Deeply Political Vaccine Mandates


Charles Lipson offers rich insights into the current controversy over proposed federal vaccine mandates.  Kudos for providing historical context and perspective in this confusing time.  His article at Real Politics is The Deep Politics of Vaccine Mandates.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The debate over President Biden’s vaccine mandates has focused, understandably, on the tradeoff between individual rights to make medical choices and the potential harm the unvaccinated pose to others. That tradeoff is unavoidable. It is simply wrong for Biden to say, “It’s not about freedom.” It is. It is equally wrong for some Republican governors to say it is all about freedom. It’s also about the external effects of each person’s choice. To pretend that tradeoff doesn’t exist is demagoguery. But then, so is most American politics these days.

What’s missing or underappreciated in this debate?

The most important thing is that the Biden administration’s “mandate approach” is standard-issue progressivism. The pushback is equally standard. The mandates exemplify a dispute that has been at the heart of American politics for over a century, ever since Woodrow Wilson formulated it as a professor and then president. That agenda emphasizes deference to

    • Experts, not elected politicians,
    • Rational bureaucratic procedures,
    • Centralized power in the nation’s capital, not in the federal states, and
    • A modern, “living constitution,” which replaces the “old” Constitution of 1787 and severs the restraints it imposed on government power.

Implemented over several decades, this progressive agenda has gradually become a fait accompli, without ever formally amending the Constitution. The bureaucracies began their massive growth after World War II and especially after Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives of the mid-1960s (continued, with equal vigor, by Richard Nixon).

The judicial shackles were broken earlier, when Franklin Roosevelt threatened to pack the Supreme Court in 1937. Although FDR never followed through, his threat did the trick. The justices yielded to his pressure and began rubber-stamping New Deal programs that, until then, they had rejected as unconstitutional. Gradually, the older judges retired and Roosevelt picked friendly replacements. These judicial issues have reemerged now that progressives no longer dominate the Supreme Court. They are again threatening to pack the court and demanding that today’s justices stick with precedents set by their progressive predecessors (“stare decisis”).

The pushback against vaccine mandates is partly a debate about these progressive issues concerning the president’s authority and constitutional strictures. Mandate opponents say the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to impose these requirements, at least beyond its own workforce. They add that, if the president does wish to impose new rules, he and his executive agencies must go through the normal regulatory process. That process is slow — indeed, too slow to cope with an emergency.

Biden himself seemed to recognize these constitutional limitations before deciding to ignore them — the second time he’s done so in his brief presidency.

That’s a very troubling development, even if the courts overrule his decisions. The first time was his fiat decision to extend the moratorium on rent payments, which had been imposed during the worst days of the pandemic. Biden explicitly stated his unconstitutional rationale: It would take the courts time to rule against him and, until then, he could implement the policy. Of course, he also had a political rationale: to placate his party’s far left, which had mobilized over this issue.

Biden’s extension on the rent moratorium had a second, troubling dimension. It was promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control as a “public health issue.” That was a transparently false rationale in summer 2021 and dealt with housing issues far beyond the CDC’s expertise. The unintended consequence of the moratorium extension, beyond bankrupting small landlords, is to undermine the basic rationale for all progressive rulemaking: that the rules are being made by experts who know much more about their specialized area than do ordinary citizens or their elected representatives. What, pray tell, do experts on infectious disease know about the complexities of the U.S. housing market? Zero.

Progressive politics depends on public acceptance that experts really know what’s best and that their decisions will produce good outcomes. But trust in experts has collapsed alongside trust in all American institutions over the past half-century. The turning point was the disastrous war in Vietnam, advocated by LBJ’s Harvard advisers and the Whiz Kids in Robert McNamara’s Pentagon. Their failure was captured in the title of David Halberstam’s 1973 bestseller, “The Best and the Brightest.” The calamitous Afghan withdrawal underscored Halberstam’s sarcastic point.

So did the failure of so many Great Society programs, begun with such hope and fanfare.

The most painful experience was “urban renewal,” especially the massive program of building high-rise towers for welfare recipients. Before those towers were torn down, they had destroyed two or three generations of families. Part of the tragedy was that, like so many federal programs, the towers were built everywhere at once. If they had been tried out in a few cities, the problems would have been obvious, the failures remedied or the program abandoned. But Washington almost never does that. Congress funds and the bureaucracies implement mammoth, nationwide programs with no opportunity for feedback or mid-course corrections.

As public mistrust of institutions grew, a few institutions initially escaped the scorn. The military, for instance, was highly regarded until recently. It will take a heavy blow from the Afghan failure and the new, high-priority program of ideological training for troops. Government health officials were also highly regarded, at least until the botched rollout of Obamacare and the scandals at Veterans’ Affairs hospitals. Still, the public trusted the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci at the beginning of the pandemic. They trust them far less today, thanks to false and misleading statements, secrecy about funding the Wuhan virology lab, the absence of clear guidance on many issues, and blunt regulations that ignore important variations, such as natural immunity.

The effect of this growing mistrust was painfully apparent in President Biden’s mandate announcement. He didn’t rely on persuasion or trust in federal experts. He hectored, demonized, shamed, politicized, and threatened. That has become his routine, along with his refusal to answer the public’s pressing questions.

Biden’s political problem is that he faces real resistance from voters if he can’t solve the COVID problem, both because it is so serious and because he ran on being able to handle it better than Trump. Since Biden’s speech last week spent a lot of time attacking Republican governors, it was also an exercise in preemptive blame-shifting, in case the mandates fail.

His approach makes political sense, but it has at least two problems beyond the constitutional questions. One is that it politicizes vaccinations, which could have unintended consequences. Among the most obvious, it shifts the issue away from doctors and public health professionals and into the contentious political arena. Another is that it raises questions about the administration’s hypocrisy. Why do all federal employees, including those with natural immunity, need to get vaccinations but not the illegal immigrants arriving from Central America? That’s clearly a political decision, not a medical one, and it undermines the legitimacy of Biden’s whole approach, which stresses public health and medical experts.

The president’s speech had another major feature: It relied on vitriolic “wedge politics.” But Biden was elected partly because he promised to end the vitriol and divisiveness of the Trump years. He hasn’t done that. The poster child for his tendentious governing strategy is the second, $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill. Not only does it have no Republican support, it has met serious resistance from centrist Democrats.

On his signature spending bills, like his vaccine mandates, Biden is pursuing a unilateral, aggressively partisan approach.

There’s no question the delta variant poses serious health risks and that, in general, vaccinations help both the individuals who get the jab and everyone around them. But there are serious questions about whether sticks or carrots are the best way to increase vaccination rates; how to convince people to get the vaccine now that trust in public-health experts has eroded; whether politicizing the issue is self-defeating; and what authority Washington has to impose mandates beyond its own workforce. The questions about the federal government’s authority — its effectiveness, its constitutionality, and its potential overreach — are among the most important in American politics. They have been for a century, and they won’t be resolved anytime soon.

Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security. He can be reached at charles.lipson@gmail.com.

 

 

Twitter an Unreliable Means of Discourse

Jack Butler writes an article The Myth of the Red Pill in the National Review.  I won’t go into all the nuances and various meanings attached to being redpilled, blue- or blackpilled, but want to reblog his discussion about how cyberspace is now awash with tweets from people, left and right, who believe they and they alone are “woke” in either the progressive, post-modern sense, or the opposite. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Adherents believe that their apparent online numbers, purportedly sophisticated ideas, and supposed influence in real-world politics point both to their being correct and the emerging conservative paradigm. All of these things are hard to measure, not just because of the amorphous quality of online interaction, but also because of the many layers of irony and memery in which believers conceal themselves. Still, it is undoubtedly true that none of this would have happened at all without the Internet. This fact is often interpreted favorably: The nature of physical reality, it is claimed, makes the kind of conversation they want to have ever harder, so anything worth saying is now being said digitally.

But the Internet is at least as much of a constrictor of thought for the redpilled as it is a facilitator, if not more so.

Many of the redpilled think of themselves as possessing a kind of unique energy, unavailable to the rest of the Right. It is quite easy to convince yourself of that if you spend all day marinating in carefully curated digital environments, associating mostly with people who agree with you, and letting your real-world interactions, such as they are, be flavored either actively or passively by your experiences online. Insularity is an ancient human temptation, one the Internet has, surprisingly, exacerbated.

The Internet may have begun with the promise of freewheeling sharing of information and interaction, but in the realm of the redpilled, Twitter is a place for collectivized, digital mass action. Believing that tweets are a serious and desirable form of political activism, they glory in the dopamine rush of likes and retweets, call for ratios of opinions they deem unacceptable, and take all of these things as signs that they are advancing their cause instead of adding tiny bits of ember to a fiery digital hellscape.

There are some things worth remembering about Twitter.

According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, 22 percent of Americans use Twitter daily. In 2021, Twitter itself measured 199 million daily active users on the site. This sounds like a lot, but only 38 million of those users are in the U.S. (11 percent of our population). By this measure, Twitter’s total active user base is about 2.5 percent of the world’s population. Pew’s 2019 estimate also says that 80 percent of tweets come from 10 percent of users. One study estimates that anywhere from 9 to 15 percent of Twitter users are bots; 66 percent of all links on Twitter come from bots. All of this speaks to a world that is not merely self-referential but also self-reinforcing. It sucks people in, convinces them that it is normal, and then brings out the worst in them as they engage in futile conversations that are hopelessly skewed by unrepresentative samples of human beings and disguised machines.

Like much of modern media, Twitter shrinks our attention spans while bombarding us with things we might not otherwise have ever known or cared about and on which we have no influence. This is to say nothing of the political slant of Twitter. As Brian Riedl put it (in a tweet; Twitter has its uses), “Twitter users are D+15 — which would tie HI & VT for the most liberal state . . . the 10% of Twitter users who post 92% of all tweets are D+43 — which would make it America’s 2nd most liberal House district.”

This skew can breed, in those who believe it to be representative, a highly agitated and combative posture.

It can make them think that America is already lost; this is called a “black pill” (the pill boxes of the redpilled are overflowing). It can make them believe that persuasion and workaday politics are inadequate to the moment, that only desperate action, often involving a departure from the constitutional order necessitated by the one already undertaken by opposing political forces, can bring any hope of salvation. It can make them believe that the political sphere is or should be a source of salvation — if only their enemies can be crushed. And so it can make them believe that only a countervailing force, similarly drawing strength from the online world and sharing many of its opponents’ attributes, can possibly contest it. In this way, the hyperpolarization and acute antagonisms of Twitter feed off each other, require each other, and may in fact reflect each other. Some of what happens on Twitter may be somewhat indicative of the real world. But there’s also the fact that Tay, Microsoft’s AI Twitter account whose personality was formed from Twitter interactions, within a day became a suicidal, sex-crazed, Nazi teenage girl. So much for reflecting reality.

