Donnerstag, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

A wonderful and happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Us expats gotta work.

But I wanted to pass this on from John Scalzi, a rather talented science-fiction writer: I'm guessing that he may not have a cousin named "Chet". But this remains a lovely prayer for Thanksgiving...

Dear Great and Gracious Lord,

This Thanksgiving, we pause to reflect on all the bounty and good fortune with which you have graced us this year. Thank you, Lord, for this feast we have in front of us and for the family and friends who are with us today to enjoy this bounty and this day with us, even our Cousin Chet. Thank you for our health and for our happiness.

We also thank you for the world and that in your wisdom you have not stopped the Earth's core from rotating, collapsing our planet's magnetic field and causing microwaves from the sun to fry whole cities, requiring a plucky band of scientists to drill down through the mantle and start the core's rotation with nuclear bombs. That seems like a lot of work, so we are pleased you've kept the Earth's core as it is.

We also thank you for once again not allowing our technology to gain sentience, to launch our own missiles at us, to send a robot back in time to kill the mother of the human resistance, to enslave us all, and finally to use our bodies as batteries. That doesn't even make sense from an energy-management point of view, Lord, and you'd think the robots would know that. But in your wisdom, you haven't made it an issue yet, so thank you.

Additionally, let us extend our gratitude that this was not the year that you allowed the alien armadas to attack, to rapaciously steal our natural resources, and to feed on us, obliging us to make a last-ditch effort to infect their computers with a virus, rely on microbes to give them a nasty cold, or moisten them vigorously in the hope that they are water-soluble. I think I speak for all of us when I say that moistening aliens was not on the agenda for any of us at this table. Thank you, Lord, for sparing us that duty.

Our further thanks to you, our Lord, for not allowing the aliens to invade one at a time and conquer us by taking us over on an individual basis. That you in your wisdom have not allowed aliens to quietly inhabit our bodies and identities -- the better to attack us by cornering us in the rec room or outside while having a smoke -- means that we can enjoy each other's company without undue paranoia. It also means that if we are obliged to set a flame thrower on Cousin Chet, as we are sometimes tempted to, we will not see his flaming head sprout arms and try to scurry away. And for that we are truly blessed.

Thank you for not allowing the total moral and economic decline of the United States, our Lord, that would turn one or more of our great cities into a prison or spring any number of apocalyptic scenarios upon us that would turn our planet into a vasty wasteland where only dune buggies and leather-clad miscreants have survived. It's not that we have anything against leather-clad miscreants -- I refer you, Lord, to the previously mentioned Cousin Chet -- but we prefer them to be in the minority, and also those dune buggies so rarely have seat belts -- that's just not safe.

Most specifically, thank you, Lord, for not sending a large meteor or comet tumbling straight at the planet, forcing the government to turn to oil-rig operators to save us all. That oil rig in the Gulf this year didn't exactly inspire confidence, if you know what I mean, Lord. And while we know that humanity would likely survive such a massive impact thanks to those underground cities the government has built, we are not at all confident that any of us at this table would get a pass into those cities, and we don't have either dune buggies or wardrobes made mostly of animal hide. So thank you, Lord, for not making us worry about that this year.

Finally, Lord, thank you for once again keeping the scientists from bioengineering dinosaurs back to life. While the idea of a pterodactyl with stuffing and all the trimmings seems like a good one at first blush, getting past the raptors in the supermarket parking lot would probably be a challenge, and we would end up having to stake one of our own to the shopping-cart return so the rest of us could get past, and I'm not sure that we could persuade Cousin Chet to do that more than once.

For these and so many other things, Lord, we offer our humble gratitude to you this Thanksgiving. However, I think I speak for everyone when I say we would still like speeder bikes, so if you could get someone to invent those by Christmas we would all be obliged.


That is all. Let the tryptophane overdosing begin!

Dienstag, November 23, 2010

People feel misled and betrayed...

This is going to be a ongoing and developing meme as the general unraveling of the economic-political system of the last 45 years continues. It's not so much that the entire system will unravel - capitalism is simply too efficient for that - but rather it is the political system that has latched on to the economic system as a parasite, living off of it and now slowly strangling it. Those who can grab the meme and ride it will thrive: those who in the name of progressivism fight to keep the system will fail.

The title of the post comes from this. Key phrase, the only one that really matters:

The past week has been a traumatic one for the Irish electorate. People feel misled and betrayed.

This covers it all.

It is the reason for the dismal Democratic showing in the US as well: the people feel misled and betrayed.

We are seeing the culmination of literally decades of mistakes and errors, of sheer blind bloody-mindedness, all made in the name of "doing good."

Margaret Thatcher put it well when, in a TV interview for Thames TV This Week on Feb. 5, 1976, she said, "...and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They [socialists] always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them."

