There is an industry which concerns itself with helping to create these when Mother Nature isn’t quite doing her job. But it needs to be regulated, you know. It really does. Even Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of whom more below, says so, though he otherwise disagrees with Ms. Cristina Richie, whose views are our topic today. (The gentleman’s remark rather sounds as though he approves of “regulation,” and disapproves of its lack, on principle.)
Anyway, it turns out that Carbon Legacies, even when naturally occurring, are not an unmitigated good. Indeed, one might question whether they are a Good Thing at all, even as others are delighted with theirs, or with the prospects of acquiring such.
Here is the abstract of an article from the Journal of Medical Ethics by Cristina Richie, Theology Department, Boston College, which argues that since every human “emits carbon” into the environment,
Evaluating the ethics of offering reproductive services against its overall harm to the environment makes unregulated ARTs unjustified….
“ART” stands for “Assisted Reproductive Technology.” It includes such things as fertilization in vitro and artificial insemination, as well as methods of having babies where the child might be born with AIDS, surrogate pregnancy, and more.
(WikiFootia has a good overview.)
From Ms. Richie’s article:
A carbon footprint is the aggregate of resource use and carbon emissions over a person’s life. A carbon legacy occurs when a person chooses to procreate. All people have carbon footprints; only people with biological children have carbon legacies.
(I have had some non-biological “children,” but only in a figurative sense, such as patterns of words set down on paper or sent into cyberspace. But it seems to me that actual non-biological children are probably rather rare.)
Now ask me what I think. C’mon, you know you want to! *g* Well, lest the multitude of Kounting Kitties hereabouts get to yowling from the suspense….
Views in which “the environment” is seen as of higher moral value than human beings as such — whether conceived in delight or after a fight, or both, or neither — are perverse in the strongest and most serious sense of the word. (Compact OED, Print Ed., 1971, = 1933 OED plus addenda, gives various definitions, several of which boil down to “turning away from right to wrong.”) To me, the word has a connotation of DELIGHT in turning from right to wrong, and a deliberate inversion of right and wrong, so that the evil is embraced as good and the good, as evil.
All I can say is, I place a very high value on my own personal Carbon Legacy, who in early middle age continues to provide joy, light, and warmth to my life. Besides, this person grows houseplants and, in summer, tomatoes and peppers, so I figure that offsets the inevitable “emission of carbon.” (Whatever does Ms. Richie think that means? There’s a huge variety of carbon-containing molecules that are “emitted” by a huge variety of sources, most of them “natural.”) Personally I think that once we’ve gotten fluorine out of the way by banning it (per a suggestion by some doofus over here), we should simply ban carbon. That would solve everything. At least from the human point of view, which would no longer exist.
. . .
I will let Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of LifeNews.com, have the last word. He has a piece on this entitled “Population Controllers Call Babies ‘Carbon Legacies,’ a Threat to the Environment.” Per Mr. Smith:
And Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little carbon legacies to come onto me’….
I don’t really follow mainstream politics these days. So many of the big issues are not debated. Should our health provision be nationalised? Should we privatise schools? How come only the government substantially owns roads? Why is our currency fiat,? What is the point of a central bank? Will Iraq be fixed with more killing? Why are there victimless crimes on the statute book? Why are the government entitled to half our cash? Why are we disarmed? Why don’t we have robust reliable energy supplies? Why can’t we quit the EU, the UN, NATO? Why do we even need national trade agreements in the internet era?
There is almost no debate on these gigantic subjects; the political settlement having run aground on the social democratic rocks. So it doesn’t much energise me.
However, I did catch some of the Labour conference this week, and it looks like they have stopped trying.
We had Sadiq Khan who wasn’t quite sure of what he thought about bombing ISIS. He wanted to “see what the Prime Minister said” because independent thought was obviously a bit tricky. In fairness to him, the coverage is a joke; the so-called Arab coalition extends in some cases to allowing use of air space and not much else.
Then we had Rachel Reeves who is apparently shadow work and pensions secretary who didn’t know what the basic state pension was (sic) nor apparently did she have any understanding of how it was derived. I had to read the report twice to see if I had misread it. You cannot be taken seriously as a frontline politician without at least a basic grasp of your own brief.
Ed Balls did not disappoint announcing the ludicrous ‘mansion’ tax which will be nightmarish to administer and won’t raise the cash they think. And you might question why someone who lives in a leafy Southern suburb and has done for years should suddenly have to fork out an additional £15K a year. Avoidance schemes aplenty will abound. Plus he was going to “close tax loopholes” how do they say this stuff with a straight face? Oh and cut the deficit of course along with all the extra spending pledges. Balls it seems to me was going to cut the deficit by borrowing more. You will recall what borrowing too much money has done to Greece.
