The World in Summary

India and Israel strengthen military ties.

Red China allows citizen to use and read TypePad blogs.

Vietnam applauds U.S. trade relations, but complains about rules regarding catfish-dumping.

Dozens die in another Salafist-Baathist terror bombing.

There is a growing, interconnected world that peacefully pursues trade, freedom, and democracy. Not everyone is at the same place, but everyone is on the right track.

While the tribal neo-Klansmen of Iraq kill people to drive out the world. To [re]impose a hateful tyranny on the masses who despire them.

We are fighting for the free world — for the globalized world. Our enemies fight against it.

The Customer Wins

Damascus prostitutes go to war,” Al Bawaba, http://www.albawaba.com/en/news/178725, 4 January 2005.

In a price war, the customer wins

The fall of Stalinist Iraq has disrupted the certain aspects of the Syrian service sector, as newly mobile Iraqis create a lower equilibrium wage

In recent months, the whores working in Damascus have complained about the “aggressive conquering” of their clientele by foreign workers. The market of whores, as well as other markets, has suffered due to the wave of immigration from neighboring Iraq.

Businesses often resort to FUD — fear, uncertainly, and doubt, to discourage competition. Globalization and expanding free trade means competitors can come from anywhere. “Microsoft Internet Explorer will give you viruses.” So will Iraqi Irene

In the past few months, a mini “world war” has been taking place between prostitutes in Syria: the many immigrants from Iraq have simply “stolen” the jobs of the local girls. However, the Syrian whores have decided not to surrender and have engaged in war by spreading rumors, claiming, “The immigrants are all sick with AIDS”.

Sadly, there are government failures. Well-intentioned government regulations prohibit often prevent true price competition. In the U.S. only licensed doctors can give certain advice. In Syria, only men can get prostitutes out of jail.

It seems that in one of the areas in which this business flourishes, a systematic system has been developed. Syrian or Iraqi pimps “marry” up to four whores (either from Syria, Iraq or Tunisia). In exchange for 10,000 dollars a year, the whores commit themselves to serve any client, anytime. In exchange, the pimp promises her that if she is arrested, he will release her after identifying himself to the police as her “husband”.

But the free market finds a way. Is pimpery becoming gender-neutral?

The Iraqi whores work in a few centers, according to reports. In the A-Thal neighborhood of Damascus, for example, one can find night clubs in which Iraqi and Syrian women perform sensual dances. According to the reports, one can even spot women in their 50s sitting by the stage smoking nargilas. Perhaps these are the mothers of the dancers that came to watch after their daughters or perhaps to mediate between their girls and the eager clients…

Wow. I got through that entire article without one comparison between Syria and John Ashcroft’s America!

Social Welfare

Democratic Underground is a wonderful site. Somewhere between the “Zarqawi is imaginary” rhetoric and hilarious hatred of Free Republic, it manages to come up with insightful comments. Below are three pulled from a discussion on social security. I agree (at least partially) with everyone one

When was the last time anyone felt proud to receive an SSI check?

means test and folks will be told by others that if they had pride they would leave the money for those that really need it.

Which hypocritical South Dakota Senator managed to provoke the greatest “anti-millionaire” campaign in the state since Steve Kirby lost last time, in spite of the fact that Janklow, Diedrich, and, er, everybody in South Dakota politics is either a millionaire or an aparatchick?

I heard Tom Dashle give an interview once and he bragged how his Mom uses medicare. I almost fell out of my fucking chair! He and his wife are millionaires!

Which party is on the wrong side of a demographic debacle, for short-term gain?

Then why is Ted Kennedy saying that….

there will have to be a 20% reduction in benefits?

…answer

The baby-boomers out number the gen-xers.

Which party supports a rich cabal?

The “dirty little secret” about age-based entitlements is that they generally benefit the rich. Eighty-seven percent of the wealth in this country (ie, real estate and securities) is owned by people 55 and above. And yet over two-thirds of government entitlements are going to the same folks. Do you lament that the rich are getting richer? The biggest culprit in increasing the disparity between rich and poor is the federal government, as they use our employment withholding to subsidize ocean view condos in Tampa Bay, plantation homes in Myrtle Beach and golf course haciendas in Sun City.

