We Are Lucky This Idiot Was Not Named Secretary Of State

There’s been a little buzz over what Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said the other day. His remarks sound racist, unless you put them into the context of affirmative action and political correctness — which is a debatable dodge. A critic’s view:

Let’s leave aside the question of whether he is right about that that and consider how he thinks the government’s (i.e., your) money ought to be spent. “I am concerned,” he said on C-SPAN, “. . . that these jobs not simply go to high skilled people who are already professional or to white male construction workers.”

Here’s a little experiment thought (he means “thought experiment” — Ed.): what if Mr. Reich had said “I am concerned that these jobs not go to black male construction workers”? What then?

Well, racial hatred and bitterness, then. And a very nasty turn in the nature of the culture war, that’s what. Why couldn’t this moron have simply said, “We need to know that our money is being allocated fairly and according to existing guidelines, of course”? (Answer: because he’s a moron.)

Shut the hell up, Reich. You’re so maladroit you’re dangerous. Just shut the hell up and stay shut up.

This Is Nothing To Take Lightly, But Everyone Seems To Disagree

Don’t go on the internet with Microsoft Windows! The botnets are coming.

“I don’t know why people aren’t more afraid of these programs,” said a computer scientist at Georgia Tech.

For the astute individual, there is nothing inevitable about the coming plague. You can be immune. Apple and FreeBSD are good choices, with Apple better for those who don’t want to learn some new tricks. Linux comes in many flavors (this is best overall, with runners-up to be found here, there and way over there, just for openers). The options are genuine. Inform yourself.

Oh, Look — There’s Barney Frank!

See Barney Frank. See him work. Barney Frank is working. Work, work, Barney, work hard!

What is Barney doing? Can you see? Oh, let’s take a quiz! What is the answer? What is Barney Frank up to now? Pick the right answer, everybody!

A. Barney is helping some poor people move into a house they can’t afford and will have to leave, heartbroken and dispirited, in six months.

B. Barney is watching benevolently as his room-mate runs a homosexual prostitution ring out of Barney’s tony apartment.

C. Barney is using his political office to direct the taxpayers’ money to his favorite bank; no, no, that’s not “corruption,” it’s the way things are done in Barney’s state. He’s part of the Eastern elite, you know.

D. Barney is herding ostriches in Tibet.

And what’s the answer?? Oh, wow, it’s C!! Well, my goodness, you get partial credit for A, because Barney used to do this, and for B as well, for the same reason. And you get a teensy bit of credit for D, because many people in the USA want to see that come true. Lots of people hope to see that. Oh my yes.

Links For The Discerning And The Disconcerting

Perhaps no Western nation has done more to betray its heritage than has The Netherlands. As a result, Dutchmen are leaving at an unprecedented rate. The country is literally being abandoned to Islam.

Oops. Hamas and Iran are not going to like this discovery.

“…researchers transmitted information between atoms a meter apart without the data actually crossing that space….” it says here. True action at a distance? Almost certainly not. It’s the old “prior establishment of entanglement” dodge we all remember from grade school; that’s the King’s X of quantum mechanics, AKA the phudge phactor of phreaky physics. But we’ll see.

All together now: Awwwwww….! OK, now you can either watch it again, or you can plop down in front of the TV and let Katie Couric explain the world to you. Choices, choices….

Holder continues to fascinate. Let’s see now, what was that other fellow’s name? Oh, yes, John Mitchell. Martha’s husband. Nixon’s buddy. Ah, well — nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. These days it’s a pain in the neck because it just reminds us that we have not learned from past outrages.

Nothing to see here, Folks, so keep moving…that’s it, just keep going….

Hard to believe — until you see it on almost ten minutes of video. When the police flee, who will stand and defend the citizenry? The locale is, to its eternal shame, London….

Californians, consider that there is a reason for this factoid: “…last year, 144,000 people fled from California’s punishing taxes, the highest state-to-state migration in the U.S.” The rascals in Sacramento have long misgoverned your state, and if you don’t toss them out — and “them” includes some state supreme court justices — the abuse will never stop.

