ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our Future

Our future appears to be inescapably moving towards becoming a very real version of Logan's Run.

This article in the UK's Daily Mail is disturbing if it's indicative of a trend:

Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly
By NATASHA COURTENAY-SMITH and MORAG TURNER
Last updated at 22:05pm on 21st November 2007

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time.

He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery.

Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way.

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.

While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal.

"Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35.

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future.

It's an extreme stance which one might imagine is born from an unhappy childhood or an upbringing among parents who share similar, strong beliefs.

[...]
"We both passionately wanted to save the planet - not produce a new life which would only add to the problem."

So, instead of mapping out plans for a family, Toni and her husband began discussing medical options to ensure they would never reproduce.

Toni, from Taunton, Somerset, says: "When I was 21, I considered sterilisation for the first time.

"I'd been on the Pill for five years and didn't want to take hormone-based contraception indefinitely.

"I went to my GP, but she wouldn't even consider the idea.

"She said I was far too young and told me I could 'absolutely not' be sterilised, and that I was bound to change my mind one day.

"I found her attitude frustrating.

"We decided my husband would have a vasectomy instead. He was 25, just a few years older than me, but the GP allowed him to go ahead.

"I found it insulting that she thought that, just because I was a woman, I'd reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought."

When Toni was 23, her marriage ended. She says: "We married very young and grew apart."

Toni found herself young, single and with a new life in London, working for an environmental charity.

But while other young women dream of marriage and babies, Toni was convinced it was her duty not to have a child.

She claims she was far from alone.

"Through my job I made many friends who, like me, were more interested in campaigning, trying to change society and save the planet rather than having families of our own.

"We used to say that if ever we did want children, we'd adopt, as there are so many children in need of a loving family.

"At least then, we'd be doing something positive for the world, rather than something negative."

Toni was happy, at last, with fellow environmentalists who shared her philosophy. But when she was 25, disaster struck.

"I discovered that despite taking the Pill, I'd accidentally fallen pregnant by my boyfriend.

"I was horrified. I knew straight away there was no option of having the baby.

"I went to my doctor about having a termination, and asked if I could be sterilised at the same time.

"This time it was a male doctor. I remember saying to him: 'I want to make sure this never happens again.'

"He said: 'You may not want a child, but one day you may meet a man who does'. He refused to consider it.

"I didn't like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.

"I've never felt a twinge of guilt about what I did, and have honestly never wondered what might have been.

"After my abortion, I was more determined than ever to pursue sterilisation.

"By then, I had my mother's support - she realised I wasn't going to grow out of my beliefs, and was proud of my campaigning work."

At the age of 27, Toni moved to Brighton, where her dream of medical intervention was realised.

Toni says: "My new GP was more forward-thinking and referred me to hospital. I couldn't wait for the operation."

As Toni awaited the surgery which would destroy her fertility, she met her future husband, Ed, 38, an IT consultant.

"A week before my sterilisation, I went to an animal rights demonstration and met Ed.

"I liked him immediately, and I told him what I was doing straight away - because if he wanted children then he needed to know I wasn't the woman for him," she says.

"But Ed was relieved when I told him how I felt and said he didn't want children for the same reasons."

On the morning of surgery, Ed gave Toni a card saying "Congratulations".

Toni says: "After the operation, which is irreversible, I didn't feel emotional - just relieved.

"I've never doubted that I made the right decision. Ed and I married in September 2002, and have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children.

"We love walking and hiking, and we often go away for weekends.

"Every year, we also take a nice holiday - we've just come back from South Africa.

"We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless, thereby greatly reducing our carbon footprint and combating over-population.

So, the not-having-children schtick is just to reduce their guilt when they jump on a jumbo jet for a holiday.

Well, we would've had children, but since we're not, we can increase our "carbon footprint."

Vicar - I've fed homeless man last night, so I'm off to see the prostitute... see ya later!
"My only frustration is that other people are unable to accept my decision.

"When I tell people why I don't want children, they look at me as if I was planning to commit murder.

Hopefully there aren't too many more like you, because it'll be suicide for our civilization.
"A woman who does not have maternal-feelings is seen as some sort of anomaly.

"And a woman like me, who is not having children in order to save the planet, is considered barking mad.

"What I consider mad are those women who ferry their children short distances in gas-guzzling cars."

But Toni is far from alone.

When Sarah Irving, 31, was a teenager she sat down and wrote a wish-list for the future.

Sarah Irving and Mark Hudson were adamant they would live the greenest possible lives

Move to the Kalahari and become bushmen then.

