Diversity, Equality, and Bell Curves

July 16th, 2017

July 17, 2017

Warning: this blog is short and not sweet.

I wrote in my last blog, “equality has two faces. Our Declaration of Independence promised one—equal treatment under the law. Equality is good in that sense and necessary for profits and progress, but when the government mandates equality of talent, income, and wealth, as it does in Cuba, it is bad, bad for all.”

Diversity is a popular substitute for equality today. It also has two faces. Adam Smith, the godfather of capitalism, said we had to have three things for nations to get rich—free trade, private property, and diversity of talent. That is one face of diversity—the good one.

There is a bad face too. When this diversity side faces left today it means suppression of ideas and inefficient work: support for shouting down, and if necessary using violence, to silence libertarian and conservative speakers and professors at major colleges; leaders and followers in Citizens United, immigration, and anti-Trump protests; quotas in education (whether called that or not); “Black Lives Matter” protests; fake news and biased media stories; celebrity insults; biased stories on police and law enforcement crimes; gun restrictions; fierce opposition to vouchers in education by teachers unions and leftist media; affirmative action in employment, education, government, along with patronizing and pandering ads of non-profit and large corporation on TV and in print.

In other words the clergy, and the public they control, are committed in the US and Europe to equality (and diversity) in talent and numbers despite of the solid evidence that bell curves fairly, accurately, and clearly describe the very real differences in talents in all living things, groups, and subgroups of living things, which certainly includes human beings.

Only in sports is this science not followed. No one expects the NBA (or major colleges) to rigidly enforce affirmative action to get more white players on their basketball or other sports teams. Teams that did this might lose games!

Whether the bell curve differences are due to genetics or environment is not relevant. Differences do exist. Differences do show that blacks are dominant in basketball, track, and many other sports (as a 1992 movie put it, “White Men Can’t Jump”). I am sad and reluctant to point out, it also shows that lower-class blacks are likely to be on welfare and knee-deep into violence and poverty. (In so far as the environment is involved [and it is] we should not reinforce this bad version with bad programs—i.e., charitable aid to dependent families that ignores males and damning of police who are doing their best to pacify violent inner cities.)

Even more important, if we assume differences are all due to environment as the clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78 & 103) seems to believe, we are still faced with serious problems of inefficient work and its effect on individual and national wealth.

Nearly everyone today (mostly due to the Politically Correct media and advertisements) expects schools, businesses, employers, the courts, and the government to do so. And when they do effectively follow that advice—profits, wages for all, freedom, and pretty much all economic progress—suffers. Donald Trump for one suggests a different approach and is viciously attacked.

Obama and his wife Michelle, as well as many other very successful blacks, are the exceptions that prove the rule. The cry for affirmative action and diversity have no doubt helped capable blacks on the upper ends of bell curves. But the majority on the low ends of the bell curves for talents and has suffered in inner city slums.

As I wrote before, we should not, in any case, reinforce the tendencies for violence and poverty in this majority class. I humbly suggest that a wholesale expansion of social security (Guaranteed minimum income) might help (after all we all are handicapped in some way, shape, or form!) Intresting enough this possibility is now getting some news shows coverage so it may not such a long shot!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President (and sole employee), Hawkhill

P. S. For the minority who want to know more details on my journey through the ideas swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I seriously suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and slowly read any one of my three recent books—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.
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Cuba

July 9th, 2017

July 10, 2017

President Obama established official ties (Embassies and all) with Cuba in 2015.

a year before his term ended. In March 2016 Obama, with his family, visited Havana for two days. He was the first sitting U.S. President to visit since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. President Trump and the GOP-led Congress have not lifted the embargo, and are not likely to do so anytime in the future.

Jane and I also visited Cuba a few years ago when it was illegal to fly there from the US (we flew from Mexico). It was also illegal to spend US dollars in Cuba. (We did spend a few but not a lot.)

