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Ambitious Failure

isis-terrorists

from National Review, Theodore Dalrymple writes Islam’s Nightclub Brawl to explain why such violent jihadists (interesting that spell check for jihadists comes up ‘sadists’) come from Britain.

Excerpts:

Are there more British jihadis, for example, because the condition of Muslims in Britain is worse than elsewhere? In answering this question it is well to remember that Muslims are not just Muslims and nothing else. The Muslims in Germany are mainly of Turkish origin; in France, of North African; and in Britain, of Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Any difference in their collective behavior, therefore, might be attributable to their origin as much as to the country of their upbringing.

The position of the Muslims in Britain is not “objectively” worse than that of their coreligionists in France; if anything, the reverse. It is considerably easier for a young Muslim man to obtain a job in Britain than in France, and social ascent is easier. Britain is more obviously a class society than France, but also more socially mobile (the two things are often confused, but are different). And there has been no legislation in Britain against the public use of that cherished Muslim symbol of male domination, the veil.

But failure is not necessarily easier to bear in a more open society than in a closed one: On the contrary, resentment is all the stronger because of the additional element of personal responsibility for that failure, actual or anticipated. In some ways, life is easier, psychologically at least, when you can attribute failure entirely to external causes and not to yourself or anything about yourself. The relative failure of Muslims (largely of Pakistani origin) is evident by comparison with Sikhs and Hindus: Their household wealth is less than half that of Sikhs and Hindus (immigrants at more or less the same time), and while the unemployment rate of young Sikhs and Hindus is slightly lower than that of whites, that of young Muslims is double. Sikh and Hindu crime rates are well below the national average; Muslim crime rates are well above. Racial prejudice is unlikely to account for these differences. Jihad attracts ambitious failures, including those who are impatient or fearful of the long and arduous road to conventional success. Jihad is a shortcut to importance, with the added advantage of stirring fear in a society that the jihadists want to believe has wronged them, but that they are more likely to have wronged.

HKO

An interesting observation.  It does make me wonder why we have not seen more of this behavior in Pakastini Muslims from the US.

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Is Inequality a Cause or an Effect?

Kevin Williamson writes What to Do About Wages in The National Review.

Excerpts:

The Left sees inequality as a cause of economic facts, not an effect of them. As EPI sees things, inequality is an independent actor, a motive force in world affairs: It is not only a “determinant” of economic conditions but “by far the most important determinant”; it has, under its own steam, “blocked living standards growth for the vast majority”; and it is “the key driver behind stagnant wages for workers at the bottom.” This is a deeply weird view of how the world actually works: The Left thinks that inequality is not a mere measure of relative incomes or wealth but something that does things in the world, something that acts — and not only acts but acts decisively, determining Americans’ economic prospects. This sort of flatly preposterous analysis is the unfortunate effect of mistaking the map for the territory and the model for the thing modeled, the kind of magical thinking that causes people to believe that Superman could turn back time by reversing the rotation of the Earth.

That leads to the sort of silly writing exemplified above, but it also leads to bad policy ideas. EPI is about as respectable an economic-policy outfit as the Left has to offer, but its preferred policy responses to wage stagnation are basically primitive: raising minimum wages, as though long-term prosperity could be brought about by congressional fiat; passing paid-sick-leave laws; and changing corporate governance and financial regulation in ways that would impede or discourage income growth among corporate managers and financial professionals, who along with the occasional professional athlete and movie star make up the top 1 percent. There is more magical thinking in that, too: There is no big bucket of “national income,” and $100,000 in forgone pay for a CEO or private-equity investors does not mean that there is an extra $100,000 sitting around available to be used as income for somebody else. We talk about the “distribution” of income, but that is a purely statistical idea. There is no distributor of income, and income cannot simply be moved from one pocket to another like wampum.

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Why Tax Cuts are Disproportionate

Kevin Williamson writes Blue Voodoo in National Review.

Excerpts:

 The cartoon version of conservative economic thinking — that we should subsidize gazillionaires in order to create work opportunities for yacht painters, monocle polishers, and truffle graters — is fundamentally at odds with the facts. The supply-siders may have wrong economic ideas, but they do not have those wrong economic ideas. President Ronald Reagan, for example, loved to boast of the number of poor and modestly-off Americans his policies had removed from the federal tax rolls entirely. George W. Bush promised that he’d take the poorest fifth of taxpaying U.S. households off the federal tax rolls; Heritage estimates that he succeeded in doing so for about 10 million low-income households.

