Posted by on February 17, 2016

The Economist has recently run a special report on the young, concluding that the roughly 1.8 billion people in the world between the ages of 15 to 30 are an “oppressed minority.”  The report identified a number of policies that harm the interests of the young.  Most of them belong to the Left.  Someone should tell them to stop voting for their oppressors.

Pensions and health care, the quintessential liberal policies, result in a massive transfer from the young to the relatively wealthier old; as I have pointed out before, Obamacare has added to the burden.  These governmental transfers of wealth from the young to the old have become so large in some countries that they are greater than the traditional intra-familial transfers heading in the opposite direction.  A recent study of 23 countries found this pattern in five of them (Germany, Austria, Japan, Slovenia and Hungary).  This is unprecedented in the roughly 200,000-year history of homo sapiens and it can only get worse as populations age.

The next is restrictive job policies, another proud accomplishment of the Left.  These favor those who are already employed and marginalize the new entrants to the workforce.  They are a major factor behind a youth NEET percentage – “not in employment, education or training” – that is typically twice that of older generations.  If the Democrats succeed in getting a big increase in the national minimum wage – the policy that Milton Friedman rightfully called “a tax on the young and unskilled” – then this will be another nail in the coffin of youth employment.

As I have discussed at length before, restrictive land use policies are very detrimental to those who don’t already own a home.  The young overwhelmingly fall into this category.  Although the Left is not exclusively responsible for these policies, the fact that blue states (such as California, New York and Massachusetts) have some of the most restrictive policies, while red states (such as Texas and Utah) have some of the loosest, tells you which end of the political spectrum is the primary driver.

The poor quality and high cost of education is another factor.  Most liberals would claim that the blame for this lies with the niggardly fiscal policies of conservatives.  I beg to differ.  The biggest impediment to improving K12 education in America is the lack of choice and meritocracy, which result from left-wing collusion with teachers’ unions and the refusal of the politically correct to demand performance and appropriate behavior from students.  As I have pointed out before, the financial support provided to higher education in the US has largely leaked into higher tuition costs and the indiscriminate nature of this support has produced cadres of graduates with no employable skills but large amounts of debt.  The young can thank the Left for all of this.

Restrictions on movement are the last item identified by The Economist.  The young are much more mobile and therefore better positioned to improve their lot through migration.  The restrictions on their movement, both international and national (with the article citing a UN study that found 80% of countries have policies to reduce rural-to-urban migration, the most famous being China’s hukou system), are an assault on the young unleased from all parts of the political spectrum.

And then there is the one The Economist left out.  Sovereign debts.  The burden of these debts, overwhelmingly taken on to support current consumption, will fall to the young.  This has also been a bipartisan effort, with a high-spending welfare-warfare state that draws support from both liberals and conservatives.  But at least the conservatives usually feel guilty about it, whereas liberals usually think that fiscal deficits deserve Keynesian applause.

With this litany of destruction, one really has to wonder why, around the world, the young flock to left-wing banners.  Turkeys usually have the intelligence not to vote for Thanksgiving.  But, in defence of the young, the birds haven’t had left-wing teachers drilling a love of roast turkey and all the fixings into their head since a young age.

The PC Crowd Does Not Shave With Ockham’s Razor

The winner of the dumbest article of the week goes to a recent piece in Bloomberg entitled “Most People Don’t Think There’s a Gender Pay Gap at Work.”  This article reports the results of a study done for the employment website Glassdoor, which surveyed over 8,000 employees in seven different countries, including the US.

The study found that 89% of the respondents felt that men and women should be paid equally for equal work, so the message has certainly gotten across. The study also found that 78% of the male respondents and 60% of the female respondents reported that, in fact, this is the case.

Asked to comment about this, Susan Duffy, the head of the Center for Woman’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College, said “[t]he challenge of changing the gender pay gap is that people don’t think they’ve experienced it firsthand.”

This is one of the purest statements of left-wing condescension that I have ever seen.  The simplest explanation for this result – that there is no gender pay gap – cannot possibly be right.  No.  The respondents must be suffering from a delusion.

When they see studies like this, officious imbeciles like Susan Duffy must nearly despair of their ability to save us.  One wonders why they even try.

North Korea

North Korea is back in the news big time, with a claim (almost certainly false) to have detonated a hydrogen bomb and a recent satellite launch which is a thin veneer for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (“ICBM”).

The question in all of this is “where is China”?  The conventional wisdom is that China is the adult supervision in the neighborhood that should be reining in the “third fatty” (as Kim Jong Un is known in Chinese blogging circles).  A recent article in The Economist highlights the economic leverage that China has over the hermit kingdom.  Bilateral trade between the two countries accounts for 90% of North Korea’s total.  China supplies nearly half of the country’s food, seven-tenths of its oil and four-fifths of its consumer goods.  I have to believe that much of this is supplied on credit.

