Monthly Archives: April 2013

Happy, Productive Workers

Here is an upbeat article from Bloomberg about vocational education, echoing what Jeremiah has recommended apropos our trillion dollar student loan “crisis.”

America for too long has attempted a cookie-cutter approach to secondary education: stay in school, go to college

Bloomberg also refers to new research from the Gates Foundation.  It makes a number of sensible recommendations, particularly for “Pell A” adult education – like paying for summer classes.

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Resist Nazi Bailouts!

nazi-merkelThe various tactics used by the ECB to bail out failing Euro nations all amount to the same thing – transfers of wealth from German taxpayers to bankrupt nations in the South.

This is not to play on national stereotypes.  Individual Greeks may work as hard as individual Germans.  Their elected leaders, however, have followed unsustainable policies.  Greece did not go bankrupt through random chance – nor Italy, nor Spain.

Corrupt, bloated and inefficient, its public administration has come to a standstill; tax officers no longer able to receive bribes or kickbacks have simply stopped working.

German leaders did their proper job of balancing the national budget, curtailing social spending, fighting inflation, raising the retirement age, raising tax revenue, and stimulating industrial production.  Now, the EU is asking Germany to shoulder the debt burden accumulated by years of feckless policy elsewhere on the continent.  It is simply infeasible, not to mention immoral and illegal.

The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities.

The founding treaty specifically forbids sovereign bailouts.  Much of the energy exerted by EU and ECB deliberations, since the crisis began, has been in circumventing these provisions.  Not only the news media, but official representatives, have branded Germany “selfish” for not pitching in more, and for attaching strict terms about repayment.

Pity Chancellor Merkel.  At home, German voters wonder why they must pay to support foreign spending.  Abroad, she is reviled for not being more liberal with German money.  The correct response would have been “nein, danke,” right from the beginning.

We would stand on the “no bailouts”’ clause and, if these other countries cannot manage an internal devaluation, as Estonia did, then they are welcome to quit the Euro and devalue some other way.  The spite could not possibly have been worse, and Germany would be billions ahead.

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Breaking Some Eggs

stalinThe Economist reviews a new biography of Joseph Stalin which places the ruthless dictator in his historical context.  This is a valuable endeavor.  We gain a false sense of security by dismissing the Stalins of the world as one-off maniacs.  Jeremiah does not believe in one-off maniacs.  He believes that historical circumstances will find their own leaders.

Leninist to his core, he was conspiratorial, lethal, cynical and utterly convinced of his own rightness.

Stalin’s behavior was entirely rational, for a committed Communist.  If you want to force a nation into this new, exalted, social order – you may have to kill a few million misfits, for the greater good.  People pursuing this “greater good” are capable of any atrocity.

Jeremiah was immediately reminded of Iron Curtain, and that’s in the review, too.  See also:  Iron Fist Dictator You Deserve

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Stand with Rand

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has split with leading Republicans over the legal status of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  This marks him as a man of principle, and a contender for Jeremiah’s Centrist Hall of Fame.  Like his father, Senator Paul defies classification because his opinions come from a place of consistency – not the situational morality of our traditional right and left.

Think about it.  If you were studying to be a senator for either party, you would have to learn the positions by rote – this kind of freedom is good, but that other freedom is bad.  They just don’t make sense.  The Paul family has developed a framework that is logically consistent.  Jeremiah imagines them sitting around the dining table, figuring it out – or, maybe they have read the Constitution.

See also:  The Upper-Right Wing

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Nigerian Vouchers

NgoziWe just wanted an excuse to rerun our photo of Nigeria’s lovely and talented finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.  Africa’s second largest economy has just implemented a voucher program

This is not for school choice, as in America, but a fertilizer subsidy for needy farmers.  As the Nigerian agriculture minister put it:

We were subsidizing corruption.  We were not subsidizing farmers.

This is one of Jeremiah’s rules for public spending.  If you want to give a subsidy, give it directly to the people, not sticky fingered administrators.  Of course, there is no corruption in America, but – we wonder if the administration of, say, education or health insurance, might benefit from the Nigerian treatment.   

See also:  Black Kids Need Good Schools

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Like a Lynch Mob

BIQIQC6CYAEwNQl.jpg largeIt was a little unseemly, the crowds rejoicing and chanting “U.S.A.”  The Sox didn’t win the Series, folks.  What happened was that the perpetrators of an awful crime were brought to justice.  That should be a solemn occasion.  Our dead are still dead.  The wounded are mostly still in hospital.

The entire procedure went past the bounds of simply catching a criminal.  Here are some things we can live without:

  • Armored personnel carriers.  Six or seven squad cars are enough to lock down Jeremiah’s neighborhood.  This little girl does not need to see military vehicles in her street.
  • The suspects presumed guilty.  We have confidence in the FBI.  These are probably the guys who did it – but we don’t know for sure.  What if that were your son in the grainy photograph?
  • Door-to-door searches.  This is the tactic that galvanized our enemies in Iraq.  Along with closing the airports and the rest of it, this was basically martial law.  Was it really necessary?

We’re all for catching bad guys, but this episode seemed a bit over the top – the martial law, the mob mentality.  It’s too easy to imagine this kind of force being directed against innocents.

See also:  Does Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have rights?

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Big Sister is Watching

20070227_napolitano_3Over the years, the ACLU has done a fine job of advocating traditional civil rights issues, like racial justice, gay rights, and reproductive freedom.  These still top the list of ACLU campaigns.  Today, we face a new threat that should alarm all Americans.  This is the threat to privacy posed by modern surveillance.

It seems harmless enough, at first.  The IRS can read your email.  Assorted government agencies can read your email, tap your phone, collect your medical records, spy on you with drones, hoover up all your Facebook posts, and then analyze them in this giant data center.

We purposely cited Fox News and the ACLU in the same paragraph, to emphasize that this is a concern for both right and left.  CISPA is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, “a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government.”

Some states have already drafted laws restricting the use of surveillance drones.  Mayor Bloomberg says our fears are exaggerated:

“The argument against using automation, it’s this craziness– oh, it’s Big Brother. Get used to it. When there’s a murder, a shooting, a robbery or something the first thing the police do is go to every single building in the neighborhood and say let’s see your security camera.”

Get used to it.  There is no privacy in modern America.  As a linguistic aside, we note that they’re now called “security” cameras – because they keep you safe!  Best Buy is still selling “surveillance” cameras, which merely spy on you.

If the prospect of omniscient surveillance doesn’t alarm you, it’s because you are young and you were fortunate enough to grow up in a free country.  Educate yourself.  Find an immigrant who has lived in a surveillance society.  Ask what it was like to hide from the stasi, or the mukhabarat.  If you can’t find someone to tell you firsthand, then at least read Orwell’s book.

See also:  Indefinite Detention Without Trial

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