I’ve stated for many years that there is no abject poverty in the United States, only relative poverty. Turns out that when you compare the U.S. to the rest of the world, we don’t even have that. Excerpts, with my thoughts:
A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.
It’s important to note that most assessments of “poverty” in the United States do not include government benefits such as those listed above.
Notably, this study was reviewed by Dr. Henrique Schneider, professor of economics at Nordakademie University in Germany and the chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. After examining the source data and Just Facts’ methodology, he concluded: “This study is sound and conforms with academic standards. I personally think it provides valuable insight into poverty measures and adds considerably to this field of research.”
It’s also important to note that the Swiss know a thing or two about economics.
To accurately compare living standards across or within nations, it is necessary to account for all major aspects of material welfare. None of the data above does this.
The OECD data is particularly flawed because it is based on “income,” which excludes a host of non-cash government benefits and private charity that are abundant in the United States. Examples include but are not limited to:
- healthcare provided by Medicaid, free clinics, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- nourishment provided by Food Stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, and the Women’s, Infants’ & Children’s program.
- housing and amenities provided through rent subsidies, utility assistance, and homeless shelters.
This is, of course, horseshit. You can hardly read the comments section of any article on the subject of poverty without reading anecdotes of people on food stamps (at least, back when those were easily recognized) buying a cartload of expensive prime cuts of beef, then going outside and loading them into a new car. I’ve seen it myself; almost thirty years ago, when food stamps were still the big USDA coupons, I took a cow elk into a butcher’s shop for processing and was in line for the cash register behind a woman who was buying a huge box of prime steaks – with food stamps.
Read the whole article, of course, but the upshot of all this is pretty simple to determine: Anyone living in the United States has it fucking made compared to pretty much anywhere else on the planet, even if you are “poor” as such things are reckoned here today. We have the richest poor people in human history, and it would be nice if for once the legacy media would stop lying about it.
Want to improve your memory? Try walking backwards.
John Bolton is out as National Security Advisor. Bolton was arguing to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan with no clear mission and no exit strategy. The President – his boss – disagreed. So, this was obviously going to happen.
Want to improve your memory? Try walking backwards.
Democrats are blaming airplanes, meat and business for climate change. Guess which three of those things aren’t going anywhere.
Seriously, is that what Dems are running on in 2020? Do they want more Trump? Because that’s how you get more Trump.
In Normandy, scientists have uncovered a bunch of preserved footprints – from Neandertals. This is pretty cool stuff, because while bones give us an idea of what the Neandertal looked like and how they moved, and their tools give us an idea of how innovative they were, footprints record behavior – they are like signatures, saying I was here. It’s a really groovy find.
Want to improve your memory? Try walking backwards.
Quantum gravity may be the key to time travel. I will be the first to admit that my understanding of all this is somewhat less than rudimentary, but color me skeptical.
Turns out naps could be good for your heart. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a cat having a heart attack, and all they seem to do is nap, so…
Want to improve your memory? Try walking backwards.
The Brits in Parliament seem to have the most fun.
Back home, the Denver City Council seeks to emulate San Francisco in nutballery. At least we don’t have shit-choked streets and discarded needles everywhere – yet.
To ease your transition back to the real world, here is a bit of totty from the archives:
Some random links to stuff I found interesting over the last day or so:
Robert Stacy McCain skewers the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not that they don’t need skewering – they do, every day and twice on Sunday.
Joe Biden is possibly senile, and an idiot.
Rahm Emanuel finds an acorn. Rahm went on record saying that “Medicare for all” is a losing campaign issue for Dems – and you know, he’s not wrong.
Mad Dog Mattis slaps down MSNBC. Eh heh heh heh.
All is not well in Palin-land. Having been divorced myself, all I can say is no matter the reason, that’s never an easy decision for anyone.
Illegal immigrant apprehensions at the southern border are way down. Now, who was it that has been making immigration policy lately?
Meanwhile, the “migrants” find other destinations. Go figure.
Our good friend Jillian Becker weighs in on recycling.
Violence for Thee But Not for Me. Excerpt:
The domestic rise of various violent groups is a symptom of ideology taking precedence over authentic and rational thought. A recent example of this rather disturbing trend was the attack on the journalist Andy Ngo. Ngo was reporting from Portland, Oregon on a series of protests and counter-protests in the city when he was accosted and attacked by a far-left group, Antifa (which has been responsible for many acts of violence at other events). Ngo sustained injuries to the head, which landed him in a hospital.
Just because, here is some windy Rule Five imagery from the archives.
We all already know about the latest shooting spree by a nutbar, this one in Texas; I’m not going to rehash that. But instead, even as politicians scramble to climb onto the still-warm bodies to RHEEEEE for more gun laws that won’t be enforced, I’d like to talk a little bit about cause analysis.
Now, to preface this: I’ve been a self-employed independent consultant for fifteen + years. A big part of that work involves teaching the employees of major corporations how to solve problems, which means teaching people how to identify causes; several large corporations have and do pay me significant money to teach their people how to identify and address the root causes of problems.
So, how does one go about solving a problem like the criminal use of guns? Well, one might start by noting one of the primary rules of cause analysis: The tool is never the cause.
Ultimately, root cause is defined as “The fundamental underlying condition absent which the nonconformity would not have occurred.” To analyze the various possible causes and arrive at an ultimate root cause, the cause investigator should consider several things:
- The investigation should uncover a series of events or facts that led up to the nonconformity. Root cause typically lies at the beginning of this chain of events. Keep asking ‘why?’
- Test possible causes; take one possible cause at a time and compare it to your investigative tools. Now this isn’t easy when dealing with major social trends or criminal acts, as the streets and alleys of the nation aren’t laboratories. But we can move on to:
- A tool, be it physical, procedural or software, is never a cause. Root causes are always due to one of two things, both of which have their source in how a process is managed:
- Someone has made a mistake, error or omission, (qualitative) or
- There is too much variation in the performance of the product or the process (quantitative.)
- How do you know when you have found the root cause? Some hints include:
- Patterns found in the data lead to one cause.
- Following the chain of events runs the questioner out of “whys.”
- Multiple lines of inquiry lead to one result.
- One possible cause shows up in several places.
- The cause being examined is a systemic cause, not a specific cause.
However, the final determination should consider one thing: An incident is an action; by the rules of cause and effect, the cause is likewise an action; an action requires an actor. Therefore, a root cause is always at the point where some person or group of people made a decision. A decision to act (or not to act) is always at the heart of every incident. Is this cause qualitative or quantitative? Without having done a thorough analysis, I’d guess the former; something in the minds of these assholes has gone badly wrong, and were they unable to get a gun, as we have seen in other incidents, they would turn to a pressure-cooker bomb, an automobile, a can of gasoline or some other tool, because the tool is never the cause.
Of course, nobody in the political world wants to think this deeply about a problem, and honestly, very damn few voters want to either. Nobody is interested in finding out why these assholes are making the decision to shoot a bunch of people; they are too focused on doing something highly visible and emotionally driven. So they call for more laws that won’t be enforced, and more bans on “assault weapons” that they can’t even define.
And the cycle will just keep going.
This week’s Gingermageddon features Dutch cutie Emily van Tongeren! Continue reading Saturday Gingermageddon
I’ve been re-reading Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty Civil and Religious and Other Important Subjects (Complete), a series of essays published by “The Library of Alexandria” and compiled by two characters using the nom de plumes John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. The essays were first published from 1720 to 1723 and formed a strong influence on the thinking of many of our Founding Fathers.
Named for the famous Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato, he of the staunch republican opinions, the notorious Stoic who opposed the tyranny of Caesar unto his last breath, the Letters are a pioneering set of statements in favor of the principles of liberty, and of limits on and accountability of government.
From Wikipedia: The Letters are considered a seminal work in the tradition of the Commonwealth men. The 144 essays were published originally in the London Journal, later in the British Journal, condemning corruption and lack of morality within the British political system and warning against tyranny.
I can’t recommend this work strongly enough. A statement you’ll see just over to the right, one of the two founding sentiments of this blog, is from the Letters: Nisi forte non de serveitute, sed de conditione serviendi, recusandum est a nobis or, in English, “We do not dispute about the qualifications of a master, for we will have no master.”
