Monday, April 30, 2012

Low Trust in Tribal Societies: Low IQ Makes it Even Worse

Society in general and the economic system in particular require trust built on ethical foundations and social norms as the basis for successful cooperation. Economic activity in modern society has become increasingly complex and lacking in transparency as a result of the rapid development of new technologies and new products and services and the globalization of supply.

....the more complex a phenomenon is, the more complex the regulatory system has to be that is supposed to solve it. Usually, any rules, laws and contracts leave scope for circumventing or undermining them and excluding such imperfections may be burdensome.

Trust therefore offers a shortcut solution, especially if it grows out of common ethical foundations and social norms such as professionalism (where people take pride in the quality of their work) and reputation. Ethical foundations and social norms may help society to protect individuals from serious damage.... _Ethics and Trust in Society
Trust is crucial for the smooth functioning of a society's financial transactions, economic markets, and social infrastructures.

Tribal societies -- or subcultures within a multicultural society -- tend to be inward-looking, exhibiting less trust to those outside the inner circle. When tribal societies are multiplied -- in a multi-cultural society -- the regulatory and legal infrastructure necessary to deal with a "low trust environment" can become so unwieldy as to exact inordinately high costs.
...the people in societies that are generally distrustful are less likely to enter into risky social interactions and more likely to interact in relatively closed circles, even at the risk of giving up new opportunities. Development of generalized trust under these circumstances, he goes on to argue, is not easy: not only does distrust breed distrust, but individuals in these societies must make conscious efforts to develop the social intelligence required for detecting risks and taking risks when appropriate. _Trust in Society Chap. 1 (PDF)

Such low trust tribal societies can make it almost impossible to carry out the most standard and straightforward business transactions -- unless either bribes or the threat of force are utilised. Poverty is generally rampant in such societies to begin with, and the lack of trust (or trustworthiness) only compounds the problem.

Tribalism tends to foster economic exchange within groups, because people trust other members of their tribe. The “social pressures” within a tribe are strong. In economic history, there are a number of well-known examples of minority groups that were important commercially. They were able to sustain trust in the process of trading among themselves because of strong within-group enforcement of ethical norms. The challenge is to go beyond within-group trade to broader commercial activity.

Schneier points out that Quakers played a role in the development of capitalism in the West because they developed a reputation for fair dealing. I would argue that one unusual feature of Quakerism is the importance of the belief that “there is that of God in everyone.” This means that Quakers would expect one another to obey their strongest moral codes even when dealing with non-Quakers. An extended capitalist order requires that individuals treat outsiders as moral equals in the context of economic transactions.

However, for the most part, the scaling up of cooperation beyond small groups requires legal incentives and institutions. In a large, complex society, in the absence of laws and enforcement mechanisms, individuals or groups would be too prone to defect.

...We no longer live in tribes. Instead, we are embedded in complex, large-scale social institutions. However, our basic tribal instincts have remained. _The Tribal Mind Arnold Kling
In multi-cultural societies, the "tribe" is embedded in complex social institutions as well. If governments show favouritism to one tribe or another, relations between cultures or tribes within a larger society can grow contentious.

In situations where the average IQ within tribes is seen to vary -- where professional and occupational aptitudes are not equal between population groups -- entirely new areas of contention are introduced. This is particularly true when societal institutions such as government, media, and academia refuse to accept the well documented innate differences which can exist between population groups, or tribes.

When low intelligence and high levels of violence coexist within particular population groups, cultures, or tribes, problems of trust can grow particularly acute -- especially when social institutions consistently fail to take these differences into account in making and administering laws, and in describing the reasons for societal breakdowns and disagreements.

The problems of low trust in multicultural societies -- and the tendency toward a rapidly growing, unwieldy regulatory and institutional environment to compensate for the low trust -- can put such societies at a distinct disadvantage against competing societies, all other things being equal.

For those who feel compelled to create "shadow economies," "shadow governments," and other backup institutions and cooperatives meant to compensate for the failures of a dysfunctional larger society, such things must be kept in mind in the planning and early implementation phases.

When it is impossible to avoid fractious multiculturalism altogether, lower overhead solutions to the inevitable problems inherent in multiculturalism must be devised. Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why Do Obama Supporters Hate This Man So Passionately?

The US news media has spent so much time mis-reporting the facts of the Trayvon Martin shooting, that it has not taken the trouble to present any personal background on the admitted shooter, George Zimmerman. Finally, Reuters news service has taken the trouble to provide a thoughtful background piece on Zimmerman -- which fanatical Obama supporters are certain to hate, because it portrays Zimmerman in a human light. Regardless, more thoughtful persons will want to know some of this information. Here are some excerpts:
During the time Zimmerman was in hiding, his detractors defined him as a vigilante who had decided Martin was suspicious merely because he was black. After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder more than six weeks after the shooting, prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old. But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman's past and a series of incidents in the community in the months preceding the Martin shooting.

Based on extensive interviews with relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers of Zimmerman in two states, law enforcement officials, and reviews of court documents and police reports, the story sheds new light on the man at the center of one of the most controversial homicide cases in America...

Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman should not have prejudged Martin, one black neighbor of the Zimmermans said recent history should be taken into account.

"Let's talk about the elephant in the room. I'm black, OK?" the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. "There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood," she said. "That's why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin."


George Michael Zimmerman was born in 1983 to Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, the third of four children. Robert Zimmerman Sr. was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam in 1970, and was stationed at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, in 1975 with Gladys Mesa's brother George. Zimmerman Sr. also served two tours in Korea, and spent the final 10 years of his 22-year military career in the Pentagon, working for the Department of Defense, a family member said.

In his final years in Virginia before retiring to Florida, Robert Zimmerman served as a magistrate in Fairfax County's 19th Judicial District.

Robert and Gladys met in January 1975, when George Mesa brought along his army buddy to his sister's birthday party. She was visiting from Peru, on vacation from her job there as a physical education teacher. Robert was a Baptist, Gladys was Catholic. They soon married, in a Catholic ceremony in Alexandria, and moved to nearby Manassas.

Gladys came to lead a small but growing Catholic Hispanic enclave within the All Saints Catholic Church parish in the late 1970s, where she was involved in the church's outreach programs. Gladys would bring young George along with her on "home visits" to poor families, said a family friend, Teresa Post.

"It was part of their upbringing to know that there are people in need, people more in need than themselves," said Post, a Peruvian immigrant who lived with the Zimmermans for a time.

Post recalls evening prayers before dinner in the ethnically diverse Zimmerman household, which included siblings Robert Jr., Grace, and Dawn. "It wasn't only white or only Hispanic or only black - it was mixed," she said.

Zimmerman's maternal grandmother, Cristina, who had lived with the Zimmermans since 1978, worked as a babysitter for years during Zimmerman's childhood. For several years she cared for two African-American girls who ate their meals at the Zimmerman house and went back and forth to school each day with the Zimmerman children...

George grew up bilingual, and by age 10 he was often called to the Haydon Elementary School principal's office to act as a translator between administrators and immigrant parents. At 14 he became obsessed with becoming a Marine, a relative said, joining the after-school ROTC program at Grace E. Metz Middle School and polishing his boots by night. At 15, he worked three part-time jobs - in a Mexican restaurant, for the rectory, and washing cars - on nights and weekends, to save up for a car.

After graduating from Osbourn High School in 2001, Zimmerman moved to Lake Mary, Florida, a town neighboring Sanford. His parents purchased a retirement home there in 2002, in part to bring Cristina, who suffers from arthritis, to a warmer climate....


By the summer of 2011, Twin Lakes was experiencing a rash of burglaries and break-ins. Previously a family-friendly, first-time homeowner community, it was devastated by the recession that hit the Florida housing market, and transient renters began to occupy some of the 263 town houses in the complex. Vandalism and occasional drug activity were reported, and home values plunged. One resident who bought his home in 2006 for $250,000 said it was worth $80,000 today.

At least eight burglaries were reported within Twin Lakes in the 14 months prior to the Trayvon Martin shooting, according to the Sanford Police Department. Yet in a series of interviews, Twin Lakes residents said dozens of reports of attempted break-ins and would-be burglars casing homes had created an atmosphere of growing fear in the neighborhood.

In several of the incidents, witnesses identified the suspects to police as young black men. Twin Lakes is about 50 percent white, with an African-American and Hispanic population of about 20 percent each, roughly similar to the surrounding city of Sanford, according to U.S. Census data.

One morning in July 2011, a black teenager walked up to Zimmerman's front porch and stole a bicycle, neighbors told Reuters. A police report was taken, though the bicycle was not recovered.

But it was the August incursion into the home of Olivia Bertalan that really troubled the neighborhood, particularly Zimmerman. Shellie was home most days, taking online courses towards certification as a registered nurse.

On August 3, Bertalan was at home with her infant son while her husband, Michael, was at work. She watched from a downstairs window, she said, as two black men repeatedly rang her doorbell and then entered through a sliding door at the back of the house. She ran upstairs, locked herself inside the boy's bedroom, and called a police dispatcher, whispering frantically.

"I said, 'What am I supposed to do? I hear them coming up the stairs!'" she told Reuters. Bertalan tried to coo her crying child into silence and armed herself with a pair of rusty scissors.

Police arrived just as the burglars - who had been trying to disconnect the couple's television - fled out a back door. Shellie Zimmerman saw a black male teen running through her backyard and reported it to police.

After police left Bertalan, George Zimmerman arrived at the front door in a shirt and tie, she said. He gave her his contact numbers on an index card and invited her to visit his wife if she ever felt unsafe. He returned later and gave her a stronger lock to bolster the sliding door that had been forced open.

"He was so mellow and calm, very helpful and very, very sweet," she said last week. "We didn't really know George at first, but after the break-in we talked to him on a daily basis. People were freaked out. It wasn't just George calling police ... we were calling police at least once a week."

In September, a group of neighbors including Zimmerman approached the homeowners association with their concerns, she said. Zimmerman was asked to head up a new neighborhood watch. He agreed.

"PLEASE CONTACT OUR CAPTAIN" Police had advised Bertalan to get a dog. She and her husband decided to move out instead, and left two days before the shooting. Zimmerman took the advice.

"He'd already had a mutt that he walked around the neighborhood every night - man, he loved that dog - but after that home invasion he also got a Rottweiler," said Jorge Rodriguez, a friend and neighbor of the Zimmermans.

Around the same time, Zimmerman also gave Rodriguez and his wife, Audria, his contact information, so they could reach him day or night. Rodriguez showed the index card to Reuters. In neat cursive was a list of George and Shellie's home number and cell phones, as well as their emails.

Less than two weeks later, another Twin Lakes home was burglarized, police reports show. Two weeks after that, a home under construction was vandalized.

The Retreat at Twin Lakes e-newsletter for February 2012 noted: "The Sanford PD has announced an increased patrol within our neighborhood ... during peak crime hours.

"If you've been a victim of a crime in the community, after calling police, please contact our captain, George Zimmerman."


On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman placed a call to Sanford police after spotting a young black man he recognized peering into the windows of a neighbor's empty home, according to several friends and neighbors.

"I don't know what he's doing. I don't want to approach him, personally," Zimmerman said in the call, which was recorded. The dispatcher advised him that a patrol car was on the way. By the time police arrived, according to the dispatch report, the suspect had fled.

On February 6, the home of another Twin Lakes resident, Tatiana Demeacis, was burglarized. Two roofers working directly across the street said they saw two African-American men lingering in the yard at the time of the break-in. A new laptop and some gold jewelry were stolen. One of the roofers called police the next day after spotting one of the suspects among a group of male teenagers, three black and one white, on bicycles.

Police found Demeacis's laptop in the backpack of 18-year-old Emmanuel Burgess, police reports show, and charged him with dealing in stolen property. Burgess was the same man Zimmerman had spotted on February 2.

Burgess had committed a series of burglaries on the other side of town in 2008 and 2009, pleaded guilty to several, and spent all of 2010 incarcerated in a juvenile facility, his attorney said. He is now in jail on parole violations.

Three days after Burgess was arrested, Zimmerman's grandmother was hospitalized for an infection, and the following week his father was also admitted for a heart condition. Zimmerman spent a number of those nights on a hospital room couch.

Ten days after his father was hospitalized, Zimmerman noticed another young man in the neighborhood, acting in a way he found familiar, so he made another call to police.

"We've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy," Zimmerman said, as Trayvon Martin returned home from the store.

The last time Zimmerman had called police, to report Burgess, he followed protocol and waited for police to arrive. They were too late, and Burgess got away.

....After the phone call ended, several minutes passed when the movements of Zimmerman and Martin remain a mystery. Moments later, Martin lay dead with a bullet in his chest. _Reuters
Let's face it: Anyone who still supports the disastrous presidency of Barack Obama is either on the make, or several cards short of a full deck. It is not surprising that such people would take their cues from people such as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Mullah Farrakhan, the New Black Panther Party, Barack Obama, or similar race hustlers. But the rest of us need to take things more seriously and less ideologically. Realising that no one is perfect, we need to understand that the law does not hold human behaviour to a standard of perfection.

Monday, April 23, 2012

US President Obama: Unlimited Debt, Poor Results

Mr. Obama's contribution to the US federal debt is unprecedented for such a short timer. And yet, Obama's rate of deficit building appears to be accelerating. So far, the most obvious result of this borrowing has been a redistribution of funds into the pockets of Mr. Obama's political backers and cronies.

Image Source w/source

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama shows no sign that he will ever reduce his accelerated rate of debt buildup and cronyism. His attacks against the US private sector economy reveal his underlying intent: By attacking the source of national prosperity, and squandering resources on his political supporters and friends, Mr. Obama behaves like a carrion feeder rather than like a leader who wishes to rebuild a strong nation.

Image Source w/sources

The US president may not understand the difference between debt and production. He may not be able to comprehend the difference between rewarding political cronies and investing in a productive future. If that is true, American voters have a lot to think about between now and November.
It will be years before a definitive estimate of the damage Mr. Obama caused to the US economy can be made. The narcissistic ideologue is making the situation worse at such a rapid rate that wise analysts are forced to bide their time.

But the end result is that the US debt is ballooning out of control so quickly, that the world's only superpower is doomed by Obama to become the world's most powerful third world nation.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trayvon Avengers Roam the Land

ABC News photo of George Zimmerman 3 Minutes after Trayvon Shooting
The Zimmerman defense team was able to demonstrate to the court that George Zimmerman's nose had been broken and treated by medical personnel. The photo above, belatedly released by ABC news, shows that Zimmerman's head was bleeding immediately after the fatal shooting. h/t HalfSigma

