Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Destructive Democrat hostility to business

The Democrats running things the past two years proved they have no clue about the business of business. In their world, the real world of the private economy is an abstraction, a political figment.

Exhibit A: Along the road to ObamaCare, the party's planners inserted into the bill the now- famous 1099 provision, requiring businesses to do an IRS report for any transaction over $600 annually. No member of Congress, White House staffer or party flunky thought to say, "Oh, wow, this 1099 requirement will crush people running their own businesses. Are we sure we want to do this?" Yes, and that 1099 fiasco is a metaphor now for the modern Democratic Party.

Exhibit B: The Obama ban on offshore oil drilling. It floated out of the White House, Energy Department and EPA without anyone thinking: "Whoa, this is going to kill hundreds of working-class guys and their families."

In recent days, both President Obama and Speaker-to-go Nancy Pelosi have said that the message of the voters in the election was that they wanted jobs. To be sure.

President Coolidge was more eloquent on this truth. The American people "are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. The great majority of people will always find these are moving impulses of our life."

But much of what this Democratic Congress did, or tried to do, was like throwing Molotov cocktails at business. It began in early 2009 with the cap-and-trade climate bill. The country was going to have to chow down its provisions no matter how many jobs got lost in Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and other coal-using states. The bill portended so much damage to businesses in these states that some of the Senate's most liberal members had to beg off supporting it.

At his news conference last week, Mr. Obama still wouldn't rule out the EPA's impending "carbon finding" to regulate emissions, another Freddy Krueger nightmare for the average business.

The air is filling now with suggestions of what the Democrats and Mr. Obama need to do. Always mentioned is that the president needs to repair his bad relations with "business." But this is noted as just one item on the post-election to-do list: adjust the message, go to church more, reconnect with business, put up the storm windows.

The party's decoupling from vast swaths of America at work didn't start with Barack Obama. Al Gore and John Kerry ran hard against the depredations of the insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries. The post-modern Democrats, starting at the top, convey the impression that the average company consists entirely of three guys in spats, silk vests and top hats, like the little character on the Monopoly cards, who deserve to be indicted or monitored.

And so any argument that the top marginal tax rate hits sole proprietorships and the like blows right by them. The "rich" gotta pay. They do pay, stop hiring and then they send money to American Crossroads to unelect Democrats.

As to the future, look at a map done by the National Conference of State Legislatures showing state-level party control now. The southeastern states, one of the most economically vibrant regions of the country, is wholly red. North Carolina has its first Republican senate since 1870. What's still blue on this map suggests the Democratic Party is collapsing into mostly urban, public sector redoubts—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago.

One might argue that what the post-November 2010 Democrats need is their own tea party reform movement. Problem is, they just had their version—the Soros-MoveOn-Daily Kos activists who threw over the Clintons and put the party firmly in the hands of the progressive House chairmen who stopped thinking about the private sector 35 years ago.



Soros, the damaged man

J.R. Dunn

It will come as no surprise that Glenn Beck's broadcast biography of George Soros last week has triggered a vast brawl concerning his interpretation and treatment of the topic.

The uproar revolves around Beck's portrayal of Soros' role in the Holocaust. Beck repeats the widely-known story concerning Soros' involvement in handing deportation orders to Jewish families on behalf of the Nazis. He emphasizes that Soros was only fourteen at the time, and does not condemn the activity, asserting that the matter remains "between Soros and God".

I happen to have researched the episode in depth for my upcoming book Death by Liberalism, and I can state here that Beck's narrative is completely accurate. His treatment of it is commendable, in particular his statement that no one has a right to judge the efforts of Jews to survive in Nazi-occupied Europe.

All the same, the segment has triggered a firestorm among the usual suspects, who appear to view Soros as sharing in Obama's divine status. In a hagiographic fresco dealing with the Advent of the One, the Soros halo would only be slightly smaller than that of Obama himself. In this regard, he must be defended at all costs.

First off -- as stated above, there's no question that the incident occurred. In fact, there's considerably more to it. Soros also assisted in the collection of Jewish chattels -- clothing, furniture, and the like -- for shipment to Germany. We have this on the highest authority, from an eyewitness of unimpeachable status: Soros himself. During a 1998 60 Minutes interview, Soros admitted to the entire story without hesitation, He also stated that he felt no guilt, adding that the situation cannot be understood be anyone who was not there. Then, in what might be called typical Soros style, he concludes by comparing his cooperation with the Nazis with his later activities in the markets.

As to the import of the episode -- many of the comments draw very close to Holocaust denial. How do we know, they ask, that the Jews in question were being sent to the death camps? They could have been going anywhere "to Hawaii", one thoughtful commentator states.

The truth is simple: every Jew deported from the European ghettos went directly to the camps. Most of them were gassed immediately and then -- as the survivors put it -- went up the chimneys. There is no denying this, or eliding it, or making it mean anything else other than what it is.

On to the claim that Beck is slandering Soros as a Nazi. This type of smear is not uncommon, and is usually seen headed from the left in a rightward direction, under the assumption that both conservatism and Nazism are "right-wing" doctrines. The Prescott Bush libel is instructive here. Apparently the bank on whose board Bush sat loaned money to Nazi Germany during the 1930s. This is enough for him, his son, and his grandson to be damned from here to eternity as Nazi collaborators of the foulest type, according to the American left.

In truth, Bush was in no way involved in the day-to-day operations of the bank. He may not have been aware of the loan, he may not have voted on them, he may well not have been asked his opinion. Many international banks loaned money to Germany during that period. We can judge none of them by hindsight. In the early to mid 30s, Hitler was considered to be a strongman much like Mussolini or Ataturk, a man whose stern policies and harsh ways were required by the needs of the moment. His attacks on Jews were dismissed as crowd-pleasing rhetoric. Such lofty figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rexford Tugwell, Adolf Berle, Evelyn Waugh, and Wyndham Lewis all expressed admiration for Hitler and Nazism in the early 1930s. Even Winston Churchill, Hitler's deadliest enemy, wrote that if Britain was ever caught in the same predicament as Germany, he hoped that a figure as strong as Hitler would appear to lead her out of it.

That attitude began to fade with Hitler's intervention in Spain in 1936, and vanished entirely when 1938's Kristallnacht fully revealed his monstrous intentions. Hitler's previous admirers turned away in horror, leaving only mad, capering Ezra Pound to sing his glories.

That's how such slurs work -- a nugget of fact wrapped in endless layers of distortion and innuendo. That is not what Beck is involved in. As we've seen, he retails the story straightforwardly, with no embellishment or speculation. He withholds judgment on grounds of moral discretion, and implicitly encourages others to do the same.

Then why mention the story at all? Because it's necessary. An honest portrayal of George Soros would be incomplete without it. There's an aspect of Soros' behavior that has gone unexamined and virtually unmentioned: the complete disconnect between his activities as a businessman and his ambitions as a philanthropist. Soros has, at the very least, skirted financial regulations in most or all of the countries in which he has operated. He has done worse in France, Malaya, and Thailand -- the French fined him millions, while the Southeast Asian states are reportedly very interested in speaking to him in private. He has caused enormous misery through his currency manipulations. He evidently feels no guilt concerning these matters either.

Yet this same man professes to be the greatest living champion of the "open society", the bearer of the legacy of Karl Popper (one of the few liberty-loving political philosophers of the last century), and the architect of a true people's democracy, working together with his protégé, Barack Obama.

There's something terribly wrong here. This is not the way a benefactor of humanity actually behaves. It's as if Gandhi financed his independence movement through a network of casinos, or Martin Luther King sat on the councils of Murder Incorporated. What can the explanation be?

I believe that it can be found in Budapest in 1944. The Holocaust left deep and lasting scars on all who survived it, scars that often acted to cripple their psyches for decades afterward, if not for their entire lifetimes.

It's highly unlikely that George Soros is an exception. Did the brutalization of those days find a response in buccaneer raids on the financial markets? Did the memories of what he was forced to do transform him into one of those creatures who "loves humanity and hates human beings"? Is he now little more than a shattered clockwork figure attempting in his twilight years to "do good" without the vaguest notion of what such a concept might entail?

I think the argument could be made. I await Glenn Beck's interpretation with interest. One thing we can be sure of: the left will not be any happier about it than they are with what they've already heard.



Obama's Dirty Health Care Secret

One of the dirty little secrets of Obama’s health “care” debacle is that Medicare reimbursement rates are set to go down for all health care providers effective December 1. This means that the medical professionals to whom you trust your health, and, indeed, your very life, are having a 20-30 percent pay cut forced upon them in less than a month. Imagine, say, the autoworkers--or the teachers’ unions--having to take such a pay cut. The indignant outrage would be swift and immediate. The simple fact is that doctors, whose training and wisdom often stand between us and pain or death, are more important than autoworkers or even teachers.

Doctor's rates are going down to pay for ObamaCare. ObamaCare seeks to nationalize health care by placing so many restrictions and unfunded mandates on private insurance companies that they will go out of business. Government will then step in to “manage” Medicare for the entire population, rather than only the elderly. The government monopoly on health care will most surely go just about as well as the monopoly on the post office or public education. Medicare, even if kept only for the elderly population, is going bankrupt. The only question is when, not if, Medicare (along with Social Security) will run out of money.

So how is the federal government, who has been busy creating a national deficit stretching into the trillions of dollars, supposed to sustain a program for the entire population that can’t even sustain for the elderly? Obama’s supporters glaze over and mumble, “Well, it's Medicare. It cannot go away. So stop talking about it."

The psychological process required for a catastrophe to mentally "settle in" usually comes in stages. A catastrophe such as the future implosion of entitlement benefits in America will come in stages. The first stage is happening on December 1: The decrease in reimbursement rates for doctors under Medicare. Congress might reverse the fee reductions for another month or so, but then what? The rate cuts in the legislation prove that members of both parties are aware that the government cannot continue to finance Medicare as we know it--even before the mandates imposed by ObamaCare go into full effect when government becomes the primary payer for all medical care.

Perhaps you think doctors make "too much." Specialists working outside the third-party reimbursement system (plastic surgeons, for example) can do fairly well, but general practitioners who accept Medicare do not earn as much as the liberals would like you to think. So, by what formula do you determine the right amount? Do you trust the private marketplace to set the prices by negotiation between individuals and their doctors? Or do you trust politicians in Washington, DC to determine a "one size fits all" price? If you actually believe the latter, remember that "you get what you pay for." If you think doctors, who spent thousands upon thousands for their training, are going to work twice as hard for 30 percent less pay (at least), then you had better think again. Would you? If not, then why would a doctor?

Our only hope for maintaining the quality and availability of competent doctors is the possibility that ObamaCare will be torn apart by the new Congress, or struck down by the Supreme Court before it does too much damage. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that Medicare, not to mention the entire federal government, is long since bankrupt and wallowing in ever-increasing debt. By pumping money into the financial system, the Federal Reserve is risking the greatest run of hyperinflation since the Weimar Republic of Germany, the failed government that gave rise to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. And bigger problems are looming. The massive course reversals required of our government, and needed by the entitlement-addicted American people, are much bigger than the Tea Party or anything stated in the recent election campaigns.

Don't just feel sorry for your doctors, who will be paying for our “free” health care. Feel even sorrier for yourself—whether you’re currently a patient, or might need medical care in the future. Our lives will be in the hands of doctors who have been told that they don't matter and that they are employees of the state. Their incentive will no longer be to provide excellent care. Their incentive will be to simply clock in, clock out, go through the motions and retire as soon as the government pension kicks in. Not all that different from many existing government employees.

The solution? Restore the free market, where doctors who work harder will earn more for their skill and dedication. Patients will once again be consumers who choose from competing practitioners for the best care possible. The government must get out of the way, and let people purchase their own health care in the open market--no different than how we buy computers, cars, airplane flights, food and everything else produced and delivered by people who compete for your dollar.

The transition to the free market might be uncomfortable at first. But what's the alternative? If doctors work for the government, then medical care will no longer be a profitable profession. The best and the brightest will no longer be compensated for their efforts. As with anything the government touches, the mediocre will thrive, but the brilliant will not. Innovation (the cornerstone of our medical industry) will end. Oh, yes, medical care "for all" will exist on paper. But it won't be worth the paper it's printed on.


There is a BIG new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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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)


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