Then we had the organ grinder himself saying he was going to spend the mansion tax cash on the NHS (which is curious because on Monday Rachel Reeves was spending it on reducing the deficit) and this was of course cheered for some reason which completely escapes me. Maybe there is this weird school of thought which says “Large bureaucracy – good, give more money to with no thought of actual results or even goals”
Labour were asked how many cuts they had identified to eliminate the structural deficit. It turns out they amounted to £400m. The structural budget deficit is £75B. So all their efforts in opposition have identified just over half of one percent of the cuts need to balance the budget. And this is blown away with all the extra spending you know they will do.
Also Ed didn’t talk about the deficit in his speech, because you know how popular financial reality is with Labour party delegates. This is “dog-ate-my-homework” stuff. You forgot?
This is not serious politics. They aren’t trying, they are just making noises which sound nice to the hard of thinking, but which evaporate when you look at them in any detail.
Lest you think this is an invitation to vote Tory, it’s not. Osborne may try but will clearly fail to balance the budget if the Tories are re-elected. Balls and Milli won’t even try.
This is going to end in either sovereign default or an orgy of QE regardless of who is elected because the debt and the interest payment keeps going up. This means more and more of the government’s tax receipts are spent paying the interest on the debt. No-one wants to take the hard decisions, nor even has a philosophical basis for doing so, much less any chance of being elected if they tell the obvious truth (which is being stubbornly ignored by the electorate).
From the BBC…
A dog walker found a human leg behind a Conservative social club in Greater Manchester, prompting a police search and the discovery of a body.
The body was found close to Healey Conservative Club in Whitworth, near Rochdale.
The adult limb was found on Sunday afternoon. It is not yet clear how long the leg had been there or whether it belonged to a man or a woman.
Lancashire Constabulary said dogs were being used in a search of the area.
The Conservative club declined to comment.
Well, what, frankly, do you say?
This is in my neck of the St John’s… I have found curious things. I have never found a leg. Thank God for small mercies. I think it would upset me for a while. But then as a Newcastle fan you learn to get over such regrettable things.
Put it this way. Given that Rochdale is notorious for kiddie-fiddling including the late Cyril Smith MP.
Is Kim Jong ill? North Korean dictator in poor health as his weight has ballooned thanks to an obsession with cheese.
That is Kim Jong Un who is 31! Hell’s Teeth I like a bit of cheese and being a European there is a lot of it about. Say what you like about Europe (including the UK) we make formidable cheese. We do because we are free(ish). This is the reason the North Koreans can’t make decent cheese despite being a nation of 25 million.
So Comrade Kim is eating himself to death whilst the proles (and isn’t communism meant to be about the proles?) are starving. Apparently Dear Leader Kim got on the Emmental train following his education in Switzerland. Well, that is nice. I can honestly say that my assorted travels have changed my tastes but I can’t say, oddly enough, that, say, learning olives were nice in Spain or that certain fish was very nice in Florida (and there is some good fishing off FL) ever meant bizarre imports for just me whilst everyone else starved. That is obscene.
Defector Cho Myung-Chul, of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, said: ‘North Koreans think being fat is good, unlike South Koreans who want to be skinny.’
Well, currently Nick Witchell is on the telly. The telly is a Samsung. It is not by any means the only thing I own from the Korean Republic. Let us be honest. Celebrating fatness is what you do when you are so poor you have to eat grass.
So in the name of communism the people are dying of starvation whilst the boss is doing death by cheesing. It is shocking.
He is understood to be furious that the Pyongyang Dairy has continually failed to produce an Emmental-style cheese of a high enough quality to satisfy his demands.
Well, oddly enough, I walked down the road yesterday and bought some very nice Emmental from the local shop. In a real sense I am (cheese-wise) a richer man than a dictator of 25m souls. I can buy cheese. The Supreme Potentate of North Korea can’t. And God knows what the poor folk can do.
The news comes as North Korea branded the U.S. ‘a graveyard of human rights’, criticising the nation in the wake of the Missouri riots following the shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Err… I have been to the USA several times and whilst, obviously, it ain’t perfect it is way better than North Korea. Actually it is incomparable. They are taking the piss.
So who agrees…
China, Iran and Russia have previously criticised America following the shooting and the crackdown on protesters following the shooting in the town of Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis.
I think that is enough said.
Yesterday I was at the Gauntlet Bird of Prey Centre in Cheshire.
I learned a lot. I learned how to handle a Harris Hawk called Pablo. I also learned that vultures are critically endangered. For a large animal they have had a decrease in numbers unparalleled in recorded history over the last few years.
