BEST WISHES TO ALL MY AMERICAN READERS ON THEIR INDEPENDENCE DAY
Peggy Noonan has a well-written reminder of the history behind Independence Day.
Duke's homosexual rape case elicits silence
A professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington says the outrage over a homosexual statutory rape case at Duke University is a deafening sound of silence.
Frank Lombard, associate director of Duke University's Center for Health Policy, has been accused of molesting his adopted five-year-old African-American son and offering him up for sex with strangers on the Internet. Lombard's homosexual partner, who resides in the same house with Lombard, was allegedly unaware of the activities.
Mike Adams is a professor at UNC-Wilmington and has written several pieces on the case. "The conduct that he was accused of engaging in, in front of a webcam with his five-year-old son, includes molestation," Adams explains. "There was oral sex that was involved, and other very unhealthy practices that are too grotesque for me to describe...."
In a 2006 rape case involving white lacrosse players from Duke who were accused of raping a black stripper, more than 80 university officials and professors signed a statement accusing the players of racism. The players were eventually found innocent of all charges.
Adams wonders where those professors are now in this new rape case at the university. "I expect to see a continued silence on this," he relates. "I don't expect them to ever speak out on the issue -- and I expect, as a result of that, Duke University to take a severe, severe hit in the court of public opinion."
If convicted, Lombard faces up to 20 years in prison.
Equality on Trial
by Thomas Sowell
For the fourth time in six cases, the Supreme Court of the United States has reversed a decision for which Judge Sonia Sotomayor voted on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If this nominee were a white male, would this not raise questions about whether he should be elevated to a court that has found his previous decisions wrong two-thirds of the times when those decisions have been reviewed?
Is no one supposed to ask questions about qualifications, simply because this nominee is Hispanic and a woman? Have we become that mindless? Qualifications are not simply a question of how long you have been doing something, but how well you have done it. Judge Sotomayor has certainly been on the federal bench long enough, but is being reversed four out of six times a sign of a job well done? Would longevity be equated with qualifications anywhere else? Some sergeants have been in the army longer than some generals but nobody thinks that is a reason to make those sergeants generals.
Performance matters. And Judge Sotomayor's performance provides no reason for putting her on the Supreme Court. Although the case of the Connecticut firefighters is the latest and best-known of Judge Sotomayor's reversals by the Supreme Court, an even more revealing case was Didden v. Village of Port Chester, where the Supreme Court openly rebuked the unanimous three-judge panel that included Judge Sotomayor for "an evident denial of the most elementary forms of procedural due process."
Longevity is not the only false argument for putting Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court. Another is the argument that "elections have consequences," so that the fact that Barack Obama won last year's elections means that his choice for the Supreme Court should be confirmed. This is a political talking point rather than a serious argument.
Of course elections have consequences. But Senators were also elected, and the Constitution of the United States gives them both the right and the duty to say "yes" or "no" to any president's judicial nominees.
It is painfully appropriate that the case which finally took the Sotomayor nomination beyond the realm of personal biography is one where the key question is how far this country is going to go on the question of racial representation versus individual qualifications. Too much that Sonia Sotomayor has said and done over the years places her squarely in the camp of those supporting a racial spoils system instead of equal treatment for all. The organizations she has belonged to, as well as the statements she has made repeatedly -- not just an isolated slip of the tongue taken "out of context"-- as well as her dismissing the white firefighters' case that the Supreme Court heard and heeded, all point in the same direction.
Within living memory, there was a time when someone who was black could not get certain jobs, regardless of how high that individual's qualifications might be. It outraged the conscience of a nation and aroused people of various races and social backgrounds to rise up against it, sometimes at the risk of their lives. Many, if not most, thought that they were fighting for equal treatment for all. But, today, too many people seem to think it is just a question of whose ox is gored-- or for whom one has "empathy," which amounts to the same thing in practice.
Clever people say that none of this matters because Republican Senators don't have enough votes to stop this nominee from being confirmed. But that assumes that every Democrats will vote for her, regardless of what the public thinks. It also assumes that alerting the public doesn't matter, now or for the future.
The standards for judging the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor are not the standards of either the criminal law or the civil law. That is, nothing has to be proven against her "beyond a reasonable doubt" or even by "a preponderance of the evidence." Judge Sotomayor is not in any jeopardy that would entitle her to the benefit of the doubt. It is 300 million Americans and their posterity who are entitled to the benefit of the doubt when the enormous power of determining what their rights are is put into anyone's hands as a Supreme Court justice for life.
Taxes Or Growth?
The White House now refuses to rule out raising taxes on the middle class. Meanwhile, a top finance official in the previous Democratic White House suggests a tax hike is all but inevitable. Are we being set up? It sure looks that way. And if it happens, you can mark it down: The economy will slow to a crawl and may even relapse into a deep recession. This is a complete reversal of what was promised.
"In an economy like this," President Obama said at last summer's Democratic National Convention, "the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class." That, he said, included 95% of all families. He promised flat out that he wouldn't raise taxes on families with income of less than $250,000.
How times have changed. On Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, asked point-blank several times if the president's vow was still good, would say only that "we are going to let the process work its way through." "Process"? Middle class, watch out.
Actually, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on any class — lower, middle or upper. Tax hikes in a recession are plain crazy. They will inevitably crimp economic activity, slow retail sales, kill jobs and leave the government starved of revenues. A major study in 2007 looking at recent U.S. economic history found that when the government raises taxes by 1%, U.S. GDP falls by roughly 2% to 3%. As we've noted before, the only surprising thing about this study is its author: Christina Romer, President Obama's top economic adviser.
Is he still listening to her? The sweeping ambition of the White House's plans to expand government will require massive tax hikes. This is no longer in doubt, if it ever was. Just look at the tab run up so far — and some of the costs that we might soon have to pay. All told, we'll spend $13 trillion more than we'll take in through 2019. How will we pay for it all?
The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that U.S. taxes as a share of GDP would have to rise 49% by 2035 to pay for just the spending already budgeted. And these taxes will hit all Americans, not just the "rich." This is a recipe for economic disaster. "We'll have to raise taxes soon," wrote President Clinton's former deputy Treasury secretary, Roger Altman, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece this week that sounded suspiciously like a trial balloon for Democrats in Congress and the White House.
There's a far better answer to our economic ills. At the same time the U.S. is pondering economic suicide through massive tax hikes, other countries are learning not from Obamanomics but from Reaganomics: They're pondering tax cuts. Germany's Angela Merkel wants to cut taxes, despite her country's big deficit. "How can we ensure Germany emerges stronger once the crisis is over and the cards have been reshuffled in the world? The answer is we need growth," she said this week.
Even Hungary's socialist government says the same thing. It's pushing supply-side tax cuts in 2010 to stimulate its economy. Our guess is Germany and Hungary will show more life in the next year than the U.S., unless the U.S. wakes up.
Usually at this point in the business cycle, the U.S. is the locomotive that pulls the rest of the world out of its slump. This time, the world is looking to China to get the job done. In the U.S., the rest of the world sees only a growth-killing mix of higher taxes, soaring spending, surging debt, rising inflation and growing regulation.
We could reverse this. Instead of tax hikes, we need broad-based tax cuts for families and business. But we have to act right away. After all, why let a crisis go to waste?
Predicting economic collapse
It's usually a product of governments keeping interest rates artificially low
One such theory is the “Skyscraper Index.” Developed by economist Andrew Lawrence, states that when some of the tallest skyscrapers were being built, they were followed by a large economic collapse.
This may seem surprising, but the construction industry is highly correlated with the rate of interest. For example, the Federal Reserve creates a market boom with artificially loose money through low interest rates. When the interest rates adjust, businesses realize that they made a malinvestment in projects they shouldn’t have, thus causing a recession. The Federal Reserve then does it all over again to “recover” from the recession, starting the cycle all over again. This is also known as the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT).
The construction of skyscrapers is a long-term investment requiring a lot of capital, and when interest rates are low, business owners find it most attractive to get loans to buy long-term investments. This is a perfect recipe for a “Skyscraper Index.”
The evidence for the most part is clear. For example, Economist Mark Thornton finds that the index correctly predicted the Great Depression. The 40 Wall Tower, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building were all planned and begun production right before the Great Depression.
Now, the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has put the current economic recession to the “Skyscraper Test” and found that 2008 was one of the most successful years in skyscraper construction. The tallest ten buildings constructed during that year were 31 meters above the previous highest average, which includes the Shanghai World Center and the Almas Tower.
Of course, the evidence is not perfect and this doesn’t this mean that economists and investors should always look at skyscraper construction to predict recessions. As this would turn the index into a self-fulfilling prophecy much like what is believed to have happened to the “January Effect,” which begun as a stock market predictor and has now become widespread knowledge making it worthless.
What should be learned from this is that the Federal Reserve’s policy of loose credit and low interest rates causes businesses to shift into long-term investments, as the low interest rate is supposed to be a signal of increased savings by the populace. Savings is another way of saying “delayed consumption” and businesses want to prepare for this.
But since the Federal Reserve falsifies savings, it causes business owners to malinvest. Now, this does not necessarily mean that the skyscraper is necessarily a malinvestments. What it means is that artificially loose credit makes skyscrapers more attractive for capital owners who, because of the low interest rate, seek higher returns on their money. And they then build when they should be sitting on their shovels.
The “Skyscraper Index” is a step in the right direction proving that the Austrian Business Cycle Theory is accurate, which will rightly put the blame on the government and Federal Reserve for many of history’s recessions.
In short, the “Skyscraper Index” actually does more than just predict market behavior, it portends what happens when government regulators usurp free market prerogatives. As experience has taught as time and again, when that occurs, all the economists laid end to end can’t keep America’s financial edifice erect.
For some time now, I have enabled comments on all my blogs. With one exception, I specify that all comments must pass "moderation" by me before they appear. And I do get comments from Leftists which I normally delete rather than publish. They are generally just too unintelligent to be worth publishing: Mostly abuse and baseless assertions with no attention to evidence at all.
Such comments do however serve to illustrate the inspissated darkness and ignorance of the Leftist mind so I am wondering if I should pass them all for publication -- just for their evidentiary value. They certainly establish clearly what dismal souls Leftists are.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)