Hard to remember last seeing so much geopolitical insight being packed into a single, simple sentence:
The CIA is institutionally quite close with the Saudis right now, and has been in charge of their covert war against Assad.
Political economy as it ought to be done:
When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve’s attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain’s gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates. The “Fed” succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world, in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market, triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed. Great Britain fared even worse, and rather than absorb the full consequences of her previous folly, she abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
With a logic reminiscent of a generation earlier, statists argued that the gold standard was largely to blame for the credit debacle which led to the Great Depression. If the gold standard had not existed, they argued, Britain’s abandonment of gold payments in 1931 would not have caused the failure of banks all over the world. (The irony was that since 1913, we had been, not on a gold standard, but on what may be termed “a mixed gold standard”; yet it is gold that took the blame.) But the opposition to the gold standard in any form — from a growing number of welfare-state advocates — was prompted by a much subtler insight: the realization that the gold standard is incompatible with chronic deficit spending (the hallmark of the welfare state). Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.
The Great Depression myth is among the most disastrous ideological catastrophes in history.
The article (all good) is by a young Alan Greenspan, which is a cautionary lesson in personal degeneration.
Their delight at the decision burns:
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year.
Divided States of America is worth everything.
One of the reasons many people are sceptical about democracy is because they’re right to be. There is a fair amount of research suggesting that people power is not necessarily the best system of government. For example, one paper suggests that ‘hereditary monarchs with lots of legal power choose better policy than other systems do, including democracies, non-hereditary dictators, and weak hereditary monarchs, and this is reflected in higher growth.’ On top of this there is evidence that democracy does not help economic growth. Most important is the finding ‘that institutions and the rule of law matter but democracy doesn’t,’ a conclusion found in numerous papers. […] People tend to credit democracy with lots of good things that preceded it, such as the rule of law, political stability and economic freedom. These are all prerequisites for universal suffrage, rather than products of it; indeed when these things are not present the introduction of a ballot box tends to be tragic.
(XS was on this in August, but you all know that.)
Republicans should designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, based simply on the weight of the evidence. But if they’re feeling a little bit mean — and why not? — they should wait until the Democrats have put Keith Ellison in charge of their party to do it.
(It just keeps getting better.)
A little hyperbolic, but definitely on to something.
This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.
He’s not wrong about any part of that. Providential Protestantism is a bitch.
This is what an honest (and thus formidable) left would sound like:
Some years ago, a friend sent me a shocking article. It said hundreds of British girls were being systematically gang-raped by Muslim gangs. It claimed this was being covered-up. […] I’ve never had time for conspiracy theories, especially when they look as hateful as those in the article. So I checked the links and sources in the piece. I found an American racist-far-right website and from there, saw the original source was a similarly unpleasant website in the UK. […] I did a brief search for corroboration from reputable mainstream sources. I found none. So I wrote a curt reply to my friend: “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t send me made-up crap from neo-Nazi websites”. […] Some months later, I read the seminal exposé of the (mainly) ethnic-Pakistani grooming gang phenomenon by Andrew Norfolk in The Sunday Times. […] I was stunned and horrified – not just that these vile crimes were indeed happening and endemic, but that they really were being ignored and “covered-up” by public authorities and the mainstream media. …
The whole piece is terrifyingly sane. It’s so atypical, though, it can probably be ignored.