Our impressions will no doubt be different from the Obama family. We stayed in friendly citizen’s “bed & breakfast “ rooms for less than $20 a night. The beds were comfortable enough but the showers in the bathrooms left something to be desired. The showers were fitted with a Rube Goldberg type fixture to supply hot water. When we tried to turn it on sparks flew. We decided to stay dirty.

The Obama family of course had more luxurious quarters at the U.S. ambassador’s residence that is half the size of the White House “This is a place that was built to impress. It is one of the grandest diplomatic residences we have anywhere,” says John Caulfield, America’s chief diplomat in Cuba from 2011 to 2014. It sits on a 5-acre site in Havana that once featured a swimming pool and tennis courts. The upper level has four large bedrooms with private baths, among them the presidential suite. Obama, Michelle, their two daughters, and the first lady’s mother will stay there two nights.

Of course the Obamas could have stayed in tourist luxury at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski where the cheapest room is $440 a night (almost 30 times the monthly pay of any Cuban citizen). They also could have stayed of course in the Presidential Suite at $2,485 a night.

I learned that none of these tourist hotels or residences were built or remodeled by Cuban workers. Foreign craftsmen (mostly from France, Spain, or India) were paid an average of 1500 euros a month by the government to do the work (over thirty times what their Cuban counterparts would have made!).

Which brings up an interesting point about the respective efficiency of free markets and socialism. It also sheds light on the current minimum wage issue. There is a lot of goofing off in Cuba. Every worker in Cuba makes the same salary. When we visited it was the peso equivalent of $16 a month (probably slightly more now) whether you cleaned the floor or operated on a patient’s brain. One of our cab drivers had been a lawyer. He told us that he could make more money in tips than he ever made as a government lawyer. Doctors and other professionals often do the same.

You ask how could anyone survive much less prosper on that small amount of cash? The government gives many freebies.

Education through college and professional school is free. Health care is free. Rent, food, and heat/cooling, and transportation are all heavily subsidized—very close to free. People make do. No one gets rich, except the ruling clergy, but many of them are dedicated socialists so they choose on principle to live on pitifully small cash incomes.

This is not as hard as you might think because there is really not much to buy! The government owns all land, farms, houses, apartments, buildings, offices, and factories so you can’t buy property. There are severe shortages of most consumer goods like coffee, soft drinks, prescription drugs, aspirin, toilet paper, coffee shops, restaurants, cars, refrigerators, watches, TV sets, furniture, etc., etc. The Internet is not available for ordinary citizens. Books, magazines, and newspapers are censored or not available.

The government blames these chronic shortages on the US embargo. This is actually a good reason to abolish the embargo! It would deprive the Castro’s and their communist colleagues of the excuse and force them to confront the obvious fact that their system has failed.

What can we learn from Cuba’s failure?

For starters, we can learn that efficienct diversity, freedom, and creative science and technology are all essential to creating wealth. In fact the very year our nation was founded, an Enlightenment philosopher Adam Smith, pointed out they are the way, and really the only way short of theft and imperialist war, for individuals and nations to get richer.

We can also can learn that equality has two faces. Our Declaration of Independence promised one—equal treatment under the law. Equality is good in that sense and very necessary for profits and progress, but government mandating too much equality—of talent, income, and wealth—is usually bad. Bad for all.

For instance, leftists in this country, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are fond of claiming wealth never trickles down. How then can they explain countries that tried to make income and talent equal—like Cuba, North Korea, China under Mao, Venezuela today, and the Soviet bloc en masse yesterday—have all failed miserably? On the other hand, countries that allow, even encourage, diversity in income and talent, like China and India today and European countries in the past, have been successful. Even the poor and less talented have done relatively well.

As for minimum wage it is equally obvious. Why not increase it to $100 an hour or even $1000 an hour?

The answer is obvious—soon you will need a bushel basket of cash to buy toilet paper, aspirin, or an apple, if as in Cuba or North Korea, you can find any for sale!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President (and sole employee), Hawkhill

P. S. For the minority who want to know more details on my journey through the ideas swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I seriously suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read slowly—Twilight or Dawn: a Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.

