I Brag and Chant (and Complain a Bit) of Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan

Notes from the second night of the convention:

— What follows will be in more or less chronological order, except that I want to say upfront that Condi Rice gave one of the greatest political speeches in American history, and if you didn’t see it, you should scroll most of the way down this post and watch the video right now. (And no, that does not mean I agree with everything she said.)

— It took Cathy McMorris Rodgers less than 30 seconds to segue from “We will send every American to college” to “We will shrink the role of government”. This is the kind of thing that makes people hold Republicans in well-deserved contempt.

— Rand Paul lived up to my almost impossibly high expectations. He was superb:

— Rob Portman was good, on both substance and presentation. He did commit the sin of defending free trade as a boon to producers, as if consumers were nothing more than potted plants, but that’s only a sin of omission, and I don’t think it’s fair to expect too much depth in a ten minute convention speech. What he did say was spot on:

— There were far far too many musical interludes.

— Did I mention far too many musical interludes?

— Unlike Paul and Portman, Tim Pawlenty relies almost entirely on substance-free one-liners. He leaves me feeling dirty.

— Mike Huckabee, like Pawlenty, starts off largely substance-free and often negative, but pulls it off better because he’s more likable. Then he moves on to big themes, hits them well, and comes off lofty. He’s one of the best orators in American politics:

— I keep hearing, from speaker after speaker, that if you’ve been successful through study, hard work and risk-taking, then “you built it”, and therefore deserve your success. Okay. But it’s also true that if you’ve been successful through study, hard work and risk-taking, you probably had the good fortune of being born into a family that encouraged study, hard work and risk-taking. Not everyone has that good fortune, and it would be nice to hear that acknowledged.

— It would also be nice to hear the Republicans at least try to make the case that Republican policies would be good for those without such good fortune.

— Condi Rice was magnificent, and I wish I could think of a more powerful adjective:

— Wait a minute. Paul Ryan faults Obama for not making “job creation” his number one economic priority. In other words, Ryan thinks Obama was insufficiently focused on the short run? Here I’d thought that an unhealthy obsession with the short run was what got us into this whole fiscal mess in the first place. I’d also thought that a longer policy horizon was supposed to be the very essence of Ryanism.

— I happen to be reading Macaulay’s History of England, and I happen just this morning to have read the hilarious passage in which Macaulay surveys the long history of predictions that “if government debt ever exceeds $X, the nation will collapse”, followed, ten years later, when the debt exceeds $X, by a new prediction that “if the government debt ever exceeds $y, the nation will collapse”. Macaulay was writing in the 19th century, but if he were writing today, I’m sure a Paul Ryan quote would have found its way into that passage.

— “We will keep government spending at 20% of GDP or less” is a pretty big promise, and a pretty specific one. And a pretty good reason to vote for these guys if you believe it.

— Hrmm. Ryan says that Romney balanced the Mass. budget without raising taxes. I wonder if he heard the earlier speakers who were so keen to remind us that an individual health insurance mandate is a tax.

— It is damn troubling to hear Ryan criticize Obama for trimming funds from Medicare, as if trimming funds from Medicare were an unpardonable sin. If Republican rhetoric declares all entitlements untouchable, then there will be no room in American political discourse for genuine fiscal conservatism. If Romney/Ryan are elected, then any position to the right of Romney/Ryan will be considered beyond the pale. If Ryan can’t say flat-out that Medicare is too big, that’s a good reason to hope this ticket loses.

— Numerous additional quibbles (and more-than-quibbles) aside, Ryan gave a terrific speech, long on both specifics and vision, and with a stirring close. I’d feel a lot better about this ticket if he were at the top of it.

Share/Save

53 Responses to “I Brag and Chant (and Complain a Bit) of Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, Ryan”


  1. 1 1 Martin

    I did like Rand Paul’s speech, but when he tried to connect it to Mitt Romney it felt a little bit disingenuous.

    I guess part of that was also due to him praising immigrants; I can’t imagine people there wanting more immigrants in, yet Rand Paul praises their work ethic and holds them up as examples of real Americans. I would infer from that, that Republicans want more immigration, more hard working real Americans…

  2. 2 2 Ken B

    “Condi Rice was magnificent, and I wish I could think of a more powerful adjective”

    OK, you inveigled me into watching a political speech. She WAS great, hitting the sweet spot of why I favour Republicans these days: defense, free trade, sane immigration expansion, schools. I can only hope the gop actually comes remotely close to living up to that :(

    Anyway the adjective that springs to mind for me is Capraesque. Not that I suggest you adopt it!

  3. 3 3 Ken

    But it’s also true that if you’ve been successful through study, hard work and risk-taking, you probably had the good fortune of being born into a family that encouraged study, hard work and risk-taking.

    Are you sure? Bryan Caplan does a good job dismantling this idea.

    Not everyone has that good fortune, and it would be nice to hear that acknowledged.

    I don’t think that anyone would be unwilling to acknowledge a strong family support. What people find repellent is that people’s success depends specifically on government and just basic luck, therefore “you didn’t build that”.

  4. 4 4 Bearce

    Wait, you thought Rand Paul’s speech was superb? Really?

    Nearly all of his speech was completely disingenuous, starting with the oft repeated and clearly misinterpreted sound bite from Obama “…you didn’t build that.” The only thing, in terms of content, that was correct was his position on defense spending and welfare reform (I’m surprised he said ‘reform’ for welfare as opposed to ‘abolishment’.)

    And then there was the classic Reagan nut-hugging that defines Republicans.

  5. 5 5 Ken

    Bearce,

    starting with the oft repeated and clearly misinterpreted sound bite from Obama “…you didn’t build that.”

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    It wasn’t “clearly misinterpreted”. Obama clearly meant that people owe their success to other people and are unfairly rewarded over those other people. In other words, he clearly meant “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

    But here’s the inside skinny. Successful people pay far more in taxes than others. In other words, that “great teacher” and all those roads were paid for by successful people not others.

    Additionally, he says “this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive”. This is galling beyond belief. He “allows” people to succeed. If you put in place obstacles for people to succeed, then remove those obstacles, you aren’t “allowing” anything. You merely stopped being a dick and stopped preventing people from living their own lives.

    We live in a free society. This means the government doesn’t “allow” its citizens to do anything. It means that citizens allow the government to do certain things.

  6. 6 6 Doctor Memory

    Condi Rice, brilliant?

