Human Rights Violations are Worse in North Korea but Liberals would rather punish Syria for Theirs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 7th, 2013

Week in Review

The Syrian civil war began in March of 2011.  And is still ongoing.  Some two and a half years later.  And over 100,000 killed.  While displacing close to 3 million refugees.  It is a devastating conflict.  But President Obama made no attempt to help the opposition topple the Assad government.  Despite it being a close ally of Iran.  No, President Obama did nothing to intervene just as he chose to sit out Iran’s Green Revolution.  Another regime that can be pretty cruel to its people.  Yet President Obama told Hosni Mubarak that he had to leave Egypt.  And he used U.S. airpower to help topple Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya.  Both men were U.S. allies at the time when President Obama helped unseat them from power.  Yet two countries that can’t be considered friends of the United States in any way (Iran and Syria) he does nothing.  Odd.

The Syrian civil war has been going on for so long that al Qaeda joined in.  Looking to fill that power vacuum should the Assad regime fall.  As the civil war intensified and the opposition begged for foreign aid President Obama stood firm.  Not wishing to get involved.  Unless the Syrians crossed the red line.  And used chemical weapons.  Well, someone used chemical weapons.  We’re not sure who did.  It may well have been the opposition to get the U.S. to bomb a stubborn Assad government out of power.  But people died from the use of chemical weapons.  Perhaps as many as 1,500.  Of which about 500 have been children.  A tragedy too great to even contemplate.  And one that made President Obama go to Congress to get permission to wage war on those responsible.  With many on the left supporting his call for a military response.  Which is highly unusual to say the least.

Now chemical weapons are horrible and frightening.  But an additional 1,500 dead after 100,000 already lost their lives?  Those chemical deaths are only about 1.5% of the total dead.  When Saddam Hussein killed 3,200-5,000 Kurds and Iranians in a Chemical attack on the town of Halabja there wasn’t quite the same response from the left.  In fact, when Saddam Hussein failed to document the destruction of his chemical stock piles per the treaty that ended the Gulf War they still showed little concern.  Though they did vote to give George W. Bush permission to wage war against Iraq as the polls showed they were on the wrong side of the issue when they at first opposed the measure.  Even calling for a second vote to get their vote on the record.  But when no weapons of mass destruction were found they were both embarrassed and elated.  Saying that Bush lied to get the country into war.  Due to flawed intelligence reports.  And a strong desire to go to war.  To finish what his dad started in the Gulf War.  They have attacked Bush mercilessly ever since.  But now the shoe is on the other foot.  And here they are wanting to go to war because of weapons of mass destruction.  Many of which could be from Iraq.  Delivered on trucks seen leaving Iraqi weapons dumps on the eve of war.  Or flown to Syria (see Syria’s Chemical Weapons Came From Saddam’s Iraq posted 7/19/2013 on IBD).

But none of that matters now.  What does is that someone in Syria crossed the red line.  And because innocent men, women and children died from poison gas we have to do something.  Even though we haven’t done a damn thing to help people suffering under worse tyrants for about half a century in North Korea (see Up to 20,000 North Korean prison camp inmates have ‘disappeared’ says human rights group by Julian Ryall posted 9/5/2013 on The Telegraph).

There are fears that up to 20,000 may have been allowed to die of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of the camp at the end of last year…

The report, North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, reveals that two camps have been shut down in the last year but that 130,000 individuals are still being held in penal labour colonies across the country.

“Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime,” the report states.

“They are deemed ‘wrong-thinkers’, ‘wrong-doers’, or those who have acquired ‘wrong-knowledge’ or have engaged in ‘wrong-associations’…”

Reports suggest that a severe food shortage meant that little was passed on to inmates and that numbers dwindled rapidly from 30,000 to 3,000…

“North Korea’s 2009 currency devaluation (whereby camp authorities were reportedly unable to purchase food in markets to supplement the crops grown in the camps), combined with bad harvests, resulted in the death of large numbers of prisoners after 2010,” the report states…

Inmates – who can be imprisoned for life, along with three generations of their families, for anything deemed to be critical of the regime – are forced to survive by eating frogs, rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste.

Activists say that as many as 40 percent of inmates die of malnutrition, while others succumb to disease, sexual violence, torture, abuse by the guards or are worked to death. Men, women and children are required to work for up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions, often in mines or logging camps.

Things are bad in Syria.  But North Korea has just about the poorest record on humans rights in the world.  And this has been going on for decades.  You almost have to go back to Nazi Germany to see oppression on this scale.  But do we attack North Korea?  More women and children have suffered and died in North Korea than they have in Syria.  So why Syria and not North Korea?

North Korea does have nuclear weapons.  And a border with China.  Are these the things that eliminate principles?  Killing women and children is wrong in Syria but it’s okay in North Korea?  Is this all it takes to devalue the lives of women and children?  If so God help the women and children of the Middle East when Iran gets their nuclear weapons.

A lot of liberals hate the military.  And jocks.  As these people bullied a lot of liberals back in high school.  Which is why a lot of them go into government.  To have power over other people that they never had before.  But they’re still that kid in high school.  They’ll push around Egypt and Libya when it seems everyone in the area is against them.  Nations they feel they can bully without any repercussions.  But an Iran or a North Korea?  That’s like walking up to and punching the big bully in high school.  Something they were too frightened to do in High School.  And are still too frightened to do now.

Except in Syria.  Which is now more of a religious conflict along the great Sunni-Shia divide of Islam.  With the extreme elements of both sides fighting it out in Syria.  Perhaps this is why the president and the left are willing to intervene now.  Because whoever wins now in Syria will likely be anti-American.  Just like Libya turned out with four dead Americans in Benghazi.  And just like Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood after President Obama told Hosni Mubarak he had to go.  Perhaps they’ll feel safer because they helped our enemies a little.  And because of that our enemies will now like us.  And they will stop giving us wedgies and noogies.  Figuratively, of course.

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North Korea Manufactures and Sells Meth to Chinese addicts to bring Hard Currency into the Country

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 25th, 2013

Week in Review

Keynesian economists, and those on the left, think there is nothing wrong with printing money.  Because they don’t understand money.  What it truly is.  So what is money?  It’s a temporary storage of wealth.  It is not wealth.  Doctors make a lot of money because they have learned great skills.  Skills few people have.  And doctors are willing to exchange these skills for money.  The wealth is a doctor’s skills.  The money temporarily holds this wealth until the doctor finds something to trade that money for.  From someone else that has wealth.  Who created something of value the doctor is willing to trade for.

All money did was make this trading of valuable things easier.  So we could trade with anyone even if they don’t want anything we can make or do.  A doctor doesn’t have to find someone who wants their gallbladder removed who has a television set if the doctor wants a television set.  The doctor can just go to a store and buy one.  Because of money.  Making the exchange of goods and services far easier than in a barter system.

Those who think money is wealth and that we should just print it and hand it out to the people are missing one very important point.  If you did this no one would have to work.  Those on the left would applaud that.  But if no one worked there would be no valuable things to trade.  And if there are no valuable things to trade then your money is worthless.  For if there is nothing to buy what good is having money?

North Korea has a lot of money.  But their money is worthless.  Because they just print it.  While their economy contains no valuable things to trade.  Not a big problem in a closed economy.  And you make your people slaves.  But it’s a problem if you want to trade with the outside world for the luxury items the lucky few in the ruling elite enjoy.  For if you have no valuable things in your economy then you must trade for valuable things with hard currency.  Money that isn’t worthless paper.  So North Korea came up with a way to get hard currency (see How North Korea got itself hooked on meth by Max Fisher published 8/21/2013 on The Washington Post).

A new study published in the journal North Korea Review says that parts of North Korea are experiencing a crystal meth “epidemic,” with an “upsurge” of recreational meth use and accompanying addiction in the country’s northern provinces…

So how do people in North Korea, a country where markets are so tightly regulated that even video CDs can be considered dangerous contraband and where social controls are often beyond Orwellian, manage to get hold of meth..?

The problem actually goes back to the 1990s, when North Korea experienced a famine so devastating that virtually the entire world believed the country would collapse at any moment. But it didn’t, in part because Pyongyang finally decided to open up the world’s most closed economy just a small crack, by allowing a degree of black market trade across North Korea’s border with China. The idea was that the black market would bring in food, which it did, preventing North Korea’s implosion.

The black market trade into China has remained that little bit open ever since, either because Pyongyang authorities can’t close it now or because they see some trade as beneficial, probably both. Some provinces along the border have seen their economies liberalize a tiny, tiny bit — most notably North Hamgyung, which is named in the North Korea Review report as particularly blighted by meth addiction.

In the years after the border with China opened that little crack, two other things have happened that led to the current meth crisis. First, medicine ran out and the once-not-terrible health system collapsed — more on this later. Second, North Korea started manufacturing meth in big state-run labs. The country badly needs hard currency and has almost no legitimate international trade. But it was able to exploit the black market trade across the Chinese border by sending state-made meth into China and bringing back the money of Chinese addicts.

This is where things started to spin out of control for North Korea. The state-run meth factories and the cross-border black market trade started to mingle. And some of that meth ended up migrating back across the border and into North Korea, through the black market trade that brings in Chinese rice and DVDs and the like.

This is where the collapse of the North Korean health system becomes relevant. As Isaac Stone Fish reported in a great 2011 Newsweek story, many regular North Koreans started using meth to treat health problems. Real medicine is extremely scarce in the country. But meth is much more common, which means that the prices of medical drugs are artificially inflated, while the price of meth is artificially low. In a culture without much health education and lots of emphasis on traditional remedies, people were ready to believe that meth would do the trick for their medical problems, and many got addicted.

Poor Chinese.  First the British got them addicted to opium.  Then North Korea got them addicted to meth.  It appears the Chinese people are nothing but pawns in the game of international trade.

Back in the days of mercantile Britain trade was all about who collected the most hard currency.  Basically gold and silver in those days.  The British loved Chinese tea.  And were filling ships full of the stuff to bring it back to Britain.  The problem was that the Chinese didn’t want anything the British were selling.  So Chinese goods were flowing to Britain.  But no British goods were flowing to China.  And without having exports to offset imports Britain was forced to trade the only thing they had that China wanted.  Their hard currency.  Their silver.  So Chinese goods flowed out of china.  And Britain’s hard currency flowed out of Britain.  So China was accumulating piles of hard currency while Britain saw their piles diminish.  Which was the exact opposite mercantile Britain wanted.  So they did something about it.  Thanks to India.

