Dick Smith has come into his own

Dick Smith was undoubtedly the most popular man in Australia.  As a successful businessman he was known for his sense of humor and the comic stunts he did to publicise his electronics business. From Wikipedia:  

"Smith has also attempted a number of well-publicised practical jokes, including the April Fool's Day attempt to tow a purported iceberg from Antarctica into Sydney Harbour in 1978, a new source of fresh water. Smith appeared in several TV ads on a pogo stick, promoting his business. In the early 1980s, Dick Smith served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. The bus, driven by Hans Tholstrup, was a humorous poke at Evel Knievel, who had visited Australia in 1979 and jumped his motorcycle over buses. Dick Smith's presence on the bus was a last-minute decision by himself." 

Additionally, he was often ready with a cheque for people in the news who had fallen on hard times.  He was a genuine philanthropist -- and still is.  When he speaks publicly it is news.

When a few years ago he sold his business to Woolworths for a large sum, his focus changed somewhat.  He had always been a keen patriot -- something else that tended to endear him -- and he now set about doing something about it.  Like Trump, he deplored the  way Australian businesses were being shut down by cheap inports from China and elsewhere.  

Unlike Trump, he can't impose tariffs but he could try to persuade people to "Buy Australian".  And he did.  And to encourage that process, he set up a retail business that exclusively stocked Australian products.  It had some success but struggled.  Dick turned his business brain to the project, however, and came up with various ways of making sales.

Dick advertises his new sandwich spread on his hat

One of his inspirations was to sell "hampers" of Australian-made food products -- jams, sauces etc.  The hampers included quite a lot of different products and came in a nice wooden box with a latch.  I bought one to give to Jenny on her birthday a few years back.  It cost me a bit but it was worth it to see Jenny's glee in getting it.

Eventually, however, most of the business faded away, though I see that Dick has persuaded Woolworths to stock a few of the products he sponsors.  They are dearer than competing lines but the Dick Smith name on them is prestgious and generates some sales.  I suspect that Woolworths stocks them mainly as good PR.

So when Dick saw the problems Australia was having with its high level of imigration, Dick spoke out -- pleading for a pause while Australia built the new roads and houses that had become necessary.  He was ignored.  Some Leftists even called him a racist.  

But he was proved right.  In the absence of much new housing, the price of existing housing stormed up to levels similar to London and Manhattan.  It was a disaster for young Australian couples wanting to get into their own first homes.

Do Dick lost a lot of love over his opposition to high levels of immigration.  For the first time, some people were saying bad things about him.  He was of course greatly hurt to be condemned for trying to help his beloved country to get off an unsustainable path.

Quite recently, however, the excreta has hit the rotating device and former PM Tony Abbott made a speech or two along the same lines that Dick had taken.  He stressed the housing shortage, the traffic congestion and the overstretched public hospitals that the immigration surge has brought about.  The authorities have actually been very diligent in buiding new roads, traffic tunnels and bridges but finding room for such things in already crowded cities was not easy so the traffic jams have lengthened.

And guess what?  Mr Abbott was called an racist too.  But that seems to have been the last hurrah from the abusive Left.  Even the Leftist ABC recently aired a big program pointing out the difficulties that immigration has caused.  And there have been other voices raised that no longer get condemned as racist.  

So Dick has been exonerated.  His warnings are now widely accepted as wise and in need of action.  We may not see much action immediately but there is now a pretty good consensus over the need for action.  


What the Alt-Right Gets Wrong About Jews

I have reproduced below what I see as a very good reply to  antisemitic thought.  In looking at why Jews tend so strongly Left, however, the authors manage only the most conventional explanation -- that the Jewish history of persecution is the key.  It has made modern-day Jews paranoid about ideas associated with past persecutors. And they associate conservative ideas as the ones that are most reminiscent of the ideas held by past persecutors.

But that is utter nonsense.  It was Protestant and ultra conservative Prussia (in North-Eastern Germany) that legislated to "emancipate" the Jews on March 11, 1812, and the tolerance of Jews in Prussia is why there were so many Jews prospering in pre-Hitler Germany, and why indeed many Ashkenazi surnames are to this day German ones.

And the all-time pinnacle of antisemitic policy, Nazism, was a socialist creed, as almost any reading of Nazi documents will reveal.

So the record of tolerance for the Jews was ultra-conservative Prussia and the record of intolerance for the Jews was the socialist Hitler!  What in that would make Jews attracted to socialism?

It is true that Soviet disinformation has portrayed Nazism as Rightist but I think Jews should be generally well informed enough to see through that.  Jews have strong reasons to want to understand Nazism and even a cursory study of it will inform them where Nazism really lay on the political spectrum.

And discrimination against Jews in the Western world today is a fleeting thing so is a poor explanation for a huge and continuing political bias.

So I think the Jewish attraction to Leftism requires a better explanation than a memory of persecution.

I have no doubt that a memory of an adverse past can be retained for a long time.  In Ulster they still sing about the Battle of the Boyne of 1690 and the Scots still haven't got over Edward Longshanks in the 13th century -- so political memories can last a long time.  What I ask is WHY some memories persist, what need does retaining such memories serve? And I see no reason why fear of conservatives and Christians persists among Jews.

In Ulster each side sees the other as a dangerous rival and in the case of Scottish attitudes towards the English the matter is all too clear if rarely expressed:  The English find the Scots amusing.  And there is nothing more enraging than that.  But what problem to Jews are American Christians and conservatives today? American Christians and conservatives are in fact the bedrock upon which American support for Israel is based. Rationally, Jews should vote for conservatives.  Instead they voted two thirds for Obama, who was no friend of Israel.  It took a strong conservative to give official recognition to Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But, despite all that, Jewish American support for the Donks remains strong.  Why?

I think there is better explanation for Jewish Leftism, one founded firmly in the present and recent past. It flows directly from the known high average IQ of Jews.  Because of the huge potency of IQ in meeting life's challenges, Jews have risen to the top of most niches in society.  They are an elite people.

And what do we know about the elites? Superior attitudes.  Because they have done well they tend to think that they know it all and are in a far better position to guide society than are the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory -- as Bill Buckley put it.  And the Democrat allegiance of America's present elites has been thrown into sharp focus by the ascendancy of Donald Trump.

So I think Jews are Leftist because elites generally are Leftists.  They have the attitudes of their class.  Marx would understand. That seems to me to be a simple and straightforward explanation and as such has the benefit of Occam's razor.  I have written at some length previously on why elites tend Left, which see.

written by Jonathan Anomaly and Nathan Cofnas

For many on the alt-right, every grievance is, at root, about Jews. Andrew Anglin, host of the most popular alt-right/neo-Nazi website, explains: “the only thing in our movement that really matters [is] anti-Semitism.” If only the Jews were gone, he argues, the white race, freed from bondage, would immediately overcome all of its problems. Where does this attitude come from?

Jews are a conspicuous people, small in number but large in footprint. As Mark Twain wrote in 1899:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race….Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk….What is the secret of his immortality?

For many people throughout history, the answer to Twain’s question was simple: Jews conspire among themselves to dominate and disadvantage gentiles. This answer fell out of fashion, at least in polite society, after World War II. Since the 1990s, however, the conspiratorial account of Jewish prominence has taken on a new, more meretricious form in the work of (now retired) California State University, Long Beach psychologist Kevin MacDonald, known affectionately among alt-righters as “KMac.” According to Richard Spencer, the inventor of the term “alt-right” and unofficial leader of the movement: “There is no man on the planet who has done more for the understanding of the pole around which the world revolves than Kevin MacDonald.” And: “KMac…may be the most essential man in our movement in terms of thought leader[ship].” To understand the alt-right’s anti-Semitism, we must understand MacDonald’s ideas, particularly as outlined in his most influential book, The Culture of Critique.

According to MacDonald, Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy.” Jews possess both genetic and cultural adaptations (including, on the genetic side, high IQ and ethnocentrism) that allow them to develop successful intellectual movements that undermine gentile society and promote their own group continuity. “Jewish intellectual movements,” MacDonald argues, are led by charismatic figures analogous to rabbis. They attack white nationalism while promoting Jewish nationalism, and use pseudoscience to “pathologize” anti-Semitism, which in reality is a justified response to “Jewish aggression.” According to MacDonald, Jewish intellectual movements include Freudianism, Frankfurt School critical theory, and multiculturalism. These movements, MacDonald claims, taught white gentiles to reject ethnocentrism and accept high levels of nonwhite immigration to their countries while tolerating Jewish ethnocentrism and racially restrictive immigration policies in Israel.

MacDonald’s theory and the anti-Semitism of many on the alt-right are largely reactions to the perceived liberalism of Jews. One of us (Cofnas) has just published an academic paper that examines MacDonald’s most influential book, The Culture of Critique, and finds that it is chock full of misrepresented sources, cherry-picked facts, and egregious distortions of history. MacDonald and the alt-righters are, nevertheless, correct that many liberal leaders over the last hundred years have been Jewish. We’d like to offer an explanation for this phenomenon, as well as determine whether Jewish liberalism is the cause or the result of anti-Semitism.

