Category Archives: Uncategorized

Respect and Love

By not killing or not stealing from a man, we should him respect; by giving life and profiting him, we upgrade respect into charity-love.

2nd-, 1st-Order Desires, and the Market

2nd-order desires determine what kind of person one wants to be. A typical 1st-order preference is between chocolate and vanilla ice-cream. But when one thinks, "Liking ice-cream is not manly. I am just not the sort of guy who has any interest in ice-cream," he is expressing a 2nd-order desire. He is contemplating not what he wants but what he wants to want: "I like ice-cream, but it's a nasty temptation; I'll purge the desire for it from my soul."

This distinction is crucial to understanding the so-called "dependence effect" or the idea that our wants are determined by society.

In the paper linked to, Hayek points out that while all entrepreneurs collectively determine the maximum extent of the choices for all consumers collectively, no individual entrepreneur can compel any individual consumer to buy his product.

But there is a deeper issue here.

A company can cater to men whose self-image is either "strong rugged individualists" or "effeminate milk drinkers" (including those men who are not yet but are trying to become those types of people). These personal identities will generate the requisite first-order desires. The company can, upon guessing or predicting people's self-images and deciding on their target demographics, seek to inflame or stimulate those 1st-order desires, such as through marketing and advertising and even affirmations of the identity.

But it is a losing strategy for a company to try to change self-proclaimed tough individualists into weak milk drinkers as a precondition to selling them their product. An attempt to inflame 2nd-order desires will be perceived by the consumers as a threat to their very identity. They will not take this assault kindly and will reject it with contempt and disgust.

How to Destroy the State?

I mean specifically the imperial "federal" government?

Cohen’s Rescuing Justice and Equality

I read it first in 2008 and made notes. I will be rereading it again now starting tomorrow, but I've been putting if off for a couple of days, because the poison he writes depresses me.

Equality with Angels Is Promised to the Saints

So says St. Thomas on a number of occasions. But certainly not equality in nature; the angelic nature will remain superior to the human nature.

Could it be equality of dignity or importance in the eyes of God? But we have this equality even now. The good angels serve us as the condition of their beatitude; the evil angels suffer defeat at our hands, and so must acknowledge our greatness.

Further, if Mary is the queen of heaven, then she is above the angels, as well. I think the equality spoken of is of ultimate happiness. It will be impossible to predict, by picking an arbitrary angel and arbitrary human saint, who will be happier. Some angels will be happier than some saints; but some saints will also be happier than some angels. If there is a "hierarchy of happiness," then both angels and humans will be interspersed within it.

Another possibility is that equality refers to the good possessed by each, which is God, though the capacity of enjoying Him will be unequal for all creatures.

Mary and Eve

Angel Gabriel hails Mary, as though a superior to him creature, and calls her "full of grace." What sort of grace is that? It could be sanctifying grace suitable to make Mary holy and assure her personal salvation. But it's more probably the gift of being the mother of God.

But do you really think that God could've picked a random slave-girl toiling in the fields and by copiously giving her "grace" made her exactly as good as Mary?

Why then the thousand-year-long history of the nation of Israel that culminates in Mary and Jesus? It can't just be the Jewish religion, i.e., the strict monotheism, admittedly an island of sanity among the polytheistic nonsense around it.

It must have had something to do with genetic purification, which was in some part responsible for Mary's natural perfection. God was being a eugenicist, and He used Israel to make Mary well-born, not just rescuing her from original sin, but granting her freedom from "concupiscence" understood as imperfectly ordered or sinful desires.

Mary was not a robot who did not enjoy food or drink or was sexually frigid. For example, she was slated to marry Joseph normally before the annunciation, and so she must have expected to have sex with him and even looked forward to it. Angel Gabriel's visit was a surprise to her. Remaining a virgin was a sacrifice Mary had to make for the sake of a more highly valued good, namely, becoming the mother of God.

We may ask: If Mary, who was born without original sin, was a huge success as a human being, so great in fact that she qualified to give birth to God the Son, and is now a queen of heaven, then:

Why wouldn't God have all of us born without the original sin, thereby making every man a king of heaven, equal to Mary, if absence of that troublesome condition is all that stands in the way of such glory?

If more than that is needed, then how was Mary different from Eve who, while also in the state of original natural happiness, still sinned?

Perhaps just as some angels were created already naturally predisposed to accepting God's grace and some, to rejecting it, Mary was naturally superior to Eve, and where Eve failed, she succeeded. Eve was created easily given to temptation, easily corruptible, while Mary was created much more steadfast. Eve then had a major character flaw. It is Mary's greater natural righteousness through which she persevered.

The conclusion is obvious: Eve was created weak, unlike Mary, because the fall of humans somehow served God's purposes. A world in which there is original sin must then be ultimately superior to a world in which it never occurs. More precisely, a world in which Eve's strength equals Mary's is better from the Father's point of view but worse overall when the Holy Spirit's and and Son's missions are also taken into account.

Consider also that Mary was conceived without original sin, whereas even now those who are baptized in the Catholic Church as infants gestate in the womb while still afflicted with original sin. So, Mary's body must've been exceedingly healthy and beautiful and strong, free from any inborn defects. This surely was crucial to her mission as mother of God. She had to be up for it physically, and that is never a joke, especially in ancient times, and especially when giving birth to God (of all, uh... people).

So, it seems that Mary was naturally a uniquely magnificent specimen of our species.

Whatever sanctifying grace was given to her, to further her own personal salvation, was ordinary, rather than extraordinary, and similar to graces given to would-be saints today.

She was different from other humans not by the amount or type of sanctifying grace bestowed on her, but (1) regarding the timing of removal of OS -- at conception rather than from baptism at birth or as an adult; (2) her wonderful nature and personality, far exceeding Eve.

But I could be wrong on this one; perhaps in Mary both spectacular nature and spectacular sanctifying grace during her entire life were combined.

The Problem of Evil and Nature

Those who are troubled by the theological problem of evil may not even realize the full extent and size of the difficulty.

If man is yang and the active force, then nature is yin, something to be subdued and shaped. Yet as I write in my book, the female archetype is not only receptive but also destructive in its various guises: e.g., if you do not take the opportunity to plant your crops in the summer when nature is pliable, the same nature will starve and kill you in the winter.

Now it would be wrong to suggest that because of this destructive aspect, nature hates us. Rather, nature is completely unforgiving of our mistakes, rather like its creator, God the Father.

In fact, the Father's lack of interest in forgiving sins stems from precisely this aspect of nature and His mission.

That forgiveness of sins is nevertheless provided for through the solicitude of the Son is a miracle and incredible testament to God's overflowing goodness.

Minimum Wage and the Market Process

Let's evaluate the assumption of the "moderate" economists, referred to by Walter Block, that minimum wage legislation will have the following effect:

"A few people will lose their jobs, but the overwhelming majority would either find or keep their employment slots, at higher compensation rates."

Now in the market, there is an equilibrating tendency toward equalizing wages and marginal productivity. There is no way in the longer run for one to be paid more than he is worth to the company. So, the idea that the overwhelming majority will start enjoying higher wages as if by magic, getting something out of nothing, is extremely short-term.

First, during any negotiation between firm and potential employee, there is a narrow range of possible wages, where the determination of the exact wage is made purely by bargaining. In the short-run, for those unskilled lowly workers who will not be fired right away, minimum wage transfers some gains from trade from the employer to the worker, and that's it. It is not clear, however, how this is "just." For many businesses, especially small, in many stages of their development, the business owner may receive negligible profits or even suffer losses. The workers end up being better off than the entrepreneur. Perhaps some leftist "compassion" should be given to the latter.

In other words, the moderate economists are no better than the Marxists who see the alleged "surplus value" and get mad because the entrepreneur supposedly gets away with a crime and laughs all the way to the bank. It seems rather that the minimum wage can make the poorest party in the whole shebang, i.e., the entrepreneur, even poorer.

Second, the equilibration occurs by force of law not through the market process. As a result, it is one-size-fits-all and extremely crude. It grinds into dust indifferently and equally both underpaid and reasonably compensated workers. It makes workers unemployed and businesses workerless. It is moreover entirely superfluous, as the market abhors profits and perpetually, with the help of equilibrators, tries to arbitrage them away.

Third, the market process has benefits beyond diminishing existing profits and raising wages. Even equilibrating entrepreneurship increases the quantity of goods available, lowers their prices, and may even make small technological improvements to them. The bigger problem is that artificially high wages discourage creative advance or disequilibrating entrepreneurship. A budding capitalist's alertness consists in many things, but in particular in containing costs by uncovering underpriced factors of production. If unskilled workers are either highly paid or cannot legally be employed, business opportunities to that extent dry up. As a result, society loses from new goods that fail to come into existence that would otherwise under free markets be produced.