A few interesting excerpts follow.
From No. 11, The Justice and Necessity of punishing great Crimes, though committed against no subsisting Law of the State.
Laws, for the most part, do not make crimes, but suit and adapt punishments to such actions as all mankind knew to be crimes before. And though national governments should never enact any positive laws, never annex particular penalties to known offences; yet they would have a right, and it would be their duty to punish those offences according to their best discretion; much more so, if the crimes committed are so great, that no human wisdom could foresee that any man could be wicked and desperate enough to commit them.
In other words, one of the few legitimate roles of government is protecting citizens from being deprived of their property by force or by fraud; but, should government fail in that task, the citizen has a moral right to redress by other means.
From No. 15, Of Freedom of Speech: That the same is inseparable from publick Liberty.
Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as publick liberty, without freedom of speech: Which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and control the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, the only bounds which it ought to know.
The only limits to freedom of speech, then, are that one may not cause physical or financial harm to another. Thus incitements to violence are not protected, nor is slander or libel. But “hate speech,” by which term many today choose to define as “speech I don’t agree with” not only is protected, but must be protected, else the very concept of freedom of speech is meaningless.
From No. 33, Cautions against the natural Encroachments of Power.
It is nothing strange, that men, who think themselves unaccountable, should act unaccountably, and that all men would be unaccountable if they could: Even those who have done nothing to displease, do not know but some time or other they may; and no man cares to be at the entire mercy of another. Hence it is, that if every man had his will, all men would exercise dominion, and no man would suffer it. It is therefore owing more to the necessities of men, than to their inclinations, that they have put themselves at last that he might do what he would, he let loose his appetite for blood, and committed such mighty, such monstrous, such unnatural slaughters and outrages, as none but a heart bent on the study of cruelty could have devised.
To simplify: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It’s important to remember the context of the times in which these essays were written. The early 18th century was a time when slavery was broadly accepted, when pirates were hanged without trials, when women were excluded from government altogether. But the Letters are nonetheless an opening shot in the battle which continues today, here in the United States, where encroachments on liberty are daily proposed.
Go, then, and read these works. You can get a free Kindle app for a PC and the Kindle version (linked above) is only four bucks. You could hardly find a better way to spend four bucks.
Upside: Mrs. A and yr. obdt. are home in Colorado for the long weekend. I have a new shootin’ iron, a 1942 Winchester Model 12 Black Diamond trap gun, so I’ll be going out to the club to shoot a few rounds of trap; watch these virtual pages for a report.
Now, on to the links:
Our species, it has long been known, once went through a pretty tight genetic bottleneck. Now there are some more details about what may have caused that bottleneck.
Crows are getting high cholesterol. From cheeseburgers. Yes, really.
Elsewhere, feral hogs are, well, making pigs of themselves. As a public service, I offer aid to any landowners with feral hog problems; I have a good rifle and am willing to arrange a time to come remove some of the beasts in question.
Taxes are going up in many states, but the roads still suck.
From one of my fellow Glibertarians, some thoughts on competition and the public sector.
Also, if you aren’t reading the morning and evening links over at Glibertarians, you ought to be. There’s a wealth of other good content as well, plus you can read the comments without losing IQ points, which is more than I can say for most poltical/social commentary sites.
Today’s purely gratuitous totty is for blogger pal and long-time reader Andrew Pearce; Andrew, I believe you spotted the young lady in the center here in Tuesday’s post:
Be sure to check out my latest at Glibertarians, Profiles in Toxic Masculinity IV: Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis.
Some random notes from this (early) morning’s news crawl:
This just in from the New York Times – bedbugs. It would be funny if it wasn’t so ironic.
There’s a new Star Wars Episode something-or-other trailer. I’m not sure what to think. Check it out for yourself:
Robert Stacy McCain’s linkage compiler and our good friend Wombat-socho has some thoughts on protecting the conservative and libertarian blogosphere.
Crazy Eyes opines on the Electoral College, once more proving Abraham Lincoln’s thesis that “…it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Remind me again, who is the party of peace and tolerance?
America’s poor: Some of the richest people in human history.
The two young ladies pictured below have nothing to do with any of the stories above. Their appearance here is purely gratuitous.