We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

It seems natural that people competing for scarce taxpayer dollars would argue about why their area is more deserving and others less so. But we don’t see that. School superintendents don’t complain about business subsidies, mayors don’t criticize the cash paid to state universities, and Medicaid advocates don’t denounce state-paid agriculture marketing. The people who receive government money in one area simply don’t complain about other areas of government spending.

This is why tax-hike coalitions get so many partners.

That’s because there is a Trough Truce: The people feeding at the trough of public dollars implicitly agree to never criticize when other spending interests receive money. Instead, they advocate for more tax dollars. There’s an unwritten agreement for the community of interests paid by public dollars to keep the peace among themselves and use each other to advocate for more resources for all trough-feeders.

James Hohman

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Partly it is indeed a tacit conspiracy against the taxpayers – I agree with the quotation on that.

    But it is an ideological assumption of nobility of government spending – it really is.

    It was brought home to me last year by the increase in the South Dakota Sales Tax – specifically to increase government teacher wages.

    This was, perhaps, the most conservative State in the Union (in terms of limiting government spending) throwing more money at the teachers – whose objective is to brainwash children into being leftists.

    The “common schools” – what even the British Labour government called “bog standard comprehensives” a vast failed experiment (unless the objective of creating them was to spread ignorance – and to undermine ethics), and here were conservative Republicans increasing taxes to throw money at teachers who DESPISED them and wished to DESTROY these conservative Republicans – and who spend their time doing their “best” to make children despise Republicans and want to destroy Republicans.

    And the Republicans were doing all this due to an ideological assumption that more money for government teachers must (by definition) be noble. They had accepted the moral philosophy of their enemies – of the people who wanted to educate their own children to hate them and to destroy them.

    It is difficult not to completely despair. What Perry calls the “metacontext” is in such a state that the end result can only be the decline and fall of the West.

  • Fred Z

    Rope. Tar. Feathers.

    I understand du Toit is back at it.

  • By the same OP logic, criminals would always rat each other out to remove competitors, but they often do not. They sometimes do – and would-be tax-farmers sometimes quarrel, but more often they claim that too much is spent on the army, the police and suchlike really old-fashioned and out-of-fashion state activities, instead of on them, individually and collectively.

    Paul Marks (March 25, 2017 at 8:11 pm): “It is difficult not to completely despair.”

    Not specially, just now. I’m very confident that Article 50 will be announced three days hence, and fairly confident Neil Gorsuch will be a supreme court judge not long after. Such events should provide a ray of light even in the darkest view. Things could be a lot better, but they could also be a lot worse. Just think of losing the referendum less than a year ago and spending the last few months seeing the media filled with flattery of Hillary; that’ll cheer you up.

    BTW Paul, it is not difficult not to completely split an infinitive – or should I see that solecism as wittily symbolising the degeneration of our culture? 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – my grammar is awful (and my typing is worse – I often leave out words that I am thinking).

    However, I do know that English is not Latin – the rule about not splitting infinitives is just an attempt to imitate Latin. In English it is not a problem to say “to boldly go” rather than “to go boldly” – even though it is wrong (indeed impossible) to say the former in Latin.

    The degeneration of our culture has little to do with spelling and grammar – after all in my beloved 18th century most writers had very erratic spelling and grammar (only a few people yet had the obsession with such things that was so common in the Victorian Age). For example am more interested in the fact that the thought (the soul) of J.S. Mill is wrong – rather than the fact that his language is beautiful. I do not even think in words anyway – I think in terms of concepts and images which I then try to translate into words (that some philosophers say it is impossible to think other than in words shows how little they know).

    As for Victorian writing (not all Victorian writing – I am thinking of legal, political and philosophical writing) – my view of it is much the same as my view of Victorian underwear for women, it may be pretty but I would not advice its use. It is too often a mist of words which one has to try and translate to find out what the person is actually thinking – what the opinion actually is. The words obscure, rather than illuminate, the concepts.

