Archive for June 2nd, 2010

That’s my reaction to Robert Reich’s crazy idea to put the nation’s least competent people in charge of British Petroleum. I’m not a big fan of BP, especially since it oozes political correctness (just think of their stupid ads where they claim BP stands for “beyond petroleum”), but mangers and shareholders at the firm have a huge financial incentive to fix the problem. Giving politicians control of the company, by contrast, is a recipe for incompetence and bungling.

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Czech President Vaclav Klaus is one of the few European politicians to believe in the classical liberal ideals of individual freedom, personal responsibility, free markets, and small government. He has wisely warned about the European Union superstate being erected in Brussels is a dangerous mix of centralization, bureaucratization, and harmonization. The economic troubles in Europe show he has been right on the mark, of course, so we should all pay attention as he discusses the prospects for Europe in a column for the Wall Street Journal:

I have not rejoiced at the current problems in the euro zone because their consequences could be serious for all of us in Europe—for members and non-members of the euro zone, for its supporters and opponents. Even the enthusiastic propagandists of the euro suddenly speak about the potential collapse of the whole project now, and it is us critics who say we have to look at it in a more structured way. The term “collapse” has at least two meanings. The first is that the euro-zone project has not succeeded in delivering the positive effects that had been rightly or wrongly expected from it. It was mistakenly and irresponsibly presented as an indisputable economic benefit to all the countries willing to give up their own long-treasured currencies. Extensive studies published prior to the launch of the European single currency promised that the euro would help to accelerate economic growth and reduce inflation and stressed, in particular, that the member states of the euro zone would be protected against all kinds of external economic disruptions (the so-called exogenous shocks). This has not happened. After the establishment of the euro zone, the economic growth of its member states has slowed down compared to previous decades, increasing the gap between the rate of growth in the euro-zone countries and that in other major economies—such as the United States and China, smaller economies in Southeast Asia and other parts of the developing world, as well as Central and Eastern European countries that are not members of the euro zone. Economic growth in Europe has been slowing down since the 1960s, thanks to the increasingly damaging economic and social system which started dominating Europe at that time. The European “soziale Marktwirtschaft” is an unproductive variant of a welfare state, of state paternalism, of “leisure” society, of high taxes and low motivation to work. The existence of the euro has not reversed that trend. According to the European Central Bank, the average annual rate of growth in the euro-zone countries was 3.4% in the 1970s, 2.4% in the 1980s, 2.2% in the 1990s and only 1.1% from 2001 to 2009 (the decade of the euro). A similar slowdown has not occurred anywhere else in the world (speaking about “normal” countries, e.g. countries without wars or revolutions).

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Given the times we live in, it’s not unreasonable for a teacher to be concerned about a student drawing a picture showing the teacher being shot. But when the student is an autistic boy with the mental capacity of a third grader, perhaps it’s a tad bit of an overreaction to have the boy arrested and charged with making terroristic threats. I don’t have any proof, but I have a strong suspicion this kind of stupidity is more likely to happen in government schools with unionized teachers:

A 14-year-old autistic boy was suspended and charged with a felony over a picture he drew in school, MyFoxAtlanta reports. The boy’s mother said he was in a special needs class when he drew a picture of two stick figures, one of which was holding a gun. The eighth grader’s picture depicted a stick figure with a gun that was labeled “me.” The figure was shooting another figure that had his teacher’s name above it. The boy has been suspended and is now facing criminal charges. “They’ve pressed felony charges for terroristic threats,” said the teen’s mother, Karen Finn. “It’s that sweeping zero tolerance, and I think it’s ridiculous.” Finn said her son, Shane, drew the picture on the page of a school assignment where his teacher would easily see it. She said her son is autistic and has the mental capacity of a third grader, and he doesn’t really understand why he’s in trouble.

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