This is My Shocked Face

So a writer at Alternet gives a litany of woe for post-Katrina New Orleans, and picks it up.  Excerpt:

35. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority reported that 62 percent of pre-Katrina service has been restored. But Ride New Orleans, a transit rider organization, says streetcar rides targeted at tourists are fully restored, but bus service for regular people is way down, still only at 35 percent of what it was before Katrina. That may explain why there has been a big dip in the number of people using public transportation in New Orleans, down from 13 percent in 2000 to 9 percent now.

44. Over two of every five children in New Orleans lives in poverty — about double the national rate. The current rate of 44 percent is up 3 percentage points from 1999 and up 12 points from 2007. Overall, there are 50,000 fewer children under the age of 18 living in New Orleans than there were in 2000. In 2000 there were 129,408, and the latest numbers have dropped to 79,432 according to the census figures reported by the Data Center.

50. Since Katrina, home values have risen 54 percent and rent is up 50 percent. The annual household income needed to afford rent in New Orleans is $38,000, but 71 percent of workers earn on average $35,000. The average yearly income for service workers is $23,000 and only $10,000 for musicians. New Orleans has only 47 affordable rental units for every 100 low-income residents. Thirty-seven percent of households in the city are paying half of their income for housing, which is much higher than recommended. Thirty-six percent of renters pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing, up from 24 percent in 2004. The New Orleans metro area ranks second in the top 10 worst metro areas for cash-strapped renters, according to the Make Room Initiative. Government leaders bulldozed over 3,000 apartments of occupied public housing right after Katrina but now say there is a critical immediate need for at least 5,000 affordable low-income apartments.

It goes on like this for twelve more paragraphs before concluding:

But $76 billion came to Louisiana because of Katrina. This information makes it clear who did not get the money.

If you read the article, you’ll note that he doesn’t even suggest where all that money might have gone.


Quote of the Day: Adaptive Curmudgeon Edition

Firehand tagged me over at Bookface, pointing me at this piece by Adaptive Curmudgeon, Thoughts On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting in the Modern Age.” Said Z-Man post is here.

I wish I’d written Adaptive Curmudgeon’s post. Excerpt (but by all means, read the whole thing):

My big observation of the “Hillary’s private server with State secrets affair” wasn’t about the press. It was about the people; or rather roughly half of the people. A moment passed that felt colder and more unsettling than the usual “they’ve fucked us again” situation.

Think about it like this; the FBI infuriated half the electorate and that half… did nothing. Yet it wasn’t a moment of defeat. It wasn’t a wail of despair, not gloom, not anger, not resignation, not desperation. It was a subdued tone of quiet finality. An acceptance that corruption is so deep that no one, nobody at all, can pretend otherwise.

Go. Read.

Bending at the Knee

Author Terry Pratchet wrote in his Discworld novel Feet of Clay,

Royalty was like dandelions. No matter how many heads you chopped off, the roots were still there underground, waiting to spring up again.

It seemed to be a chronic disease. It was as if even the most intelligent person had this little blank spot in their heads where someone had written: “Kings. What a good idea.” Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.

In 2005 when former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan published her column “A Separate Peace” (which inspired my post Tough History Coming), she was pilloried for her seemingly fawning dependence on “elites” to get us out of the mess we were in (and still are.) Specifically this passage:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they’re living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they’re going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley’s off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, “I got mine, you get yours.”

Just the other day Ms. Noonan penned another column along the same lines, “How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen“. An excerpt:

Affluence detaches, power adds distance to experience. I don’t have it fully right in my mind but something big is happening here with this division between the leaders and the led. It is very much a feature of our age. But it is odd that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.

I don’t think that’s it at all, really. The surprising thing is that for a couple of hundred years the “elite” did feel that way. The peasants never meant much to the Ruling Class until it became apparent that the peasants could object and make their objections hurt. Then and only then did the hoi polloi gain any real political power, and as Mao observed, that political power grew out of the barrel of a gun.  That “grounded respect” came from the only place that matters to those with power.  (See my 2004 essay Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them.)

