Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Politicians Pursue Power, Not Truth or Understanding

Comment by economist Don Boudreaux:

Arnold Kling points out that Jim Webb's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal lacks any real suggestions for how to solve the problem that Webb allegedly believes now haunts America. If this lack of specifics means a lack of action by government, I'd be pleased. But I suspect that there are lots of harmful interventions on the horizon. Greg Mankiw quite wisely notes that many of the favored policies now promoted by the American left -- raising the minimum-wage, protectionism, labor cartelization, and Wal-Mart bashing -- are poor policy tools to address the problems the left frets over. Here's a letter that I sent today to the Wall Street Journal in response to Webb's huffing and puffing:

Jim Webb's fear-mongering essay about income inequality obviously is meant to justify higher taxes on "the rich," boondoggle programs for "working Americans," and protectionism for special-interest groups posing as victims of nefarious foreign merchants ("American Workers Have a Chance to Be Heard," Nov. 15). And like all such efforts, Webb's is a series of illogical arguments and half-truths.

For example, he says that "manufacturing jobs are disappearing." True. Contrary to his suggestion, though, this fact is unrelated to recent trends in globalization, corporate governance, or tax policy. Manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the U.S. work force peaked in 1945 and have declined steadily ever since - even though manufacturing output continues to rise. Today this output is at an all-time high.

I understand that politicians pursue power rather than truth. Still, it's galling to read such concentrated deceitfulness.




A nice summary of Leftist hate from a Leftist: "What Democrats need to do is spend the next two years crushing their opponents like bugs."

Colonialism was beneficial: "James Feyrer and Bruce Sacerdote, both of Dartmouth College, consider the effect of a particular aspect of history-the length of European colonization-on the current standard of living of a group of 80 tiny, isolated islands that have not previously been used in cross-country comparisons. Their question: Are the islands that experienced European colonization for a longer period of time richer today? ... Feyrer and Sacedote's key findings are that the longer one of the islands spent as a colony, the higher its present-day living standards and the lower its infant mortality rate. Each additional century of European colonization is associated with a 40 percent boost in income today and a reduction in infant mortality of 2.6 deaths per 1,000 births."

Strange silence about the voting-machine "conspiracy": "Like claims the U.S. was responsible for 9/11 and Republicans were fixing gas prices, the media promoted the left-wing electronic vote-rigging conspiracy. Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening. The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris' book, "Black Box Voting," was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC. Following Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) defeat in 2004, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann ignored statements by the candidate's own Ohio attorney about the lack of evidence of "confirmed fraud." Instead, Olbermann ranted for days about fraud causing the Kerry defeat during his show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."

Globalization fosters peace: "Critics of globalization forget that free trade fosters prosperity and know almost nothing about its most important benefit-its tendency to prevent war. Quantitative studies have shown that trade fosters peace both directly, by reducing the risk of military conflict, and indirectly, by promoting prosperity and democracy."

Democrat myths about the army: "Rep. Charlie Rangel wants to reimpose the draft, partly "as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably," according to the Wash Post. Do you think he means that the poorest Americans should start pulling their weight? This report from the Heritage Foundation recently crossed my desk: Our review of Pentagon enlistee data shows that the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005.

Death for scum: "A general has affirmed the death sentence for a US Army sergeant convicted of murdering two fellow soldiers in a grenade attack in Kuwait at the outset of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the army said today. Sergeant Hasan Akbar, 35, is the first US soldier to face the death penalty for killing another soldier since the end of the Vietnam War. Lieutenant General John Vines, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, acted on Friday to affirm the death sentence against Akbar, which was handed down on April 28, 2005, after the unanimous vote of a military court, the army said. "The case now goes to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals under an automatic appeal," it said. Akbar rolled grenades into three tents at Camp Pennsylvania in the northern Kuwait desert on March 22, 2003 as soldiers slept. The attack, on the night before the unit was to have crossed into Iraq, killed Captain Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Major Gregory Stone, 40, and wounded 14 other soldiers. Defence attorneys argued that Akbar, a Muslim convert, was mentally ill at the time of the attack."

Muslim Britain: "Rival groups of Muslim inmates have created a potentially explosive situation over the interpretation of the Koran in Britain's biggest jail, prison watchdogs said yesterday. Deep divisions among Muslims in Wandsworth jail developed after the appointment of an imam with particular views of the Koran's teachings. Some Muslim inmates at the jail in southwest London are also pressurising fellow Muslim prisoners to adopt more militant beliefs and lifestyle. The disclosures will fuel fears that attempts are being made to radicalise young Muslims held in jails in England and Wales."



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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