Should we, as Lawrence Lessig suggests, place restrictions on campaign funding (“Free Our Democracy,” Op-Ed, July 21)? Well, campaigns are now no different from any other form of media advertising. Should we place restrictions on advertising campaigns for products and services?
While there are worthwhile and sensible rules that do regulate advertising (a modicum of truthfulness; nothing that harms outright like cigarettes, age-appropriate branding), our most effective means of countering the flood of media messages is more rigorous education to make the consumer aware.
Too bad educating the public is not a political priority.
(a) Go straight on as far as you can, and then turn left. Go on to the traffic lights and then turn right. Then keep straight on.
(b) Your general direction is north. It may be necessary sometimes to deviate, but you must use your discretion about how to get back on your course.
(c) People say that your best direction is north. But this is not known with certainty. Better make inquiries all the time.
With instructions of the first type life would not always be easy, but our task would be plain. With instructions of the second type we should know where our destination was, but not precisely how to reach it. I believe that the third type represents more closely our actual situation, and that the task which confronts us includes that of discovering the ideal as well as of finding out how to reach it.
(Leonard J. Russell, "Ideals and Practice (I)," Philosophy 17 [April 1942]: 99-116, at 103)
Children born in America today may expect to live to the year 2100. What kind of life will our children and grandchildren experience?
Will it be the American dream of our ideals: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; “equal justice under law”; democracy; equal opportunity and respect; good education and training; a satisfying job and income; security; health and shelter in a sustainable environment with safe food, water and air?
Past civilizations and great powers have risen, declined and occasionally risen again. Examples include Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, Persia, Spain, Britain and the Soviet Union.
Basic causes of past declines include environmental degradation and resource depletion; climate change, floods, droughts, famines; disease; political polarization, social conflict and civil war; military overextension and resource-draining wars; excessive debt; and subjugation by external powers.
Americans need to counter the basic causes of decline that exist here now, as well as other indicators of decline, such as workers’ shrinking share of wealth, decaying infrastructure, inflating influence of money in politics, and plunging proficiency of our political institutions in benefiting the general welfare.
Abroad we need to reverse the declining effectiveness of our efforts to realize and sustain American security, economic and political goals, while avoiding wars, especially a catastrophic nuclear war.
So what shall we do to regain and maintain the American dream for our children and grandchildren, to counter the decline of America and to avoid the disaster of war? Americans must address these questions now, before the next election. Candidates and citizens should specify and critically evaluate what they would do. After new policies are implemented, we need to continually re-evaluate them. The stakes are high—how our children and grandchildren will live, and the continuation of the American dream.
JEFFREY S. MILSTEIN
The writer served as a policy and strategic planner in the State and Defense Departments and was an assistant professor of political science and international relations at Yale.
Note from KBJ: Young people need to be taught the importance of four things:
Equal opportunity under law.
That's it. Everything else will take care of itself.
Mill's discussion of self-regarding action and the principle of liberty, in On Liberty, coheres with the metaethical account of right and wrong given in Utilitarianism. In both discussions, Mill maintains a fundamental asymmetry between self and other, corresponding to the distinction between the spheres of morality and prudence. In so doing, Mill follows the view of commonsense morality that it is foolish but not wrong to act self-destructively, and prudent but not obligatory to maximize one's own happiness even when that would be optimific. Thus Mill flouts the strict form of impartiality entailed by the metaphor of the impartial spectator, on which it makes no moral difference whose happiness or unhappiness is affected by an act. In Mill's view, morality does not treat everyone's happiness in exactly the same way (as deontic impartiality demands) even though everyone's happiness is of equal value (as axiological impartiality requires). Mill expressly rejects deontic impartiality by claiming that self-regarding but harmful acts are not amenable to moral disapprobation and that we cannot be compelled for our own good.
Any moral view that treats the agent's interests differently from others, in determining the rightness or wrongness of an action, does not adopt strict, deontic impartiality. And any view that rejects deontic impartiality is not consequentialist in the standard sense, widely adopted by philosophers and motivated in the first section of this essay. Yet Mill was a classical Utilitarian, not just because he was called a utilitarian by his contemporaries and identified himself as one, but because his moral theory is teleological and accepts the principle of utility as its axiology. Although my interpretation of Mill's view makes him a highly unorthodox utilitarian, this is in keeping with Mill's self-description, quoted earlier. Moreover, it agrees with the assessment of Mill's contemporaries such as John Grote (who termed Mill a neo-utilitarian) and Henry Sidgwick (who called Mill a "conservative utilitarian" for holding that moral rules issue in genuine obligations). Hence, there is no paradox involved in claiming that there is logical space for a utilitarian theory that rejects consequentialism, and there is considerable evidence for ascribing such a view to that most renowned, though not most orthodox, utilitarian, John Stuart Mill.
(Daniel Jacobson, "Utilitarianism Without Consequentialism: The Case of John Stuart Mill," The Philosophical Review 117 [April 2008]: 159-91, at 190-1 [italics in original; footnote omitted])
Note from KBJ: Shorter Jacobson: If you define "consequentialism" in such a way that John Stuart Mill is not a consequentialist, then you get the unsurprising result that John Stuart Mill is not a consequentialist.
Here are scenes from today's stage of the Tour de France. The winner of today's stage, Thibaut Pinot of France, averaged 20.87 miles per hour for 68.6 miles. Chris Froome, the overall leader, lost time to Nairo Quintana, but still has a lead of 1:12 going into tomorrow's ceremonial stage into Paris. Barring accident or sickness or terrorist attack, Froome will win—for the second time in three years. I'm still suspicious about his team's performance. There were many climbs in which he had one, two, or even three teammates alongside him. This, as Lance Armstrong used to say, is "not normal." The Tour organizers and cycling authorities are so corrupt that they probably wouldn't throw Froome out of the Tour even if he tested positive. It would be too damaging to the Tour and to the sport of cycling. Perhaps a few years from now we will hear about a positive but undisclosed test during the 2015 Tour.
What is “radical” Islam? “Radical” and regular Islam are merely different parts of the same spear—both have their foundation in the Qur’an, as Christianity does in the Bible. “Radical” Islam is the spear point; regular Islam is the spear shaft.
Christianity and Islam are oil and water. Biblical Christianity says that Christ is God; Islam vehemently denies that. He is a mere man—a prophet and teacher. Islam absolutely rejects Christ as the redeemer God, as “peaceful” Muslims do not need a redeemer, they say, just a guide. Thus, Islam guts Christianity, which says all sinners need the redeemer God.
Hence the very name, Christianity.
So? Three Americans died in Benghazi, “over there.” Four died in Chattanooga, over here. We cannot defeat a misidentified enemy. The constitution protects all American citizens, but we must not allow more Muslims in. And let’s drop the word “radical.”
This is delicious. Paul Krugman, who has the views of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and the values of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), both of whom died seven decades ago, realizes that young people aren't so much progressives as libertarians. They don't give a damn about labor unions, municipal monopolies, machine politics, or income inequality; they want their technology to make their lives easier, and Uber does that.
In a comment on a previous post, Mark Spahn wrote:
Pardon my unfamiliarity with bicycle-racing terminology, but does "attack" have a special meaning? Nibali, who precedes Froome on the course, looks back and sees Froome slowing down to fix a brake problem. (How can this be if Froome is the "leader", who by definition is ahead of everyone else?) Then Nibali comes back to Froome and starts attacking Froome. With what weapon? With his fists? With fierce invective? This makes no sense to me.
Mark is playing dumb, but let me explain anyway, for those who aren't. In a bicycle race, to attack another rider is to forge ahead of the other with a sudden burst of speed. The hope is that the person attacked will not be able to respond, in which case the attacker can "take time" out of him or her. The goal of the Tour de France (a three-week stage race) is to finish with the least elapsed time, so taking a few seconds (or minutes) out of one's rivals here and there can make the difference between winning and getting second place (or between finishing ninth and 10th). In 1989, Greg LeMond began the final stage (an individual time trial) 50 seconds behind Laurent Fignon. LeMond completed the course 58 seconds faster than Fignon, which gave him an eight-second overall victory. Every second counts!
Addendum: Don't confuse Froome being ahead of Nibali overall but being behind him (physically) at a particular point in a particular stage. The best riders stay together in a bunch until someone attacks, at which point those who can respond to the attack do so. Those who fail to respond are said to be "dropped." Many riders got dropped during today's climb up L'Alpe d'Huez, for example.
The New York Times is stunned to discover what anyone with a functioning brain already knows, namely, that people with marketable (especially specialized) skills command higher salaries. In the twisted view of the Times, everyone would study whatever he or she wants, from art history to economics to law to astronomy to philosophy to library science to counting grains of sand, and be compensated at the same rate. Economic illiteracy never sleeps.