Is Happiness Possible ?

The following essay was written by Dr. Michael J. Hurd, at drhurd.com.  His work can be found on his website’s “Daily Dose of Reason,” as well his many books.  He is a practicing psychotherapist.

How do you know if your standard of happiness is realistic?

I hear a lot of people asking, “Do I want too much?”

I know of two ways to answer this question.

Does somebody you know, or know about, have what you want? Does the evidence support your perception? If so, then you know it’s possible. While the fact someone else has what you want does not guarantee you can have it, it shows you it’s possible. There’s nothing in the laws of nature to prevent it.

Second, form a hypothesis. Decide what you want and then break it down. “What would 10 percent of what I want look like?” Then hypothesize or speculate how long it will take you to get it. Come up with a critical path or plan for obtaining it.

Then stop worrying or wondering. Simply execute your plan over time.

Either you’ll get the 10 percent, or you won’t. But half the battle is trying, and most failure to attain results from lack of trying.

Caution: There are no guarantees. But there are almost always possibilities. People give up on the possibilities, and that’s why they become depressed, sad or hopeless.

It’s not, “I didn’t get what I want and now I’m depressed.” Most of the time, the truth is much closer to, “I gave up on what I wanted, and now I’m depressed.”

When people feel depressed, they mourn their loss of hope more than the fact they know they tried their best and failed. And those who try their best generally accomplish more than expected, if not everything.

It’s giving up that kills people more than not getting.

What I’m saying applies to the material or the non-material. It applies equally to things, wealth or attributes of skill, intelligence or virtue.

As psychological theorist Aaron Beck once wrote, man is a practical scientist in everyday life. Using reason and applying it to our lives and emotions makes both logical and psychological sense.

If only more people did this, the world would be infinitely better. The good news is you can make your own life better right now by doing it.

Good Globalism vs. Bad Globalism

Globalism” and “globalization,” are terms that suffer from a lack of any precise definition. The terms are used freely by a wide variety of commentators to mean both good and bad things — many of which are opposites of each other. Sometimes globalism means lowering trade barriers. Other times it means aggressive foreign policy through international organizations like NATO. Other times it means supporting a global bureaucracy like the United Nations.

This lack of precision was recently featured in The New York Times with Bret Stephens’s column “In Praise of Globalists.” Stephens however, also fails to make any serious attempt at defining globalism. He feigns an attempt to define globalism, but in the end, it turns out the column is just a means of making fun of Trump voters and rubes who don’t subscribe to Stephens’s allegedly cosmopolitan views.

Stephens tells us that globalists want to “make the world a better place,” thus implying that non-globalists don’t.  We’re informed that globalists value military alliances and free trade. But given that Stephen’s isn’t willing to define these terms or tell us how these institutions are used to make the world “a better place,” we’re still left wondering if globalism is a good thing. When international alliances are used to justify the dropping of bombs on civilians or turning Iraq into a basket-case and safe haven for al Qaeda, is that making the world a better place? When the EU uses “free trade” agreements as a means to crush entrepreneurs under the weight of a thousand taxes and regulations, is that making the world a better place?

Globalism: Conflating both Pro-Market and Anti-Market Forces

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Globalism has long been a heavily abused term that includes everything from lowering taxes to waging elective wars. For critics on the right, globalism must be suspect because so many center-left politicians are regarded as “globalists.”  Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama are all regarded as dyed-in-the-wool globalists who also advocate for greater government control of markets.

Simultaneously, “globalists” have also long been attacked by anti-capitalists. They see globalism as working hand-in-hand with “neoliberals” who are impoverishing the world by pushing for the spread of market forces, free trade, and support for less government intervention in daily life.

These critics of so-called neoliberalism therefore attack organizations widely perceived to be “globalist” like the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization. Unfortunately, though, the critics attack these organizations for the wrong reasons. These globalist organizations deserve to be criticized, but not because they push some aspects of economic liberalization that are actually good. They should be criticized because they primarily act as political organizations that enhance the ability of some powerful states to intimidate and politically manipulate other, less powerful states.

This merging of free trade, military interventionism, and bureaucratic politicking under one umbrella of “globalism” ends up confusing the issue of globalism almost beyond repair.

But there is still hope for the term.

Historically, Globalism Is the Ideology of Peace and Freedom

Historically, it is important to remember that globalism is intimately connected to liberalism, the ideology of freedom and free trade.

It is not a coincidence that one of the nineteenth century’s most effective proponents of liberalism was Richard Cobden, who fought tirelessly against both trade barriers and against aggressive foreign policy. Cobden can be credited with waging an effective ideological war against the mercantilism of his day which was characterized by nationalist ideas in which both economic success and military security were zero sum games that required highly interventionist government institutions.

Cobden’s program, instead, was one of peace and free trade, which was then rightly regarded as a program of internationalism. Thomas Woords notes:

Although Cobden’s program would doubtless be stigmatized in our day as “isolationism,” free economic intercourse and cultural exchange with the world can hardly be described as isolation. In his day, in fact, Cobden was appropriately dubbed the “International Man.” And that, indeed, is what he was. Peace, free trade, and nonintervention — these ideas, Cobden believed, were not simply the ideological commitments of one particular party, but rather the necessary ingredients for the progress and flourishing of civilization.

We might say Richard Cobden was one of the first true European globalists. Cobden was further supported by the great French free-trader and anti-socialist Frédéric Bastiat who relentlessly called for the free flow of of goods while denouncing efforts by government institutions to “mold mankind” or impose regimentation on the population.

Thus, the liberals of the nineteenth century who supported greater freedom of movement in both workers and goods, and non-interventionist foreign policy, might be perplexed were they to see what passes for “globalism” today.

We are often told, even by pro-market globalists, that we need international organizations like the WTO to “ensure” that free trade prevails. This has always been a less-than-convincing claim. As Carmen Dorobăț has shown, there is not any actual evidence that the WTO really lowers trade barriers. Freedom in trade has grown more outside the WTO framework than within it.  All that is necessary to reap the benefits of free trade is to unilaterally remove barriers to trade. 

The European Commission meanwhile might facilitate trade within its trade bloc, but it acts as an enormous impediment to truly free and global trade.

Even worse is the foreign policy of the new globalists who support an endless number of wars and military interventions on “humanitarian” grounds. Enormous military bureaucracies like NATO, amazingly, are considered to be “globalist” organizations as well.

Political Globalism vs. Economic Globalism 

If we wish to end this confusion, though, we need to separate political globalism from economic globalism.

When we do this, we find that economic globalism is a force for enormous good in the world, but political globalism is primarily a tool for increasing the power of states.

As to economic globalism, we can see that again and again that the free flow of goods and services, unimpeded by states, improves international relations and increases standards of living.  Where governments have increasingly joined the “globalized” economy, extreme poverty declines while health and well being increases.  Latin American states that have embraced trade and freer economies, for example, have experienced growth. Those states that stick to the regimented economies of old continue to stagnate.  These benefits, however, can be — and have been — achieved by decentralized, unilateral moves toward free trade and deregulated economies. No international bureaucracy is necessary.

This is economic globalization: opening up the benefits of global trade, entrepreneurship, and investment to a larger and larger share of humanity.

Meanwhile, political globalization is an impediment to these benefits: Political globalists at the World Health Organization, for example, spend their days releasing reports on how people shouldn’t eat meat and how we might regulate such behavior in the future. Political globalists hatch new schemes to drive up the cost of living for poor people in the name of preventing climate change. Meanwhile, the World Bank issues edicts on how to “modernize”economies by increasing tax revenues — and thus state power — while imposing new regulations.

It’s essential to make these distinctions. Economic globalism brings wealth. Political globalism brings poverty.

Economic globalism is about getting government out the way. It’s about laissez-faire, being hands, off, and promoting the freedom to innovate, trade, and associate freely with others.

Political globalism, on the other hand, is about control, rules, central planning, and coercion.

Some careless observers may lump all this together and declare “globalism” to be a wonderful thing. But when we pay a little more attention to the details, things aren’t quite so clear. —by Ryan McMaken, Ludwig von Mises Institute

Is Secession Legal? | An Open Letter to Attorney General Sessions

No, Mr. Attorney-General, secession and nullification are not settled law.  Laws against nullification and secession are the illegitimate offspring of the Civil War.

The Founders were secessionists, no Mr. Sessions?  Were you asleep during your 6th grade history class as much you are today?  Every government that exceeds its constitutionally mandated powers is illegitimate.  As such, the states are free to go.  Haven’t you noticed that the federal government has completely trashed the Tenth Amendment guaranteeing the states and the people the power of authority over those powers not granted the federal government under Article 1, Section 8?  When you assert that federal law is the supreme law of the land, are you declaring in essence that the Tenth Amendment is null and void?  If so, you are a feckless traitor.
I would under ordinary and legitimate circumstances agree with your position on California’s “sanctuary state” laws and its openly impeding the enforcement of federal immigration laws.  The Constitution is quite clear that immigration is an authorized power of the federal government under Article 1, Section 8.
But given the fact that the federal government has exceeded the powers authorized by USC Article 1, Section 8, so egregiously, so flagrantly and in so many ways over so many years, and all but ignored our sacred Tenth Amendment, it is clear that our government is illigimate, and that under the circumstances, I cannot support your stance.
I suggest you read the attached essay.  You might learn something.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-secession-legal/

Capitalism Gets No Respect and No Thanks (von Mises)

It’s so true. In today’s world a pedophile gets more respect than a capitalist. Everything we have, including the money to support government at every level, is made possible by capitalism. Government cannot create wealth; it can only redistribute it or destroy it. Every dime the government has has been generated by the private ( i.e. capitalist) sector. So if you’re getting food stamps, or welfare in any other form, you have capitalism to thank for it.

Capitalism, it turns out, is the ultimate form of social justice.   But, you’ll never hear this from the lame-stream media, or even the most ardent conservative/libertarian politicians. Nor will you hear it in any of the hallowed halls of academia. Should anyone dare challenge the prevailing campus ideology, they risk ostracism, threats to persons and property, loss of employment, administrative disciplinary action, or even bodily harm.

In any corner of the world, you’ll find few, if any, open supporters of capitalism or free enterprise.  It’s just too risky to your life and livelihood.

We all owe a debt of the gratitude to the late economist/philosopher, Ludwig von Mises (29 September 1881 – 10 October 1973).  Von Mises, along with Carl Menger and Friedrich Hayek, is one of the founding fathers of the Austrian School of Economics. Mises wrote and lectured extensively on behalf of classical liberalism. He is best known for his work on praxeology, a study of human choice and action.

His masterpiece,  Human Action, is considered the very best economics text by lovers of liberty everywhere.  His crowning achievement was his induction into the Artful Dilettante Hall of Fame in 2016.  He was among the original inductees.

Capitalism Gets No Respect and No Thanks (von Mises)

Benjamin Franklin on the Welfare State

“I fear the giving mankind a dependence on anything for support in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during youth and health, tends to flatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure.”

— Ben Franklin, quoted in Benjamin Franklin: An American Life  by Walter Isaacson

 

Democracy v. Republic

I’ve had it with pundits, politicians, and people who should know better that continuously refer to our country as a democracy.  The latest such reference was by renowned political commentator Thomas Friedman, who has never been confused with an intelligent person. But he has lots of company among the chattering classes, and even more so from among our so-called educators. At every educational level, teachers, professors, administrators, and even the elite collegiate Boards-of-Directors wrongly refer to the United States as a democracy and, in general, display an overall ignorance of American history and our Founding principles. And unfortunately, our youth (and their parent-underwriters) are the unwitting victims of this ignorance. At one time, our educators and learned elders passed on their wisdom to an eagerly receptive youth armed with the critical thinking skills necessary to challenge any such drivel. Now, our elders can be confidently relied upon to confer their collective stupidity upon a submissive, blindly receptive youth.

