Tag: Optimism

Honoring Norman Rockwell: America’s Painter

 

“Four Freedoms,” 1943

Norman Rockwell was not a realist. You aren’t supposed to interpret his paintings as depictions of everyday America as it actually was. No one who lived during his lifetime considered America a hunky-dory paradise populated only by upstanding and friendly citizens. The America he painted was one we wanted, the one we strove for, America as promised by our founding ideals. He focused on the best parts of our country. His artwork is aspirational, not delusional; optimistic, not whitewashed.

Why Have Hope?

 

While there’s a lot wrong with the nation right now, I remain hopeful that we will undo much of the recent damage and set the country on a better path. I think there are sound reasons to consider that a possibility, beginning with the increasingly visible failures of modern progressivism.

I’m not such an optimist that I believe in utopian solutions to our current problems. I don’t think that has ever been an option, and I think it is unrealistic to imagine that we’ll move the country to some place of enlightened liberty that it has never actually occupied. But I do think that we can move back and forth on the continuum of freedom and prosperity; that we’re largely free and prosperous today; and that we can increase both our freedom and our prosperity in the near future. I don’t think it will be easy. I do think we can do it.

Jim is back! He and Greg get a kick out of Democrats already blaming voting reforms in red states for their forthcoming losses in 2022. They also groan as American optimism for the next year plummets over the past three months and President Biden seems poorly positioned to address the many concerns. And they throw up their hands as the Biden administration continues to hold the door open for COVID-positive illegal immigrants but refuses to allow vaccinated Europeans into the U.S.

Choose Optimism

 

What if I told those of you who are “realists” or “pessimists” that changing your worldview, particularly about the current state of the United States, could help save the country? I know, I know. Sounds like the statement of a dedicated optimist. But if you will bear with me, I’ll make the argument that it is possible to change our worldviews (which often determine what we say and do) and it is a worthy endeavor.

First, let me provide my understanding of these words: realist, pessimist, and optimist. A realist has an “inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.” I would also say that in many ways, a realist can practice either optimism or pessimism when he looks beyond the present. The reason for these pairings of beliefs is that it’s nearly impossible for a realist to accurately (in his or her view) see the current situation without looking to the future. Whether your secondary worldview is pessimism or optimism will determine whether you are hopeful for this country or are assuming the worst.

Member Post

 

I have to admit that the current situation has me in a pretty gloomy mood.  I don’t see how Trump and his lawyers will prevail against the massed forces of the Democratic party, the MSM,  the “Tech Media” and corrupt/cowardly judges to prove the obvious (to me anyway) massive vote fraud.  In addition, the weather […]

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Member Post

 

In a recent post, another member used the two words, “hope” and “optimism” as synonyms.  But they are not the same, and there is a crucial difference between Hope and Optimism. That difference is that Hope, while a positive emotion, is passive.  Optimism, however, is active. Preview Open

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Member Post

 

The term “new normal” shows up in all the media, although it’s used to describe many different conditions. Some people use the term to describe the disturbing changes that have been made in the current environment. Government, industry, the culture and even individuals have been called to step up to mitigate and manage the corona […]

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Happiness For You is A Horror For Them

 

Happy days are here again. John Hinderaker shared a chart showing Americans of all demographics are optimistic about their future, a chart that must have killed the Bloomberg enterprise to publish. The White House just keeps rolling out the barrel of new good news. What is a leftist to do? Why, mash the old “ism” buttons harder!

Give the Bloomberg crew credit. They make the worst of the good news about American optimism that they can:

QOTD 1/2/2020: Johan Norberg on Optimism

 

This quote is taken from an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on December 17.  Johan Norberg is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

“…we’ve lived through a period of populist revolts and geopolitical tensions, and wherever societies have been open and markets free, scientists, innovators and businesses persisted and made greater progress than ever.

On Quitting My Job

 

“What makes you think you were doing bad work?” Asks the psychologist. Not a real one, just the call-and-response in my cranium.