Now this is a problem. Obviously it is a problem for the vultures but it is wider. As the primary garbolists of the Animal Kingdom they are a vital link in the ecosystem. They can eat almost anything. But in South Asia a generally banned (but of course freely available on the iffy market – consider the prohibition of heroin for example) cattle drug kills ‘em. They eat a bit of dead cow and they die. Now lots of people don’t like vultures but things that clear the land of dead things help prevent disease in other animals including humans.
Now that is bad in Asia but the situation in Africa is appalling. This is how it goes. Our fun-loving criminal mates, the Russian Mafia, have taken a strong interest in rhino and elephant poaching. Now obviously they take the horns and tusks and leave the rest. Alas, due to the size of the game reserves of Africa, the only way the rangers patrolling them are likely to get a chance of catching the poachers is by spotting the vultures hovering over the remains. Now, if you are the sort of scumbag who will unload a clip of 7.62mm into a rhino to flog the horn to the Chinese (it is apparently worth four times it’s mass in Au) you are pretty ruthless and obviously you don’t want to get caught. Note that the park rangers pack some heat. You have to against Russian Mafia sponsored types with AK-47s.
So, to reduce the chance of being caught the Russian Mafia has been systematically eradicating not just their prey animals but the vultures. They have been doing this by lacing the corpses of the dead rhinos and elephants with cyanide.
Vultures have essentially no sense of smell or taste. This enables them to eat things that would make you and me reflexively vomit profusely. It is their strength in the whole chain of life and also their weakness when it comes to Indians drugging cattle (apparently this is a Hindu thing – the beef is not good for people to eat but the milk is OK and of course Hindus don’t tend to eat beef) or the Russian Mafia deliberately poisoning vultures.
The truly shocking thing. Well, there are a number. Deliberately killing a truly useful animal (with all the knock-on effects) is dreadful. And they are of course magnificent and very friendly birds. And as you can imagine (if you are regular you will know) that as a fanatic about fighter ‘planes I have a soft spot for our pre-Wright Bros. winged warriors. But it ain’t just my soft spot that is agitated here. The ecosytematic damage is extreme and via disease it also kills people. Imagine how healthy you would be if no-one picked up the bins? You’d be pegging it from dysentery and cholera. And vultures do this service for free in some of the poorest parts of the World.
But they are deliberately being killed by the Russian Mafia to sell the Chinese stuff that should be banned. Well it is banned but has that ever helped anything? I mean US prohibition only boosted the Canadian whiskey industry. How were the Feds to patrol a 3,000 mile border? How does a Kenyan park ranger patrol an enormous game reserve without spotting the circling vulures?
I am not saying theses vile trades ought to be legalized but very clearly the illegality has not helped.
I do not know what the solution is. How could I? But shooting some of the buggers might help. I mean they won’t do it again will they?
I’m only saying this because I suspect many readers will not know about it. Because vultures have an undeserved bad-rep, because I just love everything that flies because I just do and always have and perhaps when it is properly explained you begin to understand how complex ecosystems are not just to the critters but to us. I don’t want to see a rhino being shot and a vulture being poisoned so some Mafia oligarch can flog the horn to a Chinese plutocrat. I really don’t want to see this so completely innocent Africans die from diseases that nobody in Europe ever gets.
I’m quite serious here. If you support one animal charity this year – make it the vulture.
Apparently, and the guy who showed of his vultures had done a lot of work in Africa, at least one Russian Mafia boss has a plan. He wishes to stockpile as much rhino horn and elephant tusk as possible before eradicating both species entirely so he gets to corner the entire market. The destruction of the vultures is merely part of this insane (but lucrative) scheme.
That is what it is about. Extinction for temporary profit done by very evil people.
Sam’s post below got me thinking. I too hate modern politics. It is not what it represents itself to be. Politicos claim that voters are sovereign, that we are offered meaningful choices and that they themselves are our servants.
If I ever employ servants I probably won’t pay them more than me, give them powers to point guns at me, powers to read my e-mails, to take as much of my money as they fancy, to cage me for any number of victimless ‘crimes’ to variously hector and cajole about what I eat, drink, how much I exercise, what drugs I may fancy, what I am allowed to say etc
No, these plutocrats are not our servants, they are our masters. And simply deciding which one, from a narrow, self-selecting elite* gets to be our total master every five years, to carry out a similar, pre-conceived agenda, is not meaningful choice.
Then there is this increasingly threadbare argument that one party is economically competent and the other is ruinously irresponsible financially. Now it is true that leftist parties commit economic suicide more quickly by and large. Gordon Brown’s so called ‘golden rule’ was so much smoke and mirrors that a largely compliant media decided to ignore. But the so-called austerity of this current government is nonsense. When Cameron entered no 10 in 2010 the UK was about £900B in debt, when he leaves we will be somewhere between £1.3T and £1.4T. So the idea that the right will ride to our rescue and “balance the books” is demonstrably false. If memory serves, even Lady Thatcher only managed to actually re-pay debts for a couple of years in her administration. This was in some part due to asset sales and her kind is long gone from the political stage.
