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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dennis Mangan's dangerous ideas

Mangan links to an article by Richard Thaler at The Edge which asks,
The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

Mangan provides excerpts from the following Edge contributors:
Greg Cochran answers:

I would guess that most basic anthropological doctrine is false — for example. the 'psychic unity of mankind'. but then most practitioners don't really pretend to do science.

The doctrine is, of course, gnostic in that it presumes a mind/body dichotomy, a non-corporeal, uniform human 'essence' which justifies equality of outcomes. Edge contributor Judith Harris takes a related stab:
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In other words, people tend to resemble their parents. They resemble their parents not only in physical appearance but also, to some degree, in psychological characteristics.

The question is: Why? Two competing answers have been offered: nature (the genes that people inherit from their parents) and nurture (the way their parents brought them up). Neither of these extreme positions stood up to scrutiny and they eventually gave way to a compromise solution: nature + nurture. Half nature, half nurture. This compromise is now an accepted belief, widely held by scientists and nonscientists alike.

But the compromise solution is wrong, too. Genes do indeed make people turn out something like their parents, but the way their parents brought them up does not. So nature + nurture is wrong: it's nature + something else.
As one of Mangan's commenters points out, we know that brain development is greatly affected by early sensory inputs. Abandoned animals and children are mentally stunted. However, we also know that different people respond to the same environment in different ways, so Harris's hypothesis seems to have some merit.

Mangan then lists his own examples of currently held beliefs he predicts will be proven erroneous.
I haven't read all the contributors' answers, but I'll throw out the lipid hypothesis (or cholesterol hypothesis) of heart disease, although the belief is still widely held by many. I'm certain that it's wrong, and put my money where my mouth is by living accordingly.

I'm less certain about HIV as a cause of AIDS, but I do believe that the theory will have to be at least seriously modified.

Another one: exposure to solar radiation is unhealthy, and that one should avoid it to prevent cancer. Still widely held.

The theory of anthropogenic global warming: nothing but a fad.

To the extent that economics is a science - that is, to not a great extent - Keynesian economic theory is wrong, the Austrians are right.
This strikes me as a pretty good list. Low carb has withstood everything the USDA has thrown at it. AIDS appears 'sticky' to unhygienic practices that put a heavy load on the immune system, and people who do not engage in those practices remain resistant to HIV despite dire warnings that 'we all are at risk.' Has HIV actually been isolated?

With respect to solar radiation/skin cancer, I think Mangan is overlooking the pretty obvious evolutionary adaptation of melanin content.

Global warming: How can a compound, CO2, which comprises 0.039% of the atmosphere and which retains less heat than more abundant water vapor be responsible for global warming? We are told that the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting which means they are absorbing heat, like a cold turkey placed in a hot oven. Do the numbers balance? Is there that much 'excess' heat, and again, how can it be due to a trace atmospheric compound? The AGW hypothesis reminds me of the astrologer's fallacy: the movements of celestial bodies light-years away are believed to exert more influence on human development than, say, the actions of the obstetrician. Why is CO2 and not solar activity or urbanization the object of inquiry?

Keynesian theory: In 1990, the world saw the essential, inevitable failure of Marxism. Keynesian policies are not far behind. Deficit spending, money printing, suppression of interest rates, all efforts to 'prime the pump' during recessions are, at bottom, just loans taken out against future productivity. Eventually you run out of future.

The larger social trend that merits comment is how the alleged anti-science of the Roman Catholic theocracy has been adopted by the secular humanist establishment.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The North American future

From Victor Davis Hanson at National Review:
... We hear about the tough small-business regulations that have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week. But from my unscientific observations these past weeks, it seems rather easy to open a small business in California without any oversight at all, or at least what I might call a “counter business.” I counted eleven mobile hot-kitchen trucks that simply park by the side of the road, spread about some plastic chairs, pull down a tarp canopy, and, presto, become mini-restaurants. There are no “facilities” such as toilets or washrooms. But I do frequently see lard trails on the isolated roads I bike on, where trucks apparently have simply opened their draining tanks and sped on, leaving a slick of cooking fats and oils. Crows and ground squirrels love them; they can be seen from a distance mysteriously occupied in the middle of the road.

At crossroads, peddlers in a counter-California economy sell almost anything. Here is what I noticed at an intersection on the west side last week: shovels, rakes, hoes, gas pumps, lawnmowers, edgers, blowers, jackets, gloves, and caps. The merchandise was all new. I doubt whether in high-tax California sales taxes or income taxes were paid on any of these stop-and-go transactions.

In two supermarkets 50 miles apart, I was the only one in line who did not pay with a social-service plastic card (gone are the days when “food stamps” were embarrassing bulky coupons). But I did not see any relationship between the use of the card and poverty as we once knew it: The electrical appurtenances owned by the user and the car into which the groceries were loaded were indistinguishable from those of the upper middle class.

By that I mean that most consumers drove late-model Camrys, Accords, or Tauruses, had iPhones, Bluetooths, or BlackBerries, and bought everything in the store with public-assistance credit. This seemed a world apart from the trailers I had just ridden by the day before. I don’t editorialize here on the logic or morality of any of this, but I note only that there are vast numbers of people who apparently are not working, are on public food assistance, and enjoy the technological veneer of the middle class. California has a consumer market surely, but often no apparent source of income. Does the $40 million a day supplement to unemployment benefits from Washington explain some of this?

Do diversity concerns, as in lack of diversity, work both ways? Over a hundred-mile stretch, when I stopped in San Joaquin for a bottled water, or drove through Orange Cove, or got gas in Parlier, or went to a corner market in southwestern Selma, my home town, I was the only non-Hispanic — there were no Asians, no blacks, no other whites. We may speak of the richness of “diversity,” but those who cherish that ideal simply have no idea that there are now countless inland communities that have become near-apartheid societies, where Spanish is the first language, the schools are not at all diverse, and the federal and state governments are either the main employers or at least the chief sources of income — whether through emergency rooms, rural health clinics, public schools, or social-service offices. An observer from Mars might conclude that our elites and masses have given up on the ideal of integration and assimilation, perhaps in the wake of the arrival of 11 to 15 million illegal aliens...

Interestingly, this was linked by Christopher Manion at the scrupulously "you can't see borders from space" crowd at lewrockwell.com. Manion asks, "...there are over two billion people in the world who live on less than two dollars a day. How many, I wonder, do we want to invite in?"

Most libertarians argue loud and long that borders are tyranny, nobody owns them, people have a right to travel (actually, they don't), ad nauseum. When reality catches up with their ideal, it appears they don't like what they see.

So, to answer Mr. Manion's question, "Not so many that you have to live with the consequences."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

+Philip wields the hammer:

1. Tells bishops shut up, send money

2. Releases +Mark to the OCA

3. Fires a parish priest

Brief history, +Philip, Metropolitan and head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America, enthusiastically welcomes converts into his jurisdiction and promotes his local Church's autonomy by obtaining the enthronement of diocesan bishops. Turns out converts want the Orthodox Church to be, well, Orthodox and Bishops just might act like Bishops, equals in a conciliar Synod rather than locums who just do the Metropolitan's bidding. Some frantic machinations in Englewood and Damascus and, hey presto, the Bishops are no longer Bishops.

The Antiochians in America are in for a long, painful shake-out but this is not really an Arab vs. convert issue. Many Arab sons and daughters of the Church are appalled by the Metropolitan and his uncouth and heavy-handed manner. Archimandrites in the Patriarchate are beginning to weigh in.

Some choice comments from Mark Stokoe's site:

The truth is that Met. Philip's days are numbered because of his age, and the Toledo Diocese will get a thorough scrubbing once the new metropolitan is in place. Frankly, Met's supporters do not have a candidate who will keep things as they are. Whether you pick Joseph or Basil or Alexander or someone from the old country (don't rule that out), none of them will permit the shenanigans of the Philip era to continue.

