Saturday, October 29, 2005

The UN/France Wants to Control Culture

The UN moves the power of cultural evolution from the people to the state - Iran bans western movies.

I was browsing through (a Republican blog - or the Republican blog) and noticed this interesting piece of news:

"The United Nations cultural body adopted a treaty to protect and promote cultural diversity on Thursday despite opposition from the United States..."

During the last 100 000 years, cultural evolution has played a significant role in human "evolution". Biological adaptation is not needed because of our ability to create culture. Now a part of this significant power has been given to the UN. Why should any state, or some wannabe-world government, decide what's beneficial? Don't we (not the state) have the right to decide what we do with our cultures?

"The Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) overwhelmingly approved the accord, which supporters such as France say will help defend linguistic and cultural diversity from the negative effects of globalisation."

Negative effects of globalisation? Modern globalization (especially the cultural part) is based entirely on individual freedom. McDonalds won't show up in your country if there are no markets (free consumers willing to buy hamburgers) for its burgers. France thinks that this is a bad thing. After all - the people are too ignorant and uncivilized to decide what's good for them.

"The convention won the backing of 148 countries and was opposed by only two, Israel and the United States, at a UNESCO plenary meeting."

The quality of UN decisions is apparent if only two countries out of the whole bunch opposed the treaty.

"U.S. officials fear the treaty will restrict free trade and the free flow of ideas, but France hailed it as a victory that would help countries defend their national culture and arts."

In other words - France is worried that the people might not want the same things as the state does.

"It also sees the convention as a weapon to fight what many French people regard as a threat of American cultural domination and an onslaught of Hollywood films."

This "domination" wouldn't exist if the people didn't want to see American movies. The French obviously want to be in control of people's taste.

I choose not to see many Finnish movies because, based on my experience, the majority sucks big time. If a French consumer wants to see a Hollywood film rather than a French film, then who are we to say that the person is somehow wrong? Our freedom to choose and pick according to our taste should not be violated by any state - this should be incredibly obvious.

"'This is major progress in a world which must protect cultural diversity and organise a dialogue of cultures that respects all,' French President Jacques Chirac said in a written statement. "

Chirac is an idiot. This is about boosting the state's rights at the expense of an individual.

"France... subsidies the arts heavily and sets quotas on national and foreign films was a driving force behind the convention."

The Star

Iran bans western films


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Paul Wolfowitz Visits Finland to Speak for Globalization

Anti-globalist spews out a bunch of oh-so-typical rhetorical crap:

"Kaatosateesta huolimatta sadat mielenosoittajat vaativat tänään loppua köyhyydelle ja sodalle."

"In spite of rain, hundreds of protesters demanded an end to poverty and war".

The problem with their demands is that these anti-globalists have lost their touch with reality a long time ago. Trade liberalization, which they want to end (or severely limit - depends on who you ask), has so far been the only significant factor behind decreasing poverty rates across the globe. It's a fact that the poorest countries (Sub-Saharan Africa mostly) are also the least globalized and therefore - least liberalized. What's remarkable, is that capitalism could bring peace & prosperity even more efficiently than democracy does - 50 times more efficiently. A quote from Johan Norberg's site:

"When measures of both economic freedom and democracy are included in a statistical study, economic freedom is about 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict. The impact of economic freedom on whether states fight or have a military dispute is highly significant, while democracy is not a statistically significant predictor of conflict.

Nations with a low score for economic freedom (below 2 out of 10) are 14 times more prone to conflict than states with a high score (over 8). The overall pattern of results does not shift when additional variables, such as membership in the European Union, nuclear capability, and regional factors, are added."

Paul Wolfowitz's (the former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, now President of the World Bank) message has so far been that the first world should focus more on helping Africa - not by lending more money, not by providing financial aid and not by imposing trade tariffs but by liberalizing trade and ending agricultural subsidies and other protectionist policies. These are the things that hurt Africans (and us) the most. Agricultural subsidies are not needed. Protectionism is not needed - we should be the ones deciding what we want to buy and where and at what price. A McDonalds restaurant is not going to last long in Vietnam if the people don't want to eat there - but they do. It's no coincidence that the most prosperous African countries, Botswana & South Africa, are also the most capitalist. So it ends up being kinda ironic that these anti-globalists oppose the very things that would bring prosperity & peace to poor nations.

A part of the criticism that the Bank is getting is justified. For example - they lend money to almost anyone who dares to ask for it. This means that a lot of money is given to oppressive regimes. However, this is not the only reason why these hippies have gone out to shout against globalization.

And of course these hippies made a big deal out of the fact that Paul Wolfowitz was one of the key architects of the Iraq war. But what does that has got to do with his job as the head of the
World Bank? This is also known as "character assassination" - a tactic favored mostly by American Republicans.

I'm glad Wolfowitz paid us a visit. And I'm ashamed of some of my fellow citizens for acting like clows during his visit. Being an idiot might gather publicity - but not the kind of publicity you really wish for.

Poland: The wrong right-wing party won. Actually - many don't even seem to get it but liberals (or libertarians) are NOT right-wing. Right-wing means conservatism - a political ideology that in the west just happens to advocate free markets. In Finland, conservatism means (most of the time) advocating the state church (not a part of a liberal democracy), conscript military service (not a part of a liberal democracy) AND free (relatively) markets. Many libertarians want to see themselves outside of this whole right-wing left-wing kind of thinking.

The Wall Street Journal:

"Mr. Wolfowitz is willing to speak the truth to power. He saw earlier than most, and spoke publicly about, the need for dictators to plan democratic transitions. It is the world's dictators who are the chief causes of world poverty. If anyone can stand up to the Robert Mugabes of the world, it must be the man who stood up to Saddam Hussein."


Monday, October 03, 2005

O'Reilly - Poverty Under Clinton/Bush

Found this from "Talking Points", a daily "memo" by Bill O'Reilly, aimed at ignorant masses, by (which, I admit, is my homepage):

"And the poverty rate stood at 13.7 percent halfway through Clinton's tenure. It is 12.7 percent halfway through Bush's two terms."

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While O'Reilly is technically right he has to know that he's misleading his viewers by publishing these selected numbers. The US Census Bureau knows that poverty went down every year during Clinton's eight-years while it has gone up every year during Bush. Here's a graph from Census (modified a bit. Check the link below for the original version):

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Contrary to popular belief, Bush's tax cuts have benefitted the entire economy, not just the rich, and partly helped the country to recover from the recession that began after Clinton left. Unemployment rate is now below 5% and business is good. That, however, doesn't mean that O'Reilly, or any reporter, should use selected numbers to boost an agenda.

-Census (PDF)
-Talking Points