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Saturday, January 29, 2005
Germany's Novel Full Employment Strategy
One doesn't often hear the words "German" and "Ingenuity" juxtaposed. Germany is generally perceived - and with good reason - as a land of highly proficient technicians and engineers, but as not being a hotbed of inventiveness. Being a "Good German" means doing as one is told, doing it proficiently of course, and most of all, doing it without complaint.
But that concept might be severely tested if this article in today's Telegraph is at all accurate.
"A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing 'sexual services' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year....
The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.
She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.
Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job - including in the sex industry - or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990....
Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.
'Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?' said Miss Ulyanova.
Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them."
What a fascinating turn of events! And one which raises some interesting potential problems.
How about this one. Germany, like much of Europe, has been overrun with Muslim immigrants in the past several decades. Germany doesn't have it quite as bad as France, but it has had more than its share of problems with these people and their notorious disinclination for assimilating into the nations in which they pitch their tents.
Well....how would you like to be the German civil servant with the task of explaining to Muhammad Abdullah El Assad that his daughter doesn't qualify for unemployment benefits because she declined a job offer from Tatiana's Central Berlin House of Whoopee?
And come to think of it, what about Muslim women who wear Burqas? I mean, even if such women were inclined to accept employment with Miss Ulyanova, the whole beekeeper motif probably wouldn't go over real well with her clientele. Particularly since it can't be removed - except I presume to collect honey.
Then again, maybe they'll like the Burqas. These ARE Germans, after all. They apparently thought those spiked helmets made a nice fashion statement during WWI, so who knows?
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The Tolerant Left
In his column this week, entitled "Self-Indulgence" Thomas Sowell wonders exactly what the Inauguration "protestors" were protesting? "What are these 'demonstrations' demonstrating -- other than adolescent self-indulgence and contempt for the rights of other people to go about their lives without finding their streets clogged with hooligans and the air filled with obscenities?"
Sowell points out that the media for the most part utterly refuses to tell the truth about these people, either in terms of their tactics or their composition. In fact, he says, the media's only real interest in showing them is to spice up the coverage with a little violence and mayhem.
Actually, I think the media also wants to use the existence of these creatures to make the case that there's widespread dissatisfaction in the land. Which of course, is ALWAYS the case. As Sowell points out, SOMEONE always has to lose an election, after all.
His concluding paragraphs are quite insightful, I think:
"If we were a little more clear-headed, these organized disruptions could be a valuable lesson in what the political left really believes in and what kind of world they would create if they ever get the kind of power they are seeking.
Here, I refer your attention to this posting a couple of weeks back about a Kuwaiti student who was ordered by his professor to seek psychiatric counseling because he wrote a pro-U.S. essay. Or to just about anything on Frontpage.com for that matter.
"Ask any environmental extremist if people who don't care about preserving swamps ('wetlands') have the same rights under the Constitution that the people in the green movement have. Gay activists who demand tolerance and sensitivity from others do not hesitate to include in their parades insulting skits mocking nuns and others in the Catholic Church.
And at this point, I think it's appropriate for for me to republish my very favorite poem. Written by a woman named Phyllis McGinley, it describes the "tolerance" of the modern left in a way that makes it almost impossible to believe it was written in 1957. Plus ca change......
The Angry Man
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Induced not only in me, but in an unnamed Fox News spokesperson.
Addressing the National Association for Television Programming Executives conference yesterday, CNN founder Ted Turner compared Fox News to Nazi Germany. While acknowledging that Fox was trouncing CNN in the ratings, he implied that CNN is still more journalistically pure. By all accounts, it appears that he made his comments with a straight face - though no before-and-after proboscis measurements have been reported.
"While Fox may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said. He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. 'There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down, leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff,' he said."
The humor in this sort of pronouncement from the likes of Turner is pretty self-evident. In case anyone missed it though, a Fox News spokesperson offered the following response:
"Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind. We wish him well."
Now THAT made my day. The entire story can be found here.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
The Era of the Singularity
Arnold Kling has written a captivating piece at Tech Central Station. One part book review and one part economics essay, his article is entitled "The Anglospheric Challenge to the Political Left."
