Last week, a semi tractor belonging to the moving company hauled a big cargo container into our driveway. Five guys came in and filled our house and the workshop and office buildings up with boxes and various appurtenances.
On the one hand, it’s great to have this done, and it feels even more real now that all our stuff is here.
On the other hand, it’s going to take months to get everything unpacked and organized.
But it’s done; we can take our time setting stuff up, but the hard part of the move is complete. The only way I’m moving from this house is in a body bag. We’re home, here in the Great Land, to stay.
Any of you True Believers who have been reading these virtual pages for any time, and who have been paying attention to my cultural offerings, already know that I have wide and varied tastes in music. And while I watch very little television, I do confess a fondness for the Canadian production Letterkenny, an irreverent look at life in a small town in Ontario that translates well into small-town life most places. They make fun of almost every social issue at one point or another, and it’s refreshing to see a show where the main character is an unabashed “good ol’ boy” who doesn’t shy away from solving confrontations with his fists. And who wouldn’t love a show with characters named Squirrely Dan, Joint-Boy and Jivin’ Pete?
Anyway – one of the things I enjoy about the show is the soundtrack, where you will find clips from a variety of artists; some I don’t care for, some I find I enjoy, and I through the show I have discovered some Canadian indy acts I enjoy quite a bit. One of those is the show’s opening theme, which takes a few bars from the beginning of the song Who Needs A Girl Like You from the group Indian Wars. Here, for your enjoyment, is that song.
President Biden(‘s handlers) have an infrastructure plan. But there’s a problem: It’s utter horseshit. Excerpt:
After two painful recessions and ever greater national discord, there is considerable support for a new beginning, even if it takes massive federal spending. The question we must ask now is what kind of spending makes sense given the character of the country, its geography, and its economic challenges. America remains a vast and diverse place, and decisions that make sense for one locale do not necessarily make any sense in others. A dispersed country needs dispersed decision-making, not edicts issued from on high by the D.C. nomenklatura.
Unfortunately, Joe Biden’s ballyhooed “infrastructure” plan, coupled with unprecedented stimulus spending, is cast by the obliging media as being about the middle class but seems oddly detached from how the overwhelming majority of the middle class lives, which is in lower-density, automobile-dependent neighborhoods. This dynamic was intensifying even before the pandemic. But Biden’s plan seems mostly about serving the relatively small sliver of transit-riding apartment dwellers living in denser neighborhoods. Overall, dense residential areas accommodate no more than 10 percent of the nation’s population.
Rather than emulate Roosevelt’s New Deal, as Biden’s handlers insist, the plan renounces much of what drove it. The New Deal, whatever one thinks of it, was about improving the material quality of life for most Americans, such as by spreading the benefits of homeownership to an ever-broader part of the population. In contrast, the Biden plan focuses on permanent redistribution through ever more entitlements and dependency — something Roosevelt opposed. It is likely to reduce our competitiveness by boosting energy and regulatory costs as well as taxes.
In other words, these people have no idea what they’re doing. You can rely on the political class for that: When faced with a failure of government, usually in an area where government has no business being involved, the political class’s response is predictable: Government harder.
Here’s the onion:
Historically, both parties have looked with favor on suburbs and the notion of a country where most people own their own home. Franklin Roosevelt insisted that a “nation of homeowners” would be “unconquerable.” But this view began to change under President Obama, who decided that suburbs needed to become denser and home to more poor people. Many Democrats, reading the mainstream media, assumed they were riding a “back to the city” wave that would transform American geography as well as politics. Some deep-blue jurisdictions — Minneapolis, California, Oregon — have moved toward eliminating single-family zoning. At the same time, in deepest-blue California, a citizens’ movement with determined support from minority neighborhoods has so far thwarted such heavy-handedness from Sacramento.
The Left’s embrace of forced density reveals a serious misreading of demographic and geographic trends. Despite what you might read in the New York Times, Americans on the whole never went “back to the city.” In fact, in not one year since 2000 have more people moved into the urban-core counties than moved into suburban and exurban counties. Between 2010 and 2020, some of the largest metro areas — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, and San Francisco — lost domestic migrants, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Critically, as new research shows, the people most likely to move are the educated young, previously thought to be permanently urbanistas.
