I Don’t Want to Talk About It.

Is it possible to be thrown out of a tight-knit group that one was instrumental in forming? I have a chance to find out.

I am in a fabulous book club. I got the group rolling four or five years ago by recruiting a handful of close friends to the venture. On a rotating schedule, one person chooses a book, another cooks a meal and a third leads the discussion. We read all kinds of books, and our subsequent discussions are augmented by fine food and wine. We are just as competitive about the consumables as we are about the selections of, and our opinions about, the books.

Considering that the book club is small, and consists exclusively of people who are sociologically similar (we are all prosperous men, 55+) the points of view represented are widely divergent: our political and religious or...

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A Traitor to My Class?

I do not give to Princeton, where I went to college.

Last Friday evening I had dinner with three close friends who among them have four Ivy League degrees, including ones from Harvard and Yale. In the course of our conversation I mentioned that I don’t give to my alma mater and added that the institutions that we graduated from have so much money that they are accountable to no one but themselves. None of my friends took issue with my comment – which is interesting, because all four of us have long made philanthropic commitments important parts of our lives.

Harvard, Yale and Princeton have endowments that total about $80 billion between them...

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Institutionalized “Diversity” as Racism

I am well aware that although I strive to express my views with civility, some Civil Horizon posts are taken as offensive by those who differ strongly with the positions I set forth. Let this introduction serve as a “trigger warning” to such people: this post may particularly offend you, as I will be taking on an idea that lots of people – including many of whom I am quite fond – hold dear. If you are one of those who will vehemently disagree with what I write this time, I ask that you engage with the ideas that I am setting down and not read into the post an animus that is not there.

“Diversity”, as that term is used in academia, in government and among corporations seeking to mollify the foregoing, is profoundly racist in its intent and effects...

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An Interesting Idea

This weekend I read an article (http://national.deseretnews.com/article/4039/how-high-taxes-and-regulation-are-killing-one-of-the-most-prosperous-states-in-the-nation.html) that made the point that upstate New York has been devastated by the urban-oriented, left-wing policies favored by New York’s downstate elites. Businesses and people have been leaving the vast area far north of the city for decades.

Upstate is becoming, in the article’s colorful phrase, “Detroit with grass”. Been there, seen that; some years ago, I rode my bicycle right across upstate New York, from before Buffalo to after Albany: the region is characterized by natural beauty and social squalor. It is the very picture of rural decline.

(Not mentioned in the article, but of particular interest given the prais...

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Race, Social Class and Personal Brands

Out for a walk just now, I had an unremarkable experience.

I crossed paths with an African-American of perhaps 30, well dressed and groomed, wearing horn-rimmed glasses not unlike my own. Had we spoken, I would guess that his diction and intonation, and quite possibly his accent, would also have been similar to mine; his appearance and manner strongly suggested that we were of the same social class.

We smiled silent greetings and kept on our merry ways.

Let’s think about brands for a minute or two, before coming back to race and social class.

McDonalds and Coca-Cola have built enormous businesses on the comfort that consumers take from knowing exactly what they’ll get when they purchase burgers or sodas...

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Environmental Elitists

Today’s ecological movement is profoundly elitist. It’s not about conservation anymore, or clean air; it’s about power over you and me.

Let’s start by considering the opposition to fracking:

The hydraulic fracturing revolution has been hugely beneficial to our country (well, apart from the fact that it arguably, and if so ironically, provided the economic boost that enabled our anti-fossil-fuels – and otherwise feckless – President to be reelected), but environmentalists, crony capitalists and some of our nation’s most determined enemies are fighting it tooth and claw. Even Andy Cuomo won’t allow it; he wants to run for President someday, and he knows who gives to Democrats.

Over the last five or six years, as fracking technology has allowed lots of old wells to come back on line,...

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It’s Never Enough

A lot of ideas for new taxes are being bandied about. The President wants to more heavily tax investments, inherited property and even college savings plans. Mayor de Blasio wants to tax commuters and wealthy out-of-town apartment owners. And many on the left are arguing that since oil prices have fallen, we should dramatically increase taxes on petroleum products – the idea being that consumers won’t notice the new levies, while higher gas prices will both bring forth a gusher of tax revenues and discourage driving – a twofer, from their perspective.

These various ideas got me to wondering: can we even imagine a scenario in which those on the left would say: “That’s it. We have enough in tax revenue; now it’s time for the government to live within its means. “

No, we cannot.

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The Old Continent(s?)

At present, I am sitting in the bar of an old hotel in Lisbon, nursing a drink while my beloved has a pot of tea. Over the last couple of days, we have walked all over this city.

Europe is the cradle of Western Civilization; it is breathtakingly beautiful and its inhabitants have refined the enjoyment of life’s physical delights to a high art. Even so, its present state saddens me: Europe is tired.

For those who have money and live here or, like us, are just passing through, life is still beautiful, but whole countries look backward with nostalgia and forward with concern.

Europe’s native populations have opted for the illusions of security – personal and societal – provided by their local governments and the EU – over grander visions and more sustaining values.

For most Western Europeans,...

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Identity and Belonging

We tend to define our individual identities largely by reference to groups. Each of us can be seen as part of countless definable groups; for example, I am an American; I am a man; I am middle-aged; I am a husband and father; I am a business-person; I am a blogger; I am a (non-doctrinaire) libertarian; I am a WASP. I could go on and on. So could you, about anybody.

Groups are communally defined: others must share an understanding of the definitions of the groups by which we characterize ourselves. We pick and choose which group identities are more important in our own eyes.

The sense of belonging in particular groups becomes an important part of how we see ourselves. Indeed, we need to belong to groups that help form our identities...

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The Big Walk

The posts below describe The Big Walk – from Grand Central Terminal to Old Lyme, CT – in sequential order.

These posts differ slightly from the ones I wrote each day after walking for six or seven hours. I have cleaned up the typos, added a few interesting details, and cut a bit here and there to make the original posts fit more smoothly into one continuous narrative.

Day One (7/26/14)

TBW2

Walid, yours truly and Vinny

Vinny, Walid and I had a great day today. We walked from Grand Central Terminal to my home in southern Westchester County – roughly 18 miles by the circuitous route that we followed through midtown, Harlem, the neighborhoods of northwestern Manhattan and the central and northeastern sections of the Bronx.

Everything worked...

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