Archive for April, 2008

Caplan bets Europe will survive

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Bryan Caplan has bet $300 that Europe, and every state of Europe, will survive to 2020. I don’t make these kind of bets, because outcomes tend to be ill defined. What constitutes surviving? But I expect that around 2040, people will look back to around 2020, and say that some substantial portion of Europe, fell back then.

The nation state derives its cohesion from the nation, and the nation is not a patch of land but a people, united by something – perhaps an ideology of governance, economics, and law, but more commonly race and culture, or religion, or some such.

Nation means, still today means, a mutually supporting group of people, not a territory – a people united by culture, or by language dialect, or by race, or by ideology, or religion, or some such. Jews are a nation, Israel a nation state, Kurds are a nation, but Kurdistan is not (yet) a nation state. Iraq is a state, but evidently not yet a nation.

If a state is united by race or religion, the nation state has a disturbing tendency to commit mass murder. Even before the rise of the nation state, even back in the days when nations seldom corresponded to states, the nation was an important and vital part of Europe’s history, leading to lots of disturbingly efficient slaughter – and not just the easy slaughter of disarmed obedient sheeple that we saw so much of during the twentieth century, but the highly successful mass slaughter of armed and united peoples.

Thus a nation state inherently derives its cohesion, its strength, its military prowess from what is now called ethnocentrism, or racism, or bigotry, or ignorant superstition or capitalism/imperialism/exploitation etc.

The transnational progressives are attempting to use the power of the state to suppress that which gives the state cohesion, sawing off the branch on which they stand.

And because they have in substantial part succeeded, Europe suffers from extraordinary military weakness. Europe could not defeat the Serbs, could not defeat the Taliban. The British could not hold the most crucial oil port in the world against Sadr’s forces.

Hence the inclination on the right to predict the collapse of the EU or some of its component states. The prediction seems absurd. The states of Europe have police, tanks, bombers and an immense budget, whereas the various threats to their existence are tiny and have nothing much – but the threats have internal cohesion, and the states of Europe do not.

The first greenie famine

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The twentieth century was the century of the red famines.  Now, in the twenty first century, we are seeing the first greenie famine.  Let us hope it will not be the first of many.

The red famines killed an extraordinary number of people during the twentieth century – famines caused in part by carelessness, in part by active malice as socialists sought to centralize all food under their direct control.  To some extent the red famines were intended to end resistance by depopulating large areas, to some extent they were produced by incompetence, as politicians and bureaucrats directed farmers how they should farm, and some of which were caused by casual neglect, as those politicians and bureaucrats simply forgot to feed their captives.

We are seeing much the same with the first greenie famine.  It should have been possible to figure out that converting enough food to feed near a billion people into fuel was likely to cause problems.

Of course, the failure of capitalism to smoothly convert from oil to coal is also a problem, but the conversion has not been made any easier by the fact that it typically takes ten years to get such a plant approved, if you can get it approved at all.

There is a green path and a brown path to dealing with the failure to pump enough oil.  Environmentalists complain that coal to liquids conversion is on the brown path, and take for granted that the green path is inherently better and more virtuous, so much more virtuous that simply being in favor of it makes them more virtuous.  They neglect, however, to explain that the green path involves a substantial and rapid population reduction.


Envy and covetousness

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Jews are not the only people that suffer from self hatred and self destructiveness, though arguably they are more prone to it than other groups.

The most spectacular and extreme example of self hatred was the Khmer Rouge, which hated intellectuals and especially foreign educated intellectuals, and proceeded to murder most of them. Since the Khmer Rouge was largely composed of intellectuals and especially foreign educated intellectuals …

Rich white Anglo Saxon males also suffer from a fair degree of self destructive self hatred, as illustrated in the the recent Duke University rape scandal, though nothing comparable to Jewish self hatred.

The roots of self hatred are envy and covetousness. If one belongs to a successful group, one compares oneself to others of that group. Inevitably, some of that group are more successful in some ways than than oneself, and so …

Greenie morons

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

It seems that even if you are a highly qualified scientist with a great big pile of academic credentials, there is something about being a greenie that causes your brains to dribble out your ears as slime.

