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Comments by bob

On “How to make money: James M Buchanan on completing the American Revolution

@ CK MacLeod:

I also included he word variant to modify "orthodoxy", perhaps too weak a word to convey Buchanan's innovation. (Also, maybe this is a contradictory formulation, can there be a variant of orthodoxy?)

At any rate, the orthodoxy is that money is, should be, commodity based. Buchanan's innovation is change this to: money should function as if it were commodity based. But the indended result is the same (same in the sense of what is frequently claimed for commodity money) even if the mechanism is innovative.

The other orthodox aspect is as a cri de coueur for US sovereignty and world pre-eminence. It strikes me as kinda Panama Canal-y. (I problably shouldn't include this since if this makes no sense as stated, I'm probably not going to be albe to explain it for a while.)


OK "back door" is a poor choice of words.

Still, comparing it to the current workings of the Fed seems to undersell it a fair amount. So, let me rephrase:

If Buchanan means anything, he means a fundamental change in our financial system. Otherwise, what's the point?

This would constitutionalize a variant of conservative orthodoxy that the country does not have a consensus in favor of. It would be operated by a structure beyond the majority control. (The dynamics of demographics of the country probably not in favor of current conservative orthodoxy) If it did ever get enacted, it would be very difficult to overturn.

Again, otherwise, what's the point?

I am making the argument conservatives make about "activist judges" usurping the legislative branch's role.

Honestly, both of you know a lot more about all this than I do. And I'm amazed that I seem t be making as much sense (comparatively speaking) as your reactions suggest.

But this seems to me not a silver bullet, but a can of worms.


I guess I'm assuming that Buchanan's proposal is intended as a back door method for Rex's view. Otherwise, what's the point?

I do agree that this proposal has something of flavor of the parts of the Constituion that are "beyond that of democratic majoritarian politics" to protect "the minoity " the fathers were so fond of. But I don't see that as a good thing.

"Majoritarian politics" and politics are not the same thing. The Senate, Electoral College and the Court are quite enough that's beyond that of democratic majoritarian politics for me. This strikes me as a rear guard actin of conservatism to at least blunt the force of the demographics running in a less conservative direction.


@ CK MacLeod:


And if the United States should constitutionalize the dollar, along the lines suggested here, there would be little or no concern about the adherence of other countries to the dollar’s continuation as the international unit of account


There's already more than a little concern about the role of the dollar with China last year proposing a gradual move away from the dollar, citing among other things the Triffin dilemma.

Buchanan's remark simply brushes the issue aside without giving any justification for his confidence. In fact he does not refer to globalization directly at all. The large and growing interdependence of the national economies of the world is a fact that can't be simply brushed aside. Without some discussion of this, this idea seems incomplete at best.


@ Rex Caruthers:

Clearly it is controversial. Otherwise that's what we would be doing.

My point is that " stable predictable money" is possible only in a trivial sense. Yes we can order that a dollar is worth a specific quantity of silver, or whatever, but the real economy will accomplish the effect of fiat money through other media of exchange. Except such a system produces higher highs and lower lows with less predicability.

In any event, I guess I'm Troskyite about this, ie I don't think "stable predicable money" is possible in one country. The globlalized economy depends on fiat money and the US no longer has the critical mass to bend the world economy to its will.


@ Rex Caruthers:

What you do with Valuable stable money is put it in long term investments like new corporations that grow,and make one rich for a lifetime,not a few years or months.

Like tulips or cornering the gold market?

Predation is fundamental to all ecconomic activity, and certainly the free market.

I don't pretend to understand how all this is supposed to work, but my gut tells me you are promising way too much here.

Selfishness and altruism are both necessary, but each is not sufficient alone. If you want to argue that this proposal produces the right mix of the two impulses, let's hear it.

You also seem to be saying this proposal will turn back the clock on globalization. I just don't see that as possible.

On “Who “they” is

In GOP we trust.

On “Flamesem & Japesem (while Laughing at the Ground)

@ CK MacLeod:

It depends on how flexible your definitions of "selected" and "exaggeration" are.

Thoughts, patterns, concepts are all part of life. If anything, the definition becomes tautological at some point of anyalysis.


@ Joe NS:

My point is that we think in terms of our bodies a lot of the time, so is it any wonder that artists might take that and deconstruct it in various ways for various effects.

A Theater Prof I had defined art as "the selected exaggeration of life". I have not encountered a better one since then. It is wonderfully innocent of the "beauty" and "uplifting" sentiments that sometimes cloud discussions of art.

As for bad language, personally I cleaned up my mouth when my daughter was born. Now if one of the 7 words escapes my lips, people are aghast. Yes, we have become desentitized to these words, but their referents are still the same, and the use of that language carries an aggresive quality that frequently does diminish us. So maybe it's worthwhile if ithis kind of art to remind us of that.


@ Joe NS:

The Biblical notion that man was formed from the dust seems to me to cover all the bases without luridly dwelling on the viscera, which are not representative of man.

No shit? That's the heart of the matter, I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, what you said really pisses me off, come again??

We use the visera and their products to describe the human condition all the time.

"luridly" is pretty much the point of this kind of art. Personally, I'm kinda surprised it still seems to work.


@ CK

And I say almostbecause the dynamic you describe, pretty much describes history. I mean the idea that, finally,Our People, in all of human history, has stumbled upon, been revealed to, invented, a "universal community whose precepts would re-make the world" has been pretty much universal.

What I mean to suggest is that the dynamic of conservative and liberal is a biological adaptation encoded in our genes, and played out in our brain chemistry, and then our thoughts and actions.

Figuring out where the boundary between adaptive and destructive social behavior will always be a dynamic process because it is part of how homo sapiens behave.

That some people tend in one direction or the other is part of what has made human society successful.

