Judy Shelton for Fed?

My friend and sometime co-author Alexander William Salter has written an excellent piece in National Review in which he makes the case for confirming Judy Shelton as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. It’s “Confirm Judy Shelton to the Fed Board of Governors,” National Review, November 16, 2020.

Alex writes:

There are three strikes against Shelton in the eyes of her detractors. The first is her fond view of the gold standard, a decidedly gauche position among monetary economists. The second is her academic background: Her Ph.D. is in business administration, not economics, and was awarded by a non-elite university besides. The third is her perceived partisanship, which Shelton skeptics contend would reduce the political independence of the Fed.

Alex answers each in turn. You can go to his article and see if you’re convinced. I am.

One highlight from his piece is his defense of the classical gold standard, not that Shelton would have much chance to move us toward it:

And let’s be clear: It does work just fine. Specifically, the “classical” gold standard, which prevailed from 1879 to 1914, in many respects outperformed the system we have now. (It’s important to specify which gold standard we mean. The “gold-exchange” standard that prevailed between World Wars I and II was awful, largely because central banks mucked it up.) In an important paper comparing the pre- and post-Fed periods, George Selgin, William Lastrapes, and Lawrence White found that “the Fed’s full history . . . has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed’s establishment.” In a subsequent study, Thomas Hogan found that GDP growth was better in the pre-Fed period, while inflation and inflation volatility (a key measure of purchasing power predictability) were worse.

When I wrote about Shelton in July, I leaned in favor but didn’t know enough to take a position. But even without reading Alex’s piece, I had come in the last few months to the view that Shelton should be confirmed. And my reason doesn’t have to do with monetary policy but with industrial policy. If you judge the Fed solely on the basis of monetary policy, you’re leaving out a lot of what they do. The Fed Reserve is now a practitioner of industrial policy, picking winners and losers.

I wrote at the end of July:

Moreover, the Federal Reserve, which took on new powers during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, is going further down that path. In a March 23 press release the Fed states, “The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time.” The release then goes on to list various assets that the Fed will buy, including corporate bonds and municipal government bonds. We used to think of the Fed as the agency whose main purpose was to keep inflation low. That’s so 20th century. The Fed is now essentially the agency that gets to decide which investments are important; it is conducting an industrial policy in all but name.

I’m fairly confident that Shelton is sufficiently against central planning to oppose these Fed powers. And certainly I think she would favor them less than almost all, or maybe all, the other Fed governors.

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Is the Absolute Number of Deaths the Only Thing That Matters?

 

Answer: It depends on the question we’re trying to answer.

In a post about Covid-19 deaths, Tyler Cowen writes:

By the way, deaths as a percentage of population isn’t the right metric here.  Losing 320,000 lives (including excess deaths) has about the same moral import, whether or not there are a billion Morlocks living under the earth’s surface, though that fact would change the loss greatly as measured in percentage terms and of course make it look much smaller.

Let’s start with a question that absolute deaths is the relevant metric for.

A murderer in Andorra kills 10 people. A murderer in China kills 10 people. In each case the victims are innocent.

Question: Is the murderer in Andorra, who has killed a much higher percent of Andorra’s population, more evil than the murderer in China who has killed a much lower percent of China’s population?

Answer: No.

So here’s where Tyler Cowen’s point is correct. And of course, to his credit, he makes clear that he’s talking about the moral point.

But let’s ask a different question: Which country do you want to live in if you know that there’s a murderer at large who plans to murder 10 people in that country? (Assume everything else about these countries is the same so that we can isolate the effect of the 10 murders.)  Would you want to live in Andorra or in China?

 

 

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Being Normal

I’ve always been weird, but at this point in my life I feel like I understand non-weird people quite well.  If you’re still baffled, my weird friends, one simple principle captures most of what you need to know.

 

The Principle of Normality: A normal person says what others say, but does what others do.

 

Notice that this principle captures two distinct features of normality.

First, conformism.  People dislike expressing views or taking actions unless other people express the same views and take the same actions.

Second, the chasm between words and actions.  Normal people lack integrity.  They feel little need to bring their actions in harmony with their words – or their words in harmony with their actions.

