Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Quick Run Around the Web -- December 31, 2015

Source: Daily Mail, "Shocking aerial photographs show devastation caused by historic Mississippi flooding that has killed at least 20 - and officials warn there are more deaths to come." I'm interested in seeing how far south the flooding will spread, since there are worse things that could happen.

  • "Swiss Army Chief Warns Of Social Unrest, Calls Upon Citizens To Arm Themselves"--Zero Hedge. "Swiss army chief AndrĂ© Blattmann warned, in a Swiss newspaper article on Sunday, the risks of social unrest in Europe are soaring. Recalling the experience of 1939/1945, Blattman fears the increasing aggression in public discourse is an explosively hazardous situation, and advises the Swiss people to arm themselves and warns that the basis for Swiss prosperity is 'being called into question.'" (H/t Vox Popoli).
  • "All You Americans Are Fired"--Buzz Feed. "The H-2 guest worker program, which brought in 150,000 legal foreign workers last year, isn’t supposed to deprive any American of a job. But many businesses go to extraordinary lengths to deny jobs to U.S. workers so they can hire foreigners instead."
“Obama is transferring the jobs and salaries of Americans to foreign nationals, including illegal aliens… [who will be] licensed to take middle class jobs,” said one Hill staffer. The pending rule “highlights the unholy alliance between progressive Democrats, progressive Republicans, and the Obama administration… [so] when it comes to finding a job in America, being native-born in America is a disadvantage,” the staffer said. 
The 181-page rule focuses primarily on giving work-permits to foreign college-grads who will compete against Americans for white collar jobs, despite the large number of American graduates now stuck in lower-wage positions and struggling to pay off college debts. The rule will also make each foreign graduate much cheaper for U.S. employers to hire than many U.S.-born college grads.

The big lie in the West is egalitarianism. ... [That] [e]veryone is equal, and if one group doesn’t appear equal, it’s because they’re being oppressed by another group.

For a number of reasons, there will be no improvement to the American K-12 educational system. First, there is no imperative for America to improve its own public school system so long as it can continue to rely on external talent. The United States will continue to reap the fruits of the far superior preparatory educational systems of other countries (China, South Korea, India). If America can import foreign talent, it has no need to cultivate domestic talent.
    Second, demographic trends dictate that American student performance will only worsen. There are now more minority students than white students at the Kindergarten level. This numerical superiority will propagate like a wave along a jump rope held at both ends, through the elementary school, then middle school, and finally high school level. With many students coming from a background that is often staunchly anti-intellectual and deeply resentful of any attempts to academically uplift them, average student performance will plummet.
      The wealthy will continue sending their children to private schools and preparatory academies and will be insulated from this trend. White children of poor and middle class backgrounds will suffer the most: unless they summon the self-discipline to challenge themselves by supplementing what they learn at school through independent learning, they will not be able to compete and will be condemned to meager university and job prospects.
      •  Related: "The Two Empires We Must Defeat"--Sultan Knish. "These two types of imperialists are incapable of representing native workers or communities because they are transnationalists. Their vision is cosmopolitan, rather than representative. They are entranced with a byzantine international arrangement and uninterested in the lives of the people they are ruining." He continues:
        An empire may begin by conquering other countries, but it invariably ends by conquering and consuming its own. The empire we are part of isn't, despite the left's rhetoric, a conquering empire. American territorial expansionism ended long before we became part of an empire. Instead we are part of an empire of systems, an empire of principles, an empire of internationalism, of trade and of pieces of papers, legal and financial, being moved through the bowels of our endless systems.
          This is the thing that we call international law. And it has to die for us to live.
            This is the empire that feeds armies of foreign immigrants through our countries. It's also the empire that pays allegiance to Islam because empires have to diversify to expand. Diversity isn't the source of our strength. It is the source of imperial expansionism which has to absorb many more peoples.
              To empires, people are interchangeable. If the natives have a low birth rate and a long lifespan, then workers with high birth rates and lower lifespans are brought in to replace them. If the natives are reluctant to pay higher taxes, immigrants from countries that are fine with voting for high taxation are imported. That is how empires, not nations, do business.
                This is what the political establishment in most countries believes. This is what tearing them apart.
                  The only way for the nations to survive is for the empire, in all its forms, the ideological revolutionary empire of the left and the centrist empire of international law, to to be cast off.
                    Every political revolution that fails to take into account the power of these two empires on our national politics is doomed to fail. To win a conflict, you have to understand what you are fighting.
                      We are fighting against two variations on the same set of ideas about the importance of transnational institutions over national ones. We are fighting against the entrenched loyalty to systems and ideology over people. We are fighting empires that have displaced people for ideas.
                        The only possible revolution that can succeed against these two empires is populist. It must emerge from the needs of the people of a country to be free, to be prosperous and to manage its own affairs. It must proceed by showing the people how they have been victimized and how they are being victimized. And it must show them that they reclaim what their grandparents had if they take back controls over their own countries and destinies. 
                          So perspective is in order as we look at the world in late 2015. The fateful rupture between the US and China that many feared has not in fact happened. Washington has so far managed the rise of a rival superpower more or less benignly.
                            China has just been admitted into the governing elite of the Bretton Woods financial system with the backing of the US Treasury. To wide consternation, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping steered through a sweeping climate change accord in Paris, the template for a new G2 condominium.
                              * * *
                                Yet the Chinese hubris that seemed so alarming four years ago has faded with the dawning realisation that they are not magicians after all - and America is not in decline after all - and that they risk the middle income trap soon enough if they make any further mistakes.
                                  Russia's Vladimir Putin has gained little by overthrowing Europe's post-war order, and seizing a piece of recognized Ukrainian territory by armed force. He has kept Crimea but his attempt to foster revolt in the Donbass through agitators and proxies has fizzled, and in the process he has transformed what was previously a neutral Ukraine into a hostile rampart of the West.
                                    His hopes of dividing the Atlantic alliance have come to nothing. Europe has just renewed sanctions. They are biting deep. The country is shut out of Western capital markets. Unless oil recovers, the Kremlin will have exhausted its reserve fund by 2016, and will face a fiscal crisis by mid-2017.
                                      There are grounds for hoping that the world economy is at last starting to free itself from a low-growth trap. The global savings rate has peaked at 25pc of GDP and seems to be trending down very slowly as China switches to a consumption-led growth model. Or put another way, the underlying imbalance of capital over spending that has bedevilled us for so long is finally correcting.
                                          Icing the cake, we have the net global stimulus of the oil slump. It is a windfall gain in spending power for importers in Asia and the West. Yet the petro-powers are not cutting their spending pari passu: they are running down their wealth funds to prop up their welfare states.
                                            * * *
                                              The underlying deformities of the eurozone have not been corrected. There is still no fiscal union. The tensions will return in the next global downturn. But for now the quadruple stimulus of a cheap euro, cheap oil, quantitative easing and the end of fiscal austerity are all combining in a "perfect positive storm", enough to give the eurozone another cyclical lease of life.
                                                The one great disorder we have in the world right now is the collapse of the century-old Sykes-Picot dispensation in the Middle East, made more combustible by the Sunni-Shia battle for regional mastery.
                                                  It is certainly a humanitarian tragedy, but in hard-headed geostrategic terms it is a regional problem, a particular struggle within Islam to come to terms with modernity. It is sui generis and of no universal relevance.
                                                    Nor should we overestimate the staying power of the Wahhabi caliphate as it attempts to hold fixed ground against a world now seriously roused in wrath, and without fixed ground, constant infusions of money and the allure of rising momentum, Isis does not add up to much.
                                                      Yes, the world is a mess, but it has always been a mess, forever climbing the proverbial wall of political worry even in its halcyon days. So let us drink a new year's toast with a glass at least half full.

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