India was part of the British Empire.  And she grew opium poppies.  Something some Chinese did want.  So the British used this opium demand to stop the flow of hard currency out of the empire.  And traded Indian opium for Chinese tea.  This solved the trade deficit problem.  But it created a lot of addicts in China.  The addiction problem got so bad that it spawned two wars.  The Opium Wars.  Which did not end well for China.  And things did not get better in the century or so that followed.  And now here is North Korea.  Turning Chinese into addicts to get hard currency out of China (and into North Korea).  Just like the British did.  Of course, North Korea is nothing like the mighty British Empire.  So one would believe that China is allowing this addiction problem to happen.  As it is probably a smaller price to pay than the refugee problem should North Korea collapse.  And they may like that North Korean buffer between them and South Korea.  Japan.  And the United States.

North Korea is everything the left would like to have in the United States.  Tightly regulated markets.  National health care.  No rich people accumulating private property.  Where they frown on profits.  The even put people before profits.  Just like liberals want to do.  There’s no talk radio.  No Rush Limbaugh.  No Fox News.  No free trade.  No low-cost imports to undermine union manufacturing.  No obesity.  Because there is no junk food.  And no 32 ounce sugary beverages.  And a government that can do what is right for the people without having to worry about a Tea Party challenger in the next primary election.  North Korea is liberal nirvana.  Yet life there is horrible and wretched.  Because it’s everything liberals want.  But nothing the people want.

Liberals want to keep expanding government.  To have more government intervention into the free market.  But where does it end?  How far do they want to take things towards North Korea before they say they have enough?  And why anyone should worry about this is because as horrible and wretched life is in North Korea, those in the ruling elite have it pretty darn good.  Because the people in charge of these regimes never suffer like the people outside of the ruling elite.  So the farther they move towards North Korea the less they have to worry about an election taking away their comfy life.  This is why we should worry about a government growing larger.  For throughout world history life like that in North Korea has been the norm.  While life like that in the United States has been the exception.  And the United States has only been around for 225 years (counting from the ratification of the U.S. Constitution).  A crazy new fad the entitled ruling elite (i.e., liberals) would like to do away with.  So they can rule like they did in the good old days.  Much like they do today in North Korea.  Where the supreme ruler, Kim Jong-un, has an obesity problem.  One of the few in North Korea that isn’t gripped with a gnawing hunger every minute of every day.  This is life in a country where the ruling elite hates capitalism.  And puts people before profits.  This liberal nirvana.  Those in power live well.  While everyone else suffers.

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North Korea may not be able to Light up the Night or Feed her People but they now have their own Smartphone

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 17th, 2013

Week in Review

You know the machines are taking over the world when everyone must have a smartphone these days.  Even the North Koreans (see Skepticism as NKorea shows home-grown smartphone by Youkyung Lee, AP Technology Writer, posted 8/16/2013 on Yahoo! Finance).

North Korea’s announcement that it is mass producing a home-grown smartphone has been met with skepticism in the tech industry in South Korea and abroad.

The North’s state media last week showed leader Kim Jong Un inspecting “Arirang” phones at a Pyongyang factory. The Korean Central News Agency’s Aug. 10 report said the factory began manufacturing smartphones “a few days ago” and they were already in high demand.

No.  They’re not.

…access to the global Internet is severely restricted and mobile phones used on the state-authorized network cannot make overseas calls. The North’s Intranet gives access to government sanctioned sites and works with its own browsers, search engine and email programs, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

So, in other words, people can use these smartphones to only access the state propaganda that they are already being bombarded with.  Not the rich entertainment environment available just south of the border in South Korea.  Where people actually want smartphones.  Well, not smartphones per se.  But the cyberworld the smartphones bring to them.  A cyberworld strictly FORBIDDEN for the average North Korean.  So, yeah, there is a high demand for smartphones in North Korea.  Just as there is a high demand for famine and state-oppression.  Which, sadly, are the only things North Korea has an abundance of.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and the Korean Peninsula remains technically at war. Since then, the South has prospered and produced giant corporations such as Samsung Electronics Co., which is the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, computer memory chips and displays. The North’s economy has languished under socialist central planning though the capital Pyongyang is an oasis of relative affluence.

And there’s the problem.  Socialist central planning.  If that would ever go away the people could use smartphone like their neighbors to the south.  As well as losing their constant fear of famine.  And state-oppression.  Of course for that to happen will require the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.  With the North becoming like the South, of course.

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The Communists in Japan are targeting Young People to help them Transform Japan into an Oppressive Communist State

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China (back in the days of Mao), North Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba all have great police states.  Not to keep people out of their countries.  But to prevent the people inside their countries from escaping to the capitalist West. Why?  Life was better in the capitalist West than in the communist East.  Where nations in the capitalist West didn’t need a secret police to keep their people from escaping.  But needed strong immigration controls to keep their countries from being overwhelmed by refugees trying to escape to their lands.  Yet despite this history of communist failures there are still communist parties in countries trying to attract voters.  Preferably the ones who don’t know about that history of failure (see Communist Party makes a comeback … in Japan by Gavin Blair, The Christian Science Monitor, posted 8/5/2013 on Yahoo! News).

Founded in 1922, the JCP is the oldest political party in Japan, and has enjoyed constant representation in parliament for longer than any other. But until recently, its image was one of older activists and it struggled to attract younger voters.

