Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fascist Russia

Obamaphiles aren't the only statists who long for mandatory absorption into a scary collectivist herd. Yesterday was Russia's Day of People's Unity. While the Ditherer in Chief loses the war in Afghanistan and maneuvers our economy toward eventual collapse with unsustainable spending, this is what's going on in Russia, which has the firepower to blow up most of the solar system:

It's a scary world out there. Too bad our government is more interested in "fundamentally transforming" America than defending it.



The Israeli difference

People forget how small Israel is. Its entire population is a little over 7 million - smaller than Lima, Peru. Its land area is about 8,000 square miles, smaller than New Jersey or Belize. By comparison, Jordan, its neighbor to the east, occupies 35,000 square miles; Egypt, its neighbor to the West, covers 386,000 square miles....

Defenders of Israel argue that it is despised for different reasons, not least because it is an outpost of Western values in a region, the broader Middle East, engaged in a long-term project of religious and ethnic cleansing. One country after another has become inhospitable toward its minorities. As a result, Jews, Christians, Baha'i's and Zoroastrians are among the minority groups that have been eliminated, decimated or compelled to flee to more tolerant corners of the world.

There also is the fact that, economically, Israel punches way above its weight. As Dan Senor and Saul Singer describe and document in a fascinating new book, "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," the "greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today" is found in the Jewish state: a higher percentage of GDP devoted to research and development than anywhere else in the world; more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other country; 80 times as much venture capital investment per capita as in China; more companies on NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.

What's more, Senor and Singer believe the conventional and sometimes stereotypical explanations for this success - e.g. Jews work hard, Jews are smart - are either wrong or insufficient.

An overlooked and key contributing factor, they theorize, is that virtually all Israelis serve in the military where a specific set of skills and values are pounded into them. They learn for example, "that you must complete your mission, but that the only way to do that is as a team. The battle cry is ‘After me': there is no leadership without personal example and without inspiring your team to charge together and with you. There is no leaving anyone behind. You have minimal guidance from the top and are expected to improvise..." The Israeli military encourages a kind of entrepreneurship: the assumption of both responsibility and risk at a young age, coupled with on-the-job experience making life-and-death decisions.

European troops, by contrast, rarely venture onto battlefields and, when they do, as in Afghanistan, too often are instructed to serve as peacekeepers -- where there is no peace to keep. What does that teach?

In recent years, American military men and women have been facing - and overcoming - daunting challenges. Senor and Singer suggest that upon return to civilian life they should not "de-emphasize their military experience when applying for jobs," and that employers should recognize the skills and habits that young Americans are now acquiring while fighting for their country and to ensure that freedom has a future...



The “Stimulus” Stopped the Recession? Not So Fast!

I don’t intend for this column to be a weekly response to Paul Krugman, but there are times he writes such outrageous things that I won’t be silent. The New York Times column of November 2 is one of them. Krugman declares that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”) has “worked,” but still is “not enough.” Its supposedly curative economic powers are described as such:
…not that long ago the U.S. economy was in free fall. Without the recovery act, the free fall would probably have continued, as unemployed workers slashed their spending, cash-strapped state and local governments engaged in mass layoffs, and more.

The stimulus didn’t completely eliminate these effects, but it was enough to break the vicious circle of economic decline. Aid to the unemployed and help for state and local governments were probably the most important factors. If you want to see the recovery act in action, visit a classroom: your local school probably would have had to fire a lot of teachers if the stimulus hadn’t been enacted.

Unfortunately, there is more from where that came: “The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the Obama stimulus plan, is working just about the way textbook macroeconomics said it would.”

Unfortunately, according to this star of Princeton University’s all-star faculty, the near-trillion dollars of this program, which came entirely from borrowing and printing money, must have a sequel — or the U.S. economy will have high unemployment for years to come. The only thing that can “save” us is another round of borrowing and printing.
The effects of the stimulus will build over time — it’s still likely to create or save a total of around three million jobs — but its peak impact on the growth of G.D.P. (as opposed to its level) is already behind us. Solid growth will continue only if private spending takes up the baton as the effect of the stimulus fades. And so far there’s no sign that this is happening. So the government needs to do much more.

Stuff like this demonstrates just how much the Times editorial page has fallen since the days when Henry Hazlitt was penning editorials for the Gray Lady. So where do we begin? We begin by explaining something about a real economy, not a creation of the Keynesian textbooks.

