Climate Change Fiascoes and the Second Amendment

     In the week ending April 9th 2016, the Climate Change campaign suffered not one but two fiascoes. I am not sure that anyone besides me noticed. People are busy. They work; they rear their children. Many don’t have time to be critical about every little thing. Many are seldom critical of anything. I don’t work anymore; my children are reared, (for better or for worse); my mortgage is going to start paying back any time. My criticality is sharpened by broad reading. So, I will comment on the fiascoes on behalf of everyone else. Two reasons.

First, in spite of general public cooling to the concept (no pun), in the US, policy measures are being taken as I write as if there were no question that mitigating alleged global warming were a high priority. Second, where sets of beliefs of this sort (see below) are concerned, it’s not unusual for coolness to turn unexpectedly into heat. Witness the return of the popularity of “socialism” in this primary campaign. It’s as if I were 25 again, N. S. ! If you had bet me in 1996, that some politician would call himself a socialist, I would have lost my hundred bucks. So, better vaccinate, again and again against falsehoods. In a way, it’s the job of old men finally free from testosterone poisoning to do the vaccinating.

The first fiasco went unnoticed even, I think, by those responsible for it. The United Nations Inter-Governmental Consortium on Climate Change issued a warning to the effect that some forecasts regarding the consequences of climate change may well have been underestimated. The example that sticks to my mind is that the maximum rise in the ocean surface in the next hundred years could easily be six feet, instead of the three feet previously forecast. (My numbers are not precise; the order of magnitude is correct which is what matters in my story.)

So, think about it: The international authority on climate change may have been very wrong on an important issue; the issue of how many of the world’s cities are likely to be under water come 2116. In fact, the Consortium admits that it may have been wrong by a smashing 100%, one hundred per cent. Think!

Interestingly, the Consortium only considers the possibility that it underestimated future flooding. It has nothing to say about the possibility that it overestimated it. But, wait a minute, how can you trust anything, or any method, or anyone whose forecasts is one hundred per cent wrong? How can you further trust that it’s only wrong in one direction? I could be convinced but it would take some explaining. While, I wait, I think it’s more reasonable to assume that what’s wrong one way could easily be wrong the other way. So, the likely rise in the ocean surface in the next hundred years, from global warming and what not, is likely to be three feet to – nothing, zero, nada, rien, zilch, la sha. (I am paraphrasing here a short piece in the Wall Street Journal. I am sorry I am unable to give credit to the reporter. )

The second fiasco is even worse because it verges on fraud, or, it is actually fraudulent, or it expresses ignorance that is worse than fraud. A report issued by the Obama Administration ( I don’t know which branch) and dubbed “scientific” gravely warns that in some future time (that I don’t remember, and it does not matter), the number of people world-wide who will die from the effects of high temperatures will increase significantly. Point well taken. It took Bjorn Lomborg ( environmental activist, statistician, and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist ) writing also in the Wall Street Journal to point out the following: Still world-wide, many more people die from the cold than from heat. If the rise in temperature projected by the Movement happens, many more people will be saved from the cold than will die from the heat. In other words, the net effect of rising temperatures on mortality will be negative. Global warming as projected will save lives! (I know I am repeating myself.)

Global warming will save lives. To omit this simple fact (it’s not in dispute, I understand) bespeaks incredible dishonesty or unfathomable ignorance. I am not quick to conclude to dishonesty. The Climate Change Movement is a religion loosely and distantly based on science. Devotees may be honestly incapable of seeing unpleasant facts pertaining to their revealed truth. Or, the Obama Administration is underestimating the American people’s intelligence, again!

According to Rush Limbaugh (yes) 15 state attorney generals and a congressman have come together to examine the possibility of suing civilly, or even criminally, those who deny the reality of climate change. Limbaugh is surprisingly well informed overall but he is not always well informed. So, I would not take this as more than a rumor if I had not read a congressman’s letter to the Wall Street Journal where he denies that he wants to do any such thing, or all such things, it was not clear from the letter.

The Climate Change Movement is a religion that is made all the more dangerous because it’s losing traction in the US: The faithful are turning unfaithful; prepare the pyres!

