- 1 Michael Savage
- 2 My compliments.
- 3 Vandal spree to report
- 4 Block 70Jack90
- 5 Thank you...
- 6 Lyndon B Johnson wikiquotes page
- 7 Thank you for your kind explanation
- 8 Thank You
- 9 The Legend of Korra continued vandalism
- 10 Are those vandals still around?
- 11 The war page is just as bad as the bigotry page
- 12 Persistent vandalism
- 13 Would you show me what the graffiti page should look like?
- 14 Catullus name change
- 15 please read my discussion comment posted after the Clyfford Still wikiquotes article.
- 16 I'm a bit rusty
- 17 Grātia grātiam parit
- 18 Hi
- 19 What are quotations?
- 20 I refactored one of your posts
- 21 Another question about philosophy of economics
- 22 Statius correction
- 23 Thanks for restoring the quote I accidentally deleted.
- My pleasure. Thanks for creating the page. ~ DanielTom (talk) 22:02, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I just wanted to say that you've been doing good work here, and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that your previous conflict seems to have evaporated. I am going to recommend removing the interaction ban, and would like to nominate you for adminship. Cheers! BD2412 T 02:55, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
- !!! I must decline the nomination. But thanks for your kind and encouraging words. ~ DanielTom (talk) 15:58, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Vandal spree to report
- I'm not an admin here, so I can't block him. ~ DanielTom (talk) 13:15, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
Would you do us all a favor and please block 70Jack90 for its false allegation against me?
- Furthermore, it has been undoing all my highly-justified edits and constantly failed to comply with Wikiquote's limitations on quotes.
- You're welcome. ~ DanielTom (talk) 13:42, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
- Thanks, IOHANNVSVERVS. It seems to me, that Pope contradicted himself: in his Preface to the Iliad, he starts by saying,
- «Homer is universally allowed to have had the greatest invention of any writer whatever... his invention remains yet unrivalled.»
- but then in his Preface to the Works of Shakespeare, he writes:
- «If ever any Author deserved the name of an Original, it was Shakespeare. Homer himself drew not his art so immediately from the fountains of Nature; it proceeded through Egyptian strainers and channels, and came to him not without some tincture of the learning, or some cast of the models, of those before him.»
- !? ~ DanielTom (talk) 18:01, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Lyndon B Johnson wikiquotes page
Lyndon B Johnson did NOT utter a quote that is errantly being attributed to him. That quote, on his wikiquotes page, was being touted as follows: "I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you. As quoted in "What a Real President Was Like: To Lyndon Johnson, the Great Society Meant Hope and Dignity", by Bill Moyers, The Washington Post (13 November 1988).
Lyndon B Johnson died in 1973. The absolute FIRST time that this quote was attributed to him was 15 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH, in the 1988 Bill Moyers article that you (and others) are referencing. This is NOT a verified quote from President Johnson. It is, rather, a contrived and politically expedient piece of propaganda that was invented by Bill Moyers. Does it have ANY root in reality? Very possibly, there may be some aspect of President Johnson's views that come somewhere close to the quote's sentiment. the quote is absolutely, however, NOT a verifiable quote from President Johnson, and it will not stand, in Wikiquotes, as a valid entry on Lyndon B Johnson's wikiquotes page, and I have removed it. This is not the first time that I have removed it, and I have communicated with an admin from wikiquotes who also agrees that the quote is NOT verifiable.
- Thanks for taking the time to explain. I moved the quote to the Attributed/Disputed section. ~ DanielTom (talk) 17:22, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for your kind explanation
Thank you, DanielTom, for your tactful explanation of wikiquotes protocols.
