Reader-Edouard-Vuillard

The Reader – Edouard Vuillard

Once again, historian Victor Davis Hanson asks the compelling questions.

If there is evidence of collusion, shouldn’t we follow it … even if it leads away from Candidate Trump and to Candidate Clinton?  Read more here.

What is “white” and what is “privilege” ?  Who actually benefits from “white privilege”? Read more here.

Which is better, “mellifluous illegality” or “crass lawfulness”?  Apparently, it depends on whom you are talking to.  Read more here.

 

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fallenrome

It isn’t terribly provocative to note that the modern West seems to be going to way of other great civilizations trending towards decadence, corruption and immorality.  The West has more riches, more technology and more freedoms than ever before in the history of humanity.  Yet we seem content to follow in the footsteps of those great nations and empires who inevitably declined.  Why?

This week’s readings offer a view of how we have chosen for ourselves the means of our own decline.

Perhaps the most well known recent discussion of this problem is Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s essay, “Defining Deviancy Down.”  While focused on crime and family disfunction, it has a broader application to how the West has chosen to redefine conduct previously stigmatized as “abnormal” to be instead “normal” behavior.  This change in cultural norms, of course, has far reaching consequences.

This model can be applied to many aspects of modern life including politics (courtesy Daniel J. Flynn), sexual proclivity (courtesy Gary DeMar), religion (courtesy Daniel Jang) or even specific social choices such as abortion or torture (courtesy Mark Shea).  Together this “defining down,” or as previous generations would describe it, immorality, results in negative consequences for both individual and society.  If unchecked, the downward spiral continues until those virtues that made a group or nation successful are no more.

 

 

seaofsuicide

Melissa Mackenzie of the American Spectator has an excellent essay discussing “Twenty Reasons Mass Killings Happen.”  Her article includes links to several other discussions all arguing basically the same thing (albeit each with a different focus).  Our society is bent on destroying the individual through voluntary moral decay.  We choose evil over good with disastrous consequences.

mediaheads

 

David Solway writes, “The displacement of the “individual” as a primary category of social and political thought — a distinctly observable trend in the contemporary West — is an infallible sign of civilizational despair.”  You can read his full argument in “The Death of the Individual.”  While Solway concentrates on the philosophical sources of this trend, Franklin Foer points to the effects technology has on culture to demonstrate “How Silicon Valley Is Erasing Your individuality.”  Of course, the observation that the modern is “erasing” the individual is nothing new.  Aldous Huxley wrote about this in his dystopian novel, “Brave New World.”  You can hear the author discuss his predictions in this interview (from 1958):

 

 

 

The last true reform, in 1986, under Ronald Reagan, reduced tax rates without losing revenue by eliminating swathes of tax deductions. Crucially, it was a bipartisan effort, which made it easier for Congress to take on the interest groups which avidly defend the benefits they gain from carve-outs.

President Trump and the Republican controlled Congress have promised tax cuts in 2017.  They have also promised to reduce spending and make other changes to the budget.  For some background on federal taxes and budgets, I am suggesting the following brief articles.

Phil Gramm and Michael Solon describe how “Reagan Cut Taxes, Revenue Boomed.” This demonstrated how tax cuts and deregulation can work to grow the economy while relieving the burden on tax payers.  However, because of the budget challenges facing the US now, the Economist warns that “Cutting Taxes Will Not Be Easy.”  (Of course, it never is easy to make changes to the way government functions.)  But it is possible to reform both tax and budget policy.  President Coolidge balanced the budget and reduced taxes by limiting government spending.  The results were strong economic growth, reduced burden on individual and corporate tax payers, and a boost to standard of living for the middle class.  Hopefully the President and Congress are open to the “Budget and Tax Lessons from President Calvin Coolidge“.