Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Egypt may be worse without Mubarak

Sayyid Qutb. Remember that name. You'll hear it often in coming months and years. Indeed, he may end up being the most influential person of the 21st century. He's been dead 46 years. But Karl Marx was the person who most influenced the 20th century he did not live to see.

Qutb's influence is more menacing than Marx. The radicals of the Muslim Brotherhood that are these days inspired by his manifesto, In The Shade of The Koran, will be central to the riots and violent chaos in Cairo.

It has always been the ultimate aim of the likes of Qutb and the Koran-quoting assassins he inspires to die advancing the cause of Islam. It goes without saying that an Egypt led by Islamic theocrats would attack Israel, unleashing god knows what.

The world understands Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak corruptly keeps government and that some of his people are illegally repressed. But that draconian rule has kept Egypt stable and its Islamic core under control. After losing wars with Israel, it decided to join the modern world in accepting that country's right to exist, even if Egyptian Muslims still see it as an enemy.

Under Mubarak, Egypt has helped keep the peace first won by his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and Israel's Menachem Begin in 1979. For daring to barter peace with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Sadat in 1981. Mubarak that day bravely took on the leadership, and pledged to recognise all treaties with Israel, and they have been trying to kill him ever since.

While these days some are inclined to smile at some of the absurdities uttered by Qutb -- he once wrote that jazz was "music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy" -- his influence is on enemies of ours who mean business. Al-Qaida for one.

Qutb was hanged with Brotherhood mates who'd been planning to assassinate Egyptian leaders. That's the good news. The bad is he is a hero to people who plan to hurt us.



What saving the nation will cost


National debt is over $14 trillion, the federal budget deficit is $1.4 trillion and, depending on whose estimates are used, the unfunded liability or indebtedness of the federal government (mostly in the form of obligations for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs) is estimated to be between $60 and $100 trillion.

Those entitlements along with others account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls mandatory or nondiscretionary spending. Then there's discretionary spending, half of which is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percent of the federal budget.

The spending path that Congress has chosen for the past half-century is unsustainable and will end up with economic collapse but little or nothing can be done about it unless I'm grossly wrong about the American people. Americans who detest our country and those who love our country are hell-bent, wittingly or unwittingly, on destroying it.

You say, "Williams, that's not only insulting but shows little trust as well. Explain yourself!"

For the past 30 years, federal tax revenue has averaged 18 percent of the GDP. Federal spending, nearing 30 percent of our GDP, is the problem. To get our economic house in order, there must be large spending cuts, not only in so-called discretionary spending but in nondiscretionary spending as well.

To put this in perspective: Defense spending is called discretionary and totals $685 billion. Our deficit is $1.4 trillion. Defense spending could be eliminated, and we'd still have a huge deficit. Any congressman unwilling to make cuts in entitlement spending is not to be taken seriously about sparing our nation from economic collapse.

Millions of Americans don't want their entitlement touched, many of whom are senior citizens. Seniors will tell you that they were forced into Social Security and Medicare, and any congressman talking about cutting those and other entitlements will face their wrath at the ballot box.

By the way, according to one study, "Until recent years, Social Security recipients received more, often far more, than the value of the Social Security taxes they paid. For workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980 at age 65, it took 2.8 years to recover the value of the retirement portion of the combined employee and employer shares of their Social Security taxes plus interest."

Seniors are not the only group who can put the fear of God into politicians. There are massive corporate handouts via programs like the Export-Import Bank, Agriculture Department business and farm subsidies, and the Small Business Administration. There's massive Department of Education spending on K-12 education and higher education. The list of federal programs, described as taking the earnings of one American and giving them to another, numbers in the thousands.

Everyone who receives government largesse and special favors deems his needs as vital, deserving, proper and in the national interest. It is entirely unreasonable to expect a politician to honor and obey our Constitution and, in the process, commit political suicide.

What's even worse for our nation is that voters ousting a politician who'd refuse to bring, say, aid to higher education back to his constituents is perfectly rational. If, for example, he's a Virginia politician and doesn't bring grants back to his constituents, it doesn't mean Virginian taxpayers will pay a lower income tax. All that it means is that Marylanders will get the money, instead. Once legalized theft begins, it pays for everyone to participate. Those who don't will be losers.

That's the nation's dilemma. The most important job for people who want to spare our nation from economic collapse is not that of persuading politicians to do the right thing but to convince our fellow Americans to respect the limits of our Constitution. In his speech to Virginia's ratifying convention, James Madison said, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it."



State of the police state: Everything’s illegal

Libertarians understand that America isn’t "becoming" a police state because America is already a police state. Those still holding onto the fantasy that American is the "Land of the Free" should consider these few examples among thousands.

Prohibited paper-presenting

Beloved rights activist Julian Heicklen refused to attend his court appearance on Monday but reported Wednesday that a Tyranny Fighter was there. She related that (a) the Assistant US Attorney charged Heicklen with "distributing literature without a permit," a violation of a Homeland Security regulation, and (b) the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Think about that. When did it become a requirement to get some bureaucrat's permission to distribute Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlets to people who voluntarily accept them while both are standing on public property?

Then think about this. The DHS makes a rule criminalizing the act of one person giving another person a piece of paper with words on it and the American legal system has no qualms about enforcing this mere rule as though it takes precedence over the Bill of Rights. That’s a police state.