- Thank you for your understanding. ~ DanielTom (talk) 17:23, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
I saw your "Thank You" notification just now when I was referencing the page for "The Fountainhead." Let me thank you - positive feedback is a Good Thing. BTW, can you point me to any documentation on how one creates a Notification? (My familiarity with Wikipedia protocols is still quite sketchy.) Again, many thanks. CononOfSamos (talk) 22:20, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
- Thank you for thanking me that I thanked you :-). I replied on your talk page. ~ DanielTom (talk) 11:06, 22 August 2015 (UTC)
The Legend of Korra continued vandalism
Hello DanielTom, As you may or may not know, I've been editing The Legend of Korra Wikiquote page, adding more quotes from the show and clearing away the muck that is vandalism by people without usernames (or better things to do). I've discovered that I cannot revert the page back to the way it was when I had it right because there have been too many edits since then. I was wondering if you knew how to fix this. Some of the stuff on the page currently is completely wrong, and quite frankly, a bit insulting to the show. I'd appreciate your help or the help of anyone who knows how to fix this. Regards, --JediMasterSimba2014 (talk) 04:02, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
- Hi JediMasterSimba2014. Please follow the instructions at Help:Reverting. (You can revert to any good version, as far back as you want.) After that, I'll request that the page be semi-protected, so IPs can't continue to vandalize it. ~ DanielTom (talk) 10:03, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
- Thank you very much, DanielTom
- You're welcome. :) DanielTom (talk) 13:20, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
Are those vandals still around?
The war page is just as bad as the bigotry page
I'm retiring now; thought I'd ask your opinion on the quotes that don't directly mention war. Also the pages for necromancy, paranormal for the redirect telepathy, medicine and psychiatry. That's all I believe, but I think redirects for hospital and battleground to medicine and war would be appropriate. CensoredScribe (talk) 03:55, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
- The quotes on the War page don't necessarily need to "directly mention" (the word) "war", but IMO they should at least be directly about war (otherwise it can quickly get out of control). Re your retirement, I sense you've been adding too many quotes too fast, so perhaps if you'd slow down a bit, you'd enjoy editing here more. But that's up to you. ~ DanielTom (talk) 15:51, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
Hi, I noticed that you are a very experienced Wikiquote member who has edited recently and was wondering if you could help me with an issue. The PAW Patrol page keeps being vandalized by the same IP, and its edits have had to be reverted numerous times. Looking through this IP's other edits, it is clear that the address is used as a vandalism-only account and I was wondering if you could request for the page to be semi-protected or the IP blocked, as I haven't the time or the authority. Thank you! Squiddaddy (talk) 00:41, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
- Done. Thanks for your attention. ~ DanielTom (talk) 00:49, 28 November 2015 (UTC)
Would you show me what the graffiti page should look like?
You are my senior here, so I was wondering if you would please demonstrate what the page for graffiti should look like; it seems ironic you clean up so much vandalism but don't have an opinion on that page. Clearly I could use your help, so by showing me that one page as an example; you would be doing the wiki and me a lot of good. CensoredScribe (talk) 16:51, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
Catullus name change
- I don't know. "Qur'an" seems to be the most common spelling. ~ DanielTom (talk) 23:01, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
please read my discussion comment posted after the Clyfford Still wikiquotes article.
I have stated my case at the end of the Still wikiquotes article. You apparently changed my edit so that the errors I had corrected would be retained. Why? Theoldestmanintheworldmaybe (talk) 02:34, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
- You changed "truly vision" to "true vision", but when I checked the cited source I didn't see "true", so I reverted you. I have now changed it again, this time to "truly free vision", which is the correct version. Sorry for the confusion. ~ DanielTom (talk) 02:45, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm a bit rusty
Thanks for your appreciation of my starting the Gene Wolfe article. Have you read him much? I did not know you followed that sort of contemporary literature. Do you have a favorite? ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:43, 13 March 2016 (UTC)
- I obviously have much more to learn from you than you from me on anything related to literature; in fact, I would love to know what your reading recommendations are, and hear your thoughts on science fiction in particular (a subject I know very little about). My own opinions are always changing, and I'm often embarrassed – whenever I re-read my earlier ones – at how ignorant and dismissive I have been of many subjects and authors; so they are not reliable. But perhaps I can share a few thoughts with you:
- First of all, let me just say I'm very tired – I almost haven't slept in the past few days in order to watch the AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol match (for games 1 and 3 I stayed up all night till 9 AM) – but am happy to see Lee Sedol won today. You're a Go player – are you following it at all? I believe Lee Sedol's "God" play (move 78) will go down in history (like Shusaku's ear-reddening move). [In game 2, AlphaGo also played a surprising move, #37; Lee walked away from the table then, and if you listen to the live commentary at that moment, Michael Redmond says Lee Sedol doesn't smoke – but he is wrong! When I was in Seoul Lee walked past me, and I was surprised to see he was smoking!]
- Gene Wolfe is a great writer, judging from my reading of his short story "Castaway", and the first chapter of The Shadow of the Torturer (which I just started, after seeing your article). Only recently have I realized that one of the joys of reading a book is actually discussing it with other people – but I'm afraid I can't help you there (having not read it) as of yet. I did find it interesting that the story seems to be narrated by (or seen from the point of view of) one of the characters. Perhaps George R. R. Martin drew inspiration from this. (I've met and talked to Martin once, and have 10 books signed by him.) José Saramago (Portugal's only Nobel Prize for Literature winner) also sometimes blends the narrator (who is not always omniscient) with the characters' thoughts. Gene Wolfe, in turn, seems to be imitating Tolkien by pretending that his work is a translation (like Bilbo's from Elvish): "In rendering this book – originally composed in a tongue that has not yet achieved existence – into English, &c."
- I'm currently reading (among other books) The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, and his imitations of Tolkien (including of his main characters) are so blatant on every page, that it has been very hard for me to read even two paragraphs straight without having to put the book down in distress. Of course all authors borrow ideas from one another – even Virgil from Homer. We often don't notice the imitation because we are ignorant of the original – which makes discussing books with more knowledgeable people (or, in the case of old books, reading commentaries/annotations to them) all the more profitable; when these resources are not available, we have to depend on ourselves – and in my case that's bad news because of my only very limited reading of the classics. So, for instance, when I read Gabriel Pereira de Castro's Ulysséa, I can recognize that in Canto II he is imitating quite closely the beginning of the Aeneid (the storm), and that in Canto VI he copies extensively from the end of the Iliad (Achilles' fight with Hector), but I can't distinguish his imitations of Statius, Ovid, Ariosto, Tasso, etc., unless they are explicitly pointed out to me.
- Just to finish this thought, I should add that another benefit of talking to more learned readers (like yourself) is coming into contact with new perspectives/attitudes: about a month ago I had to go to a distant city buy a somewhat ancient book in a "alfarrabista" (seller of rare books), and since I was there and the old man (of 90+ years old) was so friendly, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions (mainly about pronunciation of ancient words) – but what impressed me most was his mode of speaking and posture, and the great respect (almost veneration) he showed to our classical writers. Such an experience changes your outlook much more than reading a mountain of books alone. Not to mention our nature as social animals (in Aristotle's words), etc., etc. ...
- I like fantasy, but in a "medieval" setting – spaceships and "futuristic" settings in general don't attract me (should they?). But I can appreciate works like Dune, the original Star Wars films, and yes, Gene Wolfe's stories. And I understand that sometimes it's useful to make the reader "lose" the Earth so that he may better appreciate what he takes for granted every day. Still, I think such morals for stories should be made subtly: I much prefer authors that let the reader draw his/her own conclusions, than those who feel the need to spell them out explicitly (which is certainly a weakness of Lloyd Alexander). Gene Wolfe seems to fall into the same trap right in the first chapter:
- "Perhaps it was Vodalus's willingness to die to protect her that made the woman seem precious to me; certainly it was that willingness that kindled my admiration for him. Many times since then [...] when I have heard in hissing whispers the hate of the crowd and sensed what was far less welcome, the admiration of those who find an unclean joy in pains and deaths not their own, I have recalled Vodalus at the graveside, and raised my own blade half pretending that when it fell I would be striking for him."
- Does the reader really need to be told explicitly that Vodalus's willingness to die is to be admired? This reflection may be profound and eloquent, but I couldn't help feeling it came too soon. (Nevertheless, I wouldn't call it a "fault" – at least the author is telling us something about the characters, and it is not so exogenous.) The others were more appropriate – for example, when he says: "I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them" (think gravity), and: "We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges" (Kalki would probably love this).
- The first chapter is exciting and captivating, as it always should be. The descriptions are vivid and expressive (brought to my mind The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe), but I am surprised that you should like books with violence. Minor detail: I would not presume to improve upon Gene Wolfe, but in "Vodalus did not reply, but the point of his sword looked from one to another like an eye" – after "looked", "like an eye" seems to me unnecessary, and ruins the prosopopoeia. Anyway, having just re-read Castaway, and now Severian saying that (his?) memory "in the final accounting loses nothing", makes me think that memory is probably an important theme in Wolfe's work. The end of the first chapter is perhaps revealing on a political level:
- "With him I hated the Autarchy, though I had no notion of what might replace it. With him I despised the exultants who failed to rise against the Autarch and bound the fairest of their daughters to him in ceremonial concubinage. With him I detested the people for their lack of discipline and a common purpose. Of those values that Master Malrubins (who had been master of apprentices when I was a boy) had tried to teach me, and that Master Palaemon still tried to impart, I accepted only one: loyalty to the guild."
