Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Gilded Age

Thanksgiving dinner for only $35,000.
"We know it's over-the-top expensive, but Thanksgiving comes once a year. If you can splurge for this, you have a lot to be thankful for," said Old Homestead Steakhouse co-owner Marc Sherry.

It features nine-courses including squab stuffed with foie gras soaked in a $5,000 a bottle L'Esprit Cognac, roasted organic turkey stuffed with Japanese Wagyu and gravy made with a $1,750/bottle claret, butternut squash with black truffles, and sweet potatoes topped with three pounds of caviar. For dessert, diners will be served bourbon-soaked pears with pumpkin paste dusted with 24-karat gold.

For the elite, it's like 2008 never happened. Myself and a number of my peers were personally taught some severe financial lessons with that downturn. My lifestyle has never been the same since; I live well within my means now, much to the economists' horror. That's why I was screaming at everybody that a 'bailout' was unnecessary. The 2008 bust was big news because of who was ending up poor. Unlike a high-flying Texas realtor from past boom-bust cycles who had to suck it up and go work at the local hardware store, now it was the personal friends of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke looking at wage-slavery. So clearly, Something Must Be Done. It was, and it worked beautifully. The Fed just printed up money and handed it out in exchange for assets that should have been liquidated for pennies on the dollar.

As the Mises Institute's Joseph Keckeisen wrote in 2009,
The corpses of the erstwhile automobile empires would have breathed their last, their good assets now transferred to the hands of newer more responsible entrepreneurs. The prior executives would be moving over to Cheapside and brushing off their overalls, perhaps in line to join a new remodeled UAW, in search for some job where they couldn't mess things up any more.

The bankruptcy courts would be finishing up their exequies for the deceased former titans of the packaged debentures. The tombstones of the new economic cemetery would display the once great names of Fannie and Freddie, of Citi, of AIG, of Merrill Lynch, along with the hapless Lehman Brothers, interred several months before. And so many more financial cadavers would have been laid to rest, their memory duly to be forgotten, as perpetrators of a fake capitalism now buried and forgotten. Perhaps the cemetery could be economically located in an enlarged churchyard at Trinity Church at the head of Wall Street, to occupy the now excess real estate in the area and be a perpetual reminder that treason in the capitalist world will always be avenged.

Washington would finally be silenced, even if the Fed were not yet duly junked in the process, and the Treasury's overbearance would be bridled as the rest of the uneconomic trash was being flushed out of the system.

The Case Shiller indices would have completed their downfall to a level that future homeowners could devote the traditional 30 percent of their money incomes towards purchasing their long-wanted love nests. New families would be rushing in to fill the vacant home sites.
So this Thanksgiving 2014, remember 2008 as the bellwether for the US government's descent into banana republic economics: the rich are to be protected from becoming poor. And please stay home on Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Nature is the ultimate fascist"

Liberal, anti-fascist whites are getting old and tired, and their children are being killed.

A God to Damn Us, by Gregory Hood.
The former Army Ranger known as Peter Kassig met his end under the knives of the Islamic State as Abdul Rahman Kassig. Even after his death, his mother is making media appearances wearing the hijab. For that matter, James Foley was a convert to Islam, as were other hostages. And while some undoubtedly convert in the (futile) hope of better treatment, it appears that many of these cases are sincere. Nor is this surprising, as the likes of Kassig, Foley, and others who have been taken captive in the Islamic State’s territory defined their lives by their efforts to help Muslims thousands of miles away from home.

Even liberal Whites ostensibly motivated by vacuous concepts like “human rights” can’t help but be impressed by those who possess actual strength of belief, especially from Third Worlders immune from charges of racism or cultural imperialism. Of course, many of these Third Worlders actually are racist or imperialist, but that reality is easily ignored by liberals who insist on viewing them as agency free moral mascots. Yet the fact that some Whites (even former Army Rangers) are willing to dedicate their entire lives to serving the Other and literally renounce their own identity at the moment of death testifies to something deeper than simple egalitarianism. It’s a kind of ethical exhaustion--liberal Whites are weary of the moral responsibility of existence and survival.

