Friday, October 25, 2013

Freedom and Mythology: Did Joseph Campbell have Libertarian Tendencies?


But before establishing support for this answer, we must ask why this is an important question for libertarians.  Campbell's scholarship, as exemplified in perhaps his most famous book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, proposed that the human psyche is the same everywhere in the world and for every time period because the myths of all cultures, as stories of heroes, have similar patterns (here he follows Jung-more about this later).  According to Archer Taylor (1964), his scholarship on the hero's journey is very similar, yet more detailed, than others working on the same problem (p. 128).  He even saw the entrepreneur as "the real hero" in capitalist society (see excerpt of interview at the end of the article). If Campbell's thinking, which is a result of studying many cultures, can be shown to support libertarian philosophy, it would greatly add to the cause of freedom and limited government around the world.
            Before examining his views in relation to libertarian philosophy, a few comments on the nature of myths and mythology are necessary.
            Campbell was not alone in his view that myths are reflections of the psyche.  It is a standard belief that not only are myths symbolic representations of our psyches, but that the role of the hero in myth is universal and that myths help to instruct individuals in charting a course for their own lives.  This assertion is based on the work of psychoanalysis.  This is because in myths, according to Campbell (1968) "symbolic expression is given to the unconscious desires, fears, and tensions that underlie the conscious patterns of human behavior" and that understanding the myth puts us in touch with "the deep forces that have shaped man's destiny and must continue to determine both our private and our public lives" (p. 255-6).   Leeming (1973) shares this view (p. 9) along with, according to Barnaby and D'Acierno (1990), a large number of Jungian interpreters (p. 3).  Jung (1951) himself said "Myths are original revelations of the pre-conscious psyche, involuntary statements about unconscious happenings..." (p. 101).
            In addition to influencing film makers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, Campbell was well respected. The psychologist James Hillman said "No one in our century, not Freud, not Thomas Mann, or Lévi-Strauss, has so brought the mythical sense of the world back into our everyday consciousness" (Cousineau, 1990, p. 178). Campbell's model of the hero's adventure is also quite similar to Leeming's (1973) and Mircea Eliade's (1990, p. 39).  Segal (1990) shows that Campbell's hero is Jungian (p. 42) and similar to Erik Erickson's in that the hero's journey is a quest for personal identity (p. 34).  Jung (1956) himself said that the hero archetype represents this need of the human psyche (p. 178).  Eliot (1990) reports that, in fact, Jungian therapists use Campbell's work in guiding their patients' journey (p. 232).  Even modern Freudians see myths as a useful tool (Segal, 1990, p. 44).
            This is also an era in which mythology is being used to understand economics.  Silver (1991) analyzes the ancient economy through mythology while Putka (1993) reports that business case studies are now being written which compare literary figures, including heroes, to business managers (p. A1).  Even two business professors at Stanford University, Catford and Ray (1991), have written a popular book on mythology partly inspired by Campbell.  So it is not surprising that Eliade (1990) wrote "The mythic imagination can hardly be said to have disappeared; it is still very much with us, having only adapted its workings to the material now at hand" (p. 42).
            One question that arises in trying to promote heroism is the question of is the hero trying to do good work or trying to rise above and gain control over the rest of society.  Our society has a tendency to think the latter.  This may be due in part to the decline in reading mythological texts and other stories about cultural heroes in our educational system.  If we could reverse this trend, we would no longer have to fear the hero (Silber, 1989, ch. 3, "Of Mermaids and Magnificence").  If heroes represent the elite, I think Campbell would have agreed with Silber.  He said:
"Sport is really an elite experience.  You can't have a game where everybody wins.  But there's an awful lot of that kind of thinking in our sociological thinking now where nobody should be beating anybody else and let's fix it so he can't.  Then you spend the rest of your life looking at a movie to see whether you can see a real elite performance.  That's where life really is-in the upper brackets, not the lower ones" (Cousineau, 1991, p. 220).

David Justin Ross made a similar argument on the need for heroes in literature and how they teach values in his article "Boy's Fiction and the Dumbing of America" from the April 1993 issue of Liberty.
            Given the importance of mythology and Campbell's contributions to the study of it, how do they relate to libertarianism?  It may surprise many to learn that Joseph Campbell told Bill Moyers "The state is a machine" in "The Message of the Myth," the second televised segment of the popular PBS series The Power of Myth.  This condemns the state in Campbell's view because the machine can crush our humanity, a serious problem the entire world, including the United States, faces today.  But this rejection of mechanized government is just one of several ways in which his ideas can be seen as supporting libertarian philosophy.  The first is his support of individualism.  The second is his support of the ideas of the founding fathers and limited government.  The third is Campbell's surprisingly similarity to some ideas of the economist Milton Friedman, a proponent of laissez-faire capitalism.  The fourth is an anti-Marxist sentiment.  The fifth is the above mentioned view of the state as a machine.  Each of these will be discussed in more detail below.  Campbell's view of the mechanized state is discussed last.
            To begin with the first category, individualism,  Campbell (1988) said, while discussing the story of the Holy Grail, that "[E]ach of us is a completely unique creature and that if, we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience, not someone else's." That is, not the experience of some government bureaucrat that is imposed on us.  It is hard to have your own experience if you are controlled by the state (p. 151).  This great Western Truth (p. 151) is opposed to the Orient where "the individual is cookie-molded"  (p. 151).  He underscored this with:

"The best part (emphasis added) of the western tradition has included a recognition of and respect for the individual as a living entity.  The function of the society is to cultivate the individual.  It is not the function of the individual to support society"  (p. 192)" 

