Book Review – The Quetta Experience: A Study of Attitudes and Values Within the Pakistan Army by David O Smith
David Smith’s book The Quetta Experience is a groundbreaking and unique study of Pakistan army’s prestigious Command & Staff College that trains army officers for higher ranks. This book is based on interviews of American army officers who attended Command and Staff College at Quetta in Pakistan. Foreign Area Officers (FAO) of US army spent a year at Staff College.
When the biggest internal danger to America was Bible Thumping McDonald’s addicts and a spontaneous KKK takeover of the White House. I was a young brown kid growing up in a post-9/11 America. Politics was one of the last things on my mind and easily summed up as Democrats = “tolerance” and Republicans = “racist.” Barack Obama’s 2008 victory showed me that a minority in the United States could achieve anything.
All was well.
Then an apparent apocalypse happened in 2016 when the Anti-Christ was elected. I still remember watching the CNN panel go from Manhattan arrogance to DC downplaying to Rust Belt frustration to Portland freakout – the coast to coast American experience all within a day. And I kind of shared that fear too. I liked Bernie, voted for Hillary, and was aghast at Trump. I still believed my old Republican and Democrat dichotomy.
Then I decided to take a second look. I started to notice unnerving parallels between American and Indian politics, particularly those on the left end of the spectrum. Looking at it from a different angle, I realized I was misjudging the waves for the tide.
Start with a quote from Matt Stoller (2011) Change needs to happen—and it will happen, either through good leadership or through collapse.
The US has choices, most other countries dont.
With all the chaos and rioting there are no specific goals to make the US equitable, specially for the lower rungs of society. My thoughts of specific goals.
What should be done immediately
a) Give aid to direct individuals This includes free testing and health care
b) Debt Jubilee, i.e. forgiveness of debt. Rent, Mortgage forgiveness based on income/job. NOT a deferral with a huge amount coming due in the future
The President, Congress and Senators need to be more answerable to the public. The way the current system works, public votes and President, Congress and elected officials do the bidding of their paymasters, the big money Multinationals and Military Industrialist. This change is imperative for a proper functioning democracy.
a) No lobbyists, period. Caught lobbying or accepting lobby, at least a few years in Jail. Lobbying is legalized bribery and corruption.
b) Campaign Finance: I would prefer only a govt funding, equal to all contestants. Or only donations by individuals with cap on amount.
c) Two term limit for Senators
a) Let Too Big to Fail companies/banks go bust if they are not profitable , instead of propping them up with more and more trillion dollar handouts.
b) Stop derivatives being used for speculation/betting. Can be used as hedge against asset on the books. If the asset is sold, the derivative needs to be unwound.
c) Share buybacks be made illegal.
I dont think USD 6 Trillion injection into financial markets will solve the Covid19 pandemic or the chaos in the US.
To put the 6 Trillion into perspective. US GDP is USD 19 Trillion. Public debt is USD 18 trillion Interest public debt USD 479 billion/0.5 Trillion (10% of Budget)
*Some suggestions by VijayVan
Its not about cutting costs per se. Think the Henry Ford saying, workers should be able to buy what is produced. For that the US must first throw out Free Trade and embrace protectionist. Start Manufacturing and give Price protection to what is manufactured. Same for Oil, the US is self sufficient.
But all of this means ditching the Petro dollar, and the global monetary power that comes with it. So very unlikely those changes will be by choice.
A push for polices that re vitalize small towns with self reliant economies. Not just a suburban enclave dependent on commuters working in a nearby big city. Coupled with small or medium manufacturing. i.e. Supply chain is mainly within the US.
Maybe even a partial break up of Big Ag and land distribution (100 acres or so) specifically for Agriculture. I think subsidies for small scale farmers is fine. Much better that trillion dollar bail outs for Big Ags.
The US will have to make some serious decisions about being the global policeman, and conducting wars. (I doubt will happen without change in Campaign Finance/Electoral Process). The US Might has turned to “might happen”. Trillions on war, has not made the US safe. Never ending Wars and nary a benefit except debt and death. This does not mean disbanding the military. Any country needs to defend itself against invasions. The choice is wars of aggression in distant lands or developing the economy.
US Spending on wars Iraq War: +1 Trillion Afghan War: 1 Trillion Military: 500 billion/year
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!
You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else. This website isn’t about shaking the cup, but I have noticed that the number of patrons plateaued a long time ago.
I would though appreciate more positive reviews! Alton Brown’s “Browncast” has 30 reviews on Stitcher alone! Help make us the biggest browncast! At least at some point.
This episode features Omar, Mukunda, and Akshar talking to Jacob Shapiro, a very knowledgable geopolitical analyst, where we have a free ranging and free flowing conversation about various topics like the state (or lack of) the EU, Chinese diplomacy, Turkish ambitions, and the question of American dominance amongst other issues. You can find him on his Twitter where he’s always giving great, nuanced perspectives on complicated geopolitics with particularly great takes from his newsletter.
A couple years back, I spent my down time playing a video game called Plague Inc. The game starts off with you playing as a bacteria, parasite, fungus, or of course as a virus. Your objective is to spread yourself across the globe infecting as many humans as possible, eventually leading to the culling of all of humanity. To win, you must silently evolve and spread, careful to not alert too many humans nor remain too isolated. On the way, you cause travel bans, mass hysteria, political clashes, etc… Sound familiar?
Now, we are seeing an eerily recognizable reality to the fantasy of that game. Coronavirus-19 has become the modern plague of our times. And while it is no where near the level of Plague Inc’s apocalyptic end game, COVID-19 threatens to upend many of our society’s given structures and force the world down a new path.
I thought it would be a War in the mid-east that would get the dominoes falling. Turned out a real black swan. However much many think that the US stock market was on solid foundation, false premise. The underlying instabilities that caused 2008 crash never went away.
Injection of trillions, low Fed Interest rates almost free (now zero rates, i.e free) helped the stock market soar and insiders to take their money of the table. Middle class Tax payers, Pension funds, the small retail stock buyers are left holding the bag.
I expected a probable drop to 20K and a somewhat probable to 15K. The collapse and drop even surprises me, and other skeptics. Now even 15K seems highly probable. Thats why I say read alternative media, like ZeroHedge, RT and Unz (aka Fake news) to see the other side of the spin.
Boeing: When Boeing management said it was the fault of foreign pilots (in other words non white) spelt their own doom. I said Boeing should drop below 100, I did not expect this fast. Hedge fund operated Boeing, cutting corners to maximize profits. Stock buybacks, were the norm to push up stock price. Investment in safety measures, research and development, was not part of management decisions.
Maybe Trump will inject money into Boeing to get the stock price up. The insiders will sell. Retail idiots who believe Boeing is a great American Company will buy, not knowing Hedge Funds, Bezos and the like are not real Americans, i.e. those who care about the deplorables and others.
Now Trump, like the Boeing guys wants to deflect his responsibility, saying racist Chinese Virus. I think going to end much like the Boeing management.
Unhappily for the US, the alternatives in leadership are equally horrible. Biden another Trump probably worse, in the stages of Dementia and will be a puppet. If Sanders is able to get the nomination (anyone opposing Trump will win), he will be blocked by his own party the Democrats.
Update: Article by Raghuram G. Rajan, Uni of Chicago Professor and former Governor, Central Bank of India. He was one of the first (only ?) academic to warn against proliferation of MBS (Mortgage Backed Securities) and derivatives and the instability they would cause. The first domino to fall in the 2008 Financial crash. A peer reviewed journal article (2005) so was very toned down. (Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier? (2005) abstract and full article)
When Raghuram G. Rajan or Satyajit Das write I sit up and read and re-read carefully.
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.
You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else.
Would appreciate more positive reviews! Alton Brown’s “Browncast” has 30 reviews on Stitcher alone! Help make us the biggest browncast there is!
In this episode we talk to professor Wilfred Reilly, who teaches political science at a historically Black college in Kentucky. We talk about hate crime hoaxes, racism, wokeness and more..
As the United Kingdom’s Labour Party swallowed a staggering loss, it’s clear that we see a pattern across the world. Election after election, Left parties collapse against either centrist or frequently right wing parties. Does this imply a victory for the “Global Right?”
The crux of Joseph’s argument lies in the fact that Leftists have become constantly concerned with grand humanitarian conflicts and cosmopolitan problems while Right Wingers are more concerned with “skin in the game” local issues. The Leftist leader shouts in a city square about human rights abuses in Israel, America, India, the UK, etc… (all while conveniently ignoring much, much worse abuses in less pluralistic and less democratic countries). The Right Wing leader is on the hinterland battleground listening to disaffected and ignored voters about their latest economic or communal ailment. The Left has become caught up in the noise in the air while the Right have their ears to the ground.
Of course, you may notice that lately there has been some hobnobbing amongst many “nationalist” or Right Wing leaders. Yet this exercise will only go so far.
Consider this – put an American Evangelical Christian and an Indian Hindu Hardliner in a room together. While they may both agree on their disdain of radical Islam, they will reach an impasse when the Evangelical explains to the Hindu Hardliner that they will burn in hell for eternity for not believing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Hindu Hardliner will then tell the Evangelical to stop sending missionaries who destroy indigenous Indian culture with their conversion agenda. This clash will overwhelm any commonalities in the long run.
Bring a group of Leftists from disparate places such as London, New York, and New Delhi and you will have free flowing conversations about the liberation of Palestine, proper pronoun use, and how one needs to read more Marxist theory for communism to work.
Even on economics, Right Wingers from different nations will have vehement disagreements. The British Tories are distinctly to the left of American Democrats. Narendra Modi (who many times is described as “Far Right”) has enacted more “Socialist” policies in 5 years than Bernie Sanders will probably ever do in his lifetime. Modi has achieved the wildest economic initiatives of American Democrats yet is labeled as India’s doom and gloom; which is in direct contrast to his staggering electoral victories.
Finally, we have to acknowledge the grand chasm between international media’s narratives and ground realities. The raucous and slanted theater over the 2016 US, 2019 UK, and 2019 Indian elections show how massively wrong reporting was. This was a validation of localist siege mentalities regarding the media as well as the growing distrust people have in it.
What is a nation?
Is it its citizens? Its borders? Its values? Its history? Its present? Its future?
Of course, a reasonable take is that it is all of the above. The Left’s problem is that it has disconnected from its old base (the working class) partly because it has more or less forsaken the first 3 (notions of citizenship, borders, and local values).
The rural proletariat backbone of Left parties across the world have now been labeled as bigots, uncouth, and “deplorables;” simply because they refuse to digest runaway academic politicking, sneering towards their local tradition, and denigrating of their skin color or religion.
The Left’s relentless attack on their countries’ respective “majorities” has manifested into electoral backlashes. Even in loss, we’ve seen their ideologues double down on this suicidal oration.
Does this mean all minorities should be shamed and hounded for their misdeeds? Absolutely and unequivocally no. All communities in a nation, whether in majority or minority should move to remove their faults and prosper forward. However, the reality is that localist parties have now been given enough ammo from the Left to consolidate majorities in their countries. The Left’s vote bank vetos have lost their old potency and must face the mirror or face the music.
From Revolution to Rosé
The march of muddied boots under red flags used to send shivers up the spine of capitalists. Now capitalists rally around the latest “woke” trend and other inane culture wars that are ripe for the investment into perpetual outrage. Old Left leaders came from factory floors, while the current crop comes from Ivy Leagues and ivory towers. The formally faithful worker base asks for policy changes regarding welfare, wages, and trade; while the bourgeoise urban elite donors and leadership demand new articles highlighting “X-phobia” and identity politics.
And when the Left does decide to finally wade into economic issues, the results have been lackluster.
The topic of the Left’s economic evolution is worthy of a book in and of itself. Every country’s economic situation and externalities are very unique; so it is futile to paint their economic portrait either free market green or a socialist red. However, a common theme across the world has been Left parties holding the torch of economic reform only to run either half measures or trip up over useless communal quarrels.
America is a prime arena as the economic tug of war is in full force here.
While markets have recovered and wildly prospered post-2008, many Americans feel like they missed the ship. These same Americans would propel Trump into power as they saw the Democrats’ half hearted economic agenda failing them. The Democrats would face a wave of economic populism to finish what Obama started, but this would drown under toxic identity politics introduced by the mainstream Clinton camp to nullify Sanders’ swell. The problem came about when Clinton lost and now a new wave of Democrats combined both Clinton’s social agenda with Sanders’ economic direction. As various elections across the world have shown, this is not a reliable concoction.
While older Left parties were seen as champions of the working class, they have increasingly championed policies that hurt them. Open borders and mass immigration rhetoric would be devastating to lower income people with depressed wages and increased job competition. Scathing criticism of the “billionaire class” by multi-millionaire politicians not only looks like ridiculous rhetoric but is absolutely ineffective policy. Billionaires and the mega rich are indeed the global citizens that many Leftists wish they were. As Europe’s failed wealth tax experiment showed, the rich will simply move abroad or tell their accountant to move their money.
A Path Forward
A light in these dark times for the (Western) Left is demography. The youth overwhelmingly favor Left parties in places like the US and Europe (India is the opposite where youth are placing faith in the BJP). American youth even have a positive tilt towards socialism. I can imagine a recession in the near future will shatter the walls to universal healthcare, major subsidies in education, and maybe even UBI.
However, what the Left must work on is ushering in renewed faith amongst the majorities of their nations. A ceasing of incessant attacks on majority culture, customs, and values is a must. It is all right to call out the problems of slavery, imperialism, etc… of the past, but the crimes of the past should not rest on the shoulders of those in the present. Likewise, current issues regarding discrimination shouldn’t be blanketed over whole populations.
Concerning immigration, it is a topic for individual nations dependent on context and demographics. An open or loose border ideal won’t work for most nations if any due to either economic constrains or demographic antagonism.
In America at least, I see glimpses of a future winning ticket in politicians such as Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard (though both will most likely not win the primaries) who shun the vociferous social histrionics of much of their party while presenting decidedly Left articulations of economics without wading into full blown socialist visions. They stand their ground all while standing up for minorities as equal citizens instead of coddled vote banks or vilified communities. All this, while tackling the impending massive changes to the economy as the information age veers into full swing.
It is more than clear that Left parties have their work cut out for them. Introspection is the best prescription I can offer them as their current path will only lead to ruin. The world needs their kind for ideological balance, sensible opposition, and checks to an increasingly dominant right wing across the world.
Time will tell when sense returns to the Left. Till then, localism will reign.
America has a national crisis in math capacity, competence and merit. American students sharply underperform students in many countries all over the world. Including Vietnam, which is a poorer country than India per capita. We will heavily refer to the 2018 OECD PISA report in below paragraphs, but the below chart graphic is from the 2015 OECD PISA scores report because math scores are reported for more countries in the 2015 report. Perhaps the 2018 report will be revised to add more countries in the future:
In my view a level 5 PISA score is the minimum requirement for a person to be considered a high school graduate who is literate in math, able to function in the modern global economy, or be qualified to attend college. The PISA report defines a level 5 PISA score or better as a fifteen year old that “can model complex situations mathematically, and can select, compare and evaluate appropriate problem-solving strategies for dealing with them.” How does America perform in the 2018 PISA report?:
United States: 8% of students scored at Level 5 or higher in mathematics
OECD average: 11%
Six Asian countries and economies had the largest shares of students who did so:
Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (China): 44%
Hong Kong (China): 29%
Macao (China): 28%
Chinese Taipei: 23%
Note that these six countries were among the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s, far poorer than poor Americans or poor Europeans or poor Chileans can even imagine. In 1979 China was unbelievably poor. Much of the population of China–perhaps as many as 100 million–had starved to death because of extreme poverty in the 1970s. Poor children around the world are outperforming American children in mathematics despite extremely low education spending per student and very low socio-economic level of their legal guardians, where socio-economic level is defined as:
formal education of parents
Do any American high school student subgroups perform well in Mathematics? Yes, “people of color” or “minority” Americans perform well in Mathematics. America’s “people of color” or “minority” students are orders of magnitude more likely to get an 800 on the mathematics SAT than European Americans. If we assume this is an extreme tail end distribution issue related to European Americans having a lower standard deviation and non standard distribution in mathematics performance relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans, we can explore the breakdown of Americans who score between 750 and 800 on the Mathematics SAT. Here European Americans perform far better relative to “people of color” or “minority” Americans. In 2015 16,000 European Americans scored 750 or higher. 33,000 “people of color” and “minority” Americans scored 750 or higher. We further know that 51% of SAT test takers were European Americans and 49% were “people of color” or “minority” Americans. “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [33,000/16,000]*[51%/49%] or 2.15 times as likely to score 750 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans. If we examine the 107,900 test takers who got SAT math scores of 700 or higher; 59,900 are “people of color” or “minority” Americans, versus 48,000 European Americans. “People of color” or “minority” Americans are [59,900/48,000]*[51%/49%] or 1.30 times as likely to score 700 or higher on the mathematics SAT compared to European Americans. For data junkie geeks like me there is a lot more data on SAT math score distributions here and here. The Greta Anderson article’s comment section in particular has some very intelligent commentators who have studied the American SAT score distribution. This is likely to be the subject of many future blog posts and Brown Pundits Podcasts.
What about this is worrying?:
European Americans in particular are sharply under-performing both very poor children around the world and “people of color” and “minority” Americans in mathematics.
American mathematics SAT scores have fallen between 1972 and 2016. 1972 is the earliest year for which I could find comparable SAT mathematics scores. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 the SAT mathematics exam was completely restructured to make scores no longer comparable to SAT mathematics scores between 1972 and 2016.
90% or more of current jobs and businesses are likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI), brain electro-therapy (meditation . . . practiced by civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), brain sound therapy (naad or mantra yoga and their equivalents in Native American, Egyptian, Sumerian, Taoist and other civilizations around the world for over 5,000 years), bio-engineering tissue, genetic editing, and fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence. Almost all of these future disciplines are complementary to mathematics.
Future articles and podcasts are planned all six of these future disciplines. If you are curious about fused AI-brain interface synthesis intelligence, please watch my main man Elon Musk:
Some say that the tension and relationship challenges between America’s four big castes–European Americans, European “Latino” Americans, Black Americans and Asian American–are driving low math scores for European Americans “AND” other Americans. One example is where thought leader Mark J Perry explores the possibility that tension between the European American caste and the Asian American caste are lowering American mathematics performance. Excerpts of his article are reproduced below: