Our favorite Canadian (non, this guy is not Canadienne) bomb thrower Mark Steyn sums up the "Non" vote and the EU elites thusly. [Editor's note: the link is behind a subscription wall. Don't forget bugmenot if you want to go there.]
... Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of "Europe", seems closer to the mark in his now famous dismissal of the will of the people: "If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'."...
That's the most obvious flaw in Giscard's flaccid treaty: it's not a constitution, it's a perfectly fine party platform for a rather stodgy semi-obsolescent social democratic party. Its constitutional "rights" - the right to housing assistance, the right to preventive action on the environment - are not constitutional at all, but the sort of things parties ought to be arguing about at election time...
No, no, no. Europe doesn't have a lack of leaders, it has a lack of followers...
The big story of the past three decades is that the more it's mired itself in the creation of a centralised pseudo-state, the more "Europe" has fallen behind America in every important long-term indicator, from economic growth to demographics. "Europe" is an indulgence the real Europe can't afford. The followers recognise that, even if the leaders don't.
Yesterday, May 29, 2005, was the date set for the French voters to cast their ballot for or against the European constitution. Let's look at how the voting went.
The "non" vote won. From what I see at the Belmont Club, Instapundit, etc., the EU elites will just keep doing their thing, and will sweep the clear rejection of the constitution under the rug. Some see the "non" vote as a vote against free trade and for a still more collectivist society. I wish I could still read French well enough to follow along with some of their bloggers. That is, if the government allows them there.
In a campaign dominated by misinformation, hysteria and downright lies on both sides, one warning has the ring of truth: That Europe, and France, face a period of uncertainty while leaders decide what the French vote represents.
God forbid the "non" should be seen as the voters saying, "This constitution sucks." And whatever you do, even if you have a vote, never let the little people actually have a hand in their governance.
But the European Dream may have an expiration date: May 29th, 2005.
On that day, the citizens of France will quite possibly reject the proposed EU constitution, thereby tossing the contrived union of disparate states into a long, slow death spiral. .
So, how did it go?
One thing we all know for sure, bien sur, is that the EU Constitution does not suck. don't believe me? Just ask its author:
The mood of pessimism that descended on the French Government after ten successive polls showing the “no” camp leading was echoed by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French President, who drafted the constitution. He blamed the failures of the “yes” campaign on the half-heartedness of France’s leaders.
“Our current leaders are of course believers in the idea of Europe but in their heart of hearts they are not men and women who are inspired by a European feeling,” he told a French newspaper.
The relative economic decline of “old” Europe since the early 1990s — especially of Germany and Italy, but also of the Netherlands and France — has been a disaster almost unparalleled in modern history. While Britain and Japan certainly suffered some massive economic dislocations, in the early 1980s and the mid-1990s respectively, they never experienced the same sort of permanent transformation from thriving full-employment economies to stagnant societies where mass unemployment and falling living standards are accepted as permanent facts of life. In Britain, unemployment more than doubled from 1980 to 1984, but conditions then quickly improved. By the late 1980s it was enjoying a boom, the economy was growing by 4 per cent and unemployment had halved. In continental Europe, by contrast, unemployment has been stuck between 8 and 11 per cent since 1991 and growth has reached 3 per cent only once in those 14 years.
> Here are the 10 first place winners in the 2005 International Pun > Contest. >> >> >> 1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead >> raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, >> only one carrion allowed per passenger." >> >> >> >> 2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns >> to the other and says "Dam!" >> >> >> >> 3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so >> they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once > again >> that you can't have your kayak and heat it too. >> >> >> >> 4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my >> electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm >> positive." >> >> >> >> 5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused >> Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication. >> >> >> >> 6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel >> and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament >> victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and >> asked them to disperse. >> "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because", >> he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer." >> >> >> >> 7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. >> One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal" The other >> goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan > sends >> a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the >> picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture > of >> Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, >> you've seen Ahmal." >> >> >> >> 8. These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened > up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone >> liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town >> thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close > down, >> but they would not. >> He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the >> rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious > thug >> in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and > trashed >> their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. >> Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent >> florist friars. >> >> >> >> 9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most >> of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. >> He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd >> diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him ... a super calloused >> fragile mystic hexed by halitosis. >> >> >> >> 10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten >> different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns >> would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.
