Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
It looks like our Modern Female Frederic Bastiat played a not insignificant role in handing the French unions "their greatest humiliation in more than 70 years."
The first of 24 clauses in M Raffarin's bill have been passed in parliament and the government hopes to move speedily in the days to come. Fresh strikes have been called for tomorrow, but M Raffarin has reached the verge of the summer holidays without conceding, while the unions are losing support and have tested public patience to the limit. Public transport and air travel have been repeatedly interrupted and schools, postal and government offices have closed frequently.
On Sunday, 18,000 people marched in Paris to protest against the strikes, led by Sabine Herold, 21, a politics student who has become the public face of the anti-strike movement.
The march has been hailed as a turning point, a moment when resignation at the unions' behaviour finally turned into intolerance.
Good to see France finally making some real market reforms and even better to see the citizenry marching for it. Next thing you know they'll be working on improving their attitudes to get tourism back. Oh look! They already are.
I've always admired Thomas Sowell for his seemingly simple, but cutting intellect. Even his "random thoughts" are more provoking than most thought out thoughts.
Much of what are called "social problems" consists of the fact that intellectuals have theories that do not fit the real world. From this they conclude that it is the real world which is wrong and needs changing.
Insurance companies are in the business of reducing given risks and transferring them, for a price. Non-profit advocacy groups are in the business of maximizing fears from given risks, in order to attract the donations that keep them going. Yet because the latter's income is not called by the dreaded word "profit," they are considered to be doing something more noble.
Read the rest.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
WHERE'S THE WMD?
They say it was an invasion under "false pretenses." "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" But it is that question itself that is based on false pretenses. Jacque Chirac believed it, Bill Clinton believed it, Tom Daschle believed it, as did all of Bush's political opponents, here's a nice long list of their words. In short, every reasonable person that pondered the more than 10 years of evidence came to the same conclusion. The debate was never about whether or not Saddam Huessein possessed WMD's, the question was how best to deal with him, containment or force.
Saddam had these weapons, and demonstrated a willingness to use them, even on his own people. The international community demanded he disarm and prove it, he never did. Instead he chose to play a 12-year shell game with the world, ignoring countless UN resolutions and forgoing billions of dollars annually because of economic sanctions. Clearly he wanted everyone to believe, indeed fear, that he had them.
But where are the weapons of mass destruction that we heard so much about from the Bush administration? Start with this report from the Chicago Tribune about how the regime withheld medicine from sick children:
"You asked why a government would not give medicine to children," said Dr. Oasem Al Taey, who has run the hospital since U.S. forces entered Baghdad on April 9. "They made this a place of death. They were willing to sacrifice the children for the sake of propaganda."
And this from Kathy Kelly, an aid worker who was in Iraq when the war began:
"All I can tell you is that children were dying horrible and torturous deaths on a daily basis. There was a zero percent cure rate," she said. "They [were] a ruthless government that tried to use propaganda to gain ground."
Now, go read this blog entry logged at the site of one of the many mass graves as it was uncovered. I can't do it justice by excerpting. (Thanks to instapundit for the link.)
Hear the story of some of the thousands of men who are now earless:
After the beating from Saddoun, Anwar was taken to an operating room where he managed to lift his blindfold enough to see and recognize the surgeon. But he won't name him. "He was apologizing and said they forced him to do that," he said. "It wasn't his fault." They were not given painkillers, only tied down to their gurneys. "We were all crying, all of us."
You see, it isn't so much the "weapons" part that should cause the greatest concern, it is the actual real "mass destruction" that has been perpetrated on the people of Iraq and would have continued. Hundreds of thousands dead and tortured yet some continue to call the removal of this monster "immoral". Why? How? Because none of those hundreds of thousands killed were Americans? Because in the two months since the war has ended we haven't found a weapon with an exotic name?
Upon the liberation of a childrens prison, James Lileks astutely described Saddam's (and any) fascist regime as such:
"A daisy chain of snakes biting their tales. Look up at the portrait hanging on the wall. Ask yourself what he wants. Bite harder."
Yes, bite harder! One snake orders the removal of men's ears, another enforces it by killing a surgeon who refuses to do so. Children are buried alive as they clutch their dolls, medicine is withheld from dying children for propaganda purposes, men are thrown feet first into plastic shredders, and the Marsh Arab's wetlands are bled dry as punishment. All of this horror is well documented and has been for years, but it doesn't matter, some are so blinded by ideology that they say, "Yeah, but where are the weapons of mass destruction?" They still don't see it.
It was the regime.
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Right Wing News has some nice tips for new bloggers, which is me. I'm going to keep this one in mind...
-- Gaining an audience usually takes a lot of time even if you do good work. Be prepared to work for months and maybe even YEARS before you start to take off
and I like this one, ha
-- -- Do write about the blogosphere because bloggers as a whole tend to be narcissistic and they love to link articles that talk about what they're doing
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Note: Please Read Monday's post below first, this is a follow up.
The value of the EU is political, it is not economics, not now. That's what I came away with after attending a seminar on the future of the EU this week.
Yes, forget about having one voice for foreign policy. Forget its stated goal of becoming the most competitive economy in the world by 2010. But does anyone really expect the EU to grow into a Hayekian model economy? Right now the EU could best be viewed as a vehicle for spreading democracy. Countries such as Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland recently approved national referendums to join the EU and will have to adopt and keep policies of open markets, free trade, and fiscal responsibility. More importantly though, democracy will provide stability and prevent another Balkans-like crisis. There can never be enough of that, especially in these times.
With free trade, member states will see plenty of incentives to reform their own markets, reduce taxes and the size of their own governments, and maybe get a handle on those labor unions. (See Monday's post below) If the next several years of EU building proves favorable, perhaps then it can work towards its economic goals.
Monday, June 09, 2003
Is it bad luck yet to start a blog with an anti-French post? I don't know..... but what if it is, or what if I'm just picking on an easy target? Nevermind, I'll start with something favorable. As usual last week I was reading instapundit and came across this article that I quickly forwarded to my former (not old) college professors, with subject : "The Modern Female Frederic Bastiat?" she isn't yet, of course, but after you read about 21 year old Sabine Herold read this from author CLAIRE BERLINSKI an email cut and pasted again from instapundit and note the hostile climate.... in *gasp* France:
For the past few days, helicopters have been circling noisily above the center of Paris. No one I speak to knows why -- there are dark murmurings that something, somewhere has been tipped to explode, or that the water supply is scheduled to be poisoned, but no one knows for sure. The choppers are making a huge racket outside my window and driving me nuts. But that's not the big story, at least not yet. The story, which isn't getting much attention outside of France, is that the trade unions' protests over the government's pension reform scheme have become outrageously violent, and France is in chaos.
The scale of the lawlessness and thuggery would generate endless anguished editorials in the English-language press if France were Iraq, and if somehow the United States could be blamed for it. The demonstrators have barricaded roads and railway tracks, ransacked and occupied administrative buildings, set fires, reversed over one another with their cars, sealed off city centers, emptied garbage onto the streets and rendered public transportation throughout the country unusable. Air traffic has been brought to a halt. Demonstrators cut off power lines at the Gare de Lyon. Tourists have been stranded everywhere. The national railway company, the SNCF, has lost $140 million in six days.
This is not a loss the shaky French economy can tolerate. And why? Because the government has proposed to increase the number of years public sector employees must work to receive full retirement benefits, from 37.5 years to 40 years -- a move that would bring them in line with the private sector. Are these reforms necessary? You bet. Will France go broke if they're not implemented? Without a doubt -- retirees will account for a third of the French population by 2040, and the best projections suggest that if the reforms aren't implemented, France will be running a 50 billion Euro annual deficit by 2020. Have the reforms been proposed by a democratically-elected government? Indeed. Are they supported by the public at large? Yes. Pretty much everyone, save the demonstrators themselves, acknowledges that pension reform is necessary.
What's interesting, sociologically, is that the account given by the demonstrators of their behavior simply doesn't correspond to reality: There is no objective grievance commensurate with the scale of the violence. An especially interesting fact is that the violence has been whistled up and spearheaded by the transport workers, who are for the most part unreconstructed communists, and who would not be affected by the proposed reforms. Given that the ideology championed by the leaders of these protests has been, over and over again, completely discredited, how should we account for their influence? The only conclusion I can draw from this is that a segment of French society can be easily inspired to smash things for the fun of it. I wonder why."
For more on the violence in French labor demonstrations read Steven Den Beste......
.....and then ask youself what the hell is going on in France where the most rational voice is a 21 year old female student. This is the country that is supposed to be a leader for the EU? For years we've been hearing about the European legally mandated 8 week paid vacations given to employees, their shortening work weeks and why, oh why can't we just have that here!?!? Look at unemployment rates in Europe, look at the above links. I think we're seeing the counter-argument.
But what does all this mean for the European Union and its future economic and political power? It means that the EU is political, not economical.... at least for now. More on that tomorrow.