More TED Talks

As I wrote in another post, I think the Ted Talks site will keep me supplied with material for years to come. The attraction is the shallowness that is weirdly masquerading as high brow intellectualism. It’s a post-modern version of the old Three Stooges bit Swingin’ the Alphabet. Well, if it were on purpose. Lampooning high culture can be quite clever, when it is done on purpose. The TED Talk crowd is doing it by accident. This one on inequality is funny to me for some reason.

The great inequality of income and wealth in the world, and within the United States, is deeply troubling. It seems, even to many of us who benefit from this inequality, that something should be done to reduce or eliminate it. But why should we think this? What are the strongest reasons for trying to bring about greater equality of income and wealth?

One obvious reason for redistributing resources from the rich to the poor is simply that this is a way of making the poor better off. In his TED Talk on “effective altruism,” Peter Singer advances powerful reasons of this kind for voluntary redistribution: Many people in the world are poor, and the improvement in their lives that richer people can bring about by giving money is enormous by comparison with the small sacrifice that this would involve.

How much you want to bet that T. M. Scanlon, the guy responsible for those lines, gives next to nothing to charity? The people most troubled about the poor tend to do the least for the poor. That’s unfair of me, I know, but I’m not a nice person. As to his query, that answer has been supplied a million times in a million places. Lefty gets comfortably set in the upper middle-class and then starts to feel guilty. Lacking any sense of self-awareness, they declare it a “deeply troubling” social problem, which means more laws and more taxes on the rest of us.

Amazingly, the idea that there may be a reason why some people have nothing and others have extra is never mentioned in these disquisitions on inequality. I see poor people every day. I can give a lot of reasons for it. I’ve been to some dirt poor countries. In five minutes I can point out a dozen reasons why they are poor. Giving these people money is not solving anything. Once again, the people who are most concerned about poverty know the least about poor people.

Further along, the reasons he gives for wanting to force you to do something about inequality (as long as it does not cost him time or money) are interesting.

1. Economic inequality can give wealthier people an unacceptable degree of control over the lives of others.

If wealth is very unevenly distributed in a society, wealthy people often end up in control of many aspects of the lives of poorer citizens: over where and how they can work, what they can buy, and in general what their lives will be like. As an example, ownership of a public media outlet, such as a newspaper or a television channel, can give control over how others in the society view themselves and their lives, and how they understand their society.

Where has this ever been otherwise? Name a newspaper of any size owned by poor people. Name a poor person owned TV station. How about a government staffed with hobos? Under every imagined form of government in human history, the rulers have been in charge of the ruled. That’s why they are called rulers. They also have more stuff, more food and power over the lives of the ruled.

2. Economic inequality can undermine the fairness of political institutions.

If those who hold political offices must depend on large contributions for their campaigns, they will be more responsive to the interests and demands of wealthy contributors, and those who are not rich will not be fairly represented.

Steve Sailer likes to point out that liberals forget they have been in charge for close to a century. For forty years in America we have had laws against rich people making big contributions to office holders. In that time the influence of the rich has grown so much that government pretty much caters to them exclusively. Europe has seen a similar results. Maybe that’s a clue?

3. Economic inequality undermines the fairness of the economic system itself.

Economic inequality makes it difficult, if not impossible, to create equality of opportunity. Income inequality means that some children will enter the workforce much better prepared than others. And people with few assets find it harder to access the first small steps to larger opportunities, such as a loan to start a business or pay for an advanced degree.

Again, when has this ever been otherwise? The various Marxist schemes that professor Scanlon prefers have produced exactly this result. In fact, they were exaggerated under communism.

4. Workers, as participants in a scheme of cooperation that produces national income, have a claim to a fair share of what they have helped to produce.

What constitutes a fair share is of course controversial. One answer is provided by John Rawls’ Difference Principle, according to which inequalities in wealth and income are permissible if and only if these inequalities could not be reduced without worsening the position of those who are worst-off. You don’t have to accept this exact principle, though, in order to believe that if an economy is producing an increasing level of goods and services, then all those who participate in producing these benefits — workers as well as others — should share in the result.

But what did they produce? In my neighborhood, there are households that have not produced anything but mayhem for generations. In some of our more vibrant neighborhoods, there are three generations of some households in the same state prison. How about the guy who sells meth for a living? He may not be a burden on the state, as far welfare and prison costs, but he is burden on society. What’s his share?

The trouble with these disquisitions on inequality is not that they are mere sentimentality. The trouble is the sentiment is imaginary. No one really believes inequality is a problem, save for maybe a few bitter Marxists in your local state college faculty lounge. These are those old rancid hippies who have posters of Che Guevara on their office wall. No, the people who prattle on about inequality simply wish to replace the current inequalities that don’t favor them with a new set that do favor them.

You’ll note that the people convulsed by Piketty’s book are the managerial classes. These are the maidservants and coat holders for the ruling elite. A guy like T. M. Scanlon looks at a Mitt Romney and wonders how this boob got to be a billionaire. An Elizabeth Warren, making calls to beg for campaign cash wonders why she, a Harvard professor, should be begging these rich bastards for money. The credentialed members of the managerial class want more power and thus they complain about inequality.

It’s a Cult

I’ve been calling American Liberalism a cult for a long time. I get some grief for it from normal people, because they think I’m engaging in name calling. There’s some truth to it. The word cult has some baggage. We typically think of cults having a leader, a person who is worshiped. That leader is more than a little nuts and eventually leads his followers to a Jonestown like end. Of course, this the point at which right thinking people begin to see I’m probably right about these people. The messianic nature of American Liberalism is not always obvious, but it’s right there if look hard at the Left.

Modern times and the trendiness of the Left means their various beliefs burst forth for a while and then recede into the background, only to come around again with a new marketing pitch. State rationed health care is a good example. The American Left has been dreaming of it since they discovered Bismark. Every ten years or so they have a new way to pitch having their cult decide how much and how often you get medical treatment.

The cultish properties of American Progressives is clear in the story of ObamaCare. It was supposed to be the final step into the Eden of free health care for all. The rank and file members of the Cult of Modern Liberalism were convinced that a fountain of unlimited health care was hidden away somewhere, maybe next to the golden plates Joseph Smith found out west. If they could slay the evil insurance monsters that guard it, the people would be free to dip their cups into it and get all the health care they desired – free! They used different words, but that was the sales pitch and they truly believed it. They still do.

Then reality, that thing that does not go away when you stop believing in it, came roaring into the room. Millions saw their policies canceled. I’m on my third cancellation. Rates went up and the public went crazy. As was described in When Prophecy Fails, the Left was at first stunned into silence. The disconfirmation was soul crushing. Instead of Eden, the result was chaos. Then, the faithful rallied and they are now ready to proselytize once again.

You’re looking at the biggest story involving the federal budget and a crucial one for the future of the American economy. Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning.

The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak — combined. It’s equal to about one-fifth of the expected Pentagon budget in 2019. Widely discussed policy changes, like raising the estate tax, would generate just a tiny fraction of the budget savings relative to the recent changes in Medicare’s spending estimates.

In more concrete terms, the reduced estimates mean that the federal government’s long-term budget deficit is considerably less severe than commonly thought just a few years ago. The country still faces a projected deficit in future decades, thanks mostly to the retirement of the baby boomers and the high cost of medical care, but it is not likely to require the level of fiscal pain that many assumed several years ago.

The reduced estimates are also an indication of what’s happening in the overall health care system. Even as more people are getting access to health insurance, the costs of caring for individual patients is growing at a super-slow rate. That means that health care, which has eaten into salary gains for years and driven up debt and bankruptcies, may be starting to stabilize as a share of national spending.

You see? The prophesies were true! The prophesies were true! The Great Pumpkin will bring free health care for all!

Keep in my that this what “data driven journalism” really means. It is the old time religion sprinkled with statistics. To the faithful, “data” are a topping, like jimmies on an ice cream sundae. The “data” presented here are both fanciful and useless. The threat to Medicare is not cost per patient. The threat is the number of patients when the Boomer retirement is in full bloom. Driving the cost per patient down a few bucks is nothing when the number of patients is growing geometrically.

But, that’s how it goes in a cult. They need to believe and so they will always believe. It took 100 million corpses and 150 years for Communism to finally die. In my youth, American lefties would say that communism was never really tried and that Bolshevism was not true Marxism. I don’t think they were ever convinced to drop it. The Left just decided to go with Cultural Marxism, figuring the economics would take care of itself.

Transitive Victimhood

I’m thinking TED Talks will provide me endless material for this blog. It is a fountain of post-modern weirdness. There’s a creepy feelies quality to these things. It really is Mercerism, just without the empathy boxes. This one has the bonus of transitive victim-hood. That’s where a beautiful person gets to wear the crown of victim-hood, without actually being a victim. They just feel for the victims enough that they can feel as if they are a victim too.

Now, I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life in India, lived in three small towns, two major cities, and I’ve had several experiences. When I was seven, a private tutor who used to come home to teach me mathematics molested me. He would put his hand up my skirt. He put his hand up my skirt and told me he knew how to make me feel good. At 17, a boy from my high school circulated an email detailing all the sexually aggressive things he could do to me because I didn’t pay attention to him. At 19, I helped a friend whose parents had forcefully married her to an older man escape an abusive marriage. At 21, when my friend and I were walking down the road one afternoon, a man pulled down his pants and masturbated in front of us. We called people for help, and nobody came. At 25, when I was walking home one evening, two men on a motorcycle attacked me. I spent two nights in the hospital recovering from trauma and injuries.

Other than her tutor coping a feel and getting mugged as an adult, this woman may as well have seen all of these things on youtube. In a few cases, she just read about the events. Getting beat up is no fun, but hardly the end of the world. I was beaten with a bat once. I could not see for a week. Can I give a TED Talk?

So throughout my life, I’ve seen women — family, friends, colleagues — live through these experiences, and they seldom talk about it. So in simple words, life in India is not easy. But today I’m not going to talk to you about this fear. I’m going to talk to you about an interesting path of learning that this fear took me on.

My sense is these Ted Talk things are aimed at middle aged moonbat women. I have this image of matrons with dangle earrings and lots of scarves sitting enraptured as the speaker emotes about the topic. The word “experience” is popular with old hens for some reason. They also like “empower”  and “learning.” I see those words a lot, usually not meaning what normal people think they mean. This sentence later in her pitch is a good example.

But I was soon to learn that this was not all. As empowered as I felt with the new liberty that this citizen journalism channel gave me, I found myself in an unfamiliar situation.

I fear I may hurt myself trying to unriddle that sentence. Strangely, it reminds me of the time I tried cocaine. I felt powerful and free and then in an unfamiliar situation too!

Towards the end, she delivers this sentence.

Don’t get me wrong, the challenges that women will face in telling their stories is real, but we need to start pursuing and trying to identify mediums to participate in our system and not just pursue the media blindly.

I now get the image of heads exploding in the audience. What in the hell does that mean? She may as well be speaking in tongues.

That’s the thing with the post-modern lingo in these speeches. The words are just there to titillate the listener. One of my favorite examples is the word passion. Moonbat women I know always have passion for stuff. “I’m passionate for breast cancer.” “I’m a passionate advocate for woman’s rights.” The word “advocate” is another magic word. I once made the mistake of telling a moonbat friend that Hitler was a passionate advocate too. I love that gag, but she’s still pissed at me for it.

The weird thing with this talk is that the woman giving it is getting all the credit for being a sympathetic victim, without actually being a victim. She’s blending gravity altering self-absorption with exploitation of the true victims to make herself rich and famous. When you strip away the gooey emotionalism, there’s a grubbiness to it. It’s a modern take on the old fashioned faith healer. The only thing missing here is the passing of the hat.

 

Fools And Their Money

Way back in the olden thymes, I worked in the Imperial Capital. I was just a kid and that allowed me access to a lot of scuttlebutt. That may seem odd, but no one has anything to fear from a kid running errands and doing office tasks. Consequently, the young people, mostly interns and pages, used to hear and see more dirt than just about anyone else. In the age of cell phones, that’s probably no longer true, but in the olden thymes, cell phones did not exist.

The thing about people in power is they don’t have a high regard for rich people. We like to think that the rich run the pols, but it is not really that way. The powerful of DC live pretty well by normal standards. The currency of DC is power and influence. Knowing how the system works counts for a lot more than money. Knowing who to call will always trump the ability to stroke a check. Lots of people have money. Few people know the right number to dial.

As a result, there’s a degree of contempt for the rich, in general, amongst the ruling class. The Rodney Dangerfield rich guys who barges in thinking they can buy their way into the right parties are particularly loathed by the Ted Baxter set. Even so, the sophisticated classes that run things in Washington are very good at handling wealthy rubes from the provinces. They want their money, of course. They just don’t want to put up with the bullshit that rich people bring with them.

So, they direct them into harmless endeavors. I once had the task of giving some rich guy and his old lady the tour of a UNICEF office. I knew nothing about UNICEF, but the congressman I worked for was on their board, I think. Maybe it was his wife. I was young and earnest looking so I guess I filled a role in the hustle. It was a long time ago and all I remember is how flattered the rich people looked. A Congressman’s wife and her people doting on the rich people made for a good show.

Later in life I figured out that the game was to guide the rich dumbasses into funding projects that employed friends of the political class. It was a form of patronage. It was also a way to keep the rich people from doing something stupid. Think about all of the Hollywood assholes who get involved in a cause. Most of them can’t count their balls twice and come up with the same number, but they are loaded and they have free time. That’s a dangerous combo if they want to “make a difference.”

That’s what you see with Bill Gates and his gun grabbing efforts. The nitwit who wrote the article is generally clueless, but that’s part of the game. The Left needs to keep tools like Cliff Schecter toiling in the fields.

Somewhere in a large glass tower in Northern Virginia, there’s a guy who runs guns with a French name having a bad day. With good reason.

It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.

The ballot issue in question, #594 is largely a nothing initiative. It requires a background check for private transfers of firearms. This is a favorite hobbyhorse issue for the crackpots because they think it will lead to registration and then confiscation.

You see, there’s no way to enforce regulation of private sales without registration. Registration is the precursor to confiscation. The trouble is it will never survive court challenge. Imagine needing a permit to post comments on the Internet. That’s how the courts will treat this measure.

The bigger problem for the gun-grabbers is that another initiative on the ballot would forbid background checks and it has broad support as well. But, some low-level flunkies get a paycheck for a while courtesy of rich suckers like Bill Gates. That’s what counts.

 

Free Rubber Dick Man!

I’ve mentioned in some of my Ferguson posts that we have given way too much discretion to the cops. So much so they can just make up laws on the fly. Here’s an hilarious example from Pittsburgh.

A young man is facing charges stemming from an unusual incident in Westmoreland County Monday.

Skyler Connor, 18, of New Derry, is facing a disorderly conduct charge for waving a rubber penis at passing motorists.

According to police, the incident happened on Route 30 in Unity Township around 6 p.m.

Connor was a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle at the time.

The people who wrote the disorderly conduct laws never intended to give the cops the power to regulate teenage pranks. The intent of such laws are to prevent people from disrupting the normal functioning of public activities. Someone drunk in public harassing citizens is an example. Tying up traffic with some sort of distraction like a parade float or naked women could be a public nuisance. A kid waving around a rubber dick is not disrupting public order.

This is also a good example of anarcho-tyranny. You can be sure the cop who made the arrest had a few grand worth of battle gear and a squad car kitted out like a starship. The cops are hyper-vigilant about stupid things like this that have no value to society. Yet, these same cops cannot be bothered to look for stolen cars or roust the hobos out of the local library. The cops treat the citizens as a nuisance, rather than the people they serve.

 

Undervalued

I found this linked over at ZeroHedge.

Employees with degrees in fields like English, general studies, and graphic design are among the most likely to report feeling “underemployed” at their current jobs. This is according to a recent survey of 68,000 workers by salary information firm PayScale.

Liberal arts majors (I’m one of them!) are used to being the punchline in jokes about un- and underemployment. But more unexpectedly, majorities of graduates with more “practical” degrees in fields like business administration also said their jobs didn’t put their education, training or experience to work as much as they should.

What is left out is the fact there are maybe 1,000 Business majors for every one physics major. According to this paper, physics majors are 0.36% of all undergrad degrees. Frankly, that seems high, but they include minors in the total. The point being the typical business major is wasting his time and money getting a degree in business. Unless he is also getting a degree in accounting, he is learning nothing of value in college.

The sad truth is we turned college into a quasi-IQ test. If you get into Harvard, it means you have a top-5% IQ or your parents are loaded. Young people at state colleges are paying $50K to get a piece of paper that tells future employers they can sit still, follow directions and have basic literacy and numeracy. The private school degree adds the claim of an above average IQ. It also costs $100K for the diploma.

We really would be better off letting employers administer IQ tests again. Blacks would not like it, but employers will still need to have vibrancy. Passing a literacy test freely offered by an employer beats paying a college $50K for it. It certainly beats having a trillion dollar student debt bubble that is about to burst.

 

The Collapse of Order

I’ve mentioned before that I’m re-reading Gibbon. One of things that I keep returning to is how the respect for order eroded amongst the ruling classes of Rome. Once the elites lost respect for the laws and customs it was just a matter of time before the whole thing collapsed. The allowances made for ambitious men and the exceptions made for the sake of expediency eventually gutted the rationale for the Republic.

It’s not just that some men saw the laws and customs as obstacles to circumvent. Those people are always a part of the ruling class. What you have to have, to maintain order, is a willingness to hold them to the law and punish them for their transgressions. That’s what is clear from Marius forward. The ruling elite could no longer police itself and respect for the laws and customs of the Republican collapsed.

