A Note On Unemployment and other things

U. S. unemployment has been around or above 9% for just about the entire Obama presidency.  This is not surprising, given his policies, which, since businesses don't know the long-term affects of them, are hesitant to hire new workers.  Americans are understandably concerned about the 9+% unemployment figure, but the European welfare states have been having this kind of number for years--mainly with policies that are largely being followed by the Obama administration now.

And, at one time in American history, it was actually worse--the Great Depression.  During the 1930s, the unemployment rate never went below double-digits, and was frequently higher than 20%.  Franklin Roosevelt, using policies very similar to Obama's, was unable to lower the unemployment rate with any consistency.  By 1937, during FDR's second term, the figure was above 20% again.

He got away with it politically by blaming his predecessor.

A little about Chinese economics.  I received my meal card today, so I was able to eat at the cafeteria for the first time--more of a food court, as somebody had told me.  The menus were all in Chinese, of course, but there were pictures.  I still didn't know what anything was, but a nice chef came out and showed me a picture of something that looked like fried rice.  Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  He told me it was only 8 yuan (with a bowl of soup); that's a little over $1.  When my order came, the meal was huge; I could barely eat half of it, and it was delicious.  So, next time you go to a Chinese restaurant and order fried rice, tell them you have a friend (or relative) in China that only pays a buck for it....

Oh, and the ice cream cone I got for dessert was 30 cents.

I just read that baseball player Barry Bonds will be sentenced in December for obstruction of justice.  He was convicted in April...but won't be sentenced until December??  They're going to let this criminal walk around for another four months.  I confess, I don't understand.  Why don't they just send the sheriff to his house with a letter from the judge--"you're going to jail for 50 years, buddy, hop in the car." 

Why do bureaucrats have to make everything difficult that ought to be so simple?

Hopeless, folks...

Current Event Ramblings, August 30

George W. Bush, as we all know, was reckless in his deficit spending.  It was horrible and irresponsible how huge government deficits were in his administration.  For example, in 2007, the deficit was $160 billion.  Terrible.

In 2007, according to Congression Budget Office estimates, the deficit will be $1.399 trillion.

It's all George Bush's fault, of course.

Al Gore said that anybody who opposes global warming is racist.

There's hope for me yet.  A New York Times story this weekend asked Should Ugly People Get Affirmative Action?  Apparently, some economist wrote a book entitled, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful.  From the Times story:  "Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ugly people could be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination. We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly."  There must be more ugly liberals than there are ugly conservatives or the Times would never have suggested this.

From the U.K. Guardian:   A NASA-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University said that,"while considered unlikely, [one future scenaro that] could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future. Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA's Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity 'prepare for actual contact.' In their report, "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity?" [they suggest that] watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain."

So, because of global warming, aliens from outer space may come and save the earth.  Or wipe us out.

Isn't that comforting?

Chinese Cuisine

It should come as no surprise to any reader that Chinese food in China is somewhat different from Chinese food in America.  I've been here almost a month now, and I haven't had one grain of rice yet, though I hope to rectify that in the near future.  The college has a cafeteria (several, I'm told, but a big one right next to our classroom building).  It's not actually a cafeteria, it's more of a food court.  That's what I was told, I haven't been there yet, because it only opened about a week ago (for school) and you have to have a card to eat there, which I'm in the process of getting.  The problem is, I don't know what anything is.  If I go to a restaurant, the menu is in Chinese, so I can't read it, of course, and if they have pictures of the stuff, I STILL don't know what it is, they pile so much stuff onto one plate.  So I've bought a lot of fruit, bread, eggs, and potato chips, and those have been my staples so far.  For the most part.  I drink a lot of herbal tea, too.

There is a KFC right down the road from the school, within walking distance, and I've tried that twice.  It tastes just like KFC in America.  The main problem with it is that I have to cross a wide, busy street to get to it, and that, almost literally, is taking one's life in one's hands.  The Chinese, with their new-found capitalism, all like to drive their new cars now, but none of them have learned where the brake pedal is yet.  So I make sure, when I have to cross the road, that there are 3 or 4 Chinamen between me and any oncoming traffic.  There's a Pizza Hut (and McDonald's) about 15 minutes by bus in the other direction, and I went to the Pizza Hut with another teacher last Friday.  I had some kind of spaghetti because I couldn't find "pepperoni pizza" on the menu.  They don't put less than 6 ingreedients on any pizza (and I saw one that had mayonnaise on it), so I just had spaghetti with bacon and black pepper and it was ok.  I'm not planning on making any regular trips down there.  There was also a bigger grocery store right by the Pizza Hut, and I found some American cereal, which I love, but it costs more here than it does in the states.  Anything imported to China is very expensive (please no comments about unfair trade practices.  Everybody, including the Chinese, know it).  My salary here is much higher than the average Chinese makes, but still lower than what I'd get for a comparable job in America.  There are a lot of small restaurants and kiosks near the school, and today I thought I'd try my luck.  I found one--it looked pretty clean, which I was advised to make sure of--and they had some kind of fried flat bread--it looked like French toast--and a weiner sitting next to it, so I pointed at both and ended up with a weiner wrapped in lettuce inside this bread with a little red pepper sprinkled on.  Not bad, actually, though it needed some mustard, something I haven't been able to find here.  It only cost about 60 cents, so if I die from it, at least I'll die cheap.  I was given a menu by somebody of a delivery pizza place, but the pizza actually costs about what it does in America, and I wouldn't know how to tell them how to get to my place anyway.  I live on campus, but I have no idea how to explain to anyone where I live.  If I get sick, I guess I'll call one of the administration people and they can call the hospital, yada yada yada.  I hope I live long enough for them to get here.  I haven't been able to get my depression prescription filled (I run out tomorrow), all the doctors in the nearby hospital speak only Chinese, of course, so this is liable to be an adventure.

There are people everywhere.  Even on this college campus, there are people just...walking around.  I mean, I see a lot of college students, naturally, but what are these grandmothers pushing baby strollers doing here?  Little kids running everywhere?  People just wandering around, or sitting around, or staring at me....People, people, people, stand in line for everything...well, I didn't stand in line for my French toast hot dog, and maybe that should have told me something...The introvert in me is having a hard time coming to grips with this.  But it's China.  At least I have refuge in my apartment.

And, in many ways, governments are the same everywhere.  Before I left Korea, I sent four boxes of stuff to the school here, things I couldn't pack in my suitcases.  That was over a month ago now.  Paju is about 250 miles from Dalian.  Of course, the boxes aren't here yet.  I could have walked the bloody things here by now...To be fair, the postal clerk in Korea did say it would take 2 or 3 months...for four boxes to travel 250 miles.  I hope I get them by this time next year.  Come to think of it, I hope I get them, period.  I did get a piece of mail from the states a few days ago, and the postmark said it took 3 weeks to get here.  A regular piece of mail.  At least it was unopened.

Come to China for a visit.  There's no place like it, that's for sure.


I personally think one of the most enjoyable things about living in a foreign country is to learn how to communicate with the locals in their own language.  I never spent much time with Korean, because I didn't really want to stay there very long, and not many people in the world speak that language anyway.  I don't especially want to stay in China for a long time, either, but in 100 years, those people in the world who aren't speaking Spanish will be speaking Chinese, so in case I'm around then, it might be nice to know at least one of those tongues.

I've obviously not learned a lot of Chinese since I've been here, but I've been studying and picked up a few things.  This morning I had some interesting moments.  I needed some envelopes, so I looked up the word "envelope" in an online English to Chinese translation website.  Well, they had several Chinese words for it, so I picked one of them and wrote it down and headed to the store.  I tried to pronouce it and then showed one of the clerks what I'd written down.  I could tell she didn't quite understand and I didn't have enough Chinese to explain it to her (although I do know the word for "mail").  So I called one of the deans at the university, an American fellow whose been here for many years and can speak the language fluently, and he told me the word I needed.  I let him talk to one of the clerks, and she understood him, but they didn't have what I wanted.  She pointed upstairs to where there were some other shops, so I headed up there and found a small stationary shop.  I know how to say "do you have..." and so I added the word (two Chinese characters, actually) for "envelope," and he handed me one.  I told him--in Chinese--that I wanted 10, and then asked--in Chinese--how much they would cost.  He told me and I understood him.  It wasn't much of a conversation, but I felt good about it.  I stopped at a kiosk on the way home and got something to eat.  I didn't know what it was, so I had to point--it looked like a hot dog on a tortilla.  He had some red pepper and asked me if I wanted some of it--he motioned, I didn't understand him--but I know how to say "a little bit," and he understood.  "How much does it cost?" I asked him, and I understood his answer.   I'm not boasting here, I just thought it was an interesting story that I'd share with you.

I'll probably never be fluent in the language--again, I don't want to be here that long--but it's nice to be able to do a little communicating.  And I'm going to keep working on it because I enjoy it.  Maybe my next stop will be Mexico, or someplace else where they speak Spanish--like California--and I'll learn some of that.

More Social Degeneration

I don't even need to comment on the following.  In fact, if I were teaching in America, I would be afraid to.

A Florida high school teacher--who was selected as the school's "Teacher of the Year" last year--has been suspended for posting anti-homosexual marriage remarks on his personal Facebook page.

And you people really wonder why I think the situation in the United States is hopeless?

Social Degeneration

Thomas Sowell, the brilliant black economist, has recently written three articles on "Social Degeneration."  They are worth reading, so here is the link to the page:  http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell1.asp.  Sowell writes about blacks in America (he can do it since he is black), and also about the hoodlums who tore up London recently.  To Sowell, liberalism is the underlying cause, and surely this is true.  But, it goes a little deeper than that.

Western Civilization was founded upon three things:  Greek democracy, Roman/Common law, and Judeo-Christian morality.  Those are the foundations which underlay western society, and any time the foundations of any structure begin to crack, it won't be long until that structure collapses.  Democracy (not of the Greek sort, however) is still with us (though not among the elites who want and try to control society), but one could argue Roman/Common law is being abandoned, and there is no question that Judeo-Christian morality, among the elites, is no longer the standard by which matters are to be judged.  Western Civilization, which for 2,000 years has been based upon Christianity, is adrift morally, having set itself loose from its Christian moorings.  And, in one sense, it doesn't even matter if Christianity is true (which it is).  The foundation is being destroyed and we are witnessing the collapse of the west.  Liberals try to excuse hooliganism (in both the U.S. and England, read Sowell's articles), but to those who still hold to the traditions of our civilization, these are not "troubled" people who have been abused by society, they are hoodlums, making their own choices, who need the strong hand of the law to keep them in order.  There has always been crime and sin in every society, and there always will be.  It is not so much the crime today, it is how it is perceived and interpreted.  Liberals excuse it, blaming it upon an unjust society (unless, of course, the crime is committed by a Christian or conservative), while conservatives still hold to the doctrine of individual responsibility.  Liberals are winning this argument, and it is why western civilization is becoming terminal.

And, I'm sorry, but there's not a blasted thing that can be done about it because too few people see it.  Rejection of Christianity is a rejection of western civilization and will lead to its collapse.  I wouldn't necessarily argue that such (the collapse) is a bad thing (rejection of Christianity certainly is, however).  But if western civilization is going to collapse, then something stable, some new foundation, must be set in order upon which to build a new civilization.  The liberals haven't even come close to providing that foundation.  Indeed, given their subjective, naturalistic philosophy, there is no way they can.

Christianity is the answer.  There is not one single, solitary problem in our society, or in our world, that cannot be solved by a proper application of the teachings of Jesus Christ.  But that means accepting Him and living by the standards God has given us.  That, since Adam and Eve, has never happened, and it never will. 

Pardon my hopelessness.