Please.
Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child.

"I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."

Sarah's boyfriends have been less understanding than Toni's, with the breakdown of several relationships.

"I've had boyfriends who wanted children, so I knew I couldn't be with them long term,' says Sarah.
[...]
Sarah started work for the Ethical Consumer magazine, and seven years ago she met her fiancé Mark Hudson, a 37-year- old health-care worker.

When they started dating in 2003, they immediately discussed their views on children.

"To my relief, Mark was as adamant as me that he didn't want a family. After a year of dating, we started talking about sterilisation," says Sarah.

"I didn't want to have an 'accident' if contraception didn't work - we would be faced with the dilemma of whether to keep the baby."

While other young couples sit down and discuss mortgages, Sarah and Mark discussed the medical options for one or the other to be sterilised.

"We realised it was a much more straightforward procedure, safer and easier, for a man to be sterilised through a vasectomy than a woman to be sterilised," says Sarah.

"In January 2005, Mark had a vasectomy and we both felt incredibly relieved there was no chance of us having a baby."

Ironically, the couple who have decided to deny themselves children for the sake of the planet, actively enjoy the company of young children.

Sarah says: "We both have nieces who we love dearly and I consider myself a caring, nurturing person.

What? You don't see them as the little urchins who are consuming all of the Earth's resources?
"My sister recently had a little girl, and that has taken the pressure off me because my parents wanted to be grandparents.

"At first, they were surprised by my decision, but they have never criticised us.

"I'd never dream of preaching to others about having a family. It's a very personal choice. What I do like to do is make people aware of the facts.

"When I see a mother with a large family, I don't resent her, but I do hope she's thought through the implications."

Have you thought through the implications of your choice? globally? locally?
Mark adds: "Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don't have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly.

"We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food.

"In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child.

We're saints in the Church of Algore!
"That's why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth.

"Sarah and I don't need children to feel complete. What makes us happy is knowing that we are doing our bit to save our precious planet."

They have no idea what they're talking about.

This lunacy, combined with the No Impact movement, will surely doom us.

If you don't want to have kids because you're "not a kid person" or because you don't think it's the right time, then fine. But to not have a child because you fear the impact it will have on the Earth is just ridiculous! If you think that those living a poor, brutal, and environmentally unfriendly life of subsistence will change their reproductive habits, you're an idiot.

The tagline on Logan's Run - Welcome to the 23rd Century: A perfect world of total pleasure, With just one catch...

The only thing you can't have in Logan's world is your 30th birthday. Unless you run away.


We may not have to wait until the 23rd century after all...

I know that Mark Steyn will see this and skewer this article... will update once it's out.

*** UPDATE ***
Don Surber, Michelle Malkin and Allah at HotAir are covering this story as well.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

The Party of the Rich

Great article at the Washington Times discussing how the Dems are increasingly becoming the party of the rich. I recently commented on a YouTube video of Jim Cramer, the CNBC Mad Money stock guy, telling the viewers that Cramer is not some right wing guy, but an openly liberal guy. (He often recommends that people donate their profits off of Halliburton or Exxon to environmentalist groups, political parties, etc.)

Well, it turns out that a district by district analysis, as well as this year's campaign contributions, are all pointing to the fact that the Dems are actually the party of the rich:

Democrats party of rich, study finds
November 23, 2007

By Donald Lambro - Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional districts.

In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.

He also found that more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats hold both Senate seats.

"If you take the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, we found that the Democrats represent about 58 percent of those jurisdictions," Mr. Franc said.

A key measure of each district's wealth was the number of single-filer taxpayers earning more than $100,000 a year and married couples filing jointly who earn more than $200,000 annually, he said.

But in a broader measurement, the study also showed that of the 167 House districts where the median annual income was higher than the national median of $48,201, a slight majority, 84 districts, were represented by Democrats. Median means that half of all income earners make more than that level and half make less.

Mr. Franc's study also showed that contrary to the Democrats' tendency to define Republicans as the party of the rich, "the vast majority of unabashed conservative House members hail from profoundly middle-income districts."

"I just found the pattern across the board to be very interesting. That pattern shows the likelihood of electing a Democrat to the House is very closely correlated with how many wealthy households are in that district," Mr. Franc said in an interview with The Washington Times.

The shift in the number of wealthier Democratic districts got a significant bounce in the last election.

"A fair number of these districts are represented by freshmen, a lot of the guys who got elected in 2006," he said.

