Things That Grabbed My Attention Yesterday

We’re going to pull back from the daily nonsense today, the Brits are voting and there’s not much new in the Washington nonsense. Let’s take a look at some background on various things. Some days there is just so much good material out there that I can’t decide. It’s a pleasant problem.

Ben Domenech at The Federalist disagrees with Time Magazine’s choice of Greta Thunberg as person of the year, as do I. He says in relation to her…

[…] a teenager who skipped school to travel around the world telling people that they are horrible and the planet is doomed. It’s a living. Perhaps her Malthusian visions will be fulfilled by future experience. But it’s not very likely.

Heh! I wish I’d written that! His choice I also agree with…

In defiance of the most powerful authoritarian regime in the modern world, the protester in Hong Kong has stood against the authority of Red China with courage and dedication. […]

There is no bigger fight. And so, the Hong Kong protester is the Person of the Year.

He’s right. That is the person/people that free people should be honoring.


There’s a remarkable (and remarkably long) essay by George Callaghan at The Duran on the problems (and possible solutions) in British education. Some are specific to Britain and/or England, but many apply to America, as well. My curation software says 45 minutes, it’s well worth it.

I don’t see anything short enough to give you a taste, so if it is an interest of yours, go read it. I agree with all of it that I think applies to the US, I simply don’t know enough about British education to have a valid opinion.


Unintended Consequences has made Britain a frustrating laughingstock for the last three years. Why? Abram N. Shulsky at Law and Liberty has figured out some of the reasons why the British government has gotten so pear-shaped. It’s a danger we face as well, as so many (especially on the left) want to tinker with our constitution.

The recent chaos resulted from two innovations that weren’t entirely consistent with the underlying principles of the British regime: the Fixed-term Parliament Act of 2011 (FTPA) and the Brexit referendum of 2015.  Both were introduced to solve short-term political problems.

It’s an excellent explanation of how the (primarily) Conservative Party has failed to conserve the things that made the Westminster System work.


Walter E. Williams at The Daily Signal tells us that Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, has an essay in the American Institute for Economic Research that clarifies how Capitalism is a morally superior system.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.

Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

They are both spot on.


Dylan Pahman at Law and Liberty has an essay on why economic nationalism fails.

However, at present economic liberty has fallen out of favor with some who see a sea change in recent events—from the election of President Trump in the United States to Great Britain’s “Brexit” referendum—moving away from a perceived elitist, globalist liberalism and back toward the old order of nation states, not only politically but also economically.

He does an excellent job of laying out the underpinning, and I mostly agree with him, completely in theory in fact. This is the Libertarian/Conservative rationale for free trade, and mostly it is true.

But


Curtis Ellis at American Greatness lays out why Globalism and Progressivism make such a toxic stew.

The reformers of the Progressive era championed safety standards for food, drugs, and labor.

The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 gave birth to the Food and Drug Administration. The chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture had mobilized a coalition of women’s clubs, physicians, and pharmacists to lobby for uniform national standards for patent medicines.

It worked, mostly, although it was and is very expensive. Now add Globalism

Communist China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of “active pharmaceutical ingredients,” the base components drug companies use to manufacture most of the medications found on store shelves across America. Today, 80 percent of prescription drugs consumed in the United States originate in India and China.

Drug companies are not required to disclose the country of origin of the active ingredients in their products. That means consumers are unknowingly exposed to the risks associated with drugs made in China.

What are those risks? Well, in 2008, 100 Americans died after taking the anticoagulant heparin that was made in China. Some of the heparin was fraudulently replaced with chondroitin, a dietary supplement for joint aches.

Now what? The free traders say the Chicoms are the low-cost producer and it makes economic sense for our drug hoses to buy their product. The families of a hundred dead Americans are likely to disagree. And if we are going to use uninspected raw material, what exactly is the point of the FDA?

That’s the kind of real-world problem that always screws up those lovely theoretical solutions. The answer? We don’t really have one yet.

That should be enough to keep you out of trouble for a while! 🙂

Cheap Stuff Makes You (and America) Cheap

This needs to be said, nay it needs to be shouted from the housetops. From Curtis Ellis, writing in American Greatness.

It’s well past time to ask whether procuring cheap imported consumer goods should be the goal of our foreign trade policy and if it’s the best way to raise Americans’ standard of living.

These questions have been the subject of debate throughout our nation’s history. America’s Founders answered with a resounding “No.”

