»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, August 22, 2008

—————————

[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]

01 — Intro.     That was Peter Gould on the splendid organ of Derby Cathedral playing one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches. This is John Derbyshire, broadcasting Radio Derb from one of my numerous houses. Nah, just kidding there. I do know how many houses I own: the answer is an integer between zero and two. The thing I can never remember is whether it's a one-storey house or a two-storey house … but that's another story. [Laugh track]. Anyway, on with the show.

02 — Rent-seeking.     Really now, enough of this class warfare stuff. Instead of talking about who's got a pile of money and who hasn't, let's talk about the difference between economic entrepreneurs and political entrepreneurs. Economists have a piece of jargon I like a lot: "rent-seeking." Rent-seeking means getting money not by making something that consumers want to buy, or by providing some useful service that consumers are willing to pay for, or by honest trading for profit, but by gaming the political system. An example would be, oh, just to conjure up an imaginary example out of thin air, getting yourself a 300,000 dollar salary by shaking down big hospital corporations on behalf of the race-grievance rackets, while being married to a U.S. legislator who can help with pulling the funding strings. That's rent-seeking; that's a political entrepreneur. An economic entrepreneur would be someone who got rich by, for example, delivering beer to retail outlets — a very useful commercial service, and one that this consumer is certainly willing to pay for. There is a sort of gray zone here: What do economists call a person who gets his fortune neither by economic nor political entrepreneurship, but by marrying it? I'm not sure. "Marital entrepreneur"? We could ask John Kerry, I suppose. Can't think of anyone else to ask …

03 — Saddleback 1.     Baptist preacher and best-selling author Rick Warren hosted John McCain and Barack Obama last Saturday at his church in southern Aztlan — oops, sorry, I mean southern California — in front of 5,000 church members. So far as the personalities of the two candidates are concerned, the affair mainly confirmed things we already knew. We already knew that Barack Obama has an extremely thin résumé and an extremely pressing need to distance himself from the far-left positions he's held most of his life, while at the same time confirming his middle-class liberal credentials. And we already knew that John McCain is a stiff-necked old warrior with an equally pressing need to distance himself from his unconservative legislative record, and to get some street cred with evangelicals and social conservatives. I thought Rick Warren was surprisingly good as an interrogator, with short plain questions it was hard for the Senators to dodge. If we have to endure some presidential debates this fall, I hope the questioners will be as good as Rick Warren was. Although, having said that, I hope they'll cast their net a bit wider than he did. Those 5,000 people crammed into the Saddleback church to hear the questioning may well have been the only 5,000 people left in southern California who can understand English. Wasn't that worth a mention? Among my daily browse of the news reports I came across this one from Associated Press about Jefferson Senior High School in Los Angeles, student body 90 percent Latino, dropout rate 58 percent. This isn't worth talking about? Well, I guess when you have two open-borders multiculturalist fanatics in front of you, perhaps it isn't.

04 — Saddleback 2.     I came away from the Rick Warren event feeling a bit alarmed, though. Of course the whole thing, and many of the questions, had a strong religious coloring. Warren is a preacher, and the event was held in a church, so no surprise there. What did surprise and disturb me was that neither Warren nor either of the candidates seemed to think there was any distinction worth making between how human beings ought to behave, and how governments ought to behave. The notion of government on offer here, from all concerned, without any disagreement so far as I could see, was anthropomorphic. Government is a person, they seem to believe, with the same obligations under Christianity as a Christian person has. Jesus told us to feed the hungry? Well, then, our government must feed them — to quote John McCain: "Especially in Rwanda." This is completely wrong-headed, and in my opinion a road to national disaster. Generally speaking, the behavior I want from my government is the opposite of the behavior I want from my fellow human beings. I like the people around me to be generous; I'd prefer my government to be stingy, because when it's being generous, it's being generous with my money. I like the people around me to be trusting; I'd prefer my government to be suspicious, because to be trusting towards the gangsters who run most of the world's countries, is dangerous folly. Jimmy Carter ran a very trusting government, and ended up whimpering that — oh, he could hardly bring himself to believe it! — Leonid Brezhnev had lied to him! And so on. No, I don't in the least want my government to behave the way I want my family and friends to behave. What a stupid idea! Individual Christians, or adherents of any other religion, ought to strive to fulfill the obligations their faith places on them. Governments should stick firmly to the national interest, which will often involve killing people, destroying people's property, and standing by inactive while people go hungry and suffer. If your religion tells you to help suffering people in Rwanda, by all means do what you can. Rwanda and its sufferings are, however, of zero importance to the U.S.A. as a nation, and other than keeping a consul there to assist traveling Americans, our government as a government should have absolutely nothing to do with the place.

