Friday, April 2, 2010

Around the Web

For the week of Saturday, March 27 through Friday, April 2.

1) At the Weekly Standard, Virgina Postrel reviews "Glamour: A History" by Stephen Gundle and "Glamour in Six Dimensions: Modernism and the Radiance of Form" by Judith Brown.

2) A modest proposal for healthcare reform from the Laudator Temporis Acti.

3-4) Remembering two teachers:
  1. Siegmund Levarie, 1914-2010: conductor, musicologist and author, and teacher. Remembrances from some of his students: [Link] [Link]
  2. Jaime Escalante, inspiration for "Stand and Deliver."
5) At City Journal, Guy Sorman reviews "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy" by Joseph E. Stiglitz.
    6) At the WSJ, Peter Robinson interviews Gary Becker, Nobel economist, and founder, along with his friend and teacher the late Milton Friedman, of the Chicago school of economics.

    7) At First Things, Edmund Phelps on "Economic Justice and the Spirit of Innovation:"
    Most observers now acknowledge that capitalism, even in the midst of the 1930s depression, has long been creating unprecedented, unimagined levels of productivity and wage rates—for the rest of the world as well as for the handful of capitalist economies themselves. Now, however, some philosophers and social critics are suggesting that even capitalism has outlived its usefulness—that pursuit of new goals requires another system.

    It must be clear by now that this analysis overlooks what has been the key dimension of capitalism from its first functioning early in the nineteenth century. This dimension is what capitalism’s dynamism offers to human experience and human benefit—the true moral dimension of economics, in other words. Well-functioning capitalism, where it is attainable, is of undimmed value because it allows human beings to realize their true nature as creators and innovators.
    8) At the Economist's More Intelligent Life: What do philosopher's believe? A preliminary analysis of the results of a survey:
    Contrary to a widespread caricature, it emerges that most philosophers do not go around doubting the existence of physical objects (and thus colliding with them). Some 82% of the respondents accept or are inclined towards “non-sceptical realism” about the external world, which means they believe both that physical objects exist independently of the minds that perceive them, and that we can be said to know of their existence. Some 4.8%, though, are inclined to deny that we have certain knowledge of the existence of physical objects, and 4.2% accept or lean towards “idealism”, which is the theory that matter somehow depends on mind. As for the status of so-called “abstract” objects, such as numbers, the most popular view (scoring 39%, narrowly ahead of its closest rival) is “Platonism”, according to which abstract objects have a real existence independently of our minds.

    By a fairly narrow margin, today’s philosophers believe that judgments of artistic value are not merely matters of individual taste: 41% said aesthetic values are objective, 34% say subjective, and a quarter gave some other answer. They were not asked directly whether moral values are objective, but the responses to related questions suggest that most philosophers believe they are. Some 56% incline towards “moral realism”, which has no precise definition but implies that ethical questions have objectively right (and wrong) answers, and nearly two-thirds endorsed moral “cognitivism”, which suggests that they believe there are moral facts or truths. The results reveal little about political views, as the one question about politics is unhelpfully phrased. Respondents were asked to choose between egalitarianism (34.7%), communitarianism (14.2%) and libertarianism (9.8%); over 40% were unwilling to choose for one reason or another.
    9) In the WSJ, Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute reminds us that the rich can't pay for Obamacare:
    In short, the belief that higher tax rates on the rich could eventually raise significant sums over the next decade is a dangerous delusion, because it means the already horrific estimates of long-term deficits are seriously understated. The cost of new health-insurance subsidies and Medicaid enrollees are projected to grow by at least 7% a year, which means the cost doubles every decade—to $432 billion a year by 2029, $864 billion by 2039, and more than $1.72 trillion by 2049. If anyone thinks taxing the rich will cover any significant portion of such expenses, think again.

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