The tea sold by the British East India Company underpriced the leaf colonial merchants were offering. King George’s prime minister Lord North believed that would convince Americans to buy it. “For,” as North said, “men will always go to the cheapest markets.” The Sons of Liberty tossed it in Boston Harbor instead.

The new nation’s first significant piece of legislation, the Tariff Act of 1789, among other things, sought to prevent lower-cost foreign goods from being dumped in America and smothering our own infant industries.

To those who said America should continue buying its manufactured goods from Great Britain, then the world’s low-cost producer, Thomas Jefferson advised “purchasing nothing foreign where an equivalent of domestic fabric[ation] can be obtained, without regard to difference of price.” (Emphasis added.)

Abraham Lincoln’s economic philosophy gave production primacy over consumption as the way to raise the American standard of living.

The goal is “to produce dear labour, that is, high-priced and valuable labour,” wrote Henry Carey, Lincoln’s economic adviser. High-priced laborers would produce more and be able to spend more. Consumption would rise in tandem with production and earning.

“Every man is a consumer to the whole extent of his production. To that point he will go, and beyond it he cannot go,” Carey wrote.

That is: by earning (producing) more is one able to consume (buy) more.

But the American attitude toward “cheap” was perhaps best summed up by William McKinley in a campaign speech he delivered in 1889:

They say “everything would be so cheap” if we only had free trade. Well, everything would be cheap and everybody would be cheap. I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country; and that is not the kind of Government our fathers founded . . . We want labor to be well paid, we want the products of the farm . . . we want everything we make and produce to pay a fair compensation to the producer. That is what makes good times.

Fair compensation to the producer is what makes good times.

Indeed it is so, just as it has always been.

I can remember a day, probably about 40 years ago, when I suddenly needed a new dress shirt, likely I dumped a cup of coffee or something on it. So I did what we all do. I drove over to K Mart (then the most common low-cost retailer) and bought myself a new white broadcloth shirt, yes it had way too much polyester in it, but it got me through the day. The most expensive shirt I ever bought, even though I probably paid less than ten dollars for it. Why? Because I never wore it again.

And also a bad deal for K Mart, it was the last time I was in one of their stores.

In whatever developing country it was made, quality didn’t count for much, and this shirt had a collar point that I could not make lay down properly, even after I removed the stay and put in a removable one. And so the shirt was useless, it wasn’t even a useful rag like a cotton shirt would have been, it was just trash to be disposed of.

These days I rarely wear dress shirts, other than for casual shirts, but mine have labels like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and some others. They fit, they’re made properly, and they’re made with quality materials. If I need a cheap one, I buy it on eBay, although I do prefer to buy new ones.

And that is true all through society, I’ve long since found that an American (British, even Japanese) product from twenty years ago is a much better value than the cheap junk from China than Wal Mart sells. Yes, I miss Sam Walton, he really did try to find low-cost American products, but the kids are more interested in lining their pockets, than in providing a reasonable product at a reasonable price.

The only catch is that you have to know a little bit more about what you are doing, and some products simply aren’t made here anymore, like TVs. Well that what we get for buying cheap Chinese crap, we’ve put entire American companies, and their workers, and those that could fix things, out of business. When is the Last time you saw an RCA repairman when I was a kid they were state of the art?

William McKinley had it exactly right:

I do not prize the word “cheap.” . . . It is the badge of poverty . . . when things were the cheapest, men were the poorest. . . . Cheap? Why, cheap merchandise means cheap men, and cheap men mean a cheap country;

And if you are having trouble finding stuff made in the USA, this may help.

America stands with Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Reciprocates

This was a week that may well change the world. A lot of it is down to the Hong Kongers.

You remember that election they had earlier this week for mostly meaningless jobs (which is why China lets them vote, of course). There were absolutely no protests and nobody can complain the elections were anything but fair and free. And the protestors candidates won 17 of the 18 councils.

That is pretty amazing after all e disruption we’ve seen. It really is the population protesting. Then in a remarkably bipartisan effort, the United States announced that the Secretary of State is now required to report at least once a year on whether China is living up to the treaty that returned Hong Kong from Britain. What’s on the line for China? Their trade links with the largest economy on earth and the US will hold their personnel personally responsible via sanctions. You know the same tools that killed the Soviet Union and are killing the Mullahs of Iran

In response to that, Hong Kongers had something to say.