The moderate economists are shortsighted even on their own terms. Again, unskilled jobs are not ends in themselves but stepping stones to career-building. Remove their crucial aid, and one will languish forever in abject poverty or on welfare. This suggests that the harm to "a few people" will far outweigh even the benefits to the majority.

Why Does Walter Block Do Philosophy?

My guess is that he falsely thinks that it's easy. He argues against minimum wages law as follows:

Posit that the "moderate" economists were right. A few people will lose their jobs, but the overwhelming majority would either find or keep their employment slots, at higher compensation rates.

Suppose I were to go to the inner city (which contains a disproportionate number of the unskilled), and did the following. I went to one in every 20 people I met, and, at the point of a gun, I relieved them of, oh, $10,000 (40 hours per week time 50 weeks multiplied by $5 per hour). Whereupon I turned to the other 19 out of 20 people and dispersed these stolen funds amongst them.

If I did so, I would be promoting the precise effects that the moderate members of the economics profession who are supporters of minimum wage claim will occur. Namely, this law, they contend, they concede, will hurt very few but benefit the many.

But how would my excursion into the inner city, and my wealth transfer, be considered by law? Of course, I would be considered a criminal, and very properly so.

This is a really amazing piece of reasoning, blithely confusing ends and means. The end, namely, the transfer of income and the means by which it is actuated are separate variables that can change independently of each other. The consequences can be either good or bad; the means by which the consequences are caused, lawful or unlawful. Let's further call Block's raid into the inner city, Blockean robbery or BR.

We can take note of the following 4 permutations:

Good Lawful -- Minimum wage (according to current mores)
Good Unlawful -- BR
Bad Lawful -- Losing money in the stock market
Bad Unlawful -- Common robbery or theft

The very same event, namely, the transfer of control of a sum of money from me to another party, can be good or bad for me or society as a whole; and can occur lawfully or unlawfully. Observing only the act of transfer does not provide us with enough information to determine either. Rothbard understood this point well:

Suppose we are walking down the street and we see a man, A, seizing B by the wrist and grabbing B's wristwatch. There is no question that A is here violating both the person and the property of B. Can we then simply infer from this scene that A is a criminal aggressor, and B his innocent victim?

Certainly not -- for we don't know simply from our observation whether A is indeed a thief, or whether A is merely repossessing his own watch from B who had previously stolen it from him. (EoL, 51)

The exact same transfer of $30 can be unlawful if I am threatened with death unless I give it up, and lawful if I pay with this amount for my dinner at a restaurant.

Again, suppose that company X made $100,000 in profits this year through purely market activities. Block grants, for the sake of argument, that laissez-faire economists are right and property is not theft. But he says, even then it is easy to prove them wrong. Suppose instead X's security department went out into the inner city and robbed people there until the amount of money it thereby collected became equal to $100,000. Surely, the company would then be considered a criminal enterprise or even a terrorist organization! See? This "shows" that it obtained its profits illegitimately.

The fact that a certain transfer is made criminal by one set of circumstances surrounding it does not make it criminal in all sets of circumstances.

The criminality of BRs is completely irrelevant to the questions of either the criminality of minimum wage or the utility of minimum wage. Here's an example.

It is true that BR, unlike minimum wage laws, will be considered to be criminal. But presumably it will still be a holy act. We may even regret that the law will treat it this way, but it may be because it is rule utilitarian not act utilitarian. A single BR will produce good consequences, but a policy of allowing anyone to redistribute income in this way at any time at his own pleasure will be counterproductive and is prohibited for that reason. However, it can be argued that the government's minimum wage law will be a way of mimicking BRs appropriately and orderly without any disturbing chaos of vigilante economizing.

Other Good Unlawful acts may be the paradigmatic stealing from a miser or emergency situations where a good is commandeered for the sake of saving a life.

Thus, if minimum wage is good, then Block should perform the robberies described routinely but try not to get caught. He will be forever honored as a "people's hero," despite the undiscriminating formalism of the law. There'll be statues on him erected in the inner cities!

Defining “Need”

It may be true that the word "need" should be expunged from economics; but it can be defined virtuously as a state of affairs in which one wants a good not to obtain pleasure or relief from discomfort but to preserve his very life, and getting that good by normal means, i.e., by buying it on the market, is somehow impossible.

This is because one is never under a necessity to enjoy a particular pleasure, but must do anything to survive, religious considerations aside, since a corpse has no use for pleasure at all.

A typical situation is a finding shelter in someone else's cabin without explicit permission during an Alaskan snowstorm; or breaking into a drug store at night to get a life-saving medicine needed immediately. Even those situations are almost always "take-and-pay" where compensation is due legally and gratitude is due morally after the danger has passed.

Prayers, Cont.

We can see, by the way, Jesus' attitude toward miracles. He performs them solely in order to authenticate his claims and lay open the nature of Himself and His mission.

But, when disappointed with humans and clearly exasperated, He says: "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet." (Mt 12:39)

"Enough miracles," Jesus goes on; "Jonah's and Solomon's wisdom was sufficient to convert many; if all I've done still has not convinced you, then you've dug your own grave."

How Prayers Are Granted

We must admit that God the Father has not fully rested from His mission of creating the world but still occasionally performs miracles. Now a miracle is not a way to grant a prayer, not a way to help a human being achieve any end; not a form of grace; its entire purpose is to be sign that the Father's power is His, now and forever. There are, after all, humans so stupid or corrupt that they fail to acknowledge even the existence of the Creator (let alone the Trinity, angels, everlasting life within the communion of saints, and so on) who in His mercy, has delivered some people from atheism through miracles.

However, prayers are uttered every day by billions of the faithful. If the Father granted prayers, then it seems that He would have to constantly intervene into His own creation and alter the normal functioning of objects in it according to the laws that the Father Himself had instituted. At the very least, He'd have to use His power to mix His first causation among secondary causes; thus, one would marvel to observe an axe floating down the river; but this would be due to the Father's exercise of power keeping it from sinking.

If a woman is driving on a parking lot and for some reason praying that she finds a parking space, then either the Father would have to scratch her brain sneakily to cause her to drive in the right direction, or He's have to rend the earth beneath the nearest car that would devour the car into the abyss, at which point the tear would be refilled, and the woman would be able to park there. Either would be a miracle.

This, however, would be completely unfitting, because it would mean that nature is extremely inadequate and must be constantly prodded and zapped and coerced by the Father to work half-decently or even not to fall apart entirely. But if the Father wanted the woman to find that parking space, why didn't He create a world where this would happen naturally? A brain can get "scratched" through a variety of natural causes; earthquakes occur regularly; why didn't God make nature better?

Is it the Son who grants prayers then? But surely, prayers were granted long before the Incarnation. In addition, I do not see the specific means of fulfilling prayers that are unique to the Son.

We do, however, have a person whose MO is perfectly suited to granting prayers, and that's the Holy Spirit. This is because grace, unlike a miracle, does not coerce or harm or counteract nature but uplifts it. William Dembski, who is undoubtedly a genius and one of my teachers, has proposed a theory of how grace acts on the physical level. Again, a situation where nature was determined to do X, and God forced it to do Y instead, would be a miracle. But, Dembski argues, perhaps deep down on the quantum level there exists true randomness. In that case, nature is not determined either to X or to Y; so, normally the outcome is randomly generated. An act of God that determines intelligently what would otherwise be determined randomly is in no wise a miracle but an act of bestowing grace.

To be sure, grace for the human soul differs from grace for merely material things. Precisely because grace is not law but is customized to each individual, and because it works within the soul subtly and often undetected (again unlike a miracle which is intended to be seen by the multitudes in all its magnificence and in order not to threaten one's identity) that it is one of the most mysterious supernatural phenomena.

St. Thomas teaches that "to faith [and therefore to grace in general] those things in themselves belong, the sight of which we shall enjoy in eternal life, and by which we are brought to eternal life." God "so provides for natural creatures, that not merely does He move them to their natural acts, but He bestows upon them certain forms and powers, which are the principles of acts, in order that they may of themselves be inclined to these movements, and thus the movements whereby they are moved by God become natural and easy to creatures... Much more therefore does He infuse into such as He moves towards the acquisition of supernatural good, certain forms or supernatural qualities, whereby they may be moved by Him sweetly and promptly to acquire eternal good..."

This way, the autonomy and self-sufficiency of nature are preserved. So, if not the Father or the Son, then the job of granting prayers falls squarely to the Holy Spirit. I personally feel He has been neglected by both the people and the theologians. But now it follows that in order to pray properly, one ought explicitly to call upon the Holy Spirit's aid.

