Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Der Schwed" -- yesterday and today

During the 30 years war of the 17th century Gustav Adolf den store (Gustavus Adophus) led his Swedish troops to many great victories in Europe. Without him the Protestant cause may well have lost out to the Catholic South. His armies were at the time simply referred to as "Der Schwed" (the Swede), though they would have referred to themselves as the "Svea".

So we see that the Swedish martial spirit did not die out with the Vikings of the 11th century (Swedish Vikings mostly sailed up rivers into what we now know as Russia. It was left to the Norwegians and Danes to harass Britain and Western Europe).

And, strange as it seems in the light of their constant peacnikery of the 20th century, that spirit is still alive today. For good reasons the proximity of Russia gives everybody at the Eastern end of the Baltic the heebie-jeebies. Going by their invariant and very successful form since the 11th century, we would expect the English to deal with such a peril by forming alliances with other countries. Not so the Swedes. They cherish their independence. And they can realistically do that because of confidence in their military. They have been prepared to fight Russia alone if need be. The Finns did it under Mannerheim in the early stages of WWII so they have a successful example to go by. But the Swedish military has to be independent too -- so we come to the Swedish defence industries.

With a population about the same size as Israel, it is amazing what the Swedish defence industries have produced. The famous Bofors gun was used for antiaircraft defence by BOTH sides in WWII and is still in use today. And Bofors are not sitting on their laurels. I could go on to talk about Swedish military aircraft and submarines but I think that for the moment I will just say a few words about Bofors.

Aside from nuclear weapoins, the most fearsome thing about the old Soviet Union was their vast fleet of tanks. And Bofors produced an answer to that in the form of the BILL1, a fearsome antitank missile. Bofors turned out tens of thousands of them, quite enough to wipe out the entire Soviet tank fleet with a bit of luck. It is a guided missile that flies just a bit ABOVE the tank and fires a shaped charge down onto the turret of the tank at just the right time -- the turret being a tank's weakest point. That must be a considerable challenge to the missile's controller but the Swedes must be confident that trained operators can pull it off. Below is a video of it in action:

(Note: Some mischievous person has been circulating the above video together with a claim that it shows an Israeli missile using white phosphorous to destroy a Syrian tank. Israel has been much criticized for its limited use of white phosporous in Gaza but insists that it only used phosphorous in accordance with the laws of war. Using it in an anti-tank weapon would heap criticism on Israel so the false claim attached to the above video is malicious)

And to keep up with advances in tank technology Bofors have produced a BILL2 missile that is even more capable than BILL1. (The "B" stands for Bofors)

It seems sad that such an apparently effective weapon is not held in the arsenals of Western countries but Swedish neutrality forbids it. Only a few other "neutral" countries such as Austria and Brazil have it. So Sweden has had to bear all the costs of developing and deploying the weapon by itself -- a considerable challenge. Most armament manufacturers are keen to sell their stuff to all and sundry -- to help defray the development costs.

And even if Sweden did decide to sell BILL2 more widely, it might not get much uptake. I remember when I was in the Australian Army during the Vietnam war, we deployed the prime Swedish antitank weapon of the day, the Carl Gustav. But as soon as we entered the Vietnam war, the Swedes stopped supplying ammo for it! Tanks featured little in the Vietnam war so it was not a great setback but it was a salutary lesson in being careful about the source of supply of your weaponry. The Swedes have no worries on that score.


Obama throws a bone to Catholics

The typical Leftist belief that money grows on trees at work again. Does he really think that health insurers will be able to provide cover without charging for it? The companies will still charge Catholic organizations the same as before, even if contraception is not written down in the agreement between the organizations concerned. Catholics will still be paying for contraception as before. But I guess Left-leaning Catholics will see it as a real concession

The White House today announced a compromise for religious groups lambasting a recent mandate requiring health insurers to cover contraception as a preventive service. The federal government will now be extending an exemption of the mandate to religious organizations — including faith-based hospitals.

Under the new policy announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.

The new policy ensures women can get contraception without paying a co-pay and addresses important concerns raised by religious groups by ensuring that objecting religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer women to organizations that provide contraception."



BOOK REVIEW: for The Reptile with a Conscience by Nathan Cofnas. Paperback. pp. 523. Available from The Ulster Institute for Social Research. Review by J.J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

One of Einstein's more famous sayings is: "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong". That single experiment would now appear to have been done so is Einstein now old hat? Far from it. Just as Einstein's relativity subsumed Newton's mechanics, so the next generation of physics will have to cope with the observations that came from Einstein's work.

A failure that Einstein himself acknowledged was his failure to devise a "unified field theory". Einsten was of course Jewish so it is interesting that another brilliant Jewish writer, Nathan Cofnas, HAS attempted a "unified field theory". But this theory is not about physics. It is about ideology. Nathan has presented us with a theory that accounts for both religion and politics as being from the same rootstock.

And I can even tell you very simply what that theory is. Nathan points something out that seems obvious when you hear it but nobody previously seems to have thought of it. He takes Adam Smith's famous theory of markets -- the invisible hand -- and points out that religious people also see an invisible hand in the world about them: The hand of God.

You don't have to think about that for long, however, to start saying "Yes but ...". And that is why Nathan has written his book. He presents his theory in a much more subtle and careful way than my crude generalization above and proceeds to answer all the "Yes buts ..". He fleshes out how he believes both conservative thinking and Judeo/Christian thinking arise.

But this is not a book for scholars, philosophers and ideologues only. It does something that anybody interested in modern politics needs badly: It gives an systematic answer to the old Leftist retort to all facts and arguments that they dislike: "There's no such thing as right and wrong, anyway". The crazy thing about that assertion of course is that the same Leftists who say that will say in almost the same breath that racism or anything done by George W Bush is wrong. They contradict their own assertion almost as soon as they make it. So it is not only conservatives but Leftists too who need to get their minds clear on what is right/wrong and where that right/wrong comes from. And Nathan helps us greatly with that.

But WHY do Leftist deny right and wrong when it suits them? Doing so makes all their OWN doctrines, policies and beliefs look like empty vapour. It's a strange thing to do. So: The reason they do it is because most analytical philosophers say the same thing. And as John Maynard Keynes once said: "Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”.

Analytical philosophers say: "If there is this objective property of "rightness", how do we detect it and where is it? Do we lift up a stone somewhere and find it there? And that challenge has proved hard to answer. Just what IS rightness and how do we know it is right?

In recent times, however, an answer to that has begun to emerge: We know some things are right because we have rightness instincts. Rightness IS located somewhere. It is located in our long evolution as social beings. It is somewhere in our primitive "reptilian" brain. But the "Yes, buts ..." come thick and fast to that proposition, as it is obvious that our higher brain (where "conscience" is located) has a role too and can make some things seem right to one person that another person sees as wrong. So how do we sort THAT mess out? Nathan goes through it systematically for us and leaves even atheists like me confident that there IS such a thing as a real right and wrong.

Nathan's book will not be the final answer on all the questions it addresses but, like Einstein's theory of relativity, future discussions in the field will have to take account of his arguments if they are to be well-informed.


An aggressive mutiny of black GIs in WWII

White Australian troops had to rein them in. It may be part of the reason why the U.S. army to this day rarely deploys black troops in frontline infantry positions

BLACK US troops mutinied in Townsville [Australia] in 1942 and turned machineguns on their officers, in a secret chapter of the war in the Pacific that has come to light through the papers of the late US president Lyndon B. Johnson.

The scandal was hushed up for nearly 70 years after being described in a report given to and apparently kept by Johnson as "one of the biggest stories of the war which can't be written, shouldn't be written".

The subject of rumour and speculation for decades in the north Queensland city, it has now emerged that the mutiny was probably reported at the time to the White House by Johnson, then a young and ambitious US congressman, after he visited Australia in June 1942 on a fact-finding mission for president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The report Johnson took back to Washington, written for him by US journalist Robert Sherrod, tells how 600 African-American GIs seized their base and went on the rampage, trying to kill their white officers. Some terrorised local civilians.

Armed Australian troops were sent in at the height of the emergency on the US base. George Gnezdiloff, then a 20-year-old private in the north Queensland-raised 51st battalion, was told to block Ross River Road with his bren gun carrier. Other soldiers were issued with a password, Bucks, as they deployed to bottle up the Americans.

Gnezdiloff and his crew were ordered to shoot the mutineers on sight. "We had ammo, the lot," the now 90-year-old recalled yesterday from his home in Proserpine, 300km south of Townsville. "We weren't mucking around, I can tell you."



The Media’s Shameful, Inexcusable Distortion Of The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision

by Dan Abrams

One of the beauties of the transfer of power from major media operations to individuals, bloggers and tweeters is that they — we — can all serve as a sort of fact-checking peanut gallery. So it’s hard to imagine that, in this day and age, the mainstream media could repeatedly misstate the holding of one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions without being roundly excoriated. Not a matter of opinion or a partisan viewpoint, but, simply parroting a mistake or lie about the holding in that crucial ruling.

I have followed the Court’s Citizens United decision particularly closely because my dad, Floyd Abrams, was one of the lawyers who argued it (for free, incidentally) in the Supreme Court, on behalf of Senator Mitch McConnell. Their challenge was to a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that barred corporations and unions from engaging in what they argued was classic political speech — producing and showing a movie on television that criticized a candidate for President and spending money for ads that support or denounce that candidate. They prevailed in a divided 5-4 ruling. Subsequently, and not surprisingly, the ruling became one of the most controversial opinions of our day, with many on the left denouncing the ruling as a fundamental threat to our democracy....

