Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The UK New Labour is finally showing some signs of being a labor party. They are looking into the question of who makes it into university and how it happens. There are several features to this issues; one of the chief ones is that of who grows up expecting to go there. These people spend a large part of their childhoods thinking not of whether they will go, but where. A child who ends up at a minor college may think of himself as only a marginal success, not to mention one that goes to a former trade school. Children that grow up with less expectation are even more victims to the boredom that legendarily afflicts elementary school pupils. Recent increases in tuition charges make the goal even more remote for people who do not have much money, especially those who are not so poor that an unwilling State will pay their passage. That is most of the working class. These children tend to lack test manuals, college entrance books and test priming. Many have no parental help in preparing themselves for the university selection marathon. Of those who do make it into a strong college, the graduates of modest schools do better, when grouped by test scores, than those from private or U preparatory schools. As a result, the entrants to prosperous jobs tend to come increasingly from upper class families, and the new charges tend to help them be barred from even trying. The attempts to balance out these factors are increasingly attacked by higher class families as reverse discrimination. And it is so also in US, where even state-assisted universities are deemed inaccessible to families with below-average wages. And in these there are many with genuine talent who are condemned by their parents’ circumstances of to be excluded from seeking prosperous jobs.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
In the ideology of the Enlightenment supporting the 18th Century idea of the Free Market, it was understood that obtaining labor at the cheapest possible rate was an aspect of economic efficiency. That view has been at odds with governmental support of certain essential aspects of the economy in the 20th Century, as exemplified by the program of farm support and others. In the 1930s, when the US government wanted to pump money into the rural areas, it often proved difficult to get farmers to accept the payments. Some viewed it as charity, which they were too proud to take. Of course, the same thinking did not apply to Dole, Campbell and Cargill. They were happy to take the cash and always had on hand distressed owners of small family farms to exhibit to the Congress while they stuffed the bulk of farm support into their own pockets. It was good for the nation to keep the farmers on the land and supply the fuel to support that part of the economy. In 1990, after the collapse of USSR, the Navy continued building Sea Wolf submarines whose only function was the destruction, if desired, of that country. But the overriding considerations were the wages in New London and the profits to the Electric Boat Co. The introduction of large numbers of immigrants, legal and otherwise, tends to expand the surplus of labor and act to drive down wages, in true Free Market fashion. Thus the answer to the unattractiveness of farm labor is met not by raising the wages of those workers but by introducing ever more impoverished people who would do any amount of work for any amount of money, thus preventing US workers from getting a wage commensurate with the toil that remained in field work. The same comment applies in other areas, where the effect of the many immigrants was to have them scab on each other, often being paid less than the minimum wage. This reality has been kept from the US public by the establishment press, while pretending a concern for their poverty.
Friday, July 10, 2009
When I was 12 years old, I went to a summer camp for 2 weeks. I slept in a tent with 6 other campers and a counsellor. 1 of the other boys was bigger and stronger than the rest and was a bully. Finally, in order to call his bluff, all the others united and stood to prevent his bullying anyone. It was a lesson that has lasted me all my life. Today the US government has taken up the role of global bully. The presidents of the US, as though the designated emperors of the world, habitually make fiats out of DC calling themselves the leaders of the free world, although not all their clients are free and not all those who are more or less free are their clients. It has been especially so in the past 40 years including 2 Democrats and the current one. For a period, the French showed some spunk, reminding the world that the war in Iraq over imperial power was illegal and immoral, but the Cheney Gang pulled out all the stops, including even the ludicrous ones, like removing the words “French Fries” from the congressional cafeteria but more significantly carrying out a commercial war against Eurodisney and against French products like wine, cheese, and perfume. French capitalists came to their president’s palace to demand that their nation abandon the principled objection to the illegal war and reminded him that US companies were part of the US ownership of the world and its people. Today the US Tsar inveighs against any show of sovereignty anywhere in the world and delivers himself of the veto he seems to imagine lying in the words “the world will not tolerate”, meaning he says no. Thus he continues the policy of saying who may have an atomic program and who has the sovereign right to run their own elections, on the expectation that almost all the world, including France and even China and Russia, will do as they are commanded at the UN. Resistance against this bullying is hardly to be heard.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I see from the internet that Dane County is suffering from a plague of mosquitoes. To a greater or lesser degree, that is the story every year, but the remedy offered each time seems to be restricted to long sleeves and insect repellents, which are far from adequate to the assault. There are things in the biological world that could make a difference, but they are not nearly free, so the WI answer is simply to bear it. Among the simplest is the fostering of animals that feed on the pests. Among these, the ones that come to mind most simply are bats, purple martins, and dragonflies. All have drawbacks, of course, but are affordable. The bats require a well insulated place in which to hibernate for the winter, and these need not be close to populations centers. Bats are prodigious in the number of mosquitoes each can eat, most notably at dawn and twilight, but also at night. If their centers were placed rurally, in areas closest to the swamps, they would not be a nuisance to people. And large colonies of bats could keep each other warm over the winter. Purple martins like to live in communal nests, and they eat mosquitoes in the brilliant sunlight. Like the bats, they would leave their droppings near the location of their multiple dwellings. Dragonflies are known in the area of New Orleans as “skeeterhawks”. It would cost a lot to breed millions, but the same swamps that raise their nymphs could provide plenty of mosquito larvae for nourishment. The US DoA raises multitudes of sterilized screw-worm flies to protect the cattle industry of the SW, so why would the safety and comfort of people not bring similar support? There are other means available from the biology of the pests, so why aren’t we investing in those for our health and safety?