Repeat after me—the United States is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. The Founders, to a man, loathed and feared democracy. This is clearly supported by this selection of excerpts which illustrate why the Founders struggled mightily to forge a Republic rather than a democracy:

James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10:

In a pure democracy, “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, “… that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”

John Adams said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Chief Justice John Marshall observed,

“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.

In Federalist Paper #10, James Madison gave a comprehensive dissertation on how a Republic would guard against such losses of freedom, in an effort to get our proposed Constitution ratified by the people and their states.

The following are excerpts from Madison’s Federalist #10:

… When a majority is included in the faction, the form of popular government … enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. …

… Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security and the rights of property, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. …

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.

Unlike today’s benighted political hacks, the Founders were deeply immersed in ancient history and the Classics, mostly Greece and Rome.  And they could read the Classics and comment about them fluently in the languages in which the texts were originally written. Latin and Greek were required courses of study in nearly every one-room schoolhouse in nearly every village and hamlet.

Some time ago, I was fortunate to have acquired an early 1700’s school reader. Today’s Millennials would become apoplectic and break out in hives if they had to master the material in this reader.  For example, say, schoolmaster to student:

“Mr. Penopscot, please stand and recite the declension of the infinitive “to be” in both Latin and Greek. Any mistakes will result in your being responsible for cleaning the common outdoor latrine for a month.”

The Founding generation knew instinctively that independence and liberty could not be secured and maintained without a clear understanding of these principles.  And they had no aversion to the swift application of corporal punishment like the one that befell our unfortunate fictional Mr. Penopscot.  Today’s parents would quickly lawyer up to challenge these harsh curricular standards, while the kids would endure years of mandatory emotional counseling to comfort them through such trauma.

At one time, nearly every student knew the differences between a democracy v. republic, dependence v. independence, God’s Law, natural law, and common law. Today’s youth (and most adults) are woefully ignorant in the basics of America’s Founding, and the principles underlying the Founding and the Constitution. It’s beyond sad—it’s downright scary. The Republic cannot survive such ignorance.

More than anything, I would really like to see President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos, using every tool at their disposal, to rigorously encourage revolutionary curricular changes in our public schools and stop the corruption of our children’s minds with cultural marxism. I would like to see the elimination of Common Core, the replacement of one-sided indoctrination with reason and critical thinking skills, and the wholehearted, nationwide restoration and support of our rights of Free Speech at every level of education, public and private.

The president and secretary should require every institution receiving so much as a dime of federal funding to be fully committed to honoring our rights of Free Speech, welcoming and ensuring the safety of those on campuses whose views are at variance with the prevailing campus ideology, and encouraging the open exchange and debate of ideas across the ideological spectrum. If you don’t like someone on TV, you don’t smash the TV, you change the channel. Similarly, if you don’t agree with the views of a speaker on campus, you don’t silence the speaker, you just respectfully stay home.

Whatever happened to the priceless maxim of Evelyn Beatrice Hall ?

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

It would be easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle than to find a university professor who stands shoulder to shoulder with Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

Feminist Business School Seeks to Eradicate Individualism, Merit and Competition

The concept has been tried several times throughout recorded history. Each and every time, it has been an abysmal failure. I’m talking, of course, about socialism. It has been marketed and packaged under different names. But the objective remains the same—trash and condemn liberty and individualism as a tool of “white privilege and racial oppression. Trash and comdemn free-market capitalism as an socioeconomic system designed to exploit minorities in order to maintain the status quo.

Warning:  Evergreen State is among the most radical marxist colleges and universities in the United States.  The school is truly an offspring of the Frankfurt School of Critical Thought.  They are fully dedicated to the eradication of Western Civilization, free-market capitalism, natural rights, and individualism.

https://drhurd.com/2018/02/14/feminist-business-school-seeks-eradicate-individualism-merit-competition/