Rogue Male – A book Review

You know you have read a good novel when you pick something out of a bin by chance or happenstance, something that would not normally catch your eye or capture your imagination but laziness or curiosity causes you stop, flip a little bit through the pages and then shrug “What the heck” as you pay the dollar or two without any real expectation. But then something happens, you become engrossed in the story until you finally whisper to yourself in the quiet of night or (for me) at 3:00am suffering from insomnia “This is a great writer.” The writer, not what is written about, becomes the centerpiece of your engagement.

That is what “Rogue Male” is like. Even the title is bad, isn’t it? This short book, billeted as one of the first “thrillers” and written by Geoffrey Household – a British writer of that genre. Thriller in America connotes extraordinarily bad writing, sort of Dan Brown or Tom Clancy; people running around rapidly without ever catching their breath from one scene more incredible than the next and punctuated by either gratuitous sex or clichés which were tiresome even before they were first uttered; to say nothing of decades later. (Incidentally the movies are even worse.)

“Rogue Male” avoids all of this – it is slow moving, rhythmic. Not accentuated by unnecessary violence or action for action’s sake. In point of fact most of the story is that of the protagonist – an unidentified British man of that nation’s nobility – as he seeks to avoid capture by agents of the state of the dictator who he attempted to assassinate; or did he? Literature is different from pop fiction, as pop fiction is the cotton candy of the publishing industry while literature is about the inner life of the characters. This is particularly challenging in the case of “Rogue Male” when we get to know the protagonist and his thoughts and motivations without ever knowing who he is or anything about him – and Household pulls it off.

What particularly interested me was the protagonist’s detachment; something which we stereo-typically attribute to the British upper class, that stoic passionless coating but in the case of the protagonist here seemed to descend into Jean Paul Sartre “Abserdism”: “The absurd, to be sure, resides neither in man nor in the world, if you consider each separately. But since man’s dominant characteristic is “being-in-the-world,” the absurd is, in the end, an inseparable part of the human condition.” The protagonist, while experiencing what was the most harrowing chase any of us might have to endure, seems somehow detached from his own experience; his motivations for the assault remain throughout somewhat unclear, even when he admits the reason when caught by the dictatorship’s spies. He does not sorrow for his condition; he does not rage or despair.

All that to say, “Rogue Male” is a novel certainly worth reading and internalizing; not for any great reason of personal betterment but because Household is a master craftsman whose skill is meant to be enjoyed.

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The Power of Progress

Words are funny things, slippery and somehow hard to pin down; little moving targets making thought difficult or missiles correctly aimed in order to destroy in far worse ways than the whips and chains of old. Language has always been political; and command over its use and meaning the ultimate prize of those who seek to rule.

Vaclav Havel in his seminal short-book on Eastern European totalitarianism said this: “The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.”

Cue the word “progress”. No word is perhaps more contended today. The dictionary defines progress as “forward or onward movement towards a destination,” or “development towards an improved or more advanced condition”, begging the questions “Which destination?” and what is a “More advanced condition?”

The authors of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) identified their progressive destination as an end to European war and their more advanced condition as the separation of church and state. “…the Treaty of Westphalia acknowledged local rulers of differing degrees of seniority – emperors, kings, princes – as equally sovereign, and at the same time removed a significant portion of the temporal power hitherto enjoyed by the catholic church.” On the political front, that was perhaps the greatest leap forward, “…not so much because it ended one of the greatest and most widespread conflicts seen in Europe prior to the 20th century – it was signed at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 – but because it is supposed to have contained clauses that helped to establish the concept of the nation state, defining what it sometimes known as “Westphalian sovereignty” and setting up what political scientists term ‘the international system’.”

But our system is wearing down a little bit, setting us up for the next debate about ‘progress’; which has been taken over by some who actually propose a regress into spent ideas of control, regulation, permission-seeking – and fear. Cue the “Green New Deal” which is quite actually a very old deal indeed; a regurgitation of a 200 year old economic recipe (Marxism) which has never worked, which can’t work and like Havel said is actually a bait and switch meant to advance that which it claims to oppose. Now to be sure the newer Marxists don’t really want to control the means of production (Vertical chicken cooperatives? Rooftop vegetable gardens? Worker committee meetings late into the night to decide who gets the wayward pencil of can of beans that week? – its all too much work). No, the new Marxists prefer to control those who control the means of production – exerting oppressive influence over their “Managerial Revolution” as they assure that the managers in our overly managed society think the right things, say the right things, do the right things and – most importantly – ostracize from society the ideas that they find offensive, hurtful… Unsafe. Winning a debate is easier when nobody can say anything; a power grab is best accomplished by scaring off your foes before even having to fight them.

So reclaiming that word, what would real progressivism look like? It would seem to me that the next great step in progress, which for those of us who believe that both the “destination” and the “more advanced condition” inherent in the word progress is the right to be free (here I’ll steal from Aristotle, who saw freedom as “to live as one wishes and to rule and be ruled in turn”), is to finish the task we started in Westphalia by finally separating state and economy. Sure, this is scary – just as scary perhaps as the unknown of a Europe 400 years ago released from Church supervision. But what glories await us, when we at last turn the page on the last vestiges of mercantilism and feudalism and free our states from acting in locus forum (in the place of the markets) to do what it is they are best at doing; guaranteeing equality before the law; protecting our commons; keeping us safe; and building a safety net so that those who are most disadvantaged do not slip through the cracks? We should find out!

Now that would be progress!!!

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A Green New Deal? – Part IV

Well this has been fun, distilling the “Green New Deal” into bite-size chunks (sorry for oversimplifying things, for which I will be routinely pilloried – as it is, this has been too long and I have risked becoming a bore). In Part I we discussed the “New Deal” legacy and how it is an inappropriate and at the end ineffective recipe to achieve the success we are looking for in saving our planet. Its results are much more mixed than the big-government crowd would like you to believe and are certainly more damaging to our republic than we can perhaps weather these days; we are weaker today, more divided, more indebted and more partisan and infinitely less wise. In Part II we discussed ignorance and hubris, of why biases and errors in logic matter and the ‘local knowledge problem’ which socialism has never been able to fix, and never will, and which leads too often to famine – the latest playing out right now in Venezuela. And in Part III we talked about America, her experiment and her past and her amazing future which, as President Trump said in his State of the Union, will be reborn with the ‘Re-igniting of America’s Imagination.’

But what does all this have to do with environmentalism, you may ask? Here goes… When we free our government from acting in locus forum, then we can adequately use our collective power to deal with ‘the tragedy of the commons’. And of course government has a role, even a primary role, in protecting our environment. I am old enough to recall the Ozone layer depletion problem of the 80’s, when hair spray and refrigerators and air conditioners were going to result in all of us getting skin cancer and dying off. It was the “climate change” crisis of the moment; which has since been solved. The solution did not involve a massive wealth-transfer to third world dictators or a nationalization of the air conditioner and hair spray industry; instead new technologies were developed by the private sector while governments of the world worked together to ban the offending substances and we moved on. I too recall the deforestation crisis, when America was going to be left bald and barren (like the Sahara and increasingly the Sahel is today). We fixed that too; “Deforestation has been more than offset by reforestation between 1990 and 2010. The nation added 7,687,000 hectares (18,995,000 acres) of forested land during that period. The trend in reforesting areas has been driven by organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Arbor Day Foundation.”

I could go on, but the point being we have examples of problems and solutions. The issue at hand is how to arrive at those solutions within the confines of our law-based democracy (where protection of private property is of paramount concern). Its about approach, really – about philosophy. I remember in the 2008 Obama/McCain campaign when the issue of dependence upon fossil fuels emerged into the debate, President Obama said, “What Washington has done is what Washington always does: It’s peddled false promises, irresponsible policy and cheap gimmicks that might get politicians through the next election but won’t lead America toward the next generation of renewable energy.” One of the few times I agreed with him (important to note here is when he arrived he also did what Washington always does, over-regulation causing dependence upon foreign oil until the Frackers on private land turned North Dakota into Ellis Wyatt’s Colorado). The ideas were wrong; and therefore ultimately ineffective. I remember specifically the “better car battery” debate he had with John McCain, “When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn’t put a bounty (McCain’s proposal to offer a $300 million prize to whoever is able to develop a suitable battery) out for some rocket scientist to win – he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people – not just in the private sector but also in the public sector.” A telling example indeed, our nationalized big-government space program has languished forever for want of innovation and daring, and we still have a car battery problem.

