Saturday, February 10, 2018

Let's Take a Look at the Latest World Rankings for Liberty

Last September, Economic Freedom of the World was released, which was sort of like Christmas for wonks who follow international economic policy.

I eagerly combed through that report, which (predictably) had Hong Kong and Singapore as the top two jurisdictions. I was glad to see that the United States climbed to #11.
The good news is that America had dropped as low as #18, so we’ve been improving the past few years.

The bad news is that the U.S. used to be a top-5 country in the 1980s and 1990s.

But let’s set aside America’s economic ranking and deal with a different question. I’m frequently asked why European nations with big welfare states still seem like nice places.
My answer is that they are nice places. Yes, they get terrible scores on fiscal policy, but they tend to be very pro-market in areas like trade, monetary policy, regulation, and rule of law. So they almost always rank in the top-third for economic freedom.
To be sure, many European nations face demographic challenges and that may mean Greek-style crisis at some point. But that’s true of many developing nations as well.

The Humans Freedom Index.
Moreover, there’s more to life than economics. Most European nations also are nice places because they are civilized and tolerant. For instance, check out the newly released Human Freedom Index, which measures both economic liberty and personal liberty. As you can see, Switzerland is ranked #1 and Europe is home to 12 of the top 16 nations.

And when you check out nations at the bottom, you won’t find a single European country.
Instead, you find nations like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Indeed, the lowest-ranked Western European country is Greece, which is ranked #60 and just missed being in the top-third of countries.

Having now engaged in the unusual experience of defending Europe, let’s take a quick look at the score for the United States.
As you can see, America’s #17 ranking is a function of our position for economic freedom (#11) and our position for personal freedom (#24).

For what it’s worth, America’s worst score is for “civil justice,” which basically measures rule of law. It’s embarrassing that we’re weak in that category, but not overly surprising.
Anyhow, here’s how the U.S. score has changed over time.
Let’s close with a few random observations.
Other nations also improved, not just the United States. Among advanced nations, Singapore jumped 16 spots and is now tied for #18. There were also double-digit increases for Suriname (up 14 spots, to #56), Cambodia (up 16 spots, to #58), and Botswana (up 22 spots, to #63). The biggest increase was Swaziland, which jumped 25 spots to #91, though it’s worth pointing out that it’s easier to make big jumps for nations with lower initial rankings.

Now let’s look at nations moving in the wrong direction. Among developed nations, Canada dropped 7 spots to #11. Still a very good score, but a very bad trend. It’s also unfortunate to see Poland drop 10 spots, to #32. Looking at developing nations, Brunei Darussalam plummeted an astounding 52 spots, down to #115, followed by Tajikistan, which fell 46 spots to #118. Brazil is also worth highlighting, since it plunged 23 spots to #120.

P.S. I don’t know if Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia count as European countries or Asian nations, but they all rank in the bottom half. In any event, they’re not Western European nations.

P.P.S. I mentioned last year that Switzerland was the only nation to be in the top 10 for both economic freedom and personal freedom. In the latest rankings, New Zealand also achieves that high honor.
Reprinted from International Liberty.
Daniel J. Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Stupidity of Karl Marx By Henry S. Constable 1896

The Stupidity of Karl Marx By Henry Strickland Constable 1896


SOCIALIST—RADICALISM is founded on Karl Marx’s astonishing fallacy, that all profits should go to manual labourers, inasmuch as all production comes from muscular labour. But this is true only among the lowest savages, who have not brains sufficient even to invent a spade. The wealth and the great things that are done in the world do not come from muscular labour, but from brains to invent, economy to save, prudence to keep what is saved, foresight to see beyond the present moment, patient thought to make complicated and elaborate plans, will to carry out the plans, ambition to become rich, and steady perseverance, self-control, and self-denial enough to sacrifice the present to the future. We may say, perhaps with an approximation to truth, that forty-five per cent of what is produced in the world is produced by exceptional brain power and inventive and organizing genius; forty-five per cent by moral qualities, such as ambition, self-control, and will-force; and ten per cent by muscular labour. Arkwright’s inventive genius, combined with his ambition, will—force, and foresight, produces, perhaps, ninety per cent of the manufactured cotton goods produced in the world. Indeed, mere muscle by itself would not produce any. Patagonians are stated to have much muscle for savages, and a country that will grow cotton; but they produce no cotton goods, and probably never will. Then, can a more stupid statement possibly be made than that of Karl Marx, that all production comes from muscular force?

Saying that all great creations, like cathedrals, palaces, or railroads, are creations of manual or muscle labour, is just what children would say who can see the outside of things with the eyes, but nothing deeper. It is like a man who, seeing a rock from a mountain crush a house to powder, thinks it a wonderful exemplification of force, quite unconscious that it is absolutely nothing as a force compared with the quiet, almost imperceptible, forces of the sun’s warmth and action unceasingly working and bringing out all the glorious life and beauty in the world. A stupid man, like the Radicals I am speaking of, sees a navvy hurl a spadeful of earth that he knows he himself could hardly lift, and concludes, in the emptiness of his head, that this is the force that makes the railway. The real force is the quiet, molecular working that goes on in the brains of men of enterprise, energy, genius, ambition, foresight, self-control, invention, and organizing faculty. Herbert Spencer says that spiritual and intellectual, as well as physical, phenomena might, if men had knowledge to do it, be stated in terms of force somewhat in this way: If Shakespeare’s brain did fifty horse-power of work in composing the soliloquy of Hamlet, Goethe did twenty-two horse-power of work in composing Mignon’s song in “Wilhelm Meister.” Whatever truth there may be in this, it is manifest that men cannot measure and weigh these forces. Still, we know that some ninety per cent or more of the forces that built York Minster were spiritual forces—that is, intellect-force plus moral-force, plus religious-force.

Capital, says the Socialist, is that which muscular labour produces; but there is no capital till the gains are saved, and this requires brain-power, moral and intellectual—that is, brain-force to make, and brain-force to keep when made. “It is more difficult,” said a wise man, “to keep what is acquired than to acquire it"—meaning that it requires qualities such as self-control, of which the mass of mankind have but very little; so, “when they get on horseback, they ride to the devil.” “Greater virtues,” says Rochefoucauld, “are needed to bear good fortune than bad.”

The fact is, great self~control, great intelligence, great energy, great ambition, great foresight, and great enterprise (this rare combination of faculties) form a gigantic force, which does all the great things that are done in the world. Muscle by itself can do hardly anything. It cannot even create a spade—that first step in civilization and in equality—still less a plough, which may be called the second step. And yet muscle is, of course, wanted. In fact, all classes are necessary. It is like the organs of the body; take away any one of them, and the organism dies.

The shallowness of Radicalism is unfathomable. Wealth is unceasingly breeding wealth. Destroy the wealth, and this reproduction ceases. Radicalism seems to look on the riches of a country as a certain fixed sum in the hands of a few people, and that, if these riches were taken from them and divided among the masses, the millennium would commence, and happiness be universal. Of course, the real effect would be to bring about among the poor universal indigence, famine, and misery unspeakable, inasmuch as the breeding of wealth, that ought to be unceasing, would come to an end. As I have said, the working classes get, directly or indirectly, every penny of the incomes of the rich, which incomes are renewed and increased year by year by means of the brains, energy, and self-control of the owners of the capital. Turn over the riches to the poor, and all would be lost, inasmuch as the poor (exceptions apart) are poor because they are hereditarily, from the times of savagery, deficient in the qualities necessary for making, keeping, renewing, and increasing wealth; though they may have other virtues, such as generous and affectionate instincts, to any amount. Everything in the world depends upon character—on mental, and still more on moral, qualities.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

As a Video Editor, This Jordan Peterson Interview Reel Appalled Me

Last week, the British news station Channel 4’s Cathy Newman conducted an interview with Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson.
In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf conducted a careful dissection of the aggressive interview.
He writes “It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication. First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.”
This interview style is very common on cable news shows and social media. It is debate driven. The danger of it, as Friedersdorf warns, is that it can lead viewers astray.
But in the interview, Newman relies on this technique to a remarkable extent, making it a useful illustration of a much broader pernicious trend. Peterson was not evasive or unwilling to be clear about his meaning. And Newman’s exaggerated restatements of his views mostly led viewers astray, not closer to the truth.”
Yet, Channel 4’s misleading restatements of Peterson’s views do not stop with Newman’s style of questioning. Through their Facebook, Channel 4 published a highlight reel of the Peterson interview.
As a video editor, I was astounded at the lengths a major news outlet would go to edit out an interviewee’s views. At several points, the editor omits key context-providing statements made by Peterson. As a result, the remarks included are easy to misinterpret and Peterson’s views appear far more objectionable than they really are.

Using the full Channel 4 interview, FEE has made a highlight reel that includes key soundbites of Peterson’s perspective on the gender wage gap, equality, and professional success.  Each clip is separated by a visual transition. We use no trick editing.

The differences between Channel 4’s reel and the FEE’s reel is startling. It seems to suggest that their interest isn’t to represent Peterson’s beliefs, but rather to obscure them. I myself don’t agree with all of Peterson’s views. And Channel 4 certainly has the right to oppose them. But that doesn’t make it right to mischaracterize them.

The skills of a video editor should be wielded for the cause of understanding, not the deliberate promotion of misunderstanding.
Jaye Sarah Davidson
Jaye Sarah Davidson
Jaye Sarah Davidson is a graduate from Florida State University's Film School. She has made short films that have played all over the United States. She has worked as a producer and editor for commercials, music videos, and nonprofits. She is very excited to be a part of the Liberty movement.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Johannes Gutenberg's Information Revolution

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Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of printing with moveable metal type, is a true benefactor of humankind. His innovative application of printing technologies was not only a showcase example of market anarchism, but a greater source of benefit to mankind than state-sponsored technologies can ever hope to be. His is a story not only of innovation, but of immigration, opposition to politically connected interests, and freedom of information.

