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Machan's Musings—Galbraith's Obituary Distortions

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Submitted by removed on Mon, 2006-05-01 08:39

Not even the obituaries can be trusted now. Having been told of the death of John Kenneth Galbraith, the famed socialist economist—who taught at Harvard University for most of his life and was once John Kennedy’s ambassador to India—I read his obituary in The New York Times (both print and on line) and on several Web sites, including, via my Hotmail account.

I have been following the works of Galbraith for many years, since the 1960s after his The Affluent Society was published in 1958 in which, among other things, he aired his oft-reprinted attack on advertising. This is the piece that presented the view that ads produce desires in us which we then must satisfy, thus becoming addicted to products and services we do not need and taking resources from important public projects and diverting them into the coffers of greedy corporations. It is also where Lyndon Johnson’s idea of the Great Society, following such previous utopian statist experiments as FDR’s New Deal and JFK’s New Frontier, got its send up.

Recent Comments:
The dead — by Kenny on Tue, 2006-05-02 20:12
I remember... — by Ross Elliot on Tue, 2006-05-02 01:11
I remember ... — by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2006-05-02 01:00

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Machan's Musings—Teaching versus Preaching

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Submitted by removed on Sat, 2006-04-08 01:08

After having taught college for nearly forty years, I can report that a great many teachers use their class rooms to preach, not to teach. (The same is reportedly the case in secondary schooling but I am not qualified to speak to that.)

In the tradition of liberal education, which is what is supposed to guide the profession of teaching, when professors enter the classroom, they are supposed to present to their students facts about the subject matter and, where appropriate, the variety of viewpoints that have gained prominence concerning it. The former approach is mainly associated with the natural sciences, the latter with the humanities and social sciences. Of course, facts are involved in both and even where there are different viewpoints afoot, it doesn’t mean they are all equally sound. But because they have all gained respectability, the professor is not supposed to take sides. He or she is supposed to familiarize students with these prominent perspectives and leave it to the students to decide which position is the most reasonable.

Machan's Musings - Impossible Egalitarianism

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Submitted by removed on Wed, 2006-03-29 00:59

Among my many acquaintances there are some avid egalitarians. Among these a few are very influential, a couple of them leaders in the global movement called “the capabilities approach.” They have written extremely well-published books and essays advocating global wealth redistribution. Some have even insisted that nearly all the resources possessed by those in developed countries need to be sent abroad to be used by the poor. As one has written, “On pain of living a life that's seriously immoral, a typical well-off person, like you and me, must give away most of her financially valuable assets, and much of her income, directing the funds to lessen efficiently the serious suffering of others.”

Recent Comments:
Tibor! — by eg on Wed, 2006-03-29 05:56
Magnificent — by Pete L on Wed, 2006-03-29 05:46

Machan's Musings - Business Ethics Distortions

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Submitted by removed on Thu, 2006-03-16 22:54

Ethics is an ancient discipline, mostly tackled by philosophers. It addresses the issue of how human beings should choose to live, what standards should guide them in deciding what conduct is right, what is wrong. And it concentrates mainly on broad principles or virtues—honesty, generosity, temperance, courage, moderation, prudence, and so forth. Philosophers tend to argue about the exact ranking of these principles or virtues, as well as about whether ethics is possible at all.

There has always been some interest on the part of certain philosophers in the application of ethics to specific areas of human life—parenting, farming, medicine, business, engineering, and so forth. For some years, however, the study of business affairs was completely taken over by economics, which is deemed a social science. Thus ethics had been set aside where business was being investigated—it was assumed, largely, that what happens in commerce and business goes on as a kind of natural process, driven by the innate human impulse to prosper—in other words, the profit motive.

Recent Comments:
Well said. — by Prima Donna on Fri, 2006-03-17 23:12

Machan's Musings—Here We Go Again!

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Submitted by removed on Sat, 2006-03-04 11:38

The lawsuit against a Kentucky school district over a Confederate flag
prom dress, set to go to trial in August, is yet another illustration of
what trouble is caused by public or government schooling. When Jacqueline
Duty reportedly alleges that the Russell Independent Board of Education
denied her right to free speech when she was barred from her senior prom
in May 2004 because of a homemade dress bearing the confederate flag, she
shows that freedom of speech and government schooling are plainly

But this has been clear for years. All those lawsuits against school
boards about making students say the Pledge of Allegiance, saying a prayer

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