Billionaires, Guilt, and the Population Myth

gates-buffet

A bunch of billionaires got together in New York the other day to discuss the world’s problems. Apparently in the minds of these oligarchs, our biggest problem is too many people. Seriously.

As the Times of London described it:

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

Allow me to begin by pointing out that this list of seven billionaires contains three utter loons (Soros, Turner, Winfrey); one nanny-state champion who has run New York City back into the ground after Giuliani resurrected it (Bloomberg); a one-world-government utopian (Rockefeller); and two smart businessmen who tend to operate from some extremely flawed assumptions about how everything outside their narrow areas of expertise, works (Buffett and Gates.)

Come to think of it, the fact that Bill Gates thinks the world’s biggest problem is overpopulation goes a long way toward explaining why all my Windows-based computers are screwed up most of the time.

One of the most widely held myths of our time is that over-population is a problem. As I wrote elsewhere a few years ago:

It is now universally understood that as societies develop and living standards increase, populations tend to level off and even decline. Today most countries in the Northern Hemisphere actually have a negative birthrate—meaning that not enough babies are being born to replace the older folks who are dying off. As a matter of fact, a few years ago population researchers predicted that the earth’s population would level off in the year 2050, but now some analysts think the world may already be hitting that point.

At the same time, constant advances in farming methods have made it possible to produce ever more food on less and less land. The fact is, most hunger that exists in the world today is the result of war, bad government, and/or bad religion—not overpopulation. (Of course, that doesn’t mean we, as Christians, have any less responsibility to try to ease their suffering if we can.)

Zimbabwe used to be a well-fed country and a net exporter of food. Today, after millions have either died or left, millions are starving. Why? Bad government and bad religion.

The fact is, if we have a population problem in the future it will be one of too few people.

So why do smart guys like Bill Gates insist on tilting at this windmill? Guilt, I suppose. A perverse form of guilt, to be sure. It’s a response that recognizes that there are no lasting solutions in “philanthropy” and therefore the only other answer is genocide. In other words, “If you can’t stop these icky people from being icky by throwing money at them, then lets just make sure they stop making more icky people.”

That’s Gates’ logic. Treat the poor like a computer virus. Identify them, isolate them, and stop them from replicating.

Nevertheless, there are a few among these enlightened beings that have begun to recognize the truth. Back in December I pointed out an op-ed, also in the Times of London, written by an athiest who, after years of working with secular philanthropic agencies in Africa like those funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, had come to a startling understanding:

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

Until guys like Gates and Buffett have that same awakening, they’ll continue to prescribe the wrong solutions to the wrong problems.

Brilliant Brooks

Just when you start thinking David Brooks’ conservative sensibilities have been dulled by whatever they put in the drinking water there at the New York Times, he comes up with this awesome piece of punditry. (hat tip: Fergus)

An excerpt:

Recently we were uplifted when the president informed Chrysler’s secured creditors that they had agreed to donate their ownership stake in the company to the United Auto Workers. Just last week, we were enthralled to see a group of auto executives beaming with pride as the president announced that in order to reduce gas consumption, they would henceforth be scaling back on all those car lines that consumers actually want to buy.

These events have heralded a new era of partnership between the White House and private companies, one that calls to mind the wonderful partnership Germany formed with France and the Low Countries at the start of World War II.

We Remember

fallen-soldier

We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.

Ronald Reagan at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Memorial Day, 1988

Sunrise . . . Sunset

sunrisesunset1

Today Female Offpring Unit #2 graduates from high school. At 17 years and 9 months of age, she is the youngest in her class. And yet in many ways she has one of the older souls. I was the same way. I was even younger on graduation day — 17 and 7 months — but by then, most of my best friends were two and three years older than me.

Friends tell me it’s a birth-order thing, but this one has always crawled, walked, marched, and danced to a alternative drummer.

grayson-holland-c

The fact that “everybody else is doing it”; or “nobody else is doing it” has rarely factored into the equation. I suppose that’s why this Fall, when all of her friends and classmates will be heading off to college, she’ll already be settled in in Nairobi, Kenya–happily dancing to that beatbox only she and her heavenly Father can hear.

A self-starter, this one. She’s always preferred to tackle new challenges on her own, in private, and in the timing of her own choosing. One day, around the time of her fifth birthday, we realized she had stopped having us tie her shoes for her. Somewhere along the line she had taught herself.

Riding a bicycle without training wheels? She tackled that one on her own, as well. On a visit to her grandparents, she had pulled a dusty old bicycle out of the garage and started riding it around the cul-du-sac. She came in the house later and casually mentioned she now knew how to ride a bike.