 

Of course the Chinese (and the HK puppet government) are already whining about it. PJ Media reports:

The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs has released a statement condemning President Trump for signing a bill in support of the Hong Kong protesters. Beijing told Trump to stay out of it because Hong Kong and China are “one country,” albeit with “two systems.” It is an internal affair, China says, and therefore none of Trump’s business. […]

“We are officially telling the U.S. and the handful of opposition politicians in Hong Kong who follow America’s lead to not underestimate our determination to protect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, don’t underestimate our belief to protect the ‘one country, two systems policy’ and don’t underestimate our capabilities and strategies in protecting our country’s sovereignty, safety, growth and rights,” the ministry said in response to these bills.

“This so-called bill will only make the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Hong Kong, further understand the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the United States. It will only make the Chinese people more united and make the American plot doomed to fail,” China’s foreign ministry added.

Yeah, whatever. Sometimes one just has to do what is right, and when the police are ing live ammunition already, how much worse can it really get?

In truth, these protestors remind me of a group of farmers, who started a war with the greatest empire in the world and won through, back in April of 1775. Will the Hong Kongers win? I don’t know, but like us long ago, they know they have to hang together or they’ll assuredly hang separately. I do know this, America’s place is always on the side of freedom. Keep that beacon fire lit, there are people who still believe. In us, and in the dream.

Sadly those do not include Britain. As you may know, the President will be in London on Monday for NATO’s 70th anniversary. Sounding almost exactly like the Chinese, Boris Johnson is pleading with Trump not to talk about their upcoming election. I wonder why. Could it be that he is afraid the British people will figure out that he is selling Britain out (as they sold out Hong Kong) to the EU, which increasingly resembles das vierte Reich?

 

“Be Brave. Be Water. Be Ready.” It Applies to Americans Too.

Ben Domenech, the publisher of The Federalist has an outstanding column on the Hong Kong protests.  It is a bit long but it also burrows down into the whole thing. It’s not very prone to excerpts, so I’m just going to suggest you read it. As the Hong Kongers say: “Be Brave. Be Water. Be Ready.” And for God’s sake don’t be a coward like LeBron James.

My other favorite from yesterday is from American Greatness, where Edward Ring visualized the Future that Trump portends. Here’s the opening:

Anyone who thinks President Trump’s victory is inevitable in 2020 is not paying attention. The entire weight of America’s profiteering elites is arrayed against him.

But what if he wins anyway? What if enough voters realize they’re being conned by the Democrats? What if enough voters decide they don’t want to feel like unwanted usurpers in their own nation? What if men and women of all ethnicities realize that despite the unrelenting avalanche of lies coming from the Left, America is a welcoming and inclusive nation and that the only way a society can stay healthy is by rewarding personal initiative?

What if a critical mass of independent voters were to conclude that, despite his pugnacity, President Trump cares about all Americans, and actually holds moderate, compassionate, common-sense positions? If these things happen, and they very well might, not only will President Trump get reelected, but control of the House of Representatives will return once again to the GOP. And if these sentiments sweep across the land, then politicians of both parties will realize it is time to stop fighting and get back to serving the American people.

Go ahead and read it and then come back, and we’ll talk a bit.

Quite the vision, isn’t it? Realistic? Perhaps not, but who can say. It reads as almost Pollyanish, embroiled as we are in the divisive culture wars. But who’s to say. In 1776, it was dead certain that Britain would regain its colonies, probably more certain than that the ChiComs will suppress the Hong Kongers. But it didn’t turn out that way, did it?

We often misapply the City on a Hill speech, but part of that is that we see beyond what Bradford could see. We can see how the American idea appeals all over the world. We have seen what free markets and free men and women can do. We saw a strip of dirt along the Atlantic Ocean, making a poor living as subsistence farmers turn into the greatest and freest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen both economically and militarily,   because of that freedom. And a bit of British gold to lubricate things, because of everyplace in the world, we were and are, the most like them with a trustworthy legal system.

Right now we have the divisiveness and vituperativeness of the left, as we have had (but worse) since Wilson a hundred years ago. This is why our greatest accomplishments – so far –  were in the nineteenth century. We have been swimming upstream against those who wish to shackle, for their own benefit, the people of the United States certainly, but actually all the world. Something for us all to remember, we are the ‘Keeper of the Flame’ of Liberty, if we go down, most likely all the world will follow us into a new dark age, made more sinister by the technology that free men developed. If we stand, the world has a chance.

You all know that I talk to many in Britain, like us, they have their eyeores, but when you really talk to them, they sound like the Hong Kongers, or Americans. I firmly believe that one of two things will happen there, Britain will exit the European Union, or Britain will destroy its left and destroy the European Union. God bless ’em. I said even before the referendum, that its significance is equal to July 4th, 1776, or maybe the Reformation.