The book review aspect discusses James Bennett's new book "The Anglosphere Challenge". You can read the entire first chapter of Bennett's book here. A key component of Bennett's argument, though, is that what we call the Anglosphere - the English speaking world - is uniquely suited to capitalize on the economic milieu of the coming decades. His analysis is a riveting stew of sociology, Tofler-style-futurology, and economic macroanalysis. Here's a representative bit:
"I titled this book The Anglosphere Challenge in a sort of tangential homage to Servan-Schreiber. Unlike the works described earlier, I do not discuss an overseas competitor that I fear is about to overtake America, or more properly, the Anglosphere, the entirety of English-speaking civilization. Rather I argue that the current gap in technological, military, and financial leadership enjoyed by America and its Anglosphere cousins over the rest of the world is likely to increase over the next twenty years. I believe this increase will take place in the context of a rapid acceleration of genuine technological revolution, one in which entrepreneurial innovation and rapid adaptation will play an increasingly large part in commercial, financial, technological, and national success.
Although I will inevitably be accused of triumphalism, I in fact warn that this success has not been due to any inherent superiority of Anglosphere language or peoples. Rather, it is the result of a long series of developments, more than coincidence but less than foreordained fate. These developments resulted in the Anglosphere nations having a particularly strong and independent civil society; openness and receptivity to the world, its people, and ideas; and a dynamic economy.
There is no reason to believe that other cultures cannot develop their own versions of these characteristics, nor that the Anglosphere cannot lose the advantages it now has. The Anglosphere experienced the creation of the Industrial Revolution, modern constitutional democracy, and the Information Revolution, first in Britain, and then in America. The Anglosphere and the institutions it created have led throughout.
It is now creating the next set of scientific-technological revolutions, which some are beginning to speak of as the revolutions of the Singularity. If the Anglosphere can retain the openness and dynamism that allowed it to lead in the past, it will remain among the leaders of the future. If it loses those characteristics, it will at last be overtaken...."
"The Singularity" is apparently a term Bennett borrowed from mathematics. It "describes an abrupt discontinuity: a point where a rising trend line on a graph, for example, turns completely vertical." A perfect storm of technological and scientific developments, as it were, whereby all the models we use to analyze social trends don't really apply and the world is made anew.
So what does this have to do with the Anglosphere? Plenty, according to Bennett. After lengthy discussions of such topics as bounded versus unbounded problems, the impact of extended life-spans, and such, Bennett gets to the crux of the matter thusly:
"Other areas of the world that are beginning to show similar creativity and entrepreneurship are, interestingly enough, also strong and relatively open civil societies. Scandinavia, as mentioned, and places like the Netherlands. It is no accident that a figure such as Linus Torvalds - who created the Linux language and the Linux phenomenon - is a citizen of Finland. It is also of note that he promptly moved to the English-speaking world -in this case Palo Alto, California - in order to advance his dreams.
The problem is not any lack of creativity among non-English-speaking people, nor a lack of energy or entrepreneurial drive. The problem is that when creativity does arise and ventures start, the prevailing set of social, economic, and political institutions retards their growth. In corrupt and undemocratic countries with weak civil societies, family networks permit entrepreneurs to get around these obstacles, up to a point. But they cannot expand easily beyond that. In stronger civil societies such as Germany, which have high-trust characteristics but lack openness and flexibility in their political and social systems, ventures start but can become frustrated by bureaucratic barriers. In America, start-ups draw heavily on Indian programmers and entrepreneurs. In Germany, a proposal to give visas to Indian programmers gave rise to a political slogan of 'Kinder statt Inder'-'(our) Children, not Indians.'"
So the bottom line is that according to Bennett, those of us in the Anglosphere are uniquely well suited to capitalize on the knowledge explosion to come. Simply put, we aren't as enslaved to our prejudices and habits. We're more flexible. We adapt. I think there's something to that.
