Tag Archives: violence

Blood on his Hands

KrugmanLast week, there was a violent protest at ECB headquarters in Frankfurt. Since the Greek debt crisis, we have seen simmering violence all over Europe. These young people have a right to be angry. Their prospects have indeed been wrecked by failed fiscal policies. Unfortunately, they are protesting in the wrong city. They should be in Rome and Athens, demanding the return of capitalism.

The kids think they are protesting against “austerity,” which simply means that the government is no longer able to support them. They also can’t get jobs, because socialism has destroyed their economy. Their governments – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – are bankrupt. Historically, when your government runs out of money, the social transfers have to stop.

That’s what happened in every other sovereign debt crisis. We had the Asian debt crisis, the Mexican crisis, and sundry other peso crises. In each case, the IMF lent a little money, and then demanded they get their accounts in order. They didn’t call it austerity. The natives called it “imperialism,” but – they needed the money. An IMF loan with strings attached is still better than being flat broke.

Emerging market policymakers were faced with economic advice that suggested many years of austerity and unemployment … [but] when the crisis hit at home, Western economists were much less willing to accept the pain – Rajan

Now, however, there is a new narrative. Other countries are lending to the PIGS, and the ECB is creating fresh money. Thus, Europe’s young people have been told, there is no need for austerity. If the EU and the IMF (and the hated Germans) insist upon getting paid back, and the ECB fails to print enough Euros, then they are the villains – not the corrupt politicians back home.

The kids are protesting against “austerity,” as if there is an alternative. In the real world, there is no alternative. When you’re broke, you’re broke.

The euro area is not a political union of the sort where some countries permanently pay for others – Draghi

So, who told them that austerity was a punishment imposed by the troika? Who gave them the intellectual support for throwing acid on the police? Paul Krugman. Because of Krugman’s dogmatic and increasingly unhinged musings, real people got hurt. The blood is on his hands.

Krugman is still calling for free money, while respectable economists have moved on. Even Christine Lagarde, in her latest address, said the time had come for structural reform. The national bank of Sweden has told Krugman to mind his own business. Ironically, this is the same outfit that awarded him the Nobel Prize in 2008.

You would wish when [Krugman] says this – that Sweden looks like Japan – that he write fewer articles and have more of a look at the data … it doesn’t make him come across as a guy who is very well informed – Jansson

This is the problem with being a pundit. Sometimes you’re too busy writing polemics to mind the actual data. Just last month, we caught the professor in a freshman blunder over chart scaling.

Keynesians like to think they’re “evidence based,” but the evidence is that six years of accommodation have harmed savers, enriched the banks, distorted price discovery, and not solved the Euro crisis. Structural reform would have meant a short, sharp recession, followed by a strong recovery. We can’t prove the counterfactual, but we can state the current situation with certainty.

More than six years after the start of the Great Recession … unemployment remains high and inequality has increased. This is why we need a decisive push for structural reforms – Lagarde

We are now six years into a weak recovery (in America) and a triple dip recession in Europe. The central bankers have no dry powder for the next downturn, interest rates have gone negative, and – did we mention the violence? The only Keynesian prediction coming true right now is the one about easy money and the end of capitalism.

Professor Krugman accused the Riksbank of “sadomonetarism.” He has coined “austerian” as a play on the Austrian school of economics – which school, by the way, is what separates the prosperous North of Europe from the bankrupt South. It must be fun to sit in an ivory tower and make jokes, while his followers throw petrol bombs in Europe.

See also: You Say You Want a Revolution


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Anecdotal Evidence

Jeremiah says it’s mayhem in America, but the official statistics say otherwise.  So, whom to believe?  Well, if you believe the official figures, then crime is down, jobs are up, and inflation is flat.  LOL.  This is not to impugn the official sources, but they do suffer from scope, scale, timing, and definition problems.  Sometimes, the best evidence is what you can see for yourself.

Nobody knew how many … every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while half the population went barefoot.

For example, if you want to know about inflation, look at the tape from your grocery store.  Is your paycheck not buying what it used to?  That’s inflation.