So, I recommend that the gloating over Mark continue, because all it does is reenforce to the rest of the Archdiocese how much the Midwest needs a flush out.

A friend told me he thinks Philip will last just long enough to watch the Toledo diocese go back into schism rather than grow with the rest of the Archdiocese. They have been the longest hold-outs to the liturgical renewal in the rest of the Archdiocese. Mark tried to move them forward, but they have resisted with all their might. In the end, Philip will see his greatest accomplishment go up in flames, because he didn't feed them. The rest of the Archdiocese has grown, and they are stuck in the past.
#10 anonymous on 2010-11-01 21:40 (Reply)

In terms of succession planning, we really need to move away from the notion that the current and some future Metropolitan is rightly some kind autocrat ruling a pusillanimous, fearful and subservient synod, clergy, and laity. Rather, in orthodox tradition, the office of Metropolitan is conferred upon the bishop of the first see and he is the honorary chief of a synod of peers. The fact that the AA had evolved from having a single bishop-Metropolitan may create the illusion that autocracy is the norm in our ecclesiology, it is not. The same model applies to the patriarchies and their synods. Neither ought they rightly be autocratic pontiffs.

We need to keep the notion of "first among equals" in our sights. We need to reshape the notion of obedience to include the notion of responsibility. People ought not disconnect their brains and defer all responsibility to some autocrat ruler. The people have the responsibility to live out their faith in their lives and also to discern right from wrong. People do this anyway but usually it's too little, too late. Without consistent practice of such principals, we end up in crisis mode.

If we don't move toward a strong unified continental synod of real bishops whose loyalty is rightly to the people and clergy in North America, then we'll continue to struggle with interference from abroad for too far into the future. We'll continue to struggle with personality-based power plays at home.
#10.1 MWP on 2010-11-02 05:21 (Reply) You are absolutely correct.

The diocese was making progress, but the old guard who wants gambling and belly dancing instead of Vespers, Orthros and Liturgy seem to have gotten their way for the moment.

They need their exalted egos constantly stroked for running the Bingos and Texas Hold'ems

The door is now open to return to the ghetto clubs (I refuse to use the word church in this instance).

Well for those who want to be ORTHODOX there are CHURCH OPTIONS.

For those who want the GHETTO, you can now try to pay the bills on your $3.00 a week.

....
#10.2 anonymous clergyman on 2010-11-02 05:52 (Reply)

When I wrote my comment, I did not know about Fr. Moretti. I think that his treaatment is indicative that this is not an Arab-Convert battle as certain people claim, since the visiting clergy from Syria I've met all wear riassa and hats in public, even here.

When the "Toledo People" say "Arab," they mean a certain kind of not quite American yet not quite Arab. It is an in-between culture which is not part of the Archdiocese's real growth and so is becoming a shrinking minority. The bishops, even Met. Philip for the most part, know this is the case and have shifted their dioceses towards a more Traditional liturgical approach that appeals to converts and new immigrants alike.

I think met. Philip will likely do some symbolic moves to appease the Toledo crowd, then he will go back into his shell and continue to ignore all but his closest friends as before.

Let's not forget that the next metropolitan will get all of Philip's official powers to do with as he pleases, plus the full support of the Synod of Antioch. He will also have a lot of under-employed seminary grads to put in parishes where the old priest forgets who the new boss is.

The Toledo Ghetto will not last. The Holy Synod is aware of what is going on, and they will back the new metropolitan in changing everything. All we need to do is remain faithful and keep breathing.
#10.2.1 anonymous on 2010-11-02 09:03 (Reply)


Let the winnowing begin ...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Update: Mexican anarcho-tyranny

Pirates shoot US man in Mexican waters

Looks like Mexicans take their borders pretty seriously. Why don't we? Mexican cartels are already fighting for territory in San Diego and Phoenix. The tribalist tsunami, now much more prominent than Enoch Powell's "cloud no bigger than a man's hand", is headed our way and naive, idealistic Americans with their credit cards and jet skis do not stand a chance.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fred Reed discovers anarcho-tyranny

And doesn't like what he sees.

If Mexico were not next to the world’s most ravening drug market, it would be a corrupt, but functioning and reasonably successful upper Third-World country. If this were not so, Mexico would not have the huge number of American who have come here to retire. But the country cannot withstand a drug business that, by a common figure, brings the traffickers forty billion dollars a year. The money means that the cartels can buy heavier armament than can the government, as well as buy heavier officials on either side of the border. (It is an American conceit that corruption exists only in other countries. Tell me another story, Grandpa.)

It is getting out of hand. The killing of policemen, judges, and mayors is now common. Journalists die in droves. After the murder of another of its reporters, El Diario, the major paper of Ciudad Juarez, published the following editorial, addressed to the drug lords:

“We bring to your attention that we are communicators, not mind-readers. Therefore, as workers in information, we want you to explain to us what you want of us, what you want us to publish or stop publishing, what we must do for our security.

“These days, you are the de facto authority in the city, because the legally instituted authorities have been able to do nothing to keep our co-workers from continuing to fall, although we have repeatedly asked this of you. Consequently, facing this undeniable fact, we direct ourselves to you, because the last thing we want is that you shoot to death another of our colleagues.”

This is astonishing. It is worse. A blue whale singing Aida would be merely astonishing, but here we have the editors of the major newspaper of a substantial city stating candidly, with perfect clarity, that the narcotraficantes, not the national government, exercise sovereignty over the city. The federal government understandably denounced the editorial. No capital wants to be told that it does not control its territory. But this is exactly what the paper said.


As Fred notes, part of the problem is a criminalized drug market that funnels inflated black market profits to gangs who use the proceeds to out-gun and out-bribe the Mexican government. We all know the libertarian response: de-criminalize drugs, deprive the gangs of their black market profits, and order gets restored. After all, we legalized payday loans and when was the last time you got kneecapped by a loanshark?

I suspect, unfortunately, the problem runs a little deeper. In the first instance, to say the problem is that drug markets are criminalized leaves some questions begging. There are black markets in many things, including marijuana on college campuses, but you don't read about college kids beheading people and dissolving the bodies in lye over marijuana distribution. Thus, a more comprehensive statement of the problem is that drug markets are criminalized so they end up controlled by criminals. The assumption that the traffickers would respond to de-criminilization by trading their AK-47's for laptops and marketing consultants strikes me as awfully optimistic, but maybe not.

I think the problem goes a little deeper, and what we are actually seeing is the visible part of a civil war between Mexico's urban Iberian elites and its rural Meso-American peasantry. This, by the way, is exactly the situation in Afghanistan, where US-funded viceroys pretend to govern the rural, opium-growing tribal areas. Fred, of course, recognizes this and so does former State Department employee Matthew Hoh.

In other words, Mexico = Afghanistan and folks, this one is going to be fought right here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

UN's International Court of Justice declares multiculturalism a spent force

Just kidding. What they actually said was Kosovo was legally entitled to declare its independent and sovereign status from Serbia. The NATO powers and Kosovars are taking the advisory opinion and running with it, practically ready to give this impoverished region that's half the size of New Hampshire a seat on the Security Council.

Now, I'm actually one of those people who thinks one United States is too few--there should be fifty state sovereigns, and for that matter, why not five hundred? Of course, Kosovo is a free-rider, pathetically dependent on foreign aid and third party maintenance of the public order. There are probably American counties more autarchic than this landlocked region of Albanian Muslims.

