I love the internet. We have the knowledge of the world at our finger tips. Ans, of course there is no end to opinions that you can find on the internet. It even allows people like me to express my opinions. I particularly like my fellow bloggers and those who comment on blogs. I have learned so much from them. Bloggers like me owe a debt of gratitude to a handful of bloggers who do the heavy lifting. They are the ones who have read the great philosophers or of the great economist or have become experts on pertinent history or weigh through the reports that come out of the many think tanks or government bureaus and write about those subjects in a way that help the rest of understand how those works affect the world we live in. One such blogger is The Classic Liberal (the CL). The Classic Liberal is one a half-dozen or so go-to sites when I am looking for interesting material to write about.
In the CL’s recent post, The Good Life with Alina Vacariu, he reports on the recent thinking of Robert Skidelsky and his son Edward. I had never heard of these gentlemen; but the CL fills us in:
Robert Skidelsky is best known for his three-volume biography of Lord Keynes, and his son Edward is a philosopher who has written an excellent book on Ernst Cassirer. How Much Is Enough?contains valuable discussions of happiness research in economics and … but unfortunately the book is a disappointment. It rehashes stale complaints against the free market, and its policy proposals have sinister implications.
The Skidelsky’s are true believers in the Nanny State. They are among the liberal elite that produce the Kool-Aid that the sheeple drink. They don’t have a very high opinion of people in general. They believe that our government must act as parents to get us to do what is right and, in their opinion, what is moral. In their latest book, they are concerned that Americans consume too much; that Americans confuse money and the accumulation of things with happiness. Since things have nothing to do with happiness and the constant buying of things is a waste, the government must be a good parent and change that behavior so that the truly poor people of the world can use that misspent wealth to improve their standard of living. I am going to share some of the quotes from their book that the CL used in his article. You really need to go over to his place when you have finished here and get his take. Besides, it is a Rule 5 post and the young lady is pleasing to the eye.
Our commitment to personality and respect rules out coercion. Rather we aim to bias social arrangements in favor of the good life — to make it easier for people to organize their own exits from the rat race, for instance by discovering for themselves ways of life in which money-making is not central. No political system can avoid bias, however much it proclaims its neutrality.… If we are to be paternalists, let us be honest rather than backdoor paternalists. (p. 217)
in the name of consumer protection. A lot of consumption is wasteful in the sense people buy products about whose qualities they are ignorant or misinformed: the products do not work or do not do the work they were bought for.… It would be better to try to prevent this kind of waste by requiring all advertisements to carry prominent health warnings, as is now mandatory for cigarettes.… One tax reform would cut at the root of the advertising culture: disallowing firms to write off advertising as a business expense.… Such a tax would damage the financing of commercial television.… Internet advertising could be taxed in the same way. The policies suggested above … are paternalist, but non-coercive. They are designed to edge societies towards the good life, not force it down their throats. (pp. 210–11)
the main incentive to be “economically purposive for others after it had ceased to be reasonable for oneself” would be to help the very poor of the world climb to our already achieved level of sufficiency.… A voluntary sacrifice of one’s own comforts for the sake of helping the less fortunate is universally recognized as morally admirable. Even today more and more people find a natural outlet for their generous and (adventurous) instincts in voluntary service at home and abroad. (pp. 215–16, quoting Keynes).
the capitalist system in our part of the world is entering its degenerative phase. The chief sign of this is the dominance of finance, in love with itself but increasingly bereft of useful things to do. The Anglo-American version of individualistic capitalism is kept going largely for the benefit of a predatory plutocracy, whose members cream off the richest prizes while justifying their predation in the language of freedom and globalization. (p. 181)
Well, I think you get the gist what this batch of Kool-Aid is about. The Skidelsky’s belive that things don’t bring happiness, therefore, superior people like them should take away one’s freedom to decide for one’s self how to spend the fruits of their labor so that those less fortunate can spend the fruits of you labor to improve their standard of living. It is the same old redistribute the wealth meme. They somehow think their methods are less coercive than the Alinsky, Cloward-Piven, and Barack Obama methods. I don’t think so. Their arrogance is the same. They have convinced themselves that is morally superior to force those in developed countries to lower their standard of living so the people of Somalia can improve their standard of living To them wealth production is a zero sum game. If one group has more, it is some how impossible for other groups to catch up.
Kool-Aid brewers like the Skidelsky’s are every where.They are in the UN and in the governments of Europe and the US. The population of Kool-Aid drinkers is growing and if the trend continues they will become the majority. Some fear that they already are the majority. When they, by the force of their numbers, take permanent control of our government, we will all suffer for their misplaced moral superiority and they won’t like it any better than we will.
Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?
24 thoughts on “Too Much of a Good Thing is Never Enough. Or, Should there be a Limit?”
As with all these loons there is a kernel of truth in what he says. The problem is with his solution. Plus, to make a statement about someone “having or consuming too much” requires a definition. What is too much, or how much is enough, and who decides.
I think when as people moved away from the concept of God or a higher power and higher purpose, it left a vacuum, or, as I like to say, “A whole in their souls”, which had to be filled. Now people have moved from merely filling the hole, but also demanding that others fill it because they are entitled.
On the flip side you have Skidelsky saying that the state should force us to fill that hole.
As far as third world countries go, we’ve been dumping money into those bottomless pits for years and years, and they are still living in mud huts. Granted, their corrupt governments are siphoning off most of the aid. Wouldn’t it be better to cut them off since most of the populace doesn’t benefit? It might be a actually forcing change.
It is true that there is some truth in what the Skidelsky’s say. Things don’t make people happy. Hpwever, their solution of having government control people’s lives is not likely to make them happy either. “holes in their souls”. Nice, Adrienne. Sadly, many seem to have no souls at all.
I always find it amusing when people like these, who have a lot, blast capitalism and consumerism.
I assume that their books are given out for free?
“Hipocracy is thy name”
I have learned much from you..don’t cut yourself short. I just wish the msm would dig in as much as you and my fellow bloggers. The worldvwould be a much better place.
You are very kind, Bunker. Thank you.
1,000 thank yous for the very kind words … I must, however, note that the post you’re discussing here is a reprint of a review by David Gordon of the Mises Institute. Gordon, btw, has got to be one of the smartest people in the universe. Absorb everything you can by this man.
Scary stuff by the Skidelsky’s, huh? And like you said, these people (and their crazy ideas) dominate the global power circles. It’s the Ruling Classes throughout the globe who are the truly extreme wackos. Psychopath crazy.
David Gorfon? I will have to check him out. It is you CL who deserves my thanks for always adding to my education.
“If you are not a liberal when you are young,then you have no heart.
If you are not a conservative when you are old,then you have no brain.”
How much is enough is a great rhetorical question for liberals. Of course we hope that since they can’t answer it they will see the folly of their ways. However, liberalism is a moving target and experiences generational change. The Classic Liberal is a perfect example. So attacking a changing mindset with fixed logic doesn’t connect. Thus we have our drones of today.
It’s a well-known fact that many people who start out with liberal views naturally morph into more conservative views as they get older. This is due to life’s experiences proving how unsound their liberal views have been.
So how do you change a liberal mindset? You don’t, only time and their own life experiences can do it. It’s why you can’t debate a liberal. The key for all conservatives/libertarians is to attack it at its source. Family values and education. Promoting individualism over collectivism is the only way America, as it was founded, continues on.
Too many on the right believe the solution is the ballot box and simply electing strong conservative/libertarians. It’s a failed model.
BTW Jim, I think you’ll find that you are also considered a “heavy lifter” by your blogger friends. Promoting discussion and exchanging ideas is not at all easy.
The key for all conservatives/libertarians is to attack it at its source. Family values and education. Promoting individualism over collectivism is the only way America, as it was founded, continues on.”
