Thefts in German Trains and Stations up 25% from 2014 to 2015

German authorities have just released data showing a 25% increase (g) in thefts in German trains and train stations from 2014 to 2015, from 35,800 to 44,800 cases. Even the 2014 number, 35,800, represented a 20% increase from 2013. The authorities blame foreign organized-crime gangs.

You know who this affects? Every able-bodied person in Germany. Millions of Germans use trains every day, and therefore have to enter into areas where thieves are increasingly active, and the government is powerless to stop them. The police can do nothing but issue helpless-sounding tips on how to avoid being targeted.

Another communal public amenity which Germans must use becoming increasingly dangerous, another Nice Thing gone, another data point showing the gradual -- in this case, not so gradual -- decline in living standards in Germany.

Drip, drip, drip.

A lot of Germans are going to ask the perfectly reasonable question: "Why can't our government stop foreign criminal gangs coming into our country to rob us?"

And getting no straight answer from any party except The Irresponsible Populists.


Iceland is a Prosperous American Suburb

If there is one thing the world has enough of, it's "why can't we all be like Iceland?" articles. Here's the latest:

I wanted to know about the kind of society Iceland had cultivated and- what its outlooks were. How did women and men see each other and themselves? What was their character like compared to other countries I had lived in? Were women more confident, men more open-minded, children better cared for? Was life there, in any way, more balanced?

I suspected I would find enlightened ideas that benefit society, not just business, although I found that the two weren’t mutually exclusive. I spoke to innovators across genders in education, health, industry, science and the arts whose ideas exceeded my imagination.

And guess what? The author's gee-whiz tour of Iceland finds all sorts of wonderfully progressive policies. Paid family leave for daddies! Mandatory quotas for women! The world's first openly gay female head of state! Great schools filled with sensitive, caring social-pedagogues! And so on, and so on.

Many will remember probably the most stomach-turning piece of virtue-signaling the world has ever seen -- the Facebook campaign in which 11,000 Icelanders volunteered their homes to Syrian refugees, under the founder's motto: "They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children's band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman, a television host. People of whom we'll never be able to say in the future: 'Your life is worth less than my life.'"

Are you dabbing the second tear of kitsch from your eyes yet?

But guess what? None of those 11,000 virtue-signalers ever had to make good on their promise, and of course they knew that full well, since the government has a cap of a whopping 500 refugees a year.

Whoops! Did I just write 500? Sorry, the actual number is 50. Fifty. Per year.

But the empty promises of all those smug Icelanders earned Iceland yet another round of fawning publicity. The article continues the typical litany of the nauseatingly goody-two-shoes oh-so-gentle progressive paradise:

Icelandic society is proactively striving for gender equality, which sits at the centre of progress, and there are policies in place to promote gender equality in all spheres of society. Many stepping stones have led to the current gender equality legislation, including the use of gender quotas. As proven by the need for affirmative action policies in the USA, we are not yet evolved enough to choose fairly of our own volition.

After this rather sinister aside, the author does point to some of the more gloomy facts about Iceland, including this: "Iceland recently outranked the US in adult obesity (67.1 percent of Icelandic adults are overweight or obese compared to 66.3 percent of US adults)." Ha! Take that, Icelandic self-image!

You know what Iceland is? Iceland is a rich American suburb. (Or a German suburb, for that matter.) The population of Iceland is a laughably miniscule 330,000 people. And Iceland is 93% Icelandic, and 98% Northern European. Further, Iceland's median national IQ is 101, placing it 6th in the world. If you go to any large well-off suburb of the United States, you will see Icelandic living conditions: orderly homes, quiet evenings, honest officials, clean schools, smart students, modern gender roles, almost no violence, nice people, organic food, wooden toys, recycling, wine importers, futuristic espresso machines, tasteful earth-toned natural-fiber clothing, clean-lined architecture, yoga studios, women earning more than men, soccer, the whole nine yards. The one difference will be that the American suburb, although majority white, will still be more ethnically diverse than the Nordic purist's fantasy of Iceland.

