Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More on Pope Francis

I have to conclude that Evangelii gaudium is a failure as a policy document.  It has been extensively misunderstood.  As I think I showed yesterday, a careful reading of it favours neither Left nor Right in politics.  Francis identifies what he sees as a raft of social problems and many of those problems are ones that Leftists dine out on. But he does not call for political action to remedy those problems .  He recommends prayer and personal compassion as the response to such problems.

But just about nobody seems to have noticed that. The Left think he has come down firmly on their side and conservatives  see him as pro-Left  too.  See for instance here for a conservative critique.

The problem as I see it is that people on both sides of politics in the Western world see a statement of social grievances as a call for political action.  So Francis has misjudged his audience.  He is politically naive: Rather surprising in a Jesuit.

Past Popes in their encyclicals have taken care to remain in the middle ground of politics.  John Paul II's encyclical Centesimus annus is a good example of that.  Fortunately, Evangelii gaudium is an informal document so is not binding in any way.  So Francis should move soon to issue an encyclical which cancels out the naive political views that are expressed in Evangelii gaudium.  He will lose a lot of conservative Catholics otherwise.  And Leftists are not conspicuous as churchgoers.  His good intentions may be bad for his church.  Pius XII came quite unfairly to be called "Hitler's Pope".  Will Francis come to be known as "Stalin's Pope"?  -- JR


Another senseless shooting of an American white by American blacks

Though it obviously made sense to the limited minds of the blacks concerned

An Iraq veteran who thought he was buying an iPad as a Christmas present after responding to a Craigslist posting, has been shot dead in an Indianapolis parking lot by the fake sellers.

New-dad Jim Vester, 32, was lured to an address on Wednesday in the west side of the city and brothers Tyron Kincade, 19, and Tyshaune Kincade, 18, have been arrested after Vester was shot dead leaving behind his one-year-old son, Gavin and wife, Jamie.

In the wake of the senseless murder, nearly 1,500 people have donated $58,000 to a YouCaring.com fundraiser set up by Vester's family for the man described as a 'great cook, loving father and faithful man.'

'He would drop everything and cross town to help you and your family,' friend Master Sgt. Jerry Wurm said.

Vester was a career military man, with 12 years of service in the Indiana National Guard, including a year-long tour of duty in Iraq in 2006.


More documentation of black on white violence here.


In Government We Trust: The Progressive Religion

With a storied history of attacking people of faith as extremists, radicals and the greatest threat this nation faces, it seems odd to see progressives embrace religion in their “advance the agenda at any and all costs” march. But they are, with vigor.

The wheels are coming off the progressives’ dream of a cradle-to-grave entitlements, amnesty-ridden nanny state. Their wish list for complete government control – and their predictions the government shutdown would be the end of the GOP have been sacrificed to an Obamacare rollout that has enjoyed all the success of the Hindenburg (except on MSNBC, of course, where the Earth remains flat).

Since the government reopened on Oct. 17th, the American people have had an unfiltered look at what progressive policy means to them, and they don’t like it. Not only have President Obama’s approval ratings tanked since Americans got a look at his “signature legislation,” the generic ballot for control of the House of Representatives has gone through a dramatic flip. The chances of Congressional Democrats retaking the House have sunk lower than that of a hooker with an open cold sore getting a date at a eunuch convention before the bars open.

As such, desperate times require desperate measures. Enter the religious appeal.

It’s not overt, for the most part, and it’s certainly not well thought out. But when the ship starts to sink you grab whatever you can to bail it out, bucket or coffee mug.

What has happened is Democrats’ previously uncheckable lies are now fully checkable. It’s real now. You can’t keep your doctor or insurance, no matter how much you like them. And this hurts in the wallet – a lot. Now that we know this does not qualify as a practical solution, certainly not to health care anyway, Democrats –with all the credibility of a used-Pinto salesman – now embrace “morality” as the reason to embrace Obamacare.

In a column reeking of desperation on par with a kid hoping for a unicorn under his Christmas tree, the Washington Post’s Ryan Cooper complied a list of reasons “Why millennials will come around on Obamacare.” Aside from a desperate lack of understanding of health policy and how people work, the second reason Cooper lists stands out. He writes, “Going without health insurance is morally wrong.”

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

This pathetic attempt to manipulate the unthinking into an overwhelming sense of guilt that forces them to capitulate may work on those with fewer IQ points than fingers, but it won’t work on those with a third-grade education.

Cooper explains, “The only way insurance can work for everyone is if everyone is in the system so risk can be pooled. This one doesn’t carry much weight yet, since the system isn’t even operating. But as time passes, this will become an important norm — and for young people, the norm has outsized importance (older people already have a reason to get coverage; they get sick more easily). Getting insurance will be part of living in a decent society where everyone chips in when they can afford it, and free-riding is frowned upon — and over time, young people will come to see this as part of being a responsible citizen.”

Those 108 words are an incredibly inefficient way of rephrasing “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Cooper’s appeal wouldn’t be noteworthy were it a lone cactus in the desert, but it’s not.

Also this week the buffoonish Ed Schultz, MSNBC’s angry Fred Flintstone clone, mused about how God would feel about Obamacare. “I'll tell you what I think God thinks of the Affordable Care Act. It's a big amen!”

