Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bad laws --> Failed policies

Grand plan to save Europe is unraveling
By John W. Schoen

Europe's two-year-old strategy of austerity isn't working. And there is no Plan B.

The latest evidence that government spending cuts are driving the eurozone deeper into recession came Wednesday with a report on soaring unemployment in the zone's weaker economies.

Overall unemployment hit a 15-year high of 10.9 percent in March, driven by layoffs in Italy and Spain, a tenth of a point higher than in February, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office. That level of joblessness hasn't been seen since 1997, before the euro was introduced to world financial markets.
The average rate masks painfully high levels of unemployment in the hardest-hit countries. In Spain, which sank back into recession in the first quarter, the unemployment rate hit 24.1 percent in March, a level not seen in eurozone data stretching back to 1986. In Greece, more than one in five are out of work. In both countries, half of those under 25 are out of a job.

With deep government spending cuts only beginning, economists believe the jobless rate in Europe is headed higher.

"It now looks odds-on that the eurozone unemployment rate will move appreciably above 11.0 percent over the coming months with an ever-growing danger that it will reach 11.5 percent," said Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight.

The recession has also begun to take a toll on Germany, the flywheel of Europe's economy and the driving force in the austerity measures imposed on debt-burdened countries with the weakest economies.

German unemployment ticked up last month for only the second time in 25 months, as other economic indicators showed the country's manufacturing sector contracting.

"This is a negative surprise," said Heinrich Bayer, an economist at Postbank. "Economic weakness seems to be taking a toll after all.... We are in a phase of stagnation."

European politicians and bankers have spent the past two years cobbling together a series of plans to force budget cuts on debt-burdened countries, including Greece, Italy and Spain, in return for a financial lifeline. Those efforts initially focused on Greece, which ultimately defaulted on a portion of its debt.

Now, other countries appear to be entering the downward spiral, as spending cuts force layoffs and undermine consumer and business confidence, driving local economies deeper into recession. As those local economies shrink, so do tax revenues - forcing deeper budget cuts and increasing the government's debt burden in relation to the size of its economy.

The leaders who backed those austerity measures now face voters at the polls.

"People - voters - are making it clear to politicians that they are tired of losing prosperity," said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. "You can see that in the latest polls and surveys. It will be clear in national election results in Greece and France this weekend. Austerity is out: renewed economic growth is in."

Given the halting progress made by European leaders over the past two years, though, it remains far from clear whether they can agree on   how to shift course and promote growth.

The recession has weakened an already shaky banking system, which is operating on life support from Europe's central bank. Much of that funding, though, is being channeled back into purchases of government debt floated to fill in deficits. As demand from private investors dries up, banks have become the lenders of last resort to their governments..

That's made it harder for private companies to get the credit they need to expand operations and hire more workers.

"We're not getting reforms anywhere in Europe," said Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank. "The access to credit is not there because the governments continue to take a bigger slice of the credit cake. That is the problem."


It is becoming increasingly clear that the concept of an all-embracing "nanny state" that solves all of its citizens' social problems is simply too ambitious. Like every other organization beginning with the family, a government must have a budget and an organized approach to setting and managing its social and financial priorities.

The top priority is and always will be providing the necessities of life. Governments must first ensure that their citizens are adequately fed, sheltered, protected against criminals, educated and medically cared for before one dollar, pound or Euro is allocated for any less fundamental purpose.

This hierarchy of importance can be followed like descending a ladder, down through decreasing levels of importance until at the very bottom of the governmental priority hierarchy, one reaches things of such slight importance to society that no government is really justified in disturbing any citizen to address the desires of the very few people who are interested in such things.

There are, for example, individuals who have an interest in playing Chess competitively. Although as a spectator sport Chess is right up there with watching the grass grow, it is nevertheless absorbing (and often stressful) for those who compete in tournaments. Here is a link illustrating why Chess is so fascinating:

David Welsh vs John Dunning [see /239135 for Dunning's career] 
Turover Brilliancy Prize, U.S. Open 1968   French Defence,  Advance Variation (C02)

When I was active as a competitive Chess player, I did not expect the government to do anything whatsoever to help me or any other player, including Bobby Fischer. It never occurred to me that anyone might think the government had any obligation to assist Chess players in any way.

Playing chess is a long way from the top of the social priority list, but does entertain large numbers of citizens. The United States Chess Federation,,
whose Computer Chess Committee I chaired for more than ten years, has more than 80,000 members and also 2,000+ affiliated chess clubs and organizations.

Each member has a rating, obtained by playing in at least one tournament. All members are active players. Because I am no longer active as a player I am no longer a member, despite long meretorious service.

Continuing our journey down the ladder of diminishing priorities, we come to the American Numismatic Association: The ANA has a membership of more than 32,000 all of whom are very active and many of whom make numismatics their career.  There are more than 10,000 coin dealers in the US, and it is hard to imagine that so many dealers could stay in business without a collector base numbering in the millions.

Among many iportant affiliate organizations within the ANA is the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, ACCG is an umbrella organization for 20 affiliate member organizations with a total membership of nearly 6,000 active ancient coin collectors (about 1% of all active US coin collectors).

Again continuing our journey down the ladder of diminishing priorities, we come to the Society for American Archaeology (SAA): The SAA has more than 7,000 members representing professional, student, and avocational archaeologists working in a variety of settings including government agencies, colleges and universities, museums, and the private sector.

It would be reasonable to conclude that perhaps one third of these could be considered to be actively practicing archaeology. That contrasts sharply with the AIA's deceptive claim to have more than 250,000 members, which actually reflects names on their magazine's subscription list.

The 2000 or so active US archaeologists are for the most part reasonable people, especially those whose careers focus upon field work.Historically, field-work oriented  archaeologists have ( up until relatively recently ) cooperated with collectors and have been tolerant of collecting.

Around 1960, however, a new archaeology specialization developed, which for lack of a better description will be termed "academic archaeology."One of its earliest notables was Colin Renfrew:,_Baron_Renfrew_of_Kaimsthorn .

Renfrew's field work extended over a period of less than eight years or 20% of his thirty-nine year career. In 1980 Renfrew was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and in 1981 he was elected to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, a post he held until his retirement.

'Collectors are the real looters'

This famous dictum (often misquoted as " collecting = looting" came twelve years later, in Renfrew's reply to one of the harsher reviewers of his book on Cycladic idols (1993). It was in effect a unilateral declaration of war by one archaeologist [ at that time still quite controversial, and very far from the titled icon he later evolved into ]  upon private collecting of unprovenanced portable antiquities.

Renfrew's statement can only be described as breathtakingly arrogant moralizing. Its thesis is that by buying antiquities, collectors in Europe and the Americas induce residents of "source states" to illicitly excavate antiquities thousands of miles away. I suppose that he was perhaps justified in advancing that as a hypothesis, however others have erred greatly and culpably in accepting it without valid proof in view of Renfrew's prestige. In science prestige counts for nothing.

Since Renfrew issued his ultra-confrontational and highly questionable 1993 dictum, a claque of at most a few hundred academic "radical archaeologists" has chanted that mantra ad nauseam, revering it as though it were Holy Scripture, ignoring the indisputable fact that Oom Paul Krueger's declaration that the earth is flat (because it seems to the uninstructed eye to be flat) has every bit as much credibility as Renfrew's  hypothesis.

No one who follows anything remotely deserving of being described as a "science" or a "scholarly discipline" would ever fall into such obvious and foolish error -- much less compound the felony through their intolerant passion in pursuit of their folly.



In physics [ the only real science according to Rutherford ], action at a distance is defined as the interaction of two objects which are separated in space with no known mediator of the interaction. This is one of the fundamental objections to Newtonian physics, and was used in early theories of gravity and electromagnetism. More generally it describes the break between human intuition and provable theory.

Here "action at a distance" is relevant both because the alleged collecting/looting link involves a connection through a distance, and because the existence of such a connection cannot be accepted until rigorously proven. Archaeologists hotly dispute any attempt to introduce rigor of this nature into their discipline. All that their resistance accomplishes is to impeach and invalidate their claim to be scientists.

 Lacking any rigor, archaeology is a confusing disorganzed hodge-podge of more or less scientifically gathered [ and fairly reliable ] field-work data, and unproven [ and largely unreliable ] hypothesizing.

How pleasant it must be, not having to bother with the tiresome minutiae of proving assertions, in favor of a  "voting validity scheme" whereby a hypothesis gathers credibility by attracting support from those considered to be experts. One can advance  many more hypotheses  [gathering many more publication credits ] if proof is not required.

One can only imagine what Rutherford would have said about THAT. A new candidate for "most energetic cosmic explosion" without doubt.

What I will say: Archaeology is NOT a science (as I and other practicioners of the physical sciences understand the meaning of that word).

Its tenets and conclusions are NOT a valid basis for public policy decisions.

It is unjustifiable and indefensible to take regulatory action or form policy based upon the unproven assertions of archaeologists.



By degrees we arrive at what must certainly the lowest imaginable social priority. A few hundred clamoring obnoxiouz zealots, without scientific credentials, credibility or common sense, make sweeping, grossly unjust demands which violate the rights of twenty times as many better citizens.What folly!

What transcendental, indescribable idiocy it was for their demands to be accepted!!!!!!!!

There are no valid grounds (nor have there ever been ) for US policy makers to give any credence at all to assertions that acquisition of antiquities by US collectors somehow affects illicit excavations in other nations.

The 1970 UNESCO Convention was  based upon false premises, muddled thinking and illogical arguments. US accession was a mistake that has led to serious and flagrant abuses. Accession must be repealed and all enforcement measures must be suspended pending repeal.

Neither at that time nor since has he ( or any other archaeologist ) advanced anything resembling a proof according to the scientific method, or even any independently verifiable data that might eventually constitute part of such a proof.

Continuing down the

Sunday, April 29, 2012

State Control Collapsing

Latest Pompeii Collapse: Will State Control Model Collapse Next?
by Peter Tompa

There has been another collapse at Pompeii despite recent EU funding efforts.  See

Yet, the US State Department, the Italian cultural bureaucracy, and the archaeological lobby still maintain that the Italian State should control anything old as it is the best steward to conserve, study and protect it.

No state has enough resources to protect everything, particularly one teetering on the edge of bankruptcy like Italy.  The sooner this basic fact is recognized, the sooner more rational approaches to cultural heritage preservation-- including ones that embrace the value of private collecting-- will be tried, rather than the current approach that assumes a nation state should control everything and anything old. 


It is unrealistic to imagine that "restoring state funding" will ever become the salvation of monuments and antiquities collections that Italy is now neglecting.

State ownership is a very badly broken model. State ownership imposes governmental responsibilities that cost a great deal of money, and now there is no money, and there will never again be anything remotely resembling past lavish budget allocations for "cultural heritage."

Neither Giulia Rodano nor any other culture ministry official in Italy, Greece and many other hard-pressed nations with vast antiquities collections seems able to even begin to comprehend that everything has changed, and that nothing will ever again be the same. Like dinosaurs after the Chicxulub impact, they have no answers and very little understanding, and they are on the road to extinction.

It is also beginning to appear as though "classical archaeologists" are becoming an endangered species. Funding for excavations is vanishing now that partage has been banned. With no excavations there can be almost no research other than studying existing collections whose research potential will soon be exhausted, and without research no science can survive.

Hmmm. Who will then be left to systematically study the preserved remnants of ancient world, developing newly discovered information to expand our understanding of ancient cultures and their history?

Numismatists such as Dr. Farhad Assar, who has personally contributed much more to mankind's knowledge of the ancient Parthian monarchy, its rulers and their chronology than everything archaeologists have offered.

Students of other types of ancient artifacts such as ceramics, seals, amulets, inscribed tablets and weapons, whose expertise and research capabilities have been sadly neglected by context-worshipping archaeologists.

The discipline of "antiquarian studies" will resume its former place as the fountainhead of knowledge derived from physical examination of the remnants of the ancient world, while "classical archaeologists" turn to academia as a venue to purse their endangered careers. Some will find suitable appointments, but how many archaeology students will present themselves for instruction?