Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”
Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.
How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. In any advanced society, there will be a certain number of dysfunctional citizens either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to support themselves and their dependents. What to do about such people? Ignore the problem? Attempt to fix it? The former nags at the liberal guilt complex, while the latter is way too much like hard work: the modern progressive has no urge to emulate those Victorian social reformers who tramped the streets of English provincial cities looking for fallen women to rescue. All he wants to do is ensure that the fallen women don’t fall anywhere near him.
So the easiest “solution” to the problem is to throw public money at it. You know how it is when you’re at the mall and someone rattles a collection box under your nose and you’re not sure where it’s going but it’s probably for Darfur or Rwanda or Hoogivsastan. Whatever. You’re dropping a buck or two in the tin for the privilege of not having to think about it. For the more ideologically committed, there’s always the awareness-raising rock concert: it’s something to do with Bono and debt forgiveness, whatever that means, but let’s face it, going to the park for eight hours of celebrity caterwauling beats having to wrap your head around Afro-Marxist economics. The modern welfare state operates on the same principle: since the Second World War, the hard-working middle classes have transferred historically unprecedented amounts of money to the unproductive sector in order not to have to think about it. But so what? We were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.
That works for a while. In the economic expansion of the late 20th century, citizens of Western democracies paid more in taxes but lived better than their parents and grandparents. They weren’t exactly rich, but they got richer. They also got more stupid. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want.” Sir William and his colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic succeeded beyond their wildest dreams: to be “poor” in the 21st-century West is not to be hungry and emaciated but to be obese, with your kids suffering from childhood diabetes. When Michelle Obama turned up to serve food at a soup kitchen, its poverty-stricken clientele snapped pictures of her with their cellphones. In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. They are not so much without employment as without need of it. At a certain level, your hard-working bourgeois understands that the bulk of his contribution to the treasury is entirely wasted. It’s one of the basic rules of life: if you reward bad behaviour, you get more of it. But, in good and good-ish times, who cares?
By the way, where does the government get the money to fund all these immensely useful programs? According to a Fox News poll earlier this year, 65 per cent of Americans understand that the government gets its money from taxpayers, but 24 per cent think the government has “plenty of its own money without using taxpayer dollars.” You can hardly blame them for getting that impression in an age in which there is almost nothing the state won’t pay for. I confess I warmed to that much-mocked mayor in Doncaster, England, who announced a year or two back that he wanted to stop funding for the Gay Pride parade on the grounds that, if they’re so damn proud of it, why can’t they pay for it? He was actually making a rather profound point, but, as I recall, he was soon forced to back down. In Canada, almost every ethnocultural booster group is on the public teat. Outside Palestine House in Toronto the other week, the young Muslim men were caught on tape making explicitly eliminationist threats about Jews, but c’mon, everything else in Canada is taxpayer-funded, why not genocidal incitement? We’re rich enough that we can afford to be stupid.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Venezuela has the largest oil reserves outside the Mideast and some of the largest known natural gas deposits. Yet the country is an economic shambles thanks to the mismanagement of its buffoonish and authoritarian president, Hugo Chavez.
This past week he further crippled the economy by effectively banning private bond trading to stop Venezuelans from sequestering savings in dollar accounts.
He instituted currency controls of 2.60 bolivars to the dollar for priority goods and 4.30 for nonessential items. The black market rate is 8.20 bolivars to the dollar. Not surprisingly, there is a thriving black market, widespread shortages and soaring inflation of over 30 percent.
In 2003, when Chavez began experimenting with price controls, Venezuela was self-sufficient in beef. Last year it imported over half of what it consumed. After his police began rounding up butchers for selling beef at more than the state mandated price, beef disappeared almost altogether from the stores.
The same has happened with coffee. After expropriating roasting companies, coffee warehouses and plantations, production in coffee-producing Venezuela fell by over 16 percent last year.
Because of lack of investment in the national grid - and with some help from a drought - electricity is rationed and there are frequent blackouts and mandatory power cuts. Similarly, since he barred Western firms from participating in Venezuela’s oil industry, investment has fallen.
Chavez has been incapable of dealing with the country’s chronic crime.
He has spent $4 billion on Russian weapons against the imaginary threat of a U.S. invasion. His foreign policy consists of trying to build an anti-U.S. alliance of “21st century socialists” like Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Bolivia. He has been accused, convincingly in the case of Colombia, of aiding communist guerrillas and harboring violent Basque separatists.
In advance of next September’s congressional elections, he has begun jailing opposition leaders on assorted trumped up charges such as the crime of spreading false information, the false information being criticism of Chavez and his policies.
Venezuelans, to their credit, stubbornly cling to democratic traditions. Despite his control of the judiciary, suppression of the opposition media and lavish spending on his base in the sprawling slums, his reelection in 2012 is no foregone conclusion. There may be a limit to Venezuelans’ tolerance for lowered standards of living and diminished freedoms.
Chavez’ explanation: “There’s an economic conspiracy against the revolution to boost inflation, increase shortages and malaise among the people.” We know who the conspirator is.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Not Just Insane, Absurd Too!: Obama: Pearl Beheading "Captured The Imagination Of The World" - Google Search
“Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.”
I guess we can go straight from here to my last entry... the definition of despair. Good Lord, this guy is completely out of his mind. Plum loco. Just wow.
Friday, May 21, 2010
OUTRAGEOUS!: SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec - Big Government
By now, you’ve probably seen the mob-scene that developed on the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America. This wasplanned for some time by the SEIU as part of a larger national event, their Showdown on K Street, which was shared with National People’s Action and thousands of other activists from MoveOn.org and other left-wing groups.
Prior to the main event on K Street in Washington DC, SEIU and company made a little pit stop. According to Fortune magazine Washington editor Nina Easton, 14 busloads of riled up protesters unloaded on Baer’s private property and stormed up to his doorstep, while his teenage son was home alone. Easton is a neighbor of Baer’s and had called to check on her neighbor’s son when she heard and saw all the commotion outside. Easton writes,
“Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.
Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly “outed” him, and slipped through his front door.
“Excuse me,” Baer told his accusers, “I need to get into the house. I have a child who is alone in there and frightened.”
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Silly leftists. Always forgetting the unintended, but guaranteed, consequences. Arizona dares L.A. to carry out boycott - Washington Times[snip]
Thursday, May 06, 2010
President Barack Obama has endorsed one of the more inventive efforts to protest Arizona’s new immigration law, taking note of special jerseys that the NBA’s Phoenix Suns are wearing that call the team “Los Suns.’’
“I know that a lot of you would rather be watching tonight’s game —the Spurs against `Los Suns,’ from Phoenix,’’ the president told a crowd celebrating Cinco De Mayo at the White House on Wednesday evening.
The Suns decided to wear the jerseys after Arizona’s governor signed legislation aimed at reducing illegal immigration to the state. Suns owner Robert Sarver, reflecting the anger of many Hispanic and civil rights groups, called the law “flawed’’ and said the jerseys were meant to “honor our Latino community” and American diversity.
The Arizona law makes it a crime to be present in the state without legal immigration status, and it requires police to question people suspected of being illegal immigrants about their status. Supporters say it is needed to better enforce immigration laws, but critics say it will single out Latinos for questioning on the basis of their language or skin color.
Obama had previously called the Arizona law “misguided.’’
On Wednesday, he said: “We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress. . . . . We can’t divide the American people that way. That’s not the answer.”