Saturday, October 16, 2010

It is Congress that is exporting American jobs

Here’s a “shocker”: U.S. companies that operate overseas are keeping profits there and investing rather than repatriating the profits — because of punitive taxation. According to Frank Aquila at Bloomberg News, there may be as much as $1 trillion of U.S. profits overseas that are simply not being repatriated.

Why? Because it would mean a stiff tax on those businesses.

Recently, Congress severely limited the use of the Section 956 foreign income tax credit by U.S. companies that operate overseas as a part of a bill that included a $26.1 billion bailout to bankrupt states like New York and California. As a result, the U.S. is now simply missing out on foreign-generated capital flows back into the economy. This is a trend that will only grow worse unless the imbalance is restored.

U.S. companies are being incentivized to create jobs and expand operations overseas by our own punitive tax structure. This makes no sense. Through an anti-competitive tax environment, high labor costs, and inflated property values, the U.S. is driving investment and jobs into the arms of foreigners.

Aquila calls for a holiday on this tax, but why not eliminate it all together? Overseas companies are already taxed in the nations they do business in. The difference is that they are taxed at much lower rates than the U.S. where the corporate tax is 35 percent. Under the new law, companies cannot claim a tax credit for those overseas profits. So, they’re just not repatriating the profits.

This tax is literally killing capital flows back into the economy. If there’s really as much as $1 trillion in U.S. profits not being reinvested here, we’re committing economic suicide. If the tax were eliminated, the repatriated profits would more than make up for the trade deficit to China, which was $227 billion in 2009.

It is capital that could be used to create jobs here and increase the nation’s productive capacity. Foreign companies like Toyota have more of an incentive to build a factory in America than some U.S. companies do. Because Toyota is not taxed when it wants to invest in America. But an American company is — if its profits are coming from overseas.

What’s the sense of the nation exporting anything or expanding overseas if the profits are not reinvested here? China repatriates its earnings. Taxing foreign income is the equivalent of a business encouraging investors to put their money into competitors across the street.

So, while Congress and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are busy obsessing over the Chinese yuan’s fixed exchange rate, perhaps they should instead turn their attention to the globally uncompetitive situation the U.S. economy is in.

The House recently passed legislation that would make “undervalued” currencies be considered by the Department of Commerce as a subsidy under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. This will enable higher countervailing duties to be imposed on Chinese goods, making them more expensive for U.S. consumers to buy.

Of course, in principle there would be nothing to stop the Chinese’s own version of the Department of Commerce from defining the depreciating dollar as a subsidy under WTO rules, increasing the cost of U.S. goods overseas. Put another way, the U.S. can devalue its currency all it wants to boost exports — other nations are following suit, and the only impacts will not be on restoring the trade deficit or creating new jobs here, but on increasing inflation and the cost of living for average Americans.

Conversely, the U.S. could tell successful companies that operate abroad to repatriate their earnings here tax-free. And keep it that way. The only way to restore global imbalances is to create an attractive environment to move capital back into America and to produce things here.

The other part of that necessarily is to rein in regulatory burdens, high labor costs, land use restrictions, and environmental regulations that make it cost-prohibitive to invest here. If these constraints are not removed from the economy, the flight of capital overseas will continue. The U.S. needs to lower the cost of doing business here.

Congress limited the foreign income tax credit under the bogus justification that it would make U.S. multinational corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes. Instead, that money is staying overseas, creating jobs and investment there — as was predicted by critics. This is economic suicide. U.S. companies that operate overseas account for nearly half of all American exports, and employ 22 million Americans. Why is Congress encouraging them to shift more operations overseas?

Critical investment capital is being diverted abroad that could instead be devoted here at a time when the weak recovery is slowing down and unemployment remains high. The tax should be completely eliminated, and companies incentivized to use foreign profits to enhance the nation’s productive capacity: to build new factories here in the U.S., invest in research and development here, and create jobs here.

SOURCE

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Democrats hurting business, economy

Democrats talk a good game about small business, but actions speak louder than words. Obama and the Democrats are pushing a tax increase that would hit 50 percent of small enterprise income and their massive health-care law saddles business with a flood of tax-filing paperwork for expenditures as low as $601.

Such government meddling in the economy and the threat of more have injected so much uncertainty into economic planning that businesses small and large are hesitant to invest until they get a clearer picture of the tax and regulatory environment. Democratic policies haven't reduced unemployment. Their stimulus did more to protect government jobs than lay the foundation for robust private-sector job creation.

It's no wonder that an alarmed business community is pushing back this election cycle, funneling campaign contributions to candidates and independent groups rallying around a pro-growth and jobs-creation agenda.

The White House response has been again to demonize its opponents. Obama accused the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to fund campaign activities -- a criminal act. The basis for this accusation? An unsubstantiated allegation on a left-wing blog. Recall how Democrats lambasted Republicans for taking their lead from Rush Limbaugh? Well, here's the president of the United States passing along an outrageous, unfounded bit of Internet character assassination.

An independent watchdog group, FactCheck.org, said there was "no evidence" backing this charge, as did several major media outlets not known for Republican leanings, such as the New York Times.

When challenged about the weakness of the accusation on the CBS program "Face the Nation," presidential adviser David Axelrod said, "Well, do you have any evidence it's not true?" In other words, the chamber is guilty of a crime until proved innocent. Thank you for your lesson on American civics, Mr. Axelrod. As the FactCheck organization notes, others such as the extreme left-wing group MoveOn.org have followed Axelrod's unscrupulous tactic.

The fact is that liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican groups take money under rules that don't require them to reveal donors. Some, like the chamber and the big unions, do collect contributions from foreign sources but don't use them for U.S. electioneering.

The Democrats are raising this red herring in a desperate attempt to distract the voters from their failed economic policies, the 9.6 percent unemployment rate, slowing GDP growth and the vastly unpopular ObamaCare.

SOURCE

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Liberals dislike constitutional government

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) was being pressed in a live TV debate, so he may be excused for blurting out the truth. Here’s a portion of what very liberal Mr. McGovern said:
"We have a lousy Supreme Court decision [in the Citizens United case] that has opened the floodgates, and so we have to deal within the realm of constitutionality. And a lot of the campaign finance bills that we have passed have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I think the Constitution is wrong. I don’t think that money is the same thing as human beings."

What a stunning statement! There are several things to consider in this argument. For us as constitutional conservatives, it’s entirely acceptable to disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court. I say every day that Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision and should be corrected. The Kelo ruling set a dangerous precedent.

Congressman McGovern doesn’t take issue with the Supreme Court, however, he says the Constitution itself is wrong. Did Mr. McGovern take an oath to support the U.S. Constitution? Does he consider himself bound by his oath?

Sure, you can responsibly disagree with portions of the Constitution. Ronald Reagan, for example, disagreed with the two-term limit for President. He thought the Twenty-second Amendment had been a mistake. But Reagan dutifully left office after two terms. Reagan would have supported an amendment to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, but as long as it was in the Constitution, he felt bound to respect it.

In Congressman McGovern’s case, however, we see why liberals believe in a “living Constitution.” The living Constitution idea was characterized by Justice Scalia as a Magic Slate. You can write on it, get the interpretation you want, then lift up the plastic screen, and re-write your constitution, according to the passions of the moment.

I think Mr. McGovern is wrong in his analysis of the Citizens United ruling. The Supreme Court did not say that money was more important, or even the same thing, as human beings. It said nothing like that. What the Court did say is that you don’t lose your First Amendment rights because you express your ideas through a corporation, a union, or a non-profit organization.

In striking down major portions of the McCain-Feingold Act, the Supreme Court ruled that government cannot stop pro-life groups, for example, from highlighting the records of politicians like Jim McGovern before an election. By preventing pro-life citizens from drawing voters’ attention to how their elected representatives actually vote, this unwise and unconstitutional measure denied citizens their rights to communicate about political matters. That’s one of the main reasons for the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

Now that he mentions it, does Jim McGovern really think “money is [not] the same as human beings?” If so, maybe he’ll join Congressman Mike Pence’s (R-Ind.) drive to de-fund Planned Parenthood. That outfit gets billions in taxpayer funds and it kills 350,000 unborn children—undeniably human beings—every year.

It would be great to welcome Jim McGovern to the ranks of those of us who believe human lives are more important than money. I’m not cynical, but I must admit I have doubts that Mr. McGovern, should he win re-election next month, will put his fine words into practice when it comes to unborn children.

