Maturity

January 17, 2019

So Nancy Pelosi told Donald Trump he couldn’t give the State of the Union until the shutdown is over. Then he told her she can’t go on her trip until it’s over. I’m glad our government is run by such mature people.

If I ever run for president, one of my promises will be to always do the State of the Union as a written document, not as a speech. If I remember correctly, that’s what all presidents did until Woodrow Wilson, one of our worst presidents. The deal where the president makes a big, televised speech only contributes to our unhealthy deification of the presidency.

(My campaign slogan will be: “I’m not going to solve your problems.” My reason for running would be that too many people are looking for a president to take care of them, but no one could vote for me with that illusion.)

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What he said

January 16, 2019

Donald Trump is a symptom of a new kind of class warfare raging at home and abroad

But the New Class isn’t limited to communist countries, really. Around the world in the postwar era, power was taken up by unelected professional and managerial elites. To understand what’s going on with President Donald Trump and his opposition, and in other countries as diverse as France, Hungary, Italy and Brazil, it’s important to realize that the post-World War II institutional arrangements of the Western democracies are being renegotiated, and that those democracies’ professional and managerial elites don’t like that very much, because they have done very well under those arrangements.  And, like all elites who are doing very well, they don’t want that to change.

The postwar era saw the creation of international institutions ranging from NATO to the United Nations to the World Bank, along with a proliferation of think tanks and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to accompany them. It saw the vast expansion of higher education in the United States, and the transformation of academic degrees into something close to must-haves for the upper-middle class. It saw a great expansion of power on the part of media organizations, and on the part of government bureaucrats and lobbyists, both of whose numbers increased enormously.

But after the turn of the millennium, other Americans, much like the workers and peasants in the old Soviet Union, started to notice that while the New Class was doing quite well (America’s richest counties now surround Washington, D.C.), things weren’t going so well for them. And what made it more upsetting was that — while the Soviet Union’s apparatchiks at least pretended to like the workers and peasants — members of America’s ruling class seemed to view ordinary Americans with something like contempt, using terms such as “bitter clingers,” “deplorables” and flyover people.

I think this is exactly right. There’s a lot I don’t like about Donald Trump, but he has spoken for and to people who our economy and culture have been leaving behind. Until those of us with good educations and urban lifestyles learn some humility and develop some respect for the people not like us, things will only get worse.

Vale MMXVIII, Ave MMXIX

January 1, 2019

Well, it was a crazy year. I have hopes that the next one will be better, though.

That’s easy to believe

December 10, 2018

The Babylon Bee: Swarm Of Locusts In Book Of Revelation Revealed To Be Twitter

Making the world better

December 6, 2018

The clear lesson of history is that almost every system or scheme to make the world a better place, if implemented, in actual fact makes things worse.

Do you really want to make the world better? Repent!

Now, we tend to think of repentance as some kind of punishment or penance for sins, but that’s not quite right. As Pres. Nelson pointed out in this year’s Christmas Devotional, the Greek word translated as repent (μετανόειν) means changing your mind or your spirit. Even if we’re basically good, until we become perfect we still have opportunities to change to something better. This is good news1: we aren’t stuck with what we are today, we can change!

So don’t try to change the world, try to change yourself. If we each become better people, then the world will be better too.


1 Gospel (Greek εὐαγγέλιον) means “good news.”

Normal

September 18, 2018

I get the impression that a lot of people think if we could just get rid of Trump, everything would go back to normal. This is an illusion, and it seems to me a dangerous illusion.

The problem is that what most of us consider “normal” is just the situation that has existed since the end of World War II, when society has been dominated by a particular set of institutions like academia, a unified news media, and government bureaucracies. Unfortunately these institutions, as happens to almost all human institutions as time passes, have been growing increasingly corrupt, sclerotic, and isolated from the people they are ostensibly designed to serve, and the people in them (and others in their social circles) have become arrogant, contemptuous, and condescending. (Also, the technologies and social situations for which those institutions were designed have disappeared or become outmoded.) Whatever else you might say about Trump, he spoke for and to the people who were the objects of that contempt, and they were the ones who elected him. Getting rid of him won’t do any good as long as the arrogance and condescension continues, and that hasn’t shown any sign of decreasing.

Rituals of the fall

September 15, 2018

Since it’s September, we once again have the announcement of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes and the winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Follow the links to enjoy.