Sunday, September 14, 2014

Well said

Written by Prof. Gad Saad a couple of years ago but well worth re-running

As someone who grew up in the Middle East and who was fortunate enough to escape the horrors of genocidal religious hatred stemming from the Lebanese civil war (see my earlier post regarding my childhood in Lebanon here), I am immeasurably thankful for the Western liberal values that allowed immigrants such as myself to flourish in a society without fear of being persecuted if not killed. Regrettably, over the past four decades or so, the West has been progressively slumping into an abyss of self-hatred (see my earlier post on this issue here) and a cancerous and self-destructive ethos of political correctness and more generally a departure from common sense (see my earlier post on this matter here).

Amongst Western intelligentsia, to criticize if not loathe American values is viewed as progressive and liberal whilst to support brutal and intolerant religious and political ideologies is a hallmark of being enlightened. It is the freedoms afforded by America that permits Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political activist, to spew endless antipathy toward the United States while championing astonishingly brutal regimes.

Apparently, Professor Chomsky is unaware of what would happen to him (a Jewish man) if he were to live in Gaza and offer similarly trenchant criticisms of Hamas. Moral relativism has so infected the minds of Western intellectuals that they are now simply incapable of criticizing how others organize their societies (see my earlier post on moral relativism here). It is apparently gauche to do so.

We should all reject such suicidal nonsense. A central feature of being a tolerant and just society is to be intolerant of ideologies that are contrary to our shared values of liberty, freedom, and equality. A pluralistic and free society functions well only if all of its members support its defining values (see my recent post here on the failure of multiculturalism as a political philosophy).



Worth thinking about


Study shows conservatives are happier than liberals

This is a common finding -- JR

Conservatives don’t normally pay much attention to fancy psychobabble, but this is a worthy exception. Some nerdlinger social scientists in America have discovered that people with Right-wing views tend to be happier than those with Left-wing views – even if the party that best represents them is out of power. This gem is based upon data involving more than a million people living in 16 European countries, including the UK, and it puts pay to the Left-wing thesis that they’re the happiest people on the planet because they’re in touch with their inner-dolphin. Turns out that spending your youth sitting on a beanbag smoking a joss-stick and talking about how, like, "systems are crushing us" is not the only path to enlightenment. Au contraire, mon hippie, it’s a distraction.

Why are conservatives happier? The research found that Right-wingers tend not to blame their problems on other people – so they refuse to be depressed by victimhood. This makes a lot of sense. When you accept that you are your own master, then you feel in command of your own destiny and, so, more inclined to address your crises rather than bury them in political melodrama. The Left’s emphasis upon social solidarity is all very well, but reliance upon others can lead to inaction, disappointment or resentment – and the constant belief that capitalism is a global plot to deprive you of whatever you want in life inevitably grinds you down. Are the guys in ponytails who sit in vegan cafes strumming a guitar and singing sad songs about the World Bank really happy? Probably not. By contrast, self-reliance leads to autonomy which leads to getting stuff done and regarding your fellow citizens not as taxpayers or state employees but as individuals and friends. It’s full o’zip and p.o.s.i.t.i.v.i.t.y!

Ah, yes, there’s a certainly simplicity to being Right-wing. Not “simple” in the sense of “unthinking” but in the sense of thinking carefully about everything and then coming to the conclusion that what really matters are the simple things.

Alternatively, you could do what a lot of Right-wingers have done and convert to Christianity. Oddly the study doesn’t acknowledge research that shows that believers are happier than non-believers – and that they become happier the more times they pray or go to church. All of which must make Richard Dawkins the saddest man on the planet.

SOURCE Journal abstract follows:

The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals

Okulicz-Kozaryn A, Holmes O, Avery DR.


Political scientists traditionally have analyzed the effect of politics on subjective well-being (SWB) at the collective level, finding that more liberal countries report greater SWB. Conversely, psychologists have focused primarily on SWB at the individual level and shown that being more conservative corresponds in greater SWB. We integrate the theoretical foundations of these 2 literatures (e.g., livability and system justification theories) to compare and contrast the effects of country- and individual-level political orientation on SWB simultaneously. Using a panel of 16 West European countries representative of 1,134,384 individuals from 1970 to 2002, we demonstrated this SWB political paradox: More liberal countries and more conservative individuals had higher levels of SWB. More important, we explored measurement as a moderator of the political orientation-SWB relationship to shed some light on why this paradox exists. When orientation is measured in terms of enacted values (i.e., what the government actually does), liberalism corresponds in higher SWB, but when politics is measured in terms of espoused values (i.e., what individuals believe), greater conservatism coincided in higher SWB.

J Appl Psychol. 2014 Aug 25

Frightened Turtles


I would like to remind readers that we live in a country that is barely free. If we lived in ideal political conditions in which the only flaw might be a border closed to some or all immigration, the "open borders" argument might hold water. But we live in a growing authoritarian or police state.

This is an issue which many intellectuals - including some I should logically regard as moral and intellectual allies - shy away from like frightened turtles.

This country for too long has been the plaything of statists and "social engineers" of every stripe - Republicans, Democrats, environmentalists, welfare statists, special interests or lobbyists, and so on. President Barack Obama is the apex and end heir of every statist law and notion ever proposed or legislated, ever since ratification of the Constitution, even as the ink on it was barely dry - and Obama is the logical end of all those unopposed laws and policies. He loots without care or thought of whatever might replace the looted wealth and nullified rights - except for stage-managed anarchy and beating into submission the American spirit.

