Wednesday, November 01, 2017

UK: Too many people favour immigration but resist development

Demography, immigration and the building of houses, roads and runways

The Office for National Statistics says it expects Britain’s population to grow slightly more slowly than it thought three years ago, partly because of lower immigration after Brexit and partly because of slowing increases in life expectancy. But it still forecasts the figure to pass 70 million in a little more than ten years from now. That is not necessarily a bad thing, unless we remain as reluctant to build new houses, roads, schools and hospitals as we currently are. Britain can thrive as a dense city-state, a big Singapore, but not if it hates development. Openness to immigration and antipathy to building cannot both persist.

The ONS may be wrong, of course. In 1965 it expected that there would be 76 million Britons by 2000. Then the birth rate collapsed and immigration slowed, so by 1994 the statisticians were expecting a population of just over 60 million and falling by 2020. Ten years later they were back to projecting an acceleration upwards and by 2014 they predicted 74 million by 2039 and rising. The forecasts of demographers are little better than those of soothsayers gazing at the entrails of chickens.

Still, we are adding about half a million people a year, most of which is from net immigration and the higher birth rate of immigrants. Of the 1,447 people that Britain added every day in the 12 months to the end of June last year, roughly 529 were births minus deaths, 518 were net arrivals from the European Union, and 537 net arrivals from elsewhere, minus 137 departing British citizens. Given such a flow, our unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent and employment rate of 75.1 per cent are remarkable, if not miraculous. We are one of the world’s great workplaces, which, of course, is why people come.

A recent paper from the think tank Civitas, Britain’s Demographic Challenge: The implications of the UK’s rapidly increasing population, by Lord (Robin) Hodgson makes the point that we are not facing up to the implications of the rate of population expansion. He takes the previous ONS projections for four similar-sized towns — Dundee, Norwich, Stockton-on-Tees and Guildford — and calculates how much land must be built on to accommodate the expected increase in population to 2039. Taking into account not just housing, but roads, shops, offices, schools and such, he arrives at the conclusion that Guildford and Norwich will need to build on at least 65 acres every year, Stockton 55 and Dundee 40. That’s several fields a year.

Britain is already more densely populated than France, Italy and Germany but only in the southeast and the northwest of England do we begin to approach the population density of the Netherlands. Yet Schiphol airport has six runways, to Heathrow’s two, Dutch roads are far less congested, and the price of a flat outside a city centre is almost 30 per cent lower than in Britain. What are we doing wrong?

Yet every time somebody wants to build a bypass, or housing development, let alone a runway, there is fury from nimbys and their lobby groups. Green belts, national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and other designations, together with planning delays and inquiries, constrain and increase the price of every attempt to provide the annual half a million extra Britons with houses, roads and schools.

What is more, I am guessing that the very people who rail against building development are more often than not the people who are most enthusiastic about immigration. The educated and wealthy tend to dominate nimbyism and also to dominate the argument for more immigration, whether out of admirable compassion for refugees or for good economic reasons. Whereas the people who most object to immigration, the urban working class, on the whole tend not to join the protest groups that oppose development. I am not taking sides here, just pointing out an irony.

There is no escape route in saying you are in favour of development but only on derelict or unused urban land. It is fanciful to think that the demands of the rising population can be met from “brownfield” sites alone. Fields and woods will have to go too. A recent paper by John Myers (founder of the group London Yes In My Back Yard) for the Adam Smith Institute, called Yimby: how to end the housing crisis, boost the economy and win more votes, recommends sensible reforms to get people behind sensitive development, mainly by giving streets and parishes control over their destinies. He estimates that a building boom to deliver more housing could raise GDP per capita by a gigantic 25-30 per cent.

Environmentalists were once more honest about this. It is often forgotten just how right-wing the roots of the environmental movement are, especially on population and immigration. Take the book that more than any other defined the birth of the environmental movement as a political force in Britain. It was called A Blueprint for Survival and it began life as a special issue of The Ecologist magazine in 1972. Signed by the great and the good of the green movement and written by Edward Goldsmith, it sold 750,000 copies. It called on the world’s governments to “declare their commitment to ending population growth; this commitment should also include an end to immigration”.

This is misanthropic, and unrealistic, but at least they had the courage of their convictions. They wanted to save the world, or the country, from (other) people, so they wanted fewer people. Those of us, and at least partly I include myself here, who like the preservation of all green spaces but also like welcoming immigrants should surely recognise that we are being hypocritical. We cannot have both.


Leftists Water Down the Meaning of Sexual Assault

George H.W. Bush and Harvey Weinstein are not even remotely in the same ballpark

Lumping actions together for the ease of public shaming or isolating and marginalizing one’s target — the Saul Alinsky method — has become standard in our culture. Forget understanding the true meaning of words. Obscuring them is the order of the day.

For example, we’ve watched the term racism become one of the first weapons leftists brandish to avoid an honest debate, and it’s typically used to bludgeon a conservative opponent rather than discuss a range of policy issues. In an effort to silence any dissenters, the Left has made the entire political Right a collection of “racists.”

But when everyone’s a racist, no one’s a racist when it really counts.

We’re seeing the same with the term sexual assault. Whether it’s the new grievance that’s going to have its own lapel ribbon for solidarity and notoriety, sexual assault victims are too numerous to count in the media in recent days. Make no mistake, authentic sexual assault is a heinous crime, and it belongs nowhere in a civil society. Several accounts of sexual assault have been exposed in recent days with Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein and MSNBC’s Mark Halperin as the exemplars.

Yet from the feminists who demand functional equivalence with men, there’s suddenly an outbreak of complaints of offense about the toxic masculinity that leads to dirty jokes and raucous behavior. The message is, “Let me into your locker rooms. Treat me the same as another guy. But not really.”

Columnist Mona Charen offered a vivid contrast last week between Halperin’s behavior (for which NBC has now fired him) versus that of former President George H.W. Bush, 93 years old and wheelchair-bound with Parkinson’s disease and related dementia.

According to multiple accounts from seven different young women in his work environment, Charen relates that Halperin is accused of “pressing his erect, if clothed, penis against the bodies of young women who worked with and for him.” Charen juxtaposed that with an instance of actress Heather Lind being “triggered” by watching the recent Hurricane Relief broadcast featuring five living former presidents to suddenly publicize an incident from four years earlier. According to Lind’s recollection of her “trauma,” Bush, then 89, touched her backside and told her a dirty joke … in the presence of his wife, Barbara, with cameras rolling as he sat in his wheelchair.

The truth? Again, Bush is wheelchair-bound, so when he puts his arm around someone for a picture, it sometimes slips a little low on their body. To ease tension, his go-to joke is a pun regarding his favorite magician, “David Cop-a-feel.”

That’s simply the tragic result of deteriorating physical and mental health, and it’s nothing like the predatory behavior of Weinstein. But when everything’s sexual assault, nothing’s sexual assault.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.” The EEOC explains that this behavior becomes illegal when the offensive conduct is a condition of employment — that is pervasive in the workplace, creating a hostile, abusive or intimidating environment.

The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network specifies that sexual assault is “unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape.”

So which one of the following public figures has engaged in sexual assault, according to these publicly available and legally utilized definitions?

Former Vice President Joe Biden regularly offered unwanted neck massages and overly zealous public caresses while whispering in the ears of younger, attractive females. His public displays are creepy. Bush’s backside brushes are no different, but neither rise to a legal definition of anything approaching sexual assault.

The pure evil rot of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein includes a list of 82 accusers who say they were in various ways molested, sexually assaulted or raped.

And now there’s actor Kevin Spacey, accused of advances on a then-14-year-old boy. Spacey’s excuse? Forget pedophilia, apparently — he’s having to choose “now to live as a gay man.”

In each of these situations, the focus is on the perpetrator largely because of his status, but there are real victims who’ve been inappropriately touched, threatened or intimidated and led to believe their word would mean nothing if they were to dare disclose the actual crimes against their person.

