Thursday, April 22, 2010

LaFeber's recipe for economic growth

In one of the most biased textbooks I have ever read, Walter LaFeber states the following in his America, Russia, and the Cold War:

5. Are the American people prepared for the post-Cold War world?
(...) The Soviet Union, after all, rotted from the inside out. On the other hand, Japan's and Germany's rise to economic power occurred because of their educated workforces, intelligent governmental guidance, ability to plan long-term and high savings rates (three to four times the rates of Americans) that catered money for investment rather than a towering consumer indebtedness.

Not a mention of free markets, only references to planning, guidance and having lots of intelligent people. If that's all it takes, then why exactly did the Soviet Union collapse? They had some of the best scientists in the world, free university education and a whole lot of planning. I guess their planning wasn't intelligent enough. The Soviet Union also had a high investment rate, with investments allocated by "intelligent" technocrats. And how did it turn out?

As for Japan and Germany, neither really managed to plan long-term. The Japanese government got so entangled in subsidizing its enterprises that when the time came to pull the plug, they couldn't, as a result of which Japan has had two lost decades. Germany has been liberalizing its economy precisely because some of the welfare state policies it adopted are not sustainable in the long run. When these two economies grew the fastest after the war, it was in large part thanks to catching up after being torn to pieces by years of war. Compared to the rest of the world, their economies were still overwhelmingly liberal (as in free). The fact is that both countries would have witnessed similar, maybe even much higher, growth rates if their governments had simply kept their hands off. This is the recipe that allowed the West to rise above the rest of the world in the first place, long before anyone even dared to mention "public education".

Praising education as some Holy Grail is dangerous; it sends governments on a wild-goose chase, as if educating the people of Africa somehow could bring about an economic miracle. Don't forget that our comprehensive public education system appeared relatively late, decades after we had shed ourselves of extreme poverty that so plagues the (un)developing world.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Church of Immorality

Vatican's record of immorality spans for a hefty 1700 years. These days theVatican is kept in check thanks to the fact that it happens to exist in the middle of a civilized world. Unlike people in the Middle East, we don't allow totalitarian and evil institutions to run the show.

One of the most distinguishing features of the Catholic Church is clerical celibacy which is based on the sick view on human sexuality presented in the Bible, the idea that sexuality is wicked (or should at least be considered a necessary evil) and should be suppressed.

Suppressing sexuality is of course as unnatural as it gets. The constant barrage of news stories exposing clerical paedophilia merely demonstrates this and that it is not worth trying(unless you're a pedophile, in which case you should consider castration). Don't get me wrong: it is not a bad thing that religious extremists refrain from participating in reproductive activities. If anything, clerical celibacy should be celebrated if it worked. It, however, does not.

Now that the Church is once again under paedophilia charges, it is acting exactly the way it's been acting for the past two millennia, with one exception. The history of the Church is filled with anti-Semitism and downright persecution of Jews but here, in the 21st century, the Church is now identifying with the people it has been persecuting for millennia.

And as for how the Church is acting like it's business as usual, well, now they're blaming sodomites for the rampant wave of paedophilia within the Church:

“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia,” [Cardinal Tarcision Berdone] told a news conference in Santiago.

If there is a link between homosexuality and paedophilia, it is the same link that links Catholic priests to paedophilia: suppression of human sexuality. Rather ironic then that it's largely thanks to the Catholic Church that homosexuals have been forced to suppress their sexuality for two millennia now. Moreover, holding homosexuality responsible for paedophilia is like holding heterosexuality responsible for rape in general (well, sexuality is to blame but that's not a very fruitful argument). Apparently the Church considers the "sodomite card" useful now that they can no longer blame the Jews for everything.

So, the Catholic Church seems more than willing to continue its track record of immorality and depravity which, for a religious institution, is just business as usual.

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