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Deirdre McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues, Ethics for an Age of Commerce, University

of Chicago Press, 2006

The bourgeois virtues -- love, faith, hope, courage with temperance, prudence, and
justicehave served us well according to McCloskey.
Capitalism has triumphed, but what is it? I mean by capitalism merely private
property and free labor without central planning regulated by rule of law and by an
ethical consensus (14). You never get more specific than that, though the devil is in the
details of capitalism. The Japanese, French, German, Swedish, Dutch, and US are all
capitalist, but quite different and with different results. The argument stays at the level of
capitalism vs. socialism, rather than the more relevant question for today of what kind of
capitalism do we want. You get a bit more specific when you say, capitalism and
bourgeois virtues have been greater forces eliminating poverty than any labor union or
welfare program or central plan (27). Better working conditions have prevailed not
because of union negotiations or governmental regulations, but because capitalism has
worked. Here we have some of the details that you oppose. Nineteenth Century
capitalist low-wage, 12 hour day, sweat shops were not places where you would have
liked to work. Surely unions helped make them better along with laws prohibiting child
labor, and more recently OSHA. The Chicago River in your backyard was a chemical
laden sewer. One can agree that growing wealth can be used for public betterment, but
there is no guarantee that the titans of industry have enough virtue to use it for that. I
would rather require workplace and environmental improvement than depend on the
virtuous foundations of Carnegie and Rockefeller. Incidentally, what is the Federal
Reserve Board if it is not central planning?
A central argument of the book is that Capitalism has not corrupted our souls. It
has improved them (23). It is a nuanced argument that acknowledges some failures, but
in broad historical sweep vulgar consumers and fraudulent entrepreneurs are not worse
than their ancestors, and on average better (24). Still in arguing that capitalism has
produced better humans, the problems of mental illness and drug use are ignored, not to
mention Prozac. Much of human good and evil arises from our fallen natures and has
nothing to do with the circumstances in which we are put (29). This may be good
theology, but the word Nothing lacks nuance. It is rather sweeping, speaking of the
poor, its not our fault that they are poor (28). What about methodical and wide-spread
racial discrimination? What about Western European exploitation of their African,
Asian, and Latin American colonies?
Contrary to Galbraith (not referenced), you say, It is a mistake to think of
bourgeois life as consumption-driven, if one means that spend, spend, spend is
necessary for its survival (30). This seems to fly in the face of the relationship of
consumer debt and recessions among other things. More prosaically, it also flies in the
face of the increasing supply of storage rental units to put all the stuff in that people have
bought anticipating great joy and now find no space in their homes for. You extol the
rise of the arts, etc. due to the growth in wealth, but do not mention the invasion of
commercial messages to buy into every aspect of our life such as naming sports arenas. I
expect one day that professors will carry sandwich boards with ads into the class room
much as European soccer clubs now carry commercial names on their players jerseys.
Maybe we would survive without consumerism, but it would be a different place (the
stock market, for example). In the face of mountains of advertising, I am not going to put
my faith in the idea that competition puts the consumer in control.
McCloskey is most worried about the danger to freedom from the powers of the
modern state (38). She acknowledges the use of government by farmers and large
corporations and is critical of government because it is captured by commercial interests.
But, as the argument goes along, the corporations fade from sight and the big, bad
government must be downsized rather than search for ways to control contributions to
campaign spending. That, of course, would require citizens to take control of
government, rather assume beneficence if it would just go away.
Modern economic growth and modern ethical improvement are a
consequence of personal freedom. (38). Individual and isolated individuals are
implied. Apparently, she and McNeill find no room for collective action. Salvation is to
be found only in competition, market or nations via war. Is the story told by Avner Grief
only a minor exception? In his Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy, he
describes medieval guilds getting together to threaten exit from market towns of local
lords who would dare to confiscate their goods. Competition between local states to be
sure, but made effective by joint action of the merchantsif they could not control exit
from their position (free riding), competition would not have worked.
The innovation prohibition of the Japanese shogunate is too easy a target to
critique in support of individualism. No one in the most aggressive state today advocates
such regulation, in spite of your worry nowadays about European Community and
American federal officials, too (41). Forbidding pollution and unsafe workplaces is not
the same as forbidding innovation. You make innovation the big advantage of
individualism and capitalism. Surely innovation is more complicated than leaving people
alone to buy and sell. And, one must note the role of tax money in research sponsored by
the National Science Foundation and public universities that provide the knowledge base
for new products and processes.
Hayeks warning of the road to serfdom is reborn here. The serfdom in rich
countries now is governmental, not private. I advocate laissez-faire, and dream of
literally one-third to one-fifth of the government we now have (41). Dream on
dreams seldom deal with detail. You side with the angels by saying you would be happy
with government if its expenditures were on behalf of the poor. It benefits politically
well-connected construction companies and the owners of paving firms, not little kids
from the inner city. Nice rhetoric. You say taxation is taking, a kind of slavery
(45). Powerful images indeed. Zingers abound.
All is explained by the median voter theory (45). The median voter is a
mathematical truth about which nothing can be done. On the other hand, campaign
finance reform is a human artifact. But of course, that would take making government
effective, rather than simply smaller (meaning no regulations and a smaller budget). I do
not need persuading that American farm programs are an abomination. I have considered
that letting people alone to make deals in a law-respecting society with low taxes helps
them and their poor neighbors to flourish, materially and ethically.(47) and find it
wanting. You quote Ellis with approval, some form of representative government based
on the principle of popular sovereignty and some form of market economy fueled by the
