Friday, May 20, 2011

Old emptyhead finally get a few things right about the Middle East

Barry's reference to Israel's 1967 borders is of course toxic and lots of people have been jumping up and down about it but note that he mentioned it in the context of land swaps and agreement between the parties. And his insistence on recognition for Israel will be poison to the Arabs. He also seems to feel powerless in the matter, which is rare wisdom for him

In his address Thursday afternoon on U.S. policy in the Middle East, Obama told an audience at the State Department that the borders of a "sovereign, nonmilitarized" Palestinian state "should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps."

Negotiations should focus first on territory and security, and then the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem and what to do about the rights of Palestinian refugees can be broached, Obama said.

"Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table," Obama said, noting the new unity deal between Fatah and Hamas, a group foresworn to Israel's destruction.

"How can one negotiate with a party that shows itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?" Obama said. "In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question."

The U.S. president did not announce a specific initiative to resume talks between the two sides.

Obama also said that the Palestinians’ plan to declare statehood at the U.N. General Assembly this September will not result in a state. “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure,” Obama said. “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”

Ultimately, the president said, making peace is up to the parties.

"No peace can be imposed upon them, nor can endless delay make the problem go away," he said. "But what America and the international community can do is state frankly what everyone knows: a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace."



The minimum wage disaster

The latest weekly new jobless claims was lower than expected, but still about 150,000 higher than economists say is necessary to indicate we're on the road to a recovery. The unemployment rate increased to 9.0 percent last month. More than 14 million people are still out of work; another 6 million have given up even trying to find a job and have left the workforce.

Transfer payments from various social welfare programs now account for a record high 35 percent of total salary and wage income in America. Food stamps are used by 1-in-7 people nationally.

The only thing that is working well in America seems to be Obama's plan to "spread the wealth," but he's borrowing 40 cents of every dollar to do it.

While the numbers are staggering, Washington seems paralyzed to do much to help. In fact, evidence mounts that many of the woes facing Americans trace to failed public policy put in place by misguided politicians. The latest wreck on the growing list is the government mandated minimum wage.

In 2006, Democrats campaigned on an increase in the minimum wage, and early in 2007 the new Democrat majority delivered, unfortunately with significant Republican congressional support. And, George W. Bush signed it into law as part of a bigger appropriations package.

At that time, the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour and the unemployment rate was less than half (4.4%) of what it is today. Congress hiked the minimum wage more than 40% to $7.25 on a three step schedule with the last hike taking effect in July, 2009.

In March, 2010 A Line of Sight contributing editor, Chris Jaarda, examined the history of the minimum wage and found that unemployment spiked following four of the last five increases in the federal minimum wage. Jaarda also discovered that 79% of economists agree with the following: “a minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers.” Somebody should have told Congress.

A newly released study by two labor economists, William Even (Miami University) and David Macpherson (Trinity University) confirmed, yet again, what Jaarda and many others already knew; increasing the minimum wage punishes most the young, unskilled workers, and worse, has a significant racial component.

Even and Macpherson's study, "Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases" analyzed the employment status of 16-24 year-old male high school dropouts, by definition the most unskilled, inexperienced group in the labor pool.

Among the white males, the authors determined that "each 10% increase in a state or federal minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5%; for Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2%."

"But among black males in this group, each 10% increase in the minimum wage decreased employment by 6.5%."

Just a reminder, that 2007 increase was 40%. Guess what happened?

During the peak of what has been dubbed the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for young adults (16 to 24 years of age) as a whole rose to above 27%, according to syndicated columnist, Walter Williams. However, the unemployment rate for black young adults was almost 50%, but for young black males, it was 55%.

Many factors including the financial crisis contributed more to the recession than the minimum wage increase. In trying to parcel out the right numbers, Even and Macpherson compared the job loss caused by higher minimum wages with that caused by the recession and found between 2007 and 2010, employment for 16-to-24-year-old black males fell by approximately 34,300 as a result of the recession; over the same time period, approximately 26,400 lost their jobs as a result of increases in the minimum wage across the 50 states and at the federal level.

Even and Macpherson explain that young black men are more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs in bars and restaurants, exactly the kind of businesses with narrow profit margins that are more adversely affected by increases in minimum wage. Indeed, the National Restaurant Association lobbied against the 2007 legislation, pointing out that the last increase led to 146,000 lost jobs.

Walter Williams – himself a black male – unloaded blistering satire at the political establishment; "The best way to sabotage chances for upward mobility of a youngster from a single-parent household, who resides in a violent slum and has attended poor-quality schools is to make it unprofitable for any employer to hire him."

When the 2007 minimum wage increase was passed, the New York Times hailed it as a "major victory for low income workers." That's the standard liberal – oops, progressive – line. But, I doubt the 50% of black young adults that are out of work feel all that victorious.



End Game: My Job is to...

As we march, seemingly inexorably, toward a socialist society we bemoan the bureaucrats sitting in Washington making decisions about every aspect of our daily lives on matters both big and small. The vision of a blathering bureaucrat deciding what health options are available to us sends shudders down our spines.

Whereas the buck used to stop at the top, along with the falling dollar the buck now stops at the bottom. The bureaucratic chain of command issues highly refined “rules and regulations” down the organizational stream. Where it ends up, like effluent through a sieve, is with the little guy at the bottom.

This bottom dweller has zero accountability and zero authority except to perform his assigned job, which is spelled out in great detail. By the time the control gets to this level, the underlying "logic" (that term is used loosely) has all but evaporated. Whatever justification or good intentions or intended outcome of the rules when issued from the top, they have distilled to a simply defined task now devoid of any rational relationship to the real world.