- I don't know what the "Autarchy" is, but... is the author a supporter of Guild Socialism? (Bertrand Russell called it "the best practicable system" – see one of my first edits to Wikiquote.) Well, these were my initial thoughts; take them with a grain of salt. Of course it would be more interesting for me to learn from you why you like Gene Wolfe, if you ever met him, etc. I'll let you know if I ever finish reading The Book of the New Sun, but it might take me a while. Kalki recommended that I read The Last Unicorn many months ago, and I'm still only halfway through. If this doesn't bother you and you have other book suggestions, let me know. ~ DanielTom (talk) 23:28, 13 March 2016 (UTC)
- Hi DanielTom. A few comments on points you raise about the text:
- Yes, the story is narrated by one of the characters, a technique known as First-person narrative. Wolfe frequently (usually?) uses this device in which, rather than an authorial point of view or an all-knowing "God's eye view" perspective, the narrator's POV is one of the fictional elements being portrayed. Of particular note in Wolfe's work, his narrators are imperfect and unreliable – they are only human, so you can't believe everything they say.
- "Does the reader really need to be told explicitly that Vodalus's willingness to die is to be admired?" Actually, what the reader is being told is that Sevarian admired it – it's the "first person narrative" thing.
- Re. "looked from one to another like an eye": I think this conversion from metaphor into simile is a reflection of the way Sevarian thinks – he is somewhat literal-minded and strives (not always successfully) for a kind of objectivity that would shun prosopopoeia unless it has a disclaimer.
- Memory is indeed an important subject in many of Wolfe's works, ranging from Sevarian's total recall in this work to a narrator with total amnesia in another work.
- Autarchy (more commonly autocracy) is an absolute monarchy, where the autarch (more commonly autocrat) has unlimited authority. (The adjective autocratic is widely used in modern English.) – It pays to read Wolfe with a good unabridged dictionary at hand, because he loves to play with obscure and archaic language.
- "Is the author a supporter of Guild Socialism?" I don't think so: his other works do not portray this is a recurring theme, and within this work Sevarian's attitude toward his guild evolves over time. What does reoccur in Wolfe's work is the idea that the political and social circumstances of one's environment foster a kind of narrow-mindedness that can be overcome or transcended.
- A couple remarks about my own reading:
- I read quite a lot of science fiction and fantasy of the literary sort. I could write at great length about the science fiction genre, but not today. Most genre fiction is, of course, sub-literary: I agree with Theodore Sturgeon that ninety percent of science fiction is crud – because ninety percent of everything is crud.
- Discussion is good. I recently joined a newly formed discussion group, forked from a local science fiction & fantasy book club, that is specifically focused on reading Gene Wolfe.
- I do not seek out stories with violence for the thrill (drama) of it, but neither do I shy away from literature that addresses this important aspect of human nature.
- The Book of the New Sun is a great book on many levels, and a very influential one. It is also one of Wolfe's most difficult works to fully appreciate. Don't be surprised if you sometimes find it confusing: Wolfe is doing it on purpose. (See Neil Gaiman's remark at Gene Wolfe#Quotes about Gene Wolfe.) ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:05, 20 March 2016 (UTC)
- @Ningauble: Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. (This is Wikiquote, so I'll respond by quoting some authors I like.)
- I thought "Autarchy" was being used with a different meaning by Wolfe. I wasn't even sure Severian being called a "torturer" meant he actually tortured people (until chapter three). You write: “What does reoccur in Wolfe's work is the idea that the political and social circumstances of one's environment foster a kind of narrow-mindedness that can be overcome or transcended.” [Fine prose – have you considered writing professionally?] Severian says (in chapter two) that he "was subsequently to betray" the torturers. So there is much potential for character development – perhaps brought about by Severian himself being tortured, or some other pivotal experience. For the record, in times of real poverty, torture is not so shocking a deterrent: The Prince and the Pauper takes place at a time when torture was still legal in England – and when stealing a pig could get you hanged:
- “The judge turned to the woman again, and said, in a compassionate voice—
"'Tis a poor ignorant lad, and mayhap was driven hard by hunger, for these be grievous times for the unfortunate; mark you, he hath not an evil face—but when hunger driveth—Good woman! dost know that when one steals a thing above the value of thirteenpence ha'penny the law saith he shall HANG for it?"
The little King started, wide-eyed with consternation, but controlled himself and held his peace; but not so the woman. She sprang to her feet, shaking with fright, and cried out—
"Oh, good lack, what have I done! God-a-mercy, I would not hang the poor thing for the whole world! Ah, save me from this, your worship—what shall I do, what CAN I do?"
The justice maintained his judicial composure, and simply said—
"Doubtless it is allowable to revise the value, since it is not yet writ upon the record."
"Then in God's name call the pig eightpence, and heaven bless the day that freed my conscience of this awesome thing!"
Miles Hendon forgot all decorum in his delight; and surprised the King and wounded his dignity, by throwing his arms around him and hugging him. [...] The justice wrote a while longer, then read the King a wise and kindly lecture, and sentenced him to a short imprisonment in the common jail, to be followed by a public flogging. The astounded King opened his mouth, and was probably going to order the good judge to be beheaded on the spot; but he caught a warning sign from Hendon, and succeeded in closing his mouth again before he lost anything out of it.”
- “The judge turned to the woman again, and said, in a compassionate voice—
- Wolfe (or his characters) has (have) some strange ideas about women: "But Ymar the Almost Just, observing how cruel the women were and how often they exceeded the punishments he had decreed, ordered that there should be women among the torturers no more." ("Almost Just", as in, at least he didn't want torture to be too cruel.) A little later Severian says: "before they come too near to being men, boys often have an almost female insight". Other passages I found humorous:
- "Inside, the client lifted her head, opening dark eyes very wide." ["client" = torture victim]
- "It was in this instant of confusion that I realized for the first time that I am in some degree insane."
- I could point out many more interesting passages (or curious expressions, like "the green face of the moon"), but I'll limit myself to only a few observations, so my response doesn't become as long as the letters Cicero wrote to Atticus: the importance of symbolism is again beautifully epitomized by Severian:
- "the coin [...] was my only link with the night before, my only connection with Vodalus and the beautiful, hooded woman and the heavy man who had struck at me with his shovel, my only booty from the fight at the opened grave."
- And once you realize Severian is not going to be a torturer forever, the last sentence of the first chapter suddenly becomes very intriguing: "It was in this fashion that I began the long journey by which I have backed into the throne." I don't know what backed into the throne means, but these verses of Camões come to mind:
- It is bold to tell the readers in the very first chapter that Severian (who "hated the Autarchy") will himself become the Autarch – but I nearly missed it. (Another example: in the second chapter, Severian says he almost drowned and had a near-death experience "On the day I was to save Vodalus" – which had happened in the previous chapter. So I had to go back, and there it was, in the first paragraph: "... the aftermath of our swim, in which I, the torturer's apprentice Severian, had so nearly drowned.") He makes another prediction in chapter three: "here I would practice the ancient art and raise myself to the rank of master, here I would lay the foundation for the restoration of our guild to its former glory" – I am tempted to quote the Portuguese Homer again:
- "...By dreadful dangers, by such Brunts as these,
By such Herculean labours, and vast toils,
They That in Glory's Schools take their degrees,
Acquire immortal Laurels and fat spoils;
Not wholly leaning, against rotten Trees
Of ancient Houses, &c. &c. .....
No, but by tearing out of Horror's mouth
Honours, which we may truly call our own ..." (ditto. 95) [Needless to say, there is no mention of "Schools", nor of "degrees", in the original; no wonder Voltaire (who did not know Portuguese, and only read Fanshawe's version) thought that "almost in every page [of the Luciad] there is what to laugh at and what to be delighted with".]
- "...By dreadful dangers, by such Brunts as these,
- You write: “Most genre fiction is, of course, sub-literary: I agree with Theodore Sturgeon that ninety percent of science fiction is crud – because ninety percent of everything is crud.” Cf. Vida:
- "Nor would I scruple, with a due regard,
To read sometimes a rude unpolish'd bard;
Among whose labours I may find a line,
Which from unsightly rust I may refine,
And, with a better grace, adopt it into mine." (Pitt, Art of Poetry, III.253)
- "Nor would I scruple, with a due regard,
- (George R. R. Martin advises aspiring writers to read everything, including bad books – to learn what not to do.)
- Finally, regarding your first point: “Actually, what the reader is being told is that Sevarian admired it – it's the "first person narrative" thing.”, biting sarcasm aside:
- «a first-person narrator. The author may speak indirectly through one character, thereby providing the reader with a fixed, consistent viewpoint of the story. The way in which this character, the story "I," perceives and experiences the events of story provides one perspective through which the author's attitudes and values may be revealed.» (from Elementary English)
- You contradict yourself: “"Is the author a supporter of Guild Socialism?" I don't think so: his other works do not portray this is a recurring theme, and within this work Sevarian's attitude toward his guild evolves over time.” (Relax, I know what you meant.) Okay, take care. ~ DanielTom (talk) 04:56, 22 March 2016 (UTC)
- I'm just waiting for admins to block you and your other troll accounts – you're not fooling anybody. ~ DanielTom (talk) 16:32, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
- I had a feeling as well. (update: account globally locked) ---Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 17:29, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
- This particular account, as well as a few others involved in recent vandalism were blocked globally. Though neither local or global responses can always be immediate, the global counter-vandal operations on Wikimedia projects seem much more reliable than they once were. ~ ♞☤☮♌Kalki·†·⚓⊙☳☶⚡17:49, 26 March 2016 (UTC
- I had a feeling as well. (update: account globally locked) ---Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 17:29, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
In re-reading some articles I created a couple of years ago on Portuguese Wikipedia, I was struck by the following passage of Costa e Silva criticizing a poem:
- Debalde se procura um pensamento brilhante e novo, um rasgo sublime, uma pintura enérgica, um daqueles versos vibrados que eletrizam a alma, e se gravam na memória. Tudo pálido e desanimado; nada que respire entusiasmo ou que interesse o coração.
- "In vain do we look for a bright new thought, a sublime stroke, an energetic painting, one of those vibrating verses that electrify the soul, and are engraved in memory. All pale and dispirited; nothing that breathes enthusiasm or that interests the heart." (my translation)
which I think is an exemplary (if accidental/indirect) description of what quotations should be like. ~ DanielTom (talk) 17:59, 3 April 2016 (UTC)
I refactored one of your posts
In refactoring a Village Pump discussion that was interrupted by someone's trollish off-topic interjection, by splitting it into two threads with this edit, I took the liberty of splitting one of your posts into two parts dealing with the two topics. I hope that is okay with you. If not, please feel free to re-edit your original post. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:33, 8 May 2016 (UTC)
Another question about philosophy of economics
Hi DanielTom. I know this is off-topic for Wikiquote, but I am very challenged by our debates, and I hope we can continue. This is my latest question.
- Suppose a group of like-minded individuals create a new currency that can only be used for virtuous purposes. The users of this currency adopt a higher moral standard for themselves, and refuse to engage in trade with those who build weapons or harm the environment. Wouldn’t economists be compelled by their principles to celebrate illicit exchanges where the currency of virtue was exchanged for dollars? Wouldn’t they see prohibition of exchange between the two currencies as a market impairment?
- The shopkeeper serves all customers without asking if their aims are noble or base. Economics hypothesizes that all human beings are shopkeepers. But is this a reasonable hypothesis? Should I really assent to help a man before I know the end to which he will use my work?
- In other words, economics seems to impose a nonjudgmental attitude on economic subjects, and sees all forms of discrimination, from racism to refusal to serve tyrants, as market impairments. But isn’t careful discrimination of the goodness of the aims for which my goods and services will be used—and refusal to serve bad aims—an essential aspect of morality?
- Hello Peter1c. Thanks for your thoughtful questions. My response:
- Wouldn’t economists be compelled by their principles to celebrate illicit exchanges where the currency of virtue was exchanged for dollars? No.
- Wouldn’t they see prohibition of exchange between the two currencies as a market impairment? Yes.