    I would recommend Harold Prichard’s essay on T.H. Green (the classic late Victorian “liberal” philosopher) Principles of Political Obligation (to be found in Prichard’s “Moral Obligation”) – Prichard (a man born, in I think, 1871 so a Victorian himself) argues that reading Green’s words is almost useless (indeed dangerous) as they act as a mist (or sickly sweet fog – choking the mind)) which give an utterly false impression of the actual position of Green – whilst leading a reader to that position (without the unwary reader being really unaware of it). Specifically that Green poses as the arch foe of Thomas Hobbes – but has, in fact, accepted all the basic assumptions of Thomas Hobbes and he leads unwary readers to accepting those assumptions without them even being aware of it. Just as with Hobbes, basic terms of ordinary human language (words such as “freedom”, “liberty” or “justice”) are utterly twisted and transformed by Green – but he never says he is changing the meaning of basic words.

    This is not a special thing about Thomas Hill Green – most of the best known Victorian “pro freedom” writers are actually engaged in destroying both the foundations of liberty, and the very concept of human liberty (moral choice) itself. The thinkers they look back to (Hume in the 18th century, Hobbes in the 17th) were, in their time, rightly considered enemies of the tradition of civilisation – somehow in the modern age the great tradition is forgotten (who remembers thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth or Thomas Reid today?) and the rebels have taken the throne.

    The degeneration of our culture was well (if unintentionally) expressed by Woodrow Wilson – when he said (whilst in charge of Princeton) his objective was to make students “as unlike their fathers as possible” – the evil of that statement should be obvious without me having to explain it further.

    What has happened is that what was few “elite” thinkers in the 19th century – with a great mass of ordinary people still sound, had gone down the social scale.

    Now it is the mass of people who are unsound in the basic thinking – it is the average teacher in the class room who is (in effect) teaching “destroy the civilisation your ancestors created””, not just a few “elite” college Professors.

    As for Article 50 – we should have left the E.U. almost a year ago (not in two years time), and leaving it will do little good if the many thousands of E.U. regulations on our internal economic life are all kept (as the Prime Minister says they will be – they are going to be “incorporated into British law”).

    Judge G. – this is the man who has stressed “precedents” in his confirmation hearings. Not the words on the page of the Constitution.

    Hopefully the Judge is lying – but what does it say that he finds it necessary to lie?

  • Expatnik

    Hopefully the Judge is lying – but what does it say that he finds it necessary to lie?

    It says that appointment to the Supreme Court is a political process and therefore if you want to sit on the Supreme Court, you should play the political game or your enemies will do it for you to your detriment.

  • Paul Marks

    It should be pointed out that most ordinary American college professors (in moral philosophy and so on) were either Common Sense people or Aristotelians (much the same on the basics – the objective existence of the universe, the objective existence of the human “I” the self, the objective existence of moral right and moral wrong – and the human capacity to really CHOOSE between them) till about 1890. The intellectual and moral corruption hit some “elite” universities first – and then spread out from there (and is still spreading and deepening).

    Even in Britain one could find, at one time, many good people among even the “elite”.

    For example in Oxford in the 1930s (which P.E. Moore visited in the 1930s – and despaired because, I believe, he did not look hard enough for the good amongst all the intellectual corruption and decay) one could find such philosophers as Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross (Major Ross) as well as such thinkers as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. “Abolition of Man” Lewis.

    The generation of the Battle of Britain did not come from nowhere – most ordinary people were still intellectually and morally sound.

    An interesting example is F.A. Hayek and Alfred Roberts (the father of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher).

    Both men use much the same language in their attack on the “totalitarians” (the National Socialists and the Marxists) – indeed Alfred Roberts used it first (his talks in Grantham were in the 1930s – Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” came out in 1944).

    But it turned out that Hayek did-not-mean-the-language.

    It is quite plain in such works as “The Constitution of Liberty” (1960) that Hayek held that talk of natural rights, and moral choice (the self – the I) was not philosophically correct – that David Hume and J.S. Mill and so on had refuted such silly old beliefs. But (as Hayek himself admitted – more than once) he, Hayek, used the old language in “The Road to Serfdom” to appeal to people who were not properly “educated” yet.

    Hayek notes (in “The Constitution of Liberty”) that the Old Whigs (the people of 1688 and the people of the United States Constitution) were wedded to certain philosophical ideas – but in our modern age (he ASSUMES) one can throw out these ideas and still keep economic and political freedom.

    No we can not.

    You throw out these “outdated” philosophical ideas and you have cut the throat of liberty – all forms of it.

  • Paul Marks

    “appointment to the Supreme Court is political” – so it is, I agree.

    But that does it say about our age that “I stand for the words written on the pages of the Constitution and the written intentions of those who wrote them – I reject the corrupt judgements, “precedents”, that ignore these words and intentions” is a politically untenable position?

