Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Labor Day outlook

Today is Labor Day, and that means the unofficial end of summer on a day of celebration of the American worker. The holiday originated in the late 19th century and was born of the labor movement, though many Americans, led by President Grover Cleveland, pushed for and secured a September date to distinguish it from the socialist/communist "International Workers Day," or "May Day," on May 1. Labor Day was made an official federal holiday in 1894.

As we mark the day, let's take a quick look at a few related topics.

First, Hurricane Dorian, currently a Category 5 monster, is heading for Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas — not exactly a welcome holiday event. The days and weeks ahead with be filled with the extensive labor and massive expense of recovery, but Americans are a resilient lot.

As for the economy, as we've hammered home in recent weeks, the positive outlook is exactly why the Leftmedia is incessantly running reports of economic doom and gloom on the horizon. A good economy is bad news for Democrats. If their prophesies come true, it will be because they succeeded in undermining consumer confidence.

Well, here are the facts: The August jobs report won't be released until this Friday, but the employment picture is largely a good one — even if recent revisions are being used by Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists to forecast a recession. The unemployment rate stands near a 50-year low of 3.7%, meaning one of the biggest hurdles for increasing employment is that companies are finding it difficult to fill jobs with workers. Manufacturing has taken a hit because of President Donald Trump's tariffs, which are also hurting American consumers with higher prices. But Trump is calculating that the U.S. economy can withstand a needed battle with China that he didn't start.

Third, wages are growing and consumers are generally confident. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports, "American workers under 35 report being happier with their paychecks than people over 55 for the first time since at least 2011, according to a new report from the Conference Board, a business-research organization that polls U.S. employees about workplace satisfaction. Overall, the share of workers satisfied with their paychecks rose to 46.4% in 2018, from 43% in 2017, an increase that mirrors federal data showing that wage growth accelerated in 2018." Furthermore, "Nearly 54% of U.S. workers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2018, the highest share reported in more than two decades."



Daring to suggest that all cultures aren't equal

The Acting Provost of DePaul University issues a formal censure against me

Jason D. Hill (Who is black)

It is a common canard among the educated cognoscenti that all cultures are equal. Indeed, a few weeks after writing an article in which I declared that not all cultures were equal, the Acting Provost of DePaul University—where I am a full tenured professor of philosophy—issued what I and many others considered to be a formal censure against me. She declared that at her university it is considered an accepted truism that all individuals are valued equally, and that she was truly disheartened that a member of the academic community would assert that “not all cultures are indeed equal.”

I had stated that some cultures are abysmally inferior and regressive based on their comprehensive philosophy and fundamental principles, or, lack thereof—that guide or fail to protect the inalienable rights of their citizens.

Therein lay the category mistake that an educated academic along with countless others commit conflating the individual with the cultural. A culture may be described as a multiplicity of complex systems that include the arts, laws, customs, practices, norms, mores, beliefs, knowledge, and human capabilities acquired by human-beings in society. Culture also includes language, ethical systems, and religious institutions. One can indeed say that all persons are endowed with equal and intrinsic moral worth as human beings which they may corrupt by committing morally egregious acts; but as human beings, they are possessed of inviolable moral worth and dignity.

It is, however, a category mistake to transfer this innate respect and reverence for the individual on to the landscape of culture which is not an indivisible whole, and which possesses none of the requisite attributes of individuals that make them deserving of such unassailable respect. Persons' identities are not reducible to the practices of their cultures. Some cultural practices are downright horrific and evil; some are better than others. Persons in their respective cultures are free to identify themselves with those cultural practices that align themselves with their moral identities, and distances themselves from those they find repulsive.

The Unites States of America is not a perfect civilization; however, as a rights bearing culture in which the inalienability of rights are observed, a country in which civil liberties such as freedom of speech ( for now) is still upheld, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religious association or lack thereof respected, it is vastly superior to barbaric and primitive cultures that have yet to discover the individual and his or her inviolate dignity. The United States is a republic devoted to the inalienability of those rights that are conducive to human survival and flourishing. The United States, through its Constitution and Bill of Rights, is the first political system to discover the direct correlation between the rational nature of man qua man, and the exact political milieu in which that nature has to properly live and function if it is to live rather than perish.

Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania, Libya and Algeria —all countries which still practice and/or tolerate chattel slavery by Arab and black Muslims against other Muslims and Christians—are not the moral, political or cultural equals of the United States, Israel, Great Britain and, say, France. Those countries are vastly superior to Saudi Arabia or Iran, or North Korea and Gaza, which do not permit religious reciprocity. Its political leaders permit the beheading of homosexuals in the streets, legalize torture, and have some of the most egregious records of gender inequality in the world. In the cases of Iran, Qatar and Saud Arabia, we witness them as sponsors of world-wide terrorism, and of placing restrictions on civil liberties and a free press.

Cannibalistic Aztec culture could never and will never be the cultural equal of any civilized and free culture existing anywhere in the world today. Cultures that permit freedom of association, respect equality for all citizens and legal residents before the law, that uphold gender equality as an unsalable moral axiom, that allow  individuals to cultivate their unique life plans—generally speaking—cultures that have discovered the fact that that an environment in which freedom and liberty are the milieu in which the individual needs to cultivate his or her rational nature qua human being and live an optimal existence, are undoubtedly, superior cultures, morally, spiritually and politically speaking.

It is a mark of sheer cognitive malarkey to claim that all cultures are equal. Just as some cultures are technologically more advanced than others, so some are politically more distinguished in their record on individual rights and the protection of private property and personal liberties than others. Rape cultures, that is, cultures in which rape is sanctioned by law such as in several parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, are not moral equivalents of any western democratic countries in which rape, though committed by moral deviants, is illegal and punishable by objective law.

Brunei practices a Sharia penal code under Islamic law that allows death or stoning for adultery, homosexuality and even apostasy. Hamas continues to pose an existential threat to Israel by pounding the latter, (unprovoked), with a barrage of deadly rockets so often that one can barely keep track of the war attacks. Hamas routinely arrests and tortures peaceful critics of its totalitarian government with impunity. It is a blatant advocate and practitioner of Jihadism. There is no culture, so to speak, inside Gaza. It is defined, incidentally, by its absence of any significant life and culture. Nevertheless, even countries that lack a significant culture can wreak havoc on the lives of others.  A rich culture is potent because it creates life. One that is an ecological sociopolitical   ballast, or worse, evil, can destroy life.

The question remains, too, of not only how to think about cultures that are unequal to others but: what to do about those that are evil; cultures that exist as moral rogue states that betray the civilizational maturity expected by an international order that protects the well-being of the global commons? We are talking here of morally inverted states that pose a serious threat to the international order; evil cultures that are political sinkholes that lie outside the process of history, and that are reverting to pre-modern ages. The goals of such cultures —among other things—are to eradicate the individual, and practices of freedom and liberty from the earth.

Evil cultures are drainage systems that tax the existential, spiritual and psychological resources of their citizens who must expend a disproportionate amount of energy just to stay alive—let alone flourish.

So, what is the antidote? In a forthcoming article on moral rogue states that pose existential  threats to the global commons, countries that violate the conditions of their own sovereignty which is secured by objective constraints of justice, I will outline and philosophically defend a process of what I call: global incarceration. This involves an ethical defense of placing intolerable, incorrigible and politically inverted countries into a state of political receivership by any free and civilized country willing and able to do so based on criteria of political expediency, and military and technological capability.

Until such time, let us rid ourselves of the simplistic egalitarian idea that all cultures are equal. That some are moral and political sinkholes from which millions seek to flee is obvious. That such escapees or freedom seekers aspire to self-actualize in other cultures that, in their judgments, are better suited to their aspirations, hopes and dreams constitutes enough proof that some cultures are inimical to human well-being, and others better suited for the development and practice of human agency.



America’s Poor Fare Better Than Average Persons in Canada, the UK

Sometimes the key to success is being “less worse” than your competitors. So while I’m critical of many bad policies in the United States, it’s worth noting that America nonetheless ranks #6 for overall economic liberty according to the Fraser Institute.

As such, it’s not surprising that America has higher living standards than most other developed nations according to the “actual individual consumption” data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

And America’s advantage isn’t trivial. We’re more than 46 percent higher than the average for OECD member nations.

The gap is so large that I’ve wondered how lower-income people in the United States would rank compared to average people in other countries.

Well, the folks at Just Facts have investigated precisely this issue using World Bank data and found some remarkable results.

“… after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. … In other words, if the U.S. 'poor' were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest. … The World Bank publishes a comprehensive dataset on consumption that isn’t dependent on the accuracy of household surveys and includes all goods and services, but it only provides the average consumption per person in each nation—not the poorest people in each nation. However, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis published a study that provides exactly that for 2010. Combined with World Bank data for the same year, these datasets show that the poorest 20% of U.S. households have higher average consumption per person than the averages for all people in most nations of the OECD and Europe … The high consumption of America’s 'poor' doesn’t mean they live better than average people in the nations they outpace, like Spain, Denmark, Japan, Greece, and New Zealand. … Nonetheless, the fact remains that the privilege of living in the U.S. affords poor people with more material resources than the averages for most of the world’s richest nations.”

There are some challenges in putting together this type of comparison, so the folks at Just Facts are very clear in showing their methodology.

They’ve certainly come up with results that make sense, particularly when comparing their results with the OECD AIC numbers.

Here’s one of the charts from the report:

You can see that the bottom 20 percent of Americans do quite well compared to the average person in other developed nations.

By the way, the report from Just Facts also criticizes The New York Times for dishonest analysis of poverty. Since I’ve felt compelled to do the same thing, I can definitely sympathize.

The bottom line is that free markets and limited government are the best way to help lower-income people enjoy more prosperity.

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom an



The hazards of government healthcare: The Veterans Administration failed to stop pathologist who misdiagnosed thousands — and showed up drunk for work

It took more than three thousand misdiagnoses, a dozen or more patient deaths, and multiple alerts before the Veterans Administration caught up with its chief pathologist Robert Morris Levy. The Washington Post offers a lengthy exposé of the VA’s internal inertia as well as the ineffectiveness of its quality controls, all of which took a terrible human cost on thousands. And the worst part is that VA officials got warned repeatedly that Levy was a problem before finally getting fired last year … over a DUI.

On the Fayetteville campus, rated one of VA’s best, Levy’s supervisors failed to heed early warnings that he was endangering patients and then were slow to act, according to internal VA documents, court filings and interviews with 20 congressional officials, veterans and current and former VA employees.

Federal prosecutors charged Levy, 53, last week with three counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three veterans. VA officials now acknowledge that he botched diagnoses of at least 15 patients who later died and 15 others whose health was seriously harmed.

The number of those affected, however, is much greater, and the full repercussions of Levy’s actions may not be known for years. VA officials say Levy made 3,000 errors or misdiagnoses dating to 2005.

If Levy’s on trial for involuntary manslaughter, others should be charged as accomplices. VA officials got several warnings that Levy was working while intoxicated, records indicate, starting as early as 2012. One incident in 2016 showed Levy with a 0.4% blood alcohol reading, which is five times higher than needed in most states to get a DWI. Rather than put this together with all of the other alerts, the VA paid for a three-month inpatient treatment center and then put Levy back on the job.

It never occurred to anyone, apparently, to double-check Levy’s work after finding out that he showed up to work drunk. Supposedly Levy had a very low incidence of mistakes in his work, but the system used to determine competency was absurdly easy to game. The VA used a peer-review system to sample work by specialists, which meant that Levy’s work was spot-checked by the deputy who reported to him. Levy simply changed the conclusions of his deputy’s reports in order to maintain a very low error rate — and was rewarded with large bonuses based on those ratings.

When Levy began showing up impaired for work in 2017 and 2018, the VA finally did an independent check of his work. It turned up red flags — which the VA ignored until after he got dismissed:

In January 2018, after multiple staff reports that he was still impaired, the hospital’s professional standards board continued Levy’s suspension. Spot checks of his cases showed “no evidence of patient harm,” according to the minutes.

Still, Worley brought in a pa­thol­ogist from VA’s division headquarters for another review of Levy’s work. She found more than a dozen misdiagnoses.

“Dr. Levy’s actions have negatively impacted patient care outcomes,” Worley and the medical director at the time wrote in a memo on Jan. 11, 2018.

It would be six more months before VA began a deeper review of his work.

Even when the VA finally did get around to checking Levy’s work, it initially limited the review to his last year in the system. Only after the inspector general intervened did the VA conduct a full review and find the thousands of misdiagnoses Levy produced. The VA also waited months to alert medical boards in three states to Levy’s incompetence.

Unfortunately, this hardly qualifies as a shock. The VA has had so many scandals surrounding incompetence and corruption that it’s tough to keep track. This episode, as with others, demonstrates the lack of accountability in government-run single-payer systems, and the instincts of government bureaucracies to protect themselves rather than their patients.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: