“It is never wrong to do the right thing”

This is picked up at Powerline which is from a newly published book of Commencement Addresses by Conservatives. The one that Scott Johnson has reprinted is one given in 2008 by Justice Clarence Thomas. It really is worth your time, but I have selected this passage because it has its own meaning to me:

Take a few minutes today to say thank you to anyone who helped you get here. Then try to live your lives as if you really appreciate their help and the good it has done in your lives. Earn the right to have been helped by the way you live your lives.

Next, remember that life is not easy for any of us. It will probably not be fair, and it certainly is not all about you. The gray hair and wrinkles you see on older people have been earned the hard way, by living and dealing with the challenges of life. When I was a young adult and labored under the delusion of my own omniscience, I thought I knew more than I actually did. That is a function of youth.

With the wisdom that only comes with the passage of years, the older folks warned me presciently and ominously, “Son, you just live long enough and you’ll see.” They were right; oh, so right. Life is humbling and can be hard, very hard. It is a series of decisions, some harder than others, some good and, unfortunately, too many of them bad. It will be up to each of you to make as many good decisions as possible and to limit the bad ones, then to learn from all of them. But I will urge you to resist when those around you insist on making the bad decisions. Being accepted or popular with those doing wrong is an awful Faustian bargain and, as with all Faustian bargains, not worth it. It is never wrong to do the right thing. It may be hard, but never wrong.

Economics is quite simple and straightforward

By this stage, if you still accept Keynesian economics as a legitimate approach to understanding how an economy works, or how to find our way out of recession, you are basing everything on authority and simple faith. It’s in all the texts, but you would think that by now there would be a growing level of dissatisfaction about the irrelevance of textbook theory for making sense of the actual events of an economy. Kevin Williamson has written an article, Economics may be dismal, but it’s not a science, which refers back to an article written by Niall Ferguson, The Rise and Fall of Krugmania in the UK. So we have a journalist quoting an historian on the uselessness of economic theory.

Economists have never in all their endeavors managed to deliver a truly useful and broadly applicable model to policymakers, which is to say a model that is prospective, connecting policy changes to real-world outcomes in a predictable, accurate, and reliable manner. Given the complexity at work, that probably is an impossible task, and the record of economists for making predictions is not good; Krugman’s record is arguably worse than average, despite his straight-faced insistence: “I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.” Right about everything would be a very high standard for a marine biologist or an astronomer — but for an economist?

Krugman is trying to set a kind of standard of sorts, for being able to deny reality longer than anyone else. You know that Keynesian inanity about changing one’s mind when the facts change. Keynesian economics will disappear around the same time that the left gives up on socialism and we all know how long that will take. These people will just have to be ignored, in the way they are in the UK.

Economics does provide useful models, ones that really do work and you can use to frame policy. But all such models start on the supply side and revolve around the specific efforts of entrepreneurs living in a world of innovation and uncertainty. In that sense, economics is quite simple and straightforward. The trick is to get 50%-plus-one to vote for policies that make everyone prosperous by making some people quite well off.

What genuine problem has a party of the left actually solved anytime in the last forty years?

Parties of the left never solve any actual problems, they only make existing problems worse and create new ones along the way.

Our economies are swimming in debt and deficits, with regulatory overload that makes recovery in any meaningful way almost an impossibility. We had a budget in surplus and an economy with zero debt. Then we elected Labor and we will never achieve any such thing again.

The boats were stopped not once but twice. It was first done by John Howard, and has been done again by Tony Abbott. In between, R-G-R allowed thousands to arrive, with the well understood aim of creating a voting class that would give them success at subsequent elections, irrespective of the harm done to the country by allowing illegal migrants to flood our shores.

If there are industrial relations problems, you can solve them either by resisting union demands or by conceding them. The first option will give you a stronger economy, the second a two-tier system in which union members and their leaders do well while others do worse.

