The economics of envy

Here’s a typical bit of leftist rubbish: Wealth concentration near ‘levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties,’ study finds. Such studies, and no doubt accurate to the third decimal. But suppose we just change the heading a bit:

Wealth levels near ‘levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties,’ study finds

Take the bottom ten percent today and their standard of living is much much higher than the top ten percent was then. They eat better, have better transportation (say cars and roads), improved entertainment (and right in their own living room) and live in larger, more spacious homes with an endless increase in labour-saving gadgetry.

The level of income inequality is invisible. It requires someone to try to measure two entirely different populations in entirely different periods of time, when in neither there are statistics that will actually measure what they are trying to find. But even if you could measure income inequality, so what? There will always be rich and there will always be poor. The rich today undoubtedly have more goods and services at their command than did the rich in the 1920s. But so do the poor.

What does not change is the level of envy among a large proportion of the population who are made bitter by the success of others. Envy is the worst of the seven deadly sins and there is no known cure. But the envious are everywhere and will take their revenge on the rest of us if they can.

PDT on anti-semitism

In his State of the Union, the President focused on anti-semitism which is again a force for evil in the world today when one would have hoped it had disappeared into the past. This has been highlighted by Scott Johnson at Powerline in a post on The State of the Union is Good. These are the relevant parts of his post.

I want to highlight one especially important theme. President Trump has taken a lot of unjustified grief for alleged anti-Semitism. What a farce.

Last night the president recognized individual Holocaust survivors among his special guests, but he went beyond gestures. He expressed support of the Jewish people and opposition to anti-Semitism (see, e.g., the case of Iran). He mentioned his support of Israel as well. The Jewish theme made for a powerful motif. Here he knit together Trump foreign policy with recognition of a law enforcement hero:

My Administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror: the radical regime in Iran.

To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. And last fall, we put in place the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a country.

We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.

Just months ago, 11 Jewish-Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. SWAT Officer Timothy Matson raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer. Timothy has just had his 12th surgery — but he made the trip to be here with us tonight. Officer Matson: we are forever grateful for your courage in the face of evil.

He wasn’t done:

Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”

A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”

I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.

All in all, an excellent speech with many highlights.

Quotable quote: “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

There has never been a moment in all the years since he entered public life, which for me is now four years ago, that I have ever doubted the sincerity of a word he has said. He is the most remarkable man I have ever seen hold high office and we are blessed to have him where he is.

Born yesterday

To truly appreciate how born yesterday politicians of the left and their followers actually are, you really do have to read Joseph Priestly’s 1791 Of the Prospect of the general Enlargement of Liberty, civil and religious, opened by the Revolution in France which is the last of his Letters to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke. He wrote these letters well before the Reign of Terror commenced, which was then followed by the Napoleonic dictatorship, which in turn led to the Napoleonic Wars which roiled Europe for almost two decades, so perhaps there is some excuse for his naive and inane views. But what excuse is there for anyone to hold similar views today. It is remarkable to read Priestly in the knowledge we have of governments by Nazis, by Communists, by totalitarians of every kind, and yet Priestly-clones continue to populate the world. You still hear the same kinds of arguments from the left to this minute, that is from people whose ignorance of history is matched only by their vicious natures, vacuous minds and lack of common sense. You can read the whole thing for yourself – it’s not particularly long – but let’s pick a few highlights.

These great events [the French Revolution], in many respects unparalleled in all history, make a totally new, a most wonderful, and important, æra in the history of mankind. It is, to adopt your own rhetorical style, a change from darkness to light, from superstition to sound knowledge, and from a most debasing servitude to a state of the most exalted freedom. It is a liberating of all the powers of man from that variety of fetters, by which they have hitherto been held. So that, in comparison with what has been, now only can we expect to see what men really are, and what they can do….

Together with the general prevalence of the true principles of civil government, we may expect to see the extinction of all national prejudice, and enmity, and the establishment of universal peace and good will among all nations. When the affairs of the various societies of mankind shall be conducted by those who shall truly represent them, who shall feel as they feel, and think as they think; who shall really understand, and consult their interests, they will no more engage in those mutually offensive wars, which the experience of many centuries has shown to be constantly expensive and ruinous. They will no longer covet what belongs to others, which they have found to be of no real service to them, but will content themselves with making the most of their own.

