Should a spoiled child be indulged?

That seems to be the point of this piece in the NY Times concerning North Korea.  I’m no expert but I do tend to agree that any short term pain associated with a reunification would be well worth it on both economic and humanitarian grounds.

Which is why China would never go for it.  The have no desire to see “Asia’s Germany” as a competing power.  Indeed, I think it more likely that at some point in the future the entire peninsula will be little more than a vassal of the power mad Chinese.  That’s pretty much been Korea’s fate throughout history.

Taking a stab at irony

This disturbing news item from China about a train station attack leaving 27 dead has set my mind reeling.  Why is it that in the 21st century people still feel the need own and carry knives.  And more importantly, why are they legally allowed to do so?  This twisted knife loving culture bespeaks of ignorance and a love of violence.  Granted, there may have been a place in the distant past when knives were perhaps necessary in some households, but they have no place in a modern society.  How many more innocents must perish needlessly before knives are forever banned?

Fortunately, the police were able to stop the murderous knife-wielding thugs through the judicious use of gunfire.  Which proves yet again that until knives are finally eradicated from society people should carry guns for purposes of self-defense.  After all, even the most insane knife lover wouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

 

I really don’t give a duck

So, I have a friend on Facebook who is a Professor of Sociology at a university in Massachusetts.  He’s a good guy (I used to play darts with him in Columbia) although he brings a decidedly leftist viewpoint to his political discussions.  Which is fine, he’s one of my few liberal acquaintances who is actually willing to engage in a serious discussions of the issues of the day.  We had a marathon session one night at my house while enjoying a bottle of whiskey which was a very pleasant experience.

So anyway, a few days ago he posted this on his Facebook page:

Here’s something I want to cautiously offer to the conversation – while we’ve been having important conversations about tolerance and silly arguments about free speech, more and more attention is being given to a media figure who’s real life has been managed and distorted into a stereotype of a poor person. That stereotype simply isn’t the whole picture, just take a look at the picture of the Duck Dynasty family from a few year back included in this article. Let’s try to see more of the picture, and also think a bit about who benefits from the perpetuation of the stereotypes.

From the article: ‘As long as we keep our concerns on the ideological bigotry expressed by one type of loser in the system, no one notices the corporate or government policies and practices that are the real problem. While all eyes are on the poor, rural, white, Southern bigot, we fail to see the owners of media corporations sitting comfortably in their mansions making decisions about which hilarious down-trodden stereotype to trot out next. Sexist, homophobic, and racist ideology gets a voice, while those who really benefit laugh all the way to the bank.’

And here’s the article he linked.  Give it a read and then come on back.

I wasn’t going to respond at all because I could see in the FB comments that the article was blood in the water for the lefty sharks who follow him.  But with the article still in mind and my holiday magnanimity satiated,  I wrote the following comment:

I hesitated weighing in on this because I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty and didn’t believe that anyone who watches “reality” programs of this ilk actually think of them as real. But I read the linked article anyway and came away wondering what was more astounding–the smug arrogance or the blatant hypocrisy. And talk about stereotypes! All the liberal gospels right up front and center. You’ve got your classism, evil corporate exploitation, conservatives as racists, and oh yeah, “white privilege” all together at last! And make no mistake, the article did in fact call Robertson a bigot in the classical sense of the word.

I don’t personally care what Robertson says or believes, I don’t care if he is faux redneck, and I don’t care if A&E cancels his silly show. I don’t expect he does either. In the grand scheme of things this kerfuffle is just another pointless distraction from the issues that should matter most to the American people. But since we are on the subject I want to state once again how personally offended I am by this whole pseudo-science doctrine of white privilege. How is it different from any other race based stereotype?

Now, just a couple of weeks ago I was reading how incensed y’all were about the college professor who was taken to task for offending her white students by calling them out for their obvious (to her) guilt of being members of a privileged race. But hey, she’s got as much right to her religious beliefs as anyone, right? I just don’t understand the double-standard being applied to Robertson. I for one like the concept of a free marketplace of ideas, even the ones I don’t personally care for. I just wish my friends on the left could be so open-minded and inclusive.

But I digress. You wanted a conversation about stereotypes of the poor. Well, guess what? We are not as yet a collective and most folks can think for themselves and tend to act in an individualistic manner. Robertson no more represents the poor than does the “welfare queens” or “gang bangers” we see frequently on display in popular media. A media controlled largely by the left, if political donations to democrats are any indication. But the reality is people don’t fit in the neat little boxes to which they’ve been assigned by their intellectual betters. And that’s a good thing I reckon. Otherwise, as a person who believes in limited government I’d be nothing but a racist, homophobic, Tea Partier, right?

The best article I’ve read on this subject serves as a nice counterpoint to the one you linked. I humbly invite you to take a step outside of the echo chamber and give it a read. If you dare!  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/angsty-emo-outrage-and-ducks/

Glen Reynolds had the best line I’ve seen on the topic: “A&E is now cancelling “Duck Dynasty” and replacing it with a new show about life in the White House. It will be called “Duck Responsibility.”

