Thursday, August 11, 2011
Mr. Green Jobs Boondoggle Rides Again
Van Jones, President Obama's disgraced green jobs czar, is back with a radical progressive plan to rescue America ... from his old boss.
The problem, posits Jones, is that his fellow community organizer in the White House hasn't spent enough, regulated enough or taxed enough to achieve their perverse version of the "American Dream." What the country needs to "get the economy back on track," according to Jones and his league of leftists, is more government-created make-work. Oh, and a hefty side of Big Labor pork.
Jones recently teamed up with George Soros-funded retread MoveOn.org, Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union to launch a "Rebuild the Dream" movement. Borrowing a yellowed page from has-been GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Jones and Company this week released their own "contract" to solve the "jobs crisis." The top two agenda items in this not-so-new contract echo Obama's longstanding calls for: 1) multibillion-dollar "investments" in America's infrastructure (see my column last week on the White House's renewed push for a government-supported infrastructure bank) and 2) "21st-century energy jobs" (which Obama claims he is creating this week by forcing tightened fuel efficiency standards down automakers' throats).
The supposedly visionary document is a carbon copy of standard Democratic talking points. It's the same old, same old with a dash of Jones' swagger on top for flavor.
Jones' Contract for the American Dream laments: "Our workers are sitting idle, while the work of rebuilding America goes undone." Obama issued the same lament last September: "It doesn't do anybody any good when so many hardworking Americans have been idled for months, even years, at a time when there is so much of America that needs rebuilding."
But the AFL-CIO and SEIU bigwigs to whom both Jones and Obama are beholden stubbornly oppose putting a vast population of hardworking, nonunion Americans back to work. Keep in mind: Through anti-competitive "project labor agreements" enforced by White House executive order, private contractors bidding on public infrastructure projects are required to hand over exclusive bargaining control; to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits; and to fork over dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations. These PLAs undermine a fair bidding process on projects that locked-out, nonunion laborers are funding with their own tax dollars. And they benefit the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority: In the construction industry, 85 percent of the workforce is nonunion by choice.
And remember this: While Jones and his union pals talk a lofty game about protecting American workers and creating American jobs, they march in lockstep with the open-borders lobby and promoters of another blanket illegal alien amnesty. The SEIU, one of Jones' most powerful Contract for the American Dream co-sponsors, continues to push for the DREAM Act illegal alien student bailout, opposes enforcement of employer sanctions and brazenly recruits illegal alien workers/voters to its ranks.
As for the green jobs racket, gobs of Obama money has already been spent on them -- and unemployment has continued to hover near double digits. Jones' pipe dream jobs would be better dubbed "brown jobs" to reflect the color of the sewer down which untold millions have been flushed in the name of environmental stimulus salvation. There's also a distinctly blue tint to these supposedly eco-friendly green jobs. Blue, that is, for partisan Democratic agendas and allies. Federal green jobs funds have subsidized, among others, the SEIU's nationalized health care activists in Maryland, the UAW Labor Employment and Training Corporation, the Blue Green Alliance (a union conglomerate), the 1199 SEIU Family of Funds and a United Steelworkers front group, the Institute for Career Development.
The Contract for the American Dream is a contract for continued wealth redistribution from taxpayers to Democratic special interests from a failed prophet of green jobs boondogglery. Sound familiar? Van Jones may have left Washington, but his spirit, alas, is alive and well in his mentor's nightmare policies.
Taxes kill jobs
Walter E. Williams
President Barack Obama has called for a luxury tax on corporate jets as a means to generate revenue to fight federal deficits. The president's economic advisers ought to be fired for not telling him that doing so is unwise and counterproductive. They might have already told him so, only to have the president say, "Look, I know you're right, but I'm exploiting the public's envy of the rich!" Let's look at what happened when Obama's predecessor George H.W. Bush signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and broke his "read my lips" vow not to agree to new taxes.
When Congress imposed a 10 percent luxury tax on yachts, private airplanes and expensive automobiles, Sen. Ted Kennedy and then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell crowed publicly about how the rich would finally be paying their fair share of taxes. What actually happened is laid out in a Heartland Institute blog post by Edmund Contoski titled "Economically illiterate Obama, re: Corporate Jets" (7/12/2011).