July’s elections were the first in Japan where online campaigning was permitted, and it was the JCP that is widely seen as having made best use of it. As well as savvy leveraging of social networks and video streaming platforms, the party created a series of online mascot characters that addressed individual issues such as the planned consumption tax hike, shady business practices, the heavy US military presence on Okinawa, and constitutional change.

“We were able to use the Net to reach out to younger people, many of whom don’t read newspapers or watch TV much. Through the characters, we could communicate issues simply and appeal to young voters,” says party spokesperson Toshio Ueki, who reports that the characters’ webpages got 1.5 million hits in the weeks before the poll.

Sound familiar?  That’s how President Obama won election twice.  By reaching out to younger people.  The people who probably know the least about economics.  And history.  That’s how people who want to change a country do it.  By getting people who don’t have the foggiest idea about what happened in the world in the last century or so.  Who simply don’t know of what people tried.  And what has failed.  With communism pretty much at the top of the list of things NOT to do based on past history.

If we did take power, the JCP wouldn’t try to implement a Communist economy immediately. It would require huge changes and we would seek the support of the people for each step,” Kira says. “And we would want to use the best parts of the current economic system, too.”

Japan is pretty close geographically to some of the great communist failures.  The former Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China (PRC) back in the days of Mao.  Vietnam.  And, of course, North Korea.  Places that have all gotten better with a move away from communism and towards capitalism.  Except North Korea.  Which is pretty much unchanged.  And the former Soviet Union.  Which is no more.  But the biggest part of the Soviet Union lives on.  Russia.  Which had moved towards capitalism.  But now is drifting back a bit.

History has shown where there is unfettered free markets life is better.  For this is the direction of all immigration.  From countries with highly fettered markets to countries with less fettered markets.  Older people know this.  People who read history know this.  Or lived it.  People who understand classical economics know this.  But young people?  They haven’t a clue.  Which is why all candidates who want to expand the power of the state over the people target young people.  For with them all they have to do is to promise more stuff and more freedom.  Even if they promise to deliver these with policies that have throughout history done anything but.

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Kim Jong Un turns to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf for Advice for North Korea’s Economic Ills

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

President Bill Clinton entered into an agreement to help them build two nuclear reactors to produce electric power if the North Koreans agreed to give up their nuclear weapons program.   But they went ahead and built nuclear weapons anywhere.  President Clinton also gave them some satellite knowledge.  Navigational black boxes.  Allowing them to launch a satellite into space.  Which upon launching crashed in the ocean.   Which the North Koreans salvaged.  And got the navigational black box.  Giving them not only nuclear weapons but the knowledge to create an ICBM to deliver that nuclear weapon.  And ever since they’ve threatened us with nuclear belligerency to get what they want.  They agree to stand down on their nuclear weapon program in exchange for food or energy aid.  And when that aid runs out they threaten us with nuclear belligerency again.

President George W. Bush included North Korea in the Axis of Evil.  And was not as friendly to Kim Jong Il as his predecessor was.  But Kim Jong Il is dead now.  And his son Kim Jong Un has taken over.  So how much better did things get with the new Kim?  Not much.  In fact, they may have gotten worse (see Report: Kim Jong Un handing out copies of ‘Mein Kampf’ to senior North Korean officials by Max Fisher posted 6/17/2013 on The Washington Post).

Senior North Korean officials received copies of “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler’s rambling prison memoir, as gifts for Kim Jong Un’s birthday this January, according to a report by New Focus International, a North Korean news organization that sources from defectors and volunteer citizens within the country…

The book was apparently not distributed to endorse Nazism so much as to draw attention to Germany’s economic and military reconstruction after World War One…

“Kim Jong Un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin in terms of nuclear and economic development,” New Focus’s North Korean source told them by phone. “Byungjin” translates literally to “in tandem” and refers to official policy of developing the nuclear program and economy simultaneously.

The nuclear program is still front and center in national policy.  Some things never change.

So they’re going to take some economic lessons from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf?  To recreate the economic miracle Hitler had following World War I?  It’s a little too late for that.  For a lot of the things Hitler did North Korea already has done.  Seize private property.  Limit imports.  Abolish trade unions.  Cut wages.  Force people to work longer hours.  Default on debt.  Print money to pay for public works projects.  And military rearmament.  Then plan on using the proceeds from world conquest to fix their balance sheet.

A lot of these are non-options for Kim Jong Un.  For there is no private property to seize.  They don’t have any trade unions demanding higher wages or better working conditions to abolish.  Public work projects?  If they haven’t been able to light up the night after all of these years with a grand public works project chances are they never will.  They already have a military-first national policy like the Nazis did.  They have one of the largest land armies in the world.  And already have nuclear weapons.  Yet they still have a horrible economy.  Proving again Keynesian economics doesn’t work.  For that was basically what Hitler had.  An economic system somewhere between the Soviet Union and the United States.  State capitalism.  Heavy on the state.

But for state capitalism to work you need a large private sector economy to interfere in.  And North Korea just doesn’t have that.  What they have is nothing but state spending.  And state spending just doesn’t work.  If it did North Korea’s economy would be greater and stronger than South Korea’s economy.  But it’s not.  For South Korea has lit up their night.  And they are doing quite well.  So well that they are one of the four Asian Tigers.  Because they embraced free market capitalism.  And when they do stray into state capitalism theirs is a kind that is very heavy on the capitalism.  Not the state.

