Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Boys are struggling in school, but this isn’t a hard problem to solve, Fred Reed says:

The problem could be solved in about ten minutes by having separate schools for boys, grade school through high school, with male teachers only and a death penalty for even uttering the word “Ritalin.” Let boys run, jump, wrestle, compete. Grade them on substance, which boys understand (How much algebra do you know?) not on diligence (Did you paste pretty pictures neatly in your unutterably boring, make-work project about diversity?)

Reward performance, not patience, and excellence, not being docile and cooperative and good in groups. Offer advanced courses that appeal to smart boys — calculus, for example — and grade on math learned, not homework done on time. Problem solved. It should gratify women, who don´t want boys in the schools anyway.

It is important to recognize that integration of the sexes is directly responsible for the slide by boys. Today’s schools are run by women for girls. Fine. Girls should be in schools run for girls. Boys should not. Female teachers want decorum and good behavior (not strong points for boys), dislike competitiveness, rambunctiousness and cutting up in class. Boys will engage in these unless heavily, and now chemically, restrained. Thus the drive to keep boys doped up.

Men as teachers can handle boys without having them led from class in handcuffs and subjected to psychotherapy because they drew a soldier with a rifle.

Living in a Dictatorship

Friday, June 28th, 2013

How does one tell whether one is living in a dictatorship, or almost?

The signs need not be so obvious as having a squat little man raving from balconies. Methinks the following indicators serve. In a dictatorship:

(1) Sweeping laws are made without reference to the will of the people. A few examples follow. Whether you think these laws desirable is not the point. Some will, others won’t. The point is that they were simply imposed from above. Many of them would never have survived a national vote.

Start with Roe vs. Wade, making abortion legal, and subsequent decisions allowing late-term abortion. Griggs versus Duke Power, forbidding employers from using tests of intelligence, since certain groups scored poorly. Brown versus the School Board and its offspring requiring forced integration, forced busing, racial quotas, and so on. The decision that Creationism cannot be mentioned in the schools. Decisions forbidding the public expression of Christianity. The decision that citizens can be stopped and searched without probable cause. The opening of the borders to mass immigration.

These are major, major laws grossly altering the social, legal, and constitutional fabric of the country. All were simply imposed, mostly by unelected judges against whom there is no recourse.

Note that there is no practical distinction between a decision by the Supreme Court, a regulation made by an executive bureaucracy, and a practice quietly adopted by the intelligence agencies and federal police. None of these requires public approval.

For that matter, consider the militarization of the police, the creation of Homeland Security’s Viper teams that randomly search cars, the vast and growing spying on Americans by government, and the genital gropings by TSA. Consider the endless undeclared wars that one finds out often only after the troops have been sent. All simply imposed from above.

In principle, elected officials represent the desires of their electorates. In practice Congress barely touches on most issues of concern to the public. Overturning any of the aforementioned types of laws is virtually impossible.

(2) Another measure of dictatorship is the extent to which the people fear the government. A time was when governmental official in general, and the police in particular, had to be cautious in pushing the citizenry around. A justified complaint to the chief of police brought consequences. Today the police can do as they please, and you have no recourse. The new aggressiveness applies especially to federal police. If you object to excessive intrusion by agents of TSA, they will make sure you miss your flight. In principle you can complain, but in practice the effect is zero.

(3) Dictatorships characteristically watch the citizenry very carefully, using the secret police and encouraging people to inform on each other. Both are now routine. Did you vote to have your email read, your telephone calls recorded, your browsing habits on the web turned over to the NSA or the FBI? No. And you have no recourse.

To one raised in a freer United States, it is astonishing to hear on the subway of Washington, DC constant admonitions to watch one’s fellow passengers and report “suspicious behavior.”


Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Fred Reed wonders what purpose the public schools serve — other than to warehouse children while their parents work or watch television:

They certainly don’t teach much, as survey after survey shows. Is there any particular reason for having them? Apart from their baby-sitting function, I mean.

Schooling, sez me, should be adapted to the needs and capacities of those being schooled. For unintelligent children, the study of anything beyond minimal reading is a waste of time, since they will learn little or nothing more. For the intelligent, a public schooling is equivalent to tying an anchor to a student swimmer. The schools are an impediment to learning, a torture of the bright, and a form of negligent homicide against a country that needs trained minds in a competitive world.

Let us start with the truly stupid. Millions of children graduate — “graduate” — from high school — “high school” — unable to read. Why inflict twelve years of misery on them? It is not reasonable to blame them for being witless, but neither does it make sense to pretend that they are not. For them school is custodial, nothing more. Since there is little they can do in a technological society, they will remain in custody all their lives. This happens, and must happen, however we disguise it.

For those of reasonably average acuity, it little profits to go beyond learning to read, which they can do quite well, and to use a calculator. Upon their leaving high school, question them and you find that they know almost nothing. They could learn more, average not being stupid, but modest intelligence implies no interest in study. This is true only of academic subjects such as history, literature, and physics. They will study things that seem practical to them. Far better to teach the modestly acute such things as will allow them to earn a living, be they typing, carpentry, or diesel repair. Society depends on such people. But why inflict upon them the geography of Southeast Asia, the plays of Shakespeare, or the history of the nineteenth century? Demonstrably they remember none of it.

Some who favor the public schools assert that an informed public is necessary to a functioning democracy. True, and beyond doubt. But we do not have an informed public, never have had one, and never will. Nor, really, do we have a functioning democracy.

Commentator’s Disease

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Beltway think-tanky types hang around almost entirely with other people in the 99th percentile of intelligence, and this, Fred Reed says, leads  them to develop commentator’s disease:

Denizens of this class know that if they decided to learn, say, classical Greek, they could. You get the book and go at it. It would take work, yes, and time, but the outcome would be certain.

They don’t understand that the waitress has an IQ of 85 and can’t learn much of anything.

Conservatives think in terms of merciless abstractions and liberals insist that everyone is equal. Not even close. Further, people with barely a high-school education and low-voltage minds regard any intellectual task with utter discouragement.
Liberal commentators want everyone to go to college, when about a fifth of people have the brains. Conservatives think that people can rise by hard work and sacrifice as certainly many people have. Thing is, most people can’t. Commentators only see those who made it.

The tendency of the Beltway 99th to live in an imaginary world, of conservatives to think that everybody can be a Horatio Alger, of liberals to believe that inequality arises from discrimination, guarantees wretched policy. Those who can do almost anything need to recognize the existence of those who can do almost nothing. Few of the latter are parasites. The waitress has worked all her life, as has the truck driver. They ended up with nothing.

Which is easy to do.

Immigration is not something Mexico did to the United States

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Immigration is not something Mexico did to the United States, Fred Reed says, but something the United States did to itself:

Decades ago it changed its laws to favor Latin immigrants, gives immigrant children born in the US citizenship, avidly employs the ilegals, forbids police to check their papers, give them social services and schooling, establishes “sanctuary cities,” and in general does everything but send them engraved invitations. And then expresses surprise when they come.

We hear endlessly that Mexicans are “taking the jobs of Americans.” Not quite. Reflect that every time a Mexican gets a job, it is because a shiny white noisily patriotic American businessman gives him that job.

Allowing the immigration in the first place was a terrible idea, Reed says, since diversity regularly proves disastrous, but now there is precious little to be done about it:

If I had the power, I would seal the border to stop the influx, declare blanket amnesty for those already in the country, and get on with life. Part of “getting on” would be to encourage assimilation since the last thing the US needs is another indigestible and permanent underclass.

Note (as I have never seen noted) that keeping them ilegal forces them into something close to an underclass. If Pablo wants to start a restaurant or auto-bodywork business, he can’t, because he will be asked for papers and eventually shut down.

The country seems to be trying to cause what it most doesn’t want. Some state or other wants to stop letting the children of ilegals attend school. Oh, good. Let’s create a population of angry illiterates who can’t possibly be assimilated. What could be wiser?

Sure to offend liberals and conservatives.

