Thursday, February 03, 2011

Leftists can dish it out but can't take it

In their egotistical way, they think that they should have a monopoly of violence and threats of violence. They can wish death on conservatives but they get all teary if conservatives wish death on them

If you promote violent leftist insurrection for a living, should you be surprised when anonymous members of the public threaten you with violence?

Apparently. Take the case of Marxist professor and community organizer Frances Fox Piven, a frequent target of conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck.

In the Nation magazine just last month, Ms. Piven expressed outrage that Wall Street bankers weren’t being dragged from their homes and led to the guillotine because of the country’s high unemployment rates and an anemic economy. “So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent,” she wrote. Ms. Piven‘s next words ought to send a chill down the spine of every American.

“Local protests have to accumulate and spread - and become more disruptive - to create serious pressures on national politicians. An effective movement of the unemployed will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union, or like the student protests that recently spread with lightning speed across England in response to the prospect of greatly increased school fees.”

Shocked staffers at the Nation report that the publication’s website has been flooded with angry comments, expletives and unprintable threats against Ms. Piven‘s person.

But instead of recognizing the root causes of this backlash, Occidental College professor and activist Peter Dreier points his finger at Mr. Beck, Ms. Piven‘s most persistent critic. Mr. Beck has railed against Ms. Piven almost daily on his cable TV show for the past two years, calling her “an enemy of the Constitution.”

It is a harsh but nonetheless accurate epithet directed at someone who sees the Constitution as an inconvenient obstacle standing in the way of socialist utopia. It should be noted that Ms. Piven‘s only objection to Karl Marx‘s opus is that it is too vague to achieve radical social transformation. “The Communist Manifesto, was really too general for the purposes that we need to put the strategic work to today,” she told a 2009 radicals conference in Germany. Apparently she views her work as an improvement on Marx‘s approach to extremist rabble-rousing.

Yet Mr. Dreier denounces Mr. Beck for “vitriol” and accuses him of orchestrating a “hate campaign” against Ms. Piven in order to “stir people to aggressive and hateful action.” For her part, Ms. Piven repeatedly has said Mr. Beck is a scapegoating racist and liar....

Ms. Piven is a committed revolutionary, not just an abstraction-spewing parlor radical. She is honorary chairman of the Trotskyist-founded Democratic Socialists of America. She also is active in other left-wing groups and is a member of the board of Project Vote, the notorious voter-fraud-prone ACORN affiliate that once employed Barack Obama.

It needs to be said that the beauty of the American system is that it allows the violence that historically has accompanied political jockeying to be sublimated - turned into peaceful competition between rival ideas.

Like the late Saul Alinsky, Ms. Piven and her ilk reject that thinking. They want to burn America to the ground.

It’s time they stopped blaming Mr. Beck for educating the public about their intentions.



I can balance the budget

John Stossel

The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value.

I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts. I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion.

End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion.

Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more. So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way.

Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole? The free market should determine energy investments.

And let's end the war on drugs. In effect, it's a $47 billion subsidy for thugs in the black market.

I've already cut more than six times more than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address. His freeze of nondefense discretionary spending would save only $40 billion.

But my cuts still total only $246 billion. If we're going to get rid of the rest of the CBO's projected deficit, we must attack the "untouchable" parts of the budget, starting with Social Security. Raising the retirement age and indexing benefits to inflation would save $93 billion. I'd save more by privatizing Social Security, but our progressive friends won't like that, so for now I'll ignore privatization.

The biggest budget busters are Medicare and Medicaid, and get this: the 400 subsidy programs run by HHS. Assuming I take just two-thirds of the Cato Institute's suggested cuts, that saves $281 billion.

How about the Defense Department's $721 billion? Much of that money could be saved if the administration just shrank the military's mission to its most important role: protecting us and our borders from those who wish us harm. Today, we have more than 50,000 soldiers in Germany, 30,000 in Japan and 9,000 in Britain. Those countries should pay for their own defense. Cato's military cuts add up to $150 billion. I've now cut enough to put us $2 billion in surplus!

As you see, the budget can be cut. Only politics stand in the way.



Food and failed Arab states

By Spengler

Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country's consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better....

Egypt is wallowing in backwardness, not because the Mubarak regime has suppressed the creative energies of the people, but because the people themselves cling to the most oppressive practices of traditional society. And countries can only languish in backwardness so long before some event makes their position untenable.

In this case, Asian demand has priced food staples out of the Arab budget. As prosperous Asians consume more protein, global demand for grain increases sharply (seven pounds of grain produce one pound of beef). Asians are rich enough, moreover, to pay a much higher price for food whenever prices spike due to temporary supply disruptions, as at the moment.

Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians and Yemenis are not. Episodes of privation and even hunger will become more common. The miserable economic performance of all the Arab states, chronicled in the United Nations' Arab Development Reports, has left a large number of Arabs so far behind that they cannot buffer their budget against food price fluctuations.

Earlier this year, after drought prompted Russia to ban wheat exports, Egypt's agriculture minister pledged to raise food production over the next ten years to 75% of consumption, against only 56% in 2009. Local yields are only 18 bushels per acre, compared to 30 to 60 for non-irrigated wheat in the United States, and up 100 bushels for irrigated land....

After 30 years of stability, the price of wheat has had two spikes into the $9 per bushel range at which very poor people begin to go hungry. The problem isn't production. Wheat production has risen steadily - very steadily in fact - and the volatility of global supply has been muted....

It wasn't the financial crisis that undermined dysfunctional Arab states, but Asian prosperity. The Arab poor have been priced out of world markets. There is no solution to Egypt's problems within the horizon of popular expectations. Whether the regime survives or a new one replaces it, the outcome will be a disaster of, well, biblical proportions.

The best thing the United States could do at the moment would be to offer massive emergency food aid to Egypt out of its own stocks, with the understanding that President Mubarak would offer effusive public thanks for American generosity. This is a stopgap, to be sure, but it would pre-empt the likely alternative.

Otherwise, the Muslim Brotherhood will preach Islamist socialism to a hungry audience. That also explains why Mubarak just might survive. Even Islamists have to eat. The Iranian Islamists who took power in 1979 had oil wells; Egypt just has hungry mouths. Enlightened despotism based on the army, the one stable institution Egypt possesses, might not be the worst solution.



Do Only the Rich Get Richer?

This is an old and familiar saw – but one that doesn’t cut it.

Review the history of Americans who’ve become rich as entrepreneurs. A large percentage – my guess is a great majority of them – began life in modest circumstances.

Perhaps the most famous fabulously rich American of all time is John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. He hailed from a poor, hard-scrabble farm in upstate New York, then moved with his family as a young boy to Ohio. He began his career at the age of 16 in Cleveland as a bookkeeper. He was quite the opposite of wealthy.

Or Andrew Carnegie. The son of a Scottish weaver, he immigrated to America, with nearly nothing, at the age of 13. Almost immediately he began his career – as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. No riches here that launched Carnegie.

Or Aaron Montgomery Ward. He began his career working in a barrel factory at the age of 14; later he advanced to laboring in a brick yard. Even later, he earned his living as a traveling salesman. No riches here that launched Montgomery Ward.

Going back a few generations, consider John Jacob Astor. (See also here.) He was born in Germany, the son of a butcher, and worked in his brother’s factory making musical instruments. He did not amass any fortune until he came to the U.S. and started his fur-trading business.

Likewise for Cornelius Vanderbilt, descended from Dutch indentured servants and a man who quit school at the age of 11 to work on ferries. His family was of only modest means.

Or Gustavus Swift. He was the son of a farmer; he began his career as a butcher’s apprentice.

J.P. Morgan is something of an exception to the above cast of entrepreneurs. His father was a partner in a London investment firm.

More recently, Steve Jobs hails from a modest background. (Bill Gates is more like Morgan on this front; his father is a partner is the well-known law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis.)

I could go on, listing famous rich business people. I’m quite certain – without having yet done a detailed study – that the history of these people thoroughly disproves the tired adage that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Others can be added to the above list. Henry Ford (born on a farm); Richard Sears (son of a blacksmith); F.W. Woolworth (born on a potato farm); RCA’s David Sarnoff (born to poor Jewish parents in Minsk); IBM’s Thomas Watson (son of a small rural merchant). As I said, I could go on and on.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)



NY: Cuomo slashes spending, freezes taxes in budget: "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a radical state budget on Tuesday that would lay off nearly 10,000 state workers and cut billions from education and Medicaid programs to eliminate a $10 billion deficit. The Democratic governor also proposed no new or increased taxes in the $132.9 billion budget plan, which would shrink the current budget ending March 31 by 2.7 percent."

The diversity divide: "Contrary to the apparent belief of some on the left, everything that comes from the right does not have racist overtones. What is racist is to cry 'racism!' at every available opportunity. What’s worse is that it’s become the battle cry of those who have nothing left -- no facts, no ideas, no basis in reality -- with which to fight. And sadly, it’s a weapon of some potency."

Food panic: "Rising food prices are the latest excuse for bashing market speculators. Around the world, these devils are the scapegoats for otherwise ill-conceived market manipulations by governments everywhere. There’s no doubt that the consequences of soaring food prices are significant -- from creeping inflation in the developed world to social unrest in the Arab world to real hunger in the impoverished world. However, speculators can only succeed when the fundamentals are in their favour. And that means either supply is artificially constricted or demand is wastefully encouraged."

Real world complexity: "What meets the eye in any marketplace -- meets the eyes even of experts -- is only a tiny tip of an immense iceberg of complex feedback loops, unique and often fleeting bits of knowledge, and countless adjustments of cou[n]tless people, none of whom could describe in detail exactly what they’re doing any more than even a world-class sprinter could describe in detail all that he does with his muscles when he sprints. Even the best models of an economy or of an industry capture, at most, only this tiny tip of this immense iceberg of feeback loops, knowledge, and adjustments."

Why tax cuts stimulate the economy: "First, tax cuts boost business everywhere. Employers who are struggling to pay their bills (including national and local taxes), are not likely to think about hiring more people. But a tax cut would make a crucial marginal difference to them. And remember: if every small business in the country had the confidence to hire one extra person, unemployment would be zero"


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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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