    The only proper public display from any member of the GWB foreign policy team is humbled contrition and pleas for forgiveness. For her of all people to lecture us on regaining the trust of our allies is rich beyond words.

  7. 7 7 Ted Levy

    Ken, Bearce is merely being trollish, making false statements that cannot be defended.

    Speaking of false and hard to defend statements, “We live in a free society.”…

  8. 8 8 Steve Landsburg

    Ted Levy:

    Bearce is merely being trollish, making false statements that cannot be defended.

    Why not give him a chance to defend them?

  9. 9 9 Ken B

    Re 7:
    I don’t think Ted is for denying Bearce anything. I think he detected a certain tsuris and agitato from Ken and is worried about his blood pressure. After all TBQ can ill afford to lose any of its Kens!

  10. 10 10 Matthew

    I disagree that it’s troubling that Ryan isn’t saying explicitly that Medicare is too big. Romney and Ryan are playing to win. Why anger a huge voting block (senior citizens) when there is little to be gained by doing so? The way they are playing this will allow them to start winding down Medicare for those under the age of 55 if elected. I think it’s a sound strategy.

  11. 11 11 John

    Matthew,
    From a short term strategic perspective, I agree, but it’s bad for the party and the country in the long run.

    There will always be some group of senior citizens that politicians trying to get elected will pander to. Those politicians (rationally) should always employ the strategy you mentioned. As a result, “winding down Medicare” will always be put off by those seeking office, out of the fear of losing power. Instead, Republicans need to be honest and intellectually consistent, come out and say that there need to be cuts to medicare, and explain why.

  12. 12 12 Ken B

    “Instead, Republicans need to be honest and intellectually consistent, come out and say that there need to be cuts to medicare, and explain why.”

    That’s what they invented the Wednesday after the first Monday in November for :)

  13. 13 13 Bearce

    No, Ted, I wasn’t trolling. You don’t know me, I find it rather annoying that you arrogantly presume yourself an authority to speak on my behalf.

    As for Ken…

    I find it baffling that you were able to post the whole quote and still fail at grasping the context of it. It has been pointed out, numerous times, that Obama’s quote was reflecting the idea that the creation of an individual’s business and/or success has largely to do with the institutions and social structures of society. This is not a controversial message, it’s fact. Economists and sociologists call it ‘social capital’. Warren Buffet himself has acknowledged that the success due to his business skills would be undermind if he was born somewhere else. In political economy as well, there are research papers that demonstrate an economy’s ability to prosper and attractive foreign investment depends largely on the stability of political institutions and the rule of law brought about by…*shock*…government.

    Additionally, he says “this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive”. This is galling beyond belief. He “allows” people to succeed. If you put in place obstacles for people to succeed, then remove those obstacles, you aren’t “allowing” anything. You merely stopped being a dick and stopped preventing people from living their own lives.

    *facepalm x5*

    I’ll address this later…busy at the moment.

  14. 14 14 Ken B

    @Bearce: At the risk of speaking on Ted’s behalf, he wasn’t claiming to speak on your behalf. He wasn’t presenting anything from your point of view, or in your voice, or in lieu of you; quite the opposite. He was characterizing your post dismissively. Slam away, but slam him for the right thing.

  15. 15 15 Ken

    Bearce,

    Obama’s quote was reflecting the idea that the creation of an individual’s business and/or success has largely to do with the institutions and social structures of society.

    I didn’t fail to notice this. This idea is just as wrong as the primary message (“you didn’t build that”). The problem with this sentiment is that those institutions and social structures exist for everyone, not just successful people. If those institutions and social structures, which are largely built by successful people btw, are the only things needed, then all of us would be even more wildly successful and equally successful. That Obama ignores the fact that successful people took a risk, innovated something, and worked their ass off much harder than nearly everyone else is insulting in the extreme.

    depends largely on the stability of political institutions and the rule of law brought about by…*shock*…government.

    This is incredibly false. That stability of political institutions are needed is right, but they are not brought about by government. Stable political institutions are brought to you by the private sector. They are instituted and built based on the wider private culture. Our, mostly, stable government in the US is brought to us due to the constraints imposed on government by the private sector. We are a nation of people who have a government, not the other way around.

    Additionally, stable political institutions are only necessary, not sufficient. Most governments that existed for more than a decade were stable, yet most people in most countries did not succeed.

    Lastly, as an example that government is not the root of prosperity or even rights, consider property rights. Poperty rights do not exist because the government says so. To understand this, all you have to do is ask yourself “Is the only reason I don’t break into my neighbors house and steal the things he has that I want because it’s agains the law?” Of course the answer is no. You don’t steal things because you recognize that his stuff is his and has a right to the security of that stuff. This is only natural because you want to be secure in ownership of your stuff. Reciprocity and cooperation are the hallmarks of private interactions. Only centuries after this cultural, private institution’s existance did it come into law. Government is a product of culture, not vice versa.

    Government is brought to you by … shock… the private sector. Every single resource that the government has is provided by the private sector.

    *facepalm x5*

    I’ll address this later…busy at the moment.

    Translation: “I’ve failed completely to rebut this, but I’m going to act as if I had, then dismiss the argument and act as if I’d won”

  16. 16 16 Ken B

    I’ll address this later…busy at the moment.

    Translation: “I’ve failed completely to rebut this, but I’m going to act as if I had, then dismiss the argument and act as if I’d won”

    I think that’s unfair Ken. People comment when they have time to visit the page. That avries a lot. It’s slow for me at work this week so I’m here a lot, and driving poor Murphy to drink, but sometimes I won’t be, and would object if someone made inferences from my longer silences. Same goes for Bearce.

  17. 17 17 Martin

    You’re right that there is a tendency in human beings towards cooperation, reciprocity and the creation of property rights; there is however also a tendency towards rape, murder, and theft. That is why so very often those had to be outlawed by a government.

    In short one might say that there is a tendency to property rights, but that historically it took government to define and enforce those property rights. So whilst government is not the root of our property rights, it is an important reason for why we have property rights.

    So whilst without the private sector there would not be much of a government, without government there would not be much of a private sector.

  18. 18 18 Steve Landsburg

    Bearce:

    No, Ted, I wasn’t trolling. You don’t know me, I find it rather annoying that you arrogantly presume yourself an authority to speak on my behalf.

    I’m entirely on your side on this one.

