Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is most striking about the French election is how little anybody is saying about the country’s dire economic straits

From The Economist:
An inconvenient truth
A country in denial
The Presidential candidates
…what is most striking about the French election is how little anybody is saying about the country’s dire economic straits. The candidates dish out at least as many promises to spend more as to spend less. Nobody has a serious agenda for reducing France’s eye-watering taxes. Mr Sarkozy, who in 2007 promised reform with talk of a rupture, now offers voters protectionism, attacks on French tax exiles, threats to quit Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone and (at least before Toulouse) talk of the evils of immigration and halal meat. Mr Hollande promises to expand the state, creating 60,000 teaching posts, partially roll back Mr Sarkozy’s rise in the pension age from 60 to 62, and squeeze the rich (whom he once cheerfully said he did not like), with a 75% top income-tax rate.

… Part of the problem is that French voters are notorious for their belief in the state’s benevolence and the market’s heartless cruelty. Almost uniquely among developed countries, French voters tend to see globalisation as a blind threat rather than a source of prosperity.

…there is a more worrying possibility than insincerity. The candidates may actually mean what they say. And with Mr Hollande, who after all is still the most likely victor, that could have dramatic consequences.

Friday, March 30, 2012

When You’ve Lost, you’ve Lost Middle Earth

That notwithstanding, at least they question pointless Marxist dinosaur Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s notion that he’s « for the worker ».
"I can give you the phone numbers of every trade unionists in the struggle, I know them all," says Laurence Sauvage, CGT syndicalist and Regional Councillor of Nord-Pas de Calais, responsible for monitoring the social struggles in the Left Party ("the Front of the struggle"). He states that, unlike other candidates, his organization is simply responding to requests from company employees threatened with closure.
It sounds much better in the original Klingon:
«Je peux vous donner les numéros de tous les syndicalistes en lutte, je les connais tous», explique Laurence Sauvage, syndicaliste CGT et conseillère régionale du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, chargée du suivi des luttes sociales au Parti de gauche («le Front des luttes»). Qui précise que, contrairement aux autres candidats, son organisation ne fait que répondre aux demandes des salariés des entreprises menacées de fermeture.
Or not. When you’re left to protesting against businesses over the issue of them going under, what exactly are you doing for their (former) employees?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Further to the Myth of Tolerance and Thoughtfulness

What? No Moroccan flags being burned? Oh, that’s right. We’re civilized.
Rabat's media say Jewish resident of northern city of Fez hammered to death by unknown assailant.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Euro-Übermenschen with Nerves of Steel

Kansan Uutiset, Finland : Summer time kills thousands of Europeans
On Saturday night millions of Europeans switched to daylight saving time, or summer time. The party newspaper of the Left Alliance in Finland, Kansan Uutiset, calls for summer time to be scrapped on the grounds that it is harmful to people's health: "On the weekend new findings about the disadvantages of summer time were published. The daily Aamulehti on Sunday reported on a Swedish study according to which in the next two weeks around 30 people in Sweden will die of heart attacks resulting from stress caused by the switch to summer time.
They are rather less enthusiastic to discuss the ones who drink themselves to death the rest of the year.
That means thousands of deaths across the EU. Russia decided a year ago to abolish the twice yearly adjustment of the clock, switching to summer time for good in March 2011. It doesn't matter whether it's summer time or winter time, this time the Russian approach is the right one for us, too. One time is enough for the whole year round."
Let’s set aside the idea that you can impute that kind of data from one culture to a continent. I know it’s fruitless and silly, but do you really think that daylight savings time kills?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Madeline, 1952

“La Hollande, L'Autre Pays du Fromage Plein de Racaille”

In a fit of self-flattery, the fake indignation is over the myth of Europeans’ tolerance that they have been repeating to themselves over the decades.
Those abroad who follow news from the Netherlands even marginally know that it currently centres around a single question. "What happened to this tolerant country?" The question reflects a sincere disappointment but also amounts to promoting a new cliché. Just as before all the correspondents wrote about the apparently limitless freedoms in Tulip Land, they now assiduously seek examples illustrating the convulsions the country is experiencing.
Aside from the notion promoted in public, what has always been true is that the actual number of tolerant people you meet is only slightly greater than that of an isolated tribe that barbeques outsiders who stumble upon them.
This is not an isolated incident. The crisis over the [Danish] caricatures already provided a demonstration that tensions between governments will increase in response to domestic social issues. The publication of the caricatures of Mohammed resulted in an unfurling of reactions across the Middle East. As a corollary, foreign conflicts will have more and more repercussions on our towns, as was demonstrated by the attack on a mosque in Brussels linked to the civil war in Syria.
The author confuses being servile and averse to criticizing other, especially those threatening you - with tolerance. They are not the same thing, clearly.

In reality, the tolerance even Wilders’ critics have (not to mention their elders’,) is limited to the kind of thing that would impress a narcotics-tourist might imagine is there, and call that their idea of freedom.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"I want to help you get teeth!" Answering Bill Maher's Assumptions About a Free Health Care System

Now, you have probably seen the Bill Maher video which purported to compare the negative sides of both conservatives and liberals (with the latter happening, by entire coincidence, to be far less serious than the former), and which says so much about the liberal mindset. (As Da Tech Guy has pointed out — hat tip to Instapundit — when he watched the video, he saw the enlightened "Lord and Lady of the manor.")

Here is the money quote, as said, unbelievingly, by Bill Maher (at 9:55), who just can't fathom why the commoners, those clueless clods, won't see the light and join the liberal club.
When I see the toothless guy, as a liberal, what I say is, "I want to help you get teeth!" Why does that make me an asshole?! (laughter) I don't understand why — "You damn Yankee, tryin' to get me teeth!" (laughter)
What is wrong with you?! Don't you get it?! We're here for you! We're on your side!

Although Bill Maher and Alexandra Pelosi go to pains to certify that the Mississippi interview was "just snapshots" and "organic", in which "everyone … interviewed looked like that", the mindset is all based upon the following premise and unchallenged assumptions:

When you think of Mississippi — and of an America without health insurance — you think (or leftists, American or foreign, think) of the racist, uncultured, toothless, badly-dressed rednecks in the woods. You do not think of the (relatively) healthy and (relatively) prosperous people living in Jackson or Gulfport.

By contrast, when you think of a place with health insurance, you think (or leftists, American or foreign, think) of, say, France, with the suave, nuanced, witty, well-dressed types in Paris salons, without a health worry in the world. You do not think of the toothless peasants in the French countryside who do not have enough money to —

Now, wait a minute, Erik! you interrupt.

The toothless peasants?! In a Western European country?! Snort! Surely you jest!

Don't you get it, Erik?! The point is that France has universal health care — u-ni-ver-sal! health care — for citizens, e-ve-ry-where!!

What is it you damn clueless conservatives do not understand about that?! How dare you be so irresponsible and try and peddle shameless lies?! (Toothless people in Western Europe! Hrmph!)

Well, oui: bien sûr. The problem is that it turns out that there may be a reason there is a legend about the teeth of Frenchmen being yellow and ugly: a couple of weeks before Alexandra Pelosi's second appearance on the Maher show, France's newspaper of record, Le Monde, published a report saying that dental costs are hardly covered by la Sécurité Sociale at all and, indeed, have never been so expensive.

And thus it is that Laetitia Clavreul treats us a series of Le Monde articles that seem straight out of a greedy-and-evil-capitalist-pigs-in-America-preying-on-the-innocent-(and-)toothless-paupers documentary on the France 2 TV channel (or on HBO); from the teacher who opted not to get five (!) teeth replaced and the maid who had to settle for a botched-up job for her broken front tooth to the 49-year-old woman who no longer has any teeth at all and to the other teacher who would rather have holes in his mouth than wear a (humiliating) set of false teeth (see previous post for more details).
When he saw the estimate, the teacher understood that he would not have the five teeth that the dentist deemed necessary: the invoice was 12,500 euros, 10,500 of them out of his own pocket, after refunds by the health insurance and his personal insurance company. "I gave up, and I carried on with my toothless mouth," he sighs. That was four years ago. He is still in the same situation. One that is common. Who, indeed, has not, when presented with such an estimate, even a lower one, weighed the pros and cons? And decided to incur the expenses at a later date.
As for the story of Véronique, it sounds like a caricatural cautionary tale from the hell-hole of capitalist America:
Faced with the inability to pay, everyone reacts in their own way. Véronique (not her real name) broke a front tooth two years ago. She is a domestic helper. It was unthinkable to go to work with "a hole" in such a visible place, and equally unthinkable to pay for a prosthesis. Her dentist patched up an old piece of equipment manufactured for molars. She wears it "outdoors", and especially not while eating, lest it break.
And if you have some more time…