People who learned everything they know about history from MacDonald’s books may be under the impression that traditional gentile society was marked by “hierarchic harmony” (his term) before Jews began their intellectual assault after the Enlightenment. This is a gross distortion of history. Gentile radicals have been around for centuries, doing exactly what MacDonald thinks is characteristic of Jews. Consider Edmund Burke’s comments on European (gentile) radicals at the time of the French Revolution:

Nor is it in these clubs alone that the public measures are deformed into monsters. They undergo a previous distortion in academies, intended as so many seminaries for these clubs, which are set up in all the places of public resort. In these meetings of all sorts every counsel, in proportion as it is daring and violent and perfidious, is taken for the mark of superior genius. Humanity and compassion are ridiculed as the fruits of superstition and ignorance. Tenderness to individuals is considered as treason to the public.

The French Revolution itself was an entirely successful movement to overturn whatever “hierarchic harmony” had existed in France, and it was led by gentiles and inspired by gentile philosophers. (Many of the gentile philosophers who laid the groundwork for the Revolution, such as Voltaire, were committed anti-Semites.) Radical French thinkers like Rousseau are completely ignored by MacDonald.

MacDonald analyzes the Frankfurt School in great detail and argues that the ideology of the school was constructed to advance Jewish interests by promoting nonwhite immigration and in general undermining white culture. (MacDonald does not mention that, incidentally, many of the Frankfurt School’s fiercest critics were Jews, like Karl Popper, who mocked their work as pseudoscience.) But French existentialism was a movement that was analogous to the Frankfurt School in every important respect…except that the leaders—Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus—were white gentiles.

Sartre was a leading critic of France and America, and strongly supported nonwhite immigrants in France. The French existentialists produced radical critiques of traditional gentile society and, like the Frankfurt School, advanced pseudoscientific ideas (making demonstrably false claims about human nature and refusing to subject these claims to any test).

It is easy to find gentiles independently developing ideas virtually identical to those promoted by “Jewish intellectual movements.” MacDonald quotes Foucault’s statement: “If I had known about the Frankfurt School in time, I would have been saved a great deal of work. I would not have said a certain amount of nonsense and would not have taken so many false trails trying not to get lost, when the Frankfurt School had already cleared the way.” For MacDonald, this shows how influential the Jewish-dominated Frankfurt School was. But it also reflects the fact that, while the gentile Foucault was influenced by the Frankfurt School, he was independently thinking along the same tracks.

Still, in the past hundred years or so Jews have clearly been overrepresented among the leaders of liberal movements. They were overrepresented among communist leaders and revolutionaries, among prominent immigration advocates, and so on. Even if liberalism is not the Jewish invention that MacDonald claims it is, we still should explain why Jews appear to be disproportionately attracted to it. And is anti-Semitism a response to Jewish liberalism?—or could it be the other way around?

IQ, Persecution, and Political Identity

Mark Twain’s explanation for Jewish intellectual prominence was that “Jews have the best average brain of any people in the world.” Though they make up far less than one percent of the world’s population, Jews have comprised more than half of all world chess champions, about a quarter of Fields medalists in mathematics, and more than a fifth of all Nobel Prize winners. Social scientists have found that Ashkenazi Jews score, on average, around 110-112 on IQ tests (compared to a mean of 100).

Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending argue that high Ashkenazi IQ evolved during the Middle Ages in Europe due to gene-culture co-evolution. Prohibited from entering many blue-collar occupations like farming, Jews turned to finance, particularly money lending, to survive. Records from around the year 1270, for example, report that almost 80 percent of adult male Jews in Roussillon (what is today southern France) made their living as money lenders. Finance requires a relatively high level of verbal and mathematical intelligence, and the hypothesis is that Jews who could not cut it in business tended to drop out of the community or starve.

On Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending’s thesis, these restrictive conditions selected for verbal and mathematical intelligence, not for the ability to engage in the sort of conspiracy against gentiles described by MacDonald. If Cochran et al. are right, we would expect Jews to be overrepresented in science and in the leadership of political movements, as these are both cognitively demanding activities. There is no particular reason to expect Jews to be overrepresented only in liberal movements.

Indeed, MacDonald and other anti-Semites largely ignore the fact that Jews have been conspicuously overrepresented among the leadership of all sorts of right-wing movements: anti-communists like Herman Kahn, John von Neumann, and Edward Teller; libertarians like Milton and David Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, Robert Nozick, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and Israel Kirzner; traditional conservatives like Allan Bloom, David Horowitz, and Richard Posner; and Donald Trump’s senior policy advisor and perhaps the most influential anti-immigration activist in the United States, Stephen Miller.

But MacDonald seems to be right that Jews were disproportionately involved in radical leftist political movements in the twentieth century, and in the US Jews tend to vote Democrat. We think this can be explained by the high average IQ of Jews in combination with their being a persecuted minority, which has tended to push them toward political views that emphasize social toleration and the free movement of people. In other words, MacDonald reverses the correct order of causation: rather than Jews inviting persecution by advocating cosmopolitan policies that thwart the interests of Europeans, Jews advocated cosmopolitanism as a predictable response to persecution.

Persecution of Jews began for religious reasons in the Middle Ages and morphed into political persecution as Jews began to climb the social ladder, and political leaders saw them as a useful out-group to use as a scapegoat for people’s economic and social woes. For example, when Italian traders inadvertently brought the Black Plague from Asia to Europe, thousands of Jews were murdered in retaliation when Christian peasants decided that the Jews had deliberately infected them.

George Orwell understood the psychological benefits of directing disdain toward an out-group in order to foster social cohesion among an in-group. In his great novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he gives the character who would receive “two minutes of hate” every day among the proletarians a Jewish name: Goldstein. It is obvious why. Orwell’s implication was that the Soviet Union and other regimes were capitalizing on a human need to have some group to hate in order to foster loyalty and obedience to the leader of the in-group.

There is some evidence in political psychology for a correlation between high IQ and liberal political beliefs. So we might suspect that Ashkenazi Jews, with the highest average IQ in the world, would lean liberal. Interestingly, though, IQ correlates positively with classical liberalism, which emphasizes both social and economic liberty. This seems to be because those with higher intelligence tend to exhibit personality traits like openness to experience and tolerance for different ways of living. But those with higher IQ are more likely to support free-market economic policies (“liberalism” in the old sense of the word). Intelligence is required to understand how trade can be a positive sum game, and how order can emerge from individuals freely interacting with one another.

There are also obvious historical reasons why Jews would tend to gravitate toward liberal and cosmopolitan political philosophies that emphasize the protection of minority rights. In the early twentieth century, socialists rejected natural human hierarchies and urged persecuted minorities to overthrow their oppressors. To many Jews, socialism meant doing away with the legal and social barriers they had faced for more than a millennium. While socialist societies didn’t live up to their promises in practice, the values they espoused were easy for Jews to identify with. The Holocaust reinforced the feeling among Jews that nationalistic movements were dangerous, and that salvation lay in liberal cosmopolitanism.

Can MacDonald Save His Theory?

Popper’s famous criterion to distinguish science from non-science was “falsifiability.” Any legitimate scientific theory, he said, should specify some state of the world which, if it is observed, would make us logically compelled to reject the theory. One of the problems with Popper’s criterion is that there is no such thing as falsification in the strong sense that he envisaged. Any theory can be salvaged in the face of any evidence, though this may require some fanciful theorizing. In practice, we just have to use our judgement to decide which of the competing theories we are considering explains our observations in the most sensible way. As far as MacDonald goes, no single one of the numerous factual errors documented in Cofnas’s paper can be said to “falsify” his theory. Nor can any single example of right-wing Jews or radical gentiles. We just have to use our judgment to decide whether his conspiracy theory is a better explanation of Jewish liberalism than the simpler high-IQ-plus-persecution theory that we advocate.

No amount of evidence can disprove a theory. But as the influential Jewish philosophers of science Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos argued, eventually the number of ad hoc assumptions we have to make in order to sustain a theory in the face of counterexamples becomes so large that the theory shows itself to have no predictive or explanatory value. Maybe MacDonald has an ad hoc explanation for why the most liberal countries in Europe, which in the past few years accepted the largest number of immigrants relative to their population—Sweden and Germany—have a very small number of Jews. Maybe he has another ad hoc explanation for why Jews like Noam Chomsky are the world’s leading critics of Israel. And for why gentiles who were not under the influence of Jews, like Rousseau and Sartre and countless others over the past couple thousand years, have been political radicals. As to whether these ad hoc explanations are convincing, we will have to use our judgment.

We don’t think MacDonald will be able to rescue his hypothesis, built as it is on misrepresented sources and distortions. But for some dishonest alt-right leaders, the literal truth of his ideas is probably not that important. They need an enemy to unify their movement. There is no more convenient a people to play this role than Jews.