Not to be outdone in the office pool of idiocy, Charlie Brown’s illegitimate child, Chris Matthews, had an offering on this theme. Matthews temporarily snapped out of his loving gaze while interviewing the president Thursday and put the cherry on top of one of this planet’s worst displays of sycophantism to utter what was supposed to be a question: “You know, Mr. President, your — your remarks the other day on economic justice to me, as a Roman Catholic, was so resonant with what the Holy Father, Francis, has been saying. Talk about that common Judeo-Christian or, even further, Muslim background to the belief we have a social responsibility, a moral responsibility to look out for people who haven't made it in this country.”

The one thing missing from these transparent attempts at manipulation is a basic understanding of morality. Morality is not set by government, laws are. Morality, like it or not atheists, stems from religion. It’s not exclusive to it, but religion is the soil in which the seeds of morality were planted. And nowhere in the Bible or Qur’an does it say government should confiscate the fruits of one man’s labor for the benefit of another.

True, the texts of our major religions do call for aiding our fellow man, but they do so as part of the religion, not a mandate for every human being.

Setting aside the gross bastardization of religion through the integration of communist tenets by these progressives, the most striking part of their appeal is its hypocrisy. These are the same people who spent the better part of the last half-century proclaiming “government can’t legislate morality” on any issue remotely moral. Perhaps Chris “Roman Catholic” Matthews can explain where the Vatican changed its views on, say, abortion to dovetail with the progressive agenda? Probably not.

In nearly every way government has replaced religion in the progressive sphere. It is the grantor of rights, the arbiter of morality, the moderator of justice, the compass of true north. Government is the religion, and the agenda is God.

Any act done in service to the agenda is justified; the end is what matters, the means are irrelevant. That’s how you rationalize selling big lies, known lies, to a public wanting to believe your snake oil is the cure for what ails them.
Perhaps progressives were correct in their charge that religious zealots are the greatest threat to our liberty today. And if they want to see one of those zealots, they need only look in the nearest reflective surface.



Coming to Grips with Rise of The Machines

Jonah Goldberg

After you heard President Obama's call for a hike in the minimum wage, you probably wondered the same thing I did: Was Obama sent from the future by Skynet to prepare humanity for its ultimate dominion by robots?

But just in case the question didn't occur to you, let me explain. On Tuesday, the day before Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage, the restaurant chain Applebee's announced that it will install iPad-like tablets at every table. Chili's already made this move earlier this year.

With these consoles customers will be able to order their meals and pay their checks without dealing with a waiter or waitress. Both companies insist that they won't be changing their staffing levels, but if you've read any science fiction, you know that's what the masterminds of every robot takeover say: "We're here to help. We're not a threat."

But the fact is, the tablets are a threat. In 2011, Annie Lowrey wrote about the burgeoning tablet-as-waiter business. She focused on a startup firm called E La Carte, which makes a table tablet called Presto. "Each console goes for $100 per month. If a restaurant serves meals eight hours a day, seven days a week, it works out to 42 cents per hour per table -- making the Presto cheaper than even the very cheapest waiter. Moreover, no manager needs to train it, replace it if it quits, or offer it sick days. And it doesn't forget to take off the cheese, walk off for 20 minutes, or accidentally offend with small talk, either."

Applebee's is using the Presto. Are we really supposed to believe that the chain will keep thousands of redundant human staffers on the payroll forever?

People don't go into business to create jobs; they go into business to make money. Labor is a cost. The more expensive labor is, the more attractive nonhuman replacements for labor become. The minimum wage makes labor more expensive. Obama knows this, which is why he so often demonizes ATM machine as job-killers.

Just a few days before Obama's big speech on income inequality, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launched a media frenzy by revealing on "60 Minutes" that he's working on the idea of having a fleet of robot drones deliver products straight to your door. I can only imagine the discomfort this caused for any UPS or FedEx delivery guys watching the show. There are still a lot of bugs to be worked out, but does anyone doubt that this is coming?

You might take solace in the fact that there will still be a need for truck drivers to deliver the really big stuff and to supply the warehouses where the drones come and go like worker bees. The only hitch is that technology for driverless cars is already here, it just hasn't been deployed -- yet.

None of this is necessarily bad. Machines make us a more productive society, and a more productive society is a richer society. They also free us up for more rewarding work. As Wired's Kevin Kelly notes, "Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines."

While some hippies and agrarian poets may disagree, most people wouldn't say we'd be better off if 7 out of 10 people still did back-breaking labor on farms.

That doesn't mean the transition to a society fueled by robot slaves won't be painful. The Luddites destroyed cotton mills for a reason. Figuring out ways to get the young and the poor into the job market really is a vital political, economic and moral challenge. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, James Pethokoukis, argues that one partial solution might have to be wage subsidies that defray the costs of labor, tipping the calculus in favor of humans at least for a while.

"Of course," Pethokoukis notes, "wage subsidies are an on-budget, transparent cost -- which politicians hate -- while the costs of the minimum wage are shifted onto business and hidden. But the costs exist just the same."

The robot future is coming no matter what, and it will require some truly creative responses by policymakers. I don't know what those are, but I'm pretty sure antiquated ideas that were bad policy 100 years ago aren't going to be of much use. Maybe the answers will come when artificial intelligence finally comes online and we can replace the policymakers with machines, too.


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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