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Avainsanapilvi, Tekijäpilvi
Oct 19, 2008
Oikea nimi
About My Library
This collection includes only books that are sitting on my shelves, staring at me. Works of history dominate, mainly modern American and world history. Reflecting my professional experience and teaching focus, diplomatic and economic studies account for sizeable shares of my collection.
About Me

Retired Foreign Service Officer and part-time university professor who still doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up. But he has some random thoughts drawn from the philosophical musings of poets and song-writers:

"The mind that is not baffled is not employed" - Wendell Berry

"I'm a loser at the top of my game" - Tom Petty

"I don't even remember what it was I came here to get away from" - Bob Dylan

"Feel like I been shot and didn't fall down" - Lucinda Williams

"The fire trucks are comin' up around the bend" - Alanis Morissette

"Oh, I know that the hypnotized never lie" - Pete Townsend

"Freedom of choice is what you got; freedom from choice is what you want" - Devo

"All the people we used to know, they're an illusion to me now" - Bob Dylan

"You could cry, or die, or just make pies all day" - Patty Griffin

"I don't share your need to discuss the absurd" - Warren Zevon

"Life teaches a lesson, again and again, best thing to be is a faithful friend" - Eric Bibb

"Everything comes and goes, pleasure moves on too early and trouble leaves too slow" - Joni Mitchell

"Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you." - Paul Simon

"There's nothing but the big forever, there's nothing but a sweet surrender now...no sensation, no temptation, no delusion, no confusion now." - Natalie Merchant

Ouch!: "It was something lacking in himself that made an attractive woman see him rather as a procuror of secondhand books than as a lover." - Barbara Pym

Three Out of Four's Not Bad: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." - Edith Wharton

Notable Quotes:

Current Problems

Economic Inequality and Political Polarization is a Moral Problem

"In psychically healthy societies, people fight over the politics of distribution: How high should taxes be? How much money should go to social programs for the poor and the elderly? We’ve shifted focus from the politics of redistribution to the politics of recognition. Political movements are fueled by resentment, by feelings that society does not respect or recognize me. Political and media personalities gin up dramas in which our side is emotionally validated and the other side is emotionally shamed. The person practicing the politics of recognition is not trying to get resources for himself or his constituency; he is trying to admire himself. He’s trying to use politics to fill the hole in his soul. It doesn’t work. The politics of recognition doesn’t give you community and connection, certainly not in a system like our current one, mired in structural dysfunction. People join partisan tribes in search of belonging—but they end up in a lonely mob of isolated belligerents who merely obey the same orthodoxy." - David Brooks, "Why Americans Are So Awful to One Another," The Atlantic (September 2023)

Does Political Polarization Have an Economic Cause?

"Economic disappointment is one of the chief explanations for the rise of left- and right-wing populism in high-income democracies. Many point instead to cultural factors: status anxiety, religious belief, or outright racism. These are indeed important background conditions. But they would not have affected societies so deeply if the economy had performed better. Furthermore, many of these supposedly cultural changes are also related to what has been happening economically: the impact of deindustrialization on the labor force and the pressures of economic migration on established populations are among the important examples. People expect the economy to deliver reasonable levels of prosperity and opportunity to themselves and their children. When it does not, relative to those expectations, they become frustrated and resentful. That is what has happened. Many people in high-income countries condemn the global capitalism of the past three or four decades for these disappointing outcomes. Instead of delivering prosperity and steady progress, it has generated soaring inequality, dead-end jobs, and macroeconomic instability. Predictably, they frequently blame this disappointment on outsiders - minorities at home and foreigners. Thus, one of the points on which populists of both left and right agree is the need to limit international trade. Many also see a need to restrict the movement of capital and workers." - Martin Wolf, The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism (2023)

So, Where Do These "Polarizing" Attitudes Come From?

"The post-Civil War years made Americans define the nation around a peculiar 'middle-class' ideology. Hardworking Americans, it seemed, held the great middle against disaffected Americans and unscrupulously wealthy businessmen. While both these outlying special interests seemed to want to hijack the government - and sometimes did - their opponents demanded that the government benefit everyone at once in an evenhanded system that promoted individualism. Since it was the government's job to help Americans, they believed it was the government's job to promote their way of life. It never occurred to them that they, themselves, might be a special interest. 'Special interests,' they thought, were organized groups that demanded government intervention in society to advance their own particular benefit. Organized labor, big businessmen, African American activists, certain women's rights activists, agrarian groups - all seemed to strike at the heart of America's unique individualism by trying to reduce God's beneficent world to one of struggling interests fighting over a finite set of benefits. If they succeeded in controlling the government, they would create the very limitations mainstream Americas feared, for government benefits would make the lazy stop working while the productive took their abilities elsewhere to keep from being bled dry by taxes. But legislation benefiting the great middle seemed to help the nation as a whole. It enabled more people then ever before to join the ranks of the middle class. It meant better working conditions and more oversight of the workplace. It meant a check on the power of employers. It meant better wages and some financial protection for workplace injury. As the economy rebounded from the depression of the mid-1890s and maintained a healthy level of growth in the early twentieth century, more and more workers identified with the vision of individualism that promised them upward mobility. The belief that labor and capital were naturally at odds lost ground to the idea that individuals could make it on their own...

