Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Lest Darkness Triumph

by L. Neil Smith

Twenty-three years ago, I wrote a novel that would eventually come to be called Forge of the Elders, in which I predicted that, in the aftermath of the collapse of the once-powerful Soviet Empire, and a general, worldwide rejection of communism, the United States would embrace Marxism and drag the rest of the world with it, back into the abysss.

I don't pull things like this out of my hat or anyplace else. They're based on sixty-six years' experience with history and human nature. Over thirty-three years writing novels, I have made a number of successful predictions: the laptop computer and i-Pad, wall-sized TV and computer monitor screens, the Internet, the rise of .40 caliber weapons, a steep decline in crime due to ordinary people carrying guns. Not all of my predictions have been happy ones. The unhappiest, in Forge of the Elders, was one I least wanted to see come true. I would have been ecstatic to be wrong about the future I saw ahead of us.

But here we are.

The reason we are in this mess is that—assuming the recent election was legitimate (admittedly a huge assumption)—it appears that a majority of Americans today are willing to wreck the greatest civilization in the history of mankind because they're incompetent, lazy, and personally resent the fact that they have to work for a living.

In 1964, when I was a freshman Philosophy major in one of those wee-hours college bull sessions, struggling to explain what I would later rename the "Zero Aggression Principle", a classmate of mine defined that fact—that people have to work for a living—as coercion. I should have paid more attention, but I couldn't know, even as Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater in a three-to-one landslide, that his outlook, as repulsive as it seemed, would ultimately win the day.

You understand and I understand that nature doesn't coerce anything or anybody. Gravity, for example, doesn't exist just to inconvenience human beings, it's simply the way the universe operates. Similarly, the need to work arises from the laws of thermodynamics, which mandate that we all must replace the energy we consume merely by existing.

You understand and I understand that spending your life waiting for handouts from the government, or standing in line demanding them, is not a viable means of existence. It leads inevitably to economic ruin, and along the way, it diminishes those who attempt to live in that manner, as well as those who are forced at gunpoint to support them. Eventually it fails, although most of its victims never know why. Socialism, which pretends to have the answers, is nothing but the political expression of an ignorant, visceral, inarticulate hatred and envy of everything that has raised humanity above the level of the animals.

All that fills the hearts and minds of socialists is a white-hot rage that can never be satisfied, and can't be penetrated by rational thought processes. The fact that socialism has a proven track record, a long history of failing miserably every time, everywhere it has been imposed on those too weak or stupid to resist it, usually collapsing afterward in raw bloodshed and fiery destruction, is not a fatal criticism to those who adore it and tend to idolize its demagogic champions. Instead, for the disappointed inner nihilist that lurks deep within each of them, that horrible failure constitutes a kind of testimony.

Barack Obama has come to them, not—as some half-witted comedian recently suggested—as Jesus Christ the Savior, but as Shiva the Destroyer. And because revenge is sweeter to this kind of broken soul than personal advancement, because there are people who would rather squat in their own excrement and throw rocks than rise up and knap those rocks into something useful, they vote for the Destroyer every time.

Meanwhile, Freedom sits like an old man on a wooden bench in the filthy corridor of some communist hospital ward, quietly waiting to die.

The socialist movement knows what it wants, and seldom deviates from the pursuit of its objectives. Unfortunately, those who only wish to be left alone, to one degree or another, by society and government, are not united in what they want from life, nor should they be—but it makes it very hard to defend freedom from those who hate and fear it.

The problem we face in our struggle to be free has many origins, but the chiefmost, I believe, is an educational system owned and operated by the only natural enemy higher on the food chain than H. sapiens:  Government.

The public school system doesn't so much serve the state, as it serves statism. It doesn't so much see individualism as the enemy, as any manifestation of individuality. It was designed that way from the start, by collectivists like John Dewey and Horace Mann, who copied it from that bastion of individual liberty and human rights, Prussia.

Anyone who complains that the public schools don't work, doesn't really understand the reason they were established in the first place. To the beneficiaries of John Dewey and Horace Mann, they work just fine. The zeal with which the public employees' unions have fought to maintain control over the school system—which, more than anything, reminds me of the zeal with which Abraham Lincoln prosecuted his war against 25 percent of the people who had tired of paying 80 percent of the nation's taxes—reveals what freedom's enemies believe is at stake.

