By on January 29, 2009

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76 Comments on “Qu’est-ce qui se passe avec les Parisiens et leur autos flambées?...”


  • avatar
    Rix

    Americans have an auto bailout. The French have an auto cookout. Light up the Car-be-que!

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Fun fact: the activity of going out and burning cars as a protest/attack/leisure is known as “le rodéo”.

    Also: “Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé avec les Parisiens et les automobiles flambées.” /pedant

  • avatar
    vww12

    You are witnessing the initial symptoms of the failure of a state: the inability to maintain the right to property, the impotence of enforcing law and order.

    You just don’t realize it yet, and attribute it to “youths” as if this were frat kids having a beer.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    Actually I think it’s:

    Qu’est-ce qui se passe avec les Parisiens et leur autos flambées?

    Of course that’s thinking back to Grade 12 French and trying to clear up any remaining acne before my grad picture. Good times!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    They’re destroying wealth to create auto jobs. Just like in the US, but, as the French, they make a better show out of it.

  • avatar

    It was thought, by the French, and most Europeans that France being a socialist state, because of the high proportion of state supported industries that they would be effected less by the Global Meltdown. And initially they were. Now they are catching up to the US in employment, negative GDP etc.

    Great Britain, with its heavy reliance on its Financial Services sector will take it on the chin more than France, however will you see these kind of riots here and elsewhere in Europe? Probably not, France has an appalling history for favoring their elite and turning their backs on their immigrant population.

    When the economy is OK, life in the Ghettos, of which Paris has many, becomes bearable. When the economy gets bad, the ghettos are a cauldron of seething discontent. Anyone who has lived in Marseilles, Lyon or Paris will know that the authorities have great difficulty keeping the lid on things. With this downturn they can expect some fireworks.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Diversity and multi-culturalism is a wondrous affair and should be embraced by all.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I for one think this beats the hell out of plain old clunker culling that other nations are doing. This is much more festive and dynamic!

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Kyle Schellenberg:

    Mine is past tense, yours is present.

  • avatar

    And once again, everybody dances around the word they’re afraid to use: Muslims.

    While Europe has some experience at eliminating ethnic minorities, it has no track record of assimilating them into their societies. That being said, the “youths” in the working class suburbs are part of a culture interested in cultural domination, not assimilation.

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    Yup, it’s all the evil muslims fault.

    Nice to know that bigotry is alive and well in the U.S.

  • avatar

    Similar happenings in Germany. Berliner Morgenpost reports that in the course of a few days, 30 cars were set on fire in Berlin alone. That’s one a day, rising trend. Targets are mostly upscale cars, “Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche and BMW.” However also more blue collar cars such as Opel and Toyota went up in flames.

    In Berlin, burning cars have their own website http://www.brennende-autos.de/ (“burning cars.de”) which geo tags currently 281 alighted cars into Google maps. According to their statistics, Mercedes leads, followed by “unknown,” VW, BMW, and Opel.

  • avatar

    Vraiment!

    In fact, the only useful French I learned was “Quand je suis sous, je parle mieux.” Never once failed to produce a bottle of wine.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I first became aware of this sort of thing shortly after a relative had “explained” to me how things were so much better politcally in the EU.

    He missed the bits about double digit unemployment also.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    This is what you get when you open the doors to a massive wave of disenfranchised immigrants in one shot. Politicians are to blame. Well done France, enjoy the fruits of your idiotic immigration policy!

  • avatar
    virages

    This current “car brulée” episode here in France has nothing to do with immigration. There were some massive protests and strikes yesterday countering the current govt. reform policies.

    Here, the world is upside-down when comparing to the USA. People are asking for a stronger role in govt. helping the people. So people are protesting for more salary and purchase power. They figure that if they are paying so much in taxes they should get more in return.

    Yes it’s class warfare, and I I don’t agree with much of it. But, I do agree that it’s not the time for big bonuses for Auto and Bank CEO’s who’s companies are not doing well. A little bit of solidarity with the little guy, yes. But don’t ask for handouts, it’s degrading.

  • avatar
    AKM

    As a French, some pointers:
    - title is now correct
    - France being a socialist state, I don’t agree with the term socialist, which in its marxist sense denotes a country where the state is everything. While the French gvt is more present than the U.S. gvt, it has privatised recently, and is a true market economy, albeit a large degree of state intervention remains.
    - Probably not, France has an appalling history for favoring their elite and turning their backs on their immigrant population. Unfortunately, very true. Sadly, that’s also the case with the U.S.

    Burning cars has become both a “sport” and an expression of rage from youths that see no future for themselves. And the French gvt, for all its power, has been unable (although I personally think the correct term would be “unwilling”) to address the issue. And lest we forget, the French are actually pretty conservative, and too many people prefer to ignore the issue. Obviously, the issue of immigration in France is not exactly the same than the issue of race in the U.S. (since African-Americans have been present for much longer), but the U.S. society has certainly been more proactive in mending race relations than France has. France has a tradition of integration, that worked well when immigrants were white and mostly catholic (Italians, Portuguese, Polish), but fails now that immigrants seem more “different”, being mostly northern african and muslim.

  • avatar
    menno

    Dean, we Americans can’t talk too loudly since our government can’t be bothered to actually act like a soveriegn government and actually secure our borders. One end result is the bankruptcy of California, followed soon by many other states. Yes, I know there are a lot of reasons everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.

    But my wife started out foreign born, and we did everything “right” – so I think to myself – why do THEY think THEY are so “special” that THEY don’t have to obey the rules?

    We rail on the rich and politicians for having double standards. I don’t reserve the honor of that only for the rich; I’m ready to talk about TRUTH in any form, not just about autos.

    As for the state (?) of Mexico (double pun), it’s deteriorating fast.

    But know what? The open border to the north into the US actually acted as an “enabler” for the poorly run Mexican nation. Instead of the people staying there, looking north, realizing they actually needed to get a new government in to actually allow them to prosper themselves, the open borders simply enabled the poorly run sorry excuse for a government to continue in Mexico.

    And yes, Europe’s fundamental issue IS the legal Muslim minority soon to be majority not actually wanting to assimilate. Fundamentally, that is a major problem in much of Europe, and in a sense, the Europeans only have themselves to blame, much as we Americans have ourselves to blame for not demanding a properly run border ourselves.

  • avatar
    virgule

    Muslim majority in Europe? Where, outside Bosnia and Albania, Muslims aren’t more than 10% in any country? It’d be fascinating to hear how that’d work.

  • avatar
    John B

    Virgule:

    It’s the birth rate; Muslims have it, the natives don’t:

    “Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.”
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1890354.ece

    I’m sure you will find a similar situation in France.

    “Today, the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent.”
    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2003/03middleeast_taspinar.aspx

    Majority? Not immediately, but a very strong minority.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Qwerty :
    Yup, it’s all the evil muslims fault.

    Nice to know that bigotry is alive and well in the U.S.

    Oh, I’m sorry. What IS the ethnic background of the Parisian slum? Those Damn Huguenots at it again?

    Seriously, you can’t ignore the entire picture and calling people bigots doesn’t change the facts. You have to recognize the source of a problem to treat it appropriately. An electrical fire requires a different approach to putting it out than does a grease fire.

    “France’s unemployment rate is 10.1%, its youth unemployment rate is 22%, and its unemployment rate among Muslim youth is estimated at over 30%.”
    (2005 statistics – no doubt higher today. )

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2005/11/riots_in_france.html

  • avatar
    AKM

    @lokki:

    “France’s unemployment rate is 10.1%, its youth unemployment rate is 22%, and its unemployment rate among Muslim youth is estimated at over 30%.”
    (2005 statistics – no doubt higher today. )

    Currently a little lower (at least for general unemployment), the result of a few good years. But there’s little doubt it’ll get back to that level quickly. And yes, THAT is the core problem. When people have jobs and cars, they don’t go burning other cars, regardless of existential angst.
    France has a 2-tier job market: actual long-term jobs, where it’s very difficult for an employer to lay off employees, and the consequence, short-term contracts. They have expanded since they’re the only way for employers to have flexibility, but have in effect created a lower category of jobs. And since it’s still far too common for companies to be reluctant to hire “brown-skinned” people, the issue is compounded for immigrants.
    While a refusal to integrate for a fringe of the immigrant population is a reason, it’s mostly an excuse for the comfy, white majority to retain their safe jobs and pretend to care about others.

    For the record, I’m French citizen, white, American permanent resident (came to NJ for my grad studies and fell in love…), and although I love my birth country and want to go back there, am very upset when I see friends with comfy public sector jobs berate “evil company owners” for trying to make a living. it’s not so much the government itself that is socialist but many workers, who don’t realize that their attitude is not about helping others but about keeping their own privileges.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    And once again, everybody dances around the word they’re afraid to use: Muslims.

    I think the word they’re afraid to use is “the poor”**. If these were young black or Latino men in America, it’d be the same cause; as it is when racially homogenous nations (Korea comes to mind) see riots. Cram a lot of poor people in one place and it’s an effective human powderkeg. The French are just more expressive about it.

    The poor are, statistically speaking, less intelligent, more likely to be criminal, more likely to have substance-abuse problems, more likely to have been abused as children and have higher rates of unemployment. It’s just happenstance that poor people in France are Muslim, just as it’s happenstance that Black people in the US are.

    The solution is to have less poor people. Unfortunately, poor people spawn more often—maybe Swift was onto something in A Modest Proposal?

    People mis-characterize economic problems as racial ones on both sides of the spectrum: the Left does it because it allows the continuance of the familiar culture of victimization which so many are dependent on for validation or enabling; the Right does it because it keeps people from talking about wealth redistribution, and allows the creation of “social demons”.

    ** Especially if you’re of a given political bent. It’s easier to be libertarian or laissez faire if you can avoid thinking of poverty as a problem (or, as some do, as some kind of virtue or right of passage).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is what you get when you open the doors to a massive wave of disenfranchised immigrants in one shot. Politicians are to blame. Well done France, enjoy the fruits of your idiotic immigration policy!

    So what was the excuse in Ireland in the past century?

    Again, poverty is the problem. Race is the scapegoat.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It was thought, by the French, and most Europeans that France being a socialist state

    Here’s a tip for Americans who seem to have trouble with what constitutes “Socialism”. Here’s a handy ruler to use when measuring things.

    Cuba is a socialist state. Walk through Vedado in Havana. Notice the lack of overt corporate presence (most businesses are state run, most shops are not that large). Drive through the country, notice the utter lack of advertising and the near-flat distribution of wealth.

    Now, walk down Champs-Elysee. Socialism, huh?

    Now, have a look at Beijing or Hong Kong. Again, Socialism? What Socialism?

  • avatar

    My definition of socialism depends entirely on the rate of taxation. FYI there’s many a Maybach in the PRC.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Another major factor in this combustible mix is demographics. Demography is destiny and for a whole generation, Europeans haven’t been replacing themselves – live births per woman in some European countries have been as low as a little over 1 – you need 2.1 to maintain a static population. Mix this in with a desire to have a short workweek, short work career span, lots of holidays, work rules the UAW would love, etc, etc. Oh, and they want the benefits of a lot of state services. Stepping into the place of all the children who weren’t and aren’t come the foreigners. They are Muslim and when you read “youths” you may reliably read Muslim youths. When you have no prospects, you raise hell. Lokki’s observations are apt. The big problem is – what do you do with a resentful underclass that may no longer wish to assimilate and has radically different ideas about religion, culture and society in general?

  • avatar
    geeber

    AKM: Unfortunately, very true. Sadly, that’s also the case with the U.S.

    Talk to immigrants who have lived in both the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. is MUCH more welcoming to newcomers than Europe is.

    psharjinian: Drive through the country, notice the utter lack of advertising and the near-flat distribution of wealth.

    Actually, what one notices is the lack of wealth, period.

    psharjinian: Now, walk down Champs-Elysee. Socialism, huh?

    Now, have a look at Beijing or Hong Kong. Again, Socialism? What Socialism?

    In France and China, there is massive government intervention in the private sector – bordering on defacto control. A company may be owned privately, but you had better believe that the owners aren’t making decisions without real government involvement.

    Realistically, if Cerberus decided to shut down Chrysler tomorrow, it could do so, and government – state, local and federal – couldn’t do anything about it. The UAW, dealers and creditors may object, but they aren’t part of the federal government (yet).

    And the idea that “socialism” means even distribution of wealth is a myth, spread by socialists as much as anyone else. Socialism is an attempt to freeze the distribution of wealth in favor of those advocating socialism.

    Anyone who thinks that Castro and his favored cronies live like the average Cuban just fell off the turnip truck.

    By the same token, I’ll bet that more than a few shoppers in those Parisian luxury stores make out quite well under the French government, and would be horrified at the suggestion that France lessen government control over the economy. They have no intention of ending their government-sanctioned gravy train, even if it prevents true upward mobility for the poor.

    psharjinian: The solution is to have less poor people. Unfortunately, poor people spawn more often—maybe Swift was onto something in A Modest Proposal

    The problem comes when the state subsidizes their reproduction.

    psharjinian: the Right does it because it keeps people from talking about wealth redistribution, and allows the creation of “social demons”.

    The problems are behaviors and attitudes; a lack of wealth is just a symptom of those core problems.

    In the U.S., the poor are more likely to play state-sanctioned lotteries. Thus, many very poor people have won huge prizes over the years. In virtually every case, they were poor again within a decade. If poverty were merely the lack of wealth or money, then giving them a huge pot of money should have solved their problems. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

  • avatar

    Thank you psarhjinian for providing the only sensible retort to this anti-Muslim garbage. It’s interesting that people refuse to recognize that it is economic disenfranchisement and poverty that cause oppressed populations to act out. It is easy to simply point to the brown people and say, “Those lazy ass breeders don’t work and raise up a bunch of crooks!” It’s lazy and stupid to make such an argument and assumes that racial makeup is more important than cultural environment. When Geeber says “the problems are behaviors and attitudes, the lack of wealth is just a symptom of those core problems,” it implies that because these lazy people are so shiftless, they can’t get ahead. This argument pays no mind to the fact that employers won’t hire even the capable members of this population because of social perception and a measure of prejudice, which creates a feeling of futility and eventually anger at a system that is working against you.

    I have a daring theory – black people aren’t criminally inclined and Muslim people aren’t natural born and indoctrinated terrorists. Poor people, oppressed populations, given a different set of circumstances and opportunities, would become just as rich and successful as anyone else. It is the socioeconomic conditions that cause ethnic sub-groups to act out, not some inborn worthlessness.

    Also, socialism is a political system, capitalism is an economic system. The two aren’t as diametrically opposed as people like to talk about. Socialist capitalism (or capitalist socialism) can be structured as a wonderfully efficient and protective system. It is just a matter of whose interests are being protected – those of corporate marauders or working people.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    My definition of socialism depends entirely on the rate of taxation.

    The US taxes the bejeezus out of people, but calls it “user fees” to make people who are uncomfortable with the word feel better. There’s alsoa strong push in the US to balkanize taxation, often down to the municipal level, again to make people uncomfortable with federal power feel better, no matter how outright corrupt municipal government tends to be, or how wasteful such a tax system is.

    In countries where they don’t tax at all (eg, some parts of sub-Saharan Africa) you’ll see the ultimate flower of capitalism, except that the ultimate flower of capitalism becomes a warlord-run hellhole incredibly quickly. You’ll also hear about “protection money” or “indentured servitude”.

    FYI there’s many a Maybach in the PRC.

    And that why I said they’re not socialist.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Kazoomaloo,

    You left out one important cause of ethnic violence: Culture and upbringing. Millions of Muslims are being taught from birth to hate the west, and to be intolerant of other religions. That is a fact which all the anti-poverty rhetoric in the world cannot hide.

    The only one talking about “inborn worthlessness of lazy ass brown people” in this forum is you. Be careful about judging people for words which you put in their mouths, because that is the definition of bigotry itself.

    On the subject of bigotry, by the way, do you feel that all business owners are “corporate marauders”? Just curious. I’m a business owner and want to hear your wisdom.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    In France and China, there is massive government intervention in the private sector – bordering on defacto contro

    In China, sure. In France? Please. France is not any more or less corporatist than the US.

    Actually, what one notices is the lack of wealth, period.

    I’ve walked through a lot of Havana and all of Trinidad, including some not-so-hot areas. I’d be unhinged to try that in LA, Detroit, Washington or New York. Heck, even Paris or London would be more risky. In Mexico City I’d be in a ditch without a pulse.

