Consider: "Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."
"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."
- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)
- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"
"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."
The jobless recovery in the American economy, weakly echoed in Europe, reinforces complaints in all the Western industrial countries that employers and stockholders enrich themselves while workers' wages fall or remain static. Defenders of free trade irritably reply that outsourced jobs will be replaced by those demanding higher skills, and that workers should go out and retrain themselves.Yep, a knee-jerk reaction each way. The rich capitalist owners are unfairly exploiting the workers? Well, the workers should make themselves useful and relevant again. Retrain. Yeah, yeah.
Actually, this is free trade. It is free trade as theoretically envisaged by the 18th century economist David Ricardo, stripped of the economic, social and political constraints that for two centuries kept trade from functioning the way Ricardo expected.Okay, fine. Then how come so many of us are getting screwed over and unable to find work?
He said that states should exploit their comparative advantages in resources or manufacturing. Trading in those complementary advantages would produce reciprocal gain. It's win-win - as Ricardo would not have said.
This is a relatively simple-minded theory, but in practice it has generally worked out, if not to the advantage of all concerned.
... Ricardo had a second theory, which he called the "iron law of wages." You do not hear much about the iron law, in part because you wouldn't want to hear about it, and also because experience has seemed to prove it untrue. But times are changing.Ah, that's the problem. Previously the pool of available labor was limited - a matter of geography. Now, for the first time in history, thanks to modern computer networking and telephony, we really do have "infinitely available" labor, world-wide, twenty-four hours a day. This IS new.
The iron law of wages is also simple and logical. It says that wages will tend to stabilize at or about subsistence level. That seemed inevitable to Ricardo, since while workers are necessary, and so have to be kept alive, they have no hope of any better treatment since they are infinitely available, replaceable, and generally interchangeable.
Labor today has almost entirely lost power in the places where it once possessed it. Western Europe provides limited and unrepresentative exceptions: Germany with its national unions, and the civil service unions in France. In both countries unions survive because of political rather than economic factors.Hey! Wake up! Business is great, and getting better. We do have "unmistakably positive results" - look at the profits piling up.
Until recently, the complaint that industry benefited from free trade but workers did not was conventionally treated as special pleading by unions and the left. At best, this was said to be a problem of lagging interaction between the unmistakably positive results of trade for business and industry, and the advantages for workers that - according to the abstract model - must ineluctably follow.
...about a month ago, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a poll showing that people who regularly attend religious services supported Bush 63 percent to 37 percent, and those who never attend religious services opposed him 62 percent to 38 percent. When you exclude blacks (as they do in Vermont), who are overwhelmingly Baptist and overwhelmingly Democratic, and rerun the numbers, basically any white person who believes in God is a Republican.Your see, we are not French.
PARIS (Reuters) - Europeans may have some problems grasping the ins and outs of American politics at the best of times, but the transatlantic gap never gets bigger than when candidates in the United States start talking about God.Ah, we are not a "secular" nation.
Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean has started awkwardly discussing religion on the stump, trying to shake off a label many European politicians would covet - the most secular candidate in the race.
The eight other Democrats jostling for a chance to challenge the openly religious President Bush have also spoken up about their faith, Bible reading or church attendance to close their perceived "God gap" with the Republicans.
European voters accustomed to campaigns focused on budget deficits, pension problems or immigration would be surprised to hear a political candidate talking about praying, as Wesley Clark has done, or being "God-fearing" as John Kerry has said.
"If a politician were to speak of his faith on the campaign trail as American politicians do," said Austrian analyst Peter Hajek, "the population would react by asking 'Why is he or she telling us that?'"Yes, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been lampooned in the press for being a committed Christian. "People in this country are rather averse to individuals who seem holier-than-thou," religious affairs commentator Clifford Longley said.
"It would come across as odd if politicians spoke too much about their religious beliefs. There would be an embarrassing shuffle in one's seat," said James Ker-Lindsay at the Civilitas Research center on southeastern Europe.
"Europeans see it as a badge of honor that they have moved beyond religion, as a victory of science and rational thinking," he said. "This is something Americans find dreadful about Europe, that it is a godless society."
Of course this particular controversy follows the one last year when Canyon officials required that plaques containing Biblical Psalms be removed from the Canyon. That decision was later overturned and is now under review.
