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2012 October 09 Tuesday
Honey Boo Boo Child And Dysfunctional Lower Classes

The mother of “Honey Boo Boo Child” (apparently a little fat girl who performs in many beauty pageants) follows the incentives in front of her and the result is more dumb fat kids.

Well, let’s look at the facts. June is obese, far from wealthy and stuck in a dead-end life. She did the best with the opportunities provided to her, and in contemporary America that meant having children with multiple men to maximize child support. Next, she took advantage of trash culture and voyeurism to capitalize on her daughter. Now she has her own reality show and is being paid thousands of dollars per episode, and richer than she’s ever been.

Each “bad choice” she made was incentivized. Every time she did something we look down on, she was rewarded for it. If she had simply buckled down and lived a modest, decent life, she’d be in a pretty lousy place today. The idea that simply doing what we’re “supposed to do,” presented to us in that enormous fake of a movie Forrest Gump, will pay off, is just plain wrong for a growing number of Americans.

This isn't the 1950s when people could expect to pair up with a husband or wife and get a factory job that put them at similar status level to a large portion of the total population. We've got a much wider spread of classes and far more cognitive sorting. The poor are dumber on average and the upper classes are smarter on average. The classes have less in common: less shared understanding, fewer shared values, fewer shared experiences with cultural products such as TV and radio shows.

Unfortunately the increasingly dysfunctional lower classes are not expected to adhere to upper middle class norms. The lower classes are breeding faster than the upper classes. Just as unfortunately, this is yet another obvious truth that is taboo. Hard to lessen problems which can't be acknowledged in the mainstream media.

Some men drop out of middle class life and become hedonists. Traditional norms of monogamous marriage and dedication to work are still embraced by most of the cognitive elite. But the elite are not enforcing those norms to the masses. That's a lost opportunity whose costs are growing every year.

By Randall Parker    2012 October 09 09:37 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
2012 September 05 Wednesday
After Egyptian Dictatorship Comes Epidemic Harassment Of Women

Democracy's healing virtues are greatly exaggerated.

Campaigners in Egypt say the problem of sexual harassment is reaching epidemic proportions, with a rise in such incidents over the past three months. For many Egyptian women, sexual harassment - which sometimes turns into violent mob-style attacks - is a daily fact of life, reports the BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo.

Last winter, an Egyptian woman was assaulted by a crowd of men in the city of Alexandria.

In video footage of the incident, posted on the internet, she is hauled over men's shoulders and dragged along the ground, her screams barely audible over the shouts of the mob.

Not civilized.

Muslims do not embrace the separation of religion from government.

In the West, separation of church and state is generally enshrined in constitutions and assumed in society. But these Islamist parties are operating in societies that are comfortable with religion informing politics, and even expect it. Most politicians across the Arab world support a degree of Islam in lawmaking, and even those who don't, avoid the secularist label, which smacks of godlessness in this region. In Egypt and Libya, even non-Islamist parties have agreed that sharia should be a basis of lawmaking. But Islamists take things a step further: They want religion to play a larger role in society – and there is broad public support for that in some places.

Progress is not inevitable, certainly not in the Middle East. Egypt's reversal can be seen in a series of pictures of women at Cairo University in 1959, 1978, 1995, and 2004 (same pictures here). Tragic illustration of the non-inevitability of progress. For another example, see pictures of Karachi's past. I look around the world and see vanquished civilizations without a war to defeat them.

By Randall Parker    2012 September 05 08:05 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2012 July 23 Monday
Fastest Growing American Cities Poorer

America's lower classes are growing more rapidly than its upper classes. Anyone care to state obvious reasons why?

Los Angeles, CA (July 19, 2012) As communities seek new ways to emerge from the recession, many may look to growing their population as a strategy. However, the belief that population growth will bring jobs and economic prosperity for local residents is a myth. These findings are published in a new study in the latest issue of Economic Development Quarterly (published by SAGE).

"Growth may be associated with economic development success; however, it is not the cause of that success," wrote study author Eben Fodor.

Fodor examined the relationship between growth and economic prosperity in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2009 to determine whether certain benefits commonly attributed to growth are supported by statistical data. He found that the slowest-growing metro areas had lower unemployment rates, lower poverty rates, higher income levels, and were less impacted by the recession than the fastest-growing areas. In fact, in 2009, local residents of slower-growing areas averaged $8,455 more per capita in personal income than those of the fastest-growing areas.

"The successful economic development program is typically the one that creates new jobs," Fodor wrote. "The new jobs tend to stimulate population growth as people move into the area seeking to take advantage of the new employment opportunities … But growth is not creating employment opportunities. Instead it is reducing them as newcomers fill job openings."

This new study used information taken from the U.S. Census to study 100 of the largest metro areas, representing 66% of the total U.S. population. It concluded with a comparison of the 25 slowest-growing metro areas with the 25 fastest growing from 2000 to 2009. The slowest growing areas were located in 13 different states, including Connecticut, New York, and Ohio while the fastest-growing areas came from 12 different states, dominated by California, Florida, and Texas.

I predict declining per capita income in the US in the coming years.

By Randall Parker    2012 July 23 10:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (30)
2012 February 09 Thursday
Unfairness Accounts For Failures Of Bottom 30%?

David Brooks on Charles Murray's new book Coming Apart (about cognitive sorting, the dysfunction at the bottom and the conservative lifestyles of the cognitive elite - both liberal and conservative) makes the mistake of shows the extent to which even he can't escape from liberal assumptions.

Murray’s story contradicts the ideologies of both parties. Republicans claim that America is threatened by a decadent cultural elite that corrupts regular Americans, who love God, country and traditional values. That story is false. The cultural elites live more conservative, traditionalist lives than the cultural masses.

Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.

He goes on to seemingly contradict himself in the next paragraph. Click thru and try to make sense of it.

Unfairness? Seriously? If the bottom 30% have lower IQs, low labor market participation rates, high rates of illegitimate (I use that politically incorrect word intentionally) births, and other dysfunction and limits on their abilities then the top 20% are to blame how exactly? Did the top 20% use unfair tactics to drive the bottom 30% to drop out of high school? To make them not show up for work on time? To make them get pregnant out of wedlock? To make them abuse drugs and alcohol?

Brooks and the liberals can't cure the dysfunction at the bottom with more doses of fairness from the top. What might help: The elites could do battle with each other over our media and laws that encourage impulsive bad choices. At the cost of restricting what the cognitive elite can imbibe as cultural products our media should be radically reformed and restrained to deliver far better messages to the bottom 30%. Take away glorification of impulsive lifestyles. Do not even allow a show like Jersey Shore on the air. The impulsive and dumb should get a steady diet of Leave It To Beaver and other large doses of wholeness, conventional families with solid dads, and a total lack of sarcasm directed at guys playing wholesome dad roles. Outlaw gambling. Make liquor harder to get late at night.

I do not expect liberals to be willing to inconvenience themselves in order that lower IQ and impulsive people will only take in constructive and morally restraining messages. But that is what's needed.

What else would help: A total halt and reversal of low IQ immigration. We have far too many low IQ people. Patterns of reproduction are contributing to this as well.

Unfortunately we can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Automation and global trade are both lowering the demand for lower IQ labor and lowering the status of lower IQ laborers. Mass media and vice industries (e.g. gambling) lure lower IQ people into making bad choices. No fault divorce, decline in religious belief, the decline in the status of males, and other changes undermine the attraction of marriage.

By Randall Parker    2012 February 09 09:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2011 December 27 Tuesday
Violent Venezuela

Writing in Aljazeera (which has surprisingly good articles in English btw) Dorothy Kronick, a former Fulbright scholar in Venezuela, reports on the violent culture in Venezuela.

Before joining the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the conductor Gustavo Dudamel often led Venezuela's celebrated youth symphony in performances at the Central University of Venezuela. The university's concert hall is a rare enclave of architectural loveliness in Caracas: Alexander Calder designed a tremendous sculpture for its ceiling, and murals decorate the surrounding plaza. That prized plaza was damaged last Friday, when armed assailants attacked the university in an outburst of the peculiar violence that has come to define the Venezuelan capital.

The gunmen lit fires just outside the concert hall, attempted to force open its doors and cloaked the entryway in tear gas. Their intent, it appears, was to interrupt the tallying of votes from that day's student-body government elections; the group destroyed machines used for counting and prevented students from delivering ballot boxes to the election committee. The academic departments in which votes were lost scheduled new elections for Wednesday, only to be stopped again with a second volley of tear gas.

Gunmen tried to disrupt a student election. The stakes here weren't about important things like, say, corporate ownership, prices, jobs, or free speech for newspaper reporters. Though the gun men were trying to help pro-Chavez candidates. It illustrates the extent to which the state is complicit in encouraging Venezuela's violent culture.

Read the full article. Venezuela's homicide rate is 3 times Mexico's without Mexico's drug war. Mexico's got an excuse. Hugely wealthy and violent narcotics traffickers have thoroughly corrupted Mexico's political system and intimidated and corrupted their police. What's with Venezuela?

The Mexican Navy has just taken over the 600,000 person municipality of Veracruz-Boca del Rio with 900 police dismissed as too corrupt. A few dozen bodies at a time are turning up dead due to an on-going battle between the Gulf and Zeta cartels. Yet Venezuela has 3 times the murder rate. Mexican gangs are even operating expanding extortion rings in the United States, preying on auto sellers, auto repair shops, and other businesses that employ illegal aliens. Within Mexico cartels have built parallel national radio systems to coordinate defenses against the government. The government's sovereign control of Mexico is being challenged.

The fact that Venezuela is far worse with crime than Mexico shows just how far a culture can decay. We should seek to reverse even smaller amount of such decay within our own borders. It should be US policy to work very hard to keep Mexico's problems out of the US and to eliminate gangs, extortion, and corruption. Federal and local law enforcement should make a big push to deport illegal aliens and lock up and cut off the gangs from Mexico. Furthermore, federal policy should be to come down very hard on organized crime elements operating in the US from all over the world (e.g. Russia). We are rich pickings for organized ruthless gangs an an era of easy air transportation and cheap and rapid telecommunications. We need to make the United States a much harder target for the world's criminals.

By Randall Parker    2011 December 27 08:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2011 July 24 Sunday
Fred Reed Says Disengage From National Loyalty

In a declining society Fred Reed thinks it makes sense to withdraw your loyalty and reduce involvement in decayed institutions.

When a country works reasonably well—when the schools teach algebra and not governmentally mandated Appropriate Values, when the police are scarce and courteous, when government is remote and minds its business and works more for the benefit of the country than for looters and special interests, then pledging to it a degree of allegiance isn't foolish. Decades back America was such a country, imperfect as all countries are, but good enough to cherish.

As decline begins, and government becomes oppressive, self-righteous, and ruthless yet incompetent, as official spying flourishes, as corruption sets in hard, and institutions rot, it is time to disengage. Loyalty to a country is a choice, not an obligation. In other times people have loved family, friends, common decency, tribe, regiment, or church instead of country. In an age of national collapse, this is wise.

Fred says you can do something short of becoming a physical expatriate. As a domestic expat you could see yourself as a resident or visitor in 21st century America. I think this is a cool idea. I felt like an outlier when I was young. But now my feeling is more like an alien.

Fred argues for home schooling . His arguments against universities might seem over the top but one does not have to look far to find evidence that universities have been captured by people with seriously messed up priorities who are damaging these institutions. One of my recurring themes here is that online education can enable escape from both the costs and the ideological messages of the modern university. Escape to online. Create a subculture there.

One does not have to look far to see the United States as a whole is headed down with lots of bad things in store: oppressively high taxes, lower per capita wealth, declining incomes (with California and Texas notably headed down) with the young folks poorer and, according to Alan Greenspan, less able to compete.

I do not know how far or how fast the US will decline. But conducting your life in a way that cuts your dependence on core societal institutions seems wise at this point. This has implications for career choices. Reduce your dependence on a single location or region by developing skills, contacts, and a career trajectory that enable you to work abroad if necessary.

By Randall Parker    2011 July 24 10:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (53)
2011 July 03 Sunday
Joni Mitchell: Making Vice Chic Tremendous Moral Error

Joni Mitchell interviewed by Charlie Rose in January 2008: "Making vice, you know, chic I think was a tremendous moral error and I think the entire global village is suffering right now and the generation coming up right now is malformed because of it, that they never had a shot at innocence, you know which is one of the privileges of childhood unless you're in a war zone".

Another quote: "The boys are weakened and the girls are grotesquely aggressive".

What do you all make of that?

Regards vice chic: I'm struck by the glorification of Las Vegas by TV shows (e.g. with Josh Duhamel playing a casino security officer in one of them) and movies. Look, gambling is a vice, a very destructive vice for some individuals and families. Mom or Dad gambles away the food money and rent money. Today state governments run their own lotteries, claiming to need the money to help poor people. But who are they preying on to buy their tickets? People who want a ticket out of the lower classes. That's morally perverse.

Her comments about water and food shortages suggest she's worried about the limits to growth and exhaustion of resources. But these limits (like the idea that vices are bad things which children should be shielded from) are still outside of the range of discussion engaged in by mainstream commentators.

Note that she also saw the severity of the approaching financial crisis before it hit full force. The mainstream economic commentary of January 2008 was not predicting a near collapse of the global financial system that would be prevented only by trillions of dollars from the US Federal Reserve. So she was ahead of the mainstream echo chamber of conventional wisdom. An artist's sensitivity helps to see thru conventional wisdom.

For those too young to recognize her name here is Joni Mitchell in 1969 performing Chelsea Morning.

Update: I can see a couple of arguments for letting the lottery stand:

- The poor are already getting supported by more productive people and do not deserve to be parasites. So taxing them thru a lottery reverses an unfair redistribution.

- The lottery acts like natural selection against people dumb enough to spend on it. But I'm skeptical that the lottery (or gambling in general) reduces fertility, especially in welfare states.

Arguments against the lottery and against legalized gambling:

- The poor are unfairly oppressed and therefore need to receive from the state as a remedy to the unfair system. Therefore they should not be tempted to give to state via a lottery. But I'm skeptical of Marxist arguments about class oppression, at least with regard to the vast majority of the poor. Most who are poor in industrialized economies are that way due to their own attributes: they are too dumb to do highly productive work or too lazy or too uncooperative or because they have short time horizons and do not save. Likely multiple reasons apply for most of them. Granted there are exception who are poor due to no fault of their own.

- When the easily tempted engage in vices others pay for a portion of the results. Keep temptation away and people become more likely to support their kids, stay with their spouse, keep their job, etc. That seems the most persuasive argument to me. But this argument, while it would have been persuasive 100 years ago, no longer holds much force among liberals. That's unfortunate for the health of a society.

By Randall Parker    2011 July 03 11:27 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2011 May 25 Wednesday
Poor Guys Making Babies

Guys with poor prospects are knocking up women.

Los Angeles, CA (May 23, 2011) With teen moms being debated heavily in popular culture today, it's easy to neglect the effects of fatherhood. However, recent research shows that young, disadvantaged men also affect a family and society. In fact, by age 30, between 68 and 75 percent of young men with a high school degree or less are fathers.

What is wrong with America: It is beyond the pale to tell poor young men to delay making babies. Really, we can't afford the rising costs of irresponsible reproduction. America is going to get poorer. When will our intellectuals face the need to address root causes?

A "perfect storm of adverse events":

A new issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (published by SAGE) called "Young Disadvantaged Men: Fathers, Family, Poverty, and Policy," examines how poverty and lack of education are creating a "perfect storm of adverse events".

What makes this perfect storm possible. Many harmful changes in norms contributed. Pregnancy out of wedlock used to be beyond the pale. It was rare. It was strongly disapproved of. Social programs did not enable it. Political rhetoric about single motherhood was not morally neutral, let alone approving. Celebrities did not make babies outside of marriage if they wanted to remain famous and liked. That's all changed.

So many things have cut into lower class incomes: Automation, outsourcing factories to less developed countries, and immigration have all kicked the supports out from under wages for less skilled workers. Their relative standing in the economy has dropped. Dumber guys aren't making much money. Hey, sorry guys. But we also need you to make fewer babies too for the common good.

So far all the trends continue to point in the direction of a widening gap in earning power between the most and least cognitively able. Machines do routine work. Smart people designs stuff that cuts their need for the labor of dumber people. Mainstream discourse phrases this in terms of low educational achievement rather than IQ. But we need to be real. All the spin isn't going to change the root causes.

Today almost half of all kids are being raised by at least one parent with a low educational background (high school degree or less by age 30) and a poor expected economic future. Additionally 62 percent of fathers with a high school degree or less earned less than $20,000 in 2002. These issues combine to create a roadmap to failure for young, disadvantaged dads.

A recent Pew Research Center report on the decline of marriage underscores the extent to which the decline of marriage is very class-based. Smarter and more affluent people are more likely to raise kids within the institution of marriage.

The Class-Based Decline in Marriage. About half (52%) of all adults in this country were married in 2008; back in 1960, seven-in-ten (72%) were. This decline has occurred along class lines. In 2008, there was a 16 percentage point gap in marriage rates between college graduates (64%) and those with a high school diploma or less (48%). In 1960, this gap had been just four percentage points (76% vs. 72%). The survey finds that those with a high school diploma or less are just as likely as those with a college degree to say they want to marry. But they place a higher premium than college graduates (38% versus 21%) on financial stability as a very important reason to marry.

What is going on here? Do lower class women see their men as less than assets? Has lower IQ male earning power dropped so far that lower IQ women just see these men as more trouble than they are worth? Do they decide to get knocked up by the guys anyway in order to satisfy instinctive desires for babies? Are they getting knocked up by guys who are above their league for permanent relationships?

Given trends this picture is going to get worse.

A point I've made previously: while today older generation married grandparents are raising out-of-wedlock babies the future grand parents will be single losers. So who will raise the illegitimate following generation? Once responsible people are the minority how to keep things working well? The social capital of the United States is on the decline. The nation's prospects are poor.

By Randall Parker    2011 May 25 08:28 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (14)
2011 March 02 Wednesday
Build A Navy Or Face Our Budget Deficits?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Mark Helprin argues that the American people should support spending to expand the US Navy to prevent it from yielding control of the seas to China.

The United Sates Navy need not follow the Royal Navy into near oblivion. We have five times the population and almost six times the GDP of the U.K., and unlike Britain we were not exhausted by the great wars and their debt, and we neither depended upon an empire for our sway nor did we lose one.

Despite its necessity, deficit reduction is not the only or even the most important thing.

What caught me: Deficit reduction is not the most important thing? Running a deficit equal to 10% of GDP and the thing to do is run up that deficit even faster because we need more ships? Record debt at all levels of government is not a reason to admit we are living beyond our limits? This is an irresponsible argument.

The current massive deficits are an attempt to live beyond our means and pretend that the era of continually rising living standards hasn't come to an end. Totally ignoring fundamental limitations to growth, people like Helprin want America to act like it is still a rising power with the wind at its back. If only.

Gonzalo Lira, ranting about the $1.6+ trillion US government deficit, says the most noteworthy thing about the massive US fiscal disaster is how little people care.

Yet for all these terribly depressing facts, here’s the rub: 

No one seems particularly concerned. 

It’s as if it were happening to someone else—it’s as if it were happening to the Canadians, not to America. The American people are taking the whole budget deficit thing so la-di-da that you would think that the entire country had dropped extacy in one giant, collective, “Don’t give a fuck about nuthin’ ‘cept dancing!” moment. 

Lira thinks people see the approaching disaster and have given up and just do not care. In response to Lira, Dennis Mangan sees apathy and stupidity as more likely causes of our profligacy.

But why aren't they paying attention? At least a couple of reasons come to mind: they've got their own lives to lead, or they don't think much could be done about it anyway, or at least some of them are too dumb to understand. Some may also believe that our elected leaders will solve these problems; that's why we elected them, right? That leads us to the agency problem: the interests of our elected government agents are not necessarily the same as our own.

Yes to all the above. But also, there's also a strong element of "You pay", "No, you pay". Like Mark Helprin, everyone has their favorite cause or benefit that they want to protect. Cut waste but do not cut Social Security, Medicare, government employee pensions, foreign aid to a favorite country, and dozens of other programs and causes.

I have been puzzled over the last 5 years or so whether our economic problems will lead to high inflation. I am reaching a conclusion: Yes. Politicians can portray inflation as a force outside of their control that has the effect of reducing the value of many government benefits. Inflation is a way to cut government spending programs while pretending to be opposed. Our leaders and populace have such poor moral character (and not a few are too dumb and interested) to prevent the inflationary route. So I think high inflation is a likely consequence of how governments will respond to massive underfunded entitlements and declining tax revenues.

By Randall Parker    2011 March 02 10:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2010 November 24 Wednesday
UK Woman Makes Babies As Protest For Better Housing

Yet another example of how our welfare states feed decay and tilt the playing field in favor of entropy.

An unemployed benefits claimant whose five children were all taken into care has vowed to continue having babies until she is granted a council house. Lavine Samma, 27, is now pregnant with her sixth child and fully expects the baby to be taken from her by social services at birth, just like the last three infants.

Why does she keep having babies? She wants a better government-provided housing than the apartment the government is currently providing her. Really. Oh, and the British government has not responded by cutting off her welfare checks.

It would really help make Western societies sustainable (which they are not currently) if their elites admitted that the welfare state encourages destructive behaviors that compound over generations. Welfare payments should be treated as a contract where the recipients take on obligations to the rest of society. Among those obligations: no irresponsible reproduction. Have lots of kids? Lose your benefits. Get pregnant while a drug user or regular alcohol drinker? The payments and subsidies should end pronto.

It used to be that the smarter, more productive, prudent, and affluent made more babies. Now the welfare state has turned around the selective pressures. This does not bode well for our future.

By Randall Parker    2010 November 24 11:14 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2010 October 22 Friday
Foreign Ideas And Societal Immune Systems

Mencius Moldbug takes a look at the beliefs of players in mid 20th century political developments.

For instance, when I state that US foreign policy in the 20th century is historically rooted in post-millennial Protestant theology, I can link directly to my favorite primary source - this TIME Magazine article from 1942.

It is simply a fact that in 1942, TIME's writers and its readers knew what a "super-protestant" foreign policy was, because it is a fact that this article was written, edited, and read. It could have been inserted in the TIME archive by crafty anti-Protestant hackers, or for that matter by aliens, but the student of history need not give these fantasies much weight. And without them, globalist foreign policy is the work of "organized U.S. Protestantism." Believe it or not, the YMCA is an important actor in the period. Now, it might be that some even more sinister group was behind the "Y" - the aliens, the Jews, the Ogpu, etc - but when we write the YMCA out of 20th-century history, we are writing bad history. And I can prove it, because I have that link.

The Mar. 16, 1942 Time article about an American Protestant program for a post-WWII world order will sound very familiar.

These are the high spots of organized U.S. Protestantism's super-protestant new program for a just and durable peace after World War II:

>Ultimately, "a world government of delegated powers."

>Complete abandonment of U.S. isolationism.

>Strong immediate limitations on national sovereignty.

>International control of all armies & navies.

> "A universal system of money ... so planned as to prevent inflation and deflation."

> Worldwide freedom of immigration.

> Progressive elimination of all tariff and quota restrictions on world trade.

Yes, these ideas already had currency during World War II. How many of these ideas will die out with the decline the Protestant Ascendancy and, with some delay, the decline of America?

As an aside, this article undermines the view that these policies originated with Jewish and Catholic immigrants. In 1942 the Protestant establishment was in firm control and these items (and more to follow if you click thru) were what they came up with. Open borders. They wanted open borders. The mind boggles. Were these liberal churches? How representative were they of most Protestant churches in America at that time? I suspect that since most of the issues in the Time 1942 article are about foreign policy they represent an elite Protestant view. One can see where George Bush Sr got his ideas from that article. Daniel Larison points out that elites come up with foreign policy and then sell it to the masses. Unfortunately, our elites come up with a lot of bad foreign policy ideas like open borders and occupation of Middle Eastern countries.

More than almost any other kind of policy, foreign policy is something fashioned at an elite level and then rationalized or justified to the public after the fact. Public opinion on foreign policy issues does not existy fully formed, but it is constantly being shaped by what the political class and media tell the public about these issues. Mead is actively creating the consensus that he pretends has always existed.

In the course of a long essay touching on any figures and developments surrounding WWII Moldbug makes an interesting point: A set of ideas moved between cultures will enter a new culture which lacks the immune response which allows the originating culture to prevent the set of ideas from causing great damage.

The division between Henry Wallace and Joseph Stalin, assuming for purposes of argument its reality, is a classic case of sectarian conflict on the left. Leftism is riddled with sects; Trotskyists versus Stalinists versus Maoists, and the like. There is no denying that American liberalism was broadly allied with Moscow in 1944, and broadly in conflict with Moscow in 1948. This is best seen as a sectarian schism in a single church; the "Cold War" is not an existential conflict of Left and Right, like the war on Hitler, but a fracture in a single global movement. As we speak of the Sino-Soviet split, we might speak of the "Anglo-Soviet split."

This is certainly not a point of view that leads us to agree with Hassell's Osservatore Romano, in its judgment that Bolshevism is "an indigenous European growth which by chance has matured in one country (Russia)." The opposite hypothesis is suggested: that Bolshevism is an exotic, non-European growth. Ie, an American growth. Ie, when America infects Russia with liberalism, the spore (lacking native enemies) grows into its malign form of Bolshevism. Contra Hassell, democracy and communism are two forms of the same disease.

Moldbug's specific way of applying this idea might be erroneous. Whether American liberalism mutated into Russian communism or British Marxism (Marx was in Britain when inventing Marxism) mutated into Russian Marxism one could argue that Russia was ill-equipped to handle this foreign system of beliefs. Ditto for China. Their immune systems lacked the dampening and restraining factors needed to prevent the worst excesses of communism. A society with a history of strong unchecked central rule is at greater risk of turning into a totalitarian Marxist totalitarian dictatorship than a society which has always had widely accepted mechanisms (e.g. independent judiciaries, free presses, and societal institutions that exist independent of government) for restraining the power of central governments.

Another argument can be made as well: Some ideas deliver benefits in their early stages of spread. But the ideas have dangerous flaws and as they spread their costs gradually become greater than their benefits. I think liberalism has mutated into something pathological in the United States. It has pushed its program into areas where it has overstepped its limits and amplified the damaging effects of its errors.

By Randall Parker    2010 October 22 08:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2010 October 14 Thursday
South Park: It's a Jersey Thing

Great episode.

"If we don't do something South Park is going to become West Jersey".

"You can take the fetus out of Jersey but you can't take Jersey out of the fetus."

"I don't want to live in West Jersey any more than you do."

By Randall Parker    2010 October 14 08:31 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2010 August 18 Wednesday
US Call Centers Cheaper Than India?

From the Financial Times: Genpact CEO Pramod Bhasin says American wages have dropped so far and Indian wages have risen so far that US call centers can compete.

Call centre workers are becoming as cheap to hire in the US as they are in India, according to the head of the country’s largest business process outsourcing company.

The Open Borders advocates will find something to crow about here. We've got so many really low paid Hispanics that Hispanics in America can compete with poor people in India. Is that progress or what?

High unemployment levels have driven down wages for some low-skilled outsourcing services in some parts of the US, particularly among the Hispanic population.

I can remember when rising US wages were a seen as good thing and were a common occurrence. I realize Americans in their 20s (who are still living with mom and dad and going nowhere fast) will find this hard to believe. But really, wages went up every year even for low skilled factory workers. America used to be the land of opportunity even for the lower middle class. Honestly, I'm not making this up. Oh, and college was really cheap. Stop laughing. I am not making this up.

Wages are booming in India. That used to happen in America. I realize this makes me sound really old but I'm old enough to remember when that happened here. How else do you think wages for factory workers could decline from where they used to be?

At the same time, wages in India’s outsourcing sector have risen by 10 per cent this year and senior outsourcing managers based in the country command salaries above global averages.

So the good news here: The Open Borders crowd has managed to so transform America's labor force that it can compete with call center workers in India. This story tempts me to think optimistic thoughts about America's future. I know, I write a lot of posts predicting decay. But amid that decay we can still find ways to compete. I bet we could lower our wages far enough to compete in textiles. Think of that. America once more a textile center.

We just need the time it just takes for the death of generations who knew and were accustomed t higher living standards. The historical amnesia of the younger generations will allow them to placidly go to work at jobs that pay below the current minimum wage. We can hold the current minimum wage, import another hundred million low-skilled immigrants, and then run an expansionary monetary policy to cause a good bout of inflation. After that inflationary bout in inflation-adjusted terms our workers will be prepared to bring back lots of lost jobs.

I bet you are as excited by this as I am. But wait, it gets better. You might feel sad that even in New York City the educational system is turning out the kinds of workers who can only do low-paid jobs. But if those workers can compete with low wage workers in other countries then that keeps American residents in some international competitions. We are starting to look a lot more competitive to Vietnam, Pakistan, and other lower wage countries. I think we have a long time to go before we'll be able to go head-to-head with Bangladesh or Burma. But Rome wasn't collapsed in a day.

By Randall Parker    2010 August 18 08:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2010 August 14 Saturday
Roissy: America Then And Now

Roissy takes a look at how America is doing with a look at Americans then and now thru pictures. His "now" pictures are pathetic. Lots of obesity, ugly clothing, bad attitudes. I hear a song from the 1980s "We are Devo, D-E-V-O".

At the tail end of a post a post about Asian women and inter-racial attraction Audacious Epigone notes that in the CraigsList for Kansas City Women Seeking Men category (and I added an image requirement for that filter) attractive women are extremely rare. Go take a look.

From KC: Here's a 220 lb woman who wants a tall skinny boyfriend. Has she considered bariatric surgery? How can you spot a good mom? If she can't get a babysitter for her 2 kids should she invite over strange men for the weekend to "party" with her young kids there? This is America in 2010.

I got curious and repeated this by looking at a few hundred pictures for several cities across the United States. Audacious gets it right. What was most shocking: obviously very overweight and even obese women who claimed they were big but not obese. There's a whole lot of denial going on. For starters, check out Seattle, Las Vegas, Portland, Boise, Spokane, and Denver. Use a browser with fast tab support and you can very quickly take a look at the sorts of women trying to find a boyfriend on CraigsList.

Given that many of these women seeking men claim they want cute and muscular guys you might think they'd exert serious effort to at least control what they have control over: their weight, clothing, hairstyle. But no. They seem oblivious to how they will be seen.

Another observation: At about age 26 the women start saying they are tired of games and tired of lies. They've played with lots of alpha players and know they always get dumped in the end. Some still want a guy they consider alpha who will just commit. Others more clearly are ready to settle for less to get commitment. More of them have kids and want guys not to mind (good luck with that when you are unattractive, aging, fat, and with little education or skills). Also, some of the more honest ones reveal their promiscuous past either explicitly or via code phrases like "my party days are over" or by making noises about finally growing up and looking for an LTR (long term relationship).

What I want to know: Are ugliness and obesity getting selected for or against? Are ugly and fat people having fewer or more kids than pretty people?

By Randall Parker    2010 August 14 12:28 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (24)
2010 July 06 Tuesday
Roissy On Independence Day

Roissy looks at the decline in patriotism, its causes, and the likely outcome.

On this 4th of July, We the post-Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 People should spend a moment to reflect on the tenuous grasp the inheritors of the great American tradition have to their homeland. When you wave your sparklers with your kids this holiday weekend, cast a wary eye at your neighbor. A disease has metastasized in huge swaths of the American population and threatens to suffocate the grandiose and noble idea that ironically nourishes their trite impudence. The host which ennobles has become the rotting carcass upon which to feed. Gnawing and chewing parasites dripping venom and toxic bile have replaced the immune boosting white blood cells and defiantly proud armies of red blooded corpuscles of a body politic once happy, grateful, and giddy to be alive. And not just any sort of alive; the kind of exalted living that comes from knowing your good fortune to have been born in a prosperous country culturally superior to so many alternatives. Yes, superior. The very word sends shudders down the spines of the mincing globocrats and mewling equalist butterfucks.

I think the globalizing Left is mistaken to think that the suppression of patriotism will cause people to shift their loyalties toward the whole world. More likely they will shift their loyalties toward much smaller scales like family, gang, and co-conspirators. The pride that comes with patriotism can be and has been very constructive. It makes possible the voluntary clubs and societies that work for civic betterment.

A vector of patricidal vengeance, a boiling plume of acrid anti-native stock spite, travels up and down our coasts, from Miami to Boston, LA to Seattle, in our newsrooms, our boardrooms, our schools, and our social gathering places, carrying a message of spastic hate for America, her founding ideals, and the historically great figures who have traveled her hallowed corridors. Pockets of internal organs are infected, Chicago and Austin. These are not traitors in action… mostly… but their souls are traitorous in configuration. Their feelings are the knee-jerk bleats of a bastard people at growing unease with the country they are required by law to call home. A nation of latchkey kids — stupid in their ahistorical ignorance and frightened of the breaking surf of censored knowledge about to crash on their heads — has been in open revolt against its beneficent parent for generations now, and the opiate of distracting technoporn and glam mags can only hold off the coming reckoning for so long. They live for the comforting swaddle of the trend, and right now every trend is pointing in the direction of dialectic anti-patriotism.

Regards "the breaking surf of censored knowledge about to crash on their heads" I keep getting hints that the truth in undeniable form is near. Anyone know when the key research papers will be published? Any in the next 6 months?

Click thru and read Roissy's whole post.

By Randall Parker    2010 July 06 09:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2010 July 05 Monday
NASA For Raising Muslim Self Esteem

Once upon a time in a now lost civilization the likes of Werner Von Braun graced NASA hallways. NASA's mission today? In an interview with al Jazeera, Barack Obama's NASA administrator Charles Bolden reveals what Obama tasked him to do with NASA: Inspire children, improve US foreign relationships, and boost Muslim self esteem. No mention of studying the planets, finding large dangerous asteroids on collision courses with Earth, launching satellites that can collect better data on climate trends, development of space telescopes, or development of better space launch vehicles.

"When I became the NASA administrator, [Obama] charged me with three things," NASA head Charles Bolden said in a recent interview with the Middle Eastern news network al-Jazeera. "One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."

Obama is such a lightweight. But he continues to surprise. I obviously haven't lowered my estimation of the man far enough. Time to adjust downward.

Charles Bolden comes off looking like a lightweight as well. He's in charge of NASA (which, um, is supposed to put people into space, do space science, and also study Earth from space) and he managed to seriously say that raising Muslim self esteem about their scientific abilities is his chief priority. This shouldn't be on his priority list at all. A NASA administrator ought to have enough gravitas to avoid saying something so obviously silly.

The Muslim nations are a great untapped resource for space exploration?

"It is a matter of trying to reach out and get the best of all worlds, if you will, and there is much to be gained by drawing in the contributions that are possible from the Muslim (nations)," he said. He held up the International Space Station as a model, praising the contributions there from the Russians and the Chinese.

Can't we get some serious supervision in the US government? These people sound like grade school teachers indoctrinated in self esteem teaching ideology. Is this the result of the feminization of politics? Charles Bolden should be interviewed by Oprah or Dr. Phil about how science should be done in massive joint undertakings that enable everyone to feel they are scientists equal to the greatest minds in history.

By Randall Parker    2010 July 05 09:15 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2010 March 22 Monday
Press Lifted Stigma Of Casino Gambling?

Just how much of the decay in American culture is due to journalists legitimizing previously (and wisely) stigmatized behaviors and institutions? Newspapers either went along with or led the destigmatization of casino gambling.

Why do some consumption practices become legitimate while others remain stigmatized? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research looks at the way the public discourse regarding casino gambling has shifted in the last 30 years.

"In the last three decades, casino gambling in the United States has grown from a marginal practice to a thriving industry," writes author Ashlee Humphreys (Northwestern University). In the 1950s and early 1960s, one in nine people in the United States gambled in a casino each year, while in 2004, one in four people gambled at a casino. Casino gambling is now legal in 28 states.

Humphreys looked at the shifts in the way the press has represented casino gambling to explore the historical process of legitimization. She examined all newspaper articles with the word "casino" in the headline or lead paragraph from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today from 1980-2007. From this list of 7211, she chose a sample of 600, which she then coded and analyzed.

"I find that over the 27-year period of the newspaper discourse, four fundamental concepts structure talk about casino gambling: purity, filth, wealth, and poverty," writes Humphreys. "Three legal actions in 1976, 1988, and 1999, however, each mark a moment at which talk shifted due to the influence of some external event or institutional change."

According to Humphreys, before 1988, the categories of purity and filth dominated discussions of casino gambling. But regulatory changes in 1988 prompted a shift to public talk of wealth and poverty. "This reflects the beginning of the incorporation of casinos into dominant institutions of capital and government," writes Humphreys, "but the language of wealth and poverty becomes increasingly used to discuss issues of their establishment and operation."

Humphreys found that regulation and material changes in the environment affected media language. "I find that journalists, because readers interpret their coverage as representing reality, are able to shape consumer perceptions through selection, valuation, and realization."

Does the decay continue? Does it eventually turn around? Why? How?

By Randall Parker    2010 March 22 10:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2009 December 05 Saturday
Smart People Start Having Sex Later

Smart people put more thought into the consequences of their reproductive actions. This is a tragedy for the West. Jason Malloy reports the details.

Depending on the specific age and gender, an adolescent with an IQ of 100 was 1.5 to 5 times more likely to have had intercourse than a teen with a score of 120 or 130. Each additional point of IQ increased the odds of virginity by 2.7% for males and 1.7% for females. But higher IQ had a similar relationship across the entire range of romantic/sexual interactions, decreasing the odds that teens had ever kissed or even held hands with a member of the opposite sex at each age.

While these authors leave off at grade 12th, it would seem plausible to expect that this relationship extends beyond high school. To explore this, plenty of interesting facts come from a 2001 campus sex survey by the joint MIT/Wellesley college magazine Counterpoint (PDF). Looking within and between colleges, IQ appears to delay sexual activity on into young adulthood.

By the age of 19, 80% of US males and 75% of women have lost their virginity, and 87% of college students have had sex. But this number appears to be much lower at elite (i.e. more intelligent) colleges. According to the article, only 56% of Princeton undergraduates have had intercourse. At Harvard 59% of the undergraduates are non-virgins, and at MIT, only a slight majority, 51%, have had intercourse. Further, only 65% of MIT graduate students have had sex.

The student surveys at MIT and Wellesley also compared virginity by academic major.

Studio art majors are easy.

The chart for Wellesley displayed below shows that 0% of studio art majors were virgins, but 72% of biology majors were virgins, and 83% of biochem and math majors were virgins! Similarly, at MIT 20% of 'humanities' majors were virgins, but 73% of biology majors. (Apparently those most likely to read Darwin are also the least Darwinian!)

This is the biggest tragedy of the modern age. The people most capable of raising kids and most likely to produce offspring who can generate wealth are the least likely to make babies. Many lines of evidence point toward dysgenic breeding practices.

Ron Guhname recently pointed out another line of evidence for dysgenic breeding. Women with bigger vocabularies have fewer babies.

The first year of the General Social Survey was 1972. I looked at white women ages 50 and over for all surveys conducted in the 70s. The mean number of kids for dull women (Wordsum 0-4) was 3.02. It was 2.22 for smart women (Wordsum 8-10). That's a ratio of 1.36. Looking at this decade, I calculated means for white women ages 45-59. For the unintelligent group, the mean number of kids is 2.38, and it's 1.76 for the bright group. That's a ratio of 1.35.

There is no difference between the two periods. The higher fertility of dull women seen prior to 1970 continues to the same degree today.

I've gradually lost interest in what passes for the mainstream inside-the-beltway policy debate in Washington DC because it rarely constructively addresses the biggest problems facing the Western nations. The relevant evidence has been rendered taboo by the anti-knowledge forces of political correctness. Meanwhile, the West declines. What will some future Edward Gibbon write about our era?

By Randall Parker    2009 December 05 04:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (24)
2009 November 24 Tuesday
More Food Insecurity In America

It is a record-breaking year for America. I'm quite sure it is one of many more to come.

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year, to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls “food insecurity” 14 years ago, the Department of Agriculture reported Monday.

Since the ethnic groups with hunger problems (non-Asian minorities or NAMs) are the fast growing portions of the American population our future will feature more hunger.

Problems gaining access to food were highest in households with children headed by single mothers. About 37 percent of them reported some form of food insecurity compared with 14 percent of married households with children. About 29 percent of Hispanic households reported food insecurity, compared with 27 percent of black households and 12 percent of white households.

But it is a thought crime to think we should keep out immigrants who are most likely to end up poor and hungry. It is a thought crime to think that group average differences in performance starting at a very young age are not malleable to social engineering of environment. Since thinking rationally is taboo we get stupid policies and worsening results.

Single motherhood causes child poverty and hunger.

Heather Mac Donald wonders at the real desperation and competence of the single mothers in America who can't keep food on the table.

Is it really the case that a minimally competent mother (we won’t even contemplate fathers here) in this fabulously wealthy country where food is so cheap cannot give her child a healthy breakfast in the morning? Granted, doing so at low cost entails shopping for food low on the processing chain and, horrors of horrors, actually cooking it. A portion of rolled oats in a large discount container costs pennies and takes five minutes to cook. Too onerous? I know that there is a shortage of decent supermarkets and fresh food in the inner city, a result of low demand and high crime. (Actually, there’s not a decent supermarket in all of New York City.) But a little planning should be able to overcome that shortage by occasional trips to someplace where you can buy in bulk. Here’s a test of whether someone is really suffering from hunger or even just “food insecurity”: Are you willing to cook legumes for a few hours? If not, you’re not starving and have no claim on the public purse.

It really is amazing how cheaply you can eat if you are willing to start with raw materials.

I am pessimistic about the future of America because we no longer hold the lowest classes to a high standard of behavior. As long as poor people are allowed to follow their desires and we step in to bail them out we are going to get a society of increasing irresponsibility and incompetence.

By Randall Parker    2009 November 24 08:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2009 October 05 Monday
Gulf Arab Countries Plot To Stop Oil Trading In Dollars?

Writing in The Independent Robert Fisk reports on efforts by the Gulf Arab countries and several major industrial countries to phase oil trade of oil in dollars. Since a decline the dollar causes a rise in the price of oil and since these countries can immediately exchange received dollars for other currencies I question whether a halt to dollar-based trading would help them much. Still, these discussions are a sign of the times.

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

One can understand why countries are questioning the dollar's role. The United States is quickly going deep into debt. Check out this page from the US Congressional Budget Office: The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019. That page points to lots of budget documents. In particular, check out page 6 of this PDF document. The amount of government debt held by the public could hit multiples of yearly GDP. Doesn't sound like a country whose currency you should want to hold.

The United States can no longer take for granted the role of top dog in the world.

“The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar’s place as the world’s predominant reserve currency,” the World Bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, said in a speech at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. “Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options to the dollar.”

We've got too many financial and demographic problems building. An argument can be made that America peaked in the 1960s. The high school graduation rate in the United States peaked in the late 1960s. Since whites are a declining portion of the US population the graduation rate is going to decline much more than it has already. We are gradually losing the ability to maintain a first world nation.

In an NBER Working Paper published in 2007 7, we demonstrate why such different conclusions have been reached in previous studies. We use cleaner data, better methods, and a wide variety of data sources to estimate U.S. graduation rates. When comparable measures are used on comparable samples, a consensus can be reached across all data sources. After adjusting for multiple sources of bias and differences in sample construction, we establish that: 1) the U.S. high school graduation rate peaked at around 80 percent in the late 1960s and then declined by 4-5 percentage points; 2) the actual high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the 88 percent estimate; 3) about 65 percent of blacks and Hispanics leave school with a high school diploma, and minority graduation rates are still substantially below the rates for non-Hispanic whites. Contrary to estimates based on the status completion rate, we find no evidence of convergence in minority-majority graduation rate Exclusion of incarcerated populations from some measures greatly biases the reported high school graduation rate for blacks.

These trends are for persons born in the United States and exclude immigrants. The recent growth in unskilled migration to the United States further increases the proportion of unskilled Americans in the workforce, apart from the growth attributable to a rising high school dropout rate.

We no longer live in a nation that believes there are solutions. The American public has lost faith in higher spending on education as the solution.

In another sign of declining confidence, the public is less willing to spend more money on public education. In 1990, 70% of taxpayers favored spending "more on education," according to a University of Chicago poll. In the latest poll, only 46% favored a spending increase. That's a 15 percentage point drop from just one year ago when it was 61%.

But when it comes to actual dollars spent per pupil, Americans get the numbers wrong. Those polled by Education Next estimated that schools in their own districts spend a little more than $4,000 per pupil, on average. In fact, schools in those districts spend an average of $10,000.

Smart parents who are willing to do home schooling could do a lot better with that money.

By Randall Parker    2009 October 05 10:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2009 September 18 Friday
Alan Greenspan As John Galt

In a subthread on The Oil Drum about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged a poster named "Boby" makes a great comment about former Federal Reserve Chairman's long association with Ayn Rand: Alan Greenspan is the modern day John Galt.

In my opinion Alan Greenspan is(was)John Galt. In what way you ask? Again in my opinion, history will judge his policies as leading to the destruction of the financial system as we know it.

What a hoot.

By Randall Parker    2009 September 18 03:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2009 August 30 Sunday
US To Become World's Largest Banana Republic?

Richard Russell puts the growing US national debt in a perspective that rarely gets mention: as the debt increases a larger fraction of all tax revenue will go toward debt service. The big expansion of US government spending happening now will be matched by a contraction in government programs as more money goes toward bond interest payments.

When the primary trend of the stock market is "blocked," I look for the law of unintended consequences to become operative. We already know that one of the consequences of the Bernanke-Geithner-Obama battle to halt the bear market is a build-up in debt in the US beyond anything ever seen in human history before. Over the next ten years the US will be adding $9 trillion to its national debt. If this occurs, the US will end up being the "world's largest banana republic." The dollar will have lost its reserve status. And the word "bankruptcy" will have a new dimension.

The US national debt is now over $11 trillion dollars. The interest on our national debt is now $340 billion. This is about at 3.04% rate of interest. In ten years the Obama administration admits that they will add $9 trillion to the national debt. That would take it to $20 trillion. Let's say that by some miracle the interest on the national debt in 10 years will still be 3.09%. That would mean that the interest on the national debt would be $618 billion a year or over one billion a day. No nation can hold up in the face of those kinds of expenses. Either the dollar would collapse or interest rates would go through the roof.

The interest rate could of course go much higher. A surge in interest rates could cause an acute crisis as programs must be cut back and taxes raised to pay the higher interest costs. Foreigners will eventually become reluctant to buy huge amounts of US sovereign debt. At that point interest rates will go up up up.

I do not write posts about this topic with the hopes of persuading a substantial fraction of the US population to oppose this madness. My own platform here is too small to make much of a difference. Rather, I write to warn my readers of what is coming. Plan your own financial affairs and make peace with the fact that a country you might feel pride and emotional attachment for is headed for a long lasting financial crisis. Too many developing problems will reach critical mass for this to be avoided.

It seems prudent to me to invest some money abroad. Americans need to reduce their risks from holding assets in the US and reduce the extent of our personal reliance on the health of the US economy.

Paul Krugman tries to argue that we aren't in all that much trouble since the US had an even higher level of debt at the end of World War II. But as James Hamilton rightly points out, the WWII spending surge was of short duration whereas all the unfunded liabilities for old folks medical care and other programs are of long duration.

And whereas in 1945 Americans could reasonably look ahead to a huge decrease in military expenditures, in 2009 when I look ahead what I see is a looming increase in federal medical expenditures.

I also believe it is relevant to compare these deficits not just with GDP but also with current federal tax revenues. $1 trillion is approximately the total personal income tax receipts of the federal government in 2006. My preferred metric for what each additional trillion dollars would require from me personally is to take what I paid in federal income taxes in 2006 and double that amount. To pay off $9 trillion, I'd have to do that for 9 years.

Unfortunately, $9 trillion may not be the whole iceberg. Diane Lim Rogers highlights the Concord Coalition estimate that current policy would imply a cumulative $14.4 trillion deficit over the next ten years.

At the end of the 10 years even bigger unfunded liabilities await. That's the real problem. We aren't just on a spending bender for the next 10 years. Beyond that lies even bigger demands for government hand-outs. Plus, the government's interest rate payments on accumulated debt will compete with the expanding entitlements programs.

As the tax burden rises so will the opposition of the non-recipients of this largesse. The next 20 years is going to be a continual battle over tax increases and debt. On top of all this the economists are ignoring Peak Oil and America's decaying demographics. Therefore they grossly underestimate the size of the problem.

My advice: work harder now to save money because in the future the marginal tax rates will be a lot higher. Salt money away now. Save and work longer hours. Look for ways to start up small side ventures to bring in extra bucks.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 30 01:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (21)
2009 August 29 Saturday
No Eating By Police In Molenbeek Brussels During Ramadan

Thomas Lander reports on another example of appeasement of Muslims by a European government.

It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, that they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to “provoke” Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied – for everyone – in the Muslim areas of Brussels.

Whatever happened to the idea that non-Muslims should not be bound by a religion they haven't decided to believe in? Click thru and read the full article about how European police forces do many other things to appease Muslims.

In some European cities with large Muslim populations it is now possible to go on "Safari" in cities.

Some friends in Brussels organize one-hour trips through Molenbeek. They go in an inconspicuous car, driven by a local who knows the escape routes, and with a bodyguard. Otherwise the risk would be too great. These trips are called “safaris.” Similar “Eurabia safaris” are organized in other European cities. One of the highlights – though absolutely not the most dangerous one – of the safari in Rosengaard, the Muslim section of the Swedish city of Malmö, is a short stop, to give the visitor the opportunity to take a quick snapshot, in front of Malmö’s “Jihadskörkortsteori” (Jihad Driving School).

How cool is that? No need for long expensive intercontinental air flights to reach the wilds. You can put your life in danger much closer to home.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 29 01:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
The Inductivist Finds Low High School Teacher IQs

Ron Guhname (a pseudonym since he works in politically oppressive academia) The Inductivist finds that using answers on the General Social Survey the average high school teacher in America has an IQ of only 104. That is worse than I expected. I would have guessed between 110 and 115.

What is the typical teacher's IQ? Reader David made an interesting comment on the post about the breadwinner family that with homeschooling your child is taught by someone with a IQ higher than that of the typical teacher (not to mention having the right politics).

What is the level of intelligence of today's high school teacher? Looking at GSS data, I calculated mean IQs for the 1980s and 1990s combined (N = 107) and for this decade (N = 68) . For the early period, the average was 107. Now it's 104. I'm not impressed.

College education departments are less known for their academic standards than for their kooky theories. But I expected the need to pass courses outside of education majors would have put a floor on teacher IQs that would have produced a higher average than 104. But I haven't looked at the SAT and ACT data for applicants to state teachers colleges. Maybe 104 is plausible. Anyone got a source of data on this?

Ron's point about homeschooling is important. Smart moms can give their kids better educations than they'll receive at school.

These results provide another argument for more video lectures and downloadable textbooks for kids in grade school and high school. A private non-profit foundation looking for beneficial ways to spend its money could serve a useful service by hiring smart people to lecture to video cameras on grammar, history, and other topics aimed at grade school and high school students. Recorded high quality lectures would serve as useful tools for both home schooling moms and also for parents who want to provide a higher quality supplement for what Johnnie and Jill are learning at the local public school.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 29 12:55 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2009 August 24 Monday
Geman Authorities Appease Muslim Parents, Persecute Baptists

Writing at the Brussels Journal Thomas Landen describes how German authorities persecute ethnic German Baptists who do not want their children exposed to so many secular attitudes while the German authorities appease Muslim parents. Why? Landen says the authorities are afraid of the Muslims but not the Baptists.

In 1938, Germany outlawed homeschooling. The ban is one of the few bills introduced by Adolf Hitler that is still on the books in Germany today. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of ethnic German families from Southern Russia and Kazakhstan emigrated to Germany. Many of them were Baptists who had been fiercely persecuted in the Soviet Union for their religious beliefs.

Following their arrival in the West, the Baptists soon became unhappy with what their children were learning in the secular German public schools. They decided to homeschool their children. This move led to fierce repression by the German authorities who took the parents to court on charges of “Hochverrat und Volksverhetzung” (high treason and incitement of the people against the authorities). Some parents were imprisoned, some were robbed of their parental authority, some had their children taken away from them. Some children who sided with their parents, such as 16-year old Melissa Busekros in 2007, were placed in a psychiatric ward because, as the psychiatric evaluation report stated, she “considers herself healthy and her behavior fully normal” and, hence, needed “urgent help in a closed setting” where she would get “special education treatment to ensure schooling.” Some families, having fled from the Soviet Union at one time, fled again, from the Federal Republic of Germany to Austria, Britain, or other countries with a more lenient approach to homeschooling. Some parents, however, complied with ‘Hitler’s law’ and reluctantly sent their children to school.

These Baptist parents are trying to teach values that the German people as a whole could benefit from.

Muslim boys and girls encounter treatment more aimed at appeasing their parents.

While Baptist children are being forced to attend carnival parties at school, a 1993 German court ruling stated that “as long as separate sports classes for boys and girls are not being offered” Muslim girls do not have to participate in the obligatory sports sessions at school. The parents of the girls had explicitly invoked Koranic prescriptions to object to their daughters participating in the co-ed sports classes. Strangely enough, the German school authorities did not appeal the 1993 court ruling and failed to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Instead, they accepted the ruling, which has since become a legal precedent accepted by all school authorities.

Likewise, last May a court in Münster ruled that, though Muslim schoolgirls are obliged to participate in school swimming lessons, they are allowed to wear so-called “burqini” swimsuits that cover their entire body and hide their figures. Wearing the burqini has never been a “tradition” of the majority in Germany – a country with a long tradition of Freikörperkultur or nude sports activities. On the contrary, it is a practice which results from “the religious convictions of a minority” which is less indigenous to Germany than Christian Baptists. Nevertheless, the German school authorities have accepted the Munster ruling. They have not taken the case to the Supreme Court in order to have Muslim children forced to swim in regular swimsuits. Muslim children do not have to comply with the “contradictory tradition of a differently inclined majority” in the same way as Baptist children, whose parents are fined if they do not attend the school carnival.

Click thru and read how Landen describes fear as the underlying cause of the different treatment. I think that government should not let in immigrants that they fear.

On The Internal Muslim Threat To European Peoples about Christopher Caldwell's new book Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West . Watch the Monty Python skit there and pay especial attention to the getting hit on the head lessons at 4:00.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 24 07:28 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2009 August 06 Thursday
Federal Judges Order Massive California Prisoner Release

California prisons aren't considered healthy enough for prisoners. But prisoners released on the street aren't safe for Californians. Why doesn't that matter?

Citing an overcrowded prison system that has led to inadequate health care for inmates, a panel of federal judges has ordered California to reduce its prison population by 40,000 over the next two years. That reflects a roughly 27 percent cut from the current population of 150,000.

The New York Times, which has a PDF of the court order, reports that "judges said that reducing prison crowding in California was the only way to change what they called an unconstitutional prison health care system that causes one unnecessary death a week."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to transfer almost half that number to federal custody because they are illegal aliens. So almost 13% of California's prisoners are known illegal aliens. How many others are illegal aliens but not yet identified?

He has also proposed transferring as many as 19,000 illegal immigrant inmates to federal custody for deportation and updating grand-theft laws to keep pace with inflation, which would reduce felony convictions.

What the federal judges should have done: order construction of a formidable barrier along the US border with Mexico to keep out illegals. Then order real effective enforcement of immigration laws in California and the US Southwest. That would so lower the demand for prisons, police, taxpayer-subsidized health care, and schools for immigrants that the state of California would have more money and fewer prisoners. Soi the remaining prisoners would have more money to spend on their health and imprisonment.

California's prison population is already 12,000 below a 2006 peak in spite of a growing population.

One state senator says prisoners in California are not dying at noticeably high rates.

That has local state Sen. John Benoit upset.

"The mortality rate for prisoners in California is below the national average," says Benoit. "There's a strong argument that there does not exist a problem on the scale the judges have based their decision on."

I think Jerry Brown's time spent as mayor of Oakland has grounded him in the reality of criminals. Jerry Brown does not want the prisoners released.

Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he intended to appeal the ruling. “Eventually, we’re going to have to go to the Supreme Court because I think the California prisons are spending about $14,000 per year per inmate,” Mr. Brown said, adding that the changes the judges ordered would cost more money, which the state does not have.

Jerry wonders what happens when released criminals commit more crime. How about "4 strikes and you are out again"?

"The courts are ordering the state to come up with a plan to release all these prisoners, but the question is: Which prisoners? Release to what -- halfway houses, GPS monitoring? And what happens when they commit another crime -- do they come back? There's a lot that is not clear," Brown said.

By Randall Parker    2009 August 06 09:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2009 July 19 Sunday
John Derbyshire Champions Pessimism

If the Derb's analysis of America's future is correct (collapse in 2022) then he's going to show how being a pessimist is a winning strategy. Yes, pessimism could well turn out to be the road to success. Society's decay is no reason to be pessimistic about one's own prospects if one can bet correctly on a pessimistic future. What am I talking about? The Derb's book coming out in September: We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. Better order in advance in case the collapse comes early and book production stops in early October.

Without some political outlet for the conservative temperament, though, I doubt that American civilisation, or the US, can survive beyond (to take the date I actually use in my text) 2022. So I haven't been very seriously misrepresented.

DIA: Why 2022? What's going to cause this rather rapid downfall?

Mr Derbyshire: In my book I mention Andrei Amalrik's 1969 essay (later a book) "Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?" He was looking forward 15 years. This inspired me to write a column in 2007: "Will the United States Survive Until 2022?" also looking forward 15 years. That's all. I mention this in my book and follow up with some remarks.

Read the "Will the United States Survive Until 2022?" essay for an outline of the arguments he developed into a book. His points about declining solidarity and declining social capital sound correct to me. At the same time, some shocks are headed our way. The list of countries past peak oil production keeps getting longer. When the amount of oil produced starts declining every year the effects will make our current recession look like a boom time in comparison. The resulting economic decline is not by itself sufficient to cause the US to plunge into a civil war if the American people feel closely bound and trustful of each other. But there's the rub. Mutual trust and the sense of shared identity are going down.

We are suffering a declining ability to even discuss our problems frankly. I keep hoping that will change. So far it has only changed in parts of the blogosphere.

Since the book doesn't come out for a few months I haven't read it. I did add it to my Amazon wishlist about complex systems and resources. So if you want me to read it there it is to order.

Update: Suppose the United States really will break up some day. Racial divisions seem necessary to make that happen. Can racial strife really ramp up that much in 13 years that the US could break up in 2022? If so, how? Seems to me a stronger program of racial preferences would be key to making that happen. We might get that. All it would take is a couple of Republican retirements from the US Supreme Court while Obama is in office. Then another Democrat elected in 2016. By 2022 the legal environment could pretty much make equal protection a dead doctrine.

But that legal environment does not strike me as sufficient to cause a civil war. Whites will be a minority of youths and youths do most of the violence. Plus, whites would need a strongly believed intellectual justification. So far most are cowed into very weak opposition to racial preferences. They are afraid of getting called racist if they demand fair evaluation of individual performance rather than equal outcomes for groups (which of course is what the Left demands and claims anything short of that is racist). The liberal mythology still reins unchallenged unlike its right wing religious equivalent. If and when whites become less bashful about asserting their interests (rather like other ethnic groups) even then I expect responses to take forms other than civil war and break-up of the United States.

So what's a realistic scenario for civil war? I don't see one myself. I expect decay.

Update II: Okay, still exploring the whole collapse of the United States idea. Another way American society could fall apart is if some other ethnic group decides to go for an ethnic nation. Well, which group would that be? Hispanics? Blacks? Brazil hasn't split up. Why would the US? Granted, we may become a low trust society. But plenty of low trust societies haven't broken up into smaller countries. Might a Mexican secession movement develop in the southwest?

Then there's just plain collapse. Okay, can a financial collapse ala the Great Depression happen? That seems the most plausible. The US dollar could cease to be the global reserve currency and that transition could cause financial convulsions as foreigners try to convert dollars into goods and inflation skyrockets and the US government hits acute funding problems. Will that happen? That strikes me as the most plausible collapse scenario. It would be helped along a great deal by a long term downward trend in oil production. Could a financial crisis bring anarchy to some US cities?

By Randall Parker    2009 July 19 11:59 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (29)
2009 June 10 Wednesday
Roissy Sees Artistic Decay As A Mirror On Our Society

That's not just bad art you are looking at in art museums. Ugly art is a reflection of a sick culture.

Creepy crying babies, piles of baubles and trinkets, brains seeping out of eye sockets, distorted faces and renderings of mangled penises dangling from age-spotted bodies. If we agree that art is a mirror held up to the artist’s inner world, and by extension a larger mirror reflecting the culture in which the artist is immersed, and that its function is to tell us something about ourselves, then the message is loud and clear: We are an ugly culture crippled by ugly advocates whipping anyone who professes to see profound meaning in their ugliness with the barbed ends of a bloody cat-o’-nine tails, fat bloated hogs rooting in a trash heap of stupid, begging for more. All your mudpits are belong to us.

Maybe ugly art is celebrated so that more people can pretend to create valuable art. A sort of affirmative action for the ugly minds that lowers standards to let in more tasteless people.

By Randall Parker    2009 June 10 11:39 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2009 March 14 Saturday
Obama Assures China We Can Pay Our Debts

The Obama Administration feels the need to reassure the Chinese government that America can afford to keep borrowing. I say America is even too bigger to fail than Citigroup. The Federal Reserve will bail out the government by inflating the currency. We'll avoid a default while wiping out debt holders.

“There’s no safer investment in the world than in the United States,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday at a briefing in Washington.

Gibbs was responding to comments from Wen that China, the U.S. government’s largest creditor, is “worried” about its holdings of Treasuries and wants assurances that the investment is safe. “I request the U.S. to maintain its good credit, to honor its promises and to guarantee the safety of China’s assets,” Wen said at a press briefing in Beijing.

On the irony. That's like the drug dealer telling the druggie to stay healthy so that the drug dealer can keep making deals with the druggie. China is our enabler for irresponsibility.

In a nutshell: the Chinese government would ideally like the US to run trade surpluses with some other countries, run no government deficit, and otherwise conduct ourselves in ways that will ensure they can always sell their US Treasury bond holdings for a profit. But at the same time the Chinese government wants to buy large amounts of our bonds in order to depress the value of the Chinese currency versus the dollar so that Americans buy far more from China than Americans sell to China. China wants us to live beyond our means but to stay financially solvent.

As long as some countries want to buy large amounts of US Treasuries as a safe haven holding the US will run a trade deficit and go further into debt to other governments and central banks.

The market has decided that the US government is becoming less able to handle its debt long term.

The spreads on credit-default swaps for U.S. government debt jumped to 97 basis points Tuesday, nearly seven times higher than a year ago and 60% higher than the end of last year, to a level roughly in line with those of France, according to data supplied by Markit. The spreads also hit a record last week.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all got elected by the American people. Obviously we aren't showing signs of prudence in choosing elected officials for high office. This trend looks set to continue. So the higher insurance costs on US government debt seem a rational reaction on the part of the markets. One problem though: Which seller of debt default insurance for US sovereign government debt could possibly afford to pay off on default claims should the US government some day actually default?

By Randall Parker    2009 March 14 05:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
Support For Free Speech Will Decline In America

Using GSS data Audacious Epigone finds that in America whites are the ethnic group which most strongly supports free speech. Since whites are a declining portion of the American population (on course to lose majority status) support for free speech is declining and will continue do so.

These are the wages of multiculturalism.

By Randall Parker    2009 March 14 03:13 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2009 February 10 Tuesday
Federal Judges Want 40% Cut In California Prison Population

Time to move.

(CNN) -- Federal judges tentatively ruled on Monday that California must reduce the number of inmates in its overcrowded prison system by up to 40 percent to stop a constitutional violation of prisoners' rights.

This is an erroneous statement:

"Overcrowding is the primary cause of the unconstitutional conditions that have been found to exist in the California prisons," the court concluded.

No, immigration is the primary cause of the overcrowding. A less criminal and smarter population could afford to build more prisons even as fewer people would become criminals.

California's ongoing fiscal crisis makes maintaining the prison population very difficult. A court order to cut overcrowding would put a lot of criminals out on the street.

Former governor Moonbeam, perhaps chastened by his experience as Mayor of Oakland, comes down on the side of sanity.

The California attorney general, Jerry Brown, vowed to appeal the ruling.

“This order, the latest intrusion by the federal judiciary into California’s prison system, is a blunt instrument that does not recognize the imperatives of public safety, nor the challenges of incarcerating criminals, many of whom are deeply disturbed,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.

Deeply disturbed? How about dangerous and evil? I think we need more morally absolutist Mormons on the federal bench for California.

By Randall Parker    2009 February 10 12:31 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2009 January 31 Saturday
Woman With 6 Kids Gives Birth To Octuplets From IVF

A single woman in Whittier California obsessed with babies gave birth to octuplets on top of the 6 kids she has already.

The California woman who gave birth to octuplets on Monday, although once married, seems to have had all 14 of her kids out of wedlock -- and various public records raise questions about the family's ability to support them.

I do not buy the argument that people have an unlimited right to make babies. We pay for bad reproductive decisions of others for decades.

The woman already had 6 kids! She has no right to burden the rest of us in this way. We taxpayers face big bills for her decisions.

No matter what your income, giving birth and caring for octuplets is an expensive proposition. The infants' delivery was performed by a team of 46 doctors, nurses and surgical assistants stationed in four delivery rooms at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center in Bellflower, Calif., and it likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The births were extremely expensive. Then comes the neonatal intensive care at a few thousand dollars per day per baby.

All these premature babies which competed for limited nutrients in the womb will probably suffer lifelong learning disabilities. We will pay even more for decades to come. Special schooling, kids who grow up to be low-performing in the job market - assuming they can even work.

"If she went to a fertility clinic, there's wide consensus from every single ethicist and fertility specialist that this was irresponsible and unethical to implant that many embryos," said M. Sara Rosenthal, bioethicist at the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine. "This is an outrageous situation that should not happen."

Doctors say that giving birth to extreme multiples comes with tremendous risks for both the mother and the babies. Risks for the children include bleeding in the brain, intestinal problems, developmental delays and lifelong learning disabilities.

Enough already.

Fertility clinic operator Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg is clearly part of the problem.

Large multiple births "are presented on TV shows as a 'Brady Bunch' moment. They're not," fumed Arthur Caplan, bioethics chairman at the University of Pennsylvania. He noted the serious and sometimes lethal complications and crushing medical costs that often come with high-multiple births.

But Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who has fertility clinics in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, countered: "Who am I to say that six is the limit? There are people who like to have big families."

Mom tried to declare bankruptcy in March 2008.

The mother of the octuplets lives with her parents in a modest, single-story home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb of about 85,000. Children's bicycles, a pink car and a wagon were scattered in the yard and driveway.

On Thursday night, the children's grandfather came to the door and angrily told reporters to leave the property.

Court records show Suleman filed for bankruptcy last March, but after she failed to make required payments and appear at a creditors' meeting, the case was dismissed. She reported liabilities of $981,371, mostly money owed on two houses she owns in Whittier.

Update: Steve Sailer has lots more details about the family. Get this: one of the existing 6 children is autistic. So mom and grandmom already have a big burden just caring for the existing brood.

By Randall Parker    2009 January 31 12:10 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2008 December 27 Saturday
Decline Of United States Will Offer Advantages

Chris Ayers, an Englishman stationed in Los Angeles for the Times of London, sees many advantages to loss of top position in rankings of nations.

Do Tehranis and Muscovites blame Britain for the culture of mindless self-gratification that brought down the global economy? Of course not. They blame America -- even though Britain is arguably the more guilty party, what with its foreign-debt-to-GDP ratio standing at an unconscionable (and, really, quite embarrassing) 490%, as opposed to the United States' puritanical 89% (according to the 2007 "purchasing power parity" GDP and external debt figures supplied by the CIA World Factbook).

The fact is that when you're No. 1, you always get blamed for everything. When you're No. 3, or No. 5 -- or No. 135 -- you can put your hands in your pockets and whistle tunelessly with a "Who, me?" look on your face, and no one ever asks any questions.

Take Slovakia. Five years ago, Slovakia invaded Iraq. Admittedly, it did this with the help of a few other countries. But still, does Slovakia ever get the blame for all the trouble that has gone down over there since then?

Nope.

I think the biggest relief will come when I do not have to worry so much about a future President of the United States making global mistakes. If only George W. Bush had gotten elected in, say, 2080 he couldn't have done much internationally with his position. But no. He had to have a powerful military at his disposal.

Ayers sees a booming business for any surviving US newspapers to sell condescending tripe to American readers eager to look down on peoples more powerful than them.

The beleaguered American newspaper industry, for example, might very well be able to profit immensely by simply dispatching its most snide and ironically detached correspondents to the new capitals of world power, from which they will be able to report with maximum condescension about the hilarious earnestness of the locals.

Well, if you are into condescension the future will seem culturally more enriching. Me, I think I'll shift to reading news written by the local writers of these future centers of power.

By Randall Parker    2008 December 27 10:08 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2008 December 21 Sunday
South Africa Becomes Net Food Importer

The democratically elected government of South Africa is forcing white farm owners to sell to the government which turns large white-run farms into many small black-run farms. One result is that food production is dropping.

The South African government vowed to carefully investigate land claims and provide fair compensation to white farmers. Many of the country's 40,000 white farmers willingly sold their property.

Even so, the effect on the country's agricultural economy has not been overwhelmingly positive. Whereas the global trend is toward larger, more commercially successful farms, South Africa is breaking many of its large farms into smaller, less economically efficient pieces to meet the claims of new black farmers.

Partly as a result, South Africa in the last year has gone from a net exporter of food to a net importer. And, in another worrying trend, some of the whites who sold their farms have been recruited by other African countries, where their skills are much in demand. Now once-impoverished countries such as Mozambique are becoming more self-sufficient -- and taking a share of South Africa's export market.

Since the trend of pushing whites off the farms will continue South Africa's food production will decline and the parallels to Zimbabwe will increase. Since the more talented younger whites mostly have left or will leave the real crunch is going to come as the older skilled whites get too old to work and die off.

Zimbabwe shows where South Africa could end up.

Zimbabwe's farms are ruined, its economy has evaporated, and its people have begun to starve and die of cholera. What better time to call a feast? According to reports in Zimbabwe's domestic press on Thursday, President Robert Mugabe and delegates to the annual conference of his ruling Zanu-PF Party will chomp their way through 124 cattle, 81 goats and 18 pigs over the course of their deliberations in the central town of Bindura.

South Africa starts from a higher position and therefore has further to fall.

By Randall Parker    2008 December 21 10:53 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2008 November 26 Wednesday
Why We Are Pussies About The Pirates?

Bret Stephens looks at the fairly lame response of various nations to the East African pirates.

A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.

Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.

What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.

I think problems should be solved. Courses of action should be considered in light of the question of how to most quickly and easily to solve a problem. This attitude puts me at odds with how the people who run governments reason about so many problems.

Some people point to Thomas Jefferson's response to the Barbary Pirates as an example of a more uncompromising and violent response to pirates. But a careful reading of that history finds that before and at the end of the war Jefferson's government consented to pay the pirates. Now, Jefferson was much more willing to use military force. But he was willing to negotiate with them.

We could stop piracy pretty quickly by flagging all cargo ships in the region with American flags, refusing negotiation, and killing all pirates. We could even stop piracy with a less extreme response which still involves taking back all hijacked ships by force with no more ransoms while keeping captured pirates alive. But the West has grown soft and so the piracy will continue.

In the 18th century the margin for survival was much lower. Ships' captains could not afford the risk (and probably not even the food) of keeping captured pirates on board. A weak new United States had little in the way of a navy and so was tempted by the idea of paying protection payments to the Muslim rulers of North Africa.

Curiously, one motive for Jefferson's war against the Barbary Pirates is that he thought victorious war would be cheaper than tribute. Jefferson fought war in order to reduce the size of government. What a different era he lived in.

By Randall Parker    2008 November 26 10:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2008 November 24 Monday
Zimbabwe Still Going Down

One wonders just how much worse Zimbabwe can get. Will it keep going down until the government collapses or a civil war starts? Will it just go down further and stay there? What's the end game? A cholera outbreak adds to the mounting woes of the formerly well-governed Rhodesia.

The situation in Zimbabwe may soon "implode" as a cholera outbreak spreads and basic services collapse, South African leaders and a group of international statesmen warned yesterday.

On the eve of talks in South Africa between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and opposition rivals, South African leaders sharply upgraded their crisis assessment and warned of Zimbabwe's imminent collapse if urgent action was not taken.

These leaders see urgent action as coming in the form of Western economic aid.

Of those who managed to get admitted to hospitals 300 died of cholera. The real number dead is suspected of being 4 times more.

There is sewage flowing in the streets, endless mounds of rubbish, a broken water supply – and a cholera epidemic that has Zimbabwe’s Health Minister admitting that he is scared.

This is the grim picture that a team of international statesmen would have seen in this suburb of the capital, had they not been barred from Zimbabwe. It is a picture common all over the country, with the World Health Organisation saying that by late last week about 300 people had died from cholera and 6,000 had been infected. Médecins Sans Frontières, the international health charity, estimates that 1.4 million people are at risk.

I do not see how thousands of people dying from cholera are enough to cause the collapse of Zimbabwe.

Kofi Annan says hundreds of millions of dollar are needed to buy food and other basics. I say spend a fraction of that money on mercenaries who get a huge cash reward for wiping out the rulers of Zimbabwe.

Fellow Elder and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan added that there was a $140m shortfall between the aid provided by the international community and what was required.

The international aid community would need to find $550m next year, he said.

If the people who claim to care a great deal about the suffering in Zimbabwe wanted to drastically reduce that suffering they'd advocate for a quick violent jab at the top of the Zimbabwe government. Cut off the head. Replace it with something better. Mind you, better won't be great. Better won't even be good. Better will just be less bad.

The pirates off of Somalia remind me of Zimbabwe. But the pirates seem worse. One can say that Zimbabwe isn't our problem. It is the problem of the Zimbabweans. But the high seas are needed for commerce. Therefore lawlessness on the high seas simply shouldn't be tolerated at all. The tolerance shown toward Robert Mugabe shouldn't be shown toward ship hijackers.

By Randall Parker    2008 November 24 08:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2008 October 12 Sunday
Bad Signs In South Africa

Glad I'm not in South Africa.

The past year has been especially unnerving, with one bleak event after another, and it is more than acidic politics that have soured the national mood. Economic growth slowed; prices shot up. Xenophobic riots broke out in several cities, with mobs killing dozens of impoverished foreigners and chasing thousands more from their tumbledown homes.

The country’s power company unfathomably ran out of electricity and rationed supply. Gone was the conceit that South Africa was the one place on the continent immune to such incompetence. The rich purchased generators; the poor muddled through with kerosene and paraffin.

Other grievances were ruefully familiar. South Africa has one of the worst crime rates. But more alarming than the quantity of lawbreaking is the cruelty. Robberies are often accompanied by appalling violence, and people here one-up each other with tales of scalding and shooting and slicing and garroting.

The poor apply padlocks in defense. The rich surround their homes with concrete and barbed wire — and there are suggestions that more are simply fleeing the country.

“On our street alone, just that one small street, three of the husbands in families were killed in carjackings or robberies,” said Antony McKechnie, an electrical engineer who a month ago moved to New Zealand. “If we had stayed and something had happened to any of our three children, we would never be able to forgive ourselves.”

The skilled whites are more able to leave than the unskilled whites. So fleeing people like Mr. McKechnie take skills with them disproportionately for their numbers.

Recent South African political leaders have opted not to compete with Nelson Mandela for saintliness awards.

Mr. Mbeki was president for nine years, and his image slowly warped from someone aloof but well intentioned to someone secretive and conniving. During the past year, he went to extraordinary lengths to protect his police commissioner, accused of shopping with mobsters in an expensive haberdashery and permitting them to pick up the tab.

Mr. Mbeki’s political nemesis is Mr. Zuma, whom he once fired as deputy president and who has image problems of his own. In 2006, he was tried on rape charges and acquitted, testifying that his accuser had encouraged him by wearing a short skirt and sitting provocatively. As a Zulu man, he said, he was duty-bound to oblige her. He then showered, as he described it, to “minimize the risk” of contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

The ratio of blacks to whites has risen from 6.625 to 8.55 since 1996.

Since 1996, the black population has risen to a projected 38.5 million from 31.8 million, according to government statistics. The white population has dropped to a projected 4.5 million from 4.8 million.

John Loos, an economist at First National Bank of South Africa, who tracks the reasons given by people who sell homes in white suburban markets, said 9 percent cited emigration in the last quarter of 2007. In the first quarter of 2008, the number rose to 12 percent; in the second quarter it reached 18 percent.

These numbers suggest that the white flight is accelerating dramatically. Maybe we can't trust the official figures on the size of white flight. Even a guy who wants to look on the bright side admits almost everyone who took an accounting course with him have since fled.

Since May, one of the nation’s best-selling books has been a pep talk titled “Don’t Panic!” by a businessman, Alan Knott-Craig. Aimed primarily at downhearted white people, the book laments the “tsunami of negativity” and discourages those packing for Perth.

Mr. Knott-Craig, 31, said in an interview that 67 of his 72 classmates in an accounting course had emigrated.

Another source of data claims the white flight since 1995 is closer to 20% of the whites.

The South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, guesses that 800,000 or more whites have emigrated since 1995, out of the 4m-plus who were there when apartheid formally ended the year before. Robert Crawford, a research fellow at King’s College in London, reckons that around 550,000 South Africans live in Britain alone. Not all of South Africa’s émigrés are white: skilled blacks from South Africa can be found in jobs and places as various as banking in New York and nursing in the Persian Gulf. But most are white—and thanks to the legacy of apartheid the remaining whites, though only about 9% of the population, are still South Africa’s richest and best-trained people.

Talk about “white flight” does not go down well. Officials are quick to claim that there is nothing white about it. A recent survey by FutureFact, a polling organisation, found that the desire to emigrate is pretty even across races: last year, 42% of Coloured (mixed-race) South Africans, 38% of blacks and 30% of those of Indian descent were thinking of leaving, compared with 41% of whites. This is a big leap from 2000, when the numbers were 12%, 18%, 26% and 22% respectively. But it is the whites, by and large, who have the money, skills, contacts and sometimes passports they need to start a life outside—and who leave the bigger skills and tax gap behind.

The murder rate in South Africa is almost an order of magnitude higher than that in the US.

Violent crime is undoubtedly the biggest single driver of emigration, the one factor cited by all races and across all professions when people are asked why they want to go. Police figures put the murder rate in 2007-08 at more than 38 per 100,000 and rape at more than 75 per 100,000. This marks a big fall over the past several years, but is still astronomical by international standards (the murder rate was 5.6 per 100,000 in the United States last year). It has reached the point where most people say they have either been victims of violent crime themselves or know friends or relatives who have been victims. Typically, it is a break-in, carjacking, robbery or murder close to home that clinches a family’s long mulled-over decision to leave.

The skills shortage is worsening.

On Mr Abedian’s reckoning, about half a million posts are vacant in government service alone because too few South Africans have the skills these jobs demand. Not a single department, he says, has its full complement of professionals. Local municipalities and public hospitals are also desperately short of trained people. Dentists are “as scarce as chicken’s teeth” and young doctors demoralised by the low standards of hospital administration. Last May Azar Jammine, an independent economist, told a Johannesburg conference on the growing skills shortage that more than 25,000 teachers were leaving the profession every year and only 7,000 entering.

The white flight numbers will translate into an even bigger white population drop since the ones leaving are at reproductive age.

“Among my age group the chorus is absolutely insistent,” said Geoff Landsman, 25, a civil engineer. “You must go abroad. If at all possible equip yourself with a foreign passport. I have a Dutch one. I’ll leave by Christmas. I’m not saying I’ll never come back but I want to see if I can cut it abroad.”

Anna Davids, 62, an ophthalmologist, lamented: “There’s a whole generation missing. Look around. Where are the young white couples aged 25-45? At least two-thirds of them are gone.”

She said that affirmative action plans discouraged young whites from staying. “Everything’s loaded against young whites, no matter how well qualified they are.”

The skills shortage will become much more acute when the older skilled workers who are still there retire. The departure of the younger skilled workers will leave an economy unable to maintain all the most complex pieces.

By Randall Parker    2008 October 12 03:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2008 September 27 Saturday
Parents Abandoning Children At Nebraska Hospitals

Nebraska legislators (in their unicameral legislature btw) passed a law in July which allows parents to abandon their kids at a hospital without fear of prosecution. The legislators might have had in mind to allow babies to be given up for adoption. But they just said "child" in the law and now parents are abandoning children up the age of 17.

Between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday, three fathers walked into two hospitals in Omaha and abandoned their children. One left nine siblings, ages 1 to 17.

The men, unless proven to have abused the kids, won't face prosecution under a new Nebraska law that is unique in the nation. The law allows parents to leave a child at a licensed hospital without explaining why.

The guy didn't abandon his 18 year old because she's already an adult. His wife wouldn't be dead if he didn't knock her up 10 times.

Gary Staton went to Creighton University Medical Center to surrender his five sons and four of his daughters, who ranged in age from 1 to 17. He did not bring his oldest daughter, 18.

Staton's wife died in early 2007, shortly after giving birth to their 10th child. The man told police he hasn't worked since July and was struggling to make ends meet.

"I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone. What was I going to do?" Staton said to Omaha television station KETV. "We raised them together. I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn't take care of them."

Having 10 kids in the first place was irresponsible.

What can be done about this? Do we just have to pay to take care of all the children of the poor and downtrodden? A Louisiana state legislator would like to offer money to poor people to get sterilized.

Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.

"We're on a train headed to the future and there's a bridge out, " LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends. "And nobody wants to talk about it."

Half Sigma says "I don't understand why John LaBruzzo is evil".

My own less ambitious proposal: Offer teenagers and poor women cash for using Norplant. This doesn't permanently remove the option of expanding the lower class. But it at least delays problems and will reduce the size of the lower class.

Reduced reproduction by drug addicts seems like the best place to start. Barbara Harris pays drug addicts to get sterilized or use birth control. She decided to do this after adopting 4 children of the same crack-head mother.

Update: The kids who are getting dropped off at Nebraska hospitals are violent, schizophrenic, and otherwise messed up. Many are cared for by grandparents, aunts, and other non-immediate relatives. A violent 11 year old.

Who: 11-year-old boy

City: Omaha

Reason: violent, destructive

Who used law: grandmother who adopted him

The 11-year-old's destructive streak still scars the grandmother's house.

A violent 15 year old.

Who: 15-year-old boy

City: Lincoln

Reason: disobedience, anger problems, possible gang involvement

Who used law: aunt with custody

He punched holes in walls of his aunt's house.

At home, he was increasingly disobedient. He would yell, throw things, break doors, punch holes in walls.

At school, he would mock teachers, throw things, kick over desks and blame others. School staff called almost daily, several times to say he was being suspended again.

He'd taken to wearing gang-related clothing, flashing gang signs and hanging around with the wrong sort of friends. Over the summer, he had an unexplained amount of money.

Schizophrenia and bipolar.

Who: 13-year-old girl

City: Omaha

Reason: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, behavior problems

Who used law: great-aunt who had adopted her

A suicidal drug abusing 15 year old and a mentally ill homicidal 11 year old were also dropped off. Sounds like this law is useful. These kids belong in mental institutions, not in neighborhoods and local schools.

It took this legislative mistake to bring to light the failures of the Nebraska social programs to deal with severely messed up kids.

Floyd Gulley fumed as a courtroom filled with strangers discussed what to do with his friend's 11-year-old grandson.

The friend had left the boy Sept. 13 at an Omaha hospital under the state's new safe haven law, saying she was unable to handle the boy's growing violence, threats and tantrums.

During a 15-minute hearing, the judge, lawyers and caseworkers agreed the boy needed several evaluations to determine his psychiatric, neurological and developmental problems and that he needed specialized therapy.

"Where were these people before?" Gulley asked after Wednesday's hearing.

"How many kids are we going to drop off before we do anything?" said Gulley, who has served on a local foster care review board. "This was a wake-up call. We need to wake up and do something about these kids."

By Randall Parker    2008 September 27 03:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (54)
2008 August 10 Sunday
East Hampton NY Symbolizes American Decay

A town with a huge concentration of wealthy summer residents is deeply in debt. Just like America.

East Hampton, one of the main towns on the eastern end of Long Island that make up the Hamptons, is burdened with a deficit that could exceed $12 million. And that has become a rich source of irony, given the community's spectacular wealth and its concentration of Wall Street money-management talent.

The United States as a whole has a deficit of about a half trillion dollars.

East Hampton has a demographic profile that billionaires love. Half the workers are illegal immigrants below the poverty line. The wealthy are getting domestic help as cheap as it can come within the borders of America.

East Hampton — which includes such hamlets as Montauk and Amangansett and parts of Sag Harbor — has about 21,000 year-round residents, but its population can swell to 80,000 or 90,000 in the summer, when the haves and the have-mores show up. "There really are two Hamptons," said McGintee's predecessor, Jay Schneiderman. "The disparity between rich and poor is probably unmatched anywhere in the world. You have the heads of multinational corporations, billionaires, but of the year-round population, half the work force are undocumented immigrants living below the poverty level."

This is the America of our future unless we stop the influx of Third World immigrants and unless we stop running massive budget and trade deficits.

By Randall Parker    2008 August 10 04:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2008 July 16 Wednesday
Zimbabwe Inflation 2.2 Million Percent

In February 2008 the inflation rate on the Zimbabwean dollar was only a very sedate 165,000%. But now the inflation rate has finally taken a turn for the worse.

After months of silence on the inflation rate, central bank governor Gideon Gono let slip it was well into seven figures as he rejected suggestions by a leading economist that it was in reality many times higher.

"Statistics provided by the CSO (central statistical office) indicate that it is now at 2.2 (million percent)," Gono said in a brief address in Harare ahead of a speech by Mugabe, the country's 84-year-old president.

If humanitarians sincerely want to help Africa they should donate to create a prize for any group that overthrows Robert Mugabe's government.

The Zimbabwean government tortures and kills whites who try to keep their farms.

It was a frigid June night at Pickstone Mine in Zimbabwe when 67-year-old Angela Campbell -- soaking wet, her arm broken and a gun to her head -- signed a document vowing to give up the fight for her family's farm.

The kidnappers demanding her signature at gunpoint were "war veterans" from President Robert Mugabe's heyday as a liberation hero, and they made it clear that her refusal would mean more beatings.

Zimbabwe signed a treaty that gives these white farmers standing to try to get their farms back by appealing to a multi-national court that meets in Namibia. Some farmers are trying to get this court to order the return of their farms.

Jeffrey Gauntlett, who represented the Zimbabwean farmers at the hearing in the Namibian capital Windhoek, told the five judges of the Southern African Development Community tribunal the expropriations were unconstitutional, discriminatory and contravened the 14-nation bloc's founding treaty.

But the Zimbabwean government could ignore this court's decision or just pretend to respect it. If the farmers return they could easily be killed and the Zimbabwean government could not lift a finger to identify who did it.

Update: It turns out to be hard to measure such a high inflation rate because of sampling problems. One needs to measure many prices at the same moment or at least to measure the exact second when a price is recorded in a transaction. The report above looks already obsolete. The inflation rate in June was probably 10 to 15 million percent. By the end of July Robertson thinks it could hit 50 million percent.

One of Zimbabwe's most respected economists, John Robertson, said that while inflation was probably about 2m% in May, it soared again last month. "I think the June figure is more likely to be 10m% and it could turn out 15m%," he said.

Can the Zimbabwean currency hit a bilion percent inflation? I see a real problem where business will need to migrate to be next to the printing presses in order to get the highest prices possible.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 16 08:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2008 June 19 Thursday
High School Girls In Pact To Get Pregnant?

This begs the question: Should parents have the legal right to implant Norplant contraceptives in their under 18 daughters?

BOSTON — At least 17 girls at the public high school in the seaside town of Gloucester, Mass., are expecting babies, and a Time magazine report says nearly half became pregnant after making a pact to do so and raise the children together.

Local officials reached Thursday would not confirm the existence of such a pact but acknowledged that many of the 17 pregnancies — a total four times as many as last school year at the 1,200-student school — had been intentional.

In an earlier age these girls would have feared the shame of unwed pregnancy. In an earlier age adults would have condemned them from a position of confidence in their moral authority.

Maybe by getting pregnant as a group these Massachusetts girls can compete with Jamie Lynn Spears for fame.

Jamie Lynn Spears, the TV actress and sister of the singer Britney Spears, sent the celebrity gossip machinery into a lather last December when, at the age of 16, she confirmed to the world that “I’m pregnant.” Today, she’s rocketing to the top of Google’s search charts with the arrival, reported initially by People magazine, of Maddie Briann, weighing in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces. (The child presumably has a surname, but it isn’t mentioned in the report.)

By Randall Parker    2008 June 19 10:48 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
2008 April 02 Wednesday
Austria To Prosecute Susanne Winter For Criticizing Islam

In Austria the patriots are treated as criminals.

The Austrian authorities have indicted politician Susanne Winter on charges of incitement and degradation of religious symbols and religious agitation. This offence carries a maximum sentence of two years. Last January, Ms Winter said that the prophet Muhammad was “a child molester” because he had married a six-year-old girl. She also said he was “a warlord” who had written the Koran during “epileptic fits.”

The politician, a member of the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ, an anti-immigration party which is in opposition, added that Islam is “a totalitarian system of domination that should be cast back to its birthplace on the other side of the Mediterranean.” She also warned for “a Muslim immigration tsunami,” saying that “in 20 or 30 years, half the population of Austria will be Muslim” if the present immigration policies continue.

Following her remarks, Muslim extremists threatened to kill Susanne Winter and she was placed under police protection. Today, the Justice Department in Vienna announced that Ms Winter will be charged with “incitement and degradation of religious symbols” (Verhetzung und Herabwürdigung religiöser Symbole). If convicted she may have to serve up to two years in jail for her opinions.

Well, what did she say that was inaccurate? 20-30 years before the Muslims take over Austria seems premature. But other than that what incorrect statement did she make?

By Randall Parker    2008 April 02 09:34 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2008 February 09 Saturday
Americans Embrace Heroes Of Suffering Over Those Of Accomplishment

Steve Sailer reports an observation by Gregory Cochran that heroes of suffering have been elevated over heroes of accomplishment.

Greg Cochran points out a profound change in American culture: from celebrating and promoting heroes of accomplishment to doing the same for heroes of suffering. Consider two war heroes-turned politicians. Dwight Eisenhower got the 1952 GOP nomination because of his accomplishments even though he didn't suffer much for them -- he was never in combat in his life. But organizing D-Day and managing the Anglo-American coalition suggested he had what it takes to perform well the day-to-day work of the Presidency during a particularly scary part of the Cold War. In contrast, John McCain is likely to get the 2008 GOP nomination in large measure because of his tremendous suffering during the Vietnam War, although he never accomplished all that much in the military.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are granted Honorary Heroes of Suffering status because of their being non-white males. Moreover, Hillary attained Presidential Timberhood by suffering through her husband's public infidelity.

Similarly, Obama's autobiography is pure emo rock: Yes, I know, sitting on the beach in Hawaii smoking dope may sound like a pretty soft life to you, but it was hell to me because of my"story of race and inheritance." The drugs were just “something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind . . .”

Why this change? One hypothesis: The most accomplished no longer serve as role models because they are too unlike the masses. The most accomplished come from higher social classes and the masses can't identify with their accomplishments. Whereas the masses can identify with those who suffer and imagine themselves as great heroes of suffering. In an earlier era people from very modest backgrounds such as Henry Ford (who grew up in a small farm house) and Thomas Edison achieved great works. Common folks could point at the most accomplished and tell their kids they too can grow up to achieve at the same level. But nowadays the most accomplished are much more likely to come from elite backgrounds (e.g. Ivy League educations and parents who are high status professionals or executives) that remind the masses that the highest levels of accomplishment are not open to most of them.

Another hypothesis: Leftists have discredited real accomplishment. Decades of leftist politics have aimed at discrediting accomplishment as just exploitation by capitalists at the expense of the masses. The very idea of heroes of accomplishment has become suspect as those most accomplished in business are seen as victimizers in proportion to their accomplishments. People who can lay a claim to the status of sufferers then become recognized as heroes who supposedly prevailed against those who rise to the top in business and in other important institutions.

Still another hypothesis: Histories of suffering suggest greater feelings of empathy for suffering by others. This development could be a part of the feminization of politics. Women want to see that potential leaders have empathy. Histories of past suffering could be seen as suggesting a greater capacity to recognize and respond to suffering in others. Therefore people who claim to have suffered seem better bets to count on to be guided by feelings of empathy and to try to help lower status sufferers.

By Randall Parker    2008 February 09 09:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (12)
2008 January 06 Sunday
George MacDonald Fraser On Political Correctness

Successful British novelist and screenplay writer George MacDonald Fraser (Flashman, Octopussy, The Three Musketeers) has recently died of cancer at age 82. He wrote a final essay on the evils of political correctness and Fraser argues that the politically correct have taken freedom of speech from themselves and the rest of us.

It's the present generation with their permissive society, their anything-goes philosophy, and their generally laid-back, inyerface attitude I feel sorry for.

They regard themselves as a completely liberated society when in fact they are less free than any generation since the Middle Ages.

Indeed, there may never have been such an enslaved generation, in thrall to hang-ups, taboos, restrictions and oppressions unknown to their ancestors (to say nothing of being neck-deep in debt, thanks to a moneylender's economy).

Regarding the moneylender's economy: Indebtedness used to be considered a thing to avoid and minimize. Now liberal politicians argue that the poor and the blacks can't be discriminated against in access to credit. If such discrimination existed it did people a favor and prevented debacles like the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Today the ability to be irresponsible in one's personal economic affairs is better protected than the right to speak one's mind.

We were freer by far 50 years ago - yes, even with conscription, censorship, direction of labour, rationing, and shortages of everything that nowadays is regarded as essential to enjoyment.

We still had liberty beyond modern understanding because we had other freedoms, the really important ones, that are denied to the youth of today.

We could say what we liked; they can't. We were not subject to the aggressive pressure of special interest minority groups; they are. We had no worries about race or sexual orientation; they have. We could, and did, differ from fashionable opinion with impunity, and would have laughed PC to scorn, had our society been weak and stupid enough to let it exist.

Basically, the Left holds correct leftist thinking as more important than freedom of speech. We need to undo this damage done.

Read the whole thing. He makes some excellent points. I'll make another one: People let themselves become unfree. They were too polite or too cowardly to challenge the forces of leftist dogma. Why did the forces of political correctness win? Also, will political correctness stay ascendant? Or will the rise of a real science of human nature tear it to shreds?

By Randall Parker    2008 January 06 09:51 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (30)
2007 December 23 Sunday
Only RINOs Available To Run As Republican Presidential Candidates?

Scott Rasmussen finds a large portion of Republican voters see only moderates and liberals running as Republican candidates for President.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of Republican voters see Rudy Giuliani as politically moderate or liberal. Fifty-nine percent (59%) say the same about John McCain while 43% hold that view of Mitt Romney. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% now see Mike Huckabee as moderate or liberal and 39% see Fred Thompson in that manner. (see crosstabs)

For all the candidates except John McCain, those figures are higher than a month ago.

Fred has managed to show up on the far right of that pack. Life is full of giggles if you just know where to look. Remember Ronald Reagan? He really came across like a Republican. No branding problems. These guys running now all seem like watered down people who are just a bit too conservative to run as Democrats. So they run as Republicans. Couldn't a real conservative run? Aren't there any left?

If a real conservative jumped in the race I think there's a big opening even at this late date. The Republican base is thoroughly disgruntled with the whole lot of those running.

Meanwhile the Democrats can choose between Hillary and Obama or a few guys whose names I tend to forget. Who is that other unmemorable Democrat guy aside from Chris Dodd? There's another Democrat guy running from some small Eastern state right?

By Randall Parker    2007 December 23 10:16 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2007 November 13 Tuesday
Number Of Poorest In South Africa Doubles

The end of apartheid sped up the rate of change in South Africa.

The number of South Africans living on less than $1 a day has more than doubled in a decade since shortly after the end of apartheid.

The South African Institute of Race Relations survey said 4.2m people were living on $1 a day in 2005.

This is up from 1.9m in 1996, two years after the first all-race elections.

White flight is draining South Africa of skilled managers and technical workers. Poor people who previously would have been managed by more able bosses are managed by less skilled bosses when they have a job. Crime is causing a lot of damage for those who stay. More resources get spent on security, shifting money away from more productive uses. Plus, lots of transactions aren't even attempted because the risks are too great. Want to leave home and go shopping? Well, the risks of getting robbed or beaten or killed reduce the willingness to go shopping or make sales calls or repair visits.

The criminals are so brazen that some even attack nuclear facilities.

A brazen attack by four gunmen on the Pelindaba nuclear facility has left a senior emergency officer seriously injured.

Anton Gerber, Necsa emergency services operational officer spoke to the Pretoria News from his hospital bed hours after the attack.

He was shot in the chest when the gunmen stormed the facility's emergency response control room in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Criminals stage organized assaults.

INITIAL reports that criminals had gained access to South Africa’s high-security Pelindaba nuclear facility west of Pretoria were alarming in their own right.

But today’s bombshell revelation by authorities that the incident was a planned and co-ordinated “military-style” attack aimed at seizing the institution’s computers is cause for grave concern.

Rob Wilson writes to South African newspaper The Star about direct experience with crime.

I was held up at gunpoint leaving work one evening last month and was relieved of my laptop and passport.

I am a senior executive in a professional consultancy business. Besides the personal trauma, the direct loss of foreign earnings to South Africa has been calculated as being R2-million, excluding my personal costs. This happens many times, every day.

Since the incident, three of my direct colleagues or their families have been attacked, robbed and assaulted.

In one incident, a colleague's wife had her rings bitten off her finger; in another, two elderly people were tied up with wire and beaten.

In the third, the wife was hijacked, her body found in the burnt-out car in the veld.

The leading candidate to succeed Thabo Mbeki as president is under suspicion for bribery.

Jacob Zuma, the leading contender to be South Africa’s next president, was dealt a blow when the Supreme Court cleared the way for him to be prosecuted for corruption.

Mr Zuma, the deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), was sacked as deputy president in 2005 after his financial adviser, Schabir Schaik, was convicted of fraud and bribery in connection with an arms deal.

The current president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, is trying to block the corruption investigation that might reach the likely next president.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office is investigating BAE over the £75m it alone paid in "commissions", some of which made it into the pocket of the then defence minister, Joe Modise, and one of his senior advisors, Fana Hlongwane, who is believed to have received about £3m according to an SFO request to the South Africans for assistance.

That help has not been forthcoming. Instead, Mbeki has quashed investigations by the South African parliament, the auditor general and the director of public prosecutions into the links between senior ANC officials, the party and the arms companies.

If South Africa had contracted with Russian arms makers then the Russian government would have made sure that corruption investigations never would have started up in Russia about bribes in arms deals. Will the South African leaders learn to deal with suppliers from more corrupt societies in the future?

By Randall Parker    2007 November 13 10:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2007 November 04 Sunday
Impoverished Growing Portion Of All Children

Our future is in the hands of the growing lower class.

Atlanta - The plight of the South's school-reform movement now hangs on kids from families that make less than $36,000 a year.

For the first time in 40 years, two new studies show, more than half of public school students in the South are eligible for free or reduced lunch – a watershed moment in a 15-year wealth slide that comes amid resurging racial and economic inequalities in the former Confederacy. The rise is part of a nationwide surge: Low-income students now represent 12 percentage points more of the student body than in 1990.

Part of this is due to immigration. Part of it is due to the fewer children being born to the smartest and most educated.

I am reminded of the Harvey Danger tune Flag Pole Sitter.

Been around the world and found
That only stupid people are breeding
The cretins cloning and feeding
And I don't even own a tv

I also hear "We are Devo. D-E-V-O".

Progress is not inevitable.

By Randall Parker    2007 November 04 09:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2007 August 25 Saturday
Crime Worsens In South Africa

An article in the Christian Science Monitor observes how crime has gotten much worse in South Africa since the end of apartheid.

Unemployment is running around 25 percent.

Thus the big cities such as Johannesburg have become seedbeds for robbery and violent hijacking, making crime South Africa's biggest problem. Sometimes it is the work of individuals; sometimes the work of organized gangs. One black editor, while in no way supporting the old apartheid regime, remarks wryly: "There was no city crime or unemployment in the old days. If you were a black without a [residence] pass and a letter from your boss saying you had a job, the police would run you out of town. Today, whether you are black or white, you take your life in your hands if you walk downtown at night."

Organizations that can afford extreme security measures use them.

In Johannesburg, homes and offices lie protected behind high walls topped with electrified wire. Security cameras and steel gates are common. The building housing British Airways is guarded by dogs and security officers with automatic weapons, dressed like members of a SWAT team. At the US consulate-general, where the threat may be from terrorism, as well as local crime, even Embassy-owned cars must negotiate hydraulically operated pylons, then a caged area where security officers check with mirrors under the car and open hoods and trunks, before permitting access.

Hijackings are so frequent that some car owners have the registration numbers of their vehicles painted on the roofs of their cars so police helicopters can better trace them. Says one diplomat: "A kid who might have to work 20 years to buy a car, says, 'The heck with that, I'll just go out and hijack one.' "

Overall crime keeps going up.

South African authorities were hoping to achieve a drop in crime in the 12 months ending in March this year of between seven and 10 per cent. Instead, recent figures show that murders increased by 2.4 per cent (to 19,202), bank robberies by 118 per cent, residential robberies by 24 per cent, car hijackings by six per cent, drug-related crimes by 8.2 per cent and commercial crimes by 12.6 per cent. The number of rapes (52,617) and attempted murders (20,142) decreased.

The official statistics are probably cooked to make the crime rates look lower than they really are. This article mentions that claim below. I've also heard the same claim from a South African white who tells me that statistics releases that used to happen very quickly are now delayed for months and years. He says the statistics in question are easy to prepare and he knows how it is done.

There were no figures for the number of foreigners targeted. Opposition parties claim that the true figures may, in fact, be much higher.

"Given that 32 per cent of all crimes are not reported to the police, we know that the crime rates are unacceptable," a spokesman for the Democratic Alliance party said. He added that, with a murder rate of 40.5 per 100,000 people, the number of killings in South Africa was eight times the world average.

Cape Town has the highest murder rate in South Africa.

The murder rate in Cape Town has dropped substantially from a high four years ago and has stabilised in recent years - but the city is still the murder capital of South Africa, says a study by the City of Cape Town.

The study has revealed that at the end of 2006 the murder rate was 57.3 per 100 000 of the population, down from 84.4 per 100 000 people in the 2002/03 period.

To put that in contrast to a really safe place In 2005 North Dakota's murder rate was 1.1 per 100,000.. For the entire United States the murder rate was 5.6 per 100,000 in 2005. Though in Washington DC the murder rate was 35.4 per 100,000. Why do you suppose that is?

In Johannesburg minibus taxi cab drivers literally fight over customers. (people who steal customers are obviously thieves)

"We have been fighting for two weeks and they won't listen," said the man, his 23 years in the business showing on his tired face. "They steal our customers."

His employees mostly use wooden bats to make their point, he said, but would resort to hitmen with guns if needed.

"This is a war. In wars, everyone uses mercenaries."

In Gauteng massive roadblocks and search operations by police are reminiscent of Baghdad.

The police conducted 7750 roadblocks, 6029 cordon and search operations, 75 869 vehicle patrols and 79 881 foot patrols throughout the province in an effort to improve visibility.

Mr Cachalia said this resulted in a total of 672 168 vehicles being searched. This represents an additional 106 921 vehicles or an increase of 18.9 percent when compared to the same period in 2006, he said.

About 1.4 million people were searched, which is an increase of over 280 000 people who were searched during the same period last year.

Other conditions are decaying in South Africa.

Raw sewage flowing into Lake Chrissie is threatening to turn South Africa's largest natural freshwater body into a massive cesspool.

Environmentalists claim that for seven years, local authorities ignored their pleas to upgrade water treatment facilities; officials only took action, they say, when local revenue was affected by the closure of tourism routes such as biking trails, as a result of pollution.

But Zimbabwe is much worse.

Patients are turned away either because nurses and doctors are on strike or the nurse on duty couldn't make it to work because there was no transport from her home.

This might sound "mischievous" but a crippling fuel shortage means that there is no transport to work. In this southern Africa nation, it is understandable if workers either come to work three hours late or never turn up.

As a spin off of the economic crisis, patients are being diagnosed with various ailments and told to buy themselves medication from expensive, privately owned pharmacies beyond the reach of most Zimbabweans.

The younger generation whites are leaving.

"We used Statistics SA's mid-year population estimates, which they get from the national census and comparing the figures we estimate that around an average 800 000 white South Africans have emigrated from 1995 until 2005. We put the number at no less than 500 000 and no more than 1,2-million."

The institute first published this figure in 2006. Although media reports at the time suggested white South Africans could have been under-counted in the 2001 census, Cronje said a major shrinkage in the white population led to that conclusion.

"The major gap was shown mostly in white men aged between 25 and 35 years old. This kind of pattern is usually shown in countries where there was a war and young men were killed. We don't have anything like that, so the assumption is that emigration was the cause."

An Afrikaaner farmer immigrant to New Zealand says the bottom for South Africa lies 30 to 40 years in the future.

``Kiwis argue with me about my Afrikaans rural culture and heritage, and I tell them we are very proud of our music, our food, our conservatism, our history. ``I say to the white Kiwis: what is your culture? And they have no answers.'' He says South Africa and Zimbabwe are pretty much finished as productive economies and are only surviving on foreign aid. ``The 2010 soccer world cup will open the eyes of the world to the mess there. The foreign visitors will be robbed and ripped off in every way imaginable. Then they will realise that white South Africa was not so bad. ``When they accept (like Angola, Mozambique, Zambia) that they can't recover without the white man's help, they will start importing white advisers. But first they have to hit the bottom and that will take 30-40 years.'

The demographic outlook for South Africa is worse than the reported net out migration of whites suggests. Those whites who are leaving are both younger and more technically competent than those who stay behind. When the older white white managers, engineers, and technicians retire the next generation won't be there to take over. Even worse, racial preferences laws will make it hard for the younger generation whites to take over anyway. So the competence shortage will intensify and components of the economy that now work will cease to do so.

I am curious to know the trend of average age of workers in various professions in South Africa. My guess is average age is rising, especially among the more competent. In which occupations will the loss of competency cause the biggest disruptions to the economy? I'm thinking the legal system and police need competence the most. Without security and the ability to enforce contracts all other sectors of the economy will suffer.

By Randall Parker    2007 August 25 10:51 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2006 November 21 Tuesday
Unmarried Birth Rates Up In United States

A new CDC report on fertility in America shows a new record in the proportion of babies born to single moms.

All measures of childbearing by unmarried women increased to  record levels for the Nation in 2005 according to preliminary data (2,4). The total number of births rose 4 percent to 1,525,345, compared with 1,470,189 in 2004. During 2002-2005, the number increased 12 percent overall.

  • The birth rate increased 3 percent in 2005 to 47.6 per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44 years, up from 46.1 in 2004.
  • The proportion of births to unmarried women increased in 2005 to 36.8 percent, compared with 35.8 percent in 2004. The proportions increased for all population subgroups by race and Hispanic origin (Table 1 and Figure 3).
  • In 2005, well over four in five births to teenagers were nonmarital (Table 3). Over one-half of births to women aged 20-24 years and nearly 3 in 10 births to women aged 25-29 years were to unmarried women.

As whites dwindle as a percentage of the US population and the Hispanic portion of the US population grows this trend will continue. Out of all groups of single women in the United States Hispanic single women have the highest fertility rate.

What we are seeing is "family values" Jorge W. Bush style. For Democrats who are truly patriotic this trend is bad news and should be reason for Democrats to oppose Hispanic immigration. But for Democrats who are partisans who just want more voters for their party this trend is great news. Poorer lower class Hispanic single moms will reliably vote for the donkey over the elephant.

By Randall Parker    2006 November 21 10:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2006 October 29 Sunday
About A Fifth Of South African Men Have Committed Rape

Modern Tribalist Adam Lawson points to reports of a study which found about a fifth of South African men have committed rape.

Johannesburg- One in five South African men has committed rape at least once, according to a study reported Tuesday. The figures, described as shocking in news reports, were compiled by the Gender Health Research unit of the country's Medical Research Council.

Of the 1,370 males between the ages of 15 and 26 years that were interviewed, about 8 per cent admitted to sexually violent behaviour towards their intimate partners, while 16,3 per cent said they had raped a non-partner or participated in some form of gang rape.

Note: The "16,3" is 16.3 percent but with a continental style of denoting a decimal point. The figure reported might underestimate the portion that has raped. Consider that they interviewed males between 15 and 26. Some might eventually commit a first rape even if they haven't done so yet. Some might not even commit their first rape until after the age of 26. Some might not admit to having raped or might not consider a past sexual encounter as rape even though in Western countries what they did would be considered rape.

Add in the men who rape intimate partners with those who rape strangers and the result gets up to pretty close to a fifth of all African men.

Also noted was an overlap of 44 percent of men raping non-partners and intimate partners. The mean age at which respondents first raped a woman was 17.

What percentage of all South African women have been raped? Is it more or less than half?

Women in particular should seriously reconsider if you have any thoughts of visiting South Africa. It is a very dangerous place.

Speaking of reconsideration, the political Left is always slow to learn - kinda like George W. Bush. Anti-apartheid South African novelist Andre P Brink has lost faith in the post-apartheid black regime of South Africa.

In his latest article, Brink wrote in answer to ambassador Noma-sonto Sibanda-Thusa, that "during the first 12 years after our first democratic election, I tried to convince everybody inside and outside the country who doubted the new South Africa, that the negative aspects of the transition were only temporarily and superficial coincidences. Today I cannot say that any more".

On August 24 he strongly criticised South Africa's "new elite" in the same daily, saying their actions were "directly related to the increase in violence in the country". "Their first priority is apparently to fill their own pockets and those of family and friends and to abuse their positions, even if they have to step on the victims of murder, rape and violence and telling those who dare protest to shut up or leave," wrote Brink.

Given the choice between shutting up and leaving I suggest to South African whites that they leave. In fact, even if they can keep talking they ought to leave. Start working on what you need to do to establish yourself somewhere else. For South African farmers Brazil is a good option. Some South Africans (and not a few Americans) have profitably set up farming operations in Brazil.

World Cup fans probably shouldn't plan on attending the World Cup in 2010 - unless it gets moved.

THE distinguished anti-apartheid novelist André Brink has shocked many of his politically correct countrymen by warning that football’s World Cup, coming to South Africa in 2010, threatens a “potential massacre which could make the Munich Olympics of a few decades ago look like a picnic outing”.

Brink, whose novels were banned by apartheid governments and who has twice been nominated for the Booker Prize and shortlisted several times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, is no everyday scaremonger.

Looks like the 2010 World Cup will be educational for many.

When the whites are driven off the farms South Africa will know hunger like Zimbabwe does.

Since 1994 well over 1,600 white farmers have been killed. Sources inside SA tell The Zimbabwean that while the government blames criminal elements for their deaths it is doing next to nothing to implement badly needed land reforms that meet black aspirations without destroying the agricultural sector.

Last year, a leading South African businessman said: "In Zimbabwe, it was government policy that created the conditions in which 10 farmers were killed. In South Africa lack of government policy has led to the conditions in which 1,600 white farmers have been killed. It is part of the same movement."

But in Zimbabwe, the infinitely smaller number of white farmer deaths created uproar all over the world. About South Africa there has been no such outcry.

Black anger is growing and armed gangs carry the message to the stoeps of European owned farms.

Twelve years after Nelson Mandela was made SA President, some 40,000 whites dominate all aspects of food production. They still own the best land.

1600 white farmers have been killed. But only 40,000 whites are running food production. That death rate ought to be high enough to start a serious stampede of the 40,000. When that happens watch for starvation on the scale in which it is seen in Zimbabwe.

Update: Rian Malan is another white novelist who opposed the apartheid regime. Malan thinks South Africa is going down and whites are finished in South Africa.

Malan's memoir of growing up in the apartheid, My Traitor's Heart, painted a devastating picture of the brutalities of the regime and, only two years ago, he was hailing the first country as a veritable "paradise".

Sliding towards decay

But in the latest edition of Britain's The Spectator magazine, Malan concluded the country was now sliding towards decay.

"We thought our table was fairly solid and that we would sit at it indefinitely, quaffing that old Rainbow Nation Ambrosia," he wrote.

"Now, almost overnight, we have come to the dismaying realisation that much around us is rotten."

Malan identified what he calls the purging of whites from the ranks of civil service as the root cause of the decay.

"There won't be a civil war. Whites are finished. According to a recent study, one in six of us has left since the ANC took over and those who remain know their place."

People like Malan were foolish and deluded themselves about what black rule would be like.

By Randall Parker    2006 October 29 06:10 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (36)
2006 May 09 Tuesday
Theodore Dalrymple: Growing Up British

Theodore Dalrymple, in real life Anthony Daniels - a psychiatrist who works in the British prison system, has an article in the City Journal about an 18 year old girl who had beat her elderly relative.

Her biography was sordid, but no more so than many others I had heard. Not only had she never met her father, but she had no idea who he might be. She and her half-sister—an alcoholic and a drug taker, conceived during a one-night stand—had been sexually abused by one of their passing stepfathers-cum-baby-sitters. Her mother was a drug addict who had once got into trouble after being caught working while claiming social security benefits.

“What happened?” I asked.

“She had to stop working.”

Her mother had been violent toward her two daughters, throwing them down the stairs and beating them with a baseball bat. (The ratio of bats to balls in Britain must be the highest in the world.) Her violence ceased when the daughters were old and strong enough to blacken her eyes and break her nose.

Read the whole article. Why should people such as these have a right to reproduce? I don't see it.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 09 05:15 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2006 May 04 Thursday
Zimbabwe Inflation Over 900 Percent

The New York Times paints a bleak picture. The rate of currency inflation has reached 914% and is still rising. (same article here)

Zimbabwe's inflation is hardly history's worst — in Weimar Germany in 1923, prices quadrupled each month, compared with doubling about once every three or four months in Zimbabwe. That said, experts agree that Zimbabwe's inflation is currently the world's highest, and has been for some time.

Public-school fees and other ever-rising government surcharges have begun to exceed the monthly incomes of many urban families lucky enough to find work. The jobless — officially 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 4.2 million workers, but widely placed at 80 percent when idle farmers are included — furtively hawk tomatoes and baggies of ground corn from roadside tables, an occupation banned by the police since last May.

...

By March, inflation had touched 914 percent a year, at which rate prices would rise more than tenfold in 12 months. Experts agree that quadruple-digit inflation is now a certainty.

Zimbabwe's decline has now taken it down to situation normal for Africa. Effectively all the positive influence of white colonial rule has been wiped out.

As a whole, the nation has only now sunk to standards common elsewhere in Africa.

Zimbabwe increasingly resembles scenes from Atlas Shrugged. No radiation therapy machines for cancer are left working in Zimbabwe.

The head of radiotherapy at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr Ntokozo Ndlovu, has confirmed reports that all three of the country’s radiotherapy machines are not working.

As bad as Zimbabwe is some African countries and Iraq are rated as worse by one measure.

A report released May 2 compiled by the U.S. Foreign Policy magazine and The Fund For Peace has indicted many African states for not being viable. Of the 146 states examined, three African countries -- Sudan, Congo DR and Ivory Coast -- top the list of failed states, in that order. Zimbabwe (5th), Chad and Somalia (6th) closely follow Iraq in the 4th position.

A failing state is described as one in which the government is not effectively controlling its territory, is not perceived to be legitimate by a significant portion of its population, does not provide internal security or basic services to its citizens and lacks the ability to control armed groups or individuals within its territory.

Living standards are higher in Iraq due to the rising price of oil and US aid. So the extent of the deterioration of social structures is partially masked.

The Financial Gazette of Harare Zimbabwe says the 300% increase in civil service salaries happens in the face of a contracting economy.

The picture is radically altered if the more-than 300 percent recent increase in the civil service wage bill is factored in. This is a straight increase in government recurrent expenditure totalling $60 trillion in the next eight months which can only stoke demand-pull inflation, coming as it does at a time when the economy has hit historic contraction. Thus the domestic tax revenue base is ever dwindling resulting in meagre tax receipts. To make matters worse, the local tax rates have for a long time been in that territory where the law of diminishing returns has taken over, which means there is very little room to manoeuvre.

The government's printing presses will run more to create the cash to pay salaries.

Zimbabwe's government has begun rolling the printing presses to produce about 60 trillion Zimbabwean dollars. The additional currency is required to finance the recent increase in salaries for soldiers and policemen. The money was not budgeted for the current fiscal year, and the government did not say where it would come from.

The only way inflation could stop would be for the printing presses to either break down or get blown up. Imagine that. Bombs could bring sound money to a country.

"Look behind nearly every economic dysfunction and shortage in this country -- unavailability of fertilizer and fuel, underutilization of land, burgeoning corruption -- and you will likely find some impediment to a free flow of information or the freedom to act on that information," Dell said.

He added: "Such statist systems -- with their obsession to control political and economic information -- didn't work in 1930s Soviet Union or 1950s China, and it seems doubtful that they'll ever work elsewhere."

True enough. But Africa also needs some neo-colonialism where willing Western countries would take over control of some functions of government. Mind you, I'm not volunteering the United States for that job. We are quite over-extended with the Iraq debacle and if we intervened we'd get labelled as authors of all that is wrong with Africa. But Africa would benefit from some outside supervision. The Africans can not rule themselves well.

I do not see a return to colonialism as in the cards. However, an even more effective and cheaper way to help Africa is available and more within the realm of the possible. As Steve Sailer has argued, alleviation of micronutrient deficiencies would boost African IQs and eventually improve economic performance of Africa. Development of better vaccines would also help.

By Randall Parker    2006 May 04 08:53 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2006 April 15 Saturday
EU Mandarins: Terrorists Who Abusively Invoke Islam

I'm not making up this one. Reality is more absurd than fiction. The European Union's fools in charge want to play word games to avoid admitting that Islam contains beliefs that aren't compatible with Western culture. How about "Individuals with excessively violent impulses who abusively invoke Islam"?

Officials are currently drafting a "non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalisation" that will be submitted to EU leaders at a summit in June.

“Certainly ‘Islamic terrorism’ is something we will not use … we talk about ‘terrorists who abusively invoke Islam’,” said an official speaking off the record.

Okay readers, get into the spirit of our decayed age. Can you outdo the Mandarins and come up with an even more ridiculous replacement for "Islamic terrorism"?

How about "People with hostility problems who misunderstand Islam"?

Update: Jim Hoagland reports that Bush Administration policymakers are referring to the Global War On Extremism (GWOE) instead of the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT).

Although greatly reduced since Rice replaced Colin Powell at Foggy Bottom, wrangling between the departments of State and Defense continues -- this time over operational details of the National Security Policy Directive that is being pulled together for what some policymakers are starting to call the global war on extremism (GWOE).

Here is where American and European policymakers could work together. "Terrorist" is such a loaded term - as the BBC well knows. Why not replace it with "Extremist"? Then we'd have "Extremists Who Abusively Invoke Islam" or EWAII.

A conservative Republican might be bothered by the use of the term "Extremist" in such a derogatory context. After all, Barry Goldwater once said "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." But the Bushies are a far cry from Goldwater Republicans. They've engineered the fastest rise in federal spending since FDR. It seems only fitting that they are engaged in a global war on extremism.

Update II: The EU is developing a whole politically correct dictionary for referring to Muslims and terrorists.

The European Union is drawing up a lexicon of politically correct language to use when describing terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam.

The idea was first aired in the EU's counter-terrorism strategy, which was adopted by interior ministers in December. As part of its efforts to combat radicalization and terrorist recruitment, the paper said the Union's 25 member states have to do more to "correct unfair or inaccurate perceptions of Islam and Muslims." It also called on EU officials to draft a "non-emotive lexicon for discussing the issues in order to avoid linking Islam to terrorism."

Diplomats in Brussels are currently working on the handbook, which is expected to be adopted by ministers in June.

The handbook will not cause Muslims to become liberals.

The EU Mandarins do not want to refer to a oppressive, tribal, sexist, intolerant religion using negative terms.

The guidelines, which will be non-binding and aimed at public officials rather than journalists, are likely to advise against using the term "Islamic terrorism." Roscam Abbing said his EU commissioner, who is the rough equivalent of the U.S. homeland security chief, prefers to talk about "those who have an abusive interpretation of Islam," rather than Islamists or Muslim fundamentalists. "The idea is not to use the terms Islam and Muslim in connection to something negative," added the spokesman.

The idea is to be dishonest. War is peace.

By Randall Parker    2006 April 15 05:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2006 March 23 Thursday
Plight Of Black Men Worsens

This costs us all.

The share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's. In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless - that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.

Incarceration rates climbed in the 1990's and reached historic highs in the past few years. In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison.

In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school.

Parenthetically, half of all Hispanics drop out of high school in America. Imagine the last 30 years of the Hispanic immigration deluge hadn't happened. The pay for lower skilled jobs would be higher and more black high school drop-outs would be employed. The automation of manual labor jobs and the export of jobs to lower wage countries still would have caused a decline in the fortunes of black males. But the decline would not have been as great.

I am amazed at the rationalizing abilities of liberals who support weak immigration restrictions who also bemoan the plight of blacks. They support policies that screw over the least skilled people in our society. Then they move to white flight suburbs while condescendly claiming that white conservative racists are to blame for the social problems of blacks and Hispanics.

Incarceration and child support have contributed to the high black male unemployment rate.

Mr. Holzer of Georgetown and his co-authors cite two factors that have curbed black employment in particular.

First, the high rate of incarceration and attendant flood of former offenders into neighborhoods have become major impediments. Men with criminal records tend to be shunned by employers, and young blacks with clean records suffer by association, studies have found.

...

By their mid-30's, 30 percent of black men with no more than a high school education have served time in prison, and 60 percent of dropouts have, Mr. Western said.

Among black dropouts in their late 20's, more are in prison on a given day - 34 percent - than are working - 30 percent - according to an analysis of 2000 census data by Steven Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley.

Social policies always have unintended and harmful consequences. Stricter child support enforcement is no exception. The enforcement discourages black men with child support orders from working in legal jobs.

About half of all black men in their late 20's and early 30's who did not go to college are noncustodial fathers, according to Mr. Holzer. From the fathers' viewpoint, support obligations "amount to a tax on earnings," he said.

I'd like to know whether black high school drop-outs have more kids than black high school graduates. My guess is the answer is Yes. If so then yet lower IQ levels are being selected for. But maybe successful black males have so many mating opportunities that they are reproducing at a faster rate. Also, with so many black male high school drop-outs in jail that has to reduce their ability to reproduce. So maybe the high black incarceration rate is selecting for genes for higher intelligence and lower criminality.

Draconian child support policies drive some men to take on false identities or leave the country. An engineer of my acquaintance was forced to live in his car due to a divorce settlement. He didn't have enough money to pay rent after paying for support. Worse, he had the blood types of his 3 kids tested and found that they had 3 different blood types. So at least one of his kids wasn't his. Given that his marriage ended when he came home early and found his wife in bed with someone else that wasn't too surprising. He eventually quit his job and disappeared from town.

For poor men with little earning potential and child support court orders legal jobs have little to offer. With the unemployed blacks I wonder what portion of them do illegal work like drug dealing and what percent have under-the-table jobs. Also, what portion of their support comes from living with girlfriends? Just how do they get by?

By Randall Parker    2006 March 23 08:14 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2005 December 19 Monday
Indigenous Candidate Wins Presidency Of Bolivia

Bolivia follows in the footsteps of Venezuela. The decline of the power of the white Spanish upper class continues.

A leftist candidate from one of Bolivia's Indian peoples who wants to legalise coca-growing has claimed victory in the presidential election.

"We have won," Evo Morales told thousands of cheering supporters as some exit polls suggested he had passed the 50% barrier for outright victory.

Earlier exit polls gave him 42% to 45% of the vote - still far ahead of former President Jorge Quiroga.

I predict lower prices for cocaine and more brain damage from coke use.

In democracies the biggest ethnic groups inevitably rule. This is a really good reason why members of the biggest ethnic group in a country should oppose immigration policies that will turn them into a minority. When a majority group does less well in school and business then more talented and successful minorities become targets of Robin Hood policies. Less successful groups end up blaming more successful groups for the disparity in outcomes.

Not coincidentally Bolivia is one of two Latin American countries with an indigenous majority (Guatemala being the second one with Peru coming in close) and Bolivia is also very poor.

Bolivia is among the poorest of Latin American republics, and recently the most unstable. To Mr Montesinos and many like him, the election of the first self-proclaimed indigenous president would portend the overthrow of 180 years of oppression of poor, dark Bolivians by richer, whiter ones, and of Bolivia itself by foreign powers. Long feared by the elite, Mr Morales has won over part of the middle class, which is disgusted with corruption and hopeful that he will be less disruptive in office than he has been on the street.

The middle class is going to get shafted by socialism and redistribution from whites to Amerinds.

The socialist publications just dig the of idea of poorer darker people coming to power to lord it over upper class whites.

For societies long synonymous with rigid stratification and the bleakly condescending looks of the Hispano-Creole ruling class, the intrusion of leaders who are darker, and once desperately poor, is a genuine novelty. Similarly, in the predominantly white European societies of the south – Argentina, Chile and Uruguay – the reins of government are now in the hands of those who were arrested, tortured or exiled under their respective military dictatorships of the 1970s. The rise of the left may be the main (acclaimed or lamented) political dynamic of the time, but it has been driven and framed by an even wider trajectory: the ascent of the underdog.

Some dreamers think Amerind leaders will improve the quality of Latin American governents.

MEXICO CITY, Dec 19 (IPS) - The election of indigenous leader Evo Morales as president of Bolivia is being hailed by native leaders from throughout the region as a "sign of hope" for all impoverished and discriminated indigenous peoples in Latin America.

Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberto Menchú said that Morales has brought "a refreshing wind" for all aboriginal peoples.

Morales is as likely to damage the Bolivian economy as to improve it any. The Morales election is not a real hope for poor people. If poor people wanted to look in some direction for hope I would suggest looking at genetic engineering for cognitive enhancement.

The irony of the leftist trumpet for "diversity" is that diversity of ethnics just about always means differences in average incomes and status between groups and large scale resentment. A "diverse" society is not a happier society. In fact, such a society has far more bitterness and envy than a highly homogeneous society. So then do leftists want societies that are full of bitterness and resentment?

By Randall Parker    2005 December 19 09:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2005 September 25 Sunday
South Africa Begins Seizure Of White Farms

And so it begins...

South Africa's government says it wants to hand over about a third of white-owned farm land by 2014.

The commission on Thursday said an expropriation notice would be served on Hannes Visser, the owner of a cattle and crop farm in North West province.

Visser said the government offered to buy it at a price well below market. But as the expropriations accelerate the market prices will fall as some whites see the writing on the wall.

Zimbabwe the model:

But Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says the pace of reform should be speeded up - as in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where most white-owned land has been seized by the state. "There needs to be a bit of oomph. That's why we may need the skills of Zimbabwe to help us," she said.

Expect a decline in South African food production in the next 10 years. Only about 60,000 whites operate farms in Africa. So most South African whites will not lose their jobs or possessions as a result of this policy. The bigger cost will come as declining food production. This will hit blacks harder than whites since whites, earning higher incomes on average, will have the money to pay higher food prices.

A couple of months ago I saw a TV show about American farmers who have moved to Brazil because Brazil has more sunshine, cheaper labor, and in some areas it has excellent soil. With sufficient capital and skills the Brazilian farms can out-compete American farms. The American farmers interviewed on the TV show looked and sounded like they were making a lot of money. They did not sound like hard scrabble dummies who went abroad because couldn't compete at home. They sounded like sharp capitalists. Brazil's agricultural exports are booming in part due to growing East Asian demand. The Brazilians could further expand their production and exports by giving long term work visas to the white farmers in South Africa.

By Randall Parker    2005 September 25 09:37 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (21)
2005 July 22 Friday
Russia Experiences 10 Fold Increase In Bribery

Are the government officials demanding more for the same services or do they have more assets and powers to sell for cash?

INDEM, the independent and highly respected think-tank, released its annual report on corruption in Russia this week.

Its findings are hardly encouraging, but not unexpected either. Corruption in Russia has grown ten-fold over the last 4 years. Instead of making a commitment to deal with this grave social malady, the authorities have accepted the institutionalization of corruption as part of Russian economic expansion.

INDEM's "Corruption in Russia: Dynamics and Perspectives" report claims the average bribe in 2001 was $10,200 and has increased to $135,000 in 2005. The report claims bribes increased 10-fold since 2001 and equal to two and a half times the current federal budget.

The authorities have recognized the damage corruption inflicts upon the economy. To counter the temptation to accept bribes for political favors, 35,000 state officials in the federal bureaucracy, representing 10% of all state employees, were given a five-fold pay increase roughly a year ago. These employees are now paid $500 a month, instead of $100. Most observers applauded the government's move as a good first step to fight corruption, but paying some state employees more has not stemmed Russia's oldest social malady called "rent-seeking."

Some Western observers hailed Putin's coming to power. They figured even if he decreased democracy he'd at least cut back on corruption so that the Russian economy would grow faster. Well, Putin has been a total failure by that measure. The biggest economic plus for Russia in recent years has been the rise in oil prices.

Not only are prices up but quality is down too.

However, as the INDEM report points out, the "corruption equilibrium" may now no longer serve its purpose. In the past, the effectiveness of a bribe was a near certainty; today paying a bribe does not assure the "service" will be provided.

What is causing the rise in corruption? Did Putin renationalize assets and thereby cause access to those access to become sellable by government officials? Or has an increase in oil revenue brought in more money with which to pay bribes?

The increase in bribery is the result of growing predatory behavior by bureaucrats.

“The general tendency of growing corruption is not new, but the Yukos affair has completely untied the hand of bureaucracy in their pursuit of bribes,” Mr Satarov said.

But he said the underlying reason for the rise in corruption was the lack of political or civil society control over bureaucrats, who had become the dominant force under Mr Putin.

“Putin is the hostage of the system because he depends on political support from the bureaucrats,” Mr Satarov said.

Putin is portrayed as a strong man. But if he can't control the bribery then he's even even weaker than Yeltsin. Yeltsin's government was better than Putin's.

By Randall Parker    2005 July 22 12:09 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2005 June 23 Thursday
US Supreme Court Rewrites 5th Amendment And Reduces Property Rights

In the matter of Susette Kelo, et al. v. City of New London, Connecticut, et al. the US Supreme Court has decided to reduce property rights even further.

A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling — assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America — was a defeat for Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

This property rights violation is being carried out for the benefit of Pfizer.

In 1997, Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical firm that makes such drugs as Zoloft, Viagra and Celebrex, began discussions with state and local officials about a $300 million research plant that would bring 2,000 jobs. It was the first time a major manufacturer had expressed interest in moving to New London in more than 100 years.

In a March 1999 letter, George Milne, president of Pfizer's Central Research Division, wrote that the company's New London expansion "requires the world-class redevelopment planned for the adjacent 90 acres," which included Kelo's neighborhood, encompassing about 115 properties. Milne said Pfizer needed a 200-room waterfront hotel, a conference center, a physical-fitness area, extended-stay residential units and 80 units of housing.

While Chief Justice William Rehnquist along with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented the surprise here is that on this case Sandra Day O'Connor opted not to go over to the Dark Side. But Anthony Kennedy decided to spend some time on the Dark Side so he along with John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer voted for another reduction in property rights. The Supreme Court Legislature thinks governments know better what should be done with our property.

Jusice O'Connor's dissent even shows clarity of reasoning. She says the Court has deleted "for public use" from the Takings Clause. (and that link has the full decision)

Over two centuries ago, just after the Bill of Rights was ratified, Justice Chase wrote:

"An act of the Legislature (for I cannot call it a law) contrary to the great first principles of the social compact, cannot be considered a rightful exercise of legislative authority ... . A few instances will suffice to explain what I mean... . [A] law that takes property from A. and gives it to B: It is against all reason and justice, for a people to entrust a Legislature with such powers; and, therefore, it cannot be presumed that they have done it." Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 388 (1798) (emphasis deleted).

Today the Court abandons this long-held, basic limitation on government power. Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded--i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public--in the process. To reason, as the Court does, that the incidental public benefits resulting from the subsequent ordinary use of private property render economic development takings "for public use" is to wash out any distinction between private and public use of property--and thereby effectively to delete the words "for public use" from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly I respectfully dissent.

Okay kids, that's clear enough isn't it?

O'Connor knows how this ruling is going to be used: "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process". She thinks the ruling makes a mockery of the intent of the Founding Fathers.

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. "[T]hat alone is a just government," wrote James Madison, "which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own." For the National Gazette, Property, (Mar. 29, 1792), reprinted in 14 Papers of James Madison 266 (R. Rutland et al. eds. 1983).

Obviously James Madison and company made a mistake and the Supreme Legislature has taken the needed steps to correct their error. Here we have the uncorrected original 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Note that I've italicized the offending phrase. Now, if you have a printed copy of the US constitution, perhaps in some book, get some white-out or dark ink and just cover over the words "for public use". Your new, corrected, and in the minds of the majority of the Supreme Legislature, greatly improved version of the 5th Amendment should read as follows:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken, without just compensation.

That's the 5th Amendment Americans (and legal and illegal aliens in US territory) will henceforth live under.

Another part of the Constitution has been made optional by this and other decisions like it: The Constitutional amendment process. Article V needs to be rewritten to include mention of the ability of a majority of the US Supreme Court to rewrite the US Constitution at will.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Though I can think of another alternative: Start impeaching Supreme Court judges. Make them defend their actions in trials in the US Senate.

Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute says now the government gets to decide if it can assign a better use to your property.

"With today's decision, no one's property is safe," said Roger Pilon, director of the Center for Constitutional Studies, at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank. "Any time a government official thinks someone else can make better use of your property than you're doing, he can order it condemned and transferred," Pilon said in a statement.

Note that all the Supreme Court justices appointed by Democrats are firmly on the Dark Side on this decision while the justices chosen by Republican Presidents split on this with only some of them (Souter and Kennedy) going over to the Dark Side. This mirrors the larger role the Democratic and Republican Parties play in contemporary America. On some subjects the Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats.

You can read all the original court papers filed for this case.

By Randall Parker    2005 June 23 10:31 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2005 May 11 Wednesday
On Poor Women Putting Motherhood Ahead Of Marriage

A pair of sociologists, Kathryn Edin of University of Pennslyvania and Maria Kefalas of St. Joseph's University, have an article in the Washington Post about their new book Promises I Can Keep : Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage in which they discuss why teenage girls and young women choose to have children outside of marriage.

To understand this rise in unmarried childbearing, we tried to offer women like Lisa an opportunity to answer the question that many middle-class Americans ask about them: Why don't they marry before having children? To find out, we spent five years getting to know 162 white, African American and Puerto Rican single mothers who live in the poorest sections of Philadelphia and its sister city, Camden, N.J., talking with them over kitchen tables and on front stoops.

What we discovered was surprising: Instead of a rejection of marriage, we found a deep respect for it among many young mothers, who told us that getting married was their ultimate life ambition. While they acknowledge that putting children before marriage is not the ideal way of doing things, they're not about to risk going through life childless while waiting for Mr. Right. They build their dreams around children: As one 20-year-old mother explained as she watched her toddler, "I wanted to have a baby. It wasn't, like, because everybody else had a baby. . . . I wanted somebody to take care of."

These girls are putting their own emotional satisfaction ahead of the interests of the children that they want to have.

Who are these girls and young women mating with? That is the scariest part:

Women described to us relationships that were plagued by their partner's drug and alcohol addictions, criminal behavior, frequent run-ins with the law, chronic infidelity and violent behavior.

The guys are good enough for getting pregnant but not good enough to marry.

The women we met wanted to wed, but they insisted on marrying well.

But here is the biggest problem with these women: They place a high standard on who they will marry but not on who they will mate with. They are so eager to have children that they are not choosy enough about who they let knock them up. We'd be better off if these girls waited to try to find better mating material or even if they opted for a sperm bank sperm donor. When school drop-out violent criminal guys reproduce we are all worse off.

Modern liberalism, by breaking down the strong taboo against reproduction outside of marriage and by supporting welfare programs that make single motherhood more affordable, deserves to be blamed for the increase in the national illegitimacy rate from about 4% in 1950 (these figures from the article) to about a third today. Granted, liberalism is not the only cause for this change. Technological advances that changed the relative economic value of male and female labor, still more technological advances that helped to automate household work, and rising affluence combined to make single motherhood more feasible. But legal changes and social policy changes made a big difference and so did a change in attitudes promoted by liberal intellectual elites.

The undermining of useful taboos has an equally destructive flipside: defense of newly created taboos which have harmful effects. For example, by constructing taboos against arguments that genetics influences intelligence, character, and behavioral tendencies modern liberalism has basically replaced older constructive taboos that served society's interest with newer destructive taboos that prevent a full appreciaton of how much damage is being done by the destruction of the old taboos.

This, in a nutshell, is why I am not a liberal. I am opposed to social policy changes and to changes in what is taboo when those changes obviously cause crime waves, illegitimacy, and other harmful consequences. American liberals (as distinct from people in other Western countries who still use "liberal" in its more classical sense) have caused a lot of damage while claiming the moral high ground. When the empirical evidence contradicts a claim of moral high ground my reaction is to reject the moral claim and accept the empirical evidence.

I used to think that American liberals, by breaking down taboos, were at least motivated by a desire to free us from ignorance and superstition. Some of them may even believe that about themselves. But look at what has happened. They've really just tossed out one set of taboos and one moral code to replace it with a different set of taboos and a different and more destructive moral code. Put aside their feelings about why they think they've done what they have done. In empirical effect I think they have been promoting ideas that work against a reduction in ignorance and superstition.

Now, I can hear some of my liberal readers saying "But you are being totally unfair to me." For some of you that is true. Not all liberals are unrealistic about human nature. Some liberals accept that human nature is not a blank slate and that not all social problems can be solved by providing poor people better educations or racial preferences. Not all liberals think the welfare state is a good thing or that taboos against single motherhood should have been tossed out. Not all liberals gang up and engage in character assassination attacks in order to marginalize all discussion of genetic causes of cognitive differences. But the motivation for the destruction of the old taboos and the creation of most of the new harmful replacement taboos came from the Left, not the Right. Also, the Left still opposes the lifting of the new taboos.

Aside: The desire for single young ghetto mothers to have children outside of wedlock is not a new revelation. For example, over 15 years ago Washington Post reporter Leon Dash documented this phenomenon in his book When Children Want Children. As long as these girls are allowed to have children and enabled to have children they will continue to do so and with harmful consequences to us all.

By Randall Parker    2005 May 11 09:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (61)
2005 May 07 Saturday
McKinsey Sees Global Wealth Reduction Due To Aging Populations

McKinsey consultants Diana Farrell, Tim Shavers, and Sacha Ghai say economic growth in industrialized countries will decrease due to lower savings rates as a result of aging populations. (site requires free registration)

Finding solutions won't be easy. Raising the retirement age, easing restrictions on immigration, or encouraging families to have more children will have little impact. Boosting economic growth alone is not a solution, nor is the next productivity revolution or technological breakthrough. To fill the coming gap in global savings and financial wealth, households and governments will need to increase their savings rates and to earn higher returns on the assets they already have.

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As the elderly come to make up a larger share of the population, the total amount of savings available for investment and wealth accumulation will dwindle. The prime earning years for the average worker are roughly from age 30 to 50; thereafter, the savings rate falls. With the onset of retirement, households save even less and, in some cases, begin to spend accumulated assets.

The result is a decline in the prime savers ratio—the number of households in their prime saving years divided by the number of elderly households. This ratio has been falling in Japan and Italy for many years. In Japan, it dropped below one in the mid-1980s, meaning that elderly households now outnumber those in their highest earning and saving years. Japan is often thought to be a frugal nation of supersavers, but its savings rate actually has already fallen from nearly 25 percent in 1975 to less than 5 percent today. That figure is projected to hit 0.2 percent in 2024. In 2000, the prime savers ratios of Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States either joined the declining trend or stabilized at very low levels. This unprecedented confluence of demographic patterns will have significant ramifications for global savings and wealth accumulation.

Countries that have been financing the American current accounts deficit by buying US Treasuries will cease to have the savings available to do so. Less capital will be available.

The rising cost of pensions and health care get all the press attention (and in America perversely pensions get more attention than the far greater problem with health care). But the McKinsey analysts see declining savings as an equal or greater problem.

Most of the public discussion on aging populations has focused on the rapidly escalating cost of pensions and health care. Little attention has been paid to the potentially far more damaging effect that this demographic phenomenon will have on savings, wealth, and economic well being. As more households retire, the decline in savings will slow the growth in household financial wealth in the five countries we studied by more than two-thirds—to 1.3 percent, from the historical level of 4.5 percent. By 2024, total household financial wealth will be 36 percent lower—a drop of $31 trillion—than it would have been if the higher historical growth rates had persisted.

Unlike Merrill Lynch, McKinsey is not bullish on America.

The United States will experience the largest shortfall in household financial wealth in absolute terms—$19 trillion by 2024—because of the size of its economy. The growth rate of the country's household financial wealth will decline to 1.6 percent, from 3.8 percent.

My guess is that George Bush's proposal to reduce the Social Security benefits for middle and higher income workers might boost savings because people would realize they need to save more for their retirements.

Here's a really interesting twist on the higher savings rates of continental Europeans: They save more but get lousier returns on their savings.

UK and US households compensate for their low savings rates by building wealth through high rates of asset appreciation. Their counterparts in Continental Europe and Japan save at much higher rates but ultimately accumulate less wealth, since these savings generate low or negative returns.

My guess is that the trend toward global capital markets will decrease the difference in average returns by investors from different countries.

If a shortage of capital causes possessors of capital to demand a higher rate of return then this would be bearish for stock markets. Why? Think about stocks that issue dividends. The prices of the stocks would have to be lower per dollar of dividend to compensate for higher interests available from bonds. But slower rates of rises of stock prices will compound the problem by lowering household net worths.

McKinsey's report reinforces my belief that the biggest economic problem facing the industrialized countries is their aging populations. But immigration is not a solution because immigrants to both Europe and the United States do more poorly than native born on average. Granted, there are Chinese, Korean, and Indian immigrant engineers who are making far more than the average white guy in America. But in America the Hispanics on average have far lower levels of educational attainment and lower incomes as compared to whites even in later generations. Similarly, in Europe the Arabs do far worse educationally and economically than the natives. Also in America the immigrants are not much younger on average than the native born.

I favor a few policies to address the economic problem caused by aging populations.

  • Stop letting in poorly educated immigrants and immigrants whose jobs pay poorly. Let in only those who will earn salaries that will generate far more tax revenue than they get in benefits and who will raise the national average per capita GDP.
  • Raise retirement ages. People are not as physically worn out at age 65 as they were back in the 1930s. Well, retirement age levels should reflect rising health of those in their 60s.
  • Accelerate education as a means to get people into the workforce at earlier ages. Let high school and college students study 12 months of the year and to advance through courses at faster rates. How? Video recorded high resolution lectures made at multiple camera angles (to include blackboards) to allow kids to learn for as many waking hours as they can handle. Also add in the ability to take tests in testing centers at high schools and universities or via the web.
  • Accelerate biomedical research to develop the means to slow and reverse aging. Then people could work for much longer.
  • Automate medical care with electronic medical records, expert systems for doing diagnosis, and more automated methods of diagnostic testing using nanotech sensors.
  • Implement health savings accounts so that people have incentive to save with pre-tax dollars to treat future health care needs.

The McKinsey analysts point out that corporations could dramatically boost 401k savings enrollment rates by requiring new employees to opt out rather than opt in.

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By Randall Parker    2005 May 07 04:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2005 April 11 Monday
Steve Sailer On Why White Working Class Worse In Britain Than America

In case you are unaware the white working class in Britain has deterioriated into crime, illegitimacy, poor school performance, and other indicators of social pathology a lot further than the American white working class. Whereas once upon a time (about a century ago) the British lower classes were amazingly law-abiding and crime was extremely rare in Britain now the British suffer from a crime wave that in almost all categories besides murder is worse than the United States. This brings up the very important question of why? Steve Sailer lists a number of reasons for the worse performance of lower class whites in Britain including cultural factors.

Culture. The ongoing collapse of Britain's white males into neo-Hogarthian laddishness points out the importance of country music in persuading white working class American males to stay on the straight and narrow. A remarkable fraction of country lyrics are devoted to making guys with fairly crummy jobs, like truckdrivers, feel proud that they work hard to bring home the bacon to their wife and kids. Likewise, many country love songs are about being married, which helps make that crucial institution seem cool to young country fans.

Or compare favorite spectator sports. Stock car racing is wholly lacking in soccer's affiliated subculture of hooliganism (see Bill Buford's memoir of running with English soccer fans, aptly titled Among the Thugs). NASCAR markets itself with vast success as wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

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The U.S. Republican Party, for all its sins, at least pays lip service to social conservatism. Many white working class families ask for self-sacrificingly little from their elected leaders. But they do want them to provide good role models for their children. And, in contrast to Clinton's embarrassing philandering, Bush's apparently faultless marriage accounts for more than a little of his otherwise inexplicable popularity.

In Britain, however, the Conservative Party has been riddled by sex scandals.

Culture matters. Art forms can have deleterious or beneficial effects on societies. Black rap music encourages destructive behavior. White country music encourages hard work, marriage, and honesty. But do not expect to hear that from left-liberals. They will shout "racism" and other pathetic nonsense.

Of course part of the cultural difference is due to a difference in prevalence of Christian reliigous belief. Steve covers that too.

Note that to the extent that Hollywood culture permeates American culture the working class will become more pathological in their behavior. Sex and drugs and rock and roll are not a formula for safe streets, monogamous marriages, and hard work.

Speed. Remember the tale of how to boil a frog? Just keep raising the temperature imperceptibly so the frog never notices it's being boiled alive. (Don't try this at home, kids.) Something similar happened in England, where society fell apart so slowly that elite opinion had time to get used to each new outrage.

In contrast, the U.S. murder rate doubled in just ten years—from 1964 to 1974. African-Americans served not as the frog in the pot but as the canary in the coalmine.

The welfare state took decades after its introduction in 1945 to corrupt the English. But the American liberal innovations of the 1960s, such as generous welfare for single mothers and shorter prison sentences, had such an immediately catastrophic on black morals that within a decade and a half, "liberal" had permanently become a term of abuse in American politics.

I also suspect that elite opinion simply has less weight in America than in Britain. But Steve addresses that at least partially when he points out that in America the direct election of many more lower level officials and the greater power in the hands of state and local officlals effectively allows the masses to vote in politicians who will crack down on crime and cut down the welfare state. Therefore the elites in America have a more difficult time preventing the masses from getting their way. Though the corruption of the American judiciary where the judges act more like legislatures and change policies has certainly created a method whereby the elites can defeat the will of the masses in America.

Steve covers a lot of other reasons why the white working class in Britain has morally deteriorated so much more than the white working class in America. Read the whole essay.

Joyce Lee Malcolm, historian and scholar of British and American history of crime, argues that part of the increase in crime rates in Britain is due to restrictions on handgun ownership.

When guns were freely available, England had an astonishingly low level of violent crime. A government study for the years 1890-1892, for example, found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world. One century and many gun laws later, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports that England's firearms restrictions and 1997 ban on handguns ''have had little impact in the criminal underworld.'' Guns are virtually outlawed, and, as the old slogan predicted, only outlaws have guns. And what is worse, they are increasingly ready to use them.

Five centuries of growing civility in England ended in 1954. Violent crime there has been climbing ever since, and armed crime - with banned handguns the weapon of choice - is described as rocketing. Between April and November 2001, the number of people robbed at gunpoint in London rose by 53 percent. Last summer, in the course of a few days, gun-toting men burst into an English court and freed two defendants; a shooting outside a London nightclub left five women and three men wounded; and two men were machine-gunned to death in a residential neighborhood of North London.

Gun crime is just part of an increasingly lawless environment. Your chances of being mugged in London are now six times greater than in New York. England's rates of robbery and burglary are far higher than America's, and 53 percent of burglaries in England occur while occupants are at home, compared with 13 percent in the United States, where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police.

Any reader who is old enough can remember the stereotypes of the British as incredibly civilized people compared to Americans and most other countries. Well, not any more. But if you want to visit a place with extremely low crime rates Japan and Singapore are still available for that purpose. Just don't go to London expecting you'll be safe.

Malcolm argues British and American murder rates are on a path toward convergence.

When guns were available in England they were seldom used in crime. A government study for 1890-1892 found an average of one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million. But murder rates for both countries are now changing. In 1981 the American rate was 8.7 times the English rate, in 1995 it was 5.7 times the English rate, and by last year it was 3.5 times. With American rates described as "in startling free-fall" and British rates as of October 2002 the highest for 100 years the two are on a path to converge.

While Malcolm's work revolves around crime and gun control she is interesting for another reason because she brings out a lot of statistics about the history of crime in England. Also, she has found that Official British government crime statistics greatly understate the extent of crime and victimization surveys offer a far gloomier picture.

By Randall Parker    2005 April 11 02:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (27)
2005 February 15 Tuesday
Some Gay Activists Ready To Get Semi-Tough Toward HIV Spreaders

Andrew Jacobs has an article in the New York Times about how some gay activists have become so frustrated by continued irresponsible sexual behavior by HIV-infected gays that the activists want to take more aggressive actions to stop HIV-infected people from spreading the disease.

As news of a potentially virulent strain of H.I.V. settles in, gay activists and AIDS prevention workers say they are dismayed and angry that the 25-year-old battle against the disease might have to begin all over again.

While many are calling for a renewed commitment to prevention efforts and free condoms, some veterans of the war on AIDS are advocating an entirely new approach to the spread of unsafe sex, much of which is fueled by a surge in methamphetamine abuse. They want to track down those who knowingly engage in risky behavior and try to stop them before they can infect others.

Well duh. The disease has been around for about a quarter of a century. During this time the vast majority of the vocal and politically active gays (with notable honorable exceptions such as Chandler Burr) have worked hard to defeat the conventional public health policy response used against dangerous epidemic diseases: a systematic effort to identify all infected and prevent them - by force of law if necessary - from spreading the dangerous pathogen they carry. The irresponsibility of all these activists in blocking standard public health measures has allowed continued disease spread, plenty of ill people, continued avoidable deaths and lots of costs to the rest of society. The anti-retrovirals are not a reason for complacency. The anti-retrovirals used in the "HAART" therapies have all sorts of nasty side effects and HIV patients are at greater risk of liver cancer and other fatal illnesses.

Now apparently the lack of any cure on the horizon and the continued spread of the disease has, after a couple of decades, finally led at least some gay activists to conclude that more drastic measures are needed to stop the spread of the disease.

But the measures discussed in the article still fall short of a full public health response and assorted predictable fears are still voiced:

"You have to remember that was the era when Jesse Helms and others were saying that gay people got what they deserved, and that the government shouldn't spend any money to help them," said David Evans, an H.I.V. treatment advocate who writes about prevention. "There was a time when people thought, 'Oh my god, they're going to put us in camps.' "

Think about that. They are against locking up any HIV-positive people. Effectively this means that many gays have been arguing basically for a legal right to kill other people through passing a deadly disease during sex.

Why has the general public tolerated this level of irresponsibility? Basically because once it became clear to most heterosexuals that their odds of getting HIV and AIDS were very low that there was no reason to demand the implementation of real public health measures to stop the spread of HIV.

I see two ways that HIV could have been stopped. First off, the simplest would have been to test anyone who was at risk of being HIV positive (gays, junkies, sexual partners of those found to be HIV positive). Then put all HIV-positive people in isolated communities. This is what was done with tuberculosis and other diseases. Get a communicable disease that is deadly? Get locked up or otherwise isolated.The forced isolation of all HIV positive has the problem that it would punish even those who were willing to give up sex once they learned of their HIV status.

Another approach would be to maintain a record of all HIV positive people and whenever a newly HIV positive person was discovered trace back who they got it from and if anyone who was found to know of their HIV status was in that chain of sexual contacts at a date after that person learned of their HIV status then that person could have been locked up. To make this system workable as a method to stop the spread of disease a large number of people would need to be classified as gay or as junkies or as members of other at-risk groups and then by force of law required to be periodically tested. This approach would allow HIV-positive people who do not pass on their virus to others to remain free.

My expectation is that a substantial portion of the gay population will continue to act irresponsibly killing each other (and occasionally some of the rest of us) and an even larger portion of the gays will continue to block a traditional public health response to the disease. While doing this they will cry out for even higher funding for HIV/AIDS research and for greater respect and acceptance from the rest of us.

By Randall Parker    2005 February 15 12:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
2004 November 21 Sunday
Theodore Dalrymple On The Frivolity Of Evil

In the City Journal Theodore Dalrymple, in real life psychiatrist Anthony Daniels who is just now leaving employment for 14 years in a British prison hospital, writes on the amount of evil individuals are committing in Britain even though no dictatorship compels them to do so.

Yet the scale of a man's evil is not entirely to be measured by its practical consequences. Men commit evil within the scope available to them. Some evil geniuses, of course, devote their lives to increasing that scope as widely as possible, but no such character has yet arisen in Britain, and most evildoers merely make the most of their opportunities. They do what they can get away with.

Daniels describes one woman he met in his work whose mother had tossed her out of her home at age 14 in order to satisfy the mother's latest boyfriend and how this girl went on to have 3 babies by 3 different loser men.

She was, of course, a victim of her mother's behavior at a time when she had little control over her destiny. Her mother had thought that her own sexual liaison was more important than the welfare of her child, a common way of thinking in today's welfare Britain. That same day, for example, I was consulted by a young woman whose mother's consort had raped her many times between the ages of eight and 15, with her mother's full knowledge. Her mother had allowed this solely so that her relationship with her consort might continue. It could happen that my patient will one day do the same thing.

Dalrymple notes the total lack of opposition and disapproval in the welfare state toward behavior that is incredibly harmful toward others.

This truly is not so much the banality as the frivolity of evil: the elevation of passing pleasure for oneself over the long-term misery of others to whom one owes a duty. What better phrase than the frivolity of evil describes the conduct of a mother who turns her own 14-year-old child out of doors because her latest boyfriend does not want him or her in the house? And what better phrase describes the attitude of those intellectuals who see in this conduct nothing but an extension of human freedom and choice, another thread in life's rich tapestry?

I'd like to go on record to anyone who isn't one of my regular readers: I am very judgemental. I think one has a moral and practical duty to be judgemental. Any society in which the elites shrink from judging and severely sanctioning irresponsible reproductive and child-raising behavior is a society headed for severe decay.

Here we enter the realm of culture and ideas. For it is necessary not only to believe that it is economically feasible to behave in the irresponsible and egotistical fashion that I have described, but also to believe that it is morally permissible to do so. And this idea has been peddled by the intellectual elite in Britain for many years, more assiduously than anywhere else, to the extent that it is now taken for granted. There has been a long march not only through the institutions but through the minds of the young. When young people want to praise themselves, they describe themselves as "nonjudgmental." For them, the highest form of morality is amorality.

There has been an unholy alliance between those on the Left, who believe that man is endowed with rights but no duties, and libertarians on the Right, who believe that consumer choice is the answer to all social questions, an idea eagerly adopted by the Left in precisely those areas where it does not apply. Thus people have a right to bring forth children any way they like, and the children, of course, have the right not to be deprived of anything, at least anything material. How men and women associate and have children is merely a matter of consumer choice, of no more moral consequence than the choice between dark and milk chocolate, and the state must not discriminate among different forms of association and child rearing, even if such non-discrimination has the same effect as British and French neutrality during the Spanish Civil War.

The consequences to the children and to society do not enter into the matter: for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility, and to ameliorate the emotional, educational, and spiritual effects by an army of social workers, psychologists, educators, counselors, and the like, who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.

So while my patients know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong, and worse than wrong, they are encouraged nevertheless to do it by the strong belief that they have the right to do it, because everything is merely a matter of choice. Almost no one in Britain ever publicly challenges this belief.

The belief goes unchallenged in America in the vast bulk of cases. When is the last time you saw on some TV news show a story about a poor single woman with children and how she deserves our sympathy and support? By contrast, how often have you heard on a TV show about some single woman with children and how it was irresponsible for her to have children out of wedlock by a succession of men, how it was irresponsible to have these men live with her and abuse her children, and how it was irresponsible of these men to knock her up? I think we see about 1000 times more stories about how our hearts should bleed for specific poor folks than we do about how specific poor folks are acting grossly irresponsibly.

Think about modern American liberals. You will hear them go on about, say the urgent need to improve the quality of public education or medical insurance coverage. The pretense of welfare state liberals is that they care more than conservatives do about human suffering. But what is the biggest cause of human suffering in America today? Irresponsible and even quite evil choices made by tens of millions of people about their own reproduction and children. The welfare state and the message delivered by liberal media and liberal academic institutions have encouraged this irresponsible behavior by failing to judge it and failing to punish it. The welfare state can't substitute for responsible individual decision-making and individual ethical behavior.

Modern liberalism has become a secular religion replete with a system of taboos. One of those taboos concerns reproduction. Liberals hold that reproduction is purely a personal choice and that to argue otherwise is fascistic or oppressive. Yet reproduction is not just about the whims and passing desires of the woman who gets pregnant. A birth produces a baby that is entirely helpless and in need of responsible and burdensome care for many years. Even during pregnancy smoking, drug use, alcohol use, and nutritional choices (to say nothing of abusive boyfriends) can all exact heavy tolls on the future baby. So it strikes me as absurd to argue that whether to reproduce is a purely personal decision. Irresponsible reproductive decisions mean that the baby and the rest of society will pay for many years for those decisions.

By Randall Parker    2004 November 21 01:04 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2004 September 23 Thursday
Moeletsi Mbeki: Africa Was Better Off In Colonial Times

Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki, states the obvious when he argues that Africa was better governed under colonial rule than it is today.

The average African is worse off now than during the colonial era, the brother of South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has said.

Moeletsi Mbeki accused African elites of stealing money and keeping it abroad, while colonial rulers planted crops and built roads and cities.

Of course, no Western nation wants to take on the burden of ruling Africa. It would be a totally thankless job. Therefore conditions in Africa will continue to deteriorate.

Mbeki fears a further decay in South Africa.

Addressing the local branch of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) here last night, SAIIA board member Moeletsi Mbeki said in his view African leaders were not serious about the economic welfare of their own people and South Africa had to guard that it did not become another Burundi.

Mbeki pointed out, however, that he was not arguing for a return to colonial rule.

The decay is going to continue and South Africa will eventually become as bad off as some of its neighbors.

Moeletsi Mbeki appears to be a free market kind of guy. He opposes what are called Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals in South Africa where powerful connnected blacks are granted shares in white-owned business enterprises. Moeletsi Mbeki says South African blacks ought to be more focused on wealth creation instead of wealth redistribution.

MINEWEB: Handicaps it?

MOELETSI MBEKI: Yes, because it takes – and I have lots of friends who were involved in black economic empowerment deals – it takes the brightest among the black people who -- instead of devoting their energies to creating new companies, to creating new products, to providing and creating employment -- tend to spend most of their time, if not all of their time, looking for redistributing mechanisms to get shares in pre-existing companies. So what you are actually getting is that the brightest among the black people in this country, instead of creating wealth, building up their own companies, are becoming secondary fiddle players to the existing companies – and that in my view is not what is going to save our country.

Moeletsi Mbeki says the ruling party in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe has destroyed the country.

Mbeki said: "Zanu PF have also so destroyed the core of their own economy, which was commercial agriculture and peasant agriculture. They have destroyed that part of the economy. I was reading that the tobacco crop is only a quarter of what it was in 2000, so in a way Zimbabwe is finished, it is almost dead and the people who are in power are determined to stay in power."

Of course this is true. But what is interesting in all this is that a wealthy and well-connected South African black man is saying it.

The Mbeki brothers stake out very different positions about Zimbabwe and about African economic development and political rule.

Mr Mbeki's analysis of Africa's history and of its predicament today differs fundamentally from that of his brother. Thabo Mbeki has pointedly refrained from criticising Mr Mugabe's excesses. Instead, he opposed Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth and he blames the legacy of British colonialism for the country's crisis.

Eventually biotechnology will advance to the point where Western nations will be able to supply Africa with treatments to cure its major diseases. Also, genetically engineered agriculture ought to be able to reduce and even eliminate hunger if only populations would stabilize.

But some African countries are not experiencing a decline in fertility to replacement levels and so Malthus may yet be proven right in Africa. Niger has a mind-boggling 8 children born per woman and has a fertilty rate as high as it was in the 1970s. Many African countries have high absolute levels of fertility with either only slow declines in fertility or even stagnant or rising fertility. (and that link has some great world demography graphics) More recent research (which I learned about a few months ago watching a think tank seminar on population on C-SPAN but now can't find after hours of googling and would welcome relevant links) argues against the inevitability of fertility declines toward replacement rates. Fertility rate declines in some instances are halting and reversing. The poorest countries in Africa may maintain high levels of fertility for decades to come. If Africa's total basket case countries maintain high levels of fertility the result will be disastrous for Africa both in human suffering and in environmental damage (say good bye to some big cat species, primates, and other species). This will also create environmental, political, and economic problems for the rest of the world.

Update: For $3.9 billion per year Western nations could prevent 23 million births of incredibly poor people per year. That'd reduce poverty for those who are born, reduce pollution, and reduce damage to the environment. It would cost a couple of percent of what we are spending deconstructing Iraq. Seems like a bargain.

By Randall Parker    2004 September 23 01:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (39)
2004 September 19 Sunday
Atlas Shrugs In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe leads South Africa into its future.

Ambulances are drawn by oxen. Hand-guided cattle plows have replaced farm machinery. The state railroad uses gunpowder charges on the tracks to warn trains of danger ahead.

The often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned farms for reallocation to black Zimbabweans, coupled with erratic rains, has decimated Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy. President Robert Mugabe argues that the land seizures have corrected ownership imbalances from British colonial days that left one-third of the country's farmland in the hands of about 5 000 white farmers.

Many seized farms went to Mugabe's cronies and lie fallow.

The decay takes many forms.

Doctors say midwives are now sealing off the umbilical protrusion of newborns with string, and dentists say many of their patients are using salt instead of toothpaste.

This all reminds me of an argument some comment posters have made on this blog about low skilled immigration: Their argument is that if we let the welfare state become big enough then supposedly it will eventually collapse. The reasoning is that letting matters get worse will somehow automatically bring on the correction or (if you want a more historical analogy) a Thermidorian Reaction that will fix things and usher in a libertarian golden age. But Zimbabwe is just one of many historical examples that demonstrate that in politics some changes are just plain bad and produce no opposing response big enough to yield a net benefit. Another example is the Russian Revolution and such low points of Soviet rule such as the famines of early 1930s in Ukraine and Russia under Stalin. Even today Russia is still a dysfunctional place that has clearly suffered from having its more successful classes and brighter people systematically killed off. So some political disasters are just that: disasters. At best they can serve the purpose of teaching a historical lesson. But what lesson needs to be learned today that doesn't already have lots of historical examples to illustrate it?

Rhodesia under white minority rule was a better place for both blacks and whites than Zimbabwe is today under black majority rule. South Africa, having a much larger portion of whites, has a longer road to go down into decay, corruption, and despotism. But it surely is going down that road.

By Randall Parker    2004 September 19 01:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (27)
2004 September 01 Wednesday
Fred Reed Offers Solutions

In his latest Fred On Everything column Fred Reed offers solutions in place of his normal ration of politically incorrect complaints.

Education: Get big cement trucks, fill them with linoleum cement mixed with potassium cyanide and maybe thumb tacks. Dump this salutary porridge into the faculty lounges of the teachers colleges, being sure that the scoundrels are still inside. Put up signs all around saying "Mutant Radioactive Cholera Site. Go Away."

Fred also suggests declaring deer hunting season on employees of the Department of Education. Certainly the "professionalization" of education has been a disaster and the teachers unions and teachers credentials should be banned. But as with so many of the other solution Fred offers they are solutions that are opposed by too large a portion of the population. We can't get government that is any better than the fools deserve.

On immigration Fred suggests using the Army to close the border with Mexico and offering financial incentives for turning in illegals.

Immigration: Bring the military back from Iraq, where it doesn't belong, and put it along the Mexican border, where it does. According to taste, decide to keep the illegals already in the US, or put a ten thousand dollar fine on hiring an illegal, half of it to go to the person reporting the hiring. Restrict welfare and public services to citizens and legal residents.

The use of financial rewards for turning in illegals is something I've argued for in the past. I do not think it would take even $5000 to get a lot of illegals turned in. A lot of people could earn high incomes turning in illegals for $500 a pop. In Los Angeles one could earn a 6 or 7 figure yearly income turning in illegals at $50 a pop. Since the Border Patrol and like agencies are not big enough to process all the illegals that would be caught we could use the military to serve as jailers and to do transport for deportation.

Fred offers many other solutions that would be quite beneficial. The whole column is pretty entertaining. The underlying (and I think correct) point of the column is that we have a lot of solvable problems that we simply won't solve.

By Randall Parker    2004 September 01 10:06 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2004 August 17 Tuesday
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez Wins Against Recall Effort

Hugo Chavez wins.

The leftist president of Venezuela, backed by 58 percent of voters, easily rebuffed a recall referendum on Sunday. In the course of his political career, the 48-year-old former military officer has endured jail time and overcome two well-funded electoral rivals, an abortive military coup, a general strike and, now, a well-funded, internationally supported campaign to end his presidential term early

The opposition claims massive electoral fraud.

The opposition Democratic Coordinator coalition, which said its exit polls showed 60 percent in favor of ousting Chavez and 40 percent against it, demanded a manual recount.

Two opposition-aligned directors of the National Elections Council complained they were not allowed to monitor the tallying of preliminary results, as the three pro-government directors did.

Venezuelan Catholic Cardinal José Castillo Lara joins the chorus of those claiming electoral fraud.

"Exit polls at the ballot boxes showed that there was 65% in favor of 'yes,' that is, of the revocation of the mandate, and only 35% or at most 40% in favor of the president," said the cardinal, who is an expert in juridical questions and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State.

If Chavez didn't win by ballot box fraud he was certainly helped by his use of oil money to buy lower class support.

Chavez might not have committed fraud. However, he did buy the election in a way, spending at least $6 billion on social 'missions' that boosted his favorable ratings from 28 percent to 40 percent in only four months.

Caracas-based analyst Michael Rowan calculates that Chavez won close to 5 million votes at a cost of about $1,200 a vote in a country where two-thirds of the population earn less than $800 a month per capita and the remaining third less than $400 a month.

The white upper class of Venezuela may flee to Florida like the white upper class of Cuba has done.

Analysts had predicted that a Chávez victory could mean more Venezuelan immigration and investment in South Florida.

The Spanish white middle and upper classes in Latin America are losing ground to the lower class Amerinds. Expect to see more populist leftists coming to power in Latin America. For more on this trend see my previous post Identity Politics Building Ethnic Conflicts In Latin America.

The other significant trend is in terms of immigration. The political empowerment of the lower classes in Latin America may make life for the middle and upper classes so difficult that United States may start to pick up a larger upper class flow from Latin America in addition to the overwhelmingly lower class immigrants we now receive. This would be a good opportunity for the United States to put in place skill-based and education-based requirements on immigrants. We could skim the most skilled off the top in Latin America and keep out the less productive and more problematic lower classes.

Update: Chavez has been arresting political opponents and undermining the independence of other institutions of Venezuelan government.

His sorry record of arresting political opponents, stacking Venezuela's courts, undermining the country's civic institutions - and his close relationship with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro - led to violence and schisms at home, and criticism abroad.

Chavez is now going to further reduce freedom of speech and other freedoms.

The day following the vote, the Chavez administration announced plans to extend government control over the judiciary, state and local police, and radio and TV.

If democracy can not even produce a liberal government in Venezuela it is a fantasy to believe that democracy catalyze the political liberalization of the Middle East. Democracy is not a panacea. Given the right circumstances the mechanisms of democracy with elections and mass voting will produce support for authoritarian dictatorships.

By Randall Parker    2004 August 17 09:47 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2004 August 04 Wednesday
Identity Politics Building Ethnic Conflicts In Latin America

Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute surveys the current state and trends in Latin America and finds the Andes is politically in the greatest trouble.

The most troubled region politically is the Andes--Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia. Recent issues of this Outlook have discussed four of the five of these countries in some detail. Colombia has an unusually close relationship with the United States, thanks to a plan inaugurated by the Clinton administration to provide it with economic and military aid to confront the combined menace of a guerrilla insurgency and a movement of narco-gangsters both left and right. So far the U.S. role in that country has enjoyed considerable popular support, despite continual complaints from various human rights organizations. And under President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia has become one of the sturdier allies of the United States within inter-American councils, partly because both countries share an adversary in Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez.

Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are societies slowly being strangled in the roots of their own history--the exploitation and neglect of indigenous populations is coming home to roost. Identity politics, driven by urbanization of rural folk and often funded by European NGOs, bids fair to replace the traditional class-based electoral left. The U.S. drug eradication program is unwelcome to the Indian peasantry, particularly in Bolivia, all the more so because ordinary folk have not benefited significantly from the larger export industries--minerals, oil, and natural gas. In the case of Bolivia, the political class has cleverly turned popular resentment against the foreign companies who make possible extractive activities, as opposed to the politicians who squander (and steal) the royalties they generate. The fact that many are based in the United States adds a soupçon of “anti-imperialist” flavoring to the ideological stew.

The term "indigenous populations" refers to the Amerinds who have been ruled over for centuries by the Spanish white upper class ever since the Spanish Conquest.

The Spanish white upper class in Venezuela has lost power to President Hugo Chavez becaue the poor people have voted so overwhelmingly for Chavez and his party. Chavez used the strong position of his party in the elected national assembly to rewrite the constitution to give himself more power. The poor Amerinds support Chavez against the upper class Spanish whites.

Immediately after taking office in 1999, Chavez called for the election of a Constitutional Assembly in order to reform the 1961 Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela. His party won more than 90 percent of the assembly's seats; this allowed Chavez to obtain a new, tailor-made constitution. The assembly modified the structure of the three branches of government: dissolving the existing bicameral congress, which had been controlled by the opposition, to create a unicameral congress; reshuffling the judiciary to appoint loyalists in key positions; and extending the presidential term from five to six years while allowing for immediate reelection, which had previously been prohibited. As a result of these constitutional changes, a general election took place in 2000. Chavez again won with 60 percent of the vote. To counterbalance the six-year presidential term, the 1999 constitution included a provision for one recall election following the president's first three years in office and in accordance with the wishes of 20 percent of voters.

Chavez's populist style and his unwillingness to negotiate alienated the middle class, the mainstream media, the trade unions and the business sector. Unable to request a recall election for three years, however, the opposition attempted to illegally remove Chavez from power.

In late 2003, the opposition groups collected nearly 2.5 million signatures requesting the recall of the president and 33 pro-government legislators. After several debates on the verification of signatures presumed to be forged, the National Electoral Council set the date of the referendum for Aug. 15. The question on the ballot reads: "Do you agree with terminating the popular mandate given through legitimate democratic elections to citizen Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the current presidential term?"

"The [Chavez] administration now confronts three challenges: the mainstream media is adamantly anti-Chavez; the international public opinion distrusts the current administration; and the Venezuelan middle class, who supported the president in the 1998 election, has abandoned the boat," Perez-Linan explained. "On the other hand, Chavez still has much personal charisma and controls the Venezuelan oil revenues that sustain his education, health, and labor programs for the poor. As a result, the president remains popular among the poorest sectors in the country, which may represent as much as 70 percent of the Venezuelan population."

It says a lot about Venezuela (none of it good) that a Venezuelan President can alienate the middle class, the mainstream press, the trade unions and the business sector and yet still have favorable odds of beating a recall referendum. When the lower class is very large, of a different ethnic group than the upper class, and politically enfranchised with the vote then democracy inevitably becomes a way for the less successful to seize assets from the more successful.

On the one hand the white upper class in Latin America have been too corrupt. This process of corruption inevitably seems to happen when nations have smaller ethnically-based upper classes that are far more successful than than larger lower classes of different ethnicities (in case you were wondering what is in store for the United States in the future). On the other hand the Latin American Spaniards are on average relatively more talented than the Amerinds and so they were more competent to rule. So the loss of power by the Spanish whites and other Latin Americans of European ancestry places into power people who are less able to rule effectively.

This brings to mind Amy Chua's World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. The market dominant Spanish white minority of Latin America are going to fare poorly under a trend toward democratization as the Spanish whites in Venezeula are learning. Even without the ethnic divisions it is unlikely that a country like Bolivia with $2400 per capita GDP or Ecuador with $3300 per capita GDP would have slim chances of maintaining their democracies for long periods of time because poor countries rarely remain democratic. Peru with $5200 per capita GDP has better odds but the continuation of its democracy is by no means assured. Of course, maintaining a democracy is no guarantee of good government, non-confiscatory taxes, prosperity, or freedom of speech. The winds from Washington DC may continue to blow in support of democracy for some time to come. So my expectation is that we will see the maintenance of the outward appearances of democratic forms of government in Latin America while some countries such as Venezuela become more authoritarian. Though popular dissatisfaction with democracy in many Latin American nations is so high that even the continuation of the outward forms of democracy is by no means certain.

What is happening in Latin America also holds obvious lessons for Iraq and for the demographic future of the United States.

By Randall Parker    2004 August 04 04:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2004 June 10 Thursday
Brigitte Bardot Convicted For Inciting Racial Hatred

Free speech is against the law in France.

French actress-turned-animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was convicted Thursday of inciting racial hatred and ordered to pay $6,000 -- the fourth such fine for the former sex symbol since 1997.

Unfortunately for Ms. Bardot and for all lovers of liberty it is illegal in France to be against the Islamization of France.

Two civil rights groups, the Movement Against Racism and For Friendship Between People and the League of Human Rights, brought the lawsuit because of several passages in the book.

One of the most incriminating sections read: "I am against the Islamisation of France! This obligatory allegiance, this forced submission disgusts me.... Our ancestors, the elderly, our grandfathers, our fathers have for centuries given their lives to push out successive invaders."

Incriminating? It is incriminating to be against the Islamization of France? When did Sharia Law get adopted by the government of France? Did I miss that somehow? Is France following in the footsteps of Canada? If someone tried to make up stories like this 30 or 40 years ago it would have been deemed too absurd to be either comedy or a warning of a serious threat. But here the absurd is being played out in real life.

At least people have been reading her law-breaking book.

At a hearing in May, she told the court she never meant to harm anyone with her book, Un cri dans le silence (A Cry in the Silence), which topped the nonfiction best-seller lists last year.

David Orland points out her fears are reasonable.

Most generally, Bardot worries that the last generation of immigration will prove to have been nothing short of a disaster for the French nation:

“Over the last twenty years, we have given in to a subterranean, dangerous, and uncontrolled infiltration, which not only resists adjusting to our laws and customs but which will, as the years pass, attempt to impose its own.”

In a country whose badly alienated and increasingly restive Muslim population is said to be at around ten percent of the national total and growing fast, this does not strike me as an unreasonable fear—much less a legally actionable one.

Bardot wasn't present for her sentencing because she was in Bulgaria releasing circus bears into a nature reserve she helped to set up.

Belitsa - Thirteen Bulgarian dancing bears, whose painful performances once earned their Gypsy owners a living, have returned to the wild after the actress and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot helped free them.

France has become like a circus freak show where the entertainment comes in the form of an elite intent upon committing cultural suicide. They are a lot like America's elite except we still have First Amendment speech protections allowing us to state the obvious. Sure hope that right lasts.

By Randall Parker    2004 June 10 08:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2004 May 11 Tuesday
Judge Orders Drug Abusing Couple: Have No More Children

A judge in a New York County says 4 babies by a drug abusing couple are quite enough.

In six years, a cocaine-addicted, unwed and oftenhomeless Rochester couple has had four children and lost them all to foster care.

Enough is enough, a judge has ruled.

In a decision that could be the first of its kind in the nation, Monroe County Family Court Judge Marilyn L. O’Connor has ordered the couple to have no more children until they’re reunited with the children they already have and prove they can take care of them.

From the court ruling:

Regarding the third and fourth additional conditions, it is the intention of the court that the mother be required to not get pregnant until all of her children are being raised by a natural parent, or are no longer being cared for at the expense of the public. It is similarly the intention of the court that the father be required to not father another child until all his children are being raised by a natural parent, or are no longer being cared for at the expense of the public. It is further the intention of the court that neither parent shall conceive another child until found capable of having custody of all their current children. In other words, the respondents shall be required to act like responsible parents and for the duration of the order, to have no more children unless they can parent them themselves. Thus, the third and fourth additional ordering paragraphs shall state:

ORDERED that effective upon the date of personal service of a copy of this order upon respondent Stephanie P. and so long as this order or an extension of it is in effect, the respondent Stephanie P. shall not get pregnant again until and unless she has actually obtained custody and care of Bobbijean P. and every other child of hers who is in foster care and has not been adopted or institutionalized; and it is further

ORDERED that effective upon the date of service of a copy of this order upon respondent Rodney E. Sr. and so long as this order or an extension of it is in effect, the respondent Rodney E. Sr. shall not father any other child or children until and unless he has actually obtained custody and care of Bobbijean P. and every other child of his who is in foster care and has not been adopted or institutionalized or had custody granted to another party; . . .

Judge O'Connor's ruling about the "no-parent family" problem is tragically accurate in too many cases.

It is painfully obvious that a parent who has already lost to foster care all 4 of her children born over a 6-year period, with the last one having been taken from her even before she could leave the hospital, should not get pregnant again soon, if ever. She should not have yet another child which must be cared for at public expense before she has proven herself able to care for other children. The same is true for the father and his children. As to both parents, providing care for the children includes providing financial support. This is a practical, social, economic and moral reality. In effect, Bobbijean was born to a "no-parent family". She is for all practical purposes motherless and fatherless. This is not acceptable. All babies deserve more than to be born to parents who have proven they cannot possibly raise or parent a child. This neglected existence is an immense burden to place on a child and on society. The cycle of neglect often created by such births needs to stop. Our society has reached the breaking point with respect to raising neglected children, often born with extraordinary needs. One only need look at our schools, our jails, our Division of Human and Health Services budgets, and our Family Courts to see that a serious change of direction is necessary in the interests of children, the taxpayers, and the community as a whole.

How can you argue with that? Of course, the usual loonies are all upset.

”What the judge has done here is highly unusual,” said Anna Schissel, staff attorney for the Reproductive Rights Project of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “I don’t know of any precedent that would permit a judge to do this. And even if there were a precedent, it … violates the United States Constitution and the New York Constitution.

People like Ms. Schissel give the US Constitution a bad reputation that I do not think it deserves. Would the Founding Fathers have supported a right for drug addicts to have babies that are messed up in the womb by drugs and then abused and neglected after birth? I figure the Founding Fathers were sensible men who would understand that damaging embryos and babies and then inevitably inflicting society with the resulting costs is at minimum impractical, obviously immoral and that to support a supposed "right" to do this is even quite insane. It is time to call the nutcases what they are: nutcases. The ACLU crowd ran out of worthwhile causes and so have turned their attention toward promoting causes that are deeply harmful to the health of society. Irresponsible nuts. Shame on them.

Back in the realm of sanity the favorite charity for venture capitalist and philanthropist Jim Woodhill is the organization Project Prevention (a.k.a. C.R.A.C.K) which offers money to drug addict and alcoholic women to receive Norplant implants or sterilization (their choice) so that they stop getting pregnant while strung out. Founder Barbara Harris has adopted 4 babies that were born to the same addict mother and she decided to start providing financial incentives for addicts to take steps to become infertile for long periods of time. I think the charity is a great idea.

By Randall Parker    2004 May 11 02:16 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2004 May 05 Wednesday
Australia To Send Police To Lawless Papua New Guinea

Since achieving independence from Australia in 1975 Papua New Guinea (PNG) has deterioriated and now law and order has broken down as government officials and police have become corrupt and the police are too poor to even do much patrolling.

From the Highlands capital of Mount Hagen — still shocked by the recent, brutal, Sunday morning slaying of an Australian pilot — to the wild west town of Mendi, the journey reflects the extent of the crime wave and general social crisis facing PNG. Here, many areas are reverting to violent tribalism, self-styled warlords are heavily armed and rampant corruption diverts practically all funding from essential services such as education and medical care.

...

The only reason the police can go out on patrol today is that The Age paid for the petrol. But local criminals, such as the three men wielding bush knives who, earlier in the day, had stopped a crowded ute and raped a young woman, know there is little chance of being apprehended.

Parts of the highway have deteriorated so badly that Shell has halted deliveries, thereby causing a fuel crisis. Mount Hagen trucking operator Andrew Rice warns his rigs are fine when moving but "as soon as the truck stops they are all over you; you are a sitting duck".

Australia is negotiating terms under which Australian police will be sent to PNG to attempt to restore some minimal semblance of order. One sticking point in the negotiations is whether Australian police will be immune to local prosecution. The Australian government quite reasonably fears that corrupt local police, prosecutors, and judges could falsify charges against the Australian policemen.

Life in PNG was better when Australia ruled the place.

Many Papua New Guineans harbour an ambivalent nostalgia for Australian colonialism, when "kiaps", white officers, patrolled their villages quelling tribal fights and heading off the ugly violence so prevalent today. Locals then believed the Australian officers possessed almost mystical powers (although the heavy-handed paternalism of some could sometimes dent the locals' nationalistic pride).

Today, gangs armed with military weapons terrorise and tax traffic on the Highlands highway, the economic lifeline serving the nation's major resource projects. Gang leaders boast they will shoot any police who dare to hunt them down.

The Australians expect their police will take casualties if they are sent to PNG.

As this report from the PNG island of New Ireland demonstrates PNG citizens are resorting to vigilante justice.

Locals who heard the shot chased the thieves and used a machete to hack the leg off one of the suspects, the newspapers quoted local police as saying.

The government of PNG doesn't like having a free press.

A group of parliamentarians of the ruling National Alliance presented a bill in April 2003 that threatened the freedom of journalists to cover the activities of the government and parliament. This attempt to establish the basis for a return to censorship was indicative of the contempt that part of the political class feels for the independent press. A campaign by journalists, by national and international press freedom organisations and by bodies such as the Press council forced the government to shelve the bill.

But Sir Michael Somara, the prime minister and a political heavyweight in Papua New Guinea since independence, said in November that he regretted not letting his supporters rein in the press. He accused foreign journalists and foreign-owned news media of damaging the country's image. Reporters Without Borders did not register any case of direct censorship in this country of independent print and broadcast media. But the weekly The Independent closed down for financial reasons. The Press Council tried to increase its power to sanction news media guilty of violating press ethics. And Australian journalists who came to cover the refugees which their government has installed in camps in Papua New Guinea were not made welcome.

Australia has already begun a similar operation in the Solomon Islands.

The larger powers fear that "failing" states may become havens for terrorists, people-smugglers and organised crime.

That was the motivation behind the Australian-led deployment of soldiers and police to the Solomon Islands last year, after a plea from Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza.

There are places in the world that are incapable of self-rule...

By Randall Parker    2004 May 05 10:45 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2004 April 07 Wednesday
Binding Islamic Tribunals Coming To Canada?

The Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society has the adapted version of a speech by Azam Kamguian on the establishment of an Islamic court system for Muslims in Canada.

As we all know, Islamists in Canada have recently set up an Islamic Institute of Civil Justice to oversee tribunals that would arbitrate family disputes and other civil matters between people from Muslim origin on the basis of the Islamic Sharia law. This is the first time in any western country that the medieval precepts of the Sharia have been given any validity. One can imagine that the Islamists will use this as a lever to work for similar recognition in many other western countries. After all, if Canada is prepared to recognise Sharia law in this way why not every other country in the west.

Muslims will be under enormous pressure to accept the Muslim courts for arbitration of disputes - including family law disputes.

Advocates for the Islamic tribunals have argued that one of the beauties of free and open societies in the west is their flexibility. But the very same ‘flexibility” provides the Islamists with the opportunity to impose their own rigid and oppressive rules on a specific community in the society. Mr. Momtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, and a leading proponent of the Islamic tribunals has said: "It - the Islamic tribunal - offers not only a variety of choices, but shows the real spirit of our multicultural society," The very same Mr. Ali also says: “…On religious grounds, a Muslim who would choose to opt out … would be guilty of a far greater crime than a mere breach of contract – and this would be tantamount to blasphemy or apostasy”. You are aware that blasphemy and apostasy are among the worst crimes in Islam, in many countries punishable by death.

The problem posed by Islamic fundamentalists attempting to create a parallel legal system is an argument agains the development of private legal systems. If marriage law became privatized with couples able to enter into their own customized marriage contracts with binding arbitration this would set up the conditions to allow Muslim women to be systematically pressured into very unfavorable terms by the radical Muslim fundamentalists.

In virtually every western country with a sizeable Muslim minority there is pressure from Islamists for a separate civil and criminal law. They seek to establish their own state to oppress people, legally and officially. There must be no state within a state. Yet this is precisely the objective that the Islamic advocates are pursuing. They argue that it is their duty as good Muslims to work for precisely this end. And this end precisely leads to more forced marriages, more honour killings, more Islamic schools, more FGM-s done secretly, and more harassment and intimidation towards women and girls in ghettos.

Where are the feminists in Canada on this issue? Do they think that women can only be oppressed by white males?

David Frum (originally from Canada - not sure if he's currently a Canadian or American citizen) reports that the Canadian government decided in October 2003 to accept the decisions of this Islamic court system as binding on those who accept its arbitration.

With this decision, taken last October, Canada becomes the first Western country to allow sharia the force of law.

Under sharia, "a woman's testimony ... counts only as half that of a man. So in straight disagreements between husband and wife, the husband's testimony will normally prevail. In questions of inheritance, whilst under Canadian law sons and daughters would be treated equally, under the Sharia daughters receive only half the portion of sons. If the Institute were to have jurisdiction in custody cases, the man will automatically be awarded custody once the children have reached an age of between seven and nine years."

While Frum and Kamguian talk about this Islamic court system as a done deal other articles talk about how the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice is still trying to present itself in a way that will cause Canadian courts to respect its decisions. The October 2003 date that Frum refers to looks to be simply an organizing meeting to try to reach agreement between the many Muslim sects and ethnic groups in Canada. However, that previous report about that meeting claims law on arbitration in Canada has been changed recently in ways that would give an Islamic Sharia court considerable power.

Syed explained that until recent changes in the law, Canadian Muslims have been excused from applying Shariah in their legal disputes.

Arbitration was not deemed to be practical because there was no way to enforce the decisions. Syed said the laws have recently changed with amendments to the Arbitration Act.

''Now, once an arbitrator decides cases, it is final and binding. The parties can go to the local secular Canadian court asking that it be enforced. The court has no discretion in the matter.

''So, the concession given by Shariah is no longer available to us because the impracticality has been removed. In settling civil disputes, there is no choice indeed but to have an arbitration board.''

There is a campaign against this proposed Sharia law court system and one group involved in this campaign is the International Campaign Against Shari'a Court in Canada. Homa Arjomand, coordinator of that organisation, sees Shariah law as a tool for the oppression of women.

On October 21st 2003 , a group of Muslim, elected 30, member council to establish a judicial tribunal for Muslims known as “the Islamic Institute of Civic Justice”. This proposal is designed to persuade Canadian court to uphold decision made under the Shari’a Law.

We strongly believe that this move belongs to the same move that subjected women to various forms of abuse and daily degradation for disobeying Islamic social standards and if Sharia gains legal credibility, it will increase intimidation and threats against innumerable women and it will open the way for future suppression .

Alia Hogben has doubts about a Muslim court system.

But Alia Hogben, president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, expressed reservations about the arbitration committees.

"Who will represent the rights of women?" she asked from Kingston.

Shariah law would be applied instead of Canadian law.

"Considering that the purpose of the Islamic arbitration board is to apply Shariah law, rather than the law of Canada, it is an open question at this point if the courts will overturn decisions that are not in accordance with Canadian law," says Janet Epp Buckingham, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Sharia law is not compatible basic human rights. If the Canadian courts try to pretend otherwise many Canadian Muslims will become far less free than they are today.

By Randall Parker    2004 April 07 12:36 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2004 April 01 Thursday
EU Agency Misconstrues Sources Of Attacks On Jews

European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) says evil white males are the biggest source of anti-semitic attacks in Europe.

Anti-Semitic violence is on the rise in several EU countries, including Britain, with “young white men” the main perpetrators, the EU’s anti-racism office said today.

A report, released at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, cited Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany as among the EU countries where anti-Semitic incidents are the rise.

The report found that during the first three months of last year Britain saw a 75% increase in incidents over the same period in 2002. The report said there were two cases of suspected arson and several attacks on Jewish cemeteries.

The report by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia found that attacks on Jews were being mainly carried out by “young white men influenced by extreme right ideas.”

Could this possibly be true?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports that European Jewish Congress claims the EU is twisting the data to fit its ideological biases.

"The largest group of the perpetrators of anti-Semitic activities appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans," said a summary released to the European Parliament . "A further source of anti-Semitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction.

"Traditionally, anti-Semitic groups on the extreme Right played a part in stirring opinion," it added.

The headline findings contradict the body of the report. This says most of the 193 violent attacks on synagogues, Jewish schools, kosher shops, cemeteries and rabbis in France in 2002 - up from 32 in 2001 - were "ascribed to youth from neighbourhoods sensitive to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, principally of North African descent. "The percentage attributable to the extreme Right was only nine per cent in 2002," it said.

That last sentence refers to attacks in France. But the text of the main report (see below) is fairly supportive of the argument that most of the attacks in Europe as a whole are coming from Muslims. Since France is an outlier in terms of number of attacks it represents a large fraction of all the attacks in Europe. Therefore it seems very unlikely that whites could be responsible for the bulk of the attacks in Europe as a whole given the small number of attacks attributable to whites in France.

The European Lefties in the EU bureaucracy who wrote the report summary are trying to pin all the blame on fascist white males while simultaneously trying to appeal to those poor downtrodden and oppressed Muslims. Reporters who didn't bother to carefully check the body of the report conveyed the misleading summary conclusion. How utterly predictable.

The spin put on the report by the EU has made at least one European Muslim leader happy with the report.

Amir Zaidan, Director of the Islamic Religious Studies Institute in Vienna, said “It is very important to have such reports produced. Muslims are just as much the victims of racism as Jews. It is in the interests of Muslims to have this evil eradicated. We suffer from it too.”

Here is an EUMC press release on the report. (PDF format)

The main report shows that there has been an increase in antisemitic incidents in five EU countries, (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK). These incidents ranged from hate mail to arson. In some other countries there has been little evidence of increase in antisemitism. “These reports are a clear indication of the seriousness with which the European Union takes the subject of antisemitism and of our determination to tackle it”, said Beate Winkler, Director of the EUMC. Although it is not easy to generalise, the largest group of the perpetrators of antisemitic activities appears to be young, disaffected white Europeans. A further source of antisemitism in some countries was young Muslims of North African or Asian extraction. Traditionally antisemitic groups on the extreme right played a part in stirring opinion.

There are several times more Muslims than Jews in France and, not coincidentally, Jews are on the receiving end of most of the attacks in France.

Of the 313 racist, xenophobic or antisemitic incidents reported in 2002, 193 were directed at the Jewish communist.

In Britain the rate of attacks against Jews is rising rapidly.

...and statistics for the first quarter of 2003 already show a 75% increase in incidents compared to the same quarter of 2002.

Page 21 of the main report (page 22 in the PDF reader) has details on who are the perpetrators of violence against Jews in Europe.

In some countries - e.g. France and Denmark - the NFPs conclude that there is indeed evidence of a shift away from extreme right perpetrators toward young Muslim males. In France the Human Rights Commission (CNCDH) notes that the percentage of antisemitic violence attributable to the extreme right was only 9% in 2002 (against 14% in 2001 and 68% in 1994). The CNCDH concludes that the revival of antsemitism can be attributed to the worsening of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, notably in the spring of 2002, correspondng with the Israeli army offensive in the West Bank and the return of suicide bombings in Israel.

The report goes on to describe a shift toward Muslim perpetrators in Denmark but the report claims that in the Netherlands 80% of the perpetrators are white. Some countries do not systematically collect data on the race of perpetrators. It is worth noting that France has the highest percentage of of Muslims of any European country and it has the highest amount of violence against Jews. Also the trend is toward Muslim perps:

The reports of the NFPs have not only shown that some countries have perceived an increase in antisemitic incidents during the last years, but that this increase was also to some extent accompanied by a change in the profiles of perpetrators reported to the data collecting bodies. Particularly in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK, it is no longer solely or predominately the extreme right that is named as alleged perpetrators of antisemitic incidents; a varying proportion of victims of hostility in these countries classified perpetrators to be "young Muslims", "people of North African origin", or "immigrants".

The population of those countries total up to being more than half the population of the EU and those countries account for the bulk of the Muslim population in the EU.

Aside: While prowling around the EUMC website I came across a report with a revealing title: Future EU human rights agency must not detract from urgent fight against racism, says EUMC (PDF format). Think about that title. A fight for human rights can be in conflict with a fight against racism? How can that be?

Second Aside: Another report on the EUMC website is entitled "The fight against Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Bringing Communities together" (PDF format). Looking through it the thought struck me that the EU has not written a report on the phobia that many Muslim fundamentalists feel toward anyone who is not a Muslim. So there is no report on Muslim phobia toward European non-Muslim whites. Do not expect the EU to release a report on that topic any time soon.

By Randall Parker    2004 April 01 02:00 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2004 March 24 Wednesday
John Derbyshire On The New Kinds Of Intolerance

John Derbyshire has written an excellent rant on what he sees as "a trend towards a European-style society dominated by an arrogant overclass of credentialed intellectuals".

We have not, in fact, gone "beyond tolerance" at all, we have merely invented new kinds of intolerance. We have not swept away caste-feudalism and replaced it with a shining meritocratic egalitarianism; we have just traded in one style of caste-feudalism for another style. This is not a society "in which people feel free to hold whatever private views on all human groups and behaviors." People are ashamed of their private beliefs and fearful to disclose them. They are baffled by the fact that sincere opinions held by their parents and grandparents, rooted in custom, good sense, scripture, and everyday observation, are now shouted down as "bigoted" and "intolerant." What use are private beliefs anyway, if they are excluded from the public square by a suffocating conformity, imposed by an ever-vigilant Thought Police backed by armies of predatory lawyers? Under this relentless pressure, private beliefs fade from all but the bravest hearts, to be replaced with the state-approved formulas: diversity, inclusiveness, equality, compassion, respect.

And it is not merely private beliefs that are crushed out of existence by this pressure. I wondered aloud a few paragraphs ago whether I am supposed to extend my "respect" and "regard" to groups with high crime statistics, or groups that spread disease, or groups that hate America. The answer, as we all know, is not merely: "Yes, Sir, you are." The answer is, that if I even mention such plain facts, I am a very wicked person. The orthodoxy of "tolerance" that Ms. Noonan is so pleased with seeks to stamp out not only private opinions, but also actual facts.

The full essay is excellent and I strongly recommend reading it in full. One important point he makes is that the taboos against the strong biological basis of human nature and of differences in behavior and cognitive processes between people are having the effect of slowing down research into these areas while the research is going ahead in other countries. This gives an advantage to, for example, China in developing a better understanding of intelligence and in the development of techniques for boosting intellectual abiltiies.

Our taboos and enforced political correctness cost us in all sorts of ways. For example, Steve Sailer has made the very excellent observation that the Orientalist scholars of the Arabs were basically squeezed out of academia by Edward Said and other left-leaning critics of the Orientalists. This had the effect of eliminating American academia as a significant source of experts to help formulate US govenment policy toward the Middle East. This, in turn, opened the door for rather ideological neoconservative activists who didn't understand the Arabs very well to exert much greater influence over US policy. So by preventing more reasonable and rational people from doing scholarly work on the Middle East Edward Said and his America-hating allies gave power to their ideological enemies.

By Randall Parker    2004 March 24 12:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2004 March 15 Monday
Spengler Sees Demographic Decline Underlying Spain Election Result

The pseudonymous Spengler explains the Spanish election result and Spain's withdrawal of its from Iraq in demographic terms.

Spain's death-knell sounded long before the train bombings in Madrid, however. No country in the world is more determined to disappear. The country's fertility rate of 1.12 live births per female is the lowest in the world. As recently as 1975, at the death of strongman Francisco Franco, the fertility rate stood at 3 births per female in 1976. By 2050 Spain will have lost a quarter of its population. Germany and Italy, whose fertility rates fell earlier than Spain's, will lose a third, according to economist Anthony Scholefield.

Spengler argues that the defeat of Jose Maria Aznar's conservatives in Spain is a consequence of a popular intuitive understanding that the Spanish people, demographically speaking, have no future.

Socialist voters may not have worked out the arithmetic; Jose Zapatero's supporter in the street simply does not want to be burdened with America's distant wars, especially if they draw fire at home. It all amounts to the same thing. Countries too lazy to produce their next generation will not fight. Who will lay down his life for future generations when the future generations simply will not be there?

In an earlier essay Spengler argued that the Europeans see no point to life and therefore are failing to reproduce in adequate numbers.

Have the Europeans taken to heart existentialism's complaint that man is alone in a chaotic universe in which life has no ultimate meeting, and that man responds to the anxiety about death by embracing death?

Detest as I might the whole existentialist tribe, there is a grain of truth here, and it bears on a parallel development, that is, the death of European Christianity. Fifty-three percent of Americans say that religion is very important in their lives, compared with 16 percent, 14 percent and 13 percent respectively of the British, French and Germans, according to a 1997 University of Michigan survey.

This is a great analysis and unfortunately is likely at least part of the explanation for Europe's prevailing attitudes. In that latter essay Spengler explains Europe's resentment of the United States and Israel as fitting into this analysis as well.

Europe has produced so many ideas that have undermined its place in the world and caused it such massive disasters. The wars have been only the most dramatic manifestations of bad European ideas. Current European immgration policy is another slowly building disaster as is the birth dearth. While these latter disasters are, at least superficially, less dramatic and immediate they promise to be far more permanently damaging to European civilization.

Check out more great Spengler essays.

By Randall Parker    2004 March 15 01:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
2004 February 25 Wednesday
Mark Steyn On Enterprising Muslim Welfare Recipients

While it is widely believed (except on the political Left of course) that getting welfare benefits tends to corrupt spirits and cause people to become lazy and decadent Mark Steyn points out that one group in the West has turned the welfare state into a source of enormous opportunity.

As an idea, the multicultural welfare state is too weak to have any purchase on us: that, indeed, is its principal virtue in the eyes of its few fanatical zealots - Polly Toynbee, Baroness Kennedy, etc; politically speaking, it's an allegiance for those who disdain allegiance. Most of us give a shrug of indifference and go back to watching the telly, like Susan Moore. A few look elsewhere, like those Tipton Talibannies. On the Continent, they're just beginning to wake up to the looming iceberg of unsustainable welfare systems. But, like the Sun's Shop-A-Sponger Hotline, they're missing the point. It's not the cost, it's the system itself. The cradle-to-grave welfare society enfeebles the citizenry to such a degree you can never generate enough money.

Happily, not all recipients waste their time on the dole: Muhammed Metin Kaplan set up his Islamist group, Caliphate State, while on welfare in Cologne; Ahmed Ressam, arrested in Washington State en route to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, hatched his plot while on welfare in Montreal; Zacarias Moussaoui, the "20th hijacker" currently on trial in America, became an Islamist radical while on welfare in London; Abu Hamza became Britain's most famous fire-breathing imam while on welfare in London; Abu Qatada, a leading al-Qaeda recruiter, became an Islamist bigshot while British taxpayers were giving him 10 times as much per week as Susan Moore. It was only when he was discovered to have £150,000 in his bank account that the Department for Work and Pensions turned off the spigot. If only the Susan Moore-ish super-spongers were as purposeful as the neo-Moorish super-spongers.

Perhaps the Europeans are on to something with their continued toleration of illegal Muslim immigrants, Muslim asylum seekers, and continued legal Muslim immigration. The Euros have to know that their welfare states are robbing their nations of vitality. So what did the clever, urbane, and sophisticated European elites do in response? They looked around and found an immigrant group that would not be corrupted by the modern social welfare state. That is certainly a stroke of genius. It is obvious that the American Right has been far too harsh about the deficiencies of Europe. We have no bold stroke of genius to compare to that.

The venture capitalists and self-made entrepreneurs should admire this curious strain of immigrant entrepreneurial initiative in pursuit of the jihadist market. It takes a lot of personal drive and a definite willingness to take risks to be able to develop and execute terrorist plots while living in a Western welfare state. It would be only too easy for Muslims in Europe to just sit around watching the telly or getting involved in illicit drug use. But these jihadists turn their backs on the temptations of the idle and decadent life. Imagine what they could do if they turned their attention to proselytizing amongst Europe's tens of milions who are living off the dole. Islam could give these lay-abouts and bums a new sense of purpose and direction. Rather than sleeping in late every day and hanging out listlessly while having illegitimate neglected babies the bums-turned-converts, fired up by a clear message of the hate of infidels provided by the unambiguous words of the Prophet, could fill their days with prayers and weapons training and their nights with plotting and building bombs.

I am surprised that mass immigration advocates in the United States are not pointing to the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrant jihadists to promote the virtues of immigration. The willingness to work against tough odds in the face of considerable resistance should appeal to Panglossians of the utopian capitalistic variety. At the very same time, the jihadists on welfare should get more support from good Leftists because, again, the Jihadists on the dole show that welfare does not have to result in laziness and decadence. If the non-Muslim poor could only be stirred to some great purpose they would demonstrate to all welfare skeptics that the nanny state does not have to rob its charges of drive and ambition.

By Randall Parker    2004 February 25 11:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 November 21 Friday
French Mayor, Strasbourg Muslims Disagree On Teachings

The mayor of Strasbourg France is trying to bridge an unbridgeable gap. (same article here)

Mayor Fabienne Keller informed Muslim leaders last week that the municipal subsidy also required that they preach a "French Islam", guarantee women's rights and inform City Hall about their view on whether Muslim girls should wear headscarves.

The association planning the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg rejected the demand and said it would rather forego the subsidy - amounting to 10% of the six million euro ($7.16 million) overall cost - than go along with the city's demands.

The French government is considering banning headscarves from schools. The French are headed in the direction of headscarf bans even as the Islamic party now in charge in Turkey is trying to revoke the bans against headscarf wearing in government facilities.

If Islam was compatible with Western liberal democracy then the futile argument that is playing out in Strasbourg wouldn't be necessary in the first place.

See the related previous post: Norwegian Minister Wants Muslims In Norway To Modernize.

Update:French publishing house Yves Michalon, under pressure of death threats and internal opposition, has dropped plans to publish a French translation of Robert Spencer's Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith. Translator Guy Milliere says that in France it has become fashionable to claim that anyone who criticises Islam is guilty of Islamophobia.

Soon after the book’s publication was approved in France last April, its translator, French writer Guy Milliere, began to receive death threats.

...

For his part, Spencer calls the cancellation of his book’s publication “...a symptom of the Islamic agenda in France and the silencing of non-Muslims as ‘dhimmis’.”

“What you have here is a subjugation of public opinion in France,” he said. “It’s ironic. If you don’t say Islam is a religion of peace, they will kill you. My book doesn’t advocate murdering anyone. It only investigates questions about Islam, but it is so threatening that they’ll kill to silence it.”

In light of this turn of events Mayor Keller is actually being fairly brave by French standards by standing up in some small way to fundamentalist Islam.

For more on Robert Spencer see Robert Spencer on the Nature of Islam and David Klinghoffer on Islam and Non-Believers, For more on Guy Milliere see Guy Milliere says France No Longer A Western Country and FrontPage Symposium: The Death of France?.

Also see related posts Headscarves And Islam In France And Turkey and Theodore Dalrymple on French Ghettoes.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 21 06:10 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 November 04 Tuesday
Mugabe Hero To Upper Middle Class African Blacks

The Spectator has a chilling article entitled Mugabe is their darling: Aidan Hartley finds that the Zimbabwean president is regarded as a hero by Africa’s upper middle classes.

In Johannesburg recently I hooked up with Mojo, an old drinking chum from Dar es Salaam, where in the 1980s I was an FT stringer covering the ‘frontline states’ and he was an officer in the ANC’s armed wing, Mkhonto we Sizwe. These days I’m a settler on the land in Kenya, while Mojo has risen to become Lieutenant-General Mojo Matau, South Africa’s chief of military intelligence. At our reunion the beers flowed freely into the night as we remembered the old days. Mojo and I slapped each other on the back and held hands for a bit. Then I asked my friend, this man in the kitchen cabinet of ANC power in the new South Africa, what he thought of Robert Mugabe. At his reply my heart sank. He described Zimbabwe’s President as a hero for what he’s done to white farmers, and a leader who illuminated the path ahead for South Africa. I remonstrated, as I always do, and ended by telling Mojo that I saw myself as an African first, a white second, and that it was my ardent wish to stay on the continent. ‘Your only home,’ countered Mojo, gently taking my hand again, ‘is England.

The persecution of whites in South African will gradually increase and whites will continue to flee when they are able. Eventually the Indians will probably follow them once there are not enough white targets and the black racists turn their attention toward other non-black groups.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 04 11:37 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2003 November 02 Sunday
On European Attitudes Toward Israel, Iran, And North Korea

The Europeans think Israel is the biggest threat to world peace.

"The European Union, which shows sensitivity on human rights issues, would do well to stop the rampant brainwashing against and demonizing of Israel before Europe deteriorates once again to dark sections of its past," Sharansky told Sunday's Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

El Pais reported on Friday that 59 percent of Europeans rate Israel as the most threatening country, ahead of the United States, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Anti-semitism? Could that be the cause of the results of this poll?

The EU mandarins are holding back the results.

The European Commission is coming under fire for publishing the results of a number of questions - relating to Iraqi reconstruction - while failing to publish the results which revealed the extent of mistrust of Israel and the United States in Europe.

Rabbi Marvin Hier says the result defies logic.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said it was outraged at published reports that the 59 percent of 7,500 Europeans surveyed called Israel a larger threat to world peace than North Korea or Iran. Wiesenthal Center dean Rabbi Marvin Hier said the result "defies logic and is a racist flight of fantasy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society, more than any other period since the end of World War II."

Does this result defy logic? I try so hard to understand people and yet a key element of the belief systems of others can escape my notice in large part because I could not imagine actually holding some beliefs that others see as perfectly reasonable to believe. With that in mind here are some tentative wild speculations about what the Europeans might believe that would cause them to decide that the Israelis are the biggest threat to world peace:

  • America is sufficiently angry at Europe to no longer defend it and Europe fears Israel could easily defeat the combined might of European armies. In this scenario what is driving European belief is that Israel will invade and conquer Europe in order to shut down terrorist funding that comes from Europe. Europe, being a civilization that has lost its confidence and helpless in the face of its Eurabian future feels it is stuck between a rock and hard place. Its population just wants a chance to grow old and die off in relative peace before the Muslims seize control.
  • Europe is afraid of the bull and yet the matador keeps waving the red flag. The idea here is that the Israelis, simply by asserting their right to exist, are like a matador waving a red flag at the Muslims. The Europeans, deathly afraid of the bull, want the matador to stop. The matador is making the European policy of appeasement unworkable and it is one of their favorite foreign policy tools.
  • The Europeans have such a low opinion of the Persians and the North Koreans that they can't imagine either peoples creating a great threat whereas the Europeans think the Jews are really smart and capable of making really dangerous weapons. In this analysis the European attitude is actually a compliment to the Israelis in a backhanded sort of way. Though it also betrays a provincial naivete due to the fact that the Europeans have had more direct experience with smart Jews (enough to want to kill them by the millions) than with smart Persians or smart Koreans. Having studied with smart Persians in college I find this hard to believe. But then during the Shah's era the smart Persians went to school in southern California, not in Europe and most Korean immigrants came to the US as well. So I guess the European ignorance on Iran and North Korea is somewhat understandable.
  • The Europeans really do believe the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Again, the explanation here is provincial ignorance. Yes, they live in dense-packed cities and claim to be well-educated. But they are still suckers for historical forgeries and think the Israelis are plotting to take over the whole world. This also explains why they think the United States ranks lower than Israel as a threat. They think of Americans as just a bunch of ignorant yokels that we are just manipulated puppets in the hands of the Israelis. So we join the ranks of the dummies along with the North Koreans and Persians. Cool. Hi there fellow dummies.
  • The Europeans are secretly still doubting Christians and believe that the final war will be fought on the plains of Armageddon just as prophesied in Revelations in the New Testament. In this analysis we have the lapsed agnostic Europeans still fearing the prophetic pronouncements of the old time religion that they claim to have abandoned with their embrace of John Lennon's "No hell below us. Above us only sky."
  • The Europeans figured Muslims would read the poll results and the Euros wanted to signal their sympathy and devotion to the Muslims. The idea here is that many Euros wanted to use the poll result as a form of appeasement toward Arab Muslim populations in Europe and in neighboring Arab countries.

Mind you, these are only wild-eyed speculations. As a ignorant hick sitting on the edge of the Pacific Rim I can't hope to understand the wisdom of those distant people who occupy the exalted center of Western Civilization. If you have any better informed or even less informed speculations on this question please post them in the comments.

The Dutch view Israel with particular fear. (Daily Telegraph, free reg. reg'd)

The Eurobarometer poll of 7,500 EU residents found that 59 per cent deemed Israel "a threat to peace in the world", with the figures rising to 60 per cent in Britain, 65 in Germany, 69 in Austria and 74 in Holland.

...

Asked if America posed a threat to peace, the "yes" response was 55 per cent in Britain, 52 in France and 45 in Germany.

In Greece, the figure reached 88 per cent, with 96 per cent calling the Iraq war "unjustified".

The Greeks are hysterically hostile toward the United States. Why? My guess is the US handling of the Balkans. The Greeks identify with their fellow Orthodox Serbian brothers. They were mad that the US sided with the Muslim Albanians and Bosnians and the Catholic Croats against the Serbs. From a Greek perspective the Serbs were just trying to hold on to territory that had been Serb for very long time. At the same time, the Greeks feel threatened by an Albanian influx.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 02 02:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (30)
2003 October 29 Wednesday
Theodore Dalrymple On The Embrace Of Lower Class Accents

Theodore Dalrymple reports on a growing phenomenon in Britain where middle and upper class people try to sound lower class in order to sound less elitist.

Not long ago I read the obituary of a pop singer — the only good pop singer being a dead pop singer — who was reported to have come from a middle-class family, but who was so incensed by what he thought was the false gentility of his school that he forever afterwards adopted a South London accent.

This is a modern curiosity, indeed, to adopt in the name of authenticity an accent that is not naturally yours, and that must be learnt and rehearsed. Elocution lessons today are designed to disguise an embarrassingly superior social origin.

None of this would matter very much — after all, only a fool would discount what someone said solely because of the accent in which he said it, or recognise that cultivation in speech is much more than a matter of accent — if it were not of a piece with other manifestations of the very marked downward cultural aspiration in this country. I have noticed, for example, that so great is the bullying ideological pressure on the young to manifest a thoroughly plebeian taste that even highly intelligent students feel constrained to distract themselves in exactly the same way as the semi-literates of their own age. Cultural refinement is suspect precisely because it is by nature elitist; almost no one makes the important distinction between elitism and social exclusivity, which are by no means the same. The one is made to stand for the other.

Dalrymple sees this as egalitarianism taken to harmful excess.

The attack on received pronunciation is only a particular instance of the relativist notion that there is no higher and lower, no better and worse, no correct and incorrect, and therefore nothing to aim at or aspire to.

Attempts to eliminate hierarchies cut against human nature. People arrange themselves into hierarchies every bit as naturally as do packs of wolves. The biggest damage comes when the process of judging and treating people as different - whether in abilities, moral beliefs, religious beliefs, ideological beliefs, conduct, or character - is blocked from operating. When drug dealers and toughs can't be thrown out of public housing or unruly students can't be removed from classes or applicants for positions can not be tested in the most efficient and accurate ways possible society functions less well. When some people make choices in life that impose more or less of a burden on others if that can not be pointed out then we can not encourage the best sorts of behavior and again society as a whole is worse off.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 29 11:55 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 October 08 Wednesday
Jean Francois Revel On Anti-Americanism

The New Criterion has a very interesting essay by French intellectual Jean Francois Revel adapted from his book Anti-Americanism which is entitled The anti-American obsession.

When, in December 2001, Jean-Marie Messier said that “French-style cultural exceptionalism is dead,” he aroused horrified protests, but he was not going nearly far enough. He could have added: in fact, French cultural exceptionalism has never existed, thank goodness. If it had, it would be French culture itself that would be extinct. Let’s suppose that the sixteenth-century kings of France, instead of inviting Italian artists to their courts, had said to themselves: “This predominance of Italian painting is insufferable. We’ll keep those painters and their pictures out of the country.” The result of this castrating démarche would have been to thwart a renewal of French art. Again: between 1880 and 1914 there were many more French Impressionist paintings in American museums and the homes of private collectors than there were in France, despite which—or because of which—American art was subsequently able to find its own wellsprings, and then influence French art in turn.

These cross-fertilizations are indifferent to political antagonisms. It was during the first half of the seventeenth century, when France and Spain were frequently at war, that the creative influence of Spanish literature on the French was particularly marked. The eighteenth century, which saw repeated conflict between France and England, was also the period when the most active and productive intellectual exchanges between the two countries occurred.

Revel sees the greatest threat to French culture not from American culture or capitalism but from a willful attempt to cut France and Europe off from outside influences and the march of history.

The real danger—conceivably a mortal one—for European culture is that anti-American and antiglobalist phobias might derail progress. Guy Sorman has shown the scientific and technological retreats this obscurantism has led to in his book Le Progrès et ses ennemis. And this isn’t some “right-wing” or “left-wing” thesis; it is a rational one. It is defended alike by the liberal-democrat Sorman and by the socialist Claude Allègre. The latter wages war against the idea that Europe should abandon nuclear energy, genetic engineering and research using embryonic cells. Should the pressure groups that agitate against progress win the day, in twenty years the European states will regress, he writes, “to the level of the underdeveloped countries, in a world that will be dominated by the United States and China” (L’Express, February 7, 2002.) The anti-American fanatics will then have succeeded in making Europe even more dependant on the United States than it is today.

Revel thinks isolation brings on stagnation and that influences from other cultures cause a culture to produce its own innovations and new cultural products and schools of thought.

The original French version of Revel's book was also discussed in this previous post John Vinocur: Why France disdains America.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 08 01:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 September 14 Sunday
So-Called Progressives Take Over NYC Schools

Sol Stern of the City Journal is understandably upset that New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed a leftist ideologue named Diana Lam to run New York City schools as head of the newly created Department of Education.

During the summer recess, almost all of the system's principals and thousands of teachers were coerced or bribed into seminars for some more brainwashing. In these sessions (run by professors at progressive-education bastions such as Columbia University's Teachers College), it was made clear that every single literacy and math class in the city must hew to the same topics and utilize the exact same teaching methods.

Phonics and other common sense approaches to teaching are being tossed out unceremoniously.

Existing literacy programs stressing phonics that were previously working well in low performing schools (such as "Success for All") were dumped by Lam without so much as a hearing. The new preferred curriculum and methodology are being imposed across the board; principals and teachers will raise objections at their professional peril.

It is sad to see someone given the authority to basically run a big school system into the ground by using all the bad ideas that regularly come out of university education departments. But if the frauds that staff the nation's academic education departments make New York City's school system even worse than it already is then is this a bad thing in the bigger scheme of things? It is certainly bad for the kids attending public schools in New York City. But this will have some small positive benefits by, for instance, driving more parents to send their children to private schools. The bigger upside is that the left-liberal elite in New York City will have front-row seats to the consequences of the intellectual bankruptcy of what passes for the discipline of education in modern day American academe. It is possible they might figure out just how stupid "progressive" education really is. Though it seems more likely they will just claim that the problem is insufficient funding and that there needs to be even greater ideological indoctrination of the teachers. If the lefties in New York City don't clue in (and their failure to learn seems the more likely outcome given past experience) then at least New York City's school system will serve as an example to the rest the nation of why professional educators can not be trusted with something as important as the education of youth.

By Randall Parker    2003 September 14 12:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 September 12 Friday
Corruption Is Rife In South Africa

A series of charges of corruption of South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma and his supposed puppet master Schabir Shaik and the apparent willingness of the elites of South Africa's government to protect Zuma have to be seen in light of a wider growing pattern of corruption in South Africa.

Personally, the current row takes me back to a conversation I had with one of the editors of the Weekly Mail (as it then was) in early 1994. Had he not noticed, I inquired, how many leading ANC figures had quickly acquired godfathers who were paying their way? Mandela had been provided with a palatial mansion by Douw Steyn. Sol Kerzner was making free with lavish hospitality for the whole ANC leadership so much so that the Mafikeng ANC branch had passed a motion criticising Thabo Mbeki for his "perceived over-closeness" to Kerzner.

Mbeki himself had acquired a BMW almost as soon as he returned to SA. Cyril Ramaphosa was being taken through upmarket fly-fishing resorts by Sidney Frankel. A number of ANC leaders already had children in expensive private schools. And so on.

...

I recall another conversation at that time with a leading trade unionist. He explained to me that he and his comrades had always taken it for granted that they would be poorer than their peers and that this was part of the struggle. Then, however, they had met the returning exile ANC leadership and realised with shock that many of them were well off and intending to become seriously rich.

"The effect was explosive. From that moment on all the comrades wanted the same. Corruption within the unions really took off," he told me.

Of course, this has to mean that South Africa is going down the tubes. Racism against non-blacks will reduce the number of competent people in key positions in government and industry. Corruption is just another reason why poor decision-making will cause a general deterioration. This puts the whites still left in South Africa in a difficult position. The whites are not allowed to take any property when they leave. So the older ones would have to leave with no retirement savings and the younger ones with fewer skills will find it hard to find nations that will accept them.

By Randall Parker    2003 September 12 05:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 August 19 Tuesday
The Growing Economic Disincentives For Having Large Families

James Surowiecki has a very interesting article in The New Yorker about a forthcoming book entitled The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke that argues it is becoming more expensive for couples to raise children.

You might, then, expect American families to be luxuriating in good fortune. But, compared with people who don’t have children, people who do are in worse economic shape than they’ve ever been in. The Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi demonstrate, in their forthcoming book “The Two-Income Trap,” that having a child is now the best indicator of whether someone will end up in “financial collapse.” Married couples with children are twice as likely as childless couples to file for bankruptcy. They’re seventy-five per cent more likely to be late paying their bills. And they’re also far more likely to face foreclosure on their homes. Most of these people are not, by the usual standards, poor. They’re middle-class couples who are in deep financial trouble in large part because they have kids.

Warren and Tyagi argue for a public school voucher system to help deal with this problem. But housing prices are one reason why much of the middle class is opposed to school vouchers. People who paid high housing prices to buy a house in a neighborhood with an excellent school do not want to see vouchers used to bring in students from other areas who will compete with their kids for slots in the highly rated school that is near their house. As the need for more education has increased the competition for ensuring quality education for offspring has intensified. Therefore worries about the ability to send potential offspring to quality schools become an additional disincentive for having children.

One perverse consequence of these disincentives is that they are felt less strongly by those who are less educated and less bright themselves. Those who are not well educated tend, on average, to not be as bright as those who are well educated. So one effect of these disincentives is to select against intelligent offspring. Note if you click thru on that link and follow thru to the original articles on the Australian Twins Registry study that there are two separate selective effects measured: years of education (which is a decent rough proxy for intelligence - not that the researchers will say that) and types of religious belief - with Catholics standing out as having measurably different reproductive rates than other Australians. The religious influence should not be too surprising. What people believe affects what they do.

The writers also point out that the gradual growth of the expectation in the post-World War II era that all middle class kids should go to college has effectively become an additional disincentive for having more children. Each child a middle class couple gives birth to translates into an even larger expense per year when the kid goes off to college. As college tuition has risen more rapidly than overall inflation this disincentive has continued to grow.

The need for two incomes has an interesting consequence that I rarely see mentioned: if one member of the couple becomes unemployed and can not find a job locally then the couple have a reason to move to another part of the country. But then both have to find a new job at a new location. When only the husband worked the decisions about when to move and where to work were much easier to make. Ups and downs in particular industries were easier to adjust for. Having two members of a household working becomes an incentive to move to near a major metropolitan area to increase the odds that both members of a married couple will be able to find work in their area of expertise.

By Randall Parker    2003 August 19 01:28 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 July 31 Thursday
Australian Muslim Preacher Warns Against Extremist Muslim Preachers

Intolerant hardcore foreign Muslim preachers are travelling to Australia to spread their message to Australian Muslims.

EXTREMISTS preaching social disharmony and intolerance are visiting Australia specifically to target young Muslims, the spiritual leader of the nation's Islamic community has warned.

Sheikh Taj Din Al Hilaly accused the Immigration Department of failing to vet visiting Islamic speakers who were brainwashing young Muslims with extreme right-wing doctrine.

...

He said he feared for the future if the trend were not reversed.

If Australia hadn't allowed Muslims to immigrate to the country in the first place they wouldn't be having this problem.

Will the Australian government step in to keep out the hardliner doctrinaire intolerant Muslim preachers? Don't count on it. Aussie Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock is claiming that the Australian government is doing a great job keeping out the fundies and that if they try harder they will be criticised.

"When we do have people coming from the Middle East who are going to preach ... we look very carefully at their backgrounds before they're allowed to come," he said.

"And often I'm criticised with scrutinising those matters too closely.

The more Muslims that come to Australia (or any other Western nation) the more there will be to complain and lobby for allowing more to come and to allow more radical ones to come. Until Islam grows up and goes thru something equivalent to the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment why should Western nations put themselves in the position of having to deal with this?

By Randall Parker    2003 July 31 11:28 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 July 04 Friday
Theodore Dalrymple Compares Spain, Britain

Theodore Dalrymple compares the quality of life in Spain and Britain in an essay in the Daily Telegraph entitled The cost to Britain of confusing money with wealth.

There are differences in public behaviour, too. I saw more litter in a hundred yards on my return to Britain than I had seen in a thousand miles in Spain (this is the most literal truth): and I couldn't help recalling the title of a book about the Spanish as seen through Nazi eyes, entitled Intrepidos y sucios, Intrepid and Dirty. But it is now Britain that is well and truly the dirty man of Europe.

Spanish youth, while disagreeably noisy, certainly does not behave with the hideous, determined vulgarity of British youth. It does not eat in the street, is not menacing in appearance, nor does it display the egotistical malignity of its British counterpart, which turns almost any social interaction into a potentially violent confrontation.

In America so much of politics has been taken over by a battle between entitlements spending, defense spending, and tax policy that ideological wars dominate too much of our political discourse. Ideological libertarians argue that we have a government which is too large, intrusive, and harmful. I even agree with them. But there is a public space that can not be removed and the whole "Broken Windows" approach for controlling crime argues very convincingly that the appearances of houses, office buildings, and public spaces matter a great deal. But the Left is too busy fighting for extensions to the redistributionist state to have time or even money left over as they busily try to enact more entitlements. Republicans fearful of the senior vote are about to vote in the beginnings of a huge old folks prescription drug benefit even as existing old age government entitlements are about to grow to unaffordable levels

Of course the Spanish have their own unsustainable entitlements. But somehow they've managed to appreciate their public spaces and to do a much better job than the Brits of passing culture along to newer generations.

By Randall Parker    2003 July 04 03:56 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 June 22 Sunday
In Norway Sentenced Criminals Wait Years To Be Sent To Prison

Vidar Sandli finally had to tell his fiance Aida Hassan years after they met that he had been convicted and sentenced to jail before he met her and that a vacancy in the Norwegian jail system had finally opened up and he had to leave her to go serve his prison sentence.

Sandli, 41, had been convicted and sentenced more than four years earlier, before he met her, but so chronic is the shortage of jail cells in Norway that he - like thousands of other criminals - was forced to wait indefinitely for a place to become vacant.

"At first, before I met Aida, I was calling the courts every day, wanting to get my sentence started," said Sandli, who was convicted of possessing two kilograms of cannabis. "I really cleaned up my act after my conviction. I haven't touched drugs since."

He had to wait 4 years to begin serving a 3 year sentence. This is not uncommon in Norway. It is also really bizarre. They do at least jail rapists and murderers immediately. But not all kinds of violent criminals are jailed and some attack again before being put into prison. What kind of nation would subject itself to this kind of nonsense? Are they masochists? Do they want to see just how much they can mess up their society and still have it function?

By Randall Parker    2003 June 22 04:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 June 12 Thursday
FrontPage Symposium: The Death of France?

FrontPageMagazine.com has a symposium on France and Muslims with Jean-François Revel, Charles Kupchan, Guy Milliere, Alain Madelin, Toni Kamins, and Yves Roucaute. Milliere sees France gradually becoming more like Muslim societies.

It starts to be too late to integrate Muslim immigrants into mainstream society, and it’s not the government choice to integrate Muslims. The government choice is to push the mainstream society to accept Islam more and more and to accept the idea that within twenty years, France will be either a Muslim society or a society very open to the values and practices of Muslim societies. Nothing is done right now to push young Muslims to integrate into mainstream society. Everything is done to push them to think they belong to a different community: the Muslim community. Those coming from this community who disagree and who want to say they are completely French are pushed in the margins by the media and by the French politicians. For years, French schools have not pushed new comers to integrate and to love France; they have pushed them to hate France and western civilization.

Madelin lists some of the factors causing the worsening problems in France:

Fourth root: In schools, leftist teachers teach young Muslims that France colonized their countries and that the French army committed atrocities. The result: many young Muslims hate France. It’s not their fault it’s the fault of French education. Fifth root: For years, France has permitted to countries like Saudi Arabia to build many mosques and to send many radical imams to preach in these mosques. The result is a new generation of young radical Muslims.

Note the Saudi money spreading Wahhabism in France: Yet another example of why the United States should fund more basic research in areas that might produce technologies which could produce energy so cheaply that fossil fuels would be displaced as energy sources. Cost-competitive alternatives to fossil fuels would defund the spread of Islam.

In the second part of the symposium Milliere says the American symposium participants do not understand how bad things are getting in France.

Anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are not new in France, what’s new is that they have more and more the colors of Third World anti-Americanism and Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism. Maybe you have to be in France to see that the statements of Revel and Roucaute are not devoid of substance. We, French neo-conservatives, have many reasons to be anxious and we think it’s too easy to say from a far and above position that what we see everyday does not exist and is just a fantasy of old pro-American and pro-Republican reactionaries.

It is a shame that most American neoconservatves are unwilling to see the problem that is caused by immigration from societies that have cultural and religious beliefs that are so fundamentally illiberal and hostile to the West.

Kupchan holds the typical American left-liberal belief that if the US is losing allies it must be because of mistakes the United States is making:

We are losing France, Germany, and Russia as allies. We are gaining Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. The merits of the Central Europeans aside, this is not a trade up. America is in the midst of undoing the multilateral order it worked so hard to build after World War II. Americans, along with everyone else, will be the losers.

What Kupchan is ignoring is that French opposition to American foreign policy has been around for decades and the reasons stem more from flaws in the national French character (basically resentment that they are no longer a first rank world power and envy that a newer country is the most powerful) than from any mistakes in US foreign policy. We are losing France as an ally regardless of what we do. We can't even placate them by doing what they want us to do since they won't respect or like us any more if we do.

It is interesting to note that the French participants in the symposium were far more pessimistic than the Americans.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 12 02:46 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 June 08 Sunday
An English Headmaster Explains Why He Resigned

Nick Butt, a former English school headmaster, explains why he quit.

The irony is that the very schools the government intended would benefit from the relief are too preoccupied to bid for it, and the schools which are not so afflicted take the money instead. Why couldn’t the government simply give me the money and save me writing the bid? I have written bids for behaviour-management money, for sports-facilities money, for a nurture group, for literacy support, for after-school clubs, for our playgroup, for administrative staff and for building projects. Often my bids are successful, so then I have to write reports proving I have satisfied the requirements of the funding, because there are always requirements. After a year the money dries up, and then I have to prove ‘sustainability’ and write an ‘exit programme’. It is incredible how many projects I have sustained without any money. My bidding days are over, because now I have resigned.

He spent his time writing proposals to get money, going to mandated training programs, and going to mandated meetings while being pulled at by various outside bureaucracies all with their own agendas. He lacked sufficient power to solve problems and fix what was wrong but was accountable for all that went wrong.

When power and responsibility are increasingly separated a society will decay. The same pattern this former headmaster reports in England has been happening in the United States as well. If unions have more power and state departments of education have more power and the federal department of education has more power then the managers of the schools have less power. The relationship between the management, parents, and pupils becomes relatively less important. This is not good. Vouchers hold the promise of slicing thru the Gordian knot of bureaucracy that has schools tied up. My biggest reservation about vouchers has to do with religious schools. A voucher system would be problematic if vouchers could be used to send children to Muslim fundamentalist schools. But if only Muslim schools were excluded then that would probably be considered by the courts as an unacceptable favoring of some religions (basically anything non-Muslim) over another religion.

By Randall Parker    2003 June 08 01:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 May 14 Wednesday
Sylvain Galineau Returns To France For A Visit

Sylvain Galineau of the Chicago Boyz blog reacts to France as he finds it.

But most frustrating of all are the ubiquitous reminders of the wealthy, powerful and influential past standing next to the dull, if comfortable, present while everything else promises a mediocre future. And the fact that so many, whether they can put it in words or not, seem to feel the same way yet either don't care anymore, or believe that's the way it is, the latter being more likely to be mad at the U.S. for constantly reminding them how wrong they are. So instead of dealing with the future, we spend the present arguing about the past and building up our accumulating weaknesses and mistakes into so many principles and virtues, watching hour upon hour of TV programming lecturing us on the living hell the American way of life supposedly is, all paid for by McDonald's, Gap and Disney advertising, of course. And nobody asks why so very few allegedly suffering Americans emigrate to Europe while our best young people leave by the tens of thousands for the US or the UK as soon as they have their degrees, as if the education system's motto was "Train The Best, Keep The Rest." When they don't go there to study in the first place.

Since he's on a blogspot blog I can't guarantee that the link offset will work. The time/date is 5/1/2003 06:04:51 AM.

The slower economic growth and social welfare state of many European countries create problems for the US in large part because their frustration can be funnelled into anti-Americanism. We need to deal with this. While some see the rude comments increasingly directed toward Europe and toward France in particular by many on the American Right as unseemly and counterproductive I'm not at all convinced that the net result is bad. When a populace is stuck in a rut creating rationalizations for how the United States is at the root of so much of what is wrong with the world then there's a lot to be said for telling them our most unflattering views of their own society. They really need to hear some serious arguments and even insulting jokes coming from the country they most love to revile. They need to face their own problems and admit harmful consequences of their own government's foreign policy. They are more likely to do this if we are critical of them than if we make nice with them.

Update: The French government says that it has unfairly been targeted by a Bush Administration disinformation campaign.

WASHINGTON, May 15 — France took the highly unusual step today of complaining formally that it had been victimized by a campaign of "repeated disinformation," allegedly fed by officials in the Bush administration, that accused the French of providing military and diplomatic aid to Baghdad. The administration denied the existence of any such campaign.

The French governmnet is going to start monitoring the US media for signs of planted false information.

"As part of the campaign of explanation we are undertaking in the United States, we have decided to count the untrue accusations which have appeared in the U.S. press and which have deeply shocked the French," spokeswoman Marie Masdupuy said.

They are shocked. Poor babies. Shocked. Sacre bleu! (and I'm not even sure what that means).

Look at it on the bright side: The French are actually going to start reading what we are saying rather than just deciding what we are up to and then telling us. They might actually learn something from the experience.

You can read the full text of the letter which the French government has sent to the US government detailing their allegations of misinformation about France supposedly planted in the US press by US officials. The cover letter to the letter is in HTML. But for reasons unfathomable the full letter is in Microsoft Word format (hint to the French Embassy: You can save a Word doc as HTML). However, CNN has a lengthy excerpt from the letter.

• In a September 2002 "Week in Review" section, The New York Times published an article entitled "Psst ... Can I Get a Bomb Trigger?" alleging that in 1998 France and Germany had supplied Iraq with high-precision switches used in detonating nuclear weapons.

The French Embassy issued a denial, which was published the following week in that section's Letters to the Editor column, noting that a French company had indeed received an order for 120 switches, presented as "spare parts" for medical equipment, but that the French authorities had immediately barred this sale and alerted both Germany and the country that had previously sold the equipment that incorporated the switches.

• On November 5, 2002, the front page of The Washington Post carried a story entitled "Four Nations Thought to Possess Smallpox." According to this article, France, along with Russia, Iraq and North Korea possess prohibited human smallpox strains. This "information" was purportedly given to the Washington Post by an "American intelligence source," who mentioned the existence of a "report" on this subject.

At the French Embassy's request, the Post subsequently published a rebuttal from the embassy press office noting that France abides by WHO provisions and by its own national regulations prohibiting the possession of human smallpox strains.

I repeat that I think this spat is healthy. There needs to be a serious airing of the issues between the United States and Europe and with France in particular.

If we are lucky this spat will escalate to a much higher level so that comments such as those by NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson might get the attention they deserve.

Lord Robertson, a former UK defence secretary, said: "Anti-Americanism I see not as a criticism of individual policies or even an individual president. It's a sort of racialist view that the USA is wrong in principle and wrong in practice.

"It is a generic attack on America and American standards and American values and approaches.

"I'm very worried about anti-Americanism because I think it is deeply corrosive to a relationship that is critically important for the overall security of the world.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 14 10:55 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 May 02 Friday
Theodore Dalrymple On Doubling Of British Prison Sucide Rate

In an article on the causes of the doubling of British prison suicide rates since 1983 Theodore Dalrymple provides yet another example of reformers who make society worse in order to make themselves feel better.

Until the 1980s, when the suicide rate rose, it was an offence in prison to harm yourself or to make a suicidal gesture. Unless the doctor considered that you had a bona fide illness that led you to act in this fashion, you were charged with wasting medical time, and lost remission. The abolition of this harsh-sounding regulation was replaced by a more ‘caring’ attitude, and conferred certain advantages in prison upon those who claimed to be suicidal, which resulted — as any sensible person would have expected — in a large increase in acts of self-harm, of which there are now at least 20,000 per year in our prisons. But the abolition of punishment for self-harm achieved its most important end: the gratification of the reformers’ narcissistic urge to feel humane.

Why have outcomes become less important than whether the supporters of a policy believe they have a sincere motive to help?

Jane Galt made a comment recently that captures this desire to believe that a preferred outcome can be achieved by just wanting it badly enough.

I've been an English major. And the unfortunate tendency for those who are verbally fluent and spend four years arguing their opinion through footnotes and elegant phrasing rather than data, is to believe that a nice turn of phrase is as important as hard data. It informs the glib politics of many in the academy who often seem to think that the amusing bon mots of a Doonesbury cartoon constitute serious policy thought. And the reaction I get when explaining, say, rent control -- that somehow I'm just being mean, and that if I wanted to, I could make it so that imposing rent control improved the housing stock rather than destroying it.

Jane builds on her argument in a later post where she reacts to the latest foolish ramblings of Norman Mailer.

There is something about our literary culture that has caused its prominent members to believe that words are the same thing as facts, more important than the objects they describe. They seem to think that one can make up any theory, no matter how ridiculous, and unless it is dramatically falsifiable, it's just as valid as a theory that starts with known facts and basic truisms about human behavior and builds from them. They think style is more important than substance.

And for some reason, they're mad because the rest of us don't take them seriously.

While she unbloggishly (yeah, I just made up the word but it works) doesn't provide a link to the full text of the Mailer piece if you want to read some incoherent nonsense you can go here or here. Mind you, I've decided that life is too short to read lazy-minded and not terribly rigorous big name celebrities even if they manage to get themselves published in otherwise quality newspapers. The major value of the nonsense is that it prods better minds to a level of anger or annoyance that motivates them to write something worth reading. But if you either savour nonsense or savour being able to read it and tear it apart in your mind line by line have at it.

To return to the Dalrymple article: What I wonder is whether the therapeutic state will continue to expand in scope and in the amount of damage it causes. Many institutions were run more wisely before universities produced large numbers of credentialed workers to staff the various institutions of society. Lacking the "benefits" of higher education in previous eras the management of many institutions, using what was then common sense and practical experience, made better decisions than the decisions that are now made by seemingly well meaning experts.

My suspicion is that at the root of all the trouble caused by the sorts of experts that Dalrymple describes lies a unwillingness to accept human nature for what it is. There is a utopianism about the moldability and perfectability of humanity (especially in the hands of credentialed experts) that causes the credentialed experts to pursue policies that make things worse.

By Randall Parker    2003 May 02 01:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 April 23 Wednesday
Theodore Dalrymple On "a break-in went wrong"

Back in early March 2003 the UK Independent ran an article about a break-in in London in which the burglars killed the old woman they found in her home.

Detectives investigating the "horrific and senseless" murder of Victoria Adu-Mensah, 83, in south London, are investigating the possibility she was killed after a break-in went wrong. They are also looking at links to other attacks on elderly people in the area.

Theodore Dalrymple comments on the report:

Thugs break into an old lady’s home and murder her in the most brutal way imaginable, and the police consider her death as an unintended consequence of a normal and even acceptable event, a kind of meteorological freak accident that occurred without the intervention of human agency. A journalist, almost certainly a university graduate, accepts this without demur, because it happily coincides with his newspaper’s liberal outlook.

Yes, if only the break-in hadn't taken a wrong turn and accidentally created a tragedy it would be considered a normal event. Nothing to get alarmed about. The tragedy about this is that this old lady was legally defenseless. Given that victims who injure or kill an assailant in Britain are on very weak legal ground this old lady probably had no legal way to defend herself even if she had had the means. Though there are people who have thought up some creative ideas for how to defend oneself in Britain in spite of the law.

By Randall Parker    2003 April 23 03:31 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 April 07 Monday
Guy Milliere says France No Longer A Western Country

Frenchman Guy Milliere argues France is Not a Western Country Anymore

Gang rape has become so frequent that a new word, used by the rapists themselves to define their hideous actions, is used by everybody: tournantes (revolving). To the rapists, the woman is nothing, a mere object to be thrown away after use. The people who speak about "revolving" seem to forget a human being is involved as the victim. Policemen do nothing. Every decent person knows the problem is Islam, but no one dares to say it. It could be dangerous. The streets are not safe.

Repeated gang rape victim Samira Bellil has published a book in France entitled Dans l'enfer des tournantes (or "In the hell of the tournantes") which documents the gang rape attacks in French Muslim ghettoes.

Published last month, the book has shocked France with its graphic accounts of the attacks and Bellil's impassioned denunciation of the increasing violence and sexual abuse committed against young women in the banlieues. Since 1999, rapes within the banlieue have increased by 15% to 20% every year.

For more in French policy toward Arab states see Amir Taheri On France's Arab Policy. For more on the Muslim ghettoes around Paris and other major French cities see Theodore Dalrymple on French Ghettoes. For information on Muslims as a growing portion of the population of European countries see the chart from this article from The Economist which shows Muslims as a percentage of total population of several European countries. Note that France is number 1 in the list.

France is not unique in having Muslim rape gangs. There are Lebanese Muslim rape gangs in Sydney Australia.

Last month The Sun-Herald revealed that police were dealing with a similar phenomenon in Sydney, where dozens of sexual assaults appear to have been carried out by young Muslim immigrant men, allegedly mostly Lebanese, against young non-Muslim women. As recently as this month, a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in Margaret Street, Greenacre, by three young men described by police as "of Middle-Eastern extraction", a term now regarded as a police euphemism for "probably Lebanese".

Brenda Walker thinks multiculturalism is an intellectual fraud and that we shouldn't import misogyny thru immigration.

See Guy Milliere's later essay France is Almost Finished.

A few weeks ago, a young Arab burnt a teenaged girl alive in the suburbs of Paris. He was convicted of murder, but he became a hero and an example for other young Arabs living in the same kind of areas. Two month ago, ten Arab men who raped another teenaged girl in another district were convicted and condemned to spend five years in jail. Yes, just five years. Their families left the court of justice shouting to the journalists it was unfair and they would look out for revenge. Eight days later, the court was burnt down during the night. The teenaged girl and her family have had to leave Paris, and hide in another part of the country.

By Randall Parker    2003 April 07 09:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2003 March 04 Tuesday
Pig Stories Banned In British School

The Sensitivity Nazis are a threat to civilization. How totally disgusting.

A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children.

"Babe" and "The Three Little Pigs" are stories that anthropomorphize pigs and make them seem less eatable. They actually make kids grow up and want to be PETA members and vegetarians. It is therefore unnecessary to say that this decision is stupid. But the Sensitivity Nazis need to hear people say it.

Of course, if Muslims were offended by this then wouldn't this be an argument for the idea that there are incompatibilities between cultures?

Even some British Muslims think this is stupid.

But Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain told The Sun: "This is bizarre - there is nothing to top (sic, stop?) children from readng (sic) about pigs.

Ya gotta love the snout on this pig. And if you do then pigs, pigs, pigs.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 04 06:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 February 15 Saturday
Canadian Government Dislikes Positive Army Publicity

Says Alain Pellerin, director of the Conference of Defence Associations:

"The army wanted to make a real land contribution to the operation in Iraq, as they did in Afghanistan," he said.

"But the government's never been very comfortable with what the PPCLI did in Kandahar.... It put the army in the public eye and gave them a lot of positive publicity. The government didn't like that."

The Canadian government has decided to send a couple thousand Canadian soldiers to Kabul to function as police. By sending those soldiers to Kabul the Canadian government puts itself in a position where it will not have enough soldiers to also send troops to take part in the attack on Iraq. Yes, you heard that right. The Canadian military does not have the ability to send more than a few thousand soldiers into a combat zone. Canada, population 32 million people and with about a $900 billion (in US dollars) economy is militarily tapped out after sending a couple of thousand soldiers into a combat zone.

Lets put that into perspective. In World War II 5,500 Canadian soldiers were awarded the Burma Star for serving in the Burma campaign. Sound like a lot? 91,000 Canadians were awarded the Italy Star for serving in the Italy campaign. 12,800 Canadians were awarded the Air Crew Europe Star for serving in Europe in air crews. 43,500 Canadians were awarded the Atlantic Star for air and sea service in the Battle for the Atlantic. In World Wars I and II a total of 110,214 Canadian soldiers gave their lives fighting for King and Country (the total figure is probably higher since some deaths can't be traced to individual names; there are additional civilian losses too). But today a wealthier and larger populace elect a government that chooses not to spend the money needed to put more than a few thousand soldiers into the field. Hey, that certainly puts a cap on military casualties.

But the really curious aspect of all this is the desire of the Canadian government to prevent their soldiers from doing anything brave or gallant or daring. It is obvious that in the minds of Canada's ruling elite a judgement has been made that Canadians shouldn't be exposed to anything that might awaken a spirt of martial ardour. This suggests that lurking under those pleasant smiles and maple leaf hats lurks a warrior race which is being kept placid only by careful stage management of their environment by their benign and wise rulers.

What is next for Canada's elites as they strive to create a post-militaristic utopian society? I probably shouldn't be giving the Orwellian speech controllers of Canada (whose hate speech laws are thoroughly illiberal) any ideas but its too much fun to resist. Greece points the way forward. If Greece can ban the use of electronic games lest anyone use them to gamble (yes, really, I'm not making this up; though they eventually backed off for private use) then certainly the Canadian government could at least ban violent action games, war movies, action movies (Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger should probably be prevented from entering the country), army soldier toys, and all things that might give the young and impressionable encouragement to pursue a life of martial valour.

But wait, they can't stop there. What's the biggest source of exposure to violence in Canada? Ice hockey! It has to be banned. You might be objecting at this point. You might want to argue that playing ice hockey is an innately Canadian thing to do. Sorry, not any more. Any sport that conditions youth to be brutally competitive can't be allowed. A person could get hurt getting slammed against the walls or into the ice or by getting punched or whacked with a hockey stick (perhaps the sticks should be coated in soft foam as an early step toward the abolition of the game?). We can't have that. In the New Canada (which is almost a contradiction since the very idea of nationalism must be stomped out) sports should be about everyone working together to make harmonious patterns. Groups shouldn''t be pitted against each other in physical competition that inevitably leads to injury and even violence on the ice. I grew up watching the Philadelphia Flyers treating hockey as gladiator battle and so perhaps my limited knowledge of hockey has distorted my view of the sport. But the tendency to violence is inherent in the sport. Ice hockey is patriarchal and masculine. It is more dangerous that electronic games. It must be brought to an end along with the Canadian military.

By Randall Parker    2003 February 15 06:31 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2003 January 05 Sunday
Theodore Dalrymple on Growth of Touchy-Feely Fascism

Theodore Dalrymple believes that the staffs of government bureaucracies value job security over moral conduct.

We, too, are now creating a cultural context in which great state crimes are possible, though perhaps not yet inevitable. When I see the routine inhumanity with which my patients are treated by the state and its various bureaucracies, often in the name of obedience to rules, I think that anything is possible in this country. Yes, when I see the baying mobs of drunken young people who pullulate in our city centres every weekend, awaiting their evil genius to organise them into some kind of pseudo-community, and think of our offices full of potential Eichmanns, I shudder. Our fascism will no doubt be touchy-feely rather than a boot in the face — more Kafka than Hitler — but it will be ruthless nonetheless. Timeservers led by scoundrels: that is the future of this septic isle.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 05 09:06 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 23 Monday
Ethanol Fuel Subsidy Even Worse Than It Looks

Yes of course the corn ethanol fuel subsidy in the United States is a waste of money handed out to farmers and agribusiness. But its worse than that. Corn-derived ethanol uses more energy than it produces and therefore increases our dependence on foreign oil. The tax breaks for it reduce the money available for the National Highway Trust Fund and hence reduces maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. It causes more pollution. It increases fuel costs. If the billions spent on it per year were just handed as cash to the farmers and if no ethanol was produced we'd be better off.

The chief reason for imposing an ethanol program on motorists is to enrich farmers and food processors under the guise of environmental enhancement.

Ethanol is not environmentally safe. Oxygenates such as ethanol may reduce emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but can also result in increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a main precursor of smog pollution; and ethanol-blended gasoline can lead to increased emissions of acetaldehyde, a toxic pollutant.

A study by Cornell University scientist David Pimentel shows that producing ethanol from corn actually requires more energy than the fuel produces, making the United States more fossil-fuel-dependent, not less.

The ethanol mandate amounts to blatant "corporate welfare." Only a handful of large agribusinesses would gain from this ethanol mandate.

There is a strong argument to be made that we need to develop alternative energy sources in order to defund the Saudis and other regimes that fund the spread of both a hostile Islam and of terrorism. Instead, we spend tax money and raise fuel prices in order to make our foreign energy dependence even greater.

Because of the ethanol fuel subsidy we pay more in taxes, our roads are in worse shape, our fuel costs more, and we are more dependent on foreign energy. More money flows to Saudi Arabia because of the ethanol fuel subsidy. That a policy this dumb and harmful and costing billions can survive and even expand from one year to the next demonstrates that the old republic may eventually be brought down by the accumulation of parasites that feed off of it.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 23 01:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 December 18 Wednesday
Theodore Dalrymple on Prisons and Mental Hospitals

Dalrymple is writing about the UK but it is my impression that what he says equally well applies to the United States.

The prisons fill up with people who once would have been looked after in our mental asylums; and there is a steady stream of people through our hospitals who desire admission, and want never to go home, because the self-directed life that has been forced upon them is beyond their intellectual capacities. Time after time, with a heavy heart, and because their hospital bed is needed for someone else, we have to return them whence they came and whence they fled, because there is nowhere else to send them. The heartlessness of it all, while extravagant aid is given to those who deserve none and whom such aid will actually harm, is sickening.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 18 12:15 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 23 Saturday
Racial Profiling Restrictions Cause Higher LA Murder Rate

An LAPD police officer who writes in the National Review pseudonym of Jack Dunphy reports that the LAPD have been intimidated out of properly doing their jobs:

As of July 31 of this year there had been 299 murders in the city of Los Angeles. Of the victims, 141 (47 percent) were Hispanic and 134 (45 percent) were black, reflecting a pattern that has remained steady for the last few years. Detectives had identified 158 suspects in these crimes, of whom 69 (44 percent) were Hispanic and 64 (40 percent) were black. There were eight whites (5 percent) identified, as well as 17 (11 percent) of what LAPD record keepers label as "others," primarily Asians and Middle Easterners. Based on what I have observed since July, there is no reason to believe the year-end totals will produce anything but a similar breakdown among both victims and suspects.

But under the terms of a federal consent decree imposed in the wake of the Rampart scandal, LAPD officers are required to report the race of nearly every person they stop in the course of their workday, and in the current political climate, woe be to that officer whose numbers reflect anything even close to those listed above. In other words, everyone knows who's doing the shooting around town, but if you go out and try to do something about it you'll soon have Maxine Waters and the assembled masses of the No Justice, No Peace Hallelujah Chorus camped out and traipsing across your front yard.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 23 08:45 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 21 Thursday
Political Correctness Undermining UK Military

Gordon Bourne, who recently resigned his commission in the Royal Marines, describes what New Labour is doing to the UK Military:

One of the unfortunate side-effects of this civilianisation of the military is the need for the government to ensure that they are legally protected from soldiers — past and present — who seek to take advantage of the current blame-and-compensation culture. This is what is behind applying health-and-safety legislation to the military. The Royal Marines endurance course is one of the most admired and gruelling in the world, but it is apparently too tough for the big girls’ blouses in Whitehall. Health-and-safety inspectors are blamed for recommending that chlorine be introduced into the underwater tunnel, in case some poor Commando picks up a bit of dysentery or a sore throat as a result of wading through dirty water. The steep ravines worn into the slopes that recruits had to run up and down at various points on the seven-mile course were also contrary to all sorts of well-meaning legislation. The recommendation was for proper steps and handrails to be installed — just like the ones you find in the mountains of Afghanistan or the wadis of Iraq. Anybody even half-interested in ensuring that, when troops are deployed on operations, as many come home as possible must see that this sort of interference can only make an already perilously long jump from training to reality even longer.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 21 04:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 November 20 Wednesday
Theodore Dalrymple On The Appeal Of Princess Diana

If you found her as unappealing as I did then take heart. It speaks well of you:

But the very qualities that would once have damned her in popular estimation are precisely those that have raised her in it in our own age. Her cult was that of vacuity worshipping, and also justifying, itself: people “loved,” “admired,” and “esteemed” her precisely because she was so banal in her tastes, emotions, and responses to the world. Apart from the fact that she was icily pretty and moved in high circles, she was just like us: this gave us hope that people of no accomplishment might accede to a glamorous, rich, sex-suffused world, and reassuringly demonstrated that there was nothing inherently limiting about our own mediocrity. Her appeal goes to the heart of the modern cult of celebrity. It represents the total triumph of the banal.

Here's my question: do the cults of celebrity worship in some sense lower the people who invest so much of their thoughts in thinking about celebrities? Or are the people who engage celebrity worship already sufficiently flawed in character and personality that their time spent worshipping celebrities is just an acting out of how they already see life? Even if the latter is the case then does celebrity worship make it less likely that the people who engage in it will outgrow their character flaws? Also, will celebrity worship just grow in the future? Or will an increasing number of people eventually come to see it as passe and even as mentally unhealthy?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 20 01:23 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 November 17 Sunday
Fredrik Norman On Political Child Abuse In Norway

Norwegian blogger Fredrik K.R. Norman reports on how some political types in Norway are teaching the children:

One of the "new political talents" in the Labor Party of Norway's oil capital, Stavanger, and third-highest ranked candidate to the City Council for the same party, Torstein Tvedt Solberg, recently put on a highly unusual show for the city's children, many of whom were only seven and eight years of age, according to the local paper.

Solberg and his cohorts encouraged the children to learn literally "how to throw rocks as the Palestinians do it". The kids then proceeded to throw big rocks at a photograph of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the older members of the Labor Youth organization cheered them on.

In this matter it is irrelevant what opinion one holds about Ariel Sharon. Isn't it deeply wrong to play with the minds of children in order to make a political spectacle?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 17 10:23 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 November 15 Friday
Theodore Dalrymple: European Court Making Prisons Worse

Theodore Dalrymple calls this ruling "crude legal utopianism"

The European Court has found this system arbitrary and an infringement of human rights. It has ruled that henceforth the person deciding on the punishment of the prisoner must not work for the institution in which he is held. Furthermore, the prisoner must have legal representation at any hearing within the prison concerning his possible punishment. Thus the court has transformed at a stroke the withdrawal of a privilege—time off for good behavior—into the violation of a human right.

Of course such a ruling will rob a warden of disciplnary powers and hence of control:

It takes very little knowledge of prison conditions to know that it will be a disaster for prisoners, except for the most violently psychopathic among them. The worst kind of prison, as every prisoner will tell you, is the one run by the prisoners rather than by the prison officers: but that is precisely the kind of prison that this ruling will promote. By reducing the authority of the warden, the court has increased the authority of the gang leaders.

The utopian urge combined with a willful ignorance of human nature is a great threat to civilization. When you read a story like this picture another termite being let loose in the foundations.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 15 10:56 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 12 Tuesday
Mark Steyn On The Sacrifices Of Soldiers

Mark Steyn makes an excellent point about the Oprahfied world view of Saving Private Ryan:

He was the youngest of three brothers. The war ended for his older siblings when they were blown up, returning home with only one functioning leg between the two of them, while he made it back with both still working. If you gave that scenario to Steven Spielberg, he'd go off and make Saving Private Ryan's Legs. But what we Boomers, Gen Xers and all the rest can never understand is the quiet, routine acceptance of personal sacrifice -- the fact that you can be crippled, your life shattered, your prospects shriveled, and that it's OK, it was still the necessary thing to do. That's why every old soldier I've ever spoken to considers the premise of Spielberg's movie laughable. He can recreate everything about the look of a war -- the explosions, the severed arteries, the ketchup -- and miss entirely its pulse. Saving Private Ryan is a "realistic" war movie, only if you don't mind every character thinking in a wholly Oprahfied way.

I was disgusted by that line in Saving Private Ryan. The moral bankruptcy of the Left has reached the point where they have a hard time seeing that the soldiers fighting for the Allied side in WWII believed they were making sacrifices for a moral purpose. The realism of the battle scenes represented an attention to detail that was wasted by a deficit in principled thinking.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 12 05:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Eugene Volokh On Speech Rights In Canada And Europe

News flash for Canadian and European readers: You have less freedom of speech than Americans do and you ought to be be concerned. Eugene Volokh posts a real example and potential example of this. Eugene Volokh looks at the ramifications of a recent protocol passed by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers:

Say that some international court concludes that, for instance, Israel's conduct vis-a-vis the Palestinians, or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has been a crime against humanity -- I do not share these views, but I've certainly seen some people express them, and I can certainly imagine some international court taking this position. Someone disagrees, and sends an e-mail (or put up a Web site) stating that "International law is mistaken, and Israel's and America's actions were indeed morally proper given the exigencies that they faced." Once the Protocol is ratified, that person could then be sent to prison for expressing these views. (The Protocol allows countries to reject or limit this provision, for instance if their free speech principles so require, but obviously the very presence of this provision means that the Council of Europe is urging countries to adopt it.)

In Eugene's second post on freedom of speech in Western democracies that ought to know better he references an opinion piece from the Montreal Gazette:

We continue to permit anti-Semitic spewings under that laziest of intellectual umbrellas, the freedom of speech and artistic expression.

As Eugene points out freedom of speech is not "that laziest of intellectual umbrellas". It is clear that on the European continent freedom of speech is on the retreat. But does this sort of opinion represent conventional wisdom among Canada's elite?

By Randall Parker    2002 November 12 04:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 31 Thursday
Theodore Dalrymple on French Ghettoes

The French have ghettoes which make the worst parts of US cities seem civilized in comparison. There are regions where the law has withdrawn.

The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state’s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensibles—sensitive areas—that surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.

But human society, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and so authority of a kind, with its own set of values, occupies the space where law and order should be—the authority and brutal values of psychopathic criminals and drug dealers. The absence of a real economy and of law means, in practice, an economy and an informal legal system based on theft and drug-trafficking. In Les Tarterets, for example, I observed two dealers openly distributing drugs and collecting money while driving around in their highly conspicuous BMW convertible, clearly the monarchs of all they surveyed. Both of northwest African descent, one wore a scarlet baseball cap backward, while the other had dyed blond hair, contrasting dramatically with his complexion. Their faces were as immobile as those of potentates receiving tribute from conquered tribes. They drove everywhere at maximum speed in low gear and high noise: they could hardly have drawn more attention to themselves if they tried. They didn’t fear the law: rather, the law feared them.

It was hard to choose a part to excerpt from this essay. There were many surprising revelations about just how bad law enforcement has gotten in France. Police are unwilling to make arrests or to answer calls for help - and not just in the ghettoes. French culture and society are decaying.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 31 09:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2002 October 16 Wednesday
Iain Murray on The end of Habeas Corpus in Britain

I think it is very sad that the UK is getting swallowed up by a rather less free European Union. The latest evidence on the threat to freedom posed by the EU can be found on Iain Murray's blog where he discusses how proposed changes in the EU law and constitution will lead to the end of Habeas Corpus in the UK.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 16 12:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 10 Thursday
Miss America Wins Chastity Fight

Chastened pageant officials back down:

Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, announced in Illinois yesterday that she has won her battle with pageant officials over the right to talk about teen sexual chastity.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 10 09:32 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 09 Wednesday
Miss America Not Supposed To Promote Chastity

The Washington Times headline is "Miss America told to zip it on chastity talk". Zip it? Okay, I don't get it. Does a chastity belt have a zipper? I always thought they came with some strong metal locking mechanism. Am I wrong to think that these pageant officials are making themselves look like fools?

Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, yesterday said pageant officials have ordered her not to talk publicly about sexual abstinence, a cause she has advocated to teenage girls in Illinois.

"Quite frankly, and I'm not going to be specific, there are pressures from some sides to not promote [abstinence]," the 22-year-old woman from Urbana, Ill., told The Washington Times.

Next up: Tell her she can't discourage single teen pregnancy, drug use, dropping out of high school, cigarette smoking, or prostitution (its a lifestyle choice after all). But why stop there? I say she should not advocate daily prayers, honesty, junk food avoidance, or brushing your teeth after every meal. After all, these are all value-laden choices and who is Miss America to be getting off telling anyone else about what values are important? Its not like she'e supposed to set any kind of example or try to encourage people to live better lives. She's just a tool of white male patriarchal oppression. But who manipulates the tool? The pageant officials? Okay, I'm confused now. If they are telling her what to do then are they the oppressors?

By Randall Parker    2002 October 09 06:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 05 Saturday
Identity Of Oppressor Most Important

Charles Jacobs, writing in the Boston Globe, advances a hypothesis to explain why some massive human rights violations are unimportant to the progressive Left:

''Not in my name'' is the worthy response of moral people. South African whites could not be allowed to represent ''us.'' But when we see evil done by ''others,'' we tend to shy away. Though we claim to have a single standard for all human conduct, we don't. We fear the charge of hypocrisy: We Westerners after all, had slaves. We napalmed Vietnam. We live on Native American land. Who are we to judge ''others?'' And so we don't stand for all of humanity.

In this view the moral indignation of the progressives is not exercised for the benefit of the victims. Its exercised as a sort of therapy for the self. This begins to make it seem rather narcissistic.

Seeking expiation instead of universal justice means ignoring the sufferings of these victims of non-Western aggression and making relatively more of the suffering of those caught in confrontation with people like ''us.'' If the Israelis are being ''profiled'' because they are like ''us,'' the slaves of Sudan are ignored because their masters' behavior has nothing to do with us.

Another refinement of this interpretation is available: selective moral indignation directed at people who one identifies as members of one's group (effectively one's tribe but on a larger scale) is a technique that some Western intellectuals use to bolster their claim that they are morally superior to other Westerners. Finding a way to feel superior to other people who are very like oneself is a way to place one self at a higher level of the moral pecking order of one's own civilization.

(found on Little Green Footballs)

By Randall Parker    2002 October 05 03:05 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 September 22 Sunday
Elizabeth Nickson: Pacifism is Disguised Timidity

Canadian Elizabeth Nickson also thinks that Canadian Civilization (or probably all of Western Civilization) is suicidal:

We hate ourselves and we want to die. Little other explanation for not rethinking immigration, for warbling about human rights for prisoners whose stated wish is to kill us, and refusing to defend the women ritually beaten and killed in the Arab world every day. For passively allowing men like Saddam Hussein, whose stated aim is to acquire nuclear weapons to use against us, to stay in power. For not signing up to the most important cause of today.

The army is for peacekeeping. Saddam is misunderstood. We give welfare cheques to terrorists, and teach them to fly planes. We want our civilization to die.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 22 05:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2002 September 19 Thursday
Houellebecq trial begins

Of course this case would be thrown out of a US court on 1st amendment grounds. But at least the French law might let you criticise a religion:

State prosecutor Beatrice Angelelli, in court only to advise the judges hearing the case, affirmed Houellebecq’s assertion that under French law people could criticize religion as long as they did not attack followers of a faith. “We are not here ... to make judgments on moral responsibilities. We are here to judge a criminal responsibility and, on strictly legal criteria, I ask you to drop the charges,” Angelelli said.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 19 12:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 September 17 Tuesday
Mark Steyn: A Clash Within Civilizations

Mark Steyn takes on the people who don't want us to defend ourselves:

This isn't a "clash of civilizations" so much as two clashes within civilizations -- in the West, between those who believe in the values of liberal democracy and those too numbed by multiculturalist bromides to recognize even the most direct assault on them; and in the Islamic world, between what's left of the moderate Muslim temperament and the Saudi-radicalized death-cult Islamists. Those Westerners who still believe in Western values have no problem supporting reform elements in Islam.

He also hazards a timetable for regime overthrow. I keep waiting for Libya to show up on the regime overthrow prediction lists because I believe the reports about its WMD development programs.

Within a year, Iraq will have a new government. Within two years, Iran will. Within five years, Syria. Within 10 years, "Saudi" Arabia will have ceased to exist in its present form. This is good news for Muslims.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 17 02:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 September 16 Monday
Houellebecq could do French jail term for insulting Islam

Here's the longest quote of what Houellebecq said to anger Muslims that I can find:

In an interview with Lire, he said: "The dumbest religion, after all, is Islam."

"When you read the Koran, you're shattered," he added, referring to Islam's holy book.

"The Bible at least is beautifully written because the Jews have a heck of a literary talent."

Houellebecq also told the interviewer that he felt Islam was "a dangerous religion right from the start."

Well, now he's on trial in France for inciting racial hatred because some Muslims filed suit against him. He could do jail time:

He faces a year in jail or a 52,000 euro (£33,000) fine if he loses the case.

I think the trial is a violation of his basic right to free speech. But then many (all?) European countries do not have as strong a protection of the right to free speech as the US does.

You can learn about what Houellebecq believes in this article in The Guardian.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 16 11:59 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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