Now, we can see why “constitutional conservatism” is important. Without a firm reliance on the Constitution as our anchor, the entire ship of state is adrift. Under the current administration and the current Congress, our ship of state is headed for the rocks.

SOURCE

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Obama’s Radical Past

And his connection to socialism isn’t all ancient history, either

On the afternoon of April 1, 1983, Barack Obama, then a senior at Columbia University, made his way into the Great Hall of Manhattan’s Cooper Union to attend a “Socialist Scholars Conference.” There Obama discovered his vocation as a community organizer, as well as a political program to guide him throughout his life.

The conference itself was not a secret, but it held a secret, for it was there that a demoralized and frustrated socialist movement largely set aside strategies of nationalization and turned increasingly to local organizing as a way around the Reagan presidency — and its own spotty reputation. In the early 1980s, America’s socialists discovered what Saul Alinsky had always known: “Community organizing” is a euphemism behind which advocates of a radical vision of America could advance their cause without the bothersome label “socialist” drawing adverse attention to their efforts.

A loose accusation of his being a socialist has trailed Obama for years, but without real evidence that he saw himself as part of this radical tradition. But the evidence exists, if not in plain sight then in the archives — for example, the archived files of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which include Obama’s name on a conference registration list. That, along with some misleading admissions in the president’s memoir, Dreams from My Father, makes it clear that Obama attended the 1983 and 1984 Socialist Scholars conferences, and quite possibly the 1985 conclave as well. A detailed account of these conferences (along with many other events from Obama’s radical past) and the evidence for Obama’s attendance at them can be found in my new book, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

The 1983 Cooper Union Conference, billed as a tribute to Marx, was precisely when Obama discovered his vocation for community organizing. Obama’s account of his turn to community organizing doesn’t add up. He portrays it as a mere impulse based on little actual knowledge. But that impulse saw Obama through two years of failed job searches. Clearly he had a deeper motivation. The evidence suggests he found it at the Socialist Scholars conferences, where he encountered the entrancing double idea that America could be transformed by a kind of undercover socialism, and that African Americans would be the key figures in advancing community organizing.

The 1983 conference took place in the shadow of Harold Washington’s first race for mayor of Chicago. Washington was not only Obama’s political idol, he was the darling of America’s socialists in the mid-1980s. Washington assembled a “rainbow” coalition of blacks, Hispanics, and left-leaning whites to overturn the power of Chicago’s centrist Democratic machine. Washington worked eagerly and openly with Chicago’s small but influential contingent of socialists, many of whom brought the community organizations and labor unions they led onto the Washington bandwagon.

America’s socialists saw the Harold Washington campaign as a model for their ultimate goal of pushing the Democrats to the left by polarizing the country along class lines. This socialist “realignment” strategy envisioned driving business interests out of a newly radicalized Democratic party. The loss was to be more than made up for through a newly energized coalition of poor and minority voters, led by minority politicians on the model of Harold Washington. The new coalitions would draw on the open or quiet direction of socialist community organizers, from whose ranks new Harold Washingtons would emerge. Groups like ACORN and Project Vote would swell the Democrats with poor and minority voters and, with the country divided by class, socialism would emerge as the natural ideology of the have-nots.

Figures pushing this broader strategy at the 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference included ACORN adviser Frances Fox Piven and organizing theorist Peter Dreier, now a professor at Occidental College and an adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. That is to say, Obama’s connection to socialist ideologues didn’t end with his recruitment into the ranks of community organizers. It began there and blossomed into a quarter century of intricate relationships with both on-the-record and in-all-but-name socialists.

More HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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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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Friday, October 15, 2010

Lagging U.S. life expectancy ranking blamed on health system

Blaming the U.S. health system is pure unsubstantiated speculation and they offer no evidence for it. It's just their theory. But what would we expect of a study that was paid for by the Commonwealth Fund? The Fund is led by Karen Davis, a nationally recognized progressive economist.

The fact that other nations have improved more quickly than the USA could simply mean that the US average is held back by the unhealthy lifestyles and resultant low life-expectancies of America's large black minority -- but such a possibility would be unthinkable to a "progressive" of course. The speculation concerned below -- JR


The United States is falling sharply behind in worldwide rankings of life expectancy, and shortcomings in the U.S. health care system may be to blame, scientists say.

Researchers studying the issue concluded that obesity, smoking, traffic accidents and homicide can't account for the drop" -- leading us to believe that failings in the U.S. health care system, such as costly specialized and fragmented care, are likely playing a large role," said Peter Muennig of Columbia University, lead author of the study.

In the research, which appears in the Oct. 7 online issue of the journal Health Affairs, Muennig and coauthor Sherry Glied of Columbia cite the growing lack of health insurance among Americans as a possible culprit.

The study looked at health spending, behavioral risk factors like obesity and smoking, and survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the U.S. and 12 other industrialized nations.

While the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates decade by decade from 1975 to 2005, the researchers found that other countries enjoyed even greater gains. So the U.S. slipped in the ranking, even as per capita health care spending rose at more than twice the rate of the other countries.

Around 1950, the United States ranked 5th for life expectancy at birth for women and 10th for men among developed countries, according to research cited by Muennig and Glied. The most recent figures, from the CIA World Factbook, rank the United States 22nd among those same countries.

Muennig and Glied found similar trends in the 13 countries that they studied, though they only examined 15-year survival rates for people at age 45 and 65.

When they compared risk factors, they found very little difference in smoking habits between the U.S. and the comparison countries; in fact, U.S. smoking rates declined more quickly than most other countries.

And while people are more likely to be obese in the U.S. than elsewhere, this was also the case in 1975, when the U.S. was less far behind in life expectancy, the investigators noted. Moreover, they said, the percentage of obese people actually grew faster in most of the other countries between 1975 and 2005.

Homicide and traffic deaths, meanwhile, have accounted for a stable share of U.S. deaths over time, and can't explain the drop in life-expectancy ranking, the scientists said.

The most likely remaining explanation is flaws in the health care system, said Muennig and Glied, pointing to the role of unregulated fee=for-service payments and high reliance on specialty care amid skyrocketing costs.

"It was shocking to see the U.S. falling behind other countries even as costs soared ahead of them," said Muennig. "But what really surprised us was that all of the usual suspects -- smoking, obesity, traffic accidents, and homicidesare not the culprits."

SOURCE

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NYT defence of Woody Wilson and the early 20th century "Progressives" gets a robust reply

An online discussion entitled “Hating Woodrow Wilson” hosted by The New York Times is being used by the Left as a way to attack and sully Fox News personality Glenn Beck who has been sharply critical of the former president and the progressive era in general. But it does offer a number of engaging nuggets that are worth reviewing.

Some of the liberal commentators make the point that Beck and company are too fixated on Wilson and do not take into proper account the progressive contributions of Teddy Roosevelt and others. The discussion does open some worthwhile historical considerations that serious thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum should peruse.

Michael Lind with the New America Foundation throws down the gauntlet with this dig at conservatives:
“Each faction on the right has had its own view of the past, with its own canon of heroes and its own list of villains. While many conservatives claim to be ‘constitutionalists,’ some states’ rights theorists argue that not only the Civil War but also the Founders’ Constitution of 1787 led to a tyrannical consolidation of power in the federal government. For decades highbrow cultural conservatives have accused the 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau of wrecking Western civilization with his cult of the primitive.

For most conservatives, however, the fall of America from the paradise of small government to the hell of statism came with the New Deal and the Great Society. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, one would think, would be more natural targets of the right than Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps someone should tell Glenn Beck.”

One of the most insightful, probing contributions in the exchange comes from George H. Nash, a historian and biographer, who explains how contemporary Tea Party activism directed against President Obama’s policies also connects with renewed antipathy toward Wilsonian progressives. He writes:
“In place of a regime of carefully limited government, the Progressives initiated one of potentially unlimited government guided by bureaucrats and experts increasingly insulated from popular consent. In place of the traditional understanding of our rights as natural and unalienable, the Progressives claimed that our rights were derived from government — the state — and could be created or abridged as the custodians of the state deemed expedient, in the light of modern conditions and the perceived imperatives of progress.

“Why is this view of Woodrow Wilson now agitating the American Right? The answer is simple: conservatives see in the Obama administration another great leap in the working out of an unconstrained, Wilsonian vision of government-from-above. And like Americans in 1776, conservatives are responding with the cry: Don’t tread on me!

“As the Tea Party movement attests, conservative Americans resent the royalization of American politics that has afflicted much of American liberalism for decades. They do not want to be ruled or ‘nudged’ by a government of their “betters.”

