Wednesday, May 27, 2015
THE AGE OF COMMUNISM LIVES ON
What is described below is reprehensible but it is not mysterious. It is understandable if you realize that the only things important to Leftists are their hates. Hitler's prime hate (the Jews) is not their hate. Stalin's prime hate (rich people) is their hate. So Stalin is to them a good guy, even if they are cautious about saying so
It was twenty-five years ago, but it feels like yesterday. When seeing the images of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I cried with joy, took out my best bottle of French wine, left the television on, and listened to Beethoven’s Ninth over and over and over. If you didn’t live through it, know that there was nothing like it. What we need to be reminded of, however, are the stakes and what didn’t happen in the wake of the fall.
In addition to the tyranny, the torture, and the assault upon the human spirit, the slaughtered victims of communism were not the thousands of the Inquisition, not the thousands of Americans lynched, not even the six million dead from Nazi extermination. The best scholarship yields numbers that the soul must try to comprehend: scores and scores and scores of millions of individual human bodies, which is what makes the work of Lee Edwards in keeping alive in our minds the victims of communism so morally essential, so morally vital.
Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachev’s right hand man, who examined the archives for the last Soviet leader and who came away a deeply changed and heroic man, let us know that 60 million were slain in the Soviet Union alone. The Chinese author Jung Chang, who had access to scores of Mao Zedong’s collaborators and to the detailed Russian and local archives, reached the figure of 70 million Chinese lives snuffed out by Mao’s deliberate choices. If we count those dead of starvation from the communist ability and desire to experiment with human interaction in agriculture—20 million to 40 million in three years—we may add scores of millions more.
The communist Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, who was educated in France and taught his politics by French communist intellectuals, butchered one-fifth to one-fourth of the entire Cambodian population. That would be as if an American regime had murdered some 50 to 70 million of its people. In each and every communist regime, countless people were shot and died by deliberate exposure, starved and murdered in work camps and prisons meant to extract every last fiber of labor before they die. No cause ever in the history of all mankind has produced more slaughtered innocents and more orphans than communism. It was a system of production that surpassed all others in turning out the dead.
What should one have expected after the fall of the Berlin wall? What didn’t occur? Where were the celebrations and the accountings? Where was the recognition of the ineffable value of a truly limited government? Our schools, universities and media do not teach our children any differently now about the human consequences of liberty, of voluntary economic societies, and of limited government in the real world. Our children do not know in any domain what happened under communism. Those who depend on our media and our films do not know. We live without self-belief and without any moral understanding of the extraordinary place of America, of its values, of its liberty, and of those leaders who won the Cold War for the dignity and the benefit of humankind.
Imagine if World War II had ended in a stalemate with a European Nazi empire from the Urals to the English Channel soon to be armed with nuclear weapons and in mortal contest with the United States in a peace kept only by deterrence. Would progressive children have sung, “All we are saying is give peace a chance” beneath symbols of unilateral disarmament? Would our intellectuals have mocked the phrase “evil empire”? What were the differences? Deaths? Camps? The desolation of the flesh and of the spirit? Solzhenitsyn had it exactly right about the Soviets, “No other regime on earth could compare with it either in the number of those it had done to death, in heartiness, in the range of its ambitions, in its thoroughgoing and unmitigated totalitarianism—no, not even the regime of its pupil, Hitler” (from the Gulag Archipelago). What would the celebration have been like if after two generations the swastika at last had fallen in place of the hammer and the sickle?
The communist holocaust, like the Nazi, should have brought forth a flowering of Western art, witness, sympathy, and an ocean of tears, and then a celebration at its downfall. Instead, it has called forth a glacier of indifference. Kids who in the 1960s hung portraits of Lenin, Mao, and Che on their college walls—the moral equivalent of having hung portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, or Horst Wessel in one’s dorm—came to teach our children about the moral superiority of their generation. Every historical textbook lingers on the crimes of Nazism—rightly so—seeks their root causes, draws a lesson from them, and everybody knows the number six million. By contrast, the same textbooks remain silent about the catastrophe of communism, everywhere it held or holds power. Ask any college freshman—try it if you don’t believe me— how many died under Stalin’s regime and they will answer even now, “Thousands? Tens of thousands?” It is the equivalent of believing that Hitler killed hundreds of Jews.
