George Sarant

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Archive for April 2010

PROMOTING DIVISION AND DISUNITY

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For some time the liberal Democrats have sought to organize minorities against white people, indulging every “grievance” and using the hammer of “racism” against Republicans and conservatives. Rather than encourage national unity they have encouraged group identity and the politics of resentment. Now we have the sorry spectacle of the President of the United States weighing in, encouraging blacks, Latinos, and “women” to come out in support of Democrat policies. Imagine the outcry if a Republican had called upon white people to stand up.

But now you have to be an idiot not to realize where he is coming from. This is a White House where Al Sharpton is a regular visitor. The dignity of this office has been has been sharply downgraded by the administration. This was supposed to be a “post partisan” President. He was supposed to be a unifier, not a divider. That was the impression most people had during the campaign due to posturing along these lines, a favorable media, and a lousy campaign by John McCain which refused to raise any questions about the dark side. But now we see the roots in Chicago politics, Reverend Wright, Bill Ayres, etc. increasingly exposed to anyone who cares to look.

This is a truly awful situation, coupled with a radical runaway congress. Never in the history of America has the government been at more variance with the sentiments of the people. There is only one corrective possible- a resounding defeat of the Democrats in the fall election and in 2012. It cannot come too soon.

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April 29, 2010 at 8:04 PM

SIMPLE IMMIGRATION REFORM

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Congress is being pressured to pass an immigration bill that would provide a “path to citizenship” for some eleven million illegal residents in this country. Given the blatant violation of our laws it is breathtaking to watch advocates press demands. On the other hand there is the reality that these people exist here and the question is what our policy ought to be. There is an alternative to legalization that ought to be considered.

In ancient Greece people residing in city states who were not citizens were considered metoikoi, or resident aliens. This status afforded them the opportunity to live in communities other than those of their origins. What we should do is develop a similar category for resident aliens that legalizes their presence here without granting full citizenship. This is a lot simpler than requiring them to jump through hoops to attain citizenship status. They would simply apply for it, and if they lack a criminal record, be granted resident status.

It is unfair to grant citizenship to those who have jumped the line, but there is no reason why we cannot provide another form of legal status. The law still needs to reformed to provide preference to higher-skilled applicants, real border enforcement and to allow for “guest workers,” who are needed particularly in agriculture. Apart from this resident alien status would seem to be the best solution for the rest.

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April 26, 2010 at 8:48 PM

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THE IMMUTABLE FORCES OF NATURE

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In any contest between man and nature, nature inevitably wins, as evident in the recent grounding of all flights in Europe due to ash from a volcano in Iceland. With but a few more volcanic eruptions the disaster could have been far worse, resulting in a pronounced climate change. This has occurred many times in the past. Another eruption in Iceland in 1783 was noted by Benjamin Franklin while residing in Paris. He realized that a large amount of volcanic particles in the atmosphere would reduce the earth’s temperature by blocking the sun’s rays from reaching the surface. The Tambora eruption in Indonesia in 1815 resulted in a “year without summer” across the globe. These have occurred in relatively recent historical times, but have been happening continuously across the ages.

Earth has been a fireball, and was utterly transformed into a frozen snowball over the eons. The continents have reconfigured themselves in unrecognizable forms over millions of years as the earth beneath our feet literally continues to move. Geological changes are constant over time and can have a profound effect on life on earth. We as a species began populating the earth and expressing ourselves only 40,000 years ago in relatively sweet time. This is but a fragmentary moment in processes that have gone on for millions; billions of years. These benign conditions allowed our civilization to develop some ten tnousand years BC with the beginning of agriculture and towns.

Throughout all of our history we have been subject to the forces of nature. For most of that time these were attributed to often angry gods and it was only in the twentieth century that the full scope of geological time and effects was fully comprehended. The world of today is but an infinitesimal moment in long term processes that will continue with or without us, but upon which we can no effect whatsoever.

Alongside these forces the impact of man-made global warming is negligible. Even controlling for that, at a cost of trillions of dollars, will not immunize us against the forces of nature. Beyond volcanic eruptions, a change in solar flares would have immeasurably more impact on the planet than anything we have done. Given this reality rather than attempting to stop inevitable climate change we should be devoting resources to ameliorating the consequences, rather than to self-destructive, quixotic prevention. This includes greater emergency preparedness, better intelligence regarding natural forces, and steps to avoid the consequences of unstoppable changes. For the fact remains that even if we could slightly alter the debatable effects of human activity we can do nothing to stop the forces of nature.

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April 22, 2010 at 3:50 PM

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THE STUPID CENSUS

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First came a letter, announcing that census forms would be coming. Then three forms came for a one family house, one of which was completed and returned. Then another three forms came, followed by a pair of postcards. Is it any wonder that the government is broke?

More insidious is the stupid, if not offensive questions asked. It asks for race, which for most people only allows only for white or black. Yet on Hispanics it asks for a breakdown between Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban, etc. On Asians it asks for Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, etc. It is thus pre-configured with a bias towards these groups. What about everyone else’s origins? What about Germans, Irish, Italian, etc.? What about people who are multiracial? Just what is the purpose of these questions, and why are they so skewed?

The census is simply supposed to provide a head count every ten years according to the constitution, primarily in order to properly proportion the House of Representatives. Everything else is superfluous and arbitrary. Some have revolted against all of this by checking “Other” for race, or are otherwise uncooperative. I don’t recommend this because an accurate count is important. But there surely are more efficient ways of doing this.

Private pollsters, opinion, and consumer researchers are far more efficient at this kind of thing. Why not contract it out at a fraction of the ten billion that is being wasted on this. The only upside is for the administration in showing a “jobs increase” due to 48,000 temporary census hires. It is too late to do anything about this now, but congress should determine that the next census be a head count and nothing more. It is time to put an end to official group identity and the inevitable “grievances” that follow.

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April 20, 2010 at 3:24 PM

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SAY NO TO THE VAT

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Nancy Pelosi and other liberals are mulling over imposing a VAT (Value Added Tax) on America to cover the unsustainable deficits they have run up as well as ambitious new social spending programs. This tax is common in Europe, where it ranges as high as 21%. It is in effect a national sales tax that is applied at each stage of production. The imposition of such a tax would provide the government with a new stream of revenue that would be invisible.

Given the proclivities of the current government you can expect things to cost a lot more in the future. Either they will impose a VAT, or otherwise will inflate the currency to devalue debt and screw the bondholders, causing everything to cost more. Anyone who remembers the nightmare of the late 70s inflation must already be concerned about this.

The Left essentially wants to emulate the European welfare states, and so would adapt their methods, beginning with health care. But when it comes to the VAT America is different. There are states and local governments that also tax, but they are conveniently usually left out of comparisons with other countries. We already pay state and local sales taxes as high as 10% in some localities. Will we now pay another federal sales tax? The VAT would result in an endless expansion of government if the Social Democrats have their way. This will come at the expense of the private economy, which will result in slower growth and fewer jobs.

Under this proposal you will find yourself with less money in your pocket while looking at higher prices for everyday expenses. On this Tax Day it is time to say enough! The only hope is that in November these scoundrels will be voted out and replaced by fiscailly prudent representatives.

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April 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM

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LET THE ENEMY FIND HIS OWN IEDS

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I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how battlefield medicine has improved, saving many more lives, particularly of soldiers who step on IEDs. Nevertheless the loss of limbs infuriated me. In one case a British Captain had his legs blown off, one arm, and four fingers on the other, leaving him with one finger. There is no reason in the world why we should continue to absorb such casualties. We should have had a technology to detect these things by now. In the absence of such methods I believe what we should do is put enemy POWs in front of our troops so they become the victims instead of our young men. I don’t want to hear any more about the rules of war, the Geneva convention, etc. because none of that applies here. These enemy combatants are not state actors, they recognize no rules of conduct, they have no respect for life, and are happy with death and martyrdom anyway. They would eventually think twice about planting IEDs if they themselves were to be the victims and it would help curtail this treacherous tactic. There are those who would fret about “world opinion,” i.e. left-wingers, but think of all the lives that could be saved, and of all those young men now sitting in hospitals missing limbs. Let us use the enemy against the enemy. It is only justice.

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April 5, 2010 at 9:00 PM

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THE REAL COST OF LIVING

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While the administration and congress have forced through a radical health overhaul certain basic questions have not been directly addressed. Are we responsible for keeping everyone who is living today alive? Does this mean everyone in the United States or does it also mean the developing world as well, as some would have it? These are difficult moral questions, but there is nothing in the constitution to suggest that the state has any responsibilities along these lines. One could stretch the meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence to encompass this, though it is unclear to what extent the state could guarantee life any more than it can guarantee happiness.

Are we responsible for taking care of those who will not bear the cost of taking care of themselves? Those who cannot already have support systems, no matter how imperfect. Clearly before any attempt to overhaul the health care system is attempted these basic questions ought to be thoughtfully addressed given that there is no consensus on them.

The left would establish a “right” to health care for everyone, thus assigning the state the responsibility for life itself. On the other hand many on the right emphasize the sanctity of life and oppose abortion and euthanasia and would involve the state in these matters. Thus there is an odd convergence of opinion that the state ought to be involved in some sense with the matter of life, although understandings as to what this means differ widely. For any overhaul to be acceptable there has to be some agreement on fundamentals. Any new right ought to have the broad base of a constitutional amendment, if not an amendment itself.

Health care literally constitutes the fundamental “cost of living.” For countless centuries basic human needs have consisted of food, shelter, and clothing. Over the past hundred years as life spans have increased due to medical innovation, health has become another need, in that people can live into old age to the extent they are healthy. In prior centuries little could be done to extend lifespans and the average person died at a considerably younger age. What was “old” in the past is now relatively young. This is what accounts for much of the increase in health care costs over the years. This is the real “cost of living,” and the administration’s health care program would effectively make this a responsibility of the state, thus transforming a need into a right. Even if such a right was established it does not follow that government should manage it, anymore than it manages our choices in food, shelter, or clothing. But they go even further, not only creating a right but a requirement.

However most of the innovation has come from society’s institutions, not the state, whether it be new drugs, medical devices and procedures, or cures for disease. Can the state effectively “control” this innovation? Or will it stifle further improvement? Part of the reason American health care costs are so high is that we are effectively subsidizing the rest of the world in terms of innovation, as reflected i.e. in domestic drug prices. As long as innovation continues unfettered there may well be an increase in the cost of living, unless or until yet other innovation leads to cost savings. This is clearly possible, as in the case of procedures that once required extended hospitalization and that can now be done on an outpatient basis. Thus innovation cuts both ways, but once the government takes control this engine will be stifled. The fallacy of the Democratic health care plan is that conditions that exist today are going to prevail in the future. Thus apart from cost factors, the Democratic plan represents a closed system based upon present day assumptions. But no one can accurately predict the future more than a few years out. Rather than expanding care it would effectively freeze it.

In addition to costs, the long term consequences of state control have not been seriously thought out. Suppose a procedure to extend lifespans was developed. There would certainly be a cost involved with this, which would effectively add to the cost of living. Would it then be then the responsibility of the government to guarantee an extended lifespan to everyone, regardless of their living habits? Prudence would indicate that we ought to think through exactly what responsibilities the state would assume. Unless and until there is a broader consensus change should be incremental at most and this monstrous legislation must be undone.

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April 1, 2010 at 12:19 AM

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