An economy is not a “blob” into which people pour money, the Keynesian view. It is an intricate combination of factors of production which individuals harness to meet the real needs of real people. It is a process constrained by the law of scarcity, which means that the workings of an economy – if individuals are permitted the freedom necessary to make it work – are going to be directed toward individual needs.

Factors used for one purpose cannot simultaneously be used for something else, and it matters that these scarce factors be directed properly. Unfortunately, the dominant thinking among professional and academic economists is that the economy is an empty tank into which one pours the fuel of money and magically it “creates jobs” and goods. This is as nonsensical as Aaron’s explanation to Moses that the Golden Calf simply rose out of a fire after he threw a bunch of gold jewelry into it.

The “stimulus” has not “saved” anything. It has been a huge misdirection of resources from things that would meet real-live individual needs to those things that meet the “needs” of politicians to be reelected. As I noted in an earlier column, where I live almost half a million dollars was spent rolling sod onto a narrow median strip on I-68 near my home, an unnecessary and wasteful project if ever one existed.

Our economy is moribund because for many years the government and the Federal Reserve misdirected resources into lines of production that never could be sustained. While the boom lasted, things seemed to be great, but it now is time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, the politicians and intellectuals seem to believe that the “solution” is even more wasteful spending.




Democrats in denial: "Neither Barack Obama nor Nancy Pelosi can be as clueless as they want us to think they are. The White House said the president was so uninterested in the results on election night that he watched a documentary on the '08 presidential campaign, no doubt eager to see who won. Mzz Pelosi, as oblivious of the scoreboard as a ditzy cheerleader unaware of which team has the ball, insists her side won the night. Mr. Obama continues to campaign for the job the rest of us thought we gave him a year ago. The day after the Republicans sent wake-up calls from Virginia and New Jersey, he was back on the stump, working up a sweat -- or at least a gentlemanly perspiration -- and breathing hard against George W. Bush.... But like it or not, Mr. Obama is the president now, and the opportunities and failures at the White House are his. George W. is back home in Texas, where he no longer frightens women and horses. We've still got record deficits, two wars and now our allies don't know what to believe. Someone should break the news, gently, to the president that the election is over and he won."

Obama’s Pet-Goat Moment: "We still don’t know what was behind the killings at Ft. Hood this afternoon, in which 11 soldiers and the killer died, but President Obama’s rushed press conference was surprising in its flippancy nonetheless. Before he got to the issue on everyone’s mind — namely the deaths of Americans in uniform — the president gave a “shout-out” to government bureaucrats gathered for a previously scheduled conference at the Interior Department, complete with appreciative chuckles. He treated the event like a pep rally rather than a tragic occasion with a wider audience than those gathered in the room. I wonder how many media outlets will compare Obama’s performance to President Bush’s “Pet Goat” moment on 9/11. I won’t hold my breath." [The latest info is that the murderer was a Muslim with open Jihadi sympathies. Why nothing was done about that is the question. More here and here]

Celebrating limits: "The single biggest myth in American politics is that advocacy of limited government is a fringe position. The way to attract ‘moderates’ and ‘independents,’ we are told, is for conservatives to adopt some sort of stratagem that involves using government actively but wisely and efficiently, for the right ends, in order to attract the target audience du jour: suburbanites, exurbanites, Bobos, soccer moms, Hispanics, metrosexuals, or any number of other strata of supposedly poll-tested exotica. Balderdash. As Tuesday’s elections showed, support for limited government remains a mainstream position.”

EU’s Deafening Silence Over Russian Threat to Poland: "EU elites have been lining up in euphoric droves to celebrate the passage of the Lisbon Treaty. Having fudged, connived, bullied and browbeaten the final hold-outs, the creation of an EU super-state will now take its greatest leap forward. Contrast the throngs of headlines over Lisbon’s passage with the EU’s response to Russia’s simulation of a nuclear attack on Poland. A Polish newspaper recently revealed that Moscow simulated a war game in which Russian armed forces invaded Poland and nuclear missiles were fired. Eerily similar to the propaganda methods adopted by Moscow during the Russia-Georgia war, Poland was labeled an aggressor country. Speaking in Washington this week, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski drew attention to Russia’s gamed deployment of 900 tanks during this exercise. Brussels’ silence has been deafening; not a word of condemnation has escaped the lips of the elites who have manically pursued the suprantionalization of foreign policy within the EU. With wanton appeasement, Brussels has made it clear that it has no intentions of coming to Poland’s defense over this massive provocation. Polish MP Karol Karski has formally protested to the European Commission over this matter."

KY: Census worker hanging may have been suicide: "Investigators probing the death of a Kentucky census worker found hanging from a tree with the word ‘fed’ scrawled on his chest increasingly doubt he was killed because of his government job and are pursuing the possibility he committed suicide, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. … In recent weeks, investigators have grown more skeptical that 51-year-old Bill Sparkman died at the hands of someone angry at the federal government. The officials said investigators continue to look closely at suicide as a possible cause of Sparkman’s death for a number of reasons. There were no defensive wounds on Sparkman’s body, and while his hands were bound with duct-tape, they were still somewhat mobile, suggesting he could have manipulated the rope, the officials said.”

The double standard about journalists’ bias: "I made The New York Times last week. It even ran my picture. My mother would be proud. Unfortunately, the story was critical. It said, ‘Critics have leaped on Mr. Stossel’s speaking engagements as the latest evidence of conservative bias on the part of Fox.’ Which ‘critics’ had ‘leaped?’ The reporter mentioned Rachel Maddow. I wouldn’t think her criticism newsworthy, but Times reporters may use MSNBC as their guide to life. He also quoted an ‘associate professor of journalism’ who said my speeches were ”pretty shameful’ by traditional journalistic standards.’ All this because I spoke at an event for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a ‘conservative advocacy group.”

Agreeing with Jesus’ general on sex offenders: "It is heartening to see a growing backlash against the hysterical and destructive sex-offender laws that do nothing to protect victims. Indeed, the laws themselves victimize innocent people, who are often children, while placing violent sex-offenders in circumstances that maximize chances of their re-offending. Current sex-offender laws are written to promote careers in politics, academia and law enforcement. The cry of the ambitious, the experts, and the well-paid enforcers is always for more laws! Stiffer sentences! No tolerance … even toward children whose lives are ruined by being placed on registries for crimes like sexting their own photos or mooning a school bus.”

Remember remember the 9th of November (the fall of the Berlin Wall): "It is precisely now, when the public mood is so bitter towards bankers, so hostile to profit, so seemingly brassed off with the very idea of wealth creation that we should remember how ghastly, grim and unworkable was the alternative — state-controlled socialism. It was a moral disaster, a system that extolled equality but entrenched the privileges of an unelected elite who luxuriated in their dachas and their Zil limos, roaring down their reserved lanes and splashing the people with contemptuous sludge. It was a cultural and artistic wasteland, a regime that promoted the kitsch and camp of socialist realism and whose only literary legacy is the handful of books by authors brave enough to denounce the regime. It was a complete and utter environmental catastrophe, as anyone who travelled behind the Iron Curtain will remember.”

Time to reform the British Parliament — or blow it up?: "If Guy Fawkes came back today and blew up Parliament, would we notice any difference? In a new briefing published today, ASI fellows Tim Ambler and Keith Boyfield say they’re not so sure. The EU writes our most important laws, and ministers are more accountable to the media than to MPs. New regulations, like those giving councils the power to search our homes and freeze our bank accounts, are never even debated. MPs vote as the party whips tell them, not as their constituents want. No wonder 80% of Brits think that Parliament has lost the plot.”

British taxpayers give £20m benefits to Polish children - even if they have never stepped foot in Britain: "Taxpayers are funding child benefit for more than 50,000 children of migrant workers - even though the youngsters still live in their home countries. Treasury figures show that Poles make up the vast majority of the payments made under a loophole in EU legislation. Benefits are paid to 37,941 children in the former Eastern Bloc country, who have one or both parents working in the UK. The cost is estimated at more than £24million a year. The number of Polish children being subsidised by British taxpayers has jumped by 6,542 in two years despite a slowdown in immigration because of the recession. Under 'social responsibility coordinating regulations' drawn up in Brussels, EU migrant workers who pay taxes in their host country are able to claim benefits and tax credits as soon as they start work, even if they have left their families behind. British handouts are much higher than many other countries' payments - particularly in Eastern Europe. Migrants living and working in the UK claim the benefit in their home country, but if that works out to be less than the UK allowance, the Treasury tops up the difference. Where a family is ineligible for child benefit in their homeland - possibly because they earn too much - they can claim the full UK rate of £20 a week for the first child and £13.20 for others. In Poland, the equivalent of child benefit amounts to between £3 and £5 a week."


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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)


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