Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Liberal War On Happiness

In The Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government, Murray essentially makes the the point that 1) the state (obviously) doesn't know what happiness is, and 2) has no idea how to measure it anyway. More generally, "Almost nothing having to do with social policy that we can measure directly is the construct we are really interested in."

For example, what is poverty? I personally know any number of people who are well above the "poverty line," but whose lives are spiritually and intellectually impoverished. Retarded, even. We call them "liberals."

Or think of GPA, which is an attempt to measure a construct called "intelligence." Sometimes it correlates, but there's certainly no causal connection between the two (not to mention all the corrupting factors, e.g., grade inflation). And life itself will sort the intelligent from the stupid much more efficiently than any test one could design, for the test is supposed to be a representative sample of "life," just as money is supposed (by the left) to be an analogue of happiness.

I'm currently reading a book about my FFF (Favorite Founding Father), Alexander Hamilton, and indeed one of the most appealing things about him is that he rocketed to the top of Cosmo-American history on wings of pure brilliance and practical intelligence, unlike, say, Obama, who was empowered by white liberal guilt, political thuggery, and a glib appeal to low-information voters, i.e., none other than the intellectually and spiritually impoverished folkers he promises to rescue from their squalor.

Obama likes to pretend his ascent was a quintessentially American one, but it is the very opposite, given the inverted world of the left, in which the scum rises to the top.

In Hamilton's case, he truly had nothing going for him but his own gifts, a "penniless, illegitimate, West Indian immigrant barely out of his teens" when plucked from obscurity by George Washington. In contrast, Obama was plucked from obscurity by people who wish to destroy America, such as Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall. Mission Accomplished.

Now, this question of happiness is a crucial one, because the vast majority of unconstitutional policies promoted by the left find safe harbor under the rubric of "the pursuit of happiness." Someone's supposed "unhappiness" pretty much justifies anything the left wishes to do to us, just as desire instantaneously converts to constitutionality for the left, i.e., "if I want it, it's a right" (say, if I want to murder my baby or force someone else to pay for my birth control).

Since happiness is a (supposedly) nebulous concept, it is reduced to the crude quantitative metric of the "poverty line." But in reality, there is no reason to assume that human beings below this imaginary line are "unhappy," nor that they are all alike. Really, it's just a pretext for the state to get involved in everybody's business. It's a little like the state saying, "from now on we're only going to help the 50% of people who are below average. Once they are brought up to average or above, we'll quit."

The problem, of course, is that half of the citizenry is by definition below average. Which is also why the percentage of people living "beneath the poverty line" never changes. A free society is going to be pretty efficient at sorting people along these lines. The mistake is to use a snapshot instead of a motion picture to examine the data.

In short, there is no such thing as the poor, since the composition of the group is constantly changing, with people coming and going for a host of reasons, everything from talent to bad luck to divorce to stupidity to drugs to being a victim of the liberal educational establishment.

Let's look it up, just to make sure I'm not being a polemical assoul. Here it is:

Virtually no change between 1965 and the present. And prior to 1965, when the spending floodgate was opened, you can see that the line was dropping sharply. Heckuva a job, Lyndie!

(And this doesn't even get into the massive destruction of whole communities as a result of the Law of Unintended Catastrophes, since the benevolent feelings of liberals never result in such things. Conversely, conservatives by definition have bad intentions, so the fact that their policies actually help people is quite beside the point. In their wildest dreams the KKK couldn't have accomplished what the left has done -- and Obama is doing -- to blacks. But that's what leftists do: to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, they replace what works with what sounds good.)

Blah blah blah, this is what I really wanted to highlight: Murray suggests that "Money buys access to things and possibilities but not to the capacity to enjoy them" (emphasis mine).

That particular sentence really arrested my attention, but I'll continue:

"In that sense, the privileged are not those with the most money but those with other gifts -- natural abilities, curiosity and interests, realized through education -- and enough money (which is not necessarily a lot) to exercise them."

Could it be that the most important factor in happiness is this mysterious "capacity to enjoy?"

Lets' get down to cases, in this case, mine. This will no doubt sound outrageously narcissistic to some -- a nutcase -- but it's not intended to, and besides, I have a feeling that it applies to most Raccoons. The essential point is that I get such a kick out of just being myself -- in the fullest sense of the term -- that nothing else in the world -- certainly no amount of money -- could ever replace it.