Remember the Millennium?
Nearly ten years ago – in time for the millennium celebrations – Johann Gutenberg (ca. 1400-1468) was singled out as the greatest inventor of the past 1,000 years by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Life rated his printing of the Bible as the top event of that time period. In addition, the Exlibris news and discussion group (University of California at Berkeley) dubbed him Man of the Millennium.

He did not invent either book printing or moveable type. But his improvements on existing technology changed everything. 

There were good reasons to celebrate Gutenberg's innovation – not to mention subsequent related breakthroughs such as (1) offset printing, which transferred images from page-size plates onto paper beginning in 1904, (2) digital printing, which developed in the 1980s, and (3) web-page publication, which developed in the 1990s and was the result of a decision (in 1988) to end the 30-year stranglehold of the U.S. government on Internet development.

And while some may argue that the origins of the Internet lie in the government-sponsored ARPANET, the ARPANET is yet another example of state-sponsored Frankenstein technology – a relative dead end that did not yield significant benefits until it was released from its state-enforced dungeon to become transformed by the private sector into the World Wide Web.

In a sense, the Web has multiplied the potential of Gutenberg's original invention: first, Gutenberg made possible the publishing industry, in which scarce resources are concentrated to fund the dissemination of information from relatively few replication centers; the Web and the app economy take it further, making it possible for everyone to become a publishing center.

Fact and Fiction: The Discovery of Printing
Let's look at what Gutenberg did and didn't do. He did not invent either book printing or moveable type. In The Gutenberg Bible, James Thorpe, former director of the Huntington Library, points out that the earliest known wood-block printing of a book took place in 9th century China with the 16-foot-long roll of the Diamond Sutra. To produce it, entire pages were carved into flat wooden blocks that were inked and pressed onto paper rolls.

Furthermore, as early as the 11th century, printers in China (and Korea) were experimenting with pieces of moveable type made of baked clay. That invention, however, did not endure in East Asia because too many distinctive pieces of 'type' (the baked-clay letters) had to be created to print a book. In contrast to the 26-letter English alphabet, for example, the Chinese language uses approximately 40,000 ideographs – far too many (at the time) to offer any labor-saving advantages through printing.

Copying Books by Hand
In Europe until the time of Gutenberg, books were copied by hand, usually on some type of parchment (the skin of an adult sheep, goat, or cow) or on vellum (skin from a newborn calf). During the early Middle Ages, most of this copying took place at monasteries in a scriptorium, but by the 13th century, busy manuscript-copying establishments were located in major cities – usually near the early universities where books were in demand. Wherever manuscript copies were made, however, they contained errors.

The quill pens used by copyists – usually made of goose feathers – required frequent refills from ink pots, and the tedium of copying led to errors consisting of repeated or omitted portions of text. Even the introduction of wood-block printing in Europe during the late 14th and early 15th Centuries (usually for illustrations) offered few advantages. For example, wood-block carvings were laborious to create and could be ruined with a single false stroke of the carver's knife. They also wore out quickly and could not produce clear imprints for very long.

And while it is true that manuscript copyists used abbreviations to save time, new books still required about a year to produce. Not surprisingly, they were very expensive. As a result, the literacy rate was low – only 30% in some English towns during the 15th century.

The Printing Press in Action
The idea of printing with reusable pieces of durable, moveable type held definite advantages for Europeans. Since the Latin alphabet had only 23 basic letters, only a limited range of metal pieces of type had to be cast and replicated. Once created, these pieces of type could be arranged into orderly rows and pages of text on a printing forme. The letters were inked up, and damp paper or parchment was lowered onto them to receive the ink impression.

The result was hundreds of nearly identical copies of books. Once a set of pages were printed, the pieces of type could be reassembled again and again to print other pages and books until they finally wore out after many uses. All things considered, printing with re-usable, metal type yielded savings in labor and cost, greater accuracy and consistency in the final product, and a remarkable increase in the volume of books available.

A Market-Driven Process
The invention of printing, however, did not occur in a vacuum. Like any other product, it was subject to market conditions to which Gutenberg responded in an entrepreneurial way. We already have seen how the Western alphabet – with its limited set of letters – played a supporting role in the success of European printing.

To this, we can add the availability of paper in 15th century Europe – a cost-effective substitute for parchment and vellum. According to Warren Chappell and Robert Bringhurst (A Short History of the Printed Word), the process of making paper from plant fibers was discovered in China in the 2nd century. It spread to the Middle East in the 8th century (where it was improved), and the Moors brought it to Spain (11th century). By the late 13th century, a paper mill that used linen and rag fibers was operating in the Italian town of Fabriano . From there, it spread rapidly through Europe – just in time for Gutenberg's invention.

Gutenberg was responsible for the print process itself, and his story has been outlined by Christopher de Hamel in The Book: A History of the Bible. As a stepping stone to the invention of printing, however, Gutenberg may have developed a mechanical-stamping process in the late 1430s. Details of his metal-stamping process, however, are unclear, and what little we know is based on the much-debated record of a lawsuit that was filed after the death of one of his business partners.
The scale of the Gutenberg Bible project was astonishing for its time.

