Friday, September 30, 2011

Objectivism and the Gold Standard

Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan both assumed that the government would be the only source of money.  Even in Atlas Shrugged when John Galt hands Dagny Taggart his own five dollar gold coin it bears the semata of the United States of America.  “On whose authority?” she asks.  “It says right there,” Galt replies.  The absence of private money in Ayn Rand’s capitalist utopia is curious. 

US 1/10 Gold Eagle,
modern US $5,
older US $5
Nothing requires that money be issued by a government, though there is utility in that for that institution.  While gold proved most useful in the industrial age, and may well continue through the information age, historically, gold only served a special function relative to silver.  Historically, silver was the universal metallic money.  Gold, like copper, was a convenience. 

Moreover, a truly agoric coinage would announce only its weight and fineness and not be denominated in money of account.  If by law the “dollar” is 412 ½ grains of silver, then the definition of the dollar can change by law.  Historically, this is well-known.  Debasements are the rule as government expenditures outrun their incomes.  The coinage suffers as their denominations increase. 

On the other hand, it is important to note certain seeming contractions to Gresham’s Law in the 19th century United States.  Silver half dimes circulated alongside nickel 5-cent coins.  Silver and nickel 3-cent coins also passed equivalently.  When the government changed the weight and fineness of the coins in 1834, it declared that all issues of whatever standard were alike legal tender and it made little difference.

In fact, the first gold coins of the United States did not state their money of account value in dollars until 1807 ($5 half eagle), 1808 ($2½ quarter eagle) and then 1838 ($10 eagle).  They were gold coins, nothing more or less.  Likewise, the British sovereign did not and still does not have a mark of value. 

Size of a half dollar and
potentially more useful.
As a large economic entity – even when limited by a constitution – the federal government of the United States easily should benefit from issuing its own currency, as would General Motors, Microsoft, or you.  There is nothing wrong with government money, but it is not necessarily the only money.  While a gold-backed federal currency would be inherently strong the government has the opportunity to consider and issue a variety of moneys – and historically, it has done so.  Gold and silver, of course, both came from the Mint as did minor and token coins in base metal.  However, through the 19th century and up to the Great Depression, paper promises were backed in gold, and in silver, and in only the credit of the United States.  Some of those unbacked promised paid interest; others did not.  No objective test can show that one kind is “moral” but another not, as long as people have a right to choose. 

But the government does not need to issue its own money.  In 1800 and 1802 republicans in the Senate attempted to shut down the Mint as a drain on the Treasury.  Trade and commerce were carried by foreign coins, largely Spanish dollars and their factions.  Meanwhile, even into the 1830s, merchants along the East Coast kept their books in pounds-shillings-pence, not dollars and cents.  Gold and silver coins from Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal were legal tender until 1857. 

Problems in money and banking generate much discussion among libertarians and objectivists.  Working the Libertarian Party tent at the Ann Arbor Street Fair in 2009, I heard one of my comrades denounce the Federal Reserve and declare that only the government has the right to create money.  Rather than engage in all of that, I offer these links. 
Also here on Necessary Facts:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Aging in America: Alternatives to Government Policies

The first Boston Marathon measured 24.5 miles. “On April 19, 1897, John J. McDermott of New York, emerged from a 15-member starting field and captured the first B.A.A. Marathon in 2:55:10.”   In 2006, that mark would place him 5th among the women age 40-49 (Gina M. McGee, 2:55:03).  However, the modern race is longer.  Therefore, today, McDermott would beat all of the women 50-59, but none of the women 40-49.  His time calculated for the longer course would be the same as John Smallwood, in the Men’s Age 60-69 who clocked 3:10:44. 
(This post is based on a term paper for an undergraduate class in Social Problems, Winter 2008.)
May 1970
Standard textbooks for classes in sociology present aging in generally the same ways that they present racism, war, and poverty.  However, by studying discrimination, inequality, stratification, poverty, war, and other problems, we are supposed to be prepared to deal with them, perhaps to solve them forever. 
And so the old joke goes Q:  How many sociologists does it take to change a light bulb? A:  The light bulb does not need changing.  It is society that needs to be changed.   
Sociologists portray people above some arbitrary age as a disabled minority, needful of government programs.  Solutions for individuals are not in the toolset of sociologists.  After, all it is society that needs to be changed.  The objective truth is that aging is not inevitable. 