Sadr and Happier

Two Iraq cities await elections, Steven Komarow, USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-01-11-cover-usat_x.htm, 11 January 2005 (from Chrenkoff through Iraq the Model).

Austin Bay Writes…,” by Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, http://instapundit.com/archives/020575.php, 19 January 2005.

As Iraq journeys to becoming a normal county, the Shia have realized: democracy means the end of Sunni tyrant. The Sunni have realized: democracy means the end of Sunni tyrannt.

Sadr City and Fallujah illustrate both the hopes and risks of Iraq’s march toward democracy. One place embraces the politicking; the other ignores it. One sees how a new government could benefit it; the other fears elections will lead to oppression or worse. As the vote approaches, one sees itself as a potential winner. The other’s already lost.

Ironically, through much of the U.S. occupation of the past 21 months, Fallujah and Sadr City have followed parallel paths. Although Fallujah is a Sunni Muslim enclave, a stronghold of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, and Sadr City is dominated by the rival Shiite sect, both exploded into rebellion against the occupation.

Last April, there was open warfare in both places. Skirmishes raged into the early fall in both. U.S. military convoys regularly were ambushed and troops were killed in both. But then Sadr City’s and Fallujah’s paths diverged. The Shiites have begun embracing elections; many Sunnis fear them.

Now a U.S. officer, Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond of the 1st Cavalry Division, says Sadr City is the safest place in or around Baghdad. About 18,000 people have reconstruction jobs, he says, earning about $6 a day. “Sadr City is what the future of Iraq can look like,” he says.

Those who were once taking up arms are now talking democracy. “Before, the men were buying black cloth for their (martyrs’) banners. Now for the election, we are buying white cloths” for posters, says candidate Fatah al-Sheikh.

Now, who in American history do the Salafists-Islamists remind you of…

Craig Henry: “How are the ‘insurgents’ in Iraq different from the KKK in Mississippi circa 1963? And aren’t the nameless election workers who are dying everyday in Mosul and Baghdad heroes like Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner?”

Yes, and there were even people calling the Klansmen “patriots” and comparing them to the Minutemen.

Lousiana for the Louisianers

Louisiana reinstates anti-gay marriage amendment,” Associated Press, http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2999778, 19 January 2005 (from DU).

A decision everybody should hail

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court today unanimously reinstated the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in September.

The high court reversed a state district judge’s ruling in October striking down the amendment on the grounds that it violated a provision of the state constitution requiring that an amendment cover only one subject.

“Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object,” the high court said.

The court’s ruling puts the amendment in the constitution.

Its a federalist victory because Lousiana is able to change their constitution as they see fit. It’s an antihomosexualist victory for obvious reasons. It’s even a “creeping homosexualist” victory because it slow momentum for a federal amendment (why bother when states can do so on their own?).

Congrats Louisiana!

EUpower

EU pulls back from Lisbon goal,” EUPolitics, http://www.eupolitix.com/EN/News/200501/84ad29ce-d444-4894-82fb-1e47991ab22c.htm, 18 January 2005.

Tsunami-hit Thais told: Buy six planes or face EU tariffs,” by Fraser Nelson, The Scotsman, http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=66782005, 19 January 2005.

Jaque Chirac and others want a “multi-polar world.” A world with many great powers and no super-sized super-power. What sort of great power would Europe be?

Cruel, heartless, tactless

TSUNAMI-struck Thailand has been told by the European Commission that it must buy six A380 Airbus aircraft if it wants to escape the tariffs against its fishing industry.

While millions of Europeans are sending aid to Thailand to help its recovery, trade authorities in Brussels are demanding that Thai Airlines, its national carrier, pays £1.3 billion to buy its double-decker aircraft.

The demand will come as a deep embarrassment to Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, whose officials started the negotiation before the disaster struck Thailand – killing tens of thousands of people and damaging its economy.

While aid workers from across Europe are helping to rebuild Thai livelihoods, trade officials in Brussels are concluding a jets-for-prawns deal, which they had hoped to announce next month.

As the world’s largest producer of prawns, Thailand has become so efficient that its wares are half the price of those caught by Norway, the main producer of prawns for the EU.

To ensure the Thais cannot compete, EU officials five years ago removed its shrimp industry from the EU’s generalised system of preferential tariffs – designed to share Western wealth with developing countries by trade.

Slow, inefficient, antigrowth

The European Commission has quietly dropped a five year old EU pledge to make Europe the world’s most competitive economy by 2010.

An internal Brussels paper drops the target and instead calls for a simplification of economic goals which have ballooned into an increasing number of unrealistic social and economic targets.

The pledge was first made at a Lisbon economic summit of EU leaders in 2000 – with the city giving its name to a sweeping agenda aimed at boosting growth and research investment.

China may eventually be a world-power. This will force the U.S. to respond with ever greater measures, from greater encouragement for savings to political union with our American sister republics. But Old Europe? It’ll be a nice play for a vacation, as long as it avoids Sharia law.

Tom Friedman on Iraq

Ballots and Boycotts,” by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/opinion/13friedman.html, 13 January 2005.

Tom Friedman is a genius. Author of both From Beirut to Jerusalem and The Lexus and the Olive Tree, his take is always fascinating. He so understands and explains the world than even people who disagree with him, or don’t even care about his beliefs, end up using his terminology.

This week he has a more practical piece in Nyt calling for the elections to be held as scheduled

It is on the basis of these rules that I totally disagree with those who argue that the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections should be postponed. Their main argument is that an Iraqi election that ensconces the Shiite majority in power, without any participation of the Sunni minority, will sow the seeds of civil war.

That is probably true – but we are already in a civil war in Iraq. That civil war was started by the Sunni Baathists, and their Islamist fascist allies from around the region, the minute the U.S. toppled Saddam. And they started that war not because they felt the Iraqi elections were going to be rigged, but because they knew they weren’t going to be rigged.

They started the war not to get their fair share of Iraqi power, but in hopes of retaining their unfair share. Under Saddam, Iraq’s Sunni minority, with only 20 percent of the population, ruled everyone. These fascist insurgents have never given politics a chance to work in Iraq because they don’t want it to work. That’s why they have never issued a list of demands. They don’t want people to see what they are really after, which is continued minority rule, Saddamism without Saddam. If that was my politics, I’d be wearing a ski mask over my head, too.

Amen.

The End of the Nation-State

Why ‘Liberal Hawkery” is Oxymoronic’,” by “Ben P,” MyDD, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/1/18/33339/2943, 18 January 2005.

nonsense,” by “josheylon,” MyDD, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/1/18/33339/2943, 18 January 2005.

MyDD hosts a fascinating thread that makes one wonder: are sovereign nation-states anachonistic?

Now one may argue that Iraq (at least under Saddam Hussein) was not a freely self-constituted body like the ones I describe above, but this is a thin reed. The point isn’t ultimately Saddam, but the integrity of Iraq as a freely self-constituted nation-state. Unless the idea of the nation-state no longer has meaning, and that we are all citizens of some kind of pan-global community, this justification does not pass muster, because at this point, under such a theory, no nation (the United States included) has a right to its own internal politics. At which point, either we live in some utopian UN-style global superstate or international relations are simply anarchistic. And this is a philosophical situation I don’t think to many here – liberal, “liberal hawk,” conservative, whatever – would find tenable and/or realistic.

I believe there is still a purpose for nation-states, but it is less in the past. It is too dangerous for us and the world to allow any country to do whatever it wants to itself whenever it wants. Fortunately with globalization we can peacefully tie the states of the world together in a common system for common prosperity. But for the nonglobalized, war is still an option.

Dr. Barnett has written on how tiring the “He’s got a gun!” rationale for the Iraq War is. He’s right. Whether or not the thug is armed is besides the point. He’s a danger to his community and the entire town. Let’s get him.

Josheylon makes a similar point

If I round up five million people into a concentration camp, and call my concentration camp a “country” because it’s so large, are you going to say, “oh, it’s a country, and a country has a right to its own internal politics?”

What is comes down to is this: do you care about the rights of “Iraq,” or do you care about the rights of Iraqis? As far as I’m concerned, the rights of Iraqis trump the rights of Iraq, because Iraqis are real human beings and Iraq is just an abstraction. I don’t care about “Iraq” being free to do what it wants. I only care about Iraqis being free.

Now don’t take any of that as an endorsement of the Republican plan to replace “rule by dictator” with “rule by roving packs of teenage punks with machine guns.” I don’t think that’s a particularly good swap.

.

Let Peace and Freedom Reign!

Social Honesty

A Question of Numbers,” by Roger Lowenstein, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/16/magazine/16SOCIAL.html, 16 January 2005 (from slashdot).

Political Divisions Persist After Election: Nation Unsure, Hopeful About Bush, Poll Finds,” by Richard Morin and Dan Balz, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16073-2005Jan17.html, 18 January 2005 (from The Corner).

Amid the New York Times’ dishonesty

The C.B.O. assumes that the typical worker would invest half of his allocation in stocks and the rest in bonds. The C.B.O. projects the average return, after inflation and expenses, at 4.9 percent. This compares with the 6 percent rate (about 3.5 percent after inflation) that the trust fund is earning now.

The “trust fund”‘s 3.5 percent return is meaningless. Nyt is conflating two different types of returns. In the second sentence the CBO projection of an average adjusted 4.9% return is for a “typical worker.” The 3.5% adjusted return is for the trust fund as a whole. It ignores the effective return of a typical worker under the current social security return.

The number of workers per retiree has been steadily decreasing over the long haul, while the years worked before receiving benefits has been increasing (every modern worker will have paid into SS for his entire working life, while the first social security beneficiary worked only three years before collecting). So while the lock-box’s adjusted return has been relatively steady, each worker’s return has fallen from many tens of thousands percent to much, much less.

But Nyt’s faces an uphill battle in its propaganda

At a time when Democratic leaders are preparing to challenge many of Bush’s major initiatives, nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that Bush’s victory means that congressional Democrats should compromise with him — even if it means compromising on their party’s principles.

But by 54 percent to 41 percent, the public supported a plan that would include a reduction in the rate of growth of guaranteed benefits and private savings accounts financed with a portion of payroll taxes. A proposal with those elements is under consideration by the Bush administration.

Americans divide equally over Bush’s proposal to index Social Security benefits for future retirees to increases in the cost of living rather than to wage growth as is now the case, a change that would effectively mean benefits would be lower than currently projected. A clear majority of Americans — 55 percent — support the president’s proposal to allow younger workers to put some of their Social Security savings into stocks or bonds. When packaged together, the two components draw the support of 54 percent of those surveyed.

The survey suggests that Democratic leaders may be out of step with their rank and file on the severity of the problems facing Social Security. Those leaders are attempting to thwart Bush’s plans by saying there is no immediate crisis. But two-thirds of all Democrats said they worry that there is not enough money to keep Social Security funded until they retire.

Depending on how the question is asked, polls can give different results. And I believe President Bush is not inclined to follow popular opinion much, in any case. But it’s heartening to see that even with a formerly reputable paper like Nyt abandoning honesty, the President can, at least for now, count popular opinion as a friend.

Red State Welfare?

Community Development,” by Chad M. Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, http://www.cleancutkid.com/index.php?id=164, 18 January 2005.

Chad over at CCK criticizes Bush for allegedly cutting support to South Dakota, and other states

Bush’s plan would cut funding for the Community Development Block Grant program by up to 50%. That would translate into a $3.5 million loss of funding for community development in the state.

These grants were made for items such as water projects, waste treatment plants, ambulance and fire service, and employment services for disabled individual

I say “allegedly” because of Clean Cut Kid’s unreliable reporting of the facts. But let’s assume it’s true.

So what?

What right does one city have to loot the wealth of another? What right does one state have for welfare over another? There is a time and a place for public support of uneconomic institutions, but I am saddened that CCK’s support for sound budgeting collapses so easily.

The tDAxp eXPerience