One of the perverse consequences of conservatives’ success in lowering the federal income-tax burdens of those on the left half of the earnings bell curve is that we have finally arrived at the point where our critics are partly correct: Most conservative plans for tax cuts at this point in history do disproportionately favor the wealthy and the high-income, for the mathematically unavoidable reason that they pay a steeply disproportionate share of federal income taxes, making it very difficult to design a tax-cut plan that does not disproportionately benefit them. It’s hard to cut taxes without cutting them for the taxpayers.

HKO

The more progressive the tax system is the more that the economy is dependent on the wealthy and thus subject to the same volatility. Tax cuts will favor the rich if the lower income have paid no taxes.

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How Not to Improve Wages

Kevin Williamson writes What to Do About Wages in The National Review.

Excerpts:

There are basically three ways to raise incomes.

The first is through capital investment that raises the value of labor. But capital investment also replaces labor in many instances, and it is just as effective at raising the value of labor in overseas markets. And EPI’s analysts are correct to point out that in the United States wage growth has lagged behind productivity growth, suggesting that deeper investment may not be enough to really move Americans’ wages forward.

The second way to raise the value of labor is through education and the cultivation of skills. Here, EPI’s analysis seems to me grievously mistaken, emphasizing, as it does, that a four-year college degree has relatively little effect on many workers’ prospects: “The gap between wages near the top of the wage distribution and the middle (and, for that matter, between the very top and the top) has grown much faster since 1995 than has the wage gap between those with a four-year college degree and those with a high school degree. This suggests that rising demands for this credential cannot fully explain the growth in inequality.” What it really suggests is that a four-year degree is not a credential at all, and that markets are much better at sorting than are college-admissions committees and the teaching assistants who are entrusted with the grading. After a generation of complete and utter domination of the higher-education system by the Left, many four-year degrees are nearly meaningless, as are many advanced degrees. The evidence suggests that return on in-demand skills in fields such as technology and finance is very high.

The third way to increase the value of labor gets us right back where we started: bigger markets. Workers in fields that have benefited from more efficient international trade have thrived in many cases — but many have not. The so-called race to the bottom in wages is largely a myth — Audi is not going to move from Ingolstadt to Port-au-Prince — but globalization puts pressure on many U.S. workers’ wages, inevitably.

The problem facing conservatives, at least politically, is that the Left’s empty promises about the effects of minimum-wage hikes and the like strike many workers as more plausible than our story about tax and regulatory reform. And the real outcomes of the policies preferred by conservatives are uncertain, too. There are things we can and should do: Don’t have the developed world’s highest corporate income tax rate and its only non-territorial tax system. Don’t have a cumbrous and unpredictable regulatory apparatus that imposes more in compliance costs than U.S. firms pay in business taxes. Don’t entrust the education system to a self-serving cartel of bureaucrats that doesn’t get the job done. Don’t treat people who might be very prosperous welders and mechanics like losers because they don’t have an MFA from Third-Rate State. Don’t traffic in the superstition that wages at the bottom would somehow magically improve if wages at the top didn’t. Don’t structure your social-welfare system in a way that discourages work and eventual self-sufficiency.

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Terrorist Sponsored States

Excerpts from Destabilizer-in-Chief by Mario Loyola in National Review:

The Arab Spring began with great hope around the world. But the Arab Spring was no mere rebellion against authoritarian regimes. It was the crisis of legitimacy of the brittle Arab states that arose in the wake of decolonization. Whether it will leave behind something better or worse is a question on which the fate of the world in the 21st century greatly depends. Bush’s pro-democracy agenda to some extent anticipated the challenge for U.S. policy, propelled by a dark harbinger of things to come — the 9/11 attacks, which had revealed the ability of terrorist networks to wage war on a par with states. But the “Bush doctrine” seemed largely discredited by the time he left office, and Obama happily jettisoned it.

But he replaced it with nothing. The Syrian civil war has revealed the gaping lack of a consensus U.S. strategy to deal with the new global security environment. Even if Assad wins the war, it would not be a return to the status quo ante of a mass-torturing state-sponsor of terrorism. As Philip Bobbitt suggests in Terror and Consent (2009), the 21st century will replace the state-sponsor of terrorism with the terrorist-sponsor of states. In Lebanon, we have already witnessed the ascendancy of Hezbollah over the government. In Syria, as a result of the civil war, the Assad regime has become, and will continue to be, a pawn of Hezbollah and the Quds Force, which in turn increasingly dominates Iran.

In the Middle East we are witnessing a struggle between opposing terrorist networks for control of entire states. By withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, helping assure Assad’s victory in Syria, and failing to back Israel forcefully enough, Obama has empowered all the terrorist networks in the Middle East simultaneously.