  19. 19 19 Andrew

    For the last time (ok not really the last time as the concept is too confusing for a populace educated in government schools)

    Government is an institution.

    Institutions are tools of a society.

    Giving government credit for building a road is just as ignorant as giving credit to a shovel for digging a hole.

  20. 20 20 Ken B

    Andrew,
    Then in your terms, the argument being advanced is that government is the only good tool for the job. I don’t buy that argument in most contexts, but I buy your snide dismissal of it even less.

    [disclaimer. Educated in Ontario government schools. Caveat emptor.]

  21. 21 21 Andrew

    @Steve

    “I keep hearing, from speaker after speaker, that if you’ve been successful through study, hard work and risk-taking, then “you built it”, and therefore deserve your success. Okay. But it’s also true that if you’ve been successful through study, hard work and risk-taking, you probably had the good fortune of being born into a family that encouraged study, hard work and risk-taking. Not everyone has that good fortune, and it would be nice to hear that acknowledged.”

    As Thomas Sowell would say… ‘and then what?’

    Work hard, study, save, invest and don’t be afraid to take chances. For those of you who didn’t grow up in houses where these things were encouraged, don’t worry, we will take from those who did sacrifice so you won’t have too. How do you tell the guy that shows up to work on time everyday that it doesn’t matter because the guy who is always late grew up in a house that didn’t have clocks?

    *By no means should this be taken as an attack. There are enough people in this world that truly need help that we don’t need to create additional categories to increase the ranks.

  22. 22 22 Andrew

    @Ken B

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html

    You will notice, that while this is written in the voice of a pencil, it was indeed, NOT, written by a pencil.

  23. 23 23 Bearce

    I didn’t fail to notice this.

    Ken: Obama clearly meant that people owe their success to other people and are unfairly rewarded over those other people. In other words, he clearly meant “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”

    This idea is just as wrong as the primary message (“you didn’t build that”).

    In other words, you chose to believe what you wanted to hear. Whether or not you believe in the truth value of his implied message is one thing, twisiting it into another context to fit your biases is another.

    Either way, the rest of what we’re going to argue is off the subject, but I’ll bite.

    This idea is just as wrong as the primary message (“you didn’t build that”). The problem with this sentiment is that those institutions and social structures exist for everyone, not just successful people. If those institutions and social structures, which are largely built by successful people btw, are the only things needed, then all of us would be even more wildly successful and equally successful. That Obama ignores the fact that successful people took a risk, innovated something, and worked their ass off much harder than nearly everyone else is insulting in the extreme.

    No one is denying, nor was Obama, that hard-work and ingenuity are important determinants for success. They are necessary, but not sufficient. In order for the toils of an individual’s labor to come to fruition requires a steady source of social capital.

    This is incredibly false.

    Well thank-goodness we have Ken the blog poster to outright contradict the works of Herbert Simon and Staats and Biglaiser on this issue. (There are other easily accessible research papers via google on this subject, but posting them all would be redundant. The one I gave has to do with US firms.)

    That stability of political institutions are needed is right, but they are not brought about by government. Stable political institutions are brought to you by the private sector.
    They are instituted and built based on the wider private culture. Our, mostly, stable government in the US is brought to us due to the constraints imposed on government by the private sector. We are a nation of people who have a government, not the other way around.
    .

    This is wrong, from both an empirical and theoretical point of view. Empirical because the data has contradicted it many times. Theoretical because you’re mixing up your ‘chickens and eggs.’ Private sector does not thrive and then bring about government, it cannot. If you believe otherwise, go start a business in Somalia. Instead, it’s stable government and clear property rights laws and contracts that attract investment and investors because they know that their assests are safe and can be utilized to their full potential. If they think otherwise, they’ll go elsewhere.

    Additionally, stable political institutions are only necessary, not sufficient. Most governments that existed for more than a decade were stable, yet most people in most countries did not succeed.

    Bold assertion with no evidence or references.

    Lastly, as an example that government is not the root of prosperity or even rights, consider property rights. Poperty rights do not exist because the government says so. To understand this, all you have to do is ask yourself “Is the only reason I don’t break into my neighbors house and steal the things he has that I want because it’s agains the law?”Of course the answer is no. You don’t steal things because you recognize that his stuff is his and has a right to the security of that stuff. This is only natural because you want to be secure in ownership of your stuff. Reciprocity and cooperation are the hallmarks of private interactions.

    And then how do you explain pirates, vikings, muggers, or other various sorts of criminals that have existed? Why is it during failed states, such as Somalia, people revert to force to acquire resources they desire.

    Funny, Ken, because according to you organized crime cannot exist. Ever heard of the drug trade? Over here in Los Angeles, various race gangs perform ‘shakedowns’ on other rival gangs on their own turf in order to steal merchandise. Retaliation is usually resorted through killing one of the opposing gang’s members, who may have had no stake in the shakedown. Explain then, Ken, how is it these people missed the message of…‘You don’t steal things because you recognize that his stuff is his and has a right to the security of that stuff. This is only natural because you want to be secure in ownership of your stuff. Reciprocity and cooperation are the hallmarks of private interactions

    Translation: “I’ve failed completely to rebut this, but I’m going to act as if I had, then dismiss the argument and act as if I’d won”

    I have a life outside correcting your mistakes. They don’t pay me enough for that.

    Anyway…

    Additionally, he says “this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive”. This is galling beyond belief. He “allows” people to succeed. If you put in place obstacles for people to succeed, then remove those obstacles, you aren’t “allowing” anything. You merely stopped being a dick and stopped preventing people from living their own lives.

    The statement made in no way implies that Obama, due to whim, ‘allowed people to succeed’ as you claim. The American system and its foundations, such as public schooling, libraries, police, fire departments, lawyers, court system, military, healthcare, unemployment insurance, etc. is what allowed for individuals to succeed. Again, it’s implication that our American system is a significant part in contributing to success.

  24. 24 24 Bearce

    I think that’s unfair Ken. People comment when they have time to visit the page. That avries a lot. It’s slow for me at work this week so I’m here a lot, and driving poor Murphy to drink, but sometimes I won’t be, and would object if someone made inferences from my longer silences. Same goes for Bearce.

    Yes, similar to why Steve misses weeks of blogging as opposed to posting one entry every day. There are outside obligations.

