Some thoughts about Churchill, who is under attack these days.

I am currently reading Andrew Roberts’ excellent biography of Churchill.

It does a better job with his early life than the other biographies I have read. I am 2/3 through it and have not yet reached Pearl Harbor so the emphasis is clear. I have reflected on a couple of items, not necessarily about Churchill but about his times.

Churchill was an observer in the Boer War but had some adventures, which included being captured and escaping from a POW camp.

For example, had Cecil Rhodes and the British gold miners not invaded the Transvaal would the Boer War have occurred and, if it had not occurred, would Germany have built its High Seas Fleet?

Now the Transvaal Republic might, like the Orange Free State, have simply remained as a small shut-in self-governing state without creating any disturbance. But the Transvaalers were the sons of the stalwarts who fifty years before had sought to escape from all British control. They looked upon South Africa as a Dutch not a British inheritance; they resented the limitations imposed on them by the British, and their experience had not taught them any respect for the British Empire. Their president, Paul Kruger, had himself gone on the great trek in his boyhood. It is not possible to doubt that President Kruger dreamed his own dreams of a United South Africa, but a South Africa under a Dutch flag, not under the Union Jack; though how far those dreams were shared by others is not equally clear. But whatever his ambitions outside the Transvaal, within the borders of the republic he intended to go his own way.

But then gold was discovered in Transvaal.

In 1885, however, the discovery was made of valuable goldfields within the territories of the republic; aliens, Uitlanders as they were called, for the most part British subjects, whatever their actual nationality might be, poured into the Transvaal to exploit the mines. The Boer government had no objection to the exploitation of the mines on its own terms, which did not include the concession of citizenship to the Uitlanders till after a very prolonged residence. All the burdens of citizenship were laid on the Uitlanders without its privileges. The Uitlanders began to feel that they had no security for justice, and to demand approximately the opportunities for acquiring citizenship in the Transvaal which were readily accorded to the Transvaaler who migrated into British territory.

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An interesting analysis of the 2008 housing collapse.

The 2008 economic collapse gave us ten years of economic malaise and the presidency of Barack Obama.

Why did it happen ? I have been a fan of Nicole Gelinas’ book, “After the Fall”

I wrote a long review of it at Amazon, which is still a favorite of readers.

Now, we have a very interesting new analysis, which blames housing almost exclusively.

Looked at in terms of the popular narrative that there was a “financial crisis,” readers shouldn’t be fooled. There was nothing financial about what happened ten years ago. The “crisis” was made in Washington. Left alone, economies and markets never go haywire when natural market forces are putting out to pasture the weak, only to redirect the previously underutilized resources of the weak to higher uses.

He makes an interesting point, which tracks with my own observations.

a booming housing market of the kind experienced in the ‘70s and ‘00s is not a sign of economic vitality. Getting into specifics, a home purchase is not an investment. It won’t render the buyer more productive, open foreign markets for same, or morph into capital meant to develop something productivity-enhancing like software. Housing is consumption, that’s it. On the other hand, investment is what powers economic growth, so the very notion that a reorientation of precious capital away from consumptive goods and into production would foster economic crisis is for those who presume to comment on the economy to reveal how little they understand what they’re writing about. The feverish consumption of housing was what was holding the economy down, which means a reversal of what weighed on the economy would logically be good for growth. If so, markets would have discounted housing’s correction positively.

I moved to Orange County in 1972 to begin my medical practice. I already owned two homes in South Pasadena which I had difficulty selling after the move. There was no appreciation of housing. By 1975, when a bear market caused a malpractice insurance crisis for doctors, my 1972 house had tripled in value. The South Pasadena house I finally sold in 1972 for the same ($35,000) price I had paid for it in 1969, was by 1979 for sale for $595,000.

What did happen in both the 1970s and 2000s is that the dollar substantially declined vis-à-vis foreign currencies, commodities, and seemingly everything else. This matters because in both the ‘70s and ‘00s, gold, oil, wheat, land, rare stamps, art, housing, and just about every other kind of hard asset performed well. Well, of course. When money is losing value, the hard assets least vulnerable to currency devaluation perform best. In a repeat of the ‘70s, housing and other commodities proved a safe haven in the ‘00s from the U.S. Treasury’s policies in favor of a devalued dollar.

I remember well the rush to buy gold and antiques as hedges against the post 1974 inflation. An elderly woman in Oceanside California got wide publicity for her “crazy” decision to invest her money in buying four Rolls Royces and putting them in storage. She paid about $50,000 each. Five years later they were worth about $200,000 each.

Then came 2008.

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Ancient DNA, Genetics and Race

UPDATE: Greg Cochrane is doing chapter by chapter discussion of the Reich book so I will just link to his discussion. This week it is the chapter on India.

On the whole, people from North India have more ANI ancestry, while people in southern Indian have more ASI ancestry. The proportions generally range from 80% ANI to 80% ASI. There are actually a few populations that are close to unmixed ANI (Kalash) or unmixed ASI (tribal populations in South India such as Palliyar, Ulladan, Malayan, and Adiyan). Groups that speak Indo-European languages typically have more ANI, while those speaking Dravidian have more ASI. Populations (including castes) with higher social status generally have more ANI ancestry. The Y-chromosome and mtDNA patterns show that ANI contributed a disproportionate fraction of male ancestry, while ASI accounts for the great majority of female ancestry – again, much like Latin America.

The Y chromosome suggests male ancestry in a situation where the male conquerer mates with female conquered tribes.

The Brahmins have the highest proportion of ANI or Indo European genetic material.

I don’t know how many here are interested in this but the new book by David Reich may prove to be as revolutionary as Murray’s “The Bell Curve”.

I’m reading the new book, “Who We Are and How We Got Here”.

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Civil war or just uncivil society?

It seems that at least once a week I read an article predicting that the extreme political divisions in our country will lead to an actual civil war. “The country hasn’t been this divided since 1860!” is a common refrain.

Divided, yes. But leading to war? I don’t think so.

Those who actually know all about our Civil War may wish to correct me; I admit that discussion of this topic in my Georgia high school was so frequent and so prolonged that I did my best to sink into a coma whenever the subject came up. Even so, I think I grasped a few general points about that war which differentiate it from the present situation.

(1) The war was driven by one major moral/economic dispute, even if the two sides described it differently. (North: “Slavery is wrong.” South: “Our economy depends on slavery. Besides, states’ rights.”)
(2) The opposing sides were (mostly) geographically divided.
(3) There were, on both sides, people who were willing to actually fight with something more lethal than a sarcastic Tweet.

Now look at the current mess.

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Why does George Soros try to destabilize the West ?

George Soros is a Hungarian born billionaire who seems to be funding a lot of malicious mischief around the world. Why ?

Soros was born in Hungary in 1930.

That Wiki article is very favorable to Soros and does not mention a few things.

There is considerable discussion of Soros’ role under the Nazis.

It has been alleged that he was a collaborator. Apparently, he did admit doing some things that could be criticized although the role of a 14 year old is pretty weak.

It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a — a very personal experience of evil.

KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this [Christian] protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

Mr. SOROS: Yes. That’s right. Yes.

KROFT: I mean, that’s — that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Mr. SOROS: Not — not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t — you don’t see the connection. But it was — it created no — no problem at all.

KROFT: No feeling of guilt?

Mr. SOROS: No.

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