Furthermore, the troubadour courage to love that grew in the middle ages against the opposition to the church became the basis of individualism and validated individual experience as opposed to tradition  (p. 187)
            The second category is Campbell's support and approval of the Founding Fathers and their belief in limited government and individual reason.  This is indicated in a number of ways.  The first is that Campbell (1988) agrees that all men are capable of reason, thus knowing God:

"That is the fundamental principle of democracy.  Because everybody's mind is capable of true knowledge, you don't have to have a special authority, or a special revelation telling you that this is the way things should be"  (p. 25) 

Although  democracy is not necessarily synonymous with libertarianism,  to Campbell, it meant the rejection of anyone being granted "special authority."  This is certainly an ideal of libertarians, that no one has a monopoly on truth.  The second is that Campbell felt we moved away from reason and the ideals of limited government found in the Declaration of Independence when we "rejoined the British conquest of the planet" (p. 28) in World War I.  According to him America fell from the ideal, moral high ground of the pyramid (symbolized by the eye at the top of one on the back of the dollar bill) by breaking Washington's pledge in his farewell address to stay out of European affairs.  The third is that in general, Campbell was very taken by the symbolism of the Founding Fathers.  He felt that they had a great understanding of mythology,  using this knowledge to create a new nation based on individual liberty and limited government (p. 25).
            In the third category of his support for libertarian thinking, some of Campbell's views (or at least instincts) are similar to three ideas of Milton Friedman's.  The first is that they both condemn "the man of system."  Campbell states this clearly while speaking of the character Darth Vader from the Star Wars movie trilogy.  He is critical of him being an "executive of a system" who has no humanity (see p. 10 for more details). Friedman (1978) writes about this.  The man of system is a government planner, a bureaucrat who wishes to impose his own ideals on society (p. 18).  In what way is Campbell similar?  Although earlier it was noted that Campbell (1988) contrasted the West's individualism with the conformity of the East, he does mention what he thinks is a good Oriental idea:  "You don't force your mission down people's throats"  (p. 63).  Also, "Instead of clearing his own heart, the zealot tries to clear the world" (Campbell, 1968, p. 16)  Both Campbell and Friedman fear the planner who will force his system on the rest of us.  Campbell's (1988) views on this are best expressed in his comments on Darth Vader, the evil dark lord of the Star Wars movie trilogy.

"Darth Vader has not developed his own humanity.  He's a robot.  He's a bureaucrat living not in terms of himself but in terms of an imposed system.  This is the threat that we all face today.  Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system so that you are not compulsively serving it?  It doesn't help to try to change it to accord with your system of thought.  The momentum of history behind it is too great for anything really significant to evolve from that kind of action" (p. 144)

This point will be addressed again in the section on the state as a machine.              The second way in which Campbell and Friedman are similar is their view on the ultimate end or goal of life. Friedman (1962) objected to the old adage that "the end justifies the means." He felt it was better to state that "the ultimate end is the use of proper means" (p. 22).  The appropriate means are "free discussion and voluntary co-operation" (p. 22).  This is similar to not only Campbell's (1988) emphasis on democracy and individualism but also to one of his favorite quotes from Karlfried Graf Dürckheim: "The real end is the journey" (p. 230).  That is, it is being able to go on your own journey that counts, not the destination.   For both of them, life is living by the right process.  For Campbell this is taking your own individual journey.  This is not in conflict, and probably consistent with, Friedman's ideal of free discussion and voluntary cooperation. 
            The third way in which Friedman and Campbell are similar may be more instinctual, not always expressed-that is, a shared sense of ultimate reality.  One of Friedman's (1984) books is called The Tyranny of the Status Quo.  The title gives us an idea of his sensitivity to an issue deeper than just the left-right debate.  Of the bureaucratic establishment's reaction to the Reagan administration's attempt to reduce taxes and regulations in its first few months in office Friedman says "The tyranny of the status quo asserted itself. Every special interest group that was threatened proceeded to mount a campaign to prevent its particular governmental sinecure from being eliminated" (p. 2).  These feelings and actions show up in the following passage of Campbell (1968):

"... the mythological hero is the champion not of things become but of things becoming; the dragon to be slain by him is precisely the monster of the status quo:  Holdfast, the keeper of the past.  From obscurity the hero emerges, but the enemy is great and conspicuous in the seat of power; he is enemy, dragon, tyrant, because he turns to his own advantage the authority of his position.  He is Holdfast not because he keeps the past but because he keeps" (p. 337).

Both Friedman and Campbell see the status quo as a monster that acts a tyrant over creative people.
            The fourth category of Campbell's support for libertarianism, his anti-Marxist sentiment, is seen where he discusses Don Quixote.  In Campbell (1988) Quixote had "saved the adventure for himself by inventing a magician who had just transformed the giants he had gone forth to encounter into windmills" (p. 130).  Heroes used to live in a more spiritually alive world.  Quixote used his imagination to make it more alive.  Why is our world today not spiritually alive?  Because the world

"... has become to such an extent a sheerly mechanistic (emphasis added) world, as interpreted through our physical sciences, Marxist sociology, and behavioristic psychology, that we're nothing but a predictable pattern of wires responding to stimuli.  This nineteenth century interpretation has squeezed the freedom of the human will out of life" (p. 130-1).