The causes of civil wars, the most distressing of all others, will likewise cease, as well as those of foreign ones. They are chiefly contentions for offices, on account of the power and emoluments annexed to them. But when the nature and uses of all civil offices shall be well understood, the power and emoluments annexed to them, will not be an object sufficient to produce a war. Is it at all probable, that there will ever be a civil war in America, about the presidentship of the United States? And when the chief magistracies in other countries shall be reduced to their proper standard, they will be no more worth contending for, than they are in America. If the actual business of a nation be done as well for the small emolument of that presidentship, as the similar business of other nations, there will be no apparent reason why more should be given for doing it.

If there be a superfluity of public money, it will not be employed to augment the profusion, and increase the undue influence, of individuals, but in works of great public utility, which are always wanted, and which nothing but the enormous expences of government, and of wars, chiefly occasioned by the ambition of kings and courts, have prevented from being carried into execution….

If time be allowed for the discussion of differences, so great a majority will form one opinion, that the minority will see the necessity of giving way. Thus will reason be the umpire in all disputes, and extinguish civil wars as well as foreign ones. The empire of reason will ever be the reign of peace….

There will be magistrates, appointed and paid for the conservation of order, but they will only be considered as the first servants of the people, and accountable to them. Standing armies, those instruments of tyranny, will be unknown, though the people may be trained to the use of arms, for the purpose of repelling the invasion of Barbarians. For no other description of men will have recourse to war, or think of disturbing the repose of others; and till they become civilized, as in the natural progress of things they necessarily must, they will be sufficiently overawed by the superior power of nations that are so….

Government, being thus simple in its objects, will be unspeakably less expensive than it is at present, as well as far more effectual in answering its proper purpose. There will then be little to provide for besides the administration of justice, or the preservation of the peace, which it will be the interest of every man to attend to, in aid of government….

The enormous debts which our present systems of government, and the follies of our governors, have intailed upon us, like all other evils in the plan of providence, promise to be eventually the cause of the greatest good, as necessary means of bringing about the happy state of things above described. And the improvement of Europe may serve as an example to the rest of the world, and be the instrument of other important changes, which I shall not dwell upon in this place….

If the condition of other nations be as much bettered as that of France will probably be, by her improved system of government, this great crisis, dreadful as it appears in prospect, will be a consummation devoutly to be wished for, and though calamitous to many, perhaps to many innocent persons, will be eventually most glorious and happy.

To you, Sir, all this may appear such wild declamation, as your treatise appears to me. But speculations of this kind contribute to exhilerate my mind, as the consideration of the French revolution has contributed to disturb and distress yours; and thus is verified the common proverb, which says, One man’s meat is another man’s poison. If this be a dream, it is, however, a pleasing one, and has nothing in it malignant, or unfriendly to any. All that I look to promises no exclusive advantage to myself, or my friends; but an equal field for every generous exertion to all, and it makes the great object of all our exertions to be the public good.

Burke, the first conservative, was so clearly right and Priestly, and all who follow in his wake so clearly wrong, that you have to wonder whether the world will ever be cured of the madness that comes from the politics of wishing-it-were-true.

Defining deviance up

From Cut & Paste at The Oz: Once a jolly polly offered an apollygy, and other neologisms to celebrate Australia Day.

From the cool cats at Catallaxy Files during the past two years:

Abbariginal: Fair-skinned blonde claiming Aboriginality for money, money, money

Acadumbic: Professor who dumbs down students

Accusuals: Usual accusers

Alt-Racist: Reactionary throwback who believes man should be judged by content of character not colour of skin

ATMs: Australian Taxpaying Machines, ie taxpayers that pollies raid

Apollygy: Apology made by a hopeless PM about something they had no involvement in to seem more virtuous than the previous PM

Balance of poorer: Control votes in Senargy so prosperity never realised

Bolshie Ballet: Choreographed routine when crimes of socialism are brought up, such as “but that wasn’t real communism”, “but Scandinavia”. “but outside forces”

Bloodger: One who uses race to suck from the taxpayer’s teat

Canoebaya: Imaginary state in which all parties are in the same boat

Climatocracy: Upper echelons of climate science and activist fraternity, made wealthy as dauphins by immeasurable government largesse

Dimwitterati: Energy policy masters

Disasterati: Airhead commentariat that thrills about latest research proving catastrophic impact of climate change will end world as we know it

Dodgeridoo: Fake Aboriginal artefact

Foregasm: Wonderful feeling when Treasury forecasts balanced budget some time in next 20 years

Flannery: Unit of rain. “We’ve had over 75 ‘Flannerys’ in the past week”. one Flannery being 50 gigalitres

Fragilista: One who fights by whining for rights of snowflakes everywhere

Fauxphobia: 1. Pretending that sticking “phobia” on to a randomly chosen word is meaningful. 2. Fear of people who create meaningless words

Fleffers: Far-left activists who routinely stack audiences at ABC TV shows such as Q&A in order to whoop, cheer and vigorously applaud their ideology and its espousers

Fridgicide: Thanks to a US intellectual we know this, not Islamic, terrorism is the real threat to Western civilisation

Gendercide: Destruction of bio­logical gender as we know it

Gendercreep: Public education on just how many ways to have sex

Gorebulls: Utterances of Al Gore

Insulterati: (see Offendopotamus)

Intaxication: Wonderful feeling when government spends $ on you but you know a headache is coming

Islamofauxbia: Pretence that being wary of homicidal jihadists is somehow irrational

Leftwaffe: Mechanical formations that carpet-bomb social media with hashtags and believe they are superior to all others

Marxist Stream Media: … formerly known as mainstream media

Neo-Apartheid: Progressive, compassionate policy … (of) locking sections of community into non-Western culture (which) magically result in improved standards of living

Offendopotamus/offendopotami: Full-time offense taker

Phallinked: Person associated with “Safe Schools” child grooming

Pollicock: Political correctness

Pollycy: Policy for political purposes

Preposterist: One who expects others to believe their preposterous views

Rearviewergy: Rear view energy. Politicians in cahoots with crony capitalists who decide way forward is to fix sight in rear view mirror, ie windmills

Slacktivist: Someone who only ­attends demos after midday

Socialislam: Unofficial alliance ­between the Left and Islam

Social license: Inalienable right of those who don’t produce anything to hector and humbug those that do

Spitcoin: Currency, the more spitcoins one accumulates, the higher on the virtue ladder one is elevated and the more deplorables one can spit on

UNuchs: Fawning obsequiousness at international diplomatic gatherings

Woking Class: Demographic educated just sufficiently to assign relative degrees of morality to every member of the population except themselves

Oppression 101

This is the start to an article titled, Critical Theory Quotes:

Critical theory is an ideology that divides the world into oppressed groups and oppressor groups and seeks to liberate the oppressed. It is currently the reigning theoretical paradigm in academic disciplines like gender studies, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, anthropology, and queer theory, and forms the ideological foundation for large segments of the secular social justice movement. In my speaking and writing, I’ve characterized critical theory according to several basic premises held by proponents of critical theory. Listed below are quotes which illustrates each of these basic premises.

Premise #1: Individual identity is inseparable from group identity as ‘oppressed’ or ‘oppressor’

Premise #2: Oppressor groups subjugate oppressed groups through the exercise of hegemonic power

Premise #3: Our fundamental moral duty is freeing groups from oppression

Premise #4: ‘Lived experience’ is more important than objective evidence in understanding oppression

Premise #5: Oppressor groups hide their oppression under the guise of objectivity

Premise #6: Individuals at the intersection of different oppressed groups experience oppression in a unique way

Just click on each link and you will get to the list of associated quotes. Here is the first quote from the first premise:

Premise #1: Individual identity is inseparable from group identity as ‘oppressed’ or ‘oppressor’

My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor… I was taught [wrongly] to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will” – Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege,” in Andersen and Collins, Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology, p. 72

By the time you are through, you will see yourself as an oppressor of everyone else because you thoughtlessly just went ahead and lived your life without noticing all the harm you had caused to others. But they noticed, even though almost all their disadvantage might well have arisen because of who they were and not what you did.