  25. 25 25 SL

    A balanced and fair analysis from FoxNews:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/#ixzz2545Nwuxm

    “To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

  26. 26 26 Al V.

    Regarding Obama’s ineptly stated “you didn’t build this” remark, obviously people who build a successful business deserve credit for building that business. However, they did benefit from building a business in the U.S. Let’s say I build a business in Chicago that makes a gross $2M per year, and I am able to take a 20% profit. Thus, I’m making a gross income of $400K per year, which puts me in the bottom of the 1%. My business is providing 0.0015% of the GDP of Chicago.

    Now, transport my business to Mogadishu, a city of approximately the same size as Chicago. If I make a gross 0.0015% of Mogadishu’s GDP, my business is making $25,200. per year. And my 20% profit is $5,020 in income. A nice income for Mogadishu, but no $400,000. Is the Somali business owner less smart or less capable than the Chicago one? I doubt it, but in Chicago I benefit from an educational system, tax system, justice system, and infrastructure that are not present in Mogadishu.

  27. 27 27 Ken B

    I can already tell I am going to disagree with Bearce on alot, but I think ‘That’ refers to the incredible American system, and have argued that over at econlog. Obama’S remark did slight effort etc but not nearly as much asis portrayed here.

  28. 28 28 Ken

    Bearce,

    In other words, you chose to believe what you wanted to hear.

    He clearly said “you didn’t build that”. Are you really saying he didn’t? Or that he meant something else? Is Obama really so clumsy with a simple statement that you feel the need to say that “you didn’t mean that” means something else? And that when I say I take him at his word, that I am only hearing “what I want to hear”?

    No one is denying, nor was Obama, that hard-work and ingenuity are important determinants for success.

    Except Obama. He said “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” Here is clearly saying that hard work and ingenuity (smarts) were not the cause of success.

    Private sector does not thrive and then bring about government, it cannot.

    Except that that is how most of America was built. No government existed here when settlers came. The brought themselves and cooperated the best they knew how in order to survive. The expansion westward was pretty much the same.

    Bold assertion with no evidence or references.

    HOw about the fact that for 10,000 years humans have seen hundreds if not thousands of stable governments come and go, but nearly 100% of all humans remained at subsistence levels ($3/day in today’s dollars) for 9,800 of those 10,000 years. I didn’t present evidence of references because this is such a glaringly obvious notion, that stable governments are necessary, but not sufficient, that it didn’t need links. This is common knowledge.

    Funny, Ken, because according to you organized crime cannot exist. Ever heard of the drug trade?

    Where did I eve claim organized crime cannot exist. And I think it’s hilarious that you bring up the drug war. The drug war was designed specifically to prevent peaceful adults to trade peacefully for goods they want. Instead, the government has decided that this trade must be done in back alleys and as far away from decent society as possible, under threat of being thrown in a cage. The drug trade is the horror that it is because of the government.

  29. 29 29 Ken

    Ken B,

    I think that’s unfair Ken. People comment when they have time to visit the page.

    I accept that many people don’t have a lot of time when they visit this site. I imagine that most readers of the blog have full time jobs and others have a full time job and two part time jobs, as I do. If you don’t have time that’s fine. But to say someone is wrong, then say you don’t have time to refute it smacks of desperation. Saying someone is wrong and walking away really does translate into: I can’t refute what you’ve said, so I’m walking away. Most of the time it’s because people who do that, like Bearce, have no effective refutation, so need to find someone else’s argument to refute what’s been said. It takes about five minutes for me to post a comment. Really who can’t spare five minutes to post a comment, but has time to read a blog and other’s comments.

  30. 30 30 Floccina

    I think that what Obama was trying to say, was that because without others’ efforts through government you would not be as wealthy as you are therefore Government has a claim on more of your earnings. So how much of the winnings of a lottery winner does Obama think he has a claim to? All of it? If not what the point of what he said? As far as I am concerned if the lottery winner did not cheat, and even though he was stupid to buy the ticket, he ownes the winnings.

  31. 31 31 Bearce

    And that when I say I take him at his word, that I am only hearing “what I want to hear”?

    Either that or it’s difficult for you to comprehend. Yes, he did say ‘you didn’t build that’, and if you read the whole portion of his speech, which you have posted, you can tell the context of the statement clearly claims that he meant an individual’s success isn’t attributed to his/her intelligence or hard-work alone.

    If you need another example, take Atkin’s ‘legitimate rape’ controversy. Atkin doesn’t mean there is rape that’s legitimate (it by definition cannot happen) but instead means (or should have used) ‘forcible’. Poor choice of wording, but true nature of the message should be clear despite the media frenzy.

    Except Obama. He said “I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” Here is clearly saying that hard work and ingenuity (smarts) were not the cause of success.

    Not the sole causes of success.

    Except that that is how most of America was built. No government existed here when settlers came. The brought themselves and cooperated the best they knew how in order to survive. The expansion westward was pretty much the same.

    Yes, because there was no such thing as the ‘council of seven’ or president from that same council in America’s first established colony of Jamestown. Nor was there a charter from King James of England who provided new settlers with supplies and a governor along with a group of advisors. Nope, none of that.

    And Ken, don’t you even THINK about that Mayflower Compact that combined British common law and religious law.

    I see we have forgotten our history here.

    HOw about the fact that for 10,000 years humans have seen hundreds if not thousands of stable governments come and go,but nearly 100% of all humans remained at subsistence levels ($3/day in today’s dollars) for 9,800 of those 10,000 years. I didn’t present evidence of references because this is such a glaringly obvious notion, that stable governments are necessary, but not sufficient, that it didn’t need links. This is common knowledge.

    Stable governments don’t just vanish (unless conquered by a stronger foreign power), unstable governments do. I can’t think of a single case. If this is such common knowledge then it will be easy for you to demonstrate. So why don’t you?

    Funny, Ken, because according to you organized crime cannot exist. Ever heard of the drug trade?

    Where did I eve claim organized crime cannot exist.

    Ken: Poperty rights do not exist because the government says so. To understand this, all you have to do is ask yourself “Is the only reason I don’t break into my neighbors house and steal the things he has that I want because it’s agains the law?”Of course the answer is no. You don’t steal things because you recognize that his stuff is his and has a right to the security of that stuff. This is only natural because you want to be secure in ownership of your stuff. Reciprocity and cooperation are the hallmarks of private interactions.