“Well, there’s only so many hours a workday you can spend on Ricochet when you ought to be doing other things and still think you’re a good worker. I’m not going to sit here taking their coin forever when I’m not providing commensurate services in exchange. It’s dishonest.”

The Left’s Shabby Vision

 

I think we conservatives sometimes feel inadequate, as if we lack the joy and enthusiasm that the left seems to bring to its various causes. It’s hard, after all, to wax rhapsodically about fiscal responsibility, deregulation, federalism, and other principles that distinguish conservative philosophy from the ever-expanding universe of leftist passions and causes. We don’t do sit-ins. We don’t chant. Conservatism is, well, conservative, and just not very exciting.

But if you scratch the surface, if you look beyond superficial enthusiasm and consider the worldviews that truly motivate left and right, you discover something interesting and, I think, counter-intuitive. You discover that it is conservatism that is optimistic, positive, enthusiastic, innovative, and forward-looking — in short, hopeful — and the left that is, overwhelmingly, motivated by a grim, desperate, fearful, and impoverished view of both humanity and our prospects.

Has the Death of the Great Books Been Greatly Exaggerated?

 

I saw this article in my news feed, lamenting the collapse of interest in The Great Books. Articles much like this one show up often in my news feeds. The collapse of interest in The Great Books, the Classics, traditional curricula, etc., is “common knowledge” amongst conservative intellectuals.

I don’t have sufficient data to disprove that this “collapse” is occurring, but anecdotal evidence makes me skeptical. In the past, there were essentially three ways to be exposed to The Great Books: 1) They were assigned in a classroom. 2) They were assigned by parents who owned a high-quality home library. 3) A reader would stumble upon them in a public library.

Member Post

 

Ricochet, and conservatism in general, are excellent sources of pessimism. We don’t have any utopian visions like the Left, and the most effective post often seems to a description of how our country is doomed, doomed, I tell you. The Left has captured the populace and will lead hordes of locust-like antifa zombies to despoil […]

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for January 3, 2018 – O.M.G. it’s 2018! It is the Crimson Crystal Ball edition of the show with your hosts fortune-teller Todd Feinburg and Swami Mike Stopa. We will peer into the future, part the enveloping mists of chaos and tell you what you can expect in the coming year and perhaps beyond! Here are, yes, our much-awaited predictions for 2018! Can you afford *not* to listen?

We will also discuss a column from the New York Times which, gasp, gives begrudging credit to Trump’s deregulation efforts for the economic revival we are enjoying, including the optimism and investment by the business community even before the tax breaks became a reality (or even before they had moved very far along).

Beauty from Ashes

 


“To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit
of despair.” — Isaiah 61:3

Seven years ago, a mountain in southern Iceland called Eyjafjallajökull erupted. This caused an enormous emission of smoke and ash that covered large areas of northern Europe. Consequently, the majority of European flights from April 14 to 20, 2010 were cancelled, creating the highest level of air travel disruption since the Second World War. Twenty countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic and it affected about 10 million travelers. By April 21, the eruption had ended. Since no further lava or ash was being produced, the crisis was declared over and flights returned to normal.

But life would never be normal again for the many homes and farms in the countryside around Eyjafjallajökull. The toxic ash had killed their livestock and crops and rendered their soil useless. Many families moved away, others sold all their holdings and changed their livelihoods. But a small, enterprising number of Icelanders stayed. Rather than curse the ashes that had obliterated their former lives, they took them and turned them into new sources of income. One of the most successful was soap.

Looking Back from 2075: The Case for Optimism

 

twenty20_cd8caa36-a91d-4125-b593-f84ced651faf_child_hope_future_optimism-e1472839152581Will people living a half century from now think the 21st century’s been a good one? Economist Brad DeLong explains his optimism:

The reason is simple: the large-scale trends that have fueled global growth since World War II have not stopped. More people are gaining access to new, productivity enhancing technologies, more people are engaging in mutually beneficial trade, and fewer people are being born, thus allaying any continued fears of a so-called population bomb. Moreover, innovation, especially in the global north, has not ceased, even if it has possibly slowed since the 1880s. And while war and terror continue to horrify us, we are not witnessing anything on the scale of the genocides that were a hallmark of the twentieth century.

Fortunately, these major trends are likely to continue, according to data from the Penn World Table research project, the best source for summary information on global economic growth. The PWT data on average real (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP show that the world in 1980 was 80% better off than it was in 1950, and another 80% better off in 2010 than it was in 1980. In other words, our average material wellbeing is three times what it was in 1950.

What a Time to Be Alive. Really. Why Don’t We Believe It?

 

twenty20_f3243af1-5703-4d84-b4cb-16583a79e80e_tunnel_light_optimism_pessimism-e1471985273737An excellent piece in the UK Spectator by Johan Norberg tackles one of my favorite issues: Why are we so pessimistic these days? After making the case that advanced economy citizens live in a veritable “golden age,” Norberg tries to explain why so many disagree:

In almost every way human beings today lead more prosperous, safer and longer lives – and we have all the data we need to prove it. So why does everybody remain convinced that the world is going to the dogs? Because that is what we pay attention to, as the thoroughbred fretters we are. The psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have shown that people do not base their assumptions on how frequently something happens, but on how easy it is to recall examples. This ‘availability heuristic’ means that the more memorable an incident is, the more probable we think it is. And what is more memorable than horror? What do you remember best – your neighbour’s story about a decent restaurant which serves excellent lamb stew, or his warning about the place where he was poisoned and threw up all over his boss’s wife?

Bad news now travels a lot faster. Just a few decades ago, you would read that an Asian city with 100,000 people was wiped out in a cyclone on a small notice on page 17. We would never have heard about Burmese serial killers. Now we live in an era with global media and iPhone cameras every-where. Since there is always a natural disaster or a serial murderer somewhere in the world, it will always top the news cycle – giving us the mistaken impression that it is more common than before.

Member Post

 

I believe most of us have heard the story of Pandora’s box. The gods create the first woman, and she is given all the gifts. Then, as part of a much more detailed revenge plot, a large jar is left in her presence that she isn’t supposed to open. Having the “gift” of curiosity, she […]

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Hope on a Rope

 

Ron-Paul-Donald-TrumpLike many other Republicans in 2012, I chose to ignore Ron Paul and his supporters as just a deluded fringe element inside the party. “Surely, they can’t be serious,” I said. “No real Republican could ever support a buffoon who espoused policies so clearly out of step with the rest of the Republican Party,” I said.

I was wrong. In retrospect, it wasn’t the message that was attracting people to Ron Paul, it was the medium. Ron Paul’s followers believed in their candidate with a fervor that surpassed anyone else in the field that year because he offered them hope. Ron Paul supporters didn’t just have intellectual knowledge of their candidate, they had faith in him, and the Republican Party chose to ignore their passion. They believed that fever would break, and that Ron Paul’s supporters would find a home inside the Republican Party. They were wrong.

Politics is a game of passion, not position papers. Nixon was elected on the hope he would end the war in Vietnam and provide stability to the country in a time of great turmoil. Reagan was elected and re-elected on hope, and George H. W. Bush followed him to the Presidency because we hoped for more of the good times of the Reagan years. George W. Bush was not initially elected on hope, but he was re-elected because he offered a hopeful resolution to the Iraq War. Since then, Republicans have been offering up competent, successful party leaders, but not people who might inspire the belief in others that their lives were going to get better once they were in office.

Member Post

 

By destroying those who have co-opted the GOP for the cronies and luke-warmers, a Trump victory would provide an ideal opportunity for the Tea Party to extend the gains it has made in various local bodies to the highest levels of the national organisation. Mr Trump seems unlikely to wish to mold the Republican Party to his […]

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