Part of the problem?
It is not just in Iraq that the political left has an investment in failure. Domestically as well as internationally, the left has long had a vested interest in poverty and social malaise.
Whether it is successful black schools in the United States or Third World countries where millions of people have been rising out of poverty in recent years, the left has shown little interest.
Progress in general seems to hold little interest for people who call themselves “progressives”. What arouses them are denunciations of social failures and accusations of wrong-doing.
They have shown no such interest in how tens of millions of people in China and tens of millions of people in India have risen out of poverty within the past generation.
Despite whatever the left may say, or even believe, about their concern for the poor, their actual behaviour shows their interest in the poor to be greatest when the poor can be used as a focus of the left’s denunciations of society.
When the poor stop being poor, they lose the attention of the left.
– from Thomas Sowell, “Left failure: an investment in failure”, Townhall.com, August 21, 2007. URL: www.townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2007/08/21/an_investment_in_failure?page=full&comments=true
Environmental disaster looms in China
Official statements from China on September 26 … (have) described the effects of the much-lauded and just-completed Three Gorges Dam as a possible environmental “catastrophe”.
The worst news is about pollution. Immense quantities of waste … are poured into Chinese waterways every day. Much water in China is already so toxic that it cannot be used even for irrigation.
Furthermore, the weight of water in the four-hundred-mile-long reservoir created by the dam is causing landslides….
The decision to build the dam was made despotically by the highest party officials, against strong opposition and without serious consultation. More than a million people were displaced by its construction.
Now it turns out that China’s rulers have been not only despotic but also incompetent. The all-knowing Party has made an immense error with incalculable environmental and social consequences, and its leaders are clearly frightened.
None of their coping mechanisms can deal with it. The dam disaster cannot be arrested like a dissident, or imprisoned or executed; it cannot be censored away; it cannot be fixed with foreign help and half-measures. No order from the Politburo can halt the unfolding disaster. One thinks of the nuclear plant disaster at Chernobyl.
– from Arthur Waldron, “Trouble at Three Gorges”, Contentions, the Commentary (New York) blog, October 1, 2007. URL: www.commentarymagazine.com/contentions/index.php/waldron/1003
Religion and happiness
How do religious Americans compare to the secular when it comes to happiness? In 2004, the General Social Survey asked a sample of Americans, “Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?”
Religious people were more than twice as likely as the secular to say they were “very happy” (43% to 21%). Meanwhile, secular people were nearly three times as likely as the religious to say they were not too happy (21% to 8%). In the same survey, religious people were more than a third more likely than the secular to say they were optimistic about the future (34% to 24%).
The happiness gap between religious and secular people is not because of money or other personal characteristics. Imagine two people who are identical in every important way – income, education, age, sex, family status, race and political views. The only difference is that the first person is religious; the second is secular. The religious person will still be 21 percentage points more likely than the secular person to say that he or she is very happy.
Researchers have found similar results in other countries, suggesting that the connection between happiness and faith probably doesn’t depend on nationality….
What about the folks in the middle, who identify with a faith but practice inconsistently? They are generally happier than secular people, but not as happy as regular practitioners.
– from Arthur C. Brooks in Opinion Journal (The Wall Street Journal editorial page), September 30, 2007. URL: www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010672
Men of the West
We in the West will always need warriors. We must have chevaliers sans peur et sans reproche – “Knights without fear and without reproach” – to safeguard our marches and protect our homes.
Men such as Leonidas, whose Immortal 300 held off the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BC, long enough for other Greeks to rally and save the nascent West. Or Aetius, the last noble Roman, who defeated Attila the Hun, Scourge of God, at Chalons in AD 451. Or Don Juan of Austria, who led the Holy League to naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. Or Jon Sobieski, whose Polish cavalry rescued Vienna from the Turks in 1683.
These are not just legends, not just fictional characters – they were real. And if we dutifully honour those heroes, as heroic Men of the West and of Christendom, we will be rewarded with more such heroic men.
– from James P. Pinkerton, “The Once & Future Christendom: From death of the West – to knights of the West”, The American Conservative, September 10, 2007. URL: www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_09_10/cover.html