I think this explains why, when I was "poor" -- which I suppose I must have been, but never bothered to check -- I was not only not unhappy, but again, getting an intrinsic kick out of just being me. In fact, now that I think about it, this intrinsic enjoyment may be the key to my lack of conventional achievement, thank God! I mean, if you're already yourself, what's to achieve except more of it?

Interestingly, I get essentially the same kick out of my son. I feel so privileged to just know this unusual soul, and to be able to interact with him on a day-to-day basis, that it is literally impossible for me to imagine something more meaningful, more joyous, and more conducive to happiness. And it's a truly egalitarian form of happiness, because it's available to most everyone.

And feminists gave this up for some stupid corporate job? Or, like the archetypal liberalette, Julia, a marriage to the state? No wonder they're miserable.

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Government Of, By, and For the Unhappy Losers

I would like to discuss human happiness vs. what is typically thought of as "success." Sometimes they go together, but the older and wiser one becomes, the more one recognizes that there is no necessary correlation between the two. Indeed, all you have to do is read a few biographies of the rich and famous to find out how tortured, or driven, or persecuted, or conflicted, or tormented, or insecure, or unsatisfied they were.

Part of the problem is that an unhappy person tends to project happiness elsewhere, into other people. In other words, the unhappy person sees happiness in the people he envies. This is obviously not a true -- or even conscious -- idea of happiness, just a fantasy, often allied with projection of other primitive impulses, such as greed.

When a leftist complains about all those greedy and happy people, you can be sure he's just projecting, and that if he knew how to be happy he'd just be happy without any need to obsess over the projected emotional muddleman. In reality, no matter how much money X has, it has no impact whatsoever on my personal happiness. It can only have an effect in fantasy, and this fantasy needs to be rooted in some personal lack. For every fully functioning man has the means to happiness.

This pathological mechanism almost defines the left, since the left reduces reality to material and economic terms. Now, matter is not nothing, but it clearly isn't everything. Nevertheless, the left has managed to convince the majority that human happiness can be reduced to a crude economic metric, and that it is the task of government to force this metric up via transfers of wealth.

How's that working out? Trillions of dollars spent on the war on poverty, and the needle of human happiness hasn't budged an inch. Not only that, but because people in the meantime have bought into leftist philosophy, they imagine that the government isn't spending enough on the insane project of making them happy (instead of preserving the conditions which allow happiness, more on which below).

There is no question that the welfare state directly undermines happiness by short-circuiting its causes. To cite one obvious example, a big part of happiness involves a feeling of accomplishment for an achievement of something genuinely difficult and worthwhile. At the opposite end we have state-mandated affirmative discrimination, which can confer the effect of achievement on blacks or women or hispanics, but not the cause. But what is an achievement with no cause?

That's right: it's just narcissism, or self-deception, or theft, or cheating. Clearly it's not the real thing, and on some level, every so-called beneficiary of affirmative discrimination knows this. The only way to preserve one's dignity in such a situation is to attack the entire system as corrupt, so that genuine achievers are thought to be just lucky, or connected, or greedy, etc.

I think Obama falls into this category -- a weightless mediocretin who was effortlessly wafted to the top on the winds of white liberal guilt. A man that is literally not permitted to fail can never find true happiness, for what has he achieved? Nothing. If Obama really thought about this -- that is to say, if he were normal -- he would be embarrassed or ashamed. I mean, Ben Carson he is not, and how embarrassing for him to even be seen in the same photo.

Indeed, Obama is Carson's antitype in more ways than one, in that Carson is a man of singular accomplishment who has devoted his life to saving babies, while Obama is a vacuous demagogue and corrupt politician who has devoted his life to murdering them. (And let me emphasize that I have some sympathy for aspects of the pro-choice argument, but I cannot imagine ever being "proud" about it, nor can I imagine being so delusional as to think that abortion isn't a grave evil, irrespective of whether or not it is legal.)

Much of Obama's outlook can be attributed to his implicit awareness of the fact that he has ascended to the top of a system he thinks of as absolutely corrupt. Therefore, in order to preserve his dignity, he will be the one who "fundamentally transforms" this rotten system. He is like someone who becomes a mafia kingpin, and then decides to make the organization legitimate.

The problem is that such a person doesn't really "know anything," so he'll ultimately fail at whatever he tries. In the real world, corporate CEOs aren't just greedy and corrupt mafia godfathers. As Thomas Sowell says, if all it requires to be rich is to be greedy, then we'd all be rich. Problem solved.

