Even in France, some pundits seem to be surprised by the fact that even though France is a welfare state, it is described as a social nightmare. I’m sorry but how is this surprising? A welfare state is only valuable to those who need one. The reality of our society is that a very small minority of individuals benefit from it and that’s almost never the one paying the bill. Yes, in the short term it is really easy for Socialism to high-jack a Democracy by promising plenty to the majority of voters but soon enough the main mechanical flaw of that system reveals itself; the majority simply doesn’t benefit from it on a daily basis. Ask yourself this simple question; would you buy insurance for absolutely everything in your life? That’s what a welfare state is. Yes, France is a great country if absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong in someone’s life actually goes wrong. What is the probability of that actually happening? None. The yellow vest movement is the product of a simple realization; life in France is a daily struggle of hellish proportion for the majority of those paying for the welfare state. Getting ten cents on the dollar in the oft chance that they might need help at some point in their lives is simply not good enough.
I just started reading Ben Sasse’s book “The Vanishing American Adult” and I have to say I agree with every single word. It’s uncanny really.
Quick personal note while I’m here. Every adult I know has lived a lifetime of experiences. They have made friends and enemies. They had kids, they’ve lost parents, friends and other loved ones. They have dealt with terminal illnesses and suicides, unemployment, homelessness and other hardships. They’ve traveled the world and witnessed a thousand things, some ugly and some beautiful. All of this helped shape their world view, their idea about society and their political stance.
The idea that a handful of angry tweets or a series of unhinged posts on Facebook will somehow influence their vote in any way is laughable. Save yourself the embarrassment. Be better.
Never fall for the the so-called “law of unintended consequences” excuse by government.
Firstly, intentions cannot be known with any degree of certainty. The logical demonstration is easy enough; Individuals can lie and individual don’t read mind. Of course you can always choose to trust someone’s pretend “intentions” but the very action of choosing to do so is a choice and this choice is the sole responsibility of the individuals making that choice. It certainly doesn’t absolve the lawmaker in any way.
Secondly, actions should only be judged by their consequences.If you have doubts; just ask the victims and those who are actually paying for the consequences. Whether they were intentional or not makes no difference to them.
This “law of unintended consequences” has been used quite a lot during the past decade by governments trying to move the focus away from the actuality of their policies to their supposedly good intentions. This is a very dangerous slope as we’re seeing more and more populist politicians (Bernie Sanders comes to mind) making ridicule promises while completely ignoring the consequences of the policies they advocate. As with misdirection in the field of magic, the whole purpose of this trend is simply to move the attention of the audience towards the good intentions of the politicians.
A great example of that is the price fixing of drugs by European governments in order to help keep the price of health care down. The actual consequence of this policy was that for the past three or four decades the spending in Research and Development by drug companies collapsed by two third. Governments tried – and failed – to offset this by financing some (about one third) of the research…with tax money obviously. The end result is that people are still paying the same price but via two different channels instead of one. The unfortunate consequence is that most of the new drugs are developed by American companies. European companies find it cheaper to just buy formulas and sell the drugs in their own markets.
Pretending that these policies actually work for Europe is incredibly short sighted. We live in a global market and judging these policies locally is always a mistake. Trying to impose the same policies in the US would have deadly consequences not only in the US but also in Europe and most likely in other countries who have knowingly made themselves dependent on US research.
This is just one example out of many. For the past century Europe has made the choice of impairing freedom for the sake for security. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple, AirBNB and a hundred others didn’t magically appear in the US by accident. Putting in place regulation impairing private companies in the US will have exactly the same consequences that the same policies had in Europe. the systematic killing of entrepreneurship.
There’s a good reason why you don’t have a single European application running on your phone or your computer today. Pretending that countries of Europe “work” just fine with their ever increasing regulations and tax burden is ridicule. They don’t. They survive as a parasite would; fed by the incredibly creative engine of the United States.
Unfortunately we live in the world where the majority of people seems to favor reassurance over truth – this not only from the news outlets but also from their politicians. I don’t doubt people will elect more populists in the future. Whether or not the last bulwark against the dictatorship of the majority – the US Constitution – will hold is anybody’s guess. Out of the three branches of government the executive will fail no doubt. The legislative has been incredibly complacent and weak to the point where the constitutionalists in Congress could be counted on the fingers of one hand. It’s really no wonder then that the focus has been on the judicial branch lately. Ben Sasse’s lesson of civic aimed at Congress last week was brilliant and absolutely on target. Those who expect the Supreme Court to legislate are not doing it by accident. They know that in order to successfully achieve their majoritarian agenda the last domino has to fall.