(Come to think of it, even potty training had been an exercise in frustration as long as we were actively involved. The breakthrough came when we just handed her a picture book and let her figure it out for herself–which didn’t take long.)

This fierce self-sufficiency is joined by a tendency to keep her cards held tightly to her vest. Often we’ve found out about deep traumas and major victories only well after the fact and usually via a third party. (Thank God her bookend sisters are open books who tell everything they know!)

Of course, to a mother whose primary “love language” is quality time and a father whose native tongue is words of affirmation this has meant adapting relationship expectations to fit the child as God made her, and some walking by parental faith not by sight.

The result is a truly remarkable young woman of whom we are unspeakably proud.

grayson-school-day

As regular readers know, at the first of this year, I spent several days of solitude, soul-searching and prayer out in Palo Duro Canyon. (I wrote about it here.) In that season, I spent some time praying for, and listening to God about, each of my three  daughters. On the day I was hiking and praying for #2, I heard the voice of Lord say something so clearly and emphatically that I stopped and wrote it down in my notebook. He said:

I have made her just as she is . . . with great promise . . . and for great purpose.

There is no question in my mind that every word of this is true. The fact is, God has graced my bride and I with three astonishing gifts–each uniquely wonderful. Each loved and celebrated and enjoyed in a different way.

But today is a day to celebrate one in particular. It is “G’s” day.

Even so, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel a heart-stab of sadness that this season of wonder — this bless-ed growing-up-time — is ending. The years have been so relentless in their blurry passing. Must this adventure be in such a rush to end?

Where does a father go to get this moment back . . .

[click on this picture]

kiss

*****

“Kiss for me, Daddy?”

Yes, my daughter. Always. Whatever you do . . . Wherever God’s plan takes you . . . Always, always a kiss for you.

dad-and-g-small

Jeremy Clarkson on Honda's New Hybrid

Britain’s most famous (and blunt) car buff drives the new Honda Insight and shares:

It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.

Read the whole amusing thing here.

"A" is for Affectation

Observant readers will have noticed I’ve added my middle initial to the way I identify myself on this blog and elsewhere. It is one the accomodations to my emerging status as a Tyndale House author.

Toward the end of the writing process, I was asked how I wanted my name on the cover of the book. Answering that question turned out to be less straightforward than you might imagine.

First of all, there is a British novelist named David Holland who has a few historical mysteries in print.

Then there is the Avant-garde jazz bassist, Dave Holland.

Even more problematic is the David Holland who is the former drummer for Judas Priest who is currently serving a prison sentence in the UK for sexual assault against young boys. (Thanks for adding to the prestige and glory of the name there, Daver.)

Thus, I ended up opting for being “David A. Holland” for this book and forevermore. As a student of branding, I know that means adding the “A” to all of the online manifestations of my moniker and sticking with it. So, when you see it, don’t think I’m being pretentious. I’m just trying to avoid being confused with that Judas Priest guy or those other dudes.

What Jerry Taylor (and Most Other Policy Wonks) Don't Get About Talk Radio

Over the last few days, a feisty but collegial debate has been underway over at NRO’s “The Corner” over the value of conservative talk radio in general and the pros and cons of Limbaugh-Hannity specifically. Jerry Taylor, a fellow at the CATO Institute with a specialty in environmental policy got things rolling with this post in which he writes of Rush and Sean:

I am no fan of either. While I will admit to not listening to their shows, the snippets that I have caught over the years have irritated. One can agree with a majority of their vision regarding what constitutes good public policy and who is worthy of my vote while being annoyed by the manner in which their arguments are being made and chagrined by the dubious logic and dodgy evidence being forwarded to buttress their arguments. One can also be driven to frustration by the seemingly endless parade of political red herrings and conspiracy-minded nonsense that I have heard both of them traffic in.

I am certain that charges of “elitist!” will flood my inbox over this. But do either of these guys actually convince anyone (elitist or not) outside of the choir?

Perhaps Mr. Taylor anticipates being accused of elitism here because that is precisely what he is guilty of a form of.

Now Jerry Taylor as a very smart guy and is doing wonderful, important work over at Cato and elsewhere in the fight against enviro-hysteria and galloping Green socialism, but he puts forth a huge red herring of his own here when he asks if talk radio is effective in converting people to conservatism. Kathryn Lopez and Mark Steyn jump to talk radio’s defense (here, and  here, Taylor responds here) but leave Taylor’s premise unchallenged.

The answer to Taylor’s question is “no,”  conservative talk radio is not extremely effective at changing minds about public policy issues. But that’s not why it’s valuable–indispensable actually–nor why it is under all out attack from by the Left.