But the parties of the left are good at finding solutions for things that are not a problem at all. Take the prime example, global warming. The planet isn’t even warming for any reason whatsoever, never mind because of the use of carbon-based fuels. But the left have created a crisis atmosphere, and have stepped forward with solutions that wouldn’t even make sense if there actually was such a problem, but which allows plenty of money to be distributed to their crony-capitalist friends while burdening the economy with taxes and imposts that are certain to make us less well off but will give the government more money to spread around at its own discretion.

There are lots of such fake problems invented by the left and promoted through the media (i.e. by the marketing arm of the left) to become controversial issue in immediate need of solution. Conservatives then have the choice of doing nothing since they think there is nothing to be done, and therefore end up hammered by the press and the left for not taking such problems seriously. Or they do take these up and legitimise the issue while offering solutions that are intended to be less damaging than those offered by the left.

There was a time when the left tried to solve genuine problems and were legitimate parties of ideas. Almost invariably bad ideas, which generally have left a trail of damage, but at least they were honestly conceived. They no longer have any ideas at all, other than the usual plunder and distribute to the mendicant classes which they have created and who will most reliably vote for them.

I’m not sure there is any solution for conservatives than to try to take these people on by pointing out that they do an immense amount of harm, almost never do good, and our problems are invariably made worse every time a government of the left is elected. Except, even if you wished to undertake such a campaign, how would you get the message out?

Are we supposed to take this “woman” seriously?

Gavin McInnes reviews Ann Coulter’s !Adios America. This is how it starts.

Ann Coulter is a withered old hag who uses shock value to sell books. Look at her face. What is she, 40? And her hair? Come on. Are we supposed to take this “woman” seriously? Her latest incarnation of Mein Kampf says Adios, America on the front but should really be called Mexicans Are Human Garbage. I haven’t read it yet but the claims she makes in the book are as disgusting as they are outrageous. It all came out on a recent appearance of Fusion with Jorge (pronounced “Hor-jay”) Ramos. As the title implies, his show brings together all kinds of different cultures into a fun plate of multiculturalism that’s like fusion cuisine for the brain. (If you don’t believe diversity is our strength, check out all the cool restaurants in New York City. You can be served by a Somalian one day, a Turk the next, and a Glaswegian in between the two.)

“Ann, if you’re reading this. Show some humanity! We are a nation of immigrants. We stole this land from the Indians.”

Ramos appeared to be focusing on Hispanics throughout the episode he had Coulter on. It was a brilliant way to expose her irrational ramblings for what they really are: Shock Hate. I haven’t actually seen the entire episode but the Internet is rife with apt descriptions of what happened. The show started out with Ann being repulsed by a Hispanic woman of color who simply offered her a hug. After that, a documented boy from Honduras tried to reach out to her and open her eyes to the dangers of prejudice and Ann barked, “You’re not black so drop the racism crap.” Her hatred for Mexicans ran so deep, she couldn’t talk to any of the audience members. Ramos rescued them from her vile bile and bravely took her on himself. He told her America was becoming more diverse and she said, “more Mexican” is not more diverse. He asked her what her problem is with 11 million hard-working people and she said the number was 3 times that! She also said they’re not as nice as we think. “If you don’t want to get killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria” she said before adding, “If you don’t want to be killed by a Mexican, there’s nothing I can tell you.” I mean, at this point you have to just give up. Even conservatives know the Hispanic crime rate is the same as that for whites. In her world, Mexicans don’t come here for a better life. They come here to murder people.

Ann, if you’re reading this. Show some humanity! We are a nation of immigrants. We stole this land from the Indians. Mexicans aren’t doing the same to us. They’re here to help us. Do you want us to put them all on a giant bus and send them home? Grow up!

You get the point. Now read the rest.

BTW: Here is Ann’s column about the interview.

