Assorted links


Amusing to see Daniel Finkelstein, former leading light of the Social Democrats (although a centrist conservative nowadays by all accounts) being placed on a panel with Karl Rove, Mitch Daniels and the like. Although reading his interview it appears he was actually being asked to discuss british conservatism, so its not surprising his choices are rather different.

#6 link is broken.

#6, who cares who the holders of the actual debt instruments are? More important is where the credit risk is actually sitting...

Why are these considered "conservative" books? I don't believe Hayek identified as a conservative. And Milton Friedman should be considered a great liberal thinker by now.

The conservatives can keep Ayn Rand if they want, though.

Not only did he not identify as a conservative, he actually wrote an essay titled: "Why I am not a conservative". It's well worth the read and you can find it by googling it.

Hah. I just read the article about suicide bombers being bought and I thought it would fit well with the Markets-in-Everything section, and here it is!

Friedrich A Hayek, Alexis de Tocqueville, Milton Friedman, John Stuart Mill, Mancur Olson, Ayn Rand, and Charles Murray are not conservatives. How could less than half of the best conservative books of all time have been written by conservatives?

This seems to more to be more of a reflection of current sentiment than any actual real "best of" list. I believe this list would look drastically different only 6-7 years ago.

If there's books that only E. J. Dionne, whom most would recognize as being on the left, recommends ("Invisible Hands" and "American Conservatism in the Age of Enterprise") you can guess they may be about conservatives but are not conservative books (anymore than Michael Savage's "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" is). The same goes for Finkelstein, who lists two books by British historians (writing about British politicians). Whatever TheBrowser tells you, those are not on "American" conservatism. Burke likewise wasn't an American, though he is at least considered a founding father of conservatism (despite being a Whig). Inglehart's book may be interesting, but I don't think it would belong on such a list either.

I love how Leo Strauss has a book in the list but not William F. Buckley. Neither the authors of most of the books nor even most of the reviewers are really traditional conservatives.

I'm not going to defend the merits of Strauss, but that actually makes sense. Buckley was a publisher and he wrote a very large amount of books to make money (as Chris Buckley wrote, he spent a lot, but if he was able to earn enough to pay for it I have no complaints).

The voters aren't for the most part conservatives; more like Republican beltway insiders (Rove, Norquist and so on). So yes, the list is crap.

#5. Brutal. "Krugman seems to have a better grip of economics than Cowen." And the basis for this statement seems to be an ignorance of the decreasing marginal value of gov't spending. Also, I don't think the review's author understands the connection between productivity growth and economic growth, or even the difference between productivity and productivity growth. On the plus side, he does seem to stumble around the concept of productivity gains that are difficult to measure in standard econometrics.

One fascinating thing about Malick is that there is not much of a consensus about which of his films people think is his best. I guess the most common one is Badlands. (I fall into the certainly also numerous Days of Heaven camp.) I've heard many citations of New World and Tree of Life. Perhaps the one I hear praised above all the others the least is Thin Red Line, but I'm sure that also has its adherents.

Indeed, it does. For me The Thin Red Line is surely his masterpiece, for its combination of stunning cinematography, the combination of Hans Zimmer score and Melanesian choir songs, and the psychological ground it covers. Malick has his own cut over five hours long, which the studio obviously didn't go for:

Oddly enough, Karl Smith had a post about whether children are inferior goods and mentioned what people say about not wanting them here:

It just seemed too serendipitous I'd see them both today.

Anyone who thinks Mill's _On Liberty_ is a conservative book either hasn't read it, is an idiot, or thinks his audience is an idiot. I mean really. The fact that a book by George Will (!) makes the list makes me think that the "is an idiot" option is the most likely one.

The Federalist Papers - conservative? Tell that to George III. As the previous post mentioned, On LIberty is a surprise. I'd prefer Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, although he defended the American and French Revolutions, he just got appalled at all the killing later on in France.

#5 is important in advice about responsible leadership:
What it can do is argue that these new opportunities can either be secured here or they will go elsewhere. On the basis of that we need the institutions to secure the opportunities: education; regulated finance; state-supported investment; energy regulation and market-creation; home construction, financing, and distribution; science; and so much more.

Gov't education--worse than peaceful, private education.
Gov't regulated finance, when it inevitably fails, has a bigger failure than private finance, which fails more often but with smaller national/ global effects.
Gov't investment -- almost always lower Rate of Return than private, contracted investment
Gov't energy regulation & market creation -- like the failures of ethanol, worse than doing nothing
Gov't home construction support -- as done by Fannie & Freddie, biggest cause of our current Big Recession
Gov't science -- usually overpriced and military oriented rather than for increased consumer benefit.

The problem is that it seems so easy to imagine a "better world", if only the right leader/ dictator was doing the political policy preferred. Yet actual results are more disappointing, but less discussed.

Finally, Painter flatly lies: These institutions won’t necessarily spontaneously appear.
Hayek correctly claims that, if valuable, human freedom plus enforced contracts will result in peaceful institutions arising.
Probably not as fast as with a gov't program; probably with more small, early mistakes; but almost certainly with fewer long term problems.
Even "social security" would have been privately funded and supported, for most Americans, without a gov't program.

Finally, Painter flatly lies: These institutions won’t necessarily spontaneously appear.

Your problem is, government institutions do spontaneously appear, quicker than the private ones. And the private ones can't compete on price.

I don't right off see what to do about that.

People’s reasons for not having children.

I think that the risk of having a badly handicapped or bad child is one reason that keeps people from having children. I bet that the risk averse have fewer children.

Just by chance I am 3/4 of the way thru re-reading The Federalist Papers. If that is a conservative choice, how come it seems that none of them have read it? Course that also goes for the liberals. Is there a way to make all incoming Freshman Congressmen (Representatives and Senators) read and take a college level test on the book? I started reading the book because I was tired of the rancor in today's politics and wanted to remember what the Founders really had to say. All I can think is that Hamilton, Madison and Jay would be very disappointed today.

If that is a conservative choice, how come it seems that none of them have read it?

Federalists were opposed to Jeffersonians. Modern conservatives are opposed to jeffersonian slogans. They need somebody among the Founding Fathers to claim, and who else is there?

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