Can they be stopped? Can America's slide into the totalitarian abyss be halted and reversed? The one good sign in all of this is that, back in 1964, when you tried to speak against collectivism and in favor of freedom, you couldn't get anybody to listen.  Today, at least half the country is listening, while the statists scramble hysterically to stop us communicating with one another, and take away our means of physically defending our lives, liberties, and property.

It is time for us to stand our ground.

It is time to speak as long and loudly as we can about abolishing the public schools, which were created to poison our children against us.

It is time to tell the inbred imbeciles who mistakenly believe they own us that Americans have obeyed their last victim disarmament law.

It is time to tell them that their precious United Nations, nothing more than an international criminal organization that openly advocates genocide, must leave this continent, immediately and for good.

It is time to warn them that the Internet is the nervous system of a new kind of civilization and must be left utterly untaxed and uncontrolled.



America is not paying its way

Sequestration sounds like castration, only more so: it would chop off everything in sight. It would be so savage in its dismemberment of poor helpless America that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that, over the course of a decade, the sequestration cuts would reduce the federal debt by $153 billion. Sorry, I meant to put on my Dr. Evil voice for that: ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE BILLION DOLLARS!!! Which is about what the United States government currently borrows every month. No sane person could willingly countenance brutally saving a month's worth of debt over the course of a decade.

So now we have the latest cliffhanger: the Fiscal Cliff, below which lies a bottomless abyss of sequestration, tax-cut extension expiries, Alternative Minimum Tax adjustments, new Obamacare taxes, the expiry of the deferment of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate, as well as the expiry of the deferment of the implementation of the adjustment of the correction of the extension of the reduction to the proposed increase of the Alternative Minimum Growth Sustainability Reduction Rate. They don't call it a yawning chasm for nothing.

As America hangs by its fingernails, wiggling its toesies over the vertiginous plummet to oblivion, what can save her now? An Even More Super Committee? A bipartisan agreement in which Republicans agree to cave, and Democrats agree not to laugh at them too much? That could be just the kind of farsighted reach-across-the-aisle compromise that rescues the nation until next week's thrill-packed episode when America's strapped into the driver's seat of a runaway Chevy Volt careering round the hairpin bends on full charge, or trapped in an abandoned subdivision overrun by foreclosure zombies.

I suppose it's possible to take this recurring melodrama seriously, but there's no reason to. The problem facing the United States government is that it spends over a trillion dollars a year that it doesn't have. If you want to make that number go away, you need either to reduce spending or increase revenue. With the best will in the world, you can't interpret the election result as a spectacular victory for less spending. Indeed, if nothing else, the unfortunate events of Nov. 6 should have performed the useful task of disabusing us poor conservatives that America is any kind of "center-right nation." A few months ago, I dined with a (pardon my English) French intellectual who, apropos Mitt Romney's stump-speech warnings that we were on a one-way ticket to Continental-sized dependency, chortled to me, "Americans love Big Government as much as Europeans. The only difference is that Americans refuse to admit it."

My Gallic charmer is on to something. According to the most recent (2009) OECD statistics: Government expenditures per person in France, $18,866.00; in the United States, $19,266.00. That's adjusted for purchasing-power parity, and, yes, no comparison is perfect, but did you ever think the difference between America and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys would come down to quibbling over the fine print? In that sense, the federal debt might be better understood as an American Self-Delusion Index, measuring the ever-widening gap between the national mythology (a republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens) and the reality (a 21st century cradle-to-grave nanny state in which, as the Democrats' Convention boasted, "government is the only thing we do together.").

Generally speaking, functioning societies make good-faith efforts to raise what they spend, subject to fluctuations in economic fortune: Government spending in Australia is 33.1 percent of GDP, and tax revenues are 27.1 percent. Likewise, government spending in Norway is 46.4 percent, and revenues are 41 percent – a shortfall but in the ballpark. Government spending in the United States is 42.2 percent, but revenues are 24 percent – the widest spending/taxing gulf in any major economy.

So all the agonizing over our annual trillion-plus deficits overlooks the obvious solution: Given that we're spending like Norwegians, why don't we just pay Norwegian tax rates?

No danger of that. If (in Milton Himmelfarb's famous formulation) Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans, Americans are taxed like Puerto Ricans but vote like Scandinavians.

