Monthly Archives: May 2020

Is Islam a ‘race?’

Is Islam a ‘race’? By Peter Burrows, 5/25/20 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 

Is Islam a ‘race’? Most people I know would think that is a really, really dumb question, but most people I know aren’t liberals.  The liberals I know have to think about that question, proving that all you have to do to turn a liberal’s brains to mush is to mention the word ‘race.’  

For proof, see the following, from a liberal, one who even has a Ph.D.:  

re: is Islam a race? As a biologist, that is a difficult question because the genetic necessity of the category does not hold up to statistical testing. In other words, if racial categories are considered statistical treatments, we find more variability within the treatments than between them. At the scale of the individual case and only considering the evidence you have presented for cause and effect (which is again a problem of scale), then I would, of course, and meaninglessly, agree with you. 2/25/20 

I know what you’re thinking: “You made that up, Burro! Nobody, NOBODY could be so creatively stupid!” 

Nope.  I’m flattered if you think I’m smart enough to come up with such a convoluted parody of liberal thinking. It brings to mind something George Orwell once said: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” 

To clarify the above answer from my liberal friend, his PhD. Is not in biology, but Forestry, and while he ends by agreeing with me, I had proffered no opinion, so I assume he knew that I don’t think Islam is a ‘race.’ In that he is correct.  

After all, if Islam is a race than Christianity is also a race, as is Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.  These ‘races’ must be further divided into sub-species, e.g., Islam would have the Sunni race, and the Shi’a race; Christianity would have the Catholic race and the Protestant race; and the latter would have its own subspecies, e.g. the Baptist race. 

All of which would mean that my Lutheran wife and I have had a very long biracial marriage, me being raised a Methodist. Of course, if I wished to join the Muslim race, all I would have to do is repeat the shahada: “There is one God who is Allah and His prophet is Muhammad.”  

Voila! I have changed my race! About now you are thinking, “Enough, Burro! We get it. Nobody can possibly think a religion is a race.”  

Au contraire, mon frere.  Trump’s terrorist travel ban targets mostly Muslim majority countries and has been called “blatantly racist” by the National Council of Churches. When Trump expanded the travel ban last January, The Executive Director of The National Immigration Justice Center said, “This Muslim Ban expansion is founded on nothing more than cruelty and racism.”  

Sadly, the terrorist travel ban should be against all Muslims but it isn’t. Trump was on the right path when he campaigned on an anti-Muslim theme, saying in 2015 that he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the Hell is going on. We have no choice.” 

That was then. Unfortunately, while the word ‘race’ turns liberals’ brains into mush, it also turns conservatives’ SPINES into mush. Trump advisors John Bolton and Sebastian Gorka, who were familiar with Islamic ideology are gone, and Trump now sounds like so many other politically correct morons. 

For example, the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, is celebrated with a dinner called Eid al-Fitr, “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” The White House had hosted such diners since 1996 as a gesture of friendship to the Muslim world. Trump ended that tradition in 2017, and I had hopes there would never be another. However, he reinstated the dinner in 2018, continuing in 2019 and 2020.   

This year he put out a press release that read: “On Eid al-Fitr, the First Lady and I send our warmest greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world as they celebrate. —Now more than ever we are reminded of the reassuring peace, uplifting love, and heartening fellowship that religion brings into our lives.  We send our best wishes for a blessed and joyous Eid al-Fitr.” 

“Reassuring peace”?  The Religion of Peace website has this tally for acts of atrocity committed by Muslims during this year’s Ramadan: 718 deaths in 175 attacks in 20 countries. The site notes that this year’s Ramadan didn’t have any incidents “in the name of other religions or from the much-touted ‘right-wing’ threat.” 

So, what has changed Trump the realistic campaigner into Trump the delusional President? I doubt he thinks Islam is a ‘race,’ and I hope he is engaging in some Machiavellian strategy to lull Muslims into a false sense of security, but I’m afraid that’s not the case. I think he just doesn’t understand Islamic fundamentals and for political reasons is trying to refute the charge that he’s a ‘racist.’. 

I’m saddened because I was hoping to cast a proactive vote for a president this year, instead of voting against whomever the Democrats nominate. But alas, Trump has joined his two predecessors, Obama and G.W. Bush, as just another useful idiot in the spread of Islam. I cannot vote ‘for’ a president who doesn’t recognize that Islam is an existential threat to our country. 

I wish there was a “None of the Above” on the ballot.  

 

Economics for Dummies and Liberals

Economics for Dummies and Liberals by Peter Burrows 5/19/20 elburrpete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com

Most people hear the word “economics” and their minds shut down.  That’s too bad because the basic fundamentals of economics are not difficult to understand.  Most people would think that these fundamentals are just common sense. Maybe we should call it ‘simplenomics” so people wouldn’t be intimidated.

The most fundamental rule of economics is what I call the Brezhnev rule, named after the former Russian dictator. (I’d call it the “Burro” rule but then you wouldn’t be impressed.) Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, longer than anyone except Stalin.  By most accounts, he wasn’t a bad guy as Russian dictators go. He certainly was reflective, as this statement reveals:

“It is an elementary fact that a society cannot consume what is not first produced and transported.” He made this statement, as I recall, when addressing the Duma, the Soviet Parliament, in a state-of-the- union type address.  It is an unremarkable economic statement except for the “and transported” part, which caught my attention and is why I remember it so clearly.

At the time I recalled pictures of piles of cabbages rotting at rail depots in Russia because their economic system was so poor in the “transporting” function, and I could understand why Brezhnev would mention it.  It’s not something an American would even think of because we take our distribution system for granted.  That doesn’t just mean roads and rails and trucks. It’s also Walmart and Kroger’s and McDonalds and all the enterprises involved in getting products from the producer to the consumer.

By mentioning “and transported,” Brezhnev was revealing a weakness in central planning that hadn’t occurred to me. Also, his comment that production was required before consumption impressed me as an elementary fact that I had never heard articulated before, certainly not by any Western politician.

I think trying to run a state-run economy is a crash course in “elementary” economic fundamentals, and If there is a more elementary economic fundamental than that things must be produced before they can be consumed, I don’t know what it is.  This has always been true. If you were a hunter-gatherer and the rains didn’t come and the berries dried up and the deer disappeared, you died.  It’s true regardless of the economic system, feudal, free or state-run.

Since a corollary fundamental is that the more a society produces, the wealthier that society becomes, the question then becomes: which economic system produces the most?  Experience has proven beyond a doubt that the most prosperous economies are free-enterprise economies.  Contrast East and West Germany, North and South Korea, or try to find a Walmart in Cuba.

If everybody looked at the world with this production-then-consumption view, we could avoid a lot of stupid government economic policies. For example, minimum wage laws are very popular but they put the economic cart before the horse.  For example, the purpose of a $15 per hour minimum wage is to ensure that workers can consume $15 worth of goods for each hour they work. However, if they can’t produce $15 per hour, they won’t have a job. Period.

In common sense language, you can’t be paid more than you earn. Seen in that light, minimum wage laws don’t make economic sense.  Such laws are widely blamed for dramatic increases in teenage unemployment over the last 70 years, but minimum wage laws are “feel good” and emotional. Facts don’t matter,

The same could be said of capital gains taxes, which reduce the capital of successful investors, precisely the group society should want to have more capital to invest. Why? Because private investors are much better investors than government bureaucrats.

Here’ an analogy to ponder. Imagine we are bench-sitters on a basketball team starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Who do you want to see taking shots, those two guys or the referees?  Do we really want to take capital away from people like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and put that money in the hands of government officials?

Unfortunately, that’s precisely what some people want to do. The accumulation of private wealth is offensive to their egalitarian sensibilities, even though such wealth was earned fair and square, not a penny stolen from anybody. From a legal standpoint, that’s also true for Chicago janitors retiring on $100,000 per year, presidents of marginal New Mexico universities making over $300,000 per year, or managers of tiny New Mexican cities being paid $100,000 per year, and on and on and on.

Libertarians have a cute little phrase, “taxation is theft,” technically inaccurate but morally apt in all too many cases.  I notice that those who would penalize Bezos don’t seem to have any problem with overpaid government workers.

I do, because I don’t have any choice in the matter, but I’m OK with Bezos becoming the world’s first trillionaire. I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, and I watch ‘Bosch’ on Amazon Prime. Thanks, Jeff, for enriching this bench-sitter’s life, you stupid liberal.

(Note to economic geeks: All of the above can be interpreted as a version of Say’s Law, from the 18-Century Frenchman Jean Baptiste Say, who famously noted; “Products are paid for with products.” This is another way of saying that the essence of all economic activity is barter, your pig for my cow, etc. The invention of currency both greatly increased economic efficiency and stared to complicate things. ‘Produce before consume’ is nice and simple. Even I can understand it.)