Thursday, September 15, 2011

Britain shows the way? 111,000 state jobs go in record losses as Government cuts public sector

I didn't think it was possible

A record number of public sector jobs were lost between March and June in the biggest cull of the State workforce since records began, official figures revealed yesterday. Some 111,000 state workers lost their jobs in that three-month period when the private sector workforce grew by 41,000.

Experts warned the problem is likely to get worse as the Government continues to cut the public sector, which accounts for one in five workers. Women will be hit particularly hard as around two-thirds of the state workforce is female. Already 1.06million women are unemployed – the largest number since 1988 – with another 450 a day becoming jobless.

The Office for National Statistics figures were published yesterday, which was described by Labour as ‘a day of misery’.

Nida Ali, economic adviser to the accountant Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said: ‘The labour market has turned for the worse. There is no good news in the figures.’ On all fronts, the figures are heading in the wrong direction. Between May and July, employment dropped by 69,000 people – and unemployment rose by 80,000 to 2.51million. It is only the second time since 1994 that unemployment has breached the landmark 2.5million level.

The number of job vacancies is falling, and there are 5.6 unemployed people chasing every opening, according to the figures.

To make matters worse, many of the women who do have a job are frustrated because they have been forced into part-time work. The ONS said the number of women who are working part-time only because they ‘could not find a full-time job’ has reached an all-time high of 701,000.

Young people are also being hit hard by the jobs crisis. The ONS said 20.8 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed – the highest rate since records began. Between May and July, an extra 78,000 youngsters became unemployed, raising the total to 973,000.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, warned that the situation was unlikely to improve in the short-term. He said: ‘The storm clouds are gathering. It is difficult to see how this might reverse.’

Employment Minister Chris Grayling admitted yesterday’s figures ‘underline the scale of the challenge that we face.’



What Jews Should Know About Christians

Barry Rubin tries to talk sense into his fellow Jews

Most Jews today (or should I merely say many?), even the most secular among them, have a tremendous fear of Christians—especially fervent believers of the type represented today by Evangelicals–and conservatives. There is a material basis for this fear based on past Jewish experience. But it is the year 2011; things have changed; and it is time to reconsider these assumptions and see if they still make sense.

Let me begin by mentioning two specific situations I have witnessed that show the foolishness of this blindness:

1. In a particular city a group of Jews organized a march for Israel. Several Christian groups wanted to participate. Since some elements among the Jews disagreed with the Christians on other political issues, they cancelled the march rather than participate alongside pro-Israel Christians.

2. In a particular other city, an Israeli speaker was invited to speak by the main pro-Israel Jewish group. He was also invited to speak by a respectable pro-Israel Christian group. The potential speaker was informed that if he spoke for the Christian group not only would the pro-Israel Jewish group refuse to have him as a speaker but its leaders would even refuse to meet with him privately.

This kind of behavior is simultaneously shameful and stupid. We are not speaking here of political sophistication but about a mode of thinking equivalent to a fear of catching cooties.

True, in general, for almost 2000 years many Christians and their institutions have often persecuted Jews, either materially or at least had very negative views toward Jews. In this short space I will not attempt to review that history or get beyond generalizations. Readers are able to do that for themselves.

For 200 years, modern conservative and nationalist thought in the West has also often persecuted Jews, in words, attitudes, and actions. A good starting point for that phase is the triumph of German nationalists over Napoleon and the reversal of the French revolution’s grant of rights to Jews in those lands. And of course the culmination was in the Nazi death camps.

It is understandable, then, that Jews supported parties of the liberal and left type where they were welcomed, where modernity was extolled, and where Jews believed they could integrate with the masses and thus defuse grassroots’ antisemitism. That strategy made perfect sense.

With Communism’s betrayal of the Jews, the contemporary tendency for the far left to take over traditional social democratic and liberal institutions, and the left’s romance with Third World (and particularly Palestinian, Arab, and Islamist radicalism), the world has changed. The left has largely abandoned Israel as a cause, often become antagonistic, and even evinces antisemitism.

There is still hope for reviving the social democratic and liberal tradition of being pro-Jewish and pro-Israel, but that won’t happen until the infiltration and seizure of intellectual hegemony of the far left is defeated.

Meanwhile, there has also been a change among many Christians (especially those called Evangelicals) and conservatives toward a greater friendship regarding Jews and Israel. A key reason for this shift—and proof of its authenticity—are a set of transformations in the thinking of these groups.

Before discussing the details, though, let me make it clear that Jews do not have to become conservatives or even agree with them—or with Evangelical Christians—on a wide range of issues. What is worthwhile, however, is to accept the offer of friendship on certain specific issues, respectfully disagree on others, and not demonize such people.

As noted above, many conservatives and pious Protestants have changed their view of Jews. Factors that once made for antisemitism have now been reversed. Here is a brief summary:

–Formerly, Jews were seen as subverting Christianity. Now, in an increasingly secular world, Jews (even only slightly religious ones) are seen as fellow believers, allies in preserving religiosity in the face of huge challenges.

–A key element in antisemitism were Christian documents of Jews as the “suffering servant” whose humiliation proved Christianity to be correct and “replacement theology” which says that Jews are no longer a “chosen people” but their role has been replaced by Christians. These ideas have been widely abandoned by Evangelicals. There is a new interest—and gratitude—at the Jewish roots of Christianity and a view of Jews as fellows in a Judeo-Christian religious community.

