Friday, September 21, 2012

The Chicago teachers are doing their job really well.

Now let's see what their job is.

By Michael Price

tThe Chicago teachers currently on strike are very good at their job. This statement is likely (certain) to be contested ao I will define my terms carefully to defend it.

By "teachers" I mean those in the Chicago school system whose job title includes the word "Teacher". By "their job" I mean that which they must do to avoid being fired. Clearly what you have to do to avoid being fired is your job. So my proposition can be restated as "Those whose job title includes the word teacher in the Chicago public school system are very good at doing what they need to do to avoid being fired.".

Some might object that it's very hard to get fired in the Chicago PS system, but why is that so? It is so because of the public perceptions of teachers. The teacher's union power is largely dependent on this. If every time teachers went on strike they were condenmed and the public demanded stern action and no concessions to those who held education* hostage the union would have much less power. Certainly the power of unions political contributions allows them to achieve some goals but which goals? If the public had their heart set on making teachers accountable then politicians would oblige them. Union leaders would be told "You can have your raises, your pensions etc. but on accountablility we can't budge.". And since their job is to get a deal they'd take it.

So clearly teachers have convinced the public that givng them job security is important for society. Not only are they convinced of the value of public school teachers in general but the value of any teacher who hasn't failed months of appeals.

That is their job after all, to convince people of their value. It is not to teach, or even to mind, the children . It is to make it politically impossible to disband or even substantiallly reduce, the public school system. Currently most people in America and the Western world generally believe that without public schools their children would be labouring in sweatshops. Creul taskmasters would tease them by offering them their newspaper on their 10 minute lunchbreak, knowing the proles can't read it. Truely this is a magnificant success on the part of the teachers (helped by their own steadfast belief in it) especially considering the historical reality. So disparage them all you want, but remember, they're probably better at their job than you are at yours.

* I'm well aware that teachers can only hold schooling hostage not education. The public perception is different.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This is a response to "Thank god for taxes" by Andrew Leonard

Wow, someone on $150,000 a year does five extra minutes work and he wants to pin a medal on their chests. For that amount of cash I want a lapdance, not just a photo album. You criticise yourself for "bad parenting" for letting an album burn, but you're enabling the crippling debt that will rob your children of years of their life. What is wrong with you? Everything you claim you want, better education, lower taxes on the poor, better infrastructure services, all these are being sacrificed to overpay a politically connected group of high income earners. And you call yourself a leftist.

Let's start with your economic fallacies, first of all it's not the fault of globalisation or Walmart that you won't spend the money on a grill that won't burn your house down. That's your fault.

Secondly you dishonestly try to link the health insurance mandate to your mortgate provider requiring home insurance. The worst your mortgage provider could have done is refused you a mortgage, he couldn't have demanded money at gunpoint like the government. These are not the same things. Not that health insurance as currently practiced in the USA is anything like actual insurance in the first place.

Then we go on to your

own private stimulus package. Wow, it's only been 160 years since Bastiat explained the broken window fallacy, way to keep current. Does Salon pick it's economic commentators for ignorance? No your disaster did not create lots of benefits, it just diverted labor and capital from providing other benefits.

The most startling claim in your article is that you "got your money's worth" out of high taxes. It is startling because nothing you say shows this to be true and everything you say shows it to be irrelevant. Suppose it were true that you, and everyone else whose house caught fire, got their money's worth. What about the other 90% of the people that didn't?

But even this claim is dubious. The cost of firefighting services should be about $75/year* or $1875 for the 25 years you've been there. Are you saying that you haven't paid much more than this in excess taxes?

Of course my $75/year figure is based on the fees a city firefighting service charges for fire protection outside city borders. Private firefighting firms might well be cheaper as they don't have to pay the absurd costs of firefighters salaries and pensions. That you what someone does doesn't mean that they deserve more money. Would private firefighters take the same care with your scrapbook? Why wouldn't they if it meant positive publicity and word of mouth?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When women have to defend themselves against lying feminists.

So the professional misser of the point Erin KLG has defended her article “When Women Don’t Want Daughters. This seems to be at least in part in reply to girlwriteswhat completely disembowling said article. Erin claims that "the world was harder for women. ". Let's take a look at her justifications and see if they hold water or more hot air.

Number one men have almost all the positions of power. Therefore there lives are all easier. Here Erin fails to make the basic logic distinction between "All of X are Y" and "All of Y are X". The fact that I share a type of chromosome with almost all world and national leaders doesn't actually help me. It's not like I can say "Hey I'd like special treatment from you Mr. Powerful on account of how we both have dicks.". Well I could but unless he's really into dicks that's not likely to help. Having a vagina, which most powerful men are into (not all but a large majority) generally helps a lot more. Maybe that's why, as GWW pointed out, more money is spent, anything from 8 to 100 times more on female than male problems.

For the second point Kan't Learn Gentleness (I'm going to try and give her as many deserved acronyms as I can) complained "We" haven't had a female president. By this she means just the USA, presumably. But a female US president would be a massive advantage to the men's right's movement because she would not have to prove her feminist credentials and could look at men's disadvantage without being massacred in the press. I don't think it WOULD happen but it could. In any case I haven't lead a country either and I don't whine about it.

For sheer assininity (real men don't just use words they CREATE them) the third point can't be beat. Women get portrayed badly in the media. She gives a number of examples of the horrible, horrible ways they get portrayed. Of these some didn't mention women at all, some didn't imply any judgements on women and NONE showed unambiguous violence against women. There was one ad that showed a woman in a sexual situation with several men, but whether it was consensual or not wasn't clear. Another showed a woman dead, but it she didn't appear to have died by violence.

Being the distractable guy I am I then clicked some links from these pages and got to one allegedly showing the 10 funniest TV ads. One of these showed a man who looked like a Pinata with a broken arm and bandage on his head, the joke being that he had been beaten with a stick to get skittles. Not on the violence against men specifically mentioned, and the results clearly visible but it was played for laughs. So possible violence against women, (admittedly sexual which is touchier) ad gets banned. Definite violence against a men, ad gets laughed at. Note that I didn't look for an ad like this. I didn't need to. A few minutes clicking links about advertising and I get to one. Count the number of ads where the woman is stupid, insensitive, insane or evil, then count the number of ads the man is, it's not a contest.

Nor is the actual entertainment any better in this regard. Aside from the occasional show like "Modern Family" or "Married with Children" (both with the brilliant Ed O'Neill) which treat the male and female characters about equally, most TV shows show men to be incompetent, inconsiderate, insensitive fools. Sometimes like in Tim Allen's "Home Improvement" that's most of the joke of the series.

Her fourth point is that 85-90% of the people in the USA with eating disorders are women. My fourth point is that 80% of the people who suicide are men. Her point is "Not unrelated" to media portrayals, at a guess I'd say mine is too. But if you had to choose, gun to your head so to speak, would you rather be the person who splattered chunder all over the floor or brains all over the wall?

Then she brings up the most horrible thing in the world. The wage gap still exists. So does the huge amount of differences between male and female labor that create it, including but not limited to, the willingness of males to work stupid hours*, to work outside often in terrible weather, to do dangerous work, to remain in a job without taking time off for a child etc. anyone who doesn't know that the work men and women do is very different is startlingly ignorant.

Erin Knowledge-Less Girl tries to claim that justifying the wages gap on the grounds of, "lifestyle choices" (which are also choices about work) is condemning women because they can give birth. This is poppycock and if she actually watched to GWW's video she's know this. I suspect she does unless she's totally ignorant of how men and women run their lives. It's not giving birth reduces a woman's value to the employer. No doubt taking time off to deal with the physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth is a factor but it's a minor one. If it were not then women would be back in the workforce 2 months after giving birth. Instead many women drop paid employment for years, even decades, after becoming a mother, and/or radically reduce their hours of paid work. They could choose not to do this and have their husband do the stay at home thing (this is not unknown, in fact Stefan Molyneux the biggest philosopher on the web did exactly that). The choice is a lifestyle choice and it's one that negatively impacts their value to their employer.

Then she's gets on to men graduating with the degrees that pay the most. Yeah I'm guessing that women's studies and social work degrees don't pay that well. How is this a case the world being harder on women? The women made the choice, presumably they had their reasons to believe that it would make them happy. Men also had their reasons to believe that the higher paying degrees would make them happy. I don't see why the fact that one choice leads to more money neccesarily implies it leads to more happiness. What Erin Knotted Logic, Gordian is saying here is that women unfortunately are too stupid to make the right, money-making course choices and so end up miserable because they lack the power money brings.

But do they lack the power money brings? Money is not powerful in the earning but the spending. As David Thomas pointed out in "Not guilty the case in defence of men" women make or influence much even most of the major spending decisions. In fact he lists 10 areas of financials services and all but 2 or 3 the woman clearly wears the pants regarding them. So how does the fact that women don't even have to earn the money they spend men it's tougher for them?

Then she talks about how 2/3s of the world's illiterates are female. This is a bit of a switcheroo because up until this point she was talking about the experience of women and men in the USA. All the facts related to the USA and similar western cultures, there was no indication that the world she considered stretched to Kabul or Karachi or indeed beyond Rio Grande. Her original article also didn't seem to address anything but the Western experience. In the 3rd world certainly it's rough beting a chick. In fact it's so rough that some feminists have said women were the primary victims of, for instance, the war in Afghanistan. Why? Because it often left them without husbands or sons. But none of this has anything to do with the original article, unless Erin is totally ignorant of why people in other cultures prefer sons. The original article was all about her own culture, nothing about others. Don't worry she'll turn back to being totally US-centric when she compares rates of violent victimisation, because she certainly won't be making the case on that with figures from down south of the border.

Now we come to a bad word "slut". Well some people use it as a bad word, others use it as a fun word, even a compliment, but she's got a point, calling people slut is not nice. Neither is calling someone "coward". The difference is that nobody ever fought a useless war to stop someone calling them a slut. If the worst you have to worry about is being called a slut you've got a pretty good life.

From slut we transition straight to honour killings and "purity balls" as though giving a girl a celebration for a choice you approve of and killing her for one you do not are the same class of phenomena. Some people think that "saving yourself for marriage" is a good idea. Plenty of those people think the males should do it too. How this makes the world tougher for females (other than that some people Erin doesn't like anyway won't like them) is beyond me. Honour killings are of course horrific, but is there a country in the world where they outnumber infanticides? Let alone killing of men for absurd reasons? Note that her case was that the world is tougher for women than men, not that it is tough for women.

She then goes on to the discrepancy between male and female criminal vicitimisation rates. Well she pretends to. She presents a graph that appears to show the discrepancy is being radically reduced. The thing is that violent crime is often underreported, particularly if the victim feels they are unlikely to get justice or may suffer retaliation. Male vicitims of domestic violence, who are just as common as female victims, are one such group. Females have been reporting domestic violence more often, males, not so much. Male victims of prison rape* are another. Assaults on females are taken much more seriously and everyone knows this (and most would be upset if it weren't so) so naturally males are less likely to believe it's worth making a complaint. One way to eliminate reporting errors is to look at homicide, which is not greatly underreported for obvious reasons. Luckily the page she sent us to is part of a site that has such information. Find a year where men weren't murdered at twice the rate women were. Go ahead, find it. Now look at that realise this is actually pretty good for men. In the Mexican border areas (where feminists worried that there was an epidemic of woman murder) the ratio is more like 10-1. If anyone knows of a country that has more females murdered than males please tell me. Well maybe India with the infanticides, which are of course almost never carried out by males.

Speaking of perpetrators she then mentions that 90% of perpetrators are male. Of course this depends on official statistics which almost certainly underreport assaults by females, particularly domestic abuse. But let's a ssume she's right. How does that show that women have it tougher? Does she assume that the life of a violent offender is a happy one? A stress-free one? Sure these guys have to take resonsibility for their actions, but somewhere there is a woman who's job it was to raise them to be healthy and happy, he is pretty clearly not.

The question isn't, why is a woman not afraid or raising a female victimiser, but why isn't she more afraid of raising a male vicitim than a female one, given that they probably outnumber them 3-2 at least? The answer is because like Erin they don't really love any male. They think it's fine to ignore their pain, denigrate and insult them openly, clearly state, to their faces that they are by nature stupid, uncultured, insensitive, cruel and violent and arrange everything in society to someone else's benefit with their money. Then the cruelest trick in the female arsenal, telling them that this is love. Telling them that the warped twisted relationship where the male can be barely tolerated in return for being useful is the wonder, joyous, mutual, respectful, kind and enlightening thing we call love. Then they wonder why we like hookers and porn.

She claims that men being called "girls" or "pussies" proves that women are considered the lesser sex. Hmm.. let's see, what would you rather have, your gender being used as an insult or spending on the health of your gender being several times lower? Having your genitals being a term of abuse or losing your children in custody battles pretty much every time? Dying on the job or being whistled at in public? Where is this woman's self-respect? What happened to her that she can advance such baloney without drinking herself into a stupor to cope with what she does for a living? I don't know and I don't care, I'm just glad I'm not her.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to turn a leftist into a fascist, just add China.

In an article in "The Guardian" Will Hutton has supported the theivery of the Argentine government, based on zenophobia, boundless faith in government and argument from personal belief. Here is my disection of this particular piece of the rotting corpse of government worship. "Suppose the British government knew that a key shareholder in Centrica, our last great British energy company and owner of British Gas, was to sell its stake to Gazprom, so making Russian state ownership inevitable. I hope that, in this scenario, the government would expand the provision of the Enterprise Act that allows Britain to block takeovers that are against the national interest to include gas and nuclear power. (The act is currently confined to defence, financial services and the media.)" The fact that you hope for something doesn't mean it's good.

"No country can be indifferent to the ownership of strategic assets and thus the use to which they might be put. Its first obligation is to the well-being of its citizens." Which you haven't shown is at all served by not being indifferent to the ownership of "strategic assets". In fact government control of such assets has crippled investment in them in more than one country.

 "The Argentinian government was faced with just this dilemma last week. YPF is its national oil and gas company, which it sold to the Spanish oil company Repsol for $15bn in 1999 as part of its privatisation drive. It has not been a great deal for either party. Argentinian oil and gas production has slumped, exploration for new reserves has been run down and this oil-rich country is now an oil importer, with Repsol accused of looting the company and betraying its obligations. Repsol's excuse is that Argentinian price controls are absurdly tough." When there is a lack of investment leading to a shortage of supply and price controls any economists worth his salt points out the obvious connection. But instead the author calls this an "excuse". If he's so certain that the price controls didn't lead to the lower production let him and likeminded people buy the company and see if they can lift production without going broke. "It has wanted to sell its holding for some time and last July finally found a potential buyer: the Chinese state oil company Sinopec. On Monday, fearing that the deal was about to be done, the Argentinian government seized the lion's share of Repsol's stake to get majority control. Better that YPF is owned by the Argentinian government than the Chinese Communist party is their reasoning. Many governments would have done the same. Ownership matters. Yet Argentina has been roundly condemned – the EU, Spain, Mexico and even Britain have all weighed in. The Economist thunders that President Cristina Fernández's antics must not go unpunished; nationalisation is a sin beyond redemption. The inference is that Repsol should have been allowed freely to dispose of its shares to whichever buyer and at the best price it could achieve. Argentina and its citizens have no right to intervene." When Repsol bought the shares the government clearly didn't set any limits on who it could sell to, if it had they wouldn't have to confiscate shares. So the government clearly did what nobody has a right to do, make a deal, get the money and then change the terms. Argentina has no right to intervene because to do so is simple fraud, and it's citizens have no right to "intervene" in property that isn't their's. "But to portray Repsol as an injured innocent whose natural rights have been unfairly suborned is to traduce economic and political reality." Actually it's entirely accurate at least as far as the author knows. If Repsol wasn't innocent then where is the proof? Where is the legal decision, hell even the legal proceeding, against it? In the absence of such the companies shareholders have the right to have the company presumed innocent, and yes that is a natural right. The idea that someone should have their property taken from them because of unproven and untested allegations is obviously unjust. "For too long, companies and the rich worldwide, egged on by American Republicans and British Tories, have shamelessly exploited the proposition that there is only one proper relationship between them and society: they do what they want on their own terms." Who says this? Nobody. In fact free market thinkiing is that people have to deal in mutually acceptable terms, and this is what the author has a problem with. He believes the government should be able to deal with people on it's own terms, regardless of rights, facts, justice, due process or any other limit on immoral behaviour. "And society must accept this because it is the sole route to "wealth generation". Capital exists above state and society." Note that the shareholders were quite willing to accept the State being above their capital (a moral and practical mistake in my opinion) and the author makes direct reference to this (price controls). The capitalists were quite willing to accept the rules, it is the government, that made the rules that objects to following them and instead makes new rules as it goes along. "Fernández's actions, however clumsy and unfair in their execution, are part of a growing worldwide reaction to the excesses that this proposition has brought. Repsol does not, and did not, have a God-given right to sell control in YPF to whomever it pleases while Argentina's interests can go hang." Quite right, it's rights come from the objective nature of reality not a mythical god. " It exists in a symbiotic relationship with the society in which it trades. The right to trade and to own are privileges that come with reciprocal obligations as the Ownership Commission, which I chaired, argued earlier this year. " Yes there are reciprocal obligations, the obligation not to violate the similar rights of others, i.e. the oblations not to steal. This obligation the author apparently finds too hard to live up to. "They cannot exist in a vacuum because companies' actions have profound effects." So what? Ghandi's right to speak had "profound effects" that doesn't mean the government had the right to control it, nor did it make it a privilege. "Moreover, companies, especially energy companies, need public agencies to help mitigate the risk of undertaking huge investments in a world where the future is unknowable." Actually it's blatantly obvious that public agencies create not mitigate risk. What do you think the GFC and the Euro debt crisis were? That alternet is pushing this fascist, corporatist codswallop that government should mitigate risks of businesses, is nothing short of astounding. Why not just take a job as a shilll for Goldman, Sachs if that's what you're going to vomit out into the public discourse? " Across the globe, business and the rich insist on denying these elementary truths. " Well aside from the fact that nothing you said appears to be an elementary truth business and the rich have in fact been pushing what you just pushed, that "public agencies" should mitigage the risk for companies. "The reaction [against supposedly free market capitalism ] is long overdue and is producing some long-needed corrections. For example, in the last fortnight alone, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, Barclays' Bob Diamond and Citibank's Vikram Pandit have all faced angry shareholders, responding to the new mood, protesting about the extravagance of their bonuses compared to their institutions' paltry performance. They are being forced to accept less." God that's a moronic conclusion. Shareholders insisting that failing executives get paid less is not a reaction against the free market, it's a reacion within the free market. It's not the 1% being forced to get less, it's the 1% paying someone (who happens to be in the 1%) less. "But the mood needs to be channelled. Argentina may have done everyone a service by forcibly reminding global business that there are unpleasant consequences for neglecting economic and social responsibilities," Well no, Argentina, or rather Fernández has shown their are unpleasant consequences for doing something that a politician doesn't want. Whether they neglected their "economic and social responsibilities" which conveniently enough, weren't defined either in the article or the law is unknown. What is known is that a politician reacted to something they didn't like by stealing. "but summary nationalisation without compensation is hardly a solid template for the future. It is a harbinger of Chinese-style arbitrary government; a move from crony capitalism to crony statism." The author clearly doesn't know what crony capitalism or statism is. " It is time to reassert that while capitalism may be a proven route to prosperity, it only works in a complex interdependence with the state and society. There have to be rules at home and abroad to make a desirable world of open borders, free trade and free business work. " If there have to be rules then why is the author cheering on those who violated the rules at the expense of those who followed them? What he really wants is for their to be the illusion of rules, lots of little laws that change whenever it takes the whim of "the people" or their "representatives". " The mood is changing. It needs to be channelled: the creation of a new and different compact with business, finance and the rich. It is what electorates across the world want to see. President Fernández, in her gauche way, has tapped into a global mood." Yes the mood is changing, people are in the mood to steal. This is understandable but naive, for the governments that steal for them will steal from them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Ben Manski doesn't understand.

Or how to distinguish a political protest from a childish tantrum.
"What some can't accept, they pretend not to understand . And the political class can't accept that the common demand of the current protest wave is for democratic revolution. We want them gone. We want power." This is Ben Manski's justification for the lack of expressed goals from the Occupy movement. It's far less revealing than I would have liked, and for that reason, far more revealing.

Let's start with the claim that the "common demand of the current protest wave is for democratic revolution. This is simply false. I haven't heard any demands for democracy as he later describes it from the Occupy movement let alone "constant" demands. Sure protestors have claimed "This is what democracy looks like" (while making absolutely no effort to vote or otherwise determine what the majority wants) but nobody has been calling for violent revolution.

Of course he might have meant nonviolent revolution, but this begs the question, what would that mean? What would constitute the "We" having power and the "them" being gone? If they mean the current government system why are they protesting Wall Street and not Washington? If they mean the financial system what exactly do they want gone? Do they want the Wall Street banks just to shut up shop because they said so? Even ignoring the absurdity of the idea that they would what's the alternative? How do they suggest business gets financed without banks? I don't believe I've heard the word "credit union" or "building society" out of the mouths of any of them. If this is a demand it's something that's far from constant and certainly not exactly universal amoung OWS. If they did want big banks replaced by cooperatives then here's an idea, START A COOPERATIVE. Or at least switch your money over to it. The Occupy movement isn't talking about this, although Manski is. The question is what is his evidence that the Occupy movement which keeps it's money in a big, bad bank is really interested in such things? Nothing.

He goes on to claim that "Democracy is a simple idea. The people rule.". These two sentences in succession mean that he does not understand the concepts democracy, "The people" or "rule". For a start which people rule? All the people? Great then he should ring up the guys in Africa and see what they think about wealth redistribution. Considering the USA has 300 million people and Africa has over a billion they should mostly be the ones deciding on this whole revolution thing. What? He meant the people in an arbitrary area should rule? Well which one? The entire nation, NY state, NY city? Maybe the borough, why not? There are so many arbitrary lines you can draw with one side meaning power over these people and the other side meaning power over others.

Let's make no mistake here, "Democracy" means having power over others. It means ruling which is to say maintaining your wishes by force over them. It means jails, fines, beating and executions. It is not freedom it is not justice, it is force pure and simple, with it's justification based on mathematics not morality. It is the limitation of such arbitrary power, that many of the founders knew was no more trustworthy in common than in royal hands, that led to the creation of a republic, not a democracy, a country of laws not men with the majority able to make some changes but no subvert the freedom of the minority (in theory at least). That a majority of people want something is no more morally convincing than that white people want it, or rich people, or lutherans or any other arbitrary group. So if this guy wants a system where a group uses force to control another group why would he be upset at cops getting rough with demostrators?

He believes "it our birthright to directly participate in power. ", note DIRECTLY participate, as in without elections. So he wants over 250 million people to vote on whether to increase or reduce fish catch numbers off the Florida coast. Of these less than 1% are either marine biologists, economists or work in fisheries. This will end well. Even assuming that electronic voting (which never gets rigged mind you) could remove the need to physically go to a polling booth the US government passes several laws each week at least, many of them longer than Atlas Shrugged but without the kinky sex. It's been estimated that most Congressmen don't read the the laws and they're paid to. This guy thinks 250 million people will read each law, understand the historical, legal, social and economic consequences, compare these consequences to what happens if the law doesn't pass, including evaluating alternative legislation and vote in a way that's isn't totally corrupt and self-serving? I haven't heard anyone be this optiministic since they disbanded the Office of Special Plans. Of course if nation-states were a lot smaller this would be easier, but I don't see too many OWS types calling for secession.

Then there is the claim that this form of government is a "birthright". Inherited from who? Who gained this right to rule over me and how did he bequeath it to all and sundry?
"The rights to housing, to an education, to health care, to child care, to a livable income, are all democratic rights." No they're not. Even granting that you have a right to beat people up if they don't give you a "liveable income", free health care, and an education these "rights" have nothing to do with democracy. Democracy is a method of choosing how force is to be used, not a theory of what force ought to be used to provide. There can be no such thing as "democratic rights" other than rights to participate in a democracy, because all other rights would be subject to a vote and therefore not a right. But feel free to pick these things off the tree where you think it grows to paraphrase Ayn Rand.

"Students of social change learn that mass movements are most likely to emerge at times when economic conditions become intolerable. " Said students might want to get a better teacher. In fact mass movements like the civil rights struggle came when conditions were improving as did pro-democracy movements in China, the American Revolution. Violent revolts might take place when conditions are intolerable but mass peaceful protests rarely. The reason is obvious, mass protests and mass movements rely on large numbers of people with spare time, spare energy and who aren't afraid they'll starve to death if they get fired.
His entire screed is simply a series of false claims about what OWS wants and whether this is likely to result in anything. Find me one OWS protestor who advocated the abolition of elections, and I'll call Manski something other than a complete liar.

Monday, January 09, 2012

An open letter to

I write because your website is informative, honest and useful and therefore one of the best places to seek explanations for the US basing more 2500 troops in Australia. Your current explanation however is somewhat lacking, for reasons that I will detail below. To help you I have complied a list of things that are NOT the reason for these troops being there.

First they are not there because Australia is a weak country desperately needing defence against enemies with the ability to invade it. Whilst Australia isn't the greatest military power in the world it's army is not only more competent man-for-man than any in the region, but more competent than the US army and "battle hardened" thanks to the Iraq and Afghanistan stupidities. It is also big enough to handle any realistically transportable invasion force in the region. This is hardly relevant however since any invaders would have to overcome the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy before the first digger even puts his boots on. I do not say that the Malaysians, Indonesians, or Singaporese cannot come, I only say they cannot come by sea. Which is where they'd have to get their supply from, given the place is a desert. So they'd have to get and keep air superiority against the best air force in the region for at least months. This would be even harder once we get our fancy new massively over-priced planes. If the F-35 isn't sufficient to defend destroy vulnerable troop transports we should ask for our money back. Even if a couple of thousand troops were necessary to forestall invasion Australia, (unlike some countries) has total government debt about 1/5 of it's GDP by IMF accounting and can thus easily afford to hire more.

The second possible reason is that they are there to counter China in it's attempts to control the South China Sea, a vital trade route. There are several reasons why this is not the case not, not the least of which is that armies don't float. You can't control a sealane with troops, unless it's the Strait of Hormuz and they have missles. Australia's over-budget, underperforming submarine fleet is far more capable of influencing events on the SCS than these troops will ever be. A far bigger problem is that why the hell would we care? By "we" I mean Australia. The main Chinese strategic interest in the South China Sea is to keep it open to trade, much of said trade being us digging up half of Western Australia and the Northern Territory then selling it to China. The only way US troops could help Australia's interests in this context is by refeuling Chinese ships when the Aussie troops take a sickie.

Another strategic interest is the control of energy resources around the Spratley Islands which are contested. However considering the estimated peak oil in the Spratley Islans about on par with Vietnam and the Natural gas fields are about rich as Thailand's. I hardly see this as worth getting into a shooting war over. If it was worth getting into a shooting war over it would be between China, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Malaysian, Taiwan, and/or Brunei. Neither America nor Australia have a dog in this fight. Even if it was worth committing US troops to such a conflict it would make far more sense to station them in Taiwan or the Phillipines. Not that you'd even need troops to win such a fight since it would be an air/sea battle. Given that neither country appears to want US troops why should the US bother to defend their claims for them?

A third non-reason is that they're required to allow the US to invade nearby countries. While 2500 troops would probably be sufficient to occupy Papuan New Guinea who the hell would want to? The forces are nowhere near sufficient to take and keep Malaysia or Indonesia, even assuming neither went to the aid of the other. They might be able to conquer Singapore but selling Singapore as a threat to world peace would be beyond the capabilities of the most deluded neocon. None of this matters in any case because any invasion from Australia would have to get at least tacit Australian approval, and a shooting war along one of our biggest trade routes is to say the least, not in our interest.

Of course it's possible that Obama wanted the troops to have somewhere nice to stay. The cournterargument is they'll be staying in Darwin.

If anyone can come up with a semi-rational reason why it's in the strategic interest of America, Australia, or indeed any country to post these troo

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Lies about Ron Paul Part 1.

The first thing Gary Weiss claims in his article ("Ron Paul's wacky but influential Fed policy") is that the Republican party is falling "deeper into the clutches of Ron Paul's radical ideology,". Yeah right, that's why there's so many Republicans who want to end the Fed, FDIC, bailouts, etc. etc. That this lie can be told in a mainstream publication with the assumption that nobody will check (good luck on that one pal, the Pauline Church don't tend to miss much).

This is immediately followed by another lie, that "Castrating" the fed is part of an "anti-popularist agenda". Since when has supporting the Fed in any manner been "popularist"? If memory serves the Fed was created by closed-door discussions (oh no, a conspiracy theory! But we'll get to the conspiracies later) on Jeckyll Island by elites intent on foisting the abomination on the populace without it's understanding. Whether it qualifies as "popularist" or not it certainly doesn't count as "falling deeper into the clutches of Ron Paul's ideology". Anyone who read an article which mentions RP's actual Fed policy would know this. The weird thing is THIS IS ONE SUCH ARTICLE. It specifically says in paragraph 7 that Ron Paul doesn't support "castrating" the Fed. Perhaps like the grazier talking to the dingo population control officer with the dart gun that makes them impotent he understands that the problem is they're EATING the sheep. So this guy can't even keep a deception up for 8 paragraphs and thinks he's going to go up against Republican politicians? Again, good luck feller.

He keeps up with this lie by claiming that "Bray’s legislation amounts to 'Ron Paul Lite.' The proposed law wouldn’t toss the Fed in the ashcan, as Paul wants, but it would go to the very heart of the Fed’s mission.". But the good doctor isn't arguing with it's mission but with it's powers, unaccountability, inherent potential for corruption, misuse, political influence, incompetence and disaster and it's unconstitutionality. Limiting it the use of it's power supposedly to reducing inflation (which is more efficiently done by simply adopting a commodity currency) is like telling a coal power plant to only send it's electricity to the West not the East, the posions it spews don't get better Not that it would even do that because "some of those regional bank presidents might want to keep the Fed focused on job creation, even if it’s ostensibly stripped of its ability to do so.". Again this guy doesn't even bother to keep the evidence of his deception out of his own article. If its ability to "keep... focused on job creation" is only "ostensibly stripped" then what's the big worry? In fact this only proves that RP is absolutely on the worth-7-cents-on-the-dollar money when he says it's grandstanding.