Although not a new critique, it is a devastating condemnation of Marxist thinking from an individualistic perspective.  When the state is a machine, the world is mechanistic, people are predictable, and central planning of economies is justified.  Campbell opposes this,  exalting the freedom of the human will over these machine views of man.
            Campbell (1988) prefers, as in the Hindu idea of karma, that "you have no one to blame but yourself" (p. 161) for your problems.  He also implies that Marx was wrong when he "tells us to blame the upper class of our society" (p. 161).  Again, Campbell rejects Marxism and favors individualism.
            The fifth category involves Campbell's view of the state as a machine.  To him, this makes the state a monster, an instrument that imposes its will   or system on individuals, crushing our humanity and creative spirit.  Since the state is a machine, it is a kind of technology.  The message Campbell (1988) saw from the movie Star Wars is an old but powerful one:  "technology is not going to save us"  (p. xiv).  Luke Skywalker uses the Force (which, according to Campbell, symbolizes the human heart and intuition) instead of a computer to destroy the empire's dreaded death star, a machine that can itself destroy entire planets.
            Earlier it was seen how Campbell viewed Darth Vader.  He was an undeveloped human individual, a bureaucrat living in terms of an imposed system.  Campbell further explains how this is significant with:

"The fact that the evil power is not identified with any specific nation on this earth means you've got an abstract power which represents a principle, not a specific historic nation.  The story has to do with an operation of principles, not this nation against that.  The monster masks that are put on people in Star Wars represent the real monster force in the modern world"  (p. 144).

The significance of this passage is clear when linked with an earlier passage:

"Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in service of man.  When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that's what is threatening the world today" (p. 8).

So Campbell was concerned about the "monster state" in our modern world.  Darth Vader served the monster state as a bureaucrat and as a result hid his human face behind a monster mask. This implies that a state that demands service from individuals not only turns them into monsters but is monstrous itself, although it is not clear how far Campbell would have gone in making this claim.  This is why libertarians, as did Campbell, think that the state should do whatever it can to promote individuality and individual rights.  The mechanistic, Marxist view Campbell spoke of in relation to Don Quixote is perhaps what has brought on this monster state.  If human beings were "nothing but a predictable pattern of wires" then socialism and economic planning might make sense.  But obviously it does not since socialism has failed.  But here too, Campbell (1988) provides a useful interpretation.  It is in relation to the Holy Grail:

"The theme of the Grail romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid to waste.  It is called a waste land.  And what is the nature of the wasteland?  It is a land where everyone is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you're told, with no courage for you own life.  That is the wasteland.  And that is what T. S. Eliot meant in his poem The Waste Land.
                "In a wasteland the surface does not represent the actuality of what it is supposed to be representing, and people are living inauthentic lives.  'I've never done a thing I wanted to in all my life.  I've done as I was told.' You know" (p. 196).

Bill Moyers then asked the question "And the Grail becomes?"  Campbell answered with "The Grail becomes the-what can we call it-that which is attained and realized by people who have lived their own lives.  The Grail represents the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness" (p 196-7).  Unless you have a minimal state, individuals are not really living their own lives.  Furthermore, Campbell says that "there are some societies that shouldn't exist" (p. 198).  The societies that try to crush the individual spirit eventually "crack up" (p. 198).  This explains the conditions in Eastern Europe today.  The socialist systems blocked a re-circulation of spiritual energy by preventing people from walking their own paths.  Any system that prevents energy flow from outside the status quo will collapse due to entropy.  This is explained in what Campbell (1968) called the monomyth in  (following James Joyce):

"The standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation-initiation-return: which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth.  A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder:  fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man"(p. 30).

Too much government control will create a wasteland.
            This is all seen much more clearly in an exchange between Campbell and Moyers from the second televised segment of The Power of Myth called "The Message of the Myth."

Moyers:  Do you see some of the new metaphors emerging in the modern medium for the old universal truths that you've talked about, the old story?

Campbell:  Well, I think that the Star Wars is a valid mythological perspective for the problem of is the machine-and the state is a machine (emphasis added)-is the machine going to crush humanity or serve humanity?  And humanity comes not from the machine but from the heart. 

[As the unmasking of Darth Vader scene from the movie The Return of the Jedi  is shown, Campbell continues:]

Campbell:  The father (Darth Vader) had been playing one of these machine roles, a state role; he was the uniform, you know?  And the removal of that mask-there was an undeveloped man there.  He was kind of a worm by being the executive of a system.  One is not developing one's humanity.  I think George Lucas did a beautiful thing there.

Moyers:  The idea of machine is the idea that we want the world to be made in our image and what we think the world ought to be.
[Campbell seemed to agree or at least offered no dissent to this statement of Moyers.]
            Campbell put this in a slightly different way when he also discussed the movie Star Wars:

"Here the man (George Lucas) understands metaphor.  What I saw was things that had been in my books but rendered in terms of the modern problem, which is man and machine.  Is the machine going to be the servant of human life?  Or is it going to be master and dictate?  And the machine includes the totalitarian state, whether it is Fascist or Communist it's still the same state. And it includes things happening in this country too (emphasis added); the bureaucrat, the machine-man."
                What a wonderful power the machine gives you-but is it going to dominate you?  That's the problem of Goethe's Faust.  It's in the last two acts of Faust, Part Two.  His pact is with Mephistopheles, the man who can furnish you the means to do anything you want.  He's the machine manufacturer.  He can manufacture the bombs, but can he give you what the human spirit wants and needs?  He can't.
                This statement of what the need and want is must come from you, not from the machine, and not from the government that is teaching you (emphasis added) or not even from the clergy. It has to come from one's own inside, and the minute you let that drop and take what the dictation of the time is instead of your own eternity, you have capitulated to the devil.  And you're in hell.
                That's what I think George Lucas brought forward.  I admire what he's done immensely, immensely.  That young man opened a vista and knew how to follow it and it was totally fresh.  It seems to me that he carried that thing through very, very well (Cousineau, 1990, p. 181-2).

