A Little More on Scotland

P.J. O’Rourke discusses the humor value of an independent Scotland which he predicts would be a “hilarious disaster”. But the money still favors a “no” vote:

Polls suggest that Scotland’s independence movement could win a Sept. 18 referendum. British bookies aren’t buying it.

The country’s two biggest bookmakers, Ladbrokes (LAD:LN) and William Hill(WMH:LN), are laying 7-to-4 odds against a “yes” vote—even as Britain’s political elite is in a panic over polls showing the race is neck-and-neck. A poll released Sept. 9 by survey group TNS Scotland, showed pro-independence forces with 38 percent support, just one point behind the opposition, while a YouGov survey over the weekend showed the “yes” campaign with a narrow lead.

If those findings are right, you’d expect odds close to 50-50. Yet most of the British bookmakers surveyed here are offering roughly 7-4 odds against independence, meaning that someone who bet 4 pounds on a “yes” vote would win 7 pounds plus the return of her stake if the “yes” campaign won. The payoff for a “no” bet would be much smaller, only 2 pounds on a bet of 5 pounds.

So the markets are wagering that the Scots will decide to stay.  The assumption is that rational interests will ultimately trump nationalist passions.  It usually is pretty safe to follow the money.  Usually, but we are dealing with a pretty contentious electorate:

It’s come to this

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has had to warn Canadians traveling in the U.S. that American cops are thieves.

There’s a shakedown going on in the U.S., and the perps are in uniform.

Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, coordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer.

It usually starts on the road somewhere. An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes. The offence is irrelevant. Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you’re going, or where you came from, and why. He’ll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs. What he’s really looking for, though, is money.

And if you were foolish (or intimidated) enough to have consented to the search, and you’re carrying any significant amount of cash, you are now likely to lose it.

[...]

You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.”

Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse.

In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.

Comparing the U.S. to Tijuana? Ouch.

We’ve linked before to the video by the Institute for Justice that explicates the civil forfeiture scam, but it’s worth doing so again.

The Betrayal of South Vietnam: An Inconvenient Truth

Such is the parlous state of schooling in this country that most recent graduates of American schools are pretty sure that Democrats freed the slaves, and Republicans started the Vietnam War. And back in the 1980s, students were also pretty sure that Vietnam was located somewhere in Central America.

The truth about the Vietnam War, and particularly how the United States ended up losing the war despite never being defeated on the battlefield, is something that the academic, political, and media clerisy doesn’t want to talk about. They don’t want to talk about it because the truth reflects so badly on America’s Political Class, especially the 94th Congress, but also to some degree on the American people as a whole, who after all, elected that Congress. We are now approaching the 40th anniversary of that election.

In the video below, Bruce Herschensohn explains how the 94th Congress betrayed the Republic of South Vietnam, and lost the war. It’s a shameful story that needs to be remembered because it cost tens of millions of people their freedom, and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, their lives.

By the way, Happy Birthday to narrator Bruce Herschensohn, who turns 82 today. Thanks, Bruce, for telling the truth about what happened in Vietnam.

 

Go Scotland Go !!

Scotland has been tied politically to England for some 300 years, but that might change after a September 18 vote on independence. How the vote will turn out is anyone’s guess, but the possibility that Scotland will break away is quite real. A recent YouGov poll put the pro-independence vote up narrowly, by 51 to 49 percent.

Scotland seems to want to end the union largely because the socialist Scots think that England, particularly London, a hub of world finance, is too capitalist. The Scots apparently want to build the proverbial Socialism in One Country, which of course, has failed everywhere it’s been tried.

In the long run, a break up would probably be good for both countries. English taxpayers pay a lot of welfare subsidies to Scotland, and they would welcome relief from the burden. Scotland needs England a lot more than England needs Scotland. Moreover, removing leftist Scottish voters from national elections might permit the rest of the UK to move in a less socialist direction. John Fund speculates that once Scottish voters are gone, the UK might even be able to extricate itself from the clutches of the European Union.

As for the Scots, if they pursue socialism, they will fail, and as a result, they will learn a valuable lesson. Forced to finally take responsibility for themselves, they’ll have no choice but to put their house in order. No longer will they be able to rely on subsidies from London. Nor will they be able to blame London for their problems. According to John Fund, a similar dynamic ensued back in the 1990s when the Slovaks separated from the Czechs.