Then he brings the claim that the good Doctor is a "faux popularist". This is somewhat puzzling as AFAIK RP never claimed to be a popularist, nor have any of his followers claimed this as far as I know. The term "popularist" is of course one with a long and complex history, but the Popularist Party was best known for it's radical anti-strong money position.

At least Weiss acknowledges good things that have come from RP's focus on the Fed, that is to say he acknowledges that some of these things happened, not that they came from RP's actions. How did Bloomberg "break the story" of $13T in loans to the banks? Because Dr. Paul pushed for, and got, some sort of accounting from the Fed (which was far short of a legal audit).. Note that Weiss calls auditing the Fed (and he puts the "auditing" in scare quotes) "throw[ing] a bone to the right". Why the right? Since when has the Fed been a friend to the poor, the disabled, racial mionrities and all the other people the Left is supposed to care about? The Fed has historically been bosom buddies with crony capitalists, arms dealers, Coca-Cola, and everyone else the Left sees as conspiring to rob the 99%. To call examining it's activities a "bone to the right" is an open admission that the left no longer cares about the link between big government and big business, it only cares about... it only cares about... I'm sorry I though I could finish that sentence but I have no idea what the Left cares about any more. It's not like they even care about taking power from the "Right" anymore or they'd be volunteering to audit the Fed's behaviour in the Bush years and shouting the results from the rooftops.

Weiss then claims the statement "The Federal Reserve is the chief culprit behind the economic crisis" "ideologically driven rhetoric". The problem is that it's incontestable. Whatever you think of the behaviour of the banks (and Dr. Paul and I are no fans) what caused the crisis was the inflation and subsequent collapse of housing prices. Without that there might have been defaults but they would have had minor effects on the banking sector because the houses would just have been sold to pay off the loans. No Fed money spout means nobody gambling their future on housing price increases, no sudden collapse of that housing price, and no banker left high and dry by the fallout. In the history of America there has not been an asset price bubble that didn't come from government interference in the money supply. Dr. Paul isn't ignoring the pre-Fed history of booms and busts, he's quite aware of them and the role government interference in the money supply in causing them. It is Weiss who ignores the historical evidence.

Then he accuses Dr. Paul of "retailing the conspiracist humbug" of an accusation that he doesn't bother to refute. All he does is helpfully link to a post that has Bernanke calling Ron Paul's accusations "absolutely biazrre" which we are supposed to take as proof positive that they are. There is no actual refuting of Paul's accusation, not even an indication that Bernanke would know if they were true or not before slinging mud. In fact the comments section includes this link: which seems to indicate that the accusations are the opposite of "humbug". That Weiss didn't do the most basic checking and was outresearched by the comments on his own link is disgraceful. How can you hold your head up in polite society Mr. Weiss?

"Ryan was quoted as pushing the Ron Paul nostrum that what the Bureau of Engraving and Printing churns out is really 'fiat money,' since it’s not backed by gold. ". Again this is a falsehood, although I hesitate to call it a lie since it's unlikely someone would tell a lie that demonstrates they don't know what "nostrum" and "fiat money" mean. A nostrum (and I admit I had to look it up ) is "a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness " or "a usually questionable remedy or scheme". Calling something fiat moneyis not a scheme or remedy. In this case it's the simple truth, which if Weiss really had enough economic knowledge to criticise Dr. Paul's belief's about economic history he'd know. Oh and it's not fiat money because it's not backed by gold. It's fiat money because its not backed by anything but the word of Wesley Mooch.

He also claims, with his VAST knowledge of monetary policy that didn't unfortunately include the definition of "fiat money" or indeed any apparent research into who called the current economic downturn (I'll give you some hints, 12 term congressman, loved by the guys on, reads actual books before making claims about what caused 9/11, was therefore able to pwn Rudolf Guiliani), that a gold standard would cause another Great Depression. Never mind that the Fed has openly admitted that IT caused the Great Depression, never mind that there has NEVER been a boom and bust sufficient to cause such under a strict gold standard. No never mind that because he's got a link to Paul "I get pwned by Austrian economists so often they don't even take the tag off when they buy me back." Krugman. Seriously. Krugman. That's your best shot?

Well I'll give him one thing, when he claims that a GOP controlled Fed wouldn't stop the next depression, he's on the worth-less-than-an-Aussie-buck-even-though-it-was-over-40%-more-only-3-years-ago money. After all it didn't stop the current one. Congratulations Gary, you got one important thing right. Given how you started I didn't even expect that. You know, because you're an idiot.