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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Americanism Destroys the Carrier

Historian Paul Johnson's essay in Commentary "The Anti-Semitic Disease" lays out the fatal effect of anti-Semitism to the carrier. Johnson explains how anti-Semitism is ancient dating back to 3rd century B.C.E. in Alexandria, adding the Christian layer of the Enlightenment, the 19th and 20th century Russian and German versions and culminating with the Arab version of today. Each time, the irrationality of the "disease" has killed the victim. Maybe it is more a suicide.

Spain thrived until the expulsion of the Jews in the 1490's. By Spain losing this valuable talent of financiers and entrepreneurs, despite its gain of silver and world conquest, its economy suffered inflation, "long-term decline, and the government into repeated bankruptcy."

The beneficiaries of the expulsion was the Netherlands and, most importantly, England and the U.S. Johnson explains that immigration at the time of the Industrial Revolution was the catalyst to development, with Jews playing a large part.

Johnson outlines how France's anti-Semitism led to its demise post the Dreyfus Affair, Hitler's irrational delusions led to his fighting wars on 2 fronts seeing Jews in charge of both the U.S. and Russian Communism, Russian legal system enforcing anti-Semitism paved the way for complete control of the citizenry and, finally, the Arab anti-Semitism.

In 1917 when the Balfour Declaration authorized a Jewish home in the Middle East, the Nazi-influenced Arabs missed out on Chaim Weizman's dream of Jewish immigrants providing the region "scientific and agricultural experts as well as many entrepreneurs [who] would play a key role in enabling the Arabs of the Middle East to make the most effective use of their newly developing oil wealth."

That was squandered by this anti-Semitism. Says Johnson:

"Had Jewish-Arab cooperation been possible from the start, and had money from oil been creatively invested in education, technology, industry, and social services, the Middle East would now be by far the richest portion of the earth’s surface. This has been one of history’s greatest lost opportunities, comparable, on a much greater scale, to Spain’s mismanagement of its silver wealth in the 16th century."

Naturally, the "disease" had the "customary consequence". The Arab trillions of oil revenue is wasted in multiple wars against Israel and now against the U.S. Sadly, somewhat innocent, the moderate Muslim has also become a victim (though their tacit complicity with terrorism has wrought their economic and physical woes as well). Anti-Semitism is proven fruitless as Arabs are "now being overtaken decisively by the Indians and the Chinese, who have few natural resources but are inspired by reason, not hatred".

Today, the similar criticism of Jews and America is eerie. Johnson writes:

"Americans are excessively religious; they are excessively materialistic. They are vulgar money-grubbers; they are vulgar spenders. They hate culture; they are pushy in promoting their own culture. They are aggressive and reckless; they are cowardly. They are stupid; they are exceptionally cunning. They are uneducated; they subordinate everything in life to the goal of sending their children to universities. They build soulless megalopolises; they are rural imbeciles. As with anti-Semitism, this litany of contradictory complaints is fleshed out with demonic caricatures of particular individuals like George W. Bush."

With this hatred again comes economic and moral stagnation. We learn that in the unpublished second half of Mein Kampf anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism were related hatreds. And like the hatred of the Jews, hatred of America is unwarranted. Writes Johnson:

"After all, to hate Americans is against reason. For centuries, and never more so than at present, the U.S. has harbored the poor and persecuted from the entire world, who have found freedom and prospered on its soil. America continues to receive more immigrants than any other country; its most recent arrivals, including the Cubans, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Lebanese, have become some of the richest groups in the country and are enthusiastic supporters of its democratic norms. Indeed, since American society is now a vibrant microcosm of the human race, I would say that to hate Americans is to hate humanity as a whole. "

Friday, June 24, 2005

We Are the Int'l Buyers

While modern day mercantilists and fear mongers create furor over China's attempt to purchase American oil company Unocal, the OECD reports that foreign investments into developing countries has increased by 12% with an increase in China of 17%. WSJ reports that:

The U.S. is leading the way, with foreign direct investment abroad rising 80% from 2003 to 2004 to a record $252 billion...Of the 25 largest cross-border mergers or acquisitions in 2004, a U.S. company was the buyer five times.

WSJ also reports: "Flows of foreign investment to Western Europe remained sluggish as industrialized countries turned their attention to bright spots in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe."

Capital is the lifeblood of economic growth, improved standard of living and employment. The free market does not discriminate on nationality or skin color. Show the potential for profit and entrepreneurs and investors will come.

“This Parrott Is Dead……

An essay from Skip March:

….it is deceased…it is no more” As you Monty Python fans know, two frequent themes of their skits were 1) the ineptitude of government agencies (e.g. Ministry of Silly Walks) and 2) the inanity of arguing for something so obviously false (e.g. Dead Parrott routine). A recent conversation with some business colleagues from Western Europe is further illustrative.

The dinner subject involved taxes and government social programs such as national healthcare and national pensions. Despite what we may read in the MSM and hear from the Democratic Party, these programs are quickly becoming a disaster in Europe. According to my colleagues, Europeans ( at least those who can find employment) don’t start taking home their own income until mid August with the previous 7-8 months wages going towards various taxes ( federal, VAT, etc.). At the same time socialized medical care is seriously deteriorating with top physicians leaving their practices because they cannot make a decent living and rapidly diminishing healthcare resources. Further discussion revealed an appreciation for “Reaganomics”, that is economic growth, not higher taxes will create greater tax revenues and that government social programs sap people’s opportunity, initiative and creates unemployment.

So next time someone argues the merits of government social programs, just have them watch some Monty Python sketches. The humor will soften the blow of reality and hopefully help liberal Dems to unload their anger….although I am not hopeful. Maybe I should just let dead parrots lie.

Government Speculation

An initial thought on Kelo v New London, the eminent domain decision of the SCOTUS yesterday. The Court now deems constitutional the taking of property from citizens through governmental process and delivering that property to private investors. The majority felt that "public purpose" included enhancing the tax base of the municipality. But this is basically approving governmental speculation at the peril of inherent property rights of the citizens. And what happens after the taking? In this case, Pfizer is a beneficiary of the property trade. What if Pfizer's latest drug has unpublished side-effects such as Thalidomide and the company goes bankrupt just after construction begins? Where is the tax revenue? It was pure speculation with the trade off being anyone's (without political clout) property.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fallaci is the Only European With ...

One of the few prominent Europeans with the courage to openly face and speak out about the crisis in Europe is Iranna Fallaci. The WSJ's Tunku Vardarjan does a nice interview with her today.

Fallaci, in her mid-70's and stricken with cancer, has been charged with breach of certain Italian thought-crimes called vilipendio," or "vilification," of "any religion admitted by the state." She has stated that Islam is taking over Europe and says, "The increased presence of Muslims in Italy, and in Europe, is directly proportional to our loss of freedom." Such statements make you a criminal in Europe.

Fallaci the atheist's hero today is Pope Benedict VI and quotes him:

"The West reveals . . . a hatred of itself, which is strange and can only be considered pathological; the West . . . no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure."

Fallaci is a must read as long as she lasts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Luskin Takes On MSM Class Envy

Donald Luskin of www.poorandstupid.com has provided a preview of his National Review article analyzing the MSM's coincidental series of stories on INCOME INEQUALITY. Somehow, NYT, WSJ, LAT and Business Week thought up the topic at the same time and found the data to prove that the rich have been getting richer and everyone else has remained in the same income quintile since GW passed those preferential tax cuts.

However, says Luskin:

But none of this is exactly man-bites-dog material. What the Times reports as news is a pattern that should be familiar to economic historians: Times of great prosperity have been associated with greater income inequality (for example, the 1920s), and conversely times of economic decline have been associated with greater equality (the 1930s). The lines of causality here are complex, and no doubt run in both directions: Prosperity is both the cause and the effect of inequality, and decline is both the cause and the effect of equality. So ideological advocates of income equality for its own sake ought to be careful what they wish for.

That some people used sweat, investment and innovations to become super-rich should be championed. And, I am convenced that if we all were given say $100,000 today, within 5-10 years the same people who become super-rich would have turned that money into great wealth while others would have spent it all on comic books and DVDs.

Luskin says:

Each of us would choose freely whether to work hard or take it easy; to marry a working spouse or a stay-at-home; to educate ourselves for a better job, or settle for less; to invest in income-producing securities, or just spend our money. All these things would determine our unequal incomes, just as they do today. To be sure, in the real world we don’t make those choices from an initial position of equality. Some of us are born rich, others poor, most in between. Nevertheless it’s choices like these that determine whether we will rise or fall within the class in which we are born, or move upward or downward to another class. So we shouldn’t fear income inequality: We should celebrate it as “income diversity.”

By the way, the super-rich are not all born into money. And for some reason about half of the world's billionaires are American (341 of 691). Could that have something to do with the free market system we have in the United States? I get it. That is why people risk their lives to immigrate here. There's opportunity here unlike in the state-controlled economies elsewhere! I get it now!

Don't Do the Crime If You Want To Vote For Howard Dean's Candidate

Contributor Neal Meyerson sent us a comment on the NYT editorial that opened with:

The laws that strip ex-offenders of the right to vote across the United States are the shame of the democratic world.

After such hyperbole, they return to earth and make the following coherent point:

Of an estimated five million Americans who were barred from voting in the last presidential election, a majority would have been able to vote if they had been citizens of countries like Britain, France, Germany or Australia. Many nations take the franchise so seriously that they arrange for people to cast ballots while being held in prison. In the United States, by contrast, inmates can vote only in two states, Maine and Vermont.

This distinctly American bias - which extends to jobs, housing and education - keeps even law- abiding ex-offenders confined to the margins of society, where they have a notoriously difficult time building successful lives. A few states, at least, are beginning to grasp this point. Some are reconsidering postprison sanctions, including laws that bar ex-offenders from the polls.

Meyerson writes:

I have been following this issue for a while. I find the reasoning here somewhat suspect. By combining the issues of voting rights for ex-offenders with their treatment by society in general the issue becomes muddled. I think it is legitimate, as part of one's sentence for a felony, to include a limitation on future voting rights. Part of "paying your debt to society" includes a limit on your future voting rights. Whether it becomes permanent or expires after a set period of time is appropriate, I think, for each state to determine. I don't necessarily favor a lifetime ban for every convicted felon.

My response is:

How many Americans care enough to vote who possess the right? Is it really a desparate need for ex-cons?

Meanwhile, the concept of paying for a bad decision carries weight with me. Some early bad decisions, like not studying in school and/or dropping out, has lifelong ramifications. They can be corrected but there are reasonable questions to answer at a job interview and an employer has a right to either have second thoughts or, conversely, see a real valuable employee who overcame a problem.

Typical of the NYT, besides the over-the-top bluster (this is "the shame of the democratic world"? Is that like Gitmo is a Gulag?), is there is no consideration that such penaties for felony conviction may have been an accepted practice world-wide for centuries with a reasonable common law basis. To the NYT, the world began the day before yesterday. Any law or principle should be over-turned, if it upsets their progressive sensibilities.

Amnesty Incredible

I missed this one in the Times. I guess there is no reporting anything critical of our saviors, Amnesty Int'l. Apparently, their "Gitmo as gulag" theme is still a comparison they seek to make.
Patrick Devenney discusses how they ignore the true gulags in North Korea to focus the world's attention, supported by the MSM, on any tactics we take with our terrorist prisoners. He writes:

The “non-partisan” advocacy group has taken to calling actual gulag survivors and begging for their endorsement of Amnesty's statement. In an editorial published in The Washington Post on June 18th, Soviet gulag veteran Pavel Litvinov recounted how a senior Amnesty staffer called him asking for his public support. When Litvinov suggested there was quite a difference between his own experiences and those of the terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo, the staffer responded “Sure, but after all, it attracts attention to the problem of Guantanamo detainees."

Why don't they go to Natan Sharansky? He was imprisoned in a gulag. And the real-life gulags of North Korea hold citizens of the country, not armed combatants and those who aid and abet them!

And what does AI have to say about North Korea? Quoting Devenney:

The first thing you will notice when reading Amnesty’s 2005 report on human rights in North Korea is the length of the article, or rather, lack of same. Amnesty writers have managed to fit the abject brutality of North Korea into an article shorter than the one you are reading now. Amnesty, amazingly, takes only 1,351 words to describe the most brutal and despotic regime on the face of the earth. In comparison, Israel, or in Amnesty parlance “Israel/Occupied Territory,” needs 2,592 words. The U.S, not surprisingly, rates three times the North Korean word count. North Korea’s 200,000 slave laborers, its dozens of political prison camps, its mass interrogation and torture facilities near the Chinese border, all in 1,351 words.

In actuality, the Amnesty International report on North Korea barely mentions any of these horrors. It is 1,351 words of avoidance and oversight, of misdirection and outright ignorance.


"Non-partisan"?

And back to Gitmo. Are the 550 detainees not receiving the rigfhts ordered through Hamdi v Rumsfeld? As Michelle Malkin reports:

Every single detainee currently being held at Guantanamo Bay has received a hearing before a military tribunal. Every one. As a result of those hearings, more than three dozen Gitmo detainees have been released. The hearings, called "Combatant Status Review Tribunals," are held before a board of officers, and permit the detainees to contest the facts on which their classification as "enemy combatants" is based.

This is not even close to what the citizens of North Korea, imprisoned and often executed for such offenses as theft or practicing Christianity, are provided.

Europe is Popular, Nobody Is There Anymore

One of the great indicators for America's economy thriving well into the 22nd Century, absent our adoption of Democratic economic policy, is demographics. The United States has reached a 2.1 fertility rate that ensures our population maintaining while the rest of the world, developed and Third World, are declining. Not only does this mean we will increase our potential for innovation by creative minds, born and in the womb, but we can produce with enough younger workers to do the hard labor and develop up the ladder to success.

In Claremont Review, Mark Krikorian, provides fascinating data in his review of two books on birthrates. From The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It by Phillip Longman and Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future by Ben J. Wattenberg, Krikorian writes:

Although the birthrate decline has begun to have significant effects in the U.S., it is in Europe and East Asia that the consequences will be most dramatic. In demographic terms, a "total fertility rate" (TFR) of 2.1 is necessary to keep a population from declining—the average woman needs to have two children (plus the 0.1 for girls who die before reaching reproductive age) to replace herself and the father. The TFR in the U.S. is just a hair below that benchmark, having bounced back from its nadir in the 1970s. But in every other developed nation it is lower, and falling: Ireland, 1.9; Australia, 1.7; Canada, 1.5; Germany, 1.35; Japan, 1.32; Italy, 1.23; Spain, 1.15. Birthrates this low are unprecedented in peacetime societies. As Wattenberg writes, "never have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places, so surprisingly."

Longman seeks government solutions to the problem of lower birth rates. He proposes not only abolition of anti-child taxes on child-bearing but proposes exempting parents from Social Security until a child reaches 18-years of age due to their costly contribution to the future of society. Can us parents all say "Yay"?

However, Longman also fears the trend of Christians and traditional religionists bearing more children than secularists. Longman writes:

On our current course, more and more of the world's population will be produced by people who believe they are (or who in fact are) commanded by a higher power to procreate, or who just lack the foresight to avoid the social and economic cost of creating large families…. [S]uch a trend, if sustained, would drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, and gradually create an antimarket culture dominated by fundamentalist values.

And what a terrible world that would be with more people believing in the 10 Commandments who do not steal or murder, people who focus on their family's interests, who avoid public vulgarity and all the other negatives a religious focus in life can bring. Meanwhile, back in secular Europe, with a declining and aging population (same with Japan), the likelihood of it becoming a vibrant and productive world competitor is doubtful. Their talented workers migrate here to earn money and raise children.

And socialism has worked where again?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Heavy Pressure On Syria Is Required

The world is never at a loss for dictators. Can we clear the world of all of them? No. We can do so as part of our national interests. However, we have seen people can rise up on their own if there is a sense of protection nearby. The Lebanese experience is testament to that.

Unfortunately, the UN has proven its ineffectiveness through diplomacy, military intervention or sheer interest to stop any bloodshed of innocent people in the Sudan, African nations, North Korea or China.

William Kristol sees a major error by the Bush administration in its failure to pressure, with the threat of military action, upon Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia. The biggest failure is in Syria. Says Kristol:

[I]t seems Syria remains a safe haven for terror sponsors. The Defense Department apparently refused a CIA request to launch an attack on a Syrian terror-sponsoring target within the last two weeks. Shouldn't it be the case that if Assad can't police his border, we won't respect it either, since we have to defend ourselves and our Iraqi friends against jihadists infiltrating Iraq from his territory?

Surely our inaction with respect to Syria is a poor precedent if we're fighting a war on terror. For that matter, is the Saudi government doing as much as it can to stop its young men from trooping to Iraq to kill Americans? How much pressure have we put on either government? Wasn't it a big mistake of the 1980s and the 1990s not to make the friends and enablers of terror pay a real price for their activities?

I agree. While we cannot contain every dictator in every location, the Syrian situation immediately means losing American lives. The Iraqi situation can only improve is we take an offensive position against Syria beyond rhetoric.

Concludes Kristol:

In recent weeks, there have been some good speeches and gestures by the Bush White House, and some useful deeds. But the dictators have had smooth enough sailing in the last couple of months that we should worry. It would be unfortunate if the spring of 2005 went down in the history books as a turning point -- in favor of the dictators.

Race Identity Politics- Always The Wrong Move

One reason for the success of Jews in the Diaspora, besides hard work, the self-enforcement of moral and ethical guidelines and a strong family structure, was their decision to deal only with the present. The past was past and misdeeds done to prior generations should be remembered but not overwhelmingly.

Thomas Sowell tells a chilling tale entitled "Older Budweiser" about a town in the Hapsburg Empire. Germans and Czechs lived side by side and flourished economically in peace. Then the Czech intellectuals began to institute multiculturalist politics that led to the demise of the amity between the peoples. Once the Czechs demanded certain preferences, as trivial as Czech-only road signs, the Germans naturally reacted with resentment. Anyone familiar with 20th Century Europe knows the result of ethnic identity politics.

Government policies designed to undo history with preferential treatment for Czechs polarized the existing generation of Germans and Czechs. Bitter German reactions led eventually to demands that the part of the country where they lived be united with neighboring Germany. From this came the Munich crisis of 1938 that dismembered Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.

When the Nazis conquered the whole country, the Germans now lorded it over the Czechs. After the war, the Czech reaction led to mass expulsions of Germans under brutal conditions that cost many lives. Today refugees in Germany are still demanding restitution.

Sowell has studied the failures of Affirmative Action worldwide in his book Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study. Not only do the protected classes do poorly, the nations lose productivity and wealth. And the resentment among peoples grow like in the Budweiser story.

Jews and other ethnic immigrants historically have created wealth for countries because they provides unique skills to jobs for which the indigenous majority either lacked the interest or ability to assume. The void now filled by the immigrants created newer jobs for the locals but the price is these immigrants get a piece of the pie. Eventually, a demagogue focuses the populous' attention to the improved position of the immigrants and the race-consciousness virus takes over. This has happened many times all over the world.

Dr. Sowell's lesson regarding Budweiser, without saying it, is the ever-present subject of slavery as a reason for reparations, affirmative action and other government hand-outs has done little to aid blacks in America. He has written about the great strides by blacks in America prior to the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950's. While a number of issues required correction, the overkill in legislation has been a miserable failure for its intended beneficiaries.

For more of Sowell's commentary on the civil rights movement and its harmful effect on American blacks, see this and this and this.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Pray For Vouchers

In discussing the benefits of school vouchers, I think Star Parker nailed the reasons why there is such antagonism towards school choice by many people, largely from the Left. She says one reason is good old special interests. The school unions see their empire slipping away with alternatives to their failed monopoly.

The other is "an elitism that produces an overarching hostility to religion and religious schools. This hostility is so profound that given the option of a better educated child who is the product of a parochial school, these folks prefer mediocrity or even failure. "

I know the latter is true. I was for many years a member of that crowd. I believed that religion is corruptive and the basis for all that has historically been wrong with the world. It is a common thread within the Jewish community and why they tend to support secular policies of the liberal camp. Without getting into who did what to whom throughout history, we are in a world where the missing lessons of the faiths, as Dennis Prager has written, the Judeo-Christian values, are rendering society groundless.

Even if a child were to learn a biblical passage or two, is that not a fair trade off in exchange for the educational opportunity currently lacking in our public schools?

We Just Ended the Little Ice Age

Got this from Andrew Sullivan who took a small break from bashing Bush on his economic policy (other than his tariffs and expanded Medicaid I am for them), prisoner torture (exaggerated) and gay marriage (it will come in time):

GLOBAL WARMING: Yes, its important. But here's some perspective: new research has found that Europe was as warm between 800 and 1300 as it is today. Then we got a Little Ice Age. Just solar variability.

Stem Cell Research Should Be Privately Funded

The anger towards GW about his call limiting federal funding of stem-cell research is not only unscientific but inaccurate according to Jonah Goldberg's latest editorial. GW did not prohibit the research. He just left it to the states and private companies to invest the time, money and effort into the project.

Despite the rhetoric that the US will be lagging the world in this area of scientific research, Jonah writes:

America is still leading the world in embryonic stem cell research. Many European countries - which were supposed to have eaten our lunch in this area - actually have vastly more restrictive laws than our own. There's been virtually no brain drain of American scientists fleeing to more hospitable climes, while thousands of European scientists have fled their own bureaucratic and restrictive lands to work in America. Pharmaceutical and biotech R&D investment is flying into the United States. And many states, led by California, are spending billions to make up for the perceived shortfall from the feds.

Why do people think the federal government can claim it can do anything better than the private sphere in creating products of value? Would we be in better shape if they designed and produced cars, drugs, houses, foods, etc. The federal government's regulation of these items already do a great job of botching up production. Other than the military, with its great inefficiencies, there is nothing that the government has created, discovered or developed of any value. It is the private pharma companies with investors looking for profits, that evil word, that leads to quicker discovery and development.

And, as Jonah points out, since some Americans actually have a difference of opinion on the ethics of this research, why force those people to fund such projects with their tax money? He concludes:

Federalism - sending tough issues to the lowest, most local levels possible - is the best compromise one can ask for when dealing with such issues. The alternative is to ask the federal government almost literally to split the baby. Sure, more federal funding might advance the science a bit faster. But the current system has one great advantage. It doesn't force people who think human life is precious to pay for its destruction.

I favor such research but recognize some of the concerns that opponents have voiced. Their arguments have been unpersuasive to me but merit our consideration. By allowing private businesses the ability to spend their money (and if you wish, you can too!) on such research, the creative thinking will find the various cures much quicker than government can. The government is not noted for "out-of-the-box" thinking.

I Hate Multiple Choice Questions

Dick Durbin recently said on Gitmo:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

While most of us freeze up at tests, this multiple choice question, provided by Mark Steyn, was actually missed by the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin recently said: who compared Gitmo to :

Spot the odd one out:

1) mass starvation;
2) gas chambers;
3) mountains of skulls;
4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume.

One of these is not the same as the others, and Durbin doesn't have the excuse that he's some airhead celeb or an Ivy League professor.

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