There are two media myths and inventions that are most commonly cited.

Myth 1: The Court invalidated disclosure requirements in political advertising, thereby allowing donors to remain anonymous.

Wrong. The Court ruled just the opposite and upheld, by an 8-1 vote, the McCain-Feingold requirement of identifying donors.

Myth 2: That the Court’s ruling in Citizens United opened the door to wealthy individuals like Sheldon Adelson to pour millions of dollars into PACs.

Wrong again. The Citizens United ruling had NOTHING to do with the ability of individuals to spend their money to support candidates. That had been decided back in 1976, when the Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment protected the right of individuals to make unlimited independent expenditures supporting or opposing candidates for federal office. In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations and unions were entitled to the same rights. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that the Swift Boat ads, legally paid for by individuals, soiled John Kerry during the 2004 campaign.

But reading the New York Times, Washington Post and watching MSNBC in particular, it is hardly surprising that the public would be confused. On January 9, in a front-page piece on the influence of Newt Gingrich supporter Sheldon Adelson, the Times inaccurately reported that Adelson’s $5 million donation to a pro-Gingrich SuperPAC “underscores” how the Citizens United case, “has made it possible for a wealthy individual to influence an election.” On January 14th, a column by Gail Collins asserted that, “all these billionaires would not be so worrisome if the Supreme Court had not totally unleashed their donation-making power in the Citizens United case.” The opinion, in fact, did nothing of the sort. I don’t know if it’s sad or just troubling that the Times issued two corrections on the earlier piece, including the year Citizens United was decided, but none on its repeated and major error about the ruling itself.

The Washington Post has done no better. On January 11th, Dana Milbank, writing of Adelson’s $5 million donation to a pro-Gingrich SuperPAC, asserted that it was, “the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which made such unlimited contributions possible.” And on February 5th, E.J. Dionne Jr. blamed Citizens United for permitting, “the brute force of millionaires and billionaires … to have their way.” The Post published a letter from Floyd Abrams today highlighting the error, but without a formal correction.

It seems this faulty analysis has worn off on MSNBC host Chris Matthews as well, since he, too, regularly misreports the case’s ruling. “Under this new court ruling, Citizens United, your opponent can run a terrible campaign and relentlessly destroy your reputation without putting your fingerprints on the ad,” Matthews said. “You don’t have to say, ‘I’m Mitt Romney and I paid for this ad.’ So now in Iowa, where the people don’t like negative campaigning, you can run the bombing campaign or destroy your opponent without having your face or voice associated with it. That’s what Newt wasn’t aware of. It’s his fault that conservatives like them have gone along with these court decisions, that have allowed big contributors, wealthy people to put unlimited amounts of money into negative campaigns without putting the name of their favorite candidate in the ad.”

This is a double dose of wrong, since the disclosure requirement in the law was upheld and the case had nothing to do with individuals. One might forgive Al Jazeera for getting it wrong and it’s not unusual to see partisan advocates misstate a ruling like this to further a political agenda, but the mainstream American media should have no excuse....

You may disagree with the opinion, you may think that expanding the ability of corporations to fund campaign messaging is a true danger, or just, as I do, that outside money is a major concern for our democratic system. But that doesn’t change the fact that the political chattering set ought to be far more concerned and outraged by the indolence, indifference or just bias, that has led to the widespread misinformation by the media about what the court actually considered and ultimately ruled.




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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


Friday, February 10, 2012

Communist News Network dismisses Jewish journalists in Israel

We just received the names of four journalists fired:

* Moshe Cohen, editor, dismissed Jan. 30, 10 years of tenure at CNN.

* Izi Landberg, producer, nearly 25 years with CNN, dismissed Jan. 30.

* Avi Kaner cameraman, dismissed Jan. 30, 10 years with CNN.

* Michal Zippori, desk producer, situation ongoing

The media scandal that has reached us comes from an absolutely reliable source.

It is likely to provoke a wave of shock and indignation in the North American media, and it certainly will not calm the controversy over the biased and pro-Palestinian coverage of conflict by the news channel.

We learned that the Israeli offices of CNN are downsizing to cope with income losses, including advertising.

What goes beyond good management is that CNN dismissed four journalists Israeli Jews (out of a total of eight), and retained only Arab journalists. Where, until now, CNN sent reporters -- always a Jew and Arab journalist -- to cover information in pairs, henceforth, there will be only an Arab journalist. The local editor of the chain is in fact also Arabic.

In a conflict where information is central to shaping public opinion and the decisions of diplomats, and where Arab journalists can publish what they need without risking their lives when they travel to Gaza, Jerusalem and the region of Judea and Samaria, the decision to dismiss his CNN Jewish journalists is of particular concern because the public is very far from imagining that it can receive unskewed information from CNN.

SOURCE. (Translated)


Obamacare vs the Catholic Bishops

I recently completed a very short interview on Vatican Radio to discuss the current battle between the Obama administration and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It didn’t permit me to say more than that the Obama administration is making a political mistake, so I’d like to say a bit more about the serious consequences that will likely result and how we ended up with this Church-State conundrum in the first place.

As Dr. Donald Condit has already explained, the Obama administration seems to be making a political calculation that this controversy will blow over before the November’s presidential election because the conscience exemption for providing and paying for abortion, sterilization and contraception will not take effect until later next year. But the miscalculation was predictable and is now evident, with not only Catholics, but Orthodox, Evangelical, Jewish and other religious leaders taking a stand. Unless the administration relents or the Obamacare law is ruled unconstitutional, Catholic hospitals and other institutions will be faced with a choice between not providing insurance coverage to their employees and thereby be fined by the government, or pay for the provision of services that they believe are morally evil.

A journalist friend in Rome just raised an alternative reading of the story to me on the street. What if Obama is actually making a principled argument that abortion, sterilization and contraception services are a fundamental aspect of women’s health that cannot and should not be denied to anyone, regardless of their own religious or individual convictions? Perhaps the White House believes, as most progressives do, that these stodgy, uptight opponents will eventually, inevitably, be overcome and we will one day wonder what all the fuss about. If so, the administration is doing much more than thinking about the next election; it’s redefining what the word “health” means to include measures that violently take away life from the most innocent and vulnerable persons, regardless of who pays for the services. This makes it much more than a religious freedom or a conscience issue and a matter of simple justice.

More generally, the whole Obamacare mess is a result of employer-provided health insurance. We would all be better off if our health insurance was decoupled from our employment, and we were free to purchase our own insurance according to our needs and wants. It is a result of state intervention in the economy, namely wage-and-price controls, that led to employers offering health insurance as a non-wage benefit to entice desired employees to their companies. Now we have the government mandating that all employers must provide comprehensive coverage to all their employees. What was once a prudential individual decision has become a government-mandated “right” that trumps the employer-employee, the doctor-patient, and perhaps even the priest-penitent relationship. Some progress.

There is some tragic irony to all this. We should not forget that many religious leaders have long-supported increasing the role of the state in health care and the economy at-large, perhaps thinking that conscience clauses would protect their institutions against any undue interference. Well, they were wrong; what the state giveth, the state taketh away. If you invite the state to “assist” more and more of your activities, it will eventually start telling you how to do things. Encouraging the Democratic Party’s efforts from Harry Truman on to socialize the health care system of the United States is likely to have dire consequences for Catholic and other religious-based social service providers. Economic ignorance among religious leaders comes at a very high cost to their own good works.



Parfumier on Trial Today in Paris for "Racism"

For years now, we've watched an increasingly totalitarian Europe arise in the courtrooms of infamous speech trials in Holland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, France, England and elsewhere as dictatorial government authorities use the courts to maintain their political power against political rivals and freethinkers who dare call out the dishonesty and deceptions of the State. With the speech trial today of a fabled and elderly parfumier in Paris (described below), however, we see a strain of totalitarianism that is qualitatively different but equally sinister.

When parfumier Jean-Paul Guerlain (picture above) told an TV interviewer in 2010 that in order to create the popular perfume Samsara ("blends notes of ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, and tonka bean") "for once, [he] started working like a negro," he threatened no government power structure, he called out no deception. He made a banal comment, simply not worth parsing although it's hard to resist noting that he chose the simile to convey something he is obviously proud of -- a sustained and apparently arduous effort to create something beaitiful.

But that is utterly and completely beside the point: The French state here is more and more inserting itself into the regulation of its citizens' minds, not in an overt attempt to maintain political power (Wilders, Dewinter), not to destroy facts and principles that threaten its fabrications (Sabaditsch-Wolff, Hedegaard, Robinson), but rather, in the evil tradition of Communism's relentless social engineers, to rewire all thought processes down to the most trivial. It is the totalitarian effort to create the New Man.

The Australian reports:

THE creator of some of the world's best-loved perfumes will go on trial in Paris today accused of racism for using the word "negre" on television in a case that campaigners say illustrates the spread of prejudice in France.

Jean-Paul Guerlain, the inventor of such fragrances as Parure and Nahema, is being prosecuted for comments that he made during an interview on France 2, the state-owned television channel, in 2010.