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North Korea turning to Free Markets to End Famine and Abject Poverty

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

Our public schools are teaching our children that capitalism is evil and unfair.  That government is needed to prevent business owners from making too much profit at the people’s expense.  Our public schools teach our kids this because the left controls our public schools.  And the left hates capitalism.  They would love to replace capitalism with socialism.  An egalitarian system that puts people before profits.  Because putting people before profits is the only way to truly increase the quality of life.  Unless you actually live in a place where they put people before profits (see NKorean farmers planting rice with profits in mind by AP posted 5/31/2013 on Yahoo! News).

Farmers say they have begun working under the new policies, which are designed to boost production by giving managers and workers financial incentives. Foreign analysts say the moves to spur North Korea’s moribund economy suggest Pyongyang is taking cues from Beijing on how to incorporate free market ideas within its rigid socialist system…

Impoverished North Korea suffers chronic food and power shortages and has not released economic data for decades. South Korea’s central bank estimates the North’s gross national income, an indicator of the average standard of living, was $1,250 per person in 2011 compared with $23,400 in South Korea.

In the past, the North Korean state set workers’ salaries. Under new measures announced April 1, the managers of farms, factories and other enterprises have been given leeway to set salaries and offer raises to workers who help drive up production…

Beijing dismantled its centrally planned economy slowly. In the 1970s, it began allowing farmers to keep more of their harvests, giving them an incentive to grow more to sell on newly permitted free markets. Food production soared.

In the mid-’80s, the government gave state enterprises the authority to link bonuses and salaries to better performance. Those changes were mostly aimed at managers, but they cracked a communist-era preference for egalitarianism.

New rules in the early 1990s gave state enterprises full flexibility to set wages, widening the use of performance incentives. In that decade, China truly broke away from its centralized “iron rice bowl” system of guaranteed employment and state-set incomes…

At the Tongbong farm in the eastern city of Hamhung, farmers are in the midst of a busy rice planting season after a long, cold winter.

A long, cold winter?  Guess there’s no global warming in North Korea.

North Korea’s “rigid socialist system” has impoverished and starved her people.  As well as left them in the dark as they don’t have the energy to light up the night.  This is egalitarianism.  Everyone’s life is equally miserable.  This is what socialism gets you.  Countries like North Korea, Cuba, the former Soviet Union and China under Mao.  Countries notable for their abject poverty.  And occasional famine.  This is what the left wants America to be.  Egalitarian.  Where we put people before profits.  Where no one has any incentive to do anything.  Because working harder than the next guy doesn’t improve your lot in life.  So you don’t work harder.  You do the minimum.  Because why work harder when the outcome is always the same?  Misery.

No doubt the American left disapproves of North Korea’s introduction of market forces.  And the profit incentive.  For it puts profits before people.  They’d rather see another layer of bureaucracy.  And another 5-year plan.  Where brilliant government elites think brilliantly to solve the nation’s problems.  Instead of leaving it to the chaos of the free markets.  For what did the chaos of the free markets ever do for the people?  Other than give them an obesity problem while socialism gives her people famine.  Free markets give her people smartphones and the Internet.  While Socialism can’t even light up the night.  And free markets give her people peace and happiness.  While socialism gives her people fear and intimidation.

Of course, the American left doesn’t have a problem giving fear and intimidation to some people.  As the IRS persecution of conservatives shows.  Which is perhaps why the American left admires socialism so much.  Why they insist that we put people before profits.  Because when we do we move closer to a police state like they have in North Korea.  Something the American left no doubt would like.  For it would make it easier for them to persecute their political enemies.

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The Soldiers in North Korea are Busy…helping the Farmers with the Spring Planting in Hopes of Avoiding another Famine

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2013

Week in Review

The Sixties radicals hated capitalism.  And the profit incentive.  They sang songs about love.  And revered communist leaders.  For they wanted to replace capitalism in America with communism.  Where no one owned anything.  But everyone owned everything.  It would be utopia.  This is what the Sixties radicals believed.  And what they wanted in the United States.  A system where they put people before profits.  So it would be like in that John Lennon Song.  Imagine.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

The Sixties radicals loved the former Soviet Union.  Because the Soviets hated capitalism.  And embraced socialism.  Putting people before profits.  These radicals loved Che Guevara.  One of Fidel Castro’s trusted lieutenants.  Who wanted the Soviets to launch their nuclear weapons on America.  (Remember this the next time you see a college student wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his image.)  They liked Chairman Mao in China.  And Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.  And every communist leader in Central America and South America.  For these communist leaders hated capitalism.  And put people before profits.  Just like in North Korea.  Who unlike the former Soviet Union (now Russia) and China, did not lose the faith and embrace capitalism.  No.  In North Korea they still put people before profits (see NKorean soldiers put down arms to help plant crops by JEAN H. LEE, Associated Press, posted 4/24/2013 on Yahoo! News).

The North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone is a hive of activity — not of fighting, but of farming.

Beyond the barbed wire, ruddy-faced North Korean soldiers put down their rifles Wednesday and stood shoulder to shoulder with farmers as they turned their focus to another battle: the spring planting.