The Need for Reforms” is a section subhead in the chapter on “Aging in a Youth Oriented Society” in Hardert et al. Confronting Social Problems (West Publishing, 1984). The book says: “Government officials have been aware of the special needs of our older population for some time.  … Federal programs have proliferated…” and it lists some of the many, citing a total of 48 major federal programs (pp 118-119):
  • The Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Comprehensive Older Americans Act of 1965
  • Comprehensive Older American Act Amendments of 1978
  • Social Security Administration
  • Medicaid and Medicare
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Healthcare Financing Administration
The authors recommend volunteering for work as one solution to social isolation “Activity theory encourages volunteerism among the elderly replacing lost work roles [paid] with unpaid involvement.” (page 120)  Certainly, under normal conditions volunteering is the noblesse oblige of the wealthy.  But unpaid labor is the very definition of slavery.

Rochelle Jones (The Other Generation: The New Power of Older People) equates the government with the economy:  “… the economic ‘pie’ is limited.  To say yes to expand or improve programs for older Americans is to say no to the needs of other sectors of the economy.”  (page 121)  It is true that government funding is limited, but the fact ist that under socialism, they divide the pie fairly, but under capitalism we bake more pies. (Actually, we bake a lot of alternatives and you are free to choose.) 

 John Macionis is perhaps the leading author of college textbooks for sociology in the USA.  (Globally, it is Sir Anthony Giddens.)  Discussing “Aging and Inequality” in Social Problems  (Pearson Prentice-Hall. 2002) Macionis says (page 120) that we have gone from the gerontocracy of preindustrial societies to “the elderly as a social problem” in industrial societies.  According to Macionis, capitalism devalues those who cannot contribute labor so the old are a cost burden.  A socialist society would care for the elderly as it cares for all of its citizens.  (pp138-139).  This ignores both Lenin and Saint Paul who alike decreed that he who does not work shall not eat.  In The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski tells of the Bakhtiari of southwest Iran who abandon their old when they move their herds.  In the utopian (or dystopian) novels Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, people end their lives at age sixty by order. 

May 2008

In Stanley D. Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn Social Problems (4th ed, Allyn and Bacon, 1989), the authors offer this (page 297): “The thesis of this chapter is that old eople constitute a minority group in our youth-worshipping society, with a high visible trait – an aged body – that makes them different from the majority.  They are relatively powerless.  Their behavior and traits are stereotyped and regularly depreciated and devalued by the dominant group.  And, most important, because of their age, the elderly are singled out for differential and unfair treatment.” That was over 20 years ago, and was defined by the attitudes of the ascendant Baby Boomers who 20 years before that did not trust anyone over 30.  This is an example of conflict between groups - a sociological fact.  It does not prove that even then, old people were the underclass.  Today, we surely are not.  Old people vote and young people do not, thus who is the dominant group is arguable.  Moreover where oldest and youngest workers compete directly (retail and fastfood), the seniors have the advantage, being desired for reliability and judgment.

Kathryn A. Dietrich's 2007 work, Instructor’s Resource Manual with Test Bank for Mooney, Knox and Schacht’s Understanding Social Problems (Fifth Edition) continues the claim that seniors are an underclass..  “In 2003, median income for individuals age 65 and above was $14,000 with 29.3% reported incomes of $10,000 or less.”  (page 527) When individuals live together, it is their combined incomes that counts.  In America, about 70% of all people own their own homes, with ownership highest among the older groups.   Moreover, older homeowners typically pay no mortgage.  They can borrow against the equity of their homes with negative mortgages.  Their incomes from investments, annuities and funds may or may not be reportable and other incomes may not be reported.  Non-working children are the single biggest drain on family income; and most seniors have not accepted that commitment. 

            The plight of those who are trapped in harsh circumstances must not be overlooked, but neither should it be generalized beyond its bounds.  Aging necessitates increased medical care.  Even if there is nothing wrong – or more likely, nothing symptomatic – regular medical checkups are critical to health maintenance.  Office visits cost money.  So do prescriptions and other regimens.  That said, the fact is that the present generation of elders is far better off than any previous generation.  Those following the Baby Boomers have every reason to expect even better outcomes. 
            Medical care is more than fixing things that are wrong.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says the old adage.  “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” reminds us about the importance of diet in general and vitamin C in particular.  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was the key to Linus Pauling’s recommendations for longevity.   Pauling himself took three grams of it every day.  He live to be 93.  When he was born in 1901, his life expectancy was 49.6 years.
The statistical probability of living longer is increasing.  The Social Security Administration actuarial tables give you zero probability of another year after 80, but continue the tables to 110 years of age to account for the increasing number of people who outlive their expectancy.  

