Virtue of capitalism
“Who has done more to eradicate poverty and suffering in the third world, Bill Gates or Mother Teresa? To the extent that he has placed the power of information technology at the disposal of millions of people, the obvious answer is Gates. It does not follow that Gates deserves a higher heavenly perch than Mother Teresa. Still, if the moral value of actions were to be judged solely by their consequences, Gates and other tech entrepreneurs have done an awful lot of good… .
“Perhaps capitalism civilizes greed, just as marriage civilizes lust. Greed and lust are human emotions. As such, they cannot be eradicated. And to the degree that greed leads to effort, and lust to pleasure, who would want to eradicate them? At the same time, it is widely recognized that these inclinations can have corrupting and destructive effects. So they have to be regulated or channeled. Capitalism channels greed in such a way that it is placed at the service of the wants of others even unknown wants. Think about this: Before cell phones existed, who even knew that we rich or not could not get by without them?”
Dinesh D’Souza, from his new book, “The Virtue of Prosperity”
“Let the chattering classes focus on chads and undervotes and Florida recounts and what the courts state and federal, all the way up to the Supreme Court would or wouldn’t do. Let us not forget that the candidate who won the national popular vote falls only three votes short of a clear Electoral College majority even without Florida. If on December 18, the day the Electoral College convenes to cast its ballot, three Republican electors decide on their own to vote for him, all the speculation is moot.
“Our purpose is to argue that our three hypothetical electors should so decide and that American democracy would be the better for it. And that this particular election, because it is so close and because it has raised fundamental issues of voting rights, provides the right historic moment for such a gesture… .
“Election 2000’s clouded outcome has highlighted some glaring flaws in our electoral system uncounted votes, confused voters, voters rejected … which has stimulated a growing sentiment for reform. And so while the country’s mood is hospitable to reform, why not abolish the most undemocratic institution of all the Electoral College?
“That’s where our hypothetical three electors come in. By casting their votes for the popular-vote winner, … they would guarantee the election of the man who won the popular vote … [and] such a gesture might break the antidemocratic stranglehold of the Electoral College on American politics.”
from “Wanted: Three Electors,” the lead editorial in the Dec. 25 issue of the Nation
Descent into hell
“By now the details of [Robert] Downey’s descent into drug hell are more familiar than his movies: how his father, an underground filmmaker known mostly for 1969’s Putney Swope, gave him a toke of marijuana when Robert was only 6 (an act Downey Sr. has said he now deeply regrets); how his drinking and drug use grew when he was a teen; how he eventually developed a fierce cocaine habit. Along the way, Downey who was also knocking off star-making roles in films like 1987’s ‘Less Than Zero’and 1992’s ‘Chaplain’ (for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination) resisted all efforts to help him clean up. At one point, his friend Sean Penn broke down the door of Downey’s home, forced him into a private jet and checked him into a remote rehab center in Tucson [Ariz.]. Downey simply escaped the clinic and hitchhiked into town. ‘This is a boy who really likes being high, as opposed to thinking, “Oh, God, my life can’t get any lower,” ‘ Loree Rodkin, Downey’s manager from 1983 to 1990, [said] last year. ‘He loves being on the edge.’ ”
Alex Tresniowski, writing on “Bad to Worse,” in the Dec. 18 issue of People