Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sprinting Towards Gomorrah

On July 1, 1987 President Reagan nominated Robert Bork for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Within minutes Edward Kennedy stood on the Senate floor to condemn the nomination and a new verb was born. According to Kennedy:

“Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.”

Bork’s sin was his “originalist” view of the Constitution, including his belief that it does not contain a general “right to privacy,” the shaky pillar upon which Roe v. Wade rests. The left wing vitriol against Judge Bork was so egregious that it gave rise to a new verb - to “bork” - which has been reserved for conservative nominees.
In 1991, at a conference of the National Organization for Women, feminist Florynce Kennedy addressed the importance of defeating the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. She said, “We're going to bork him. We're going to kill him politically. This little creep, where did he come from?” Fortunately for America, Thomas was confirmed and has been an outstanding Supreme Court jurist and stalwart defender of the Constitution.

What is it that infuriates liberals about Judge Bork, Judge Thomas or other judicial conservatives such as Samuel Alito or Janice Rogers Brown? Simply, that judges such as these have opposed the decline of American morals - what Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called “defining deviancy down” - that has been aided and abetted by the “Constitution as a living document” jurists on the Federal benches.

In 1988 Bork wrote Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, in which he argued that the rise of the Left in America has undermined the moral standards necessary for civil society. He condemned the defining characteristics of modern liberalism: radical egalitarianism (equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity) and radical individualism (nearly unlimited right to personal gratification). These bankrupt ideologies have led to bigger government, radical political correctness, quotas, unlimited abortion coupled with an abrupt rise in out-of-wedlock births, declining academic accomplishment, and attempts to redefine civic institutions such as marriage.

American culture has suffered as a result. In his eye-opening book Who Are We: The Challenges to America’s National Identity, Samuel P. Huntington points to a pervasive effort by elites in the judiciary, academia and the media to promote measures consciously designed to weaken America’s cultural and creedal identities. “These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history,” wrote Huntington.

One of the recent attacks on civil society is encompassed in a bill working its way through the California legislature. S.B. 572, which was approved 7-to-2 out of Senate committee, would institute “Harvey Milk Day” in honor of the openly homosexual San Francisco Board of Supervisors member who was murdered in 1978. The observances would recognize Milk's “accomplishments as well as the contributions he made to this state.” Furthermore the bill reads that “all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe and conduct suitable commemorative exercises.”

Randy Thomasson of
SaveCalifornia.com says this legislation designates another day to indoctrinate children in the tenets of homosexuality. He contends that the measure would “encourage public schools to positively portray to children any and all facets of homosexuality, bisexuality, and trans-sexuality -- and anything else that's in the closet.”

But - what of the vast accomplishments of Harvey Milk? If you saw the movie, even Sean Penn could not obscure the facts that Milk used his short time in office to hold homosexual pride parades, work on behalf of the homosexual agenda - including gay marriage and sexual experimentation - and oppose organized religion. Just the kind of guy you want school kids to emulate.

On the abortion front,
a recent Gallup poll found that, for the first time since the question began to be asked, the majority of Americans consider themselves to be “pro-life.” Fifty-one percent of those polled said that they were pro-life, and forty-two percent considered themselves pro-choice. The results are encouraging.

Yet in the fine state of California, your minor daughter has the right to an abortion without your consent or notification.
LA School District Examiner, Ericha Parks has identified the relevant CA codes:

Health and Safety Code Section 123450 states that “An emancipated minor may obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian.”

Education Code Section 46010.1 states that, “The governing board of each school district shall, each academic year, notify pupils in grades 7 to 12, and the parents or guardians of all pupils enrolled in the district, that school authorities may excuse any pupil from school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil's parent or guardian.”

I think Justice Bork would agree that the “slouch” has become a “sprint” and Gomorrah is in sight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sixty-seven, and Smarter than Paul Krugman

Whenever a public intellectual makes pronouncements on two subjects as diverse as science and economics in a single sentence it is probably prudent to check out his bona-fides. So who is this Paul Krugman, and is he really as smart as he thinks he is?

According to Wikipedia, Krugman (56) is an economist, columnist, intellectual, author, professor, Nobel Prize winner in Economics and op-ed columnist for The New York Times. Krugman says he was drawn to economics after reading Asimov's Foundation novels, in which the social scientists of the future use "psychohistory" in an attempt to save civilization.