    Then I asked you, my intent being ironic, to explain to me how do you account for organized crime if property rights exist outside government decree. Your justification for this is some ludicrous and flaccid psycho-philosophical babble.

    And I think it’s hilarious that you bring up the drug war.

    I brought up the drug trade, not the drug war (if by drug war your talking about America’s ‘War on Drugs.’)

    The drug war was designed specifically to prevent peaceful adults to trade peacefully for goods they want. Instead, the government has decided that this trade must be done in back alleys and as far away from decent society as possible, under threat of being thrown in a cage. The drug trade is the horror that it is because of the government.

    That’s besides the point Ken, you’re going off on a red-herring. The point is, since the drug trade in the US isn’t protected by government law, why is it these organized gangs don’t recognize property rights and engage in mutual transactions between one another and insist on killing off their competitors?

    Nor did you answer my counterpoint about Vikings, pirates, and Somalia.

  32. 32 32 Bearce

    Saying someone is wrong and walking away really does translate into: I can’t refute what you’ve said, so I’m walking away. Most of the time it’s because people who do that, like Bearce, have no effective refutation, so need to find someone else’s argument to refute what’s been said. It takes about five minutes for me to post a comment. Really who can’t spare five minutes to post a comment, but has time to read a blog and other’s comments.

    The difference being that I actually take the time to reference my points and double-check my assertions. You, on the other hand, make it rather clear that your comments were thought out and posted within five minutes.

  33. 33 33 Mike H

    “Reciprocity and cooperation are the hallmarks of private interactions.”

    What I just don’t get is
    (a) how anyone can believe this, who has observed a decent sample of human behaviour, and
    (b) how anyone who believes this can simultaneously believe that people become all villainous and evil once they enter that private interaction we call “government”

  34. 34 34 Ken

    Bearce,

    you can tell the context of the statement clearly claims that he meant an individual’s success isn’t attributed to his/her intelligence or hard-work alone.

    This is clearly false as he clearly stated that success wasn’t due to intelligence, there are a lot of intelligent people out there who aren’t successful. He clearly stated that success wasn’t due to hard work, there are a lot of hard workers out there who aren’t successful. He was clearly stating that, in fact, anyone’s success was due not you their individual intelligence or hard work, but to other people’s, specifically the governments.

    The reality is that without Steve Jobs is responsible for his success and he carried many people upwards to share in that success. Steve Wosniak would have just been another very competent programmer at HP. Instead, through the intelligence and hard work of Steve Jobs, Wos’s life was transformed, as well as literally billions of other people’s lives. Those lives were made better by the hard work and intelligence of Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs alone.

  35. 35 35 Ken

    Bearce,

    Yes, because there was no such thing as the ‘council of seven’ or president from that same council in America’s first established colony of Jamestown.

    So your claim is that the council of seven came into being, then created the private sector? Is that how you think things went down?

    Nor was there a charter from King James of England who provided new settlers with supplies and a governor along with a group of advisors.

    And now you think a king three months travel from the colonies had a hand in building the private sector?

    Or do you think a collection of people cooperated spontaneously reacting to new environments and challenges in the New World. Then over a period of time, used private resources for public good, which ultimately became a government?

    I see we have forgotten our history here.

    Indeed you have, if you ever knew it to begin with.

    Stable governments don’t just vanish

    Of course they do. Unless you believe the stable governments of the ancient Sumerians, the ancient Egyptions, and the Holy Roman Empires, both east and west (the east lasting a full 1000 years longer than the west) still exist.

    Then I asked you, my intent being ironic, to explain to me how do you account for organized crime if property rights exist outside government decree.

    Simple. Again, ask yourself if the reason you don’t steal is simply because the government says you shouldn’t or if you don’t because you know it’s wrong whether or not the government says so. Ask youself if the reason you think you own the clothes you are wearing are because the government says you do.

    Just because something is written down on some official document doesn’t make it a law. Legislation and law are two different things, for anyone who has taken a moment to think about these issues as Hayek has and explained.

  36. 36 36 Ken

    Bearce,

    Nor did you answer my counterpoint about Vikings, pirates, and Somalia.

    Vikings, pirates, and Somalians all recognize property rights and choose to violate them. If you think that you will benefit, as many people do, people choose to violate property rights. But all recognize, even Vikings, pirates, and Somalians that the clothes you have, the house you own, the car you drive, are yours. They see those things as your and want them for their own.

    But as you pointed out, it is easy to see that these thefts, as Vikings, pirates, and Somalians surely know they are committing, on a wide scale leads to instability, which as we’ve discussed, does not lead to prosperity. And you’ll note that Vikings and Somalians were not and are not by and large the stealing kind. That there is a widely recognized, small sub-population that does do these things, does not change the fact that Vikings and Somalians by and large not only recognize property rights, but respect them as well.

    You, on the other hand, make it rather clear that your comments were thought out and posted within five minutes.

    Because I’ve heard your arguments a thousand times from a thousand different people. What you are pandering is misunderstanding that is as old as humanity. After the thousandth time, I know the routine cold because I’ve looked up the numbers and the history a thousand times before.

  37. 37 37 Vald

    @Ken
    I’ve found your debate with Bearce very interesting, but just a few historical points for you:

    First off, you might want to think about your phrasing. There were no governments in North America before the arrival of European settlers? Are you trying to claim that American Indians had no government? Or is it just that you, like most, are trained not to think about Native governments in the Americas?

    Second, in comment 35, I believe you are referencing the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, not the Holy Roman Empire. I do not claim to be terribly knowledgeable about the ancient Sumerians or Egyptians, but with regards to the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, neither was very stable at all by the time they fell. Sure, they were all stable at one point, but they both vanished after they became unstable.

    If you did mean to reference the Holy Roman Empire, then I have no idea what east and west you are talking about, but I can say that the government of the Holy Roman Empire did not vanish while it was a stable government. By the time Napoleon eliminated the Holy Roman Empire, it was a shell of its former existence, with little real power outside of the emperor’s own territories of Austria, Hungary, etc.

  38. 38 38 Henri Hein

    @Mike H:
    (a) My perspective is diametrically opposite from yours. All I have to do is go into my local coffee shop. People are sitting around talking amiably, some are strangers and some are friends. Customers of all kinds come in to buy their coffee and do so peacably. I don’t even see anyone haggling about the price. If you want to put money in the tip jar, as I do, you have to stuff it down first, because it is bursting with all the contributions from previous customers. (To the cynical: no, they don’t preload the jar.)
    (b) Students of public choice will tell you that they do not become evil and villainous. On the contrary, they react to incentives just like they do in the private sector. It is just that incentives in the public sector are poorly aligned, unlike the private sector. It is actually the public interest view that must disregard human nature.

