Wednesday, April 27, 2016
SAM DAMON OR COURTNEY MASSENGALE?
The novel Once An Eagle (also made into a TV miniseries)
tells the story of two American army officers, across a time span
ranging from the First World War to the interwar years to World War II
and beyond. Sam Damon is a farm boy who has worked his way up in rank:
he is committed to accomplishing his assigned missions and looking out
for the survival and well-being of the men under his command. Courtney
Massengale is a West Point graduate with something of an upper-class
background: he seeks out higher rank through political maneuvering,
prefers Staff to Line assignments, and has little concern for
subordinates. The book is widely-read and highly-regarded in U.S.
In the story's climactic scene, Sam is
commanding a division destined to participate in an attack on a
Japanese-held island. He is not thrilled to find that his division has
been placed under the command of Courtney--now a three-star general and
corps commander despite having spent his entire career in staff roles.
He is even less thrilled when he hears Courtney's plan for the
invasion--"PALLADIUM"--which is in Sam's judgment far too complex to
succeed in actual combat conditions.
The Japanese launch their
counterattack while Sam's division is in a highly vulnerable state, in
the midst of the turning maneuver required by the Palladium plan. And
the reserve unit which could have saved the situation has been
redeployed by Courtney so that he can have the honor of being the first
American general to capture a Japanese-held city intact. While Sam is
leading a desperate fight for the survival of his division, Courtney is
riding in triumph through the town of Reina Blanca.
Sam Damon and
Courtney Massengale are endpoints on a spectrum, of course; few real
people are as good as Sam or as bad as Courtney. But still, it seems to
be useful to ask the following question:
What is the mix of
Damon vs Massengale in each of our current presidential candidates and
among other members of our national leadership?
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Here’s a story about some Silicon Valley tech workers protesting outside a Hillary Clinton event co-hosted
by a venture capitalist and George Clooney. One might expect that
these people are protesting Clinton because their political preferences
lean toward the Libertarian or Conservative side. But then, one would
They are mostly Sanders supporters. And they feel oppressed
by the industry that they are in, and especially by the VCs who fund
the companies where they work. Here’s the complaint of a 26-year-old
“They sell you a dream at startups – the ping-pong, the perks –
so they can pull 80 hours out of you. But in reality the venture
capitalists control all the capital, all the labor, and all the
decisions, so yeah, it feels great protesting one.”
“Tech workers are workers, no matter how much money they make,” said another guy, this one a PhD student at Berkeley.
Now, one’s first instinct when reading this story–at least my
first instinct–is to feel contempt for these whiners. Most of them are
far better off financially than the average American, even after
adjusting for the extremely high costs of living in the Bay area. And
no one forced any of them to work at startups, where the pressures are
well-known to be extreme. They could have chosen IT jobs at banks or
retailers or manufacturing companies or government agencies in any of a
considerable number of cities.
Looked at from a broader perspective, though, the story reminded me of something Peter Drucker wrote almost 50 years ago:
continued at ChicagoBoyz
PAYING HIGHER TAXES CAN BE VERY PROFITABLE (rerun)
(originally published in 2010 and now an April perennial)
Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median
household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of
households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in
Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior,
Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.
that during the 2008 election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick
with Obama signs–and wondered (in 2009) how these people were now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.
The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they missed a key
point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to
benefit financially from the policies of the Obama and company, and
these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional
taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of
Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or
indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.
continued at ChicagoBoyz
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Friday, April 08, 2016
WHEN SLANDER GOES RAMPANT
In her memoirs,
Russian combat pilot Anna Egorova remembered her mother ”kneeling
before the icons, as she firstly listed all our names, the names of her
children, begging God for health and wisdom for us, and then at the end
of each prayer repeating: ‘God save them from slander!’” She didn’t
understand that word ‘slander’ in her childhood, Egorova wrote, but
after her brother was sent away as An Enemy of the People, “it was
exposed before me in all its terrible nakedness.”
I was reminded of Egorova’s story by a recent article by Richard Rahn titled The high cost of slander:
Endless cruelties have been and continue to be committed on the
basis of group slander. The communists and socialists imprisoned and
slaughtered many of their merchant and property-owning citizens on the
basis of a gross slander, not to mention what the Nazis did to the Jews.
In America, blacks, gays, many ethnic groups and women were first
stereotyped, then slandered, and then discriminated against. But the
fashion of which groups of individuals can be slandered has changed to
such people as Wall Street bankers; pharmaceutical, coal and oil company
executives; conservative scholars; those who question the global
warming establishment; and white males, among others.
The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes
back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non
qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who
denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of
people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally
begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate
and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in
If one listens to Bernie Sanders’ rants, somehow all of those who
work on Wall Street are far greedier than most other Americans. It is
also obvious that he has no idea of what the functions of financial
markets are, nor the disaster that would occur without them. Yes, there
are plenty of unethical and incompetent people on Wall Street, as there
are in Washington and in most other places in America. That does not
justify indicting all who work in a particular industry and a particular
place. The ignorant attacks on the financial industry have resulted in
increasingly costly and destructive regulation, which increases the risk
in the financial system rather than diminishing it.
RTWT. Indeed, much political writing and speech these days is reminiscent of the two-minute hate sessions which were a feature of the totalitarian society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984. Any
day on Facebook, one can see the sharing and sometimes the origination
of extreme and even vile assertions about individuals and whole
groups…usually people and groups that are Designated Targets, similarly
to Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.
cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open
CULTURE, COOPERATION, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Claire Berlinski is very pleased with the response to the GoFundMe
page in support of her new book ($9700 as of this writing) as well as
the strong interest in the crowdfunding investment possibility.
A conversation between Claire and her brother Mischa suggests some grounds for cautious optimism about the future of this country:
See the post at Chicago Boyz
, where comments are open
Sunday, April 03, 2016
I've put up several posts at Chicago Boyz that I had not gotten around to cross-posting at Photon Courier. Here they are, most recent at the top:
Europe, Crowdfunding, and a New Publishing Model
Is Ted Cruz "Our Last, Best Hope"?
Book Review: The Year of the French (rerun)