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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Politicizing Energy Independence

By On September 28, 2011
 (Please note, due to the Rosh Hashana holiday and the Sabbath this blog will not be updated until Sat night.)

Three years after energy independence and alternative energy measures had bipartisan support under the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration has not only succeeded in politicizing alternative energy until it became a divisive issue, but with the Solyndra scandal, it may have also tarred the entire alternative energy field with another Enron.

The problem was always one of goals. For environmentalists alternative energy was never really about independence, it was about austerity and rationing for the good of the earth. The last thing that people who believe that there are already too many people on the planet driving cars, buying consumer goods and otherwise despoiling the virgin paradise of what was once a lovely desert or wetlands, want is cheap energy. If there was a car that ran on water, they would be the first to outlaw it. If solar panels provided cheap and plentiful energy, there would be protests against them every day.

Environmentalists know that austerity and rationing are not popular words, even if you dress them up as carbon footprints and cap and trade. And they will use any conceivable argument to ram their agenda through, but they are not loyal to anything but their core austerity rationing manifesto. Their goal is expensive sustainable energy. If it isn't sustainable, than it had damn well better be expensive.

Upset about gas prices? Hop across the pond where the cost of a gallon of gas hit about 8 bucks in March. Americans cry havoc when the cost of a gallon of gas hits 4 bucks. Now try doubling that.

In 2000/2001 when petrol prices rose by 50 percent or so, there were fuel protests by truck drivers and farmers. Yet the UK has its own oil and pumps a million barrels of oil per day. Compare that to the US with a population more than three times the size, which pumped a mere 2 million barrels of oil last year.

Both US and UK oil production have drastically declined. In 1999 the UK pumped 6 million barrels of oil per day (yet the price per gallon would still have made any US driver reach for a shotgun) and at the same time the US was pumping 6 million barrels per day. Today we can barely manage a third of that and the UK is down to a sixth of its production capacity a decade ago.

The UK is closer to matching its production to its population than we are but its gas prices are twice our own. But then over 60 percent of the price of petrol is made up of taxes. And if we keep raising taxes on gas, then we could have 8 dollar a gallon gas too.

That brings us to the second part of the problem. Governments also benefit from expensive energy. Add on more taxes and there's more pork. Then you can subsidize alternative energy programs that aren't meant to work, but are meant to provide more pork for the well connected. That way the boys at the top get them coming and going.

The environmentalists like this arrangement because they profit and impose rationing. The government likes it because it profits and energy price hikes just means the price of everything goes up, which to politicians who think that the marketplace will yield infinite amounts of money if they just regulate it the right way, means that tax revenues will keep going up. The only people who lose are well... the people.

And yet the environmentalists have a point. Even if we brought up oil production to its peak, we couldn't match domestic demand. We would need to hit 20 million barrels of oil per day and we have never even come close to hitting that number. That doesn't mean it isn't possible, but even if we could meet 90 percent of our domestic demand, we would still be participating in a global oil market which primarily benefits the people trying to kill us or the people who sell them weapons.

7 of the 10 top oil exporting countries are at war with us, directly or indirectly. 8 hate us and 9 are likely to require military intervention or fight us in a war, directly or indirectly. Every war that we have fought in the last twenty years has been either against or on behalf of an oil exporting nation-- directly or indirectly.

Count up the cost of the Gulf War and the War on Terror and add it to how much you're paying at the pump. Of course that trillion dollars plus is chump change compared to the current deficit, but it's very much part of the bottom line. Add on foreign aid, bases in the Middle East and a lot of incidentals and we're already paying a lot more than eight dollars per gallon.

That's not counting burgeoning oil conflicts like another war between the UK and Argentina, or between Turkey, Greece and Israel, or China and the Philippines and Vietnam. Not to mention Canada and Russia. All three of which could drag us into a naval war that we're poorly prepared for against at least two world powers.

And yet the alternative of Chinese tax subsidized low quality wind farms and solar panels marked up by tax subsidized companies and dumped at tax subsidized rates into the power grid looks pretty bad too. Not least because all we did was shift from funding one enemy with our energy consumption to funding another enemy-- at a much lower rate of energy efficiency.

The problem with this kind of energy independence is that it isn't independent and it doesn't yield much energy. But the people behind it aren't interested in either one. They don't care if we're energy independent and they don't care about the energy yield.

The hijacking of energy independence by people for whom it's an aspect of an environmental crusade, a trendy fetish or a way to make some quick money at taxpayer expense has been devastating. And while the Bush Administration is not exempt, the Obama Administration is the absolute worst offender.

For the rationers, energy independence is a convenient word to drop at the right time. But their determination to keep energy prices high sends us right back into the global oil market with less and less domestic production to call our own.

Our economy runs on the cost of transportation, the more dependent we are on oil exports, the easier it is for even Middle Eastern events that we are not involved in to send oil prices higher, which ends up sending the price of goods and services higher. 

The environmental movement is the biggest indirect funder of "conflict oil" and the conflict oil keeps creating new conflicts. Whether it's Russian maneuvers in the Arctic, Turkish threats to Greece or Chinese threats to the Philippines, or the Islamist overthrow of Arab regimes over bread prices caused by ethanol subsidies-- there are many ways in which the body counts of conflict oil keeps growing.

The Obama Administration's crackdown on domestic oil production combined with its politicization and porkitization of alternative energy has turned it into a trendy fetish with no bipartisan support. But the problem isn't going away and neither is the need for pursing alternative energy to untether us from a global oil market which forces us into new wars and funds terror aimed at us.

For the moment oil shale production could allow us to get some breathing room while we make a serious effort to move beyond it. Combined with nuclear power we could have enough energy production to restore a serious measure of prosperity. And all the while keep exploring forms of alternative energy, developing the technologies until they're ready to meet our needs. Like space based solar.

The rationers are against this kind of approach because it's sensible. And the Obama Administration echoes the rationer war cries and convoluted arguments that promise tons of green jobs and energy independence if we just keep lowering domestic oil production, reject oil shale imports from Canada and pass tighter EPA regulations that will eventually give us that 8 dollar a gallon gas complete with 20 percent unemployment.

And that is where the debate must be, between the rationers and the open energy consensus. The rationers have nothing to offer except global warming scare tactics, misery for us and pork for them. Their vision of 8 dollar a gallon gas, local produce that no one but them can afford and one child families would mean the end of the middle class and the end of the United States. And that is exactly what they want.

The environmental movement, like the rest of socialism, is aimed at killing the economic and political independence created by a rising middle-class through free enterprise. And its net result has made the world a more polluted and more violent place.

For the last three years they have politicized energy independence and alternative energy, and made it far less appealing. It's time to take it back from them.

The Trash of Islam

By On September 28, 2011
Two years ago the Egyptian city of Cairo, the largest city in the Arab world and the "timeless city" of Obama's Cairo speech, the heart of the Arab Spring, was suffering from a garbage crisis. The crisis had a very simple cause, the pigs that used to eat the garbage were killed to prevent the spread of Swine Flu.

The pigs living in "Garbage City" had served as both organic garbage disposals and food sources for the Zabaleen, families of marginalized Christian Copts who made a living by collecting the garbage, reselling the inorganic garbage and feeding the organic garbage to pigs. The system worked fine so long as there were pigs, but without the pigs, Cairo's streets are filled with giant mounds of rotting garbage.

It might be shocking for most people to realize that the trash collection system for the largest city in the Arab world, the capital of what passes for Arab Muslim civilization, depended on a class of "untouchable" garbage collectors as young as eight years old, and their pigs to keep the city from drowning in its own garbage.

A system that is not simply medieval, but pre-medieval, that seems positively Bronze Age. But that is only because the Arab Muslim nations are not actually civilizations in the modern sense, they are post-colonized tribal clumpings with bits and pieces of borrowed governmental structures and technology that never quite work right. And underneath them is something far darker and more primitive, a miserably brutal and ruthless Levantine existence defined not by moral laws, but by tribal ones. And underneath them all are the pigs. Kill the pigs, and the system collapses.

It isn't just about the piles of reeking trash in Cairo's streets. The Arab and Muslim world has been exporting far more dangerous forms of waste in the forms of immigration and Islamic radicalism and we are their Zebaleen, the Christians and Jews who are expected to clean it up.

Virtually every Arab rulers balances the tension between national allegiance and Islamic law by exporting terrorism abroad, whether it is Arab governments funding suicide bombers in Israel, rabid mosques in Oslo and Manchester or Al Queda hijacked planes racing toward Manhattan-- the homelands of Islam have been calculatedly dumping the garbage they don't want on foreign shores.