So pointing to bust cities like Detroit, or bust countries like Argentina and saying “the lefties bust them, therefore we must vote rightie” is not any kind of a solution, because the cities and countries they run are on exactly the same path and face exactly the same fate. Doubt it? Look at the national or civic debts of rightist regimes. They have more or less all mortgaged the future and get voted in by a populace that prefer not to look at the disaster coming down the tracks. Even in Greece in their last national elections, a party whose slogan was “there is money” got a stack of votes.
So vote if you will, but for me it makes no difference. The mainstream politicians are bought and paid for, how else could they fund campaigns? They all follow more or less the same road, and it’s a road to hell. Even a libertarian party at this point would be up against it, we maybe past the point of no return financially and you probably don’t want to be at the helm when the ship sinks.
So I won’t legitimise a corrupt system, I won’t kid myself my vote matters and I absolutely won’t ask liars and thieves for permission to live my life. As to how my An-Cap world comes into existence? That’s another post.
*http://order-order.com/2014/09/15/labour-parachute-carpetbagging-harman-ally-into-dobbin-seat/ Both parties do this.
I haven’t taken an active part in any political campaign since 1992, when I stuffed envelopes for my local Tory Association. I don’t – as will be no surprise to attentive Kitty Kounters – like politics, although I take the same morbid interest in it as I would any other catastrophe that had befallen me and my family.
However, the recent narrowing of the polls in the Scottish referendum, not to mention the mob that assembled outside the BBC in Glasgow at the weekend (I’m no fan of the BBC, but that sent a chill up my spine), made me feel I had to do something, so this afternoon I headed down to the Better Together office and volunteered. I ended up handing out leaflets and posters on the street.
Mostly, I was pleasantly surprised. Without any overt indication – a badge, T-shirt, or whatever – it was impossible to tell at a glance who would be sympathetic. People of all ages, all walks of life, and all ethnicities accepted a leaflet with a smile, a good many actually coming up and asking for them, and for the most part it was actually quite a heartwarming experience given the sheer volume of “Yes” propaganda that’s around. It was encouraging to see that “we” really are out there, and in good numbers.
But around 5:30, just as I was thinking of heading home, two blokes came up to me and demanded, “CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT THE BARNETT FORMULA WILL NOT BE DILUTED OR ABOLISHED BY 2020?”. Not memorized at all, oh no. I was rather taken aback. Of course I can’t. Nobody can. It’s a long-standing parliamentary convention that a sitting parliament can’t bind future ones. I’ll bet whoever wrote the question for them knew that perfectly well. Whatever, it set them off. I don’t think they even listened to my answer.
Long story short, twenty minutes later, there was a crowd of I don’t know how many Yessers – dozens, anyway – TV cameras, press, and a couple of coppers. And me, plus the Better Together bloke I was with. Still don’t even know his name. He seemed to be getting the worst of it, and holding his own – he’d obviously experienced this before – while I had been latched on to by a guy with a bike who, to give him his due, was relatively subdued and rational. Relatively. Then the mob jumped back in. By the end of it, their entire “argument” consisted of chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” at us. It’s not hard to imagine what it reminded me of.
Eventually we extracted ourselves – to loud cheers, as if they’d won the argument that had barely even taken place – and the police came over and asked us if we needed protection. Police wondering if mainstream political canvassers need protection, in Britain, in 2014.
Politics is hateful.
I’ve always said that, but I saw the literal truth of it today. Sneering, shouting, hate… it was the very antithesis of reasoned argument. I tried, but they weren’t interested. They just regurgitated the prepared lines, sneered, and laughed. Then resorted to the chanting when we weren’t so easily cowed. I have no hesitation in calling them a mob, without any irony.
Orwell wrote, “True propaganda does not seek to persuade. It seeks to create a climate of thought in which dissent is seen as something akin to madness”. These people were clearly wandering around the city looking for us, not to persuade undecided voters, but simply to shut us down. Spoiling for a fight.
People say that whatever damage this referendum has done – the uncertainty affecting the financial markets – “it has at least engaged people in politics”. No: it has set them against each other, forcing them to take sides. Maybe it amounts to the same thing. That’s why I can’t stand it.
But I’ll be back tomorrow. I won’t give the buggers the satisfaction.
President Warren Harding – the real founder of the modern Republican Party (or the good bit of it anyway).
All most people know of Warren Harding is that he was corrupt – and all that most people know is wrong.