Asked how he created Samsara, another of his perfumes, he said: "For once, I started working like a negro. I don't know if negroes have always worked like that, but still..."

The remark sparked furious protests outside Guerlain's boutique in the Champs Elysees in Paris and calls for a boycott of the company's products.

"He provoked the indignation of anti-racist associations," said Faycal Megherbi, a legal adviser for the Movement Against Racism and Friendship Between Peoples. "The slave trade went on for centuries and his words were very wounding."

The doggerel of the New Order: Sticks and stones may break my bones and words are very wounding.

The maximum sentence for making a public insult of a racist nature is six months in prison and a fine of $A23,000.

Mr Guerlain, 73, whose great-great-grandfather created the perfume house in 1828, has apologised for his remark, "which in no way reflects my true beliefs, but which was a slip of the tongue". He denies that the comment constitutes an offence and is expected to be present in court....

Race relations in France were already under strain after Claude Gueant, the Interior Minister, suggested on Saturday that European civilisation was superior to those of Muslim countries. Mr Gueant's claim that "not all civilisations are of equal value" has dominated the presidential campaign this week.

Serge Letchimy, a Socialist MP, accused him of promoting Nazi ideology, prompting ministers to leave the government bench in the French parliament and demand an apology.

But critics say that Mr Guerlain's comments suggest a colonial attitude in the French subconscious.


Since he was in effect saying that blacks are hard workers -- something not often heard these days -- it is hard to see where the slur lies. I guess you cannot safely say ANYTHING about blacks. I have commented on this case before


"Massive Anti-Bullying Law and Bullying Initiatives Were Based on Misleading Publicity"

by Hans Bader

“It launched a hundred ‘anti-bullying’ initiatives at all levels of government, but much of what you think you know about” the Tyler Clementi case “is probably wrong,” notes legal commentator Walter Olson at Overlawyered, the world’s oldest law blog. Andrew Sullivan discusses this as well, linking to Ian Parker’s article in The New Yorker.

We wrote earlier about how the current panic over bullying is leading to attacks on free speech, political debate, and free association in the schools; political pandering; dishonest stretching of existing federal laws by federal officials; and violations of basic principles of federalism.

Reason’s Jacob Sullum writes about New Jersey’s massively-long “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,” enacted after Clementi’s suicide at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, and how it infringes on free speech and imposes illegal unfunded mandates. When New Jersey passed this incredibly complicated anti-bullying law, which contains 18 pages of “required components,” that gave a huge boost to a burgeoning “anti-bullying” industry that seeks to define bullying as broadly as possible (to include things like “eye-rolling,” or always associating with the same group of friends) in order to create demand for its services. Hundreds of New Jersey schools “snapped up a $1,295 package put together by a consulting firm that includes a 100-page manual.”

Rod Dreher sees a lesson from the Clementi case about jumping to conclusions:

I too thought that Clementi had been outed after Ravi filmed him having sex. As Parker shows, Clementi was not closeted, and he wasn’t filmed having sex. And yes, Dharun Ravi [who is being prosecuted for hate crimes over the filming that allegedly caused Clementi's suicide] is an ass. But he is not facing criminal trial for being an ass. This is what moral panic does. . .It is hard for me to be fair [to the defendant] in these particular cases, but it is necessary to fight against my own instincts in this case and in every case. You too.

The Obama administration’s website defines bullying incredibly broadly in ways that conflict with freedom of speech and common sense. It defines “teasing” as a form of “bullying,” and “rude” or “hurtful” “text messages” as “cyberbullying.” Since “creating web sites” that “make fun of others” also is deemed “cyberbullying,” conservative websites that poke fun at the president are presumably guilty of cyberbullying under this strange definition. (Law professors like UCLA’s Eugene Volokh have criticized bills by liberal lawmakers like Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) that would ban some criticism of politicians as cyberbullying.)

Anti-bullying regulations can backfire and have bad consequences for child development. As a school official noted after passage of New Jersey’s sweeping anti-bullying law, “The anti-bullying law also may not be appropriate for our youngest students, such as kindergartners who are just learning how to socialize with their peers. Previously, name-calling or shoving on the playground could be handled on the spot as a teachable moment, with the teacher reinforcing the appropriate behavior. That’s no longer the case. Now it has to be documented, reviewed and resolved by everyone from the teacher to the anti-bullying specialist, principal, superintendent and local board of education.

SOURCE (See the original for links)



Welcome to the O.D.D. People Club: "Oppositional Defiance Disorder. A wonderful new disease. Now, if you oppose eauthority figures for philosophical reasons, and will not compromise your standards, you are mentally ill. If you oppose certain government programs, such as TSA sexual assaults in airports, the USA Patriot's Act, TARP, HARP, or Obamacare, you are mentally ill. If you support a full return of your 2nd Amendment rights, you are mentally ill. If Janet Reno considers you a possible terrorist threat (such as a member of the NRA, a returning Iraq War vet, pro life supporter, Libertarian, TEA Party member, or have a 'Don't Tread On Me' bumper sticker), it's because you are mentally ill. "

Liberal tax fantasies punctured: "Some liberals have the unrealistic fantasy that by increasing taxes on the top one percent of the population, the government can finance a radically expanded welfare state for the bottom 99 percent. (Never mind that even if we confiscated the entire annual income of the top one percent, it wouldn’t begin to cover the record, trillion-dollar federal budget deficit.) They assume that somewhere in Europe, there is a country that does just that, without harming its economy. Alas, there is no such country, anymore than unicorns exist."

Spain: Leftist judge convicted of wiretapping: "Spain's Supreme Court has found the country's best-known judge, Baltasar Garzon, guilty of authorising illegal recordings of lawyers' conversations. He has been banned from the legal profession for 11 years. The court said he could not appeal against the ruling. Mr Garzon is best known for helping to secure the arrest of the former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet in London."

US officials: Israel teams with Communist group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists: "Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders. he group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980."

GA: NRC approves first new US nuclear reactors since 1978: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the nation's first nuclear power plant in a generation on Thursday, clearing the way for Atlanta-based Southern Co. to build two reactors at its Plant Vogtle site near Augusta. The commission approved a license on a 4-1 vote over the objections of environmentalists and the NRC's own chairman, Gregory Jaczko. It's the first approval since 1978, the year before the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania."



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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Being Single Is a Luxury

Bryan Caplan

I'm baffled by people who blame declining marriage rates on poverty. Why? Because being single is more expensive than being married. Picture two singles living separately. If they marry, they sharply cut their total housing costs. They cut the total cost of furniture, appliances, fuel, and health insurance. Even groceries get cheaper: think CostCo.

These savings are especially blatant when your income is low. Even the official poverty line acknowledges them. The Poverty Threshold for a household with one adult is $11,139; the Poverty Threshold for a household with two adults is $14,218. When two individuals at the poverty line maintain separate households, they're effectively spending 2*$11,139-$14,218=$8,060 a year to stay single.

But wait, there's more. Marriage doesn't just cut expenses. It raises couples' income. In the NLSY, married men earn about 40% more than comparable single men; married women earn about 10% less than comparable single women. From a couples' point of view, that's a big net bonus. And much of this bonus seems to be causal.

If you're rich, admittedly, you have to consider the marriage tax. But weighed against all the financial benefits of marriage, it's usually only modest drawback.

Yes, you can capture some these benefits simply by cohabitating. But hardly all. And cohabitation is far less stable than marriage. Long-term joint investments - like buying a house - are a lot more likely to blow up in your face. And while there may be some male cohabitation premium, it's smaller than the marriage premium.

If being single is so expensive, why are the poor far less likely to get married and stay married? I'm sure you could come up with a stilted neoclassical explanation. But this is yet another case where behavioral economics and personality psychology have a better story. Namely: Some people are extremely impulsive and short-sighted. If you're one of them, you tend to mess up your life in every way. You don't invest in your career, and you don't invest in your relationships. You take advantage of your boss and co-workers, and you take advantage of your romantic partners. You refuse to swallow your pride - to admit that the best job and the best spouse you can get, though far from ideal, are much better than nothing. Your behavior feels good at the time. But in the long-run people see you for what you are, and you end up poor and alone.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Dishonorable Mentions

Like the writer below, the age of semi-literacy into which modern "education" has thrust us does rather give me the horrors. You have to think clearly to write well and that ability is disappearing. I see semi-literacy as a sign of degraded education generally. And the more degraded education is, the more susceptible people are to empty Leftist asssertions. -- JR

Last month, this column gave out awards for the ten greatest linguistic monstrosities of 2011. It was not required that the winners be born in that year — only that they had been prominently, glossily, and grossly overused in it.

I thought I'd made my decisions wisely, but evidently I was wrong. Word Watch has an intelligent and discerning audience, and there was a great outcry against my choices.

No one asserted that the ten expressions were innocent and charming victims of Cox's vindictive spleen. After all, who could defend “dead on arrival” (used for every piece of legislation one doesn’t like), “icon” (used for everything except religious pictures), or “epic” (used for everything whatever)? The objection in each case was to my omission of other candidates, expressions just as worthy of hatred and fear as the ones I mentioned.

There was merit — much merit — in the protests I received. It is therefore my duty, and my pleasure, to publicize some of the strongest additional candidates for inclusion among the Most Gruesome Expressions of the Year Just Past. Again, there’s no requirement that a contender should have originated in 2011. The distinguishing characteristic is disgusting overuse.