The very absurdity of our culture (if we can even call it a culture) shows that many Whites are looking for a way out. They actually seek escape through foreign occupation. To be occupied is to live in a world where meaning and cultural context is provided by a foreign people. You can be a religious minority (or an atheist) in a majority religious society and be “free,” but power, narrative, and taboo are ultimately in the hands of someone else. The same goes for being a racial minority or sexual minority.

This feeling of occupation is what underlies the fury of most minorities towards their host societies, no matter how well they are treated. To most people, being a minority is alienating--even if no one is specifically insulting you, you recognize you exist at the sufferance of someone else. However, to many liberal Whites, this feeling comes as a relief. In a kind of parody of Christianity, powerlessness constitutes a certain moral authority because it removes the possibility that you can inadvertently oppress someone else. It’s the only way to be free of White guilt, as even charity is just an expression of privilege. To the egalitarian mind, freedom really is slavery.

The hard truth is that Freedom Failed. Its failure is all around us. The Death of the West is an ongoing demographic and cultural reality. But what comes next? If Identitarians fail, it may be nature’s backup plan--Islam, particularly in its militantly monotheistic, Wahhabi Sunni variant.

Robert Ferrigno’s Prayers for the Assassin Trilogy posits exactly this outcome for the United States--a mass conversion as a response to spiritual exhaustion. The society he posits is built on a lie (in the book’s case, a nuclear attack blamed on Israel) and under the sway of religious fanatics, but is in many ways more admirable (and certainly more masculine) than what we have now. As Ferrigno notes, “the moral certainty of Islam was the perfect antidote to the empty bromides of the churches and the corruption of the political class.” Ferrigno’s scenario is obviously implausible but the demographic replacement of post-Christian Whites with Muslims is precisely what we are seeing in Europe today.

Our post-society is the rotten fruit of “liberty” and classical liberalism. We are told that once they are free of the dead hand of tradition, individuals can determine their own identity, inherently possess limitless potential to achieve perfection, and create the best kind of society by pursuing enlightened self-interest. Instead, we find technological wonders and vast wealth in our subjugated Europa and her cultural colonies in America, Africa, and Australia, but the denizens of these depraved outposts of supposed civilization can’t even be bothered to sustain themselves.

There are no limits to this process. It will follow its course until it is replaced. And the attempt to defy Nature is leading to a predictable result--inadvertent hilarity, followed by European extinction. In the end, Nature is the ultimate fascist...

Much more at the linked article. I know there are a number of polite, generous-minded and faithful Christians who read this blog. Please click through, and click through the embedded links in the OP.

We buy peaceful co-existence with Islam and other alien cultures through an unprecedented level of hedonic consumption, itself made possible by unprecedented levels of debt and monetary stimulus. The West has been pulling future spending forward to fund present consumption for a long time, and the whole pyramid scheme nearly came undone in 2008. There was nothing magical or financially arcane about the remedy. In simple terms, we printed money to paper over the enormous hole that opened up in nominal wealth, betting that the "real" economy would catch up and fill it. These are the "green shoots" upon which neo-Keynesians like Bernanke have bet their intellectual integrity, and on which current Fed chair Janet Yellen has bet her place in history. We are winding down a six year-process of printing EIGHTY FIVE BILLION WITH A B dollars a month and buying mortgage-backed securities, student loan-backed securities, and US Treasury debt with them. The collateral motive is to chase investor dollars from "safe" harbors like GSE and sovereign debt securities to riskier investments like corporate equity and venture capital funds.

Has the real economy (i.e., the part of the economy supported by savings from the surplus generated by past production) grown enough to fill that hole in nominal wealth and enable us to defer hard questions about who gets what and where they live, and who they are? We are about to find out. And let me end by pointing out that this gamble, and not some academic principle or moral imperative, is what is behind the court economists' obsession with growth, growth, growth by immigration, globalization, automation, scale, and whatever other euphemisms for job loss, displacement and obsolescence we can dream up. Because otherwise, we are falling back into a 3.5 trillion-dollar hole and population sub-groups might not continue feeling so accommodating and generous to each other.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Diversity" destroys diversity

From the superlative Brett Stevens.
When it comes to holidays, in a country where people are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Zoroastrian and Shinto, there are no holidays in common. As a result, it will be unfair to impose a single set of holidays. My prediction is that in ten years, schools will give students a dozen “floating” absence days that they can take for any reason in order to cover the religious holidays of a dozen faiths.

Welcome to the cultural idea of liberalism, which is destruction of the majority and its culture. By importing many different types of people, it becomes “safe” only to celebrate that which everyone shares, which is nothing. Thus everyone becomes an exception and everything becomes a personal choice. This is the method of liberalism: create an ideological group and expand it to absorb others.

This contrasts the conservative idea of culture, which is to pick people by what they share and then select for the best of that culture, so that culture and people alike advance, with natural selection and conscious choice of “better” balancing each other. That is how you get a rising civilization: you find a natural majority and enhance it.

When I write that “diversity” does not work, what I mean is that it is bad policy. It is not the fault of Muslims, Jews or Christians that they do not integrate. It is the fault of the policy of diversity itself, which insists you can combine many different things without destroying them. You cannot, but then again, the goal behind diversity has always been destruction — destruction of the natural majority, replacement of culture with ideology, and creation of a permanent liberal State.
Amerika, where culture goes to die.

Canada is going in the other direction: the premise is that, for example, the Hindus can take advantage of the public medical care, cheap land, and transparent governance to create the idealized Hindu culture, just without the filth, corruption and superstition of the Indian homeland. So far, most Canadians appear happy to participate in their own displacement. Presumably, the new Canadians feel enamored enough of their homeland to pay their taxes and not just regard it as a place to crash and launder money from the homeland.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Translation: We need our cut

Legalize and regulate sports betting.
N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver: Allow Gambling on Pro Games.

The Iguala massacre

Which reader seeing that headline was able to place it in context?
...Here are the barbaric facts. On Sept. 26, Iguala municipal police broke up a march and a political demonstration staged by student protestors. Police killed six and then arrested another 43 student protestors. The police killed perhaps another dozen (by "asphyxiation," investigators believe) and then handed the others over to the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) gang. The gangsters killed the other 30 or so young men and women, shredded their corpses and burned the remains. After two gang members confessed in late October, investigators found burnt bone fragments in a dump near the town of Cocula (17 kilometers from Iguala). Search parties also discovered six bags of human remains.

Yes, policemen and gang gunmen colluding to commit mass murder. The tragedy, however, has a Lady Macbeth turn, which leads to Guerrero's governing elites.

In early October, residents of Iguala claimed that Iguala mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, pressured by his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, ordered municipal police to attack the students. Pineda intended to run for mayor of Iguala (to replace her husband after he completed his term). Pineda, whom local media call "Lady Iguala," had scheduled a speech before 3,000 bused-in supporters in the city plaza. She told her husband opposition demonstrators must not interrupt her campaign fiesta.
Via Vox Popoli.
I recall the story popping up briefly on my MSN homepage before disappearing back into the pop culture soup. Mexico is a pretty strange place, with jet planes, architects and computers co-existing with a level of casual brutality and corruption.

What's more interesting to me is how this story, like a lot of things Mexican, just doesn't seem to pique many journalists' curiosity. If the mayor of a US city of approximately 100,000, say Albany, New York, told the police to kill 43 students and shred their bodies, it would be Kind Of A Big Deal. But there's this strange incuriousness about Mexico which, in its storied history, hosted Trotsky (and the hitmen sent by Stalin to kill Trotsky), went through a really virulent anti-Catholic, Masonic phase, and periodically takes potshots at US military and Border Patrol units.

Incidentally, in 2000 the Sheriff of DeKalb County, Georgia, Sidney Dorsey, lost his election so he ordered a deputy to assassinate his successor. I was pretty shocked by this at the time; political rivals getting assassinated is not really something that happens in metropolitan Atlanta. But at the time I can tell you the attitude was pretty much that this awful crime had been committed. Nobody gave much thought to the notion that this could indicate some pretty serious breakdown in the social fabric.