Example: A normal person will say, “We should do everything possible to fight global warming” – yet donate zero to environmental charities.  How can they cope with the cognitive dissonance?  Because this psychological experience is alien to them.  They speak environmentalist words to echo the environmentalist words they hear other people say.  They donate zero to environmental charities because to mimic what they see other people do.

For normal people, Social Desirability Bias is far more than a bias; it is their way of life.

Once you understand the Principle of Normality, my weird friends, you are also ready to look in the mirror and understand weirdness in all its manifestations.  While some weird people exhibit multiple manifestations, most weird people strongly emphasize just one.  (I think).

Manifestation #1: Saying unconventional things.  Some weird people like speaking about odd, off-putting, or socially disapproved topics, despite strong social pressure.  Picture the comic book nerd, the gaming nerd, the literary nerd, or the anti-religious nerd.  They still live much like other people; they just say weird things.

Manifestation #2: Doing unconventional actions.  Other weird people focus on doing odd, off-putting, or socially disapproved things, again despite strong social pressure.  Picture the polyamorist, the punker, the Hare Krishna (in Western societies), or the junkie.  They still speak much like other people; they just do weird things.

Manifestation #3: The integrity of good.  A third variety of weird person starts with plausible, even popular verbal premises.  Then they stun the rest of the world by striving to bring their behavior into strict conformity with these premises.  Picture the Effective Altruist, the vegan, the abolitionist, or the proponent of radical honesty.

Manifestation #4: The integrity of evil.  The last variety of weird person starts with bizarre verbal premises that seem absurd unless you’re thoroughly brainwashed.  They they horrify the rest of the world by striving to bring their behavior into strict conformity with these premises.  Picture the Islamic fundamentalist, the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary, or the theonomist.

 

To point out the obvious: Manifestation #4 is responsible for almost all of the political horrors of the last three centuries.  Most weird people are not violent fanatics, but all violent fanatics are weird.  So while I’m personally high on Manifestations 1, 2, and especially 3, I can understand why weird people tend to frighten normal people.  In defense of the weird, however, I have to point out that most moral progress comes from Manifestation #3 – the abolition of slavery being the greatest example.  Normal people rarely initiate awful crimes on their own, but once violent fanatics make awful crimes normal, normal people will support them by word and deed.

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Redeeming Tenure

Tenure is terrible.  Well, it’s awesome for those of us who have it.  The tenure system, however, is nonsense on stilts.  Economists’ rationalizations for tenure are flimsy indeed.  Just consider: Virtually all semi-prestigious professors have tenure, yet virtually no one in the for-profit sector has anything close.  I know, we can construct fanciful scenarios where this chasm makes sublime economic sense, such as: “Professors are willing to sacrifice vastly more in salary than normal humans to eliminate the last vestiges of job insecurity” plus “Giving professors enormous job security has far less effect on their productivity than it would on normal humans.”  But neither claim is remotely plausible.  Lots of non-professors intensely value job security, and lots of professors heavily slack off once they get tenure.

Still, no individual professor is responsible for this corrupt system.  And it’s hardly reasonable (or even useful) for an individual professor to renounce his tenure, whatever that might mean.  It is reasonable, however, to ask: “How can my tenure be redeemed?”

The obvious starting point is: Don’t shortchange your students merely because you have tenure.  Take pride in your teaching.  Strive to edify and inspire even though the career rewards are trivial.

Next: Produce excellent research even though you totally don’t have to.  Take pride in your contributions to human knowledge.  Push yourself on both quantity and quality.

When you ponder these norms, however, they’re more rigorous than they look.

Suppose you’re teaching labor economics.  Can you “strive to edify and inspire” if you gloss over intensely controversial subjects like the economics of discrimination?  Absolutely not.  You can’t take pride in your teaching while muttering, “Students can’t handle the truth.”   The forthright yet friendly exploration of vital yet sensitive topics is part and parcel of great teaching.  And while untenured teachers can plausibly protest, “I’ve got to think about my family’s security,” those of us with tenure know where our next paycheck is coming from.  While there’s a small chance the administration hassles you, that’s a minor cost in the broad scheme of things.  If tenured professors won’t voice awkward truths, who will?

Much the same hold for research.  Slightly extending human knowledge on a topic no one cares about is rarely a worthwhile intellectual contribution.  In a world of anxious conformists, most of the best research opportunities are mired in controversy – especially in the humanities and social sciences.  If you want to create research that really matters, you should boldly proceed.  Tenure takes care of your family, but who will put food on the table of ugly truths?  Most of the time, the answer is: You or no one.

So make it you.

If you use your tenure to teach and research with integrity, you’re well above the bar.  Yet if you’re earnest about redeeming tenure, you should also deploy it to defend the integrity of teaching and research in general.  Untenured faculty can forgivably give their mouths shut and their heads down.  Those of us with tenure, however, are the obvious candidates to “give back”: To aggressively defend the rights of faculty and students to explore controversial ideas without fear.  And bear in mind: for we professors, the only “controversial ideas” worthy of the name are ideas that are controversial on university campuses.  Noam Chomsky may be more controversial than Milton Friedman in the broader world, but in academia almost no one needs to look over their shoulder before praising Chomsky.

Admittedly, the duty to stand up for the right to explore controversial ideas without fear is an imperfect duty; no one has time to stand up for everyone.  Nevertheless, you have ample time to at least stand up for your own friends, your own colleagues, and your own students.  Some anti-intellectual university functionary might get mad at you for doing so.  If even a dream job for life doesn’t give you a backbone, though, what will?

 

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Rejoinder to Appelbaum on Friedman

By John P. Mackey and Walter E. Block

 

In his September 18, 2020 New York Times column, Binyamin Appelbaum appeared to be highly critical of Milton Friedman.

The former started out by calling the latter “a free-market ideologue,” and he did not mean this as a compliment. He ended on this note: “After 50 years of listening to Friedman, it’s time to do something about the flaws (in the views of this Nobel Prize winning economist).” In between, he maintained we should no longer wait for, or rely on, businessmen to renounce “selfishness portrayed as a principled stand,” as he purported Friedman would have it. It is now time- it is past time, in his view, to get the government involved in compelling the wealthy in effect to support social justice.

It would appear at the outset to be a 180 degree difference between these two writers. Not so, not so, at least not when it comes to goals. Both seek an end to poverty, favor prosperity, freedom and economic development. Appelbaum supports egalitarianism, Friedman did not, but even here it is possible to at least partially reconcile their differences. The journalist favors heavy taxation of the rich and financial support for the poor; the economist would go part way in that direction with his negative income tax (those at the bottom end of the income distribution pay a negative tax; e.g., receive a subsidy). Moreover, Friedman would attest that economic growth disproportionately helps the impoverished. 200 years ago, 94% of everyone alive on Planet Earth lived on less than $2.00 per day. Today it is only 10%.  The average lifespan in 1820 was 30, today it is 72.6 (which is higher than in any country in 1950).  In 1820, illiteracy rates were 88%, while today they have shrunk to only 14%.

No, the gigantic, stupendous, difference between the two scholars concerns means, not ends. And here we side completely with the University of Chicago professor who was the most prominent dismal scientist of the 20th century (many scholars would argue that Keynes was), and should continue that position in the present one.

What are the specifics?

Appelbaum wants to leave off “the public shaming of restaurants that refuse to give paid leave to sick employees” and have a law enacted compelling them to do just that. But what determines employee well-being is total wages, the monetary plus the non-monetary (health care, safety on the job, and other fringe benefits). The firm cares not one whit about the proportions; its eye is only on the cost of the total compensation package. It has every incentive to allocate remuneration in accord with worker preferences. Mr. Appelbaum does not realize that if paid family leave is given, and total compensation (based on productivity) does not change, then something else will be reduced, presumably take home pay. Most workers would rather have higher take home pay than paid family leave if this means to an agreed-upon end is implemented. This is basic economics 101, and there are few people who have contributed more to it than Milton Friedman.

Similarly, the New York Times editorialist avers: “Instead of pleading with McDonald’s to raise wages, raise the federal minimum wage.” But as Professor Friedman would explain, this legislative enactment does not raise compensation, certainly not in the long run; rather, it serves as a barrier over which an employee’s productivity must rise, if he is to obtain and keep a job. When compensation is legislatively raised above what the labor productivity of the low-skilled worker is contributing, the firm will either be forced to make an investment in new technology and/or take on more highly skilled employees, so as to substitute for the displaced workers.  Keep raising it, and more and more less-skilled workers will be legislatively consigned to permanent unemployment. Again, neither man wants that. They disagree on means, not ends.

