Thomas Sowell Calls Them “The Anointed”

I ran across an interesting essay today.  Published at, it’s entitled Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays. Excerpt:

Complex human societies, including our own, are fragile. They are held together by an invisible web of mutual trust and social cooperation. This web can fray easily, resulting in a wave of political instability, internal conflict and, sometimes, outright social collapse.

Or, as the GeekWithA.45 put it some time back, “Entire societies can and have gone stark raving batshit fucking insane.”

How does growing economic inequality lead to political instability? Partly this correlation reflects a direct, causal connection. High inequality is corrosive of social cooperation and willingness to compromise, and waning cooperation means more discord and political infighting. Perhaps more important, economic inequality is also a symptom of deeper social changes, which have gone largely unnoticed.

Increasing inequality leads not only to the growth of top fortunes; it also results in greater numbers of wealth-holders. The “1 percent” becomes “2 percent.” Or even more. There are many more millionaires, multimillionaires and billionaires today compared with 30 years ago, as a proportion of the population.

Rich Americans tend to be more politically active than the rest of the population. They support candidates who share their views and values; they sometimes run for office themselves. Yet the supply of political offices has stayed flat (there are still 100 senators and 435 representatives — the same numbers as in 1970). In technical terms, such a situation is known as “elite overproduction.”

Please read the whole essay, it’s not long.

The gist of it is what Thomas Sowell observed back when he wrote Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulations as a Basis for Social Policy.  (OK, one more quote from the piece):

A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.

The “elite” and “elite-wannabes” are what Sowell refers to as “the Anointed.” They’re better than the rest of us because they went to the right schools and know the right people. As that quote from Sultan Knish in the header of this blog says, they 

…see themselves as the individuals who have been ‘liberated’ to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it’s because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it’s because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem.

Eric Hoffer observed about such people, they end up as government bureaucrats, bunny inspectors – overeducated mid-level functionaries angry at their lot in life and willing to take it out on the “great unwashed” public. And “Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America.”  Listen to what he told Eric Sevareid:

The author of the piece doesn’t forecast systemic social collapse, but he does predict – well, one last excerpt:

We should expect many years of political turmoil, peaking in the 2020s. And because complex societies are much more fragile than we assume, there is a chance of a catastrophic failure of some kind, with a default on U.S. government bonds being among the less frightening possibilities.

Isn’t that cheerful news.

And now you understand why gun and ammo sales have been astronomical for the last five years.  “Less frightening,” indeed.

Gun Control News in Other Nations… (UPDATE)

We have the story of former Marine Jon Hammar who is currently rotting in a Mexican prison for, well, I’m not quite sure:

Nightmare in Mexico: Friends, family call for the release of ex-Marine jailed in Mexico after trying to declare an antique shotgun

Jon Hammar was en route to Costa Rica for a surfing trip when he cleared the gun with U.S. customs and was told he could do the same in Mexico. Four months later, he’s still behind bars in a notorious prison and is ‘losing hope.’

An ex-Marine who survived dangerous patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan is now “chained to a bed” in a notorious Mexican prison after a road trip to Costa Rica went terribly wrong, his friends and family say.

A chorus of supporters are calling on the Mexican government to release Jon Hammar, 27, who was jailed in August for carrying an antique shotgun that he believed could be legally registered in Mexico.

Hammar, of Palmetto Bay, Fla., was headed to Costa Rica for a surfing trip to try and recover from post-traumatic stress after four years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The only time Hammar is not losing his mind is when he’s on the water,” fellow Marine veteran Ian McDonough, who was arrested with Hammar during the August incident but later released by Mexican authorities, told McClatchy newspapers.

Hammar and McDonough had stocked up a used Winnebago with surfboards and camping supplies and had just crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Mexico, where they were detained.

Hammar had registered the shotgun, a Sear & Roebuck model that once belonged to his great-grandfather, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on the U.S. side of the border.

After being told by U.S. agents the shotgun posed no problem and could be reigstered in Mexico, Hammar and McDonough crossed the border, tried to declare the weapon, and found themselves separated and behind bars.

“The crux of it is the length of the barrel,” his mother, Olivia Hammar, 46, told Reuters. “There’s an old law on the books that says it can’t be under 25 inches…It’s a 2-foot barrel…It’s strictly a technicality.”

“It’s a glorified BB gun,” she said.

McDonough, who has Argentine residency in addition to his U.S. citizenship, was freed a few days after the Aug. 13 arrest and walked back to Brownsville.

But the nightmare was just beginning for Hammar, who on Aug. 20 was charged with carrying a deadly weapon and placed in a prison known as CEDES in Matamoros, a notorious facility heavily populated, and run, by Mexico’s dangerous drug cartels.

His parents have even received late night phone calls saying he would be killed if they failed to make thousands of dollars in payments into a Western Union account.

“He was housed in a wing controlled by the drug cartel,” said Eddie Varon-Levy, a Mexican lawyer hired by the family. He told Reuters the charges in Mexico appear to be an effort to “make an example out of the gringo.”

Read the whole thing.

This is what happens when you don’t grok that Mexico doesn’t allow its law-abiding citizens access too much firepower, and certainly makes it difficult for foreigners to bring in firearms.

In better times the U.S. government would simply inform the Mexican government that unless this Marine was released and returned to the States, a Marine detachment would be dispatched to bring him back, and that detachment would have artillery and close-air support.

UPDATE: It’s not a Marine Expeditionary Force, but you can sign a petition urging Jon Hammar’s release.

UPDATE: 12/21/12 – Hammar is being released.

I Just Wanted to Repost This

I first posted it as a Quote of the Day in September of 2008. Time for it again.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

by Rudyard Kipling – October, 1919

I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshiped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

Stupid Human Tricks

So you steal a gun from a museum, and then go on a national TV show and get videotaped getting it appraised?

