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


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.