The scandal of such ignorance derives from an intellectual culture’s willful blindness to the catastrophe of its relative sympathies. Most of Europe has outlawed the neo-Nazis, but the French Communist Party from 1999 to 2002 was part of a ruling government. One may not fly the swastika, but one may hoist the hammer and sickle at official events. The denial of Hitler’s dead or the minimization of the Jewish Holocaust is literally a crime in most of Europe. The denial or minimization of communist crimes is an intellectual and political art form, and the fast track to a successful academic career. “Anti-fascist” is a term of honor; “anti-communist” is a term of ridicule and abuse.
Another medical backflip: Cholesterol scare dying at last
The truth has been known for decades but it takes a lot to get through to officialdom and attention-seeking researchers
For decades they have been blacklisted as foods to avoid, the cause of deadly thickening of the arteries, heart disease and strokes. But the science which warned us off eating eggs – along with other high-cholesterol foods such as butter, shellfish, bacon and liver – could have been flawed, a key report in the US has found.
A growing number of experts have been arguing there is no link between high cholesterol in food and dangerous levels of the fatty substance in the blood.
Now, in a move signalling a dramatic change of stance on the issue, the US government is to accept advice to drop cholesterol from its list of 'nutrients of concern'.
The US Department of Agriculture panel, which has been given the task of overhauling the guidelines every five years, has indicated it will bow to new research undermining the role dietary cholesterol plays in people's heart health.
Its Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee plans to no longer warn people to avoid eggs, shellfish and other cholesterol-laden foods.
The U-turn, based on a report by the committee, will undo almost 40 years of public health warnings about eating food laden with cholesterol. US cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic, said: 'It's the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They've been wrong for decades.'
China is catching up. Will it also forge ahead?
Will China stop getting richer once it has pulled level with the USA? U.S. economic performance has become so poor that China may not have to do much to do better
U.S. productivity growth declined from 2.8% per annum in the period 1948-73 to 1.8% per annum in 1974-2010 to 0.6% per annum in 2011-15 – almost entirely owing to regulation rather than to public sector bloat, which has increased only moderately since 1970. However the EPA and other big regulatory agencies date to the 1970s, and coincide eerily with the end of the post-war U.S. productivity bonanza. Monetary policy, by distorting the free market's asset allocation process, undoubtedly bears part of the responsibility for the further post-2011 slump in productivity, but there's no question the Obama administration's thirst for regulation has made matters worse. Only in retrospect will we be able to allocate blame accurately between the two factors.
As well as a bloated public sector and excessive regulation, there are other ways in which rich countries increasingly diverge from the free-market ideal. Infrastructure projects' costs are outrageous in modern Western economies, a large multiple in real terms of their costs 50 or 100 years ago. That's not because we have got less efficient at laying concrete or building bridges. It's because of the tangled mass of regulations on safety, environmentalism, workforce and other matters, none of which are costed properly, each of which adds substantially to the expense and delay in building infrastructure, and the combination of which is devastating.
Another pernicious addition to modern Western economies is the charitable sector. This has expanded to about 7% of GDP in the United States, driven by innumerable unjustifiable tax exemptions that allow the very rich to pay a fraction of the taxes paid by middle class people. These charities mostly bring benefits of only a tiny fraction of their costs – the Clinton Foundation, devoting only 3% of their tax-deductible donations to genuine charitable purposes, is all too typical. However charities' activities in diverting resources to themselves and providing political support for the worst political boondoggles makes their cost to the economy far greater than even their direct absorption of resources. Western economists complain about the inefficiency of fuel subsidies in poor countries such as India and Venezuela; in reality charity tax subsidies in the West are just as economically damaging.
