On a longhorn, with an Army escort. (Today in Goliad – where it was bitterly cold and so the crowd turnout was minimal, and chilled to the bone.)
The feud between the Suttons and the Taylors was one of those epic Texas feuds which convulsed DeWitt County in the decade following the Civil War. It might even have begun earlier in a somewhat more restrained way, but there is nothing besides speculation on the part of contemporary journalists by way of evidence. Both families originated in South Carolina, both settled in DeWitt County … and in the hard times which followed on the humiliating defeat of the South and the even more humiliating Reconstruction, they squared off against each other. The feud lasted nearly a decade, at a cost of at least 35 lives. Participants in it included the notorious John Wesley Hardin, who was related by marriage to the Taylors. Some historians have described the feud as a bitter continuation of the Civil War, between die-hard Confederate partisans and those roughly aligned with the forces of Reconstruction law and order.
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Bruce Webster writes about the parallels (and differences) between the design of legislation and the design of software systems.
(via a thread at Bookworm)
I’ve been pondering Pope Francis’ recent writings and have come to certain conclusions about some serious miscommunication regarding what the Pope is doing. Contrary to a lot of the Francis miscommunication corpus, I don’t think that this is the Pope’s fault.
Capitalism is not, properly speaking, a totalitarian system. It requires a separate moral system, a guide to provide purpose to all the buying and selling. It can fit to a wide variety of moral systems which is a good reason that capitalism ends up being global.
Capitalism’s limits to economic acts create a space for morality to survive and thrive and are natural fetters to the system. These are the fetters that would interest a churchman. Unfettered or unregulated capitalism is totalitarian. If you’re worshipping mammon. If you find value only in your bank account, if there is no other system that informs your purchases and your production, then you have a serious problem. The fetters of government regulation in the economic sphere are irrelevant to Pope Francis because he’s not a politician and not an economist. He has a different scope for his job and vocation.
This is a virtue problem and one that has real world, practical effects. The difference in the education levels in virtue in the American colonies at the start of its revolution and Bourbon France at the start of its revolution are a major factor in why the former succeeded and the latter was ultimately a failure that died in the terror.
Pope Francis’ gig is ultimately to inculcate virtue and prepare us for Heaven. Occasionally this means he falls into the jargon of his profession which, like all professional jargon, is sometimes confusing because in different professions, the terms have different meanings.
cross post: Flit-TM
Late to the party on this one, since I dropped my newspaper subscription a couple of years ago, but one of the ladies of the Red Hat circle I belong to mentioned this to me last night at our monthly dinner out. She couldn’t quite recall his name, but outlined enough that I figured it out, and confirmed by routine googlectomy this morning. He was our own local Victor Davis Hanson; I never met him in person, but I had friends and associates who had. A fantastic historian,(and a military veteran as well, since he was of that era) but personally rather bland and plain-spoken. Two of his books, Lone Star and Comanches are on my desk shelf within reach, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Daniel Hannan Speaking at the Heritage Foundation about his book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World
Posted by Lexington Green on December 4th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Mr. Hannan gave a superb speech at the Heritage Foundation on November 22, 2013.
The speech is based on Mr. Hannan’s book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World.
The Heritage site says this:
The core of his thesis is this: It is the English-speaking world, the “Anglosphere” (UK, Ireland, India, USA, Canada, Australia, … ) that somehow came to view the law as an ally of freedom rather than an instrument of state control. It is that very elevation of the individual over the state, in the law, that has brought us freedom and prosperity. In America and Britain, says Hannan, that principle has been taken for granted so long that now we risk losing it.
Starting around 49:00 Mr. Hannan describes a technologically advanced future which is clearly based on America 3.0, though he does not mention the book by name. Mr. Hannan gave America 3.0 a rave review, so we know he liked it!
Optimism: America’s Greatest Days Are Yet To Come, Mike Lotus Writing About America 3.0 on CommPRO.biz
Posted by Lexington Green on December 3rd, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Thanks to CommPRO.biz for publishing my recent piece on optimism.
The subtitle of America 3.0 which has provoked the strongest response is this:
America’s Greatest Days Are Yet To Come.
In the article I ask:
Do you agree? Or do you think America’s greatest days are long gone? But if America’s greatest days are yet to come, then our personal lives and our business careers take on a more hopeful cast.
In the USA today we have a shortage of optimism. For the first time, Americans say their children and grandchildren will have a worse life than they did. But despair about America’s future is a factual, historical and analytic error. We are not on an inevitable road to tyranny and poverty. Predictions of the end of American freedom and prosperity are deeply mistaken.