  39. 39 39 Bearce

    This is clearly false as he clearly stated that success wasn’t due to intelligence, there are a lot of intelligent people out there who aren’t successful. He clearly stated that success wasn’t due to hard work, there are a lot of hard workers out there who aren’t successful. He was clearly stating that, in fact, anyone’s success was due not you their individual intelligence or hard work, but to other people’s, specifically the governments.

    Ken, I don’t know how to explain this to you further. It seems to me either you realize you are losing this argument and don’t want to admit it, or you’re simply being a stubborn ass for the sake of it.

    For anyone reading who still thinks Ken has a point then watch the full video, particularly from 2 minutes on. Ken’s (unfounded) gripe is from the 1 minute to 2 minute range. Then, Obama goes on to say…

    “The point is when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative but also because we do things togethter…”

    The reality is that without Steve Jobs is responsible for his success and he carried many people upwards to share in that success. Steve Wosniak would have just been another very competent programmer at HP. Instead, through the intelligence and hard work of Steve Jobs, Wos’s life was transformed, as well as literally billions of other people’s lives. Those lives were made better by the hard work and intelligence of Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs alone.

    Sure, many were transformed and ended up having much more fulfilling lives because of Job’s leadership under Apple. Job’s also had the priviledge of being educated in the US, lived in a country with good economic foundations, as well as having the good fortune to have his products and ideas be secured under intellectual property right laws.

    If we’re referencing billionaire’s success stories, then I’m going to again mention Warren Buffet, who claimed “If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru, you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil.”

    So your claim is that the council of seven came into being, then created the private sector? Is that how you think things went down?

    No, I’m debunking your rather asinine claim that…

    No government existed here when settlers came. The brought themselves and cooperated the best they knew how in order to survive. The expansion westward was pretty much the same.

    Fact was they had a form of government. It was one of the first things the early colonies decided on when they arrived and many of their customs were based on their knowledge of common law and religious faith. Social cohesion was strongly encouraged because of the early Puritanical and Quaker faith of the settlers.

    And now you think a king three months travel from the colonies had a hand in building the private sector?

    You mean when the settlers were nearly dead from starvation and disease brought about by taking refuge in America during the winter? Yes, in fact, he did. The settlers were going to leave until vital supplies and extra men were provided to carry out the expansion of the colonies.

    Or do you think a collection of people cooperated spontaneously reacting to new environments and challenges in the New World. Then over a period of time, used private resources for public good, which ultimately became a government?

    Again, a form of government was one of the first things decided when the colonists touched down.

    Indeed you have, if you ever knew it to begin with.

    I wouldn’t be so snark considering you’ve yet to show any marginal understanding of history, or reality for the matter.

    Of course they do. Unless you believe the stable governments of the ancient Sumerians, the ancient Egyptions, and the Holy Roman Empires, both east and west (the east lasting a full 1000 years longer than the west) still exist.

    Oh god, this is so wrong it made me gag. It’s not even funny, just plain ignorant. I’ll address it tomorrow in full detail, this is actually going to take some work (ditto for the rest of your post). I can tell you right off the bat though that ancient Sumerians suffered from soil erosion and agricultural problems, along with being conquered by the Amorites.

    And Rome? Are you kidding? Aside from having an empire too big to control, citizenship declined in value, plagues permeated the city, barbaric invasions were frequent and along with civil wars, etc.

  40. 40 40 Ted Levy

    Well, first I’d like to thank Ken B (the greatest of all Kens) for his kind defense (twice! at 9 and 14) of my comment 7 above, expressing my responses better than I could do myself.

    But let me respond a little…I think words matter. I think it rather obvious, pace Bearce, that Obama was not taken out of context. His was a common meme of communitarianism, similar to that expressed last year by Elizabeth Warren (which I critiqued here http://tedlevy56.blogspot.com/2011/12/elizabeth-warren-clinging-to-guns-and.html and here http://tedlevy56.blogspot.com/2011/12/elizabeth-warren-and-infinitude-of.html ) and earlier by Berekely linguist and DNC consultant George Lakoff, and even earlier by communitarian philosophers like Amitai Etzioni and John Rawls (Ironically, when it comes to novel memes, Obama did NOT build this one).

    I think had his comments not led to an onslaught of opposition, DNC hacks would not be going out of their way to say Obama’s been misquoted, but because of such strong antagonism to his original message, they must now fall back on the theme that Barack Obama, renowned for his soaring rhetoric, simply doesn’t express himself well when giving speeches to fellow Democrats. So be it.

    I think, for those following this argument as it has developed over the last few months, it’s a tad stale, leading to my initial “troll” comment. Obviously, contra Steven at 8, I said nothing to prevent Bearce–not could I–from making and defending his argument. He has now made it, and I’ve (as I expected) seen nothing new.

    “Obama was taken out of context” has become a Rorschach test for true believers. Ask yourself: if polls showed 70% of Americans approved of Obama’s statement, would we be hearing he’d been taken out of context? If most Americans were found to believe Steve Jobs couldn’t have built Apple but for government assistance, would Obama be saying, “No. I was just talking about the importance of government roads and bridges…”?

    But this all takes us far afield of the basic thrust of Steve’s post, which assessed various Republican speakers. I apologize if my very brief comment inadvertently contributed to hijacking the thread.

  41. 41 41 Bearce

    Of course they do. Unless you believe the stable governments of the ancient Sumerians, the ancient Egyptions, and the Holy Roman Empires, both east and west (the east lasting a full 1000 years longer than the west) still exist.

    As I stated earlier, it’s well documented that Sumer experienced soil erosion and weather irregularities that destroyed their agriculture. Barbaric invasions were also frequent. One thing I didn’t realize, however, was that it seems also to be the case that Mesopotamian states were never completely unified but tried to maintain their own local sense of autonomy.

    Google William R. Thompson “Complexity, Diminishing Marginal Returns, and Serial Mesopotamian Fragmentation.”

    Here are various theories of the fall of Rome. It was not at all stable by the time of its downfall, as Vald already pointed out.

