Where is comfort?

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There’s no doubt, my friends, that we live in unsettling times. The ending of the Cold War was hailed by some as the ‘end of history'; we wish! We can wish we did not live in such times as we now see, but as Gandalf says in ‘Lord of the Rings’, so do all who live in them; but it is not given to us to order the days of our lives. An historical perspective soon makes us grateful: that we are not in Rome when Alaric’s armies sacked it; or in Roman Britain facing the Angles and the Saxons as they marauded; neither are we in Constantinople in 1453 when it fell to the Ottomans. But we might understand more, now, how people felt as the world with they were familiar began to seem under threat.

It isn’t simply the, as yet for us, distant threat of ISIS (though we should not think it that far when we have in our midst those who might seek to harm us), it is the dislocation of the times. It is, in some ways, more comforting to think of President Obama as some kind of Manchurian Candidate than as what he is – a well-meaning man up against the hard fact that what he believes in and the real world don’t mix. Our sense that it is a ‘plague on all their houses’ when it comes to politics, derives from a feeling that none of them have answers to the problems which face us. There is, Adam Smith once wrote, ‘a lot of ruin in a nation’ – perhaps we shall see just how much it takes?

But the eternal verities stand where they always did. If you have too much regulation and too many taxes, things don’t work – and soon people don’t either. Welfare is a Christian duty, but when there are more taking out than putting in, it won’t work. When people depend on people, it generates good morale; when they depend on Government, it generates dependency. Power still tends to corrupt, and absolute power to do so absolutely. If something seems too good to be true, it isn’t. Power without responsibility is the prerogative of the harlot down the ages, and Government is best when it sticks to doing as little as possible. JFK was right – ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for it.

When politics becomes a ‘profession’ it attracts too many of the wrong sort; term limits should be there for all elected office. Ten years is enough, not least in the pressure of modern politics. All leaders go sort of mad after too long; it’s a service to them to save them from themselves. We need to be more involved too. In the end, if we care about freedom, it will thrive; if not we can have bread and circuses, till the wheat runs out and we find ourselves in the Coliseum. Naught for our comfort then? Aye, naught but this – that we are the children of the Living God and through Jesus, we are saved. If that is so, what have we to fear save fear itself?

Video Friday

Let’s start with Bill Whittle on Putin (Hint: he’s not a friend of freedom)

 

And Andrew Klavan explains income redistribution

 

Simplified a bit, he doesn’t account for the huge overhead involved but, he is correct.

Bill Whittle again on Robin Williams and 20 other very important people who died that day.

 

A few days ago, Sean Hannity interviewed PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and it’s here

 

And this, just to round out the day

Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers, to Uncertain Futures – NYTimes.com

English: Headline of the New York Times June-2...

English: Headline of the New York Times June-29-1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is quite interesting, in a ‘I told you so’ sort of way. It seems that the big media companies are finding it quite difficult to make a profit printing newspapers. from the New York Times

A year ago last week, it seemed as if print newspapers might be on the verge of a comeback, or at least on the brink of, well, survival.

Jeff Bezos, an avatar of digital innovation as the founder of Amazon, came out of nowhere and plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post. His vote of confidence in the future of print and serious news was seen by some — including me — as a sign that an era of “optimism or potential” for the industry was getting underway.
Turns out, not so much — quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers — Gannett, Tribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television — dumped those properties like yesterday’s news in a series of spinoffs.
The recent flurry of divestitures scanned as one of those movies about global warming where icebergs calve huge chunks into churning waters.
The persistent financial demands of Wall Street have trumped the informational needs of Main Street. For decades, investors wanted newspaper companies to become bigger and diversify, so they bought more newspapers and developed television divisions. Now print is too much of a drag on earnings, so media companies are dividing back up and print is

being kicked to the curb.

Media Companies Spin Off Newspapers, to Uncertain Futures – NYTimes.com.

Well, yeah, I don’t doubt much of what he says here, and American companies are far too focused on the quarterly bottom line. But they brought the problems on themselves, in large measure.

First, their product is horrendously overpriced-even the Wall Street Journal, which I grew up reading has priced itself out of what I think it to be worth, and it was always a premium product. The main problem is that the print media has become the twenty-first century version of the buggy whip–they’ve been rendered obsolete, mostly by the internet, and its various news service. Not entirely, of course, when I travel, I’ll often buy a print version of the Journal, if I don’t have wi-fi available. I’m glad it’s there but I won’t mourn when it too goes away. Progress, you know.

It also strikes me that if a paper was to provide something other than a conventional liberal slant (on the news pages) it might do better. I, and I suspect others, would spend the time to read the news, as opposed to the Democratic Party propaganda line of the day. To lend point to that, how many of us now read the online Daily Telegraph, or should I say The Torygraph, in preference to all domestic papers? Yeah, that’s what I thought. There’s that funny old term that conservative rant about, and have ever since Adam Smith wrote the book called the market.

Competition–It’s what’s for dinner

In addition, the media’s relentless pursuit of progressive education is starting to bite it on the backside, if people can’t read effectively, they’re unlikely to buy a newspaper, unless, I suppose, they need a lining for their birdcage.

And so, to use terms the NYT is familiar with, “Nothing to see here, move along”.

Creative destruction at its finest

The Theory and Practice of Freedom

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 102d birthday. He was perhaps the least dismal practitioner of the dismal science. Why? because he believed in freedom, not slavery or dependence on anything but yourself.

Watching him over the years, in his erudite and good-humored presentations has shaped much of my economic world view. And so to celebrate a great man’s birthday, let’s share some of that.

I suspect you will be surprised how germane to today it seems. Enjoy!

On the rights of workers

On Energy

On Money and Inflation

And finally, and maybe most importantly

What is America?