The moral standards of the left

As everyone understands, there are no actual moral standards on the left. There are moral standards observed by the conservative side of politics that can be used to discredit politicians on the right among voters on the right. On the left, however, power is all and what you do personally makes no difference at all. Watching the rise and rise of Hillary Clinton, along with Bill, would be beyond any measure difficult to understand if you thought honest and ethical behaviour actually mattered. Such behaviour simply could not happen on the conservative side of politics, not least because the left media would never let up on any of it.

So here is an interesting test case brought to us by Donna Laframboise: Will Rajendra Pachauri Be Held Accountable by Green Activists?, which comes with the subheading, “The environmental movement routinely demands accountability from third parties. When will it acknowledge the creepy sexual misconduct of one of its leaders?” The answer is obvious and the answer is never. Being on the left means you never have to say you’re sorry.

When a 74-year-old global thinker, leader, and statesman whose very name is synonymous with climate change and the environment is declared guilty of flagrant sexual harassment of a 29-year-old female subordinate, you’d think calls for him to be held accountable would be deafening. Particularly from folks in the ‘I demand accountability’ business.

But perhaps the green movement has missed the latest developments. Here, therefore, are some current headlines to bring it up to date:

India Today: TERI panel finds RK Pachauri guilty of sexually harassing colleague
Hans India: RK Pachauri guilty of sexual harassment, finds TERI panel
New Indian Express: TERI Declares Pachauri Guilty of Harassment
One India: TERI report finds RK Pachauri guilty of sexual harassment
Deccan Chronicle: TERI’s internal panel finds RK Pachauri guilty in sexual harassment case

There are no moral standards on the left. We on the right think sexual harassment is wrong so they use even fake examples against our representatives – Clarence Thomas for example. But when the real thing is proved beyond all possible measure of doubt – Bill Clinton and the Gap dress – they stand by their man. The kinds of none issues that were used against Mitt Romney – who drove from Boston to the Canadian border with his dog in a cage on the roof of a car – would be insane except for the fact that this is exactly what was used to alienate some votes from Republicans. When Obama admitted to actually eating dog, somehow this never seemed to matter.

I actually thought that Pachauri had been taken down by this scandal. That he is still there and continues to lead the IPCC with no demands that he step down truly is astounding. He had resigned as I had thought, so I will go back to Donna’s original point which is where is all the criticism from the green side of politics for such behaviour.

FURTHER COMMENT: When I look at the ethics of the left, I am of course looking at political morality and not personal, which can be quite different. The great moral monsters of the last hundred years or so have had socialism as the basis for their power. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and etc. Personal morality is something different but is a dangerous mix with the politics of the left. Gerard Henderson’s article today on Persecutors of Pell raises many an interesting point about how this issue is being used as a political weapon. I found this particularly interesting, mostly because I did not know any of it.

The ABC, under the direction of managing director and editor-in-chief Mark Scott, has been pursuing Pell for years. In 2013 Four Corners edited its Unholy Silence program to Pell’s disadvantage by cutting out a crucial comment where he explained his role in the Catholic Church in Australia. Scott, in private correspondence, subsequently supported this act of censorship. . . .

Meanwhile Scott, who joined the board of Knox Grammar School Council in late 2007 and became deputy chairman in mid-2013, has declined to answer several questions as to what he did, or did not do, with respect to auditing child sexual abuse at the school.

As evidence to the royal commission demonstrates, there was a nest of pederast teachers at Knox Grammar and offending continued up until at least 2003 and the issue did not become public until 2009, some time after Scott joined the board. As far as I am aware, Scott’s association with Knox Grammar has not been reported on the ABC. Of course, I’m not suggesting Spigelman or Scott are responsible for biased reporting, or that they in any way condone pederasts, just that they should have stepped in or made a public statement demanding balance and admonishing rogue clergy.

Who is really surprised that this has not happened? But more to the point, who is surprised that this is such a quiet issue, left unreported at the ABC? The left weaponises morality but is far from even-handed in how these moral judgements are applied.

