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Quote for Today

"The real contribution we owe to Locke's phiosophy does not lie in his abandoning metaphysics; that, a number of thinkers had already done, but in his way of circumscribing and protecting a little islet in the illimitable ocean whose horizon recedes forever as we move."
- Paul Hazard, The Crisis of the European Mind: 1680-1715.


Poem for Today

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Quote for Today

“Literature is humanity talking to itself.”
Norman Rush


Quote for Today

"Anyone can be a barbarian; it requires a terrible effort to remain a civilized man."
--Leonard Woolf

Quote for Today

You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
A.A. Milne
August 21, 1920: A.A. Milne and his wife thought that their baby was going to be a girl. When he emerged a boy, the parents chose a new name for him—Christopher Robin. It would be popularized in Milne's many Winnie-the-Pooh stories of a boy and his bear.

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 271 of F.A. Hayek’s 1950 article “Full Employment, Planning and Inflation,” which is reprinted as chapter 19 in Hayek’s 1967 collection, Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics:

Full employment has come to mean that maximum of employment that can be brought about in the short run by monetary pressure.  This may not be the original meaning of the theoretical concept, but it was inevitable that it should have come to mean this in practice.  Once it was admitted that the momentary state of employment should form the main guide to monetary policy, it was inevitable that any degree of unemployment which might be removed by monetary pressure should be regarded as sufficient justification for applying such pressure.  That in most situations employment can be temporarily increased by monetary expansion has long been known.  If this possibility has not always been used, this was because it was thought that by such measures not only other dangers were created, but that long-term stability of employment might itself be endangered by them.  What is new about present beliefs is the tit is now widely held that so long as monetary expansion creates additional employment, it is innocuous or at least will cause more benefit than harm.

Source:  Don Boudreaux @ Cafe Hayek

Cost of Central Planning

if by “poor” you mean a behemoth cooperative of producers such as Land’O'Lakes, and if by “helps” you mean forcing up the price that families, including poor families, pay for milk in order to enrich those politically powerful producers. Here’s the account in today’s Wall Street Journal.  A slice:

The feds already buy one of every five gallons, and agriculture laws already make it illegal for processors to sell milk below a regionally dictated price. Then there’s a quota on dairy imports and prohibitive tariffs. In 2005 the OECD estimated that consumers pay a 26% “milk tax” as a result of all this central planning.

Lovely.  I can see why “Progressives” believe that the U.S. government is just the trustworthy, principled, and caring outfit that we should further empower to ‘redistribute’ incomes and to protect poor Americans from the rapacity of the rich.

(It is true, I admit, that cronyism in the United States isn’t – yet – as rampant as it is in Argentina.)


Given the actual, historical record of government behavior, asking government – simply because it possesses fearful power and expresses an interest in the assignment – to watch over “the poor” is akin to asking a gang of serial rapists – simply because it possesses fearful power and expresses an interest in the assignment – to watch over a dormitory full of unarmed co-eds.

Source:  Cafe Hayek

Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 89-90 of the 1964 Harper Torchbooks edition of Karl Popper’s deeply insightful 1957 book, The Poverty of Historicism (footnotes deleted):

The holistic planner overlooks the fact that it is easy to centralize power but impossible to centralize all the knowledge which is distributed over many individual minds, and whose centralization would be necessary for the wise wielding of centralized power.  But this fact has far-reaching consequences.  Unable to ascertain what is in the minds of so many individuals, he must try to simplify his problems by eliminating individual differences: he must try to control and stereotype interests and beliefs by education and propaganda.


Source: Cafe Hayek

The Minimum-Wage

Some Questions for Minimum-Wage Proponents



Here are some questions for proponents of a legislated minimum wage:

- Suppose (not unreasonably) that poor people are disproportionately likely, compared to wealthier people, to own high-mileage used cars produced, say, between 1989 and 1995.  And assume that the average price at which poor people sell each of these cars (when, say, they want to buy newer cars, or when they choose to rely more heavily upon public transportation) is $3,000.  Do you support minimum-used-car-price legislation that prohibits the sale of any car at a price of less than $5,000?  Do you believe that such legislation would make poor people richer?  Would your answer change if the legislated minimum price for cars is $3,250 rather than $5,000?  (I proposed a similar thought experiment back in June 2006.)

- Other than low-skilled labor, what other goods or services can you think of that warrant enormous amounts of empirical studies to determine the direction of the effect that mandated higher prices for those goods and services will have on the quantities of those goods and services that buyers wish to purchase?  Or is low-skilled labor the only good or service that you can think of for which it is unscientific or mistaken to suppose that, all other things unchanged, the higher is the price that buyers must pay for this product, the fewer are the quantities of this product that buyers wish to purchase?

Asked differently: Is it unscientific for protectionists to reason that higher tariffs on imported steel or sugar or automobiles or shoes will reduce (from what they would otherwise be) the quantities of these things that buyers wish to purchase?  Is it unscientific for nanny-state government officials to reason that higher taxes on cigarettes will lower the quantity demanded of cigarettes?  Is it unscientific for opponents of immigration to propose, in hopes of reducing the employment of undocumented immigrants, higher penalties on firms that employ undocumented immigrants?  Is it unscientific for proponents of rent-control to insist that, if the rents that tenants must pay for rental apartments rise, fewer people will be in the market to rent apartments?  Are National Football League officials unscientific dolts when they assume that increasing the fines for helmet-to-helmet hits will reduce the frequency of such hits?

from Cafe Hayek

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