    Go Capitalism!

    And the idea that “socialism” means even distribution of wealth is a myth, spread by socialists as much as anyone else. Socialism is an attempt to freeze the distribution of wealth in favor of those advocating socialism.

    Conversely, anyone who thinks Capitalism means anything other than “Unlimited opportunity for those who already have money and power” are also deluding themselves.

    See how reductio ad absurdum arguments don’t make sense? You can’t say “All aspects of socialism is bad because the extreme versions don’t work”, or equate China and France, any more than I can say we should be replacing stars with hammers and sickles because warlord-based oligarchies are laissez-faire’s fullest expression.

    Anyone who thinks that Castro and his favored cronies live like the average Cuban just fell off the turnip truck.

    You know what, while I don’t think that El Commandante does too badly, I’ve yet to see the level of destitution in Cuba that I’ve seen elsewhere in Latin America or the US.

    The system clearly isn’t perfect, but it has more than a few things to recommend it.

    By the same token, I’ll bet that more than a few shoppers in those Parisian luxury stores make out quite well under the French government.

    Most don’t. Most of those people are no more government tit-suckers than the same platinum-plated rich twits who frequent similar areas in New York, LA or London.

    Are you seriously putting France on the same level as China, or closer to the likes of China than the US?

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    Governments and voting societies must come to the realization that no matter what their “good intentions” are and how much money or control they assert over their nation, there will still be….the poor….the ignorant….the disabled….the criminals….the alcoholics and druggies….the malcontents….the elite….the crooked polititians.

    Until the countries of the western world learn to control their borders and their immigration policies their very existence will become more and more at risk….Until the Caucasian race learns to reproduce at a healthy 2.5 rate their very existence is at risk.

    I wonder what the world will look like in 2209?

  • avatar
    John B

    “‘Thank you psarhjinian for providing the only sensible retort to this anti-Muslim garbage.”

    “It’s lazy and stupid to make such an argument and assumes that racial makeup is more important than cultural environment”

    And just what race are Muslims? I find it interesting for example that in the UK one never hears about trouble from the significant Hindu population. Same “race” (if I may use that term) as the Muslim population (mainly South Asian) but a completely different outlook on society.

  • avatar
    geeber

    kazoomaloo: When Geeber says “the problems are behaviors and attitudes, the lack of wealth is just a symptom of those core problems,” it implies that because these lazy people are so shiftless, they can’t get ahead.

    Your intentions may be noble, but the simple fact is that the problems of the chronically poor are rooted in their behavior. My wife has worked extensively with the poor in her last two jobs, and has firsthand experience with this problem, so I’m inclined to take her word for it.

    The simple fact is that the chronically poor display attitudes and behaviors that keep them poor. The example of the lottery winners shows this. If the lack of money were the root of the problem with poor people, then giving them a huge pot of money should solve all of their problems. Doesn’t work that way.

    Believe me, if giving them money – or even a job — would solve their problems, I’d be all for it. But it won’t, so I’m not.

    kazoomaloo: This argument pays no mind to the fact that employers won’t hire even the capable members of this population because of social perception and a measure of prejudice, which creates a feeling of futility and eventually anger at a system that is working against you.

    Check the calendar. It’s not 1955 anymore. The “racism” card in the United States is getting old.

    kazoomaloo: I have a daring theory – black people aren’t criminally inclined and Muslim people aren’t natural born and indoctrinated terrorists.

    That’s nice, but no one here is saying that they are. They are saying that, in this particular case, those who engage in those activities (burning Citroens and Renaults) tend to be of the same faith.

    Just as no one I know says that all African Americans are criminals.

    Go to Philadelphia, and the majority of offenders are black.

    Go to rural Perry County (north of Harrisburg), and the offenders are uniformly white.

    The proper response is to be against criminals, ESPECIALLY if you care about African Americans, as most crime is intra-racial. Those black criminals in Philadelphia aren’t mugging Main Line Paris Hilton clones. They are victimizing hard-working, middle- and lower-middle class African Americans who live in the city.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Robert Farago:

    During the golden age of the US, the 1950s, the top tax bracket was 90%.

    I guess the 1950s that every conservative wants to return to were pretty socialist.

    The tax policy did work pretty well.

    Shareholders weren’t forced, by nepotistic Boards of Directors, into overpaying executives, because paying an executive above the top tax bracket was pointless.

    Sure, that effective cap on salary meant that companies would compensate executives in other ways, like limos, planes and nice offices, but at least those things allow a person to do their job better.

    Paying executives more money than they can ever spend, empirically, does not make them do their jobs better.

    But hell, I guess that inability to pay top talent what they’re “worth” is why we didn’t have brilliant people like Rick Wagoner running companies back in the 1950s.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Millions of Muslims are being taught from birth to hate the west, and to be intolerant of other religions

    The reason this is happening is because people in power find it very easy to bend disgruntled poor people if they can give them a target or scapegoat.

    It’s a lot easier and more effective to say “You’re poor and unhappy because of The West” instead of actually trying to fix the problem. Whipping up religious or nationalistic fervour to keep the poor in line is an old, old trick. The popular example would garner me a Godwin.

    Again, fat, happy people (sociopaths aside) don’t start wars, fly planes into buildings or blow themselves up.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Same “race” (if I may use that term) as the Muslim population (mainly South Asian) but a completely different outlook on society

    Because India is part of the Commonwealth, the type of people who come in, and the shitkicking they get from immigration with regards to transportable education standards, are very different.

    A doctor in India can become a doctor in the UK. A doctor from most Muslim nations would be lucky of they end up growing germ samples in a lab; they’re more likely to end up driving a cab or cooking falafels.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: In China, sure. In France? Please. France is not any more or less corporatist than the US.

    The French national government is FAR more involved in regulating the French economy than the U.S. government is. The French government at one time had a controlling interest in Renault.

    Are you going to deny that Renault can not simply cease operations without any French government action or interference, while the federal government would not be able to stop Cerberus from simply shutting down Chrysler?

    psharjinian: I’ve walked through a lot of Havana and all of Trinidad, including some not-so-hot areas. I’d be unhinged to try that in LA, Detroit, Washington or New York. Heck, even Paris or London would be more risky. In Mexico City I’d be in a ditch without a pulse.

    I doubt that you were given unfettered access to all of Cuba. But some cultures are simply less violent than others, regardless of the type of economic system instituted within said country.

    Within the United States, you are much safer in New York City or Dallas than in Detroit.

    Same country, same national economic system…

    psharjinian: Conversely, anyone who thinks Capitalism means anything other than “Unlimited opportunity for those who already have money and power” are also deluding themselves.

    Then you need to explain how all of those immigrants who come to the U.S. with virtually nothing are able to succeed, and end up outperforming native poor people.

    psharjinian: See how reductio ad absurdum arguments don’t make sense? You can’t say “All aspects of socialism is bad because the extreme versions don’t work”, or equate China and France, any more than I can say we should be replacing stars with hammers and sickles because warlord-based oligarchies are laissez-faire’s fullest expression.

    First, I never said that, so please stick to the arguments I have actually made.

    Second, the idea that laissez-faire will result in warlords taking control shows a lack of understanding of laissez-faire and what really constitutes government control. The simple fact is that when a warlord is able to gain control to the point that he or she can squelch opposition and run the country, you don’t have a laissez-faire economy – and never did. You had an economy with heavy government involvement that led to a dictatorship form of government.

    psharjinian: You know what, while I don’t think that El Commandante does too badly, I’ve yet to see the level of destitution in Cuba that I’ve seen elsewhere in Latin America or the US.

    You’re changing the subject. Socialism is supposed to be about EQUALITY for everyone, and no special favors for the powerful or connected. It hasn’t worked out that way….in Cuba, the Soviet Union, East Germany,…

    phsajinian: Most don’t. Most of those people are no more government tit-suckers than the same platinum-plated rich twits who frequent similar areas in New York, LA or London.

    Don’t kid yourself. And just because someone nominally works in the private sector doesn’t mean that they aren’t sucking at the government teat.

    psharjinian: Are you seriously putting France on the same level as China, or closer to the likes of China than the US?