From The Field Guide To Politicians And Media Types, Second Edition, by Barry Einfach, Simplicissimus Press, 2009: How to identify a liberal. Oh, really??

Crikey, it’s lese majeste committed against the Eastern elite. How dare he? As the caution goes, “Touch not the cat bot a glove,” which is Scottish (yeah, it should be Irish, but this is close enough) for, “They’ll nail you, you idiot.”

Here’s a guide to straight thinking that tries to convince you fallacies are often (or sometimes, maybe) better than rationality because they are so much easier and more fun to believe than the alternative. Not recommended for those on their way to Las Vegas; for everybody else, thought-provoking.

Is this a restoration of sanity effected by a change of administrations, or just blatant hypocrisy? Call it what you will, it’s interesting. Click on the links to savor the wholesome goodness of the unfamiliar concepts.

Oh, no. Real trouble. The West is going to have to face the fact that any Islamic nation is likely to become a threat simply because its “moderates” are unwilling to take a firm stand against their more faith-besotted co-religionists.

You thought the PenPo did not carry advertising, right?

Zoological lexicology: “weasel words” exemplified.

From The Archive

The following is a transcript of a faux TV broadcast of “The Uncle Chuckles Show,” a children’s program. The date is uncertain, but it comes from the period before The Terrapin Gazette was created.

Uncle Chuckles Provides An Economics Lesson For The Young Folks (Or For Those Who Can Benefit From Plain Talk About Buying And Selling)

Hi, Kids!

(Cheers and cries of, “Hi, Uncle!!”)

It’s great to be back, and see all of you again. What I have for you today is not another round of Frog-squashing…(moans and groans of disappointment from audience) …but a few words about winners and losers.

I was reading the local rag the other day (shouts of, “No! No! Get a REAL newspaper, Uncle!”) and I saw that a winner stopped by Bangkok. This guy is a Nobel laureate, and wow, that makes him a winner, big-time!

You know the world loves a winner, and anyone who can get a Nobel has pulled off something big.

(Muttering and mumbling from audience.)

Now, now, I know what you’re thinking. I’m not talking about some of the embarrassments the Nobel committee has lauded in past years — not all of its peace prize winners have been terribly convincing, (breaks into bad German accent, spoken with deep, raspy voice) iff you know vaht I mean, ja?

(Audience howls with laughter; Uncle Chuckles resumes normal voice.)

Right. Old Doctor Strangelove, the guy who was rewarded for a policy that utterly failed to establish peace, and then accomplished nothing good while millions were packed off into slavery. Hah!

(Cheers and shouts of, “Heinrich the K, No Way!” and, “Herr Hairball!”)

Well, the guy I’m talking about today, the one who was in Bangkok recently to tell us what’s up, got his award for his work in chemistry. His name is Yuan Lee, he’s from Taiwan, he got his Nobel in 1986, and he’s no dummy. But get a load of these quotes:

(A hush falls on the audience, as the children lean forward to listen.)

First, he says, “When it comes to competition, there are both winners and losers. And the countries that lag behind in the race have to live in poverty.”

(A boy in the second row makes vomiting noises, upsetting the girl in front of him, and three girls in the fifth row howl in laughter. The audience begins to buzz.)

What’s that, Susie? …. Right. Very few countries “live in poverty.” There’s Haiti, and some places in central Africa, and maybe we could add Cuba because there is not enough money for drugs for the hospitals, and North Korea where people starve and even eat each other…but basically, all nations have some poverty, and some have more than others.

(A boy in the audience shouts, “Poverty is relative. Sometimes it’s a matter of inadequate capital, sometimes war. Besides, nations that do not compete as efficiently as others are not true losers — they just have relative disadvantages.”)

That’s exactly right, Johnny. So let’s see what else Mr. Chemistry has to say: “Some people benefit from economic globalization, and some people don’t.”

(Pandemonium. Several children rush out of the seats and try to lead cheers denouncing the Nobel laureate, while one with a particularly shrill voice manages to be heard over the tumult: “The Fallacy of the Unavailable Utopia!!”)

Ha, ha — too right, Boys and Girls. Lee the Clueless thinks that unless all problems can be solved, improvements — even massive ones — should be prevented. But we all know, don’t we?

(Uncle Chuckles pauses, and the audience takes a collective deep breath. Then the ear-splitting mantra thunders through the studio: “This is Earth, not Heaven! U-to-pi-a is im-poss-i-ble! Pro-gress, not per-fec-tion“)

And how! That was great, Boys and Girls. We all know, even if the Big People don’t, that it is idiocy to stand in the way of vast improvements because they can’t save everybody.

(Boy stands and shouts, “Yes, Uncle! And we know that Dr. Barnett shows us that globalization is the only hope of the world’s poor!”Cheer goes up. Several girls start chant, “Bar-nett, Bar-nett, our kind of Pee-Aitch-Dee! Bar-nett, Bar-nett, a sage for you and me!”As audience subsides, Uncle Chuckles continues.)

You know, Boys and Girls, I have to wonder what this Lee fellow is hinting at. He says there are winners and losers…does he have a plan in which there are no losers at all?

(Gasps from audience, and a little girl bursts into tears.)

No, no, I don’t mean to suggest that he’s right! After all, we can see that he’s already gone off the rails, can’t we?

(Weeping girl coughs, looks up and smiles at Uncle Chuckles.)

That’s it! Let’s see what else this chemical genius has to say, and…well, I don’t want to give it away, Kids, but my guess is he’s out to lunch! You know, playing tiddlywinks with his dim sum! Here’s what he says after he talks about how some don’t benefit from globalization: “This is the dilemma of globalization.”

(Boy in top row of seats interrupts: “Dilemma, my patootie. There’s no dilemma. A dilemma is a problem that offers two solutions; this guy doesn’t realize that globalization offers infinite choices, infinite solutions, infinite strategies, and infinite outcomes — while isolation from the rest of the world, even if it is partial, restricts not only choices, but hope!”)

Eric, you rascal — you’ve been reading Bastiat again, haven’t you? Well, let me continue with Lee’s words: “Economists don’t talk about it. Their mind is set on trade and a market-driven economy.”

(Girl in front row starts to choke, then blurts out, “Their mind, singular?? What’s with this guy? He thinks all economists add up to one mind? Cripes, Uncle Chuckles, anyone who knows anything about economics knows there is no single school of thought…The Chicago School, von Mises, Keynes, Friedman, and all the collectivist types….!”)

Right, Antoinette. Economics is not a science, it’s a developing and unfolding study. To say that all economists think alike is shocking ignorance.

But wait, there’s more from our man Lee. He claims the USA is wasteful, and then says that — and these are his words — “the so-called civilized countries” in Southeast Asia have picked up the USA’s bad habits.

(Loud squawk from Thai boy, who jumps up and demands, “Who is this bozo calling `so-called civilized’? I’d like a piece of Lee, he’s an insulting creep, calling his hosts `so-called civilized’!!”)

Well, Lek, not all Chinese are — pardon the expression — “so-called civilized.” Some don’t have any manners at all. Tell you what, if we run into Lee outside, I’ll hold him while you kick him where it hurts the most.

(Deafening cheer from audience. Someone starts chant, “Pa-per, pa-per, who in-vent-ed it? Gun-powd’r, gun-powd’r, who in-vent-ed it? Race-ism, race-ism, who in-vent-ed it?”)

Well, Kids, Lee is nothing if not consistent. In the next paragraph of the story in this alleged newspaper, he’s quoted as referring to the USA as one of the “so-called developed countries.” I guess you could call him an equal-opportunity bigot, eh?

(Girl blurts out, “Right, Uncle Chuckles — it’s one from column A, where you find the so-called civilized dishes, and two from column B, where you find the so-called developed entrees. It’s a menu for people who don’t care about nourishing their intellects.”)

Well, Daphne, I agree with you, and I’m glad to see that now that you’re a big girl — eight years old, right? Right — I’m glad to see that you have more common sense than this prize-winning chemist does.

OK, that’s enough of Lee and his bigotry and ignorance. But before we close the show today, I want to ask you to help me with something. I want to make a list of the winners and losers. Well, I want two lists, actually: one for free trade, which some people call globalization, and one for unfree trade and the avoidance of the world’s markets.

(Reaches behind chair and retrieves bottle of Laphroaig.)

So tell, me, Boys and Girls, what exactly is free trade, anyway?

(Twists cork on bottle, pours two fingers in small glass.)

How about you, Robbie?

(Boy stands and says, “Free trade is easy to define. It’s an unrestricted market, a market in which the buyer has the full range of choices. He can buy whatever good or hire whatever service he wants from anyone who is willing to provide it.”)

Great, Robbie. The buyer can select from everyone who wants to get his money. So what is unfree trade? How is it implemented?

(Several kids stand up, but the biggest, a girl of perhaps ten, screams the loudest: “Unfree trade is imposed by the police power of the state. Its function is to limit the choices of the consumer. It is a set of laws, sometimes import duties and sometimes outright bans on imports or on individuals and corporate entities who wish to sell, that can either drive up the price of some goods or take them off the market entirely.”)

Nice, Beth. So far, so good; the function of unfree trade is clear. But what about its intent? So tell me, Eddie, who benefits from unfree trade?

(Uncle Chuckles sips peaty liquid and relaxes perceptibly; Eddie replies: “I know, it’s the people who are allowed by law to sell their goods or provide their services. They constitute an elite that has political clout. They get laws passed to protect them from lower-priced and/or better quality goods and services. That’s the intent of unfree trade.”

(While Uncle Chuckles smiles approvingly, a girl stands and continues, “This system operates as a kind of mafia. In most democratic political systems, what are called lobbyists represent the would-be elite to the government. Lobbyists try to get laws passed to prevent competition from being open. That is to say, they do what they can to keep the consumers from having and exercizing the full range of choices. Sometimes this is done for nationalistic motives, sometimes for high-sounding principles and so on, but much of the time it’s just corruption at work. Bribery, in other words.”)

Nicely put, Marie. So you have the government favoring this or that clique, right? In some parts of the world, this is called “crony capitalism.” In other parts it’s called protectionism. But whatever you call it, it’s just….

(Audience takes deep breath, and then roars, “Moose poop!” Hysterical laughter ensues. Uncle Chuckles grins broadly, takes a sip of his Scotch, and gets comfortable on his stool.)

Well, Kids, that means that if you have the pull, the political importance, you can win under unfree trade. So tell me, are there any other winners?

(A thunderous bellow from the audience: “NO!!” Uncle Chuckles smiles, takes another sip, and licks his lips noisily.)

All right, then. One and only one group of winners under unfree trade — the folks who can get the state to protect them from competition. So, and I’m sure you can smell this one coming, who loses under unfree trade?

(Several children jump up, giggle helplessly for a moment, and then recite in unison: “All consumers lose. All sellers kept out of the market lose.”)

Yep. That means that…

(A boy stands and responds proudly, “The consumer is exploited by the elite. Buyers are abused, restricted in their actions and thereby forced to accept a lower standard of living in order to concentrate wealth in the hands of a powerful minority. It is a mockery of democracy and governance.” Uncle Chuckles applauds, and the audience joins him.)

The other side of the coin is pretty interesting, isn’t it, Kids? Who can tell me who wins when markets are free?

(A girl stands and says in a rush, “All consumers have more choices, and the competition among sellers and providers drives prices down while sustaining quality as well as allowing for tiers within the market. That means luxury goods and middle-priced goods don’t compete with low-priced, low-quality goods; each enjoys its own niche market. The standard of living is optimized for all consumers.”)

Yes, it’s a matter of options and choices, as Natalie points out. Who else benefits from free markets?

