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Why economics a dismal science

You try and you try but still can’t be sure.

However greatly our theories and techniques of investigation [using economic models and testing them through statistical trials] assist us to interpret the observed facts, they give little help in ascertaining all those particulars which enter into the determination of the complex patterns, and which we would have to know to achieve complete explanation, or precise predictions.

Which is where the free market comes in, millions  of buyers and sellers and their “complex patterns,” which no  man or woman or gang of eight or ten or a thousand can explain completely or predict precisely.

Abortion provider and “exchange of ideas”

OK to have the Planned Parenthood lady speak at Georgetown last week , said university President John DeGioia, pleading the familiar cause of “the free exchange of ideas”; but

There was no free exchange, only her arguments (presented, according to reports, as if, of course, the audience agreed with her, which it largely did).

Four questions were allowed from the floor. Four. Only one of which challenged her to explain why 94 percent of PP’s pregnancy-related services lead to abortion, only 1 percent to adoption.

This perfectly reasonable question earned the questioner a laugh and dismissal by [the speaker] Richards, and ridicule from the crowd. So much for the free exchange of ideas.

It is indeed to laugh at this tired defense. A real university schedules debates, not disquisitions by hot-wire advocates. You get those for religious retreats or missions. Or used to. This lady is a Billy Sunday for our day.

Get a job and define it so it’s a lifetime gig

Which is what this Loyola U.-Chicago assoc. prof did when named diversity advisor to  the university’s president.

The first thing an institution—or even a person—needs to do is recognize that notions of inclusivity and diversity are not static. They are constantly changing.

That’s why we want to make sure the diversity statement we’re working on has the idea of change embedded in it, that it doesn’t just speak to respecting a list of diverse populations.

That holds us accountable as a community to constant growth and lets us work toward change, rather than setting a numerical goal and just stopping when we reach it.

There will be no stopping this fellow.

More of this socialism going around . . .

. . . . so (this time) I ambled over to the Loyola campus for a talk on “Women and Socialism” March 31. It was a gathering of neighborhood socialists, the Rogers Park Chapter of the Chicago Socialists, who meet Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Willye B White Park, 1610 W. Howard Street. (There is also a Loyola branch of the International Socialists, FYI.)

Several references were made to this group being “revolutionary” socialists, which caught my attention as something I remembered from my reporting days in the early ’70s, when demonstrations had not yet petered out, as at the old McCormick Seminary across from the Seminary Restaurant in Lincoln Park, and at Northwestern in Evanston.

Speaker for this meeting, Sharon Smith, wrote the book, Women and Socialism Class, Race, and Capital, which had been praised by a U. of Texas-Austin professor as offering a “valuable and uncommon perspective on the oppression and liberation of women.”

On this night Smith presented the 1917 Bolshevik victory in Russia and other Marxist solutions as the model of how to release women from the bondage of monogamy-throttled capitalism.

Keenly disposed to be educated in these matters, I made my way over to Loyola, a mile or so from our apartment in Andersonville. It was the eve of the Chicago teachers union’s one-day wildcat strike. I wanted to hear about socialism. There’s a lot of that going around these days, as I have said; so what the hey? I decided I’d like to know more.

The 90-minute session was in a classroom, I assumed rented for the occasion, or made available as a good will gesture to the ‘hood. I got there just before the 6:30 start time, sat in the back, followed by a young guy in a ball cap, late 20s, I’d say, who took a chair to my right and chatted me up.

The author had an earlier book, about “working-class radicalism,” he told me. I nodded “Oh” in appreciation. Then the speaker lady was introduced by a very pleasant young woman in her 20s, who called the speaker’s book “amazing.”

Smith began. All here are for Planned Parenthood, she assumed, laying the groundwork,  and “fed up with fucking contempt for women,” which she called “a disease.”

Her attention was to women in general, yes. Hillary Clinton, for instance, has been “oppressed,” yes, “but nothing like the poor and women of color.” Supplying particulars, she concluded with “and the list goes on. It makes your head spin.”

In general, women have been “glorified” as homemakers, she said. This ideal has been “imposed on girls.” Opposing this “nuclear family” ideal is “the Marxist viewpoint,” rebutting as it does “the Christian-based matrimony until death do us part” ideal.

Not so the prehistoric “hunters and gatherers,” for whom men and women shared each other without marital bonds, she said. (Try this for a more complete discussion of this matter.) But then came the first “class society” — ancient Greece and Rome, where “the patriarchal family” became the norm. It was also “a slave society,” Smith added. And with this society came the “rise of prostitution.” She added, “Monogamy and prostitution go together.”

She cited Marx’s collaborator, philosopher Friedrich Engels, on condemning the right of the husband “to kill his wife” as had been upheld as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman patriarchal family. In this she traced the evolution of man-woman relationships from cavemen for whom the nuclear family had no meaning to the “class society” of those Greeks and Romans.

At issue was the ideal imposed by society in which women are “glorified as homemakers” and cheerful cleaner of toilets as in TV commercials — “and yes, I’m bitter” about that, she said. “The nuclear family ideal continues today,” canonizing “a life devoted to homemaking,” though the nuclear family “never was [the ideal] for black families in slavery.” (More later on this.)