    As far as regulation of the economy and level of state involvement, yes, France is closer to China than it is to the U.S.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that France is a dictatorship. In form of government, it is much closer to the U.S. than to China.

    psharjinian: Again, fat, happy people (sociopaths aside) don’t start wars, fly planes into buildings or blow themselves up.

    Actually, terrorist leaders are overwhelmingly from middle class and upper-middle class families, and have college-level educations.

    All of the 9/11 hijackers came from middle class families, and many had attended colleges and universities.

    no_slushbox: During the golden age of the US, the 1950s, the top tax bracket was 90%.

    I guess the 1950s that every conservative wants to return to were pretty socialist.

    Most conservatives I know do NOT want to turn the clock back to the 1950s, either for economic or social reasons. Libertarians definitely don’t want that.

    And the I would argue that, in the postwar years, the U.S. economy could get away with bad economic and taxation policies because its main competitors were still rebuilding after having been bombed to rubble. (Note that the idea of giving the UAW more money and benefits to shut it up began to take root in 1950 with the Treaty Detroit forged by GM and the UAW. Labor costs don’t matter when there is no real foreign compeition, and the labor costs actually cripple domestic competitors, because of pattern bargaining.)

    We don’t have that luxury today.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    “Again, fat, happy people (sociopaths aside) don’t start wars, fly planes into buildings or blow themselves up.”

    True. They recruit others to do it for them. You can damp what happens in the Parisian banlieus with more economic opportunity and a more welcoming society, but at the extremes, it was a centimillionaire who started AQ. Maybe he is/was a sociopath, but there are many of them, then. There is no place in our society for 7th century imperial/political/religious notions. It will take a succession of rough men defending us, while others harp about bigotry and economic fairness, in order for us to survive.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Awesome discussion here, certainly a tribute to the deeply thoughtful people who read this blog.
    Apparently we here are adults with adult mentalities and logic, rather than the far more usual grade school level seen elsewhere.

    I am for both capitalism and free enterprise. They go hand in hand to produce the best results for a society. Left to it’s own, capitalism results in a feudal social structure. Left to its own socialism results in uniform poverty.
    Successfully structuring a balance of the two results and society where the middle class is predominant.
    Anyone here ever ponder a constitutional amendment that sets up another separation of power – that of money and state? Wedding money and political power is clearly detrimental, it is called corruption by some.
    In my opinon, Mr. Regan set us off in the direction of feudalism, and our current difficulties are at least partly due to his “dismantle government” ideology.
    Tax the rich (individuals an interests), they will still be rich.
    Are we supposed to be a society of predators ruthlessly devouring each other for individual gain, or are we a community where common good is as much or more a value than selfish personal gain? I would argue that civiliation declines in the first case, and prospers in the second case.

  • avatar

    don1967:
    You say millions of Muslims are being taught to hate the West, but I wonder why? Psarhjinian is close to the mark. You could also say that millions of Westerners are being taught to fear and mistrust Muslims, which breeds more of this ethnically aligned violence. As far as religion is concerned, any measure of evangelism carries with it the implicit intolerance of other religions; the idea that others ought to convert to your way of thinking is a way of getting rid of other religions or worldviews. All religions are guilty of this type of insistence on homogeneity. All this “we’re the good guys, they’re evil” crap muddles a nuanced issue and doesn’t help two sides in any debate come to an understanding.

    Also, as a raving idiot, I think that every single business owner is a corporate marauder. Excuse the sarcasm. Corporate marauders are the men and women who have driven this economy into the ground and rewarded themselves with big fat bonuses. Corporate marauders are an intractable Big 3 who claim that Americans don’t want small cars when the Civic and Corolla are top-10 annual sellers, and then cry to Congress that impending bankruptcy isn’t their fault. Corporate marauders are people like Bob Nardelli who drove Home Depot, a company that employs many thousands of people, into the ground, lost stockholder value and ran off with a $210 million payday. Corporate marauders are the greedy SOBs who will bend and twist the rules to make a buck and who try to snake out of paying taxes. don1967, I don’t know if you’re a “corporate marauder” type. That depends on how you run your company. If you’re an honorable person who does honest work, charges fair prices and cares about the well-being of your employees then I would never level such a charge at you. Only you can account for your own honesty. I’m not some dorm-room Marxist, I know business is necessary and beneficial for society and good men and women run ethical businesses, and I don’t question your values.

    John B, I wasn’t talking about a Muslim race. There is a parallel between racist attitudes and anti-muslim sentiment. It’s the same cultural prejudice dressed up in different clothes.

    Geeber, my whole point is that socioeconomic conditions dictate our worldview and actions far more than race or religion. You might say that poor people make their own beds and must sleep in them, but it would be worth study to find out why they take such consistently self-destructive actions. I don’t agree with the idea of just giving them money and jobs, but I do believe that we as a society can better equip our poor and oppressed members to lift themselves from poverty. I know that poor people, white, black, brown, red, Christian, Muslim, Athiest and Pagan, make stupid decisions that keep them poor, I just think that without realizing it and somewhat unintentionally we all contribute to keeping them down.

    Also, don’t bullshit about racism being dead or deserving to be written in quotes. Maybe you haven’t talked to the same people I have, but I know plenty of people in positions of power, business owners and police officers, who say surprisingly racist things in common conversation. Just because there’s a black president doesn’t mean the struggles of a racially diverse society are suddenly done away with.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I am for both capitalism and free enterprise. They go hand in hand to produce the best results for a society. Left to it’s own, capitalism results in a feudal social structure. Left to its own socialism results in uniform povery.

    Thank you.

    I think people need to understand this when they hammer ideologies they don’t agree with. You can call it what you will (the term I use is “social democracy”) but the requirements are more or less the same: an economy that does not concentrate wealth, and a government that is accountable. I would like to point out that Capitalism or Free Enterprise does not imply an accountable government or controls on the concentration of wealth and power: that’s where elected, representative, constitutionally-limited government comes in.

    Throwing around “socialism” like a perjorative, assuming that because you don’t like the word (and don’t like people who support it) is no better than the people I know on the boards or various arts and academic groups who misuse “fascist” to mean “people I don’t like”

  • avatar
    cwp

    For the record, I’m French citizen, white, American permanent resident (came to NJ for my grad studies and fell in love…)

    You came to New Jersey and fell in love? Dear God, I hope you mean “fell in love with a nice American girl” and not “fell in love with my surroundings”. :)

  • avatar
    John B

    psarhjinian:

    “Because India is part of the Commonwealth, the type of people who come in, and the shitkicking they get from immigration with regards to transportable education standards, are very different.”

    Strange, because the last time I looked so was Pakistan.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Until the countries of the western world learn to control their borders and their immigration policies their very existence will become more and more at risk….Until the Caucasian race learns to reproduce at a healthy 2.5 rate their very existence is at risk.

    God, I hope you’re being tongue-in-cheek.

    If not, I’ll bite: so, the poor people in Ireland who were breeding like rabbits in the last century, what was the cause of their trouble? Because it wasn’t immigration, and it wasn’t because they were Socialist, and sure as shit wasn’t because they were Muslim.

    It was because they were—wait for it—poor as dirt for centuries. The reason Irish people aren’t blowing each other up anymore (and it’s the same reason the FLQ and ETA aren’t, either) isn’t just some miracle of diplomacy, it’s because they’re no longer dirt poor. It’s very hard for ideologues to sway people to violence and hatred when they’re content and happy.

    Institutionalized poverty is a bad thing, it breeds generations of social problems, and it spreads It’s not the same thing as circumstantial poverty (which is what people who suffered through the depression and post-war immigrants dealt with). When you’re poor, and so are your ancestors going back for generations, you have a much more meager set of opportunities, and much higher barriers (starting with pre- and post-natal care and nurtrition and going from there).

    This is why, say, Rick Wagoner’s kids are likely to end up as titans of industry, while some poor child of a crack-addict in urban-ghetto America is likely to end up in the same rat-hole as their parents. Yes, they have opportunity, but you can’t eat opportunity.

    Do I think that it might not be a bad idea, in net economic and social terms, if we just kept poor people from breeding, or at least lock them all up somewhere where they can’t cause trouble? Sure, it’d solve a lot of the problems. Do I think that’s a fair or humane thing to do? Shit, no.

    But that’s what you’re advocating.