So, if there is any grain of truth at all to the idea that some parts of government wish to criminalize disagreement, it’s a really good, fresh justification for the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was written largely to protect the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech and freedom from religion.  (Note for my overseas readers: The Second Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees American citizens’ right to possess weapons, including firearms. The Amendment forbids government, all levels of government, from interfering with this right The American left is forever trying to grind down the Second Amendment and mostly failing. There are currently more firearms than there are Americans. Every time, Mr Obama speaks against the Second Amendment, weapon sales surge. He is the arms industry’s best friend.)

Here is a link to another one of my blogs on climate change:

https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/climate-change-and-bad-science/

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Life is Good Even During the Primaries

    It’s a sunny airy day in Central California, where I live. I am standing not far from the wharf (“le debarcadère”), a pretty good single-shot dark roast espresso in one hand and a cigarette in the other. (I know, I know, no need to tell me.) It’s pretty warm although it’s only April 3rd. Bless global warming (if any) ! A young man rolls by on his bike. He has his shirt off. His surfboard is held by a special, ingenuous rack on the side of the bike.

I am a bit tired because I spent the morning at the flea market with my pretty little granddaughter. A lady jeweler gave her a ring made of twisted yellow metal (maybe not gold). Then, the girl declared an interest in a long piece of purple fabric, transparent with paillettes and spangles attached. It’s “tulle,” I think; I know the name and I am not even gay! The fabric is long enough to drape into a sari. The man is asking for two dollars then, he takes a second look at her and, without prompting, bargains himself down to $1.50. We leave the flea market with a sari potential, used cleat shoes for soccer, size 1, three papayas, three eggplants, and a ring (which may not be gold).

I can’t linger because I have hard work left to do this afternoon. Yesterday, my granddaughter and I went to the tide-pools a little way north of Santa Cruz. We collected wild mussels* – among the best in the world, I believe. I have to spend a couple of hours cleaning the shell of each of them before cooking them for tonight dinner. I will be drinking white wine or beer all the while. There will be little pain.

Donald Trump is ignorant and offensive; I would not let him in my house. Sen. Sanders is also ignorant; he is polite but really stubborn; much or most of what he says is absurd and uninformed. Sec. Clinton is a multidimensional crook and liar. Sen. Cruz has his heart in the right place but no one likes him, not even his mother, not even his dog, probably.

But life is still good, somehow.

* Don’t eat wild mussels in California without being very well informed. They can be poisonous for much of the year. (Not because of pollution.) The California Department of Health monitors wild mussels and provides a phone number for updates.

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Dear Reader: When you become tired of my serious lectures on heavy economic and sociological issues, you might take a look at my collection of  depraved stories:

Indecent Stories for Decent Women

It’s published under the pen name: John Rene Adolph on Amazon (electronic only at this point):

http://www.amazon.com/INDECENT-STORIES-FOR-DECENT-WOMEN-ebook/dp/B018ZYR9DS

 

 

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The Sucker Punch

A frail looking 78-year old man punched by surprise a hearty young disrupter at a Trump rally on national television. He was arrested and charged with assault. His bail was set at $2,500. You got that right. That’s the kind of bail you have to post if you spit on the ground, in some places. It’s lower than the bail, you have to post for selling a small quantity of cannabis in cities where it’s still illegal. Signs of things to come I think.

Dear overseas reader: The kind of crime involved here is entirely a matter for state courts, the courts of North Carolina, in this case. The Federal Government has nothing to say about it.

Next, the judge might simply dismiss the charges. It happens all the time. If he does not, I think the case is not gong to trial unless some group or other, or Trump himself proffer the puncher their help. More likely, there will be a plea bargain. The puncher will plead guilty to shouting, or something like that and he will get a sentence to do community service which he will enjoy doing because he is probably lonely, like many old guys. In the unlikely event that the case goes to trial, keep in mind that the puncher is entitled to a jury of his peers – in North Carolina. The jurors will not be drawn from the ranks of ultra leftist MoveOn or from leftist billionaire Soros’ employees.

