Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This is why they should stick to acting

British actor Bill Nighy has a brain fart idea.

The G8 leaders meeting in Toronto managed to live down to my worst expectations.

I arrived at the G8 by a roundabout route. Just a day earlier, I was standing in Dandora, a toxic tip on the edge of Nairobi where little girls as young as five live on a mound composed of toxic and human waste. They survive by competing with wild pigs for scraps of rubbish, forced to sell their bodies to get access to the richest pickings.

I was there to bear witness to the good work aid does before traveling to the Toronto summit as Oxfam's Global Ambassador. Comic Relief, a British charity, rescues children from this dump and gives them schooling in a safe, almost fairytale environment.

At the G8, I have been lobbying for action, with TV and radio appearances to do what little I can to put pressure on leaders to live up to their aid promises first made in 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland. G8 governments are $20 billion short on those promises due this year. It takes $220 to rescue a girl from Dandora. Just think what a difference that could make in Africa and elsewhere.

The summit did bring the promise of $7.3 billion to improve maternal and child health. Good news, you might think, when a shocking 1,000 women and girls every day die unnecessarily from complications in childbirth and an estimated $10 billion dollars a year is needed to solve the problem.

Sadly, the good news is limited. The money will come over five years. The G8 has promised only $5 billion, the rest will come from a combination of other countries and the Gates Foundation. I find it incredible that with a promise of $1.5 billion over five years, Bill and Melinda Gates are providing almost a third of the total of the world's richest economies.

Worse, the promise of "new" aid is a scandal of creative accounting. With no increase in overall G8 aid, their money will have to be taken from other pots, from the budgets for food, clean water, health or education. I wish someone would tell me how it can be right that a mother's health should be secured by sacrificing her child's schooling.

Now attention shifts to the G20, which has the opportunity to make good the G8's broken promises. Leaders will discuss a simple but brilliant idea for a tax on banks and hedge funds -- dubbed the Robin Hood Tax -- that could raise $400 billion for good causes every year. Oxfam are pressing for half this money to help poor people hit hardest by the economic slump, hunger and climate change.

Gambling by the financial sector was a big cause of the economic crisis but banks, bailed out to the tune of $17 trillion are now returning to bonuses as usual. Banking is the most profitable industry on earth but is taxed the least. With rich governments unwilling to make good on their own promises, surely they can ask bankers to spare some of their small change to help the girls from Dandora and millions more who need a little help from us to get to first base with a chance then to help themselves.

First of all let me say that my heart also goes out to the little girls of Dandora as well.

However I have a few questions I would ask of Mr. Nighy.

Since banks in the developed world are not the cause of poverty in Africa why should they be tasked with relieving it?

The profound poverty in Africa has several causes. Chief among them are socialism, tribalism and the kind of endemic corruption that comes with the absence of any tradition of the rule of law. While handing out food and medicine to the starving and sick is a good thing it does nothing to address the root causes of the suffering.

The truth is that if one wishes to "fix" Africa there is only one course of action that has any hope of being successful. It must be admitted that there is no possibility of any kind of positive reform from within and the only way to really change things for the better is for the whole place to be taken over by an outside agency and run by that agency until there is no one left alive who remembers the way things used to be.

Parenthetically this also the only way to "fix" Chicago. In Chicago's case the outside agency would be the federal government in in Africa's case it would be a coalition of free nations led by someone who knows that socialism has nothing good to offer anyone (think a NATO mission under the absolute command of Vaclav Klaus).

Another question I have for Mr. Nighy is this. Does he even understand the Robin Hood legend? The "rich" that Robin Hood robbed were government officials and the money he took from them was the tax money they had extorted from the productive citizens of the realm. The English people were being excessively taxed and Robin reclaimed that tax money and gave it back to the people who had actually earned it. At no time did Robin take money from someone who had earned it and give it to someone who had not earned it.

Finally I have to wonder if Mr. Nighy has any understanding of economics whatsoever. Doesn't he realize that if banks are taxed that they will simply pass that tax along to their customers by charging higher fees and interest rates on loans and paying smaller rates of return on savings accounts?

Mr. Nighy's resume indicates that he has a very good grasp of the acting trade. I would recommend that he stick with what he knows at least until he reads a few good books on economics. I would highly recommend he start with Human Action.

On, and one other thing. Why does it upset Mr. Nighy that a good sized chunk of the money to help the poor of Africa is coming from a private source?

Is it virtuous when government takes money from someone like Bill Gates and then gives it to the poor but somehow suspect when Mr. Gates gives the money to the poor directly? Doesn't Mr. Nighy realize that government's "administrative overhead" is as high as 90% while the average private charity manages to keep overhead at around 10%?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tearing off the mask

This is a Democrat congressman. His name is Bod Etheridge (D-NC2). This kind of thing is going to happen more and more as we get closer to the November elections.

As the members of the jackass party begin to realize the true depth of their mistake in gambling everything on their young, hip and articulate Marxist president's ability to transform America into a one party state modeled after Castro's Cuba - all within the first two years of his first term.

Now they don't think that they made a mistake because Obama's policies have failed so miserably nor because Obama has proven himself to be so dismally incompetent. No, they think that their mistake was in waking the American people up a bit too early. Before a large enough majority had been made totally dependent upon one kind of government handout or another. Then the people would have no choice but to pull the lever next to the picture of the donkey and hope that the welfare checks might be a little bit bigger next year and that they might be able to get a waiver from the council to paint the front door of their government subsidized flat a different color than the one that was officially decided.

But that was not to be. You see the majority of Americans are still the kind of people who become frightened and angry at the prospect of unemployment.

Apparently Rep. Etheridge is one of those people.

Too bad he just guaranteed it for himself.

