Friday, July 01, 2016

A cogent challege to minimum wage orthodoxy

As a former High School economics teacher, I understand well the conventional arguments against a government-mandated rise in the minimum wage.  I have in fact put up on this blog a number of articles arguing against the practice. Ron Unz has however put up below a series of arguments suggesting BENEFITS of a higher minimum wage and rejecting the arguments against it.

The key point for me was his demonstration that most minimum wage jobs are in the personal service economy, where they cannot usually be substituted or mechanized. And since there is a big demand for such services, users of such services would just have to bite the bullet and pay the higher price that such services would then require.  It's worth reading his argument on that below.

It is of course possible that some marginal businesses in highly competitive markets might not be able to square the circle.  Higher wages would force them out of business.  But the point is that the services they provide would still be in demand, so someone else would supply that service, perhaps using a business model that is more efficient.

The way Amazon has driven many bookshops out of business is a good example.  You can still buy as many books as you like but the provision of those books is now enabled by highly efficient warehousing, a myriad of people packing the goods and a big increase in jobs for delivery drivers.

But what about the dumb clucks who are incapable of providing a service useful enough to justify a higher minimum wage?  For a start, most dumb clucks cannot provide a useful service right now, and subsist on welfare payments.  So we are talking about a quite narrow slice of the labour market. And with higher prices for services having become the norm, their efforts might still be worth the income that higher prices bring in.

But they could also be helped by a measure not mentioned by Unz but which I, in my libertarian way, have been advocating for some time.  I think that anyone who has been unemployed for some time  -- e.g. two years -- should be exempt from minimum wage laws.  You would then have a class of "exempt" workers who would be in some demand to do tasks that would not otherwise be worth doing.  They would get some income and some is better than none -- JR

With Americans still trapped in the fifth year of our Great Recession, and median personal income having been essentially stagnant for forty years, perhaps we should finally admit that decades of economic policies have largely failed.

The last two years of our supposed recovery have seen American growth rates averaging well under 2 percent.[1] Although our media often pays greater attention to the recent gains in stock market and asset prices, such paltry growth means that many of the millions of jobs lost in 2008 and 2009 will never be regained, and the broadest measures of American unemployment and underemployment will remain stuck in the vicinity of 15%.[2] Meanwhile, an astonishing 93% of the total increase in income during the recovery period has been captured by the top one percent of earners, who now hold almost as much net wealth as the bottom 95 percent of our society.[3] This polarized situation does not bode well for our future, and unless broader social trends in jobs and incomes soon improve, dark days surely lie ahead.


If we seek to create jobs and raise incomes for ordinary Americans, we should consider what sorts of jobs and incomes these might be. Since economists and policy analysts tend to have advanced degrees and many leading journalists these days are Ivy League alumni, their employment perceptions may often diverge from reality. So let us review the official government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as discussed by Prof. Jack Metzgar of Chicago’s Center for Working-Class Studies and brought to my attention in an excellent column by the late Alexander Cockburn.[4] Metzgar writes:

The BLS’s three largest occupational categories by themselves accounted for more than one-third of the workforce in 2010 (49 million jobs), and they will make an outsized contribution to the new jobs projected for 2020. They are:

Office and administrative support occupations (median wage of $30,710)

Sales and related occupations ($24,370)

Food preparation and serving occupations ($18,770)

Other occupations projected to provide the largest number of new jobs in the next decade include child care workers ($19,300), personal care aides ($19,640), home health aides ($20,560), janitors and cleaners ($22,210), teacher assistants ($23,220), non-construction laborers ($23,460), security guards ($23,920), and construction laborers ($29,280).

Although our bipartisan elites regularly suggest higher education as the best elixir for what ails our economy and its workers, few of these job categories seem logical careers for individuals who have devoted four years of their life to the study of History, Psychology, or Business Education, often at considerable expense. Nor would we expect the increased production of such degrees, presumably at lower-tier or for-profit colleges, to have much positive impact on the wages or working conditions of janitors or security guards.

Consider that only 20% of current jobs require even a bachelors’ degree.[5] More than 30% of Americans over the age of 25 have graduated college, so this implies that one-third or more of today’s college graduates are over-educated for their current employment, perhaps conforming to the stereotype of the college psychology major working at Starbucks or McDonalds.

Furthermore, this employment situation will change only gradually over the next decade, according to BLS projections. Millions of jobs in our “knowledge economy” do currently require a post-graduate degree, and the numbers are growing rapidly; but even by 2020, these will constitute less than 5% of the total, while around 70% of all jobs will still require merely a high school diploma.[6]

Education may be valuable for other reasons, but it does not seem to hold the answer to our jobs and incomes problem.

If additional education is a dead end, other partisan nostrums appear equally doubtful. Large cuts in government taxation or regulation are unlikely to benefit the average sales clerk or waitress. And the favored progressive proposal of a huge new government stimulus package has absolutely no chance of getting through Congress; but even if it did, few of the funds would flow to the low-paid private sector service workers catalogued above, and any broader social gains would rely upon a secondary boost in economic activity produced by putting extra government dollars into private pockets.

So how might we possibly raise the wages of American workers who fill this huge roster of underpaid and lesser-skilled positions, holding jobs which are almost entirely concentrated in the private service sector?


Perhaps the most effective means of raising their wages is simply to raise their wages.

Consider the impact of a large increase in the federal minimum wage, perhaps to $10 or more likely $12 per hour.

The generally low-end jobs catalogued above are entirely in the non-tradable service sector; they could not be outsourced to even lower-paid foreigners in Bangalore or Manila. Perhaps there might be some incentive for further automation, but the nature of the jobs in question – focused on personal interactions requiring human skills – are exactly those least open to mechanical replacement. Just consider the difficulty and expense of automating the job of a home health care aide, child care worker, or bartender.

With direct replacement via outsourcing or automation unlikely, employers responding to a higher minimum wage would be faced with the choice of either increasing the wages of their lowest paid workers by perhaps a couple of dollars per hour, or eliminating their jobs. There would likely be some job loss,[7] but given the simultaneous rise in labor costs among all competitors and the localized market for these services, the logical business response would be to raise prices by a few percent to help cover increased costs while also trimming current profit margins. Perhaps consumers would pay 3 percent more for Wal-Mart goods or an extra dime for a McDonald’s hamburger, but most of the jobs would still exist and the price changes would be small compared to typical fluctuations due to commodity and energy prices, international exchange rates, or Chinese production costs.

The resulting one-time inflationary spike would slightly raise living expenses for everyone in our society, but the immediate 20% or 30% boost in the take-home pay of many millions of America’s lowest income workers would make it easy for them to absorb these small costs, while the impact upon the middle or upper classes would be totally negligible. An increase in the hourly minimum wage from the current federal level of $7.25 to (say) $12.00 might also have secondary, smaller ripple effects, boosting wages currently above that level as well.

A minimum wage in this range is hardly absurd or extreme. In 2012 dollars, the American minimum wage was over $10 in 1968 during our peak of postwar prosperity and full employment.[8] The average minimum wage in Canadian provinces is currently well over $10 per hour, the national figure for France is more than $12, and Australia has the remarkable combination of a minimum wage of nearly $16.50 together with 5 percent unemployment.[9]

Even a large increase in the minimum wage would have very little impact on America’s international competitiveness since almost everyone employed in our surviving manufacturing export sector – whether in unionized Seattle or non-union South Carolina – already earns far above the current minimum wage. The same is also true for government workers, resulting in negligible increased cost to taxpayers.

Leaving aside the obvious gains in financial and personal well-being for the lower strata of America’s working class, there would also be a large economic multiplier effect, boosting general business activity in our weak economy. America’s working poor tend to spend almost every dollar they earn, often even sinking into temporary debt on a monthly basis.[10] Raising the annual income of each such wage-earner couple by eight or ten thousand dollars would immediately send those same dollars flowing into the regular consumer economy, boosting sales and general economic activity. In effect, the proposal represents an enormous government stimulus package, but one targeting the working-poor and funded entirely by the private sector.