There is an ecological crisis on Macquarie Island:

In an accelerating one-two hit, exploding rabbit numbers are denuding Macquarie’s hills of soil-stabilising megaherbs and tussock fields, exposing ground-nesting birds and new seeds to the ravages of rats and mice.

Along with the flora, at least 24 bird species, 12 of them classified as threatened, are under attack.

So why, you may ask, are they under attack now.

Because the brilliant scientists managing the island wiped out the cats. The cats had kept the rabbits and rats down.

When you wipe out the top predator, what do you think is going to happen?

Oil hits $120 a barrel

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Demand for oil will continue to rise. The supply is not rising. The only solution is massive coal to liquid plants. Coal to liquid plants can produce substitutes for gasoline, such as methy isobutyl ether, at about a dollar a gallon at the refinery gate. So why is it not happening?

Coal to diesel is a more mature technology. Coal to gasoline substitute is still theory and experiment. Maybe it is not happening because they are still working on it. But even coal to diesel is only happening on a rather small scale, a fraction of a percent of the scale needed to keep the price of oil from rising even further.

We are seeing the much predicted resource crisis and associated hunger that the greens have long predicted. Capitalism and the free market should, in theory, remedy this, providing a smooth conversion from oil to coal. No smooth conversion is happening, which may well be part of the reason so many people are losing faith in capitalism. The subprime crisis is not a good advertisement for capitalism either. Of course capitalism, unlike socialism, manages to resolve such crises without murdering millions, but this does not mean that it is working satisfactorily. When capitalism screws up badly, as is happening right now, people are inclined to listen to demagogues who tell them that if only the demagogue got to make decisions, instead of those wicked capitalists, all would be well.

Happiness is a warm gun

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Arthur C. Brooks reports; that according to the general social survey, gun owners are substantially happier than others.

Why is it so? Reporting from my own personal experience:

  • The major reason for owning a gun is to protect those you love. Those who have someone they love, someone they would risk death for, someone they would kill for, are likely to be happier.
  • Those who know that they can defend that which they love, are likely to be happier.
  • An important indicator was that gun owners spent about 15% less of their time than nonowners “feeling outraged at something somebody had done”. Obviously this is a big contributor to happiness. If they spent 15% less of their time feeling outraged, they presumably spent something like 15% less of their time feeling powerless, impotent, and afraid.

Texas protective services commits perjury again

Monday, April 21st, 2008

In the testimony that led to the court approving and making permanent the abduction of four hundred children from their FLDS parents, Mrs Angie Voss testified that several children had admitted to knowing the child abuse victim “Sarah”

“We learnt that a few of the girls know of the Sarah we were looking for and that she’d been seen last weekand she had a baby,” Ms Voss said.

We now know that “Sarah” is a thirty three year old democratic party political activist. What do you think the prospects are that Child Protective Services will be charged with perjury, or the decision reversed?

Liberty needs to survive

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Gates of Vienna writes: The culture of liberty deserves to survive

“If a large enough proportion of us decided that we would not tolerate the eradication of our cultures, then our cultures would not be eradicated. It’s as simple as that.”

Oh, really?

Let us suppose that in order to get through university, you have to pretend to affirm that our society should eradicated, because it is racist, colonialist, imperialist, capitalist, exploitative, and is destroying the planet. Suppose that if your blog says something different, you are going to be prosecuted for spreading racial hatred, harming the earth, and so forth. Suppose that if you say something different, those you love are likely to be murdered, and the police will not do much about it.

What then?

It really is not that easy to preserve liberty. Liberty always costs blood, and freedom will always require forms of social organization capable of killing people in substantial numbers.

Are Palestinians mad dogs, or crazy like foxes?

