The Wet Blanket Movement

Joe Carter at First Things is leery of the Tea Party Movement, saying that true conservatives don’t like enthusiasm or protest demonstrations. He proposes an alternative program to limit government:  The Wet Blanket Movement.  Unfortunately, he says, the proper leader of this movement is dead.  That would be Calvin Coolidge.  He quotes Walter Lippman on the great man:

Mr. Coolidge’s genius for inactivity is developed to a very high point. It is far from being an indolent inactivity. It is a grim, determined, alert inactivity which keeps Mr. Coolidge occupied constantly. Nobody has ever worked harder at inactivity, with such force of character, with such unremitting attention to detail, with such conscientious devotion to the task. Inactivity is a political philosophy and a party program with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for the soft and easy desire to let things slide. Mr. Coolidge’s inactivity is not merely the absence of activity. It is on the contrary a steady application to the task of neutralizing and thwarting political activity wherever there are signs of life.

The White House is extremely sensitive to the first symptoms of any desire on the part of Congress or of the executive departments to do something, and the skill with which Mr. Coolidge can apply a wet blanket to an enthusiast is technically marvelous. There have been Presidents in our time who knew how to whip up popular enthusiasm. There has never been Mr. Coolidge’s equal in the art of deflating interest. The mastery of what might be called the technique of anti-propaganda is worthy of prolonged study by students of public opinion. The naive statesmen of the pre-Coolidge era imagined that it was desirable to interest the people in their government, that public discussion was a good thing, that indignation at evil was useful. Mr. Coolidge is more sophisticated. He has discovered the value of diverting attention from government, and with exquisite subtly that amounts to genius, he has used dullness and boredom as political devices.

via Calvin Coolidge and the Wet Blanket Movement » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Court overturns Arizona’s immigration law

Most of it, at least:

A U.S. judge has blocked the most controversial provisions of a new immigration law in the southwestern state of Arizona, one day before the measure was to go into effect.

The federal judge Wednesday blocked the part of the law that required police to check the immigration status of any person they stop for a violation and suspect is in the country illegally.

Judge Susan Bolton also put on hold a provision requiring immigrants to carry documentation at all times, and a measure that made it illegal for undocumented immigrants to seek work in public places.

via US Judge Blocks Key Parts of Arizona Immigration Law | News | English.

Temporary marriage

We have blogged earlier about the phenomenon of “temporary marriage” in Shi’ite Islam, which sanctions sexual immorality by allowing a man to “marry” a woman and then “divorce” her after a one-night stand.  Now a mosque in Iran is, in effect, setting up a prostitution ring, including in its offerings children as young as twelve.  Here is the official announcement:

In order to elevate the spiritual atmosphere, create proper psychological conditions and tranquility of mind, the Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centers for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to cooperate with us. Each of our sisters who signs up will be bound by a two-year contract with the province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan and will be required to spend at least 25 days of each month temporarily married to those brothers who are on pilgrimage. The period of the contract will be considered as a part of the employment experience of the applicant. The period of each temporary marriage can be anywhere between 5 hours to 10 days. The prices are as follows:

· 5 hour temporary marriage — 50,000 Tomans ($50 US)

· One day temporary marriage — 75,000 Tomans ($75 US)

· Two day temporary marriage — 100,000 Tomans ($100 US)

· Three day temporary marriage — 150,000 Tomans ($150 US)

· Between 4 and 10 day temporary marriage — 300,000 Tomans ($300 US)

Our sisters who are virgins will receive a bonus of 100,000 Tomans ($100 US) for the removal of their hymen.

After the expiration of the two-year contract, should our sisters still be under 35 years of age and should they be so inclined, they can be added to the waiting list of those who are seeking long-term temporary marriage. The employed sisters are obligated to donate 5% of their earnings to the Shrine of Imam Reza. We ask that all the sisters who are interested in applying, to furnish two full-length photographs (fully hijabed and properly veiled), their academic diplomas, proof of their virginity and a certificate of good physical and psychological health which they can obtain through the health and human services of the township of their residence. Please forward all compiled material and send to the below address by the 31st of the month of Ordibehesht, 1389 (May 21st, 2010).

Attention: For sisters who are below 14 years of age, a written consent from their fathers or male guardian is required.

via Pajamas Media » Pimp Your Mosque!.

Again we see how legalism begets loop-hole hunting and immorality, while maintaining self-righteousness.

NOTE: I should clarify, as a Muslim commenter points out, that only Shi’ite Muslims practice “temporary marriage.” Sunni Muslims, who make up 90% of the faith, strongly reject this. It’s one of the reasons they are so opposed to the Shi’ites.