    Egypt was also subjugated to wars and various invasions by foreign powers.

    Then I asked you, my intent being ironic, to explain to me how do you account for organized crime if property rights exist outside government decree.

    Simple. Again, ask yourself if the reason you don’t steal is simply because the government says you shouldn’t or if you don’t because you know it’s wrong whether or not the government says so. Ask youself if the reason you think you own the clothes you are wearing are because the government says you do.

    Again, then why is it organized criminals, sociopaths, psychopaths, or other types of muggers violate this rule, notably in the absence of failed states? Because there is no government law to declare the illegality of their acts and have a legitimized police force to prevent, deter, or stop their crimes.

    My personal moral compass isn’t any objective decree of how things ought to be, merely that I prefer them to be so. I don’t steal because I don’t want any one else to do it to me, however I realize that without some centralized force that I can rely on to protect my property my notion of ‘live and let live’ is flaccid at best in the state of nature.

    Vikings, pirates, and Somalians all recognize property rights and choose to violate them. If you think that you will benefit, as many people do, people choose to violate property rights. But all recognize, even Vikings, pirates, and Somalians that the clothes you have, the house you own, the car you drive, are yours. They see those things as your and want them for their own.

    Again, speculation without evidence to give it substance. What’s to say then that my theory that these groups of looters recognize property rights in the sense that if you weren’t strong enough to defend them, they weren’t really yours, is any more valid than your p.o.v?

    And you’ll note that Vikings and Somalians were not and are not by and large the stealing kind. That there is a widely recognized, small sub-population that does do these things, does not change the fact that Vikings and Somalians by and large not only recognize property rights, but respect them as well.

    Lol XD

    Because I’ve heard your arguments a thousand times from a thousand different people.

    Translation: I really DON’T have any substance to back up my claims.

  42. 42 42 Harold

    Ken: “Steve Wosniak would have just been another very competent programmer at HP. Instead, through the intelligence and hard work of Steve Jobs, Wos’s life was transformed, as well as literally billions of other people’s lives. Those lives were made better by the hard work and intelligence of Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs alone.”

    You are saying that Wosniak (and teh other billions) had no part in his own success. He did not get where he is through his hard work, intelligence etc, but through Steve Jobs’. This sounds very much like the argument you are trying to refute – that we are not completely responsible for out own successes.

  43. 43 43 Frozen

    You are saying that Wosniak (and teh other billions) had no part in his own success. He did not get where he is through his hard work, intelligence etc, but through Steve Jobs’. This sounds very much like the argument you are trying to refute – that we are not completely responsible for out own successes.

    Hmm kinda does, so it’s a good thing it’s wrong. Without Woz Jobs would never have made Apple either (BTW, Woz was really more of a hardware guy than a programmer, but he did both on early Apple’s). He certainly didn’t have the technical skills to pull off the Apple I and II. But there’s a critical difference between the two Steve’s and what Obama is advocating. The two Steve’s helped each other in the private sector which is exactly Ken’s argument. Bearce and Obama would claim that their success is due to governmental forces. As Ted notes in 40 given the entire context of Obama’s speech and other speeches there’s really very little evidence to back up Bearce’s assertion that Obama truly believes the individual is responsible for their success. Given Obama’s background, his philosophy doesn’t really surprise me.

    On another note, Steve, do you truly believe this:

    If Ryan can’t say flat-out that Medicare is too big, that’s a good reason to hope this ticket loses.

    Isn’t that the definition of cutting your nose off to spite your face? Do you truly believe that Obama is any more likely to enact the entitlement reform that we desperately need?

  44. 44 44 Steve Landsburg

    Frozen:

    On another note, Steve, do you truly believe this:

    If Ryan can’t say flat-out that Medicare is too big, that’s a good reason to hope this ticket loses.

    Isn’t that the definition of cutting your nose off to spite your face? Do you truly believe that Obama is any more likely to enact the entitlement reform that we desperately need?

    I think you missed the point.

    If Obama is president, I think we can count on the Tea Party to make the case that Medicare is too big. If Romney/Ryan are elected, history suggests that the party will mostly rally ’round them, and therefore, if Romney/Ryan are unwilling to make that case, then nobody will. So the point isn’t that Obama will push entitelement reform if he wins; the point is that at least someone will push entitlement reform if Obama wins — whereas plausibly, noone will push it if Romney wins.

  45. 45 45 Ken B

    “someone will push entitlement reform if Obama wins — whereas plausibly, noone will push it if Romney wins.”

    Some of us have been ‘pushing’ it for several years now. See how well we’ve succeeded?

  46. 46 46 Frozen

    “whereas plausibly, noone will push it if Romney wins.”

    Wha? I fail to see how the logic follows. Someone will only push for reform if the party opposed to reform wins. So the Tea Party which you cite and which now has a proven history of bucking conventional Republican candidates will suddenly roll over for Romney? I’m guessing you’re basing this on the fact that fiscal conservatives seemed (and in reality probably did) give Bush II a pass on spending. But the Tea Party arose in the aftermath. I think it’s a bold assumption to think that they will revert to Bush era behavior over their more recent past.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t get that.

  47. 47 47 Bearce

    Bearce and Obama would claim that their success is due to governmental forces.

    I don’t think you actually read my comments.

    As Ted notes in 40 given the entire context of Obama’s speech and other speeches there’s really very little evidence to back up Bearce’s assertion that Obama truly believes the individual is responsible for their success.

    You obviously didn’t read, or understand, my comments nor analyze the context of Obama’s speech.

    Perhaps you didn’t watch the entire speech either? This is quite common for people making the claims you’re asserting, and is also a fallacy Ken committed. I posted a link, it would do you all some good to watch it.

  48. 48 48 iceman

    Al V #26 (if you’re still there) – “However, they did benefit from building a business in the U.S”

    True but not sure what the implication is supposed to be. The idea that people benefit from “our system” in a way that confers some additional (unspecified future) obligation on them seems circular to me, if what makes our system different is that we “allow” people more easily to exercise economic liberty in the first instance (e.g. because we believe this raises general living standards, and perhaps having some side constraints on collective action is morally right as well). So we get to extract concessions ex post *because* we didn’t interfere more ex ante? I can imagine there are ways to justify making a tax system more progressive, but not simply derived from an observation that some people have been “too successful” under the previous regime.

    I also suppose there is an important initial premise involved here — is not preventing people from exercising economic freedom a ‘gift’, or a natural state from which impositions should be justified?

