An Annoying Increase in the Use of the Term "Whilst"

My SEO guy advised me not to post this, but I couldn't contain myself.

Am I the only person who has noticed a disturbing increase in the use of the word "whilst."  If so, I'll shut up.  But seriously, what the hell is going on?  I used to see it once in a blue moon, and the fact that it was a little bit strange and different made it kind of fun in certain contexts.  Now it has gone too far.  It is sort of in an uncanny valley for words where it is too common to be cute any more but not common enough to go unnoticed.

Now that I have pointed it out, I'm sure it will annoy you too.  You're welcome.

Government is Necessary

The title statement may seem an odd contradiction coming from an anarchist, but the fact is government is necessary so long as the people think they need it.  The government provides three essential functions:

  • The illusion of order
  • The illusion of security
  • The illusion of accountability

The Shocker of the Decade - Bailout of GM Not a Good Investment for US Treasury

Yes, you read that right folks, the federal governments bailout of GM through a massive purchase of stock may not have been such a great investment after all.  In fact, the treasury may have lost as much as $10 Billion on the deal.  But please folks, I implore you, give these poor public servants a break.  No one could have predicted that a government action could have gone so wrong.

Atlas Slacked Off - or - The Tragedy of the Margins

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Capitalism
Atlas Shrugged, being one of the most popular and controversial books of all time, is probably familiar to you.  While I still credit the book as a major turning point in my young life and for fundamentally shifting the way I think about ethics and politics, I no longer wave the Ayn-Rand-was-right-about-everything banner.  Putting the major disagreements aside, I want to focus on yet another epiphany I had in the shower this morning (is there a better place for such a thing?).  The following will be a minor plot spoiler to those entirely unfamiliar with the novel.

The theme of the book is the most productive members of society - the men (and a woman) "of the mind", in Rand's parlance - getting fed up with the parasitic elements of society and going on strike.  This strike usually involves the self-destruction of their huge industrial businesses and their disappearance.  This, it struck me this morning, is where the story departs starkly from reality.  I am not disagreeing with the premise that those who produce wealth should bristle at the thought of it being pilfered from them.  Nor am I suggesting that they should not resist such acts of aggression - by force if necessary.  My qualm is with the literal interpretation of the book.  I see the plot as an abstraction intended to illustrate the morality and the consequences of the producers going on strike.  Unfortunately, the practical effects of government intervention into otherwise peaceful interactions are considerably more subtle.

The most insidious aspect of the strike going on with the producers here in the real world is on the margins.  People should not be expected to shrink away from society all-together when being fed up with taxation and regulation.  Rather, they will for the most part simply let those projects which require too much effort for too little gain (whether because of taxes or regulations) slip away, never to be seen or heard from again.

We should consider here Bastiat's warning against focusing solely on that which can be seen and ignoring that which is hidden.  The medical doctors who retire early, citing increased regulation and the affordable care act as their reason, are quite visible.  Those who decide not to go into medicine or those who simply elect to spend more time on the golf course are the unseen.  The chemist who discovers a potential cure for a rare disease but doesn't pursue it because the potential market just doesn't justify a billion dollars worth of regulatory hurdles is part of the unseen.  So is the dentist who doesn't expand his practice because the additional income moves him to the next tax bracket, netting him a pittance for the trouble.  So is the young couple who let their small business dreams die when they couldn't afford the new minimum wage.

I would argue that the "Brain Drain" is not the physical movement of ability from the borders of an overreaching state, though that certainly happens.  It is rather the creeping apathy of a mind grappling with the inability to be independent and effectual in a static, constrained and centrally planned world.

The little things that we have lost are a crime against humanity.

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