So what to do? It is not simple, and there are no silver bullets or magic potions. We must do many things! We should set in place ‘bounties’ for the epic technological advancements we require; we should involve the private sector and let the markets lead us through innovation and imagination to the sustainable solutions of tomorrow. We should use the bully pulpit of the presidency and congress and Hollywood and the media to inspire the hearts of our people to modify behaviors, not through force which creates only coerced change (which never lasts and always backfires) but through passion and understanding. We should raise money through issuing ‘green bonds’ for purchase by those who care, or maybe even a lottery system or a dollar-for-dollar tax write-off for donations – all placed into green funds managed by experts who know what to look for when seeking out promising ventures. Yes, we should ban plastic forever – like the Rwandan government has. We should extend reforestation credits like the Costa Ricans have. We should reinvest in nuclear and solar and wind energy, like we are – not with crony handouts to groups like Solyndra but through funds managed by people who know, to support initiatives of people who care and whose moral hazard is total. Let us respect the principles of our extraordinary American experiment, let us unleash America’s amazing imagination and set in motion the spontaneous order guided morally as is always best by a country at peace with itself and its place in the world and ready again to lead in the only way that matters, by example. As Abraham Lincoln said, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

And a “green revolution”? As Albert Camus once said, “Revolt and revolution both wind up at the same crossroads: the police, or folly.” Police or prosperity; folly or blessing? I know which one I choose. What about you?

I hope you have gotten as much out of this little exercise as I have. The real reason that people write is to force themselves to distill thoughts in their heads, create arguments, make their case – to think. It is an exercise in learning with oneself as the main beneficiary of the effort, and any spillover into the public debate is an unintended positive outcome. This process has forced me to think and to read and to learn; and I will keep doing so. That is, after all, the point of life.

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A Green New Deal? – Part III

As I think through our current environmental problem, I realize that I am not the most sanguine of interlocutors. I do not see our future brightly, perched as I am at the inverse of epicenter where the waves of destruction and corruption and incompetence that radiate outwards from the core in patterns of mayhem have reached their most powerful.

I recognize that I myself suffer from ‘negativity bias’ and ‘declinism’; that I see the world through the lens of ‘The Coming Anarchy’ and our arriving ordeal. I read Pinker and Deaton and my eyes narrow while the corners of my mouth turn down in skepticism. I am a product of what I have known, like everybody is – of too long in places where people have made bad decision one after the other and the other for generations until the sand has advanced to cover ancient once-opulent cities which in the dark past have hosted nighttime visits of the elephant herds and which today welcome only the jihadis from their sandy sanctuaries. National suicides which plucked out the eyes of great cities that had art and theater, gardens and museums and in which now can be found only desperation and famine. Farmers who poison an entire family of lions to protect their worm-ridden goats; soldiers who strip-mine thousands of kilometers of pristine Amazon jungle, reducing the floor to mud laced with arsenic and mercury in search of elusive gold dust to fund their greed. Poor women chopping down the last tree of the Sahara to convert it into charcoal in order to boil the last tiny fishes taken from a desiccated lake, before packing their possessions into a green-plastic basin carried on their head to the camps, to be fed there through a process which requires no effort and to sit around in silent expectation, but for what? And all under the watchful supervision of our new aristocracy.

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Am I wrong? Are my biases coloring my thinking? Sure they are. But ask yourself this question, if you believe as I do – or even if you don’t, but still concede that things are not going swimmingly – do you really think that siphoning off money from our economy to pump it in greater and greater and greater flows into projects pre-cooked by a group of know-nothings sitting in a stately old building atop a swamp will solve our world’s problems? Men and women of almost complete moral hazard flying in private planes around the world to discuss over opulent meals the strangling of the west? If the releasing of the American imagination has (so far) brought us solutions to the problems that have ailed our world, will the closing of the American mind under the weight of prejudice and regulation at the hands of nameless bureaucrats be the answer? I think we know it will not.

As I have indicated before, I am not a scientist. I have not been sitting patiently in the musty interior of the patent office carrying out menial duties while my mind probes the depths of the unknown. I would like to be, but we all have different talents and gifts and the better part of wisdom is to accept that “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”, as Confucius said.