Modern intellectual property rules, with innumerable competing patents and copyright lives stretching towards a century, reduce the level of true innovation and turn the tech and creative sectors into pure rent seekers. In these sectors, profitability is maximized not through innovation but by forcing competitors out of the market through copyright and patent manipulation, thereby prolonging the super-profitable lives of old innovations and creative works.
Finally the ultra-low interest rates of the last 7 years have sapped Western savings (a tendency exacerbated by generous welfare systems). With savings inadequate, the capital endowments of Western economies have shrunk and have also been diverted into unproductive speculation and asset investment. Anyone who thinks the current [high] level of London house prices does anything at all for the true wealth and productivity of the British economy is living in economic dreamland.
Entrepreneurs are not 'lottery winners'
America's inventors deserve credit for their work, but Obama dismisses them as lucky
There he goes again. Barack Obama, who insists he is "president of all America," lashed out last week at well-off citizens. Peddling higher taxes to further fund the failed 50-year-old, $22 trillion War on Poverty, he singled out the "top 25 hedge fund managers" for scorn at Georgetown University, President Obama's class-envy diatribe applies to everyone who has earned too much for his taste. "You pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use," Obama scoffed — as if capitalists stash their capital like toilet paper in the utility closet.
Our president then casually derided America's top achievers as "society's lottery winners" who need to stop being selfish and start being their "brother's keepers."
For radical progressives, life is a Powerball drawing. Success is random. Economic achievement is something to be rectified and redistributed to assuage guilt. Only those who take money, not those who make it by offering goods and services people want and need, act in the public interest. Those who seek financial enrichment for the fruits of their labor are cast as rapacious hoarders in Obama World — and so are the private investors who support them.
Wealth-shaming is a recurrent leitmotif in the Obama administration's gospel of government dependency.
In 2010, the president proclaimed, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money." In the summer of 2012, he openly denigrated American's makers and builders because someone else "invested in roads and bridges." Team Obama argued that his "you didn't build that" remarks were taken out of context. But let's remember what he said immediately preceding that infamous sound bite:
Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, 'Well, it must be because I was just so smart.' There are a lot of smart people out there. 'It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.' Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
The context then and now makes Obama's incurable contempt for private entrepreneurial accomplishments even clearer. Pushing to raise taxes even higher on wealthy Americans, Obama stoked you-think-you're-so-smart resentment of business owners. His intent was to humiliate those who reject collectivism. The president's message: Innovators are nothing special. Their brains and work ethics are no different from anyone else's. They owe their success to taxpayers, public school teachers, public infrastructure — and unfair dumb luck.
The progressives' government-built-that ethos is anathema to our Founding Fathers' first principles. They understood that the ability of brilliant, ambitious individuals to reap private rewards for inventions and improvements benefited the public good. This revolutionary idea is a hallmark of American exceptionalism and entrepreneurship. Alexis de Tocqueville observed that the doctrine of enlightened "self-interest rightly understood" was a part of America's DNA from its founding. "You may trace it at the bottom of all their actions, you will remark it in all they say. It is as often asserted by the poor man as by the rich," de Tocqueville wrote.
Francis Grund, a contemporary of de Tocqueville's, also noted firsthand America's insatiable willingness to work. "Active occupation is not only the principal source of their happiness, and the foundation of their natural greatness, but they are absolutely wretched without it. …Business is the very soul of an American," he wrote.
Here is the marvel Obama and his command-and-control cronies fail to comprehend: From the Industrial Age to the Internet Age, the concentric circles of American innovation in the free marketplace are infinite. This miracle repeats itself millions of times a day through the voluntary interactions, exchanges and business partnerships of creative Americans and their clients, consumers and investors. No federal Department of Innovation or Ten-Point White House Action Plan for Progress can lay claim to the boundless synergies of these profit-earning capitalists.
Of course, they benefit from the "help" of others. But America's best and brightest wealth creators deserve the ultimate credit for the fruits of their individual minds and the untold byproducts of their labor. And no, President Obama, they didn't just get a better roll of the dice. They were smarter, faster, more daring and more hardworking than everyone else, including you and me.
We owe them, not the other way around.
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Posted by JR at 12:34 AM