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Re: Chocolate Bars or Silver?

Karen: Mark Dice’s video expose of Boobus’s lobotomized mind is symptomatic of a much broader and deeper malady that manifests itself in so many areas of our culture. A few years ago, I presented my second and third year law students with the following question: “suppose all of us were to find ourselves stranded on a hitherto uninhabited island that we might reasonably expect to be our home for many years. What social conditions would you find important to foster our survival?” I was trying to get my students to see the long-term, life-enhancing importance of an environment in which the inviolability of privately owned property, respect for contractual obligations, means for peacefully resolving disputes, etc. was present. I heard no recognition of such principles from my students. Instead, they shouted out “free food,” “free clothing,” “free housing,” and “entertainment.” I truly did not expect such superficiality, particularly from seniors who were about to enter the lawyering profession. As one who has always tried to get across to others the importance of understanding causal relationships, I inquired: “who will provide these values? Who will incur the costs of obtaining them? Who will have an incentive to produce them, and what conditions must be present to foster such incentives?”

Not a single word was uttered in response to my inquiries. I was reminded of Edward Banfield’s distinctions among “upper class,” “middle class,” and “lower class” persons, their respective status determined not on the basis of wealth, but on the length of their time preferences. A widowed mother of four who scrubbed floors in order to provide for the care and education of her children would be considered an “upper class” individual. A wealthy playboy who spent his time and money in nightclub revelry, drunken womanizing, and other forms of profligacy, would be regarded as “lower class.” I also recalled the hypothetical example of a man who took a wino into a bar, put before him both a glass of wine and a $50 bill, and told him he could have either one. The wino would invariably choose the glass of wine. Mark Dice’s video shows us that while one can change the substance of the choices, the same time-preferences are at work. “I can eat the chocolate, but what can I do with ten ounces of silver?”

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11:50 am on July 15, 2015