In the meantime, black on white violent crime continues to occur at a frantic pace, with almost no special news coverage, no presidential comment, no rallies or riots.
A man charged with a hate crime in Oak Park this week told police he was so upset about the Trayvon Martin case that he beat up a man because he was white, authorities said. Alton L. Hayes III, 18, of Oak Park, and a 15-year-old Chicagoan — both black — walked up behind the 19-year-old victim and pinned his arms to his side early Tuesday, police said. Hayes then picked up a large tree branch, pointed it at the man and said, “Empty your pockets, white boy.” They rifled through his pockets, threw him to the ground and punched him in the head and back “numerous times,” police said. They ran off, but officers sent to the scene spotted them and arrested them. After he was arrested, Hayes told police he was upset by the racially charged Trayvon Martin case in Florida and beat the man because he was white, Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said, citing court records. Hayes was charged with attempted robbery, aggravated battery and a hate crime, all felonies. He was ordered held on $80,000 bond and remained in Cook County Jail on Friday. The 15-year-old was referred to juvenile court. _SunTimes
Such crimes -- using Trayvon as an excuse to attack people who one would have attacked anyway -- is becoming more common. Whether the actual number of black-on-white violent crimes has actually risen since Trayvon's death, is doubtful. But Trayvon's death provides a useful excuse and talking point in an attempt to excuse oneself.
  • In Kansas City, a 13-year-old white boy named Allen Coon was doused with gasoline and set on fire by two older blacks saying, “This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy.”
  • Haley Pettersen, a 15-year-old white girl in a leg cast in O’Fallon, Ill., was out walking her dog when she was attacked by two black girls who said, “This is our territory white girl.” One girl grabbed Haley by the hair, and the other one started hitting her in the face. The perpetrators ran off only when some neighbors came out, but the attack left Haley with a swollen left eye.
  • In Kansas City, an unnamed 50-year-old white man was left with a fractured hip and other injuries after being beaten by a group of blacks shouting racial epithets.
  • Gary Allder, a white man in San Antonio, came home to find that his house had been burglarized, ransacked and tagged with racial slurs such as “Die Whitey.”
  • Travis Eugene Winemiller, 16, a white Polk County, Fla., inmate, was beaten, choked and strangled until he was unconscious by three black inmates. They then hogtied Winemiller and said, “This is how you slave a real cracker,” and threatened to kill him.
  • Jacob Appel, a 15-year-old autistic white boy, was attacked by three blacks at his bus stop in Palm Bay, Fla. The blacks taunted, used racial slurs and chased the victim into the street where he was nearly struck by a car. The only reason the offenders were caught is that one of the attackers posted the video on his Facebook page.
_Ilana Mercer
Mr. Obama is not likely to concern himself with inconvenient crimes which do not fit the narrative. But a few people are paying attention, nonetheless.

It is considered racist to discuss the fact of excessive black violence in the Americas, the Caribbean, in Europe, the UK, even in South Africa. But it is downright suicidal to pretend that such violence does not exist. Be careful out there.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Atlas Shrugged Movie Part II Out in October 2012

When Part II of the Atlas Shrugged Movie is released to US theatres in October 2012, it will find the populace preparing to vote in the presidential elections, just weeks away. The message of the film -- government control vs. freedom of the marketplace -- could not be much clearer, or more apropos to the choice between Obama and Romney.

The critics were quite harsh to the first part of the series, although general audiences were generally favourable to the film. Expect similar treatment from critics this time around. But with some changes in a few of the acting roles, and with a production company that has the experience of Part I tucked into their belts, audience response may be even more favourable this time around.
The movie is now shooting (digitally, with Arri Alexa cameras) around the Los Angeles area. On Wednesday I visited a giant empty warehouse in downtown Los Angeles (near, naturally, a train track) to witness day 10 of a planned 31 day shoot (slightly longer than Part I's 27 days, but with a far more leisurely couple of months of pre-production). This warehouse will be Rearden Steel’s foundry and Hank Rearden’s office. In the novel, Rearden invents an amazing amalgam known as Rearden metal only to have his industrial progress hamstrung and his property stolen by an ever-more-repressive state attempting to centrally control an economy already choking under too much government management.

From the producers’ video monitors—the actual shooting set of Hank’s office was too tight and cramped for reporters to lurk—I watched the shooting of two scenes in Rearden’s office. The setting is all huge looming empty spaces, dusty light, rusting metal, and overhead gantries that the bright and perspicacious production intern, Justin Lesniewski, tells me were previously, in a Randian touch, used to suspend and work on rail cars. Lesniewski is an aspiring novelist and Rand fan who won his job through an essay contest, one of many ways the production hopes to keep the Rand fan community invested in the project.

The warehouse already feels convincingly “steel foundry” and they built out Rearden’s office so its windows actually are physically looking out over that part of the set. In a move that might prove controversial to fans of Part I, this new movie has been entirely recast—not a single actor reprises their role. Director Paul Johansson, meanwhile, has been replaced by John Putch (a TV veteran with many episodes of Scrubs and Cougar Town behind him).

“The message of Atlas is greater than any particular actor, so it’s one of those pieces of literature that doesn’t require in our view the interpretation by a singular actor,” Kaslow says. “But just from a practical standpoint when we set out to make Part I we had a ticking clock where if we didn’t start production by a certain date John’s interest in the rights could lapse. We didn’t have the luxury at that moment to negotiate future options with the various cast members.”

Their eagerness to keep the project moving made arranging schedules with the dozens of speaking roles in Part I hugely impractical, so they chose instead to concentrate on making sure the look of the movie created the world they needed it to create. As Kaslow put it, “we just gave ourselves a clean slate put together what we think is a real terrific cast.”