05 — Saddleback 3.     Aside from that alarming fact that both candidates want the U.S.A. to be a welfare agency for the entire world, there weren't many surprises. Asked about the Supreme Court, McCain said he didn't care for the liberal justices, while Obama didn't care for the conservative ones — with an extra vicious little twist of the knife on Obama's part against Clarence Thomas, who is, in Obama's eyes, a race traitor. Merit pay for teachers? McCain said yes, Obama, mindful of the fact that around 75 percent of the delegates at a Democratic nominating convention belong to teacher unions, blew out a cloud of squid ink. Confronted with metaphysical questions about the rights of fetuses and whether stem cells have souls, John McCain went for those social-conservative street creds, in full confidence that, like every other president before him, from either party, he would never actually have to do anything much about these things while in office. Obama said that stuff was, quote, "above my pay grade." This got him a lot of ridicule from conservatives, but I must say, personally, I agree with him. When Colonel Younghusband and his expeditionary force reached Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 1904, they found that the Tibetan government official they were dealing with had a title that translated as "Grand Metaphysician." We don't have one of those in the U.S. government, and if it's my choice, we'll keep it that way.

06 — Saddleback 4.     And then, those weird little exchanges about who's rich. Obama, quote: "I'm not suggesting that everybody that is making over $250,000 dollars is living on easy street …" You're not, Senator? What street are they living on? If Senator Obama won't suggest it, then I will, in fact, I'll say it bluntly: If you're making over $250,000, then you are living on easy street. Good luck to you. I hope to join you there one of these days — you and Barack and Michelle. In the meantime, I'm stuck down here in not-so-easy street, wondering how I'm going to come up with my September 15 estimated taxes. Now of course, when Obama says he's not suggesting that the over $250,000 crowd are not on easy street, there's an implied "but" there: "but I'm going to tax you till you bleed, anyway. How else is Obama going to pay for, quote from him, "building public health infrastructure around the world" You think it's cheap, building hospitals in Rwanda?

07 — Saddleback 5.     If Obama wants to tax us to death in the name of, quote again, "building public health infrastructure round the world," what does John McCain want? Pretty much the same, actually, though he's shiftier than Obama where the matter of paying for things is concerned. Quote from John: "We haven't devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self interest." End quote. That, in John-John's opinion, is America's greatest moral failing as a nation. I say again: as a nation, there is no cause greater than our national self-interest. As individual human beings, things may be different, but a nation is not a human being. Nations don't sleep, catch colds, or go to the bathroom. Another quote from John: "Evil must be defeated." I'm not sure if that is the stupidest thing a presidential candidate has ever said — it's a crowded field there — but for sheer ignorance of basic Christianity, coming from a guy who calls himself a Christian, that's hard to beat. Hasn't McCain ever heard of original sin? As somebody in Dostoyevsky says: The line between good and evil doesn't go between nations, or faiths, or parties, or even individuals, it goes right through the middle of every human heart. Why didn't Warren pull him up on this? He didn't say a word. Do I know more about Christianity than the famous pastor of a huge megachurch? That doesn't seem likely. Oh, well, what else. Another quote from John: "Our obligation is to stop genocide wherever we can." Is it, John? So why weren't you urging our government to stop genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose civil war, currently in uneasy suspension, has cost three million lives? I've never heard you say anything about it. Another quote from John: "Our Judeo-Christian principles dictate that we do what we can to help people who are oppressed throughout the world." Oh boy. Once again — and setting aside the gratuitous implied insult to citizens who are neither Jewish nor Christian — those principles do indeed dictate the thing John says they dictate, but only to us as individuals. They don't oblige our government to go running around the world righting wrongs and, er, "defeating evil," where our national interest is not clearly involved. Or, if you really think we should be out there slaying dragons all over the place, John, would you at least mind telling us how we shall pay for it? That clinking sound you hear is the sound of devaluing dollars.

08 — Saddleback 6.     And then the question about who each candidate would turn to for advice. Neither candidate gave the constitutional answer, which is: The first person I would turn to for advice on any subject would be the cabinet officer I have appointed to deal with the policy area into which that subject falls. Well, no nonsense about the Constitution from these guys. Obama favored his wife as chief advice-giver. If Michelle is going to fill that role, shouldn't we be asking her a few questions? Oh good heavens no, that would be wrong. Next in Obama's advice line is his grandmother, presumably the one who he was telling us a few weeks ago is a terrible racist. Who else? A bunch of pols, including Ted Kennedy, who we'd all been supposing was John McCain's best friend — at any rate, John-John's been depending on Ted's support to keep those borders open. Asked the same question, John-John named General Petraeus as first on his advice list. Doesn't anybody think this is odd? I mean, Petraeus is a fine and capable general, but so far as running the country is concerned, that's a pretty limited skill set. McCain filled out his advice list with a bunch of people nobody's heard of, though being careful to include a woman and a black guy. He didn't mention Ted Kennedy, so perhaps they've had a tiff, I don't know. So for advice-giving we have a wife, a grandmother, a general, a civil rights marcher, and Ted Kennedy. Let's hope neither of these guys feels much need to call for advice.

09 — Rats.     Enough of that, let's take a break here. What've we got in the Weird'n'Wonderful file? Here's a snippet of news from India, courtesy of Reuters, quote: "Authorities in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, are asking citizens to switch to eating rats in a bid to reduce the dependence on rice. They even plan to offer rats on restaurant menus." End quote. This is not as bizarre as it seems. In back-country Thailand in the 1970s, people ate rats, I can assure you. You could even buy canned rat meat, though the English translation of the can said "field rabbits." They were rats. People would hasten to explain to you that these were not city rats, living in sewers, and feeding on what you find in sewers. These were country rats, feeding on rice and other grains. In fact, part of the logic over there in Bihar is that if people eat rats it will help save grain stocks, fifty percent of which are consumed by rats. So: if you're visiting Bihar and decide to drop in at the local bistro for a candlelit dinner with your significant other, don't be surprised to find rat on the menu: rat fricasée, rat wellington, rat parmigiana, moo goo gai rat, you know, depending on restaurant ethnicity. Memo to the authorities in Bihar: If rats are eating fifty percent of your grain stocks, for goodness sake call in an exterminator. Pied piper, … something … Also from India — might as well pack all the India news into one segment — the world's oldest man has died over there. Habib Miyan of Jaipur claimed to be 138, but his pension book said only 129. This guy retired in 1938. Now he's passed away. Whether he ate rats or not, I have no information.

10 — Pakistan.     Keep going right through India and you come to Pakistan, the Moslem country with nuclear weapons. President Pervez Musharraf resigned this week. His resignation is generally considered a loss for the U.S.A., as he was willing to be bribed to go along with our operations in Afghanistan, even though large factions in his society and his military are anti-American. It's not likely his successor, to be announced, will be as pliable. If the successor is bribable, the bribe price will likely be higher. It's cost the American taxpayer about $10bn to keep Musharraf inside the tent — these Third World politicians don't come cheap. Well, we shall see. I'm not even going to pretend to have any insights into Pakistani politics. I'll just note that they play very rough indeed, that of the previous six Pakistani presidents, one was hanged, one was assassinated, two resigned, one was deposed, and one got away with just paying a fine. My advice to Musharraf would be, get the heck out of there. Your bank manager in Switzerland should be able to suggest some suitable retirement spots.

11 — Olympics.     Running out of time here on Radio Derb, folks, but I can't wind up without a very brief summary of the Olympic news. China's ahead in gold medals, but the U.S.A. is ahead in medals overall, which I guess is a nice split. With any luck, none of those talented Chinese coaches will be sent off to break rocks in Qinghai Province. As usual, the Anglosphere as a whole made a terrific showing, with gold medal placings for the U.S.A., Britain, Australia, Jamaica, Canada, New Zealand, and Kenya at numbers 2, 3, 6, 13, 17, 21, and 24 respectively. Even Zimbabwe showed up there at number 34 in the rankings with four medals — tradable on the street in Zimbabwe for at least a loaf of bread and a pint of gasoline, I should think — or in cash terms, a hundred billion trillion trillion Zimbabwe dollars. Still, at least Zimbabwe's four medals put paid to the lie that black Africans can't swim. Oh, no, wait a minute: they were all won by Kirsty Coventry, who is a blonde white girl. Sorry about that. I keep forgetting that when watching the Olympics I am supposed to keep chanting to myself: There is no such thing as race. There is no such thing as race. There is no such thing as race … Congratulations to Jamaican Usain Bolt, who overcame the crushing handicap of having the same name as Barack Obama, give or take a consonant, to win gold for the 100 meters sprint, and another gold for best post-event dance. Like Kirsty Coventry, Bolt belongs to no race at all, certainly not to the same race, if there were such a thing, as all the Olympic 100 meters sprint finalists for as far back as anyone can remember. Absolutely not. There is not such thing as race. There is no such thing as race. … In other Olympic news, Chinese gymnasts He Kexin and Yang Yilin are having their ages investigated by the IOC. Neither gymnast was available for comment when I got through to Peking on this, as both had been put down for their afternoon nap. One more item on the Olympics: I hereby move that all future women's beach volleyball matches be conducted in the rain, or at least that contestants be regularly sprayed with water for that glistening look. And if Misty May-Treanor wants my cellphone number so I can give her an exclusive interview, it's available via National Review. Or, if she'd prefer, I will walk barefoot across a thousand miles of scorching sands to give it to her. Oh, and just going back to those Anglosphere rankings for a moment: Where is Ireland? You'd think a diet of corned beef, cabbage, and potatos, washed down with plenty of Mr. Jameson's fine whiskey, would produce champions a-plenty. A great mystery. Perhaps the Irish are on a boycott, miffed at the exclusion of hurley, Gaelic football, and step dancing.

12 — Signoff.     That really has to be it, I'm afraid, Radio Derb listeners. Sometimes there is just too much going on to cram into a half hour radio show. I shall be back next week with an update on Vladimir Putin's routing of the American team in the 3,000 meters invasion final, Hillary Clinton's gold for smiling through clenched teeth at Obama rallies, and the ongoing class-warfare mixed doubles wrestling final between millionaire author Barack Obama and his shakedown artist wife, and millionaire husband John McCain and his multiply-domiciled spouse. I can't imagine how Cindy finds time to do all that housework. Perhaps there's an explanation fo John-John's open borders enthusiasm there somewhere …

[Music clip: More Haydn.]