To Learn Nothing

Being wrong is as natural as standing upright. All of us make mistakes, miss the obvious and make predictions that, in retrospect, were hilariously stupid. I predicted that the neocons, despite their rhetoric, were going to find a Pinochet to install in Baghdad after they ousted Saddam. After all, no one could be so dumb as to think that Western self-government would work in the Arab world. I think a lot of people on the Right look back at the Bush years and wonder how so many could be so wrong about the neocons.

Error is supposed to result in reflection and reconsideration. The only way to learn from a mistake is to actually learn something from it. The take away from the Bush years, for me at least, was that the Buckley Conservatives are yesterday men untethered from reality, so it’s time to go another way. Many reading this learned from the Obama years that democracy is a suicide pact with the dumbest people in your neighborhood. The solutions lie outside the political process. Who knows what we will learn in the Trump years.

One of the remarkable aspects of the managerial class is they don’t seem to learn much from their errors. The neocons are still claiming that elections will somehow turn the Arab world into a membership meeting of The Harmonie Club. After every Muslim atrocity committed in a Western city, the Progressives tell us the solution is more Muslims. Now we have Puerto Rico, which should be the example that puts some reality back into public policy debates, but that will never happen.

Puerto Rico has been a US territory since the Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish-American War. It probably would have been setup as an independent country, but the US Navy thought it was useful and the sugar growers liked being a US territory. Even though it no longer has any value to the Navy and they no longer grow much sugar, Puerto Rico remains a territory. It does have a strong manufacturing base, mostly due its status as a tax haven, but also as the result of US policy to encourage industry on the island.

It was not too long ago that the Official Right was championing Puerto Rico as an example of how fixing the institutions, reforming the economic polices, could fix even the most backward society. It was an obvious ploy to peddle open borders to their voters. After all, if Republicanism could work on the PR’s, it would work on those Mexicans imported into your town. Here’s an old Cal Thomas article talking about the wonderfulness of the Republican governor of the island at the time. I love this quote.

“I think the Republican Party has done an awful job handling this issue,” he says. “It makes no sense for us not to bring more Hispanics into the party because Hispanics are naturally conservative. The tenor of the public discourse surrounding this issue has sounded anti-Hispanic at times.”

What would he recommend to change the tone?

“First, show up; show respect. Most Republican candidates don’t do that. They talk about 15-foot fences and then try to address the issues of greatest concern in the Hispanic community. They are no different from other communities most of the time. On immigration, Republicans say, ‘we want legal immigration and we are the country, thanks to legal immigration,’ so we need to try to address this issue with a different tone than we’ve had so far.”

In case you’re wondering, Luis Fortuna, the subject of that column, now lives in DC at the insider law firm Steptoe & Johnson. The reason for that is those “naturally conservative” Hispanics voted him out of office. Despite all that, Puerto Rico is still Puerto Rico. It has a crime rate higher than every US state, something close to Baltimore. It also has a corruption rate triple the typical US state. In other words, despite the best efforts of the US, Puerto Rico is the product of the people who populate the island.

Now that the island is going bankrupt, it would make sense for the conservative cheerleaders to take stock and maybe reconsider those wonderful economic policies they were sure would fix anything. Similarly, libertarians, who are sure that tinkering with the tax code can fix everything, might want to take a look at Puerto Rico. Of course, that will never happen. Being a public intellectual in the modern era means never having to say you’re sorry for being wrong. Heck, you don’t even have to admit to being wrong.

Our rulers should also reconsider the wisdom of importing tens of millions of Hispanics into America. After all, California turned itself into Puerto Rico demographically and is now on its way to transforming itself into Puerto Rico financially. The underlying premise of open borders is that people are the same everywhere. It is the dirt that makes them into law-abiding, prudent Americans. We have spent a century pouring magic into our Caribbean colony and it is no better than the Dominican Republic.

The island has a per capita debt of $25,000 and per capita GDP of $28,000. Throw in the $16,000 in per capita pension liabilities and you have, well, California. The two biggest financial basket cases in America are also the two greatest examples of the prevailing ruling class orthodoxy. The fact that both are looking a lot like bust outs is probably not a coincidence. You would think some of the people in the political class would take note, but no one will learn anything from the Puerto Rican bankruptcy. They never learn.

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Milestone D
Guest

Ils n’ont rien appris, ni rien oublié,

John the River
Member

The most amazing thing about “West Side Story” is that Tony could run through the streets of the west side shouting “Maria!”; and only ONE girl answered.

I have to amend my previous statements about North Korea and/or Iran setting off Nukes in the USA. To Washington DC, I’m adding NYC, Baltimore, Los Angleos and San Francisco to the list of American cities that (if bombed) would not necessarily result in a state of war.

A warning, nothing more.

Joey Junger
Guest

Sexual (ir)responsibility is just one of the many features of Latin American societies that shows why the “natural conservatives” argument about Hispanics is laughable. Reproductive responsibility is intrinsically tied to impulse control, and (as J. Philipe Rushton has shown) that’s definitely tied to race. The comic Colin Quinn used to say in Brooklyn when he was in the 2nd grade at Catholic school and the class took a field trip to the natural history museum, the Puerto Rican kids would be making out behind a woolly mammoth.

Chiron
Guest

I thought Obama would try to grant statehood to Puerto Rico by the end of his mandate, if Hillary had won this certainly would be the case.

After Trump the ruling class will come back with a vengeance, making PR the 51 state will be one of the priorities.

Joey Junger
Guest

John Derbyshire had the best idea for Puerto Rico. Climate-wise (and pigment wise) Syrian “refugees” would certainly feel more at home there than in any of the fifty current states, so why not make progressives and conservatives happy with a compromise: send all migrants from war-torn Middle Eastern countries to Puerto Rico, in a sort of reverse Marielito boatlift. Actually, since we’re normalizing relations with Cuba, let’s send the Syrians there.

Ace
Guest

What have you got against the Cubans?

Rev.Hoagie
Guest

And Washington DC the 52nd.

Joey Junger
Guest
We know quite a bit about how Puerto Ricans assimilate into America (or absimilate, as John Derbyshire puts it) because they have had large enclaves in New York City for a long time now. Once their numbers reach critical mass, as they have in portions of the Boogie Down Bronx, everyone (including the hardest, most criminal blacks) flee in terror. Even American gangsters of Italian and Jewish background worked with the U.S. Government in World War II by using their waterfront connections to alert Uncle Sam about suspicious activity, but for Puerto Ricans, a cop (or any authority) is just… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

Huh. Heads decorating fences is a feature in southern Arizona.
In icechests, in Mexico, to send a message.

My favorite is as hood ornaments.
That Aztec sense of humor, ya know.

Garr
Guest

From my NYC point of view it seems to me that PR threatfulness is purely a function of how Black the Puerto Rican is. They’re on a continuum from Black to almost entirely White, and appear to be evenly distributed along that continuum. (I’m ignoring the Taino-Indian component, but behavioral differences between the Tainos and Aztecs in 1500 would be worth considering.) One obvious behavioral characteristic of Blacks is that they tend to move around in large groups. Mostly White PRs tend move around alone or in pairs, just like Whites.

Member
Take this any way you want, but as the child of immigrants, I understand what you mean about not being able to get abstraction. I didn’t get it, as I was always looking for certainty and specificity. I think there is cultural. In many respects, I still do. But after having more years under my belt and adopting American culture as my primary culture, with the help of a lot of reading and also practicing law for 20 years, I can and do think in abstract terms. My point is that people should be very careful when they say that… Read more »
james wilson
Guest

Careful is what global homos do these days to avoid reality, not to discover it. Nice try.

A.B. Prosper
Guest
Police do not maintain civilization. They maintain the order of the elite. When the elite are doing a decent job, this can be a good thing since it beings greater stability and specialization of order When the elite are doing a poor job and/or the laws don’t meet the needs of people in the community, police grow to be a liability. In other societies the elite never do a good job so its rational for them to distrust the police and such useful rational instincts aren’t going to change just because “White society” . In any case are police aren’t… Read more »
DriesNK
Guest

In parts of norther New Jersey, Puerto Ricans & their even woolier cousins the Dominicans were ethnically cleansed by Mexicans and various sorts of Muslims. Palestinians, Turks, Syrians etc. In many ways, it was a major improvement, as crime rates went down and mercantile activity increased.

TomA
Guest

The cloud inhabitants know that the Ponzi scheme will crash and burn eventually, but like any addict, only the next fix matters. Puerto Rico will soon hit bottom (provided the DC enablers don’t meddle) and then they will have no choice but to reform or die. On the bright side, their bottom will be relatively high and the associated misery relatively low. By the time Californians reach their magic moment, my guess is it will be a much lower bottom and much more misery. In that event, the latter may well envy the former.

LetsPlay
Member
Aside from the failure of the PR people to desire freedom and to govern themselves, there is the abject corruption that keeps the sewers running. Where do you think people like Bill and Hill got their ideas for the Global Initiative and Haitian Relief efforts as a for instance? The PR has been a long brewing scandal that puts the Cuban episode to shame. Crony business-politics is what keeps that country the way it is. It is, as you say, a welfare state like California and it has been for some time. Talk of making PR a “State” is only… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
Interesting summary article. Took me back to my days in the industry when US hi tech firms actually made stuff in the US. One of the first expedients under growing Asian profit pressure was to set up a Puerto Rican ‘screwdriver factory’. Modules produced in the US were shipped to PR to be literally screwed together and shipped back here as finished goods. Artful setting of transfer prices in and out had most of the the economic value-added attributed to PR instead of the US. So the effective tax rate was single digits. Good times_! Seriously, other than tax shenanigans,… Read more »
Member

When I was working in London for the American bank that was then the largest FX trader in the world, there was a magic deal that happened every year where 80% of the FX profits of their largest trading desk would magically be lost to the two men and a dog operation in Barbados.

Her Majesties Customs and Revenue were somewhat miffed when they found out.

Tim Newman
Guest

One of the remarkable aspects of the managerial class is they don’t seem to learn much from their errors.

What I have learned from the managerial classes is that their career progression depends on never, ever, ever, under any circumstances ever, admitting you have made a mistake, were wrong, or don’t know something. This is instilled in newcomers to modern organisations right from the beginning, and the ambitious ones take note. After a few years they genuinely believe it. See also this on the practice of surrounding yourself with sycophants and subsequently believing your own bullshit.

Anonymous White Male
Guest
I remember a movie called Head Office. Even though it was about corporate culture, much of the behavior was similar to bureaucracy. There was one guy in the movie that knew all the rules and had them numbered. Like Lesson number 55. ” Dammit, Jack, we went out there to tell them our side of the story. We didn’t go out there to tell them the truth! Lesson No.55: there are no truths, only stories.” “Lesson No. 2: Never volunteer, never confront, never talk to anyone you can possibly avoid.” “That’s no longer an issue, Jack. Don’t get involved with… Read more »
Member

Never volunteer, never complain, never explain.

The way of the Stiff Upper Lip.

Dan Kurt
Member

re: “Never volunteer, never complain, never explain.” bilejones

This saying is a similar rendition of a German one that I heard many, many times from relatives, especially my mother and grandmother, as a child:

Never Ask; Never Explain; Never Complain.

There was another one I heard as well:

Be Seen and Not Heard.

Dan Kurt

Doug
Guest

“One of the remarkable aspects of the managerial class is they don’t seem to learn much from their errors.”
Ya, but will the legion of Tea Party Normies learn anything from what has been done to them?

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Tim Newman
Guest

And of course, it helps them not to admit they are wrong if they are shielded from the consequences of their errors. If they were held accountable then they’d be different, but one of the defining features of the managerial classes is that they are never held accountable by their peers.

Random Thoughts 2017
Guest

“…One of the remarkable aspects of the managerial class is they don’t seem to learn much from their errors……..”

