Thursday, February 28, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Extensive data suggest that the champions of progress are the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden – where, for example, universal literacy was a substantial reality in the 19th century.
And of course leftylibs like to point to Scandinavian countries as models of harmony.
But guess what? Such countries ARE NOT "multicultural". Although the recent imports of muslim savages sadly may change that....
By contrast, no Arab country today is democratic, and female illiteracy in some Arab countries exceeds 50 percent.
Culture isn't about genes or race; it's about values, beliefs, and attitudes. Culture matters because it influences a society's receptivity to democracy, justice, entrepreneurship, and free-market institutions.
A key component of a successful democratic transition is trust, a particularly important cultural factor for social justice and prosperity. Trust in others reduces the cost of economic transactions, and democratic stability depends on it.
Trust is periodically measured in 80-odd countries by the World Values Survey. The Nordic countries enjoy very high levels of trust: 58 to67 percent of respondents in four of these countries believe that most people can be trusted, compared with 11 percent of Algerians and 3 percent of Brazilians.
The high levels of identification and trust in Nordic societies reflect their homogeneity; common Lutheran antecedents, including a rigorous ethical code and heavy emphasis on education; and a consequent sense of the nation as one big family imbued with the golden rule.
Friday, February 22, 2008
I have worked more than 40 years examining and interpreting American and international social and economic data. To me the evidence seems clear. There is no collapse in sight. The United States will become vastly more powerful in the decades to come.
My primary reason concerns demographics. The first U.S. Census counted 3.9 million Americans. The Census of 2000 counted roughly 300 million Americans, an increase of 7,500 percent. Just over the course of the 20th century, the population grew by 400 percent. Careful projections by both the U.S. Census Bureau and the United Nations Population Division now show a growth path to 400 million by 2050 and 500 million by 2100. But that is an increase of 67 percent — not close to 7,500 percent or 400 percent. Relatively, growth is slowing down — but a half a billion people is a big number. Population yields influence.Gee Ben, what happens when that growth is almost entirely due to an undereducated underclass, one that due to the poison of multiculturalism may not be friendly to the United States? Here, Ben is still sanguine:
In America, too, there is some resistance to immigration, particularly to illegals. But the United States has thrived on assimilating newcomers — after hating them. Benjamin Franklin denounced German immigrants. The Irish were hated, so were Jews, Italians and Poles. There were immigration laws against certain groups — as in the "Asian Exclusion Acts." But most of the descendants of those immigrants not only became productive citizens, but presidents, corporate innovators and Nobel Prize winners. Today many and grandchildren of the haters now celebrate the American mosaic. The hate du jour has shifted to Mexicans.Big difference Ben! In days of yore, we did not have an academic, media, and entertainment elite running America down. Prior waves of immigrants also had a big ocean to cross, which had a way of diminishing ties to, and claims from, the Old Country. Not so with just South Of The Border.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Which of these three options is more likely to prevent further murderous rampages: a) making universities closed campuses and increasing the police presence on campus (as the president of NIU has promised to do); b) making guns much harder to obtain; or c) enabling specially trained students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus?But Mark Steyn notes that liberals LIKE assasinations, if they serve the bigger agenda:
Because political correctness has replaced wisdom at nearly all universities, colleges are considering options a and b. But the only thing the first option will accomplish is to reduce the quality of university life and render the campus a larger version of the contemporary airport. And the second option will have no effect whatsoever since whoever wishes to commit murder will be able to obtain guns illegally.
But if would-be murderers know that anywhere they go to kill students, there is a real likelihood that one or two students will shoot them first, and if in fact some would-be murderer is killed before he can murder any, or at least many, students, we will see far fewer such attempts made. Even though many of these murderers end up killing themselves, they don't want to die until they have first murdered as many students and teachers as possible.
Of course, there is virtually no chance that the uniformly left-thinking individuals who run our universities will ever consider this option. To do so would mean abandoning what is essentially a religious-like conviction that guns are immoral rather than the people who use them immorally.
