Friday, October 31, 2008

I love how you can see on Donahue's face that he can't begin to grasp what the absolutely brilliant Milton Friedman is saying. I love the last few seconds when a chuckle of recognition swept the audience as the point was pressed home.

Since when did selfishness become a virtue, Obama? Watch and learn.


Greybeard said...

I needed that.
So I stole it and used it.
(And credited you too.)

phlegmfatale said...

Ah, I needed it, too, greybeard, and I am happy you want to pass it along. When things seem like a chaotic mess, the worst thing we can do for ourselves and future generations is to be manipulated into looking at things from a purely emotional angle. Truth never dies.

Rabbit said...

Scroll over a few videos and see Ayn Rand take Donahue to the woodshed.

I'm gonna bring my copies of 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged' to work and put them on my desk. And read them...again.


aepilot_jim said...

I wish I could argue as effectively as that. Thanks.

phlegmfatale said...

rabbit - she totally kicked ass.

aepilot_jim - He doesn't react emotionally - he is able to sort through the bullshit beautifully. Love him. He's kinda cocky, actually. Brainy men are sexy.

Anonymous said...

Good find. Gotta love it when you find someone who can advocate for the true light so well.


Towanda said...

Seeing Donahue taken to the woodshed was a pleasure in the 1970s and still rates a huge cheer today! I love the look on his face during the lecture. Bravo for Milton Friedman!!!!

Jenny said...

Wow.. that was cool to see. So was the Rand interview.

That said, I think there's a great difference between "selfishness" and "enlightened self interest" that gets lost sometimes in the "virtue of selfishness" spiel.

"I want to be rich so I'll make a great product and work my butt off promoting it."
"I want to be rich so I'll embezzle some money from the company"
"I want to get along without work today so I'll mug the old lady at the ATM"
"I don't want to worry about rent or gas so I'll vote for what's his name and he'll take care of me."

All are self-interested positions.
Only one benefits not just the self-interested party, but everyone around him.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still all for the capitalist system as the best one out there for determining "who gets what." The nation of shopkeepers will beat the nation of plunderers over the long haul every time.

The only caveat I'd add is the same one applied to limited gov't in general by Adams' line "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

(skeptics, feel free to replace "religious" with "principles that include selflessness, sacrifice, fair play, and putting the good of one's community above one's own life and well being" if you prefer)

Either way though, the cultural understanding "You want my X, I want your Y, so we trade" is a CRITICAL underpinning to the entire "virtue of selfishness" argument. Without that foundation, you get scam emails instead of business contracts, slave raids instead of job offers, and robbery instead of trade.

I suppose I just think sometimes we forget the shoulders of the giants we're standing on. Friedman I don't think is guilty of that.. Rand may be at times.

phlegmfatale said...

mark - love him!

towanda - I though it was rather delicious, myself!

jenny - I don't know enough of Rand to discuss, but your points sound interesting. On the other hand, I think one thing that's muddied the waters is quantifying that intentions are good or not-- intentions are irrelevant. Bottom line for me is that people need the government out of their way so they can live their own lives.

Greybeard said...

Jenny, I have no argument with your thoughts.
But I will point out that the choices you offer, other than the first, are all very similar.
We have raised a generation of individuals that feel "entitled".
On top of that, if things go wrong, they cannot take responsibility for their actions.
It's a dangerous mix. What will these people do when Marxist/Socialist leadership makes our economic situation worse, rather than better?
They'll embezzle.
They'll commit crimes.
They'll nurse the government tit for all it's worth.
And it won't be their fault...
They failed because someone else took advantage,stole, denied, etc...

Jenny said...

Oh, certainly - an amazing amount of evil has been done with the best of intentions, and an amazing amount of good brought to people because some entrepreneur wanted to get rich. Absolutely!

The advantage of the capitalist system is that it provides a means of pursuing self-interest (which everyone does naturally) in a manner that helps everybody. It is AWESOME at that*.

But it's not anarchy, and I'm skeptical it could survive absent *some* manner of government. The Free Market system is in itself dependent on an agreed upon set of rules. You have to trust that when you contract with me for "X" widgets at "Y" dollars a unit, I'll honor my side of the contract. Should I decide to just take your money and run, you need some means of recourse.

Constitutionally limited, minimal government provides that recourse without having to rally a posse every time someone pulls a fast one. The fatal flaw to such a system though has been known for ages though - as dear PJ says "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators"

Honestly, I don't have an answer. I think the Founders came up with as good a system as ever the world saw, but it is dependent on the people doing the voting being able to separate their personal self interest from that of their country. And to the extent we ever had that (not so much, really) - it became worse after universal suffrage**.

which I guess boils down to "heck if i know."

I'll also happily agree our gov's been far too big for our own good since.... well before FDR. Maybe before Lincoln.

* A side essay that might be interesting sometime is the parallel development of capitalist economic theory and the religious doctrine of original sin - or more accurately the concept of the fundamentally flawed human being. I rather suspect the two are closely intertwined - and both ignored by Utopians to their great cost over and over again.

** Not saying basing the vote on sex or race is a good idea. Am saying basing the vote on "any adult with a pulse" is a bad idea. The trick - as always - is in who gets to decide the criteria. But "basic grasp of our founding documents" would be a good one.

(Though come to think of it.. it would help to actually stick to just living adults, Mr. ACORN man. Sheesh. :) )

phlegmfatale said...

I believe government needs to stay out of the way of people and let them succeed and thrive, not that there should be no government. I have never and would never advocate anarchy. I'm not Lara Croft enough to live in that world.

Jenny said...

I dunno, I bet you'd do pretty good. :)

But nevermind me - I'd not meant to imply otherwise. Just me wondering off at the mouth again. Bother.

Zelda said...

I can't believe Obama calls it selfishness to disapprove of your money being stolen and given to the most inefficient, corrupt charity in the entire country.

If the government was a charity, it would be indicted for fraud.

phlegmfatale said...

jenny - well, if I were going down, I'd do my damnedest to make a few bad guys check out along the way, too. :P

zelda - He's a complete asshole. Like that woman who said when he's elected she won't have to buy gas or pay her mortgage any more- either his supporters are insane, assholes or are terminally stupid.