But the same article points out that the growing US-China dispute over the South China Sea may stand in the way of a united front over North Korea.  Or, at least the Chinese might be trying to use this as leverage.  The article quotes a Chinese official as telling a visiting South Korean that “[i]t is impossible to co-operate fully on the Korean peninsula so long as the United States continues to engage in provocative behaviour (sic) in the South China Sea.”  Although this is largely self-serving bullshit, China has always viewed North Korea as a buffer between it and the US troops stationed in South Korea.  At times of tension, the value of the buffer increases.

Unlike so many of the phantom menaces offered by the politicians, I believe that a nuclear-armed North Korea with ICBMs is a genuine threat to America’s security.  (Even the resolutely non-interventionist Pat Buchanan has recently written that “North Korea, which just tested another atomic device and a long-range missile, is indeed a threat to us.”)  I also believe that, more than 60 years after the end of hostilities and with South Korea having a population twice the size and an economy about 30 times the size of North Korea’s, there is absolutely no reason why the US needs to keep 26,000 troops in the south.

So, why don’t we try the following deal?  The US will begin a staged withdrawal of its troops, giving South Korea ample time to assume 100% of its defence, in return for China stepping on North Korea and shutting down its nuclear and ICBM programs.  This would be a major win from the standpoint of America.  It should also be acceptable to the Chinese, particularly if we tell them that, if they don’t control the third fatty, then we might be forced to do it in a way that would be thoroughly unpleasant for all concerned.

Hillary’s Cribs: A Quick Lesson in Clintonian Hypocrisy

Here is a short video about Hillary Clinton that has over 1.5 million views on YouTube.  Let’s hope it keeps going.  Watch the looks on these young faces when they realize just how effectively Bill and Hillary have monetized their careers in “public service.”

I May Agree with Trump on Something (If I Could Only Figure Out What He Is Saying)

Josh Rogin at BloombergView has published an article entitled “The Trump Doctrine Revealed” which discusses conversations that Rogin has had with some of Trump’s policy advisors.  Rogin summarizes these conversations in the following paragraph:

The practical application of that doctrine plays out in several ways. Trump’s narrow definition of “national interest” does not include things like democracy promotion, humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect people from atrocities or the advocacy of human rights abroad. Trump believes that economic engagement will lead to political opening in the long run. He doesn’t think the U.S. government should spend blood or treasure on trying to change other countries’ systems.

Trump also made some noises in this respect at the latest Republican debate in South Carolina.

This is certainly an improvement on the neo-conservative bellicosity displayed by the other Republican candidates now that Rand Paul is out of the race.  However, I have a hard time squaring this with, for example, Trump’s oft-repeated promise to “do such a number on ISIS” (whatever that means).  But maybe I just have an old-fashioned expectation of some kind of coherence from Trump.

Movies

Why is everyone raving about The Big Short?  With the possible exception of Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of the preening Jared Vennett, the characters are at best uninteresting and at worst positively grating.  The story and dialogue are tedious and unmemorable; I walked out of the cinema without a single scene or line of dialogue in my mind.  And the gimmicks, like the side-bar technical discussions or the use of jenga blocks, are uninformative and unamusing.  (Why, for example, is pairing behavioral economist Richard Thaler and Justin Bieber’s former squeeze Selena Gomez at a gambling table funny?  Even for the 0.0001% of the population who knows who Thaler is?)  Maybe it’s just because this is all old hat to me and therefore I can’t appreciate its cleverness.  Or maybe it’s because the movie is massively overrated since it allows the smug morons of Hollywood to pretend that they actually understand something they are criticizing.  For once.

At the opposite end of the scale is Deadpool.  At last, this is a foul-mouthed, wisecracking super hero that you can actually like, even more so than the last possible contender, Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man.  I may have to see this a second time to get all the jokes.  A strong recommendation for everyone but my mother.

Roger Barris

Weybridge, United Kingdom

 

I WISH THAT I HAD SAID THAT (AND SOMETIMES NOT) ….

“Blaming ‘greed’ for financial crises is like blaming gravity for a plane crash,” by various libertarian bloggers

“If the senator can find in Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]…any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not there,” by Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey during the debates over the Civil Rights Act of 1964, whose stomach in lucky that he died before the legal doctrine of “disparate impact” was devised

“Has anyone told him that socialism is a bad thing?,” a Cuban secretary quoted in The Economist when asked about Bernie Sander’s candidacy, proving that she is smarter than he is

“When I’m in charge, we’re going to have a fence.  It’s going to be 20 feet high.  It’s going to have barbed wire on the top.  It’s going to be electrified.  And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying “it will kill you – Warning,” by Herman Cain, during his failed bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2008, proving that not only is Trump unhinged, he is also unoriginal

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