The new Rearden, Jason Beghe (most recently of Californication), plays Hank with far more gruff menace than his predecessor, the suave Grant Bowler. Beghe goes with an intensity that draws you in to him rather than projects flashily, and delivers his lines with a deep growl that almost made him feel like a Hollywood take on a Randian crime boss, someone driven to organized crime in a world where just trying to be productive on your own terms had become illegal. And despite the fact that both Rearden and his metal were invented by Rand in the 1950s, while audiences today participate in an economy where more and more people are living not through mass production but by individualized creativity (what some social scientists are calling the “personalized economy”) Rearden and his troubles still feel more of the moment than they do some sort of outmoded industrial age castoff.

During my time on set I watched the shooting of another scene that is, in a way, the lynchpin of the entire novel: the subtle attempt by Francisco D’Anconia (played by Esai Morales, most recently seen as Caprica’s Joseph Adama) to convince Rearden to abandon this world of statist control, by reminding him that Rearden never wanted to devote his life’s energies and creativity to “looters who think it’s your duty to produce, and theirs to consume. Moochers who think they owe you nothing.” (Yes, Rand fans, “looters” and “moochers,” both delivered seriously in mainstream movie dialogue.) Morales delivers the iconic line about what he would tell Atlas if he saw him bleeding and suffering, trying to bear single-handedly the burden of the world: “To shrug.”

Morales does the scene, delivers the line, more than five times while I watch, running a range from intense near-menace to ironic lightness; the camera angle I’m watching doesn’t show Rearden’s reaction, which will be key to how the emotion of the scene plays. Between shots, I get to walk and sit in Rearden’s office set, complete with Randian modernist metal sculptures: shining, swirling ribbons and abstract geometries made solid. In fact, there's lots of great metal work everywhere. The huge windows overlooking the foundry also provide an unexpected dramatic touch as the “shrug” scene ends, propelling Francisco and Hank into an action scene on the factory floor (which will be filmed the next day) and a tightening of their mutual respect.

The other office scene acted Wednesday involved the respectable-seeming but sinister Dr. Floyd Ferris of the State Science Institute coming to Rearden’s office to blackmail him into signing over Rearden metal to the “Unification Board.” Once again, the actors tried out a wide variety of styles to play the scene; I preferred the ones that maintained a steadier aura of menace. (Ferris can go with either businesslike jovial threat or calm and steely—I preferred calm and steely.) My vantage point again prevented me from seeing Rearden's reaction.

Part IIs new Dagny Taggart—the railroad magnate heroine struggling to keep the motors of the world running while mysterious forces try to shut them down—is Samantha Mathis (perhaps most famously of Pump Up the Volume opposite Christian Slater). She wasn’t on set Wednesday, but co-screenwriter Duncan Scott, fresh to this project but with a long history with Ayn Rand and the movies, showed me some rough footage he shot of her filming a couple of scenes on earlier days. One of them quietly helps frame the deteriorating world of Atlas—with Mathis walking past grim lines of citizens selling their possessions on the streets in a world of 20 percent unemployment and $40 per gallon gas, shot outside the Los Angeles convention center. Another was of her fateful solo plane ride. Kaslow and Scott are both excited about their new Dagny. Scott says Mathis is always believable as a woman serious and powerful enough to run a railroad, and Kaslow says she’s fully embraced the character and went out of her way to read the novel to understand the character more fully.

Duncan Scott actually worked on a film with Ayn Rand herself: the editing of a bootleg filmed version of her first novel, We the Living, into something Rand would want released in America. Scott says he never experienced any of Rand’s legendary wrath during their brief period working side by side in the early 1970s, and he questions the conventional wisdom that Rand’s imperious desire for control would have made it impossible to truly finish a filmed Atlas if she were still around to interfere today. “She responded tremendously well to people who were reasonable and rational,” Scott says, “so it would depend on the people she was working with.” Though Rand felt burned to some degree by all her experiences with film—even the 1949 Fountainhead, which she wrote and made sure was shot as she wrote, was ultimately edited against her will and left her feeling dissatisfied with the final result. Rand's openness to a filmed Atlas, which she tried to write various versions of herself, from feature film to mini-series, would, Scott thinks, “depend on the people who wanted to make the film and her trust in how they would handle the property.”

Scott was brought to this project partially for his decades of experience in the world of Objectivist ideas and Randian film; while he has a long career working as assistant director on non-political films, including Woody Allen’s Zelig and Sidney Lumet’s Deathtrap, he also has kept his hand in the world of libertarian and Objectivist documentary film, and is working on a huge Rand documentary now as well.

