Thursday, January 11, 2007

Clyde's Vision


Apologies in advance for this long-winded and contentious post. Immigration and diversity are two really... really... volatile issues in American and European societies. Clyde Wilson, quoted below, is is a professor of history at the University of South Carolina. His views are toward one extreme... the opposite of those who see immigration as a process that strengthens America.

From Martin Kelly in Scotland quoting Clyde Wilson:

(Note: Martin left out the first two paragraphs which are shown here)
According to the census bureau a new “American” crossed the border to join us once every 27 seconds in 2006. The unpunished intention of our rulers to replace us with foreign coolie labour tells us that as a society we are completely lacking any sense of a past or a future. Nobody who has any conception of the work, wisdom, virtue, sacrifice, and heroism that went into the making of this country could possibly approve of the transformation that is taking place.

That is not too surprising, though. Since 1848 the descendants of the British colonists who created the U.S. have been a dwindling part of the population. How many Americans are there today with such an inheritance? One in twenty? One in fifty? In fact, those of us who fit that description are mostly despised “rednecks,” while late-comers glorify themselves as a “nation of immigrants.” Can there be any other example in history of a core population being replaced by newcomers while retaining its name? A country without cultural continuity can only be held together by abstractions—deceitful slogans without any human content—and by constant fear of enemies. Orwell had it right.

People who are ignorant of and indifferent to their background (and those who misrepresent it for present-time advantage) are barbarians—that is, people without a civilized culture. Our leaders view American society as a commercial enterprise in which profit and consumption are the only values. After all, a customer is a customer and yesterday is just a past opportunity for sales. Who worries about where the customer comes from? As a society we have lost sight of the truth that economic abundance is not a self-perpetuating technical trick but rests ultimately on mental and moral qualities. Mental and moral virtues are declining in power and the evidence is already there of the loss of prosperity that necessarily follows.

But a society without ancestors (bastards?) is not the worst of the American decline. The worst is a lost future. Our forebears felled forests, planted trees, built houses, fought wars in the consciousness that the benefits would accrue to their descendants more than to themselves.

A people who took any thought to the welfare of their grandchildren, much less future generations of their own blood, could not possibly tolerate the ongoing destruction of our human environment by politicians and plutocrats. Burke defined civilization as the awareness of the interconnection of past, present, and future. Conservatism was the preservation of the essence of civilization amidst the inevitable flux and chaos of existence.

But I can’t worry about that right now. I have to watch Oprah and then go to the mall. Only in America.

In an email exchange with Martin Kelly, here is some of what I wrote:
"Cultural values" are one of these somewhat ephemeral "riches" of a society that modern economics seems to conveniently ignore. What is the "profit" margin or a cooperative and friendly neighborhood? What is the cost of distrust. We know the former has value and the latter has cost, but cheap labor and cheap goods seem to be far more relevant to the economist's thought process (although I'm sure someone, somewhere has tried to quantify that). Nevertheless, we all sense when "cultural values" are strong and vibrant and when they are neglected and weak, whether or not we can place an economic value on them.

Perhaps the nature of what constitutes our "cultural values" is a little vague and that's why they are so difficult on which to find common perspective. The economist would look at U.S.A.'s overall Gross National Product or unemployment rate or stock market and say that things have never been so prosperous. Look how immigration has kept the price of products, despite such rare(?) abuses as meat from the Swift plants that used illegal aliens to contain costs, down to a level where even the poor can afford a good cut of beef. See how trade with China has freed people from the drudgery of those dingy factory jobs. Look how ethnic diversity has made our cities so vibrant with their Chinatowns and LIttle Vietnams and great Indian and Mexican restaurants and new mosques that nurture the spiritual side of our neighbors. See the richness of all of this change!

Yet so many feel an alienation with what they see around them. Will those new neighbors rally together for the common good if there is a threat, natural or political, to our nation? Will that vibrant economy provide social and emotional support to those who are weak and needy or simply focus on corporate profits and new casinos? I think that what may be slipping away is the Christian/Humanistic philosophy... the focus on others' welfare... that was brought to America by its UK ancestors. Sure, there are still neighborhood barbeques and there are still many who respond when a hurricane destroys a city. But, increasingly, there seems to be a cynicism and selfishness and "I got mine" attitude as commerce becomes the central, the core, value of our culture. Increasingly, "diversity" becomes "divergence."

Perhaps I overstate the issue.
Well, actually, I know I overstate the case on both sides. The "richness" of the change is superficial in many respects. The ethnic commercial districts are certainly positive factors in our cities. Last fall's trip to San Francisco demonstrated that magnificently. But the Mexican ghettos in the southwest and west attest to the destructive aspects of unmanaged immigration.

The U.S. always had immigrant groups that clustered for awhile and then disbursed and became "assimilated" into the general population. It was really a matter of survival for most. There were no efforts by the existing community to offer information in German or Polish. Learn English and fit in was the strategy... but maybe not so much now.

America is changing and it is difficult to know whether, in the long run, if it is for the better or the worse. One thing is for sure, it won't be the "culture" of the 19th and 20th centuries with its predominantly Western/Central European heritage... but it doesn't have to be fragemented, though it very well may be.

See here.


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... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)