Although certainly no saint (he was a drinker, and a poker player, and a lover of women) Warren Harding was not personally corrupt – and his Administration was actually less corrupt than most. For example vastly less corrupt than the Administrations of Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman – and Hollywood and the rest of the media (and academia) do not present those Administrations as corrupt.
That is all the space I am going to waste on the so called “Ohio Gang” or “Tea Pot Dome” – people who are interested in such stuff can read a good biography of Harding (clue to what a good biography is – the author will not pretend Harding’s papers were destroyed, which is the standard “Progressive” excuse for not reading the documents and writing “history” based on nonsense instead). 0r they can just look at the chapter on Harding in the “Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents” by Steven F. Haywood (a good historian).
I am interested in other matters………
Today it is a common place among Republican politicians to talk of rolling-back-government – reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, getting rid of regulations, and reducing government spending.
Some (alas not enough) of these Republicans actually mean what they say – but WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Republicans have not always promised smaller government – Republican Presidents (and Governors, and Senators and Congressmen and …..) did not use to make a big thing of this. One does not hear this in the speeches of Lincoln, or in Chester Allan Arthur. or Harrison, or Taft…….
These were not the big (peacetime) government fiends of Rothbardian fantasies – but they were not roll-back-the-state types either.
So where does it come from? This modern identification of the Republicans (sometimes correctly – sometimes NOT correctly) as the make-government-smaller party?
Basically it comes from one man.
Essentially Warren Harding created this role for the Republican Party – he invented the approach, he created the modern Republican Party (or the good bit of it anyway).
In his campaign against the Administration of Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding created all the themes we know today.
When you hear (for example) Senator Rand Paul speak (on civil liberties, on government spending, on ANYTHING) you are really hearing WARREN HARDING – Republicans did not tend to speak in this way before him (he, basically, invented it).
And Harding lived the dream – he made it real. And he was faithfully followed (in his policies) by his Vice President Calvin Coolidge (President Calvin Coolidge) and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon (anther viciously libelled man).
As the British historian Paul Johnson (in “Modern Times” – long before Ron Radash’s work on Harding) pointed out – Warren Harding actually did the things he said he was going to do.
He sincerely believed in Civil Liberties.
Warren Harding utterly opposed the politics of the Socialists and Communal Anarchists (the Red Flaggers and the Black Flaggers) – but (ironically) they were physically safer under Warren Harding than they were under the Progressive Woodrow Wilson.
President Harding would not tolerate people (even Reds) being sent to prison on trumped up charges – and if he found them already in prison, he would pardon them to get them of prison.
“The bastard must have done something. so what does it matter what we got him for – after all he would murder millions if he had the chance ” may appeal to nasty people (nasty people including, perhaps, ME), but it horrified Harding.
Harding was also horrified by censorship – or any other aspect of the Police State.
He was denounced as Pro German (totally false) for defending German Americans from persecution – German thinkers (as far back as the 1700s) may have worked on aspects of a “Police State” (see Hayek – “The Constitution of Liberty” and “Law, Legislation and Liberty”), but this did not mean that German Americans deserved to be persecuted by an American Police State.
And Warren Harding defended black people also.
He was born in 1865 the year of defeat for the Slave Power – and Warren Harding did not have the “benefit” of a Rothbardian education (based on the writings of Woodrow Wilson – oh yes that was the source Rothbard based his stuff on) that the Civil War was not “really” about slavery. The old men that Warren Harding knew in Marion Ohio had fought in the Civil War – but what did they know, they were not academics…..
The continued persecution of blacks (above all lynching) disgusted Warren Harding to the core of his being – and he denounced the persecution.
The Democrats (and some Republican Progressives, for racism was a Progressive doctrine then, indeed it still is – accept now Progressives stir up blacks against whites, rather than whites against blacks, the switch came in the 1960s and was quite sudden, but as the Dems control the media they got away with it ) replied by spreading rumours that Warren Harding was part black himself (a lie) – but he carried on.
Unlike Woodrow Wilson (a German style trained intellectual [see my first comment] – and “scientific” racist), Warren Harding (a man with little formal education) held that prices and wages should be set by supply and demand – not government orders.
This is why the crash of the post World War One Credit Bubble in 1920-1921 was not like the crash of 1929.
The crash was just as bad (although the Progressive academics have put it down the “Memory Hole”) but Warren Harding was not Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover (a man who became conservative after he left office – having never been so before). Harding did not prevent wages and other prices (a wage is a price) adjusting to the crash – instead he got government out of the way (so mass unemployment was not a feature of year-after-year – as was under Hoover-Roosevelt, for most of Roosevelt’s policies were started by Hoover).
So what did Warren Harding do?
