Monday, February 28, 2011

The Unions' Real Fight in Wisconsin

From Real Clear Politics:
Public Unions and The Socialist Utopia

Robert Tracinski points out very succinctly that the Unions' current fight is one for their own survival.

The Democratic lawmakers who have gone on the lam in Wisconsin and Indiana-and who knows where else next-are exhibiting a literal fight-or-flight response, the reaction of an animal facing a threat to its very existence.

Why? Because it is a threat to their existence. The battle of Wisconsin is about the viability of the Democratic Party, and more: it is about the viability of the basic social ideal of the left.

For those unfamiliar with Wisconsin, it's a mostly conservative state, with the notable exception of Madison, the capital. Madison is ultra-liberal. Ultra-liberal to the point that San Franciscans think Madison is liberal.

See that cheese? That's not government cheese.

Madison is an ideal vehicle for lefty idealism. Most of the rest of the state is very conservative, traditional, and responsible. This results in a state government that is supported by producers, and traditional-minded producers don't want to get involved in government, which is viewed as the province of those who don't work. Jokes about government workers are still pretty well acknowledged by traditionalists there.

In short, public employment is an idealized socialist economy in miniature, including its political aspect: the grateful recipients of government largesse provide money and organizational support to re-elect the politicians who shower them with all of these benefits.

Tracinski is dead on here. Wisconsin has a very conservative minded populace that has been propping up this leftist scam for decades just due to their own distaste from it. Respectable, hard working people don't get into politics... at least until the Tea Party came along. (Though back in the 90s, there were a few that got out for Perot.)


Now the left is panicking as these experiments in American socialism implode.

On the national level, it has become clear that the old-age welfare state of Social Security and Medicare is driving the federal government into permanent trillion-dollar deficits and a ruinous debt load. Even President Obama acknowledged, in his State of the Union address, that these programs are the real drivers of runaway debt-just before he refused to consider any changes to them. You see how hard it is for the Democrats to give up on their utopias.

On the state level, public employment promises the full socialist ideal to a small minority-paid for with tax money looted from a larger, productive private economy. But the socialist utopia of public employment has crossed the Thatcher Line: the point at which, as the Iron Lady used to warn, you run out of other people's money.

The current crisis exposes more than just the financial unsustainability of these programs. It exposes their moral unsustainability. It exposes the fact that the generosity of these welfare-state enclaves can only be sustained by forcing everyone else to perform forced labor to pay for the benefits of a privileged few.

Those hardworking traditionalists and conservatives throughout the state are the ones being told that they must pay for the Unions, and that the guy working in the cheese factory at $10/hr or making trucks for Oshkosh at $15/hr is the evil oppressor of the teachers union that makes $110K/year and only works 9 months.

Pretty much the case.

The public sector unions are the aristocracy demanding that the peasants keep feeding their insatiable appetite. Take that guy on the end and give him a sign demanding the other three pay him more and that it's so unfair, and that the other three, who actually work, really want to go back to child labor in sweatshops.

Union are and always have been a tool to pit one group of workers against another group of workers. They help no one but the union bosses and goons.

Now even the Democrats are turning against them, though unions are huge financial contributors to political campaigns, and almost exclusively to democrats.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Road To Serfdom Excerpts I

Friedrich A. Hayek wrote a rather well-known book on economics and the human condition called "The Road To Serfdom" back in the early 1940s. Hayek was an Austrian economist and one of the major contributors to the "Austrian School" of economics. The intro to the edition I'm reading is rather long and any summary of the factors that led to the book would be insufficient in comparison.

He also rather famously remarked: "Conservatism is only as good as what it conserves," being critical of American conservatism that doesn't embrace and conserve its libertarian/classic liberal ideals. Note that our motto at The Patriot Perspective has always been the same.

He also won the Nobel Prize for Economics, but won it at the same time as a scandinavian leftist, cuz... y'know... politics.

As I've been reading it, some passages are jumping out at me. Here, Hayek points out a major problem with central planning and socialism. It must control everything to create its utopia. And it invariably fails, as everything in existence must then be prioritized by government - not by individuals who govern their own affairs, and whose best interests may even change day to day. Here, he makes the point that there can be no such government because there exists no such set of prioritizing values.

Not only do we not possess such an all-inclusive scale of values: it would be impossible for any mind to comprehend the infinite variety of different needs of different people which compete for the available resources and to attach a definite weight to each. For our problem it is of minor importance whether the ends for which any person cares comprehend only his own individual needs, or whether they include the needs of his closer or even those of his more distant fellows-that is, whether he is egotistic or altruistic in the ordinary sense of these words. The point which is so important is the basic fact that it is impossible for any man to survey more than a limited field, to be aware of the urgency of more than a limited number of needs. Whether his interests center round his own physical needs, or whether he takes a warm interest in the welfare of every human being he knows, the ends about which he can be concerned will always be only an infinitesimal fraction of the needs of all men.

This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be. It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society...

- Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (pg 102)

How badass is the Austrian School of Economics? Salma is the THIRD Hayek to come up when you type "Hayek" into Google.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Egypt's Real Problem

I recently found myself rethinking my Egypt post while reading this American Thinker piece here:

The fact of the matter is this: Mubarak is a socialist dictator, and his ruling party espouses socialist ideology. The revolution in Egypt is a direct result of the failure of authoritarian socialist ideology and policy. For over fifty years, the ruling political clique in Egypt has espoused a home-grown form of Arab nationalist socialism.

Arab nationalism. And a socialist dictator. Combine ethnic nationalism with socialism and you get the predictable.

It's still unwise to support anti-Mubarak forces when the predictable replacement is going to be the proto-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, but once there's some degree of stability, well, stability really is the only reason to support Mubarak anymore.

This reminded me that I have a copy of President Saddam Hussein's Address on Iraq's National Day 1983, and President Saddam Hussein's Speech on the 6th Anniversary of the Day of the Days The Great Victory Day 8 August 1994, and his roughly 50 page treatise "One Trench or Two". All are drier reads than the country they hail from, but they are about pan-Arab nationalism and the idea of central control/rulership. Basically, arab national socialism.
Sometimes you can judge a dictator book by its cover.

Richard Little at American Thinker points out the specifics with regards to Egypt and how it applies there. Broadly, national socialism and centralized control don't work anywhere. Even with cultural differences (including the basic lack of a future tense in Arabic), education level differences, and economic developmental differences, it doesn't work. It doesn't work in Europe - where the wise nations are pulling away from their road to socialism before they implode like Greece; it doesn't work in the US, where individual states like California are imploding from their own policies. It doesn't work anywhere it's tried.

Whether the central control be with a dictator or a committee of bureaucrats, it's all coercive force that works against the will of the individual - the individual who knows their own needs better than any self-appointed super-genius, tyrant or king.

Kudos to the Egyptian people for trying to shrug it off. Hopefully they don't end up replacing it with the Muslim Brotherhood - who will do the same, but with the added dictates of sharia law.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

From the John Birch Society: Be Aware of Constitutional Conventions

From the John Birch Society:

After seeing this video I am going to agree with these gentlemen and their arguments. As a student of the Constitution and of the era in which it was written I can attest to the following:

The original "Con-Con" was called only to reform the Articles of Confederation; instead, the convention's attendees went outside of their assigned bounds and introduced a completely new form of government in the form of our current Constitution. Legally speaking the entire convention could have been arrested for treason. Also, since the Congress under the Articles had commissioned the convention for reforms, the convention had a duty to report to back to the Congress it's findings, which the Convention also failed to do; instead, the Convention took it's case directly to the people of each state effectively by passing the Confederation Congress.

If a Constitutional Convention were to be called now to address term limits, a balanced budget etc... the states could attempt to exert control over the convention and it's participants but I believe it would be exceptionally hard to legally bind a Con-Con to only address certain issues. The issue of control coupled with today's politicians makes a Constitutional Convention a very dangerous option to reform the Federal Government. If instead, reformers follow the simple procedures of amending the Constitution, control of the issues being reformed would be ensured as well as ensuring that politicians stay within the existing framework of the Constitution.

I do not believe we can trust those we have in office, or those they would select, to keep the citizens' best interest in mind. Especially in the setting of a Constitutional Convention and given all their reckless spending, and rights stealing that has occurred the last 10 years. The better course in my mind would be to attempt to address all of these issues through the already tried and proven method of amending the Constitution. So please, go to the websites of your respective state legislatures and check up on them and see if any of them are considering legislation that will call for a Constitutional Convention.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Media Elitism Part 873

I thought about commenting on this yesterday when I read the story, but there were other things more important than Christine Amanpour in Egypt.

Though from her body language and attitude, she doesn't seem to think so:

The video is here.

It's interesting to see Christine Amanpour take a very standoffish, very insulting, very condescending tone towards the Egyptians on the street she's talking to. She has one hand on her hip - indicating standoffishness or aggression. The other hand is holding the mic in a lazy, inattentive manner implying that it doesn't really matter what the person has to say.

Amanpour's attitude towards the Egyptians seems to be about the same as Susan Roesgen talking to Tea Partiers. Amanpour goes in with an attitude and leaves with an attitude, and seems extra offended that she gets attitude back the whole time. Her problem doesn't stem from Egyptian hatred of the US. It stems from Egyptian hatred of her as a representative.

Robert Young Pelton in Dangerous Places 4th Edition (back before he spent all kinds of time on TV and got into internet fights with milbloggers) made a very important point about how to deal with people who dislike you for your (assumed) Western ways and their preconceived notions thereof. Talk to and with them. Amanpour talks at them.

Ask them how they feel and why they feel that way - and actually want to know the answer. Ask them what they would do if they were president. Ask them what they would do as a citizen of the US. Don't get snotty like Amanpour. Don't walk away in a huff. Don't be an asshole like Amanpour.

She can show them that she has a camera and is part of a big media outlet that hundreds of thousands of people may see - so whatever they want to say, others may hear - and people want to know. Were she to go in with a different attitude, doubtless she would get different results.

But the hand on the hip, the lazy pointing the microphone, the turning away and the general haughty attitude she projects leads me to see the Egyptian point of view quite clearly - she only gives a crap when there's trouble about for her to report.

She's a terrible representative for the US, and clearly doesn't like talking to the people on the street. Amanpour is an elitist - she has disdain for the US anyway, so she sees no reason why people would ever dislike her. She can understand an ideological hatred for the US espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood, but since she agrees with it, she can't understand why she personally is rejected by its proponents.

Basically, she's in the position of a useful idiot or of a bourgeois socialist who doesn't understand they've outlived their usefulness. She's an elitist who agrees with the hatred being spewed by MB and the general dislike of the US throughout the Middle East, since she also hates the US. She's upset and ideologically unable to understand what's going on because of her elitist status. She feels that since she's an elitist America-hater, she's not an American or related to America, so she should be exempt.

Older stuff on her anti-US bias from DeathBy1000PaperCuts.

She even ranked #8 on BigJournalism's Most Biased Journalists list.

Update: New story today opens with the terrible journey of 8 miles, making the reporter the story to begin with, but not as bad as yesterday. Of course, she's hobnobbing with the president of Egypt, so she's back with the elites. She's uses a lot of leading questions with VP Suleiman.

Also today there have been more incidents of reporters being attacked. The question here is how many of them are making themselves into the story.

ABC reporter threatened with beheading, and numerous other attacks on reporters in the video there (including CNN's Anderson Cooper getting punched). FOX reporter hospitalized... but FOX didn't report the story as a story until they were released, at least. CNN and ABC seem to be the worst at turning cameras on themselves and making their reporters the center of the story. At least it's not as bad as Geraldo Running around in Afghanistan with an ascot and a pistol claiming he'd get in a gunfight with Osama bin Laden.

Groundhog Day in the Middle East

For those unfamiliar with the term Groundhog Day, watch this first:


British MP Daniel Hannan made a point today on the Sean Hannity show. During the Cold War, the US supported dictators who opposed communism. Hannan explained that the argument during the Cold War was "He's may be a son of a b*tch, but he's our son of a b*tch. But now the cold war is over, so we can say 'he may be our son of a b*tch, but he's a son of a b*tch."

The first thought is basically why we were supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak's dictatorship provided some degree of stability, especially for US ally Israel. Mubarak's Egypt provided security for the Suez Canal, through which some 8% of the world's shipping flows.

The old logic was that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, provided he's not worse than your actual enemy. Ultimately compromising and supporting a very bad guy against an evil evil empire supported one's good principles. Makes sense. The new logic is that since the evil empire is gone, it's time to drop support for the very bad guy. Sorta makes sense.

The only failing is that without a transitional structure, there isn't just a smooth handoff from "very bad guy" to "good new guy". The people who almost invariably takeover in these situations are those that are prepared for it and have been working towards it. Very bad guy is replaced with different evil guy. If you don't want a son of a b*tch, you replace him on your terms to make sure you get a better guy, or you apply pressure to reform him. You don't go along with a mob that is at least in part incited by the evil guys - because that mob and those evil guys are often only kept in check because your guy is a son of a b*tch.

In the past, there are several examples of the people who take over after a nation collapses. The Leninist victory in Russia was a result of a fractured nation in a period of transition. The interim government of Kerensky may have promised a republic, but it lasted just long enough for Lenin to take over - which was his goal - Lenin was a professional revolutionary. The breakdown of China during WWII led to the Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek - a US ally, though with many faults - ultimately losing control of China to Mao, who was ready and working towards seizing power. Recently, this is the entire Beckian argument with regards to George Soros and his shadow government.

But it's Groundhog Day in the very easy, and very apt, comparison of the Shah of Iran to Mubarak. The Iranian Islamic Revolution was the result of a lot of factors, but not the least of which was Jimmy Carter not doing much of anything to shore up US interests in Iran by supporting the Shah.

Probably not the best leader in Iran's history, but far from the worst.

The loss of the Shah brought us the Iranian Hostage Crisis and a nuclear Iran that seeks out the ability to obliterate its neighbors. The loss of Mubarak is most likely going to bring us the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt, as they are the most powerful opposition group, and stand the most to gain. The Muslim Brotherhood has been referred to as "Al Qaeda before Al Qaeda was cool". They've also got a bit of history, going back to some other evil guys.

From the Council on Foreign Relations:

One reason the Brotherhood’s commitment to nonviolence is unclear: The original Egyptian organization has spawned branches in 70 countries. These organizations bear the Brotherhood name, but their connections to the founding group vary and some of them may provide financial, logistical, or other support to terrorist organizations. Some terrorist groups—including Hamas, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and al-Qaeda—have historic and ideological affiliations with the Egyptian Brotherhood. In addition, some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists were once Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members, including Osama bin Laden’s top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Zawahiri went more hardcore after Sayyid Qutb was hanged by Egyptian authorities. Who was Qutb? Just the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. And what is Qutbism? Just good old-fashioned infidel-killing Jihad.

From a story on the Muslim Brotherhood in CanadaFreePress, 2006:

Here's how the story began. In the 1920s there was a young Egyptian named al Bana. And al Bana formed this nationalist group called the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Bana was a devout admirer of Adolph Hitler and wrote to him frequently. So persistent was he in his admiration of the new Nazi Party that in the 1930s, al-Bana and the Muslim Brotherhood became a secret arm of Nazi intelligence.

The Arab Nazis had much in common with the new Nazi doctrines. They hated Jews; they hated democracy; and they hated the Western culture. It became the official policy of the Third Reich to secretly develop the Muslim Brotherhood as the fifth Parliament, an army inside Egypt.

More on Al Banna here:
And from Horowitz here:
Even CNN can't spin them into a good thing, though they try:

Considering Hitler and the Muslim Brotherhood liked each other, making Mubarak into Hitler really makes no sense, other than to support Orwell's claim that "fascist" just means "anything bad".

Weak, naiive democrat president with no foreign policy experience or understanding in charge of the US. An islamist group seizing power from a US ally. The US ally is a strongarm leader that the democrat's touchy-feely side rejects, rather than figure out why we'd ever support the guy - and what the repercussions of not supporting him will be... Yup. It's GROUNDHOG DAY!

But this time when we drive off the cliff, it'll be different!