»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, April 2, 2010


[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     Year 2, Day 73 of the transformation of America, and I think I can detect the climate cooling and the ocean levels falling already. Truly we have been blessed. Greetings, listeners! This is your hypnopompically genial host John Derbyshire with this weekend's edition of Radio Derb. That Aprill, with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote / And bathed every veyne in swich licour, / Of which vertu engendred is the flour. Yes, it's Spring at last. The daffodils are out, the little birds are singing, the congresscritters are legislating, and little lambs are gambolling in the fields. Republican National Committee staffers, meanwhile, are gambolling in the fleshpots of California, and sticking party donors with the tab. That's a story we'll be getting to shortly. First, though, some large political reflections.

02 — Obama strategy.     We're seeing an interesting, really quite creative, approach to political strategy from the administration. The general idea is to push forward the leftist program by stealth, under cover of conservative or populist measures. Two cases in point: energy and immigration. On energy, the administration goal is to get cap-and-trade legislation through. In cap-and-trade, a government regulatory body sets an overall limit on each major type of pollutant. Firms then trade among themselves for the right to pollute, total pollution always being kept under the cap. There are major problems with the whole idea, from opportunities for chicanery and government favoritism to the technicalities of measuring individual firm's pollution to the accuracy required. And of course, a lot of the pollution being limited comes from energy production. A utility will have to pay for the right to do what it's currently doing for free. Guess who the increased cost gets passed on to? Cap-and-trade is a big expansion of government regulatory power, though, so of course the Left loves it. But how do you get it past the electorate and their congresscritters, when it means higher energy prices and more government bureaucracy? Well, you tell 'em you're going to permit drilling for oil in offshore waters. That gives cover to key congressmen, and spreads the illusion that you're open-minded about oil exploration, not obsessively fixated on so-called "green" solutions that cost a fortune and do very little. Same with immigration. Democrats water at the mouth thinking of those millions of new voters and welfare clients they can corral from the huddled masses of Mexico and Central America. How to enact amnesty, though? Well, one stumbling block is that too many people remember the last amnesty, in 1986, which was supposed to be a once-for-all deal with strict future enforcement on the borders. We got the amnesty, but no enforcement. OK, let's have a show of enforcement to sweeten the pill. We'll drop enforcement as soon as the amnesty deal is through, of course, but it'll fool enough people for long enough, and give cover to congresscreeps who want to keep open borders for their cheap-labor-hungry business donors and client-hungry government-worker unions, without ticking off regular voters who wonder why we're importing workers when citizens can't find jobs. That's why you're reading about this carefully leaked memo from ICE setting higher levels of deportation quotas for ICE agents. The Hispanic lobbies are playing along with a straight face, pretending to be indignant, asking for resignations and so on, like the Obamarrhoids didn't let them in on the scam. We've got some smart players here, listeners. Fortunately the Republican Party has plenty who are even smarter, right? Of course we do! That's why we're called the Smart Party. Right? Right.

03 — RNC voyeurs.     What the Republican Party has actually been called this week is the Party Party. That's "party" as in — could you give me some party sounds, girls? [Party sounds] Thanks. This follows Monday's news that the Republican National Committee shelled out $2,000 for some donors to be taken to a strip club in West Hollywood, a club featuring lesbian bondage shows. People are frowning and clicking their tongues at Michael Steele, the Republican Party chairman. It's not clear that Steele knew anything about the payment; but that's kind of the point — lax supervision of disbursements, about which there's been grumbling for some time. Now, Michael Steele has his virtues. I've been to a meeting he addressed, and a darn good address it was, clear and inspiring. That business about the hip-hop makeover of the RNC website was deeply silly, and I was groaning along with everyone else; but as dumb and embarrassing as it undoubtedly was, it was well meant. And for doing what the RNC exists to do — keeping the GOP co-ordinated and consistent so it can win elections — you can't say Steele's been a failure, not with Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie in their state houses and Scott Brown sitting in Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. So I'll cut Steele a lot of slack. Still, fiscal irresponsibility at the RNC, when Republicans should be pushing fiscal restraint for all they're worth as a major theme, is beyond dumb. Get some auditors in there, for crying out loud.

04 — Motes and beams.     "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" I'm addressing that question to the political Left, to the people over there on the Left wailing and wringing their hands over what they tell us is an outbreak of threats and insults directed at them. Have there been threats? Have there been insults? Sure: there's a certain level of that stuff in political life, and always has been. Even so inconsequential a figure as your beloved Radio Derb host gets a certain amount of it. A question we might want to ask, though, is which side of the political divide generates more of this? To that question, I think the answer is in no doubt whatsoever. Last week Radio Derb reported on Ann Coulter's attempt to address students at the University of Ottawa. Leftists there made such plausible threats of mob violence, she had to cancel the event. The university authorities made it plain they were on the side of the mob, and supported their threats. They even made a few threats of their own. All right, that was in Canada, but such things are common enough in the U.S.A., too. Last year former congressman Tom Tancredo, who wants the nation's laws on immigration enforced, tried to speak at the University of North Carolina. He was shouted down by a mob of open-borders fanatics, who broke windows and threatened him with violence. Police had to come and shut down the event and escort Tom away. As Radio Derb said last week, when did you ever hear of a screeching mob of conservatives shutting down a left-wing speaker? Has that ever happened? You see the same imbalance out at the political fringes. Black nationalist Louis Farrakhan held a huge rally — 20,000 people — at United Center in Chicago earlier this month, at which Farrakhan delivered his crackpot spiel against Jews and white people. Nobody seemed to mind much; certainly there were no screaming mobs drowning him out. Over to the white nationalist American Renaissance group, who tried to hold a conference in the nation's capital in February. The hotels they booked with were swamped with death threats and lurid propaganda leaflets to such a degree they canceled their contracts with the organizers. Regardless of how you feel about racial nationalism, this really doesn't support the thesis that meek, harmless leftists are cowering in fear of crazy rightists, or African Americans scurrying around in terror of white mobs yelling taboo words at them. It looks a whole lot more like the other way round — as a friend of mine quipped: Not so much Jim Crow as Jim Snow. You might want to read up on Matthew, Chapter 7, guys: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

05 — HAMP.     HAMP. H-A-M-P, that's the latest bit of insanity on the housing front. HAMP stands for "Home Affordable Modification Program." See, our Dear Leader is sore distressed in his heart at the thought of all those homeowners who are under water — that is, living in houses whose value has fallen so far, they owe more money on their mortgage than the house is worth. What's to be done? Well, the mortgage lenders have to write off some of the principal that's owed. How can the federal government make them do that? It can't, but it can bribe them. So here comes $12 billion of taxpayers' money — your money and my money, pal — to people who bought a whole lotta house figuring the value of the property would go on going up for ever. To put it perhaps a little bluntly: You and I are paying money to help out people who made a bad speculative investment. Y'know, I've made a few bad investments in my time — stocks that someone told me would go up for ever, training courses that I was assured would help me get a better job, months spent writing books that I was sure would make me a million dollars and a name to be conjured with in the literary salons of the Western world, but which, as it turned out, nobody wanted to publish. Funny thing, though: when things didn't pan out, not in a single case did Uncle Sam show any interest in helping me out. Obviously I've been making the wrong bad investments.

06 — Money for good behavior.     There seem to be a lot of ways to get money from government, none of which applies to me. I give money to the government. Governments, I mean: federal, state, local. I don't seem to be able to get any money from the government. The fundamental problem here is that I'm middle class. I'm not rich, I'm not poor. The entire economic structure of the modern Western state is one of governments milking the middle class and transferring the milk — after, of course, skimming off some cream for the government-worker class — to, on the one hand, the rich, and on the other hand, the poor. George Orwell's vision of the future was of a boot stamping on a human face. The way things actually turned out, it's more like a perpetual mugging, with Goldman Sachs execs and underclass octomoms taking turns to relieve us middle-class shmoes of the contents of our wallets. Well, all right, that's enough whining, Derb: let's turn to the question of whether the system actually works. Let's in fact focus even more narrowly than that: Does giving money to poor people work? New York City, which surrounds our glittering headquarters here at Buckley Towers like peasants' huts huddled round a medieval cathedral, has been engaged in an experiment to find out. For the last three years, the city has been monitoring a privately-financed pilot program that pays poor people to practice a middle-class lifestyle. They've paid adults $150 a month for holding a steady job, for example. Kids who attend school regularly have been getting $50 a month. A kid who passes the state exams gets $600. Everyone gets $100 for going to the dentist … and so on. Recipients are poor families living in New York City, 80 percent of them single-parent families. The inspiration for this was a similar program in Mexico. The ultimate idea was to set up a publicly funded city program on the same lines. Well, how did the pilot project work out? Not well. So not well, in fact, the city is now dropping the idea of a publicly financed version. This is all a bit odd, because the Mexican program that's the model for New York's, seems to work well. Here you see the defects of the liberal imagination. There is a key difference between poor single-parent families in New York City and poor peasants in Mexico. The latter possess next to nothing, and face huge institutional barriers to getting access to any social goods. In Mexico it is possible to be motivated, hard-working, future-oriented, and ambitious, yet still remain dirt poor. In New York City, it's not. In New York City, if you're motivated, hard-working, future-oriented, and ambitious, you'll be in the middle class in no time. The barriers to personal achievement in Mexico are institutional, social, political, and cultural. The barriers in New York are personal, to do with individual psychology. If you're poor in Mexico, you can't afford to send your kids to school. You need them to help work in the fields, or pick over the garbage pile, or add appeal to your street begging. There is no person in New York who can't afford to send his kids to school. In the mind of a liberal, poor people are just the same everywhere. Like so many notions that exist in the minds of liberals, this one is false.

07 — Belgium bans burkas.     Ah, plucky little Belgium. [Clip: "Belgium put the kibosh on the Kaiser"] Yes, when push comes to shove for Western Civ., Belgium is always in the front line. Here they are again, headline from the London Daily Mail: Belgium moves to become first European country to ban the burka. Radio Derb's been here before too, just four weeks ago, and we'll say again what we said then: "Libertarianism in One Country." Bottom line: Let X be the proportion of your population made up by immigrants from utterly different cultures; and let Y be the number of laws you have to pass restricting personal liberty. Derbyshire's theorem states that Y is proportional to X. If you have a huge immigrant population with strange garments, customs, and languages, you will have a lot of frictions in your society, and you will need laws to control those frictions. So here, once again, is Radio Derb's solution to the burka problem: severely restrict immigration from places where women wear burkas, and ask burka-ed non-citizens to leave. Then let citizens dress as they please, within the constraints of customary modesty, whatever those constraints are for your particular society. The better you guard your borders, and the more parsimonious you are with settlement visas, the more freedom your citizens can enjoy. Libertarianism in one country. Belgium has got itself another Nanny State law, because Belgium allowed 650 thousand Muslims to settle there. If they hadn't allowed the settlement, they wouldn't need the law. What's difficult to understand here?

08 — Krentz murder.     One of the consequences of having an undefended national border is that those of your citizens who live near the border are not very safe. Random criminals from the other nation can assault the person or property of these citizens, then dodge back over the border, instantly doubling the number of jurisdictions involved in solving the crime and catching the criminal. Where the neighbor nation is unfriendly, or has territorial claims on yours, cross-border attacks can escalate into ethnic cleansing, as happened with the systematic murder of Protestant farmers in Northern Ireland from the 1970s through the 1990s, terrorists from the Irish Republic crossing the border to pick them off. I don't think our wide-open southern border has yet brought us to the ethnic cleansing situation, but it can only be a matter of time. When it happens, the event that marks its beginning may be last Saturday's shooting of 58-year-old Rob Krenz on his ranch outside the town of Douglas, in the bottom right-hand corner of Arizona. Krenz's family had been ranching down there for a hundred years, but recently he'd been plagued by drug smugglers, people smugglers, and freelance illegal immigrants using his land, breaking and stealing his stuff, destroying his fences, and killing his livestock. On Saturday they killed Rob, and his dog too. Quote from the Arizona Republic, quote: "Foot tracks were identified and followed approximately 20 miles south to the Mexico border by sheriff's deputies, U.S. Border Patrol trackers and Department of Corrections dog chase teams, authorities said." End quote. Lots of luck finding that killer, guys. Of course, you could always ask for more assistance from the Department of — what's it supposed to be a department of? oh yes — Homeland Security. [Laugh track]

09 — Signoff.     At this point in the broadcast, faithful listeners look forward with eager anticipation to our customary miscellany of brief items from the news. This being a holiday weekend, however, and my bodacious research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy having importuned me most energetically, and, furthermore, with music wafting down from Jonah's suite on the 96th floor telling me that the weekend party is already under way, I have decided to let the staff off early. It remains only to wish all listeners a relaxed and contemplative Easter weekend, with joy, here on the eastern seaboard at least, of the glorious spring weather shining over us. Life is good — right, girls? [Girls: "Of course" … party sounds] OK, off you go, girls. See you in the grotto. Happy Easter, listeners, or Happy Passover, and, er, Ahmed, is there a Muslim holiday this weekend? [Ahmed: "Yes. This is the beginning of the festival known as 'Slay the Infidel.'"] Really? How many days does that last? [Ahmed: "365."] Ha ha ha! He's a rip, that Ahmed, isn't he? We have so much fun with Ahmed. Why don't you come on up to the grotto with us, Ahmed? Sure, you can bring the goat …

[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]