About the Blog

Profile of Adam Smith
Profile of Adam Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Scientific and Technical Communication, my research and writings focus on the Rhetoric of Economics and the Rhetoric of Narrative. The question of interest to me is how we "sell" the economic and social theories on which public policy is based.

After serving as a visiting teaching professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business, I decided to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Digital Technology. It is one thing to study debates and another to understand the current tools of debate.

You are reading Almost Classical, a blog on economics and public policy. This blog reflects a worldview shaped by J. S. Mill, Adam Smith, and many others. For a detailed explanation of what I view as being “almost” a Classical Liberal, you should read "C. S. Wyatt’s Views on Life." My views are closer to the origins of Classical Liberalism than to the libertarianism of the American conservative movement or Libertarian Party, which seems to ignore the social contract suggested by Adam Smith.

I am a proponent of “Negative Rights.” Traditionally, these are described as the “Freedom from Intervention or Interference” but I consider that misleading phrasing. I admit, my problem with this reflects a political and theoretical bias: I consider these “Negative Rights” the Freedom to Act and Think what I want as long as I harm no one else — but as a professor I am obligated to help students use the proper terminology. My lectures refer to my libertarian ideals as Negative Rights because that is the accepted terminology within academia.

The challenge for a rhetorician is that concepts and terms do change, based on context. When George Lackoff writes of a “Freedom from Want” he is not describing Negative Rights. I do discuss Lackoff in my courses, as well as Frank Luntz. Both men use “Freedom From” to appeal to very different audiences. (Welcome to rhetoric, where the art of persuasion meets the science of psychology.)

Reading through old writings by socialists and communists, these thinkers used the “Freedom From” quite differently than we might when discussing “Negative” and “Positive” freedoms. The rhetorical move of supporting a “Freedom from Poverty” or a “Freedom from Disease” is quite effective. Many brilliant and admirable men and women of the left discuss “Freedom From” in ways that are far more effective than the rhetoric employed by most libertarians or conservatives. It is this rhetorical “Freedom From” various concerns and perceived threats that I oppose because it invites government to solve problems. It is the Freedom from Interference suggested by thinkers like J. S. Mill, which is the model of freedom I embrace. (If you aren't familiar with Mill, you should read On Liberty.)

I maintain several blogs and websites, each with a slightly different focus. I do this because I learned long ago to perform audience analysis and tailor my content to a niche. The blogs and websites I maintain, with my wife's assistance, include:
  • Tameri Guide for Writers (and its WordPress Blog): A website and blog dedicated to creative writing for the mass market. We make no pretensions of serving literary fiction or academic authors. My wife and I both contribute blog postings. [Twitter: PoetCSW]
  • The Existential Primer: A history of existentialism, particularly as the philosophical movement affected literature and the arts. The primer is not comprehensive; by definition, it is only an introduction to a sliver of Continental thought. 
  • Poet Ponders Digital Pedagogy: A Blogger site exploring how technology affects teaching, with a focus on writing instruction. The discussions address how particular software and hardware products contribute to writing instruction. [Twitter: PoetCSW]  
  • Rogue Rhetorician: A Blogger site featuring discussions of rhetoric and public policy discourse from an academic perspective. It is natural that those seeking media coverage will be critiqued, regardless of their political affiliations. [Twitter: RogueRhet]
  • Almost Classical: A Blogger site dedicated to economics, generally from the perspective of "Classical Liberalism" and influenced by the Austrian School. Admittedly not a theoretical purist, having owned and operated businesses in the "real world" that often defies academic theories. [Twitter: AlmostClassical]
My degrees are from the University of Minnesota (Ph.D), California State University Fresno (M.A.), University of Southern California (B.A), and Chatham University (MFA in progress). 
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