The point of the original red pill in The Matrix was to escape an artificially created digital world. But now, redpilling is a phenomenon that depends on digital interactions. It also deceives its adherents about reality itself, discoloring or even discouraging their existence in the physical world. It is from this key inconsistency that so many of their fallacies flow — not least of which is their compulsive use of online platforms that they deem so pernicious they need to be regulated differently, broken up, or destroyed. Many of us nowadays struggle to restrain our use of technology. But that problem will not be solved by pretending that digital oversaturation is a virtue rather than a vice. Those who have trouble regulating themselves in this sphere make a curious authority for how to regulate it in society.

There is nothing magical about the online world. Like tools throughout mankind’s history, it can be used for good or evil ends. Facilitating communication, simplifying access to information — such things have their uses. But the test of something’s verity is not whether it goes viral. And as a digital form of gnosticism, redpilling has plenty of other defects that have weakened its utility. For one thing, as Shullenberger notes, it now exists in a kind of knowing game with its opponents: “The bluepilled regard the redpilled as deluded by misinformation, while the redpilled regard the bluepilled as dupes of the establishment.” Clearly, viewing the world as trapped in a digital binary is a dead end.

Whatever usefulness the red pill may once have had as a metaphor, it has now become a cliché at the same time that it has become a kind of twisted faith. It does not liberate its believers but rather constrains them, trapping them in digital worlds of their own creation. There are superior forms of conservatism, ones that appeal to reason and to more reliable forms of knowledge and authority. Curious minds would be better served letting the redpilled send themselves down endless rabbit holes, and instead pursue forms of learning and action that have a bit more to do with the world above the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covid19–You’re Safer than You Think

The political and media messaging about the coronavirus prevents the citizenry from connecting the dots and realizing how fear is exaggerated in order to impose social controls.  Let’s put the pieces together.

1.  Natural Immunity is as Good or Better Than Vaccine Immunity

Michael Nadler explains at American Thinker Director of the National Institutes of Health grossly misstates the science on vaccination vs. natural immunity.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

On the August 12, 2021 Special Report, Bret Baier asked NIH director Francis Collins: “Can you definitely say to somebody that the vaccine provides better protection than the antibodies you get from actually having had COVID-19?”

Dr. Collins replied to Bret and the almost 2 million viewers of Special Report:

“Yes, Bret, I can say that. There was a study published by CDC just ten days ago in Kentucky, and they looked specifically at people who had had natural infection and people who had been vaccinated and then ended up getting infection again. So what was the protection level? It was more than two-fold better for the people who had had the vaccine in terms of protection than people who had had natural infection. That’s very clear in that Kentucky study. You know that surprises people. Kind of surprised me that the vaccine would actually be better than natural infection. But if you think about it, it kinda makes sense[.] … That’s a settled issue.”

I was one of those who did find this quite surprising, given my familiarity with studies such as this one from the Cleveland Clinic and my basic understanding of how immunity is conferred by mRNA vaccines versus the natural immunity arising from prior infection.

However, based on the unequivocal statement on national TV by Dr. Collins, a highly respected scientist leading one of our nation’s pre-eminent public health agencies, that the issue is settled, I adjusted my thinking about vaccine immunity versus natural immunity from prior infection.

Fast-forward to the following night’s Special Report to watch and listen to Admiral Brett Giroir, former assistant secretary for health during the Trump administration while concurrently serving in several other public health positions. Dr. Giroir responded to a question about the confusion that arose from Dr. Collins’s conversation on Special Report the night before. He pointed out that Dr. Collins’s statement the previous night about the superiority of vaccine immunity over natural immunity and his citation of the Kentucky/CDC study as evidence were “factually incorrect.”

It is worth watching the whole conversation, but key points made by Dr. Giroir include the following:

It has not been shown that natural immunity, the immunity you have after infection, is any inferior to the immunity you have after vaccination. And, in fact, there is growing evidence that natural immunity lasts a long time and is highly protective against infection and hospitalization[.] … The study that Dr. Collins quoted did not have anything to do with people who had been vaccinated or who had natural immunity. What it proved [is] that if you were previously infected, your chance of getting COVID in the middle of Delta in Kentucky was about 1 in a thousand to get COVID again. If you got vaccinated that dropped it to 1 in 2500 so that’s a reduction but still your risks were very, very low[.] … This does not deal with people who were naturally immune vs. vaccinated. That’s a whole different question and it begs the question about whether you have antibodies, is that as good as being vaccinated? And the data right now pretty much say it is.

To clarify, the CDC published a report on a Kentucky study of people who had previously been infected with COVID-19. The study addressed the question of whether being vaccinated after already being infected provides additional protection; and the findings suggest that vaccination does provide additional protection when added to immunity provided by previous natural infection. But Dr. Collins relied on this study to make a definitive statement in response to an entirely different question: whether vaccination of people who were not previously infected provides better protection than does immunity obtained from previous infection. This study sheds absolutely no light on that question.

Given the factually incorrect statements made by the head of the NIH on national TV, we are left to wonder how much we can trust about what our highest-level public health officials tell us. And when they do mislead us, is it intentional, is it carelessness in communications, or is it because they are mistaken in their understanding of the science? In the case of Dr. Collins’s statement on Special Report, all but the most cynical have to conclude it is the third.

This then raises the question as to how such an eminent scientist can get it so wrong. This is a much tougher question to answer without discussing the issue directly with Dr. Collins. I would speculate that we have a case of confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. What might the source of this bias be?

The Biden administration has made vaccination numbers a key measure of its progress in leading the fight against COVID-19, as it should. However, in order to keep the public focused on vaccination as a universal necessity, and in its apparent approval of vaccine mandates, the public health bureaucracy has been quite conspicuous in minimizing any mention of the role, effectiveness, and extent of natural immunity arising from previous infection.

According to a number of outside experts such as Marty Makary, “[r]equiring the vaccine in people who are already immune with natural immunity has no scientific support.” So as part of the public health bureaucracy which is invested in President Biden’s objective of universal vaccination, Dr. Collins might easily have misread the Kentucky/CDC study as strong evidence that natural immunity is not nearly as effective as vaccination.

In this regard, I don’t hold the CDC blameless. For example, I’m not sure if the CDC has even acknowledged studies like the one at the Cleveland Clinic showing strong protection due to natural immunity arising from previous infection. And particularly after Dr. Collins’s misreading, it would behoove the CDC to add a statement in the Summary or Discussion sections of its report on the Kentucky study making it clear that it does not address the question of the relative effectiveness of vaccination vs. natural immunity.

2.  One of Three Americans Have Natural Immunity

Columbia Public Health published this report One in Three Americans Already Had COVID-19 by the End of 2020.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Undocumented Infections Accounted for Estimated Three-Quarters of Infection Last Year

A new study published in the journal Nature estimates that 103 million Americans, or 31 percent of the U.S. population, had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 by the end of 2020. Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers modeled the spread of the coronavirus, finding that fewer than one-quarter of infections (22%) were accounted for in cases confirmed through public health reports based on testing.

The study is the first to comprehensively quantify the overall burden and characteristics of COVID-19 in the U.S. during 2020. The researchers simulated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within and between all 3,142 U.S. counties using population, mobility, and confirmed case data.

The portion of confirmed cases reflected in the study’s estimates, i.e. the ascertainment rate, rose from 11 percent in March to 25 percent in December, reflecting improved testing capacity, a relaxation of initial restrictions on test usage, and increasing recognition, concern, and care-seeking among the public. However, the ascertainment rate remained well below 100 percent, as individuals with mild or asymptomatic infections, who could still spread the virus, were less likely to be tested.

“The vast majority of infections were not accounted for by the number of confirmed cases,” says Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “It is these undocumented cases, which are often mild or asymptomatic infections, that allow the virus to spread quickly through the broader population.”

Comment:  

A person infected but without enough viral load to be sick is not likely to be contagious.  The exception is the first few days for someone who goes on to be severely ill afterward. All of these people (infected but not “cases”) had immune systems that stopped the virus from replicating in their bodies.  Ironically, had they been subjected to PCR tests, they would have shown as positives, and then mislabeled as “cases” despite their wellness.

Because of the political drive to vaccinate everyone, the powers-that-be deny that nearly a third of the population is already blessed with immunity without being vaccinated.  And this goes without considering the evidence that youngsters’ immune systems are superior to adults when it comes to coronaviruses (SARS-CV2 being the fifth one in circulation).  Superior here means preventing illness severe enough to be life-threatening, or to require hospital or extended care.  Neither vaccines nor natural immunities prevent infections, only limit the effects to runny noses and/or coughs.

For a discussion of natural immunity mechanisms see SARS Cross-Immunity from T-cells

3.  Vaccine Mandates Are Not Justified

Evidence is building that immunity after infection is superior to vaccine-induced immunity.  This Israeli study is a recent example: Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections.  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Background Reports of waning vaccine-induced immunity against COVID-19 have begun to surface. With that, the comparable long-term protection conferred by previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 remains unclear.

Methods We conducted a retrospective observational study comparing three groups: (1)SARS-CoV-2-naïve individuals who received a two-dose regimen of the BioNTech/Pfizer mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine, (2) previously infected individuals who have not been vaccinated, and (3) previously infected and single dose vaccinated individuals. Three multivariate logistic regression models were applied. In all models we evaluated four outcomes: SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptomatic disease, COVID-19-related hospitalization and death. The follow-up period of June 1 to August 14, 2021, when the Delta variant was dominant in Israel.

Results SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees had a 13.06-fold (95% CI, 8.08 to 21.11) increased risk for breakthrough infection with the Delta variant compared to those previously infected, when the first event (infection or vaccination) occurred during January and February of 2021. The increased risk was significant (P<0.001) for symptomatic disease as well. When allowing the infection to occur at any time before vaccination (from March 2020 to February 2021), evidence of waning natural immunity was demonstrated, though SARS-CoV-2 naïve vaccinees had a 5.96-fold (95% CI, 4.85 to 7.33) increased risk for breakthrough infection and a 7.13-fold (95% CI, 5.51 to 9.21) increased risk for symptomatic disease. SARS-CoV-2-naïve vaccinees were also at a greater risk for COVID-19-related-hospitalizations compared to those that were previously infected.

Conclusions This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. Individuals who were both previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and given a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection against the Delta variant.

Martin Kulldorf of Harvard weighs in:

“In Israel, vaccinated individuals had 27 times higher risk of symptomatic COVID infection compared to those with natural immunity from prior COVID disease [95%CI:13-57, adjusted for time of vaccine/disease]. No COVID deaths in either group.”