Yet when a wheelchair-bound old man is lumped into the same group as actual sexual predators, the authentic victims of horrific assault and abuse are diminished and vile perverts are indirectly protected with a watered-down version of the true violence that does occur against women. Simply put, if sexual assault can mean a pat on the buttocks and rape, it means little to nothing.

Recently, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly took to the press room podium. In his remarks on a completely different topic, Kelly hit the proverbial nail on the head when he recalled a better day when “a lot of things were sacred in our country.” Kelly reminisced that, in addition to Gold Star families and the dignity of life and religion, women were sacred to our society and were treated in accordance with that special status.

Today, in the craze to be the same and not just equal, feminists forfeit the specialness and sacredness that should accompany a gender created for purposes that men can’t fulfill. The need to sell headlines, to drive digital clicks and to sensationalize every bit of “news” has corrupted the value and meaning of words that are misappropriated. That misuse, in the case of the horrors of violence against women, diminishes the victims and protects the perpetrators. Oh, and don’t forget that the political Left, under the guise of speech, glorifies, monetizes and makes cause célèbre of women as objects, the distortion of gender and the perversion of sex.

Let’s commit to the dignity of life, the value of the female gender and the act of mutual respect in every aspect of society by correctly identifying misbehavior, punishing illegal acts and understanding both genders.


A Harrowing Trip to 'Flyover Country'

A former resident of the Leftmedia bubble spends a little time with everyday Americans ... who aren't crazy.

If you spend time watching any of the so-called mainstream media outlets, you’ll quickly discover that there’s nothing mainstream about them. The talkingheads, writers and producers of CNN, MSNBC and, yes, in some cases Fox News, think that the DC Swamp reflects the values, mindset and culture of most Americans.

Unfortunately, those who believe what they see on these networks have a grossly distorted understanding of their fellow Americans. CNN viewers, for example, must believe that all those sad souls living between DC and San Francisco are like the prisoners in Plato’s Republic, desperately needing to be led out of the dark cave by enlightened “liberals.”

There are many erroneous assumptions made by the media about Middle America. They think we’re generally a collection of uneducated white supremacists, gun-toters and religious zealots. They think we want the federal government shut down simply because we embrace federalism, or that we want the Old South to rise again when we talk about restoring traditional values.

They forget that we’re the ones who fought against slavery, Jim Crow and the KKK, and that our history is one of standing up for the rights of all Americans. Conversely, the Left is notorious for shutting down anyone with opposing viewpoints, and for oppressing and minimizing those who don’t see things as they do. They don’t merely detest those of us who live far away from the big cities on the coasts; they want to silence us.

Ken Stern, former CEO of National Public Radio, writes, “When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.”

So, he decided to gain some life experience. “For an entire year, I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon’s radio show,” he recounts. “I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (‘cling to guns or religion’) and presidential candidates (‘basket of deplorables’) alike.”

We’re shocked — shocked!

One great example Stern notes: The issue of defensive gun use (DGU) “is often dismissed by the media as myth.” Indeed, to them, anyone who owns a gun is a potential criminal, and the concept that citizens might actually own and use guns as a means of self-defense is as alien to the Left as the idea of free speech. But, Stern explains, “DGUs happen all the time — 200 times a day, according to the Department of Justice, or 5,000 times a day, according to an overly exuberant Florida State University study. But whichever study you choose to believe, DGUs happen frequently and give credence to my hunting friends who see their guns as the last line of defense for themselves and their families.”

See what happens when you actually leave the Mother Ship to meet those strange conservative creatures living on terra firma? You learn that we’re not so crazy, that we have some pretty good ideas about making our country a better place, and that our minds are open to just about anyone willing to consider the idea that constitutionally limited government and Liberty are still worth fighting for.

Some may suggest that the ever-growing chasm between red and blue states is a relatively harmless characteristic, a mere phase of evolution. But this phase is more like a seismic shift of the sort that we haven’t seen in 150 years.

Even during the tumultuous period of the civil rights movement, while blacks and whites couldn’t drink from the same fountains or eat in the same restaurants, we read the same books, believed in a higher power, and watched the same movies. We all believed in free speech, religious liberty, and the basic ideals that founded our country, at least in principle if not always in practice.