energies of individual citizens have become the commonly accepted ingredients for
national success (47). But what form? That is the deeper question. Is it representative
government where the Tom DeLays can use campaign funds to help the Texas legislature
redraw Congressional districts to serve personal purposes? Is it the market economy of
Japan, Sweden or the US? Is it a market economy where the laws allow individuals to act
collectively (and unnaturally) in corporations, but make it difficult for workers to do the
same in unions?
McCloskey sees collective good springing from individual free exchange and
bourgeois virtues. She would depend on self-organizing systems like markets and
morals, or for that matter common-law decisions of courts (49). These visions are
empirically false. Modern markets are not self-organizing. Without law, no one knows
who is buyer and who is seller. These institutions are prior to markets. And the common
law court system is far from self-organizing. It is a branch of government with elected
judges in most places. If it were all a matter of logic and self-organization, we would not
care who these judges are. Neither common law precedents nor the words in the
Constitution speak for themselves. They are human artifact and interpretation forged in
the anvil of conscious political conflict. In passing, I cannot refrain from smiling at your
examples of beneficial spillovers from self-interested individual action. Surely the
service of a billboard on the highway advertising a restaurant serves as a vivid pointer to
the downtown could be done more efficiently by a simple public sign with an arrow and
centre ville.
And more to the point, the law (common or statute) is a kind of central planning.
Judges and legislators surely have in mind the kind of economic growth encouraged by
their creations. If these are not centralized, commerce could not predict its options.
Please consider that interpretations of the Constitutions commerce clause are the basis
for a national market with economies of scale. The interpretation of this clause is a kind
of central planning evolving every day. This hardly emerges magically from individuals
left alone. Civic and bourgeois virtues limited to isolated individual action produce little.
There is no question these virtues are necessary, but I beg you to consider that they are
not sufficient even in their various combinations.
The list of experiments (30) seems disingenuous. You mix imperialism, intrusive
policing, and zoning in the same list. No one wants intrusive policing, but what is it
exactly? (By the way with respect to imperialism, Bush and half the voters are not
paying attention.) I, whether rich or poor, would not like to live in a neighborhood where
my neighbors could grow pigs next to my house or apartment (and I suspect that you are
the same.) Oh, I know that in Houston, large developers accomplish the same thing with
deed restrictions, but it is not possible in most places with small developers and
individuals going out in the country on their own (buying and selling at will). And
anyway, a restriction is a restriction whether privately or publicly createdand even so,
deed restrictions are publicly sanctioned or notwitness those requiring sale only to
Caucasians made invalid. One persons restriction is another persons opportunity.
Throwing Soviet central planning and American Progressive regulations in the same pot
also seems loaded. The American Progressives accomplished many reforms including
utility and railroad regulation where competition is not practical. Federal deposit
insurance may have made banks less careful (but I think it has more to do with less
oversight of prudent portfolios as occurred before the S&L fiasco), but it encouraged
savings by small savers otherwise once suspicious of banks. I am not a defender of
entitlements given to western ranchers, but to knock indiscriminately the entire
conservation movement is likewise hard to defend. Are you really serious that the
environment would be better without the conservation movement including the
establishment of the national parks? Would the bourgeois virtues protect wildlife in
Alaska?
McCloskey is a historian and I hesitate to contradict her, but the statement,
Europe recovered after its two twentieth-century hot wars mainly through its own efforts
of labor and investment, not mainly through government-to-government charity such as
Herbert Hoovers Commission or George Marshalls Plan is hard to accept without
documentation. I can accept the idea that Marshall Plan aid without the pre-war
institutions that could be revived would have been of much less value.
Bringing your speech to conclusion with force, conviction and clarity leaves no
doubt where you are going. I applaud its frankness. If we adopt the simple and obvious
system of natural liberty, every person on the planet can come to have, complements of
the bourgeois virtues, the scope of life afforded now to a suburban minority in the West.
I wish nature were so obvious and clear in its lessons. We are offered the Bourgeois
Deal: leave me alone to buy low and sell high, and in the long run Ill make you rich
(53). If we will let people own things and if we let them try to make profit out of
the ownership, and if we keep out of peoples lives the tentacles of a government we
will prosper materially and spiritually (53). Which people? The poor are those who
own little that is a cost to others. I am driven to ask what things (opportunities) should
each individual own when opportunities conflict. What if the poor (or all of us) owned
the radio-magnetic spectrum, off-shore oil, and land rents created by public investment in
highways and transit systems (George was on to something),
I repeat my earlier acceptance of the value of the bourgeois virtues to commerce.
And, I too observe that many of these virtues have survived capitalism, though I observe
that some kinds of capitalism do better by them than others, and I hope you will discuss
this. But I will be a tough sell that these must be encapsulated in God and transcendence
as is done in subsequent chapters or that nature speaks for itself and all worthwhile
institutions come forth spontaneously. You speak earnestly for democracy, but what is
democratic government if not to consciously debate what we are to become and what
institutions are likely to get us there?
I have argued that freedoms of different people conflict and thus support for any
particular institution on the basis of general freedom is empty (Conflict & Cooperation).
I observe that one persons hated tentacles of government are another persons freedom
and opportunity. (Perhaps this unavoidable condition of the world is the ultimate fall
from grace!) I have argued that giving ownership of an opportunity to one party rather
than another requires a moral judgmentthe treatment of others as subjects and not
objects. I have argued that love and caring are necessary for a commercial society and
peace. Let me speak equally simply. I am a champion of markets. I just want to be the
seller (owner) of most opportunities and you the buyer. Then I can be a virtuous
philanthropist like Bill Gates.

The assertion is made that the clerisy turned decisively against capitalism and fewer
attempts to be fair in reply (57). May be it is different at the University of Illinois at
Chicago, but I observe the oppositemost economics students are taught the glories of
capitalism. Even Galbraith and Keynes accepted capitalism, but wanted to improve it.
Please suppose that I am of good will (59). Yes, moi aussi.

The Very Word Virtue We need a chapter, The Very Word Capital since there are
so many.

I have no trouble with the word Bourgeois. But, I do have trouble with extending it to
the transcendentbeyond experience in a God sense rathr than just a human artifact open
to reflection and modification.

Love can be thought of as a commitment of the will to the true good on another. OK.
love has no outside use. It is a sacrifice, a making sacred (98). Great, but why the
word sacred?

Love reaches up to God (100) with a capital G. Why is this necessary?

Salvation requires the transcendent and a theology, that is a purpose to life that includes
an account of why it should matter (105). If theology is about purpose to life, I am a
theologian, but one not interested in salvation whatever that means.

Without strong conceptions of right, care-givers are apt to see the world only from their
own perspective OK. Justice without a notion of care is incomplete (107). OK.

The Samuelsonian economist who says Its easy to include love in economics. Just
put the beloveds utility into the lovers utility function . Misses Stockers point that
To the extent that I act towards you with the final goal of getting pleasure I do not
act for your sake the meaning of a relationship, I repeat, is just as scientific as is a
budget constraint (111). Yes. treating others as inputs into a selfs utility function, is
to treat others as means, not ends. Yes!
I like to distinguish Sens sympathy and caring from commitment. Sen says there
is an egoistic element in sympathy (you call it mere prudence) but that still leaves room
for love. You seem to regard his commitment as love, but I read it as learned rule
following). We can let Sen elaborate. In any case, I could not agree more with the
following, the meaning of a human action, not merely its external appearance, is
important for its scientific description (125). I have tried to do this in my article, Using
Motive to Distinguish Social Capital from its Outputs. Journal of Economic Issues, 36
(3):747-68 (2002).

Harry Frankfurt, love makes it possible for us to engage wholeheartedly in activity


that is meaningful. Humans want meaning. Yes, this is clear from introspection,
observation and cognitive science.

The Boesky quote Greed is all right . is not atypical of a lot of Wall Streeter denizens
and economists. I wonder what Ken Lay said? You are correct in your observation that a
lot of business people have deep friendships, but the problem is the scope and boundary
of those identifications. Too many only love people like themselves. I shall let pass your
reference to the claustrophobic, murderous atmosphere of a traditional village (138).
and chalk it up to your urban bias. The traditional village and rural community of petty
capitalism is no more inherently unwelcoming to love than is the urban business
community of high capitalism.

Evidence of capitalism as the cause of progress since medieval times (138ff).


Improvement in the rights of women is noted. One can agree that romantic visions of
olden days are just that without concluding that capitalism caused observed
improvements. Just because something happened in capitalist times does not mean
capitalism caused it. Is this not the loosest kind mixing correlation and cause. Did
corporate business lobby for womens rights at any period? Is it liberal capitalism that is
succeeding or simply liberal politics? Are there institutions responsible other than
letting people alone in their marketplaces to fashion a varied culture (145). Yes, most
firms are not dishonest and sports bonding and sky boxes are common. Are these things
sustained by capitalism or exist in spite thereof?
McCloskey agrees with Bella, et. al. that, Individuals need the nurture of groups
that carry a moral tradition reinforcing their own aspirations (148). There seems to be a
disconnect between this idea and the letting people alone above. (Also see p. 53, leave
me alone to buy and sell.) Which is it, the nurture of groups (with moral traditions) and
belonging to community or letting people alone. A group, private or public, is a
collective institution. Groups with a moral tradition do not just leave people along. The
apply social pressure to achieve conformity. Just ask the guy in the locker room who
volunteers the idea that inheritance taxes should be increased. Maybe Warren Buffet can
do it, but it would take a brave junior executive to do it. It should also be noted that
peoples own aspirations are not just prior natural data, but are learned via human
interaction.

10 Faith As Identity
Faith defined as identity can be completely secular. We say, Keep the faith when we
mean stick to a path begun. Mets fans kept the faith and attended games even when the
team was losing consistently. Identity, creating who you are, is central to mental health.
There are many paths to creating ones identity that having nothing to do with God, such
as that built on ethnicity, hobby, parenting or whatever. Yes, all of these are human
creations and thus made up and not mere representations of the visible. Defining oneself
as born again or a Spartan are the same with respect to being invented. And forming
bonds with those similarly identified is common. Is it no doubt true to say that the
spread of market exchange in the eighteenth century led to the development of new
benevolent bonds. But, were there not many other sources? And again, the problem of
peace is the scope and boundary of the bondsnot just that there are some.
She celebrates, When a poor man can buy as much for his penny as a rich man,
though he have fewer pennies, he is not required to doff his hat to get his daily bread.
Does it not depend on whether he has enough pennies for bread? This (capitalism?)
frees him when the occasion arises to be a real friend, an equal. Where is the evidence
that friendships are common across social class? Or is it that the occasion seldom
arises?
Many do not need God to form identity and trust. And if faith is just another
word for love, trust, friendship, solidarity, and avoidance of free riding, we dont need
another word. You label hope, faith, and love as theological virtues. What is gained by
the term theological? What is gained by saying that I am a theologian when I struggle to
define my identity? By the way on the subject of identity, I recommend Manuel Castells,
The Power of Identity, 2nd ed. Blackwell, 2004.

11 Hope is forward looking. Surely looking forward is a virtue (and mostly impossible to
avoid thinking about). Surely it is an object of our imagination, saying that it is made of
air is a nice metaphor. In less poetic and perhaps less loaded language, could we say that
human live on artifact, their own creations? Some cant bear the burden of self-creation
and pretend identity comes from outer space. Surely looking forward is influenced by
thinking (imagining) about the past. Hope when unbalanced justifies any number of
unbroken eggs to make the imagined omelet. Nice metaphor. The possibility of
reflection and modification (171) is key, not the unchallengeable usually associated with
the holy and sacred.
The transcendent is defined as knowledge beyond the limits of experience. This
could simply mean identity is created, a human artifact. People have not lived without
the transcendent (173). This seems unexceptional and observable. But in the next
paragraph is a quote about the true God with a capital G, and later the Sacred with a
capital S. My dictionary defines sacred as dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a
deity; worthy of respect. It is hard for me to see the word sacred apart from a deity.
Perhaps, you will say, get over it. Surely, the born again and the fanatic Bears fan have
something in common. They are seeking an identity, something larger than themselves
(community for example). The born again and the Bears fan are also engaged in planning
based on past experience and invested meaning. But, what is gained by calling it faith
and hope and religion? What am I to take from this chapter? Religion with a small r
cannot perish without consequences. OK, people with no identity and vision are sick.
That is not a reason to return to older sureties. I take you at your word, but then why
use the older language of faith and hope? If we take seriously the transcendent in our
bourgeois lives we will see the immense difference if that transcendence is right wing
born again, sports fanatics, Islamic fanatics, or humanistic. I hope this is in one of your
future volumes.

12 Humility
We should listen to the mystery of entrepreneurship, the Austrians say, no airily assume
as my fellow Samuelsonians tend to do that nothing whatever is to be gained by actually
talking of economic agents . (190) Bravo! Lets get our of our armchairs as
Simon suggests, or do more than blackboard economics, as Coase urges. I would have
thought this was common sense, but if it is an act of humility, OK by me.
You regard Holmes as a hard man for not comforting widows and orphans with
God (193). There would be many fewer widows and orphans in the first place if we
listened to Holmes. Surely, soldiers do not fight to death simply because ordered to,
many studies show they do it for their comrades and to avoid the charge of cowardice.
Get Washington out of the business of running the country from a nice office on K
Street. Nice image, but how does she propose to separate capitalism from capitalist
influenced government? The only way to do it is a regulation of campaign contributions,
but that is hardly laissez-faire.
Why is it relevant to know that Reich was a short professor? Nelson (and you)
regard exit as the most basic of political and religious rights (198). Buchanan also argued
for this point applied to the secession of the South from the Union. But, the right of the
southern slave holders to secede, was a barrier to the freedom on the slaves. Please
consider that capitalism is not the absence of government even if the lobbyists could be
banned. How can we live without social engineering (what else can we call the ever-
evolving set of commonly understood property rights that are antecedent to market trade
(including the right to exit from a particular trading relationship)? Do you imagine these
emerge from nature? The lobbyists influence is not limited to governmental spending,
but is active in defining property rights. Reduction of taxes does nothing to limit industry
pushing to be declared the owner of air and water rather than environmentalists and the
general public. Perhaps we could return to a state of nature and abolish the legislature
and the courts.

The assertion is made that the clerisy turned decisively against capitalism and fewer
attempts to be fair in reply (57). May be it is different at UIC, but I observe the
oppositemost economics students are taught the glories of capitalism. Even Galbraith
and Keynes accepted capitalism, but wanted to improve it.

Please suppose that I am of good will (59). Yes, moi aussi.

The Very Word Virtue We need a chapter, The Very Word Capital since there are
so many.

I have no trouble with the word Bourgeois. But, I do have trouble with extending it to
the transcendentbeyond experience in a God sense rather than just a human artifact
open to reflection and modification.

Love can be thought of as a commitment of the will to the true good on another. OK.
love has no outside use. It is a sacrifice, a making sacred (98). Great, but why the
word sacred?

Love reaches up to God (100) with a capital G. Why is this necessary?

Salvation requires the transcendent and a theology, that is a purpose to life that includes
an account of why it should matter (105). If theology is about purpose to life, I am a
theologian, but one not interested in salvation whatever that means.

