Friday, February 25, 2005

Modern Skulls House Stone Age Minds

Modern Skulls House Stone Age Minds

It has long been an interest of mine to develop a better understanding of how our biological inheritance affects our ability to thrive in this technological and crowded world. This has drawn me to blogs such as Gene Expression and Enlightened Caveman. Now political think tanks are getting into the act. Cato Institute has published a policy report based upon the study of evolutionary psychology, entitled Capitalism and Human Nature, which attempts to reconcile our hunter-gatherer origins and our therefore primitive mentation with our ability to interact on a global level with the rest of the human race. The report reviews recent research in evolutionary psychology, which it describes as a field of science that "specializes in uncovering the truth about human nature."

Pointing out that human nature is absolutely incompatible with socialism is easy enough, even without the aid of peer-reviewed research (we have the mountains of corpses to prove it), but applying those same findings to a quest to understand how compatible our minds might be with a global free market is a bit more difficult. What we can not easily understand can be seen this way, thus:
Our zero-sum mentality makes it hard for us to understand how trade, innovation, and investment can increase the amount of total wealth. We are thus ill-equipped to easily understand our own economic system.
Anyone who has read the scribblings of economists, who devote their lives to the understanding of this "science," has realized that no two economists can agree on anything more than grand principles, and there is a huge amount of argument even at that level. Science can allude to a certain hopelessness inherent in progressivism, as in:
The shape of society is constrained by our evolved nature. Remaking humanity through politics is a biological impossibility.
But progress we shall, indeed we must, so gainsaying the direction in which leftists wish to take our society is not necessarily going to point to the true direction the human race, and American society, should take. It does provide food for thought, however, and it would be wonderful if more of our public policy were to conform to what is known about human propensities and abilities, rather than the current state of our legislation, which more often defies human nature, and attempts to change it, rather than trying to work with the raw material of the human mind.

We are what we are, and not some progressive construct of what we wish we were. Political correctness stands in direct opposition to progress, which is directly opposite to what its promoters claim. Human knowledge is ill-served by denial of, say, the cannibalism of the Anasazi, or refusal to recognize the nature of Homosexuality. Refusal to allow the study of, and understanding of, whatever it is that impairs many African-Americans from succeeding in our society does not help them. Indeed, it holds them in bondage to false ideas, and encourages the destruction and refabrication of the ideas of Martin Luther King, among others, in a mad attempt to avoid embarrassment. The continued attempts to redistribute wealth similarly shows a denial of human nature, as well as a poor understanding of the economics of wealth creation. The plain truth, that wealth is not a zero-sum game, seems to be hidden from these "thinkers," and the facts of the tension between our charitable nature and our resistance to coercion are denied as well. The current debate over Social security is a debate between those who want power over their fellows, and is not at all about providing for the elders of our society.

Until public policy reflects an understanding of the good, as well as the bad, in our natures, the personal freedom forseen by our nation's founders will continue to be elusive. Better understanding of human nature, and thus what will work, is the key, and the Cato piece is a great step forward. Too bad almost no one will read it. But it is a sign of better days ahead.

Hat tip to Enlightened Caveman for the link to the Cato piece.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Criminalizing Fantasy

In a further demonstration that the government is truly out of control, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger is apparently attracting a lot of positive response to his attempt to extend the already foolish statutes against suicide to a ban on the mere discussion of, and fantasy concerning, suicide. I have (so far) found no news items suggesting that this action is overstepping the boundaries of the law, giving me more reason to believe that I have been right all along, that almost everyone can clearly see the Emperor's new clothes, and is not merely reticent about discussing their lack.

A sample of the news coverage, "Man Allegedly Sought Suicide Pacts for Years", from the Washington Post, seems to me to allege no crime that has been committed. Even a conspiracy charge requires that at least one act in furtherance of the commission of a crime must be performed before the conspiracy becomes a criminal act. Yet, incredibly, it seems that the mere act of clicking the "send" button in a chat room transforms conversation about suicide into a crime. This completes the realization of the aim of those who would seek to make illegal mere unpopular speech. If this prosecution succeeds, all internet communicators will have a far heavier burden to carry. But. Far more important is the silence. Why are not civil liberties activists of all stripes screaming about this? Is it because of the supposed victim status of the so-called scheme's so-called participants?

Where does it stop? If a man can not speak to strangers about fantasy hangings that will noy take place over non-existent beams in his trailer home, after they discuss sex acts that will never be performed, at what point does harmless banter become an actionable crime? This is very troubling to me, mostly because it does not seem to trouble anybody else.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Darfur Is No Genocide Says UN

Darfur Is No Genocide Says UN

One of the best essayists today is Mark Steyn, whose insights and observations never fail to make one laugh as he skewers the pompous and powerful. And we have to laugh, or we will never stop crying. Just today a government report finds that gun laws have no effect on crime, but goes on to conclude that its conclusions are no reason to change anything. I expect that Steyn will have something to say about that presently, but today's piece is about the U.N. Oil for Food Scandal. While he covers that travesty with a completeness and brevity at the same time, what really got me going was a little bon mot at the end, about something entirely different. he sums up the transnational mindset - and standard operating procedure - perfectly
If Paul Volcker's preliminary report on Oil-for-Food dealt with the organisation's unofficial interests, the UN's other report of the week accurately captured their blithe insouciance to their official one. As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.

That's great news, isn't it? For as yet another Annan-appointed UN committee boldly declared in December: "Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated." So thank goodness this isn't genocide. Instead, it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group – which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, and Polly and Clare don't have to worry their pretty little heads about it.
Isn't that the truth? Great stuff. Too bad that the black Africans in Darfur can not laugh, and may even be fresh out of tears. But if we can not lampoon those who could make a difference to them, but refuse to, nothing will ever change.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Having it Both Ways

In a telling piece of journalism, the Washington Post today reveals some of the rank hypocrisy of which our elected officials are capable. They criticize Bush for spending too much money, and running deficits, then, when he shows fiscal discipline, they attempt to destroy those efforts. You may laugh or you may cry, but the reaction of the democrats to this budget proposal are beneath contempt. In fact, they are beneath comment. Anyone with his or her brain plugged in can fisk this document. And, it is called a NEWS article! Read it and weep.

UPDATE - Just in case you think I'm being too hard on WaPo, take a look at the same story, without editorial content masquerading as news.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Dems Moving Left, Again

So now the waiting is over, and we know that the democrat party has no intention of taking any substantive steps toward reversing course and moving toward the middle politically. It seems that they have settled on Howard Dean as their standard bearer. Just as the choice of Terry McAuliffe moved them toward the left, Dean will move them more so. Even as a reactionary libertarian conservative like me was hoping that the opposition party would once again become relevant, they push inexorably toward obscurity. Perhaps this is a good thing. Maybe this will make room for a truly conservative party to come to the fore. The only problem with this, there IS no conservative party available to do so, unless you consider the isolationist Libertarian Party conservative. Me, I consider them a utopian party, and thus as capable of achieving a majority as the communists. For a majority party, you need a big tent, and the Libertarians are (mostly) true believers, and thus are fighting to have the smallest tent possible.

In national politics, single-interest coalitions beat out ideology every time. That is why the Republicans are the majority now, and the Democrats are sinking. The more ideological they get, the happier their base will be, the their relevance to our national polity will decrease. What will sustain them when they no longer have Bush to kick around? Their coalition of academics, labor movement socialists, angry masculine women, journalists, and artists is a mile wide and paper thin. Who listens to those people anyway?