Russian to Judgement

A former Russian agent was poisoned in Britain recently and British PM Teresa May is in a high dudgeon over it. She thinks Russia poisoned him.  Her only evidence: He showed evidence of a particular advanced poison in his blood.  On that slim and unproven basis  she has called for more sanctions on Russia

The Western elites seem determined to have another cold war with Russia.  They must have a boogeyman to frighten people with, apparently.  Vladimir Vladimirovich has been remarkably restrained in response to such provocations so far but if it keeps up he might decide that he has nothing to lose by (for instance) taking control of Eastern Ukraine.  

That would be welcomed by the Eastern Ukrainians but would pump Western leaders up to a frenzy of huffing and puffing.  Fortunately, Mr Trump is too practical to do anything foolish about it

The same people who assured you that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s now assure you Russian “novochok” nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil. As with the Iraqi WMD dossier, it is essential to comb the evidence very finely. 

A vital missing word from Theresa May’s statement yesterday was “only”. She did not state that the nerve agent used was manufactured ONLY by Russia. She rather stated this group of nerve agents had been “developed by” Russia. Antibiotics were first developed by a Scotsman, but that is not evidence that all antibiotics are today administered by Scots.

The “novochok” group of nerve agents – a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago – will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel. This Foreign Policy magazine (a very establishment US publication) article on Israel‘s chemical and biological weapon capability is very interesting indeed. I will return to Israel later in this article.

Incidentally, novachok is not a specific substance but a class of new nerve agents. Sources agree they were designed to be persistent, and of an order of magnitude stronger than sarin or VX. That is rather hard to square with the fact that thankfully nobody has died and those possibly in contact just have to wash their clothes.

From Putin’s point of view, to assassinate Skripal now seems to have very little motivation. If the Russians have waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup. The Russians have never killed a swapped spy before. Just as diplomats, British and otherwise, are the most ardent upholders of the principle of diplomatic immunity, so security service personnel everywhere are the least likely to wish to destroy a system which can be a key aspect of their own personal security; quite literally spy swaps are their “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You don’t undermine that system – probably terminally – without very good reason.

It is worth noting that the “wicked” Russians gave Skripal a far lighter jail sentence than an American equivalent would have received. If a member of US Military Intelligence had sold, for cash to the Russians, the names of hundreds of US agents and officers operating abroad, the Americans would at the very least jail the person for life, and I strongly suspect would execute them. Skripal just received a jail sentence of 18 years, which is hard to square with the narrative of implacable vindictiveness against him. If the Russians had wanted to make an example, that was the time.

It is much more probable that the reason for this assassination attempt refers to something recent or current, than to spying twenty years ago. Were I the British police, I would inquire very closely into Orbis Intelligence.

There is no doubt that Skripal was feeding secrets to MI6 at the time that Christopher Steele was an MI6 officer in Moscow, and at the the time that Pablo Miller, another member of Orbis Intelligence, was also an MI6 officer in Russia and directly recruiting agents. It is widely reported on the web and in US media that it was Miller who first recruited Skripal. My own ex-MI6 sources tell me that is not quite true as Skripal was “walk-in”, but that Miller certainly was involved in running Skripal for a while. Sadly Pablo Miller’s LinkedIn profile has recently been deleted, but it is again widely alleged on the web that it showed him as a consultant for Orbis Intelligence and a consultant to the FCO and – wait for it – with an address in Salisbury. If anyone can recover that Linkedin entry do get in touch, though British Government agencies will have been active in the internet scrubbing.

It was of course Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence who produced for the Clinton camp the sensationalist dossier on Trump links with Russia – including the story of Trump paying to be urinated on by Russian prostitutes – that is a key part of the “Russiagate” affair gripping the US political classes. The extraordinary thing about this is that the Orbis dossier is obvious nonsense which anybody with a professional background can completely demolish, as I did here. Steele’s motive was, like Skripal’s in selling his secrets, cash pure and simple. Steele is a charlatan who knocked up a series of allegations that are either wildly improbable, or would need a high level source access he could not possibly get in today’s Russia, or both. He told the Democrats what they wish to hear and his audience – who had and still have no motivation to look at it critically – paid him highly for it.



Must not mention child abuse in Aboriginal families

The usual unbalanced response to the issue is coming from the Leftist Aboriginal industry.  The official policy is to leave abused black children with their families and if that does not work the kid is left with other black families, usually relatives. Where all that has been tried the kid may in rare cases be fostered by a white family.

Adoption is usually considered only as a last resort.  Of the four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children adopted between 2016 and 2017, three went to white families, according to government figures.

The protesters act as if the latest call is to place ALL abused black kids with whites, which is not being proposed at all. The proposal is for the most endangered kids to be placed with white families.  There have been deaths among children whom the authorities have simply shuffled around among black families.

A protester below says: "Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year"  --  as if that exonerates the existing procedures.  Surely it in fact shows that the problem is getting worse and in need of fresh thinking

The real driver behind the protests is of course the strange leftist belief that "All men are equal". Mentioning that child abuse if rife among blacks defies that foolish gospel

[TV program] Sunrise has sparked intense backlash after a commentator suggested Indigenous children should be taken from their families

The comments were made on Tuesday morning as part of the breakast show's 'Hot Topics' segment. Samantha Armytage kicked off the discussion by bringing viewers up to speed on assistant minister for children David Gillespie calling for non-Indigenous families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"It's a no-brainer", Sunrise commentator Prue MacSween supports federal minister David Gillespie's proposal for white families to adopt at-risk Aboriginal children.

"Post-Stolen Generations there's been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families," she said.

The Sunrise co-host then asked controversial commentator Prue MacSween and Brisbane radio host Ben Davis what they thought. MacSween made headlines last year after she said she was "tempted to run over" former ABC host Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

McSween claimed there was a "fabricated PC outlook" among some people who believed it was better to leave Aboriginal children in abusive homes than have them adopted by white families.

"It's just crazy to just even contemplate that people are arguing against this," she said. "Don't worry about the people that would cry and handwring and say this would be another Stolen Generation. Just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of people were taken because it was for their wellbeing... we need to do it again, perhaps."

The comments have been slammed as false and misleading by prominent members of the Indigenous community.

South Sea Islander and Darumbal journalist Amy McQuire said the two minute segment was "packed [with] so many mistruths". "The idea that Aboriginal children are not being placed in white families is a lie," she wrote. "The greater lie is that Aboriginal children are not being taken away and are being kept in dangerous situations for fear of a 'stolen generation'.

"That does not gel with the statistics: Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year since Kevin Rudd gave his apology to the Stolen Generations and promised it would never happen again."

Black Comedy's Nakkiah Lui, meanwhile, has accused Sunrise of "bottom-feeding off people's pain". "If you're talking about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, communities and culture, maybe speak to Aboriginal children, families and adults that have been affected," she wrote. "Not white people who have zero knowledge."



Integration is key to Australia’s successful migrant story

Alan Tudge, below, is broadly right about the high level of integration of immigrants into Australian society. It is a great success story. But he speaks as if ALL migrants integrate well.  Musims and Africans do not -- and the prospects of improvement there seem slim.

He makes such probably correct statements as "There is almost no difference between the unemployment rates of Australia’s migrants and those born here".  That is largely because our largest minority group by far is Han Chinese.  They are great workers and very enterprising.  Look at the picture for Muslims however and you see heavy welfare dependancy

Blurring of significant distinctions is a form of deception so it is regrettable that a Federal government minister has resorted to it.  Tudge does however seem to be drawing heavily on the latest Scanlon report, which is little more than pro imigrant propaganda.  See here for instance. So Tudge should be more wary of his sources

Australian multiculturalism is different to what is termed multiculturalism in other (particularly European) nations because of our strong emphasis on integration.

That means a person who comes here shares our values, engages in the community and has full rights to government services. In exchange, they must obey the law, participate in and uphold democratic principles, and support other Australians. These things are the glue to building trust between all citizens and consequently help foster social cohesion.

With integrated multiculturalism, there is shared responsibility. The existing population must open its arms to newcomers and the newly arrived have responsibilities to do their best to participate fully in our society.

This model of integrated multiculturalism is different to an “assimilationist” model or a “separatist” model. Assimilation is the idea that we must abandon our cultural and religious heritage and all become the same. We don’t expect or want that in Australia. But where there are conflicts in cultural behaviours, Australian law and values must prevail.

On the other hand, a separatist model of multiculturalism is the opposite to assimilation, and is when people bring their entire practices, languages and cultures and plant them in the new land, with little desire to share or mix with their local community. They live side by side, rather than merged with, the existing population. While not the stated policy intent of Europe, the impact of its policies has been precisely this in some places.

The successful Australian model is one of integration, not assimilation and not separatism.

Our success in integrating people over the decades is evidenced by the 2015 OECD Indicators of Immigrant Integration report. It finds, for example, that we have the third lowest rate of overseas-born unemployment of all 34 OECD countries surveyed.

 There is almost no difference between the unemployment rates of Australia’s migrants and those born here, whereas across the OECD migrants had an unemployment rate that was 2.6 percentage points higher than non-migrants.

Migrants here do better than the Australian-born population in education attainment. Migrant parents want to secure success for their children, in large part through education. Poverty rates among children of migrants are low and home ownership is similar to that of the Australian-born population.

Migrants here have generally participated, succeeded and contributed to our nation.

What is particularly remarkable, however, is that Australia’s success at integration has occurred despite a rate of migration that is much higher than elsewhere — 28 per cent of the total Australian population is born overseas, the third highest in the OECD.

There is, however, no room for complacency. The challenges to successful integration are perhaps greater than in previous decades, and there are indicators we are not doing as well as we once did.

The challenges are greater due to the size of the diasporas, diversity of the migration intake and availability of technology.

In past decades, for example, despite the initial challenges of settling in a new country, new migrants interacted with the existing population through work, school and elsewhere because their diasporas were relatively small.

They tended to maintain less regular contact with their country of origin because of the cost of travel and communications. Today, diasporas can be larger, making it easier for the new migrant to settle initially, but possibly limiting their external interactions.

Technology means a person can communicate easily and cheaply with their birth country or within their diaspora. Today, a person can more easily live here within a language and cultural bubble.

The data also suggests that our success in integrating new migrants has waned. For example, there is an increasing geographic concentration of the overseas-born population. In some respects, there is nothing new about concentrations of newly arrived migrants but the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion report suggests this is getting more pronounced. Further, a very high proportion of those born overseas is often aligned with a considerable absence of English capability.

The 2016 census, for example, shows 24 per cent of the people who arrived between January and August that year reported they did not speak English well or at all. This compared with 18 and 19 per cent respectively in the 2006 and 2011 censuses.

The Scanlon Foundation also highlighted the relatively high level of negative feeling towards Muslims, in part “fed by the reality — and the heightened perception — of radical rejectionism of Australia’s secular democratic values and institutions within segments of the Muslim population”.

These challenges are real and we must be alert to them, but they are not insurmountable. We need to work hard at integration by stamping out any remnants of racism, but also by setting higher expectations for those who want to call Australia home. With rights come responsibilities. Ultimately, this will ensure the migrant has the best opportunity to succeed — and it is essential for the ongoing success of our multicultural nation.



Conservatives tend to find the past informative;  Leftists live in an eternal present

My heading above is a good summary of actual politics and is something conservatives often say.  So,  would you believe it?  Some Leftist psychologists have just "discovered" that historic contrast.  

They found that if you supported a Leftist claim by pointing out some historical support for it then conservatives were more likely to believe it.  They also found that history didn't move Leftists.

Amusing that they think they have discovered something new.  It shows how rarely Leftists listen to conservatives.  They managed a bit of "spin", however.  They refer to interest in the past as "nostalgia" -- showing how Leftist they themselves are.  Nostalgia is roughly definable as a foolish liking for the past.  Conservatives don't think the lessons of the past are at all foolish

Past-Focused Temporal Communication Overcomes Conservatives’ Resistance to Liberal Political Ideas.

Lammers, J., & Baldwin, M.


Nine studies and a meta-analysis test the role of past-focused temporal communication in reducing conservatives’ disagreement with liberal political ideas. We propose that conservatives are more prone to warm, affectionate, and nostalgic feelings for past society. Therefore, they are more likely to support political ideas—including those expressing liberal values—that can be linked to a desirable past state (past focus), rather than a desirable future state (future focus) of society. Study 1 supports our prediction that political conservatives are more nostalgic for the past than liberals. Building on this association, we demonstrate that communicating liberal ideas with a past focus increases conservatives’ support for leniency in criminal justice (Studies 2a and 2b), gun control (Study 3), immigration (Study 4), social diversity (Study 5), and social justice (Study 6). Communicating messages with a past focus reduced political disagreement (compared with a future focus) between liberals and conservatives by between 30 and 100% across studies. Studies 5 and 6 identify the mediating role of state and trait nostalgia, respectively. Study 7 shows that the temporal communication effect only occurs under peripheral (and not central) information processing. Study 8 shows that the effect is asymmetric; a future focus did not increase liberals’ support for conservative ideas. A mixed-effects meta-analysis across all studies confirms that appealing to conservatives’ nostalgia with a past-focused temporal focus increases support for liberal political messages (Study 9). A large portion of the political disagreement between conservatives and liberals appears to be disagreement over style, and not content of political issues.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000121


The President of Iceland is a nit

There are some things so crazy that only an intellectual would believe them and Gudni Johannesson is dripping with academic qualifications -- none of which are in the sciences, unfortunately.  He is basically an historian.

He recently went to a Greenie-dominated conference and apparently felt that he had to find some way in which global warming would  be bad for Iceland -- a most unlikely task.  Below you can see what he came up with -- basically  nothing, just Warmist boilerplate.

He resorted to the very vague "harming biodiversity", with the example that cod are becoming rarer in the nearby ocean but mackerel are becoming more common.  That's a problem?

Gudni is very popular in Iceland because he is a nice man who is good at having something nice to say about all parties in the country. He is himself politically centrist and belongs to no party.  But his habit of having something for everyone has on this occasion reduced him to absurdity

Icelanders have long joked that global warming was something people on the chilly Nordic island could look forward to, but as ice caps and glaciers melt at record speeds, that gag is wearing thin, according to the country’s president.

Warming oceans around the North Pole are harming biodiversity and fish stocks, and causing acidification in the world’s northern regions, forcing countries like Iceland to adapt to a new reality, said President Gudni Johannesson.

“The common joke in Iceland is to say that on this cold and windy, rain-swept island, global warming is something we should cheer for - but it’s no longer funny,” Johannesson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“Climate change affects us all on this globe, but you can see the effects in particular in the northern regions - the ice cap around the North Pole is melting at record rates, the oceans there are getting warmer,” he said.

On the flip side, climate change could bring some economic benefits to the country of just 340,000 people, which would become a natural trade hub if new routes opened up from Asia to the Atlantic due to melting Arctic ice, he said.

“The fact that the ice cap in the north is melting is no source for joy (but) the undeniable fact is that where there was ice, there will be a free waterway,” he said. “Who knows, as the century goes on, maybe we will see increased traffic via the North Pole with Iceland as a hub.”

Johannesson was speaking on the sidelines of the World Ocean Summit in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen on Friday, where environmentalists, politicians and business leaders met to discuss how to improve the state of the oceans.

While warmer temperatures are driving greater stocks of mackerel towards Iceland’s coasts, the cod that was once a mainstay of its fishing industry is likely to head north, said Johannesson, who wore a pink tie made of cod skin at the summit.

Changing patterns of fish migration will make it essential to reach deals with neighboring nations over fish catches, said the president, a former academic who has written about Iceland’s “cod wars”.

Iceland clashed with other states in the region several years ago as it upped the amount of mackerel it hauled in.

Iceland’s relations with places like the Faroe Islands and Norway are usually amicable, and “the only source of potential conflict lies in the distribution of fishing quotas”, Johannesson noted.

In 2016, mackerel was the third-largest catch for Iceland and its third most valuable fish, netting $103 million, or 8 percent of the nation’s total catch value.

Iceland is also weighing up how to expand its salmon-farming industry, while considering its potential environmental impact.

“Fish farming is a part of the blue economy now and... will expand,” said Johannesson. However, it has to be “as safe as possible because nature comes first”, he added.

As one of just a handful of countries in the world that permits commercial whale hunting, Iceland’s whale catch is “sustainable”, said Johannesson, who declined to comment on whether he personally supported the industry.

Whale-watching has boomed alongside the tourism that has underpinned Iceland’s economic rebound, he said, with no sign visitors are staying away in protest at Iceland’s continued hunting of minke and fin whales.

“Sustainability and the miniscule amount of whales being caught in recent years (are) based on scientific advice and way below any figures potentially threatening the future of the two whale stocks in question,” he said.



President Donald Trump has announced he will not impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminium

A major diplomatic victory for Malcolm Turnbull. His unfailingly polite approach to almost everything has paid off here. Australia has two large raw steel producers  but their output is down to a quarter of what it was.  And they produce less than 1% of world output. So the effect on Australian steelmakers and the coal and iron miners who supply them is likely to be minimal.

Australia is however an aluminium superpower.  It is the world's largest producer of bauxite, the mineral used to produce aluminium.  And there are seven existing plants (alumina refineries) to do that conversion in Australia.  Alumina in turn is converted into aluminium in smelters and there are such smelters in Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria. So there may be a more significant advantage to Australia in aluminium

Mr Trump tweeted the announcement on Saturday morning after authorising new tariffs this week.

Mr Trump said he will not be imposing the tariffs on the 'great nation of Australia', fulfilling a promise he made to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Turnbull replied to Mr Trump's tweet, saying the pair had a 'great discussion on security and trade'.

The President said he was 'committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship'.

'Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia,' he said.

Earlier this week Mr Trump introduced a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium.

He had hinted that Australia along with Mexico and Canada may be exempted from the tariffs.

Mr Turnbull said the trade relationship between the US and Australia was 'fair and reciprocal, and each of our nations has no closer ally'.

'Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel and aluminium - good for jobs in Australia and in US.'

The announcement is the latest development in the growing relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull. It began in rocky circumstances when Mr Trump berated Mr Turnbull on a call days into his presidency for a 'stupid deal' his counterpart had struck with Barack Obama.

'I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer,' Mr Trump told Mr Turnbull, before reportedly hanging up the phone on him. Mr Trump described the phone call with Mr Turnbull as the 'worst' out of a series he made to foreign leaders after becoming president.

Mr Trump also seemed to refer to Mr Turnbull as 'Malcolm Trumble' when speaking about the Australian leader.

The frosty start to their working relationship seemed to thaw during Mr Turnbull's recent visit to Washington D.C.

Mr Trump signed the tariffs into law on Thursday, flanked by senior officials on one side and a group of steelworkers on the other.

'You are truly the backbone of America, you know that? You are very special people,' he told the blue collar contingent. 'We want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair and we want our workers to be protected.'

The president said his promises to factory workers were a big reason for his 2016 victory, complaining that American steel and aluminum workers have been betrayed – but 'that betrayal is now over.'

The Associated Press reported that every nation in the world will be able to petition the United States for exemptions to the tariffs.

A senior administration official said the national security underpinnings of the new policy were 'unassailable,' and clarified that the offer of loopholes would be somewhat limited

Mr Trump will 'allow any country with which we have a security relationship to discuss with the United States and the president alternate ways' of protecting America's interests, the official said, while cautioning that petitioning countries would have to prove that their steel and aluminum exports aren't harming America's national security capabilities.



Dyer: Migrants will multiply with global warming

Canadian journalist Gwynne Dyer is a good military historian but he is not a deep thinker. He just parrots below the old line that global warming will lead to food shortages.  He thinks that 2 degrees of warming will cause Africans to starve. He totally ignores the effect of higher CO2 levels on crops.  If the desperately prophesied coincidence of slightly higher temperatures and elevated CO2 does arrive, crops will thrive.  Crops LIKE warmth and LOVE CO2.  A warmer climate should in fact cause Africans to eat unusually well.

It is in fact in Africa that we already see some of that.  The Sahel desert area has greened noticeably in recent decades as global CO2 level have risen. Elevated ambient CO2 levels enable plants to survive with less water -- look it up, Gwynne.  It's all to do with stomata.

CO2 levels are still steadily rising even though temperatures have been pretty flat in recent decades

Lucky old Italy just got two Donald Trumps for the price of one.

One of the big winners in last Sunday’s Italian election was the Five-Star Movement, whose 31-year-old leader Luigi di Maio has promised to stop sending out rescue boats to save migrants from drowning when their flimsy craft sink halfway across the Mediterranean. A “sea taxi service”, he calls it, and promises to send all the surviving illegal immigrants home.

So does Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, the other big winner in the election. “I’m sick of seeing immigrants in hotels and Italians who sleep in cars,” Salvini told supporters at a recent rally in Milan. He pledges to send 150,000 illegal migrants home in his first year in government.

What we are seeing now, however, is a foretaste of the time when the migrant flows grow very large and the politics gets really brutal. In the not too distant future, the Mediterranean Sea and the Mexican border will separate the temperate world, where the climate is still tolerable and there is still enough food, from the sub-tropical and tropical worlds of killer heat and dwindling food.

This is a regular subject of confidential discussions in various strategic planning cells in European governments, and also in the grown-up parts of the U.S. government. Ten years ago a senior officer in the intelligence section of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff told me that the U.S. army expected to be ordered by Congress to close the Mexican border down completely within the next 20 years. And he was quite explicit: that meant shooting to kill.

Global warming will hit the countries closer to the equator far harder than the fortunate countries of the temperate zone, and the main casualty will be food production in the tropics and the sub-tropics.

So the hungry millions will start to move, and the borders of the richer countries in the temperate parts of the world will slam shut to keep them out: the United States, the European Union, Russia, South Africa, Australia. If you think the politics is ugly now, just wait.

Of course, a miracle could happen. There could be early and very deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so most of the catastrophe never arrives. But I’m having trouble even believing in the Easter Bunny any more. This is harder.



Warmists admit their data is crap

But they have to do so carefully, of course.  They go to great lengths to show that available meteorological data is too rough to make precise and fine-grained quantitative generalizations.

 But bad as the data is, it does truly show global warming happening, they say. But that it ridiculous.  The generalizations put out by Warmists are very fine -- in hundredths of a degree Celsius.  They would normally be able to show no net climate change at all without reference to such very fine measurements.

Yet it is precisely such fine measurements that the authors below  show as unjustifiable with the existing data

By "Towards a global land surface climate fiducial reference measurements network" they mean that we badly need a truly scientific network of temperature monitoring stations

Towards a global land surface climate fiducial reference measurements network

P. W. Thorne et al.


There is overwhelming evidence that the climate system has warmed since the instigation of instrumental meteorological observations. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the evidence for warming was unequivocal. However, owing to imperfect measurements and ubiquitous changes in measurement networks and techniques, there remain uncertainties in many of the details of these historical changes. These uncertainties do not call into question the trend or overall magnitude of the changes in the global climate system. Rather, they act to make the picture less clear than it could be, particularly at the local scale where many decisions regarding adaptation choices will be required, both now and in the future. A set of high-quality long-term fiducial reference measurements of essential climate variables will enable future generations to make rigorous assessments of future climate change and variability, providing society with the best possible information to support future decisions. Here we propose that by implementing and maintaining a suitably stable and metrologically well-characterized global land surface climate fiducial reference measurements network, the present-day scientific community can bequeath to future generations a better set of observations. This will aid future adaptation decisions and help us to monitor and quantify the effectiveness of internationally agreed mitigation steps. This article provides the background, rationale, metrological principles, and practical considerations regarding what would be involved in such a network, and outlines the benefits which may accrue. The challenge, of course, is how to convert such a vision to a long-term sustainable capability providing the necessary well-characterized measurement series to the benefit of global science and future generations.



Has philosophy failed?

Analytical philosophy cannot give a satisfactory account of moral discourse

That there is no such thing as right and wrong is a normal conclusion in analytical philosophy -- sometimes supported by glib references to the acceptability of infanticide and pedophilia in ancient Greece.  Where do we find any agreed SOURCE of rightness or wrongness is the problem.

We can argue, for instance that morality is inborn or natural.  But how do we tell what those moral values are?  There are many "rights" that have been said by different peole to be inalienable parts of us but where is the authority for judging between those competing claims?  America's founding fathers had their answers but they were political answers, not answers that could be found by anyone who looks.

So what is right and wrong becomes merely a matter of opinion. We may believe that some things are "just wrong" but how do we check the truth of that belief? Opinions are often wrong. There are various streams of philosophical thought which endeavour to give some alternatives to a belief about rightness being merely a matter of opinion but they all have problems of their own. Over the years (starting here) I have myself put up a number of approaches to understanding the nature of moral values but I think there is still more to be said

So what to we do about the fact that those who deny rightness and wrongness will almost in the same breath say that Donald Trump is wrong, racism is wrong etc.  In philosophy we endeavour to analyse discourse but is there not something almost insane about that sort of discourse?  How can we analyse a self-contradiction?

I think the solution to that contradiction is for us to abandon our endeavour to analyse discourse without looking at the people from whom the discourse originates.  I think we have, in short, to combine philosophy with psychology to understand discourse about values. Philosophy and psychology were once treated as parts of a single whole and I think this is a case where we can profitably revert to that.

And as soon as we do that, we come across a well-developed study within psychlogy of what is accepted as right or wrong. Enjoy the work of Stephen Pinker, for instance. We discover in fact that the elusive source of rightness and wrongness can be found after all -- within us.  We have instinctive adverse reflexes to certain events which we describe in "is right" or "is wrong" terms.  Our entire notions of rightness derive in the end  from certain feelings which are ultimately traceable to our evolutionary past.  They are harm-avoidant reflexes that have evolved to keep us safe and still to a degree do that to this day. Our moral reflexes can be suppressed and are rather wobbly but they are there.  In response to moral dilemmas, our responses vary but they have a lot in common between people nonetheless. So our very notion of "is wrong" is the conscious part of a self-protective reflex. And upon those basic reflexes great edifices of morality are built.

"But this is absurd" is a very common comment on the implications of a philosophical theory.  But it is in itself problematical -- because what is absurd to one person may not be absurd to another.  Nonetheless, I think we can have no doubt about the absurdity  of denying wrongness and in almost in the same breath asserting that racism (for instance) is wrong,  Philosophical conclusions don't carry over into any everyday areas of discourse to which they seem to be related.  And despite decades and centuries of endeavour, nobody seems to have a way of getting out of that dilemma.