Jon Miltimore draws the implications: Harvard Epidemiologist Says the Case for COVID Vaccine Passports Was Just Demolished. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

A Death Blow to Vaccine Passports?

The findings come as many governments around the world are demanding citizens acquire “vaccine passports” to travel. New York City, France, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia are among those who have recently embraced vaccine passports.

Meanwhile, Australia has floated the idea of making higher vaccination rates a condition of lifting its lockdown in jurisdictions, while President Joe Biden is considering making interstate travel unlawful for people who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Vaccine passports are morally dubious for many reasons, not the least of which is that freedom of movement is a basic human right. However, vaccine passports become even more senseless in light of the new findings out of Israel and revelations from the CDC, some say.

Harvard Medical School professor Martin Kulldorff said research showing that natural immunity offers exponentially more protection than vaccines means vaccine passports are both unscientific and discriminatory, since they disproportionately affect working class individuals.

“Prior COVID disease (many working class) provides better immunity than vaccines (many professionals), so vaccine mandates are not only scientific nonsense, they are also discriminatory and unethical,” Kulldorff, a biostatistician and epidemiologist, observed on Twitter.

Nor is the study out of Israel a one-off. Media reports show that no fewer than 15 academic studies have found that natural immunity offers immense protection from COVID-19.

The Bottom Line

Vaccine passports would be immoral and a massive government overreach even in the absence of these findings. There is simply no historical parallel for governments attempting to restrict the movements of healthy people over a respiratory virus in this manner.

Yet the justification for vaccine passports becomes not just wrong but absurd in light of these new revelations.

People who have had COVID already have significantly more protection from the virus than people who’ve been vaccinated. Meanwhile, people who’ve not had COVID and choose to not get vaccinated may or may not be making an unwise decision. But if they are, they are principally putting only themselves at risk.

 

 

 

 

Biden Has the Destructive Touch

Victor Davis Hanson explains in his American Greatness article The Drossy Touch of Joe Biden.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

A cognitively challenged Biden is pulled in every direction, by left-wing politicos collecting their debts,
by his own spite, by his trademark narcissism, and by his hatred of all things Trump.

Almost everything Joe Biden has touched since entering office has turned to dross. None of his blame-gaming, none of his distortions, none of his fantasies and unreality can mask that truth.  

The Afghan Catastrophe

Seven months ago, Afghanistan was relatively quiet—with about 10,000 vestigial NATO troops, including 2,500 Americans, anchored by the Bagram Airfield. They were able to provide air superiority for the coalition and Afghan national army. With air power, NATO forces, if and when they so wished, could have very slowly and gradually withdrawn all its remnant troops—but only after a prior departure of all American and European civilians, coalition contractors, and allied Afghans.

The transient calm abruptly imploded as soon as Joe Biden recklessly yanked all U.S. troops out in a matter of days. Many left in the dead of night, leaving no one to protect contractors, dependents, diplomats, and Afghan allies. In Biden’s world, civilians protect the last Western enclave while soldiers flee.

Three weeks ago, Joe Biden and a woke and politicized Pentagon were assuring us that Afghanistan was “stable.” Now the country is reverting to its accustomed premodern, theocratic, and medieval chaos. It will likely soon reopen as the world’s pre-9/11-style terrorist haven—an arms mart of over $50 billion in abandoned U.S. military equipment. Thanks to the president of the United States, terrorists and nation-state enemies can now shop for arms and train there without hindrance.

The NATO coalition-builder Biden also dry-gulched his European allies, whose soldiers outnumbered our own. The humanitarian “good ole Joe from Scranton” deprecated the thousands of Afghan military dead who had helped the Americans. The families of the American fallen and wounded of two decades were all but told by Biden that the catastrophe in Kabul was inevitable—no other way out but chaos and dishonor.

Why did he not tell us that earlier, when he was vice president, so many dead and wounded ago?

“Get over it,” was Biden’s messaging subtext. If Americans want to hear the blame game, he told us to scapegoat Barack Obama, or all prior presidents, or especially Donald Trump, or the intelligence services and military, or the Afghan army, or we naïfs who somehow think things are a mess right now in Kabul—or anything and everyone but Joe Biden.

The Inflation Fiasco

In January, Biden inherited a rebounding economy that was fueled by $1 trillion in stimulatory federal red ink. Given natural pent-up consumer demand, why did Biden need to print yet another $1 trillion, seek to green-light another $2 trillion for “infrastructure,” and raise even higher unemployment compensation to the point of discouraging employees from returning to work?

At the same time, he has alarmed employers with braggadocio threats that higher capital gains, income, payroll, and estate taxes are all on the way. More lockdowns only further eroded small businesses. The result was price inflation of all the stuff of life—homes, lumber, gas, food, appliances—as well as historic shortages of everything from cars and houses to the work of contractors and electricians. Any increase in wages due to labor shortages was soon erased by spirals in the consumer price index.

So, what was Biden thinking or, rather, not thinking? By paying workers not to work he would be evening out the ancient score with employers? Did workers need a vacation from the quarantine? Printing money was a way to spread the wealth—and diminish what the rich possessed? Was a $2 trillion deficit and $30 trillion in aggregate debt a way of bragging to Trump that he doubled the Trump red ink in less than a year? Would he pile up more debt than both Barack Obama and George W. Bush in half the time?

The Border Disaster

Biden took a secure border, along with increasingly legal-only immigration, and then destroyed both. He stopped construction of the border wall, encouraged an expected 2 million illegal entries over the current fiscal year, promised amnesties, and resumed “catch and release.” He did all that at a time of a pandemic, exempting illegal aliens from all the requirements of COVID testing and mass vaccinations that he had hectored his own citizens about getting. With planned mass amnesties and millions more invited to cross illegally in the next three years, was Biden seeking to found a new American nation within the now passé old American nation?

Did he believe that Americans did not deserve their citizenship and newcomers from south of the border were somehow more worthy? Did he see the 2 million new residents as instant voters under new relaxed rules of balloting? Did he think in a labor-deprived economy they would supply nannies, gardeners, and cooks to bicoastal elites? We strain to imagine any explanation because there is no logic to any.

Energy Insufficiency

Biden did his best in just seven months to explode the idea of American self-sufficiency in natural gas and oil. He canceled the Keystone Pipeline, froze new federal energy leases, put the Anwar oil field off limits, and warned frackers their end days were near.

So, what drove Biden? Did he object that motorists were saving too many billions of dollars per year in decreased commuting costs? Or was the rub that we had slashed too many imports of oil from the volatile Middle East and no longer would launch preemptive wars? Or perhaps the transition to clean natural gas instead of coal as a fuel for power generation had too radically curtailed carbon emissions? Did Biden feel that Middle East producers, the Russians, or the Venezuelans could better protect the planet while extracting oil and gas than could American drillers?

The Race Calamity

Biden blew up race relations by greenlighting the new hunt for the mythical “whiteness” monster. Were a few buffoonish white rioters who stormed the Capitol the tip of the spear of a previously unknown massive white supremacy movement, the most dangerous, he swore, since the Civil War?

Biden took affirmative action and the Civil Rights-era “disparate impact” and “proportional representation” ideas and turned them into disproportionate representation and reparations on the cheap. Biden made it acceptable to damn “whiteness,” as if all 230 million white Americans are guilty of something or other in a way that the other 100 million “nonwhite” are not.

The Crime Explosion

After Biden entered office, violent crimes ignited from the embers of the 120 days of mostly unpunished looting, arson, and organized violence in the streets of America’s major cities during summer 2020. Under Biden, jails were emptied. Federal attorneys and emulative local DAs exempted offenders. Police were defamed and defunded. Punishing crime was considered a racist construct.

The result is that Americans now avoid the Dodge City downtowns of most of America’s crime-ridden blue cities. They accept that any urban pedestrian, any driver after hours, any commuter on a bus or subway can be assaulted, robbed, beaten, raped, or shot—without any assurance that the media will fairly report the crime, or that the criminal justice system will punish the perpetrators. In Biden’s America looters prance into drug stores and walk out with shopping bags of stuff, under the terrified gaze of security guards who guesstimate at least they did not steal more than $950 of loot.

So why does Biden so willfully exercise this destructive touch that blows up anything he taps?

There are several possible theories:

1) Biden is non compos mentis. He has no idea of what he is doing. But to the degree he is alert, Biden listens—sort of—only to the last person with whom he talks. And then he takes a nap. When Afghanistan blows up or inflation roars or the border becomes an entry door, his eyes open, and he becomes bewildered and snarly—like an irritable and snappy Bruce Dern waking up in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Biden has no clue about the actual destructive implementation of his toxic policies, and no concern upon whom these destructive agendas fall. He vaguely assumes a lapdog left-wing media will repackage every Biden incoherence as Periclean, and every daily “lid” as Biden’s escape for presidential research, deep reading, and intensive deliberation. Biden appears to be about where Woodrow Wilson was in November 1919.

2) Or is Biden a rank opportunist and thinking he will ride woke leftism as the country’s new trajectory? He resents his prior subservience to Obama, and now feels he can trump past signature leftist administrations as the one true and only socialist evolutionary. He is not so much the manipulated as the manipulator.

Biden fantasizes himself as a hands-on dynamic leader who bites at reporters, snaps from the podium, and issues his customary interjections. He is therefore “in command” for four or five hours a day. He enjoys acting more radical than Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, or “the squad.”—and especially being far more leftwing than his old and now passé boss Barack Obama. Joe is in control and that explains the dross touch. For the first time in his life, such an incompetent has complete freedom—to be powerfully incompetent. Biden is then not demented as much as delusionally running things.

3) Biden is unfortunately what he always was: a rather mean-spirited plagiarist, liar, and nihilist, from his Clarence Thomas character assassination infamy and Tara Reade groping to his foul racist talk and his monumental habitual grifting. His disasters are the same old, same old Biden trademark, performance-art screw-ups.

Biden likes the idea of conservative outrage, of chaos, of barking at everyone all the time. Biden accepts that no omelets can be made without broken eggs, and sort of enjoys screwing up things, as Robert Gates and Barack Obama both warned. “Wokening” the Joint Chiefs of Staff, encouraging hundreds of thousands to pour across the border, and abandoning our NATO allies in Afghanistan—who cares when tough guy, brash-talking Joe on the move jumbles stuff up? The disasters in the economy, foreign policy, crime, energy, and racial relations? Biden is just shaking things up, stirring the pot, baiting people to watch Mr. “Come On, Man” in action, as he blusters and preens and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.

