You are currently browsing the daily archive for 2 October 2009.

A little reach-around for the blogroll. Hit “home” for all these folks, willya? They deserve the attention. But hit the tip jar (right over there <<<)first.

Rand Simberg weighs in on Obama at the IOC, with pretty much the same take as everybody else has. He also suggests that we Don’t Panic over the 2012 Winter Solstice.

Gerard mentions the Olympics, and has a poem for you (a treat, as always.) He links Michelle’s Mirror, which gives the predictable spin.

Babalu snarks about Chicago like everybody else, but also notes that the Mensa people may not be as smart as they think they are. Hint: IQ is not WQ.

At Collins’s place Enoch Root mentions the Lympics, but Rocketman talks about something that may be more important

Fausta snarks about the “loss” in Copenhagen, with lots of links leading to more snark, but you should be more interested in Honduras.

Curiously enough, No Pasaran hasn’t commented on the Lympics. Erik is more interested in climate doomsayers. So should we all be.

Paco sneers at the McCain move to the center. Dream on, John.

At Protein Wisdom, Jeff G. hisself makes a too-rare appearance to mention that failure to get the Olympics stuns the Chicago crowd. (A commenter there suggested the “Lympics with no O” joke, and I lost the attribution. Sorry, guy.)

Tim Blair notes a significant anniversary, and also snarks about Chicago (O No!)

Norm ignores the Lympics altogether, preferring to post an (excellent) essay on liberal confusion about intervention. Just remember that when he says “liberal” he means what we understand by “Progressive”, hmm?

Another Black Conservative also skips the Lympics to note that Michael Moore is perhaps not as loyal to the Progressive Cause as his speeches might hint.

Juliette notes a reality check but doesn’t think it will be much attended to. I tend to agree.

Beldar puts blame where blame is due. Clearly it’s all George Bush’s fault!

Right Wing Sparkle says the show must go on. The bulge in her cheek is hardly noticeable.

Closing Velocity, like a lot of sensible people, lets the Lympics go by without comment. McKittrick wants you to see pictures of Chinese missiles. No, of course we don’t need a missile defense. It’s destabilizing.

Mostly Cajun mentions Chicago’s disappointment with predictable snark, but the more significant posts are about generational amnesia and telling the Brits that, no matter what anybody says, they mostly did good in several senses.

Anthony Watts promotes a commenter’s observations about tree rings, and continues to support Ross McKitrick’s beatdown of the Mann “hockey stick”. Lookin’ more like it’s a bit pucked up all the time.

And that’s all I’ve got time for today, folks. I’ll probably be back tomorrow, but Sunday’s problematical, and all next week I’ll be clearing out the dead store and finding places to stuff stuff. Please hit the tip jar. I’m gonna need gas for the truck, just to get out of here.

…because there’s no “O”.

Little Miss Attila links to a piece at  Hillbuzz crowing that “Chicago is Saved!”, and snarks a bit herself. Allahpundit embeds the video of Obama’s what-went-wrong speech, and almost snarks enough to redeem some of his past sins 🙂

I haven’t linked to Harry’s Place, formerly “Hurry Up Harry” (a British in-joke), despite having it on the blogroll. You should visit. They’re Leftists, with all the usual comcomitants, but good folk for all that.

Today they discuss Obama’s failed bid for the Olympics to come to Chicago, and one of the commenters, David All, says

2. The Right’s joy at the USA not getting the Olympics will seem unpatriotic to most Americans and will go down sourly with them.

Not out here among the Great Unwashed of Flyover Country, David.

In the first place, “getting the Olympics” is not seen as any sort of triumph or patriotic necessity. After Salt Lake City’s experience, a lot of us see it as just another expen$ive way to let the narcissistic politicians and media whores strut their stuff, and many of the rest just don’t give a damn. Only a very few people will ever get to see the Games in person, and we know damn well we’re not on anybody’s shortlist for tickets. On the TeeVee, it wouldn’t matter whether they were in Madagascar or Moline, or on the Moon for that matter.

In the second place, the majority of us don’t see it as a loss for “America” or “the USA” at all. It’s a setback for the narcissistic media whore who sleeps in the White House between campaign appearances, and that’s all to the good.

The Union “leaders” and local political forces in Chicago are no doubt really, really sorry they missed all that graft, especially the opportunity to sell the run-down tenements they rent to their hapless constituents to the Treasury for Big Buck$. No doubt the members of the crafts unions are disappointed at missing yet another chance to ogle the scenery whilst leaning on their shovels at $50 an hour, as well, but most of them would have been disappointed anyway — like Michael Moore, the Chicago “leadership” is only interested in promoting Union labor when the kickbacks are big enough, and the work would have been done by Latino immigrants working under the table anyway.

At least if it’s in Rio the Latinos won’t have to leave home to get work.

ADDENDUM: Another good reason to visit Harry’s Place is “Raziq”, who is currently doing a series of posts on Qutb, who expresses the philosophic basis behind militant Islam (yes, there is one).

If I see that you are about to leap off a cliff, I will advise you against doing that.

If you then tell me that the Land of Hilk and Money is on the other side and accuse me of depriving you, or that there are Starving! Children! you intend to succor and accuse me of indifference to their fate, I’m just going to call you a fool and continue to advise you against the jump, because you won’t get there and will hurt yourself in trying. I’m not telling you I won’t let you have it, I’m telling you you won’t get there.

Perhaps I have something at the bottom that would be negatively affected by the impact of 50+ kilograms of meat moving at terminal velocity for this atmosphere. If I dislike you personally, that might motivate me to warn you instead of letting you splash on the rocks — but, again, I’m not trying to say you aren’t permitted, I’m saying you won’t succeed. After all, if you did succeed my possessions would be safe from the impact.