(A boy stands and proclaims, “Virtually all vendors benefit. They are free to enter the market, free to try to make money, and many of them will do well — because there is more disposable income in a free economy. The more unfree the economy is, the lower the standard of living.”)

Correct, Chris, but I can just hear the economic cretins pulling their fingers out of their noses and starting to bleat about “too many” vendors, and folks who can’t keep up. What about that…Ed?

(Boy stands and says, “Multiple vendors is a good thing, and not just for the buyers. Consider the case of this big building here in Bangkok, Pantip Plaza, where there are a million computer stores. They are all cheek by jowl, and they compete with each other like crazy. Yet because they compete, and because they are clustered, more consumers show up than if competition were not free and the vendors were far apart. Consequently everybody in Pantip Plaza does more business, and gets more repeat customers. Over even a brief time, there is no such thing as too many vendors in a market, because the market will correct any temporary imbalance, which is to say — some vendors will close their doors.”)

That’s right, Ed. Now I have to caution you that our enemies, the enemies of Liberty, are not done with this. They hate the idea that some vendors might be forced out of the market by the economic realities of consumer choice. Instead, they want to limit the vendors from the first, enriching this small group of privileged insiders at the expense of many, many would-be vendors and at the expense of all consumers. That’s…

(Girl stands and finishes Uncle Chuckles’s sentence for him: “That’s the evil behind unfree markets. The motive is to enrich the elite by controlling the buying behavior of everyone else, and that is simply wrong. It’s nasty and icky!”)

Mattie, I could not have said it better myself.

(Takes long pull on drink, pours another three fingers.)

So we have our choices, don’t we, Boys and Girls? We can either benefit all consumers and most vendors, or we can screw…er, I mean cheat and exploit all consumers, do the same to many possible vendors, and make a small minority undeservedly well-off.

(Boy stands and adds, “Exactly, Uncle Chuckles. We simply can’t distribute goods and services in a way that benefits everyone and leaves no one behind. When we have a free market, some will fail in it, and be swept away. Sad as that is, we have no way to save them — without doing a lot more damage. The choice is between a good system and a very bad one, not between a perfect system and a good one.”)

Mark has it organized, dressed right and covered down, Boys and Girls. He knows that the Fallacy of the Unavalvailiable, er, Unavailable Utopia is…is…

(A girl, taking pity on Uncle Chuckles, stands and helps him out. “We can’t have perfection. But we get to choose between, on the one hand, higher quality goods and services in greater profusion and at better prices with heightened business activity, or, on the other hand, a smaller range of less desirable goods and services at unreasonably higher prices that enrich a small number of people. It’s asking too much of us to put ourselves in the hands of the politically connected special interests who can get laws passed that only hurt us and hurt the majority of merchants and manufacturers. There is no Utopia, and there never will be. And you know what really pisses me off, Uncle Chuckles? This bozo from Taiwan, this economic charlatan who knows his chemistry but just spouts slogans about globalization and then insults everyone with his nasty invective, this goof wants us to think that under his unstated and unclarified ideas there would be no losers. He never actually says that, because he knows that if he tried to get us to swallow that lie, we would throw up immediately — so he emphasizes that there can be losers in a free market economy, and lets it go at that. He’s a dishonest pseudo-authority who’s using, well, abusing, his fame and credentials to promote reprehensible ideological untruths.”)

Whoa, Elizabeth, you really really shaid, er, said a mouthful, Babe! I just can’t believe how far you kids have come since I started this program. Why, in the beginning, many of you didn’t even know about the Smoot-Hawley tariff and how it made the Great Depression worse, and most of you thought consumerism was evil!

Well, I gotta go, now, Kids, ‘cuz this week’s Aunt Dolly is waiting backstage, and I don’t want her to start without me, I mean, she might get bored if I don’t join her soon. See you next time, everybody!

(Audience explodes in cheers, Uncle Chuckles moves toward stage right, turns around, goes back and gets bottle of Laphroaig, then walks off, waving to his adoring fans. Curtain.)