Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Voting for the National Interest, Not Self-Interest

It's a question that puzzles most liberals and bothers some conservatives. Why are so many modest-income white voters rejecting the Obama Democrats' policies of economic redistribution and embracing the small-government policies of the tea party movement?

It's not supposed to work out that way, say the political scientists and New Deal historians. Politics is supposed to be about who gets how much when, and people with modest incomes should be eager to take as much from the rich as they can get.

Moreover, as liberal economists and columnists point out, income levels for middle-class Americans remained stagnant for most of a decade during the George W. Bush presidency and then plunged in the recession. Housing values fell even more.

The conservative writer David Frum has made the same point and has said that Republicans must come up with policies that will raise ordinary people's incomes if they hope to win.

But the fact is that Republicans did pretty well among whites who did not graduate from college -- the exit poll's best proxy for the white working class -- even in the otherwise dismal year of 2008. John McCain carried non-college whites by a 58 percent to 41 percent margin, more than his 51 percent to 47 percent margin among college whites.

Barack Obama won because he carried all other voters 79 percent to 21 percent. But he carried non-college whites in only 14 states and the District of Columbia with 127 electoral votes.

Liberals are puzzled by this. Thomas Frank's book "What's the Matter With Kansas?" argued that modest-income whites were bamboozled by the moneyed elite to vote on cultural issues rather than in their direct economic interest.

But that's no more plausible than the notion that rich liberals from Park Avenue to Beverly Hills have been bamboozled to vote the opposite way on similar issues rather than for those who would extend the Bush tax cuts. People are entitled to base their vote on the things they think important. They don't always vote just to maximize their short-term income.

In any case, the cultural issues seemed to be eclipsed by economic issues in 2010, when Republicans carried non-college whites 63 percent to 33 percent in House elections. That was almost as large a percentage margin as the Democrats 74 percent to 24 percent among the smaller number of nonwhites.

My own assumption is that economic statistics have been painting an unduly bleak picture of modest-income America. When we measure real incomes we use inflation indexes, which over time inevitably overstate inflation, because they're based on static market baskets of goods.

The problem is if one item spikes in price, we quit buying it. In addition, inflation indexes cannot account for product innovation and quality increases.

Liberal writers look back to 1973 as a year when real wages supposedly peaked -- just before a nasty bout of inflation. But back then, a pocket calculator cost $110. The smartphone you can buy today for $200 has a calculator and hundreds of other devices.

If you get out beyond the Beltway to Middle America, you find supermarkets with wonderful produce and big box stores with amazing variety, all at prices that are astonishingly low. You can eat well and dress stylishly at prices far below what elites in places like Washington and New York are accustomed to paying. In many ways, people with modest incomes have a significantly better standard of living than they did four decades ago.

The recoil in 2010 against the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government seems to have a cultural or a moral dimension as well. It was a vote, as my Washington Examiner colleague Timothy P. Carney wrote last week, expressing "anger at those unfairly getting rich -- at the taxpayer's expense."

Those include well-connected Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs that got bailed out and giant corporations like General Electric that shape legislation so they can profit. They include the public employee unions who have bribed politicians to grant them pensions and benefits unavailable to most Americans.

A government intertwined with the private sector inevitably picks winners and losers. It allows well-positioned insiders to game the system for private gain. It bails out the improvident and sticks those who made prudent decisions with the bill.

Modest-income Americans think this is wrong. They want it fixed more than they want a few more bucks in their paychecks.



The Democrats' Tactic: Fearmongering

Democrat leaders have been working overtime to foster fear among Americans by exaggerating the potential repercussions of a shutdown of the federal government. Why? Fearmongering is a great diversionary tactic for Democrats who do not want to be held accountable for out-of-control government spending and who have no intention of getting serious about budget cuts.

They myth of a reign of chaos induced by a government shutdown is just that—a myth. Harkening back to the shutdown of 1995, it seems as if every would-be pundit with a tale of woe has been paraded on the liberal media circuit.

In reality, the country is in great shape to handle a shutdown because for about a decade, the government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars on Continuity of Ops (COOP). Continuity of operations is the way the federal government prepares and plans for how it would operation during a time of national disaster, during a time when critical systems fail, or when unexpected changes in leadership occur, or when unexpectedly there is a need to change the location of the government. COOP is the government’s plan for identifying which personnel are considered essential and what tasks are considered operationally mandatory for the smooth and effective operation of our government.