Symbolic Iron Yachts

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

A great many countries fear attack by the United States, Fred Reed says — Russia, China, and Iran, for starters — but don’t have the money to build carrier groups:

All of these have thought about cheap ways to overcome the US behemoth. Four solutions soon came to hand:

  1. Very fast sea-skimming cruise missiles, such as the Brahmos and Brahmos II (Mach 5+).
  2. Supercavitating torpedoes, reaching speeds of over 200 miles an hour.
  3. Very quiet submarines, diesel-electrics in the case of poor countries.
  4. Anti-ship ballistic missiles, such as the one attributed to the Chinese.

Any military buff knows that the Navy cannot defend itself against these. It says it can. It has to say it can. In fleet exercises against submarines, the subs always win — easily. The Pentagon has been trying to invent defenses against ballistic missiles since the days of Reagan (remember Star Wars?) with miserable results. If you have close friends in the Navy, ask them over a few beers what scares the bejesus out of them. Easy: Swarms of fast, stealthy, sea-skimming cruise missiles with multi-mode terminal guidance.

Add to the brew that today’s ships are fragile, based on the assumption that they will never be hit. Go aboard a WWII battleship like the Iowa, BB-61 (I have) and you will find sixteen-inch belt armor and turrets designed to withstand an asteroid strike. Now go aboard a Tico-class Aegis boat (I have). You will find an electronic marvel with big screens in a darkened CIC and an amazing SPY-1 phased-array radar that one burst of shrapnel would take out of commission for many months.

Now note that cruise missiles have ranges in the hundreds of miles. Think: Persian Gulf. A cruise missile can be boxed and mounted on a truck, a fast launch, or a tramp steamer. The Chinese ballistic missile has a range of 1200 miles, enough to keep carriers out of aircraft range of Taiwan. I wonder whether the Chinese have thought of that?

The one thing the Navy can’t do is to admit any such weakness:

Today’s Navy will stay farther and farther out of harm’s way, which will be wise of it, and become an immensely pricey collection of symbolic iron yachts.

So what is the cavalry doing as it eyes machine guns and barbed wire? Buying a better horse. The Navy wants the Ford class (CVN 78) super-carrier, which I think might better be named the USS Thundertrinket. What will it do that the current Nimitz-class carriers don’t? Cost more (eight billion for the first copy, plus five billion R&D. A bargain.) To the uninitiated, that may seem a lot for a high-tech crossbow, but it will put lots of jobs in Norfolk, Virginia, and send money to military contractors.

(Hat tip to Mark Frazier.)

Latin America does not have a drug problem

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Latin America does not have a drug problem, Fred Reed explains:

It has a United States problem. The problem is that Americans want drugs. The US is a huge, voracious, insatiable market for drugs. Americans very much want their brain candy. They will pay whatever they need to pay to get it. All the world knows this.

Why, Mexicans wonder, is America’s drug habit Mexico’s problem? If Americans don’t want drugs, they can stop buying them. Nobody forces anyone to use the stuff.

Ah, the rub is that Washington doesn’t want Americans to have drugs. All right, say Mexicans, that is a problem between the American government and the American people. Let America solve it.

Why, Mexican’s ask — read this sentence carefully — should Mexico tear itself in pieces, lose thousands of dead annyally, and turn into a war zone to solve a problem that America refuses to solve?

Think. Why doesn’t the American government run sting operations at, say, Berkeley and Stanford, and Rice and George Washington U., and put those students caught using drugs in the slam for two years per? How about a sting at your daughter’s high school, with a year in some nasty reformatory, which is to say any reformatory, for those caught? It could be a family sort of thing. You could visit her and hear what fascinating things she had learned about compulsory Lesbian sex.

The reason of course is that any effort to punish large classes of politically influential people would result in a revolution. You can’t jail Harvard. So Washington doesn’t. Instead it expects Mexico to do something about drugs.

Now, on the off-chance that you live in an impermeable bubble, and don’t know who uses drugs, I will tell you. I note that I am not speculating about this. I spent eight years working as a police reporter from Anacostia to South Central, and know whereof I speak.

Blue-collar people use drugs — crack, for example. I’ve spent whole days arresting down-scale beauticians in rattletrap Chevys as they bought the stuff from black dealers in the grubby satellite towns outside Chicago. High rollers in Houston use as much powder as they ski in (and it happens to my certain knowledge on Capitol Hill). White professionals have bags of grass in the garage. So, most likely, do their children: In the suburban high schools of metro Washington, e.g., Yorktown and Washington and Lee, kids have easy access to Mary Jane, acid, shrooms, nitrous, Ecstasy, crystal. Good ol’ boys in Texas make, grow, and use drugs. Country kids in Virginia have a few plants out in the woods. And so on.
Which is to say, as Mexicans know, drugs are about as illegal in the US as is the downloading of music. It is punished by very light sentences for first-time users (which of course means first-time caughters). High-school kids get a week of “community service,” perhaps, which they regard as both amusing and a badge of honor. In general, little real effort is made to apprehend respectable white transgressors.

In short, the WOD is a fraud. In America the drug racket is a mildly disreputable business, tightly integrated into the economy, running smoothly, employing countless federal cops, prison guards, ineffectual rehab centers and equally ineffectual psychotherapists, and providing bribes to officials and huge deposits of laundered money to banks. Narcos in the US do not engage in pitched battles with the army because they have no reason to. The government barely inconveniences them.

So why should Mexico fight this war for Washington?

Say No to Monroe

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Say No to Monroe, Fred Reed says:

I recently found the following from McClatchey news service: “As the Pentagon eyes a bigger role in Mexico’s drug war…”

Book me a ticket to Mars. The Pentagon is eyeing something, a sure recipe for disaster. Let’s get involved in another Third World catastrophe by meddling in what we don’t understand.

Continues McClatchey: “During a trip designed to expand U.S. Mexican-military relations, Adm. Michael Mullen, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, visited the graves of American troops who died during the Mexican-American War just as Gates did during his first visit in August.”

How stupid can you get? To improve relations with the Mexican army, we rub their noses in having defeated them.

Let me explain something. To Mexicans, the U.S. is not a friendly nation. The reasons are countless, some valid and some not, but Mexicans do not see America as benign. They fear the U.S. military, which they regard as out of control, invading country after country in pursuit of oil.

Mexico has oil. America lost control of it in 1938 when Lazaro Cardenas nationalized it. Mexicans believe, in dead seriousness, that the U.S. would love a pretext for invading to get it back — a pretext such as coming in to help Mexico fight drugs, then just not leaving. Iraq comes instantly to their minds.

And so the good admiral and the SecDef come to pay homage to the American soldiers who conquered Mexico. What diplomatic genius.

While they are at it, why not lay a wreath in Hiroshima to the brave American airmen who died over Japan? Or maybe erect a statue to Sherman in Atlanta? What if the Mexican army chief went to New York to commemorate the brave freedom fighters who took down the towers?

No, no, no. Keep the soldiers out of Mexico. To Mexicans, the U.S. military means only one thing: unshirted aggression. The dates 1846-48 might convey something to one American in a hundred. Mexicans know that in those years they lost half their country to what U.S. Grant called an utterly unjustified invasion. They remember.

You don’t have to agree with Grant’s assessment. Mexican behavior is determined by what they think, not what we think they ought to think.

People remember invasions for a very long time. It is not smart to step on a country’s national corns. Even today, a lot of Southerners would march on Washington under arms if they thought they had a chance of winning.

It is not just that Mullen and Gates did what they did but that they had no idea what they were doing. Mexico is not the Dry Tortugas. It is a country of 110 million people sharing a very long border with the United States. What happens here has consequences for America. It might make sense to treat the place with a modicum of intelligence, to have some grasp of how Latins think. I don’t mean a firm grasp or real understanding. I am not an extremist. But maybe just a clue.

