Tuesday, August 09, 2016


I've got a bad cold at the moment so no  blogging today.  I may be out of action for a few days

Monday, August 08, 2016

Equality of respect

There could be few more idiotic assertions than the compulsive Leftist claim that all men are equal.  The obvious fact is that all men are different.  But the absurd assertion does have a purpose.  It is aimed at getting everyone TREATED equally.  That is of course also hopeless but it makes slightly more sense than the original assertion.

So why do Leftists want everyone to be treated equally?  They don't.  They just use the prospect as a battle cry to get the less fortunate segments of society involved in the tearing down of the existing system which is their real aim.  It is just a con.

But conservatives are sufficiently disturbed by the potential aggression behind equality calls to propose a compromise.  Having seen what equality calls led to in Russia, China and elsewhere, it would be most unwise simply to ignore the push for equality.  So conservatives have embraced as a value that there should be equality of opportunity.

But that too is basically unreachable.  All people may (for instance) have an equal opportunity of gaining a High School education but some students -- the brighter ones -- will get more out of it and will go on to better things than the less intelligent students.  So there is no way that all students will have an equal opportunity to move into the top echelons of employment.  And, as a result, we don't hear much about equality of opportunity these days.  Cynicism about it has set in.

But there is one way in which equality can largely be reached and thus sidetrack social unrest.  It is equality of respect.  And I happen to live in a society where equality of respect has largely been achieved -- so it is not an airy-fairy idea. Australia has a national ideology of egalitarianism. It's sometimes summarized as "Jack is as good as his master". People largely treat one another in a friendly manner regardless of who or what they are.  The cleaner and the businessman will both normally speak to one another politely, with no  regard for the differences between them.  There will be no condescension from the businessman and no hostility or suspicion from the cleaner.

It is of course not perfect and social status differences are still there but the attitude that one man is as good as another does rule most interactions.  I am pleased to live in such a friendly society.  Australia does have a national ideology that makes everybody's life less stressful and more peaceful.

Could such an ideology be transplanted elsewhere?  Probably not.  Any attempt to transplant it to class-ridden England would be a joke and the competitive element in American culture would also  rule it out.  But it is nice to know that there is one way in which we can make practical sense of "all men are equal".  They are not equal in Australia but they mostly act as if they were.  Perhaps it's an aspiration for other societies.

Note:  In the above I am speaking of native-born Australians with descent from the British Isles and Northern Europe.  Such people are seen as a single distinct group in Australia.  There are however small East Asian and Indian minorities so what applies to the first group cannot automatically be generalized to minorities.  In my observation, however, the Australian-born Chinese and Indians do assimilate strongly to the majority culture so a lot of what I said above will also be true of them  -- JR

UPDATE:  I have just thought of two things that exemplify what I was talking about above.  The first was a very small event but I was in the presence of a friend when I witnessed it today so I was able to point it out: A mother had drawn four twenties out of a cash machine and gave them to her little daughter aged about 2 to hold.  She was involving the girl in life.  But the little girl dropped them onto the floor.  So did a nearby parasite swoop and grab them?  That would have been the form in some countries which I will decline to name. I travelled widely when I was younger.

No.  The mother, my friend and I were too slow to respond but another lady passing by swooped, picked up the notes and gave them back to the little girl.  It was only a tiny thing but it is an example of how nice Australians are to one another.

Another example is much more significant because it actually involves one of Australia's longest-serving Prime Ministers.  I have noted the event before so I should not have forgotten it above.  PM John Howard was waiting in a line at his local voting station to lodge his vote in favour of himself.  The man in front of him turned and noticed Australia's Prime Minister behind him.  The man said:  "Good to see you.  But I am still not going to vote for you".  Howard told that story with great pleasure on election night. (He won). He saw it as what a great place Australia was that no respect was given to even extreme social differences.  Both men celebrated Australia's real egalitarianism of respect.


Ridiculous Rules For Swordfish, Ceiling Fans, Grain Barges Help Make 2016 The Most Highly Regulated Year In History

With the approval of new rules for catching swordfish, manufacturing cement, and weighing the contents of grain barges, the federal government's listing of regulations surpassed 50,000 pages in length.