I’ll arrange this new set of linguistic freaks under four headings.

1. The labor theory of value

When the January Word Watch was published, an anonymous correspondent wrote immediately to ask, “What about the awful term ‘worker,’ which apparently we've all now become?” To which a reader named Rusty replied, “I would add 'working families' to the list.”

They're both right. The labor theory of value continues to spawn all kinds of smarmy words. The current use of “worker” (which I'm always tempted to pronounce as "woikuh," in the old Daily Woikuh style) is one of the most insidious items in our political vocabulary. It has no meaning of its own; it’s just a code for other things. Stupid other things.

My anonymous reader was getting at that when he noticed that we are all "workers" now. Yet because the word is used only to signify good things, certain parties are necessarily, though illogically, excluded. When President Obama uses the term, he plainly doesn’t mean “everyone who works.” He doesn’t mean people who work on “Wall Street” (however many thousands of those people he also has working in his own administration). He doesn’t mean employers. He doesn’t mean doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs. He means something like “manual or subordinate laborers.” He means the people whom he frequently pictures as “living from paycheck to paycheck.”

I don't know any Indian chiefs who live from paycheck to paycheck, but maybe that's because I don't know any Indian chiefs. I do know plenty of doctors and lawyers who live that way, just as I know plenty of people who work with their hands but have no problem meeting their mortgages. So Obama's moral or financial distinction between workers and — what? non-workers? — isn't worth a damn. Let me tell you, my doctor does a lot of work when he has to deal with me.

The core reference of this coded language of work is “union labor.” That type of labor is, understandably, a central concern of Obama's administration, since unions were crucial to making him president. Yet from the intellectual point of view (and Obama is supposed to be an intellectual), it’s too bad that he and his friends want to wipe the literal meaning of "work" completely off the map. If the unionized denizens of the DMV do “work,” and lifesaving medicos do not, then what happens to the concept of, well, work? What happens to "effort expended for a productive purpose"? It vanishes, that’s what.

I haven’t mentioned the odor of self-righteousness that now attaches to “worker,” the word. All so-called workers, such as our friends at the DMV, are assumed to be more deserving, more useful — in short, better than everyone else. This is simply, directly, and stupidly offensive. It’s worse when the reference spreads to people who don’t even pretend to work, as in “working families.” Now the two-year-old child of the DMV desk-holder is included among the Woikuhs of duh Woiurld, and the medical scientist remains in the outer darkness.

2. The awesomeness of awesomeness

Willard Brickey wrote to say, “Maybe you've mentioned it before, but ‘awesome’ is a word abused so often that it's practically impossible to use it in its original, legitimate sense.”

True. The current plague of “awesome” resulted from some mutation in the brains of skateboarders and other such people. For more than two decades, “awesome” has been employed as a universal adjective, the anointed successor to such words as “cool” and “incredible.” At first it was boards, waves, and dudes that were awesome; but soon it was everything — caps, tatts, high ‘n’ tights — that was in any way associated with maleness. (“Awesome” is a male-coded word.)

This disease had ugly precedents at the other end of the social spectrum from gamers and thrashers. Historically, “awesome” has been most strongly associated with religion. But at some point in the 20th century, people, even religious people, stopped being interested in traditional religious language. They were no longer sure what “awe” might mean, and they didn’t care. They recognized that the word itself must have some power, since it appeared in prayers and stuff like that, but they were confused by the “some” that often got attached to it. Unwilling to resort to a dictionary, they assumed that “awesome,” the adjective, was some kind of general intensifier that could be used on anything.

Here’s an example — with a fairly long preamble.

Virtually all Christian songs that are widely known today were introduced before the mid-twentieth century. One reason is that around that time — the time when the Baby Boom first went to school — many otherwise verbal people stopped being interested in traditional literary language. They suddenly didn’t know what “hither” meant, let alone “thither” — or “sustain,” “solace,” “deplore,” or “chide.” They stopped having enough language to write enduring songs. They stopped understanding songs that had been universally popular only a few years before. They couldn’t understand what the hymn writer meant when he said, in the moving last stanza of a song that used to be standard in Christian congregations:

God be with you till we meet again:
Keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
Smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

What, they wondered, could "smite" possibly mean? And how does a banner "float"? So songs like that began to vanish.

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian song that everyone still “knows.” It was written in the 18th century and popularized by its use in a movie (The Onion Field) in 1979. Despite its present popularity, which is generally based on a serious misunderstanding of its meaning, no one could write that kind of song today. It has too many of those, like, weird old expressions in it. It even refers to “snares.”

The only other universally recognized Christian song that was popularized after the mid-20th century is “How Great Thou Art.” To my ears, this song is the pale, bewildered ghost of a great tradition. One proof is that it begins in this way:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made . . .
Then sings my soul, my savior, God, to thee.
How great thou art! How great thou art!

When I hear those lines, my own soul says, “How dumb this is! How dumb this is!” Awesome doesn’t belong in there. The singer means that God is “awesome.” Fine. But what he says is that his own “wonder” is “awesome.” Which is dumb.

But why the hell shouldn’t he say it? Can’t awesome be applied to everything?

O Lord my God, it can be. But when you hear that anything-goes awesome, you are hearing the “ave atque vale” of our linguistic heritage. If you don’t know what “ave atque vale” means, go look it up. That will be an awesome experience for you.

Snobbish? I don’t care. Would you rather know something, or not know it?

[I think that "How great thou art" is one of the greatest hymns ever written but that use of "awesome" has always made me cringe. It is obviously a mistake for "awestruck" -- JR]

3. We hear he is a whiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was

Let’s proceed from the falsely sublime to the truly ridiculous. One reader insisted that I must have been paid not to mention the scandalous misuse of “General” and other honorifics. I wasn’t, unfortunately — but here’s what she meant.

The Attorney General of the United States is not a military officer. Neither is the Surgeon General of the United States. They are not generals. They never lead troops into battle. They are attorneys or surgeons ingeneral service to the nation. Yet when Eric Holder, the current Attorney General, came before Congress to testify about his role in the gunrunning operation known as Fast and Furious, he was repeatedly asked such questions as, “You’re not suggesting, are you, General Holder, that it wasn’t your responsibility to have known about this problem?” The questioning congressmen didn’t understand what Holder’s title meant — any more than congressmen, commentators, and other potentates understand that the Surgeon General should not be addressed as General or appear in the Ruritarian, supposedly military, uniforms in which, beginning with the Reagan administration, they have obtruded themselves on the public attention.

Worries about the Attorney General turned my reader’s attention to worries about political titles ingeneral, and their persistence in particular. “When,” she wondered, “do people stop being this or that which they have been in the past?”

Good question. Receiving it, I had fond memories of R.W. Bradford, founder of Liberty, who often lodged the same complaint.

At the House committee hearing called to investigate Jon Corzine’s behavior as head of the IMF investment outfit, Corzine revealed that he had no idea what had become of $1.2 billion invested with him. That was startling enough; almost as startling to me was the fact that Corzine sat behind a committee-provided sign that read, in big black letters, “The Honorable Jon S. Corzine.” Corzine is “honorable” because he used to be a senator and a state governor. Used to be (thank God).

The poet Wordsworth wrote insightfully of spiritual states that do not cease — that “having been, must ever be.” Apparently it’s the same with Corzine’s “honor.” No matter what happens, he keeps his titles, and even his moral additives, forever. He even keeps his middle initial, as if there were some other Jon Corzine, equally involved in both scandals and congressional investigations, who might otherwise be confused with him.

For God’s sake, isn’t there any statute of limitations for these political functionaries? When Gertrude Smith retires from the DMV, even she (one of the “woiking class”) isn’t addressed as Counter Clerk Smith for the rest of her life. So why is Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, solemnly addressed as “Speaker Gingrich,” 13 years after he stopped being speaker? Is he likely to be mistaken for some other Gingrich, currently running for president?




The horrors of getting approval for an ice cream parlour in San Francisco: "The tragedy of the anti-commons is a useful concept for understanding a prevalent type of government failure in both poor and rich countries–excessive permit and licensing requirements. A pervasive multiple licensing system can create an impenetrable conjunctive permission line that even the most energetic cannot overcome. To start a business, to build, to hire, to sell, you need first to convince bureaucrat A and B and C and D and so on. The longer the conjunctive line, the less frequently entrepreneurs enter the market with new products and services. The transaction costs for dealing with each bureaucrat are very high, as is the likelihood that any single one will say no. The upshot is an impoverished society."

Economics lessons for President Obama: "President Obama keeps telling us that our taxes are too low. Really? But how can that be when all the formerly communist ex-Soviet republics now have lower tax rates than America. Do they know something that we don’t? Obama keeps telling us that we must tax the rich at higher rates, just like our friends in Europe. But there’s a big problem. The tax and spend European system is broken. Not just broken, but broke."

UK: “No negotiations” on Falklands: "Britain on Wednesday dismissed a complaint from Argentina about the 'militarization of the South Atlantic' as tensions rise regarding the Falkland Islands, over which the two countries fought a war 30 years ago. 'The people of the Falkland Islands are British out of choice,' the British Foreign Office said in a statement. 'They are free to determine their own future, and there will be no negotiations with Argentina on sovereignty unless the Islanders wish it.'"

