Monday, February 28, 2011

Simple Chemistry and the Real Greenhouse Effect.

 

Truths:
1. Most of the Sun’s radiation that gets to the Earth’s lower atmosphere passes through substantially unabsorbed.
2. Most of the radiation is then absorbed on contact with the Earth’s surface. This includes the majority water and the minority land.
3. Most of the Earth’s surface is either water or moist vegetation.
Most of the radiation from the sun is converted to infrared wavelengths at or near the surface.
The water molecules absorb the infrared radiation causing increased vibration within the individual water molecules. This is converted into translational energy during intermolecular collisions.
Water is an unusual compound. Its molecular weight (18) is .64 times that of nitrogen (28) and .56 times that of oxygen (32). Water should by all rights be a gas.
The reason water is liquid or ice normally, is that water molecules are naturally attracted to each other and form large aggregates which are substantially heavier than air.
When liquid water absorbs infrared radiation or is otherwise stimulated it vibrates more quickly and more intensely. This breaks down that tendency to aggregate.
In fact, in order for an associated water molecule to break free and escape into the air, a specific amount of energy must be absorbed. This is called the Latent Heat of Vaporization.
In fact, this is a very large amount of energy as anyone who has boiled water knows.
It takes 1 calorie of heat to raise the temperature of one gram of liquid water by 1 Celsius degree.
It take 539 calories to change one gram of water at 100 degrees C to steam.

Phase changes

Transitions between solid, liquid, and gaseous phases typically involve large amounts of energy compared to the specific heat. If heat were added at a constant rate to a mass of ice to take it through its phase changes to liquid water and then to steam, the energies required to accomplish the phase changes (called the latent heat of fusion and latent heat of vaporization ) would lead to plateaus in the temperature vs time graph. The graph below presumes that the pressure is one standard atmosphere.

A more complete explanation of the above
All of the energy (539 cal/gm) must be lost by exchange or radiation in order for the steam to condense.
This is THE ESSENSE of the GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
Enormous amounts of energy (principally translational and vibrational) are carried from the surface into the atmosphere by fast moving free or loosely associated water molecules.
Collisions between water molecules and the majority nitrogen and oxygen molecules transfer the energy to the greater atmosphere. As the energy level of the water molecules diminishes, the probability that water molecules will reaggregate increases. This leads to condensation and has the effect of transferring that 539 calories per gram to the rest of the atmosphere.
Now for the Kicker!
Carbon dioxide does NOT form aggregates. It is not lighter than air and thus does not rise quickly. There is no phase change when carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide carries less than half the heat per molecule compared to water.
One gram of Carbon Dioxide heated at the surface by incident sunlight carries (2 * 539 = 1078) 1078 times less energy into the atmosphere than one gram of water.
Carbon dioxide represents 0.0387 % of the atmosphere. Water in the lower atmosphere represents 1% to 4% or 25 to 100 times the amount of carbon dioxide.
Combining the two statements above, Water is (25 * 1078 = 27,175) to (100 * 1078 = 108,700) times more responsible for greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Union Brothers and Sisters: Seize Opportunity to Show True Solidarity (Sarah Palin Facebook)

 

by Sarah Palin on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 11:32pm

The union-led school closures and demonstrations in Madison have left most ordinary Americans shaking their heads in disbelief. Months ago, I penned a message to my fellow union brothers and sisters when I found myself on the receiving end of union boss Richard Trumka’s wrath. Yesterday’s demonstrations reminded me of the full-page ads taken out against me when I put my foot down in dealing with union demands while I served as governor. My message then and now to good union brothers and sisters is that you have another option. You don’t have to kowtow to the union bosses who are not looking out for you, but instead are using you. You can join millions of other union members in a commonsense movement to help fight for the right causes in our great country – for budgets that share the burden in a truly fair way and for commonsense reforms that take power away from vested interests like union bosses and big business lobby groups, and put it back where it belongs – with “We the People.”

Here we are still struggling to get out of a deep recession and coping with high unemployment, record deficits, rapidly rising food prices, and a host of other economic problems; and Wisconsin union bosses want union members out in the streets demanding that taxpayers foot the bill for unsustainable benefits packages. I am a friend to hard working union members and to teachers. I come from a family of teachers; my grandparents, parents, brother, sister, aunt, and other relatives worked, or still work, in education. My own children attend public schools. I greatly admire good teachers and will always speak up in defense of the teaching profession. But Wisconsin teacher unions do themselves no favor by closing down classrooms and abandoning children’s needs in protest against the sort of belt-tightening that people everywhere are going through. Union brothers and sisters: this is the wrong fight at the wrong time. Solidarity doesn’t mean making Wisconsin taxpayers pay for benefits that are not sustainable and affordable at a time when many of these taxpayers struggle to hold on to their own jobs and homes. Real solidarity means everyone being willing to sacrifice and carry our share of the burden. It does no one any favors to dismiss the sacrifices others have already had to make—in wage cuts, unpaid vacations, and even job losses—to weather our economic storm.

Hard working, patriotic, and selfless union brothers and sisters: please don’t be taken in by the union bosses. At the end of day, they’re not fighting for your pension or health care plan or even for the sustainability of Wisconsin’s education budget. They’re fighting to protect their own powerful privileges and their own political clout. The agenda for too many union bosses is a big government agenda that only serves the union bosses themselves – not union members, not union families, and certainly not the larger community. Everybody else is just there to foot the bill; and if that bill eventually takes the form of thousands of teachers and other public sectors workers losing their jobs because the state of Wisconsin can no longer afford to keep them on the payroll, that’s a risk the union bosses are willing to take as long as their positions are secure. Union brothers and sisters: you are better than this and you deserve better. Don’t be led astray.

One final word of warning to my fellow Americans: back in 2009, I warned about what would happen if states accepted short-term unsustainable debt-ridden “Stimulus Package” funds. Accepting those funds allowed states to grow government, increase already unsustainable levels of spending, kick the can down the road on reforming entitlements, and create public expectations that they would continue financing these new mandates once the federal funds ran out. States were not in a position to grow government and take on new financial commitments then, and now the chickens have come home to roost. As goes Wisconsin today, so goes the country tomorrow.

- Sarah Palin

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Self-Inflicted Poverty (Walter Williams–Townhall.com)


Townhall.com ^ | February 16, 2011 | Wather E. Williams

Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 7:58:11 AM by Kaslin

Why is it that Egyptians do well in the U.S. but not Egypt? We could make that same observation and pose that same question about Nigerians, Cambodians, Jamaicans and others of the underdeveloped world who migrate to the U.S. Until recently, we could make the same observation about Indians in India, and the Chinese citizens of the People's Republic of China, but not Chinese citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Let's look at Egypt. According to various reports, about 40 percent of Egypt's 80 million people live on or below the $2 per-day poverty line set by the World Bank. Unemployment is estimated to be twice the official rate pegged at 10 percent.

Much of Egypt's economic problems are directly related to government interference and control that have resulted in weak institutions vital to prosperity. Hernando De Soto, president of Peru's Institute for Liberty and Democracy (www.ild.org.pe), laid out much of Egypt's problem in his Wall Street Journal article (Feb. 3, 2011), "Egypt's Economic Apartheid." More than 90 percent of Egyptians hold their property without legal title.

De Soto says, "Without clear legal title to their assets and real estate, in short, these entrepreneurs own what I have called 'dead capital' -- property that cannot be leveraged as collateral for loans, to obtain investment capital, or as security for long-term contractual deals. And so the majority of these Egyptian enterprises remain small and relatively poor."

Egypt's legal private sector employs 6.8 million people and the public sector 5.9 million. More than 9 million people work in the extralegal sector, making Egypt's underground economy the nation's biggest employer.

Why are so many Egyptians in the underground economy? De Soto, who's done extensive study of hampered entrepreneurship, gives a typical example: "To open a small bakery, our investigators found, would take more than 500 days. To get legal title to a vacant piece of land would take more than 10 years of dealing with red tape. To do business in Egypt, an aspiring poor entrepreneur would have to deal with 56 government agencies and repetitive government inspections."

Poverty in Egypt, or anywhere else, is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People are poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. They can produce things highly valued by others but are hampered or prevented from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor.

Some people use the excuse of colonialism to explain Third World poverty, but that's nonsense. Some the world's richest countries are former colonies: United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Some of the world's poorest countries were never colonies, at least for not long, such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet and Nepal. Pointing to the U.S., some say that it's bountiful natural resources that explain wealth. Again nonsense. The two natural resources richest continents, Africa and South America, are home to the world's most miserably poor. Hong Kong, Great Britain and Japan, poor in natural resources, are among the world's richest nations.

We do not fully know what makes some societies more affluent than others; however, we can make some guesses based on correlations. Rank countries according to their economic systems. Conceptually, we could arrange them from those more capitalistic (having a large market sector and private property rights) to the more socialistic (with extensive state intervention, planning and weak private property rights). Then consult Amnesty International's ranking of countries according to human rights abuses going from those with the greatest human rights protections to those with the least. Then get World Bank income statistics and rank countries from highest to lowest per capita income.

Having compiled those three lists, one would observe a very strong, though imperfect correlation: Those countries with greater economic liberty and private property rights tend also to have stronger protections of human rights. And as an important side benefit of that greater economic liberty and human rights protections, their people are wealthier. We need to persuade our fellow man around the globe that liberty is a necessary ingredient for prosperity.

'Change,' 'Democracy,' and 'Freedom' in Egypt (American Thinker)

 

By Terry Heinrichs

Three little words, but they have played a big role in the rhetoric surrounding what is being billed by right and left alike as the "Egyptian democratic revolution." If things work out to the world's betterment, and Egypt becomes the democracy we want it to be, all well and good. Nevertheless, we better be careful not to let our hopes blind us to reality. We've been burned before.

Change

Here's something we hear a lot of. This buzzword's been repeated with talismanic force since the Obama primary campaign kicked in... when was it, 2004? Or in his Kindergarten days? Having defeated "It's Inevitable" in the primaries, Obama managed to get elected in 2008 with nary a word about what he meant by "change" or the things in particular he thought needed changing, and with almost no one interested in finding out, much less asking either of these rather obvious questions.

The twofold strategy of the media not asking and Obama not saying was brilliant. It allowed him the freedom to float high above the petty details of policy choices and appear not only post-partisan but also world-historical. He was a "young man on a mission" not only to unseat the old guard who had gotten us into a war we tired of and who caused all our domestic economic woes but also as a force to change the world. The Big Owe went global; dumping on our friends, apologizing to our enemies, and bowing and scraping to our lessers -- a true citizen of the post-American world. Meanwhile, back home, people were so fed up with President Bush and so enamored of "change" that no one cared to ask any of the tough questions. Besides, Obama was black, and it would be unseemly if not racist to do so. "Trust me", he was saying, and we did -- always a mistake.

In Egypt a similar scenario is currently playing itself out. Mubarak blew town! All hail "change!" And while the military is in power now, we haven't a clue who or what (if anything or anyone) will replace it come September (or whenever) when (or if) elections occur, and we have no real idea what policies any regime replacing it will pursue with respect to the Middle East, America, or even its own people. Still, we're happy. "The tyrant has fled! The people are in the streets! World history is in the making! "It's a big advance for democracy and human rights around the world." What could go wrong? It's "democracy"!

Democracy

Nothing, of course, if most everyone means the same thing by the term -- but they don't. Democracy" is one of those feel-good but essentially contested concepts that mean different things to different people even as everyone applauds its good name. Indeed, the term is so elastic and so beloved that Stalin himself had the good sense to call his East European totalitarian satrapies "People's Democracies" These days about the only people who disparage democracy are those hard-core Islamists whose trust reposes in Allah not "The People." Just about everyone else embraces democracy even as (and sometimes precisely because) it carries no stable meaning.

To some people democracy means elections plus majority rule pure and simple. A democracy of this sort carries no minority or liberty guarantees and the majority is free to do whatever it can get away with. Others are satisfied with a "democracy" in which the first election is the also the last election -- at least of the two-party variety. These cynically use the term to gain support for their political ambitions but have no intention once in power to practice it. And why should they? They know what is good, and would love to have elections if everyone agreed with them and could be trusted to vote the right way, but they also know this level of agreement is not really possible today, so, for them, "democracy" means government for but not of or by the people.