4) Biden is nothing much at all. He’s just a cardboard-cut out, a garden-variety Democratic Party hack, who is against anything conservatives are for. He assumes he will undo all that Trump did, on the theory it is simple and easy for him in his lazy, senior moments. And he is tired anyway of thinking much beyond such Pavlovian rejectionism. A closed border is bad; presto, open borders are good. Improving race relations is bad; deteriorating relations must be good. Energy independence bad; dependency good. Biden works on autopilot in his minimalist day job: just cancel anything that Trump did and worry nothing about the effects on the American people

5) Biden is a hostage of both the Left and Hunter Biden. His task is to ram down a hard Left agenda, in the fashion of a torpedo that itself blows up when it hits the target. The Left ensured the base would not bolt in 2020. So, he owes them. Biden, more or less, signed his presidency over to the squad, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and the Obama holdovers. They hand him a script; he tries to read it; and they follow up with the details. He is the old “Star Trek’s” tottering John Gill.

The Left may hope their own nihilist agenda sort of works. When it inevitably does not, then Joe, the delivery man, is blamed: so much more quickly, then, will be Biden’s necessary exit. They kept their part of the bargain by getting the basement denizen elected. Now he keeps the deal by handing over the presidency. Biden’s utility had about a six-month shelf life.

Now ever so slowly the leaks, the West Wing backstabbing, the furrowed anchor brows, and the unnamed sources will gently ease him out with 25th Amendment worries (e.g., “Perhaps President Biden might find taking the Montreal Cognitive Assessment of some value after all, for his own benefit, of course.”) Kamala Harris is not so inert as we are led to believe.

A cognitively challenged Biden then is pulled in every direction, by his own senility, by left-wing politicos collecting their debts, by his own spite, by his trademark narcissism, and by his neanderthal hatred of everything Trump was and did.

The problem for America is that theories one through five are not always mutually exclusive, but more likely force multipliers of the present insanity. At some point, some brave congressional representative or Senator will finally have to say to Biden, in the spirit of Oliver Cromwell and Leo Amery:

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

And Now There are Five “Common Cold” Coronaviruses

cg60a31a950a20d

Good news:  The Pandemic is over.  Next: Our immune systems will contend with one more coronavirus added to the other four we already live with.  Ross Pomeroy explains in Real Clear Science articles You Are (Probably) Going to Be Infected With the Coronavirus.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

SARS-CoV-2 joins the ranks of other coronaviruses to cause respiratory infections under the title of the “common cold”

It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. It may not be next week. It may not be this month, when the rapid ascension of the Delta variant in the United States could send confirmed daily case counts spiking to 200,000 or more before settling down again. It may not even be next year. But someday, you will almost certainly be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

This uncomfortable fact may come as a surprise to many Americans, particularly to those who have spent hours sanitizing surfaces and groceries, who have dutifully adorned a mask even when not required to do so, and who have made the simple, science-backed decision to get vaccinated. SARS-CoV-2 has already spread around the world, infecting hundreds of millions or more. The genie is out of the bottle, and it is not going back in.

“We will be dealing with this virus forever,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, said in an interview one year ago.

Osterholm has been a sage throughout the pandemic, and his words then remain prescient now.

“Effective and safe vaccines… will be very important, even critical tools, in fighting it,” he said. “But the whole world is going to be experiencing COVID-19 ‘til the end of time. We’re not going to be vaccinating our way out of this to eight-plus billion people in the world right now…. We’ve really got to come to grips with actually living with this virus, for at least my lifetime…”

Since speaking those words, Osterholm hasn’t changed his mind.

“Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic,” he told Nature in February of this year.

Olsterholm’s view now represents the consensus of scientific opinion. In January, Nature surveyed more than 100 experts working on the coronavirus about whether the virus could be eradicated. Nine out of ten said that it is “likely” or “very likely” that the coronavirus will continue to circulate amongst the human population as an endemic infection. Most see it becoming something like the flu, for which we will require yearly vaccinations to be protected, or joining the ranks of other coronaviruses to cause respiratory infections that collectively fit under the title of the “common cold”. In the latter scenario, people may get reinfected multiple times over their lives. This theory seems the most likely to play out.

“The virus sticks around, but once people develop some immunity to it — either through natural infection or vaccination — they won’t come down with severe symptoms… Scientists consider this possible because that’s how the four endemic coronaviruses, called OC43, 229E, NL63 and HKU1, behave,” Nicky Phillips wrote for Nature.

In either of these scenarios, it’s extremely likely that you will eventually be infected. Adults get the flu about once every five years. Many times they are unaware, because the infection is asymptomatic. By the time children are roughly three years old, 65% will have been infected with coronavirus 229E. It’s reasonable to predict that some years down the road, SARS-CoV-2 will be just as, if not more, prevalent. Even the vaccinated will likely be infected at some point, and that’s okay.

There was some hope that the incredibly effective vaccines we have, particularly BioNTech/Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA shots, would grant sterilizing immunity, preventing infection altogether. And studies suggest that they do, surprisingly well. But it seems that this form of immunity wanes over time and lessens versus new variants, particularly the Delta variety that’s been all over the news of late. The good news is that the vaccines remain extremely protective against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. If and when booster shots are available, we’ll be able to refresh our immunity.

The knowledge that a SARS-CoV-2 infection is essentially inevitable might be, for some, panic-inducing, perhaps prompting a desire to live a bubbled life. It shouldn’t. That’s because we have the tools to be free from both fear and, for the vast majority, harm: America’s remarkable arsenal of safe and effective vaccines. Again, even if the vaccines don’t prevent infection, that’s okay! As of July 26th, less than 0.004% of fully vaccinated people experienced a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization and less than 0.001% died from the disease, according to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Dr. Osterholm said in May, “For vaccinated individuals, in a private home or wherever, party hard. Enjoy it. You’ve earned it. You can feel safe in doing that, and that’s what we need to help people understand.”

Footnote: 

Left out of the discussion were the anti-viral home treatment protocols to prevent serious illnesses.
See How They Dissed HCQ and Ivermectin

Dumb and Dumber Energy Advice from NYT

news-these-days
Benjamin Zycher at Real Clear Markets takes the NYT to task for its stupid article about fossil fuel infrastructure, awarding it The Dumbest New York Times Op-Ed of 2021.  Of course there are many months left for NYT to publish even worse inanities this year.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds. I have reorganized the content to juxtapose the wild claims with sober facts.

Lisa Benson cartoon

Summer still is weeks away, but already we have a winner in the fierce competition for the coveted title of “Dumbest New York Times opinion column of 2021.” The envelope please… and the winner is “Why Charles Koch Wins When Our Energy System Breaks Down,” by someone named Christopher Leonard. One really does have to read this column to grasp — actually, to marvel at — the inanity of Leonard’s argument, which can be summarized as follows.

Claim:
Our fossil-fuel infrastructure — pipelines in particular, and refineries as well — is “increasingly unreliable” and “dominated by a very small group of very profitable companies.”

Fact:  
Leonard does not tell us what he means in his assertion that U.S. pipelines are “increasingly unreliable” — it is easy to infer that he has no idea — but if we define “reliability” as the annual number of adverse pipeline incidents, there has been no trend since 2002, even as pipeline mileage increased almost 63 percent between 2004 and 2019.

Claim:
The Colonial Pipeline shut down in 2016, and again this month due to a cyberattack, but the five companies that own Colonial “profit handsomely off its operations and earn outsize profits in the face of the bottlenecks and supply squeezes caused by shutdowns.”

Fact:  
That is absurd: The pipeline generates revenue only when it is moving product; if it is not operational it is not generating revenue.

cb051921dapr20210518114504

Claim:
The 2016 shutdown “didn’t seem to hurt the owners’ earnings” in that afterward “Colonial boosted its annual dividends — at least in part because of the Trump administration’s 2017 tax cuts.”  The growth in Colonial’s investments in updating and protecting the pipeline have been “modest, while dividend payments have risen sharply.”

Fact:  
Apart from Leonard’s confusion about whether it is due to the 2016 shutdown or to the 2017 tax cut, he apparently has no concept of the factors addressed by corporate managers as they determine the appropriate dividend. In particular, a dividend change is driven by the evaluation of the after-tax return to shareholders from retaining more financial capital within the firm compared with that from distributing more to the shareholders. An increase in the dividend suggests that the latter has increased relative to the former, presumably in this case because of the nuances of the 2017 tax bill. Were the Kochs responsible for that?

Claim:
Charles Koch “has profited for years off similar energy bottlenecks in the upper Midwest” because of such infrastructure investments as the Pine Bend refinery, which “owes its profitability to its location in the middle of a broken fuel market.” Koch “buys cheap crude” in a market “oversupplied” with Canadian crude oil, after which “Koch then sells its finished fuel into an undersupplied gasoline market in the upper Midwest.”

Fact:  
And about that “oversupplied” (whatever that means) midwestern market for Canadian crude oil: The midwestern refinery market would be far less “oversupplied” had the Keystone XL pipeline been approved at long last, delivering heavy Canadian crude oil to the Gulf coast refineries designed to refine it. Did Charles Koch urge the Biden administration to reject the pipeline? Has Leonard criticized that decision? I can find no record of any such stance on his part.

And then there is Leonard’s assertion that the gasoline market in the upper Midwest is “undersupplied” (whatever that means). The Energy Information Administration divides the U.S. gasoline market into five regions (“PADDs”). As of May 24, Gulf Coast gasoline prices were the lowest, followed by the Midwest, and then (in ascending order) the East Coast, the Rocky Mountain states, and the West Coast, the last of which had the highest prices even excluding California. What is Leonard talking about?

Claim:
Regulatory hurdles have paved the way for these profits for decades.” “The Clean Air Act… made it nearly impossible for competitors to open a refinery near Pine  Bend” to increase competitive pressures.

Fact:  

The comedy highlight of Leonard’s column is the assertion that it is the Clean Air Act, regulatory obstacles to new pipeline investment, and general “regulatory stasis and dysfunction” that have yielded the “outsize profits” enjoyed by the Kochs. Leonard seems actually to believe this: “Just by letting the broken market limp along, Koch Industries reaps extraordinary profits from a broken system.” So the Kochs are vastly more powerful than anyone could imagine, responsible for the regulatory morass, for the ideological leftist political opposition to fossil infrastructure, for NIMBYism, and for allowing the “broken market” to “limp along.” Just as the pipeline owners win whether the pipelines are operating or not, Leonard clearly believes that they earn “outsize profits” whether the regulatory environment is light or dysfunctional. Who knew?

Claim: 
Regulatory fights benefit big refiners that can afford expensive legal experts and lobbyists: “Koch benefits from regulatory stasis and dysfunction.”