Optimism must be based on facts, or it is just wishful thinking. So, what is the foundation for optimism about our future?
You can get the short answer in the CommPRO.biz article, or get the full and complete answer by reading America 3.0!
This book is subtitled 1915 – Germany’s Secret War by Howard Blum. It is a fascinating and very readable account of a corner of American history not very well explored lately; what happened in the early years of WWI, when the assassination of an Austrian arch-duke set Western Europe on fire – and America remained tenuously neutral. Very soon it became apparent to those in highest authority in Germany that the war would not be a walk in the park; that it would be a long and bloody war of attrition. In those circumstances, the United States could not be easily dismissed – even if it was considered such a backwater by the German general staff that it was lumped together with Mexico, to the disgust of Captain Franz von Papen. He was then assigned as military attaché to the German embassy in New York in 1913 – but in 1915 he was tasked with recruiting spies and saboteurs to wreak havoc.
Technically, the United States was a neutral, although quite a fair number of the wealthy social elite as well as the political leadership of the time were inclined to favor the British, and maintained strong cultural ties with England. Business and financial ties also favored the Allies – and considerable agricultural and industrial bounty flowed freely to England, France and Russia, to the indignation of the German government. This was fiendishly one-sided neutrality, to their way of thinking. Von Papen and his fellows dove into a covert war with considerable relish, although there was the danger (a real one, as it turned out) that German efforts to hamper aid to the Allies might backfire, and alienate the U.S. out of neutrality and into open war against Germany.
Posted by Lexington Green on December 2nd, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Mr. Slen asked open-ended questions and gave the me the chance to speak at length about America 3.0 and what we are trying to get across. The entire show was about 45 minutes, which is a substantial amount of time, and a great opportunity.
(One thing I notice is I keep saying “we think.” D’oh. It is almost as bad as y’know. Good lesson for next time.)
First of all I want to thank Michael Lotus and James Bennett for taking the time and energy to write and promote America 3.0. It cannot be underestimated how much work this book took to research, write and publish and these 2 gentlemen (I really only know Mr. Lotus, but I am making assumptions on Mr. Bennett) are very busy individuals who have to earn a living for themselves and their families.
Throughout, they made a giant effort to make the book positive, upbeat and solutions-focused. This approach is radically different than the “conspiracy theory” or “single issue” approach that mars most books of this genre (although there really aren’t a lot of books that spring to mind when I think of likely comparisons). Even though the book would generally be classified as politically on the “right” by the general public, the authors go out of their way to not characterize their opponents as “bad people” and show the fundamental (positive) motivations that drive some of their actions, even if the results ended up being disastrous or misguided.
As a well-informed reader (by the standards of the world at large, if not always by the extremely high standards of Chicago Boyz, and often when I read Trent Telenko’s articles on military history I feel rather ignorant indeed) there were many areas of the book that were very new to me, increasing my interest in the topics that they raised. Given my focus on business, economics, energy, taxation, and military history, I really haven’t thought much at all about the role of the family and how it shaped America’s growth, but that topic was the seminal driver for the book. It felt very true and aligned with my experience, that the nuclear family and the ability of sons and daughters to marry off and “find their own way” contributed greatly to our successful outcomes. In the course of my business and travels I see the facts arrayed differently, and I can also see how individuals that I know from these countries have adjusted (and often embraced) this new, freedom-seeking and independent course of living.
The idea that we can reform our institutions and have the Federal government take over tasks that it logically should hold while devolving other roles to state and local government makes a lot of sense. They also discuss the “great haircut”, a single event to reform our finances across all the institutions simultaneously, as a logical approach, along with new barriers to ensure that it doesn’t re-occur.
I will think about the areas of my expertise and how they can be applied to concepts similar to America 3.0 in the future. There is a lot of de-centralization coming with energy and services and these can be aligned to the capabilities and responsibilities of our citizens, rather than being a top-down phenomenon in the process of disintegrating, which is the current trajectory.
Thanks again to the authors for an excellent book, and they are a credit to this site and what the founders have attempted to portray, which is a positive, forward look at the issues that we face and how we can solve them with political, economic and personal freedoms.
Cross posted at LITGM
Originally when I started over at Chicago Boyz I used to write regularly about tax policy. I haven’t written as much lately on that topic because the news has been completely dispiriting… at every turn it seems that the Federal, State and Local governments have taken positions to make the system more complex, confusing, and dysfunctional.