Watching cops? Watch out!

Two young men were abused by cops for taping cops. In Tarpon Springs FL William Kilgore taped officers arresting a drug suspect. When a cop demanded he turn over the tape Kilgore refused.

As the cop was arresting Kilgore and confiscating his camera Kilgore's friend, Tommy Frane, began recording the arrest with his cell phone. So the cop stole Frane's phone as well. Neither had been interfering with the police. That’s a police state.

Valley of Veggies

Dekalb County GA sued a farmer for growing too many vegetables on his own land. He faces nearly $5,000 in fines. Even after the county changed the zoning law (magnanimously granting him bureaucratic "permission") they're still demanding the $5,000.
The farmer never harmed, threatened, or defrauded anyone. That's a police state.

Yet, for reasons entirely beyond the comprehension of freedom-loving libertarians, Americans who call themselves "patriots" continue to praise, defend, excuse, justify, and rationalize the nation's cops, bureaucrats and politicians, and eagerly support the freedom-killing abomination known as the Patriot Act, which Congress is likely to extend rather than repeal on February 28. That's a brainless state.



The American Nomenklatura: What the Tea Partiers are up against

(The "Nomenklatura" was the name for the privileged class in the old Soviet union)

This week, as President Obama has been busy consolidating his alleged pivot to the center, I've been reading Joshua Berman of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. His 2008 book Created Equal contrasts the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Torah, with the legal order that predominated in the rest of the Near East at the time.

Berman writes:

"The new order articulated in [the Pentateuch] stands in contrast to a primary socioeconomic structure prevalent . throughout . the ancient Near East: the divide between the dominant tribute-imposing class and the dominated tribute-bearing class. These two groups, the exploiters and the exploited, are opposite sides of the same coin. The dominant tribute-imposing class consists, in short, of the political elite.This class includes not only the nobility but all who benefited by association with it: administrators, military and religious retainers, merchants, and landowners who directly or indirectly benefited from state power. What all of these have in common is that they all participated in the extraction of produce, or surplus, from the dominated tribute-bearing class: agrarian and pastoral producers, slaves, unskilled workers . Their production was drawn as surplus in the form of taxation, slave labor, rent, or debt service."

Reading about dominant tribute-imposing tribes and their exploitation of dominated tribute-bearing classes by means of debt, tax and mandated labor, seemed strangely similar to modern times. It seems that Washington is not as far removed from Ur, Nineveh, Cairo or Babylon as we would hope. It seems also that our emerging system of central control is not what its advocates claim: It is not new; it is ancient. It is not post-modern; it is pre-Torah.

I was a guest on National Public Radio earlier this week, where I debated a left-of-center law school professor. The host asked me whether President Obama could deal with the tension between his agenda of higher government spending and targeted development and the business interests of new advisors with business backgrounds such as former JPMorgan exec Bill Daley, and current General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. "What tension?" I asked. Why in the world would a past TARP recipient and future green energy recipient like GE object in the slightest to Obama's vision of a world of targeted government "investments" in what he believes to be the industries of the future?

The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.

What is the difference between crony capitalism and socialism? Not much. Both systems are based on a lack of appreciation of individual liberty. Both systems depend on elaborate centralized bureaucracies. In both systems, large proportions of people work for the government. Does it really make that much difference whether the government money is reported as W-2 income as opposed to 1099 income? Don't the favored people become rich under socialism?

Recently I read We, the Living, which is the closest thing to an autobiography that Ayn Rand ever wrote. It gives a portrait of her life as a young woman in the early stages of the Russian revolution. What she describes is a world dominated for a brief period by idealistic revolutionaries, for whom it is clear Rand holds some degree of admiration, but before long she sees the same faces running things. The men who manipulated power under the controlled economy of the Czar ended up doing the same thing under the Reds. Like Pasternak's Komarovksy in Doctor Zhivago, the most ambitious rise to the top. Not the most intelligent or the most creative, but the most ruthless. This is the nature of all centralized regimes.

Now the U.S. is not Russia, and the differences are more than I can count. There is a respect for human life that is far greater here, and Americans are far more acclimated to personal liberty. Our public sector is much smaller, proportionately, than theirs. Our balance of tribute imposers and tribute bearers is better. But in those portions of our society that are dominated by government, portions that are growing, the dynamic is fundamentally the same. They are both palace cultures, and the Law of Palace Cultures is this: Power is directly proportionate to proximity to the throne.

Does anyone seriously believe that Bill Daley, son of the founder of Chicago's great political machine, is something other than a crony capitalist? That he became president of a Baby Bell phone company, created by government fiat, protected by state public utility regulators because of his knowledge of telecommunications technology and not because of his association with power? Does anyone believe that when JPMorgan purchased a regional Chicago bank, which required both federal and especially state regulatory approval, that Daley's political credentials were irrelevant?

The Daleys of the world, the Rubins of the world, the Rahm Emmanuels of the world who rotate out of commerce secretary, treasury secretary, White House chief of staff positions and into positions at the top of investment banks, government-regulated utility monopolies and various GSEs are our nomenklatura. They are the members of our permanent ruling class. They are tribute imposers. The fact that they wrap themselves in the rhetoric of street-level populism just means that they are poseurs in addition to being imposers.

Are the Republicans, like Immelt, just as bad? No, but they are almost just as bad. And almost just as bad is not nearly good enough.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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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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