Monday, August 08, 2016

Equality of respect

There could be few more idiotic assertions than the compulsive Leftist claim that all men are equal.  The obvious fact is that all men are different.  But the absurd assertion does have a purpose.  It is aimed at getting everyone TREATED equally.  That is of course also hopeless but it makes slightly more sense than the original assertion.

So why do Leftists want everyone to be treated equally?  They don't.  They just use the prospect as a battle cry to get the less fortunate segments of society involved in the tearing down of the existing system which is their real aim.  It is just a con.

But conservatives are sufficiently disturbed by the potential aggression behind equality calls to propose a compromise.  Having seen what equality calls led to in Russia, China and elsewhere, it would be most unwise simply to ignore the push for equality.  So conservatives have embraced as a value that there should be equality of opportunity.

But that too is basically unreachable.  All people may (for instance) have an equal opportunity of gaining a High School education but some students -- the brighter ones -- will get more out of it and will go on to better things than the less intelligent students.  So there is no way that all students will have an equal opportunity to move into the top echelons of employment.  And, as a result, we don't hear much about equality of opportunity these days.  Cynicism about it has set in.

But there is one way in which equality can largely be reached and thus sidetrack social unrest.  It is equality of respect.  And I happen to live in a society where equality of respect has largely been achieved -- so it is not an airy-fairy idea. Australia has a national ideology of egalitarianism. It's sometimes summarized as "Jack is as good as his master". People largely treat one another in a friendly manner regardless of who or what they are.  The cleaner and the businessman will both normally speak to one another politely, with no  regard for the differences between them.  There will be no condescension from the businessman and no hostility or suspicion from the cleaner.

It is of course not perfect and social status differences are still there but the attitude that one man is as good as another does rule most interactions.  I am pleased to live in such a friendly society.  Australia does have a national ideology that makes everybody's life less stressful and more peaceful.

Could such an ideology be transplanted elsewhere?  Probably not.  Any attempt to transplant it to class-ridden England would be a joke and the competitive element in American culture would also  rule it out.  But it is nice to know that there is one way in which we can make practical sense of "all men are equal".  They are not equal in Australia but they mostly act as if they were.  Perhaps it's an aspiration for other societies.

Note:  In the above I am speaking of native-born Australians with descent from the British Isles and Northern Europe.  Such people are seen as a single distinct group in Australia.  There are however small East Asian and Indian minorities so what applies to the first group cannot automatically be generalized to minorities.  In my observation, however, the Australian-born Chinese and Indians do assimilate strongly to the majority culture so a lot of what I said above will also be true of them  -- JR

UPDATE:  I have just thought of two things that exemplify what I was talking about above.  The first was a very small event but I was in the presence of a friend when I witnessed it today so I was able to point it out: A mother had drawn four twenties out of a cash machine and gave them to her little daughter aged about 2 to hold.  She was involving the girl in life.  But the little girl dropped them onto the floor.  So did a nearby parasite swoop and grab them?  That would have been the form in some countries which I will decline to name. I travelled widely when I was younger.

No.  The mother, my friend and I were too slow to respond but another lady passing by swooped, picked up the notes and gave them back to the little girl.  It was only a tiny thing but it is an example of how nice Australians are to one another.

Another example is much more significant because it actually involves one of Australia's longest-serving Prime Ministers.  I have noted the event before so I should not have forgotten it above.  PM John Howard was waiting in a line at his local voting station to lodge his vote in favour of himself.  The man in front of him turned and noticed Australia's Prime Minister behind him.  The man said:  "Good to see you.  But I am still not going to vote for you".  Howard told that story with great pleasure on election night. (He won). He saw it as what a great place Australia was that no respect was given to even extreme social differences.  Both men celebrated Australia's real egalitarianism of respect.


Ridiculous Rules For Swordfish, Ceiling Fans, Grain Barges Help Make 2016 The Most Highly Regulated Year In History

With the approval of new rules for catching swordfish, manufacturing cement, and weighing the contents of grain barges, the federal government's listing of regulations surpassed 50,000 pages in length.

Not all-time. Oh, no, no. That's just for this year.

Don't let anyone tell you that nothing gets done in Washington, D.C., these days, because the bureaucratic cogs in the federal machine have been hard at work this year. It's only August, but the Federal Register is on pace to reach more than 85,900 pages before the end of the year—breaking the all-time record of 81,611 pages that was set just last year.

Ryan Young, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute who tracks the daily increases in the federal regulatory state, points out that the compliance cost for regulations approved in 2016 along tally between "$3.92 billion and $6.12 billion."

That's a huge amount of money, and even though it will never show up on a bill or be taken out of a paycheck, it's still being paid in hidden ways.

For a perfect example of this, look at the most expensive regulation passed in the last week, according to Young's tracking, which had do with school lunches.

The feds say those new rules for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program will help save as much as $1.4 billion in long-term costs by reducing childhood obesity. Whether it will accomplish that goal is questionable, but it will only cost a schools an additional 1.5 percent in their food budgets, the government reckons.

Those higher costs will be paid for by students buying lunch, or by school district budgets funded with tax dollars or by federal school lunch subsidy programs funded by tax dollars. It's coming out of someone's pocket, somewhere, that much is certain.

Individually, these are little things. A few more pennies for a school lunch. Extra tests required before motors for ceiling fans can be put on the market. A quota on how many swordfish can be harvested each year. Emissions standards for cement manufacturers. None of these things are likely to force businesses to close and won't inspire headlines or partisan bickering on the campaign trail.

Those little things pile up, like the pages in the Federal Register, to create something much more substantial.

There is little doubt that we'll finish 2016 with the largest version of the federal registry ever produced, since this year is also the final year of President Barack Obama's time in office. If history is any guide, you can expect a flurry of new regulations during the last 60 days of his administration—the Clinton administration published some 26,000 pages of "midnight regulations" during the same period in late 2000 and early 2001.



The Federal Government Wants to Re-regulate the Railroads

The United States has the most developed and efficient freight railroad system in the world. In contrast to Europe, where the large majority of freight is moved by road, by weight and distance travelled freight rail provides the largest share of the transportation mix in the US. This is no accident. In 1980, recognizing the sclerotic and weak state of the heavily-regulated rail industry, a deliberate decision was made to deregulate freight rail. The subsequent recovery of the freight rail industry might seem to be a lesson in the value of reducing federal interference to the average person, but not to a regulator. Perhaps offended by their example, regulators in Washington have been hunting for ways to re-impose regulatory control over American freight rail.

Freed from the heavy hand of federal government micromanaging, freight rail in America has boomed, creating a system that is the envy of the world. To maintain this world-beating system, the rail industry since 1980 has invested about 17% of revenues in maintenance and expansion of rail networks. This investment amounted to $28 billion in 2014, an amount equal to more than half of total federal government expenditure on transit, highway, and airport construction and improvement programs. The removal of federal controls gave rail companies the incentive to make these investments. As owners of the tracks, in a less regulated market rail companies have every incentive to upgrade and expand their transportation network.

The success of freight rail in this country, though, has attracted the attention of regulators and their special interest group allies. The most recent of these regulatory proposals is a proposed rule that would require freight rail companies to get permission from the federal government before deciding how many employees to have in the cab of a locomotive. This is not about safety, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the agency proposing the rule: “[we] cannot provide reliable or conclusive statistical data to suggest whether one-person crew operations are generally safer or less safe than multiple-person crew operations.” But the railroad unions have been lobbying for this rule for some time. Staffing decisions on trains are normally part of the negotiation process between the union and the railroad, but with this rule the unions are trying to enlist the power of the federal government on their side.

The FRA has produced no evidence for why this regulation is necessary. As mentioned above, they have no safety justification. Indeed, the FRA does not even track how many employees railroads have in train cabs. At a public hearing on July 15, witness after witness explained the shortcuts and inconsistencies in the proposed rule and its justification. Indeed, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs [criticized parts of the proposed rules]( Size Comments - Association of American Railroads %28June 15 2016%29.pdf). Imagine that, even other federal regulators think that the FRA is off the rails. In this case, the attitude of FRA is regulate first, come up with a reason later. It is yet another example of an out of control federal regulator looking for a reason to justify its existence.

This sort of regulation may seem small and insignificant for the average American. Why should you worry about an argument over how many people are in a train cab? Because these sorts of regulations increase the cost of any number of products you buy: anything transported by rail or any product made from an input that is transported by rail. Regulations like these are death by 1000 cuts, raising costs and reducing efficiency, for no other reason than a special interest handout.



Republicans Consider Next Steps After News of Obama Administration Cash Transfer to Iran

Republicans in Congress are criticizing President Barack Obama’s administration for its approval of a $400 million delivery of cash to Iran on the same day the country released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal.

Though the administration says the timing of the $400 million money transfer was coincidental, and part of a resolution of a failed arms deal between the two countries that dates to the Iranian revolution, critics say that a link between the payment and the prisoner exchange is undeniable.

“The claim that the timing is coincidental is beyond unbelievable,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., an outspoken critic of U.S. policy toward Iran. “It is clear at this point that one of two possibilities apply to this administration: either the president has absolutely no idea what he is doing or the president knows exactly what he is doing and is playing for some other team.”

“Unfortunately, paying a $400 million ransom is no game and the consequences are grave,” Zeldin told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Critics of the deal on Wednesday called on the White House to disclose details of the payment. “Unfortunately, paying a $400 million ransom is no game and the consequences are grave,” says @RepLeeZeldin.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew demanding answers on the timing and nature of the money transfer, and how the remaining $1.3 billion will be paid.

Other opponents of the deal predicted the money transfer would have broader repercussions.

“The revelation that the Obama administration ransomed the three Americans being unjustly detained by Iran with $400 million in cash is only the most recent piece of evidence that the so-called nuclear deal with the mullahs is fundamentally illegitimate,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement.

“It is nothing but a series of bribes and secret agreements that will do nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, yet will provide funding for their sponsorship of terrorism and encourage them to detain more of our citizens. This ‘deal’ should be ripped to shreds immediately before more damage is done.”



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