Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Real Sickness At The Heart Of American Culture

People don't like to talk about America's culture for the same reason that a man who just had a heart attack doesn't want to discuss the double bacon cheeseburger he's eating. He knows what he's doing is killing him, but it's easier not to deal with it. We’re in the same boat.

* We treat success as an accident or a cheat while defending people who make bad decisions, who won't educate themselves or who won't work.

* We've allowed pornography to become so accessible that it's practically universally viewed, even among teenagers.

* We love victims so much that people actually fake hate crimes to claim victim status.

* We celebrate losers and deviants by giving them their own reality shows. Meanwhile, Hollywood regularly portrays businessmen, Christians and soldiers as the worst people on earth.

* More children have died because of Roe v. Wade than were killed during the Holocaust.

* Marriage is falling apart and we’re encouraging that by pushing gay marriage.

* Our universities reward Communists, terrorists and blatant anti-American sentiment with professorships. Those are the last people who should be teaching impressionable young Americans.

* There's a whole grievance industry full of people who make a living claiming to be "offended" by things.

* Religion and morality are denigrated while nihilism and immorality are considered cool.

* Legalism has superseded morality and what's "right" and "wrong" has become secondary to what's "legal" and "illegal."

* We're the greatest, most powerful, most prosperous and most virtuous nation that has ever existed and despite all of that, we obsess over our nations faults instead of our achievements.

* Americans across the spectrum are being encouraged to separate themselves off from the larger culture and nurse grievances that barely would have been given a thought a few decades ago.

Yet, we're told that we shouldn't worry about any of these things because people have always worried about our culture and things have turned out just fine. Even if that's so, have you ever considered the possibility that worrying about the culture and taking steps to keep it from getting out of hand is exactly what once kept it from going to the dogs?

Yes, there was a time when people worried about Elvis provocatively shaking his hips on stage and it's easy to laugh at that, but wouldn't we be better off if that was one of the biggest moral problems we faced as a society today? We don't like to admit the ugly truth; we’re more educated and much less racist than we used to be as a society, but we are also morally inferior to Americans from fifty years ago in almost every other way that matters.

Many people believe Rome fell because of a decline in morals while the Soviet Union disintegrated because they spent so much money trying to keep up with Reagan that they went broke. Well, we have both problems going on simultaneously. Meanwhile, preppers have become legion. Billions of dollars are being held back from the economy because people are saving up in case there's an economic collapse. Businesses are sitting on mountains of cash and looking to move their headquarters overseas. Many educated, informed people believe America is headed towards bankruptcy or runaway inflation not in fifty years, but within the next decade or two. If you're looking for signs that this country is in deep trouble, there are red flags galore waving in your face.

But this isn't just an economic problem, a spending problem or a leadership problem -- although those are all concerns. It's a cultural problem with our morals and what we value as a society on the most fundamental levels.

* In practice, our society focuses almost exclusively on the short term without thinking about the long-term consequences of our actions.

* We have a higher moral standard for the NFL than we do for our own leaders in Washington.

* We have a political party dedicated to the idea taking things from people who've worked for it and giving it to people who haven't.

* We make little effort to assimilate immigrants into our society and instead, encourage them to embrace the culture they fled for the United States.

* We've stopped acting as if we have to pay back the money we borrow.

* We treat the rule of law as optional, depending on who's impacted by it.

* We believe our children can grow up in a moral sewer and still turn out to be fine, upstanding citizens regardless.

We've become so divided, so antagonistic, so morally separated that for the first time in over a century there are people asking hard questions how much we really have in common with other Americans. If you're comparing let's say a conservative from South Carolina to a liberal from California, the honest answer is "not much that matters." Perhaps not even enough to hold a country together over the long haul if one group or the other ever became politically dominant.

There's only one way to change that and it's to address the real sickness at the heart of American culture. That sickness is our newfound reluctance to address the moral health of our society. Over the long haul, we can't thrive and we may not even be able to survive as a divided, degenerate society full of people who reward failure, resent success and live for the moment. Morality matters and if we forget that, our nation is doomed to descend into decadence, decay and perhaps one day, even dissolution.



Will The Swiss Vote to Get Their Gold Back?

On November 30th, voters in Switzerland will head to the polls to vote in a referendum on gold. On the ballot is a measure to prohibit the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from further gold sales, to repatriate Swiss-owned gold to Switzerland, and to mandate that gold make up at least 20 percent of the SNB's assets. Arising from popular sentiment similar to movements in the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, this referendum is an attempt to bring more oversight and accountability to the SNB, Switzerland's central bank.

The Swiss referendum is driven by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the conduct not only of Swiss monetary policy, but also of Swiss banking policy. Switzerland may be a small nation, but it is a nation proud of its independence and its history of standing up to tyranny. The famous legend of William Tell embodies the essence of the Swiss national character. But no tyrannical regime in history has bullied Switzerland as much as the United States government has in recent years.

The Swiss tradition of bank secrecy is legendary. The reality, however, is that Swiss bank secrecy is dead. Countries such as the United States have been unwilling to keep government spending in check, but they are running out of ways to fund that spending. Further taxation of their populations is politically difficult, massive issuance of government debt has saturated bond markets, and so the easy target is smaller countries such as Switzerland which have gained the reputation of being "tax havens." Remember that tax haven is just a term for a country that allows people to keep more of their own money than the US or EU does, and doesn't attempt to plunder either its citizens or its foreign account-holders. But the past several years have seen a concerted attempt by the US and EU to crack down on these smaller countries, using their enormous financial clout to compel them to hand over account details so that they can extract more tax revenue.

