World Roundup

  • A school in the UK is under fire from “animal-loving celebrities, animal and human rights campaigners and parents” after the children voted 13-1 to slaughter a six month old lamb which they had themselves raised. The educational farm had been part of a program to teach them about rearing and breeding animals. The money from slaughtering the lamb was intended to be used to buy pigs – so they were learning business as well… needless to say, a program this successful cannot be tolerated by some, who want it shut down (and you certainly don’t want to offend those animal-loving celebrities)

  • Meanwhile, those crazy French are at it again, as Sarkozy tries to create a new method of calculating GDP which includes “happiness, long holidays and a sense of well-being

    “One consequence of the commission’s proposed enhancements to gross domestic product data would be to improve instantly France’s economic performance by taking into account its high-quality health service, expensive welfare system and long holidays. At the same time, the commission’s changes would downgrade US economic output.”

  • Speaking of the US, the recent tea parties culminated in a “9/12” rally in DC, with participants calling for smaller government. Estimates of the crowd vary widely, with the most reasonable (from footage I’ve seen) being over 100,000. Amusingly, the crowd at DailyKos had a thread discussing whether the street-cam photo was faked – because surely, there’s no way that many people want smaller government!

  • In news from The Onion (that’s a legitimate news source, right?), the US has been condemned for pre-emptive use of Hillary Clinton against Pakistan.

  • Over in Japan, they’ve finally elected “the other guys” to power, and now have a first lady who believes she has been abducted by aliens.

  • And finally, I already posted this in a comment in another thread, but the Mises Institute has an interesting article on Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire.

22 thoughts on “World Roundup

  1. I’m somewhat surprised by this from Sarkozy, who was voted in on a mandate of economic reform, as a kind of French Margaret Thatcher. Not very original either, the King of Bhutan thought of it first.

    GDP is not a perfect measure of a country’s prosperity, but it’s a pretty good start. You can always measure other fluffy social stuff – how about the freedom index?

    It just goes to show how different the yanks and the French are politically – Sarkozy is still seen as a crazy right wing capitalist, whereas the yanks would see him as some kind of commie. We’d probably say centrist, maybe centre right.

    Maybe the yanks have a point, behind the socialist party and the UMP the third most popular party is the PCF (Parti Communiste Francais)

    I’ve been watching the coverage of the US anti-Obama protests on the French news. Their Washington correspondent had the best line I’d heard in a while; he noted the protesters thought Obama was a Marxist, a Communist “or ever worse, a Frenchman”.

  2. The left are in severe denial over the 9/12 protest, with some claiming that the pictures coming out of it are actually the Kennedy funeral photoshopped. The press have tried to play down the significance and size, with the NYT initially reporting ‘scores’ of people there, going through various conniptions on it and finally settling on “tens of thousands.” Some photos showing low turnout were taken in an adjacent mall which was not part of the protest.

    The most quoted figure at present seems to be the park police estimate of 1.2 million. This figure seems to be supported in an article by Robert Tracinski “I Witnessed The Beginning of Revolution,” in which he references a graphic illustrating the crowd measurement in a series of photos.

    Some of what he has to say is of interest:

    The most telling detail, which you can see in the link I just gave, is a graphic from USA Today’s coverage of Obama’s inauguration, giving figures for the number of people who will fit in the DC mall. The chart indicates that the west lawn of the Capitol and the area around the reflecting pool holds 240,000 people. I can tell you that those areas were packed. The west lawn was so full that police were blocking anyone new from entering, presumably out of fear that we would trample each other to death. I was one of the people turned away, so I was in between the lawn and the reflecting pool, and this area was also completely filled. Thus, 240,000 is a good minimum for any objective estimate of the attendance. But based on the aerial photos, which show crowds stretching all the way back to the Washington Monument, I would be ready to believe a figure in the area of 1 million.

    There is a clear motive behind the absurd lowball figures—and the press has a record of extreme dishonesty on this issue. In poking around for articles on this issue, for example, I came across a typically pompous and condescending New York Times analysis from early in last month’s town hall rebellion, complaining that the raucous crowds at the town hall meetings were preventing congressmen from “reconnecting with the folks back home.” Yep, nothing prevents you from meeting with your constituents like having a whole bunch of them showing up to meet with you.

    The beautiful thing about it is that to a large degree, libertarians are getting the blame for it.

  3. What really shocked me about the tea party protests were how genuinely grassroots they were; the complete lack of co-ordinating, control, organisation was astounding (making the left’s astroturf claims even more hilarious) and yet it really worked! Spontaneous order I suppose…
    Really was great fun to be there though; I think this kind of movement really is completely unprecedented

    If any of you don’t watch the clips ReasonTV put up religiously, you should. But in the meantime here’s them interviewing people on the ground who attended.

    Also here are my bosses comments in Politico:

    “This past week I travelled to the center-right coalition meetings in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and North Carolina and then this morning back to DC. I took my daughter out with stroller and walked for two hours against the flow of the 9/12 march to the taxpayer rally along Pennsylvania Ave. How many? Dunno. But two solid hours of marchers going past. Lots of great signs. One group of Obama fans standing off to one side. They were huddled around their sign “billionaires for tax cuts” and dressed in tuxes. They looked vaguely ridiculous contrasted with tens of thousands of actual middle class citizens sickened by the greed of Washington. The late Senator Moynihan spoke of the Reagan years as the time he realized that while his age cohort had always railed against the old farts…the modern Democrat party had become the old farts.

    Obama and ACORN fancy they are the community organizers. They should drop by and see what real outrage and real community organizing–without taxpayer subsidies or paid union staff in purple T-shirts–looks like.

    The denizens of the White House lack only big wigs to complete the Louis the Sixteenth and Marie Antoinette analogy. The already have the contempt for the little people down pat.”

  4. Here’s a nifty timeline of how the White House has responded to tea parties through the year:

    April 14: Asked about the tax day “tea parties” being held the following day, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said: “I don’t know if the President is aware of the events.”

    April 15: At least 615,000 Americans attend at least 640 tea parties across the country

    April 19: Asked about the April 15 tea parties on Face the Nation, Obama senior advisor David Axelrod said: “I think any time you have severe economic conditions there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that’s unhealthy”

    April 29: Speaking at a town hall meeting in St. Louis, Obama directly addressed tea party attendees: “Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I’m not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me just remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security…But let’s not play games and pretend that the reason [for the deficit] is because of the Recovery Act.”

    August 4: Asked by reporters about the growing concern expressed by town hall attendees, Gibbs said: “I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astro Turf nature of so-called grassroots lobbying”. Questioned further, Gibbs said: “This is manufactured anger”

    Sept. 11: Asked about the planned taxpayer rallies taking place across the country the following day, Gibbs shrugged and told reporters: “I don’t know who the group is”

    Sept. 12: Taxpayers from all 50 states take part in the March on Washington, filling the streets from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol

    Sept. 13: During an interview on Face the Nation, when asked what his message was to those at the previous day’s rallies, Axelrod said: “My message to them is they’re wrong”

  5. I saw official reports guessing 1-1.3million, combined with the accounts from people I’ve talked to online who confirm that they were booted out of Freedom Plaza earlier than expected because they hit capacity. I was kind of annoyed that this got near zero coverage in the media here. All I found was an A/P run from the US stating that ‘tens of thousands’ of ‘right wing’ protesters marched. It seems really suss that the media is that quiet about such a big event when they were very vocal about protests during the Bush era :/

  6. Those little lamb lovers were not only learning about animal breeding and business. By voting on the animals fate they were also learning about democracy (useful if you own shares, join a company board or become a citizen). And the response from animal loving celebrities would have given them a lesson in politics. Add in some metaphysical discussions about life and death and I think these guys might be ready for prime time.

  7. The closest thing Australia has in it’s history resembling the Boston tea party is the miners tax revolt at Eureka stockade. Hopefully the current US thing will spill over to Australia.

  8. @Tim Andrews

    I think Lew Rockwell consistently despises statism & neo-cons. If you are a statist or a neo-con apologies for any offense taken.

  9. @TerjeP

    The educational farm thing was quite a brilliant program, and had so many different angles where they could learn different things in a practical environment. It’s the sort of thing there should be a lot more of… I fear this one will either be shut down, or worse, turned into a mushy “let’s learn about wool” type experience, as they discuss the “cruelty of eating meat” or some rubbish.


    Thank you… I’ve been thinking for a while than Thoughts on Freedom could benefit from a links section for those links that didn’t necessarily warrant a post by themselves – but an occasional roundup might be an effective alternative.

    This is one good thing about Facebook, btw… add a link, and it automagically loads up the title, description and image icon (all of which you can edit). Might be a handy feature to have in a blog.

  10. Regarding the crowd estimates – the reporting has been pretty shonky. I doubted the initial 2 million estimate from Malkin, but the “tens of thousands” from lefty news sources were so obviously an underestimate – looking at the photos, we’re clearly talking hundreds of thousands.

    Looking at analysis after the fact, perhaps up to a million. This latest analysis conservatively estimates it at over 800,000. A telling quote from the article:

    In fact, after the Million Man March in 1995, Congress restricted the National Park Service from even making estimates — a restriction that was maintained for 14 years and then quietly rescinded this January for the Obama inauguration.

  11. Another French news perspective on the 9/12 marches.

    TF1 is considered right-leaning, but compared to Fox News or even Channel 9 they are probably leftist. They made no attempt to downplay the large number of protestors, in fact they had large crowd shots.

    Instead they took great delight in painting the entire crowd as a bunch of extreme rightwing nutters. They did this by showing the more hysterical protestor signs – the ones with communist logos and Obama as Che Guevara or Stalin. They had sound grabs (dubbed into French) of the most redneck looking people they could find saying intelligent thing like ‘they’re all a bunch of Commies in Washington’.

    I’m sure they would have loved to find a racist placard or comment but there was none shown. The best that they could do was someone with a sign actually calling Obama a Frenchman. Being French reporters, they asked the guy what it was all about, to which he responsed. ‘I’ve got nothing against the French, but they love their big government a little too much’.

  12. @Damian – yes, but he also despises the 95% of all libertarians who aren’t part of his cult of personality. And almost spends more time attacking Cato and other solid libertarians than he does the left these days!

  13. And tell those Austrians to cut out the crap about inflation and the fall of the Roman Empire! We have an expert, TerjeP, who knows more than any other scholar! Professor T. will correct them soon, no doubt!

  14. Things were a bit of a mess before Diocletian. He actually came close to sorting out the severe inflation problem he inherited by reintroducing full weight coins to replace the debased coins. However he then fluffed it by slapping a face value on the new coins below the commodity value so the coins simply disappeared from circulation as quick as they were issued. Presumably in frustration at his own stupidity he then reached for price controls, stuffed up trade and ushered in hyperinflation. Ultimately tax hikes got added to the mess and the Dark Ages were on their way. Lesser landholders who could not avoid the taxes went broke and essentially signed up as slaves (slaves didn’t pay tax) to powerful land owners who found means to avoid taxes. Feudalism reigned for the next thousand years and beyond.

  15. And, TP, wasn’t Diocletian also anti-Christian? Why are Christians getting blamed for his faults? (And I hope you admit that the Eastern Empire, centered on Byzantium AND Orthodoxy, lasted over a thousand years?)

  16. TerjeP, that’s out of sequence, missing some important stuff, and close to post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Constantine the Great managed to sort many things out, particularly the depreciation/debasement problem (possibly partly on the back of trans-Sahara trade beginning to bring new gold supplies from West Africa). Coinage and trade didn’t collapse when the western empire fell, nor did the Dark Ages quite begin then (except in outlying areas). Rather, they began after the failure of the Byzantine reconquest; Pirenne suggested that the crucial thing was Islam, cutting western Christendom off from the Mediterranean and leading to an end to trade and bullion supplies, so the cash economy ended, in turn weakening the central governments of Rome’s successor states – and only then were feudalism and the manorial system adopted on any scale. Meanwhile, taxes in the remains of the Roman Empire were sorted out, with poll taxes mostly being replaced by a more sustainable and more easily administered and enforced land tax/hearth tax variant, the Kapnikon; feudalism wasn’t adopted there.

    At most the coinage issue weakened Rome, and may have led to it being weak enough to fall from other causes it would otherwise have survived. But those particular problems had been solved and matters taken in hand generations before that happened, so something else must have been involved.

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