So I think it is clear that there are some things that philosophy cannot do.  It just flails about in analysing moral statements, for instance

But we should not be troubled by that  Philosophical analysis is in the end just a tool to enable us to understand statements and there is surely no difficulty in saying that it cannot do everything by itself.

There is however a big lesson from the considerations so far examined here. The statement "there is no such thing as right and wrong" is bad philosophy and is plainly wrong itself. It is an indefensible statement that should not be used. Those who use it are simply showing the limits, inadequacy and absurdity of trying to explain everything by philosophy alone. It is to mistake a dead-end in philosophy for an important truth.

It is amusing that Leftists are energetic users of the statement "there is no such thing as right and wrong".  Yet they are also energetic users of moral statements.  Most of their discourse consists simply of judging various things to be right or wrong.  So it is an effective rejoinder to a claim from them that something is wrong to say: "But there is no such thing as right and wrong".  That invariably knocks the stuffing out of them.  They just don't know how to further their argument at that point. You have ripped their platform from under them.

Do Leftists really believe that "there is no such thing as right and wrong"?  Probably not.  They would not get so heated up about the myriad of "problems" they see in society otherwise.  They can however use moral language insincerely. If the average Joe is likely to see something as wrong, Leftists will leap onto that whether or not it relates to anything else in their value systen.  They can preach the wrongness of something even if they really don't give a hoot about it. There are not in fact many things they care about -- mainly their own honour and glory -- but they will use things that conservatives care about to manipulate conservatives. I showed that experimentally years ago.

Some of the arguments I put up above I have presented at greater length previously


Leftists are basically all the same

Tasmania has just had an election in which the conservatives won. So how did the Tasmanian Left handle the defeat?  There is no doubt that the issues for tiny Tasmania, tucked away at the bottom of the world, are much less portentous than the issues for the great world power that is the USA.  So surely we could expect that the response of the Tasmanian Left would be much less embittered and rage-filled than the response of the American Left when Donald beat Hillary?

It was not to be.  The big issue in the Tasmanian campaign was the hardly earth-shattering question of whether gambling machines should be permitted.  Despite that, the defeated Tasmanian Left erupted in anger and bad grace, accusing the conservatives of not having won fair and square.

So this similarity of results between Tasmania and the USA despite very different circumstances confirms that we have to go down to the psychological level to understand the Left.  We have to face the fact that Leftists are born full of anger and hostility to the people around them.  Reality doesn't interest them.  They just hate it all.

Excerpt from a news report follows:

[Federal] Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has attacked the “extraordinarily ungracious” concession speech by Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White, calling Labor’s claims the Hodgman campaign was bankrolled by gaming companies as “sour grapes” and “absurd”.

Tasmania’s Hodgman Liberal government has been re-elected with a majority, after voters turned away from the Greens and shunned the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Ms White congratulated Premier Will Hodgman this morning after neglecting to do so in her concession speech last night.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Tasmanian Labor campaign, our candidates and the values and issues we fought for. We didn’t get there this time but we can hold our heads high.”

The Tasmanian Left too put up a woman for the top job, the blonde bombshell Rebecca White.  Once again the Feminist theory that women will vote for another woman falls flat

[Federal Leftist leader] Bill Shorten also added his congratulations, but not without throwing in a pointed barb.

“Rebecca White and her team ran a positive, issues-focused campaign that reflected the best Labor values, against the Liberals who were backed by well-resourced special interests,” the federal Labor lader said in a statement.

“Bec has shown herself to be an energetic campaigner, and a strong and effective leader with a bright future ahead of her.”

Earlier Mr Ciobo said he was disappointed by the Labor response to losing the Tasmanian election last night, calling the party hypocritical given the amount of campaign money it receives from unions.

“I also find it frankly quite extraordinary that the Australian Labor Party, who are effectively a bought subsidiary of the union movement, would for a second start accusing anybody else of throwing too much money at a problem or advertising in excess of the amount that they can advertise,” Mr Ciobo told Sky News.

“I mean seriously? That is probably the most absurd thing I have heard in quite a while from the Australian Labor Party.”

Mr Hodgman claimed victory at 10.30pm on Saturday, thanking voters for sticking with his government, providing it a second term in majority.

While his opponents claimed the government had been purchased by advertising paid for by poker machine interests, Mr Hodgman said voters had rewarded the Liberals for “kickstarting” the economy.

Opposition leader Rebecca White conceded defeat but failed to congratulate Mr Hodgman, instead praising voters for putting his government “on notice”.

“The Tasmanian people have put this Liberal government on notice: today marks a new era in Tasmanian politics,” Ms White said.

“People want transparent, good government that is going to benefit them and not somebody’s rich mate.”

She said the Hodgman government was “nearly defeated” and blamed the cashed-up campaign against Labor by poker machine interests for the party’s failure to secure a better result.

“The Tasmanian people should be represented by the best representatives; not the richest,” she said, accusing the Liberal Party of “buying” seats in the parliament.



Ideology and Political Divisiveness

What Robert Higgs says below undoubtedly explains part of the problem but I think there is a lot more to it. I think we are looking at a change primarily on the Left. They have drifted Left almost to the point of insanity in recent years.  Reality no longer matters to them.  Why?  Because they have always been aimed in that direction.  They never ceased to defend the Soviets while that gory bunch were around.

For a long time, however, the need to get votes kept them cautious.  They risked a wipeout if they got too far from the centre.  Recently, however, they have realized that their 3 big rusted-on consituencies -- blacks, Jews and Hispanics -- will support them no matter what, so they need add only the fanatical end of the white Left to get into power. So they have moved to more extreme positions.  And such extremism is of course divisive.  You almost have to let go of your sanity to embrace it

In recent years, many politicians and political pundits have lamented what they perceive to be growing political divisiveness in the United States. Public-opinion polls have confirmed the reality of this growing divisiveness (Badger and Chokshi 2017; Hook 2017; Pew Research Center 2017). Nearly everyone who remarks on this phenomenon views it as regrettable, and many offer recommendations for alleviating it, especially by embracing a greater willingness to compromise in Congress and among the public. Not many commentators, however, have evinced an understanding of how the heightened divisiveness came about or of the necessary condition(s) for reducing it.

To understand recent trends in political divisiveness, it might help to recall the situation at an earlier time when such divisiveness was not so great—say, during the 1950s or perhaps even as recently as the 1990s. In those days, the two major political parties as a rule kept their squabbling between the forty-yard lines. They and their supporters among the public agreed on the fundamental political issues (e.g., anticommunism in foreign affairs, a sizable welfare state at home). Of course, even within the accepted bounds of political dispute, disagreements and conflicts might become heated from time to time in certain areas, yet, given the broad agreement on the nature of the regime, politicians and their supporters could fashion compromises that kept nearly all changes within the established bounds. Indeed, politicians could brag about and take credit for their capacity to forge compromises, and few held this flexibility against them or accused them of being sellouts.

In more recent times, however, as the government has grown and extended its involvement into more—and more important—areas of life (e.g., comprehensive health-care insurance coverage and broad-gauge financial-rescue operations such as those undertaken in 2008 and 2009), the perceived stakes have become greater in the minds of political actors. With more at stake, people’s willingness to compromise has declined: compromise may be too costly for them to tolerate. So as government grows, extending its scope and power into more corners of economic and social affairs, it pushes more and more people beyond their thresholds of acceptance.

Now, whenever the government grows, it does not simply take an action and push it onto an unwilling public or a large unwilling part of the public, telling those who oppose it to “like it or lump it.” Such an overbearing imposition is well-nigh guaranteed to increase and sharpen the existing resistance to the action and thus to make the implementation of the government’s new policy more difficult. To ease the imposition of an action on unwilling parties, the government and its supporters always clothe it in attractive ideological garb, claiming that it affords great benefits for the general public, necessary protections from foreign or domestic threats, and so forth. Some potential resisters are likely to be persuaded by such ideological cover stories—if they weren’t, the government’s propaganda would be pointless. So ideology, it turns out, plays an essential role in the conduct of any government’s operations, especially when it is expanding the scope of such operations.

More than thirty years ago I formulated a conception of ideology (a highly contested concept among scholars) that I have found helpful in analyzing the nature of government and its growth. In my conception, ideology is “a somewhat coherent, rather comprehensive belief system about social relations.” Such a system must have “four distinct aspects: cognitive, affective, programmatic, and solidary” (Higgs 1987, 37; for an extended discussion of ideology viewed in this way, see chapter 3 of the same source, “On Ideology as an Analytical Concept in the Study of Political Economy,” 35–56). The key connection between ideology and political action arises from the fourth aspect, solidarity among an ideology’s adherents. This solidarity establishes an identity because affiliation with an ideology defines the kind of person one is and wishes to be, and maintenance of this identity requires that a person act as a faithful comrade of others who identify likewise. An ideology thus defines and solidifies personal identity, but it simultaneously defines the enemy—as someone has said, it tells the ideological adherent whom to fear and whom to hate.