Pauling’s recommendation for ascorbic acid remains controversial and not generally recognized by the medical community.  However, the theory is sound.  Like other vitamins, ascorbic is an anti-oxidant.  As such it protects against and repairs damage caused by free radicals.  The free radical theory of aging developed by Denham Harman.   Free radicals are partial compounds within the chemistry of the body.  Some are necessary.  Others float about as a kind of garbage, attaching themselves where they are neither needed nor wanted.  Free radicals damage fats, proteins, and nucleic acids.  Peroxidized fats cause arterial plaque.  Free radicals attack DNA and RNA causing cancer.  When lysosomal membranes are broken down by free radicals, the released enzymes (acid hydrolases) cause rheumatoid arthritis.   Just about all vitamins have anti-oxidant qualities, though C, A and the family of E seem to be the strongest actors.  In addition, chemicals BHT and BHA  commonly found in foods in America also protect against free radicals.  Some theorize that the addition of these preservatives to our processed foods has been responsible for the lower rates of stomach cancers among Americans and compared to other industrialized populations.

            Free radical theory is just one of several approaches to life extension.  Aging is not one thing, but a combination of processes and experiences. 
  • Aubrey de Grey developed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence and explained his theories in several books.  The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging earned him a special doctorate from Cambridge. 
  • John Sperling (founder of the University of Phoenix) has a project called “Genetic Savings and Clone” which failed to reproduce a dog, but which did create one CopyCat. 
  • Ray Kurzweil inventor of optical character scanning, digitized audio and other technologies wrote Fantastic Voyage: Life Long Enough to Live Forever  and four other books on the same theme.  Kurzweil believes that future technology derived from the frontiers of today’s computers will enable us to store the essential aspects of personality in a useful, interactive format.  
  • Cryonics is not “freezing”  but lowering body temperature may allow long-term storage and recovery of a human body.  The goal might be to hold you until a cure can be found for some serious problem.  Some people might prefer a slow trip into the far future. 
            Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw collected much of this information about free radicals and other theories for their books Life Extension a Practical Scientific Approach and The Life Extension Companion. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ground Truth

Geographers who work with remote sensing data call "ground truth" the final empircal test.  You never know for sure what the instruments are telling you until and unless you go there with your own natural-born senses. 

Over lunch, a couple of months ago, one of my former geography professors told me that despite two years on this field project, one of the graduate assistants became lost when faced with a detour.  Always focused on the vehicle's GPS, the driver had no sense of geographic context.  This is not unsual.

Last month, my wife had a similar experience.  Returning to her apartment from the airport, she told the taxicab driver which turn to make.  Focused on the GPS, the driver insisted on the direct route. Faced with orange barrels, they had to go four blocks around and the difference was the driver's lost tip.  The tip was included; the driver just burned it up. 

This happened to me twice when I first came to Austin.  Eyes nailed on the GPS, drivers from two different companies drove in circles looking for addresses that I could see from the back seat.  They ignored my help - eventually, my pleas.  In the first case, after my meeting, I walked back to the motel, a direct backstreet distance of a quarter-mile that cost me $10 in a taxicab via the freeways, offramps, and access roads.  After the second incident, I decided that I will never take a taxicab in Austin again.  I would rather spend the time waiting for buses, reading a book, than to spend the money on drivers who do not know their city.

I drove a cab three times in the 70s and 80s.  The first time, I was new in town. I depended on the map, of course, but as Alfred Korzybski told us, the map is not the territory.  I made notes.  My third time, though I knew the town much better, I still started out with a fresh map in booklet form, which I annotated, drawing in new subdivisions as I discovered them.  I do not blame a driver for not knowing every street, but I do hold any person morally responsible to use their own senses.

In remote sensing, we learn six ways to create "yellow." 
  • A direct radiation of 5600 angstroms.
  • Reflection: all other wavelengths absorbed; yellow reflected.
  • Full Red and Full Blue with No Green in an RGB display
  • Full Yellow and No Cyan and No Magenta in a CMYK display
  • Passing White light through a Yellow filter
  • Refraction of White light at an appropriate angle
It is a prinicple of objectivism (and empiricism) that the senses cannot be fooled.  When you see an "optical illusion" the trick is in the mind, not the eye.  When you see yellow, yellow is what you see.  However, as the rationalists warn us, we do not necessarily know how the yellow was created.  For that, you need "ground truth."

