Monday, May 18, 2009

Sri Lanka and the Tamils (and Israel)

I am going to take a risk here and say a few words about the endgame going on in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) at the moment. Sri Lanka is a large island just South of India with nearly 20 million people living there. Most Sri Lankans are an ethnic group known as the Sinhalese but in the far North is a minority of Indian affinity called Tamils, some relatively recent arrivals from India and some of more ancient origin. Most of the world's Tamils live just North of Sri Lanka in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Tamils have a civilization going back over 2,000 years and the ones in Sri Lanka felt that the Sinhalese did not treat them with due respect. They were more prosperous than the Tamils in India, however, so they accepted the status quo, with very few escaping the Sinhalese "oppression" by taking the 20 mile journey across the Palk strait to Tamil Nadu. Then along came some far Leftist creators of trouble who whipped up feelings of grievance among the Sri Lankan Tamils and thus the Tamil Tigers were born: Communist "nationalists" much like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam or Stalin during WWII.

What the Tigers demanded was "eelam" -- a homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka independent of the rest of Sri Lanka. That they already had a homeland just across the strait in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu was ignored. But the Sinhalese did not like the idea of losing part of their island at all -- particularly to a hostile Communist regime. They wanted Sri Lanka to remain united. But for 30 years they negotiated with the Tigers off and on in the hope of finding a peaceful solution. At one time they even allowed an Indian "peacekeeping" force into their island to stand between them and the Tigers. All they got was terrorism in return. The suicide belt is a Tamil invention. And all India got was the assassination of their Prime Minister by a Tamil. There is a great deal of sympathy for the Sri Lankan Tamils in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu but the Tigers threw away any prospect of Indian support by their viciousness.

So in the end all patience was exhausted and the Sinhalese accepted aid from China which enabled them to move from containing the Tamils towards an all out military solution -- gradually grinding the Tigers down to nothingness. And that is now just about all done. It proved to be the only way to peace and to rescue the ordinary Tamil population from the tyranny of the Tigers. All very sad -- particularly because it shows how Israel's patience must run out one day too. Sometimes peace can NOT be gained by talk. Neville Chamberlain found that out. Sometimes the enemy can only be destroyed. 30 years! Just remember that! The Sinhalese negotiated for 30 years before they decided that they had to wipe the Tigers out if they wanted peace. One is reminded of Bismarck's much reviled but sadly true dictum: "Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided - but by iron and blood".

Israel has now been negotiating with the Arabs for around 60 years and it is not presently foreseeable that they will treat Gaza the way the Sinhalese eventually treated the Tamil enclave. But "transfer" (deportation) of recalcitrant Arab populations to other countries has long been discussed in Israel so could become a majority view who knows when? So it is no wonder that the two Arab countries which have peace treaties with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. Because they are the two neighboring countries which have historic and quite recent ties with the Gazans and the West Bank Arabs and into which the Gazans and the West Bank Arabs could be expelled. But they don't want the "Palestinians" either. But Syria remains foolishly hostile. In the 19th century the Arab population of what is now Israel was described as Syrian. So the Syrians could reasonably be expected to welcome their Arab brothers back, could they not? The Arab countries expelled or forced out their Jewish populations so why should the Jews not expel their Arab population?


Whither the GOP?

There has been the predictable breast-beating among the more wishy-washy Republicans over "where did we go wrong?" and "What should be our policies next time?" The NYT sums up some of that debate rather gleefully. It is not however a debate that should bother old hands. Sad to say, the policies of the party out of power matter little. There is an old saying in British/Australian politics that "Oppositions don't win elections. Governments lose them" and given the extremism and unrealism of the Obama administration, the auguries for big blunders from them are good. It will then be "kick the bums out" and the GOP will be back in power, hopefully in next year's mid-terms.

The other thing that determines political victories is personal appeal or charisma. Historically, Republicans have put up more attractive candidates -- peaking with the Gipper -- but it can be a close-run thing and Obama learnt the Reagan lesson well: Talk feelgood talk. He was undoubtedly the most personally smooth and appealing candidate and that is why he is now President. So the GOP need to focus on finding charismatic candidates at all levels. There is no need for major policy change.



It seems to be very popular so I am trying to get a handle on what this Twitter business is all about. From what I can make out, you start out with a group of people who know one-another to some degree and each person in that group puts up frequent daily reports of what they are doing and thinking. And the people concerned read one-another's reports of that kind.

I think my life is pretty well un-twitterable as all I do is sit in front of my computer all day, with occasional breaks to eat. And any thoughts I have eventually make their way onto one of my blogs.

But I am going to give it a go so have opened up a twitter account in the name of (surprise!) jonjayray. So if you want to read my tweets, such as they are, I guess you can sign up for that. And I guess I should read tweets from anyone who reads mine. All a bit confusing at this stage but I may get it eventually.


US faces a future of big tax rises and smaller cars

A pretty good summary by economist Irwin Stelzer below

Green shoots continue to sprout. The supply of homes for sale has dropped; banks have survived the stress tests in better shape than many feared and are going about the process of raising capital; the cautious European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet thinks the global economy is starting to recover; the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says several of the world’s leading economies are turning up; Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, said demand for computer chips has bottomed out; and spending on technology has stabilised.

However, as usual, there are counter-signals: continued falls in house prices, weakness in the labour market, an impending wave of defaults on commercial-property loans, and heaven only knows what Congress will concoct.

