8:53 AM, Sep 30, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Mark Steyn writes:
A few years ago, after the publication of my book “America Alone,” an exasperated reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to be stupid.” That’s to say, Western democracies and their citizens are the wealthiest societies ever known, and no matter how much of our energies are wasted on pointless hyper-regulation for the business class and multigenerational welfare for the dependency class and Transgender and Colonialism Studies for our glittering youth, we can afford it, and the central fact of our wealth will ensure that our fortunes do not change. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, we have been less rich, and our stupidity ought in theory to be less affordable. Instead, it’s been supersized. To take only the most obvious example, President Obama has added six-and-a-half trillion bucks to the national debt, and has nothing to show for it. As Churchill would say, had his bust not been bounced from the Oval Office, never in the field of human spending has so much been owed by so many for so little.
The West’s rivals do not think like this. China is now the second-biggest economy on the planet, but it has immense structural problems: As I’ve been saying for years, it will get old before it gets rich. Thanks to its grotesque “one-child” policy, it has the most male-heavy demographic cohort in history – no chicks and millions of guys who can’t get any action, which is not normally a recipe for social stability. Despite being extremely large, the country is resource-poor. But you can’t say it’s not thinking outside the box. The Daily Telegraph in London reported this week that the Chinese have just signed a deal to lease five percent of Ukraine (or an area about the size of Belgium) on which to grow crops and raise pigs. And I’d doubt it will stop with post-Soviet republics on the Euro-fringe: It’s not impossible to imagine China buying, say, the Greek islands. Beijing thinks the half-millennium blip of Euro-American dominance is coming to an end, and the world is returning to its natural state of Chinese pre-eminence. The West assumes it can endure as a kind of upscale boutique unaffected by the changes beyond. Like, say, the frozen-yogurt shop at the Westgate mall in Nairobi – until last weekend.
China’s Ukraine deal may sound kinda wacky, but the People’s Republic consumes about 20 percent of the world’s food yet has (thanks to rapid industrialization) only 9 percent of its farmland. As Big Government solutions go, renting 5 percent of a sovereign nation to use as your vegetable garden and pig farm is a comparatively straightforward answer to the problem at hand. By contrast, try explaining American “health” “care” “reform” to the Chinese: You could rent the entire Ukraine for about 3 percent of the cost of Obamacare, and what does it solve? My colleague Michelle Malkin revealed this week that her family has now joined the massed ranks of Obamacare victims: Anthem BlueCross BlueShield sent her a “Dear John” letter, explaining why they’d be seeing less of each other. “To meet the requirements of the new laws, your current plan can no longer be continued beyond your 2014 renewal date.”
Beyond the president’s characteristically breezy lie that “if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan” is the sheer nuttiness of what’s happening. For years, Europeans and “progressive” Americans have raged at the immorality of the U.S. medical system: All those millions with no health coverage! But Michelle Malkin had coverage and suddenly, under what Obama calls “universal health care,” she doesn’t. The CBO’s most recent calculations estimate that, in 2023, a decade after the implementation of Obamacare, there still will be more than 30 million people uninsured – or about the population of Canada. That doesn’t sound terribly “universal,” and I would bet it’s something of a low-ball figure: As many employers are discovering, one of the simplest ways “to meet the requirements of the new laws” and still stay just about solvent is to shift your workers from family plans to individual plans, and tell their spouses and children to go look elsewhere. Does it achieve its other goal of “containing costs,” already higher than anywhere else? No. Avik Roy reports in Forbes that Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by 62 percent for women, 99 percent for men. In America, “insuring” against disaster now costs more than you’d pay in most countries for disaster.
Whole thing here.
Sep 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 03 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Maybe Barack Obama really is a Marxist. His September 10 speech to the nation on Syria seems to have been inspired by Groucho’s great number in Animal Crackers (1930):
Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going
I’m glad I came, but just the same, I must be going . . . la-la!
A velvet red carpet in the ‘Iron Curtain’ city. May 27, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 35 • By CITA STELZER
You learn a lot about America and its people on a book-signing tour.
Apr 29, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 31 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.
How many times in the last century have these concluding lines of C. P. Cavafy’s famous 1898 poem, “Waiting for the Barbarians,” been quoted? How many modern intellectuals have pondered the subversive implications of that sophisticated question?
Nov 26, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 11 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
—Winston Churchill, tribute to the Royal Air Force,
House of Commons, August 20, 1940
The time for evasion is over.Jul 26, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 42 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Last month, we published an editorial under the title “A Period of Consequences.” The phrase was taken from a speech in the House of Commons in late 1936 in which Winston Churchill warned: “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”
Our dangerous Iran policy.Jun 21, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 38 • By JAMIE FLY and WILLIAM KRISTOL
The passage last Wednesday of a fourth U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran was the latest act in the tragicomedy that is U.S. policy toward Iran.
Obama's down, but not out.Mar 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 24 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
"There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.” Republicans and conservatives have recently had reason to appreciate the truth of Winston Churchill’s statement. President Obama and the Democratic Congress had a real shot at transforming American politics and public policy into European-style social democracy. When Obama spoke to Congress a year ago, on February 24, 2009, it certainly seemed he would have a chance to succeed.
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