  • avatar
    geeber

    ttacgreg: In my opinon, Mr. Regan set us off in the direction of feudalism, and our current difficulties are at least partly due to his “dismantle government” ideology.

    Actually, that started with the second Roosevelt, and was further helped along under Johnson and Nixon, all under the guise of “helping people.”

    It mainly ended up creating a well-entrenched bureaucratic class.

    ttacgreg: Tax the rich (individuals an interests), they will still be rich.

    When you tax “the rich,” you really end up taxing the productive small business owners who make around $250,000 a year, or upper-income professionals in places like Los Angeles or New York City. You don’t hit the inherited-wealth crowd very hard, because they are able to shelter their income.

    Check out what Teresa Heinz Kerry (wife of you-know-who) pays in federal income taxes. Hint – it isn’t much.

    That is why the old-money crowd is trending more and more to the Democrats, while the small business owners tend to vote Republican. Small business owners know who REALLY gets hit when government tries to “tax the rich.”

    kazamaloo: Geeber, my whole point is that socioeconomic conditions dictate our worldview and actions far more than race or religion.

    Yet socioeconomic conditions are easier to change than religion, and certainly race.

    kazamaloo: I don’t agree with the idea of just giving them money and jobs, but I do believe that we as a society can better equip our poor and oppressed members to lift themselves from poverty.

    Everyone in America is guaranteed a free education from K-12. We spend BILLIONS on education, and increases in spending on education have OUTPACED inflation for years. Yet many poor minorites (and poor whites, but we ignore them) graduate without any skills, or don’t graduate at all.

    Why? It isn’t because we don’t spend the money on education.

    It’s because they don’t value education.

    My wife works as a special education teacher in an urban school district. She sees these students – and their families – every day. The problem is one of attitude.

    kazamaloo: I know that poor people, white, black, brown, red, Christian, Muslim, Athiest and Pagan, make stupid decisions that keep them poor, I just think that without realizing it and somewhat unintentionally we all contribute to keeping them down.

    The way we “keep them down” is to allow them to make their own decisions and then subsidize those bad decisions.

    If you drop out of school and have three kids by the time you are 20, it is highly unlikely that you will be working at a good job and living in a nice house in an upscale neighborhood by the time you are 35. Welfare will keep you and the kids from starving, but it won’t help you get ahead or allow you to build real wealth.

    You would basically have to either run people’s lives, or cut off all government aid and hope that people respond appropriately (i.e., by not making dumb decisions, because the government-provided safety net is gone).

    kazamaloo: Also, don’t bullshit about racism being dead or deserving to be written in quotes. Maybe you haven’t talked to the same people I have, but I know plenty of people in positions of power, business owners and police officers, who say surprisingly racist things in common conversation. Just because there’s a black president doesn’t mean the struggles of a racially diverse society are suddenly done away with.

    Sorry, but no dice. The problems with the African American community have very little to do with white racism anymore. They are rooted in attitudes towards education and obedience to laws, along with an inability to defer gratification and save with an eye to building real wealth.

    (Incidentally, these problems affect poor whites, but no one seems to care about them – probably because they can’t blame racism or the Ku Klux Klan for their problems.)

    Example – when my wife’s grandmother died in 2001, she left her a small inheritance. My wife was living a threadbare existance at the time, but she invested the money, and still has it. No new cars, no fancy vacations, no expensive jewelry…

    In her building was a classroom aide whose mother died. She left him a small inheritance. He immediately used it to buy a used BMW 3-Series, and then dropped out of college (he was going for a teaching degree).

    We see this ALL the time among lower-income people, both black and white…

  • avatar
    k.amm

    “Ronnie Schreiber :
    January 30th, 2009 at 2:36 am

    And once again, everybody dances around the word they’re afraid to use: Muslims.

    While Europe has some experience at eliminating ethnic minorities, it has no track record of assimilating them into their societies. That being said, the “youths” in the working class suburbs are part of a culture interested in cultural domination, not assimilation.”

    (For a second let’s forget the fact that most are not even Muslim…)

    …it’s amusing to see that you are just as well-versed in the problems of young French or European “Muslims” and you are not ‘afraid’ to call them on their name (OMG! Muslims!) and point out they are trying to dominate, not assimilate as you are when it comes to praising devastated lassez-faire economies or denying global warming, extinction of species etc. ;)

    Let me suggest you a great fiction movie: it’s called La Haine and made by a great director (Kassovitz), about and in these French suburban ghettos.

  • avatar
    AKM

    You came to New Jersey and fell in love? Dear God, I hope you mean “fell in love with a nice American girl” and not “fell in love with my surroundings”. :)

    Erm, yes. Now that I read it again, the sentence is hysterical…

    AKM: Unfortunately, very true. Sadly, that’s also the case with the U.S.

    Talk to immigrants who have lived in both the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. is MUCH more welcoming to newcomers than Europe is.

    Depending on the places…But the bureaucracy I have to go through to become an American is HELL compared to what my wife had to do to claim her French citizenship. And the Mexicans crossing the border may also disagree with you.
    My sentence also referred to the concept of meritocracy, which, although highly praised in the U.S., is in fact LESS present than in Europe, according to a survey last year in The Economist.

    Now, have a look at Beijing or Hong Kong. Again, Socialism? What Socialism?

    In France and China, there is massive government intervention in the private sector – bordering on defacto control. A company may be owned privately, but you had better believe that the owners aren’t making decisions without real government involvement.

    In France? No. It was the case, partly, in the 80s, but even the Jospin government moved away from state intervention in companies. It has almost no say in Renault’s management.

    However, I completely agree with your comments on education. It is undervalued, unfortunately. In France, entrepreneurship is undervalued instead, and that is a problem, because the small company owners are often reviled as nasty capitalists by a majority of the population, which doesn’t realize their contribution to the economy.

    In regard to your comments as to the intrusion in people’s lives, I also tend to agree. people should be allowed to fail. The government’s job should be to help those who are trying to better themselves. Oh, and to prevent imbalances, but that’s easier said than done, as events have shown.

    Regarding the African-American community, I agree with you as well. However, the French muslim community does suffer more from rascism. It’s in large part because they are recent immigrants, but also because of the social system, it’s easier in France to get handouts than a job, and those immigrants are thus seen as abusing the system. Some do, obviously, but data seems to indicated that it’s about the same rate than the native population, once variables such as education are controlled. And many others would rather have jobs than handouts.

    What’s essential to keep in mind anyway is that there is no perfect economic or social system, and that the complexity of the environment in which each system exists makes it very difficult to objectively compare them. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t criticize them in order to promote reform towards better governance, but should refrain from promoting one completely above the others, especially in a social vacuum.

  • avatar
    vww12

    «psarhjinian : Cuba is a socialist state [...] notice the [...] near-flat distribution of wealth.»

    On the contrary, Cuba has one of the more lopsided wealth distributions in the entire planet.

    Whereas almost the entire population is on substinence, the top apparatchicks have access to the finest luxuries available anywhere.

    You saw flatness in wealth among the citizenry, but that is because they are all serfs of the very few who conform the nomenklatura of the Socialist state in Cuba.

  • avatar
    k.amm

    “Actually, that started with the second Roosevelt, and was further helped along under Johnson and Nixon, all under the guise of “helping people.”

    It mainly ended up creating a well-entrenched bureaucratic class.”

    Nonsense. It was Reagan who really started removing regulations all across the board – this is why we ended up with 5 media conglomerates who owns every bit of information, with monopolized cable provider areas etc and, of course, with this giant mess we are in now.

    “When you tax “the rich,” you really end up taxing the productive small business owners who make around $250,000 a year, or upper-income professionals in places like Los Angeles or New York City. You don’t hit the inherited-wealth crowd very hard, because they are able to shelter their income.

    That is why the old-money crowd is trending more and more to the Democrats, while the small business owners tend to vote Republican. Small business owners know who REALLY gets hit when government tries to “tax the rich.””

    Ohh, PLEAHHHHHSE – the “productive small business owner” – this is the most typical nonsensical centerpiece of the GOP propaganda I read every time when I come across their leaflets.
    This is simply NOT TRUE because YES, people with $250k and SHOULD PAY MORE and it means NO EFFECT for them – nothing gets “really” hit at all. I live in New York City, I know these circles – making $250k is well above any limit where a little higher tax could cause lifestyle change.
    Don’t believe these propaganda lines, it’s nothing but rich trying to waste your tax dollars on fighting for tax breaks for themselves.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Interesting discussion. I’m a little surprised that no one’s mentioned the last time something similar happened… I believe cake was involved, a couple of royals got their heads cut off, and a short guy came in right afterwards and started land wars in Asia. Worked well, that did.