Atlas Shrugged Part II is scheduled to hit theaters in October 2012, just before the election, with a screenplay written by Part I writer Brian O’Toole, working with Scott and Duke Sandefur. Scott notes that the decades-long effort to film Atlas might have been a blessing in disguise; he thinks right now is exactly the time when Atlas’s message will likely resonate the most with mass audiences. “The elements of this movie is so relevant to everything going on in this country, it’s a natural fit” for 2012, Scott says. “People will watch this movie and say, ‘This is what’s going on.’” _Reason

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trayvon's Tragic Trajectory: An Ethnic Community in Trouble

The tragic shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida has exposed the sad trajectory of entire generations of African American youth. Like so many young blacks, Trayvon emerged from a broken home, in an atmosphere where gangsta rap and gangsta-ism is the most prominent influence on young and formative minds.
Here is one aspect of the US black community which is often overlooked: The epidemic of fatherlessness and lack of non-criminal role models --
• 70% of all black children are born out of wedlock.
• 65% of never-married black women have children, double that for white women.
• 22% of never-married black women with incomes over $75,000 have children, 10 times that of white women.
• 62% of black families with children are headed by a single parent.
• 85% of black children do not live in a home with their fathers.
• Only 15-20% of black children born today will grow up with 2 parents until age 16.
• Over 80% of long-term child poverty occurs in broken or never-married homes.
• 70% of [black] boys in the criminal justice system come from single-parent homes. _LaShawn Barber_quoting from _A Portrait of the Black Family 2007 (PDF)
Research has demonstrated that crime and delinquency rates among youth raised without fathers, or where the fathers' minds are elsewhere, will be significantly higher on average.

Children are not typically born gangsters. But if the conditions of child-raising push the child in that direction, the trajectory can seem inexorable in hindsight. Parents can be helpless in the undertow of dysfunctional popular and community culture, in these situations. Parental guilt, when things turn out poorly, can be turned to paradoxical and exaggerated behaviours in blaming the "other," for the failures that lie within the family and the community.

All too often, mercenary lawyers and rabble rousers step into such tragic circumstances, and attempt to tip the already unbalanced emotions of a community to their own profit. Such is the case in the Trayvon tragedy, where a fairly straightforward case of self-defense becomes twisted by lawyers, media, and professional rabble into a national cause celebre of purported "racist vigilantism."

US President Obama had hoped that this incident would play well in his ongoing campaign for re-election. As it turns out, only by twisting the facts beyond recognition can the US President fit this tragedy into his already absurdly fictional narrative, and continue to obscure the growing tragedy of the US black community under his presidency.

Why do blacks commit so much violence and mayhem?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

After Adding $4 Trillion to the US National Debt, Still No Recovery

After over 3 years of desperate borrowing, taxing, spending, and over-regulating, the US Obama administration still has nothing of substance to show, in terms of an economic recovery for average voters and workers. Instead, Obama seems to have taken the workforce back to the age of the Jimmy Carter recession aftermath, in terms of worker participation in the job market.

During the most recent recession, the employment-population ratio fell farther than it had during any other recession in the post-World War II era.

If these were normal economic times, it would have been reasonable to expect a huge surge in hiring by now.

But we have not seen that.

Instead, the employment rate in the United States has been remarkably flat for more than two years.

So Barack Obama should not even begin to say anything at all about a "recovery" until the employment rate at least breaks the 59 percent barrier. _EM
As long as the Obama administration uses "emergency stimulus" funds to pay off political cronies, and conducts an all-out war against the US private sector and energy industries, the dismal news will keep coming.

Mr. Obama's ideology is poorly suited for leading a prosperous economy. His radicalism and deep anti-market sentiment fitted him to the profession of corrupt radical community organiser in the slums of Chicago. But as leader of the world's only superpower, Mr. Obama is a clownish and distracted millstone around the nation's neck.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Obama Fuels Boom in Guns and Ammunition Industry

Buyers in record numbers are flooding into gun stores, retailers say. Ammo, too, is flying off the shelves. The reasons for the spike, last seen in 2009, include fears that a second Obama administration might restrict gun ownership and the popularity of TV shows devoted to doomsday preparation and killing zombies. _ABCNews
ABC News

The boom in gun and ammunition sales actually began in 2008, when it looked as if Obama might win his first presidential election. Since Senator Obama became President-elect Obama, the boom has continued. Now with Americans looking at the dismal prospect of a second Obama administration, the urge to "arm up" is becoming simply irresistable for more and more.
FBI background checks on gun buyers - a key barometer of civilian firearm and ammunition sales - have grown dramatically since 2008. So have federal excise tax collections on guns and ammo, up 45 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to the Treasury Department.

Background checks through the end of February rose 12 percent from last year, according to figures from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. _Press-Herald
The news media is hesitant to credit Obama with the economic boom in this small segment of the American economy, but most ordinary people understand where the arrow of causation points.
President Obama is single handedly responsible for the ongoing record setting avalanche of gun and ammunition sales all across America. This is because rank and file Americans do not trust the president and his clear and present anti-gun team. _Ted Nugent
Obama has done almost everything he can to destroy the US private sector economy. It was not his fault that the shale oil & gas industries were beginning to boom at the same time he moved into the White House. The rising economic tide for the states rich in shale oil & gas production has helped keep the overall US economy from sinking underwater, but that occurred in spite of Obama's policies.

The boom in gun & ammunition sales, on the other hand, has been an accurate interpretation of Obama's underlying intent, by ordinary Americans. Obama sees strength in the private sector economy as a direct threat to total central control of the country. He likewise sees private sector armaments as a direct threat to total governmental administrative control of citizen activity.

