Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There is no limit to Democrat and media dishonesty


Obama's Regulatory Tsunami More Destructive than Taxes

As Obama travels about the country, speaking of the need for “shared sacrifice” and the need to increase taxes, he doesn’t say a word about the tsunami of new Obama regulations ranging from light bulbs to ozone pollution to painkillers to foreign travel to vending machines that is about to hit America. Their impact will be huge and do serious damage to our economy.

Obama's regulatory tsunami began during his first month in office and has continued relentlessly since. Each week, new, more intrusive rules are rolled out, some through Executive Order, but many issued from federal agencies, often without any fanfare or publicity. In every month since his inauguration, President Obama has heaped regulations on unsuspecting Americans, non-profit organizations, large and small businesses.

You can argue that some of these new regulations are not destructive to our economy, but just look at the number of regulations. Their range, their grasp and their intrusiveness into American life is staggering. And to think, several thousand new pages of new regulatory guidelines and added bureaucracy are still being drafted by the Obama Administration as required by healthcare, recovery act, financial reform, small business and TARP legislation. These new regulations will be piled atop the Mt. Everest pile of regulations Obama has already produced.



Slacker America

America’s work ethic comes from our Puritan past. When we were an agrarian country, you either worked or starved. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, we developed into an industrialized nation, led by men with a solid work ethic, that became the strongest economy in the world. This attitude was essential to our victory in two world wars and our transformation into the globe’s sole superpower.

Regrettably, cultural attitudes have changed substantially, and we now often see derision of our traditional principles. Puritanism is now equated to a 1950’s society in which men were the breadwinners and women were stay-at-home moms. Whether that is true or not, working hard has nothing to do with anything other than the desire to become successful. Work equals money, and money comes from work. It is a simple, yet elegant, concept.

Today, however, we often see a different reality. And while it’s easy to recognize how rapidly-advancing technology has made our lives easier both at home and in the workplace, the change in the American work ethic has many causes and has not taken place overnight.

Many people have observed how this new generation is different from its predecessors, and much has been written about the rules under which they now wish to live. The most dismaying aspect is how pervasive this attitude has become. Not only is the average worker or college graduate unwilling to put forth the effort of prior generations, but so are the elite educated classes.

Several attorneys tell me how difficult it is to get young lawyers to work today. The young ones want what the older ones have, but don’t want to make the requisite sacrifices. This might be an aberration – if it weren’t for so many people telling me the same story!

One of my clients proudly told me about his son and daughter-in-law – newly-graduated attorneys working their way up the ladder at big, reputable firms. The next time we spoke, he informed me that they had resigned their positions to go on a worldwide vacation. And last month, he called to let me know that they were now both working for the government – with 9-5 jobs and built-in benefits.

22.5 million Americans – an utterly staggering number – now work for federal, state, and local government. Stephen Moore, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, wrote that there are now twice as many people working for government than for manufacturers, and that more people now work for government than for several basic industries combined. Unfortunately, his excellent column failed to identify the most prominent reasons for this dismal situation.

Why do college graduates now seek jobs in government instead of private industry? It has largely to do with lack of ambition. Why take the risks inherent in the private sector when you can have a position that is virtually immune from layoffs, and for which you get vacations, sick days, health insurance, pensions, and every holiday on the calendar including imagined ones? Why accept a job requiring effort and productivity when you can get a government job in which your compensation and benefits have absolutely nothing to do with your performance? In fact, you may actually be discouraged from working too hard because it would embarrass your colleagues. Additionally, there is almost nothing that can cause you to be fired! So why take any risks in the private sector?

Ironically, the government then tries to force these same preposterous work rules onto the private sector – so that government doesn’t appear out of step with private industry.

The fact is that there is just too much government. Government now employs 16% of the current work force, amounting to 138.9 million people. That means that 116.4 million private- sector workers support this country of 308 million people. Government workers don’t help support the rest of us because the taxes they pay are just a reduction of the amount we pay them. They are just a drag on the private economy that needs to support them.

This economic model cannot sustain itself – especially with the current work ethic. When an ever smaller group of people is asked to support the rest of us, while the government hands out lavish employee benefits that far outstrip those found in the private sector, it’s no wonder that young people quickly conclude that a public-sector job is the perfect fit for their slacker attitudes.

While there are certainly exceptions, it seems that the generation now entering the workforce has been raised on the idea that hard work should take a back seat to lifestyle. They have seen – and sheepishly accepted – an ever-growing government sector making decisions for them. At this rate, there will soon not be enough private sector employees to support the government workers, the retired people, and the children of this society.

If we don’t change our current trajectory – and quickly! – then the next time my young Colombian friend comes to America, he will ask: “What the heck happened to this country?”



But Seriously, Folks

After the Republican presidential field in 2008 spent a year trying to agree with each other, this year's GOP contenders are showing early signs that they have real policy differences, and they're not afraid to debate them. And yet much of the media is too obsessed with vanity candidates and nonissues to cover the serious debate.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has begun his presidential campaign by questioning the necessity of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, a break with Republican policy over the last decade. And, while seeking the nomination of a party that largely denies man's impact on climate change, Barbour told a crowd in Iowa in March that it is "prudent" to "proceed as if global warming is an issue."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney used his inaugural trip to New Hampshire last month to offer a defense of the state's health care plan, rather than backing away from an issue his opponents will certainly use against him. Jon Huntsman, who will explore a race once he returns from serving as ambassador to China at the end of the month, took stands on immigration, gay rights, and the environment that will set him apart from the field. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said frequently that entitlements should be examined in an effort to rein in spending.