I do like to think about economics, about the way we self-govern and how people naturally co-operate through competition in our market system which has brought about the extraordinary bounty which we enjoy today. And there are some principles which have governed our modern economic experiment (that which began with the industrial revolution) which will help us fix our new environmental problem, the next in a long line of problems which we Americans have solved. Incidentally these principles are the ones the socialists and Marxists always defy, a defiance unto death that a “Green New Deal” seeks to repeat. Here are some, each of which have been studied extensively and are represented by extraordinary works of scholarship by the great minds (I can give you a reading list if you want). The first, primary concern which we all must come to terms with is scarcity; a condition the socialists refuse to accept. We cannot do everything; there is not enough wealth “to go around” and efforts to spread it all around result only in corruption and economic disruption (due to the local knowledge problem). The market is the only way to aggregate decision-making well enough to allocate those scarce resources efficiently through the process of spontaneous order with the profit motive serving as the last/best signal to the market of where resources should be spent and without which malinvestment occurs, resulting in the booms and the busts and wealth destruction. Regulation tends toward the creation of monopolies and drives away competition because the larger more established companies have the excess money to navigate new regulations while startups cannot, and this disrupts the process of creative destruction; and the government picking winners and losers in their regulatory and stimulus efforts wastes scarce resources and kills innovation. I recommend you read Henry Hazlitt “Economics in One Lesson” for a great primer on how economies function.

But isn’t capitalism itself causing the mess? No, it is actually crony capitalism which is the problem; just like the co-mingling of church and state created some of the most horrific wars and abuses of the middle ages, co-mingling of state and economy has done so for our times. Until we extirpate government manipulation from our economy (including stimulus packages, management of our fiat-based currency, debt-based growth through artificially low interest rates, etc.) we will continue to over-spend, over-consume and over-pollute. And until we fix the perverse incentives we use to attempt to force poor, corrupt countries to do as we wish we will see environmental degradation in the third world – where it is the worst – continue to accelerate. For poverty is indeed the greatest polluter.

But when are we going to talk about environmentalism? Stay tuned for Part IV.

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A Green New Deal? – Part II

Continuing on my musings about a “Green New Deal” (see Part I here), since it seems to be the flavor of the week for those who seek emergency powers over me and mine in order to steal my stuff, I think here in Part II it might be fun to talk about ignorance. To be sure, nobody wants to be called ignorant; everybody wants to be seen as the smartest person in the room and looked to for wisdom. A prominent senator in an interview recently said, “…we need to speak to the heart (…) We have a really hard time doing that (because) we Democrats know so much, that is true. And we have kind of have to tell everyone how smart we are and so we have a tendency to be very left brain.” This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect: “In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.” Quite literally, the smarter you are the less confident about what you think you know about the world around you. Nobel Prize winning economist (see, this is what is called ‘appeal to authority’) Friedrich Hayek once wrote, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

So much of the problem with socialism is the dim-bulbs who think they know more than they actually do; and so confident are they in themselves due to ‘the spotlight effect’ (overestimating how much people notice them) that they believe it is their historic task to seize the levers of power through control of the government to advance ill-founded ideas which ‘confirmation bias’ and ‘belief bias’ have made to them self-evident. The problem of course is that the things of which they are so sure are in fact hotly contested by really smart people who look at the data and come up with different conclusions.

So the socialists resort to bad argumentation as they try to make their case to a skeptical public using all the rhetorical tricks in the book (probably without knowing it). It goes something like this. First they start with the ‘straw man’, attacking a position that their opponent doesn’t really hold. “You don’t care about the environment, all you care about is profit. You are happy to see the world destroyed.” Of course, this puts the opponent immediately on the defensive, attempting to explain why they really do care about the environment, which looks to the casual observer reactive and serves to drive home the point of the attacker. Then they continue with a ‘causal fallacy’, “The reason that the environment is degraded is rising CO2 levels, and the only way to solve this is with emergency government action.” This stems from the aforementioned (and below-mentioned) biases, using the fallacy of ‘appealing to authority’, “You know, the UN panel on climate change said it!” and continuing with ‘bandwagon fallacy’ “And everybody agrees, who are you to disagree? Its time to get with the program” which taken together do not allow us as a civilization to truly debate the environmental challenges from different points of data interpretation, in order to find a workable solution. And then, quickly to hammer home the point they go on, “Have you seen the slums of Dhaka?” they say, “which will be flooded and all those little children drowned!” in an ‘appeal to pity’ which distracts from logical arguments. Nobody wants to see children drowned – how do you counter that? They then wrap up their case with a ‘false dichotomy’, presenting only two options one of which is so ridiculous as to be risible (back to ‘straw man’), “Either we adopt the ‘Green New Deal’ in its entirety or the planet will become uninhabitable and all humanity will die.” Then they end on a personal note, an ‘ad hominem’ attack, “Of course you don’t care, you with your big house and your expensive car. You with your white privilege are just a pawn for big business; a thief and a liar and probably a criminal. You should be in jail!” And the argument is done, both sides furious and less likely than ever to seek real debate.

