Global Economics and You

 

GROUPS: Rich nations, poor nations, bankrupt nations, the rich, the poor

Investor Doug Casey has included China, Japan and the U.S. with Europe as economies which can ruin itself due to debt. That the world’s three largest national economies and the world’s largest trans-national economic bloc (the EU) all have monetary issues, it is good to imagine the worse-case scenario and how it may impact one’s personal lives. Some of this has been done by Louis James for Casey Research. He states:

What if the EU disintegrates and the US sinks back into recession? What will China do with all its productive capacity then? Some would be wasted – factories and luxury cars can both rust for lack of capital to maintain them – but the productive capacity would still exist. With the investment already made, my guess is that the cost of goods manufactured in China would plummet. Particularly with so many state-owned enterprises – for which jobs and production may become more important than profit – selling at no profit would be better than shutting down. The central committee may even see flooding the world with inexpensive products as a way to help China’s trading partners while helping themselves.

……

Remember that, unlike the US, the Chinese government is not borrowing money to build a network of high-speed trains across the country; it’s paying for it out of excess savings. On the household level, people who save 40% of their income every year could lose half their savings and still have a lot more net worth than the average, highly indebted American.

……

My point is that if China is in a bubble, and if it does pop, this system will still be here, as will all the new highways, houses, factories, etc. This is not a deeply indebted nation of lawyers and hairdressers, but a cash-rich nation building up its productive capacity. If growth here were cut in half, it would still be substantially greater than in the US or EU.

This assumes that there would not be some sort of economic calamity accelerating event such as a war or natural disaster. And what if the US dollar collapses and hyperinflation results (from printing more US dollars)? Since all nations are interconnected through (economic) globalization, it is in the best interest of all nations to have the largest economies as healthy as possible.

The EU

The ailing EU economies were derisively labelled PIGS for Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Italy was added to the list to form PIIGS.

The economic woe has led to:

And what of other nations?

Greg Mark reports the following for Spain:

Recently two noted Spanish economists were interviewed. One was always an optimist and one was always a pessimist. The optimist droned on and on about how bad things were in Spain, the dire situation with the regional debt, the huge problems overtaking the Spanish banks and the imminent collapse of the Spanish economy. In the end he said that the situation was so bad that the Spanish people were going to have to eat manure. The pessimist was shocked by the comments of his colleague who had never heard him speak in such a manner. When it was the pessimist’s turn to speak he said that he agreed with the optimist with one exception; the manure would soon run out.

DYNAMICS: So just what should the average Joe and Jane citizen be doing to protect themselves and their families from a worldwide economic recession and depression?

  • Minimize spending with Do It Yourself (DIY) products such as shampoo and toothpaste;
  • Only spend on essentials, return rashly purchased items if possible;
  • Minimize risk by paying off loans and credit card debt so the bank cannot repossess your home;
  • Create multiple backup plans for different scenarios such as for losing a job;
  • Intelligently investment by studying Gerald Celente, Robert Kiyosaki, Doug Casey and like-minded individuals who seem to be more knowledgeable;
  • Deferring costly investments such as tertiary education by opting for accredited online degrees, part-time degrees and/or cheaper credits from community colleges;
  • Have a backup career path especially one that enables you to live very basic such as farming;
  • Plant herbs in small buckets or pots so that they can be used fresh, positively impact your health and don’t cost as much as processed/packaged herbs;
  • Eat healthy and exercise to reduce health risk cost and the rising cost of toxic processed foods; and
  • Don’t expect politicians, economists or anyone to fix the problem soon, it may take some years before normalcy is achieved.

SOURCES:
Grant, Mark. 2012. The Reign in Spain May Soon Be Over. Zero Hedge. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/reign-spain-may-soon-be-over [accessed: 2012-07-24].

James, Louis. 2012. China, Metals and Your Money. Casey Research. http://www.caseyresearch.com/cdd/china-metals-and-your-money [accessed: 2012-07-24].

 

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Repost: Ethnocentric Studies

Ethnocentric Studies by Mike Adams

Ethnocentrism is under-rated. Most college students are exposed to the concept only if they take a course in Introductory Sociology or if they should chose to major in sociology. Even then, the concept of ethnocentrism is presented as an evil to be extinguished by fostering the value of anti-ethnocentrism.