In Suspect Terrain
The Map that Changed the World
Mapping it Out: An Atlas of Contemporary Cartographics
The Philosophical Breakfast Club

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Roots of Poverty

In The Economy of Cities, Jane Jacobs wrote: “To seek 'causes' of poverty in this way is to enter an intellectual dead end because poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes.”

As a card-carrying criminologist I study the sociology of crime.  Some claim that poverty causes crime.  It may.  But, others claim, also rightfully, that crime causes poverty.  More cogently, in many instances, the criminal mind-set is the mentality of poverty: criminals are creatures of convenience and habit.  At least, some of them are.  (In a paper on criminological metatheory on my website here, I list the 30 or more theories that explain the 30 or more causes of 30 or more kinds of criminal actions.) 

Overfilled dumpster at my apartment complex.
In Goethe's Faust Part 1, Mephistopheles says: "Ich bin der Geist der verneint."  (I am the spirit that negates.)  The devil cannot create, only destroy.  Criminals are creatures of convenience and habit. Entrepreneurs seek new solutions to previously unknown problems.  They find and reduce inefficiencies.  An entrepreneur will invest all the resources available to make a dream come true.  A manager will not go over budget.  A criminal will not make the effort.  (In the Bible, this is the Parable of the Talents.) 

An empty dumpster was only 30 meters away.
I walked the short path between buildings to the next parking lot and found the dumpster there empty. Anyone who threw the next bag of garbage (or left that dead sofa) could have made the same small effort.  But it was too much work.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand painted Starnesville, the town abandoned by its productive citizens.  Those who remained had no time, no energy, no interest in effort. 

The distance is maybe 100 feet, 30 meters.
In fact, there were four or five available dumpters, all within a few hundred feet. 

Sociologists claim that when rich people commit crimes, it is because rich people are crooks; and when poor people commit crimes, it is because rich people are crooks.  The easy claim is that crime among the poor is a response to their oppression.  They retaliate against the ruling class by victimizing each other. At least, that is what I was taught in four years of university education in sociology, 2006-2010.  Myself, as an advocate of laissez faire capitalism, and a defender of so-called robber barons, I can see the landlord as the seamy underbelly of property.  Edison invented.  The landlord only holds.  And yet, the owners of this property invest a lot of money in maintenance.  And it is too little appreciated by the poor criminals who live here.

Maintenance worker picks up around the site.
Every day, the grounds crew picks up trash.  They reload the dumpsters, breaking down discarded furniture.  Contractors come in once a week to sweep the grounds, collecting leaves, mowing the lawn - not much of that with central Texas's drought.... but still they come...

The complex is perhaps 30 years old.  The property management firm owns a range of real estate investments in California, Texas, and other places.  The shrubs are trimmed decoratively.  When we moved in, my wife said, "We have real holly!" And, indeed, we do.  But be that as it may ....

Someone works pretty hard to do this.
No matter how much work the owner invests in the property, those who have no ownership stake take no ownership care.  Look closely under that bush in the foregound and you may notice the beer can.  They are all over the place every morning.  In a previous post, I spoke of the scavengers who come for the aluminum.  In a fascinating display of inherent respect, they do not actually walk the grounds.  I wish they would.  They only come to the dumpsters.  They do not want to intrude on the grounds.  If only all the residents here showed the same sense of propriety and respect and self-respect.

Under the round bush in the foreground,
a Modelo beer can
which someone made an effort to crush
but not to discard.
And yet, the problem is complicated and nuanced.  It has texture.  Today, a woman from an apartment along my walkway was vacuuming out her SUV.  I am fairly confident that she did not toss the beer can under the bush.  This morning, I met my neighbor below.  He has a lunch wagon, a converted pickup.  Every day, he gets up, cooks, loads his truck and goes off to construction sites.  I doubt that the beer cans are his.

BudLite can tossed on the ground, not in a dumpster.
Lacking an objective basis for morality, earlier advocates of capitalism only could say that the millionnaire has as much right to his wealth as the laborer to his hundreds. In the 20th century Ayn Rand delineated productive workers at any income from the looters and moochers.  Common laborers or uncommon inventors alike are to be contrasted against those those who look to Washington or to heaven because they cannot look within themselves to find their motivation.

Like poverty, crime has no 'cause.'  It is the ground state, the default, the lack-of-something.  In metaphysics, we say that "nothing is not a special kind of something."  So, too, in ethics, is poverty not a different kind of productivity. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Maybe it's what they don't have."

About halfway through Atlas Shrugged, the weak businessman, Mr. Mowen, sees an anonymous worker lashing down machinery on a flatcar.  The reader knows the worker to be Owen Kellogg.  The production tools are on their way to Colorado.  Mr. Mowen does not understand why a firm would abandon its traditional home.  "What have they got in Colorado?"  he asks.  The worker replies, "Maybe it's what they don't have."

Austin has homeless people living under the freeways; and beggars stand at freeway exits.  Like Michigan, Texas has government offices for handing out grants to businesses that promise to "create jobs."  Unlike Michigan, here is a culture of self-reliance and enterprise.  It's 100 degrees and a woman is standing in a median, selling bottles of water.  You can get 70 cents a pound for aluminum; and poor people walk the streets picking up cans.  (In Michigan, 10 cents a can is not enough incentive any more.)  The other day, when I went down to the dumpster, three guys were were pulling out an iron bed frame to add to the load in their truck.  Saturday night is party night and so Sunday morning, they were back, retrieving beer cans.

The Ann Arbor News closed in July 2009.  Here, I have the Austin American-Statesman, but also, both the Chronicle and The Onion, as well as a slew of lesser banners, more than I can gather up and bring home.  

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has much of the same political baggage as his northern cousin, Michigan governor Rick Snyder.  Rick Perry likes to take credit for the boom here in Texas.  Basically, the governor and the government are irrelevant, except as they reflect a wider culture.  

Monday, I got a haircut for $5.95, half the going rate in Michigan.  Unionization in Michigan pushed up wages past the margin of utility.  I pointed this out to my wife, who countered that waitresses make the same low wages in both places.  But that is not exactly correct.  Here, restaurants cost less.  There, tips are the same percentage, but of a higher dollar total.  Here, $5.95 goes as far as $11.00 there.  The difference is measured in the number of idle people in Michigan waiting for Gov. Rick Snyder to bring them an employer. 

The general truths are easy to find.  I found them recently in an anthology,  The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times, David S. Landes, Joel Mokyr, and William J. Baumol, eds., which I reviewed for The Libertarian Papers here.  Many of the same facts appear in The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs and in Max Weber's City.  I simply found a place where enterprise already is active and welcome because here there is less entitlement, less interference, less regulation.  It is not perfect, but it is better.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Family Business

The classic entities of businesses, households, and governments might be useful constructs for conceptualizing market operations, but, really, like planets, meteors, and stars, they all must obey the same same general laws – and distinctions among them can be blurred easily. In fact, every family is a business. The most successful family businesses are those that perceive themselves as such.  Academic economics - even from "free market" professors - teaches from false assumptions.

"Households produce goods and services for their own consumption and not for the market."
Firms have internal accountants, rather than hiring accounting firms – which they also do. Shipping and receiving, sales, etc., all could be contracted but are produced internally. If nothing else, households export labor – and capital goods such as the lawn mower and dishwasher enable that. Hans Rosling's TED Talk, "The Magic Washing Machine" (here) praises the liberating power of this capital good. We just moved from Ann Arbor to Austin. I have no idea how many fractional horsepower motors I packed – drills, sander, saber saws; mixer, blender. We have several computers networked here. I did not count the obsolete 5.25-inch diskettes I dumped. (My Carmen Sandiego and SimAnt were still pretty fresh.) The tax laws that allow businesses to write off obsolete capital do not apply to households, but they should.

"Households do not exist in an environment that could meaningfully be called competitive."
The Capulets and Montagues would disagree, as would the Rothschilds and Warburgs. They competed against each other and cooperated in joint ventures. Even the families that do not understand this at least must export labor. In that, they compete.

The two axioms in bold come from a paper by Steven Horwitz and Peter Lewin, "Heterogeneous human capital, uncertainty, and the structure of plans: A market process approach to marriage and divorce," in The Review of Austrian Economics (2008; 21:1-21; available here.) The paper offers much to consider. It nonetheless repeated many of the basic flaws of academic economics, and did so from a middle American point of view. 

 It is true that the institution of marriage in modern America has changed over the past 100 years. However, the authors over-reached by ignoring the many folkways that define "family" and "family business" in other cultures. Dowery and bride price are real and functional economic considerations. In ancient China, a woman’s production of silk cloth was the creation of household savings – and she knew it. In rural America of the 19th-20th centuries, cash income from the sale of butter and eggs was the wife's own.

