Doubts about Climate Change

Old timers like Jeremiah recall that winters used to be longer and colder.  Old photos in ski lodges invariably show more snowpack and a bigger glacier.  There can be little doubt about climate change.  One can, however, doubt the policy response.

Do you agree with President Obama, that climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity?  Jeremiah can find, without exerting himself, at least a billion people who feel more imminently threatened by hunger.


Among resource crises, the shortage of fresh water is easily more urgent.  With oil at $40 a barrel, the world’s desalination plants should be running flat out.  Alas, water is universally mispriced and so squandered.

A global outreach to discourage meat would go a long way.  Raising animals for food is an egregious waste of resources, especially fresh water.  Plus, livestock produce methane, a much worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The root cause of our resource problems is overpopulation.  So, why not a global program to promote birth control?  Better yet, a global program (backed by sanctions and incentives) to mandate equal rights for women.  You can’t go wrong emancipating half the world, plus – fertility drops off sharply once women stop being chattel.

 “Population policy has been abandoned in recent decades. It is barely mentioned in discussions on sustainability or development” – Simon Ross

Why are the world’s policy makers focused on climate change, a distant and secondary effect, instead of root causes and immediate returns?  There is no logic to it, unless we apply our imagination and think like a criminal.

State control over energy is the mother lode of political rent seeking.  Politicians wielding this power can make or break any company they choose.  Those who donate generously can be rewarded with “green energy” grants.  Those who don’t can be sanctioned, without much evidence.

You can’t do that with birth control.

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Up the Establishment

This election season provides further evidence, if any were needed, that our two political parties are merely two prongs of the same pitchfork.  Let’s start with the Republicans.  The Republicans, through laxity or inattention, failed to smother the insurgency of Donald Trump.  This prompted the hilarious spectacle of Republican pundits like George Will bailing out of the party, averring they would rather see a Democrat in the White House.

There are plenty of reasons not to like Donald Trump, but – not if you’re a Republican.  If there are really such important differences between the parties, then surely Will, Krauthammer, et al. would prefer to see their guy win, no?  Maybe you disrespect him in the primary, because maybe he can’t win in the general, but once he wins the primary, you shut up.  Trump, furthermore, did not merely win the primary, he crushed it by a margin unprecedented in party history.

The Democratic establishment did a better job of rigging their primary, with the help of party hack “super” delegates.  At the appointed time (and long before the votes were tallied) friendly media called it in Hillary’s favor.  Not for nothing is it called the Clinton News Network.

This was supposed to be another Bush versus Clinton contest, with either outcome safe for the ruling class.  We would have been treated to the usual non-debate about reforming our so-called capitalism and reining in the welfare state.  Now, the pundits are stymied.  What is Bill Kristol going to say against Sec. Clinton, when she is as much a neocon as he is?

On foreign policy, Clinton is somewhere to right of Sen. John McCain.  She has backed all the Mideast wars, including the utterly indefensible bombing of Libya.  She supports all the international trade agreements, except for her poll-driven epiphany on the TPP, and she is the darling of Wall Street.  If you think she is out of step with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, you’re right.

Clinton is basically a Republican or, more to the point, this distinction between Republicans and Democrats is a sham.  There is only the establishment.  Without a candidate of their own, establishment Republicans will have to support Hillary.

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Moving to Canada

People are saying they will flee to Canada if Donald Trump is elected.  Canada has already endured waves of disgruntled Americans fleeing George W. Bush, and then President Obama.  The Trump case is funny, though, because of The Donald’s position on immigration.  One Twitter wag suggested that Canada should build a wall.

To gain permanent residency in Canada, you must have a sponsor, a trade, references, a background check, and speak either English or French.  The process takes at least two years.  If you sneak in and overstay your visa, you will not be able to get a driver’s license, a health card, a job, or rent an apartment.  The RCMP will hunt you down and send you back.

So, people who are offended by Trump’s remarks about immigration plan to protest by burdening the immigration system of our northern neighbor.  Funny, eh?  The only thing funnier would be if they tried moving to Mexico.

See also: Arizona has rights, too

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Utopia, Do Not Enter

People who claim to know the ultimate, perfected state of society are dangerous maniacs.  This claim is in the same category as perpetual motion and quack cures for cancer, only more dangerous.  The patient may choose his own treatment, but a utopian will foist his delusion on us all.

Obviously, if you are working to bring about paradise on Earth, you have a license to kill.  Utopia is worth any sacrifice of human dignity.

This has been going on from Aristotle to Marx, and the victims never wise up.  When Plato writes about his “philosopher king,” whom do you suppose he has in mind?  We must have the gold people to rule over the bronze people, the shepherds to lead the flock.  That’s right – the flock.  Sheep.

Marx claimed that his utopia was the inevitable result of inexorable “laws of history” that he, alone, had discovered.  LOL.  Gee, Karl, if it’s inevitable, maybe we don’t need to put quite so many people in the gulag!  Utopia probably doesn’t need a barbed wire fence to keep people from escaping.

Perfect societies like Aristotle’s usually depend on a caste system, which the inventor has to justify.  In fairness to Marx, he was hoping for some kind of self-organizing collective.  In practice, though, you get the Party, and the Party rules just like any other despot.

The needs of society outweigh the rights of the individual.

The first thing to consider when you read this stuff – especially if you are reading it in school – is the plight of someone not born into the ruling class.  Would you have any kind of social mobility?  Would you have any free will at all?  Often, the answer is simply “no.”

Individuals exist to serve the greater good.  The metaphor of a beehive is invoked, which sounds lovely until you actually think about it.  Fascists love to say that “the needs of society outweigh the rights of the individual.”  This is great if you are the one implementing the needs of society – not so great for the individual whose rights are outweighed.

