Saturday, November 30, 2002
Friday, November 29, 2002
Marx and Engles wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848. It later became the viewpoint for the world communist movement. Earlier this week I promised my listeners that I would post a portion of that manifesto. Below is a list of measures that Marx and Engles wrote must be accomplished if a country is to bring about a communist "worker's paradise." Do you see anything here that reminds you of America? How about No. 10? (His remarks in parentheses)
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
(the largest landowner in the U.S. is the Imperial Federal Government)
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
(The U.S. has a heavy progressive income tax. Russia has a flat tax.)
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
(Death taxes -- strip families of inheritance rights)
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
(Forfeiture laws and heavy taxes on those who move their wealth outside of the U.S.)
5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
(The Federal Reserve)
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in he hands of the state.
(The primary means of communication in this country today is radio and television -- controlled by the FCC)
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
(Commerce and Agriculture Departments)
8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
(Do I really need to put a note here?)
Hey ... I'm not seeing communists under every bed. Let's just say this. If the Communist Manifesto were to be re-written to fit contemporary American politics, it would be called "The Progressive Manifesto."
Thursday, November 28, 2002
A superb Lileks piece today on being thankful. We are spending Thanksgiving this year with my wife's family and having a fine time after spending several glorious days at the Inn at Little Washington, an excursion I would highly recommend. While we were there, the grandparents
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
We think of Canada as a very free country, and so of course it is.
But Canada is also a country in which it is a very serious offence for a farmer to sell butter or eggs without permission or for a radio station to play the songs its listeners most want to hear. Canada is a country in which the governments decide which medical treatments will be provided, and where, and when -- and in which it is again a serious offence for a doctor to provide treatments other than those offered by the state.
It's illegal for a wheat farmer to sell his wheat to the highest bidder, for a landlord in Toronto and other major cities to charge the market price for his apartments, or (in many provinces) for anyone other than the government to sell liquor or wine, and illegal for American Airlines to fly passengers from Toronto to Vancouver.
It is illegal for a nonCanadian to open a bookstore in this country or buy ownership of a newspaper. It is almost impossible for a Canadian to watch Fox News or HBO or MTV without breaking the law. It is illegal for an 18-year-old actress to appear in a beer commercial, illegal for a cigarette company to put a picture of its product anywhere at all, illegal for a vineyard to put up a billboard with the truthful message: "Wine in moderation has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease: Enjoy a glass with dinner tonight."
"I don’t trust anyone who wants to save the world, unless they’re the people who want to save the world from the people who want to save the world."
"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
Fifth column??? Isn't that going a little far? He makes it sound like Republican journalists are traitors of some sort. I think it's obvious he has lost his mind and currently is suffering from paranoid delusions. I really like this statement from RNC spokesman Kevin Sheridan:
"We understand that Gore is frustrated, he’s the leader of a party without a message. But if he thinks that the Republican National Committee can control the American media, then perhaps he needs a break from the book tour."
And I also like the comment from Gov. Dean (D-Vermont):
"I think it will be kind of a tough job for someone who was a sitting Vice President to call himself an outsider."
Take the term discrimination. When selecting a wife, some 43 years ago, not every woman was given an equal opportunity. I discriminated against white, Chinese and Japanese women, not to mention criminal women.
You say, "Williams, that kind of discrimination is OK because it's harmless!" That's untrue. When I married, other women were harmed. The only way that I couldn't have harmed other women was to be a man that only one woman would want. Sometimes, I'm tempted by the ideals of equal opportunity and non-discrimination, but Mrs. Williams insists otherwise. Discrimination simply means the act of choice.
Speaking of Mrs. Williams, early in our marriage she used to angrily charge, "You're using me Walter!" I'd tell her that of course I was using her. After all, who in their right mind would marry a person for whom they had no use? In fact, another way of looking at the problem of people who can't find marriage partners is that they can't find somebody to use them. One never wants to be useless.
What about prejudice and stereotyping? Going to the word's Latin root, to pre-judge simply means: making decisions on the basis of incomplete information.
Here's an example: Suppose leaving your workplace you see a full-grown tiger standing outside the door. Most people would endeavor to leave the area in great dispatch. That prediction isn't all that interesting, but the question why is. Is your decision to run based on any detailed information about that particular tiger, or is it based on tiger folklore and how you've seen other tigers behaving? It's probably the latter.
"Without any doubt, what we lost was big and what we gained was small."
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Gore's latest diatribe: 1,414
Latest book on Bush: 4
And please not that Ann Coulter's book, which has been out since June, ranks 1,308 places ahead of Gore's.
Remember this from the Simpsons?:
Lisa: Mom! Dad! Look, this biography of Peter Ueberroth is only 99c. And I found the new Al Gore book. [holds it up]
Marge: "Sane Planning, Sensible Tomorrow."
Lisa: Yeah, I hope it's as exciting as his other book, "Rational Thinking, Reasonable Future".
Bart: I'm getting this book on UFOs. ["Unidentified Flying Outrage!"] Did you know they're real, but there's a huge government conspiracy to cover it up?
Lisa: Oh, that's just a paranoid fantasy. [the man runs Lisa's book over the scanner]
[a signal travels down through the scanner, over wires, to a satellite dish, up to a satellite, and down to the Pentagon]
[a man in uniform grabs a printout and dashes off to the White House]
Officer: Mr. Vice President! Someone finally bought a copy of your book, sir.
Al Gore: Well, this calls for a celebration.
[puts on a Kool 'n' the Gang record: "Celebrate good times..."]
"Anybody could have put the toxic substance there," said the defence minister, Federico Trillo.
Some stranger deciding to hide a joint temporarily in the back of a truck I can believe. But, 1,500 pounds?
"UAE stages first camel beauty contest"
And my favorite quote has got to be:
"The aim is to mark the respect and love the UAE have for the camel," member of the UAE's National Federal Council Faraj bin Hamouda told the Khaleej Times newspaper.
Does that mean young boys in the Arabian Peninsula will be putting up posters of the winner? It all kind of reminds me of that skit in Woody Allen's "Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex" where Gene Wilder dresses a sheep in black lingerie.
A few months ago I was looking through the newspaper archives from 80 years ago, and found a big Sunday feature in the June 25 1922 Minneapolis Tribune. This piece ran at the height of Minnesota anti-Jew sentiment, and must have struck some as a big sharp poke in the eye. Headline: “Tel Aviv, Garden City Blooming on Palestine’s Sand Dunes, Has 100 Per Cent Jewish Population.” Excerpts follow in lovely Courier type.
There is only one city in the world which is 100 percent Jewish.
The landlord and tenant, the shopkeeper and his customer, the policeman and mayor, the butcher, the baker, the candelstick (sic) maker are all Jewish in this “boom town” in the Near East. Travelers, returning from New York from Palestine, speak in glowing praise of Tel Aviv, the garden that was planted on a desert, which in 13 years has grown, out of the labor and sacrifice of Jewish pioneers, to be one of the most unique and civilized cities of the globe.
. . . Tel Aviv set out to be a city beautiful and it became a city beautiful in a dozen years. New settlements in the United States invariably begin as a row of single story, tar-roofed dwelling shacks, a factory and a saloon. Only years of increasing population and growth bring schools, churches and stores. The first settlers in Tel Aviv were foresighted. They laid out their 60 homes in the nucleus of a city,planted gardens around them, and built a large high school Tel Aviv attracted many students and rapidly became a center of culture and progress. It was really this educational institution which made the town. It is part of a modern school system in Palestine, with Hebrew as language of instruction. This system is being maintained by the Palestine foundation fund and most of he money comes from America.
WAR ARRESTED PROGRESS
Originally the 60 families who bought about 15 acres of barren sand dunes intended to start a small garden suburb on the seashore near Jaffa. However, the attractive dwellings and the school at Tel Aviv invited additional settlers. Travelers passing through to Jaffa admired Tel Aviv, and started a movement from the larger cities and from European cities. After five years of growth to beauty and prosperity, the war came and for three years the progress of Tel Aviv was arrested.
There was not the slightest hope for building and land purchase. Not only was immigration nonexistent, but many of the actual inhabitants were driven from their homes by the Turkish military authorities, and the town was made desolate. It was not until 1917 that the British forces occupied Jaffa and opened Tel Aviv to the outside world. Petach-Tikvah, a nearby Jewish colony, where many residents of Tel Aviv had found refuge, was captured next and the refugees were returned to their homes. The liberation of Galilee brought the remainder of the refugees back to their homes, to recommence the feverish activity. Large tracts of land were purchased, buildings erected and factories established. Two years ago immigration was reopened and thousands of newcomers passed through Tel Aviv.
As their predecessors had done 10 years before, they stopped, enchanted by the beauty of the town, and decided to settle there, buying land, to reestablish homes or factories, or to find employment as workmen or artisans.
. . the municipal budget is being used for the building of sewers, the construction of new roads and the repair of old ones. The excellent roads are kept in repair and the world of irritation and modernizing the oldest land civilization is carried on here solely by Jewish pioneers.
And now Tel Aviv is doing something which no city in the Holy Land, throughout its long history, has ever done before. It is floating municipal bonds, with interest and security equal to those of any other municipal bonds. The issue is not large, amounting to only $75,000, but it will be sufficient to furnish the town with a number of important utilities. . . the municipal budget is being used for the building of sewers, the construction of new roads and the repair of old ones. The excellent roads are kept in repair , and the work of irritation and modernizing the oldest land civilization is carried on here solely by Jewish pioneers.
(Lileks comments below)
From this, a few reminders:
* The settlers of Tel Aviv bought the land.
* There was nothing there before. They made the land bloom.
* The Turks drove them out. Any Jews bombing Ankara buses? No?
* In the 20s, some elements of progressive sentiment sided with the Jews in the Middle East. Imagine that.
* Bonds, loans, interest - never underestimate the power of usury to build a sturdy sewer system. The bin Laden letter seeks to reclaim the glory of Islam with a 14th century fantasy based on the sword, on obedience - but the writer would be advised to consult an article in a newspaper in a city not known for its love of Jews, to find a few clues for constructing a world in which people actually want to live.
Float some bonds, plant some gardens, lay off the hate. It sounds crazy, yes - but it just might work.
Monday, November 25, 2002
Bush Defends Chretien After 'Moron' Remark
(2002-11-22) -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien distanced himself today from his communications director's assertion that U.S. President George W. Bush is "a moron."
"He [Bush] is a friend of mine, he is not a moron at all," Mr. Chretien told reporters.
Mr. Bush responded, "I want to thank my good friend Jean, and I might add that I don't think he's a pathetic little socialist weasel with a girly name."
If there is one thing that the last 50 years tell us, it is that New York's periodic efforts to close its spending-induced budget gaps with hefty new taxes are disastrous both for the local economy and for the city's services and quality of life. It's a lesson Mr. Bloomberg should have learned from predecessors like John Lindsay and David Dinkins, whom he increasingly, and dismayingly, resembles. When Lindsay -- to pay for his aggressive social agenda even as the city faced a giant deficit -- instituted the city's personal income tax, pushed through a hefty city-based corporate tax, and got Albany to agree to a tax on commuters, businesses fled the city. For eight years the city lost jobs, eventually shedding 20% of its private work force. New York, home to the headquarters of 140 of the Fortune 500 before Lindsay's time, now has just 30.
This dramatically smaller city economy couldn't support the huge welfare apparatus that Lindsay had constructed, and in the mid-1970s the city all but went bankrupt. The experience produced harsh lessons in fiscal management -- lessons of which Mr. Bloomberg appears ignorant. Dismantling the kind of social spending behemoth that Lindsay had built couldn't be done quickly, so to save itself the city was forced into draconian spending cuts -- indiscriminately eliminating a fifth of its work force -- nearly overnight. It cut thousands of police officers just as crime was starting its rise upward; it eliminated teachers jobs even as the city's schools were descending into failure; it forestalled repairs on bridges, roads and mass transit that had already been neglected for years by Lindsay's emphasis on social spending over basic services.
Mr. Bloomberg frequently refers to the '70s crisis, but he doesn't understand it. To avoid a rerun, he has decided, the city must raise taxes. In coming to this conclusion, he has mixed up cause and effect. He looks at the '70s crackup and just sees the result -- the potholed streets, withered parks, and shrunken police force that came at the end of a long descent into insolvency. He doesn't see the years of tax increases and unrestrained spending that drove businesses and residents away, shrunk the tax base, and finally left the revenue-starved city no choice but to cut services steeply. Today, city tax revenues continue to grow, but more slowly than gladhanded city spending, especially on raises and benefits for municipal employees.
Mr. Bloomberg is convinced that he can be more successful governing like Mr. Dinkins than like Mr. Giuliani. What bolsters him is a misplaced confidence, which should have died long ago in Gotham, that the city is a place that businesses and workers will come to no matter what burdens it imposes. "This is still the city where you want to have your company if you want to be successful," he said recently, in the kind of statement that infuriates outsiders and defies reality. The truth, he will find, is that his refusal to lay off 20,000 from the public sector will cause 200,000 private-sector layoffs.