As neighboring nations remain on guard for a missile launch or nuclear test that South Korean and U.S officials say could take place at any time, the focus north of the border is on planting rice, cabbage and soybeans. In hamlets all along the DMZ, soldiers were knee-deep in mud and water as they helped farmers with the spring planting…

Last month, Kim Jong Un enshrined the pursuit of nuclear weapons, along with building the economy, as key goals for the nation.

Col. Kim, at the lookout point along the DMZ, called nuclear weapons “the lifeblood” of North Korea. “If we don’t have nuclear weapons, we’ll continue to be threatened by outside forces.”

For the moment, however, the labor of many North Korean soldiers is turned to the land. Spring is arriving slowly this year in North Korea, pushing back the crucial planting season by a month. Impoverished North Korea struggles to feed its 24 million people, with the U.N. estimating that two-thirds of the population cope with chronic food shortages.

Farmers in Panmunjom-ri, the North Korean village inside the DMZ, were busy planting rice, cabbage, soybeans and radish in fields surrounded by barbed wire and anti-tank barriers.

Elsewhere, faces flushed and still in their uniforms, men and women soldiers waded into muddy paddies and bent down with fistfuls of spinach to plant.

Around them, red banners fluttered in the wind. One read, “At a breath,” a phrase urging North Koreans to work hard. The other read, “Defend to the death.”

This is what you get when you put people before profits.  A nation with nuclear weapons.  And recurring famine.  Where the army has to pitch in during the planting season.  Because they are still farming in North Korea the way they were a hundred years ago.  By hand.  Meanwhile the United States grows so much food that they use some of it to make ethanol to put into their cars.  This is what you get when you put profits before people.  So much food that you can use it for fuel.  And where even the poorest people suffer from obesity problems.

You see, when you put profits before people you are putting people first.  For to earn a profit you have to please the people.  You can’t order them to buy your products.  Like the North Koreans can order their army to plant food.  You have to make a product the people want to buy.  And only when you please the customer can a business make a profit.  While the ruling regime in North Korea can kill hundreds of thousands of their people in a famine and they still live the good life.  Because when you put people before profits you can do pretty much anything you want to do.  Because the only people that truly matter are the people with the army to enforce their rule.

But south of the border it’s different.  In South Korea life is good.  And they suffer no famines.  Because they embrace capitalism.  Some people live better than others.  Such as those in Gangnam.   The area of three districts in Seoul, South Korea.  Immortalized in the video Gangnam Style.  A lifestyle that simply does not exist in North Korea.  Unless you’re high up in the ruling regime.  Because when you put people before profits only those with an army behind them can afford to live the good life.

So if you want to see the difference between capitalism and socialism/communism look to the Korean peninsula.  Where you will see a vibrant South Korea full of happy people.  And an Orwellian North Korea where the people live in fear and are often cold and hungry.  Because they put people before profits.  Where it’s easy to imagine they have no possessions.  Because they have little.  Well, the people don’t.  But the ruling elite certainly lives Gangnam style.  Like all dictators do.

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The Politics of Jobs Data

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2013

Economics 101

The Party of the Working Man misrepresents the Jobs Data and Lies to the People

Figures don’t lie but liars figure.  Something Mark Twain is said to have said.  Mark Twain is, of course, Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  But we know him by his pen name.  Mark Twain.  And the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  But he was also a science buff.  And close friend of Nikola Tesla.  The father of AC power.  And he thought that most Congress people were liars and thieves.  With personal agendas.  Who will lie about facts and figures to get what they want.  And what do people in government want?  What all people in governments throughout time have wanted.  Wealth.  And power.

Every king, noble and aristocrat has acted selfishly in history to acquire wealth and power.  The privileged few.  Or one.  They held the power.  Traded favors.   And worked together.  Landowners amassed great wealth thanks to peasants working their land.  The king maintained the system that limited land ownership to a privileged few.  And the privileged few paid back the king with a share of their wealth.  By working together they exploited the masses to amass wealth.  So they could live the good life.  Comfortable in their wealth.  With the power to do whatever they wanted.  And this hasn’t changed over time.  Well, it has in one respect.  With the advent of democracy it is a little more difficult to do what you want when in elected office.

Today no one leaves Congress poor.  They are set for life.  With a generous pension.  And benefits most workers never get while gainfully employed.  And how do they do this?  The same way that kings, nobles and aristocrats have always acquired wealth.  By using political power to exploit the masses.  And the key to this is growing government as large as possible.  To give them that power.  And the ability to grant favors.  Throwing a few handouts to the peasants to win their love and admiration.  Thus pleasing enough of the electorate to win elections.  But the policies they use to make this happen have a major drawback.  They are anti-business.  And kill jobs.  Putting people out of work.  Which can be a problem when you’re the party of the working man.  And working woman.  So you have to at times misrepresent the jobs data.  And lie to the people.

The United States and Kim Jong Un have an Obesity Problem while the North Korean People suffer Famine

History has shown that low taxes and limited government grow economies.  This is what made the United States the number one economic power in the world.  Which was able to happen because it happened before the era of Big Government in the United States.  Right now there are emerging economies in the world going through a similar phase.  And their stellar economic growth will sputter out once the size of their governments grow.  Just like they have in many advanced economies that have transitioned into a social democracy.  For there is nothing that stamps out economic growth like higher taxes and greater regulatory costs.  Which is why the Soviet Union, the countries behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, The People’s Republic of China (under Mao), North Korea, Cuba, etc., have never been great economic powers.  Instead these countries that practiced fairness and redistributive policies suffered some of the most abject poverty and the lowest standards of living.  Not to mention having some of the most brutal and oppressive police states to keep their people from fleeing their social utopias.

