Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Cry For Me, America

In the early 20th century, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. It was blessed with abundant agriculture, vast swaths of rich farmland laced with navigable rivers and an accessible port system. Its level of industrialization was higher than many European countries: railroads, automobiles and telephones were commonplace.

In 1916, a new president was elected. Hipólito Irigoyen had formed a party called The Radicals under the banner of "fundamental change" with an appeal to the middle class. Among Irigoyen's changes: mandatory pension insurance, mandatory health insurance, and support for low-income housing construction to stimulate the economy.

Put simply, the state assumed economic control of a vast swath of the country's operations and began assessing new payroll taxes to fund its efforts. With an increasing flow of funds into these entitlement programs, the government's payouts soon became overly generous. Before long its outlays surpassed the value of the taxpayers' contributions. Put simply, it quickly became under-funded, much like the United States' Social Security and Medicare programs.

The death knell for the Argentine economy, however, came with the election of Juan Perón. Perón had a fascist and corporatist upbringing; he and his charismatic wife aimed their populist rhetoric at the nation's rich. This targeted group "swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated."

Under Perón, the size of government bureaucracies exploded through massive programs of social spending and by encouraging the growth of labor unions. High taxes and economic mismanagement took their inevitable toll even after Perón had been driven from office. But his populist rhetoric and "contempt for economic realities" lived on. Argentina's federal government continued to spend far beyond its means.

Hyperinflation exploded in 1989, the final stage of a process characterized by "industrial protectionism, redistribution of income based on increased wages, and growing state intervention in the economy..." The Argentinian government's practice of printing money to pay off its public debts had crushed the economy. Inflation hit 3000%, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. Food riots were rampant; stores were looted; the country descended into chaos.

And by 1994, Argentina's public pensions -- the equivalent of Social Security -- had imploded. The payroll tax had increased from 5% to 26%, but it wasn't enough. In addition, Argentina had implemented a value-added tax (VAT), new income taxes, a personal tax on wealth, and additional revenues based upon the sale of public enterprises. These crushed the private sector, further damaging the economy. A government-controlled "privatization" effort to rescue seniors' pensions was attempted. But, by 2001, those funds had also been raided by the government, the monies replaced by Argentina's defaulted government bonds.

By 2002, "...government fiscal irresponsibility... induced a national economic crisis as severe as America's Great Depression."

In 1902 Argentina was one of the world's richest countries. Little more than a hundred years later, it is poverty-stricken, struggling to meet its debt obligations amidst a drought.

We've seen this movie before. The Democrats' populist plans can't possibly work, because government bankrupts everything it touches. History teaches us that ObamaCare and unfunded entitlement programs will be utter, complete disasters.

Today's Democrats are guilty of more than stupidity; they are enslaving future generations to poverty and misery. And they will be long gone when it all implodes. They will be as cold and dead as Juan Perón when the piper must ultimately be paid.



President do-nothing

Obama fiddles while the economy burns

Even members of the president’s party are growing restive at a president who has time for fundraising, time for foreign receptions where he can bad-mouth the USA as “lazy,” time for a 57 state bus tour under which the finances of the country are regularly thrown to give the bus a little more traction, yet he has no time to negotiate a budget deal.

This is the third time in one year that Obama has had the opportunity to negotiate a major budget deal. It’s also the third time he’s fumbled the chance.

No president has done less with more chances.

“Three times is a lot,” Churchill wrote about how the British Navy blew three opportunities to secure a decisive victory at the Battle of Jutland.

I expect that once the budget deal finally fails and automatic cuts are enacted, Obama will announce a major vacation initiative on Good Morning America.

Obama seems to be stuck refighting Harry Truman’s come from behind campaign against a do-nothing Congress. Problem is this isn’t 1946 and Obama’s no Harry Truman.

