What they don’t tell you about capitalism

 

I have been dipping into Ha-Joon Chang’s “23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism“. I recommend it. Its author, Ha-Joon Chang, lectures at Cambridge. He provides a useful corrective to a lot of economic myth-making we have absorbed of late. He seems neither Friedmanite nor Marxist, so much as an acute observer of the gap between theory and reality and an exponent of the political element in economics.

I pulled him off the shelf this morning while trying to find a place for Fawcett’s book on Liberalism. (Bookshelf space provides the necessary Darwinian selective pressure in these parts).

I opened to chapter three, and read:

The wage gaps between the rich and poor countries exist not mainly because of differences in individual productivity, but mainly because of immigration control. If there were free migration, most workers in rich countries could be, and would be, replaced by workers from poor countries. In other words, wages are largely politically determined. (p.23)

[Westerners’] high productivities are possible only because of the historically inherited collective institutions on which they stand.

First, will someone tell me why Trump is not exactly right in enforcing US immigration law at US borders in order to protect the US working class?

Second, is not his observation perfectly consistent with what Vdare, American Rennaissance, Razib Khan, and jayman argue from their respective points of view about “inherited collective institutions”?

It is amazing what agreements are possible among thinking people when one escape’s the narrow strictures of political correctness.

 

Discrimination is the basis of life

 

The need to feel oneself morally superior is the basic flaw undermining life in the liberal democracies today. As Satan (dressed as Al Pacino) says: “Vanity: my favourite sin.”

Discrimination is carried on by every cell of your body  billions of  times a second, or trillions. That is what keeps you alive. This is what keeps societies alive. I favour the restoration of (appropriate sorts of) discrimination to its proper place: the basis of morality. No right judgment can take place without the capacity to discriminate.

Camille Paglia predicts trump re-election

 

Discussions of “bubbles” of opinion ensues. We must all fear our own confirmation biases.

Why is Camille Paglia so effective, even as she is scorned by the political left? Even as she supports Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein? Why does the outrageous dyke receive so many marriage proposals from elderly white Republicans?

Because she cuts through the bullshit. Because she possesses a power of analysis that consistently proves to be correct and insightful. An American original.

Camille Paglia’s obsessions, insights, and attacks are published in Free Women, Free Men. Anyone who can take Madonna as seriously as Paglia does amuses me. Anyone who can slaughter Lena Dunham as mercilessly as she does  deserves my support. “Oscar Wilde was my very first intellectual interest”.

The Guardian gives Trump the all-clear on Russia “scandal”

Guardian

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added….

The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

Let us add up the countries that were contributing to the surveillance on Trump: US, UK, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands and France. That is ten countries.

If the intelligence agencies of ten countries can’t find the smoking gun then folks, there isn’t one. It is simple as that. No wonder WaPo, BBC and NYT have been firing blanks on this for last several months.

BBC has been particularly insistent on making a fool of itself with headlines like this:

Russia: The scandal Trump can’t shake
Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified’
Russia ‘tried to hijack US election’, says US senator
Could FBI investigation into Russia links ensnare Trump?

This is the Democrat’s version of the Birther movement, with the difference being that established media like BBC and NYT are right there playing it up, along with all the elected Democrat politicians in Washington. This isn’t a fringe movement like the Birther movement. This isn’t limited to lunatic ravings of some idiot like Whoopi Goldberg, who said “Why isn’t Fox screaming about this? They screamed about Benghazi”.

If there really was something there, then by now we would have read something like this. From the liberal Politico.

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Or perhaps something like this. From the conservative Daily Caller.

John Podesta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 national campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

Joule Unlimited Technologies — financed in part by a Russian firm —  originally awarded Podesta 100,000 shares of stock options when in 2010 he joined that board along with its Dutch-based entities: Joule Global Holdings, BV and the Stichting Joule Global Foundation.

China slooowly turns the screws on Kim Jong-un

WaPo

For the first time, the Chinese government appears to have laid down a bottom-line with North Korea and is threatening Pyongyang with a response of “unprecedented ferocity” if the government of Kim Jong Un goes ahead with a test of either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear device. North Korea will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, and some type of military show of force is expected.

In an editorial in the semi-official Global Times on Wednesday, Pyongyang was put on notice that it must rein in its nuclear ambitions, or else China’s oil shipments to North Korea could be “severely limited.” It is extraordinary for China to make this kind of threat. For more than a decade, as part of its strategy to prop up one of its only allies, China refused to allow the U.N. Security Council to even consider cutting oil shipments to North Korea. Beijing’s calculus was that the maintenance of the North Korean regime took precedence over everything. Now Beijing seems to be reconsidering its position.

Reuters

A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows.

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

What role did Trump play in this? From the WaPo article above.

Something interesting is happening in China and perhaps President Trump deserves some credit….

These events, culminating with Trump’s strike on Syria, appear to have concentrated Chinese minds. The strategy of backing North Korea no matter what is bumping up against the risk of an unpredictable man in the White House.

An article in The Atlantic, How the Syria Strike Flipped the U.S.-Russia Power Dynamic, also sheds light on this.

“We have to figure out what this country’s strategy is,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on a political talk show on TVRain, an independent Russian channel, just hours after Tillerson touched down in Moscow, and hours before meetings were set to begin. “No one understands it right now. If you do, share your appraisal with us,” she said, flustered, to us journalists interviewing her. “We don’t understand what they’re going to do in Syria, and not only there. No one understands what they’re going to do in the Middle East, which is a very complicated region. … No one understands what they’re going to do with Iran, no one understands what they’re going to do with Afghanistan. Excuse me, and I still haven’t said anything about Iraq.”

It seems nobody has any idea what Trump is going to do. That is better than Obama, who in 2012 told the outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Talk about showing your hand. Perhaps it is better than, “Let me be clear… I am not bluffing.”

Democratic party blues: people are taking the red pill

The distribution of electoral strength in the United States is such that urban areas vote strongly Democratic, and most rural and suburban areas vote Republican. The article hyperlinked here shows the extent to which the Democrats are in deep trouble, and getting more so. The fact that they led in popular vote this time around must be a consolation.

Credit: Ryne Rohla/Decision Desk HQ/Independent Journal Review

 

US Presidential Election by Precinct, 2016

 

 

 

 

US Presidential Election by Precinct, 2012

 

 

US Presidential Election by Precinct, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

From the same article:

 

Here is an amazing statistic. Of the 10 blue states that Hillary Clinton won by the largest percentage margins — California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut — every single one of them lost domestic migration (excluding immigration) over the last 10 years (2004-14). Nearly 2.75 million more Americans left California and New York than entered these states.

Also, the Democratic Party has lost seats from coast to coast on every level. According to Fox News, the last eight years have proved disastrous for the Democratic Party, handing them over 1,000 losses nationally:

The Democratic Party suffered huge losses at every level during Obama’s West Wing tenure. The grand total: a net loss of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships and the presidency.

I will leave it to others to explain why these figures mean very little, why the Democratic party’s strength is great, why these losses at the state level can be safely ignored. If I were they, I would be concerned with the long term trends.

Trump, Syria and Korea

  1. Bomb a Syrian airfield on principle to express displeasure at the use of nerve agents in warfare.
  2. Make sure you are seen eating dinner with the Chinese Premier at the time, and not breaking a sweat.
  3. Obtain approval of most people left, right and centre for doing so, across several continents.
  4. Impress your allies and enemies that you will take military action for moral causes.
  5. Explain to your Chinese guest, its head of state, that unless the Chinese solve the Korean problem of the Kim regime, you (Trump) will.
  6. Move naval assets to Korean waters.
  7. Watch with satisfaction as 150,000 Chinese troops move towards the North Korean border.
  8. Make Kim Jong Eun nervous for his regime and his life.

Is there something about this you do not understand?

Trump was not trying to depose Assad. He is enforcing a norm of warfare: blast and fire, okay; starvation of citizens maybe, nerve agents no.

But he also adds much-needed credibility to the use of force by the United States in other circumstances.

I am sure there is some expression in some language or other about being seen to eat a dog in front of the other dogs, just to remind them who is atop the food chain.

In the meantime, Bill Maher, the politico comedian, is worried by the positive press obtained by Trump.

“The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as ‘presidential’ is concerning,” he wrote. “War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative. It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike.”

 I have bad news for you Bill. Public relations is the basis of popular support for wars. In a democracy, wars must be supported by large segments of the population. Support comes from people believing in the rightness of the cause.  Consider the fate of  Lyndon Johnson as support for the war in Vietnam declined.
More importantly, Trump’s action kills two birds with one stone. Review points 1 through 8 above.

 

 

Streetlight effect and US political leaks

Given the extent of information that is being leaked these days by public employees in the US, one can safely state that a good chunk of NYT and WaPo writes itself but it is strange how nobody is caught for these flagrant violations; unless of course you are not aligned with the Democrats. Behold the Streetlight effect in the following case.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker resigned on Tuesday as he disclosed his role in the leak of confidential information about the policy options that the Fed was considering in 2012.

Lacker said during a phone conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisors in October 2012 that she brought up an “important non-public detail” about Fed policy makers’ discussions before a meeting, according to a statement emailed by law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the information, Lacker said he should have declined to comment or immediately ended the call….

The Medley report led to an internal Fed investigation, and Lacker said he failed to provide a full account about his conversation with the analyst in a questionnaire and interview with the Fed’s general counsel in December 2012.The Justice Department and FBI joined the inquiry in 2015 amid pressure from Congress for details about the leak. Lacker said that during that year, he disclosed the breach to law enforcement officials in an interview during their investigation. “In the subsequent 2015 interview with law enforcement officials, I did disclose that the analyst was in possession of confidential information during my October 2, 2012 conversation with her,” Lacker said.

Notice how the Fed, Justice Department, FBI and Congress descended on this leak?

US media (once again) caught doing Obama’s bidding

The latest on Russia -Trump “scandal” is the news that Susan Rice, a National Security Advisor in the Obama administration who is more famous as the Benghazi-fabulist, was central to unmasking the identities of individuals in the Trump transition team. Some background on how this story unfolded from The American Spectator.

How did we find out about Susan Rice’s role in Obamagate? Not from the mainstream media at first, but from a pro-Trump blogger named Mike Cernovich, who says he found out about the Rice story from a disgruntled staffer at a publication unwilling to publish it. In other words, he pulled a Matt Drudge. On Sunday night, Cernovich wrote that he had “been informed that Maggie Haberman has had this story about Susan Rice for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Barack Obama.”….

Eli Lake, the columnist for Bloomberg who reported on the Rice revelation (Cernovich says that Bloomberg also sat on the story until he broke it),…..

CBC and the Trump travel ban

Anybody recall this headline from CBC about an aggrieved party affected by the Trump travel ban?

Trump travel ban has Iranian scientists looking for new places to do research

Today WaPo shared some facts.

The biggest beneficiary of the system, by far, is India, which produces a steady pipeline of workers trained in math, engineering and science. Seventy one percent of H-1B visa recipients came from India in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. China comes in second, accounting for nearly 10 percent of H-1B visa recipients.

Notice that these stats are from 2015, i.e. before Darth Trump manifested himself, and that Iranians are not even in the top-10.