Gays, the Left, Terrorism, and a bit on Oil

w1056We’ve been talking most of the week about gays and conservatives, in a political context. You can find those articles here, here, and here. And yes, I am always very grateful when Jessica chimes in on these matters, I’m an old fuddy-duddy sometimes and a younger (and female, not to mention British) perspective helps quite a lot.

As Jessica said the other day, we are not discussing this as a religious matter. The US, particularly, long ago decided that while most of our citizens are Christians, and a plurality quite strong ones, our government is, and was meant to be, secular, although Christian belief and principles lie at its heart.

Not the least of these is the right to worship (or not worship) as you please. That’s one reason it’s quite difficult for me, and hopefully for many of you to consider Islam as our enemy. They have just as much right to worship Allah, as we have our triune God, or for that matter, as many of our citizens do, to worship ‘the God’s of the Marketplace’.

Radical Islamists are another story, however. They have indisputably (unless you’re a leftist, I guess) made it clear that they are an enemy of our culture. If we are wise, we will recognize both that they are, and act on it. Yes, the world is a complicated place, and not prone to useful over-simplification very often.

The ad that leads this article makes a valid point. I found it both funny and profound, and I found the leftist hysteria that resulted from it even funnier. I haven’t heard even the most radical Christian say that we should be killing gays, have you? Didn’t think so. And that is the difference between Christian and radical Islamist – they do so advocate, and they do so act.

That leaves the question hanging as to why the left insists on propping up the Saudi (and other) fundamentalist Islamic regimes. Canada and the United States have it within our power to impoverish all of these states, to the point they would go back to being the irrelevant hellholes they were when the United States was founded. And make a profit doing it, just like we did with the Soviets.

In fact, the very people that first protested that ad were exactly the same people who killed the Keystone Pipeline. Leaves me wondering if they are simply against progress or against western civilization. Wonder if Jane Kleeb would like to answer that question, since it has cost our joint state of Nebraska several million dollars, just in the construction phase.

So, I can only conclude that those people consider it perfectly fine to kill gays, and support radical Islamists. After all, where I grew up, actions speak louder than words. Of course, as Jessica said the other day, leftists think of various groups as ‘brands’ (check out those WikiLeaks emails for more on this) and like some other mass marketers will say one thing to one group and quite the opposite to another. That’s why for those of us who pay attention, they long ago lost any credibility they ever had. Not the first brand to kill itself off that way, and I doubt it will be the last either.

Of course, none of this is new for the left, in either Britain or America (likely in all of Europe, but I don’t know as much about that). Radical Islam is hardly the first mass-murderer that the left has made an icon of, witness Castro’s executioner, Che Guevara, who the left has made an icon out of, as well as others. Here, find out a bit more about him, and see if you think he is an appropriate hero for anybody who values life, let alone freedom. Hat tip to The Daly Gator.

You’ll excuse me while I wash my mind of the thought of who some of my countrymen think are heroes.

Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

shutterstock_439358455Interesting story here.

This election cycle has stunned even the most seasoned political prognosticators. Voters are clearly fed up with the “Washington Way,” lashing out like never before. If voters truly want to shake up the political landscape, they should start by demanding separation between big government and big business.

Corporate favoritism is when government takes taxpayer money and gives it to big businesses in the form of handouts, a practice that is rampant in America. Almost every day of the year, you can find a story about government at some level—be it federal, state, or local—doling out hardworking taxpayers’ money to a big corporation. The aim is to convince that company to relocate to, expand, or simply stay in their area. Some have coined this “press release economics,” where politicians cut ribbons and deliver statements about the jobs they are creating with these handouts.

But the consequences of corporate favoritism are dire. Since 2005, Tennessee taxpayers have handed over $1.75 billion to big businesses via handouts. All too often, corporate favoritism lines the pockets of millionaires with the tax dollars of the middle class. But most Americans would agree a company’s success should rely on what good or service it provides, not who its executives know.

These corporate handouts also mean we have less money for true government services. Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe. It’s not the role of government to prop up large businesses with taxpayer money, yet more and more dollars are being redirected from other government services to do just that.

Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes those big businesses even take the money and run. We all remember Solyndra, a name that has become synonymous with failed corporate bailouts. In 2009 the solar company misled the federal government to obtain more than half-a-billion in federal stimulus grants, only to go belly-up two years later.

via Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

All true, and indeed it’s always been true to some extent, at least as long as there has been big business. Not that it is entirely their fault, as someone said during the Credit Mobliér scandal in the nineteenth century, we paid the bribes but we aren’t the ones that accepted them.

But just how widespread is this bad, antithetical, and anticompetitive practice? Well, James Bessen has some information on that, and a chart.

Profits are up. …is it good news for society?

…the rise in profits might represent a decline in…economic dynamism. …Firms engage in political “rent seeking”—lobbying for regulations that provide them sheltered markets—rather than competing on innovation. If so, then high profits portend diminished productivity growth. …In a new research paper, I tease apart the factors associated with the growth in corporate valuations.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

[And the chart]

w1056

via: A Very Depressing Chart on Creeping Cronyism in the American Economy

How’s that for depressing, corporate America is making nearly as much money, playing the regulatory system, as they are from using their own money. And this is nearly part of the damage. A lot of what they do in the regulatory system is to use the government to stifle competition. We’ve said many times, and if you have any sense, you know it as well, that a large elephantine corporation can’t change direction quickly enough to respond to a dynamic market. But if they can use the government (and their guns) to suppress competition, it no longer matters. But the lost profits to the suppressed companies, and whatever they might have done with the profits (which we simply can’t quantify) are completely lost to us.

And so we have a triple loser here, from the standpoint of the individual taxpayer.

  1. We have the wasted tax dollars (like Solyndra)
  2. We have unresponsive, too big to fail corporations (yes, banks as well)
  3. We lose whatever products and payroll those other competitors (who were suppressed) might have provided.

Hard to see how we taxpayers could get a worse deal, it would literally be better for us, if they burned $100 bill to heat the capitol.

GOP Environmental Platform, a Nice Dream

Good stuff, here, from the Republican Environmental Platform.

“The most powerful environmental policy is liberty, the central organizing principle of the American Republic and its people.”

The Republican platform on the environment is factual and realistic. It focuses on real environmental issues and not the trumped up one of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant. It looks to science but also political economy. “Science allows us to weigh the costs and benefits of a policy so that we can prudently deal with our resources,” the platform reads.“This is especially important when the causes and long-range effects of a phenomenon are uncertain.”

And better yet: “We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions and remove political incentives from publicly funded research.” Climate science research, it is time to go honest or go home.

Free-market environmental policy complements and supplements the Republican’s free-market energy policies, discussed yesterday. It puts people first. It reflects a Julian Simon view of the world.

And finally, private ownership, a staple of free market environmentalism. is elevated. After all, “The enduring truth is that people best protect what they own.”

The Platform follows.

Protecting Our Environment

The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. The nation’s air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago.

Efforts to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, educate the public, and avoid ecological degradation have been a success. To ensure their continued support by the American people, however, we need a dramatic change in the attitude of officials in Washington, a shift from a job-killing punitive mentality to a spirit of cooperation with producers, landowners, and the public.

An important factor is full transparency in development of the data and modeling that drive regulations. Legislation to restore the authority of States in environmental protection is essential. We encourage the use of agricultural best management practices among the States to reduce pollution.

Our Republican Party’s Commitment to Conservation

Conservation is a conservative value. As the pioneer of conservation over a century ago, the Republican Party believes in the moral obligation of the people to be good stewards of the God-given natural beauty and resources of our country and bases environmental policy on several common-sense principles.

For example, we believe people are the most valuable resource, and human health and safety are the most important measurements of success. A policy protecting these objectives, however, must balance economic development and private property rights in the short run with conservation goals over the long run. Also, public access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting should be permitted on all appropriate federal lands

via GOP Environmental Platform: Free Market Directions – Master Resource

There’s considerably more at the link, and it’s all good, I think. As always, of course, the question is whether anybody at all sees it as a sketch plan to be implemented, or whether its all flights of fancy merely written to help get elected. I’m cynical enough these days, to suspect strongly the latter. But even so, the mere fact of it being adopted by one of the major parties is good. Except hardly anyone will bother reading it.

That has much to do with the root cause of our malaise, I think. We have, in far too great a measure, become, not a Republic, let alone the Great Republic, but a society who every four years elects our form of a God-king. That has consequences, especially in a world where no man is fit to govern himself, we increasingly give one man (or woman) the power to rule 300 million, nearly unchecked.

And that is the rub. Good intentions are lovely, but we all know the road to hell is paved with them, and so it is here. Many of our problems can be traced to never thinking anything through to the ultimate results. Could it have been seen back in 1964 or so that paying (especially black) women more to raise kids without a father, than if he was present would lead to single parent homes? Of course, we could, but I don’t remember anyone saying so, at the time. It’s been the same in almost every aspect of the growth of government, look for instant gratification, never mind the medium and/or long term results. That is how we got into the mess we are in now.

Some say that is characteristic of democracy. That’s plausible, but we are supposedly a representational democratic republic. We elect people to devote full time to study the best ways to implement our goals. What we get are time servers who never think of anything beyond getting re-elected to the gravy train.

The only solution is to put government back into the box that the founders confined it to. When it again become a duty to serve, usually to one’s own detriment, will we again have a government that truly represents the people’s interest.

The reasons why the globalists are destined to lose

quiblepenglobalismThis is quite interesting. I’m not sure if I completely follow his reasoning (I think I do in the main). His supposition comes down to the old one that there is something innate in human beings to seek after liberty, which is I think, beyond rational debate. So, read carefully, it is a bit dense at places; and enjoy. I surely did.

Under the surface of almost every sociopolitical and economic event in the world there burns an ever-raging, but often unseen, war. This war, for now, is fought with fiction and with truth, with journalistic combat and with quiet individual deeds. It is defined by two sides which could not be more philosophically or spiritually separate.

On one side is a pervasive network of corporate moguls and elites, banking entities, international financial consortiums, think tanks and political puppets. They work tirelessly to reshape public psychology and society as a whole into something they sometimes call the “New World Order;” a completely and scientifically centralized planet in which they control every aspect of government, trade, life and even moral compass. I often refer to them simply as the “Globalists,” which is how they at times refer to themselves.

On the other side is a movement that has developed organically and instinctively, growing without direct top-down “leadership,” but still guided through example by various teachers and activists, driven by a concrete set of principles based in natural law. It is composed of the religious, the agnostic and even some atheists.  It is soldiered by people of all ethnic and financial backgrounds. These groups are tied together by a singular and resounding belief in the one vital thing they can all agree upon — the inherent and inborn rights of freedom. I call them the “Liberty Movement.”

There are those who think they do not have a dog in this fight, those who ignore it and those who are completely oblivious to it. However,everyone can and will be affected by it, no exceptions. This war is for the future of the human race. Its consequences will determine if the next generation will choose the conditions of their environment and maintain the ability to reach their true potential as individuals or if every aspect of their lives will be micromanaged for them by a faceless, soulless bureaucracy that probably does not have their best interests at heart.

As you can probably tell, I am not unbiased in my examination of these two sides. While some of the more “academically minded” cynics out there do attempt to marginalize the entire conflict by accusing both sides of simply trying to impose “their ideology” on the rest of humanity, I would say that such people are generally ignorant of what is at stake.

There is in fact an elemental force behind this war. I would even call it a conflagration between good and evil. For a more in-depth analysis on the evil behind globalism, read my article “Are Globalists Evil Or Just Misunderstood.”

Some people don’t adhere to such absolutes or they think good and evil are fantasies created by religion to keep society in check. I have no intention of trying to convince them otherwise. All I can say is, I have seen and experienced these absolutes first hand and, therefore, I have no choice but to remain a believer.

I would also point out that the general experience of most men and women is that the act of organized and legitimate oppression is inherently evil and such actions in the name of satisfying delusional elitist narcissism are even more evil. While these experiences are subjective, they are also universal, regardless of the culture, place or time in history. Most of us feel the same horror and the same defiance when facing rising tyranny. We can’t necessarily explain why, but we all know.

While I am firmly on the side of liberty and am willing to fight and trade my life to stop the “New World Order” the globalists are so obsessed with, I will not turn this examination of their tactics into a blind or one sided farce. I will point out where the elites are effective just as I will point out where they are ineffective. It would do more harm than good to portray the globalists as “stupid” or bumbling in their efforts. They are not stupid. They are actually astonishingly clever and should not be underestimated.

They are indeed conniving and industrious, but they are not wise. For if they were wise, they would be able to see the ultimate futility of their goal and the world would be saved decades of tragedy and loss. Their cultism has dulled their senses to reality and they have abandoned truth in the name of control. Here are some of the primary strategies that the globalists are using to gain power and work towards total centralization and why their own mindset has doomed them to failure.

Globalism vs. “populism”

via The reasons why the globalists are destined to lose – Personal Liberty®

One thing I would caution the globalists amongst us about is this. Almost everybody harboring these type of dreams, sees themselves as in control, they won’t be, in probably 99% of the cases, the will simply be given enough power to do what they are told to do, without any authority at all to think. Strikes me as a very sterile existence.

The US government was expressly designed to guard against this type of thing, and that is why ‘Job 1’ for these types is to subvert “Rule through and under the law”, always remember that, you don’t have to believe the conspiracy (I too think it is mostly ephemeral, not explicit) to see the dangerous results.

And a word of caution, not everyone who makes noises like they belong to what the author calls ‘the Liberty Movement’ does, many are simply mouthing the words for their own gain. You (and I) need to make our own choices about who really wants freedom. Many are simply contesting who is in charge. And be assured, the media is most assuredly not on the side of freedom.

Why Uber Keeps Raising Billions

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief. Uber is on its way to amassing $15 billion in real cash since starting in 2009. Its valuation on paper is $68 billion. Credit Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

This is interesting, and a chase of pace. Apparently Uber is sitting on a pile of cash and borrowing more. I don’t know enough here to even have an opinion, but it tends to fascinate me. Here, read the whole thing.™:

It feels like almost every other week there is a new headline about Uber raising more money. “Uber Closes $1.6 Billion in Financing.’’ “Uber Turns to Saudi Arabia for $3.5 Billion Cash Infusion.’’ Last week, we got this one: “Uber to Raise Up to $2 Billion in Leveraged-Loan Market.’’

If you add up all the money Uber has raised since it started in 2009 — the idea was born when its founders became annoyed that they could not get a cab in Paris — the ride-hailing app company is on its way to amassing a colossal $15 billion. That’s real cash, not some funny-money, paper-based valuation. (That figure is $68 billion.) It has done all this while still managing to remain a private company, and its chief executive,Travis Kalanick, has insisted that a public offering is not coming soon. “I’m going to make sure it happens as late as possible,” he has repeatedly said.

Consider this: When Amazon went public in 1997, it raised $54 million and was valued at $438 million.

So what exactly is Uber doing with all that money? And what does it say about Uber — and the financial markets — that the company has turned most recently to selling the equivalent of junk bonds?

Yes, Uber has to finance an all-out war to gain market share in China and India. But there is more to it than that: Uber’s money-grab is seemingly part of an unspoken strategy to mark its territory.

Every time Uber raises another $1 billion, venture capital investors and others may find it less attractive to back one of Uber’s many rivals: Didi Chuxing, Lyft, Gett, Halo, Juno. In other words, Uber’s fund-raising efforts have seemingly become part of the contest: It’s not just a rivalry over customers and drivers; it’s a war of attrition, a mad scramble to starve the competition of cash.

At the moment, Uber’s success has had the opposite effect: It has spawned a long list of rivals, big and little guys who say, “We can do it too.” But over time, as the smaller competitors run out of cash — after heavily subsidizing riders in an effort to steal business from Uber — venture capitalists should be less inclined to put up even more cash to go up against Fortress Uber.

via Why Uber Keeps Raising Billions – The New York Times

Like I said could be. But at the very end, the author makes a silly mistake. He forgets, if he ever knew, that there are no monopolies in nature (or free markets), somebody will always compete, usually better. The only way a monopoly exists is when it enforced by strong arm tactics, either of the players or the government.

Just ask the US carmakers, back in the 50s and 60s they could sell us any piece of overpriced junk they wanted to, no matter how shoddily manufactured. What happened? Volkswagen and Toyota. The Brits were at least as bad, so we’ll finish with Jeremy Clarkson on how they killed their auto industry.

We got a little luckier, we made it worthwhile for foreign makers to build plants here, and they did, in states that had never (for the most part) built cars or been unionized, and that’s why so many cars with funny names actually are American made, sometimes with American parts. And those workers have gained a reputation as the best in the world. Something that no one who ever dealt with the UAW ever said.

 

Why the Roman empire worked – and the EU empire doesn’t

Roman_Empire_Trajan_117ADI found this very interesting:

The principle of countries working harmoniously together is wholly admirable. Why, then, has the European Union become such a disaster area? The success of the Roman empire may offer a clue.

Romans won that empire almost entirely by military might. But they could not have maintained it that way: for some 500 years, a mere 300,000 legionaries patrolled this area of approximately two million square miles and about 60 million inhabitants. So what was their secret?

The key is pleasingly paradoxical: the Romans never consciouslyplanned an empire at all. Once they had started down that road, they saw the material advantages it could bring, but there was no blueprint for it. Success was a result of hard-won experience.

via Why the Roman empire worked – and the EU empire doesn’t

This, of course, is the period of history we were taught to call the Pax Romana. It’s essentially the longest period of peace that Europe has known. But while the Concert of Vienna held, and the British controlled the seas, there was the Pax Britannia, and after the exhaustion of the wars of the twentieth century, the Pax Americana.

And that has held from 1945 until today, and make no mistake, it was NATO, led by the US and the UK, that held the ring, allowing Europe to mostly waste its inheritance on spending the windfall of the Marshall Plan without having to worry about defending itself.

The EU for all its pretensions had very little to do with it, the ring was held by GI Joe and Tommy Atkins, and the US Dollar, as it is to this day. The EU was envisioned as a common market, to allow the Europeans to use resources where they could do the most good. In many ways, American influence spread as the Roman Empire did, we rarely interfered with anything in our client states and let them follow whatever chimeras they chose, as long as they didn’t get into a war about it. It’s worked pretty well, and if the bureaucrats in Brussels didn’t get too big for their britches, it still would be.

But they did, with the worst outcomes possible for their populations, because Brussels is all about the power of the elites, and while talking a good game, nothing about improvement for the citizenry, or should we say, peasants. See that’s one other thing, there are no successful democratic traditions in Europe, only in the Anglosphere. Europe goes through the motions, as long as we are watching, but when we get distracted, their old aristocratic habit comes back to the fore, with all its memory of divine right to tell everybody else what is best for them. In their zeal for the status quo, as opposed to the future, well, does anybody really think that if it was 1901 they wouldn’t regulate motor cars into oblivion for the benefit of hay farmers, and buggy whip manufacturers?

And so, as Europe stagnates and comes under unceasing pressure from other people migrating in to get the free stuff, it threatens to collapse, which explains the panicked efforts to keep the fifth largest economy in the world (the UK) more or less in it. It also explains why so many Britons are so anxious to unchain themselves from an anchor that will drag them underwater.

I think they should remember what happened when they unchained themselves from Europe last time. When Henry VIII, turned his back on Europe. What happened? The world as you and I know it. It all stems from that.

Will the EU likely collapse sooner if the UK leaves? I think so. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I’m not sure that it is, perhaps if they went back to their nation states, the Europeans, who don’t fit any of the conditions necessary for a cohesive national identity, only for an empire based on force, might figure out a better way. After all, they have an example to follow, they don’t have to invent it, as the British and Americans did. And always remember two things:

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

from Maggie Thatcher, and the folk wisdom of common sense,

Things that can’t continue, won’t.

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