Free Markets Are Costly; Who Should Pay for Them?

Markets are not free. They are the product of immense expenditures of land, labor, capital, and enterprise; for they cannot be maintained at any considerable scale except under conditions of good political order: laws, lawfulness, an efficient and just system for the administration of justice, the enforcement of agreements and the adjudication of disputes; safety and security (furnished by honest police and lethal warriors to deter piracy, crime, and plunder); reliable weights, measures, and media of exchange; complex financial arrangements (banking, brokering, insurance, and so forth); sophisticated transportation facilities (ports, highways, bridges, etc.); a prosperous pool of prospective customers; and the infrastructure to support all these functions (sewers, waste facilities, food, housing, and so on).

Markets do tend to form wherever people are gathered together, it is true, and no one needs to arrange for this to happen any more than languages need to be administered. But like languages, markets cannot flourish except at scale: below a certain number of participants, they wink out. And the achievement of that scale requires political order over a geographic region and a population large enough to form a profitable target market for sellers (whether foreign or domestic).

Political order is of course good for other things than markets. It is the forecondition of any civil prosperity, along any dimension: as, not just wealth, but health, sanity, sagacity, happiness, righteousness, holiness, fecundity, creativity. All these in turn feed back into the vigor and sanity of the political order, and its fitness to conditions. So they do likewise with markets, and vice versa.

Markets, in short, are expensive. Much is paid to facilitate them. Because they are not free in fact, they ought not to be available for free. They ought to be available only in exchange for payment. How ought those payments to be priced, and how collected?

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For the Love of God: Read Old Books

A few months before the US elections of 2016, my creative output cratered. I had got interested in the news, and begun to follow it. I stopped reading books, instead reading articles online. Most of them were pretty good, and I learned some interesting stuff from them. But what I learned was mostly obsolescent just a few weeks later. This is to say that it didn’t matter, and I shouldn’t have wasted my time on it.

If you want to be creative, or good, or in touch with things as they are, you simply must cut off almost all consumption of media. You must instead go for walks under the sky, read old books that don’t much pertain to our current travails, spend time in prayer, contemplation and silence, get away from the noise and the hurry of any sort, and turn your attention to heavenly things, and away from earthly things. Earthly things are all dead (this is why they vanish like chaff in the wind). Your life – your real life, your true life, the one that truly matters to you and to those whom you love (especially your children) – is hid with Christ in God. Seek it there. Seek him there.

OK: now to check up on Drudge …


Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Nunc

How do things change, yet remain themselves? It’s one of the basic philosophical problems. Things that can be discerned from each other on account of their differences are simply not the same thing. If you can’t tell two things apart no matter how closely you examine them, well then they are just the same thing. But if you can tell them apart even the least little bit, then they are just not identical: they simply *can’t* be the same thing.

Yet our experience of what it is like to be, and to become, includes the experience of changing while remaining ourselves. How?

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Truth versus the Crowd in the Work of René Girard

Girard Excellent Photo-Portrait

Born in Avignon in 1923, the late René Girard (deceased 2015) trained in Paris during the German occupation of France as a specialist curator of medieval documents; beginning in 1949 he taught in the USA as a professor-generalist in history. He would eventually arrive at a fundamental insight regarding human nature that puts him on the level with the most profound anthropological thinkers in the Western or any other tradition. The road to this insight reached across a decade and required a change of scholarly interest. Girard first made his name, after switching his scholarly focus and obtaining a doctorate in French Literature at Indiana University in 1958, as a literary critic, with his study of vanity and resentment in prose narrative called, in French, Mensonge Romantique et Vérité Romanesque (1962). Deceit Desire & the Novel studies the authorial obsession with the genesis of misery in the tendency of the human subject to acquire his desires from what he takes to be the desire, or object-of-desire, of another person. Novelistic protagonists indeed imagine that absolute being, seemingly denied to them, resides embodied in the other person so that the subject wants and attempts to become that other person. Girard had discovered in the novelists the non-originality of desire. He had also discovered—or rather, the novelists had discovered—a complex psychology and a related oblique rhetoric, the Mensonge Romantique or “Romantic Lie” of the French original, that systematically deny this non-originality of desire and claim the complete, yet miserable, sufficiency of the ego. Even more simply, Girard had discovered the centrality of mimesis or “imitation” in psychology and culture.

