“Impractical laws,” Rand, integrity etc

Peter Klein writing at O&M

I hoped Christy Romer would be a voice of reason within Obama’s economic team. What was I thinking? If yesterday’s WSJ op-ed is any indication, her role has been reduced to that of cheerleader for the President’s preposterous “stimulus” program.


She knows all this. As Christy’s teaching assistant at Berkeley I saw her explain, patiently and carefully, how government programs have side effects, often unintended (she specifically used the airplane-child-safety-seat example of the Peltzman effect). All forgotten now. Some version of Lord Acton’s dictum, I guess. [all links removed]

The problem isn’t “power tends to corrupt…,” but this. (There’s a longer version of the same in the book—part 3, chapter 9—a conversation between Dominique and Wynand on honesty, integrity and power.)

The WSJ has an article on Rand and Reason has a couple of pieces on the same—this and this. Some quotes-

I have a favorite Nathaniel Branden quote I like to drag out everytime I’m in the middle of the Ayn Rand war zone, which can be found on page 542 of my book. Branden was noting that Rand’s detractors rarely deign “publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them. No one has been willing to declare: ‘Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his values and actions exclusively by reason, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force–and I consider such ideas wrong, evil and socially dangerous.”

and [Branden again]-

“The luckiest beneficiaries of [Ayn Rand’s] work are the people who read her and never see her, never meet her, never have any reason to deal with her in person. Then they get the best of what she was.”

The last one’s very interesting because of this conversation from The Fountainhead

“You are Howard Roark?” he asked. “I like your buildings. That’s why I didn’t want to meet you. So I wouldn’t have to be sick every time I looked at them. I wanted to go on thinking that they had been done by somebody who matched them.”

“What if I do?”

“That doesn’t happen.”

An infuriating letter in the TOI titled “Impractical laws have their uses”-

With reference to the Times View/Counterview (Nov 28), as the late Justice Gerald LeDain (Supreme Court Canada) emphasised, the potential for social benefit of law goes beyond its restrictive, punitive or retributive capacity, having an important symbolic and educative function which is independent of the practicality of its enforcement. Law is a powerful statement of the values of society, and can provide clear guidelines for appropriate behaviour, standards of good citizenship, and perhaps even ideal goals for society as a ‘work in progress’.

Law and administrative regulation are among the defining characteristics of a culture. Making intramarital psychological abuse against the law at a national level can encourage a subtle shift in social attitudes and behaviour.

Neither the judge, nor the writer, have a clue as to what jurisprudence is all about. By treating law as “a powerful statement of the values of society…,” society is trying to shift its responsibility over to the State. So punishment is no longer meted out for actual crimes but for what society thinks you should have done, but didn’t. The totalitarian impulse inherent in “positive liberty.”

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s