As government grows, pushing into more and more areas of social and economic life and evoking an ideological rationale to justify its action and attract supporters, it simultaneously causes its supporters to identify those who oppose the action as “the other” and even as “the enemy.” When people come to view each other in this stark fashion, social and political divisiveness is almost certain to increase. During the past several decades, as a harsh and unforgiving view of political opponents has grown, the fear and loathing of those who “are not with us” may well have been the main avenue along which the willingness to compromise has declined.

If such has been the case, it follows that a necessary condition for the alleviation of such divisiveness is the retardation or cessation—perhaps even the reversal—of the government’s growth. Even if meeting such a condition should be proposed or carried out, however, the problem is that a sort of Tullockian transitional-gains trap (Tullock 1975) may impede such a turnaround. Many individuals and groups have become deeply and variously embroiled in the government’s current scope and power, and they are likely to resist fiercely any attempt to reverse the process they helped to push forward in recent decades. They will fight any changes that would require them to surrender benefits, policies, and programs in which they are deeply invested not only materially but also ideologically. Such resistance constitutes one of the important aspects of the ratchet effect in the growth of government, whereby each major lurch toward greater government becomes at least in part irreversible (Higgs 1987, 57–74; 2012, 75–97)



Book Review of "Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What to Do about It" by Richard V. Reeves

What reviewer Robert Whaples reports below is a fairly conventional sociological analysis of social stratification in America.  And there is undoubtedly something in it.  The big problem is said to be that the people who have already got to the top of American society tend to keep it for themselves and their children.  There is little social mobility upwards from lower down in the social hierarchy.  And you will read below about a variety of ways in which that "closed shop" is maintained.

I think that sociological account does however miss a large elephant in the room.  And to see that elephant you need to go to psychology.  A couple of decades ago Charles Murray showed that IQ was a strong predictor of economic success.  So the existing elite will already be high IQ people and it is actually their high IQ that gives them their dominant position, not what schools they went to etc.

Toby Young offers a very extensive exploration of that possibility.  He thinks we already have a ruling INTELLECTUAL elite.  That being so, nothing will help you to get into that elite unless you have the requisite high IQ.  With that everything is possible; without it very little is possible

The American labor market “does a good job of rewarding the kind of ‘merit’ that adds economic value—skills, knowledge, intelligence” (p. 75). “The idea of moving away from a market economy is foolish as well as far-fetched. Markets increase prosperity, reduce poverty, enhance well-being, and bolster individual choice” (p. 77). These aren’t the words of someone from Cato, the AEI or the Heritage Foundation, but from Richard Reeves, a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. But, warns Reeves, this “meritocratic market” is embedded in an unfair society. Meritocracy is great for adults, but not for children. The problem is that upper middle class parents have built a system that gives their own children massive advantages—they hoard the prerequisites for the American dream and block the children of others from flourishing.

Market merit is a great thing, but we need to reform our social institutions so that they “aggressively equalize opportunities to develop market merit” (p. 84). “The problem is not that society is too competitive. It is that it is not competitive enough, partly because of ... anticompetitive opportunity hoarding ... but mostly because the chances to prepare for the competition are so unequal” (p. 124). Reeves seems to realize that it would be exceptionally difficult (and probably quite destructive) to eliminate all the advantages that children of successful parents have over other children. These advantages include having caring parents (two of them, not just one), who are good role models and spend time simply talking to their children—one study he cites examines the “conversation gap” and estimates that children in families on welfare hear about six hundred words per hours, working-class children about twelve hundred words per hour, and children of professionals about twenty-one hundred words per hour. Reeves doesn’t aim to undo these immense advantages. Rather, he takes aim at a higher level—at legal rules and institutional arrangements, constructed by the upper middle class to make life better for themselves and their children without considering the potential harm imposed on others—and suggests that we could use “more downward mobility from the top” (p. 58).

So, how do upper middle class professionals—“journalists, scholars, technocrats, managers, bureaucrats, the people with letters after their names” (p. 4) hoard the dream? Reeves focuses on three tactics—exclusionary zoning, college admissions policies, and the allocation of good internships. The most important of these is the first. The upper middle class have segregated themselves into towns and neighborhoods where the cost of living is high, mainly by using zoning rules that make it impossible for poorer people to be their neighbors and enjoy these communities’ amenities—especially good schools. The rich practice an “inverse ghettoization” (p. 102)—building enclaves where they live healthy, safe lives together and don’t have to deal with the annoyances of non-elites and their children, to the detriment of everyone else, argues Reeves. These zoning practices—such as banning multi-family dwellings and setting high minimum lot sizes—mean that those outside the top groups cannot afford to live in the most economically prosperous places. And the dirty secret is that these zoning requirements are stricter in cities with more left-of-center voters. Enrico Moretti and Chang-Tai Hsieh have estimated that if only San Francisco, San Jose and New York adopted zoning regulations of the median American city, the entire U.S. economy would be 10 percent larger because more people would be able to afford to move to opportunity.

The problem with higher education, as Reeves sees it, is that the game is rigged so that children of the upper middle class have huge advantages in getting into the best colleges and universities—because they live near the best high schools and because, for example, their parents have the wherewithal to spend money on college admissions consultants (who can charge over $10,000 for their top tier of services). “Post-secondary education ... has become an ‘inequality machine” (p. 11), as it “takes the inequality given to it and magnifies it” (p. 55). Elite schools pay lip services to serving all of society, but they are “locked into an equilibrium that militates against serious reform efforts” as it “is simply not in the interests of the most powerful institutions to change things very much” (p. 88-89). Reeves offers a tantalizing sentence or two about supply-side reforms to improve opportunity and access to higher education but doesn’t press the issue. Instead, he focuses on an interesting, but probably not very important, symptom of dream hoarding in higher education—policies that make it easier for “legacy” students, the children of alumni, to be accepted to the top colleges. He makes a strong case that this practice is immoral and downright un-American, citing evidence from a couple cases where abolishing the practice has not reduced alumni giving. He’s a fan of extending affirmative action to encompass social class. He also advocates the abolition of granting special advantages for well-connected students who apply for internships at top firms, non-profits and government positions. The playing field needs to be leveled—so that having parents who know the right people doesn’t give applicants a leg up.

As you can see from my overview of Reeve’s arguments, this is a book that will appeal to people across the political spectrum—in fact, it will probably appeal more to conservatives and libertarians than the “progressives” who run our colleges and have enacted these zoning laws. Reeves’ policy proposals strike me as mostly mild afterthoughts—his primary goal seems to be to open “dream hoarding” up to the disinfectant of sunlight, to encourage us to realize the inconsistencies between our stated creeds and our practices, so that we begin to voluntarily give up our hoarding. In this task he may have failed. I conclude this after having discussed Dream Hoarders with a group of students at an elite college (Wake Forest University). They accepted many of his arguments but ultimately few saw a burning need to give up on legacy admissions (which might benefit their own children) and using special connections to snag good job internships.

I won’t enumerate his proposals, but will object to his take on contraception for teenagers, when he declares that “Causal sex is fine. Casual child bearing is not” (p. 127). One doesn’t have to dig too deep to realize that treating other people so casually, so disposably, as if they are just there for one’s own pleasure, is the root of many of the problems he discusses. Would he advise his own children that “casual sex is fine”? Do parents now say this to their children? The thought of this saddens me deeply.

Finally, Reeves has a fresh take on John Rawls. Rather than considering how we would want things to be arranged if we didn’t know our own original position (shrouded behind the veil of ignorance), Reeves asks us to think about the best arrangement if no one knows his “children’s place in society, their class position or social status; nor does he know their fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, intelligence and strength and the like” (p. 72, emphasis in the original). He senses that if this were the position facing us, we’d be more supportive of redistributive policies and institution, if we were less certain where our own children were going to end up. I’m not so certain.



Trump the Terrible

One must not make too much of this but there are some interesting parallels between Ivan the Terrible of Russia and Donald Trump -- including one very thought-provoking possible parallel.

For a start, Trump wants to make America great again. Ivan DID make Russia greater.  He conquered several adjoining states and thus greatly expanded the territory of Russia.  We live in very different times now so that is not to be expected of Mr Trump but both men aimed at national greatness.  Mr Obama stood for national shrinkage as far as I can tell.

And Ivan was eccentric.  He was not "presidential".  He actually appears to have gone mad on a couple of occasions.  So Mr Trump's tweets are a minor eccentricity by comparison.

And Ivan was popular with the people but unpopular with the Russian establishment.  Ivan too had a big "swamp" that he had to drain.  And he did drain it.  Quite a few heads came off the "boyars" (elite).

But, as Mr. Trump has found, draining the swamp is not easy. So Ivan still found the swamp frustrating

So here's the thought provoking bit.  At one stage Ivan got so frustrated at the lack of co-operation from the elite that he took himself off to the countryside and told people he had abdicated.