WA: House approves homosexual marriage bill: "Washington’s same-sex marriage bill is on its way to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing in the next few days. The Democrat-controlled state House voted 55 to 43 this afternoon to approve Senate Bill 6239. ... Republican efforts to attach a referendum clause to the bill died on a 47-to-51 vote. Opponents including the evangelical Faith and Freedom Network have pledged to mount a referendum or initiative to repeal the law, and one activist has already filed Initiative 1192 to limit marriages by law to one man and one woman."



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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

How do I get rid of the green underlining?

Most of my blogs have just today become infected with green underlining of words here and there. Clicking such a word leads to advertising. Can anybody tell me how to get rid of it?

Now fixed. They have an optout facility on each popup -- via the "?"

I was getting it while using Chrome only. Firefox didn't have it. I would still like to know how they got into my browser.

IQ, conservatism and racism

On 22nd January I commented on claims by two Canadian psychologists to the effect that conservatives and racists have low IQs. One look at the study told me that it was brainless so I just reproduced the journal abstract and pointed out two of the things that made it brainless. I didn't see any point in a detailed look at the paper.

The study has however become much celebrated in Green/Left quarters, with the ineffable Monbiot in the vanguard. Monbiot's entry into the discussion has however energized a few ripostes from conservatives, with the most amusing point being that after Leftists telling us for decades that IQ scores are meaningless they suddenly have done an 180 degree turn and treat them as highly meaningful!

I thought I might add something to what I regard as the two best conservative responses to the original article. The first is in The Telegraph and makes a number of good points, all of which are worth reading.

I want to say more about just one of them: The point that IQ was measured during childhood (10 or 11 years of age) and that such measures are unreliable. That is however a matter of degree and of purpose. They are accurate enough to be a useful guide to who will benefit from a selective (more demanding) education, for instance.

An interesting aspect of scores at that age, however, is what I call the chimpanzee effect. In brief, this effect is that dummies mature faster so a relatively high score in childhood can lead to a relatively low score in adulthood. So it is quite possible that the high scorers in the data used by the Canadian authors became relatively low scorers later on. So if the high scorers in that body of data were later found to be liberals, it is quite possible that the same people were dummies in later life! So the data could be said to show the opposite of what the authors claim. The data could be said to suggest that it was the liberals who were the dummies.

That is all just speculation, however, The truth is that the data are incapable of telling us which way around it went at all.

That little point is really just a bit of fun, however. The second article by statistician Briggs is by far the most pointed. Briggs had a strong enough stomach to read the whole article. And when he did, he basically found that the authors had misrepresented their results. The correlations with IQ were in fact negligible. They were statistically significant but statistical significance is only a correction for small sample size and the sample sizes in the data used by the Canadians were large.

So statistical significance is irrelevant. It is other forms of significance we have to look at. Let me put it this way: What the Canadians found was (roughly) that out of 100 high IQ people, 51 would be liberals and 49 would be conservatives. Such a near-even split means of course that IQ is essentially irrelevant to ideology, or is not a socially or scientifically significant predictor of ideology.

Now we come to "racism". The correlations between conservatism and racism were more substantial. Briggs rightly detects the flaw in that. The correlation is between WHAT THE AUTHORS SAY is conservatism and racism and there is no external validation of either measure. So all I want to do is draw attention to something I set out long ago: That even eminent Leftist psychologists have NO IDEA what conservatism is. A much noted paper in the field even identified Stalin, Khrushchev and Castro as conservatives! Can you get any madder than that? So it is no wonder that when they use their questionnaires to predict how people will vote, they find that "conservatives" AS IDENTIFIED BY THEM are just as likely to vote Democrat as Republican (for instance). How clueless can you get? What is going on of course is that Leftist psychologists swallow hook line and sinker of Leftist propaganda about conservatives. They believe that conservatives really are as Leftist propaganda describes them. It would appear that they never bother to talk to any actual conservatives to find out what they really think.

By contrast, I am a conservative so a questionnaire that I devised based on a thorough knowledge of what conservatism actually is, did what the Leftist questionnaires could not: Provided a substantial prediction of vote. See here. So once again the arrogance and ignorance of the Left has led them to a false understanding of reality and scientific work that is futile and useless. The work by the two Canadian authors certainly tells us NOTHING about the correlations with conservatism. I have written more extensively elsewhere about the relationship between conservatism and IQ.

For reference, the Canadian study is: "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact" by Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri


The Breivik salute

I did not immediately comment on this because I thought it would be obvious to everyone -- but apparently not. When Breivik last faced court over his massacre he gave a salute as he came into the courtroom. His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said was 'some kind of Right-wing extremist greeting.'

It was not, of course. It was a COMMUNIST salute. The Communist salute is a clenched-fist salute while the Fascist salute is with an open hand.

What the significance is we can only speculate. While it is true that he mostly read and cited conservative sources in the buildup to his actions, that was rather inevitable given his dissatisfaction with Muslims. Only conservatives have the guts to call a spade a spade where Muslims are concerned. Breivik's other ideas could perfectly well be Leftist.

And his desire to restore traditional Norwegian society is in keeping with that idea. Norway is a very Leftist place and it was only their failure to deal with the Muslim problem that caused the Social Democrats to lose votes in the last election. We may note, for example, that a doctor was recently denied employment at a Norwegian hospital because he did not believe in the Theory of Evolution. See here. Pretty extreme.

That it was Leftists whom Breivik killed makes no odds. Rival Leftist groupings have a long history of killing one-another. The ice-pick in the head that Trotsky got from Stalin is a case in point.


If You Got A 'Free' Colonoscopy, Thank Bill Dunphy - He Helped Pay For It

Under ObamaCare, Medicare and private insurers are supposed to eliminate the co-pays for preventive care such as colonoscopies. Politicians and ObamaCare crusaders refer to this as “free preventive care.” Those in the real world call it “shifting the cost to someone else.”

That someone else is Bill Dunphy: Bill Dunphy thought his colonoscopy would be free. His insurance company told him it would be covered 100%, with no co-payment from him and no charge against his deductible. The nation’s two-year-old health law requires most insurance plans to cover all costs for preventive care, including colon cancer screening. So Dunphy had the procedure in April. Then the bill arrived: $1,100.

Dunphy, a 61-year-old Phoenix small-business owner, angrily paid it out of his own pocket because of what some prevention advocates call a loophole. His doctor removed two noncancerous polyps during the colonoscopy. So while Dunphy was sedated, his preventive screening turned into a diagnostic procedure. That allowed his insurance company to bill him.

Now that insurers can no longer charge co-pays for colonoscopies, they have to find a way to make up the cost. They could raise premiums, although that risks losing customers. Far better to require folks like Dunphy whose preventive procedure morphs into a diagnostic one to pay the whole bill. That’s $1,100 the insurance company won’t have to pay. And if the average co-pay for a colonoscopy is $50, Dunphy helped pay for the “free” colonoscopy for 22 patients whose colons were squeaky clean. In short, the sick are helping to pay for the healthy.

Last year IBD noted that Medicare Advantage was dealing with “free” preventive services by charging co-pays on chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment for cancer patients. We dubbed this “reducing costs on the back end.” That is, to stay in business insurance companies will impose cost-sharing or deny care when patients are sickest and in most need of the protection that insurance is supposed to provide.

We also noted who are the prime beneficiaries of reducing costs on the back end:
This may not fit the needs of patients very well, but it suits the needs of politicians quite well. After all, politicians want to maximize their political survival. They can please voters by giving them lots of “free” stuff, and the more voters you can so please, the better. Lots of voters want free preventive care, so politicians find it worthwhile to force insurers to give it to them. Far fewer voters, however, will develop a serious illness, so protecting them is not nearly as useful for politicians who wish to get re-elected.

The truly insidious thing about it is that politicians will be able to blame others for the problems they have created. They will get on their high horse and excoriate the heartless and cruel insurers like Independence Blue Cross. Politicians excel at obfuscation, making it difficult, as Thomas Sowell says, to trace their fingerprints back to the murder weapon.



Economic Chaos Ahead

Let's think about the kind of mess that we're in. Federal 2010 Medicare and Medicaid expenditures totaled $800 billion. The projected annual growth of both programs is about 7 percent. Social Security expenditures are more than $700 billion a year. According to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare trustees reports, by 2030, 49 percent of federal revenues will go for Social Security and Medicare payments. The unfunded liability of both programs is already $106 trillion.
But not to worry. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it's possible to sustain today's level of federal spending and even achieve a balanced budget. All that Congress would have to do is raise the lowest income tax bracket of 10 percent to 25 percent and the middle tax bracket of 25 percent to 66 percent and raise the 35 percent tax bracket to 92 percent. That's a static vision that assumes that people will have no response and they'll work just as hard and send more money to Washington. If Congress did legislate such tax increases, it would be the economic equivalent of committing national hara-kiri.

Professor Daniel Klein, editor of Econ Journal Watch, and Professor Tyler Cowen, general director of the Mercatus Center, both based at George Mason University, organized a symposium to promote a better understanding of the U.S. debt crisis. The symposium's title, "U.S. Sovereign Debt Crisis: Tipping-Point Scenarios and Crash Dynamics" (, is a strong hint about the seriousness of our nation's plight.