"The demographic reality is that the Democratic Party is the new 'party of the rich.' More and more Democrats represent areas with a high concentration of wealthy households," he wrote on Nov. 5 in the Financial Times of London, in a preview of his study.

In addition, the current Senate tax debate provides an example of how the Democrats' rich constituents are influencing their agenda and have divided House and Senate Democrats.

In the House, for example, Democrats have made elimination of the alternative minimum tax, known as the AMT, the centerpiece of a sweeping tax-revision plan crafted by Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The AMT law was passed by the Democratic Congress in 1969 to make sure that wealthy taxpayers — some of whom were able to use tax breaks to avoid paying anything — paid at least some taxes.

Over the years, as many middle-class incomes rose, people were increasingly being pushed into higher tax brackets once reserved for only the richest Americans. The largest portion of these taxpayers live predominantly in Northeastern "blue" states dominated by Democrats, who, inundated by constituent complaints, soon began joining their Republican counterparts in pushing to eliminate the AMT.

But the strongest manifestation of the influence that the Democrats' wealthiest constituencies are wielding over party policy came earlier this month as Democratic leaders were considering a proposal to offset revenue losses from AMT repeal by raising taxes on hedge-fund managers, many of whom are major contributors to the Democratic Party.

A "stopgap" bill authored by Mr. Rangel to tax hedge-fund compensation at 35 percent as regular income rather than the current 15 percent capital-gains rate, which passed the House Nov. 9, appears to be going nowhere with Senate Democrats.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has raised tens of millions of dollars from Wall Street financiers and hedge-fund managers, opposes Mr. Rangel's plan. Earlier this month, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee, said the tax increase was a bad idea and could not pass the Senate.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, also has said he wants a stand-alone fix for the AMT without an offsetting tax increase, fearing that any vote to raise taxes now will hurt vulnerable Democrats in next year's elections. More moderate Blue Dog Democrats in the House have also been among the critics of the tax increase.

Some Democrats acknowledge that moneyed interests are exerting a strong influence on their party's agenda and legislation.

"The fact is that [the Democratic campaign committees] have had large contributions from these hedge-fund folks," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal think tank.

"As far as the hedge funds and tax breaks go, the Democrats are clearly getting a lot of money from people who are affected by that, and they're responding," Mr. Baker said.

Mr. Franc thinks this turnabout by Democrats, whose campaign mantra has long been to tax the rich more, is only the beginning.

"Increasingly, we will see Democrats responding to the economic demands of this particular upper-income constituency," he said.

"What the data suggests is that there will be a natural limit to how far and how much the Democrats can sock it to the rich, because in doing so, it means they will have to sock it to their own constituents," Mr. Franc said.

And this is a truly terrible combination. Populist rhetoric, aimed to make the masses salivate, combined with behind the scenes influence peddling of billionaire hucksters like Soros and the millionaires on Wall Street only means that we'll all be fleeced and told it's all for our own good.

Oh, wait... we've been given that message for decades.

*** UPDATE ***
Some idiotic analysis from a "progressive" on this story:
[...]
That the Democratic districts are doing better than the median would suggest that Democrats are better at enacting social programs on the local and state level that keep their constituents out of poverty, while the GOP enacts multiple tax cuts for the filthy rich balanced on the backs of the poor in their own districts. In other words Democrats share while the GOP just doesn't care.
[...]

While I do admit that the study likely skews the fact that many of the Dems come from wealthy parts of the country (e.g. New York City, Malibu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc), I find it ridiculous to suggest that Democrat policies have kept their constituents out of poverty and elevated the average income. I mean, we all know that there are no poor in San Fran, right?

The blogger also fails to note that the campaign contributions that are rolling into Dem coffers is not from the little guys, but from well-heeled billionaires like Soros, private equity firms, etc.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful that we've made it this long with some semblance of a free market system. I pray that we come to our senses and restore our economy to free market principles. I won't hold my breath.

Stossel on the First Thanksgiving:

The Tragedy of the Commons
By John Stossel
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. "Isn't sharing wonderful?" say the teachers.

They miss the point.

Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.

Why? When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. Some ate rats, dogs, horses and cats. This went on for two years.

"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, [I] (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

The people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. "

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.

What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. But the problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."

When action is divorced from consequences, no one is happy with the ultimate outcome. If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty and will not be refilled -- a bad situation even for the earlier takers.

What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know that their future products are safe from confiscation, they will take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

That's the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.

Are we doomed to repeat the Pilgrim's initial mistake?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler