Tagged: free market capitalism

This Mysterious Notion of Quality

People blessed with this amorphous attribute we call “taste” like to congratulate themselves for being able to discern the difference between that which is good and salutary and that which is bad and degrading. (Those who are too busy or distracted to make such distinctions rely on taste consultants known as reviewers.) Books, music, paintings,...

The Voracious Appetite

Recently we spent two weeks away in Central and South America, including a visit to the country of Ecuador, which, among other tourist attractions, offers visitors an opportunity to visit the “Mital del Mundo” — the middle of the world. It’s an obelisk with a painted orange line on the ground bisecting the northern and southern...

Screaming the Loudest

The benefit of teaching young people that the world is a meritocracy is that this enduring myth encourages people to try their best. As long as they believe that the cream eventually rises to the top, they’ll continue to toil diligently, confident that there’s a demonstrable correlation between dedicated effort and eventual reward. Once the...

A Subtle Hazard of Reading the Wall Street Journal

As a counterbalance to the reflexively liberal Los Angeles Times, which we read every morning, we also read the reflexively conservative Wall Street Journal on weekdays. The paper is extraordinarily well-written, and its non-news feature articles are better than those in most magazines. The problem with reading the WSJ every morning, though, is that you soon discover the way the...

Anatomy of the Sports Fan

The flags are out again. The yellow-and-purple banners flicker in the breeze, mounted on the SUVs of dedicated Los Angeles Laker fans who demonstrate their fealty to the 14-time NBA Champions by wearing replica accused-rapist jerseys and plastering their homes and vehicles with admonitory signs. If it all seems vaguely fascist, it’s because Laker fans...

Three Strikes

Editorial Note: Our position on the death penalty has evolved in the decade since the original publication of this essay. California presently has a law on the books known as “Three Strikes” — as in, “and your out.” Recidivist criminals who have been convicted of two felonies are supposed to be scared of the penalty...

The Pernicious Funnel

The United States of America is presently running a larger deficit than any other time in its history. Measured in constant dollars, which adjusts for inflation, our country is deeper in debt than ever. Dozens of states, including California, the republic of the west coast, are running near-catastrophic deficits that inspire economic commentators to use...

Including Dogs in Everyday Life

I’m presently going over the manuscript for my next book, an account of traveling through Europe with my wonderful mutt, Ella. (It will be out around this time next year.) Just as I’m reviewing a section of the book about Ella lunching with me at one of Paris’s finest restaurants, I’m confronted (yet again) by...

Sheep, Cows, and Fields of Grass

Spending a week in the Welsh countryside is like a drinking a nepenthe that scours away all memory of air pollution, terrorist attacks, and venal corporations. The real world feels far, far away. Although it was the first country to become industrialized (to exploit the coal, copper, and tin in its ground), Wales today is...

Why People Hate Art

A rich guy we know gives generously to a wide and cheering cross-section of charities: Special Olympics, animal shelters, American Cancer Society, institutions of higher learning. He feels good giving away some of his millions to any cause or appeal, except “the arts.” That he won’t do. The arts, he’s told us in so many words,...