The official figure, “core” CPI, omits food and gasoline because the prices are too volatile.  Apparently, the BLS can’t calculate a moving average, so they omit the very prices that matter to you.  They also allow for “substitution,” which says not to worry about the rising price of beef – as long as you can eat pork.

Likewise, the best measure of unemployment is the number of friends and relatives who are out of work.  The official  figure, also from the BLS, is regularly recast – yes, for political reasons.  No one takes the headline figure seriously.  You have to look at the U6 measure and the participation rate – or visit John Williams, and praise Allah that someone is still keeping decent records.

This brings us to the crime statistics.  Jeremiah is certain that crime is going up in his neighborhood, but what about those national figures?  Below is the chart from the BJS Criminal Victimization Survey.

Crime1These people do a nice job, especially given the sensitive topic.  The survey makes good use of stat sampling and confidence intervals.  This chart, though, has a scaling issue.  The epic decline from 1993 to 2003 masks changes in the more recent period – to wit, a serious uptick in the last year.

Below is the same data, looking only at the last ten years.  The units are victims of violence per thousand, so it accounts for population growth.  The uptick from 19.3 to 22.5 may not sound like much, but it’s over 16% and it more than reverses the prior year’s decline.

Crime Rate

Since this is the 2011 survey, reported October 2012, the rate could easily be above 25 right now.  In case you’re wondering what genius policy reduced crime during the Clinton administration, we still like Steven Levitt’s analysis. He does a nice job of debunking the partisan explanations, and he puts the data into a generational context.

Lest anyone be too glib about the fall in crime since 1990, Levitt goes farther back – showing that we are still above historical norms.

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Stay Home

Wherever Jeremiah travels, people mock America for our obsession with firearms.  Certainly, we look trigger happy to Australia right now, following the random shooting of visiting student Christopher Lane.  This is to confuse cause and effect.

Americans carry guns because this is a dangerous place, not vice versa.  The kids will simply beat you to death, if there’s no gun handy.  The police are debating whether Lane’s death was a “hate crime,” or just a “thrill killing.”  We are like the Inuit, with their hundred different words for snow.

Students at Duncan’s public schools stayed away from classes on Wednesday …  while a local gun shop reported a surge in residents buying handguns

As Jeremiah has written before, this is an absurdly violent culture.  We also have no facilities for mental health, so maniacs walk free until they commit a crime.  Our only mental institutions are the (crowded) prison system.

In many cities, there is no chance the police will rescue you from a violent assault.  In Oregon, a 911 operator flatly told a caller – who was being assaulted in her home – that no police were available.  That’s why we carry guns.  Ruger stock is up 25% in the last year.

Only an anti-American bigot [would] maintain that Americans are four times more murderous than Britons

The public’s first reaction, after an incident like this, is to blame the guns.  Then, they go out and buy one.  Bill Stevens, pictured here, is in Newtown, site of last December’s mass shooting.  That’s a single action .45 on Bill’s hip.

WSJ Photo

It’s hard to answer someone from a civilized country, especially grieving Australian parents.  They will say, “you Americans and your guns,” and then Jeremiah will sigh, “it’s really not the guns.”

See also:  Why the NRA keeps talking about mental illness

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Duty to Retreat

Many wanted George Zimmerman to be found guilty of something, at least manslaughter.  Jeremiah, on principle, must accept the jury’s verdict.  He does not have any special information that was overlooked by the judge and jury in Sanford, nor does he have any special claim to superior wisdom or objectivity.

This legislative language is so faux macho it makes you wonder whether Florida lawmakers meet in a school playground.

People express their frustration in different ways.  Some have resorted to violence.  Some are vilifying Florida and its self defense laws.  This article in the Financial Times refers to a “faux macho” law, written by playground bullies.  Jeremiah turned to an actual lawyer, and found this:

  • The “stand your ground”  clause was not used in the trial.
  • The more basic, “reasonable fear for your life” test was used.
  • The “fear for your life” test is part of all self defense statutes, not just Florida.
  • The “stand your ground” clause is part of the law in thirty states.

If you feel the Zimmerman verdict calls for a reexamination of self defense laws, you might think about a twelve person jury or a higher standard of evidence.  You should not incite people to violence, and you should not believe everything you read in the Financial Times.

See also:  Sharpton Crosses the Line

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Woman is the Nigger of the World

This lyric from John Lennon is not exactly polite, but it tells an important truth about human society.  Racial oppression varies from place to place, but women have been oppressed everywhere and for all time.

A short film by Sofie Peeters about street harassment in Europe has galvanized the continent.  The film documents the daily humiliation faced by European women, merely walking down the street, and the measures they must take to protect themselves.  In many European cities, this type of harassment can lead to sexual assault.  The Guardian has a good article, including this bit:

Peeters talks to local young men of north African origin about how to stop the insults.  I was told, “Come out with a man, your boyfriend, and we’ll leave you alone.”

In this, one can hear the echo of Muslim commandments for women always to be escorted by men.  Guardian blogger Emer O’Toole picks up on this when she writes that the interest of feminism is not served by having a boyfriend to protect you.

The young Arabs are enforcing a code of sexist oppression.  The only way to avoid harassment from men in general  is to enlist the full-time protection of some man in particular.  Thus, the dominance of all men – including the boyfriend –  is enforced.

Jeremiah recommends tactical pepper spray.

Logically, it is obvious that women are not free as long as this asymmetry exists.  Call it the “balance of fear.”  When somebody grabs Sofie Peeters by the ass, the odds of her being raped must be equal to the odds that he will suffer a lasting injury.

Jeremiah does not recommend roving bands of feminists to go forth and assault men, but the principle is clear.  Women must stand up for themselves, as Ms. O’Toole says, and they must do so with “escalation matching” force.

See also: Muslim cleric wants to protect women from sexual assault by forcing them to cover up

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Elegy for Colorado

Today, a deranged young man in full battle kit shot and killed several innocent people in a movie theater.  Commentators tried vainly to provide “answers” but, of course, there are none.  Our leaders, sensibly, didn’t offer any.  Jeremiah blames society.

Try this simple thought experiment.  Imagine packing up your game console, with your favorite “first person shooter,” and travelling back in time to 1950.  Think of American families you have seen on monochrome TV, like the Cleavers, or Ozzie and Harriet.  Show them how you play your game.  They are not pleased.  They do not wish to see you blasting people with a shotgun.  They ask you to leave.

Once upon a time in America, killing people was considered offensive.  Mr. Cleaver is justly concerned about you, because you lack this most basic feature of human morality.  “First person shooter” describes a game?  Really?  A whole genre?

Today we have violent games and violent movies.  They compete to have the most realistic bloodshed, blood spray, spatter, gore, and the merry clatter of brass cartridges raining onto the deck.  It is murder made pornography, and children play these games.

Children play these games, and children watch these movies.  What do you see in the trailer for an action movie?  Sneering, trash-talk, and threats – backed up by unending gunfire.  If the weapons aren’t full-auto, we’re staying home.

We have created a culture that glorifies might-as-right, brutality, contempt, and disrespect.   We have popular music about being a tough guy, smacking you down, and busting a cap in your ass.

We came to this vile place one step at a time.  We developed an entertainment industry, and this industry found profit in pandering to our basest desires.  At every turn, we claimed our freedom to indulge these desires, while the industry grew more profitable and more effective.

At each step, there should have been a parent – or a teacher, or a pastor – who said “no.”  No, we will not watch the violent TV show.  No, we will not listen to the violent music.  Sit up straight.  Show some respect.  We will not buy the toys, watch the movies, or patronize their sponsors.

As our morality has declined, ironically, entertainment has become one of America’s most successful industries.  Witnesses say they heard the gunfire, and thought it was part of the show.  In a grim way, they were right.

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Drug Market Intervention

Congratulations to the community of Newport News, their police, and a new strategy from criminologist David Kennedy.  Drug-war tactics have pitted police against the community, often in a racial context.  As The Economist puts it,

Police come to be seen as people who take sons, brothers and fathers away while the neighbourhood remains unchanged.

This new approach targets the retail drug trade directly, removing the money and the corruption it brings into our communities.  Working together, we can break the cycle of violence caused by drugs, gangs, and desperation.

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