As it happens, I had included a brief section about this very thing in the upcoming Paul Harvey book (have I mentioned I have a book coming out?) This following bit actually ended up getting the editor’s knife because it was a little off topic, but here it is for your exclusive reading (emphasis added):

The tendency to have a low opinion of the intelligence of people who disagree with you is an ugly but common aspect of human nature. Thus, liberals have widely assumed that conservative Americans tune into Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity (or Paul Harvey for that matter) in order to be told what they ought to think. In reality, conservative Americans have enjoyed these programs because they represent a rare opportunity to have what they already think validated in the media.

This is an understandable misconception. If you hold liberal views and values, you tend to have your biases validated and reinforced constantly. Not only are most mainstream news media programs edited and delivered by people who have a liberal philosophy, but the writers of most television dramas and comedies do as well. Stand up comics, popular song lyrics, movie plots, Hollywood stars and starlets being interviewed . . . they all consistently deliver subtle and overt validation if your views are left of center. This experience is unnoticed by liberals precisely because it is so common. It’s normal.

This explains why so many sputter and rage about the “bias” of Fox News Channel. Many liberals have become so accustomed to never being confronted by an opinion that differs from their own, that some now seem to think of it as an inalienable right.

Conservatives, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of thinking that way. For them, virtually every foray into mass media represents a walk through a hailstorm of in-validation. Talk radio on AM became one of the only media refuges in that storm. And this explains both why it is so popular on one hand; and so despised on the other.

This is why liberal talk radio is always doomed to fail. It’s utterly superflous. For liberals, consumption of popular media is just one giant foot rub.

This is also what public policy wonks like Taylor and conservative journalists don’t get. They spend their days thinking about and defending conservative ideas. They have a highly-developed infrastructure under-girding their worldview and are constantly immersed in its implications.

These folks can scarcely imagine what it’s like to be an viscerally conservative accountant, UPS driver, or business owner who has way too much on his or her plate to read Heritage Foundation white papers or pore over The Claremont Review of Books or follow debates about Leo Stauss at The Corner. What they know is that their country seems to be going to hell in a handbasket and that almost every time they sample any popular media–news or entertainment–they get a liberal thumb jabbed in their eye.

But then they can flip over to Rush and for 15 or 20 minutes and get a pat on back instead.

That both talk radio’s critics and defenders don’t seem to recognize the power of this validating function, is understandable. If you do public policy, you’re just not going to “get it.”

Thus Taylor’s objection about preaching to the converted is excusable. What’s not is his appeal to Al Franken’s books to support his argument:

Regarding my claim that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity often use “dodgy evidence“ to back their claims, I can only plead that on the rare occasions that I’ve listened, this is exactly what I have found. Sure, maybe I just happen to listen in when they go off the rails . . . but I doubt it. Regardless, if you want chapter and verse on that score, you can’t do better than Al Franken’s two books on this subject (Lying Liars and Rush Limbaugh). Now, I know that this will double my hate mail, but the fact is that Mr. Senator-Elect is often spot-on regarding the facts when he goes after these guys.

Sweet smoking Judas! Here we have a guy who writes resarch papers for a living condemning guys who do three hours of live, extemporaneous, interactive radio five days each week for getting facts wrong. This is a bit like a vascular surgeon looking down on a carpenter for getting saw dust all over the place when he works.

Yes, talk radio hosts get things wrong from time to time. And given the massive volume of time they have to speak off the cuff while holding listeners, it’s easy for a viciously uncharitable clown like Al Franken to accumlate enough examples to pad out a book. What’s surreal is to see Franken cited approvingly by a smart fellow like Jerry Taylor.

Is it a problem that the Democrats have hit upon a strategy of hanging Limbaugh around the necks of conservative politicians? Indeed it is.  It is a very clever attack. But just because liberals own the power to demonize anybody they choose, and thereby drive  the approval ratings that Jerry Taylor is waving around, doesn’t mean that the right response is to agree with the demonizers or jettison the demonized.

In fact, if conservatives reward this tactic with the kind of disavowal that Taylor and a few other think-tank-y conservatives are already publically making, it will only embolden the Left to pick additional targets for demonization. Who will be next?

More Sunshine . . . The Zimbabwe-ization of America

It’s rainy and stormy here in North Texas again today. No complaints. Topping all the reservoirs off before the the annual High Pressure System parks itself directly over us for three months is a good thing. On some days in August, you can almost make out the giant “H” in the sky that is depicted on the weatherman’s map every night.

But in keeping with the weather, I’ll keep the gloom and doom flowing here for another post or two. (And all the people said, “Oh joy.”)

One thing I failed to mention in the previous post . . . among conservatives prior to the election, opinions about Barack Obama fell loosely into two camps.

  1. Those who thought Obama was a moderate pretending to be more liberal than he really was in order to placate the dominant radical left wing of his party.
  2. Those who thought Obama was a lefty radical pretending to be somewhat moderate in order to get himself elected.

There is no longer any doubt as to which hypotheses was correct. The winner is Paradigm #2. And the losers are our children.

*****

For some time I’ve been meaning to write an extended blog post about the coming Zimbawe-ization of South Africa. What’s about to happen to that extraordinary country is an epic tragedy.

But every time I start to write it, I’m stopped by the knowledge that I need to write a post about the ongoing Zimbabwe-ization of America. By that I mean:

  • The construction of a cult of personality around a charismatic leader;
  • The whipping up of class warfare resentments in order to build grass roots support for . . .:
  • The confiscation by the government of vast amounts of private property;
  • The destruction of most incentives to work, invest or take risks;
  • The government-enforced empowerment of pernicious labor unions’
  • The destruction of the currency leading to hyper-inflation.

This catastrophic pattern is well-advanced in Zimbabwe but is also underway in Venezuela. In fact, it might be safer to label this “the Hugo Chavez-ization of America since so many on the Left these days see racism where none actually exists.  But why bother?

As the Clinton’s learned in the primaries, merely criticizing this president is tantamount to racism.

100 Days of Hubris and Hypocrisy

I know we’re supposed to be people of positive expectancy and sunny hope, but regular readers know that my expectations for the Obama presidency were low and grim. But I was wrong.

The first 100 days were much, much worse than I could have  imagined; the damage to our country deeper and more systemic than I thought possible in such a short time. One year ago this month I wrote (emphasis added):

One of the things I find most alarming about the prospect of an Obama presidency (in addition to the doctrinaire liberalism, the friendly legislature, and the angry, grievance-mongering wife) is the fact that he carries two dangerous qualities in very large measure–naivete and hubris.

He is like Jimmy Carter was (and is) in this respect, only more so. And at least Carter had some executive experience as Governor of Georgia. Sen. Obama has never run anything or done anything. But his confidence in his charm and good intentions seems boundless. God help us all.

There is not in the word in those paragraphs that seems overly pessimistic in the light of the last three months. Just the opposite, in fact,  The actions of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate can easily be sorted into two categories: the Appalling and the Galling .

Appalling is the cynical nationalization of whole sectors of the U.S. economy under the cover of a “crisis”; the empowerment of toxic unions; the funding of the abortion industrial complex; and the politicization (ACORN-ization) of the census bureau.

Galling is the bald hypocrisy of running a campgaign that demonized the Bush Administration for it’s counterterrorism policies and then, once in office, keeping all those policies in place. As NRO’s And McCarthy wrote today:

The Obama campaign slandered the commissions, just like it slandered Gitmo, military detention, coercive interrogations, the state secrets doctrine, extraordinary rendition, and aggressive national-security surveillance.  Gitmo is still open (and Obama and Holder now admit it’s a first-rate facility), we are still detaining captives (except when Obama releases dangerous terrorists), the Obama Justice Department has endorsed the Bush legal analysis of torture law in federal court, and Obama has endorsed state secrets, extraordinary rendition, and national-security surveillance (and the Bush stance on surveillance has since been reaffirmed by the federal court created to rule on such issues).

Do these people ever get called on their hypocrisy?

Even so, Obama & Co. are still managing to make America less safe. Check out Debra Burlingame’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, for example.

How’s all that for a Saturday blast of sunshine and sparkles? Sorry. Lighter stuff will follow. But first I have to stop weeping for our once-great nation.

Friday Blather

It’s starting to feel like Summer. Low 90s and steamy today. It’s what we call “clam bake” weather around our house–you spend the day baking and feeling clammy. The term has also morphed into a verb, as in, “Ooooh, better not hug me, I’ve been outside and I’m clambaking.” Or, “Honey, turn the air down, I’m starting to clambake.”

Switching topics from sweat to tears . . .

Check out this chart showing the purchasing power of a dollar over the last 90 years:

purchasing-power

Found this chart over at this blog by way of Instapundit. It shows a 94% drop in purchasing power since 1933. But given the current economic policies of our government, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Well, we can always find solace in church-related humor. I liked this fake headline and news story over at Lark News:

Pastor apologizes for unintentional acrostic

SAN ANTONIO — Pastor Tom Kirkland, who spelled the phrase “u suck” in his five-point outline last Sunday, has apologized to his church.

“I should have looked it over more carefully,” he says. “It was late Saturday night when I finished. I’m sorry.”
His five points, based on the story of Abraham, were:
Understand your calling
Say yes to God
Use the abilities he gave you
Call on him during hard times
Keep going!

Read the rest of the story here.