Fact:  

The utter stupidity of Leonard’s argument is illustrated by his assertion toward the end of the column that “new wind farms or solar installations could open up a whole new energy market.” Somehow, I was led to believe that Leonard’s argument was about pipelines and refineries and gasoline prices, and the ability of the Kochs to earn large profits no matter what. But no: An endorsement of unconventional electricity, expensive and environmentally destructive, just had to be shoehorned in as an exercise in virtue-signaling par excellence despite the reality that it has nothing to do with Leonard’s silly central argument. Or does he want to argue that more wind farms will reduce gasoline prices in the Midwest?

Conclusion

And so we arrive at the larger reality illustrated by the Leonard column. Misguided, illogical, and at odds with the facts, it is of a piece with the broad opposition of the environmental left to energy infrastructure generally, and pipeline investments in particular. Utter incoherence is the inevitable result of that ideological opposition to fossil fuels, one impervious to facts and analytic rigor, and dependent upon arguments fundamentally inconsistent. That opposition is anti-human at its core because it implies opposition to investment in human capital — education, training, health care, etc. — and the improved human well being that has the effect of increasing the demand for energy and its infrastructure. Forget the Kochs; they are a bogeyman and red herring the mere mention of which is intended to elicit a Pavlovian reaction from the enlightened invitees to the right cocktail parties.

The real bogeymen are the New York Times opinion editors who found such drivel fit to print, a measure of the intellectual depths to which they have sunk.

lb210522c20210521055437

See Also Shellenberger to NYT: Isn’t a correction merited?

Why Marxism Always Fails

Jordan Peterson delves into the reasons why Marxist ideology fails both in theory and in practice.  For those like me who prefer to read a text, I have made a transcript of Peterson’s talk, with some light editing to transpose a verbal presentation into a written one.  My bolds are added.  H/T Chiefio.

Jordan Peterson’s critique of the Communist Manifesto

Since we are talking about Marxism, I tried to reread the Communist Manifesto. The first time I read it I was 18 years old, more than 40 years ago. When you read something, you you don’t just follow the words and follow the meaning, but you take apart the sentences. And you ask yourself:

At this level of phrase and at the level of sentence and at the level of paragraph, is this true?
Are there counter arguments that can be put forward that are credible?
Is this solid thinking?

And I have to tell you, and I’m not trying to be flippant here, that I have rarely read a tract that made as many errors per sentence, conceptual errors per sentence as the communist manifesto.

It was quite miraculous to re-read it and it was interesting to think about it psychologically as well.

Because I’ve read student papers that were of the same ilk in some sense. Although I’m not suggesting that they were of the same level of glittering literary brilliance and polemic quality. And I also understand that the communist manifesto was a call for revolution and not a standard logical argument.

But that notwithstanding, I have some things to say about the authors psychologically. The first thing is that it doesn’t seem to me that either Marx or Engels grappled with this particular fundamental truth: which is that almost all ideas are wrong. And it doesn’t matter if they’re your ideas or someone else’s ideas, they’re probably wrong. And even if they strike you with the force of brilliance, your job is to assume first of all that they’re probably wrong and then to assault them with everything you have in your arsenal and see if they can survive.

It struck me about the communist manifesto that it was akin to something Jung said about typical thinking, meaning the thinking of people who weren’t trained to think. He said that when the typical thinker has a thought, it appears to them like an object might appear in a room. The thought appears and then they just accept it.

They don’t go the second step which is to think about the thinking, and that’s the real essence of critical thinking. So that’s why you try to teach people in university to read a text and to think about it critically; not to destroy the utility of the text but to separate the wheat from the chaff.

And so when again reading the communist manifesto I tried to separate the wheat from the chaff. And I’m afraid I found, some wheat yes but mostly chaff. And I’m going to explain why in relatively short order. I’m going to outline 10 of the fundamental axioms of the communist manifesto. So these are truths that are basically held as self-evident by the authors. And they’re truths that are presented in some sense as unquestioned. I’m going to question them and tell you why I think they’re unreliable.

Now we should remember that this tract was actually written 170 years ago. That’s a long time ago and we have learned a fair bit since then about human nature, about society, about politics and economics. There’s lots of mysteries left to be solved but we are slightly wiser I presume. So you can forgive the authors to some degree for what they didn’t know. But that doesn’t matter given that the essence of this doctrine is still held as sacrosanct by a large proportion of academics.

The problems start with this one: History is to be viewed primarily as an economic class struggle.  Let’s think about that for a minute. First of all there is the proposition that history is primarily to be viewed through an economic lens, which I think is debatable because there are many other motivations than economics that drive human beings. Those have to be taken into account especially that drive people other than economic competition, like economic cooperation for example. So that’s a problem.

An additional problem is that it’s actually not nearly a pessimistic enough description of the actual situation. To give the devil his due: It is absolutely true that one of the driving forces of history is hierarchical struggle. But it’s deeper than history, it’s biology itself, because organisms of all sorts organize themselves into hierarchies. And one of the problems with hierarchies is that they tend to arrange themselves into a winner-take-all situation.

Of course Marx believed that in a capitalist society capital would accumulate in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and that actually is in keeping with the nature of hierarchical organizations. So there’s accuracy in the accusation being an eternal form of motivation for struggle. But it’s an underestimation of the seriousness of the problem because it is attributed to the structure of human societies rather than the deeper reality of the existence of hierarchical structures per se.

Since hierarchies characterize the animal kingdom to a large degree, they are clearly not only human constructions. And the evidence for hierarchical competition among human beings goes back at least to the paleolithic times.  So the next problem is: This ancient problem of hierarchical structure is clearly not attributable to capitalism because it existed long in human history before capitalism existed. and then it predated human history itself. So why would you necessarily at least implicitly link the class struggle with capitalism given that it’s a far deeper problem?

You’ve need to understand that this is a deeper problem for people on the left not just for people on the right. It is the case that hierarchical structures dispossess those people who are at the bottom, as it does those animals who are at the bottom in their kingdom. That is a fundamental existential problem.

But the other thing that Marx didn’t seem to take into account is that there there are far more reasons that human beings struggle than their economic class struggle, even if you build the hierarchical idea into that. In a more comprehensive way of thinking about it, human beings
struggle with themselves with the malevolence that’s inside themselves, with the evil that they’re capable of doing, with the spiritual and psychological warfare that goes on within them.

And we’re also actually always at odds with nature and this never seems to show up in Marx, and it doesn’t show up in Marxism in general. It’s as if nature doesn’t exist. As far as I’m concerned the primary conflict that human beings engage in is this struggle for life in a cruel and harsh natural world. But that doesn’t exist in the Marxist domain. If human beings have a problem it’s because there’s a class struggle that’s essentially economic. It’s like no human beings have problems because we come into the life starving and lonesome and we have to solve that problem continually. And we make our social arrangements at least in part to ameliorate that.

So there’s also very little understanding in the communist manifesto that any of the hierarchical organizations that human beings have put together might have a positive element. And that’s an absolute catastrophe because hierarchical structures are actually necessary to solve complicated social problems. We have to organize ourselves in some manner and (again giving the devil his due) it is the case that hierarchies dispossess people and that’s a big problem. That’s the fundamental problem of inequality. But it’s also the case that hierarchies happen to be a very efficient way of distributing resources.

And it’s finally the case that human hierarchies are not fundamentally predicated on power. I would say that biological and anthropological data on that are crystal clear. You don’t rise to a position of authority that’s reliable in a human society primarily by exploiting other people. It’s a very unstable means of obtaining power, even though people go about it that way might laugh at the thought.

Another problem that comes up is that Marx also assumes that you can think about history as a binary class struggle with clear divisions between say the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. That’s actually a problem because it’s not so easy to make a firm division between who is exploiter and who is exploitee. Because it’s not obvious, for example, in the case of small shareholders, whether or not they happen to be part of the oppressed or part of the oppressor.

This actually turned out to be a big problem in the Russian revolution, a tremendously big problem because it turned out that you could fragment people into multiple identities. That’s a fairly easy thing to do, and you could usually find some aspect by which they were part of the oppressor class; it might have been a consequence of their education or because of the wealth that they strived to accumulate during their life. Or it might be the fact that they had parents or grandparents who are educated or rich or that they’re a member of the priesthood or that they were socialists, and so on.

Anyways the listing of how it was possible for you to be bourgeois instead of proletariat grew immensely and that was one of the reasons that the red terror claimed all the victims that it did. So that was a huge problem, probably most exemplified by the demolition of the kulaks, who were basically peasant farmers although effective ones in the soviet union. They had managed to raise themselves out of serfdom over a period of about 40 years and to gather some some degree of material security about them. And about 1.8 million of them were exiled, about 400 000 were killed and the net consequence of that was the removal of their private property because of their bourgeois status. There was also the death of six million Ukrainians in the famines of the 1930s showing that the binary class struggle idea led to bad outcomes for many people.

It’s also a very bad idea in another way, and this is a real sleight of hand that Marx pulls off. You have a binary class division–proletariat and bourgeoisie–and you have an implicit idea that all of the good is on the side of the proletariat and all of the evil is on the side of the bourgeoisie. That’s classic group identity thinking and one of the reasons i don’t like identity politics. Because once you divide people into groups and pit them against one another, it’s very easy to assume that all the evil in the world can be attributed to one group–the hypothetical oppressors–and all the good to the other. Well that’s naive beyond comprehension because it’s absolutely foolish to make the presumption that you can identify someone’s moral worth with their economic standing. So that actually turned out to be a real problem as well.

Marx also came up with this idea which is a crazy idea, using the technical term crazy as far as i can tell, and that’s the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat. I really stumbled over that. Okay so what’s the problem? Well the problem is the capitalists own everything— they own all the means of production and they’re oppressing everyone, that means all the workers. And there’s going to be a race to the bottom of wages for the workers as the capitalists strive to extract more and more value from the labor of the proletariat by competing with other capitalists to drive wages downward. By the way, that didn’t happen partly because wage earners can become scarce and that actually drives their market value upward.

But the fact that that you assume a priori that all the evil can be attributed to the capitalists and the bourgeoisie and that all the good could be attributed to the proletariat meant that you could hypothesize that a dictatorship of the proletariat could come about, and that was the first stage in the communist revolution. And remember this is a call for revolution, and not just revolution, but bloody violent revolution and the overthrow of all existing social structures.

So you see the problem is because all the evil isn’t divided so easily up into oppressor and oppressed you can not establish a pure dictator of the proletariat (to the degree that you can do that which you actually can’t because it’s technically impossible, and an absurd project not least because of the centralization problem.) I mean you have to imagine that you can take away all the property of the capitalists and you can replace the capitalist class with a minority of proletariats. How they’re going to be chosen isn’t exactly clear in the communist manifesto nor is it clear how none of the people who are from the proletariat class are going to be corrupted by that sudden access to power despite their being good by definition.

