Month: June 2015

Gordon Tullock: The Vote Motive

I recently read The Vote Motive, Tullock’s basic introduction to public choice, the field he and James Buchanan helped pioneer as the economic analysis of government.  The volume is very slim, yet very insightful.  Many of Tullock’s observations challenge deeply held assumptions about the way politics works.  Why do people ascribe a different morality to public, as opposed to private actors?  Do individual votes “matter” from a results perspective?  Why is majority rule so coveted among modern democracies?

I have personally found the questioning of widely believed truths, regardless of the subject matter, to be particularly stimulating and often rewarding as well.  Four or five years ago I dropped the view that it was important for a citizen to exercise their right to vote in a society with institutions shaped, at least somewhat, by democracy.  I didn’t need a ton of persuading and it was Tullock who did most of the legwork to get me there.  The truth was I had never sat down and really thought about why voting was so crucial or attempted to reason my way to a conclusion.  It was simply ingrained in societal norms and taught in school starting very early.  Woe be unto those who don’t believe voting is all it’s cracked up to be.  There is very little room for heretics among the voting fanatics.

Well I can tell you it felt really good to throw off that political dogma and to embrace the fact that your individual vote means almost precisely nothing when it comes to changing political outcomes.  The only way your vote “means” anything, the vast vast majority of the time, is to the extent it makes you feel good.  That’s it.  And so I can’t help but smirk when I see the confused faces of people churning through that startlingly new and scary mental calculus – the same one I churned through a handful of years ago – the first time someone questions what they presumed was a given.

The median reader of this site is perhaps more likely to already doubt or disown the assumptions Tullock attacks in the following quotes, yet I still think they are worth reproducing here.

Excerpts from The Vote Motive.

On politicians’ motives (p. 59):

The analysis of the politician’s tactics indicates simply that he is attempting to be re-elected to office, not that he is attempting to maximise the public interest.  We think this situation is realistic, and, in particular, that politicians trying to be re-elected are more likely to be re-elected than those who are not.

There is no reason why we should be disturbed by this phenomenon.  The market operates by providing a structure in which individuals who simply want to make money end up producing motor-cars that people want.  Similarly, democracy operates so that politicians who simply want to hold public office end up by doing things the people want.

On bureaucracy (p. 61):

Bureaucrats are like other men.  This proposition sounds very simple and straightforward, but the consequences are a radical departure from simple orthodox economic theory.  If bureaucrats are ordinary men, they will make most of (not all) their decisions in terms of what benefits them, not society as a whole.  Like other men, they may occasionally sacrifice their own well-being for the wider good, but we should expect this to be exceptional behaviour.

Most of the existing literature on the machinery of government assumes that, when an activity is delegated to a bureaucrat, he will either carry out the rules and regulations or will make decisions in the public interest regardless of whether it benefits him or not.  We do not make this assumption about businessmen.  We do not make it about consumers in the market.  I see no reason why we should make it about bureaucrats.

On logrolling, or the “the practice of exchanging favors, especially in politics by reciprocal voting for each other’s proposed legislation” (p. 79):

All of this is perfectly normal, not only for British politics but for democratic politics in general.  Indeed it is also normal for non-democratic politics, although we know less about them, and hence it is not so clear there.  In all democracies that I know of there is both public criticism of logrolling as immoral, as well as the widespread use of it in making government decisions.

and p. 86:

We should not be unhappy about these very common democratic practices, although normal discussion of them is condemnatory.  There is no reason why minorities should not be served by democracies.

On majority voting (p. 92):

The total cost inflicted upon society by various rules is calculated by simply summing these two cost lines, as in the total cost line.  The low point on this line is the optimal voting rule for the society.  Only by coincidence would it be the simple majority.   For important matters, I think in general it would be well above the majority and, indeed, most formal constitutions require more than a majority for at least some matters.

Majority voting is thus generally not optimal.  For important matters we would require something more.  This conclusion is in general accord with constitutional processes throughout the world.  But my opinion is that ‘reinforced majorities’, say two-thirds majority, should be used much more widely than they now are.  Indeed, I have on occasion recommended that the President of the United States always veto all bills in order to compel a two-thirds vote for everything in both houses of Congress.  Startling though this proposal is, the analysis which leads to it is fairly orthodox political economy.

(Image source)


Dom Aidan Kavanagh on sacramental discourse

From On Liturgical Theology:

It would be foolish not to recognize that placing sacramental discourse prior to, above, and in a role which subordinates theology in the modern academic sense is a difficult if not incomprehensible move for many people. We generally think of the two sorts of discourse the other way around, theology coming first and sacramental discourse very much later as a possibly implied excursus off the former. Sacramental discourse in fact is often thought of as theological adiaphora best practiced by those with a taste for banners, ceremonial, and arts and crafts. It is regarded as an academically less than disciplined swamp in which Anglican high churchmen, Orthodox bishops, and many if not all Roman Catholics and others are hopelessly mired. …

The relationship of embroidery to the driving of a diesel locomotive seems easier to demonstrate than the connection between stoles and proclaiming the Gospel. Something here seems to have been enthusiastically trivialized. Incongruities are joined, reality warped, meaning maimed. Artifact becomes plaything, sacramentum a rubber duck.

Human language about worldly matters such as reality, life and death, City and Church, always goes “sacramental” when it gets beneath mere surface appearances. Scientists start talking about charmed quarks; Christians start talking about tombs and wombs. While the City may often seem little more than a cluster of stores and alleys, it is more than this because people live and work there, and their corporate aspirations image the City as exalted, timeless, with streets of gold and walls of precious stones, a heavenly Jerusalem. While the Church may often seem little more than an institution like all others, it has from the beginning been deemed more than that because its members are graced people. St. Paul called it a Body, a mysterious entity to which only the intimate metaphor of marriage between man and woman, that primordial human society, gives access.


‘I beg you, brethren, not to yield one inch to those who would for any reason … deprive you of your Tabernacles.’

Apropos this post and the Episcopal Church’s $42 million in property litigation costs, a word from Frank Weston, Anglican Bishop of Zanzibar, 1923:

I beg you, brethren, not to yield one inch to those who would for any reason or specious excuse deprive you of your Tabernacles. I beg you, do not yield, but remember when you struggle, or, as Father Frere told us to-day, when you fight for the Church—do remember that the Church is the body of Christ, and you fight in the presence of Christ. Do not forget that. I want you to make your stand for the Tabernacle, not for your own sakes but for the sake of truth first, and in the second place for the sake of reunion hereafter. But for the truth, because the one great thing that England needs to learn is that Christ is found in and amid matter—Spirit through matter—God in flesh, God in the Sacrament. But I say to you, and I say it to you with all the earnestness that I have, that if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in his Blessed Sacrament, then you have got to come out from before your Tabernacle and walk, with Christ mystically present in you, out into the streets of this country, and find the same Jesus in the people of your cities and your villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum.

Now mark that—this is the Gospel truth. If you are prepared to say that the Anglo-Catholic is at perfect liberty to rake in all the money he can get no matter what the wages are that are paid, no matter what the conditions are under which people work; if you say that the Anglo-Catholic has a right to hold his peace while his fellow citizens are living in hovels below the levels of the streets, this I say to you, that you do not yet know the Lord Jesus in his Sacrament. You have begun with the Christ of Bethlehem, you have gone on to know something of the Christ of Calvary—but the Christ of the Sacrament, not yet. Oh brethren! if only you listen to-night your movement is going to sweep England. If you listen. I am not talking economics, I do not understand them. I am not talking politics, I do not understand them. I am talking the Gospel, and I say to you this: If you are Christians then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the Throne of his glory, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, Jesus with you mystically as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down this country. And it is folly—it is madness—to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacraments and Jesus on the Throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children. It cannot be done.

In a bit of good news, the Fort Worth Anglican Diocese wins big in court!

Update: more good news — in South Carolina TEC is trying to settle.

White privilege is real, but mewling about it isn’t helping

During the hot racial strife of 1968, author James Baldwin was interviewed by Esquire magazine on the status of race relations in the country. Baldwin, whose works offered keen insight into the worldview of black America, didn’t pull any punches. He was up front with describing the ineptitude of white Americans in alleviating racial animosity. When asked why the state of New York planned to erect a government building in place of a black nationalist bookstore in Harlem, Baldwin plainly told the interviewer, “the American white man has proved, if nothing else, he is absolutely, endlessly, foolish when it comes to this problem.”