Now, any system -- even the very best system in the world -- will be regarded as rotten by those who fail in it, but who cannot take responsibility for their failure. This is just human nature. Few people are brave and insightful enough to say, "I'm a loser and it's my own damn fault," especially when an attractive ideology is available to tell them that nothing is their fault. In a democracy, this can easily lead to a situation in which we have a government of, by, and for Self-deluded Losers, which was precisely one of major headaches of the founders.

In his classic Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bailyn writes that "faith ran high" among the framers

"that a better world than any that had ever been known could be built where authority was distrusted and held in constant scrutiny; where the status of men flowed from their achievements and from their personal qualities, not from distinctions ascribed to them at birth; and where the use of power over the lives of men was jealously guarded and severely restricted." Only with such a distrust of political authority could institutions spontaneously emerge to "express human aspirations, not crush them" (in Murray, emphasis mine).

The founders were quite aware of the fact that something in a man changes when he goes from private to public -- in short, when he is suddenly given access to political power. Such men are to be profoundly distrusted, especially the ones who seek it. For starters, just what personal defect(s) are they attempting to conceal or compensate for?

That one's for you, Obama.

What? You only want to "help"? Why you passive-aggressive bastard. What about the half of us who not only don't want or need your help, but regard it as destructive even to those you presume to help? When I say that I despise Obama and everything he stands for, I am obviously speaking for millions, not just the imaginary "one percent" of wealthy malefactors who have caused all our problems.

We can be sure that Obama has never had the thought, "what if the founders of this great nation were wiser than I am?" Because to even think the thought would create a contrast so odious, so ridiculous, that he'd banish it from consciousness. It would be like sitting in the shadow of Ben Carson. That won't happen again! Better to just stick with what cognitive heavyweights such as Andrew Sullivan or Chris Matthews feel about him. Ahhhh, that's better!

The founders weren't only aware of the danger of ambitious but mediocre men with power, but concerned about the source of this destructive power. In the past we have called this Loser Power. In nature, a being with no power has no power, period. There's no way to get around it. Only humans can convert loserhood into genuine political clout, making it a farce multiplier. In a quantitative world of majority rule, qualities literally do not count. If 51% believe 2+2=5, it's a done deal.

For which reason a central message of the Federalist is that Loser Power is "a danger so great and so unending that all the structures of the government must be arrayed against them," because "republics collapse when a faction is able to use the state to impose its vision of the good on the rest of society" (Murray).

Are we there yet? Or, is the left correct: that the federal government is just too small and unobtrusive?

To be continued....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Title IX, Benedict XVI, and the Absolution of Liberal Guilt

Given the surprising news of the deity, I think I'll fast-forward a few chapters, to the Pope. Like, what is he? Or in other words, by virtue of what principle is such an institution not only possible but necessary?

Other pack animals have top dogs. Is that what he is, just a vertical alpha? Postmodernists would likely say "yes," which is precisely (they say) why we need to eliminate this authoritarian atavism, or at least not take it seriously.

More generally, postmodernism, is opposed in principle to hierarchy (or pretends to be), which is the secret to why it cannot recognize or tolerate quality in any dimension, right down to the most trivial activity. It is why all the kids on my son's baseball team are forced to engage in the ritual of receiving a meaningless trophy at the end of the season.

Talk about a fake benediction! Humans don't have the power to forgive bad baseball playing.

This refusal to acknowledge hierarchy is also how the the left can confuse a person with a single meaningful accomplishment or ability with Obama.

All of the children on my son's team are, of course, aware of the inevitable Hierarchy of Skilz, unless they're either dense or afflicted with delusionally high self esteem.

So, who came up with this loony idea of pretending no one is better than anyone else, so that everybody equally sucks?

The left, that's who. You wouldn't think that anti-Catholic bigotry and children's sports are linked, but they most certainly are.

Indeed, the same sickness extends to adulthood, for example, vis-a-vis Title IX, a federal law that forces us to pretend we give a fuck about women's sports that don't feature scantily clad nubileans frolicking about. While we're at it, how about a federal law that forces us to watch male beauty contests?

Bear in mind that I'm not coming at this from a Catholic angle, but from a metaphysical one. And the plain fact of the matter is that if there is a hierarchy, there is a top. Indeed, there is only a hierarchy because there is a top. Simple as.

Recall the subversive wise crack of the old Soviet Union: we pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us. Thanks to the left, Little Leaguers can now say: we pretend to win, and grown-ups pretend to give us trophies. Or, as it pertains to Affirmative Discrimination, we pretend to be intelligent, and they pretend to give us degrees. But a degree in sociology or education or women's studies is worth less than a Little League trophy.