He cut the Federal government in half – from about six billion Dollars spending in 1920 (a peacetime total) to about three billion Dollars only a couple of years later.
Yes prices were falling – but you try and do that. Cut government spending – dramatically.
No “fool” or “lazy man” could do what Warren Harding did - roll back the government on civil liberties, on taxation, or regulation, and on government spending itself.
That is what “normalcy” (and, contrary to ignorant leftists, “normalcy” was the correct American English in Webster’s dictionary when Harding was young) meant to Warren Harding.
Civil Society – where individuals and private associations (commercial companies, churches, clubs, fraternities……) could exist and thrive – and not have every day of their lives spent looking over their shoulder for the commands of the state. A government limited by the Constitution of the United States - in which Warren Harding believed (unlike Woodrow Wilson who despised it) and even physically saved (the physical document was falling apart when he became President – Warren Harding had preserved).
This (his belief in liberty, in property rights, in limited government) is why the collectivists hated Warren Harding (and still do) – and that is why they (the academic-media-cultural elite) have spent more than 90 years spitting on his name.
The American Founding Father John Jay was fond of reading Plato in his youth (often not a good sign), and even named one of his slaves Plato (I am not attacking Mr Jay over slavery – I know he did more than anyone else to end slavery in New York State, even losing an election over it).
It is not likely that John Jay was fond of the economic collectivism of Plato (after all John Jay was the man famous for making “those who own the land should govern it” his maxim – although it was actually G. Morris who supported a strictly limited franchise, as long you owned a little land, say your own home, you should have the vote according to Jay), so what was he getting from Plato?
Not the idea of the importance of virtue – that was a commonplace of republican (small “r”) thought, that only a moral people could remain free (that a people addicted to vice and waste would either not notice government getting more powerful – or would actively welcome a despotic government, if it promised them lots of benefits “bread and games”).
Nor was John Jay some sort of “Puritan” in the Hollywood sense – he did not believe that such things as drink and dancing should be banned, he liked a drink and he employed tutors to teach his children to dance (and the only reason he did not go to the theatre was that he believed there was so much suffering and humiliation in real life that he did not want to see it on the stage as well). Again “virtue” was a much broader concept than the Hollywood mockery of po faced Puritans.
What Plato would have given John Jay is that idea that people can (and should) be made virtuous by THE STATE.
We today are used to prisons and government schools (especially in New York) being dens of vice – and that is not funny (rape and so on should not be a matter for nudge-nudge, wink-wink jokes). Places where vast amounts of taxpayers money are spent – and people come out vastly worse than they went in. Indeed the only thing that government schools in America appear to be good at teaching people is that government should control everything and that business (especially “big business”) is evil (needing to be controlled by noble government), and the churches are evil too, and…… (well any alternative to the state in any area of life) is evil – how odd that government schools should teach that government should control everything (well actually not odd at all).
However, dens of vice was not the Platonic vision (although what American schools and colleges actually teach would have pleased Plato).
In the vision of John Jay the government prisons he established (to replace the old policy of either hanging or flogging criminals) were meant to “reform” criminals.
And the government school system he longed for (it was not really established till after his time) would take children and turn them into virtuous citizens of the new republic .
What if someone from the state had come to Mr Jay’s farm (the house he had built shows his reputation as an aristocrat is false – it is a rather ordinary house with a front pouch where someone can sit on a rocking chair and chat to passers by – the house that “Common Man” Jefferson had built is vastly grander, but then Jefferson did not mind borrowing money, John Jay hated the idea of borrowing for luxury, he would only spend money he actually had) and started to order him about in farming matters?
I think such a government official would have got a cold stare from the man who attacked price controls and other such nonsense (John Adams would have lost his temper and set the dogs on such an official). But why should government be better at forming human character?
If would not trust the government to be in charge of your carrots, why would you trust them to be in charge of your children?
Governments are often better than private individuals and associations for destructive things – killing people, burning cities and so on (as a man who had lived through war – Mr Jay knew that), but for constructive things such as reforming human character? That does not seem very likely.
Evil (force and fear) has its place in human affairs – remember the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk is divided between good and evil. His good side has many things (for example a sincere love of knowledge for its own sake) – even his courage (the evil Kirk is a coward – terrified of losing his own skin), but the good Kirk is also useless as a Star Ship commander (he will not take risks with other people’s lives – and he is horrified even by the suffering and death of enemies). It is the evil Kirk who has the “power of command” and the delight in torment and destruction that gives him the incentive to think up clever ways of destroying foes (the pleasure a cat has). And these-things-are-necessary at times.
