30 April 2009


"Self-sufficiency is the road to poverty."

This idea is from Russell Roberts, an economist who blogs at Cafe Hayek.

At first I found this idea to be incorrect, as I prize self-sufficiency. However after just reading a small portion of Roberts' argument I see the truth in the statement. Wealth is a product of specialization and the division of labor; being able to trade with others.

Even though I see the truth in the idea, I am still trying to think what role self-sufficiency should play in my life. There is an amount of satisfaction that comes in being self-sufficient, but I think this is an attitude only held by those who are privileged with enough leisure that self-sufficiency is a choice rather than a necessity.

25 April 2009

Bribery and the Republic

I received the following quote the other day and was struck once again by the clarity with which de Tocqueville wrote about the American people. I am sure this applies to all peoples, but I find it especially scary at this time in the history of the United States of America.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money
- Alexis de Tocqueville

22 April 2009

The Cost of Living

I haven't made it all the way through Barry Schwartz's The Cost of Living but I am intrigued by the premise of his book. Schwartz raises valid questions with regards to many aspects of our lives today, not only in this book but everything I have heard or read from him.

Here is a quote used in his book that captures the essence of his argument.
The burden of our civilization is not merely, as many suppose, that the product of industry is ill-distributed, or its conduct tyrannical, or its operation interrupted by embittered disagreements. It is that industry itself has come to hold a position of exclusive predominance among human interests, which no single interest, and least of all the provision of the material means of existence, is fit to occupy.
- R. H. Tawney, historian
Whether you refer to it as Western civilization, the rat race, or any other name I certainly feel this pull in my life. Perhaps this is only a problem we can have at this point in history when so many of us have so much leisure freedom. If we were living on the edge of hunger or survival from danger I am sure we wouldn't have these worries. The realities of our lives though is that we must face the question of where to place material goods and the getting of them in the priorities of our lives.

15 April 2009

Pleasures of eating

I recently finished Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. I highly recommend both that book and Pollan's earlier The Omnivore's Dilemma. Mentioned in Defense of Food is a short essay by Wendell Berry entitled The Pleasures of Eating.

I recommend the essay as it has some practical recommendations to bring our relationships with food into a healthier perspective. I found the following quote especially relevant.
Our kitchens and other eating places more and more resemble filling stations, as our homes more and more resemble motels. "Life is not very interesting," we seem to have decided. "Let its satisfactions be minimal, perfunctory, and fast." We hurry through our meals to go to work and hurry through our work in order to "recreate" ourselves in the evenings and on weekends and vacations. And then we hurry, with the greatest possible speed and noise and violence, through our recreation - for what? To eat the billionth hamburger at some fast-food joint hellbent on increasing the "quality" of our life? And all this is carried out in a remarkable obliviousness to the causes and effects, the possibilities and the purposes, of the life of the body in the world.

06 April 2009

A prophet's voice

I has set a personal goal to post to my blog on a more reliable schedule. I haven't always been keeping to it, partly because of the time it takes.

With the LDS general conference this past weekend one of the bits of counsel was to not spend too much time in things of little value. With that counsel in mind I now have no regrets in dialing back my efforts to post to my blog as often as I have.

02 April 2009

Rule of Law

I came across the following quote that I wanted to share.
The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. Thomas Paine stated in his pamphlet Common Sense (1776):

"For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other."
I can't speak to the how the rule of law applies in contemporary America, but I love the ideal.

Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense was written in argument for the American separation from Great Britain. I have put it onto my to-read list. I am curious what things still apply today.