Intellectuals, ghosts, sports, free spirits, fun, and children

July 2nd, 2017

July 3, 2017

I’m a sucker for flags and patriot days. So naturally, I love the 4th of July.

A good friend didn’t quite agree with my atheist-knocking-life-after-death blog, He emailed, “Although the majority of paranormal experiences are pure fiction, there is a small percentage, perhaps 1 to 2 percent that do appear to be supernatural, particularly clairvoyance and ghostly visitations. ”

I mailed back that Hamlet said much the same, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” I agree with Hamlet and Shakespeare.

Jane said it better in low fog prose. “Ghosts are sneaky.”

Patriotism comes this year with sad news. My beloved brother-in-law, Barney Otten, has died!

He was 92 so it is not a shocking surprise. Nevertheless it is a very sad event, especially for my younger sister Pat, his children and grandchildren, and his many friends and admirers. I remember well their wedding sixty or so years past and their reception in my parent’s home. Funny, it doesn’t seem all that long ago!

Pat and Barney seemed solid fixtures that would always be there. Pat will no doubt live on for more years but Barney is gone. Pat and her seven children and fifteen grandchildren (and four great-grandchildren!) will no doubt remember him and children and grandchildren will make up for the loss by having more children as countless ancestors have always done.

Barney was always deferential with me. Which bothered me a bit. After all, he was the college football star! He was also the father and loving mentor of seven talented and beautiful children. By all rights, I should have been the deferential one. I do have two fine sons whom I love dearly, but like Abe Lincoln, not a single grandchild!

I’m not sure where this blog is headed but I think it is in the direction of the inevitable conflict between people fascinated by intellectual ideas in history, philosophy, science, economics, and politics and people into small talk, puzzles, games, sports, babies, pets, puzzles, clothes, style, smart phones, personal photos (with lots of smiles and action), and free spirits, friends, charm, fun, and warmth. The truth is I like all of these things too. But I like ideas more!

Guess which side is the winner?

I have usually been on the losing side. I don’t do well with small talk and personal photos, but I do fine with gloomy (boring to many) philosophy, history, economic, and political talk—and, if need be, loud argument. I don’t go quite as far as W.C. Fields who once said, “Anyone who hates dogs and children can’t be all bad.” But close enough.

Sports can sometimes be a good compromise. Both sides can appreciate playing tennis, golf and going swimming and skiing, or watching football, baseball, basketball games and horse races.

Barney himself was himself a good athlete and he sired some fine ones. Two of his sons, Chip and Mike, were football stars at Bowling Green University. His other son, Danny, was a high school runner’s coach and ran himself in quite a few marathons.

Their five daughters were all athletic. Many won blue ribbons in swimming and gymnastics, and all were charming, free-spirited, and loving. As an aside, successful coach Barney was once fired for his too aggressive defense of women in athletics!

Chip followed his father in an outstanding coaching career. His high school football teams have won many Ohio State Championships! As Ohio football fans know this is no small feat.

One would think after such real-life success I should be the deferential one. But no, I’ll stick to my guns on the intellectual side and confess I do feel some sadness, and at times bitter regret and depression, that so few of my extended family have moved beyond the clichés of the lliberal clergy and understood the power and scope of my original ideas in history, economics, philosophy, science, sociology, and politics. As explored and explained in my books, blogs, and videos.

I admit this is not new. My growing up family was also more interested in style and sports than they were in ideas. My first wife, Virginia, was and still is a fine artist, but she has never been much interested in politics, history, economics, or philosophy. In fact, she was famous for using jokes to change the subject whenever social occasions veered too far in the heavy idea direction.

And then my second wife, Jane, as well as most of her family, can be caring, free-spirited, intelligent, charming, and fun. But she, and most of her children, don’t apologize for much but stay firmly on the non-intellectual winning side. In short, my families, both married and growing up, have much preferred sports, sex, children, friends, and fun to my specialty, what I consider the deeper waters of philosophy, history, economics, science, and politics.

I really shouldn’t complain since that my preference for ideas has served me well in my career and now in my old age. Like W.C. Fields and Abe Lincoln I admit that fascination with ideas sometimes brings with it bouts of depression! Even now it leads to loneliness. I don’t have many people I can discuss or argue with.

On the other hand, I can sit happily for hours on end in my wheelchair in front of my computer—researching, writing, and polishing my weekly blogs. I am also happy to report the readership of my blogs is slowly increasing! Other oldsters my age may languish in nursing or retirement homesnbeds sans sports, sex, children, pets, personal photos, clothes, style, puzzles, games, smart phones, charm, free spirits, friends, or fun i plan to continue my love affair with ideas.

Not a 100% win I grant you. But close enough!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President

P. S. For the minority who do want to know details on my journey through the philosophic and political idea waters from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I seriously suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read slowly—Twilight or Dawn: a Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, EEast Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.

Anti-Trump Hysteria

June 25th, 2017

June 26, 2017

“Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House,”—Sentiments of singer Madonna.

Comedian Kathy Griffin went further and held up a bloody head (fake) of President Trump on a CNN TV Special. (CNN fired her and she apologized. I note her video apology got half as many viewers as the original insult!)

“The catcher for the Republican congressional baseball team — watched his colleague Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, get shot on a practice baseball field in Virginia, while other lawmakers and aides scrambled for cover.”—News clip from Arlington, Virginia.

Johnny Depp asked jokingly, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” And then sure enough in NYC a modern dress version of Shakespeare has Trump knifed to death as a thinly disguised Caesar!This modern Clergy seem to have a knack for violence.

On top of that leftist pundit Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes in high-fog prose, “The bottom line is that a president of unprecedented incompetence is being enabled by a Congress of criminal complicity in an agenda of frightful destructiveness.”

Locally the city council president hurled “the cruelest cut of all” at our liberal mayor, “He was Trump-like!”

Trump is far from incompetent. He has made considerable money in his lifetime and he did win the presidency. Not small feats for an incompetent. I think Trump is also doing a decent job as president despite his harsh critics. He has a progressive agenda—putting America back to work by reducing the Green and social welfare roadblocks that brought unemployment and poverty to taxpaying workers.

I think the charge of too much friendship with Russians and Chinese is downright laughable. In my lifetime the left-liberal clergy has been only too cozy with Stalin (Uncle Joe as FDR called him), Lenin, Mao, Castro, and other socialist heroes. One of the clergy’s stars in the 1920s, the NY Times Lincoln Steffens, said of the Soviet Union, “I have seen the future and it works.” So now the NY Times and clergy are accusing Trump of being too cozy with Russia and China after both have given up on socialism!. Give me a break!

I think it all began in the 1960s with Vietnam, the Black Panthers, Weathermen, assassinations of King and the Kennedys, the anti-LBJ and anti-Nixon riots and protests. The mass of what I call now the left-wing clergy were in college then and bitterly resented Vietnam. “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?” was one of the milder insults thrown at the establishment!

The protestors are now the establishment (what I call the clergy, see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, 103). The journalists all want to be the next Woodward/Bernstein team to bring down a president.

Journalists and editors (and their young apprentices) are now making the high pay decisions for the NY Times, the Washington Post, the AP, and most newspapers, syndicates, magazines, TV networks, and publishers. Combined with most college professors and intellectuals, most artists and writers, most musicians and actors, most government bureaucrats an leakers, most public school teachers, most health professionals, most street activists, most social workers, most minorities, most immigrants legal and illegal, most celebrities, and most people dependent on government benefits (close to a majority today)—this modern clergy comes close to a majority). Yet somehow Donald Trump won the Presidency! How did he manage that?

He got the votes of the majority paying the bills—the taxpaying rich and taxpaying workers. (I’m aware that Hilary got a majority of the popular vote. The Democrats are firmly in control of the big cities and states where they can count on the overwhelming support of non-workers and the plentiful—and relatively rich—clergy.)