Current Event Ramblings, August 20

There's not really a lot new to report from here.  I don't start teaching until next month, but there are still things to do--faculty meetings, orientation, class preparation, etc.  It's going to be a little different teaching history to students to whom English is their second language.  And, I'll be teaching freshman.  They must pass an English proficiency test before they are allowed into this Missouri State program, so they won't be complete novices.  But, it will take some adjustment.

There's not much newsworthy, or at least that I want to comment on.  The economy in the U.S. remains the big news, and the stock market remains on a yo-yo.  President Obama continues to flounder, looking for some explanation for the sour economy.  This week he blamed the Arab spring uprisings, the Japanese tsunami, and the European bank mess as part of the reason the American economy is tanking.  Frankly, I thought that was pretty sorry of him--and ridiculous--but obviously he's got to find some excuse for the poor economic performance under his administration, and he's certainly not going to admit that his polices are at fault--which they are.  There are rumors that he wants to unleash another "stimulus" plan, much bigger than the first one.  The Republicans won't go for it, and that will give Obama a chance to condemn the "obstructionist" Republican party.  He did that a lot in the first two years of his administration when the Democrats had decided majorities in both houses of Congress and could have passed anything they wanted to and the Republicans couldn't have done a thing about it.  Obama is also preaching the usual Democratic sermon of taxing the rich, let them pay their fair share (though they never say how much their "fair share" is).  "Close the tax loopholes."  Well, ok, close them, that's not going to solve anything.  I read the other day that if the government took every single dime of every American making over $10,000,000 (or it may have been $100,000, 000), it would amount to about $230 billion.  That wouldn't pay off the debt, of course, wouldn't even make a dent, and would utterly destroy the economy.  If I were $2,000,000 in debt and my employer gave me a $5 a month raise, that wouldn't solve the problem.  It's a spending problem, not a revenue problem, but "tax the rich" plays to the ignorant.  Nobody in America is undertaxed.  I did see a headline yesterday where Obama told some agencies to cut their budgets.  I didn't read the story so I don't know if  he's demanding a real cut (spending less money than they did this year), or if it's a politician's cut, i.e., cutting the projected raise from next year's budget.  In other words, instead of getting a 10% budget increase, agency X will only get a 5% increase.  Politicians call that cutting the budget.  And I'm not joking about that.

I'm not even sure why I keep writing about this stuff, I've already made it plain that I think the whole situation is hopeless.  There are too many American enslaved to the government, and the Democratic party especially is going to keep it that way (that's where their votes come from, them and the hate Christianity crowd) until they utterly destroy the American economy.  The Republicans couldn't do anything about it if they wanted to, which most of them don't.  But I guess as long as people read what I write, I'll keep posting.

Get Ready for QE16

When politicians do something they know the people won't approve of, they come up with some kind of term for it that nobody understands.  For example, when the Obama administration bombed Libya a few months ago--clearly an act of war--they called it "kinetic military action."  "Social justice," of course, means taking money away from those who have earned it and giving it to those who haven't.  And "quantitative easing" (QE) is the Federal Reserve's term for creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air.

There have been two of these "quantitative easings" so far by the Fed (in the current recession).  The idea is--and this is the Keynesian monetary philosophy--that if the government would only create enough money and pour it into the economy, then economic indicators would improve and a recession or depression could be ended.  Since QE1 didn't work, the idea was that enough money wasn't created.  Hence, QE2.  When that doesn't work, there will be a QE3, a QE4, a QE5, ad nauseum.  They will never admit that the economic theory itself is wrong.

"Quantitative easing" is exactly what Hoover and FDR did during the Great Depression that prolonged it for so long (they didn't call it "quantitative easing," though).  And finally, after 10 years of it, an honest Democrat admitted its failure.  Henry Morgenthau, who was the Secretary of the Treasury under Roosevelt, told his fellow Democrats in 1939: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work."  And it's not working today, either.  But it's all Obama and his people know and that's a main reason they need to be removed from office.

