The Problem With Islam

Skating Under The Ice

I’ll say something that is not politically correct in the slightest, something that a number of people may disagree with, and then I’ll take a bit of time to explain why I think it is true. Let me invite you to set aside all of your current conceptions about Islam for a few moments—you can easily take your previous ideas up again afterwards if I’m wrong. If you are willing to give my claims and concepts a fair trial and to read to the very end, important footnotes and all, you may agree with me when I say that the problem with Islam is not Muslim “extremists”, nor is it “radical” Muslims. In fact, the problem with Islam is not Muslims of any kind. It is far deeper than that.

The problem is that Islam is not just a religion. Islam is also a terrorist ideology.

Let me be clear from the outset that none of…

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The Forever Wars

Skating Under The Ice

In furtherance of the discussion begun in my previous post, The Problem With Islam, I wanted to take a look at the two Islamic forever wars. If you haven’t read that post please do so, as it forms a necessary prelude to these war stories.

While many people are aware that Mohammed was the Prophet of Allah and the founder of Islam, fewer people know that he has another curious claim to fame.

He was pivotal in starting the two longest-running wars in history, wars that began in the 7th Century and have continued right up until today. One is the forever war of Islam against Jews, Christians, “pagans”, and the world in general; and the other is the forever war of the Sunnis and Shiites. The war against Jews and Christians started during Mohammed’s lifetime. The Sunni-Shiite war started after he died, but before he was buried … and under Islamic law, burial has to…

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It’s Not About Me

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

One response to Christopher Booker graciously mentioning my work in the Telegraph is the predictable increase in the usual personal attacks on me, as opposed to attacking my ideas and claims. People are rehashing Tim Lambert calling me a liar because he disagreed with my methods, as though that meant something about me rather than simply revealing something about Tim. They point out that I am an amateur scientist (as though that were other than a badge of honor). I’m told that I’m out of my depth. I am constantly assured that I am not qualified to offer a scientific opinion on climate, because of my lack of academic qualifications (BA in Psychology), and because of the shortness of my scientific publications list. The supply of reasons given to try to convince people to ignore my work is seemingly endless. To hear people tell it…

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Black History On The Ranch

Skating Under The Ice

I grew up basically in the 19th century, on a 280 acre (110 hectare) cattle ranch surrounded by miles of virgin forest full of wildlife, bear, mountain lions. No phone. No electricity, we made our own. It was called the “Rough Diamond Ranch”. We had our own cattle brand. And after my dad wasn’t around, on the ranch were my grandmother and grandfather, my mom, my aunt, my three brothers, and my three cousins. Another place, another time.

The nearest town was five miles of bad dirt road downhill. It consisted of a single weathered combination store/bar/post office/gas station. The grade school was in town. It served all the children from the other ranches for miles around. It was tiny, even though it was for first through eighth grade and served a large area. One year there was a total of twenty-one kids in the school, and seven of them were my family from the ranch.

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Here’s How America’s First Outsider President Set A Precedent For Inaugurations

PA Pundits - International

stepman_jarret_tds-200x200By Jarrett Stepman ~

The Washington establishment was stunned.

A political outsider with few connections in the nation’s capital, but wide national celebrity among the American people, was going to be the next president of the United States.

Andrew Jackson's inauguration became famous for the wild crowd it attracted. It set a precedent for how Americans welcomed their new leaders. (Photo: Picture History/Newscom)Andrew Jackson’s inauguration became famous for the wild crowd it attracted. It set a precedent for how Americans welcomed their new leaders. (Photo: Picture History/Newscom)

Washington, D.C., residents were unprepared for the wild scene that was about to unfold when the new president’s advocates—and a few detractors—poured into the city. Some compared this enormous mass of people to an invading barbarian horde pillaging Rome.

This scene may sound familiar in 2017, but it describes Andrew Jackson’s inaugural celebration in 1829. At the time, such large-scale fanfare at an inauguration was unprecedented.

Trump Inauguration Protesters Dishonor Long-Held Principle

Yet despite the circus atmosphere that Jackson’s inaugural became famous for, he delivered a powerful…

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True Wealth (h/t to Willis)

True Wealth by Willis Eschenbach

Here’s the Amazon review of “How Rich Countries Got Rich … And Why Poor Countries Stay Poor” by Erik Reinert to which Willis refers:

5.0 out of 5 stars To Become a Rich Country: Industrialization Policy First, Free Trade Second, November 12, 2007
This review is from: How Rich Countries Got Rich … and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor (Hardcover)
Erik Reinert masterfully uses experienced-based economics to demonstrate how rich countries got rich. Economic growth and welfare in rich countries originated not in unrestrained international free trade, but in conscious and deliberate industrialization policy that progressively shaped a particular form of economic structure (pp. xx, xxiv, 9-10, 47-48, 65, 79-83, 88, 98-100, 115-20, 177, 198, 246-49, 288-89).

Reinert’s greatest merit is to clearly show how economic development really works (pp. 39, 52, 305-08):

1) A country first industrializes behind a wall of tariffs, direct subsidies, and/or patents and is then slowly and systematically integrated economically with nations at the same level of development (pp. 17, 22-24, 56, 84, 88, 134, 171, 210, 235, 268-69, 273). The United States followed the example of England to industrialize behind a protectionist wall for about 150 years based on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (pp. 23-25, 31, 58, 212). The Marshall Plan to reindustrialize Europe after WWII was built on the same logic (pp. 63, 89-90, 179-81, 241, 265-66).

Countries already wealthy need very different economic policies from those of countries still poor (p. 81). An aspiring poor country needs to tax “bad” trade, i.e., exports of raw materials (read agricultural or mining products) and imports of industrial products (pp. 17, 21, 62, 78). Perfect or commodity competition is for the poor, resulting in price-driven diminishing returns, no industrialization, and immigration to the rich world (pp. 8, 18, 62, 71, 133, 149-201, 245, 280-81). Unlike development economics, palliative economics do not radically change the productive structures of poor countries but instead focus on easing the pains of economic misery (pp. 63, 179, 211, 239-70, 282, 296-97).

Paradoxically, being poor in natural resources is one of the keys to becoming rich (pp. 7, 77). A poor country has to encourage “good” trade, i.e., imports of raw products and exports of industrial products. The existence of an (inefficient) manufacturing sector establishes a national wage level which prevents countries from moving too far into diminishing returns (pp. 109, 124, 183, 251, 265, 295). Reinert observes that “good” trade also results from the export of industrial goods in exchange for other industrial goods (p. 89).

That initial protection is essential to achieve increasing returns and to access new technologies (p. 67). Once these goals are achieved, further protectionism is counterproductive. Reinert contrasts the “good” protectionism of East Asia with the “bad” protectionism of Latin America (pp. 224, 285, 311-12). Solidly industrialized countries require bigger and more international markets to further develop and prosper (p. 81).

The timing of the opening up of an economy to international competition is therefore critical. Opening up too late undermines growth (p. 205). In contrast, opening up prematurely will result in deindustrialization, falling wages, and increasing social problems (p. 252). Mongolia and Peru are two examples that come to mind (pp. 110, 164, 173-79, 251-52). That insight about the timing of free trade is absent in the Washington Consensus as applied to most of the developing world (pp. 19, 55, 68-69, 81, 84, 107, 204, 216-37, 244, 278, 295).

2) The preconditions for wealth, democracy, and political freedom are diversified manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services subject to increasing returns (pp. 268-69). In some economic activities (read manufacturing and advanced services), costs fall as the volume of production increases (pp. 36, 38, 108-09).

David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage in international trade relies on a number of simplistic, abstract assumptions that too often lock poor countries into specializing in being poor (pp. 15, 23, 42, 59, 75, 106, 277, 301-04, 309-10). One of the key assumptions is that there are no qualitative differences between economic activities. If left alone, the market will even out the differences between say, Microsoft in the U.S. and goat-herders in Mongolia (p. 177). Ricardo’s theory is also built on the rigid assumption that there can be no change in specialization, which unsurprisingly results in factor-price polarization (pp. 19, 117, 213-14).

3) Economic wealth results from synergies, i.e., people of many different trades and professions sharing a community (pp. 73, 93-95, 102, 136, 268-69, 275). The diversity of economic activities based on the extent of division of labor makes it possible for new knowledge to be transferred from one sector to the other (pp. 94-95, 256-63, 276). Ricardo’s theory completely ignores synergies (p. 214).

Reinert clearly explains to his audience that this path for a country to join the club of rich countries is much more difficult today than in the past for the following reasons (pp. 290, 292-93):

1) Information Technology: Unlike process innovations, product innovation tends to create imperfect competition and higher wages. For example, at Google, search technology as a product innovation results in high wages and high profits. When the same technology is employed in say, the hotel and airline industries, the results are falling margins for the travel industry and lower wages for many persons employed in that sector of activity (pp. 188, 229).

2) Intellectual Property: The increasing percentage of copyrighted, trademarked, and patented products widens the gap between rich and poor countries (pp. 111-14). For example, the pharmaceutical industry based in rich countries works hard to legally protect the output of its substantial investment in research and development.

3) Workers Distribution: There is a transition from single-plant economies of scale towards multi-location economies of scope. For example, the integrated American automakers are evolving toward modular architectures for their mainstream models to compete on speed and flexibility.

4) Workforce Mix: Manufacturing increasingly gets automated while services occupy an increasing percentage of the total workforce.

5) Workers Substitution: Service workers are often more easily substituted than specialized industrial workers, resulting in diminished workers’ bargaining power.

6) Employers Fragmentation: Decentralized franchising instead of centralized ownership also reduces workers’ power at the negotiation table.

To summarize, Reinert recommends that poor countries study the policies of those who created American and European prosperity, and ignore the advice of their forgetful successors (pp. xxix, 13). “Do not do as the Americans tell you to do, do as the Americans did,” concludes Reinert (pp. 23, 168).

Our Ignorance is Breathtaking – We Should be Humble

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

We humans consistently miss the big picture. The world is improving dramatically, but our brains are addicted to worry and fear.

Last week’s edition of Nature includes a highly readable article about Swedish global health professor, Hans Rosling. He makes fantastic videos that help us see the world more clearly. (I’ve written about some of them here and here.)

Embedded in that Nature article is a remarkable TED talk, filmed in Berlin two years ago. The first 10 minutes are eye-popping.

Using multiple choice questions, Rosling demonstrates that most of us are wildly misinformed about big picture trends. Since each multiple choice question has three possible answers, a chimp choosing at random would get the correct answer 33% of the time. But humans routinely score worse than the chimp.

Rosling begins by talking about those who perish due to natural disasters. Over the past century, he asks, has the…

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The President of What?

Skating Under The Ice

The newly-elected Negotiator-In-Chief, Donald Trump, is likely to name Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, as the Secretary of State. True to long-standing tradition, his own tradition that is, Trump tweeted this evening that he’ll release the name of the nominee … tomorrow morning. Man knows how to use Twitter to build suspense … plus he loves using Twitter to beat the media to the news. Given how they’ve treated him, I can understand that.

Apparently, the choice of Tillerson  is making some people’s heads explode. They complain that Tllerson has no government or diplomatic experience of any kind. They say that we need a diplomat or a politician for Secretary of State, someone with some experience in the field.

Me, I think it is a brilliant choice. I see it differently because I’m a businessman, and because I’ve worked in the oil industry, in distribution. The thing people don’t understand about…

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