The Covington Boys

My interest in ideology goes back as far as I can remember. No one can live without ideology. It is a sorting mechanism that gives everyone a perspective on the events of life. In the West, there are at the present two broad ideologies that are at an almost 50-50 division, and its outcome will determine our future as a civilisation. There is on the one hand, the Judeo-Christian ethic that has evolved across the past two millennia and is itself built on the Greek and Roman ethos that goes back further still. It is the basis for our free market economic system and our democratic form of political organisation.

On the other side there is a Marxist-Progressive ideology that has as its base a absurd Utopian perspective that believes all of our social and economic problems would disappear if we rid ourselves of our Judeo-Christian ethic and replaced it with some form of dictatorship of the representatives of the proletariat. Name the problem – racism, inequality, poverty – they will fix it. Just put power into their hands and all will be done. The carriers of this ideological perspective have a track record so abysmal that you can barely believe anyone would admit to believing such vile nonsense, but that’s the role of ideology. Once you accept a perspective on the world, you are impervious to criticism.

Which brings me to The Covington Boys, an issue I thought of as so trivial that it was hardly worth a passing moment. Even if a bunch of high school kids had said some mean things to an Aboriginal American war veteran, it never really seemed much of anything. Yet it is turning out to be a true watershed moment. Here is the summary: YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO HOW THE MEDIA TRIED RUINING THE LIVES OF INNOCENT TEENAGERS.

  • The media smelled blood when a video seemingly showed a group of teenage boys bullying an older Native American protester.
  • Newer videos showed that the protester had actually approached the students, who were also receiving slurs shouted by a group of radical activists.
  • The media’s misleading reports happened at a time when the students were facing death threats.

Not stated above is that the boys were attending an anti-abortion rally in Washington while wearing MAGA hats. That they are only high school students meant nothing since any symbol will do for a Progressive-Marxist ideologue. If you would like a longer explanation, you can find it here: Lessons From an Online Lynching (Why #StandWithCovington Is Going Viral).

LET ME ADD THIS:

The Flight from Truth by Jean-François Revel

A fine review of a book published in 1991 that is astonishing in its ability to see into the future and exactly captures the ideological world we are in right now. I will do my own review of it in the next week or so, but this will give you some sense of what there is. I will only say there is much much more and is the most insightful work on our present dilemma I have come across, but no one would write it today – well maybe Thomas Sowell – but I fear even more that no one would publish it. Here’s the review.

BOOK REVIEW: THE FLIGHT FROM TRUTH

by 

The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information by Jean-Francois Revel (New York: Random House, 1991); 408 pages; $25.When Jean-Francois Revel published How Democracies Perish in the early 1980s, he wanted to deliver a warning to the nations of the West that the Soviet Union was being allowed to win the Cold War. This threatened victory of communism, he argued, was not due to any inherent superiority in the Soviet model. Rather, it was coming about due to weakness in the democratic West. As a conservative, Mr. Revel was worried about a failure of will by the Western nations to stand up militarily to the perceived Soviet threat. But the core of his argument was an ideological one: the West had surrendered its vision and its understanding of why a free, open, market-oriented society was both moral and prosperous. Western intellectuals had accepted the premises of socialism and welfare statism. And as a consequence, the war of ideas and ideology around the world was being won by the Soviet Union.

Now, in the early 1990s, socialism in the form of the Soviet threat is gone. Communism has collapsed in the country in which it was first implemented because of its own internal weaknesses and contradictions. But the West, unfortunately, still suffers from the same ideological problems that Mr. Revel wrote about ten years ago. And this is the theme of his new book, The Flight from Truth: The Reign of Deceit in the Age of Information.

Every one of the premises of the Left has been refuted by the failure of the socialist experiment. Socialism brought neither freedom, justice nor prosperity. Rather, socialism produced cruel despotisms, privilege and corruption, and economic distortion and poverty. But this is a reality that is too disturbing for many on the Left to accept. To admit the truth would shatter their beliefs, dreams and desires.

So, instead of accepting the truth, the Left has continued to construct deceptions and distortions of reality to protect and guard their most cherished premises. Mr. Revel explains that the heart of these deceptions has revolved around the attempt to prevent discussions of human-rights abuses and economic stagnation in socialist states and to limit all such discussions to “right-wing” dictatorships or Western nations. The standard reply to criticisms of socialism has not been a straight answer to meet the charges. Instead, the critic has been accused of ignoring equal or even greater abuses in capitalist countries and being so paranoid about communism that he is blind to the ever-threatening resurgence of fascism. Hence, the critic has been sidetracked into a debate over the possible revival of fascist dictatorships and away from the reality of the socialist experiment.