I know, from my experience leading one of the federal agencies responsible for developing these plans that each federal agency already has in place a series of well-documented, frequently exercised, standard operating procedures that answer most of the questions currently causing the hand-wringing around Washington, DC.

These standard operating procedures exist for all three branches of government to ensure an enduring constitutional government. Annually, the government undergoes a minimum of two weeks of rigorous exercises to identify potential gaps in capabilities. Each year the government rigorously identifies problem areas and solutions that are cost effective and sustainable. Each year the federal government prepares after-action reports that form the basis of future areas for improvement and expansion.

These joint exercises are usually in support of national security, but the operational principles and the decision matrices are the same. Complex logistical scenarios are exercised. Complex joint contingency plans are developed, documented and put into play for all key stakeholders.

Above all, these exercises ensure that government responds calmly and responsibly and does not succumb to the fearmongering and hysteria that Dems are trying to whip up among Americans.

Democrats in congress and members of the Executive Branch who claim that the nation will be in trouble if a shutdown were to occur are being disingenuous or are perhaps intending to deliberately sabotage years of careful planning and billions of dollars and thousands of hours of professionals efforts to ensure that nothing bad happens to our great nation, its leaders or our constitutional government.

So what will happen if the government shuts down? All federal agencies have key personnel plans now in place that did not exist back in 1995. So, social security checks and government welfare subsidies get paid (most are EFT anyway). Benefits to veterans and the military and other government workers continue to be paid. The country will continue to be protected; policemen, firemen and hospitals will continue to serve their communities with distinction. What a shutdown will do is stop non-essential functions. So, for example, many of Obama’s czars and their horde would no longer be funded. Of course, there are many Americans who would not see this as a negative.

In fact, given the extraordinary amount of time lost in multitudinous government meetings that often serve no purpose other than to plan the next meeting, our government might even experience a surge of unexpected productivity.

Perhaps proof that the country could function just fine with a smaller, more productive government is what Dems fear the most. In fact, it could be that the greatest risk is simply that some in government might work to ensure that several, high-visibility programs that could be continued under a government shutdown are not—just to prove a point.

But, it would be both a crime and a disgrace if certain military or other essential efforts are put in jeopardy as a way to heighten the sense of panic and doom. Let’s hope that all legislators roll up their sleeves, sharpen their budget-cutting pencils and realize, as President Obama often reminded conservatives over the last two years that “elections have consequences”. Voters this past November have spoken: they want government to cut the federal budget and they want it to happen now. GOP legislators who are determined to return our country to a culture of fiscal discipline have nothing to fear but fearmongering itself.



The Rise of the Adolescent Mind

Victor David Hanson

We live in a therapeutic age, one in which the old tragic view of our ancestors has been replaced by prolonged adolescence. Adolescents hold adult notions of consumption: they understand the comfort of a pricey car; they appreciate the status conveyed by a particular sort of handbag or sunglasses; they sense how outward consumption and refined tastes can translate into popularity and envy; and they appreciate how a slogan or world view can win acceptance among peers without worry over its validity. But they have no adult sense of acquisition, themselves not paying taxes, balancing the family budget, or worrying about household insurance, maintenance, or debt. Theirs is a world view of today or tomorrow, not of next year — or even of next week.

So adolescents throw fits when denied a hip sweater or a trip to Disneyland, concluding that it is somehow “unfair” or “mean,” without concern about the funds available to grant their agendas. We see now just that adolescent mind in Wisconsin. “They” surely can come up with the money from someone (“the rich”) somehow to pay teachers and public servants what they deserve. And what they deserve is determined not by comparable rates in private enterprise, or by market value (if the DMV clerk loses a job, does another public bureau or private company inevitably seize the opportunity to hire such a valuable worker at comparable or improved wages?), or by results produced (improved test scores, more applicants processed in an office, overhead reduced, etc.), or by what the strapped state is able to provide, but by what is deemed to be necessary to ensure an upper-middle class lifestyle. That is altogether understandable and decent, but it is entirely adolescent in a globalized economy.

Why so? In a word, the United States is not producing enough real wealth to justify a particular standard of living among its public workforce far superior to counterparts in the private sector. We are borrowing massively abroad for redistributive entitlements. We fight wars with credit cards. We talk of cap-and-trade and “climate change” without prior worry about how to fuel the United States, as we sink in perpetual debt to import well over half our oil. We have open borders and pat ourselves on our backs for the ensuing “diversity,” without worry that illegality and lack of reverence for federal laws, absence of English, no diplomas, multiculturalism instead of the melting pot, the cynicism and chauvinism of Mexico, and recessionary times are a perfect storm for a dependent, and eventually resentful, underclass extending well into a second generation, one that fumes over why things outside are not equal rather than looking within to ensure that they could be.

Who would not wish pristine 19th-century rivers to run all year long? But that same utopian rarely thinks like an adult: “I want water releases into the San Joaquin River all year long and am willing to pay more money at Whole Earth for my produce to subsidize such diversion of irrigation water; I do not wish any more derricks off Santa Barbara, so I choose to drive a Smart car rather than my Lexus SUV. And I want teachers to be able to strike, and receive $100,000 in compensation and benefits, and therefore am willing to close down a rural hospital in Wisconsin or tax the wealthy with full knowledge that many will leave the state. I insist on amnesty and open borders, and will put my children in schools where 50% do not speak English, and live in the barrios to lend my talents where needed to ensure parity for new arrivals. I want cap-and-trade and so believe that the lower middle classes should pay “skyrocketing” energy bills to subsidize such legislation.” And so on.

Finally, the adolescent thinks in a rigid, fossilized fashion in explicating the “unfairness” of it all, unable yet to process new data and adjust conclusions accordingly. So we now hear that the evil corporate/Wall Street nexus is turning us into a Republican-driven Third World — apparently unwilling to see that among the largest contributors of campaign cash were unions, and both Wall Street and international corporations favored Barack Obama in the last election, the first presidential candidate in the history of campaign financing legislation to opt out of the program in order to raise even more “fat cat” money. Just because one is a former Chicago organizer does not mean he cannot be the largest recipient of Goldman Sachs or BP donations in history. Railing against Las Vegas jet-setters does not mean that one cannot prefer Martha’s Vineyard, Vail, or Costa del Sol to Camp David.

We talk about all these “millionaires,” but fail to include a Rahm Emanuel who managed to receive several million for his apparent fiscal and investment “expertise” or the liberal Clintonite insiders who looted Fannie and Freddie in bonuses just before these agencies imploded. The Koch brother are deemed evil; George Soros and Warren Buffet enlightened billionaires about whose modes of acquisition of riches we must be indifferent. Anything that might upset the predetermined adolescent world view is simply ignored in “I don’t want to hear all this” teen-aged fashion. The adolescent plays reruns of Al Gore’s mythodramas and simply thinks away the ensuing evidence of fraud and malfeasance that seems so deeply embedded in the climate change industry. The rant and temper tantrum follow in the puerile mode of being so distasteful that someone surely must give in to stop the embarrassing disturbance.

There are lots of issues involved in Wisconsin, in the impending financial and fuel crises, and in the sense of American impotency abroad. Yet a common denominator is a national adolescence, in which we want what we have not earned. We demand the world be the way that it cannot; and we don’t wish to hear “unfair” arguments from “bad” and “mean” people.




Obama admin approves ONE new oilwell: "The U.S. has approved the first deepwater drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since BP's massive oil spill. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced Monday that it issued a permit to Noble Energy Inc. to continue work on its Santiago well about 70 miles southeast of Venice, La. Drilling will resume nearly one year after BP's blowout created the worst offshore spill in U.S. history."

OH readies union bill vote; IN still delays: "A vote on an Ohio bill that would end collective bargaining rights for public employees could come as early as Wednesday, a state senator said on Sunday. Meanwhile, in Indiana, Democratic state representatives could stay in Illinois all week to avoid votes on bills they say would harm workers' rights, officials said. While the massive protests in Wisconsin over proposed collective bargaining limits have been in the national spotlight, debates over curbs on unions also have roiled other Midwestern states."

Politics and government “investment”: "I hope that you are as tired as I am of hearing politicians trot out the term 'investment' to justify spending the taxpayers’ money on such things as high-speed rail, 'green' energy alternatives to fossil fuels, innovative R&D projects and highways, more widespread Internet access and other so-called infrastructure. The public sector does not invest in any meaningful sense."

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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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