The state (force and fear – the Sword of State) is the negative (destructive) energy of human life – you can burn a city with such a force, but you can not make people better (not really) you can not create new and good things. Force and fear has its place in human life (the good Kirk can not command the Enterprise – although the evil Kirk can not be trusted to do so) – but it can not turn a child into a good adult, or turn criminals into honest people (it can just turn them into hypocrites like Mr Heap – pretending to be “ever so humble” as they plot fresh crimes).
If one tries to use the state for positive (for constructive) purposes the negative energy feeds back on itself – the tormented child becomes a vile adult, the criminal leaves the prison worse than when he went in (and so on). The state can punish crime – but it can reform people (and the effort to use state power to “make people better” leads to the most terrible tyranny, as C.S. Lewis pointed out).
Those people (such as John Jay) who supported setting up state prison systems and school systems sincerely believing that they would promote virtue were making an error – a terrible, fundamental, error (an error for which the world is still suffering – and will suffer more).
The Western tradition is based upon three principles.
That the physical universe is real and can be investigated – that it is not an illusion or unknowable.
That the human self (the mind – the investigator, the reasoning “I”) also exists, and that this does not contradict the first principle.
And that right and wrong (good and evil) really exist (are not just “cheer and boo” words) and that humans (as beings – reasoning “I”) can CHOOSE between them – can do otherwise than we do.
All these things can be found in Aristotle - although much error can be found in Aristotle also.
And they can also be found in the “Common Sense” philosophy (sometimes known know as the Scottish Philosophy of Thomas Reid to Noah Porter and James McCosh – but within which I would include such English philosophers as Ralph Cudworth, Harold Prichard, Sir William David Ross and Antony Flew).
It is rather more doubtful that these things, the three principles of the Western tradition, can be found in some more academically fashionable philosophies.
A man by the name of Bonham refused to pay for a license to practice medicine from the London College Physicians.
The College pointed out that not only did it have authority granted by a King (Henry VIII) , but also a specific Act of Parliament upheld medical licensing. So it fined Bonham (half the fine going to the college – half to the government, just as the Statute said it should) and ordered him to be imprisoned.
In the modern world that would be it – consumer protection upheld, and the evil “Dr” Bonham shipped off to be raped to death in prison somewhere (to the applause of the media – and the education system, the schools and colleges with their “protect the consumer” and “protect the worker” textbooks). However, this was 1610………
Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (with his wicked, reactionary “Medieval mind”) was outraged by the whole thing. Not owning a piece of paper (a “license”) was not a crime under Common Law (to the Common Law a crime was an aggression against the bodies or goods of someone else – not failing to buy something). Also how could a body (the college or the government) sell licenses and, at the same time, sit in judgement over the case? This would mean that those who profited from the sale of licenses (had a financial interest in it) could punish those who did not buy them! – Which (to the modern minds of both the college and the government) is replied to by “well yes you Feudal nutcase – THAT IS THE POINT”.
Sadly (in spite of the work of Sir Francis Bacon, the author of the Progressive classic “The New Atlantis”, and mentor of Thomas Hobbes – the great philosopher who spread the enlightened notions that “law” was just the whims of the rulers, and that humans were just machines, not beings – not moral agents). The reactionary Sir Edward stopped the imprisonment of Dr Bonham – and declared that he did not have to pay a fine for refusing to buy a piece of parchment (a “license”) as the Common Law (those DUSTY CENTURIES of Year Books full of cases about one man hitting another man over the head with an axe – or damaging a local church by using its windows for target practice for archery……) knew of no such “crime”, and that it was an outrage that those who sold these pieces of paper could fine (indeed imprison) those who refused to buy them (Sir Edward’s “medieval mind” just did not understand the Progressive modern world……).
Nor did this reactionary bigotry end with Sir Edward Coke.
Chief Justice Sir John Holt (late 17th century – the generation that produced the English Bill of Rights and other hopelessly reactionary documents. with their right to keep and bear arms and so on, that are affront to the modern Progressive world) held to the same view that Acts of Parliament do not overturn fundamental principles of natural justice embodied in the centuries of tradition of Common Law reasoning (in spite of Progressive Legal Positivist Thomas Hobbes “proving” that there was no such thing as natural justice or natural law in a moral way – and that the judges of the Common Law, in seeking justice over the dusty centuries, were just lost in illusions – true law being just the will of the ruler).
Chief Justice Holt – even cited judges as far back as Bracton (did he not understand that only what has been said in the last five minutes matters?) and openly stated that Acts of Parliament do not trump fundamental law – indeed it is the other way round. And that it was possible (although difficult) for legal reasoning to find justice. Not that all judges would always agree (YES – there are other cases in the centuries of Year Books that contradict the cases that Sir Edward Coke cited, he knew that and it does NOT undermine his position), but that legal reasoning (fundamentally reasoning in justice – after the manner of Aristotelian reasoning) was possible – that law was NOT just the ravings of Kings and Parliaments. That fundamental law was different to (and higher than) “legislation”.