The late nineteenth century defined modern America. Fewer than forty years separated the presidency of [Theodore] Roosevelt from that Abraham Lincoln, but it is impossible to imagine the two exchanging eras. Lincoln took the country into the Civil War to protect the idea that opportunity should be open to any man - no matter his race or background. By the time Roosevelt moved into the White House in 1901, the nation had reunited, but its principles were no longer inclusive. Instead of offering a hand to the poor and disenfranchised, government dedicated itself to advancing the interests of a new, economically powerful middle class, one that was largely white and unwilling to include in its ranks people of color, the needy, or other 'special interests.' As their enthusiastic support for the Spanish-American War demonstrated, American entered the twentieth century so secure in the values of middle-class individualism that united them that they believed it was their duty to impose those values beyond their borders. From 1865 to 1901, Lincoln's widespread egalitarian vision evolved into a middle-class American dream...

Americans' dislike of 'special interests' controlling government has meant that twentieth-century politics...swung between, on the one hand, opposition to businessmen controlling government and, on the other, a dislike of those laborers, immigrants, advocates for women's rights, and minority activists who call for government protection. During the Progressive Era, the Depression, and the sixties and seventies, Americans protested the businessmen who unfairly stacked the economic deck in their own favor through ties to the government. In these eras, Americans created legislation to protect individuals, disdained business leaders, emphasized government corruption, and worked to curb the power of the wealthy. In the twenties, the fifties, and the conservative revolution of the late twentieth century the pendulum swung the other way, as middle-class Americans argued that the poor refused to work, that calls for women's rights threatened the fabric of society, and that 'liberals' calling for legislation to address racial, economic, and gender inequalities were attacking the individualism that made America great...

At the turn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt exploded into national prominence as a man who would bring mainstream equality back to America, endorsing western values of individualism and sweeping away special interests at both ends of the economic spectrum that sucked up taxes from those doing the real work of the country. With Roosevelt, the cowboy came to maturity as the symbol of the nation. But the image of the American cowboy has always had two sides. It contains the great hope of American equality of opportunity, of a world where anyone can rise and where no one has special privileges. But it also contains the deliberate repression of anyone identifying racial, gender, or economic inequalities in society, as well as a dangerously self-righteous expansionism. Both sides of the cowboy represent America; both define our nation."  - Heather Cox Richardson, West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War (2007)

The Argument for Free Trade: Economic or Strategic?

"We live in a world of very open markets, but that didn’t have to happen, and it doesn’t have to persist. We didn’t get here because of inexorable economic logic: Globalization can and has gone into retreat for extended periods when it loses policy support. Nor did we get here because economists persuaded politicians that free trade is good. Instead, the current world order largely reflects strategic considerations: Leaders, especially in the United States, believed that more or less free trade would make the world more amenable to our political values and safer for us as a nation. But now even relatively internationalist policymakers, like officials in the Biden administration, aren’t sure about that." - Paul Krugman, "World Trade Equals World Peace?," New York Times (December 13, 2022)

An Excellent Question; Deserves an Answer

"Today, nearly half of the states have voting restrictions targeted at reducing the share of Black votes. A majority of US Supreme Court justices pretend to believe that these are partisan restrictions imposed by Republican Party legislators to give them a edge over the Democratic Party in the next election, rather than racist restrictions to keep Black men and women down. But considering the ugly reality of American political history even in the later decades of the long twentieth century [1870-2010], this is not that surprising; this was a time, after all, when a Republican Party standard-bearer (Ronald Reagan) referred to diplomats from Tanzania as 'monkeys from those African countries,' and an economic policy standard-bearer (the University of Chicago's George Stigler) damned Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders for their 'growing insolence.' Plus there is the question that Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices do not ask: If a political party goes all-in to attract bigots, is it then unbigoted to attempt to suppress the votes of those who are repelled by that political strategy?" - J. Bradford DeLong, Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (2022)

How Did We Lose The Idea of the Common Good?:

"Hostile responses to labor activism in New York [beginning in the 1870s] reflected the larger ideological shift in the Gilded Age...among middle- and upper-class Americans to turn from traditional republican values of mutuality, obligation, and the common good to a laissez-faire republicanism celebrating individualism, freedom of contract, and private property rights. New York in this era played a key role in promoting this ideological shift and an attendant formation of a bourgeois class identity and class solidarity on a national scale.... New York elites...became more assertive in pursuing their class interests, uniting behind a program of lower taxes, fiscal retrenchment, and disenfranchisement.... In struggles with their employees, they shed any remaining pretensions to antebellum paternalism and embraced the language of laissez-faireism to denounce strikes and celebrate freedom of contract and the unchangeable 'laws' of the market. And, reflecting a growing hostility towards and fear of the 'dangerous classes,' they demanded larger police and militia forces.... From 1874 until the 1890s, tensions and violence between police and labor in New York escalated steadily. Little wonder that virtually every New York working-class leader...harkened back to January 13, 1874 [the Tompkins Square police riot] as the moment they began to question the republican notion of America as essentially a classless society and instead see themselves as members of a distinct and besieged class."   - Edward T. O'Donnell, Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality (2015)

Sound Familiar? Social Darwinism Rides Again!:

"[Humanitarians and philanthropists] see wealth and poverty side by side. They note great inequality of social position and social chances. They eagerly set about the attempt to account for what they see, and to devise schemes for remedying what they do not like. In their eagerness to recommend the less fortunate classes to pity and consideration, they forget all about the rights of other classes, they gloss over the faults of the classes in question, and they exaggerate their misfortunes and their virtues. They invent new theories of property, distorting rights and perpetuating injustice, as anyone is sure to do who sets about the readjustment of social relations with the interests of one group distinctly before his mind, and the interests of all other groups thrown into the background. When I have read certain of these discussions, I have thought that it must be disreputable to be respectable, quite dishonest to own property, quite unjust to go one's own way and earn one's own living, and that the only really admirable person was the good-for-nothing." - William Graham Sumner, What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883)

Still True, Even After the End of the Cold War:

"We are a people used to looking at the world, and indeed at ourselves, in moralistic rather than empirical terms. We are predisposed to regard any confilct as a clash between good and evil rather than as simply a clash between confiicting interests. We are inclined to confuse freedom and democracy, which we regard as moral principles, with the way in which they are practiced in America--with capitalism, federalism, and the two-party system, which are not moral principles but simply the preferred and accepted practices of the American people. There is much cant in American moralism and not a little inconsistency."
- J. William Fulbright, "Foreign Policy - Old Myths and New Realities" (March 25, 1964)

Does GOP stand for "Grab Overwhelming Power"?:

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power...We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing...We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."
- George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

The Warning We Failed to Heed:

"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally...The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty."
- George Washington, "Farewell Address" (September 19, 1796)

Where It All Started:

"Free-market conservatives took the nightmarish fears inspired by anticommunism [in the 1950s] and turned them against the entire liberal state, making it seem as though the minimum wage and labor unions were about to usher in a new era of political enslavement. No spies were needed, no conscious treachery - the logic of liberalism itself was the threat. They used the shadow of Communist danger to bolster their case that dismantling the welfare state was a crusade for freedom. Years after McCarthy had been repudiated, they continued to fight for the market using the tropes they had developed when anticommunism was at its zenith."
- Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (2009)

Where the Politics of Anger and Grievance Was Launched:

"Reagan's greatest political achievement was to reconcile a politics focused on restoring white supremacy and godliness with his own neoliberal market orientation, with its emphasis on personal freedom and antagonism to the New Deal state. He did so by telling white southerners that the changes in American life that they loathed had been facilitated by a party of big government - the Democrats - that was strangling the cherished liberties of white Americans...Reagan's genius was to hang a giant scarlet letter around the neck of the federal government, identifying it as a tyrannical force that had violated the freedoms Americans regarded as their birthright: to worship God in public; to hire the employees they desired; to live among people of their own race; and to send their children to the neighborhood school without fear that they would be bussed, for the sake of racial justice, to another school many miles away. Take away the regulatory power that the central state had amassed to itself during the over-reaching days of the New Deal and the Great Society, Reagan argued, and the social engineering initiatives of the federal government would simply collapse. The God-given liberties of Americans on matters of race, religion, and employment would then be quickly restored. Reagan, seemingly, had found a way to draw on conservative racial and religious fury to propel his anti-government, neoliberal agenda. That was quite a feat."
- Gary Gerstle, The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order (2022) 

The Corporate Dilemma:

"Unbridled corporate power has been a factor behind the rise of populism, especially rightwing populism. Consider how one goes about persuading people to accept [Milton] Friedman’s libertarian economic ideas. In a universal-suffrage democracy, it is really difficult. To win, libertarians have had to ally themselves with ancillary causes — culture wars, racism, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia and nationalism. Much of this has of course been sotto voce and so plausibly deniable.

The 2008 financial crisis, and the subsequent bailout of those whose behaviour caused it, made selling a deregulated free-market even harder. So, it became politically essential for libertarians to double down on those ancillary causes. Mr Trump was not the person they wanted: he was erratic and unprincipled, but he was the political entrepreneur best suited to winning the presidency. He has given them what they most wanted: tax cuts and deregulation."
- Martin Wolf, "Milton Friedman was Wrong on the Corporation," Financial Times (December 8, 2020)

Economic Insecurity and the American Worker:

"The problem was the rest of the world's voracious demand for dollar-denominated assets. In addition to inflating the mortgage debt bubble [in the 2000s], overabundant foreign financing also savaged America's terms of trade as trillions of dollars of uneconomic asset purchases distorted the U.S. exchange rate. Between the start of 1997 - the eve of the Asian financial crisis - and the beginning of 2002, the dollar appreciated by more than 20 percent against the currencies of its trading partners. While the dollar declined from then until 2008, it consistently remained far above its 1988-96 average. To the misfortune of American workers, the overvaluation of the dollar meant that American consumers would prefer to buy goods made abroad at the expense of domestic manufacturing.

The rest of the world's unwillingness to spend - which in turn was attributable to the class wars in the major surplus economies [e.g., China, Germany] and the desire for self-insurance [by holding dollar-denominated reserves] after the Asian crisis - was the underlying cause of both America's debt bubble and America's deindustrialization. Foreign financial inflows forced Americans to absorb their glut of manufacturing capacity at the expense of U.S. jobs and incomes. This necessarily required foreign savers to mitigate the impact of job losses on American spending by buying dollar-denominated assets, which pushed down interest rates, expanded credit, and facilitated a surge in [U.S.] household borrowing."

