Monday, August 29, 2011

The end of the 20th century welfare state – and the death of social democracy?

By Greg Lindsay, Executive Director of Australia's "Centre for Independent Studies" (A market-oriented thinktank)

Readers of my occasional posts on e-PréCIS over the years will detect a theme that recent events have only reinforced: the end of one of the most costly social experiments in the history of mankind – the 20th century welfare state – and the death of social democracy. The CIS has been warning about this for the last couple of decades. Looks like a crisis or two is the only way to bring people to their senses, although I’m not especially hopeful on that front either.

The unfolding crisis broadly seems to be in two parts: fiscal crises as exemplified by the unfolding sovereign and banking disasters in Europe and the United States, and the social riots in the United Kingdom – with some other issues tossed into the mix such as failing families and education. They are both two sides of the same coin. This crisis for modern liberal democracy in the West is a serious problem and we’d better get it right.

The inexorable growth in entitlement welfare and its imperialistic intrusion into all facets of daily life is not only unsustainable but enfeebling and enslaving. The idea that a strong market economy could sustain increased social spending forever was a neo-socialist’s dream. It’s now turned into a nightmare fuelled by continued borrowing and wishful thinking.

Like rabbits in the headlights, the so-called leaders in politics and officialdom have proved to be no less mortal and fallible than the rest of us. And yet, an article in today’s Australian Financial Review ran with the headline ‘Politicians told to fix political crisis’. Blinded and unable to move, they have mortgaged the futures of our children. This is a scandalous moral catastrophe and a cause for shame and humiliation, but contrition is not part of their thinking. It may well end badly, but hopefully not.

Much of what we at CIS have argued for provides some solid analysis of the issues and also some signposts as to where we should be heading. Australia is in a better position than almost every other country. Perhaps our leaders have been listening to us.

Received via email


Depraved but not deprived


Unlike many of my comrades in the punditry game, I don't do a lot of TV. But I'm currently promoting my latest doom-mongering bestseller so I'm spending more time than usual on the telly circuit. This week I was on the BBC's current-affairs flagship "Newsnight." My moment in the spotlight followed a report on the recent riots in English cities, in the course of which an undercover reporter interviewed various rioters from Manchester who'd had a grand old time setting their city ablaze and expressed no remorse over it. There then followed a studio discussion, along the usual lines. The host introduced a security guard who'd fought for Queen and country in Afghanistan and Bosnia and asked whether he sympathized with his neighbors. He did. When you live in an "impoverished society," he said, "people do what they have to do to survive."

When we right-wing madmen make our twice-a-decade appearance on mainstream TV, we're invariably struck by how narrow are the bounds of acceptable discourse in polite society. But in this instance I was even more impressed by how liberal pieties triumph even over the supposed advantages of the medium. Television, we're told, favors strong images – Nixon sweaty and unshaven, Kennedy groomed and glamorous, etc. But, in this instance, the security guard's analysis, shared by three-quarters of the panel, was entirely at odds with the visual evidence: There was no "impoverished society." The preceding film had shown a neat subdivision of pleasant red-brick maisonettes set in relatively landscaped grounds. There was grass, and it looked maintained. Granted, it was not as bucolic as my beloved New Hampshire, but, compared to the brutalized concrete bunkers in which the French and the Swedes entomb their seething Muslim populations, it was nothing to riot over. Nonetheless, someone explained that these riotous Mancunian youth were growing up in "deprivation," and the rioters themselves seemed disposed to agree. Like they say in "West Side Story," "I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived." We've so accepted the correlation that we don't even notice that they're no longer deprived, but they are significantly more depraved.



Greed, theft and envy are the hallmarks of socialism

The first virtue of socialism is greed. When most people hear the word “greed,” capitalism is the only economic system that comes to mind. There is no question, in the minds of many, that capitalism and greed are synonymous. However, one needs to step back and ask if greed applies to socialism as well. Greed, according to a dictionary, is the selfish desire for or pursuit of money, wealth, power, food, or other possessions, especially when this denies the same goods to others. So does this apply to socialism? Absolutely. The reason is this: those who want to “share the wealth” are themselves just as guilty as pursuing more money and wealth than they have earned. Though their pursuit of wealth is disguised by an agenda to make America socialist, if they get their wishes the government will automatically grant them wealth without effort. This is still greed, because they are driven by a desire for more money. In other words, you do not have to be rich to be greedy.

