are good at managing political scarcity – see “As for [1]“. Put differently: A market transaction presupposes that there is no conflict between the transacting parties, and that both have recognised a mutually advantageous trading opportunity. A market transaction does not create concordance between the trading parties, rather it presupposes the compatibility of their respective interests. Market transactions are not a means to overcoming conflict, instead they are engaged in to take advantage of mutually complementary benefits already present. As for [2]: Once one has formed a preconception of democracy as being an ineffective oddity or indeed a systematic threat to liberty, one is not likely to look at the phenomenon with the requisite patience and precision, falling prey to a naive and one-sided take of democracy. Democracy is a complicated set of institutions, cultural rites and preferences with more than just one set of functions: it fulfils an intricate symbolic function and is a discovery procedure no less than a free market, yet adapted to issues that markets cannot cope with. Democracy is a way of discovering good practices and ideas about how to live together peacefully and on a high level of productivity in extremely large human communities. Its function is to signal and thus ensure enough trust among total strangers so that most people are most of the time protected against lethal distrust by others. See also Trust and Democracy, Democracy and Freedom, Two Views of Democracy, The Market Is Not a Democracy,... 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Posted Nov 6, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Always worth paying a visit to - Laura's facebook pages. Same to you, Laura - thanks ever so much for the hard work that put you on the way to victory. Thanks also to the people whose support has been vital to your deserved success - from donors to those who helped you to get the campaign practically accomplished. Thanks also to your wonderful family, of whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know in person your most charming daughter Jennifer (hi, Jennifer!) during her visit to Schwäbisch Hall, where she participated in an absolutely outstanding performance of the Doane choir. The simple fact of the matter is: whenever I get in touch with the Ebke family, I experience what is great about America. Senator, I hope you will be able to take a bit of a rest after the grueling schedule of the past months. And then, on taking up your new office, tough as a Senator's life frequently is, I am convinced you will nevertheless experience that you are in your element, rooted as you are in the parts of Nebraska that you represent, being a thoughtful political scientist, a multitasking genius, and someone with excellent skills in handling people respectfully, with empathy, and fairness, not only in the easy moments of life. Expressed musically, the above message might sound like this - I like to think of the piece as a hymn to liberty: See also I Voted for Laura Ebke, Laura Ebke - Crossing the Finishing Line, Update: Vote Laura Ebke - Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Laura Ebke for Nebraska State Legislature, Dist. 32, Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch, Meet Laura Ebke - Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th - Laura Ebke, Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled, and Go, Laura, Go. Related articles 24 Hours till the Polls Open - Laura Ebke for Legislature Ebke wants to revitalize rural communities and stem tide of population loss Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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... for the first time, when I joined RedStateEclectic seven years ago, at once sensing, like her many voters today, what a wonderful and upright person Laura is; and ever since I have kept voting for (= supporting) her, again and again. Laura has a convincing personality - to me, that makes the difference, at the end of the day. Go to Laura Ebke's always interesting facebook page to share "I Voted for Laura Ebke" Principled, yet humane, reasonable, and never over the top, Laura's political views and fair comportment are such that you will find yourself well-understood and well-represented by her, even if not in concurrence on every conceivable issue. At the time, when I joined RedStateEclectic, there were other blogs closer to the positions I then held. It was Laura Ebke's convincing personality - the whole of her and her life - that attracted me to her as a human being as well as a politically active person. It was a good choice. I have learned so much that is valuable from her. Thanks Laura. Related articles Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled Ebke wants to revitalize rural communities and stem tide of population loss Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Enjoy a wonderful post by Laura Ebke on the occasion of concluding her campaign for the 32nd District legislative seat in 2014. One last thing before I go to bed, knowing that tomorrow at this time, this will all be over... Many of you have said that you were praying for me during this effort. I appreciate that more than I can express. There have been rough times in the last few weeks, when I felt that the substantive campaign that both sides were running had run off the rails. There were times when--although it's part of the political game, and I knew that going in--that I'd felt kind of beat up. Your prayers have helped to sustain me, and to encourage me. For those of you who pray, I'm going to ask for your prayers one more time--tonight, and through the day tomorrow. Not for me (although I certainly appreciate it), but for my family, who has been put through the ringer, especially in recent weeks. My parents, and my mother-in-law, in addition to numerous other relatives, have seen the "hit pieces." My kids have seen and heard us talking about them--after spending a summer doing fun things on the campaign trail, they've now seen their mom beat up with mail pieces that distorted the truth, and robocalls that called her a liar. Whatever happens tomorrow, they're going to have to face their classmates and teachers on Wednesday morning at school. I hope that they'll be led to deal with the results with humility and dignity--and that their mom is able to do the same. The source. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Follow Laura Ebke at her page here. It is an exciting way of getting the feel of a real campaign. I like Laura's reporting - read her so far penultimate message before elections are actually held today, 4th Nov. I am proud to have run a campaign of the people. I am proud that--unlike my opponent--I have not had to depend on any one person or group for 30% of my funds. [...] I will continue to reach out. My cell phone number will always be available. As I promised at the Crete Chamber Event, and others events, I will institute at least once a month coffees, throughout the district, where constituents can come and talk about what's happening in the legislature and give me their ideas. Make sure to read the entire short piece. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Follow the events leading up to the election on Nov. 4th at this great site: Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Writes Laura Ebke: As I write this, it's just over 24 hours till the polls open. Many of you have voted early, and I thank you for taking the time--regardless of whether you voted for me, or my opponent, in the Legislative race. If you haven't voted yet, I would respectfully ask for your vote--but I would ask for you to cast an informed ballot. Check out both of our Facebook pages. Which candidate seems to be the most open to communication with citizens. Who answers questions? Who posts frequently? I have promised to post EVERY VOTE I MAKE in the Legislature on Facebook and Twitter. Does my record show me capable of doing that? Check out our websites. Whether you agree with either of us on every issue or not, which of us has been willing to talk about specific issues, etc.? Check out the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure website if you don't trust the numbers that I've give here (http://lauraebke.com/blog/item/32-by-the-numbers-follow-the-money#.VFdxi_nF8rU)--you'll have to download the attached spreadsheet to see the side by side comparisons. Unfortunately, we've both had to raise a lot of money to compete in this race. I have no single group that has given me 30% of my campaign receipts, and more than half of my campaign resources have come from individuals--some giving $3, some $10, some $50, some $500. Do the math. What does commonsense tell you about who is likely to be influenced the most by the political agenda of one or two groups? Some of you have called me throughout the campaign--and in recent days--to ask for clarification of my views on issues, or to straighten out misunderstandings created by supporters of my opponents mailings. I thank you for doing me that courtesy, whether I was able to win your vote or not. If I am elected, not only will my door be open, but so will my cell phone and my personal email. I have tried to take the high road throughout this campaign. I have not resorted to impugning my opponents character through robocalls and Facebook. And I certainly wouldn't have done that without providing proof--whereas I have been called a "liar" on numerous occasions--publicly--without any documentation to contradict what I (or others he claims I am associated with) have said about him. Saying it is so, doesn't make it so. As I mentioned elsewhere--"lying" implies knowing intent to deceive. When I had the opportunity to ask him why he was telling people on phone calls that I was lying, the response I got was "it is what it is" as he walked away from me. The next day, the call--made by his campaign treasurer came through--again calling me a liar. Friends, I ask you to consider, yes, the issue views of your candidates for office. But where it's not possible to discern issue positions because of silence, consider the way that we've conducted our campaigns--who has energized the most young people, who has attempted to remain positive, who has provided the highest level of transparency. I hope you'll vote for me, but more than that, I hope you'll cast an informed and reasoning vote. Oh, and please share this with your friends. I need help in these last 24 hours spreading the message. Make sure to visit Laura's facebook pages here and here. See also Laura Ebke - News from the Campaign's Home Stretch, Meet Laura Ebke - Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th, Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th - Laura Ebke, Laura Ebke - Practical, Proven, Principled, and for some great Campaign Music: Go, Laura, Go. Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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I am proud to be associated with Laura Ebke, a caring person of impeccable integrity and genuine humanity. In so far as some people will not have the chance to learn the truth of the matter, it is, for someone who knows Laura as a conscientiously fair and honest person, both saddening and infuriating to see her, of all people, become the target of a "hit piece" of political defaming (see below P.S.). But then, in the end, I am convinced that Laura's natural integrity will be her best advertisement among those that meet her during the campaign and those who know her anyway, as well as reaching many more on-line and by word of mouth. Laura is a wonderfully balanced person of warmth, responsibility and circumspection, ideally suited to represent her fellow Nebraskans in the Legislature. Just take a glimpse at Laura's facebook presence to see what I mean. P.S. Yesterday, my mother-in-law received a "hit piece"--paid for by the Nebraska Democratic Party--suggesting that "Laura Ebke: TOO Extreme for Women"--and that I was saying NO Health care that Nebraska Women deserve--like Mammograms, coverage of pre-existing conditions, and affordable access to contraception. They refer the Campaign for Liberty Legislative survey, found here:http://www.campaignforliberty.org/surveys2/?id=59. My opponent didn't bother to answer it--nor did a lot of other candidates. I'm sure that this refers to the question about opposing Obamacare. As the wife of a physician--and a woman--it's laughable to suggest that I am *against* any of those things. I just happen to believe that Obamacare doesn't fix the problem of access. See also Vote Tuesday, Nov. 4th - Laura Ebke. Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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How I wish I could go there, but I'm being detained several thousand miles away in the Old World: Tomorrow is the last candidate forum in the district before the election. It's being held in Wilber, and sponsored by the American Legion Post there. There will be local candidates (school board, city council--and maybe some candidates for county offices, although those seem to be mostly uncontested). I look forward to one last opportunity for the voters of the 32nd District to compare my opponent and me side by side. The source. Laura on her approach: My “agenda” in running for the 32nd Legislative District seat is simple and can be boiled down to a few short items: 1) I want Nebraska to work even harder at creating the kinds of jobs that will keep our children tied to not just Lincoln and Omaha, but the rural areas of our state as well; 2) I believe that part of what’s necessary to achieve #1 is to have an economy that has low taxes, excellent schools, and a low regulatory environment for new businesses; and 3) to succeed at #2, we need to minimize the regulatory role of the state government and ask ourselves what, exactly, we need for the government to do, and what we can do for ourselves, individually, or at the local level. I know that everything that government does is paid for by the hardworking taxpayers of our communities. There are some things that it makes sense for us to do in larger community with one another—through the expenditure of our tax dollars. But I am committed to asking many questions and seeking to determine what must be done by the taxpayers collectively, and what can be done by individuals, by choice. The source. Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Take a look at this exciting link: Laura Ebke for Legislature. Laura, do us a favour, win again! Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2014 at RedStateEclectic
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Image credit. Getting to know Laura Ebke, debating with her, and contributing to this blog, generously hosted by her, has been an incredibly enriching experience for me. In decisive ways, Laura has helped me shape and change my political views. Thanks, Laura, for a great opportunity to grow. Most notably, I have learned to appreciate an exceedingly important side of the world that previously I had little understanding of, namely: the importance of participating in the processes of political competition and influencing government in order to support, hone, and defend a free, open, and tolerant society. Not only has Laura been an important influence in making me aware of the problems and dangers of politics and the state, her thoughts and personal example have encouraged me to appreciate politics and the governmental dimension as critical factors in promoting, shaping, and protecting a free society. She is my ideal candidate for a political office. In my endorsement of April 2014, I wrote: Laura represents and lives a wonderful tradition unavailable to me in Germany; since getting to know her in 2007, I have been greatly enriched by sharing in that great American tradition. I wish I had someone of Laura's calibre to vote for over here. Principled and empathetic, Laura combines the discernment of a thoughtful political scientist with the best practical skills and instincts of a representative. I have not always agreed with Laura. What I remember most vividly from our occasional disagreements or differences in priorities is a sense that she was always sincerely interested in understanding the different perspective, and that, therefore, she was able to actually grasp my standpoint and to truly care for what mattered to me. Laura is genuinely sensitive to the concerns of those with different views - one of the rarest and most important qualities in a good politician. No post that I have written for RedStateEclectic has ever been coordinated with Laura, including the present post which will be a complete novelty to her once she gets round to reading it. I hope she will like it. Even more strongly, I hope that in running for the 32rd Legislative seat Laura will come out the winner, once more. Image credit. Related articles Ebke wants to revitalize rural communities and stem tide of population loss Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at RedStateEclectic