  • Paul Marks

    The Ninth Amendment makes it clear that rights do not come from government or even from a group of men sitting in Philadelphia in the 1780s. But to explain the actual origin of the philosophy of the Bill of Rights (American or British) would disgust the elite – including the media elite.

    Clue – you can not get to the philosophy of the Bill of Rights from Thomas Hobbes or Jeremy Bentham and you can not get there from David Hume either. Nor from J.S. Mill – in spite of his nice sounding words.

    One does NOT have to endorse a religious view (one could hold with Alexander of Aphrodisias, that the sould dies with the body) – but one can not reject the moral self (the choosing “I”) and get to the Bill of Rights.

  • bobby b

    “Judge G. – this is the man who has stressed “precedents” in his confirmation hearings. Not the words on the page of the Constitution.”

    This is the man whose entire judicial history makes it clear that he values the words of the Constitution, the black-letter law as written, and precedent, in that order.

    As he should.

    If Judge Gorsuch is too wishy-washy for you – if he gives too much emphasis to feelings over the law – if he strikes you as someone willing to rewrite the Constitution as he sees fit – then I cannot imagine any person alive who would satisfy you.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b.

    As I have said (several times) I hope he was lying at the Confirmation Hearings.

    My point is that it is terrible that he finds it necessary to lie – in order to be confirmed.

    This is not attack on the judge – it is an attack on the horrible situation we all find ourselves in.

  • Mr Ed

    I trust that the Honorable Neil Gorsuch, referring to the issue of precedent before the august Senate, was not lying. He may well have been misunderstood, his one failing being that he fails to appreciate that when speaking of the importance of precedent, he meant the vital importance of puisne judges following (his) precedents based on the (granite) words of the Constitution.

  • Tarrou

    I have come, in my old age, to support the restriction of the franchise to those persons who pay net federal taxes. In fact, I think no one at any level should vote unless they pay tax to that level of government. We fought a war once on the principle of “No taxation without representation”. Perhaps now it’s time to enforce that backward. No representation without taxation.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thanks for the link, Mr Ed. “Puny,” indeed!

    So far, there’s a lot of fuss made about A.G. Sessions and asset forfeiture; but I haven’t found anything where he talks about it. I don’t like the mercantilism, but it seems as though Asset Forfeiture really is out of control. I used to have an online acquaintance, a former cop, getting long in the tooth, who said it used to be terrible; then it started dropping off, and for awhile the police-corruption rate that went with it also dropped most pleasingly. But then, he said, it started to rise again, and was at high levels once more. This might have been around 2005-2008.
    As for Mr. Gorsuch, again we have mixed opinions. I hope that Paul is wrong for a change, and Mr Ed’s suggestion, at least the Constitution part of it, is correct. Really, listening to the entire testimony is a daunting prospect; but I suppose I ought not to emulate the cat i’ the adage.

    And what about Gen. McMaster, who got some pretty good press on this site a short while ago? The conservative crew over here don’t seem uniformly thrilled. He seems to them to be entirely too librul-leftist where the children of the Prophet are concerned.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, thus:

    “… [T]he rule about not splitting infinitives is just an attempt to imitate Latin….”

    So I have heard. Does anybody have a reliable account of that particular bit of revisionist linguistic history? Because we have been sold so many bills of goods at the hands of revisionist historians; and in some cases the goods were in good order and there should be no complaints, of course. But the problem is, to tell which is which….

    (I will point out that it’s just as easy, and more natural once we return to our formative years, to say “to go boldly” as it is to say “to boldly go. English is famously a language in which word-order is important, although I admit that some subset of the human species is like a bunch of different brands of cat, all caterwauling about what is and isn’t proper to a given language.)

  • Julie, my observing Paul’s split infinitive was just joking to cheer him up – and serious in that I could imagine him (or me) doing it deliberately to symbolise comically the decline of order. As you might expect of an admirer of Burke, I see the mere ceremonies that mark a civilisation as both a tiny part of the glue that binds it together and a symbol that the bonds still hold, and I see British culture’s habit of joking about such things as another thing that binds us together. 🙂

    AFAIK, the “don’t split infinitives” rule originally appeared (in the UK, around the time you guys split AFAICR, which is why you lack it) as a point in a style guide rather than a fully defined grammatical rule. It is like the rule: “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition – that is the kind of English up with which I will not put”, where observing the rule is sometimes bad style. When an adverb qualifies an infinitive verb, as in “to symbolise comically” or “comically to symbolise”, there is an obvious argument for saying that “to comically symbolise” is the most unambiguous way of showing which verb it qualifies. It’s not hard to create sentences in which that is the best way to avoid ambiguity. In the more common non-ambiguous case, the choice between “to symbolise comically”, “comically to symbolise” and “to comically symbolise” is a style point. I wrote the first above, but would use the middle form if I wanted to emphasise the adverb, and the last only to avoid ambiguity (or when speaking fast 🙂 ) but FAIK that could reflect my upbringing more than my literary judgement.

  • Alisa

    I do not even think in words anyway – I think in terms of concepts and images which I then try to translate into words

    Same here – I was just discussing this with a friend the other day, and we were both amazed by the difference in our ways of thinking.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Julie, I read something like that, years ago. Scholars and churchmen had a love-affair with the dead Roman empire, since they became the state religion in its’ time. Since you can’t split infinitives in Latin, you shouldn’t in other languages, either. I don’t know why Latin was loved- Greek and Hebrew are more flexible, both having ‘the’ as an adjective. (And why is French inconsistent on this point- ‘la’ and ‘le’ are both adjectives that are put at the front of the noun, not the back!)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nicholas, thanks for your thoughts. :>)

    Yes, I’ve heard that story too. Whether it’s confirmed to be the correct linguistic history is the issue. After all, as I recall it, Rome invaded Britannia commencing in 43 A.D., and the conquered, some of them, would have picked up the lingo. So if the “don’t split” rule is a johnny-come-lately one hoked up by “churchmen” and “scholars,” how come the rule didn’t go back farther? (But note that I can put a couple of arguments against this particular line of thought myself.) Of course Latin doesn’t have articles either, so perhaps it don’t foller … but who got theirs first, the French who brought it with them (1066 and all that) to England, or the English who let them steal our language !!!

    As for “the,” “la,” “le” — Yes, they’re adjectives in English too, but they’re the special kind of adjective that we call an article. Others (in English) are “a” and “an,” e.g. “Like a cat in an adage, I’ve put off doing chores.”

    “Les trois hommes chantent, ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon …. ‘” The adjective trois is quite comfy coming before the noun. And our ongoing discussions of grammar show that English is no poster child for absolutely consistent grammar … as you know! 😀

    We have that in English, too. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod … who sailed off one night in a wooden shoe … “Thus sang the stars to the fishermen three, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.”

    What is the use of articles? Well, there’s a big difference between saying “The boy loves me” and “A boy loves me.” [Sure, there are times when there’s no essential difference in the meaning, but if you remember your Standards (popular music from the ’20’s and before, still popular today, like “Mad about the Boy” — sung by Julie London, in particular, and absolutely to die for) it’s pretty obvious that she’s not talking about any old boy.)] It enhances the ability of our language to express nuances of meaning; not all languages are so good for that.


    It’s entirely possible, of course, that the vexing issue of whether or not to split has gone back and forth between No and Yes across the millenia, as linguistic fashion comes and goes (which muddies the historical waters horribly, but then I think those waters are used to it. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, it surely makes it difficult to know just what the Constitution is really telling us).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, thanks very much for your input. Always most welcome! 🙂

    For now, I’ll just mention that we do indeed have the no-split-infinitives rule; if we didn’t, you folks wouldn’t be so lucky (heh, heh) as to get my very valuable opinions on the issue.

    It’s just that as in England, “Americans don’t teach their children how to speak.” As a result, meaning is up for grabs. (Not so much in this particular case, I suppose, but I grew up in a house where Standard English was the usual language, and it really totally grates on my ear. Like someone who sings flat. Think Bono, who never sang his high note on pitch — a pity, because while I hate that sort of music, he really had quite a good voice and could actually sing. Or, if you were unlucky enough to hear the duet sung by Sarah Brightman and Jackie Evancho, the child prodigy with the amazing operatic voice and wonderful control of it, you might agree that, speaking of singing on pitch, Miss Brightman takes the honors as the amateur. Even the commenters on UT remarked on this. –I hope I’m not trashing one of your idols.) 🙁

    (I prefer to symbolize comically.)


    P.S. I’m surely in synch with you as regards “the decline of order,” Encouraging that I am not alone in that. :>)))