Later, when asked if the state should redistribute income for a more equal distribution, Campbell further criticizes an excessive role for the state with:

"In an equitable distribution system you never level people up, you always level down.  And civilization comes from what's on top.  And it's one thing to be equitable and give everything away;  it's another thing to be equitable and give away yourself.  Then you really can't help anybody, can you?  That's a little bit like the ego-self problem.  In actual economic situations this is complicated by the specifics of the situation, and I can't talk about that" (Cousineau, 1990, p. 225).

Although he wisely avoids claiming any expertise in economics, his views support the notion that too much taking from the rich and giving to the poor by the government hurts incentives, which in the long run hurts everyone since total output falls.  The poor do not become richer; the rich become poorer.  But the idea of giving away yourself is consistent with what Campbell (1988) said:

"The influence of a vital person vitalizes, there's no doubt about it.  The world without spirit is a wasteland.  People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who's on top and so forth.  No, no!  Any world is a valid one if it's alive.  The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself"  (p. 149).

On often hears libertarians say "Utopia is not an alternative." I think that is what Campbell is saying here.  The idea that an individual can revitalize society  is found in the economic historian John Hughes's book The Vital Few:  The Entrepreneur and American Economic Progress.  He argued that individual entrepreneurs played a vital role in the development of the American Economy.
            Finally, my own research, in a paper titled "The Creative-Destroyers:  Are Entrepreneurs Mythological Heroes?" I find that the entrepreneur is a hero, verifying Campbell's assertion mentioned at the beginning of the paper (which he never tried to verify).   I used Campbell (1968) for the comparison.  The more entrepreneurship that is allowed, the more creativity and authentic lives there will be.  Laissez-faire capitalism (i.e., a minimal role for the state) seems to allow for the greatest degree of entrepreneurship.  In Briggs and Maher (1989), Campbell says:

"There's a kind of regular morphology and inevitable sequence of experiences if you start out to follow your adventure.  I don't care whether it's in economics, in art, or just in play.  There's the sense of the potential that opens out before you."  (p. 25).

In Cousineau (1990), Campbell describes the profit in following your own adventure: "If you follow your bliss, doors will open up for you where they would not have opened up before.  They will also open up for you where they would not have opened up for anyone else" (p. 214).  This is ultimately the best life for an individual, no matter what the career path or time period.
       Before closing, religion, a topic closely related to mythology, and an important one for libertarians, must be discussed.  Campbell saw the two as closely related.  This need not cause problems for libertarians, who, according to the 1988 poll conducted by Liberty, tend to be less religious than the rest of society.  It was mentioned at the beginning of the paper that Campbell was a follower of Jung, who gave him (Campbell) "the best clues he's got" (Briggs and Maher, 1989, p. 123).  Campbell (1986) agreed with Jung's view of religion, that its purpose was to keep you from God or a real spiritual experience (p. 121).  If libertarians are less religious than others, perhaps this allows them a better chance for a real spiritual experience because they follow their own individual paths.  In fact, as stated earlier, Jung said that the hero archetype represented this need of the psyche (which he called individuation).  That is, you discover yourself by going on your own adventure.  Jung (1964) too, was critical of the state.  He saw our belief in the welfare state as childish (p. 85). According to Fordham (1964) he even thought that Western man's penchant for objective reality tended to rob the psyche of its value which leads to "the deification of such abstractions like the State" (p. 74).  Szasz (1988), who gives Jung a mixed but generally favorable review, saw him (Jung), as being less authoritarian than others in his profession and a proponent of individualism who tried to help others "find their own faiths as befits intelligent adults in the twentieth century" (p. 163).
       Campbell wrote very little on his preferences for the role of government outside what has been interpreted here.  Segal (1990) says that he was politically conservative (p. 21). Perhaps this was true for the role of government in the economy.  But given his strong support for individualism, his views would be the essence of libertarianism.  He would not likely have approved much regulation of personal behavior.  Of course, he seems to have never come out and said that he himself was a libertarian.  It would be foolish to make him into something after his death.  His views on the machine-like state and individualism could be interpreted as supporting the need for a welfare state that helps individuals against monopolistic capitalists.  He was occasionally critical of business and money making.  But he never said or wrote anything that indicated he supported socialism or the welfare state. His work and ideas do seem to support the values of individualism and limited government (see excerpt of interview at the end of the article).  These, along with his antipathy for imposed systems, tyrannical status quos and Marxist thinking seem to accord with libertarian thinking.

Tape #1901: "Call of the Hero" with Joseph Campbell interviewed by Michael Toms
New Dimensions Foundation audio tape from a live interview on San Francisco's radio station KQED

The following exchange was part of a discussion the question of:  What is creativity?
Toms:  In a sense it's the going for, the jumping over the edge and moving into the adventure that really catalyzes the creativity, isn't it?

Campbell:  I would say so, you don't have creativity otherwise.

Toms:  Otherwise there's no fire, you're just following somebody else's rules.

Campbell:  Well, my wife is a dancer.  She has had dance companies for many, many years.  I don't know whether I should talk about this.  But when the young people are really adventuring, it's amazing what guts they have and what meager lives they can be living, and yet the richness of the action in the studio.  Then, you are going to have a concert season.  They all have to join a union.  And as soon as they join a union, there character changes. (emphasis added, but Campbell changed the tone of his voice) There are rules of how many hours a day you can rehearse. There are certain rules of how many weeks of rehearsal you can have.  They bring this down like a sledge hammer on the whole thing.  There are two mentalities.  There's the mentality of security, of money.  And there's the mentality of open risk.

Toms:  In other societies we can look and see that there are those that honor elders.  In our society it seems much like the elders are part of the main stream and there is a continual kind of wanting to turn away from what the elders have to say, the way it is, the way to do it.  The union example is a typical one, where the authority, institution, namely the union comes in and says this is the way it's done.  And then one has to fall into line or one has to find something else to do.

Campbell:  That's right.

Toms:  And it's like treating this dichotomy between elders and the sons and daughters of the elders.  How do you see that in relationship to other cultures?

Campbell:  This comes to the conflict of the art, the creative art and economic security.  I don't think I have seen it in other cultures.  The artist doesn't have to buck against quite the odds that he has to buck against today.

Toms:  The artist is honored in other cultures. 

Campbell:  He is honored and quickly honored.  But you might hit it off, something that really strikes the need and requirements of the day.  Then you've given your gift early.  But basically it is a real risk.  I think that is so in any adventure, even in business, the man who has the idea of a new kind of gift (this is exactly what George Gilder says in chapter three, "The Returns of Giving" in his book Wealth and Poverty) to society and he is willing to risk it.  Then the workers come in and claim they are the ones that did it.  Then he (the entrepreneur) can't afford to perform his performance.  It's a grotesque conflict, I think between the security and the creativity ideas.  The entrepreneur is a creator, he's running a risk. 

Toms:  Maybe in American capitalistic society the entrepreneur is the creative hero in some sense.

Campbell:  Oh, I think he is, I mean the real one.  Most people go into economic activities not for risk but for security.  You see what I mean.  And the elder psychology tends to take over.

This discussion ended and after a short break a new topic was discussed.


Barnaby, Karin and Pellegrino D'Acierno, eds. (1990).C. G. Jung and the   Humanities, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Briggs, Dennie and John M. Maher (1989).  An Open Life:  Joseph Campbell         in Conversation with Michael Toms. New York:  Harper and Row.

Campbell, Joseph (1968).  The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton:      Princeton University Press.

Campbell, Joseph (1986).  The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. New York:  Harper and Row.

Campbell, Joseph (1988).  The Power of Myth.  New York:  Doubleday.

Catford, Lorna and Michael Ray (1991).  The Path of the Everyday Hero.  Los Angeles: Tarcher.

Cousineau, Phil (1990).  The Hero's Journey:  Joseph Campbell on His Life            and Work.  San Francisco:  Harper.

Eliade, Mircea (1990). Myths and mythical thought.  In A. Eliot The           Universal Myths: Heroes, Gods, Tricksters, and Others. New York:     Penguin/Meridian.

Eliot, Alexander (1990). The Universal Myths: Heroes, Gods, Tricksters, and         Others. New York: Penguin/Meridian.

Fordham, Frieda (1964).  An Introduction to Jung's Psychology.  Baltimore:            Penguin Books Ltd.

Friedman, Milton (1962). Capitalism & Freedom. Chicago: The University of        Chicago Press.

Friedman, Milton (1978). Adam Smith's Relevance for 1976. In F. Glahe   Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations. Boulder: Colorado Associated           University Press.

Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman (1984). Tyranny of the Status Quo.    San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Gilder, George (1981). Wealth and Poverty.  New York:  Bantom Books.

Hughes, Jonathan (1986). The Vital Few: The Entrepreneur and American Economic Progress. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jung, Carl G. and C. Kerényi (1951).  Introduction to a Science of Mythology:        The Myth of the Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis.  London:      Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

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Leeming, David A. (1973). Mythology:  The Voyage of the Hero.     Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.

Morong, Cyril (1992).  The Creative-Destroyers: Are Entrepreneurs             Mythological Heroes?  Paper presented at the Western Economic            Association Annual Conference, July 1992.

Putka, Gary 1993.  Heroes of Business, Tragic or Not, Get Classical            Treatment:  School Compares Executives to Agamemnon and Jesus,      Other Persons of Renown.  The Wall Street Journal. 91(46): A1 and            A9.

Segal, Robert A. (1990).  Joseph Campbell: An Introduction  New York:    Penguin.

Silber, John (1989).  Straight Shooting:  What is Wrong with America and   How to Fix It.  New York:  Harper and Row.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Humans are not creating a global warming crisis.

See Studies show Earth warming more slowly than predicted by Craig Idso and James M. Taylor, in 10-21-13 San Antonio Express-News. Craig Idso, Ph.D., is the founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and co-editor of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute. Excerpts:
"...sound science continues to deliver blow after blow to claims of a global warming crisis."

"On Sept. 17, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change released Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science, or CCR-2, containing more than 1,000 pages of scientific research indicating global warming is not an impending crisis. Forty-seven scientists contributed to CCR-2, presenting nearly 5,000 citations of peer-reviewed studies exposing flaws in global warming alarmism."

"The following week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released its Fifth Assessment Report, which backtracks on many prior IPCC predictions and contradicts many of the most frequent assertions made by global warming activists."

It "...contradicts claims that global warming is causing more extreme weather, acknowledges global warming is occurring more slowly than the IPCC previously predicted and predicts less future warming than previous IPCC reports."

"Several peer-reviewed studies published during recent weeks reinforced the lack of a global warming crisis. For example, a study in the peer-reviewed Nature Climate Change reported global warming is occurring more slowly than what was predicted by 114 of 117 climate models relied on by the IPCC and other government agencies. Real-world warming is occurring at merely half the pace projected by most climate models..."

"... Earth is undergoing substantial greening as a result of higher carbon dioxide levels and more-favorable weather conditions."

"Global hurricane frequency is undergoing a long-term decline..."

We have "...the longest period in recorded history without a major hurricane strike. Tornado activity is in long-term decline..."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Global Warming Might Have Net Benefits Through The Year 2080

See The net benefits of climate change till 2080 by Matt Ridley. Excerpts:

"The accepted consensus among economists is that every £100 spent fighting climate change brings£3 of benefit."
"There are many likely effects of climate change: positive and negative, economic and ecological, humanitarian and financial. And if you aggregate them all, the overall effect is positive today — and likely to stay positive until around 2080. That was the conclusion of Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University after he reviewed 14 different studies of the effects of future climate trends.

