Saturday, August 27, 2016

I don't normally put anything up on Saturday but I am doing so now because I missed a few days during the week due to another encounter with a surgical scalpel.  It all went well in the end.  Details here


Diversity: History's Pathway to Chaos

Victor Davis Hanson

Emphasizing diversity has been the pitfall, not the strength, of nations throughout history.

The Roman Empire worked as long as Iberians, Greeks, Jews, Gauls and myriad other African, Asian and European communities spoke Latin, cherished habeas corpus and saw being Roman as preferable to identifying with their own particular tribe. By the fifth century, diversity had won out but would soon prove a fatal liability.

Rome disintegrated when it became unable to assimilate new influxes of northern European tribes. Newcomers had no intention of giving up their Gothic, Hunnish or Vandal identities.

The propaganda of history’s multicultural empires — the Ottoman, the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian, the British and the Soviet — was never the strength of their diversity. To avoid chaos, their governments bragged about the religious, ideological or royal advantages of unity, not diversity.

Nor did more modern quagmires like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Rwanda or Yugoslavia boast that they were “diverse.” Instead, their strongman leaders naturally claimed that they shared an all-encompassing commonality.

When such coerced harmony failed, these nations suffered the even worse consequences of diversity, as tribes and sects turned murderously upon each other.

For some reason, contemporary America believes that it can reject its uniquely successful melting pot to embrace a historically dangerous and discredited salad-bowl separatism.

Is there any evidence from the past that institutionalizing sects and ethnic grievances would ensure a nation’s security, prosperity and freedom?

America’s melting pot is history’s sole exception of E pluribus unum inclusivity: a successful multiracial society bound by a common culture, language and values. But this is a historic aberration with a future that is now in doubt.

Some students attending California’s Claremont College openly demand roommates of the same race. Racially segregated “safe spaces” are fixtures on college campuses.

We speak casually of bloc voting on the basis of skin color — as if a lockstep Asian, Latino, black or white vote is a good thing.

We are reverting to the nihilism of the old Confederacy. The South’s “one-drop rule” has often been copied to assure employers or universities that one qualifies as a minority.

Some public figures have sought to play up or invent diversity advantages. Sometimes, as in the cases of Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dolezal and Ward Churchill, the result is farce.

Given our racial fixations, we may soon have to undergo computer scans of our skin colors to rank competing claims of grievance.

How does one mete out the relative reparations for various atrocities of the past, such as slavery, the Holocaust, the American Indian wars, the Asian or Catholic exclusion laws, indentured servitude, or the mid-18th-century belief that the Irish were not quite human?

Sanctuary cities, in the manner of 1850s Richmond or Charleston invoking nullification, now openly declare themselves immune from federal law. Does that defiance ensure every city the right to ignore whatever federal laws it finds inconvenient, from the filing of 1040s to voting laws?

The diversity industry hinges on U.S. citizens still envisioning a shrinking white population as the “majority.” Yet “white” is now not always easily definable, given intermarriage and constructed identities.

In California, those who check “white” on Orwellian racial boxes are now a minority. Will white Californians soon nightmarishly declare themselves aggrieved minorities and thus demand affirmative action, encourage Viking-like names such as Ragnar or Odin, insert umlauts and diereses into their names to hype their European bona fides, seek segregated European-American dorms and set up “Caucasian Studies” programs at universities?

Women now graduate from college at a higher rate than men. Will there be a male effort to ensure affirmative action for college admissions and graduation rates?

If the white vote reaches 70 percent for a particular candidate, is that really such a good thing, as it was considered to be when President Obama was praised for capturing 95 percent of the black vote?

It is time to step back from the apartheid brink.

Even onetime diversity advocate Oprah Winfrey has had second thoughts about the lack of commonality in America. She recently vowed to quit using the word “diversity” and now prefers “inclusion.”

A Latino-American undergraduate who is a student of Shakespeare is not “culturally appropriating” anyone’s white-European legacy, but instead seeking transcendence of ideas and a common humanity.

Asian-Americans are not “overrepresented” at premier campuses. Their high-profile presence should be praised as a model, not punished as aberrant by number-crunching bureaucrats.

African-Americans who excel in physics and engineering are not “acting white” but finding the proper pathways for their natural talents.

Being one-half Southeast Asian or three-quarters white is not the touchstone to one’s essence and is irrelevant to one’s character and conduct.

No one is impinging on anyone’s culture when blacks dye their hair blond, or when blondes prefer to wear cornrow braids.

Campuses desperately need unity czars, not diversity czars.

Otherwise, we will end up as 50 separate and rival nations — just like other failed states in history whose diverse tribes and races destroyed themselves in a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog war with one another.



Trump racist?