“Foolish” is a good way to describe Lehigh University visiting professor Christopher Driscoll. Stupidly garrulous may be another. Dr. Driscoll takes political correctness to a whole new level with his blog Shades of White. After co-hosting a rap music symposium (totally appropriate for a university) with two hip-hop educators (such pedagogy), Driscoll decided to issue “The Ten Cracka Commandments” to teach his fellow whites how to view and interact with black culture. Like Moses descending from Mount Sinai, the totally conscious professor wants, I think, to make sure his people aren’t creating a golden calf out of racial misunderstanding.

First, I’ll give credit where credit is due: Dr. Driscoll is as “white” as can be. His website’s profile picture shows him wearing bright yellow pants and loafers. For being a college professor and dressing like a Capitol Hill staffer, I grant Driscoll the title of “expert on white people.” He better be welcome.


Modernism is evil’s spell and we must defeat it: Pius X’s demolition of liberalism

Mandeville, LA – On today’s show I brought up the spell that modernity hath cast over Western man in nearly all his affairs and that St. Pope Pius X had warned, in Pascendi Dominici Gregis that this would happen and what the transgendered consequences would be. Those who think this enemy is but a political one must also be of the opinion that rotted meat is caused by food service wraps; that is the rot is from without not within. Pius X began Paschendi with what should be obvious today:

“It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast. For this reason it will be of advantage, Venerable Brethren, to bring their teachings together here into one group, and to point out their interconnection, and thus to pass to an examination of the sources of the errors, and to prescribe remedies for averting the evil results.” [emphasis mine-MC]

Most “conservatives” these days cannot conceive that their enemy is actually evil and not merely the Hollywood-movie type of evil that plays Mrs Clinton for eight years and then as an encore plays Mrs Clinton elect then Mrs Clinton appointed, who moonlights as a grandmother and sometimes wife who is, not coincidentally, sometimes a wife. This evil is also capable of playing philosopher, scientist, doctor and most frightfully priest and parson. Yet Pius X knew all this as yet another intellectual proof of the Holy Spirit that proves intellect.

“The following is their manner of stating the question: In the religious sense one must recognize a kind of intuition of the heart which puts man in immediate contact with the reality of God, and infuses such a persuasion of God’s existence and His action both within and without man as far to exceed any scientific conviction. They assert, therefore, the existence of a real experience, and one of a kind that surpasses all rational experience. If this experience is denied by some, like the Rationalists, they say that this arises from the fact that such persons are unwilling to put themselves in the moral state necessary to produce it. It is this experience which makes the person who acquires it to be properly and truly a believer.

How far this position is removed from that of Catholic teaching! We have already seen how its fallacies have been condemned by the Vatican Council. Later on, we shall see how these errors, combined with those which we have already mentioned, open wide the way to Atheism. Here it is well to note at once that, given this doctrine of experience united with that of symbolism, every religion, even that of paganism, must be held to be true.”

The protestant and Catholic war-hawk/neocon must not grant the above to be true, for they must do whatever is needed to continue their worship of the warfare state and the civil religion of “American Exceptionalism” they have chosen as ersatz Christianity. Why? Because if the modernists have made “every religion true” they have made Islam true, that scourge of “freedom” that knits the warfare state to the cloth of ‘Muricah. Islam cannot be True, because if it is then on what grounds do you abolish it and its followers? Put another way if every religion is true then there is no true religion, for Truth in its Divine form can have but one definition and has no expiration date. As the First Vatican council concluded:

“…the doctrine of faith, which God has revealed, has not been proposed as a philosophical discovery to be improved upon by human talent, but has been committed as a Divine deposit to the spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted by her.”

I don’t think that council was speaking of the 8th Day Adventist of the Serpent Handlers or the 63rd Street, Shrine of Sultan V the Beheader. St Thomas Aquinas probed this question as only Aquinas could and while he concluded that man can have no truth that is immutable precisely because God allows an initial “cause” to create that truth’s accidentals, God, because he exists out of time, has no such conditions.