A careful study in 2017 by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York...summarized it: 'The displacement of domestic production by imports fueled demand for credit' to substitute for lost wages."
- Matthew C. Klein & Michael Pettis, Trade Wars are Class Wars: How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace (2020)

Trade Wars I: "Military language, containing expressions such as 'economic front' and 'defensive positions,' is especially inappropriate to the analysis of problems of international trade and of division of labor between countries....It suggests that a 'front' of economic conflict lies always between two countries, whereas in reality the conflict is between groups having different interests within each country."
- Gottfried Haberler, The Theory of International Trade with Its Applications to Commercial Policy (1936)

Trade Wars II: "It may be tempting to conclude that America has paid too high a price for China’s entry into the global trading system...A more helpful conclusion is that politicians should take more care to equip workers labouring far from the innovation frontier to adapt to shocks to their industries — from import competition or anywhere else...Cranking tariffs up or down may offer politicians the temporary sense that they can control foreign competition, but the costs of protection will be borne elsewhere in the economy, largely unseen. And the world will meanwhile move on regardless."
- The Economist (March 7, 2019)

Fiscal Policy: "A strong case can be made that World War II, however devastating in terms of deaths and casualties among the American military (albeit much less than the greater toll of deaths and wounded among other combatants), nevertheless represented an economic miracle that rescued the American economy from the secular stagnation of the late 1930s. In fact...the case is overwhelming for the 'economic rescue' interpretation of World War II along every conceivable dimension, from education and the GI Bill to the deficit-financed mountain of household saving that gave a new middle class the ability to purchase the consumer durables made possible by the Second Industrial Revolution."
- Robert J. Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (2016)

Social Policy: "The most important negative feature of American exceptionalism was the inability of the political system to adopt universal health insurance, defined as insurance that is a right of citizenship rather than being dependent on employment. Why should households suffering from devastating loss of income through unemployment also lose services to prevent diseases and ultimately death? Bismarck figured out this greatest of all economic policy issues in the 1880s, but even now an efficient system of the provision of medical care as a right of citizenship has thus far eluded the American political system."
- Robert J. Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (2016)

Inequality: "For me, the most maddening failure of the liberal elite was that too many of its members became indifferent to the declining share of corporate income devoted to wages. By the early 1980s, you could see clear evidence of their growing interest in accumulating wealth for themselves, of their focus on corporate profits that would pay them dividends and increase the value of their stocks; 'Wall Street Week' soared to popularity on PBS - it was the 'Downton Abbey' of its time. Profits have increased since the 1980s, yet wages have stagnated."
- Charles Peters, "I Remember When Appalachia Wasn't Trump Country" (New York Times, March 4, 2017)

Housing: "The fact that, under free market conditions, better quarters go to those who have larger incomes or more wealth is, if anything, simply a reason for taking long-term measures to reduce the inequality of income and wealth. For those, like us, who would like even more equality than there is at present, not alone for housing but for all products, it is surely better to attack directly existing inequalities in income and wealth at their source than to ration each of the hundreds of commodities and services that compose our standard of living. It is the height of folly to permit individuals to receive unequal money incomes and then take elaborate and costly measures [e.g., rent controls] to prevent them from using their incomes."
- Milton Friedman & George Stigler, "Roofs or Ceilings? The Current Housing Problem," Popular Essays on Current Problems 1, no. 2 (1946)

The 'Free Market' Fetish: "The neoliberal vision of globalization was that a system based on individual freedom, free markets, and the opportunities provided by 'flexible labor markets' [i.e., elimination of trade unions] would substitute for universal high-quality publicly funded education and health care systems, more efficient and cheaper privatized alternatives. The citizen was nothing more than a consumer. But neoliberals...abandoned any attempt to account for the possibility, let alone likelihood, of market failure in key social policy areas such as education, housing, or health. The losers were labeled, by conservative politicians on both side of the Atlantic, welfare moms, dole-scroungers, or indigent free riders. At the same time, the language of profit, efficiency, and consumption replaced that of citizenship, solidarity, and service. In the United States, Obama's health care reforms were prevented by the Tea Party nihilists from including any kind of public option capable of reducing the sometimes corrupt and universally escalating costs of private health care. Dominated by free market gospel, the irony of this brave new world was that it produced everything conservative politicians hated: insecurity, social, sexual and cultural changes, violence, and the collapse of community."
- Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (2012)

Political Dialogue: "Although [John Maynard Keynes] believed in rational argument, he also believed that 'words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking'."
- George C. Peden, "Keynes and British Economic Policy," The Cambridge Companion to Keynes (2006)

Politics and Society

Do Property Rights Always Trump Other Rights?: "Friedrich von Hayek always cautioned against listening to the siren song that we should seek justice rather than mere productivity and abundance. We needed to bind ourselves to the mast. Interference in the market, no matter how well-intentioned when it started would send us into a downward spiral. It would put us on a road to, well, some industrial-age variant of serfdom. But Karl Polanyi responded that such an attitude was inhuman and impossible: People firmly believed, above all else, that they had other rights more important than and prior to the property rights that energized the market economy. They had rights to a community that gave them support, to an income that gave them the resources they deserved, to economic stability that gave them consistent work. And when the market economy tried to dissolve all rights other than property rights? Watch out!" - J. Bradford DeLong, Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century (2022)

