As we approach Summer of Recovery 3 (TM) the song and dance team in Babylon on the Potomac are frantically assuring us that we are getting better in every day in every way, hoping that we won’t notice the stench of decay and corruption becoming ever more nauseating. Bill over at Apocalypse Cometh details the numbers:
“More workers joined the federal government’s disability program in March than got new jobs, according to two new government reports, a clear indicator of how bleak the nation’s jobs picture is after three full years of economic recovery.”
In addition, while hiring has been very weak during the recovery, the number of people who have dropped out of the labor force entirely has exploded by 7.3 million since June 2009, an IBD analysis of BLS data show. Some aged into retirement, but most either signed up for disability, stayed in school, moved back in with parents, or just quit looking for a job. The participation in the labor force [is now 63.8%, down from 65.7% in June 2009] as a percentage is the lowest it’s been in the history of this country.
The number of people with jobs is still nearly 5 million below its pre-recession peak.
The number of long-term unemployed — those out of work 27 weeks or more — is still 5.4 million — almost 1 million higher than when the recovery began, and almost twice the level it ever reached prior to Obama’s recovery.”
That’s the gist of it. There are a few more nuggets in there, and the kicker at the end, which will likely surprise you, it did me.
Over at The Belmont Club Richard Fernandez has an excellent article on the perishability of conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is what everybody knows to be true because everybody believes it and that many people can’t be wrong. He does not use the term, but essentially it is the phenomenon of social proof. Every advertising and marketing professional worth his salt understands and uses this mechanism (For an excellent treatment of the subject read Influence by Robert Cialdini). The Left has used this among other ways to shape the mind space of America and the West for generations. The nature of the beast is that the more people believe it the more people tend to believe it, a self reinforcing feedback loop.
This is not an evil phenomenon in itself, it is simply a mechanism built into the human psyche. The Founders understood this and used this as one of the means at their disposal to form a people steeped in the ideas of individual liberty and the virtues that enable a society to exemplify those ideals in the life of the nation. The fact is that groups of people have foisted an alien ideology on Americans which is inimical to those values propounded by the Founders to such an extent that those foreign values have become normative for vast swaths of the population.
Guiding principles can be good or bad or somewhere in between. Critical thinking, never really a strong point of the mass of Homo Sapiens (ironic that sapiens means ‘wise.’), is not only generally absent from public discourse but is shouted down when it rears its perspicacious head. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so the truth value of guiding principles is in the success or failure of their implementation. Bad ideas have bad consequences which when taken to their logical conclusion (as they always are) have catastrophic consequences, just ask the exiles of the Babylonian Captivity or the former inmates of the USSR. In the US today the failures of the Left have not been felt strongly enough to have been seen to fail catastrophically. Detroit would be an indicator of such a failure, but it is too localized to serve as a general warning to those in the thrall of Progressive conventional wisdom.
So what’s a conservative to do? Exercise the prophetic voice (egad, how Biblical!). In Biblical times the prophet was God’s spokesman who spoke to His people what was on His mind. I suggest that in to day’s world the prophetic voice speaks truth to people about what’s going on. A prophet isn’t a predictor of the future save in a very limited sense. The classical prophetic utterance consisted of four parts: denounce apostasy and sin; threaten punishment in consequence; call to faithfulness and virtue; promise of consequent blessings. I need hardly mention the fact that the lives of the prophets never lived comfortable lives nor did the prophetic gift rest easily on them.
It may be that the collapse the insane principles of the Left are moving us towards may yet be avoided, or it may not. If it is avoided it will be through the sounding of the prophetic voice by Americans faithful to the Founding vision. If not, those who emerge from the rubble will be shattered men in search of leadership. At this point a strong, tyrannical leader who gets things done will be the preferred choice of most people, unless the prophetic voice, once so annoying, can still be heard calling for a return to true principles and true hope.