We should probably look more carefully at the originating society before we decide to move another country of 30+ million people into the continental US. It would be nice if journalists dug into these things a bit more. For that matter, I would think it would be good for business generating content where the writers asked a lot of questions about turbulent places with a complex history. But Mexico is one of those places where nobody can think of anything to ask.

The splashy, strivingly-hip Vox was supposedly started by young maverick journalists. Its mission statement is, hilariously, "to explain the news." (I guess the focus groups didn't like, "to tell you how to think.") You can scan their front page and headline stories and figure out pretty quickly that they have already decided which questions they won't be asking.

Friday, November 14, 2014

You heard it here first

Folks, when the prognosticating mood strikes you, this blog is really all you need to read. No matter the object of whichever policy the Establishment chooses to ride off the rails and over the cliff, your Anti-Gnostic has probably broached it first. I said it here in January 2012 and I'm sure earlier in the iSteve comboxes:
Some causes the Left has quietly tiptoed away from:...

3. Environmental advocacy. Here is a fairly typical jeremiad. Note the passive voice, as if deforestation and fauna extinction are just happening in Africa, like an earthquake or tidal wave. I don't hear anybody lecturing China or India on their appalling industrial practices. David Gelbaum's purchase of the Sierra Club is well-documented. National parks in the American Southwest are becoming no-go zones. Mother Jones, Audubon and other environmental groups don't seem to be covering these crucial topics.
I repeated it again in January 2013:
I have said for some time that environmentalism is one of those causes that the Left is going to quietly back away from. Most of our 1+ million new Americans a year come here precisely because they don't want to hunt, fish or strap on a backpack. Also, pensions, disability checks and public schools won't pay for themselves, so we better crank up the bulldozers.

The Left appears to recognize its dilemma, hence the move away from difficult, hands-on stuff like land stewardship and wildlife management and on to vague, incorporeal notions like 'global warming.'

And now it has come to pass: the LA Times has pronounced sentence on "bushy-bearded Scot" John Muir as the first Dead White Male environmentalist racist whose corpse is to be dug up and pissed on.
John Muir is the patron saint of environmentalism, an epic figure whose writings of mystical enlightenment attained during lone treks in California's wilderness glorified individualism, saved Yosemite and helped establish the national park system..

As the first president of the Sierra Club, Muir shaped enduring perceptions about how the wild world should be prioritized, protected and managed.

But now some critics are arguing that the world has changed so much in the century since his death that Muir has gone the way of wheelwrights.

He is no longer relevant.

"Muir's legacy has to go," said Jon Christensen, a historian with UCLA's Institute of Environment and Sustainability. "It's just not useful anymore." ... To Christensen and others ... Muir's notion that immersing people in "universities of the wilderness" — such as Yosemite — sends the message that only awe-inspiring parks are worth saving, at the expense of smaller urban spaces.

Critics also say Muir's vision of wilderness is rooted in economic privilege and the abundant leisure time of the upper class.

Rather than accessing Muir's beloved Sierra Mountains as backpackers, skiers or rock climbers, they argue, Californians would benefit more from the creation of urban parks, additional roads and trails in wild lands.

Nature exists in many forms, they say. Pristine wilderness is but one.

On Thursday, six weeks before the centennial of Muir's death, conservationists, geographers, lawmakers, artists, historians and environmental justice advocates will meet at UCLA to discuss his legacy and relevance. The occasion is the investiture of Glen MacDonald as the university's John Muir memorial chair in geography.

Among the presenters at the event, titled "A Century Beyond Muir," will be Christensen, who is a friend and colleague of MacDonald's.

Lining up behind him will be other critics — including Richard White, a historian at Stanford University who says Muir's late 19th century, Anglo-Saxon brand of environmentalism and bias toward untouched wilderness skewed the way nature has been portrayed in popular culture.

For example, in his writings, Muir said the squirrels he killed on his ranch in Martinez, Calif., were disgusting pests out to ruin the orchards. But he described the squirrels living in his beloved High Sierra as hard-working creatures like those later popularized in the Disney classic "Snow White."

Critics also see a correlation between the emotional, biblical language of Muir's writings and the demographic makeup of national park visitors and the ranks of the largest environmental organizations — mainly aging, white Americans.

The Sierra Club, which Muir founded, and the Audubon Society are struggling to connect with California's diverse population, particularly Latinos, who polls show are among the most devoted environmentalists in the state. A strong and diverse membership in California, where Latinos are expected to become a majority by 2050, is important to influencing political decisions and raising funds to support missions of conservation and environmental education.

Yet "the conservation movement reflects the legacy of John Muir, and its influence on a certain demographic — older and white — and that's a problem," Christensen said.

He is joined in that view by D.J. Waldie, an author and expert on Southern California culture.

"We have to reimagine our relationships with nature to accommodate modern, increasingly diverse communities that see the world differently than white Anglo-Saxon Protestants like Muir did in the late 19th century," Waldie said.

It is all to be destroyed my friends. The pristine wilderness, the apex predators, the old flora, the unspoiled vistas. Did we really believe r-selected groups would look on that space so scrupulously maintained by a K-selected people and think, take only pictures, leave only footprints?

Plenty of room there for solar cell arrays, wind farms, water treatment plants, strip malls, affordable housing. And below that, mineral riches that will back the dollar to support welfare transfer payments for decades to come. Against all that, you're going to pose white, middle-class backpackers?

"Say what?"

I am sick to my soul. Those wilderness spaces will not be maintained absent a very bloody and violent defense against encroachment which a prosperous people are loath to take up. Americans will either defend these natural riches with their lives or they will see them consumed, but I am afraid we are all going to say the same thing: I've got responsibilities, so it won't be me.

However this turns out, that old America which I and others in my cohort glimpsed in that short, stupid period called youth--that time when we should have been cracking heads back when we still had the numbers and the vitality--is gone forever. There is no hope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So far so good

The US remains a fairly conservative place. Ad Orientem found a great photo.

Who would have thought such a thing, that Republicans could win on a platform that didn't include the active loathing of their own constituents?

For all his bloviating and hyperbole, I think Rush Limbaugh is right. (Via Vox Popoli).
It is rare that a political party running for office in a midterm election not standing for anything ends up with a mandate, and they have one, and it is the biggest and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era, and it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrats. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday. Republicans were not elected to govern.

I tend to agree. The sentiment I hear from my crowd is that Obama is anti-business and anti-American and they want this crazed social crusader stopped before all of small business goes under and there's not a single good school district left. Anything but this smug, shallow pseudo-lawyer.

The Kakistocracy looks on with suspicion, as the geriatric Mitch McConnell assures worried Kentuckians that he intends to get right to work on corporate tax reform and trade agreements. This geriatric aspect of US politics is puzzling and under-remarked. Apparently, 91-year old Bob Dole is still being wheeled around. Who are they trying to appeal to, the 70-year old vote?

Sailer wonders if Obama and the Democrats are pushing people outside their comfort zones, with their championing of three-hundred pound bullies and net-tax consuming immigrants with contagious deadly diseases.

I think there is something to Sailer's thesis. The Democratic message is beginning to run counter to a lot of people's instincts, including the instincts of traditionally communitarian, low time-preference groups such as Asians. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Obama was elected because everybody non-white and single white women voted for him, and over five million other whites stayed home rather than vote for a crazy old man named John McCain or a slick apostate named Mitt Romney. Obama never had a liberal "mandate" beyond his NPR-listening fan club.

As the activities of most people tend to revolve around raising children, religious worship and trying to earn a living, it actually makes sense that political equilibrium settles a little right-of-center. In other words, most people realize that non-normative sexual practices aren’t healthy; they want a connection with the metaphysical; they want to have children and love and be loved by a member of the opposite sex; and they want to keep their stuff rather than giving it to the government. So reality you might say comes out rather conservative.

As I've mentioned, I am skeptical of the Republicans being interested in conserving anything more venerable than early 20th century Progressivism, but compared to the party of public employee unions, restive ethnic minorities, blue-hairs, Jews, sexual deviants and Jewish sexual deviants, they look like the ancien regime.