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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

If this works, I'm becoming a social democrat

...and bring on the cradle-to-grave welfare.

Fed to buy 90% of new bonds
Even as U.S. government debt swells to more than $16 trillion, Treasuries and other dollar fixed- income securities will be in short supply next year as the Federal Reserve soaks up almost all the net new bonds.
The government will reduce net sales by $250 billion from the $1.2 trillion of bills, notes and bonds issued in fiscal 2012 ended Sept. 30, a survey of 18 primary dealers found. At the same time, the Fed, in its efforts to boost growth, will add about $45 billion of Treasuries a month to the $40 billion in mortgage debt it’s purchasing, effectively absorbing about 90 percent of net new dollar-denominated fixed-income assets, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Even after U.S. public borrowings outstanding grew from less than $9 trillion in 2007 as the U.S. raised cash to pay for spending programs designed to pull the economy out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, rising demand coupled with a drop in net supply means bonds will be scarce.

“The shrinking amount of bonds in the market is lowering rates and not just benefiting the Treasury, but providing lower rates for private-sector decision-makers as well,” Zach Pandl, a senior interest-rate strategist in Minneapolis at Columbia Management Investment Advisers LLC, which oversees $340 billion, said in a Nov. 30 telephone interview. “The Fed is not creating this scarcity to help out the Treasury, it’s primarily to get the economy going.”

If this doesn't work, it's another Minsky moment, or crack-up boom.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Church and State

Modestinus comments on the Papacy (via A Conservative Blog for Peace).

Since I could delay this forever, I suppose I should start to deliver on my promise to write some reviews of the 2011 Angelus Press Conference on the Papacy by offering some very general remarks on Professor John Rao’s opening lecture, “The Catholic Church as Heir of the Roman Empire.” Please keep in mind these comments are very general and I am sure if I went back to the lecture again, I could find a lot more to write on it.

The short and the long of Rao’s thesis is that not only the Catholic Church, but the Eastern Church as well, became the “heir(s) of the Roman Empire” to the extent that they were uniquely positioned to appropriate—and then apply—the administrative heritage of Rome. Indeed, the very constitution of the Church after the Edict of Milan began to increasingly reflect imperial structures, albeit with noticeable modifications. This is what Rao, it seems, is really concerned to get across. To the extent that the Catholic Church (or the Eastern Church) appropriated, revised, and then applied the administrative heritage of Rome (along with, I should add, the intellectual heritage of Hellenism), Rao sees nothing wrong. It is, however, during those periods of “conceptual slippage” (my term, not his) that bothers him. That is, when ancient Rome qua Rome became the model by which the Church and, eventually, individualized States ought to model themselves on, at the unfortunate expense of the Gospel. Rao identifies a certain genius in the Catholic Church insofar as it worked diligently, over many centuries, to appropriate and modify the Roman-Hellenic tradition. On the other hand, Rao is deeply critical of the Eastern tradition to the extent that it simply stopped the modification; that is, it simply accepted what had come from “old Rome” and then, where conflicts arose, invoked the murky concept of oikonomia to justify the retention of “old Rome” when, in fact, a “new Rome” or a “Christianized Rome” ought to have reigned.

This strikes me as an extremely academic debate. I put my two cents in because I am seeing this theme pop up a lot among Catholic intellectuals (look up Red Tories). As near as I can tell, they seek to reclaim the Church’s former influence in the now-militantly secular State in order to shape a more godly social order. Justice Scalia for example seems to relish the role of Thomas More to the democratic State’s Henry. I don't put much stock in this approach, whether it's Opus Dei or the Catholic Workers (leaving aside both groups' newfound faith in Masonic structures) because Rome and Constantinople are long, long gone and not coming back. The heirs to Empire are the West’s transnational, putatively democratic, globalist bureaucracies. They in turn have to reserve a seat at the table for the non-Christian oil exporting nations and Asian powers.

There is a lot of talk about Eastern Christianity in the linked post which strikes me as similarly arid. Russia is highly idiosyncratic and an international pariah with grave domestic issues. Greece is slipping into Third World status. Orthodox Greece and Russia no more concern the new secular order than Orban's Hungary, outside the desire to bomb such regimes off the map where feasible.

Nobody seems prepared for the probability that the secular neo-State itself is headed for collapse, like Rome and Constantinople before it. By the time things run their course, there won't be much left of the State apparatus to salvage.

A private joke I sometimes share is imagining Roman and Eastern hierarchs waking up yesterday and exclaiming, "The Empire fell? Now you tell me!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Human biodiversity

John Derbyshire at Taki's sees signs that HBD* is beginning to show up on a lot of radars. The tone of the linked essay and comment thread is glum, as HBD remains a bloody shirt for denunciations of eugenics, racism, genocide, Hitler!, etc.

If, as Enoch Powell said, the supreme function of statesmanship is to warn against preventable evils, then the Dark Enlightenment (which, by the way, includes no 'statesmen') needs to take a progressivist tack. In terms of policy, HBD naturally augurs for a society where people can find their own level. Call it 'small pond' strategy** (as in, big fish). For example, there should be no artificial barriers to a black man with the necessary chops becoming a surgeon and, conversely, there should be no shame in a black man being a janitor, and whites should not cherry-pick the Talented Tenth out of communities where they are most needed. A sure way to frustrate the process by which people have naturally sorted themselves for millenia is to enact a compulsory 'civil rights' regime which takes away peoples' safe harbors, from which they can associate or not associate as they see fit.

We can't unring the bell on multi-culturalism. Travel has become easy, people have money and leisure and want the benefits of international trade. But if 'diversity' really is a social good then we need to think hard about what generates diversity in the first place. The rest of the world developed rich, viable cultures in which diverse peoples freely sojourned all on their own before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In their private lives at least, people know HBD is real. They marry within a one-third standard deviation of IQ, houses cost more in white/Asian school districts, phenotypes persist despite centuries of co-existence. This reality can only be suppressed by earnest slogans for so long. HBD can no more be legislated out of existence than lunar tides can be legislated out of existence. As Derbyshire notes, the problem is the cultural elites have pushed the dialectic beyond any possibility of reasonable synthesis and when reality re-sets, things will get ugly.

* - "Human biodiversity is an acknowledgment that humans differ from each other in various ways because of our different genotypes. Differences include, but are not limited to, physical appearance, athletic ability, personality, and cognitive abilities."

** - "Small pond strategy" will be a new addition to the tag cloud, and hopefully enable discussion in a more positive direction.