We already have a more severely redistributive taxation system than Europe, in which the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans pay 70 percent of income tax while the poorest 20 percent shoulder just three-fifths of 1 percent. By comparison, the Norwegian tax burden is relatively equitably distributed. Yet Obama now wishes "the rich" to pay their "fair share" – presumably 80 percent or 90 percent. After all, as Warren Buffett pointed out in The New York Times this week, the Forbes 400 richest Americans have a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion. That sounds like a lot, and once upon a time it was. But today, if you confiscated every penny the Forbes 400 have, it would be enough to cover just over one year's federal deficit. And after that you're back to square one. It's not that "the rich" aren't paying their "fair share," it's that America isn't. A majority of the electorate has voted itself a size of government it's not willing to pay for.

A couple of years back, Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute calculated that, if Washington were to increase every single tax by 30 percent, it would be enough to balance the books – in 25 years. If you were to raise taxes by 50 percent, it would be enough to fund our entitlement liabilities – just our current ones, not our future liabilities, which would require further increases. This is the scale of course correction needed.

If you don't want that, you need to cut spending – like Harry Reid's been doing. "Now remember, we've already done more than a billion dollars' worth of cuts," he bragged the other day. "So we need to get some credit for that."

Wow! A billion dollars' worth of cuts! Washington borrows $188 million every hour. So, if Reid took over five hours to negotiate those "cuts," it was a complete waste of time. So are most of the "plans." In fact, any "debt reduction plan" that doesn't address at least $1.3 trillion a year is, in fact, a debt-increase plan.

So, given that the ruling party will not permit spending cuts, what should Republicans do? If I were John Boehner, I'd say: "Clearly there's no mandate for small government in the election results. So, if you milquetoast pantywaist sad-sack excuses for the sorriest bunch of so-called Americans who ever lived want to vote for Swede-sized statism, it's time to pony up."

OK, he might want to focus-group it first. But that fundamental dishonesty is the heart of the crisis. You cannot simultaneously enjoy American-sized taxes and European-sized government. One or the other has to go.




US birthrate hits record low:  "The rate of babies born in the United States hit a record low in 2011, a new analysis shows. Researchers say the drastic drop in the birth rate among immigrants has greatly contributed to the overall decrease. ... The overall number of births declined 7 percent from 2007 to 2010. During this period, U.S.-born women saw a 5 percent birth-rate decline, while there was a 13 percent drop in births to immigrants."

In defence of loan sharking:  "The loan companies that advertise on Channel Five all charge about 2,000 per cent. Others are said to charge as much as 4,000 per cent. The last time I borrowed money, I paid five per cent. I avoid going into debt on my credit cards, because of the 22 per cent charged on them. It may seem heartless to defend the right to charge very high interest rates -- especially as these are charged to the very poor, who then have trouble getting out of debt. However, limiting the rate of interest they can be charged is not the way to help the poor."

CA: Prop 39 will fund corporate welfare:  "Sold as a painless proposal to close a 'corporate tax loophole' and 'bring dollars and jobs back to California,' Proposition 39 -- which passed Nov. 6 with 60 percent support -- will do nothing of the sort. The new law won't close a loophole; instead, it will create a new slush fund for 'green' corporate welfare, hurt our economy and increase the cost of products and services across the state. Supporters of Prop. 39 have claimed that a sneaky deal in 2009 created a loophole for corporate taxation, penalizing in-state corporations and benefiting those outside of California. That's not the case."

Anti-business US government puts a stop to Intrade making US customers happy:  "Reports have been swirling around about the death of another business at the hands of a US government agency. While those reports weren't totally true, as usual, the US Government has squashed any attempt by unfree US citizens to do what they want. Intrade is still alive and kicking (although it probably wouldn't be if it was based in the US), minus its US customers ... for now anyway. As of December 23, 2012, all US accounts with Intrade will be suspended thanks to the meddling of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)."

CA: Suit calls San Francisco housing head bully, racist:  "The San Francisco Housing Authority, which runs more than 6,000 units of public housing for the city's poor, is headed by an executive director who discriminates against white employees in favor of African Americans and regularly employs offensive, outlandish language and behavior in the workplace, according to a lawsuit filed by the agency's own lawyer. The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court by the agency's assistant general counsel, Tim Larsen, paints executive director Henry Alvarez as a mercurial bully -- a description echoed in interviews with The Chronicle by several others who have had close contact with Alvarez since his arrival at the Housing Authority in 2008."

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



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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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