Watermelon activists are out in force during Earth Day and Earth Hour. A Watermelon is green on the outside and red on the inside, and is a term of derogation for environmental activists with socialist principles. After the fall of the Soviet Union thousands upon thousands of dedicated Socialists were cut adrift from their allegiance to the USSR and Comintern. Their Church of Communism had collapsed, and they were cast out into the night wailing and gnashing their teeth. Many quietly lost the Faith and committed the ultimate apostasy by Selling Out and rebuilding their lives without their subscription to The Socialist Worker. Many more, however, never lost their convictions and simply transplanted themselves into the burgeoning environmental movement where they agitate for the destruction of Capitalism and Western Civilization in the name of a new deity, Gaia, in place of Marx, Dialectical Materialism and the Worker’s Paradise. This is why the Sierra Club, once a serious and sane environmental group, has devolved into lunacy. Probably the most outre among these is the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which argues that humans should voluntarily refrain from procreating until Homo Sapiens Sapiens is extinct. Logically, this cannot be justified as being done for the benefit of the children, so it must be a voluntary human sacrifice to Gaia. I am not certain whether the makers of this banner are serious or being merely ironic, but I do notice that those who promote these kinds of ideas never lead by example.
And it is, as you would expect, all backwards. Matt Ridley explains:
With Cyprus unable to convince anyone to bail it out the banks will remain closed until at least next week. And when they reopen they may be subject to capital controls.
Nobody knows exactly what this may involve. But Max Keiser notes that the restrictions could include, but not necessarily be limited to the following:
Restrictions in daily withdrawals
Ban on premature termination of time savings deposits
Compulsory renewal of all time savings deposits upon maturity
Conversion of current accounts to time deposits
Ban or restrictions on non cash transactions
Restrictions on use of debit, credit or prepaid debit cards
Ban or restriction on cashing in checks
Restrictions on domestic interbank transfers or transfers within the same bank
Restrictions on the interactions/transactions of the public with credit institutions
Restrictions on movements of capital, payments, transfers
Even though these have not been enacted as yet their impact is being felt, and how.
I went to the pharmacy today to buy some milk and medicine for my 3-year-old and the pharmacist informed me that they were no longer taking credit or debit cards. It’s cash only, because that’s what their suppliers are demanding. The same is true at several gas stations on the island, and I don’t doubt that more will soon follow …
We know what happens then. Cyprus shows us. A European country goes from credit, to plastic, to cash, then barter, and then finally, unless the process is halted, to guns, knives and clubs, teeth and fingernails.
Nicholas Nassim Taleb and Russ Roberts discuss the counter intuitive fact is that the stronger we make the system the more inflexible it becomes. The more inflexible it becomes the more fragile it becomes. Ideally our economy would be flexible in such a way that the shocks of the boom and bust cycle and bounce back with a minimum of pain. Maybe we will re-learn that lesson after we’ve had our noses rubbed in it some more.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ – United Nations weapons inspectors have confirmed the announcement on Monday by the Iraqi government that its soldiers had finally discovered Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program, completely upending the history of the Iraq War, once viewed as a pointless quagmire but now seen as a tough but necessary conflict.
The weapons, more than five thousand sarin gas artillery shells, six thousand gallons of anthrax, and two crude nuclear weapons, were located on Sunday in a previously-undiscovered bunker on the Syrian border by a pair of Iraqis who were using the structure as a makeshift toilet.
Well, well, well. I would guess that this is evidence that even the Mainstream Propaganda Machine can’t ignore, except that they have ignored so much else over the years, including plenty of evidence that these weapons existed both prior to and during the war, including that reported by the Iraq Survey group. In so far as the latter is concerned, I recall very clearly all the “news” outlets trumpeting Dr. Kay’s words, “We found not WMD in Iraq” while ignoring the follow on sentence, “What we found led us to conclude that Iraq was a much more dangerous place than we had initially believed.” But maybe I would be guessing wrong. Maybe its because the occupant of the White House is no longer George W. Bush and the new occupant can wrap himself in the aura of satisfaction and relief that this news has engendered.