Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday Round-up 1

Those of you who follow this blog may occasion to glance at the “What Kendall’s Reading” pane off to the left there. This is a collection of articles that I pull from the news feeds that I read every day. There are usually new articles posted to the list every day, and usually not more than 10 or so. The list is very easy to generate as I simply mark the article I’m reading and Google assures it is posted to the window.

Topically, it’s a mix of everything; sometimes raw material for my posts; sometimes off-topic article of interest; sometimes humor or human interest stories. For those of you who find yourself glancing at it and sometimes clicking through, you can also view the articles as their own RSS feed, which can be found at: “My Favorite Posts.”

I find myself at times wanting to leave a comment about these articles, but not really enough for a full blown post. So I’ve decided to pull four or five from the week and formulate a “round-up” post for Saturdays.This is the first installment! I’ll also add a few sentences of commentary or a quick quote as well so you have the essence of my perspective on the topic.

Certainly if you have elaborations or comments on the links, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I. Next to Obama’s speech writers, I think that nobody does pure, consistent altruism better than Colin Powell. This week he weighs in on the subject in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, “Let’s Renew America Together.” With a subtitle “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve,” he delivers a consistent missive on the topic of “our shared responsibility to one another.”

II. The antidote to the Powell’s thinking is to be found in the winter edition of The Objective Standard, in Craig Biddles lead essay “Capitalism and the Moral High Ground.”

Altruism does not call merely for “serving” others; it calls for self-sacrificially serving others. Otherwise, Michael Dell would have to be considered more altruistic than Mother Teresa. Why? Because Michael Dell serves millions more people than Mother Teresa ever did. The difference, of course, is in the way he serves people. Whereas Mother Teresa “served” people by exchanging her time and effort for nothing, Michael Dell serves people by trading with them—by exchanging value for value to mutual advantage—an exchange in which both sides gain.

Renewal will not come from the type of service Powell talks about. It will only come from the type of service which does not even appear on Powell’s radar screen as service.

III. For a look at how Powell’s sort of service specifically banishes and excludes the kind of service we need, see The Wall Street Journal op-ed “The Mugging of Bank of America.” In September Bank of America stepped up to buy financially failing Merrill Lynch. After enough due diligence to realize how toxic Merrill’s balance sheet was, and that absorbing the bank would threaten the solvency of his own firm, CEO Ken Lewis attempted to back out. The article details how he was forced by the Treasury Department to execute the deal anyway. Today, Bank of America is teetering itself. A prime example of the effects of Powell’s type of “service.” Read this article. It is straight out of Atlas Shrugged.

IV. The big talk these days is the final installment of TARP and Obama’s proposed stimulus package. In a follow-up to my post on emerging skeptics, I offer a few more links. Two more economists come out wondering who thought the stimulus was a good idea. University of Chicago Economist Gary Becker wonders where the hell all the Keynesians came from. Finally Brian Kaplan asks the most basic of questions to be put to anyone advocating a stimulus package, “How will we know that the bailout worked?”

V. Finally, while we’re on the topic of service and The Objective Standard, I wanted to highlight an article in this month’s issue by my friend Ray Niles. It is “Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet” and it very effectively concretizes how government regulation in supposed “service” of those who would seek broadband access only hurts them. Unfortunately you’ll have to subscribe to get the whole article, or you can drop by your local Barnes & Noble and see if they carry the journal. If they don’t, ask them to Start!

No comments: