Thursday, July 15, 2021

If You Haven't Switched to the New Conversable Economist Website Yet ...

 If you have been checking this Conversable Economist website and wondering at the lack of recent posts, or if you had been signed up to receive posts by email and have been wondering where they went, the answer is that about a month ago I switched the Conversable Economist blog from Blogger to WordPress. The new web address The 2500 or so archived posts from the last decade have been transferred over, too. All future posts will be added at that website.

The proximate reason for the shift is that Google made a decision to stop supporting Feedburner, which was the software that allowed people to sign up to receive emails about each post. There are subsidiary reasons for the shift, as well, but it doesn't feel worth getting into the minutiae here. I had been feeling for awhile as if the shift might be a good idea, and when Blogger started dropping features that were important to me, it gave me a nudge to go ahead. 

At the Blogger website, I had about 3,000 readers signed up to receive an email of each post. Of course, I don't want to lose you. I think that the names of past email subscribers have been successfully transferred over to WordPress. But of course, there is also a hitch. Many email subscribers have mentioned to me that they like getting the entire post in their email--not just a link to the post. This is still possible! But to receive the full post in your email, you need to sign up for emails via WordPress at the new site.  Overall, if you stop getting emails about new posts, please go to the new home of the blog and sign up there.

One final change perhaps worth noting is that I have added a "Donation" button at the upper right of the new site. Blogger has been free to use. WordPress is not particularly expensive, but it's not free, either. Also, the blog has been for an uncompensated hobby for me during the last decade.  If you are in a financial position to make a donation, it would be a genuine help: in particular, it would help me stop thinking about moving the blog to a subscription model, and instead keep it freely available--which is my preference. 

Thanks for following my musings as the Conversable Economist,

Timothy Taylor

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Learned Hand: "The Spirit of Liberty is the Spirit Which is Not Too Sure That It is Right"

Learned Hand is often on the short list of greatest American judges who never made it to the US Supreme Court. In 1944, during World War II, he delivered a speech on "The Spirit of Liberty" to a vast crowd in Central Park in New York City--with particular attention to the estimated 150,000 newly naturalized Americans attending the event. 

His speech contains one of my own favorite comments: "The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right ..." Hand viewed liberty within an ordered society not as the freedom of isolated individuals to act as they wish, but as part of a shared concern for others. He also viewed freedom as an ideal toward which America continually strives, rather than an accomplished reality. He said: 
What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.

And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2,000 years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.

And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans creates it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and America I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.