The jumble and contradictions you describe is who and what we are, both as individuals and as societies.@ CK MacLeod:



There’s a constant attempt – it’s almost definitional for the “right” – to guard the border between us and them,

It's not almostdefinitional, it isdefinitional.

The border may be spacial, genetic or ideological.

This is a necessary function, and in evolutionary terms, reasonalbly easy to define. Heightend senstivity to threat by some of the ingroup is an evolutionary adaptation that allowed stone age people to survive constant danger.

However, taken too far, the ingroup shrinks too small to survive.

Which is the role of the Ur left, to expand the ingroup, to make alliances with other ingroups to provide the critical mass needed for defense - as long as it doesn't go too far and dilute the ingroup's control over itself.

On “Flamesem & Japesem (in another universe though, so it’s OK)

@False Witness

From the symptoms sometimes exhibited here, you may be right. I know that reading this blog sometimes makes me dizzy too.



From the review of "Memories.." "interprets his disease as enlightnenment."

I mean apt or what????

I suspect it's a stage of those around you coming to terms with your brain injury...more than one person said as much to me...although my Sensei just wanted a note from my doctor saying it was OK if I got hit in the head.

But beyond that, that phrase pretty much sums up a distressingly large chunk of political dscourse.


For maybe 15 years, I got my haircut by George at the barbershop at the local YMCA.l

George had a small TV tuned to Fox News, which inevitably sparked political discussion. George's clientelle included local politicians, movers and shakers, working stiffs, more brain damaged guys than you would think, Y residents, street short pretty much a cross section of the males using the Y.

George certainly had opinions, and was not shy about sharing them, but he also was the faithful keeper of the "Brain of the Barbershop" - the accumulated wisdom of all his patrons, refined as each customer opined and then heard what The Brain had so far decided.

It's hard for me to see this as a bad thing.

George retired, and now my wife cuts my hair. So I come here, searching for the Brain of the Barbershop.

On “The Moon will probably still be there later on…

Apparently the granduer of Western Civilization requires big govt to live long and prosper.

On “Fight Them All Together II: On Allahpundit’s questions

One avenue of analysis that I think is implicit, but so far (I confess, I haven't read every comment carefully) unstated here at ZC, is this: Sacred Ground.

This concept can rephrase some of what has been said in other terms.

What is the nature of the sacredness of ground zero? How far does it extend into Manhattan? Does the nature of that sacredness allow for different radii of sacredness for different structures and activities?

Then we can rephrase part of CK's discussion as "Do we declare Islam as profane because of 9/11?"

If so, wow.

On “A time for not choosing


The argument against progressivism is that who decides what is happiness and what is misery.

That's the argument both for and against every ideology and every form of government.

Implicit in your statement is the idea that there is some default or natural ideology and form of government, and they coincide with your opinions.

The Divine Right of Kings is one of many examples that come to mind.

My understanding of Madison is that the limiting principle is the checks and balances written into the Constitution.

I mean, good lord, we have 3.5 branches of government structured to check and balance the House of Respresentatives, and to protect the interests of "the minority" ie those with substantial property.

If it didn't turn out that way it wasn't from lack of trying.

On “Endless Unstoppable Flows of Bad Ugly Stuff That No One Seems To Be Able To Do Anything About

CK: "the cloudy ominous unstoppable confusion of it all"


Anybody who says they know what's going t0 happen doesn't.

Reminds me of this from the 70's (or at least he 70's I inhabited).

On “Look out below, the (other) sequel


Just so. As I said, some perspective. Wasn't really tryng to make a case for Obama as much as noting that the R poll looked awfully lonely by itself.

If I was trying to make a case, I might mention R's habitual tilt toward the R's.


Just for a little perspective, Real ClearPolitics's poll of polls gives a different picture.

Not to say that Obama doesn't have problems, potentially big ones, but I don't think he's where R's daily tracking shows him just yet.

On “Does anyone really hold those truths to be self-evident?


Momento looks really interesting, but I haven't watched it yet. I ration out my brain injury themed movies for when the "I can relate" response is likely to override the "god this is making me incredibly anxiious" response.

As to the more substantive comments post #77 my response will have to wait since I've just gotten home from some out patient surgery and am pretty high from the pain meds.

But I don't see "will to power" inevitalbe at all after deconstructing the self. That was part of my point about Buddhism about nihilism being psychological acting out.

Good meds.


This should clear everything up...persevere to the second half.


"Trees falling in the forest" is Zen rather than exstential, as are frogs jumping in ponds from the Poetry Month discussion.

Buddhism and Heidegger have meaningful similarities. A big difference is that Buddhism provides a path to living while Heidegger does not. The embodied mind of Evolutionary Psychology and the Deep Ecology movement are the children of Heidegger in the west attempting to find a path for living coming out of the western tradition.

The closest current expression of how to live (perhaps a more direct formulation of the word "rights") with these insights currently existing is the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. I specify this school because of its analytic tradition proceeding from the observation that everything has a cause and everything produces effects.

Here, a primary result of these observations is one of the hallmarks of all schools of Buddhism: no self.

In the west this idea upends conservative thinking completely. In the east it is deeply conservative.

Part of my fascination with current neuroscience is that the piciture of the mind that has so far emerged form it it seems to support several aspects of the Buddhist picture of the mind. To be sure, differences abound, especially what the Dalai Lama calls the "ontological confusion" of science.

I have avoided going in this direction here because it seemed either too far afield or too contentious (despite the blog's title). I bring it up now only to provide a living illustration of the implications of what I have been discussing.

Perhaps there are significant defects to this way of looking at things. But I think they are not of any greater scale than the defects of proceeding from the assumption of truly independent individuals, which seems to produce a lot of confusion just in defining basic terms.

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