So then you have the good people who are running the world and you also have them centralized so that they can make decisions which are insanely complicated to make; in fact impossibly complicated to make and so that’s a failure conceptually on both dimensions.

Because firstly all the proletariat aren’t going to be good and then you put those people in the same position as the evil capitalists. Marxists certainly believe that social pressure is one of the determining factors of human character. So why then wouldn’t you assume that the proletariat would immediately become as or more corrupt than the capitalists? Which is of course exactly what happened every time this experiment was run.

And then the next problem comes when you take some system as complicated as as a capitalist free market society and centralize that putting decision-making power in the hands of a few people, without specifying the mechanisms by which you’re going to choose them. What makes you think they’re going to have the wisdom or the ability to do what the capitalists were doing unless you assume as Marx did that all of the evil was with the capitalists and all the good was with the proletariats.

And that nothing that capitalists did constituted valid labor which is another thing that marx assumed. Which is palpably absurd unless you are thinking of people like a dissolute aristocrat from 1830 or earlier and you run a feudal estate and all you do is spend your time gambling and chasing prostitutes.  Well then your labor value is zero.

But if you’re running a business and it’s a successful business first of all because you’re not a bloody fool who exploits your workers. Because even if you’re greedy as Sin, you’re not going to extract the maximum amount of labor out of them by doing that. And the notion that you’re adding no productive value as a manager rather than a capitalist is absolutely absurd. All it shows is that you either know nothing whatsoever about how an actual business works or you refuse to know anything about how an actual business works. So that’s also a big problem.

The next problem is the criticism of profit. Well what’s wrong with profit? The problem with profit was that profit was theft from the Marxist perspective. You know profit well can be theft because crooked people can run companies and so sometimes profit is theft. That certainly doesn’t mean that it’s always threat theft, because in part at least if the capitalist is adding value to the corporation then there’s some utility and some fairness in him or her extracting the value of their abstract labor–their thought, their work, their ability to manage the company and to engage in proper competition and product development and efficiency and the proper treatment of the workers. If they can do all of that and then can create a profit, well then they have a little bit of security for times that aren’t so good. And that seems absolutely bloody necessary as far as I’m concerned.

Then the next thing is how can you grow if you don’t have a profit and if you have an enterprise that’s valuable and worthwhile? Some enterprises are valuable and worthwhile then it seems to me that a little bit of profit to help you grow seems to be the right approach. So then the other issue with profit, and you know this if you’ve ever run a business, is it’s really useful constraint. You know it’s not enough to have a good idea, not a good enough to have a good sales and marketing plan and then to implement that and all of, even though that’s bloody difficult in itself. Even with a good idea and plan, it’s not easy to find customers and satisfy them. And so profit constitutes a limitation on what it is that you might reasonably attempt. It provides a good constraint on wasted labor.

Most of the things that I’ve done in my life even psychologically were efforts designed to help people’s psychological health. I tried to run on a for-profit basis and the reason for that, apart from the fact that I’m not averse to making a profit, was partly so my enterprises can grow but was also so that there were forms of stupidity that I couldn’t engage in because I would be punished by the market enough to eradicate the enterprise.

The next issue is a weird one. So Marx and Engels also assume that this dictatorship of the proletariat which involves absurd centralization, the overwhelming probability of corruption, and the impossible task as the proletariat now try to rationally compute the manner in which an entire market economy could run. Which cannot be done because it’s far too complicated for anybody to think through.

The next theory is that somehow the proletariat dictatorship would become magically hyper productive and there’s actually no theory at all about how that’s going to happen. And so i had to infer that the theory seems to be that once you eradicate the bourgeoisie because they’re evil and you get rid of their private property, and you eradicate the profit motive, then all of a sudden magically the small percentage of the proletariat who now run the society determine how they can make their enterprises productive enough so they become hyper productive now.

And they need to become hyper productive for the last error to be logically coherent in relationship to the Marxist theory which is that at some point  the dictatorship of the proletariat will become so hyper productive that there’ll be enough material goods for everyone across all dimensions. And when that happens then people will spontaneously engage in meaningful creative labor from which they had been alienated in the capitalist horror show. And the utopia will be magically ushered in.

But there’s no indication about how that hyper productivity is going to come about and there’s no understanding that the utopia isn’t going to suit everyone because there are great differences between people. And some people are going to find what they want in love, and some are going to find it in social being, and some are going to find it in conflict and competition, and some are going to find it in creativity as Marx pointed out. But the notion that that that will necessarily be the end goal for the utopian state is preposterous.

And then there’s the Dostoyevsky observation, which is one not to be taken lightly. What sort of shallow conception of people do you have that makes you think that if you gave people enough bread and cake, and nothing else to do except busy themselves with the continued continuity of the species that they would all of a sudden become peaceful and heavenly? Dostoyevsky’s idea was that we were built for trouble, and if we were ever handed everything we needed on a silver platter the first thing we would do is engage in some form of creative destruction just so something unexpected could happen; just so we could have the adventure of our lives. I think there’s something honest and true in that.

Then there’s the last error, although by no means was this all of them, and this is one of the strangest parts of the communist manifesto. Marx and Engels admit repeatedly in the communist manifesto that there has never been a system of production in the history of the world that was as effective at producing material commodities in excess than capitalism. That’s extensively documented in the communist manifesto.

So if your proposition is to get as much material security for everyone as as possible as fast as we can, and capitalism already seems to be doing that at a rate unparalleled in human history, wouldn’t the logical thing be just to let the damn system play itself out? Unless you’re assuming that the evil capitalists are just going to take all of the flat screen televisions and put them in one big room and not let anyone else have one. The logical assumption is that you’re already on a road that’s supposed to produce the needed material productivity.

So that’s ten reasons as far as I can tell that what I saw in the communist manifesto is seriously flawed in virtually every way it could possibly be wrong. And also it is evidence that Marx was the kind of narcissistic thinker who could think he was he was very intelligent person, and so was Engels. He thought that what he thought was correct, but he never went to the second stage, which is to ponder:  How could all of this go terribly wrong?

And if you’re a thinker, especially a sociological thinker and on the broad scale a social scientist for example. One of your moral obligations is to consider seriously how you might be wrong about one of your fundamental axioms or two or three or ten of them. As a consequence you have the moral obligation to walk through the damn system and question: What if I’m completely wrong here,and things invert and go exactly the opposite way?

For the life of me, I just can’t understand how anybody could come up with an idea like the dictatorship of the proletariat, especially after advocating its implementation by violent means which is a direct part of the communist manifesto. How could they call for that if they knew anything about human beings and the proclivity for malevolence that’s part and parcel of the individual human being. How could they not know that it could only lead to a special form of hell, which is precisely what did happen.

I’m going to close with a bit of evidence that Marx also thought that what would happen inevitably as a consequence of capitalism is that rich would get richer and the poor would get poorer so there would be inequality. Firstly, we do not know how to set up a human system of economics without inequality. No one has ever managed it, including the communists, and the form of inequality changed and it’s not obvious by any stretch of imagination that the free market economies of the west have more inequality than the less free economies in the rest of the world.

And the one thing you can say about capitalism is that although it produces inequality, which it absolutely does, it also produces wealth while all the other systems just produce inequality. So here’s here’s a few stats. From 1800 to 2017 in free market societies income growth adjusted for inflation grew by 40 times by for production workers and 16 times for unskilled labor. GDP rose by a factor of about 0.5 from 180 a.d. to 1800 a.d. So the increase was almost flat for 1600 years, and then all of a sudden in the last 217 years there’s been this unbelievably upward movement of wealth.

And it doesn’t only characterize the tiny percentage of people at the top who admittedly do have most of the wealth. The question is not only what’s the inequality, but also what’s happening to the absolutely poor at the bottom? And the answer to that is they’re getting richer faster now than they ever have in the history of the world. And we’re eradicating poverty in countries that have adopted moderate free market policies at a rate that’s unparalleled.

For example one of the U.N. Millennial goals was to reduce the the rate of absolute poverty in the world by 50% between 2000 and 2015. And they defined that as $1.90 a day; pretty low you know but you have to start somewhere. We hit that at 2012, three years ahead of schedule. Well, you might be cynical about that and say that it’s an arbitrary number, but the curves are exactly the same $3.80 cents a day and $7.60 a day. Not as many people have hit that but the rate of increase towards that is the same. The bloody U.N. thinks that we’ll be out of poverty defined by a dollar ninety a day by the year 2030. The progress is unparalleled because as rich are getting richer the poor are getting richer too.

Under capitalism, the poor are not getting poorer, but getting richer by a large margin. For example, in Africa the child mortality rate is now the same as the child mortality rate was in Europe in 1952.  That happened within the span of one lifetime. So if you’re for the poor, if you’re actually concerned that the poorest people in the world rise above their starvation levels, then all the evidence suggests that the best way to do that is to implement something approximating a free marke economy.

quote-the-strongest-argument-for-socialism-is-that-it-sounds-good-the-strongest-argument-against-thomas-sowell-141-57-35

Footnote:  Why Marxism is Incompatible with Democracy

The Marxist endgame and democracy’s end

The most basic thing one needs to know about a democratic regime, then, is this: You need to have at least two legitimate political parties for democracy to work. By a legitimate political party, I mean one that is recognized by its rivals as having a right to rule if it wins an election. For example, a liberal party may grant legitimacy to a conservative party (even though they don’t like them much), and in return this conservative party may grant legitimacy to a liberal party (even though they don’t like them much). Indeed, this is the way most modern democratic nations have been governed.

But legitimacy is one of those traditional political concepts that Marxist criticism is now on the verge of destroying.

From the Marxist point of view, our inherited concept of legitimacy is nothing more than an instrument the ruling classes use to perpetuate injustice and oppression. The word legitimacy takes on its true meaning only with reference to the oppressed classes or groups that the Marxist sees as the sole legitimate rulers of the nation. In other words, Marxist political theory confers legitimacy on only one political party—the party of the oppressed, whose aim is the revolutionary reconstitution of society. And this means that the Marxist political framework cannot co-exist with democratic government. Indeed, the entire purpose of democratic government, with its plurality of legitimate parties, is to avoid the violent reconstitution of society that Marxist political theory regards as the only reasonable aim of politics.

Simply put, the Marxist framework and democratic political theory are opposed to one another in principle.

See also Soviet Jokes About Living Under Oppression

Examples:

An old woman asks her granddaughter: “Granddaughter, please explain Communism to me. How will people live under it? They probably teach you all about it in school.”
“Of course they do, Granny. When we reach Communism, the shops will be full–there’ll be butter, and meat, and sausage. You’ll be able to go and buy anything you want…”
“Ah!” exclaimed the old woman joyfully. “Just like it was under the Tsar!”

Q: What’s the difference between a capitalist fairy tale and a Marxist fairy tale?
A: A capitalist fairy tale begins, “Once upon a time, there was….”. A Marxist fairy tale begins, “Some day, there will be….”

A Soviet history professor addressed his university students: “Regarding the final exam, I have good news and bad news. The good news: All the questions are the same as last year. The bad news: Some of the answers are different.”

Zombie Melting Glacier Hype (again)

2035807-robert-frost-quote-some-say-the-world-will-end-in-fire-some-say-inAs we’ve seen many times before, this week Climate Crisis Central put out a scary story about glaciers melting, and captive news outlets dutifully amplified the narrative.  For example, from my news aggregator:

Global satellite data shows how much every glacier on Earth is melting Metro.co.uk

Researchers claim glacier melting has accelerated all around the world Slashgear

Our disappearing glaciers / World will lose 10% of glacier ice even if it hits climate targets The Guardian

A Massive Study of Nearly Every Glacier on Earth Just Revealed a Devastating Trend ScienceAlert

Glacier melt is speeding up, raising seas – study RTE

Global glacier melt is speeding up Swiss Info

Study of nearly every glacier on Earth shows ice loss is speeding up Live Science

Climate change: Accelerated global glacier mass loss in the twenty-first century(Nature) Nature Asia

Glacier melt is speeding up, raising seas: global study France 24

Expert reaction to study looking at global glacier mass loss in the 21st century Science Media Centre

Global glacier retreat has accelerated ETH Zurich

Glacier retreat leading to ‘humanitarian crisis’, says top scientist The Independent

World’s Glaciers Melting Faster Than Ever, With Alaska’s Rate Among ‘Highest on the Planet’ NBC Connecticut

Etc., Etc., Etc.

Yes glaciers individually and seasonally advance and retreat over time, and many people depend on the meltwater to survive. The hype is deceptive in several aspects. Typically, present glacier extents are put into hysterical rather than historical context. Also, the amounts of ice lost are never referenced to the total existing ice mass observed over time. Finally, the attribution of local temperature trends to fossil fuels emissions is presumed without evidence of causation. Some examples of sound scientific analyses provide an antidote to the glaciermania.

Alpine Glaciers Wax and Wane, Don’t Panic

06_infographic_wocc

Prof. em. Christian Schlüchter is a geologist and has studied the glaciers of the Alps in great detail. He reports the findings of very old timber in and below glaciers and what those trees taught him about the glacial epochs of the Alps.  One of the most intuitive finds of Schlüchter’s is this huge tree trunk, found at a glacier tongue (see the most beautiful glacier snout behind!).

schluechterbaum

This place nowadays is clearly above the limit of vegetation and still there is this tree which attracted Schlüchter’s curiosity and fuelled his research: How old is it? Where and under what conditions has it grown and why is it here.

The key message from his slides is that all of these records were left in times when the alpine glacier extent was smaller than in 2005.

Warm periods: more life

The timberline was at least 300 meters higher which indicates a minimum of 1.8° C higher temperatures. An example of this gives Hannibal, who managed to cross the Alps with elephants because the higher regions were much less covered by ice than in recent centuries.

Warm periods: more civilization

As his summary, Schlüchter gave the following facts:

  • More than 50% of the last 11000 years alpine glaciers were smaller than 2005
  • This fact he baptized, “dominance of the Hannibalistic world”
  • Alpine glaciers have shown huge dynamics
  • Events of glacier growth were fast and short
  • The little ice age (from the end of the medieval warm period to about 1850) was the longest glacier extension since the last ice age 12000 years ago
  • Every warming followed an accelerated glacier growth

And more recent news Alpine glaciers are not going away:  Alps Winter Warming “Not Significant”…”Astonishing Contrast Between Official Measurements And Public Opinion”

Austrian researcher skeptic Günther Aigner examined 12 mountains stations across the Alps, spanning Switzerland, Germany and Austria, in order to find out how winter temperatures have developed over the past 50 years.  The temperature data from 12 mountain stations in the European Alps show no winter warming in over 30 years, contradicting alarmist claims.

For more on presentations at the 2019 Munich Climate Realism conference that was interrupted by Antifa thugs see post Munich Climate Conference 2019

Alaska Great for Picking Cherries

Alaska 2019 and 2020

Background from 2017 post Glaciermania

The Weather Network (who do a decent job on local weather forecasting) are currently raving about Glaciers:

You know climate change is getting serious when rivers are resorting to piracy.

Canadian geomorphologist Dr. Daniel Shugar and his team headed to the Yukon last year to study changes in the flow of the Slims River, only to find out the river was gone.

The Slims, which was fed by the Kaskawulsh glacier, has become the victim of the first case of what’s known as river piracy in modern recorded history.

The team’s investigation soon turned up the culprit – the retreat of the Kaskawulsh Glacier, which has been retreating thanks to more than a century of climate warming.

What Actually Happened

web_0416-nw-na-climatemap

For context and scientific perspective we can turn to papers like this one:  Contemporary Glacier Processes and Global Change: Recent Observations from Kaskawulsh Glacier and the Donjek Range, St. Elias Mountains 

One of the most iconic and best studied outlet glaciers of the St. Elias Mountains, Kaskawulsh Glacier was the focus of much glaciological research during the Icefield Ranges Research Project between the 1960s and early 1970s  and contemporary studies suggest that the glacier is temperate throughout. The current area of Kaskawulsh Glacier is ~1095 km2. Ice thicknesses range from 539 m near the topographic divide with the upper Hubbard Glacier and ~500 m at the confluence of the north and central arms at ~1750 m asl to 778 m at ~1600 m asl. The equilibrium line altitude is estimated from 2007 late summer satellite imagery as 1958 m asl, and it appears to have changed little since the 1970s.

The size of Kaskawulsh Glacier has varied considerably through time, with radiocarbon dating suggesting that it expanded by tens of kilometres into the Shakwak Valley (currently occupied by Kluane Lake) ~30 kya during the Wisconsinan Glaciation. In the historical past, Borns and Goldthwait (1966) mapped three sets of Little Ice Age moraines in the glacier forefield on the basis of distinctive variations in vegetation cover, morphology, and the ages of trees and shrubs.

Kaskawulsh Glacier was advancing by the early 1500s and reached its maximum recent position by approximately AD 1680. A recent study based on tree-ring dates suggests that the Slims River lobe reached its greatest Little Ice Age extent in the mid-1750s, whereas the Kaskawulsh River lobe reached its maximum extent around 1717. However, it appears that the glacier did not start retreating from this position until the early to middle 1800s. The recent discovery of a Geological Survey of Canada map of the glacier terminus from 1900 to 1904 indicates that the glacier was still in a forward position at that time, suggesting that most of the terminus retreat occurred in the 20th century.

Recent studies conducted by researchers at the University of Alaska and the University of Ottawa indicate that ice losses from Kaskawulsh Glacier have continued through the latter half of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st century, although evidence for any recent acceleration in loss rates is equivocal.

Of the 19 glacierized regions of the world outside of the ice sheets, the region including the St. Elias Mountains made the second highest glaciological contribution to global sea level during the period 1961 – 2000. Only Arctic Canada is expected to exceed this region in sea-level contribution over the 21st century.

The St. Elias Mountains exhibit high interannual variability in ice mass change, which is due in part to the abundance of surge-type and tidewater glaciers in different stages of their respective cycles. Ice dynamics can be a confounding influence when attempting to isolate the effects of climate as an external driver of glacier change. 

About the Two Gorilla Glaciers

World Land Ice Mass

A webpage What is the global volume of land ice and how is it changing? at Antarctic Glaciers.org provides some basic statistics for perspective on land ice.  They provide this table:

World ice table AG org

Notice what they’ve done with this graphic.  A different measure of ice volume hides the proportion of ice melt, covering up how myopic and lop-sided is the alarmist case.  Let’s look at the same table revised with comparable metrics.

World ice table in Gt

 

Now the realities are obvious  99% of the world land ice is on top of Antarctica (88%) and Greenland (11%).  All the fuss in the media above concerns fluctuations in less than 1% of glacier mass.  Secondly, the bottom line is should present melt rates continue ( a big if ) the world would lose 3% of land ice in 1000 years.  Note also the wide range of estimates of the smallest category of glaciers, and also the uncertain reported volume change for East Antarctica.  Note that the melt rates are for 2012 to 2016, leaving out lower previous rates and periods when ice mass gained.

Add to this a recent analysis NASA Surface Station Data Show East Antarctica NOT WARMING Past 4 Decades…Cooling Trend.  

See also Blinded by Antarctica Reports

As for Greenland ice sheet, read the recent research at post  Oh No! Greenland Melts in Virtual Reality “Experiments”.  Excerpts below:

The scare du jour is about Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) and how it will melt out and flood us all.  It’s declared that GIS has passed its tipping point, and we are doomed.  Typical is the Phys.org hysteria: Sea level rise quickens as Greenland ice sheet sheds record amount:  “Greenland’s massive ice sheet saw a record net loss of 532 billion tonnes last year, raising red flags about accelerating sea level rise, according to new findings.”

gis-smb-2017-to-2020

Panic is warranted only if you treat this as proof of an alarmist narrative and ignore the facts and context in which natural variation occurs. For starters, consider the last four years of GIS fluctuations reported by DMI and summarized in the eight graphs above.  Note the noisy blue lines showing how the surface mass balance (SMB) changes its daily weight by 8 or 10 gigatonnes (Gt) around the baseline mean from 1981 to 2010.  Note also the summer decrease between May and August each year before recovering to match or exceed the mean.

The other four graphs show the accumulation of SMB for each of the last four years including 2020.  Tipping Point?  Note that in both 2017 and 2018, SMB ended about 500 Gt higher than the year began, and way higher than 2012, which added nothing.  Then came 2019 dropping below the mean, but still above 2012.  Lastly, this year is matching the 30-year average.  Note also that the charts do not integrate from previous years; i.e. each year starts at zero and shows the accumulation only for that year.  Thus the gains from 2017 and 2018 do not result in 2019 starting the year up 1000 Gt, but from zero.

Summary

So it is a familiar story. A complex naturally fluctuating situation, in this case glaciers, is abused by activists to claim support for their agenda. I have a lot of respect for glaciologists; it is a deep, complex subject, and the field work is incredibly challenging. And since “glacial” describes any process where any movement is imperceptible, I can understand their excitement over something happening all of a sudden.

But I do not applaud those pandering to the global warming/climate change crowd. They seem not to realize they debase their own field of study by making exaggerated claims and by “jumping the shark.”