“…if no intellect were eternal, no truth would be eternal. Now because only the divine intellect is eternal, in it alone truth has eternity. Nor does it follow from this that anything else but God is eternal; since the truth of the divine intellect is God Himself.

Order your copy of the Siege of Malta today!

Order your copy of the Siege of Malta today!

The mere use of the term “divine” should command use also of “universal” as in singular. But this must also not be admitted because we all know what the term “universal” means in the Greek and woe be I for using the “C” word and not referring to the Cardashians whose surname misnomer is required for my humor, though I find no humor in their name spelled correctly on a magazine cover near the qualifier “shocking!”

Let us return now to the courage and inerrant vision of our Saint, Pius X. For those whose Honey Boo Boo-scarred eyes fear exposure to Papal writ, I will inform you of Our Saint’s conclusion and plan to combat the modernists by which we are currently surrounded. Mind you this is not a surrounded in the General Custer sense of the term because Custer had violently assisted in the creation of his assassins while modern “conservative” man laid down his only weapon and happily joined his moral lynch mob. Never mind that Pius’s remedies were aimed at the Catholic Church, his courageous statement that error had no rights, including the right to print and speak as if under some sacred authority, speak volumes about the now unshackled evil’s near-complete control of the Media. In his book The Politically Correct Guide to the Constitution Kevin Gutzman had a running list of “Books You’re Not Supposed to Read.” Of course depriving the aspiring Facebook essayists of fodder for their judgement porn pronouncements is “against the first amendment’s free speech.” Pius X was not impressed, there was a civilization to save:

“In all episcopal Curias, therefore, let censors be appointed for the revision of works intended for publication, and let the censors be chosen from both ranks of the clergy – secular and regular – men of age, knowledge and prudence who will know how to follow the golden mean in their judgments. It shall be their office to examine everything which requires permission for publication…”

Some readers will recoil in horror at this statement and wonder when I will don my brown shirt, khaki riding pants and war-eagle hat (some assume I already own these wardrobe items but am forbidden from wearing them by my wife’s sartorial admonitions). “That’s fascist!” they yell and while it may be true that in secular states a Fascist would seek a ban on good books as in the Good Book you should read; at least the fascist recognizes what it is that threatens his hegemony and, after the ban, fears no damage to his stature among fellow demons at the Execution-Porn Club’s annual pancake supper. While the modern Christian has forgotten Christ’s promise that book bans, public rosaries and scarlet letters affixed to rainbow letters would assuredly earn a loving follower of his a cross of her very own.

Si me persecuti sunt, et vos persequentur;” i.e. “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you

The point is, Pius X could exercise what were once ordinary powers for extraordinary purposes, a condition that guided Christians and Christendom into their victories over all heresies, including, invading Ottoman armies and every demonic assault imaginable. Science and the liberal arts flourished and Europe bustled with secular advancement tempered by ecclesiastical assertion. This spread to the new world too, but the germ of the error-plagued modernist thinking was growing like kudzu on an Alabama roadside. The American experiment in “liberty” is exhibit A in the upcoming murder trial of Christendom, the Founders’ valiant efforts notwithstanding. It has resisted every secular and quasi-“evangelical” attempt to halt its slide into a democratic hedonism not seen since Nero, who at last word, was seething with jealously that he didn’t think of “gay” marriage. Benedict Options and conventions to change Articles offer no hope unless some portion of the citizenry learn humility of the heart and begin the arduous yet joyful sojourn back to Faith, Hope and Charity. What enemy has an answer to that, not experienced by glorious martyrs who are the venerable reason Christendom emerged over pagans and vikings? Our Saint encourages us thus:

Meanwhile, Venerable Brethren, fully confident in your zeal and work, we beseech for you with our whole heart and soul the abundance of heavenly light, so that in the midst of this great perturbation of men’s minds from the insidious invasions of error from every side, you may see clearly what you ought to do and may perform the task with all your strength and courage. May Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, be with you by His power; and may the Immaculate Virgin, the destroyer of all heresies, be with you by her prayers and aid.”


This post is republished from