When White Knighting is permissible

If you’re not only a Gurkha, but a Gurkha who clearly has Samuel L. Jackson-style Oedipal references inscribed on your khukari, you can white-knight all you like. You can, in fact, arguably do whatever happens to suit your fancy and no one in his right mind is going to be inclined to tell you otherwise:

Bishnu Shrestha, a brave Gurkha soldier in Indian Army, defeated 40 train robbers while returning home after a voluntary retirement…. While in the train, Maurya Express from Ranchi to Gorakhpur on September 2, 2010, 35 year-old Bishnu saved a girl about to be raped by train robbers, in front of her helpless parents. After looting the train, when the robbers started stripping the 18 year old girl in front of him, he couldn’t contain his calmness. He took out his khukari and attacked the group of 40 robbers, alone. In the fight, he killed three of dacoits and injured eight others. Remaining looters ran for their lives.

The police arrested the eight injured dacoits and recovered Rs. 400,000 in cash, 40 gold necklaces, 200 cell phones, 40 laptops and other items left by the robber while fleeing the train.

I don’t think the lesson we can take away from this really has a whole lot to do with white knighting, so much as the extreme importance of never messing with a Gurkha.

Consider the name

In which Israeli commentators appear to be genuinely surprised that a man named Hussein who attended madrassahs as a child might take a slightly different tack in the Middle East than his white Episcopalian predecessors:

If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness….

Who is advising them, he asked, “to fuel the mob raging in the streets of Egypt and to demand the head of the person who five minutes ago was the bold ally of the president … an almost lone voice of sanity in a Middle East?”

Regardless of whether Obama is a Muslim himself or not, he is obviously going to be sympathetic to the various causes of the non-European third worlders because he considers himself one of them. Look at how he behaves towards longtime European allies like the English versus his kowtowing before the Saudi king and the head of the Chinese regime. Obama’s degrees from Columbia and Harvard no more give him a normal American perspective than did the King of Jordan’s attendance at Deerfield Academy and Georgetown.

It’s rather like the Romans being surprised when they support a Teutonic general’s claim to the imperial throne and then see him taking sides in barbarian affairs. If against all expectations he somehow managed to survive and win a second term, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Obama start openly supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Ikhwān against Israel.

UPDATE: I wrote that before I read this article: The Obama administration said for the first time that it supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government. The organization must reject violence and recognize democratic goals if the U.S. is to be comfortable with it taking part in the government, the White House said.

It would be interesting to learn what “democratic goals” are supposed to be, especially in light of how the Muslim Brotherhood is a bigger fan of genuine democracy right now than the Obama administration is.

Mailvox: the inactive aspect of demand

Jed requests an explanation:

Vox, can you explain [that “not buying something is at least potentially an economic activity”]?

How is not playing baseball considered playing baseball when one is merely sitting in the stands? This only works from a socialistic standpoint which is exactly why Democrats saw no problem including it in their law.

First, the baseball analogy is a bad one. The logical error that Jed commits there is his assumption that economic activity = buying something. This is not only incorrect, since X!=not X, but indicates a failure to understand what economics is. This failure is further evidenced by the incoherent assertion that it “only works from a socialistic standpoint”, whereas the truth is that because economic concepts always work, socialism itself does not.

Now for the explanation. Recall the basic supply and demand curve. Since the demand curve is the expression of the buyers’ willingness to buy at various price points, it by definition takes into account the decisions of those who are actively choosing not to buy at a price above their buy point. They are engaging in exactly the same economic activity in not-buying that they are in buying, the only difference is that the price point happen to be above their action trigger.

This isn’t as confusing as it sounds at first. For example, no one has a hard time understanding that a woman has gone shopping even if she didn’t end up buying anything while she was out at the mall. This is why, in the introduction to RGD, I pointed out that Leonard Read’s famous story of the pencil only told half the story as “The story on the demand side is arguably even more amazing, as the myriad assignments of personal value for a pencil made by the millions of people who buy pencils and by the tens of millions who elect not to buy them are all factored into an incredibly massive but ever-changing computation that always manages to produce a definite price for every single transaction that takes place at millions of different points in the space-time continuum.”

This doesn’t mean that every non-purchase can be considered economic activity, only decisions to not make a possible purchase can. One has to be somewhere along the demand curve in order to qualify. Thus, a decision to not purchase U.S. health insurance by someone in Indonesia is not economic activity because the Indonesian is not a potential participant in that market. But the decision by individuals in Chicago or Raleigh to not purchase health insurance is economic activity because they are potential participants in the market since they would be interested in purchasing health insurance if the price fell low enough.

Now, none of this can be used to justify the Commerce Clause given the principle of non-infinity and the fact that it is supposed to be a specific exception to a restriction, not a free Federal do whatever the hell you want card. But the basic concept of the non-buyer as economic participant is a perfectly sound one.

The political malleability of women

Marriage not infrequently causes even the most elite women to come to their political senses:

Only two years ago Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy had claimed that she was “instinctively left-wing” after at one stage supporting her husband’s Socialist rival in the 2007 presidential elections. She had also publicly opposed Mr Sarkozy’s plan to conduct DNA tests on immigrants…. But in Monday’s interview with Le Parisien newspaper, she said her previous political persuasion was only due to her belonging to a “community of artists.” “We were bobo (bourgeois bohemians), we were left-wing but at that time I voted in Italy (her native country).” I have never voted for the Left in France and I can tell you, I’m not about to start now. I don’t really feel left-wing anymore,” she said.

Not that I’m a fan of Sarkozy, of course, but he is certainly less objectionable than the French Socialists. But the observation points to an obvious problem in the West. As marriage rates continue to decline, we should expect to see women moving even further to the political Left. Since men are moving steadily to the right in the USA, this will likely create a situation where most women, blacks and immigrants are the core of the party opposed to the other one consisting of native men and the minority of women married to them. This is unlikely to make for a stable political system or a stable society.

Of course, the economic Fimbulwinter should render all of that irrelevant long before it becomes an actual problem.