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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, folks: Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and this is your seasonally genial host John Derbyshire with some reactionary chat.
I know, I know: you want to hear the latest news about Miss BumBum. All in good time, gentle listeners, all in good time. First let us contemplate some more general social phenomena. Stupidity, for instance.
02 — I'm with Stupid. Some listeners have asked me why I didn't pass comment on the Jonathan Gruber story. That's the MIT professor of economics who was paid $400,000 in consultancy fees by the feds and several million dollars more by states to manage the opening of Obamacare exchanges.
Last month a video surfaced of Gruber in a panel discussion a year previously saying the following thing about the marketing of Obamacare:
[Clip: "If you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in … and sick people get money, it would not have passed … Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage, and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."]
I didn't comment on that because I didn't think it was much of a story. An elite academic thinks the rest of us are stupid — how is that news?
From a coldly objective point of view, you might argue that by comparison with an MIT professor, the great majority of us are stupid.
Stupidity is a slippery concept, though. The historian Paul Johnson wrote a very entertaining book titled Intellectuals showing how terminally stupid some of the great eggheads of the 19th and 20th centuries were, people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Noam Chomsky.
I have argued myself that there are special kinds of stupidity that intellectuals are prone to. I don't think Gruber's an exception.
Consider the first part of that clip: "If you had a law that said healthy people are going to pay in … and sick people get money, it would not have passed." Does he really think that? Every owner of an automobile understands that the auto insurance payments of good, careful, lucky drivers fund repairs and damages for bad, careless, and unlucky drivers. That's what insurance is.
Is there really anyone who doesn't know this? Does Prof. Gruber really think so?
Anyway, Gruber was up on Capitol Hill December 9th giving testimony to the House Oversight Committee. I was quietly hoping he'd clown it up. You know, jeer at the congresscritters in all their puffed-up pomposity, tell them: "Yes, I trousered millions of dollars of public money helping to launch this bureaucratic extravaganza, and I spun the whole thing to make it easier to sell to you dimwit politicians and your stupid voters. I took you all for a ride, and there isn't a darn thing you can do about it! Ha ha ha ha!" That would be worth watching.
No such luck. The guy groveled and apologized. There's just no fun in politics any more.
Congressman Tom Massie of Kentucky, a Republican, spoke the only sense in the four-hour session, quote:
My colleagues on the Democrat side of the aisle are upset with you simply because you committed candor. You said what they were all thinking.
I call that hitting the nail on the head. If only we could hit Obamacare on the head … but it's probably too late for that.
03 — The business of America is government. Forbes magazine has published its annual list of America's ten richest counties by median household income. Executive summary: Six of the ten — numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9 — are in the Washington, D.C. commuter zone, demonstrating once again that the business of America is government.
Number 3 is Los Alamos county, New Mexico, home to two huge science complexes both funded mainly by the federal government. Two others on the list, numbers 6 and 10, are in northern New Jersey, favorites with Wall Street commuters. The remaining county, number 8 on the list, is in Colorado, with commuters to both Denver and Colorado Springs.
Out of curiosity I looked up the demographics. That New Mexico county is interesting: only nine percent Hispanic, in a state that's 47 percent Hispanic. Likewise with the Colorado county: five percent Hispanic against a state average 21 percent. When are those southwestern Hispanics going to wake up and start storming into the Ivy League? They've got affirmative action going for them, after all.
Hunterdon County, New Jersey, is 91 percent white, three percent black, five percent Hispanic. The rest of the ten richest look pretty much like America. The D.C. commuter counties are just a tad whiter than the nation at large.
I'd assume, although I'm willing to be corrected, that this is a consequence of hiring by race quotas in the federal civil service.
I once sat through a lecture on civil service history. As I recall, the federal government basically ran on patronage, on who-you-know, until reforms in the 1880s by President Chester A. Arthur, whose statue in New York's Madison Park I used to walk past every day on my way to work. Those reforms established civil service examinations you had to pass to get a federal job. The examinations were abolished by Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s, since when it's been quotas all the way.
So in those six out of ten wealthiest counties, the ones around D.C., we have a healthy black middle class. I guess that's better than an unhealthy black underclass. I just wish I could believe all those federal worker bees, of all races, were doing something useful.
If you get your knowledge of the world from media propaganda, you might assume the answer would be: those hateful southern states of the old Confederacy, where you can't step out of your house at night without bumping into guys with hoods and robes on their way to a cross-burning.
Well, according to USA Today you'd be wrong. They ranked the states on the size of the black-white gap on various measures from various public sources: median household income, poverty, educational attainment, homeownership, the percentage of people without health insurance, unemployment, incarceration, age-adjusted death rate, infant mortality rate, and a couple of others.
Note they're ranking by the size of the black-white gap, how much worse off blacks are than whites in each state, washing out the differences between more- and less-developed states.
So what's the absolutely worst state for blacks? Wisconsin! Yes, those mild-mannered midwestern cheese-heads are more beastly overall to their blacks than the shack-burning night-riders of Mississippi and Alabama. Sample quotes:
Black Wisconsin residents were also nearly 10 times more likely than white residents to go to prison, nearly the largest gap. Black children in Wisconsin had worse educational outcomes than both their white classmates and their black peers in other states. Milwaukee led the nation of most racially-segregated U.S. cities.
End quote. That's some kind of anomaly, surely? Wisconsin? What's the second-worst state for black-white gaps? Gotta be somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, right?
Uh-uh. Second-worst on the list is, wait for it … Minnesota! Third: Rhode Island! Fourth: Illinois! In fact only one of the ten worst is in Dixie: Arkansas, at number ten. The full top ten, from worst-worst to less-worst, reads: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Kansas, Arkansas.
A counter-intuitive result like that naturally invites speculation, so I'll speculate.
First, remember the list is by size of black-white gaps in those various measures. A state in which blacks are not doing well, but whites are not doing well either, will have a small gap; a state in which blacks are doing somewhat better but whites are doing way better will have a big gap. So the fact that black Wisconsinites go to prison ten times more than white Wisconsinites may mean that black Wisconsinites misbehave way more than blacks elsewhere, or it may mean that white Wisconsinites are exceptionally law-abiding.
My guess is something of both. White Wisconsinites of north-European or New England stock probably are more law-abiding than whites on average. They also, with those origins, probably have more generous welfare states, drawing in low-class black moochers from elsewhere.
There's the urban-rural divide, too. Two-thirds of Wisconsin blacks live in Milwaukee. In southeastern states there are more rural and small-town blacks, with fewer opportunities for getting into gangs and other kinds of trouble, better health outcomes, and so on.
Still, this study is a nice poke in the eye for northern hypocrites. Rhode Island! You guys need to try harder up there …
05 — Narrative Apocalypse The University of Virginia rape hoax suffered total Narrative Collapse this week. The collapse has in fact been so total, one blogger has suggested that "Narrative Apocalypse" is a more suitable descriptor.
This plays back into my earlier theme about the stupidity of intellectuals. This stupidity is especially apparent when a person has surrendered his mind to some enstupidating ideology like feminism.
As I said in last week's podcast, the story was so obviously bogus, it's astonishing anyone was taken in by it. Everybody who's anybody in bigfoot social commentary was taken in, though: not just the editors of Rolling Stone but deep-browed journalists at prestigious outlets like the New York Times and Salon.com.
Salaried writers at elite publications swallowed that absurd story whole, while unpaid bloggers mocked its obvious bogosity. It's a topsy-turvy world we live in.
But perhaps it always has been. Lord Melbourne said of the Reform Act that, quote: "What all the wise men promised has not happened; and what all the damn fools said would happen has come to pass," end quote. That was two hundred years ago.
There's some kind of eternal truth lurking there. In the UVA rape hoax, what all the wise men swallowed uncritically turned out to be bogus; and what all the damn fools said about it turned out to be true.
06 — Immigration unkillables (cont.) In our November 15th broadcast I offered a list of immigration unkillables: myths and falsehoods about immigration that just won't lie down and die, no matter how many times they are refuted.
Here's another one: the shortage of tech workers, otherwise known as STEM workers, S-T-E-M, for science, technology, engineering, and math. Boosters for legal immigration love this one. "Yes," they say, "it's awful that we have all these illegal lettuce-pickers here; but you know, we really do need more software engineers!" Remember poor clueless Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in 2012, swearing that he'd stamp a green card to the graduation diploma of foreign STEM students?
And President Obama's executive order on amnesty has a sidebar clause that will make it easier for U.S. corporations to hire foreign college graduates, inspired by this same myth about a shortage of tech workers.
Myth? Heck, I'm just going to call it a lie, because that's what it is: a dishonest ploy by the cheap-labor business lobbies to hold down middle-class American wages.
As evidence of the dishonesty, here comes another refutation of this particular immigration lie. This comes from Bloomberg Businessweek, November 24th, headline: The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist, by Josh Eidelson. Sample quote:
"There's no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there's a shortage in the conventional sense," says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. "They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I'm not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV."
Nicely said, Prof. It's really basic economics, the law of supply and demand. A shortage of something is signaled by the price going up. The price of software engineers, i.e. their wages, has been flatlining for 15 years. Further quote from Businessweek:
Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute [that] real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs.
Prof. Salzman offered an example of an actual worker shortage: petroleum engineers. The oil business is booming, as you may have heard, and the supply of workers at first failed to keep up with the demand. The oil companies jacked up salaries, more people started becoming petroleum engineers, and the shortage has been solved.
I guess that logic is too complex for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama — people who put themselves forward to lead our nation.
07 — Evil and sentimental. Dostoyevsky describes one of his characters as "evil and sentimental." I like that. I wouldn't go so far as to say that sentimentality is always evil. It's always to some degree disgusting, though, and it tends to travel with evil.
The definition of sentimentality is: bestowing more emotion on an event than it justifies. If I see a dead sparrow lying in the road, I feel a tiny passing frisson of sadness and pity, then continue on my way to the cigar store. If I were to fall to my knees and weep and offer lamentations over the avian cadaver, that would be sentimental. That much emotion isn't justified. If I give that much of my feelings to the bird, what have I got left for real tragedies, with which human life is all too plentifully supplied?
On those standards, the political Left is deeply sentimental, especially the younger generation of lefties. That, at any rate, was my thought on reading this December 8th New York Times story. Headline: Columbia Lets Law Students Delay Exams After Garner and Brown Decisions. Lead paragraph, quote:
Columbia Law School is allowing students to postpone their final exams this month if they feel unnerved by the recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.
End quote. The unarmed black men there are of course Michael Brown, shot by a cop he was attacking in Ferguson, Missouri last August, and Eric Garner, who died while resisting arrest in New York City in July. If the New York Times is going to attach the epithet "unarmed" to every mention of them, it seems to me only fair to counter-attach the fact that they were very large, threatening adult males, much larger in both cases than the police officers whose instructions they were defying. Michael Brown was 6ft 4in and 292 lbs; Eric Garner was 6ft 3in and 350 lbs.
In both cases grand juries, after examining all evidence and listening to all witnesses, concluded that there were no grounds on which to prosecute the police officers in either case.
That's what's caused the delicate little flowers of Columbia Law School to wilt and shed their petals. The dean of the school, addressing the weeping, fainting student body in a public email, cited the school's standard policies for, quote, "trauma during exam period" as justification for the postponements. These students have apparently been traumatized by those grand jury decisions — exactly the kinds of decisions that working lawyers deal with every day. As defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman said when the Times reporter asked him for an opinion, quote:
If law students cannot function with difficult issues like these, maybe they should not try and become lawyers.
It's not just the students who have taken to the chaise longues with smelling salts and hankies. College faculty and administrations are emoting right along with them.
On December 8th Dean Martha Minow of Harvard Law School sent an open letter to, quote, "the Harvard Law School Community." I assume the word "community" there signals that Dean Minow is addressing everyone except white heterosexual males who can distinguish between a genuine emotion and a manufactured one. Dean Minow's letter includes the following, quote:
I have been profoundly moved and distressed by these tragic events as I know many students, staff and faculty have been too.
End quote. "Publick affairs vex no man," said Doctor Johnson. If the great moralist was right, and he usually was, I have to conclude that our Ivy League law schools are not places where men are welcome.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: A follow-up to last week's broadcast where I observed that the feminist defining-down of rape has gone furthest in Sweden, where spilling coffee on a girl's dress will get you arrested for rape.
A reader has chid me for missing an important thing about rape in Sweden. I'll just quote from his email, quote:
Derb: In your latest podcast you laughed at Sweden's crackpot rape laws. But there is a greater picture issue missing here — those laws likely won't be applied to the most prolific rapists in Scandinavia, the Moslem immigrant community. The chatter about this outrage is all over the Net, yet apparently the Press and governments of the Scandinavian nations do their best to keep their own people in the dark. Where's the outcry when you need it?
End quote. That's quite right, and I was remiss in not mentioning it. Victimological hysteria operates according to a definite calculus, with race as a key variable. Not just race, in fact: the UVA hoaxer made a point of telling Rolling Stone her rapists were blonde. Heterosexual white men are ungood, you see, but blonde heterosexual white men are doubleplus ungood.
It seems to me that if you could get the precise relative rankings of victims and oppressors worked out, you could write a computer program to generate these Narrative-confirming stories.
Hey, maybe someone has …
Item: You may have been seeing the word "CRomnibus" in the political news this week. The story here is that we're at the very end of the 113th Congress and the critters haven't yet done the main thing Congress was designed to do: approve spending by the federal government. If they don't do it, the feds can't spend and the government shuts down, which would be a truly terrible thing … wouldn't it? Of course it would.
The normal way this works is by passing bills to fund particular functions through to the end of the fiscal year next September 30th, usually wrapped up in one humongous batch of bills called an omnibus bill. Failing that, Congress just passes a Continuing Resolution to keep funding going at more or less the current level for a month or two.
Well, the Republican House was OK with an omnibus bill for most government functions through September but only wanted to fund the Department of Homeland Security thru February with a Continuing Resolution because GOP voters are so angry about Obama's amnesty for illegal aliens.
This was pure gesture politics. The omnibus bill gives the administration plenty of funding for amnesty, resettlement, and welfare goodies for illegals. An amendment to explicitly not fund the amnesty was blocked by the House Rules Committee Wednesday. Thursday night the House approved the whole damn thing — 1,700 pages, which our representatives had had all of 36 hours to read.
Democracy at work.
Item: All right: You've been sitting through this whole podcast waiting for news of Miss BumBum: Here it is.
The callipygous Senhorita Indianara Carvalho, winner of the 2014 Miss BumBum title in Brazil, as reported by Radio Derb three weeks ago, this week announced to the world that she has undergone surgery to restore her virginity. She hopes to use her new status to find true love.
Senhorita Carvalho expressed the further hope that by surgically reverting to her previous condition she will, quote, "restore some respect" to the Miss BumBum title.
Far be it from me to rain on the lady's parade, but I fear both those hopes may be vain.
09 — Signoff. And there you have it, ladies and gents: another week gone into the woodchipper. I hope you've all been busy decking the halls with boughs of holly. Radio Derb will broadcast over the coming holidays, though probably not with tidings of comfort and joy …
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]