Professor Cowen introduced the symposium pointing out that in 2011, the major crisis was in the eurozone, where Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland dealt with the risk of default. The survival of the eurozone is now seriously doubted. Cowen added: "When it comes to a sovereign debt crisis, it is no longer possible to say 'it can't happen here.' Right now, we are borrowing about 40 cents of every dollar the federal government spends, and the imbalance has no end in sight."

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, associate professor of economics at San Jose State University, says that a default on Treasury securities appears inevitable. He says that the short-run consequences for the economy will be painful but that the long-run consequences, both political and economic, could be beneficial. That's because an economic collapse is the only way we will come to our senses. That's a tragic statement about the foresight of the American people.

Participant Garrett Jones, associate professor of economics at George Mason University, is a bit more optimistic, seeing default as being less likely. But he argues that "default is still possible, and the GOP offers a uniquely American path to default: an unwillingness to raise taxes."

Dr. Arnold Kling is a member of the Financial Market Working Group at the Mercatus Center and tells us that the "U.S. government has made a set of promises that it cannot keep." He says that the "promises that are most important to change are Social Security and Medicare."

Joseph J. Minarik is senior vice president and director of research at the Committee for Economic Development. He argues that a "U.S. financial meltdown today is eminently avoidable. The wealthiest nation on earth, despite a painful economic slowdown, maintains the wherewithal to pay its bills. The open question is whether it maintains the will and the wisdom."

Peter J. Wallison holds the Arthur F. Burns chair in financial policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He agrees with Kling that "the most likely source of a U.S. sovereign debt crisis ... is a failure of the U.S. political system to address the growth of the major entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

My translation of the symposium's conclusions is that it is by no means preordained that our nation must suffer the same decline as have other great nations of the past -- England, France, Spain, Portugal and the Ottoman and Roman empires. All evidence suggests that we will suffer a similar decline because, as Professor Cowen says, "the American electorate has dug in against both major tax increases and major spending cuts."




Let us hope that the euro and the EU do collapse: "Now yes, agreed, I am known for my euroscepticism, both of the very EU system and of the currency, thinking them both thoroughly bad ideas from start to finish. But I'd like to point out that there are those not as entirely crankish as I am on the subject who think that the toppling of one or both wouldn't be so bad: could even be desirable."

South Carolina sues DoJ over blocked voter ID law: "The U.S. Justice Department was wrong to block South Carolina from requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification to vote, the state's top prosecutor argued in a lawsuit filed Tuesday. ... The Justice Department in December rejected South Carolina's law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, saying tens of thousands of the state's minorities might not be able to cast ballots under the new law because they don't have the right photo ID."

CA: 9th Circus rules in favor of homosexual marriage: "A federal appeals panel in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a decision that could lead to the Supreme Court’s consideration of the controversial social issue. By a 2 to 1 vote, the panel overturned the proposition, which was approved by 52 percent of the state’s voters in 2008 and amended the state’s Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman." [No surprise. This was always going to go to SCOTUS]

Battle for reform starts in Wisconsin: "If a national symbol exists for the movement to rein in the power of public employee unions, it is Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker. He pushed aggressive measures to curb the power and influence of government unions and now faces a union-funded recall campaign, which, if successful will empower unions and expand their power in Wisconsin and throughout the country, including in California."



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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Eloquence in Defense of Liberty

Mike Adams

On January 27, 2012, the 6th Circuit issued a landmark opinion in Ward v. Wilbanks. It is the biggest federal court victory for campus First Amendment rights since my own victory before the 4th Circuit last April. What is striking about the Ward opinion is the thread of common sense running through every aspect of its analysis. Even more striking is the eloquence of the 6th Circuit as it defends fundamental religious freedom against a full-frontal assault from the LGBT community.

Julea Ward was one of many counseling students being coerced into affirming homosexuality by a state-run institution. She did not seek to force homosexuals to change their conduct through religious-based corrective therapy. She simply sought to refer homosexual clients to other counselors when those clients demanded affirmation of their conduct. Eastern Michigan University sought to force Julea into a cruel trilemma by accepting one of the following options:

1. Lie to clients by telling them she approved of their conduct, or

2. Abandon her religious beliefs regarding sexuality, or

3. Leave the counseling profession altogether.

Julea’s preference was pretty simple: refer homosexual (and some heterosexual) clients to others more willing to affirm their conduct. For this she was expelled from the counseling program. Then the trial court granted summary judgment preventing Julea from having her day in court.

Julea Ward appealed to the 6th Circuit and won a unanimous reversal. The judges concluded that a reasonable jury could have found that Ward’s professors ejected her from the counseling program because of their own personal hostility toward her speech and faith, rather than a policy against referrals. In other words, that was simply a pretext to punish her for her beliefs.

The 6th Circuit judges wondered out loud just what Julea Ward did wrong. She was willing to work with all clients and to respect the school’s affirmation directives in the process. That is precisely why she asked to refer gay and lesbian clients (and some heterosexual clients) – but only if the conversation required her to affirm their sexual practices. After noting her compliance with the rule, the 6th Circuit raised interesting hypothetical questions. For example, would the ban on discrimination against clients based on their religion require a Muslim counselor to tell a Jewish client that his religious beliefs are correct? Would it require an atheist counselor to tell a person of faith that there is a God?

After suggesting that the answer to both of those hypotheticals would be “no,” the 6th Circuit delivered a line certain to irreparably damage the self-esteem of the Eastern Michigan diversity crowd: “Tolerance is a two-way street. Otherwise, the rule mandates orthodoxy, not anti-discrimination.” In other words, the 6th Circuit accused the institution of promoting intolerance – the very thing it said it was committed to eradicating. Ouch.

The 6th Circuit also noted that many of the faculty members’ statements to Ward raise a similar concern about religious discrimination. They noted that a reasonable jury could find that the university dismissed Ward from its counseling program because of her faith-based speech, not because of any legitimate professional or educational objective. They added, “A university cannot compel a student to alter or violate her belief systems based on a phantom policy as the price for obtaining a degree.” Government taxation and regulation of religious beliefs is a serious accusation. Now, the issue will go to a jury.

One interesting aspect of the case is that the university did not even argue that its actions could withstand strict scrutiny. The 6th Circuit agreed adding “Whatever interest the university served by expelling Ward, it falls short of compelling. Allowing a referral would be in the best interest of Ward (who could counsel someone she is better able to assist) and the client (who would receive treatment from a counselor better suited to discuss his relationship issues).”

This is all just plain common sense. Everyone was fine except for a handful of professors with too much time on their hands and too little tolerance for the idea that someone, somewhere, somehow did not share their claimed commitment to moral relativism. Or course, Julea Ward’s professors really do not believe in moral relativism. They believe they are morally superior to Julea and have the authority to levy taxes on her “inferior” belief system.

For years, homosexuals have opposed the idea that they are sick, in need of change, and somehow capable of being cured by the counseling profession. Today, homosexuals promote the idea that Christians are sick, in need of change, and somehow capable of being cured by the counseling profession. Fortunately, the 6th Circuit is Warding off their sanctimonious hypocrisy and narrow-minded assault on intellectual diversity.



Government by Ignoramuses

Abetted by a media that is not much better

The country’s problems, although very serious, aren’t that tough to solve. For anyone with a heartbeat and a healthy does of realism, our biggest problem is government intervention.

This crisis has been brought on by federal intervention in various markets that inject liquidity into too few places that give a sustainable, positive return on investment. Let’s look at three areas where federal dollars dominate: college education; real estate and healthcare.

In college education, the federal government is the only player left. Last year, for the first time ever, student loan obligations exceeded credit card obligations. This year, according to both Heritage and USA Today student borrowing is expected to top $1 trillion.

“Tuition and fees continue to shoot through the roof, now exceeding $17,000 per year, rising on average 8.3 percent at public universities this year,” writes Heritage. “[C]ollege costs have increased 439 percent since 1985, despite a 475 percent increase in federal subsidies such as Pell Grants. In other words, more federal funding hasn’t decreased the cost of attending college.”

In fact, the college inflation rate probably has much to do with the amount of federal aid available to colleges. Colleges, like every other business, raise prices when more money for their products is available.

The cost of a college education is rising so fast that students can’t pay off loans, even with subsidized interest rates from the government. “A recent study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy found that for every borrower who defaults,” writes the New York Times, “at least two more fall behind in payments. The study found that only 37 percent of borrowers who started repaying their student loans in 2005 were able to pay them back fully and on time.”

The government’s solution to the problem of too much money in education is throwing more taxpayer dollars at colleges and universities.

Same is true for real estate. After three decades of subsidizing home ownership in the United States, the federal government helped fuel real estate prices to speculative levels and encouraged the least able to repay to borrow money with government guarantees.

4th quarter foreclosures rates rose again at the end of 2011. “Foreclosure starts…increased this quarter,” write the Mortgage Bankers Association, “the first increase in a year after declining for three straight quarters, and is now back up to the levels of the first quarter of 2011. This is largely driven by loans leaving the loss mitigation process and the ending of state remediation programs and foreclosure moratoria.”

In other words, now that the government has stopped interceding in the private contracts between mortgage holders and home owners, foreclosures are resuming the natural course that they could have taken five years ago. But instead the government has intervened and kept the real estate market and home owners sickly, affecting the whole economy.

According to the FDIC, “The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the government mortgage insurance program Ginnie Mae together account for more than 95 percent of total MBS [mortgage-backed security] issuance since 2008.”