Individual freedom must be the basis of any just society.  Beyond that are philosophical questions about where individuals’ rights may conflict, how much power to delegate to the government, etc.  The real work lies in creating institutions that appropriately safeguard the rights of the people, joint and several, and then revising the institutions over time.

This is an incremental, and difficult, process wherein society may improve steadily over time.  Anyone who has worked at it will tell you that “better than before” is sufficiently grand.  Someone claiming to know the ultimate answer is either clinically insane – or a charlatan.

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Allegiance to the Flag

Nationalism is on the march, and not only in America.  Britain wants to leave the EU, and Scotland wants to leave Britain.  Across Europe, nation states are erecting barriers as they come to disagree with immigrations policy made in Brussels.

It’s nice to see the nationalists have their day, if only because the globalists have been on top since the Clinton administration.  To be honest, nationalism has a poor record.  It is associated with ugly tendencies like xenophobia and war.  On the other hand, globalism is the enemy of democracy.

The larger any government’s span of control, the less responsive it is … and the sums available for graft are larger.

You can see undemocratic processes at work today in Brussels and Washington.  Now imagine if the whole world were ruled out of Davos.  The policies go by different names, but globalism is a coherent movement with its own leaders and institutions.  The Council on Foreign Relations thinks that Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. should be a single administrative unit.  That’s no secret.  They published a white paper, and then we got NAFTA.

It is important to understand the tension between globalism and nationalism.  President Obama is on the record as a globalist.  This is why he recently visited London and advocated for Britain to stay in the European Union.  It is also why The Economist always, always labels nationalist parties in Europe as “racist,” “neo-Nazi,” or at least “far right extreme.”

Jeremiah, as you know, eschews labels and generalizations.  There is a balance to be achieved between national sovereignty and global institutions.  Free trade, for example, has lifted millions out of poverty.  Even as Americans have lost jobs and earning power, we have gained access to cheap foreign goods.  The right balance is one struck by negotiation among self-interested leaders of sovereign states.

Democracy works better at smaller scales.  British voters can be reasonably confident of influencing policy in London.  In Brussels, not so much.  Not only immigrations policy, but monetary policy, environmental and trade regulation, and foreign policy are made there, “one size fits all,” for Europe.

The larger any government’s span of control, the less responsive it is.  Leaders are physically more distant, and the sums available for graft are larger.  The right solution is smaller units of government, delegating strictly limited responsibilities to a federal system – kind of like our Constitution.  Does anybody still read that?

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The Panama Papers

713a3bf3b4f11189c343857ff640f697There is much to be learned from the famous “Panama Papers,” both in their content and in the manner of their disclosure.  The superficial reading, widely published, is that lots of bad people used a certain Panamanian law firm to help hide their ill-gotten wealth.

Naturally, we presume that everyone with a foreign bank account is at least engaging in criminal tax evasion, and probably stole the money to begin with.  The presumed criminals in this case include, not Russian President Putin himself, but his “close associates.”

One theory is that the attempt to smear Mr. Putin was so amateurish that it must have been planned, counterintuitively, by Russian intelligence.

Bank accounts not readily available for confiscation (remember Cyprus) are always in “offshore tax havens,” which has that wonderful Pirates of the Caribbean ring to it.  The mere fact of Mitt Romney owning a blind trust in the Caymans was enough to smear him as a tax dodging fat cat.  A blind trust, hello!  Does anybody on CNN even know what that is?

Here is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal reminding us that, for many of the nationalities featured in los papeles, honest people move their money offshore because their government is corrupt.  Simon Black takes this a step further, warning ordinary Americans to take their money offshore.

Last year, the US government stole more money and private property from its citizens through civil asset forfeiture than all the thieves and felons in the country combined.

The legal issue in each case is whether any tax laws were broken.  The more interesting issue, especially for public figures, is where they obtained the money in the first place.  This may also involve illegal, or at least suspicious, activity.

Oddly, few Western politicians have been implicated.  This could be the result of Western media controlling the disclosures, or our own crooks could simply be using a different law firm.

Some have suggested that this firm was targeted specifically because of its client list.  It is a referral business, after all.  One theory is that the attempt to smear Mr. Putin was so amateurish that it must have been planned, counterintuitively, by Russian intelligence – a “false flag leak,” if you will.

The one indisputable victim here is Panama itself.  The EU and the IMF have long wanted to crack down on Panama as a “tax haven,” as they have previously cracked down on Switzerland.  Financier George Soros supports global tax regulation, and he also supports the agency that broke the story, the ICIJ.

You know this was the motive because the first thing printed in The Economist was a call for – get this – a global registry of beneficial owners.  Do you really think the global tax police will be looking for their own masters’ money?  No, no, no, querido.  They will be looking for your money.

See also:  New World Currency

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Alien Invasion

You fled the daily dangers of a threadbare dictatorship – the violence, the corrupt officials, and the armed factions. You came here in search of a better life, to find work, and safety, and a future for your children. No one can blame you for that. We welcome you, but with some trepidation.

Immigration without assimilation is just another name for “invasion.”

We fear that you will import the very attitudes and beliefs that made a wreck of your former home. Maybe not you, personally, but many of your kind seem to reject our culture and our way of life. Worse, they affect a moral superiority, as if they are the righteous ones and we are somehow evil because we have been successful.

We fear that, once you have the numbers, you will recreate your native laws and institutions. Stop and think about that, for a moment. It will not serve your interests to make in our home a replica of the very system which you have fled. You would only be carrying the seeds of your own (and our) destruction. If you can’t grasp that, maybe you don’t belong here. Maybe you should go back to California.

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