We told you so!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Stocks Tumble Around the World on Greek Crisis
European stocks and bonds, as well as the euro, fall as Greece shuts banks and implements capital controls
By Tommy Stubbington and Josie Cox |Updated June 29, 2015 8:08 a.m. ET

A sudden deterioration in Greece’s debt crisis shook global markets Monday.

Stocks around the world tumbled after a weekend breakdown in negotiations between the Greek government and its creditors left the country teetering on the brink of default and pushed it closer than ever to an exit from the eurozone.

Still, there was little sign of outright panic in the market. European stocks recovered slightly from early losses. Bonds in Italy, Spain and Portugal—highly indebted countries seen as vulnerable to the Greek crisis—also pared losses after initial sharp falls.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 2.4% midway through the session, wiping out most of the previous week’s gains on optimism that a deal would be done. Greece’s stock market will remain closed this week along with the country’s banks.

We’ve said it before: trying to rescue Greece was just throwing good money after bad, and this effort should have been abandoned long ago.

The European Union should just let go here, let Greece fall by the wayside. If they do not, then the voters of Germany and France and the other better-off European countries should vote out the political leaders who wasted so many of their tax euros.

In the end, the Greeks will have to live within the means supported by their production; that is true of every nation, of every people. Letting the Greeks suffer the consequences of their own profligacy might, might! serve as a warning to other nations to get their economic acts together before they fall into the same trap.

Yorkshire called it, years ago

Whilst looking back through some old Common Sense Political Thought articles, I found this sadly prescient one from Yorkshire, from 4½ years ago:

Census: Fewer than 10 percent of (Baltimore) city households are nuclear families. What could possibly go wrong???
Posted by Yorkshire on 19 December 2010, 10:42 pm

Census: Fewer than 10 percent of city households are nuclear families

Before moving with her boyfriend of three years to a Hampden home this September, Brandy Washington lived with two other women, both young professionals in their 20s, just like her.

Delaying marriage is a lifestyle that has suited the 27-year-old. She and her boyfriend wanted to “try things out” and live together before becoming more serious — a far cry from her high-school-sweetheart parents, who married right out of college.

Almost all of her peers, Washington said, are living the same way, either with friends or a long-term partner. They have few serious personal commitments, and are free of social stigmas pressuring them to get married and have children on a specific timeline.

“Living in Baltimore, it’s definitely more liberal than other parts of the country,” said Washington, who works in marketing. “It’s nice to have camaraderie and people who are going through some of the same situations as you are. It’s a great way to prolong your youth as well.”

New U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that her choice is becoming more common here. Baltimore and Washington are among a handful of U.S. localities where fewer than 10 percent of households are made up of married couples and their children. In the city, 8.6 percent of households are such nuclear families, compared to 23 percent statewide and nationwide.

Young adults like Washington and her friends may be fueling the changes. Since 2000, the census data indicate, Baltimore has seen a jump in the number of people living apart from family. Just over half of all city households consist of families of any kind, a decline of 5 percent since 2000. Meanwhile, an increasing proportion of households consist of people living alone.

“There’s a perception that what you do after you graduate isn’t [getting] married,” said Peter Darrell, 26, who works in commercial real estate and shares a home with his brother and two roommates in Patterson Park. “You go and make yourself into a person, you have an adventure, you do something, and then you go get married.”

A lot more Here:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-census-households-20101217,0,2775625.story

The article Yorkshire linked was a giddily positive one, one talking about the young urban professionals, the hipsters and the like. Why, they weren’t really problems, but just young adults having some fun and finding out who they were before they settled down. The dark side of the story was further down:

The low proportion of nuclear families in Baltimore is also influenced by other factors, including the large number of families led by single women. And the trend is happening all across the state, from rural Allegany County to Southern Maryland. In almost every locality, the figures show a smaller share of households are made of nuclear families than a decade ago.