Obama's team tried to use the recent shooting of thug-behaving Trayvon Martin as a cause celebre in the anti-gun crusade. But that mis-cue is slowly collapsing around the US Democratic Party overall, as the evidence increasingly points toward Trayvon himself as the cause of his own death.

Look closely for the Obama team to attempt to generate another incident which might work more effectively toward their ends.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Is Civilisation In Crisis with the Collapse of the Welfare State Model?

During the Cold War, we said there were two kinds of countries: developed countries like the western industrial democracies and Japan, and developing countries. The developed countries had reached the end of history; they had figured everything out and only had to bask in their success, growing richer and happier year by year, but not changing in any disruptive or unpleasant ways.

Developing countries were still in the process that the developed countries had completed; they just needed to catch up, and then they too could stop.

The erosion of the blue [welfare state] model throughout the west rips these illusions away. There is no such thing as a developed country. No country on earth has reached a stable end state; there is no such thing as a comfortable retirement from the stresses and storms of history and of change. France, America, Germany, Japan: we thought we had found a permanent solution to all economic and social questions.

We hadn’t.

For countries like Brazil, India, South Africa and China, this raises profound questions. What is it that they are trying to do? What are they trying to become? Is their goal to emulate the social market economies that the west enjoyed a generation ago? Are they hoping to build a stable mass middle class on the basis of big box factory work and armies of white collar middle managers that dominated American life in 1970?

And if that isn’t the goal, what is? _Walter Russell Mead
The leftist welfare state model was supposed to answer these questions in the place of traditional customs, religions, and traditions. It was thought necessary to replace tradition with ideology because in multicultural societies, no single set of tribal customs could be allowed to dominate.

But if the leftist welfare state model is in crisis, a collapse backward into warring tribal factions -- as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Syria -- appears inevitable.
The “developing” countries are generally sticking with the old paradigm: that development is the process of turning blue [adopting the social democratic welfare state] and that Fordist industrialization can and will yield mass prosperity.

But they are likely to discover that this isn’t true. China will not be able to build a western style welfare state as its GDP grows. The South African labor unions won’t be able to turn the country into Detroit at its peak, with lifetime employment at high wages for a unionized work force.

Manufacturing employment in these countries will not indefinitely rise, and neither will pay. Competition from other, poorer, job-hungry countries will push wages down; automation will reduce the number of workers worldwide required to produce a given level of output and by reducing the supply of manufacturing jobs automation will also depress global wages, especially for the unskilled.

Developing countries (along with the Davoisie and most commentators and “modernization theorists”) have also assumed that because development meant the establishment of a stable middle class society, to become more economically developed was to become more politically stable.

...We, the Europeans and the Japanese can probably handle a generation of wandering. Life would be poorer and nastier than it needs to be, politics would get pretty poisonous and Europe’s problems with some of its immigrants might get deeply ugly, but this might just mean the degradation of social life and the impoverishment of democracy rather than chaos, violence and the rise of new ideologies and movements based on fanaticism and hate.

I’m not nearly as sure that the rest of the world would be as calm or as stable if the blue model continues to rot but we don’t make the move to the next step.

The fight for the reforms and changes in the United States that can facilitate and speed up the birth of a prosperous post-industrial society here is deeply connected to the fight for a peaceful and prosperous world in the 21st century. It is not just that these changes will keep the US rich and strong enough to play a role in supporting world peace. It is that the example of a successful transformation here will do more to promote democracy, peace and human rights worldwide than all the foreign aid, all the diplomats and even all the ships and tanks and drones in the world could ever do.

And it is raving lunacy to expect that there is some master plan that can reveal the shape of the new society and show us how to achieve it. That isn’t what life at the cutting edge of history is ever like. The challenge of our time is invention, not implementation. The future doesn’t exist yet; we have to make it up. _WRM in The American Interest
The problem is that modern civilised nations continue to shoot themselves in the foot, by electing destructively inept clowns such as Barack Obama, and carbon hysterics such as the current leaders of Australia and the greens in the governments of several European countries.

The problems are hard enough already, without making things 10 times harder by creating faux catastrophes such as carbon hysteria to waste precious resources on.

Walter Russell Mead talks about the potential for an abundant future facilitated by advanced technologies. Such a future is possible for some parts of some countries around the world. But there are many problems of human nature and politics which will have to be overcome. Most of the world is unlikely to see its way clear to an abundant future without a great deal of violent turmoil on the way.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Are Leftists Total Moo-Ons on Money?

The chief problem with money, as Walter Russell Mead observes, is that the Blue Model is running out of it. Once upon a time the money was just out there. The dollars were mooing and lowing like the buffalo on the Great Plains. The only problem was divvying it up. But now that it’s getting harder to come by, a whole host of professions based on the dollar hunting and skinning business is becoming endangered. Mead describes the situation in his vivid prose:
The dream machines of the blue social engineers don’t sail serenely across the azure sky anymore. Think of the various carbon exchanges and environmental planetary schemes; think of high speed rail proposals like California’s $100 billion train to bankruptcy; think of Obamacare. These days the experts, “social entrepreneurs” and smart young blue twenty somethings fresh out of the Ivy League whomp up social programs with as much verve and dedication as their New Deal and Great Society predecessors, but the new Dreamliners don’t take off. At most they roll around the runway, emitting clouds of noxious smoke; wings fall off, windows pop out, turbines misfire and the tires go flat. (Source)
Al Sharpton, by contrast, was trying to climb out of a deep financial hole. “The left-wing National Action Network Inc., headquartered in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, owes at least $1,556,059 in federal taxes and $108,489 in New York taxes, according to the Nexis tax liens database. Tax agencies typically file tax liens only after taxes have become significantly overdue and other collection methods have failed.”