Of course these problems are a direct result of our failing public education system which produces graduates who have a very real difficulty thinking, because they have never been taught the building blocks of thought itself. Back in the days of classical education there was one ideal for education. To achieve this ideal students learned languages (Latin and Greek), grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. This ideal—the man who would think truly and act rightly—was the goal of Greek education. This was the education of the Romans and the Greeks (and everyone who lived in the Hellenic world, including the Jews). It was the education of the Christian Middle Ages, of the American Founding Fathers, and of their Puritan predecessors. It was the prevailing education into the early 20th century before it was gradually thrown out over a period of about 40 years.”

What does this all have to do with environmentalism? Cue the “New Deal” references which are a result of ‘group-think’ product of ‘in group bias’ whereas people unjustly favor the opinions of those with whom they agree, eschewing real research which proves they are wrong though the ‘backfire effect’ by which people double down when challenged. As discussed before, the “New Deal” itself was not only bad policy, but fundamentally dangerous to our democracy. We are resilient and strong, a freedom-loving people who do not suffer fools lightly, yet still we almost lost our republic. There is no reason, outside the biases and fallacies previously discussed, to believe that socialism through a “Green New Deal” will lead us to any different place than it led Venezuela – that is bonfires of human flesh beside a bread line. In Venezuela Heinz Dieterich, the father of 21st Century Socialism presented Venezuela’s socialists with a seductive new theory which he called Economy of Equivalencies in which he attempted to solve the age-old ‘local knowledge problem‘. “(…) Dieterich argues  that the element that makes the practice of an economy of equivalencies possible in the 21st century is the rapid advance of information technology. It is, in fact, the information revolution that allows the immediate calculation of the billions upon billions of transactions each purchase or sale would require. In his mind, the price then would be pure and he would have solved the problem which led ‘Value of Labor’ to fail.” Did Dieterich succeed?

No, which is quite obvious today by Venezuela’s collapse.

Do we believe, then, that socialist green-planning can also solve the local knowledge problem; that the massive spreadsheets centrally planning a “green revolution” can account and adjust for all variables in a dynamic and changing world? No, we who are students of history and who seek knowledge for the betterment of ourselves and our world cannot rightly be expected to believe that. What then, if not some massive socialist takeover of our republic, will save the world? In Part III of this series I’m gonna try to present some principles (not actual ideas – I am not a scientist myself) by which we can arrive at workable solutions. Because it is workable solutions that are most missing these days.

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A Green New Deal? — Part I

People are fond of talking about a “New Deal” whenever they seek a big-government solution to a problem. This is because most uninformed (and even some informed) believe that the “New Deal” legacy is an uncontested historical fact proving how a massive government bureaucracy saved America from becoming the next Haiti or Bolivia; a spirit which can be conjured at will and unopposed as a proxy for informed public policy-making when seeking to promote the next power grab.

Of course this is actually nonsense – in fact the best academic research indicates that the “New Deal” programs actually extended the depression by perhaps seven or eight years. “Macroeconomic model builders have finally realized what Henry Hazlitt and John T. Flynn (among others) knew in the 1930s: FDR’s New Deal made the Great Depression longer and deeper. It is a myth that Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘got us out of the Depression’ and ‘saved capitalism from itself,’ as generations of Americans have been taught by the state’s educational establishment.”

However you don’t have to be a Hazlitt lover (spoiler alert, I am) to recognize the ill effects of the New Deal on America’s economy. Even UCLA’s economics department, not to be mistaken by anybody for a bastion of neo-liberal free-market libertarianism, released a few years back their seminal study of data from the New Deal era, and their conclusions are noteworthy (because they are the same); “President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services,” said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. “So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies.”

Economists still argue about what the actual solutions were, some saying WWII spending (also wrong) and others reminding us that it was the influx of real money in the form of gold bullion spirited away from a Europe at war and which placed in American banks allowed for a surge of powerful liquidity injecting stimulus money from which emerged our newfound prosperity. There are many other reasons, of course; all of them pointing out that the New Deal was a disaster economically (if you want a better example of how to recover from a depression, look to the Warren Harding policies which brought us out of our 1920-21 depression in only 18 months; more on that in another post). But not only was it nefarious to our pocketbooks; it also brought America close to political suicide by giving FDR such extraordinary control and power over America that he glided through four terms in office, a fact so dangerous it necessitated a change in our founding documents (via the 22nd Amendment). Now I do believe FDR was a good man, and this fact saved us from suicide; but what if he had been Hugo Chavez or Daniel Ortega or Huey Long?

