Musing #1339. It is always where you draw your lines
“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. […] We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” Karl Popper, —The Paradox of Tolerance
“When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” —Richard M Nixon
“A good politician…Is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.” —H. L. Mencken
“Union leaders who convince the workman that his employer is his natural enemy serve only the Marxian doctrine.” —Herbert V. Kohler
Needless to say I am in total accord with that famous curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken.
Nixon’s statement is rather disgusting, wouldn’t you agree? No sitting president or candidate would ever say such a thing, but it is my experience that all too often presidents confuse their electoral mandate with imperial authority. To his credit, I don’t think Clinton adopted that attitude. Bush and Obama seem to have taken a more Nixonian interpretation.
Political Correctness is the McCarthyism of our era. Popper’s paradox of tolerance does a good job supporting that conclusion. Often it is important to allow Truth to conquer public opinion. Political Correctness often encourages the weak to draw their lines of tolerance inappropriately.
There is a lot to be said for the virtue of being able to turn the other cheek. But Jesus was advocating behavior relevant to the hereafter. In the here and now pragmatism must often trump idealism. That is why it is very important where we draw our lines.
Maybe I was all wrong about ethanol. Maybe driving up corn prices, which in turn drives up soybean prices, etc. is really a very good thing. Maybe it is the rise in food prices that is causing citizens in the Middle East to rise up and oust corrupt regimes. The only problem is they will, in likelihood, replace the old corrupt regimes with new corrupt regimes. So it goes!
The link above is to a story about the Dutch Central Bank which is forcing a pension fund to divest most of its gold holdings because gold is a commodity and it is too volatile. To its credit the Netherlands has decriminalized pot and legalized prostitution. Those are both excellent Libertarian moves. Now they are taking one big step backward by outlawing “The barborous Relic”. Draw your own conclusions.
Certainly I would argue that gold is the only true money, representing an eternal storehouse of value.
A year or two ago I remember reading about a Dutch pensioner on disability who successfully got social services to pay for his weekly visits to the house of ill repute. Isn’t it rather sexist to pay for a male when similar services (as far as I know) are not available for needy females?
I read in Friday’s Arizona Republic that Arizona Senator John Kyl (R) will retire in January 2013 when his present term expires. It hit me that I didn’t even know his name!!! Am I an ignoramus? I knew one of my Senators was McCain, but I had no inkling who the other was. I truly don’t care about politics as it is expressed. I don’t vote. So the next time I have a political rant take that into account. I find political philosophy interesting, but I find politics to be a total waste of time and energy. I live in the world of ideas and ideals. I will leave solving the world’s problems to others who have a motivation I do not possess. That’s my confession for today!
We are in one of the most relentless bull moves in stocks in at least 40 years and perhaps longer. How long it lasts and how high it will push nobody knows for sure.
Until my last missive, written Wednesday February 9th, my take on the stock market was that it was a very dangerous market, too dangerous to be long and too dangerous to be short. On Wednesday I noted that based on most of the technical analytical tools I have used for years I had concluded that the odds were about 8:1 that the next move of 5 to 15% would be down not up.
I have been examining more data and questioning my conclusion. I still believe it to be the most likely outcome. That does not mean that I believe that this bull move is complete, just that the next move of significance is down, not up. The same class of indicators that call for a substantial decline in the short term indicate the final high for the year is still ahead of us.
As always, I recommend everyone read John Mauldin. Here is a paragraph that I found quite important:
After we look at the BIS paper, we will also look at the issues it raises and the implications for public debt. If public debt is unsustainable and the burden on government budgets is too great, what does this mean for government bonds? The inescapable conclusion is that government bonds currently are a Ponzi scheme. Governments lack the ability to reduce debt levels meaningfully, given current commitments. Because of this, we are likely to see “financial oppression,” whereby governments will use a variety of means to force investors to buy government bonds even as governments actively work to erode their real value. It doesn’t make for pretty reading, but let’s jump right in.
I hope you will be enticed to read the entire free e-letter.
I just received an invitation to my 35th reunion from NYU Law School. I have no interest in attending. It did get me to thinking. On balance has the legal profession and its various activities over the last 35 years benefited the American people and our way of life? Or has it done more damage than good?