I’m sure the fact that many of our major cities have become riotous, crime-ridden shitholes have nothing to do with it. Right?
It’s been a popular talking point for some time now among the political Left to favor policies pushing increasing urbanization. And their infrastructure plans, such as they are, as well as their energy policies, seem to be intended to make rural dwellers (like yr. obdt.) lives more difficult.
These policy proposals are, actually, a good argument for federalism. What works for Connecticut won’t work for Wyoming – or Alaska – and that’s something that the GOP should run on. Infrastructure is properly a State, not an Imperial, matter.
Spring doesn’t last long up here in the Great Land. Summer doesn’t, either. But it’s great while it’s here. Right now the birches and poplars are fully leafed out, with that bright green so characteristic of late spring and early summer. We have ferns and wildflowers coming up all over, along with some irises and various other plants around the yard. The greenhouse won’t get much use this year, as we don’t have seeds and equipment in time to get things started, but next year we’ll be making use of it.
After thirty years in semi-arid Colorado, it’s amazing how green everything is here in the Susitna Valley. There’s a lot more moisture, obviously, what with all the snowfall and the frequency of wet, drippy days. Still, like the old saying about April showers bringing May flowers, in Alaska it may be May showers bringing June flowers but it still holds true. Things are pretty here now but in a few more weeks they’ll be really gorgeous.
Here’s the problem with big proposals like this; if it were economically viable, someone would have already done it. If government has to pay for it, we shouldn’t be doing it. This one doesn’t pass the bullshit test.
Speaker Trump? I’d like to see that, just to watch leftist heads explode. Imagine President Biden mumbling and maundering his way through a State of the Union with Donald Trump sitting right behind him. If that wouldn’t bring the lulz, I don’t know what will.
Juan Williams is an idiot. I used to like Juan Williams; he seemed like a guy with principles, as opposed to politics, and I respect people with principles even if I don’t agree with them. But these days Juan seems to have devolved into just another partisan hack. That’s too bad.
Very few bands have ever matched the immortal Led Zeppelin. This is one of the greatest of their works, one in fact used to great effect by director Taika Waititi in Marvel’s tongue-in-cheek Thor: Ragnarok.
In 1978 or 79 – the exact year is a little fuzzy at this distance in time – I had the pleasure of seeing Zep live. My buddies and I managed to work our way up pretty close to the stage and at one point were about twenty feet from Robert Plant, who was on stage, hair flying, wailing in his best Seventies rock-band fashion. It was a neat experience. Here’s The Immigrant Song. Enjoy.
Of all President Joe Biden’s awful economic policies, none will have as nasty and lasting an impact on average Americans as the sheer growth he’s proposing for the federal government. His newly unveiled budget lays bare once again the Democratic Party’s sharp socialist turn.
Biden’s budget is, in a word, mammoth. It proposes a total of $6 trillion in spending next year, with a budget deficit of $1.8 trillion. That’s a 36% rise above the pre-pandemic spending of $4.4 trillion in 2019. By 2031, the Biden plan sees spending of $8.1 trillion, while annual deficits will remain above $1.3 trillion every year for all 10 years.
That translates into a massive, unsustainable increase in publicly held federal debt, from an estimated $22.6 trillion this year to just under $43 trillion in 2031. For comparison, it took the U.S. more than 210 years to reach $5 trillion in total federal debt. In the 22 years since then, we’ve added 3.6 times that amount.
Put still another way, our debt will go from 108% of our total GDP to over 130%, a level most economists see as fiscally dangerous, even for a country as well-off as the U.S.
“In just a little over 100 days in the White House Biden has won the mantle as the most fiscally reckless president in American history,” as our friends at The Committee to Unleash Properity put it. “He’s making Barack Obama look like a piker. If his red ink schemes pass Congress, he will have added more to the national debt than the previous five presidents combined.”
This is unsustainable – and inflationary. And the GOP isn’t helping matters any:
That the Republicans can now offer a “compromise” infrastructure bill close to $1 trillion, one of the largest spending bills in American history, and still have both the media and their Democratic Party allies call it “small” and “flimsy,” shows just how low we’ve sunk, fiscally speaking.
Yeah, we’re probably hosed. It’s hard to see a way back from the fiscal cliff; our front wheels are already over the edge and the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration is stomping on the gas.
There are only two ways out of this mess. We can grow our way out of it – unlikely, as both parties now seem to have embraced growing government rather than growing the private-sector economy – or we can inflate our way out of it, which hasn’t worked out so well, historically.
It seems to be a rule of history that great nations rarely are destroyed solely by outside forces; the wrecking begins from within. It’s just too bad that the current crop of pols seems determined to accelerate the process, just to buy more votes from the economically illiterate.
In the bizarre maze of modern cultural geopolitics, European progressives spend a lot of time rending garments about their history of colonialism, slavery, and exploitation while engaging in it – using financial blockades if former colonies do not comply.
If a small trading partner wants to export food to Europe, it cannot use any science that Europe bans, and European progressives have a level of control over science that American activists only wish they could attain.
There’s one big big problem with that; it cripples small countries. They are already at a disadvantage that science can fix. Europe prevents them from using it.
Well, of course. Then thinking of Africa, it’s common for Westerners to think of tropical jungles, dry savannas or deserts, but Africa is a huge damn place, and contains a lot of excellent farmland. But African farmers are effectively locked out of the world markets by this and other stupid policies.
For those not lucky enough to be born in Europe, science is the great equalizer. It can help land prone to drought or previously only suitable for grazing grow enough to feed people, and even grow enough to export it. Unless European activists use logic like ‘science we paid to get banned in Europe is still used in other countries and it should not be imported here.'(1)
That’s 150 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all African countries combined – lost. The tangible losses due to food being choked out are obvious; things like corn, maize, cassava, and mango. The real killer in productivity is labor. With unchecked invasive species that aren’t allowed to be killed by chemicals, laborers must do it by hand.
The one thing not mentioned in this article: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Speaking as a biologist: Every food crop grown by humans today is genetically modified; only the techniques have changed. And already, today, in Africa and Asia, modern GMO crops like insect-resistant cotton and insect-resistant and drought-tolerant corn and rice are changing the way Africa and Asian farmers produce. But ignorant activists in the EU and North America still work tirelessly to shut these crops out of world markets, and in so doing condemn these nations to permanent Third World status.
For a nation’s economy to develop into modernity, the first thing that must happen is for modern agricultural technology to greatly reduce the portion of each person’s resources required for food. This happened in the U.S. and Europe a century ago, and now well-meaning but stupid policies are preventing it from happening elsewhere. Another major step is entry into global markets, and idiots in Europe are now preventing that as well.
It’s funny. I thought we were supposed to ‘follow the science,’ but in this case as in many others, that’s clearly not the case.
This second week of May is finally seeing off most of the winter’s accumulation of snow here in the Great Land. Robins have returned, the birches and alders are greening up, and every afternoon sees more and more of our yard exposed. In a few more weeks, wildflowers will be blooming.
Of course, that means spring clean-up. It’s a little more work this year than will probably be the case most years, as the previous owners left us some stuff that, due to the midwinter sale, they were unable to clean up, although due to that they have kindly offered to help. But suffice it to say the burn barrel will be seeing some extensive service the next couple of weekends.
The good news is that we’ll have ample firewood for the coming winter, as the unusually heavy snow last winter broke off a couple of trees on the back of the property, so with those, some alders taken down by the power company, and what was left from last winter, we’ll be well-stocked.
Newsweek finds an acorn. And PJMedia’s Bryan Preston weighs in: Wokism rejects character and life’s complexities and subtleties. It places humans in boxes and categories based entirely on their race, not the content of their character or the actions they take. It rejects even the possibility of redemption. Wokism doesn’t allow for an individual’s character to matter at all. It’s segregationist, not unifying. Ten. Ring.
Scotland to vote for independence. Well, that could be interesting. If the English decide to use force to hold Scotland in line, they should pick someplace suitable to fight it out – say, Culloden Moor. I think the Scots would like some payback for that one.
Folks who have read these virtual pages for any time at all know that Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. are both fond of the Land of the Rising Sun, of the land, the people, the culture, the food, the drink, and everything else. Recently one of our kids, also a Japanophile, sent us this; I’m not entirely what it’s a tutorial of, other than being Japanese, adorable, and good at producing synced front and back videos. This is NiziU, with Make You Happy. Enjoy.
A quick search through all English-language news outlets in the ProQuest database for the ten-year period from 2011-21 shows that 20,915 articles discussed China’s GDP, whereas only 1,163 mentioned its GDP per capita. The difference was proportionally even larger among the eight largest and most elite papers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, where 5,963 articles referred to Chinese GDP and only 305 discussed the per capita measure.
In 2019, China’s GDP (measured at market exchange rates) of $14 trillion was the world’s second largest, after that of the United States ($21 trillion), with Japan ($5 trillion) in third place. Aggregate GDP reflects the total resources – including the tax base – available to a government. This is helpful for thinking about the size of China’s public investments, such as in its space program or military capacity. But it has much less bearing on Chinese people’s everyday lives.
Most economists therefore care more about China’s per capita GDP, or income per person, than the aggregate measure. And the key takeaway here is that China remains a poor country, despite its phenomenal headline GDP growth over the past four decades.
China’s per capita GDP in 2019 was $8,242, placing the country between Montenegro ($8,591) and Botswana ($8,093). Its per capita GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms – with income adjusted to take account of the cost of living – was $16,804. This is below the global average of $17,811 and puts China 86th in the world, between Suriname ($17,256) and Bosnia and Herzegovina ($16,289). In contrast, GDP per capita in PPP terms in the US and the European Union is $65,298 and $47,828, respectively.
To understand the extent of poverty in China, we also need to consider the degree of inequality across its large population. China’s current level of income inequality (measured by the Gini coefficient) is similar to that found in the US and India. Given that 1.4 billion people live in China, the country’s inequality implies that there are still hundreds of millions of impoverished Chinese.
Normally I don’t give much of a crap about “income inequality,” because in a free-market economy, it’s not only an inevitable aspect of economic activity, but also irrelevant if income mobility is considered; in market economies, most folks increase income as they grow in skill and experience. But not in a command economy like China; the inequality there is due to a number of connected, mostly urban cohorts having an “in” with the government, while most of the rural population live out their entire lives at a level that hasn’t changed much since the nineteenth century.
China has been doing a fair amount of saber-rattling lately. They are looking with envious eyes across the Formosa Strait at Taiwan, still maintaining an iron grip on Tibet, and making India a bit nervous. Their government has been extending “loans” to third world nations all over, especially in Africa, and in so doing (they hope) gaining a fair amount of influence over those resource-rich but poorly governed places. And this is about resources; it’s always about resources. China has resources, but in the eyes of their government, they’ll need more to lift a wider range of their population out of the bringing poverty that has been the lot of most Chinese for thousands of years.
Of course, they could achieve this a lot more quickly by dumping the CCP and adopting a free market, capitalist system. But governments, once they have control, never surrender it. They have to be forced to do so.
That’s a lesson that should be well-taken a little closer to home.
Americans took out $1.7 trillion in government loans for college tuition.
Now, some don’t want to pay it back.
President Joe Biden says they shouldn’t have to. He wants to cancel at least $10,000 and maybe $50,000 of every student’s debt.
“They’re in real trouble,” says Biden in my latest video, “having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent.”
But wait: Shouldn’t they have given some thought to debt payments when they signed up for overpriced colleges? When they majored in subjects like photography or women’s studies, unlikely to lead to good jobs? When they took six years to graduate (a third don’t graduate even after six years).
Shouldn’t politicians also acknowledge that it’s taxpayer loans that let bloated colleges keep increasing tuition at twice the rate of inflation?