Nonetheless, it appears that while living in Strassburg, Gutenberg and his partners intended to mass-produce small, inexpensive convex mirrors by using Gutenberg's metal-stamping process. They planned to sell the mirrors to pilgrims visiting the holy relics in the city of Aachen. The relics were displayed every seven years, and pilgrims would pin the expensive mirrors to their hats, or they would hold them up as they viewed the holy objects. The mirrors would reflect – and thus capture – some of the spiritual presence of the relics.

Unfortunately, Gutenberg and his partners miscalculated the date of the pilgrimage (or perhaps it was changed); the pilgrimage took place in 1440 instead of 1439. This delay and the partner's death led to the failure of the enterprise. Nonetheless, this business venture may have contributed to Gutenberg's later innovations when he moved to the city of Mainz in 1448. Note, however, that this was an entirely private endeavor. No risk was forced upon taxpayers.

Gutenberg's Test Projects
In Mainz, where Gutenberg eventually established his printing operation, a legal document once again provides the few reliable details that have been passed down to us. The document (called the 'Helmasperger Instrument' after the notary who signed it on November 6, 1455) describes the attempted recovery of two loans taken out by Gutenberg in 1450 and 1452. It also mentions Gutenberg's project as 'the work of the books,' and it is described in Johann Gutenberg and His Bible, by Janet Ing.

Despite a settlement that obligated Gutenberg to repay with interest any money not used on the project, the settlement may have favored Gutenberg – despite a legend that he was bankrupted as a result. Furthermore, it is possible that Gutenberg continued to print books in Mainz during the 1450s even though his moneylender (Johann Fust) and his assistant (Peter Sch'ffer) became partners in their own printing business there.

In 1454, the year before he printed his Bible, Gutenberg completed a few smaller projects, and they testify to his entrepreneurial spirit. They included a pamphlet warning of the danger posed by the Turks, who had just captured the ancient capital of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. In addition, there were four printings of indulgences, which were sold to raise funds for a war against the Turks. He also printed a New Year's greeting in German and a small Latin grammar. These small projects indicate a businessman who was 'ramping up' his operation for a bigger undertaking, such as the printing of the Bible. Once again, Gutenberg's projects were entirely for profit.

Marketing the Bible
Gutenberg clearly perceived the anti-Turk hysteria as a boon to his sales effort – a kind of rally-round-the-Bible marketing opportunity.

In the case of the Bible, Gutenberg was targeting a specific group of customers: religious institutions such as monasteries. They were his best potential customers because they needed large Bibles for public readings. Only a limited number of wealthy individuals could afford the other copies. Providing a glimpse into Gutenberg's sales effort, we have a letter written by Aeneas Silvius, who subsequently became Pope Pius II in 1458. He personally witnessed Gutenberg displaying several sections of his not-yet-completed Bible in October 1454 at a conference of nobles in Frankfurt. The purpose of the conference was to rally public support for war against the Turks.

Gutenberg clearly perceived the anti-Turk hysteria as a boon to his sales effort – a kind of rally-round-the-Bible marketing opportunity that exploited Christian fears of Turks and their faith – Islam. From the letter of Aeneas Silvius, we also learned that Gutenberg had pre-sold every copy of his Bible before its completion.

Furthermore, there is undisputed evidence that Gutenberg had to increase the size of his print-run by about 33% to meet the high demand. This required him to re-set (with type) and re-print additional pages of some early sections of his Bible and purchase additional paper and parchment. The re-printed sections of his Bible contain subtle differences that can be seen today in the surviving copies.

Short-Term Benefits of Printing
The scale of the Gutenberg Bible project was astonishing for its time. Each printed Bible consists of two volumes totaling 1,286 pages and measuring 11-' by 16 inches. They are set in two columns of large, Gothic, black-letter type with 40 to 42 lines per page, and they can be read at a distance of three feet. Approximately 160 to 180 copies were printed – 75% on paper and the rest on parchment. Paper copies weigh 30 pounds each, and parchment copies weigh 50 pounds – each requiring the skins of about 160 animals (over 6,000 skins for all of the copies).

Although the Latin alphabet has only 23 letters, a complete set of metal upper- and lowercase type used to create the Bible – including abbreviations, diphthongs, and punctuation marks – consisted of 290 characters. Four to six employees were busy setting type, and the print office held 200,000 printed pages stacked up for binding at the conclusion of the project.

Today, only 48 copies survive – 36 on paper, 12 on parchment. Only two parchment and four paper copies are in the U.S. , and prices have risen dramatically. A copy sold for $2,600 in 1847 and $50,000 in 1911. In 1978, the going price was $2.2 million, and in 1987, one volume (1/2 of a set) sold for $5.4 million at Christie's. Nobody knows what Bill Gates paid for the complete copy he purchased in 1994, but some say it was nearly $31 million. A single leaf can easily fetch more than $60,000. Contrast this with NASA. Who wouldn't happily pay to shut it down – along with its succession of orbiting money-pits that disintegrate and rain down debris from the sky?

