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.

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.

Notable and Quotable

Jonah Goldberg:

It’s a little bizarre how the Left has always conflated statism with modernity and progress. The idea that rulers — be they chieftains, kings, priests, politburos, or wonkish bureaucrats — are enlightened or smart enough to tell others how to live is older than the written word. And the idea that someone stronger, with better weapons, has the right to take what is yours predates man’s discovery of fire by millennia. And yet, we’re always told that the latest rationalization for increased state power is the “wave of the future.”

That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another — fascism, Communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.

The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going.

Lady Luck?

This is a very interesting story.  My takeaway is that marrying a lawyer is probably not the best idea:

Harold Hamm is an improbable billionaire, the 13th child of sharecroppers who grew up to control more oil than anyone who isn’t a king or a dictator. So from the moment the news broke last year that he and his wife of 25 years were divorcing, the expectation on Wall Street was that Hamm would accept a fight for his cash and his company. Just not a fight like this.

In Hamm v. Hamm, which is in its second week at trial inside a closed Oklahoma City courtroom, one of the world’s largest personal fortunes is caught up in a timeless conundrum of cause and effect. Did Mr. Hamm become one of the planet’s 50 richest people because he was essentially lucky, a Jed Clampett whose shot happened to strike black gold? Or did he climb the human ziggurat primarily because of sweat and skill, a Ragged Dick whose labor set him free?

In legal terms, the case comes down to “active” versus “passive” appreciation of marital assets, explained Carolyn Thompson, a prominent divorce lawyer in Oklahoma City. “To the extent that it was his work that made him wealthy, then it’s a marital asset, subject to equitable division. If it is attributable to what we call ‘passive’ factors—outside his control—then it remains Harold’s property.”

In February Judge Howard Haralson set this question in motion. He ruled that Mr. Hamm’s stake in Continental Resources was personal property. After all, Mr. Hamm had founded the company back in 1967, two decades before he married a brown-eyed lawyer named Sue Ann.

But Continental’s value has quintupled in recent years, producing more than $17 billion in value, according to an economic analysis by his wife’s legal team. On Monday Judge Haralson released that document, and within the next few weeks he plans to apportion the $17 billion based on what he believes created it: the work of Mr. Hamm, the grace and beneficence of Mother Earth, or, most likely, some combination.

The result is a downright Shakespearean drama, according to a lawyer familiar with the case. In one corner, the richest energy mogul in America—a drawling, cantankerous, fire-eyed game hunter and amateur pilot—is claiming that all $17 billion was essentially dumb luck. In the other, his wife—who moved out years ago—is claiming that all $17 billion is the result of her husband’s infinite wisdom.

‘Hope and Change’ Update

Black household income relative to white household income is now at its lowest level since 1967.

From the New York Times.

The riots in Ferguson follow a period of setback for African-Americans, despite the fact that we have a sitting black president in the White House.

While the economic downturns of the last decade-and-a-half have taken their toll on the median income of all races and ethnic groups, blacks have been the hardest hit. By 2012, black median household income had fallen to 58.4 percent of white income, almost back to where it was in 1967 — 7.9 points below its level in 1999.

 

Bang for the Buck

The Tax Foundation just released this study which adjusts the value of $100 in various parts of the country to account for different states’ prices. Due to higher price tags for the same goods, this $100 buys less in expensive states than in states where items cost less. It probably won’t come as much as a surprise that you should look no further than the Beltway for the priciest spot. A $100 bill in the District of Columbia will only buy $84.60 worth of items

RIP, John Rapp (bumped)

UD Professor John Rapp passed away Saturday morning at the age of 77. John was Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, where he previously served as chair of the department. He also served for many years as Associate Dean of the School of Business.Rapp

John was known as an excellent teacher with a gift for communicating complex economic concepts in understandable terms. He taught for more than 40 years, often in large auditorium classrooms, and over those many years he must have taught economics to more than 10,000, perhaps more than 20,000, students. Indeed, his students can be found almost anywhere, all around the country, spanning multiple generations, often in the same family.

We recall an incident from last summer, when we were sitting with John outside a restaurant, and some sort of outdoor festival was taking place nearby. Suddenly, a young man emerged from the crowd and rushed toward us. He strode up to John, his face beaming and his hand extended, and exclaimed, “Professor Rapp! You were my professor back in 20_ _.” That sort of thing happened a lot, since John touched so many lives.

We were fortunate to work with John for the last 14 years of his career. Despite working in a profession–academia–that attracts more than its share of schemers and backstabbers, John was notably trustworthy and a straight-shooter. In a profession with more than its share of eccentrics, John was normal and down-to-earth.

As an administrator, John consistently displayed equanimity, and treated people with fairness and decency. Experience taught him which battles were worth fighting and which were not, and his decision-making reflected prudence and good judgement.

As an economist, John staunchly defended free-markets and human liberty.

He will be missed.

Keeping the Kids at Home

A nice illustration of the law of demand via the New York Post:

A mogul spent six figures to win lunch for two with Bill and Hillary Clinton at a charity auction benefiting the Clinton Foundation — but when the winner asked to bring his two kids along, he was told he’d have to double his bid to $1 million.

Spies said Charitybuzz CEO Coppy Holzman was talking about the recent Clinton auction hosted by his website at a swanky Hamptons Magazine party for ArtHamptons last Friday.

One witness said Holzman regaled guests with a tale that “lunch for two with Bill and Hillary went for $500,000 to benefit the Clinton Foundation.” And the winning bid came from “a Chinese business mogul who then asked if he could bring his two children along to the meeting.”

But, our spy said, the high bidder was then told by the Clinton camp he could only bring his kids for a cool $1 million.

“The couple opted to leave the children at home,” the source cracked.

Climate Change: Follow the Money

We agree with reader Victor Twardowski that this sounds like a total waste of taxpayer money.

GILBERT, Ariz. — A $470 million NASA satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE: ORB) here promises to give scientists their clearest picture yet of Earth’s warming atmosphere and provide a powerful new tool for climate-change science after its much-anticipated launch next week.

From its perch 438 miles above Earth’s surface, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will be NASA’s first satellite with the sole purpose of measuring atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.

During its two-year mission, the satellite will provide more-accurate readings of CO2 levels on global and regional scales, allowing scientists to better understand how natural processes and human activity affect concentrations of the greenhouse gas.

Using space-based measurements, scientists can look for carbon sources, like cities where CO2 is produced in mass quantities. They also expect to find carbon “sinks,” areas like the Amazon rain forest where dense vegetation sucks carbon dioxide from the air to produce oxygen.

Cities produce a lot of CO2? Who knew?

If they really want accurate CO2 measurements, why don’t they open a window or put up a balloon to take an air sample? But we guess that wouldn’t create enough jobs for NASA or Orbital Sciences.

Oh, but the satellite might also be able to reveal just how much CO2 is spewed by China.

Global leaders will be able to see which countries, states and even cities emit the most CO2, he said.

“It will be very clear,” Myint said. “Nobody will be able to deny what is going on in a particular city or province. So policy makers can make real serious decisions based on what is going on in those areas.”

Yeah, just throw that satellite data in their faces, and the Chinese will have no choice but to take action! Right.

This is actually the second such satellite constructed. The first one crashed due to launch failure back in 2009. But no worries, the ‘scientists,’ were able to scrape together more taxpayer money to build a replacement, bringing the total cost to the range of $750 million.

Note also that the satellite has a “two year mission.” What happens after two years, does it turn into a pumpkin? Does this mean taxpayers will have to fork over another half-billion or so every two years?

We’re not the only ones skeptical of the utility of this satellite.

Associate Professor Arnim Wiek at Arizona State believes the nearly $750 million spent on the two satellites could have been better spent on solution-oriented research, such as renewable energy and low-carbon urban development.

The data itself will not directly generate solutions to the problem, he said.

“While this might be a worthwhile scientific endeavor, it does not avoid or reduce any carbon-dioxide emissions,” Wiek said. “Even more, it does not provide any knowledge on how to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.”

Ah, but the good professor is perhaps not aware of the real benefit of the satellite.

Orbital Sciences is a Virginia-based spacecraft and rocket manufacturer with a major satellite production center and 300 employees in this Phoenix suburb.

Global Warming sure is big business. Won’t happen, but an enterprising journalist should check Orbital Sciences’ political contributions.

Best case scenario: NASA is actually launching a secret military satellite, and CO2 is just a convenient cover story.