Category Archives: Culture

Bad Law Keeps People Poor, by John Stossel

It’s amazing how few people ever ascribe pervasive poverty to bad laws, which produce bad governments and corruption. From John Stossel at townhall.com:

Why does most of Africa stay poor while other parts of the world prosper?

People blame things like climate, the history of colonialism, racism, etc.

But I say Senegalese businesswoman Magatte Wade gives the right explanation: too many rules.

“Once you hire someone, good luck getting rid of them for any reason,” Wade complains. Her government must approve every firing.

“Then the tax code is so complicated… worth at least two or three truckloads of paper.”

Wade started a lip balm company. Some of her ingredients are not made in Senegal, so she imports them. To “protect” Senegalese manufacturers, the government makes importing ingredients expensive.

“Some have a 70% import tariff on them!” she says.

President Donald Trump now threatens similar taxes on imports from China. In Africa, people sometimes escape such taxes by paying bribes. We hear a lot about African corruption.

“People complain about corruption as if corruption is a root problem,” says Wade. “I say no. Corruption is a natural consequence of stupid, senseless, idiot laws.”

Continue reading

Advertisements

All along the watchtower: The follies of history, by Pepe Escobar

The US wants to bring China to heel; there’s no way China is going to allow that to happen. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

All along the watchtower: The follies of history

Bayon temple, Angkor World Heritage site in Siem Reap, northern Cambodia. File pic by Bruno Morandi, Robert Harding Heritage / AFP
The ultimate American imperial dream is to engineer a Chinese vassal state

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief

Business men, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None were level on the mind
Nobody up at his word

-Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower (immortalized by Jimi Hendrix)

Nothing beats the beguiling, stony smiles at the Bayon temple near Angkor Wat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap to plunge us back into history’s vortex, re-imagining how empires, in their endless pursuit of power, rise and fall, usually because they eventually get the very war they had sought to avoid.

The Bayon was built as a state temple at the end of the 12th century by the undisputed superstar of Khmer empires, Jayavarman VII. Its magical narrative reliefs convey a mix of history and mythology while depicting daily life in Khmer society.

We still don’t know today the identity of the faces shown on the temple’s giant stone carvings. They could be a representation of Brahma, or of Jayavarman himself – a practicing Buddhist. What we do know is that the glorious Khmer empire – incomparable in art and architecture, and even benign in the sense that the mandate for power was based on the king’s relationship with the gods, started to fade after the 15th century, dismembered by war against the Thai and later the Vietnamese.

Continue reading

The Yin and the Yang of It, by James Howard Kunstler

Hysteria has become a goal in and of itself. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The New York Times staffers wanted to change the paper’s longstanding motto, All the News That’s Fit to Print, to something more cutting edge, more of-the-moment, more congenial with the crypto-gnostic social justice impetus to change human nature in order to make the world a better place.

My personal suggestion was All the News That’s Fit to Print for Angry, Hysterical Women and Their Intersectional Allies, since The New York Times is now an advocacy rag, but the staff choice apparently is The Truth is Worth It — or perhaps The Times paid some Madison Avenue logo engineers for that.

And one is prompted to ask: worth what, exactly? If “truth” actually amounts to “lived experience,” as The Times insists, then truth can be whatever you say it is — the bedrock ethos of all tyrannical political movements. To me, The Truth is Worth It sounds suspiciously like The Ends Justify the Means, and anyone following the so-called Resistance the past three years may have noticed that’s exactly how it operates.

For instance, Resistance team captain Elizabeth Warren referred the other day to the 2014 “murder” of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri “by a white policeman.” Of course, Ms. Warren was speaking her “truth.” Now, it happens that the US Department of Justice under Eric Holder (this was the Obama administration) determined that it was not murder, as did an inquiry by the State of Missouri — rather that Mr. Brown was shot after attacking officer Darren Wilson in his police car and attempting to grab his gun.

Did Senator Warren not believe former attorney general Holder? Was there some other authoritative opinion she was referencing? Or was she just making shit up on-the-fly to juice an audience? Could she have had any other purpose than to provoke racial animus? Is that what this country needs? More tension between blacks and whites? More reason for suspicion and hatred? Is that where you want leadership to lead you?

Senator Warren’s remark pretty obviously demonstrates the Resistance’s tenuous relationship with reality. Her rival, Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted out substantially the same thing last Friday. Do they actually believe what they are saying, or is it simply a tactical move because it’s worth it to stir up racial animosity if you want to become president? The media gave both of them a pass on that ploy.

A few weeks ago, podcaster Dave Rubin had “spiritual teacher” Eckhart Tolle on for a chat, and Mr. Tolle made the surprising remark that the current sorrows of the world were due to an excess of yin and not enough yang, meaning, he went on to explain, too much of the female principle in operation and not enough of the male principle. This crack made Dave Rubin blink a few times, especially coming from the most serene celebrity on the planet, a fellow far less excitable than the Dalai Lama, and a demigod to the yoga pants and Chai tea crowd. Too much yin! He said that? Really?

Mr. Tolle is onto something. Just take, for instance, a recent column by The New York Times’s op-ed writer Gail Collins: How to Torture Trump. Could she have put it more plainly? Does she not sound like a woman who has gotten advice from an unscrupulous divorce lawyer (excuse the redundancy)? In fact, the USA is looking like a really bad marriage. The yin of America is stuck in an hysterical rage at the yang. Cis-men whose lived experience includes marriage may be familiar with this stratagem. The prudent men often opt to not engage with the hysteria, which almost invariably amps up the hysteria.