But when it came to economic production these nations all lied to their people.  If you listened to the Soviet propaganda machine communism had won.  There was no way free market capitalism could match the managed communist economy.  They were growing bumper crops.  Their factories were putting out more goods than they could use.  And life was just peachy in the Soviet police state.  A lot of people in the West believed this.  And fought to undermine capitalism so they, too, could install socialist utopias in the West.  But the people living in those socialist utopias had a little more trouble believing the lies.  For they were waiting hours in lines to buy soap and toilet paper.  They saw stores with empty shelves.  And stores with shelves full of things no one wanted to buy.  They had to wait years before it was their turn to buy a car.  Or get an apartment.  And forever speak in hushed tones for fear the secret police might hear them utter some dissatisfaction of the socialist system.  Lest they disappear to some reeducation camp in Siberia.

And while the people suffered those in power did not.  In socialism everyone was equal.  But like George Orwell said in Animal Farm, some were more equal than others.  North Korea suffers from recurring famine.  And depends on food imports to prevent future famines.  So your average North Korean is not going to have an obesity problem.  While the United States suffers an obesity crisis because their people eat too much food North Korea suffers through recurring famines where people starve to death.  But you know who isn’t starving to death?  Kim Jong Un.  The new ruler of North Korea.  Who not only appears to be well fed.  But even looks obese.  And this in a country that suffers from recurring famines.  And it’s been the same throughout history.  Those champions of the people always lived better than the people.  For those in the inner party in the Soviet Union went to the front of the line when it came to cars and apartments.

Kings, Nobles, Aristocrats and those in the Federal Government act Selfishly to acquire Wealth and Power

This is why people want political power.  Because it is a pathway to wealth.  Especially for those people who don’t have the ability to create wealth on their own.  Like a small business owner.  So they need to use political power.  Favor.  Privilege.  And deceit.  Which is an important tool for today’s politician’s in a democracy.  Deceit.  Such as when they figure with the economic figures.  The Obama administration has implemented some of the most business unfriendly policies that have just stamped out all economic growth.  Which is why we have been wallowing in a jobless recovery following the Great Recession.  While some would even say the Great Recession lingers on.  Despite what the economic data says.  For they have little faith in the numbers anymore.  For with every jobs report the Obama administration highlights the new jobs the economy created.  And how even though the numbers could be better we are definitely on the right path.  As the unemployment rate continues to fall.  Dropping below 8% just in time for the 2012 election.  As no president ever won reelection with an unemployment rate above 8%.  So it was rather convenient it fell just in time for the election.  Perhaps a little bit too convenient.  Especially when you look at the other economic numbers (see Table A-15. Alternative measures of labor underutilization and Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey).

U3 U6 Civilian Labor Force

The U3 unemployment rate is the official unemployment rate.  Which fell to 7.6% in March.  Yet another improvement.  But the U3 unemployment rate doesn’t count everyone who can’t find a full time job.  The U6 unemployment rate counts more people who can’t find a full-time job.  And it fell to 13.8% in March.  Which is an improvement.  But the number of people who can’t find a full time job is still in double digits.  And has moved little from around 14%.  One thing both the U3 and the U6 numbers have in common is that they have changed little in the last 6 months.  While the number of people in the civilian labor force has changed.  A lot.  So one of these numbers doesn’t appear to agree with the other two.  For if the unemployment rate was steady one would think the number of people in the civilian labor force would be steady, too.  Which makes one question the accuracy of the official unemployment rate.  And the constant reports of how the economy is improving.  How it’s on the right path.  As they talk about all the new jobs their policies have created.  Despite the stubbornly high unemployment numbers.  But if we look at that job creation and the changes in the size of the civilian labor force we get a different picture of that improving economy (see Employment Situation Archived News Releases).

Jobs Added Change in Civilian Labor Force

The latest jobs report shows 88,000 new jobs added to the economy.  Less than projected.  And a bit of a disappointment to those in the ‘the economy is on the right path’ crowd.  But they still find solace in the fact that the economy added jobs.  Just as it has for the previous 5 months.  If you add this job creation up during this 6-month period it totals 953,000 new jobs.  That’s about 1 million new jobs.  Not a strong recovery.  But not too shabby.  But if we look at the change in the civilian labor force we don’t see 1 million new jobs.  Over the same 6-month period we see a net LOSS of 28,000 people from the civilian labor force.  Which agrees more with the reality of the current economy.  And the U6 unemployment rate.  It’s bad.  People can’t find a full-time job.  And it’s because of the anti-business policies of the Obama administration.  But for the past 4 years or so they have massaged the jobs data to lead us to believe that they were creating jobs when they were actually destroying jobs.  Why?  Because kings, nobles, aristocrats and those in the federal government act selfishly to acquire wealth and power.

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North Korea uploads YouTube Video showing Missiles Raining Down on New York despite President Obama not being George W. Bush

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 9th, 2013

Week in Review

George W. Bush included North Korea in his Axis of Evil.  Because they were a Stalinist regime with nuclear ambitions.  Who oppressed her people.  Even starving them to death in the occasional famine.  But that was the cowboy days of George W. Bush.  Who made the world hate us with his swaggering and bullying ways.  President Obama was going to make the world love us once again.  Especially our enemies.  By simply talking to them.  So here we are.  Just finishing our fourth year under President Obama.  Who changed the way our enemies think about us (see North Korea ‘dream’ video shows U.S. city under missile attack by Dylan Stableford posted 2/5/2013 on Yahoo! News).

In what appears to be a provocative PR stunt, a bizarre video uploaded to YouTube by North Korea over the weekend shows a dream sequence that includes a U.S. city resembling New York under an apparent missile attack.

The video, produced by North Korea’s official website, Uriminzokkiri, begins with a young man imagining himself aboard a North Korean space shuttle that circles the earth, pausing to zoom in on a unified Korea…

Near the end of the dream sequence, the imagined U.S. city—including what appears to be the Empire State Building—is shown in flames. (The attack footage appears to have been taken from the video game “Modern Warfare 3.”)

“Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” reads a caption, translated by The Guardian. “It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze…”

The video arrives just days after North Korea threatened to retaliate against the U.S. for what it called a double standard stemming from a recent rocket launch by South Korea, which the U.S. said had no military intent…

On Saturday, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman did not elaborate on the threatened retaliation. But according to the Associated Press, Pyongyang recently threatened to conduct its third nuclear test in response to what it calls U.S. hostility.

Did North Korea not get the memo about President Obama becoming president in 2008?  And getting reelected in 2012?  They’re supposed to love us now.  Not threaten us with nuclear tests.  And missiles attacks.  I’m just not feeling the love here.

Perhaps George W. Bush was correct in his foreign policy after all.  And governed like he was wearing big-boy pants.  Like an adult who understands the world.  Not as a child-like liberal with the idealism of a Sixties’ hippy.  For it turns out ‘make love not war’ is not an effective foreign policy.  For there are states out there that just hate us.  And want to rain nuclear missiles down on our cities.  Unless we tremble at their military prowess.  And give them food aid so their people won’t die from yet another famine.

One thing, though, most people probably like in that video was a unified Korea.  Though not in quite the way the North Korean rulers imagine a unified Korea.  One in which the people of South Korea are brought down to the level of those in the North.  But one in which the people in North Korea are brought up to the level of those in the South.  A unified Korea free of oppression.  And free of famine.  This is the dream we have of a unified Korea.

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North Korea threatens the United States with Nuclear War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 26th, 2013

Week in Review

For awhile there we had hope that Kim Jong Un might not be like his dad.  Kim Jong Il.   That maybe North Korea would change.  Maybe loosen up a bit.  And not be all about famine and nuclear weapons.  But it appears that the new Kim Jong is as bad as the old Kim Jong.  Perhaps even worse (see China calls for talks after North Korean threat by Barbara Demick posted 1/24/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

With North Korea openly threatening the United States with nuclear weapons, China called Thursday for a new round of diplomacy and appears to be growing increasingly frustrated with its longtime ally.

Beijing’s calls for intervention come amid a torrent of belligerent language from Pyongyang, angered by a United Nations resolution earlier in the week expanding sanctions over its missile and nuclear program.

The latest escalation came Thursday when Pyongyang lashed out at the United States, which it called the “archenemy of the Korean people.’’

“We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States,” North Korea’s National Defense Commission said in a statement released by the official news service.

“Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words,” it said.

Not true.  The United States likes the people in Korea.  North and South.  It’s the government in the North that the United States has a problem with.  As do the good people suffering in North Korea.  Who would like to escape the oppression of Kim Jong Un.  And to know life without hunger.  To have a home.  Filled with the modern conveniences of life.

The Americans aren’t a threat to the people in North Korea.  They are a threat to the regime that oppresses these people.  We oppose the oppressive regime.  As we oppose regimes everywhere that oppress their people.  We are their friend.  And they know that.  Which is why the United States is the archenemy of North Korea’s ruling regime.  Because we give their people hope.  The last thing Kim Jong Un wants his people to have.

It is the inevitable destiny that the Korean peninsula reunites.  But as the Germans learned at the end of the Cold War this is not easy.  And is costly.  Once the regime falls, and it will fall, South Korea will have a humanitarian crisis on their hands.  China, too.  Millions of people who need jobs.  And food.  Which is probably why China is in no hurry to see Kim Jong Un go.  Even though they’re losing their patience with their longtime ally.  What we need now is a plan to deal with post-Communist North Korea.

North Korea needs massive infrastructure investments.  If you look at the Korean peninsula coastline at night you can tell where South Korea ends and North Korea begins.  For there will be light and life in South Korea after dark.  And only darkness in North Korea.  Someone has to build up that infrastructure.  Someone has to build housing.  Someone has to build the goods to go in those homes.  And someone has to build the factories to build those goods.  North Korea has a lot of people.  And a lot of things that need to be done.  All they need is a plan.  So they can hit the ground running.  To speed up the unification process.  While minimizing the pain of unification.  And the cost South Korea will have to bear.

Or we can continue this dance forever.  Sanctions.  Nuclear threats.  And aid.  We try to punish them for advancing their nuclear program.  They threaten something nuclear.  We negotiate away the nuclear threat in exchange for more aid.  The same old song and dance we’ve been doing for decades.  It’s gotten so old that even the Chinese are tiring of it.  Perhaps suggesting they may be open to a little regime change.

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