Take Noam Chomsky as an example. He is a well-paid Harvard professor and guru of intellectual Progressive/Greens. He is famous for extreme views. He says that the US is the world’s worst terrorist and he claims the US is always wrong.

Chomsky holds that WW2 left the US the world’s leader in nuclear arms and filthy rich corporations. He thinks the present regime wants to warm our planet, which will lead to the annihilation of most large animals like Homo sapiens. He thinks Donald Trump is the worst possible president (Chomsky thinks alternatives [except Bernie Sanders?] would be bad too.) No wonder the Democratic socialists—and some Republicans—follow Chomsky even though many do not recognize his name.

I don’t agree with him.

I think he and most of his Progressive/Green followers have a distorted view of history. They blindly accept the reactionary Agricultural Age meme that wealth is measured in land and resources (some would add diversity). Chomsky claims, “US corporations own 60% of the world’s wealth.” If that is true, how come China and India, the two largest countries and actually all countries on earth are able to get richer and poverty everywhere is declining? How come Japan, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Switzerland that have few natural resources and little diversity are so rich? Conversely, many countries in Africa and Asia have plentiful resources and much diversity are so poor?

Wealth in the Modern Age is not measured in land, resources, or diversity, but is dependent on efficiency and creativity, the very two things that Trump promised to favor.

Second of all Chomsky and the clergy accept at face value the views of many scientists that the planet is warming and that is certain to bring catastrophe. They also accept the views of leftist scientists like Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan that a nuclear war could wipe out the human species.

History matters—again. The Reformation’s Thirty Years War did wipe out a third of the cities and population of northern Germany. They recovered and the species survived. The Black Plague wiped out a third of the entire population of Medieval Europe and left it with a severe shortage of agricultural workers. This in turn led to the growth of science and technology in the Modern Age!

Mind you I’m not suggesting nuclear war or a return of the Plague would be good ideas! Nor am I suggesting we ignore the possible warming of the planet.

I am suggesting Chomsky and the clergy are prone to a great deal of exaggeration. They are also prone to a great deal of violence. Which is a big deal!

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President

History

June 18th, 2017

June 19, 2017

History has a bad rap. Henry Ford said, “History is bunk.” The philosopher Hegel agreed, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Huck Finn agreed, “by and by she let it out that Moses had been dead a considerable long time: so then I didn’t care no more about him, because I don’t take no stock in dead people.”

Many, if not most, people today would agree with Huck, Hegel, and Henry. Which is a shame. On the other hand, I claim we can learn a lot from the past. Not so much from the details that history buffs and professional historians are fond of but from the big ideas that have supported and dominated previous Ages. Specifically, the ideas we willy-nilly have inherited from past Ages—the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age and the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age that followed.

I summarized my speculations on a series if videos now available free on YouTube—Democray in World History and Democracy–the Basics.

Here are some highlights:

Part 1:  Democracy in the Ancient World.

Includes the nasty, brutish, short, and cannibal-filled lives of primitive tribal people on all continents in the Hunting/Gathering Age. This was the age when Homo sapiens evolved in competition with other omnivores, carnivores, and other members of the family Homo. The program also surveys the first attempts at democracy in the Agricultural Age of ancient Greece, Rome, and Medieval Europe, pointing out that they did have some features of democracy, but were forced to rely on serfs. peasants, or slaves to do the scut work.

Part 2: Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment.

A critical time for Modern Age> Democracy. Islamic and Jewish cultures were actually superior through most of the Middle Ages. Islam faltered and left it to Jews and Christians to pioneer the first steps in the democracy direction. A popular video that explains why the Enlightenment is so important to the founding of the USA and the Modern Age.

Part 3: The Industrial Revolution, Capitalism, and the United States of America

Gives a good summary view of why I, and others, look on this country as exceptional. Not because our citizens are better than other countries but because we founded and led the way into the Modern Age. I also claim this Modern Age is uniquely founded on three factors—science and technology, free-market Capitalism, and Freedom of (and from) Religion.

It also highlights the most important by far of the memes (cultural ideas, traits, behaviors, and beliefs) inherited from both the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age and the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age. This meme is now a reactionary view of wealth and resources as land and resources. It was true in hunting/gathering times where it led to constant wars between tribes to get and hold the better hunting and gathering land. It was also true in agricultural days for the similar obvious reasons. It led to countless savage bloody imperialist wars to gain resources like oil, gold, other minerals, and living space for expanding populations It is a very reactionary view in the Modern Age where wealth depends not on land and resources but on efficiency and creativity.

Part 4: The Communist Challenge

In the 19th century, Karl Marx saw capitalism as uniquely progressive and uniquely evil. Capitalists brought progress and wealth but to the owner bourgeoisie, not to the worker proletariat. In fact, Marx saw all history as a fierce struggle between evil owners and slave workers, and the workers would inevitably win. Later socialists like Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Bernie Sanders emphasized the evil (capitalist corporations) and neglected the progressive (growth). The result was a disaster in socialist countries in the 20th and the 21st centuries.

Marx was right about capitalism being a growth force but he grossly underestimated workers. Under the freedom of capitalism, workers did not revolt but instead used unions to get better wages than they ever dreamed of in socialist countries where unions were usually banned.

Part 5: The Fascist Challenge

Fascism, like Socialism, was started in Italy and was basically a heresy of Christianity—with charity for some but no god. The Nazis were also socialists at heart (Nazi is short for National Socialist German Worker’s Party). The Nazis did lead Germany to new heights of power, wealth, and order, but at a fearful price paid by Jews, gypsies, communists, handicapped and gays in concentration camps and then in the final solution—the Holocaust.

Part 6: Democracy in the 21st Century

Brings it all up to date and has recommendations for today.

There is also a popular series of videos, Democracy—The Basics. Six complete videos, one on the past and one on the present and future. All deal with my claim that the necessary basic building stones of Modern Age are three—Capitalism. Science, and Freedom of and from Religion.

Capitalism and Democracy

Many intellectuals will gag at the title because many look on socialism as a more fitting partner with democracy. I don’t.

As evidence, I cite China’s experience with both. I could list many other countries as well like the India, Venezuela, the Koreas, Brazil, Germany, Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam, Argentina, etc. All toyed with Marxist ideas. All failed with disastrous results for citizens—famines, massacres, and in general misery for all but the ruling class.

Mau Zedong, for instance, was an international hero, lived a rich life with great wealth, lavish protected villas, rich foods, and many concubines. The average Chinese paid dearly for this luxury with extreme poverty, famines, massacres, and bitter humiliations. It was much the same in Russia, Cambodia, India, Argentina, Venezuela, and Cuba. The intellectual rulers often did make a false show of fake frugal living for public consumption.

Since both China and India (and many smaller nations) have adopted free-market capitalism (in China’s case without changing the communist label) there indeed is more capitalist inequality but the increase in wealth actually does trickle down. All classes are getting richer. As Jane and I found on a recent visit. Peasants were not protesting but singing in the streets, “It’s great to be rich!”

Science and Democracy

One of democracy’s most important allies is science and technology. Learn how science and technology (like capitalism and freedom) is necessary for democracy but not sufficient. In Part One the early history of both science and democracy is traced on all continents. It stresses the importance of enduring ideas of the West that first arose in Greece, Rome, and Judeo-Christian memes. Part Two explains how these ideas were modified in the west’s Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment when modern experimental science was born.

Religion and Democracy

A critical time for Modern Age Democracy. Islamic and Jewish cultures were actually superior through most of the Middle Ages. Islam faltered and left it to Jews and Christians to pioneer the first steps in the democracy direction. A popular video that explains why the Enlightenment is so important to the founding of the USA and the Modern Age.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

P.S. For more details curl up, buy, and read—Twilight or Dawn: a Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs.”