Watching television

I am not what you would call an early adopter. Our one-and-half year old granddaughter was poking the buttons on our television set and somehow she broke the thing! The screen would light up, showing no picture, and then fade to black. Since that set dated from about the time when her mother was her age, we decided to buy a new one. I find that you can’t just get one with a cathode-ray tube anymore, so we ended up with a high-definition TV. I’m marveling. We are literally watching TV. Not watching programs, just watching our television set, surfing around for striking visual images. I realize that most of the rest of you have already had that experience with HDTV and now take it for granted, and I realize that some of you are standing tall against the baleful influence of this device. I salute that. But I am enjoying the stunning clarity and beauty of these pictures.

The jobs conundrum

Profits are way up, but employment is way down.  Harold Meyerson is worried about what he sees as a new business model:

In the mildly halcyon days before the 2008 crash, the one economic outlier was wages. Profit, revenue and GDP all increased; only ordinary Americans’ incomes lagged behind. Today, wages are still down, employment remains low and sales revenue isn’t up much, either. But profits are the outlier. They’re positively soaring.

Among the 175 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index that have released their second-quarter reports, the New York Times reported Sunday, revenue rose by a tidy 6.9 percent, but profits soared by a stunning 42.3 percent. Profits, that is, are increasing seven times faster than revenue. The mind, as it should, boggles.

How can America’s corporations so defy gravity? Ever adaptive, they have evolved a business model that enables them to make money even while the strapped American consumer has cut back on purchasing. For one thing, they are increasingly selling and producing overseas. General Motors is going like gangbusters in China, where it now sells more cars than it does in the United States. In China, GM employs 32,000 assembly-line workers; that’s just 20,000 fewer than the number of such workers it has in the States. And those American workers aren’t making what they used to; new hires get $14 an hour, roughly half of what veterans pull down.

The GM model typifies that of post-crash American business: massive layoffs, productivity increases, wage reductions (due in part to the weakness of unions), and reduced sales at home; increased hiring and booming sales abroad. Another part of that model is cash retention. A Federal Reserve report last month estimated that American corporations are sitting on a record $1.8 trillion in cash reserves. As a share of corporate assets, that’s the highest level since 1964.

Why invest in new plants, offices and workers, particularly here at home? Spooked by the 2008 crash, corporations want to keep more money under the mattress. More important, they’re sitting pretty as profits rise.

via Harold Meyerson – The job machine grinds to a halt.

I wonder about this.  The big job creators in this country are not the big corporations but small businesses.  They do not usually have the luxury of outsourcing employment overseas.  We need to ask how they are doing and what they need to get back on their feet.

Companies do not exist, of course, primarily to provide people jobs; that is their social benefit, not their purpose.  But if they do not provide goods and services that people need, they will cease to exist.  Yet society needs to have people gainfully employed.  More from Meyerson:

The restoration of American prosperity, then, isn’t likely to be driven by our corporate sector. Across-the-board business tax cuts make no sense when business is already sitting on oceans of cash. Targeted tax cuts and credits for strategic investment and hiring within the United States, on the other hand, make excellent sense. The Obama administration has proposed expanding the tax credit for the manufacture of green technology here at home, and congressional Democrats will soon unveil legislation creating further incentives for domestic manufacturing.

Another source of jobs would be public, and public-private, investment in infrastructure. As Michael Lind and  Sherle Schwenninger of the New America Foundation have argued, building a new American infrastructure of roads, rail and broadband is not only an economic necessity but also the investment with the highest multiplier effect in creating new jobs. A U.S. infrastructure investment bank, such as that proposed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), could leverage significant private capital to begin America’s rebuilding, though the idea has encountered rough sledding in (surprise) the Senate.

I don’t know about that either. Any ideas?

When the state-run health care system makes cuts

Great Britain has a state-run health care system, having taken over virtually all medical care at little or no cost to the individual.  That’s what many people in this country would also like to see eventually.  But now the incredibly expensive British system has to save costs.  Here are some of the ways the British government will save money:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.

* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.

* Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.

* Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.

via Axe falls on NHS services – Telegraph.

This is why so many Americans are leery of state-run health care. They don’t want to become dependent on the federal government for their very lives, knowing that what the state gives it can take away. The free market is the only way to allocate supply and demand while cultivating both freedom and abundance. (Yes, scarcity raises prices for the poor, but that can be addressed without taking over the whole system in a command economy run from above.)