Anyway, take a look at this story from the Lunatic Times.

The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.

“If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a top climate change official in the Clinton administration who works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.

Just look at the casual disregard for the fundamental tenets of the Constitution. You cannot have a republic if the President can willy-nilly sign treaties with other countries. A treaty binds the people of one nation to those of another. Only the people can consent to this. We do that through our chosen representatives in the legislature. What these people are doing is a direct assault on the foundations of the Republic.

If we had a healthy ruling class, Obama would be swinging from a tree branch by now.

Stupid People

One of things I find most annoying about modern times is the solipsism. Everyone is convinced that their ignorance is an important counter to whatever it is you’re saying. The typical formulation is something like “I’ve never heard of ….” That is a response to some statement that contradicts the official narrative. My intern, who I immortalized the other day, used to say this a lot.

Megan McArdle had a different take on this the other day. In the middle of her post she has this summary of the phenomenon.

I’m always fascinated by the number of people who proudly build columns, tweets, blog posts or Facebook posts around the same core statement: “I don’t understand how anyone could (oppose legal abortion/support a carbon tax/sympathize with the Palestinians over the Israelis/want to privatize Social Security/insert your pet issue here).” It’s such an interesting statement, because it has three layers of meaning.

The first layer is the literal meaning of the words: I lack the knowledge and understanding to figure this out. But the second, intended meaning is the opposite: I am such a superior moral being that I cannot even imagine the cognitive errors or moral turpitude that could lead someone to such obviously wrong conclusions. And yet, the third, true meaning is actually more like the first: I lack the empathy, moral imagination or analytical skills to attempt even a basic understanding of the people who disagree with me.

In short, “I’m stupid.” Something that few people would ever post so starkly on their Facebook feeds.

The other stuff about the wrongness of calling people stupid is whatever you want to make of it. I happen to think pointing out the stupid is useful. If we’re not going to let the stupid eliminate themselves from society, we better do what we can to identify them. The stupid are always a danger to others.

Anyway, way back in the olden thymes when Al Gore, peace be upon him, was still working on the details of his contrivance, solipsism changed from a character flaw into a weird defense against uncomfortable facts or opinions. I recall having e-mail exchanges with friends where they would insist on links to back up some point. If you could not furnish a link, then it was assumed your point was invalid.

The simplification of Al Gore’s contrivance through networking platforms like message boards, Facebook and now Twitter has gifted this idiocy to the masses. Maybe before the information barrage, it was easy to avoid people and words that were unwanted. The response to this change in the human condition is to pretend their can be no thoughts, feeling or ideas that are not your own. The more we crowd together, the more we become isolated.

ISIS & The Ghetto

The former Half Sigma posted this today.

The Middle East is going to hell, and the reason is Obama’s withdrawal from activist foreign policy, allowing things to just happen, because under Obama’s anti-neo-colonialist belief system, American involvement is always bad for the native people.

The Middle East is a bad neighborhood in the global community, just like within the United States there are bad neighborhoods like Ferguson. Although the people in Ferguson hate the cops, without cops they rob and kill each other and go on looting and pillaging rampages. (Which never happens in good neighborhoods. Did anyone riot on the Upper West Side when Bush beat Gore by a handful of votes?) If anything, knowing that they really need white racist cops in order to keep law and order only makes them hate the cops more. But when the cops withdraw and let stuff happen, the result is riots where the people destroy their own neighborhood.

Obama’s Middle East “strategy” was to let Syria and Iraq deal with their own problems, and the result of this non-intervention (which is the foreign policy endorsed by Ron and Rand Paul and the Paulites who leave comments on my blog) is that the region goes to hell and the Islamic State arises. The Islamic State is far more powerful than al-Qaeda ever was. Al-Qaeda was able to pull off a few terrorist attacks, but the Islamic State controls an army that may number in the tens of thousands and they are winning a war against “real” armies like those of Syria and Iraq.

I can still hear those Paulites thinking “so how is this our problem?” Well eventually, the Islamic State will export their ideology outside of Iraq and Syria. An estimated 12,000 of the fighters of the Islamic State are outsiders from other countries, many even from the West. There are hundreds of citizens from Western countries fighting for the Islamic State, and when they return home they will become an Islamic fifth column.

Just as bad neighborhoods like Ferguson needs cops, the world also needs a cop to keep order, and only the United States is able to fulfill that role.

