Saturday, April 30, 2011

A great Royal occasion

Detractors often speak of the fragility of the British monarchy and predict its demise but on every great Royal occasion we see the falsity of that. The huge enthusiasm with which Prince William and his bride were greeted by a million onlookers in London would surely be the envy of any politician.





Winston Churchill once said: "Not for a thousand years has Britain seen the campfires of an invader". One consequence is that the British army has retained its traditions. And the splendid uniforms are part of that. We see in the picture above the particularly splendid dress uniform of the Blues & Royals worn by Prince Harry.

It might almost be a comic opera uniform but there is nothing comic about the regiment concerned. It sees active service in war zones and in fact traces its origins all the way back to Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. And Prince Harry is no chocolate soldier. Both he and William are members of the British armed forces and Harry is particularly devoted to the army. He loved his posting to the dirt and dust of Afghanistan. And the Blues and Royals is the regiment he joined when he enlisted in the British army.

Prince William, heir in due course to the throne of 16 countries, also enlisted initially in the Blues and Royals but now serves in the Royal Air Force. In the picture above he wears the uniform of the Irish Guards, of which he is honorary Colonel. By wearing that uniform he honours the regiment concerned. Guardsmen will be proud to see THEIR Colonel so prominently honoured.

And also above we see the rather splendid 1902 State Landau in which the couple left Westminster Abbey. I gather that it is not the most comfortable of rides but it gives admirers a good view of those in the carriage and enables them to be clearly seen when they wave back.

It all does my old monarchist heart good. And I was pleased to see the Queen looking well after her recent minor health scare -- JR.

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The Entrepreneurs' Princess

From across the pond, I have watched with interest the debate and speculation on the significance of Prince William's wedding to longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton.

Much has been made of the fact that Kate is a "commoner"; her mother and father started out their careers working as a flight attendant and flight dispatcher for British Airways, respectively. Yet she has known many of the privileges of aristocracy, because her parents built a multimillion-dollar business that supported elite educations for her siblings and her.

Some have asked if Kate will be a "people's princess," in the mold of Prince William's late mother, Diana. But Kate and her family actually embody a noble, if relatively modern, tradition of their own, a tradition of bettering oneself and one's family while improving the lot of society at the same time.

The tradition that Kate and her parents and siblings embody so well is that of entrepreneurship. For centuries in Britain, commercial activities were looked down upon by many in the aristocracy, whose wealth lay in landownership and who would not deign to dabble in trade. This week's wedding can be seen as the culmination of a long process of elevating the social status of entrepreneurship itself.

The story of the Middletons' rise to wealth has been told, but its significance and its implications for British culture and public policy have been little explored.

When Kate was five, her mother, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, saw a niche that could be filled to help others in her situation. As described on the website of the family business, PartyPieces.co.uk, "Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces in 1987 after finding it difficult to source fun, simple party products for her children's parties."

Somewhat like successful American firms from Microsoft to Google that had their beginnings in residential garages, Party Pieces started out in a shed in the Middletons' garden. There, mail orders were taken for boxes with pre-selected party favors to fit a certain theme.

The Middleton's business really took off with the advent of the Internet, and today, one can go on the web site and order plates, cups and napkins themed from Barbie to the Transformers. If one of the royal duties is to ensure the happiness of subjects, Kate's family has given her a head start by bringing joy to so many British parents and children.

And happiness through individual initiative is something Kate could encourage once she joins the royal family, by pointing to her family's entrepreneurial background and championing Britain's innovative firms, many of which have origins similar to that of Party Pieces. Margaret Thatcher has written that "however pervasive an enterprise culture is, most people are not born entrepreneurs." But the Middletons, through the story of their success before Kate even met William, will serve as a constant reminder of what enterprising men and women can achieve.

Over the three decades that span the lifetimes of Kate and Prince William, the commercial classes have attained newfound respect in British culture. The idea of ordinary people building successful businesses—a concept often called the "American Dream"—is now idealized in British programs such as BBC's "Dragons' Den."

If the royal family were to utilize Kate's background to help encourage and spread this culture of entrepreneurship, the effects in Britain—and possibly much of the world—could be incredible. The people of the United Kingdom would be much richer, and not just in material terms. "Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives," writes the social scientist Arthur Brooks, who is president of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

Indeed, studies show that in both the U.S. and U.K., many blue- and white-collar workers prefer to have the opportunity to advance, even if this means a less equal income distribution. A study of thousands of British employees by Andrew Clark, associate chair of the Paris School of Economics, found that measures of these workers' happiness actually rose as their demographic group's average income increased relative to their own.

These findings suggests that as people see members of their peer group gain wealth—even surpassing them—it gives them hope that they can improve their lot as well. As Mr. Clark put it in his study of British workers, "income inequality . . . need not be harmful for economic growth" if it "contains an aspect of opportunity."

The Middletons symbolize the opportunity that exists in a free-market system for those who take advantage of it. It is worth noting that they founded Party Pieces during the Thatcher era, when the Conservative government focused on lifting barriers to entrepreneurs through lower taxation, less regulation and privatization. Coincidentally or not, the year Kate's parents started their business, 1987, was also the year that their longtime employer British Airways was sold off, with shares of stock going to its workers.

Even though Kate's family has long been in the spotlight due to her relationship with Prince William, recent comments by Carole Middleton show that she still sympathizes with the small entrepreneur. In an interview on the Party Pieces website, she says: "I still work through to the early hours to hit a deadline and never take our success for granted."

The union of Prince William and Kate has been called a modern royal marriage, and in many ways it is. But it will also fulfill the traditional function of merger of families in a new way. When this couple says their "I dos," the royal family will officially be wed to the dreams and aspirations of millions of entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.

SOURCE

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Americans depend more on federal aid than ever

Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation's history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.

A record 18.3% of the nation's total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.

The income data show how fragile and government-dependent the recovery is after a recession that officially ended in June 2009.
The wage decline has continued this year. Wages slipped to another historic low of 50.5% of personal income in February. Another government effort — the Social Security payroll tax cut — has lifted income in 2011. The temporary tax cut puts more money in workers' pockets and counts as an income boost, even when wages stay the same.

From 1980 to 2000, government aid was roughly constant at 12.5%. The sharp increase since then — especially since the start of 2008 — reflects several changes: the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population and lingering economic problems.

Total benefit payments are holding steady so far this year at a $2.3 trillion annual rate. A drop in unemployment benefits has been offset by rises in retirement and health care programs.

"What's frightening is the Baby Boomers haven't really started to retire," says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes of the 77 million people born from 1946 through 1964 whose oldest wave turns 65 this year. "That's when the cost of Medicare will start to explode."

Accounting for 80% of safety-net spending in 2010: Social Security, Medicare (health insurance for seniors), Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) and unemployment insurance.

SOURCE

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"Progressives" are Reactionaries

Tibor R. Machan

The simple answer to why progressives are reactionaries is that they tend to want to empower governments to solve all of the problems that face people in their social lives and that is just the authority that kings, tsars, pharaohs, and other rulers have claimed for themselves throughout history.

The literally progressive position is that no one gets to rule anyone else without that other’s permission. So a football coach or physician or orchestra conductor may rule only because he or she is permitted by those being ruled. But no one else has such authority without such consent. Today’s pseudo-progressives, however, want to assign such authority to governments without anyone consenting to being ruled about a great many matters that their favored governments want imposed on the citizenry.

More generally, governments that rule people have been the norm throughout human political history. Here and there and now and then this practice hasn’t prevailed but mostly it has. In contemporary times the term “ruler” is still used in, say, Libya and Dubai. It was the American Founders, or the majority of them, who demoted the English king and along with him all monarchs–no longer were they deemed the sovereign but a servant of the citizenry.

It is true that American conservatives, often associated with traditional values, have embraced much of what the Founders installed here and this may make it appear that what the Founders believed was itself conservative or traditional. Not so. In American it is the distinctive tradition to champion limited government and not the bloated state. So that is why American conservatives are really more radical than their modern liberal, welfare statists opponents.

The confusion is understandable but foes of the fully free society like to engage in discrediting what they do not like instead of arguing about it. In any argument there is no question that the political vision of the American founders wins hands down. It is a superior system to all those that went before which have all been more or less statist, gripped by the governmental habit. It is just this habit that modern liberals have reaffirmed, what with their wish to make government the caretaker of society, the nanny and ruler of us all. That is the old idea of politics and there is nothing truly progressive about it at all. Let’s just get this straight.