 

 

“America Is The Land For Big Dreams.” – Chicks on the Right

University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daisy over at Chicks on the Right posted a letter from one of her readers the other day. It says some important things about how we built this country, and how we’ll keep it going as well. Susie and her family are what I know as real Americans. Not rich, not prestigious, and above all not afraid to get their hands dirty and work their butts off to get it done. What she may or may not know, is that a lot of us came up that exact way. And you know what, if you apply yourself there are no limits to what you can achieve, all you have to do is believe in your self, and work hard, and honestly. Here’s a start.

Yesterday, I posted about a “study” at the University of Notre Dame where some dude tried to demonize the Tea Party.  Again.  This time, the sociologist and a bunch of his buddies found out that Tea Party folks are educated, so they must be raaaaaaacists because theyre educated – which blows that whole “toothless hilljack backwards redneck” thing out of the water but, hey – whatever keeps yall occupied during work hours, sociology dudes at Notre Dame.

Alrighty then.

Anywho, we got a letter yesterday afternoon in response to that post, and Ill call the sender “Susie.”

Susie wrote:

I would like to just share a little personal response to this quote, “When you’ve had little exposure to people who haven’t had the same opportunities as you, you’re more likely to adopt a view that ‘really anybody who wanted to could have succeeded if they only did what I did,’” said McVeigh. “I really think the key here is education is widely understood to be a primary determinant of where you end up in life. … But as we know, not everybody has the same access to a high-quality education.”

First of all, I just have to say that the only reason they did this study has GOT to be because they were alarmed that so many well educated people are supportive of the Tea Party, and they had to find some excuse for this that would make them look better!

I am not a member of our local tea party, but my husband and I both support the cause! We are 24 & 26. We have two beautiful children, a dog and live in a beautiful century old house in the city. According to our society, we are living an alternative lifestyle since we have chosen to be responsible contributing members of society instead of partying away our 20s.[...]

via “America Is The Land For Big Dreams.” – Chicks on the Right.

Speaking for myself, I’m damned proud to share a country with Susie and her family.

The Well-Liked Hegemon, Still

warningYou won’t be surprised to know that I think polling to be a very limited resource for leaders and managers. But it does have the advantage of giving us an idea of what others think, and so it has value, at least when it is done well. I’m a pure consumer, I don’t really know what goes into making a reliable poll but, experience suggests that Pew does a reasonable job. And they have recently released a poll on how the USA is perceived in the world. I found it pretty interesting, and bet you would too. The complete poll is here, but I’ll talk a bit about what struck me.

First, they don’t like our monitoring of private citizens, which seems reasonable, really, since the poll says Americans don’t like it either. They also don’t think we should spy on other countries leaders and there I mildly disagree with them, it’s kind of important to know what they are planning.

In general, though, we are mostly still liked. Click to embiggenPG_14.07.08_LedeNSA_640px

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-0-01The really interesting thing is that nearly everybody agrees that it is OK to spy on suspected terrorists, and that it is not OK to spy on American citizens, that’s true with Americans, and it’s true with pretty much everybody else, as well

What we do that almost no one likes (only bare majorities in the US, Israel, and Kenya) is our use of drones to attack suspected terrorists. I don’t know but I know for me, I think we are a bit too indiscriminate in target selection, and it is not very respectful of other nation’s sovereignty. In other words, I don’t much like it either, except maybe in clear-cut cases.

What I don’t understand completely is that worldwide, or at least 44 nations, 56% of the respondents think Obama is doing an OK job and is likely to do the right thing. But then, I am not exactly an unbiased observer here, and probably care much more about the Constitution than the average world citizen. I note that his rating is declining, just not as precipitously as it is here.

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-0-03More people worldwide still think we respect personal liberty than France, China, or Russia, in fact, except for France, it’s not even close, which is nice feeling.

The Middle East, is the one area in the world, where we are not very well liked, to quote the poll.

“The Middle East is the clear exception. China’s favorability in the region is not especially high, but is higher than that for the U.S. Anti-Americanism has been common in many Middle Eastern nations throughout the Obama presidency, as was the case during the George W. Bush-era. And again this year some of the lowest ratings for the U.S. are found in the region. Only 19% of Turks and 12% of Jordanians offer a favorable opinion of the U.S., and at 10% Egypt gives the U.S. its lowest rating in the survey.”

We are pretty much liked better than China though, everywhere but the Middle East, which is rather heartwarming, to a point, anyway.

PG_14.07.08_LedeU.S.ChinaMedianMap

One thing that is highlighted pretty heavily here is that China’s neighbors don’t like her very much. This map pretty much tells the story.

PG_14.07.14_SouthChinaSea_640px

Remember that Pakistan has a treaty relationship with China, but everybody else is a bit nervous.

This chart pretty much goes with that

PG_14.07.10_AlliesThreats_640px

OK, guys, if you are anywhere my age, did you ever think you would see a reputable poll saying that Vietnam considers the US its greatest ally? Tells you a lot, I think, about how Asia views China.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll just give you a couple more, and you can follow the link (above)

Who loves us, baby?

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-1-02

PG-2014-07-14-balance-of-power-3-03It looks to me (and the world, as well) that we better get our economic act together if we are going to remain the leading economic superpower. I would add to that it will be very difficult to retain our influence on world events, if we don’t. We got to where we are by strong freedom loving individual efforts, and that is the only way we will get back.

Personally, i think we need to start repairing our ties with India, which were quite close under George W. Bush but that Obama has let fray rather badly. India, which is pretty much an English-speaking, common law observing, counterweight to China, would be an ideal partner for us in Asia. Sure, it has some ethnic and religious problems, but we don’t?

 

So while it’s not exactly good news here, It could be a lot worse, and it does give us some idea of what we need to work on.

 

So let’s get back to work.

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