    Well… not so much Asia. But the point is there.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    k.amm

    As a small business owner, I can tell you two things that have been true for 33 years and counting. 1) my income varies from next to nothing up to very good thank you (oh, for the days of five year income averaging 2) when it comes to taxes, my profits are theirs (ie, the govt’s), my losses are all mine ($3K each year and a carry forward of the rest, what BS).

    Your $250k metric implies very different levels of prosperity in NYC/DC/LA versus flyover land. Perversely, the city-ites will be hurt more because of the ridiculous cost of living. OTOH, they probably voted for more services/more taxes, so they deserve what they get, good and hard.

    Lastly, you should look at who creates jobs in the economy before you slam small businesses.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Amen to all the statements with which I agree!

    Those who want to perceive urban unrest through ideological glasses should read Edward Banfield’s 1970/74 “The Unheavenly City,” especially the wonderful chapter “Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit.” It’s very readable. Banfield, bless his soul, was one of the few social scientists whose writing is in plain and clear English. Leftists don’t like his analysis because it points out rioting can be appealing because it’s exciting (like frat boys on a panty raid) and offers opportunities to get free TV’s.

    AKM, welcome to America. Hope you get to see more than New Jersey. Sorry about the immigration hassles. Unfortunately, our policy is to make legal entry difficult and illegal entry easy.

    Re: Castro — didn’t Forbes or some such outfit decide he’s a billionaire?

    Europe believes in incentives. Oops, I meant disincentives. My brother had a small company in Brussels that produced a magazine. He decided to hire a guy to sell ads. Big mistake! Not only was the salesman not paying for himself, it turned out the mandated costs of dismissing him would be huge. Luckily, the guy decided on his own to take another job. But after that experience, all personal services were obtained through short-term and revocable contacts.

    Living on the dole has its attractions. I read a sob story about a Belgian who had been out of university two-plus years and was still jobless and living on government benefits. It seems the law allowed her to refuse any employment offer outside her chosen field, which was sociology. I wonder if she ever found a job. Sociologists are in such short supply, and truly critical to a healthy economy.

  • avatar
    AKM

    AKM, welcome to America. Hope you get to see more than New Jersey. Sorry about the immigration hassles. Unfortunately, our policy is to make legal entry difficult and illegal entry easy.

    Ahah, thank you! Been there 6 years now, and explored quite a few places. Vacation time (or lack thereof) really is the biggest letdown in the country, along with the difficulty of procuring good cheese ;-)
    I’ve already paid about $2,000.00 (not counting lawyer’s fees) to become a permanent resident, and need to pay about the same for citizenship. Ouch. But you gotta do what you gotta do, and the country is not bad at all, overall. I certainly like the diversity of ethnicity and opinions, and well as the “can-do” attitude. The French are prone to complaining, but rarely do something about their condition.

    Living on the dole has its attractions. I read a sob story about a Belgian who had been out of university two-plus years and was still jobless and living on government benefits. It seems the law allowed her to refuse any employment offer outside her chosen field, which was sociology. I wonder if she ever found a job. Sociologists are in such short supply, and truly critical to a healthy economy.

    Sad but probably true. I’m planning on moving back with my wife, for family reasons, and am looking for jobs in France, not easy at the moment. Friends asked me why I simply didn’t come back and live on governments handouts. No way I could do that to my self-esteem…

  • avatar

    Geeber, it’s clear we disagree about the prevalence of racism in society, but I’m willing to let that sit. I must say I don’t think the current cultural and political structure in the US or anywhere else in the world, really, makes it acceptably possible to pull oneself from poverty. Libertarianism leads to greater and greater consolidation of both economic and cultural capital in the hands of the capable and well-connected few. Theoretical Marxism takes away any motivation to contribute to society beyond altruism, but in an ideal and impossible situation would lead to all individuals working on the same socioeconomic plane.

    Counting on the poor to bootstrap themselves from poverty once devoid of government assistance while the rich live in opulence will only lead to revolution, as it has time and time again throughout history. Telling poor French Muslims that their poverty and futility is all their fault will not stop them from burning cars in the streets. Taking away government aid would only lead to unimaginable unrest and increased violence. The only thing that will bring about peace is ensuring that everyone is provided with equal opportunities to get ahead, a truly equal education and a culture that truly values the contributions of all members. Of course, the members of the society must all be on the same page, which is why homogeneous countries seem to be the happiest, but that starts sounding like an anti-immigration, anti-progress argument, which history doesn’t look kindly upon.

    Every effort that can be made to provide the poor with opportunities to better themselves is an effort to the good. A society that treats the least of it’s members well opens itself to innovation from commonly ignored populations. If someone making $250,000+ a year has to pay $2-3000 more in taxes, I don’t think they are going to fall to pieces and run to the poorhouse, though they may have to put off buying that Porsche for a year. Conversely, put to good use, that $2-3k could provide life-changing tuition assistance to a poor young student or help build a library for the betterment of everyone or keep an extra police officer on the streets. Bootstrap economics doesn’t work when there are avaricious sharks running the government and voting themselves tax breaks. I agree that poor people generally make stupid decisions and screw themselves, I just think we should make every effort to ensure their children aren’t herded into the same lifestyle by dint of being born poor.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    OOPS! I am guilty of bad proof reading . . .
    I meant to say I am for both socialism and free enterprise.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    -

  • avatar

    It’s interesting that the same leftists that insist on the primacy of race when accusing the US of being a racist country or when otherwise pushing identity politics, switch gears and say that it’s all about poverty, not culture, when members of one of their anointed identity groups act badly. The numerous “physicians of death”, like the happily dispatched Rantisi of Hamas, the middle class and upper middle class origins of most of the 9/11 hijackers gives lie to the “it’s poverty, not culture” meme.

    At the risk of violating Robert’s rules of order here I must respond to qwerty’s rather pointed implication that I’m a bigot.

    # Qwerty :
    January 30th, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Yup, it’s all the evil muslims fault.

    Nice to know that bigotry is alive and well in the U.S.

    Compared to Europe, Africa and Asia, Americans are rank amateurs when it comes to bigotry or racism. Can anyone imagine a person of African descent being elected to head an Asian or European country? One of our resident lefties has waxed positive about Cuba above, but while Cuba has a very large Afro-Cuban population have you ever seen a Cuban official who was black?

    I’m not some anonymous internet scribbler. I ‘schreib’ under my own name and take whatever consequences may follow. You, on the other hand, post anonymously, tossing rhetorical grenades like “bigotry”, from your pseudonymous safe harbor.

    It’s not “bigotry” to say that the unrest in the lower class suburbs of France is related to a Muslim minority that has no interest in assimilating into French culture. I never said that Muslims were evil. Those Muslims who are committed to the Salafist/Wahabbi vision of Islam desire a world under Muslim dominion and it’s foolish to see them as different than any others who wanted to rule the world. The word islam, after all, doesn’t mean peace, it means “submission”. Of the three Abrahamic faiths, Islam is the only one that explicitly calls for the submission and subjugation of other monotheists who don’t subscribe to its creed. I don’t understand how it’s bigoted of me to point out something that is Quranic in origin and given authoritative status by the hadiths (extra-Quranic material attributed to “that crazy man” Mohammed and other early Muslim religious leaders). Unlike passages in the Talmud that Jew-haters like to cite (usually in error) or New Testament scriptures that atheists attack, the critique of Islam by folks like Robert Spencer and other anti-jihadists is specifically contextualized.

    Qwerty, I’d be happy to discuss this issue and our own bigotries with you, yours and mine. You can call me @ 248-632-6804 anytime but on the Jewish sabbath. You can man up and call me, or continue to lob potshots with your nom de blog.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The numerous “physicians of death”, like the happily dispatched Rantisi of Hamas, the middle class and upper middle class origins of most of the 9/11 hijackers gives lie to the “it’s poverty, not culture” meme.

    You’re either being disingenuous or just falling victim to inductive logic.