Cultural commonalities are essential in keeping society together. These bonds ensure that when there is serious upheaval, we can ride out the storm.

We emerged stronger and even more united after previous upheavals. But this time seems different. We can all feel it, and progressives and conservatives are all talking about it. This time, instead of looking for solutions, we’re pulling away from each other. And unlike conservatives, most of whom are willing and eager to have a discussion, those on the Left seem content only with launching hateful attacks.

Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, writes, “Those who create our culture feel free to lecture normal Americans — on news shows, on late night comedy shows. Why do they have such a propensity for violence? What is their love for guns? Why do they join the National Rifle Association? The influential grind away with their disdain for their fellow Americans, whom they seem less to want to help than to dominate: Give up your gun, bake my cake, free speech isn’t free if what you’re saying triggers us.”

Yep, it’s their way or the highway. But that’s not how our Founding Fathers hashed out a new Constitution in Philadelphia.

Where we go from here is anybody’s guess, but as long as those with the power to influence our culture continue to paint a picture of Middle America as a backwater full of “deplorables,” as long as those with traditional values are belittled and dismissed, and as long as the Left is willing to destroy our constitutional rights to implement their New Society, the divide will grow wider and deeper.


Great literature is not elite literature

Two newspapers and a mass of tweeters panicked around the headline “Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors”, though it was sheepishly corrected a day later. An open letter co-written by a student union officer, Lola Olufemi, had called for “decolonisation” of the English literature syllabus, criticising the “ ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others"

Great literature makes you feel, suffer and laugh with people of other times and cultures, which is why the approach of some decolonisers is depressing. Dr Gopal writes of those “not used to seeing themselves reflected in the mirror of conventional learning — whether women, gay people, disabled people, the working classes or ethnic minorities”. Ms Olufemi deplores the “white male elevated at the expense of all others”. Both are talking as if all our great literature was written by pampered colonialist toffs, possibly with top hats and horsewhips.

But great books, plays and poems are not written by nation-states, and rarely by men of power. They are written by individuals, often vulnerable. When Dr Gopal says “elite white men”, who is she thinking of? Shakespeare the country glovemaker’s son and precarious wandering actor? Dickens, thrown into the blacking factory at 12 with a father in prison? The bankrupt Defoe? Samuel Johnson, dependent on arrogant patrons, who described Jamaican plantations as “dreadful wickedness” and shocked an Oxford dinner party by drinking to “the next insurrection of negroes”? He maintained in his household a freed slave who became his main heir.

Or maybe your cartoon “elitist” is William Blake, a tradesman apprentice often mocked for what we now call mental health “issues”. Or the debt-ridden addict Coleridge. Or George Eliot, having to disguise her gender and unconventional love life. Austen herself was a dependent spinster aunt in an age with little respect for such women (or for governesses like the Brontë sisters). How “elite” is poor Keats, orphaned at eight, nursing his brother’s TB in damp rooms and dead by 25, an outsider who felt his “name was writ in water”? Maybe your idea of a privileged establishment man is Milton, defying parliament and censorship in the magnificent Areopagitica, going blind, dying poor.

To have them all dismissed as Bullingdon bravos, swaggering around at the expense of BME genius, is a bit harsh. Of course some writers always had ease and income (like modern academics). But few of those became the greatest. Outsiders, invalids and mavericks have shone in the despised “canon” for centuries, and most of them would be delighted to encounter “postcolonial” writers from the global south. One academic, Malachi McIntosh, says the canon involves “sepia-tinged nostalgia for a past that never was”. This is unfair. Of course there is such nostalgia: ghastly TV bonnet dramas, empty-headed Downtonalia, Dickens-themed tablemats. But you don’t find it among real scholars, glorying in past magicians of story and language whose sparks still kindle our hearts.

There should be no sides here. Let both show respect and be, as Milton says, “of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, suttle and sinewy to discours”. Not sullen, suspicious and prejudiced.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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