Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Nickel Ain't Worth A Dime Anymore

Peggy Noonan in Opinion Journal agonizes that the US is doomed, bringing to mind Yogi Berra's observation above. She’s wrong, but reminds us that many of our so-called elites are poorly informed, decayed and technically ignorant . We just need to make sure that we continue to be none of the above.

She fears that US elites have given up trying to solve the world's problems, quoting Teddy Kennedy (uncle of the killer - my ellipsis):

'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age… Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' gets the strong impression Teddy Kennedy was not talking about his family but about . . . the whole ball of wax, the impossible nature of everything, the realities so daunting it seems the very system is off the tracks.

I can see three reasons why a smart person like Noonan is depressed, but none are valid.

False Information

The 16,000 or so in the lefty MSM promote a false world-view by concealing our strengths and victories, maximizing our weaknesses and failures, and concealing the awfulness of our enemies. This happens every hour of every day, and cumulatively saps the morale of the poorly informed. Here are two recent drips of poison, both designed to hide the advent of democracy in Iraq.

Condi The Demon

On being called out by Michelle Malkin, USA Today claimed a processing error. Actually they carefully hacked the image to give readers a negative view of Condi. Nobody who saw the image will read the USA Today retraction, so their poison got through.

Burned Bodies

All the media ran this story, claiming US troops desecrated of the dead rather than followed normal rules of hygiene. They did not report the
burning alive of an American civilian, hat tip LGF:

The mob grew more frenzied as the gunmen dragged the two surviving Americans from the cab of their bullet-ridden lorry and forced them to kneel on the street.

Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight. Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.

The MSM suppressed this because it would make Americans more likely to support harsh action against barbarians.

2. Decayed Elite

Brit elites became pessimistic after WW1, advocating pacifism and a withdrawal from colonies. With US help they avoided ending up in a Nazi terror-state, but did pull out of all their colonies, consigning millions to mass-murder by corrupt dictators. The south what is now called Zimbabwe was a big exporter of food under the Brits, now they starve.

From personal observation, many of the US elite have gone down the same path, notably the Universities and state-employed professionals. In 2003, an excellent way of stopping conversation at a Washington dinner party was to remark that you supported the Iraqi war. These people were Federal employees or otherwise lived off the Federal Government.

The good news is that the US has many other optimistic elites, and has not suffered the 1 million dead the Brits and their Empire did in WW1. The readers and writers of the conservative blogosphere are a good example of a healthy elite!

3. Technical Ignorance

Brit and American schooling is
not terrible, but not stellar. The problem is that their growing economies have encouraged smart kids to aim at lucrative jobs such as law or finance, rather science and engineering.

So many of our elites are technically ignorant. Which is a shame, because without some basic grounding in statistics, games theory, information theory, physics, chemistry and engineering, they have no conception of how the simplest things in our societies work – the supply chain to their local supermarket for example.

This leaves them open to “doom manias” – global warming, bird flu, DDT poison etc. They feel helpless in the face of nature, and become pessimistic

From an engineering perspective, these problems are quite soluble, for example:
- Oceans full of trash? Sweep them, the way we do our streets!
- Too much CO2? Extract and calcify it!
- Nuke threats? Build BMD!

So the good news is that the US and UK still have plenty of smart engineers and face no environmental problems that can’t be fixed.

Bottom line, the world will go on getting cleaner, richer, safer and more complex. We just need to educate our ourselves to deal with it.