The goal of a tax policy should be to:
1. Achieve the revenue goals that they set out to meet
2. Do so in a way that has causes the least amount of distortions to the economy
Recently the idea of “fixing” our tax policies and incentives, for me at least, is aligned with recent discussions on the idea of raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage is $7.25 / hour, although this varies with state and local laws as summarized here. A suburb in Seattle, near the Seattle-Tacoma airport (Sea-Tac), recently passed an ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour. This ordinance is a bit more clever than most, since the airport is unlikely to close or take significant actions due to the immense capital costs and constraints associated with doing so, and has a strong public element (politicians can just try to pass the costs on to air travelers).
These same discussions come up in Chicago, as fast food workers also have had some (small) demonstrations to try to raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour. While their campaign has sputtered out, it will likely re-surface and be championed by our governor.
The obvious difficulty with raising the minimum wage is that employers are not sitting ducks. There are many low wage workers in River North, for instance, working in bars, restaurants, cleaning services, and in various security related occupations (virtually every building has a set of doormen). If you doubled the minimum wage, for instance, all of these businesses and institutions would immediately embark on a host of labor saving initiatives and automation efforts. I am not an expert in these sorts of automation experts but can imagine people being replaced by computers, call centers handling service, and moving to self-service for customers in other instances. It is highly unlikely that they would just attempt to pass on the price increases and keep the same level of staffing; that would be economic suicide, especially with their competitors scrambling to reduce their labor expenses. Efforts that could not be automated would rise in price, which would likewise discourage consumption, until an equilibrium was reached.
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“Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges” by J. E. Dyer:
The slide toward the conditions for war – when some governments will think the price of aggression is cheap – will take time. It will wend its way through geopolitical realities that could, each one, be ameliorable, even if they aren’t footholds for a concept of the perfect. The decisive factor at each and every point will be the will, purpose, and means put together by the status quo powers. Is America one of those powers today? The reason we are where we are is that no one knows the answer to that question.
Worth reading in full, as are most of Dyer’s posts.
…because it increasingly seems that the first three digits must be One, Nine, and Three.
Kanye West says Obama’s problems with getting things done are because “Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people”…(also, “Black people don’t have the same connection as oil people.”)
New York Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio praises Al Sharpton, who was one of the primary instigators of the Crown Heights Pogrom.
Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) recently asserted that “President Obama should drop the charade of democracy and rule directly through executive orders.”
Obama-supporting protestors demand that Obama make even more use of government by executive order than he has already done.
Obama’s frontmen at Organizing for America told their members to propagandize for Obamacare at family Thanksgiving dinners. As Byron York notes, politicization of all aspects of life is a standard feature of totalitarian societies.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is one example of those “progressives” who think patriotism is all about obeisance to the government and the Leader, rather than being about love of country.
A third-grade textbook, said to be compliant with the new Common Core standards, portrays Obama with the kind of messianic iconography commonly used by totalitarian governments in praising their rulers.
It even makes a little jingle-jangle when he walks around the house.
Today, right this minute, we have a massive natural experiment in deflation going on. The demand for Bitcoin (BTC) is far outstripping any increase in supply. If this were a national currency, the central bankers would have been institutionalized for their nervous breakdowns quite some time ago. It would be front page news every day and panic would rule the airwaves.
None of this is happening with Bitcoin. BTC insiders, movers and shakers seem pleased with the increase in value for their currency and the worry is the appreciation of the currency will go away, not that it will continue. Bitcoin pessimists like Paul Krugman, not surprisingly, believe that deflation will lead to transaction collapse and hoarding. Reality, so far, disagrees with them.
I think that the problem is that nobody among the pessimists understands what BTC is for. It’s never going to be the legally mandated monopoly currency in any significant economic zone. The ethic of the BTC community works against that. This means that BTC is not competing against the US dollar, the euro, or even the renminbi.
What bitcoin does very well is create a space for moving currency without the ability for it to be stopped. That challenges national currencies in crisis that want to impose currency controls to stop money leaving their borders. You can’t stop BTC transactions without draconian controls on communications.
As a practical matter, you can’t stop a coin key from crossing borders. It also creates an incredibly small unit of currency. The smallest unit in the BTC world is the satoshi, or 0.00000001BTC. Is there any currency in the world that equals one satoshi? Until bitcoin reaches the point where its smallest transactions (looking at ads and other microtransactions) can no longer be done with single satoshis, BTC will not suffer transaction reduction to to value increase.
Current pricing would seem to imply something of a damper on BTC transaction flow when BTC rises above $100,000 USD per coin. In other words, the cheapest, cheapskate ads are offering a hundred satoshis for a second of your attention in a world where 1BTC is approximately 1,000USD. We have a long way to go before those transactions cease to be denominated in BTC. And even then, there will be prestige associated with working in BTC which will keep interest in the currency relatively high and larger transactions flowing around the $100k level. Any reduction will bring back a number of the bottom feeders from other currencies.