Folks, there is plenty of money out there already.  Financial institutions have money, but they are afraid to loan it because of "loan modification," liberal-speak for reason after reason why borrowers should not have to pay what they owe when it is due, or perhaps, not pay it back at all (more "social justice").   "Loan modification" is simply the fancy term for welching on debts.  No intelligent bank is going to loan out its money if there is a strong possibility it will not get it back.  But they had to do that (forced by pressure from the Clinton adminstration) and that is a major reason for the current economic recession.

A lot of businesses today have money, but they are afraid to spend or hire in the current economic climate created by the Obama administration.  Obama is creating a vast amount of uncertainty as to what the cost of Obamacare is going to be, future taxation and regulation, and other unpredictable employer costs.  Businesses need to be able to plan for the future, but when they don't know what the rules are going to be because government constantly changes them, then the risks for investment become too great.  As long as a government that is hostile to business exists--as the Obama government is--then businesses are going to hang on to their money until a more favorable climate arises.  The money is out there, but smart people are not going to invest under Obama.

And since they won't...we need QE3, 4, 5, 6, etc.  Which simply creates more government debt, economic inflation, and has finally led to a lowering of America's once pristine credit rating.  It happened, not surprisingly, under a Democratic administration.  And if they can think of a catchy phrase to cover up their incompetence--one that the majority of people won't understand--then they continue to pursue their ineffective policies.  And since they've involved the government so heavily into the economy, it becomes politically impossible to change course.  We have created a mentality in this country, that, if there is a problem, it is up to government to solve it.  In more cases than not, government is the problem.  But a politician who loves power, and thinks he can create a utopia on this earth if people will only listen to him, will never admit that. 

And it's the people who suffer.

Current Events Ramblings, August 15

Things are going well here.  I continue to meet various people at the university as they continue to dribble in from vacation.  It's nice to be back in the college atmosphere, though most of the students haven't arrived back yet.  The weather here is very humid, though the temperature has stayed mostly in the mid-70s to mid-80s, so it's not as bad as Houston.  We've had a little bit of rain, but not much, but it's overcast and high fog most of the time.  Dalian is very near the sea--in fact, I think there's a beach somewhere on the outskirts of town, but I'm not sure--so the fog and clouds are to be expected.  I remember, from being in China before, how the people stare at you like they'd never seen a foreigner--and that was true in the 1990s.  But you'd think they'd be used to seeing them here because a lot of teachers are from America.  Maybe it's the cowboy hat I wear to protect my face from the elements.  I just smile, say "howdy," and touch the brim of my hat, and they don't have a clue what I'm saying or doing.

I noticed that the Republican debate and vote in Iowa this past weekend got a lot of play in the media.  There really wasn't a whole lot of substance to the vote, though it did knock Tim Pawlenty out of the race.  Michelle Bachmann won, and Ron Paul placed second, so that's pretty indicative of how off-beat it was.  Michelle Bachmann is a little too conservative, especially on social issues, for too many Americans, and if she starts rising in the polls, the media will do to her what they did to Sarah Palin four years ago--make a deliberate, concerted, unconscionable attempt to utterly destroy her.  An awful lot of people will hold their nose and vote for Obama, regardless of how incompetent he is, just because they can't stand the Christian right.  There are a lot of God-haters out there, folks, many, many more than we might think.  Ron Paul makes many Republicans--including conservatives--very mad, and his statement in the debate that the United States is as fault for our poor relationship with Iran caused some people, like Rush Limbaugh, to go ballistic.  Paul is largely correct, however.  100 years ago the U.S. had very little contact with the Middle East, mostly philanthropic, missionary, that sort of thing.  They didn't have anything we wanted so our relationship with the area was mostly neutral.  Now nearly everybody over there hates our guts, and that's mainly for two reasons--our undying, uncompromising support of Israel, and our attempts to force Western civilization down the throats of a people who don't want it.  That's our fault, not theirs, though certainly some of the tinpot dictators they've had in the ME haven't helped things.  "No entangling alliances," George Washington said, and as usual, the Founding Fathers were right.

I don't know who's going to win the Republican nomination, of course; my guess right now would be Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.  The Republican establishment will back Romney over Perry so he probably has the best chance.  Certainly, nearly anyone would be better than Obama.  He's done nothing but prolong a recession that should have been very short.  He's doing exactly what Hoover and FDR did in the Great Depression, i.e., trying to use government money to drag us out of the recession, and it didn't work in the 1930s, and it isn't going to work now.  So, if he gets re-elected, look for the recession to continue for most of the rest of the decade.  Until and unless we get a pro-business President who will cut regulation, taxes, and government spending, and signal some fiscal responsibility, there will be little recovery.  Some people have argued that Obama is trying to destroy the American economy on purpose, in effect, to punish the country for its historical treatment of "his" people.  I don't know about that.  I'm not going to judge the man's heart, I just know his policies are wrong, he's not encouraging a virtuous, self-reliant, moral citizenship as he ought, and, as a result, the country continues to flounder and sink even further into a financial and moral cesspool.  Congress is no help, either, of course.  There was a tad bit of hope, after the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, that they might be able to at least retard the downhill plunge, but they blew it in the recent debt ceiling agreement, allowing themselves to be demagogued by the liberal media.  A conservative Republican President might be able to do something positive.  But, ultimately, the country's problem is moral, not financial, and that's not going to be solved by the current leadership or a balanced budget.  The country is horribly, horribly divided between a strong, anti-Christian left wing and a conservative base that wishes to hold to the traditional Judeo-Christian moral code upon which America was founded and made strong.  That left wing is getting more numerous, and they control the major media and educational outlets.  There's no hope, folks, I'll tell you that right now.  You can't hold back a tide and the United States, by every historical precedent, is headed for disaster.  A few people can see it, most can't, and indeed, most are unwittingly contributing to it.  It's sad.  The answers are right in front of us; they are in history and the Bible, but too many people are ignorant of the former and don't want the latter.  It's a classic--CLASSIC--recipe for disaster. 

Yankee Ingenuity

There are these things called VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).  They are offered by companies (mostly American) for the express purpose of allowing folks who live in countries that block certain websites to access those sites (I understand that a lot of the Middle East countries do as well).  It's kind of a cat and mouse game.  These companies have servers in several cities, so if the Chinese are able to block one server, one can move to another.  One of the major VPN companies is at http://hidemyass.com (look at that very closely.  It took me a little while to figure it out.  I don't use that company.  Yankee ingenuity and Yankee crudity.)  Anyway, it seems to work very well.  I was also able to upgrade to a broader bandwith so hopefully I'll have a little more speed, which I needed.  It costs about $15 a month, though it's not quite as fast as what one would get in the West.  Still, it's better than what I had.  I bought a cell phone; I'll pay about $31--for six months.  That's $31 total for six months, and that includes the phone.  Incidentally, my phone number is 1800 409 6186.  That's not a toll-free number, it just happens to be the number I have.  If you need to call for any reason, you'll need to add the Chinese country code.  It's 86.  I think for a cell phone, you'd dial 011+86+my number.  I think.  You'd have to check.  No need to call unless absolutely necessary.

I've seen a few Western items here.  I was at the grocery store this morning and saw Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers.  I think I already mentioned I can get Lay's potato chips, and that I saw M&Ms, but the latter are too expensive.  The Lay's are cheap. 

Other than that, things are well.  I haven't quite figured out how to get my prescription, but we're working on that and I've got a couple of weeks to play with.  I'll probably lose some weight while I'm here.  I remember that I did when Debbie and I were here before.  It won't hurt me any, in fact, it will probably cut down my cholesterol and trygliceride counts.  I'm still going to have mom send me a few things I can't get here; I don't believe in the doctrine of total depravity.  But there's no hurry on that.

Anyway, I'll post here as long as I'm able.

I'm going to keep the other website for a while, just in case this doesn't work, but so far, so good.