In Egypt today "democracy" carries the same talismanic powers as "change." A solid majority (59%) say they support it, but few actually say what they take it to require. Indeed, saying so might render them less likely to obtain their goals. As with Obama on "change," why be specific when you don't have to and when doing so would possibly be to your detriment? Nevertheless, it's difficult to see how many of the beliefs held by Egyptians could square with any conception of democracy we might recognize. How, for example can we square the claim of 74% of Muslims that sharia should be strictly imposed with the Western democratic requirement of man-made law? And what type of democracy is it that, as 91% of Muslims agree, should not permit the presence of any Western values? But if Egyptians themselves are confused about the requirements of democracy, ignorance on the part of Western policy-makers about their confusion is certainly a recipe for a confused and disastrous Middle East policy.

When we in the West say "democracy," we think not just of majority rule but also of individual rights to freedom of speech, press, association, and religion as well as due process, equal protection and the like. Of course, not everyone's on side. There are those western Marxists, etc. who not only pay little or no obeisance to individual rights but think them antithetical to the type of collective power they envisage (and, of course, they're right about that), but these people are still, thankfully, marginal. The same cannot be said with any degree of certainty about those alleged "democrats" on the streets of Cairo. Until we can flesh out exactly what they think democracy entails, we act foolishly and contrary to our interests if we simply assume they hold views similar to our own. We've been burned by such assumptions before and should be careful not to repeat the mistake in Egypt. Mubarak may be no friend of democracy, but then he has no illusions about democracy or Egyptians either.

Freedom

Freedom is another one of those talismanic terms that allow us to applaud when it is uttered even as we have no real clue what others mean by it. To most liberal democrats freedom carries individualistic connotations. We are "free" to the extent that we are not prevented by some force external to us (be it government, other individuals, or social groups) from doing as we wish. This doesn't mean that we are free to do anything at all as we also believe our liberty has limits. My liberty to move my arm doesn't permit me, as the saying goes, to put my knife in your back. The point is that the liberty we refer to is both individualistic and negative. We are deprived of liberty every time we are prevented by some external force from doing something we wish.

But this definition of freedom is not one shared universally. For many on the left, the idea that we are free to the extent we are not prevented from doing as we wish is a kind of "sham" freedom because "true" freedom requires that what we wish is what we should wish. On this view, we are never truly free unless we will to do what is right, and this is not something we always, or perhaps even often, do. And when we do not, we are in need of guidance from those who both know and do. This "true" or "real" freedom has been a favorite of many on the left from Rousseau through Marcuse to Obama's own regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein. According to these folks, our existing preferences are often not "truly" our own but are simply products of an existing but "false" consciousness. Hence, we need not (and should not) worry if they are ignored or even overridden. After all, if we knew what was good for us, we wouldn't have them in the first place.

A second aspect of the kind of liberty favored by the left eschews any individualistic connotations altogether. On this reading, liberty is seen as "liberation" and the thing being liberated is the group not the individual. If "The Masses" are oppressed, then it's "The Masses" who need liberation. In this scenario the individual is buried in the group. And so what; it's the group that matters not the individual. All power to the Masses! We've heard something like this before, and the results weren't pleasing.

Here as well, we find people speaking about bringing "freedom" to Egypt with very little indication of the "freedom" to which they refer. Are they speaking about the individual freedom to do as one wishes irrespective of what others may think of the quality of ones choices? Or are they referring to "True Freedom" and the preferences, choices and thoughts one ought to have? Given that a healthy majority of the Egyptian population longs for "a strict application of sharia", it would seem to be the latter. But we might also question whether they are speaking about the individual at all or simply about the Egyptian "masses" who under Mubarak were in need of "liberation" from an oppressive tyrant?

To be sure, peoples oppressed by tyrants should be liberated, but the story shouldn't end there. The individual is not free if he or she is simply submerged in a "mass" as has occurred in the various communist and Iranian revolutions. Surely such should not be on offer for Egypt. It would render the entire movement for democratic reforms a failure. Thus we should be clear what those who use the term mean by "freedom" or we may find ourselves both surprised and confounded by the result. We should be clear as well in communicating our own views so that we don't end up as cheerleaders for those whose interests lie in promoting undefined and possibly illiberal conceptions of liberty.

Attitudes

Nor, given the attitudes and opinions of Egyptians does it look as if there is much to support our hopes. All countries carry some illiberal baggage but Egypt seems to have much more than its fair share. For example, a 2010 Pew poll found that 95% of Egyptians hold unfavorable attitudes towards Jews -- not a statistic that bodes well for Middle East peace. Moreover, 97% of married women are genitally mutilated and 82% still "support the practice." Then again, a survey of Muslim attitudes found that 54% believe men and women should be segregated at work; 82% believe adulterers should be stoned; 84% believe apostates should be killed; and 77% say thieves should "be flogged or have their hands cut off." Moreover, since 2006 the number of those who support fundamentalism over modernization has more than doubled to 59%, surely not a happy trend; while, as noted earlier, some 74% want the imposition of "a strict application of sharia," and a "mere" 91% want to "keep Western values out of Muslim countries." These statistics should not exactly encourage us to keep thinking Egyptians want what we have been saying they want, especially since Muslims constitute just fewer than 95% of Egypt's total population. On the other hand, we're told 59% support "democracy" but, then again, so did Lenin.

Of course, the polls could be wrong. Things might work out. The Middle East could be transformed. Egypt could become the democracy we want it to be. But before we work our hopes up to Obama's spending levels, we would do well to be a bit more skeptical. After all, our past track record in Iran, Gaza, and Cuba is not all that encouraging. We have nothing to lose by watching rather than cheerleading and perhaps a more peaceful world to gain.

Egypt's Putative Revolution (American Thinker)

 

By David Bukay

The demonstrations and riots erupted through Egypt, were neither a revolution (a total change in all political, social and economic realms), nor a rebellion (a mass movement upheaval). However, they were an excuse of an successful internal coup d'├ętat within the military regime, perpetrated by Tantawi, the Defense Minister against Mubarak. The main reason is that the military elite was never in love with the idea of having Mubarak's son, Gamal, take over the presidency. All that Egypt's 18-day uprising produced, is a change within the regime. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of direct rule, and the question is to what extent the military elite will share power with any civilian counterparts in the future.