For those who are not well-versed in the language of sociology, ethnocentrism refers to the tendency to judge other cultures by the standards of one’s own culture. Since this is a natural human tendency, the task of fostering anti-ethnocentrism is difficult, to say the least. But it is also self-defeating.

Technically speaking, sociologists form a sub-culture with their own set of values, beliefs, and practices. And they are the only sub-culture that is known to promote the value of anti-ethnocentrism. Therefore, when sociologists tell people of other cultures (non-sociologists) that it is bad to judge people of other cultures by the values of their own culture, they are doing just that: judging people of other cultures by the values of their own culture. In fact, the value they impose on others (anti-ethnocentrism) cannot be imposed without engaging in ethnocentrism. It is intellectual Onanism. It produces no fruit.

While anti-ethnocentrism fails the test of internal consistency, its greatest weakness is external. That is to say, it fails when applied to real-world problems – problems outside the realm of theory and abstract sociological jargon. Who can read about the Rape of Nanking or the Nazi Holocaust and remain convinced that we should somehow refrain from judging that which is self-evidently wrong?

Today’s college student is just as intellectually capable as yesterday’s college student. But he (and increasingly she) often suffers from moral atrophy. We need to combat this atrophy by exercising the natural moral reflex. It might not require a whole major in Ethnocentric Studies dedicated to teaching the upside of judging cultures like Nazi Germany. But we should at least consider a course called Introduction to Ethnocentrism. It should be a required course within the Department of Sociology so that no one actually graduates before fully appreciating the necessity of judging other cultures.

On March 7 of 1996, the day I became a former atheist, I had the unique experience of interviewing prisoners inside a filthy prison in Quito, Ecuador. I was appalled by the fact that the prison served rotten meat to prisoners after boiling it in large vats in order to make it edible. In fact, I was so appalled by what I saw that I wrote an expose for an academic human rights journal. In that article, I summarized numerous human rights abuses. Unfortunately, the editor of the journal was a sociologist who was more interested in defending the Ecuadorian culture than in defending the individuals being fed objectively rotten, sub-standard food.

Her name was Michelle Stone, then an Associate Professor of Sociology at Youngstown State University. She told me she liked the article and would publish it. Then she changed her mind and made its publication contingent: I had to remove the portion of the article criticizing the food given to the prisoners. Her exact words were “It isn’t nice to judge the foods of cultures other than your own.”

Eventually, Stone stepped down as editor of that journal. The next editor was forwarded an email from me showing that Stone had gone back on her word. Because he was a psychology professor, not a sociology professor, the new editor was able to recognize the absurdity of Stone’s anti-judgmental judgmentalism. So he over-ruled her and ran the article, which was later read by a congresswoman from Florida. After reading my article, the congresswoman flew down to Ecuador to negotiate the release of a woman who was stuck in an Ecuadorian prison and subjected to inhumane treatment.

It is sad when I reflect on that incident. An article that helped secure the release of an American woman held prisoner without due process almost did not see the light of day. And the sole reason for the delay in publication was that a sociologist had given the war on ethnocentrism greater priority than the war on human suffering. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in the intellectually and morally confused discipline of sociology.

Someone needs to teach future sociologists that the failure to impose judgment results in the failure to remedy injustice. Ironically, the ones most qualified to enlighten them come from a culture other than their own.

SOURCE: Adams, Mike. 2012. Ethnocentric Studies. Townhall. http://townhall.com/columnists/mikeadams/2012/08/17/ethnocentric_studies/page/full/ [accessed: 2012-08-20].

——————————————————————

Comment: While the author is going in the right direction, I don’t think he went far enough to describe how ethnocentrism can be used to properly compare systems. For instance, the Chinese are not traditionally known as innovators (though they have sporadically been in the past) but are stereotyped as improvers, adapting current technology and processes, sometimes after technological theft from the West. However, Western innovation can be seen as science and Chinese improvement as engineering. Neither is better than the other and they are complementary.

This still requires explaining why the Chinese seem to prefer improvement rather than innovation. One Indian professor on a Bloomberg program said that China has under-developed intellectual property (IP) protection making innovation unprofitable. Dan Breznitz blames the centralized government and culture systems for the lack of profitability for new innovation.

Assuming this is correct, the Chinese may become simultaneous innovators and improvers if and when IP laws and enforcement are implemented with a subsequent culture change. The need is thus to look at ethnocentrism objectively but ethnocentrism by nature doesn’t assist in this process. That’s not to say that it cannot be done, just that the process should be methodical, truthful, logical and open for discussion and/or debate.

Repost: Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View

GROUPS: heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, social leftists, social rightists

Robert Oscar Lopez has a unique view about being a minority (bisexual) of a minority (LGBT) claiming that homosexuals are behaving exclusionary towards bisexuals. He also lists non-religious reasons for being socially conservative while defending the controversial study of homosex parenting by sociologist Mark Regnerus. If you read carefully between the lines, there is much for rumination on normative heterosexality, subversive homosexuality and more importantly, conservatism and sidelined bisexuality.

Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View

by Robert Oscar Lopez

August 6, 2012

The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them—I know, because I have been there. The last thing we should do is make them feel guilty if the strain gets to them and they feel strange.

Between 1973 and 1990, when my beloved mother passed away, she and her female romantic partner raised me. They had separate houses but spent nearly all their weekends together, with me, in a trailer tucked discreetly in an RV park 50 minutes away from the town where we lived. As the youngest of my mother’s biological children, I was the only child who experienced childhood without my father being around.

After my mother’s partner’s children had left for college, she moved into our house in town. I lived with both of them for the brief time before my mother died at the age of 53. I was 19. In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today.

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused. When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

My peers learned all the unwritten rules of decorum and body language in their homes; they understood what was appropriate to say in certain settings and what wasn’t; they learned both traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine social mechanisms.

Even if my peers’ parents were divorced, and many of them were, they still grew up seeing male and female social models. They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive from female figures. These are stereotypes, of course, but stereotypes come in handy when you inevitably leave the safety of your lesbian mom’s trailer and have to work and survive in a world where everybody thinks in stereotypical terms, even gays.

I had no male figure at all to follow, and my mother and her partner were both unlike traditional fathers or traditional mothers. As a result, I had very few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated others easily. Gay people who grew up in straight parents’ households may have struggled with their sexual orientation; but when it came to the vast social universe of adaptations not dealing with sexuality—how to act, how to speak, how to behave—they had the advantage of learning at home. Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home.

My home life was not traditional nor conventional. I suffered because of it, in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index. Both nervous and yet blunt, I would later seem strange even in the eyes of gay and bisexual adults who had little patience for someone like me. I was just as odd to them as I was to straight people.

Life is hard when you are strange. Even now, I have very few friends and often feel as though I do not understand people because of the unspoken gender cues that everyone around me, even gays raised in traditional homes, takes for granted. Though I am hard-working and a quick learner, I have trouble in professional settings because co-workers find me bizarre.

In terms of sexuality, gays who grew up in traditional households benefited from at least seeing some kind of functional courtship rituals around them. I had no clue how to make myself attractive to girls. When I stepped outside of my mothers’ trailer, I was immediately tagged as an outcast because of my girlish mannerisms, funny clothes, lisp, and outlandishness. Not surprisingly, I left high school as a virgin, never having had a girlfriend, instead having gone to four proms as a wisecracking sidekick to girls who just wanted someone to chip in for a limousine.

When I got to college, I set off everyone’s “gaydar” and the campus LGBT group quickly descended upon me to tell me it was 100-percent certain I must be a homosexual. When I came out as bisexual, they told everyone I was lying and just wasn’t ready to come out of the closet as gay yet. Frightened and traumatized by my mother’s death, I dropped out of college in 1990 and fell in with what can only be called the gay underworld. Terrible things happened to me there.

It was not until I was twenty-eight that I suddenly found myself in a relationship with a woman, through coincidences that shocked everyone who knew me and surprised even myself. I call myself bisexual because it would take several novels to explain how I ended up “straight” after almost thirty years as a gay man. I don’t feel like dealing with gay activists skewering me the way they go on search-and-destroy missions against ex-gays, “closet cases,” or “homocons.”

Though I have a biography particularly relevant to gay issues, the first person who contacted me to thank me for sharing my perspective on LGBT issues was Mark Regnerus, in an email dated July 17, 2012. I was not part of his massive survey, but he noticed a comment I’d left on a website about it and took the initiative to begin an email correspondence.

Forty-one years I’d lived, and nobody—least of all gay activists—had wanted me to speak honestly about the complicated gay threads of my life. If for no other reason than this, Mark Regnerus deserves tremendous credit—and the gay community ought to be crediting him rather than trying to silence him.

Regnerus’s study identified 248 adult children of parents who had same-sex romantic relationships. Offered a chance to provide frank responses with the hindsight of adulthood, they gave reports unfavorable to the gay marriage equality agenda. Yet the results are backed up by an important thing in life called common sense: Growing up different from other people is difficult and the difficulties raise the risk that children will develop maladjustments or self-medicate with alcohol and other dangerous behaviors. Each of those 248 is a human story, no doubt with many complexities.

Like my story, these 248 people’s stories deserve to be told. The gay movement is doing everything it can to make sure that nobody hears them. But I care more about the stories than the numbers (especially as an English professor), and Regnerus stumbled unwittingly on a narrative treasure chest.

So why the code of silence from LGBT leaders? I can only speculate from where I’m sitting. I cherish my mother’s memory, but I don’t mince words when talking about how hard it was to grow up in a gay household. Earlier studies examined children still living with their gay parents, so the kids were not at liberty to speak, governed as all children are by filial piety, guilt, and fear of losing their allowances. For trying to speak honestly, I’ve been squelched, literally, for decades.

The latest attempt at trying to silence stories (and data) such as mine comes from Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who gave an interview to Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he said—and I quote—that Mark Regnerus’s study was “bullshit.” Bartlett’s article continues:

Among the problems Sherkat identified is the paper’s definition of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers”—an aspect that has been the focus of much of the public criticism. A woman could be identified as a “lesbian mother” in the study if she had had a relationship with another woman at any point after having a child, regardless of the brevity of that relationship and whether or not the two women raised the child as a couple.

Sherkat said that fact alone in the paper should have “disqualified it immediately” from being considered for publication.

The problem with Sherkat’s disqualification of Regnerus’s work is a manifold chicken-and-egg conundrum. Though Sherkat uses the term “LGBT” in the same interview with Bartlett, he privileges that L and G and discriminates severely against the B, bisexuals.

Where do children of LGBT parents come from? If the parents are 100-percent gay or lesbian, then the chances are that the children were conceived through surrogacy or insemination, or else adopted. Those cases are such a tiny percentage of LGBT parents, however, that it would be virtually impossible to find more than a half-dozen in a random sampling of tens of thousands of adults.

Most LGBT parents are, like me, and technically like my mother, “bisexual”—the forgotten B. We conceived our children because we engaged in heterosexual intercourse. Social complications naturally arise if you conceive a child with the opposite sex but still have attractions to the same sex. Sherkat calls these complications disqualifiable, as they are corrupting the purity of a homosexual model of parenting.

I would posit that children raised by same-sex couples are naturally going to be more curious about and experimental with homosexuality without necessarily being pure of any attraction to the opposite sex. Hence they will more likely fall into the bisexual category, as did I—meaning that the children of LGBT parents, once they are young adults, are likely to be the first ones disqualified by the social scientists who now claim to advocate for their parents.

Those who are 100-percent gay may view bisexuals with a mix of disgust and envy. Bisexual parents threaten the core of the LGBT parenting narrative—we do have a choice to live as gay or straight, and we do have to decide the gender configuration of the household in which our children will grow up. While some gays see bisexuality as an easier position, the fact is that bisexual parents bear a more painful weight on their shoulders. Unlike homosexuals, we cannot write off our decisions as things forced on us by nature. We have no choice but to take responsibility for what we do as parents, and live with the guilt, regret, and self-criticism forever.

Our children do not arrive with clean legal immunity. As a man, though I am bisexual, I do not get to throw away the mother of my child as if she is a used incubator. I had to help my wife through the difficulties of pregnancy and postpartum depression. When she is struggling with discrimination against mothers or women at a sexist workplace, I have to be patient and listen. I must attend to her sexual needs. Once I was a father, I put aside my own homosexual past and vowed never to divorce my wife or take up with another person, male or female, before I died. I chose that commitment in order to protect my children from dealing with harmful drama, even as they grow up to be adults. When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever.

Sherkat’s assessment of Regnerus’s work shows a total disregard for the emotional and sexual labor that bisexual parents contribute to their children. Bisexual parents must wrestle with their duties as parents while still contending with the temptations to enter into same-sex relationships. The turbulence documented in Mark Regnerus’s study is a testament to how hard that is. Rather than threatening, it is a reminder of the burden I carry and a goad to concern myself first and foremost with my children’s needs, not my sexual desires.

The other chicken-and-egg problem of Sherkat’s dismissal deals with conservative ideology. Many have dismissed my story with four simple words: “But you are conservative.” Yes, I am. How did I get that way? I moved to the right wing because I lived in precisely the kind of anti-normative, marginalized, and oppressed identity environment that the left celebrates: I am a bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult. I’m perceptive enough to notice that liberal social policies don’t actually help people in those conditions. Especially damning is the liberal attitude that we shouldn’t be judgmental about sex. In the Bronx gay world, I cleaned out enough apartments of men who’d died of AIDS to understand that resistance to sexual temptation is central to any kind of humane society. Sex can be hurtful not only because of infectious diseases but also because it leaves us vulnerable and more likely to cling to people who don’t love us, mourn those who leave us, and not know how to escape those who need us but whom we don’t love. The left understands none of that. That’s why I am conservative.

So yes, I am conservative and support Regnerus’s findings. Or is it that Regnerus’s findings revisit the things that made me conservative in the first place? Sherkat must figure that one out.

Having lived for forty-one years as a strange man, I see it as tragically fitting that the first instinct of experts and gay activists is to exclude my life profile as unfit for any “data sample,” or as Dr. Sherkat calls it, “bullshit.” So the game has gone for at least twenty-five years. For all the talk about LGBT alliances, bisexuality falls by the wayside, thanks to scholars such as Sherkat. For all the chatter about a “queer” movement, queer activists are just as likely to restrict their social circles to professionalized, normal people who know how to throw charming parties, make small talk, and blend in with the Art Deco furniture.

I thank Mark Regnerus. Far from being “bullshit,” his work is affirming to me, because it acknowledges what the gay activist movement has sought laboriously to erase, or at least ignore. Whether homosexuality is chosen or inbred, whether gay marriage gets legalized or not, being strange is hard; it takes a mental toll, makes it harder to find friends, interferes with professional growth, and sometimes leads one down a sodden path to self-medication in the form of alcoholism, drugs, gambling, antisocial behavior, and irresponsible sex. The children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them—I know, because I have been there. The last thing we should do is make them feel guilty if the strain gets to them and they feel strange. We owe them, at the least, a dose of honesty. Thank you, Mark Regnerus, for taking the time to listen.

Robert Lopez is assistant professor of English at California State University-Northridge. He is the author of Colorful Conservative: American Conversations with the Ancients from Wheatley to Whitman. This year he will be publishing novels he wrote in the 1990s and 2000s.

SOURCE: Lopez, Robert. 2012. Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View. Public Discourse. http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/08/6065 [accessed: 2012-08-12].

Jonah Hex (2010)

GROUPS: Africans, Americans, Chinese, Euro-Americans and Europeans.

See nomenclature for terminology.

  1. Violent, hetero-sexualized European male Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) has an American wife and a son (uni-directional American miscegenation theme, European masculinization theme)
  2. For absolutely no reason, American shamans save Hex’s life twice giving him necromantic power (the spiritist American theme)
  3. African male named Smith (Lance Reddick) helps Hex with obtaining ammunition (token African theme, bagger vance theme)
  4. European prostitute Lilah (Megan Fox) is actually a Euro-American named Tallula with an American mother (uni-directional American miscegenation theme, mestizo sexualizing theme)
  5. Stephen S. Chen is credited as the “old Chinese guy” (token Chinaman theme)

Even the comic book story of Jonah Hex has two instances of the uni-directional American miscegenation theme (White Fawn, Tall Bird), the jealous/angry American male theme, the cheating American male theme, the pinkface saviour theme, the uni-directional Asian miscegenation theme, the bait with racism: switch with stereotype theme, and the dead Asian male theme.

DYNAMICS: Hollywood will re-hash racial stereotypes to maintain Eurocentric supremacy. Hollywood is thus a form of mental colonization and needs to be changed or dismantled.