Having children is “reproducing labor power” for capitalism. For women it means “second-class status,” signified by fact that “we abandon our last name” in marriage.

The cause of black women was set back by the 1965 Moynihan Report, in its arguing against women working “outside the home,” as “emasculating men.” Since the ’60s, she said, there has been “an increase of [anti-women] bigotry along with class inequality.”

But “the traditional family will disapear as a vehicle of capitalism,” she promised, citing the aftermath of the “Russian revolution” of 1917, before it was “crushed by an embargo that starved the population.” (More also on this later.)

From 1920, nevertheless, the new Russia declared abortion legal, repealing “all laws regarding sexual behavior.”

Smith spoke of raising a son, now age 20, “motivated a lot by guilt and shame.” She took a shot at Donald Trump for saying days earlier that a woman having an abortion should be punished as a law breaker.

She also criticized the mainstream women’s movement in which household names were Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem when such headliners should include black lesbian and socialist feminist Barbara Smith.

In question time, a man bemoaned Obama as reformer. Under Obama, he said, there have been “more restrictions” in women’s issues than before. Why not “free abortion on demand,” he asked, as the 1920 Bolsheviks offered?

Smith nodded approval at these and other comments, which were followed by murmured agreement among the audience.

“Bombs fall . . . destroying the lives of women around the world,” another man said, growing increasingly engaged and excited as he spoke.

Later, Sharon Smith picked up on this, noting that former National Organization for Women president and publisher of Ms. Magazine Eleanor Smeal and other feminist leaders favored the war in Afghanistan, so as “to help women by dropping bombs on them.”

A pregnant woman quietly but severely criticized Hillary Clinton as one who “acts to make capitalism better,” aiding and abetting “the ruling class.”

The man next to me (who commented to me earlier) spoke up for family life. “Many of us rely on our families,” he said, but the state is trying to tear families apart. Families are a support thing. We rely on them,” he repeated. “People should be able to choose,” but family life “is regulated by the state, which hits our collective sense.” (Interferes with families’ ability to help its members.)

A man spoke up as the meeting drew to a close, telling of a demonstration in Austin TX at the state capitol when legislators were to vote on closing abortion clinics. The protesters made so much noise, the building “rumbled” and “politicians couldn’t hear themselves,” he said with a chuckle.

They “shut down the government process,” he said. It was “a people’s filibuster. A sense of power was felt by everyone there. It stopped people ruining everybody’s lives.” (Actually delayed it to the wee hours of the next calendar day, when legislators approved the shutdown of abortion clinics.)

Speaking very rapidly, he said, “This is what we mean by power. We shut it down.” He said he is glad when “a mass movement gets into the streets.”

A woman spoke of a “huge rally” she had attended which she found “super-exciting.”

Another reminded the group of a Black Lives Matter rally coming a few days later at the Cultural Center.

The meeting drew to an end. Sharon Smith asked how many would be voting for Hillary Clinton. No one raised his or her hand.

 

Trump succeeds by catching the tide and swimming with it

Like Shakespeare’s Brutus taking the tide “at the flood” and “the current when it serves,” Trump has captured the spirit of the age and is making the most of it.

If the leaders of the Right are scared of Trump because he will say anything; the Left is scared of Trump precisely because he will say anything. He does not play by the rules, and that makes him less predictable and more dangerous. What Ronald Reagan and Trump have in common is obvious: an incredible capacity to use the media to captivate the American people. One learned this in Hollywood, the other in reality TV, but both deployed this skill to great effect.

There is, of course, a big difference, as well: everyone knows Reagan cast himself as a sunny, heroic figure. Trump, on the other hand, is taking his cues from his time as a pro-wrestling heel personality, i.e., a comically larger-than-life villain. But there’s a neat thing about villains, or at least well-done ones: they get to show where people’s ideas of good and evil fall flat. Trump does this brilliantly to the Left. He has taken the humiliating mockery that the media has trained so effectively on “hicks,” Christians, and Republicans, and turned it round to expose the smug, mostly leftist Babbits and young fogies of the Acela Corridor as no less ridiculous.

That’s a good start for someone who wants to make America great again, rather than letting America succumb to its eventual, leftist-driven death by a thousand clicks.

— From a long, erudite and eerily perceptive essay by Federalist contributor Mytheos Holt

Age before beauty this election time around

Look, the older you are, the smarter, right?

The New York Times notes that a lot of really old guys are getting back into the political arena because of the dearth of operatives who have experience working a contested convention.
“The last time Stuart Spencer courted delegates at a Republican National Convention, in 1976, he kept a roll of quarters in his pocket for when he had to run to the pay phones and call in reports to President Gerald R. Ford’s campaign headquarters,” Jeremy Peters writes.
“This year there will be no running. Two hip replacements later, the closest Mr. Spencer plans to get to the convention floor in Cleveland is the deck of his Palm Desert, Calif., home, where he calls in advice to Gov. John Kasich’s campaign almost every day.
‘I’m 89, man. I’m lucky to be here,’ said Mr. Spencer, who last worked in politics 25 years ago.”
[Paul] Manafort [new de facto
Trump campaign manager] is 67. Charlie Black, helping Kasich, is 68.

Used to think smarter, when I was 50 or so. At 84 I don’t think so. Not the point here, which is EXPERIENCE.