I was in the Slovak capital of Bratislava in early 1993 when Czechoslovakia peacefully broke up. The two halves of the country had struggled for three years after the fall of Communism to stay together, but the Slovaks thought the state was too centered on the Czech capital of Prague, and the Czechs resented subsidies and over-representation of Slovaks in key bodies….

Back then, Czechs viewed the Slovaks as more statist and slower to seize economic opportunities than they were. But today, both countries have shown remarkable improvement in the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom; and last year, Slovakia’s economy grew by 2.1 percent…

“We are doing very well,” Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia’s deputy prime minister, told the BBC last year. “The Czech republic is doing well, and our friendship is better than ever,” he said.

Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million is almost precisely that of Scotland, and its success shows how small countries can do well on their own.

And finally, as if any further confirmation were needed that the UK is a nation off its collective rocker, 16-year-olds will be allowed to vote on the referendum.

Even though 16- and 17-year-olds account for only 2.5 percent of eligible voters, they could make the difference in a close vote. Polls show that they are the most eager for independence.

Because video-game-playing 16-year-olds are known for carefully thinking through difficult questions of national sovereignty and political constitutions.

For hundreds of years, Scotland’s warrior class battled in vain to make their country independent of England. How remarkable that what legendary Scots such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie all failed to achieve through blood and iron might now be accomplished by 16-year-olds with ballots.

Write it down

Here is a story for the start of the NFL season which actually provides a reason to root for the Cleveland Browns:

There is a technological revolution in the NFL this year. The Cleveland Browns knew this when they, like everyone else in the league, received tablet computers. Players on other teams raved about the ability to share typed notes and store everything they need on their machines.

The Browns got those. And then the coaching staff made sure to hand them something else: a pad of paper.

Armed with science and a little common sense, first-year Browns coach Mike Pettine is stressing to his players the old-school notion of writing things down. The strategy is backed up by new academic studies that say writing by hand instead of typing improves your chances of learning something.

The idea is that active learning (writing something down with pen and paper) trumps passive attempts to absorb information being delivered to you.  We have always suspected that the posting of power points and lecture notes as well as the use of other technological classroom aids bears no relationship to student learning.  But could it be that there is an inverse association between the two? That’s a scary thought since grade schools are pushing “technology in the classroom” really hard.

FDA Continues its War on Cheese

We’ve reported previously on the FDA’s assault on fine cheese. That attack took the form of a proposed ban on cheese boards made of wood. Now the FDA has opened yet another front in its ongoing War on Cheese. This attack involves nonsensical limits on microbe counts. And we do mean nonsensical. The microbes in question are not even toxic.

The limits for nontoxigenic E. coli were cut from 100 MPN (most probable number) per gram to 10 MPN. These are bacteria that live in every human gut; they are typically harmless and we coexist happily. But the FDA considers them a marker for sanitation: If a cheese shows even modest levels of nontoxigenic E. coli, the facility that produced it must be insufficiently clean.

Dennis D’Amico, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut whose specialty is dairy microbiology, says this premise is flawed. But that’s little comfort to producers whose cheeses are denied entry, like the prominent French affineur (cheese ager) Pascal Beillevaire. Or to the retailers who rely on these cheeses…

Some say it is all but impossible to make compliant raw-milk cheese consistently, and that the lowered tolerance for nontoxigenic E. coli will do nothing to improve public health. “There was no health risk in all the years we operated at 100 MPN,” says David Gremmels of Oregon’s Rogue Creamery, which produces several raw-milk blues. “We look at this as an arbitrary change.”

Cary Bryant, Rogue’s cheese maker, says he worries that the tightened standards may even impair public health. “People need some microbial diversity in their life,” says Bryant, a microbiologist by training. “This is going to create people with immune systems that can never handle anything.”

[...]

The stepped-up testing creates headaches for companies like Gourmet Imports, a Los Angeles cheese importer and distributor.

“In the past year, we’ve had delays on things you never would have imagined would be held before,” reports general manager Alex Brown. Even Parmigiano-Reggiano, a well-aged, low-moisture cheese unlikely to have microbial issues, was recently held for testing.

“It’s the safest cheese on the planet,” Brown says.

This article makes government look stupid, arrogant, and malefic. The article must be wrong. After all, so-smart left-liberals keep assuring us that only ignorant rednecks, bitterly clinging to their guns and religion, would question the wisdom and beneficence of government.

It Takes a Village…to Ignore Child Rape

A prominent politician once famously said that “it takes a village” to raise a child. In reality, placing responsibility for children in the hands of the ‘village,’ meaning the state, too often results in child abuse of one form or another. In Britain recently, the state-enabled child abuse assumed a form so horrific as to beggar belief.

At least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, a report has found.

Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated, it said.

The report, commissioned by Rotherham Borough Council, revealed there had been three previous inquiries.

[...]

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the latest report, said there had been “blatant” collective failures by the council’s leadership, senior managers had “underplayed” the scale of the problem and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

Prof Jay said: “No-one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.”

[...]

The inquiry team found examples of “children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone”.

[...]

Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports between 2002 and 2006 which both the council and police were aware of, and “which could not have been clearer in the description of the situation in Rotherham”.

Prof Jay said the first of these reports was “effectively suppressed” because senior officers did not believe the data. The other two were ignored, she said.

The inquiry team found that in the early-2000s when a group of professionals attempted to monitor a number of children believed to be at risk, “managers gave little help or support to their efforts”.

The report revealed some people at a senior level in the police and children’s social care thought the extent of the problem was being “exaggerated”.

Prof Jay said: “The authorities involved have a great deal to answer for.”

Allison Pearson offers a few more details regarding the failure of the police.

One 11-year-old known as Child H told police that she and another girl had been sexually assaulted by grown men. Nothing was done. When she was 12, Child H was found in the back of a taxi with a man who had indecent pictures of her on his phone. Despite the full co-operation of her father, who insisted his daughter was being abused, police failed to act. Four months later, Child H was found in a house alone with a group of Pakistani men. What did the police do? They arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly and ignored her abusers.

More, from Tony Woodlief.

Local police have known about this for over ten years. So have all manner of child welfare authorities and local government officials. They convened conferences to discuss it. They combatted it with guidelines and policies. They bravely met for many hours, and boldly authored internal memos.

Perhaps we should expect no more when community preservation is outsourced to bureaucracies, but the unavoidable reality is that on many occasions, Rotherham police came upon children being sexually exploited—in some cases, in the very instance of being raped—and arrested no one. The perpetrators are Pakistani; they might call us racists. The children seemed to consent. These gangs are violent.

All of which amount to an admission by those police officers that they are cowards, and something less than men. I’m reminded of the janitors who discovered Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s rape of children, and who said nothing, for fear of losing their jobs. They were cowards too, and deserve to be remembered as such.

This site is dedicated to chronicling examples of government failure. Our intention is to persuade through the weight of accumulated evidence. But this particular instance of government failure is so horrendous that it makes other failures we document look trivial by comparison. We’re tempted to rest our case against government on this one post alone, and then to retire from the blog. Law professor Glenn Reynolds thought the failure so bad as to call into question the implicit social contract between the citizenry and the state.

A moral response to this behavior might involve those officials, among others, hanging from lampposts. The legal system is, ultimately, an ancient bargain: Renounce your mob violence and blood feuds and we will provide you with justice. It could be argued that such a default as this calls the whole bargain into question, and justifies self-help along ancient lines.

No doubt, heads must roll. The officials involved must be sacked, and in some cases, jailed. And more generally, if the quality of governance in the Western World continues its relentless deterioration, the time might soon arrive when the more public-spirited among the citizenry will need to seriously contemplate resorting to rebellion and rope.

It’s not just vacuum cleaners

And it’s not just Europe. U.S. bureaucrats appear determined to make sure that nearly every appliance in your home A) costs more and B) works less effectively. facepalm

Spurred by President Obama’s climate action plan, the Department of Energy is pumping out new standards for refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, lamps and many more appliances.

The administration says the standards will not only help the planet but also stimulate the economy by saving consumers money on their energy bills that they can spend elsewhere.

But industry groups argue the standards, which will apply to both commercial and household appliances, could slow the economy, and that the Energy Department is rushing the new rules while overestimating the savings. Other critics argue the push to regulate household appliances is evidence of a nanny state.

Can a country still be said to be ‘free’ where citizens are not even allowed to choose their own appliances?

The rules will affect nearly every household in the country.

“We all have a microwave or a refrigerator or a dishwasher, so these rules do affect basically every American household,” said Sofie Miller, a researcher at The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.

We notice that our new dishwasher, thanks to existing regulations, does not clean as well as did our old one, manufactured some 25 years ago. We can hardly imagine how bad dishwashers will get after the next round of regulations.

Government keeps saying it’s on the side of the ‘little guy.’ But as usual, government regulation hits the poor the hardest.

Business groups say the new rules will be expensive for industry to comply with because it will require them to buy new technologies to develop appliances that emit less energy. That will raise the retail prices of household appliances, they say…

Lower-income consumers, however, will be at a disadvantage, [Miller] said. They will have a tough time paying for the more expensive appliances, and are likely to keep using older ones.

She also said that could defeat the environmental reasons for pushing the new rules.

“If you can’t afford a dishwasher, you’re stuck washing your dishes by hand,” Miller said, “which actually uses more water.”

Not everyone stands to lose from the new regulations, however. At least some producers will benefit.

While many of the efficiency rules target household appliances, others focus on business appliances, such as commercial ice-makers, commercial refrigerators and walk-in coolers and freezers.

The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute is challenging the later two rules in federal court. Yurek argues the rules could force as much as 40 percent of the industry out of business.

Ah, but eliminating that 40 percent of the industry would benefit the remaining 60 percent. As the Roman lawyers used to say, if you want to know why a law exists, ask yourself:  Cui bono?, Who benefits?

This report appears in The Hill, a mainstream outlet that has neither a conservative nor a libertarian ideological allegiance. Yet in the online comments, scores of readers expressed opposition to the regulations. At the same time, we noticed only one troll (a government employee, perchance?) who supported the regulations.

Despite the public’s opposition, we would bet that most of these regulations get implemented.

Power to the People?

Then, they came for the vacuum cleaners…

Government can’t catch terrorists or balance its budget, but they sure can protect consumers from powerful vacuum cleaners that work well.

Shoppers are panic-buying powerful vacuum cleaners to beat an EU ban that comes into force next week.

Last night retailers reported that sales had soared by nearly 50 per cent as consumers snap up any remaining stock in the run-up to the Brussels diktat outlawing machines of over 1,600 watts.

Many stores and websites have already run out of the most powerful models, with one reporting its busiest day for sales in more than a decade…

A list of up to 30 high-wattage household devices could be banned next spring following a draft EU report which examined ways to reduce power consumption.

Consumer magazine Which? said the new rules on vacuum cleaners would outlaw some of the best machines, which owe their strong suction ability to their high power consumption.

From September 1, companies will be prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuum cleaners above the 1,600-watt limit as part of a drive to reduce domestic electricity use…

Yesterday, there was evidence that consumers are stockpiling their favourite models to use in the decades to come.

Chris Wesson, posted a photograph on Twitter of two 2,000-watt Panasonic vacuums which he said his mother had bought.

He tweeted the comment: ‘Only my mum would stock up on powerful vacuum cleaners before this ban comes into effect. We now have five in our house…’

See, free-born citizens shouldn’t be forced by their government to stockpile vacuum cleaners. Or light bulbs. Or toilets, or refrigerant, or detergent, or shower heads, or… How long do people intend to put up with this crap?

Plus the claim that the ban will save energy is dubious.

The ban from Monday on powerful vacuum cleaners has angered manufacturers, who say it will do nothing to make machines more environmentally friendly and will simply reduce efficiency in the home.

Critics say cleaners satisfying the new rule may use less power but householders will have to use them for longer – so they are likely to use the same amount of electricity in the long run.

Yup, you’ll have to use the vacuum for longer, like having to flush a 1.6-gallon toilet twice.

The bureaucrats, of course, tried to downplay the impact on consumers.

Marlene Holzner, the European Commission’s energy spokesman, said the amount of wattage does not automatically indicate how well a vacuum will perform.

She added what counted was how efficiently a vacuum translated its electrical power into picking up dust, and this would be measured under the new rules.

But the respected consumer magazine Which?, basically the British version of Consumer Reports, countered that most of the best models will be banned.

Last week consumer watchdog Which? warned that many of the best models that appear in its Best Buy tables will be taken off the market as a result of the new EU rule.

Of seven awarded ‘Best Buy’ status since January 2013, five have motors with a power of more than 1,600 watts, it said. The maximum wattage will be lowered further to 900 watts by 2017. Current cleaners have an average wattage of 1,800.

So the plan is to reduce the maximum power to only half of the current average and to do so within less than 3 years. We have to believe that such a dramatic loss of power would have to significantly reduce cleaning effectiveness. The only way effectiveness wouldn’t fall would be if producers, motivated by profit, manage to offset the loss of power by dramatically improving technology within a short period of time.

Left-liberals believe that only the government can save us from the profit motive. The reality is that only the profit motive can save us from the government.