The aim of the national matrimonial hysteria is to make sure that whatever conflict is at issue remains unresolved. The melodrama goes on for its own sake. It’s fun living on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That is exactly why the US political scene is so disordered and distressed. That is why the Democratic Party can’t find any credible male candidates. And that is how come the country happened to elect an imperturbable Golden Golem of Greatness.

 

America’s Late-stage Decadence, by Doug Casey

America is an empire in decline. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

America's Decadence

International Man: Economically, politically, and socially, the United States seems to be headed down a path that’s not only inconsistent with the founding principles of the country but accelerating quickly toward boundless decay.

The word “decadence” is often associated with the fall of the Roman Empire, which became morally corrupt—its people lazy, wasteful, and lacking discipline. Many observers have pointed out the US is similarly becoming decedent. How do you see it?

Doug Casey: There’s no question about it; the culture in the US is changing. Where to start? It’s a book-length subject. One thing that absolutely amazes me is that the term “cultural appropriation” has become a buzzword for a lot of people today. The concept is actually completely insane.

It’s bizarre—perverse, really—that the people doing the most whining about cultural appropriation by Americans don’t actually have worthwhile cultures themselves. The fact of the matter is that the only culture in the history of the world that amounts to anything is that of Western civilization. The West has given all of humanity concepts like freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, free markets, individualism, science, and rationality. In addition, the West has created almost all of the world’s great music, literature, architecture, and philosophy

People trying to make cultural appropriation on the part of Americans into a scandal are basically scam artists and race hustlers. I’m talking about blacks who are outraged about white women wearing African earrings. Or Hispanics picketing a couple of white girls who set up a taco stand after visiting Mexico.

Continue reading

Who Precisely Are “the Vulnerable”? by Paul Craig Roberts

Anyone can declare him or herself anything he or she wants, and then declare him or herself a victim. However, only certain claims to victimhood shall be recognized. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

Some readers, both male and female, wondered why I came to the defense of feminist Laura Tanner ( https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/07/17/free-speech-no-longer-exists-in-us-universities/ ).  Why not, I was asked, let a MeTwo babe experience the name-calling and stress  that feminists dish out to men and “women apologists for men”?

Justice is part of the answer.  Another part of the answer is that “Western civilization” is creating new victim groups so rapidly that older victim groups are becoming victims of the new.  The Tanner case is a case in which a feminist “victim” of male misogyny hasn’t the clout of a transgender advocate.  It is not clear whether Tanner’s persecutor, Kremina Youssef, is a transgender or just an advocate for transgender “victims.”

Regardless, it is Laura whose career is on the line for expressing an opinion, not the career of Kremina for expressing her opinion. 

The older terms “privileged minority” and “preferred minority”  are giving way to “vulnerable minority.”  The older terms had an honesty whereas the “vulnerable” designation resides in a lie. 

Those who are said to be “vulnerable” actually have all the power. Tanner, who expressed her opinion outside the university that it is not possible to be born into the wrong body and, therefore, a person in a male body is a male, has discovered that her free speech rights are null and void because Youssef is distressed.  It is Tanner, not Youssef, who is vulnerable.

Continue reading

Bowling Alone: How Washington Has Helped Destroy American Civil Society and Family Life, by Alex

America was once a country with a thriving civic culture. No more.  From Alex at ammo.com:

Church attendance in the United States is at an all-time low, according to a Gallup poll released in April 2019. This decline has not been a steady one. Indeed, over the last 20 years, church attendance has fallen by 20 percent. This might not sound like cause for concern off the bat. And if you’re not a person of faith, you might rightly wonder why you would care about such a thing.

Church attendance is simply a measure of something deeper: social cohesion. It’s worth noting that the religions with the highest rate of attendance according to Pew Forum have almost notoriously high levels of social cohesion: Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelical Protestants, Mormons and historically black churches top the list.

There’s also the question of religious donations. Religious giving has declined by 50 percent since 1990, according to a 2016 article in the New York Times. This means people who previously used religious services to make ends meet now either have to go without or receive funding from the government. This, in turn, strengthens the central power of the state.

It is our position that civil society – those elements of society which exist independently of big government and big business – are essential to a functioning and free society. What’s more, these institutions are in rapid decline in the United States, and have been for over 50 years.

Continue reading→

 

It Is What It Is, by Doug “Uncola” Lynn

“It is what it is” is essentially a tautology, but it has become a catchphrase for a variety of sentiments. From Doug “Uncola” Lynn at theburningplatform.com:

I was in a gathering of folks when a dispute escalated between a husband and wife over what has now become the title of this article.  During our discussion someone recited those words and the wife divulged how much she hated that statement.  After quietly listening to the exchange for a few moments, the husband spoke up and said:  “Well that must be more proof of how opposites attract, because I LOVE that phrase and I say it all the time!

Which may have been part of the reason why the wife disliked the expression, but I wasn’t about to go there.

Instead, I mentioned how that particular shibboleth of sortswas surely defined in the minds of the beholders.  On the one hand, its utterance could be an excuse – even a fatalistic expression derived from laziness or defeatism.  Or, like the purveyor of produce in Ayn Rand’s epic tome, “Atlas Shrugged” – when Dagny Taggart asked the grocery vendor why she didn’t move her product from out of the sun and into the shade and her reply was:  “Because it’s always been that way”.

Oh, the world sucks?  Of course it does.  Why bother.

It is what is.

Continue reading→