Urbin Report

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A flag waving immigrant

By way of Trying To Grok:

Nearby, Zeqir “Ziggy” Berisha, a native of Kosovo and now a citizen with two sons in the U.S. Army and two in the Marines, waved his flag and shouted support for Bush.

“This nation underneath God is best on Earth!”

Asked about the protesters, he shrugged them off.

“Disagree is good! I disagree with my wife 35 years! Disagree is OK.”

Berisha spoke of how different it was when he was living in Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito.

“Tito used to shoot people for speaking against them. He shot two of my friends.”


  1. “Disagree is good! I disagree with my wife 35 years! Disagree is OK.”

    I couldn't agree more. Strangely, though, disagreement doesn't seem to be possible.

    I posted 4 comments here: http://lesbates.blogspot.com/2005/01/someone-elses-thought-for-day-ii.html#comments

    You can see that, each time, they were deleted. Which is strange, in a free society, I thought.

    It's obviously got to you, as you can see from this: http://lesbates.blogspot.com/2005/01/ahem.html
    (And when I say 'you', I mean Leslie Bates, who also posts to this blog.)

    Now correct me if I'm wrong - but what is the point of having a comments section if you delete any opposing views? I really don't think I was agressive or hostile. In contract to what you might think, Mr. Bates, I don't really oppressed at all - simply amused. Can you not grasp the irony of censoring the very comments you invite? Isn't that exactly what the USSR did? Don't you uphold the virtues of a free and open society?

  2. In American, you can say what you want.
    That doesn't mean that other people have to agree with you, or supply their bandwidth to provide you with a forum.

  3. Fair point. It just seems that's what you might expect if you invite comments to a blog.

  4. Do you allow completely uncensored comments at your blog?

    Remember that most newspapers allow you write letters for publication, but they decide which ones get printed and often edit them.

  5. In a free country one may eject a obnoxious lout from their own home or place of business.

    And unlike Comrade Stalin, I don't have an army of trench-coated goons to send out and murder those I disagree with. There is a VERY DISTINCT difference between the power of the state and the rights of the private citizen. Learn to live with it.

    Furthermore, comparing someone to the bloodiest murderer of the 20th Century and calling that person a traitor and an enemy of freedom are gross insults and I am under no moral obligation to tolerate such on my weblog. Anyone who doesn't like that is free to whine about it on their own weblog.

    I stand for INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, which is the right of the individual person to control their own life and property, and as such this includes the right to refuse contact with those the individual disagrees with or otherwise finds obnoxious. Tyranny is when such refusals are answered with physical force.

    I have said before and will continue to say that those have or who seek to establish tyranny are toxic to human life, and I have absolutely no ethical objections to dealing with them as such.

  6. Obnoxious? In my initial post - as a I recall - I described Karl Marx as being "right about the problems of capitalism, but wrong about the solutions."

    By refusing to have discussions with people you disagree with everything ends up rather pointless. You whine about us with your friends, and I whine about you with mine. Neither of us understand each other (you even think I'm a Marxist!) and nobody gets anywhere.

    Of course you don't have any obligation to talk to anyone, but it might be beneficial. After all - if I met someone I considered "toxic to human life" I'd be a fool to ignore it.

  7. It's pretty clear that Les has read the works of Lenin and Marx, he quotes them in his arguments on why it's such a failed system (the proof lies in the 100 million killed by their own marxist-leninist governments in the 20th Century).

    Capitalism may not be perfect, but it's a damn sight better than the alternatives.
    As one wit put it, Capitalism may be a dog eat dog solution, but in the other cases, both dogs starve.
    John Ringo makes a damn good case for Western Civilization, which does not include Communist states.

    I ask again, do you allow completely uncensored comments at your blog?

  8. Completely uncensored? No. I delete all spam, and would (if the situation arose) remove or censor commments which broke laws regarding libel or inciting hatred. However, in most cases I would imagine that I would simply snip out the offending parts rather than remove the whole thing, and comment on my actions publically.

    Regarding capitalism (finally!) I believe it is a useful tool that should be *part* of a society, but not running it. Clearly, it provides the best incentive of any system to succeed. However, there must be clear 'floors and ceilings' to maintain basic standards of living and, at the same time, stop too much concentration of power. You can call this capitalism with the edges cut off, you can call it democratic socialism, I don't care.

    I also believe that some areas must be zoned off completely from commercial influence - the obvious examples being health (for humanitiarian and efficency reasons) and education.

    I was arguing with a 'free-market' guy once, and told him that "if we magically had infinite resources, I'd embrace capitalism." He replied that if that was true, we might as well have socialism. Therefore - I figure the whole argument is about how we distribute limited resources.

  9. So you're saying that all the private universities are bad?

    Socialism, and all it's ill-begotten spawn, have proved to be really, really bad at the distribution limited resources.

  10. Private universities? Eek - you're mean. They're a bit of a special case...

    Firstly, a confession - I'm a Brit. AND BEFORE you start with the "f**king Europeans" bit, I remind you that soliders from the UK have died to support the US in Iraq and that our Prime Minister has been Bush's closest ally - so I think we're entitled to speak.

    Incidentally, Tony Blair's Labour Party describes itself on it's own website (http://www.labour.org.uk/labourdemocracy/) as a "democratic, socialist party" who "keep in regular contact with international socialist parties". Really really bad at distributing resources? Funny, cause you're the ones with the scandal of millions uninsured while we have an NHS free at the point of use to everyone. And it works bloody well, most of the time. Along with our economy which is one of the strongest in Europe.

    Labour's policy towards universities is that the government pays the vast majority of the costs, but students also pay fees in the form of loans which they pay back once they start earning over a certain amount. Students from poor families don't pay anything, and get extra grants. This seems a fair and realistic approach to me.

    Btw - you really don't need to convince me that the USSR and other 'Communist' countries were brutal dictatorships run by evil men. There are other alternatives to raw capitalism.

  11. If you are going to sweep with such a broad brush, you should list out your exceptions first.

    If private schools were such a horrible capitalist idea, why do so many card carrying socialist (like the majority of democrats in the US congress, who are members of the DS party) send their kids to private schools?

    Nice bit of premptive victim status there. I really
    had no intention of calling europeans any nasty names. Are you prehaps feeling a bit guilty? :-)

  12. Well, sometimes Europe does get a bit snobbish towards the US and ignore its own problems (obesity is a good example) - I can see how Americans get pissed off!

    I've never really thought of private schools as 'capitalist' - more of an elitist movement which is just as bad, if not worse. This is probably a culture thing though - over 90% of kids in the UK go to state schools, I don't know the American figures.

    As for Democrats sending their own children to private schools, well it's hypocritical isn't it? Again I don't know much about this are but from what I hear the Democrats are only left wing when you compare them to the alternatves. Over here a party which didn't beleive in a nationalised health care system, supported the death penalty and argued for lower taxes would be considered pretty right-wing indeed.

  13. Well there certainly are "elitist" private schools, such as St. Albans (Al Gore Jr. & Al Gore III) and the Sidwell Friends school (Chelsea Clinton), but most are attended by the children of the middle and lower classes. The fastest growing group enrolling children in private schools are low income inner city residents. They often have to work two or three jobs to afford it (since they still have to pay the taxes that support the public schools they are pulling their kids out of), but they consider it worth it.

    Government (mostly local) funded schools provide the vast majority of American kids with their education. For the most part, they do a good job. There are some spectacular failures though.

  14. That last part is very heartening to hear.

    Believe me, I do understand that it's very easy for me to support state schools but incredibly difficult if your local ones are shit-holes and you really believe that the only escape is through the private sector. I really wouldn't demonise anybody for doing this - nobody wants to 'sacrifice their child' and nobody should have to (though somehow I doubt it applies to the wealthy elite you mention.)

    Having said that, how is a state school supposed to improve if nobody is willing to send their kids there? It's a vicious circle and there aren't any easy answers.

  15. You missed the point as to why they need to work multiple jobs. They are still paying for the public school that is failing. They are pulling their kids out, but still are putting money into it.
    That leaves the school with more money per student than before. You would think they could actually make improvements. Too often it's the entrenched bureaucracy that is the problem, and their primary job is to protect their job, not serve the public. If you travel to Washington, D.C., you'll note that the Teachers Union has a bigger and nicer building than the Department of Education (which can not account for $5 Billion of their budget in the '90s).

  16. In the UK at least, schools get money *per pupil*...

    Is it really a good idea to blame the teaching unions? How much do teachers get paid compared to other jobs, which are less stressful? And, of course, teachers get taxed the same as anybody else.

    In fact, if you apply free market principles, surely you can attract better teachers and raise motivation by paying them more?

  17. Hmmm...since you had no clue as to how schools are funded in the US, I can see how you have such a negative opinion of private schools. You're view may be valid in the UK, but it doesn't fly here in the states.

    Using the free market model would work for attracting good teachers would work if the Teachers Unions would allow teachers to be graded for performance. Since they are dead set against that, it won't work. The unions want high pay and perks regardless of performance.

    The model does work for the most part in private schools, since parents won't spend money they don't have to (public school funds are collected at virtual gunpoint) on schools where their kids aren't learning. The major teachers unions don't have a foothold in the private sector, so teachers there are hired and retained based on performance.

  18. 'Performance' is always a hard one to measure with schools though, isn't it? Do you count exam grades, 'value added' scores or something else? How do you measure the performance of a group of people working over many months and years?

    And of course, if you're a private school with profit as your primary motive, you don't actually have to provide good teaching. You just need to let parents *think* that they're getting something better. You could argue that this applies equally to state schools, but since attendence to school is compulsory it is probably less of an issue.

    [Btw - I refer to them as 'state schools' only because 'public school' is an old fashioned term for 'private school' in the UK.]

  19. It's frightfully easy to quantify the school's, and thus the teacher's, performance by the overall quality of the student being produced by the school.
    If a school is putting out class after class of kids that can't read a newspaper (and I'm talking about the NY Times, the London tabloids would do as a valid meterstick), can't perform enough basic math to make change and can not write or speech in complete English sentences, there is a serious problem.
    It's most likely a combination of the teaching, the administration and bureaucracy that supports the school.

    Quite often, the solution is not what is often done, i.e. throw more money at the problem.

    This situation only exists in public schools in the US. A private school would not survive if it did the way some public schools in the US did.

  20. But think about the backgrounds of some of these kids? Richer, better educated families = more likely to send their kids to private schools. Hell, the fact they even care enough to (mistakenly, IMHO) send their children to private school shows that they care, at least!

    I agree with you completely that simply throwing money at a school is not the answer.

    This is why I think that the 'elite' *should* send their kids into the state sector. They wouldn't tolerate a failing school or bad teaching - these are parents who could really make a difference. However, if they all swan off into the private sector nothing will change - because the people left in state schools will not be the kind of people who will do anything.

    I wish people would realise that, as well as being good for society, unsegregated schools would be good for *everybody*. People who smash cars \ break into your house \ attack you on the street are very often failures of the school system coming back to haunt us.

  21. You're just not paying attention. Let me repeat the point you're not getting. The fastest growing group enrolling children in private schools are low income inner city residents.

    The "elite" sending their kids to private schools in US is tiny fraction and just not the problem you insist on making it.

  22. "fastest growing" - I hear you. I'm not disputing it. I'm just trying to work out a way to stop and eventually reverse the migration, and one way is to convince as many people as you can, especially powerful people, to back the system and stop it collapsing.

  23. This is were we fundamentally disagree. You want to force people back into the system in a hope that it will somehow get better.
    My view is to make the system better and then people will put their children back in public schools of their own free will.

  24. Right.

    I'm sure people on the left distance themselves from me very quickly when I say that, and even I would be hard-pressed to think of a way to put it into practice without civil war breaking out or something.

    But fundamentally, I believe it.

  25. Here is the best argument I've seen for public schools in while...