And Again: Cleaning Lady Throws Away Museum Display

The people who work as cleaning staff at museums have not typically been miseducated to believe that trash, like say a half-eaten sandwich, can be art. Cleaners instead labor under the benighted and retrograde perception that trash is just trash. As a result, cleaning staff at museums around the world end up throwing away displays of postmodern so-called art. The latest example comes from a museum in the southern Alps.

The Museion Bozen-Bolzano museum in northern Italy said a cleaner mistook empty bottles of champagne, cigarette butts, colorful confetti and pieces of clothing scattered around one of its exhibition rooms for mess left behind by partygoers at an event.

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Ermanno Zanella/Museion

“The cleaner was new, and was asked to clean up the room where we held a book presentation the night before,” the museum’s director Letizia Ragaglia told NBC News. “When she saw all the bottles of champagne in the foyer, she thought that must have been the right room.

Instead, she “cleaned up” an installation by artists Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari called “Where shall we go dancing tonight,” which the museum’s website says is meant to represent hedonism, consumerism and financial speculation in the 1980s Italian political scene.

The 1980s Italian political scene is probably not the first thing we’d think of upon viewing the piece. More like, the utter nihilism and worthlessness of postmodern art.

Not all critics are enamored by the piece.

Vittorio Sgarbi, one of Italy’s most popular art critics, said the cleaner “was right” to throw the installation in the trash.

“If she thought it was rubbish, it means it was. Art should be understood by everyone — including cleaners,” Sgarbi told NBC News. “The fact that the museum could simply pick the pieces from the trash bin and put them back together shows you that wasn’t art in the first place.”

This Sgarbi guy–we like the cut of his jib.

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Stat of the Day

The proportion of 8th graders in Detroit public schools who are proficient in reading:

Seven percent.

In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.

That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.

[…]

According to data published by the Detroit Public Schools, the school district’s operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 amounted to approximately $14,743 per student.

Not much learning going on, but all the teachers and school bureaucrats got paid, and virtually everyone involved still votes Democrat, so, it’s all good.

For purpose of comparison, in Springboro, Ohio, home base for Chateau Yet, Freedom!, the schools spend about $9,000 per student.

But hey, Detroit’s obviously a godforsaken place. The rest of America can’t be nearly as bad as Detroit. So what’s the proficiency rate for the United States as a whole?

One-third.

Nationwide, only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading in 2015 and only 32 percent scored proficient or better in mathematics.

So two out of three children in public school score less than proficient.

Over to you, National Education Association.

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Notable and Quotable

Kevin Williamson, on the Obama Administration’s decision not to indict anyone for using the IRS as a political weapon.

I think this makes it clear that the Department of Justice either cannot or will not do its job. Lois Lerner’s cynical, overt politicization of the Internal Revenue Service, and the fact that she and other IRS leaders misled investigators, Congress, and the public about the extent of the IRS’s political shenanigans, undermines the legitimacy of the federal government. DOJ won’t lift a pinky against a friend of the Obama administration. This is banana-republic stuff.

It’s Come to This

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the term “politically correct” is now officially politically incorrect.

The “Just Words” campaign, first noted by Campus Reform, is run by UWM’s Inclusive Excellence Center which says its purpose is to “raise awareness of microaggressions, their impact, [and] provide an insight into their meaning.” In line with that goal, the phrase “politically correct” (or “PC”) has been labeled a microaggression that students should avoid using.

“Over time PC has become a way to deflect, say that people are being too ‘sensitive,’ and police language,” a poster created by the Inclusive Excellence Center says. “It is disconnected from authentic understanding of impact.”

So in order to prevent policing of language, UWM is now…policing language.

Furthermore, anybody who produces a sentence like “It is disconnected from authentic understanding of impact,” clearly lacks basic proficiency in written English. What is ‘authentic understanding,’ and how does it differ from ‘inauthentic understanding’? Is ‘disconnected from understanding’ just an awkward way of saying ‘misunderstood’? What does ‘impact’ refer to? Maybe before trying to police the speech of others, these UWM apparatchiks should straighten out their own speech.

Among the many words that the UWM pamphlet tells students to avoid are ‘crazy,’ ‘thug,’ ‘illegal immigrant,’ and ‘welfare queen.’ But if we can’t use those terms, how then are we to refer to such people?

Maybe we’ll just have to lump them all together by referring to them as The Base of the Democrat Party.

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Our Corrupt Government: IRS Wrongdoing Whitewashed

All the evidence suggests that, under Obama’s administration, the federal government weaponized the IRS against American citizens. That’s just about the worst and most corrupt thing the government could do short of a coup or a treasonous sellout to a foreign enemy. On Friday (news embarrassing to the government is always released on Fridays) we found out that this scandal, objectively one of the worst in American history, will result in no criminal charges for the perpetrators. In other words, the corrupt Department of Justice is covering up for the criminally corrupt IRS.

The Justice Department notified members of Congress on Friday that it is closing its two-year investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted the tea party and other conservative groups.
There will be no charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner or anyone else at the agency, the Justice Department said in a letter.

The probe found “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said in the letter.

The IRS scandal exploded in May 2013 when Lerner answered a planted question at an American Bar Association event and apologized for inappropriately scrutinizing some groups applying for a tax exemption. Her response fueled a full-on scandal within hours that shook the Obama administration. Congressional hearings were held within weeks and the interim leader of the IRS was forced from office.

The IRS mishandled the processing of tax-exempt applications in a manner that disproportionately impacted applicants affiliated with the tea party and similar groups, leaving the appearance that the IRS’s conduct was motivated by political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives.

See, the IRS conduct only had the “appearance” of being motivated by “political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives,” but really it was just mismanagement and poor judgment.

Which is rather like arguing that the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which had the appearance of an act of war, and indeed a war crime, was really just mismanagement and poor judgment on the part of the Japanese Admiralty.

The federal government is corrupt, and no decent person should feel good at all about sending to DC any of his or her hard-earned tax money.

lerner

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Cradle-to-Grave Socialism: Who Pays?

The central swindle of socialists is that they convince people that government will supply them with free stuff, and that somebody else–billionaires, corporations–will pay for it. But the problem with socialism, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. There simply are not enough billionaires to tax to support a massive welfare state. And so, taxes end up higher on virtually everyone.

Although the United States maintains a trillion-dollar welfare state, European governments give out even more free stuff. For instance, in France, university students not only get free tuition, they even get free meals. Who pays for all that? Answer: Just about everybody.

In Europe the middle class pays a higher fraction of their income in taxes. In Europe, even the poor pay more in tax. The poor pay more in tax because Europe largely funds its welfare states with regressive value-added taxes that make almost all goods and services more expensive for poor people.

Now self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders says he wants America to give away the same free stuff that Europe does, in particular, “paid family and medical leave.” Who pays for that? Sanders is honest enough to admit that he wants to raise taxes on virtually everyone.

Sanders said, “I think if you are looking about guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, which every other major country has so that when a mom gives birth she doesn’t have to go back to work in two weeks. Dad or mom can stay home with the kids. That will require a small increase in the payroll tax.”

Stephanopoulos said, “That’s going to hit everybody.”

Sanders agreed saying, “That would hit everybody, yeah, It would but it would mean we were drawing the rest of the industrialized world and make sure that when a mom has a baby she can in fact stay home with that baby for three months rather than go back to work at the end of one week. We are the only country, only major country that doesn’t guarantee paid family and medical leave. We do a lot of great things in this country but we are behind many other countries in protecting the middle class and working families.”

By the way, what sense does it make to argue that, because the “rest of the industrialized world” does X, the U.S. should also do X? Since when are these countries in the “rest of the industrialized world” the authorities on social policy? The two largest economies in that group–Japan and Germany–were within living memory run by genocidal mass murderers. Some of them, like Spain, Portugal, and Greece, were run by military dictators as recently as the 1970s.

The “rest of the industrialized world” has no First Amendment and no Second Amendment. Most of the industrialized world has no legal protections equivalent to the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Would Bernie Sanders recommend that the U.S., in order to become more like the rest of the industrialized world, repeal the Bill of Rights?

The fact is that the United States was founded primarily by people who left Europe because they didn’t like how things were done there. The United States is supposed to be an alternative to Europe, not an imitation of Europe. What point would there be to living in the U.S. if the U.S. were to become just like Europe except with less art and worse food? Might as well just move to Europe.

 

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Socialists: Out of Date by Centuries

The Washington Post recently published an attack on capitalism entitled “Tired of Capitalism? There Could be a Better Way.” What people should be tired of by now are the same old arguments against capitalism. This article rehashes arguments on property and labor markets that have been endlessly repeated–and refuted–since about 1840. But thanks to the Washington Post, we get to hear yet again about how capitalism ‘exploits’ workers.

When the physical resources necessary for production are privately held in the hands of very few, as in the United States, the majority of the population is forced to submit itself to well-financed employers in order to live. The precarious position of most workers in this position — desperate for employment but aware that they could lose their jobs at any time — is coercive on its face and susceptible to exploitation and abuse.
Labor protection in the form of safety laws, collective bargaining and prohibitions against harassment and discrimination have helped cut down on many of the worst employer abuses. But no amount of labor regulation can ever undo the fact that workers are confronted daily with the choice between obeying a supervisor or losing all their income. The only way to break the coercion at the core of the employment relationship is to give people the genuine ability to say no to their employers. And the only way to make that feasible is to guarantee that working-age adults, at least, have some way to support themselves whether they work or not.

We’re ready to bet a substantial sum that the author of this piece, Matt Bruenig, has never had a job in business where he had authority to hire people. If he had, he would know that a huge problem for businesses is retaining employees after spending a lot on hiring and training them. The fact is that workers already have “the genuine ability to say no to their employers.” They can quit, and thousands do so every day, often to their employer’s dismay. Workers quit in most cases because they have already found, or expect to find, another job. In other words, there is competition among employers for their services.

This competition for workers explains why the vast majority of employees earn more than the legal minimum wage. The author says that “the majority of the population is forced to submit itself to well-financed employers” and that “workers are confronted daily with the choice between obeying a supervisor or losing all their income.” But the other side of that transaction is that the employer is confronted daily with the choice between keeping his workers happy or losing them to another employer. As a result, employers must pay market wages, which for almost all workers are well above the legal minimum.

The Pew organization found that all but 2.6% of employees earn more than the minimum. Even this figure overstates those who earn only the minimum because some of these workers get extra income from tips. The real figure is somewhere between 1.2 and 2.6 percent; call it roughly 2 percent. If employers really have employees at their mercy, then why do they pay 98% of them more than the legal minimum? The answer is competition.

What protects workers is not primarily “safety laws, collective bargaining and prohibitions against harassment and discrimination.” What protects workers is competition among employers for their services. As a result, anyone who truly cares about workers should oppose socialism. Full-fledged socialism replaces competition among private employers with employment only by the state. When the state becomes the only employer, then the worker becomes subject to coercion and exploitation. State socialism, not free enterprise, is precisely the situation in which the worker is “confronted daily with the choice between obeying” and utter destruction. As Trotsky wrote of state socialism, “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.”

The author of the Washington Post piece calls for alleviating poverty with government welfare programs. Another fresh new idea from the 19th century! As if America did not already have dozens of means-tested welfare programs on which we spend nearly a trillion dollars every year. The author wants people to “have some way to support themselves whether they work or not,” as if America did not already have welfare, social security, and literally millions of people living on often-phony SSI disability claims.

By now, it is well established that capitalism is fundamentally built upon threats of force. As libertarian philosophers Robert Nozick and Matt Zwolinski have explained, the only way to turn unowned natural resources (such as land, minerals and other goods) into privately owned property is by violently preventing all others from using them.

Although the author cites modern writers, this idea that property is coercive and a form of theft goes back to at least 1840 and the writings of the French theorist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. It’s amazing; for socialists like Matt Bruenig we’re always living in the Marxist-Dickensian world of the 19th century with grinding poverty, no welfare state, and no billions of people yet lifted out of poverty by capitalism–including hundreds of millions in China alone. Socialists are not just years out of date; they are centuries out of date.

Maybe by the year 2525–if man is still alive–capitalism will have terraformed Mars for human habitation and some scruffy Red professor at Red Planet University will still be droning on about capitalist ‘exploitation.’

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The Lamest Generation

Writing in Psychology Today, Professor Peter Gray notes that today’s college students are increasingly needy, emotionally fragile, and lacking in “resilience” and “grit.” Many of them are simply unprepared for college in terms of emotional maturity. The problem is getting so bad that it’s becoming a burden for professors, and threatening to undermine the mission of the university.

[W]e learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.

More evidence also that we have too many cops.

For the professor, these students are taking the fun out of teaching.

Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices. Many students, they said, now view a C, or sometimes even a B, as failure, and they interpret such “failure” as the end of the world. Faculty also noted an increased tendency for students to blame them (the faculty) for low grades—they weren’t explicit enough in telling the students just what the test would cover or just what would distinguish a good paper from a bad one. They described an increased tendency to see a poor grade as reason to complain rather than as reason to study more, or more effectively.

Some campus meetings attended by Prof. Gray produced the following distressing points.

  • Less resilient and needy students have shaped the landscape for faculty in that they are expected to do more handholding, lower their academic standards, and not challenge students too much.

  • There is a sense of helplessness among the faculty. Many faculty members expressed their frustration with the current situation. There were few ideas about what we could do as an institution to address the issue.

  • Students are afraid to fail; they do not take risks; they need to be certain about things. For many of them, failure is seen as catastrophic and unacceptable. External measures of success are more important than learning and autonomous development.

  • Faculty, particularly young faculty members, feel pressured to accede to student wishes lest they get low teacher ratings from their students. Students email about trivial things and expect prompt replies.

  • Failure and struggle need to be normalized. Students are very uncomfortable in not being right. They want to re-do papers to undo their earlier mistakes. We have to normalize being wrong and learning from one’s errors.

How did we get ourselves into this fine mess? Prof. Gray has a plausible explanation: the ‘helicopter society.’

“[H]elicopter parenting really is at the core of the problem. But I don’t blame parents, or certainly not just parents. Parents are in some ways victims of larger forces in society—victims of the continuous exhortations from “experts” about the dangers of letting kids be, victims of the increased power of the school system and the schooling mentality that says kids develop best when carefully guided and supervised by adults, and victims of increased legal and social sanctions for allowing kids into public spaces without adult accompaniment. We have become, unfortunately, a “helicopter society.”

Back in 2004, Michael Barone published a book called Hard America, Soft America. Barone pointed out that America produces the most incompetent 18-year-olds, but the most competent 30-year-olds, in the world. All these college kids are still closer to 18 than to 30. Hopefully, by 30 they’ll have grown up. Otherwise, this country is in big trouble.

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A Leftist Conundrum

Sean Davis posed an excellent question to anti-gun leftists–was Hitler wrong to disarm the Jews? This question puts lefties in a pickle, because answering yes discredits their position that citizens shouldn’t be armed, but answering no means they agree with Hitler. Libtard ‘journalist’ Glenn Thrush in particular did not cover himself in glory by his handling of the question.

Davis_1Davis_2Davis_3So Glenn Thrush, “chief political correspondent” at Politico, is not only intellectually dishonest, but thinks that “who the f–k made…?” is a yes/no question.