“Like America’s Founders, conservatives in 2010 prefer a government of and by, and not just for, the people.”

This is the kind of unfiltered, robust exchange that The Times should pursue.

SOURCE. No mention from the Left of Wilson's racism or TR's war-mongering, of course. For more history of the Fascistc "Progressives", see here -- JR

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Capitalism Saved the Chilean Miners

The profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at the mine rescue site

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism. Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:
"The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper."

Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners.

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit. This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above.

A remarkable Sept. 30 story about all this by the Journal's Matt Moffett was a compendium of astonishing things that showed up in the Atacama Desert from the distant corners of capitalism.

Samsung of South Korea supplied a cellphone that has its own projector. Jeffrey Gabbay, the founder of Cupron Inc. in Richmond, Va., supplied socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria, and minimized odor and infection. Chile's health minister, Jaime Manalich, said, "I never realized that kind of thing actually existed."

That's right. In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry. But the reality behind the miracles is the same: Someone innovates something useful, makes money from it, and re-innovates, or someone else trumps their innovation. Most of the time, no one notices. All it does is create jobs, wealth and well-being. But without this system running in the background, without the year-over-year progress embedded in these capitalist innovations, those trapped miners would be dead.

Some will recoil at these triumphalist claims for free-market capitalism. Why make them now? Here's why. When a catastrophe like this occurs—others that come to mind are the BP well blowout, Hurricane Katrina, various disasters in China—a government has all its chips pushed to the center of the table. Chile succeeds (it rebuilt after the February earthquake with phenomenal speed). China flounders. Two American administrations left the public agog as they stumbled through the mess.

Still, what the political class understands is that all such disasters wash away eventually, and that life in a developed nation reverts to a tolerable norm. If the Obama administration refuses to complete free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, no big deal. It's only politics.

But that's not true. Getting a nation's economics right is more important than at any time since the end of World War II. Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil are pulling away from the rest of their hapless South American neighbors. China, India and others are simply copying or buying the West's accomplishments.

The U.S. has a government led by a mindset obsessed with 250K-a-year "millionaires" and given to mocking "our blind faith in the market." In a fast-moving world filled with nations intent on catching up with or passing us, this policy path is a waste of time.

The miners' rescue is a thrilling moment for Chile, an imprimatur on its rising status. But I'm thinking of that 74-person outfit in Berlin, Pa., whose high-tech drill bit opened the earth to free them. You know there are tens of thousands of stories like this in the U.S., as big as Google and small as Center Rock. I'm glad one of them helped save the Chileans. What's needed now is a new American economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

FL: Judge rules ObamaCare challenge can continue: "In a blow to the Obama administration, a federal judge in Florida today issued a ruling allowing parts of a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the recently passed health care legislation to proceed. The two parts of the law that will proceed to trial are expansion of Medicaid and the individual mandate that requires qualifying individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014.”

All strung out on Koch: "So what’s all this scandal-mongering about libertarian billionaire business owners David and Charles Koch supporting libertarian causes? Republican billionaire business owners support Republican causes. Is that a scandal? Democrat billionaire business owners support Democrat causes. Is that a scandal? Yet because the Kochs advocate freedom (libertarianism) they’re reviled by the likes of CommonDreams, calling them ‘The Money Behind the Hate: The Kochtopus’ alongside the ‘Wanted for Climate Crimes’ poster on their website.”

“Nobody gets their kids back”: "The ‘Petition for Abuse/Neglect’ filed on behalf of Cheyenne Irish by New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) alleges that the baby, who was born on October 6, was ‘neglected’ by her mother on that very day in the hospital where the infant was born. What this means is that Stephanie Taylor’s act of ‘neglect’ was to give birth to her child, and that the only way she could have avoided that charge was to have Cheyenne killed in utero. Because Stephanie had neglected this supposed duty, the DCYF kidnapped Cheyenne a little more than 16 hours following her birth.”

Invisible victims: "Laws, policies and regulations based on over-caution and political correctness can kill. We need to make invisible victims, visible. … The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. Drugs must meet FDA approval before they can be marketed. FDA officials can make two kinds of errors. They can approve a drug that has unanticipated, dangerous side effects that might cause illness and death. … FDA officials have a bias toward erring on the side of over-caution. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution, approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media, patient groups and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who’s to know? The victims are invisible.”

Mass pessimism in Obama's America: "Americans say they have weathered the worst of the longest recession in seven decades, even as they are pessimistic about prospects for their retirement years, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. "I see some hope, but not a lot," says poll respondent Brian Ridlon, 34, an out-of-work resident of Green Mountain, Arkansas, who wants to learn how to become a barber. "There are some avenues to improve yourself, but we need more." What optimism there is about the immediate future doesn't carry over to the longer term. Pluralities of those polled say they're not hopeful they will have enough money in retirement and expect they will have to keep working to make up the difference. More than 50 percent aren't confident or are just somewhat confident their children will have better lives than they have...

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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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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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Wrong Way To Think About Inequality

In the last month, a new paper from Michael Norton and Dan Ariely has drawn some attention to the issue of wealth inequality in America. The paper, called "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile at a Time," finds that Americans underestimate the inequality of America's wealth distribution and express a preference for a more equal distribution. Indeed, while the top quintile of Americans hold about 84% of national balance sheet wealth, survey respondents believe the figure is just 59% and would prefer a figure of 32%. The authors use the paper to argue for more redistributive policies -- or rather, for the insertion of these public preferences into policy debates.

The paper has been widely discussed in the blogosphere (for example by Matt Yglesias on the left and Reihan Salam on the right.) I am unimpressed with the paper for a few reasons, and generally think we should be cautious about the idea that America needs sharply more wealth redistribution (especially to the radical degree that would be implied in the paper.) I do think that there are valid reasons to be concerned about distribution of resources, or to favor more egalitarian policies, but that they are not implied by this paper.

I have three key objections to the paper. First, in asking respondents to develop ideal wealth distributions, the authors told survey respondents to imagine they would be "randomly assigned" to one of the wealth quintiles -- implying that effort plays no role whatsoever in wealth accumulation. Second, there is little reason to believe that the public is good at evaluating ideal distributions of wealth -- as demonstrated by the impossibility of the preferred wealth distribution found in the paper. Third, the paper focuses on wealth distribution, when income distribution is a better metric for inequality.

The first objection undermines the authors' finding that Americans would prefer a highly equal distribution of wealth, where the top quintile's wealth holdings (32%) would outstrip the bottom quintile's (11%) by less than three-to-one. (In fact, the bottom two quintiles in America hold approximately zero net wealth.) In forming this ideal distribution, respondents were told they would be "randomly assigned to a place in the distribution... from the very richest to the very poorest."

Essentially, they were being told to discount the possibility that they would work to improve their lot in the distribution, if they so chose. They also were not advised that the economic policies required to achieve such an equal wealth distribution would shrink the economy overall. This question framing may have helped point respondents to endorse a wealth distribution that could not be produced by a set of policies observed in any country with a high degree of human development.

This leads to by second objection. I noted that respondents expressed a preference for a wealth distribution with 11% of wealth in the hands of the bottom quintile. In a section of the paper called "Americans Prefer Sweden," the authors note that over 90% of respondents prefer a wealth distribution modeled on Sweden's, including 11% of wealth for the bottom 20% of people, to that of the United States.

Except that Sweden's bottom quintile doesn't actually hold anywhere close to 11% of that country's wealth. If you notice footnote 2 of the paper, you'll see this comment: "We used Sweden's income rather than wealth distribution because it provided a clearer contrast to the equal and United States wealth distributions; while more equal than the United States' wealth distribution, Sweden's wealth distribution is still extremely top heavy."

That is, the authors took a completely different measure of inequality and presented it as a chart of wealth distribution by quintile -- the chart does not represent a wealth distribution actually observed in a country. In fact, it is unlikely that any advanced country has a wealth distribution with anywhere close to 11% of wealth held by the bottom quintile.

There is a reason that the bottom two quintiles of households have essentially no net worth, in countries all around the world: people with low incomes tend to consume their incomes rather than saving them. They do this partly because saving is a luxury relative to their consumption options, and partly because they expect higher incomes in later years and are smoothing consumption over their lifetimes. This is true even in countries with significantly lower income inequality than the United States, such as Germany.

Unlike income distributions, the World Bank doesn't produce international comparisons of wealth allocation. But the paper that Norton and Ariely cite for wealth distribution statistics has figures for a number of countries. Of the figures it contains, the highest wealth share for a bottom quintile in an advanced country is 2.1 percent, in Japan -- a far cry from 11 percent. (China's bottom quintile holds 2.8 percent of that country's wealth.)

Other advanced countries closely track the minus 0.1 percent figure in the United States, which means that bottom-quintile households have slightly more debt than assets: minus 0.2 percent in Germany, 0 percent in Australia. (There is something screwy with the figures for Denmark and Sweden, which show the least-wealthy household quintiles having sharply negative net wealth; that seems unlikely, and the source data are in a language I don't speak.)

A drop in income inequality would largely serve to increase consumption by poor households (a perfectly reasonable policy goal), not to increase their wealth. No plausible set of tax-and-transfer policies could produce the wealth distribution advocated in this paper. The only way you could get the bottom quintile's wealth share into double digits would be to force these households to save large shares of their income that they would prefer to consume.

For example, if we achieved Sweden's income distribution (the most equal among the world's advanced countries) we would also need to have equal saving rates in each quintile in order for the bottom quintile to hold 11 percent of wealth. This would not be desirable: low-income households get more utility from saving less and consuming more.

So, what should we make of the fact that 92 percent of study participants thought a wealth distribution with 11 percent in the hands of the bottom quintile looked better than the actual wealth distribution in the United States? I'd say the key takeaway is that members of the public are not good at looking at pie charts of wealth distribution and deciding which represents a good society. It's a bit like asking people what's the best mix of materials to use when making a jumbo jet -- how on earth should they know?

Finally, I think this study would have been a lot more interesting if it had asked about income distributions rather than wealth distributions. Net worth misses a lot of important but off-balance sheet assets and liabilities that we hold. One is human capital -- a recent graduate of medical school is likely to have a negative net worth but is not "poor" by any reasonable definition. Another important asset is the expectation of receiving future government benefits, including Social Security and Medicare. If these factors are included, America's wealth distribution becomes significantly less skewed.

And except for very rich people, the income statement is a far better predictor of living standard than the balance sheet. Think about a middle-class family of four with annual expenses of about $60,000 after taxes. In determining whether the family could meet those costs, would you first ask about family assets or family income? Over the next year, most people will rely much more on human capital than on balance sheet wealth to support themselves, which makes balance sheet measures a weak indicator of need.

There is an important discussion to be had about income inequality and the desirable level of progressivity in government policies. But this paper, which points toward an outcome that could only be achieved with extremely undesirable policies, does little to inform that debate.

SOURCE

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ObamaCare blowback

By Jeff Jacoby

"WE HAVE to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last spring about her party’s 2,000-page health care overhaul. What she didn’t realize was that the more Americans find out about ObamaCare, the more they turn against it. Virtually from the day it was signed, a majority of Americans have favored repealing the massive law.

According to two polls released this past week — one a national survey by Rasmussen, the other a poll of key congressional districts for The Hill — they still do. So naturally congressional incumbents are touting their opposition to the health care law.

Representative Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania has a TV spot in which a woman says approvingly: “You saw him when he voted against health care.’’ Virginia congressman Glenn Nye plays up the way he “took on Congress . . . voting against the health care bill because it cost too much.’’ South Dakota’s Stephanie Herseth Sandlin makes the same point in a humorous commercial starring her 22-month-old toddler, Zachary. Ads with similar messages have been aired by US Representatives Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Walt Minnick of Idaho, and Bobby Bright of Alabama. Plenty of Republicans are playing up their vote against the unpopular law — but these are all Democrats who voted no.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. “When people better understand the Affordable Care Act, they’ll understand, I think, that this isn’t something being done to them but is something that’s really going to be valuable to them,’’ President Obama insisted last month. “The debate in Washington is over.’’

The debate is anything but over. As health insurers are forced to raise premiums in order to cover the cost of the new benefits required under ObamaCare, Americans are finding out just how “affordable’’ the Affordable Care Act really is. In recent weeks, Aetna, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, and other carriers have announced rate increases, attributing at least part of the higher charges to the richer benefits mandated by the new law — such as the elimination of lifetime coverage limits, “free’’ immunization for children, and the elimination of co-pays for mammograms and other preventive care. Presidents can promise to bend the cost curve, but the laws of supply and demand do not bow to presidential promises: More health care coverage costs more money — money that sooner or later comes out of consumers’ pockets.

Insurers are not responding to the new law and its expensive new mandates solely by raising premiums. Some are dropping out of insurance markets altogether.

Late last month, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care announced that it will stop providing Medicare Advantage insurance policies at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in New England to find some other way to pay for health benefits those policies covered. Harvard Pilgrim’s hand was forced, a company spokesman said, by the “cuts in Medicare . . . being used to fund national health care reform.’’

Another insurer pulling the plug is the Principal Financial Group, an Iowa-based company that currently insures 840,000 customers. “The company’s decision reflected its assessment of its ability to compete in the environment created by the new law,’’ reported the New York Times. “More insurers are likely to follow Principal’s lead.’’

Principal is a relatively small insurer, but even insurance giants are walking away from some segments of the business. UnitedHealth, Wellpoint, and Humana will no longer write individual child-only insurance policies, thanks to the new law’s requirement that such plans must also cover children who are seriously ill. Insurance companies are not charitable foundations; they cannot stay in business by insuring the health of people who are at a 100 percent risk of getting sick. As The Washington Post explained, “the pool of children insured by child-only plans would rapidly skew toward those with expensive medical bills, either bankrupting the plans or forcing insurers to make up their losses by substantially increasing premiums for all customers.’’

Meanwhile, 30 major corporations are still able to offer low-cost health insurance to their employees only because they have received one-year waivers of the new rules from the Department of Health and Human Services. What happens when those waivers expire is anybody’s guess. But this much is clear: If the law with its expensive mandates remains on the books, millions of Americans are going to lose the health care plans they have now — plans the president repeatedly promised they could keep. Which is why just about the only Democrats campaigning on ObamaCare today are the ones who voted against it.

SOURCE

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There's a Reason Why They Call Him "Dick"

Ann Coulter

If the Bush administration ever treated terrorism suspects the way Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal treats law-abiding citizens and small businesses, even conservatives would have blanched.

This activist, interventionist Democrat -- like his identical, slightly less oily twin, Eliot Spitzer -- decided at age 5 he was going to be a U.S. senator and then the first Jewish president. And he doesn't care how many lives he has to destroy to get there.

Currently, Blumenthal is running for the U.S. Senate against Linda McMahon in Connecticut. He must be stopped.

Among Blumenthal's taxpayer-funded citizen-persecution projects was the one he waged against Gina Kolb, owner of Computer Plus Center in East Hartford. After selling $17.2 million worth of computers and servers to the state in 2001, Kolb found herself being sued by Blumenthal for $1.75 million for allegedly overcharging the state $500,000.

Publicity-whore Blumenthal sent out an accusatory press release about Kolb, saying: "No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the state without severe consequences." Soon thereafter, Kolb was arrested at her home on seven first-degree larceny charges, courtesy of Connecticut's crazily hyperactive attorney general.

A court dismissed all charges against Kolb and her company in 2008. But not before this female businesswoman had her company completely shattered by the pathologically ambitious attorney general.

I'm sorry, I know you need to be on television every single day, Dick, but that's not enough of a reason to destroy innocent citizens' lives, much less use taxpayer money to do so.

Kolb was far from the only innocent citizen persecuted by Blumenthal. The reason we know her story is that, instead of moving as far away from Connecticut as she could, Kolb turned around and sued the state for violating her constitutional rights.

The jury agreed, awarding her $18 million for Blumenthal's "pattern of conduct" that destroyed Kolb's business and impugned her integrity.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Barack Obama and the Chamber of Secrets: "So, who’s left to demonize? The Girl Scouts? Rotary Clubs maybe? We’re running out of devils to distract us. Then again, the Obama administration’s preposterous attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does nothing to help Democrats and everything to reinforce the moderate voter’s perception that the president’s party has gone bonkers.”

Distributism: More than a middle way: "Distributism is often misconstrued as a ‘third way’ between capitalism and socialism, taking the best of both but modulating their excesses. This is incorrect. As Medaille shows, distributism is not so much — indeed not at all — a ‘third way’ between different approaches but a different road entirely. This is in part because capitalism and socialism are not themselves separate ways. Marx and Hayek both contended, for example, that should their views be adopted, the state would wither away. Instead, under either communist regimes or capitalist economics, the growth of the state has increased, and with it has come increased reliance on centralized power and a crushing debt burden.”

Obama admin. expected to appeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” ruling: "The Obama administration is expected to appeal as soon as Wednesday a federal judge’s ruling that halted the Defense Department from enforcing its policy that bars openly gay people from military service, according to senior administration officials familiar with the government’s plans. … sources familiar with the government’s plans expect a motion for an emergency stay to halt the injunction to be filed first with [U.S. District Court Judge Virginia] Philips as a matter of procedure. If she rejects it, as expected, the request for an emergency stay would accompany the formal appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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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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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Look Who's Nativist Now

Democrat racism

Michelle Malkin

Oh, this is side-splitting: After exporting U.S. jobs, importing foreign debt and kowtowing to global thugs shamelessly over the past two years, the Obama administration is now playing the America First card. Democrats deserve a Guinness World Record award for their election-season cognitive dissonance.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and their mynah bird operatives across the country accused Republicans last week of benefiting from "money from foreign corporations" -- which liberals claim the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling into domestic political ads.

Democratic clown prince Al Franken is leading a Senate inquisition against the chamber. A Democratic National Committee ad lambasted the GOP for "Stealing Democracy," complete with piles of Asian currency. Endangered Democratic candidates across the country are dutifully parroting the line of attack, which originated with the Center for American Progress, funded by far-left billionaire George Soros.

It's beyond comical to watch the party that cries "RAAAACISM" whenever conservatives question their shady foreign funny money suddenly sounding the alarm over non-U.S. campaign cash. And it's beyond galling to hear Democrats fret about foreign intrigue while the foreign agent-in-chief has inextricably tied America's fate to the Chinese holders of our T-bills. Guess we're all "nativists" now, eh, Obama?

The chamber-bashing claims are so baseless that The New York Times concluded that "there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents."

Liberal CBS journalist Bob Schieffer scoffed at Axelrod: "If the only charge three weeks into the election that the Democrats can make is that somehow this may or may not be foreign money coming into the campaign, is that the best you can do?"

The Associated Press and the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Factcheck.org also shredded the White House smear, and Democrats told the Los Angeles Times they were uneasy with the McCarthyite tactics.

GOP candidates should remind voters of all the shady foreign and mystery cash the Democrats and their deep-pocketed donors have pumped into the political system.

Convicted fraudster and former top Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu -- who ran several Hong Kong companies into the ground and built a massive Ponzi scheme with still-unidentified sources of income -- raised millions for the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Obama.

Obama Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, a soft-on-China corporate lawyer, collected thousands of dollars from "monks" and "nuns" at a Buddhist temple while running for governor of Washington.

The Federal Election Commission imposed a record-setting $719,000 in fines against Democrats for the 1996 Chinagate campaign finance scandal.

And the Obama campaign itself solicited foreign donations on its website -- even cashing in a contribution from one Canadian donor who warned, "I am not a (sic) American citizen!"

Acknowledging the hypocrisy of the Team Obama assault on the Chamber of Commerce, one top Democratic staffer warned this week: "The White House may reap the whirlwind."

As well they should. While they gin up anti-GOP fear and hostility among blue-collar Americans worried about the economy, Team Obama has presided over job-killing policies that are driving companies overseas. The Obama drilling moratorium forced several American oil rigs to abandon the Gulf of Mexico. Radical environmental rules are strangling coal workers in West Virginia, where Democratic Senate candidate and Gov. Joe Manchin has filed suit against the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.

Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso and Utah GOP Rep. Rob Bishop pointed out in a new report on the Democrats' War on Western Jobs that the White House green agenda is driving mining jobs overseas and increasing our reliance on foreign nations for metals and minerals that power our economy and are integral to national defense technology.

In another high dose of cognitive dissonance, Obama has been pushing solar panels and other green technology pet projects as a way to create jobs and promote energy independence -- while ignoring the fact that the rare earth metal market needed for such green technology is dominated by ... China. After years of environmental obstruction of the industry, Democrats are now rushing to re-open rare earth metal mines in the face of this national security threat. The last one shut down in 2002. It could take up to 15 years to get it back up and running again.

The inconvenient truth: American workers are reaping what the newly nativist left has sown.

SOURCE

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More Leftist authoritarianism: “I don’t want drivers talking on phones”

From the Nanny-in-Chief on down, Big Brother reigns in Washington as every department from Health and Human Services to EPA to Transportation seek ways to tighten their grip on American choice.

A day after a federal court judge in Detroit ruled that forcing Americans to buy health insurance is constitutional, transportation secretary Ray LaHood let it be known that Detroit auto manufacturers might have to abandon in-car connectivity systems that they have spent millions developing. Nanny LaHood, reports the Automotive News, “believes motorists are distracted by any use of mobile phones while driving, including hands-free calls.”

Not content to enforce existing distracted-driver laws, LaHood has been building a case for a non-permissive standard where drivers must be mute, two-hands-on-the-steering-wheel autobots.

“I don’t want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they’re driving,” LaHood said this week calling for research on hands-free systems. Hands-free phone conversations are a “cognitive distraction,” he says. And eat your broccoli!

The potential restrictions have meant the auto industry has had to arm itself with more lobbyists to make their case for in-car communications systems. Ford’s SYNC and GM’s OnStar system, with about 5.7 million subscribers, are testing applications that would let users make audio updates to their Facebook pages and have messages from the social-media site read to them while driving. “I’m absolutely opposed to all of that,” said King LaHood.

What’s next? A ban on small children in cars? Tethers to force both hands on the wheel? No passengers in the front seat?

SOURCE

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Freer Is Better

John Stossel

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom lowers the ranking of the United States to eighth out of 179 nations -- behind Canada! A year ago, it ranked sixth, ahead of Canada.

Don't say it's Barack Obama's fault. Half the data used in the index is from George W. Bush's final six months in office. This is a bipartisan problem.

For the past 16 years, the index has ranked the world's countries on the basis of their economic freedom -- or lack thereof. Ten criteria are used: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights and freedom from corruption.

The top 10 countries are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Denmark and Chile.

The bottom 10: Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Venezuela, Burma, Eritrea, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

The index demonstrates what we libertarians have long said: Economic freedom leads to prosperity. Also, the best places to live and fastest-growing economies are among the freest, and vice versa. A society will be materially well off to the extent its people have the liberty to acquire property, start businesses, and trade in a secure legal and political environment.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, which compiles the index with The Wall Street Journal, says the index defines "economic freedom" to mean: "You can follow your dreams, express yourself, create a business, do whatever job you want. Government doesn't run labor markets, or plan what business you can open, or over-regulate you."

We asked Beech about the U.S. ranking. "For first time in 16 years, the United States fell from the 'totally free' to 'mostly free' group. That's a terrible development," he said. He fears that if this continues, productive people will leave the United States for freer pastures.

"The United States has been this magnet for three centuries. But today money and people can move quickly, and in less than a lifetime a great country can go by the wayside."

Why is the United States falling behind? "Our spending has been excessive. ... We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. (Government) takeovers of industries, subsidizing industries ... these are the kinds of moves that happen in Third World countries. ..."

Beach adds that the rule of law declined when the Obama administration declared some contracts to be null and void. For example, bondholders in the auto industry were forced to the back of the creditor line during bankruptcy. And there's more regulation of business, such as the Dodd-Frank law for the financial industry and the new credit-card law. But how could the United States place behind Canada? Isn't Canada practically a socialist country?

"Canada might do health care the wrong way," Beach said, "but by and large they do things the right way." Lately, Canada has lowered tax rates and reduced spending.

More HERE

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Earth to Obama

To be so completely disconnected from political reality and the investor class, the president must be from another planet

Larry Kudlow

Believe it or not, with jobs falling for four consecutive months and unemployment stubbornly high near 10 percent, President Obama is out on the campaign trail bashing businesses and promoting class warfare. Huh? Oh my gosh is he off message.

He’s slamming the Chamber of Commerce for allegedly using foreign money in campaign ads, even though there’s not one shred of evidence of this. Huh (again)? Is the Chamber really a big election-year issue? Is it causing high unemployment?

Of course, Obama never mentions the unions, including the SEIU and AFL-CIO, and all their foreign money from their big international affiliates. Instead, he extends his own cast of villains, attacking special interests, Wall Street banks, corporations, the oil industry, the insurance industry, credit-card companies, AIG, and ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil? What did they do? Oh, they’re an oil company. Phew. Kind of anti-business, wouldn’t you say?

Obama then blasts millionaires and billionaires, waging war on capital and investors, too. Next he talks about getting young people, African Americans, and union members to the polls. Even more division. Even more class warfare.

All this, of course, from the “post-partisan” president who was going to bring us all together for change.

But what’s truly incredible about Obama’s pre-election performance is how it totally misses the mark on the issues that really matter, like high unemployment, low growth, big-government spending, Obamacare, and tax hikes. That’s the stuff people are really talking about.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Billets and bullets for the troops but not ballots?: "It’s utterly amazing that our nation’s leadership is able to send our troops around the world and overnight have sleeping quarters (known in military parlance as ‘billets’) constructed to house them. It is equally amazing that the required arms (bullets) can be shipped with equally profound efficiency and timely deliverance to any spot determined by that same leadership, anywhere in the world. And yet, the same leadership fails to deliver election ballots to the very people who defend the right to vote for every other American. Is that a failure in leadership? [It's just the usual Leftist crookedness. The military is overwhelmingly conservative so must be stopped from voting]

How do we know what we know?: "While traveling back to America at the end of World War II, Vonnegut asked a friend what he had learned from his wartime experiences: ‘never to believe anything my government tells me,’ the friend answered. Because the state is grounded in such a network of lies, contradictions, deceptions, and conflicts, it is safe to say that political systems are inherently in conflict with reality, and must resort to intentional distortions of truth as a way of trying to appear coherent to a gullible public.”

Yes, Paul Krugman thinks Obama is a “small spender”: "Paul Krugman wrote a head-scratching column Sunday titled, ‘Hey, Small Spender.’ In the column, Krugman not only argues that President Obama’s stimulus package was too small, but he even claims that Obama and his administration did not create a bigger government. He asserts that people think Obama is a big spender as a result of ‘a disinformation campaign from the right.’”

Work choices, money, and status: "As the time horizon gets long, the effects of monetary incentives and status motives may be hard to disentangle. In the short run, you raise marginal tax rates, and few people reduce work effort, because the status of being ‘employed’ is much higher than the status of being a homebody. However, once a few people decide to become homebodies, the status of being a homebody goes up enough that many people choose not to work. So the long run effect of the higher marginal tax rate is much higher than anything you might have predicted, because it has affected cultural norms.”

Tariffs benefit few, at cost to all: "Protectionism still flourishes — even in our deeply integrated global economy and even though economists almost unanimously find it short-sighted — because there is an asymmetry of information between stakeholders, which produces an asymmetry of motivations. Protection seekers have a reasonably good idea of the windfall to expect if their proposals are implemented. A steel tariff of 20 per cent, for example, might enable domestic producers, through higher prices and greater market share, to increase profits by an aggregate $100 million a year. However, the typically larger costs associated with a steel tariff are borne by a mostly unwitting public, whose incentives to lobby against the tariffs are muted by the fact that those large costs are spread across millions of consumers.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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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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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why so many of us resent the "elites"

by Peggy Noonan

If you write a column, you get a lot of e-mail. Sometimes, especially in a political season, it's possible to discern from it certain emerging themes – the comeback of old convictions, for instance, or the rise of new concerns. Let me tell you something I'm hearing, in different ways and different words. The coming rebellion in the voting booth is not only about the economic impact of spending, debt and deficits on America's future. It's also to some degree about the feared impact of all those things on the character of the American people. There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.

This is part of what's driving the sense of political urgency this year, especially within precincts of the Tea Party.

The most vivid illustration of the fear comes, actually, from another country, Greece, and is brilliantly limned by Michael Lewis in September's Vanity Fair. In "Beware Greeks Bearing Bonds," he outlines Greece's economic catastrophe. It is a bankrupt nation, its debt, or rather the amount of debt that has so far been unearthed and revealed, coming to "more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek." Over decades the Greeks turned their government "into a piƱata stuffed with fantastic sums" and gave "as many citizens as possible a whack at it." The average government job pays almost three times as much as the average private-sector job. The retirement age for "arduous" jobs, including hairdressers, radio announcers and musicians, is 55 for men and 50 for women. After that, a generous pension. The tax system has disintegrated. It is a welfare state with a cash economy.

Much of this is well known, though it is beautifully stated. But all of it, Mr. Lewis asserts, has badly damaged the Greek character. "It is simply assumed . . . that anyone who is working for the government is meant to be bribed. . . . Government officials are assumed to steal." Tax fraud is rampant. Everyone cheats. "It's become a cultural trait," a tax collector tells him.

Mr. Lewis: "The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. ... Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible."

Thus can great nations, great cultures, disintegrate, break into little pieces that no longer cohere into a whole.

And what I get from my mail is a kind of soft echo of this. America is not Greece and knows it's not Greece, but there is a growing sense – I should say fear – that the weighty, mighty, imposing American government itself, whether it meant to or not, has for years been contributing to American behaviors that are neither culturally helpful nor, as we now all say, sustainable: a growing sense of entitlement, of dependency, of resentment and distrust, and an increasing suspicion that everyone else is gaming the system. "I got mine, you get yours."

People, as we know, are imperfect. Governments, composed top to bottom of imperfect people wielding power, are very imperfect. There are, of course, a million examples, big and small, of how governments can damage the actual nature and character of the citizenry, and only because there was just a commercial on TV telling me to gamble will I mention the famous case of the state lotteries.

Give government the right to reap revenue from the public desire to gamble, and you'll soon have government doing something your humble local bookie never had the temerity to try: convince the people that gambling is a moral good. They promote it insistently on local television, undermining any remaining reserve among our citizens not to play the numbers, not to develop what can become an addiction. Our state government daily promotes what for 2,000 years was understood to be a vice. No bookie ever committed a crime that big.

Government not only can change the national character, it can bizarrely channel national energy. And this is another theme in my mailbox, the rebellion against what government increasingly forces us to become: a nation of accountants.

No matter what level of life in which you operate, you are likely overwhelmed by forms, by a blizzard of regulations, rules, new laws. This is not new, it's just always getting worse. Priests are forced to be accountants now, and army officers, and dentists. The single most onerous part of Obamacare is the tax change whereby spending $600 on goods or services will require a IRS 1099 form. Economists will tell you of the financial cost of this, but I would argue that Paperwork Nation is utterly at odds with the American character.

Because Americans weren't born to be accountants. It's not in our DNA! We're supposed to be building the Empire State Building. We were meant, to be romantic about it, and why not, to be a pioneer people, to push on, invent electricity, shoot the bear, bootleg the beer, write the novel, create, reform and modernize great industries. We weren't meant to be neat and tidy record keepers. We weren't meant to wear green eyeshades. We looked better in a coonskin cap!

There is, I think, a powerful rebellion against all this. It isn't a new rebellion – it was part of Goldwaterism, and Reaganism – but it's rising again.

For those who wonder why so many people have come to hate, or let me change it to profoundly dislike, "the elites," especially the political elite, here is one reason: It is because they have armies of accountants to do this work for them. Those in power institute the regulations and rules and then hire people to protect them from the burdens and demands of their legislation. There is no congressman passing tax law who doesn't have staffers in his office taking care of his own financial life and who will not, when he moves down the street into the lobbying firm, have an army of accountants to protect him there.

Washington is now to some degree the focus of the same sort of profound resentment that Hollywood liberals inspired when they really mattered, or seemed really powerful. For decades they made films that were not helpful to our culture or society, that were full of violence and sick imagery. But they often brought their own children up more or less protected from the effects of the culture they created. Private schools, nannies, therapists, tutors. They bought their way out of the cultural mayhem to which they'd contributed. Their children were fine. Yours were on their own.

This is part of why people dislike "the elites" and why "the elites," especially in Washington, must in turn be responsive, come awake, start to notice. People don't like it when they fear you are subtly, day by day, year by year, changing the personality and character of their nation. They think, "You are ruining our country and insulating yourselves from the ruin. We hate you." And this is understandable.

SOURCE

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The Wealth Inequality Mirage

While most Americans are concerned about the country's high unemployment rate, a few elitists seek to use it as a pretext for their leveling agenda. Whether the country is prosperous or struggling to climb out of recession, as now, they complain about an economic inequality that they exaggerate.

These "levelers" care more about equal outcomes than equal opportunity. They misunderstand the dynamic of the American economy. Their "remedies" would do more harm than good.

Chief among them is Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton and now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. A few days ago, in a radio interview on National Public Radio, he said this:

"Unless we understand the relationship between the extraordinary concentration of income and wealth we have in this country and the failure of the economy to rebound, we are going to be destined for many, many years of high unemployment, anemic job recoveries and then periods of booms and busts that may even dwarf what we just had."

Mr. Reich is wrong. He and other levelers exaggerate economic inequality, eagerly, because they rely on pretax income, which omits the 97% of federal income taxes paid by the top half of income earners and the many "transfer payments," such as food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare. This exaggerated portrait of inequality undergirds the present effort by the Democrats to raise income tax rates for people with taxable incomes of $209,000 a year on joint returns and $171,000 a year on single returns.

A more meaningful measure of inequality comes from an examination of spending. On Wednesday the Labor Department presented 2009 data on consumer spending, based on income quintiles, or fifths. This analysis shows that economic inequality has not increased, contrary to what the levelers contend.

Differences in per-person spending from the lowest income fifth to the highest are not dramatically different from 20 years ago. These measures of spending show less inequality than do measures of income.

These data are important because the mirage of expanding income inequality is being touted by some Democrats as an excuse for tax increases on upper-income people, and to justify to Americans a European-style social contract of higher government spending and taxes.

That's the main battle between Republicans and Democrats in the November 2 congressional election. Republicans want to keep current tax rates to encourage businesses to expand and hire workers. Democrats want to raise taxes for the top two brackets, and point to rising income inequality as justification.

The Democrats say they would use the additional tax revenue to shrink the budget deficit, but inevitably some of that additional revenue would be spent on programs that redistribute income.

The Labor Department data, which are published every year, track spending by income group. Spending is vital because it determines our current standard of living and our confidence in the future. It shows how much purchasing power Americans have. The usual pretax measures of income, on which most inequality studies are based, don't show how much purchasing power some Americans have because they omit other benefits, and so don't provide an accurate measure of purchasing power inequality.

Further, income quintiles have different demographic characteristics, so comparisons of quintiles can be misleading. In 2009, households in the lowest fifth had an average of 1.7 people, and in half these households there were no earners. The highest fifth, however, had 3.1 persons per household, with 2.0 earners.

Household size at the bottom has been shrinking faster than at the top, adding to a false perception of inequality. Over the past 20 years, the size of households in the bottom quintile has declined by 5.6% and the middle quintile by 3.8%, whereas the size of the top-quintile household has been unchanged. This is due not only to the increased longevity of today's seniors, but also to the higher numbers of divorced couples and single-parent households.

Calculating spending on a per-person basis (these are my calculations, from the official data) produces comparable measures. The average annual spending for a household in the lowest quintile was $21,611, or $12,712 per person. In contrast, the average spending for a household in the top quintile was $94,244, or $30,401 per person.

On a per person basis, the new Labor Department numbers show that in 2009 households in the top fifth of the income distribution spent 2.4 times the amount spent by the bottom quintile. That, Professor Reich might note, was about the same as 20 years ago. The top quintile spent 1.8 times what the middle quintile spent per person. And that ratio has not been increasing.

On a per person basis, those in the bottom group spent 2.8% less in real terms in 2009 than in 2008 due to the recession. In contrast, those in the top quintile spent 0.6% more, and those in the middle quintile spent 0.7% more.

But compared with 1989, the big winners are the lowest-income group, which spent 9.1% more per person in constant dollars. In contrast, the highest group spent 2.6% more, and the middle group increased its spending by 1.1%.

Income and spending do not tell the whole story about how well Americans are doing. A higher percentage of low-income Americans own their homes free of mortgage debt than do upper-income Americans. Twenty-six percent of households in the lowest income group and 31% in the next-to-lowest group owned their homes debt- free in 2009, compared to 27% in the middle quintile and 18% in the top quintile. There are more seniors in the lower two quintiles, and many have paid off their homes.

Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work. They and their families simply want a chance to work, a hope that tomorrow will bring better employment prospects than today. The two major political parties have diametrically opposed policy prescriptions to appeal to Americans in search of a better tomorrow.

The choice is clear. One party offers lower taxes and less regulation as a means to allow businesses to expand and hire new workers and to make it easier for more Americans to start their own businesses. The other party seeks to punish those who have a job and doubly punish those who employ them.

SOURCE

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Odds are on Supreme Court striking down healthcare reform

A top Republican said Friday that he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down key parts of the new healthcare reform law as unconstitutional. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the third-ranking House Republican, who serves as conference chairman, said he saw enough votes on the high court to strike a blow to President Obama's signature domestic initiative. "It's going to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court's going to decide whether or not the Constitution of the United States permits the government to order the American people to purchase goods or services, whether they want them or need them or not," Pence said Friday on WLS radio in Indiana.

The Indiana lawmaker, and potential 2012 presidential candidate, has been among the crowd of Republicans to question whether a central part of Democrats' healthcare reform bill is constitutional. The crux of their argument is that the individual mandate - the section of the law requiring individuals to have health insurance of some sort - violates the Constitution.

A federal judge in Michigan dismissed a major case on Thursday challenging the healthcare law's constitutionality on that grounding, though other lawsuits are still being litigated in other federal districts. If courts in different areas of the country end up issuing different rulings, it could heighten the chances that the Supreme Court would take the case.

If it gets to that point, Pence said, he could envision five of the court's member voting to rule the bill unconstitutional. "I rather like our chances when this thing gets to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "I think there could be a narrow majority on the court that recognizes that you cannot compel the American people to purchase health insurance just as a function of being an American citizen."

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

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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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Monday, October 11, 2010

Obama's Huge New Tax that will hit everyone

Pity the poor entrepreneur and small business owner in America now getting socked, with the mother of all taxes, by a government that has become either hostile, or indifferent, to understanding what it takes to build a business, grow a company and hire more workers. I'm not talking about new fees, but about a much greater confiscatory tax, imposed without any real debate or consideration--the confiscation of time.

Nearly every Obama administration initiative demands new, more complicated reporting and compliance filings on small businesses and entrepreneurs that are already overburdened with a mish-mash of reporting requirements that suck away an entrepreneur's time and energy. 2008 compliance costs for a small business, according to a recent SBA Report, was approximately $10,000 per employee. But, the Obama Administration has added new, and far more onerous, reporting demands that are likely to treble those costs to $30,000 per employee. Facing such huge, and hidden, costs of compliance, is there any wonder small businesses are not hiring as they have in the past?

Consider, for example, one of the new reporting requirements contained in Section 9006 of the disastrous Obama healthcare bill which requires all small companies to file 1099s for any purchase over $600, to include anything from office supplies to electricity to independent contractors. As a result, small businesses may need to hire a full-time compliance officer that does nothing but file these new forms and reports.

But that is just the start. For example, Section 1512 of the Recovery Act (ARRA) requires that a report with a minimum of 12 data points be submitted quarterly for each Recovery Act project over $25,000. A separate report has to be submitted if the business worked as a subcontractor on any ARRA project. This report is separate from and in addition to the mandatory, contractual reports submitted monthly to the government contracting officer on each project and, separate from and in addition to, the quarterly program reviews provided for agency leaders. Of course, if the business performs ARRA work at the State level, many of those states have additional reporting requirements for businesses who are working on federally funded stimulus projects within the state.

Small business already struggles because the federal government's reporting requirements are a moving target. Businesses must track the unusually frequent changes in government-issued guidance regarding reporting requirements. For example, since issuing the first reporting requirements for ARRA in February 2009, these requirements have changed nine times in the past 19 months, in March 2009, April 2009, June 2009, September 2009, November 2009, December 2009, April 2010, May 2010 and most recently in September 2010.

Each "update" to the reporting requirements issued by OMB is followed by an ancillary memo issued within each federal agency by each agency's Chief Acquisition Officer.

Businesses, especially small businesses, may spend large segments of the workday tracking reporting requirement changes. Businesses must do this because a clerical error, which could be interpreted by the oversight community as fraud, carries severe penalties, and the burden of proof of innocence falls on the business.

Taxes take many forms. More damaging, than canceling the Bush tax cuts, more damaging than the changing definition of who is considered "rich", more disturbing than Obama Administration's complete lack of understand of what it takes to grow a business and an economy, is the fact that time is money, so the new, burdensome and intrusive reporting requirements demanded by Obama's flawed policies puts a tax burden of time on all businesses.

Under the guise of "accountability" and the lure of "transparency", the Obama Administration continues to bombard businesses with additional, ill-thought reporting requirements. Few legislators and few members of the Obama Administration have ever experienced first-hand, the struggles of entrepreneurship--what Jerry McGuire calls "an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege," of trying to win a customer's business, be competitive and succeed. The Administration, clearly, does not understand or does not care about the true cost to business of their self-serving actions.

Peter Drucker, the management guru once said: "if you're meeting, you're not working". Perhaps the corollary is that when a business is "reporting", then they aren't really working either.

Make no mistake: well-reasoned reports aid in accountability and transparency and are essential to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely by the government. But this is not happening in the Obama Administration. The President Obama once promised he would not raise taxes on the middle class. Yet, fees, fines and mandatory purchases are "onerous, rigorous demands" which, according to Webster, qualify as taxes.

Obama has demanded the one commodity which is in limited supply, and which can never be reproduced once spent-time. Obama wastes our time--and that tax is the greatest of all.

SOURCE

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President Obama's Tax Piracy

By Peter Ferrara

Starting on January 1, 2011, President Obama's economic recovery policy will begin the implementation of comprehensive, across the board, tax rate increases for every major federal tax. The full breathtaking scope of those tax increases, and how they will harm every family in America, is discussed in my latest work, President Obama's Tax Piracy, published as part of Encounter's Broadside series. That series now includes 17 publications by such outstanding authors as Steve Moore on economic policy, John Bolton on national defense and American sovereignty, Betsy McCaughey on Obamacare, Michael Ledeen on Obama's betrayal of Israel, Michael Mukasey on terrorism, Roy Spencer on "global warming," and John Fund on Obama's election fraud, all in the tradition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlets.

Among the bonehead increases that beckon to shove the economy back into recession is a nearly 20% increase in the top two income tax rates, counting the phase-out of deductions and exemptions. The top capital gains tax rate is scheduled to soar by nearly 60%, counting the application of Obamacare's new 3.8% tax on investment income. The tax rate on dividends is scheduled to nearly triple, from 15% to 43.4%, counting the new Obamacare tax as well. The Obamacare legislation also increased the Medicare HI payroll tax rate by 62% for the nation's employers and investors. On our current course, the death tax will rise from the grave next year with a 55% top rate.

At least that was the plan. But the Democrat Congress left town without ever making good on candidate Obama's pledge to the American people in 2008 to avoid any tax increase on those making less than $250,000 a year, by extending all of the Bush tax cuts for everyone below that income level. That means under current law federal income taxes will now increase next year for virtually every American. The bottom income tax rate of 10% will soar by 50% to 15%, and every other income tax rate will rise by a similar amount. The child tax credit will be slashed by 50% from $1,000 per child to $500 per child. The marriage penalty will also rise from the grave to tax more heavily those who are married rather than those who are just living together.

A family of four earning $50,000 per year will pay more than $2,100 in higher taxes. A single mom earning $36,000 per year will pay over $1,100 more in taxes.
Married senior citizens earning $40,000 per year will pay more than $1,400 in higher taxes.

If you have been listening to President Obama's rhetoric, you would be thinking how could failing to extend the Bush tax cuts result in all these tax increases on everybody, since Bush supposedly cut taxes only for the rich. That is why you should not be listening to President Obama's misleading, manipulative, deceptive rhetoric.

Baghdad Bob Economics

In case you have forgotten Baghdad Bob, he was the Saddam Hussein propaganda minister who called a press conference just before American forces entered Baghdad in 1991 to announce that those forces had been massacred in the desert by Saddam's military machine. With Saddam gone, Baghdad Bob now has a new gig. He is in charge of economic and tax policy propaganda for the Democrat party.

You can see the results of his work on national television all of the time. Joy Reid, Keith Boykin, and Christian Weller show up to argue that cutting tax rates for employers and investors causes recessions and economic calamity, such as the financial crisis. Indeed, President Obama is saying the same thing all the time with his rhetoric about "the failed policies of the past" that "got us into this mess."

That's not even Keynesian economics. Rather than John Maynard Keynes, or even Karl Marx, that economic "logic" follows more in the tradition of Jim Jones, and the Jonestown school of economic policy. Joy Reid adds to this body of work her "argument" that increasing real savings and investment for retirement would only cause another bubble in the markets. Reid was voted Netroots Blogger of the Year, which shows how much deep trouble our country is in as long the people identifying themselves as Progressives are anywhere near the levers of government power.

I explain in my Broadside publication how President Obama has consistently followed exactly the opposite of every plank of Reaganomics. As a consequence, we can rightly expect that America will now suffer exactly the opposite results, unless those economic policies are quickly overturned by new Congressional majorities.

In 1983, President Reagan's third year, his tax rate cuts became fully effective, and real GDP zoomed upward over the first 4 quarters of recovery by 7.7%. That recovery flowered into a generation-long, 25-year economic boom, interrupted only by two short, shallow recessions, following President Bush's budget deal increasing tax rates in 1990, and the 9/11 terror attack in 2001.

Art Laffer and Steve Moore have rightly called this Reagan boom "the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet." Indeed, more wealth was created in America during this 25 year boom, from 1983 to 2007, than in all the prior 200 years of American history, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, combined. That is why Steve Forbes has rightly called it an "economic Golden Age."

The mirror image opposite of this economic performance would be the natural, logical result of following the mirror image opposite of Reagan's economic program, including the counterproductive incentive effects of Obama's comprehensive federal tax rate increases, the costs and burdens of Obama's reregulation hitting next year, and the continued drain of private sector resources due to President Obama's supposedly stimulative spending increases and deficits. Laffer explains:

[W]hen the U.S. economy comes to 2011, the train's going to come off the tracks.. The tax boundary that will occur on January 1, 2011 tells me that GDP growth in 2010 will be some 6% to 8% higher than GDP growth in 2011. A year on year decline from trend of some 6% to 8% in GDP growth would represent a larger collapse than occurred in 2008 and early 2009.

We see signs of that already even in this year's economy, which, again just the opposite of Reagan's performance, should be the peak economic year in President Obama's reign of error. Economic growth is in a tailspin, falling from 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, to 3.7% in the first quarter this year, to 1.6% in the second quarter. Unemployment is rising again, with the economy continuing to lose jobs every month. The stock market has been long stalled, mired 30% below its record highs over 14000 in the Dow. This weak economy couldn't be a worse time to raise Federal tax rates across the board. With President Obama's current economic policies, the probability of a renewed, double-dip recession is over 100%.

More HERE

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Food Stamp Nation

Pat Buchanan

"The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.

What brings his words to mind is news that 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month. A seventh of the nation cannot even feed itself.

If you would chart America's decline, this program is a good place to begin. As a harbinger of the Great Society to come, in early 1964, a Food Stamp Act was signed into law by LBJ appropriating $75 million for 350,000 individuals in 40 counties and three U.S. cities.

Yet, no one was starving. There had been no starvation since Jamestown, with such exceptions as the Donner Party caught in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846-47, who took to eating their dead.

The Food Stamp Act became law half a decade after J.K. Galbraith in his best-seller had declared 1950s America to be the world's great Affluent Society.

Yet, when Richard Nixon took office, 3 million Americans were receiving food stamps at a cost of $270 million. Then CBS ran a program featuring a premature baby near death, and told us it was an infant starving to death in rich America. The nation demanded action, and Nixon acted. By the time he left office in 1974, the food stamp program was feeding 16 million Americans at an annual cost of $4 billion.

Fast forward to 2009. The cost to taxpayers of the U.S. food stamp program hit $56 billion. The number of recipients and cost of the program exploded again last year.

Among the reasons is family disintegration. Forty percent of all children in America are now born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent. Among African-Americans, it is 71 percent. Food stamps are feeding children abandoned by their own fathers. Taxpayers are taking up the slack for America's deadbeat dads.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Allow citizens to sell kidneys: "Every year thousands of people die because they are unable to secure a healthy kidney replacement in time and thousands more are relegated to years of costly dialysis. The waiting time to receive a kidney transplant is around five years. The shortage is due to the fact that patients can only receive donated kidneys, either from the deceased or an extremely rare and charitable living individual. Because it is a crime to voluntarily trade one's organ for another's money we have a constant under-supply of kidneys."

Bureaucracy gone wild: "Unelected federal bureaucrats are forcing New York City to spend $27 million to replace their street signs. Our bureaucratic overlords maintain that streets signs must contain both upper and lower case letters, instead of just capital letters! Do you feel grateful that you're being protected from upper case streets signs? This dictatorial mandate comes from the Federal Highway Administration, and applies to every community in America, not just New York City. But don't blame this outrage on the busy-body Democrats. This isn't an Obama directive. The rule was actually promulgated back in 2003 - during the Bush Administration."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He is pretty cutting about Obama's Afghanistan/Pakistan policies.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)

****************************

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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