They are very much aware of Biblical verses that, for example, say that the creator of the universe will not bless those who attack or hate the Jewish people. There is also a real understanding of the history of the Holocaust and past antisemitism along with a desire to make amends. While there are those seeking converts, of course, and some who believe that supporting Jews will bring Armageddon, these are largely outdated concepts

–Conservatives tended to view Jews as cosmopolitan anti-nationalists, leftists, and pacifists. Today, however, the existence of Israel has given a different perspective on this. Jews, in the eyes of most conservatives, have created a model nation-state, a country that is willing and able to fight in its self-defense, where religion is respected as an important element in Jewish peoplehood.

–An especially important question has been how conservatives deal with the fact that there are so many Jews on the left, that is, among their political opponents and those who fight against religion in various ways. In the twentieth century especially, this was a huge source of antisemitism and a central element in Nazi doctrine.

Contemporary conservatives have, however, developed a new way of viewing this issue. First, of course, they have observed the left’s growing antagonism against Israel and even against Jews. Most importantly, they view leftist and anti-religious Jews as enemies of their own people. This neatly dispenses with a traditional core issue of antisemitism.

Someone like, say, Noam Chomsky is not seen as part of the Jewish conspiracy against America but as a person who has so broken with his Jewish roots and the interests of his people to be as much against the Jews as he is against his country or conservative values. In a sense, this concept parallels what most Jews—especially the religious and the pro-Israel majority—also think of such people.

In France and Italy, Holland and Spain, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, conservative parties are more pro-Israel than their counterparts on the left. This has less to do with Israeli or Jewish behavior—whatever claims are made to the contrary—than it does the philosophical and political evolution of politics within those countries.

Let me make this absolutely clear: to cooperate with liberals on supporting Israel one need not be a liberal; to cooperate with conservatives on supporting Israel one need not be a conservative. To cooperate with Christians on supporting Israel one need not be a Christian.

Of course, a distinction must be made between much larger conservative forces and smaller neo-fascist ones. The Le Pen party in France, the British National Party, and other forces continue the historic antisemitism of the right-wing. In the United States, right-wingers like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul also still hold traditional antisemitic concepts.

Yet the Jewish people have always survived by a willingness to understand the world as it is and to act as necessary without sacrificing core principles. While working to maintain and rebuild relations with real liberal and moderate social democratic forces where possible, Israel and Jews should also shake the extended hand of conservatives and Christians which is so often sincerely offered.



Liberty's resilience, even after 9/11

I think Jeff Jacoby is a bit optimistic below but he has a point. I am also reminded of the wise words of judge Learned Hand: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

WAS THE 9/11 DECADE a disaster for individual freedom?

Within hours of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the noted libertarian activist John Perry Barlow warned that the night of totalitarianism was about to descend on American liberty.

"Control freaks will dine on this day for the rest of our lives," wrote Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in an e-mail to his followers. "Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America."

Barlow's voice was only the first in what would eventually be a deafening chorus denouncing the government's reaction to 9/11 as an assault on fundamental freedoms. George W. Bush, Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek, "thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator." John Ashcroft, attorney general for the first three years of the Bush administration, was accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of displaying "open hostility to protecting civil liberties." Former Vice President Al Gore slammed the White House for using the war on terrorism "to consolidate its power and escape any accountability for its use."

Nearly every change in domestic national-security policy over the past decade, from airline no-fly lists to the data-mining of telephone records, was portrayed as another step down the slippery slope to a police state. Most reviled of all: the Patriot Act, passed by Congress six weeks after 9/11 and reauthorized several times since. Feverish critics characterized the law as the gateway to an American gulag. Under the Patriot Act, cried the ACLU, "the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads or . . . the web sites she visits." To Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, debating the law on the House floor, it was "crystal clear" that the administration was determined "to abuse, attack, and outright deny the civil liberties of the people of this country in defiance of our constitution."

Some of this uproar was partisan, of course. That is why it was never directed at Barack Obama, even though he extended nearly all of Bush's national-security legacy.

But in fairness, committed civil libertarians had reason to be uneasy. If the first casualty of war is truth, the second is often freedom. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the illegal harassment of political opponents during the Nixon administration, wartime governments have certainly been known to repress dissent and abuse individual rights. During the Civil War, the federal government rounded up thousands of civilians and shut down hundreds of newspapers because they publicly opposed the policies of the Lincoln administration. FDR ordered the internment of more than 100,000 loyal Japanese-Americans during World War II, though they were guilty of nothing but their ethnicity.

It was with historical precedents like these in mind that Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold voted against the original Patriot Act – the only Senator to do so. Explaining his opposition, he quoted Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who warned in 1963 that it is "under the pressing exigencies of crisis that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees."

Yet 10 years later American freedom thrives. To be sure, obnoxious security measures are more common, especially in airports and other public spaces, but political debate, dissent, and activism are as robust as they have ever been. As the New York Times acknowledged this week, the domestic legal response to 9/11 "gave rise to civil liberties tremors, not earthquakes." The Patriot Act, for all the hyperventilating, amounted to little more than "tinkering at the margins" of existing law. By historical standards, "the contraction of domestic civil liberties in the last decade was minor."

Sincere the Feingolds and Barlows may have been, but they were wrong. American history doesn't prove that once the government's "control freaks" get a taste of expanded power, it is only a matter of time before the concentration-camp gates swing shut behind us. If anything, it proves the opposite.

Congress and the president may restrict political liberties during wartime or a crisis, but when the crisis eases liberty rebounds – and then some. The balance between security and freedom shifts back not to where it was, but to even greater liberty and expanded individual rights. Thus, after the Civil War ended, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments made the United States an even freer country than it had been before. Following World War II, FDR's internment of the Japanese was rescinded – and is now so reviled that no mainstream political figure would dream of defending or emulating it.

Americans are more jealous of their freedoms than libertarians sometimes realize. For nearly 150 years, civil liberties in this country have been on the upswing. Ten years after 9/11, they still are.



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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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