The 2008 campaign hardly presented these sorts of policy differences. In countless debates, Republican contenders used their 60 seconds to agree with each other and offer soundbites in hopes of distinguishing themselves from an ideologically homogenous field. Even former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose record offered the clearest opportunities for contrast, did his best to appear just like one of the guys. Only Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stood out, and the rest of the field used him as a punching bag.

Refreshingly, serious candidates among the 2012 field are showing signs of substantive policy debates. Moderators at each of the early candidate gatherings have a chance to contrast Barbour's views on Afghanistan with Romney's, or with Pawlenty's, or with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. Journalists can ask serious questions about Commonwealth Care, its successes and failures, and the role it plays in Romney's legacy. Every candidate will be asked to respond to Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, and to weigh in on whether and how entitlements should be cut to solve the debt crisis.

And yet it is the sideshows that dominate media coverage. Whether it's the pseudo-candidacy of Donald Trump, the fascination over Sarah Palin, or the obsession with anyone who wrongly believes President Obama was not born in the United States, the bulk of the presidential coverage in recent weeks has been profoundly unserious.

Perhaps, in an age of fragmented and increasingly partisan media, that is to be expected. After all, many outlets judge a story based on the clicks it drives to websites, rather than the content of the story itself. Birtherism has proven a popular traffic driver; on Wednesday, Matt Drudge led his site with a preview of a book authored by notorious anti-Obama conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Palin drives so much traffic that several national and Beltway publications devote staff time to writing up every television interview, Facebook post, and tweet emanating from her lakeside home in Wasilla, Alaska (For all her protestations that she despises the "lame-stream media," Palin has been very good for business. The worst thing she could do to harm the media is to stop being so popular among her conservative fans).

Trump is the most egregious case of a sideshow borne of the Washington-New York echo chamber. The bombastic businessman and shameless self-promoter has, at one time or another, espoused conflicting opinions on myriad issues, from the stimulus package to abortion. His ego is a source of great humor, as are his widely varying estimates of his own wealth (The only thing that doesn't vary about his bank balance is the trend line: He's always worth more than he was a few days ago, truly a financial feat of Lehman-esque accounting proportions).

And yet Trump is a near-daily fixture on cable television. In the past week, he has sat for extended interviews that aired both on ABC and NBC, and he appears weekly on Fox News. Trump is ratings gold, especially for NBC, which hosts The Apprentice and stands to benefit from any buzz Trump attracts.

Trump is also the source of a different kind of media attention, from exasperated columnists incredulous at the notion that Americans would pay attention to such an obvious blowhard. Just this week, columnists Charlie Cook, Jonah Goldberg, David Brooks, Richard Cohen, Matthew Continetti, Kathleen Parker, and Eugene Robinson have all devoted their time to The Donald. Unlike The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who successfully went a month without writing about Palin, this column has had no such success in swearing off Trump-apalooza 2011.

Trump winning the Republican nomination, or even competing seriously, is beyond a remote possibility. Palin's hopes of winning aren't much better, and her absence from the national spotlight suggests she's not likely to try. And while rumors that Obama was born somewhere other than on Oahu, Hawaii, may drive traffic, facts, as John Adams lamented, are stubborn things.

There are serious and substantive differences between candidates seeking the presidency for reasons beyond personal gain and publicity. Sadly, the silly season means that's all being missed.



No security anywhere anymore

Congressman Paul Ryan, one of the least insane men in Washington, has a ten-year plan. President Obama, one of the most insane spenders in Washington, has a twelve-year plan.

At the world’s first “Presidential Facebook town hall meeting” on Wednesday, even Obama had a hard time taking his “plan” seriously. Sometimes he referred to it as a twelve-year plan, sometimes ten years, sometimes saving four trillion, sometimes saving two trillion. So will the Obama plan save four trillion over twelve years or two trillion over ten?

The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.” We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’s bottom dollar, the sun will shine.

That’s 2023. Go back 12 years. That’s 1999. Which, if any, politicians in that year correctly identified the prevailing conditions in the America of 2011?

Most of our problems arise from the political class’s blithe assumptions about the future. European welfare systems assumed a mid-20th-century fertility rate to sustain them. They failed to foresee that welfare would become a substitute for family and that Continentals would simply cease breeding. Bismarckian-Rooseveltian pension plans assumed you’d be living off them for the last couple of years of your life. Instead, citizens of developed nations expect to spend the final third of their adult lives enjoying a prolonged taxpayer-funded holiday weekend.

What plans have you made for 2023? The average individual attempts to insure against future uncertainty in a relatively small number of ways: You buy a house because that’s the surest way to preserve and increase wealth. “Safe as houses,” right? But Fannie/Freddie subprime mumbo-jumbo and other government interventions clobbered the housing market. You get an education because that way you’ll always have “something to fall back on.” But massive government-encouraged expansion of “college” led Americans to run up a trillion dollars’ worth of student debt to acquire ever more devalued ersatz sheepskin in worthless pseudo-disciplines.

We’re not talking about the wilder shores of the stock market — Internet start-ups and South Sea bubbles and tulip mania — but two of the safest, dullest investments a modestly prudent person might make to protect himself against the vicissitudes of an unknown future. And we profoundly damaged both of them in pursuit of fictions.




The midnight ride of Standard & Poor’s: "Three cheers for Standard & Poor’s. On Monday, the rating agency issued a critical warning that America’s debt burden is growing too great. By doing so, it has helped make it less likely for the Washington budget debate to keep going down the path to national bankruptcy. We are now faced with a clear choice between a big-government, high-tax welfare state and a small-government, low-tax republic, such as the founders envisioned."

What are public sector unions for?: "If government, politicians, are indeed those wise and benevolent beings, then why should those who are employed by them need protecting from them? And if those who work for government need protection, shouldn't those of us subject to government also be protected?"

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

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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