Universal Salvation and the Two Hells

The human hell is weeping (inconceivable pain) and gnashing of teeth (utter hatred) mixed into a package of eternal horror. It is impossible, let it be proposed, that a perfectly good God would let any of His creatures suffer like that, including even the demons.

This reasoning runs into two problems. (1) Why does Jesus warn us on many occasions of hell? (2) Aren't demons already condemned to hell?

(1) I think, though cannot prove definitively, that the human hell exists not as an ultimate place or state of punishment but as an ultimate incentive against moral evil. It is meant to be avoided by all, just as it is best that a human law threatening punishment for stealing is never violated. In other words, if any man, no matter how brutal or sinful or selfish or wild, were to feel hellfire, then he would become so afraid that he'd immediately embark upon a long path of self-reformation. It is still possible go to hell; but in fact the human hell is actually empty, as no one fails to heed its horror if exposed to it.

Of course, hellfire is God's final tool when everything else has failed. Very few people are given this grace.

(2) Demons are condemned, but they go to their own demonic hell which is different from human hell. It does not feature pain by hellfire. Instead, the demons will experience in their hell

  1. separation from God and impossibility to contemplate Him naturally,
  2. privation of any grace and knowledge of divine secrets in the state of glory,
  3. environment less pleasant than either their heavenly home from which they fell or this universe into which they were banished and where they now reside,
  4. sorrow from inability to satisfy their desire of harming humans,
  5. sorrow from being completely defeated by creatures they used to despise -- us.

If the wicked angels believed they would, upon defeat, go to anything like the human hell, they would never have rebelled. Satisfaction of pride, no matter how burning, in refusing to serve humans, is a limited finite end; eternal torture is an infinite evil. Surely, every angel was smart enough to weigh the probabilities and agree to receive the Holy Spirit's grace, if the alternative was a chance of being utterly destroyed and tormented forever.

Thus, the problem of infinite horror is neatly solved. The human hell is absolute evil but is supposed to and does stay empty (though avoiding it is each person's task; there is no limit to how much one can sin and suffer before he comes to his senses), functioning merely as a perfect deterrent; the demonic hell will be full of filth, but the prisoners there will simply be isolated and forgotten and miserable from pain of loss or privation of the goods proper to angels both in nature and glory, but they will not suffer hellfire.

Note that even if these two objections to universal salvation are solved correctly, this is merely evidence in favor of the conclusion, not a proof. That it does not befit God to torture creatures for all eternity is merely my own intuition. Perhaps my heart is unbecomingly soft. Nevertheless, these ruminations may be of interest.

Aristotelian Hierarchy

Consider the hierarchy of the Aristotelian causes in the order of increasing dignity:

  1. material
  2. efficient
  3. final
  4. formal

For prime matter, its material cause is within it; all other causes are outside. This includes even the efficient cause, because prime matter does not "work" or function in any way; it's completely inert. Someone else must make quarks and electrons with it.

For merely material objects, their material and efficient causes are within. When we ask, "What makes this car exist right now?" the answer is, "The fact that it's made of such and such materials and works in a certain way." However, the car's final cause is outside of it.

A machine has no purpose other than to serve man by performing a useful function. Its "goals" do not differ from those of its creator. It wants nothing for itself. It is a perfect slave. A human slave might try to hide his abilities so as not to be swamped with hard work; a machine would not "think" of anything so clever. Or, a master must make sure that the slave will prefer to comply with the master's orders over rebelling; a machine does not in this manner calculate benefits and opportunity costs. A machine has no internal life or experiences that are inaccessible to anyone but itself. Where the machine ends and raw materials and the environment begin is an arbitrary decision.

For humans, now also their final cause is within. A man's purpose is his own happiness, his own joy. He is essentially no one's tool, though of course people do make use of each other, say, in the market or within a firm. A human being is an end in himself.

However, a man's formal cause, i.e., the answer to the question "What / who am I?" is still external and will only be revealed to him upon entrance to heaven in glory: God "shall give him a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it." (Rev 2:17) Even then, we will be what God makes us into. In order to find out what a person is in all his unique individuality who is in the process of becoming, we'd have to query God and His mysterious designs.

Lastly, God has even the formal cause internally. He is 100% what He is, complete and perfect.

Euthanasia and Physical Exercise

Given the distinction I proposed between life, dying, and lifespan, [1], [2] -- life ends and dying begins when an old person can no longer take care of himself, with lifespan being the total length of one's sojourn on earth, what effect does physical fitness have on these?