Chief Justice Holt even tried to apply this to slavery – which to him (as to the 19th century American lawyer and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Salmon P. Chase) was the Common Law crimes of false imprisonment (dragging someone back if they ran away), and violent assault (whipping someone for refusing to work – no more acceptable in Common Law than throwing someone in prison for refusing to buy a piece of paper, a “license” or an “insurance policy” as with “Obamacare”).
In the United States this reactionary tradition continued with, for example, Justice Pierce Butler of the Supreme Court who held (by dissenting in “Buck Versus Bell”) that a State (even after it passed a “statute”) could not hold down a screaming woman and cut her up for the “crime” of (allegedly) having a “low IQ” out of fear that the women might give birth to babies who also might (allegedly) commit the “crime” if having a “low IQ”.
Justice Butler did not even believe that the government had the right (even after passing a statute) to exterminate “inferior races” – he had clearly never read the noble Progressive writings of the Fabian socialists H.G. Wells (the teaming millions of blacks, browns and yellows must go, forms of gas could be developed and…..) and George Bernard Shaw (every person should be made to justify their existence before a government board, “like the income tax tribunal” and if the board was not happy with them, they should be executed), friends of fellow Supreme Court Judge – O. W. Holmes Jr who wrote the Progressive view of Buck V Bell.
To a Progressive such as Holmes the old American saying (attributed to Mark Twain) – “no man’s property or liberty is safe – when the legislature is in session” (a much realistic attitude that the deluded British faith in Parliament) is replied to with “and a jolly good thing to!”.
Well where do you stand gentle reader?
With the vile reactionaries such as Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice John Holt, Edmund Burke (see his writings on Ireland and India), American Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, 20th century Justice Salmon P. Chase (and the others of the “Four Horsemen” who opposed such Progressive things as Franklin Roosevelt “National Recovery Agency” – General Johnson’s Jackbooted “Blue Eagle” thugs who tried to set the prices and business practices of every enterprise in the United States).
Or do you stand with the noble Sir Francis Bacon (of The New Atlantis), Sir William Petty (the creator mathematical “economic planning” in the mid 17th century), Thomas Hobbes, the Bowood Circle of the late 18th century (funded by Lord S.) with such lovely people as Jeremy Bentham – with his 13 Departments of State controlling every aspect of life (as it is the duty of government to promote pleasure and oppose pain – and natural law and natural rights are “nonsense on stilts”, law being simply the will of the rulers), and with the Hobbes lovers among the “Westminster Review” crowd of the early 19th century (with their “land question” – i.e. the view that the state could plunder the ancient estates, overturning “feudal” notions going back to the ninth century, as David Ricardo had “proved” that….. let us ignore the fact that Frank Fetter refuted David Ricardo on land a century ago, the Ottoman Empire, and Eastern Despotism generally, rocks, it is “Progressive” to attack the estates of “feudal” Western land holders). And the “New Liberals” of the late 19th century, and the Fabians and the American Progressives and………….
Ignore the warnings of old reactionary Common Lawyers such as Sir Edward Coke and John Holt that Progressive Francis Bacon stuff is really the dark side of Roman Law – the “Civilians” with their doctrines that the will of the ruler has the force of law, and that no law binds the government (because the government can change the law as it likes).
After all such warnings are repeated in the speeches of reactionary (and “corrupt”) President Warren Harding and reactionary (and “stupid”) President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s (see the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents) when they pointed out that such things as the Progressive “New Freedom” of Woodrow Wilson which claimed to “evolve” beyond the principles of the Constitution of the United States, are (in fact) a product of German collectivist political philosophy (see J. Goldberg “Liberal Fascism”) going back as far as the 18th century philosophy (see the works of Hayek on this – for example the “Constitution of Liberty” and “Law, Legislation and Liberty” – although Hayek can never free himself from the general philosophy of the very people whose political ideas he attacks – and, contrary to Hayek, their politics comes naturally from their philosophy) and that this political philosophy is (in turn) a return to the ideas of the “civilians” – the Roman Law scholars with their doctrine that the government is limited by no law (as it can create any law it likes – and change any existing law) and that one must hope for wise rulers to promote the happiness of the people… The reactionary Harding and Coolidge claiming that those who seek to “evolve” beyond “vulgar” or “primitive” views of freedom (the property rights view embodied in such things as the British and American Bill of Rights) actually collapse back into the darkest tyrannical despotism.
Surely no one (but the most hardened and bitter reactionary) would deny that governments should promote pleasure and prevent pain (prevent the little darling people, children really, hurting ourselves) – without letting any silly “old right” stand in their way?