Tuesday, May 03, 2016
The Surprising Weakness of Invincible Institutions
Richard Fernandez (of "Belmont Club" fame) is always an interesting thinker and he makes a case below for expecting all tyrannies to collapse under their own weight eventually -- including the tyranny of America's Leftist-led bureaucratic state. He gives various examples of it happening rather suddenly and unexpectedly but omits the very best example of that -- perhaps because he thinks we know all that already. I am referring to the quite sudden implosion of the Soviet state. What always seemed to be a powerful and solid entity suddenly just melted down.
The unanswered question, however, is how long it will take for a tyranny to crumble. The Soviet beast blighted people's lives for 70 years and the personal dictatorships of Tito in Yugoslavia, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal lasted for the lifetimes of the tyrants concerned.
Just an excerpt below as the article is rather long
Winston Churchill memorably predicted the end of the German East Asia Squadron when it slipped out of Tsing-tao harbor under Admiral Maximilian von Spee. "He was a cut flower in a vase, fair to see yet bound to die." Winston knew that the Spee's s squadron however imposing and bravely led had no means of support. Sooner or later it would come to grief, which it duly did.
The same calculation must apply to the giant bureaucracies that pretend to rule the world. At first glance there is nothing seemingly more formidable than the interlocking shield wall of public institutions and public sector unions. One writer argued that JFK was "the real killer of Laquan McDonald" because he first authorized public employee unions and "police unions make it impossible to get rid of bad-apple cops". Camelot had created a Frankenstein monster able to run roughshod over everything.
Yet it's a monster which just can't seem to do much. For example the Washington Metro, the pride of the nation's capital, is collapsing. Once "it was a rail system of the future. Then, reality set in." Perhaps the most telling indicator of fundamental weakness is the public pension crisis. A study by the Hoover Institution covering 97% of all state and local governments found that politicians have little or no ability to meet their pension promises.
Most state and local governments in the United States offer retirement beneﬁts to their employees in the form of guaranteed pensions. To fund these promises, the governments contribute taxpayer money to public systems. Even under states’ own disclosures and optimistic assumptions about future investment returns, assets in the pension systems will be insufﬁcient to pay for the pensions of current public employees and retirees. Taxpayer resources will eventually have to make up the difference. ... In aggregate, the 564 state and local systems in the United States covered in this study reported $1.191 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities (net pension liabilities) under GASB 67 in FY 2014. ...
What is in fact going on is that the governments are borrowing from workers and promising to repay that debt when they retire.
How do bureaucracies get so big they can't pay themselves? Assertions that it "can't possible happen" are refuted by history in instances ranging from Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, which turned thousands of clergy starving into the streets to recent examples like the collapse of Soviet pensions or the debasement of the Greek pension system.
In each of these cases the impossible happened, just as it's happening in Venezuela, where Joel Hirst describes the collapse of a whole system. "I never expected to witness the slow suicide of a country, a civilization. I suppose nobody does."
Venezuela is the socialist object lesson of our generation
Venezuela’s largest bill, the 100-bolivar note, today barely pays for a loose cigarette at a street kiosk.
Even a year ago when we were there, when the worst of the inflation hadn’t yet kicked in, we had to take wads of cash in duffle bags just to buy lunch. Preparing for a day’s shopping felt like doing a drug deal as you counted out dozens or even hundreds of notes just to buy a jacket or shirt.
It breaks my heart to know that this is an entirely man-made tragedy, with desperate people turning to crime, prostitution, violence, and dying of preventable disease and if something doesn’t change soon, malnutrition.
I spoke on the lessons of what I saw in Venezuela at last years Australian Libertarian Society conference, and said then that it was only a matter of time before there would be blood in the streets. The locals we spoke to told us they expected open warfare and blood running the gutters before the next presidential elections. On the current trajectory, they’re not far wrong.
The military are bought-and-paid-for Chavistas, now loyal to President Maduro, and they’ve shown already their willingness to use deadly force against anyone guilty of protesting against the government. The people are disarmed, apart from the drug traffickers and the like, and so when the pay cheques to the military stop, and that will have to happen soon given that the government can’t even afford to keep printing money… then those guns will be used by the military to take food, money, and whatever else they want from the disarmed public.
Watch and learn. Socialism doesn’t lead to equality, peace, prosperity, or unicorns frolicking in the garden with rainbows coming out their asses. Socialism impoverishes an entire nation, hitting the poorest people the hardest. It leads first to where Greece is, then if you continue it leads to Venezuela, then if you persist with the madness you’ll soon arrive at North Korea.
Socialism leads to totalitarianism as the government continuously clamps down on anything and everything in a desperate attempt to keep a doomed-to-fail system working. There is no other trajectory for socialism to take.
Black Power, A Done Deal
A couple of people recently have drawn my attention to the 2014 article below by Fred Reed. It does make a striking point
It is curious that blacks, the least educated thirteen percent of the population, the least productive, most criminal, and most dependent on governmental charity, should dominate national politics. Yet they do. Virtually everything revolves around what blacks want, demand, do, or can’t do. Their power seems without limit.
Courses of instruction in the schools, academic rigor, codes of dress, rules regarding unceasing obscenity, all must be set to suit them, as must be examinations for promotion in fire departments, the military, and police forces. Blacks must be admitted to universities for which they are not remotely qualified, where departments of Black Studies must be established to please them. Corporate work forces, federal departments, and elite high-schools must be judged not on whether they perform their functions but on whether they have the right number of blacks.
Do laws requiring identification to vote threaten to end multiple voting? The laws must go. Do blacks not like Confederate flags? Adieu, flags. Does Huckleberry Finn go down the Mississippi with the Nigger Jim, or Conrad write The Nigger of the Narcissus? These must be banned or expurgated to please blacks who haven’t read them or, usually, heard of them. Do we want to prevent people coming from regions infested with Ebola from entering the United States? We cannot. It would offend blacks.
We must never, ever say or do anything that might upset them, as virtually everything does. It is positively astonishing. One expects the rich and smart to have disproportionate power. But America is dominated from the slums.
One might think that a single set of laws should apply to all citizens, and that things should be done without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin, and that all should have the same rights and responsibilities. It is not so.
The dominance of the media by blacks is impressive. If a white shoots a black to defend himself, it becomes national news for weeks, or months, and riots follow, but when blacks engage in their unending racial attacks on whites, the media demurely look the other way. The attackers are never black. They are “teens.” Reporters who say otherwise are likely to be fired. In effect, the thirteen percent censor the national press.
Much of their mastery has become so deeply engrained as no longer to be noticed. There is the DC Bob. In the bars and restaurants of Washington, a man weary of an incompetent affirmative-action hire in his office will, before commenting to a friend, lean forward, lower his voice, and look furtively over both shoulders to see whether anyone might overhear: The DC Bob. People don’t even know that they are doing this.
Defensive behavior by whites has become nearly universal. A sort of Masonic recognition-ritual occurs among white people recently introduced in social gatherings. Is the other person, for want of better terms, a liberal or a realist? Dare one speak? One of them will say something mildly skeptical about, say, Jesse Jackson. The other rolls his eyes in shared disgust. The secret handshake. Or, if the listener is politically correct, the bait is not taken. In either case, blacks dominate political conversation.
So extreme is the power to control speech and even thought that politicians have to avoid mentioning watermelons, that neighborhoods of high crime must delicately be called “sketchy” instead of “black,” though all understand what is meant.
The avoidance of racial reference is not an even-handed if despotic attempt to oppose racism since, as we all know, blacks freely apply any derogatory wording they choose to whites. In short, they rule. Which is amazing.
The dominance extends to children. When in junior high one of my daughters brought home a science handout with common chemical terms badly misspelled. “Is your teacher black?” I said without thinking. “Daaaaaaady!” she said in anguish, having made the connection but knowing that she shouldn’t have. Blacks control what you can say to your own children in your own home. And of course if I had gone to the school and demanded that the teacher be fired, it would have been evidence of my depravity and probable KKK membership.
The word “unbelievable” has lost all force. Things that ought to be unbelievable, and once were, have become routine. Still, there it was: Don’t expect a junior-high teacher to have the level of literacy I had in the fourth grade. Instead, make it dangerous to notice her stupidity.
This is not new, and it hasn’t changed. In 1981, in a piece for Harper’s, I wrote:
“The bald, statistically verifiable truth is that the teachers' colleges, probably on ideological grounds, have produced an incredible proportion of incompetent black teachers. Evidence of this appears periodically, as, for example, in the results of a competency test given to applicants for teaching positions in Pinellas County, Florida (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater), cited in Time, June 16, 1980. To pass this grueling examination, an applicant had to be able to read at the tenth-grade level and do arithmetic at the eighth-grade level. Though they all held B.A.'s, 25 percent of the whites and 79 percent of the blacks failed. Similar statistics exist for other places.”s
Nothing has changed.
Blacks now control the presidency and thus, most importantly, the Attorney Generalship. In this the staggering political power of blacks is most evident. Obama was elected because he was black: an equally unqualified and negligible white pol would have had no chance. He is now fiercely pushing the most profound transformation of America ever attempted, by opening the floodgates to immigration from the south. To effect this end he apparently will simply ignore Congress. The people will not be consulted.
It is hard to imagine why he does it except from racism, from a desire to get even with whites by enrolling their country in the Third World. A short-sighted policy, yes, since Hispanics do not like blacks and will soon be more powerful—but that will come a bit later.
Note that self-inflicted problems of blacks consume inordinate amounts of public and governmental attention, even though only blacks can solve them. I might say, “should solve them,” since they never have and we all know they won’t. Yet we hear about them endlessly.
Are blacks in Chicago killing each other in large numbers? The solution might be to stop doing it, might it not? While I do not wish these young dead, I can do nothing to stop them, and it is not my problem. Are black children growing up illiterate? This gives me no pleasure, and I have various reasons both selfish and moral to wish it were not so. But perhaps the solution is for their parents, or parent, to see that they do their homework, or even to teach them. I cannot do this for them, and it isn’t my problem.
Why do I have to hear, endlessly, about the “achievement gap”? Whether of genetic or cultural origin, it seems as immutable as Avogadro’s number, and I can do nothing about it. I raise my children. They need to raise theirs.
They rule. It is astonishing.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- about antisemitism in the British Labour party. Apparently the British Left have rediscovered the Haavara Agreement -- with much chortling.
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Posted by JR at 12:34 AM