Adventures in government lunacy
Story from Britain
Adventures in government stupidity are of course nothing new: but to raising the bar to sheer howling lunacy is more unusual. Even that toxic brew of special interests, bureaucrats and politicians rarely produce something that is outright insane. Rarely, but not never:
Local authorities will put up the deposit to allow first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, under a scheme unveiled today. The organisation behind the ‘local lend a hand’ initiative, Capita business Sector Treasury Services, says it will free up social and affordable housing by making it easier for people to buy their own homes. The initiative is initially being backed by Lloyds TSB, and has been piloted by five local authorities, but Capita hopes to get more lenders and councils on board as the scheme progresses.
The local authorities will lodge funds with the lender to cover the shortfall in a first-time buyer’s deposit. This can be up to 20 per cent of the mortgage, so for a typical 75 per cent loan to value mortgage, the buyer would only need to find a 5 per cent deposit. Available funds in each area will be capped, although the council shouldn’t incur any actual costs unless there are problems with the mortgage repayments.
So let us try and get this straight. The world's entire financial system is still reeling from its recent effort to walk straight off a cliff by lending money to people to buy houses they couldn't afford. This lesson having been learned, said financial houses no longer being willing to lend to people without a substantial deposit, showing that they've some skin in the game, that you don't lend hundreds of thousands to people who have bupkiss, we now have the following bright political solution?
The taxpayers should subsidise these deposits so that when (no, not if) something goes wrong in the future the taxpayers have to pick up the bill? That, having seen what people buying houses they cannot afford does, we should insist that more people should buy houses they cannot afford?
This, this, is why we send our finest minds to Oxbridge so that they may rule over us all? Somewhere up there the Goddess of Irony is weeping bitter tears into her nectar as not even she had thought of that one.
Look, it's terribly, terribly, simple. If local councils want local houses to be cheaper they should grant planning permission for more local houses. Supply and demand really does work you know and it is the planning permission itself which is the most expensive part of a house these days. No, not the land, not the building, but the chitty allowing you to build on that land. The council even makes a profit issuing permissions rather than losses on paying people's deposits.
With ideas at the above level of stupidity I fully expect both Ed Balls and George Osborne to announce next week that the way to close the deficit is to make cucumbers from Moonlight.
Stoic, heroic Japan vs. Neurotic Nation USA
On the day that a venerated American institution was preparing to bestow an award for transparency in government on President Barack Obama ̶ the domestic equivalent of the president's Nobel peace prize, Charles Krauthammer called it ̶ members of our country's media were accusing the Japanese government of secrecy. On that day, Neurotic Nation USA, egged on by the meltdown media, began hoarding Geiger counters and potassium iodide supplements as a protection against imaginary radiation plumes from Japan, wafting across 5,000 miles of ocean.
Our country's edgy experts have ordered the evacuation of Americans in Japan within a 50-mile radius of the damaged reactors at Fukushima. Japan is being harangued to ape America. The Japanese have, so far, moved people from within a 20-kilometer radius of the power plant. Funny that. The Neurotic Nation, whose military personnel in Japan are popping iodine pills if they've so much as flown over, or visited, the vicinity, expects the country that is fielding "The Fukushima 50" to do the same.
"The Fukushima 50" are volunteers from the Tokyo Electric Power Company. These men are working under near-impossible conditions at the problem power station to douse radioactive fires and spent nuclear rods, and to plug reactor containment vessels. As we say in the U.S., these men are taking a hit for the team.
Judging by their bombast, you'd think that our experts have been to the site at Fukushima. Indeed, Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asserted that the water meant to cover and cool the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor had evaporated, leaving the rods dangerously exposed. They were overheating, he declared from ground zero … at the House Energy and Commerce Committee panel in Washington.
"It's way past Three Mile Island already," crowed physicist Frank von Hippel. "The biggest risk now is that the core really melts down and you have a steam explosion." Where exactly was professor von Hippel situated when he issued his doom-laden predictions? At Princeton, N.J.
Jaczko's Japanese counterparts have countered that they are on the verge of restoring electrical power to the Daiichi plant, and with it the ability to pump water over the sizzling, spent fuel.
Are the nuclear plants in Japan working the way ours do in America? MSNBC's Chris Matthews asked one of the many American specialists to shamelessly share his findings from afar.
Hardball's blowhard has a point. The USA's stellar safety record ̶ the best in the world, perhaps ̶ is helped by the fact that we don't have much of a nuclear power industry. Following the recommendations set out in "The China Syndrome," a Hollywood dramatization of the incident at Three Mile Island, the construction of new reactors in the USA was practically halted. Nobody died in that 1979 accident in Pennsylvania. Nobody but the nuclear-power industry.
The chauvinism with which our ego-bound elites are treating The Japanese Other continued apace. After all, this genteel, able people do not qualify as members of an easy-to-patronize, protected group, the kind so valued in the U.S.
CNN's rude Wolf Blitzer turned furiously on Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., in an interview that reminded me of the time the regal (Akio) Toyoda went up against the proverbial Torquemada, his tormentors on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. No words of condolence did Blitzer offer to the Japanese gentleman for the calamity his country and people had endured. Instead, he hammered Fujisaki about the possibility of "another Chernobyl" at the Daiichi power plant.
That one of the largest tremors in recorded history had left some 6 million Japanese households without electricity horrified Wolf. Where were Wolf and his network during the biggest windstorm to have hit Washington and Oregon in decades? In 2006, at least a million residents in the Pacific Northwest were stranded without power for days ̶ some for weeks ̶ in primitive conditions, befitting a Third World country. So, too, is Blitzer blissfully unaware that, with Katrina, the U.S. government's claim for high standards in a natural disaster was sundered forever.
At one stage, the bewildered Blitzer repeated, incredulously, "No looting? No looting; are you sure?" which is when a CNN Japanese foreign correspondent took the opportunity to educate this insular American. Japan was relatively crime-free. If you lose your wallet, you'll likely find it at the nearest police station. People pull together here, yet are propelled forward by individual agency and initiative, she explained proudly.
But that was hardly a journalistic angle worth pursuing. For to grasp the reason this homogenous society's culture has endured, one would have to juxtapose it with balkanized America, a country riven by feuds and factions courtesy of state-imposed tribalism (multiculturalism and mass immigration). Far better to crank things up by pursuing the partial meltdown, full meltdown or core meltdown angles.
Most members of the meltdown media have been schooled in activism, not in journalism. To them, every news story becomes, reflexively, a cause – a reason to "educate" and promote "awareness," rather than to report the facts. That so many of our news outlets settled on identical front-page, or pixelated, leads is unsettling.
As a consequence of this pervading groupthink, we have not seen nearly enough of how impressively the Japanese people are coping, how calm and courageous they appear in interviews. When CNN's international correspondent alluded to "scenes of hardship," the camera cut to a shelter. The images were heartbreaking, to be sure. But, unlike those taken during Katrina, there was much to inspire in Japan. One saw rows of neatly laid-out mats. The elderly had been snugly tucked in clean blankets. Kids, faces covered with masks, were sweeping the floors industriously.
In other footage, lines of people snaked around the neighborhood, waiting patiently, sometimes for days, to purchase food and water. The individuals interviewed were grief-struck, but they held it together. Nobody was screaming for government aid. There has been no menace or murder on what remains of the streets of Sendai city.
Accustomed as I am to seeing abreacting Americans or unhinged Haitians, these sights astounded me. My heroes have always been in the Greek tradition. This makes the silent, stoic, refined Japanese my heroes. Japan will be OK. It is a highly civilized, advanced society.
U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Highest in World
Were No. 1! But that's the bad news. After a reign as the nation with the second highest corporate income tax rate, the United States is set to move into first place when Japan lowers its rate next month.
The combined federal and state rate in the U.S. is 39.2 percent of corporate profits, a new analysis by the Tax Foundation disclosed. When Japan, which currently has a rate of 39.5 percent, enacts a planned cut of 4.5 percentage points in April, America will have the highest rate of all the economies in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the group of 34 advanced nations with economies most comparable to the U.S.
