In Praise of Jeff Bezos


In Praise of Jeff Bezos
by Sean Gabb
21st July 2018

Jeff BezosAccording to a report on the BBC website, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the richest man in the world, with an alleged personal fortune of £113bn. The usual suspects have raised their arms in outrage at the news. Oxfam drew fresh attention to its report from 2017, in which it called “for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.” A few weeks earlier, The Guardian had lamented:

Amazon’s website is, in the west, the dominant platform for online retail sales…. This is bad for democracy. Commerce ought to reside in markets governed by regulations set by democratic political process not those chosen by the world’s richest man, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos.

My view is that Mr Bezos, together with Bill Gates and various other people whose names it will be briefer to let my readers guess than for me to enumerate, is one of the greatest men alive. He has increased the wealth and happiness of countless millions. He is helping to bring into being a world that, just one generation ago, the boldest science fiction writers were cautious to describe. He has earned every penny of his great fortune. Read more

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Economic Myths #7 – Government means Harmony


One of the aspects of capitalism and the free market that the typical lay person finds difficult to comprehend is the fact that the complex structure of work, production, distribution, and trade could possibly take place without some kind of centralised, directing authority in order to co-ordinate everybody’s efforts. Wouldn’t there just be chaos and mal-coordination with everyone trying to make their own, independent plans if there is nobody at the tiller to steer the giant ship?

This fallacy stems from the belief – accentuated by holistic concepts such as aggregate, pseudo-statistics like “GDP” or “the national income” – that what we refer to as “the economy” is some kind of enormous machine that has “input”, with a single operator “processing” these “inputs” into “outputs”.

In fact, rather than being one giant, amorphous blob “the economy” is made up of millions and millions of independent, unilateral acts of production and two-way trades, many of which will never have anything to do with each other. I may sell an apple to my neighbour for 10p in London; another person may sell an orange for 20p to his neighbour in Manchester. Neither of the two pairs of people has ever met, nor need any of them have any involvement with the exchange of the other pair; and yet both exchanges would be regarded as part of “the British economy” in mainstream discourse. Read more

Lies About Putin, Syria And The Alawite Alliance


By ilana mercer

On just about every issue, in 2016, candidate Trump ran in opposition to Sen. Lindsey Graham. Donald Trump won the presidency; Lindsey Graham quit the race with a near-zero popularity, as reflected in the polls.

The People certainly loathe the senator from South Carolina. A poll conducted subsequently found that Graham was among least popular senators.

No wonder. Graham is reliably wrong about most things.

But being both misguided and despised have done nothing to diminish Sen. Graham’s popularity with Big Media, left and right. Thus were his pronouncements accorded the customary reverence, during a July 10 segment, on Fox News’ “The Story.”

Which is when he told anchor Martha MacCallum that, “Putin is not doing anything good in Syria.”

Then again, Lindsey is being consistent. The revival of “one of the world’s oldest Christian communities,” in Syria, is not something the senator we’ve come to know and loathe would celebrate.

It’s true. “A new Syria is emerging from the rubble of war,” reports The Economist, a magazine which is every bit as liberal and Russophobic as Graham and his political soul mate, John McCain, but whose correspondents on the ground—in Aleppo, Damascus and Homs—have a far greater fidelity to the truth than the terrible two.

“In Homs, …  the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street.” ‘Groom of Heaven,’ proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. And, in their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise Mr. Assad for saving … the Christian communities.”

Don’t tell the ailing McCain. It’ll only make him miserable, but thanks to Putin, Assad “now controls Syria’s spine, from Aleppo in the north to Damascus in the south—what French colonists once called la Syrie utile (useful Syria). The rebels are confined to pockets along the southern and northern borders.”

“Homs, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Mr. Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities.” (“How a victorious Bashar al-Assad is changing Syria,” The Economist, June 28, 2018.)

A Christian teacher in Homs rejoices, for she no longer must live alongside neighbors “who overnight called you a kafir (infidel).”

The teacher’s venom is directed at John McCain’s beloved “rebels.” Internet selfies abound of McCain mixing it up with leading Sunni “rebels,” against whom Putin and Bashar al-Assad were doing battle. Who knows? McCain may even have taken a pic with the infamous “rebel” who decapitated Syrian Franciscan monk Father Francois Murad.

Ignoramuses McCain and Graham had both urged the US to send weapons to the “rebels”—even as it transpired that the lovelies with whom McCain was cavorting on his sojourns in Syria liked to feast on … the lungs of their pro-Assad enemies. A devotee of multiculturalism, Lindsey could probably explain the idiosyncratic cultural symbolism of such savagery.

Infested as it is by globalist ideologues, the permanent establishment of American foreign policy refuses to consider regional, religious, local, even tribal, dynamics in the Middle East. In particular, that the “good” guys in Syria—a relative term—are not the Islamist “rebels,” with whom the senior Republican senator from Arizona was forever frolicking; but the secular Alawites.

You likely didn’t know that Alawites like al-Assad also “flinch at Shia evangelizing. ‘We don’t pray, don’t fast [during Ramadan] and drink alcohol,’ says one.”

Under Putin’s protection, the more civilized Alawite minority (read higher IQ), which has governed Syria since 1966, is in charge again. Duly, reports the anti-Assad Economist, “Government departments are functioning. … electricity and water supplies are more reliable than in much of the Middle East. Officials predict that next year’s natural-gas production will surpass pre-war levels. The railway from Damascus to Aleppo might resume operations this summer. The National Museum in Damascus, which locked up its prized antiquities for protection, is preparing to reopen to the public.”

Good thinking. The “rebels” would have blown Syria’s prized antiquities to smithereens.

Given that Islamists are not in charge, the specter of men leaving their women and fleeing Syria has had an upside. Syrian women dominate the workforce. Why, they’re even working as “plumbers, taxi-drivers and bartenders.” Had Sen. Graham, his friends the “rebels,” and their Sunni state sponsors won—Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—would this be possible? Turkey is currently sheltering “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group linked to al-Qaeda, and other Sunni rebels.”

Aligned against the Christian-Shia-Alawite alliance are Israel and America, too. They’ve formed a protective perimeter around rebel holdouts.

Before the breakthrough, when Sunni rebels were gaining ground, Syria’s “women donned headscarves,” and “non-Muslim businessmen bowed to demands from Sunni employees for prayer rooms. But as the war swung their way, minorities regained their confidence.” “Christian women in Aleppo [now] show their cleavage, the internet is unrestricted and social-media apps allow for unfettered communication. Students in cafés openly criticize the regime.”

Contra the robotic sloganeering from Lindsey, Nikki Haley and the political establishment, Russia has been pushing Bashar al-Assad to open up Syria’s political process and allow for the revival of “multiparty politics.”

Alas, the once bitten Assad is twice shy. His attempts, a decade ago, to liberalize Syrian politics resulted in the ascendancy of Sunni fundamentalism, aka Lindsey Grahamnesty’s rebels. (The nickname is for the Republican senator’s laissez-faire immigration policies, stateside.)

As has Russia called “for foreign forces to leave Syria,” Iran’s included. Iran commands 80,000 Shia militiamen in Syria. “Skirmishes between the [Iranian] militias and Syrian troops have resulted in scores of deaths. Having defeated Sunni Islamists, army officers say they have no wish to succumb to Shia ones.”

It all boils down to national sovereignty. So as to survive the onslaught of the Sunni fundamentalist majority, the endangered Alawite minority formed an alliance with the Iranian Shia, also a minority among the Ummah. Now, civilized and secular Syrians want their country back. In fact, many Syrian “Sunnis prefer Mr. Assad’s secular rule to that of Islamist rebels.”

***

ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Economic Myths #6 – Price Stability


One of the mandates that our economic lords and masters have arrogated for themselves is that of maintaining so-called price stability, a constant purchasing power of the monetary unit in our wallets.

At first blush, price stability sounds rather appealing – not only does it “bless” us with the apparition of certainty but are we not also “protected” by the potential of higher prices in the future? If so we can assure ourselves that our cost of living will be sustained and manageable, relieved of the horror that the essential consumables may some day be out of our reach.

Unfortunately this ambition is not only disastrous for a complex economy but is also antithetical to the nature of human action in the first place. The whole purpose of economising action is to attempt to achieve more for less – to direct the scarce resources available to their most highly valued ends and to gain the highest possible outputs with the lowest possible inputs. In short, economic progress means that we are gradually able to attain more and more for the same amount of labour; or, to put it another way, we could attain the same quantity of goods for a lower amount of labour. Any consistent attempt to stabilise the prices in the economy would not only target the goods that we buy with our money but also the goods that we sell – and that, for most of us, means our labour! But if we cannot sell our labour for any more and if we cannot buy our wares for any less then it means that we will simply be locked into a repetitive cycle of working, buying, consuming and working again for the same prices for the whole of our lives with no improvement in the standard of living whatsoever. Instead of economic progress bringing goods at cheaper prices to the lowest earners, the only way to improve one’s wellbeing in such a world would be to become a higher earner – i.e. by working harder or longer. Read more

Separated From My Child—And Nobody Cares


By ilana Mercer

The late Charles Krauthammer was right about the rules of good writing. The use of the first-person pronoun in opinion writing is a cardinal sin.

To get a sense of how bad someone’s writing is count the number of times he or she deploys the Imperial “I” on the page. Krauthammer considered a single “I” in a piece to be a failure.

Use “I” when the passive-form alternative is too clumsy. Or, when the writer herself has earned the right to, because of her relevance to the story. (The story itself, naturally, should have relevance.) The second is my excuse here.

As a legal immigrant to the U.S., now an American citizen, I have a right to insert myself into the noisy narrative.

As a legal immigrant who was separated from her daughter, herself a legal immigrant, the onus is on me to share a scurrilous story that is part of a pattern:

America’s immigration policy—driven as it is by policy makers and enforces—exalts and privileges those of low moral character. It rewards law-breakers, giving them the courtesy and consideration not given to high-value, legal immigrants.