The Boyars were of course delighted -- for five minutes.  Then they realized that they couldn't do anything without Ivan to sign the paperwork.  They were also afraid that the people might revolt against them.  They knew that Ivan was popular and that they were not.  So they had to beg him to come back.  He did.  But his price was high.  He got a whole lot of things that he wanted out of them.

So could Trump do something like that?  Could he get so frustrated with the GOP not doing what they were elected to do --abolish Obamacare and build the wall -- that he retired to Trump Tower and refused to come out again until the GOP had sorted itself out?  Maybe even Trump is not radical enough to do that but it could work.  Go Ivan!


Netanyahu as an Israeli Donald Trump

Israel has a truly virulent Left, every bit as virulent as the American Left.  Because Israel cannot afford much irrationality, however, they are less influential than the American Left.  And a key to keeping them from influence is the moderate conservative Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has been elected Prime Minister of Israel four times. He is the only prime minister in Israel's history to have been elected three times in a row. He is therefore greatly hated by the Left and they never tire of finding some way of bringing him down.  As with Trump they have no respect for the outcome of democratic processes.

Recently, however, they have been much heartened by the emergence of a claim that Netanyahu has been involved in some sort of illegal financial activity.  And an active investigation of that claim by the Israeli police is now underway.  The Israeli Left have great hopes of that claim.  They look to the eventual dismissal of Netanyahu out of it but realize that will be a long game.  What they hope right now is that the claim will at least dent Netanyahu's political support.  They hope that the public opinion polls will show that Netanyahu is now a lame duck whom his own party might eventually disown. As with all the accusations flung at Trump, they think something has got to stick.

With Trump, however, the opposite has happened. His poll numbers were for a while way down but they have recently crept up -- with Rasmussen now having him on a 50% approval rating. The "dirt" flung at him has just bounced off.  It was the same with Ronald Reagan.  No "dirt" would ever stick to him, either.  He became known as the "Teflon President" for that reason.

And Netanyahu also seems to have Teflon qualities. The accusations against him have not dented his popularity at all.  His popularity has, if anything, increased.

Which is a BIG puzzle for the Israeli Left.  How can that happen? Can the people of Israel tolerate an accused criminal as their Prime Minister?  It makes no sense.  It is as puzzling to them as was the defeat of Hillary Clinton to the American Left.

And the explanation they have come up with is similar.  They think the people are irrational and emotion-driven -- not rational and balanced people like themselves.   Netanyahu is their father figure and so on.  That people who are as full of hate as the Left are regard themselves as rational and  unemotional is as amusing in Israel as it is in America.   Sigmund Freud's observations about the power of projection (Seeing one's own faults in others) spring immediately to mind. And, as in the USA, the Leftist narrative dominates the Israeli media.

So we come to the article below, which puts forward the shocking idea that the supporters of Netanyahu might be perfectly rational.  As Trumpians do, they may like his poicies enough not to be bothered by minor issues.  The inherent arrogance of the Left will however never allow them to see that. They will continue to rant away inside their own little hermetically sealed intellectual bubble

Why the Right Is Actually Rational

Those who shout 'Only Bibi!' aren’t necessarily acting on gut instinct. On the contrary, they’re voicing rational recognition of the fact that the war against corruption won’t necessarily alter their situation.

תEver since the police issued their summary report of two investigations concerning Benjamin Netanyahu, many people have been trying to solve one of the great riddles of Israeli politics: How is it that the poll numbers of the prime minister and his Likud party not only did not decline but even rose?

It can’t be claimed that only one side of the political map cares about corruption. In 1977, claims of massive corruption at the highest levels contributed to voters’ disgust with the Labor Alignment that led to its ouster. And in 1992, anti-corruption demonstrations helped Yitzhak Rabin to beat Yitzhak Shamir. So what has changed?

A number of Haaretz writers have weighed in. Yossi Klein cited Likud voters’ need for “revenge” against the elites (Feb. 22). Daniel Blatman proposed “fear” as an explanation for the lack of desire to separate from Netanyahu (Feb. 22, in Hebrew). Ravit Hecht cited the “familial” nature of Likud voters (Feb. 23). Alon Idan compared support for Likud to fans’ loyalty to a soccer team (Feb. 23, in Hebrew). Iris Leal claimed that Netanyahu “hypnotizes” his audience (Feb. 25, in Hebrew).

The weakness of all these explanations lies in their common denominator. The key terms in these op-eds show that to his critics, support for Netanyahu is emotional. None of them sought to understand its rationale.

This problem is most apparent in attempts to explain why the left has failed to convince the right: Persuasion is impossible from a position of fundamental arrogance, which assumes that “they” are not rational but “we” are. Yet a deeper look reveals, even if unintentionally, a real difficulty in understanding the other.

This isn’t new. The late sociologist Yonathan Shapiro, who conducted one of the first studies on Likud’s rise to power, named several reasons for its upset victory in his book “The Road to Power: Herut Party in Israel.” One of the main ones, he said, was Likud leader Menachem Begin’s emotional manipulation of Mizrahi Jews.

This claim was widely accepted as axiomatic for several decades, and still echoes through academic and public debates. The problem is that manipulation doesn’t work only on people of certain ethnic origins, and in any case, all politicians tend to manipulate.

In fact, new studies about the economic policies of the ruling Mapai party, a Labor Party forerunner, during the country’s formative years show that until the 1960s, and contrary to its image as a party that exploited the Mizrahim, Mapai pursued a clear policy of reducing wage gaps between the elites and the lower classes. This data help us understand why Mizrahim abandoned Mapai at about that time and started voting for Begin, because it explains the economic and class context and recognizes that this was a rational decision.

Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn wrote that Netanyahu’s accomplishments — Israel’s prosperity, its political stability and the decline in Palestinian terror within Israel proper — are what win him public support (Feb. 26). But Benn didn’t draw the necessary conclusion, which is that if Netanyahu’s achievements are what keep him in power, then the right is rational, and the left is emotional in its utter opposition to his policies.

Clearly, the left-right story is more complicated than questions of emotionalism, and even those who recognize Netanyahu’s practical achievements can’t ignore his moral failings. Nevertheless, the people who shout “Only Bibi!” even when he is caught out in disgrace aren’t necessarily acting on gut instinct. On the contrary, they’re voicing rational recognition of the fact that for all the importance of the war against corruption in high places, it doesn’t affect their lives and won’t necessarily alter their situation.



Trump's "trade war"

I have hesitated to comment on Trump's plans to put import duties onto steel and aluminium  -- but his plans have so few defenders that I think I should point out a few things that are being overlooked.  For a start, this is NOT a great departure from normal GOP thinking.  George Bush II did the same for a time. The steel business is a chronic political problem worldwide. I will say why below. And there is certainly nothing new about this from Trump.  He campaigned on a policy of using tariffs to protect American industry. So he has a very clear mandate for what he is doing.  And his rationale that small price increases on consumer goods are worth it to save communities applies here.

And Trump's own comment that trade wars are easy to win is instructive.  It suggests that his tariffs are just a bargaining tool and a temporary one at that.  So any long term damage is avoided.

And what about political damage?  He is such a big winner there that he could well be prepared for substantial damage in other directions.  The working class liking for Trump could now well become ecstatic in many quarters.

But to get back to economics, this is a well-known problem.  It is known as a "dumping" problem and Trump is being perfectly orthodox about it.  A dumping problem arises when a country produces more of a good than can readily be sold. And steel is almost continually in that situation.  Because it is such an icon of industrial maturity, almost every country everywhere wants to have a steel mill and governments everywhere support the building of them.  So steel is chronically in glut, oversupply.  China has a big surplus but so does Canada, Europe etc.

So what to do when nobody wants to buy your product?  Easy!  Discount it.  But you have to be careful about doing that or you may be selling your product for less than it costs to make. But with government support your home market is captive so you apply discounts only to stuff you sell overseas, leaving your home market as a survival revenue source.

So if China were selling Americans Chinese steel for less than it costs to make, you might think Americans would celebrate:  China is giving us a gift!  And some economists think we should look at it that way.  But nobody does. The Chinese steel will now be replacing steel made in America and the American steel millers will be up in arms.  They will demand that their government put a tax on all the imported steel so that any discounts are cancelled out.  And that is basically what Mr Trump is doing.  He is keeping out all that foreign steel so that American steel millers can sell their stuff.

But there are problems.  China has in fact been quite restrained and has not raided the American market.  It is those nice Canadians who sell most of the "foreign" steel marketed in America.  Do we really want to shaft them? If we do they could retaliate. They could, for instance, buy their military aircraft from Europe rather than America.  They have already cancelled their F35 order and the Super Hornets could be next. And the latest Saab Gripen E would make a very nice alternative.

But Trump is undoubtedly cooking up a deal of some sort so we will have to wait and see.  My best guess:  He will be "persuaded" to replace his new tariffs with a system of national quotas -- with the largest existing international suppliers getting the biggest quotas and the smaller suppliers getting no quota at all.  Good for Canada, bad for China, only a little bit bad for American consumers, great for the mid-terms.