To be precise, Prof Tol calculated that climate change would be beneficial up to 2.2˚C of warming from 2009 (when he wrote his paper). This means approximately 3˚C from pre-industrial levels, since about 0.8˚C of warming has happened in the last 150 years. The latest estimates of climate sensitivity suggest that such temperatures may not be reached till the end of the century — if at all. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose reports define the consensis, is sticking to older assumptions, however, which would mean net benefits till about 2080. Either way, it’s a long way off.

Now Prof Tol has a new paper, published as a chapter in a new book, called How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?, which is edited by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, and was reviewed by a group of leading economists. In this paper he casts his gaze backwards to the last century. He concludes that climate change did indeed raise human and planetary welfare during the 20th century."

"Overall, Prof Tol finds that climate change in the past century improved human welfare. By how much? He calculates by 1.4 per cent of global economic output, rising to 1.5 per cent by 2025. For some people, this means the difference between survival and starvation.

It will still be 1.2 per cent around 2050 and will not turn negative until around 2080. In short, my children will be very old before global warming stops benefiting the world. Note that if the world continues to grow at 3 per cent a year, then the average person will be about nine times as rich in 2080 as she is today. So low-lying Bangladesh will be able to afford the same kind of flood defences that the Dutch have today.

The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity. It is a little-known fact that winter deaths exceed summer deaths — not just in countries like Britain but also those with very warm summers, including Greece. Both Britain and Greece see mortality rates rise by 18 per cent each winter. Especially cold winters cause a rise in heart failures far greater than the rise in deaths during heatwaves.

Cold, not the heat, is the biggest killer. For the last decade, Brits have been dying from the cold at the average rate of 29,000 excess deaths each winter. Compare this to the heatwave ten years ago, which claimed 15,000 lives in France and just 2,000 in Britain. In the ten years since, there has been no summer death spike at all. Excess winter deaths hit the poor harder than the rich for the obvious reason: they cannot afford heating. And it is not just those at risk who benefit from moderate warming. Global warming has so far cut heating bills more than it has raised cooling bill."

"The greatest benefit from climate change comes not from temperature change but from carbon dioxide itself. It is not pollution, but the raw material from which plants make carbohydrates and thence proteins and fats. As it is an extremely rare trace gas in the air — less than 0.04 per cent of the air on average — plants struggle to absorb enough of it. On a windless, sunny day, a field of corn can suck half the carbon dioxide out of the air. Commercial greenhouse operators therefore pump carbon dioxide into their greenhouses to raise plant growth rates.

The increase in average carbon dioxide levels over the past century, from 0.03 per cent to 0.04 per cent of the air, has had a measurable impact on plant growth rates. It is responsible for a startling change in the amount of greenery on the planet. As Dr Ranga Myneni of Boston University has documented, using three decades of satellite data, 31 per cent of the global vegetated area of the planet has become greener and just 3 per cent has become less green. This translates into a 14 per cent increase in productivity of ecosystems and has been observed in all vegetation types.

Dr Randall Donohue and colleagues of the CSIRO Land and Water department in Australia also analysed satellite data and found greening to be clearly attributable in part to the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect. Greening is especially pronounced in dry areas like the Sahel region of Africa, where satellites show a big increase in green vegetation since the 1970s.

It is often argued that global warming will hurt the world’s poorest hardest. What is seldom heard is that the decline of famines in the Sahel in recent years is partly due to more rainfall caused by moderate warming and partly due to more carbon dioxide itself: more greenery for goats to eat means more greenery left over for gazelles, so entire ecosystems have benefited."

"Well yes, you may argue, but what about all the weather disasters caused by climate change? Entirely mythical — so far. The latest IPCC report is admirably frank about this, reporting ‘no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency offloads on a global scale … low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms’.

In fact, the death rate from droughts, floods and storms has dropped by 98 per cent since the 1920s, according to a careful study by the independent scholar Indur Goklany. Not because weather has become less dangerous but because people have gained better protection as they got richer: witness the remarkable success of cyclone warnings in India last week. That’s the thing about climate change — we will probably pocket the benefits and mitigate at least some of the harm by adapting. For example, experts now agree that malaria will continue its rapid worldwide decline whatever the climate does."

"climate policy is already doing harm. Building wind turbines, growing biofuels and substituting wood for coal in power stations — all policies designed explicitly to fight climate change — have had negligible effects on carbon dioxide emissions. But they have driven people into fuel poverty, made industries uncompetitive, driven up food prices, accelerated the destruction of forests, killed rare birds of prey, and divided communities."

""Mr Goklany estimates that globally nearly 200,000 people are dying every year, because we are turning 5 per cent of the world’s grain crop into motor fuel instead of food: that pushes people into malnutrition and death. In this country, 65 people a day are dying because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly, according to Christine Liddell of the University of Ulster, yet the government is planning to double the cost of electricity to consumers by 2030.

As Bjorn Lomborg has pointed out, the European Union will pay £165 billion for its current climate policies each and every year for the next 87 years. Britain’s climate policies — subsidising windmills, wood-burners, anaerobic digesters, electric vehicles and all the rest — is due to cost us £1.8 trillion over the course of this century. In exchange for that Brobdingnagian sum, we hope to lower the air temperature by about 0.005˚C — which will be undetectable by normal thermometers. The accepted consensus among economists is that every £100 spent fighting climate change brings £3 of benefit."

