Thursday, July 08, 2010
Socialist Paradise NOT Crime-Free
A Reuters report by Estefan Israel about a Venezuelan slum infested with armed supporters of Hugo Chavez parrots their claim that, "crime rates here have dropped by 95 percent, ... turn[ing] it into one of the safest places in crime-ridden Caracas."
However, the very same article reports that:
Socialist stores sell milk and meat from recently nationalized producers at about a 50 percent discount. Residents do voluntary work, kids are encouraged to steer clear of drugs, and some youths have even joined a pioneer organization modeled on similar groups in Communist Cuba.The only remotely accurate part of the above vignette is the word, "producers." That's too bad, because the "crime stoppers" are being praised for cutting prices by half when they are, in fact, fencing stolen goods. And God help anyone who has come to their attention and is being "encouraged" to do anything at all. They have no more recourse to the benefits of their own thinking and effort than do the producers the thugs in the government steal from and forget about, as if they and their work grow on trees.
One almost wonders whether the same reporter, upon finishing dinner with a mob boss, would gush about how safe from mugging, gunfire, and hunger he felt during his meal. One does, that is, until one realizes that altruism provides ready excuses for everything Israel observed and acceptance of collectivism ritual cleansing for the numerous criminal acts committed or aided by the government that made the whole story possible.
Making Gaps for God?
Suppose you're a fundamentalist. Suppose you realize on some level that religion often takes root within gaps of knowledge. Suppose further you're writing a "science" textbook for home schooling.
Then you may well decide to pretend, with an assist from Immanuel Kant, that mankind knows nothing about electricity.
Electricity is a mystery. No one has ever observed it or heard it or felt it. We can see and hear and feel only what electricity does. We know that it makes light bulbs shine and irons heat up and telephones ring. But we cannot say what electricity itself is like.Note: I cannot verify to my satisfaction that the image I quote from above really is scanned from an actual textbook. That said, if this is a fake, chalk another one up to Poe's Law. I have seen the same basic method of fallacious reasoning being used before.
On the bright side, this "mystery," manufactured to provide a foothold for the "God of the Gaps," seems quite likely to backfire when used against any child whose curiosity doesn't get strangled altogether in the hands of whatever comprachico uses such rubbish to "teach" him.
The image is discussed more at Pharyngula.
Opportunity among the Ruins?
The slow, drawn-out death-by-statism of the city once known as the Arsenal of Democracy may yet provide what long-time regular Jim May has called "teachable moments." The city, for example, is in such dire financial straits that individual citizens are now performing certain "services" that municipal governments should never have started doing in the first place.
Across Detroit, do-it-yourselfers such as Mr. Edwards are rolling up their sleeves and opening up their wallets to provide basic services that the financially strapped city can no longer manage on its own, from boarding up vacant homes to mowing lawns to maintaining parks. In some areas, residents also partner with city agencies or look to philanthropies for help.Not only can this be done across the board, it should be. Furthermore, through such efforts (including any for profit) and in a political milieu of laissez-faire capitalism, there would never be a danger of there being a surplus of, say, parks, for any city. Demand would quickly find another, more productive use for the land.
Government Stops Oil Cleanup
Via HBL is a story in the Wall Street Journal that pretty much demonstrates that the Obama Administration is worse than useless in the containment and remediation efforts necessitated by the oil spill caused byBP's Deepwater Horizon industrial accident.
As the oil spill continues and the cleanup lags, we must begin to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. There does not seem to be much that anyone can do to stop the spill except dig a relief well, not due until August. But the cleanup is a different story. The press and Internet are full of straightforward suggestions for easy ways of improving the cleanup, but the federal government is resisting these remedies.Once again, the one thing the Obama Administration could do to best speed things along is the one thing it refuses to do: Get out of the way.
There is a saying I unfortunately don't recall -- perhaps I encountered it in The Art of War -- to the effect that in certain subtle disciplines or in types of situations demanding discretion, the greatest masters are unknown or at least unappreciated by most people.
An article about Spanish midfielder Xavi Hernandez reminds me a little of that saying.
He won't be the most high-profile player in Sunday's World Cup final against the Netherlands after helping Spain sink Germany in Wednesday's 1-0 semifinal victory. He won't even be the most famous player on his own team.I first noticed Xavi when he smoothly set up the goal in his team's defeat of Portugal, as seen in the embedded video.
And yet, the man simply known as Xavi is the finest soccer player on the planet right now and the most accomplished performer at this World Cup. Ahead of Messi. Ahead of Ronaldo. Even ahead of his Spain teammate David Villa, who has scored five goals to Xavi's none in South Africa.
Watch closely for him slipping the ball straight to Villa behind him. This was truly sublime in real time.