Sure the statism embraced by contemporary liberals, socialists, fascists and the like is somewhat different from the older kind, from mercantilism, from monarchism, from the rule of Caesars and tsars. Not all statists are the same. But what is crucial about all of them is that they are statists. They do not favor certain particular version of statism such as monarchism that had been demoted, overturned by way of the American revolution.

The Founders were nearly libertarians except for some matters they probably didn’t know how to handle without some coercive laws, such as the funding of law enforcement and maintenance via taxation. But taxation is the feudal kin of serfdom–the treatment of those in a society as if they and their resources belonged to the government.

That idea is not knew at all, nothing progressive about it whatever. It is however the idea that is close to socialism in which system all the major means of production are publicly owned, belonging to government (which goes by the euphemism of “the public”). And what does socialism see as the major means of production in a society? Human labor. So human labor–which is to say every human being–is owned by the state. The hallmark of serfdom and slavery.

Progressive my foot. This is thoroughly reactionary, taking contemporary politics back to an era that was prominent before the American revolution challenged it good and hard. This is crucial not just for purposes of political rhetoric, which can delude people who are not all that well versed in political history, but also for dealing competently with public policy. Any such policy that treats the citizen as a subject–subject to the will of the government, that is–must be rejected without any compromise.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

MA: Curb on use of welfare cash okayed: "House lawmakers voted unanimously last night to ban welfare recipients from spending their cash benefits on alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets, reigniting an issue that flared during Governor Deval Patrick’s reelection campaign last year. The House approved the ban, as part of a larger amendment to the state budget, on a 155-0 vote. The measure not only targets welfare recipients, it also bans store owners from accepting welfare debit cards for purchases of alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets."

Obamaflation arrives: "President Obama will not be re-elected. Period. Why? Obamaflation has arrived, and this is what it looks like: Milk. A gallon of skim. At the local Giant in Central Pennsylvania: January 11, 2011: $3.20; February 28, 2011: $3.24; March 6, 2011: $3.34; April 23. 2011: $3.48. That would be a 28 cent rise in a mere 102 days, from January to April of this year. The third year of the Obama misadventure. Then there's the celery. Same sized bag. Same store. January 11, 2011: $1.99 a bag; March 6, 2011: $2.49 a bag."

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

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)

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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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Friday, April 29, 2011

Motivation and IQ among blacks

A critic has made an important point about my recent brief comment on motivation and IQ: That "acting white" is scorned among many American blacks and that presumably means that they are poorly motivated to do well on tests. And their poor motivation could account for their low average IQ scores. There is undoubtedly some truth in that but not enough to account for the evidence.

Tests are taken in many situations and motivation varies but many situations are ones where motivations are high and blacks do poorly there too. Blacks ALWAYS do poorly, regardless of the situation. Leftist psychologists have for decades now racked their brains trying to find some way to get black average IQ up to white levels and nothing works.

In one experiment, testees were given extra time after the allowed time. The amount of extra time taken was greatest among blacks -- suggesting that their motivation was high. They still did poorly of course.

Further, blacks in Africa and the Caribbean are in a very different situation from American blacks and are often very motivated to do well in any way that might help release them from their grinding poverty. Motivation is not their problem -- and those who manage to get to America or Britain do notably better educationally and otherwise than do blacks born in Britain or America. And in Africa particularly, the average black IQ score is abysmal, much lower even than the scores of American blacks -- presumably because there is around 20% white ancestry among American blacks overall. It is genes, not motivation that matters.

Finally, my critic was apparently unaware that his criticisms are not at all new. They are well-known and well-accounted for among psychometricians. It is in fact an old chestnut that blacks do poorly on IQ tests because of lack of motivation. Such claims have got progressively more weird, however. The latest version of the claim is what Leftist psychologists call "Stereotype threat". The claim is that blacks try less because they fear that their poor results will reflect badly on blacks generally. One would have thought that such fears would cause them to try HARDER but all that is brushed aside. A summary of that research points to large holes in it and concludes "Lack of evidence and grave methodological defects haven't prevented the stereotype threat industry from taking off. Distortions are now pervasive."

NOTE: I cover the above topics more comprehensively here.

Update

I append below Chris Brand's comment on the original study that led to the above post. Chris Brand is a longtime student of IQ and related phenomena

In a mystificatory paper, including no references to Spearman, Burt or Jensen and a totally obscure version of g, published in a journal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,*) with no reputation for psychological sophistication and with ‘acknowledgment’ of statistical help to a U. Texas psychologist (Elliot Tucker-Drob), ‘researchers’ Angela Duckworth (U. Pennsylvania) et al. persuaded the ever-environmentally-gullible BBC to claim that IQ was substantially affected by ‘motivation.’

In fact, the authors’ minimally mentioned data did not specify which tests or age-groups were involved; their recordings of ‘test enthusiasm’ would merely have reflected the fact that higher-IQ subjects coped better with testing; their Table 1 clearly showed IQ four times as important as ‘non-intellective traits’ in predicting academic performance; and – despite the BBC’s adulation – the authors themselves concluded:
"It is important not to overstate our conclusions. For all measured outcomes in Study 2, the predictive validity of intelligence remained statistically significant when controlling for the nonintellective traits underlying test motivation. Moreover, the predictive validity of intelligence was significantly stronger than was the predictive validity of test motivation for academic achievement. In addition, both Studies 1 and 2 indicate that test motivation is higher and less variable among participants who are above-average in measured IQ. These findings imply that earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation".

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A ‘Royal Wedding’ the Victorians might approve of

I am not sure how much interest the Royal wedding today is attracting in the USA but the TV audience is expected to be 2 billion so I thought the backgrounder from Australia below may be of some interest. Australia is a monarchy too, of course, and Prince William will be Australia's monarch in due course

The last princess whose wedding I watched on telly ended up dying in car crash in Paris. So for Catherine Middleton’s sake, I won’t be tuning in to the Royal Wedding in London tonight.

However, there is much to interest those who are concerned not with dresses and fairytales but with the future of an important institution. For on the fate of Prince William’s marriage could rest the future of the British Crown.

Whatever one’s feelings about the monarchy, for a long time the royal family was respected as a good role model. This is because since the mid-nineteenth century the House of Windsor, nee Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, self-consciously promoted itself as a typical, traditional British family.

When Victoria became Queen, the British Crown, together with the rest of aristocracy, had a reputation for excess to rival their counterparts in pre-revolutionary France. To build the esteem of the monarchy, Victoria and her politically astute husband, Prince Albert, tied its fortunes to the rising force in British society.

The royals won favour with the masses by aping the respectable social values of ‘moral middle class,’ which the Industrial Revolution and Protestant religion summoned into existence. Out went debauchery and in came ideals such as duty to family and nation.

Queen Elizabeth is rightly held in high regard (even among Australian republicans) because, in word and deed, she has continued to model the exemplary behaviour expected of royalty. However, the reputation of the monarchy has been tarnished in recent years, mainly due to the breakdown of the marriages of both the queen’s sons.

One hundred and fifty years of PR was destroyed when Diana gave an unprecedented television interview in the mid-1990s and told the world about confronting Charles over his straying ways. Charles’ insouciant response – ‘Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?’ – was hardly the prerogative of a modern-day British king-in-waiting.

This might have sufficed in more deferential times when the media ignored royal indiscretions. But in this intrusive age, exposing the gap between private acts and the public image exposed the Crown to ridicule and charges of hypocrisy. This is ironic given the permissive attitudes to personal morality that otherwise prevail today. Contemporary society expects royalty to model values that the rest of society is free to disregard!

Nevertheless, one senses that Prince William has grasped the double standard and understands that the monarchy would struggle to survive another scandalous divorce.

Having realised he will be held to the high standards of the past (and keen not to repeat the heartache of his parents), William appears determined to have a ‘Royal Wedding’ in the conventional Victorian senses of both those terms. After a long courtship that included a shared university education, it seems he is marrying for life a woman he loves and respects.

I guess this is a fairytale of sorts. But if ‘Will and Kate’ can use their long and happy marriage to help shore up the foundations of the monarchy, their political achievement will rival that of their famous ancestors ‘Vicki and Bert.’