That hasn’t stopped Obama from proposing the Federal Housing Authority absorb bigger losses or pressuring private banks to make home loans easier to get in continuation of the failed policies of the past. These are the same banks that the federal government is suing for making loans to people who couldn’t afford to repay them.

Remember too big to fail? There are more toxic assets concentrated in fewer and fewer places, most held by the federal government, guaranteed by you and me. And these policies were deliberately crafted by the Obama administration.

The story for healthcare is much the same. The largest customer, insurer and payer for healthcare is the federal government.

And government money, combined with demographics have fueled rising costs for healthcare. “The new numbers are consistent with a trend that from August 2000 to August 2010 has seen healthcare inflation rise 48% while overall Consumer Price Index has risen 26% for the same period, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show,” writes HealthLeaders Media.

Again, Obama’s idea of reform is having the government be the only player in healthcare. You know? Because that worked so well for real estate and student loans.

But the most maddening part in the tale is that financial journalists won’t cover the story. Instead of writing about the deleterious effects of federal involvement in healthcare, real estate, student loans, energy and every other area of our economy that is suffering, they often pose as cheerleaders for the administration.

Covering the latest cooked books from Bureau of Labor Statistic regarding unemployment, Don Lee of the LA Times glosses over the fact that real unemployment is at 11.3 percent rather than 8.3 percent the administration claims. Instead he chooses to take issue with Newt Gingrich’s claim that if people hadn’t dropped out of the labor pool that the “unemployment rate would now be 12% or 13%.”

Well, yeah says Lee. Buuuuuut, “while Gingrich has a point that the latest jobless rate understates the pain among workers, the unemployment figure still wouldn't be as high as he says it would be if workers hadn't dropped out. Rather, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimates the unemployment rate today would be 11.3% if the labor force had grown at a ‘normal’ rate since the end of 2007.”

Sure. Gingrich has a point, but his over-estimation of unemployment by seven-tenths of one percent is somehow more dishonest than the administration’s undercounting of unemployment by three full points. You have to go to journalism school to be that intellectually bankrupt?

Those idiot Republicans. Would it really kill Lee to admit that conservatives are r-r-r-r-right on this issue? Probably not. But it would kill something more important to him- his world view.

In fairness to journalists like Lee, they are hobbled by their post-modern desire to live in a world that conforms to their vision rather than having their vision conform to the realities of the world. It’s not their fault. They are just that dumb.



The Smallest Workforce Since Carter

The recent labor reports certainly have some encouraging news. New jobs in January estimated at 243,000 and a decline in unemployment to 8.3 percent suggests that the economy might be headed in the right direction. But, another key indicator that doesn’t get the attention of the jobs number or the unemployment rate shows that all is definitely not well.

As the following graph courtesy of the Labor Department demonstrates, the Labor Participation Rate (LPR) continues to decline. The LPR measures the number of people employed or looking for work compared to the total of age eligible population. As the graph indicates, the LPR has been on decline since the recession began, and it made another significant move downward to just 63.7 percent in January. That is the lowest since Carter era recession year of 1981.

The declining LPR is a clear indication that more Americans continue to give up on even finding employment as the failed economic policies of Barack Obama infect the market place with anxiety and uncertainty. A higher LPR indicates more people bringing home a paycheck and greater economic output. Until there is a sustained turnaround in the LPR, any talk of “recovery” is premature.

Source (See the original for links)


The steady decline of Pakistan

For 65 years Pakistanis have been conducting one of modern history’s great experiments: Can a nation conceived as Islamic be free and democratic-- the vision of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah? Or will Pakistan’s identity be defined by “forces that want us to live in fear—fear of external and internal enemies."

The words quoted above were spoken by Husain Haqqani to the Wall Street Journal’s Mira Sethi. Until November, Haqqani was Pakistan's ambassador to Washington where he was a popular figure, a proud Pakistani patriot and a liberal-democratic Muslim intellectual tirelessly making the case that Pakistan should be seen as an important ally deserving of respect, moral support and material assistance.

Haqqani is now back in Pakistan – a guest in the home of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and, as Sethi phrases it, the “de facto prisoner of the Pakistani generals whose ire he has provoked.” Beyond the doors of Gilani’s Islamabad residence, Haqqani fears, assassins await.

This is not just about one man: If Pakistan has become a nation that can’t tolerate a Husain Haqqani, Pakistan has become an intolerant nation, a nation in danger of becoming what Haqqani’s wife, parliamentarian Farahnaz Ispahani, has called a “militarized Islamist state.” Certainly, it would be time to stop regarding Pakistan as a friend of the United States.

When I was last in Pakistan, two years ago, on a visit sponsored by the State Department, the U.S. Congress had just approved – thanks in large measure to Haqqani’s efforts – a $7.5 billion aid package. To my shock, this elicited little gratitude and much grumbling. Why? Because American envoys were to ensure that American taxpayer dollars would be spent to alleviate poverty and fight terrorists -- not for other purposes. People were angry with Haqqani for having accepted such “conditionality.”

I recall the U.S. ambassador getting grilled on a Pakistani television program and sounding apologetic. I told anyone who asked – and some who didn’t --- that aid is not an entitlement; that we Americans have every right to specify how our money should be spent; that Haqqani was correct not to complain about such commonsensical restrictions; and that if other Pakistanis disagree they can tear up our checks. No hard feelings....

During my last visit, however, Pakistan was different. Over the course of a single week, four terrorist attacks were carried out -- one of them targeting the Pakistani equivalent of the Pentagon where Taliban insurgents, armed with automatic weapons, grenades, and rocket launchers, fought for 22 hours. I expected such violence to outrage Pakistanis – to make them implacable foes of terrorism and the ideologies that drive it. But that was not necessarily the case.

A too-common view: The Taliban that attacks Pakistanis should be condemned but the Taliban that attacks Americans may be condoned. America, after all, had wronged Afghanistan by abandoning it after the Soviet defeat, and then had wronged it a second time by returning. The self-contradiction in these indictments generally went unrecognized.




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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

Deep dishonor in America's Leftist academe

The Humanities faculty at Durham's Duke University have demonstrated bigoted anti-white attitudes that are perfectly mainstream among such faculty at American universities. An amazing total of 88 of them signed the now notorious condemnation of the innocent Duke lacrosse players before the players had even appeared in court, let alone been convicted. Their hatred of American society immediately blasted away the centuries of wisdom which said "innocent until proven guilty". And the wisdom of that maxim was shown when the players were found NOT guilty.

So what is still going on at Duke can reasonably be extrapolated to at least the Humanities departments of America's universities and colleges. And that is not pretty.

One of the Lacrosse players who was NOT accused by the pathetic Crystal Gail Mangum was nonetheless caught up in the blast and suspended by the university at roughly the same time as the other players. He is now suing. As you can read here, Ryan McFadyen is arguably the person who behaved with greatest honor in the whole affair. He certainly behaved with greater honor than prosecutor Nifong or Durham police -- who tried to suborn him into giving false evidence. There is another glimpse of his character here.

And when McFadyen refused to be intimidated into giving false evidence, Nifong and the police must have realized that he had put them into a dangerous position. Fabricating evidence is a crime with severe penalties. So they immediately went all-out to blacken his name. And that blackening still shows up today in that he has become something of a hate figure to many.

So he is now suing over that defamation and the illegal and improper behaviour of all concerned in the matter.

The trial has however produced some document disclosures that reveal the full depth of the moral depravity of senior Duke U officials. The documents contain bombshell emails from Duke President Brodhead and others suggesting that Duke's primary concern was to protect its PR, even if that meant sacrificing innocent students.

In documents submitted February 3 by Plaintiffs' lawyers, President Brodhead is quoted in an email sent very early in the case to other Duke staff:

“Friends: a difficult question is, how can we support our lacrosse players at a devastatingly hard time without seeming to lend aid and comfort to their version of the story? We can’t do anything to side with them, or even, if they are exonerated, to imply that they behaved with honor. The central admin can't, nor can Athletics.”

And Joe Alleva, then of the Duke Athletic Dept., also testified during his deposition on January 20, 2012, that he made positive and truthful statements about Plaintiffs and their teammates’ character at the University’s press conference on March 28, 2006.

Mr. Alleva testified that he was “crucified” immediately afterwards for making those statements by President Brodhead himself and in front of the Crisis Management Team, all of whom knew how “off-message” Mr. Alleva’s truthful, positive statements about plaintiffs were.

Alleva was the one who later told Duke lacrosse coach Pressler that "it's not about the truth" any longer; that the case was about the interest groups and the integrity (reputation) of the university. (Hence the title of coach Pressler's book, "It's not about the truth").

Or as Robert K. Steel (then chairman of Duke's Board of Trustees) said in explaining why Duke would not be defending its falsely-accused students: "Sometimes people have to suffer for the good of the organization". More details here

You would think that all the exposure of their moral depravity might have created some caution among Duke faculty about race-related matters. It does not appear to have done so. Just a few days ago I ran a large excerpt (scroll down) from an article which summarized the Arcidiacono affair. I will simply refer readers to there for a treatment of that little explosion of rage and hate. See HERE for the full article. Having their warped view of America threatened is intolerable to Duke's Leftist Mafia.