We have reached that point. The Welfare State is driving everyone into poverty. We have reached the point where there is no money left.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and "Real Existing Socialism" wasn't enough to kill this fundamental point: the basic tenets of socialism - that the great, unwashed masses need to be led to a glorious future where they will get what they deserve - have, implemented incompetently and led by the New Class of classless socialists (see Milovan Đilas and this for more), now led to the collapse of finances world-wide.

The slow, subtle and incremental destruction of wealth via redistribution of income via social spending plans must be manifestly visible by now. Decades of debt accumulation for welfare systems designed by do-gooders meddling with societies en masse are now crushing and increasingly reaching the point of no return.

The people feel misled and betrayed: they were misled by the promises of socialists promising them that they could have a future without work, that they could enjoy the fruits of success without having to work for them; they were betrayed because this is not possible. Repeat: Not Possible.

I've mentioned Kipling here time and time again: The Gods of the Copybook Headings. The poem tells you all of the reasons never, ever to believe someone who calls himself a progressive (which today is the cover-name for socialist, given the utter bankruptcy of socialism). Here are the last two stanzas:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins: that is exactly what progressives have been championing for the last 45 years. The Gods of the Copybook Headings are nothing more than moral and economic truths of the most basic kind, the ones that stand firmly in the way of utopias of all kinds and fashions, the nemesis of the woolly-thinking, do-gooders of all times, and the shoals upon which all such pipe-dreams shatter and drown.

That is why the people are feeling misled and betrayed. As Abraham Lincoln once said: You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Old Abe had something there. The progressives have educated three generations to believe that they could bring prosperity to all by spending other people's money; the progressives have squandered the wealth of three generations to make it so; the progressives have given the next three generations a burden to bear that will grind them down as none of them has ever deserved; the progressives have betrayed the future and misled the people like almost none before (Communist governments did it better and collapsed just as thoroughly).

Progressives have bankrupted the West. It is time to throw off the shackles of progressive lunacy and turn out the betrayers, sending them into exile and despair for their sins.

The workers (blue and white collar both), the productive elements of society, are now oppressed by the New Class of Djilas, parasites living off their toil.

To paraphrase Marx: Workers Of The World, Unite: You Have Nothing Left To Lose. Government debt has taken everything else.

Dienstag, November 16, 2010

The Fox Has Opened Up A KFC Franchise...

That has got to be one of the best lines in recent memory, from here. Scroll down a tad to find:

The city's Health Services Board, which decides what medical plans San Francisco uses and how they're implemented, has seven members — a majority of whom are elected by city employees to represent city employees. Every step of the retirement process is controlled by people who have a vested interest in it — literally. Not only is the fox guarding the henhouse, the fox has opened up a KFC franchise.

The man is right: the purpose of San Francisco, at this point, is not to run the city of San Francisco, but rather to ensure that the workers of San Francisco have some awfully nice pensions that the taxpayer has agreed to pay for.


You say that you didn't agree?

Sucker: your elected officials bowed before the public employee unions and you, the taxpayers of that lovely city, where you'll find people with flowers in their hair, are being sent the bills.

Ye gods.

Before you say that the politicians should have stopped this, understand that politicians and public unions are joined at the hip in San Francisco, Siamese twins that cannot survive or function without each other.

As it is, both have conspired to ensure that when push comes to shove, the taxpayer will be going to jail.

Ye gods.

And liberals wonder why they are unpopular? Why they lose elections?

We'll know that the lesson has percolated down to where it will really start to make a change when San Francisco gets its pension schemes in order and has jailed those responsible for fraud and conspiracy, The income from RICO should be enough to cover the court costs to tear that system down, but only public outrage - aka Tea Party - can ensure that it never happens again.

For the children's sake, you know. You can do this so that San Franciscans can still be known at people with flowers in their hair...

Freitag, November 12, 2010

Environmentalism as Secular Religion...

This was interesting to read.

First and foremost, it's a bit of a hatchet job on someone that the author readily admits he can't understand, done in the name of discounting Dyson Freeman's arguments about anthropogenic global warming.

But the quote that really popped out was this:

Environmentalism does indeed make a very satisfactory kind of religion. It is the faith in which I myself was brought up. In my family, we had no other. My father, David Brower, the first executive director of the Sierra Club and the founder of Friends of the Earth, could confer no higher praise than "He has the religion." By this, my father meant that the person in question understood, felt the cause and the imperative of environmentalism in his or her bones. The tenets go something like this: this living planet is the greatest of miracles. We Homo sapiens, for all the exceptionalism of our species, are part of a terrestrial web of life and are utterly dependent upon it. Nature runs the biosphere much better than we do, as we demonstrate with our ham-handedness each time we try. The arc of human history is unsustainable. We cannot go on destroying natural systems and expect to survive.

Hence: when looking at what environmentalists write, say and propagate, this is what lies at the core of their thought. It is a religion.

The author continues:

Freeman Dyson does not have the religion. He has another religion.

"The main point is religious rather than scientific," he writes, yet never acknowledges that this proposition cuts both ways, never seems to recognize the extent to which his own arguments proceed from faith. Environmentalism worships the wisdom of Nature. Dysonism worships the indomitable ingenuity of Man. Dyson often suggests that science is on his side, but lately little of his popular exposition on planetary matters has anything to do with science. His futurism is solidly in the tradition of Jules Verne, as it has been since he was 8 and wrote "Sir Phillip Roberts's Erolunar Collision." On the question of global warming, the world's climatologists and scientific institutions are almost unanimously arrayed against him. On his predictions for the future of ecosystems, ecologists beg to differ. Dysonian proclamations like "Now, after three billion years, the Darwinian interlude is over" are not science.

Bingo: at the core of the AGW controversies is a religious dispute.

And finally:

Dyson, clearly a busy man, was extraordinarily generous with his time with me at an early stage of my career. His allowing me to be present at an intimate family affair—his reunion with George—provided the climax and denouement for my best and most successful book. In the field, Dyson was an amusing and never-boring companion. Never have I had a relationship of such asymmetrical understanding. Dyson always got the drift of my ideas and sentences before I was three or four words into them, but the converse was not true. When the physicist spoke of his own pet subjects—quantum electrodynamics, say, or certain characteristics of the event horizon in the vicinity of black holes—I had no idea what he was talking about. Dyson is a discoverer of, and fluent in, the mathematics by which the fundamental laws of the universe operate, and in that language I am illiterate.

This is something that constantly and consistently strikes me of being at the core of the problem: that there is no communication, largely because there is a fundamental lack of understanding because one side is functionally illiterate.

An example: when economists talk of consumption, we don't mean that the goods involved are destroyed. For the Club of Rome and others, they assumed that when copper was used for any particular purpose, it was effectively destroyed, never to be used again, which led to their fairly absurd dire forecasts. I've had enough discussions with secular religionists, aka ecologists, who whilst claiming to understand the complexities of the ecosystems to the point where they felt able to forecast dire results, were economic illiterates who, at the same time, were proscribing economic solutions.

Which makes about much sense as me, your humble economist, trying to tell farmers how to farm best. I can't: I can tell them how to perhaps be more productive, but I can't tell them how to farm. I don't know the faintest about farming except what I have read, and that tells me that I really don't know the reality of farming.

Mittwoch, November 03, 2010

Democratic Debacle...

Now that some of the dust has cleared and it's clear that the Democrats lost yesterday, let's take a look at the extent of the damage.

They lost the House with a shift of 60 seats: that's the largest shift since 1948.

But read this as well: the Democrats lost massively in State races.

North Carolina and Alabama have apparently forgiven the Party of Lincoln and their State Legislatures are now Republican for the first time since the Reconstruction (1870 and 1876, respectively).

Also turning Republican: Wisconsin (!) and New Hampshire legislatures.

State Houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Montana, and Colorado: now Republican.

Both the Maine and Minnesota Senates: now Republican.

Democrats in Texas and Tennessee saw their virtual tie eliminated, with Texas so solidly Republican that they have the absolute majority and can now pass state constitutional amendments of the the legislative process without Democrat support.

Awesome. Use that power wisely...

Oh, and a small prediction: many companies still in California will find that while the weather isn't quite so perfect in Texas, being able to stay in business is a worthwhile reason to move. California will apparently have to fall flat on its face before reforms can take hold there that will actually do anything to address the problems facing that state.

In one way, the radical environmentalists are right: people invariably destroy nature. The best example for that is now California, where that state, blessed with natural resources, a fantastic climate and scenery, will have to have an epic fail before the current, toxic generation of Democrats can be purged from the system. Governor Moonbeam will lead the way, I am sure, with the rest of the Californian Democrats following him like rats following the Piper from Hameln.

Disappointment Amongst Victory...

A gain of 65 seats in the House of Representatives ain't chopped liver: kudos to the American people for making some smart decisions.

But there is some disappointment for this ex-pat:

First and foremost, Barney Frank survived. If anyone (besides Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi) deserved to lose his re-election bid, it was Rep. Frank, who more or less single-handedly prevented anyone from taking a serious look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when there was enough time to do something about them. For that alone her deserved to lose.

Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi are in the same category: for their sins, they should have lost.

One particular bright sign of sanity: Alan Grayson, Rep from Florida, was soundly trounced. The worst thug and bully ever to grace Washington DC (at least in recent memory) has been sent packing.

Generally, though: nice job. It's time for the Democrats to say "Well, that didn't go well" for a richly deserved change.

Now, for 2012...gonna be interesting.