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 29 April. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

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A Critique of a New York Times Editorial Opinion about Obama

The article below is from my old friend Keith Burgess-Jackson. Keith always writes incisively -- JR

With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.
KBJ: How rational can this man be if he waited three years to release his birth certificate? And why is it irrational to be skeptical about a president's (or presidential candidate's) place of birth when our Constitution clearly requires that the president be "a natural born Citizen"? One would think that what's irrational is dogmatism of the sort displayed by the New York Times and other journalistic organs, which did almost nothing to investigate the background of this strange man.
The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.
KBJ: People are out of work because of Barack Obama. People are dying overseas because of Barack Obama. Had Obama released his birth certificate three years ago, when he began running for president, he wouldn't have had to take time from his busy (golf-playing, campaigning) schedule to discuss the matter. And why interject race into a discussion that has nothing to do with race, other than to impugn the character and motives of those who are (rightly) skeptical of the man's qualifications for office? By the way, how does Obama know where he was born? Does he remember his own birth? His evidence is the same as anyone else's.
Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the “silliness” and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won’t, of course.
KBJ: If it's a distraction, it's self-imposed. Obama has nobody to blame but himself.
If there was ever any doubt about Mr. Obama’s citizenship, which there was not, the issue was settled years ago when Hawaii released his birth certificate. The fuller document that Mr. Obama had to request contains some extra information, including his mother’s signature and the name of the hospital where he was born, but it was unnecessary to show his legitimacy.
KBJ: Thank you, editorial board, for informing us that there was no doubt about Obama's citizenship. You are the arbiter of knowledge and justification. We look to you to tell us what attitude we should take (skeptical, gullible, dogmatic) toward the issues of the day. In fact, there was reasonable doubt about Obama's citizenship. The man has a checkered past. He lived in many different places around the globe, by his own admission. His parents were born on different continents. As for the claim that Hawaii released Obama's birth certificate "years ago," it did not. It released a computer printout containing some (but not all) of the information on the original birth certificate. Why are you misleading your readers? How did you know what the original birth certificate said, before it was released? Do you have extrasensory perception?
So it will not quiet the most avid attackers. Several quickly questioned its authenticity. That’s because the birther question was never really about citizenship; it was simply a proxy for those who never accepted the president’s legitimacy, for a toxic mix of reasons involving ideology, deep political anger and, most insidious of all, race. It was originally promulgated by fringe figures of the radical right, but mainstream Republican leaders allowed it to simmer to satisfy those who are inflamed by Mr. Obama’s presence in the White House.
KBJ: Nobody is "attacking," unless wanting the Constitution to be complied with constitutes attacking; in which case, let there be more attacking. Who (exactly) questioned the authenticity of the original birth certificate? How many is several? Did you ever complain about "several" people questioning whether the United States government was behind the attacks of 9-11? And when did you complain about those who "never accepted [George W. Bush's] legitimacy" after the 2000 election? I don't recall one peep from you about this. As for interjecting race into the discussion, there you go again. Why are you obsessed with race? Why do you see racism everywhere? Is it possible, in your view, to criticize the president without being racist? Do blacks get a pass, merely because they're black? How is that not racism? And you are flat-out wrong about the "attack" being "originally promulgated" by "fringe figures of the radical right," unless, of course, you consider Hillary Clinton to be on the radical right. Do you do research? Do you know how to use Google? Does the word "journalism" mean anything to you?
Sarah Palin said the birth certificate issue was “fair game,” and the public was “rightfully” making it an issue. The House speaker, John Boehner, grudgingly said in February that he would take Mr. Obama “at his word” that he was a citizen, a suggestion that the proof was insufficient. He said, however, that it was not his job to end the nonsensical attacks. “The American people have the right to think what they want to think,” he said at the time. That signal was clearly received. Lawmakers in nearly a dozen states introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to release their full birth certificates.
KBJ: Once again, skepticism about constitutional qualifications is a good thing, not a bad thing. We are lucky to have public officials and figures such as Sarah Palin and John Boehner who care about the Constitution.
It is inconceivable that this campaign to portray Mr. Obama as the insidious “other” would have been conducted against a white president.
KBJ: Will you let go of this race thing? Is that all you have? You are not only speculating about motives; you are imputing the very worst motives to those with whom you disagree. How would you like it if bad motives were imputed to you? I won't do it, but you deserve it. Okay, I will do it: You wouldn't be defending Obama if he were white. You are trying to protect a black man, simply because he is black. (Actually, he's only half black, but you know what I mean.)
There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump’s flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off. Naturally, he did not.
KBJ: I carry no brief for Donald Trump, but he does get results. Why does that bother you so? Are you worried that he might defeat your darling president in 2012? As for Karl Rove, he does not speak for the American people. He is part of the Washington political establishment that the Tea Party seeks to overthrow. There you go with the racial thing again. Would you please get help with this affliction?
Finally, his taunting and the questions of television correspondents obliging Mr. Trump got on the president’s nerves. Mr. Obama was tactically smart to release the certificate and marginalize those who continue to keep the matter alive. It is tragic that American politics is fueled by such poisonous fire. Mr. Trump quickly moved on to a new fixation, questioning Mr. Obama’s academic credentials. Mr. Boehner, and other party leaders, have a new reason to call a halt to the politics of paranoia and intolerance.
KBJ: Poor Obama! Little ol' Donald Trump "got on [his] nerves"! If Obama can't handle Trump, how is he going to handle third-world dictators? Come to think of it, he hasn't. He's a wimp. As for your writing, do you realize that you're mixing three metaphors in one sentence when you say "fueled by such poisonous fire"? How much time did you put into this editorial, anyway? It appears to have been written in 10 minutes in a fit of rage. As for "paranoia" and "intolerance," what you really mean is "skepticism." Americans are a skeptical lot. They do not take kindly to dogmatic, partisan journalists who refuse to do their job of investigating the backgrounds of those who would govern them. Perhaps, come to think of it, that's why you're so angry: You were caught out. You've only been pretending to be journalists.


SOURCE

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Trump gets the usual Leftist kneejerk attack

Take "racist" and "Nazi" out of a Leftist's vocabulary and he would be struck dumb in political debate

A senior CBS news anchor today labelled Donald Trump's campaign to raise doubts about President Obama's school grades as an 'ugly strain of racism'. Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer made the comments in the wake of Mr Trump's calls yesterday for Mr Obama to release college transcripts 'proving' he had the grades to enter Columbia and Harvard.

The attack came as new research suggested viewers for Celebrity Apprentice - some of the most liberal for any TV show - were deserting the program due to Mr Trump's outspoken rants against Mr Obama. [They can't handle anything that challenges their shallow beliefs]

Yesterday Mr Trump called on the President to release his college transcripts. Reacting to the call, Mr Schieffer said: 'That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. [He probably did] 'This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing.'

Earlier in the day Mr Trump had hinted that the President did not earn the grades at his first college Occidental to allow him to enter the two prestigious Ivy league schools. He said: 'I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard.

More HERE.

Pat Buchanan covers this issue in more detail -- noting, rather amusingly, that Obama has ADMITTED benefiting from "affirmative action"

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

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)

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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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Thursday, April 28, 2011

This really is a win for The Donald

And it will be a total triumph if it turns out to be a forgery. What sort of copy is it anyway? Is the copy certified by a notary? If it were a straight photocopy it would be black and white so why is it green?

Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump took credit for pressuring President Barack Obama into releasing the long-form version of his birth certificate. "I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish," Trump, a prominent investor and possible White House contender, told a New Hampshire press conference.

He was speaking after the White House released the full version of Obama's birth certificate in a bid to scotch allegations that the president was not born in the United States.

Trump said the newly-released document still had to be vetted for authenticity, but acknowledged it may finally show that Obama is indeed a natural-born American. Under the US Constitution only natural-born citizens can hold the nation's highest office.

"We have to see is it real, is it proper, what's on it," Trump said. "I want it look at it, but I hope it's true, so that we can get on to much more important matters," he said, adding the president "should have done it a long time ago."

"I am really honored frankly to have played such a big role in getting rid of this issue," Trump said in New Hampshire, a key state for contenders planning to launch a presidential bid.

In an extraordinary political moment, Obama told reporters at the White House that he was bemused over the conspiracy about his birthplace and chastised Republican opponents for their continued focus on the issue. "We don't have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said, adding that he was puzzled that the controversy had rumbled on for two-and-a-half years.

Trump, who is flirting with a White House run, has been one of the chief fomenters of the speculation over Obama's birth certificate.

Just last week, Trump proposed on ABC television that he and Obama swap disclosures, suggesting he would release documents on the financial viability of his ventures and his overall wealth, if Obama released his birth records.

Obama's 2008 presidential campaign had previously released a shorter regular birth certificate issued by Hawaii authorities after conservative critics and pundits fanned rumors that he was not American born.