This is of course what the “Green New Deal” people are hoping for, to use environmentalism as a Trojan horse; a political third rail by which they can ride freely into power using logical fallacies (most notably those of the straw man and false dichotomy driven home by ad-hominem attacks when we object – more on that later too) and a sense of emergency which knows no debate. Remember socialism is a grand conspiracy, a colossal bait and switch where they get money and power and position and we get nothing.

Now I’m not asking you to believe me; let’s instead travel to the most recent attempt to marry environmentalism and socialism: Socialist Venezuela. Hugo Chavez, when he was assembling his coalition of activists and hippies (locally and internationally) to defend his power grab against those who would naturally object, also declared himself and his revolution ‘environmental’. “We have to insist upon the creation of a new socialist, indoamerican, maritime, Bolivarian model; one that distances us from planetary destruction.” And we all have seen what has happened there – the murder of the animals and the rape of the forests and the starvation of the zoo creatures. But during the energetic days of the revolution, who would object…? inviting oneself to become a victim of the social justice warriors and their assault on the reputations and families and livelihoods of those who pointed out that this was only the path to destruction.

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A Tiger in Venezuela’s Caracas Zoo (be angry, I am)

Of course we who love our world object to this “New Deal” socialist big-government approach to environmentalism; because in the scenario that they win, what do you think happens to the animals? For at least we can defend ourselves, we can march and vote and rebel; they can only die. Don’t believe me, just ask Venezuela’s animals – oh that’s right you can’t, they are already dead.

**P.S. I’ve been accused sometimes of pointing out problems without speaking of solutions. Fair enough. Because we who carry the torch of God’s instructions deep in our hearts when he told us that our job here was to “care for and to keep” his garden know that the suggested approaches by the socialists and Paris Accord people only lead to bonfires of human flesh beside a bread line (while the animals are hunted through the jungles and the last of Africa’s trees are burned for charcoal to fire the cooking fires in which the last tiny fishes taken from a desiccated lake are fried) also know that there is a better way and that comes in the unleashing of the imagination of those who have the ideas to free us from our arriving ordeal. So I will write about that in Part II; continuing into Part III.

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https://joelhirst.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/to-work-it-and-keep-it-the-real-answer-to-environmentalism/

https://joelhirst.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/forgetting-venezuelas-animals/

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Narnia

“It’s an allegory—” “But what’s an allegory?” my little boy interrupted me. I searched my mind. He always asks such good questions, for the definitions and nature of things that we ourselves learned once and internalized before moving on, never to revisit. “An allegory is a story that refers to something else, that points to a different deeper story or truth. Narnia is an allegory about Jesus.” “Oh” he said.

I just finished the “Chronicles of Narnia” with my little boy – all of them, one chapter at a time each night. He is pretty proud of himself, having read a “big boy book” (one with no pictures) with me and finished it – all 767 pages. Narnia – because it is a story about faith, an epic tale of dragons and dwarfs and witches all jockeying for position and power against a powerful presence who remains distant and terrifying but also intervenes when necessary: Aslan the lion.

I’ll be honest, this was the first time I’d read Narnia in its entirety. I did not realize that it was the story of a whole world; the birth of its inhabitants through the different phases of their civilization, from dictatorship of the white witch and wars with the Calormenes and coups and palace intrigue and finally its collapse when the giant, Father Time, destroys it. Until it is reborn again into something new and much more beautiful. Throughout, two external forces exert themselves into the natural rhythm of history: the first is Aslan – the creator, the allegorical figure of Jesus – and the second are the human siblings Susan, Peter, Edmund and Lucy, who observe the entire life-cycle of the world.

Classical literature draws from the deep magic to preserve for humanity the truths which must be held and cherished from one generation to the next, through the medium of a story which is more indelible than the passing profanity of our times and more lasting than the hardest stone. Good and evil, right and wrong, destiny and will, fate and responsibility, wickedness and honor – they all come together in this children’s story. Most people only read “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” for it is by far the best of the seven; but in doing so (as I did) one misses the point of the series, interjecting oneself as one does then into one chapter of a sweeping and epic story. Sure, its easier but who said classical literature is easy?

As for me, I am on a quest to etch onto the consciousness of my son the truths that are self-evident and that never change and which are derived from literature, from stories and the chance that they give us to talk about the unbounding wisdom and the deep magic, things that will make him a fine man one day; and it gives me a chance to sit with him and read for a half hour each night and watch his eyes light up as the witch is vanquished and the lion is reborn – What can be better than this?

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