FREDERIC BASTIAT ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD AND A BAD ECONOMIST

Mankind's Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)
Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)

The American news media has a good business model. Suffering, sex, violence, and so forth attracts viewers, but is the news media’s business model good for us? When they show us suffering, what is the first thought of the news media and its too often mindless admirers? It is a crisis! The government has to do something!

Why the government? Well, it makes for a good story. The reporters can point their cameras at somebody and tell us what he is doing or not doing.

Is our government always supposed to do something? Why? When there is a problem, how far ahead does the news media look? Doesn’t the news media always gravitate to the next crisis? Do they actually give much thought to anything?

Consider Frédéric Bastiat‘s observation on the importance of foresight.

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause–it is seen. The others unfold in succession–they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference–the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.

This explains the fatally grievous condition of mankind. Ignorance surrounds its cradle: then its actions are determined by their first consequences, the only ones which, in its first stage, it can see. It is only in the long run that it learns to take account of the others. It has to learn this lesson from two very different masters–experience and foresight. Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. (from here)

Over the last couple of centuries, our nation has accumulated many unjust laws. In each instance a large segment of the population conspired together to make “other people do the right thing”. In others words, some busybodies insisted upon making everyone else do things their way.

What has been the result? Here are some examples.

  • We have a public education system that worked at first. Then our leaders slowly stripped it of any religious content. Our knowledge of civics is also abysmal. Man on the street interviews have become a national joke.
  • Some time back too many of us started letting our leaders ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted what they promised. Now our president routinely issues executive orders everyone knows are unconstitutional.
  • We created the Fed to prevent bank runs. Now we have a fiat currency that steadily loses value, and our banking system gives everyone the shivers.
  • We passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The income taxes that that amendment allowed were only supposed to affect the top one percent.
  • To allow the direct election of senators, we passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.  Now the Federal Government has more raw power than all the state governments combined. Perhaps a Convention of the States could change that. Perhaps.
  • Social Security once looked like a humane way to save the elderly from poverty. Now that costly system threatens to go bankrupt.
  • More and more our healthcare system, responsible for prolonging so many lives, is government-run. Such a system will almost certainly lead to rationing. Then we will die waiting in line to be treated.
  • We created a great safety-net to prevent the effects of poverty. Who anticipated those generous welfare programs would encourage greater social ills such as unwed motherhood?
  • In the name of civil rights, our great and glorious leaders decided to protect everyone’s “rights”. Now many think their “rights” are something “the man” owes them.

Earlier this year I wrote PART 4 FOR BOTH “HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING” AND “GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS”. That post included a section on The Seven Christian Virtues. That section describes how and why those who believe in government have worked to pervert the virtues of our people.

To have foresight is to be wise, and it is worth remembering that wisdom is something we each must learn. Our government cannot give us wisdom. It is also worth remembering that virtue is something we each must practice. Our government cannot be virtuous for us.

School Board Waffling…, AN EMAIL FROM THE FAMILY FOUNDATION

The Family Foundation of Virginia sent out the email below today.

action-alertVictoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Prince William County School Board members plan to vote tomorrow and they need to hear from you!  The Board is scheduled to vote on the school district’s newly proposed restroom/locker room policy at its meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, September 21, at 7 pm.

At the Board’s last meeting two weeks ago, parents and concerned citizens made their voices loud and clear that these kinds of changes to our schools’ so-called “non-discrimination” policies are dangerous, demeaning, unnecessary, and fraught with legal landmines. Since that time, the Board has been inundated with emails and phone calls from both sides. But we understand that the majority have come from those opposing this change.

We are also hearing that several Board members are still on the fence about how they’ll vote tomorrow.

We believe this politically-motivated policy change can be defeated, but the school board members need to hear from the people that matter most to them – parents and residents.

Please CLICK HERE to email Board members and urge them to protect the safety and privacy rights of all school children and vote no on proposed changes to the so-called “non-discrimination” policy.

Also, if at all possible, please plan to attend Wednesday’s meeting to support the privacy rights of our school children! 

You can also sign up to speak during public comment.  To sign up, you must notify the Board Clerk by phone at 703.791.8709 or by email at pwcsclerk@pwcs.edu.

As you reach out to School Board members, here are some talking points for you to keep in mind:

1)    The policy is unnecessary. Official documents reveal that PWCS has had NO incidents, complaints, or problems relating to people who identify as transgender in the past 10 years! This is a classic “solution in search of a problem.”

2)    The policy is illegal. Both state (Dillon Rule) and federal law (Title IX), as well as the U.S. Constitution (fundamental right to bodily privacy; free exercise of religion) prohibit this kind of policy. Passing it will be in direct violation of the law. The Department of Education’s “guidance documents” have no force of law.