Tweet for tat

Call me a dinosaur if you will, but I don’t use Twitter.  But I sometimes encounter “tweets” as I plumb the depths of the internets in my daily quest for photographs of scantily clad women a broader understanding of the issues of the day.  One of the minor controversies taking shape of late revolves around this column by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post.   Now, I don’t read much of what Cohen writes and I care even less about what he thinks.  I find him to be an intellectually dishonest sycophant whose opinions are little more than a regurgitation of left wing talking points.  But I guess even mindless liberals can stray too far off the reservation at times.  In the column linked above Cohen talks about how the extremist Tea Party types are little more than misogynist, homophobic, racist hatemongers.  Eh, what else is new was my reaction.

What makes this kerfuffle somewhat interesting is the reaction of Cohen’s fellow travelers.  In penning his vitriol some folks on the left believe Cohen inadvertently outted himself as, well, a misogynist, homophobic, racist hatemonger.  And the tweets started flying.  I find it all mildly amusing.

Long time readers will know that I generally support what the Tea Party represents.  Essentially, that means less taxes (we are after all Taxed Enough Already) and a smaller, less intrusive federal government.   Those issues have nothing to do with interracial marriage, gay rights, abortion rights, or any other form of bigotry.  The fact that some on the left (and right for that matter) want to demonize the Tea Party and its adherents tells me that the powers that be are truly terrified of this increasingly popular grassroots movement.

Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers who doesn’t weigh in much on political topics lists his tweets in the sidebar.  And that is where I found this gem: “I’m not a Tea Partier myself, but I find the blind slagging of the Tea Party to be evidence of great ignorance.”  He also included a link to this piece on the Cohen controversy which pretty much captures where I stand.

Now, you may be thinking “if that’s the case, why didn’t you just link to that article and be done with it?”  To which I can only respond “because”.  Which also explains why I don’t tweet.  Why limit yourself to 140 characters when you can say the same thing in 400 words?

Saving the world one city at a time

The collapse of Detroit has of course been much in the news of late.  Detropia does a nice job of documenting the decline of this once great city.  A quick Google search reveals hundreds of articles and opinion pieces from all  points on the political spectrum pontificating about the root causes of Detroit’s death spiral and its implications (or lack thereof) for the rest of America.  Paul Krugman (bless his Nobel Laureate heart) weighed in blaming the fall of Detroit on urban sprawl (shhh, nobody tell Los Angeles!).  All of which of course ignores the elephant that truly devoured Detroit: political corruption, union cronyism, and irresponsible short-sightedness of greedy corporate executives.  Or take your pick. See, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

But really, as Hillary Clinton might say, what does it matter now?  Our focus should turn to how we fix the mess that was once one of America’s richest cities.  Now, the mayor of Boston had a pretty good plan–blow it up and start all over again.  Assuming that course of action may be a bit extreme for my gentle readers, let’s look for something else.  A Facebook friend posted this story on why Toronto is succeeding while the rest of the rust belt is, well, rusting.  The solution proposed is to bring in a bunch of immigrants and repopulate the city.  Which is a fine plan I suppose except for the parts about there being no jobs and the city can’t be expected to provide much in the way of social services when it can’t even keep the streetlights burning.  Lord knows though, there is plenty of available housing.  Unfortunately, Detroit can’t even give houses away these days because no one can afford the outrageous property taxes.  So, adding more jobless people (even if they are not homeless) won’t fix Detroit’s problems.

We need a radical solution here and after stewing on the problems for awhile I came up with a plan.  Let me present to you The Free City of Detroit.  My idea is sort of built around the concept of Free Trade Zones, but with much, much more to entice people, and just as importantly, businesses and manufacturing back into this forlorn and nearly abandoned city.

Here’s how it works.  Residents of Detroit will still have to pay federal and state income taxes (I just don’t see a Constitutionally viable way around that).  However, under the Charter of the Free City of Detroit all those taxes will be refunded to the city.  With that money the city will be able to provide necessary services and infrastructure making the city a much more pleasant environment in which to live.  But more importantly, the city would not be permitted to impose any additional taxes on people or businesses.  No sales tax, no property tax, no business licensing fees, no corporate taxes.  It’s a Free City after all.  Any federal or state tax dollars not spent by the city would be returned to the people–not unlike what Alaska does with it’s oil revenues.  Think about it–you could actually be paid to live in Detroit!  It would also be a good way to keep the politicians in check (more on that later)–the people would not stand idly by when money is wastefully spent that would otherwise be in their wallets.  The beauty is that the more people who move back to Detroit (along with  the businesses that support and employ them) the richer the city becomes.

But wait there’s more!  In a Free City the only laws that would be enforced are those reasonable and necessary to protect property and the people from violence.  Gambling, prostitution, drugs–all legal in the Free City of Detroit!  No longer will residents be victims of victimless crimes.  Just making drugs legally available would go a long way to reducing violent crime.  Here’s some science to back up that claim.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a libertarian paradise like the Free City of Detroit?

Alright, let me answer the questions the preceding paragraph may have sent careening through your brain.  Most federal laws and regulations would still apply, unless specifically exempted by Congress.  I’m not looking to have workers unprotected, so OSHA standards would remain in place.  And any racists out there should not rejoice, the equal protection clause of the Constitution (and all other Amendments) would guard the rights of all citizens.  Feel a little better now?

But what about jobs?   Detroit didn’t lose it’s historic manufacturing base because of some inescapable natural phenomenon.  Rather they were driven away by an unholy trinity of high taxes, unsupportable wages and benefits, and corporate greed.  Well, I’ve already addressed the tax issue.  Michigan has adopted right-to-work laws which should keep jobs protected from unscrupulous union demands.  And hell, corporate greed is what will bring the jobs back!  Automobile manufacturers are building cars for a profit in Tennessee and Alabama.  If you make it cheaper to build them in the Free City of Detroit, they’ll come rushing back to do so.

Finally, the toughest nut to crack might be political corruption.  Lord knows that played a significant role in the demise of old Detroit.  So, I propose a five member board of governors to rule the city.  And given that I have a certain fondness for democratic principles, the Chair of that board would be elected.  The other four would be appointed to represent the various constituencies with an interest in the health and welfare of the city: one from the State, one from the Feds, one for corporate interests, and one for small business owners.  They would be required to manage the city in strict accordance with the terms of the Charter, and no funds could be dispersed for any purpose other than for the overall interest of the city at large as determined by a majority of the Board of Governors.  As a safeguard, the Board would also be limited to 3 year terms with no reappointment or reelection.  Not perfect, but what is in this world?

So there you have it.  A viable plan to save the city of Detroit by destroying it (without bombs of course!).  And from the ashes of failure a new and free Detroit will arise, built on the principles of freedom, justice, and good old fashioned American ingenuity.  Have you heard any better options?

Yes we can!  Do we have the courage and foresight to try another way?

Yes we can! Do we have the courage and foresight to try another way?

Mordor in their hearts?

Uncle Sam is watching You!

Uncle Sam is watching You!

I don’t delve much into politics these days here at LTG.  It’s not that I don’t care or that I don’t often think about how everything is seemingly spinning out of control.  I’m just in a state of despair I suppose because I don’t see any viable fix on the horizon.  The Democrats are worthless scoundrels, and the Republicans are two-faced bastards.  Neither party seems interested in moving beyond meaningless platitudes and red meat rhetoric offered for consumption of each side’s political base.  The ineptitude and corruption of our political class provides little hope that there will ever be a serious discussion about the critical issues facing our nation.

Having said that, I’m prompted to write about the NSA spying scandal by this article in Slate.  The authors make a case that it was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings rather than Orwell’s 1984 that better predicted our modern surveillance state.  Their basic premise being that the Eye of Sauron “saw” everything, yet missed what was in plain sight.  Having spent a career watching how the federal government makes it’s sausage, I can attest that having absolute power over the lives of us proles citizens does not necessarily breed competence.  It is telling that despite the fact that the NSA was invading the privacy of millions of Americans (and with a warning from the Russian government as well) our security agencies were unable to stop the Boston bombers.

Am I prepared to accept that our government overseers have the same evil intent as the Dark Lord?  I don’t want to believe it.  I’m most troubled by the fact that the NSA blatantly lied to it’s Congressional oversight committee about its activities.  When the bureaucracy flaunts the law and ignores the checks and balances the Constitution provides for our protection with impunity, our liberty is in peril.  The politically motivated shenanigans at the IRS amply demonstrates just how far down that slippery slope we’ve traveled.

And while I agree that freedom can easily be sacrificed on the alter of national security, I’m not prepared to accept a terrorist nuclear attack on a major U.S. city in exchange for a less intrusive government monitoring program.  On the one hand, you have to believe in the good intentions of your government.  On the other, nothing in the news these days inspires much confidence that our government can or should be trusted.  How bad is it?  I started to write my Congressman asking him to intercede with USCIS to speed up the processing of Jee Yeun’s green card.  I decided against it because I feared that I would be subjected to retaliation if I rocked the boat.  Maybe I’m just paranoid, but then again, maybe I should be.

It’s a thought provoking article.  Give it a read.

 When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny. – Thomas Paine

 

What he said

This pretty much sums up my political philosophy as it relates to the purpose and necessity of government.

It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve. – Henry George

If you could burn farts for fuel…

…we wouldn’t be in this mess.  C’mon, you know it’s true.

gas-prices.jpg

In California people double the value of their car every time they fill the tank!

Energy Secretary Cho said it was desirable for U.S. fuel prices to rise to European levels.  Finally, an Obama administration success!

Meanwhile we sit on oil reserves equal to all the known reserves in the Middle East.  Unemployment soars, and we won’t drill oil, build pipelines, and jump start the economy by reducing our dependence on expensive imported oil.

I keep hearing Obama talk about raising taxes on the middle class.  Hell, the price of gas has almost doubled on his watch.  And that has a disproportionate impact on the poor and working class.

The country is in the very best of hands.