The Fundamental Flaw of Laissez-Faire or Free Market Ideology I: "Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence. The government and laws hinder the poor from ever acquiring the wealth by violence which they would otherwise exert on the rich; they tell them they must either continue poor or acquire wealth in the same manner as they have done." - Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762)

The Fundamental Flaw of Laissez-Faire or Free Market Ideology II: "The man who wrongly holds that every human right is secondary to his profit must now give way to the advocate of human welfare, who rightly maintains that every man holds his property subject to the general right of the community to regulate its use to whatever degree the public welfare may require it." - Theodore Roosevelt, "The New Nationalism" (1910)

The Fundamental Flaw of Laissez-Faire or Free Market Ideology III: "The rugged individualist may have imagined that in economic life he was the person that God and his own will had made. But in fact he was a juristic creature of the law that happened to prevail in his epoch."
- Walter Lippmann, The Good Society (1937)

The Modern Perils of Democratic Idealism: "The people as a body have always honest views - they therefore never do wrong, but through delusion. The moment their delusion is removed, they return to principles of order, and leave their deceivers in the lurch." [But what if "the people" insist on clinging to "delusion" contrary to reason and evidence?]
- Noah Webster, American Minerva, September 17, 1795

On the Absurdity of 'Originalism':

"Had the [Constitutional] Convention attempted a positive enumeration of the powers necessary and proper for carrying their other powers into effect; the attempt would have involved a complete digest of laws on every subject to which the Constitution relates; accommodated too not only to the existing state of things, but to all possible changes which futurity may produce: For in every new application of a general power, the particular powers, which are the means of attaining the object of the general power, must always necessarily vary with that object; and be often properly varied whilst the object remains the same.

Had they attempted to enumerate the particular powers or means, not necessary or proper for carrying the general powers into execution, the task would have been no less chimerical; and would have been liable to this further objection; that every defect in the enumeration, would have been equivalent to a positive grant of authority...

Had the Constitution been silent on this head, there can be no doubt that all the particular powers, requisite as means of executing the general powers, would have resulted to the government, by unavoidable implication. No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorised; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it, is included."
- Publius [James Madison], The Federalist No. 44 (January 25, 1788)

"It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since and the rule simply persists through blind imitation of the past." - Oliver Wendall Holmes Jr., "The Path of Law," Lapham's Quarterly (1897)

"Strict construction [now known as 'originalism']...is in a special sense the resort of persons under ideological strain. It represents a willingness to renounce a range of positive opportunities for action in return for a principle which will inhibit government from undertaking a range of things one does not approve of. It marks the point at which one prefers to see the Constitution not as a sanction for achieving one's own ends but as a protection against the designs of others which have come to be seen as usurping and corrupting."
- Stanley Elkins & and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800 (1993)

It was ever thus: "The greatest difficulty lies, in setting a huge massy body in motion. To point out to mankind their real interest, is easy enough; but to convince them of their duty, and to persuade those who are activated by different views, and subject to different passions, to lay aside their prejudices, to give up a strong attachment to their immediate interests, and to act in mutual concert, for the good of the whole, is an arduous task."
- "Libertas at Natale Solum," South-Carolina Gazette (August 20, 1770)

We live in a republic, not a democracy (I): “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
- Edmund Burke (1774)

We live in a republic, not a democracy (II): "[At the Constitutional Convention in July 1787] the commentary on the issue of property qualifications for voting and public service from many of the most ardent supporters of the new government - Governeur Morris, Charles Pinckney, John Rutledge, and, on occasion, Madison - displays in striking fashion the fear and distrust with which many of the Founding Fathers regarded the common people. They believed they were creating a republic, not a democracy, and most of the wealthy and privileged men serving in the Convention were convinced that true republican government depended on a virtuous, property-owning citizenry...One of the great fears motivating them as they created a new continental government was that a tyrannical majority of propertyless citizens might combine to render the rights of property insecure."
- Richard Beeman, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (2009)

A 'conservative' view of democracy: "[Economist Joseph] Schumpeter advanced one of the first procedural definitions of democracy [1942]: 'Democracy is a political method, that is to say, a certain type of institutional arrangement for arriving at political - legislative and administrative - decisions and hence incapable of being an end in itself, irrespective of what decisions it will produce under given historical conditions.' Democracy is a means, not an end in itself. It works through competitions among elites for support rather than through mass participation. The minimal act of voting is therefore the proper form of popular involvement, meaning democracy should be representative and not direct. Schumpeter inspired countless scholars from Gabriel Almond to Raymond Aron in their elite theories of democracy, which verged on theories of aristocracy."
- Janek Wasserman, The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas (2019)