A Surprising Case Against Foreign Aid

Click here to read this review of Angus Deaton's Book Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality. From the NY Times, 10-13-13. The reviewer was FRED ANDREWS. Excerpts:
"Professor Deaton tells us that a rising tide has lifted almost all the world’s boats — but some far higher than others."

"In his considered judgment, global poverty today is no longer a result of lack of resources or opportunity, but of poor institutions, poor government and toxic politics. Though about $134 billion in official aid still flows from donor governments to recipient governments, there is no mystery, he says, as to why foreign aid fails to erase poverty. That is not its mission, he asserts: typically it serves commercial interests at home or buys political allies abroad, too often unsavory ones.      "

"THE author has found no credible evidence that foreign aid promotes economic growth; indeed, he says, signs show that the relationship is negative. Regretfully, he identifies a “central dilemma”: When the conditions for development are present, aid is not required. When they do not exist, aid is not useful and probably damaging."

"Professor Deaton makes the case that foreign aid is antidemocratic because it frees local leaders from having to obtain the consent of the governed."

"So what should the West do instead of providing aid? Well, it can invest in finding a vaccine for malaria, still a mass killer. It can push drug companies to tackle diseases that threaten poorer countries. It can support the free flow of information about inventions and new management techniques. It can relax trade barriers and provide poor countries with expert advice at the bargaining table. It can ease immigration restraints and accept more newcomers."
"...stand aside and let poorer countries find their own paths..."

Government Regulation Might Contribute To Rising Health Care Costs

See The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath by ELISABETH ROSENTHAL. From the NY Times, 10-13-13. The price of asthma inhalers has been rising. As you can see below, there are a couple of ways in which government contributes to the rise. Part of it is due to the lobbying of corporations. But this just points to the "capture theory" of regulation. Government regulators are captured by the businesses they are supposed to regulate because those companies have such a strong incentive to alter what government does, unlike the average person. Excerpt:
"Unlike other countries, where the government directly or indirectly sets an allowed national wholesale price for each drug, the United States leaves prices to market competition among pharmaceutical companies, including generic drug makers. But competition is often a mirage in today’s health care arena — a surprising number of lifesaving drugs are made by only one manufacturer — and businesses often successfully blunt market forces.

Asthma inhalers, for example, are protected by strings of patents — for pumps, delivery systems and production processes — that are hard to skirt to make generic alternatives, even when the medicines they contain are old, as they almost all are.

The repatenting of older drugs like some birth control pills, insulin and colchicine, the primary treatment for gout, has rendered medicines that once cost pennies many times more expensive.

“The increases are stunning, and it’s very injurious to patients,” said Dr. Robert Morrow, a family practitioner in the Bronx. “Colchicine is a drug you could find in Egyptian mummies.”

Pharmaceutical companies also buttress high prices by choosing to sell a medicine by prescription, rather than over the counter, so that insurers cover a price tag that would be unacceptable to consumers paying full freight. They even pay generic drug makers not to produce cut-rate competitors in a controversial scheme called pay for delay.

Thanks in part to the $250 million last year spent on lobbying for pharmaceutical and health products — more than even the defense industry — the government allows such practices. Lawmakers in Washington have forbidden Medicare, the largest government purchaser of health care, to negotiate drug prices. Unlike its counterparts in other countries, the United States Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which evaluates treatments for coverage by federal programs, is not allowed to consider cost comparisons or cost-effectiveness in its recommendations. And importation of prescription medicines from abroad is illegal (which was probably done to "protect" the consumer-CM), even personal purchases from mail-order pharmacies."

EPA Mandates Hurt Energy Companies And Consumers

See Dump ethanol mandate by Robert L. Bradley, For the San Antonio Express-News : October 11, 2013. Robert L. Bradley Jr. is CEO of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Excerpts:
"This year the EPA ordered refiners to add 13.8 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol into gasoline, and next year that figure is expected to rise to 14.4 billion gallons. EPA also has mandates for other renewable fuels, some of which are not ready for prime time.

Consider, for example, cellulosic ethanol. For years the EPA has commanded refiners to use millions of gallons of this advanced biofuel despite the fact that the first commercial quantity —amounting to 20,000 gallons — was produced in 2012 according to EPA's own data. But that didn't stop the agency from levying steep fines on refiners. In 2010 and 2011, the oil industry paid more than $6 million for failing to use a nonexistent fuel.

In a court ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington told the EPA that its cellulosic ethanol mandate should be based on reality, not “aspirations,” and the agency lowered the phantom fuel mandate from 8.65 million gallons in 2012 to six million gallons in 2013. Again EPA's data show a total of only 86,000 gallons have been produced this year.

The corn ethanol program suffers from a different problem. There is plenty of ethanol, but because gasoline demand has declined, much of it isn't needed. By law, refiners can only add enough ethanol to the gasoline pool to make E10, a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.

With this year's higher ethanol mandate, refiners have had to purchase ethanol credits called RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers). The RINs have proven to be a huge expense."

"...last year, the agency granted a “partial waiver” allowing the sale of E15, a fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol."

"...gasoline containing ethanol concentrations higher than 10 percent can lead to engine failure."

The mandates "..also is linked to higher food and gasoline prices, higher feed prices for cattle and poultry producers, and unrest in the Middle East."

ObamaCare Might Make Health Care Less Competitive

See Out of Network, Out of Luck by THERESA BROWN, NY Times, 10-13-13. She is is an oncology nurse and the author of “Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between.” Excerpt:
"Historically, insurance companies have had more market power than hospital systems: they set reimbursement levels, determined which providers and hospitals were in or out of network and chose which patients to insure.

The Affordable Care Act, however, is changing that. By mandating that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, or set lifetime caps on total payouts, the act curbs what some would call past insurance company abuses, and in the process cuts back some of the industry’s market power.