    The vast, vast majority of suicide bombers and foot soldiers, as well as the front-liners in groups like the IRA are relatively people, much like the front-line soldiers in the American armed forces are as well, by and large.

    The guys who flew planes into buildings, or mastermind attacks, or have big dollar amounts underneath their names on “Wanted” posters are the “bad guy” equivalents of the the intelligence agents and senior officers of legitimate nations.

    We’re talking about two different groups of people, here. Of course you’ll find exceptions, but there’s a reason why nastier senior operatives of terrorist cells pluck their flunkies from mosques in poor areas, and not from the shopping malls of Dubai, and why the US Army recruiters are far more active in the seedier malls of major American cities than in Beverly Hills or 5th Avenue.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Like brat children throwing a tantrum when mommy and daddy government tell them to clean their rooms. Don’t try to take the taxpayer’s teat from the French farmer’s mouth…They get really brutal…Like Bamm-Bamm.

  • avatar
    geeber

    AKM: Depending on the places…But the bureaucracy I have to go through to become an American is HELL compared to what my wife had to do to claim her French citizenship. And the Mexicans crossing the border may also disagree with you.

    What you are talking about is the process of becoming a citizen, which is different from the ability to succeed once one arrives in a particular country.

    I have no doubt, however, that you are correct that the U.S. process for gaining a green card and citizenship is more cumbersome. The U.S. government’s bureaucracy isn’t exactly noted for its efficiency.

    AKM: My sentence also referred to the concept of meritocracy, which, although highly praised in the U.S., is in fact LESS present than in Europe, according to a survey last year in The Economist.

    I saw that survey…and it seemed as though it not quite right. For example, if I recall correctly, it divided society into “bands” based on income, and the U.S. was penalized for having more levels of income.

    k.amm: Nonsense. It was Reagan who really started removing regulations all across the board – this is why we ended up with 5 media conglomerates who owns every bit of information, with monopolized cable provider areas etc and, of course, with this giant mess we are in now.

    Reagan didn’t remove regulations “across the board.”

    If you doubt that, please research the regulations covering automobile safety and vehicular emissions control in 1989, and compare them to regulations in place in 1979.

    He repealed two that I am aware of – the 5-mph bumper impact regulations, and the 85-mph speedometer rule. Those two weren’t exactly earth-shattering in their impact. The first was a good example of the law of unintended consequences – in crashes over 5 mph, those heftier bumpers RAISED repair costs. The second was a dumb idea, based on the “speed kills” nonsense – if we limit the speedometer to 85 mph, no one will be tempted to go any faster.

    The first President Bush signed into law amendments to the Clean Air Act that substantially strengthened the statute. He also signed into law the Americans With Disabilities Act. Both INCREASED govermment regulation of businesses. Businesses have spent lots of money to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    During the term of the latest President Bush, more regulations went into effect than at any time since the Nixon Administration.

    And your example of media consolidation is irrelevant. It is happening because of falling revenues brought about changes in viewer tastes and the rise of new technologies (internet, etc.).

    If you are relying on television news and the daily newspaper for your news, you are WAY behind the times.

    k.amm: Ohh, PLEAHHHHHSE – the “productive small business owner” – this is the most typical nonsensical centerpiece of the GOP propaganda I read every time when I come across their leaflets.

    Perhaps your real name is Teresa Heinz Kerry…?

    Do more reading, and you’ll find out which entities create more jobs. Hint – it isn’t large corporations. If you think that taxing small business owners will not hinder their ability to expand and create more jobs, you need to take ECON 101 so that you know what you are talking about.

    Either that, or actually run a small business. That tends to make libertarians out of many people…

    k.mm: This is simply NOT TRUE because YES, people with $250k and SHOULD PAY MORE and it means NO EFFECT for them – nothing gets “really” hit at all. I live in New York City, I know these circles – making $250k is well above any limit where a little higher tax could cause lifestyle change.

    You must have missed the New York magazine story about New York City residents going broke on six-figure salaries. And this was in the late 1990s, BEFORE real estate went crazy.

    Second, increasing taxes on small business owners doesn’t just cause a change in their lifestyles. It decreases their ability to invest in the business, which will enable it to grow (and possibly provide more jobs).

    kazoomaloo: A society that treats the least of it’s members well opens itself to innovation from commonly ignored populations.

    We have hardly been mistreating the poor in this country…if anything, they have been slightly coddled. When I see poor people talking on cellphones, listening to ipods and sporting numerous tatoos, I’m not inclined to think of them as “mistreated.”

    kazamaloo: If someone making $250,000+ a year has to pay $2-3000 more in taxes, I don’t think they are going to fall to pieces and run to the poorhouse, though they may have to put off buying that Porsche for a year.

    They are already paying substantial federal income taxes. And that extra $2,000 a year could be invested in the business.

    kazamaloo: Conversely, put to good use, that $2-3k could provide life-changing tuition assistance to a poor young student or help build a library for the betterment of everyone or keep an extra police officer on the streets.

    We already pay for police officers and libraries. If people are still willing to break the law or would rather watch soap operas than read a book, no amount of government aid will help them.

    kazamaloo: Bootstrap economics doesn’t work when there are avaricious sharks running the government and voting themselves tax breaks.

    The poor aren’t poor because of the amount of taxes paid by the rich. The simple fact is that they are poor because of their own behaviors and attitudes. I fail to see how taxing other Americans more will change the attitude of the poor in regards to education, obeying laws and delaying gratification.

    kazamaloo: I agree that poor people generally make stupid decisions and screw themselves, I just think we should make every effort to ensure their children aren’t herded into the same lifestyle by dint of being born poor.

    In which case, you’d have to take the children away from the parents and enroll them in some place like the Milton Hershey School. Otherwise, family influences will overwhelm any government aid.

    You seem to think that we are not spending anything on the poor. This is simply not the case. We have been spending billions to eradicate poverty since the mid-1960s. The poverty rate fell until about 1971, and has remained basically steady since that time. Obviously, that is not the answer. Taxing the upper income Americans to pay for more government spending represents more of the same, not some bold, new idea.

  • avatar
    menno

    A very quick comment, if I may.

    Heard an interesting story. A guy was growing up on a farm in the great depression. His father knew that a certain family had rented a small land holding and were very poor, so made arrangements to take his son, his team, some seeds and some horse drawn implements to go sow a garden for this poor family.

    The next fall, the man and son happened to be in the area, so stopped by for a social call, and asked how the garden had gone?

    “Was fine until the weeds got everything.”

    The poor shall always be amongst us.

    There are two types of people; do-ers and users.

    Do-ers generally aren’t poor, while users often are.

  • avatar

    geeber, this is a weird comment, and believe me I still disagree with your ideas on how to address the issue of poverty and whether racism plays a part in a person’s success, and I don’t expect to change your mind on anything, but must say I like your well-thought out responses (though I still certainly take issue with the conclusions!). I could spend a few more paragraphs expanding on my ideas, but I won’t for the present; suffice it to say we view the world very differently.

    I expect this thread will wrap up soon, and it probably should because it’s mostly headbutting, but I appreciate and respect your contributions… good show.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    psarhjinian – “the US Army recruiters are far more active in the seedier malls of major American cities than in Beverly Hills or 5th Avenue.”

    Possibly true but irrelevant. Beverly Hills and 5th Avenue are extreme outliers in any discussion of any sort.

    According to a RAND report, military volunteers are more intelligent than the general population, better educated than the last draftees, hail disproportionately from the South and are more professional – longer terms of service. Further, their ethnic representation is similar to that of the general population. I can’t lay my hands on another report that observes that at the sharp end of the spear people from the middle three family income quintiles are overrepresented, and the top and bottom are underrepresented. Another observation from that study was that senior non-coms including those in logistical positions were disproportionately minorities. The explanation was that from the time of Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces, the military has been a more just society for many of the intervening years until present when compared to society at large. I hope and believe that has been changing, considering the money spent and efforts made. It is a baseless canard to characterize the military as preying on the ignorant and disadvantaged.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Kazomaloo,

    Thank you. Your posts are reasoned and articulate.

    I have no doubt that you care deeply about America’s poor, and want to help them – and that is a good thing. I don’t believe we can abandon the poor.