We noted previously a graph from The Wall Street Journal:

The graph tells us what we already knew: families that are organized around a married couple are far more financially successful. But telling normal people that they should get married and have children, because that has proved to be the strongest economic model in all of human history, why that’s not something that the left can say, because it shatters their entire cultural construct, shatters the notion that traditional marriage1 is just one of many legitimate and functional family arrangements.

And thus, the problems of the Charm City that came to everyone’s attention following the death of the criminal Freddie Gray had already been foreseen. What happened in Baltimore a few weeks ago will be repeated in Chicago or Philadelphia or Oakland, in whichever city the next black hoodlum is killed by the police or dies in police custody,2 in a city in which the traditional family arrangement has been largely abandoned for some other far less economically efficient “structure.”

For all of recorded human history, we have had marriage,3 and every society of which we have any knowledge at all has demonstrated that marriage is the organizing principle behind the societal structure. But for the left, why sexual freedom and doing your own thing, why they’re just fine, and certainly just as good as traditional marriage. It’s just too bad that the cold, hard statistics prove them wrong.
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  1. Meaning: the legal marriage of one man and one woman; The First Street Journal does not accept the notion that two homosexuals can legitimately be married to each other.
  2. Why is it that when nine truly decent black Americans were murdered by a white punk in Charleston, there were no riots, were no violent protests? Does #BlackLivesMatter apply only to thugs?
  3. Some of those cultures allowed polygamy, with one man allowed to have more than one wife, but while the wives were each married to one husband, they were not somehow married to each other. Even in these societies, few men had more than one wife, because only the wealthier men could afford it.

Rule 5 Blogging: They left the lipstick at home!

It’s the weekend, and time, once again, for our version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacy McCain described as putting pictures of pretty women somewhat deshabille, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Bar Refaeli in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. Today: They don’t have to wear makeup to do their jobs!

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN – JUNE 25: U.S. Army Captain Brandi Faudree from Charlie Co. Sixth Battalion, 101st Airborne Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Shadow monitors a patient while enroute to the hospital in a MEDEVAC helicopter June 25, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. As combat operations begin to escalate near Kandahar, the 101st Airborne MEDEVAC unit transports casualties of war as well as sick and injured local residents. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: They left the lipstick at home!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

I noted earlier that the Supreme Court’s decision stating that homosexual couples have a legal right to “marry” could put a serious burden on churches which actually hold to the word of God that homosexual activity is completely sinful, but I’d point out here that there is more: churches and other institutions which recognize marriage for the purposes of health insurance or other benefits, and even income tax withholding1 will now have to recognize homosexual “marriages” as real marriages for those purposes.

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  1. Line C on the Form W-4 Withholding is the place where an employee indicates whether he wishes to list his “spouse” as an income tax exemption.

We called it, seven years ago

From the old site, over seven years ago:

Same-sex marriage: a fait accompli
Posted by  on 2 June 2008, 6:57 am

As I noted in a comment on Pandagon,1 I think that same-sex marriage is pretty much of a done deal.

Politically, I think that same-sex marriage is inevitable. Even if the California initiative passes, it could not invalidate any same-sex marriages performed and recognized by the Golden State prior to passage; such would be an ex post facto law, and inherently unconstitutional. If the proposed state constitutional amendment tried to hold such marriages as invalid, the whole thing will be thrown out as unconstitutional; if it has an exemption for those unions legalized between June 17 and passage, that would leave California in the odd position of recognizing existing same-sex marriages, but allowing no more. That hardly seems workable to me.

New York will be the next state. Governor David Paterson’s directive to state agencies that they recognize same sex marriages performed elsewhere will, if not struck down by the legislature, leave the Empire State in the odd position of recognizing same-sex marriages for people living in New York, as long as they were performed elsewhere, while not allowing such within the state. That’s another wholly unworkable situation.

I don’t at all like the idea that such is being imposed on a clearly reluctant society by judicial fiat, but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize a fait accompli when I see one.

I have one, and really only one, concern. I want churches protected from criminal and civil liability if they refuse to perform a same-sex marriage. Many of our friends on the left pooh-pooh the idea that churches could be compelled to perform such, under the First Amendment, but seem strangely reticent to be willing to enact more explicit protections for churches in the event that same-sex marriages become legal.

To me, it’s simple: it doesn’t take much imagination to guess what could happen if an interracial couple went to a church, and asked to be married, and the minister refused because his church does not believe in interracial marriages. That minister and his church would face being sued, because they had discriminated on race, and churches fit the definition of a public accommodation. Since we license ministers to perform marriages, they have a dual religious-state legal function.

Well sooner or later, a same-sex couple is going to present themselves to a Catholic priest, and ask for a nuptial Mass. The priest will have no choice but to refuse, and he, and his parish, and his diocese will all get sued. A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which undid a discharge under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy held that classifications based on sexual orientation would be examined under a higher level of scrutiny, Patterico explains it here. This could mean that discrimination based on sexual orientation might be held to the same standard as discrimination based on race.

In the event of legally recognized same-sex marriage, we need solid protection for churches.

And now, the Supreme Court has said that all states must allow homosexual couples to get legally married, and must recognize marriages of homosexual couples legally performed in other states. Abraham Lincoln (purportedly) said, “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” And so it is with marriage: calling the union between two men or two women a marriage might make it so under the law, but it doesn’t make it so in the eyes of God, nor does it make it so under any culture in human history, nor does it make it so under plain common sense.

The law will never backtrack on this; this is now an established legal “right” under our system, but that does not mean that an individuals have to actually recognize such sham “marriages” as real. It is unfortunate that businesses will have to recognize such unions.

The most important thing which must now be done is for our legislators, federal and state, to pass laws which provide immunity to churches and priests and ministers who, acting within the tenets of their religion, decline to perform homosexual “marriages” or rent facilities to celebrate them. The left would tell us that, oh, the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, and churches could never be penalized for refusing to perform homosexual “marriages,” so we don’t need such laws, but plain common sense tells us that we do. If the left really believe that such things are already protected, then they can have no real objection to adding statutory protection, but count on it: they’ll object anyway.
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  1. I left the reference from my original article, but the Pandagon site has disappeared.

How are the American left different from the Taliban?

Remember how horrible, how awful it was when the Taliban, then in control of Afghanistan, destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan?

After 1,700 years, Buddhas fall to Taliban dynamite
By Ahmed Rashid in Islamabad | 12:00AM GMT 12 Mar 2001

Before and after the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

The world’s two largest standing Buddhas – one of them 165ft high – were blown up by the Taliban in Afghanistan at the weekend.

After failing to destroy the 1,700-year-old sandstone statues of Buddha with anti-aircraft and tank fire, the Taliban brought a lorryload of dynamite from Kabul. A Western observer said: “They drilled holes into the torsos of the two statues and then placed dynamite charges inside the holes to blow them up.”

The operation to wreck the statues carved into a cliff in the Bamiyan Valley in the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan was supervised by Mullah Obaidullah, the Taliban defence minister. There has been an international outcry since Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, issued a special edict on Feb 26 ordering the destruction of all non-Islamic statues.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, had pleaded with the Taliban’s foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, in Islamabad yesterday to save Afghanistan’s cultural heritage. He was told that all other “moveable statues” – including more than a dozen smaller Buddha statues in the Kabul Museum – had also been destroyed.

It was barbaric, it was closed-minded, it was something that appalled the modern Western mind. Surely, surely! liberal, sophisticated Westerners would never do anything like that!

National Cathedral to remove Confederate stained glass
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service 7:52 p.m. EDT June 25, 2015

(Photo: Washington National Cathedral)

WASHINGTON — The dean of Washington National Cathedral has called for two stained-glass windows featuring Confederate flags to be taken down from the Gothic edifice, in yet another instance of institutions reconsidering countless tributes to the Southern cause.

“It is time to take those windows out,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall in a Thursday announcement.

The prominent building on the skyline of the nation’s capital includes windows honoring Confederate generals Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee, and each contains an image of the controversial flag.

“The Cathedral installed these windows, in part, because its leadership at the time hoped they would foster reconciliation between parts of the nation that had been divided by the Civil War,” said Hall, who has called for the governing bodies of the cathedral to remove the windows that have been there since 1953.

The Washington National Cathedral announced plans June 25, 2015, to remove two stained-glass windows honoring Confederate generals. This window features scenes from the life of Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of Confederate forces in the Civil War. (Photo: Washington National Cathedral)

There’s more at the link.

Now, can someone please tell me how the American left, who want to destroy all representations of the Confederate battle flag, differ from Mullah Omar and the Taliban, who were just so overwhelmingly offended by the Bamiyan Buddhas? I can see no difference, no difference at all, except, of course, that the multicultural left are just so, so intelligent and sophisticated.

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Mortgages and the lower income earners

From The Wall Street Journal:

Why the U.S. Housing Recovery Is Leaving Poorer Neighborhoods Behind
Home prices in wealthier areas are rising, but many poor communities are stuck with a housing crisis that drags on
By Joe Light | Updated June 23, 2015 11:20 p.m. ET

The housing rebound may have lifted home prices across much of the nation. But cities like Lithonia, Ga., are still waiting for the bounce.

Along with other communities in the Atlanta area, the small working-class suburb saw prices run up during the housing boom a decade ago, followed by an epic bust. While nearby wealthier areas are now rising, or even fully recovered, poorer towns such as Lithonia are stuck with a housing crisis that drags on.

Roughly 10,000 homeowners in Lithonia—or 54% of all families with a mortgage—owe more than their homes are worth, according to the online real-estate tracker Zillow. That is a stark difference from wealthy Atlanta neighborhoods like Buckhead, where about 12% of homes are underwater. House values in Lithonia at the end of the first quarter were still almost 35% off their peak, while in Buckhead they were off by only 12%.

Signs of a disproportionate housing recovery appear across the U.S. Nationwide, about 15% of homes worth less than $200,000 were underwater as of the end of March, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate information firm. Meanwhile, just 6% of homes worth more than $200,000 were underwater during the same period.

To be sure, homes across the price spectrum are still below their boom-time peaks. Between January 2006 and May of 2015, the median value of homes in the bottom third of the market has dropped 13% to $101,900, according to Zillow. The median in the middle third is down 6% to $172,600, while in the top third it is off 4.5% to $325,800.

I don’t blame government policies on this: the real problem is that the job market has to support the housing market, and in areas in which there are few higher paying jobs, housing values cannot increase.

We’ve seen this through many, many administrations, Republican and Democrat alike: the housing market has to reflect what people can actually pay, and, realistically speaking, the problem isn’t that home values aren’t increasing in poor areas, but that they are starting to get out of hand again in not-so-poor areas. 38 Gramercy Park North, Apartment 1B, is a 375 ft² studio apartment, on sale for $425,000. That’s utterly ridiculous! Silicon Valley is seeing an exodus of well-paid people because housing prices are so outrageous.

The problem is cultural, and it is two-fold:

  1. Too many low-income neighborhoods have cultural norms which discourage businesses from locating in areas which would draw workers from those neighborhoods’ population; and
  2. Too many well-to-do neighborhoods have lost the cultural norms of thrift and reasonableness.

It was the second which led to the housing crisis in the first place: homes became overvalued vis a vis the homeowners’ ability to pay, and conspicuous consumption led to poor decisions with regard to credit and taking out second mortgages to buy consumer goods. While government policies encouraged this kind of activity, these were, and are, still the decisions taken by individuals, and are not things that the President, any President, is forcing people to do.

Which brings us to this article:

More Americans are renting, and paying more, as home ownership falls
By Dionne Searcey | The New York Times

The house at 339 Livingston Street is the home that Johnnie McDowell, shown with his daughter, Erin, would like to buy, but can’t afford. Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times

WESTFIELD, N.J. — To Johnnie McDowell, the house on Livingston Street seems to taunt him every time he walks by. It’s nothing special: The two-story home is a bit shabby, and it’s been on and off the market in recent months without finding a buyer. Still, he cannot stop dreaming of a better life for his family as he imagines the extra space inside and his children and dog playing outdoors once he weeds the yard.

The McDowell family, however, remains squeezed into a rental apartment: a single floor of an oddly configured duplex that Mr. McDowell has fashioned into three small bedrooms for himself, his wife, Takiba, and two children. With a monthly rent of $1,400, car payments, unpredictable family expenses, a spotty credit report and an empty savings account, Mr. McDowell sees no way to soon pull together a decent down payment.

“My wife and I have been wanting to go on the market to buy a house for years now,” Mr. McDowell, 41, said. “But bills, bills, bills and car notes and car insurance. We haven’t been able to save anything.”

In the past, many families like the McDowells, whose household income is almost $100,000 a year, would already be nestled in a starter home, maybe even on the cusp of upgrading to something bigger and more expensive on the profits from their first house.

But even as the market continues to improve — sales of existing homes in May increased to their highest pace in six years, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday, and first-timers make up 32 percent of the buyers — it is leaving millions of Americans unwillingly stuck in rental housing.

More at the original. I do have a question about the story: Realtor.com shows the home at 339 Livingston Street, Westfield, NJ, as having an estimated value of $220,307, while zillow.com estimates its value at $257,008, but the home is not actually for sale; it last sold in August of 2003 for $237,000. The photo shows a for sale sign in the very unkempt yard, but I could not find any information which actually lists it as being for sale.

But, whether it is actually for sale or not, I have to ask how a two bedroom, one bathroom 520 ft² home1 with the weeds grown up and a visibly broken fence is worth a quarter of a million dollars? If no one can take the effort to cut the grass, I have to wonder what the inside of the place looks like.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty simple: the too-easy credit which enabled the housing bust of 2008 has been repaired, somewhat, by more reasonable credit restrictions, and those restrictions leave more people on the lower end of the economic scale unable to buy homes because their credit or their income are insufficient. You can’t complain that credit was too easy before the 2008 bust, and concomitantly complain that people on the lower end of the economic scale can’t get mortgages. Mr McDowell has an empty savings account, nothing for a down payment, and a “spotty” credit report; he is exactly the kind of potential buyer that reasonable lending practices say should not get a mortgage!

Mr McDowell, as an individual, might be able to make his mortgage payments, and prove to be a fine and responsible home owner, but if lending practices were to revert back to those which would have allowed Mr McDowell to get a mortgage for that home, then they’d revert back for everyone else, and we’d have the same situation as we had before the bust.
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  1. Statistics from both the Realtor.com and Zillow.com listings.

The Rebel Flag

When I was a kid in California, we played cowboys and Indians; when I arrived in elementary school in Kentucky — a state which did not secede — the boys were playing Rebels and Yankees. Being the only kid not from the South,1 the tallest, skinniest, gawkiest boy there, the only one wearing glasses, with a girl’s name and a funny accent, I was the Designated Yankee, at which point my response was, “OK, I win.”

And that’s what this fight reminds me of, kids playing Rebels and Yankees on the schoolyard in the 1960s, except that the left are deathly determined to Win a Victory against the Evil Conservatives, most of whom don’t really care about the Confederate battle flag in the first place. The left must have their moral victory here, but if the flag is removed, nothing will really change other than what’s on the flagpole itself. Whites will still be, in the aggregate, more economically successful than blacks, blacks will still be packed into depressed urban ghettos and be shooting each other at rates which should be alarming but are actually ignored, and black Americans will still be living in an urban culture which is economically disadvantageous for their community.
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  1. My father was born on Maui, and my mother was from Portland, Maine. They met in Tokyo during the Korean War, where both were serving in the Army. After the war, my parents settled down in Antioch, California.