I’m very glad to be a Libertarian these days. It gives me the luxury of passing judgment on both main political parties while – I hope – remaining objective about it. With this being said I think there are several mistakes Democrats have been making in their handling of the current situation.
First, attacking a bully is never a good strategy. The current US President pretty much thrives on that. It’s even more ridiculous considering most attacks are actually personal. There’s a reason DJ Trump is toping 50% in the polls. Turns out “The boy who cried Wolf” is a very good tale. Almost two years in and those out there supporting the president are not going to change their mind over a video of him banging every single bunny of the Playboy mansion. I would even go farther here and say this; even if Democrats came out with something VERY meaningful against the president I’m ready to bet nobody would even trust that bit of information and this, right there, is why it was probably overall a bad strategy from the beginning.
I believe negotiation and compromise was the way to go. To say that DJ Trump is not someone that has a very strong ideological foundation would be the understatement of the year. In fact he has changed his mind on so many things over the decades that it’s difficult to keep track.
Libertarians, well, you know, we don’t compromise much. When you know what you’re doing, when you know where you’re going, a compromise is essentially something that will weaken your position. “Trade” is what we do. “Compromise”? Not so much.
On the other hand the US President would have given anything to his opponent – under the table obviously to keep face – and brag about achieving less than half of his agenda if it had come to that. Instead, here we are, with DJ Trump going full speed in one direction while the other half is portrayed in the conservative media as being hysterical and not in a funny ha ha sort of way.
The 2016 election was a mess. But it wasn’t the Republicans’ mess; it was the Democrats’. Republicans did the work. They showed up with 20+ candidates from every possible background and essentially just presented a diverse offering for the American people to choose from. Democrats? Well, let’s cut the crap for a minute here; the DNC showed up with one candidate with every intention of shoving that candidate down the throat of everybody. Why? My personal take is that Hillary had to lie about the Benghazi fiasco and essentially took the fall to protect her boss in the very close race of the 2012 US election. In exchange she was promised the presidency. There are other theories but what is clear is that the election was set from the beginning and most people saw through it. Polls with 14 percent more democrats in their – not so representative – sample of the population by NBC? Check. “Estimates” by Bloomberg, The Hills and many others popping up every five minutes on my Twitter feed on election night showing a 99% chance of Hillary winning? Check. CNN giving questions to the DNC to tilt the balance towards Hillary? Check. Increase media time for Hillary compared to every other candidates? Check.
By the way, every single one of those things are considered illegal in that beautiful Europe Democrats pretend to love so much. This absolute Freedom of Press is quite unique in the US – and I welcome it – but it requires that individuals be more critical of their media; certainly not less.
It was the responsibility of the Democrats to come out in 2016 and say; this ridiculous media bias is unacceptable. Instead, and if my facebook timeline is any indication, half of the Democrats remained silent on the subject while the other half decided that since a win was assured it would be okay to behave like self righteous arrogant assholes spending the entire year vomiting their hatred of the other half. Well, that blew up in their faces alright…
Fast forward two years and the reality is that the Democratic Party has made no effort to fix itself. It came out of the 2016 election in a shamble and it still hasn’t regained any credibility. Ask a Bernie Sanders voter about it if you don’t believe me.
Truth is, Donald J Trump wasn’t elected for who he is. The people who voted for him did it for very two simple reasons which remain true to this day; 1) He’s not Hillary Clinton. 2) He is an ‘outsider’ of the main political parties. Turns out any ‘big mouth’ would have won the election. Hell, I’m ready to bet Dennis Miller would have won. Anne Coulter would have won. Let that sink in. This actually goes a long way explaining why the US President seems immune in the polls. Turns out, the two aforementioned affirmations are still true and will remain true no matter what.
There’s an even bigger threat for the Democrats that should be mentioned here. When 2024 comes the Republican party won’t have any problem throwing DJ Trump under the bus presenting him for who he actually is – an outsider – then quietly offer a “real change” embodied by an actual member of the Conservative / Republican party.
My conclusion is that Democrats need to clean up the mess they created. The DNC needs to acknowledge some “dysfonctionnement” (I’m being very polite here), chop off a few heads very publicly and regain control of the party. Ideologically it needs to make a choice between mainstream Democrats and far left socialists and take another very public stand in that regards.
With the midterms election approaching fast I think time is running out. I don’t see any “Blue Wave” in the near future. The GOP will gain a few seats – possibly three – in the Senate and lose a few seats in the House of Representative – my guesstimates is nine seats.
As for the Libertarian Party you ask? Well, I’m afraid it will remain unpopular as long as people refuse to acknowledge the strong bond between Liberty and Personal Responsibility but that’s a different story.
For no particular reason – that I’m aware of anyway – I thought about “Atlas Shrugged” in a new light last night. I used to see the individualist, objectivist and logical aspect of the book and I valued the story for it. But there’s a completely different aspect I’ve been ignoring so far that seems to be far more important and relevant today. In fact the main question Ayn Rand asks strikes me this morning as the most important one anybody can ask; when would you quit? In other word; how far does a society of Men as to go for you – a self sufficient, productive individual – to say; “Stop, I will no longer support this madness.”
Essentially the book is about John Galt refusing to gift his community with his new invention, leaving a society he despises to its own predictable collapse.
There’s a certain percentage of individual who are a positive force to their community today. They pay taxes and not to be too blunt but these taxes are used for anything from the financing of K-12 to the bombing of Yemenite children.
Let’s forget about D.J. Trump since by any standard is a pretty melow president regardless of what some seems to believe. Instead, let’s project ourselves to 2024 and the election of a new American president. Let’s assume this newly elected president decides that the starving of the Venezuelan people by Maduro has been going on for too long and starts bombing down the place. Then the US President start ranting about Iran and decide to send an armed force. What else? Bomb Saudi Arabia as pay back for 9/11? Triple the military involvement in Afghanistan to put an end to the longest armed conflict in centuries? I’m sure there’s some place in western Africa we could bomb to…
I think by now you see the point. How far your own elected government as to go for you to either leave the country or possibly take up arm against your own government and bring it down?
Obviously if you’re single and have no kids it’s an ‘easy’ decision. After all, you just have to pack everything, leave behind your family, your friends and the culture you – used to – love. Then again if you factor in the love of your life it gets more complicated. Adding kids to the equation and it’s a whole different animal.
Talking is cheap. The whining and crying over Trump that has been going on for almost two years tells us that much. “To act” is far more difficult. An hypothetical would be helpful here. Luckily human History provides us with plenty of despicable leaders. We could very well use Adolf as an example – it’s very fashionable these days – but let’s take Stalin instead for the sake of variety. Between the starvation of his own people, the eugenic policies, the systematic killing of jews, the murder of political opponents and the completely random mass assassination of people for the sake of absolute control we have plenty enough for our hypothetical. Let me remind you of the question here; Where would you have stopped financing that society?
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Chances are you would have done nothing different than the previous generations. You would have used every rationalization possible to justify your indolence and docility towards the most murderous system of government. It’s nothing special really. Most people would. I think that’s what makes the question raised by Ayn Rand so pertinent even today. It forces every individual to look deeply into the mirror, to gather all the honesty an individual can muster and forces that individual to answer; “what is my breaking point?”
Regardless of the field a lot of attention is paid to the achievements and the end results today – whether by jealousy or ignorance. Not much is being said however about the dedication and the amount of work it takes to get there. Dining at the Plimoth always reminds me of what is behind the scene. Of the hidden talents. These numerous tries and failures, these required (but certainly detested) disappointments silently suffered before the joy of finding the perfect match between that Burgundy wine and this Beef “à la Bourguignonne” appears and finally lightens the always undervalued burden.
Between that particular type of almond, these pears, this cognac…Solving this exact equation requires an amount of work that remains completely secret to the layman.
This does straighten my confidence and my desire to fight against those who advocate amoral systems purporting to punish such achievements – usually for the benefits of those who’ve accomplished nothing – in order to buy themselves a frail and cheap sense of “moral” at a bargain.
I’m almost glad I’ve been ill (flu) for the past few days and was forced to completely skip Halloween this year. The idea of standing in a room full of adults in costumes pretending to be happy, contemptuously throwing fake smiles at each other in order to win this unspoken contest for a chance of wearing the crown of the King of delusion…
Who can pretend at this point that there’s any sincerity and honesty left in these yearly mandated celebrations? The only thing that seems appropriate in that particular case is the masks and the disguise. How symbolic indeed. To deceive and be deceived.
Filling up your life like a freaking piñata about to explode with every piece of junk encountered along the way as an ersatz for fulfillment…I hate to be the bearer of bad news but what you see as a solid foundation is merely a sheet of thin ice about to crack and increasing your load won’t improve your chances.
If “fake” is what your going for feel free to forgo the costume; it’s quite the unnecessary duplicate.
Watching “Amélie” for the first time yesterday made me realize something; Smiling was never intended to express happiness or joy. I think in the old days it was the ultimate expression of disdain and contempt. I can totally see two arch-enemies facing each other before battle throwing scornful smiles and mocking one another before the final blow. Isn’t the Song of Ilium the ultimate proof of this? Diomedes was certainly smiling when he sent back Aphrodite to Mount Olympus.
One of the few things that somewhat bothers me in the U.S. – in comparison to what I know best obviously – is how incredibly easy life has become here. I should explain I guess. France, beyond its strong historical Catholic background has been socialistic for more than a century and because of these two influences the idea of “life as a struggle” is palpable everywhere. I can’t count the number of individuals I have met over the years who have not only accepted a life that was in essence way below their personal abilities, they even on occasion seemed to do everything to sacrifice every opportunity of lightening their daily burden. “Self sacrifice” is something I despise. I see it I think exactly for what it is; a complete waste.
The religious background in the United States is more complex. The independence created by the US Constitution might have something to do with it but I will assume Americans know more than I do in that regard. The political background on the other hand has created a strong emphasis on the pursuit of happiness. You may think that these are just words at this point but it’s quite perceptible every where I look I can assure you.
Why am I bothered by this easiness? How could that be an issue? Putting aside the difference of culture I think I see it as a risk. To put it in the most familiar way; people get stupid when they’re bored. When they spend every second of their lives burdened by a million questions they tend to be more focused.
All this I believe is the reason to my attraction for the darkest pages of Faulkner (as I lay dying), Steinbeck (grapes of wrath), Nancy Huston (Plainsong) or, here, Terrence Malick / A.J. Edwards (The Better Angels). There is something incredibly powerful and harsh in these stories; Women standing by the door wondering if their men are going to collapse or stand for another day and fight after the passage of the strongest dust storm, Paddon kicking his own wife, living her bleeding on the kitchen floor because she’s pregnant again and they both know well that they can’t afford one more child, or Tom Lincoln meticulously putting together the wood planks of his wife’s coffin the day of her death.
I don’t mean to say that life was in any way better two centuries ago but I think rejecting it completely as if nothing had been lost in the process is shortsighted. This movie is a good reflexion on the subject.
I’m kind of tired of these political bundles we’re supposed to subscribed to. Voting is like getting cable or satellite television; you like one thing but for some stupid reason you have to pay for the whole bundle of nonsense to get that one thing you actually want. It’s either Comcast, DirectTV / Dish or go fuck yourself. The 2016 US Election might end up being Clinton, Bush or go fuck yourself just the same. It’s ridiculous. I want “À La Carte” politics. Voting should be about individuals making choices on a series of bullet points and politicians trying to make their case and convince voters that they’re the best person to implement these policies. We could still manage that under the limit given by the US Constitution to avoid the dictatorship of the majority and protect individual rights I’m sure.
Forget these stupid tea / coffee movements; I present to you the Baileys Irish Cream Movement. Why Baileys you ask? Because it’s delicious that’s why.
Side note – and a reminder for those with short term memory loss – just to bring some balance in this world of extremists. Before the last US intervention in Iraq the United Nations was publishing papers just about every day claiming 200000 people (mostly kids supposedly) were dying each year thanks to Iraq’s leadership. Of course once the US went there the UN bullying stopped and later on half the US made a u-turn. The U.N. seems to be doing the same these days with Syria. As if there was a desire to convince (i.e. brainwash) the public opinion that one more military intervention is required. As usual the act will be presented as “ineluctable”.
I’m not saying the U.N claims are false (Syrians are not fleeing to Europe only to get access to the latest iPhone 6s) but that there’s a price to pay for intervention and there’s a price to pay for idleness. The current US policy is not idleness. It’s just intervention at a slow pace and on a small scale. Being slow has never been a quality in war. Napoleon knew that. Germany knew that. The US used to know that. Lingering protracted wars are always damaging unless you’re heavily invested in Lockheed Martin. In more diplomatic terms; shit or get off the pot.