The version released by the White House on Wednesday was a copy of a long-form, original document made at the time of his birth and kept since in official records in Obama's native state. The document lists Obama's birthplace and birthdate as "Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii" on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 pm.

SOURCE

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Trump Strikes Chord with America Because He Exposes Anti-Americanism at the Top

So, dear readers, what's the matter with Donald Trump? Well, apparently, just about everything. According to everyone who's anyone in the entire Country, on every stage, from both sides of the aisle, in every news outlet, from every prominent mouth this side of Timbuktu, Donald Trump has no business whatsoever even considering a presidential run.

Why, the nerve of this Donald Trump! It's positively galling. It's The Audacity of Hope on steroids. It's a national embarrassment, I tell you. So there.

As President Eloquent himself might opine -- with drooling faux sophistication, no doubt -- Donald Trump certainly has the whole commentariat class all "wee-weed up." Honestly, I don't think I've seen this many oh-so-prestigious people wet their pants since Romper Room went off the air.

Trump's a "clown," a "joke candidate," a "vulgarity," and the "Al Sharpton of the Republican Party." Trump's just throwing a "publicity stunt." Trump is a "sideshow." Trump is making everyone who's anyone "somewhat uncomfortable."

But, wait, it gets better. According to Glenn Beck's new author sidekick, Dr. Head-Shrink Albow, Trump's candidacy could be "psychologically debilitating for the American people." Now folks, even the most sophisticated among you must admit that's rich. That's pushing the we-prominent-people-know-what's-good-for-you envelope just a bit far for me to stomach without a barf bag.

So, please allow me to enlighten the oh-so-sophisticated crowd. Donald Trump is striking all-American chords during an anti-American presidency, and the supposedly very smart people don't get that? Oh, I think they do get it, but are scared down to their little woolies over what national calamities might ensue if The Donald is "allowed" to continue rattling the presidential goal posts.

Sentient observers have known since Election Day 2008 that Barack Obama is the pinnacle affirmative-action statement. Mickey Kaus finally came right out and said this in the Daily Caller, while parrying Jay Cost's column on Obama's outright failure at American politics:

"Cost doesn't go into why Obama managed to get to the top of politics without being all that good at it. The answer is distressingly obvious: Obama's the biggest affirmative action baby in history. When other pols are trying, failing, learning, while climbing up the middle rungs of the ladder, he got a pass."

Well, of course, he got a pass. Actually Obama got far more than a pass. He was allowed by an ideologically-driven, white-guilt-motivated media to hop, skip, and jump his way to the pinnacle of world power without ever producing one single shred of verifiable evidence that he could do anything whatsoever but run his full-of-utter-BS mouth -- even that, constantly enabled by a teleprompter. And Republicans winked and nodded and permitted the whole Orwellian spectacle due to their fear of being forever outcast as racists.

Now, in any real world, that is not just affirmative action, folks. That's rolling the dice on the future of civilization, which is exactly what Bill Clinton told them it would be. Clinton made this prescient observation in 2007, long before the current die was cast.

The whole 2008 election is being experienced by the vast American middle-class as a huge, cruel joke, one that has dire consequences to our standard of living and our standing in the world. But the media elites on both sides of the aisle seem to believe that having turned American politics into a joke of a fools' parade, they can now somehow bring the whole thing back to a level of respectability by circling the wagons around Barack Obama and uniformly denouncing the guy now rattling the cage with increasing popularity.

One thing the political class seems to have forgotten is that there are few living white Americans who have not had some personal experience with an affirmative-action co-worker and/or collegiate peer. For decades now, we Mainstreet dwellers have borne the brunt of this liberal two-wrongs-really-can-make-a-right folderol, and now we stand, mouths agape at those who still pretend this isn't what happened in 2008.

Awarding the pinnacle of world power to a guy on the basis of eternally-aggrieved skin color is quintessentially anti-American and the people know it. It was playing with fire and we're getting burned. The people know this. The people are saying it in private.

Black voters are saying it, too. They own small businesses and pay income taxes and raise families and go to church every Sunday and are not the one-size-fits-all underclass herd imagined by the condescendingly-racist liberal media. Congressman Allen West says it best.

Those who honestly believe they can squelch the people's demand to know all the things hidden until now by this cosmic-joke president are just whistling Dixie and whizzing in the wind -- which does not really strike me as intelligent.

The truth will out eventually. And mounting this wholly anti-American gambit of shaming those seeking the verification, which was so childishly foregone by the media "verifiers" in 2008, is itself anti-American. Trump strikes this chord among the people with pure aplomb.

Secondly, there is Trump's unabashed America-first barrage. Trump's resonance has far less to do with his actual ideas than with his stand-up-straight pride of our Country, and his willingness to say "America First!" loudly, proudly, and without an ounce of apology.

At the very least, Trump does seem to realize that our Republic is genuinely on the line. He seems to understand that the affirmative-action presidency may have temporarily made Americans feel better about themselves, but that it has been very destructive for our economy and for the overall safety of the entire world. Trump may have outside-the-box ideas for how to reestablish America's preeminence after the American-apology presidency, but people have the sense that outlying bad guys would be really scared of what Trump might do if his crazy finger were on the nuke buttons. And they know that bad guys scared of you are better than bad guys running roughshod over you.

Trump has done one thing that no other presidential contender has, in my oh-so-humble opinion. He has tapped into decades of pent-up frustration among the vast middle-class of the taxpaying public.

Among the businessmen I know -- most of them socially liberal, but fiscally conservative -- Trump's willingness to talk straight is striking a genuine chord. These men identify with Donald Trump on what seems a quite visceral level. They, too, have forged similar, albeit smaller, paths through America's growing quagmire of federal regulations and strangleholds on entrepreneurs. These men have grown sick and tired of seeing metrosexual foreign policy (Peter Schweizer's brilliant phrase) that leaves them holding the bag on expense, but getting sucker-punched by nations they've financed. They are fed up with hearing how greedy and unfair they are, after giving so much of their incomes to alleviate the pain of the lower classes.

As those who actually pay the government bills and create more than half of all the jobs in this country, small-business owners hear Donald Trump's willingness to declare that our mealy-mouthed politicians have made us the "laughingstock" of the world and cheer him on. They've believed this for ages now, but have been denied the public platform to say so.

Which brings us to another all-American chord Trump is striking with pure agility. Trump is in-your-face, unapologetically and aggressively manly. Even the ridiculous, vanity-inspired comb-over seems to shout "I couldn't care less what you think of me." This itself strikes a welcome off-tune macho chord in a political-class orchestra playing in pure metrosexual harmony.

Trump is giving voice to the all-male side of our collective American psyche. Our John-Wayne genes have been shoved into an outlying corner of socially-unacceptable shame for a long time now. Despite G.W. Bush's being labeled the "cowboy," his collegiate style was anything but pure macho.

Trump has brought one heck-of-a-lot of yang into this all-yin modern political class. And believe it or not, most Americans prefer their presidents to be somewhat more pit-bull or mama grizzly than likeable lapdog -- especially in perilous times. General Patton is still beloved in the heartland.

Love him or hate him, Trump's style is hitting a huge nerve among a had-it-up-to-here public. Those who refuse to read the angry American tea leaves, at this point, ought be called anything but "smart."

Ignore this reality to your peril, Republican and Democrat hot-shots. You're starting to look like King George, and we all know how that one unfolded.

SOURCE

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Is China Preparing to Dump its $1 Trillion of U.S. bonds?

China may be preparing to cut its foreign exchange reserves by about two-thirds, down to about $1 trillion from its current $3.04 trillion level, according to Chinese news service Xinhua.

Why? China simply has too much money, according to Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People’s Bank of China. “Foreign-exchange reserves have exceeded the reasonable level that our country actually needs,” he recently said.

Zhou noted that China’s stockpiling cash is “feeding inflation and becoming difficult to manage”. To be certain, China is suffering from an inflation problem, already up over 5 percent, not to mention a tremendous real estate bubble that threatens its very financial system. It needs to figure out a way to restore price stability.

So, Zhou wants to diversify the country’s assets of foreign exchange holdings, an obvious target.

Zhou’s sentiments were echoed on April 23 by Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group, who wants the reserves be restricted to between $800 billion to $1.3 trillion and the rest of the money reinvested.

Tang “suggested five channels for using the reserves, including replenishing state-owned capital in key sectors and enterprises, purchasing strategic resources, expanding overseas investment, issuing foreign bonds and improving national welfare in areas like education and health,” writes Xinhua.

Zhou and Tang were not alone. Xia Bin, another Chinese central banker suggested that $1 trillion of foreign exchange reserves would be sufficient. He too called for the reserves to be used more “strategically” to acquire hard resources and technology for the Chinese economy.

This would be a marked change in Chinese policy, which has been to stockpile these reserves, in particular dollar-denominated assets. It currently holds about $1.154 trillion of U.S. treasuries — the debt securities that constitute U.S. debt.

Now it may be planning to dump those U.S. treasuries on the market. If China wants to diversify its holdings by reducing its gross reserves by two-thirds, that would necessarily mean a drastic reduction of its share of the $14.3 trillion U.S. national debt.

This would have severe consequences, mostly for the American people.

Because the U.S. has racked up so much debt among foreign creditors like China, we have become increasingly vulnerable to their whims. China dumping a significant portion of its U.S. treasuries could spark a run on the dollar, uprooting it as the world’s reserve currency. How?

It would cause a rush to the exits on the treasuries market, robbing the ability of the U.S. to borrow from other creditors, who would not want to risk having the value of their assets devalued. Suddenly, a frenzy would occur by financial institutions to cash in dollars for something — anything — of value.

A dollar run would in turn cause hyperinflation here at home, super-high interest rates, and a complete default on U.S. debt. Without borrowing, we lack the ability to repay principal and interest owed on the national debt. We really are that vulnerable.

But, wouldn’t China be devaluing its own assets? Zhou does not seem to think so. He thinks his country needs to stop stockpiling money to get domestic inflation under control. But even if the Chinese were not looking to dump current holdings — they may still be signaling that they won’t be looking to buy any more.

With the Fed supposedly out of the Treasury market come June and with them now buying 70 percent of the issues, who will buy this junk? Barack Obama sees trillion dollar deficits for the next decade. At best, China can just sit back and do nothing and seriously injure us.

At worst, China may want to get out while the getting’s good from what amounts to nothing more than a useless paper trade.

After all, the alternative may be to wait for somebody else to start cashing in their dollars first. In this high stakes game of musical chairs, China may not want to be left without a chair when the music stops.

SOURCE

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

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)

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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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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

IQ is as much a measure of motivation as intelligence?

This is a rather silly study. Of course people who are not motivated to solve a puzzle will be unlikely to do so. And IQ tests are composed of puzzles. The only thing that is interesting is whether or not anything can be done to increase the scores of highly motivated people -- and there has been very little success at that

Scientists have shown that offering a financial reward for doing well can increase their score by up to 20 points on the scale where the average is 100 and Mensa membership is around 150.

The team at the University of Pennsylvania made the findings after setting out to prove [That alone makes their conclusions very dubious] that scores in the test were not just related to intelligence but also to motivation.

They looked at 46 previous studies of more than 2,000 children to see if monetary incentives had any bearing on the result. They found that on average a financial reward improved the score by 10 points but that higher values – above $10 (about £7) – could be rewarded with a 20 point increase. The size of the increase seemed to be proportional to the amount of reward offered.

A second study of 500 boys found that those who showed signs of boredom and lack of motivation – for example yawning or looking around during the test – scored lower test marks. [What a surprise!]

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who led the study, said: "IQ scores may predict various outcomes in life, but in part for reasons that intelligence tests weren't designed for. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy-makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise as how hard people try could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself."

SOURCE

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What Trump gets right

By THOMAS SOWELL

The boomlet for Donald Trump as a Republican nominee for president of the United States ought to be a wake-up call for Republican candidates and Republican Party leaders alike. Why has Trump surged ahead of other Republican candidates and potential candidates in the polls? It is not likely that his resurrection of the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate has aroused all this support.

The birth certificate issue does more political damage to Obama's critics than to the president himself, because it enables the media to paint those critics as kooks. Nor are Donald Trump's political positions such as to create a stampede to his cause. Radio talk show host Mark Levin has rebroadcast Trump's varied and mutually contradictory statements on political issues and personalities over the years. It was a devastating revelation of Trump's "versatility of convictions," to use a phrase coined long ago by Thorstein Veblen.

What then is Donald Trump's appeal -- and why should it concern Republican leaders in general?

What Trump has that so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking is the ability and the willingness to articulate his positions clearly, forcefully and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, "He played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace."

What electrified so many Republicans about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election campaign was that she was such a contrast to the usual mealy-mouth talk that was more common among other Republican candidates, including Senator John McCain. Whether you agreed or disagreed with her position on the issues, you didn't have to wave your hand in front of her eyes to see if she was awake.

Donald Trump is dangerous in at least two senses. If, by some tragic miracle, he should become the Republicans' candidate for president in 2012, that would be the closest thing to an iron-clad guarantee of a second term in the White House for Barack Obama. That would be a huge setback for the Republicans -- and, far more important -- a historic catastrophe for this country.

What seems more likely is that Donald Trump as a candidate for the Republican nomination would use his superior articulation skills -- not to mention brash irresponsibility -- to trash all the other Republican candidates for that nomination, leaving them damaged goods in the eyes of the public, and therefore less able to gather the votes needed to prevent the reelection of Obama.

Why Republicans seem not to understand the crucial importance of putting the same time and attention into articulating their positions as the Democrats do is one of the enduring mysteries of American politics.

It was obvious that the Democrats coordinated their talking points and catch-phrases -- "social justice," "tax cuts for the rich," etc. -- even before the overheard and recorded statements of Senator Chuck Schumer about Democrats' plans to repeatedly use the word "extreme" to characterize Republicans. But how many Republican catch-phrases can you remember? Republican rhetoric tends to range from low key to no key.

Nor is there much evidence that Republicans have asked themselves how the left-wing of the Democratic Party gained such ascendancy in recent years, in a country where millions more people identify themselves as conservative than identify themselves as liberals.

In short, there is little or no evidence that most Republicans see any need to fundamentally change their approach to the public. But if they think that they can rely on Obama's declining popularity to win the 2012 election, they may be in for a rude shock. Worse yet, the whole future of this country and of western civilization will be in jeopardy, in a world where the likes of Iran and North Korea become nuclear powers, while we engage in empty talk at the U.N.

Barack Obama's declining support in public opinion polls make some conservatives feel that his reelection hopes are doomed. But Donald Trump can be Barack Obama's secret weapon in his fight to remain in the White House. The Donald can be his Trump card.

SOURCE

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The Welfare State and the Selfish Society

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?

In the contemporary world, where left-wing attitudes are regarded as normative, it is a given that capitalism, with its free market and profit motive, emanates from and creates selfishness, while socialism, the welfare state, and the “social compact” as it is increasingly referred to, emanate from and produce selflessness.

Whatever its intentions, the entitlement state produces far more selfish people — and therefore a far more selfish society — than a free-market economy. And we have little evidence that this widespread selfishness can be undone once it catches on.
Here’s an illustration: Last year, President Obama addressed a large audience of college students on the subject of health care. At one point in his speech, he announced that the students will now be able to remain on their parents’ health-insurance plan until age 26. I do not ever recall hearing a louder, more thunderous, and more sustained applause than I did then. I do not believe that if the president had announced that a cure for cancer had been discovered that the applause would have been louder or longer.

It is depressing to listen to that applause. To be told that one can be dependent on one’s parents until age 26 should strike a young person who wants to grow up as demeaning, not as something to celebrate.

Throughout American history, the natural — or at least hoped-for — inclination of a young person was to become a mature adult, independent of Mom and Dad, and to become a grown-up. But in the welfare state, this is no longer the case.

In various European countries, it is increasingly common for young men to live with their parents into their 30s and even longer. Why not? In the welfare state, there is no shame in doing so.

The welfare state enables — and thereby produces — people whose preoccupations become more and more self-centered as time goes on:

How many benefits will I receive from the state?

How much will the state pay for my education?

How much will the state pay for my health care and retirement?

What is the youngest age at which I can retire?

How much vacation time can I get each year?

How many days can I call in sick and get paid?

How many months can I claim paternity- or maternity-care money?

The list gets longer with each election of a left-wing party. And each entitlement becomes a “right,” as the Left transforms entitlements into the language of “rights” as quickly as possible.

What handouts do, and what the transformation of handouts into rights does, is create a citizenry that increasingly lacks the most important character trait — gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Grateful people are happier, and grateful people are more morally decent. That is why we teach our children to say “thank you.” But the welfare state undoes that. One does not express thanks for a right. So, instead of “thank you,” the citizen of the welfare state is taught to say, “What more can I get?”

Yet, while producing increasingly selfish people, the mantra of the Left, and therefore of the universities and the media, has been for generations that capitalism and the free market, not the welfare state, produces selfish people.

They succeed in part because demonizing conservatives and their values is a left-wing art. But the truth is that capitalism and the free market produce less selfish people. Teaching people to work hard and take care of themselves (and others) produces a less, not a more, selfish citizen.

Capitalism teaches people to work harder; the welfare state teaches people to want harder. Which is better?

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

When dictators fall, who rises?: "The secular despot Saddam Hussein protected the Christians. But the U.S. liberation brought on their greatest calamity since the time of Christ. Scores of thousands of those Iraqi Christians fleeing terrorism and persecution after 2003 made their way to Syria, where they received sanctuary from President Bashar Assad. Now, as the FT and Washington Post report, the Christians of Syria, whose forebears have lived there since the time of Christ, are facing a pogrom should the Damascus regime fall."

Don’t raise the debt ceiling: "The people running this government are never going to deal with this untenable situation unless and until it becomes untenable for them. The only way that will happen is if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and forces the administration to prioritize payment of those obligations that must be paid to maintain our full faith and credit — for as Kevin and Veronique point out, this already perilous situation could be blown sky high if the interest rate we must pay to borrow spikes. Only when there is no way around it will we get serious consideration of what government should and should not do, and what kind of welfare state the public is willing to pay for."

The debt ceiling charade: "With respect to the debt ceiling, let me issue an easy prediction: The Republicans are going to cave. They are going to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Oh sure, there will be plenty of posturing. There will be expressions of anger and outrage over out-of-control federal spending, borrowing, and debt. There will be political tactics to gain electoral advantage, including threats to 'shut down' the government."

Governor moonbeam still spending: "After years of deficit financing, my state, California, is currently hurtling toward bankruptcy, the revenue from its savage personal income tax having been consumed, and over-consumed, by government employees' salaries and benefits. Yet in the midst of the budget turmoil, Governor Jerry Brown has just negotiated yet another Rolls Royce contract with one of the biggest beneficiaries of state government, the prison guards' union. The deal was so friendly that even the state's mainstream media began to criticize it."

MA: Insurers’ ambulance bill practice protested: "Cities and towns could be forced to sue their own residents, eliminate life support services, and pay higher health care bills unless the Legislature reins in an attempt by health insurers to slash ambulance costs, said lawmakers, fire chiefs, and municipal officials yesterday. ... At issue is a practice recently implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts intended to cajole ambulance providers to join the company’s contracted network: Rather than pay for ambulance services provided by out-of-network companies, Blue Cross will cut a check to patients for the cost of their ambulance ride. That would leave it up to the ambulance companies to seek out their patients and collect the check."

ME: Three bills propose smaller legislature: "Sponsors of three bills to cut back the size of the Maine Legislature say it's time for the state to economize as lawmakers ask others to do the same. Republican and Democratic lawmakers say Maine has one of the smallest state populations, but the 10th largest legislature. ... Maine's Legislature now has 186 members, and the bills would reduce its size by different amounts."

SCOTUS: No to expedited healthcare hearing: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to immediately take up Virginia’s challenge to the constitutionality of the new health-care reform law. Virginia’s Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli had asked the court to bypass the usual appeals process by allowing the case to proceed directly from a district-court ruling to the nation’s highest court. The justices, without comment, refused the request. "

RomneyCare’s unhappy anniversary: "Higher costs and less accessible medical care has been the Massachusetts experience -- and will soon be the nation's. Earlier this month, the landmark Massachusetts health care reform law turned five years old. Democrats were quick to applaud the anniversary, as the Bay State law is the model for the federal health care reform package that passed last year. The anniversary has proved especially inconvenient for former Massachusetts Governor and probable Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who argued forcefully for his state's reforms."

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

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)

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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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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hate, immigration and the NYT

I would normally put up the piece below on my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog but I think the story here is the NYT rather than immigration. It is of course zero suprise that an NYT article would make Dr. Goebbels proud but the article would seem to require some reply nonetheless. That reply has been provided by Jerry Kammer of CIS, one of the organizations smeared by the NYT. I put up a slightly abridged version of that reply below.

The main point to note is that Jason DeParle, the NYT journalist concerned, could find so little to pin on the anti-illegal crowd that he concentrated his spleen on just one man -- a Greenie! Greenies don't like people of any kind much and John Tanton appears to have been no exception. So he did make some fairly contentious utterances in his latter years.

It is of course true that Tanton was influential in founding several anti-immigration groups but he is now elderly, ill and not giving interviews so he is quite irrelevant to the present-day anti-illegal movement.

Jerry Kammer picks up the story, pointing out that there are many "Tantons" (unbalanced voices) on the other side of the debate too -- and that the other side is where the hate is to be found in the immigration debate of today:


The take-home message is that the three major organizations that seek to reduce immigration--the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies--are tainted by their association with nativist John Tanton.

DeParle describes Tanton's mounting frustration with the failure of 1986 immigration reform legislation. Congressional sponsors had touted the Immigration Reform and Control Act as a compromise that would impose order on the immigration chaos by combining amnesty for illegal immigrants with firm measures to stop future waves. It made the hiring of unauthorized workers a crime.

But, as DeParle notes, "the penalties proved ineffective and the amnesty was marred by fraud."

His story spills pools of ink detailing Tanton statements--most of them decades old--that demonstrate a shrill and tone-deaf dismay at the effects of uninterrupted mass immigration. Some are unfortunate. Some are disgraceful.

DeParle quotes a CIS report that criticized Tanton's "tin ear for the sensitivities of immigration." The report's next sentence, which DeParle does not quote, laments Tanton's "tendency to be unnecessarily provocative, a tendency that some have seized upon to change the topic from immigration to Tanton himself."

Therein lies the fundamental, journalistically fatal flaw of DeParle's story. His focus is so constricted that he produces a lopsided examination of extremism in the immigration debate.

It is one thing for DeParle to highlight Tanton's politically poisonous indiscretions. Tanton, who did more than anyone else to establish the modern movement to restrict immigration, has indeed done more than anyone else to undermine that movement.

But it is quite another thing for DeParle to fail to broaden his field of vision to observe the politically poisonous evolution on the other side of the immigration policy divide. DeParle's story is willfully blind.

Over the past several years, advocates of illegal immigration and ethnic organizations like the National Council of La Raza have taken as their battle cry the Southern Poverty Law Center's kangaroo-court, made-to-order 2007 designation of FAIR as a "hate group."

We at CIS issued a report that exposed the SPLC's multi-layered fraud and the "stop the hate" campaign it spawned. It is a vehement campaign of smear and character assassination directed against FAIR, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies.

As our report noted, the campaign sought to have all three organizations "shunned by the press, civil society, and elected officials. It is an effort to destroy the reputations of its targets. It also seeks to intimidate and coerce others into silence. It undermines basic principles of civil society and democratic discussion."

But who is DeParle's go-to guy for his only quote about the campaign? It's the campaign's principal spokesman, Frank Sharry.

Sharry's organization, America's Voice, is funded with millions of dollars from the Carnegie Corporation, the liberal, New York-based philanthropic foundation that righteously--and in this case ironically--touts its mission to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding."

During DeParle's visit to the CIS office, I provided him with our report. We spoke about it at length. It describes the Carnegie network and its own brand of extremism, which grew out of frustration at the 2007 collapse of "comprehensive" reform legislation.

In addition to America's Voice, the Carnegie funded participants include the Center for American Progress, Center for New Community, Center for Community Change, and the National Council of La Raza.

Last Saturday, in an email notifying me that the story was about to run, DeParle wrote this: "I used the Carnegie stuff, but it got cut. Maybe I can come back to it."

I think I can expect to see the Times' report on the Carnegie network about the time I see Porky Pig flying down Pennsylvania Avenue.

No reporter should allow his byline to sit atop a 2,900 word story about a highly controversial topic if that story has no room for an essential element of balance. Not when the void results in a story that is egregiously one-sided and indifferent to ongoing excesses. Not when those excesses are at least as poisonous to the national immigration debate as 20-year-old quotes from a 77-year-old man who has Parkinson's disease and is quietly fading from the scene.