Longer term, there is little doubt that we will be paying more for energy, either directly or indirectly by paying higher taxes to cover the costs of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and of the subsidies being lavished on solar, wind, ethanol and other parts of the green economy by environmentalists. Or, in the case of ethanol, by politicians who equate ethanol with corn, corn with Iowa, and Iowa with the first presidential primary in 2012. Throw in the costs of a “smart grid” and all of us will pay more, especially those who have been stockpiling incandescent electric bulbs so as not to be dependent on the dangerous, malfunctioning and costly energy-saving fluorescents when America follows your country and outlaws incandescents in 2014.

Last week Democrats in the House of Representatives reached an agreement on a cap-and-trade system for carbon-dioxide emission permits by bribing recalcitrant congressmen with free pollution permits for important constituents in the utility, oil and other industries. Which is too bad: cap-and-trade is a woefully inefficient way of imposing emissions costs on polluters. Experience in Europe shows that the price of permits fluctuates so wildly that potential producers of renewable energy don’t have a target against which to compete. Green power might make economic sense when users of coal have to pay $40 a tonne for a permit but is uncompetitive when the price drops to $10, as it has done.

We will also end up paying more to borrow than we would have paid before the government decided that contracts can be broken. The Obama administration demonstrated in the Chrysler bankruptcy that it has no regard for the contracts that have in the past protected lenders who made their money available on the assumption that they would have a preferential claim on the borrowers’ assets. Nor does it believe that contractual pay deals should withstand a raised voiced in Congress. This weakening of the sanctity of contracts increases lenders’ risk, which leads to a demand for an offsetting higher interest rate.

There will also be a big change in the structure of the financial-services sector. New regulations will have a greater effect on institutions that create systemic risk than on smaller, below-the-radar enterprises. So the best and brightest will leave the job of second-vice-presidential-assistant-to-the deputy-risk-manager to the more bureaucratically inclined, and set up shop on their own, or seek other outlets for their entrepreneurial urgings – one of the few pleasant unintended consequences of new regulations.

We are also certain to see take-home pay decline significantly. The debt that Obama is running up will have to be repaid. Already, there are grumblings in the market about the future of the dollar, with the Chinese not the only one of our creditors worrying that we will inflate our way out of our obligations. Run the presses, make dollars cheaper, and use the debased currency to repay debts. But that is not the only possibility. Instead, politicians, remembering the fate of Jimmy Carter when he allowed inflation to climb towards 20%, will try to restore fiscal sanity by raising taxes.

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, who supported the president’s stimulus package, puts the needed tax increase at $1.1 trillion over the next decade; the International Monetary Fund puts the figure at $1.9 trillion, the magnitude of which can be better understood when written as $1,900,000,000,000.

After all, Congress won’t be able to cut spending. Obama’s drive towards a $1 trillion healthcare tax-funded system seems irresistible. Drug companies will go along so they will be relieved of the cost of subsidising lower-income patients’ drug needs. Insurers will go along because the law will require everyone to take some sort of coverage. Employers will go along so they can shift the cost of employee-benefit plans to taxpayers.

So higher taxes are in our future, as is the inevitable queuing with which patients in Canada and Britain are familiar, examples being cited by Obama’s critics in television ads aimed at rousing voter opposition to his programme. Polls show that most Americans are satisfied with the quality of their healthcare. But like so much of what Obama is pushing through, this “reform” will prove irreversible.

Finally, there are the cars we will be driving. It is difficult to predict whether the government can prevent carmakers from producing the big, comfortable, safe cars we prefer, and shoe-horn people into smaller European-style vehicles. But the greens will give it a good try.

Where is the outrage? Perhaps among the mass of voters worried about the rising debt burden faced by their children. We won’t know until next year’s congressional elections.




Landslide victory in historic election: "The leader of India's Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, said yesterday that the Indian people have made "the right choice" after her party and its allies swept to a commanding election victory. "First of all I would like to thank the people for reposing faith in the Congress party once again,'' Ms Gandhi said in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The people of India know what is good for them and they always make the right choice,'' she said. Results still coming in from the Election Commission show the Congress-led alliance has crushed its Hindu nationalist rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)." [Great to hear that economist Manmohan Singh will still be in charge. His free-market reforms have done wonders for India]

Shocking Cluelessness from the Federal Reserve Inspector General: "Rep. Alan Grayson probes Federal Reserve Inspector General, Elizabeth Coleman, by asking simple, basic questions about the trillions of dollars lent by the Federal Reserve and where it went, and the trillions of off balance sheet obligations. Coleman responds that she does not know and is not tracking where this money is. According to the Fed's OIG web page: The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts independent and objective audits, inspections, evaluations, investigations, and other reviews related to programs and operations of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board). OIG efforts promote integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; help prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; and strengthen accountability to the Congress and the public."

Is Mrs Obama a "babe"? "One more reason why I detest the left is that they are constantly trying to distort reality in the manner so accurately described by George Orwell. This may seem like a trivial example, but the in-your-face insistence that our first lady is some kind of smokin' hot babe is a case in point. All heterosexual men know that this is an outrageous lie. Who are they trying to kid, and why? Look, we're talking about an average looking woman here. Sarah Palin is not going to lose any sleep over the comparison. But why is this lie being promulgated with such urgency and to such absurd lengths by the liberal media? There must be something more significant going on when someone is in such an insistent state of denial. It reminds me of the liberal love-fest over the Edwards' marriage a couple of years ago. How'd that work out? Here is a typical tongue bath by closet lesbian columnist Sally Quinn. She says that the first lady's arms -- her arms, fer cryin' out loud -- "are representative of a new kind of woman: young, strong, vigorous, intelligent, accomplished, sexual, powerful, embracing and, most of all, loving." Now, I am quite confident that I speak for all heterosexual males when I say that we don't place a great premium on upper arms."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment: said...

Twitter seems to me a waste.

Obviously, many disagree.