BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Category: Books (Page 2 of 10)

My Interview With Jay Cost on ‘What’s So Bad About Cronyism?’

Check out my interview for Encounter Books with Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard on his new broadside What’s So Bad About Cronyism?:

 

Featured Image Source: Thomas Nast (1840-1902). Two Great Questions. 1871. Museum of the City of New York. x2011.5.533.

My Interview With Jay Nordlinger on ‘Children of Monsters’

Check out my interview for Encounter Books on Senior National Review Editor and New Criterion Film Critic Jay Nordlinger’s new Children Of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators:

 

Featured Image Source: Wikipedia.

7 Minutes With Jim Grant Tells You All You Need to Know About World Markets Today

A must-watch interview with the publisher of the great Grant’s Interest Rate Observer conducted by Reason’s Matt Welch:

For a much deeper dive with Jim Grant from several months back, check out my interview with him on the insightful and ever-relevant The Forgotten Depression.

I spoke about it with TheBlaze’s Mike Opelka starting at 21:43 below:

 

Featured Image Source: YouTube screengrab/Reason.

John Tamny on George Gilder on Information Theory and the Gold Standard

John Tamny is one of the most Hazlitt-ian writers of the modern era — a true treasure when it comes to elucidating free market principles, and in particular making the case for sound money simple. As a brief aside, I had the chance to speak with the RealClear Markets editor and Forbes Political Economy editor about his “Popular Economicshere, a conversation I relished.

So it should could as no surprise that Tamny’s review of prolific writer, futurist and Reagan’s most quoted living economist George Gilder’s new monograph, The 21st Century Case for Gold: A New Information Theory of Money, would contain a wealth of insight.

(Image Source: American Principles Project)

Gilder’s revolutionary application of information theory to economics was presented comprehensively in a 2013 title that deserves more attention than it has received to date, Knowledge and Power. Here’s a handy listicle I published that provides a substantive overview of Gilder’s work.

At its most simple, Gilder argues that information is the key to all economic growth. If it has a clean medium in which to be disseminated — namely an environment in which private property rights are protected, taxes are low and money is sound — we will flourish.

Here is how Gilder puts it:

Entropy is a measure of surprise, disorder, randomness, noise, disequilibrium, and complexity. It is a measure of freedom of choice. Its economic fruits are creativity and profit. Its opposites are predictability, order, low complexity, determinism, equilibrium, and tyranny. Predictability and order are not spontaneous and cannot be left to an invisible hand. It takes a low-entropy carrier (no surprises) to bear high-entropy information (full of surprisal). In capitalism, the predictable carriers are the rule of law, the maintenance of order, the defense of property rights, the reliability and restraint of regulation, the transparency of accounts, the stability of money, the discipline and futurity of family life, and a level of taxation commensurate with a modest and predictable role of government. These low-entropy carriers do not emerge spontaneously. They are the effects of political leadership and sacrifice, prudence and forbearance, wisdom and courage. Sometimes they must be defended by military force. They originated historically in a religious faith in the transcendent order of the universe. They embody a hierarchic principle. It is these low-entropy carriers that enable the high-entropy creations of successful capitalism.

And a bit more:

Economic growth springs not chiefly from incentives—carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments for workers and entrepreneurs. The incentive theory of capitalism allows its critics to depict it as an inhumane scheme of clever manipulation of human needs and hungers scarcely superior to the more benign forms of slavery. Wealth actually springs from the expansion of information and learning, profits and creativity that enhance the human qualities of its beneficiaries as it enriches them. Workers’ learning increasingly compensates for their labor, which imparts knowledge as it extracts work. Joining knowledge and power, capitalism focuses on the entropy of human minds and the benefits of freedom. Thus it is the most humane of all economic systems. [Emphasis mine]

In his RealClearMarkets review of Gilder’s new book on money, Tamny makes four critical points in particular:

1) On the “seen and the unseen” of currency speculation attributable to centrally planned money

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Does the Arc of History Bend Towards Tyranny? An Excerpt from Michael Walsh’s ‘The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.’

Michael Walsh’s new book The Devil’s Pleasure Palace is pivotal in its explication of how poor and purely evil ideas have subverted America, and eaten away at the pillars of Western civilization.

While we often hear the refrain “ideas have consequences,” too frequently we attribute the decline of the American system to politics or particular political figures, while giving the power of ideas short thrift.

The Devil's Pleasure Palace

But as Walsh’s important work illustrates, ideas are everything, and if you lose the war of them you lose all of the other battles too.

One such idea that has trumped to date deals with “History” — which you would not dare be on the wrong side of — as if some metaphysical Berlin Wall.

Here is what Walsh has to say on the matter:

Progressives like to throw around the phrases “the arc of history” and “the wrong side of history.” Martin Luther King Jr., quoting the abolitionist Theodore Parker, formulated it this way: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But when you stop to think about this, it’s simply a wishful assertion with no particular historical evidence to back it up. Such sloganeering emerges naturally from the Hegelian-Marxist conception of capital-H History. The only teleology they can allow has to do with abstract, ostensibly “moral” pronouncements of a chimerical, ever-receding horizon of perfect “justice.” The moral universe must not and will not ever admit of amelioration in our lifetimes, or indeed any lifetimes, they insist. It is a Faustian quest, at once admirable and yet a fool’s errand; no means will ever suffice to achieve the end.

Isn’t it interesting that there can be some form of moral judgment in a morally relativistic, largely if not entirely amoral secular progressive system?

Walsh has some questions for the arc-ists too:

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The New York Times’ Book Review of Ayn Rand’s ‘Ideal’ is Beyond Parody

Roll every attack ever leveled at Ayn Rand and her fans into one book review, and you get the New York Times’ take on Ideal, the play originally conceived as a novel appearing in print for the first time.

Here is the solid gold part of the Times piece:

The story is an ugly, diagrammatic illustration of Rand’s embrace of selfishness and elitism and her contempt for ordinary people — the unfortunate, the undistinguished, those too nice or too modest to stomp and roar like the hard man Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead.” It underscores the reasons that her work — with its celebration of defiance and narcissism, its promotion of selfishness as a philosophical stance — so often appeals to adolescents and radical free marketers. And it is also a reminder of just how much her didactic, ideological work actually has in common with the message-minded socialist realism produced in the Soviet Union, which she left in the mid-1920s and vociferously denounced.

The only redeeming feature of “Ideal” is that both the novel and play are slender works, giving Rand less space to bloviate than in “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.” As it is, her characters here make comically portentous statements and engage in breathless, grandiose exchanges.

… The point throughout much of this novel and play — as it is in much of Rand’s work — is that most people are sniveling fools or sheepish sheep, afraid to pursue their dreams or claw their way to the top: They are hypocrites unable to live up to their professed ideals, cowards who live vicariously through others.

Classic.

Featured Image Source: YouTube screengrab/CBS.

An In-Depth Conversation with AEI President Arthur Brooks on “The Conservative Heart”

Full Interview

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An In-Depth Interview With Kimberly Guilfoyle on Achieving Your Dreams

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James Piereson Discusses America’s “Shattered Consensus”

Full Interview

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An Interview With Modern Day Machiavelli Hugh Hewitt on “The Queen” Hillary Clinton

Full Interview

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