The troika of the military regime to succeed Mubarak has been set. It includes the former Air Force chief, Ahmed Shafiq, as Prime Minister; the Defense Minister, Muhammad Hussein al-Tantawi, as the strong leader; and the Chief of General Staff, Sami Hafiz `Annan. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is the highest executive body, headed by Tantawi, and takes control of the governmental decision-making. Two conspicuous signs to this trend will be the increase in the budgets given to the Egyptian army; and the appointing of more generals in uniform to the governmental ministries.

However, what is surprising in the Egyptian situation is that the international community has suddenly discovered that the regimes in the Middle East are authoritarian, corrupt, and anti-democratic. Well, this is the exact situation, and has been since a long time ago. What is not surprising however is the deep involvement of the media, which has inflated the extent of the demonstrations; exceedingly distorted the figures; and painted the events in the streets with romantic colors.

So, it is not the "Papyrus Revolution," but the "al-Jazeera Revolution;" and ElBaradei, a man of nothing, was already coronated by CNN as the next Egyptian president. The media has created, with one collective voice, a virtual reality and al-Tahrir Square has become the stage. The protesters were dubbed true democrats, moderate and peace-loving. The mantra that Egyptians want freedom and democracy has swept the world. All ignored the reality: Just because people protest something, does not mean they are democracy-loving moderates.

However, when the Technicolor dust settles to earth, world public opinion will discover that the military regime stays in power; that the Egyptian military appoints another of its own to replace Mubarak; and perhaps even worse, that the military turns to direct rule, which means more oppressive and un-democratic measures. The important question is whether there is a regime change, or only change within the regime?

Actually, the only alternative to the military regime in Egypt is the Islamists in power. The Muslim Brotherhood can take the reins of government based only on two strict conditions: a) provided the military steps out of politics, and b) provided free real democratic elections are made. One has to recall Samuel Huntington's assertion: if you really give the Arab-Muslim free and democratic choice in elections, he will vote, with high probability, for the Islamic groups. The reason is because he cherishes Islam and knows it intimately; and because he believes it bears the only solution to his problems, compared to all the foreign ideologies and structures that have failed.

Three possible models stand for the Ikhwan in politics:

  • the "Turkish model:" an Islamist party in power that advances slowly and gradually but steadily toward the goal of Islamizing the state;
  • the "Algerian model:" a direct Islamic rule that exacerbates the situation and strengthens the military objection, which may lead to a civil war;
  • the "Lebanese model:" Hezb'allh's example of controlling the political system behind the screen, through non-Islamist politicians and political alliances. For all practical purposes, the Ikhwan will probably prefer the Lebanese model.

What are the immediate conclusions from the Egyptian events?

The outstanding phenomenon with far-reaching consequences is that Arab-Islamic fear barrier has been broken; perhaps forever. The people are no longer afraid of the regime. This is an important lesson: The Arab people have become a political player.

The new spirit waving in the Arab-Islamic Middle East is the need of the rulers to listen to the people; to be attentive to their needs. This is a meaningful revolution in the Arab-Islamic polity. That is to say that a civil society is growing.

The international media plays a decisively important role. It directly intervenes in the events and takes clear side. This has very negative ramifications, but should be taken as a given.

The internet, Facebook and Twitter, has become a mirror of reality, so that no regime can hide behind the screen. It is the alternative means of people to organize, to mobilize, and to cooperate.

There is a change in the international system's operation. For the first time it openly and publicly takes side in the internal affairs of other states. This is a kind of political intervention that bears significant consequences of world reality.

The Middle East is marching toward an additional round of political instability and threats, generated especially by the violent activity of the Islamic opposition, and the rising political demands of the people. This is perhaps the most important issue to study.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be put in proportion and perspective. It is the least important compare to all other issues in the Middle East.

The US administration has to consider that Egypt serves as a watershed and a milestone. President Obama happily praised the events in Egypt and compared them to the Berlin Wall and Gandhi inspiration. He has reiterated that "we are witnessing a history in creation." Well, all we can wish is that it will not be a history in recapitulation of Iran of 1979, and even the events that led to the eruption of the two World Wars. Therefore, it is recommended that the US:

  • bear in mind what happened in Iran in 1979, when the people demanded freedom and they received Khomeini;

  • bear in mind what happened in Algeria after the free elections at the beginning of 1992, when the Islamic movement won, and the military intervened in an ongoing civil war that caused tens of thousands of people killed;
  • bear in mind what happened in Lebanon in March 2005, when the people demanded freedom, however, Hizbullah outmaneuvered the Prime Minister from November 2009, Sa`d Hariri, to complete the Lebanon takeover;
  • bear in mind what happened after the US pressures for free elections in the PA, in January 2006, and Hamas won out and is now running Gaza;
  • bear in mind what happened in Pakistan in February 2008, after the US insisted upon promoting democratic elections that caused Benazir Bhutto's murder and the rise of the Mujahidin and Taliban to control large parts of Pakistan.

The US should support the military, although it is authoritarian and coercive and even prevents the advancement of democracy. It must do so because the alternative is the embodiment of evil, and represents the abuse of all we love and cherish, of all democratic life.

Faking Our Way to Sovereign Bankruptcy (American Thinker)

 

By Monty Pelerin

As political events in Egypt play out, including likely contagion to other parts of Africa and the Middle East, attention is diverted from the real threat to our country -- government insolvency. From Jeff T. Allen, writing in American Thinker:

There will soon be a crisis affecting US citizens beyond any experienced since the Great Depression. And it may happen within the year.

Unlike the Great Depression, however, we will enter such a shock in a weakened state, with few producers among us and record mountains of debt. More cataclysmic is the specter of inadequate food, as less than 4% of us farm ...


Fantasy Land

Political lip service will not solve this problem, only spending cuts will. Yet lip service is all we get. President Obama's State of the Union address spoke of the problem but not to the problem. Obama offered no spending cuts, while proposing a host of new spending programs. The release of his budget reflects more of the same - phony promises but no real action

President Obama continues to revel in his world of fantasy and duplicity while the economy and world crumbles. Mr. Obama appears delusional and more interested in political posturing than constructive effort.