Obama practices Islamic taqiyya, which is saying one thing in his woozy, folksy style English, but meaning something else. Most readers here, instead of conceding that Obama is a nihilist, buy the official line that he is merely a rudderless, arrogantly insouciant pragmatist. Actually, his predecessor, George W. Bush, was a card-carrying pragmatist, formulating his policies on the premise that he could preserve that status quo - whatever that might have been - by denying the deadly peril of Islam. However, Obama, who administration has been top-heavy with Muslims from his first term, is a rotten-to-the-bone nihilist steeped in "community organizing" and a subscriber to the agenda of the "socialist transformation" of the country into a super-size European Union. Some intellectuals of my acquaintance deny that he is a nihilist, and instead call him a rudderless pragmatist or assign him some other non-condemnatory appellation.

This is not observing his behavior and actions with any kind of objectivity. It is an evasion of the evidence of one's senses. Waiting for Obamacare to collapse? Waiting for Obama to okay the Keystone Pipeline? Waiting for him to put together a "Coalition of the Reluctant" to combat ISIS? Waiting for him to rein in our lawless Attorney General, Eric Holder, or to order any number of federal agencies to stop spying and threatening private citizens and organizations that question federal power? Take a number.

Yes, immigrants in the past and in recent times have come to this country for the freedom to work and enjoy the fruits of their productivity. That was when the INS had semi-rational criteria on entrance to the country. But waves of Muslims with their own colonizing and settlement agenda and hordes of illegals from Mexico and points south have been streaming in almost unopposed. Mixed in with these numbers are also Muslims and jihadists of every terrorist stripe, especially now from ISIS. Not to mention criminals with records in their native countries.

Many illegals are not coming to America to reinvent the wheel. Many of them are coming and have come to game the welfare state, and are not truly "yearning to be free," except on the dole.

Many readers here deny that is the case. But all they can do is talk, talk, talk the fine points of a philosophy of reason to prove their ideological purity, even in the face of their and America's slow demise. "We stand for open borders, never mind that we're being swamped with illiterate aliens whose room and board and education we are expected to pay for; never mind many of them are diseased - many of them children now being seated in public school classrooms with native born American children; never mind the malevolent designs of a president who is seeking to bolster the Democrats' death grip on this country, and who has demonstrated repeatedly his hostility to this country, to Western culture, and to Western civilization. None of that is important."

They think and say this while they're being eaten alive by the drooling beast of Obama's policies. They refuse to contemplate the horrible notion that they and every other American have been "played."

Well, what's wrong, one might ask, with enrolling illegal immigrant children in school? Does any reader here seriously believe that they will be imbued with the American spirit of independence and self-reliance? If native born American children are being brainwashed by Common Core and anti-American curricula in their studies, and the leftwing teachers' unions to regard themselves as unexceptional and that "they didn't build that," what are the chances of illiterate illegals having flashes of insight that our educational establishment is a scam and has been for decades.

I think one of the most off-base remarks made in "Immigration and the Welfare State" is:

    In addition to the economic gain, there is an important security benefit to an open immigration policy. Since it is a great boon to an immigrant to be in the country legally rather than illegally, the overwhelming majority, given the choice, will walk in through the front door, thereby initiating the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. The flood of migrant workers seeking to illegally sneak across the Mexican border will reduce to a trickle. The money and manpower currently deployed to keep Mexican workers out of the country can then be used to keep Middle Eastern Islamic terrorists out of the country.

Has the author ever heard of Obama's blueprint for across the board "amnesty," the Dream Act, of legislation sanctioning the instant, automatic citizenship, with full welfare state benefits, for numberless illegals? Isn't this legislation grossly unfair to those who spent years working for their citizenship, and who might have had to wait years to gain admittance to the country per the Immigration and Naturalization Service's now politically governed - and, frankly, racist - rules?

And is Obama really interested in keeping Islamic terrorists out of the country? To judge by his actions and his policies - one of which is for the U.S. to train "moderate" terrorists to combat "extreme" terrorists - I think not.

There is another statement by Bernstein that I take exception to:

    "Some argue that because of America's current welfare state, the country cannot afford an open immigration policy. This is false for two reasons. One is that a welfare state is pernicious to both those funding it and those parasitical off of it; the former, because they're robbed-the latter because its perverse financial incentives support men's most indolent premises, and seduce onto the dole many who could otherwise gain minimum wage employment. From purely humanitarian considerations, the welfare state must be irrevocably dismantled, regardless of America's immigration policy"

Yes, the welfare state must be dismantled and abolished. But, when will that happen? Those who come here either game the welfare state or wind up depending on it. They are supposed to replace the "simpering Americans" who regard the country as a paradise of entitlement. How? Our economy is moribund and few new jobs - middle or low-paying - are being created, except in the "public sector." We have an expanding public sector and an ever-shrinking private sector. Where are the new jobs going to materialize? In a command economy such as ours, which sector will see the greater growth?

My main point here, however, is that because we are living in a virtual state of siege - the "homeland" is now "Fortress America" that refuses to identify a hostile, murderous foreign enemy, Islam, hampered by a plethora of controls and prohibitions on virtually every aspect of American life - we are in a no-win conundrum that will only resolve itself with a political and concomitant philosophical collapse of the altruist morality that sustains an ever-omnivorous state - or a revolution. These are scenarios which "official" Objectivists are reluctant to contemplate or discuss.

The Founders weren't.



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