Cool rain and the dismal science

IT’S BEEN RAINING a lot recently, and that’s cooled things down nicely. Even though it’s raining, I still head downtown most afternoons to sit at a sidewalk table with a nice café americano negro and my trusty Kindle.

It’s a good way to live.

My current book, and I’m just about finished with it, is Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics. It came recommended by young Ben Shapiro, a brilliant, conservative guy in spite of his not being a fan of President Trump.

Ain’t nobody perfect in this troubled world.

They don’t call economics the dismal science for no reason. Trying to get a good grip on the subject is a dismal undertaking, especially for someone like me who grapples with simple arithmetic.  But Hazlitt makes it pretty easy.

The book was first published in the late 1940s and updated in the late 1970s, but it’s quite relevant today because some things don’t change.

Hazlitt simplified things for me, and I’m going to make it even simpler for you:

A free market, unfettered by government meddling, works best 98 percent of the time. That’s the core message. But there’s more.

If government meddles in the free market, it should do this: 1. Look not at the immediate, desired effect of a policy, but at its long-term effects. 2. Look not just at the people a policy is designed to benefit, but at everyone it affects.

It’s quite common that a policy will help one group of people while doing harm to other, larger groups of people. And it’s common for a policy to right a perceived wrong today while creating greater wrongs over the long haul.

Hazlitt points out that most laymen do not take this into consideration when favoring something, and even professional economists can fail to take into account the long-term effects.

Speaking of professional economists, I cannot resist mentioning Paul Krugman’s prediction the stock market would tank if Trump became president. Of course, it did quite the opposite. One must chuckle.

On to the Irony Department, Starbucks, about as vocally leftist an outfit as you’ll find, is closing 150 stores in the United States due to minimum-wage increases and government regulations, putting scads of SJW employees out of work.

Nailed by their beloved socialism.

Minimum-wage increases is one of the things Hazlitt touches on at length as being an example of short-term vision. Government steps in to help “poor people,” but fails to realize the broader effects of a high minimum wage.

The higher salaries is money that comes from somewhere else. It is not pulled out of thin air. Starbucks sees that now. One must chuckle even more.

Hazlitt’s book is just 220 pages. I recommend it to you.

Obviously, it was not raining in the above video, which was taken a year ago, but it was raining in the video below, which was taken four years ago. Rain looks the same from one year to the next.

 

Trump: the Push-Back President

(Today’s guest poster is Andrew Klavan who published this piece on PJ Media. The headline is mine, the Push-Back President. Trump is the first president to reject in public the nincompoop notions of the left, and he makes no bones about it.  He rubs it in their faces and laughs out loud, a fun guy. This is the main cause of the mental illness known as Trump Derangement Syndome.)

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In general, I’m a free speech purist. I think you should be able to say any damn thing you please. But that doesn’t mean you should be able to say it anywhere and anytime.

I think police should be allowed to remove hecklers who prevent an audience from hearing the speaker they came to hear, or haul away a diner who stands up in a restaurant and starts spewing curses at the Martians in his fillings.

I deplore companies that fire or punish employees for expressing their ideas on their own time, even though it’s legal to do so. But I don’t think those companies have to tolerate such speech in the workplace or when it might reasonably appear to be an expression of the company’s point of view.

That’s why I see no free speech violation, even in spirit, in the NFL’s ruling that players should not disrespect the flag during the National Anthem. The players were taking that action on company time, in company uniform, while doing the company’s business, representing the company and, clearly, hurting the company’s bottom line.

And because I see no violation, I have to agree with the tweet of Vice President Mike Pence that the new rule represents “#winning” for the American people. Here’s why.

The NFL anthem controversy is a prime example of how Donald Trump is doing something of yuge importance that conservatives never think to do, and that intellectual conservatives don’t even seem to understand needs doing. He is challenging — and often changing — the left’s narrative.

The narrative is essentially a set of assumptions so pervasive that people are afraid to oppose them. They think they are alone in disagreeing with those assumptions and they fear they will be deemed immoral by the majority.

For a long time, the left has controlled this narrative by dominating and censoring the means of communication: social media, the news networks, Hollywood and the academies.

The left makes outlandish ideas seem mainstream.

They use these instruments to make outlandish ideas seem mainstream. That America is racist and oppressive. That men and women are interchangeable. That abortion is something other than an atrocity. That capitalism is somehow an evil despite its manifest blessings. And so on.

This technique is enormously powerful and has serious repercussions. Look at Starbucks behaving like a broken prisoner at a Stalinist show trial.

The narrative convinced them that they behaved badly simply for behaving like a business. In ejecting two poorly behaved trespassers, they merely claimed their right to use their private property for profit. But it is private property and profit that gives us Starbucks in the first place. And iPhones and computers and movies and all the rest.