Without strong conceptions of right, care-givers are apt to see the world only from their
own perspective OK. Justice without a notion of care is incomplete (107). OK.
The Samuelsonian economist who says Its easy to include love in economics. Just
put the beloveds utility into the lovers utility function . Misses Stockers point that
To the extent that I act towards you with the final goal of getting pleasure I do not
act for your sake the meaning of a relationship, I repeat, is just as scientific as is a
budget constraint (111). Yes. treating others as inputs into a selfs utility function, is
to treat others as means, not ends. Yes!
I like to distinguish Sens sympathy and caring from commitment. Sen says there
is an egoistic element in sympathy (you call it mere prudence) but that still leaves room
for love. You seem to regard his commitment as love, but I read it as learned rule
following). We can let Sen elaborate. In any case, I could not agree more with the
following, the meaning of a human action, not merely its external appearance, is
important for its scientific description (125). I have tried to do this in my article, Using
Motive to Distinguish Social Capital from its Outputs. Journal of Economic Issues, 36
(3):747-68 (2002).

Harry Frankfurt, love makes it possible for us to engage wholeheartedly in activity


that is meaningful. Humans want meaning. Yes, this is clear from introspection,
observation and cognitive science.

The Boesky quote Greed is all right . is not atypical of a lot of Wall Streeters and
economists. I wonder what Ken Lay of ENRON said? You are correct in your
observation that a lot of business people have deep friendships, but the problem is the
scope and boundary of those identifications. Too many only love people like themselves.
I shall let pass your reference to the claustrophobic, murderous atmosphere of a
traditional village (138). and chalk it up to your urban bias. The traditional village and
rural community of petty capitalism is no more inherently unwelcoming to love than is
the urban business community of high capitalism.

Evidence of capitalism as the cause of progress since medieval times (138ff).


Improvement in the rights of women is noted. One can agree that romantic visions of
olden days are just that without concluding that capitalism caused observed
improvements. Just because something happened in capitalist times does not mean
capitalism caused it. Is this not the loosest kind mixing correlation and cause. Did
corporate business lobby for womens rights at any period? Is it liberal capitalism that is
succeeding or simply liberal politics? Are there institutions responsible other than
letting people alone in their marketplaces to fashion a varied culture (145). Yes, most
firms are not dishonest and sports bonding and sky boxes are common. Are these things
sustained by capitalism or exist in spite thereof?
She agrees with Bella, et. al. that, Individuals need the nurture of groups that
carry a moral tradition reinforcing their own aspirations (148). There seems to be a
disconnect between this idea and the letting people alone above. (Also see p. 53, leave
me alone to buy and sell.) Which is it, the nurture of groups (with moral traditions) and
belonging to community or letting people alone. A group, private or public, is a
collective institution. Groups with a moral tradition do not just leave people along. The
apply social pressure to achieve conformity. Just ask the guy in the locker room who
volunteers the idea that inheritance taxes should be increased. Maybe Warren Buffet can
do it, but it would take a brave junior executive to do it. It should also be noted that
peoples own aspirations are not just prior natural data, but are learned via human
interaction.

10 Faith As Identity
Faith defined as identity can be completely secular. We say, Keep the faith when we
mean stick to a path begun. Mets fans kept the faith and attended games even when the
team was losing consistently. Identity, creating who you are, is central to mental health.
There are many paths to creating ones identity that having nothing to do with God, such
as that built on ethnicity, hobby, parenting or whatever. Yes, all of these are human
creations and thus made up and not mere representations of the visible. Defining oneself
as born again or a Spartan are the same with respect to being invented. And forming
bonds with those similarly identified is common. Is it no doubt true to say that the
spread of market exchange in the eighteenth century led to the development of new
benevolent bonds. But, were there not many other sources? And again, the problem of
peace is the scope and boundary of the bondsnot just that there are some.
McCloskey celebrates, When a poor man can buy as much for his penny as a rich
man, though he have fewer pennies, he is not required to doff his hat to get his daily
bread. Does it not depend on whether he has enough pennies for bread? This
(capitalism?) frees him when the occasion arises to be a real friend, an equal. Where is
the evidence that friendships are common across social class? Or is it that the occasion
seldom arises?
Many do not need God to form identity and trust. And if faith is just another
word for love, trust, friendship, solidarity, and avoidance of free riding, we dont need
another word. You label hope, faith, and love as theological virtues. What is gained by
the term theological? What is gained by saying that I am a theologian when I struggle to
define my identity? By the way on the subject of identity, I recommend Manuel Castells,
The Power of Identity, 2nd ed. Blackwell, 2004.

11 Hope is forward looking. Surely looking forward is a virtue (and mostly impossible to
avoid thinking about). Surely it is an object of our imagination, saying that it is made of
air is a nice metaphor. In less poetic and perhaps less loaded language, could we say that
human live on artifact, their own creations? Some cant bear the burden of self-creation
and pretend identity comes from outer space. Surely looking forward is influenced by
thinking (imagining) about the past. Hope when unbalanced justifies any number of
unbroken eggs to make the imagined omelet. Nice metaphor. The possibility of
reflection and modification (171) is key, not the unchallengeable usually associated with
the holy and sacred.
The transcendent is defined as knowledge beyond the limits of experience. This
could simply mean identity is created, a human artifact. People have not lived without
the transcendent (173). This seems unexceptional and observable. But in the next
paragraph is a quote about the true God with a capital G, and later the Sacred with a
capital S. My dictionary defines sacred as dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a
deity; worthy of respect. It is hard for me to see the word sacred apart from a deity.
Perhaps, you will say, get over it. Surely, the born again and the fanatic Bears fan have
something in common. They are seeking an identity, something larger than themselves
(community for example). The born again and the Bears fan are also engaged in planning
based on past experience and invested meaning. But, what is gained by calling it faith
and hope and religion? What am I to take from this chapter? Religion with a small r
cannot perish without consequences. OK, people with no identity and vision are sick.
That is not a reason to return to older sureties. I take you at your word, but then why
use the older language of faith and hope? If we take seriously the transcendent in our
bourgeois lives we will see the immense difference if that transcendence is right wing
born again, sports fanatics, Islamic fanatics, or humanistic. I hope this is in one of her
future volumes.

12 Humility
We should listen to the mystery of entrepreneurship, the Austrians say, no airily assume
as my fellow Samuelsonians tend to do that nothing whatever is to be gained by actually
talking of economic agents . (190) Bravo! Lets get our of our armchairs as
Simon suggests, or do more than blackboard economics, as Coase urges. I would have
thought this was common sense, but if it is an act of humility, OK by me.
You regard Holmes as a hard man for not comforting widows and orphans with
God (193). There would be many fewer widows and orphans in the first place if we
listened to Holmes. Surely, soldiers do not fight to death simply because ordered to,
many studies show they do it for their comrades and to avoid the charge of cowardice.

Get Washington out of the business of running the country from a nice office on K
Street. Nice image. How do you propose to separate capitalism from capitalist
influenced government? The only way to do it is a regulation of campaign contributions,
but that is hardly laissez-faire.
Why is it relevant to know that Reich was a short professor? Nelson (and you)
regard exit as the most basic of political and religious rights (198). Buchanan also argued
for this point applied to the secession of the South from the Union. But, the right of the
southern slave holders to secede, was a barrier to the freedom on the slaves. Please
consider that capitalism is not the absence of government even if the lobbyists could be
banned. How can we live without social engineering (what else can we call the ever-
evolving set of commonly understood property rights that are antecedent to market trade
(including the right to exit from a particular trading relationship)? Do you imagine these
emerge from nature? The lobbyists influence is not limited to governmental spending,
but is active in defining property rights. Reduction of taxes does nothing to limit industry
pushing to be declared the owner of air and water rather than environmentalists and the
general public. Perhaps we could return to a state of nature and abolish the legislature
and the courts.

16 Courage
When is it the miracle of soul of p. 193 and when the despised Manliness and honor.
Your answer is when not balanced by other virtues. This presumes the planner brain is
always in charge and emotion does not take hold. I agree the word and ideology of
courage has been corrupted by too many movies and myths. Why do we like them so?
Could it be that in the hoplites you have found some virtue in the farmers of old
(205)? Sorry, I remain faithful to my roots.
This is a fun chapter, although giving up my image of the cowboy (movies again)
is tough. But the mathematics shows that death-defying courage can only in romantic
theory be the virtue primarily called upon in any society, except in the emergency
services or in a literal military camp, and then only at the rare, looming crisis (221).? I
wonder how our troops in Iraq get up and go on patrol every morning? Apparently, the
miracle of courage cant be balanced by everyone, witness the occasional atrocities
against civilians and prisoners in Iraq.

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