But while health insurance practices are becoming more regulated, the act, by offering incentives for coordinated care, has encouraged hospital mergers and the buying up of physician practices.

In line with those changes, more health systems nationally are following the lead of U.P.M.C. and Highmark, combining health insurance with the provision of care itself. The systems promise that such networks streamline care and offer lower costs and consistently good outcomes for patients.

But the worry is that integration will yield not better care but higher profits achieved through monopolistic consolidations and self-serving business practices. The cost of care for an entire geographic region could increase without making patients better off.

Further, if rural hospitals become part of large integrated systems, patients could be shut out from the only nearby hospital, as was feared recently in Altoona, Pa., when U.P.M.C. acquired Altoona Regional Health System."

ObamaCare Might Make It Harder For Small Business To Get Loans

See Health Law Stirs Up Lending: Small-Business Borrowers Pressed to Show They Have a Grip on Insurance Costs by Maxwell Murphy, WSJ, 10-15-13. Excerpts:
"Small businesses are griping that the new U.S. health-care law is difficult to understand. Now some may have another complaint: If they don't have a handle on the law's cost and impact, they may have a harder time getting a loan.

To qualify for some loans, especially for growth capital, more companies are being required to provide assurances that they will be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act by 2015. The law will require businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance to their full-timers or face penalties.

That might be tricky for restaurants, retailers and grocers, for example, which tend to have more part-time and transient workers than other types of businesses. For them, the calculations could fluctuate frequently, making decisions about health-care coverage difficult and profit projections unreliable.

"To raise capital, if you're in a growth mode, you want a [chief financial officer] who exudes credibility," says Christian Oberbeck, chief executive of Saratoga Investment Corp. SAR -1.95% , which provides loans to and invests in small businesses. "We've walked away from financing" a number of companies because they were unable to prove their compliance efforts would work or provide a sober view of the financial impact, he says."

ObamaCare's Serious Complications: For the IRS alone, implementing the law involves 47 different statutory provisions

Click here to read this WSJ article by L. Gordon Crovitz, 10-14-13. Excerpts:
"Software glitches are no surprise with such a complex system. For example, signing up uses a Byzantine process to check if a family is entitled to a subsidy, requiring data from dozens of federal and state agencies using databases built on different technology platforms.

These include Medicaid to determine eligibility, the Internal Revenue Service to determine insurance-premium subsidies based on income, and Homeland Security to confirm citizenship. To make sure the family isn't covered elsewhere, the sites have to retrieve data from the Veterans Health Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs. Assuming a family is cleared and purchases a plan, the information has to be handed off cleanly to an insurance company.

The Government Accountability Office last year calculated that for the IRS alone, implementing ObamaCare would be a "massive undertaking that involves 47 different statutory provisions and extensive coordination." Among them: "disclosure of taxpayer information for determining subsidy eligibility," "drug manufacturer tax" and "high-cost health plan tax." Senate staffers created a mind-boggling graphic showing ObamaCare's various agencies and regulators, which can be viewed at"

Why OPEC No Longer Calls the Shots: The oil embargo 40 years ago spurred an energy revolution. World production is 50% higher today than in 1973

Click here to read this WSJ article by Daniel Yergin, 10-15-13. Mr. Yergin, vice chairman of IHS, is the author of "The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World" (Penguin Press, 2012). Excerpts:
"...the OPEC embargo ... provided massive incentive to develop new oil fields outside of the Middle East—what became known as "non-OPEC," led by drilling in the North Sea and Alaska."

"Despite enormous growth in the U.S. economy since 1973, oil consumption today is up less than 7%."

"The iconic images of the 1970s—gas lines and angry motorists—are trotted out whenever some new disruption happens. Yet those gas lines weren't the result of markets. They were the largely self-inflicted result of government interference in markets with price controls and supply allocation."

"The 1970s were also years of natural-gas shortages...they too were the result of regulation and price controls. What solved the shortages wasn't more controls but their elimination..."

"The lesson is that markets and price signals can work very efficiently, and surprisingly swiftly, even in crises, if they are allowed to."

"Imports reached 60% of domestic consumption in 2005, but they are now down to 35%—the same level as in 1973."

Pre-School Might Not Be Effective

See The 'Universal Pre-K' Fallacy: Free school for 4-year-olds? Sounds great. Too bad it is of no educational value and the cost would be staggering by Red Jahncke, president of the Townsend Group, a management consulting firm in Greenwich, Conn. From the WSJ, 10-17-13. Excerpts:
"There is no research supporting the president's proposition that formal schooling can begin effectively in preschool, even if it is delivered as rigorously as Mr. Obama proposes: that is, by college-educated, certified public-school teachers "paid comparably to K-12 staff," who provide instruction in "small class sizes" following a "rigorous curriculum."

In 2005, the RAND Corp. conducted a general survey of early education programs and research. Rand found only 20, mostly very small, programs or studies that showed any "evidence of effectiveness." Note the absence of the word "educational" in RAND's description.

Head Start was the only large program in RAND's 20. And that $8 billion-a-year program has been found to be ineffective in educational terms by most research. That includes the "Head Start Impact Study," a multiyear study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services during the Bush and Obama administrations. Released in December 2012, the study found "no significant impacts" in education—in the short or long term.

Even the assertion that preschool yields better "life outcomes" is suspect. Preschool doesn't lead to significant improvement in elementary and secondary school achievement, and thus not to college or trade-school matriculation. The linkages should be continuous: Better preschool education should lead to better elementary and secondary-school performance, which in turn would lead to postsecondary education, jobs, crime-free adolescence, stable family formation, etc."