Friday, December 06, 2013

A Canadian lady defends Boris

She does not like his untidy appearance but ....

I’m concerning myself entirely with his recent “Margaret Thatcher Lecture” at the Centre for Policy Studies, or, as I’ve dubbed it, his “Rivers of Cornflakes” speech.

By now, many readers will have heard tell of the so-called “backlash” caused by this supposedly “controversial” speech—or, more precisely, one of Johnson’s observations in particular.

“What could that have been?” ask the blessedly uninformed few. “Did the man call for the mass detention and execution of gypsies? He didn’t say ‘wogs,’ did he?”

Nope. Johnson merely observed that some people are smarter than others.  Here be the verse:

"Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top."

I’ll leave it to our resident experts to parse Johnson’s statements about IQ. As for his inelegant cornflake metaphor, he returns to it later in his speech when advocating “apprenticeships and every other means of giving young people the cunning and confidence to succeed in a place of work.”

Sounds like he favors one form of statism (government-sponsored make-work projects) to another (government-sponsored don’t-work projects such as welfare). Yawn. As for some people being dumber than others, I noticed that within the first ten minutes of kindergarten. Yet Johnson’s mere mention of IQ is what’s evidently left his nation’s left reaching for their collective ideological EpiPens.

“Stupid poor people are stupid and poor, says massive blonde-haired child,” blurted the satirical site The Daily Mash, sounding not that much different, frankly, from some of its ostensibly serious media mates. “[W]hen they grow up, they can do all the stupid jobs while the clever people do all the clever jobs.”

That’s not what Johnson said, but so what if he had? Doesn’t that, well, make sense?

The alternative is the increasingly demoralizing, inefficient, and downright dangerous “Harrison Bergeron” society the elites have foisted upon us in the name of “equality,” with its affirmative action American president and female firefighters and pot-smoking Indian Mounties and transsexual rape-crisis counselors and blind (!) Internet “hate speech” investigators.

Progressives enjoy nothing more, it seems, than calling their political opponents “stupid.” (Although calling them “crazy” is a close second, and “racist” is third runner-up.) Yet suddenly, they’re feigning outrage at the very concept of stupidity.

Johnson’s critics are nitpicking his IQ stats, indulging in predictable ad hominem jokes, and throwing around a lot of 1970s-era clichés about class and economics (and sounding more than a little like the Pope, in spite of themselves). I don’t remember the last time an English politician’s speech generated this much unfiltered and accidentally revealing invective.

Oh, wait. Yes I do. [Enoch]

So if everything rolls out as it usually does, after Boris Johnson’s death a few brave souls will attempt to rehabilitate his reputation. Heck, we’ll probably see a grey-haired Russell Brand sheepishly admit that the guy was right all along. And by then it will be too late.


No more 'elf and safety bans: British government launches crackdown on 'bonkers' bans on traditional Christmas fun

Ministers have launched a crackdown on bogus 'health and safety' rules which ban innoucuous activities, in time for the festive season.

In previous years, workers have complained about being banned from decorating their offices because of supposed Government regulations.

But officials insist there are no restictions on popular Christmas traditions, and they are encouraging members of the public to report the most ridiculous cases to an official website.

As well as bans on decorations, health and safety regulations have in the past been cited to restrict activities such as carol singing and children's snowball fights.

In addition, over-zealous jobsworths have apparently tried to stop people donating second-hand toys and putting coins in Christmas pudding.

Mike Penning, the minister responsible for health and safety, expressed frustration that bogus cases undermined the importance of rules which are intended to safeguard the public.

'Every year, I hear of more bonkers "excuses" that ban hard-working people from the traditional hanging of Christmas decorations at work - which does nothing more than spoil the festive fun,' he said.

'My message to everyone is - use your common sense. Don't just invent a health and safety myth because you think it's easier than giving a real reason - this gives real safety rules a bad name.'

Mr Penning has written to managers at the Department of Work and Pensions reminding them not to be overly strict when ruling on workplace decorations.

Official advice to the public states that there is no need to take Christmas lights to be tested, and that people should simply examine devices to make sure there are no obvious defects.