Also on Applebaum’s wish list is that our society “combat discrimination … reduce pollution (and) maintain community institutions.” Friedman was certainly a world class economist, and his legacy also includes many of his students. Gary Becker, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams would be the first to reply to Appelbaum that different wage levels, whether between whites and blacks or men and women, do not necessarily indicate discrimination. Friedman would have no problem with a law reducing pollution (he supported his colleague Ronald Coase’s solution in this regard), but he would insist that if any one firm carried out this policy, it would court bankruptcy. He also had no problem with supporting charitable organizations; he only insisted that people do this with their own money, not that of others (such as CEOs on behalf of stockholders).

States Mr. Appelbaum: “Friedman’s negative vision of government has helped to obscure the ways the public sector can help the private sector, for example by investing in education, infrastructure and research.” But a careful perusal of his famous book, Capitalism and Freedom will demonstrate that Friedman’s concept of “neighborhood effects” supported precisely these three policies. He saw a market failure in what most economists would call positive externalities: we all benefit from the education of others, infrastructure that we need not use directly and general research. Therefore, the government should subsidize these efforts, lest resources be misallocated.

One last example. The editorialist wants “to convince banks to steal less money from customers.” This is presumably a misprint. Obviously, he wants savings institutions to engage in no robbery at all. Does anyone doubt that the economist would enthusiastically support this?

There are deep dark chasms between Freidman and Appelbaum concerning means to an end, but less so, far less so, regarding goals they both share.


John P. Mackey is Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans

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Is it OK to Use the R Word?

A reader of a recent post of mine blamed me for using the R word: “redneck.” (His comment was not published because he was a new commenter and we could not confirm his email address.) What I call “redneck” is close to Merriam-Webster’s definition, minus the pejorative connotation:

1. sometimes disparaging: a white member of the Southern rural laboring class
2. often disparaging: a person whose behavior and opinions are similar to those attributed to rednecks

I use “redneckitude” as a much-needed neologism for the typical redneck’s behavior, opinions, character, and preferences (to use an economic term). Jim Bovard tells me that the neologism “might be tolerable” until a better one is found. On the model of “wokeness,” perhaps “redneckess” would be better?

The featured image of this post represents how redneckitude is seen by the intellectual establishment and part of popular and political culture. Jim Goad’s The Redneck Manifesto: How Hillbillies, Hicks, and White Trash Became America’s Scapegoats (Simon & Schuster, 1997) helps understand how the redneck concept now extends to any lower-class, white, gun-toting, God-loving but sin-committing, flag-waving but often non-voting, rural individual. Rednecks exist in Vermont and Maine too. The redneck is also self-reliant, although this may have changed in the mounting socialist culture. He is certainly not a standard-bearer for the 18th-century Enlightenment.

The major point of the economics of redneckitude is that, as a social scientist, the economist is not morally judgmental. Rednecks have preferences and make choices according to these preferences. These choices have social consequences (including “economic” consequences in the narrow sense) that are of scientific interest for the understanding of society. And note that, like in other sciences, words used in economics are just labels that may carry historical meaning but are mainly useful for analytical purposes.

This methodological approach explains the historical tolerance of economists for eccentric preferences and lifestyles. For this reason, I don’t consider the R word as pejorative. I even share some preferences with rednecks. I might have titled the present post “In Defense of Redneckitude.”

In New York Times article (“A Profession With an Egalitarian Core”, March 16, 2013), Tyler Cowen pointed out many historical instances of the economists’ tolerance, including:

In 1829, all 15 economists who held seats in the British Parliament voted to allow Roman Catholics as members. In 1858, the 13 economists in Parliament voted unanimously to extend full civil rights to Jews. (While both measures were approved, they were controversial among many non-economist members.) For many years leading up to the various abolitions of slavery, economists were generally critics of slavery and advocates of people’s natural equality. …

Professors Levy and Peart coined the phrase “analytical egalitarianism” to describe the underpinnings of this tradition. For example, Adam Smith cited birth and fortune, as opposed to intrinsically different capabilities, as the primary reasons for differences in social rank. And the classical economists Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill promoted equal legal and institutional rights for women long before such views were fashionable.