The second line of defense, Mr. Revel argues, is the use by the Left of the charge of racism. Insisting that there is no greater evil and danger in the world than racism and racial discrimination, the Left reduces all social and cultural tensions between people to one dimension: race. In discussions about the Third World, the only human-rights abuses of significance to the Left are those in South Africa under apartheid — and for the Left, apartheid is nothing more than a degenerate form of capitalism. That millions have died from socialist-produced famines in black-ruled African countries — that Marxist regimes in black Africa have tortured and murdered tens of thousands of their own people — does not even go down an Orwellian memory-hole; for to be erased from the record would imply that these events in Africa were reported in the press, when, in fact, they occurred in an informational void, ignored by most of the press in the West.

When the Left has been challenged about socialist tyranny in Africa, the response has often been that freedom without development is meaningless. As @&. Revel says, “I was under the impression that freedom was good in itself, independent of the standard of living of the population…. In reality, if democracy without development was meaningless, then neither the French or the American revolution nor the British reform movement should have been undertaken.” And he asks, “[Wlho would be qualified to fix the degree of development above which a democracy ceases to be ‘nothing’ and becomes ‘something’?”

All of dim tendencies in evading the truth of the socialist experience and fabricating smoke screens in reality’s place, Mr. Revel argues, have been bolstered by a journalistic community that views itself as an advocate of “good causes,” rather than as reporters of events; by an academic community that views its task as one to remold the minds of the youth in their charge; by an intellectual community that has nothing but ridicule and hate for their own society.
The perspective from which most of the members of these communities approach their duties is moderate to extreme Leftism.

And even now in a post-communist era, the lies and flights from truth will continue to persist. Why? Because what many of these people really want is not so much the success of socialism as the destruction of capitalism. Their hatred, fear and contempt of human freedom and the market economy will survive the demise of a thousand socialist experiments. And that is the real face of the enemy.

Let me link to one other that seem to make the point, and it is relatively recent as well, from 2011: Managed truth: The great danger to our republic which begins with a very astute comment:

French social critic Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850) once said, “The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.”

He also discusses the arrival of Keynesian economics as part of this process.

In his General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936), Keynes advocated the planning of a nation’s economic life, political supervision of private industry, and manipulation of the currency, that is, a massive increase in the size and scope of government. The first enthusiastic review of Keynes’ General Theory by a professional economist was by G. D. H. Cole, an avowed Marxist and a founding member of the Fabian Society. Two of the strongest proponents in America were government officials in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White, both proven communists. Keynes himself was quoted as saying, “The Republic of my imagination lies on the extreme left of celestial space.”[24] Despite this, Keynesian economics dominated the American economy until the election of Ronald Reagan, after which it was declared dead. Unfortunately, the corpse continues to convulse and has now arisen as a zombie, more difficult to kill than ever.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and the ignorance of experts

Sent to me from an old friend. That I can still have friends who find this video appealing says more about them than about myself. The intent is to prove what a self-confident dunce the American president is. For myself, listening to the text leaves me colder than cold. Not to distinguish between immigrants and illegal immigrants is one of those slither-past issues that the video makes hay with. Or to think the issue over the EPA is anything other than the utter idiocy of global warming, and even quotes the 97% statistic! Having been put together in 2017, it was made before the overwhelming evidence that the American economy is booming and manufacturing jobs are returning, so on yet another score it misses the point. And what’s the latest opinion on bringing home troops from Syria? My friend writes in his accompanying email:

‘The tag line is “The enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”‘

which is the essence of the Dunning-Kruger effect, adding:

‘which may have direct implications for your continuing battles with orthodox academia.’

And so it might. But if I find any particular statement fits my mood in dealing with economic theory, it is from Richard Feynman:

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Which applies as much to modern macro as it does to the modern Administrative State. As for the illusion of knowledge, what I find more incredible is the absence of knowledge. The media’s main role has been to ensure that only one side of the case is ever freely available. If news reporting were ever to become unbiased and honest – which it won’t – the parties of the left would never win another election until they too became parties of the right.