The 'intellectual' basis of conservatism: "National Review [published by William F. Buckley, Jr.] rode an impressive postwar tide of conservative intellectual work....They believed that the bulwark of any civilization was not industry or riches or men under arms, but ideas. The West was imperiled because it was infected by error: by materialism, in the philosophical sense of the word, believing the world to be wholly composed of ordinary physical matter and valuing physical well-being as an ultimate end. And materialism's handmaids: humanism and egalitarianism, which assumed man had unlimited power to order his own world; pragmatism, which said whatever worked was right; and utopianism, the doomed attempt to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. The offenders were both Democrats ([John F.] Kennedy: 'Our problems are man-made; they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants') and Republicans ([Nelson] Rockefeller: The ideal politician 'goes in and says, "I want to find out what the facts are." Then he adapts his program and his approach to the realities.') It was the political waters America was swimming in - a swamp, Buckley's acolytes thought."
- Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001)

"Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses."
- H.L. Mencken

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."
- Ascribed to Bertrand Russell

Ever wonder where Howard Roark came from?: "[Ludwig von] Mises's most controversial assertion [about economics] was his insistence on the a priori quality of the praxeological axiom: 'Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are, like those of logic and mathematics, a priori. They are not subject to verification or falsification on the ground of experience and facts'.... Mises's elevation of economics to the status of logic had great seductive power. If all of Mises's economic assertions could be deduced from his core tenet - 'Human action is purposeful behavior' - then decisions that impeded the smooth functioning of human action violated scientific law and human will."
- Janek Wasserman, The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas (2019)

"In a dying civilization, political prestige is the reward not of the shrewdest diagnostician, but of the man with the best bedside manner. It is the decoration conferred on mediocrity by ignorance."
- Eric Ambler, The Mask of Dimitrios (1939)

"Simple minds understand the simple language of the victorious sword much more easily than they can grasp the cautious word with which the pen slowly binds together the results of claim and counterclaim, of compromise and concession. And simple minds are always in the majority."
- Erich Eyck, A History of the Weimar Republic (1962)

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
- Louis D. Brandeis (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 1916-1939)

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
- Robert Hanlon

"'Relativism' is the view that every belief on a certain topic, or perhaps about any topic, is as good as every other. No one holds this view. Except for the occasional cooperative freshman, one cannot find anybody who says that two incompatible opinions on an important topic are equally good."
- Richard Rorty, The Consequences of Pragmatism (1982)

"Democracy, to me, is liberty plus economic security. To put it in plain language, we Americans want to talk, pray, think as we please - and eat regular."
- Rep. Maury Maverick, D-TX (1937)

"Because the United States has preserved its Constitution in aspic, it continues to run its politics based on assumptions current in the 18th century rather than the 21st century, with rank and privilege continuing to be politically very important."
- Trevor Burnard, "An Infatuation with Titles: Hereditary Privilege and Liberty in the Era of the American Revolution," Historically Speaking 13, no. 2 (2012)

"The rights of mankind are simple. They require no learning to unfold them. They are better felt, than explained. Hence in matters that relate to liberty, the mechanic and the philosopher, the farmer and the scholar, are all upon a footing. But the case is widely different with respect to government. It is a complicated science, and requires abilities and knowledge of a variety of other subjects, to understand it."
- Benjamin Rush, "To the Freemen of the United States," Pennsylvania Gazette (1787)

"Business elements [in the 1890s] kept alive the antigovernment sentiment, [sociologist Lester Frank] Ward contended, not because they believed in laissez faire but because they feared that if the laissez-faire philosophy were abandoned, government would consider the unequal distribution of wealth, which was the greatest evil of society, as within its purview and, in coping with this problem, would trench on the domain of those who benefited most from the status quo. When big business cried paternalism, it was therefore merely referring to government action that would recognize the claim of the 'defenseless laborer and artisan' to a share of the state protection afforded business." [Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose]
- Sidney Fine, Laissez Faire and the General-Welfare State (1956)

"Nothing in the history of American business justifies undue confidence on the part of the American public that it can trust big business to take care of the community without supervision, regulation or eternal vigilance."
- Jacob Viner, Founding Father of "Chicago Economics," Speech to Williamstown Institute of Politics (1931)

"Businessmen have a different set of delusions from politicians; and need, therefore, different handling. They are, however, much milder than politicians, at the same time allured and terrified by the glare of publicity, easily persuaded to be 'patriots,' perplexed, bemused, indeed terrified, yet only too anxious to take a cheerful view, vain perhaps but very unsure of themselves, pathetically responsive to a kind word. You could do anything you liked with them, if you would treat them (even the big ones), not as wolves and tigers, but as domestic animals by nature, even though they have been badly brought up and not trained as you would wish. It is a mistake to think that they are more immoral than politicians. If you work them into the surly, obstinate, terrified mood, of which domestic animals, wrongly handled, are so capable, the nation's burdens will not get carried to the market; and in the end public opinion will veer in their way."
-John Maynard Keynes, letter to FDR (February 1938)

"For if you teach a people for ten years that the character of its government is not greatly important, that political success is for those who equivocate and evade, and if you tell them that acquisitiveness is the ideal, that things are what matter, that Mammon is God, then you must not be astonished at the confusion in Washington…. It is not only against the material consequences of this decade of drift and hallucination, but against the essence of its spirit that the best and bravest among us are today in revolt."
- Walter Lippmann, New York Herald Tribune (May 20, 1932)

"Our danger is neither from 'radicalism' or 'conservatism' but from incoherence and paralysis. What we have to fear is the inability of the government to determine policies and execute them…. For we are suffering not from tyranny but from weakness, not from evil purposes but from confused purposes, not from stupidity but from impotence."
- Walter Lippmann, New York Herald Tribune (July 19, 1932)

Economic Arguments

The Futility of Trade Protection

"If import barriers were so ineffective [in the 1980s, because they did not address the real causes of falling employment in manufacturing], why were they so often used? They arose as a second-best response to the inability or unwillingness of the president or Congress to adjust the underlying macroeconomic policies that were responsible for the strong dollar and the large trade deficit. The reality was that trade policies alone could do little to make the adjustment process less painful as long as the dollar continued to strengthen. Trade protection may have bought some firms more time to adjust, but ultimately it did not prevent large employment losses in labor-intensive industries [e.g., steel and textiles and apparel]. The main reason that most trade-sensitive industries began to perform better was that the economy began to recover in 1983, and the dollar began to depreciate in 1985. Trade protection played a very limited role in helping these industries, but it often imposed large costs on consumers...

The Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) protecting the textile and apparel industry was the single most costly trade intervention of this period...The main purpose of the MFA [quota restrictions], as with other import restrictions, was to slow the loss of jobs in the industry. Most estimates suggested that the MFA kept domestic employment in the textile and apparel industry higher than it otherwise wold have been by about two hundred and fifty thousand jobs - about 10-15 percent of industry employment. Import restrictions could not stop the loss of jobs due to technological change; indeed, most of the fall in employment during this period was due to productivity improvements and the shift to more capital-intensive production methods, not declining output due to imports...The import restrictions were being used to save very poor jobs: average hourly earnings in the apparel and non-rubber footwear industries were among the lowest in all of manufacturing. The consumer cost of protection per job saved, which measured the total loss to consumers divided by the number of jobs saved in the protected industry, was more than $100,000 for industries in which the average worker earned perhaps $12,000 annually...

In 1984, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was asked to evaluate the economic consequences of proposed legislation that would impose a five-year quota on imported steel that would cap the foreign market share at 15 percent. The CBO estimated that the quotas would raise the price of imported steel by 24-34 percent, increase domestic production by 6 percent, and boost steel industry employment by 6-8 percent. However, by increasing the average price of steel by 10 percent (both domestic and imported), the quotas would reduce domestic steel consumption by 4-5 percent and lead to employment losses in steel-consuming industries that would roughly offset the employment gains in the steel industry. The fact that trade protection would not result in a net gain in employment (since it was an intermediate good used by other industries) was a strike against it. Furthermore...the large, integrated steel producers had to fend off the rapidly rising market share of the small but efficient domestic mini-mills. The mini-mills had much lower costs than the integrated producers because they could process scrap metal instead of forging it from raw materials...The mini-mills were...responsible for the dramatic increase in the steel industry's productivity in the 1980s and 1990s. While the industry lost about 75 percent of its workforce between 1962 and 2005, about four hundred thousand workers, shipments of steel were roughly the same in the two years, meaning that output per worker rose by a factor of five. Thus, steel producers would have faced massive restructuring even in the absence of foreign competition." - Douglas A. Irwin, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy (2017)

The Failure of the Domestic Political Response to Globalization

"Responding to a more competitive global economy has been one of the great challenges facing political leaders in the United States for the past half century. While there are many critics of globalization, the problem is not globalization itself; indeed, given technological advances and the aspirations of poorer countries across the world, growing global trade and investment were both inevitable and desirable. US leadership in building the rules for global commerce is one of the great success stories of the past fifty years. The problem has been the domestic political response to globalization, which in too many ways has been deeply irresponsible. A central task of any government is to provide the tools to help people to adjust and succeed in the face of economic change, but the story of the last half century has instead been the failure by governments to ease that adjustment. America's political leadership, weighted down by habits of a country that had been nearly self-sufficient and highly competitive in the few things it did trade, has done far too little to help Americans make the adjustment. Rather than thinking carefully about the competitive implications of growing trade and the freer flow of investment dollars - trying to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs - Washington has left most Americans to fend for themselves. Some have flourished in the more competitive global economy, but far too many have not." - Edward Alden, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy (2017)

"Maximum wealth, badly distributed, does not lead to maximum happiness."
- Guido Calabresi, "The New Economic Analysis of Law: Scholarship, Sophistry, or Self-Indulgence?", Proceedings of the British Academy 68 (1982)

"I experienced at first hand the evolution of macroeconomics from literary exposition - where propositions seemed plausible but never completely convincing - into a mathematical discipline - where propositions were logically convincing but never completely plausible."
- Mervyn King, The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy (2016)

"Too large a proportion of recent 'mathematical' economics are merely concoctions, as imprecise as the inital assumptions they rest on, which allow the author to lose sight of the complexities and interdepencies of the real world in a maze of pretentious and unhelpful symbols."
- John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936)

"[Milton] Friedman published a detailed overview of his approach to economic analysis in his essay 'The Methodology of Positive Economics' (1953)...Crucially, the validity of a hypothesis was to be determined solely by its predictive capacity, and not by the conformity of its assumptions with our understanding of reality. The most elegant and valuable theories would present a simplistic mechanism to generate consistently successful predictions for the behavior of vastly more complicated sets of data...Friedman's emphasis on the necessary descriptive simplification entailed in the act of generating hypotheses reinvigorated the embattled theory of perfect competition. Economists had long struggled against the descriptive inaccuracies [of the theory]...its atomistic and coldly calculating vision of human activity utterly failed to explain many self-evident aspects of intersocial behavior. To Friedman, the individual falsities were beside the point, because the only criterion to use in evaluating the theory that individuals 'single-mindedly' seek to maximize their 'money income' was its relative capacity to predict successfully when confronted with aggregate data. Friedman's distinction between a theory's descriptive and predictive capacities helped justify economists' use of an abstract theory that appeared, when applied to individual cases, to be manifestly untrue."
- Angus Burgin, The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression (2012)

"One way to think about economic models is as fables...They are simple and are set in abstract environments. They make no claim to realism for many of their assumptions. While they seem to be populated by real people and firms, the behavior of the principal characters is drawn in highly stylized form. Inanimate objects ('random shocks,' 'exogenous parameters,' 'nature') often feature in the model and drive the action. The story line revolves around clear cause-and-effect, if-then relationships. And the moral - or policy implication, as economists call it - is typically quite transparent: free markets are efficient, opportunistic behavior in strategic interactions can leave everyone worse off, incentives matter, and so on."
- Dani Rodrik, Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science (2015)

"The point is to realize that economic models are metaphors, not truth. By all means express your thoughts in models, as pretty as possible…. But always remember that you may have gotten the metaphor wrong, and that someone else with a different metaphor may be seeing something that you are missing."
- Paul Krugman, "How I Work" (New York Times, July 5, 2013)

"If the right stylized facts can be used as a basis for theory, and theorists have good indications of the relative quantitative importance of various phenomena, it is clearly far more likely that the theory itself can make a useful contribution."
(Translation: Theories based on reality seem to be more realistic and useful.)
- Anne O. Krueger, "Trade Policy and Economic Development: How We Learn" (1997)

"Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful."
- George E. P. Box & Norman R. Draper, Empirical Model Building and Response Surfaces (1987)

"The advance of behavioral economics is not fundamentally in conflict with mathematical economics, as some seem to think, though it may well be in conflict with some currently fashionable mathematical economic models."
- Robert J. Shiller, Is Economics a Science? (2013)

"The prevailing emphasis on mathematical and logical rigor has given economics an internal consistency that is missing in other social sciences. But there is little value in being consistently wrong."
- John Quiggen, Zombie Economics (2010)

"To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences."
- Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014)

"The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding triumphs of laissez-faire capitalism, which is not surprising if I am right in thinking that the best brains of Wall Street have been in fact directed towards a different object."
- John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936)

"Keynes was a great and important man. But it is possible to describe the evolution of fiscal policy in America up to 1940 without reference to him. And yet, by the outbreak of the war a large part of the fiscal revolution had already occurred. It was accepted policy that we would run deficits in depressions, that we would not raise taxes in depressions in an attempt to balance the budget, and that in severe depressions we would raise expenditures, at least for relief and probably for recovery. We no longer believed that depressions were necessarily short and self-terminating, and we did not think depression deficits, even if fairly large and prolonged, would lead to national bankruptcy. Keynes helped this policy and these attitudes to emerge...but he was not indispensable for their emergence."
- Herbert Stein, The Fiscal Revolution in America (1969)

"A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like tax would be on a small fortune. No advantage comes either to the country as a whole or to the individuals inheriting the money by permitting the transmission in their entirety of the enormous fortunes which would be affected by such a tax; and as an incident to its function of revenue raising, such a tax would help to preserve a measurable equality of opportunity for the people of the generations growing to manhood."
- President Theodore Roosevelt (1907)

"But the best state for human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear from being thrust back, by the efforts of others to push themselves forward."
- John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (1886)

"Economists have to start innocent of all distracting ideas. They have to have minds sufficiently empty to construct or accept those axiomatic models of human behavior that are their bread and butter. Late adolescence is the ideal time to start such a training."
- Robert & Edward Skidelsky, How Much is Enough? (2012)

"Society refuses to turn itself into a giant vending machine that delivers anything and everything in return for the proper number of coins. When members of my [economics] profession sometimes lose sight of this principle, they invite the nastiest definition of an economist: the person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Society needs to keep the market in its place. The domain of rights is part of the checks and balances on the market designed to preserve values that are not denominated in dollars. For the same reasons that an investor holds many different stocks and bonds in his portfolio, society diversifies its mechanisms for distribution and allocation. It won't put all of its eggs in the market's basket."
- Arthur M. Okun, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff (1975)

"It is not human beings who need adapting to the market; it is the marketplace that needs adapting to human beings."
- Robert & Edward Skidelsky, How Much is Enough? (2012)

"If it is true that the economy must be deferred to, then there is a case not only for constraining the imprudent actions of the prince but for repressing those of the people, for limiting participation, in short, for crushing anything that could be interpreted by some economist-king as a threat to the proper functioning of the 'delicate watch'."
- Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph (1977)

"How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys, is not so much the utility as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number."
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)


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