This tolerance has limits that, in the classical-liberal or libertarian perspective, correspond to the point where some individuals coercively ban the preferences of other individuals. In this perspective, all forms of apartheid or government discrimination are beyond the pale of tolerance. There is a significant difference between harboring esthetic or lifestyle beliefs on the one hand and, on the other hand, wanting to impose those on others.

For example, many rednecks may have had or perhaps still have racist personal preferences, which would be as acceptable (although not commendable) as the contemporary wokes’ anti-white opinions are (although not commendable); but the desire to impose such preferences through the coercive power of the state is antithetical to tolerance and thus unacceptable. No surprise that economists have generally been opposed to slavery and, as shown by David Levy and Sandra Peart, this opposition earned economics the pejorative label of “dismal science” by conservative Thomas Carlyle (see Levy and Peart’s “The Secret History of the Dismal Science. Part 1. Economics, Religion and Race in the 19th Century,” Econlib, January 22, 2001).

Another sort of limit to most economist’s tolerance relates to the development of children. Considering children as future sovereign individuals who should not be robbed of their future choices and opportunities may suggest more complex classical-liberal values (James Buchanan’s, for example) but such reflections would take us too far from this short post.

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The Freedom to Do What Sounds Wrong

Friends of freedom routinely defend the right to do wrong.  “If you’re only free to do good things, what freedom do you really have?”  Yet on reflection, this sorely underrates the value of freedom.  Yes, the freedom to do bad things is important.  Much more important, though, is the freedom to do good things that sound bad.

Why is this so important?  Because Social Desirability Bias is ubiquitous; that’s why.   Long psych story short: When the truth sounds bad, human beings deceive and self-deceive.  This deceit in turn routinely rationalizes bad policies.  Example: Convenience and fun are often better than health and safety.  That’s what your actions declare whenever you drive to a restaurant instead of hunkering down in your home.  But almost no one wants to give a public speech where they say, “Convenience and fun are often better than health and safety.”  Policymakers, in turn, largely ignore the value of convenience and fun.  Abandoning your dysfunctional country is often better than “staying to fix it.” But no one wants to openly declare, “I decided my country was a lost cause, so I got out of Dodge.”  Policymakers, in turn, vigorously spurn mere “economic migrants.”  Breaking inconvenient laws is often the best move, but few scofflaws will ever call a press conference to defend their behavior.  Policymakers, in turn, enforce phonebooks’ worth of inane rules.  Working hard to get rich yields wonderful social benefits, but hardly anyone on Earth will even admit to being rich.  Policymakers, in turn, treat the rich as cattle or leeches.

The rhetoric of “freedom” is a great way to neutralize this poison of Social Desirability Bias.  Indeed, there is probably no better antidote in the universe.  When busybodies try to use government to force everyone to sacrifice tons of convenience and fun for vestigial doses of health and safety, shouting, “I spurn safety for convenience” will get you nowhere.  But shouting, “Freedom!” like you’re in Braveheart just might foil the busybodies’ nefarious efforts.  People won’t welcome an immigrant who says he hated his country of birth.  But they will smile upon an immigrant who earnestly avows that he came for “freedom. If you’re caught breaking a stupid law, you won’t escape a guilty verdict by conclusively showing that the law is stupid.  You might, though, if you stand up for your “freedom.” A rich man who wants to keep what he’s earned won’t win much sympathy by lecturing the world about economics.  His better bet, rather, is to raise the banner of “Freedom!”

None of this means that appeals to freedom are – or should be – insincere.  Pursuit of convenience and fun, fleeing your hellhole of birth, breaking stupid laws, and working your way to wealth are all bona fide expressions of freedom.  My point, rather, is about marketing.  Directly defying Social Desirability Bias is ever-tempting, but usually fruitless.  If you want to defend good things that sound bad, your best bet is to reframe the debate.  Want to stand up for business and the rich?  Your best bet is to change the subject.  What were we talking about again?  Oh, that’s right: Freedom!

