Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deja Book

I used to read Tom Clancy books all the time. I haven't read one in a while, although Armored Cav happens to be on my to-read list. Back in the very late 80s or early 90s, I was reading a Tom Clancy novel (the name of which I don't recall) at the same time a significant world event was occurring, either the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union (which one I don't recall). It happened that the plot of the novel included that very same event, and what I do remember is how I felt watching the evening news, listening to them report on what I had read in the novel earlier that day. Fascinating effect, disorienting, and almost scary.

Deja Book.

I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. If you're not going to read it yourself, you can find a synopsis not too far away from a query into your favorite search engine. I'm about halfway through the book so far, and I'm very much enjoying it. A fine novel. Fascinating dialog. Like this one, which takes place at a party hosted by the Rearden's wife:

Scudder: "...Property rights are a superstition. One holds property only by the courtesy of those who do not seize it. The people can seize it at any moment. If they can, why shouldn't they?"

Slagenhop: "They should. They need it. Need is the only consideration. If people are in need, we've got to seize things first and talk about it afterwards."

And then there's this:
d'Anconia: "Did you want to see it [Rearden's invention] used by whining rotters who never rouse themselves to any effort, who do not possess the ability of a filing clerk, but demand the income of a company president, who drift from failure to failure and expect you to pay their bills, who hold their wishing as an equivalent of your work and their need as a higher claim to reward than your effort, who demand that you serve them..."

It's hard watching the evening news.

Deja book.

Whose Job Is It Anyway?

A few days ago I saw a tweet from somebody who was essentially inviting people to post tweets ragging on their employers. Bad idea, it seems to me. I looked at a few more of his posts and saw other tweets decrying employers' "power" over their employees, and so on.

An employer has something of value--cash for example, and is in need of something of value--a skill, a task to be performed. An employee has something of value--a skill, and is in need of something of value--cash for instance.

The employer cannot hold a gun to the employee's head and demand his skill: that would be slavery. Likewise, the employee cannot hold a gun to the employer's head and demand his money: that would be robbery. An arrangement that works to their mutual benefit is for them to trade: the employer's cash for the employee's skill.

The employer and employee both come to terms when they agree that the cost of giving up the valuable thing they possess is worth the benefit of receiving the thing of value the other possesses. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. If, to the employee, the cost of trading his skill is not worth the value of the cash he receives, he's free to walk away from the arrangement; if to the employer, the cost of trading his cash is not worth the value of the skill he receives, he is free to break the arrangement as well.

If the employee thinks he cannot break the arrangement, the truth is simply that he believes the cost of giving the employer his skill is still worth the benefit of the cash he receives. When the benefit is no longer worth the cost, he should leave. By staying and contributing little more than gripes and complaints, the employee risks raising the employer's cost of continuing the agreement.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pressing charges when there's a crime

I don't understand the debate over whether SC should press charges against Michael Phelps. If he committed a crime, the state should press charges.

If it "costs too much" for society to gain its expected benefit from enforcing a law, perhaps the law should be removed from the books.

We have too many people in this country to whom the law doesn't apply on account of particular fame, fortune, or family.