Kling's article brings the case into our more immediate political realm quite nicely:
"On the Right, I believe that it is still possible to discern the tensions and compromises that one would expect in an alliance-building environment. The loose coalition includes libertarians and moral conservatives, deficit hawks and tax-cutters, immigration supporters and immigration opponents.
What has emerged on the Left is a core of rigid, dogmatic, conformity enforcers. Its organizations, such as MoveOn.org, the Howard Dean campaign, or the movement to resist Social Security reform, are self-marginalizing. They can achieve a high level of intensity, and with the Internet they can be successful at co-ordination and fundraising. However, they lack the flexibility in forming alliances that politics in the Anglosphere has traditionally required.
Social Security is the latest cause to be sucked into the Left's Mob-o-Matic. If developments hold to form, the strident thereisnocrisis movement will be filled with righteous anger and self-congratulation even as it alienates anyone trying to bring common sense or balance to the issue. Ultimately, this crowd will raise the credibility of the President's reform proposals, just as in Iowa the Howard Dean orange-hat invasion increased the attractiveness of John Kerry.
The Democratic Party still has many voices of reason on Social Security, but as David Brooks recently pointed out, those voices are being drowned out. Soon, you may not be able to hear them. The entire party may choose to self-marginalize.
I think, and I believe that Bennett would agree, that the traditional Democratic Party and its beliefs are an important component of the American fabric. However, by taking on the characteristics of self-marginalizing groups, the Left is walking away from The Anglosphere Challenge."
And long overdue. Ravenwood's Universe offers excellent right-wing commentary and is updated quite often. He's also got a nice feature whereby he categorizes his posts so you can look them up by topic.
His most recent posting, for example, can be found under the category "Cold Dead Hands." As you might suspect, it's about guns. Specifically, it's about the fact that more and more Brits are deciding that the UK has been terribly wrong in its gun policy and that the U.S. (horrors!) might have the right idea. I especially like Ravenwood's concluding analysis:
"A world without guns is a factual impossibility. The only possible scenarios are: everyone has guns; and only the government and the criminals have guns. In places that insist on banning guns, like the city of Washington D.C., the latter prospect can be exceptionally deadly."
The New Face of the Antiwar Left:
Marxist Feminist Lesbian Jamaican Radical Poets - and the Men Who Love Them
About those Inauguration protestors. Speaking (as Peter Brookes was in the entry below) about leftist swine who want to see the U.S. face worldwide defeat, here is a very nice description of the compilation of vermin that largely comprised the anti-Bush crowd at the Inaugural protests. Note once again that this sort of information is nowhere to be found in Old Media.
"United for Peace and Justice is the chief sponsor of the Inaugural protests and it is run by Leslie Cagan, a longtime communist activist and devotee of Fidel Castro who was active in the American Communist Party commencing in the Vietnam War era. She was also a member of the Communist Party USA's Committee for Correspondence. Her goals are the promotion of communism and the destruction of the current U.S. system of democracy.
UPF was deliberately formed as a false public and 'moderate' voice to shield the American Marxist movement. Their water was originally carried by A.N.S.W.E.R., a communist front 'anti-war' organization that was the brainchild of the Stalinist Workers World Party, but when A.N.S.W.E.R. showed its true colors at one too many anti-war rallies, the organized Left became nervous, prompting the formation of United for Peace and Justice with Ms. Cagan in charge.
Formal members of the Peace and Justice Coalition include state chapters of A.N.S.W.E.R., Committees for Correspondence, Communist Party USA, Communist Party of Vietnam, Ruckus Society, Not In Our Name (NION), September Eleventh Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow, MoveOn, the Communist Parties of Maryland, New York and Indiana, The Exploding Goldfish, Tennessee Guerrilla Women, Code Pink and the Marxist Feminist Lesbian Jamaican Radical Poets...."
You've probably heard of Ramsey Clark. He was LBJ's Attorney General, which is a pretty scary thought.
"Why is that'" you ask? Sure, he's a doddering old gasbag, but he's pretty harmless. isn't he?
