Monday, January 12, 2015
Worldwide, the Left are critical of patriotism. They hate the world they live in and that includes their own country. Most Americans, however, are very patriotic. So Democrat politicians are very defensive about patriotism. Like Leftists everywhere they are not patriotic but in America they dare not admit it. "Are you questioning my patriotism?" Democrat politicians sometimes huff. The correct answer to that would generally be: "Yes". But conservatives are usually too polite to say that.
In England, patriotism has been under elite attack for around a century but it still hangs on. Below is a very patriotic hymn from Britain which is still frequently sung. Note that both the Queen and the (Conservative) Prime Minister are present at the recent performance below in the Royal Albert Hall..
The sentiments are definitely of the "my country right or wrong" sort, which is an uncommon view today. The hymn was written around the time of WWI. One reason why that view no longer prevails is that such a defence was disallowed at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals immediately after WWII. It was held that German soldiers had a duty to disobey immoral or unethical orders. Just because the orders came from your country's high command was not good enough justification for obeying them. That disobedience to an order in the WWII German armed forces would get you promptly shot did not seem to be considered.
The Nuremberg rules are not however entirely blue sky. The Israeli Defence Force has a "black flag" system. If an officer gives a man what seems an inhumane order, the soldier is duty bound to report that and not to obey the order. It seems to work -- but only because it is taught as part of their military law.
So these days loyalty to your country is mostly based on your country being in the right. And given the chronic feelings of alienation among the Left, it is mainly a conservative virtue.
Leftists, Leftist psychologists particularly, do of course sometimes try to equate patriotism with racism but I carried out an extensive and international research program on exactly that question in the '70s and 80's and found no association between the two attitudes among general populations samples. I know of no subsequent research that has contradicted that. See e.g. here and here and here
Patriotism is of course to be distinguished from nationalism: The feeling that your country has a right to dominate others. You can love your own country while also respecting that other people love theirs. Nationalism seems to have died with Hitler and Tojo's Japan. We do however have a closely related problem: Religious supremacism from Muslims. White and Bushido supremacism may be dead but religious supremacism is very much alive and kicking. It too may eventually need nuclear weapons aimed at selected targets to kill it.
I myself don't much feel great loyalty to one country. I am delighted to have been born and bred in the "Lucky country" but I think the Anglosphere generally has characteristics that I would fight for. Whether I am in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Canada or the USA I feel I am largely among my own people -- people like me in many ways and whom I readily understand -- and that those people have a good balance in values and in what they collectively regard as important.
Just a small footnote: The name "Lucky country" for Australia, was intended as derogatory by Donald Horne, who invented it. He thought Australia became well-off just out of luck. Australia is however roughly at the centre of Anglospheric variation so by that criterion the whole Anglospere is lucky, which would be lucky indeed, considering their considerable differences in history and geographical location. But that is nonsense. The Anglospheric countries are certainly good places to live -- witness the flood of migration toward them -- but they are good places to live because of the people who live in them -- people who generally have respect for others, who are substantially honest, who tolerate diversity, who respect the rule of law and who are generally peaceful in nature. We make our luck.
10 Outrageous Examples of Government Regulators Invading Our Lives
10. Federal Censorship Commission. The FCC began considering a petition to revoke the broadcast license of a Washington, D.C., radio station for using the name of the city’s football team, the Redskins. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler declared the moniker “offensive” and urged owner Dan Snyder to change it “voluntarily.” The agency has yet to rule on the petition.
9. April Fool’s Rule. The Volcker Rule prohibits banks from trading securities on their own accounts. The 1,000-page regulation crafted by five federal agencies over three years supposedly remedies one of the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. But there is no evidence to support that claim. That the rule took effect on April Fool’s Day is thus entirely appropriate.
8. The Environmental Protection Agency’s power grab. In its quest to replace cheap and reliable fossil fuels with costly and unreliable “renewables,” the EPA in June unveiled new restrictions on so-called greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. These hugely expensive regulations are all the more maddening for accomplishing virtually nothing to affect the climate or protect human health.