Around the world, a second instant subgenre has sprung up in which commentators speculate how long it will be before some deranged Christian-fundamentalist neo-Nazi gun-nut deprives America of its fleeting wisp of glory.And yet:
Every president is a target for assassination, though George W. Bush is unique in having been the subject of explicit murder fantasies by so many non-right-wing nonextremist impeccably reasonable artists (the British movie "Death Of A President"; the novella "Checkpoint" by Nicholson Baker) and even the occasional straightforward exhortation: "On Nov. 2, the entire civilized world will be praying, praying Bush loses," wrote Charlie Brooker in London's Guardian in 2004. "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?"
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
What needs to happen is to reinstall the draft, and require each college grad to spend at least two years in the military service, preferably the Marine Corp, and I believe we would see some great changes in the minds of our youth.
Sorry, but no, although the sentiment is in the right place. Our military has done splendidly in Iraq (and don't let the liberal media fool you, they have done splendidly) precisely because they are all-volunteer. I would be wary of taking commie kids into the service, because then there would be a 5th column of unhappy traitors in the serivce who would "frag" their officers if given half a chance. That would be a bad idea.
Would exposing some commie brats to real hardship knock some of the Bolshevik brainwashing out of their heads? For the naive ones in a state of youthful rebellion, perhaps, but then again, two years post graduation, trying to find a real job and otherwise working in the real world, would accomplish that too, and at much less taxpayer cost. Moreover, there are two big problems with this line of reasoning:
1. For a good many of the leftist brats, it is *not* rebellion. They are "red diaper babies". They are actually "good" sons and daughters, following the scripts instilled in them by their commie parents. The Old Left of the 1930's spawned the New Left of the 1960's which has spawned the Newest Left now.
When I was a student at Berkeley (I know the territory) I came to know the "Student activist" types. Nearly all of them had parents in the faculty or otherwise in the University bureaucracy administration, and their parents were tacitly and sometimes actively egging them on.
You would NOT want to draft these people--potential Benedict Arnolds, Alger Hisses, and Philip Agees all. I would use a revived Un-American Activities Committee on these people instead. Name them and shame them.
2. A draft would give these aforementioned ringleaders a "hook" with which to recruit the naive and the youthfully rebellious. It was no accident that campus unrest ended almost immediately, once Nixon ended the draft.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Why, some wonder, do these "progressive" leftists, who are ostensibly pro-homosexual and pro-feminist, make common cause with Islamunists? This happened because the Commiecrats have morphed into Dhimmicrats. Multiculturalism, or cultural Marxism, led them from the old economic Marxism of proletariat vs. bourgeois to a new dichotomy: a romanticized version of the Third World vs. Western Civilization.
The communist lip service to "feminism" and "gay rights", while it contradicts Islam, is just a recruiting tool. If Islam offered the leaders among these traitors real power, they would be all too happy to turn around and throw their "womyn" and homosexual members under the proverbial bus, just as Stalin purged Trotsky when he was no longer useful and became a hindrance.
The Democrat Party has become, in effect, the Demunist Commiecrat Party, attempts by the centrist Democrat Leadership Council to mute this insanity notwithstanding.
Are there still non-traitor, non-communist leftover Democrats? Why of course, in the millions, but they no longer control the Party apparatus. Which is too bad, because I'd rather choose between two positive visions of my California, and my America, rather than finding myself stuck voting Republican simply because they are not traitors.
Howard Dean hinted at such with his message of "outreach", but of course he was so condescending that his message backfired. And of course, he drew the wrath of the two established factions of the Left, the Demunist Commiecrats:
The first are the pseudo-intellectual, appease the enemy, anti-family, neo-pagan sodomites. Their agenda is based upon:
--hatred of the military
--romanticizing of Turd World tinhorns and communist regimes
--hatred of American might and a desire to destroy it
--hatred of the family institution (often stemming from hatred of their fathers, often stemming from their desire to break down the family institution so people will be more dependent upon socialist government)
--hatred of men (if women, or "womyn" as they put it)
--hatred of Judeo-Christian civilization (no gods can come before statism, after all).
These are the big pushers for normalization of homosexuality--far beyond mere tolerance. The family institution and the churches must be denigrated and devalued as much as possible for these people, so statist power and welfare dependency can be maximized.
Many also hide behind phony environmentalism -- global warming hoaxes so that America's standard of living must go down and Americans can be taxed further for phony Kyoto Protocols or United Nations Liliputians to hamstring the American Gulliver. Meanwhile, the communist regimes they apologized for and even supported created ecological nightmares beyond anything in the Western World.
Many of these are still communists from their 1960's days. Even further back, you occasionally run into old Wobblies who still remember their first vote for Norman Thomas or Gus Hall or Henry Wallace. These people could be said to be the Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich supporters.
The second are the welfare sucking, quota filling, parasite, whitey-hating racist hypocrites. Increasingly these types are hating Jewish and Asian Americans as well (and people who vote Democrat in those two ethnic groups had better start getting wise to that.)
Their agenda is based upon:
--a sense that the world owes them a living
--hypocritical racist tribalism
--hatred of America and all it stands for, which is now leading some of them into Islam.
Like the pseudo-intellectual sodomites mentioned first, they also feature romanticizing of Turd World tinhorns and communist regimes, but it is more based upon "getting back at the Man" rather than any genuine belief that these Turd World and communist regimes were any good.
Unlike the pseudo-intellectual sodomite pagan Left above, they often DO have a religion, warped as it is, and they often do try to hide their treason in religion, a la Jesse Jackson. Think also of a scumbag like Al Sharpton here.
The latter type of Demunist Commiecrat is now the driving force behind open borders and masses of illegal aliens -- in the hope that a larger underclass can be imported with which to foment their treason and get more non-whites who can be induced to hate whitey, as well as a general desire to undermine the laws of the land.
Unfortunately, there are also "Republican" business interests who unwittingly feed the parasite industry simply for short term cheap labor needs, even if in the long run it could very well undermine the economy of the state and the nation as a whole.
I don't blame the illegal aliens per se--after all, wouldn't you get out of a Turd World pesthole if you could? However, they are being manipulated by the anti-American Left, and many of them are simply a net loss rather than a net benefit to the nation. For that reason, immigration must be strictly controlled and illegal aliens must be deported when possible, legal aliens can stay if they can somehow prove their service to the nation (in the military, or as productive workers). I wish the Bushyrovies would get this point, but sadly they live in a delusion of victory through Hispandering.
I suppose that there are other types of leftist scum --sniveling college pukes who have yet to outgrow adolescent rebellion, cynical political panderers, bong smoke animal anthropomorphizing theorists who think the lab rats should run the research labs, sexual libertines who define "freedom" as the ability to put anything in one's mouth or anus without consequence and then demand socialized medicine when the inevitable consequences follow, etc., but essentially there are only two types of Demunist Commiecrat leaders to worry about.
Unfortunately, in Barack Obama, these two types may have their synthesis candidate.
If you vote for Demunists, you aren't just a dupe who still believes in socialism, or a welfare bum who opportunistically wants a handout. No, you, Commiecrat voter, are a full blown traitor.
We have defeated the Communists abroad, but a Leftover Fifth Column of them infiltrated academia, the legal profession, most charitable foundations, most governmental bureaucracies, and one of the two major political parties.
I will restate again: Are there still non-traitor, non-communist leftover Democrats? Why yes of course, millions of them. However, they no longer control the Party apparatus. Which is too bad, because I'd rather choose between two positive visions of my California, and my America, rather than finding myself stuck voting Republican simply because they are not traitors.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Thomas Sowell observes the media fawning over John McCain (at least until Barack Obama showed up), and notes a historical parallel.
Mark Steyn observes that McCain could sure *sound* like a real Conservative, even when he wasn't, while Mitt Romney didn't sound like one, even though he was much closer to the real deal:
When a guy starts running for president, a few of us tend to hear the lyrics — what's he saying about the war, abortion, taxes. But a lot more people respond to the tune — how he's saying it.
That was part of the problem with Mitt's campaign: When the sheet music came rolling off the fax machine from the Romney press office, it looked great. Good policies on the economy, national security, social issues — all three legs of the Republican coalition. But, when Mitt put the sheet up on the stand and started to sing, it wasn't quite what the broader GOP electorate wanted to hear.
Mitt is a smart, talented, successful man, but he has a clean-cut mien, and he says "Golly!" quite a lot. I found that goofily endearing. When someone raised the old polygamy question about Mormons, Mitt could have snidely pointed out that, in contrast with certain former New York mayors and Arizona senators, he was the only candidate still on his first wife, but instead he just took Mrs. R's hand and said "Golly, I hate polygamy." I don't know whether I'd want to be married to someone who said "Golly!" quite that often, but that's Mitt: not a polygamist, but a gollygamist.
A decisive chunk of the Republican primary electorate didn't find this goofily endearing. When Mitt stood up and warbled, they didn't like his tune. They wanted something meaner and rawer and tougher, and there was John McCain....the defining McCain moment came back in the fall when he responded to Hillary Clinton's support for public funding for a Woodstock museum. If you're under 70 and have no idea what "Woodstock" is or why it would require its own museum, ask your grandpa. But McCain began by saying he was sure Mrs. Clinton was right and that it was a major "cultural and pharmaceutical event." Which is a cute line. And McCain wasn't done yet: "I wasn't there," he said of the 1969 music festival. "I was tied up at the time."
And that's the music a lot of Republican voters want to hear. For a certain percentage of voters, McCain is tonally a conservative, and that trumps the fact that a lot of his policies are profoundly unconservative. He won New Hampshire because if you stuck him in plaid he'd be a passable Beltway impersonation of the crusty, cranky, ornery Granite Stater. The facts are secondary that, on campaign finance, illegal immigration, Big Pharma and global warming, the notorious "maverick's" mavericity (maverickiness? maverectomy?) always boils down to something indistinguishable from the Democrat position.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Are rebates nice? Oh yah, you bet they are. I like getting money back (and paying less taxes as a result). Who doesn't? But let's not kid ourselves.
Tax *rebates* don't stimulate the economy. Cutting tax *rates*, so less is taken from us in the first place, does.
High tax rates reduce economic growth because they make it less profitable to work, save and invest. This translates into less work, saving, investment and capital -- and that results in fewer goods and services. Reducing marginal income tax rates has been shown to motivate workers to work more. Lower corporate and investment taxes encourage the savings and investment vital to producing more plants and equipment, as well as better technology.The same critics respond that redistributing money from "savers" to "spenders" will lead to additional spending. That assumes that savers store their savings in their mattresses, thereby removing it from the economy. In reality, nearly all Americans either invest their savings (where it finances business investment) or deposit it in banks (which quickly lend it to others to spend). Therefore, the money *is used*, whether it is initially consumed or saved.
By contrast, tax rebates fail because they don't encourage productivity or wealth
creation. No one has to work, save, invest or create any new wealth to receive a rebate.
Critics contend that rebates "inject" new money into the economy, increasing demand and therefore production. But every dollar that government rebates "inject" into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy (and even money borrowed from foreigners brings a reduction in net exports). No new spending power is created. It is merely redistributed from one group of people to another.
Given that reality, isn't it more responsible for the saver to keep that money and save for a new home or their children's education, rather than have Washington redistribute it to someone else to spend for Chinese made goods at Best Buy?
Simply put, low tax rates encourage new wealth creation. Tax rebates merely redistribute existing wealth.And what is worse is that the Bush Administration and the Republicans who are left in Congress did this *before*, back in 2001. What makes them think gimmicks will work now? For the 2001 tax rebates, Washington borrowed billions from the capital markets, and then mailed it to families in the form of $600 checks. Predictably, consumer spending temporarily rose, and capital/investment spending temporarily fell by a corresponding amount. This simple transfer of existing wealth did not encourage productive behavior. The economy remained stagnant through 2001 and much of 2002.
It was not until the 2003 tax cuts -- which instead cut tax rates for workers and investors -- that the economy finally and immediately recovered. In the previous 18 months, businesses investment had plummeted, the stock market had dropped 18 percent, and the economy had lost 616,000 jobs. In the 18 months following the 2003 tax rate reductions, business investment surged, the stock market leaped 32 percent, and the economy created 5.3 million new jobs. Overall economic growth doubled.
Thus, both economic theory and practice show the superiority of tax rate reductions over tax rebates.
On the spending side, the same economics apply. Programs aimed at injecting money into the economy will fail because that money first must be removed from the economy. And proposals to have Washington subsidize state governments would not change the amount of total government taxing and borrowing. Such policies are based on redistribution, not productivity.
True, education, training and highway spending could theoretically increase productivity and therefore promote long-term economic growth. However, that assumes Washington won't divert highway money into worthless pork projects and bridges to nowhere, and that more education and training money are directly correlated with better performance. (Previous large budget increases had almost no effect.) There is little reason to trust Washington politicians to make the right public investments.
Instead, the 2003 tax cuts showed that proper tax policy can encourage the working, saving and investment that fuel productivity and economic growth. Combined with proposals to reduce bureaucratic red tape and support free trade, (actual) tax rate reductions (not "after the fact" tax rebates) are the best way for Washington to remove barriers to economic growth.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Republicans are so shell-shocked and demoralized by the success of the Bush Derangement Syndrome, they think they can fool the voters by nominating an open-borders, anti-tax cut, anti-free speech, global-warming hysteric, pro-human experimentation "Republican." Which is to say, a Democrat.But our demoralization isn't because of Bush Derangement Syndrome! It was because of GOP "strategists" like this:
Ken Duberstein was Ronald Reagan's chief of staff from 1988 to 1989 and deputy
undersecretary of labor for Gerald Ford.
Duberstein is very well-connected within the Republican Party.
"McCain is already starting to pull the Republican Party together, with the exception of the radio talk-show wing," Duberstein said.
"And sometimes that wing uses controversy to build listenership. The fact is that John McCain is uniting the Republican Party."
What a DuberDumbass.
Yes, because amnesty for illegals, pork barrel "stimulus" spending, and the "No Child Left Behind" fiasco were just *so* appealing to the base. I hate to see what DuberDumbass thinks *not* appealing to the base is like.
Duberstein went on: "People seem to be looking for candidates who can govern. We
are through with simply appealing to the base.
McCain is trying to reach out to independents, weak Republicans, weak Democrats and conservative Democrats to put together a new governing coalition that is less confrontational."What a tool. And sadly, too much of that thinking permeates the GOP hierarchy.
Duberstein believes McCain's success thus far is a good sign for Republican chances in November.
"People are saying that Washington doesn't work, we have to fix it somehow, and they are looking for people to get the job done," Duberstein said.
"McCain has shown the ability to reach across the aisle and get things done."
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Assuming John McCain gets the GOP nomination, it will show how whimsical history can be. It would be the first time in living memory that a Republican presidential nomination went to a candidate who was not merely opposed by a majority of the party but was actively despised by about half its rank-and-file voters across the country -- and by many, if not most, of its congressional officeholders. After all, the McCain electoral surge was barely able to deliver a plurality of one-third of the Republican vote in a three-, four- or five-way split field. He has won fair and square, but he has driven the nomination process askew.
But what was left after the two strongest candidates couldn't run was one venerable candidate (McCain), one suspiciously newly minted conservative (Romney), one not-quite-plausible factional figure (Huckabee), one social liberal (Giuliani), a quixotic anti-war candidate (Paul) and an older Southern gent with a smashing younger wife for whom he seemed to be saving most of the energy he should have used in what was risibly called his "run" for president (Thompson).
So, the mischievous gremlins and elves inside the wheel of history have served up John McCain to lead Ronald Reagan's party into November battle. McCain is both the finest war hero since Eisenhower to run for president and the one senior Republican who has gleefully put his thumb in the eyes of his fellow Republicans and conservatives for a decade and a half.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Parker asks "What if..."?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The New York Post bluntly spells it out:
PERHAPS the greatest scandal of the mort gage crisis is that it is a direct result of an intentional loosening of underwriting standards - done in the name of ending discrimination, despite warnings that it could lead to wide-scale defaults.
