Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five Who Is John Galt Friday

This is now a few weeks old, but I just stumbled over it and found it interesting; it seems a lot of the folks who are leaving the workplace are the ones who actually make things work.  And the message, although not stated in this article?  “This is John Galt Speaking.”  Excerpt:

The Great Resignation is not just a story of economic policy incentives or Marxist analysis, or even exasperation with rude and difficult customers. It’s not a matter of attitude adjustment, as if Americans were adopting the Chinese practice of tang ping—”lying down,” the new trend of young people giving up trying to achieve or accomplish anything. Quietist philosophy—at least when it comes to professional occupation—is foreign to the American culture of liberty and self-determination.

Solving the mystery of the Great Resignation phenomenon is not difficult. We must pay attention to who is resigning—what kind of workers—and put ourselves in their shoes.

The “laptop class,” John Tierney’s term for college-educated workers whose workday is largely computerized, is not resigning. Graphic designers, software developers, and the assorted cohort of spreadsheet surfers and keyboard warriors have not been the primary driver of unemployment during or after the pandemic. Most companies and employees adapted to remote work, a development that was long overdue given the technology available. Now, the only office employers struggling to fill cubicles are those who still think cubicles are the future.

The workers resigning are those most brutally impacted by policy over the last year and a half. They wear uniforms, or at least boots, and most of their customers are strangers: police officers, airline pilots, healthcare workers, builders, repairmen. We used to call them “frontline heroes” and “essential employees”—now we oppress them with litanies of COVID mandates in their workplace. And don’t forget about the workers in retail and restaurants who have always lived just above the poverty line. At a time of unprecedented economic instability, they don’t see much difference between their paltry wage and welfare, with poverty even being preferable to an exploitative or abusive workplace.

Here’s a primary cause, if not the root cause:

We’ve all walked into a restaurant or grocery store where masks are not required for customers, but “corporate office” wants all employees to wear them. We’ve all had a friend or relative whose job has been threatened by public or private-sector vaccine mandates. We’ve watched the disunity over COVID restrictions split churches and tear school districts apart—so why should we be surprised it demotivates workers? Working in these conditions comes at a price—and for blue-collar jobs especially, that price is not justified by the salary. Workers in these jobs value job security, schedule regularity, and constancy of tasks—a job to be proud of, but not to prioritize over values, free time, or personal dignity.

Or, in the words of John Galt:

I am speaking to those who desire to live and to recapture the honor of their soul. Now that you know the truth about your world stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction to give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support.

That seems to be what lots of blue-collar (and some white-collar) folks are doing.  Lots of emergency responders, too. And, honestly, why not?  In an environment where we are demonized for being successful, for working hard and taking pride in our work, for not giving in to hypocritical mandates by virtue-signalling bosses?

The linked article concludes:

The American entrepreneur of the future must rally the workers being squeezed by these coercive policies. Their productivity and ingenuity—currently subdued by short-sighted agendas—may be America’s greatest untapped resource.

In other words, let the looter’s state collapse, and build something new, something productive, in the wreckage.  Ayn Rand, while far from the best fiction writer in history, may yet prove to be one of the most prescient.

Rule Five Book Review Friday

Recently I had a read through J.N. Welch’s work An American Divorce: A Profound Protest Against The Politics Of Guilt And Fascism.  Thumbnail:  I wasn’t terribly impressed.  I was expecting some kind of discussion as to an actual, peaceful (more or less) dissolution of the United States, but what I got was… something else.  I nevertheless recommend anyone interested read this for yourself, rather than taking my word for it.  Selected excerpts, with my comments, follow.

One of my primary concerns with this work is that Mr. Welch seems to borrow a lot from the Left to try to hold the Republic together – and not just the moderate Left, assuming there still is such a thing, but from no less than Liawatha Warren; from a discussion of student debt on pages 122-123:

I have also been thinking about Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax.”  Her 2020 campaign plan was to fund Medicare-for-all by levying a tax on accumulated wealth beyond fifty million dollars.  The tax would have to be paid every year – it would not have been a one-time deal.  Warren’s proposal would have resulted in an incredible wealth transfer of over 300 billion dollars every year forward.

