Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Around the World Wide Web 15

1. It is not often you see an original theoretical idea in a blog post. I think Mike's Eyes has done it in a post on infant epistemology based on first-hand observations of infant behavior. If there were a "10 Best Posts by Objectivist Bloggers" at the end of the year, I believe this would make the list.

2. A look at Hillary Clinton's economics:

Quick quiz: What does Hillary Clinton think is a "great organizing principle" for the American economy? Increasing our standard of living? Maximizing economic growth and economic freedom, maybe? Putting a chicken in every pot, perhaps? Nope, none of those. In a speech to the Chicago Economic Club last spring, she suggested that climate change would be a cool concept to organize an economy around.

And if government is going to make climate change or energy independence or whatever an explicit "organizing principle" for an economy, it means a return to a once edgy concept from the 1980s: industrial policy—government favor and aid to certain "strategic" industries, whether through subsidies or trade barriers—in pursuit of some national goal.

There's another name for industrial policy: fascism.

3. George Carlin on the 10 Commandments. Stand-up comedy at its best.

4. Turkey is voting itself into the Middle Ages.

5. Dana Gioia is Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a government agency that should not exist. In a recent commencement address he bemoned "The Impoverishment of American Culture." He makes some interesting observations and some inane points.

There is an experiment I'd love to conduct. I'd like to survey a cross-section of Americans and ask them how many active NBA players, Major League Baseball players, and "American Idol" finalists they can name. Then I'd ask them how many living American poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, architects, classical musicians, conductors and composers they can name. I'd even like to ask how many living American scientists or social thinkers they can name.

Fifty years ago, I suspect that along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax, most Americans could have named, at the very least, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Georgia O'Keeffe, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention scientists and thinkers like Linus Pauling, Jonas Salk, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead and especially Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

I don't think that Americans were smarter then, but American culture was.

What does Gioia blame for the woeful decline of American culture? First, commercialization. The only problem with this is that culture was freer and more commercialized 50 years ago. He also blames public education for cutting arts funding and he blames intellectuals and artists for not communicating with the middle class. He advocates more arts funding in public schools. He misses the essential cause of our cultural decline, the decline of philosophy.

And why is an understanding of art good?

These cultural activities seem to awaken a heightened sense of individual awareness and social responsibility.

By "social responsibility" he means that people who are actively engaged in the arts tend to do more volunteer work. So it's good to teach Dante and Goethe because then we have more altruists serving in soup kitchens!

America's cultural decline will not be halted by the NEA. We would be far better off leaving taxpayers their money to spend as they want. There are many individuals throughout America working for philosophic and artistic change who will do more good than Gioia and his government agency.

6. Hugo Chavez says foreigners who criticize him will be deported. You can't go to Venezuela and badmouth the big guy. I have to think a lot of American politicians look at his dictatorship with envy. If only they could handle their critics so efficiently, then they could really get things done here!

1 comment:

Mike N said...

Myrhaf:
Thanks for the plug.

Mike N