P.J. O’Rourke Verbatim – Climate Change

Ready To Tell All Those Bees They Can't Have As Much Honey As You?

Verbatim text of Part II, Chapter 5, “Climate Change”, from P.J. O’Rourke’s, “Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards”.

There’s not a g-ddamn thing you can do about it.  Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash.  It doesn’t matter.  There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick.  Actually, if you go more than a mile or two outside China’s big cities, the wants are more basic.  People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it.  They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter.  And air-conditioning wouldn’t be considered an imposition, if you’ve ever been to China in the summer.
Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like—a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation—and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.
Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.

2014-03-12 fixed para alignment (had been centered inadvertently)

P.J. O’Rourke Lite – The Redistribution of Wealth

Friends Share.

Cherrypickings from P.J. O’Rourke’s, Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards, pp. 58-59—Selected lines excerpted, placed in italics if paraphrased.  Closed parens ( ) used versus ellipses to indicate skipped portions of lines.

All political systems are redistributive.  But:  How much?  Of what?  To whom?  By which means?  And where the h*ll do we get it from?  This is the crux of the liberal versus conservative argument in modern democracies.
Imagine that your family is matched by lot with five other families and the resulting half-dozen familial units must pool their resources and come to mutual decisions about how those resources are to be allocated.  Now let’s institute a requirement that the other five families be poorer than yours.
And why is a small bad idea like this supposed to get better if you make it bigger?

Outlier:  For those of you thinking “But this example is moot, because I wouldn’t be the richest one in the group, and the rich families are  so rich they  wouldn’t be hurting to miss some money to help the rest of us”—Well, if you’re thinking that, here’s what O’Rourke has to say to you:

Who’s rich?  You are.  To someone who lives in the slums of Karachi, you’re rich.  I don’t care if you’re driving a 1990 Geo Tracker, haven’t had a job since Cher was a babe, and your trailer home just burned down…you’re rich.  You’re farting through silk as far as that person in Karachi who’s looking for a job as a suicide bomber is concerned.

Outlier:  And I’m just gonna add, if you’re literate and self-aware enough to be reading this, you’re definitely among the rich families.  And the ant and grasshopper rules screw you if any of those other five families are poor because they chose to spend all their bucks on video games, premium cable, nightly meals out, movies out 3x/week, frequent trips to Vegas…

Another rule of restribution can be extrapolated from a family circle:  Never do anything to (or for) a stranger that you wouldn’t do to (or for) your bum brother-in-law.  You can’t let your sister and her five kids by ( ) different fathers starve, but you can try to make her husband get a job.  And you can ( ) run him off at gunpoint if he beats her.
Or say your brother-in-law isn’t a bad guy, just drunk and crazy and high on drugs.  He’s living on the street and talking to people who don’t exist.  Do you pick him up by his collar and belt, heave him in the back of your car, and get him some help?  Or do you respect his civil rights and let him freeze in doorways and get run over by a bus?

Outlier:  I thought this “pretend it’s your own family” approach was the best illustration I’ve ever seen for why our current hands-off policy re: leaving street people free to roam the streets is the very opposite of Do Unto Others, good old common sense, and human decency.

edited in ’13 to shrink images for phones

P.J. O’Rourke Lite – The Free Market

The free market is the greatest repository of our freedoms.  We don’t often exercise our freedoms of speech, belief, and assembly for anything of equivalent consequence to our nation’s or our people’s freedom.  I don’t know much about business, but I know enough to thank it for existing.
Free Market in Japan
Business investment defines humanity.  If a dog has a surplus s/he will eat it all and vomit it up rather than give a portion of it to another dog in return for shares in ( ) the chewing of shoes.

Business investment defines civilization.  Barbarians don’t raise money through debt and equity.  They raise money through stealing. ( ) Business investment is one of the most important ideas in history.  If it weren’t for business investment, all the inventors, innovators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers who have brought prosperity to the modern world wouldn’t have been able to as they have.

The free market is not a creed or an ideology ( ) it is simply a measurement.  It is a bathroom scale.  We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165.  Liberals and leftists think we can.

The free market gives us only one piece of information, but it’s important information.  We ignore it at our peril, the way the leaders of the old Soviet bloc did.  They lost the cold war not because of troops or tanks or Star Wars missile shields.  The Soviets lost the cold war because of Bulgarian blue jeans.  The free market was attempting to inform the Kremlin that Bulgarian blue jeans didn’t fit, were ugly and ill-made, and nobody wanted them at any price.  People wouldn’t wear Bulgarian blue jeans—literally not to save their lives.  But the Kremlin didn’t listen.  And the Berlin Wall came down.

Ugly-Fitting Designer Jeans

I’m Sorry, Folks–I Can’t Tell–Are Those the Bulgarian or Designer Jeans?

Opposition to the free market is forever expressed in outrage at capitalist success.  Capitalism exploits workers, robs widows and orphans, and concentrates wealth in the hands of the rapacious few.  Critics of the free market think of capitalists as being  ( ) the faceless and thus even more wicked partners at Goldman-Sachs.  ( ) but that’s not who capitalists are, and capitalism is ( ) not a product of the free market anyway.

To undertake any material project—whether it’s the Great Pyramid, a hospital, or a paper mache puppet for a preschool, requires a fund of accumulated resources of some kind whether it’s money, or just paste and recycled paper.  This is “capital”.

Capital can come from savings.  Capital can come from borrowings.  Capital can come from getting something needed for the project by trading a share of ownership of the project once it’s finished (this is what stocks are).  Capital can come from paper money that has no real worth; e.g. that a bank has pulled out of its ass.

Capitalism, so-called, is when people accumulate capital of their own free will for use on freely-determined projects.  The fact is that most of these projects flop.  What’s good about the free market is that it lets capitalism fail.  Think of all the wonderful moneymaking ideas people get—and you’ve probably had some of these ideas yourself:  Chocolate-covered hairballs to give your feline something yummy to cough up; scented candles for men—“Mandles”—that fill a guy’s home with smells of “Gear Oil” and “Frying Meat”; FunScreen to protect children from dangerous exposure to fun.  Use FPF 40 if the kid has a skateboard.

Imagine a world where all such schemes come to fruition.  At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, America conducted an economic intervention that kept businesses that were staggering around, intoxicated by overtrading, and blinded by MBA moonshine from falling down the manhole of liquidation.

“Moral hazard” is the term economists use for a situation that reduces the incentive to avoid bad economic behavior. 

The message that the U.S. government sent to the broke banks and beggared financial institutions was “Don’t you ever do this again or we’ll give you more money.”   After which there was a flurry of government regulatory activity to make sure it was illegal to do “this” again.  And the banks and financial institutions won’t do “this” again.  They’ll do “that”.  John H. Cochrane, professor of finance at the University of Chicago ( ) pointed out that “the regulatory system ends up encouraging artificial obscurity.”  Make the rules tougher and they’ll play the game tougher.  Are the people named Masters of Regulation likely to be quicker and better motivated than the people named Masters of the Universe?

Professor Cochrane again:  “To give government officials the power to bail out firms at their discretion, especially if those officials are elected or political appointees, is practically to guarantee a bailout.”

The business of government is failure-proof; i.e. government props up the unpropworthy. ( ) You’ve just explained where those Bulgarian blue jeans came from.  Fortunately, most of America is still allowed to fail.  The free market teaches us a lesson in the value of failure.

Orange and Black Striped Stinkbugs Mating

If a Stinkbug Falls in the Forest, Is It a Bad Thing?

Cherry-pickings from P.J. O’Rourke’s, “Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards”, pp. 36-46, 122-23—Selected lines excerpted, italics indicate paraphrasing.  Closed parens ( ) used versus ellipses to indicate skipped portions of lines.

The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell

In 1630, John Cotton, the leading mega-rock star of his time, saw off the departing Puritans headed for the Massachusetts Bay colony with a sermon based on the idea that they were God’s new chosen people. 

It was okay to move to a land that was already occupied by other people (notice that these forward-thinking folk did fully acknowledge the equal humanity of the Algonquin Indians) because:

God had said it was okay when Abraham horned in on the Philistines without paying them for their land.  The God-given excuse back then applied now:

“There is room enough.”

The colony’s official seal, brought with them from England, pictured an Indian in a loincloth holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other, with words saying

“Come over and help us.”

No, Seriously. I Offer My Wrists Freely. Shackle Them. It Will Help Me.

It’s from a vision of St. Paul where a Macedonian says to him “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.”  (Sarah adds some good snide commentary about how how unwanted help in the affairs of others became a U.S. speciality.)


“Come Over and Help Us Be Conquered By the U.S. Post Office”

How William Tyndale Got Double-Screwed

William Tyndale is the English Protestant who committed the crime of translating the Bible into English (in 1524, in case you’re a date freak).

Henry VIII executed him for this twelve years later, in 1536 (which was two years after Henry had broken away from the Catholic church because he wanted to f*ck Anne Bolyn so badly and get a legitimate male heir by her). 

Tyndale’s reported last words were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!”.

Clearly, his prayer worked, because in 1538, only two years after Henry executed him, Henry commissioned the first official Bible in English, the Great Bible.   Based mostly upon–you guessed it–the executed William’s translation.

Let's At Least Give Henry's (William's) Lovely Version a Glimpse

The Puritans Believed God Purposely Created Us Un-Equal In Order That We’d Love One Another

The idea is emphasized in a famous sermon known in brief as “Christian Charity” in which John Winthrop, the colony’s first governor, says that the colony will be “as a city upon a hill”–a model for others to follow.

Many politicians have quoted this.  Winthrop was quoting it from the Bible. 

He said God’s purpose in making us unequal was: “…that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection.” 

Or, as Anne Bradstreet, a poet-wanna-be put it:

“As it is with countries, so it is with (people):  there was never yet any one (person) that had all excellences…God will have us beholden one to another.”

(What you’re bad at, I’m good at and can help you with, and vice-versa.)

Sarah Vowell’s comment on this:

“Because of the “city upon a hill” sound bite, “A Model of Christian Charity” is one of the formative documents outlining the idea of America.  But dig deep into its communitarian ethos and it reads more like an America that might have been, an America fervently devoted to the quaint goals of working together and getting along. 

Of course, this America does exist.  It’s called Canada.”

Why Roger Williams (Founder of Rhode Island) Doesn’t Get Enough Credit

Man, this guy was forward-thinking!  I had known he allowed freedom of religious practice in his colony.  But he didn’t even believe in ORGANIZED religion at all, and he also thought that the state should be so hands-off religion that even “the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish [Islamic] or Antichristian consciences” should be allowed.  
Back in that time in history, a man believed in tolerance toward ANTI-Christians?! 
Williams did believe that non-Christian religions SHOULD be fought against–but he thought the only weapon used should be “the sword of God’s spirit, the Word of God.”

What a cool dude.

At the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, This Goat is Free to Ruminate About The Great Unknown in Whatever Manner It Pleases

The other extremely cool thing about Roger, to this once-and-still Linguistics nerd, is that he made a dictionary of the Algonquin language that was so good, it was still able to be used in 1936–THREE HUNDRED YEARS LATER (!).

A guy made his way entirely across Canada using it, communicating successfully with various tribes who shared dialect branches.
Sarah Vowell makes fun of Roger’s bad poetry, citing as one example “righteousness” rhymed with “wilderness”. 
But Sarah may have made an errah. (Oooh, Babe… 🙂 )
Old and Middle English poem sound patterns were often based not on rhyming (“lazy” – “hazy”), but on alliteration (“lazy”-“lady”). Vowels alliterated more often than consonants, like the weak “e” in “ness”.  A matching line pair might end with “happiness” and “blessedness”.
Perhaps the average educated person in Roger’s time (1640-ish) was okay with newfangled rhyming line pairs mixed in with the older alliterating-vowel line pairs.
So there, Sarah Vowell!   And you have a funny last name!  (But I liked your book.)

Here’s one of Roger’s little poems about the Indians he met, where you can see that two lines rhyme (stranger/danger), and two lines do…something else (mat/sent):

     I have known them leave their house and mat
     To lodge a friend or stranger;
     When Jews and Christians oft have sent
     Christ Jesus to a manger.

That Sneaky-and-Sweet Governor Winthrop
The Massachusetts Bay colony expelled Roger Williams for his evil nasty nastiness regarding religion (“How DARE he be tolerant like Christ!”), which is when he moved to the Rhode Island area.
Well guess what? John Winthop, governor of the colony that kicked him out, gave him advance warning that the Massachusetts folk were coming for him. Withrop even told him where it would be safe to go!
Winthrop never dropped a hint of this treason in his own journals, but Williams revealed it in his. The two supposed enemies kept up a warm correspondence until Winthrop died.
(At which point, Winthrop would, one assumes, have learned the theological truth from the Big Horse’s mouth.)
(Or not…depending on which ruminating goat you are.)

1. Tyndale on Bible Reading

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