The underlying argument here is that some people and some parts of the world need constant supervision. Someone has to be the game warden and police these people and places. Otherwise, they get out of control. That’s not an irrational position. I don’t necessarily agree, but I don’t think it is crazy either.

The question, as is true of all public policy, is what are the trade offs to the policy choices? Doing nothing, as libertarians prefer, has costs. Big parts of the world and big swaths of America would slip from the grasp of civilization. The Reason Magazine crowd would never set foot in my neighborhood even under ideal conditions. Take away the cops and that weirdo who wears the leather jacket on TV is not getting within 100 miles of my little slice of heaven.

On the other hand, the cost of being the world’s cop is steep. The citizens have a right to wonder if it makes sense to pay for keeping Iraq or Libya under control. Today, a lot of white people are wondering if it makes sense to even bother policing the ghetto. All they get is a bunch of grief and a bill for higher property taxes.

The problem with the comparison is I have no moral obligation to safeguard the wellbeing of Libyans or Syrians. I do have a moral obligation to do what I can to safeguard the wellbeing of my fellow citizens. Just because they live in the ghetto and like to burn their neighborhood down does not relive me of that obligation. Not all of them are rioting, not even most. They are my people and as a citizen I have duty to them.

The thing no one likes to discuss in either realm is when is it enough? At what point have I done enough to fulfill my duties to my country? Where’s the limit to what we can do for the people of Syria or Libya? A politician that stands up and says, “The blacks have generous welfare programs, easy access to drugs and alcohol and plenty of food. That’s all we are obligated to supply them” is not going to be around long. Whether you agree with him or not, you prefer not to look that bit of reality in the eye. You’d rather not answer the phone than tell your brother you won’t lend him any more money.

It is the free rider problem. If we sealed off the Middle East, stopped shipping them food, technology and culture, the resulting riots, mayhem and bloodletting would make Ferguson look like Utopia. In other words, without the West, a few billion people in tumbledown parts of the world die within a few months. Similarly, without the American tax payer, about a third of the American public falls back into the 19th century. Mississippi and West Virginia don’t become Iraq, but they get a lot poorer.

The trouble is we have no good way of saying no to those who want to ride in the cart. Religion used to make that easy. Riding in the cart was immoral for the able bodied. Religion allowed us to be quite harsh with those who would not pull their weight. Just as important, good people felt good telling the able bodied to get off their ass and get a job. Similarly, Americans had no trouble bringing the hammer down on dependent foreign populations when they got out of line. Being the world’s cop is easy when you think God is on your side.

Lemon Lies

If you’re a gun nut, you probably know about the Don Lemon flap over his preposterous claims about buying machine guns in Colorado. Frankly, I would not know Don Lemon if I drove over him with my truck. I’m not even sure I have CNN on my television system. Plus, there have been so many foolish claims by the media regarding guns, I no longer pay attention.The only reason I’m aware of this story is it has been bouncing around the 2A community.

The striking thing about gun grabbers is how little they know about guns, gun laws and gun statistics. It’s just another example of how America is a foreign country to the typical media member. I think that’s why these types of stories get so much traction in the gun owning community. The lies are intended to dismiss gun owners as cranks.

Charles Cooke, a British import at National Review, has been all over it. Like a lot of Europeans who move here, Mr. Cooke has become a gun nut. I’ve known a few of them. It’s not that other countries restrict firearms so much as they don’t have a gun culture. The first time I traveled to Texas for business, my host took me to a range after work. Americans like shooting guns. You just don’t run into that everywhere. Heck, I’ve been on dates to the gun range. Mr. Cooke has embraced that part of his new country with gusto.

The question I asked in the comments is if there’s any proof Lemon ever bought a gun of any type. It is a huge pain to buy a gun in another state. Most states have laws against transferring firearms to non-residents. The FFL dealer will work with another dealer in your home state, but the home state controls the purchase. That way, they can make sure you’re not dodging local laws. You can buy from a private seller, but that’s not the claim Lemon made on TV.

As an endowment level member of the NRA, I naturally went to the NRA-ILA site to see the local laws in Colorado. It seems to me that Colorado is like any other state. They would have forced Lemon to go through a local FFL in his home state to complete the transfer. I’m also skeptical about his confusion over full auto versus semi-auto. How do you not know that after having bought an AR-15?

I think Don Lemon is probably lying about all of it. He would not be the first nitwit from the media to get caught like this. These people know so little about firearms and firearms laws, they don’t know how ridiculous their lies sound to people who do know the facts. The comparison I make is to guys who lie about their military service. The whopper works only if you know nothing about the military.