Not all-time. Oh, no, no. That's just for this year.

Don't let anyone tell you that nothing gets done in Washington, D.C., these days, because the bureaucratic cogs in the federal machine have been hard at work this year. It's only August, but the Federal Register is on pace to reach more than 85,900 pages before the end of the year—breaking the all-time record of 81,611 pages that was set just last year.

Ryan Young, a fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute who tracks the daily increases in the federal regulatory state, points out that the compliance cost for regulations approved in 2016 along tally between "$3.92 billion and $6.12 billion."

That's a huge amount of money, and even though it will never show up on a bill or be taken out of a paycheck, it's still being paid in hidden ways.

For a perfect example of this, look at the most expensive regulation passed in the last week, according to Young's tracking, which had do with school lunches.

The feds say those new rules for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program will help save as much as $1.4 billion in long-term costs by reducing childhood obesity. Whether it will accomplish that goal is questionable, but it will only cost a schools an additional 1.5 percent in their food budgets, the government reckons.

Those higher costs will be paid for by students buying lunch, or by school district budgets funded with tax dollars or by federal school lunch subsidy programs funded by tax dollars. It's coming out of someone's pocket, somewhere, that much is certain.

Individually, these are little things. A few more pennies for a school lunch. Extra tests required before motors for ceiling fans can be put on the market. A quota on how many swordfish can be harvested each year. Emissions standards for cement manufacturers. None of these things are likely to force businesses to close and won't inspire headlines or partisan bickering on the campaign trail.

Those little things pile up, like the pages in the Federal Register, to create something much more substantial.

There is little doubt that we'll finish 2016 with the largest version of the federal registry ever produced, since this year is also the final year of President Barack Obama's time in office. If history is any guide, you can expect a flurry of new regulations during the last 60 days of his administration—the Clinton administration published some 26,000 pages of "midnight regulations" during the same period in late 2000 and early 2001.



The Federal Government Wants to Re-regulate the Railroads

The United States has the most developed and efficient freight railroad system in the world. In contrast to Europe, where the large majority of freight is moved by road, by weight and distance travelled freight rail provides the largest share of the transportation mix in the US. This is no accident. In 1980, recognizing the sclerotic and weak state of the heavily-regulated rail industry, a deliberate decision was made to deregulate freight rail. The subsequent recovery of the freight rail industry might seem to be a lesson in the value of reducing federal interference to the average person, but not to a regulator. Perhaps offended by their example, regulators in Washington have been hunting for ways to re-impose regulatory control over American freight rail.

Freed from the heavy hand of federal government micromanaging, freight rail in America has boomed, creating a system that is the envy of the world. To maintain this world-beating system, the rail industry since 1980 has invested about 17% of revenues in maintenance and expansion of rail networks. This investment amounted to $28 billion in 2014, an amount equal to more than half of total federal government expenditure on transit, highway, and airport construction and improvement programs. The removal of federal controls gave rail companies the incentive to make these investments. As owners of the tracks, in a less regulated market rail companies have every incentive to upgrade and expand their transportation network.

The success of freight rail in this country, though, has attracted the attention of regulators and their special interest group allies. The most recent of these regulatory proposals is a proposed rule that would require freight rail companies to get permission from the federal government before deciding how many employees to have in the cab of a locomotive. This is not about safety, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the agency proposing the rule: “[we] cannot provide reliable or conclusive statistical data to suggest whether one-person crew operations are generally safer or less safe than multiple-person crew operations.” But the railroad unions have been lobbying for this rule for some time. Staffing decisions on trains are normally part of the negotiation process between the union and the railroad, but with this rule the unions are trying to enlist the power of the federal government on their side.