"Don't fight a civil war, fight a global war", has been the anthem of the ruling families of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and numerous other Arab Muslim dictatorships, who extend one crooked hand to the West, and another to Islamic terrorists; dumping their exploding garbage in foreign laps. The more the angry young men with fierce shovel cut beards go abroad, hoping for a shot at an American GI or an Israeli family or a Thai Buddhist schoolteacher, the more the House of Saud can take a deep breath, count their oil revenues and buy another piece of Manhattan or London.

What they have developed is a cyclical system, much like Cairo's pig trash consumption, except this one exports terrorists abroad where they will pose less of a threat to the endless collection of Princes littering up the endless palaces of the oil rich Gulf states. Meanwhile the rulers themselves get to play moderates, offering their services to help moderate tensions, in exchange for the proper incentives of course. The benefits of the system allow them to live rich off their ill gotten oil gains, while treating the toxic waste of Islam as an export they can cash in on.

And then there's immigration. The West suffers from low birth rates. By contrast the Ummah suffers from an uncontrollably high one. Just enough Western medicine has poured into Muslim countries to help improve infant survival ratios and mortality rates... but the countries themselves can't even begin to handle the extra population. With much of their social and economic systems still stratified based on familial and tribal ties, bribe economies discouraging innovation and foreign investment, and long lists of Islamic Thou Shalt Nots, Muslim nations cannot accommodate their growing populations. And so instead they export them to the West.

And who is it that goes to the West? The huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Not quite. Huddled, perhaps. Yearning to breathe free, not so much. Immigration to the West allows the Muslim world to export those who have few opportunities at the bottom of the ladder or the sons of those at the middle or the top who have trouble fitting in. Very often those are exactly the type of people eager to listen to Jihad audiocassettes and seek out the angriest mosques. The types of people Egypt or Pakistan or Saudi would like to get rid of. Just more waste being dumped on Western shores.

It's a bad system, but in a civilization whose major city can be overrun by garbage because all the pigs have died, it's about as reliable as it gets. Muslim rulers export their waste, which the West seems to want, and in doing so by themselves a measure of immunity from Islamic terrorism, while investing in the possibility of a future Caliphate. Getting in on the ground floor of the Death of the West, so to speak. It's a win-win situation, until the pigs die of course.

From the perspective of the "moderate Muslims" that we keep hearing so much about, Bin Laden pushed the limit, upsetting the cycle and bringing war into their own backyard. The result overturned the system and broke the cycle. Too much too soon, was the watchword there. The "moderate Muslims" had no objections to thousands of murdered Americans and other foreigners. What they had an objection was exceeding the allowable tolerances of Americans and other foreigners for terrorism.

Their policy has been to build a Caliphate made of garbage, to turn Europe, America, Canada and Australia into towering trash dumps consisting of Islamic radicals and Muslim immigrants. Enough trash to build into minarets, mold and sculpt into Sharia law and bring an end to the West. And when that has happened, the moderate Muslim regimes of all the Terroristans and Islamabads fancy that they might be the ones left standing to take up the Mohammedan Man's Burden once again.

9/11 endangered their trash deliveries and woke up some in the West to what was being dumped on their front lawns. 7/7 rang even more alarm bells. Islamic conversions went up, but so did the status of people who had been talking all along about the dangers of immigration and Islamic radicalism. Push. Push-back. And with it comes the rising fear of an end to immigration. And if the Muslim world can't export its excess populations and Islamists to the West, where will they go?

Asian countries might send out their excess populations as labor contractors, but not even Muslim cities like Dubai are too keen on importing fellow Arabs to do the work, mainly because they know quite well that's a formula for insuring that no work will get done. And all those angry young men hanging around Cairo and Riyadh, reading tracts about getting back to authentic Koranic truths, and looking over bomb instructions are another kind of formula, a formula for Islamic regime change at home. Which is where the Arab Spring comes in.

In Cairo, the trash piles stank. Worms and rats, and worse things made it their home. The cycle has been broken and there was no way to fix the system. True civilizations are tool users. Muslim civilizations are tool borrowers who layer text messaging and cell phones over institutions that would make the Dark Ages seem positively enlightened. There is no way such a system can accommodate real change, or provide opportunities for growing populations. There is no way it can do anything but dump the garbage on someone else's street and run away.

To talk of a Clash of Civilizations is in some ways futile, because there are no Islamic civilizations, only former colonies and splinters of former colonies, run by whoever was left in charge after the British or the French left, or whoever managed to clamber to power since then. And by their close relatives and friends, and by their son in laws, second cousins and good friends.

They call themselves Presidents, Ministers and Colonels. They have huge bank accounts and large scale investments abroad. They have a veneer of technology and cultivated manners. But the aerial shots of skyscrapers and urban lightscapes, storefronts and maps are a facade of civilization, like a well lit movie set. Underneath it all, there are still pigs eating the garbage.

Saddam's forces demonstrated the same inability to use his giant toybox of Soviet arms and tanks in two wars against the United States and its allies. Nor could any of his neighbors have done much better. Even Saddam himself understood this, and by the second war, fell back on the default tactic that the Arab world has used against Israel for the last 35 years, to go to ground and focus on hit and run raids, on terrorism and guerrilla warfare. To revert to the way of the bandit and the nomad, to shed any pretense of civilization and focus on pure murder and terror.

The rise of Islam is the manifestation of more than just frustration with Western civilization or globalism; but a frustration with their own incompetence at grasping and implementing the structures and achievements of those civilizations at home. Lusting after the glory of a worldwide Caliphate and the imaginary perfection of Islamic law, is the way that those who have failed at aping Western civilization can drown their inferiority complexes in rituals of blood and death.

Inwardly they know that there is no golden collection of Minarets ruled by a wise Caliph waiting for them at the end of the road. The virgins with their raisins are a better bet, because they are a more plausible endgame than the idea that even a few million Muslims could get along, let alone the whole billion.

The dream of a Caliphate wasn't broken at the gates of Vienna or with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was never real and could never be real, because Arab Islamic civilization had never reached the point where it could run anything that size without a lot of outside help, and could never keep it together without breaking down into infighting because it lacked any political structure besides nepotism and bribery.

Islam has become the magic token, the catchall idea for some higher wisdom that will fix all of the faults of the Muslim world, without its followers having to actually confront social problems and initiate real reforms-- and most of all to break out of their rut and actually advance a few runs up the ladder of civilization. Instead Islam wills them to sink deeper still, to toss aside Western civilization while hanging on to whatever choice bits are useful for Jihad, and to answer all difficult questions with the blade of a sharpened sword.

It is no wonder that this form of bloody magical thinking is most popular in the shadow of the West itself, in the suburbs and ghettos hiding from the light, whose denizens are faced with either trying to be something they're not, or trying to impose their dominance on a civilization, who through the light of faith suddenly appears degenerate and inferior. The Russians made that same choice with Communism, emerging as a horde to plunder the wealthier and more accomplished nations of Eastern Europe. The Germans made that choice with Nazism to demonstrate their superiority by subjugating all their former enemies and neighbors. The Muslim world is making that choice again with Islamism. And by treating their trash as if were the finest gold, we are helping them make it. And covering our own streets with the trash of Islam.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Replacement Theology

By On September 26, 2011
In the Washington Post's "On Faith" section, a story asks; 'Judaism without God? Yes, say American atheists'. You can have Judaism without G-d, much as you can have an "On Faith" section without anything to have faith in.

It's all a matter of definition. If you define Judaism by its covenantal document as a binding agreement between a people and the Creator of the universe, then an atheistic Judaism is a contradiction in terms. But if you define it as a cultural experience that calls us to social work and spirited debate, then it makes no real difference what you believe, so long as you volunteer at the Tikkun Olam soup kitchen.

What goes for Judaism, also goes for Christianity. The issue is not atheism, it's the nature of religion and what it is and what it isn't. Either religion is a specific belief in a deity accompanied by textual revelations, or it's the Democratic party with its own pulpit. 

The issue comes up every time the left tries to insist that its version of Christianity and Judaism, where the worst sin imaginable is not driving a hybrid is the right one, because it's compassionate and spiritual. A spirituality that consists wholly of compassion and a compassion that consists wholly of following a left of center ideology while claiming that their grab bag of the welfare state, anti-war activism and environmentalism is highly spiritual.

Take Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow, please. Waskow, a left-wing activist and a member of a non-theistic movement, and his disciples, are usually found wherever Israel is demonized and the mass murder of Jews by Islamic fanatics is promoted with the beatific smile of the hazed out humanistic fanatic.

The paradox of a paragon of a humanistic un-religion making common cause with men who believe that their specific revelation entitles them to commit genocide is baffling. Or it would be if Waskow really was a humanist. In reality Waskow is a socialist with a pulpit. Even if it's only an imaginary one.

Waskow's idea of Judaism exists only as a metaphor for left of center ideology. The bible is only relevant to the extent that it can be used as a mythological connection to civil rights, nuclear war or global warming. The civil rights movement is just like Passover, nuclear war is just like Noah's flood and Judaism becomes a lens for giving depth to left-wing causes. There is no god but Das Kapital and Waskow is its prophet.

This replacement theology often goes unremarked upon, even as it has become a base for Waskowites to call for Jewish genocide in the name of Jewish values.

The Waskowites, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan's bastard spawn, support Hamas, denounce Israel and join hate groups such as J-Street and Jewish Voice for Peace. Rabbi Phyllis Berman was affiliated with J-Street and a former member of Jewish Fast for Gaza. Rabbi Rebecca Alpert sits on the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street and the Rabbinic Council of JVP.

And because there's always something worse than worse, there's Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization which supports a boycott of Israel and its destruction through a One State Solution. Its Rabbinic council includes Rabbi Rachel Barenblat of Velveteen Rabbi, Rabbi Brant Rosen, who can never decide if he hates Israel more than he hates the Republican party, and Rabbi Brian Walt, along with plenty of others.

As Rosh Hashana comes along, many of them will mount pulpits to explain why Israel is the enemy and why it must be destroyed in the name of Jewish values. They won't say it in quite so many words, they will dwell on checkpoints and blockades and bring up apartheid and the civil rights movement. They will hardly mention Hamas, except to sigh that it hasn't chosen the path of non-violent resistance, but that won't stop them from supporting its goals anyway.

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan certainly did not mean to found a movement of genocidal apologists and activists. In 1958, at the Rabbinical Assembly of America, he sounded positively hawkish as he warned that Israel might be becoming the Czechoslovakia of this era.

He warned that Western countries would scapegoat Israel through a "futile policy of appeasing Arab nationalism" and that Zionism was the force best qualified to "reconstitute the continuity, spirituality and structure of Jewish life."

Could he have foreseen that Israel would become a scapegoat within his very own movement, which would view Zionism as its sworn enemy? Kaplan sought a larger Jewish unity through Israel, but his divisive disciples are only interested in unity with the agenda of the far left and serve as the public relations arm of the murderers of the Jewish people.

Where Kaplan had envisioned a Jewish rebirth, his movement instead became another vector for the left's replacement theology, hijacking it as thoroughly as its Muslim allies were hijacking planes. It has spawned rabbis whose only religion is the left, whose only god is the left and whose only scripture is the works of the left.

It is entirely possible to be an atheist or a humanist and support Israel-- but what is not possible, is using left wing ideology as your scripture and being anything other than an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people. The Waskows, Alperts, Bermans and Barenblats prove that.

It's an old lesson taught by the Jewish Communists who cheered pogroms as the will of the oppressed peasants and workers, who served the Bolshevik takeover and lined up to turn synagogues into cultural centers and send Rabbis and Zionists to the gulags-- only to eventually end up there themselves when their red masters no longer had any use for them.

As Lenin wrote; "Jewish national culture is the slogan of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie, the slogan of our enemies."

"Whoever, directly or indirectly, puts forward the slogan of Jewish "national culture" is (whatever his good intentions may be) an enemy of the proletariat... he is an accomplice of the rabbis and the bourgeoisie.

On the other hand, those Jewish Marxists who mingle with the Russian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and other workers in international Marxist organisations, and make their contribution... towards creating the international culture of the working-class movement... uphold the best traditions of Jewry by fighting the slogan of "national culture"."

This position is still virtually indistinguishable from that of the Jewish left on Israel today. The Jewish nation is the enemy of the proletariat of "brown people" and the accomplice of extremist Rabbis and the middle-class. Only those Jews who join in an international working class movement uphold the "best traditions of Jewry" as determined by V.I. Lenin.

The modern Jewish left uses "tribalism" or "ethnonationalism" in place of Lenin's "separatism" and "national culture". It uses "materialism" in place of the "bourgeoisie" and "solidarity" in place of the "proletariat", but the "best traditions of Jewry" slogan remains unchanged.

What are the best traditions of Judaism? We have the Lenin and Waskow interpretation. The one that says the best tradition of Judaism is to destroy it, to boycott Israel, join hands with the murderers of Jews and make war on the Jewish people. Anyone who wants to see where that interpretation leads can take a tour of the gulags, where the Yevesktsia's own members ended up, after they were done collaborating in the Communist genocide of Russian Jews. Or they can take a tour of J Street's offices.

The ideological space between them isn't that great. Listen to a JVP speech and you hear echoes of a Yevsektsia (Jewish Section) member ranting about Zionism chauvinism and outmoded religious fanaticism, and the rise of a new generation of Jewish youth committed to the struggle for the working class.

The end of that ideology is a retired gentleman whom I met, with a Jewish last name, who was a former member of the Soviet military establishment, and spoke proudly of training suicide bombers. He was rather disappointed in his grandchildren for moving to Israel, and thought that young people today just don't have the same principles that they once used to when he was a young man. He would have fit in perfectly at Jewish Voice for Peace.

On the other end of the spectrum is Rosh Hashana, the beginning of a new year. To much of the Jewish left, it is a mere cultural event, or a chance to reflect on the traditions of social justice. But though it is a new year, it is not actually the first month of the calendar. That honor belongs to Nissan, the month of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.

Even within the Jewish calendar, the peculiar separatism of the Jews places the month of the redemption from Egypt as its start, recognizing that there is no Jewish peoplehood without the exodus. Rosh Hashana is the beginning of a personal and communal new year, but the era of the Jewish people always begins with their national liberation and the beginning of a national covenant with G-d.

This is not a metaphor for the civil rights movement or the oppressed farm workers of Belize or any of the other nonsense that the replacement theology of the left tries to jam in. Their old shell game of covering everything up and then replacing it with a trojan horse that has nothing but left wing ideology inside doesn't work here. The Jewish people begin here in the trackless desert, in the sacks of unleavened dough and the long journey to the promised land. Not an idea of it, but the reality of it.

Abstraction is the left's game, it turns everything into a metaphor, removes the context, replaces it and dares you to identify whether you're drinking coffee or crystals. But Jewish history is very much a concrete thing. As is Jewish identity. It is simply the history of a people. Jewish civilization is not about working class solidarity or the highest ethical traditions, it is the sum total of our achievements and failures. Our theology is the way that our history has paralleled our relationship with our G-d.

This is who we are. This is how we have survived. The left may try to replace us, but it can never succeed no matter how many collaborators it recruits and how many warped ideas it puts forward.

Lenin was right. Jewish national culture was the slogan of his enemies. And we are his enemies. As we are the enemies of the Waskows. The old Cain and Abel struggle has never ended. But what the Cains always forget is that while they are throttling Abel, Seth will come to take his place. The Cains of the left may think that they have their hands around our throat, only to rise baffled from the corpse to see that the Jewish people still live.

The Yevsekstias and Kapos did their damnedest, only to turn around and witness the rise of Israel. Their spiritual descendants are now desperately hammering on Israel, venting their full fury on the Jewish state. But even if Israel is destroyed, the Jewish people will still go on. And the left will not.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Serfs in Warrenville

By On September 25, 2011
If nothing else, Elizabeth Warren's campaign for Commissar of Massachusetts deserves to be credited for getting at the heart of the issue. And the issue is private property.

Is there such a thing as private property? According to the Warrens, private property is a false construct. Property is generated, maintained and protected through the state. The individual is a sharecropper whom the state generously allows to retain the majority of his wealth and land. But when the individual begins getting uppity and asking why he has to give the state so much, then it's time to remind him that everything he has really belongs to the state.

Elizabeth Warren is unsurprisingly a lawyer, even less surprisingly, a Harvard Law professor, still less surprisingly, she had a string of government appointments on influential committees. Her resume is representative of how unrepresentative Harvard lawyers with government connections  are to the people on whose behalf they claim to have abolished private property.

After overseeing the TARP boondoggle, Warren insists with a straight face that the government has the right to demand more money from the people for the benefit of everyone around them.

"You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for," Warren says. But the flip side of that equation is that it's the need for markets and goods that helped get the roads built in the first place. It's that need which makes cities and towns, more than public servants do.

The government cannot make towns and cities, China and North Korea have proven that with ghost towns. It is those factories and market that make them. 

And the public benefits from having goods and jobs, much more than it does from people like Warren. That is and has always been the black hole in the left's argument. Warren treats the factory as a net benefit for the factory owner-- when it's actually a net benefit for everyone.

Factories voluntarily employ people and voluntarily garner revenue-- which is more than can be said for the involuntary arrangement with the government. When a factory pays its workers, it does so without forcibly harvesting that pay from us. But when the government employs Elizabeth Warren, we have no choice about paying her salary. We must pay it.

"You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate," Warren continues. Here she goes completely off the rails insisting that any government benefit to people who at one point are hired to work in a factory is an obligation on the factory owner. The workers themselves don't seem to figure in this equation at all. The relationship is purely between the public school system and the capitalist who is now in hock because his workers can't read or write, but know how to use condoms and denounce American imperialism.  

"You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did," Warren says.

This is the stationary bandit theory of government. The problem with it is that it really means you're paying for government marauding bands who can come and seize everything in your factory. As the CEO of Gibson Guitars found out.

Warren's benefit here is debatable at best. Most factories still pay for private security. And they also pay for government security forces. Those government security forces however don't actually answer to them. And if they don't pay the "marauding bands", then someone like Warren will sign an order and the marauding bands will invade the factory and seize everything.

And even if the factory pays everything, then Warren will still sign an order and the marauding bands will seize everything, because she doesn't believe in private property.

So after the factory owner pays private security firms to protect his property, pays the government not to seize his property, pays the unions not to shut down his factory and then pays a donation to Elizabeth Warren, so that if she becomes Senator she will be favorably disposed toward him-- he should remember to be grateful and not donate to Republicans-- or marauding bands will seize his property anyway. Just ask the CEO of Gibson Guitars or all those Republican car dealers.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along,” Warren concludes.

What underlying social contract is that? It's clearly not the one in the Constitution, but apparently there's a whole unstated social contract which says that you're obligated to "pay it forward" to the next kid who comes along.

Who is this kid? It's the famous D.C. Kid of course. Who always comes along sooner or later, with his marauding bands.

Taxes of course aren't paid forward to the next kid, unless he's the owner of a minority business receiving a preferential government contract in exchange for donations to Warren's campaign. They're paid outward to the massive infrastructure of the state which is eating through as much money as it can fit through its snout at any one time.

The greatest progressive sleight of hand in this formulation is that it treats the state as equivalent to the society. What the state demands of you, is what the collective will of the society demands of you. To refuse the state, is to set yourself apart from your neighbors and the people as a whole.

This may be a mildly defensible argument to make in a full democracy, but the United States has never been a full democracy. It has gone from a nation run by male property owners to a nation run by  lawyers and lifetime bureaucrats. If the property owner vote was at least representative of a sizable chunk of society, the current system is representative of unions, corporations and the professional class that runs the vast engine of government.

The people do have some say in it, they can choose between several candidates, and occasionally their choice will influence policy. But their ability to have any real say at the policy level has been crippled by political corruption, insider influence and judges who toss aside any referendum result they don't like.

To say then that the will of the state is the will of the people is a manifest untruth. To insist, as Warren does, that government spending is for the public's benefit is an equal untruth. If that were so, then her own party would have made safeguarding social security a priority, instead of using the money on its own pet projects.

Without direct democracy, the state can have no claim to representing the will of the people. The state is a professional class which claims to see to the public welfare, but has a track record of doing the opposite. But even if its rulers were devoted to the public good, even if they were selfless public servants, their will would still not be equivalent to that of the society.
Warren's argument is that no one got rich on their own. True. By her definition, also no one makes breakfast on their own. Or does anything at all. No one writes on their own either, someone had to make the pencil or the typewriter or the computer. Why shouldn't that collective "we" then have a say in what you write?

Here the sleight of hand assumes that the greater society is equivalent to the state, and that any activity makes the individual obligated to pay back the collective whole somehow embodied by the state.

There are two holes in this. It assumes that the individual is somehow getting a free ride at the expense of the other people in the equation. That whatever benefit they receive from participating in the arrangement is insufficient and exploitative. There's an obvious whiff of Marx to this, but not much common sense.

And the final hole is that the state stands in place of the society, that it is the legal recipient of the net benefits due to society and can claim them. That when you're expected to pay it forward to the next kid, that doesn't mean hiring a kid and giving him a leg up, it means paying higher taxes.

This proposition is at the heart of the broken case against private property. If there is indeed a greater claim on private property by the society, why is an oligarchy of Harvard lawyers and government appointees the one to lay claim to it?

Warren insists that private enterprise is exploitative because it makes use of the benefits that the government provides. And her case is that everyone is permanently obligated to the government because they derive some benefit from it. But that assumes that the government is the final source of benefits for all.

In fact government derives benefit from the people and the factory owners. If Elizabeth Warren has a government appointed job, good for her. Great idea. But it was the factory owners and the people who paid to educate her. It's the factory owners and the people who pay her salary. The roads she traveled, also funded by the same people.

The people don't owe Warren and her vast government machine anything. She owes it to them.

For over a century, the public has paid far more into government than it has received back in benefits. That extra money has gone to people like Warren. It has gone into the entire rotten machinery of crony capitalism, welfare state machine politics and massive bureaucracy. So let's be clear about this. We don't owe Warren and her ilk anything. She owes us.

Private property and free enterprise was used to finance a massive government machine which is the least efficient form of turning wealth into social benefits imaginable. We would see a better return for our money if we just mulched it up, fed it to actual pigs and put them on a truck to Washington D.C.

The balance of debt is certainly not on our side of the ledger. It's on hers. Now it's up to the government and its functionaries to start paying us back for all that money. And they can start by cutting spending, cutting taxes and letting the economy they have been feeding off for so long start to recovery from their parasitism.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why Illegal Immigration Matters

By On September 24, 2011
The last round of Republican debates has brought the issue back to the fore, even though some hosts and pundits have warned the party not to get sidelined by discussing illegal immigration. But the question is does it matter?

Republicans in the last few years have begun surrendering values issues to focus on economic issues, but illegal immigration is not a values issue. It's not even simple a law issue-- it is an issue of basic economics.

The social safety net is undermined by demographics and uncontrolled spending, but the arrival of large numbers of people with large families who work off the books is a major load. It's a major load in the UK and through Europe. It's a major load here.

There are two diametrical responses to this problem. Some form of legalization, whether it's full amnesty or a path to citizenship or a special status for migrant workers. Or enforcement.

The problem with the variations of the first approach is that it is attempting to tame the problem without actually addressing it. Illegal immigration exists because employers want cheap labor and because illegal immigrants want access to a First World economy and its social safety net.

Amnesty or a path to citizenship does nothing to address either problem. Employers will still want cheap labor and illegal immigrants will still keep coming. A path to citizenship will legalize some of them, but that will do nothing for the overall problem.

Migrant workers gives employers access to cheap labor, but only temporarily. Liberal activism is sure to regulate any migrant labor and price it above that of illegal aliens-- and that puts us right back to square uno. On top of that giving millions of people access to a vast country in which they can easily vanish, or just make their way to sanctuary cities, can't be described as securing the border.

In Europe, temporary workers eventually became permanent citizens. That is how Germany picked up so many Muslims. Europeans have learned that if you let someone in, they're going to stay. So again all the middle of the road alternatives lead back to the same place. The illegals become legalized and demand for illegal labor remains high.

Illegal immigration is less of a problem than it used to be when our economy was thriving, but it's still a major issue. And the heavy load on social services at the state level is bringing down already burdened state economies, which will have to be bailed out all over again.

Some state governors have chosen enforcement, but Texas governors have traditionally not been in favor of strong enforcement. They do have to win elections, and so does the Republican party. The last time a Texan was in the White House, it took a revolt from his own party to avert immigration reform. And here we are again with a major unsolved problem in the headlights.

Enforcement remains widely unpopular and that's not at all surprising. The America of today is much more a country of immigrants than it used to be, and even for many conservatives, deportation is a non-starter. Which just leaves tightening current border security, which can mean anything from talking about building a wall to sending up some drones to help the border patrol spot one out of a thousand crossers. Mostly it means nothing at all.

Deportation isn't all that unfeasible, but few politicians are ready to accept the political risk of it. Republicans are still courting the Latino vote, and while there's more diversity and division within the Latino community on illegal immigration than conventional wisdom would have it, it still tends to lean in favor of some form of legalization.

That leaves us with the current state of the situation where the government occasionally pretends to enforce the law, and the public pretends to nod approvingly. But at the same time, failing to address the problem makes the long term prospects for American economic and political viability fairly dim.

Americans don't think in terms of cultures anymore, they think in terms of systems anymore, which makes it hard to formulate a compelling argument against illegal immigration. If people from a failed state move here, then they're exchanging one political system for another, which means that once they cast their vote, they're Americans. Of course it doesn't work that way.

The American system is its own culture, but it is also shaped by the cultures of immigrants. Move enough of Mexico to the United States, and the United States will be a lot more like Mexico. It's an indisputable truth that hardly gets addressed. There are good things that will come of that, but more bad ones, considering that Mexico is a failed state with a political culture that is as unworkable as it could possibly be.

The economics of the situation are even worse. Incoming immigrants are unskilled manual labor in a country which is already short of manual unskilled jobs. Latino employment has increased and unemployment has decreased even in the middle of an economic recession. The actual off the books numbers would be even worse.

The Northeast and the West Coast have been bleeding jobs for years. Texas has been picking up jobs and 40 percent of that job growth has been to illegal immigrants. 81 percent were taken by newly arrived immigrants, legal and illegal. Of those 93 percent were not US citizens.Native born American employment in Texas has actually fallen by 5 percent.

Those numbers do come from a decidedly biased source, but they're not all that hard to believe. And they set up a much larger problem. The liberal approach has been to move us to a European style economy with high taxes, a welfare state, natives that have three degrees and no jobs, while the jobs go to immigrants. Add on the bubbles to provide a temporary prosperity before a recession sets in and the picture is complete.

Clearly this isn't working. Bubbles and cheap labor paid for with expensive social services don't work. Neither does going into hock to pay for spending which will eventually come due. After inflating the cost of labor, illegal immigrants are a loophole that allow many businesses to cut costs at a high price. The high price comes due when the cost of a social safety net that native workers can't afford to maintain is realized.

Then add on crime rates. There's no reason for illegal immigrants to work off the books and there's no reason why off the books labor shouldn't be criminal. Smuggling drugs pays better than being a busboy. So does stealing and stripping copper. We have some job growth in mining, but there's plenty in illegal mining too.

Immigration reform advocates say that legalization can fix the problem, but as long as Mexico is a bleeding wound and its economy is tethered to money sent home by immigrants, there's no reason to believe that's the case. We can't legalize everyone and so long as the demand remains, the supply will be there. It's the drug war all over again.

We have a high cost of labor, some of which goes to a social safety net, which employers would like to bypass. Liberals want the safety net, but they also want the illegal immigration.

Republicans who adopt this contradictory reasoning are defending the indefensible. We can have the social safety net or illegal immigration, but we can't have both. So long as the social safety net makes illegal immigration appealing to employers and illegals, then illegal immigration is here to stay. And the added cost of illegal immigration to a social safety net which they take from, but do not pay into, will bring down the social safety net.

We can deregulate everything, in which case Americans will be left with no jobs and no social safety net. Or we can regulate everything, which would mean an expensive social safety and  some jobs, or we can keep trying for a halfway solution. But no solution that does not address this problem is even worth talking about.

But since immigration and the social safety net are both popular, then politicians can't point out that you can't really indefinitely combine both. Most Americans of both parties will choose the social safety net over illegal immigration, but they won't get that choice. And that's the real problem.

The last time we had this debate over the cost of cheap labor and its importance to certain sectors of the economy at the expensive of native jobs, it ended in a civil war. Slavery was just one means of getting cheap labor. The full moral and economic cost of slavery is incalculable. It nearly destroyed America. And the price of illegal immigration may end up being even higher.

Does illegal immigration matter? Absolutely. Are we likely to seriously address it? Unlikely. The issue is wrapped up in race and in the hypocrisy of corporations who donate to the Republican party but oppose immigration reform, and corporations who donate to the Democrats and support the social safety net, both of whom leave a mess that everyone will have to clean up.

As long as Mexico remains a pipeline for cheap off the books labor, and as long as a social safety net increases the cost of domestic labor-- the problem will remain crying out for a solution.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Classless Warfare

By On September 23, 2011

The UN is now hard at work pandering to terrorists and shutting down midtown traffic, but do we really need the UN?

My Freedom Center pamphlet, 10 Reasons to Abolish the UN argues that not only don't we need it, but the whole world would be better off without it.
The 51 founding members of the UN were roughly balanced between democracies and dictatorships. As the United Nations membership expanded, the ratio of tyrannies to democracies increased.3 According to the Economist’s Democracy Index, there are 26 full democracies and 55 authoritarian regimes with the latter outnumbering the former in population 3 to 1.4 The average UN representative is statistically less likely to be speaking for a democratically elected government and far more likely to be there as the personal representative of a tyrant or an oligarchy.

...and then there's this...

During the Cambodian Genocide, the UN Security Council did not issue a single resolution on it. While millions were dying, the UN occupied itself with condemning the Israeli expulsion of the Sharia judge of Hebron and the United States for allowing former members of the Rhodesian government to enter the country.

The United Nations, after being approached by the Cambodian government nearly two decades later, finally got down to the task of trying some of those involved for genocide.

That was 1997. An agreement to conduct the actual trials was signed six years later. Another three years after that, actual judges were finally approved to preside over the tribunal. It had taken nine years just to get to this point.

In 2007, the first indictment was issued against Pol Pot’s second in command. Nuon Chea had been 70 when the UN was first approached. He was now almost 80. Today he is 84 and the trial is still going on.13 The odds are very good that he will die before it is all over.

So far the only man convicted of anything in the proceedings, whose origins date back to the 90’s and have budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, is Kaing Guek Eav, who ran the Tuol Sleng prison. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal could hardly have sent a louder message about UN impotence in the face of genocide.

If you read the pamphlet, you'll find that this is a common pattern with UN genocide tribunals. If the UN Genocide Tribunal had ever gotten hold of Hitler, he would have died of old age.

And there's lots more from outrageous corruption to dangerous threats to the US Constitution from the UN-- all reasons to give back Turtle Bay to the turtles.

Frankly George

Soros and Frank. No it's not the worst law firm on the planet (though it might be) it's also the topic of this week's two articles. Remember those "social protests" in Israel. Well they're more like socialists and the world's leading socialist James Bond villain is behind them.

In late February, the Israeli Knesset passed the NGO Funding Transparency Bill by 40 to 34. It had been a long journey for the bill,  which despite, its neutered, state was still a declaration of war by the conservative Likud Party against the shadow NGO empire that was the Soros way.

While the bill was no longer able to empower the lifting of tax exempt status for foreign funded NGOs and it only addressed foreign funding of NGOs by government entities, it was a major step for foreign funding transparency. The Soros empire had been built on non-transparency, on hidden donor lists and front groups funded by think tanks with money pipelined in grants through a dozen different organizations.

NGO transparency threatened the entire Soros empire and the passage of even a neutered bill meant that Israel might finally be ready to begin rolling back the peel on the rotten fruits of the Open Society Institute​. First governments, then foreign funders, parliamentary inquiries into foreign funding, and then the loss of tax exempt status for left-wing NGOs waging a civil war.

...so Soros did what he always does. See more in The Soros Plot to Topple Netanyahu. And speaking of evil and creepy left-wing billionaires....

Organizations like ACORN agitated for more government intervention in the mortgage market, supposedly to make home ownership more affordable, while actually serving the interests of the predatory left-wing lenders who were making the loans, like the Sandlers.

The Sandlers invested millions into ACORN and made billions from adjustable rate mortgages in a government backed wealth transfer that was a masterpiece of crony capitalism as left-wing billionaires scored big, while the taxpayers and minority homeowners were left holding the bag.

And the total price for the scheme was quite high

 African-American subprime losses may reach as high as a 100 billion, and as many as one in ten may be facing foreclosure. This is having a devastating effect on their already shaky position in the middle-class… and that is the perversely brilliant part of this scheme.

Not only did the left shamelessly loot the system by dressing up their crony capitalism as social justice, but they also profited from ripping off the very minority borrowers on whose behalf they were gouging taxpayers and banks—with the end result that the minorities who are their voting base are kept out of the middle-class and remain a reliable plantation vote with no hope for anything but government benefi

See the whole picture laid out in Barney Frank's Racist Legacy

 Classless Warfare

After long months of waiting and listening, Obama finally heard his far left base and brought out a dose of class warfare, timed with the pathetic occupation protests, which I passed yesterday.
I missed the Israeli version, but down in downtown Manhattan I caught the latest live show and it was exactly the same. Grinning idiots with hundreds of dollars worth of portable devices and camping gear holding up messages against capitalism scrawled on flimsy cardboard for “authenticity” when their pictures get taken. A few guitars, lots of food wrappers and all the other trappings of yuppie\hipster Woodstock.

Everyone involved could easily put together sophisticated well done posters, plenty of them have graphic design backgrounds, almost all of them have solid computer skills, but then it would look “organized” as opposed to just plain ole folks holding up messages scrawled up on pieces of cardboard.

When you throw a protest against capitalism and the only people who show up are trustafarian parasites whose career path is either environmental sustainability consultant/freelance poet or graduate lecturer/food blogger then your message has failed to reach beyond the ranks of your most self-indulgent and your useless base.

North in Massachusetts, there’s celebration becauseElizabeth Warren is running ahead and making the case for why government shouldbe able to rob everyone blind. For the people. You know the ones who pay for sidewalks with no choice about it. Well no… not those people. For the union members who cash in on the sidewalks. And the consultants and experts who determine whether the sidewalk will destroy any endangered blowflies and who hand out sidewalk construction contracts to minority owned businesses and finally the grants to the activists who once the sidewalk is built will protest that it is a racist sidewalk that destroys the habitat of the urban blowfly and sue the city to get the sidewalk torn down.

Warren acts like taxes are paid into a trust fund for the people—and the only people who believe that are so stupid they could drink paint straight from the can.

Taxes are compulsory payments by the people into a trust fund for politicians and their cronies and their supporters. The time when taxes had anything to with the people is long past, Obama may babble on about social security, but social security was looted by him and the rest of the pigs, whose oinking company Warren is eager to join.

Taxes have become wholesale theft by the Obamas, the Buffetts and the Trumkas from the people, and the thieves trot out the same class warfare arguments. 

The upper class in a system is not simply a matter of money, but of power. The power to tax and spend is the only class that counts. And the middle class is vanishing under the appetites of liberal lords who have amassed a 15 trillion dollar deficit and still can’t get enough.

In 2011, the government is the only monopoly that matters and it is the worst of them. It is a trust with tentacles reaching into Wall Street and Harlem, into union boss offices and environmental consultancies, it has become an uncontrollable mafia that takes a piece of everything and howls for more in the name of the people it is robbing.

“Pay your fair share,” the pigs oink. The people want it. The people who make money off taxes.
You don’t have to love corporations or wear a top hat and play monopoly to be disgusted by the utter hypocrisy of the thieves trying to construct a moral argument for their theft. 

Class warfare is always about those in power seizing the wealth of the people who have less power and influence than they do. Dress it up as they like with Warren Buffett, a crony capitalist who has made billions at taxpayer expense and owes back taxes that would get any working person sent to jail, but it’s about the powerful gaining more money. 

It’s about the parasitic middle class that derives its wealth through government mandate robbing the productive middle-class. And it’s about the parasitic underclass robbing the working class and pushing them into the ranks of the unemployed through manufactured unemployment.
Pay your fair share, the thieves with cardboard signs need more environmental consultancies. 

State of Distaste

Manhattan traffic is in a state of havoc as the international vultures of the UN descend on the city to feast at restaurants, snarl up traffic and block off chunks of a narrow island behind security barriers.
Abbas lacks the gun toting showmanship of Arafat, and his cunning, but his game is simple enough and hard to blow. Either he gets UN recognition and more money, while Israel suffers another blow, or Israel and the US spend enough prestige and concessions to keep him from declaring a state, which will still leave him with improved status and more money.

As usual the terrorists win either way, at least until Hamas decides to make its move, and “President Abbas” finds himself being hurled off a building or on the fastest plane out of Ben Gurion Airport for an academic appointment in Columbia where he can lecture on Palestinian history and Middle-Eastern politics till the pigs fly home.

The crisis is convenient for everyone involved. Netanyahu gets to see the protesters upstaged a second time, once again by the actions of their own allies. For all the money plowed into the “protests”, the people on whose behalf they are really taking place keep sabotaging them with terrorist attacks and unilateral diplomatic assaults.

Obama gets to focus on foreign policy and try to shore up the Jewish vote. The former matters more than the latter as oval office occupants tend to pick up points when there is a focus on foreign affairs, not that this is likely to benefit him much when unemployment is high and everyone wants answers on the economy.

The people who lose out are… the people. Again. The people always lose out.

The Unknown Man

Perry’s drooping ratings are a reminder of why he scored big in the first place. He was unknown and hadn’t faced the test of fire yet. Now that he’s been through several debates, his ratings are lower. Palin’s sudden positive polling is related to it, while she is quite well known, she hasn’t been subject to a surge of attacks in a while. Three debates later her polling wouldn’t be quite as good either.

But it also reveals the dissatisfaction with the field. Conservatives are passionate about principles and the combination of principles and electability is an elusive one. All candidates have their flaws and the more electable the candidate, the bigger the flaws. So we end up with Romney and Perry, in a clash of cultures, rather than policies. 

Perry’s best asset is being the anti-Romney and Romney’s best asset is being the anti-Romney, which works fine so long as no one looks too closely at whether they’re really all that different. Some people have already looked and are not all that happy with what they have seen. But this is the way that the system works.

And Now the Roundup

Say You're Sorry

It doesn't get any better than a Democrat congressman apologizing to Muslims for us being ourselves.

Charity Subsidized Journalism

Can we look forward to the day when the New York Times is a charity case? That's already the case for liberal Jewish papers who lack that vital thing called readers and whose agenda is subsidized by the Federations, which are subsidized by the government and gullible donors.

Adam Taxin's Examiner column examines the story. I don't recall seeing any recent stats, but the numbers from five years back suggested that even so-called youth oriented papers like the Forward are demographically doomed, the Jewish Week was slightly better off but still sliding inevitably away. 

Divide We Stand
Washington Rebel, via Western Rifle Shooters, We are a Divided People

What I mean by indulgences is this: $500 million dollar loans to companies who play the liberal game, nothing for those starving, bankrupt small businesses put out of business by the policies of politicians who sought the favor of the mass of voters looking for the spoils of a rich nation. The Community Reinvestment Act and all of the disastrous actions that strengthened it and bastardized the business of banking was nothing more than another form of looting the middle class. They have destroyed the middle class with their efforts and now seek another method, the direct method, outright confiscation.

Of course part of the problem is that we're not really a "people" at this point, and if the economics of the Civil War were about economic competition, there is no turf war here, just the decay of the system into an oligarchy where the people at the top are concerned with maximizing their power.

The people at the top have their constituencies, some of them legitimate, but the philosophical division that some on the right and the left emphasize hardly exists. Yes there are people who expect the government to pay their mortgage and there are people who want to see the military privatized, but for the most part, people are angry and confused. They know the system is unfair and they're being pulled two ways over who to blame. 

The trick is that both are to blame. The oversized government and its crony capitalists. They're part of a common problem where irresponsibility and complete lack of foresight are the standard way of doing things. The old robber barons made mistakes, and were often bastards, but they weren't incompetent. The real problem of America today is that it is being governed by the incompetent on behalf of the incompetent at the expense of the competent.

We could have a functioning country if it was being governed by the competent on behalf of the incompetent, though it wouldn't be a very good country. But the current system is headed off the rails at ridiculous speeds because it's being run by the likes of Obama and his cronies, who are clever enough to get to power, but not wise enough to understand that they have to make the system work in order to steal from it.

The old Tammany roots of the party lay in people who understood that, they didn't understand it well enough to control themselves, but they got better at it as time went on. And then with the advent of the baby boomers it got worse, as radicals and community organizers who did not learn the lessons of the political machine got their chance to spend the dough. And then came Generation X with even less connection to the old politicos.

What we have now are a bushel of Aaron Burr's, smart and crazy enough to claw their way up, but completely devoid of morals or reality checks. They have ingenious schemes and boundless arrogance. They will do anything, without conceiving that they might fail or that there might be a price to pay. Think Tower of Babel.

The Future of New York

Via the always great American Digest, the future of the city

Despite its self-celebrated "progressive"image, New York has the most unequal distribution of income in the nation. The bulk of the job growth has not been on Wall Street, where employment has declined over the decade, but in hospitality and restaurants, which pay salaries 60% below the city average. In fact, restaurants are now the largest single private employers in Manhattan, with more people serving tables than trading equities. 

That's not an uncommon phenomenon on islands that exist only for tourists, but it's a sad state of affairs for a city that was one important because it produced something, which is now a city with massive municipal services, boroughs destroyed by multiculturalism and a gentrified center on the island of Manhattan and around the old city center of Brooklyn where yuppies crowd close to the river.

Now the funny thing about waiters is that you can pay them less than minimum wage and busboys are usually Mexican illegals who can be paid... whatever. So the only job growth here is in jobs that are below minimum wage. Count also the number of off the books jobs in immigrant communities and you start to get a truer picture of the situation.

The tricky thing that New York City has pulled off is that it has retained the status of a cultural capital with a world class opera company and scholarly institutions, book publishers and all that, with a tourist destination which all adds up to a major hospitality industry, but not a whole lot else.

The docks still mostly stand empty, industrial powerhouses are a shadow of what they were, 19th century warehouses are converted into overpriced condos for the people who can't afford Manhattan, so much is being lost and not all that much has been gained.

New York has picked up a whole lot of Midwestern wannabe poets and Bangladeshi immigrants, but the people who made it what it is are gone or working for a government paycheck.

Enjoy the weekend

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Israel's Lose-Lose Scenario

By On September 22, 2011
No matter the outcome of the statehood bid for the Palestinian Authority, the only sure loser in this scenario is an Israeli government which has once again allowed itself to react to events, rather than dictating them. The price for defeating the statehood bid is almost certain to be more concessions. Whether Abbas gets his UN vote or gets blocked at the gate by Obama, he can still count on more Israeli territory extracted under pressure.

The terrorist game has always been fairly simple, create a crisis and force Israel to react, and then collect their winnings. The Israeli game has been to point at the terrorism and lawbreaking on the enemy side and expect the world to finally acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority has lost its credibility and force it to negotiate honestly. After decades of terror and lies this clearly isn't going to happen, but that hasn't stopped the Israeli government from playing that one card over and over again.

Sharon, for all his many flaws, was the only Israeli Prime Minister who actually took the initiative and deployed his own offensive strategy that did not depend on proving anything to the world. It was a bad strategy, but it's a measure of the ineptitude of the other four Prime Ministers since Oslo who couldn't come up with anything besides gamely trotting to the negotiating table, making a reasonable offer and hoping for the best.

Netanyahu's second outing has been marked by a grand economic vision and no security or foreign policy vision to speak of. Instead Israel has gone into reactive mode with disastrous results, allowing itself to be panicked by the flotilla and now by the statehood bid into putting all its energies into campaigns that play directly into the hands of its enemies.

The man who had the historical background and the foreign policy experience to come up with something more than playing whack a mole with every crisis has been surprisingly inept in the big picture. And the other side has seized the initiative.

Netanyahu's failure to address Hamas in Gaza has led to the Free Gilad Shalit movement at home and the international flotilla movement abroad-- two contrasting movements, both led by the left, both taking advantage of Israel's passivity. The blockade of Gaza and the Separation Barrier have become symbols of Israeli inaction portrayed as vicious cruelty by anti-Israel movements that understand how to exploit the moment. Add Iron Dome to the tally, a hyper-expensive brilliantly conceived defense system which fails to solve the problem, but ties a complex Gordian knot around it, that the vicious Islamist thugs will cut through with another low tech solution.

Israel is full of engineers and generals all pointed at the wrong goal, and easily undermined by a shift of terrain that once again forces them to make concessions to enemies that are dumber, but who do take the initiative.

The difference between the magnificent triumph of the Six Day War and the near apocalypse of the Yom Kippur War was the difference between taking the initiative and waiting behind passive defenses for the approval of the international community before taking action. The lesson of both wars is that Israel does not have enough territory, population or resources to be passive. But its current hyper-passive alertness is nearly as awful as pure passivity would be.

Over and over again, the enemy counts on provoking an Israeli reaction and leading it into another lose-lose scenario in which whatever it does, it loses. Passivity allows the enemy to claim victory and a last minute overreaction results in condemnation and forces Israel to write more checks in the form of concessions.

The statehood bid isn't a suicide bombing, but it's equally senseless and equally effective at sending Israeli diplomats desperately scrambling for a solution to a problem they should have headed off long ago. Instead like the flotilla, Israel has been caught flatfooted by its own inaction and its reaction is once again putting it deep in debt to the likes of Obama, who will be sure to call in that debt with interest.

This defective strategy predates Oslo and goes back to the Intifada, where fairly low level but photogenic outbursts of violence became the basis for a terrorist state inside Israel thanks to governments who mishandled the situation. And the mishandling keeps going on and on.

The goal of the pro-Palestinian cause is attention. That attention is the oxygen of its movement. When its activists barge into Jewish events and disrupt them, they measure their success in the attention that they garner for it, both negative and positive. Attention is the measure of their power. Their ability to disrupt is their power.

The same is true back in the Middle East where the terrorists have gained power from their disruptive abilities-- the more they sabotage, kill, maim, hijack, or otherwise command attention, the more they create a process where their disruption becomes a form of blackmail. Give us what we want or we'll do it again.

Playing this game reactively makes it easy for the disrupters to stay one step ahead and play their game. The larger the reaction, the more effective the disruption. Israeli leaders and advocates have become convinced that the only way to win is by winning the war of ideas-- but the more you debate a disruptive force, the more the disruptive force wins. Witness the Israel Philharmonic concert at the Royal Albert Hall where a booing match ended in victory for the disrupters, even though they were outnumbered. But terrorists don't have to win on points, their very ability to disrupt is already a victory.

The statehood bid is more of the same-- a political disruption which has already succeeded because of the disruption it already caused. The Palestinian Authority has nothing to lose and everything to gain from disruption. Abbas, an unelected leader supported by Western money has more in common with the fallen regimes of the Arab Spring than with the revolutionary movements he is trying to pose as. Too fearful to negotiate and all too aware that his time is running out, statehood is a feint that will either buy him another six months or destroy him. But it's better than doing nothing. That is something which Abbas has finally understood, but Netanyahu still hasn't.

Of course Netanyahu and Israel have much more to lose, but Israel has been steadily losing since Oslo-- if it doesn't come up with a decisive plan then it is likely to lose everything. The mantra of defensible borders and defensible demographics that has seduced to many politicians and generals is another excuse for doing anything, except drawing up more plans to expel two-hundred thousand Israelis from their homes in the hopes that somehow that will fix everything.

But what's there to fix?

Israel made the mistake of paying too much attention to its image problems and not enough to its military ones. It hasn't won the image war and it's rapidly losing the military one. No Muslim army ever succeeded in cutting Israel in half, even during the Yom Kippur War, but it is on the verge of allowing itself to be pressured into creating a contiguous Palestinian state that will cut it in half.

No Muslim army has managed to seize half of Jerusalem since 1967, but that too is now a mandate on the table. The negotiations and concessions have already cost Israel more territory than any war since 1948 when it was low on weapons, had militias instead of an army, was under an arms embargo and was also on the edge of civil war.

Yet when you talk to Israeli generals, the one thing they have on their mind is the image problem. Gone is the Oom Shmoom attitude, in is the need to fight political wars in which no one gets hurt too badly, but enough force is displayed to let the terrorists know who is stronger. This idiocy has ended in massacres of Israeli civilians and the flotilla disaster. It has cost the lives of countless soldiers and unsurprisingly Israel's PR is still terrible, as can be expected from a country where everyone tells you exactly what they think within 5 seconds of meeting you.

Israel's problem isn't its image, it has an image problem because it has a terrorist problem. If Israel were Sri Lanka or Turkey, then the world might shrug and the story would be reported on Page 5B, but Israel's enemies are an alliance of Islamist petrodollars and the red brigades of the left who have more people, access and resources. The longer the situation drags on, the more material they have to work with, and the more they can make this seem like a raw bloody wound that has to be solved for the sake of regional and world peace. And the more Israel debates, the more it inflates.

Israel has lost its own left, it isn't going to win over the international left, or the Jewish left, the majority of whom with a few exceptions think the world would be a better place if it were to be destroyed.

Muslim immigration is swiftly dividing Europe into three sides, the side that favors Islam, the side that is against Islam, and the apathetic side that will stand aside and listen to whoever is in charge. The first side will never be for Israel. The second side will not always be for Israel, but it will rarely be for the terrorists. The third side will think whatever the first side tells it to, so long as it controls the government and the media.

In a West divided between internationalists and nativists, there will be a dwindling number of people who want to hear how Israel helps Bedouin women get an education, and most of those people will be liberal Jews. The internationalists have made it painfully clear that Israel does not belong, in terms that even Peres is slowly beginning to understand, that it is a racist extremist nativist state that must be destroyed to make way for a tolerant democratic multicultural Arab-Muslim klepto-tyranny.

The American and European foreign policy establishments can't let go of Israel, but they can't stop torturing it either. It's a powerful piece in a game that they don't dare commit to, and in the game of half-measures that they play, it's a piece that does more harm than good. And the Israeli government is playing that same game of half-measures, which also do more harm than good. Everyone wants to keep their options open, to take the high road and kiss the olive branch-- but that road leads down to the abyss.

What Israel needs to do most of all is stop talking, stop reacting and stop playing defense while waiting for a referee to recognize all the fouls committed by the other side and call the game in its favor. The only referee likely to do that is the omnipotent One, and there's no word on when He intends to to blow the whistle. The more Israel reacts to the disruptions, the more they persist and trap it in a game of Catch 22 ball that it can't win.

The peace is not winnable, the war is, and only war can bring about some kind of manageable peace. As long as Israel holds on to the belief that passive defenses, barriers and blockades and bar lev lines will maintain some sort of liable status quo, its position will keep on degrading until it is at risk of being unsalvageable.

Israel has trapped itself in a lose-lose scenario, it needs a strategy that doesn't depend on illusions, on the failures of the other side finally becoming apparent or on tinkering with the status quo so it doesn't hurt so much. It needs to plan for victory, rather than looking for ways to manage defeat. And it may have to get much more desperate before it is ready to commit to the kinds of risky strategies that it has become famous and infamous for.

Bad leadership and international pressure has trapped Israel in a downward strategic spiral of reactive policies leading to image problems, leading to more reactive policies, leading to more disruptive assaults, and more image problems. Breaking out of that spiral will take hard work and risks, but it isn't impossible. What it requires is serious thinking of how to secure a future for Israel that does not depend on the goodwill of its enemies. That is the fundamental error and question that it faces today. And it will likely not find its way to that new independence until its back is once again up against the wall.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Time to Tax the Trillionaires

By On September 21, 2011
Obama says that it's time to tax the rich. I agree, but while he wants to limit the tax to millionaires and billionaires-- I want to advance it to trillionaires.

Forget Warren Buffett and his secretary and the rest of the small timers, let's look at where the real money is going-- to the trillionaires.Who are the trillionaires? They're the people who spent and spent until we ended up with a 15 trillion dollar deficit. Now it's time to make them pay their fair share.

Politicians, public sector unions, crony capitalists and the rest of the rotten body politic that left us with a debt so big that it can't be repaid without selling an entire state. It's time to make the trillionaires pay.

How do we make them pay. Obama has complained that unless we raise taxes on the rich, there will be no money for Medicare. That's a fair point, so let's tax the trillionaires to recoup the costs. And let's make it a whopping progressive tax too.

Forget taxing their take home pay from their non-profits and their dues-- we know that like Buffett and half the cabinet, they just won't pay. Let's tax the taxman instead. Since the money that should have kept Social Security solvent was spent by the trillionaires, it should be taken out of their spending. Forget taxing income-- it's time to tax Federal spending.

Got a new bill that calls for spending 10 billion dollars to make pogo sticks in low income neighborhoods more energy efficient or 400 million dollars in foreign aid to terrorists or 1 million to rum factories in the Cayman Islands (because who the hell knows why)? No problem, just get ready to pay your fair share of the bill first toward the national debt and all other obligations.

Since the trillionaires in the government have lots of money-- let's make this an extremely progressive tax. And let's do Sweden one better by making this a 90 percent tax.

Yes Barry, I know it's hard, but it's only fair-- those who spend more should also have to pay more. It's not class warfare, it's simple math. And the simple math says that the only way to fix budget failures is by taking the money out of the budget. Sure we could hang around waiting for politicians to do the right thing, or we could tax their spending.

It makes no real sense to tax businesses and individuals in a tough economic climate, not when there's less money for everyone-- but in Washington D.C. the spending is still going strong which means they clearly have money to burn. Why burn it on habitats for owls and research projects to study how much television prison inmates can watch without going insane-- when we can put it to better use by covering the government's debts.

It's simple math, we have to make those who spend more money pay their fair share. It's up to the trillionaires in Washington D.C. and their allies around the country to start covering some of the losses. And since the definition of tax is fluid in this administration, call it a penalty or a slow repayment plan.

We can only spend so much time moving money around, using fake spending cuts to pay for separate programs, and then making fake cuts to those programs and claiming that spending cuts have been tripled, even as it's the spending that has actually tripled. No more games, just a 90 percent tax on all Federal spending directed at the deficit and obligations on which the government has threatened to default.

No more games, no more dodges, just pay your fair share... back to the people you stole it from.

Of course an extended repayment program will take time and even with a very progressive tax, the debt will still take years to pay off. But that just calls for the trillionaires to find creative solutions to pitch in. What about the Barney Frank Acapella Choir Sings Jingle Cats or Obama's Inspiring Birthday Greetings (Only Slightly Plagiarized From the Works of Maya Angelou.) There's plenty of ideas out there and most of them are bound to at least earn some money. And they'll need to work hard because that tax also applies to the salaries of Federal employees in decision making positions.

There's no question that we can't go on this way, but the hole problem can't be solved by trying to fill it with shovels. Federal spending dug the hole and adding more shovels by raising taxes will just make a bigger hole. The only way we can fill the hole is if we take away the shovels and start putting the dirt back. That means taxing the spenders, not the earners.

The problem isn't that we don't tax the rich enough, it's that we don't tax the super-rich enough. Taxing the millionaires and billionaires will never raise enough money because the deficit isn't caused by low taxes, it's caused by uncontrolled spending. The only tax that will work is a tax on spending.

Now a tax on spending is the only kind of tax in the world that the progressive party is not on board with-- because it's a tax on them, a tax on their capacity to spend, a tax on the source of their power. The Federal budget amounts to a giant pile of money gathered from all over and then handed out to cronies and supporters. It's a spoils system and a spoiled system and the deficit of trillions testifies to that.

The pile of money is our target because it feeds directly into the deficit, it's why seniors are worried and have good reason to be. What was once set up as a safety net has become a big heaping platter of pork served up to everyone with access to a congressman, a protest sign or a checkbook. The only way out of this mess is by getting hold of that pile of money and taking it out of the hands of the people spending it, and what better way to do that then by using the mechanism that allowed them to create that pile of money in the first place.

Taxing the taxmen has a certain quality of poetic justice to it, but also pragmatism. It cuts up the credit cards of the D.C. establishment, puts them on a budget and them lets them have fun passing all sorts of ridiculous spending bills-- which no matter what is in the bill will go not to the endangered macaws of Alaska, the teacher's unions of Minnesota or forty agencies with their own SWAT teams, but toward repaying the debts they all accrued. 

Of course there will be angry protests and lobbyists, but unfortunately the tax on angry protests by people who are paid with tax money during their work hours and the tax on lobbying to spend tax money should let even them do their part to pay down the debt. It's only fair.

The newspapers will editorialize and they are free to do that, so long as they are willing to pay the tax on anyone calling for deficit spending. It's only fair that those who promote spending money should pay their share of the costs of their policies.

Eliminating loopholes like these will help pay down our debts and protect our seniors even quicker, that is why I urge congress to pass this bill. Pass this bill, I say. Our children need it. Our grand-children need it, and our politicians will be locked up in fancy rooms with all the coffee they can drink and free blackberries which will be hooked up to treadmills and the energy of their motion will be used to provide sustainable environmentally friendly power.

Delaying much longer is not an option. Every day that goes by another politician gives a speech and proposes more spending that further inflates the deficit. If we keep this up, no amount of Nancy Pelosi workout tapes and Harry Reid Halloween masks will cover the cost of the money they're spending.

Sure we can take more from the small timers like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who are eager to pay their share, so long as their share ends up coming out of the Federal budget, as it did with the Oracle of Crony Capitalism's latest fantabulous investment. But why waste our time with mere billionaires, when the trillionaires are waiting?


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