United States companies are now in the position of trying to compete in the 21st-century world economy with a 20th-century tax system, said Scott A. Hodge, the Tax Foundations president and author of the new study.
America has moved to the top of the corporate tax list not by raising taxes but through inaction. Between 2000 and 2010, nine OECD countries cut their corporate tax rates by double-digit figures, and almost every OECD nation has cut rates to some extent. In the United States, on the other hand, the rate has remained essentially unchanged during that 10-year period.
Germany, which had the highest rate in 2000, 52 percent, has slashed its rate to 30.2 percent, and Canada, No. 2 in 2000, cut its rate from 42.57 to 29.52 percent. The rate in Ireland is now just 12.5 percent, while in Iceland it is 15 percent and in Chile, 17 percent. Four other OECD nations have a rate lower than 20 percent. Worldwide, about 75 countries have cut their rates since 2006, according to the Tax Foundation.
But 2011 marks the 20th year in which the U.S. statutory tax rate has been above the average of OECD nations.
For the United States to move to the OECD average and match China which significantly lowered its rate in 2008 the federal rate would have to be reduced to 20 percent. The scope of corporate tax reform so far endorsed by the White House would fall far short of this goal, the Tax Foundation stated.
Hodge said: Dozens of countries around the world including many of the United States closest trading partners have realized that sky-high corporate tax rates are an economic dead end. Now more than ever, Americans want to see policies that will help create increased growth, more jobs, and higher standards of living exactly the things that a lower and more streamlined corporate tax system can help achieve.
And the National Center for Policy Analysis, commenting on the Foundation's report, observed: As other nations enact reforms and rate cuts, the U.S. corporate rate will continue to stand out as a hindrance to economic growth and competitiveness unless lawmakers move to lower the tax burden for businesses.
TN: Teachers’ bargaining may hinge on GOP internal battle: "Republicans in the state Senate are pressing ahead with a plan to take away teachers' power to unionize, even after their counterparts in the state House of Representatives unveiled a deal last week that would let teachers continue to bargain with school boards over some issues. House leaders and Gov. Bill Haslam back the compromise, but Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the leader of the Senate, is calling on conservatives to rally behind a complete ban on teachers unions."
NY candidate Davis: Bus blacks to farms to pick crops: "Congressional candidate Jack Davis said in a Republican Party endorsement meeting that Latino farmworkers should be deported and that inner-city African-Americans should be bused to farms to pick crops. Several sources who attended the endorsement interview confirmed Davis' statement to Buffalo News. The remark echoes a similar comment he made to the Tonawanda News in 2008. 'We have a huge unemployment problem with black youth in our cities,' Davis said. 'Put them on buses, take them out there and pay them a decent wage; they will work.'"
The Obama administration’s “open government” empty rhetoric: "Liberal 'open government' advocates are giving the president a medal for supposedly promoting 'government transparency.' He shares their liberal ideology, but not their alleged commitment to transparency. In reality, President Obama is so hostile to open government that 'the Obama administration censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive,' according to the Associated Press."
Bureaucracy stifles enterprise: "Without government grants, tax credits, or artificial incentives of any kind, David 'Cranky Dave' Wolk saved his money and built up, ex nihilo, his own business — a gathering place and venue for artists and their creations. Like the vigilante HVAC man, Cranky Dave filled a niche for artists and the community and apparently did at least well enough to keep the doors open. Now things are getting difficult for him as Saint Louis city chases after his unpaid earnings tax bill (when he says he had no earnings) and simultaneously cites him for not having a separate trash bin for his business (he says he was using the one for his residence, which is in the same building and that he upcycles much of the trash produced by his business, incorporating it into art and craft projects)."
Democrats a roadblock to fiscal responsibility: "Passing the federal budget is perhaps the most important task the Congress has each year. It has failed miserably. The federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Theoretically, a budget should be signed into law no later than Sept. 30. Here it is March and still no budget. The Congress just passed its sixth continuing resolution, this time to keep the government operating through April 8. This is inexcusable."
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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)