According to the Nobel committee, Krugman “integrated economies of scale into explicit general equilibrium models.” The fact that consumers prefer a diverse choice of brands but that production favors economies of scale explains why Germany is successful at selling BMWs in Sweden while Sweden is successful in selling Volvos in Germany. This modeling of economic trade has come to be called “New Trade Theory.” Very impressive!

On the scientific side Krugman once wrote an essay called
'The Theory of Interstellar Trade' on computing interest rates on goods in transit near the speed of light. In it he considers the shipment of goods from Earth to the planet Trantor in a distant star system and the problem of evaluating capital costs on the goods when the time to ship them depends on the observer’s reference frame. [Gratuitous math example: If n is the number of years to ship the goods in the Earth-Trantor inertial reference frame, then the years aboard the space ship will be n times the square root of {1 – (v/c)2 } where v is the speed of the star ship and c is the speed of light.]

Thus, when Krugman proclaims on science and economics in The New York Times, most of us listen up: “So it is important to understand that just as denials that climate change is happening are junk science, predictions of economic disaster if we try to do anything about climate change are junk economics.” (5/1/09)

There are just a few things wrong with this pregnant sentence. In the first place, no one is denying that climate change is happening; it happens all the time. Most scientists even agree that global warming is happening, although is seems to have stopped for the last decade. The scientific debate is over the causes of the warming, and how much of it is anthropomorphic, that is, caused by Al Gore. The economic debate is over what to do about it, if anything. And those who warn of the economic dangers of doing too much are anything but junk economists.

Pete DuPont (Wall Street Journal, “Sapping America’s Energy”) warns that global-warming legislation sponsored by Democrats Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts would drive up the cost of everything. Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes that “Waxman-Markey would put big government in charge of how much energy people can use. It would be the biggest government intervention in people's lives since the second world war, which was the last time people had to have rationing coupons in order to buy a gallon of gas.”Through the mechanisms of cap-and-trade-and-tax, the legislation intends to make energy much more expensive and less available to consumers. Obama, himself, admitted that “cap and trade will cause electricity rates to skyrocket.” (
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xOxwW4Toio )

On the regulatory front, the Obama administration declared last Friday that carbon dioxide threatens the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency found that the emissions endanger “the health and welfare of current and future generations.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote in a memo to her staff that it is "the first formal recognition by the U.S. government of the threats posed by climate change.” No longer are we regulating lead and nitrous oxide and sulfur hexafluoride as deleterious to the environment – now the EPA is allowed to regulate the very gas we exhale with every breath. (See
PalosVerdesBlog, April 29, 2009).

But Krugman sees a green lining in all of this government intervention. If only we threaten to begin the emissions-tightening mandates two or three years from now, then businesses will be incentivized now to make massive investments in the green alternatives to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, our economist fails to connect the dots: who, pray tell, will pay for the massive investments? Who, who, who? Well you and I, of course, the consumers.

Yesterday, on my sixty-seventh birthday, Krugman struck again. “Wages are falling all across America” and those who are voluntarily accepting wage cuts in order to keep their jobs are just making things worse. Krugman explains that “the answer lies in one of the paradoxes that plague our economy.” When workers across the economy accept lower wages, “the result is higher unemployment.” Hmm??? He explains that if workers at every company earn less, then no company gains a competitive advantage, and there is no benefit to the economy.

But since when are lower wages the sole source of competitive advantage? What about BMW and Volvo and the advantages of their superior products, and the advantages produced by innovation and superior service and efficiency? It is as if Krugman is unaware of the competitive advantage that lowering corporate taxes on American firms would give them in the global marketplace.

We’ve seen in the past few months what FDR learned the hard way during the Great Depression - that stimulating a moribund economy by government spending is difficult and risky. Yet there is a sure fire way to increase wages, employment, innovation, business expansion and greatly improve the retirement funds of grandma as well as the grandkids. Simply reduce the corporate tax rate (“zero” being the ideal rate) thereby giving American businesses the competitive advantage that is the key to the benefits program. Instead, yesterday the President announced that he was closing tax loopholes for corporations and the New York Times applauded (while expressing concern that it “could put American companies at a competitive disadvantage… and “could even impede job creation in the United States.” Ya think?)

But, then, that must be ECO 101 material, not the stuff of Nobel Prizes or voyages to Trantor, or even psychohistory.