The thing I found most interesting in comparing these two articles was the subtitles.  The subtitle to “A Separate Peace” was:

America is in trouble–and our elites are merely resigned.
The subtitle to “Global Elites” was:

Those in power see people at the bottom as aliens whose bizarre emotions they must try to manage.
After ten years she’s made some progress in figuring out the issue. Our elites disdain us at best, hate us at worst. But she’s far behind Mark Steyn who observed as far back as 2005:

My favourite headline last week was in the International Herald Tribune: “EU leaders and voters see paths diverge.” Traditionally in free societies, when the paths of the leaders and the voters “diverge”, it’s the leaders who depart the scene. But apparently in the EU this is too vulgar and “Anglo-Saxon”, and so the great permanent Eurocracy decided instead to offer up Euro-variations on Bertolt Brecht’s jest about the need to elect a new people.

The UK’s embrace of Brexit, the Democrat electorate’s embrace of Bernie Sanders, the Republican electorate’s embrace of Donald Trump, et cetera, ad nauseam, just proves to them that the Great Unwashed cannot be let near the levers of power – for our own good, you understand.

We should all bend a knee. And LIKE it.



OK, this one was new to me.  Not exactly the same scene from the film Downfall we’re used to seeing:


More Truth in Fiction

I’m currently reading The Far Arena by Richard Ben Sapir, the story of Roman gladiator Lucius Aurelius Eugenianus, frozen in a glacier for 1900 years who is brought back to life.  Pretty good book.  But here’s the quote, from the gladiator to the people he’s dealing with – the Russian doctor who revived him, the America petroleum geologist who dug him up, and the Norwegian Catholic nun who provides translations for his ancient Latin.  The gladiator has killed someone, and his keepers are trying to figure out what to do about it.  The nun suggests that they should go to “the authorities.”  Eugeni responds:

“The authorities? The authorities?” I laughed. “Why is it people think the authorities are some form of gods with either great justice or great, cunning evil, rather than the same plodding fools they see in their daily lives, and most of all in their mirrors?”

And just a bit later:

“The purpose of an authority is to remain an authority, not dispense justice.”

As I said, pretty good book.

Civilizational Suicide

Over on Facebook, Firehand linked to an excellent essay by Patrick Deneen, “David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.”  Professor Deneen begins his piece How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture:

My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.

I would argue that many have been taught to actively hate their own culture, but the majority?  As Elie Wiesel once observed:

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

I strongly recommend you read Professor Deneen’s entire essay, but here’s the money shot:

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctable outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide.

(Bold emphasis mine.)  Which is why I’ve been saying for years that the only thing that can save education is to take off and nuke the current system from orbit until the rubble bounces.

But I’m pretty sure it’s too late for that.

The USP – University Shaped Place

Reader Bram left a comment to my last post, The “Education” System from a Primary Source with a link to a short piece by Fred Reed of “Fred on Everything” fame.  The title of this post comes from that piece, College Then and Now: Letter to a Bright Young Woman.  I urge you to read it in its entirety.

The only thing I would add to it is the observation that the public school system producing the incoming Freshmen has also declined dramatically since “The Sixties,” so that ten to twenty percent of college-prepared students is now probably less than 5% compared to a few decades ago.

The “Education” System from a Primary Source

If you’re interested in the current status of public education and what’s entering our colleges and universities today, spend an hour watching to this interview of Dr. Duke Pesta (Professor of English, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) by Stefan Molyneux:

Pay particular attention at 14:45.

I started giving quizzes to my juniors and seniors before I even passed out the attendance sheet the first day or the syllabus. I gave them a 10-question American history quiz and we started – even though I’m an English professor not an American historian – just to see where they are. And this has been true for seven consecutive years – the vast majority of my students, I’m talking like nine out of ten in every single class, 28, 29 out of 30 kids – they have no idea that slavery existed anywhere in the world before the United States. And I’ve got Christian kids, I’ve got Jewish kids. Moses, Pharoh, none of that. They have none of it. They are a hundred percent convinced that slavery is a uniquely American  invention and that with the Emancipation Proclamation slavery ended worldwide. They’re convinced of this. How do you give an adequate view of history and culture to kids when that’s what they think of their own country? That America invented slavery and and the whole Black Lives Matter movement, which is taught as absolute history in English classes and philosophy classes, in sociology classes and biology classes and race identity classes, that’s the new narrative, right?  That even though slavery ended in America it’s still with us in the way we oppressed minorities and so that’s all they know. They know nothing else.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?