Thomas Sowell Book Intellectuals & Society best describes this- The above is the end result when Policy Maker bear no responsibility for their actions

CaptDMO
Guest

“We have spent a century pouring magic into our Caribbean colony and it is no better than the Dominican Republic.”
From what I’ve seen, The DR is in MUCH better condition than PR.
Most notably during post-earthquake recovery of Hispaniola.
I’ve also seen it in the relative “ethics” between PR, and DR folks of the working class in East SoHo of Manhattan.
(Admittedly, measured against my own ethical practice)

Alzaebo
Guest

“that both are looking a lot like bust outs”-
Wow. There’s Cloud economics in a nutshell.

Drake
Guest

Daniel Greenfield published an article with the same theme yesterday on how Western leaders absolutely refuse to learn anything from their mistaken alliances with Islam.

“Men and women of power and influence, who base their entire right to rule on their own intelligence and enlightenment, are not in the habit of admitting that they have been played for fools.”

http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-nigerian-prince-named-islam.html

Member

You didn’t mention the nice beaches.

Guest
Guest
As to the Puerto Rico issue, I will take the contrarian view. Our leaders have learned well the lessons of past economic crises in an era of fiat currency. They will create from thin air the credit necessary to bail out Puerto Rico, generate a self-styled “workout” in which Puerto Rico’s bonds are exchanged for new bonds backed by the US Treasury, thereby making whole their cronies in the world of finance, and extract concessions from Puerto Rico in the process. The elites in finance and politics win, the dirt people in Puerto Rico and the US lose. The pattern… Read more »
Tim
Guest

Thank you Guest. That perfectly explains the dissatisfaction I’ve felt, but hadn’t put into words, with a lot of conservative “opinion making.”

Dutch
Guest
“Puerto Rico is the product of the people who populate the island”. The money quote, right there. Our world and country are the products of the people who populate them. The prospects for the future look poor. Separately, as mentioned by Guest, some form of Brady Bonds will be used to bail out PR (and soon, Connecticut, California, Hawaii, and so on). Leverage the full faith and credit. Never mind what it will do to the fiat Dollar. And people will scratch their heads and wonder why things such as capital investment and new hiring will continue to taper off…eating… Read more »
Calsdad
Guest

If the magic dirt theory had any validity at all – Lawrence MA would not be the crap-hole that it is and has been for quite some time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence,_Massachusetts

search within the page for “puerto” – and start reading.

Member
Here is a good summary on how stupid managerial tricks whipsawed the Puerto Rican economy and helped lead to the current crisis. Stupid policy didn’t help with Mexico either. NAFTA and the shortsighted maquiladora laws (let’s build tax exempt factories within a few miles of the border so we don’t have to invest in our crappy infrastructure and let’s dump a couple of million people in broken down border towns to work in those factories) created all sorts of problems once China came on line and all those cats were out of work and easy pickings for the narcotraficantes.
Member

Shorter version of Z’s essay: Fred Sanford was right about Julio.

Ryan
Guest

If I might be a little contrarian:

Since PR is a US Colony, anyone who wants to leave the Island and move to the US is allowed to. Taking the situation in the best light of PR, they can’t possibly pay off their debts when their largest export is talent.

I think this is an issue for urban ghettos as well. The math, how much this contributes vs other factors, is of course impossible to calculate. But I do think it plays a role.

Gerard Van der Leun
Member

Puerto Rico . . .
You ugly island . . .
Island of tropic diseases.
Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing . . .
And the money owing,
And the babies crying,
And the bullets flying.
I like the island Manhattan.
Smoke on your pipe and put that in!

Christopher S. Johns
Guest

West Side Story-America

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k

(The whole scene is great, but the song starts at 2:20).

In some ways, things haven’t changed much since 1961.

Christopher S. Johns
Guest

And don’t forget Puerto Rico’s greatest export – no, not rum:

Tito Puente – El Rey Del Timbal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbzAb6llIJ0

Alzaebo
Guest

Rum no more!
Congressman Charlie Rangel, a guy with a salary of roughly $2500 a week, somehow owns PR’s 100 year old Captain Morgan distillery, worth a Billion dollars.

He moved it to Jamaica- for the tax break- and promised $3 billion in Medicaid funds to compensate the blow to PR’s economy.

Hey Charlie, that ain’t your f#&%in’ money!

Optingout
Guest

Back in 1982, Peter Grace {of the Grace Commission, where I was employed at the time}, described food stamps as “basically a Puerto Rican program.” When I did my tour in visa hell as an FSO in Jamaica, visa shoppers would often come by after having been in Puerto Rico to try to demonstrate they were just tourists, really, and not would-be immigrants.

Nothing new under the sun.

Karl Hungus
Guest

Comey the rat is out! bet Trump is moving on some of the big fish involved in spying on his campaign. any bets on who gets the FBI job?

john
Guest

Rudi

Member

Rudi would be perfect.
His investigative brief:
IRS
Benghazi CIA lies
Fast and Furious
Unmasking and leaking Flynn
Hilary’s server/emails
Uranium to Russia
Clinton Foundation
Susan Rice lies
The treasonous Iranian deal

That should keep him busy.

Alzaebo
Guest

Saw a comment that some of Trey Gowdy’s people had committed arkicide by burying themselves alive. If true, would that be related?

Comey has been Hillary’s coverup guy since Whitewater. And Barkey is barking, still in business. I guess the GOPe is still in session after all (conspiring).

Alzaebo
Guest

Dagnabit. Just thought of What Comes Next.

“Impeach Him, Impeach Him!!”

Doug
Guest
Could it be Congress is one long stretched out conspiracy of treason for profit? “…The fact that both are looking a lot like bust outs is probably not a coincidence. You would think some of the people in the political class would take note, but no one will learn anything from the Puerto Rican bankruptcy. They never learn.” I think they don’t have to, they don’t care. Either they made their money on whatever skim and kickback has been going, or still is, most likely, or there is nothing worth strip mining down there. And the only way that it… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

Goshdam that’s a good question. A Great question.

Jeffrey S.
Guest
This is a strange post (as many of your post are attacking the National Review crowd are.) You say, “The take away from the Bush years, for me at least, was that the Buckley Conservatives are yesterday men untethered from reality, so it’s time to go another way.” O.K., so what is the main subject of the post? I’d say the problems with Hispanic immigration. And what is the position of National Review on this subject? Limit Hispanic immigration (Mark Krikorian writes for them for crying out loud and they were happy to publish pieces by Jason Richwine for their… Read more »
karl hungus
Guest

you know how a bunch of knobs over at nro said they would vote for hillary instead of Trump? that. fukk you very much.

newrouter
Guest

“O.K., so what is the main subject of the post? ”

you conserve nothing and whine like proggtards when anyone notices

Alzaebo
Guest

Don’t forget us libertarians!
We’ve had our heads up a unicorn’s ass.

Of course it could be, should be, would be done better.

But everybody has ideas.
Sadly, Z and his more militant commentors remind us that it has never, ever been so.

wan wei lin
Guest

…democracy is a suicide pact with the dumbest people in your neighborhood.

Best definition of democracy ever!

Member

The Neo-Cohens haven’t been right in 30 years. Not one of the nasty little fuckers will admit it.

Joseph Moroco
Guest

Viva Puerto Rico Libre and adios.
Viva Detroit Libre
Viva Cali Libre

Rev.Hoagie
Guest
“Now that the island is going bankrupt, it would make sense for the conservative cheerleaders to take stock and maybe reconsider those wonderful economic policies they were sure would fix anything.” You need to explain exactly what conservative policies that were actually employed actually failed. Was it the open market? Not allowing unions for government jobs? Limiting welfare, unemployment and other “free” stuff? Or could it be the idea of low taxes and fewer regulations? Perhaps you could name a few conservative policies that failed as well as those leftist policies did. You know, like in Venezuela.
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