But they don’t.
“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe points out that students’ demand for loan forgiveness is “kind of self-involved.”
“I know guys who worked hard to get a construction operation running. Some had to take out a loan on a big old diesel truck. Why would we forgive the cost of a degree but not the cost of a lease payment?”
It’s a good question.
“For some reason,” continues Rowe, “we think a tool that looks like a diploma is somehow more important than that big piece of metal in the driveway that allows the guy to build homes that you … are in.”
Once again, the solution seems obvious. Get government out of the business of education. If a young person wants a student loan, let them go to a lending institution and make their case. Student loans, like any other loan, should be based first and foremost on an estimation of the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. That would mean a problem, certainly, for the kid that shows up at the bank with a college application and announces their intent to pursue a degree in Underwater Gender Dog-Polishing, but it’s high time the university system stopped offering bullshit degrees anyway, and this would take care of that at a stroke.
Want to level the playing field? That’s the term the Left uses, right? Fine, let’s level the damn playing field, and stop this horseshit idea that every kid needs to go to college. Many shouldn’t, and many would be better off if they didn’t. And the various trades offer stable and lucrative opportunities.
President Biden(‘s handlers) have released the draft of a “climate plan,” a feature of which is a limit on how much red meat we citizenssubjects serfs will be allowed to eat. To wit:
Americans may have to cut their red meat consumption by a whopping 90 percent and cut their consumption of other animal based foods in half.
Gradually making those changes by 2030 could see diet-related greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 50 percent, according to a study by Michigan University’s Center for Sustainable Systems.
To do that, it would require Americans to only consume about four pounds of red meat per year, or 0.18 ounces per day.
It equates to consuming roughly one average sized burger per month.
There are apparently requirements for electric vehicles, and so forth. I’d sure like to see someone explain how an electric vehicle will work here in our rural Alaska home, but let’s leave that for another time, because the deprivation of cheeseburgers is a damnably serious issue. And my reply to President Biden(‘s handlers) on that score is simple: They can fuck right off. You can have my delicious cheeseburgers when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. In fact, I think I will start eating more red meat now, just out of defiance.
Just this month, the governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, a Republican, attracted attention when he announced, “If you or anyone in your household identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC), including anyone with Abenaki or other First Nations heritage, all household members who are 16 years or older can sign up to get a vaccine!”
A Reason article notes that in December 2020, while Republican Donald Trump was still president, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would prioritize Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian veterans in vaccine distribution. Reason cites the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson as describing these schemes as unconstitutional, a violation of the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment.
Yet vaccine line-leapfrogging may be just a warmup act for a longer-term issue to ponder as this year’s annual Internal Revenue Service tax-filing deadline (extended to May 17 for individuals) approaches.
“Prediction: By tax year 2024, Americans will be asked to indicate their race on the Form 1040,” tweeted Scott Greenberg, a former analyst at the Tax Foundation who now writes about tax policy in a Substack newsletter called “No Withholding.”
Greenberg was reacting to a tax-policy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, who had flagged the news that the Biden administration had put the Treasury department’s top tax-policy official on an “equitable data working group.”
Do I need to point out the fundamental racism behind all of these ideas?
Never mind Phil Scott (Stupid Ass – VT)’s idiot idea to prioritze vaccines by melanin content. But the tax idea, a back-door way to get reparations for a historical incident that affects nobody alive today, that’s just horribly stupid.
Bear in mind that the very idea flies in the face of the Fourteenth Amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Equal protection under the law. That means everyone is the same in the eyes of the law; that means that certain preferred groups don’t get prioritized for vaccines, or get special tax breaks, or anything else, especially not when that priority is based on any ill-defined, nebulous historical unfairness that no person alive today has experienced.
But wait! There’s more! The purpose of the tax code should be – it isn’t, not anymore, but it should be – to raise revenue for essential government functions. Not to address perceived historical unfairness, nor to reward or punish certain behaviors. Those things also fall afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment.
We’ve come a long ways, though, since the Constitution meant anything to the political class.