It reminds me also of music. There's probably a proper term for it, but if you think of, say, the much-copied ending of Take the A Train, it goes dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-DA. The way the song is set up, our minds anticipate that last DA. It couldn't end with any other note. Until someone like Monk came along and played with musical expectations.

But that's the point: a Monkish surprise only works because we're anticipating something else. Indeed, that is why someone called jazz "the sound of surprise." It's always tweaking our musical expectations. It is also how comedy works.

Are there bad hierarchies? Of course. But the left pretends to treat all hierarchies as if they were bad. A bad hierarchy has no intrinsic legitimacy, but is fraudulently rooted in the human need for status, recognition, and power.

I suppose old-fascioned European style "conservatism" did the opposite: glorifying sometimes illegitimate hierarchy just for its own sake. But modern conservative classical liberalism is (or should be) the champion of legitimate hierarchy -- or, in a word, excellence, and let the chips fall where they may. If UC Berkeley is 100% Asian and Jew, that just means that other cultures need to imitate them, not discriminate against them by handing out a lot of phony parchment trophies.

It reminds me of all those tyrannies that officially refer to themselves as "Democratic" or "Republic" -- Iran, Cuba, China, North Korea, etc. Ironically, these regimes explicitly pay tribute to what they implicitly deny, but that is what the left always does. The left by definition superimposes rigid, top-down, freedom-denying hierarchies over spontaneous and self-organizing ones. Obama's "signature accomplishment" was just such an attack on the field of medicine.

The result will surely not be more medical excellence, but rather, a more equal distribution of medical mediocrity, or worse. The Cosmic Law mandates that medicine will become more expensive (because there is no longer a rational means to determine price and an efficient way to drive down costs), more scarce (because of increased demand, plus potential doctors gravitating toward other fields), and diminished quality (which the left doesn't care about to begin with, since it implies one of those nasty hierarchies).

Better get on to the Pope before we run out of time. There he is, to your right:

Tomberg says that the key principle here is "the presence of the act of benediction." But just what is this transfer of vertical energies? "What is its source and its effect?" And "Who has the authority to bestow benediction?"

Well, no mere man does, for starters. That way leads to madness of varying kinds, everything from religious cults to the cult of celebrity to the cult of Obama (but I threepeat myself).

In contrast, real benediction is "the putting into action of divine power transcending the individual thought and will of the one who is blessed as well as the one who is pronouncing the blessing."

Here again, this "impersonality" is the key. Really, we're talking about a vertically open system between man and God, or as I prefer to unsay, between (¶) and O.

There are two main ways the process can be disrupted: by the ego of the benedictee misappropriating the energies; or by the ego of benedictor claiming a unique power and ability to transmit them. But no human has this right or this ability.

Rather, he can only be the channel for such. Unless you don't believe in hierarchy, in which case every man is not just his own priest, but his own deity. And then we're back to the left, and "may the baddest god win." For the leftist, we are all of the same race: the race to the bottom.

Now, the universal principle of man's "pontifical" nature (in which our feet are in the many but our heads in the One, so to speak) is unthinkable in the absence of the (↓↑) vertical energies. Tomberg describes it as "a double movement, ascending and descending, similar to the circulation of the blood."

This is symbolized in the card, where one of the acolytes below has his left hand raised, the other his right hand lowered. This corresponds to the right and left brains respectively, which makes sense, because the right brain "reaches up," so to speak, toward synthesis, unity, love, and mercy, while the left brain "reaches down" into law, order, and "severity."

With regard to the overall circulation of (↓↑), Tomberg says that it is as if the "blue blood" ascends and is detoxified, returning down as the ʘxidized "red blood" of benediction and mercy.

As it so happens, my son had his first "reconciliation" (read: confession!) last Saturday. What is this ritual but a rather precise reenactment of just the cosmic principles we are discussing?

In which case my son undertook the task of searching his conscience for "impurities," so to speak, and these are in turn "detoxified" through (not by!) the Priest. Really, it was a beautiful thing to behold, and yet, it isn't difficult to imagine the multitude of ways human beings could screw up such a divine slackrament.

Nevertheless, abusus non tollit usum (the abuse of a thing does not take away from its legitimate use). Otherwise Obama would be an argument for abolishing both the presidency and the Constitution, when he's really just an argument against the cheap grace of absolving liberal racial guilt via electoral trophies to the unqualified.

Next time, do us a favor: just go to confession instead of imposing your penance on the rest of us. We have our own sins to worry about, but racism isn't one of them.

The end. Out of time.