Thursday, December 22, 2011


Jon Stewart mocks the idea of a “War on Christmas” by featuring images of huge Christmas (or “holiday”) trees located in public spaces throughout the nation. The bit provides a stark verbal-visual juxtaposition for the amusement of progressive nabobs.

Logically, such anecdotal evidence is as invalid as concluding that malnutrition doesn’t exist based on photographs of overweight Americans.

If Mr. Stewart directed his attention to the various “Winter” programs performed in public schools throughout the country—or to the city of Santa Monica—he might come to a different conclusion.

That city’s Palisades Park has long displayed a series of Nativity scenes assembled by various church groups. This year, however, only two of the 21 display areas focus on Christmas. Another, appropriately enough, has a Hanukkah theme.

Three, however, tout anti-religious messages, and the rest are empty—all thanks to non-resident atheist activist Damon Vix and his cohorts from American Atheists Inc. and the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The Trinity of in-your-face displays wish holiday viewers a “Happy Solstice,” place the Christian faith on the same level as the Olympian god Neptune, and provide spectators with this intellectually dubious observation by Thomas Jefferson: “Religions are all alike—founded on fables and mythologies.”

Apparently the rigorously applied PC rule that regularly silences public religious expressions that “might give offense” doesn’t apply when the offending shoe is on an atheist’s foot.

The fact that most of the atheist-reserved spaces in Santa Monica are empty speaks volumes about the ongoing war on Christmas. Displays that once gave joy and hope now offer nothing to lift the spirit. Angels, shepherds, wise men, and lovable critters are replaced by a void that aptly symbolizes an uncaring, godless universe.

Scenes depicting the holy family are banished. In their place stands a barren, undecorated sign whose “Happy Solstice” greeting mocks the spiritual legacy of a civilization that for almost two millennia has expressed gratitude to a god who revealed himself in the humble form of an infant.

San Diego’s “December Nights” in Balboa Park provides a more understated version of secularization. The Holy Day that must not be prominently displayed is mentioned indirectly in the third paragraph of the event’s Internet description—and then only as the name of an international festival where one can sample “food from around the globe.”

This “secular sanitization” of our cultural heritage brings to mind Alfred North Whitehead’s delightful rebuke of Voltaire’s excessively critical philosophical musings: “If men cannot live on bread alone, still less can they do so on disinfectants.”

Kudos to cities like Poway that still embrace these “offensive” but uplifting words: Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Break out the bubbly. California’s unemployment rate plummeted to 11.7 percent in October (down from 11.9 the prior month). If national stats for November are any indication, the Golden State may approach 11 percent by Christmas. But before the party gets too euphoric, some Grinchly accounting is in order.

First, it’s worth noting that only Nevada’s October unemployment rate (13.4) exceeds that of California. Then there are the numbers for Riverside County (13.7), which surpass even the unlucky figure posted by Nevada.

The really bad news comes when one scrutinizes long-term trends. A study commissioned by “City Journal” found that California’s employment picture had become “far less vibrant and diverse” even before the recent recession. Below are some grim statistics:

From 1992 to 2000 California experienced dynamic growth in business start-ups, especially in Silicon Valley. A total of 776,500 net jobs were created when start-ups are offset with closures. By contrast, the state suffered a net loss of over 250,000 jobs in the same category over the next eight years—a difference of over a million jobs. In short, even before the 2008 recession, California had stopped attracting new business investment.

Job production in large metropolitan regions also plummeted when compared with the prior eight-year period. Specifically, from 1992 to 2000 the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas added over 1.1 million new jobs. Yet from 2000 to 2008 these areas (including Orange County and Silicon Valley) created fewer than 70,000 new jobs.

In addition, the jobs created in California from 2000 to 2008 generally paid much less than those created earlier. From 1992 to 2000 almost 909,000 net jobs were created in high-paying industries. That lofty figure fell to a negative 270,000 during the next eight years.

The bright spot for good jobs from 2000 to 2008 was in housing and construction—sectors now moribund after the real estate bubble burst.

The lion’s share of jobs created in California from 2000 to 2008 was in the generally low-paying “administration and support” category. This fact corresponds with the study’s finding that employment growth was confined largely to jobs paying between 50 and 75 percent of the state average.

A final fly in the bubbly concerns the dramatic reduction in jobs with firms having over 100 employees. That number dropped from a positive 564,000 in 1992-2000 to a negative 685,000 over the next eight years.

The primary culprits behind these Scrooge-like figures, according to various analysts, are “suffocating regulations…and a political class uninterested in business concerns, if not downright hostile to them.”

Put briefly, Sacramento is too much in tune with the Occupy movement.