Within eight months after the change in the law took effect, Viking Yachts, the largest U.S. yacht manufacturer, laid off 1,140 of its 1,400 employees and closed one of its two manufacturing plants. Before it was all over, Viking Yachts was down to 68 employees. In the first year, one-third of U.S. yacht-building companies stopped production, and according to a report by the congressional Joint Economic Committee, the industry lost 7,600 jobs. When it was over, 25,000 workers had lost their jobs building yachts, and 75,000 more jobs were lost in companies that supplied yacht parts and material. Ocean Yachts trimmed its workforce from 350 to 50. Egg Harbor Yachts went from 200 employees to five and later filed for bankruptcy. The U.S., which had been a net exporter of yachts, became a net importer as U.S. companies closed. Jobs shifted to companies in Europe and the Bahamas. The U.S. Treasury collected zero revenue from the sales driven overseas.
Back then, Congress told us that the luxury tax on boats, aircraft and jewelry would raise $31 million in revenue a year. Instead, the tax destroyed 330 jobs in jewelry manufacturing and 1,470 in the aircraft industry, in addition to the thousands destroyed in the yacht industry. Those job losses cost the government a total of $24.2 million in unemployment benefits and lost income tax revenues. The net effect of the luxury tax was a loss of $7.6 million in fiscal 1991, which means Congress' projection was off by $38.6 million. The Joint Economic Committee concluded that the value of jobs lost in just the first six months of the luxury tax was $159.6 million.
Congress repealed the luxury tax in 1993 after realizing it was a job killer and raised little net revenue. Why did congressional dreams of greater revenues turn into a nightmare? Kennedy, Mitchell and their congressional colleagues simply assumed that the rich would act the same after the imposition of the luxury tax as they did before and that the only difference would be more money in the government's coffers. Like most politicians then and now, they had what economists call a zero-elasticity vision of the world, a fancy way of saying they believed that people do not respond to price changes. People always respond to price changes. The only debatable issue is how much and over what period.
Here's my question for you: Is it likely that in the two decades since 1990, American human nature has changed? If Congress imposes a luxury tax on corporate jets and other luxury items, will Americans behave differently this time? In other words, can we expect federal tax revenues to rise and unemployment to fall as a result of Obama's tax proposal?
I don't believe that Obama is dumb enough to believe that a tax on corporate jets would be a revenue generator. His agenda is to inspire envy and resentment against wealthy Americans as a tool in pursuit of his higher-tax agenda.
Another example of the easy transition from Communism to Fascism
Mussolini did it and Putin's Russia has done it
Thestory of the day comes from Germany. It’s about comrade Horst Mahler, one of the leaders of the West German Baader-Meinhof Gang that terrorized the country in the latter days of the Cold War. Mahler was one of the founders of the Red Army Faction, which was one of the most violent terrorist groups in Europe in the 1970s and 80s. He was arrested shortly after the group’s creation, and spent many years in prison. A lawyer with a passion for defending anti-Government protesters, Mahler emerged from jail with dramatically different political convictions: he had moved from the extreme left to the extreme right, and is now serving time because of his activities as a Holocaust denier.
The German story alleges — based on a claim of having read a Stasi document — that Mahler was working for East German intelligence until the time that he joined Baader-Meinhof. The document in question emerged in connection with a recently reopened investigation into the fatal shooting of a peace demonstrator by a West German policeman in 1967. For extras, the cop was found to be a Stasi agent.
The link above takes you to an article in the Guardian, and the author quite properly raises questions about the reliability of the report. He does not raise a question that should always be introduced when we are talking about internal intelligence service documents: case officers love to claim that they have recruited people who are not actually working for them, but may be sympathetic to their objectives. It is possible, therefore, that Mahler was friendly with the Stasi but not following their instructions.
That said, there can be no doubt that the Red Army Faction was in cahoots with the Stasi. I had several conversations with top German intelligence and military leaders in the mid-1980s, and they were positive about the operational links between West German terrorists and East German intelligence.
But that is not what interests me most; that is old news, whatever is eventually found regarding the document in question and Mahler’s connections to his country’s enemies. The most important aspects of the story are: Mahler’s smooth transition from communism to right-wing anti-Semitism, and his own reflections on that transition.