The minister urged people to report unreasonable applications of the law to the new 'myth busters' panel at the Health and Safety Executive.

The panel has ruled on more than 220 cases since being launched earlier this year in a bid to improve the reputation of health and safety laws, which have been tarnished by years of abuse.

Among the absurd cases which the HSE denounced were pubs which refused to offer glasses with handles, and a restaurant removing toothpicks from its tables.

One school banned shredded paper from the lucky dip stall at its fete for 'safety' reasons, while a hotel chamber maid refused to make up a cot bed on similar grounds.

In the most recent case, concerning a steam train which blamed health and safety for its failure to accommodate customers' dietary needs, the panel said that workers were 'using health and safety as an excuse for poor customer service'.


Did the Pope attack ‘unfettered capitalism’?

Did Pope Francis really lay a broadside into what he called “unfettered capitalism”?

That is certainly what headline writers the world over would have you believe. Well, at least the ones that picked up Reuters’ account of the Pope’s new apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” a news story that was then syndicated globally.

“Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny,’” reads the lead of the Reuters story by Naomi O’Leary describing Francis’ work.

This led to the propagation of headlines such as by NBC: “Pope Francis attacks ‘tyranny’ of unfettered capitalism”. Or by the Daily Kos: “Pope Francis: Unfettered Capitalism Is ‘Tyranny’”. Or by the Nation: “The Pope Versus Unfettered Capitalism”.  Or by Bill Moyers: “Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’”.

Even the Wiki warriors posting on Wikipedia fell for it, apparently forgetting to cite a primary source, writing under the “Capitalism” entry, “Pope Francis described unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny.’”

So prevalent were the headlines, they even convinced conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh that the pontiff had actually written it. “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.  Unfettered capitalism?  That doesn’t exist anywhere.  Unfettered capitalism is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States.  Unfettered, unregulated,” Limbaugh told his millions of listeners.

And he might have been right.

There is, however, one acute problem with the quote. Francis never actually wrote that. Naomi O’Leary did. Search the document for yourself and search for the words, either “unfettered” or “capitalism.” They’re not there.

The actual phrase “unfettered capitalism,” ironically, was apparently coined in 1942 by economist Joseph Schumpeter, himself a critic of communism — he even had a chapter entitled “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” An even greater irony is that the phrase has since been adopted by various socialist and Marxist writers as a pejorative against capitalism’s supposed excesses.

But before returning to Francis, let us pause on Schumpeter for a moment, for it was he who famously argued that capitalism, after raising standards of living in a way no other system had ever before in history, would eventually fall, but not through violent uprising.

Instead, it would succumb as a victim of its own success that “undermines the social institutions which protect it.” That, through the passage of time it would morph into what he termed a “corporative state.” It would become “bureaucratized,” and since the system “by its very achievements, tends to automatize progress, we conclude that it tends to make itself superfluous — to break to pieces under the pressure of its own success.” It would give way, he wrote, to socialism.

The entrepreneurs would be replaced by bureaucrats, and then, when the daggers came out and government stepped in to take over, those very bureaucrats would simply surrender.

Just look, he wrote, at the manner in which these “capitalist interests… as a whole behave when facing direct attack. They talk and plead — or hire people to do it for them; they snatch at every chance of compromise; they are ever ready to give in; they never put up a fight under the flag of their own ideals and interests.”

In short, it “absorbs the slogans of current radicalism and seems quite willing to undergo a process of conversion to a creed hostile to its very existence. Haltingly and grudgingly it concedes in part the implications of that creed.”

One need look no further than the experience of 2008 through 2010, the bank bailouts, the seizure of AIG, the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government purchase of GM and Chrysler, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs, and then Obamacare, the takeover of the student loan industry, and Dodd-Frank’s financial regulations to conclude that Schumpeter at least in this narrow regard was indeed prophetic, even if he would have quibbled with the idea he was making any sort of prediction.

These were all episodes in a very short span of very big businesses — and their supposed representatives in government on the right side of the political spectrum — seemingly ceding their own interests, making way for unbridled state control of whole industries, and even going as far in some cases as to argue in favor of it.

This societal transformation, a revolution to be sure and still ongoing, is being achieved without firing a shot.

Which brings us back to what Pope Francis actually wrote. He criticized those who “assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.”

Here, Francis’ discussion of the so-called “free market” is very much misplaced. For, nobody paying any level of attention can look at our current system and call it a “free market.”

The housing bubble that brought about the current recession is a case in point, where government-directed finance to achieve self-styled “affordable housing goals” found its way to millions of borrowers who it turned out could not afford the homes they were purchasing. Trillions of dollars flowed from the Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, driving the market with little more than a printing press.

This was no “autonomy of the marketplace,” or simply “financial speculation,” as Francis described. It was an asset bubble the likes of which had never been seen in economic history, and without government-created debt — without the backing of the federal government — it would never have been possible. Never.

Francis is right that there is a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system,” which he called “a new tyranny.”  But Francis’ critique really should lay at the feet of the corporatists Schumpeter described, and the central planners they have long since surrendered to.

For it is they who bear responsibility for the consequences of their own policies, including those who now suffer under them. Francis accurately described the “masses of people [who] find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape… the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” living under what he called “a globalization of indifference.”

Observe high youth unemployment throughout Europe and rising here, too, to get an idea who he is talking about. Those being excluded from opportunity today, an entire generation, are no figment. This is a real problem.

Overall, Francis is pointing to the rot of the system that Schumpeter had 71 years ago foreseen.

But, no one should be confused that the rot is a “free market” phenomenon, when instead it is the corrosion caused by decades of central-planning and in particular government-directed credit creation.

This is the necessary destruction brought about when government, not markets composed of individuals acting in their own self-interest, makes such sweeping economic decisions.


ACLU sues to deprive Catholic bishops of religious freedom, freedom of speech

The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.

The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy.

In an unusual step, she is not suing the hospital, Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, but rather the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Its ethical and religious directives, the suit alleges, require Catholic hospitals to avoid abortion or referrals, “even when doing so places a woman’s health or life at risk.”

The suit opens a new front in the clash over religious rights and medical care. The Catholic Church has fought against requiring all health plans to include coverage of contraception and is likely to call the new lawsuit an attack on its core religious principles.

Catholic hospitals account for about one in six of the country’s hospital beds and in many regions their influence is spreading as they forge alliances with non-Catholic medical groups.

“This isn’t about religious freedom, it’s about medical care,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the civil liberties union, in a telephone news conference on Monday.

Both the Muskegon hospital and the bishops conference declined to comment.

Tamesha Means, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that when she was 18 weeks pregnant her water broke and she rushed to Mercy Health, the only hospital in her county.

Her fetus had virtually no chance of surviving, according to medical experts who reviewed the case, and in these circumstances doctors usually induce labor or surgically remove the fetus to reduce the mother’s chances of infection.

But the doctors at Mercy Health, Ms. Means said, did not tell her that the fetus could not survive or that continuing her pregnancy was risky and did not admit her for observation.

She returned the next morning, bleeding and in pain, and was sent home again. That night she went a third time, feverish and writhing with pain; she miscarried at the hospital and the fetus died soon after.

At the news conference Monday, Dr. Douglas W. Laube, an obstetrician at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, described the care Ms. Means received as “basic neglect.” He added, “It could have turned into a disaster, with both baby and mother dying.”

The A.C.L.U. said it had filed suit against the bishops because there had been several cases in recent years in which Catholic hospital policies on abortion had interfered with medical care.

John M. Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and an adviser to the bishops, said he could not speak about the current suit because he was unfamiliar with it. But he said that the bishops’ directives were more nuanced than critics allege, allowing for actions to treat a woman at risk even if that treatment might result in the loss of the fetus.

He said some hospitals might have misinterpreted the bishops’ rules and added that doctors were required to tell patients of potential risks and alternatives, though they may not provide direct abortion referrals.

In 2010, the diocese of Phoenix stripped a hospital of its affiliation after doctors there said they performed an abortion to save a mother’s life.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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