  49. 49 49 Frozen

    Bearce and Obama would claim that their success is due to governmental forces.

    I don’t think you actually read my comments.

    No, I did. You obviously confused misunderstanding with disagreement. If Obama truly believed that individual effort was the primary cause of one’s success he could easily have indicated that in his speech. The fact that he’s dismissive of individual effort initially in his speech,

    I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

    Followed by his praise of government and anything other than the individual,

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

    And finally, a rather weak acknowledgement that the individual had some role,

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

    Note that he provides multiple examples of the collective contributing to success and not one of the individual. Is it truly that hard to imagine what an individual might have done to contribute to their own success? Perhaps something along the lines of, “You worked those 18 hour days. You mortgaged your house to buy those pizza ovens. You held down two jobs while you got that degree.” I mean it really isn’t very hard to think of examples of individual achievement and he completely failed to do so.

    As to your links, well, I found this particular passage from Mr. Simon to be quite revealing,

    When we compare the poorest with the richest nations, it is hard to conclude that social capital can produce less than about 90 percent of income in wealthy societies like those of the United States or Northwestern Europe.

    Now if that is what you cite as evidence that you and Obama value the individual’s contribution (a mere 10% of wealth produced), you’ve certainly failed to refute my point.

  50. 50 50 Frozen

    Oh crap. It didn’t like the tags. Sorry. Let me try again.

    Bearce and Obama would claim that their success is due to governmental forces.

    I don’t think you actually read my comments.

    No, I did. You obviously confused misunderstanding with disagreement. If Obama truly believed that individual effort was the primary cause of one’s success he could easily have indicated that in his speech. The fact that he’s dismissive of individual effort initially in his speech,

    I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

    Followed by his praise of government and anything other than the individual,

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

    And finally, a rather weak acknowledgement that the individual had some role,

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

    Note that he provides multiple examples of the collective contributing to success and not one of the individual. Is it truly that hard to imagine what an individual might have done to contribute to their own success? Perhaps something along the lines of, “You worked those 18 hour days. You mortgaged your house to buy those pizza ovens. You held down two jobs while you got that degree.” I mean it really isn’t very hard to think of examples of individual achievement and he completely failed to do so.

    As to your links, well, I found this particular passage from Mr. Simon to be quite revealing,

    When we compare the poorest with the richest nations, it is hard to conclude that social capital can produce less than about 90 percent of income in wealthy societies like those of the United States or Northwestern Europe.

    Now if that is what you cite as evidence that you and Obama value the individual’s contribution (a mere 10% of wealth produced), you’ve certainly failed to refute my point.

  51. 51 51 Ken B

    To beat a dead horse. Here’s Steve:

    If Obama is president, I think we can count on the Tea Party to make the case that Medicare is too big. If Romney/Ryan are elected, history suggests that the party will mostly rally ’round them, and therefore, if Romney/Ryan are unwilling to make that case, then nobody will. So the point isn’t that Obama will push entitelement reform if he wins; the point is that at least someone will push entitlement reform if Obama wins — whereas plausibly, noone will push it if Romney wins.

    I wonder first if Steve has abandoned his belief in incentives. If R/R wins that will surely be due in large measure to Ryan’s relative seriousness about the size of the government. Other ambitious politicians will take up the cause, and since Ryan is no Ron Paul, many will want more cuts than R/R. On the other hand, won’t R/R’s failure depress that kind of thing, as politicans note what happens?

    I think Steve has the Tea Partiers’ incentives wozzled too. They will be *energized* by a win. And what about the GOP powers-that-be? TPs are *not* part of the gop establishment, and the GOP will only pay attention to the extent they must and can gain from doing so. Tea Party voting muscle is that reason. It convinces more when it’s strong. Steves’ argument here sounds a bit like “beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  52. 52 52 Bearce

    No, I did.

    Then you didn’t understand them. Maybe you missed the following claims I made:

    No one is denying, nor was Obama, that hard-work and ingenuity are important determinants for success. They are necessary, but not sufficient. In order for the toils of an individual’s labor to come to fruition requires a steady source of social capital.

    …you can tell the context of the statement clearly claims that he meant an individual’s success isn’t attributed to his/her intelligence or hard-work alone.

    Not the sole causes of success.

    Note that he provides multiple examples of the collective contributing to success and not one of the individual.

    Yes, we know, that’s obvious because that was the whole point. It was to demonstrate how collective good can nurture and individual’s success, but it wasn’t to deny individual’s initiative and hard work didn’t contribute a role in the effort/success as been falsely portrayed and satirized by the Republican base.

    The fact that he’s dismissive of individual effort initially in his speech,

    No, it’s there. In plain english, he stated we succeed because of individual initiative and because we do things together. You, in turn, are acting as the dismisser in this case and then act as a petty nitpicker in claiming “Oh, well, he should have gave an example of like when people work 18 hour days, etc.”

    Now if that is what you cite as evidence that you and Obama value the individual’s contribution (a mere 10% of wealth produced), you’ve certainly failed to refute my point.

    That was more off topic to demonstrate to Ken how social capital determines potential success of a nation’s inhabitants. This isn’t a controversial messge, and if you want to take it up with Simon then be my guest.

    But there’s a critical difference between the two Steve’s and what Obama is advocating. The two Steve’s helped each other in the private sector which is exactly Ken’s argument. Bearce and Obama would claim that their success is due to governmental forces.

    Not only have you demonstrated to not understand what it is I’ve actually wrote, or what Obama actually said, but you can amazingly forget what you yourself have claimed.

    The fact is that neither one of us claimed that anyone’s success is due to (or soley permitted by) government forces alone. Anyone who can read or listen and claim otherwise is merely hearing and seeing what they wish.

  53. 53 53 Martin-2

    Bearce (31) – “If you need another example, take Atkin’s ‘legitimate rape’ controversy. Atkin doesn’t mean there is rape that’s legitimate (it by definition cannot happen) but instead means (or should have used) ‘forcible’. Poor choice of wording, but true nature of the message should be clear despite the media frenzy.”

    I saw John Stewart make this same mistake. Akin was not distinguishing one type of rape from another. He was distinguishing one type of rape from a falsely reported rape used to gain access to abortion.

  1. 1 Condi Rice a Stranger to Cost/Benefit Analysis
Comments are currently closed.