Women In Combat

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Fred Reed says that placing women in combat is “stupid and unworkable” — then provides some data to back his harsh claims:

From the report of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces (report date November 15, 1992, published in book form by Brassey’s in 1993): “The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength… An Army study of 124 men and 186 women done in 1988 found that women are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer [stress] fractures as men.”

Further: “The Commission heard an abundance of expert testimony about the physical differences between men and women that can be summarized as follows:

“Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue.

“In terms of physical capability, the upper five percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30 year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50 year-old man.”

From the same report: “Lt Col. William Gregor, United States Army, testified before the Commission regarding a survey he conducted at an Army ROTC Advanced Summer Camp on 623 women and 3540 men. …Evidence Gregor presented to the Commission includes:

“(a) Using the standard Army Physical Fitness Test, he found that the upper quintile of women at West point achieved scores on the test equivalent to the bottom quintile of men.

“(c) Only 21 women out of the initial 623 (3.4%) achieved a score equal to the male mean score of 260.

“(d) On the push-up test, only seven percent of women can meet a score of 60, while 78 percent of men exceed it.

“(e) Adopting a male standard of fitness at West Point would mean 70 percent of the women he studied would be separated as failures at the end of their junior year, only three percent would be eligible for the Recondo badge, and not one would receive the Army Physical Fitness badge….”

There’s much more.

Remedial Condescension

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Fred Reed says a number of unpleasant things in Remedial Condescension, but this point caught my attention:

Decades ago, I decided that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, just as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. For this I was called a liberal and sometimes a commy.

Since then, my views have evolved. Today I think that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. I am fascinated to find that in the intervening years I have become a racist and a Nazi.

Marx In Disguise

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Fred Reed peers at Marx In Disguise:

On the principle that leprosy is more fun if you understand why your fingers are falling off, permit me a few thoughts on Karl Marx, his witless theories, and our descent into a Disney version of them.

Marxism is a stupid, and almost comically wrong, hotchpotch of nonsense by a man who had little grasp of humanity, politics, or economics. He is an economist whose theories invariably lead to impoverishment. As a claim to greatness, this would seem defective. He is a major figure for the same reason that Typhoid Mary is — for damage done rather than intelligence exercised.

(Bear with me. This is not boilerplate denunciation of all things leftist. There is actually a point coming.)

Further, the errors of Marx were not of detail. They were fundamental. For example, he expected workingmen to unite. Instead, WWI showed that, with monotonous regularity (and perhaps questionable wisdom), their loyalty went to their countries. He thought that revolution would come in industrialized nations with suitable proletariats. Instead it came first in creaky agricultural countries, and never did come where he expected it. He thought that European economies would never give rise to the liberal democracies that seem today to be what everyone wants. They did.

In short, he was a crackpot. He was, however, either a crackpot who had correctly calculated the manipulability of the congenitally angry, or just lucky. No one, ever, has been responsible for as much death and brutality as Karl Marx. It wasn’t what he had in mind, not consciously anyway. But it is what he caused.

It is what Marxists always cause. With perfect predictability, Marxist states are police states. The chief trait of the workers’ paradise is that the workers all want to leave, and must be kept in with machine guns and land mines. In divided countries like Korea, we have what approach being laboratory experiments. South Korea is a high-tech industrial power. In North Korea, they eat grass and, occasionally, each other. If Korea is a geographical example, China is a temporal one: As soon as it began to abandon Marxism, it began to progress.

Marxism is a proven disaster. And Marxists know it. Elementary history is not a secret.

All of this would be of academic interest only, if the same spirit, under other names, were not so very active in America today. We see it in a variety of disguises. When Russia practiced censorship, we called it ” censorship.” Here, we call it political correctness. You still have to look over your shoulder before saying the wrong things. The difference is…what? In Russia, Marxists preached class warfare. Here they preach multiculturalism. The difference is…what? The Russians, unable to speak openly, passed around samizdat. We have the Internet. The difference, other than efficiency, is…what?

Trying to Understand Liberals and Conservatives

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Fred Reed is trying to understand Liberals and Conservatives:

Conservatives believe in the wisdom of common Americans to manage their affairs and make decisions for themselves. Exceptions to this are the half of the public who regularly vote Democratic. These common Americans are unfit to run their affairs and make decisions for themselves. It is because they been deluded by liberal propaganda.

Liberals also believe in the inherent wisdom of common Americans, especially those who don’t have any. They think that the mother lode of wisdom lies on the low side of the bell curve. They discern qualities in the stupid, ignorant, and shiftless that engender a capacity to govern a country they can’t spell. Coincidentally, these people vote Democratic.

Liberals do not believe in the wisdom of the half of the country who vote Republican, as these are all CEOs of major corporations. The Left knows that CEOs, unlike welfare recipients, are motivated by economic interest.

Conservatives believe that it is not the business of government to legislate morality, and thus want laws against abortion, pornography, sex education, and marijuana. Liberals don’t want to legislate morality either. They want to eliminate it, along with learning, thought, civility, and other impediments to the undisturbed enjoyment of uniform mental darkness.

The Suicide Of Marlboro Man

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Fred Reed recounts The Suicide Of Marlboro Man:

What happens is that, in an independent-minded rural county full of hardy yeomen, the density of population grows, either nearby or at distant points on each side. A highway comes through because the truckers lobby in Washington wants it. Building a highway is A Good Thing, because it represents Progress, and provides jobs for a year.

It also makes the country accessible to the big city fifty miles away. A real-estate developer buys 500 acres along the river from the self-reliant character-filled owner. He does this by offering sums of money that water the farmer’s eyes.

First, 500 houses go up in a bedroom suburb called Brook Dale Manor. A year later, 500 more go up at Dale View Estates. This is A Good Thing, because the character-filled independent now-former farmer is exercising his property rights, and because building the suburb creates jobs. The river now looks ugly as the devil, but this is a wacko issue.

At Safeway corporate headquarters, way off God knows where, the new population shows up as a denser shade of green on a computer screen. A new Safeway goes in along the highway. This is A Good Thing, exemplifying free enterprise in action and creating jobs in construction. Further, Safeway sells cheaper, more varied and, truth be known, better food than the half-dozen mom-and-pop stores in the county, which go out of business.

Soon the mall men in the big city hear of the county. A billion-dollar company has no difficulty in buying out a character-filled, self-reliant farmer who makes less than forty thousand dollars a year. A shopping center arrives with a Wal-Mart. This is A Good Thing, etc. Wal-Mart sells almost everything cheaply.

It also puts most of the stores in the country seat out of business. With them go the restaurants, which no longer have the walk-by traffic previously generated by the stores. With the restaurants goes the sense of community that flourishes in a town with eateries and stores and a town square. But this is granola philosophy, appealing only to meddlesome lefties.

K-Mart arrives, along with, beside the highway, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Roy Rogers, and the other way stations on route to coronary occlusion. Strip development is A Good Thing because it represents the exercise of economic freedom. The county’s commerce is now controlled by distant behemoths to whom the place is the equivalent of a pin on a map.

This is A Good Thing. The jobs in these outlets are secure and comfortable. The independent, character-filled frontiersmen are now low-level chain employees, no longer independent because they can be fired.

A third suburb, Brook Manor View Downs, appears. The displaced urbanites in these eyesores now outnumber the character-filled etcs. They are also smarter, have lawyers among their ranks, and co-operate. They quickly come to control the government of the county.

They want city sewerage, more roads, schools, and zoning. The latter isn’t unreasonable. In a sparsely settled county, a few hogs penned out back and a crumbling Merc on blocks don’t matter. In a quarter-acre yuppie ghetto, they do. Next come leash laws and dog licenses. The boisterous clouds of floppy-eared hounds turn illegal.

Prices go up, as do taxes. The profits of farming and commercial crabbing in the river do not go up. The farmers and fishermen are gradually forced to sell their land to developers, and to go into eight-to-fiving. Unfortunately you cannot simultaneously be character-filled and independent and be afraid of your boss. A hardy self-reliant farmer, when he becomes a security guard at the Gap, is a rented peon. The difference between an independent yeoman and a second-rate handyman is independence.

People make more money, and buy houses in Manor Dale Mews, but have less control over their time, and so no longer build their own barns, wire their houses, and change their own clutch-plates. Prosperity is A Good Thing. Its effect is that the children of the hardy yeoman become dependent on others to change their oil, fix their furnaces, and repair their boats.

The new urban majority are frightened by guns. They don’t hunt, knowing that food comes from Safeway and its newly-arrived competitor, Giant. They do not like independent countrymen, whom they refer to as rednecks, grits, and hillbillies. Hunting makes no sense to them anyway, since the migratory flocks are vanishing with the wetlands.

Truth be told, it isn’t safe to have people firing rifles and shotguns in what is increasingly an appendage of the city. The clout of the newcomers makes it harder for the independent whatevers to let their weapons even be seen in public. The dump is closed to rat-shooting.

The children of the hardy rustics do not do as well in school as the offspring of the commuting infestation, and are slowly marginalized. Crime goes up as social bonds break down. Before, everyone pretty much knew everyone and what his car looked like. Strangers stood out. Teenagers raised hell, but there were limits. Now the anonymity of numbers sets in and, anyway, there’s no community any longer.

And so the rural character-filled county becomes another squishy suburb of pallid yups who can’t put air in their own tires. The rugged rural individualists become cogs in somebody else’s wheel. Their children grow up as libidinous mall monkeys drugging themselves to escape boredom. The county itself is a hideous expanse of garish low-end development . People’s lives are run from afar.

What it comes to is that the self-reliant yeoman’s inalienable right to dispose of his property as he sees fit (which I do not dispute) will generally lead to a developer’s possession of it. The inalienable right to reproduce will result in crowding, which leads to dependency, intrusive government, and loss of local control.

I’d like to live again in Mr. Liddy’s world. Unfortunately it is self-eliminating. Freedom is in the long run inconsistent with freedom, because it is inevitable exercised in ways that engender control. As a species, we just can’t keep our pants up. But it was nice for a while.

Free Will, If Any

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

In Free Will, If Any, Fred Reed remarks that “One of the funnier illusions of mankind is that our behavior is rational”:

Teenagers begin their political existence by realizing that they understand everything far better than their parents do. They join crusades to retake Jerusalem or to save the world from the International Monetary Fund. They believe they are making principled choices. Their reasons are often persuasive: The young are not necessarily stupid, despite convincing simulations. They can both learn much about the IMF, and weave arguments both subtle and sanctimonious.

But it’s always something, and always at the same age. If it isn’t the IMF, it’s stopping the war in Vietnam, or saving the baby seals, or ending international finance capitalism. These causes may be good ones, but only accidentally. When five hundred generations do the same things, one begins to suspect that the fix is in.

The Feminization Of America

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Fred Reed wonders if we’ve given enough thought to The Feminization Of America:

In the United States women are, I think for the first time in history, gaining real power. Often nations have had queens, heiresses, and female aristocrats. These do not amount to much. Today women occupy positions of genuine authority in fields that matter, as for example publishing, journalism, and academia. They control education through high school. Politicians scramble for their votes. They control the divorce courts and usually get their way with things that matter to them.

If this is not unprecedented, I do not know of the precedent. What will be the consequences?

Men have controlled the world through most of history so we know what they do: build things, break things, invent things, compete with each other fiercely and often pointlessly, and fight endless wars that seem to them justifiable at the time but that, seen from afar, are just what males do. The unanswered question is what women would, or will, do. How will their increasing influence reshape the polity?

Women and men want very different things and therefore very different worlds. Men want sex, freedom, and adventure; women want security, pleasantness, and someone to care about (or for) them. Both like power. Men use it to conquer their neighbors whether in business or war, women to impose security and pleasantness.

I do not suggest that the instinctive behavior of women is necessarily bad, nor that of men necessarily good. I do suggest that that the effects will be profound, probably irreversible, and not necessarily entirely to the liking of either sex. The question may be whether one fears most being conquered or being nicened to death.