(Florence, KY) - A new book offering an alternative view of how the Grand Canyon was formed is the object of a book- banning effort by prominent evolutionists, who have demanded that the Grand Canyon National Park Service remove the text from bookstores within the park.
"Grand Canyon: A Different View" is the 2003 work of Tom Vail, who collected essays from 23 contributors (most of whom hold earned doctorates in science). His book presents a creation science viewpoint of the Canyon's formation that is quite different than what most Canyon visitors are told.
Creation scientists present evidence that the Grand Canyon was formed not by the slow erosion of the Colorado River over millions of years, but by a lot of water over a short period of time. [ It was Noah's Flood, you see. ]
The controversial "Grand Canyon: A Different View" has been on sale at the Canyon's bookstores since last fall. It quickly raised the hackles of the presidents of seven science organizations, who jointly signed a December 16 2003 letter to the park's superintendent urging him to remove the book.
A mother's enquiry about buying Microsoft Flight Simulator for her ten-year-old son prompted a night-time visit to her home from a state trooper.Well, that's pretty snooty. And kind of funny.
Julie Olearcek, a USAF Reserve pilot made the enquiry at a Staples store in Massachusetts, home to an earlier bout of hysteria, during the Salem witch trials.
So alarmed was the Staples clerk at the prospect of the ten year old learning to fly, that he informed the police, the Greenfield Recorder reports. The authorities moved into action, leaving nothing to chance. A few days later, Olearcek was alarmed to discover a state trooper flashing a torch into to her home through a sliding glass door at 8:30 pm on a rainy night.
Olearcek is a regular Staples customer and schools her son at home. The Staples manager simply explained that staff were obeying advice. Shortly before Christmas, the FBI issued a terror alert to beware of drivers with maps, or reference books.
At one time it was rare to find US citizens, in the safest and most prosperous country in the world, jumping at their own shadows. Now we only note how high.
I've gone through life dimly aware of Lyndon LaRouche. I always thought he was some sort of wacko, vaguely cultlike figure, and when I came across his followers on the street, standing behind tables, I tried not to make eye contact, much as one does when confronted by those bright-eyed young men outside the Scientology building. Yesterday, however, I got a call from a friend at 6:15 telling me, rather breathlessly, to turn on the TV. LaRouche had bought a half hour on Fox 5 here in DC (preempting The Simpsons, no less), and he was broadcasting a speech he had given in December. I watched, and my friend was kind enough to take notes. Here are some of the highlights:Well, Claudine didn't got to the Lyndon LaRouche rally in Long Beach, nor did I. It might have been amusing in an isn't-this-odd way.
We should earmark at least $6 trillion to rebuild the infrastructure of our cities so that everyone can get to work in less than a half hour. This will involve magnetic levitation.
The monetary system may crash before the broadcast of the speech is over. (It didn't.)
Hitler was created by bankers.
The medical practice should get lessons from the Norman Wars.
The Democratic Party will "die" if it doesn't recognize LaRouche as a candidate, because in a poll nearly a year ago, an "unknown" Democrat had better odds of beating Bush than any of the established candidates.
That's enough of the bullet points. Onto LaRouche's presentation: he has this weird stream of consciousness style of speaking in which he jumped from topic to topic without ever really explaining anything. I believe he said Howard Dean shouldn't even be in this country, but never really mentioned why. Then he was onto the Peloponnesian Wars or something. It was at least timeslot appropriate: I felt like I was listening to Grandpa Simpson, only with more historical references. It was kind of a disappointment, actually, though - I was expecting a little more charisma, perhaps a crazy new laser based mail system or maybe something involving aliens and a secret handshake. I mean, LaRouche was strange, don't get me wrong. The magnetic levitation thing was great. I was just hoping he'd go a little further over the edge. It's like when I wandered into the Scientology building. I was a little under the influence, and I thought I'd see what they'd try to do to me - give me a psych test, get me to sign over the rights to my refrigerator, something like that. Instead, they just gave me a tour and tried to sell me some books. It was a pretty big letdown. Where was the indoctrination? The charismatic recruiter? Why wasn't I being lowered into a pool of something? They did invite me to L. Ron Hubbard's birthday the next night, but I decided not to go. Religious cults, like fringe candidates, are never quite as much fun as you'd imagine.