Iceland is a fine place. I plan to visit one day, and I'm sure I'll be as enchanted as everyone else seems to be. But the world should stop looking at Iceland for lessons, because Iceland is a suburb, not a model society than can be replicated at will anywhere else.


Nuts and Rocks: The Right Analogy About Immigrants and Crime

As German news sources repeat over and over, the German FBI, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), has insisted that migrants are no more violent than "comparable" Germans, although there is never any detailed information about what the BKA considers "comparable" in the news reports. In any event the BKA report for the beginning of 2016 recorded 69,000 (g) attempted and completed crimes by foreigners, mostly theft and fraud.

Is this a problem? It depends on your perspective. If you think Germany has an obligation to offer a new life to millions of randomly-selected people from around the world, then you'll argue that some extra crime is to be expected, and we'd do best simply to ignore it.

The other perspective would be that Germany should proactively screen out as many criminals as possible. This is nowhere near as hard as people make it out to be. We have lots of information about what predisposes someone to crime. Past criminal history, low IQ, low impulse control, low levels of education, status of being a young male. Everyone who seeks to enter Germany without an existing job offer or university acceptance should have to provide detailed information and complete a series of tests.

Immigration into another foreign country is not a human right, except for refugees (and even refugees have a right only to locate to the first country in which they are no longer persecuted. The rest is migration). Countries are free to place whatever restrictions they choose on who gets to enter their country.

Germany is more stable, prosperous, safe, orderly, and humane than 95% of nations on earth. This leads to two conclusions. First, Germany has a lot of leverage, because tens of millions of people want to come live here. Second, Germany has a lot to lose, because letting in (1) large numbers of (2) the wrong kind of people could damage Germany's stability. As the German Social Democratic jurist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde once said (pdf), "The liberal, secularized state is nourished by presuppositions that it cannot itself guarantee." Import enough people who don't share those presuppositions and you import social conflict.

This is why I say the ideal crime rate among immigrants is 0%. That is, Germany should aim to import people who are less likely to commit violent crimes than "organic Germans", to use the phrase which has popped up in Germany lately (bio-Deutsche). We'll never get to 0%, of course, but that should be the goal. We can certainly eliminate 80% of violent crime by migrants by not allowing in any uneducated, low-IQ young males.

The right analogy, in my view, is nuts and rocks. Here's my argument. When you harvest nuts, a certain number of small nut-shaped rocks enter the hoppers. If you bite down on a rock thinking it's a cashew, you may well lose a tooth, or more. In fact, this is one of the main sources of business for personal-injury lawyers. These days, food companies have gotten very, very good at removing rocks from nuts before they reach the consumer. 

Why? Because society has determined, by regulation and lawsuit, that the ideal number of rocks in nuts is 0%. Society decided 1 rock in 1,000 nuts is too much. In fact, 1 in a million is too much. Because if you're the person who bites into that 1 rock among a million nuts, you have suffered a serious, preventable, totally unnecessary injury. Nobody -- not even food packaging companies -- will argue that even 1 rock in a million nuts is an acceptable risk. Because it isn't.

This is the analogy we should use for migrant crime. Germany doesn't have to let any migrants into its borders, except those recognized refugees who flee directly to Germany without transiting a country in which they would be safe. Immigration is a voluntary choice by the receiving country. Allowing immigration is, in theological terms, supererogatory. 

Therefore, any serious crime committed by an immigrant is analogous to a rock among the nuts. It didn't have to happen. It could have been prevented. It's not simply an inevitable fact of life we must all accept. Crime by your fellow-countrymen is. This is why no country allows you to sue the police or the government for personal damages simply for not preventing a crime which happened to you. Not even if they had advance warning you were at risk. If the rule were otherwise, the courts would drown in litigation.

But I think the policy should be different for crime committed by immigrants. These crimes, unlike crimes committed by natives, are not simply part of the background radiation of risk we face. They happened in Germany, to you, only because the German government failed to responsibly screen immigrants. The German government let in a rock among the nuts. And trust me, it's letting in far more than 1 in a million.

We should strike to ensure the number of rocks among nuts in our supermarkets is 0.

We should also strive to make sure the number of serious violent criminals among immigrants to our country is 0.