The second virtue of socialism is envy. Envy, according to a dictionary, is best defined as an emotion that occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it (Italics dictionary). This one goes hand in hand with greed, however, it seems more obvious than that. Wealth is a possession and if wealth is a possession, then envy applies to those who covet money. Socialism is about coveting money, namely the rich person’s money. Other things could also drive this coveting of wealth, like what one would do if they had more money. Of course, if they had more money they could live like the rich.

The third virtue is of socialism is theft. Theft occurs in socialism when the rich person’s money is forcibly taken from him by way of income taxation. First off, no one’s income should be taxed because everyone has a right to keep the money that they have earned. Taxation is legalized theft, but we do not all see it that way. To paraphrase what Ron Paul said in The Revolution: A Manifesto, if someone were to come in to our house and take our money with promises that they will do good with the money they are stealing from us, we would object to this behavior and notify the authorities. What are these taxes used for that are in the name of good intentions? Statist programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This all seems well and good, and not all of this money comes from the rich, but you get the point of the analogy. Another thing taxation is used for is war. Starve the government of taxation, and wars become much more difficult to fight without bankrupting the country.

The word that is paired with socialism, and perhaps its main principle, is fairness. It is only “fair” that the government makes sure that its people are taken are come by spreading the wealth, according to the socialist. But is it fair to steal from someone else? Is it fair to take the earnings of someone and give it to another person who did not earn it? Where is the motivation for the person to work hard or harder to maintain his standard of living? Where is the motivation of the person receiving the money to improve himself by becoming a hard worker?

Capitalism’s main virtue is one that many people need to understand, namely, that you have the right to keep what you earn. Also another principle of capitalism is that it is in my best interest to act in your best interest and your best interest to act in my best interest. This necessity allows for things like trade to occur. It also reminds us that the rich cannot oppress the poor, because if they do the poor will seek a way out and get find a way to get what they believe is in their best interest (usually better wages).

So when a socialist claims that he or she has a moral system and capitalism does not, there is no excuse for the capitalist not to argue against this point. If anything, socialism is a much more immoral system than capitalism could ever possibly be.



"Temple denial"

Temple Denial is the belief that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem. This claim, despite being counter to Islamic tradition, became internalized within Palestinian academic, religious, and political circles following the 1967 Six-Day War. Since the 2000 Camp David Summit, during which Yasir Arafat asserted that the Jewish Temple never existed in Jerusalem, “Temple Denial” has spread with increased virulence in an attempt to deny both Jewish authority and access to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

On the ninth day of the 2000 Camp David Summit, Yasir Arafat, then Palestinian National Authority President, told President Bill Clinton that “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but Nablus.”[1] Arafat’s remark, known as “Temple Denial,” shook the foundation of the negotiations, as the leading Palestinian figure denied the existence of Judaism’s holiest site. Temple Denial is historical revisionism that runs counter to classical Islamic tradition and archaeological evidence. Since the 1967 Six-Day War, after Muslim control over the Temple Mount was lost to Israel, the belief that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem has developed and become internalized within Palestinian academic, religious, and political circles. Since Camp David, Temple Denial has transformed into a virulent delegitimization campaign that attempts to deny both Jewish authority and access to the Temple Mount and Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem.

For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount originates in the biblical narrative, as it is said to be the location of the binding of Isaac.[2] The Talmud, Judaism’s supreme canonical text, says that the foundation stone on the Temple Mount is the location from which the world was created.[3] In Samuel II 24:18-25, King David bought the bedrock for the Temple from Araunah the Jebusite. Subsequently, Solomon, David’s son, used the bedrock to build the First Temple.[4] Solomon’s Temple was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 586 BCE.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple, many Jews were sent into exile. However, under the Persian King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to return and began to rebuild the Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE and expanded by King Herod in 19 BCE. In 70 CE, the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Titus, laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. Jews have maintained an unbreakable connection to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount since that time.