Isn’t this precisely what critics accuse libertarians of doing all the time?  Pretty much.  What I’m saying is that their accusations are unfair, but we should strive to make them true.  Mainstream political thinkers are too wrapped up in their own irrational demagoguery to even acknowledge the existence of Social Desirability Bias.  Once you fully absorb the distinction between what sounds good and what is good, however, the implied political danger will weigh upon your mind.  What can rational human beings do in the face of such mindless emotionalism?  Wave the flag of freedom.  Wave it habitually.  Wave it proudly.  Even then, you’ll probably lose the war of words, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance.

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Sir Samuel Brittan RIP

Tyler Cowen, over at Marginal Revolution, quite rightly laments the death of British economic journalist, the aptly named Samuel Brittan.

Like Tyler, I first heard of Brittan’s Capitalism and the Permissive Society from the late Roy A. Childs, Jr. You might think that “Permissive” in the title is used negatively. No. One of the things Brittan liked about capitalism was that it is permissive. I’m going from memory here; my copy was destroyed in my 2007 office fire.

It was either in that book or in something else that Roy Childs told me from another Samuel Brittan writing that Brittan told the story about how Milton Friedman, with one view on one issue, got him respecting free market views more: it was that Friedman was such an outspoken advocate of a free market in military labor–that is, Friedman opposed the draft.

Here’s another Brittan/Friedman story, from Wikipedia, that I hadn’t known:

[Friedman] mentioned to me a letter he had received from Arthur Burns saying that Eisenhower was turning out well as President. I expressed surprise, to which Friedman responded: “First, Burns has much better knowledge of Eisenhower. Second, given equal knowledge I would prefer his opinion to yours.” Against The Flow (2005)

 

 

 

 

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Facebook’s Decision about the Holocaust

The vast majority of people, including your humble blogger, have never done any serious research on the Holocaust. In this case, our main reason to believe it happened is that, in most relatively free countries, anybody who had the opposite opinion has been free to defend it and that, obviously, it did not survive the shock of free debates. For the same reason, most of us non-physicists believe in quantum entanglement.

What will be the consequence of the legal bans on Holocaust denialism (often through so-called “hate laws”) that have spread in so-called free countries (but not in America)? And what will be the results of Facebook’s decision not to allow the discussion of this topic (“Facebook Bans Content Denying the Holocaust on Its Platforms,” Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2020)? These two sorts of ban are very different because Facebook is a private entity that, like any other, (still) has the right to decide which opinion it will allow to be expressed on its property. But, given the importance of Facebook (and Twitter) in public debates, the two sorts of restraints may well have similar consequences.

It is true that a lot of snake oil is peddled in popular opinions and on social networks. But we find ignoramuses in the intellectual establishment too. And it is not possible to protect “vulnerable” people against these dangers if only because the habit of not being confronted with contrarian ideas may make one more, not less, gullible.

The most serious reason to oppose speech bans was expressed by economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill in his book On Liberty (1859):

Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.

Imagine what will happen after several decades of legal and practical bans on denying the Holocaust. There will be few discussions on the topic. Its deniers will be silent, except in private, in samizdats, or in violent groups. Its defenders’ research may have become rare because less apparently useful (and not without risk: suppose the researcher finds something that does not exactly fit the official wisdom?). The historical existence of the Holocaust will have become a sort of official mythology prone to jokes—think of the political slogans in the late Soviet Union—that most people will have no reason to believe.

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On the Shortness of Time

Last month, in a post on an EconTalk with Bob Chitester, I seconded Bob’s view of the importance of poetry.

One of my favorites, which I never see anyone else quote, is one I learned in high school. My high school English teacher, believe it or not, was Miss English.

It’s titled “On the Shortness of Time” and is by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. My favorite lines are the last two. Here it is:

If I could live without the thought of death,
Forgetful of time’s waste, the soul’s decay,
I would not ask for other joy than breath,
With light and sound of birds and the sun’s ray.
I could sit on untroubled day by day
Watching the grass grow, and the wild flowers range
From blue to yellow and from red to grey
In natural sequence as the seasons change.
I could afford to wait, but for the hurt
Of this dull tick of time which chides my ear.
But now I dare not sit with loins ungirt
And staff unlifted, for death stands too near.
I must be up and doing — ay, each minute.
The grave gives time for rest when we are in it.

 

 

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