Feminists rightly pointed out that "women's work" i.e, housework is undervalued: washing, cooking, shopping, caring for children, cleaning, gardening, and all the other tasks are not income; and their costs of production are not tallied. Neither is "man's work." Mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, and the other chores are invisible to economists.

This reflects another error in academic economics: confusion about consumer goods and capital goods. Easily, capital goods are tools that are employed to create other goods or services. Of consumables, food is perhaps the paradigm. But food is also the primary capital good.

Capital goods such as machineries wear out; they are abandoned when obsolete.  Also, they can be reconfigured, recombined, or redeployed to other ends. A factory worker may require protective clothing, a capital good. But an office worker also requires special clothing. Yet, the prints and patterns, styles, fads, and fashions are not recognized for their productive power.

We all produce... and consume... The laws of economics are not to be ignored, no matter what convenient labels allow us to isolate actors and their actions.  Governments, businesses, and families are helpful concepts when considering markets, but they are not essentially different from each other in any economic sense.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Evidence is Not Enough

Generally, people rated authors as experts when the views coincided with their own. Kahan and his team created three authors and their books. All three had the same high level of academic standing. (Doctorates from major schools.) In every case, two different, opposing views were written for each author and randomly shown to subjects. The topics were gun control, nuclear power plants, and global warming.

Originally published by the Yale Law School as "Research Paper #205: Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus by Dan M. Kahan, Hank Jenkins-Smith and Donald Braman." The paper can be downloaded from the site of our comrades at Mother Jones who offer it here.

This is really just another arithmetic validation of what we know as the "confirmation bias" and the "attribution fallacy." Richard Feynman warned young scientists about the need for ruthless honesty in his famous speech on "Cargo Cult Science." (Available from the CalTech Engineering and Science Library here.)

In short, we tend to agree with and thereby validate experts who agree with us. When presented with facts opposed to our commitments, we denigrate the status of the provider. This ties in with another theme: The Big Sort by Bill Bishop. Over the past generation, Americans have come to socialize only with those who agree with them politically. In the 1960 Presidential election, Kennedy won over Nixon by about 1 vote per precinct, and largely, it was just that: a nation mostly divided narrowly near the middle. Now, precincts tend to be overwhelmingly Republican or Democrat.

It is not just gerrymandering (though there is that), but the fact that people choose to live among those whose political values already mirror their own. The research data show that this correlation is strongest among those with more education. The guys on the bowling team might disagree and still hang out; their bosses on the golf links do not.

Today, perhaps more than a third of working American adults hold bachelor degrees, with the master's being the new bachelor's. University education apparently failed to achieve the lofty goals of Karl Popper and Mark Van Doren two generations ago for a society open to ideas, whose participants benefited from a liberal education embracing literature, mathematics, science, and fine arts.

The blog OrgTheory is written by sociologists of economics, Brayden King, Fabio Rojas, and others. On April 11, 2011, Brayden King posted "When Evidence Isn't Convincing." It summarized research by Daniel Kahan and his colleagues.  Reading that and following the links to the original paper, I posted an earlier version of this blog article to the Objectivist site, Rebirth of Reason.

Republican Rebels
Workers Paradise Promised an End to Money
Unlimited Constitutional Government
That Goddam Ayn Rand Book

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hook 'em Horns!

I arrived in Austin on August 31 and started unpacking the 26-foot Penske truck that I loaded in Ann Arbor the previous week. My wife flew down September 3. To meet her, I rented a Cooper Mini Zipcar to be picked up at Gregory Gymnasium near the UT Stadium. As soon as I got on the 1L Bus, I knew I was in trouble: it was game day. We lived in Columbus and Lansing and Ann Arbor; and I should have been more cognizant of the reality of big school football.

Zipcar was nice about extending the rental. Today, waiting for the 1L so that we could have brunch here at the Wheatsville Co-op (where we are now owners), I asked a CapMetro driver how the game went. He said that it was something like 31-6 (34-9 as it turns out). "We were down there," I said. "And the crowd did not seem jubilant." The driver said, "Rice is not really a game. We beat them every year. Baylor, TCU, maybe the Aggies this year." I understood: like OSU versus Ohio; or U of M versus Eastern Michigan. UT vs. Rice since 1914: 71-21-1. (
UT Historical scores from Mack Brown here.)