There are several wannabe BTC competitors waiting in the wings for the day that people want to conduct microtransactions smaller than 1 satoshi. They have established exchanges with national currencies and with BTC itself. when BTC grows in value sufficiently to give up the low end of its microtransaction market, the marketers will move on to alternatives until one of them gains enough advantage to be the next BTC.
Ultimately, BTC is about mad money for a lot of people. As an experiment, I’ve mined BTC overnight and done micro-tasks using the thing in my spare time. Since April of this year, without any impact on my productivity, I’ve gotten the price of a fairly nice night out with my wife in BTC right now. It’s a piece, but only a piece, of an emerging 21st century wallet which diversifies currency use and manages transactions both online and offline. That wallet probably won’t fully emerge for a decade at the very least and more likely will take two to really standardize but it will be the death of the ability of national currencies to live on their past reputations. People will gain the ability to react to currency foolishness much more quickly. BTC will be an important part of that technology suite.
cross posted: Flit-TM
(From 2006, in response to a then-current story on a local grade school principal cancelling a long-standing tradition of a Thanksgiving tableau enacted by the small children dressing as Pilgrims and Indians. The link to the original story is long-decayed, but in light of this particular blast, and this one from the eternally plastic Cher … well, still relevant.)
Reader Mark Rosenbaum commented on one of my historical pieces this week: “Why couldn’t they tell history this well when I was in school a half century ago?” About that same time, I ran across this story—part of the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps it might, in a small way, explain why people are not so enamored of history these days – at least, the sort of history taught in schools.
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Posted by Lexington Green on November 29th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
In our book, America 3.0, and in Daniel Hannan’s new book, Inventing Freedom we talk about the importance of Magna Carta.
Mr. Hannan gave an excellent speech about Magna Carta, entitled “The Secular Miracle of the English-speaking Peoples,” which I commend to your attention.
Posted by Lexington Green on November 28th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Posted by Lexington Green on November 28th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together into a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620
The Mayflower Compact
May God bless all our ChicagoBoyz and -Girlz, our families, our readers and their families, our friends and our enemies (turn their hearts to righteousness, O Lord!), and an extra slice of God’s love to everyone who cannot be with their family on Thanksgiving, or has no family to go to, and is noshing at home, or is on duty on land or sea, or is stuck somewhere, and may be noodling on the computer and see this … .
May God grant safe travels and happy reunions and kindness and all good things, great and small, including but not limited to turkeys not being overcooked, and the gravy coming out correctly, and nothing burnt, and everything on the table on schedule and looking and tasting good, and many willing and cheerful hands making light work of the cleanup afterward, and a nice walk in the dusk and the cold air after dinner.
Thank you Lord for this great country, still a “civil body politic” after almost 400 years, and thank you for all who took risks and made sacrifices to give us what we have. Please grant that we may we be worthy to keep it and preserve it and improve it and to pass it on even greater than it has been given to us.
God bless America.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to all Americans and happy Hannukah to all Jewish readers and contributors to this blog.
Posted by Lexington Green on November 27th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Join us for a luncheon lecture by author Michael J. Lotus about his new book, with co-author James C. Bennett, titled America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. As Mike will explain in Heartland’s library …
Our government is crushingly expensive, failing at its basic functions, and unable to keep its promises. It does not work and it cannot continue as it is. But the inevitable end of big government does not mean the end of America. It only means the end of one phase of American life.
America is poised to enter a new era of freedom and prosperity. The cultural roots of the American people go back at least 15 centuries, and make us individualistic, enterprising, and liberty-loving. The Founding generation of the United States lived in a world of family farms and small businesses, America 1.0.
This world faded away and was replaced by an industrialized world of big cities, big business, big labor unions and big government, America 2.0. Now America 2.0 is outdated and crumbling, while America 3.0 is struggling to be born. This new world will bring immense productivity, rapid technological progress, greater scope for individual and family-scale autonomy, and a leaner and strictly limited government.
This transition to America 3.0 will surprise many Americans, and astonish the world!
Don’t miss this discussion of a bright view of America’s future with a dynamic and intellectually stimulating speaker. For a preview of what you’ll hear, listen to Mike’s recent discussion about his book on the Heartland Daily Podcast: Part 1, and Part 2.
I am immensely pleased to announce this upcoming event. It is a real privilege to speak at the Heartland Institute.
