Good and Evil, and Commerce and Capitalism as a Way to Cure Poverty

“In fact, Bono, C. S. Lewis has a great quote which I love: ‘When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that’s left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.”
Jim Daly, interviewing Bono

That was in the context of interviewing Bono, who recently said “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.”

A crazy new idea for Africa and most third world nations is to observe the rule of law, recognize constitutional rights, engage in democracy, bring women and minorities equal rights, and engage in free market capitalism. Historically, that’s a hell of a winning formula. It worked for most first world countries.

India and China have improved their lot just by practicing that last part, free market capitalism. Both of them – but especially China – have a long way to go on the other parts that have to do with human rights, but the little bit they’ve done so far has improved the lifes of several billion people. Foreign aid and economic redistribution could never have done what capitalism has done for those people.

PreviouslyBreaking News: Bono and Matt Yglesias Mugged by Economic Reality

Former East German Stasi Head on NSA Surveillance

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used. This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”
Wolfgang Schmidt

Photography is not a crime, and can help solve crimes

Matt Blaze:

Personal photos helped solve the Boston Marathon case, so cameras will be banned at Kentucky Derby for security reasons.

Somehow after 9/11 people decided that cameras were terrorist tools, so banning them became part of the ongoing security theater – things that do nothing to make us secure, but that send a message that Something Is Being Done. It’s what John Farnam called speed bump governing. It doesn’t stop criminals, but it inconveniences and diminishes the rights of people who obey the law.

QotD – The Truth at the Center of Politics

“We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we have done it.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Quote of the Day

“Preposterous Keynesian fallacy at work. It presupposes that money allocated to some project via the political process is more likely to create a ‘multiplier’ than market driven uses of that money… and it assumes that the money taken by the state by force would not have been invested in something more worthwhile in aggregate if the decisions were left to its original owners before it was confiscated by the state.”
–  Perry De Havilland

Land of the Free Except for All the Prisoners

Prison Population if States Were Countries



The per-capita numbers by country aren’t any better. We have more people in prison per capita than Russia and China. Maybe one day we’ll end the war on drugs and release the prisoners.

Crime Per Capita by Country


It’s the morning after the election, America

We can all go back to ignoring Ohio.

Quote of the Day

“If you want less of something, like tobacco or income, tax it. If you want more of something, like tobacco or unemployment, subsidize it. (And if you want proof that our government is crazy, roll those two sentences around in your head for awhile.)”

Word of the Day – Limited Hangout, Modified Limited Hangout

In light of yesterday’s partial confession by Peter Gleick, this seems like an appropriate word of the day. From Wikipedia:

A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details. It takes the form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or “mea culpa” type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be “coming clean” and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones.

A limited hangout typically is a response to lower the pressure felt from inquisitive investigators pursuing clues that threaten to expose everything, and the disclosure is often combined with red herrings or propaganda elements that lead to false trails, distractions, or ideological disinformation; thus allowing covert or criminal elements to continue in their improper activities.

Victor Marchetti wrote: “A ‘limited hangout’ is spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting—sometimes even volunteering—some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.”[1]

In a March 22, 1973 meeting between Richard Nixon, John Dean, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, and H.R. Haldeman, Ehrlichman incorporated the term into a new and related one, “modified limited hangout.”[2]

The phrase was coined in the following exchange[3]:

PRESIDENT: You think, you think we want to, want to go this route now? And the–let it hang out, so to speak?

DEAN: Well, it’s, it isn’t really that–

HALDEMAN: It’s a limited hang out.

DEAN: It’s a limited hang out.

EHRLICHMAN: It’s a modified limited hang out.

PRESIDENT: Well, it’s only the questions of the thing hanging out publicly or privately.

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Power Cycle


Via RNS.

Glenn Reynolds on Weinergate

“I think there’s an important point in the comic value: The people who think they’re smart enough, and morally superior enough, to run everyone else’s lives are risible. They’re not smart enough to run their own lives competently, and they’re actually, overall, morally inferior — I mean, John Edwards, DSK, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barney Frank, Tax Cheat Tim Geithner, just go down the list — and mocking them is inherently valuable. They pursue power, and they exercise power, as much for deference as anything else. Deny them that, and make it painful for them whenever possible.”
Glenn Reynolds

Joseph Sobran

“Politics is the conspiracy of the unproductive but organized against the productive but unorganized.”
  — Joseph Sobran

Word of the Day: Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureacracy

Jerry Pournelle:

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

Via Instapundit.

Previous WOTDWinerlinks

America, we have let down our politicians

“When people say, for example, that a particular tax in the U.S. could be higher, my response is that their suggestion is offensive to professional politicians. If there were more blood that could be squeezed from Americans overall, it would already have been collected. Sadly we have let our politicians down to some extent by not building an economy sized appropriately for Medicare, public employee pensions, Social Security, government worker salaries, our various foreign wars, etc. Our politicians’ confidence in us was misplaced.”
  — Philip Greenspun

And yes he’s being facetious.

Glenn Reynolds on Middle Class Markers

“The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.”
Glenn Reynolds

But the doctor told me if I had a dolphin nose that would make me a dolphin!

I think Glenn is going a little overboard in discounting the benefits of college and homeownership. While plenty of people move up in the world without an education, an education has traditionally been a reliable path upwards. It’s just that education per se doesn’t make you middle class. You need an education that produces a set of skills or certification that you can leverage to transform your economic status. You also need to obtain that education without unduly burdening your finances with student loans.