Newly elected Republicans seek $100 billion in immediate cuts but struggle to get to this level. Smaller numbers elicit calumny from Democrats and the media. Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid reacted this way to the potential cuts:

"In many cases, these proposals may mean taking workers off the assembly line or taking teachers out of the classroom or police off our streets," Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said.

Characteristically, Reid touches the political hot buttons in an attempt to scare people. While Reid is correct that low-level cuts will be harmful, it is for an entirely different reason than he suggests. Small cuts ensure a government default, civil unrest and economic collapse.

Head-in-the-sand politics must end. Feigned ignorance and cowardice will not serve politicians well. Reality is on the way and they are apt to be run over by it. For politicians like Majority Leader Reid, the remainder of this article may be detrimental to your health. Do not proceed without a cardiac care unit on standby.

Fiscal Conditions

John Mauldin, in his recent newsletter, argues that public spending in welfare states has reached a turning point:

Clearly, we are looking at a watershed event in public spending in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe. Because of the Great Financial Crisis, the usual benefit of a sharp rebound in cyclical tax receipts will not happen. It will take much longer to achieve any economic growth that could fill the public coffers.

Welfare states are faced with life-or-death problems that may not be soluble. To understand the gravity of the situation, two studies are useful.

The BIS Study

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS), is known as the Central Banker for central banks. In addition to other duties, BIS produces respected research pertaining to the world economy. They warned of the inevitable debt crisis long before it was apparent.

They are less political than central banks. As a result, their analysis can be more objective. Below is an excerpt from a BIS Working Paper which presented the necessary surpluses by country necessary to regain sounder fiscal condition.

[Table 6.1] presents the average primary surplus target required to bring debt ratios down to their 2007 levels over horizons of 5, 10 and 20 years. An aggressive adjustment path to achieve this objective within five years would mean generating an average annual primary surplus of 8-12% of GDP in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and 5-7% in a number of other countries. A preference for smoothing the adjustment over a longer horizon (say, 20 years) reduces the annual surplus target at the cost of leaving governments exposed to high debt ratios in the short to medium term.

These numbers have deteriorated since the table was constructed. For example, the US budget deficit is now expected to be in excess of 10% of GDP in 2011, not the 7.1% shown. The implications of the table are discussed below, but first a look at the problem from a different perspective.

The Jagadeesh Gokhale Study

Almost a year ago, an article entitled Welfare States - R. I. P. showed debt levels from around the world. This analysis included funded and unfunded (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) liabilities while the BIS study dealt only with funded debt.

The US government then had debt and unfunded liabilities equal to 8.4 times GDP. Today the number is almost 9 times. In 2005 the EU averaged 4.3 times GDP. The ratios for the PIGS, those troubled EU countries, were as follows: Portugal 4.9, Italy 3.6, Greece 8.8 and Spain 2.4. A methodological difference understated these ratios versus the US. It was crudely estimated that using the same methodologies, the EU and the US would be comparable.

An Intractable Problem

According to BIS, the US must run higher than a 2.4% budget surplus (higher than the Table above to reflect worsened conditions). A surplus this size has not occurred since the inception of the modern welfare state. To achieve this surplus, the US would have to cut spending by $2.0 Trillion in one year! (Note that any combination of cuts and tax increases necessary to produce this figure would suffice. This discussion assumes cuts only and tax increases would drive economic activity down and likely not be effective.)

Obama claims his new budget produces $1 Trillion dollars of cuts over 10 years. (At first blush, it is seen to contain at least 15 different tax increases to achieve his claim.) Even if his numbers were real, that is half of what BIS says is required in the first year and every year thereafter for 20 years! Over Obama's 10-year horizon, the BIS say that $20 Trillion is required. To achieve it, requires spending cuts of more than 50% of total government spending immediately!

The BIS solution is daunting, but not satisfactory for two reasons:

  • 1. It only returns governments to their 2007 fiscal conditions. After 20 years of extreme austerity the US would return to the condition that preceded the financial crisis. That assumes that markets would allow us this much time. Returning to the condition precedent to a financial collapse does not seem too assuring.
  • 2. The BIS cuts do not address the unfunded liability problems which would have to be dealt with as well, although presumably with less urgency.

The Gokhale study, based on 2005 data, concluded that government finance was unsustainable. By 2007, financial conditions had worsened.

The simplest way for most to understand the implications of the Gokhale data is to put it in terms that they can relate to. Several examples of that were provided in Spiraling to Bankruptcy. One illustration had the government confiscate all private wealth and apply it to their liabilities:

If the Government confiscated everything, the social programs would still be $50 trillion short and the Government would still be bankrupt. Furthermore, no company or individual would be left with anything.

Another translated government debt into the equivalent amount owed by each individual:

Assuming a total population of 315 million people, the portion of Federal Government debt that is owed by every man, woman and child in this country is about $381,000! Or, a family of four owes $1,525,000 of which they are unaware. This amount is in addition to whatever mortgages, credit card debt, car loans or other loans a family might have.

Both the BIS and Gokhale studies convey the desperate situation we are in. The BIS provides a solution via massive cost-cutting. Gokhale does not provide a solution. Neither study accounts for the additional state and local liabilities. Neither takes into account the federal guarantees of Fannie and Freddie which amount to another $5 Trillion.

The Federal Government is in what is known as a Debt Death Spiral. They are unable to pay the actual and implied interest on their debt. Hence, the unpaid balance is added back to the amount owed, making the problem worse next year. This debt spiral is growing exponentially. Unless this spiral is reversed, there is no way to escape a certain mathematical end.

Faking It To Bankruptcy

The supposed budget-cutting Republicans are having trouble agreeing on $100 billion of cuts. That is considered too much by some. Obama, on the other hand, claims he is cutting even as he submits a record-shattering spending budget. Politicians, unless their last name is Paul, believe budget cuts of any reasonable size are not possible. In the fantasy world of politics, perhaps they are correct.

The real world, however, is ruled by higher laws, unconcerned with politics. Physics and mathematics are beyond political influence. These forces don't think or care; they just are. They unemotionally influence events, oblivious to human needs, wants or suffering. Pure forces of nature cannot be bargained with or overruled.

A clash between these two worlds is imminent. A year ago in Welfare States - R. I. P., I speculated that we would come to this point:

The inability of politicians to say no or not play Santa Claus appears to be universal. It has every welfare state headed for bankruptcy. It is unlikely that politicians will act to head off this problem, but markets will eventually put these states out of their misery.

Lack of action is not necessarily a sign of ignorance amongst the ruling class. We got here as a result of their cowardice and Santa Claus politics. That is not about to change. The brighter politicians surely understand the situation as well as I have tried to explain it and probably better. Refusal to act is dastardly but likely "good" politics.

Initiating cuts of the magnitude necessary to avoid Armageddon would precipitate our version of an Egyptian rebellion. In the political mind, even a benevolent dictator with virtually unlimited power could not solve the mathematics of this problem. Given this attitude, it is rational for politicians to pretend ‘til the end. In effect, they are faking their way to sovereign bankruptcy.

Even though it is useless, they will do anything to keep the economy afloat for as long as they can. Once the true condition is known, we will be indistinguishable from Egypt. Apparently that will be fine with President Obama who stated that what was happening in Egypt was democracy at work. Will he feel that way when the US population realizes what has been done and reacts?

Monty Pelerin at www.economicnoise.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Tipping Point Is Nearing (American Thinker)

 

By Jeff T. Allen

We are facing a tipping point. There will soon be a crisis affecting US citizens beyond any experienced since the Great Depression. And it may happen within the year. This past week three awful developments put a dagger into the hope for a growth-led recovery, which held promise of possibly averting a debt and currency implosion crushing the American economy.

The first was a little-noticed, but tragic, series of events in the newly elected House of Representatives. The speaker, Mr. Boehner, had given the task of fashioning the majority's spending cut agenda to Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), a rising conservative star representing the vocal wing of fiscal conservatives in the House. Promising to cut $100 billion of government spending, Mr. Boehner spoke before the elections of the urgency to produce immediately when Republicans took control.

Out of a $3.8 trillion government spending agenda, the wonkish Mr. Ryan, considered by many to be the best hope for fiscal conservatives, revealed proposed cuts of a whopping $74 billion. After some tense meetings, (referred to as a "revolt" by some media) newly elected conservative congressmen convinced the leadership to commit to unspecified cuts of an additional $26 billion. The actual "cuts" from any such legislation will, of course, be less once the appropriate political log rolling and deal-making are done- let's call it $50 billion (while the deficit grows by $26 billion during the week it takes to discuss it). So go the hopes for serious spending restraint from our newly elected wave of rabid, anti-big government Republicans. They may deliver cuts 1.3% of total spending that is itself approximately 90% greater than collected taxes. Let's mark this spending reduction effort as an epic fail, at a time when epic success is almost required for survival.

The second awful development to occur last week was the employment report from the Labor Department, describing employment conditions in the U.S. economy in January, 2011. The report was packed with statistics, all pointing to anemic growth with a modest pickup in manufacturing employment. The little-noticed (not by the bond market) aspect of the report was the "benchmark" revisions, an attempt to get the total picture more accurate each year than simply adding up all the monthly change numbers. This year's benchmark revisions showed two alarming things: a decline from previously reported employment in December 2010 of nearly 500,000 jobs, and a reduction in the workforce of a similar amount.

Coupled with insistence from the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed intended to continue "quantitative easing" (a euphemism for monetizing the bonded debt of the federal government), the employment data caused bond holders to assume there will be no end to the red ink. Ten-year U.S. bonds lost a full percent of their value, declining a total of 18% since Bernanke announced the acceleration of Fed policy in August 2010. The yield on these bonds has increased from an ultra-low 2.4% in August to 3.65% today, as the Fed repeatedly describes inflation in the U.S. as too low.

In context, a 3.7% yield does not appear high by historical standards. In our current predicament, however, it is heading toward Armageddon. If interest rates on our debt rise by 1% it means our interest payments rise by more than $100 billion dollars annually (not including the interest payments owed to the Social Security Trust Fund--see below). As global liquidity and deficit spending have accelerated, food and commodity prices have skyrocketed, sending many prices up 25-50% worldwide since August. In some countries (Tunisia and Egypt among them) rice prices and cooking oil have doubled. Copper is up 40% in that time. If global inflation expectations take hold with tenacity, as they have many times in past periods of "easy money" by our Fed and Congress, interest rates may easily rise to 5-6%, an event which will blow an additional $300-500 billion hole in a budget already beyond sanity. Can our creditors give the U.S. a nod on $2 trillion of new debt each year without any plan to fix it? Remember, there is plenty of past experience with U.S. debt yielding 7-8%, a potential expenditure on our current debt of nearly 100% of tax receipts to pay interest alone should yields go there.

The third development of the last week which received much less press than the Egyptian crisis is the "new normal" in Social Security. The CBO released a report disclosing that the net cash flow for the Social Security trust fund -- excluding interest received from the book entry bonds it holds in U.S. debt -- will be negative $56 billion in 2011, and for every year hence even more so. This is the train wreck that was supposed to happen in 2020. It is upon us now. Any limp action by conservatives to bring this program into solvency can be expected only to slow the raging river of red ink this behemoth program (along with its twin Godzilla, Medicare) spills on U.S. citizens. With no political will to fix them, these "entitlements" will obligate Americans to borrow more and more money from China--to honor promises we simply refuse to admit we can't keep.

So why do these developments argue for a crisis of Great Depression proportions? Because they speak unequivocally of our pathway to insolvency, and the potential of currency failure via hyperinflation, despite the hopes of conservatives and market participants to see a halt of such direction. Housing prices, the foundation of so much of private citizen debt loads, are destined for stagnation -- not inflation -- as the supply of homes is far greater than the demand -- 11% of the nation's homes stand empty today. When the world begins to recognize that there is no fix for America's borrowings, a fast and brutal exodus from our currency and bonds can send us a shock in mere weeks or months.

Unlike the Great Depression, however, we will enter such a shock in a weakened state, with few producers among us and record mountains of debt. More cataclysmic is the specter of inadequate food, as less than 4% of us farm, and those that do may cease to be as productive or may not accept devalued currency as payment, should the tipping point be crossed. Corn and wheat prices in the U.S. have nearly doubled in less than 12 months, using our rapidly evaporating currency as the medium of exchange.

The time for action has passed, which may only become apparent as the "aid" of easy money becomes seen as the harm that it is. May we all be spared the worst, but I offer no such prayers for those responsible. The harm that comes will be swifter, and more severe, than most of them thought possible.

16 Comments on "A Tipping Point Is Nearing"

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Atheist Antidote: Sarah Palin & The Liberal Psyche

 

Posted: February 6th, 2011 | Author: Henry D'Andrea

I saw this video over on Conservatives4Palin And one minute into it, I had to share it. Enjoy.

The very sound of her name provokes reactions that run from reverence to loathing. She has become for better or worse a hopeless tangle of causes and effects. Here is a woman who carries all the symbolic freight of America’s culture war. It has become her fate to symbolize everything that some people like, and others detest about this country’s red states.
Sarah Palin has been criticized not only for her record and positions but for her intelligence, her accent, her body, her clothes and even her fitness as a mother. And all this in a time of history celebrated as progressive and forward thinking on the issues of women and power. Many of us watched as her sudden rise provoked a kind of hysteria among liberals and media elite that can only be seen to the objective eye as venomous and cutting. The vicious snobbery and breathtaking double standards will certainly have media consequences for years to come.

David Cameron Lifts the Lid (American Thinker)

 

By Gregory Buls

Western luminaries descended on Munich this weekend for the 47th annual Munich Security Conference.  On Saturday, representatives from forty nations listened to what should be remembered as the first reasonably coherent defense of Western values by a Western leader in the age of modern Islamic terrorism.  If his speech is taken to heart, U.K. leader David Cameron may have opened Pandora's Box -- and perhaps none too soon.

He gave some indication that this was not the standard boilerplate speech right from the start, identifying radical Islam as the main terrorist threat:

But we should acknowledge that this threat comes overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse and warped interpretation of Islam and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens.

He further declared that "State multiculturalism" dead, saying that it enables extremism, and fails to offer young people the clear alternative to radicalism -- traditional Western culture and values.  He acknowledged that some Muslims plot world dominion and argued that the West's cultural weakness is enervating, inviting extremism and aggression.

The speech was remarkable both in its content and its contrast to the normal platitudes we hear on this subject from elected officials.  He began by identifying the problem:

At the furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia.

Move along the spectrum, and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world-view including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values.

This may be the most dangerous extremist element -- that which uses our institutions and openness against us.  It is arguably as great a long-term threat as the violent extremists, who may create crises in which the rules change abruptly, against them.  The badly-weathered rock of Western civilization is probably more likely to be broken down by erosion than blown apart in violence.

Cameron explicitly denied the wisdom of appeasement, drawing a distinction he says the left is unwilling to make:

On the other hand, there are those on the soft left who also ignore this distinction. They lump all Muslims together, compiling a list of grievances and arguing if only governments addressed them, this terrorism would stop.

Later:

But let's not fool ourselves, these are just contributory factors.  Even if we sorted out all these problems, there would still be this terrorism.

This is bold talk, indeed -- it directly contradicts what almost every Muslim group is willing to publicly say.  Mr. Cameron is arguing that even if we assuage every Islamist concern, we will still be attacked, that it is not merely a matter of geopolitics and sociology; it is a matter of philosophy.  The leader of the United Kingdom appears to be acceding that there is something rotten at the core of Islam -- in its present form as an institution/worldview, it can't fully get along with others even in the best possible circumstances.  Extremist elements will ostensibly find imagined justifications to recruit and act, based upon philosophy.  Where can Mr. Cameron possibly go from there, having framed what may be an existential dilemma for the West?

So first, instead of ignoring this extremist ideology, we -- as governments and societies -- have got to confront it, in all its forms.  And second, instead of encouraging people to live apart, we need a clear sense of shared national identity, open to everyone.

Broadly speaking, these must be the correct approaches, given what is possible and palatable to Western democracies in early 2011.  The first would mark a distinct departure from the otherwise hollow rhetoric of most Western leaders -- the problem indeed goes far beyond violent Muslims.  The second, while it may seem a slippery notion and hard to realize, is precisely what is needed if we expect Muslims to assist us in promoting stable societies.  To have any effect, such an effort necessarily requires an affirmation and broader appreciation of what makes Western societies such ideal places to live and raise families.  It is also a direct and flagrant repudiation of the egalitarian foundations of multiculturalism.  What are we defending, and why does that defense require every ounce of our energy and ingenuity?  Without a clear answer to that question, the endeavor is crippled from the outset.

Islam may in fact propose an existential problem for open cultures.  The spread of destructive technologies accompanies the growth of a religion which many of its followers believe is destined to rule the world, by force if necessary.  It sounds like the plot of a bad science fiction novel.  From the perspective of outsiders looking in at the Earth, Islam would likely be recognized as the force most likely to significantly disrupt human civilization.  Almost everyone else has a manifest interest in maintaining at least the appearance of stability.

We know that nations are able to hold and handle destructive technology responsibly and refrain from using it.  We cannot expect the same from terrorist organizations.  In the past, whole societies could be geared to war for years and walk away from conflict relatively unscathed.  The destructive technologies Islamist groups admit to pursuing have the capacity to derail the entire centuries-long enterprise of Western civilization in a fortnight.  It's likely, given the rest of what he said, that Mr. Cameron understands the ultimate nature of the threat.  For now, he has taken the most sensible possible approach -- identifying the problem actors, isolating them to the extent possible, and encouraging everyone else to unite around shared interests and ideals, working together against the holdouts.

The theme of unity runs through Cameron's speech, but it's not the patronizing, feel-good (dis)unity of multiculturalist rhetoric.  He traces the radicalization of English Muslims in part to the alienation from the greater English culture which results from multiculturalism:

But they also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.  Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.  We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

This will sit well with the average English voter and should be viewed favorably by most English Muslims.  Many Muslims have vested interests in English society, and none can be blind to the possibility of extremism overturning the apple cart.  They also respect strength.  Cameron displays it by calling out both Muslim communities and the multiculturalist infection which encourages the sense of otherness:

We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.

So when a white person holds objectionable views -- racism, for example -- we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn't white, we've been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.  The failure of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone they don't want to, is a case in point.   This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared.  All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless...

In our communities, groups and organisations led by young, dynamic leaders promote separatism by encouraging Muslims to define themselves solely in terms of their religion.  All these interactions engender a sense of community, a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply.  You might say: as long as they're not hurting anyone, what's the problem with all this?  I'll tell you why.

As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called 'non-violent extremists' and then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence.  And I say this is an indictment of our approach to these issues in the past.

Having identified some of the catalysts of violent Muslim extremism, Mr. Cameron then turned to solutions.  Among the approaches he advocates are the following:

1. Refuse to deal with Islamist front groups: "Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.  As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement."

2. Establish standards for recognizing or subsidizing Muslim groups: "Do they believe in universal human rights -- including for women and people of other faiths?  Do they believe in equality of all before the law?  Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?  These are the sorts of questions we need to ask.  Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations.  No public money.  No sharing of platforms with Ministers at home."

3. Deny the most extreme parts of Islamic prophecy: "We need to argue that their prophecies of a global war of religion pitting Muslims against the rest of the world are rubbish."  The antecedent is "terrorists," so clearly he was not referring to those in the West who warn of such a war.  Some Muslims will take this as a direct assault upon the Prophet's veracity.  But they are unlikely to loudly condemn Cameron for it, as that puts them in the position of predicting just such a global war against nonbelievers.  And it's not as though they're predicting that someone, sometime will do it -- they are the "someone," if anyone is.

4. Define what it means to belong to Western society:

A passively tolerant society says to its citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.  It stands neutral between different values.  A genuinely liberal country does much more.  It believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech.  Freedom of worship.  Democracy.  The rule of law.  Equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality.  It says to its citizens: this is what defines us as a society.  To belong here is to believe in these things.

Here again Mr. Cameron goes out on a limb -- if you don't embrace these values, your way of thinking doesn't really belong in the West.  The natural extension is that the individual does not belong in the West.  But Mr. Cameron is not recommending widespread expulsion of ideological dissidents -- rather, he is saying that it is impossible to feel a part of Western society without respecting these beliefs.  The alternative is mutual alienation.

5. Empower communities to unify them: "I also believe we should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power, away from the state and to people.  That way common purpose can be formed, as people come together and work together in their neighbourhoods.  It will also help build stronger pride in local identity so people feel free to say yes, I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am Christian but I am also a Londoner or a Berliner too.  It's that identity -- that feeling  of belonging in our countries -- that is the key to achieving true cohesion."

It's too much to ask, at this juncture, for a national leader to delve too far into the starker realities of Islamic theology and the implications it may have for the future of freedom.  Hopefully, such frank talk will never be necessary -- perhaps there exists the prospect of so moderating Islam that it polices itself, as it ultimately must if it is to peacefully coexist alongside other worldviews.  Prime Minister Cameron seems intent to find out if such moderation is possible.  He speaks to that hope in strong and unapologetic terms which will command the respect of many Muslims.  The ultimate measure of cultural decadence is the unwillingness of a culture to defend itself.  Why should Muslims defend our civilization if we are too weak to do so?  Cameron is not afraid to defend ours, and he calls on others to do the same.

Most Muslims and even many Islamists may eventually embrace, or at least reconcile themselves to, "Freedom of speech.  Freedom of worship.  Democracy.  The rule of law.  Equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality."  But the theological and political totality of Islam as revealed by the Prophet Mohammed is difficult to reconcile with these Western institutions and ideals.  Discussing this inescapable fact is a step too far for Mr. Cameron, and rightly so.  At most, he hinted strongly at it when he stated bluntly that Islamic terrorism would still exist even in a climate of total accommodation.  He recognizes, rightly, that we must marginalize the fanatics, and you don't do so by saying that they are the only ones who take the religion seriously -- that everyone else is biting off only what they are comfortable chewing.

David Cameron said more about Islam on Saturday, and he said it with greater insight, sensitivity, and realism than you'll find in virtually all of the platitudinous speeches on the subject delivered by all other Western leaders since 2001 combined.  And he did so while defending our culture, our integrity, and our basic goodness.  Pandora's Box is open -- the West may not be dessicated after all.  People all over the world should take notice: A Western leader has finally emerged.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Singapore's Lee: 'we can integrate all religions and races except Islam' (American Thinker)

 

Thomas Lifson

Lee Kuan Yew ranks as one of the most successful statesmen of the 20th century, having led Singapore to independence, and built a thriving prosperous mini-state with a world class economy, out of an ethnically diverse population. He retired as the world's longest serving prime minister, and at 87 years of age, has little to lose in speaking his mind.

Thus, his candor in discussing the assimilation of Muslims is perhaps understandable, but stil startling in a world of political correctness and compulsory sensitivity to Muslims, who are never expected to reciprocate. Singapore has a substantial Muslim minority, mostly Malays but also some Indian Muslims. Throughout its history, Singapore has striven to keep ethnic tensions minimized among its diverse population (ethnic Chinese being the largest group [74%], followed by Malays[13%], Indians, and others -- including many westerners). At one point in the 1960s, Lee spearheaded a merger with majority-Muslim Malaysia, but it quickly fell apart.

Now, Lee has published a book on Singapore's future, and he is speaking his mind:

In the book, Mr Lee, when asked to assess the progress of multiracialism in Singapore, said: "I have to speak candidly to be of value, but I do not wish to offend the Muslim community.

"I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came, and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration - friends, intermarriages and so on, Indians with Chinese, Chinese with Indians - than Muslims. That's the result of the surge from the Arab states."

He added: "I would say today, we can integrate all religions and races except Islam."

He also said: "I think the Muslims socially do not cause any trouble, but they are distinct and separate."

Mr lee then went on to speak of how his own generation of politicians who worked with him had integrated well, including sitting down and eating together. He said: "But now, you go to schools with Malay and Chinese, there's a halal and non-halal segment and so too, the universities. And they tend to sit separately so as not to be contaminated. All that becomes a social divide."

He added that the result was a "veil" across peoples. Asked what Muslims in Singapore needed to do to integrate, he replied: "Be less strict on Islamic observances and say ‘Okay, I'll eat with you.'"

Hat tip: Andrew Bolt

Comments from David Stockman on Employment in America

Stockman Interview