In short, do I believe it will happen as Mr. Ring writes? Probably not. But if we stay the course, and continue to lead with our power and might, not only physically, but morally as well, we will win through, and others will follow us to Churchill’s broad sunlit uplands. You would be surprised how many Britons, and I suspect others, as well, read American blogs, for truthful information, of course, but also because of our thinking, and our willingness to speak.

Once again, I am reminded of the first lines of America’s first great anthem.

Let tyrants shake their iron rod
And slav’ry clang her galling chains;
We’ll fear them not. We trust in God;

The Monday Roundup

A lot of (what I think is) good thinking showed up over the weekend. So let’s take a look at it. In American Thinker, Shoshana Bryen tells us that Trump’s foreign policy is “more money, less military’“.

One way to understand Trump administration foreign policy is to understand that it is more comfortable with the currency of currency than the currency of American soldiers abroad.  That isn’t always the best approach, since many of America’s adversaries are wedded to military interventions — including grossly illegal ones.  And how the United States reassures its allies that it is not abandoning the playing field to soldiers on the other side is of inestimable importance.

But since money appears central to administration thinking, consider China, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Trump administration.

That’s an interesting thought, and while I agree that it is not always the best approach, it’s not a terrible default idea – the soldiers are still about, but money is cheaper (for us, anyway) than blood.

The Trump administration, on the other hand, appears to have a stiffer spine, as befits the government of the United States.  It has gone straight after what China cares about most: energy, espionage, and the surveillance of its people. […]

And Huawei, the Chinese tech company, is looking to be running low on American semiconductors and other parts for its 5G network, raising questions about its ability to maintain global dominance in telecommunications — and industrial and national security spying.  Huawei can substitute its own parts in the network for American parts, but The Washington Post reports that “analysts have said a Huawei operating system would have a tough time competing globally with Google and its popular Gmail and Chrome apps[.] … Huawei chief executive Ren said the U.S. blockade was causing a large drop in Huawei’s smartphone sales outside of China.”

See what I mean, this may or may not have completely desirable results, but it’s a lot better than getting our people in the way of the Chinese Communists. It also leads into our next article, also from American Thinker by Robert Arvay, who asks is Trump leading Xi and Kim into a death trap.

A dictatorship is nothing more than an organized crime mob on steroids.  The head of state must brutally suppress (read: murder) anyone and everyone who poses even a remote threat to his power.  Dictators do not get voted out of office.  They get carried out, feet first.

Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea (the title of chairman is a euphemism), is exceedingly paranoid.  Paranoia in a dictator is not a disorder; it is a necessary survival mechanism.  Kim not only murders anyone and everyone whom he even suspects of disloyalty, but takes nonlethal measures as well.  He even takes his own toilet with him wherever he travels, in order to prevent his DNA from falling into the hands of analysts who might deduce his physical infirmities. […]

The dictator, then, must carefully balance his threats and promises.  His acolytes must fear him.  Indeed, they must be constantly terrorized by the dictator’s ruthless exercise of authority.  However, the dictator must be exceedingly careful in how much terror he can impose.  Terror keeps him alive.  Panic can kill him. […]

Finally, this is what brings us to the ingenious method by which President Trump is deftly maneuvering both Kim and Xi into their potential death traps.  Both men are surrounded by loyalists who are not only terrorized, but also richly rewarded for their continued loyalty.  Once those rewards stop, once the dictator shows weakness, once he is defeated by a stronger enemy, the loyalists might panic.

Now mind, I doubt the President has thought all this out as clearly as the author writes, but Trump has been around the block a few times with some not overly nice guys, corrupt bureaucrats, even more corrupt unions and I imagine he learned some ways to get things done since he got things done.

Finally, yesterday, in 1775, something new was seen on the sea, for it was the birthdate of the American Navy. From that first salute at Stasia, to gunsmoke off Flamborough Head on the east coast of England, to a commendation from Lord Nelson himself, to the famous single-ship actions, to the destruction of two Spanish fleets, to Midway, Leyte Gulf, the successful submarine campaign, to Inchon, to the disaster relief provided by the fleet and the hospital ships, and right down to this week, the Navy has done it all and done America proud.

None of what we talked about today, or will in the future would be possible without the evident power of the United States Navy.

He who controls the sea controls the trade of the world,

He who controls the trade of the world controls the wealth of the world.

Sir Walter Raleigh and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Happy Birthday, Navy!

About That Greenland Deal

The President has been taking considerable heat from hither and yon about wanting to buy Greenland. It’s actually a pretty good idea on several fronts. Senator Tom Cotton wrote about it last weekend in a NY Times oped, I saw it via John Hinderaker at PowerLine. Both are links worth following, Senator Cotton reasons this way.

The acquisition of Greenland would secure vital strategic interests for the United States, economically benefit both us and Greenlanders, and would be in keeping with American — and Danish — diplomatic traditions.

Strategically positioned in the Arctic Circle, Greenland has long attracted the attention of American policymakers. As far back as 1867, Secretary of State William Seward explored the acquisition of Greenland around the time that he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.

You remember Secretary Seward right? He bought Alaska from Russia, and it was called far and wide “Seward’s Folly’. Hasn’t looked much like a folly in the last 150 years or so though. Greenland is not all that different.

In 1946, the Truman administration offered $100 million to Denmark to acquire Greenland, arguing that the island was “indispensable to the safety of the United States” in confronting the growing Soviet threat, just as it had been in World War II when American forces used bases in Greenland to deter Nazi aggression. While the deal didn’t go through, we kept troops on the island throughout the Cold War. Today, the Air Force’s 21st Space Wing is stationed at Thule Air Base in western Greenland to support our ballistic-missile defenses and space missions.

In the last few years, China has also been trying to buy the island.

Beijing understands not only Greenland’s geographic importance but also its economic potential. Greenland is rich in a wide array of mineral deposits, including rare-earth minerals — resources critical to our high-tech and defense industries. China currently dominates the market in these minerals and has threatened to withhold them from us to gain leverage in trade negotiations. Greenland also possesses untold reserves of oil and natural gas.

That too is a good strategic reason, not terrifically important, maybe, as long as Denmark owns it, but… And remember, we are now looking for energy dominance. Oil and gas has something to do with that. But rare earth minerals are critical for such things as lithium-ion batteries, and China has most of that market, even if we don’t go with plug-in hybrids, almost all of our portable electronics, even military ones, use lithium-ion batteries.

This is also important:

An agreement to transfer Greenland’s sovereignty must also serve the interests of our good friends, the Danes, and the 56,000 Greenlanders as well. Their considerations ought to include the fact that despite Greenland’s long-term potential, a lack of infrastructure and financing still hamstring the island’s economy today. Greenland’s economy is less than one-tenth of Vermont’s, America’s smallest state economy. Every year, Denmark transfers $670 million in subsidies to support the island.

The Danes (and possibly the EU) might find they have other uses for that money, and Greenland is pretty close to us physically, easier to support and to help the Greenlanders where we can. Nothing really new about us and the Danes doing this either. You may recall that President Wilson purchased the Danish West Indies – which we know as the US Virgin Islands.

Tom Daly at American Thinker also reminds us that Denmark, through Greenland is a member of the Arctic Council, along with Russia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Finland, Iceland, and through Alaska, the US. He says:

While for a few years the cooperation was relatively peaceful, relations started deteriorating in the early 2000’s. Russia became focused on investing and expanding rapidly in the Arctic, even planting their own flag on the North Pole. Their military buildup has been quick and efficient and so far, greatly outpacing even the U.S.

The Arctic’s global value is increasing yearly. The Arctic ice cap seasonal melting allows faster ships to opening up new trade routes, which are shorter thanks to the spherical shape of the Earth, in 2016 it was assessed that just the portion of the Arctic that could be measured was hoarding almost 25% of the world’s known oil and natural gas reserves. Consider this: wars have been waged for a lot less.

And the Council’s efforts to forestall some of what Russia is doing in the artic are not going well. I’m not doing the Russia, Russia, Russia thing, but Russia is a great power and it is the artic where we tend to run afoul of each other. Doesn’t make much difference to the Greenlanders at present as Denmark is certainly a western power, and a member of NATO, but it could, and China certainly is not. Personally, I think Trump’s idea is a good one, at nearly any reasonable price.

Besides they’re distant cousins of mine since Denmark got the island when they lost Norway (more or less voluntarily). Be nice to have them back in the family. ??

In truth, part of this looks like the President surprised the Danes by talking about it publically, and they reacted more out of their (normal European) dislike of him as anything else. Their PM has apologized for some of her language. Well, he shouldn’t have done that, but Trump is Trump and he does things his own way. Usually, it works out well, and in time it may here as well. Time always tells. Truman didn’t get it done for a $100 million, but who knows today.

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