Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A small anecdote and some reflections on race and culture
I originally wrote this post for my personal blog but it seemed to fit here too
A few days ago I went in to a private hospital to get my hearing tested and a hearing-aid prescribed. I've already got one plastic eye lens so a computerized ear comes next! That's aging for you.
Greenslopes private hospital does however have one of those murderous automated car-parks. You have to deal with a machine to get in and out. And it is not easy. I got so frazzled trying to get the machine to let me out that I left all the documentation from the audiologist on top of the machine concerned and ended up driving home without it.
It was only when I got home that I realized that I did not have my receipt etc. So what did I do? One thing I was NOT going to do was negotiate that accursed car-park machine again. So I just thought to myself that some kind person would find my documentation and take it to the audiologists -- who would return it to me. And that is exactly what happened. I received it in the mail today.
Now isn't that nice to live in a largeish city and still get treated with village courtesy? But it is no coincidence. I find that my fellow Anglo/European-Australians are generally like that: Good kind people.
And that largely happens because the Australian population is still overwhelmingly white. You would have to go to Eastern Europe to find a whiter country. The most recent figures I can find show that Australians are 70% Anglo-Celtic, 18% European and 5% East Asian, with most of the latter being Han Chinese racially. The balance are mainly Indians Pakistanis and Arabs, with Africans less than 1%.
Now it does of course sound racially bigoted to attribute Australia's friendly civility to race but it is in fact mainstream sociology. Robert Putnam in particular is known for his studies of racial homogeneity. Sociologists are almost universally Left-leaning and Putnam is too -- but he was man enough to publish his findings (after some hesitation) even though they did not suit him ideologically.
What he found was that people who live in racially mixed neighbourhoods (he is American so that means neighbourhoods with a lot of blacks or Hispanics in addition to whites) were much more likely to keep to themselves. They stayed home at night a lot more, for instance. Racial admixture killed community feeling, to put it bluntly.
Fortunately Australia has largely escaped that. Until recently our population had ancestry that was almost exclusively from Europe or the British Isles. And regardless of whether your origins were Lithuanian, Irish, Italian, German or English, we all saw one another as simply Australian. Ancestry made no difference in most cases.
In more recent years, however, Australia HAS acquired one largeish "minority": East Asians, mostly Han Chinese -- now about 5% of our population. But the Han are admirable people. They are in general quiet, peaceful, patient, intelligent, hard-working people who strive to get on well with everybody. So they fit in very well and do nothing to cause anyone to stay home at night. So even though they have disrupted Australia's racial homogeneity, they have, if anything, enhanced its social harmony.
So it was no accident that some kind person returned my papers. It is what happens in a society where people are in general kind to one another because they can identify with one another and sympathize with one another.
But all silver linings have a dark cloud and Australia has recently acquired one of those too. Australia has in recent years accepted a considerable number of African "refugees" and they already figure prominently in crime . Sad that they may destroy the remarkable and valuable harmony that Australia still has.
Mind you, Australia's native blacks -- Aborigines -- are not bad people. They often live in appalling squalor but they mostly keep to themselves and are undoubtedly one of the most polite populations on earth. They also have an excellent sense of humour and some perceptual abilities that are quite eerie at times. But alcohol is their great downfall. The lady in my life -- Anne -- knows them particularly well and has great affection for them -- something that I understand.
They are actually extraordinarily sociable people -- which is why it is so effective when they "sing" transgressors among them. The transgressor dies of grief.
Much to learn of human diversity. And shrieks of "racism" when it is discussed come only from fools or the ill-intentioned.
With my permission, David at Majority Rights has posted there an "amped-up" version of this post in which he says more about the social science involved.
A remarkable book (Free download)
A 19th century Orwell
This book is a remarkable discovery, as fresh today as when it was first translated in 1893. It is a novel of life under socialism by Eugene Richter, a German liberal of the 19th century.
Prophetic is not quite the word for this book. Richter saw with chilling clarity what would happen under socialistic control. The economy would be smashed. Families would be destroyed. The population would grow poorer by the day. The state would be unleashed to crush political dissent and lock everyone into a national prison. None of the ideals would be achieved.
The novel's narrative voice, however, is blinded by ideological loyalty to the cause. As he describes the calamity, he justifies it all in the name of progress, equality, and fairness to all. The reader, then, experiences the horrors of the events and then also the horrors of the intellectual twists and turns that some people will undertake to keep the disaster happening as long as possible.
To remember that this was written before any country actually experienced the total state is astonishing, page by page. The tone of the narrative is chillingly light and detached. Meanwhile, the events taking place make the blood run cold. The novel not only fulfills Mises's own predictions of life under socialism; it anticipates them long before any country embraced socialism as a system.
Why Obama and the Democrats hate gold
One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read.
Gold has long been a source of frustration for politicians who want to extend their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped their style because there is only so much money you can print when every dollar bill can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the equivalent amount of gold.
When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much gold the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt by just printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with dollars that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. In other words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily.
That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' style-- and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the gold standard in 1933.
But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of private individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to steal the value of their money by printing more money.
Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred dollar bill would buy less in 1998 than a $20 bill would buy in the 1960s. This means that anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80 percent of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from politicians who control the printing presses.
That is why some people buy gold when they lose confidence in the government's managing of its money. Usually that is when inflation is either under way or looming on the horizon. When many people start transferring their wealth from dollars into gold, that restricts the ability of politicians to steal from them through inflation.
Even though there is currently very little inflation, purchases of gold have nevertheless skyrocketed. Ordinarily, most gold is bought for producing jewelry or for various industrial purposes, more so than as an investment. But, at times within the past two years, most gold has been bought by investors.