Meanwhile real scientists are doing the heavy lifting and showing restraint and wisdom about the limitations of their knowledge.

kyvp5x

 

 

2021 Class Warfare: The Elite vs. The Middle

Aristotle Middle Class Edward Ring explains in his essay at American Greatness Why America’s Elites Want to End the Middle Class.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Feudalism is a viable alternative to tolerating a middle class, especially lucrative to the multinational corporations and globalist billionaires that hide this agenda behind a moral masquerade.

It doesn’t require a conspiracy theorist to suggest these wholesale shifts in American culture are not happening by accident. Nor are they solely the result of nefarious intent, at least not among everyone occupying the highest rungs of power and influence in America. What motivates members of the American elite, billionaires and corporate boards alike, to approve of these radical changes?

Unsustainable Prosperity for Me, But Not for Thee?

One answer comes down to this: They believe the lifestyle of the American middle class is not sustainable, because the planet does not have the carrying capacity to extend an American level of consumption to everyone in the world. By dividing and confusing the American people, while wielding the moral bludgeons of saving the planet and eliminating racism, policies can be implemented that will break the American middle class and habituate them to expect less.

In the name of saving the planet, for example, new suburbs will become almost impossible to construct. Single-family detached homes with yards will be stigmatized as both unsustainable and racist, and to mitigate these evils, subsidized apartments will replace homes, with rent subsidized occupants. As America’s population grows via mass immigration, the footprint of cities will remain fixed. The politically engineered housing shortage will force increasing numbers of Americans into subsidized housing.

All of this is already happening, but it’s just getting started.
Similar cramdowns will occur with respect to all social amenities that consume resources.

Land is just the primary example, but water, energy, and transportation will all be affected. This new political economy will also depopulate rural areas—through corporate consolidation of farmland as regulations and resource costs drive small operations under and through punitive regulations and insurance burdens driving people out of the “urban-wildland interface.” Outside of major cities, for the most part, the only people left will be extremely wealthy landowners and corporate employees.

Joel Kotkin, who has studied and written about demographics and migrations for years, recently authored The Coming of Neo Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. Of all the shorthand descriptions for the political economy that is coming, feudalism may be the best fit. As Kotkin puts it:

The new class structure resembles that of Medieval times. At the apex of the new order are two classes―a reborn clerical elite, the clerisy, which dominates the upper part of the professional ranks, universities, media and culture, and a new aristocracy led by tech oligarchs with unprecedented wealth and growing control of information. These two classes correspond to the old French First and Second Estates.

Below these two classes lies what was once called the Third Estate. This includes the yeomanry, which is made up largely of small businesspeople, minor property owners, skilled workers and private-sector-oriented professionals. Ascendant for much of modern history, this class is in decline while those below them, the new Serfs, grow in numbers―a vast, expanding property-less population.

Both Kotkin and Hanson assert that the trend towards feudalism can be reversed if people understand what is occurring and react effectively. To that end, it is necessary to understand that behind the obvious benefit these new rules have in service of the elites and their interests, there is a moral pretext. How solid is that pretext, that America’s middle class is not sustainable?

It All Comes Down to Energy

Energy is the prerequisite for economic growth. If you have abundant energy, you can have abundant water, transportation, communications, light, heat, mechanized agriculture, refrigerated medicines; everything. And the cold fact confronting America’s elites is this: For everyone on earth to consume half as much energy as Americans consume, total energy production worldwide would have to more than double.

Can America’s middle class sustain its current lifestyle while consuming half as much energy as it does today? Or is it feasible for energy production in the world not merely to double, but quadruple? And if that can be done, is it possible without paying too high a price in terms of environmental impact? And if it cannot be done, can the American experience, which is to enjoy a lifestyle many times greater than that enjoyed by most of the rest of the people on earth, be justified? And if so, why?

These are tough questions. Unequivocal, simple answers to these questions do not exist. But the conventional answer that motivates America’s elites must nonetheless be challenged, because until it is, they will cloak their consolidation of power and their elimination of America’s middle class in the moral imperatives of saving the planet and eliminating racism.

It may seem illogical to suppose the “systemic racism” canard is more easily disposed of, but that’s only because racism, by design, is the ongoing obsession in American media and politics. Despite this well-engineered obsession, resolute opposition to “anti-racist” racism is growing because it is an obvious lie. Racism, from all sources, still exists. But systemic racism against nonwhites, from every angle you look at it in modern American society, simply does not exist. Politicians, journalists, and academics need to find the courage to explain the facts and turn the tide. It can be done.

Saving the planet, on the other hand, is a moral imperative with ongoing urgency.

This urgency may be divided into two broad categories. The first is the traditional concerns of environmentalists, to preserve wildlife and wilderness, and reduce or eliminate sources of pollution. While environmentalists, especially in the United States, often go way too far in addressing these traditional concerns, these are genuine moral imperatives that must be balanced against the economic needs of civilization. This is an important but manageable debate.

The second, new concern of environmentalists, however, is the “climate emergency.” Grossly overblown, hyped for reasons that are transparently opportunistic, fraught with potential for tyranny and punitively expensive, the “climate emergency,” more than anything else, is the moral justification for destroying the American middle class.

In the name of saving the climate, federal and certain state authorities are restricting fossil fuel development, despite the fact that fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—still produce 85 percent of worldwide energy, with nuclear and hydropower making up another 11 percent. If energy production is going to double, which at a minimum it must, how on earth will that be accomplished without fossil fuel? It is impossible.

And the planners who are suppressing fossil fuel development worldwide know it. By creating shortages and raising prices for everything, they intend to reduce median rates of consumption in America to a fraction of what it is today, and render a middle-class lifestyle completely out of reach to the average American.

In doing so, they’ll amass even more wealth for themselves.

The Better Way Forward

There is another path. By focusing on the most likely predictions instead of the most catastrophic, nations can focus on climate resiliency—something which is a good idea anyway—while continuing to develop clean fossil fuel and also continuing to develop leapfrog technologies such as nuclear fusion. The environmental benefit of this approach is tangible and profound: with energy comes prosperity, with prosperity comes lower birthrates. With energy, inviting urban centers are possible, and urbanization takes pressure off wilderness. In both cases, with abundant energy, people voluntarily choose to limit their family size and move to cities.

A moral case for fossil fuels can outweigh the supposedly moral case against fossil fuel. Americans have to be willing to fight that fight, along with every other tyrannical edict attendant to the “climate emergency,” starting with the restrictions on urban expansion and single-family homes.

With adherence to the principles and culture that made America great—competition, private ownership, rule of law, minimizing corruption, and rewarding innovation—America’s middle class can survive and grow. But feudalism is a viable alternative, especially lucrative to the multinational corporations and globalist billionaires who will never call it by that name, hiding instead behind a moral masquerade.

Background from Joel Kotkin Modern Politics Seen as Classes Power Game

See also Unmasking Biden’s Climate Shakedown

gv020921dapr20210209064505

 

Revolution: Sentiment Now Overrules Sense

election-meddling-meghan-markle-all-but-endorses-joe-biden-crossing-political-line-that-is-off

Dominic Green describes the sociopolitical coup in his Spectator article Meghan ’n’ Joe’s empire of the sentiments.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Biden dispenses serotonin the way Barack Obama dispensed drone strikes

If your facts don’t care about my feelings, then my feelings aren’t obliged to care about your facts. The facts in Joe Biden’s energetic, inspiring and exhilarating address to the nation last night were frequently as unsteady as the speaker. But the feelings that Biden expressed were, unlike the previous president who must not be named, unimpeachable.

He knows how it feels, he said with that now-customary surge of anger, as if he’s not fully in control of his frontal cortex. And we know how it feels when someone says they know how we feel. Consider everything fixed: COVID, racism, opioids, deficits, the collapse of the schools, the children at the border. The Therapeute-in-Chief is here, dispensing serotonin the way Barack Obama dispensed drone strikes.

It doesn’t matter whether Biden means what he says, any more that it matters whether Meghan Markle told the truth when she implied that her son was denied a prince’s title because he might have dark skin. It’s the feelings that matter: feelings of security, empathy and contentment, and especially the feeling that Nietzsche correctly foresaw as the root feeling of modern life, resentment.

quote-resentment-is-like-drinking-poison-and-then-hoping-it-will-kill-your-enemies-nelson-mandela-38-6-0685

The result is the rule of sentiment over thought and symbols over reality. The Biden administration didn’t invent the moral and humanitarian disaster at the southern border. But it has produced a new crisis by altering the laws to satisfy sentiment.

It feels cruel to return unaccompanied minors, as the Trump administration did, and to hold them in prison-like conditions, as both the Obama and Trump administrations did. But the fact is, Biden’s policies have fostered a greater cruelty.

Biden has created new incentives for human trafficking and the worse kinds of child exploitation.

The result is a surge in border crossings that even a professional euphemist like secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas calls ‘overwhelming’, and the spectacle of would-be illegal immigrants kneeling at the border while wearing t-shirts reading ‘Biden let us in’.

kid-migrants-913x479-1

This is what Biden gets for taking a knee as a craven genuflection to BLM. This is what he gets for accusing Donald Trump of being a racist and sadist for caging unaccompanied minors — even though Biden was vice president when the cages were built, and even though Biden now presides over a greater influx. And this is what we get: a theater of the sentiments, in which the actors and audience are so jaded that their senses and check books can only be stimulated by that reliable and obscene soap-opera trick, putting children’s lives in the balance.

Asked if the word ‘crisis’ applied, the President’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, refuses to call it anything at all — because she would feel bad, and we would feel bad, and Biden would look bad, if we called it for what it is. It is easier for the administration to resent the Mexican children for putting us in this moral bind, and resent the Republicans, who aren’t short of their own resentments when it comes to immigration, for making hay with it.

bg031121dapr20210311014503

The fact is that this is a crisis. It reflects the corrupt failure of Washington DC and the cold self-interest of corporations who want cheap labor, unions who don’t want it, and, in the middle, the upper-middle-class donors who dislike foreigners who don’t speak English, but need them to bus their tables, do their lawns and wipe their children’s backsides.

Given the complexities of the facts and the appeal of a flight into sentiment, it’s no wonder that this week the administration and media did direct us to pity the children. Meghan and Harry, that is.

Jennifer Psaki commends Meghan and Harry for the ‘courage’ it took to sit down with Oprah and make unsubstantiated allegations against his family. Their kind of fact-light, sentiment-heavy self-promotion and self-therapy was, Psaki told us, one of the areas that Biden is ‘committed to in the future’.

alg031221dapr20210312044519

Biden’s increasingly vague routines of empathy are the symbolic face and velvet glove of a bureaucracy of the sentiments whose offices run from government to the media.

Biden is very old. After him, the gloves will be off and the face will be hardened with more than Botox. We’ll get this decayed form of democracy good and hard, and we’ll be told it should feel good. And that’s a fact.

sentiments over sense

See also Head, Heart and Science