The influence of Gutenberg's Latin Bible was tremendous, and by the end of the 15th century, 80 more Bible editions were printed in Europe – all but two of them based directly on Gutenberg's text (which was itself based on a 13th-century version of Jerome's late-4th-century Vulgate translation).
Even more important were the spread of printing beyond its birthplace in the city of Mainz and the consequences of that proliferation. By 1470, there were printers in 14 European cities, and by 1480 they were located in more than 100. By the end of the year 1500, over 1,100 print shops were doing business in more than 200 European towns, and they had printed over 10 million books. We refer to these early printed books (through the year 1500) as incunabula, from the Latin word for swaddling clothes or cradle, because they represent the infancy of printing.

Long-Term Benefits of Printing
In the case of 15th century printing, calligraphers and illuminators levied political pressure to restrict its spread.

The creation of large numbers of books was not the only spin-off benefit of Gutenberg's invention. The abundance of books was reflected in the growing size and number of libraries as well. Before the advent of printing, libraries existed only in a few centers of learning and were very small. In England, for example, the largest libraries were located at Canterbury and Bury – each holding about 2,000 books.

Cambridge University Library held only 300 titles at the time, but today it holds over 5.5 million books and more than 1.2 million periodicals. With the widespread availability of books, the literacy rate increased. From a 15th-century rate of 30% in some English locations, it rose to between 30 and 40% in the 16th and 17th centuries, 60% in the 18th century, and 90% in the 20th and 21st centuries (although today's government schools are doing their best to curtail independent thought and churn out slogan-spouting automatons instead).

While the literacy rate rose, there also was a shift from oral learning to learning through reading – which made self-education even more widespread. There also was greater access to ideas and an increase in knowledge on the part of literate men and women. This helped to unleash an era of innovation and invention that continues today.

Some people even credit the success of the Protestant revolt to the printing press. If we consider the World Wide Web to be an outgrowth of the printing process, the number of 'publishing' centers continues to grow. For example, a Netcraft survey compiled in June 2006 identified 85,541,228 sites.
Immigration: China to Islam to Westminster

For those who suffer from the current xenophobic infatuation with impermeable borders and immigration restrictions, the story of printing offers a powerful and much-needed antidote.

We already have seen how the art of paper-making had its roots in East Asia and spread to the civilization of Islam before arriving in Europe. The free movement of people across borders – immigration – enabled the rapid spread of the new technology, and the story of William Caxton (ca. 1422-1492) illustrates perfectly the spread of printing and ideas from one country to another. Caxton is famous because he printed the first book in the English language and introduced the printing press to England 

Nonetheless, he spent much of his life abroad. By the year 1446, he was living in Bruges (Belgium). There he printed the first book in English in about 1473/1474 – the Recuyell (compilation) of the Historyes of Troye, which was his own translation of a French courtly romance. He completed this translation while living in Koln (Germany), and he probably learned the art of printing from Ulrich Zell, a priest from Mainz (Germany).

He moved back to England in 1475 or early 1476, and he set up a print shop near Westminster Abbey. There he published the first books printed on English soil. Among these were Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1476) and the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (1477). The latter was based on a work that originally was written in Egypt by Mubashshir ibn F'tik in the 11thcentury. The original was translated from Arabic into Spanish, then Latin, and finally French before being translated into English. For those who suffer from the current xenophobic infatuation with impermeable borders and immigration restrictions, the story of printing offers a powerful and much-needed antidote.

Special Interests Oppose Innovation
With its many benefits, one would think that the invention of moveable-type printing was universally hailed, but vested interests can be counted on to oppose changes that threaten them. Just ask aerospace engineers how they would feel if competitors such as Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne eliminated their NASA gravy train. In the case of 15th century printing, calligraphers and illuminators levied political pressure to restrict its spread. Resistance was strongest in the city of Florence , where (according to Chappell and Bringhurst) calligraphers and their customers were 'contemptuous of what they considered the vulgar and mechanical imitations of good manuscripts.'

Oddly enough, the establishment of printing by the end of the 15th century did not spell doom for calligraphers. As more people learned to read, more learned to write. Consequently, the art of calligraphy continued to thrive. The 16th century was distinguished by many of the most beautiful manuscripts, and it also was the age of the great handwriting manuals.

Printing'or Imitation Handwriting?
Gutenberg's connection with his Bible was only recovered many years later and after much research and controversy.

To understand the early opposition of calligraphers, we must remember that Gutenberg and other early printers did not conceive of printing as a way to produce a new kind of product. They viewed their technology as a way to produce handwriting. Consequently, calligraphers viewed printing as a direct competitor. Perhaps the greatest authority on early printing, Konrad Haebler (author of The Study of Incunabula as well as The German Incunabula and The Italian Incunabula), wrote extensively about the goals and practices of early printers. He explained that early printers – to comply with the aesthetic demands of their customers – were compelled to use confusing (to us) abbreviations in their printed products even though they were rendered entirely unnecessary by the new technology.

It is easy to understand why scribes made use of these labor-saving shortcuts: it reduced the amount of writing they had to do. But the printing press made it possible – and easy – to spell out every letter of every word without additional effort. In fact, the creation of unique pieces of type to imitate abbreviations (and diphthongs) was an additional burden and expense.

As Haebler explained, however, any attempt to break this rule resulted in products that could not be sold because they did not comply with the exacting standards of customers. Book buyers expected to see abbreviations, and printers gave them what they wanted. It was only in later years that they could depart from this imitation of manuscript models and take full advantage of the new technology. In a similar way, modern architects only gradually understood the new design possibilities made available by building materials such as steel and glass curtain-wall. The result is the sleek, geometric, glass-sheathed structures of today's skyline.

The Customer Is Always Right
Haebler described other characteristics of manuscripts that also were preserved by early printers. For example, the beginning of new chapters and other important sections of a book included oversized initial capital letters that were several lines high and projected into the body of the text and into the margins as well. Early printers – including Gutenberg – left large blank spaces in their columns of neat text so that calligraphers and illustrators could fill them in with large capital letters and decorations by hand. To this day, many incunabula contain all of their original blank spaces because rubricators were never hired to decorate them.

In a similar attempt to replicate the standards of hand-written text, books on medicine, law, and theology were printed using Gothic type almost exclusively. Otherwise, they could not be sold. Furthermore, when the art of printing spread from the German-speaking world to Italy in 1465 (with the arrival at Subiaco of German printers Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz), Roman letters – the ancestor of our Times Roman font – were used for the first time instead of Gothic letters.
Roman type became the necessary standard – in Italy – for all printed works of philosophy, literature, science, art, and authors from classical antiquity. It suited the aesthetic tastes of the learned men of Italy, who had imbibed a humanistic Renaissance education and had an appreciation for ancient Roman inscriptions. Again, the customer always came first.

Below is an example of what is now considered the perfected form of Roman type, printed in 1478 by Nicolaus Jenson in Venice (from Plutarch's Lives, or Vitae illustrium virorum).
Below is an example of Gothic type, printed in 1480 also by Nicolaus Jenson in Venice (from Antoninus Florentinus, Summa theologica, part IV).
In contrast to the sensitivity of these early printers to the preferences of their customers, the 'products' and 'services' of government agencies are usually provided in abysmal fashion or are forced upon the public under threat of a penalty. Next time you are compelled to 'contribute' to any state bureaucracy, remember the early printers and ruminate on what has been lost.

Epitaph for a Genuine Benefactor
It is not surprising that Gutenberg's name faded from memory shortly after his invention. His Bible is not dated, and it does not mention him by name. In fact, Gutenberg's connection with his Bible was only recovered many years later and after much research and controversy.

Nonetheless, a rector of the University of Paris, Professor Guillaume Fichet, wrote an early testimony to Gutenberg on December 31, 1470, just a few years after Gutenberg's death. Can anyone say anything remotely similar about NASA and its pseudo-accomplishments?
'Not far from the city of Mainz, there appeared a certain Johann whose surname was Gutenberg, who, first of all men, devised the art of printing, whereby books are made, not by a reed, as did the ancients, nor with a quill pen, as do we, but with metal letters, and that swiftly, neatly, beautifully. Surely this man is worthy to be loaded with divine honors by all the Muses, all the arts, all the tongues of those who delight in books, and is all the more to be preferred to gods and goddesses in that he has put the means of choice within reach'of mortals devoted to culture. That great Gutenberg has discovered things far more pleasing and more divine, in carving out letters in such a fashion that whatever can be said or thought can by them be written down at once and transcribed and committed to the memory of posterity.'
This essay originally appeared on Strike the Root
Lawrence  M.  Ludlow
Lawrence M. Ludlow
Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

California Has the Highest Poverty Rate in America. Why?

Can you guess which state has the highest poverty rate in the U.S.?

Many people would say Mississippi. That’s how I would have responded if you had asked me this morning, and I would have been right in a sense.

There are two different ways to measure poverty, you see. One accounts for cost-of-living in different states; one does not. The method that accounts for living costs (the Supplemental Poverty Measure) is more accurate, and it was introduced in 2011 by the U.S. Census.

According to this measurement, the poverty capital of America is not Mississippi. It’s California, PolitFact says.

It was a point recently raised by California Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayer at a legislative forum in Sacramento.

If you use the supplemental poverty measure, California is in the lead. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation.

"If you look at the official poverty measure in California, we’re about average with the rest of the country," Mayes said. "But if you use the supplemental poverty measure, we are in the lead. We have the highest poverty rate in the nation -- higher than New Mexico, higher than any of the Southern states, Louisiana, Alabama, higher than Idaho."