He’s a president who has been recorded as not present on budget and fiscal issues since taking the oath of office. He was more believable in the role of the do-nothing Senator than he has been as president. Harry Truman never voted “not present” in his whole life: not as farmer, not as haberdasher, not as Senator, not as president.

As president, Obama has even made a poor Senator.

Democrat US Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin, a former governor who knows a little about governing- which seems to be a weak spot for Obama- blasted his president on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday when asked if Obama is doing enough to reach fiscal sanity: “Well, if it doesn't work, then no one’s done enough on it. And he's the leader of this great country, and we want him to step forward.”



A soft generation

The Occupy crowd saunter from their air-conditioned homes to their air-conditioned cars to their air-conditioned classrooms with their faces buried in smart phones, texting away to their friends about their fantasy football team or the results of Dancing with the Stars. Many look with disdain at the burger-flipping jobs my peers took while working their way through high school and college. They’re too busy with sports and clubs to work, unless it’s an internship for a group that is saving the earth or the whales or the smelt fish – in fact, saving everything except their parent’s money.

To say that they haven’t faced adversity and that they are an abundantly indulged generation severely understates the matter. Of course, there are exceptions in every generation: Athletes who live the principle of sacrifice for their team. There are the engineering and science majors that face demanding curriculums in order to earn good jobs. And, most obviously, there are the large numbers of young Americans who put their lives on the line by volunteering to defend the country in the armed services.

Separate out these remarkable, goal-oriented young men and women – and ignore the crazies and anarchists who have capitalized on the situation – and what you have left are the young Americans of the Occupy generation, a group of people who went through college expecting (yes, expecting) that upon graduation, they would be rewarded with a job where they would continue to be pampered. When they left the protective nest of academia and walked into an economic downturn that didn’t have a big fat job with a big fat paycheck and big fat benefits, they decided it was the mystical “rich” of America – the 1% – who were at fault.

The absolutely hilarious part comes from them completely ignoring that, because they live in America, they are part of the world’s 1%. They ignore that the reason they’re not part of America’s 1% is because they haven’t worked for it. And they really ignore the fact that the scholarships and loans they received are the product of the hard work, contributions, and taxes of the 1% that they both hate and/or envy.

Despite their college “educations,” they display an embarrassing lack of knowledge in economics and government. They demand bailouts from their student loans “just like Wall Street was bailed out,” utterly clueless to the fact that Wall Street paid back the money with interest.

They implore the government to create more “equality” in America, completely oblivious to the following facts: In the last 50 years government has grown from 27% of GDP to 37%; and, during that time, almost 50% of Americans have stopped paying income taxes, while the top earners bear an ever-growing share of the tax burden. And yet despite this blatant redistribution of wealth, income inequality in America has skyrocketed. Maybe they should correlate those facts and figure out that it’s probably government, not Wall Street, that’s the cause of rising inequality – just like government was the root cause of the housing crisis.

So what is our reaction to dealing with these overindulged youths when they decide to protest? We indulge them some more. They go to a park in New York and have a “Love-in.” The Mayor doesn’t give them the boot while other people supply free food and clothing. In a little known fact not reported in the mainstream press, Mayor Bloomberg has recruited a team of mothers to fluff their pillows and tuck them in at night after making them hot chocolate. Finally Bloomberg decides that recruiting all these volunteer mothers is too hard so he gives the kids the boot. Meanwhile, our babysitter-in-chief Barack Obama panders to the group by changing the rules to relieve them of the responsibility of paying their first financial obligation – their student loans.

What they need to do is take one of the jobs that exist in America. Yes, there are a whole lot of them, but those jobs are beneath these kids. I understand there are crops to be picked in Alabama and California because illegal aliens are scarce. Or maybe they could work at a donut shop or a McDonald’s. But that’s not going to happen because these kids have expectations and their food has always just appeared in the refrigerator – provided by magic elves of course.



