Among the Intellectualoids

Among the Intellectualoids

Junk Economics at the ‘Times’

By 3.8.14

The Great Divide” series of articles on inequality in the New York Times offers a textbook example of exaggerating the size of the hole and ignoring the donut. In “We Are Not All in This Together,” for instance, sociology professor Shamus Khan at Columbia paints a picture of the economy as a fixed pie: “Let’s be honest. If a few of us are better off, then many are not. If many are better off, then a few will be constrained. Which world would you rather live in? To me the answer is obvious.”

In fact, Khan’s assertion of how the world works is far from obvious.

Is he saying the rest of us became worse off when Steve Jobs and his top associates became better off? Is he claiming that we’ll somehow become worse off, automatically, if the stockholders of Merck or Bristol-Myers become better off because their investments succeed in producing a drug that can zap cancer tumors via the immune system?

Among the Intellectualoids

Jesuitical Confusion

By 2.13.14

There was a remarkable piece titled “What We Wrought” recently in America, a Jesuit publication, by a Catholic pacifist long active against the U.S. led overthrow of Saddam Hussein. It is remarkable primarily because even as it bewails how the U.S. “destroyed” Iraq, it omits all mention of Saddam and his own central role in Iraq’s destruction.

The Catholic anti-war activist recalls her own travel 12 years ago to Iraq under the unnamed dictator in solidarity against international sanctions and against the impending U.S. led invasion. She was active with “Voices in the Wilderness,” a now disbanded group militantly against Iraq war and sanctions, as well as U.S. nuclear weapons and Israeli policies.

Among the Intellectualoids

The Worst Idea in the World

By 2.5.14

Five years after the Bolshevik Revolution, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises predicted that the Soviet project was doomed to fail. In his classic work Socialism, Mises explained that the attempt to replace the market system with central economic planning could not succeed, because the planners could not possibly have the information necessary to make all the decisions which, in a market economy, are made by individuals whose needs and desires are reflected in prices: "The problem of economic calculation is the fundamental problem of Socialism."

Among the Intellectualoids

The Inequality Bogeyman

By 1.28.14

During a recent lunch in a restaurant, someone complimented my wife on the perfume she was wearing. But I was wholly unaware that she was wearing perfume, even though we had been in a car together for about half an hour, driving to the restaurant. 

Among the Intellectualoids

The Politics of the Carpool Lane

By 1.17.14

My son takes a bus to school, but my daughter does not, and the carpool lane where she and I pass several minutes every weekday morning creeping past traffic cones to whichever teacher has Door Duty at the school entrance can be aggravating. Other parents tend to drive carefully, and we’re all pretty good about making allowances for children who disembark slowly, hefting backpacks that look big enough to hide their siblings. Aggravation, when it happens, is usually triggered by the decals on other vehicles.

Among the Intellectualoids

Hot Under the Collar

By 12.19.13

The world now faces its 16th year of no global temperature increases after the 20th century’s one degree increase. Naturally, the faithfully devout believers in cataclysmic human induced “climate change,” formerly known as “global warming,” are digging in their heels, only reluctantly admitting the “pause,” if at all. Liberal religious activists, who specialize in transferring faith away from orthodox belief towards statist political empowerment, are among the most determined climate fundamentalists. There can be no heresy tolerated in the church of radical environmentalism. 

A recent article in Jim Wallis’ Sojourners ignored the stall in global warming and instead plaintively asked: “WHY IS IT so hard for people to respond effectively to the reality of climate change?”

Among the Intellectualoids

Better Left for Dead

By 11.18.13

British impresario Matthew Bourne brought his dance juggernaut, New Adventures, to our nation’s capital this past week with Sleeping Beauty, one of his latest attempts to rework classic ballets for contemporary audiences. The company is touring the U.S. and, leaving aside what the marketing tell us, the first thing to understand about Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is this: it is not a ballet.  It is a highly theatrical dance drama about vampires, using Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet Sleeping Beauty as background music.  The choreography is a mishmash of styles, including modern dance, hip hop, martial arts, Tai Chi, contemporary, ballroom, and Bollywood, with a few ballet steps thrown in for good measure. If you loved the Twilight series, you will probably like this. If not, don’t waste your money.