The US has used its court system to extort money from Switzerland, fining the US subsidiaries of Swiss banks for allegedly sheltering US taxpayers and allowing them to keep their accounts and earnings hidden from US tax authorities. EU countries such as Germany have even gone so far as to purchase account information stolen from Swiss banks by unscrupulous bank employees. And with the recent implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Swiss banks will now be forced to divulge to the IRS all the information they have about customers liable to pay US taxes.

On the monetary policy front, the SNB sold about 60 percent of Switzerland's gold reserves during the 2000s. The SNB has also in recent years established a currency peg, with 1.2 Swiss francs equal to one euro. The peg's effects have already manifested themselves in the form of a growing real estate bubble, as housing prices have risen dangerously. Given the action by the European Central Bank (ECB) to engage in further quantitative easing, the SNB's continuance of this dangerous and foolhardy policy means that it will continue tying its monetary policy to that of the EU and be forced to import more inflation into Switzerland.

Just like the US and the EU, Switzerland at the federal level is ruled by a group of elites who are more concerned with their own status, well-being, and international reputation than with the good of the country. The gold referendum, if it is successful, will be a slap in the face to those elites. The Swiss people appreciate the work their forefathers put into building up large gold reserves, a respected currency, and a strong, independent banking system. They do not want to see centuries of struggle squandered by a central bank. The results of the November referendum may be a bellwether, indicating just how strong popular movements can be in establishing central bank accountability and returning gold to a monetary role.




WI: Election officials scramble to implement voter ID law:  "Wisconsin election officials were scrambling Monday to deal with a federal appeals court's ruling reinstating the requirement that voters show photo identification when casting ballots. The law had been on hold, after being in effect only for the low-turnout February 2012 primary, following a series of court orders blocking it. But a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, just hours after hearing oral arguments, said late Friday that the state could proceed with implementing the law while it weighs the merits of the case. The decision came after a federal judge' ruling in April struck down the law as an unconstitutional burden on poor and minority voters who may lack the required identification."

Comcast calls rumor that it disconnects Tor users “wildly inaccurate”:  "Comcast has lately found itself issuing public apologies on a somewhat regular basis as subscribers share tales of horrible customer service. But the latest accusation leveled against Comcast -- that it is threatening to disconnect customers who use the anonymity-providing Tor browser -- hasn't been backed by convincing evidence that it's happening. ... 'This story is wildly inaccurate,' Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told Ars. 'Customers are free to use their Xfinity Internet service to visit any website or use it however they wish otherwise.' While Comcast publishes an acceptable use policy, the company 'doesn’t monitor users' browser software or Web surfing and has no program addressing the Tor browser,' Douglas said."

Arab nations offer airstrikes against Islamic State:  "Several Arab countries have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State, senior State Department officials said Sunday. The offer was disclosed by U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is approaching the end of a weeklong trip that was intended to mobilize international support for the campaign against the group."

European Space Agency picks site for first comet landing in November:  "The European Space Agency says it has decided on the spot where it will attempt the first landing on a comet, a maneuver that is one of the key elements of a decade-long mission. The Paris-based agency plans to drop the 100-kilogram (220-pound) lander, called Philae, from its Rosetta space probe in November. Scientists unanimously picked the landing spot, from five considered, on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko based on its relatively safe terrain."

NFL domestic violence crisis: Do they play next week?:  "The Ray Rice scandal has finally affected Greg Hardy. Both football players were arrested for domestic violence earlier this year. Initially, Rice was given a two-game suspension; Hardy who was later convicted, was not suspended. But [when] a video of Rice knocking out his wife [became] public, Rice [was] suspended indefinitely by the National Football League and fired by the Ravens. Hardy, a Carolina Panthers all-pro linebacker convicted in July on two counts of assault on a female and communicating threats, [had] faced no league suspension. ... Sunday morning, the Panthers deactivated Hardy, meaning he [didn't] play against the Detroit Lions. This [came] after the Minnesota Vikings deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson in connection with his arrest on charges of reckless or negligent injury to [his own 4-year-old] child."

NY: Oligopolists  launch $3 million anti-Airbnb campaign: "A coalition of New York politicians, housing advocates [sic], labor [sic] groups and hotel owners on Friday launched a $3 million campaign against Airbnb and other websites that facilitate 'illegal hotels,' a spokesman for the organization said. The group, called Share Better, aims to counter the Airbnb media campaign that features upbeat stories of regular people renting out their homes and sharing meals or other experiences with their guests."

NATO’s reckless Russia-baiting:  "Ever expanding its membership eastwards towards the Russian border, showing a willingness to intervene in territories picked almost at random, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, and regularly announcing its intention to 'promote' security and stability throughout 'the globe,' NATO has acted increasingly provocatively and recklessly towards Russia. And what's more, it has done so not because it has a clear strategy to 'encircle' the old enemy, as some critical commentators have speculated; rather, its two-decades’ worth of hyperactivity is born of a crisis of purpose, an absence of strategy."


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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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