7. Uber regulation. The popular ride-sharing service Uber is changing the way Americans get around town. Its fleet of independent drivers offers an efficient alternative to traditional taxis. Yet Uber faces significant hurdles as local regulators try to stop its expansion, claiming that the service is “unfair” to the excessively regulated cab drivers. So far, though, Uber and its loyal customers have fought off those opposing competition, but many hurdles remain.
6. Choking Justice. Woe to any business disfavored by the Department of Justice. Under “Operation Chokepoint,” federal regulators have been leaning hard on banks to end ties with enterprises that the government doesn’t like, including payday lenders, firearms dealers and credit repair services. These businesses are perfectly legal, but the DOJ’s efforts to close them down are not.
5. Halting home financing. New regulations on mortgage financing took effect in January, compliments of Dodd-Frank. Virtually every aspect of financing a home – including mortgage options, eligibility standards, and even the structure and schedule of payments – is now governed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Alas, critics’ predictions about the restrictions are proving correct: Mortgage lending is running at its lowest level in 13 years, and 2014 will be the worst year for mortgage volume since 2000.
4. Force feeding calorie counts. Knowing the number of calories in various food products does not change our menu choices, several studies have shown. But in keeping with government’s insatiable appetite for control, the Food and Drug Administration in November finalized rules requiring calorie counts to be posted on restaurant menus, supermarket deli cases, vending machines and even in movie theater concessions. Compliance will require tens of millions of hours each year, which is sure to thin consumers’ wallets.
3. Forgetting free speech. In one of the worst public policy decisions in European history (and that’s saying a lot), the European Union ruled in May that links to embarrassing information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” must be scrubbed from the Internet. Thus, Google must take down that 1975 picture of you dancing in a leisure suit as well as reports on child pornography arrests that regulators deem “irrelevant.” This “right to be forgotten” is a massive violation of free expression in Europe. And it could get worse: The EU is considering applying this gag order worldwide.
2. Polluting the economy. Ozone levels have dropped significantly during the past three decades, reflecting the overall improvement in air quality. Nonetheless, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed more stringent ozone standards that would cost tens of billions of dollars, making it perhaps the most costly regulation ever imposed. (President Obama pulled a 2011 version for threatening the economy – just as the election neared.)
1. Regulating the Internet. The FCC proposed new rules to require Internet carriers to deliver all online content in a “neutral” fashion. Defining such neutrality is, of course, easier said than done, and doing so without harm to the Internet would be virtually impossible. President Obama recently upped the ante by urging regulators to impose 1930s-style public utility rules on the net. But the Internet is too important, and innovative, to be treated like the local water company.
Kill Subsidies to Big Sugar
Taking candy from a baby is easy. Taking sugar from a senator? Not so much. For decades, economists, free market think tanks, good-government advocates, newspaper columnists, and even the occasional elected official have decried the special treatment enjoyed by the American sugar industry.
Under current policies, U.S. sugarcane and sugar beet farmers receive minimum price guarantees regardless of market conditions. In addition, the federal government allots 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market to domestic producers, and it imposes quotas and tariffs on the 40 countries that are allowed to export sugar to America.
In 1993, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) estimated that such policies were costing U.S. consumers $1.4 billion a year because they resulted in "higher prices for domestic sugar." Twenty years later, the University of Michigan–Flint economist Mark J. Perry estimated that this annual cost had grown to $3 billion by 2012, and that consumers and U.S. sugar-using businesses had paid "more than twice the world price of sugar on average since 1982."
In other words, sugar producers are getting a sweet deal, while consumers are getting screwed.
Alas, it's not just the nation's 3,913 sugar beet farms and 666 sugarcane farms that crave the sugar program's artificially sweetened revenues. The program also persists because it offers a steady source of money to elected officials.
In a June 2014 report, Bryan Riley, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, noted that while sugar constitutes just 2 percent of the total value of U.S. crop production, the nation's sugar farmers account for 35 percent of the crop industry's total campaign contributions and 40 percent of its lobbying expenditures.
Over the years, major sugar companies such as American Crystal Sugar and Florida Crystals have donated millions of dollars to individual candidates and political action committees. According to OpenSecrets.org, the industry as a whole has donated $41.7 million since 1990. Traditionally it has contributed more to Democrats than Republicans, but in the 2012 election cycle it split its contributions 50/50.
The industry's aggressive lobbying gets results. In 2008, for example, the U.S. sugar trade got somewhat less regulated, when provisions that were drafted as part of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement finally kicked in and gave Mexican producers the ability to import unlimited amounts of duty-free sugar to the U.S. In March 2014, however, the U.S. sugar industry accused Mexican producers of dumping their crops on the U.S. market—i.e., selling it for less than the cost of its production, or for less than its domestic price—and asked the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce to take corrective action.
In October, Commerce announced an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico that will "prevent imports from being concentrated during certain times of the year, limit the amount of refined sugar that may enter the U.S. market, and establish minimum price mechanism to guard against undercutting or suppression of U.S. prices." So don't expect a price cut on Snickers bars any time soon.
Perhaps because the extra $3 billion we spend on sugar each year is amortized over a few hundred billion cans of soda and other sugar-laden treats, consumers don't seem to mind it much.
Greg BeatoAnd yet if we're truly in the midst of a "libertarian moment," when everyday Americans are supposedly fed up with politics as usual and corporate cronyism, how does sugar protectionism remain as American as apple pie? If there ever was a cause that might still inspire comity amongst the highly polarized populous, surely it's sugar.
Indeed, while 11 other countries consume more sugar per capita than the U.S. does, the average American still enjoys around 75 pounds of sugar a year. (This figure doesn't include high fructose corn syrup, zero-calorie artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose, or zero-calorie naturally derived sweeteners such as stevia.) Our appetite for the stuff cuts across all demographics: Whether you're a progressive elitist snapping up $5 Cronuts in Manhattan or a red-state value shopper buying club packs of Little Debbie Nutty Bars at Costco, you stand to gain from lower sugar prices.
Naturally, sugar farming lobbyists insist this isn't the case. "Sure, cheap subsidized foreign sugar might sound great," exclaims an American Sugar Alliance (ASA) promotional video that alludes to the fact that sugar farmers in Brazil, Mexico, and other countries benefit from their own homegrown subsidy programs. "But depending on others for food never works out as expected."
If we lose our strategic capacity to plant sugar crops, the video suggests, we'll compromise our food security, putting ourselves at the mercy of foreign sugar overlords able to increase prices when global supplies tighten. In October 2013, Tom Giovanetti, president of a Dallas-based research organization called the Institute for Policy Innovation, elaborated on this theme in an essay that argues against unilateral U.S. sugar subsidy disarmament. "Eventually," he concluded, "foreign producers would take advantage of a decimated U.S. domestic sugar industry and would raise prices on U.S. consumers."
But could Brazil—"the OPEC of sugar," according to the ASA—really jack up prices until even those club packs of Little Debbie bars become a rare delicacy only the 1 percent can afford?
"Why on earth wouldn't another producer come and try to take some market share if he sees a monopolist raking in the money?" asks Ike Brannon, formerly chief economist of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and now a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute, in a May 2014 editorial that appeared in USA Today.
Indeed, in a U.S. market free of price supports, allotments, tariffs, and quotas, Brazil wouldn't just be competing with domestic producers for America's business. It'd be competing with the hundred other countries where sugar farming occurs. And as the American Sugar Alliance and various other sugar farming advocates have themselves pointed out, scores of additional countries are just as willing as Brazil or Mexico to subsidize their crops. So if one country even started flirting with the idea of raising prices to non-competitive levels, others would jump at the opportunity to gain a foothold in the large U.S. market by offering more attractive prices.
The truth is that America's food security would in no way be jeopardized by the loss of a domestic sugar industry. Even America's Ding Dongs security would remain intact. "Sugar is a global commodity, with hundreds of thousands of producers all over the world," Perry explains. "This weakens the possibility that one could ever have market power over the U.S. Also there are close substitutes for sugar, like high fructose corn syrup and honey, which further weakens the case that the U.S. could ever be at the mercy of one country, or even a small group of them."
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM