Public Education Bad for Business (and Unions)

Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare,” by Leon Lazaroff, Chicago Tribune, 10 April 2005, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2027&ncid=2027&e=4&u=/chitribts/20050410/ts_chicagotrib/workforceneedspolishusbusinessesdeclare (from Democratic Underground).

Businesses and unions are natural adversaries. So it takes something big, like the lousy state of American secondary schools, to make them come together

As lawmakers and educators struggle to improve high schools in the U.S., businesses and labor unions say they are alarmed that even job seekers with a diploma can’t function in the workplace.

It’s a problem, they say, that threatens to cripple American productivity at home and competition abroad.

While the AFL-CIO and National Association of Manufacturers have clashed over wage issues and foreign trade, Paul Cole, secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO says the two groups agree that a more efficient and higher-skilled workforce can ensure that well-paying jobs are not exported.

What is the problem?

Students get out of secondary school unable to work

Discouraged by the work habits of many new employees, a handful of states, led by New York, are working to create a nationally recognized “work readiness” credential. Proponents say the credential would certify that a prospective employee understands the importance of “soft skills” such as punctuality, a willingness to accept supervision and an ability to work in a group.

You’d think people would know to call in sick when they’re not coming to work, but that’s not always the case,” said Michael Kauffman, an executive at Anoplate Corp., a 175-person metal manufacturer in Syracuse. “We’re having many more problems than in the past getting people who understand what it means to work in an office or a factory.”

Why do we need a work readiness credential? Because secondary school diplomas have been deflated to worthlessness.

It is a depressing article. And yet another example of how our 19th century socialist education system has failed.

Preventing War with China

Evaluating the Threat,” by Thomas X. Hammes, The Sling and the Stone, 12 September 2005, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0760320594/104-4477264-4543134?v=glance.

Balance of Forces in the Taiwan Strait,” by Bill Rice, Dawn’s Early Light, 8 April 2005, http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/04/del_takes_a_clo.html.

China is building up her conventional forces in preperation to seize the island of Taiwan and discourage American intervention

To better understand the Taiwan issue between China, Taiwan, Japan and the United States, it is helpful to understand the military capabilities of the principal players. s A critical component of this analysis is the naval one. There are growing questions and conflicting information about China’s ability to launch a successful attack against Taiwan. China’s goal would be keeping the United States at bay long enough to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses and take control of the island.

Taiwan’s strategic position grows increasingly precarious as it falls behind an economically expanding China that continues double-digit defense increases annually for the past decade. Dr. Cole continues his comparison:

We’ve been here before. During the Cold War we defended a distant friend from a close enemy. Western Europe was kept safe not by our conventional forces, which were weak, nor our sea lanes, which could be attacked, but by nuclear terror.

However, merely encouraging Taiwan to develop nuclear weapons would not suffice. It is not clear if a KMT (ethnic Chinese) Taiwanese President would launch a nuclear strike on China. A Taiwan Bomb by itself would not suffice. Fortunately, we can learn from China’s strategy…

The pattern of China’s alliances, combined with this book [Unrestricted Warfare by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui], reveals a nation that does not want a direct confrontation with the Untied States but seeks to have enough allies and 4GW weapons to discourage any use of U.S. power in what China consiers its sphere of influence. It also shows that Chian does not envision a war with America as a second- or third-generation struggle. They do not seek conventional superiority. Rather, they seek ways to use a network of alliances and human ingenuity to overcome the U.S. lead in technology. They are considering not only information attacks but also purely economic atacks,. They may take a wide variety of forms, all designed to avoid the conventional strength embodied in our amred forces.

Imagine the economic impact on the United States if a series of containers blew up in our ports, necessitating one hundred precent inspection of arriving container freigh and the ships that carry it. We have seen that interruptions due to stevedore strikes on our West Coast can cost hundreds of millsion, even billions of dollars per day in economic activity lost from America’s seven trillion dollar econony, Whether China conducts a false flag operation or funds terrorists to conduct such an attack, the result is the same. we have no one to retailate against militarily, despite suffering huge economic damage.

China can use a number of 4GW avenues to attack the United States — or, more likely, to neutralize our power in what they consider their sphere of influence by threatening such attacks. At the same time, they can limit our ability to concentrate power by ensuring that our enemies throughout the world obtain more advanced weaposn that require us to maintain forces in those regions. This is a more sophisticated appraoch than the Soviet Union’s use of proxies. The Soviets attempted to control the proxies. The Chinese simply provide whtem with resources to use for whatever goals the proxies devise. China is engaging her allies in a fashion more resembling that of a venture capitist than the vertical, bureaucratic approach the Soviet Union used.

So let’s update the nuclear terror approach to China.

  1. Encourage our allies to develop nuclear weapons.
  2. Encourage the pre-positioning of these weapons in China. There is no need to develop advanced rocketry if human teams have control them in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, and other cities.
  3. Encourage China’s neighbors to have alliances of conveniences with internal seperatist groups. If a nuclear weapon detonates in Shanghai, is it from the Vietnamese-backed Hainan Liberation Front of the Kazakh-backed Uigher Liberation Front?, etc. China will have no one to lash out against.

There is no need to actually provide sub-state actors with thse weapons. But our friends must have the capability to do so quickly. This suggestion is nothing more than what China is already going — preparing for worst case scenarios. As long as China does not try to violently restore Mythic China no neighbor will have cause to destabilize the reason and risk war. But our willingness to do so might prevent Beijing from doing something dangerous in the first place.

Update: Redhunter had addressed similar issues

One cannot discuss war between the United States and China without discussing nuclear weapons. Indeed, some have used the threat of escalation as a reason why China would not attack. This may well be so. But it also may be an example of the “mirror image” thinking that we need to avoid.

During the Cold War we adopted the theory of MAD, or Mutual Assured Destruction. MAD said that neither side would dare to attack the other because both would end up destroyed. But while the Soviets gave lip service to this theory, a review of their internal literature showed that they did not necessarily buy into it. They conducted war games with the express intent of finding a way to fight and win a nuclear war.

So it may be with China. Not that they would want to fight such a war, but they may well believe that they can “absorb” losses better than we could. During the 1950s, when the Soviets and Chinese were still on somewhat friendly terms, the former “…professed not to fear nuclear war because they did understand the force of nuclear weapons, but the believed they could afford to lose a few hundred million of their people, people being the one thing they had in abundance.” (Operation Solo, p 94). Although the days of Mao’s rule are long gone, his government is still in place.

Nuclear War was survivable for Beijing in Mao’s day because China was agrarian, and power came from the country. In that world, cities were prizes of war, not tools of war. Today, China’s economy is completely different.

Nonetheless, Redhunter’s analysis underlines the importance of 4GW techniques. American nuclear retalation is an uncertain trumpet. But if, within days of a nuclear attack, a Uigher seperatist group with ties to Vietnam detonated a bomb in Shanghai’s port – who is there to retaliate against?

Post-Adscam Poll Predicts Collapse for Canadian Liberals

‘Breathtaking’ poll sees defeat for Canada Liberals,” by Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren, Reuters, 11 April 2005, http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2005-04-11T160006Z_01_ZWE149861_RTRUKOC_0_CANADA-POLITICS.xml (from Democratic Underground).

Adscam, Canada’s Watergate, may collapse the left-of-center Liberal Party

Canada’s minority Liberal government is heading for defeat at the hands of the Conservatives after more than 11 years in power, a dramatic new poll is predicting.

The EKOS poll, commissioned by the Toronto Star, was taken after an advertising executive raised the stakes in a scandal about misuse of government cash by testifying he had paid large kickbacks to the Liberals in French-speaking Quebec.

The poll published on Monday showed support for the Conservatives rose seven points to 36.2 percent while the Liberals fell by nine points to just 25 percent.

But both parties played down the chances of a snap election, saying they felt Canadians wanted to hear more information from a public inquiry into the scandal.

It was the lowest showing for the Liberals since they took office in 1993. Public support for the party dipped as low as 29 percent before last June’s election, but the party recovered to poll 36.7 percent on election day.

Visually

medium_adscam_liberal_collapse_sm.jpg
Poll Results on the Inside, Current Seats on the Outside

This is great news. Because Canada is a parliamentary democracy, elections can happen at any time…. And the decision of whether to do so falls to the Frech!

The opposition’s first chance to try to bring down Martin’s government will come on Thursday, when the separatist Bloc Quebecois can introduce a motion of no-confidence. The Bloc will decide late on Tuesday whether to go ahead with this.

The Liberal government should go. Canada has not joined America in Iraq, Canada has withdrawn from the continental missile shield, and Canada refuses to harmonize immigration controls.

Let the Canadians vote!

Nations Are Not Nation-States (Correcting Slate and Eternal Vigilance)

“A Computer Model of National Behavior,” by Dan tdaxp, University of South Dakota, 20 November 2004, Chapter I.

New York Times Supports McCarthyite Witch Hunt,” by Jim, Eternal Vigilance, 10 April 2005, http://btpholdings.blogspot.com/2005/04/new-york-times-supports-mccarthyite.html.

Academic Politics,” by David Wallace-Wells, Slate, 11 April 2005, http://www.slate.com/id/2116590/.

Wallace-Wells joins the criticism of Juan Cole, but gets it wrong

Cole’s statement that “nations actually did not exist in the modern sense before the late 1700s … there are no eternal nations through history,” draws the ire of [tdaxp]. “[Nations] did not somehow magically appear—they have existed for centuries,” he writes. “Perhaps Cole means that nationalism did not exist before the late 1700s—but that’s entirely different.” Eternal Vigilance seconds Abbot: “We would like to know what history they have been reading that says the modern nation-state did not exist prior to the late 1700s.”

Well, he gets my name wrong, but to expand the EV quote…

We would like to know what history they have been reading that says the modern nation-state did not exist prior to the late 1700s. Perhaps Cole means that feudalism ruled the day. But we have evidence that feudalism was over in England with the War of the Roses (1455-87) which brought about the destruction of the English nobility. They never recovered as a class after that time. The Tudors were the final victors late in that civil war after the Lancasters and Yorks had been diminished.

And with the advent of Martin Luther’s Reformation and An Open Letter to The Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate (1520) and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537), feudalism was on the way out in continental Europe.

Note in the above that Luther refers to the German Nation. And clearly, with the rejection of the Pope as being supreme, the peoples of Europe were taking control of their own destinies by breaking with Rome.

The Nation-State did not exist before the late 1700s, or 1600s at the earliest.

medium_west_europe_13th_century.jpg
Europe Without Nation-States – 13th Century

France was the first Nation-State. There were no nation-states before the dawn of the Modern Age. While sometimes the borders of nations and states did not, this was not a driving force of organization or loyalty. A farmer’s land was important, a man’s lord was important, even how a man worshipped — but language and culture were not worth dying for.

Or taxing for. That Luther mentioned “the German nation” does not mean he believed that the German nation needed a central government.

In my last post I quoted my definition of nation:

A nation is collection of people that share a language, culture, and ethnicity. “French,” “German,” and “Occidental” are nations in western Europe.

Well, my definition of state is

Finally, a state is political subdivision usually possessing sovereignty. The geographical borders of states can closely coincide with places and nations. States can sometimes be subdivisions of other states. Lower Saxony, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the European Union are all examples of states.

So, a nation state is a political subdivision usually with sovereigny that is mostly comprised of people sharing a language, culture, and ethnicity.

This was nearly impossible before the modern era. The closest that we see in the past were the ancient City-States. Before modern communication languages could change noticeably every twenty miles or so. .

Cole is wrong, nations did exist before the modern era. And Jim of Eternal Vigilance is wrong, nation-states did not.

Clinton Reenforcing Horizontal Controls With Vertical Ones

Clinton Joins Democrats’ Values Push,” by Luiza C. Savage, New York Sun Times, 8 April 2005, http://www.nysun.com/article/11894 (from Democratic Underground).

Senator Clinton, having discovered religion…

“Religious liberty is one of the most important issues on the world’s agenda today,” Mrs. Clinton told the Religious Liberty Annual Dinner of the Seventh day Adventist Church.

Freedom of conscience is often “a bellwether for human rights,” she said.

The senator’s religiously themed speech comes as Democrats seek to identify anew with the “moral values” that were said to play a role in the Republican victories in November’s election.

… joins a bi-partisan coalition to extend religious rights in the work-place… and with enemies and denunciations like this it has to be good!

The senator’s strong endorsement of legislation that is opposed by some abortion-rights and gay-rights groups is likely to add to speculation that she is moving to the political center ahead of a potential 2008 presidential candidacy. But the issue of religious liberty is one she has championed consistently since arriving in the Senate.

Elected in 2000, Mrs. Clinton has been one of only a handful of bipartisan co-sponsors of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, which would require employers to accommodate their employees’ religious observances when reasonably possible. Critics say the law could enable religious zealots to discriminate against or harass gay workers or interfere with women’s access to birth control or abortion.

The bill was introduced again last month by Senator Kerry of Massachusetts and Senator Santorum, a Republican of Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Clinton is again a co-sponsor. Senator Schumer, too, has come to back the bill.

“We think the bill that Clinton is a co-sponsor of is too broadly drafted and could have consequences that could make it difficult for employers to stop people from proselytizing on the job or hanging up anti-gay Biblical quotes on their cubicles,” the legislative director of the gay-rights advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, Christopher Labonte, said.

But the meat of the beast

The Seventh-day Adventists are a Protestant Christian denomination that follows the literal meaning of the Bible. They number 14 million around the world and one million in America.

Adherents celebrate the Sabbath from Friday evening until Saturday evening. The church wants stronger legal protections for employees who do not want to work in those hours.

Mr. Standish said that on an average day, three Seventh-day Adventists in America lose their jobs for observing their faith.

“Senator Clinton has not only had compassion for these men and women, but she has had the courage to stand up for them,” he said.

And here’s the problem. The bill will help the faiths in the short-term. But what will be the long-term effects for religion? Or freedom in general? The problem comes from the unique nature of work.

Work is essentially a horizontal relationship. Neither party may use force, and either party may quit. No party has the right to legislate the actions of the other. But because a company can absorb the loss of an employee easier than an employee can absorb the loss of a company, the bargaining positions are never “equal.” A company has the ability to absolutely control workers’ lives for a substantial portion of their day, unless the employees find a different employers. This is compounded by workplace regulation and activist judges. Because of fear of lawsuits, companies often default to Left-Authoritarianism (very politically correct, and very hierarchical).

So on balance I think Clinton’s bill is a good one. But a much better solution would be to rollback the power of lawsuits. Religious freedom is important. But so is freedom of contract.

Kerry, Clinton, and Santorum should focus on the real problem — activist judges. But until they do, this is a step more good than bad.

Update: MyDD and the Human Rights Campaign hates it, so it has to be good.