No, it wouldn’t have.  Setting aside for a moment that Warren’s proposal is blatantly, laughably unconstitutional – the tax would have had little effect other than to drive capital offshore.  Anyone with fifty million in accumulated wealth has more than ample resources to move that wealth into havens where the tax won’t apply.  This is a stupid idea no matter how you slice it – and unconstitutional, to boot.  Welch continues:

We’ll get back to health care in a moment, but what about the idea of taxing billionaires a one-time, after-tax hit that wipes out the student debt bubble?  I acknowledge this type of talk sounds like it is coming from a Bernie Sanders campaign rally.  But the students didn’t create the college debt problem – the adults did.  The government should never have involved themselves in student loans in the first place.  The result of politicians moving into the loan business was a big economic bubble and a diluted piece of paper.

Agree with the last two sentences.  But that’s all.  The one-time tax is still in violation of the taxing requirements in the Constitution, would still serve only to drive capital off-shore, and is a stupid, stupid idea.  And no, I don’t agree that the “students didn’t create the college debt problem.”  These “students” are adults, they signed contracts, and they should be held to those contracts that they signed of their own free will – or else our entire body of contract law means precisely jack shit.

Welch goes on to propose the theory of ‘retrenchment,’ following President Trump’s exit from the White House:

A retrenchment would mean traditional voters would formally walk away from the establishment GOP.  And they would return after they repurposed themselves into a unified movement that has the majority power, and conviction, to take the fight directly to their cancel culture foes.

We would allow the Democrats to temporarily run the national government while we worked underground to build a new and lasting movement.  This type of declaration would represent and astounding moment in American politics.  It would be the first time in the US, the people, and not the elites, completely overhauled a political party from the ground up.

Under such a retrenchment plan, building a new GOP would be prioritized over stopping progressive overreach in D.C.

There’s so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll settle for this:  The idea of just passively allowing the current crop of Democrats to “temporarily run the national government” is just plain stupid.  We’ve already seen the lengths they are willing to go to to grab and keep power; only their razor-thin Congressional margins have kept them from outlandish acts like Puerto Rico and D.C. statehood, Imperial takeover of elections and stacking the Supreme Court.  If the GOP walked away and passively let them take over, they would arrange it so they never lost power again – and if you doubt this, take a look at California.

I read An American Divorce because I was expecting an in-depth discussion of how this might be achieved and what form it would take.  Instead I found a discussion of borrowing Leftist ideas to appease voters and surrendering control of the Imperial City to a ruthless cabal who would never surrender that control.

But by all means, read this work for yourself, and come to your own conclusions.  My opinions are, after all, worth every penny you pay for them!

 

Rule Five Linguistics Friday

I’ve always found languages interesting, although I have very little talent or ability to easily pick up new ones.  I can struggle along in German if people speak slowly, and I know a few key phrases in Japanese, Spanish and French.  But a recent study has found a possible origin for what are known as the “Transeuropean languages.”  Excerpt:

In contrast to previously proposed homelands, which range from the Altai6,7,8 to the Yellow River22 to the Greater Khingan Mountains23 to the Amur basin24, we find support for a Transeurasian origin in the West Liao River region in the Early Neolithic. After a primary break-up of the family in the Neolithic, further dispersals took place in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. The ancestor of the Mongolic languages expanded northwards to the Mongolian Plateau, Proto-Turkic moved westwards over the eastern steppe and the other branches moved eastwards: Proto-Tungusic to the Amur–Ussuri–Khanka region, Proto-Koreanic to the Korean Peninsula and Proto-Japonic over Korea to the Japanese islands (Fig. 1b).

Through a qualitative analysis in which we examined agropastoral words that were revealed in the reconstructed vocabulary of the proto-languages (Supplementary Data 5), we further identified items that are culturally diagnostic for ancestral speech communities in a particular region at a particular time. Common ancestral languages that separated in the Neolithic, such as Proto-Transeurasian, Proto-Altaic, Proto-Mongolo-Tungusic and Proto-Japano-Koreanic, reflect a small core of inherited words that relate to cultivation (‘field’, ‘sow’, ‘plant’, ‘grow’, ‘cultivate’, ‘spade’); millets but not rice or other crops (‘millet seed’, ‘millet gruel’, ‘barnyard millet’); food production and preservation (‘ferment’, ‘grind’, ‘crush to pulp’, ‘brew’); wild foods suggestive of sedentism (‘walnut’, ‘acorn’, ‘chestnut’); textile production (‘sew’, ‘weave cloth’, ‘weave with a loom’, ‘spin’, ‘cut cloth’, ‘ramie’, ‘hemp’); and pigs and dogs as the only domesticated animals.

By contrast, individual subfamilies that separated in the Bronze Age, such as Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Koreanic and Japonic, inserted new subsistence terms that relate to the cultivation of rice, wheat and barley; dairying; domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep and horses; farming or kitchen tools; and textiles such as silk (Supplementary Data 5). These words are borrowings that result from linguistic interaction between Bronze Age populations speaking various Transeurasian and non-Transeurasian languages.

I know, that’s a little dry.  This is an actual no-shit scientific paper, published in Nature, which still manages to be a reputable journal.

What I find interesting about this is the common origin for a bunch of different languages, from Turkic to Japanese.  Let’s take just two of them in particular:  Korean and Japanese.  These two languages are spoken by two relatively similar peoples who have some bad history, not just in World War II but well before that – and yet now we have not only genetic but also linguistic data linking them through a common ancestry.

Interesting stuff.

English, of course, along with Gaelic, the Scandinavian and Latin languages and a few others are Indo-European languages.  There has been some interesting work done re-creating what the original proto-Indo-European may have sounded like, and also where and when it was spoken.

I wonder if one could go back farther than that?  It’s probably impossible, but wouldn’t it be interesting to hear how the first modern human inhabitants of Ice Age Europe spoke?  Or the ancestral American Indians as they straggled across Beringia?  What did the Neandertal sound like?  Could Homo erectus speak, and if so, what was their language like?

Probably questions we can’t answer and, barring a working time machine, never will.  But it’s fun to ponder all the same.

Rule Five FTC Friday

This is now a couple of weeks old, but I just stumbled across a very interesting look at the new Federal Trade Commission chair.  And it’s a little bizarre.  Excerpt:

Last month Lina Khan, the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission, issued an internal memo setting out her goals for the agency. It is a paper loaded with bureaucratic abstraction. Khan calls on the agency to “harness” a “strategic approach,” “execute on best practices,” “broaden…institutional skillsets,” “prioritize…core operational objectives,” and “apply an integrated approach” that “surface[s] interconnections.”

Underneath the linguistic bunkum, however, are some bold claims about the agency and its place in the world. Khan calls for a “holistic” (read: expansive) approach to antitrust law, one that (somehow) balances the interests of “workers and independent businesses as well as consumers.” She urges staff to operate more like industrial planners—administrators who identify “root causes,” dictate “market structure,” and control “macro effects.” She declares the agency a “body whose work shapes the distribution of power and opportunity across our economy.”

Note that it’s impossible to “dictate market structure” or to “control macro effects.”  This is the language of Marx and Lenin, and central control has failed every time it’s been tried.  This is stupidity on steroids – hardly something new for the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration.

But here’s the onion:

A government agent bent on “shap[ing] the distribution of power” is presumably in want of formidable power herself. Khan has granted herself unilateral authority over antitrust investigations, barred agency staff from speaking in public, and dismissed a respected economist from one of the agency’s most notable cases. She has expanded the agency’s discretion to challenge vertical mergers, its power to attach conditions to merger approvals, and its ability to expedite (and politicize) the making of rules governing trade practices. In an especially high-handed move, the agency has on Khan’s watch announced that instead of approving certain mergers, it will simply tell the parties that they may merge “at their own risk,” the agency reserving the right to unwind deals later. Make no mistake, merger reviews still occur; but now, they are reportedly being used to interrogate firms about social justice and ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) matters unrelated to competition. If you’re still not impressed, consider that all of this occurred in the new chair’s first three months in office.

Lina Khan is not opposed to consolidated power, it seems, so much as she is opposed to consolidated power not wielded by Lina Khan. She doesn’t necessarily disagree. In a recent interview, Khan referred to the “existential stakes of underreaching,” as chair. “When identifying the top ten threats” to the agency, she said, going too far is “not on the list.”

In other words, Lina Khan is proposing to engage in an unprecedented power grab, one that will give her an illegal and unconstitutional control over the nation’s economy.

I wish I could say that this was something new, but it’s not.

This, True Believers, is lawmaking by the Executive branch, and it’s illegal as hell – not to mention disastrous for the nation’s economy, and utterly destructive to the very idea of free trade.  Not only is Lina Khan proposing an unconstitutional power grab, she has a dagger aimed at the heart of what made America what it is – free trade and commerce.

Here’s the possible bright spot:  The Biden(‘s handlers) Administration has indulged in one stupid over-reach after another since January past.  Judging from their response to last week’s elections, they are undeterred and will continue to do so.  That’s hopeful; the GOP is, after all, driving us off the same fiscal cliff, but at least they’re doing it a little more slowly.