Those few people who have actually studied fascism know that European communist leaders often recruited loyal comrades from the ranks of fascist movements and parties. Much of the time, especially after the second world war, the communists airbrushed the biographies of these new recruits in order to save them the annoyance of having to answer embarrassing questions about their previous loyalties. This is especially noteworthy and extraordinarily well-documented in the Italian case, where, to the great amazement of their admirers, leading left-wing intellectuals have been found to have been loyal fascists and even enthusiastic anti-Semites during the 20-year fascist era.
Mahler fits that pattern quite nicely, albeit in reverse. But the “direction” of his conversion is much less important than the fact itself. Mahler has been a “true believer” throughout, whether his passions were attached to a utopian vision of a classless society, or to a world in which his own country’s guilt for the Holocaust is rendered moot by denying the crime. Instead, he blames his country for different crimes altogether, either the oppression of the (non-existent) working-class or accepting the myth of Nazi mass murder. In such a tortured soul, it all comes to the same thing. He sees himself fighting in the name of higher ideals, even though they change according to the political and moral requirements of the moment.
Mahler says as much. When asked about the dramatic change in his worldview by a German writer, Mahler insisted that, properly understood, he had remained faithful to himself:
“When I asked him whether he accepted that he had changed his views since the 1960s, he said, ‘You have to see it dialectically. One changes, and at the same time one remains the same.’ “
Biting The Very Hands That Feed Us
Politicians love to extol the virtues of small business and praise the entrepreneurs who take risks to create jobs – when it's politically expedient for them to do so. But when the political winds change, the political establishment is quick to take to the airwaves to vilify small business owners for being profitable, dubbing them "millionaires" and calling for an increase in their taxes.
This political two-step is made possible by the fact that small business owners - from sole proprietorships to companies with hundreds of employees - most often report company earnings as personal income. These companies are most often "subchapter S-Corporations" or LLCs where the business income "passes through" to the individual so as to avoid being double-taxed, hence these are known as "pass-through companies." These entrepreneurs must set aside much of their reported income to support their businesses in bad times and for investing in the future. Even if they have to cut their own salaries to stay afloat, they are still described as "millionaires," making them easy prey for politicians looking for a villain.
In case you missed that, let me say it again, differently: the income a business generates is not primarily for the business owner – it is for the business: operations, payroll and reinvesting in the community. Business owners, particularly those who file their taxes as individuals, look like high-income earners, but only on paper, and this is a critical distinction that government often seems to forget – or ignore.
For some perspective, there are more than 4.5 million S-Corporations in the United States today and, according to Ernst & Young, 54% of all private sector employees – some 69 million people – currently work for these types of "pass-through" businesses. So when politicians talk about putting the squeeze on "millionaires" for more taxes – ostensibly to bring more revenue into government – their proposal may sound good but consider this: Higher taxes means less profit for companies to invest in their business and may mean they have to eliminate existing jobs as a result. Moreover, fewer people working means the government receives less revenue. In the middle of the worst job crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression, raising taxes on businesses is a profoundly bad idea.
Why does this matter? The most powerful engine of job creation is new and small business. The government's own Small Business Administration statistics show that small businesses have created more than two-thirds of net new non-farm jobs over the past decade and a half, accounting for nearly half of the nation's private sector payroll. They also produce 13 times more patents per employee than large firms, many of which are likely to influence the creation of even more job-creating start up businesses.
The Millionaire Next Door, a book by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, points out that half of the millionaires in this country own their own businesses. That means that for the most part, they took risks, sacrificed personal income so they could grow their businesses, put people to work in their communities and, and by doing so, made significant contributions to the nation's economic success.
The bottom line is the lifeblood of these companies – their profits – is actually the lifeblood of our national economy, and those in the political establishment who cynically see an easy target for short-term political gain put jobs and economic recovery at risk. Put them out of business, and we put the country out of business.
Instead of targeting the actual job creators in our communities, the politicians in Washington should be focused on passing pro-growth policies that will get our economy moving again and will put people back to work. To make sure Washington hears this message loud and clear, I recently became a member of the Job Creators Alliance. We are a growing group of current and former CEOs who have spent our careers in the private economy. We are job creators – large and small – committed to defending the free enterprise system that has made our country’s economy the most prosperous in history.
We know what makes America great because we've seen it first hand. But if Washington continues to demonize success and target small businesses to fund their reckless spending, our children and their children will inherit a very different America than the one we were fortunate enough to start our careers in.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
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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)
Posted by JR at 8:04 PM