A Conversation with a Young Lady

Last night, prior to a board meeting, the trustees of Harlem Academy met with the school’s soon-to-be-graduating eighth grade class. The marvelous young lady with whom I spoke at some length will be heading off to a school in Massachusetts next year; she hopes to become a physician some day.

She asked me to explain why I work with this school, and why on a voluntary basis. Her attitude was one of genuine, polite curiosity.

I told her that the idea that everybody should have a chance to accomplish important things is one of the noblest characteristics of our country – it’s one of the values that bring us together. We are a nation of strivers, and fervent believers in merit.

Harlem Academy provides bright young people from underprivileged, inner-city backgrounds with a truly first class e...

Read More

Note to a Friend

I have been thinking about your comments about being in a funk about work and your stage of life.

Every valley is different, of course – I’ve been through some of them; we all have. I trust you won’t mind if I pass along a few observations.

For me, happiness stems in no small part from having a purpose – a goal that I think will be of benefit to both myself and, crucially, others. For most of the last thirty-seven years, my direction was fixed: I needed to figure out how to provide the resources that would give the Beloved’s and my children what my mother once described as “all of the necessities and some of the luxuries”...

Read More

Political Realignment?

Over the last couple of months, I have been doing a lot of thinking about President Trump and our country’s bitter partisan divides.

As longtime Civil Horizon readers know, I have mixed feelings about our new president – in whom, from a policy perspective, I see strong positives and equally strong negatives; my conflicted feelings mirror those of the voices of the establishment right – particularly, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and National Review. I would describe these views as not NeverTrump, but a distinct mixture of hopes and fears.

At the same time, the voices of the establishment left – particularly the “news” pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post – and mainstream (meaning: of the left) broadcast outlets like CNN and MSNBC, can only be descri...

Read More

Obama Smiles

It has been my view from the start that Obamacare would surely fail economically because of the perverse incentives it created, but might well succeed politically if the goal was to create a bigger constituency for fully nationalized healthcare. This bifurcation explains the dishonest manner in which the bill was promoted, of which Jonathan Gruber, who was one of Obamacare’s principal architects, boasted on TV (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G790p0LcgbI – watch the clip, it’s amazing).

That Obamacare is failing in economic terms is now clear. Some exchanges are shutting down as insurers that have received billions in subsidies from the federal government find that notwithstanding those subsidies they are losing enormous amounts of money...

Read More

Against Multiculturalism

Take a moment to think again about one of the most important sentences ever written:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, the Founders set out a proudly universalist vision of natural rights. If all men are created equal, then preferences for one tribe, sect or class over another, whether in law or custom, are wrong.

This statement was a (literally) revolutionary rejection of the caste systems – and tribe-based identities – of other nations of the world. It spoke of universal natural rights...

Read More

Abortion and The Role of Government

I really don’t think you care what I think about abortion and, for the most part, I’m ok with that. Most likely, either you think it is a morally neutral medical procedure and every woman’s natural right, or you think it’s murder, straight up. It is, ah, unlikely that a blog post is going to convince you to change positions.

Even so, I might be able to convince you to rethink the role of government as regards abortion and other matters of widespread and profound disagreement.

***

I recently had a conversation with someone who is terribly afraid that the new Administration will defund Planned Parenthood. I told her that I think that the government should defund Planned Parenthood – for the exact same reason, ironically, that I wouldn’t support an outright abortion ban; I also told...

Read More

Technology, Privacy and Freedom

Not long ago, the Beloved and I took a three-day trip to visit our older son and daughter-in-law in New Orleans. We flew from LaGuardia.

As we have long been accustomed to doing when leaving for short trips, we drove to the airport rather than use a taxi or car service. Big mistake: we had forgotten that the enormous old parking garage near the main terminal has been temporarily torn down as part of rebuilding the airport.

We were directed to park in a remote area that I had never seen before. As we awaited the bus that would take us through the construction mess and back to the terminal, I noticed a sign announcing that cash would not be accepted for payment on retrieving our car.

I wondered out loud to the Beloved if it was illegal for the Port Authority to refuse to accept cash: it say...

Read More

Under a Steel-Gray Sky

Two days ago I slipped in some mud while carrying my kayak up a hill. I caught myself, but in doing so I seem to have hurt something deep in my right shoulder. Since then the right side of my torso has ached.

This morning, at the suggestion of my Beloved Spouse, I went outside to sit in the hot tub by our pool. I am not really a hot tub guy – I have probably used it a dozen times in as many years – but she thought the heat and bubble jets might help lessen my shoulder pain.

So I sat in the steaming water under a steel-gray sky; to my surprise, my thoughts turned to an old friend.

***

Doug and I went to boarding school together. We got to know each other through rowing; he was a big, athletic guy – a gentle giant. Though we were two years apart, we became fast friends.

For we were n...

Read More

Babies, Cultures and Politics

Last weekend, the Beloved Spouse and I took care of our four month old grandson for about twenty hours. He is a beautiful, generally happy baby, but he is quite capable of letting everybody know when something isn’t right. It turns out that twenty hours is a pretty good while.

In the decades since we had babies of our own, I had forgotten just how needy and vulnerable they are. Caring for one is very nearly a ’round-the-clock activity.

Helping to take care of the young prince (well, to us) for even that brief period brought some thoughts to mind. The first was that it’s amazing that our ancestors in the hunter-gatherer days survived infancy. Their parents had to have been unbelievably tough and no less loving than parents are today. Indeed, arguably they had to be more so.

The second is ...

Read More

Rich State, Poor State

Many people consider Connecticut to be one of the richest American states; if you google “wealthiest states by income” it comes up in the top three. Lots of wealthy – or, to be more precise about what’s being measured – high-income people live in Connecticut. Well, fewer every day, but I’ll get back to that.

The state itself, as distinguished from the people who live there, is broke. Really broke. It ranks last among the states in fiscal solvency (http://mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings); its debts – on and off balance sheet – dwarf reasonable estimates of its ability to pay them.

Ah, you might think (especially if you are a Democrat or a member of a public employee union) – the state will just have to squeeze more taxes out of its wealthy residents to meet its future needs...

Read More