When I tell you something won’t work, I mean exactly that, no more, no less — that is, it won’t achieve your stated goal, it won’t get you there. It does not mean I don’t believe the stated goal is desirable; in fact it makes no statement whatever about the goal. Shrieking that I don’t want you to reach the goal, when what I’m telling you is that the path you’re on won’t get to the goal, is jackassery of the first order — and leads me to suspect that you are lying, that your stated goal is not the same as your real one.

…is where both Libertarians and Socialists go off the rails. Libertarians call it a “natural right”; Socialists sneer at that, and they’re correct. Wolves have no deeds to their range, and herbivore herds don’t get title to the grasslands.

Just because something isn’t “natural” doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, though. Cultivating plants isn’t “natural”, either, nor are cell phones. Societies evolve, just like creatures do. The policies and procedures — customs — of societies are much more mutable than the genes that control physical traits, so the process is faster, but the principle is the same: Those societies which adopt customs that are advantageous survive and prosper, and eventually partially or wholly displace the societies whose customs are less advantageous.

Private property began as a confluence of personal property and robbers sharing the swag. Few if any societies lack the concept of personal property — “my knife”, “my breechclout” and the like are generally accepted as valid assertions, although societies differ greatly as to how personal property is asserted and defended. When a band or tribe managed to defeat another, the leader or chief  saw to the distribution of the spoils, with the largest share going to his trusted subordinates and a good bit dedicated to bribing his challengers and competitors for the leadership position to remain quiescent. Spoils thus distributed became the personal property of the recipients.

The invention of agriculture caused an extension of that principle. Agriculture requires control of territory, of land in which plants can be planted and cultivated. It produces a surplus compared to the hunter-gatherer-scavenger lifestyle, but a portion of that surplus must be devoted to defending the territory, not just against competing agriculturalists who would like to use it, but against the hunter-gatherer-scavenger bands, which can’t tell the difference between cultivated plants and naturally-growing ones except for the abundance, which naturally attracts them. If the tribe is to grow, another portion of the surplus must be allocated to territorial expansion, because the more territory it controls the more it can grow and the larger it can become.

Agriculture, and the tracts of territory devoted to it, must be managed. Management is hard, and as the territories became larger with expansion the task of managing them grew beyond the capabilities of a single tribal chief and his coterie of assistants. That’s especially true because neither the chief nor his subordinates were primarily selected for management ability — competition for leadership was mostly based on strength.

The solution was deputies. The tribe’s territory was divided up into smaller tracts with a sub-leader or subchief assigned to each one. That reduced the management problem to something a single leader could more readily accomplish. Such assignments were, of course, made to the people the chief could trust, which is to say, to the people who were already his subordinates and supporters, and the assignment was made in terms of ownership by analogy: The territory of a conquered tribe was divided up among the chief’s subordinates in the same way that the personal property of a defeated tribe had been.

The assignment was not without conditions. The newly assigned “owners” of the sub-territories were required to remain subordinate to the chief and to the main tribe as a whole, and the agricultural produce could not be kept in its entirety by the new management; a portion of it had to be returned to the main tribe. Owners had to muster for defense of the tribe’s territory against competitors desiring expansion, with such musters managed by the chief; more subtly, owners had to muster against insubordination, when one of their number decided to no longer accept the authority of the central tribe or chief, or to expand his sub-territory at the expense of one of his neighbors.

Implementation details differed widely, and still do, but already we can see the main features of the system of “private property”: the central authority (“Government”) allows individuals or small subgroups “possession” or “ownership”, and guarantees “title” (protection of that right of “ownership”) to the property against both external (“defense”) and internal (“theft” or “robbery”) threats, so long as the “owners” remain subordinate and pay a portion of the proceeds back (“taxes”). That’s still the way it works today. If someone tries to use your private property without permission, the sheriff will come and run them off — but if you don’t pay your property taxes or try to manage the property in ways insubordinate to the Law, that same sheriff will come and run you off, and the County Court will assign that property to somebody else.

When industrialization came along the system was extended and generalized. “Private property” no longer simply means land or territory; it may mean a bank account, part interest in an industrial enterprise, or something that’s entirely a construct, like “intellectual property”. The main features endure.

Why did the system continue? It’s obviously unfair — that is, it violates the conditions of survival for a hunter-gatherer-scavenger tribe by devoting huge chunks of resources to single individuals or favored groups, rather than dividing them up according to what the tribe members need to survive. If the roving members of the tribe don’t bring what they find back and share it with the others, especially the females, the tribe dies out. Private property is emphatically not sharing, and in fact (if it is to work) calls for equitable sharing must be treated like attempts at territorial aggrandizement and forcefully resisted. How did the custom get established?

The short answer is “evolution”. Private property got established by mutation of customs, and was continued and expanded by the process of evolution. Societies which adopted private property became more prosperous than those that did not, and eventually marginalized or supplanted their less “advanced” neighbors in exactly the same way a mutation for greater strength allows an animal species to marginalize or supplant its competitors for the same ecological niche.

(A longer answer, specifying what feature of the system actually creates the advantage, is beyond the scope of this essay, beyond noting in passing that it derives from the management problem that evoked the system in the first place.)

Libertarians are wrong. Private property is not a “natural right”; it is a custom of society like any other, and like any other custom it can be changed or eliminated. But Socialists are wrong, too — private property is a custom that evolved by the same mechanism that gave a tiger its teeth, that is, societies that adopt it survive and prosper better than those that do not. It’s at least curious to note that many of the people who are loud in their approbation of Darwin et. seq. against “creationists” are equally loud in the condemnation of the result of a process they nominally approve.

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When I Posted

October 2009