- We agree that not all "market impairments" are bad – consider the "prohibition" of child labor, for example. Most economists (I won't say all) don't want to bring back child labor. But here we are mixing ethics, and politics, with economics. Milton Friedman in this interview (in which he says, "If you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel") makes the point clearer:
- "It's a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people, who may be doing something you and I don't approve of, but who are doing something that hurts nobody else. Most of the arrests for drugs are for possession by casual users. Now here's somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he's caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it's absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That's the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons." (emphasis mine)
- So, you see, even the most prominent advocate of free markets is careful to point out that he is making a moral case against the drug war. (Freakonomics has a chapter on "the economics of drug dealing", if you're interested in the "supply and demand" approach.) I recently added the following quote by Paul Samuelson to Economics (textbook):
- "We have seen that markets have remarkable efficiency properties. But we cannot say that laissez-faire capitalism produces the greatest happiness of the greatest numbers. Nor does it necessarily result in the fairest possible use of resources. Why not? Because people are not equally endowed with purchasing power. Some are very poor through no fault of their own, while others are very rich through no virtue of their own. So the weighting of dollar votes, which lie behind the individual demand curves, may look unfair. [...] A society does not live on efficiency alone. Philosophers and the populace ask, Efficiency for what? And for whom? A society may choose to change a laissez-faire equilibrium to improve the equity or fairness of the distribution of income and wealth. The society may decide to sacrifice efficiency to improve equity. [...] There are no correct answers here. These are normative questions that are answered in the political arena by democratic voters or autocratic planners. [again, my emphasis] Positive economics cannot say what steps governments should take to improve equity. But economics can offer some insights into the efficiency of different government policies that affect the distribution of income and consumption."
- I can't explain it any better than that. You ask, "The shopkeeper serves all customers without asking if their aims are noble or base. Economics hypothesizes that all human beings are shopkeepers. But is this a reasonable hypothesis? Should I really assent to help a man before I know the end to which he will use my work?" The last question is one of ethics, not economics. (Ditto for "But isn’t careful discrimination of the goodness of the aims for which my goods and services will be used—and refusal to serve bad aims—an essential aspect of morality?".) No shopkeeper would sell you a gun if you told him you wanted to murder your wife with it. And as far as I know, economics does not "hypothesize that all human beings are shopkeepers". If we look at consumers, demand curves presuppose not only purchasing power but also willingness or an interest in the commodity (which you don't have for guns, for example). Even assuming such a hypothesis exists (I never heard it before), I should mention – because I quoted Milton Friedman – that there is a school of thought in economics called Instrumentalism which maintains that theories are only useful instruments (not true or false), with the purpose of making predictions; according to some authors, the fact that a hypothesis is false can even be meritorious – sometimes things are so complicated that if we don't allow any falsehood we'll never get anywhere. Much more could be said, but I'll close with a quote from Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang, who comes to your defense in showing that economics and politics are not so easily distinguishable:
- "[To clearly know where economics should end and politics should begin] is not possible because markets—the domain of economics—are political constructs themselves. Markets are political constructs in so far as all property rights and other rights that underpin them have political origins. The political origins of economic rights can be seen in the fact that many of them that are seen as natural today were hotly contested politically in the past—examples include the right to own ideas (not accepted by many before the introduction of intellectual property rights in the 19th century) and the right not to have to work when young (denied to many poor children). When these rights were still politically contested, there were plenty of 'economic' arguments as to why honouring them was incompatible with the free market. Given this, when neo-liberals propose de-politicizing the economy, they are presuming that the particular demarcation between economics and politics that they want to draw is the correct one. This is unwarranted."
- I think Chang is "the kind of economist [you] can relate to", and I imagine you would enjoy reading his books – at least I do, even though I don't agree with many of the things he says (for example on austerity). He does put a different "spin" on many "accepted truths" in economics, and offers valuable and sometimes surprising insights... Okay, this post is already too long. Take care ~ DanielTom (talk) 17:58, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
Thanks regarding this edit 
Wrong Statius though Cicero does quote the line in Tusculan Disputations also.
- You're right. Still, De Senectute seems a better source to cite – in Tusculanae Disputationes, the name "Statius" is not mentioned. ~ DanielTom (talk) 00:41, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for restoring the quote I accidentally deleted.
Thanks for catching that, however if you could please also include mention of deleting quotes in edit summaries, instead of the much more loose term revision. Revision implies change to existing material and not addition, although it's still correct that any change is revising the page, it's also quite vague as to what the actual change was; which is odd since you took the time to mention the deletion of a quote, but not the addition of a quote. CensoredScribe (talk) 18:51, 24 June 2016 (UTC)