I’m back from my tour of North Korea
No, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth, nor did I go to North Korea. Just a combination of personal stuff and utter dismay at the state of the world. However, two recent comments left on previous posts made me think, and both deserve a considered response. See how diplomatic that sounded, one can learn a lot by watching the current actor in the White House. Also I wanted to say a few things about this terribly sad story: Microwaved Baby. The comments people have made about the story are particularly interesting.
First though, a comment left on my post “Why Not Invade North Korea?” It’s actually one of my older posts, I could make even more cogent arguments today about the folly of invading North Korea. However, in response to my post, I recently got this comment:
“It’s not about the threat to the US; it’s about NK’s threat to HUMANITY.
Millions dying there per annum; disease, starvation, all manner of depraved sub-animalistic goings on… cannibalism. Even the ‘mere’ relentless indoctrination of so many with a fascist, anti liberal / Western / democratic ideology is dangerous far beyond the need hypothesize about expunging it.
Isn’t this the kind of thing the ‘world police’ are meant keep off of our planet’s streets?
Oh. Yeah… my bad. North Korea DOES have WMDs but not oil / resources, so of course that grants them dispensation from being invaded. What was I thinking — d’oh! =P”
Well then, that settles it, North Koreans are the bad guys so we should just invade and “fix” it. Well, the esteemed author of said comment is certainly an extreme example of confirmation bias in action, I know there’s no argument I can make that will shake their world view. Invading other countries, even countries on the far side of the world, because of our moral and ethical superiority is the crusader mentality illustrated. Again, people who maintain that crusades are acceptable are espousing an ideology, simplistic as “good vs evil” is as an ideology. People making ideologically based arguments, like ones making religiously based arguments, are pretty much immune to reasonable argument. In fact reasonable argument actually can strengthen people’s contravening beliefs, go figure.
Just quickly though I would point out that his argument has two fatal flaws. The first is that it completely ignores the role the west played in both creating, and maintaining, the North Korean regime. Even more fatal, is the fact that nation building crusades as the gentle commenter is suggesting, rarely work and frequently make things much worse!
Moving right along, in response to my recent post “Socialism for the Rich Illustrated,” someone left this comment:
“When you give money to the rich, they INVEST it.
Expecting to make a profit.
No matter why, the money still goes into the economy.
I agree that we must have greater quality, but basic economics teaches that that will be at the cost of having lesser overall wealth.”
Sigh. When the rich get richer, even if their ever increasing pile of money is technically still part of the economy, so what? In fact that’s the problem, the rich have so gamed the system that all their money does is sit at the top and suck up more money. Which is exactly what I was illustrating with the empty store front above, this rich fellow is not investing his wealth in the economy, his store is just sitting there empty making him money from the public trough!
Secondly, economics is not a “zero sum game.” At least not since Sam Adams a few hundred years ago. If you take a thousand unemployed people, build a factory, and put them to work, you are creating wealth. A healthy civilization like the Romans for example, sets up laws and regulations so that the rich are encouraged to invest in the economy in ways that create wealth. And then there’s the opposite approach, illustrated above.
Lastly, the sad case of the microwaved baby. And equally sad, how many of the comments were eager to rush to judgment and subject her to all sorts of hideous torments. Right, and it’s Muslims that have a violent culture? This “microwave her” attitude is like, the opposite of civilized. This is because simply don’t know yet what actually happened. The fact that the police have charged her means nothing.
Take a socially isolated women taking care of small children 24/7 and you already have a recipe for mental breakdown. Add another layer of mental illness like depression or postpartum psychosis, and bad things can happen. Or even add a controlling abusive husband who didn’t want another daughter and made damn sure his wife got the message that she had to “get rid of the problem.” This sort of thing does happen in the west, yes, it really does. Until far more background information is available, I’m not going to even guess at how culpable she is.
Yes, possibly she is just a psychopath who was getting rid of an annoyance, but those types of cases are far more common in Hollywood movies than in real life. I’m betting it will turn out she was in a pretty horrible place to have done such a thing. And one even has to wonder if there are other possibilities. Like her other small children did it while she was distracted for a moment, imagine what a mind messing nightmare that would be for a mom to deal with. To make my point obvious, the fact that so many people are willing to suggest horrible punishments for this women even before her trial, or even the facts have been made public, shows that the sort of toxic misogyny that we are so quick to condemn in other cultures is not so deeply buried in ours.
(The above image is North Korea’s redoubtable leader, Kim Jong-il, looking at things. In this image he’s looking at a piece of plywood. Democratic leaders have to shake a lot of hands, despots have to look at a lot of things. Mr Kim can go anywhere and look at anything he wants in his country, I’m sure that beats shaking a bunch of sweaty hands in shopping malls every day. Another reason dictators shun democratic reform I suppose. I got it from this fine aptly titled site: kim jong-il looking at things.)