Thursday, June 01, 2006


Buzz kill

I was thinking about this the other day. I feel like the buzz kill or the killjoy many times. I seem to comment on everything, have an alternative opinion to every issue, and as my fiancee says "am so negative" about human virtue.

For example, she was telling me the other day about this guy who stopped and helped push another car out of the way that had stalled. Given how hot it was that day and the fact that he got out of his air conditioned vehicle, there is not doubt it was quite virtuous. Then I responded that he was still only acting in his best interest. She didn't like that, commenting on how I was "so negative" about humanity. I tried to explain, but that ship had already sunk.

I had a similar instance during Memorial Day weekend. I was happy to have the day off, but wasn't in the mood for celebration. I guess that I am supposed to be joyous for all the wars, government monuments, fallen soldiers, and politicians, but I could just not get into it. I now feel this way for all State-created holidays. I am not looking forward to July 4th....I don't think fireworks are gonna cut it.

Question to anyone out there:

Does this sound like the trait of an economist, or simply that of a cynic and political radical?

July 4th is definitely worth celebrating. It marked the transition to the most free period in this nation's history - the interval during which it didn't yet exist. July 4th was our departure from England's rule and into our own. What happened afterwards shouldn't detract from the move towards independence and the spirit of natural rights and individual freedoms embodied by the men who drafted our Declaration of Independence.

So, by all means, be depressed on Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, but celebrate on July 4.
Grieved could be a better emotion. Grieved that so many have been misled, that so many have died needlessly, that so many are willing to give up their liberty for licence of irresponsibility. I say celebrate the 4th of July properly, call it Liberty Day, and exault all things Libertarian.

Now, as to the guy pushing the car... you called him virtuous. Virtuous of whom? The term connotates habbit forming imitation. If we can identify the standard worth emulating we can have a source of virtue. This fellow was probably immitating his father, who would do such a thing, or some other person they respect. But why would they respect them? Because of what the respected did for them. Virtuous actions therefore are responsive and habbitual, and less the result of case-by-case volition or seeking after rewards.
Is this superstition, or culture?
Coming full circle to the 4th: Are we free because it is our natural right, or are we free because our fathers paid for our freedom?

Well I wouldn't go so far as to say political radical. I've always considered you a bit of a contrarian in the Steven Landsburg line (except less snide, and more fair).
I'll take that.

Wiki on "contrarian":

Philosophically, a contrarian is a person who tends to take positions that flout the conventional wisdom. In finance a contrarian takes the view that widespread pessimism tends to lead to market rallies and that widespread optimism tends to lead to market slumps.

Contrarians are sometimes thought of as perma-bears—market participants who are permanently biased to a bear market view. However, the contrarian is not biased specifically towards a negative view of the price trend in a market, but rather takes a contrary position to the prevailing market trend, whether that trend is positive or negative. The generally positive trend in U.S. and world financial markets since World War II has left contrarians holding a net position that has been negative more often than positive for most of the past 60 years.

In Sociology, the term can be understood as an attitude of going against the establishment in terms of the social mores of the time. A social contrarian attempts to show to others, like Plato through Socrates, that there is something inherently wrong with their limited world view.

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