When I was at UF studying architecture, I was fascinated with the concept of figure/ground, where the architect tries to use what is not there as an element of the design. For instance, in classically proportioned facades and arcades, what you see and feel is the rhythm of the spaces, not so much the columns and other physical elements. Naturally, artists use figure/ground a lot.
As do perverts.
For example, look at the picture in the 'continue reading Nine dolphins' section below, then read the explanation that follows: WARNING -- R RATED MATERIAL...
I know most of you don't visit the comments section, so when I get some good stuff there I like to cut & paste it to the top for two reasons:
I hate to pass up the chance to glom on to the good writing of others
I hate to wast more than 60 seconds worth of typing where y'all won't see it
So, on the topic of Social Security, this exchange between me and Rob, my favorite socialist progressive:
Social Security is funded by US Treasury Bonds, backed by the "full faith and credit" of the US government - the same ones that are held by millions of people around the world who believe they represent a stable financial asset. If those are no good, then this country has a lot bigger problems that the Social Security fund.
As to the question of how we will pay those obligations coming due in 2018 and beyond, when money going out of the SS system starts to exceed money coming into the system from the wage tax - we will do exactly what we always do. We will borrow it. Adding $2 trillion to the national debt over the period of 2018-2052 is not excessive - it's actually fairly modest by today's standards. Meanwhile, if productivity grows by 2.2% instead of the 1.8% projection that the SS actuaries are using (it's been growing by about 3% since 2000), then there will be no funding problem at all.
Seems to me that boosting that productivity number (by means of technology and better management) is the easiest and most painless way out of this fix, and it's something both sides can agree on. Among other things, it will increase the profitability of US businesses, meaning better returns on private investment, so that those who use existing government-sponsored private investments (e.g., tax-advantaged accounts like 401(k) and Roth-IRAs) will benefit as well. I am confident we can make progress if this issue is actually about results, not ideology.
As to the "full faith & credit" and the "if that's no good then we've got much bigger problem" arguments, I look at it like this.
Suppose a corporation, let's say General Electric, has on its books a large number or corporate bonds, which are simply a promise from a corporation to pay out a certain amount of money on a certain future date. And suppose GE holds bonds from Shell Oil, Lockeed, Mitsubishi, and Daimler-Chrysler. No problem. Then there's another corporation, let's say Enron, that also has a large portfolio of corporate bonds, only in Enron's case its portfolio is composed of bonds from just one corporation -- Enron.
See the difference?
GE's ownership of other corporation's bonds is a legitimate investment. Enron's ownership of its own paper is a fraud. Social Security's pile of IOU's from the US government is much more analagous to Enron than to GE. And to make matters much, much worse, SS is a compulsory system returning one of the lowest long term investment rates of any investment vehicle.
Fraudulent, compulsory, bad investment.
Let's fix it because it stinks, rather than quibble over projections of productivity gains over decades.
I suppose the idea of personal ownership and choice is an ideological issue compared to collective ownership and compulsion. The ideological argument is unavoidable. Let's be honest about that. That's what elections are about, and that's why the fight is so bitter, as it ought to be.
Hummingbird Finally, my first hummingbirds. Saw them on a fire bush in Crystal Beach, FL. My rental's neighbor's yard is all xeriscaped, which is ugly to me but just fine with the little hummers. At first, I thought they were the biggest hornets I'd ever seen.
Flamingo! One of these dudes flew right over my house. I couldn't believe it. And please don't tell me it was a roseated spoonbill because it was a frickin' flamingo, dude! Huge and pink and right there above me. I was like so freaking out, you know?
Falcon! Don't see these guys too often. Wish we did. Bet the morning doves don't.
Black Skimmer These beauties are getting scarce, but one flew by yesterday at low tide on the hunt for minnows.
Dead sea turtle cool, but smelly
Reddish Egret These have been hanging out around the pool quite a bit lately. Must be a new group of adolesent birds -- the youngsters like to hunt where the water is clear, and it takes them a day to figure out there are not now and never will be fish in the swimming pool no matter how clear the water.
Brown Pelican I saw a flock of about 200 of these at Disappearing Island yesterday, just south of Anclote Island on the west coast of FL. Good to see such a large flock.
Wood Pecker They've developed a sudden interest in the orange tree, which just went into bloom.