Ahh Austin…

When Texas Governor Abbott took time out of his busy schedule of subjugating his authority, to call a special session for the “part-time” Texas Legislators(1) to pass a bathroom bill and other discriminatory acts, his statements eloquently tried to trash the Capital of Texas, Austin. As Caleb points out, there are plenty of examples where Austin is screwed by Texas arbitrary regulation, and certainly some of those to be considered in the special session are also aimed at Austin.

Naturally, the state-protected view of the dome under which so much anti-regulatory legislation is concocted by worthy statesman from such cultural centers as Woodville, Humble, or Euless deserves to be maintained so that we may all be reminded of the paternal lordship of our duly elected masters, those golden ubermensch of high breeding and indomitable intellect.

(1) Texas is one of only 4-states that still have a rushed, part-time state legislator that has to rush it’s budget and legislation through in just the first half of the year, every two years. No wonder why so many bills seem regressive, backward looking, and discriminatory. The process doesn’t allow the sun to shine where it should.

RIP Darkus Howe

Darkus Howe was more Malcom-X than Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t expect most of my American friends have ever heard of him. In the late 1970’s and 1980’s he was the “Devil’s Advocate”.

For me, as far as black civil liberties go, he was the most influential for me. This debate. argument was typical of his style. He died on Saturday.

Sweden, Refugees and that Trump thing

Even before the Trump administration, America has taken pitifully few refugees and asylum seekers from the crisis it started in the post 9/11 era. This is especially true when you look at it’s geographical size, and financial strength.

At 20x the size of Sweden, and over 18x the GDP, America has taken just 10% of the refugees Sweden.

By now anyone paying attention will have heard about the debacle of Trumps speech where he attempted to justify his Executive Order on Immigration by pointing to “what happened in Sweden last night”. If you have not, you can read the whole thing here.

Lets do what we’ve been asked, and not take President Trump literally, and assume he was talking about a trend in crime caused by refugees. Trump himself said he was responding to a report on Fox News, forget about the voracity for getting information from Fox News if you are the US President. (See *1 for additional opinion).

I’ve been to Sweden a number of times, mostly to Stockholm, and Gotenburg but also had a fabulous speaking engagement in Malmo. It’s an amazing place. It’s worth though putting the refugee issue in some context though, irrespective of what may or may not have happened.

Sweden

Geography:
Size: 173,860 Square Miles, slightly larger than California. 65% of which is forest and approximately 30% lies north of the article circle. Which means the main inhabited part of Sweden is about the size of the US State of Georgia.
Population:
Population: 10,019,400 with approximately 5-million people employed, of which almost 70% are in Unions. Again, that makes it similar to the US State of Georgia in terms of population.
Economy:
6th most competitive economy in the world;
Tax:
One of the highest tax rates;
Welfare:
One of the most developed welfare states;
Unemployment:
Stands around 7.5% in January 2017;
Healthcare:
Medical coverage is universal and at only nominal fees; Infant mortality rate is half that of the USA;
Child Welfare:
Guaranteed kindergarten places for ALL 1-5 year olds; All school children receive free school lunch, many also get breakfast.

Immigration, Refugees and crime

Sweden provides a very attractive destination for refugees. And so they have come, in huge numbers. According to the CIA World Fact book,

Refugees (country of origin): 52,707 (Syria); 23,886 (Iraq); 21,501 (Somalia); 20,203 (Eritrea); 13,064 (Afghanistan) (2015)
Stateless people: 31,062 (2015); note – the majority are from the Middle East and Somalia

 

There have certainly been crimes by the refugees, and there have been a number of claims/articles on the scope and impact of crime, especially this, now infamous one.  The 2016 Swedish Crime Survey showed a small uptick in crime in 2015, with 13.3% of nearly 12,000 respondents reporting they had been exposed to one or more offenses, including assault, threats, sexual offenses, robbery, fraud, or harassment. But although the number is up from 11.3% in 2014, the survey says the numbers are around the same level as they were in 2005, well before Sweden’s refugee influx began.(*2)

There is no doubt that the number of refugees and asylum seekers will be having an impact in Sweden. Assimilation is hard in any new country, and Sweden is about as different from the middle east or North Africa as it gets. There is of course high unemployment among these immigrants, the Economist says three times higher than native born Swedes. Still, as a country Sweden has done a massive amount, and accept had a mass refugee intake.

AMERICA, FEAR UNCERTAINTY and doubt

By comparison, America, with a geographical size some of 20x that of Sweden even deducting the area accounted for by lakes and rivers, and with a GDP that is over 30x that of Sweden, has taken just 10% of the refugees.

While the Syrian crisis isn’t a direct result of the Bush Administration lead invasion and overthrow of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the humanitarian crisis that followed; there is a link to the Arab Spring that followed the influx of migrants all across north Africa. More than 11-million people in Syria have lost their homes, and more than 250,000 have been killed.

Yet, America, through it’s already extensive and tough vetting(apparently not extreme enough for President Trump), has taken the following refugees.

Refugees (country of origin): 16,370 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); the US admitted 84,995 refugees during FY2016 including: 12,587 (Syria); 12,347 (Burma); 9,880 (Iraq); 9,020 (Somalia); 5,817 (Bhutan); 3,750 (Iran)
Despite what President Trump claims, there is no empirical evidence that immigration increases crime in the United States. In fact, a majority of studies in the U.S. have found lower crime rates among immigrants than among non-immigrants.

Even if you believe the reports from the right wing, and nationalists about crime, that’s no reason to further stop immigration by desperate people, who’ve mostly lost everything, including members of their families. America has it’s own problems, but they are nothing like those of the refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we can and must do more and at least as much as Sweden.

 

(*1) He almost certainly got this bee in his bonnet from Sebastian Gorka who at one time was a regular writer for the Gatestone Institute who a year ago, published the infamous Sweden: Rape Capital of the West. Even the Gatestone Institute has separated itself from the author.

What’s the deal with guns?

Again, skirting around the election, whenever the topic of guns in America comes up, usually after yet-another-mass-shooting, I simply don’t understand. I have no context.

I recently had the chance to hear Guardian journalist Gary Younge discuss his new book “Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives” (via @amazon), with BBC Radio London, broadcaster and journalist, Robert Elms.

So much rang true. It was great hearing two people discuss guns and the bizarre attitudes towards them in the USA. Among the qoutes, and the serious discussions about 10 kids being killed by guns, the best summary of their exchange was this in the opening seconds.

YOUNGE: I was there for 12-years as a correspondant, and there were two things I never got. I never got healthcare, why would you not want that? And I never got guns…
ELMS: Why would you want that?

Gary Younge on twitter

Robert Elms on Twitter

Commiserations are due

My namesake, TOM, didn’t win the Republican primary for South Carolina district 42. As always, you get what you vote for, and the voting numbers were pretty low.

The victor, Mann’s total vote district-wide was 1,245 while Cathcart’s was 770.

 

Mark Cathcart for SC House 42

If you arrived here looking for the website of Mark Cathcart, running for South Carolina House of Representatives, district 42, you’ve arrived in the right place.

Before you take the link over to the actual website of my namesake, full of the usual rhetoric, unsubstantiated claims, and factless assertions, have a read of this.

I emailed the other Mark, hence forward referred to as TOM(The Other Mark) and asked him for his position and action on one, relatively simple topic, Civil Forfiture.

For a candidate for State office, would he work to eliminate or seriously improve civil forfeiture in South Carolina? Reading his website, you’d think this should be a cornerstone of his campaign.

In December 2015, the Institute for Injustice gave South Carolina a D- (one of the worst) for the protection of property owners. The Police only need probably cause to seize property,Law enforcement agencies are not required to track or report their forfeitures, they keep 95% of forfeiture proceeds, with 75% going to police agencies, and 20% to prosecutors. Let’s remember, guilt not required, they can take and keep your stuff irrespective.

You’d think that someone who was campaigning on all these “issues” would be right on that, wouldn’t you?

  1. Over burdening government legislation
  2. Taxes, regulations and overextending laws are stifling our business community
  3. Unreasonable search and seizure, private property rights

Instead of being just-another-republican who preaches the same old rhetoric, ask TOM what he is going to do about South Carolina’s unfair, unjust civil forfeiture? If he isn’t going to do anything about that, he’s just looking to join the gravy train of politicians who while away their time, collect their salaries, and the daily allowance but don’t do much of anything but complain about Government overreach…

ps. If you are going to head over to his website anyway, ask him precisely where and how God gave Constitutional rights? As we all know, the constitution he so rightly swears to uphold, was in fact written and agreed by Men. The closest God came to giving constitutional rights were the 10 Commandments, by which TOM’s proclamation falls foul of the 4th commandment, taking God’s name in vain, to make something seem true, this obviously isn’t.

Sanctions work – North Carolina

There isn’t as far as I know, a formal method of US States, or the US Federal Government putting official sanctions on a state, unlike say a country like Iraq, Iran, North Korea or South Africa.

The decades long disinvestment sanctions, against South Africa, are possibly the most interesting and best parallel for North Carolina. Since passing house bill 1532, North Carolina has faced an increasing push by companies, other states, and cities. This is how it should be.

However, it is not sufficient to depend on commercial companies and a some major liberal forward thinking cities to undo this legislation. What happened with South Africa was that it took years to see the collapse of the apartheid regime and in the end it was people pressure that forced large companies to withdraw, rather than simply laws and sanctions.

PayPal are among the first companies to withdraw from North Carolina, but there need to be many more. Companies and institutions won’t do this though unless they are pressured to do so. WE as individuals have a responsibility to boycott. Don’t use companies that tolerate this bs and continue to do business with the state. Don’t go on vacation there, don’t go to college there, advocate that relatives and friends in the state do the same, as best they can.

_48470148_iran2207_sanct_poster_gSure, it will punish people who had nothing to do with the legislation if jobs are lost, offices are closed etc. People will learn to exercise their vote carefully…

Sanctions alone do NOT work, only in conjunction with actual action will they deliver results.