The same U.S. immigration law enforcers who cater so kindly to each illegal immigrant—the kind that is a drain on the country and has no right to be in the country—stripped my daughter of her American permanent residency privileges.

A young person travels alone and gets bamboozled at the border-crossing in Blaine, Washington State. So, they strip her of her green card.

That’s our immigration story.

My girl was studying in Canada. She got intimidated at the border and gave the wrong answer to her petty American inquisitor. So, she was quick-marched into a small booth and peppered with more questions meant to terrify.

With an intimidating display of machismo, the burly men of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bullied a young girl into relinquishing her right of permanent residency (also the road to citizenship).

La Bandida was at bay. America was finally safe.

More fundamentally, hers was not an ill-gotten green card.

The principal sponsor, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, had entered the US on an O-1 visa. Unlike the H-1B visa, the 0-1 visa doesn’t replace Americans; it adds to them. For it is granted to those with “extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics.” The O-1 necessitates “a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.”

Not by deceit did my child gain her green card. But by deceit is how the swarms on the border will get theirs. The squeaky wheels squatting on the southern border, funneled daily into the interior to create facts on the ground, are not refugees or legitimate asylum seekers. Rather, they are merely from what President Trump has termed “s–thhole countries.” By that criteria, Americans could be forced to welcome the world.

A refugee, conversely, is an individual who is persecuted on the basis “of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Like my South-African compatriots, who, every day, are culled like springbok in a hunting safari. But for South Africans, U.S. refugee and immigration authorities reserve their unalloyed prejudice.

Let’s be realistic. Aside from their demands, the hordes on the Southern border have nothing to offer the commonwealth.

Back to la bandida. Was my daughter allowed a phone call to her parents? No! What about access to an immigration attorney? No!

A well-behaved, legal resident, who did not enter the USA to cause trouble, this young lady obeyed the laws of the country. She did not defy its enforces. Timidly, she accepted her lot.

Our daughter had her hard-won green card stripped by state bullies because she gave the wrong answer to a trick bureaucratic question.

Her case, no doubt, was further hindered by the fact that she simply was not a sympathetic “type.” After all, she speaks good English, was attached to productive people, residing lawfully in their own home in the U.S., mere hours away. And she is not of a more exotic persuasion. At least not visibly so.

No, not simpatico at all.

So, she was tossed out of the United States of America like so much … white trash.

I hazard that had my daughter spoken in tongues or rendered a “good” Pidgin English; had she cried, created a scene; called for the presstitutes and the immigration advocates—she’d have “passed” with flying colors and would have been sent on her merry way.

It’s as though people of early American probity, to paraphrase writer Mary McGrory, are carefully and purposefully weeded out by contemporary America’s immigration policies and policy makers. (Until Trump.)

Indeed, we South Africans are just not part of the “multicultural noise machine,” now sitting on the southern border seething with rage, poised to make common purpose with America’s professional merchants of racial hatred.

We are not pushy. We do things the right way. And we swallow the pain and indignity.

All this was in 2006 or thereabouts, shortly after the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) changed its name to USCIS. Only now, in 2018, has mother (me) been able to “share my story.” (There’s another vernacular tumor that should be excised by all decent editors.)

“Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” roared George W. Bush, at the time.

El presidente forgot to mention that family values do stop with the decent, documented residents of the United States.

**

ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Anti-Leftism: A Century of Failure


Anti-Leftism: A Century of Failure
Sean Gabb
7th July 2018

This Book is Free
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I am currently preparing another book of essays by my late friend Chris R. Tame. He was an accomplished bibliographer, and I have been slowed down in publishing his book by the need to type in hundreds of references scribbled over the hard copy. This has reminded me of the immense body of literature produced on our side between about 1930 and 1990. University professors, university journals, policy institutes lavishly funded by big business, economists, historians, philosophers, historians, sociologists, political scientists, journalists – no criticism in this period that could be made of the managerial state was left unmade. In writing his essays, Chris ran over whole libraries of books and articles. I read many of them when I was younger, and was convinced. Read more

Economic Myths #5 – Banking is Capitalist


By both mainstream economists and the general public the cycle of “boom and bust” is believed to be a tendency inherent in any capitalist economy. The fact that the latest of such cycles, beginning in 2008 (and arguably not having ended), originated in the banking sector and that large banks and bankers ratcheted up huge earnings and bonuses only to cause disaster has implicated banking as representative of the very worst aspects of capitalism – the epitome of uncontrollable greed that ends in catastrophe.

Unfortunately this popular view of the mainstream could not be further from the truth. In fact, with its intimate ties to the state and its special, legal privileges it is hard to imagine a less capitalistic industry than banking. Part of the deception – wilfully inflamed by politicians and their lackeys – is one that engulfs other industries subject to state meddling such as utilities markets. This is the belief that, simply because the participants in the industry in question are private individuals or entities that are not officially part of the state, the enterprise must be classified as part of the free market and saddled with all of the supposed flaws of that system. Very often, however, private companies and brands are simply the public facade of what is essentially a state owned operation or state controlled cartel. Read more

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