No Leftist will admit it of course but I cannot see why Duke should be regarded as atypical. I don't think there is anything especially poisonous in the air at North Carolina. I think we have seen coming to the surface at Duke what is smouldering away beneath the surface at most of America's universities and colleges. They are true heirs of Stalin and the ghastly Soviet Union. They are a nest of vipers.


Nasty Leftists and Wikipedia

I have received the following email from a reader:

You might be interested to hear that I corrected the Right Wing entry on Wikipedia which said that the Right are essentially Fascists.

It was an object lesson (for me) in the sheer nastiness of the Left. I found it very easy to undermine their arguments -- their hatred outruns their knowledge by some distance -- but one person in particular who calls himself THE FOUR DEUCES waged a Wikipedia campaign against me, in alliance with others, deleting my comments, trying to get me banned, saying I was a "sock puppet", deleting any change on the grounds that it was not discussed, that I was using marginal or discredited sources, and so forth, indeed any trick in the book he could think of to have me deleted.

To the credit of Wikipedia his every attempt failed, but I saw close up what I can only describe as the psychopathology of the Left.

Anyway, I mention this because in the Talkpages on the Right-Wing entry somebody the other day was saying that the Right are racists, and I linked to your paper about the Left and Racism.

This was immediately attacked by The Four Deuces who said you were a discredited source, and that it was irrelevant, and to support his case he linked to a paper in which the writers said you were an anti-Semitic Nazi.

It was a stupid paper of course, but I was interested to see that the dispute in question, about the Authoritarian Personality, had a Wikipedia page, from which The Four Deuces had deleted every single reference to your work.

Now you may be right, you may be wrong, but the sheer totalitarian nature of their mentality is a real eye opener for me. Nobody was allowed to hear of your work. It confirmed (to me) what you have been saying about the Left for some time. Totalitarian. Nasty.


More poisonous Leftism in academe: If you are accused of racism you must not defend yourself

To do so is "Retaliation" and that is an offense itself, apparently. It's a private university mentioned below so no first Amendment protection. A defamation action could succeed, though.

by lawyer HANS BADER

Keeping quiet can seal your fate if you are a professor facing a campus kangaroo court after being wrongly accused of racial or sexual “harassment” based on your classroom speech. Civil-liberties advocates, like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, rely heavily on adverse publicity to save wrongly accused professors from being disciplined and fired by campus disciplinary bodies. They put to good use Justice Brandeis’s insight that publicity deters wrongdoing and helps cure social evils. As Brandeis once noted, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

But as the plight of Lawrence Connell at Widener University School of Law illustrates, if an accused professor speaks up, resulting in possible adverse publicity for his accusers, he increasingly risks being punished for “retaliation” against them, even when harassment charge is baseless. Connell was convicted of “retaliation” because he and his lawyer denounced meritless racial harassment charges against him over his classroom teaching. Retaliation charges have become a growing threat to academic freedom, fueled by court rulings that provide murky and conflicting guidance as to what speech can constitute illegal “retaliation.”

Professor Connell was charged with racial harassment and removed from Widener’s campus because he discussed hypothetical crimes in his criminal law class, including the imaginary killing of the law school dean, Linda Ammons, who happens to be black. (He was also accused of harassment because he “expressed his philosophical concerns about the fairness and utility of hate crime” laws.)

But Connell did not select the dean for use in these hypotheticals because of her race, nor was there any evidence that he had a racist motive for doing so. (Comments are not “racial harassment” unless they target a victim based on her race, and are severe and pervasive, according to Caver v. City of Trenton, a ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Widener.) Far from being a racist, Connell had spent 15 years successfully working to save the life of a black man who had been sentenced to die after he was convicted of murder by an all-white jury.

Leading law professors filed affidavits in support of Connell pointing out that discussing hypothetical crimes against law deans was standard practice for law professors who teach criminal law. George Washington University’s Orin Kerr noted that ”one of the common ways that law professors keep students mildly entertained in class is by posing hypotheticals involving their professors and the Dean. . . . students just love it. If you teach first-year criminal law,” “that means you spend a lot of time imagining your colleagues meeting horrible fates.” In Bauer v. Sampson, a court ruled that depicting a college official’s imaginary death was protected by the First Amendment.

After Professor Connell was exonerated by a committee of law professors, the charges against him were resubmitted, in Kafkaesque fashion, to a disciplinary panel including Dean Ammons herself, another Widener administrator, and a professor hand-picked by Ammons.

While even this new panel was forced to concede the obvious — that Connell had not committed racial harassment – it found him guilty of two acts of “retaliation”: the first was an e-mail protesting his innocence after he was suspended and banned from campus, and the second was his lawyer’s public statement that he was preparing to sue over the unfounded allegations. The e-mail called the accusations against him “preposterous” and said that they were made by “two unnamed students from my Criminal Law class of spring 2010″ who “falsely” quoted and took “out of context” his classroom “remarks.” The panel deemed the email to be illegal retaliation, even though the e-mail did not even name the accusers, because the e-mail supposedly had the “foreseeable effect of identifying the complainants.” (The e-mail led to students speculating about who the complainants were, and a complainant suspected that others “believed that she was one of the complaining students.”) Connell was then suspended for a year without pay. As a condition of reinstatement, he must undergo psychiatric treatment, and be deemed sufficiently “cured” before he is allowed to return to his classroom.

Much more here (See the original for links)


Capitalism, Corporatism, and the Freed Market

Benito Mussolini. His system has triumphed

When a front-running presidential contender tells the country that thanks to Barack Obama, “[w]e are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy,” one is left scratching one’s head. How refreshing it is, then, to hear a prominent establishment economist – a Nobel laureate yet — tell it straight:
The managerial state has assumed responsibility for looking after everything from the incomes of the middle class to the profitability of large corporations to industrial advancement. This system . . . is . . . an economic order that harks back to Bismarck in the late nineteenth century and Mussolini in the twentieth: corporatism.

Columbia University Professor Edmund S. Phelps, who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in economics, and his coauthor, Saifedean Ammous, assistant professor of economics at the Lebanese American University, write that the U.S. economy ceased to be a free market some time ago, yet the free market is blamed for the economic crisis. (The real question is whether the American economy was ever really free.)

Phelps and Ammous condemn corporatism unequivocally.
In various ways, corporatism chokes off the dynamism that makes for engaging work, faster economic growth, and greater opportunity and inclusiveness. It maintains lethargic, wasteful, unproductive, and well-connected firms at the expense of dynamic newcomers and outsiders, and favors declared goals such as industrialization, economic development, and national greatness over individuals’ economic freedom and responsibility. Today, airlines, auto manufacturers, agricultural companies, media, investment banks, hedge funds, and much more has [sic] at some point been deemed too important to weather the free market on its own, receiving a helping hand from government in the name of the “public good.”

State-Chosen Goals

It’s great that their list includes the corporate state’s declaration of goals. Too many people are willing to accept government-set goals (such as energy independence) so long as the “private sector” is induced to achieve them. Regardless of how the goals are achieved, if government sets them, that’s statism.

The cost of corporatism is high, and Phelps and Ammous provide a partial list:
dysfunctional corporations that survive despite their gross inability to serve their customers; sclerotic economies with slow output growth, a dearth of engaging work, scant opportunities for young people; governments bankrupted by their efforts to palliate these problems; and increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of those connected enough to be on the right side of the corporatist deal.

Again, kudos to them for noting the increasing concentration of wealth. The corporate state, after all, is a form of exploitation, the victims of which are workers and consumers, who would have been better off (absolutely and comparatively) without anticompetitive privileges for the well-connected and government-induced recessions.

The authors are optimistic that time will work against the corporate state. Young people coming of age in the Internet’s decentralized and wide-open market of ideas and merchandise can’t be expected to show enthusiasm for a system that protects entrenched corporations from the forces of competition. Moreover “the legitimacy of corporatism is eroding along with the fiscal health of governments that have relied on it. If politicians cannot repeal corporatism, it will bury itself in debt and default….”




DC: Police suppress Occupy: "U.S. police officers cleared tents from an 'Occupy' protest site in downtown Washington on Sunday, but demonstrators said even without the camp they would continue to fight for economic equality and other issues. ... The police crackdown in Washington comes after police moved to disband other Occupy sites in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina."

The permanence of e-books: "Hands up, all those who can still read a 5 1/4" floppy disk. I've got a boxful of those disks with old documents and programs on them -- and fortunately, I can still read them, until my last remaining floppy drives wear out. How about an 80-column punched card? Or recall a few years back when NASA couldn't read some of their old data from space missions, because the tape drives that could read the ancient tapes were no longer made. Hard drives fail; CD-Rs and DVD-Rs have a limited shelf life; so too do memory cards. Computer scientists have now been bitten by this often enough that it's an active area of research: digital curation." [I keep an old DOS-based computer up and running]

Hate-filled academics at Britain's Oxford university: "Baroness Thatcher is at the centre of a new row at Oxford University after plans to name a building after Britain's first female Prime Minister were revealed. Some academics are hoping to snub one of the university's most illustrious alumnae again - more than 25 years after protests there led to her being denied an honorary degree. Thatcher became the first Oxford educated Prime Minister since the Second World War to be refused an honorary degree from the University in 1985 following student protests amidst cuts to education. And now 17 years on a new revolt could halt plans to name a new facility after her."

There is a big new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.



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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)