Private Or Public

I came across a cartoon in the Economist today…


…under which was written:

The conventions highlighted a new political faultline: not between left and right, but between open and closed…

Across Europe, the politicians with momentum are those who argue that the world is a nasty, threatening place, and that wise nations should build walls to keep it out. Such arguments have helped elect an ultranationalist government in Hungary and a Polish one that offers a Trumpian mix of xenophobia and disregard for constitutional norms. Populist, authoritarian European parties of the right or left now enjoy nearly twice as much support as they did in 2000, and are in government or in a ruling coalition in nine countries. So far, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has been the anti-globalists’ biggest prize: the vote in June to abandon the world’s most successful free-trade club was won by cynically pandering to voters’ insular instincts, splitting mainstream parties down the middle.

One misrepresentation, in both the cartoon and the text, is that people have been building walls. They haven’t. The walls have been there since time immemorial. What’s new these days is that some people (politicians mostly) have been demolishing longstanding existing walls. They have been making private property into public property.

So the cartoon would have been more accurate if the people on the right hand side were shown with a very old wall – like the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall  – around them, and the people on the left hand side were shown demolishing the wall and letting people in. That would have been a truer picture.

Also, speaking of real walls, just an apposite an image would have been of two houses, one of which has a locked front door and barred windows, and another one with open doors and windows, and a sign outside saying: “Need somewhere to live? Step inside and make yourself at home!” In the latter case, private property becomes public property.

How many people really want to do that? How many people are going to buy a house, only to let absolutely anybody walk in and live in it? Hardly anyone, I imagine.

Which reminds me of another story I  came across today. It was about a whole bunch of airliners that had been forced to land at Gander airport in Canada on 9/11. There were about 50 of them, full of passengers. All in all, some 10,000 people. But the little town of Gander only had 10,000 residents in it. So what happened?

What we found out was incredible…..

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.

Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes…

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.

Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

It’s a heart-warming story. Small local communities opened their doors to the stranded passengers, and made them as welcome and comfortable as they possibly could.

So what’s the difference between Gander’s sort of ‘open’ society and the kind advocated in the Economist?

At least one answer must be that at Gander the stranded airline passengers were only going to stay a couple of days, not indefinitely. While in the sort of ‘open’ society advocated in the Economist they were staying indefinitely. I doubt if Gander would have been happy to see its population double overnight, and stay that way. It was a temporary state of emergency.

Also, if the people of Gander had food, blankets, and even spare rooms and beds, it was because they owned more than a sufficiency of such things. And if they could take them for hikes and boat trips, it was because they owned cars and boats.

And also, this seems to have been the voluntary response of a little community (except perhaps the high school students). Maybe some people didn’t join in. It certainly doesn’t seem like the Canadian government stepped in and requisitioned houses and schools and food and blankets.

And how did the passengers respond once they were back on their plane and flying out?

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.

He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.

He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!…

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

Again, they could do this because they personally possessed $14,000 or $1.5 million that they could voluntarily give away. Private property again. If they had owned nothing, they could have given nothing.

And it wasn’t really a ‘gift’. It was repayment.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to Private Or Public

  1. Roobeedoo2 says:

    It’s not a very good cartoon. Why isn’t the keep out sign the other side of the wall? Assuming somebody wants to jump across the chasm. And, that rainbow indicates rain, which likely means the grass is very slippy. Not ideal conditions to take off from.

  2. jaxthefirst says:

    “ … has been the anti-globalists’ biggest prize.”

    Anti-globalist? Really? Well, that is a surprise, coming from the Economist. One of the (many) reasons that I voted to leave was because it would enable the UK to take a much bigger role within the global marketplace, not a smaller one!

    In today’s global marketplace, speed and flexibility are essential if anyone wants to take advantage of a good emerging market and secure the best trade deal with the country from which that market is emerging, and one of the problems with the EU is that its structure and procedures simply do not allow it to act with either speed or flexibility to take advantage of changing market conditions. No member state is allowed to go ahead and grasp the nettle and make individual trade deals with third countries when they spot a good opportunity – only the EU can do that on our behalf, and they have a whole raft of procedures which they insist on going through before confirming a deal, including having to consult with every other member state individually, to see if they want in on the deal, what conditions they might want if they do, if they have any objection to it, if they approve of it, or disapprove of it, or whatever. Which all sounds very cuddly and considerate and friendly and ooh “democratic,” but the trouble is that by the time the EU has clunked and creaked its way through this cumbersome process, years have passed (it takes, on average, a decade for the EU to strike a deal with a third country, which is why there are so few of them), and that lovely emerging market which was spotted 10 years back, keen and eager to take on big new customers, is no longer “emerging” but is instead now well-established with lots of big customers, and doing very well thank you (no doubt as a result of beneficial trade deals secured with those other, independent, countries who spotted it at around the same time) and our erstwhile very strong bargaining position has significantly diminished by comparison. Thus, any deal struck then will be far less advantageous than it could have been.

    It’s one of the reasons why the EU is very, very far short of “the world’s most successful free-trade club” – another pretty astonishing description from a publication purporting to be the mouthpiece of “economics.” Financially and economically the EU is on the brink of crashing either spectacularly, like a tyre bursting on a motorway, or slowly, like one with a slow puncture. But crash it will. Those trade deals which it has struck aren’t really worth the paper they are written on and are certainly less advantageous than they could have been (look at TTIP for an example), its most prosperous industries are pretty much devoting all of what they earn to propping up the failed economies of poorer countries which don’t look set to improve their own situations any time soon, the EU stock markets took a far greater hit the day after the Referendum than the British one did, and the Euro, as we all know, is trailing badly in the currency league tables and has been for a very long time. If this is the Economist’s idea of the “most successful” free-trade club, then the mind boggles as to what their idea of the “least successful” one is!

    The EU is basically an economic dinosaur, designed at a time when globalisation was little more than a twinkle in far-sighted economists’ eyes and when the vast majority of trade, certainly in Europe, was generally carried out between close neighbour countries. It made sense then; it doesn’t now. That world doesn’t exist any more. For good or ill, the global marketplace is right here, right now and it’s how big business is now done. It’s fast-moving and highly changeable and demands the kind of speed and flexible opportunism that the EU just isn’t capable of in its present form. That isn’t to say that it isn’t capable per se, but in order to render itself capable it must necessarily instigate root-and-branch reform which would inevitably involve giving member states far more autonomy in trade deals with third countries than they currently have. It would be reform on a grand scale, and it would involve the grandees of the EU prising their power-greedy fingers reluctantly open to give some of it back to their “chattels.” And that, as countless spokespeople from the EU have made clear, is simply not something that they will ever countenance. What was it that Juncker (I think) said: “There will be no further discussions about reform?”

    Which is why the EU is doomed to lurch from crisis to crisis, from failure to failure, digging ever deeper into the pockets of its hardworking citizens in order to shore up its antiquated, creaking methods, and missing opportunities to utilise its undoubtedly huge market potential time after time after time until, eventually – just like the dinosaurs, who also couldn’t adapt quickly to a fast-changing world – it will collapse under the weight of its own inability to survive, and all because of the stubborn refusal of those who run it to change how they do things.

    Which has to be one of the best reasons – if not the best reason – for the UK to leave. Compared to this, immigration, or free movement of people, or control of our borders, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t even come a close second.

    • KJP says:

      Absolutely: I’ve thought the same for a long time but could not have put it so well. But the perception is, and it has been stated by various people, that the UK and those who want to leave the EU are inward looking not the EU. I can’t remember the figures but since 2000 the UK’s trade with the rest of the world has increased whilst the EU’s share of world trade has declined considerably: that is because world trade has grown but the EU has not participated in it to any great extent. In other words stagnation.

      And why is the EU being called a free trade area anyway? It is a customs union: free trade areas do not have common external tariffs, customs unions do. I suppose it’s to make it seem more friendly,like saying required to volunteer rather than compelled.

  3. barnacle bill says:

    I never knew that about Gander/911, thank you for bringing it to my attention. It is nice to know despite all the troubles in our world that there is still some spirit of human kindness left.
    Long may it continue so.

  4. JonT says:

    This is an excellent post Frank and a great response by Jaxthefirst. This is the reason I read your blog every day. And like barnacle bill I had never heard this rather heart-warming story about gander.

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Smokefree Coalition closes its doors

    The organisation that provided a platform for unity and collaboration in New Zealand tobacco control is no more.

    At a Wellington celebration tinged with sadness members of the Smokefree Coalition gathered tonight to commemorate 20 years of achievement in reducing smoking in New Zealand while lamenting the loss of government funding that has forced it to close down operations.

    “The Smokefree Coalition helped provide a united voice for the various tobacco control organisations in New Zealand,” said Chair Dr Jan Pearson.

    “And it was that unity that made us able to achieve plain packaging; the ban on retail tobacco displays; reduced duty free allowances, smokefree bars, restaurants, workplaces and prisons; and annual tax increases.

    “These are all measures that have saved countless lives and helped avoid untold suffering by creating a national environment where smoking is no longer cool or even normal – and making it much harder for tobacco companies to convince New Zealanders and their children that it is.”

    The Smokefree Coalition is also willing to take much of the credit for the Government’s commitment to becoming a smokefree nation by 2025.

    “It was our original Vision 2020 document, produced with the help of our members, that got the ball rolling for that commitment and it was our Smokefree Roadmap 2025 that laid out the pathway to achieve it,” Dr Pearson said.

    The Government announced last year it would cease all existing contracts in tobacco control and the Smokefree Coalition contract was not renewed under the new funding strategy. Dr Pearson does not believe this was the right decision but says it is time to pass the mantle to the organisations that remain and wish them well.

    “There is still much to be done in New Zealand tobacco control including better support for people to quit, more services for Maori and Pasifika and better policing of retailers – too many of whom are still willing to sell to minors who subsequently become addicted.”

    Dr Pearson said the sector relied heavily on the energetic leadership of Dr Prudence Stone and said she would be sadly missed.

    “Dr Stone will start her new role as Children’s Rights Advocate for UNICEF on Monday 1 August, and we hope there is room in the new position for her to remain a champion for the prevention of smoking uptake among children.

    “She has been tireless in smokefree cars advocacy, which is absolutely a children’s rights issue. The public support it overwhelmingly so its only barrier is lack of political will and leadership. I am sure she will continue to remind our politicians about this and the many other rights to good health children have.”

    • Rose says:

      “Smokefree Coalition gathered tonight to commemorate 20 years of achievement in reducing smoking in New Zealand while lamenting the loss of government funding that has forced it to close down operations.”

      If they truly believed in what they were doing, they would keep on doing it for free in their spare time.
      If the public had wanted them to do it, they would have given them donations.

      Their achievements – “plain packaging; the ban on retail tobacco displays; reduced duty free allowances, smokefree bars, restaurants, workplaces and prisons; and annual tax increases” – misery, wanted only by the government who had to pay with taxpayer’s money to lobby itself, just as ours did and does.

      What a sad state to be in.

      • Manfred says:

        NZ is a UN acolyte. UN sycophantics abound. Following the UN WHO globalist line on the smoking issue with required anti-smoking fanaticism is de rigueur. So, it is more than fitting that “Dr Stone will start her new role as Children’s Rights Advocate for UNICEF.” In fact, it is a perfect fit for an activist like her. New Zealand has one of the worst, if not the worst child abuse records on the planet. It may help the doctor to grow a sense of proportion and perspective regarding health and social issues of true societal importance.

  6. jltrader says:

    Then: caddies being paid in American cigarettes

    Now: Dr. Ahmad Khlefawy, Syria’s deputy minister of health, said the war cannot be an excuse for Syrians to endanger their lives by consuming tobacco.

    • Rose says:

      Officials fell trees inscribed by US soldiers who fought for France
      June 13, 2008

      Historic ‘name trees’ bore thousands of carvings
      “The beech trees of Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair forest bore a poignant testimony to the D-Day landings for more than six decades. Thousands of American soldiers stationed there after the liberation of Normandy spent their spare hours with a knife or bayonet creating a lasting reminder of their presence.

      Although the trees grew and the graffiti swelled and twisted, this most peculiar memory of one of the 20th century’s defining moments remained visible – until now. Amid bureaucratic indifference and a dispute between officials and the forest owner, most of the trees have been felled, chopped up and turned into paper.

      Claude Quétel, a French historian and Second World War specialist, was horrified when he discovered what he called a catastrophe and a shameless act.”

      “Locals are calling for the few “name trees” that still stand to be classified as historic monuments and saved from the same fate. “It should have been done a long time ago,” said Nicolas Navarro, the curator of a Second World War museum in the grounds of his family’s 13th-century Château du Taillis near by. “It’s sad and pathetic that it wasn’t.”

      “The trees surrounded land in the heart of Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair forest, near Rouen in Normandy, which was once home to a US army camp named after the Twenty Grand brand of cigarettes.
      It was one of nine cigarette camps – along with Pall Mall, Old Gold, Philip Morris, Chesterfield, Lucky Strike, Home Run, Wings and Herbert Tareyton – used by troops needing treatment or waiting to be sent elsewhere.They were places of calm between the D-Day landings and the Ardennes, the Siegfried Line or the Pacific.

      Camp Twenty Grand, set up in September 1944 and closed in February 1946, had tents for 20,000 US soldiers as well as a few hundred German prisoners. Some of the Americans stayed weeks, others months, bringing chocolate, fruit and parties to a French population emerging from the rigour of Nazi occupation.””
      Now requires login

      “The names of cigarettes and cities were chosen for two reasons: First, and primarily, for security. Referring to the camps without an indication of their geographical location went a long way to ensuring that the enemy would not know precisely where they were. Anybody eavesdropping or listening to radio traffic would think that cigarettes were being discussed or the camp was stateside, especially regarding the city camps.”

  7. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Oh dear. New York is having a tax revenue shortfall:

    “The Germans call it ‘schadenfreude’ when you take pleasure from another person’s misfortune,” noted Dan Mitchell, a tax expert at the Washington DC-based Cato Institute, commenting on the New York smoking tax fiasco.

    “Normally, I would think people who feel this way have a character flaw.

    “But not in this case,” he added. “I confess that I get a certain joy from this story because politicians are being punished for their greed. I like the fact that they have less money to waste.”

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

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