The most likely outcome is that the puncher will be found not guilty because he had no intent to hurt anyone. It was just a spontaneous gesture brought on by indignation, spur of the moment-like. If I were his attorney, I would draw the jury’s attention to the fact that the puncher said right after the event, “We don’t know if he may be a member of ISIS,” not a completely sane remark, actually. It will be interesting to see if the punchee is eager to seek redress. On the one hand, he may be a squeaky clean honors student with no record at all. On the other hand, he may be a professional rioter with a jacket as long as a day in jail. If it’s the latter, the judge will forbid the punchers’ attorney from mentioning this fact to the jurors. The truth will get around, outside the courtroom, anyway. The punchee’s handlers would want to avoid this. And then, there is jury nullification. (Ask me whether you are American or a an overseas reader.)

In case there is a trial and the puncher is found guilty of something, the judge will have to be careful in sentencing him. Who wants a doddering old martyr who loves his country too much? Best give him a suspended sentence, I would think. And, the judge must absolutely resist the temptation to hit the culprit with a symbolic one dollar fine lest Trump supporters start lining up for what they will think is a cheap punch-a-leftist permit!

Many crocodile tears have been shed by white liberals and by the liberal press about the fact that the punchee is black. He was much more hurt by that single feeble punch than were the 106 Chicago black youths who were murdered by other young black people in Chicago since the beginning of the year, they think. Those are not really really dead, they will come back, they may come back, probably. The white-punched black punchee on the other hand was punched eternally, forever!

Now, I shouldn’t sound like I am making light here. I understand that physical violence within a political context is more worrisome than say, parking lot fistfights that go wrong or your run-of-the-mill crime of passion. Political violence, even it it’s slight has the potential to disrupt any system of government, even one that is fairly civilized such as ours in the US. But not all violence is equal. Some private violence is even protected under the law of most states.

According to CNN, the punchee, Mr Jones said the following after the incident,”The trend at all of these rallies has been if you’re not there to support him, get out of here,”

Yes, Mr Jones, that’s the idea. You were not invited! You crashed the party. When asked to leave, you are suppose to leave immediately. You have every right to seek redress for the punch but not for being made to feel unwelcome in a rally you tried to disrupt. You have no protected right to do that. You are confused, Mr Jones. You are not the only one; your teammates all are.

The young hard left, the old liberals and the pious press keep forgetting – actively forgetting – a simple fact: All the disrupters who were hurt (slightly in all cases) put themselves in a position where they were trying to stop speech, the speech of those they deem horrible, or objectionable, or anything at all. Our political tradition does not say that “speech should be allowed to proceed except from really bad people.” ! Liberal commentators. – there was one on my FB recently – want to argue that Mr Trump’s own crude threats are responsible for the disrupters’ coming into his rallies and trying to stop him from speaking. I don’t think that’s correct.

Suppose, I am talking to my wife with the window open. You happen to overhear me describing you as an A..-H… . Does this fact grand you permission to walk into the house through the back door and to yell at me to shut me up?

As I write (3/17/16) there have been no reported attempts to disrupt Sec. Clinton’s or Sen. Sanders’ meetings. No one had tried to stop them from speaking. At this point only a Trump rally had to be canceled because of threats. It’s only Republicans’ freedom of speech that was successfully infringed.

In the incident of record, from the standpoint of free speech, the victim is not the punchee but the puncher.

Now, at this point, have I said that the old puncher was right or within his rights? Have I said anything that excuses his pathetic violent behavior?

No one should be surprised about the political direction of the current violations of the right to speak freely. Opponents of the freedom to speak are usually on the left, in fact, they are almost always on the left. The Wall Street Journal (3/16/16) reports that Mr Obama’s Attorney General has referred to the FBI criminal investigative division a request to prosecute climate dissent. Would I make this up? Do I have the imagination?

With all this, I find no redeeming virtue in Mr Trump save one. He does not know what he is talking about much of the time. He does appeal to some of the worst instincts of America. The only thing going for him is that he is not Sen. Clinton. If he is president, he will probably not steal from us. Ms Clinton will, for sure.

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Foreign Accents and IQs

I am trying to distract myself from the rolling disaster that is the Republican Party. (I am writing during the 2016 primary season.) Not that I was ever attached to the GOP. Like most political parties in our kind of democracy (“presidential”), it’s a very large bed. You have to share it with people who snore and fart, and with many others of doubtful personal hygiene. I am very attached to conservatism though. And if conservatism isn’t in the Republican Party, I don’t know where it will be. It’s the doctrine that only individual freedom matters and that everything else should be subordinated to it. In spite of many unfortunate twenty century experiments with the opposite, collectivist view, conservatism is not intuitively attractive; it requires fairly heavy intellectual lifting. If you think about it, liberals, by contrast, come in two colors: not very bright and lazy. Conservatives have to possess both brawn and brain.

To avoid obsessing with the currently obvious I am allowing my mind to drift toward the frivolous and the bemusing. There is something that’s been in the back of my brain for several years that I have not until now brought to the fore. Here it goes: I strongly dislike foreign accents in the media. I know, I know, I am an immigrant myself who speaks English with a French accent. I can’t help the latter trait but I don’t have to like it. Unfortunately, there is a widespread native-born American lapse of taste that concerns foreign accents. I cringe inside every time someone says to me, “I just love your accent.” Even when I was young and hale (an understatement, if you know what I mean) I made valiant efforts to avoid taking advantage of the detectable warming of the water that would unavoidably follow when an eager young woman first heard me. It was an uphill struggle, believe me. Sometimes, I failed to resist adequately. Believe me, I am still ashamed of it.

Now, for the profoundly monolingual among you, let me be clear: a foreign accent is a form of incompetence. It means that you learned a foreign language but not completely. It’s not as reprehensible as bad grammar, for example but it’s nothing to be proud of. Once in a blue moon, I meet someone whose first language is other than English and I don’t detect that fact in the first few minutes of conversation (in English, of course). That makes me envious. I am right to feel envious. If I were a better man, I too would have a foreign* accent that’s hard to detect. I give myself a little slack however because I read somewhere a long disquisition about this topic that kind f excuses me. The long and the short of it is this: If you don’t speak your second (or third) language with native-born speakers before you are sixteen, you will always have an accent. I was seventeen the first time I spoke English (with my mouth that is; I could write English years before that) and it was not really with native speakers but with Germans and Swedes. (You should read my memoirs; it’s in there**) So, I squeak by my own harsh judgment.

By the way, there used to be a French diplomat somewhere on the West Coast who spoke French with such a thick Serbian accent it was difficult to understand him. He had been raised Belgrade, in French but he had few opportunities as a child to speak French with French people other than his father who was himself married to a Serb. I was told the diplomat’s Serbo-Croatian was very good though also accented.

So where was I? Yes, manners, manners few of you may understand. When you tell me your love my accent, you are drawing attention to one of my shortcomings. Would you ever dream of complimenting me on my faulty spelling? Wouldn’t that be impossibly rude?

OK, I know, I am playing the innocent here. It’s possible, likely, certain even that the sound of a French accent sexually stimulates many American-born women. And in point of fact, few men ever declare they love my accent. And, if I delved into my memory, I could find instances where it evoked hostility in US-born American men. That would be because they perceive, however obscurely that they are being sexually outclassed every time I open my mouth. (No, don’t go there, please; this is a family blog!) When I first obtained a good slip in the harbor I had also just bought a new boat with unfamiliar dimensions. I thought that dock-mates and people on other docks took an unusual interest in my slip entrance procedures. I intuited some were hoping to see me crash into the dock. This guess could have been due to some underlying paranoia of mine, or it could be that I was receiving subliminal vibes from real men who had heard me speak and therefore, wished my manhood ill.

Anyway, hearing foreign accents in everyday life does not bother me at all. It’s foreign-sounding voices in the media, specifically, that I find disturbing. And first and foremost, English voices specifically really, but really annoy me. My reasons are simple: I think most people with a foreign accent (except Spanish, of course) are automatically granted unearned extra credibility points. There is even an extra credibility rating according to kind of accent: English, 20 points, Scottish, 15 points, Australian, 12 points; French, also 12 points; Dutch and all Scandinavian language, 10 points, German, 8 points; Italian: minus 5 points except when discoursing on art or on food when it becomes plus 5 points. Media types with foreign accents are thought to be better informed and to have higher IQs than native speakers of American English, I am pretty sure.

So, we have a situation where both on local radio and on network television, people who know absolutely nothing, who barely understand the material they are given to read on air are treated as automatic trustworthy sages and pundits. Some could not even land a barrista job in Manchester or in Portsmouth , or in Adelaide, or in Lyon . (that’s in France). I believe I know this form of collective blindness inside out. Two instances. I had an AM radio show for about three years. It was only two hours on Sunday morning and it reached only the San Francisco Bay Area. It was mostly about world affairs. I made it a deliberate attempt to go high-brow for an audience we knew to be mostly middle-brow or less. I believe, because of some listeners’ calls. that I succeeded to some extent in my ambitious endeavor. Other calls were from people who had no idea of what I was talking about but were sure I must be right anyway, almost certainly because of my foreign accent. (Remember, you can’t see people on radio so, it could not be my imposing physique, for example.) The accent effect is so powerful that I am 80% sure I could offer wine appreciation courses for $800 per head and be oversubscribed. I suspect that I could even tell prospects openly that I left France at age 18 , that I grew up poor drinking mediocre to bad wine mixed with water, that I spent almost all my adult life in the US, and still get recruits. (My narrow wine experience in France is also in my book of memoirs. see below.)

If you don’t believe me, watch CNN News and above all, listen. There are hours of the day when everyone on stage has some sort of British accent. And if you pay attention to the comments and to the small talk, you will soon get the impression that those were not people who came up the hard way and learned something along the way, as American media people normally do . (I am tempted to add: “even at CNN” but that would be bitchy!) At times, CNN sounds not like an American network but like a sub- BBC staffed by Britishers who went neither to Oxford nor Cambridge.

Another, more subtle feeling multiplies my irritation at what I think are imposters. Here is why. Americans are a generous people, that’s not a myth. They are not the only generous people in the world but they are right up there, in my cosmopolitan experience. One form that generosity takes is a kind of uncritical mental hospitality, a tendency to give the other guy’s opinion the benefit of doubt. In its most extreme form this tendency results in something like an assumption that the other guy can’t possibly be wrong.

Foreigners of moderate talent catch on to this quickly. They use this propensity to obtain positions their talents would not provide in their countries of origin. This does not work with car repairmen, for example, of with plumbers; it would work reasonably well with doctors because the distance between their actions and health results is often long and the path muddy. But any tendency to bluff is closed to foreign doctors by the legal obligations they take exams anew. It works very well by contrast in the media where looking the part, and sounding better than the part, is more important than walking the walk.

To me, it often feels as if uninvited parties had invited themselves to the party. dragged a little mud on the carpets, and then, taken over the kitchen.

And, in case you are wondering or snickering, I have to tell you that I, for one, was invited to this country by its legitimate government . (This is another story, of course.)

 

PS I think I am a kind of kitchen expert on foreign language acquisition. If you don’t mind having the things you have always heard on the subject challenged, you might read my essay on this blog: https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/foreign-languages-and-self-delusion-in-america/

 

* “Foreign” is the right word. It’s not a dirty word. A “foreign country” is a country other than your own. The word “international” has another meaning altogether; it’s not a valid substitute. There is no such thing as an “international country,” moron. Don’t piss me off with your mealy-mouth crippling of the English language for reasons of stupid political correctness. “Foreign” is not a dirty word unless you are xenophobic. I took the trouble to learn this beautiful language, English. Why don’t you do the same?

** I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography (2014). This book exists in electronic form and it also exists in paperback. You can obtain the paperback from Amazon, or from me from me through this clever email address: iusedtobefrench@gmail.com. It’s listed under my name: Jacques Delacroix. I have a second book in English that is now only in electronic form. It’s entitled: Indecent Stories for Decent Women. (2015) It’s under the pen name: “Jean René Adolph.” Reflecting on its title will suggest why I am not using my real name in this one. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZYR9DS

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Death in War and Pacifism

One hundred years ago, my grandfather, my mother’s mother was killed at Verdun by a German bullet, or by a German shell, or even from friendly fire. No one ever knew because his body was not found. The bodies of tens of thousands were not found, French and German.

By the time the smoke of that particular battle cleared, after about six months, 500,000 men had died, both Germans and French. Nothing tangible was accomplished on the ground by either side, no advantage gained. There is much pious belief on the French side that the battle, initiated by Germany, helped bleed the German Army toward its eventual surrender. In point of fact, two years later, Germany sued for peace while its armies where still in France and in Belgium. It never suffered a decisive defeat. It’s easy to believe that the naval blockade of Germany, causing hunger among civilians within the country had more to do with its defeat than the hundreds of thousands of French casualties at Verdun.

At the conclusion of the war, not much of vital importance had changed at first near the main front line. Alsace and northern Lorraine, two culturally Germanic formerly French provinces had been returned to France from which they had been taken by Germany in 1870. In 1918, on their return, the two areas were prosperous and in great shape. If they had suffered as part of the German Empire, it was not obvious how.

What was different at the conclusion of the war was that Germany had been turned into a political and economic disaster zone from which World War Two and Nazism would eventually arise. The autocratic Russian Empire had been overthrown, soon to the benefit of a much worse, more destructive autocracy. The multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire, not a bad place to live according to many literary testimonies, disappeared and it was replaced by a number of jealous, quarreling smaller states.

The social and the cultural consequences of the war are more difficult to trace. Surprisingly little has been done about this topic in English or in French, aside from laments, many poignant and of significant literary value. I mean the long aftermath of the war. The war itself produced several literary masterpieces, including Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Incidentally, this great German writer deliberately Frenchified his last name, from the original “Remark.” This is important somehow, strengthening the notion that European wars after the 19th century were really civil wars. But I digress.

I had to become a grandfather myself to think about societies with a shortage of grandfathers. I write in my memoirs about the scarcity of grandfathers in France in the years following the hollow victory of World War One.

“I was born 24 years after my maternal grandfather’s death and physical disappearance at the theatrical mass killing of the battle of Verdun. That was like an eternity to a child but like an instant for older adults, including my own widowed maternal grandmother and the tens of thousands of widows of her generation. The damage they had suffered was irreversible. It went well beyond mere grief, they knew well. Providence was not going to supply hearty males in numbers sufficient to replace the two millions who had been killed or made severely invalid. In many case, the women’s lives would be sterile in every way.
…..
Absence can be felt as keenly as pain. Perhaps, the absence of thousands of grandfathers was like the kind of pain amputees are said to suffer in their missing limbs. There was a solemn underlying sadness all around that was not explained by anyone or by anything and that was part of normalcy. This perpetual sadness induced a degree of unresponsiveness, including to small children. It was the kind of neutrality you expect to find in many (but not all) old people but it was present among the middle-aged and even among the young.

Paradoxically, precisely because of the shortage of old men, I grew up in an old society, one that had aged before its time. I realized bit by bit, and first on the occasion of visiting non-belligerent Sweden at seventeen, and then, the US, at eighteen, that the “war to end all wars” had broken a central spring of French society. One hundred years later, I think it’s still broken. It’s a society that has not felt young since the summer of 1914. It’s a society where still today, many of the young sound old.” [Reference at end of essay]

Again paradoxically, grandfathers everywhere support and feed the best expressions of the condition of childhood. They sit you on the merry-go-round and they buy you candy. They don’t make you chose as parents often do. I have seen it at the beach a hundred times: Mothers force their children to go home; grandpas tell the kids in their charge that there is no rush.

With all this consciousness of the very long term societal consequences of war, I am not a pacifist. World War Two was fought for next to no reason by nation-states that seems to have gone on automatic. Yet, some wars are worth fighting. The Second World War was such a war. As they made their way into enemy territory and after their victory, the Allies discovered that the reasons to force Germany and Japan to capitulate were even better than anyone had thought. The West gave rise to the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, all steps in he direction of  greater rationality and humanity toward others, especially strangers. The massacres of World War Two were like a giant rollback of this progress. They made Westerners, they still make Westerners, doubt their capacity for virtuousness. Today, when we allow little girls to be sold into sexual slavery without intervening forcefully, we lose a piece of our humanity. It’s like pulling hard on a thread of the fabric of civilization itself. The war against ISIS, right now pursued rather softly by the Obama administration, is another war worth fighting. For one thing savagery is probably contagious to some extent. People of good will have to stop it because they catch the virus themselves.

Pacifist liberals hide from this obvious responsibility of the civilized behind a wish to not sacrifice “American lives.” This objection loses much of its force when the military is, as ours is, a completely volunteer force.  My grandfather, by contrast, was a draftee, a civilian who died a lieutenant promoted from the ranks because all his seniors had been mowed down. I think civilian soldiers die more than professional soldiers. First, they are always ill-trained. Second, they are so abundant that there must be a tendency to treat them as cheap cannon fodder.And, incidentally, speaking of America’s professional  army let me deal right now with common objections that are both routine and false to the assertion that ours is a volunteer force: Individuals serving in the American military today are better educated, healthier, and they have higher IQs on the average than their contemporaries. That case is closed.

Personally, I find it difficult to take seriously the expressions of regrets regarding the deaths in combat of a relatively small number of volunteers when the same keeners have nothing to say about the stupid, useless “War on Drugs.” That futile thirty years campaign is indirectly responsible for the murders of young black Americans by other young black Americans in numbers roughly equivalent to all of our military deaths since Vietnam. And I have not even started mentioning the many more Americans who die needlessly on American roads. I say “needlessly” because about half of road deaths involve alcohol. It’s not difficult to imagine penal sanctions that would quickly extinguish  DUI, this purely self-indulgent conduct. So, about 15,000 Americans died last year alone in meaningless events that could have been avoided. The people who lament loudly in public the meanigful deaths in war of American volunteers never have anything to say about that repetitive carnage.

My grandfather, that forever young man, would forgive me, I think, for seeing hypocrisy and mindlessness in American pacifism.

“We can’t be the policeman of the world,” add both dogmatic left-liberals and mindless libertarians. Well, read the paper and see what happens when the US does not act the policeman. Pleased?
Here is my book of memoirs: “I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography”. It’s available at the following address at Amazon:
​​
​http://www.amazon.com/Used-Be-French-Immature-Autobiography-ebook/dp/B00JY0G3SA

Three recent books of mine are available on Amazon Kindle and on some other reading devices. None is a scholarly book. Two are in English and one in French. The first is: “I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography” (2014). This one also exists in paperback. You can obtain the paperback from me through this clever email address: iusedtobefrench@gmail.com, or from Amazon. It’s listed under my name: Jacques Delacroix. My second book in English exists as I write only in electronic form. It’s entitled: “Indecent Stories for Decent Women” (2015) It’s under the pen name: “Jean René Adolph.” Reflecting on its title will suggest why I am not using my real name in this one. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZYR9DS

I have a third book, written in French, that is completely different from the others: “Les Pumas de grande banlieue: histoires d’émigration” (2014) .This one is also only in electronic form. It’s under my real name: Jacques Delacroix.

I pay attention to feedback. Thank you. I am open to sponsoring and commercial publication of any of the three.

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Liberal Beliefs: Causal Irresponsibility – Part Two (About pooling resources.)

This is Part Two of an essay with the same title occasioned by an exchange I had on Facebook with a mature liberal – B. C. – I described as articulate. She has since disengaged.

B.C. Liberals work for programs that benefit ALL of us. They champion cooperation – even a pooling our resources – for the common good. …
(Bolding mine; J.D.)

J.D. The “common good,” there lies part of the problem.

I am all for pooling resources. That’s simple economic rationality. Peter catches a mess of fish. Paul offers his large barbecue. Mary, John and Andrew volunteer to clean the fish. Everyone agrees that Antoinette, – a French woman, of course- can cook fish better than anyone in the neighborhood. She does the needful. They all get together with others who supply side dishes and bread. Miguel the rich loner declares he will buy beer for everyone.

And then, thanks to pooling of resources there takes place in the neighborhood an unforgettable fish barbecue. This is a story of intelligent virtuousness. But is this what B.C. means?

