XXXIX. on cultural isolationism

A short plugging of the American Conservative University Podcast, first, which is a fountain of knowledge. It is rarely “fair”, as “both sides of the argument” are not considered on much of the excerpts that the podcast publishes, but if you have an interest in truth and justice (and parenting. I am 24 and I’ve got a number of years before raising children, but I have listened to probably ten hours of parenting tips over the past few months just because they are so radical and intriguing), you should listen to the podcast.

Anyway, cultural isolationism in all forms is harmful to a people, a society, and ultimately all of civilisation. All cultures nowadays are amalgamations of a traditional essence of a people (of which there are many forms) and a massive number of borrowed traits. Most of the time these traits can be mixed up and switched out depending on their effectiveness. For example, if an immigrant to another country can swallow his pride enough to learn the language and culturally appropriate the mannerisms of that country, while also keeping his own culture in his heart, he is more likely to succeed in that new home (look at the Jews, the Chinese or the Lebanese). This is not to say that one culture in essence is better than another, just that there are more preferable and less preferable traits within those cultures, an understanding which is ignored or intentionally suppressed in modern society.

The data is out there—for anyone interested, please read Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective by Thomas Sowell—but I will give just one obvious example of cultural isolation: Spain translates more books into Spanish in one year than the sum of all the Arabic nations have translated books into Arabic in the last thousand years. This wide dispersion of culture teaches tolerance within western society over the past two hundred years has brought overwhelming equality, respect and insurmountable progress, things which a number of Arabic nations do not have, and even vehemently oppose. Nowhere is this clearer than in America, where positive cultural traits were adopted by all and negative traits were forgotten, in the Melting Pot, that experiment which has led to human prosperity, well-being and freedom the like of which no one on the Earth ever thought possible just one hundred years ago. The trick, which America (and all of humanity) is still learning, is how to know which cultural traits are good and which cultural traits are bad. The fact that there are drawbacks with this system (lost culture, diffusive minorities) does not always mean there is a better option.


XXXVIII. on changing conservatism

This post was conceived to be mainly about British politics, but really applies to conservatism everywhere. In short: America has saved the world.

At a medium length: the explosion of positive, fact-based conservatism that has arisen from America’s classic liberalism has created in the world a widespread revolution in conservative thinking. Conservatism in most places, Britain being my firsthand example, until very recently in history, meant royalism, elitism, and a return to class systems—the latter arising from the others; social mobility was very difficult if not impossible for most.

Then came liberalism, and the American way, and the Great Experiment, and individualism, and self-rule, and the world’s first modern republic arose. There were inalienable rights that were universal for all men (eventually). For a long time, rights were understood to be given to you by the king, or by the law, or by your keepers, but rarely by a creator (take from that what you will, of course). And then over the next two centuries, America, through agriculture and industry, became the greatest nation to have ever existed (in terms of economy, welfare, culture and militaristic benevolence).

Then Marxism gripped the world, or tried to, three or four times (1890s, 1930s, 60s, and now), and anti-historicity became the way of the world; what was old was unjust, and tried, and there must be something better. There was no individual, only community; no individual rights, only the welfare of the society. And this new idea was not conservative. In fact, somehow, it became liberal.

Over the years, then, classic liberalism became known in America as conservatism, and socialism became known as liberalism. American conservatism, in its best incarnations, is still as radical and moral as it was almost two hundred and fifty years ago; perhaps more properly seen as constitutionalism. And this conservatism, perhaps because of its historical context and economic validity, or perhaps because of its compatibility with other historical, economically valid principles: free market capitalism and freedom of the press, has gradually seeped into worldwide culture.

The royalism of old conservatism has receded into arguments about tourism, the elitism has become solidarity, and the class warfare has become class-blindness. At least in the modern strains of conservatism, those newer parties or those smarter leaders, those following the American brand, politics is being saved. My point becomes clear when we compare that to modern liberalism, where there are a number of truths that are not true: all royals are inbred and ancient: evil and corrupt, all elites are right-wing: they control the media, all the upper class are pigs: eat the rich. By these mantras and a few others, socialism is once again rearing its ugly head, but it seems that American values have safeguarded us to some extent, and may still yet save us.

XXXVI. on the Sino-British trade deal

The deal has been announced, a £40bn deal concerning exports, imports, £40bn, steel, nuclear power plants, worth £40bn. It is rumoured to be worth £40bn. The trade deal signed between Britain and China — between David Cameron and Xi Jinping — has just been announced, and it is given the value of forty billion pounds. Immediately, there are two obvious and ignorant questions posed to the P.M. for making this deal: 1) They are the bad guys, what about their human rights? 2) What about British industry?

1; their human rights record is atrocious; indentured servitude, widespread abuse, life is cheap, infamous working conditions. Mr. Cameron‘s own answer is valid — that you can have a trade deal while continuing a frank discussion about human rights — but truly, and perhaps callously, it is irrelevant. The question implies that we not only have a responsibility to improve their human rights that includes sacrificing our own country’s wealth, but also that their human rights problems are a black hole which cannot be fixed through friendship. Take Russia, for example; after the Cold War, with connectivity, the emerging market, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, their human rights have improved drastically. Now, most would argue that there is still room for improvement, but they are on the right track. The same will happen with China.

2; the understanding that economics is not a zero sum game goes some way to argue against this, but the main problem is our (ever increasing) minimum wage. Jeremy Corbyn made a fuss about this. British industry has been an impossibility for decades, now, even before Labour‘s insane push to try to prop the mining industry up. The bottom line is that industry will move forward, and if the law literally disallows the people of this country to compete with international labour costs, then unskilled industry will move forward without us.

XXXV. on tipping

I think the practice of tipping is generally good. When I have a sit down meal I always tip. There are times when I eat a meal and feel that my server has increased the value of my experience past what my money (to keep the restaurant and their job going) provides. In England in most restaurants a tip of probably 10% is most common. Some places declare that they charge a 12.5% service charge, mostly in London and big cities.

When it comes to America, though, I hear constantly that servers live off their tips, that their employer doesn’t pay them and so their tips are their only source if income. Now, as an outsider reading your law, it seems tips can only be used to offset the minimum wage, which employers still have to meet. It’s illegal for the restauranteur to only pay someone in tips unless the tips they make amount to more than minimum wage.

At least, that’s how it reads. Is it widespread practice for restauranteurs to break this law, age it goes unreported? Or is that not what people mean when they say that their employer doesn’t pay them?

Unskilled service is a hard job, but there are many hard unskilled jobs that earn minimum wage. And from personal experience in England, it is very easy to find a place to learn silver service, which pays upwards of £10 on ten hour shifts. (Once again, it is a very small percentage of people who earn minimum wage for a significant amount of time.)

Finally, about 40% of U.S.A. tips go undeclared as far as tax is concerned. I go back and forth on this, but at the moment I don’t think avoiding to pay taxes is an acceptable thing in the long run, either for personal gain or intentional sabotage of the state.

XXXII. on Donald Trump

All of the Trump hatred, Trump disdain, Trump denial and Trump confusion seems misguided. He is hated because he expressed certain opinions about girls and gays. I don’t think anyone against him has looked into these opinions. The disdain is a misunderstanding that he has no policies. I don’t know where this argument came from, but it is meaningless. If you are moving towards greatness, freedom, small government, then you need fewer policies, and you have to start chipping away at the monster. The denial is fun to watch, saying that he is a joke, meaningless, a fraud, just an egoist with no plan. These arguments again have no base, I think it’s mainly because they look into his political career and don’t find one. But is that a bad thing? He is playing the no backers card, and I don’t think that’s a gimmick. Cronyism is one of the massive problems in any society which has gradually bloated its government, recreating elitism. And when that happens to America, which was invented with very specific parameters to avoid that, it’s time for a change. The confusion gets to me a little, because it’s usually by smug, condescending intellectuals going down the How can they believe that? route. Look into what they believe and try to understand. And maybe then go to Friedman, Sowell, Hicks, Keynes, Smith. Try to understand Trump, and then vote for Cruz.

XIV. on the Laffer Curve

Prager University is a very pro-free enterprise thinktank, — read capitalist, greedy, rightwing, conservative, or whatever other buzzword you associate with that term — but the University of Chicago isn’t; this is a very interesting video that everyone should watch.

ADMISSION: My rendition of the economic principle, & the outcomes I draw from it, come from a very limited understanding of economics. I’m not unlearned, but I’m definitely not qualified to pass off what I say as fact. So I’d recommend just watching the video. . . .  / DISCLAIMER: I’ve done no research further than watching the video, reading some of the comments on that video, skimming the Romer & Romer paper online, & reading one other liberal review of the paper.

Anyway, if you can’t — or are not in the mood to — watch the video, the Laffer Curve is the relation between tax rates on a population & the amount of tax revenue received from that population. At 0%, the government receives £0 of the national income as taxes, and at 100%, there is no incentive to work, so the government eventually receives £0 as the national income of becomes £0. / All economists agree with this principle. The disagreement comes from where the hump sits. / For example, it would be to the Capitalist‘s benefit if the hump sat at 10%: — this would mean that if the government takes >10% of the national income as taxes, the government would begin to lose revenue. And it would be to the Socialist‘s benefit if the hump sat at 90%: — this would mean that the government can set taxes all the way to 90% of the national income and still continue to gain revenue.

The Romer & Romer paper, by leftist economists and commissioned and published by a leftist university (are there any that aren’t?) found that the hump is about 33%.

So, from what I can gather, technically, in a nation with a flat tax rate, it makes perfect sense; the 33% is the flat figure across all demographics that will give the government the most amount of money. BUT every country I know of employs a progressive tax rate, so depending on the bracket you fit into, it might be 50% for the high earners but only 20% for the low earners. So does the 50% cancel out the 20% and meet at 35% overall — almost perfect? It seems that this isn’t the case. What drives the drop in the Laffer Curve is lack of incentive to work. By taxing the high earners >50%, it gives people a smaller incentive to aim for that final tax bracket; and seeing as the richer people are, — & the higher the number of rich people is — the government suffers because the demographic suffers. / This would also happen if the low earners were taxed 50% and the high earners were taxed 20%. Because the majority of low earners are young people, or unskilled workers, it makes them less likely to enter the workforce.

CONCLUSION: If you are the biggest socialist ever, & want the biggest government possible, you should want a flat rate of tax at 33%. This means you should want the rich as well as the poor to be taxed 33%.

P.S. This is strictly talking about the money the government takes in, & not the growth of the economy. From other sources, — Britain in 1700s, the U.S.A. in 1800s, Israel in the 80s, Hong Kong, Russia after the fall of the U.S.S.R. — the ideal rate of government spending in respect of overall national income growth (and therefore government income growth, if that is actually important to you), has been about 10%.

Lower Taxes, Higher Revenue:

VIII. on anti-discrimination laws

In the last 5 years, out of about 500 cases of racial discrimination pertaining to employment disputes, only 3 have held up.

The non-verbatim quotation is from the B.B.C. Anti-discrimination laws, — like in America — do not help anyone in practise, make it harder for people of any race and gender to be hired, & ruin relations between staff. / Obviously I’m pro-Free Market, and wherever we’ve seen discrimination within the last fifty or so years, or wherever racism has come into public knowledge about any company or employer, they instantly get boycotted by everybody, not just those those racist or bigoted employers wish to ostracise. / Because people have become less bigoted overall, & if the race relations acts and the multiculturalism theories of the 90s and 00s have achieved anything, it’s at least to reduce stereotypes everywhere.

This is not to say that business prior to fifty years ago had an easy time of discriminating; in fact if a business owner wants to only employ (for example) straight cis white men, those white men will know that they can charge more for their work because their arsehole employer will employ only them. This will mean that their employer will lose money, be priced out of the market, — this has happened consistently throughout history in every sphere of business — & eventually that employer has to either change his hiring policy, resign and let someone better make those decisions, or they will go out of business (and the Free Market will be better off without them): this is not a naïve idea; this is a proven and inevitable economic pattern. / And that is without the effect of boycotts and peaceful protests by rational people, who should be legally allowed — and are morally obligated — to shame, boycott, protest, spread the word, campaign against, &c. bigots and racists.

People have changed, the human race has evolved into a better kind (at least the western world has), & I think these laws have always been counterproductive, but if I haven’t argued that, I think that they’re definitely outdated.