I couldn’t resist

Blame Derbyshire. Reading the poem in light of yesterday’s conversation just caused the title to leap out at me. With deepest apologies to Mr. Yeats:

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innesmouth

And a small altar build there, of clay and fishbones made;

Nine dread nights will I have there, enshrouded in darkling myth,

And live alone in the lurking shade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes creeping slow,

Swelling in the veils of the black tide I hear the chittering;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and dawn an eerie glow,

And evening full as the deep ones sing.

I will arise and go now, for always night is day

I hear the Shoggoth calling with vile sounds by the shore

While I stand by the mirror, my face a pallid gray,

I hear it in my cold heart’s core.

The global reach

Joan Veon writes on WND: At the Millennium Summit in 2000, the United Nations presented the world’s 189 kings, princes, prime ministers and presidents a list of global needs. They include by 2015: reducing poverty and hunger by 50 percent, ensuring that children everywhere are able to complete a full course of primary schooling, reducing by 66 percent child mortality, halting and reversing HIV-AIDS, malaria and other major diseases and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers … among others. Notice this is not a country-by-country goal – which would reflect the idea of national sovereignty – but reflects a world united and governed through a universal political body called the United Nations. These goals have also been adopted by all of the extended U.N. family: the International Monetary Fund-World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNESCO, etc., as well as the Group of Eight heads of state. Many leading multinational and transnational corporations have also adopted these goals.

Interesting goals for what people dismiss as a debating society. I have said this many times: the United Nations is the most dangerous threat that mankind has ever known. Once it has tax revenues and a military, it will be a matter of seconds until the Maos, Lenins and Saloth Sars begin competing to seize the reins of power. The most ruthless of them will win. Contemplate, if you will, just what that sort of social engineering psychopath is likely to do with that sort of power and global reach.

A full course of primary schooling. Somehow, I suspect homeschooling won’t be smiled upon.

VDH swings and misses

VDH writes:We are presently engaged in a world war for our civilization and its vision of a just and humane society. Our values will either endure this present struggle and indeed be invigorated by the ordeal, or like once great civilizations of the past we will stumble in the face of barbarism and lose all that we hold dear…. Americans believe that freedom and consensual government — far from being the exclusive domain of the West — are ideals central to the human condition and the shared aspirations of all born into this world.

This is some pretty serious hyperbole. There is a world war being waged against us, but losing to the global jihad will take decades, if not a century or more. In the meantime – and partially under the aegis of the war on method – we are losing what little we have not already lost of our civilization’s vision of a just and human society. The twin devils of bureaucratic centralization and cultural secularization have destroyed most of what made the West Western; if the global jihad ultimately triumphs it will be the equivalent of Alaric’s Vandals sacking a long-tottering Rome.

The jihad does offer an opportunity to throw off feckless secularism, but the response of the nation’s leadership has made it clear that a restoration of freedom is not in the cards. Quite the opposite would seem to be the case. Our corruption is systemic.

Thus spake Blackfive

I just wanted to say “thanks!” to all of you who made donations to Spirit of America this week. We raised $50,000 from the blogosphere! You people ROCK!!!!

Holy cow! That’s impressive. Reflecting back on last week’s column, I wonder how much of the $1.5 million raised came from individuals in the ABCNNBCBS community? Blackfive also has this reminder that there are no atheists in foxholes.

A reading assignment for the Gargler

Fred Reed writes: The Bell Curve, an excellent book more maligned than read, pointed out a trend seldom noticed. The authors called it “cognitive stratification,” not a phrase Byron would have chosen but serviceable enough. It means the concentration of the intelligent. In 1850 people of high intelligence were dispersed through the population. If the child of a cowboy had an IQ of 160, he would probably remain in the geographical region with cowboys. He might be more successful than most, and might choose as friends the quicker wits thereabouts. Yet he would be part of the community…. In 1850 there were few jobs requiring the very bright. Today they abound. Universities began to scour the country for the highly intelligent. These, once found, met each other at elite universities or, later, in the places where the bright concentrated to work: Laboratories, software houses, hospitals, magazine journalism, and occasionally law firms. They married each other. Their children tended to be bright. The result has been that the bright tend to live, play, work, and sleep almost entirely with each other.

It is true that the bright and educated are almost shockingly insulated. I once had an argument with a woman who insisted that everyone went to college – she defied me to name one person in our social circle who hadn’t. I couldn’t do that, so I was forced to make do with demonstrating that around 50 percent of the populace goes to college at all, and a significant percentage of those who do never graduate. My father used to get on my case for being contemptuous of other people’s intelligence, but he finally stopped when I illustrated how many of my problems in the corporate world stemmed directly from overestimating others. Contempt may not be nice, but it is nevertheless wise to temper your expectations of the capabilities of others on whom you are relying.

The most significant thing in this regard has little to do with intelligence. Possibly the great lie of the last 250 years is that man is rational. Our market theories depend on it, often our business activities postulate it, and it simply isn’t true. Man is inherently irrational, and this is supported day in and day out by watching the actions and decisions of those around you. Much of the time, intelligence simply helps one do a more convicing job of rationalizing one’s stupid decision to follow one’s desires.

Inflation in Revolutionary France

From the Mises Institute: The revolutionary government first decided to cure the evils generated by inflation with more inflation. Instead of destroying assignats received for the national properties, they reissued them in the form of smaller notes. In June 1791, they issued another 600 million assignats (the previous promise not to issue more was conveniently and predictably forgotten), and in December an additional 300 million. By the end of the year, its market value had fallen to 66 percent of its face value. In 1792, they issued 600 million more. In April of the same year, they confiscated the estates of the émigrés (those who fled France to avoid being arrested or murdered) and added them to the national properties.

Then came 1793 Year One; the year of la Terreur. Having tried inflation and legal coercion, they would try terrorizing the population into accepting the plunging assignat at par, and producing and selling at a patriotic loss. In March, the National Convention created the Orwellian-named Committee of Public Safety (another unfortunate American precedent), which was a kind of committee of terror, dedicated to expropriating and murdering those deemed to be “traitors” to France or enemies of la Revolution. In May, they passed le Maximum, imposing price ceilings on grain. It worsened the grain shortage. In June, they passed the Forced Loan, a progressive income tax, whose progressivity was progressively lowered to reach more and more citizens. They also passed increasingly draconian and deadly laws designed to force people to accept the assignats at par and forbidding them from exchanging them for anything less than their face value. In July, the Convention repudiated the first issue of interest-bearing assignats. In August, trading (i.e. buying or selling) specie [gold] was prohibited. In September, the Convention passed the General Maximum, extending price ceilings to all foodstuffs, as well as firewood, coal, and other essentials. In that month, despite the deadly coercion, the assignat fell to 30 percent against gold. During 1793, the Convention issued 1,200 million assignats; in 1794, 3,000 million. Next came the deluge. In 1795, 33,000 million were printed, and in October, when a new government the Directory assumed power, the assignats’ purchasing power had fallen to almost nothing. On the black market, 600 francs of assignats traded for one gold franc.

The Directory was done with the assignat, but it was not done with inflation. In February 1796, it issued a new paper currency, the mandat, and made it exchangeable for assignats at the rate of 30 to 1. By August, after 2,500 million had been issued, the mandat had fallen to three percent of its face value. In 1796, the Directory had had enough, finally, and it withdrew the legal tender character of both the assignat and the mandat. Thereupon, their remaining meager exchangeable value disappeared altogether.

Interesting how modern it all sounds, doesn’t it. Fiat money and socialism have gone hand-in-hand longer than socialism has been a recognizable philosophy. Not that one can blame socialism for inflation, as it’s been around since the first king decided to spend a few extra denari by issuing adulterated coins. If Prechter is not correct, and we are NOT heading for a deflationary Great Depression, we may be unfortunate enough to see what happens if the Fed tries to inflate us out from underneath the mountain of debt hanging overhead. At least our monetary masters have been more circumspect. It’s taken us 70 years for our dollar to lose 95 percent of its value; the French Directory managed to completely destroy the assignat in five.

How they dance

From the Star and Sickle: The anecdotal stories that crime was decreasing in downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul and at the Mall of America started soon after the Metro Transit strike began in early March. Curious about what might be happening, police began discreetly monitoring crime figures and found some intriguing numbers.

• Police calls at the Mall of America, especially on weekends, were down by as much as 21 percent.

• Arrests in downtown Minneapolis had dropped.

• In St. Paul, police calls for so-called “quality of life” complaints, such as narcotics sales near bus stops, also had fallen.

After the metro area’s first transit strike in a decade, the possible relationship between the strike and crime has become a much-debated — and politically touchy — issue. Critics complain that the focus unnecessarily paints an unflattering portrait of bus riders. Police contend that the figures, while showing drops in possible criminal activity, may have uncertain meaning and caution against hasty conclusions.

Interestingly enough, and unsurprisingly, you won’t see a single mention of race in the entire article. But the nervous tone leads to the inescapable conclusion that it was members of a particular group favored by the left-liberal media wasn’t getting arrested as often during the bus strike. I’m just curious to know what point is served by talking around easily established facts.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I should point out that I’m on the side of the narcotic sellers anyhow. They’re just supplying an existing demand, they aren’t forcing their wares on little kids by means of their parents. Oh, that’s right, I forgot. If the government okays it, then it must be desirable.