Saturday, June 9, 2018
Friday, June 8, 2018
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
God, whose law it is
that he who learns must suffer.
And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despite, against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
-Aeschylus, as translated by Edith Hamilton
The news was terrible............................................
Bobby Kennedy was undoubtedly a polarizing political figure. My father characterized him as "ruthless" and "opportunistic" and couldn't find anything to like about him. I was a high school junior in the Spring of 1968. I found a lot to like about him. I have always thought that the United States would be a very different, and better, country today if Bobby had lived. June 6, 1968 was a terrible, awful, really bad day.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Imagine a country where nobody can identify who owns what, addresses cannot be easily verified, people cannot be made to pay their debts, resources cannot conveniently be turned into money, ownership cannot be divided in shares, descriptions of assets are not standardized and cannot be easily compared, and the rules that govern property vary from neighborhood to neighborhood or even from street to street. You have just put yourself into the life of a developing country or former communist nation; more precisely, you have imaged life for 80 percent of its population, which is marked off as sharply from its Westernized elite as black and white South Africans were once separated by apartheid.
This 80 percent majority is not, as Westerners often imagine, desperately impoverished. In spite of their obvious poverty, even those who live under the most grossly unequal regimes possess far more than anybody has ever understood. What they possess, however, is not represented in such a way as to produce additional value. When you step out of the door of the Nile Hilton, what you are leaving behind is not the high-technology world of fax machines and ice makers, televisions and antibiotics. The people of Cairo have access to all those things.
What you are really leaving behind is the world of legally enforceable transactions on property rights.
-Hernando de Soto, Chapter 2, The Mystery Of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs In The West And Fails Everywhere Else, Basic Books, 2000
Monday, June 4, 2018
With its victory over communism, capitalism's old agenda for economic progress is exhausted and requires a new set of commitments. It makes no sense continuing to call for open economies without facing the fact that the economic reforms underway open the doors only for the small globalized elites and leave out most of humanity. At present, capitalist globalization is concerned with interconnecting only the elites that live inside the bell jars. To lift the bell jars and do away with property apartheid will require going beyond the existing borders of both economics and law.
I am not a die-hard capitalist. I do not view capitalism as a credo. Much more important to me are freedom, compassion for the poor, respect for the social contract, and equal opportunity. But for the moment, to achieve those goals, capitalism is the only game in town. It is the only system we know that provides us with the tools required to create massive surplus value.
-Hernando de Soto, The Mystery Of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs In The West And Fails Everywhere Else, published in 2000
I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought man- kind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they're not true. ...
The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.
-C. S. Lewis, from a quote taken out of Present Concerns
Sunday, June 3, 2018
ON THIS DAY IN 1539: Hernando de Soto claimed Florida for Spain. Then, 461 years later, he published the highly influential book—The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Succeeds in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. No … wait … my mistake. That was a different Hernando de Soto. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read his book. It’s a classic.
The concepts of left wing and right wing in Peru sometimes confuse things rather than clarify them. We think that, more than the rhetoric which distinguishes them, what is important is the fact that both sides reward those who use their talent to obtain favors instead of encouraging those who create wealth and well-being. The conflict between mercantilism and a market economy helps to explain the apparent paradox whereby a large portion of our middle class are pro-state and often socialist-leaning, while the popular sectors advocate private enterprise and cooperate in free, decentralized organizations. We are sure that if the right and left wings in developed countries were to evaluate the evidence correctly, both would condemn our system. The former might condemn its inefficiency, and the latter its injustice.
One of our rulers' most pernicious mistakes has been to concern themselves with the cost of production and not with those of transaction. We are convinced that they should devote their greatest efforts to the latter and use their lawmaking power to eliminate obstacles and provide more facilitative elements so that everyone, and not just an elite, can prosper. They should also leave the cost of production to individuals and give them the legal institutions to use competition and the market of reduce them.
-Hernando de Soto, from his 1989 book, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution In The Third World
P.S. For the purpose of his book "... 'mercantilsim' means a bureaucratized and law-ridden state that regards redistribution of nation wealth as more important than the production of wealth."
The Old School project has been center stage in my work life since last fall. We are now in the Impatient Stage. We have made significant headway, lots of work has been completed, the apartment units are coming into sharper focus, one can see the finished product materializing. But...........There still is a lot of work to be finished. We have surrendered the original goal of having tenants move in by the end of June. The target for completion is now mid-July. I can see the pathway, but........:
|First floor plaster repair not yet started|
|Second and third floor plaster work mostly finsished|
|Five of the 29 kitchens are still boxed up|
|8 of the 29 kitchens have cabinets but await countertops|
|The rest of the units are patiently awaiting appliance delivery|
|Eleven of the units originally had hardwood (maple) floors.|
|After almost 80 years, they need refinishing|
|It is a tedious process|
|Sanded but not stained.|
|Stained but not sealed|
|The almost finished product. Mighty handsome floors, don't you think?|
|Confident enough in the process to put this sign up|