by Barry King, 4 Sept. 2016
The sad thing about the high cost of the appetite of American lawyers for their made-in-the-USA multi-million dollar "liability" lawsuit settlements, is that the true cost of that addiction, to Americans and to the world, lasts for decades after the fact.
The short list of "made in the USA" products that can be found now in Africa includes most of the airplanes that I fly, which were built by Cessna in Wichita, Kansas. But most of those, like most airplanes worldwide, are more than 30 years old.
This year we reach the 30th anniversary of the year (1986) when greedy lawyers and unions, and their political allies in the USA, accomplished what the Germans and Japanese could not do in WW2, and the Russians could not do in the cold war. The American left's raid against Americans managed to shut down light aircraft production in the USA, and to keep it shut down for the 12-year period 1986-1998. That's how long it took to get the barely-adequate reforms into place.
by Barry King
Crazy about "rights" in the USA: OK, so you find certain rights (real rights, without scare quotes) occasionally inconvenient, even though they are established in the text of our founding documents. Such as: the rights to life, to bear arms, to free speech, and to religious liberty. I get that. They are inherently controversial, always were, still are. That's why the list is so short and why it was so carefully considered, and is in the Constitution and Declaration, rather than in easily changeable law. (At least until the SCOTUS gets started on indefinitely expanding it according to modern preferences and fads.)
But I don't get this: what makes a long and growing list of individual preferences worthy to be called "rights", worth fabricated outrage, petitions, boycotts, blacklisting, cancellations, and protests? What are the motivators for that? Are you bored, self-indulgent, lost in Maslow's hierarchy, or nostalgic for the era of real civil rights issues?
What are you going to do when the guy who demands his "right" to use the girls' shower according to his preference, meets the girl who demands her "right" not to have her stress triggers pushed by meeting a guy in her shower, because that is her preference? Are you going to boycott / blacklist / fire both of them? Are you going to call for opposing groups of protesters to face off against each other in the streets? That's not a recipe for "diversity" or peace or civility, it's just a recipe for a pointless civil war.
by Reid Fitzsimons
Back in the early to mid-70s, flowing in on the social/political/economic tides of what recently preceded it, there was a TV ad I recall these 40-odd years later. Some casually dressed middle-aged white guy was sharing his angst and anger over the state of breakfast cereal, something like, “Do you know what most cereal tastes like these days? I’ll tell you what- CARDBOARD!” His feigned outrage was almost palpable. The post-Earth Day product he was hyping was a granola cereal, which was becoming quite the thing at the time. Every once in a while, when I see Bernie Sanders, I think of this ad.
“You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants when children are hungry in this country,” Sanders said during CNBC interview in late May 2015 in the early days of his run at the Democratic nomination. This intellectually callow statement appropriately garnered some scornful commentary, but I enjoy the image of some Sanders contemporary, a baby-boomer 60s radical who pleasured himself with dope a little longer than he should have, thinking “Like, wow man, that’s so profound, like rich people putting money in their arm pits when, like, kids are starving, it’s like a bummer.” Like many people, I’m not sure what the proper number of spray deodorants in society should be but I do worry a little about a potential president who suggests he has such knowledge. I also question the hungry children component of his declaration. ...continue reading
by Barry King
Cuban refugees in the USA, who fled Communist violence in Cuba via boats headed for the Florida coast, are emphatically not Communists. Most of them are strongly anti-Communist, and its not hard to see why, if you pay attention to their stories. Something similar may be said of those who managed to climb the Berlin Wall from East to West, and survived. That dynamic helps explain why, during the proxy version of the Cold War fought in Congo during the 60s, there were Cubans on both sides. Cuban-Cubans and Argentinean-Cubans (like Che, though his ancestors were Catalan and Irish) fought on the rebel side as Soviet proxies, while Cuban-Americans fought as proxies of the west. And of course, most of the suffering and dying was done by Congolese people caught in the crossfire, or as proxy victims of the proxy warriors.
On the other hand, refugees now fleeing to Europe from Islamic-State-sponsored violence in the Middle East, appear to be, predominantly, still Muslims.
It wonders me: why is there that difference in how that dynamic works in different cases? I suppose it might have to do with different malleability of religious world-views v. political world-views. But then, Communism was / is quasi-religious, and ISIS-variety Islam is profoundly political. Anybody have any ideas about this?
Here's a link to some stories, photos, and videos about Cuban-American pilots in Congo:
by Reid Fitzsimons
Recently returned from a short project session deep in the jungles of Honduras, at least to the extent there is essentially no internet available in our little village on Honduras’ north coast. With no insightful cutting edge articles immediately ready to post on Conservative Proletariat I thought I’d post the summary of the session we sent out to former volunteers, supporters, etc. In deference to sensitivity and politeness I am omitting the names of several people mentioned in the summary- this is intended to be totally apolitical. Note the name of our project is Las Sonrisas de los Niños; the pic above is from 2010 when we were mostly a children's oriented project.
Greetings/Saludos from Las Sonrisas de los Niños:
This is being sent to family, friends, supporters, visitors, people who have previously expressed an interest in our project in the village of El Cacao, Honduras, and especially former volunteers. It is eight years this month since we first opened.
We just concluded what we are terming a “mini-session” of the project, this one being six weeks and a day ending May 8th, 2015. It began with the very pleasant experience of having two former and recurrent volunteers visit, both of whom were with us during the first session in 2007.
Unlike prior sessions but similar to 2013 and 2014 we did not run the usual kid oriented program but worked in several more targeted areas. English Class continued to be well attended with 7-8 people making the daily round trip from the village to where I stay and held the classes (known as the “volunteer house”). Two very satisfying things happened this time around. The first involved Elida, who turned 19 while I was there. She has been faithfully attending these classes for several years but, while always a joy and lots of fun, was kind of lazy and never progressed much. One day, almost as if a switch was turned on, she began comprehending all the concepts and become a great resource for the others. While not fully conversational she can now perhaps be described as pre-fluent. The other very happy occurrence was Yosel, someone we’ve never known before but just started showing up. He’s 13 with no prior knowledge of English but was almost savant-like in his ability to pick up both basic and advanced concepts- probably the best innate student I’ve seen. (left photo: Elida is on the left with Yosel next to her, then Jimmi & Franco; right: Mirian's grandson, Nelson, wearing my boots)
by Reid Fitzsimons
I was an employee of New York State from 1986 to 2001 (Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities). New York is a closed shop and employees are automatically associated with one of several public employee unions depending upon their position. My position required that I pay dues to the Public Employees Federation (PEF), the union representing professional, scientific, and technical employees. PEF represented positions ranged from nurses and medical providers to various therapists, educators, and accountants, to name a few. Note that I was not required to join the union, per se, only pay dues, which the state automatically deducted from every pay check. I personally refused to join the union for many years, which meant I was not eligible to vote in elections/referendums.
After a number of years I realized I could receive, as a non-member, a rebate of a portion of my dues, perhaps 20% if I recall correctly. In theory this was the amount that was used for political activism, though I was strongly suspicious of the basis of their calculation. This refund was in no way automatic but rather I had to personally write a letter making the request during a narrow window that occurred only once a year. Eventually circumstances at work compelled me to run for local President (Council Leader), but in order to do so I had to join the Union. I was quite pleased that I won the election by a 2 to 1 margin over the incumbent, this being in 1999. ...continue reading
by Barry King
President Obama called recent years of record federal spending, including billions of Keynesian "stimulus" using borrowed money, "mindless austerity" - as though if he had his way such spending would be even more prodigal. That's hard to imagine, but he can apparently imagine it. Americans are consuming all of their income, and then consuming more and spending more long after they should stop, They are able to continue that for now only by borrowing from China, leaving it to their grandchildren to repay those loans to China with interest. That can't continue much longer, and the only reason it can happen at all is because 21st-century Chinese, unlike 21st-century Americans, produce more than they consume and save the difference, so that their net savings are available to be loaned to Americans - and invested in Africa.
If the President thinks current US federal spending can be described as "mindless austerity", that means he wants to spend even more, in support of American consumption of goods and services. And of course there may well be enough American voters who like that idea, to keep him and politicians like him in power for a while longer. In that milieu, China's surpassing the US as the world's largest and most powerful economy is not only inevitable: it will happen very quickly now, more quickly than almost anyone expects. Here in Africa, that process is more clearly visible - I have been meaning to write up a report of what I saw during a recent visit to Beira, Mozambique - but I suppose there in the USA it might remain out of sight and out of mind for a little while longer. ...continue reading
I had a flight to Queen Elizabeth NP and back today, and snapped this photo of the wildlife there. Notice the elephant Mama on lifeguard duty. She has told the little ones: stay between the hippos and the shore, and she is not watching them, but watching for crocodiles.