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

It is widely believed that the “draconian” terms that the allies imposed on Germany at the end of World War One contributed to the rise of the Nazis and World War Two, and in a sense this is true, but imposing the terms and then retreating from them under pressure is what really caused the rise of the Nazis, as Étienne Mantoux argues in “The Carthaginian Peace: Or the Economic Consequences of Mr Keynes”

The Versailles reparations were extremely mild compared to the extraordinary brutality with which the Germans treated conquered populations during World War One, and their cost was entirely insignificant, compared to the economic costs the Germans inflicted on themselves in the course of resisting it – for example paying people to not work, paying people to sabotage their own economy. Indeed, Hitler quite correctly pointed this out, in the course of arguing that instead of economic threats, Germans needed to use threats of violence.

The ruin suffered by Germany was a result of them accurately perceiving weakness of will and self doubt among the allies, much like the ruin today suffered by the Palestinians. Keynes’s book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” was a major cause and manifestation of this weakness of will and self doubt. The successful push of the Germans against this weakness progressively escalated, Nazism, like Hamas, being a manifestation of this success.

Palestinian terror has been highly profitable, as Europe and America seek to outbid each other in paying off the terrorists. So the PLO escalate their demands, and Hamas demands its share of the gravy. In order to get their share of the gravy, Hamas has to prove they are even crazier than the PLO.

The lesson we should have learned from World War II is not only no appeasement, but that early appeasement leads to increasingly intolerable demands and the rise of increasingly extreme factions – that the temptation to appeasement must be resisted when the demands are cheap, arguably reasonable and morally justified, and the threats modest, for yielding will lead to escalating demands and escalating threats, will lead to the rise of factions that are ever crazier, since craziness is working.

We should have responded to German resistance by substantially escalating Versailles, rex talonis, to a punishment that matched German occupation during World War One eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, rather that making concessions. This would have prevented the rise of Hitler. Since confrontation was working, Germans figured they should elect the most confrontational politician of them all, and at first it worked great.

Of course, confrontation worked at a very great risk of renewing World War I, as Hitler and the Nazis well knew, but the Nazis of course de-emphasized this risk, and when they told the truth to the voters, as they sometimes did, seems that no one listened anyway. Indeed Hitler had a long history of speaking the truth, and not being believed. He would tell the plain truth, then he would imply a lie that people wanted to believe, and people would believe the lie, and forget the truth. Again, observe the similarity with Hamas and the PLO, both of which have told us often enough that a two state solution is only a step towards the total destruction of Israel – and Hamas has from time to time told us that Tel Aviv is only a first step towards Rome. Israeli concessions endanger not only Israel, but also the rest of us.

Stubborn intransigence by the Palestinians needs to be met by cutting off the payoffs, by killing the bagmen who attempt to make payoffs, and if that fails, by imposing on Muslims rex talionis the same conditions as are imposed on Christians in most Muslim countries, not by making ever bigger payoffs.


Saturday, April 19th, 2008

There is an oil crisis, and there is a food crisis. People in Haiti are eating dirt. Women are giving their babies away to random strangers. People who formerly were poor, and able to afford little more than enough to eat, now are unable to buy enough to eat.

I, of course, am more worried about the oil crisis, but the food crisis is probably more important.

Becker says that food prices are not going to be a problem

the second reason for optimism relates to the lower productivity of food production in the poorer parts of the world relative to the United States and other developed countries. Higher food prices will induce an increase in productivity in developing nations by encouraging greater use of machinery, fertilizers, and other forms of capital.

In fact of course, the problem with food is the same as the problem with oil. In most of the world if you apply machinery and so forth, your tractor is probably going to be stolen, and you yourself quite likely killed in the process, just as if you drill an oil well, your oil rig is probably going to be stolen, and you yourself quite likely killed in the process.

It would be hugely profitable to drill new oil wells in Iraq, and upgrade and maintain existing oil wells, but no one is doing it for obvious reasons. Similarly for drilling water wells and digging irrigation ditches in Iraq. Whenever you ask businessmen why they are investing gigantic sums in Alberta oil sands, and not investing elsewhere in the world in oil that is far easier to extract, they will tell you.

Tractors are just as attractive to tyrants, demagogues, and terrorists as pipelines are.