    I think that, for some of us, the feeling is the same one expressed by my wife – she tries her best on the job, really wants the people she works with to succeed, but is exasperated by people who keep sabotaging their chances for a better life.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It is a baseless canard to characterize the military as preying on the ignorant and disadvantaged.

    I wish that was the case.

    On the positive side, the military offers a world of experience and resources, most very positive, for people who don’t have a lot of opportunity otherwise. I have a few colleagues whose post-secondary careers were largely funded through the Canadian Armed Forces, and they’re universally positive about the experience.

    But it’s also true that recruiting efforts are disproportionately directed at poorer areas if for no other reason than there’s a bigger market. I don’t feel comfortable with that; I don’t think that the military should be the last chance, or that.

    Rich people have a long and storied history of avoiding front-line military service in a greater proportion than the lower classes.

    Now this is an admitted side-track, and I realize I’m unintentionally equating western military service with some very bad people on the opposite side, which was very much not my intent. The point I did mean to make, and which I think is still valid, is that it’s easier to recruit people into service, for good or for ill, if they have no other economic opportunity.

  • avatar

    and why the US Army recruiters are far more active in the seedier malls of major American cities than in Beverly Hills or 5th Avenue.

    As a Canadian you are no doubt expert about US Army recruiters. While there may not be recruiting stations on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Ave. there is one right in Times Square, where retail space is among the most expensive in the country. Times Square hasn’t been seedy since before Rudy Giuliani was mayor. The Code Pink radicals don’t demonstrate in front of a recruiting station in nearby Oakland, they are upset about the one in Berkeley, where it no doubt enlists some number of UC Berkeley students. Berkeley and Ann Arbor may be bastions of left wing “progressive” thought, but they are not uniformly (no pun intended) so.

    I’m no expert about recruitment to the US armed forces, but I’ll go out on a limb and guess that I know more armed forces recruiters than you do. The son of some good friends who is also a close friend of my daughter is active duty Navy now assigned as a recruiter. I’ve been in the joint services recruiting center for the Detroit area, which is located in Troy, a middle and upper middle class suburb. My daughter has enlisted in the United States Navy, will go on active duty after she finishes her degree and most likely will go to OCS. She’s not joining the Navy because she’s poor and has no other options, as your post implies. She’s on the dean’s list and has had no shortage of job offers even in the worst economy Detroit has seen in my lifetime. She wants to serve and defend her country because she believes that the people and constitution of the United States are good and worth defending. We’ve discussed it and while she’s not thrilled that Obama will be her commander in chief, he will still be her president and her job will be to follow his military orders.

    I have no right, because of the gifts God has given me or because of the schools I’ve been fortunate to attend, to think that I’m superior to some 18 year old kid who joins the military to find himself or an opportunity for a materially better life. My rabbi teaches that gratitude is the most fundamental of obligations. I don’t care if that 18 year old is a high school dropout or an Ivy League graduate. They are defending me and my family, wearing a huge target on their back, taking fire so I won’t have to. For that they have my esteem, not my scorn.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I think that, for some of us, the feeling is the same one expressed by my wife – she tries her best on the job, really wants the people she works with to succeed, but is exasperated by people who keep sabotaging their chances for a better life.

    My father actually does similar work (though his clients are usually people with FAS or similar problems) and he’s shown the same sentiment. The point he’s made to me when I’ve made comments is that it’s very hard to get (or stay) judgemental with people who were screwed from birth.

  • avatar

    @psharninininjjininian: AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!

    -I HATE it when you’re right.

    Damn Commie. -ptui [spitting on ground]

    ++ I would add that Tribalism also is one of the major causes of suffering in the world.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: My father actually does similar work (though his clients are usually people with FAS or similar problems) and he’s shown the same sentiment. The point he’s made to me when I’ve made comments is that it’s very hard to get (or stay) judgemental with people who were screwed from birth.

    I can certainly understand that sentiment, but the ultimate goal should be to help them better their lives, so at some point they have accept this and resolve to do better.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    psarhjinian – you and I will continue to differ on what motivates people who volunteer for the military and where they come from and what their economic circumstances are. I found the analysis of family income of (parents, probably, of) volunteers for the military to be revealing. Wish I could get the cite for you.

    Military are not motivated solely by economics. An excellent example is the late and missed Sen. John Chaffee (not his goofy one termer Sen. kid). This man, whose family had money from decades and decades prior to his birth, led Marine riflemen in WWII and then again in Korea. He could easily have avoided either effort with a white shoe Pentagon job. See James Brady’s The Coldest War.

    We are all individuals, not easily categorized groups.

  • avatar

    The simple fact is that they are poor because of their own behaviors and attitudes.

    Geeber, while in general I agree with you, many people are born into poverty. I would amend your statement to say that people stay poor because of their own behaviors and attitudes.

    Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard shows how economic mobility is eminently possible in the US.

    As for investing $2000 in a business. I’m sure many people will say “that’s hardly enough capital to invest in a business”. Still, I just checked on eBay and $2000 will buy you maybe 4 industrial sewing machines. So that $2000 may actually represent much more economic growth because they’ll have to hire 4 people to operate those machines.

    Poverty certainly breeds crime in the sense that moral concerns will be put aside in the face of making money. Gangs, in a sense, are an economic opportunity. Still, poverty is not deterministic.

    I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the only real differences between people are the values they aspire to and how well they meet those values. As long as there is such a thing as free will, in a society with as much political and economic freedom as their is in the US (want to start a business with $2,000? Buy a beat up truck and some lawnmowers) poverty will not be an insurmountable barrier.

    Getting out of poverty is a relatively simple thing. Don’t have babies you can’t support and don’t waste the money you earn. Even if a family remains impoverished, the right values, the right culture will see that it shouldn’t last more than one generation. People indeed scrubbed floors and dug ditches so their kids could go to college.

    This is a rich country and nearly 100% of the people here waste money on something. If you’re serious about getting out of poverty, you eat oatmeal and tuna fish, not McDonalds.

  • avatar

    Going back to France and burning cars

    The average age of a Muslim in France is way, way, lower than the average white Frenchman/woman. The French have a very closed system when it comes to being white. I interviewed for jobs in Lyon and Grenoble, I am had at the time great qualifications, qualifications that should have got me into Hewlett Packard or Global SA. However the apprenticeship, qualification, unemployment restrictions etc etc are so weighted against the employer taking a risk that they will not employ a person of color, foreigner or anyone that is not the norm. The French system can break this barrier. Then the French education starves the poor quartier ecoles of cash and good teachers, and it is almost impossible to be a muslim and get into the National School of Administration.

    So France says to its fastest growing population, we wont educate you to get a job, we will not risk giving you a job and we will castigate you for not having one.

    All the talk of Muslims not wanting to integrate, or that it is a ‘poor’ problem is missing the point. The French are in denial.

    And also hogwash is buying sewing machines and setting up a business. Cloud cuckoo land. Setting up your own business is a huge, I mean, huge bureaucratic nightmare. Not only that the French system is so anti-small business you have to wonder why they exist in the first place. Add that to the fact that you educated poorly and the idea is a non-starter. It really gets my back up when an American tells a Cuban or a French Muslim, that all they need to make it in their country is hard work. Maybe if they lived there they could speak with a little more authority.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    We are all individuals, not easily categorized groups.

    Yes and no. People are easily categorized into groups. If they weren’t, things like “religion”, “sociology” and “marketing” wouldn’t work. People are social animals, and certain aspects of the way we work can be extrapolated to a macrosocial level.

    The trick is understanding that “people” and “the person” are different entities, and can only be influenced in different ways. There are patterns of behaviour that can be changed easily at the “people” level but are extremely difficult to do at the level of “person”, or vice-versa.

    For example, it’s all well and good to cite anecdotal evidence, or talk of bootstraps and personal responsibility and such (because it makes good copy) but you cannot scale that up to a societal level. This is what libertarians fail to understand. Socialists, by the way, have the same problem, but in a different direction: thinking that rules effective on the macroscopic level can be scaled down, which doesn’t work. A great deal of the ideological divide happens for this reason.

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    What a useless, futile exercise this discussion has been.

    You can argue what you like, and at the end of the day the problem is a young group of Muslims in France that is riddled with anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and a lack of real hardships that makes them think they’re “suffering” somehow. I wonder what the men who fought in the World Wars would say to this bunch of f-ing losers.


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