In all likelihood, that is not what she means (but I can’t be 100% sure; you decide; maybe she will correct me). Instead, she has in mind something like this:

The government takes some of the money that Tom earned. The government then spends it for something that does everyone some good and that no other actor is likely to provide. Or, the government spends it on something that is useful but, that practice demonstrates, can be provided cheaper and/ or better by the private sector (postal services, air transport). Or, it uses Tom’s money to supply satisfactorily a service at several times the cost of what a commercial solution would give (bus service within my leftie city of Santa Cruz). Or it invests Tom’s money in something that few people want, that few people will use, to replace an existing solution that works reasonably well, at a cost that far exceeds the original estimate. (The projected North-South “fast train” in California the estimated cost of which is six times the original before a single mile of track has been laid.) Sometimes, the government takes one dollar from Tom to give twenty-five cents to Peter, collecting the balance of seventy-five cents to pay its numerous, well-paid administrators with the super-generous pension benefits.

Liberals are usually fairly familiar with this tale. They counter by throwing examples of government services that work (usually because they enjoy a monopoly) or that they imagine work because their purpose if noble but there is no accepted metric of success. (B.C. did just this. I used her examples in Part One of this essay.) Public schools is the best example of the latter category of defense. This, in spite of the fact that private schools cost half as much, that their students do seem to learn to read and write in large numbers. But that’s not the whole story say liberal proponents; there are other ineffable virtues that public schools are uniquely equipped to impart. N. S. !

Nevertheless, liberals are fairly familiar with the charge that government provides services inefficiently. This means at higher cost than is necessary, or not very well, for a given cost. Liberals seldom understand however that conservatives may have not one but two major disagreements with them. In addition to the efficiency objection, many conservatives have a moral objection to the extension of government.

Suppose Tom resists the government taking his money, refuses to pay income tax. If his resistance lasts long enough, the following is going to happen: Men and women, probably in uniform, carrying mace and Taser, in addition to nightsticks and guns will break down his door, throw him to the floor, or make him kneel, handcuff him, force him into a car. If it turns out that the facts are as I gave them, Tom will spend several months to several years in a prison. There, he will be malnourished, stressed, given inferior health care, often, beaten, and subjected to the whims of muscular sodomites.

“Yes, but he should have obeyed the law,” liberals will say. Well, Tom and I don’t think that this is a good response. The fact that 12.5 % of the whole population plus one may have indirectly agreed to the brutal procedure described is not enough to console us. The same 12.5% plus one person could tomorrow vote me a volunteer for live organ donation. (50% of the whole population is allowed to vote; 50% of these 50% exercise their right= 25%. Half of these plus one are a majority sufficient to pass almost all laws.)

The point is that government services are provided through a process that includes the direct threat of violence, and of serious violence. Violence against fellow-citizens should not be used to procure a fast train, I think.

It turns out that there is a a true and tried method to pool resources for the common good that avoids violence completely. When I spend $400 to buy a share of Apple, and my pension fund spends $300 to buy a share of Microsoft, and thousands of strangers do the same, and Apple and Microsoft together use the money to bring forth a brand new world that everyone loves, to creates hundred of thousands of completely new jobs, I am pooling my resources with those others. We know for a fact that this form of pooling includes no coercion, no threat, because individuals often compete for the privilege of pooling, of investing.

The institutionalized market, accompanied by courts, such as it has existed for one hundred years in civilized countries is an effective way to pool resources on a limitless scale without any trace or intimation of force. For every government service financed through force and intimidation, there exists a market solution that is vastly more moral. (That’s irrespective of, in addition to the general superior efficiency of market solutions.)

I don’t wish to be put in a position to argue that all taxes must be abolished if one single tax is reduced. I don’t care about philosophical discussions. I just note that there is no incoherence in observing that less systemic immorality is better than more immorality.

To finish: One thing that especially infuriates conservatives is that when liberals unleash violence against Tom because he wants to keep the money he earned, using agents paid in part by Tom himself, they get this warm glow. They are convinced that they are thus demonstrating their generosity toward those less fortunate. (Hence the verb “pooling,” in preference to “grabbing,” for example) It never seems to cross liberals’ minds that they can personally volunteer to pay just as much as they wish in taxes over and above what the government requires, thus doing something to alleviate to some extent inherent government violence. Taking by force from the unwilling somehow seems morally superior to them. Or, they have not thought about it. Liberals don’t think things through as a rule, it seems to me, even very smart ones. ( See my essay on bright people saying stupid things:     https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/sasquatch-and-liberal-academe//).

 

 

 

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