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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Thank you, Franz Joseph. Here we are with the first broadcast of the new year from Radio Derb. Those mellow tones were one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your irrepressibly genial host John Derbyshire with all the news you need to know.
On with the motley!
02 — The horrors to come. Boy, things are bad, and they're going to get worse. Then, they're going to get worse still.
Here are two researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writing in the Washington Post. Peering into the future, these scholars see enough gloom and doom to make Radio Derb sound like a motivational seminar.
They tell us that the odds of a nuclear or biological terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the year 2014 are better than 50-50. The 2010s look like a pretty miserable decade altogether, with this economic depression dragging its length along, and all sorts of wacky nations getting nukes, and peak oil, and peak food, and misfortunes we haven't even thought of yet.
The 2020s are going to be worse, though, because of the demographic bust all over the First World. Quote from these two strategists:
Many countries will experience fiscal crisis, economic stagnation and ugly political battles over entitlements and immigration.
Wow. [Clip: "Bad times just around the corner"] I've always suspected I was born into a golden age of tranquillity and prosperity. This just confirms it.
The sixties were innocent fun; the seventies were a sort of slightly less fun ironic replay of the sixties; the eighties were awash with money and conservative revival — Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan; the nineties were a political downer, with freaky leftists like Janet Reno running wild, but the dot-com boom and the fall of the Soviet Union made up for that.
The two thousands have been a kind of overshoot of the nineties, like when the party's gone on too long and the ones who haven't left are passed out drunk in the bathroom, or pawing other guy's wives in dark corners, or standing round in the kitchen trading stock tips and trying to find bottles that still have some wine in them. I think we all knew it couldn't last; and sure enough, it didn't.
From now on it'll be rogue nukes, strange new plagues, resource exhaustion, environmental collapse, and sputtering economies. Get yourself a fallout shelter. Buy gold, and ammunition.
03 — Stimulus (1): Whence? Well, we've heard from our President-elect, and guess what — he's a big spender. Who woulda thunk it?
In fact, Obama's a colossal spender. He's talking about $800 billion of new spending over two years, and tax cuts to go with. In broad outlines, the Obama theory is: If one trillion of deficit spending doesn't get the economy going, try two.
OK, I have a couple of questions about this spend-a-thon. Question One — Where's the money coming from? Question Two — Where's it going to? — I mean, what, exactly, will it all be spent on?
The answer to the first question is, we'll borrow it. What other way is there to get money? The Treasury will hold bond auctions, selling off U.S. government IOUs to people — mostly foreigners, and especially Chinese — who believe we'll make good.
Two teeny problems with that. First, what if we hold a bond auction and nobody shows up? Don't laugh, this actually happened to the Germans the other day. There is such a thing as a situation in which more countries are trying to borrow money, than are willing to lend it.
Second, IOUs come due. As a wise man once said, banking is not about lending money, it's about getting paid back. International bankers take the same view.
So the actual answer to my Question One — Where's the money coming from? — is: We're hoping to borrow it. If we can't borrow it, we'll have to print it.
Those are the actual choices. There aren't any others. And it's not us doing the choosing, it's foreigners, deciding they want to take our IOUs … or not.
04 — Stimulus (2): Whither? So much for the whence. What about the whither?
Having figured out where all that money is coming from — answer: from the printing presses in the U.S. Treasury basement, mostly — let's tackle my Question Two: Where will it go to?
Remember, the objective here is to kick-start the economy, so we can all get busy borrowing and spending again like happy post-industrial lotus eaters. And the Obama theory is, that if some given quantity of government spending, currently $1.2 trillion, doesn't do the trick, you double up.
But what do you spend all that money on? What do you do with it?
Here's what the President-elect actually said to that point, quote:
[D]oubling the production of alternative energy over three years, updating most federal buildings to improve energy efficiency, making medical records electronic, expanding broadband networks and updating schools and universities.
So it's wind farms, coily fluorescent light bulbs in the federal Department of Administrative Affairs, and yet more money shoveled into teacher union funds and college Departments of Queer Studies.
You speed up those printing presses to make a trillion crisp new greenbacks, then you hand them over to Ward Churchill. Brilliant.
For crying out loud, if the 20th century taught us anything, didn't it teach us that governments don't know how to spend money? If you give the swine money, or let them print it, they'll hand it off to public-sector unions to buy block votes, or they'll start a war, or they'll flush it down the crapper in some misguided Groundnut Scheme. Don't we ever learn? [Tearing sound.] That's the sound of Derb tearing his hair.
Oh yeah, there will also be some jiggling with the tax code. Having taken those great wads of wealth away from us and our children via inflation, taxation, and national debt, Daddy Fedbucks will give a dribble of it back to us in tax cuts and credits, assuming Congressional Democrats will let him.
That's it. That's our new President's grand plan.
Having scrutinized the whole thing, I have a question for Obama and his advisers. Here's my question: Why not go the whole hog and put Bernie Madoff in charge of the plan? He's pretty good at this sort of thing.
05 — Jobs for whom? All that government make-work, while it adds nothing to the productive economy and beggars our children, will at least give people jobs, though, won't it?
It sure will — three million jobs, the President-elect tells us.
Well, we'll need 'em. We lost 700,000 jobs just in December. That's after 550,000 in November. On the year, we're down 2.5 million jobs. So three million new jobs, even if only putting low-energy bulbs into federal light sockets, will sure be welcome to the people who'll get them. Given the choice between being unemployed and having a pointless, dollar-devaluing make-work government job, I'd take the latter. In fact, if the federal Department of Sour Bloviating has any openings, tell me where to apply.
In a crisis like this, though, is it obscenely, unspeakably racist, nativist, and xenophobic of me to note that we have somewhere between twelve and twenty million illegal aliens living in our country in defiance of the people's laws? If we were to round them up and send them all home to their countries of origin, that'd free up a lot more than three million jobs, wouldn't it?
Why should our citizens, our own people, be suffering unemployment while foreign trespassers prosper here? Can we at least put the fear of God into U.S. employers, so they know that if they hire an illegal alien over a U.S. citizen, they'll face the full force of the law? Is that too much to ask in this economic crisis?
Yes, I guess it probably is. It'll be little short of a miracle, in fact, if we can stop those government-funded make-work jobs going to illegals. After all, illegals are generally moved to the head of the line in front of citizens for other state benefits.
Check out this story from Associated Press, January First, quote:
Untold thousands of illegal immigrants live in public housing at a time when hundreds of thousands of citizens and legal residents are stuck waiting years for a spot.
One of those illegals in public housing is an aunt of the President-elect. And as of January 20th, federal concern for jobs will meet federal concern for immigration in the person of Hilda Solis, Obama's Secretary of Labor designate, a lifetime activist on behalf of full citizen rights for illegal immigrants.
What's the matter, listener? You thought your U.S. citizenship was worth a damn? You thought your parents or grandparents endured the Great Depression and World War Two so that you could have some kind of security in your country, under a government that put its own citizens first? [Laugh.]
Well, guess what, pal. On your way to the unemployment office, you'll be driving past that "day laborer hiring compound" your township set up, using your property taxes of course, so that local firms that want to hire illegal labor can do so conveniently.
Wave to the "day laborers" as you go past, sucker. They'll give you a nice cheery wave back, knowing as they do that they are the people who count. You don't count. You're just a citizen.
06 — California educates the world. Not only will illegal immigrants be doing just fine for jobs while you're heading into bankruptcy court, they'll be doing just fine for college education, too, at least in California.
California, I should say, is in an even worse fiscal hole than the U.S.A., and doesn't have that ability to just print extra money. In three weeks California will run out of money altogether, unless the citizens of states that managed their affairs more responsibly decide to cough up their own taxpayers' funds to help the struggling Californians.
By June of 2010, California will have a budget deficit north of $40 billion. Governor Schwarzenegger is talking about lopping five days off the school year to save money. He's even talking about [scream] laying off state employees.
One thing he's not talking about is curtailing the expensive favors handed out to illegal immigrants. California is one of those states, like Texas and New York, that gives in-state tuition rates to illegals at state colleges. So a U.S. citizen from out of state pays three times as much to attend college in California as an illegal from, well, out of country.
Now there's a legal challenge to this insanity. A lawsuit was filed in 2005 by out-of-state students and their parents. They are challenging the 2001 state law that allows illegals to pay reduced fees, arguing that the state law violates federal law. The California Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
Reading these stories, you wonder if our country has gone collectively insane. American jobs are melting away like dew in the morn, state governments are looking at forty billion dollar deficits, and we're even arguing about the level of public benefits that should be given to alien trespassers?
Let's get these people out of our country. Let their own countries look after them, while we look after our people.
07 — China crack-down. I mentioned the tricky issue of whether China will be willing to go on buying our IOUs. It's a very open question.
The ChiComs are showing signs of being seriously worried about the state of their own economy, as exports to the cash-strapped U.S.A. and elsewhere slow down.
Here is China's top economic planner, a fellow named Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, speaking last month, quote:
The impact of the global crisis on China's economy is deepening. Excessive bankruptcies and production cuts will lead to massive unemployment and stir social unrest.
The ChiCom leaders are listening. Urban unemployment in the People's Republic is around twelve percent and rising, and there is very little of a social welfare safety net in China.
The ChiComs have their own reflex action in a situation like this. They crack down with army and police power against any citizens who protest. They're especially keen to do this right now, because (a) the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests is coming up, and (b) the fiftieth anniversary of the annexation of Tibet is coming up, and (c) last year saw the publication of Charter 08, a document signed by thousands of academics, activists, businessmen, and ordinary people, calling for open politics and civic freedoms.
Just this week a veteran democracy activist in China has been sentenced to six years in jail for helping set up an opposition party. The activist is Wang Rongqing, 65 years old and in poor health, a brave veteran of the democracy movement. The charge was, quote, "subversion against state power" — a serious offense in the People's Republic, as no doubt it soon will be in the U.S.A.
Wang was a leader of the local branch of the Chinese Democracy Party in his province. The prosecutors said that he, quote, "participated in an active way, organizing and developing the party, even after the Ministry of Public Safety had branded it an enemy organization," end quote. Even after!
Other crimes listed in Wang's sentence are that, before the Olympics in Peking, Wang helped organize the first national meeting of the Chinese Democracy Party and published many articles on the internet, and wrote a book entitled The opposition party.
What a ruthless terrorist this man obviously is! He organized a meeting! He published articles on the web! He wrote a book! As a Chinese friend of mine likes to say: "Such a big party, with so much power in their hands, yet they're afraid of a little criticism."
Those items on Wang's charge sheet are serious crimes in the nation that makes all those toys, tools, and clothes in your house, and whose purchases of our Treasury securities allows our government to continue its reckless spending.
To go back to the question of whether the ChiComs will go on buying our IOUs as they have been, probably they won't. To keep their people quiet they'll want carrots and sticks. Six-year sentences on harmless reformers, that's the stick. The carrots will be cart-loads of state cash for troublesome regions and key enterprises, leaving less to spend on those devaluing Treasury bills.
No, the ChiComs aren't going to bail us out of this one. They'll be too busy holding on to power. This time, we'll have no choice but just to print that money, Zimbabwe-style.
Hey, printing money fixed Zimbabwe's problems pretty well, didn't it?
08 — Roland Burris to take Obama's senate seat. Well, I'm sure glad that all the TV talking heads can now pronounce "Blagojevich" without having to take two runs at it. What's the latest news from the blagosphere?
Well, a committee in the Illinois state legislature has recommended the governor be impeached, and the Illinois lower house will likely vote impeachment today, Friday. Meanwhile Roland Burris, Blago's appointment to fill Barack Obama's senate seat, looks likely to be seated after all.
I'm totally on board with this. For one thing, the conviction and dismissal of Blago is by no means a forgone conclusion. An impeachment is just an indictment. If he's found not guilty, he'll still be governor, so then what will be the grounds for having objected to Burris?
In the second place, Burris is not crazy or criminal in any obvious way. If the U.S. Senate can accommodate a sniveling, senile old fool like Robert Byrd, and a crook like Ted Stevens, and a low-IQ time-server like Harry Reid, and an arrogant nation-wrecker like Ted Kennedy, this mild-mannered bureaucrat, who probably never had an idea in his life, should certainly be accommodated.
An institution like the U.S. Senate, dominated by crooks, liars, dimwits, and geriatric basket cases, whose members' average age easily exceeds their average IQ, really shouldn't be so picky.
As for the race angle here, I think Pat Buchanan made the best point. If these Democratic senators are so keen on affirmative action, why don't some of them step down so that their state governors can appoint minority replacements? That's basically what affirmative action tells non-minority Americans to do when applying for jobs or college places. So why don't the senators give us an example here?
09 — Miscellany. Here is Radio Derb's traditional miscellany of short items to finish up.
Item: I'm sure you've heard the word "biofuel." Well, here's a biofuel story.
Continental Airlines has run a Boeing 737 for ninety minutes on algae. That's the scum you get on the surface of standing water.
Yes, folks, pretty soon you'll be flying in planes powered by scum. There's a joke in there somewhere relating to the U.S. Senate … but let's pass right on, shall we?
Item: Number of cars torched in France on New Years Eve: 1,147.
This refers to that quaint old French custom in which "youths" come out onto the streets at New Years and set fire to any cars they find. The custom is believed to have started in the time of Charlemagne, when boisterous apprentices in Paris burned the emperor's carriage to protest the raising of the minimum legal age for pillage and plunder to thirteen.
This year's number is an increase of 31 percent from last year's. Zut alors! Obviously these French "youths" are getting more and more in touch with their nation's fine old traditions. Vive la France! [Marseillaise clip.]
Item: In the other half of Charlemagne's dominions, in Germany, two children — aged five and six — tried to elope to Africa. The two infants are very much in love, and decided to go jump the broomstick in Africa because, quote, "it's warm."
Fortunately they were stopped by police at Hanover railway station. Or perhaps not so fortunately: If these tots had pulled off the Africa trip, they might have ended up being adopted by Angelina Jolie or Madonna.
Item: Leon Panetta is to be the new chief of the CIA.
In related news, Bernie Madoff has been appointed CEO of Goldman Sachs, Vladimir Putin is to be the new Secretary General of NATO, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been elected Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Item: You probably missed this, as I did, but as of November last, Miscrosoft Windows has been around for a quarter of a century.
Why wasn't there a big promotional fanfare about this from Microsoft? Er, because they don't want you reminded how decrepit their operating system is, or how poorly the latest version of it has been received.
At least, that's my guess. I tried to get on the internet to check my facts here, but when I opened Internet Explorer I got a box saying "This program is not responding …"
Item: I refer you to the November 21 broadcast of Radio Derb — now available for reading via the magic of the internet in the transcripts I've archived on JohnDerbyshire.com.
Well, in that November 21 broadcast I had an item headed "It ain't over till the Left wins," noting what hopeless bumbling losers we on the Right are. Quote from myself:
Over to Minnesota, where Al Franken is challenging every jot and tittle of the ballot that put Norm Coleman ahead of him in votes. No chad will be left unturned, you may be sure, till the Left has won that one, too.
Hey: Score one for the infallibility of Radio Derb: Franken will take his seat.
As Stalin said: It's not who votes for whom that matters, it's who gets to count the votes.
Item: Bill Richardson withdrew his acceptance of the Commerce Secretary job in Obama's cabinet because of a state ethics investigation he may or may not get caught up in.
That's decent of him. It's upset the National Council of The Race, however. Richardson's Hispanic on his mother's side, and The Race now considers the Commerce Secretary slot to be a Hispanic sinecure till the end of time on the Brezhnev Principal: What we have, we hold.
Quote from the president and CEO of The Race:
We are hugely disappointed. It's a stunned community out there. He is a very well-recognized leader not just in the Latino community but in this country.
Hard to know which country these activists mean when they say "this country," but let's assume for the sake of argument it's the U.S.A. There you are then, Mr President-elect: you'd better get a Latino in that slot ASAP — or, as they say over at The Race, muy rápidamente.
You wouldn't want your post-racial administration to come up short on Latinos, would you?
Item: Just a few really short and inconsequential items.
Over in the Middle East, some people killed some people, and then some people from the first bunch got killed back by some people from the second bunch. Lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, then the United Nations told everyone to cut it out or they'd hold their breaths till they turned blue.
In Nigeria a new law requires motorcyclists to wear crash helmets. Nigerian motorcyclists have responded by wearing dried pumpkin shells on their heads.
I'm not sure if this is a protest, or just stupidity, but as a confirmed Darwinian, I'm confident that natural selection will take care of the problem long-term.
A panda named Gu Gu at Peking zoo zoo — sorry, that should be "Peking zoo" — no, sorry, that should be Beijing zoo zoo — oh the hell with it: a panda has bitten a tourist, his third in two years.
The panda has been arrested and charged with subverting the cuddly-panda mythos.
A New York doctor who donated a kidney to his wife wants the kidney back in their divorce settlement; our galaxy has turned out to be bigger than astronomers thought; and the Prime Minister of Romania fell off a stage.
10 — Signoff. That's the news this first week of 2009, listeners.
It's pretty bad, but no doubt this time next year we'll look back at it all and laugh, while sipping our eight-thousand-dollar cup of coffee and tucking in to our fifteen-thousand-dollar slice of cheesecake before heading down to the unemployment office to collect our check from that friendly Mexican clerk.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]