The Accountability Charade

By Michelle Malkin

You can’t spell “accountability” without “A,” “C” and “T.” But in Washington, government officials routinely get away with “taking personal responsibility” by mouthing empty words devoid of action. Heads nod in collective agreement that mistakes were made. But heads never roll. The Obama administration has raised this accountability charade to an art form.

At a House Energy Committee hearing on the half-billion-dollar bankrupt Solyndra loan-guarantee disaster, Energy Secretary Steven Chu made a grand pretense of falling on his sword. The neon-green solar energy zealot told lawmakers in prepared testimony that the “final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind.” But again and again, Chu admitted, those decisions were made with serial cluelessness about the political jockeying, dire financial warnings, legal red flags and conflicts of interest that “everybody (else) and their dog” knew about (as GOP Rep. Joe Barton of Texas politely pointed out).

While former Democratic chief inquisitor Henry Waxman praised Chu’s “reputation for integrity” as “unimpeachable,” Chu came across as more Mr. Magoo than Mr. Clean.

Chu said he was “unaware” of the Department of Energy’s own staff predictions two years ago that Solyndra would face a serious cash-flow crisis today.

Chu said he was “unaware” of administration pressure on Solyndra to suppress layoff announcements until after the November 2010 midterm elections. “I don’t know. I just learned about that,” he shirked.

In fact, he used the phrase “I am aware of it now” at least a half-dozen times. If there were a Nobel Prize for Unknowing, Chu would be two-time shoo-in. GOP House Energy Committee Chairman Cliff Stearns summed up:
“We talked about the August 2009 email predicting Solyndra would be out of cash in September 2011. You knew about that, but you didn’t seem to know about that.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers concerns about Solyndra, you didn’t seem real concerned or weren’t aware of it.

The White House emailing your chief of staff regarding their concerns with the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, you didn’t seem to know too much about your chief of staff’s awareness of that.

The request to hold off announcement of the DOE loan, and request by your agency to Solyndra to hold off on announcing layoffs till after the midterm election, you don’t have any recollection of this. So what I am saying is that through all of this you seem to have an unawareness.”

In short, Chu took full responsibility for everything he wasn’t aware of … until it was too late.

Sound familiar? It was the leitmotif played in last week’s Fast and Furious hearings with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Despite a raft of briefing memos with his name on them, Holder claimed he never received or read them. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ran interference, sanctimoniously explaining for all the non-career government attorneys in the audience — including the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — that nooooooo one in the top echelons of the federal lawyers’ bureaucracy actually reads memos addressed to them. It’s merely a “convention” for junior staff to feel better and more important about themselves.

Taking his boss’s lead, former Holder Chief of Staff Kevin Ohlson — who is seeking a federal judicial slot — explained away his failure to do anything about the festering Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal. He had “been informed that routine courtesy copies of weekly reports were forwarded to me that referred to the operation by name, but that did not provide any operational details and did not refer to gun walking or anything similar.”

Although his name was on the documents, Ohlson just didn’t bother to read them because they weren’t marked important or sensitive. Imagine an ordinary small businessman or taxpayer trying that one out on the IRS.

Situational unawareness in the private marketplace or on the battlefield will cost you your livelihood or your life. In the Age of Obama, however, such willful ignorance is a job prerequisite. The less you know the better.




Putting bureaucracy first: Rachel Maddow’s progressivism: "Progressives today say people should come before profits. Now in a privilege-ridden corporate state, that’s a worthy goal, though Progressives have no clue how to achieve it. How nice it would be if they were equally committed to putting people before bureaucracy. Here they fall down rather badly because their signature ideas would subordinate regular people to the dictates of the power structure."

Middle class in big trouble: "But as much as lefties want to blame this disturbing trend on the evils of capitalism, in fact Big Government is a big culprit. Why has manufacturing declined in the U.S.? Because labor and environmental regulations -- both payoffs to Democrat Party constituents -- have made it virtually impossible to profitably manufacture in America, forcing companies to ship production to low tax, low regulation areas overseas"

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


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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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