Monday, November 11, 2013

More Links I Liked

A few links I have found thought provoking lately.

More reasons to get rid of farm subsidies. Turns out that 50 Billionaires Received U.S. Farm Subsidies, Report Finds. It isn't as bad as the title indicate but still it is a special kind of ridiculous that people who are incredibly wealthy can get "farm" subsidies.

Still on farming, it turns out that it is hard to get "organic" grain to feed livestock so they can be sold as organic. Harvest Public Media explores this topic in Filling a hole in the organic pipeline. It is pretty tough to do, even if you don't give your livestock antibiotics and hormones they are still eating feed that is being raised in the industrial food system.

Mark Steyn's latest essay, The Drift toward Despotism, is pretty crude but it is also troubling. The reports of misconduct by uniformed agents of the state are growing more and more frequent and disturbing. The almost casual violence, the degradation which seems more and more to manifest itself in sexual violence, the division and suspicion toward the public that is exhibited by many of our "leaders" and increasing numbers of our public servants is a growing problem and one that is far more of a threat to liberty than Islamic terrorism.

More politics. Rand Paul speaking at Liberty University for their convocation, speaking as he often does on the assault on personal liberty and civil rights, including a look at bioethics: FULL SPEECH: Media Distort Rand Paul Address by Cribbing Off AP Report.While Senator Paul needs to work on his joke delivery, he often seems to be the only one in the room who is asking the hard questions and shedding light on dangerous trends in the erosion of liberty.

This one is a link to a book, not even one I have read! I got this back in September for free or really cheap, While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement.Written by Carolyn Maull McKinstry, it tells the story of a young woman who was present and very near the bomb that blew up a Baptist church in Birmingham, killing four young black girls. My wife read it yesterday and really liked it. From her description it is an interesting but also disturbing look at the days of the Civil Rights movement. We are encouraging our kids to read it. Children and young adults the age of our children need to know what life was really like for blacks in America in the era between the end of the Civil War and the modern era. Having grown up with the civil rights movement hijacked by hucksters, race baiters and professional  aggrieved racial extortionists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson it can be hard to remember that it was not always that way and the life of non-whites in America for a very long time, even after slavery, was one of constant discrimination and fear. I hope to give it a read soon but it gets an enthusiastic recommendation from my wife!

Ever wonder why politicians seem so out of touch? It might be because D.C. is a world apart. From the Washington Post, Washington: A World Apart, shows the demographics that make up the center of power and influence in America.

This is a fascinating and troubling look at the lives of the denizens of the Washington D.C. area. It follows some of the same data that Charles Murray compiled in his excellent book Coming Apart. What the demographics show is a increased concentration of the wealthiest and best educated in America, and nowhere is this concentration more pronounced than in D.C.

What does it mean for our society that the ruling elite, and elite is the only way to look at them, live in a somewhat cocooned subculture of affluence, compartmentalized from the realities of life in Kansas and Alabama? The overwhelming size and control of the Federal government over every aspect of our lives coupled with a cultural, educational and economic disparity like this might explain some of the reason that Washington seems so clueless about the rest of the country and why our country is so divided. When I visited a few years ago it was remarkable that while the rest of the nation was mired in a deep recession, life seemed to be booming in D.C. The high end malls were full of people and the driveways and roads were full of brand new cars. In Michigan people were moving out of the state trying to find work, the roads were falling apart and there was a pall of desperation. It was like two different countries, not two different regions in the same country.

One couple quoted said something interesting: "The divide they feel is intellectual, they said. When Kulp travels outside the region, he says he realizes that people he meets don’t talk much about things such as foreign policy and countering nuclear terrorism, as he does at home with other people with advanced degrees. Instead, he said, “people elsewhere talk more about what they see every day.”" I think that for many people conversations about foreign policy and political minutiae are a waste of time because they feel like those issues are outside of their control. At least talking about sports is something you can feel connected to. Bottom line, the growing division between the elite measured by wealth and education and the lower classes is growing and ironically more in the nation's capital than anywhere else. Silly solutions like raising the minimum wage or mandating a "living wage" miss the underlying issues. I am not sure what the solution is but the trajectory we are on is a dangerous one.

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