It is obvious that healthy living enhances the quality of life. The 3 other questions are much less certain:

  1. In regard to the quantity of life, does exercise prolong life?
  2. In regard to the quality of dying, does it make dying less unpleasant?
  3. In regard to the quantity of dying, does it hasten the dying process?

For example, let Smith contemplate acquiring a habit of vigorous daily exercise. Which is most plausible:

  1. Regardless of whether Smith exercises or not, he will live for 60 years in reasonable health and be miserable in the last 10 years while he is dying (so his total lifespan is 70 years).

    However, if Smith exercises, then during the 60 years of life he will be very healthy, yet at the end of that period, his decline into ruin will also be especially fast, steep, and stunning.

  2. If Smith exercises, then he will be healthy for 80 years and miserable for 10 years. This answer would have it that exercise extends life but does not diminish either the intensity or the duration of the suffering that accompanies dying.

  3. If Smith exercises, then he will stay in sound body and mind for 90 years. At some point he will go to sleep and never wake up. His heart will just up and stop. If so, then exercise both extends life and eliminates the process of dying. Smith would then be kind of like Moses who "was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated." (Deut 34:7)

These are deeply empirical questions, and I just don't know the answer to them.

But if physical fitness didn't merely prolong life but also made dying easier and quicker (once dying has begun), then it would be a very compelling, if less often stressed, argument for exercise and health consciousness. People routinely provide for times even after their deaths: they make wills, groom successors, fight for lost causes. Why not do something now to abate a future evil as inevitable and ominous as dying?

In addition, if Moses-like lives are possible through fitness, then euthanasia in old age might become a non-issue. If everyone took care of themselves really well during life, then perhaps their transitions could be painless and swift. But I'm speculating.

Don’t Believe Anything the Government Says…

... until it has been officially denied. Thus, the Australia's alphabet soup of regulatory agencies wants to "regulate" the blockchain tech and its applications like Bitcoin. To wit:

"Our approach to developments in the fintech sector is to work to harness opportunities and economic benefits, not stand in the way of innovation and development," ASIC's guidelines state.

Ah, thanks. Now we know. This is obviously a lie. Their "approach" will result in strangling innovation and development, slowly, one absurd "regulation" after another. The vested interests, such as banks, and the state are afraid of Bitcoin and its cousins, but, concerned with what public opinion may engender if they are too open that they want to destroy them completely, attempt simply to regulate them out of existence quietly. When will we learn not to let the fox guard the henhouse?

Similarly, we have a story that "British troops arrive in Estonia to deter Russian aggression." What aggression? There's no aggression; there has not been any aggression since the fall of the USSR; and unless NATO shoots first, there will be none. Well, look at what they deny: "This is a credible deterrence, not to provoke a conflict but to prevent conflict," says NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. I commend this man for telling us a very specific and therefore useful lie. So, again we now know that that's precisely the purpose of this little foray: to provoke Russia and satisfy the pro-war lobby.

Physical Exercise, 2

Another neglected benefit of a habit of exercise is that it naturally normalizes your diet.

Suppose you work out every day. You go to Panera to have lunch and see a delicious-looking muffin. "I'd like that," you think. "But wait a minute," you check yourself. "I just spent 25 minutes lifting heavy things. Do you really expect me," you say to no one in particular, "to negate all that hard work? What was I, masturbating? I am not throwing it all away into a bottomless pit for the sake of a trivial sensual pleasure."

After a calculation like this, it is extremely easy to leave the muffin alone. You escape Panera's trap feeling smart and in control.

Your health and good looks become an investment, an asset, and an object of pride. You want not only to preserve it but grow it, obtain capital gains. And no pathetic muffin can stand against a businessman's cunning and inner drive.

Eugenics, @FEE

There was some weird stuff coming out of FEE, specifically by Jeffrey Tucker, recently on how the old progressives were fans of eugenics. Presumably, the idea was that since eugenics is "bad" (I guess like Hitler or something), the modern progressives should be ashamed of their intellectual forefathers and renounce their doctrines.

But wait a minute, is the minor premise really true? Eugenics broadly conceived is perfectly great. Who in their right mind can be against children who are healthier, stronger, smarter, more gifted, and with greater nurseries of virtue and natural receptivity to divine grace? For example, we spend a vast amount of money on (bad) education. Why not have children who, through their innate potential, will benefit more from education? This is one way to make education more efficient and our money better spent.

With more smarter, both intellectually and emotionally, people out there, economic progress would proceed at a faster pace. Perhaps there would be more libertarians, and even government policy could be changed for the better.

Moreover, if genetic engineering reaches its technological maturity and becomes commercially viable, then eugenics will become the order of the day. I'm sure there'll be snares for us here, too, but probably nothing fundamentally unavoidable. Ultimately, don't we want men to be strong, and women, beautiful?

But perhaps by eugenics Tucker means something more narrow and sinister: government attempts to control or manipulate human reproduction.

Well, by all means let's consider the old eugenicists' ends and see what became of them.

They wanted to stop black people from working and instituted minimum wage laws to that effect. Now under pure laissez-faire, that might indeed have made children less affordable to blacks and so reduced their number. But the leftist progressives in addition erected an outrageous welfare state that not only increased the numbers of blacks beyond what unhampered free market would have allowed, but had a completely dysgenic effect on them. I contend that if laissez-faire had never been abandoned, then the present generation of blacks would be far smarter and meeker than blacks actually now are or ever have been.

They wanted to prevent white women from working to protect the integrity of the family and so passed maximum working hour laws. As we can clearly see, instead the feminist left has driven women into workplace both by ideological preaching and via high taxes and inflation to the detriment of both the number and happiness of children. (Note that 100 years ago the problem had special urgency, though I agree there was no justification for government interventions. Alfred Marshall writes in his Principles: "the degradation of the working-classes varies almost uniformly with the amount of rough work done by women.")

They wanted to facilitate the expansion of the white race. Instead, the leftist celebration of multiculturalism, "diversity," unlimited immigration, and terrible marriage laws that heavily favor women and encourage easy divorce have caused white populations to decline. Their contempt for private property and "discrimination" did even more damage to their own cause.

They wanted to make the race vigorous and gallant. Instead, they squandered millions of society's best in world wars.

They wanted to eliminate the "unfit." The "unfit" have not in fact declined in proportion, nor can they ever, as is clear from the following note by Mises: "It is true that today many people who in the past would have been doomed to life-long disability are restored to full vigor. But on the other hand many whom innate defects, sickness, or accidents would have extinguished sooner in earlier days survive as permanently incapacitated people." (HA, 837). In other words, the cripples are cured; but the dead become lifelong cripples. However, they ended up enabling abortion on demand, such that now perfectly "fit" babies are destroyed whenever the mother finds it inconvenient to carry them to term. They hated the Catholic Church; by teaching that birth control is morally unobjectionable, they have checked the propagation of the genes of holy and God-fearing folks.

It is obvious that the progressive eugenicists have failed utterly to achieve any of their goals; in fact, they seem to have brought about results opposite those they aimed at.

In short, they're complete losers. Moreover, the modern progressives have apparently nothing in common with their predecessors regarding this issue. Their only connection is this: the old progressive eugenicists had certain generally not too objectionable ends. However, the means they chose in pursuit of those ends failed and in fact made things worse from their own point of view. The modern progressives went so far as to forget the eugenic ends themselves but now glorify the non-functioning means (minimum wage, etc.) as crazy and scandalous ends in themselves. So, the left is nuts, but we've known it already.

Chastity, Cont.

Chastity is a special not general virtue. A husband and wife need temperance not chastity. Otherwise, they should have sweet sex and lots of it. Chastity for boys is also overrated and unrealistic to boot; they want to "become men," cannot be stopped, and probably should not be. Of course, parents and society should encourage mastery and self-control in them, too.

In other words, acquiring confidence in dealing with women is a big step for a young man toward inner peace. Then we can with some success urge: You want to be a man? There's much more to it than just that. You have a lot of work ahead of you. Virginity for some men is a divine impulsion; for most others, it's a natural shame.

Chastity is a virtue for unmarried girls and Catholic clergymen.

Physical Exercise

I am not going to lie to you: getting in great shape, unless you are exceptionally genetically gifted, can take a massive amount of commitment and effort. Just cultivating the right habits can take years.

But one notable motivation for exercise is stressed less often: the fear of what nature will do to you if you let yourself go. It's a form of "servile fear," a foundation of all virtue.

This fear is easier for me to feel now that I've hit 40. One can get away with not working out at a younger age without terrible health consequences.

However, if you don't exercise as a young man, then girls will not love you. You should fear that a great deal.