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Owned Government Would Tend to Lawfulness & Social Peace

Owned government would tend to good government. Stable, just law is a forecondition of prosperity, and thus of the sovereign’s revenues from his personal property in the state enterprise. So the prudent sovereign would not want his government to be capricious, or vicious. He wouldn’t want to run it as a racket. He wouldn’t try to rip off his customers, but rather do his best to give them great service.

To his subjects then would it be quite apparent that the laws their governors impose and execute are reasonable and just withal, fairly and properly enforced. They would not be unhappy with their lords, or chafe at their rule. That rule would therefore be legitimate; and the sovereign would enjoy the fealty of his subjects, and indeed their love. Their untroubled cooperation with him would follow.

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Consciousness: What is it, and Where is it Found?


This article Consciousness: What is it, and Where is it Found? published in the Sydney Traditionalist Forum offers reasons for thinking that though the brain and consciousness are frequently correlated, the brain does not actually generate consciousness. Oftentimes, the facts are not in dispute on this topic. It has more to do with their implications. When, for instance, there are cases of hydrocephalus where 95% of the brain is missing but the person has no cognitive deficits and is actually above average intelligence, the notion that brain mapping will get us very far seems slim; as does the fact of neuroplasticity where parts of the brain get repurposed after a stroke in a case of top down causation.

Placebos and nocebos seem to have mind over matter implications too and their existence was initially strongly resisted by materialist-minded scientists for that reason – meaning, they actually recognized the non-materialist possible ramifications.

Near Death Experiences also suggest that consciousness can exist without brains which is good news for anyone interested in the possibility of an afterlife. The cardiologist Pim van Lommel provides good scientific reasons for thinking that NDEs have nothing to do with residual brain activity during cardiac arrests or resuscitations. Apparently, for instance, manual manipulation of the heart during CPR is physically incapable of pumping enough blood around the body to restore consciousness, even partially.

The article ends with suggestions about the real relationship between minds and brains, and ideas about the nature and meaning of human existence.

Cur Deus Homo & Other Roman Problems: Some Quiddities

The valuable EH Looney – an orthospherean through and through, let it be noted, and so our ally and friend (witly or not), whose site I visit daily – has in a recent short post subtly erred, in three different and interesting ways. An Orthodox Christian who admires Rome with fervent intelligence, he nevertheless writes with eyes open:

The problem with Rome isn’t papal supremacy, or even the filioque, it’s that the Roman church is the cradle of nominalism. That sickness should have been condemned immediately rather than being allowed to fester long enough to create Luther and the Protestant deformation.

Also Anselm’s theory of the atonement almost totally obscures the existential nature of the paschal mystery into a legalism of the worst possible sort.

Now, there is some truth to each of these statements. Some truth; not all.

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The Old Checkout Desk, She Ain’t What She Used to Be . . .

Librarians have a lot of time on their hands nowadays, what with google searches and the internet and all.  And one suspects they have always harbored ambitions to do more than hush noisy patrons and dust neglected tomes.  Unlike Prospero in Shakespeare’s Tempest, their library was not, it seems, “dukedom large enough,” so they have gone SJW in a big way (see here). Continue reading

When the Data is Errata

You may have seen an open letter that was recently written by some indignant Black students at Claremont Colleges, a consortium of pricy schools in Los Angeles. The occasion of their letter was a planned lecture by Heather Mac Donald, in which I understand the Black Lives Matter movement will be denounced, and to the delivery of which these students are consequently opposed. The burden of their letter is that speech is Power, so power is speech, and censorship therefore enjoys Constitutional protection. Continue reading