3)    The policy is dangerous. Allowing biological boys into girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and rooms for over-night school trips puts students in real danger of assault, emotional trauma, and violates their dignity and privacy rights.

4)    Major lawsuits over similar policies are currently underway in state and federal courts. The Virginia Supreme Court is currently hearing a case on this same policy from Fairfax County Schools. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has already intervened to stop enforcement of a similar policy in Gloucester County, VA. It makes no sense to ram this change through in light of the lawsuits already underway.

5)    The policy will subject PWCS to serious liability and could cost the taxpayers millions. Not only is it likely that the School Board will be immediately sued over the legality of the policy, but the School Board will likely be liable for any harms that occur to students as a result of these policies (including the violation of students’ Constitutional right to bodily privacy). Millions of taxpayer dollars will be diverted away from education in order to defend countless lawsuits.

With enough public outcry from concerned parents, it is not too late to stop these dangerous policies that jeopardize the safety and dignity of every public school student in Prince William County.  Even in Fairfax County the school board has postponed making drastic changes due in part to citizen input.  Other school boards in Virginia have rejected the President’s bullying.  But the school board needs to hear from you!

What: Prince William County School Board Meeting

When: Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 7:00 pm

Where: Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center, 14715 Bristow Rd., Manassas, VA 20112

We hope to see you there!

The Family Foundation of Virginia is a good organization. Check it out.

Here is The Family Foundation of Virginia‘s blog post on the Prince William County School Board’s September 7th meeting.

LATEST ON THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 21st

school.pngHere is an update to IMPORTANT SCHOOL BOARD UPDATES FOR SEPTEMBER 21st MEETING. It is another email from the Chairman of the PWC Republican Committee. Continue reading “LATEST ON THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 21st”

TWO DIFFERENT ROADS

bibles_books_01Over a decade passed now, but it was then I made a surprising discovery. Much of what I had been taught in public schools is not true.

How did learn of the deception? I began reading what people call the classics and historic works. When we study history, many of these great works serve as primary source documents for historians. Therefore, I have listed a small number of historic documents in Citizen Library.

What led me to read so many seeming long and sometimes difficult works? My long commute to work was driving me batty; I needed a distraction. So I decided to listen to classic works I would otherwise never read. Because my wife and daughters are Christians, the Bible was at the top of my list.

I have since read the Bible several times by listening to it, and I have read many other far less significant historic works.  I have learned there is a crucial difference between reading about history and reading historic documents.

Consider the Bible. Will what someone else says about the Bible be true to that work? Is reading what someone else has said about the Bible the same as reading it for ourselves? No and no.

Pick your favorite dessert. How could you ever describe the taste? You cannot. That’s why we are always willing to share a small sample of our pleasure with someone we love. We have no other way to share our pleasure except to help them taste it for themselves.

The same that is true of the Bible is true of any other historic work. Unless we study the great historic work of history for ourselves, instead of being informed we risk being propagandized. Instead of learning what historic men and women had to say, politicians will tell us what they want us to believe.

Why is it important to learn the truth? What is wrong with being propagandized? In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith spoke of our desire both to be respectable and to be respected. He spoke of a choosing between two roads.

We desire both to be respectable and to be respected. We dread both to be contemptible and to be contemned. But, upon coming into the world, we soon find that wisdom and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect; nor vice and folly, of contempt. We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent. To deserve, to acquire, and to enjoy the respect and admiration of mankind, are the great objects of ambition and emulation. Two different roads are presented to us, equally leading to the attainment of this so much desired object; the one, by the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue; the other, by the acquisition of wealth and greatness. Two different characters are presented to our emulation; the one, of proud ambition and ostentatious avidity. the other, of humble modesty and equitable justice. Two different models, two different pictures, are held out to us, according to which we may fashion our own character and behaviour; the one more gaudy and glittering in its colouring; the other more correct and more exquisitely beautiful in its outline: the one forcing itself upon the notice of every wandering eye; the other, attracting the attention of scarce any body but the most studious and careful observer. They are the wise and the virtuous chiefly, a select, though, I am afraid, but a small party, who are the real and steady admirers of wisdom and virtue. The great mob of mankind are the admirers and worshippers, and, what may seem more extraordinary, most frequently the disinterested admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness. (from here)

If we want our children to be both truly respectable and to truly respected, they must study wisdom and the practice of virtue. Yet the public school system is a secular institution. When proper wisdom is Godly wisdom, we have little reason to hope our children will be taught Godly wisdom in the public school system.

Because the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue must be based upon the Truth, the study of wisdom and the practice of virtue is therefore highly controversial. As Pontius Pilate  said: “What is Truth?” (John 18:38). Then he had the Truth crucified. Thus, to avoid controversy, the public school system focuses our children’s minds on the acquisition of wealth and greatness.