Percentage of Poverty in Each State.
Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute offers a chart that breaks down how each state ranks. Take a look:

How is this possible? The Golden State’s economic growth has been robust in recent years, data show.  
“California is the chief reason America is the only developed economy to achieve record GDP growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing global recession,” Bloomberg reported last year. “The capitalist juggernaut that is California helps explain why the state's per capita income increased 9.5 percent since 2015, the most of any state and the most since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”
Nor does California’s notoriety as the nation’s most impoverished state stem from a lack of programs designed to alleviate poverty. Kerry Jackson explains in the Los Angeles Times:
“Sacramento and local governments have spent massive amounts in the cause. Several state and municipal benefit programs overlap with one another; in some cases, individuals with incomes 200% above the poverty line receive benefits. California state and local governments spent nearly $958 billion from 1992 through 2015 on public welfare programs, including cash-assistance payments, vendor payments and “other public welfare,” according to the Census Bureau. California, with 12% of the American population, is home today to about one in three of the nation’s welfare recipients.”
So how is it that California, which has spent nearly $1 trillion on antipoverty programs, has the highest poverty rate in the nation?

Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, suggests that the state’s war on poverty is one of the causes of California’s impoverished state, and why it is home to about one-third of the nation’s welfare population despite having just 12 percent of the population.

It turns out that state and local bureaucrats who administer California’s antipoverty programs have proven stubbornly resistant to pro-work reforms that have been effective at spurring individuals to pull themselves out of poverty. It’s a phenomenon familiar to those who have read the scholarship of economist Robert Niskanen, whose model of bureaucratic behavior suggested that bureaucrats tend to “maximize their own utility” rather than the interests of their constituents.

This, along with other progressive policies that drive up housing and energy costs, along with a high minimum wage that reduces employment opportunities for low-skilled workers, is the source of California’s poverty problem, Jackson contends.   
Is Jackson correct? I’m not sure, but his theory sounds more than a bit plausible. It’s a problem Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman warned about more than four decades ago.
“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results,” Friedman told Richard Heffner in a televised interview in 1975 interview.
Reprinted from Intellectual Takeout.
Jon Miltimore
Jon Miltimore
Jonathan Miltimore is a senior editor at Intellectual Takeout.
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Monday, January 8, 2018

Hayek on the Socialist Roots of Nazism

F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is one of the more compelling and accessible books in the Austrian economic tradition. The bulk of the book makes the argument that central planning and interventionism inevitably lead to authoritarianism in the plain language that influenced the sale of over 350,000 copies.

Towards the end of the book, he deals with the undeniable authoritarians of his time and casts the national-socialist movement as one built on disgust with liberalism. Born in Vienna and educated at the University of Vienna, he draws on an intimate education in the German socialist tradition to illustrate its origins as fundamentally reactionary to laissez-faire, specifically to its mercantile British proponents. He includes in this lineage the Nazi Party, who were in power at the time he wrote the book.
The doctrines which had guided the ruling elements in Germany for the past generation were not opposed to the socialism in Marxism, but to the liberal elements contained in it, its internationalism and its democracy.
His first case study is Werner Sombart, who Friedrich Engels called the “first German university professor, to see in Marx’s writings, what Marx actually said.” Having done his dissertation on Marx, Sombart championed and built on the Marxist program until 1909.
He had done as much as any man to spread socialist ideas and anti-capitalist resentment of varying shades throughout Germany; and if German thought became penetrated with Marxian elements in a way that was true of no other country till the Russian revolution, this was in a large measure due to Sombart.
Sombart, like many Germans in the early 20th century, was compelled by a case for war between the British and Germany on the grounds that the British had lost any warlike instinct in the pursuit of individual happiness, which he saw as a disease contracted from a society built on commercialism. Laissez-faire was an unnatural anarchic order giving rise to parasites and dishonest merchants, while the German concept of the state was derived from a heroic natural aristocracy that would never fall to such depths.

The German state is the Volksgemeinschaft, or “Peoples Community,” where the individual has no rights, only duties. Hayek gives credit for the formation of this line of thinking to Johan Fichte, Ferdinand Lasalle, and Johann Karl Rodbertus, among other notable German socialists.
War is to Sombart the consummation of the heroic view of life, and the war against England is the war against the opposite ideal, the commercial ideal of individual freedom and of English comfort, which in his eyes finds its most contemptible expression in – the safety-razors found in the English trenches.
He continues by studying another Marxist, Sociologist Johann Plenge, and his book detailing the conflict between the “Ideas of 1789” and the “Ideas of 1914.”  In Plenge’s book, 1789 and 1914: The Symbolic Years in the History of the Political Mind, 1789’s ideal was freedom, and the modern ideas of 1914 support the ideal of organization. Plenge asserts, correctly according to Hayek, that organization is the true essence of socialism. Hayek asserts that all socialists until Marx shared this understanding and that Marx tried in vain to make a place for freedom in this modern German idea of grand organization.

Starting with the same liberal language as Marx, Plenge gradually abandoned usage of bourgeois liberal terms and moved into the shamelessly totalitarian realm that attracted so many Marxist leaders:
It is high time to recognise the fact that socialism must be power policy, because it is to be organisation. Socialism has to win power: it must never blindly destroy power.
Hayek then shows Social Democratic Party politician Paul Lensch apply a Marxist analysis to Otto Von Bismarck’s protectionism and planning in favor of certain industries:
The result of Bismarck’s decision of the year 1879 was that Germany took on the role of the revolutionary; that is to say, of a state whose position in relation to the rest of the world is that of a representative of a higher and more advanced economic system. Having realised this, we should perceive that in the present World Revolution Germany represents the revolutionary, and her greatest antagonist, England, the counter-revolutionary side.
This unity of the Prussian national identity and the revolutionary socialist project informs the thinking of figures important in the Nazi Party, like A. Moeller van den Bruck. Hayek quotes and paraphrases him from his Prussianism and Socialism:
“Old Prussian spirit and socialist conviction, which to-day hate each other with the hatred of brothers, are one and the same.” The representatives of Western civilisation in Germany, the German liberals, are “the invisible English army which after the battle of Jena, Napoleon left behind on German soil”
Hayek gives more support for this version of events before offering a warning to England, that the “conservative socialism” en vogue at the time was a German export, which for reasons he details throughout the book will inevitably become totalitarian. Interestingly enough this was written before the great crimes of the Holocaust were public knowledge and the Nazi regime had become as universally reviled as it soon was.

This was not a sensationalist attempt to prove his point. Hayek was rather calmly pointing out an example of the type of government one could expect in a society that has discarded liberalism for planning. The more extreme warnings Hayek gives in The Road to Serfdom just happened to be true in the case of 1940’s Germany.
Reprinted from the author's blog
Byron  Chiado
Byron Chiado
Byron is a musician and writer with a diverse work history. He approaches sales, marketing strategies and logistics from unconventional angles.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Socialism is Hostile to Christianity By Percy Stickney Grant 1910

Socialism is Hostile to Christianity By Percy Stickney Grant 1910

The following quotations appeared in a recent letter to the "New York Times." I have not verified them, but I use them because they illustrate the feeling of masses of uneducated socialists I have listened to and represent the older but prevailing attitude.

Marx said: "Religion is a fantastic degradation of human nature."

Liebknecht, the grand old man of socialism, said: "Socialism must conquer the stupidity of the masses in so far as this stupidity reveals itself in religious forms and dogmas."

And Bebel, the present great world leader of socialism, says: "We wish in politics the republic, in economy socialism, and in religion atheism."

Socialism inherited atheism from Marx and Lassalle. These pioneers did not derive it from their economic position, but from Feuerbach and his Hegelianism. Their followers, however, have accepted their philosophical as well as their economic views. The practical effect of socialistic atheism is to deny immortality, to concentrate attention upon this life and to intensify confidence in material well-being. In our Sunday-night meetings, after an eloquent individualist had held forth about the soul, a socialist would stand up and say: "I know nothing about the soul. Where is it? I only know that I have a stomach and that it is empty."

Socialism denies to religion any economic influences. The Pope, for instance, has nothing to fear, theoretically, from socialists who will not for a moment admit that Catholicism has retarded the development of any country in Europe; not because they have studied the facts, but because they claim, as a general principle, that history is interpreted economically, that moral and religious forces have had nothing to do with the growth or decline of states. 

Behind this denial of influence to religion is the denial of important constructive power to ideas. Socialism has not wished to work by means of the slow influence of ideas, but by means of various compulsions—military, legislative, etc., the prize of proletarian power. Nevertheless, their propaganda is an appeal to reason and conscience.

Socialism asserts that morality is the offspring of society. The good individual is the product of a good society; a good society is not the product of good individuals. Moreover, that moral codes are the handiwork of the dominant class, which codifies and gives authority to what will preserve its order.

Socialism maintains that the church is hypocritical, because it received the command, "Love your neighbor as yourself," but supports, nevertheless, an industrial system under which it is impossible to love your neighbor as yourself; whose maxim, in fact, is the old pagan caveat emptor— let the buyer take heed.

Socialism considers the doctrine of the forgiveness of sin to be the source of much industrial and private injustice, because it frees the wrong-doer from the sense of responsibility. Until the priestly power of absolution is destroyed, tyranny will flourish. Socialism calls pietism and passivity (two traits of Christianity) injurious to civilization, because progress has been attained not by meekness, but by struggle. Socialism hates the religious way of dealing with poverty—that is, by charity and philanthropy—because these are remedial and based upon a voluntary spirit. Socialism would legislate poverty out of existence and would have what are now sporadic acts of kindness made compulsory usages. In short, socialism considers religion a rubbish-heap of arbitrary laws and gross superstitions used as a prop to social injustice.

These attitudes of unfriendliness to religion are scientifically mistaken or are ethically weak. Socialism regards religion in an old-fashioned way as an artifice of priests and powerful castes, and not in the new-fashioned way as a biological product—created and perpetuated because it is of use, changing and reshaping itself in response to criticism and increased knowledge.

It was a mistake for socialism to take on atheism, which has no logical connection with its economic position, simply because Marx and Lassalle were atheists. Socialists declaim against mixing up religion with economics. Why, then, mix up irreligion with economics?