Classic Islamic literature also recognizes the existence of a Jewish Temple and its importance to Judaism. This makes Palestinian Temple Denial all the more puzzling.

In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the “Farthest Mosque” is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn,[8] a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, notes that the “Farthest Mosque” is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem.[9] In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term. In the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Omar al-Baydawi, who authored several prominent theological works in the 13th century, the masjid is referred to as the Bayt al-Maqdis because during Muhammad’s time no mosque existed in Jerusalem.[10] Koranic historian and commentator, Abu Jafar Muhammad al-Tabari, who chronicled the seventh century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, wrote that one day when Umar finished praying, he went to the place where “the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al-maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel.”[11] In addition, eleventh century historian Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Maqdisi and fourteenth century Iranian religious scholar Hamdallah al-Mustawfi acknowledged that the al-Aqsa Mosque was built on top of Solomon’s Temple.[12]

This is a small sample of the Islamic literature attesting to the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Innumerable other writings from other faiths attest to this fact, as well.

The modern phenomenon of Temple Denial began during the Palestine Mandate. During this period, the Temple Mount was under the authority of the Supreme Muslim Council, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husayni. The Supreme Muslim Council published yearly guide books to the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount). Drawing from those available, the 1924, 1925, 1929, and 1935 guide books all stated that the Haram al-Sharif’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”[13] The recognition of the Temple Mount’s importance to Jews in the guidebooks continued until 1950, two years after Israel’s establishment.[14] However, by 1954, the references to Solomon’s Temple disappeared. At some point between 1950 and 1954, the Muslim waqf (religious authority) that governed the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque inexplicably began to remove the references seen in earlier guide books.




The "fast unto death" still works in India: "A septuagenarian anticorruption activist ended a 13-day hunger strike Sunday with a glass of coconut water after India's Parliament bowed to his demands, agreeing to create a powerful, independent lokpal, or ombudsman, with authority to go after high-level corruption."

Israel: Seven wounded in Arab attack: "A Palestinian [Arab] attacker wounded seven Israelis near a Tel Aviv nightclub early Monday, hitting a police checkpoint with a stolen taxi and then stabbing others, police said. The attacker was a Palestinian in his twenties from the city of Nablus, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri."

Canada: Attack on author may be Islamist hate crime: "Halton police are treating an attack on a first-time author whose self-published book has been branded anti-Muslim as a possible hate crime. Raised Islamic, Paris Dipersico, 24, reported being dragged from his bicycle Aug. 17, tied up among trees, then beaten briefly unconscious by two Muslim men."

The state against the urban poor: "In the hands of those who know how to use it, the state is a weapon. Planning laws are a good example of its subtle use by powerful interest groups. They effectively control the supply of desirable property, so that the owners of those properties can earn monopolistic profits. As with the barrier-to-entry laws that protect established corporations, planning laws protect property owners."

Heavy hand: "It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that Washington’s intrusive, heavy-handed policies are not stifling economic growth across America, and particularly on Main Street. One might add that this is further evidence that liberty and prosperity (and their opposites) go hand in hand -- a point that Republican presidential candidates would do well to emphasize."

Doubling down in the drug war: "Why can’t the U.S. government ever learn lessons from any of its failed programs? The biggest lesson it fails to learn is the importance of ending programs that are obvious failures, especially ones that are inherently incapable of succeeding. Instead, in its usually bullheaded, headstrong fashion, the government maintains the program and, even worse, actually expands it."

More on Government Motors: "The suit, filed by one Donna Truska, argues that the Impalas -- made between 2007 and 2008 -- had defective rear spindle rods, leading to rapid tire wear. The plaintiff claims that GM has breached its warranty, and demands that GM fix the cars. But the new GM argues that since the cars were made by the Old GM, it is not liable for the repairs, and the 400,000 Impala owners should therefore go to hell."

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


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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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