Wednesday, July 15, 2009
A Personal Inequity
by Thomas Sowell
Sometimes, when I hear about "disparities" and "inequities," I think of a disparity that applied directly to me-- the disparity in basketball ability between myself and Michael Jordan. When I was in school, I was so awful in basketball that the class coach wouldn't even let me try out for softball, at which I was actually pretty good.
I was more than forty years old before I ever got the ball through the basket. It wasn't during a game. The basket was in my brother's backyard and I was just shooting-- unopposed-- from practically right under the basket. The only pressure on me was that my little nephew was watching. After making that one basket, I never took a basketball in my hands again. I retired at my peak.
Think about it: Michael Jordan made millions of dollars because of having a talent that was totally denied to me. Through no fault of my own, I had to spend years studying economics, in order to make a living. Economics is not nearly as much fun as basketball and doesn't pay nearly as much money either. We are talking inequity big time.
Most discussions of "disparities" and "inequities" are a prelude to coming up with some "solution" that the government can impose, winning politicians some votes in the process. How could the disparity between Michael Jordan and me be solved? We could change the rules of basketball, in order to try to equalize the outcomes. Michael Jordan could be required to make all his two-point shots from beyond the three-point line, with five players opposing him and no one on his side. A three-point shot could require him to stand under the basket on the opposite side of the court and shoot from there. Meanwhile, I could make two-point shots from a spot half the distance from the foul line to the basket, and of course without any other players on the court to distract me. Any shots I might make from back at the foul line would count as three-pointers.
Even under these conditions, you would be better off betting your money on Michael Jordan. But, conceivably at least, we might change the rules some more to make the results come out less lopsided, in order to create "social justice."
The problem with trying to equalize is that you can usually only equalize downward. If the government were to spend some of its stimulus money trying to raise my basketball ability level to that of Michael Jordan, it would be an even bigger waste of money than most of the other things that Washington does.
So the only way to try to equalize that has any chance at all would be to try to bring Michael Jordan down to my level, whether by drastic rule changes or by making him play with one hand tied behind his back, or whatever. The problem with this approach, as with many other attempts at equalization, is that it undermines the very activity involved. Basketball would be a much less interesting game if it was played under rules designed to produce equality of outcomes. Attendance would fall off to the point where neither Michael Jordan nor anyone else could make a living playing the game.
The same principle applies elsewhere. If you are going to try to equalize the chances of women getting jobs as firefighters, for example, then you are going to have to lower the physical requirements of height, weight and upper body strength. That means that you are going to have more firefighters who are not capable of carrying an unconscious person out of a burning building. If you are going to have these lower physical requirements be the same for both women and men, that means that you are not only going to have women who are not capable of carrying someone out of a burning building, you are also going to have men who are likewise incapable of carrying someone to safety.
Most activities do not exist for the sake of equality. They exist to serve their own purposes-- and those purposes are undermined, sometimes fatally, when equality becomes the goal. Nor would a politician encouraging me to feel resentful toward Michael Jordan do any good. If I had such resentments, they would do me more harm than they would do Michael Jordan. They would make me feel bad-- and could make me miss seeing some great basketball.
Using children as weapons
Frank Rich, in a stupid column for the New York Times, can't resist throwing an elbow at a politician's child: "The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage."
What a classless jerk. Other than having committed the unpardonable sin of being born Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol did nothing to warrant getting slammed in the pages of the New York Times. What's important is that the family respects life. And lives by those values. But he's too poisoned by libtardism and bitterness to see that. These ratf*cks have a pathological obsession with Palin vaginas.
The game is evident. The libtard media has driven Palin from office by targeting her daughters.... or think they have. They will stop at nothing to use Bristol Palin and her child to attempt to discredit Sarah and drive a wedge between her and Christian voters. It won't work, though. Christians don't condemn premarital sex nearly so much as they 1.) value the sanctity of life, and 2.) Hate the judgementalism and venom coming from people like Frank Rich.
The libtard media is nothing but a pack of rabid hounds. In another time and place, they would probably be Red Army soldiers lined up to gang-rape German girls. God, I hope she runs for President next time round. I can't say I'll vote for her over the other conservative nominees. I recognize her shortcomings as a candidate. But it might be worth voting for her just to give these bastards conniption fits.
Predators and Civilians
An intelligence report shows how effective drone attacks are
Several Taliban training camps in the Pakistan hinterland were hit last week by missiles fired from American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, reportedly killing some 20 terrorists. Remarkably, some people think these strikes are a bad idea.
To get a sense of what U.S. drone strikes have accomplished in the past two years, recall the political furor that followed a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that al Qaeda had "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland [i.e., U.S.] attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. . . . As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment." The media declared we were losing the war.
Less than a year later, then-CIA director Michael Hayden offered a far more upbeat assessment to the Washington Post.
What changed? At least part of the answer is that the U.S. went from carrying out only a handful of drone attacks in 2007 to more than 30 in 2008. According to U.S. intelligence, among the "high-value targets" killed in these new strikes were al Qaeda spokesman Abu Layth al-Libi, weapons expert Abu Sulayman al Jazairi, chemical and biological expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, commander and logistician Abu Wafa al-Saudi, al Qaeda "Emir" Abu al-Hasan al Rimi, and, in November, Rashid Rauf. Rauf, who had escaped from a Pakistan jail the previous year, was a coordinator of the summer 2007 plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic.
Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so. Then again, Lord Bingham, until recently Britain's senior law lord, has recently said UAV strikes may be "beyond the pale" and potentially on a par with cluster bombs and landmines. Australian counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen says "the Predator [drone] strikes have an entirely negative effect on Pakistani stability." He adds, "We should be cutting strikes back pretty substantially."
In both cases, the argument against drones rests on the belief that the attacks cause wide-scale casualties among noncombatants, thereby embittering local populations and losing hearts and minds. If you glean your information from wire reports -- which depend on stringers who are rarely eyewitnesses -- the argument seems almost plausible.
Yet anyone familiar with Predator technology knows how misleading those reports can be. Unlike fighter jets or cruise missiles, Predators can loiter over their targets for more than 20 hours, take photos in which men, women and children can be clearly distinguished (burqas can be visible from 20,000 feet) and deliver laser-guided munitions with low explosive yields. This minimizes the risks of the "collateral damage" that often comes from 500-pound bombs. Far from being "beyond the pale," drones have made war-fighting more humane.
A U.S. intelligence summary we've seen corrects the record of various media reports claiming high casualties from the Predator strikes. For example, on April 1 the BBC reported that "a missile fired by a suspected U.S. drone has killed at least 10 people in Pakistan." But the intelligence report says that half that number were killed, among them Abdullah Hamas al-Filistini, a top al Qaeda trainer, and that no women and children were present.
In each of the strikes in 2009 that are described by the intelligence summary, the report says no women or children were killed. Moreover, we know of planned drone attacks that were aborted when Predator cameras spied their presence. And an April 19 strike on a compound in South Waziristan did destroy a truck loaded with what the report estimates were more explosives than the truck that took out Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last September. That Islamabad attack killed 54 people and injured more than 260 others, mostly Pakistan civilians but also Americans.
Critics of the drone strikes ought to ask whether, based on this information, the April 19 strike was worth the bad publicity. We'd say yes. We'd also say that the Obama Administration -- which, to its credit, has stepped up the use of Predators -- should make public the kind of information we've seen. We understand there will always be issues concerning sources and methods. But critics of the drone attacks, especially Pakistani critics, have become increasingly vocal in their opposition. They deserve to know about the terrorist calamities they've been spared thanks to these unmanned flights over their territory.
We're delighted to see that Pakistan's military is finally taking the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda after ill-conceived truces that were a source of the country's recent instability. When Pakistan's government can exercise sovereignty over all its territory, there will be no need for Predator strikes. In the meantime, unmanned bombs away.
Promises, Promises. Sotomayor vows 'fidelity to the law': "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor vowed "fidelity to the law" and said she has not advocated for policy since becoming a judge 17 years ago, gently addressing critics on the first day of Senate hearings that produced no fireworks, and even the prospect of Republican support. Judge Sotomayor, whos been mainly silent since becoming first Hispanic nominated to the high court, used her brief opening statement to address Republican questions about her impartiality and charges that she would legislate from the bench. "In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law," Judge Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The task of a judge is not to make the law - it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents"
Obama’s empathy test: “In discharging their constitutional duty to provide advice and, if they deem appropriate, give consent to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Senators should examine the critical importance the president attaches to empathy as a judicial virtue and to Judge Sotomayor’s claim to be well-endowed with it. They will find that the president and the judge have exaggerated empathy’s significance, understated its ambiguities, and obscured fundamental judicial virtues.”
Gun rights leaders join in opposition to Sotomayor confirmation: “Several of the nation’s leading gun rights activists, including the heads of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Second Amendment Foundation, today joined to oppose the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘It is extremely important that a Supreme Court justice understand and appreciate the origin and meaning of the Second Amendment, a constitutional guarantee permanently enshrined in the Bill of Rights,’ said a letter from the group, which was hand-delivered to every member of the U.S. Senate.”
Obama is emulating Japan's huge policy failure in dealing with economic crisis: The scenario was eerily familiar. A long real estate bubble that had expanded extra rapidly for the previous five years suddenly burst, and asset prices came crashing back down to earth. Banks and financial institutions were left holding piles of worthless paper, and the economy soon headed south. The national government responded to the crisis by encouraging more lending and spending previously unfathomable amounts of money on public works projects in an effort to stimulate consumer spending and restart growth. But that stimulus did not save the Japanese economy in the 1990s; far from it. The ensuing period came to be known as the Lost Decade, characterized by multiple recessions, an annual average growth rate of less than 1 percent, and a two-decade decline in stock prices and corporate profits.
The average length of unemployment is higher than it's been since government began tracking the data in 1948: "The recent unemployment numbers have undermined confidence that we might be nearing the bottom of the recession. What we can see on the surface is disconcerting enough, but the inside numbers are just as bad. The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate for job losses for June is 467,000, which means 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. The cumulative job losses over the last six months have been greater than for any other half year period since World War II, including the military demobilization after the war. The job losses are also now equal to the net job gains over the previous nine years, making this the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous expansion".
The Obama Democrats pick income redistribution over job creation and economic growth: "Jason Furman owes an apology to Michael Boskin, the Stanford economist who wrote a year ago on these pages that Barack Obama would raise American income tax rates nearly to 60%. Mr. Furman, then in the Obama campaign and now at the White House, claimed this was wrong and that Democrats would merely raise taxes back to their Clinton-era level. House Democrats are now proving that Mr. Boskin had it right, and before it's over even he may have underestimated how high taxes will go. In the middle of a recession and with rising unemployment, Democrats have been letting it leak that they want to raise U.S. tax rates higher than they've been in nearly 30 years in order to finance government health care. Every detail isn't known, but late last week Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel disclosed that his draft bill would impose a "surtax" on individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $280,000 a year. This would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners"
Banking doesn’t need further regulation in US: “The decision to write or reject a loan should lie with the lender, who should carefully consider the qualifications of the borrower. Many smaller community banks have come through the credit and housing crises relatively unscathed due to their more conservative model when writing loans (’Bay State bankers wary of reform plan,’ July 8). Unfortunately, even these successful banks are coming under greater scrutiny from banking regulators. If banks were being fraudulent, then they can and should be prosecuted under existing laws.”
Obama showed "willful disregard of political oppression" by leftist dictators: "Obama has demanded that Honduras allow its anti-American would-be dictator, Mel Zelaya, to return to power, arguing that President Zelaya’s removal by the Honduras Supreme Court, with the backing of his country’s Congress and military, was “undemocratic” because the now-unpopular Zelaya was once elected. He has ignored the many legal and foreign-affairs commentators who have pointed out that Zelaya’s removal was a legal response to Zelaya’s flouting of the constitution, and not a “coup,”... But Obama has shown no interest at all in criticizing the human rights violations, violent repression, and anti-democratic behavior of Venezuela’s anti-American strongman, as even the liberal Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952, noted today in an editorial by Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl, “Double Standards on Latin America.” The Washington Post’s Diehl notes Obama’s “willful disregard of political oppression” by anti-American regimes in places like Venezuela, and the fact that his Administration “for months refused to publicly” criticize human-rights abuses in Venezuela."
Iran on the brink : “When an authoritarian regime approaches its final crisis, as a rule its dissolution follows two steps. Before its collapse, a mysterious rupture takes place. All of a sudden people know that the game is over, and then they are no longer afraid. It is not only that the regime loses its legitimacy, but that its own exercise of power is perceived as an impotent panic reaction. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice, but continues walking, unaware that there is no ground under its feet. It falls only when it looks down and notices the abyss. When a regime loses its authority, it is like a cat above the precipice: In order to fall, it only has to be reminded to look down.”
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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" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 12:37 AM