One wonders why the UN/NATO elites have decided to grab this particular tiger by the tail. Maybe they read Pat Buchanan and have just decided to go with the flow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Addition to the blogroll

Roissy a/k/a Citizen Renegade

I have been reading Roissy for the past two years. He is a PUA who, for the most part, dispenses advice on pumping and dumping women. Beneath the bluster and decadence is a very substantive, traditionalist message. All men, single and married, are well advised to read his posts. Vox Popoli is a fan, and conservative, monogamous 51-year old Steve Sailer links him.

Roissy is one of those people despised in turn by the Left for his reactionary opinions and by the Right for his (purportedly) dissolute lifestyle. Anybody demonized by all sides of the political spectrum is usually worth a listen in my experience.

Game is the equalizer for men seeking female sexual partners in feminist society, and it works whether a man seeks a one night stand or his partner in the marriage sacrament. Game is a tremendous affront to the ruling cultural Marxists who insist, in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, that men and women are fundamentally the same and that human evolution has ceased.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Save the burqas...

pleads Rod Dreher, via Serge.

The ironic part of Dreher's plea for tolerance is that such conundrums were simply not an issue for the Christendom of Dreher's historic Faith. It is only a problem for Christians under the heel of an Atheist State that, as Dreher believes, could turn on a dime on his creed. So it turns out the real problem is a secular globalist government that puts us on the horns of these particular dilemmas. And let's be honest, Dreher's real motivation is not fear of religious persecution, but fear of professional and personal ostracism from criticizing the State's multicultural agenda.

And just how far is Dreher willing to take this? Today the Sikh who enforces in-marriage with physical violence, tommorow our nuns? Today the Congolese animist who sacrifices albinos, tomorrow our nuns?

France is a secular democracy. The dar al-Islam is antithetical to secular democracy. France is trying to force Arab and African Wahabbists and Shi'ites to become citizens of equal standing with native French, because the alternative is Muslim ghettoes which are no-go zones for everybody else.

The Great Gamble of the West is that Muslims will show reciprocal tolerance in those areas where the West allows them to become a market-dominant majority. Perhaps this may work with urbane Syrians (who, by the way, keep a heavy and ruthless hand on Islamic fundamentalists). Otherwise, I'd prefer those who wish to make that gamble do so with their own patrimony.

All of this begs the question why Western governments decided that this particular Great Leap Forward had to be made in the first instance. In inviting Muslims to our shore, we buy into a triangular conflict which we did not have to purchase.

I wonder what the martyred emperor Constantine XI Paleologos thinks of all this? Or perhaps God in His mercy has spared him the knowledge. I think I'll ask Rod.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clean, safe jobs Americans won't do


American Dream Is Elusive for New Generation

GRAFTON, Mass. — After breakfast, his parents left for their jobs, and Scott Nicholson, alone in the house in this comfortable suburb west of Boston, went to his laptop in the living room. He had placed it on a small table that his mother had used for a vase of flowers until her unemployed son found himself reluctantly stuck at home.

The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder...


I stopped reading there and perused the comments. As one person noted, there are plenty of folks named Park, Abdallah, Gomez, etc., who will take that job in their teeth and run with it.

And people like Scott Nicholson will be begging them for a job emptying the trash cans.

What a great idea

Let Treasury Rescue the States
HERE in California, where people tiresomely boast that the state’s gross domestic product exceeds that of all but seven nations, I keep expecting a ballot initiative demanding admission to the Group of 8 industrialized nations. I’d consider voting for it, too; then maybe Washington would work as hard to synchronize its economic policy with Sacramento as it does with Tokyo and Berlin. The lack of coordination within the United States — and, equally important, the failure to recognize the states as macroeconomic players — helps explain our sluggish recovery.

To make matters worse, several states have country-sized G.D.P.’s, but none has the macroeconomic tools of an independent country. Every state except Vermont has some sort of balanced budget requirement that prevents it from weathering a recession by running up big deficits to keep teachers employed, students in college, welfare payments flowing and construction humming. Nor can New York and California stimulate their economies by, say, printing more currency. Instead, states are managing huge budget crises with the only tools they have, cutting spending and raising taxes — both of which undermine the federal stimulus.

That’s why the best booster shot for this recovery and the next would be to allow states to borrow from the Treasury during recessions. We did this for Wall Street and Detroit, fending off disaster. It’s even more important for states.

Here’s how this would work. States already receive regular federal matching grants to help pay for Medicaid, welfare, highway construction programs and more. For instance, the federal government pays a share of state Medicaid costs, from 50 percent to more than 75 percent, depending on a state’s wealth. The matching rates were temporarily sweetened by last year’s stimulus.

But Congress should pass legislation that would allow a state to simply get an “advance” on these future federal dollars expected from entitlement programs. The advance could then be used for regional stimulus, to continue state services and to hasten our recovery.

The Treasury Department, which writes the checks to the states, could be assured of repayment (with interest) by simply cutting the federal matching rate by the needed amount over, say, five years. Of course, when Treasury eventually collected what it was owed, the state would have to cut spending or find new revenue sources. But that would happen after the recession, when both tasks would likely prove easier economically and politically...


How much 'road' do people think is left for us to kick the can down? How many shell games before the debt markets run out of suckers? Absolutely nuts.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bailout, middle America style

Owners Stop Paying Mortgages, and Stop Fretting

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras, foreclosure is becoming a way of life — something they did not want but are in no hurry to get out of.

Foreclosure has allowed them to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.

“Instead of the house dragging us down, it’s become a life raft,” said Mr. Pemberton, who stopped paying the mortgage on their house here last summer. “It’s really been a blessing.”

A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame. They are fashioning a sort of homemade mortgage modification, one that brings their payments all the way down to zero. They use the money they save to get back on their feet or just get by.

This type of modification does not beg for a lender’s permission but is delivered as an ultimatum: Force me out if you can. Any moral qualms are overshadowed by a conviction that the banks created the crisis by snookering homeowners with loans that got them in over their heads.

“I tried to explain my situation to the lender, but they wouldn’t help,” said Mr. Pemberton’s mother, Wendy Pemberton, herself in foreclosure on a small house a few blocks away from her son’s. She stopped paying her mortgage two years ago after a bout with lung cancer. “They’re all crooks.” ...


Eventually these individuals will have to declare bankruptcy and go lick their wounds in an apartment.

...and realize it's not such a bad thing.

...and take comfort in the fact that that's where General Motors, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan/Chase, and their individual directors and officers should be floating belly-up right now.

This is why things will be different from now on: more and more Americans are realizing that cash flow is not necessarily wealth, that debt is slavery, and that they can get by with much, much less.

And it doesn't stop there. The gild is off Wall Street's lily. For the elderly, a stock of canned goods and cheap ammo, not to mention silver coin, is as likely to appreciate as much as the computer entries that say you own 1/1,000,000th of a mutual fund that owns 1/100,000th of Wal-Mart. For the young, they're going to realize the numbers just don't add up over time for the 401k and the exurban house--might as well rent in town and buy metals and CD's. The New Deal's intergenerational social contract is broken: Social Security and Medicare are bust. Even municipal pension funds are up in smoke. Individuals will start withdrawing from the system--immigrants have worked under the table for decades, and they'll be joined by Millenials who have no other choices.

The beast--the money-making machines for the elite--will be starved one way or another, and it's about damn time.

New tag: TANSTAAFL

Soaring costs force Canada to reassess health model
Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada's provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate "incentive fees" to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit -- an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee [the horror-consumers actually paying for their consumption].

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding [gasp!] for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

It's likely just a start as the provinces, responsible for delivering healthcare, cope with the demands of a retiring baby-boom generation. Official figures show that senior citizens will make up 25 percent of the population by 2036.

"There's got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years," said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"We can't continually see health spending growing above and beyond the growth rate in the economy because, at some point, it means crowding out of all the other government services.

"At some stage we're going to hit a breaking point." ...


Undoubtedly, the Canadian government will propose importing more tax fodder who, it is assumed, will (1) never get old and sick themselves, and (2) happily pay for the medical bills of stupid white people.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Glorious multiculturalism

Group Backs Ritual ‘Nick’ as Female Circumcision Option

The group in question being none other than the American Pediatric Association.

In a controversial change to a longstanding policy concerning the practice of female circumcision in some African and Asian cultures, the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls from these cultures if it would keep their families from sending them overseas for the full circumcision.

The academy’s committee on bioethics, in a policy statement last week, said some pediatricians had suggested that current federal law, which “makes criminal any nonmedical procedure performed on the genitals” of a girl in the United States, has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.

“It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm,” the group said.


This reminds me of an old shopworn argument for welfare: if we don't pay these people just to sit around, then they'll mug us! Not, of course, how about you--welfare recipient--worry over testing our limits and being grateful for the fruits of a civilized nation.

In similar fashion, we give Muslim pediatricians the okay to 'nick' an infant girl's genitals because, heaven forbid, these people might leave! What on earth would we possibly do without them? Can anybody even imagine the hell on earth that would be a society without people who want clitorectomies performed on their infant daughters? Has there even existed such a strange, utopian land where the question of what degree we would harm an infant girl's genitals never came up? Where? When?

Some questions it is not even within the mind of man to comprehend ...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to deal with high seas piracy

Freed Somali pirates "probably died" - Russian source
Ten suspected Somali pirates captured by the Russian navy last week may have perished after their release, a defence source in Moscow has told reporters.

Marines seized them during a dramatic operation to free a hijacked Russian oil tanker far from shore, killing an 11th suspect in the gun battle.

They were released in an inflatable boat without navigational equipment.

Within an hour, contact was lost with the boat's radio beacon, the defence source said.

"It seems that they all died," the unnamed source was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency.

Russia initially said the 10 pirates would be taken to Moscow to face criminal charges over the hijacking, but they were released instead because there were not sufficient legal grounds to detain them, the defence ministry in Moscow said.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Russia is a signatory, gives sovereign nations the right to seize and prosecute pirates.

Western officials were very surprised when the Russian authorities dropped plans to put the pirates on trial in Moscow, the BBC's Richard Galpin reports from Moscow.

Now there is even more surprise the pirates were set adrift in the Indian Ocean to make their own way home, he adds.


Surprised? The Russian government acts swiftly and decisively to defend the interests of the Russian people. Only a hyper-lawyered elite who are openly antagonistic to their own nations would be 'surprised.'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greece, and everything else

From Stefan Molyneux at freedomainradio.com, via mises.org.

There are no footnotes to Mr. Molyneux's comments. Corrections welcomed.

Greece has a long and complicated history with democracy, but the future of Greek democracy will be short and brutal.

Largely as a result of 400 years of savage Turkish occupation, Greeks retain an innate distrust of and hostility towards the State – as one Greek said: “We never had the Enlightenment because of the Turks.”

As a result -- and this is no different in America -- political power has only been maintained through outright bribery of special interest groups. Chief among these are the military-industrial complex, born out of military rivalry with Turkey, which costs over €14 billion, or 6% of GDP. Naturally, nearly 80% of the Defense Ministry budget is spent on administrative costs and payments to Army staff.

20%-30% of the entire Greek population works for the government; they cannot be fired, and many are allowed to retire with a pension in their 40s. Tens of thousands of unmarried or divorced daughters of civil servants collect their dead parents’ pensions, and pension outlays are projected to rise to 12% of GDP, over four times the EU average. Some civil servants receive bonuses for using a computer, speaking a foreign language and even arriving to work on time - and all workers get 14 monthly salaries a year, the result of a plan to keep monthly wages -- and so future pensions – low.

Two weeks extra salary is paid out at Easter, and also during the summer -- the 14th salary is paid to government workers at Christmas. Until 2008, the government owned Olympic Airways, whose employees and their families were allowed to fly around the world for “free.” It was only able to sell the money pit after lavishly paying or rehiring almost 5,000 employees. Overall, the Greek government owns 74 companies, mainly utilities and transport firms, most of which are overstaffed and bleeding money. The state rail company warehouses over 9,000 people and reported 2008 losses of 800 million Euros.

Nebulous and pointless committees infest government payrolls -- one committee is supposed to manage Lake Kopais, which actually dried out in the 1930s.

Greece was able to gain entry to the European Union by cooking its books and hiding debt through swap agreements, with the help of US financial services firms. Greece then continued to fake its budget numbers until 2008, when it ran out of money, and revealed that its deficit was four times larger than reported – 14% of GDP. It is important to note that this GDP measure is completely misleading, since the government does not have access to the entire GDP – it's like planning to pay down your debts by using your pre-tax income and ignoring your interest payments. The Greek public sector consumes about 40% of GDP, which represent a cost to the state, not an income, while taxation rarely rises above 50% – so at best only 10% of the GDP is available to address the debt, which basically means that debt levels are in reality 10 times the numbers commonly reported.

Like all doomed governments, Greece imagines that it can “grow itself” out of its fiscal crisis, referring to the fantasy that the Greek economy grew by almost 4% per year between 2003 and 2007. However, even if these numbers are true - and the source is not at all credible – this was due largely to massive infrastructure spending for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and consumer borrowing as a result of easy credit -- even before this crisis, Greece was a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of GDP. If past growth was an illusion, future growth is an impossibility.

What about increasing government income? There is little room to raise taxes; the top income tax rate is already 40%, and the sales tax is 21%. In addition, 44% of salary is taxed for Social Security, with employees paying 16%, and employers paying 28%. These ridiculous tax rates, combined with a historical mistrust of government, have created an enormous black market and a culture of tax evasion. In one wealthy Athenian neighborhood, 324 residents admitted on their tax forms that they owned pools, while satellite photos revealed almost 17,000 pools. More than half of the doctors in a trendy neighbourhood claimed incomes of less than $40,000, while a quarter claimed less than $13,000, and so were tax exempt.

It is an axiom of statism that compulsion and control must always expand, and the current bailout of Greece is an inevitable result of the long-term subsidization that has already occurred. S&P has already downgraded four Greek banks to junk status. Euro zone banks are holding about 75 billion Euros of Greek bonds (about $97.5 billion). French and German banks are holding about 34 and 20 billion Euros respectively, so a noticeable amount of their capital is at risk. A retreat of investors from the debt of Greece, Spain, and Portugal could lead to high interest rates, declining investment, and slow economic growth in Europe. This will affect countries, including the U.S., that export to Europe.

Greece’s dismal economic performance has in part occurred because it is already being bailed out by the EU, and has been for the past 11 years -- first because Greek bonds are priced relative to the economic strength of the EU as a whole, rather than its own basket-case economy, and second because the European Central Bank accepts Greek government bonds as collateral. European banks that buy Greek government bonds (paying higher interest than German bonds, because of the additional risk) use these Greek bonds to obtain a loan from the European Central Bank at 1% interest.

Without a doubt, and with no possible alternatives, the EU is doomed, and Greece is just the start of the avalanche. Since wages and social benefits constitute 75% of total (non-interest) public spending, the Greek government will attempt to stave off the inevitable by targeting public wages and pension bills. Daniel Gros, an eminent EU economist, argues that for each 1% of GDP decline in Greek government spending, total demand in the country collapses by 2.5%. If the government reduces spending by 15% of GDP — the initial shock to demand could be well over 30% of GDP. These sorts of transitions from public to private employment can work in a low tax, low regulation environment -- think of the millions of soldiers returning from the Second World War -- but the Greek economy is crippled by suffocating state controls and crushing taxation.

Firing government workers provokes violent, expensive and destructive conflicts, raises short-term costs for severance packages and legal battles, and the resulting unemployment destroys income tax receipts, and raises welfare and retraining costs.

What is rarely mentioned is the basic economic reality that every EU nation is currently running enormous deficits, carries catastrophic debt levels, and so has no actual money to give to Greece. Germany remains the strongest European economy, but German voters, already weary from decades of bailing out Eastern Germany, will find themselves hard pressed to muster the motivation to cut back on bratwurst in order to pay for the sundrenched retirements of Greek public servants. England is beyond useless, since its own budget deficit is poised to surpass Greece’s as the worst in the European Union.

The entire European Economic Union is a house of cards, with governments all loaning money to each other in order to hide their true deficits from potential bond purchasers. Bailing out Greece with imaginary fiat currency is not a solution to a problem, but only a brief respite, designed so that those at the top of the political class can finish their looting before escaping the collapse.


This is not rocket science. Debt to get out of debt is just kicking the can down the road. Does anybody seriously believe the Greeks are going to scrimp and save and work to pay more taxes? This is not a bailout of Greece; it is a bailout of Greece's creditors. The Greek people have no stake in this bailout.

The US is fundamentally no better off. School boards, municipalities, and states are billions in debt. At the top of the heap, the Fed is flat out monetizing debt and even then, month after month, the Treasury is stuck with billions in unsold tenders.

There is simply too much sovereign debt for the markets to soak up at the current rate of interest. So ...

1) interest rates must be allowed to rise in order to attract bidders, or

2) the world's central banks must inflate to absorb the debt at below-market prices.

Option 1 means a classic bust (another one), as credit is choked off and the economy heads down a deflationary spiral. Option 2 means ruinous inflation and large sectors of the economy going underground to escape confiscatory taxation and a depreciating dollar.

Either way, this sucker is going down.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dirty, dangerous jobs Americans won't do

We are frequently told that we need millions of immigrants because Americans won't do dirty, dangerous work. Has anybody who ever wrote this phrase done any research to confirm its accuracy?

Oil rig explodes off the Louisiana coast.

Seattle-based fishing vessel goes down in the Bering Sea.

West Virginia coal miners discuss their profession.

Perhaps the trope should be changed to "dirty, dangerous jobs effete journalists won't do." Then we could just tally up the number of effete journalists and make that our annual immigration quota.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Grand Old Plutocrats

The Republicans ride to the defense of Goldman Sachs, via Vox Popoli.

In a just world, Goldman Sachs would be floating belly-up in bankruptcy court.

Actually, in a just world, Goldman Sachs' facilities would be razed to the ground and its principals thrown into the street as their houses are pillaged, in front of their weeping families and mistresses.

Pat Buchanan is impolite

Mr. Buchanan lays out an uncomfortable hypothesis in his column today.

New Tribe Rising?
“Is white the new black?”

So asks Kelefa Sanneh in the subtitle of Beyond the Pale, his New Yorker review of several books on white America, wherein he concludes we may be witnessing “the slow birth of a people.”

Sanneh is onto something. For after a year of battering as “un-American,” “evil-doers” and racists, and praise from talk-show hosts and Sarah Palin as “the real Americans,” Tea Party America seems to be taking on a new and separate identity.

Ethnonationalism—the recognition of an embryonic people that they are different from their neighbors, and the concomitant drive to live apart—is, as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote 20 years ago, a more powerful force than any ideology, be it communism, fascism or democracy.

Ethnonationalism is the preeminent force of the age we have entered, the creator and destroyer of empires and nations. Even as Schlesinger was writing his “Disuniting of America,” Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union were disintegrating into 22 new nations, along the lines of ethnicity. In Dagestan, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Ossetia and Abkhazia, the process proceeds apace.

It has happened before—and here.

In the American colonies, the evil institution of slavery, followed by a century of segregation, created out of the children of captured Africans who had little in common other than color a new people, the African-Americans, who went out and voted 24-to-one for Barack Obama.

In 1754, the 13 colonies consisted of South Carolinians, New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Virginians, all loyal subjects of the king.

But after the contemptuous treatment of colonial soldiers in the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, the Townshend duties, the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, the Quartering Act and the Quebec Act, by 1775 a new people had been born: the Americans.

“While Tea Partiers are anti-Obama, they are also anti-Pelosi, anti-Martha Coakley and anti-Charlie Christ. The coming conflict is not so much racial as it is cultural, political and tribal.”

In 1770, New York colonists had erected a statue of George III in Bowling Green in grateful tribute for his repeal of the Townshend taxes. In July 1776, they pulled it down and melted it for lead bullets after Washington read his soldiers the Declaration of Independence portraying George III as another Ivan the Terrible.

“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” said Golda Meir. When she said it, she may have been right. But as generations have grown up under the occupation and two intifadas and a Gaza War, the Palestinians are a people today.

Adversity and abuse increase the awareness of separate identity and accelerate the secession of peoples from each other...[Continued at link]


The Left, with its refrain of collective white guilt may yet see some unintended consequences of their agenda. As Buchanan implies, 'white American' is not a distinctive ethnicity. But so far as I know, when it comes to affirmative action and Title VII no distinctions are being drawn for the Irish, Greeks, Italians, Slavs and others who have come to the US, prospered and assimilated (the polite term for ethnic out-marriage). Canada further subdivides its citizens with the epithet of visible minority. All of this is to say that, if there wasn't a logically coherent and distinct group known as 'white America' before, there will be shortly.

When one ethnic group insists that another ethnic group owes them for ancestral grievances, then doubtless some or most members of the target group will object, and conclude that, as individuals, they don't stand a chance against the collective assault. A predictable response is for them to embrace a group interest against the forcible transfer of their wealth.

These are the awful social forces that are unleashed when the government dabbles in social engineering and redistributive justice. A society with a 'night watchman' government, that is, a government limited solely to the protection of property rights, would not have these kinds of problems. People would intermingle or not as they wished. The democratic State's heavy handed regulations take away the safe harbors that make a multicultural society possible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Endgame

Via Ad Orientem

Interest Rates Have Nowhere To Go But Up
... Last week, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note briefly crossed the psychologically important threshold of 4 percent, as the Treasury auctioned off $82 billion in new debt. That is nearly twice as much as the government paid in the fall of 2008, when investors sought out ultrasafe assets like Treasury securities after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the beginning of the credit crisis.

Though still very low by historical standards, the rise of bond yields since then is reversing a decline that began in 1981, when 10-year note yields reached nearly 16 percent.

From that peak, steadily dropping interest rates have fed a three-decade lending boom, during which American consumers borrowed more and more but managed to hold down the portion of their income devoted to paying off loans.

Indeed, total household debt is now nine times what it was in 1981 — rising twice as fast as disposable income over the same period — yet the portion of disposable income that goes toward covering that debt has budged only slightly, increasing to 12.6 percent from 10.7 percent.

Household debt has been dropping for the last two years as recession-battered consumers cut back on borrowing, but at $13.5 trillion, it still exceeds disposable income by $2.5 trillion ...

As interest rates rise, the economic activity enabled by artificially cheap credit ceases. The central bank's 'boom' is inevitably followed by the 'bust.' Malinvestments are liquidated, asset prices fall to realistic levels, and prices again reflect supply and demand rather than the false signals of the Fed's and the Treasury's monetary games. This is bitter medicine we have avoided for a long time, so the correction will be that much more difficult. Americans are still in way too much debt, and the exotic vacations, McMansions, and SUV's must go. But anecdotally, I see a lot of over-extended people still in firm denial of reality.

So, with ever more debt sloshing around the market, we can no longer deny economic reality and interest rates must go up. Bernanke is out of tricks and the correction will happen, and there is nothing that the Fed's Ivy League economists in their marble palaces can do about it.

Incidentally, alot of that high-powered money injected in the waning days of the Bush administration went into sovereign and municipal debt. That is the next bubble in line to be burst. (Again, HT to Ad Orientem).

There are now so many false signals and externalities built into the US financial sector that it is impossible to determine what any asset's 'real' value is. People are still grimly shoveling money into their 401k's and hoping the fund managers in their tailored suits and German cars will shepherd all those billions in OPM as prudentially as they would their own. (Right? Right?). For myself it's humble gold and silver coin, and I really couldn't care less about all the 'sure things,' or 'next big things' touted by anybody's brother-in-law's cousin's friend, much less the biz school grad twenty years my junior at the Fidelity branch. Americans are about to get disabused of the notion that they can get rich owning itty-bitty bits of gigantic funds that own percentages of derivatives of securities issued by multi-national corporations. Who are all those Late and Early Boomers going to sell those 401k shares to, each other? What's the real rate of return going to be on that money after inflation and the deferred taxation on fund withdrawals?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

If England Had Remained Catholic

Public veneration, processions, true feast days, and all the rest.

... Piety is here taken as both negative and primitive, but in Catholic cultures it has an earthy wisdom to it, as Lady Antonia Fraser, the historian and biographer of several of the key Reformation figures, explained to me: "I put my mind back to what I loved about the Catholic Church as a 14-year-old convert, and in fact it's what I still love about it more than 60 years later: it was the religious use of the seasons, the acknowledgement and celebration of the seasons of the year via the feasts of the Church including the penitential seasons. So I still date my letters with such things as ‘22 November, Feast of St Cecilia', which of course celebrates music, to say nothing of Candlemas, just past, which was originally the feast of the lambs, transformed by the Church. So in a Catholic England we would still have all this holy roistering."

But perhaps conjuring up a picture of a still-Catholic England doesn't only have to be a labour of imagination or the result of a trip to out-of-the-way places such as Walsingham. Last year a reliquary containing the bones of the 19th-century Catholic saint, Thérèse of Lisieux, came to these shores. Public veneration of relics, while still commonplace in Catholic Europe, hasn't been seen on any scale in Britain for 500 years. Yet more than 300,000 people queued up to stand in front of the elaborate wooden box (some of Thérèse's bones are on view in Lisieux, but the reliquary was sealed) and many were visibly moved by the experience.

That visceral dimension to Catholic culture was also on display at the National Gallery in London at the start of the year in The Sacred Made Real, an exhibition of extreme Spanish religious art. It is hard to imagine it even being staged 20 years ago, but numbers attending the show exceeded all expectations. A British taste for the trappings of Catholicism that has lain dormant for five centuries may just be reawakening.

The same point, of course, was made in 1997 following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when public grief was unrestrained. In its aftermath, the hard shoulders of British highways now boast plenty of the sort of roadside monuments to those killed in car accidents that have long been a feature of Italian autostradas and Spanish mountain passes. Like Walsingham, they could be seen as prompts to reconsider one of the great "what ifs" of our history.

The Anglophile world truly cries out for the orthodox and catholic Faith.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obamacare

In typically American fashion, we will be getting the worst of public and private medicine. The progressives are not getting their cherished socialized health care; they are getting socialized health insurance. There is nothing for any principled person of whatever ideological persuasion to support in our government's latest Great Leap Forward.

Bill Sardi at LewRockwell.com puts 'health insurance' (there's actually no such thing) in perspective.

1. All health insurance plans promote irresponsibility. People just run to the doctor and believe their doctor is responsible for keeping them healthy, not themselves.

2. Health insurance is a ponzi scheme, with the young and healthy paying for the old and chronically ill and those with poor health habits, though I should add that smokers actually cost insurance plans less money over the long haul since they die sooner.

3. With a large pool of money available, the insurance pot gets raided and doctors and hospitals overcharge since there is no market control. There is nothing the plan won't pay for, no matter how expensive, because the desperate public will demand it. You learn your mother has breast cancer. You will stop at nothing to see she gets the most advanced care, and the more her disease progresses, the more you will demand something be done, even unproven treatment.

4. High-tech care caused Americans to falsely believe their healthcare system is the best in the world, and they want more of it. Fancy imaging technology (cat scans, MRIs), unproven but less invasive particle beam radiation treatment, robotic surgery – all are in huge public demand. A Rand Corporation study showed high-technology is the main driver in the high cost of health care.

We are living a fantasy to believe American government can provide all the high-tech medical care that is available (example: latest New York Times article suggests $5000 disease gene testing for all).

5. About 85% of Americans have health insurance. To provide insurance to the remaining population, largely illegal immigrants, places financial and manpower strains on the delivery of health care that the industry is not prepared for. It was Winston Churchill who said: "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery."

6. Because other countries provide universal health insurance is only to say the bills are paid. This represents provision (welfare) for doctors and hospitals. The system rewards treatment, not cure. Modern medicine has substituted markers of poor health, such as cholesterol, PSA, blood pressure, rather than true end points, such as survival or being drug free.

While many Americans envy countries that offer universal health care, most universal health care plans will soon fail. The National Health Service in Britain is about to implode.

The day is fast coming when health insurance schemes collapse and self care becomes the order of the day. But many Americans aren’t ready for this.

Certainly many Americans are angry at the passage of Obamacare. But a man I met at a Postal Annex store said he needed the insurance coverage and welcomed it, as he has problems with his joints and diabetes. He wanted the medicines that only the insured can afford.

However, Obamacare, or even the pre-existing healthcare system, would not make him any healthier. But this man, along with many other Americans, has no perception of this.

Drugs will be prescribed for him that calm symptoms but never restore health and in fact may create new diseases. Some drugs cause the very disease they are intended to treat.

Obamacare pays more doctor and hospital bills, but it will also increase utilization and overall costs and it burdens the economy with higher health insurance premiums. AT&T reports Obamacare will cost them an extra $1 billion a year. For the 85% of Americans who were already covered by health insurance, Obamacare is a step down in availability of care. But recognize, the system is collapsing and unaffordable regardless of the insurance scheme in place.


Continued at link.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hipster libertarianism

In a recent essay, occasional LRC columnist C.J. Maloney praises the AK-47 as the Automatic For The People. Yeah, baby!
So next May Day, assuming you remember it at all, take a moment to honor the memory of the millions slaughtered over the lethally stupid idea of communism, but give a nod to God’s great mercy, to His mysterious way that willed that very same idea to birth the AK-47. It gave to the working masses the ability to defend themselves from the more virulent strain of politicians; it is the sword of the common man. Of all the firearms yet dreamed up by mankind, it is the automatic for the people.


But don't go calling Homeland Security, folks. This denizen of New York City, the most highly taxed, highly regulated municipality in the country assures us today that Americans are way too feeble and stupefied to engage in armed rebellion.

Today, give me liberty or give me death no longer rings true, the typical American is content to put up with any outrage because he’s so ideologically stripped as to no longer have any idea he should be outraged. Harboring a completely materialistic view of politics that equates material comfort with freedom, he’ll bear any assault on liberty with timid submission so long as the hi-def cable stays on. The intellectuals fare no better in this regard, as they are the very ones who spread the ideas that made hi-def cable more important to us than trial by jury.

In the event of rebellion, the American people would lack any leadership with the ability, or even the urge, to guide them back to liberty. Even if the occasional outrage morphs into a tea party, the vast majority of Americans, lead by the intellectuals, take most assaults with quiet approval, and for now I thank God for it. To go to war is something even the most ignorant savage does with relish; but to start a revolution requires the ability for calm, rational thought and a manly courage to risk it all that does not currently exist in this country. Where once our forefathers shot at government troops marching through the Massachusetts countryside towards Lexington and Concord, today we are a frightened little flock that goes to pieces at the thought of Goldman Sachs suffering a well-deserved bankruptcy. 2010 America does not possess what successful revolutions are made of.


Now, you would think this ball-busting, revolutionary giant of a man would go on to describe what short work he would make of the government. But not to fear, for Maloney pulls himself back from the brink:

So, thank you all who sent me a kind invitation to share a mess kit and a fight, but when you Thomas Jefferson wannabes grab your AK-47s, pull on your surplus camouflage uniforms, and go rushing off into the mountains please count me out and don’t wait up. I’ll be watching the slaughter from afar, Barcelona perhaps, Amsterdam more likely, and doubtless I’ll wish good luck and God speed to you all.

As of right now this country is simply not prepared for secession, civic disobedience, or rebellion; and under the current regime they all would be considered the same in the eyes of the ruling elite. Any move in that direction would be setting you up for a hopeless task; to free a people that neither wish for liberty or could handle it if won.

Read the op-ed pages and editorials of any newspaper, glance at the comments section to any Internet news site, and listen to the interviewed "man on the street," read our intellectuals’ monthly journals and agree; modern America is too uncivilized and savage for freedom.

If you wish for a change back to liberty, forget your rifle – grab your pen.


Apparently the plan now is to give the bureaucrats the mother of all ink stains. This is the sort of stuff that convinces me most libertarians are useless as agents of change. For the most part, they are cossetted individuals far more concerned with maintaining their hipster lifestyle than the dirty work of abolishing the State. And when I say 'dirty work,' I mean shouldering a firearm and presenting as credible a threat to parasitic government as it presents to us.

Now, I should acknowledge that many of us like Maloney and other Gothamites not privy to fully vested trust funds would take quite a hit if one day the people decide that they Have Had Enough. I don't see lawyers such as myself, for example, having much marketability in organic society. Fortunately for him, as Maloney himself tells us, he will have long since turned tail and run to high-tax, high-regulation, high-subsidized, politically-correct Amsterdam or Barcelona. Solidarnosc, brother.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to run an NFL team

Falcons welcome Robinson, ship Houston to Lions
... "This is something I've always dreamed about growing up in Athens, Ga.," Robinson said. "This was the first professional team that I wanted to play for. I'm home. This is where I need to be. Here is where I'm most comfortable."

Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith (FSY) courted Turner in similar fashion before he signed a six-year, $34.5 million deal with $15 million guaranteed in early March 2009.

"We want to create an environment where a player really wants to be here, not because of the contract, but because ... of our culture, our coaching staff and the resources we make available," Blank said. "It's a credit to our organization that whom we would argue was the top cornerback available this year in free agency made only one stop."


Several years ago, I heard a Falcons player interviewed on local sports-talk. The hosts were asking in goggle-eyed, frat-boy amazement why he had a home way out in the suburbs instead of in town with the clubs, the scene, a posse, etc. His response was he didn't need the temptation because, "Mr. Blank doesn't put up with it."

Rebuke from Fr. Touma

From Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar) on Nationalism and Orthodoxy

... Likewise it shames us that the Church in America becomes a group of branches for the national churches in the Old World. The national Orthodox churches have become in some American cities something closer to ecclesial or even political embassies for their mother churches or for the countries that they are in! Do you not see that it is not true Orthodoxy that gathers us together in America, but rather egoistic nationalisms within pagan tribes?! We understand that in some churches services are held in national languages for recent immigrants, but what about those who have been in America for fifty or more years?! Do we not see that hearts are not united and hands are not joined together in the service of God and that goals are not coordinated in order to witness to Orthodoxy and that no one pays attention to proper Orthodox churchliness? Every man for himself! Do we not see the churches being exploited for tribal or political or economic ends?! Why is there one church for the Antiochians (that is, Lebanese and Syrians and Palestinians), and another for the Greeks and another for the Russians and another for the Romanians, all only a few minutes away from each other?! Why can we not join together in worship and love and frequent teaching, since we are all within one Orthodoxy and one earth and one language?! Why can we not cooperate to preach Orthodoxy within a milieu that is hungry for it?! Why this fragmentation? Why this distance between hearts?! Is it too much to ask for Orthodoxy to be our sole umbrella, rather than nationalisms and tribalisms?! Vain, ingrained nationalisms in the American churches are not from God—they are against God! They are the causes of schism and weakness and despair and scandal for the Church of Christ, especially for the youth, the newly-illumined, and those being guided to Orthodoxy! Nationalisms, in all their forms, must be combated in every possible way in America so that the Church remains the bride of Christ alone! Orthodoxy of Spirit and Truth never aligns itself with nationalism! Either we lead every thought towards obedience to Christ or Orthodox nationalisms will entrench the worldly church in this world and we will cease to exist as a Universal Church!


The forces in American Orthodoxy are increasingly centrifugal, a horrible witness, and in the face of a crumbling Protestantism. Truly, "the laborers are few."

This Lebanese abbot has spoken on the American situation before, and on the Antiochian archdiocese in particular. It would be interesting if he succeeded to the Patriarchate, if God wills it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Like this guy:

The academic at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ affair, whose raw data is crucial to the theory of climate change, has admitted that he has trouble ‘keeping track’ of the information.

Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the relevant papers.

Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.

The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.

Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.

And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.


The UK Daily Mail, via LewRockwell.com

Government Motors

U.S. Safety agency seeks documents on Toyota recalls
The document request, which is considered rare for NHTSA, could lead to a civil fine of up to $16.4 million if Toyota is found to have violated regulations. The last major fine of an automaker involved General Motors paying a $1 million penalty in a windshield wiper recall in 2004, according to government safety regulators.

Next week, Toyota and NHTSA officials are expected to go before congressional leaders for hearings on the recalls. Some lawmakers have questioned how quickly Toyota and safety regulators reacted to problems in vehicles and allegations that 34 deaths occurred in connection with Toyota sudden-acceleration problems.


Unmentioned by the Washington Post is the fact that the U.S. government is a GM shareholder and direct competitor with Toyota, and will use such methods to hamstring competitors as are at its disposal.

The auto industry has seen its share of "sudden acceleration" claims. The incidents often result from operator error. The Toyotas may have an actual mechanical flaw, but I haven't seen any reporting on what the defect actually is.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

David Stockman comes in from the cold

Great stuff from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.

How Politics Caused Fiscal Disaster, from minyanville.com.

My proposition today is that we’re in a fiscal calamity caused by the further, and perhaps, final triumph of politics. Admittedly, I issued this very same forecast awhile back -- 23 years ago to be exact. But I’m not reluctant to try again. Having read Grant’s continuously since 1988, I’ve learned there’s no shame whatsoever in being early -- even often!

The Triumph of Politics was published early, mainly in the unflattering sense that I’d not completed my homework. I was hip to statist fiscal and regulatory evils, but had only dimly grasped the Austrian masters’ wisdom on money; that is, in printing money backed by nothing, central banks inherently threaten prosperity. So today I’ll add the proposition that fiscal decay is the inevitable step-child of the very monetary rot that the Austrians -- Mises, Hayek, Rothbard -- so deplored.

...

The “panic of 2008," therefore, wasn't a random policy error, nor was it caused by the machinations of overly-bonused bankers. In fact, the massive quantities of unsupportable debt and the vast malinvestments in housing, banking, shopping malls, office buildings, and Pilates studios, too, which came crashing down last September, were rooted in history’s other star-crossed rail car. That was the gilded club car which in November 1910, had secretly whisked away Senator Nelson Aldrich and his coterie of Morgan, Rockefeller and Kuhn Loeb bankers to a duck-hunting blind on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

The truth is, the monster that was hatched there -- the Federal Reserve System -- has always been an instrument of politics; that is, the politics of the speculative classes, whether domiciled on Wall Street, Main Street, or the Agrarian plains. Let the political chatter get fevered enough about unfairly “low” prices for goods, grains, or labor and there's invariably been a new theory and willing maestro at the Fed to print-up some easy credit.My thesis today is that monetary rot underpins fiscal decay, but that’s not to gainsay the complicity of Capitol Hill and the White House in the march to budgetary ruin -- particularly the complicity of the type of Republican Whiggery which emerged after the 2000 election.

The truth is, just as the Great East Asian Deflation called for monetary hardening, not ease, it also warranted a large increase in national savings -- including public sector surpluses. But by then there had been assembled in Karl Rove’s political assault camp, a coalition of the neo-cons, the social-cons, the tax-cons and the just-cons. None of them gave two hoots about real fiscal discipline.

The neo-cons postured as big-time thinkers, articulating a lofty policy case for an American Imperium. But unlike real imperialists, the neo-cons had nothing to say about the crucial issue of war finance.

Indeed, since DOD couldn’t seem to keep a pipeline open in the planet’s second richest oil province, the neo-cons couldn't even fallback on the imperialist’s traditional gambit of looting the colonies. Obviously, the real answer was a war tax -- especially since the war at issue was an elective. But that idea was anathema in Karl Rove’s assault camp, so the neo-cons simply ignored the fiscal consequence of the multi-hundred billion annual drain on the treasury their policies entailed. War finance, it seems, was relegated to the GOP’s all-purpose folklore -- the myth that lower taxes and more growth would cover any fiscal hole.

The tax cons, for their part, did not even think about fiscal policy; they issued Papal Edicts. Consequently, a kernel of truth -- the notion that lower marginal tax rates are economically beneficial -- became ensnared in a body of debatable doctrine, even outright claptrap.

Foremost among the latter is the alleged absence of a correlation between deficits and either interest rates or real growth. Fine. If that’s the test, let’s abolish taxes completely and put the Federal government on a regimen of 100% bond finance.

Likewise, the tax-cons have shamelessly misapplied evidence that a lower capital gains rate did generate higher revenue. True, these cuts sped the realization of gains already extant, but that has nothing to do with the revenue impact from lowering or raising rates on 95% of what we actually tax; that is, accrued payrolls and earned income.

Not technical quibbles, these points highlight the folly of elevating tax-cutting to the status of religious writ. Indeed, unwilling to cut spending by so much as a single veto in eight years, the Bush Administration needed to get revenue raising on the table as a matter of pure math. But the tax-cons, having totally befuddled what passes for GOP fiscal thinking, were able to drive the herd in just the opposite direction, slashing Federal revenues twice more during the Bush fiscal debauch. The profound financial danger, therefore, is that there's no longer in the United States a conservative fiscal opposition even worthy of the name.

Moreover, this fiscally perilous condition continues to be exacerbated by the tattered remnants of Karl Rove’s political assault camp. The social-cons, relentless as ever in their bible-thumping and immigrant-bashing, help to elect real socialists, as often as not. And the just-cons continue to turn fiscal responsibility into a bad joke. Last election, 85% of the American people were against the abomination called TARP. But on that central issue, the Republican standard bearer went radio silent while chattering endlessly about appropriations earmarks. But taken together, those 8,000 earmarks add-up to just 15 hours of annual Federal spending. The needless bailout of Wall Street engineered by Bubbles and the Henry "Hammer" Paulson, by contrast, destroyed forever any residual will to control spending that remained on Capitol Hill.


So basically, this thing won't end until it ends. The US government's bonds continue to be sold at an artificial discount, as the Fed outright monetizes the debt and shell-shocked banks loan to the federal government rather than the private sector. Eventually, the twin trade and fiscal deficits will be unsustainable at current rates of interest. The economic activity (such as it is) from the bailout and stimulus will be liquidated in its turn, and Bernanke's bag of tricks will be empty.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Has feminism run its course?

From the Weekly Standard, via iSteve.

The whole point of the sexual and feminist revolutions was to obliterate the sexual double standard that supposedly stood in the way of ultimate female freedom. The twin revolutions obliterated much more, but the double standard has reemerged in a harsher, crueler form: wreaking havoc on beta men and on beta women, too, who, as the declining marriage rate indicates, have trouble finding and securing long-term mates in a supply-saturated short-term sexual marketplace. Gorgeous alpha women fare fine—for a few years until the younger competition comes of age. But no woman, alpha or beta, seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives (the Darwinist explanation is that those traits are predictors of marital fidelity, assuring men that the offspring that their spouses bear are theirs, too). And every aspect of New Paleolithic mating culture discourages the sexual restraint once imposed on both sexes that constituted a firm foundation for both family life and civilization.


In mandating equality of outcome for women with respect to men, the welfare state and Title VII eliminate the socio-economic justification for marriage, which is really just a social contract to ensure that men take care of children and the women by whom they sire them. Without the specter of destitution, women can indulge their sexual impulses--female prudery is a myth, by the way--in hopes of eventually landing the Big One, as in the pathetically fanciful Pretty Woman. (The male equivalent, also starring Julia Roberts, is Notting Hill.) Of course, as the author of this essay notes, there are only so many alpha males and females to go around. The end result is a race to the bottom for women seeking to outbid each other for the affections of alpha men.

The strict 'alpha-beta' dichotomy is a little too crude for what is really a complex hierarchy. Generally speaking, all but the most dysfunctional men can become proud and independent at some level, and will pragmatically settle on somebody, and can draw on millenia of collective experience in doing so. Women, by contrast, are very new to this game.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Of course he couldn't ...

... keep his twitchy, social-engineering fingers off the military, that is.

Christopher Roach blogs about Obama's repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
The new policy will allow open service by gays. This will be a big change, but, more important, this will usher in a whole host of related and very negative changes. Judging by the umpteenth sexual harassment seminar our forces endure on a biweekly basis, open service will probably lead to demands for changing the military’s “homophobic” culture through indoctrination of one kind or another. Those uncomfortable will leave. They will be ostracized and eventually punished for the very cultural conservatism that leads them to join the military. Those who remain will be those who lack the courage of their convictions, if they have any convictions at all.

I love the phrase coined by Lew Rockwell (a socially conservative anarchist): 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will become a policy of 'Never Shut Up.'

Mr. Roach is entirely correct. The social conservatives who make up the bulk of troops doing the actual fighting will stop enlisting. Why risk life and limb for an elite who despise your values?

Who will defend the Empire now? It's going to be affirmative action generals, female helicopter pilots, and aesthetic-obsessed gays versus the young, straight men who will join sheriff's departments, splinter groups, or do their four years and go the merc route. In any fight, my money's on the latter group.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Invite the world, invade the world

A brief reflection from Steve Sailer on Yemen.

Government solutions are guaranteed to be uneconomic. The private sector equivalent would be the consultant who negotiates a retainer of $5,000 a month until the problem is solved. More to the point, the US government intervenes in the disputes of foreign tribes, invites the protagonists from both sides here, and 'solves' the resulting conflict by erecting a vast, welfare-warfare apparatus which perpetuates what it was intended to address.

Americans also need to acquire some perspective on terrorism. In the first place, terrorism is a comparative drop in the bucket of pathologies inflicting harm on US society. Terrorists are criminals, not the Mongol horde (for the time being). In the second place, if we are going to be an empire then terrorism is a cost of doing business--don't like it, don't practice empire.

Speaking of empire, it occurs to me that the elites' Open Society is just window dressing for domestic imperialism. Previously, the elites sallied forth to exploit the labor and resources of Third Worlders in their homelands. Now, with the elites' homegrown welfare/funny money schemes running short on tax fodder, they just import Third Worlders here.