Nope. Clark is a director of an outfit called the Workers World Party, with whom he's been associated since around 1990. I actually had some peripheral dealings with these clowns in the early 80's. At the time, I attended school in downtown Chicago, and the WWP usually had two or three of its members standing on State Street handing out pamphlets, which I'd grab for the sake of amusement.
You'll almost always see the WWP described as a "Stalinist sect," or words very similar to that, and for good reason. The WWP was formed when it split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1957 after the latter condemned the USSR's invasion of Hungary. The WWP viewed this condemnation as an unconscionable betrayal of class consciousness and has in the nearly five decades since steadfastly defended such cesspools as the governments of North Korea and Cuba.
You got that? Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, is a director of an organization that was formed as an ultraorthodox Stalinist splinter of the more "mainstream" Socialist Workers Party. Well, that organization - the WWP - is at the center of most every so-called antiwar protest, including those at the inaugural. And oh, yes, Clark is on the Saddam Hussein defense team, too. Of course.
But back to our gaggle of protestors...
"Code Pink, another 'anti-war' organization hiding its ideology, is run by communist associate Medea Benjamin. Code Pink has primarily chosen women to lie to, taking advantage of the genuine concern that some homemakers and grandmas have about the Iraq war and using them to add voices at local protests.
Benjamin's main claim to fame is organizing the violent 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in which she used the Marxist World Worker's party to help supply bodies. The ensuing riots injured innocent bystanders, caused millions of dollars of property damage for business owners and taxpayers, and left many out of a job. A long time friend of Cagan and Central American communists, Ms. Benjamin was instrumental in the founding of Peace and Justice.
Ms. Benjamin also has formed a group in Baghdad called Occupation Watch dedicated to demoralizing U.S. troops by encouraging them to abandon the Iraqi people and obtain discharges under false pretenses. She was also behind placing in Baghdad the pre-war 'human shields' whose dedication to the cause was quickly revealed when they headed for high ground just prior to shock and awe.
UPJ's partner Not in Our Name is a group with connections to the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party. Communist activist Clark Kissinger was an instrumental member of the 1960's violent Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers and founded an organization dedicated to halting U.S. security interests during the cold war. He is a co-director of NION...."
I think you get the idea. The next time you see CNN, ABC, CBS or whoever describe the flotsam and jetsam attending various protests as "antiwar activists" or "peace activists," remember that what they're really talking about is a pack of fosselizing, deluded Stalinist misfits and the poor simpletons they've been able to corral into their orbit.
Plus a few Hollywood dimwits thrown in for good measure.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Bad news for Iraq gloom-and-doomers
"A just-released poll by the National Endowment for Democracy's highly-respected International Republican Institute (IRI) suggests that Sunday's Iraqi elections will be much more successful than the nattering nabobs of negativity predict.
IRI conducted the poll Dec. 26 to Jan. 7 in 16 (of 18) Iraqi provinces. It shows that 'anticipated participation numbers among Iraqis remain consistent [with previous polls], with over 80 percent stating that they are very likely or somewhat likely to vote on Jan. 30.'
Contrast that 80 percent turnout with our own 60 percent turnout last November — America's highest since 1968.
There's more: The survey also indicates that more than half of all Iraqis living in the troubled Sunni areas — and nearly half of the Sunnis, themselves — are 'likely' or 'somewhat likely' to vote.
In other words, despite the violence, Iraq's Sunni minority will ultimately decide it's better to be inside the tent than outside when the new national assembly drafts a constitution later this year...."
You won't hear much of this from the MSM of course. The above is from this column by Peter Brookes in today's New York Post. Among the other things one learns in Brookes' column is the fact that 12 million of a total elibible Iraqi voting population of 14 million have registered. Given the violence we hear about on a daily basis, I don't know which is more remarkable: this extraordinarily high level of registration or the fact that it is so widely unreported.
After admitting that there's still plenty of work to be done, Brookes concludes:
"This is just a beginning. And despite the self-serving, misguided hopes of some that the U.S. and its partners fail — the Iraqis and the Coalition are likely to pull this darned election off."