Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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22 November 2011


U.S. foreign policy continues to be in safe hands. In a speech she gave a few weeks ago (but that I only just heard about tonight in a gushing report on NPR), Hillary attempted to explain the unexplainable - our Mideast policy. She gave a little FAQ apparently, including this Q&A:
What will the United States do if democracy brings anti-U.S. governments to power? "The suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting, dangerous, and wrong. They do it in this country every day," Clinton said. "Parties committed to democracy must reject violence; they must abide by the rule of law and respect the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly; they must respect the rights of women and minorities; they must let go of power if defeated at the polls; and, in a region with deep divisions within and between religions, they cannot be the spark that starts a conflagration. In other words, what parties call themselves is less important than what they do."
I love that - "The suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting, dangerous, and wrong." What she means of course is "the suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting - and therefore dangerous and wrong." There's a lot of "musts" in there too - none of which have ever been followed in any MidEast Islamist state - ever. So is the plan to bomb these new governments when they ultimately fall short? No, they not. While it's silly to imagine that the administration has any particular goals in mind in stumbling upon its foreign policy, one theme can be expected to act as a guiding force: no government which professes an animus against the West - in particular those openly hostile to American interests - need fear our intervention. Thus Syria, Iran, Cuba, Korea, Venezuela - completely safe from our interference. Of course that's only right - no government, friend or foe, should fear our intervention provided they do not threaten or attack us. But it would be ideal if governments that are actually friendly towards us should feel safe as well.

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19 November 2011

How Come Super-Smart People Never Thank the Lord?

I have found that people get annoyed when star athletes start off with a word of thanks to the Lord when they're interviewed after games (Tim Tebow being the latest high-profile example of this much reviled type - but it's fairly routine among athletes). But I find it very understandable and actually quite endearing. Think of it from their point of view. After spending their entire lives dominating all their peers in their athletic pursuits, they're now competing at the highest levels against the best of the best, and still doing amazing things. How can one explain such mind-boggling talent? Why, of all the people you ever knew, are you so uniquely gifted? How is it that you were the one so chosen? The Lord's grace would seem to provide the most plausible answer. What are they supposed to say - "Yeah, I'm awesome - on your knees, bitch!"?

But when Warren Buffet is interviewed on CNBC, say, he doesn't start off the first answer with "First off Becky I'd like to thank the good Lord for giving me the opportunity to..." Instead, if pressed on why he's so successful, he'll spout out some platitude about being 'fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful' which is clever but no more explanatory than thanking the good Lord. Nor have we ever heard Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Larry Ellison give heavenly thanks for their phenomenal success. Are there any among the rich-and-powerful who are not also famous for being religiously devout who give God credit for their success?

After I wrote this, Steve Sailer put up a post about Billionaires who actually earn their fortune. The punch-line of his article is Oprah - she's probably the billionaire most personally responsible - from soup-to-nuts - for her fortune.  I don't disagree. But even as her show and network promote spirituality, she never talked about her own beliefs much, apparently - until her last show, when she gave a nod to Jesus himself:
"People often ask me what is the secret to the success of the show," she said. "How have we lasted 25 years. I non-jokingly say, my team - and Jesus."

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17 November 2011

Young People Saving Money - What a Disaster!

The madness behind Keynesianism can be found in an article today in the Times ("As New Graduates Return to Nest, Economy Also Feels the Pain") featuring uber-Keynesian Mark Zandi of Moody's. Saving money is bad, you see - and squandering it on useless frills is what the economy needs. What Zandi wants young people to do when they get their first job is to get their own place and start spending that money.
Every year, young adults leave the nest, couples divorce, foreigners immigrate and roommates separate, all helping drive economic growth when they furnish and refurbish their new homes. Under normal circumstances, each time a household is formed it adds about $145,000 to output that year as the spending ripples through the economy, estimates Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.
Clearly Zandi has learned nothing. That he didn't foresee what was coming is rather unfortunate, given that he's chief economist of a corporation charged with rating risk. But not to have learned from what happened is unforgivable. Zandi, Krugman and their ilk seem to believe that some weird event happened in the heavens - like a supernova that lights up the night sky - that spooked people and has led them to irrationally withdraw from the economy.

 But as we all know what happened was that people learned - when the bubble burst - that debt must actually at some point be repaid and can't be perpetually rolled over, that future high incomes are not guaranteed, that the amount of disposable income available is not infinite, and that future expenditures cannot always be paid out of current income.

 So what these young people are doing (at least according to this article's narrative) is staying a few more years with Mom and Pop to maybe save a few bucks for one of those down-payment thingies that used to be so popular back in the Middle Ages for buying houses. But apparently Zandi, on the other hand, is aghast that they're not frittering their incomes away in the expectation of landing a negative-amortization loan for a home costing twice what they can afford. Yeah, that's how a society builds wealth, Zandi - by spending.

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01 November 2011

The Gap Continues to Shrink

The 2011 NAEP results have just been released. Last year I provided some graphs on a declining trend in the Black/White gap in grade school scores. It appears that this trend is continuing - and not starting to flatten out. Here are the Math gaps:
This represents a very small narrowing that if continued at the pace of the last 6 years would not eliminate the gap within the lifetimes of anyone reading this now. Reading results are also narrowing at a similarly slow pace:
Now as to whether these very meager victories in the war against The Gap are worth the billions of dollars and public resources that have been mobilized to fight it - that's another question entirely. But it would be really depressing if the gap were actually widening. Another depressing thought is whether the kind of widespread cheating we have seen in Atlanta and New York City could be behind this improvement as well.

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