Book Review – “Unintimidated – A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” by Governor Scott Walker
Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge by Scott Walker
I just received Scott Walker’s new book and went to it right away. It is an interesting look at the time in and around the Wisconsin “protests” (I use quotation marks around the word ‘protest’ intentionally).
I expected more of an autobiography of Walker, and that is really the story that I wanted. It is always interesting to me to see how the formative years of people affect how they make decisions and treat others later in life. That is not what this book is about.
What this book is about is still an interesting topic. Walker goes in depth to explain just how bad former Governor Jim Doyle had left the State of Wisconsin’s finances due to accounting tricks and other gimmicks.
More importantly, Walker takes a deep dive to explain the scam that the unions were running with their automatic withdrawals of dues, monopolistic health insurance practices, overtime abuse, and other things – and how he was going to fix it.
Walker then goes in depth to explain what it was like during the “protests” and what was going on behind the scenes. He used the term “theater of the absurd” and that really hit home. Most (all?) of the “protests” were absolutely absurd.
As I was reading the book, I had to admit that I wasn’t really learning much of anything as far as the nuts and bolts of the legislation, “protests”, senators fleeing, and all the rest were concerned. I was actually at the capitol for much of the protests and have been following all of these things daily and I knew about all of the litigation and all the rest. But what was of interest to me were the personal stories of abuse that Walker and the Republican legislators were subjected to, including their families. Also of interest was Walker’s strength that he found in God and that he never wanted to go back or apologize to anyone for anything. He was doing what he thought was right, and decided to do his best and let the chips fall.
Walker also explains in detail the campaign during his recall and that this ad turned the tide:
Walker also takes a jab at Obama for not showing up to support Barrett in the recall election.
Toward the end, Walker seems genuinely angry at the Romney campaign for bungling, well, everything and goes into detail about what he did wrong, and how these things can be corrected moving forward.
I recommend the book so you can get an inside view of what the “protests” were like here in Wisconsin a few years ago, and to understand how Walker implemented his reforms to swing the state from an enormous deficit to a surplus today. His faith is featured throughout the book and he makes no apologies for what he has done.
It is an easy to read book that won’t take you long to plow through, especially if you find the subject matter interesting as I do. I hope to see a full autobiography on him in the future. Hopefully when he is sitting in the White House.
Cross posted at LITGM.
Posted by Lexington Green on November 26th, 2013 (All posts by Lexington Green)
This conversation is available as a podcast on YouTube here. The same podcast is available in two parts on the Heartland site, part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.
Heartland’s summary of part I:
Many people on the right believe America is on a downward slope into who-knows-where. They see no signs of improvement and think the future is dire. But not Michael Lotus!
He and co-author James C. Bennett wrote a book titled, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century. The book explores the possibility of a new era in America. The new era — they call it America 3.0 — is one that is less centralized ( less “top down”), and where we operate on more of an individual scale and become ever more productive.
In this podcast, Lotus discusses the previous two American eras — 1.0 and 2.0. America 1.0 is the time from the founding of the nation until just before the Industrial Revolution, which then takes us into America 2.0. Lotus says we are now at the tail-end of 2.0, in a kind of stagnant “transitional period.”
Why are Lotus and Bennett so hopeful? Well, they think that technology develops autonomously, regardless of the government obstacles in place (which cause it to slow down, but never cease improving). Furthermore, Lotus says that we have underlying cultural foundations that are unique — such as the nuclear family — that make us more resistant to the institution of socialism.
Even the host, Jim Lakely — Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute — began to transform his pessimistic attitude by the end of his conversation with Lotus!
Heartland’s summary of part II:
With all of the government debt, and the looming liabilities like Social Security, how is it possible that in thirty-some years America will be getting better?
Michael Lotus offers up his answer in Part II of the Heartland Daily Podcast about his new book titled, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century.
Lotus is confident that as technology develops, it will provide ways for us to lower the cost of living and liberate the economy. What if we could use a 3D printer to print and assemble a house in four days?
Everything is transforming right before our eyes; the geopolitical landscape, education, and societal values, among others.
Jim Lakely, Director of Communication at The Heartland Institute, asks Lotus about the geopolitical future of the United States. They discuss the fact that our founders meant for the U.S. to be much less centralized than it is, and how — in such a large country — it’s important for different parts of the country to live as they please, with smaller units of government.
Lakely and Lotus also discuss education. Lotus believes that government is the “boulder” holding us back and he says if we move that boulder, the world would “drop its jaw” at what we could accomplish. It seems that in this part, Lotus has lifted Lakely’s pessimism … at least for now.
Big thanks to Jim Lakely for this podcast!