The most obvious examples in the public arena today are at the airport screening sites. TSA screeners go lemming-like through the motions dictated from the upper level geniuses. Recall the nine year old girl recently patted down by a screener, an incident which caught national attention. This screener was just “doing his job” regardless of the fact that if anyone outside of the TSA touched the girl like that it would have been a criminal offense requiring registration as a sex offender. The “don’t touch my junk” guy had it right. It would have been a crime if it weren’t the government.

And there is no recourse here. The little men are “just doing their job”. The functioning of our society has been reduced to the conduct of little jobs being performed by little men in a virtual vacuum with no ability to relate to the rationality of the action.

To see where we in America are headed we merely have to look to Europe. A personal example. A few weeks ago I was traveling in Paris with my wife. I had purchased a fistful of single ride Métro tickets. In theory, you use the ticket at the turnstile to enter the Métro and also use the same ticket to exit – simple enough. Turns out that most exits don’t require use of the ticket to exit, so I started just putting the tickets back in my pocket with the other unused tickets. Unexpectedly, at one station we were greeted by a trio of Métro enforcement bureaucrats wielding handheld electronic gizmos asking for everyone’s tickets. Sorting through all those used and unused tickets in my pocket I pulled one out. It was the wrong one, and was rejected. The machine's conclusion: I was trying to cheat the system.

Showing my pile of tickets I tried to explain that the right ticket was amongst them. 'Sorry. The machine says you showed an incorrect ticket. My job is to make sure everyone has a ticket.' My unfamiliarity with the system was irrelevant as was the fact that the proper ticket was available if only they'd let me run it through their machine. Too bad. His job was to run a ticket through his machine. If the machine issued a verdict of "guilty" the result is a 25€ fine.

This is the holy grail of socialism. Reduce enforcement to a little man with a singular “job” to be performed faithfully and blindly and you have nirvana.

Judgment, logic and rational action have no place in that enlightened world. And there is no recourse to higher authority because the little man was doing his job in compliance with his training.

In America we're on the same course and again our airport regulations show us our future. The first leg of our Paris journey was via commercial mini-jet to New York. Entering the security zone with our full sized luggage a "pre-screener" told us that if our bags were too large for the carryon bag test cage, we' have to check them. We tried to explain that since our flight was on a small regional jet, all luggage would be checked as we entered the plane.

His response: “My job is to tell you the bag must fit in the test cage”. There you have it. "My job is..." It didn’t matter if my luggage was to be checked plane side or not or pitched into the Atlantic Ocean, his job was …

"My job is..." Next time you hear someone say that watch out: you are seeing the heart of the socialist beast.




Dems get filibustered for a change: "Democrats needed 60 votes to move the nomination forward to final passage. Senate Republicans on Thursday toppled the nomination, 52-43, of controversial University of California-Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a first in President Barack Obama's presidency. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said the nominee's writings "reveal a left-wing ideologue who views the role of a judge not as that of an impartial arbiter, but as someone who views the bench as a position of power." And though the Kentucky senator said he has "nothing against (Liu) personally, "Earning a lifetime appointment isn't a right, nor is it a popularity contest." [By blocking Miguel Estrada's nomination, it was the Dems who started this ball rolling. Their chickens have come home to roost]

NM: Warrants let Feds enter home without owner’s knowing: "A special type of government search warrant that allows authorities to search homes without informing the owner for months is becoming more common. ... These search warrants don’t involve knocking on doors or any type of warning at all. Delayed-notice search warrants, or 'sneak-and-peek' warrants, allow federal agents to enter your home without telling you they’ve been there until months later."

CA: Male genital mutilation ban to appear on San Francisco ballot: "A proposal to ban the circumcision of male children in San Francisco has been cleared to appear on the November ballot, setting the stage for the nation's first public vote on what has long been considered a private family matter. But even in a city with a long-held reputation for pushing boundaries, the measure is drawing heavy fire. Opponents are lining up against it, saying a ban on a religious rite considered sacred by Jews and Muslims is a blatant violation of constitutional rights."

Google: We’re not creepy enough to recognize your face: "We're kind of creepy, but not that creepy — the gist of Google guru Eric Schmidt's public scorn-pouring on technology that'd allow a company to recognize and identify your face, or my face, or anyone's face. How? By storing pictures of said faces in a massive photographically encyclopedic database. That Google would create such a database was 'unlikely,' said Schmidt, adding that for anyone to create such a repository was 'crossing the creepy line.'"

An expensive Gov. Moonbeam: "Pausing in his struggle to solve (or to get others to solve) today's iteration of California's recurring fiscal crisis, Jerry Brown, the recurring governor, recently approved a new contract for the prison guards union. Henceforth, guards can cash out at retirement an unlimited number of unused vacation days. Most California employees can monetize only 80 accrued days. Many guards will receive lump sums exceeding $100,000. The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that guards possess time worth $600 million. The union contributed almost $2 million to Brown's 2010 campaign."

Rep. Duncan Hunter criticizes Navy's decision to name ship for Cesar Chavez: "U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) disagrees with the Navy's decision to name a cargo ship under construction in San Diego for California farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. The decision, announced Tuesday, "appear[s] to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy's history and tradition," Hunter said in press release. Hunter, who served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that if the Navy wanted to recognize "the Hispanic contribution to our nation, many other names come to mind." Hunter mentioned Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, killed in combat in Iraq and nominated for the Medal of Honor. "Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes -- some of whom are worthy of the same recognition," Hunter said."


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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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