In his essay “The Bankruptcy of Conservative Political Paternalism,” Richard Ebeling does a fine job unveiling the many myths and misunderstandings – and plain old economic fallacies – that continue to be spread by Oren Cass. A slice:
Traditions, customs, and noncoercive “authorities” to which people give recognition and respect and deference only can sustainably emerge and intergenerationally survive when they arise out of the free actions and chosen forms of personal and societal interactive conduct of the human actors themselves. It is what Adam Smith called “the system of natural liberty” with its evolved institutions of free exchange that generates the workings of the market’s “invisible hand” of mutual gains from trade in all their varied forms inside and outside of the marketplace.
Stalin’s most celebrated victims were themselves used to humiliation and self-abasement. As Robert Conquest writes in his indispensable book The Great Terror, “Their surrender was not a single and exceptional act in their careers, but the culmination of a whole series of submissions to the Party that they knew to be ‘objectively’ false.” Conquest tells of a former member of the Soviet Supreme Court who was informed by an interrogator, “Well, the Party demands that you, as a Bolshevik, confess that you are an English spy.” The man responded: “If the Party demands it, I confess.”
These days we repeatedly confess our racism and misogyny, suppressing any sense that we are perhaps not as sinful as we are told. Maybe we haven’t harassed, demeaned, or insulted anyone—but the very impulse to defend ourselves indicates our guilt. After all, we are all part of “the system,” and only a thoroughgoing racist would dispute the idea that the system is guilty.
Ethan Yang is justly impressed with Richard Epstein’s great 1995 book, Simple Rules for a Complex World. (This book is my favorite of all of Epstein’s works.)
Government money has played a role in the decline of quality in academia. Programs like the GI bill and student loan programs have swelled the ranks of college students. Programs like the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities have dumped huge amounts of money into higher education. The net effect has been harmful.