[My thanks to TM for passing the story along]

“U.S. economy likely shrank in quarter one, but fundamentals strong”

The quote is from Reuters which maintains the delusion that all is well with the American economy. As with the data on unemployment, there are people across the American Government, throughout the public service and at every level of the left media whose job it is to pretend all is well so long as Democrats are in charge. If the White House changes hands in 2017, we will hear a different story. But until then, the good times will continue to be around the corner, as they have been for the past six years.

But some things you cannot hide, which is that U.S. economy contracts in first quarter. The national accounts are, unfortunately, a truly inadequate measure of what you would like to know. If one economy grew by 10% and another by 2%, which one has a higher standard of living? The fact that you cannot tell is one of the signs that the number really doesn’t get to what is actually of interest. And here is a question that is less easy to answer than you think it ought to be. If an economy grew by 10%, just what exactly is 10% bigger this year than it was last year? Again a difficult question that few are ever taught. But it is not what you really want to know if you are interested in prosperity and jobs.

Almost all of our economic measures are incompetent if the aim is to understand present economic conditions and current trends. But there is no disguising this one. A contraction in economic activity is not part of the story of an economy in recovery.

It’s not my fault, says Bernanke

Well, actually, yes it is. The economic establishment is floundering, trying to work out what went wrong. They are, I’m afraid, clueless in their Keynesian beliefs. This is from The Oz: Ben Bernanke: ‘Lack of stimulus to blame for rates’. But before we turn further to Dr Bernanke, let me just draw your attention to a recent article about the success of the “austerity” program in the UK, written by Niall Ferguson:

Long before the United Kingdom’s recent general election, which the Conservatives won by a margin that stunned their critics, the facts about the country’s economic performance had indeed changed. Yet there is no sign of today’s Keynesians changing their minds.

With these thoughts in mind, let us turn to the views of the previous Chairman of the Fed.

The most influential central banker in a generation, who guided the global economy through the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, has pinned the blame on governments for the ultra-low interest rates that are playing havoc with exchange rates, asset prices and incomes around the world.

In sweeping and optimistic ­remarks about the economy, made in Sydney yesterday, former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said central banks had been compelled to slash interest rate to unprecedented low levels because governments had dragged their feet in providing essenti­al stimulus measures.

This is all after-the-fact. Now that they are actually witnessing the wreckage that has befallen the world’s economies, and in particular the United States, they are looking for reasons why their policies didn’t bring the recovery they said it would. Bernanke, like Krugman, are mystified. They really have no idea why things have unfolded as they have. Bernanke who made such a fetish of having done so much scholarly work on the Great Depression to work out what to do this time round, finds that whatever he thought he knew, whatever it was he did, that the sum total of their efforts have been a disaster.

I have been teaching the devastating consequences of low interest rates since the start of the GFC. All in the second edition if you are interested. But any economist who believes that an economy can be resurrected from the demand side is a danger to any economy they provide advice to. So here is Bernanke’s latest prediction:

“Some slowing in China is both inevitable and probably ­desirable … (but) a hard landing is not a high probability at all,” he said

Given his track record, if that doesn’t make you worry, I don’t know what would.

“Science has taken a turn towards darkness”

These are quotes from the editor of The Lancet, the premier medical journal in the world, reported by Steve Hayward at Powerline. My link is through Hayward’s post, but any of us who have dealt with global vermin will know what he means. And that is not where it stops.

“A lot of what is published is incorrect.” I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted . . . this symposium—on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research, held at the Wellcome Trust in London last week—touched on one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with one of our greatest human creations.

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. . .

The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals. Our love of “significance” pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale. We reject important confirmations. Journals are not the only miscreants. Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication. . . nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system. [Emphasis added.]

Scientific research in some areas has become like the media. There are only certain conclusions you are allowed to reach and if you want that next grant, or that next publication, you had better make sure you are well within the acceptable range of opinion.

And here is the direct link to the editor of The Lancet where you can read his comments in full.

