Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Trial of . . . Socrates?

Recently a friend of ours who has a Ph.D. in Medieval Philosophy and who teaches at a Jesuit institution of higher learning (no, not Georgetown), read an essay on the trial of Socrates that very nearly cost him his hair and eyesight.  He was tempted to tear out the former and gouge out the latter after reading such gems as:

• “The trial of Socrates during Roman times.”

• “. . . how much he appreciated and in a way admired the young followers or pupils he had throughout Rome.”

• “. . . and how he had traveled to Rome to try and find a man that was smarter than him.”

• “. . . his favorite activity was to go around Rome . . .”

And at least four additional references to Rome.  (Someone did remark, however, that everything prior to AD 500 is considered “Roman Times.”  If you subscribe to the Greek Gazette, you’re out of luck.)

Stop and think for a moment, though.  That’s not so bad.

Of course, Sir Percy Blakeney, a.k.a. “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” told the Prince Regent when Prinny suggested that a new coat was “not so bad,” “My dear sir.  In all the world there is nothing quite so bad as something that is ‘not so bad’.”

Anyway, let’s consider the trial of Socrates in Roman times from the point of view of the accounting concept of materiality.

The individual billing himself as the “Premier Catholic economist in America” (begging the question as to what the heck “Catholic economics” is, and when was it baptized and confirmed, and how come we weren’t invited to the First Communion Bash), claims that FDR was influenced by Quadragesimo Anno in designing and implementing the New Deal.

The New Deal was designed in large measure by Adolf Berle and Alvin (“I am not a chipmunk”) Hansen.  Their thought was formed by the growth of legal positivism and the influence of Keynes.  Legal positivism got its toehold in the early 19th century, and Keynes’s economic thought was fully formed by 1915.

Quadragesimo Anno was issued in mid-1931.  It was then that Msgr. John A. Ryan (a.k.a., “The Right Reverend New Dealer” and “Monsignor New Deal”) immediately seized on it as supporting what Dr. Franz H. Mueller described as Ryan’s “corporatist” approach and vast increase in State power.  Ironically, evidence suggests that Quadragesimo Anno was written in part to counter Ryan’s influence. . . .

Anyway, this is an error of 15 years in putting the alleged effect before the cause.  (Time travel!! Yay!!!! Screw the laws of thermodynamics!!!!!!!!!)  Now, from 2006 or so when we saw the claim linking FDR and QA and 1931 is 75 years.  15 is 1/5 or 20% of 75, meaning a 20% error is okay . . . even if cause follows effect.

Socrates took his swig of hemlock in 399 BC, having been born in 469, evidently living backwards as so many of today’s academics do.  Call the fatal imbibing 400 BC to make the calculation easier.  Putting the event in AD 500 is 900 years off, give or take a month or so.  From AD 2000 (rounding again) to 400 BC is 2,400 years.  900 is 37.5% of 2,400.  This is close enough to 20% for government work and academia.  The error is therefore within acceptable parameters.

Oh, you are whining about the fundamental falsity of the underlying premise?  What are you, some kind of nut?  How did you ever get a Ph.D.?


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