Here are three more criticisms of the Times' story:

1) Shabby treatment of Roy Beck

DeParle feigns fair treatment by giving Beck the chance to deny that he's racist. He should have gone to the ample record that establishes his integrity. For example, in 1996 Francis Fukuyama observed that Beck had presented his restrictionist case "in a way that fosters serious debate rather than name-calling." He also wrote that Beck's arguments "are presented carefully and dispassionately and deserve serious answers." Fukuyama wrote that for the New York Times. I can't imagine that a Times staffer would dare such heresy.

2) Fudging the Record on Barbara Jordan

DeParle notes that Beck's website includes a picture of Barbara Jordan. He identifies Jordan only as "a black civil rights leader and politician that (Beck) considered an ally." He fails to include the relevant contextual information that would illustrate the progressivism underlying Beck's concerns. In the 1990s, when Jordan directed a presidential commission on immigration policy, Jordan did not see immigration as such an undiluted blessing that only a bigoted, nativist fringe would want to restrict it. Indeed, she believed that immigration must be restricted in order to provide the civic and economic space for it to be successful. Said Jordan, "If we are to preserve our immigration tradition and our ability to say yes to so many of those who seek entry, we must also have the strength to say no where we must."

3) Fact-Free Zone

The story is stuffed with innuendo and thick with suggestions of bigotry on the part of anyone connected to any of the organizations that has ever been connected to Tanton. DeParle makes a quick pass at objectivity, acknowledging that there are "serious liberal arguments for lower immigration." Yet, he provides none of the easily available and plentiful evidence for that fact. He could easily have noted that legal immigration has steadily expanded since the 1970s, when an average of 449,000 immigrants were admitted into the country each year, to the just-completed decade, when the annual average was nearly one million.

More HERE

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Some more exegesis

Exegesis is the detailed examination of a text in its context -- usually a scriptural text. I became an exegete of a sort when I was about 13. It was then that I first read the Sermon on the Mount. I was thunderstruck to find that what Jesus taught was nothing like what Christians actually do. Where is the ambiguity in:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away."

Can you get plainer than that? I can't imagine it. And I am still nearly as thunderstruck to this day about the gap between what the Bible says on the one hand and what Christians and Jews do, say and believe on the other hand. One would think that they would long ago have found a book that suited them better.

I still like Christianity as we have it today, however. I attended the Good Friday service at my old Presbyeterian church, for instance. See here. But it is a very poor reflection of the original faith.

I have continued to find exegesis fascinating, however, so I long ago started looking closely at what the rest of the scriptures actually say -- even delving into the original languages in which they were written where that seemed crucial. And over the years I have put up on this blog and on my scripture blog my findings about key doctrines -- including hellfire.

Rather to my amusement, however, I see that the NYT has just weighed in on hellfire. When the NYT is preaching the reality of hell, I feel that I should say a little more about some of the key scriptural texts involved.

Quick background: The word translated as "hell" in many Bibles is in the original Greek "hades", which simply means death or the grave. Translating it as "hell" is a theological statement, not a linguistic one. And knowing that wipes out most of the texts that are usually cited in support of the hellfire doctrine.

A couple of interesting texts remain, however, and today I thought I should look at one of Jesus's prophetic utterances in Matthew 25. An excerpt:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ...

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"

The "everlasting fire" into which the "goats" are cast certainly does sound like a clear formulation of a hellfire doctrine but that impression is partly an effect of a poor translation. The word translated as "punishment" is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a defensible translation to say that the goats would be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree

So, when properly translated, we see that Christ was, as usual, offering the alternatives of life and death, not heaven and hell -- exactly as he does in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal death. I guess I am a goat!

But where does the "everlasting fire" come in? To see that we have to note that Jesus was speaking figuratively for most of the passage, as he often did. His parables are famous. So is he really going to sit on a throne and muster billions of people on either side of him? If so, he would need to locate himself somewhere around Iran and even then the billions of goats would be crowded for room and many could well fall into the Mediterranean (presuming the throne was facing North).

And Jesus in fact makes it clear that he is aiming at vividness rather than precision when he notes: "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats".

So we have to decipher what is behind the figurative language. We get a clue when we note another passage where he used the same expression. Matthew 18:
"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

Again, however, we risk being misled by a quite mendacious translation. This is one occasion when the original Greek underlying the translation "hell" is NOT "hades". It is "Gehenna". And Gehenna was simply the municipal incinerator outside Jerusalem where the bodies of criminals were thrown.

So: Bingo! We now have it. We know what image of everlasting fire Jesus had in mind. He had in mind the continuously burning fire of Jerusalem's garbage incinerator. And, needless to say, the bodies thrown into Gehenna don't feel anything. They have simply died and been disposed of in an ignominious way. So both goats and the Devil are simply going to die -- but die in disgrace.

Jesus is however a careful teacher so makes sure we don't get him wrong by adding a plain language summary at the end of the Matthew 25 passage:
"And these shall go away into everlasting cutting off: but the righteous into everlasting life"

So the hellfire doctrine is another pagan borrowing. It is not Biblical.

A couple more points: Note that in the Matthew 25 passage Jesus speaks only of judging the "nations". There is no mention of the dead. So what about the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of them? Resurrection is the hope of an afterlife that is held out in both the Old and New Testaments but it is not mentioned there at all. That again tells us that Jesus was concerned to paint a vivid mental picture rather than make a precise doctrinal statement.

So, although the Bible is in general a very plainspoken book, we have to make sure that the translation is right and be careful not to take the figurative literally. And reading the whole passage is the usual key to that

Finally, the goats are on the LEFT! Did Jesus foresee the world today? (Just joking).

There is an interesting article here which describes some of the divisions in contemporary Christian thought about the nature of heaven and hell.

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

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)

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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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Monday, April 25, 2011

There is no limit to Democrat and media dishonesty



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Obama's Regulatory Tsunami More Destructive than Taxes

As Obama travels about the country, speaking of the need for “shared sacrifice” and the need to increase taxes, he doesn’t say a word about the tsunami of new Obama regulations ranging from light bulbs to ozone pollution to painkillers to foreign travel to vending machines that is about to hit America. Their impact will be huge and do serious damage to our economy.

Obama's regulatory tsunami began during his first month in office and has continued relentlessly since. Each week, new, more intrusive rules are rolled out, some through Executive Order, but many issued from federal agencies, often without any fanfare or publicity. In every month since his inauguration, President Obama has heaped regulations on unsuspecting Americans, non-profit organizations, large and small businesses.

You can argue that some of these new regulations are not destructive to our economy, but just look at the number of regulations. Their range, their grasp and their intrusiveness into American life is staggering. And to think, several thousand new pages of new regulatory guidelines and added bureaucracy are still being drafted by the Obama Administration as required by healthcare, recovery act, financial reform, small business and TARP legislation. These new regulations will be piled atop the Mt. Everest pile of regulations Obama has already produced.

SOURCE

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Slacker America

America’s work ethic comes from our Puritan past. When we were an agrarian country, you either worked or starved. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, we developed into an industrialized nation, led by men with a solid work ethic, that became the strongest economy in the world. This attitude was essential to our victory in two world wars and our transformation into the globe’s sole superpower.

Regrettably, cultural attitudes have changed substantially, and we now often see derision of our traditional principles. Puritanism is now equated to a 1950’s society in which men were the breadwinners and women were stay-at-home moms. Whether that is true or not, working hard has nothing to do with anything other than the desire to become successful. Work equals money, and money comes from work. It is a simple, yet elegant, concept.

Today, however, we often see a different reality. And while it’s easy to recognize how rapidly-advancing technology has made our lives easier both at home and in the workplace, the change in the American work ethic has many causes and has not taken place overnight.

Many people have observed how this new generation is different from its predecessors, and much has been written about the rules under which they now wish to live. The most dismaying aspect is how pervasive this attitude has become. Not only is the average worker or college graduate unwilling to put forth the effort of prior generations, but so are the elite educated classes.

Several attorneys tell me how difficult it is to get young lawyers to work today. The young ones want what the older ones have, but don’t want to make the requisite sacrifices. This might be an aberration – if it weren’t for so many people telling me the same story!

One of my clients proudly told me about his son and daughter-in-law – newly-graduated attorneys working their way up the ladder at big, reputable firms. The next time we spoke, he informed me that they had resigned their positions to go on a worldwide vacation. And last month, he called to let me know that they were now both working for the government – with 9-5 jobs and built-in benefits.

22.5 million Americans – an utterly staggering number – now work for federal, state, and local government. Stephen Moore, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, wrote that there are now twice as many people working for government than for manufacturers, and that more people now work for government than for several basic industries combined. Unfortunately, his excellent column failed to identify the most prominent reasons for this dismal situation.