What that suggests is that increasing numbers of people don't trust this administration's economic policies, especially their huge and growing deficits, which add up to a record-breaking national debt.
When a national debt reaches an unsustainable amount, there is always a temptation to pay it off with inflated dollars. There is the same temptation when the Social Security system starts paying out more money to baby boom retirees than it is taking in from current workers.
Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated questions than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama administration sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit what the government can do.
Indeed, freedom in general cramps the government's style. Those on the left may not be against freedom in general. But, at every turn, they find the freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States hampering the left's agenda of imposing their superior wisdom and virtue on the rest of us.
The desire to restrain or control the buying and selling of gold is just one of the many signs of the inherent conflict between the freedom of the individual and the left's attempts to control our lives.
Sneaking a provision on gold purchases and sales into massive legislation that is supposedly about medical care is just one of the many cynical tricks used to circumvent the public's right to know how they are being governed. The Constitution begins, "We the people" but, to the left, both the people and the Constitution are just things to circumvent in order to carry out their agenda.
American liberalism as a religion
For many non-leftist Democrats, it is emotionally impossible to vote Republican. I can illustrate this best with a personal example that I often use in speeches to Jewish audiences.
I was raised both as an Orthodox Jew and a liberal Democrat. In my early 20s, not wanting to practice religious laws solely out of habit or fear, I experimented with religious non-observance.
I remember well the one time this yeshiva graduate ate ham. It was emotionally difficult. I also well remember the first time this lifelong Democrat voted Republican. And it, too, was difficult. In fact, it was actually more emotionally difficult to vote Republican than to eat the ham.
Now, how could that be? How could it possibly have been more emotionally trying for a lifelong Democrat to vote Republican than for a lifelong observant Jew to eat ham? Isn't religion a far deeper conviction than politics?
The question implies the answer. Liberalism and leftism are religions. While I felt I would be sinning against God when I tasted ham, I was certain I was sinning against both God and man were I to vote Republican.
That is how liberals, not to mention leftists, think: It is a grievous sin to vote Republican (unless the Republican is a liberal). One is abandoning their faith, values, community and very identity.
But it is more than that. What keeps most non-leftists voting Democrat (and calling themselves liberal) has been the spectacularly effective saturation of virtually all media and all educational institutions with the message that the right is mean spirited and dangerous.
One of the first books I ever owned -- in high school -- was titled "Danger on the Right." Throughout the world, people are fed the message "Danger on the Right" -- and virtually never "Danger on the Left," despite the left's far bloodier and more totalitarian record.
The majority of people who vote Democratic do not have left-wing values. Only 20 percent of Americans even consider themselves liberal. But vast numbers of people with views that are not leftist have been effectively brainwashed (one cannot come up with a more accurate word) into fearing the right when the threats to their liberty, as well as to America's standing in the world, its exceptionalism and its economic future all emanate from the left.
That is why nearly all Democratic and leftist reactions to conservatives and Republicans are to avoid argument (remember, on the issues the left has few supporters) and smear them as SIXHIRB, my acronym for "Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Racist, Bigoted." It is almost impossible to come up with the name of a leading conservative whom the dominant media have not dismissed as one or more of SIXHIRB -- and usually as a buffoon as well.
This obviously serves the left and the Democratic Party in many ways. But the most important is to keep non-leftists in fear of anyone who opposes the left. In effect, the left says, and has been saying for a hundred years, "You may not agree with us, but our opponents are evil."
The Democratic appeal to black voters provides an excellent example. In nearly half a century, the left has done nothing for black America. Leftists have ruined the cities they govern and most of the public schools they control. But they have mastered one thing -- the ability to paint their opponents as racist opponents of blacks. So, blacks, many of whom have conservative values -- from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting school vouchers -- vote almost universally for the left.
The same holds true of most American Jews. Most live profoundly conservative lives but vote left. Why? Overwhelmingly because they believe there is "Danger on the Right." It doesn't matter how anti-Israel the left is and how pro-Israel the right is, or that liberal Time magazine has a mendacious cover story on "Why Israel Doesn't Care about Peace," while every major conservative periodical is passionately protective of Israel. For most Jews, voting Republican is a far greater sin, emotionally, morally and socially than eating ham.
That is why virtually every liberal columnist at The New York Times has described political opposition to Barack Obama as racist. The left cannot win on arguments. It must demonize its opponents. From Stalin calling Trotsky a Fascist to Frank Rich labeling the tea parties as mimicking the Nazis' Kristallnacht, this has been the favored leftist method of achieving power. And that is why it remains so hard for most Democrats to vote what they believe and vote Republican -- a lifetime of demonization has worked.
IDF kills two attempting to fire rockets at Israel: "Two Palestinian terrorists were killed in an IDF attack on the Gaza Strip on Monday night according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and Hamas-run television. In a joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) and IDF operation, an IDF drone located the two Palestinians preparing to fire rockets into Israel territory from a location in the central Gaza Strip.”
Sick economy: "If you create anything of value in the United States, you’ll be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The government will tax your business, and you, and the people you engage to work for you.”
Empty promises: "Let us suppose that Congress did something really silly. Say it passed a law promising everyone a free annual trip to visit the moon. Surely even the densest reporter would have the presence of mind to ask, ‘How are you going to get 300 million people to the moon and back?’ Yet Congress did something almost that silly last spring. It promised almost everyone in the country access to a whole slew of preventive services with no copay or deductible.”
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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 12:20 AM