The FRA has produced no evidence for why this regulation is necessary. As mentioned above, they have no safety justification. Indeed, the FRA does not even track how many employees railroads have in train cabs. At a public hearing on July 15, witness after witness explained the shortcuts and inconsistencies in the proposed rule and its justification. Indeed, both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs [criticized parts of the proposed rules](https://www.aar.org/Documents/Crew Size Comments - Association of American Railroads %28June 15 2016%29.pdf). Imagine that, even other federal regulators think that the FRA is off the rails. In this case, the attitude of FRA is regulate first, come up with a reason later. It is yet another example of an out of control federal regulator looking for a reason to justify its existence.

This sort of regulation may seem small and insignificant for the average American. Why should you worry about an argument over how many people are in a train cab? Because these sorts of regulations increase the cost of any number of products you buy: anything transported by rail or any product made from an input that is transported by rail. Regulations like these are death by 1000 cuts, raising costs and reducing efficiency, for no other reason than a special interest handout.



Republicans Consider Next Steps After News of Obama Administration Cash Transfer to Iran

Republicans in Congress are criticizing President Barack Obama’s administration for its approval of a $400 million delivery of cash to Iran on the same day the country released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal.

Though the administration says the timing of the $400 million money transfer was coincidental, and part of a resolution of a failed arms deal between the two countries that dates to the Iranian revolution, critics say that a link between the payment and the prisoner exchange is undeniable.

“The claim that the timing is coincidental is beyond unbelievable,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., an outspoken critic of U.S. policy toward Iran. “It is clear at this point that one of two possibilities apply to this administration: either the president has absolutely no idea what he is doing or the president knows exactly what he is doing and is playing for some other team.”

“Unfortunately, paying a $400 million ransom is no game and the consequences are grave,” Zeldin told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Critics of the deal on Wednesday called on the White House to disclose details of the payment. “Unfortunately, paying a $400 million ransom is no game and the consequences are grave,” says @RepLeeZeldin.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew demanding answers on the timing and nature of the money transfer, and how the remaining $1.3 billion will be paid.

Other opponents of the deal predicted the money transfer would have broader repercussions.

“The revelation that the Obama administration ransomed the three Americans being unjustly detained by Iran with $400 million in cash is only the most recent piece of evidence that the so-called nuclear deal with the mullahs is fundamentally illegitimate,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement.

“It is nothing but a series of bribes and secret agreements that will do nothing to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear capability, yet will provide funding for their sponsorship of terrorism and encourage them to detain more of our citizens. This ‘deal’ should be ripped to shreds immediately before more damage is done.”



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, August 07, 2016

The contented versus the discontented people

I have been looking at the differences between the Left and the Right of politics since 1968, when I submitted my Master's dissertation  on that subject.  And my aim has been to understand WHY Leftists behave like SoBs so much of the time. How is it that implementing Leftist policies always results in harm and destruction of some sort, if not mass murder?

So my interest has been not only in Leftist claims and policies but also in their underlying psychology.  I think, in fact, that it is only at the psychological level that Leftism can be understood.  And, in that, I find myself in a degree of agreement with Leftist psychologists.  Leftists never stop offering accounts of the psychology of conservatives, adverse accounts, of course. It is one of the more popular fields of research in psychology.  So Leftists are most emphatic that you need to delve into the psychological realm to understand politics.  In any argument on the facts they will be defeated by conservatives so impugning the motives of their opponent is essentially all that they have left.

I am VERY familiar with the Leftist claims in that regard. Most of my 200+ academic journal articles were devoted to showing that the research they relied on in support of their claims was flawed, often hilariously so.

But there was one redeeming feature in their research.  In purporting to decribe conservatives they usually were quite clearly describing themselves!  An accusation that they never seem able to let go of, despite much contrary evidence, is that conservatives are "authoritarian".  Yet what could be more authoritarian than wanting to "fundamentally transform" America? (In Mr Obama's words -- words which elicited an enormous cheer from his Leftist audience).

So to find out what is true of Leftists, a good first approximation is to look at what they say about conservatives. They do Freudian projection on a grand scale.  Real self-insight is beyond them. Their motivations are so dismal that they can't afford to acknowledge what they really are.  They can only project it onto others.

But before you study a thing you have to define it and that can be tricky.  Conservatives themselves offer many different accounts of what is meant by conservatism and its opposite. The different accounts usually have a lot in common but none seem to me to strike at the heart of the Right/Left divide.

So I want to offer what is my simplest yet definition of the difference between the two camps.  I propose that the Left/Right divide consists of the discontented versus the contented people.  But the difference is a difference between characteristic mood rather than an invariable divide.  All the surveys show that conservatives are happier than Leftists but that does not mean that they are ALWAYS happy.  That would be absurd. And Trump supporters are clearly not content with the present Left-dominated state of politics, with its pervasive strictures of political correctness greatly limiting what everyone can say and do.

So conservatives have a DISPOSITION, presumably with genetic roots, to be happy and contented, whereas Leftists can't help  finding things to be discontented about.  One must rather pity them.

Exactly WHAT Leftists get discontented about will obviously vary.  There seem to be few things they are contented with and some of their discontents are quite amazing.  At the moment, for instance, they want to tear down most of America's electricity infrastructure in the name of the absurd global warming theory, a theory that is in constant divergence from reality.

So, basically, Leftists are discontented with EVERYTHING and, in consequence, want to tear down as much of the existing state of affairs as they can.  The harm and destruction that flows from their policies is INTENDED.

One of the more nauseous discontents among Leftists is discontent with their personal fame and prestige.  They have a very high opinion of themselves and are greatly grieved that the world at large does not have a similar opinion of them.  So they lash out in all sorts of ways.  Academics are particularly prone to that.  They have in fact by their employment reached a small degree of personal distinction but are quite burned up that many business people get paid far more than they do.

So they lash out at society by promulgating fanciful theories about the evils of the world that will get them taken seriously at least by other Leftists. They gain distinction by being seen by some as heroic critics of a world in vast need of reform and reorientation.

The global warming theory is a good example of that.  It's intellectual underpinnings are pure speculation but it has succeeded in creating great disruption.  And it continues to be taken seriously because a relatively small clique of scientists continue to proclaim it energetically.  The famous "97%" paper by John Cook in fact shows, if you read it carefully,  that only one third of climate scientists voice support for the theory.

So, because of their miserable psychological state, Leftists have great potential to do harm and we should never forget that, regardless of what face they put on it, their AIM is to do harm, harm that will usually affect us all in one way or another.  Their claims of "compassion" are no more than necessary camouflage for their destructive intentions.


Picture gallery update

Every now and I put up a collection of recent pictures on my blog that I liked best.  You can access the collection for the first half of this year here or here. There's even a glamor pic included!


WTF is Google up to?

Google run the blogspot facility that hosts this blog.  And they  always seem to be working on "improvements" to it.  The improvements are however so detrimental to this humble blogger that I have to wonder if they are trying to chase content providers such as myself away.

The first big decrement to the service came about two years ago when some blogdspot sites were connected to an html interpreting program that REFUSED to allow more than one paragraph to be indented or italicized.  You can go into the resulting html and alter it back to what you wanted but that is pesky.  The odd thing is that the restriction applies only to some blogs.  About half of my blogs are affected.

The next goof was quite recent.  They made all their blogs accessible over a https (protected) connection.  That's fine but for some reason most images I find are apparently incompatible with https.  So every time I put up an image, I get a red warning that I have to click off.  More wasted time.

And the very latest is that if I re-edit a post after I have first put it up, the system puts up TWO copies of the revised  post.  So again I have to waste time clicking the unwanted copy off.  Crazy.  If anybody knows how I can evade these idiocies, I would be most grateful to hear of it


Queen Elizabeth I

Agrguably the greatest of the Tudor monarchs, Elizabeth was a very wise woman.  She was even fairly libertarian for her times.  There are therefore quite a few collections of her wise sayings on the net.  Frustratingly, one of her better sayings does not apprear anywhere.  She on one occasion wrote to the King of Spain, who was very tyrannical towards anybody who questioned the Catholic religion.  Elizabeth herself practiced tolerance towards Catholics even though she was a Protestant monarch.  So she wrote to the king what my memory records as:  "Why cannot your majesty let your subjects go to hell in their own way?"

I would like to get the exact wording and the date of the letter.  So again, I would be much obliged if anybody readring this could enlarge on the matter.



For some reason, I seem to have become a rather popular author on quora.com.  I get about a dozen requests for comment per day. I basically don't have the time to answer most of the questions so when I do answer, my answers tend to be extremely brief.  The interesting thing, however, is how dumb most of the questions are.  Really basic stuff about politics and history seems to be unknown to lots of people.  You can see here the questions I have answered, some of which are very basic.  But  bear in mind that the REALLY dumb questions I have not bothered with.  Life is too short.


3 Ways to Talk About Conservatism With a Liberal

As the mantra of “Don’t discuss politics or religion” repeats like a drumbeat in your head, you settle on “How about that game?”

Your desperate search for the safest question to ask a colleague as you wait for the morning coffee to brew is understandable. But you can find a way.

If conservatives refrain from engaging in the narrative, we let the media and politicians (ahem, President Barack Obama) paint us as crazy people who cling to “guns or religion.”

That’s where this column comes in —a place to help you talk to the people in your life (think neighbors, co-workers, family, friends) about conservative issues. Trust me, it’s possible.

While I will explore a wide variety of relevant topics in the weeks to come, I’d like to start with something basic and broad: the term “conservative.”


If you look at The Heritage Foundation’s definition, you find that conservatism is five pillars: free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

So, there’s your answer, right? Just memorize and repeat when someone wants to know why you are conservative.

Wrong. There is no faster way to kill a conversation than to categorize your perspective like it’s a to-do list. When talking about any issue, you have to connect with the other person’s interests. And that starts by being a good listener.

If you find your colleague doesn’t give much insight into her ideology, ask questions. Find out what makes her tick by starting a conversation about her day at work or what’s going on in the news. It’s amazing how much you learn when you ask a question and then … stop talking.

Once you gain insight into what issues someone cares about, the real work begins. You now have a blueprint for how to approach the conversation in a way that resonates with him or her, not you.

For example, if you find that your colleague talks about how expensive it is to run her side business, the free enterprise pillar is a good area to explore. Now, you’re off to the races.  Here are a few strategies that work well:

1. Common Ground

Don’t underestimate the power of establishing common ground. Doing so makes you seem reasonable and can go a long way in diffusing any tension or unwillingness to hear you out. If you’re in agreement with someone on the goal, like his business succeeding, he is more likely to stick around and listen to your solution.

2. Examples

Don’t underestimate the power of relatable examples, which can help people visualize your point. Often, the conservative principles we talk about can seem very abstract. Examples put issues into context, especially when you can illustrate a point using a reference from their daily lives. For instance, if you want to promote free enterprise, talk about all the regulations their business currently faces and how there would be significantly fewer if free enterprise was more valued by our lawmakers.

3. Words

Finally, you have to use the right words. Don’t even think about using the term “free enterprise.” Instead, steal a page from the liberals’ playbook: use emotion to push an agenda. Own words like “fair” or “choice,” and statements like “you know better than a bureaucrat in D.C.” Using emotional language will set you up for success.

Before you think that attempting a conversation is hopeless because “you don’t know how liberal my co-workers are,” keep in mind that people will listen if you talk about issues that matter to them. If done well, it’s possible they won’t recognize that you are approaching the conversation from a conservative perspective.

Take millennials. You may think it’s hopeless to talk to that generation about free enterprise since so many view themselves as socialists. But when millennials are starting more businesses than the baby-boomer generation there’s reason to question their dedication to socialism (Do they really know what socialism is?) and an opportunity to use their entrepreneurism as a gateway to talking about free enterprise.

So, talk to a liberal today. Employ the strategies we just discussed and see if you can have a meaningful conversation about conservatism on her terms. Identify her interests, choose one of the five pillars that align with her interests, and use examples.

No pressure, but you may be the only conservative that tries to challenge her world view. And if we are going to preserve the American dream, it’s going to take all of us doing our part by first talking to the people we know.



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)