Why do college graduates now seek jobs in government instead of private industry? It has largely to do with lack of ambition. Why take the risks inherent in the private sector when you can have a position that is virtually immune from layoffs, and for which you get vacations, sick days, health insurance, pensions, and every holiday on the calendar including imagined ones? Why accept a job requiring effort and productivity when you can get a government job in which your compensation and benefits have absolutely nothing to do with your performance? In fact, you may actually be discouraged from working too hard because it would embarrass your colleagues. Additionally, there is almost nothing that can cause you to be fired! So why take any risks in the private sector?

Ironically, the government then tries to force these same preposterous work rules onto the private sector – so that government doesn’t appear out of step with private industry.

The fact is that there is just too much government. Government now employs 16% of the current work force, amounting to 138.9 million people. That means that 116.4 million private- sector workers support this country of 308 million people. Government workers don’t help support the rest of us because the taxes they pay are just a reduction of the amount we pay them. They are just a drag on the private economy that needs to support them.

This economic model cannot sustain itself – especially with the current work ethic. When an ever smaller group of people is asked to support the rest of us, while the government hands out lavish employee benefits that far outstrip those found in the private sector, it’s no wonder that young people quickly conclude that a public-sector job is the perfect fit for their slacker attitudes.

While there are certainly exceptions, it seems that the generation now entering the workforce has been raised on the idea that hard work should take a back seat to lifestyle. They have seen – and sheepishly accepted – an ever-growing government sector making decisions for them. At this rate, there will soon not be enough private sector employees to support the government workers, the retired people, and the children of this society.

If we don’t change our current trajectory – and quickly! – then the next time my young Colombian friend comes to America, he will ask: “What the heck happened to this country?”

SOURCE

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But Seriously, Folks

After the Republican presidential field in 2008 spent a year trying to agree with each other, this year's GOP contenders are showing early signs that they have real policy differences, and they're not afraid to debate them. And yet much of the media is too obsessed with vanity candidates and nonissues to cover the serious debate.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has begun his presidential campaign by questioning the necessity of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, a break with Republican policy over the last decade. And, while seeking the nomination of a party that largely denies man's impact on climate change, Barbour told a crowd in Iowa in March that it is "prudent" to "proceed as if global warming is an issue."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney used his inaugural trip to New Hampshire last month to offer a defense of the state's health care plan, rather than backing away from an issue his opponents will certainly use against him. Jon Huntsman, who will explore a race once he returns from serving as ambassador to China at the end of the month, took stands on immigration, gay rights, and the environment that will set him apart from the field. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said frequently that entitlements should be examined in an effort to rein in spending.

The 2008 campaign hardly presented these sorts of policy differences. In countless debates, Republican contenders used their 60 seconds to agree with each other and offer soundbites in hopes of distinguishing themselves from an ideologically homogenous field. Even former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose record offered the clearest opportunities for contrast, did his best to appear just like one of the guys. Only Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stood out, and the rest of the field used him as a punching bag.

Refreshingly, serious candidates among the 2012 field are showing signs of substantive policy debates. Moderators at each of the early candidate gatherings have a chance to contrast Barbour's views on Afghanistan with Romney's, or with Pawlenty's, or with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Journalists can ask serious questions about Commonwealth Care, its successes and failures, and the role it plays in Romney's legacy. Every candidate will be asked to respond to Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, and to weigh in on whether and how entitlements should be cut to solve the debt crisis.

And yet it is the sideshows that dominate media coverage. Whether it's the pseudo-candidacy of Donald Trump, the fascination over Sarah Palin, or the obsession with anyone who wrongly believes President Obama was not born in the United States, the bulk of the presidential coverage in recent weeks has been profoundly unserious.

Perhaps, in an age of fragmented and increasingly partisan media, that is to be expected. After all, many outlets judge a story based on the clicks it drives to websites, rather than the content of the story itself. Birtherism has proven a popular traffic driver; on Wednesday, Matt Drudge led his site with a preview of a book authored by notorious anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Palin drives so much traffic that several national and Beltway publications devote staff time to writing up every television interview, Facebook post, and tweet emanating from her lakeside home in Wasilla, Alaska (For all her protestations that she despises the "lame-stream media," Palin has been very good for business. The worst thing she could do to harm the media is to stop being so popular among her conservative fans).

Trump is the most egregious case of a sideshow borne of the Washington-New York echo chamber. The bombastic businessman and shameless self-promoter has, at one time or another, espoused conflicting opinions on myriad issues, from the stimulus package to abortion. His ego is a source of great humor, as are his widely varying estimates of his own wealth (The only thing that doesn't vary about his bank balance is the trend line: He's always worth more than he was a few days ago, truly a financial feat of Lehman-esque accounting proportions).

And yet Trump is a near-daily fixture on cable television. In the past week, he has sat for extended interviews that aired both on ABC and NBC, and he appears weekly on Fox News. Trump is ratings gold, especially for NBC, which hosts The Apprentice and stands to benefit from any buzz Trump attracts.

Trump is also the source of a different kind of media attention, from exasperated columnists incredulous at the notion that Americans would pay attention to such an obvious blowhard. Just this week, columnists Charlie Cook, Jonah Goldberg, David Brooks, Richard Cohen, Matthew Continetti, Kathleen Parker, and Eugene Robinson have all devoted their time to The Donald. Unlike The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who successfully went a month without writing about Palin, this column has had no such success in swearing off Trump-apalooza 2011.

Trump winning the Republican nomination, or even competing seriously, is beyond a remote possibility. Palin's hopes of winning aren't much better, and her absence from the national spotlight suggests she's not likely to try. And while rumors that Obama was born somewhere other than on Oahu, Hawaii, may drive traffic, facts, as John Adams lamented, are stubborn things.

There are serious and substantive differences between candidates seeking the presidency for reasons beyond personal gain and publicity. Sadly, the silly season means that's all being missed.

SOURCE

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No security anywhere anymore

Congressman Paul Ryan, one of the least insane men in Washington, has a ten-year plan. President Obama, one of the most insane spenders in Washington, has a twelve-year plan.

At the world’s first “Presidential Facebook town hall meeting” on Wednesday, even Obama had a hard time taking his “plan” seriously. Sometimes he referred to it as a twelve-year plan, sometimes ten years, sometimes saving four trillion, sometimes saving two trillion. So will the Obama plan save four trillion over twelve years or two trillion over ten?

The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.” We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’s bottom dollar, the sun will shine.

That’s 2023. Go back 12 years. That’s 1999. Which, if any, politicians in that year correctly identified the prevailing conditions in the America of 2011?

Most of our problems arise from the political class’s blithe assumptions about the future. European welfare systems assumed a mid-20th-century fertility rate to sustain them. They failed to foresee that welfare would become a substitute for family and that Continentals would simply cease breeding. Bismarckian-Rooseveltian pension plans assumed you’d be living off them for the last couple of years of your life. Instead, citizens of developed nations expect to spend the final third of their adult lives enjoying a prolonged taxpayer-funded holiday weekend.

What plans have you made for 2023? The average individual attempts to insure against future uncertainty in a relatively small number of ways: You buy a house because that’s the surest way to preserve and increase wealth. “Safe as houses,” right? But Fannie/Freddie subprime mumbo-jumbo and other government interventions clobbered the housing market. You get an education because that way you’ll always have “something to fall back on.” But massive government-encouraged expansion of “college” led Americans to run up a trillion dollars’ worth of student debt to acquire ever more devalued ersatz sheepskin in worthless pseudo-disciplines.

We’re not talking about the wilder shores of the stock market — Internet start-ups and South Sea bubbles and tulip mania — but two of the safest, dullest investments a modestly prudent person might make to protect himself against the vicissitudes of an unknown future. And we profoundly damaged both of them in pursuit of fictions.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

The midnight ride of Standard & Poor’s: "Three cheers for Standard & Poor’s. On Monday, the rating agency issued a critical warning that America’s debt burden is growing too great. By doing so, it has helped make it less likely for the Washington budget debate to keep going down the path to national bankruptcy. We are now faced with a clear choice between a big-government, high-tax welfare state and a small-government, low-tax republic, such as the founders envisioned."

What are public sector unions for?: "If government, politicians, are indeed those wise and benevolent beings, then why should those who are employed by them need protecting from them? And if those who work for government need protection, shouldn't those of us subject to government also be protected?"

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

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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