We'll never get all the way there, but the goal should be clear: 0.


Goodbye, Nice Thing: German Train Personnel to be Given Pepper Spray, Attack Dogs

Attacks on German train personnel (g) have risen 28% over last year, with 1100 such incidents reported in the first six months of 2016. Both Deutsche Bahn and the train conductors' union are now reviewing plans to equip conductors with pepper spray and give them self-defense training. Security personnel will be provided with police dogs.

Does this mean that German pensioners are turning violent in their old age? Or that middle-class commuters have decided to save their Excel spreadsheets, close their laptops, and go in for a spot of ultra-violence?

If you're one of the dwindling band of belligerently naive Germans, you will insist this must somehow be the case. If, on the other hand, you're a sentient homo sapiens capable of Noticing Things, you will understand that this increase in violence against authority figures may have something to do with the influx of over 700,000 uneducated foreign males from the most chaotic countries on earth. A lot of them fit into most of the categories below:

  • speak neither English nor German
  • have mental problems
  • have no means of private transportation
  • no money to buy train tickets
  • no understanding of how to buy train tickets
  • no understanding of train etiquette in a modern society
  • no respect for authority figures

In fact, a lot of them fit into all of the above categories. I personally have witnessed more detentions and shouting matches on German trains (4) in the past year or so than I had in the previous decade. And yes, with heavy heart and bowed head, I am constrained to report that every one featured a young male migrant.

So now there will be pepper spray and police attack dogs on German trains. I can't wait to see the fun that ensues the first time a conductor uses pepper spray in a sealed train compartment traveling 300 km/hr.

This is why we can't have nice things. 

To be more precise, one of the Nice Things we are losing in Northwestern Europe is the existence of very safe and orderly public spaces in which members of all social classes can mingle freely with minimal risk of a threat, disagreeable spectacle, or bodily injury. Parks, public swimming pools, trains, plazas, outdoor festivals, sidewalks, etc.

They're still safe, of course -- stories about Germany descending into general chaos are silly hyperbole. However, the probability of encountering a weird, disagreeable, or dangerous situation on any random long train ride or long walk in the park has increased. Everyone senses this, and lots of people are talking about it. Lots of people. And definitely not just ethnic Germans. Experience and studies show that it takes only a small increase in perceived danger and lawlessness to drive large changes in individuals' risk-perception and behavior.

If nothing's done to intervene, what will happen is the creeping privatization of German life. Your neighborhood park will become too nasty, so you'll chip in with your middle-class neighbors to create a private one, or just get a Schrebergarten. After seeing your Xth unsettling confrontation in a German train, you'll finally say "screw this" and get a car. Certain neighborhoods will go from being the kind of place where you might not want to live to the kind of place you definitely would never want to live, increasing residential segregation to Parisian or Chicagoan levels.

It'll all happen gradually to us frogs in the warming water. But before long, Germans will start prizing (and paying for) insulation from the lower orders just as much as Americans do. An they'll know whom to thank.


Welcome, Sturdy, Sober, Hard-Working Danes! (Other Danes Need Not Apply)

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Tyler Cowen reviews a new book calling into question Scandinavian welfare states as a model for the world, and working out its implications for immigration policy:

Nima Sanandaji, a Swedish policy analyst and president of European Centre for Entrepreneurship and Policy Reform, has recently published a book called "Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism." And while the title may be overstated, his best facts and figures are persuasive. 

For instance, Danish-Americans have a measured living standard about 55 percent higher than the Danes in Denmark. Swedish-Americans have a living standard 53 percent higher than the Swedes, and Finnish-Americans have a living standard 59 percent higher than those back in Finland. Only for Norway is the gap a small one, because of the extreme oil wealth of Norway, but even there the living standard of American Norwegians measures as 3 percent higher than in Norway. And that comparison is based on numbers from 2013, when the price of oil was higher, so probably that gap has widened.

Of the Nordic groups, Danish-Americans have the highest per capita income, clocking in at $70,925. That compares to an U.S. per capita income of $52,592, again the numbers being from 2013. Sanandaji also notes that Nordic-Americans have lower poverty rates and about half the unemployment rate of their relatives across the Atlantic.

It is difficult, after seeing those figures, to conclude that the U.S. ought to be copying the policies of the Nordic nations wholesale. It is instead more plausible to think that Americans might learn something from the cultural practices of Nordic-Americans. Sanandaji says those norms include hard work, honesty, a strong civil society and an ethic of cooperation and volunteerism....
 
For one thing, Nordic immigrants to the United States probably came from the better trained, more literate and more ambitious segments of the population. For instance, data on Danish migrants from 1868 to 1900 show that laborers were underrepresented in the group and artisans and craftsmen were overrepresented by a factor of two. It is perhaps no wonder that the ethnic Danes in the U.S. are relatively high earners, because they are the results of a process of positive selection.  And there is a growing literature showing that the cultural traits of migrants can persist to some degree for generations in their new countries....

Most of all we should consider the option of greater freedom of choice for residence decisions. For all the anti-immigrant sentiment that is circulating at the moment, would it hurt the U.S. to have fully open borders with Denmark? It would boost American gross domestic product and probably also improve American education. History teaches that serious assimilation problems would be unlikely, especially since many Danes already speak English. 

Open borders wouldn't attract Danes who want to live off welfare because the benefits are so generous at home.

How's this for a simple rule: Open borders for the residents of any democratic country with more generous transfer payments than Uncle Sam's.

A few observations: Simple one-to-one comparisons of Danish to American living standards are not very meaningful, because even if Americans make more money, they have higher living expenses. They have to pay for (or do without) many things a Scandinavian welfare state provides for free or subsidized. How exactly do you calculate the effect on living standards of guaranteed paid parental leave, health insurance, pre-school education, and public transportation so effective that nobody has to buy a car?

That aside, though, notice the argument Cowen is making. Cowen is a professor of economics, a centrist with libertarian tendencies, and an interesting blogger. Being libertarian, he tends to be in favor of immigration in general. Economists tend to like many kinds of immigration, because it fosters economic growth and comparative advantage and those sorts of things.

But since Cowen is a pragmatic American, he accepts two arguments as so obvious as to need no elaboration. First, that immigration should favor the talented and intelligent. The Danes America got are doing well in America because they come from a successful culture, and because they were some of the most enterprising people in that culture. Second, he notes that immigration policy should obviously not attract people "who want to live off welfare". (Also, note that he uses the word "selection" in reference to getting better Danes. The German version of this word, Selektion, is thermonuclear-level verboten in Germany because it was the term used for the process of determining which new arrivals at Nazi death camps would be selected for immediate death, and which would be put to work).

Both of these arguments will immediately be disputed in European Urban Haute Bourgeois circles. Trust me, I know from personal experience. European urban elites who have liberal-arts educations are educated in hothouses of deontological thinking, in which experiences and policies should be evaluated according to abstract universal principles of humanism. In this view, selecting immigrants is denounced as elitist, as ignoring the "sacred principle" of human equality, as treating some persons as more inherently valuable than others, and as implicitly asserting the supposed "superiority" of Western culture.

Discouraging welfare tourism is denounced for similar reasons. Also, you often encounter the notion that Europeans have no "right" to live in comparative safety and prosperity, and therefore have no legitimate objection to foreigners coming to their country and living off state assistance their entire lives. What are you trying to say, that Joseph from Cameroon somehow has less right to live off German welfare than Josef from Dibbersen? Both are human beings, both have the same entitlement to inviolable human dignity, and therefore both must be treated equally by the welfare state. You didn't choose which country you were born in, so how is it fair for you to reap the incalculable privileges of being born in a place like Germany as opposed to, say, Zimbabwe?

To which the average Brit or American (but not Peter Singer) responds: What's all this bosh? These arguments may have abstract appeal in a seminar room, but as guides for formulating policy in a Western democracy, they're useless, not even wrong. Principles are all well and good, but they're hardly a guide to practical policy-making. Favoring skilled immigrants is legal, proper, does not violate any mutual obligations we may owe to others, and benefits us. Same with making sure foreign welfare cases don't burden our system, which is designed for our people. And no, we think the notion that making sure our welfare system helps our people is not only proper, but that it's the only remotely sane approach. And we feel no need to justify or explain these views. As Disraeli said, "Never complain, never explain."

This, gentle readers, is one of the most fascinating and enduring differences between the mindset of the educated elites of the English-speaking world and those of continental Europe.


Belief in a Borderless World is 'Stupid and Lazy'

Michael Lind, a pretty interesting and sometimes contrarian American center-left political writer and critic of the Iraq War, looks at the ways in which academics and intellectuals ('Freaks') conflate their own preferences with the public good:

[I]t is natural for academics to view a borderless world as the moral and political ideal — natural, but still stupid and lazy. Make-believe cosmopolitanism is particularly stupid and lazy in the case of academics who fancy themselves progressives. In the absence of a global government that could raise taxes to fund a global welfare state, the free movement of people among countries would overburden and destroy existing national welfare states, or else empower right-wing populists to defend welfare states for natives against immigrants, as is happening both in the U.S. and Europe.

The views of intellectuals about social reform tend to be warped by professional and personal biases, as well. In the U.S. the default prescription for inequality and other social problems among professors, pundits, and policy wonks alike tends to be:  More education! Successful intellectuals get where they are by being good at taking tests and by going to good schools. It is only natural for them to generalize from their own highly atypical life experiences and propose that society would be better off if everyone went to college — natural, but still stupid and lazy. Most of the jobs in advanced economies — a majority of them in the service sector — do not require higher education beyond a little vocational training. Notwithstanding automation, for the foreseeable future janitors will vastly outnumber professors, and if the wages of janitors are too low then other methods — unionization, the restriction of low-wage immigration, a higher minimum wage — make much more sense than enabling janitors to acquire BAs, much less MAs and Ph.Ds.

The social isolation of intellectuals, I think, is worsened by their concentration in a few big metro areas close to individual and institutional donors like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. (where I live) or in equally atypical college towns. It was never possible for Chinese mandarins or medieval Christian monks in Europe to imagine that their lifestyles could be adopted by the highly visible peasantry that surrounded them. But it is possible for people to go from upper middle class suburbs to selective schools to big-city bohemias or campuses with only the vaguest idea of how the 70 percent of their fellow citizens whose education ends with high school actually live.

Germany has a sizable contingent of 'make-believe cosmopolitans' who are endangering the Northern European welfare state, probably the most civilized and humane form of government ever devised. They don't know they're endangering it, because their thinking is 'stupid and lazy'. 


The Cheapest Suffering Preventer

Via Steve Sailer, by means of comment on the Somali man who went on a stabbing frenzy in Russell Square, this BBC piece from a few years ago:

The scenario is familiar in Somalia. A man has become possessed by spirits and the only option for his family is to restrain him and call the sheikh. But as the young man protests, a voice that challenges Somali tradition booms out.

"Stop with the chains!" the voiceover orders. "Take him to Dr Hab's hospital! If he's having mental problems, take him to Dr Hab. He won't chain him, he'll help him."

Dr Hab is not actually a real psychiatrist. Rather it's the persona of Abdirahman Ali Awale, a nurse who after three months of specialist training from the World Health Organization (WHO), has made it his mission to rescue Somalia's mentally ill. He claims he is able to treat everything from post-natal depression to schizophrenia....

"There is a belief in my country that hyenas can see everything including the evil spirits people think cause mental illness," says Hab. "So in Mogadishu, you will find hyenas that have been brought from the bush and families will pay £350 ($560) to have their loved one locked in the room overnight with the animal."

"We are trying to show people that this is nonsense," says Hab. "People listen to our radio advert and they learn that mental illness is just like any other and needs to be treated with scientific methods."

Hab's campaign was prompted by an incident in 2005 when he witnessed a group of female patients being chased through the streets by youths. "There was no-one to help them," he says. "I decided after that I would have to open Somalia's first mental hospital."

The Habeb Public Mental Health Hospital in Mogadishu became the first of Hab's six centres across Somalia. Together, they have now treated over 15,000 patients.

Hab faces a near insurmountable task. WHO estimates that one in three Somalis either is or has been affected by mental illness, compared to a global average of one in 10. In parts of the country, where the population has been the most psychologically scarred from decades of conflict, the rate is even higher. Cases of post-traumatic stress disorder are common and the situation is further complicated by widespread substance abuse.

As I've argued before, I think Germany got an unusually high number of young males with mental illness in 2015, judged by the frequency of reports of irrational and violent behavior. Assume you live in a country with rates of mental illness 3 times the global average, and a mental health system in which chaining people to trees and letting them be mauled by a hyena are frequent responses. 

If you have a young son who seems to be headed down this path, why not set him on a path north to potentially get asylum in Northern Europe? Assuming his illness is not so severe that he can't follow basic instructions, he might just be able to land in Northern Europe and, with luck, bring some family members with him. At the very least he'll be able to send some money back, at some point. And even if he lands in an institution up there, he'll be out of your hair, and getting far superior care to anything he could get back home. It's win-win.

For the Somali/Iraqi/Algerian family, that is.

For Germany, which is now burdened with lifetime care for someone who will never contribute to society and who will also present a higher risk of crime, including unpredictable violent outbursts, it's lose-lose.

You know what might be a better investment than spending millions in German taxpayers' money in lifetime court cases, social worker counseling, and psychiatric treatment for one Somali male in Germany? How about using that money to support the efforts of people like Dr Hab, which have the potential to help countless thousands of people in Somalia? With no risk additional risk to Germans?

In law and economics, there is the notion of the "cheapest cost-avoider". The idea is that if you want to reduce risks or costs (often the same thing), you should put the burden of reducing risks or costs on the person or organization which can prevent them most efficiently.

Example: Assume a refinery is emitting a harmful gas as a by-product of making a product everyone needs. The emission can be stopped by forcing the refinery to install a new filter which costs a million dollars and reduces efficiency by 5%. The alternative is to not force the refinery to install the filter. But that means that the 10,000 houses in the surrounding area will each need to put special filters on their windows, that residents will need to limit the time spent outdoors, and the number of respiratory diseases will increase. The total costs merely in updating the houses will be $10 million, and the costs for more medical treatment $5 million. The costs in diminished life expectancy and in having to limit time outdoors may not be readily quantifiable, but they are obviously huge. In this case, the refinery is the cheapest cost avoider, and it should be required to install the filter. You can even, if you wish, fully compensate the refinery owner for his extra expenses and still end up far ahead. 

This is why allowing unscreened, mentally ill people into Germany is a terrible decision not only from Germany's perspective, but from the perspective of the country which sent them. Improving conditions for treating the mentally ill in Somalia is incredibly easy, because they are so primitive now. Literally anything other than hyena-mauling and tree-chaining is an improvement. You could probably fund 400 patient beds in a cheap place like Somalia for what it takes to house one mentally ill Somali in a German psychiatric hospital for a year.

Plus, no Germans will ever be harmed by a mentally ill Somali man who never enters Germany.


Enjoying a Casual Afternoon Stroll, Erect Member in Hand

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And while we're on the subject, thanks -- I guess -- to commenter Sandro for a link to this Swedish news story from 26 July. This man, according to locals an asylum-seeker from a nearby hostel, approached a 5- or 6-year old child in central Rättvik, Sweden, pulled out his penis, and began masturbating. The father chased the man away with a steel bar. The man apparently wandered around afterward, penis exposed, masturbating, and didn't stop even when someone pointed a camera at him and took pictures. Eventually the police arrested him.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, this behavior is staggeringly abnormal. There are streakers and flashers and peeping toms in any society, certainly including Sweden. They're virtually all male, of course. But even those people know what they are doing is wrong. They try to limit their period of exposure, so to speak, so they won't be caught. Their behavior certainly indicates bizarre sexual urges, but it doesn't indicate a total break with reality, or complete ignorance (or defiance) of social convention. Walking around a crowded city center in broad daylight masturbating is far beyond flashing. It invariably signals some sort of profound mental disturbance.

The chances of this man ever contributing anything positive to Swedish society are, shall we say, not very encouraging. It should also cast doubt on his asylum claim, for several reasons. First, the UN Refugee Convention specifies that asylum-seekers and refugees are obliged to follow the laws of the country which gives them refuge. Second, if this man has claimed that he fears persecution in his native country, maybe it's because he masturbated in front of children there. Political asylum is meant for people who face unjust persecution, not for those whose activity is blameworthy and criminal.


The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators

Here's a recent police press release from Erfurt (g, my translation):

Yesterday, shortly before midnight, a 21-year-old female traveler spoke to a member of the federal police in the Erfurt central station. She seemed frightened, and told the officer that she had been harassed by a man in the train from Kassel. After he had stared at her for long time, she moved to a different seat. The man followed her, sat on the seat opposite, and began manipulating his penis. He did not open his pants.

After she got out in Erfurt to change trains, the man followed her. For this reason, she approached the police officer, who located the suspect in the train station. The suspect is a 31-year-old Iranian national. Because he could not prove his identity, the officer detained him. It is also suspected that the Iranian is in the country illegally.

And here's a picture of another alleged train masturbator from Cologne, whom the police are actively seeking: 

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This guy is suspected of staring at, and masturbating in front of (g), a group of children from 6 to 8 years old in a Cologne streetcar. The children were engaged in Sternsingen ('star-singing') the German version of Christmas caroling. This involves dressing up as the Three Wise Men, singing traditional tunes, and collecting for charity. This guy apparently found this activity sexually stimulating, so he began touching himself in full view of the children, their minders, everyone else on the train, and the apparently the surveillance camera (actually, this probably isn't a picture of him in the act of jerking off in front of small children. But then again, given the facial expression, I'm not so sure).

No word on whether he unzipped his pants. I assume I speak for everyone when I say I hope he didn't.

And these are not isolated incidents. Well, in one sense they are. We have to keep a sense of proportion here, your chance of being the object of some horny foreign man's intense staring and jerking off on your next train voyage is probably very small. But there have been literally thousands of these incidents by now in Germany. Almost without exception, they involve foreign males.*

When it comes to train masturbators, I am genuinely puzzled. I have taken trains in lots of developing countries, and have never seen this behavior there. Nor have I ever seen German males doing this in Germany. I've seen them get drunk and be rowdy, but never masturbate in public. 

Another puzzling thing is that these foreign train masturbators often don't seem to worry about getting caught. Most of the time, the woman who was the focus complains to police, and they often find the guy sitting in the train seat, as if nothing had happened. Many of these train masturbators seem unaware that anything they were doing was wrong, or that the woman they were jacking off in front of would complain about that. I am sure another factor is that Germans are a confrontation-avoiding lot who would rather complain to cops than confront train masturbators. I doubt a train masturbator who jacked off in front of a girl in Egypt would reach his destination uninjured.

I surmise there's often alcohol involved here. Most of our new fellow citizens come from countries in which alcohol is hard to come by. And then they land in Germany, where you can buy a bottle of rotgut which will get you pie-eyed for 5 Euros. I sometimes see them tottering along the streets of my own neighborhood, clutching half-empty bottles of cheap 80-proof booze, talking to themselves. But then again, I see Germans doing that, too.

Yet many of these incident reports don't mention alcohol (which police reports usually do when it's in play). Which implies that these men, while completely sober, decided to take their erect penises out of their pants in public and jack off while staring at females. Sometimes while staring at children

This is why I am convinced that there are an unusually high number of young males with mental problems among the recent migrants. Public masturbation is the quintessential sign of what psychologists call disinhibition and hypersexuality. I worked for almost 4 years in a public mental hospital, and one of the things we had to teach our acutely schizophrenic clients was the necessity of not masturbating in public (they were obviously allowed to masturbate, but in private only).

We don't have reliable stats yet, but I will be happy to bet any amount of money that if we ever get them, we will find very high rates of mental illness among these young lads.  

Continue reading "The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators" »


No, It Can't Happen Here: America's Political Institutions Are Much Stronger than Trump

 

This video is making the rounds recently, mostly accompanied by a sinister warning that 'it could happen here', i.e. in the U.S. The idea is that if Americans elect Donald Trump, it could set in motion a chain of events that could transform America into a dictatorship.

Breathe easy, world. It won't happen. If America elects Trump, it will simply have made a dim narcissist demagogue President. Nothing more, nothing less. Trump will not transform the structure of American democracy because he can't. No President can, no President ever has, and no President ever will. It's that simple.

The American style of Presidential democracy, in contrast to the parliamentary style which is much more popular world-wide, has a number of disadvantages. Elections only happen every two years. The President may, and often does, lose his support in the Congress, leading to political gridlock which stymies new policy initiatives. The first-past-the-post electoral system means there are only two viable political parties. Third parties come and go, but never get a lasting foothold.

But there are advantages to the system as well. The number one advantage, by far, is its phenomenal stability. The USA has had the same system of government for the past 230 years, placing it in an extremely tiny, rarefied group of countries which have ever, at any time in history, kept the same basic governing structure this long. Even the Civil War did not interrupt the consistent election of new Congresses every 2 years.

One of the reasons for this stability is separation of powers, which strictly limits what the President can do. Here are some of the things the American President cannot do which heads of states in other countries often can:

  1.     Dissolve Congress and call a snap election.
  2.     Unilaterally declare a state of emergency.
  3.     Fire or otherwise punish or sanction members of the Supreme Court.
  4.     Unilaterally change the number of judges on the Supreme Court.
  5.     Declare war without Congress' consent (although Congress has relinquished a lot of this authority).
  6.     Change the Constitution, even if he has the support of 70% of all members of Congress.
  7.     Interfere with areas in which individual US states have exclusive legislative competence, such as family law, contract law, tort law, and dozens of other areas.
  8.     Name or replace governors of states.
  9.     Remove anyone from any political party, including his own.

Democratically-elected leaders have sometimes been able to transform their countries into authoritarian systems, and sometimes into totalitarian ones. But all of those countries differed from the United States in several critical ways. First, they usually gave the head of state at least some of the 9 powers listed above, or they gave the head of state the means to acquire some of these 9 powers. 

But the differences go even deeper:

First, their political institutions in these countries were much less robust, popular, and well-anchored. No matter how unpopular an American Congress is, Americans have never, and will never, support abolishing the institution itself. The same goes for the Supreme Court and the Presidency, for that matter. A President who suggested abolishing any of these institutions "in the name of national solidarity during a time of crisis" would be laughed at, or declared insane.

Second, the political institutions are designed for stability. Stability is one of the side-effects of the 9 limits on Presidential power listed above. There is simply no way the President can ever stop the Supreme Court from reviewing laws and declaring them unconstitutional. Now, the President can direct the executive branch to consciously and openly decline to enforce certain Supreme Court rulings, and this has happened on occasion in American history. But it's considered a major and controversial breach of trust, and hasn't happened in decades. And believe me, the US Supreme Court has handed down some extremely unpopular rulings that have gone directly against the President's wishes, such as the 2010 ruling about corporate campaign contributions, which Obama criticized in front of members of the Court.

Third, federalism. The USA is among the top 2 or 3 most federalist countries in history. Individual US states have a huge amount of authority to determine their own policies. They can and do all have their own, individual governments, including a governor, state legislature, state constitution, and state supreme court. They have their own criminal laws, family laws, tort laws, tax laws, inheritance laws, contract laws, commercial codes, hunting and fishing regulations, road traffic laws, drug laws, environmental laws, workplace-safety laws -- the list goes on and on. There is a lot of federal government legislation in some of these areas, but states still get to have their own policies, and they use this privilege with gusto. States could and would certainly rebel against any attempt to use illegitimate powers to force the entire country to obey a single unified policy handed down by an authoritarian President run amok. The Second Amendment fans among you might also point out that if the President tried to crush resistance by military force, he would face a well-armed and no doubt rebellious population.

So breathe easy, World. A Trump Presidency would be most regrettable, but the US has already had one dim, reckless, foolish President this millennium. He did a lot of damage which we're all still living with, but he didn't usher in Armageddon or AmeriKKKa, and neither will Trump.