Things got uncomfortable on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon," when New York Times columnist Charles Blow flipped out on Donald Trump’s National Diversity Coalition chairman Bruce Lavell.

Blow and Lavell, who are both African-American, were guests on Lemon’s show. Their exchange almost immediately turned hostile once Blow began speaking in rebuttal to Lavell.

“Donald Trump is a bigot,” said Blow. “Anyone who accepts that, supports it… and that makes you part of the bigotry itself.”
Laval attempted to take the debate back to Donald Trump’s actual statements.

“Name one [negative] statement that you’ve heard Donald Trump say about African-Americans,” countered Lavell.
Blow did not have an answer, and attempted several times to avoid answering.

“If he doesn’t want to answer your question, he doesn’t have to,” interjected Lemon, as the sparring escalated.
Lavell responded with: “Because he can’t, that’s why.”

“I don’t know you and I don’t want to talk to you,” said Blow finally, towards the end of the segment, on his final attempt to avoid the question. “And I don’t want to answer your question.”

As Blow continued to call Donald Trump a “bigot"—and tried to link Lavell to bigotry because of his support for the Republican nominee—Lavell attempted to take the debate back to the issues.

After listing several of the biggest issues facing our nation—issues that have been cornerstones of Trump’s campaign thus far—Lavell skewered Blow on playing the race card: “Our nation is crumbling and the only thing we can keep bringing us is this stuff about race all the time…”

Blow angrily responded, "That’s called a deflection, because you don’t want to understand you’re supporting that bigotry.”
"I would like to debate substantive policies, not fantasy,” replied Lavell, as the segment ended.

The mainstream media has long been accused of being in the tank for Hillary Clinton, and biased against conservatives—but, in 2016, it’s clear they’ve dropped even the pretense of impartiality.



Here's More Bad News for Obamacare

Obamacare was supposed to save the American economy.

Back in 2009, when President Obama decided to push for healthcare reform in the midst of a financial crisis, he justified the decision by arguing that healthcare reform was economic reform, stating that the Affordable Care Act would “build a new foundation for lasting and sustained growth.”

One of the ways that healthcare reform was supposed to boost the economy was ending the phenomenon of “job lock,” whereby workers are scared of leaving a job for a potentially better opportunity out of fear of losing their health insurance. But according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Obamacare isn’t actually solving that problem.

Economists Pauline Leung of Cornell University and Alexandre Mas of Princeton studied states that recently expanded Medicaid under the law and found no evidence that there was a reduction in employment lock in response to these expansions. Admittedly, researchers only studied the effects of the Obamacare-related Medicaid expansion, which is offered to Americans with incomes below 138% of the poverty line. It’s possible that these folks are working in jobs that don’t offer health care in the first place, and so obtaining medicaid benefits has no affect on their decisions to leave their current job for a new one.

At the same time, these results should lead us to question the lasting economic benefits of the law, given the fact that new Medicaid enrollees have exceeded expectations while fewer middle-class Americans are enrolling through subsidized exchanges than was previously expected. And though this trend doesn’t represent an existential threat to the law itself (see this recent post for some of those), it does underscore the need for continued health care reform if the U.S. economy is to remain competitive with other wealthy nations.

And this is actually one area where the right and the left agree. President Obama himself took to citing research from the Heritage Foundation—which praised Senator John McCain’s 2008 health reform plan for its ability to tackle the job lock problem by offering tax credits to workers so that they could afford to buy insurance on the private market—as evidence for the need to address the problem.

So why are health care wonks so worried about job lock? If workers are scared to leave their job to look for new prospects or even start their own businesses out of fear of losing insurance, they are not going to be in the position to produce as much as they can. And a lack of productivity growth, which ending job lock would help to reverse, is one of the fundamental problems affecting the U.S. economy today. The latest reading shows productivity falling in the second quarter year-over-year, while the Conference Board predicts that this measure will fall for the full year for the first time since 1982.

Finding a way to solve this crisis of slow productivity will be a priority for lawmakers of both parties, given that productivity growth is widely assumed to be necessary if average workers are to see their wages rise. The problem is that Obamacare—with its mix of public subsidies and regulations with the private provision of health insurance—is the only conceivable model that could get both Democratic and Republican support. Of course, the Republican Party, after supporting forms of the law in places like Massachusetts, abandoned this model after President Obama took office in 2009 and began pushing it nationally.

Now, the Republican Party will accept nothing short of the law’s repeal, mixed with new free-market reforms. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is increasingly hostile to the idea of reform that doesn’t include greater government involvement, as evidenced by Bernie Sanders support for a single-payer, “Medicare for all” plan and Obama’s renewed push for a public option. It’s conceivable that either of these approaches could work to help make the U.S. labor market more flexible, but there is little chance that either plan will actually be tested given the growing and intractable polarization of American politics.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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