Saturday, August 13, 2011

Survivalists are now terrorists, according to Obama's FBI

Since GOP Congressmen are also allegedly terrorists, it's only logical to expand the list, I guess. Excerpt:
An FBI Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force handout being distributed to Colorado military surplus store owners lists the purchase of popular preparedness items and firearms accessories as “suspicious” and “potential indicators of terrorist activities,” instructing store owners to keep records on and report people who:

“Make bulk purchase of items to include: Weatherproofed ammunition or match containers; Meals Ready to Eat; Night Vision Devices; night flashlights; gas masks; High capacity magazines; Bi-pods or tri-pods for rifles”

The FBI handout, entitled “Communities Against Terrorism: Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Military Surplus Stores” also instructs surplus store owners to:

“Require valid ID from all new customers; Keep records of purchases' Talk to customers, ask questions, and listen to and observe their responses; Watch for people and actions that are out of place; Make note of suspicious statements, people, and /or vehicles; If something seems wrong, notify law enforcement authorities.”

The handout also instructs surplus store owners to consider as “suspicious” anyone who “demands identity ‘privacy’” or anyone who expresses “extreme religious statements” and those who “make suspicious comments regarding anti-US, [or] radical theology.”

The “Communities Against Terrorism” flyer closes by stating:

Preventing terrorism is a community effort. By learning what to look for, you can make a positive contribution in the fight against terrorism. The partnership between the community and law enforcement is essential to the success of anti -terrorism efforts.


Let me give a more realistic set of terrorism indicators: Possession of a Koran; Getting your butt up in the air 5 times a day; saying "inshallah", "Allah Akhbar" or "Peace be upon him"; wearing long white coats; being seen inside a mosque.


Why Profit Is Our Best Friend in healthcare too

Many liberals think of profit as evil. They see it as the product of “corporate greed,” something that needs to be harshly taxed. Yet the desire to earn a profit is what impels innovators to solve some of our most important social problems.

I don’t think that getting rich is the main motivation of entrepreneurs — the possibility of changing the world may be an even stronger desire. However, you can almost guarantee there will be no entrepreneurship if you do two things: (a) eliminate all possibility of getting rich, and (b) make it impossible to change anything without the approval of an intractable bureaucracy.

That in a nutshell is my explanation for why our two most visibly dysfunctional social systems — health care and public education — remain so dysfunctional.

I meet entrepreneurs in health care almost every day. Their novel ideas are invariably focused on helping some entity — a hospital, insurer, employer, etc. — solve a problem. They are rarely focused on how to solve an overall social problem, however. Because our health care system is so dysfunctional, in solving the problem for a client, they may be making our social problems worse than they would have been.

Solving social problems in health care with innovative policy proposals is what I do. It is a lonely field. But it would be a lot less lonely if we allowed people to get rich doing it.

To take one example, it is often asserted that one-third of all health care spending is wasteful. Suppose Bill Gates was able to write a computer program that would find the waste and eliminate it. Society as a whole would save more than $800 billion. So how much should we be willing to pay Bill Gates? A tenth of the overall benefit he creates ($80 billion)? One-half the benefit ($400 billion)?

Perhaps you’re thinking that we shouldn’t pay Bill Gates anything. Maybe you think he should give us the program for free, as an altruistic gesture. Or, maybe you think the most he should get back is a 1% or 2% return — something close to the return paid by government bonds. If this is your viewpoint, welcome to the world of health policy. You will find all kinds of people who think just like you do.

In general, there is no limit to how much people can make in health care by successfully exploiting reimbursement formulas. But the federal government is in the process of limiting what insurance companies can earn, effectively reducing them to the role of public utilities.

Two recent items in the news help illustrate why this approach is so wrong. In one, The New York Times reports:
The brothers, Philip and Joel [Levy], earned close to $1 million a year each as the two top executives running a Medicaid-financed nonprofit organization serving the developmentally disabled.

They each had luxury cars paid for with public money. And when their children went to college, they could pass on the tuition bills to their nonprofit group.

Philip H. Levy went as far as charging the organization $50,400 for his daughter’s living expenses one year when she attended graduate school at New York University.

That money paid not for a dorm room, but rather it helped her buy a co-op apartment in Greenwich Village.

In the other story, The New York Times reports that Blue Shield of California will voluntarily limit its profit to no more than 2% of revenues — no doubt anticipating that government regulators were going to force that result anyway.

Think about those two examples. Almost everybody in health care agrees that many of our biggest problems stem from the way we pay for care. And who is paying? Insurance companies.

The $800 billion is almost all funded by third-party payers. So another way of stating the social problem is: we need to find newer and better types of third-party payment.

Let’s suppose that an insurance company contracts with Bill Gates for the hypothetical software described above. By using it, the insurer will cut its spending by one-third and add that amount to the bottom line. This would be good for numerous reasons: the elimination of wasteful spending would improve the quality of care for patients, reduce the chance of medical errors, free up resources for use by other patients and encourage every other insurer to find ways of achieving the same outcome.

But under ObamaCare, the software will never be invented, never be purchased and never be used. Why? Because under the new health law it will be impossible for an insurer to cash in on that innovation.

Under the new law, large health insurance companies have to pay out as much as 85% of their premium income in the form of benefits. The remaining 15% has to cover all sales and administrative costs plus brokers fees and if anything is left that’s what the insurer gets to keep.

The insurer with Bill Gates’ hypothetical software would have to rebate its profit to enrollees in the form of lower premiums. Thus, no insurer will be able to profit from major cost-reducing discoveries. Nor will any insurer even try. Instead, insurance companies will function like utilities, taking no real risks and making no radical changes in their current business model.

ObamaCare has ensured that our health care problems will not be solved by stifling innovation in the one sector of the market that most needs vigorous entrepreneurial activity.



Obamacare Gets Thumbs Down by court

The hallmark legislation of the Obama administration, Obamacare, took another body blow when the 11th Circuit Court ruled Friday that the individual mandate requiring adult persons in the U.S. to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. Where have we heard that argument before?

While the court didn’t go so far as to declare the entire act void, it effectively scrapped the legislation by denying it the source of its funding. The administration is expected to appeal the ruling, but a final decision will likely come in the U.S. Supreme Court.

A coalition of 26 states, kind of an ad-hoc death panel for Obamacare, is suing the federal government to stop implementation of Obamacare, arguing that key provisions of the act are illegal.

A key argument by the states was that the power to require Americans to purchase a product gives the government unlimited powers to regulate all aspects of someone’s life and is thus unconstitutional.

The 11th Circuit Court seems to agree by a 2-1 margin: “The government’s position amounts to an argument that the mere fact of an individual’s existence substantially affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate them at every point of their life.” In short, it’s the same old argument liberals always make that the mere ability to pass legislation is more than enough reason to do it, 'cuz "Hey, let's see what's in it.".

Forbes quotes the crux of the argument from the 11th Circuit’s Death Panel thusly: “The federal government’s assertion of power, under the Commerce Clause, to issue an economic mandate for Americans to purchase insurance from a private company for the entire duration of their lives is unprecedented, lacks cognizable limits, and imperils our federalist structure.”

While politically the passage of Obamacare was the biggest legislative accomplishment of the Obama administration, more and more Americans are growing uneasy about the wisdom of the legislation as they “find out what’s in it.”

In June, a CNN poll showed that more Americans opposed Obamacare than supported it by a landslide margin of 17 percent. A Rasmussen poll in August showed a margin against by 14 points. And it looks like opposition is coming from both Democrats and Republicans.

The Washington Post quotes Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute as saying “One of the striking things about today’s ruling is that, for the first time in one of these cases, a Democrat-appointed judge, Frank Hull, has ruled against the government,” although Shapiro warns that the fight is far from over.

“Supporters of limited constitutional government need to temper their celebrations — just as they wisely tempered their sorrows after the last ruling — because we must all now realize that this will not end until the Supreme Court rules,” Shapiro concluded.

Progressives ballyhooed the legislation as healthcare reform that would help lower costs and increase coverage. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that while it may increase coverage, costs will skyrocket. As Townhall’s political editor Guy Benson noted in June, 1 of 3 employers will probably cancel employee coverage by 2014 because of Obamacare.

A survey by Mercer finds that 55 percent of employers think that their costs will go up as a result of Obamacare, while premiums already continue to rise.

“Rising health care costs are putting a huge financial burden on employers across the country,” says Robert Zirchelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents insurers who provide health benefits to some 200 million Americans according to the San Antonio Business Journal. “Rather than help control the rising cost of medical care, the new health care reform law instead imposes billions of dollars in new taxes and benefit mandates and will significantly increase the cost of coverage for employers and their employees.”

It’s just another example of the Obama administration passing laws that don’t even attempt to solve actual problems faced by the American people, but rather try to take advantage of problems faced by the American people by passing legislation that increases the reach of the federal government regardless of the consequences to personal liberty.



Huge new costs are another reason scrap Obamacare

A few hundred billion dollars here, a few hundred billion dollars there — sooner or later we’re talking about the real cost of Barack Obama’s new socialized medicine monstrosity.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Apparently, passing the legislation was also a prerequisite to determining its actual price tag — which as it turns out is much higher than anyone fathomed.

The latest cost overrun associated with ObamaCare? A $500 billion “error” associated with insuring the spouses and children of new entitlement recipients. That’s $500 billion in additional deficit spending — although it didn’t stem from an “error” so much as it was the result of a deliberate miscalculation.

As it attempted to calculate ObamaCare’s true fiscal impact, the Congressional Budget Office was explicitly instructed to ignore the cost of covering family members under new eligibility requirements for low-income private sector employees.

“The Congressional Budget Office has never done a cost-estimate of this (because) they were expressly told to do their modeling on single coverage,” researcher Richard Burkhauser told the Daily Caller this month.

Documents obtained from the Democratic-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation confirm Burkhauser’s account — and demonstrate the lengths to which Obama supporters went in an effort to hide these costs from the taxpayers.

Obviously this isn’t the first “oversight” associated with this unconstitutional abomination. In March of 2011, Obama’s heath care czarina Kathleen Sebelius was forced to acknowledge under oath that the government double-counted $529 billion in “savings” associated with the implementation of the legislation.

Numerous other errors and omissions have been uncovered within ObamaCare’s fuzzy math — including a $52 billion raid of Social Security and a $72 billion repayment obligation for a new “long-term care trust fund.”

According to Congressional Budget Office estimates released on the eve of its passage in March 2010, ObamaCare was originally projected to add $109 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years.

We can now add more than $1 trillion to that total (and counting), shredding once and for all Obama’s ridiculous claim that his signature legislation is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history.”

It’s also critical to remember that all of this deficit spending comes after the imposition of new tax hikes totaling hundreds of billions of dollars — a double whammy for taxpayers.

In addition to its infamous (and unconstitutional) individual mandate, ObamaCare also includes a new employer mandate tax, a new tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans, the creation of a new 3.8% surtax on investment income for households that earn more than $250,000, increases in Medicaid payroll taxes, a new tax on medical device manufacturers, a new tanning tax, a tax hike on drug companies and at least a dozen other new “revenue enhancements.”

Many of these tax hikes have already been implemented — siphoning money away from our economy at the worst possible time. They’re also being collected even after a federal judge struck down ObamaCare in its entirety.



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)


Friday, August 12, 2011

New Picture Gallery

I don't put up a lot of pictures on my blogs -- except for Greenie Watch. It has lots of graphs. But I think that some of the pictures I do put up are worth a second look. So when I get time I gather such pictures together in a "gallery". I have just put up the gallery for the first half of this year. You can access it here


Weird Healthcare Regulation of the Day: No Coverage for Men With Breast Cancer

“Disease does not discriminate, but apparently Medicaid coverage does. A 26-year-old South Carolina tile-layer has found himself with breast cancer and out of luck for one reason: He is a man.

While breast cancer affects an estimated 2,000 men annually, Medicaid does not cover treatment of the disease in men,” reports the Daily Caller. “The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said that the discriminatory policy lies with the federal government. ‘We are again urging CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services] to reconsider,’ the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. ‘It’s a very clear example of how overly rigid federal regulations don’t serve the interests of the people we’re supposed to be helping.’”

The man with cancer, Raymond Johnson, is hardly an anomaly. There have been high-profile cases of men with breast cancer, like former Senator Ed Brooke (R-Mass.), the first popularly-elected black U.S. Senator. But the federal geniuses who are taking over our healthcare system don’t seem to read the paper.

The government justifies its actions by citing a regulation that bars covering men. But the regulation itself is unconstitutional. The government cannot engage in sex discrimination or sex-based classifications unless it has an “exceeding persuasive justification” that goes beyond mere administrative convenience or gender-based generalizations; it must show that any gender classification substantially advances important state interests; and the burden of showing the need for such discrimination is on the government, which must satisfy a “demanding” showing.

See the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Virginia (1995), which struck down VMI’s men-only policy, and cases like Craig v. Boren (1976), and Michigan Road Builders v. Milliken (1987), which applied similar principles to strike down gender classifications that harmed men.



What is "debt forgiveness"

While it is easy to come up with a standard definition, standard definitions seldom apply when a term enters the realm of politics and policy.

A recent article in the Washington Post cited economists who argue that slow economic growth is in our foreseeable future because we have run up so much mortgage debt. It will take years to de-leverage it. But economist Carmen Reinhart argued that there was a policy that could help:

Reinhart focuses on the housing market, where much of the debt is concentrated. “I ultimately think we have to wind up with some form of debt forgiveness,” she says.

Debt forgiveness sure sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s remember, though, that it was melodious but deceptive rhetoric like “affordable housing” and “community reinvestment” that got us into this mess in the first place. Thus, it’s a good idea to look at what debt forgiveness will really mean.

First, who will be forgiven and who will do the forgiving? Presumably it will be banks that have to forgive those who have taken on a larger mortgage than they could afford. Yet if banks have to take a loss on those mortgages, they may try to make it up with higher interest rates on other mortgages, higher interest rates on credit cards, or more fees on checking accounts. That means that many people who have acted responsibly with their money will also be doing the forgiving.

Next, what if banks decide that they don’t want to forgive debt? Well, it’s generally not in the nature of politicians and other policymakers to let the private sector back out of a “good idea.” Likelier, it will be the type of “forgiving” that Chrysler’s secured bondholders got to do. In that case, “forgiveness” isn’t the right term since it implies an action that is voluntary.

The current mess was caused by people making bad choices because at the end of the day they could expect the government to rescue them. “Debt forgiveness” might only encourage more such behavior.

Nevertheless, it is nice-sounding rhetoric, so expect politicians to use it to gin up votes. Just be sure that when you hear them use that phrase, you know what they really mean is “using government to force banks and responsible borrowers to bail out irresponsible borrowers.”



An old controversy

I am no peacenik but I have always been disturbed and skeptical over the A-bombing of Japan by a Democrat President. Japan was already crushed by that time

According to most high-school history texts, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible but necessary tragedies. They "ended the war," and while they resulted in the deaths of as many as 250,000, they saved many thousands more. Of course a close examination of the facts reveals that none of this is true: Even the estimate for a full-scale invasion of Japan put the American death toll at only 46,000 (all combatant deaths, not civilians). Moreover, the Japanese government had been trying to surrender – balking only at the unconditionality the US side demanded, as they did not want to see their emperor dethroned and executed. Following the Japanese surrender however, the US government happily allowed the emperor to continue serving as a figurehead.

Even the United States Strategic Bombing Survey declared that,"… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." Indeed, the devastation the US forces had wreaked upon Japan through conventional warfare (the infamous firebombing campaigns left as many as half a million dead) had already helped seal Japan’s defeat. The most generous interpretation possible of the motives for dropping the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that they served as a demonstration to the Soviet Union of US military might.



Barbarism Comes from the Left

Barbarism comes from the Left. Socialism always leads to death and destruction – every time it is forced upon a society.

Socialist created barbarism is again rearing its evil head on the streets of Great Britain. The rioters are attacking and destroying symbols of Capitalism -- the products of personal hard work, including small businesses and family homes.

Socialism teaches that what others have earned is rightfully owed to those who do not care to exert the necessary effort to earn it by their own hard labors. The looters are stealing from private business and destroying what they cannot carry. Fire is a favorite destructive tool of those who are attacking and destroying that which is not theirs.

Arson, as recently as 1970, was confirmed to still be a capital offense in Great Britain. Arsonists were eligible for hanging. It seems British law no longer has a stomach for defending private property and innocent people. The discussions have descended to the level of whether or not to even use plastic bullets and water cannons.

Whatever happened to live ammunition? Shooting looters and arsonists on sight is how civilized societies once kept the wanton barbarism of the undisciplined in check.

A depraved and degenerate society gives the benefit of the doubt to criminals and punishes those who would dare to defend themselves. The British people have long since been disarmed by their nanny state government and would probably be jailed if they were to harm a rioting hooligan in self-defense.

The Left creates dependency which leads to anger and despair. The Left establishes an entitlement mentality in society, which leads to the resentment and hatred of those who dare to work hard and to achieve. The nanny government uses legalized theft to take the money and personal property of those who have the gumption to work and to use it to provide goods and services to able-bodied people who are too lazy to provide for themselves.

We see similar eruptions of barbarism in the United States. J. Christian Adams wrote:

"Consider the Wisconsin State Fair last week. The 911 tapes reveal a nightmare. “We’re outside the Wisconsin State Fair and there’s a white guy being beaten up by about 100 black people,” the panicked caller cries. “They’re jumping on our cars. . . . My mom just got attacked by a black mob.” Multiple eyewitnesses describe white fairgoers being pulled from cars and beaten by the Mob, all black. The evidence establishes a strong presumption that race was a motivating factor in the attacks. This is America?"

The Left stokes the fires of greed, hatred, and resentment by forcibly removing societal religious foundations. Without the fixed moral compass of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, people descend into barbarism.



In Lieu of Well-Reasoned Arguments, the Left Relies on Intimidation

Because the radical demands of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union run counter to common sense and the tenets of Western Civilization, they and their leftist allies and colleagues use fear, intimidation, and disinformation to accomplish their ends which generally mean a loss of liberty for everyone else. We see this in the way they rely on shame tactics, the court system, and behavior controls, like speech codes and “anti-bullying” regulations, to implement and protect their agenda.

Just think of how many times you’ve heard someone mention they wanted to say something about the blatant lawlessness and immorality in our culture, but they hesitated because they didn’t want to rock the boat—they didn’t want to disturb the status quo. All too often, this is because the totalitarians on the left have successfully levered sufficient shame to intimidate decent people into silence.

In other words, groups like NARAL and their media allies use shame to bring a strong man low enough to allow a weaker man to control him: shame takes the fight out of the dog.

For example, the left’s use of the court system is ubiquitous, and perhaps best exemplified through Roe v. Wade (1973), the case which made most state laws against abortion unenforceable.

Even now, the leftist American Atheists is suing to have a cross – a cross not made by human effort –removed from the National 9/11 Memorial in New York, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are suing to shut down a proposed school voucher system in D.C.: a system aimed at delivering some of the students from the cycle of poverty and ignorance by allowing them to attend private schools where both the curriculum and environment are better. Because the vouchers could be used to attend private, Christian schools, Americans United for Separation for Church and State complains, “Vouchers…compel taxpayers to subsidize religion.” (As if they don’t know that the other option is to have government compel taxpayers to subsidize the anti-Christian/Jewish curriculum now rampant in government schools.)

The great irony here is that many of the aforementioned groups are among those who claim to do everything in the name of the people, yet it is they who frequently use the court system to bypass the people – and even sue to prevent elections – because they know their ideas lack popular support when put to the test.

And for those who dare brush aside the shame tactics or fight fire with fire in the courtroom, the left has enacted speech and anti-bullying codes that serve as more stringent forms of behavior control. Promoted by those like GLSEN and the ACLU, the speech codes are prevalent on high school and university campuses where even certain student-sponsored statements and phrases are disallowed unless uttered in a designated “free speech” area. And on the same campuses, diversity campaigns, and the “anti-bullying” campaigns that usually accompany them, result in the implementation of policies that actually create a caste system for those whose sensitivities are not protected from insult and discrimination, and that usually means a Christian ministry that wants to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One last point: these methods of intimidation are bolstered by the left’s use of cripplingly costly lawsuits, which go above and beyond their “normal” use of the court system to rid our landscape of crosses, references to Scripture, “In God We Trust” inscriptions, etc.