Scott of the Aunt Arctic

Aunt Arctic in the sense of the kind of welcome given to conservatives at the ABC. It seems that it has come to the attention of the MD of the ABC that there are people in the community who believe that Q&A has a bias towards the left. According to the story, therefore, ABC: Mark Scott to review Q&A amid left-bias claims. He must be worried that not even Malcolm will be able to get him that one-year extension to his contract as they look for a replacement. But for sheer obtuseness, it is hard to beat this:

Asked by Coalition senator James McGrath why Monday-night panel show Q&A consistently leans to the Left, Mr Scott said it was not the first time he had heard that “depiction” and agreed to conduct a survey or “sampling” of the topics discussed.

Mark, it’s not just Q&A and it’s not just the topics discussed. I wonder if he has ever heard that depiction about the whole of the ABC, although given the circles he seems to travel in, possibly not.

If you are looking for some serious pessimism try this

Two articles about a pretty bleak economic future driven by the usual combination of leftist ignorance and envy. The first is on Impoverishment: America’s New Normal. It’s not just America’s but will be shared out among the formerly first world economies of the once free-market West.

The defining American middle class is devolving toward poverty. The 1970’s brought an undeniable economic retreat: the disappearance of the traditional middle class housewife into the workplace. A declining standard of living was heralded as a feminist triumph. The linked map illustrates the accelerated middle class economic decline since the 2008 financial crash; today, 20% of American families include no workers and most Americans receive government benefits….

Rather than awaiting recovery, the people and even more, the government, need to learn again what is needed to survive in a world where others have risen up to compete. Until then, impoverishment seems likely to be the new normal for America and for similar reasons, for much of the rest of the world as well.

That was the good news story. There is then this second article. Let me start with the final para which is not as farfetched as you might like to think although it goes a step or two too far even for me. But who’s to say this is not actually possible:

For us Westerners, living standards equality with the Third World appears inevitable, probably within the next 20 years. The only question is whether emerging markets will in turn acquire Western “barnacles,” thereby reducing the entire planet’s living standards to a level at which the Industrial Revolution might just as well never have happened.

Well, we will still have our TVs and iPhones so there will be something. But it will not be the kind of flush economic security that we were all once so used to. Our political and economic understanding is so pitiful and we are driven by a short-term shallowness that is terrifying if you have the kind of vision discussed.

U.S. productivity growth declined from 2.8% per annum in the period 1948-73 to 1.8% per annum in 1974-2010 to 0.6% per annum in 2011-15 – almost entirely owing to regulation rather than to public sector bloat, which has increased only moderately since 1970. However the EPA and other big regulatory agencies date to the 1970s, and coincide eerily with the end of the post-war U.S. productivity bonanza. Monetary policy, by distorting the free market’s asset allocation process, undoubtedly bears part of the responsibility for the further post-2011 slump in productivity, but there’s no question the Obama administration’s thirst for regulation has made matters worse. Only in retrospect will we be able to allocate blame accurately between the two factors.

As well as a bloated public sector and excessive regulation, there are other ways in which rich countries increasingly diverge from the free-market ideal. Infrastructure projects’ costs are outrageous in modern Western economies, a large multiple in real terms of their costs 50 or 100 years ago.

That’s not because we have got less efficient at laying concrete or building bridges. It’s because of the tangled mass of regulations on safety, environmentalism, workforce and other matters, none of which are costed properly, each of which adds substantially to the expense and delay in building infrastructure, and the combination of which is devastating.

There’s quite a bit more which you might read for yourself. This last bit is something I also agitate about but how few now have any idea what he is even talking about.

Finally the ultra-low interest rates of the last 7 years have sapped Western savings (a tendency exacerbated by generous welfare systems). With savings inadequate, the capital endowments of Western economies have shrunk and have also been diverted into unproductive speculation and asset investment. Anyone who thinks the current level of London house prices does anything at all for the true wealth and productivity of the British economy is living in economic dreamland.

We may find it all unravelling more rapidly and more comprehensively than anyone is currently prepared to believe. And because of the way our political systems are designed, there will be not a thing anyone will be able to do.