vrijdag 4 juni 2010

Nieuwe boekenbestelling

Zoals sommigen wel weten, koop ik graag al eens een boek op amazon. De volgende boeken zijn onderweg. :)

In this witty and infectious book, Madsen Pirie provides a complete guide to using - and indeed abusing - logic in order to win arguments. He identifies with devastating examples all the most common fallacies popularly used in argument. We all like to think of ourselves as clear-headed and logical - but all readers will find in this book fallacies of which they themselves are guilty. The author shows you how to simultaneously strengthen your own thinking and identify the weaknesses in other people's arguments. And, more mischievously, Pirie also shows how to be deliberately illogical - and get away with it. This book will make you maddeningly smart: your family, friends and opponents will all wish that you had never read it.

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i can pretty much guarantee that after reading this book, one will never quite look at welfare in the same way as before. The main premise of this book is that government provides aid for the poor to control political unrest and to control labor.

The book starts off by tracing the history and development of welfare in western civilization. Prior to the early 16th century, caring for the poor was considered to be primarily the responsibility of the church or of those of the more prosperous who tried to purchase their salvation through almsgiving. Leaving charity to the church meant that few received aid and those not necessarily according to their need. This increased social unrest so governments began to be involved in providing for the poor. This was done for two primary reasons: 1.) To control social order and 2.) To extol the virtue of labor even at the lowest wages by making the treatment of the destitute so punitive and degrading that the no one wants to descend into beggary and pauperism.

The book details such early government programs as workhouses, labor yards, and poor law subsidies whereby parish churches were required to care for the poor in their area.

In the united States, welfare was addressed somewhat differently. Poverty in the U.S. was regarded as the obvious consequence of sloth and sinfulness. Relief was scattered and fragmentary-each township or county provided for its hungry in whatever manner it saw fit-giving of food, incarceration in almshouses, or indentured service. Poor relief was a local, not a state or national responsibility.

During the great Depression, unemployment became so widespread that the government was forced to develop programs to assist the poor and the unemployed. At first the government focused on direct relief, but as imm4ediate needs were satisfied, the government moved on to work relief which, interestingly, was opposed by business leaders because it was felt that government was encroaching on areas that had been primarily reserved for private enterprise.

As conditions stabilized, US policies changed to conform with the earlier view of poverty as being the rsult of sloth and sinfulness. Relief programs excluded able-bodied men. Man-in-the-house rules excluded aid to a mother who was in any way associated with a man, particularly if the man lived in her house. Women and/or children were given aid but at the same time assigned to private entrepreneurs who were told to use them in any way possible.

With the growing mechanization of southern agriculture, blacks migrated into the cities, particularly the northern cities where relief rules were not as restrictive. Four million blacks came to cities in less than three decades-congregated in largest cities in the north-New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington. Industry required an increasingly skilled labor force just as unskilled blacks reached cities in large numbers from the fields of the south, consequently, unemployment rose. Unrest mounted among poor blacks, culminating in the Civil Rights demonstrations of the early 60's.

Then was born the Great society as Democrats realized that blacks were located in states of the most strategic importance in presidential contests. Democrats were losing traditional support in the South, so they needed the support of the northern cities. Service programs were developed for inner city as part of LBJ's "War on Poverty". According to the book, the true objective of the "War on Poverty" was to reach blacks and integrate them into urban political system. Method was to offer federal funds for the ghettoes and to use federal funds to create pressure for reallocation of municipal services.

This book is eminently readable. I was assigned to read it for a college class and did not approach it with much enthusiasm, but I ended up thanking my professor for assigning it to me. Whether or not one buys into the book's overall premise, it certainly stimulates discussion about the overall treatment of poverty in the U.S. interrelationship of government welfare policies, racial politics, and politcal power plays.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a view of how society has responded to the needs of the poor in history, and how we continue to repond to the needs of the poor today.

It has become common knowledge that our educational system is in dire straights. Children graduate high school without knowing how to read while students are driven to violence by the brutal social climate of school. In Instead of Education John Holt gives us practical, innovative ideas for changing all that. He suggests creative ways to take advantage of the underused facilities we already have. Reading this brilliant educator revolutionizes our thinking about what schooling is for and what we can do to accomplish its true goals.

The history of the United States, from the 19th century to present day, is included in this examination of the very foundations of unwarranted government intrusiveness that illuminates the two essential elements that have led to the expansion of the state’s authority—the ideology that the government should serve as a savior whenever people face threats to their well-being and the public fear that follows the perception of a large-scale threat to peace or prosperity. When these two factors operate simultaneously, people demand that the government take protective measures on their behalf. Hence, in an outburst of opportunism, the growth of government accelerates during the crisis, at the expense of liberty. Dr. Higgs’s conclusion is undeniable: placing confidence in the government to function as savior or problem solver does not lead to the peace, prosperity, and safety that people crave. On the contrary, that misplaced confidence ultimately leads to tyranny and diminished security—in Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Neither liberty nor safety.”

Offering a powerful interpretation of U.S. political economy from the early-1930s to the end of the Cold War, this resource refutes many popular myths about the Great Depression and New Deal, the World War II economy, and the postwar national-security state that is still so pervasive today. What accounts for the extraordinary duration of the Great Depression? How did the war alter relations between government and leaders of big business? What is Congress’s role in the military-industrial-congressional complex? This book answers these and other crucial questions by presenting new insights and analyses along with statistical evidence that defies mainstream interpretation of economic history.

This revised edition of Applied Economics is about fifty percent larger than the first edition. It now includes a chapter on the economics of immigration and new sections of other chapters on such topics as the “creative” financing of home-buying that led to the current “subprime” mortgage crisis, the economics of organ transplants, and the political and economic incentives that lead to money earmarked for highways being diverted to mass transit and to a general neglect of infrastructure. On these and other topics, its examples are drawn from around the world. Much material in the first edition has been updated and supplemented. The revised and enlarged edition of Applied Economics retains the easy readability of the first edition, even for people with no prior knowledge of economics.

With a new preface by the author, this reissue of Thomas Sowell's classic study of decision making updates his seminal work in the context of The Vision of the Anointed. Sowell, one of America's most celebrated public intellectuals, describes in concrete detail how knowledge is shared and disseminated throughout modern society. He warns that society suffers from an ever-widening gap between firsthand knowledge and decision making -- a gap that threatens our very freedom because actual knowledge gets replaced by assumptions based on an abstract and elitist social vision of what ought to be.

Knowledge and Decisions, a winner of the 1980 Law and Economics Center Prize, was heralded as a "landmark work" and selected for this prize "because of its cogent contribution to our understanding of the differences between the market process and the process of government." In announcing the award, the center acclaimed Sowell, whose "contribution to our understanding of the process of regulation alone would make the book important, but in reemphasizing the diversity and efficiency that the market makes possible, [his] work goes deeper and becomes even more significant." "In a wholly original manner [Sowell] succeeds in translating abstract and theoretical argument into a highly concrete and realistic discussion of the central problems of contemporary economic policy." --F. A. Hayek "This is a brilliant book. Sowell illuminates how every society operates. In the process he also shows how the performance of our own society can be improved." --Milton Friedman

James C. Scott's research for this book began with an examination of the tensions between state authorities and various "unstable" individuals throughout history, from hunter-gatherer tribes to Gypsies to the homeless. He soon became fascinated, however, by the recurring patterns of failure and authoritarianism in certain social engineering programs aimed at bringing such people fully into the state's fold. Soviet collectivization, the Maoist Great Leap Forward, the precisely planned city of Brasilia--these and other projects around the world, while deeply ambitious, extracted immeasurable tolls on the people they were designed to help.

One of the most important common factors that Scott found in these schemes is what he refers to as a high modernist ideology. In simplest terms, it is an extremely firm belief that progress can and will make the world a better place. But "scientific" theories about the betterment of life often fail to take into account "the indispensable role of practical knowledge, informal processes, and improvisation in the face of unpredictability" that Scott views as essential to an effective society. What high modernism lacks is metis, a Greek word which Scott translates as "the knowledge that can only come from practical experience." Although metis is closely related to the concept of "mutuality" found in the anarchist writings of, among others, Kropotkin and Bakunin, Scott is careful to emphasize that he is not advocating the abolition of the state or championing a complete reliance on natural "truth." He merely recognizes that some types of states can initiate programs which jeopardize the well-being of all their subjects.

Although the collapse of most socialist governments might lead one to believe that Seeing Like a State is old news, Scott's analysis should prove extremely useful to those considering the effects of global capitalism on local communities.

Market Anarchy Explained lays down a fearless, logical, rigorous yet accessible case against the State, against the democratic system, and the case for Market Anarchy and complete, unbridled, stateless freedom. Tremblay gathers all the important arguments and pieces of evidence from the literature, and builds a much-needed bridge between the Market Anarchist academia and the common reader. To the freethinker, this book is a breath of fresh air in a propaganda-soaked society. Chapter 1 starts with a bang: by proving that the State's existence cannot be justified, and then detailing anti-State arguments. The premises of the democratic system are exposed and analyzed, and the State, in addition to being unjustifiable, is found to be supremely immoral. Other topics include: exploitation, propaganda, perpetual wars, the Non-Aggression Principle, the "social contract," the State as monopoly, State Capitalism, poverty, and "social justice." Chapter 2 defines Anarchy and dispels the illusions and hypocrites associated with the concept, shows that the State is the enemy of society, as well as some issues associated with the concept of Anarchy. Chapter 3 concerns the thorny issue of morality, and it also starts with a bang: by daring to disprove major conceptions of morality, proving the true nature of morality, and defeating Hume's famous "is-ought" problem. Not content with this task, it also proves that political rights are a necessary fact of society, and dismisses statism as an example of value-arrogance. Chapter 4 discusses Market Anarchy specifically, how Market Anarchist societies of the past functioned, and how the future Market Anarchist societies will function. Topics include: accountability, coordination, cost-driven policy, roads, police and courts, a new method of decision-making to replace democracy called Informed Consensus, and the general plan for Market Anarchist victory.

Today man's mind is under attack by all the leading schools of philosophy. We are told that we cannot trust our senses, that logic is arbitrary, that concepts have no basis in reality. Ayn Rand opposes that torrent of nihilism, and she provides the alternative in this eloquent presentation of the essential nature--and power--of man's conceptual faculty. She offers a startlingly original solution to the problem that brought about the collapse of modern philosophy: the problem of universals. This brilliantly argued, superbly written work, together with an essay by philosophy professor Leonard Peikoff, is vital reading for all those who seek to discover that human beings can and should live by the guidance of reason.

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