Friday, November 06, 2009

A little light reading and listening

Taking a side step from the house project, which is on hold until the backhoe can get out to finish the corners and dig the trenches for the posts to sit in. 

I am back on cowboy duty for the next couple of weeks while Rancher Bob is out of town again. I discovered while helping run the cows and calves through the shoot to immunize them, that I was not made out to be a cowboy.. Oh I did the job fine, but there is a real drain on a fellow from working with the beasts, and a particular terror that comes from knowing that you have to stand fast as an 800 pound animal is charging at you, determined to get by.. 

Maybe this is why cowboys in the old west were also often outlaws.. the noose or a bullet does not look so bad after a day of wrangling cattle.. 

But on with the show.. now I just have to feed the critters and move them from pasture to pasture for a couple of weeks, which is fairly easy and usually uneventful. Since it is not cold, the beard I've let develop is a bit premature, but I recall how grateful I was for it last year, so though we have temps in the mid 70's now, I am keeping it. 

Since I cannot work on the homestead yet, though I do have grass growing now, I am focusing on a couple of projects for Rancher Bob, as well as enjoying the last few movies in my cheap mystery DVD collection, and then too I have just received three items on economics which ought to keep my attention for a while. The first is a book I've needed for some time so as to be able to explain in detailed ways why and where Keynesian "economic" theory went so horribly wrong, and why it is still wrong today. If you are not familiar with Keynesian "economic" theory, just look to the nonsense of the US government, which under the last two administrations (and many others) they claimed that if the government only went far enough into debt then everything would be wonderful and the rivers would flow with gold.. 

I don't know about you, but I've not seen any of those gold rivers or magic pills yet.. and I know from logic and the lessons of history that I never will. Still, it is good to get a firmer grasp on the inherent problems of the "charge your way out of debt" mentality (AKA "deny liberty and you will be free") so I am delving into first of the three: Where Keynes Went Wrong and why government keep creating inflation, bubbles, and busts by Hunter Lewis. 

I am reminded of some advice I was given almost 20 years ago by two professors of philosophy who knew at the time that I did not share their anti-individual, anti-liberty, pro-state ideology: take more economics classes.  I was tired of the academic economics classes, because they did not make any sense in following Keynesian "economic" theory though I did not know that then, so though I've always had an ear open and thought about it, I have not explored economics beyond the three classes I had already taken. The reason that this advice comes back to me now is not in spite of those two wonderful people, but because of them. They may have believed that I would come to adopt Keynesian faith, rather than follow reason, but I do not know. What I do know is that they honestly wanted the best for me (and for all of their students) and so gave excellent advice which would help me in the goals that I set, as opposed to any agenda on their part. I can never repay or appreciate enough the philosophy department of WSU for their dedication to philosophy, to the love of wisdom, the love of teaching, that leads them to this day to teach HOW to think, and not WHAT to think. 

The next couple of books are not both books at all. The first in no particular order is Murray Rothbard's America's Great Depression in which he examines the most famous "Great Depression" (there have been more than one, though few know it) in the light of reason, rather than seeking to find non-keynsian scapegoats.  The other is a collection of lectures by Rothbard, who btw is without a doubt the greatest economic thinker and social thinker of the latter half of the 20th century, which has been turned into a book on "tape" (cd/dvd) so that those of us who were not fortunate enough to be able to attend the classes of the great man can at least hear his famous voice, and listen to the arguments and evidence he presents. 

Though I've not read any Rothbard as of yet, though I do possess his most famous work Man, Economy, and State going on twelve years, I will admit to a bit of a positive bias going into this exploration, not because of my appreciation of the value of the individual, or because I know that no person has any right to control the peaceful actions of any other person, but rather because a dear friend of mine was one of Rothbard's closest friends and students, and I have been regaled with stories of the man for a good portion of the last decade. The stories are not always flattering, and seldom are they on the issues of economics, but rather they are on the person and his life, his way of speaking, and his appreciation for his fellow man, particularly if that fellow man was a young woman! (No implication here.. I have no idea about his actual behavior other than being told that he like most men, appreciated cute young women.. ). 

So there I am. Between the little and the profound, between the physical and the philosophical, between ignorance and bliss.. such as it seems that I always am. For now, I am going to be enjoying what Mill and other utilitarians believed to be the "higher" pleasures: reading and learning.. 

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