Jim Gordon, who owns a private museum east of Santa Fe, had given up hope of ever again seeing a 1849 .44-caliber Colt Dragoon revolver stolen from his collection last year.

And then the man accused of stealing it during a tour of the Glorieta museum appeared on a nationally televised program about antique guns, trying to get the weapon appraised, according to court documents.

That episode of the Discovery Channel’s “American Guns” was seen by Jeff Hengesbaugh, the museum’s curator, who was channel surfing in a Gallup hotel when he came across the show in February.

About one year after the theft and after Hengesbaugh attempted to get the gun returned without calling the police, there was suspect Wylie Gene Newton, 65, on television, talking about the $40,000 antique.

The curator then called the cops.

Police detectives in Wheat Ridge, Colo. – where the Discovery Channel show is filmed at the Gunsmoke Guns store – later went undercover and offered to meet with Newton to buy the gun. Newton allegedly bit and was arrested by police on May 10. Newton is identified in Colorado reports as from Erie, Colo., but has an Eldorado address, too, according to New Mexico court documents.

Newton was booked into the Santa Fe County jail on a $40,000 bond Aug. 5. He had his arraignment in state District Court on Friday and will have a bond hearing at 1 p.m. Monday.

He faces a single charge of larceny in excess of $20,000, which is a second-degree felony, according to online court records.

Here’s my favorite part, though:

Gordon said Newton called him about a month ago and started talking about the weather. Gordon said he tried to remain patient until Newton got to the point, and Newton eventually said he didn’t steal Gordon’s weapon.

Gordon said Newton asked him if he thought he was stupid enough to appear on national television trying to appraise a stolen firearm.

” ‘I absolutely do,’ ” Gordon said he told Newton in response. ” ‘I think you’re totally, completely that stupid.’ “

I’d have to concur.

In a Related Story…

David Codrea of The War On Guns has a now long-running theme of “The Only Ones,” having to do with police officers or other government employees doing things with guns that ought not be done. This goes back to the incident where undercover DEA officer Lee Paige, during a “gun safety” demonstration before a room full of kids and their parents, uttered the immortal phrase, “I’m the only one in this room professional enough, that I know of, to carry this Glock .40.”

Right before he shot himself in the thigh with it.

On video. Which was then posted to the internet.

Well, in researching Scaaaary Numbers!, I found another classic case:

Officers Released From Hospital After Accidental Shooting In The Bronx

Two of the four police officers involved in a friendly fire incident in the Bronx Sunday morning have been released from the hospital.

The officers were called to Concord Avenue and ran into Cookie the pit bull after a teenager they were chasing ran into a nearby apartment.

Police say the dog attacked the officer and at least one of the cops opened fire, killing the dog. In the confusion, 3 of the 4 officers were also shot. The other was bitten by the dog. None of the injuries was considered life threatening.

Lenin Acevedo, 17, later turned himself in. He’s charged with trespassing and criminal possession of marijuana.

The two other officers are listed in stable condition.

I have to assume that the one cop who didn’t catch a round was probably the only one firing.

Wildly. While being bitten by the dog.

Hell, he might have shot himself. Who knows?

It’s a good thing cops go through all that rigorous training so that we can trust them with all that firepower, isn’t it? Like the LA Sheriff’s Deputies that fired 120+ rounds at a suspect and managed only to wound him. And another Deputy. Or the cops who fired 28 rounds at Thomas Martin McGouey.

It wasn’t fair, though.

He’d painted a bullseye on his bare chest.

But one round did graze his shoulder! No police officers were injured during this shooting, at least. McGouey blames credits God.

Apparently he doesn’t follow this kind of stuff.

Edited to add: Dammit, David beat me to it!

The Definitive Micah Wright Post

Via Michele

Kevin Parrot details his personal history with the lying Mr. Wright, with illustrations. Like this one:

Read the whole thing, but here’s the kicker:

So, what’s going to happen to Micah Wright now, you ask?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

As a matter of fact, I think Micah Wright will end up getting more work and making more money off his lies than before they were discovered.

And that’s the second reason I almost didn’t write this. I have the feeling Micah Wright already knows what I just stated, and is eating up every minute of what’s been going on. Micah wins.

Oh, sure, his new book of remixed WWII posters has been cancelled (for now), but no one I’ve read on the Net seems to have picked up on the hidden message in this sentence from the Seven Stories website:

The author’s introduction will be removed from any future printings of YOU BACK THE ATTACK.

and again, from the Washington Post article which exposed him:

It also will remove from future printings of the first book his detailed and wholly fictional account of parachuting into Panama under fire during Operation Just Cause.

Instead of leaving in the lie, and providing some extra editorial commentary to place the incident in proper context, they’re going to make it disappear. Just like it never happened at all.

Everyone loves and rewards a liar, it seems. Jayson Blair got a book contract; Stephen Glass got a book contract and ended up being played by Young Darth Vader on the silver screen. What will Micah get? Well, I’d be very surprised if one of the comic companies out there hadn’t already contacted him about writing a Graphic Novel or a Mini Series based on this event

Micah Wright passed himself off as an ex-Ranger, an organization built around the concepts of honor, duty, country.

Our nation seems no longer to recognize the ideal of honor, in its definition of “a keen sense of ethical conduct.” There is no public censure of dishonorable acts. The concept of shame is nonexistent. Bad behavior is rewarded. Infamy is equivalent to fame. Disgrace is treated as grace. Do something objectionable? That draws attention, and attention draws dollars. Besides, its always someone else’s fault, anyway. Victimizer as victim.

Moral equivalence at its worst.