The Net

The week was dedicated to the United States, at least in the Western media. In the interim, other tragedies occurred, such as the earthquake in Iran and Pakistan—thirteen dead, hundreds of houses destroyed.

It didn’t seem to me that the Boston Marathon bombings were mainstream Al Qaeda; there were not enough fatalities, the explosive devices were too artisanal. Neither would it have been one of the homegrown attacks a la Timothty McVeigh. Those tend to strike at the things libertarians disagree with.

To find out what those are, I took a trip to Libertarian Party headquarters. There, I took their test, and found out I’m a liberal.

Red marks the Wibaux score on the Libertarian card. Where are you?

Red marks the Wibaux score on the libertarian card. Where are you on the political plaza?

You’ll see a minimum of 50 + 80, or 80 + 50, will make you a libertarian. 60 + 70 will too. I’m much more liberal on personal stuff than on the economy. But to a point. I mean, of course I agree on sexual freedom for consenting adults. Otherwise you’re on the road to lapidation. We exorcised all that stuff in the West hundreds of years ago. But no legislation? Does that mean naked bonking is allowed on the sidewalk opposite a kindergarten? No.

I’ve also seen too much economic pain to believe that people are in general able to manage their own money. Or countries, for that matter—a country is not a sentient being. I think there needs to be a safety net. But not the kind you get in the UK, where immigrants do the shit jobs for shit pay, and there is a swathe of the indigenous population on welfare.

Parties like UKIP, that defend repartriation of immigrants, play the populist card, the old saw that ‘immigrants took our jobs.’ Actually, UK employers would almost always hire British nationals if they could. But an English kid on welfare can only afford a Big Mac if it’s cooked, sorry, sear-sizzled, by a Bulgarian. Ironically, the UKIP leader Farage recently found out he descends from Belgians, despite the pinstripe suit. No worries, Nigel, even John of Gaunt was born in Belgium.

For one reason or another many older people become less able to provide for themselves in adversity. The safety net may come from government, other institutional support, or citizen-led initiatives, but it’s not something of interest to the private sector.

Woman suffering death by lapidation (YouTube). This is part of a series of grotesque videos available that document this shame.

Western protests against lapidation. Part of a series of YouTube videos that document this shame, some of which are real films of women being murdered.

I had a look at the world numbers for the homeless, and they’re pretty terrifying: an estimated one hundred million, a third of the population of the United States. I expected the US might have a higher proportion of homelessness than other nations, because among other things it is highly visible in parts of American cities.

Reliable statistics are hard to find, and there is much confusion about living rough, shelters, homelessness, and other definitions. Some countries talk about homeless households, some don’t. Many just ignore the problem.

In fact the proportion of homeless people in the US is 0.21% of the population. Slightly higher than the UK, but way below France (1.5%). Germany, Canada, and Australia all exceed the US, despite the fact that they have a comparable per capita GDP.

The two young men from Dagestan who allegedly committed the atrocities in Boston certainly don’t qualify as libertarians. One is dead, the other still alive. I fully expected the perpetrarors would be low level radicals, and this appears to be the case. Chechens tend to pick their arguments with Russia, and they have a lot to be angry about.

In 1944, Beria, the chief of Stalin’s secret police, ordered the deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people from their North Caucasus homeland. Over half a million of them. Many thousands died.

More recently, terror strikes in Russia included the Moscow theater siege and the school massacre in Beslan, two more episodes in the muted but endless war between Chechnya and Russia.

Maybe Boston was some kind of misplaced mujahideen notion. If so, it’s amazing how discreet younger brother Dzhokar was about his fundamentalist allegiance. In a series of interviews, not one of those who knew him reported anything but a well adjusted American kid, good at sports and school.

It seems impossible that the whole attack was conceived and carried out by the two brothers, with no external assistance. And yet, remember the right wing Norwegian nut who terrorized Olso in 2011, all on his lonesome? Breivik killed seventy-seven people. He’s now serving a twenty-one year jail sentence. Eligible for parole after ten.

That’s why Americans will never understand Europeans. In this case, I can’t blame them one little bit.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones.

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