Frivolous lawsuit after lawsuit is filed against things like Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s call to voluntary prayer or any public mention of one’s faith by a political figure with the hope not simply of ending a day of prayer but of scaring small municipalities into scrubbing their speech free of any religious reference—or else. (For example, groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation maintain an Internet link which exists solely for the purpose of reporting any “violators.”)

Reality is thus twisted and turned upon its head in a world where the left ignores the metaphysical while waging war on logic and tradition. In the end, they have to intimidate people into playing along or being silent because they lack arguments sufficient to convince us that their way is better.




The war on lemonade: "America is a country founded on entrepreneurship and free enterprise. That’s why one of its most enduring childhood traditions is the lemonade stand. It teaches children initiative, about the value of money and how to earn it. Recently, however, children have been learning entirely different lessons -- that bureaucrats are in charge and you cross them at your peril. Bureaucrats have the power to pick winners and losers -- a power many are happy to exploit."

The Democratic Party and the language of bankruptcy: "What does a political regime do when its philosophy doesn’t work and is leading to ruin? It can’t scrap the philosophy, which is its raison d'etre and the basis of its power. Were it to chuck the philosophy, its core constituencies would abandon it. So instead it blames those who have most cogently pointed out the defects of the philosophy. It calls them liars and haters."


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)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mr. Green Jobs Boondoggle Rides Again

Michelle Malkin

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, 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.



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)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How half of your intelligence comes from your parents

Academics have known this for over 100 years on the basis of twin studies. But it's good to see it confirmed by DNA studies and mentioned in the mainstream press. Twin studies indicate around two thirds rather than a half is genetic but why quibble?

If you struggle with sums or can’t finish a crossword, who should you curse – your teachers or your parents? Well according to the latest evidence, you really should blame both. Researchers have found that up to half of our intelligence (or lack of it) is inherited.

They examined the blood of more than 3,500 people from England and Scotland for half a million genetic markers – tiny changes in their DNA.

Analysis of these results and those of intelligence tests completed by the study’s participants revealed that 40 per cent of the differences in ‘crystallised-type intelligence’, the ability to acquire knowledge and skills over the years, were in the genes.

So-called fluid-type intelligence, the ability to reason and think abstractly under pressure, was governed by genetics to an even greater extent. Some 51 per cent of a person’s ability to ‘think outside the box’ is down to DNA, the journal Molecular Psychiatry reports.

The research, made possible by a new type of genetic analysis pioneered by Peter Visscher of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia, points to numerous genes being involved.

Lead researcher Professor Ian Deary, of the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘Individual differences in intelligence are strongly associated with many important life outcomes, including educational and occupational attainments, income, health and lifespan.’

However, he added that the study’s results ‘unequivocally confirm that a substantial proportion of individual differences in human intelligence is due to genetic variation’. He hopes to unlock the secrets of those whose brains age well, with a view to helping others stay sharp as they get older.

‘If we can find specific genetic contributions to people’s experience of cognitive ageing, this can suggest the mechanisms by which people differ,’ he said. ‘We are studying genetics to find out how things work.’

Professor Deary added that those dealt a poor hereditary hand should not act as if their fate is sealed, as it is possible for people to overcome their intellectual inheritance.

The research may explain why humans have advanced so much further than chimpanzees, despite their genetic similarity. Simon Underdown, an anthropologist from Oxford Brookes University, said: ‘The devil is clearly in the detail. It is not necessarily that we share the same genes – it is how they interact with other genes that controls intelligence.

‘Human intelligence is a stunning product of our evolution and this brilliantly demonstrates that the genetic basis for our intelligence is not the result of a simple mutation in a single gene. ‘It moves away from the old-fashioned idea that there may be a gene or a couple of genes for intelligence. It looks as if there are lots and lots of genes across the chromosomes.’

SOURCE. Academic journal article here

That last paragraph is if anything a bit understated. I have been pointing out for years that high IQ seems usually to be the outcome of general biological good functioning. "To him that hath, more will be given him", as a very wise man once said


The "Obama Law" Devastates Impoverished People in the World's Second Poorest Country, The Congo

People are going hungry, pulling their children out of school due to poverty, and joining criminal gangs to make ends meet in the poorest region of the Congo, the world’s second-poorest country.

Residents of this African nation attribute this economic devastation to what they call “the Obama Law” — provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial “reform” law backed by Obama that have created a virtual embargo on minerals produced in the Congo’s desperately-poor mining towns. As David Aronson notes in The New York Times:
The “Loi Obama” or Obama Law — as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act of 2010 has become known in the region — includes an obscure provision that requires public companies to indicate what measures they are taking to ensure that minerals in their supply chain don’t benefit warlords in conflict-ravaged Congo. . . the Dodd-Frank law has had unintended and devastating consequences, as I saw firsthand on a trip to eastern Congo this summer. The law has brought about a de facto embargo on the minerals mined in the region, including tin, tungsten and the tantalum that is essential for making cellphones.

The smelting companies that used to buy from eastern Congo have stopped. No one wants to be tarred with financing African warlords — especially the glamorous high-tech firms like Apple and Intel that are often the ultimate buyers of these minerals. It’s easier to sidestep Congo than to sort out the complexities of Congolese politics — especially when minerals are readily available from other, safer countries.

For locals, however, the law has been a catastrophe. In South Kivu Province, I heard from scores of artisanal miners and small-scale purchasers, who used to make a few dollars a day digging ore out of mountainsides with hand tools. Paltry as it may seem, this income was a lifeline for people in a region that was devastated by 32 years of misrule under the kleptocracy of Mobutu Sese Seko . . . and that is now just beginning to emerge from over a decade of brutal war and internal strife.

The pastor at one church told me that women were giving birth at home because they couldn’t afford the $20 or so for the maternity clinic. Children are dropping out of school because parents can’t pay the fees. Remote mining towns are virtually cut off from the outside world because the planes that once provisioned them no longer land. Most worrying, a crop disease periodically decimates the region’s staple, cassava. Villagers who relied on their mining income to buy food when harvests failed are beginning to go hungry.

Meanwhile, the law is benefiting some of the very people it was meant to single out. The chief beneficiary is Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is nicknamed The Terminator and is sought by the International Criminal Court. Ostensibly a member of the Congolese Army, he is in fact a freelance killer with his own ethnic Tutsi militia, which provides “security” to traders smuggling minerals across the border to neighboring Rwanda. . .

Most of the militias that wreaked havoc between 2003 and 2008 have since been incorporated into the Congolese Army. The two or three of any significance that remain get their money from kidnapping and extortion, not from controlling mining sites or transport routes. The law has not stopped their depredations. . .

Rarely do local miners, high-level traders, mining companies and civil society leaders agree on an issue. But in eastern Congo, they were unanimous in condemning Dodd-Frank.

Dodd-Frank’s conflict-minerals provisions will also damage U.S. industry to the tune of billions of dollars. It will impose massive compliance costs on automakers and others, as Washington Legal Foundation, Carter Wood, and the National Association of Manufacturers have noted. NAM notes that it will harm the automakers and their suppliers, and estimates that it “will cost U.S. industry between $9-16 billion to implement.”

Its economic harm to the Congo’s poor people was entirely predictable. It was predicted by observers like Laura Seay, a professor of political science at Morehouse College, who recently noted that “because it is almost impossible to verify whether minerals sourced from the [Congo] or its neighbors are truly conflict-free, electronics companies now have a strong incentive to source minerals elsewhere, leaving Congolese miners unemployed.” She pointed out “the near-impossibility of creating a reliable tracing scheme in a place where almost every public official can be bribed” and its inevitable consequence, “a de facto boycott on minerals from” countries like the Congo.

This is just one of countless economically-destructive provisions contained in the Dodd-Frank law, which is a 2315-page laundry-list of special interest giveways that contains little real reform, and instead contains a vast array of payoffs and favors for special interest groups like trial lawyers.

Civil rights commissioners and economists criticized it for containing racially discriminatory provisions. Dodd-Frank did nothing to reform the biggest bailout recipients, the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even though Administration officials like Treasury Secretary Geithner later admitted they were at the “core” of “what went wrong” in the financial crisis. Major provisions of Dodd-Frank have been criticized for violating the constitutional separation of powers, equal protection, and property rights.



Newsweak tries to take down Michelle Bachman and even NOW is pissed

Her eyes don't look crazy to me -- she looks more like she's amused or amazed by the Leftist idiots, as well she might be --JR

The National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill called the cover 'sexist' and referred to a simple test by the group's founder Gloria Steinem to explain how they got to that conclusion - would the magazine do the same to a man.

'Who has ever called a man "The King of Rage?" Basically what Newsweek magazine - and this is important, what Newsweek magazine, not a blog, Newsweek magazine - what they are saying of a woman who is a serious contender for president of the United States of America…They are basically casting her as a nut job,' O'Neill said.

MailOnline revealed on Monday how conservative commentators believe there is a conspiracy among the liberal media to discredit the Tea Party-aligned congresswoman from Minnesota by making it look like she's nuts.

Fox News Channel contributor and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote on Monday: 'Seriously, Tina Brown? Yes, I’m talking about you, Oxford University-educated Newsweek/Daily Beast editor Tina Brown. 'You’ve resorted to recycling bottom-of-the-barrel moonbat photo cliches about conservative female public figures and their enraged “crazy eyes?” Really?'

Miss Malkin said the liberal media has a fetish for demonising conservative women and their looks which goes back years. She cited USA Today altering a photo in 2005 of then-GOP Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to demonise her eyes.

'Under the editorial control of Tina Brown, the rice paper magazine barely struggles against its bias towards conservative women to view them with anything other than contempt.'



Lying propaganda has turned a small GOP victory into a big defeat

In Don Marquis' classic satirical book, "Archy and Mehitabel," Mehitabel the alley cat asks plaintively, "What have I done to deserve all these kittens?"

That seems to be the pained reaction of the Obama administration to the financial woes that led to the downgrading of America's credit rating, for the first time in history.

There are people who see no connection between what they have done and the consequences that follow. But Barack Obama is not likely to be one of them. He is a savvy politician who will undoubtedly be satisfied if enough voters fail to see a connection between what he has done and the consequences that followed.

To a remarkable extent, he has succeeded, with the help of his friends in the media and the Republicans' failure to articulate their case. Polls find more people blaming the Republicans for the financial crisis than are blaming the President.

Why was there a financial crisis in the first place? Because of runaway spending that sent the national debt up against the legal limit. But when all the big spending bills were being rushed through Congress, the Democrats had such an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress that nothing the Republicans could do made the slightest difference.

Yet polls show that many people today are blaming the Republicans for the country's financial problems. But, by the time Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, and thus became involved in negotiations over raising the national debt ceiling, the spending which caused that crisis in the first place had already been done -- and done by Democrats.

Had the Republicans gone along with President Obama's original request for a "clean" bill -- one simply raising the debt ceiling without any provisions about controlling federal spending -- would that have spared the country the embarrassment of having its government bonds downgraded by Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency?

To believe that would be to believe that it was the debt ceiling, rather than the runaway spending, that made Standard & Poor's think that we were no longer as good a credit risk for buyers of U.S. government bonds. In other words, to believe that is to believe that a Congressional blank check for continued record spending would have made Standard & Poor's think that we were a better credit risk.

If that is true, then why is Standard & Poor's still warning that it might have to downgrade America's credit rating yet again? Is that because of the national debt ceiling or because of the likelihood of continued runaway spending?

The national debt ceiling is just one of the many false assurances that the government gives the voting public. The national debt ceiling has never actually stopped the spending that causes the national debt to rise to the point where it is getting near that ceiling. The ceiling simply gets raised when that happens.

Just a week before the budget deal was made at the eleventh hour, it looked like the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives had scored a victory by getting the President and the Congressional Democrats to give up the idea of raising the tax rates -- and to cut spending instead. But now that the details are coming out, that "victory" looks very temporary, if not illusory.

The price of getting that deal has been having the Republicans agree to sitting on a special bipartisan Congressional committee that will either come to an agreement on spending cuts before Thanksgiving or have the budgets of both the Defense Department and Medicare cut drastically.

Since neither side can afford to be blamed for a disaster like that, this virtually guarantees that the Republicans will have to either go along with whatever new spending and taxing that the Democrats demand or risk losing the 2012 election by sharing the blame for another financial disaster.

In short, the Republicans have now been maneuvered into being held responsible for the spending orgy that Democrats alone had the votes to create. Republicans have been had -- and so has the country. The recent, short-lived budget deal turns out to be not even a Pyrrhic victory for the Republicans. It has the earmarks of a Pyrrhic defeat.



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)


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

China outraged by U.S. "funny money" policies

"The alarm has rung," said an English-language commentary yesterday by the state-run and party-directed Xinhua news agency. "It is time for the naughty boys in Washington to stop chicken games before they cause more damages."

China is the biggest single creditor to the US government; it has $US1.2 trillion invested in US government bonds. They're US bonds, but paid for with Chinese money. No one will dispute Beijing's right to be critical on this.

"China," said the Saturday editorial by Xinhua, "has every right now to demand the US to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets." Quite right.

The US ratings agency Standard & Poor's said it was downgrading the creditworthiness of US government bonds in part because America's "policymakers don't have the ability to put the public finances of the US on a sustainable footing".

This would make any investor angry. In this sense, China's leaders are merely joining the chorus of 72 per cent of Americans who, according to Pew Research, are critical of the US political system's handling of its debt ceiling. But there are four features of China's reaction that mark it out.

First, it's the toughest criticism the potential superpower has yet made of the existing superpower.

Second, the criticism goes beyond an expression of concern for China's money. It prescribes what the US should do with its money. In an editorial which China scholars said could only have been published with the consent of the national leadership, Xinhua said the US must cut its "gigantic military expenditure and bloated social welfare costs".

Pressing its advantage in America's moment of vulnerability, China said: "International supervision over the issue of US dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country."

"What we are seeing here," says Hugh White, a strategic studies expert at the Australian National University, "is a much more strident tone than anything we have seen before".

So far, all of this commentary is published in English. But there is another level of Chinese reaction that has been invisible to English speakers.

"There's a real difference between the Chinese domestic propaganda and the foreign propaganda on this," observes a sinologist from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, Anne-Marie Brady. "The tone it's adopting towards the US in English is, 'We're telling off America.' In Chinese, it is much more crowing and gloating." The heading on the lead article in Xinhua's Mandarin version translates as, "The world will never trust America again," Brady says, "which is fairly heavy stuff."

In the famous strategic guidance he gave his comrades in the Communist Party, the father of China's modernisation, Deng Xiaoping, said: "Hide your strength, bide your time, and do what you can."

Brady says: "In the last 10 years, particularly since the financial crisis hit in 2008, there's been a shift towards the last part, 'do what you can'," in the behaviour of the Chinese leadership. "That's code for standing up for China's interests. But this is looking to be beyond that. It's quite harsh."

It's also pretty brave of China to make the boast that US government debt, which, on its new, lower assessment from Standard & Poor's, is rated AA+, is untrustworthy. Because the same agency rates Chinese government debt as A+, which is three rankings lower. And this leads to the third feature of China's criticism: its potential effect.

"It's probably pretty hard for the Chinese to resist the temptation to gloat," White says, "but from the US point of view, this would confirm US anxieties about China.

"China wants to end up on top," White suggests, "but the secret is to exercise great patience. This tells the US that China is out to get them. Nothing would galvanise the US to get its act together better than the sense that China is out to eat their lunch. Strategically, gloating is unwise."

It is no doubt easier, and much more fun, for Chinese officialdom to rejoice in America's woes than to confront the difficulties in fixing its own.



Obama was once wiser than he is now

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a Sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. ...Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here'. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and Grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

The above quote consists of two excerpts from a long speech delivered by Barack Obama during a Senate debate over raising the national debt limit on March 16, 2006. Along with his entire party, Senator Obama voted against the increase, which passed nonetheless with overwhelming Republican support.



What not to do in an economic crisis

In 1971, President Nixon convened his experts only to produce a plan that ruined the economic prospects of the decade

Head for Camp David. Convene meetings. Take advice from economists, your Cabinet, all the experts. Then put forward a giant new economic program, maybe including some dramatic form of shock therapy that will calm financial markets and create jobs.

That's the kind of response Americans are used to seeing in a president when the nation is suddenly confronted with bad news like last week's market turmoil and the U.S. credit downgrade by Standard & Poor's. But the results of such a response to economic alarm 40 Augusts ago suggest this isn't the way to go.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon convened his experts only to produce a protocol that ruined the economic prospects of the decade.

The urgent case that sent Nixon to Camp David that August was the dollar. At the time, the U.S. was on the gold-exchange standard, under which the price of gold was fixed at $35 an ounce and foreign governments could withdraw gold from American banks. The U.S. had long held the position it would maintain $10 billion in gold stock. Foreigners were concerned that U.S. growth was sluggish and began to take gold elsewhere. "Monetary Reserves of the U.S. Declined $505 Million in May," read a June headline.

By July, the reserve was officially below the $10 billion figure, and the price of gold on international markets rose to $42 an ounce. The U.S. needed a strong dollar, partly to pay the costs of the Vietnam War. Joblessness reached 6 percent. Politically, Nixon stood where President Barack Obama stands now: just 15 months away from elections.

Fearing a run on the dollar and accelerating inflation, Nixon summoned to Camp David his Cabinet and the wisest, most eminent people he knew, names many still revere today: Arthur Burns, Herbert Stein, Paul Volcker, George Shultz, Paul McCracken. Nixon closeted his advisers at Camp David, where they scribbled a plan together, emerging euphoric to be photographed by Life magazine.

On Sunday night television, Nixon presented his New Economic Policy, a cynical plan that helped his political prospects at substantial cost to the long-term economy. He immediately closed the gold window, ending the convertibility of dollars to gold. He imposed temporary wage and price controls. He asked Congress for a tax credit that was frontloaded for maximum impact pre-election, even as he slapped a surcharge on imports.

Many of the minds at Camp David, and at other advice sessions, opposed components of the plan. Shultz, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, fought the wage and price controls. But the economists eventually went along, telling themselves that concessions were the price of being policy makers.

The short-term results of the New Economic Policy were as splendid as hoped. The Consumer Price Index, now manacled, dutifully declined to 1.7 percent from 4.1 percent the preceding year. Unemployment didn't rise.

By July 1972, four months before voters would choose between Nixon and Democrat George McGovern, Stein, then chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, held a press conference at which he claimed second-quarter data was "the best combination of economic numbers to be released on one day in all of history, or at least the Christian era." (Reporters politely protected him by editing this down to "the best results in a decade.") Gross domestic product for 1972 grew more than 5 percent. McGovern didn't stand a chance.

But the long-term outcome, as Stein, an admirably honest thinker, later noted, was abominable. In the post-Nixon years, unemployment started rising again. International markets recognized that without the threat of gold withdrawals to keep officials' spending in check, the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Treasury might inflate with impunity.

Inflation therefore also accelerated, as Stein noted regretfully in his memoir, "Presidential Economics." The combination of inflation and unemployment was something so novel that Americans created a new word to describe it: stagflation. The homebuyer paid for the euphoria of Camp David with the worst mortgage interest rates in the history of Christianity, or at least the postwar period: more than 18 percent in 1981.

Only when Volcker, who became Federal Reserve chairman in 1979, started acting as a sort of human gold standard could Nixon's conceit be undone. Volcker forced interest rates up over 20 percent.

There are three takeaway messages from 1971. The first is that economists are arm candy for chief executives: Their appearance beside the president may be reassuring, but it doesn't guarantee strong policy. Economics itself is often mere window-dressing for campaign programs.

The second is that reforms dictated by crisis-intervention teams make for poor long-term policy. Short-term gimmicks, stimuli for employment and automakers -- all are pretty much useless. The best thing the Obama administration can do is to stay clear of the market, avoid election-year panic, and call on Republicans to undertake measures aimed at 2030. If this is unrealistic, then that explains why presidential and congressional approval ratings sank with the market.

Such measures might include commitments to yet smaller budgets and stronger entitlement reforms, or promulgating a new Federal Reserve law that would strip out some of the discretion that Arthur Burns enjoyed, and make the institution more accountable to taxpayers. Something closer to a gold standard would signal to markets that the U.S. is less likely to inflate away its debts in the future. In short, it would show that the debt-ceiling deal earlier this month was only the beginning of a more stable U.S. with a smaller government and a more reliable currency.

Finally: no more shock therapy. The least likely place for real improvements to be written is a self-aggrandizing presidential retreat like Camp David.




The Great Society’s big Medicaid lie: "When Medicaid was first created by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it was characterized as a safety net for the poorest of the poor. In the decades since, the program has expanded dramatically beyond that purpose. Today it claims to offer coverage for 68 million people—nearly one of every four Americans is enrolled in the program. I use the word 'claims' because people under Medicaid are overwhelmingly unable to access quality care, or often any care at all."

Dating site finds conservatives more open-minded: "Match began "weighting" variables differently, according to how users behaved. For example, if conservative users were actually looking at profiles of liberals, the algorithm would learn from that and recommend more liberal users to them. Indeed, says Thombre, "the politics one is quite interesting. Conservatives are far more open to reaching out to someone with a different point of view than a liberal is." That is, when it comes to looking for love, conservatives are more open-minded than liberals."

The destructive evil of price controls: "There is a shortage of cancer drugs, due to the federal government’s price controls. Being a matter of life and death, this is a tragedy of considerable proportions. At the same time, it is completely predictable. There is no reason an intelligent person who has read even the most basic level of economics should not forever grasp the inevitability of such a result. Yet the Obama administration seeks to extend this destructive program to more drugs via Medicare D."

Flights from nowhere: "As a resident of Illinois, I'd never had any particular desire to fly from McCook, Nebraska, to Denver. But lately, I've been looking for an opportunity. Turns out the federal government is willing to pay me a handsome fee to do it. Oh, I wouldn't get the cash directly. But the Department of Transportation provides more than $2 million to subsidize that particular route, which works out to about $1,000 for every passenger. My fare, meanwhile, would be less than $150."


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)


Monday, August 08, 2011

Turn around our economy? It's not really that hard

Neal Boortz

Well now! That was quite a ride last week for the American economy, don’t you think? We raised the debt ceiling and within 36 hours America’s debt exceeded our GDP. Then there was the stock market … yeah, that very same stock market that Chairman Obama told us had “come roaring back” in his last State of the Union message. All of those roaring gains for the year were erased in one day.

We then top off the week with a Standard & Poor’s downgrade of America’s credit rating – the first downgrade EVER! Well howdy! Now there’s some change you can believe in. A change for the worse … but then it’s been a constant change for the worse since the dumb masses put this unqualified (but clean looking and eloquent) man into the presidency.

Would you hire someone who hates to cook to be the executive chef at a fine restaurant? Why not? We were mindless enough to hire someone who detests capitalism and free enterprise to oversee our economy, why not hire someone who hates to cook to run our kitchen? And now we profess to be surprised at how things turned out?

OK .. I hear you. “All you ever do is complain, Boortz. What great ideas do YOU have to get our economy going again?” Well, as a matter of fact, I’m glad you asked … I do have some ideas. I’m going to help turn things around right here. And to make things more difficult, I’m going to do this without cutting spending or raising taxes … and I’ll do it backwards and in high heels.

Ready? Here we go; step-by-step.

1. Do you have any idea how much one trillion is? The average human life span is around 2.8 billion seconds. If someone was just now approaching their one trillionth second of life they would have been born in 29,000 BC. NOW do you have a grip on a trillion? Good --- because first we need to address the trillions of dollars of American-owned wealth that are legally resting in overseas accounts where they are safe from American confiscatory taxation. Declare a tax amnesty. Allow that money to come home to work in our economy without taxing it. Can you imagine what a few trillion dollars pumped into the private sector and not into political vote-buying schemes might do for our economy?

2. Thanks to generations of government education most Americans don’t realize that corporations and businesses don’t pay taxes. They collect taxes from customers, employees and shareholders and merely pass them on to the federal government. All wealth in this country is held by individuals, and all taxes are paid by individuals. So let’s get smart and reduce business income taxes immediately --- especially corporate income taxes. To do otherwise is to operate on the belief that the federal government would do a better job of spending this money (shrimp on treadmills?) than would the people who actually did the work and earned it.

3. We’re currently wasting around $100 billion a year on the Department of Education. There has not even been a hint of an improvement in government schools since this useless support system for teacher’s unions was created. Abolish the Education Department and send that $100 billion to the states with the mandate that it be used specifically for education programs to prepare young adults for employment upon graduation from high school and not for college prep. We have far too many English, social studies, LGBT and history majors running around now whose workdays consist of endless repetitions of the phrase “would you like French fries with that?

4. End the hideously expensive war on drugs. At the state and federal level we are spending over $1,700 per second in drug war costs. There’s over $15 billion a year to be saved here. Studies have shown that treatment is a more effective means of reducing drug usage than criminalization and incarceration. Bonus: We reduce crime and make our streets safer.

5. Repeal Davis-Bacon. Allow governments to pay prevailing private sector wages, not inflated union wages, on public works projects. The tax money set aside for these projects would go a lot further, more people would be hired, and the more work could be done.

6. Repeal ObamaCare and the Chris-Dodd consumer finance reform act. Both of these hideous pieces of legislation have been shown to be jobs killers. There is no right to health care, and caveat emptor should still mean something.

7. Immediately halt all regulatory rule-making processes at the federal level. We have enough regulations now to get the job done. More than enough. Businessmen aren’t hiring or expanding because they don’t know what the rules are going to be. Would you obligate yourself for a mortgage if the lender told you they would just fill in the terms later? Yeah … some of you probably would; especially Obama voters.

8. Eliminate capital gains taxes. Too many of us are sitting on investments that have pretty much maxed out, but we won’t cash out because we don’t want to pay the tax. Eliminating these taxes would allow a free flow of investment capital that would enable countless new business startups … and that means new jobs.

9. Make every state a right-to-work state. Completely outlaw compulsory unionism. Nobody should ever have to join a union in order to work. 10. Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. It’s another jobs killer and inhibits corporate growth and profitability. Google it.

11. Institute loser pays at the federal level and urge states to do the same. This means that if you file a lawsuit against someone and you win, good for you. If you lose, you pay the other side’s legal fees. I used to be a member of the American Trial Lawyer’s Association, (now called The American Association for Justice --- bwahahahahah), and I can tell you that many trial lawyers look at filing a lawsuit as comparable to buying a lottery ticket. Not much to lose, but a lot to gain. Put some risk into this equation.

12. Eliminate most business and professional licensing requirements. Why should you need the state’s permission to braid hair or to match pillows with drapes? And while we’re at it find that loon in Florida who said that ending the licensing of interior designers would cost 80,000 lives a year and put her in a glass cube in the Museum of Idiocy. If there isn’t such a museum, start one. It will have to be a huge facility.

13. Send a balanced budget amendment to the states. Most states have to operate under just such a restriction, and they’ll be more than happy to see to it that the federal government does as well.

14. Last – but certainly not least – set a date certain for the expiration of our current tax code. That will force congress to come up with a better plan. I happen to have some ideas along those lines as well.

More ideas? Of course I have more ideas. But they won’t give me any more room here. Stay tuned.



New Obamacare Violations of Personal Liberty

Star Parker

Who can forget that rare moment of honesty during the campaign to pass Obamacare when Nancy Pelosi said “We have to pass the bill in order for you to find out what’s in it”?

Now we have it and almost daily there are new revelations about the staggering extent to which our private lives and individual freedoms have been stomped on.

We learn now that free birth control in the form of contraceptives, morning after pills, and sterilization is part of the grand Obamacare socialist dream-come-true.

The health insurance that Obamacare mandates that all employers provide and that all citizens acquire must pay 100 percent for these birth control products and services, with no deductible or co-pays. Birth control gets more preferential treatment than cancer or heart disease.

Liberals say government should be kept out of your bedroom. What they mean by this is that it shouldn’t interfere with what you do there, not that it shouldn’t force taxpayers to pay for it.

The provision mandating “preventive services” for women was grafted onto the thousand plus page bill, as it passed through the Senate, by Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski.

After Obamacare became law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius farmed out this general directive to the Institute of Medicine to determine what such “preventive services” should be.

This is cast as an arms length objective procedure. But in Washington, nothing is objective. There are only interests.

The Institute of Medicine’s website says it’s “an independent non-profit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public.”

But this “independent” organization gets 55 percent of its funding from the federal government. And it also gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.

So, after months of lobbying by Planned Parenthood, financed in part by the $300 million dollars it gets each year from us taxpayers, the Institute of Medicine offered its “unbiased” recommendations that “preventive services” for women include birth control pills and morning after pills.

Obamacare is a masterpiece in its achievement of leaving no corner of our personal freedoms unviolated. It hijacks our pocketbook, our autonomy of action, and our conscience. The result is to leave us economically and morally impoverished.

A tiny and narrow exemption is carved out so that non-profits with a defined religious mission, whose employees and target audience shares those same values, are not forced to provide insurance that includes free birth control services.

Liberals are committed to religious freedom as long as those religious values do not conflict with their liberal values. Which, practically, means all religion.

Meanwhile, what we have is another in a vast universe of mandated new health care entitlements that is Obamacare. It is the convoluted logic of the liberal mind to use government power to mandate and subsidize free goodies, to sever all links between individual behavior and its consequences, and then claim this will lead to lower costs and more efficiency.

It is no wonder that the financial markets have been tanking since the passage of the debt ceiling bill. That bill simply slaps a band-aid on a fiscal rupture that will start gushing red ink as soon as Obamacare kicks in full tilt in 2014.

The perverse truth is that Obamacare, sold by our president and congressional Democrats as fiscally responsible, is exactly the opposite.

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts huge deficits and growing debt, double what they are today, driven primarily by health care spending, fueled by Obamacare mandated entitlements.

Michele Bachmann was onto something by demanding repeal of Obamacare as a condition for increasing the debt limit.

Americans need to sober up. The challenges facing us are formidable. Repeal of Obamacare is on a growing and most challenging list of things to do.



America no longer the nation of the Self-Made Man

And Obama is replacing him with socialist man

The idea of the self-made man, the rugged individualist, armed with nothing but a superior work ethic, character, and talent has vanished from Obama’s vision of winning the future. Clearly, the president does not understand that in his bid to bludgeon Republicans into agreeing to additional tax hikes, he was simultaneously signaling his contempt and hostility for the self-made man. Amidst the bloviated debt ceiling talks was a stark reminder of just how badly Team Obama has damaged the nation.

Once upon a time, the image of the rugged individual, a person armed with nothing but a powerful idea, hard work ethic and the determination to persevere, was revered in our country. The notion that success or failure is dependent upon the character, work ethic and industry of each citizen has served as the bedrock American political creed for our nation’s entire history.

No longer. America has been transformed. Last week, Obama reminded us that millions of Americans are now completely dependent upon various government subsidy programs, without which, he says, they could not survive.

48.5 million Americans are dependent upon the government for food stamps to feed themselves. Another 55 million Americans are dependent upon social security. 21 million receive disability assistance subsidies. Still another 50.7 million need the government to provide their healthcare, with 60 million Americans on Medicaid.

Over 5 million Americans need the government to provide direct financial support for housing. Another 19.5 million require tuition assistance from the government to be able to go to college, while yet another 700,000 needed assistance to buy a car through Obama’s Cash for Clunkers. According to Obama’s philosophy, even mundane tasks such as weatherproofing windows and doors was, apparently beyond the ability of Americans to accomplish without direct government assistance.

Obama talked incessantly about these millions of Americans, now grown dependent upon government checks, as a way to increase political pressure on Republicans and force them to agree to a bad deal on the debt ceiling.

Obama wanted to remind Republicans and Tea Party loyalists that millions of Americans were going to be adversely impacted if government checks were not issued on time.

Add up all the millions now grown dependent upon the expanding entitlement system and Americans are left with the sobering fact that nearly 50% of our entire population is now dependent upon the government for some kind of subsidy for their food, housing, education and healthcare.

Instead of the idea of the self-made man, Obama tries to motivate Americans with a disturbing notion that government handouts, which until recently carried a negative stigma, are their right, and that entitlements should be showered upon anyone with almost any need.

Instead of success being earned through hard work and playing by the rules, Obama seems to believe that the government should provide. So, it is not surprising that Obama has already concluded that there is nothing morally wrong with pandering to the 50% of the population now dependent upon Team Obama, while taking money and opportunity away from others.

How far we have fallen! Government dependency and “getting something for nothing” carried with it a sense of shame. Benjamin Franklin advised anyone coming to America to be industrious and prepared to work hard. Franklin’s notions of thrift, self-improvement and industry were an essential part of the early Founders’ Protestant work ethic upon which our nation was founded.

Alexis DeTocqueville recognized that the American work ethic was the cornerstone of our rapid economic rise and success. Americans, observed DeTocqueville, were a perpetually busy and hard working people--“the notion of labor is therefore presented to the mind on every side as the necessary, natural and honest condition of human existence.”

Early settlers and immigrants to the United Sates were once provided stern warnings that “if you wish a calm and cheerful life, better stay home --the good advice pray and work is nowhere more to the point than in the United States.”

In his excellent book, Who Are We?, Samuel Huntington quotes Cuban American Alex Alvarez who, as recently as 1999, warned new Cuban immigrants of what they would confront in America. “Welcome to the capitalist system. Each of you is responsible for the amount of money you have in your pocket. The Government is not responsible for whether you eat, or whether you are poor or rich. The government doesn’t guarantee you a job or a house.”

In a shockingly short period of time, Team Obama has almost destroyed the American creed of hard work, industry, talent, thrift and delayed gratification. As a result of Obama’s policies, nearly 50% of our citizens are now encouraged or seduced into finding some subsidy program that is funded through the forced generosity of others. If no such program exists, Team Obama has promised to create one.

Democrats, led by Obama, are not happy with Republicans these days and they view the Tea Party as a group of jihadists. But Obama’s real war is on the American Dream and the idea of the Self-made man.


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)