Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2018

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 242 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’re doing pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

A lot’s been written around the Web about today, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with something that I think symbolizes the best of the “Spirit of 1776:” new American citizens being sworn in at naturalization ceremonies across the country.

Welcome, fellow Americans! 

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks. 

UPDATE: Historian Victor Davis Hanson, as always, puts it better than I:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1864 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Note: This is an updating of a post I made years ago for this holiday.

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Two Heartening Responses to Seattle’s Self-Destructive Tax Grab

May 4, 2018

There’s hope for Seattle, yet.

International Liberty

I wrote last July about how greedy politicians in Seattle, Washington, were trying to impose a local income tax.

That effort has been stymied since there’s anti-income-tax language in the state constitution (Washington is one of nine states without that punitive levy), but that doesn’t mean the city’s tax-and-spend crowd has given up.

There’s a proposal for a new scheme to impose a “head tax” on successful companies.

The top three percent of the high grossing businesses in Seattle will carry the load of Seattle’s proposed employee head tax. Backers are calling it the “Progressive Tax on Business.” The tax will apply only to those companies with $20 million or more annually in taxable gross receipts as measured under the City’s Business and Occupation tax. The city estimates that will be 500 businesses. …the tax is based on total revenues and not net-income. …Councilmember Mike Obrien has been pushing…

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243 years later, the shot heard round the world still echoes

April 19, 2018

(This is a re-posting of something I wrote in 2009, in honor of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If, however, you want to read an account of the bloodiest battle of that day and its all too human cost, read about the fight at Metonomy.)

I’m a bit red-faced Blushing that it took a British blog to remind me that today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, generally regarded as the opening skirmish of the American Revolution. Tory Historian points out that both sides claimed victory, but perhaps I can be forgiven a bit of national pride for arguing that we won on points: the advance column withdrew under fire and was considering surrender when it was rescued by Percy’s brigade. General Gage then found himself besieged in Boston. Flag

Regardless of any “Monday-morning generalship,” it is fitting that the anniversary comes just a few days after the Tax Day Tea Parties, a genuine grassroots movement that organized itself to protest Washington’s mad plans to borrow and spend like drunken sailors on pay day — and, inevitably, to make us pay for it all with ruinous taxation.

In 2009, just as in 1775, popular sentiment erupted to send distant masters a message. Thankfully, this time, shots weren’t needed, but the point was made just the same: Don’t tread on me.

treadflag

To update it for the current day, “President Trump” is what you get when the ruling caste spends years not really listening to people: they were trod upon, and the people bit back.

 


More Dishonest “Poverty” Research that Doesn’t Measure Poverty

June 25, 2017

Key point: “A country where everyone is impoverished will have zero or close-to-zero poverty because everyone is at the median income. But as I’ve explained before, a very wealthy society can have lots of “poverty” if some people are a lot richer than others.”

International Liberty

I periodically share data showing that living standards are higher in the United States than in Europe.

My goal isn’t to be jingoistic. Instead, I’m warning readers that we won’t be as prosperous if we copy out tax-and-spend friends on the other side of the Atlantic (just like I try to draw certain conclusions when showing how many low-tax jurisdictions have higher levels of economic output than the United States).

I’m sometimes asked, though, how America can be doing better than Europe when we have more poverty.

And when I ask them why they thinks that’s the case, they will point to sources such as this study from the German-based Institute of Labor Economics. Here’s some attention-grabbing data from the report.

The United States has the highest poverty rate both overall and among households with an employed person, but it stands farther away from the other countries on its in-work…

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Study: California once had 150 straight years of stormy, wet, weather

June 21, 2017

They’re right. If this happened now, the Green Cult would blame this on the dread demon Carbon Dioxide.

Watts Up With That?

From Vanderbilt University and the “yes, but if it happened today, it would be blamed on global warming” department.

Wet and stormy weather lashed California coast… 8,200 years ago

First high resolution evidence of California climate response to Holocene 8.2 ka event

The weather report for California 8,200 years ago was exceptionally wet and stormy.

That is the conclusion of a paleoclimate study that analyzed stalagmite records from White Moon Cave in the Santa Cruz Mountains published online Jun. 20 in Scientific Reports.

The Golden State’s 150-year stretch of unusually wet weather appears to have been marked by particularly intense winter storms and coincides with a climate anomaly in Greenland ice cores first detected in 1997. Before this “8.2 ka event” was discovered scientists thought the world’s climate had been unusually stable during the Holocene, the geological epoch that covers the last 11,700 years of Earth’s history.

This image…

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(Video) VDH on why we fought in Vietnam

May 29, 2017

Another video for Memorial Day. In this case, it’s not America’s Forgotten War, but the war America would like to forget: the Vietnam War. Historian Victor Davis Hanson explains why we fought there and how we lost:

Over the past several years, the reading of recent revisionist histories of the war have convinced me that, for all the domestic turmoil we experienced, we threw away a won war in 1974-75 and that, as I’ve long suspected, following a strategy similar to what we pursued in the second part of the Korean War might well have preserved South Vietnam as an independent state. As Dr. Hanson mentions, our failure to do so had terrible repercussions in Vietnam and in Cambodia.

A parallel with Iraq also inevitably comes to mind: as did Nixon in Vietnam, the Obama administration inherited a divisive war, but a war that was being won. All that was needed was to show endurance and political will to secure the peace. And, again -though not for the same reasons- we failed to do either.

Both conflicts show the need for the United States to come up with a coherent political strategy to secure the victory after we’ve won on the battlefield. We’re great at the latter, but, since Korea, we’ve been terrible at the former.

And Memorial Day is a good day to remind ourselves of the need to fix that, so that the sacrifices of the honored dead aren’t wasted.


(Video) Memorial Day and America’s “Forgotten War” in Korea

May 29, 2017

korean war

The Korean War (1950-53) is sometimes called America’s “Forgotten War,” the one that came between our crushing victory in World War II and the turmoil of our defeat in Vietnam.

It’s forgotten in part because its results were, at first glance, inconclusive: the North Korean regime survived, and the war was suspended in a ceasefire. In other words, a “draw.”

I’ve argued before that this is an incorrect way to view the war. True, we failed in our initial objective: to liberate all the Korean peninsula. But our later goal, the survival of the South Korean state, turned into a good few could have anticipated. Since the war, South Korea has become a prosperous democratic nation and a close ally of the United States. So, while we didn’t achieve all our war aims, it’s hard not to call this “victory.”

North Korea, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the phrase “Hell on Earth.”

For Prager University, historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) looks at the Korean War and offers not only the same reasons I adduce to call it a win, but also points out why it was an intensely moral fight on the part of the US and its allies:

The Korean War, and the men who fought it, should never be forgotten.

(Reposted in honor of Memorial Day)

Footnote:
(1) One of my intellectual heroes.