Companies do not make these things for fun and they have no obligation to let you use them for free. If Starbucks were not drowning in left-wing assumptions — the left-wing narrative that capitalism is somehow inherently mean and wrong — they would have stood up for their right to eject unpaying trespassers, and they would have won.

Instead, they have to endure the absolutely absurd accusation that they are somehow racist because the trespassers were black — another nonsensical left-wing assumption. Phooey.

This is why it has been so terribly frustrating for many of us that conservatives have for so long allowed these assumptions to go unchallenged and have even seemed to accept them themselves.

Why did the first President Bush promise a “kinder, gentler” America after the Reagan years? Why did W. Bush call his conservatism “compassionate conservatism”? Aren’t the wealth and freedom provided by conservative governance kind and gentle enough, compassionate enough in themselves? Why were they making apologies for good ideas?

They bought the narrative and lost the country.

Those on the right who continue to hammer the president for being a flawed man should instead be asking themselves: Why did it take such a man to finally start pushing conservative ideas again?

It was because the left had been allowed to define the terms of our decency, and it required a man without much regard for decency to stand up to them and begin to govern by the decent, moral, freedom-giving principles of traditional Americanism.

Among those principles is respect for our flag and the liberties and justice it represents. It should not be the accepted norm that you can insult that flag while the rest of the nation is expected to eat the insult and send you fame and money in return.

New Image

Screw that noise. Donald Trump was right to challenge the narrative. It’s not trivial. It’s important. And the fact that he made his point represents, yes, #winning.

A good spanking!

AN EARLIER POST, Nincompoop Parade, focused on “liberal” media personalities who were gobsmacked by the fair-and-square election of Trump as president.

Let us turn now from the silly, East Coast swells masquerading as journalists and look at the legions of young Loony Tuners protesting — or rioting — in the streets.

Here’s a fellow named Chad Prather who puts it all in perfect perspective. Love the cowboy hat.

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(LOOK! The five most absurd ways leftists have responded to losing the presidential election. On the other hand, here is a 12-step program from The New York Times. It’s, of course, mostly left-wing nuttiness, but not entirely.)

Back to San Juan

NO, I’M NOT going back to Puerto Rico. I think about it a lot though. I also think about buying another motorcycle, which I’m not going to do either.

I lived on a roof there. Technically, it was a penthouse, but pinning the penthouse label on the place, which I’ve often done, is making it sound far fancier than it was.

The view was spectacular and, if memory serves, the rent was about $100 a month, but this was in the mid-1970s when $100 meant something. Now it’s coffee at Starbucks.

An element of this time that I haven’t mentioned in the past was my neighbors. Directly next door, and four stories down, was a police outpost that included a holding cell.

But just past that was another “high-rise” of about five floors. My building was five floors, but it sat a bit higher on an incline, so I had a view down to the roof of that other building.

That was where the hippie family lived.

We never spoke, and we rarely even waved. They were not Puerto Ricans from the look of them. The family consisted of Mama Hippie and Papa Hippie and a brood of about four or five mini-hippies, ages 8, 9, 10 and so on.

But I’m sure they enjoyed their life in the Caribbean air, there with the green sea and blue sky and almost endless ocean breezes. Off to the left was the El Morro fortress. To the right sat the hulk of San Cristóbal.

Those five stories were navigable only on foot. There was no elevator. This discouraged casual jaunts outside. And the step risers were not uniform, making the ascent more arduous. I usually went out once at midday to shop and again in the afternoon, going to the newspaper.

Five stories high does not provide a true picture because the street ran along the edge of a high cliff above the sea. Actually, I was probably about 10 stories above the surf.

Ascending the steps was up a dank, gray, concrete stairwell. On reaching my door, the topmost, you opened it and were instantly flung into another world. There was the sea, the forts, the heavens, ahead, up, and to the right.

To the left was the living-room door. The living room was tiny, and sparsely furnished. At its far end, to the right, was the kitchen, so tight that the fridge lived in the living room.

Straight ahead was a door where you entered a vestibule that provided two options. Ahead to the bathroom or right to the bedroom. Funny, I don’t remember the bathroom.

SJ
View over the bed.

The bedroom had a double bed and two windows. One was above the low headboard with a view of San Juan Bay and the mountains.

The other window was on the opposite end, just to the right as you entered the bedroom, and it opened onto the large, uncovered patio.

The entire apartment, not counting the open-air patio, would have fit into the Hacienda’s living room easily.

It was a fascinating, booze-fueled, time, often warm because there was no air-conditioning, and there was a hammock out on the patio. But the nights were cool enough.

I never encountered the hippie family, head-on. You’d think we would have passed on the street downstairs on occasion, but we never did in the 10 months I lived there atop the world.

I have quite a bit of history in the Caribbean, having visited also Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgins.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading along. I write this sort of stuff more for myself than anything. Don’t want to forget.

Always a danger in one’s dotage.