Yes” I agree. We also, and this is equally difficult, we have to change the way government works. Stay tuned, ny friend, and thanks for the kind words.
You are right, Jim is one of the heavy lifters I read everyday.
For too many years, conservatives were asleep. Thirty years ago, the press referred to us as “The silent majority.” Indeed, we were silent; and while we slept, Marxists infiltrated our public schools and universities. They taught our children to keep their opinions to themselves, out of political correctness, you see. They taught our children that America was never exceptional. They told our kids that Americans were warmongers, imperialists, and that capitalism is sinful
So now we’re awake, and we find ourselves in a great ideological battled. We’re fighting this battle from behind. And the way I see it, there are only two views in America today: the traditional view of America, the view of our founding fathers, which is classical liberalism, and there is the Marxist view. It is a dangerous time in our history because there is no middle ground where conservatives and communists can meet and find room for compromises. It is a dangerous time because if one is principled, our inability to find common ground will ultimately lead us to conflict.
But as Americans, we must do what is necessary to preserve our founding principles. Even President Jefferson warned us, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” If we hold “these truths to be self evident,” then we must never compromise with the communists.
You make good points, my friend. We need to rebuilf our country grom the ground up. Our problem after being asleep so long, half of our fellow citizens are against us and many of our institutions are thuroughly corrupted. If Romney is elected, i think there is a long shot chance that his administration could put us on the right path. First he needs a bold plan to get the economy going and producing jobs. Once people feel good about the future and see that his administration is making good decisions, then they will be more willing to lisren to plans for making some structual changes; such as education, EPA, othr agencies, and to the way Congress works. I will be posting on that last point tomorrow.
It is very scary that people who think along these lines are actually in high places in the world. The global redistribution of wealth is the ultimate goal of the United Nations and we have a president who is of the same mindset. We know that Obama believes in redistribution on a domestic level, but he is also a globalist who sees America as a rich country and he wants to redistribute America’s wealth around the world in addition to spreading it around between Americans.
The new world order folks never rest, Steve. They always semm to have “sounds good” working for them.
“The policies suggested above … are paternalist, but non-coercive. ”
I don’t know what planet these guys are from, but they are about a brick shy of a load.To end an activity or to require an activity by a government is coercive almost by definition. Besides, just who do they think they are by deciding what will make me or anybody else happy? Nobody can say with any degree of knowledge even what happiness is, or what can bring a person to that much sought after state.
As I related to dentist’s assistant a few weeks ago, it is cornbread that makes me happy. At least, it was cornbread that day. Today, it was my trousers getting looser meaning that the diet is working.Tomorrow night, I expect to be happy palavering with a bunch of folks that use WordPress to build web sites. Happiness is a moving goalpost. You have to take it when and where you find it.
It would make me very happy to squelch those idiots like the Skidelskys.
“To end an activity or to require an activity by a government”.
I think that should read “For a government to require an activity or to end an activity…
“Happiness is a moving goalpost. You have to take it when and where you find it.”
That is as good an explanation as I’ve seen, Bob. But, the elitistliberals think they are smarter than the rest of us, so they have to tell us what to think and do. It is all for our own good, don’t you know?
What seems to make people like Skildelskys happy is telling everyone else how they should live. Talk, talk, talk all you want. Just don’t get upset when most don’t play along.The bottom line of all of our constitutional freedoms is this: The freedom to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit as long as it doesn’t infringe on another’s indiviual liberties. It’s pretty simple really.Too bad government and elitists can’t leave well enough alone.
Freedom is the greatest threat to those who lust for power.
They won’t be content to leave us alone, that’s what all those hollowpoints are about!
CL does a great job with his list of links as well as picking out the best of the bottom line political writing on the web.
Yes he dose. The CL Report is a great place to go for source material.
It didn’t take long for them to propose a tax did it, I must ask is there anything these statists don’t think can be fixed with a tax of some sort.
Nope. In their minds anythng can be fixed with other peoples money.