AS THE WORLD TURNS News Weekly
, February 18, 2012
The family torn apart
The amazing thing about the last 30 years is the collective self-delusion in the US. You cannot keep borrowing money if your ability to pay it back — i.e., your real wage — isn’t going up. You don’t need a PhD in economics to understand this.
So the current crisis really began in the 1970s, when the wages stopped rising, but its effects were postponed for a generation by debt. By 2007, however, the American working class had accumulated a level of debt that was unsustainable. People could not make the payments. They were exhausted: exhausted financially, exhausted physically by all that work, and exhausted psychologically because the family had been torn apart by everyone working.
Stay-at-home parents hold families together. When you move everyone into the workplace, tensions in the family become unmanageable. You can see evidence of this in popular culture. The sitcoms of the 1960s showed happy middle-class families, but many sitcoms today show struggling families.
Americans are 5 per cent of the world’s population, but we consume 65 per cent of the world’s psychotropic drugs, tranquilisers, and mood enhancers. We are a people under unbelievable stress.
Extract from economist Richard Wolff, interviewed by David Barsamian, “Capitalism and its discontents: Richard Wolff on what went wrong”, The Sun monthly magazine (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Issue 434, February 2012, pp.4-13.
The court that broke New Jersey
For half a century now, New Jersey has been home to the most activist state appellate court in America. Lauded by proponents of “living” constitutions who urge courts to make policy instead of interpret the law as written, the New Jersey Supreme Court has profoundly transformed the Garden State by seizing control of school funding, hijacking zoning powers from towns and cities to increase subsidised housing, and nullifying taxpayer protections in the state constitution.
Its undemocratic actions have blown apart the state’s finances and led to ill-conceived and ineffective policies. If you want to understand what rule by liberal judges looks like on the state level, you need only look at New Jersey, which is teetering on bankruptcy though it remains one of America’s wealthiest states….
Jerseyites have slowly come to understand the price that they’ve paid for America’s most activist court. A 2009 survey by the Polling Company, Inc. found that only 28 per cent of the state’s voters gave the court a favourable rating.
“If the members of the Supreme Court want to legislate, then they have the right, like every other citizen, to run for the Legislature,” state senator Mike Doherty wrote in an op-ed for Newark’s Star-Ledger last May. “In doing so, they can place their agenda before the voters and the voters will decide. That’s democracy. What we have now is judicial tyranny.”
One thing is clear: somehow, New Jersey needs to rein in its judiciary if it hopes to get its house in order. The state will never be able to solve its fiscal problems until its highest court sticks to interpreting the law, not inventing it.
Extract from Steven Malanga, “The court that broke Jersey”, City Journal (New York), vol. 22, No. 1, Winter 2012.
BBC tells its staff: don’t call Qatada extremist
The BBC has told its journalists not to call Abu Qatada, the al-Qaeda preacher, an “extremist”. In order to avoid making a “value judgment”, the corporation’s managers have ruled that he can only be described as “radical”.
A judge ruled this week that the Muslim preacher, once described as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe”, should be released from a British jail, angering ministers and MPs.
A British court has called Qatada a “truly dangerous individual” and even his defence team has suggested he poses a “grave risk” to national security.
The BBC guidance was criticised by experts and MPs. Maajid Nawaz of Quilliam, a counter-extremist think tank, accused the BBC of “liberal paralysis” over Islamic extremism, saying journalists must be honest about Qatada’s record.
Extract from Neil Midgley and James Kirkup, “BBC tells its staff: don’t call Qatada extremist”, The Telegraph (UK), February 7, 2012.
Ex-Muslim’s defence of Western civilisation
Ibn Warraq is the pen name of a Muslim apostate who left his native Pakistan and now lives in the United States. His first book, Why I Am Not a Muslim, earned him death threats and a pseudonym….
[In his new book, Why the West is Best] Warraq recognises that Western civilisation is threatened not just by external rivals, but also by self-loathing Western ideologies such as multiculturalism and the “promiscuous pluralism that ends in moral relativism”. These ideas go beyond self-reflection to justify “special accommodations” for minorities (like Muslim immigrants) that contradict values such as personal freedom and equality before the law.
Warraq advises us to stop appeasing our enemies, do a better job of translating into Arabic and other Muslim tongues Western books that define our core values, and return to teaching our children an accurate history of the West.
We should not be surprised that it takes an immigrant from a country sorely lacking in the social, intellectual and political goods Warraq discusses to document the glories of the West. Why the West is Best is a timely, passionate reminder of how fortunate we are, and how fragile is our good fortune.
Extract from Bruce S. Thornton, “Culture matters”, City Journal (New York), February 3, 2012.