Check out his Republican opponent's website here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Why do they keep falling for it?

Remember NYPD Blue, the best cop show ever on TV? There was one episode where a woman came in to the precinct complaining that she had been ripped off by a con man. The man had told her that he had a special box that when "charged up" by his special machine would alter her appearance making her more attractive.

Det. Jill Kirkendall (Andrea Thompson) caught the case and when mentioning it to the other detectives it turned out that Det. Greg Medavoy (Gordon Clapp) was familiar with the con. So they set up a sting to catch the con artist.

The female victim was wired up and sent to meet the con man in a restaurant but the plan hit a snag when the con man started telling the woman how much more beautiful she looked and how attracted he was to her.

She ditched the surveillance operation and slept with the confidence man.

Kirkendall and her female partner couldn't understand how the woman could be so stupid.

I bring all this up because I recently heard the question posed about how a large segment of the American population could be so stupid as to keep voting for politicians who promise to deliver the blessings of big government.

After all this isn't the late 19th century when the ideas of socialism were new and untested. We have, after all, had more than a century to see that attempts to create any kind of secular utopia will always end in disaster.

Canada is having to - yet again - attempt to restructure its socialized health care system, because it is broke and cannot deliver on its promises. Greece is imploding and Spain and Portugal are not far behind - with Italy coming in a close forth in the state bankruptcy sweepstakes. European states which are not completely destitute like Germany and France are contemplating severing their ties to the EU and purging much of the socialism from their own societies (if they can avoid civil war in doing so).

China has had to abandon communism in anything but rhetoric and embrace the market in order to avoid the kind of internal upheaval that got Nicole Ceausecu stood up against a wall and shot. It seems that every day Hugo Chavez nationalizes a new segment of the Venezuelan economy and the Venezuelan GDP and the average Venezuelan's standard of living drops to a new low.

Over and over again the political left's promises of better living through government prove to be nothing but a prescription for disaster. Even when socialism has seemed to deliver a comfortable life to those who live under it in the end it always proves that the supposed "good life" was achieved only by "eating the seed corn" and leaving the people to starve come next winter. This is what is happening to Western Europe today. The lotus eater society of short work weeks, early retirement and cradle to grave entitlements which formed the foundation of their post-war culture has proven to be unsustainable. The bill is coming due and the bill collector seems to speak with a pronounced Arabic accent and to share a world view with Osama bin Laden.

So why do Americans still fall for the promise of big government when there is a vast tapestry of failure of big government for them to view?

Like the woman who slept with the con man who told her she was beautiful after sitting with a wooden box on her head for two hours a night for a week some voters will continue voting for the promises of left-wing politicians because they desperately want to believe.

They want to believe that their problems can be taken over by Washington and solved for them with little or no sacrifice on their own part. They want to believe that a comfortable life can be mandated by a congressional decree. That want to believe that want and hardship and struggle and uncertainty can be eliminated by the benevolent actions of a higher secular power.

In the end this desperate desire to rely upon government to smooth over the rough places and always be there with a safety net should we fall represents nothing more than a desire to return to the womb, to the last place where we felt completely safe and secure.

But there are two things we must remember. One is that a fetus in the womb consumes but is incapable of producing anything. A nation of fetus's cannot sustain itself and must collapse.

And two, the last time big government had anything to do with life in the womb it was to create a constitutional right to abortion on demand.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Morning rant

Just a quick rant before I have to run off to work.

As someone who loves the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast I am as dismayed by what is happening in regard to the still unfolding ecological disaster as anyone. However my desire to see America drill for every drop of oil, both on land and off shore, that we have has not diminished.

We simply need to oil too badly. It is the fuel which powers or economy and makes possible our liberty and our life style. We live longer than any people in history we are less troubled by disease and only a tiny percentage of our children die in infancy or early childhood - unlike the nearly 50% who used to only a few hundred years ago.

One of the largest health problems facing our poor is obesity. Imagine another time in the history of the world when one of the primary problems facing the people at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder was that they had too damn much food!

Thanks to planes, trains and automobiles we are the most mobile people in the history of the world. Our military is the most powerful combat force in the history of the world. We have more information at our fingertips on virtually any topic, from current events to particle physics, than any people in history. We have more consumer choices than any people in history and more leisure time in which to enjoy those choices.

While all these benefits flow from our capitalist free market economic system and our system of limited government with plenty of checks and balances none of them would be possible without the added blessing of relatively inexpensive energy.

This is why the free flow of oil at market prices is one of America's most pressing strategic interests. And that is why America must "drill baby drill" at all costs.

However the need for oil and the need to accept risks to get at the oil does not automatically mean that what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico today is/was inevitable. The fact is that what is happening right now is, to borrow a phrase, a man-made catastrophe of epic proportions.

And I lay the lion's share of the blame for the current disaster at the feet of two stupid and irresponsible parties. One is the environmental movement (and the Democrat party which aids and abets them) and the other is the state government of Florida.

Those two moronic entities are the primary reason that the oil rig which blew up was far out in deep water rather than much closer to shore in much shallower water.

If the rig had been in shallow water the leak would have been plugged withing three days (at most) and the oil slick could have been contained well enough that it would have been an inconvenience rather than a calamity.

But eco-loons who hate the very idea of oil in the first place and Florida politicians - Jeb Bush prominent among them - who are in the pocket of Florida's tourist industry shut down shallow water drilling in the Gulf and off Florida's coast.

Well look what their activism has brought about. The fragile wetlands of the Gulf coast and the beautiful beaches of both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida are in danger from a gushing deep-water oil well which no one seems able to cap. When, let me repeat, a shallow well would have been capped withing a few days.

I hope that all the enemies of shallow water drilling are fraking proud of themselves.