Ironically, it is likely that major elements of the private sector would be perfectly happy with this arrangement. For example, despite their low-wage and anti-worker reputation, Wal-Mart’s top executives lobbied Congress in 2005 for an increase in the minimum wage, concerned that their working-class customer base was growing too impoverished to shop at their stores.[11] Wal-Mart might never be willing to raise its wages in isolation, but if a higher minimum wage forces all competitors to do the same, then prices can also be raised to help make up the difference, while the large rise in disposable consumer income would greatly increase sales.


Although the direct financial benefits to working-class Americans and our economy as a whole are the primary justifications for the proposal, there are a number of subsidiary benefits as well, ranging across both economic and non-economic areas.

First, the net dollar transfers through the labor market in this proposal would generally be from higher to lower income strata, and lower-income individuals tend to pay a much larger fraction of their income in payroll and sales taxes. Thus, a large boost in working-class wages would obviously have a very positive impact on the financial health of Social Security, Medicare and other government programs funded directly from the paycheck. Meanwhile, increased sales tax collections would improve the dismal fiscal picture for state and local governments, and the public school systems they finance.

Furthermore, as large portions of the working-poor became much less poor, the payout of the existing Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be sharply reduced. Although popular among politicians, the EITC is a classic example of economic special interests privatizing profits while socializing costs: employers receive the full benefits of their low-wage workforce while a substantial fraction of the wage expense is pushed onto the taxpayers. Private companies should fund their own payrolls rather than rely upon substantial government subsidies, which produce major distortions in market signals.

Even on the highly contentious and seemingly unrelated issue of immigration, a large rise in the minimum wage might have a strongly positive impact. During the last decade or two, American immigration has been running at historically high levels, with the overwhelming majority of these immigrants being drawn here by hopes of employment.[12] This vast influx of eager workers has naturally strengthened the position of Capital at the expense of Labor, and much of the stagnation or decline in working-class wages has probably been a result, since this sector has been in greatest direct competition with lower-skilled immigrants.[13]

Not only would a large rise in the minimum wage reverse many years of this economic “race to the bottom,” but it would impact immigration itself, even without changes in government enforcement policy. One of the few sectors likely to be devastated by a much higher minimum wage would be the sweatshops and other very low wage or marginal businesses which tend to disproportionably employ new immigrants, especially illegal ones. Sweatshops and similar industries have no legitimate place in a developed economy, and their elimination would reduce the sort of lowest-rung job openings continually drawing impoverished new immigrants. Meanwhile, those immigrants who have already been here some time, learned English, and established a solid employment record would be kept on at higher wages, reaping the same major benefits as non-immigrant Americans within the ranks of the working-poor.


Finally, one of the more unexpected benefits of a large rise in the minimum wage would follow from a total reversal of bipartisan conventional wisdom. Whereas our elites regularly tell us that an increase in higher education might have the benefit of raising American wages, I would instead argue that a sharp rise in ordinary wages would have the benefit of reducing higher education, whose growth increasingly resembles that of an unsustainable bubble.

Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment in postsecondary institutions increased 37 percent, compared to just 11 percent during the previous decade, with the recent increase being almost three times that of the growth of the underlying population of 18- to 24-year-olds. Indeed, relative enrollment growth for older students – 25 and above – was far greater than for students in the younger, more traditional ages. Furthermore, “Business” has overwhelmingly become the most popular undergraduate major, attracting nearly as many students as the combined total of the next three categories – Social Sciences and History, Health Sciences, and Education.[14]

If rapidly growing numbers of individuals, especially those many years past their high school graduation, are now attending college and majoring in Business, they are probably not doing so purely out of love of learning and a desire for broadening their intellectual horizons. Instead, they have presumably accepted the pronouncements of authority figures that higher education will benefit them economically. Put in harsher terms, they may believe that a college degree is their best hope of avoiding a life of permanent poverty trapped in the ranks of the working-poor.

Although there is a clear mismatch between the requirements of America’s projected jobs and the benefits of a college education, this notion of “college or poverty” may not be entirely mistaken. A recent college graduate is almost 20 percentage points more likely to have a job than a person of the same age with only a high school degree.[15] As a competitive signaling device, a 4-year degree may help someone land an office job as an administrative assistant rather than one as a fast-food server. But this is costly to the individual and to society.

Even leaving aside the absurdity of young people spending years of their lives studying business theory or psychology to obtain jobs which traditionally went to high school graduates, the financial cost is enormous. A generation or more ago, expenses at solid state institutions and similar colleges were fairly low, and could mostly be financed by small grants, parental savings, and part-time student jobs. But educational costs have increased 133% above inflation over the last thirty years,[16] and the government-subsidized college-loan industry has grown in parallel. Last year, the total volume of outstanding student-loan debt passed the trillion dollar mark, now exceeding either credit-card or auto loan debt.[17]

Two-thirds of recent college graduates borrowed to finance their education, and their average debt is over $23,000, while the load for those who pursue graduate or professional degrees can easily exceed the hundred thousand dollar mark.[18] These debts are exempt from bankruptcy discharge, and unless graduates quickly find high-paying jobs – not easy in an economy with very high youthful unemployment – the required payments may remain larger than the combined total of their federal, state, and local taxes. This privatized “education tax” may become a permanent, terrible burden, pushing any plans for marriage, family, and home purchase into the distant future. Barely half of 18- to 24-year-olds are currently employed, the lowest level in over sixty years,[19] so we should not be surprised that a quarter of all student-loan payers are currently delinquent.[20] Without the possibility of bankruptcy to clear their load, permanent debt-peonage for a substantial fraction of the next generation seems a very real possibility.

The aggressive marketing tactics of for-profit colleges and the student loan industry have disturbing parallels with the sub-prime lenders who played a destructive role in the Housing Bubble. Our national elites gave strong public support to the goal of universal home-ownership. Families were warned that if they did not stretch their income and their credit to buy a house at the inflated prices being offered, they would be permanently priced out of the market and condemned to second-class economic citizenship. Today, very similar warnings are made about the failure to invest in a college education, and this is backed by the aggressive advertising and sales tactics of the lucrative and well-connected for-profit sectors of the Higher Education-Industrial Complex, such as University of Phoenix and Kaplan Schools.

The lax lending standards and regulatory policies supporting greater homeownership were a major factor in our catastrophic financial collapse, in which the average family has now lost 40% of its net worth and many millions of Americans are on the edge of foreclosure, bankruptcy, and destitution.[21] Nearly everyone lost, while a tiny handful of individuals and companies made vast, unearned fortunes from facilitating the growth of the bubble or later betting upon its collapse. A similar outcome in higher education seems quite likely.

Now consider the impact of a sharp rise in the minimum wage, sufficient to remove the taint of poverty overhanging so many of our lower-tier jobs. Those academically-oriented students who plan to pursue challenging college majors in engineering, computer software, or other STEM fields would be completely unaffected by a rise in pay for home health aides, nor would there be any impact on the college plans of those seeking to broaden their horizons with serious academic study in literature, history, or philosophy.

But for those millions who regard postsecondary education as merely a way of punching their ticket with a “business” degree and thereby gaining a shot at a middle class income, the calculus would be different: four years of academic work, four years of foregone income, and many tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fees would be weighed against earning a reasonable living straight out of high school or with a form of shorter vocational training like an apprenticeship. Certainly in the past, when well-paid factory jobs were plentiful, a large fraction of students made the latter choice, and seldom regretted it.

Meanwhile, if college enrollments were reduced to those who actually wanted or needed a college education, supply and demand would begin deflating our Higher Education Bubble, forcing a sharp drop in ever-escalating educational costs. Since government loans and subsidies would be targeted at a much smaller pool of students, they could be made more generous, reducing the debt burden on those who do still seek a degree.


Public policy experts sometimes glorify complexity, proposing intricate, interlocking systems aimed at a desired result. But such structures are only as strong as their weakest link, and a proposal too complex to fully understand is also too complex to fix. Our government has sought to ensure a decent living for American workers through an enormous array of income subsidies, public benefits, training programs, and educational loans; at this point, many of these components have accumulated powerful and parasitic side-beneficiaries while leaving the working class behind.

Since this vast and leaky conglomeration has failed at its intended goal, perhaps we should just try raising wages instead.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, June 30, 2016

The Weird Hobbesianism of Brexiphobes

People who can't imagine order without imposition always end up favoring power over liberty.The UK "is part of Europe, and always will be,” says Boris Johnson, a leader of the Brexit campaign. Wait. How can you be part of something and not appoint a dictatorial, authoritarian, meddling, pillaging central state – a completely artificial creation having nothing to do with the real history of Europe – to manage it?

It's called freedom. That's how it works. It means the absence of external political restraint on shaping the future.

In the days following the British vote to leave the EU, we’ve seen apocalyptic panic among the opinion classes. The New York Times has published a long series of freak-out pieces about the end of the “postwar liberal order.” Except that there is nothing (classically) liberal about a distant bureaucracy that aspires to centrally plan every aspect of economic life.

Another writer worries that "we will have fewer people coming here, enriching our culture and our lives. There will be fewer opportunities. We will have less of a chance to explore the world for ourselves."

Huh? No bridges have been blown up. Britons can still buy plane tickets. People from abroad can still visit and work. It's not even clear that immigration will change that much. It really depends on what politicians in the UK do next. An untenable political union is under strain and that is all. Now Britain can actually make some political decisions for itself.

But here is the silliest thing I’ve yet seen. Try to wrap your brain around the claim in the Times that Brexit  “may just wipe out laissez-faire economics.” If there is no European-wide government authority, “where does capitalism go now?”

Capitalism? Does the Brussels bureaucracy really embody the essence of the capitalist spirit? What can the writer mean?

Well, you see, Reagan and Thatcher were “globalists,” and the global order was cobbled together in the postwar period under the influence of John Maynard Keynes, who had saved capitalism from being discredited by the Great Depression, and therefore laissez faire (which means leave it alone) owes its very existence to the man who wrote “The End of Laissez Faire.”

Or something like that. There’s no sense in trying to explain all these frenzied mind dumps because they make no sense.

Latent Hobbesianism

Having read a hundred articles warning of the coming Armageddon, I’m trying to understand the underlying source of the mania. True, there were plenty of unsavory types supporting Brexit, people who were driven to leave the EU by racist and xenophobic motives. They might imagine a new and more pure Britain is possible and desirable.

But, this is hardly news. It is not possible for democracy to function without an ugly underside. And people support good policies for bad reasons all the time.

That said, there is something deeper going on here. Some people just cannot imagine the possibility of order emerging without government planning. If there is no central state that can bind everyone, forcing good behavior and unity, surely the results will be an atavistic and chaotic mess. Life will become, in Thomas Hobbes’s words, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

There is a certain tradition of Enlightenment thought that imagined that government serves the one great purpose of cobbling together order in place of the war of all against all of the “state of nature.” Without Leviathan, we would be slitting each other’s throats, and unable to figure out any other way of living. The state, in this view, is the wise planner that can rise above the people’s base instincts and tell us what is best for us. In the most extreme rending of this story, all things must be either forbidden or mandated, with nothing left to chance.

(This same perspective explains so much of domestic politics. People who can't imagine order without imposition always end up favoring power over liberty.)

Hobbes Was Wrong

Brexit doesn’t establish economic and civil liberty for Britain. But it gives those ideas a chance.But is this really the history of Europe? Remember that Hobbes wrote during the English civil war when vying for control of the state was indeed a violent undertaking. This was not because human beings are incapable of figuring out a better way, but because there was a state there to control in the first place. It was responsible for the moral hazard that unleashed the violence.

The bigger picture of the middle ages through World War I was of small states minding their own business, with people free to move, and trade relations growing ever more sophisticated. States were limited by borders in their geographic jurisdiction and in their internal political power by legal and cultural restraints. The right of exit and the decentralization of power made it all work.

F.A. Hayek was fond of quoting John Baechler: “The first condition for the maximization of economic efficiency is the liberation of civil society with respect to the state…The expansion of capitalism owes its origins and raison d'être to political anarchy.”

By anarchy, he didn’t mean everyone going bonkers. He meant a lack of a centralized authority. The result is not the end of laissez faire but its institutionalization in political habit. That doesn’t mean a turn against “globalization.” It makes international cooperation essential for survival.

Brexit doesn’t establish economic and civil liberty for Britain. But it gives those ideas a chance to escape the EU’s subversion of the classical idea of what Europe is all about. Yes, a post-Brexit Britain could screw it up, especially if the extremes of right and left prevail against an emergent libertarian third way. Brexit is a beginning, not an end.

At least one impediment is out of the way. That’s progress.



Levin: Brexit Is a ‘Huge Step in the Right Direction’

On his show Friday, nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin called the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union (“Brexit”) a “huge step in the right direction.”

“And while Britain has voted to free itself from the European Union, which apparently occurs over a period of years, they still haven’t voted internally to free themselves from centralized government and socialism,” Levin said. “This is a huge step in the right direction, but they still need to liberate themselves.”

The United Kingdom (U.K.) voted to leave the European Union (EU) on Thursday’s June 23 referendum 52 percent to 48 percent.

Here’s what Levin had to say:

“To the extent any American official or politician influenced the outcome in Britain yesterday, it was Barack Obama. So, I want to thank Barack Obama because his arrogance, and so forth, turned out a lot of people – against him and against the U.K. remaining in the EU.

“But the truth is, it had nothing to do with Barack Obama, really. Nothing to do with Donald Trump, really. Nothing to do with any politician in America, really. It had everything to do with sovereignty.

“This battle over the EU and the extent that the U.K. would be part of it has been going on for decades. And it has reached a crescendo over the last several years over immigration, and not just immigration, the endless piddling rules coming out of Brussels imposed on butchers and bakers and taxi cab drivers and electricians and plumbers and coal miners.

“You have a super Parliament that imposes its will on the people. You’ve got a super Judiciary that imposes its will on the people – a super collective of executives that impose their will on the people. And the people have no recourse whatsoever. It was the death of democracy, little “d” – and the British people responded, 52 to 48.

“It amazes me, 48 percent of them preferred tyranny over liberty. The vote was about sovereignty, breaking away from the United, excuse me, the European Union.

“I try to make the point when I write my books, when I do this radio show, now when I do LevinTV – ideas and principles and philosophy have power. They determine the fate of mankind. They determine the fate of nations.

“And that’s why I, perhaps uniquely, spend so much time on them. They are the basis for the human condition. They are the basis for revolutions. And so, this show will always focus on them, always.

“And while Britain has voted to free itself from the European Union, which apparently occurs over a period of years, they still haven’t voted internally to free themselves from centralized government and socialism.

“This is a huge step in the right direction, but they still need to liberate themselves, as in many respects, we do.”



Purification of America

Walter E. Williams

In 2008, Barack Obama promised a fundamental transformation of America. Where that promise has gone unfulfilled the most is in areas of sexual and racial discrimination. What's worse is the official sanction given to such discrimination. Let's look at some of it.

Visit just about any California men's prison and you will see that one's race determines whom he cells with, the toilet and shower he uses, and what recreation areas he enjoys. Then there is sexual discrimination. Female correctional officers earn the same pay as their male counterparts. However, when it comes to extracting a dangerous inmate from his cell, it is always a five- or six-male officer team that risks bodily injury. How fair is that? Why not have both male and female cell extraction teams?

Harvard University has announced new rules that will punish students who join single-sex clubs, including fraternities and sororities. Part of that punishment will make them ineligible for college endorsement for top fellowships, such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. As an aside, Rhodes scholarships should be banned; Cecil Rhodes was one of the architects of South African apartheid.

Harvard University, like most other universities, is two-faced when it comes to sexual discrimination. It segregates sports teams by sex. It has women's basketball and men's basketball, women's ice hockey and men's, a women's swim team and a men's swim team. If Harvard's leaders were consistent, they would also punish students joining a single-sex sports team. Each sport should have one team on which all students, regardless of sex, are eligible to compete. Also, sports racism in college has ended -- except in men's basketball, where no college team's starting five looks anything like America.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has called for the elimination of the ban against women in combat, but he is keeping other forms of discrimination. Passing the Army's physical fitness test in basic training is a requirement. To pass, 17- to 21-year-old males must do 35 pushups, 47 situps and a 2-mile run in 16 minutes, 36 seconds or less. Females of the same age can pass the test with just 13 pushups, 47 situps and a 19:42 2-mile run. That's grossly unfair. As a black man, I can relate to the unfairness of different requirements. Literacy tests in some Southern states used to ask black voters, "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?" and "How many seeds are in a watermelon?" White voters were exempt from that test -- presumably because they knew the answers. I'm wondering why men do not bring sexual discrimination lawsuits when they face different treatment based upon sex.

There is one highly celebrated area of our lives that's misogynistic, vicious and cruel to women yet goes completely ignored. It is nothing less than sadistic voyeurism. You might ask, "Williams, what is that?" It is the opera and its near celebration of cruelty to women. Giuseppe Verdi's "Rigoletto" regales us with tales of the Duke of Mantua, a licentious womanizer. From "Aida" and "Carmen" to "Lulu" and "Madama Butterfly," opera is extravagantly cruel to its female characters. This suggests an important job for university music departments. They must either change operatic script in a way that respects women or simply ban the performance of such works. There is precedent for banning and revision in the arts and literature. Some schools have removed the offensive words from "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and some have banned the book outright.

While in office, former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton was an energetic purifier. He wanted to purify his city by removing the bodies of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife from a city park. At a news briefing, he asked, "Which African-American wants to have a picnic in the shadow of Nathan Bedford Forrest?"

There is a historical precedent for the purification of America. Back in the Roman days, when the Romans wanted to erase the memory of people they deemed dishonorable, they had a practice called damnatio memoriae, Latin for "condemnation of memory." It was as if they had never existed.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Progressivism is inimical to Freedom

The United States was founded on an ideology that viewed the role of government as the protection of individual rights. That view of government was pushed aside by the ideology of Progressivism toward the end of the 1800s. The Progressive ideology envisions a government that not only protects individual rights but also looks out for people’s economic well-being.

A natural tension exists between Progressivism and freedom. Partly, this is because looking out for the economic well-being of some often lowers the economic well-being of others. Increasingly, Progressives also argue that people would be better off if government made their choices for them rather than giving people the freedom to make their own choices.

One motivation for the Progressive ideology was the perception that people who held substantial economic power were using that power to exploit those with less power. Thus, the Interstate Commerce Commission was established in 1887 to regulate railroads to keep them from exploiting shippers, and the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890 to limit the ability of concentrated economic interests to exploit others.

Government interventions into the economy like this may help those with limited economic power (this is debatable), but they clearly limit the economic freedom of everybody to engage in mutually agreeable transactions. If rail rates are regulated, or companies like Standard Oil are broken up, the freedom of those subject to these actions is obviously compromised.

Programs like these restrict the freedoms of some, nominally for the economic benefit of others. Increasingly, Progressivism supports “nanny state” programs that restrict everyone’s freedom, under the justification that the government can make better choices for people than they would make themselves.

Essentially, nanny state programs say, “We’re going to take away your freedom for your own good.”

Social Security is a good example of a nanny state program that restricts everyone’s freedom. Using the argument that people will not save enough for their own retirements, the government taxes people when they work and promises to pay them stipends when they retire. The government forces people to save for their retirements.

Leaving aside the fact that people would accumulate more for their retirements if they invested the amount they pay in taxes in the stock market themselves, the program clearly compromises people’s freedom to allocate their incomes, and their savings, as they see fit.

Minimum wage laws prevent low-skilled workers from finding employment and gaining experience, compromising their freedom to work under mutually agreeable terms. The FDA prevents people from buying unapproved products, compromising people’s freedom to choose what they want to buy and sell.

Increasingly, Progressives are trying to take away freedom of choice, nominally for our own good. They dictate what safety equipment we have to have on our cars, limit our access to sugary drinks, and control what we can smoke. (They don’t want people smoking tobacco, but seem to be OK with marijuana consumption!)

From a utilitarian perspective, one can debate whether government really makes better choices for people than they would make on their own. From a libertarian perspective, there is no doubt that Progressivism compromises freedom.

Freedom is meaningless if we are only free to make choices that meet with government approval. The Progressive ideology compromises freedom and takes away the individual rights that at one time justified the existence of our American government.

Progressivism is a direct attack on freedom.



Hitler with Ginger hair

British Leftist leader Neil Kinnock's famous speech to the Labour Party Conference, Bournemouth, October 1985

Anybody who has watched Hitler's speeches will be struck by how much Kinnock learned from Hitler.  His rhetorical technique is near identical.  The content of the speech was similar too:  Vilifying his opponents and promoting extreme socialism.  Kinnock lost that election, thankfully.  He is still alive, in a comfortable job with the EU


The Truth Has Been (Omitted)

By Ben Shapiro

Barack Obama is a dramatic failure.

His economy has been a slow-motion train wreck. His domestic policy has driven racial antagonism to renewed heights and divided Americans from each other along lines of religion and sexual orientation. On foreign policy he has set the world aflame in the name of pretty, meaningless verbiage and a less hegemonic America.

But there's good news: At least he controls the information flow.

This week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Americans to believe her rather than their own lying eyes. First, she openly admitted that the FBI would censor the 911 phone call of the jihadi Omar Mateen who murdered 49 Americans at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The FBI, she said, would remove explicit references to ISIS, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Islam.

The resulting transcript was a masterpiece of hilarious redaction. Here's just a taste: "In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial (in Arabic) ... Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of (in Arabic). I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings. ... My name is I pledge of allegiance to (omitted). ... I pledge allegiance to (omitted), may God protect him (in Arabic) on behalf (omitted)."

This memory holing would make George Orwell cry. In this iteration, Allah becomes God (See, Islam is just like Judaism and Christianity!), but we can't mention terrorist groups and their leaders. In fact, more than a week after the attack, Lynch told the press she didn't know the jihadi's motivation — a motivation clearly stated in the transcript she released.


But this is not unusual for the Obama administration. We know that in the run-up to the Iran deal the Obama administration simply altered reality to fit its narrative: It had fiction writer and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes cook up an account where negotiations with the terror state began only after the accession of "moderate" President Hassan Rouhani. Never mind that Obama and company had been negotiating with the mullahs behind the scenes for years before that. The narrative had to be falsified and upheld. When the State Department was forced to admit those lies in a press conference, the White House conveniently chopped out that section of the taped conference for public release.

We also know that the Obama administration lied openly about Obamacare. It knew from the beginning that you couldn't keep your doctor or your plan. It simply hid that fact for years. We know that the Obama State Department sliced out a section of transcript mentioning radical Islam when French President Francois Hollande visited the United States.

He who controls the information flow controls reality.

And the Obama administration is already rewriting reality for the historians of decades hence. We won't find out where they hid most of the political bodies until too late — just as we won't find out what Clinton hid in her private server until far too late.

This is why a government must not be trusted with massive power. Politicians have every incentive not just to lie in the present but to lie with an eye toward the future. The more power they have over us, the more power they have over the reality we see — and the more they think they can get away with manipulating that reality.



Obamacare is turning America into a Fascist State

“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project, most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.” —Ronald Reagan

“We have to pass the [ObamaCare] bill so that you can find out what is in it.” —former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2009

Well, Democrats did indeed pass ObamaCare — on a party-line vote in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, after months of threats, arm-twisting and open bribery. Over the last half decade or so we have found out what was in it. We now know that the “in it” amounted to a giant, teeming, fetid cauldron of government-mandated, top-down, force fed, command-and-control socialized medicine where government bureaucrats, rather than doctors and patients, get to decide what kind of treatment you get. In other words, exactly what we warned before Democrats even introduced it.

By every objective measure, ObamaCare has been an unmitigated (and predicted) disaster. Contrary to Obama’s promises — “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” (a necessary lie according to ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber), or it would “bend the cost curve down,” or save the average family $2500 annually in health insurance premiums (ObamaCare costs have skyrocketed) — the reality is that his disastrous signature legislation has added trillions to the national debt, driven health care costs through the roof, made health care more unaffordable, and reduced access to doctors. More than half of the ObamaCare co-ops have gone bankrupt and failed, and the nation’s largest insurance providers are pulling out of ObamaCare.

On the bright side (if you are a fan of big government), ObamaCare has created jobs for thousands of government bureaucrats, empowered the IRS to intrude into the most intimate aspects of your life, and added tens of thousands of pages (more than 20,000 pages in just the first three years after passage) of new federal regulations, and placed the federal government in charge of your health care.

What could possibly go wrong?

Glad you asked! Because, as they say when hawking snake oil on the “As Seen On TV” commercials, “But wait; there’s MORE!” Now the government is once again trying to penalize every American who does not get on board with the Left’s idea of good health policy.

In 2012, liberals mocked Justice Antonin Scalia for bringing up broccoli during oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging the individual mandate (NFIB v. Sebelius). Justice Scalia noted that if the government’s argument regarding the legitimacy of the individual mandate could apply to health insurance, then surely the same argument could be applied to food, which is a more immediate need for every human than health insurance.

Said Scalia, “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli tried to dismiss the comparison as inaccurate, yet now we see Scalia was exactly right. For if the government controls health care, and therefore is responsible for health care costs, then it has an obligation to keep costs down, which it will accomplish by dictating the diet and exercise choices of every American, and do so in very unexpected, intrusive ways.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) finalized last month new regulations for employers in an effort to get America’s tens of millions of employees to comply with the federal government’s vision of health — discounts for people joining “wellness programs.” Not only that, but you must share weight, blood pressures, illnesses and medical records. If you refuse, no discount for you — and, worse, your premiums will probably go up.

With ObamaCare, the federal government can now force Americans to buy a product (health insurance) whether they like it or not. It can compel Americans, under threat of a financial penalty, to follow its declared regime for diet and exercise. It has already disrupted employment dynamics through the individual and employer mandates, which has led to higher unemployment and more Americans forced to work part-time. And government has tried to force Christian-owned businesses to fund abortion, and Catholic nuns to provide birth control.

These are not the things that occur in a free country. These are the things that happen in countries where the people are slaves to their government. Yet the political Left assures us it knows better than we do what is good for us, and that their compulsion is for our own good.

Or, as C.S. Lewis perfectly describe such situations, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, June 28, 2016

The Brexit hysteria continues

The anti-democratic thinking of many of the establishment people behind the "Remain" vote is now clear.  Many of these miserable elitists are agitating for the exit not to be implemented.  Parliament could do that but it would create an unprecedented  constitutional crisis.  The Brexit MPs would simply not allow it.  They could bring parliament to a standstil by voting "No" to every government bill until the referendum is honoured.  So it's all just big talk from little people.  If they persist with their agitation it will only brand them permanently as the worms they are.

The EU mandarins are clearly furious and are suggesting that Britain will not get a good trade deal when it exits.  But in the end they are just public servants and it is the national governments that will have the final say.

France is once again making highly sympathetic noises: 'We must put an end to this sad and finicky Europe. Too often it is intrusive on details and desperately absent on what's essential,' [Prime Minister] Valls said. 'We must break away from the dogma of ever more Europe. Europe must act not by principle but when it is useful and pertinent.'"

And the German motor vehicle manufacturers are arguing emphatically for free trade arrangements to continue.  They sell 800,000 cars into the British market every year so you can understand why:  "German manufacturers last night demanded that Britain be allowed to continue trading with the EU without any barriers. The car-making industry said punishing Britain makes no sense – and it called on the German chancellor to give the UK a favourable trade deal

It is clearly in the best financial interests of both Britian and the EU to continue free trade arrangements so it will happen. Britain buys quite a lot more from Europe than it sells into Europe so a collapse of free trade would actually hit the EU the hardest

There is an extraordinarily pessimistic article here in which a Brussels-based journalist argues that Britain will get a very harsh deal on exit -- but he is obviously listening to the EU mandarins only, not the national leaders.

He draws on the Greek experience to argue that the EU will be very demanding.  But I think he draws exactly the wrong conclusion from the Greek experience.  Greece had many billions of its debts written off -- and the EU got very little in return.  The EU can clearly be very forgiving if it thinks it is worthwhile -- and free trade was the very foundation of the EU.

It's amusing that the Brexit vote has spooked sharemarket investors worldwide.  British shares were down a bit on the most recent reports but  the losses in other countries were mostly much bigger.  It's just nervousness on the part of shareholders who don't understand what is going on.  The businesses underlying the shares are still there much as before so the "losses" will mostly be reversed in the not too distant future --JR.

Chancellor George Osborne says robust contingency plans are in place for the immediate financial aftermath of #Brexit


This courageous vote is our best chance to reshape Europe’s future

Liam Halligan

Brexit clearly caught financial markets on the hop. With opinion polls, betting odds and the “conventional wisdom” all pointing in one direction, the vast weight of money thought the UK would stay in the European Union.

 That’s why, when reality hit in the small hours of Friday morning, the pound plunged violently, enduring its biggest one-day drop in living memory. And when the London stock market opened later, the FTSE 100 dropped a stomach-churning 8.7pc –again, showing the extent to which traders had previously backed Remain.

What was striking, though, was how quickly the markets bounced back after the initial shock. Shares ended the day down a relatively unremarkable 1.9pc. Sterling also pegged back, as the Bank of England, for weeks central to “Project Fear”, switched back to “Project Reassure”.

It also became clear, despite weeks of “morning after Brexit” scaremongering, that for some time this Leave vote changes little. The UK won’t invoke Article 50, sparking the two-year exit negotiation process, until October at the earliest. And, before that, what with an impending Conservative leadership contest and Labour’s dramatic implosion, there’s an awful lot of domestic politics to resolve before the UK’s leaders –whoever they turn out to be – fully engage in the task of unpicking our 43-year relationship with the EU.

That political reaction has, so far, been unedifying. David Cameron’s laudably dignified resignation speech quickly gave way to a determination among his supporters that the battle for the Tory crown is even nastier than the referendum. A “Stop Boris” unit, it appears, is compiling a “revenge dossier” on the private life of the former London mayor and lead Brexit campaigner, with the sole intention of blocking his path to No 10.

Labour, meanwhile, has gone into self-destruct mode with even more abandon, as party high-ups scramble to avoid blame for a collective failure to recognise the most basic concerns of millions of traditional Labour voters – concerns which ultimately tipped the national balance in last week’s historic vote to Leave.

Most disgraceful, though, has been the response of numerous Remain supporters who are now attempting – from a combination of anger, pique and an extremely over-developed sense of their own entitlement – to reverse this vote.

All weekend, on the airwaves and across social media, the “referendum re-run” drums have been beating. No sooner had 17.5m voters secured a clear victory in a hard-fought but ultimately fair referendum than self-appointed arbiters of the national mood were dismissing them as “ill-informed” and “manipulated” in a bid to justify another vote.

Demands by bitter MPs that Parliament overturn this “advisory” referendum are extremely dangerous. Look-at-me virtue-signalling petitions undermining a decisive democratic outcome are nothing short of incendiary. And to argue that older voters who backed Brexit “should count for less” is, quite frankly, beyond the pale.

What next, an upper age-limit on voting? And how about the notion that far from dissing the views and experience of older people, we pay them particular attention?

Should a referendum outcome be scrapped because it was driven in part by people who live in the east Midlands rather than Richmond-upon-Thames? Who shop at Lidl rather than Waitrose and eat “dinner” or (heaven forbid!) “tea” at night, not “supper”?

The reality is that this courageous Brexit vote, for all the doubts and tensions it raises, represents a precious opportunity for the UK to shape not only our own future, but influence the direction of Europe. Far from leaving the UK at the mercy of other EU nations and assorted eurocrats, it’s already clear that there is much appetite to do deals with a Brexited Britain.

There is “no need to be nasty” in negotiations with the UK, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend. “We want a good, objective atmosphere,” said Europe’s most powerful politician. “It’s important we work together to get the right outcome.”

That outcome, of course, is one keeping UK markets open for French wineries, Italian furniture-makers and German car producers. Britain’s trade deficit in goods with the EU – which surged to a record £24bn during the three months to April – represents hundreds of thousands of continental jobs and billions of euros profit.

Even before our Brexit vote, the main German employers’ organisation was publicly calling for trade with the UK to “remain free”. Of course it was, because that’s what makes commercial sense for both sides. Brexit gives us the chance to spread our trading wings way beyond Europe, rediscovering –almost a half century since we last cut a bilateral trade deal – the UK’s inherent genius for buying and selling.

For all our mercantile heritage, we currently trade less with the big four emerging markets – Brazil, India, Russia and China – than with Belgium. This is ridiculous. The UK desperately needs to turn far more diplomatic and commercial attention to the world’s fast-growing markets.

For now, membership of the European Economic Area, a Norwegian-style deal, is a useful and available stopgap. Be in no doubt, though, given our large economy and display of electoral resolve, the UK has considerable bargaining power. Brexit is galvanising voters across the EU, and could well provoke, before our Article 50 negotiations are over, several copycat referenda. It is the European Project, rather than the UK, which is now on the back foot.



How Did I Become the Bad Guy?

Steve Noxon

Once again, a radicalized Muslim decided it was time to commit another act of terror on American soil and, almost as if it were part of a script, the media and the left have again blamed me for his actions.  “Oh no,” they tell me, “The shooter was not motivated by Islam, you bloodthirsty, crazed bitter clinger!  It was YOU!  You are the problem, don’t you see?”

Perhaps it happened prior to September 11, 2001, but it seems to me that that day created a huge paradigm shift in how blame was assigned in the leftist’s mind.  It was September 12 when I heard a liberal radio talk show host ask what we had done to make them so angry at us.  I was stunned.  Not only did this remark strike me as callous and vile, as we were still searching for survivors in the rubble of the Twin Towers, but it also exposed an amazing ignorance of history.  Radical Islam has hated the United States since its founding and to wonder why is to ignore what they have clearly told us for centuries.  They hate us for our freedom and our success.  They believe that they are the rightful rulers of the planet and anyone who disagrees is considered their enemy.  Seriously, it’s not really all that complicated.

And we used to understand this.  But no longer, it seems.  “Our betters” have decided that the people doing the shooting and who have very clearly stated their reasons for their actions are not the problem, I am.    Whenever a follower of this murderous ideology commits another vile act of terror, “our betters” put the pedal to the metal and work feverishly to point their scolding fingers at me and make me out to be the bad guy.  They tell me that I have somehow created a “hostile environment for the LGBT community,” because I believe people have the right to practice their faith, while they ignore the fact that Islam calls for the actual murder of gays.  I am the bad guy because I believe in the right to defend myself from those who wish to do me harm, like oh say maybe a crazed radical Islamist with a semi-automatic rifle who is on a mission from Mohammed.  I am the bad guy because, for some bizarre reason, I have come to the conclusion that the repeated attacks on innocent people by a very specific group of “lone wolves” might actually be tied to a larger threat that needs to be addressed.

Look, I’ve been married for over 25 years, so I’m used to being blamed for everything.  But the behavior of everyone on the left, including the New York Times and President Obama has taken this tactic to a new level over the last few years.  Every single time there is an obvious act of Islamic terrorism, the usual suspects race to the cameras or their keyboards to start assigning blame.  And invariably, it is me, a white male conservative Christian NRA member, someone who simply loves his wife and kids, lives in an ethnically diverse community, gets up and goes to work every morning to feed my family and keep a roof over our heads, who is to blame for these atrocities.

Why would these politicians and so-called “thought-leaders” put so much effort into making me the villain?  Simple.  Because if I am the villain, then their policies are not complete and abject failures.   And their policies couldn’t possibly be wrong, could they?  They are the smart ones.  That’s what they tell themselves at their little dinner parties, as they surround themselves with those who hold a wide variety of opinions from hard-left to extreme-left. It can’t be that reality doesn’t align with their world-view.

If I can be made out to be the villain, then the solution is easy.  Fewer rights.  Less freedom.  Bigger government unfettered by interference from the people.  More control. A further and further tightening of the yoke.  And it goes without saying that they would be the ones in control, since they are the smart ones.  Far smarter than those who, when they hear a radical Islamist declare that he is killing in the name of Allah, actually believe him.  They went to the right schools and they think the right way, so of course it is their birthright to be the ones behind the protected walls, making the rules for the rest of us to meekly follow.  Honestly, who could possibly disagree with that arrangement?

Me. The bad guy.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up --  about Brexit, immigration and such things

A recent picture of Chris Brand

The latest from Edinburgh:  Chris is now elderly so his health is letting him down.  But he still had time for a sociable beer with the glamorous Mrs J. and her children.  His glamorous Taiwanese wife is beside him


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Monday, June 27, 2016

Reflections on Brexit

The most extraordinary thing about Brexit was the immediate and unreasoning hysteria it provoked.  A lot of very foolish people acted as if their lives had immediately changed -- when NOTHING will happen for at least a year. For anything to happen, laws have to be changed -- and I am sure that we all know what a glacial process that can be. Still, the dishonest predictions of disaster put out by the establishment in the lead-up to the vote must bear some responsibility for the panic.

And the very first indicator of disaster has already reversed itself.  The stockmarket plunged, only to bounce back to end up on the week.  Though some shares are still down of course.  The stockmarket is like that. If you think there's anything simple about it, you are headed for a fall.  I have seen people who had all the answers lose big money.

So people will have plenty of warning about changes before they change and will be able to make any adjustments to their affairs that they may see as needed.

So what are the likely changes?  Not much.  Some money now going to Brussels will probably be diverted to to where it is desperately needed -- the public hospitals -- so the hospitals  might not bump off grandma as quickly as they have been doing -- but that is probably about it.  The new Prime Minister will almost certainly be the popular Boris Johnson and party politics will return to their accustomed ways.  Everyone from David Cameron down has been promising that, though there will undoubtedly be a few sore-heads.

A threat that some people have made much of is that Scotland might secede.  Scotland voted solidly to stay in the EU. But that is nonsense.  If Scotland were to become an independent country with different immigration arrangements, the border between England and Scotland would become an international border to be marked by a fence and passport controls.  Free movement between the two countries would be halted for the first time in hundreds of years.

And Scotland would no longer be able to use the British pound as its currency so would probably have to adopt the troubled Euro -- possibly leading to an overnight drop in the value of Scottish savings.  If Nicola Sturgeon thinks she can get Scots to agree to  that she has haggis for brains.

The big threat that hung over the whole campaign was the possibility of British industry losing markets for its goods and services.  When Britain leaves the EU, will the EU abandon free trade between itself and Britain and start putting tariffs and other import restrictions on British goods headed for Europe?  It's most unlikely.  Trade wars almost always provoke retaliation.  And Britain has plenty to retaliate with:  a market of 60 million  people, to be precise.

As I have said previously, If Britain's tariff-free access to Europe were cut off by  some big-bottomed bureaucrats in Brussels, Britain could very rapidly and very effectively retaliate.  A Prime Minister, Boris Johnson could and probably would announce a complete embargo on the importation of European farm products into Britain.

That would be particularly disruptive to France, including the already-stressed French wine industry.  The Brits now buy twice as much Australian wine as French wine but Britain is still a major market for French wine. And one cannot imagine the French farmers taking that lying down. And French farmers always get their way.  One imagines them getting into their tractors and blockading the Berlaymont building, the primary seat of the EU Commission in Brussels. And when cut off from their supply of beer, chocolate and stinky cheese, the Brussels bureaucrats would undoubtedly cave in. "Temporary" or "transitional" arrangements would be made.

In short the EU will, as far a Britain is concerned, revert to being what it originally was:  A free trade area with Britain inside it.  Norway already has a free-trade-only agreement with the EU so a model for such arrangements already exists.

What about visa-free travel?  That's less certain.  There have always been visa-free travel arrangements between some countries and it would certainly be highly desirable to retain such arrangements between Britain and the countries of Europe.  Hundreds of thousands of French and Italians have moved to London to find work and hundreds of thousands of Brits -- mostly retirees -- have moved to France and Spain for the better climate there.  So both of those groups would be inconvenienced by a cessation of the existing travel arrangements.

So why might there NOT be visa-free travel arrangements?  That takes us right to the whole heart of Brexit.  I put up yesterday on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH four lengthy essays that attempted to explain why the British people voted to leave the EU.  And they all did a reasonable job of it -- "unresponsive elites" and all that.  But in fact there was really only one standout issue between the people and their establishment:  Immigration.

Let me summarize the whole issue in the language of the people:   "The politicians are letting too many bloody wogs into the country".  In formal English: "The politicians are letting too many accursed foreigners into the country".  And most of those "wogs" got in under EU rules. Brexit was about giving England back to the English.

So, given that aim, any new immigration arrangements will have to be restrictive -- and that will almost certainly include at a minimum passports and visas for everyone entering Britain.

So is that racist?  You would have to define racism very broadly to say so.  But Leftists do define it extremely broadly.   Any awareness of group loyalty at all can attract cries of racism from them.  They use the ghastly memory of the socialist Hitler to imply that any degree of racial or ethnic consciousness is only a hairsbreadth away from genocide.  So something as simple as patriotism becomes racism in their unending outpouring of hate  for normal people.

They fail to take into account that it was patriotism, Russian patriotism, that defeated Hitler.  Something like 80% of German military casualties in WWII were incurred on the Eastern front.  And Russians to this day refer to that war as "The Great Patriotic War".

So the resentment that many Britons feel towards the influx of foreigners might in part be due to a love of England as it was but there are also huge practical reasons behind the resentment. The millions of foreigners who have arrived in recent years have put a strain on basic services -- hospitals, housing and transport facilities -- that the British government has done little to address -- because of the large costs involved.

So parents find that they cannot get their kid into a nearby school, they constantly get stuck in traffic jams, they can find standing room only on commuter trains and rushed hospital staff make errors that lead to serious harm and even death. And the price of housing has become unaffordable to many would-be buyers. There is no irrationality in wanting to stop further deterioration of that already dire situation

Finally, what are we to make of the age difference between "Remain" and "Leave" voters?  The older the voter was, the more likely they were to vote "Leave".  The cause is fairly straightforward.  Older voters remember a time when Britain did quite well on its own, thank you very much, and could see no reason why Britain could not do so again.  Younger voters, on the other hand have known nothing but the EU and accept it as normal, warts and all.  They were afraid of what was to them the unknown.

There is however some anger among young people about not getting their way and that will hopefully be a good lesson to a spoiled generation.

An amusing footnote:  "Quebec Separatists See New Hope After Brexit Vote".  I guess I shouldn't laugh -- JR.

UPDATE:  A good comment from Peter Hargreaves:

If Brexit sent world markets into turmoil it underlines the importance of the UK. This essentially means we will get every deal we want.


Brexit Vote Has Huge Ramifications for U.S. Politics


News flash: The revolt against elites is real in the UK and America and it's only getting started. Maybe there will always be an England.

In a surprise, Leave won the Brexit referendum on whether to stay in the European Union by an equally surprising amount. British sovereignty won. David Cameron lost. Jeremy Corbyn lost. The EU lost. Bureaucrats lost. Angela Merkel lost. Barack Obama lost. Globalism lost. Authority figures almost everywhere lost. And, most of all, unlimited immigration lost.

So what happened to the vaunted British betting market that is almost invariably correct and was predicting by 80 percent a Remain victory? Or all those recent polls that were tilting Remain?

Answer: Those same elites had convinced each other they would win and therefore convinced the usual suspects—media, pollsters and, sadly, financial markets—that they were right. They were wrong. Watching them now on the BBC they still cannot comprehend  what has happened. The peasants have revolted—oh no, oh no. There must be some mistake. Didn't they get the memo? The sky would fall if they left the EU.

Earth to elites: Citizens of truly democratic countries don't want unlimited immigration into their countries by people who couldn't be less interested in democracy. They also don't want to be governed by the rules and regulations of faceless bureaucrats whose not-so-hidden goals are power and riches for themselves and their friends. Simple, isn't it?

Will There Always Be an England?

This vote is of immense help to Donald Trump if he is smart enough to seize it properly and doesn't bobble the ball. Many, probably most, Americans feel exactly the same as their brothers and sisters across the pond. They despise the same elites and want to save their country. Trump, now fortuitously in Scotland (I know—they voted Remain, but not in the numbers they were supposed to), should show his support. The  UK is America's closest ally.  We should be the first to extend a hand, negotiate free trade, etc., and get her rolling again.

That most elite of presidents, Barack Obama, who opened his morally narcissistic mouth supporting the Remain side and warning the British people, as he is wont to do, that there would be "consequences" if they voted to leave the EU, is in no position to do anything, even if he wanted to.  And he doesn't.

Hillary Clinton is so elitist she practically defines the term. She was probably up all night figuring out what to do about the situation. I have a suggestion—move to Brussels.

Meanwhile, Trump should take up the gauntlet for the U.S. and the UK now. Why wait? Act like the president—we could use one.  Donald has a natural ally in the leading Leave spokesperson conservative Boris Johnson. The two men are said to be similar and in many ways they are.

What Brexit Means

Long live the Anglosphere. Remember the Magna Carta and all that. This is a day truly to celebrate, even if stock markets are crashing around the world. They'll come back. Look on it as a buying opportunity. A bubble has broken, but it isn't a stock bubble. It's a human bubble consisting of elites who seek to govern in a manner not all that distant from Comrade Lenin, just hiding under a phony mask of bureaucratic democracy. They've taken a big body blow from the citizens of England. Churchill would be proud.  Time for America to follow suit.

But don't get cocky.  This is only one small victory—a non-blinding referendum—but make no mistake about it, still a victory after all.  Just follow the instructions of Sir Winston and "never, never give up."  Yes, I know the quote is falsely attributed, but it's good advice nevertheless.



Trump on Brexit: America is next

British voters just shattered political convention in a stunning repudiation of the ruling establishment. Donald Trump is betting America is about to do the same.

The referendum campaign -- just like the U.S. election -- has boiled with populist anger, fear-mongering by politicians, hostility towards distant political elites and resurgent nationalism, and exposed a visceral feeling in the electorate that ordinary voters have lost control of the politics that shape their own lives. Its success raises the question of whether those forces will exert a similar influence in America in November.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who arrived in the UK to visit his Scottish golf courses just as the referendum result was announced, declared Friday that the U.S. is next.

"Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first," he said. "They will have the chance to reject today's rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people."

Pollsters in the UK underestimated the fury of grassroots voters outside metropolitan areas in a way that could be mirrored in the United States, where Clinton now enjoys a lead in national surveys.

Furthermore, "Brexit" forces triumphed partly because the Labour Party could not deliver its traditional working class voters in some big post-industrial cities for the "Remain" campaign, despite the support of party leaders.

It is not a stretch to wonder whether the kind of political message that was so powerful in the referendum -- featuring a harsh critique of free trade and a demands to "take our country back" -- could prove just as effective among blue-collar workers in rust belt states in the United States.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vive la France!

By far the best reaction to Brexit came from France.  Many European leaders rightly saw the Brexit vote as a repudiation of their policies but, instead of being humbled by it, were simply angry about it.  They were sure they knew what was best for the peasants and can't see where they went wrong  -- EXCEPT M. Hollande.  The French president rightly saw the excesses of the EU bureaucracy as a powerful motor behind British dissatisfaction with the EU. 

I also liked the reaction of Donald Tusk, representative of the heroic Polish people, who insisted: 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.  Being the ham in the sandwich between Germany and Russia, Poles have had to have that attitude. Some excerpts below of the European reaction.

European leaders have warned Britain to leave the EU quickly and avoid prolonging uncertainty.

The presidents of the EU's main institutions said in a statement today that they expect London to act on the decision to leave 'as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.'

As he demanded Britain make a quick exit from the EU, furious European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the U.K.'s relationship with the EU had been ambiguous, but was 'now clear.'

He added a prolonged exit was 'the opposite of what we need', adding that it was difficult to accept that 'a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party'.

French President Francois Hollande has admitted the EU requires 'profound change' in the wake of the Brexit vote as German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her dismay at the result.

Hollande said the UK's vote to leave the EU must act as a 'jolt' to the bloc to implement the change needed to address its troubles - adding he was 'sad' to see Britain sever relations.

The French President warned the remaining 27 member states that action was needed to reconnect with citizens. 'The British people have decided to leave. It is a sad decision but one which I respect,' he said.  'The vote puts the European Union in difficulties. It must recognise its shortfalls.

'A jolt is necessary. Europe must reaffirm it values of freedom, solidarity, peace. The EU must be understood and controlled by its citizens. I will do everything to secure profound change rather than decline.'

As leaders across Europe woke up to the news, France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen changed her Twitter picture to a Union Jack and told her followers the result was 'victory for freedom'.

'As I have been asking for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries,' she wrote.

This morning, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a member of the Le Pen dynasty and an FN MP,  tweeted 'Victory!'

Egregious, I know.  But this is a picture of Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, an anti-immigration member of the French parliament

The Le Pens are fiercely anti-Europe. They view an end to the EU as the best way of implementing their anti-immigration and anti-globalisation agenda.

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was 'sad for the United Kingdom' and that 'Europe will continue but it must react and rediscover the confidence of its peoples. It's urgent.'

Meanwhile the result also triggered Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders to call for a referendum on EU membership in the Netherlands. Wilders, who is leading opinion polls, said if he is elected prime minister in March he will force a vote.

He said in a statement: 'We want to be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders and our own immigration policy. 'As quickly as possible the Dutch need to get the opportunity to have their say about Dutch membership of the European Union.

'If I become prime minister, there will be a referendum in the Netherlands on leaving the European Union as well. Let the Dutch people decide.'



No wonder Trump looks happy - Britain's exit from Europe should leave Hillary Clinton shaking in her boots and Donald knows it!

I don't always agree with Piers Morgan but he is one of the few who know both British and American politics close up.  He is also an old friend of Trump and, despite some disagreements, is one of his few British defenders. So what he says below is worth a thought

Wow, wow, wow, wow, and WOW again. Not much shocks me after 33 years as a journalist in the news business, but Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is a truly staggering, historic and earth-shattering moment which I never thought would happen.

Full disclosure now it’s all over: I voted against Brexit and for Remain. My reason? The EU is indisputably a badly-run, antiquated organisation in desperate need of major reform, but to my mind that reform would be far better achieved by Britain staying inside it and leading the charge of change.

It wasn’t an easy decision, nor one I took lightly. The ramifications of this vote will play out for many years if not decades to come, and I’m not even remotely certain that I’m right in my assessment. In fact, the only thing I am certain about is that we’re now headed for a sustained period of uncertainty.

But mine was at least an honest belief based on careful study of all the facts and shamelessly scare-mongering claims laid before us by both sides.

I have four children and felt acutely conscious as I headed for my local electoral polling center last night that this decision would impact directly on them and their future lives, and those of their children and their children’s children.

This EU Referendum campaign, one of the most vicious, nasty and occasionally hideous in political history, split the British people like no issue I have ever witnessed before.

Many families, mine included, were bitterly divided. My father, sister and youngest brother voted to Leave the EU; my mother, wife and other brother voted to Remain. One of my two voting-age sons went for Remain, the other concluded he wasn’t persuaded by either side.

Passions ran very high and may take a long time to calm back down.

My Remain brother, a British Army officer who has serious concerns about what Brexit might mean for the security of Europe and the UK, actually warned his Facebook friends this morning that if any of them ‘gloated’ over this ‘bloody disaster’ he would never speak to them again. Interestingly, my sister’s husband, until recently also an army colonel, voted Leave.

Now though, it’s done, we are where we are and none of us really knows what will happen next. My guess is that things won’t be as bad as the Remain camp warned us nor as Utopian as the Leave camp promised.

We’ll all ‘keep buggering on’, as Churchill used to say, and it will probably all work itself out, somehow, in the end. Just as it did after World War 2.

More immediately, though, the fact Britain’s quit Europe will have a huge impact on global politics, not least in America which faces its own general election in November.

As the EU result came in, by eerie coincidence (though he obviously timed it deliberately to maximise publicity for the launch of his new golf course), Donald Trump flew into Scotland.

Trump and Vladimir Putin were the only two world political figures who publicly stated their support for Brexit.

So it was unsurprising to hear the Republican presidential nominee say how happy he was that Britons had ‘taken back their country’.

The parallels between Trump’s campaign and that waged by Brexit leaders Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are obvious.

All three men are all anti-politicians, in the sense that they don’t behave or speak like conventional politicians. Their joint modus operandi is shooting from the hip and saying outrageous things to grab media attention.

They crack inappropriate jokes, belittle opponents often in a very puerile way, and have all been variously dismissed as ‘buffoons’and ‘idiots’ and even compared to Hitler.

But they share unshakeable self-confidence and have skilfully presented themselves as outsiders far removed from the political elite and ‘establishment’, who stand up for the average man and woman in the street.

They’ve also focused with laser-like, ruthless precision on hot button issues which they know many of those people are genuinely worried about, notably immigration and terrorism.

At his presser in Scotland this morning, Trump said: ‘People are angry all over the world. They’re angry over borders, they’re angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are. They’re angry about many, many things in the UK. It’s essentially the same thing that’s happening in the United States.’

Regardless of what you think of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, and his uncompromising talk of walls and bans, does anybody really doubt after this shock Brexit result that he’s right about the levels of anger?

It may not be obvious to the political and media elites living in their hallowed, protected homes in privileged areas.  But travel to the north of England, or to the middle of America, and you will find very real fury with government and very real concern over the impact of perceived immigration control failures.

There’s an increasing large gulf between the politically correct ‘cool’ and ‘establishment’ crowd who view any publicly stated concern about border controls as ‘racism’, and those who have to live at the sharp end of it.

The clear message from this sensational day for any politician or world leader is this: ignore the concerns of the people at your peril.

Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron assumed, arrogantly and patronisingly, that he would win this referendum by relying on the tried and tested vote-winning issue of the economy. But he seriously misjudged the mood of the nation.

In fact, it was immigration and ‘getting our country back’ which won it for the Brexiters.

Donald Trump is currently behind Hillary Clinton in most presidency polls, betting odds and Wall Street opinion - but so was the Leave camp for much of the EU campaign.

What none of the UK pollsters, bookmakers and city experts realised was there was a huge groundswell of anger which was going to tip the balance away from their presumed favourite.

If it can happen in Britain, it can most definitely happen in America. The issues are the same, and the cheer-leaders for change aren’t that dissimilar either.



Trump Shows Just How Hard He'll Slam Clinton

It was a pair of dueling speeches, really, attack and counter attack. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton feebly struck at Donald Trump’s economic policies in an attempt to discredit the real estate mogul’s past experience. The next day, Donald Trump made a speech designed to take on Clinton’s experience as secretary of state, her “best” résumé item for the presidency. “The Hillary Clinton foreign policy has cost America thousands of lives and trillions of dollars — and unleashed ISIS across the world,” said the presumed GOP nominee. “No secretary of state has been more wrong, more often and in more places than Hillary Clinton. Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”

As several commentators noted, this may very well be Trump’s best strategy to unite the Republican Party after the divisive primary: Focus the firepower on Clinton. Hot Air’s Allahpundit writes, “If he had stuck to this message at his rallies and in his interviews over the last six weeks, there’d be no ‘Dump Trump’ contingent at the convention and his fundraising may well have taken off. Nothing unites the right, after all, like a forceful argument against the left.”

And there was plenty for Trump to slam — even without touching on the Clintons' personal lives. “Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft,” Trump said. He even found fault in her campaign slogan: “Her campaign slogan is, ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people.” By the time Trump is done with her, Clinton’s only accomplishment, if she’s elected, will be that she’s a woman. And as commentator David Limbaugh notes, what accomplishment is that for the Left, which thinks gender is subject to change?



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)