At the crisis' core are loans that were made with virtually nonexistent underwriting standards - no verification of income or assets; little consideration of the applicant's ability to make payments; no down payment.
Most people instinctively understand that such loans are likely to be unsound. But how did the heavily-regulated banking industry end up able to engage in such foolishness?
From the current hand-wringing, you'd think that the banks came up with the idea of looser underwriting standards on their own, with regulators just asleep on the job. In fact, it was the regulators who relaxed these standards - at the behest of community groups and "progressive" political forces.
In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of "redlining" - claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation.
In fact, minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications - but the overwhelming reason wasn't racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.
Yet a "landmark" 1992 study from the Boston Fed concluded that mortgage-lending discrimination was systemic.
That study was tremendously flawed - a colleague and I later showed that the data it had used contained thousands of egregious typos, such as loans with negative interest rates. Our study found no evidence of discrimination.
Yet the political agenda triumphed - with the president of the Boston Fed saying no new studies were needed, and the US comptroller of the currency seconding the motion.
No sooner had the ink dried on its discrimination study than the Boston Fed, clearly speaking for the entire Fed, produced a manual for mortgage lenders stating that: "discrimination may be observed when a lender's underwriting policies contain arbitrary or outdated criteria that effectively disqualify many urban or lower-income minority applicants."
Some of these "outdated" criteria included the size of the mortgage payment relative to income, credit history, savings history and income verification. Instead, the Boston Fed ruled that participation in a credit-counseling program should be taken as evidence of an applicant's ability to manage debt.
Sound crazy? You bet. Those "outdated" standards existed to limit defaults. But bank regulators required the loosened underwriting standards, with approval by politicians and the chattering class. A 1995 strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to find ways to provide mortgages to their poorer communities. It also let community activists intervene at yearly bank reviews, shaking the banks down for large pots of money.
Banks that got poor reviews were punished; some saw their merger plans frustrated; others faced direct legal challenges by the Justice Department.
Flexible lending programs expanded even though they had higher default rates than loans with traditional standards. On the Web, you can still find CRA loans available via ACORN with "100 percent financing . . . no credit scores . . . undocumented income . . . even if you don't report it on your tax returns." Credit counseling is required, of course.
Ironically, an enthusiastic Fannie Mae Foundation report singled out one paragon of nondiscriminatory lending, which worked with community activists and followed "the most flexible underwriting criteria permitted." That lender's $1 billion commitment to low-income loans in 1992 had grown to $80 billion by 1999 and $600 billion by early 2003.
Who was that virtuous lender? Why - Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage lender, recently in the headlines as it hurtled toward bankruptcy.
In an earlier newspaper story extolling the virtues of relaxed underwriting standards, Countrywide's chief executive bragged that, to approve minority applications that would otherwise be rejected "lenders have had to stretch the rules a bit." He's not bragging now.
For years, rising house prices hid the default problems since quick refinances were possible. But now that house prices have stopped rising, we can clearly see the damage caused by relaxed lending standards.
This damage was quite predictable: "After the warm and fuzzy glow of 'flexible underwriting standards' has worn off, we may discover that they are nothing more than standards that lead to bad loans . . . these policies will have done a disservice to their putative beneficiaries if . . . they are dispossessed from their homes." I wrote that, with Ted Day, in a 1998 academic article.
Sadly, we were spitting into the wind.
These days, everyone claims to favor strong lending standards. What about all those self-righteous newspapers, politicians and regulators who were intent on loosening lending standards?
As you might expect, they are now self-righteously blaming those, such as Countrywide, who did what they were told.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Fortunately for him there is a simple way to dispel them. He can give an unequivocal assurance that he will not support such an (immigration) bill (as was attempted last year), and that, if one is passed despite his opposition, he will veto it. No ifs, buts, or maybes. Thus far he has refused to do so.