After Trayvon Martin was killed, the Chicago Tribune found the Reverend raising money for Trayvon’s cause. At a rally he shouted:

“I’m going to start off with $2,500,” Sharpton said, holding up a check. “Who’s next?”

Then Sharpton announced that television personality Judge Greg Mathis donated $10,000.

Several elected Florida officials were present, and each took a turn addressing the crowd before Sharpton was scheduled to speak. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was one of the first to address the crowd Thursday night. She rallied the crowd by yelling, “I want an arrest, I want a trial.”

The she asked the crowd: “What do you want?”

And the crowd responded, “We want an arrest!”

Doubtless Sharpton really wants an arrest. But given the parlous state of his finances, it would be understandable if he didn’t mind making a few bucks on the side as well. All across the board the Blue Model is experiencing what parliamentary systems call the loss of “supply.” Supply is a term used to describe money bills, either taxation and government spending, which is the lifeblood of politics. _BelmontClub
The article goes on about how leftists are having trouble raising money for political campaigns, for social activism, and so on.

But the place the money has really and truly run out -- where leftists badly wish to spend $trillions more which do not exist -- is in the US federal budget. Obama has had to borrow over $1 trillion every year in office -- an unprecedented and previously inconceivable breach of fiscal responsibility.

Contrary to leftist moo-ons, the largest portion of the US federal budget goes to entitlements, and the next largest is interest on the debt. Both segments of the debt are growing exponentially, as $trillion deficits are becoming commonplace under Obama.

So, will Americans drink the koolaid and re-elect Obama and his cronies? No one knows. But if so, the anchor of the global economy and global security will certainly begin to crumble. Slowly at first, then ever faster.

Leftists and money simply do not mix cleanly or sustainably. Leftists are moo-ons about money, particularly other people's money. And now, increasingly, the "other people's money" that they are spending will belong to generations that will not be born for several decades yet.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

More Media Knee-Jerk Bias in Trayvon Martin Case

After learning that ABC News "doctored" police surveillance video to remove traces of a head injury from George Zimmerman, we now learn that NBC news edited the 911 call from Zimmerman in an extremely inflammatory manner:
In the NBC segment, Zimmerman says: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

The full version, though, unfolds like this:

Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

911 operator: “Okay. And this guy, is he white black or Hispanic?”

Zimmerman: “He looks black.” _Source
This media clown circus is unfolding to reveal a knee-jerk chorus of bias within the media and within the usual suspects of the professional rabble of race-baiting, including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

But who would have thought the President of the United States would belong in that disreputable group of knee-jerk race hate manipulators? Strange times indeed.

More here

More: CNN is caught fueling racial hatred

And Ben Crump, Attorney: The focus of the entire controversy

When is Democracy No Longer Viable?

Democratic forms of government are far from ideal even under the best of circumstances, but for most populations of the world ordinary democracy may not be viable any more.

The authors of the book "Beyond Democracy" maintain that democracy can't be fixed. They look at "13 myths of democracy" and explain why the things we think we know about democracy just ain't so.

Of course, Americans and other westerners have learned about the difficulties of encouraging democratic reforms in nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, and other nations whose traditions seem to be directly at odds with western democratic ideals.

But now we are learning that even the strongest of the social democracies of Europe may be unable to maintain their democratic traditions for much longer, for reasons of changing demographics.

Most honest and well read people understand the relationship between open commerce and prosperity and freedom. And a substantial proportion of these individuals also understand -- at least intuitively -- the association between a population's average IQ and educational levels and its ability to maintain prosperity along with rule of law and freedom.

But it is also fairly clear that democracy prospers best in societies where individuals can relate to one another, and where most individuals can and will pull their own weight. Democracy does not work well in a society of freeloaders, unless everyone is a freeloader and is willing to accept widespread national poverty and weakness in relationship to the outside world.

Diversity can also be a problem -- particularly certain kinds of diversity. Societies that are rich in low IQ diversity also tend to be poor in trust, high in crime, and in possession of democracies that are living on borrowed time. When "diversity" is used as a code word to promote affirmative action for low IQ populations, trouble is usually on the way.

All of that is made worse when government is made to be the central distributor of privileges, income, and success -- in exchange for votes and political support. Such a government will grow to the benefit of special interests and populist policies to the point of non-viability.

You may think of Greece, Italy, Spain .... But almost all of the nations of Western Europe, North America, and Oceania are slipping down that greased slope. All of them rapidly learning the limits to democracy in situations where demographic change will not allow the status quo approach to democratic government to continue on its current path.